§ (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the chief constable of a police force may, if he has reasonable grounds for believing—
- (a) that any registered club is being so managed or carried on as to give rise to a ground of objection to the renewal of its certificate of registration, being one of the grounds of objection specified in section one hundred and seventy-four of the principal Act; or
- (b) that an offence under the principal Act or this Act has been or is being committed in any registered club;
§ (2) A member of a police force may, when acting by virtue of an authority given under subsection (1) of this section, be accompanied by another member of that force.
§ (3) If any person fails to admit a member of a police force who demands entry to the premises of a registered club by virtue of, or of an authority given under, this section or obstructs the entry to the premises of such a member, or if any person fails to allow a member of a police force who has entered any such premises by virtue of, or, of an authority given under, this section to inspect those premises or obstructs such a member in inspecting the premises, he shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction thereof shall be liable to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.
§ (4) The provisions of this section shall be without prejudice to the provisions of section one hundred and seventy-nine of the principal Act (which empowers a justice of the peace or a magistrate in certain circumstances to grant a warrant authorising a constable to enter the premises of a registered club, to search those premises, to seize documents and to take the names and addresses of persons found the re).(Sir M. Galpern.)
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
With this new Clause we can take the next two, that in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) (Police inspection of registered clubs), and that in the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) (Police inspection of clubs), and we can also consider the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock to the Second Schedule, in page 28, line 46, after "(1)", to insert "(a)", and in line 48, at the end, to insert:(b) after the words 'off-sales certificate is in force' there shall be inserted the words or the premises of a registered club' and at the end of the subsection there shall be added the following proviso: 1432 Provided that, in respect of registered clubs, a member of the police force below the rank of inspector shall not exercise any power of entry conferred by this section unless he has previously obtained the authority in writing of a justice of the peace, magistrate or member of a police force of or above the said rank and shall not exercise such power later than eight days from the date of such authority and shall exercise it at such time or times only as may be specified in the authorityThere can, if necessary, be a Division also on the new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
I am glad to see the Secretary of State in his place to listen to what I think is a very important consideration in connection with licensing. There has been a remarkablevolte faceon the part of the Government. Upstairs in Committee the Government moved a new Clause which was to replace the ill-fated Clause 16 and which carried out, more or less, the recommendations of the Guest Committee regarding the inspection of registered clubs. For some reason or another best known to the Government they decided that that was too drastic a measure. We know that as a result of colossal pressure brought to bear upon them by their own political interests, members of their Tory clubs and related clubs of that kind, they decided not to proceed with Clause 16 and brought in what they thought was a compromise Clause.
It was the most fantastic compromise Clause one could have had. I think that they knew before they started that the new Clause which they proposed in Committee was one which would never receive the support either of those in favour of inspecting clubs or of those against the inspection of clubs, and, as was anticipated even by the Government, the Clause was ultimately defeated.
Having introduced, first, Clause 16, which was a reasonable Clause, which, I believe, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) seeks to reintroduce with a minor amendment, and having then dropped it, and then having introduced a compromise Clause on which they were defeated, why do the Government take no action at this stage to introduce a Clause which would in effect carry out what, I think, were the most decisive recommendations of 1433 the Guest Committee? It was a Committee which was sot up by the Government themselves, and they charged the Committee with several duties among which was consideration of the question of the supervision of registered clubs.
A serious aspect of this problem is that the number of registered clubs has grown from 700 in 1938 to 1,245 in 1959. That is a remarkable increase. I shall not now deal with the reasons for the increase. Suffice it to say that they are mainly there for the purpose of selling drink and that to that extent they are welcomed by the drink interests and encouraged in all their various activities.
But that increase is staggering and the Guest Committee itself said:As we have already indicated, we have received a considerable volume of representations to the effect that there is a type of club which exists primarily for the supply of liquor on Sundays.The Committee went on to deal with the question of supervision, saying:It is equally important in our view that they should be subject to the same supervision by the police.That is to say, the same supervision as that to which ordinary public houses and hotels are subject at present.
The Committee went on:This is a matter on which we have received a great deal of evidence and we are entirely satisfied that the existing law makes it unduly difficult for the police to exercise adequate control over the conduct of clubs.At present, the law says that only by the granting of a warrant by a magistrate authorising the inspection of a club, or the seizure of documents in a club, can that action be carried out. For some reason or other clubs have been completely exempted from the kind of supervision exercised by the police over respectable hotels—some of the most respectable in the country—and of the most outstanding, modern and contemporary public houses.
Why do not the Government act in the light of the evidence, and of the recommendations of the Guest Committee? Having made two attempts, why do not the Government make a third attempt, in the hope that something can be done? The Government seemed keen to do something, but now I understand the position to be that, having failed in their efforts, they propose to leave the whole 1434 business alone and to take no further action. Is that a reasonable attitude for a Government to adopt over an important matter, they having referred it to an outstanding Committee which gave the matter great consideration? It is not as though, at the outset, the Government rejected recommendations on these lines. They have had two "stabs" at it, but, because they were unsuccessful in respect of both they are now proposing to act in a childish fashion. They are, in effect, saying, "If you do not want it the way we want it, we will not play with you any more."
The Government make no effort to try to introduce something which would prove acceptable to the House as a whole. Even the Under-Secretary of State said in an offhand way, "Well, we are going to defend this new Clause", as if to say, "If you do not want to have it, we will do nothing at all about it." Why did the Minister fail to pay attention to the recommendations of the Guest Committee, which said, in paragraph 60 of its Report:Under existing law, however, there is already a police right of entry into even the residential accommodation of licensed hotels of the highest standing and repute, and no evidence has been put before us to suggest that this is generally resented or leads to undesirable consequences. We understand in fact that it is very seldom that fault is found with the method of police supervision of that type of establishment; no doubt this is because the police show a considerable measure of tact and discretion in performing this duty. In our view the genuine club would not find police supervision burdensome and would have no more reason than the genuine hotel has to resent a police visit from time to time, whereas"—and this is very significant—we can conceive of no more salutary method of preventing breaches of the law in the less strictly conducted type of establishment.The new Clause submitted by the Government during the Committee stage was not accepted because it was a farcical proposition. Under its provisions. a chief constable, having satisfied himself that club members were misbehaving, would issue a warning twelve weeks in advance, and for no shorter period than eight days, that he was proposing to send somebody to inspect the club if they did not behave themselves. If there was still reason to believe that the misbehaviour was continuing, a police sergeant would appear on the scene.
1435 Obviously, after a warning of that kind over such a length of time, the club members would have had an opportunity to "pull up their socks" and become paragons of virtue, so that no one would be able to find fault with them. Afterwards, they could misbehave themselves again and the chief constable would have to go through the same warning procedure all over again. There was no limit to the number of warnings which could be given. It was not a case that, having given one warning, a second one would not be given. It was necessary for the chief constable to go through the same procedure, using the same machinery, each time.
My Clause represents a compromise. I seek to embody within its provisions some of the features of the "substitution Clause" introduced during the Committee stage by the Government, and recommendations of the Guest Committee. I have compromised with the terms of the old Clause 16 which gave free entry to a police inspector into licensed premises without any warning whatever, by introducing a proviso that such inspection shall not be authorised unless, as it says in the new Clause, a chief constable,has reasonable grounds for believing … that any registered club is being so managed or carried on as to give rise to a ground of objection to the renewal of its certificate of registration …I am "marrying" the old Clause 16 to this new Clause—in an endeavour to produce an "offspring" which will be acceptable to the Government—by saying that there will not be indiscriminate, unregulated free entry to clubs by police officers, such as the Guest Committee recommended. I am narrowing it to the extent that only if a chief constable had reasonable grounds for believing that misbehaviour was occurring would he authorise an inspection by someone not below the rank of sergeant, not an ordinary police constable as at present. I am glad to be able to move this Clause, because I wish to overcome the present difficulties and desire that the recommendations of the Guest Committee should have some bearing and be recognised by the House during the formulation of the provisions in the Bill.
We know that quite a lot of unseemly conduct and a great deal of misbehaviour—to put it mildly—occurs in a number of registered clubs. Are we, 1436 in effect, to say in the Bill—the Guest Committee having recommended supervision by the police of public houses and licensed hotels—that the clubs are to be told, "You are such well-behaved boys that we shall not even inspect you"? That would encourage club members to defy every form of the licensing laws. Quite a lot of misbehaviour goes on, but it is difficult to establish that fact. I hope, therefore, that attention will be paid to the recommendations of the Guest Committee and that the desires of the Government, thwarted as they were during the Committee stage proceedings, will be resuscitated. I hope that the House will agree that this may be achieved by enabling a police officer, of no lower rank than a sergeant, to visit these clubs.
I am not saying that I am happy about the wording of the Clause. I prefer the original Clause 16. But I am anxious to effect a compromise and to be helpful. I agree that there should be some supervision; and that where a chief constable had reasonable grounds for believing that a misdemeanour had been committed, or misbehaviour was occurring, he would, without the warning originally proposed—which was a stupid proposition—authorise a member of the police force, not below the rank of sergeant, to carry out an inspection. That would contribute to the proper and better operation of the provisions pertaining to registered clubs, especially in view of the many additional facilities which they have been given by the new Clauses introduced by the Secretary of State.
In view of the mildness of the provisions in the Clause, and the desire to weld opinion on both sides of the House, I hope that hon. Members will agree to give the Clause a Second Reading.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Commander C. E. M. Donaldson (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
There are certain traditions of this House which relate to the occupancy of the Chair, not only in the main Chamber but in the Committee on a Bill upstairs. I am well aware of the fact that if an hon. Member is designated to occupy the Chair for the Committee stage of a Bill upstairs it is not considered appropriate or proper that he should address 1437 the House on Second Reading of a Bill. I was in that position in relation to the Bill we are considering. Therefore, on Second Reading I deprived myself by precept of the House from declaring my feelings in relation to police inspection of clubs.
Being the occupant of the Chair in Committee upstairs, naturally I had to consider points of order during discussions which ensued over what appeared to me a very long period of sittings. If it had been a precept of the House that those who had occupied the Chair in Committee should also be considered to be acting somewhat improperly if they addressed the House when it considered the Bill on Report and Third Reading. I would not have taken part now. That, however, is not a precept of the House, nor is it considered that anyone on the Panel of Chairmen must by precept refrain from speaking on Report.
Had I been able to speak on Second Reading and not been the occupant of the Clair in Committee upstairs in the deliberations on this Bill, I would have spoken and voted against Clause 16 as it was originally introduced. I should have found it difficult to agree to the Government's substitute new Clause which was introduced when the original Clause 16 was suspended during the consideration upstairs. I should hesitate to rise even now in relation to the new Clause put before the House by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) if I did not feel deeply on the subject or if I were in any way inhibited by the rules of the House.
I have based my thinking, however, not necessarily on the observations of what may or may not transpire in Glasgow where the hon. Member has his seat and where he has held the distinguished position of Lord Provost. I have based my thinking, as one is inclined to do, on my own constituency. In Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles there are 41 registered clubs. I have had representations from more than 30 of those clubs, all of them reputable and all of them comprising members who are people in various walks of life.
In particular I draw the attention of the House to the clubs in the largest town in my constituency, Hawick. I 1438 had representations from nine clubs in Hawick. They were united in feeling resentment against Clause 16 as it was originally introduced. The members of those nine clubs are 3,000 of my constituents. In the main they would be considered in other clubs to be members of working men's clubs. They felt resentment that their clubs should cease to be private and should be open to inspection as any licensed hotel may be.
I do not propose at this stage to go into detailed argument why they felt as they did, but they certainly represented their feelings strongly to me and I represented them to my right hon. Friend. Once I was nominated for the Chair of the Committee it was not right or reasonable that I should take further action, but I rise now to oppose the proposition and the new Clause put forward by the hon. Member for Shettleston.
§ Sir M. Galpern
May we take it that Jedburgh is in the constituency of the hon. and gallant Member? I had a letter from a minister in Jedburgh supporting inspection of registered clubs.
§ Commander Donaldson
That may well be. Jedburgh is certainly in my constituency. I wonder, however, if the hon. Member has received any communication from Jedburgh Conservative Club, which in the main consists of what he would think are, and I believe are, decent, honest working folk. They work in the mills of Jedburgh and they resent the thought of police intrusion in a private club.
I am not competent to speak about Glasgow, for I do not know the conditions of some of the registered clubs there, but I do know the conditions of clubs in my constituency. I am sure that if the House were to reverse the decision taken in Committee there would be even more resentment, not only against the Government, but against hon. Members on both sides of the House who supported a new Clause to allow police to intrude in private clubs. I have in mind the remarks of the Lord Chancellor in another place when the English Bill was going through Parliament. I should have thought that Scots Members of Parliament would have thought deeply before they imposed a condition which was not applicable in 1439 England and was excluded from the English Bill.
It is my firm belief—my right hon. Friend may wish to consider this when he replies to the debate that there are already provisions in Scottish law which are quite competent to deal with the recalcitrant club whose members abuse the law. I am certain that the law in Scotland is much more easily enforced than the similar law in England. I am convinced that there is ample provision to deal with the misconduct of clubs or members of clubs. They can be dealt with adequately by chief constables and other members of the police force in Scotland. Therefore, I must raise my voice against acceptance of this new Clause.
§ Mr. Ross
If things were as easy as the hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) suggests, he may take it from me that we should not be pursuing this battle on the subject of inspection. It is not so easy for chief constables or police forces to act as he would wish the House to believe it is. Will he tell me Why the chief constables, including the chief constable of his area, request that this power should be granted to them, and that this change should be made?
The hon. and gallant Member will be aware of the existing power Which is provided in Section 179 of the principal Act, which states:If a justice of the peace or magistrate is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing—(a) that any registered club is being so managed or carried on as to give rise to a ground of objection to the renewal of of its certificate of registration,…or,(b) that an offence under this Act has been or is being committed in any registered club;he may by warrant authorise a constable to enter the premises of such club …and so on. It is not so easy to get a warrant because evidence has to be obtained on oath. Secondly, proceedings in relation to a club taken under that provision would be very much more offensive to the people of Ha wick, and certainly to people in Kilmarnock, than what is recommended in the procedure suggested by this new Clause.
§ Commander Donaldson
The operative words, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) underlined, are, "on oath". I should sooner that the members of clubs in my three counties and the troubles to which they are subjected were dealt with by information on oath than by what might well be considered to be information by tittle-tattle or such other things as come to the attention of the police. It was on that point that my constituents felt deeply. The point on which my constituents mainly object is that of the police entering clubs without warrants and without proof.
§ Mr. Ross
I am afraid that I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He is being unfair to the police and his constituents. The alternative to a procedure such as this is that the police get into clubs in disguise and we have snoopers getting information in that way before proceeding to get evidence. That is a most undesirable procedure, and we want to get rid of it.
I am distressed by the Government's actions in this respect. The Secretary of State was the first to appreciate that the Bill aroused less controversy in Scotland than anyone had expected. One of the reasons for that was that there was give and take between people holding very strong views one way and another; there was more or less a balance of compromise. People were asked why they supported a Bill which permitted considerable extensions of Sunday drinking in Scotland. Even the Churches were prepared to accept the Bill. This was because the Government were accepting this recommendation of the Guest Committee. But by their action now, the Government lead me to feel that I must vote against the Bill, because they have upset that balance of compromise and have done so in a shocking way.
Here I should apologise to the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) who interrupted earlier when I was speaking about clubs and about letters which I had received. I mistook this Clause for the earlier Clause dealing with a change of hours. I received letters from clubs inside and outside the constituency in relation to this matter. I wrote to them and said that I was prepared to yield to the balance of 1441 argument, but in fact we never had a chance to consider Clause 16. A day or so before we reached it the Government presented us with a new Clause, and the decision on that new Clause was taken before we discussed Clause 16. The new Clause was unacceptable to people who did not want inspection of any kind and unacceptable to people who wanted inspection to be a reality. Those of us who did not like the new Clause because inspection would not have been a reality, accepted certain tactical advice, otherwise we should have voted for those members of the Government who were prepared to accept an unacceptable Clause and it would have been in the Bill today. But when he was asked what his position would be in relation to Clause 16 if the Government's new Clause were not carried, the Under-Secretary of State did not give us a clear answer but left us guessing about whether they would stand by their original Clause. In the event, the Government's new Clause was voted down—and I detected no dismay on the Government Front Bench.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I was in a certain difficulty—and I accept the hon. Member's comments on that—in not knowing how far it would be in order for me to anticipate what our attitude would he when we reached the original Clause 16. If my memory serves we well, I said that one could not have an each-way bet. I said that the new Clause was, we thought, the best which could be devised in the circumstances, and that was the Clause which we defended. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee did not misunderstand the position. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy), who wound up the debate, said that if it were a question of having the new compromise Clause or nothing, he would sooner have nothing.
§ Mr. Ross
If the choice were between that Clause and nothing, then we would s000ner have nothing, as I said myself. But the Government had already put up a Clause which they had defended in another place. On Second Reading and elsewhere they had proclaimed their determination to have inspection by the police.
1442 8.15 p.m.
I will leave that part of the argument and come to the merits of the case. Some people have said that we cannot have two separate laws, one in England and one in Scotland, but, whether we like it or not, that is what we have. It is part of our pride as Scats that in 1707 we were guaranteed our separate legal system, and in many aspects of the law we have entirely different proceedings in Scotland from those in England. We should glory in the difference and certainly not use it, as certain people have used it in this case, to get our own way. Taking the whole social history in relation to licensing, it is little wonder that we have separate previsions in England and Wales from those in Scotland, and it will be a long time before we have one code applying to all three countries.
We are passing another Licensing Bill, which applies certain legal standards to behaviour and to hours in respect of clubs. Having laid down the law in relation to clubs, is it outwith the bounds of justice to ensure that the law will be kept? It is as simple as that. How often have we said that it is no use passing a law which cannot be enforced? Having amended the right of the police to ensure that the law could be enforced, it is absolute nonsense for that position to he defended by hon. Members merely for the sake of flattering a few constituents. I expect far more than that from hon. Members, otherwise I have no respect for them.
As I have said, I have received some letters, which I am prepared to read, but I hope that people will respect me for my principles. I am stating clearly what I feel about the matter. We have laid these legal obligations upon clubs. Why deny the police the right to ensure that they are enforced? There are no other premises, licensed or unlicensed, dealing with food which are not subject to inspection by the police. We have the ordinary public houses and the ordinary hotels—and let it not be forgotten that the ordinary hotels include such places as Turnberry and Gleneagles. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite ever feel uncomfortable when they are in Gleneagles Hotel because they know that it is open to inspection by an ordinary constable without a warrant?
1443 The public house, hotel, licensed restaurant and licensed canteen are all open to inspection by the police at any time. So is the off-sales shop, although there is a difference to off-sales premises because the police must have reasonable cause for entry. Hon. Members may have read the proposed new Clause I have tabled on this subject. I propose to insert, after dealing with off-sales premises, the words:… shall apply to registered clubs …That is, that the police will be allowed to go into registered clubs and such premises only if they have reasonable cause for thinking that there has been a breach of the licensing laws. That seems fair enough. Surely there can be no objection to such a proposal.
I leave the treatment of these licensed premises as they are at present affected by Section 184 of the principal Act and go on to consider Section 185. In that Section is laid down the power of entry of the police to premises like temperance hotels, shops that sell food, ordinary restaurants, tea rooms, and so on. The only person who can enter without a warrant as a superintendent. If he does not enter, the person doing so must obtain a written authority—call it a warrant if you like—from a magistrate, a justice of the peace, a superintendent or a chief inspector. That written authority will give the time and date on which the call must be made. The visit must take place and the authority be exercised, within eight days of its being granted.
I propose that this is how the entry of clubs should be administered. Can there be any hardship in that? I should have thought that such a proposal would meet with agreement from all hon. Members and I urge the Secretary of State to give this his serious attention. If he does it will save him a lot of trouble in thinking up a new Clause of his own when the Bill reaches another place. I assure the Lord Advocate that the legal language of my proposal is impeccable because it is lifted from the statutes, a part of it from Section 184 and another part from Section 185 of the principal Act. The Lord Advocate may pick holes in my proposal but that is no guarantee that it is wrong. In fact, it is probably a guarantee that it is right.
1444 The proposal I have made would seem to be a reasonable compromise of the fears expressed by those in clubs who think that they will be descended upon and their lives made miserable. Such fears are groundless because, as we know, what they fear does not happen in the case of public houses or hotels. As I have explained, an inspection could be carried out only by a superintendent or, if by someone else in authority, only after receiving the necessary permission to inspect.
Clubs should realise that plenty of safeguards would exist for them and also that they are in a privileged position. They should not, therefore, exaggerate the dangers and difficulties that would be involved. I am aware of the outcry there has been from hoteliers about this but from the point of view of simple elementary justice, they have been concerned that there should be inspection of clubs. The majority of clubs in Scotland, including the registered ones, are well run and well behaved. Any club that is well run would probably not see a policeman and if one did enter—probaby to make inquiries about a parking offence or something like that—I am sure that it would not be considered an untoward occurrence.
As I say, the fears that have been expressed about this are exaggerated, especially all this nonsense about the club being an extension of the home. There must be some strange homes. Many people live in residential and temperance hotels in Scotland. Should they be subject to a greater degree of inspection by the police than the few people who live in clubs, for there are very few residential clubs in Scotland—and I am comparing these premises with clubland in London.
Like other hon. Members, I, too, have received a number of letters. I will read one of them. It states:Clause 16 of the above Bill which gives the Police right of entry to registered clubs without a warrant, gives great concern to members of this Club. who regard the right as a serious inroad into the liberty of the subject.There is then a reference to the English position and the letter goes on:If the Clause was not acceptable by the Government for England why should it be acceptable for Scotland? The inference would seem to be that members of clubs in Scotland are not able to conduct themselves so well as those south of the border … The club is 1445 an extension of a member's home and in certain clubs he may in fact reside there. The members of this club and so far as I know of all other clubs in Scotland are very considerably perturbed at the Government's proposal and we trust that at the Committee stage of the Bill you will do your utmost to have the Clause deleted.The letter is signed by the chairman of the club, and it is significant to note that it came from the Kilmarnock Conservative Club. That is where most of the pressure came from. We do not have a single working men's club in Kilmarnock.
We do not have labour clubs in Scotland in the same way, or to the same extent, as they have them in England and Wales. There are great stretches in Scotland where there is not a single political club that is registered and has a licence. The whole political roots of the Latour Party and the I.L.P. in Scotland were anti-drink—anti-brewery. Those who are concerned about nationalisation would do well to look up one of the unfailing resolutions of I.L.P. Conferences fifty years ago, which was the nationalisation of the drink trade.
As I said in the Committee, I am convinced that in this respect the Secretary of State bowed to pressure from his own hack benchers, but it was pressure that he could have resisted with the support of the great majority of the Scottish people and the Church of Scotland. The hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles spoke about his constituents in Hawick. Had he looked at the petitions addressed to the Secretary of State in respect of one particular section of the Guest Committee's Report he would probably have seen quite a number of Hawick names amongst the 203,000 people who voiced their opinion.
What does the Secretary of State feel about the opinion of going on for a quarter of a million people who took the trouble to sign a petition on this subject? Surely, their interest, too, should be considered. The right hon. Gentleman had the full support of a majority in this House who were concerned about the original Clause 16, with some amendment. I regret that in throwing away that Clause the right hon. Gentleman threw away the whole principle.
1446 I suggest that the Secretary of State should accept one of the three new Clauses. Naturally, "wir an weans are aye the best" and, unblushingly, I declare myself in favour of my own Amendment, impeccably drafted by the draftsmen of the bygone days of the Scottish Department. I sincerely hope that the Secretary of State will think again, accept the principle of inspection and be less afraid than he has been of all these rather exaggerated claims about intrusion, invasion, and the rest. They can be met by this reasonable compromise, and I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hannan
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I understood you to say earlier that the new Clause in my name was to be discussed.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
I want to be consistent, but hon. Members opposite are making that a little difficult, because none of these three new Clauses is the same, or very much the same, as those we discussed in Committee. Hon. Members who were on that Committee will remember that I was in a minority, and supported the Government on the revised Clause 16. They will also remember that I was one of a much smaller minority that voted for the original Clause 16. Therefore, I want to be consistent.
Each of the three new Clauses has a small fault in it. I do not like the idea in the new Clause moved by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) of police having the right to enter at any time or times. I should like that altered. In the new Clause tabled by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), the right is left to a constable——
§ Sir J. Duncan
No, I cannot give way. I want to be brief—I do not want to take as long as did the hon. Member.
Section 185 of the principal Act states:… A constable may at any time enter and inspect any temperance hotel"——
§ Sir J. Duncan
I know that there is a proviso later in the Clause, but the word used is "constable"——
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Gentleman is really being unfair. I do not know whether he appreciates that a chief constable is also a constable, and the proviso states quite clearly that in this case a constable is someone of the rank of inspector. If the man is below that rank, he must carry written authority.
§ Sir J. Duncan
No, I must get on.
The new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock provides for Section 184, not 185——
§ Sir J. Duncan
It is all very difficult to follow, but I am reading the new Clause which refers to section 184, which deals with a constable.
Perhaps I might now refer to the last of these new Clauses, in which the authority to enter without a warrant is given whether or not a chief constable has reasonable grounds. That is in the proposed new Clause of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston, but not in that of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock.
§ Sir J. Duncan
It seems to me that these are small faults and if they had been corrected I would have been very pleased to support one of the Clauses. In the cause of consistency, I find myself in a little difficulty.
I think that the legal position has been very greatly exaggerated in this debate, particularly among those who are supporting the clubs. The position is that there is police right of entry into these clubs. It is no good the clubs getting ideas that there is no right of police entry. The only difference is whether it should be done with a warrant or without a warrant. I hope that hon. Gentle- 1448 ment will realise that this is a distinction. Nevertheless, it is part of the law that there is police right of entry.
I have been impressed by the Guest Committee's Report. It takes a very strong line. I was disappointed that I was in a minority in the Standing Committee. I think that in view of the evidence submitted to the Guest Committee there is a case for police inspection of clubs in certain cases—and there are not very many cases—without a warrant. From the information that I have obtained, it is extremely difficult for the police to obtain evidence from a club of the law being broken. It means that they have to infiltrate in some way. It takes a long time. There must be more or less constant breaking of the law. The breaking of the law has to be more than accidental. It seems to be the fact that the chief constable has to apply to a magistrate, send a form to the sheriff, find a couple of magistrates to sign it and only then can he enter the club on one occasion, and on that occasion he may not find anything wrong.
I do not believe that this is a very big problem in Scotland. There are very few clubs which break the law regularly. The vast majority of the clubs conduct themselves extremely well; but there is this minority, and Parliament throughout its history has had to deal with minorities. The vast bulk of the population are law-abiding citizens and Parliament has to deal with the minority of law breakers. We have to enable the law to be administered and carried out reasonably. In view of the Guest Committee's strong recommendation it seems to me that I should be consistent and vote for one of these Clauses.
There is the further point, mentioned by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, that the Church of Scotland is in favour of some form of inspection. Only this morning I received a petition—I do not know whether other hon. Members received it from the licensed trade in Forfar and Kirriemuir, in my constituency, advocating and petitioning that the Government should reintroduce some form of Clause 16 as it was in Committee. I feel that I must support one of the three Clauses. You made it a little difficult for me, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, 1449 because you selected one Clause for Division and the others for discussion.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I should make it clear that it was Mr. Speaker's selection. There can be a Division, if desired, on each of the Clauses, although they are being discussed together.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I am grateful, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I understood you to say that there could be discussion on the three Clauses together, but a Division only on the first one. I now have to choose——
§ Sir J. Duncan
I have disclosed my difficulty in supporting the first Clause. I do not think that the police ought to have the right of entry at any time or times." I will further consider the Amendment to the Schedule to see whether it meets my point, and I will certainly listen to what the hon. Member for Glasgow. Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) has to say in support of his own Clause. I shall support one of the Clauses, first, on the ground of consistency, secondly, because I think the Guest Committee was right, and. thirdly, because I think that the Government have made a mistake in not reintroducing some form of Clause in view of the strong recommendations of the Guest Committee.
§ Mr. Hannan
I had almost given up hope that any of these Clauses would be further considered by the Government, and I am very grateful to the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) for his generous support of these three Clauses.
It would please some of us if, when the Secretary of State replies, he would wind up his speech by announcing "Those are my principles. If hon. Members do not like them they can be changed." I should like the Secretary of State to consider this point, and this is the first point that I make to the hon. Member for South Angus. This is an exact replica of the Clause which was rejected by the Government. So far as hon. Members opposite are concerned, this Clause, like Caesar's wife, is above suspicion. It could not have 1450 a more reputable origin than from the Government benches.
§ Mr. Hannan
The original Clause 16. The hon. Member for South Angus will recollect that in Committee he was about to expand on an Amendment which he had put down to insert the word "sergeant" and he will note that that word is incorporated in this Clause. I would not have the House think that we are all at variance. Indeed, we have backed the horse three ways to accept one out of the three. Our ingenuity ought to be recognised.
I think we are tackling this matter of the clubs in the wrong way. I think that we can tackle it best from the point of view of registration and of permits to set up clubs. I recognise that I may be out of order, but I should like to quote from the Report. If one looks at paragraphs 50 and 51 one finds the real reasons which lie behind this:Clubs, unlike licensed premises, do not require a certificate from the licensing courts and do not come under the same detailed supervision of that court; instead, there is a system of registration by the sheriff. The law providesinter aliathat an application to the sheriff for registration must specify the objects of the club and must be accompanied by the club rules and a certificate by two members of the licensing court to the effect that the club is to be considered as abona fideclub and not mainly for the supply of liquor.I, as a strong temperance supporter, can make the distinction which is disturbing the hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Commander Donaldson) and I put it to the hon. and gallant Member and to others that we have a right to look to hon. Members opposite for some support. Generally speaking, what legislation inevitably means is that well-conducted people have to band together and look for other well-conducted people to deal with the minority. It is time that the majority of well-conducted citizens were considered in these matters. We have a right as a majority to go into dance halls and other places of public gathering, including public houses and clubs, and not be met with the horrible atmosphere of over-drinking.
To come to the merits of the new Clause, the Government themselves 1451 introduced the Clause, word for word, in another place and the speech that was made on its behalf by the Government spokesman was tremendous. He had to meet opposition from noble Lords who normally would support the Government in this matter. The Minister said the Government recognised that there was an interference in private rights, but that was not a new principle and the Guest Committee found that the present law was being abused. This is not a defect in club law but it is a defect in the arrangements for its enforcement, and that is what we are considering.
As a democrat I take an exception to the fact that there should be close inspection of "pubs" and hotels, including even unlicensed hotels, and of restaurants, theatres and picture houses when the only places to be left out are clubs. What is the reason for this? Allegations have been made and I associate myself with them. I believe that it is because of pressure from people closely associated with the Government that they have weakened in this matter.
Another argument advanced for the new Clause was that the Government are satisfied that it is difficult for the police to spare the manpower for enforcement as the situation is now. The police at times had to hide behind bushes and even lamp posts, if it is possible for a policeman to do that, in order to detect offences. Then an application had to be made for a warrant and there was the timing of the raid. This is a most undignified situation in which to place responsible police officers who as an association made representations to the Guest Committee precisely on this point.
I put this further point to the Secretary of State. I am not a member of any club myself, but from my correspondence and from those who inform me in these matters, I understand that there are some club secretaries and officials who would welcome this police inspection because, again, they are perturbed lest their licences are upset owing to the unruly behaviour of recalcitrant members. They would welcome it, and they have expressed themselves in those terms.
I think there are members of clubs who, despite the steps which officials 1452 take, will go on abusing the rules. They will ignore the permitted hours, they will get drunk, and in that case they will become obstreperous and cause further friction. Moreover, the Secretary of State will have been informed that some of the stewards of these clubs will say, "I have not got a single individual to whom I am responsible. it is a committee of twelve or ten, and some of the committee men are seeking private privileges for themselves"; no doubt, in extra drinking outside permitted hours.
I hope I have done sufficient by drawing the attention of hen. Members present to the new Clause in my own name and that of some of my hon. Friends. It is not an invention of mine. It was lifted word for word from the Notice Paper, with the substitution only of the word "sergeant" for "inspector". Since its antecedents, as far as hon. Members opposite are concerned, are above suspicion, and also as far as my hon. Friends on this side are concerned, in the sense that it seems to fulfil the wishes and the recommendations of the Guest Committee, I hope that it will receive their support.
In conclusion, I want to mention one other thing that happens, which is personally known to me, and which I think is an affront to the kind of life that these clubs engender. I know of one case in which, on a Sunday, an ordinary worker has a £5 note to bust. In my opinion stupidly, this man says he is going to the club, and that probably he will have none of it left when he comes back. Probably, his wife has about the same sum of money on which to keep the household for a week. Hon. Members may say that this is individual liberty and that we cannot legislate for this sort of thing, but, surely, we can make it more difficult, and deal here with those clubs which are purely and solely drinking clubs affording facilities like that.
Having said that and making the reservations and the distinction between the two kinds of clubs those genuinely trying to provide a service and the other against which the Guest Committee proposed and the police want to have these extra powers—I submit the new Clause to the House.
§ Mr. Maclay
The discussion to which we have just listened illustrates some of 1453 the great difficulties with which we are faced on the matters with which this new Clause deals. I have listened with great interest to each of the parents of the new Clauses on the Notice Paper describing the merits of their children. I was fascinated to think that even the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) could ever conceivably have thought that he could blush over anything—but he said that he was unblushing about his own child this evening.
I quite sympathise with my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) in trying to choose between the blandishments of the three hon. Members opposite, and I certainly understand his attitude to what is happening this evening. One of the interesting about our debates on the Bill—and I have followed them very closely, although it was not found practicable for me to serve on the Committee—has been that on many of the matters raised there has not been any of the normal party divisions. The arguments have cut clean across parties, and this has meant that many of the decisions which we have had to make, or which the Standing Committee has made, have been questions of judgment.
It has been difficult to find clear-cut principles. What we are discussing this evening is not the principle of entry. Entry is possible under the existing law, with a warrant. It is a matter of degree—a question of the way in which the entry should be handled. It is important to get that clear.
On many occasions during the passage of the Bill I have found myself in the interesting position of having to judge what is the wise and right thing to do without the guidance of an absolute principle to help me. I have had to try to judge what it is timely to do in Scotland by means of a Bill of this kind. Han. Members will remember that one major decision was that public houses should not open on Sundays. That was a question of judgment. It went against the Guest Committee recommendation. I can assure hon. Members that I have gone against no Guest Committee recommendation without the most careful heart-searching and weighing up of the arguments adduced on both sides, trying to arrive at the right balance at this 1454 stage of development of our social life in Scotland.
Hon. Members opposite have alleged that the Government have given way to pressures from one section of the community. One hon. Member said that we had given way to pressures from our own supporters. If hon. Members opposite had seen the remarkable variety of representations that I have received on this subject they would not say that the pressure had came from any one section of the community. Clubs of every description wrote to me about it, including miners' clubs, Conservative clubs, ex-Service men's clubs, working men's clubs, athletic clubs, factory clubs——
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
I thought that there were no working men's clubs in Scotland.
§ Mr. Maclay
There are. I met a deputation from the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, which argued strongly on this subject.
If there has been any question of giving way to pressures—which I do not accept in the sense put to me by hon. Members opposite—they have certainly been pressures from a remarkable variety of interests, representing all sections of the Community. What is the democratic process except listening to opinion, especially when no hard, clear-cut principle or party line is drawn, and trying to judge what, in the long run, we are ready for, and what is wise?
§ Mr. Maclay
But it has a substantial number of Scottish members. It is a growing movement in Scotland. It did not come to argue about English clubs.
§ Mr. Maclay
No. It argued on behalf of the Scottish clubs in its federation. It is a growing body in Scotland.
I am a strong believer in the club principle. On the whole, the spread of clubs will lead to wiser drinking habits, in almost every case. I know that there are certain areas where, alas, conditions in clubs are not very good. That is one reason why the Guest Committee made its recommendation about inspection, 1455 and that is why I included it in the Bill. But I am quite clear that there is an argument for having something not so extreme and drastic as the existing powers. This was something which I thought should be argued in public—something on which we ought to ascertain the opinion of the House and of the country during the passage of the Bill through Committee and its various other stages in the House. That is what has happened.
The Government have tried three different methods of doing what I myself think is not at all an unreasonable aim, that is, to give a warning instead of having to go to the extreme of obtaining a warrant and going in, in which event, when the matter comes before the court, either the case is dismissed or the club is struck off the register. For my part, I do not want that to happen, but it must be done in bad cases. I think that there is good reason for trying to give a warning to people that, if they go on as they are, there will be serious consequences, the intention being not to get them struck off but to get them into more sensible habits and ways in the club concerned.
What I have done throughout our consideration of the Bill has been to try to find a reasonable compromise between the extreme form of inspection, which was anathema to every club member, or practically every club member, in Scotland who registered his view, no matter what club he came from, and leaving things exactly as they were. We have tried various methods and we have put them before the Committee. For a variety of reasons—I agree that it was a peculiar combination which produced this result—the last proposal we made was defeated.
At an early stage, I made quite clear that on a number of matters we should be guided by the opinion of the Committee. On this occasion, one thing I am certain of, in spite of all the
§ ingenuity and the persuasive arguments of hon. Members opposite, is that none of the versions they have produced would necessarily be likely to command a majority at this moment. This being so, I think that I must bow to the decision of the Committee and leave matters as they were before.
§ Mr. Maclay
It is not shocking. It may be shocking in the hon. Gentleman's view, but he must try to put himself in my position, not accuse me of yielding to pressures. He must give me the benefit of believing at least that what I have tried to do to the best of my ability is to judge opinion on a matter in which one must pay some regard to opinion. I repeat that there is no absolute principle involved. The principle of entry still exists. It is possible to obtain a warrant and go in and deal with a club in that way. We have tried to produce a modified method of doing it. We have not succeeded in this and, therefore. I think that we really must leave the matter where it stands man said that he had to bow to opinion. What opinion? It certainly was not the opinion of the Guest Committee. It was not the opinion of the Association of Chief Constables. What opinion has the right hon. Gentleman bowed to?
§ Mr. Maclay
I was trying to say that I had not bowed to opinion. I was explaining that I have tried to sense what the right course is at this stage of our social development in Scotland when we find violently conflicting views on this question among a broad cross-section of the people of Scotland. The argument does not run along party lines in any way. I think that the right thing to do is to accept what the Committee did.
§ Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 21, Noes 131.
|Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Winterbottom, R. E.||Mr. Hannan and Sir Myer Galpern.|
|Wilkins, W. A.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Grant, Rt. Hon. William||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Balniel, Lord||Green, Alan||Morgan, William|
|Batsford, Brian||Gurden, Harold||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Biffen, John||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Neave, Airey|
|Bingham, R, M.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Noble, Michael|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Blyton, William||Hendry, Forbes||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hiley, Joseph||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Box, Donald||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Percival, Ian|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Brewis, John||Holland, Philip||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hollingworth, John||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hoosen, H. E.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Buck, Antony||Hornby, R. P.||Pym, Francis|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Burden, F. A.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Iremonger, T. L.||Sharples, Richard|
|Cary, Sir Robert||James, David||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Smithers, Peter|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Kirk, Peter||Talbot, John E.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (portsmth, W.)||Lebum, Gilmour||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Collard, Richard||Lilley, F. J. P.||Temple, John M.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Garfield, F. V.||Litchfield, Capt. John||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Coulson, Michael||Longbottom, Charles||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Longden, Gilbert||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Loyeys, Walter H.||Wainwrlght, Edwin|
|Curran, Charles||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wakefield, Sir Wavell|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Mabon, D. J. Dickson||Walder, David|
|Deedes, W. F.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Walker, Peter|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Whitelaw, William|
|du Cann, Edward||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Eden, John||Marshall, Douglas||Wise, A. R.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Mathew, Robert (Honlton)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Emery, Peter||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Mawby, Ray|
|Freeth, Denzil||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gilmour, Sir John||Mills, Stratton||Mr. McLaren and Mr. Rees.|
|Gower, Raymond||Montgomery, Fergus|