HC Deb 11 July 1962 vol 662 cc1410-30

(1) No certificate for the sale of excisable liquor shall be granted by a licensing court, under the powers conferred upon them by the principal Act or by this Act, for the sale of such liquor in a public dance hall.

(2) The form of certificate for a public house specified in the Second Schedule to the principal Act shall be amended by inserting the following condition:— (14) the certificate holder shall not permit dancing in the premises".—[Sir M. Galpern.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

During the Standing Committee proceedings on this Bill the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry), whom I have notified that I would be referring to him this evening, sought to move an Amendment the effect of which would have been that a special licence would be created for public dance halls. He argued his case very cogently, but I am glad to say that the Under-Secretary of State resisted this additional form of licence and the Amendment was not accepted.

As a result of what transpired in the Committee proceedings and the explanations given to public dance-hall owners as to what course of action they could take in view of the fact that this restricted licence had not been granted, I have put down this new Clause. I was prompted to take this action because the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West made the following statement in the Standing Committee: The public house is completely unsuitable for that"— that is, the type of licence which I am trying to prevent being granted— and what I am asking the Committee to consider is something very much less than the ordinary public house licence, but which would give the patron of these places the opportunity of taking alcoholic drinks if he or she felt inclined to do so. The reason why I consider that the ordinary public house licence is unsuitable for this purpose is that the whole conception of a public house licence is the sale of drink. That is the main business of a public house, but it is not the main business of a dance hall… The hon. Gentleman said later: I must make it clear that there is nothing whatever to prevent a dance hall proprietor from applying for a public house licence under the present law, and is it because I consider that any tendency along those lines would be extremely undesirable that I move this Amendment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,Scottish Standing Committee,10th May, 1962; c. 5–6.] That is precisely what I am attempting to do.

It could be reasonably argued that a case could be made out for a restricted licence for a dance hall if the existing law was of such a character that something far worse and of a greater detriment to the young people who frequent dance halls could be applied for and granted. In Committee we went over all the arguments against even the granting of the restricted licence, and when it was shown clearly that there was no demand for this in the case to which the hon. Gentleman referred and that the Guest Committee on the Scottish Licensing Law had not even addressed itself to this problem, the Under-Secretary decided not to accept the Amendment.

A very unusual thing happened during the Committee proceedings when the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West indicated that dance-hall proprietors could, under the existing law, apply for a full public-house licence. The Under-Secretary of State drew attention to the fact—I suppose to show that he was anxious to remain in the good graces of the dance-hall proprietors—that there was nothing to prevent them from applying under the 1959 Act for a full public-house licence. The dance-hall proprietors, and especially a few in Edinburgh, when asked for their views said, "We are disappointed that this restricted licence has not been granted. We shall certainly accept the advice of the Under-Secretary and will apply for a full public-house licence under the 1959 Act."

If the sponsor of the restricted form of licence feels that it would be completely wrong that there should be a possibility of such a full licence being granted, I hope that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West will be one of my strongest supporters in making certain that no dance-hall proprietor will be able, under the new Measure, to apply for a full public-house licence.

It has been clearly established that the incidence of drinking among the population under the age of 21 has trebled since 1946. We know that drunkenness among young people is on the increase, and, unfortunately, the prophecy is that it will continue to increase, because young people have more money to spend and the drink interests are spending far more money on advertising media to attract some of that surplus cash to themselves.

We also know that the vast majority of people who frequent dance halls—and I make clear the distinction that we are dealing with public dance halls—are young people largely under the age of 21. Some of the girls who go to these dance halls go unaccompanied, that is, they may go there in twos and threes but they are not accompanied by a male escort. Parents feel that they are quite safe in allowing their teen-age daughters to frequent these places because no drink can be supplied in these places of public entertainment. But the whole position will alter if the threat materialises—and I think it is much more than a threat—by the owners of public dance halls, because they are unable through their spokesman, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West to obtain a restricted licence, that they will apply to the licensing courts for a full public-house licence.

We shall be told that this is the law at present and that they could have applied for such a licence even if no Amendment for a restricted licence had been moved. But the fact remains that, so far, no application has been made, possibly because they felt that they would he able to succeed with the restricted form of certificate. Now that they have been thwarted in that desire I feel certain that their threat will be transplanted into reality and that there will be a flood of applications at the next licensing courts from public dance-hall proprietors seeking a full public-house licence. Such a licence means that they will have something which they could not have had under a restricted licence, namely, a public drinking bar.

I remind the House that when a licensing court receives an application for a public-house licence it can only grant that public-house licence. It cannot grant a restricted form of licence. It will, of course. be entitled to grant a restricted licence to a restaurant. The only thing that the court will be able to grant to the applicant will be a public-house licence and the recipient will be entitled to operate just as if he were operating a public house with a bar, a cocktail bar, and all the other things which are associated with the granting of a full public-house certificate. I submit that the Government ought to support even at this stage my proposed new Clause if they feel, as they have felt, that it is wrong to grant a restricted licence. They ought to support a proposal to deal with an infinitely greater danger to the morals of young people than would have been involved in a restricted licence.

There has been quite a controversy over this proposal to have a licence for public dance halls and I shall be told that the licensing court can refuse such an application. That is quite true, but I have had experience of licensing courts. I was once chairman of a licensing court and I know just how the composition and membership varies every three years in Scotland and how some members step out annually and new members come in their place. Unsuccessful application in one given year can easily become a successful application two or three years later.

There is a classic case of one applicant—not in Glasgow—who applied for a public house certificate unsuccessfully on eleven separate occasions. He was so disgusted that he sold his premises. An individual who acquired the premises made the twelfth application to a new licensing court and it was promptly granted to him. I do not know why that was so, but that is a fact. Therefore, knowing full well that it is open to a licensing court to refuse to grant an application, and knowing also the operation of licensing courts from the inside, I should be afraid that, not at the coming licensing court but at some subsequent one, the first breach might be made in this refusal to grant a full public-house licence to a public dance hall and that once that breach was made there would be no stopping the flood of applications which in all reason and logic would have to be granted. We should then have brought within the reach of very young people a situation in which they could go to public dance halls and, if they so desired, engage in all the facilities which are provided by a full public-house licence.

6.45 p.m.

I have received more correspondence on this subject during my short period in the House of Commons, from anxious parents when we defeated the proposal to have a restricted licence, than on any other subject that has come before Parliament during my membership. I shudder to think what these same parents in Scotland will feel if we fail today to accept this Clause which is designed to deal with something far worse than that dealt with by a restricted licence and which will cause justifiable fears and worries in the minds of parents about their teenage children frequenting public dance halls where public-house licences are in operation.

As for subsection (2) of the Clause, there are in existence some public houses where dancing is permitted. I submit that it wrong that dancing, for which no charge is made and for which the only qualification for entry is that one buys a drink, should be available in public-house premises. But, unfortunately, they exist and especially, and surprisingly, in the great city of Edinburgh, where there is quite a number of such establishments. One can think of the type of females who will go to these places to become the partners of the males who go there.

A duty is laid on the licensee to ensure that no women of low repute repair to his premises, or, at least, to ensure that he does not allow them to enter knowingly, but we should consider how this situation might develop. In Scotland the tradition is that wives do not accompany husbands into public houses. I hope that the tradition will long continue. At present, therefore, the male individual goes to the public house where there are facilities for dancing, and I ask hon. Members what type of women we could expect to be frequenting a place where there was a public-house licence in order to accompany for dancing men who had entered the premises without partners. What type of woman should we epect to go to these places as dancing partners?

Young people, too, are enabled and entitled to go into these places and engage in dancing if these facilities are provided. It is wrong that this should be permitted. A public house is either a public house or it is a place with a restaurant, and it is quite wrong that people should be admitted without payment and be permitted to engage in dancing. in establishments in which the prime purpose is the sale of drink, and in which the more drink that is sold the merrier become both the owners and the patrons themselves.

Therefore, subsection (2) seeks to prohibit public dancing in public houses. I know that there will be arguments about hotels and so on, but I put those places in a different category. My main concern, as the result of our deliberations in Committee, is that we should at least prohibit or prevent an application coming before a licensing court for a full public-house licence for a public dance hall. The situation which I have envisaged will arise very soon because of the threats made by the owners of public dance halls, and also because of the fact that such a licence could quite easily be granted by a licensing court.

There is far too much nowadays of businesses changing their main purposes. I read in the newspapers recently that the Scottish Greyhound Association was switching from greyhound racing—because the profits have been falling heavily owing to the declining numbers attending this sport—to bowling alleys, licensed restaurants and all sorts of other things. If the licensing courts began granting public-house licences to dance halls that were beginning to feel the pinch of competition—because that is why they would turn to it—we should be reduced to a very sorry state of affairs indeed.

In conclusion, the best thing I can do is to quote some words of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West, because he was most anxious to have this provision and was one who realised the danger that I am seeking to prevent. He said: I am very much afraid that if a licence of the kind I suggest is not provided there will be an undesirable tendency for the provision of licences under public house conditions. There would be much greater difficulty in control. The primary object of the licence holder would be the sale of drink, not the provision of entertainment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,Scottish Standing Committee,10th May, 1962; c. 8]. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West knows exactly what he is talking about, and he is keenly interested in getting this reform. He knows full well that what he said in Committee is likely to materialise if we do not approve this new Clause.

Mr. John Henderson (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I am in complete agreement with the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern). I represent a constituency in the City of Glasgow, which is a great industrial centre, and during my weekends at home since this Bill was produced I have honestly and sincerely tried to find the pulse of a great many of the people in that city.

I have interviewed a cross-section of the community, from ministers and social workers to people engaged in the realm of sport and in many other aspects of life. I have never yet come across any parent of young folks, or even young folks themselves, who ever anticipated that the day would dawn when applications for liquor licences would be submitted in connection with dance halls. I do not think there is the slightest demand for it, or that a step in this direction was ever anticipated.

I have received many communications from various agencies, and I was interviewed by the proprietors of two of the biggest dance halls in Glasgow. They used the argument that their income was being reduced and that they were being faced with a certain amount of financial loss. One of the arguments which they put forward was that good hotels in the city on certain nights of the week, generally Saturdays, were organising dinner dances, and that they were attracting some of the young folks who generally attended public dance halls. Consequently, their business was suffering. I suggest that there is no comparison between the public dance hall and the hotel dinner and dance, because those who go to hotels to enjoy dinner and dancing are generally accompanied by their partners. Very often, young people are accompanied by their fathers and mothers, and it is sometimes a family affair, which is entirely different from the circumstances in the public dance halls in big cities.

In order to become acquainted with all the circumstances, I visited two of the dance halls in Glasgow. There were at least 700 young people in these halls, land the procedure which is adopted there is that the young people stand in groups of generally up to a dozen, the young men in one group, and, a little distance away, a similar number of young women. Very few of them go as partners, and when the dance band strikes up, a young man looks around him, selects a partner, and, after the dance is over, rejoins his friends in the group, which may be up to a dozen or a dozen and a half.

Think of a bar being introduced here, and of liquor being supplied to young people. Let us think also of a young man taking more than is good for him and losing complete control of himself. He may not be drunk or anything like it, but he bas now become a big man and is somebody. He goes forward to a young lady, whom he has never seen before and to whom he has not been introduced, and requests her to have a dance with him. She notices the smell of liquor and is not too pleased with his general appearance, and so she says, "No, I do not want this dance."

I am told that this very seldom happens, as a matter of fact, because it is not looked upon as the right thing to refuse a dance. Therefore, the young man feels aggrieved, and that begins a row. He becomes a little bitter, ungentlemanly in his conduct, someone else takes the young lady's side of the argument, and, sooner or later, there is a good deal of disturbance. This sort of thing may not take place in the country districts, but it is certainly a possibility, and indeed a probability, in the big industrial cities in public dance halls.

It has also been stated that the question of parental control comes in here. Very many parents have spoken to me about this after it was discussed in Committee. They were alarmed that in these days, when there are sufficient temptations to destroy family life in the big cities, and, perhaps, in the countryside too, that this additional vexatious question of supplying liquor in public dance halls should now arise.

7.0 p.m.

The hon. Member for Shettleston no doubt has great experience of this matter. Having been Provost of the City of Glasgow for a number of years he must have intimate knowledge of the circumstances that I have described. He must also be familiar with the situation in licensing courts, having been a member of one, as I have. He will doubtless agree that, very often, a bench may be composed of individuals who are anxious to play their full part on behalf of the city they represent, but within eighteen months or two years—or, at the most three years—there is a complete change in the personnel of that court. In those circumstances it can easily happen that although the court had originally refused a licence, the same court, composed of new members, grants a licence in spite of all objections.

I agree with the hon. Member for Shettleston that if the Clause is not accepted there will be demands by countless people in the big cities for licences equivalent to public-house licences. I hope that hon. Members will appreciate the difficulties that may arise in those circumstances and will support the Clause in order to maintain and try to improve the moral standards of the people living in the big cities.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

I support the new Clause. It would be one of the worst things that the House could do to permit dance halls eventually to become mainly suppliers of liquor. Ballroom dancing is a delightful pastime, and I do not want to see it cheapened. I do not want to see the creation of institutions which will drive out the lovers of ball-room dancing and attract the wrong sort of people in their place.

Many hon. Members will know of dance halls which have acquired licences because it was believed that cheaper dancing could be provided if liquor were sold. I know of three dance halls—not in Scotland—where this was done. Eventually those dance halls went out of existence, because they attracted un- desirable elements who drove out the lovers of ballroom dancing. Only one of those dance halls has been re-established, and that one is not now licensed. It has built up a new reputation, and has attracted back lovers of ballroom dancing.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Lilley) stated that golf clubs could not continue unless they were permitted to sell liquor. He said that the economics of golf clubs were such that they had to make profits out of liquor in order to provide golf. All I can say is that it would be a shocking state of affairs if we had to depend upon selling alcoholic liquor to teen-agers in order to make dancing available for them.

My children and I are able to enjoy dancing because the church of which we are members created facilities in its church hall. I wish that that sort of thing were done on a greater scale. It would be far better if social activities were centred round a church rather than a dance hall, especially one which can sell alcohol.

A further most undesirable possibility is that teen-agers will come out of these dance halls, after having taken alcoholic liquors, and drive away in cars. That would be most undesirable. The temperature in a dance hall is fairly high, and the atmosphere is a little stuffy, and I am told that although it is possible to drink whisky for hours indoors and to feel quite all right, When one goes out into the fresh air one gets a shock. I do not know whether that is so. I have no experience of the matter. Perhaps some hon. Members opposite can confirm this.

Mr. Ross

The shook comes before that—when one gets the bill.

Mr. Bence

If that is true in the case of a person who comes out of a hotel or a licensed house, how much more must it be true of one who comes out of a dance hall, having spent three or four hours there? I should have thought that it was rather a stupid thing to take alcohol and to dance at the same time. If I tried it I am sure that I should be flat on my back. From what little experience I have had of the matter, and from what little I have seen, drinking in dance halls is more likely to cause friction and trouble inside than outside.

Lastly, I am told that although most of them have no particular views on drinking, 80 per cent. of the young women who go to dance halls will refuse to dance with a stranger if they believe that he has been drinking. I have been told that more rows, fights and serious disturbances are caused in dance hails over the refusal of a young lady to dance with a man than over anything else. A man may have had only one glass of beer, but his breath may smell, and a young lady may refuse to dance with him. Does the Secretary of State want to encourage disturbances arising from this sort of thing?

A young lady may fear that a man Who has had too much to drink may tread upon her expensive shoes. When a man has had a few drinks he is liable to knock his partner's shoes about when he dances, and shoes are rather expensive, as are nylons. In such circumstances things can become very difficult. There are some young men on both sides of the House who may have experience of these things. I have no doubt that they could confirm or deny what I am saying.

I 'hope that the Secretary of State will accept the Clause. I am sure that its purpose is supported by the vast majority of the people of Scotland. They do not want to see the creation, throughout Scotland, of institutions which provide cheaper dancing and plenty of liquor to go with it. It may be desirable for a hotel or a well-equipped club to provide other amenities; there are institutions where drinking is not the only occupation. But where there is dancing it would be quite undesirable to permit liquor to be sold.

Mr. Ross

I had hoped that, by this time, the Secretary of State would have shaken himself from his silent lethargy and uttered the magic words that he was prepared on this occasion to accept the new Clause. Seemingly, he is not so stirred. I am disappointed because, if there was one thing which was exhibited during our proceedings in Committee, it was the feeling of the people in Scotland about drinking in public dance halls. Yet haw near we were to this "gutless" Government giving in to their own back benchers. But for the fact that we carried the debate from a Thursday over the weekend to the Tuesday, the right hon. Gentleman and the Lord Advocate would have been prepared to sell the pass. It was only the reaction of the Scottish people displayed during the weekend on radio and television and in the Press which prevented them. Why did not the Under-Secretary of State seize the chance to get up and answer the debate earlier when, time after time, members of his own flock were pushing the interests of those who wanted to introduce drinking into Scottish dance halls?

I am surprised that we have heard nothing today from the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) who started all this, and for the best of all reasons, because he wanted to prevent public house licences in dance halls. If the hon. Gentleman wants to prevent public house licences in dance halls, he can join us in the Lobby tonight. Where is the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore)?

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

Dancing, I expect.

Mr. Ross

The right hon. Gentleman may be nearer the truth than he thinks. The hon. Member for Ayr will be doing the Parliamentary "twist" as usual. The hon. Member gave us a speech in which he supported the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West not on account of tales of what happens to young people in dance halls which have public house licences but because the dance halls were facing competition from dinner-dances and so on, and his hon Friend's proposal offered them a way to keep alive.

This was not the hon. Gentleman's last word on the subject. I am one of his constituents. I was born in his constituency, I live there, and I read the local paper. On the following Friday, to my surprise, I read a letter to the editor of that paper from the hon. Member for Ayr explaining that he had supported his hon. Friend's proposal originally because he was worried about public house licences being granted in ballrooms—something which he had never mentioned in his speech here—and apologising for what he had done. I presume, therefore, that he, too, will join us in the Lobby to fend off the bogy which he has raised.

The dangerous consequence of the tactic adopted by hon. Members opposite is that, if people had not been thinking previously about getting public house, licences in ballrooms, they are thinking about it now. One thing which the Under-Secretary of State did when replying eventually to the debate—it took about four hours before he rose to his feet—was to clear away any misunderstandings which might have prevented people from applying. I think that he will agree that I am not being unfair about this. I will read his words if he likes, but I think that he will be prepared to accept my paraphrase.

7.15 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State said that there had been some misunderstanding and ballroom proprietors may have thought that they were under an obligation to keep their premises open for the full extent of permitted hours. He said that this was not true, and the Government were taking pains in Clause 3 (4) to put this into print. If there had been any misunderstanding, this would clear it up. Secondly, he said that, in adjudicating on whether or not such a licence should be granted, a licensing court had no need to take into consideration whether there were plenty of licensed premises in the area. This applied particularly to Glasgow, of course, where the public ballrooms are generally in the centre of the city where no one could say that there was any lack of public house facilities round about. All that, he said, can be set aside by the licensing bench, more or less clearing the way and giving an indication to the licensing magistrates that the Government were not averse to that course being taken.

I know that the Under-Secretary of State will tell us tonight that we can rely upon the good sense of the licensing magistrates. I have not seen his brief but I am fairly sure that that is what it will be. So far, in the greater part of Scotland, the magistrates have not been so foolish as even to countenance any such licences, except in Edinburgh, of all places. I think that this is right. As I recall it, there are only 12 or 13 such places, and most are in Edinburgh.

Sir M. Galpern

All in Edinburgh.

Mr. Ross

All in Edinburgh.

I shall not start rushing to Edinburgh right away. The place to go for dancing is Glasgow. We take our dancing seriously. We take a pride in our dancing. We glory in it. There is a great deal of fun for young people in dancing; it is an excellent relaxation and enjoyment. This is what the youngsters want. They do not want drink mixed up with it. As I said in Committee, they want Mr. Acker Bilk but they do not want Johnnie Walker.

The other point about the licensing bench is that we are due to have another Bill about licensing. No doubt, many hon. Members do not look forward to this prospect with any great joy. This further Bill will deal with the licensing bench. My guess is that it will eventually wipe out the powers of magistrates in relation to this matter and hand them over to some other authority. We do not know who that other authority will be. Although we know what licensing benches have hitherto done and what their attitude has been, we have no guarantee that the replacement will be as good. But we shall be tied to what is decided in regard to the possibility of public-house licences in public ballrooms.

I myself was not worried about this subject until the hon. Gentleman raised it. However, if the seed was not there, it is there now firmly planted in the minds of some ballroom proprietors. One ballroom proprietor, one of the best known and most highly respected, with considerable experience of every aspect of ballroom work in Glasgow and in Scotland, has said that the introduction of drink into the ballroom will lead to a lowering of the moral tone of the ballroom.

With all these factors in mind, apart from the powerful objections raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), I ask the Government to judge the merits of the new Clause. How can the Under-Secretary of State reassure us now about the dangers which were enough to rouse many kirks and sufficient to stir Conservative Members to turn in their tracks and vote against their own proposal—that is what happened between the Thursday and the Tuesday—and then send letters to their constituents apologising for their original sin? How can he assure us that the dangers are not ever present and will not increase because the hon. Gentleman clarified the law and made it easier by Clause 3 (4) for the ballroom proprietors to have this licence?

I regret very much that the discussion on the Bill, which I hoped would be non-controversial, got off on the wrong foot and that the Under-Secretary of State submitted to the pressure behind him and to the organised gang which was prepared to support the brewers. Let me remind the hon. Gentleman of what the hon. Member for Ayr said in his closing words on this matter: I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will have the judgment and good sense to accept them"— that is, the Tory Amendments asking for drink in ballrooms— because otherwise I am afraid he is in for some trouble."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,Scottish Standing Committee,10th May, 1962; c. 38.] If ever there was a threat, that was it. Of course the hon. Gentleman got trouble, and he backed down in relation to clubs. However, I hope that he will face up to his hon. Friends now and will appreciate the danger of ballrooms having public house licences. I hope that he will rise to the occasion and, for once, will listen to my hon. Friends and will accept the new Clause. If he does not do that and things take the turn which his hon. Friend said they would take, then we are in for trouble; and goodness knows the Secretary of State is in deep enough trouble at the moment.

Mr. Maclay

I cannot remember an occasion in the last 5½ years when I was not in trouble.

Mr. Ross

This is an occasion when the right hon. Gentleman can lighten his burden of trouble. He has had other opportunities in the past and has failed to take them. Let him take this one and accept tie new Clause.

Mr. Brooman-White

For the gratification of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), let me endeavour to answer this case without the brief. Let me first deal with some points which the hon. Gentleman raised about the conduct of the discussion on this Clause upstairs. He saw some rather sinister significance in the fact that the winding-up speech was not made until the debate had run for a considerable time. Let me tell the Committee—this is perhaps unusual for someone who is an ex-Whip—what was in my mind in rising late in that debate. We were anxious to make progress with the Bill, and we were having the co-operation, which we appreciated, of hon. Members opposite. A lot of hon. Members wished to speak.

It will be the experience of hon. Members who know the practice and atmosphere of Scottish Committees that often an intervention from the Front Bench, rather than curtailing discussion, merely gives substance on which further speeches can be founded. It is always a matter of judgment at which stage one can intervene most effectively to get the business through and at the same time to have a reasonable, proper and sound consideration given to matters, which the Scottish Committee always gives to its affairs. There was nothing more sinister in it than that. We have no intention of accepting the Amendment, which we had considered very carefully beforehand. I took the trouble to make some investigations into it beforehand.

Hon Members opposite believe that there is a danger of a substantial number of certificates being granted to dance halls if we fail to make an alteration in the existing law. If we thought that there was any possibility of those things occurring which hon. Members fear, we should be just as worried as they are. We do not think that there is any such danger. It is not for me to speculate on teenage reactions—I am getting a little out of touch with them as the years go by—but I am fortified by the view of a number of hon. Members which coincide with mine, namely, that one has the impression that most teenagers do not want drink in their dance halls. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) referred to men who ruined their dance halls by allowing people to take drink into them. If we felt that there was any serious prospect of drink being available in teenage dance halls, we should be deeply concerned and would deplore any such development. But that is not what we are concerned about.

The problem which was put to us was that there is a certain number of dance halls in Edinburgh which traditionally have catered for an entirely different clientele. They are frequented, and have habitually been frequented for a long time, by young and middle-aged married people and provide facilities for dancing very similar to those provided by the hotel lounge. The dance-hall proprietors argue, with a certain amount of justification, that, because people can go to a hotel lounge and find that type of music and atmosphere and have a drink, they tend to slip away to the hotel lounge for a drink. They say that if this sort of facility is available in a hotel, why should not it be available in a dance hall? Under the existing law, if a dance hall can convince the local licensing court that no danger will arise, it can have a public-house licence.

The second leg of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir. M. Galpern) suggests that dancing in public houses is an evil which should stop. I know that in certain areas of Scotland—for instance, in Glasgow—local action is taken and music is not permitted in public houses. In other areas, such as Edinburgh, there is dancing with facilities for drink in public houses. The hon. Member for Shettleston drew a very gloomy picture of what might occur if drinking connected with dancing were allowed. This has not been the experience in Edinburgh, where the police assure us that there has been no undue disturbance in public houses which have dancing and drinking. These places have not presented the police with a problem.

The police also assure us—this weighed very heavily in our consideration—that they feel that there is a limited number of dance halls in which no public danger would arise if there were facilities for drink. These are dance halls which cater for an elderly, "square" clientele which do not want teen-agers in because they would disturb their clientele. Teen-agers would be extremely unlikely to go to them because the atmosphere in them appeals not to teen-ages but to "squares". The view of the police in those areas is that danger will not arise.

We can see no likelihood of trouble which would justify us in making any change in the existing law. I think that the fears which have been expressed are unfounded. I hope that people in Scotland will accept this and will find that those fears are unfounded. We have had no advice from those who should know which suggests that any change in the law in this respect is necessary.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

I should like the hon. Gentleman to deal a little more carefully with some of the points which have been made. He has talked loosely about certain dance hall proprietors and the clientele that frequent the dance halls. I take it that he was referring to the larger dance halls that were mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) and by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. J. Henderson). The Under-Secretary spoke as if the clientele and the proprietors did not want the teen-agers. Was he saying that they would exclude the teen-ager? Of course they would not. We know that large crowds of teen-agers go to many of the large dance halls.

There is an age limit for the supply of alcoholic liquor. Presumably, if the Government get their way, alcoholic liquor is to be available in the dance halls. What precautions are there in the Bill to ensure that under age teen-agers who would be in a dance hall would not either be served with, or get from their friends, liquor which could be procured by those who are over age in the dance hall? This is a new danger to which teen-agers will be submitted by an extension such as is proposed by the Government.

Mr. Brooman-White

There would be no greater danger than now exists in other places where there are facilities for dancing and drinking. As regards the exclusion of teen-agers, a number of dance halls which cater for an older clientele display a notice saying that people under the age of 21 are not admitted. If that were violated, the licensing court having granted a certificate on the assumption that a dance hall was not frequented by teen-agers, the fact would, no doubt, be brought to the notice of the court by the police and it seems to me to be inherently unlikely that the certificate would be renewed. That would, therefore, be a safeguard.

Miss Herbison

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettlestan (Sir M. Galpern) will press the Clause to a Division. I say this because, again, the answer of the Under-Secretary has not been convincing. He has told us that if he felt that the fears which have been expressed on this side of the House and by only one hon. Member opposite had any basis, he would be worried, as we are. The hon. Gentleman has spoken about dance halls in Edinburgh for the young married people and the middle-aged married people, but those who have spoken in the debate are extremely worried about our young people. We know from the result of the debate upstairs that many parents in Scotland are also extremely worried.

Today, parents can be happy to know that when their sons and daughters, but particularly their daughters, go to a public dance hall, they are going to one where no drink will be available. Naturally, these parents are worried about what might follow the taking of drink in dance halls. When we are legislating, we ought to take the greatest care for our young people.

It is interesting that the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) is not present. It is also interesting that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) has not spoken in the debate. It seems to me that the Government rejected the Clause in Committee only because they were able to convince their supporters that what they had been trying to get all along could have been got by the dance halls. It was as a result of that debate that my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston put down the Clause, because he wanted to ensure that these dance halls, where our young people should be able to go freely, their parents knowing that they would be in good, happy surroundings, should not be licensed.

am certain that the majority of our people, even those who are not teetotal, including many parents who themselves may have a drink, would not want their young people to go to dance halls where drink was provided. The majority of Scottish people will, I feel sure, support the Clause. The Under-Secretary seemed to think that my hon. Friend had painted

Division No. 244. AYES 17.36 p.m.
Awbery, Stan Hilton, A. V. Ross, William
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Hooson, H. E. Royle, Charles (Salford, West)
Bence, Cyril Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Skeffington, Arthur
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Dalyell, Tarn Kenyon, Clifford Spriggs, Leslie
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Stress, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Fitch, Alan Lubbock, Eric Wilkins, W. A.
Forman, J. C. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. McKay, John (Wallsend)
Harper, Joseph Manuel, Archie TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Mason, Roy Mr. Hannan and
Herbison, Miss Margaret piummer, Sir Leslie Sir Myer Galpern.
Atkins, Humphrey Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Nabarro, Gerald
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Neave, Airey
Biffen, John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Noble, Michael
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Orr-Ewing, C. Ian
Bishop, F. P. Hendry, Forbes Osbom, John (Hallam)
Black, Sir Cyril Hiley, Joseph Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Bourne-Arton, A. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Box, Donald Hirst, Geoffrey Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Brewis, John Hobson, Sir John Percival, Ian
Brooman-White, R. Holland, Philip Pike, Miss Mervyn
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hollingworth, John Pitt, Miss Edith
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Hopkins, Alan Prior, J. M. L.
Buck, Antony Hornby, R. P. Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Proudfoot, Wilfred
Burden, F. A. Hughes-Young, Michael Pym, Francis
Butcher, Sir Herbert Iremonger, T. L. Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) James, David Rees, Hugh
Cary, Sir Robert Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Roots, William
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Seymour, Leslie
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharpies, Richard
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth.W.) Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Skeet, T. H, H.
Cleaver, Leonard Kirk, Peter Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Collard, Richard Lambton, Viscount Smithers, Peter
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Leburn, Gilmour Storey, Sir Samuel
Corfield, F. V. Lilley, F. J. P. Talbot, John E.
Coulson, Michael Linstead, Sir Hugh Tapsell, Peter
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Litchfield, Capt. John Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Craddock, Sir Beresford Longbottom, Charles Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Curran, Charles Loveys, Walter H. Taylor, Frank (M'ch'str, Moss Side)
Dalkeith, Earl of Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Temple, John M.
Deedes, W. F. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thatcher, Mrs, Margaret
Digby, Simon Wingfield McLaren, Martin Thornton-Kemsley Sir Colin
Donaldson, cmdr. C. E. M. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
du Cann, Edward Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Walder, David
Duncan, Sir James Marshall, Douglas Walker, Peter
Eden, John Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Wall, Patrick
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Ward, Dame Irene
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Mawby, Ray Whitelaw, William
Freeth, Denzil Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Gilmour, Sir John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Woodnutt, Mark
Gower, Raymond Mills, Stratton
Grant, Rt. Hon. William Montgomery, Fergus TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Green, Alan More, Jasper (Ludlow) Mr. Michael Hamilton and
Gurden, Harold Morgan, William Mr. Batsford.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles

too lurid a picture. I do not think so. For that reason, I hope that we vote on the Clause.

Question put,That the Clause be read a second time:—

The House Divided:Ayes 35,Noes130.