HC Deb 27 July 1976 vol 916 cc399-483

'.—(1) This section shall apply to any premises for which a public house licence is held—

  1. (a) if the holder of the licence gives notice of the application of the section to the premises in accordance with subsection (6) below, and
  2. (b) as from such date as may be specified in the said notice:

Provided that a licence-holder shall not give notice of application as aforesaid, and this section shall not apply to the premises for which he holds his licence, unless—

  1. (i) the licensing board for the area with in which the premises are situated is satisfied that the premises are structurally adapted and bona fide used, or intended to be used, for the purpose of habitually providing the customary main meal at midday or in the evening, or both, for the accommodation of persons frequenting the premises, and that the part of the premises mentioned in subsection (3) below does not contain a bar counter; and
  2. (ii) in the case of premises situated in a new town as defined in section 53 of this Act, the committee constituted under section 48 of this Act for the new town have notified the licence-holder that they have no objection to the application of this section to the premises.

(2) While this section applies to any premises, the effect shall be that for the purposes mentioned in subsection (3) below there shall be permitted hours in those premises on Sundays. such permitted hours being the period between half-past twelve and half-past two in the afternoon and the period between half-past six and eleven in the evening.

(3) The purposes referred to in subsection (2) above are—

  1. (a) the sale or supply to persons taking table meals in the premises of alcoholic liquor supplied in a part of the premises usually set apart for the service of such persons, and supplied for consumption by such a person in that part of the premises as an ancillary to his meal; and
  2. (b) the consumption of alcoholic liquor so supplied.

(4) While this section applies to any premises, then for purposes other than those mentioned in subsection (3) above, or in parts of the premises other than the part so mentioned, or except as provided by sections 58, 59 or 60 of this Act, there shall be no permitted hours on Sundays.

(5) This section shall cease to apply to premises on such day as may be specified in the notice if the holder of the licence gives notice of the disapplication of the section from the premises in accordance with subsection (6) below: Provided that this section shall cease to apply to premises at any time on the licensing board ceasing to be satisfied as mentioned in paragraph (i) of the proviso to subsection (1) above.

(6) A notice of the application of this section to, or of the disapplication of this section from, any premises—

  1. (a) shall be in writing;
  2. (b) shall, in the case of a notice of application, specify the date from which the section is to apply to the premises and, in the case of a notice of disapplication, state that the section is to cease to apply to the premises on the date specified in the notice;
  3. (c) shall be served on the chief constable not later than 14 days before the date specified as aforesaid.

(7) The holder of the licence for premises to which this section applies shall keep posted in some conspicuous place in the premises a notice stating that this section applies thereto and setting out the effect of its application, and if any licence-holder contravenes this subsection he shall be guilty of an offence.'.—[Mr. Milian.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

11.4 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Milan)

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

With this there is a considerable number of amendments to be discussed.

I hope that the House will bear with me if I explain how the amendments are grouped because it will be important when we vote.

The first group includes Government Amendments Nos. 43, 45, 55, 56, 57, 59, 91 and 97. This group, taken with New Clause 1, puts the Bill back into the state in which it was before the successful amendment moved in Committee to allow the Sunday opening of public houses. These amendments are a self-contained group and are internally consistent.

The second group includes Government Amendments Nos. 6, 10, 47 and 92, and Amendment (a) to the proposed new schedule, in paragraph 6, after "locality" insert or is opposed by the residents of the locality. This group of Government amendments represents the Government's fallback position if we are defeated on New Clause 1 and the associated amendments to remove Sunday opening from the Bill. I suggest that if hon. Members vote for the first amendment in these two groups, it will be logical to vote for the other amendments in each group.

The group of Opposition amendments includes New Clause 3—Limitation of Sunday opening: Location; New Clause 4—Application for Sunday opening licence; Amendment No. 46, in Clause 54, page 37, line 40, leave out from "when" to end of line 43 and insert There shall be no permitted hours"; and Amendment No. 49, in page 38, line 14, at end insert, '(5) Notwithstanding the provisions above, the permitted hours under subsection (2) above shall only include Sundays in licensing board areas where the adult population express a desire to have Sunday opening. (6) To establish public opinion under subsection (5) above, each licensing board shall, on a day to be appointed by the Secretary of State, hold a referendum on Sunday opening and if a majority of those voting in the referendum vote for Sunday opening, the permitted hours shall be deemed to include Sundays. (7) If, not later than 30 days of a date to be specified by the Secretary of State each five years from the date of the referendum under subsection (6) above, 10 per cent. of the electors in a licensing board area request a further referendum, the licensing board shall hold a further poll'. The main proposals, New Clauses 3 and 4, are virtually the same as some of the amendments under the second group. If those amendments are accepted, we should remove further confusion by not voting on the Opposition amendments.

Amendment No. 49 in the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) raises a separate issue on which the House must decide, though I think the hon. Member will accept that his amendment would fall if New Clause 1 were passed.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

The Minister rightly says that if the Government are successful with New Clause 1 and the associated amendments, the referendum amendment will fall because there will be nothing on which to have a referendum. But what will be the position of my amendment if the Government lose the amendments under the first group but win their fall-back position?

Mr. Millan

The House will be able to decide on the hon. Gentleman's amendment. My advice will be that we should decide against it, but it is a matter for hon. Members.

I do not want to explain all the amendments in the first two groups. It would not add to the clarity of the situation. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will accept that these two groupings are self-contained and consistent, and if I explain their general purpose I hope that it will not be necessary to explain them in considerable detail. I would make a few introductory remarks at the outset because this question of Sunday opening of pubs has excited a tremendous amount of public comment in Scotland.

Before I come to the main arguments I would say a few things by way of introduction. There has been a suggestion that on a matter of this sort we should simply accept what the Clayson Committee has recommended. In order that there is no misunderstanding, I should say right away that I do not believe that to be a proper relationship between any committee and the decision of this House. These matters are matters for this House and not for the Clayson Committee. Similarly, they are not matters solely for the Standing Committee on the Bill. This is a matter of such importance that it was inevitable—

Mr. Hamish Watt (Banff)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Milan

I had hoped not at this early stage.

Mr. Watt

Would the Minister not agree that in respect of the whole question of licensing in Scotland it would have been much more appropriate had the Scottish Assembly been left to decide the matter?

Mr. Milan

I hope that we are not going to have that kind of interjection because I have a lot to say. I do not want to make my speech too lengthy, but I want to say a number of things about this group of amendments. This is the only long speech that I wish to make and I hope that I shall be allowed to make it.

I was making the point that on an issue of this sort. I do not believe that one should take the view of the Standing Committee as the final word on the matter. There has been misunderstanding outside, I think genuine misunderstanding but, unfortunately, that misunderstanding has been encouraged by certain people who ought to know better who have suggested that somehow or other the Government are going against the will of the House. I would remind hon. Members that the will of the House has not yet been expressed.

On this matter I have accepted all along that there must be a free vote. These are all matters of conscience and there is no Whip on the Government side of the House. There has never been any intention on my part to put a Whip on the Government side. I make that absolutely clear because there has been a lot of completely misinformed, as well as some malicious, comment outside in this respect. I have not attempted to Whip my own Scottish Members or English Members. Nor have I attempted to influence the ministerial votes either in the Scottish Office or elsewhere. I know that one of my colleagues in the Scottish Office intends to vote against my own view on this matter. There has been a certain amount of comment in the Press, but there has never been any intention of using ministerial votes.

I would also say a word about English Members in relation to the Division when it is called. I very much hope that this will basically be a decision of Scottish Members. It is not, of course, possible for me—it would be completely improper—to suggest that English Members are not entitled to vote on this issue. They are entitled to vote just as, on other issues, Scottish Members within the last few days have voted on what have been exclusively English matters. I see nothing wrong in principle about that and, therefore, there has been no intention on my part to say that English Members should not vote. Nevertheless, I hope that at the end of the day the vote will represent Scottish opinion on this matter.

A final point I want to make by way of introduction relates to the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Cathcart. I have never been in favour of settling this issue by means of local polls or a referendum. The hon. Member for Cathcart has tabled an amendment on that subject. I will not deal with the details of it now because my hon. Friend, in winding up the debate, will be able to pick up individual points. I would merely say that I do not believe that experience of local polls in the past gives us much ground for optimism that this is a satisfactory way of dealing with this difficult subject.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

Is the right hon. Gentleman thereby suggesting that that system does not work in Wales?

Mr. Millan

I have enough trouble dealing with Scotland without making any comment on Wales. I would only say that I think that we should decide these matters in the light of Scottish interests and not pay too much attention to what happens in Wales or anywhere else.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Before the Secretary of State leaves that point—

Mr. Milian

I hope that I shall not be interrupted too frequently or this speech will be far too lengthy and eventually will become irksome to the House.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

The Secretary of State said that his hon. Friend would deal with Amendment No. 49 in his winding-up speech. Surely he is not suggesting that we are debating the three groups of amendments together. Surely the logical thing is to debate the first group first, then, depending on the result of the vote, the second group, and then the third group.

Mr. Millan

I think that I have made it clear that the way in which the selection has been done means that we are debating all three groups together.

I want to come to the main arguments on the question of Sunday opening. There are a number of arguments here and I shall mention some of them only fleetingly because they are not matters which weigh particularly heavily with me. That does not mean that I do not accept that they weigh heavily with other hon. Members. These are matter of personal conviction.

The Sabbatarian argument, for example, does not weigh heavily with me, but I understand that there are parts of Scotland and some hon. Members for whom that is the main and conclusive argument. I would say only that it is not for me the conclusive argument. I am expressing here basically my own view, although it is the view that the Government took when introducing the Bill. Similarly, some people feel that Sunday opening would be extremely damaging to family life in Scotland on a Sunday. Again, that is a point of view that I respect but it is not the argument which weighs most heavily with me.

Those are not even the arguments which weighed most heavily with the Church of Scotland when it made representations to me. It was neither the Sabbatarian nor the family life argument which it deployed with me. It was in fact the arguments, to which I shall come in a minute, about the problems of alcoholism and drunkenness in Scotland, There has also been mention of the views of publicans and their staff. Questions have been raised about the standards of premises. These are all important matters which no doubt will be argued tonight, but my own view is that the matter which no doubt will be argued tonight, but my own view is that the matter which is the most important is that of health and alcoholism and the various consequences which flow from the present alcoholism problem in Scotland. If I were to put my view on this in a sentence, I would say that Scotland has a drink problem and that Sunday opening will make that problem worse.

Mr. Tom Litterick (Bimingham, Selly Oak)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Millan

As I said, I do not want to be constantly interrupted, but I shall give way on this occasion.

Mr. Litterick

Since my right hon. Friend has made something of that point, will he give us factual advice of the comparable incidence of alcoholism in England and Scotland, so that those of us who do not represent Scottish constituencies can better understand what he is saying?

Mr. Millan

I was going to give both the Scottish and the English figures, if hon. Members will allow me to deploy my argument, I hope to cover a number of the matters in which they are interested.

Alcoholism is a major health problem in Scotland at the minute, but it is more than that. It is a social problem as well. The problems of excessive drinking and alcoholism cause a tremendous number of social problems which come the way of the social work departments in many areas and are a considerable social burden on the community. They are also related to the incidence of crime in Scotland at every level from minor to major crimes. Anyone who has read the histories of life prisoners, as I have had to do during the last two or three months, will be depressed by the incidence of excessive drinking in crimes at that level, much less in the thousands of petty crimes that take place.

I want to give some statistics of hospital admissions in Scotland on the ground of alcoholism. The figures have gone up in an alarming way. In 1957 there were 840 admissions. In 1974 they had risen to 5,417. They now represent 20 per cent. of all admissions to psychiatric hospitals in Scotland. What is more, the rate of increase has accelerated over recent years. The problem is getting worse, not better.

There has been a substantial increase in offences of drunkenness in recent years. Indeed, the Blennerhassett report brought out the fact that drunken driving is a worse problem in Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom. The figures are indeed striking. The total cost to Scotland of alcoholism is now reckoned to be about £35 million a year through absenteeism, loss of training, accidents and reduced output in industry, quite apart from the tremendous social cost. That figure will be given in the report on Health Services in Scotland for 1975 which I hope will be published later this week.

Those who believe that we do not need to worry particularly about this problem, despite these dramatic figures, because we can leave it to the National Health Service or social work departments, exhibit a remarkable degree of complacency.

The report on Health Services in Scotland, referring to the treatment of alcoholism, states: There is no wonder cure for alcoholism. The fact is that, even if we could afford to increase our facilities in the hospital service much more rapidly than we can afford to do so at the moment, that would not deal with the problem, because we are dealing with something that cannot easily be cured by medical or, indeed, by any other means.

Therefore, we have an increasing problem which, in certain parts of Scotland—not least the Highlands—is extremely serious. There is no easy way out of it through the hospital service, social work departments, and so on. That is a sombre background.

Whatever individual Members' views may be about Sunday opening of public houses, I hope that they will bear in mind that we are dealing with an extremely serious health and alcoholism problem in Scotland.

We must ask ourselves whether the licensing system has any part to play in controlling this problem. I think that it has. It is not by itself a remedy, but it has a part to play in controlling the problem. If it does not have a part to play, I wonder why we have a licensing system at all. To those who say that the licensing system is irrelevant, I simply say that is not the experience over the years. We have a licensing system for a variety of reasons. One is that, without a licensing system, some of the problems would be completely out of control.

The licensing system has a relevant part to play in this matter because, although a good deal of judgment is involved and there is no certainty, there is not much doubt that increased consumption of alcohol overall leads to increased drunkenness, alcoholism and social problems.

Taking the United Kingdom as a whole, the consumption of alcohol has increased rapidly in recent years. For example, the consumption of spirits has risen from 19 million proof gallons in 1964–65 to 32 million proof gallons—almost double—in 1973–74. In the same period, the consumption of wine has increased from 27 million gallons to 68 million gallons—two and a half times as much. There has also been an increase in the consumption of beer of about 33 per cent. That increased consumption is undoubtedly leading to increased drunkenness and alcoholism and all the problems that flow from that.

The evidence on the increased availability of drink is not as clear as that on increased consumption, but the balance of evidence is that increased availability of liquor leads to an increase in drunkenness and alcoholism and all their associated problems. It is true that once a person is an alcoholic, closing public houses on Sundays or even seven days a week will not be much use. Alcoholism is a serious and difficult problem to which no-one has the answer, but the licensing system has a role to play.

I accept that most Scots, like most people in other parts of the world, drink sensibly. Drink is not a problem for them nor is it likely to become one. But we are dealing with a significant minority of people for whom drink is a problem and one which, in some cases, becomes out of control.

In determining our views on these matters we have to strike a balance between the convenience of the majority, for whom drink is not a problem, and the dangers that will be created by a greater liberalisation of the law which will lead to an increase in the problems. The issue concerns where we strike that balance between the convenience of the ordinary citizen who should be able to drink without unreasonable constraints and the dangers created by being too liberal in our licensing laws. That can only be a matter of judgment.

Apart from the Sunday opening issue, the Bill is a liberalising measure which lengthens opening hours during the week. That is sensible for the social convenience and habits of the majority. Even that by itself, will lead to increased consumption and ultimately to an increased alcoholism problem. In my judgment, that is a price that we should be willing to pay for the convenience of the majority of citizens. But, if we go too far in this liberalisation we shall go over the edge of acceptability and increase the problems of the minority who cannot control their drinking and who are potential victims of alcoholism. We would take too great a risk with the Scottish population as a whole.

Although Sunday drinking and the Sunday opening of public houses cannot be demonstrated in any logical or decisive way to push us over that edge, I believe that if we make this change—which is so considerable as to amount to a qualitative change—it will push us over that edge, cause damage and increase all the problems. While one can defend the liberalisation in the Bill of evening drinking, once one adds Sunday opening to that, the balance shifts and one takes a risk with the health of the people of Scotland. As the Minister responsible, I am not willing to take that risk.

11.30 p.m.

I know very well that the present Sunday licensing laws are not logical. In fact, the licensing laws generally are not logical. It is not a matter on which one can achieve complete logicality. The present Sunday situation is unsatisfactory. But it is better that we should continue with that unsatisfactory situation than attempt to solve it in a way which will lead to even bigger problems. That is why I am against Sunday opening of public houses.

Mr. George Younger (Ayr)

If the Secretary of State's argument so far is valid, would not those areas in which drink is freely available on Sundays, because of the number of hotels, have the highest incidence of alcoholism? Has the right hon. Gentleman any evidence to show that that is so?

Mr. Millan

The trouble is that in the places in which hotels are open on Sundays the drinkers are not necessarily the people who live in the area. Therefore, the question of evidence cannot—

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Will my right hon. Friend explain what he means by that? Is he suggesting that, for example, people who drink in hotels in Aberdeen in the main come from outside Aberdeen?

Mr. Millan

I was not thinking specifically of Aberdeen. I should have thought it to be common ground that there are some areas where there are more hotels than others, and that in those areas Sunday drinking is not confined to the local residents. It is part of the complaint of people living in those areas, in favour of the Sunday opening of public houses, that they do not like people coming in from outside. I am simply saying that the kind of evidence for which the hon. Gentleman asked cannot be produced to demonstrate the incidence of alcoholism in one area compared with another. The area with the worst alcoholism in Scotland is the Highlands. My impression is that that is the area where the availability of drink is highest, for various reasons which I do not want to go into now.

It may very well be that we made a mistake in what we did about Sunday opening of hotels. Perhaps if we could look at the matter again we should come to a different conclusion, but it would be extremely difficult to do that. Once one liberalises the licensing laws in one direction it is very difficult to turn the clock back. The pressure is always for continued liberalisation.

My view is that if the House decides on the Sunday opening of public houses, against my advice, it will be extremely difficult, even for the Assembly, at any time to reverse that decision. It is the slippery slope argument.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is a terrible indictment of the Scottish character that for some reason behaviour on the Scottish side of the border seems to be drastically different from that in the North of England? Has the right hon. Gentleman been able to discover why people in the North of England can drink on Sundays and the rest of the week and behave reasonably, whereas, according to what he has said, that cannot be the case north of the border?

Mr. Millan

I am coming to that. One of the arguments that have been advanced in favour of Sunday drinking—and it obviously affected the judgment of the Clayson Committee—was that by liberalising the licensing laws in this way one would introduce more civilised drinking circumstances in Scotland and that that would reduce the Scottish drinking problem. In my judgment, that is the most wishful of wishful thinking. I do not believe that this is a matter which can be wholly explained in terms of the licensing laws.

But to those who ask "Why cannot we be like the English? There is no problem in England", I should like to give the English figures. There is a myth that there is no problem of alcoholism in England. In fact, it is now increasing as rapidly as in Scotland, despite the so-called civilized English drinking habits. The figures for hospital admissions in England have gone up from 7,600 in 1967 to 13,200 in 1974. The problem of alcoholism is increasing rapidly in England and Wales, and the Advisory Committee on Alcoholism has drawn attention in a recent report to the fact that—

Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark)

I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but it would be a pity if he were to use figures that could in any way be said to mislead the House. He must be aware that with a number of diseases, for such alcoholism is, an increased capacity for diagnosis is frequently responsible for increasing figures of hospital admissions.

Mr. Millan

The problem of alcoholism is not a problem of diagnosis. I was about to give the figures, which are not disputed, and then to make a general comment. Whereas in England admissions to mental hospitals were increasing by about 5 per cent. a year before 1969, since then they have been increasing by an average of more than 10 per cent. a year, and in later years by an average of 13 per cent. a year. So the English, starting from lower base figures, now face an alcoholism problem that is increasing as rapidly as is that in Scotland. Therefore, the idea that if we open the pubs on Sunday we shall somehow civilise the situation in Scotland and go to the English situation and not have an increase in alcoholism does not bear serious examination.

But at the end of the day these are matters of judgment and individual hon. Members will have to make the decision for themselves. It is one of the characteristics of the alcoholic that he refuses to recognise that he has a problem before it is too late. I suggest that many people in Scotland are refusing to recognise that we have a drink problem in Scotland and that they will not recognise it until it is too late. I therefore strongly advise the House to reverse the decision taken by the Standing Committee. That is the purport and effect of New Clause 1 and the various amendments related to it.

If the House does not do that, I hope that hon. Members will nevertheless vote for the second group of amendments, which from the Government point of view represent a fall-back position, although not a very satisfactory fall-back position, and I hope that hon. Members will not think that the problem will be solved simply by voting for the fall-back position. Government Amendment No. 6 and the amendments following from it have the effect that if there were a move to stretch a public house licence from six days to seven days. whenever that move took place it would involve a new application for the seventh day and that application would attract the various rights of objection written into the Bill for a new application for a licence. I want to make it absolutely clear that in any case the effective date for Sunday opening will be 1st July 1977, which is when the licensing boards come into operation. The application for the seventh day could not result in the existing licence for the six days being taken away.

I accept that there has been an argument about standards of premises, and the standards in Scotland need to be improved, but they should be improved for all seven days of the week, and if the premises are not suitable for the seventh day, they cannot be suitable for the other six. By the Bill and the licensing boards we should try to eliminate unsatisfactory premises. There is no logic in taking away a licence for the whole week on the basis that the premises are not structually suitable and of a sufficient standard for the seventh day.

Another test is applied by the amendments. It is that of public nuisance, of an undue disturbance in the locality. Therefore, one can make a distinction between a licence which is operative for six days, and a licence which is operative for seven. Any public house, even a well-managed one, normally involves a certain amount of nuisance in the locality. That is almost inevitable. One could take the view that what might be tolerable for six days a week, could go beyond the bounds of tolerability for those living in the area if a public house opened on the seventh day as well.

The test applied in the new schedule is the test of undue disturbance or public nuisance. I hope that that will deal with the problem of public houses in the tenement properties. This is a very serious problem in some of our cities. Another part of the schedule allows for Sunday restriction orders. Again, this is related to the concept of undue disturbance or public nuisance.

This is a description of the fall-back position. I do not consider this second group of amendments as being anywhere near as satisfactory as the first group. Those who are as worried as I am about the problem of alcoholism will be deceiving themselves if they believe that the second group of amendment will deal adequately with that issue.

Hon. Members take the view that I take on the subject of Sunday opening should vote for the first group of amendments. If we are defeated on them—and I hope that we shall not be—I hope that the House will accept the second group, which are not significantly different in purpose or effect from the amendments in New Clauses 3 and 4, put down by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

I have deliberately kept the tone of my remarks at something less than an emotive level, although this sort of approach has not necessarily characterised a good deal of Press and other comment in recent weeks. I hope that the House will not misunderstand, and think that this is because of lack of strong conviction or personal feeling. I feel very strongly indeed about the problem of alcoholism which we have in Scotland at the moment. Therefore I shall resist very strongly indeed any measure which would carry a possibility of increasing that problem in any significant way.

I ask the House to vote for New Clause 1. If it does, all other amendments in the first group should be carried through correspondingly, so that we get a consistent Bill. If New Clause 1 is defeated, then I do not propose to move the other amendments in that group. It is not sensible to vote for every individual amendment. If the new clause is accepted, the second and third groups of amendments will fall. If New Clause 1 is defeated I shall move Government Amendment No. 6, and if that is successful I shall move all the other amendments in that group. If it were unsuccessful, the others would fall.

We should try to organise the vote on this contentious issue in a way which will give a clear indication of the House's opinion, and of Scottish opinion. I hope that this expression of opinion will endorse the view which I have put to the House.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

I think that the whole House will agree that it is not satisfactory for the House to have to consider, after 11 o'clock at night, a long list of amendments on which discussion is clearly destined to go through the early hours of the morning.

Mr. Millan

The hon. Member knows that this way of proceeding was agreed with the official Opposition.

Mr. Rifkind

If the House were aware of the options open to us it would not disagree with the view that I originally put forward.

Many hon. Members will feel on this group of amendments that it was not altogether necessary for the Government to reverse the opinion expressed by the Standing Committee. On a free vote with all parties split, it came down in a clear majority to a decision that the Government are now seeking to reverse. There was a clear majority in each of the main parties. Now the Government have brought the matter before the House in an attempt to reverse the Committee decision.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

The hon. Gentleman is perpetuating the sort of nonsense we have been getting from my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). It is perfectly proper for the House to reverse decisions made in Committee, and it is time we got that nonsense out of the way because it has been bedevilling the whole argument.

Mr. Rifkind

Each hon. Member must make up his own mind about that.

The House is faced with a clear question of principle on the general issue. Fortunately that will have to be determined on the first new clause.

Those on both sides who supported the amendment in Committee did so taking account of the clear views expressed by both major committees which have examined in great depth the whole question of licensing in Scotland over the last 20 years. In 1960 the Guest Committee first recommended that public houses should be allowed to open on a Sunday. That view was not accepted by the then Government. Thirteen years later in 1973 the Clayson Committee, after more exhaustive study, recommended unanimously in favour of the proposal subsequently carried in the Standing Committee. It is important that the two independent committees representing a wide body of opinion in Scotland felt able to favour the proposal so strongly.

It is important also to bear in mind the bodies which put their views to the Clayson Committee. The report pointed out that while those opposed to Sunday opening were almost exclusively the temperance movement and the Church of Scotland, there was on the other hand a vast majority of organisations which made representations to the contrary. They included all the local authority associations, the catering and tourist organisations, not surprisingly, the Brewers' Association of Scotland and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and many others. They included the Roman Catholic bishops, apart from those bodies that might be said to have a direct financial interest in licensing. When there are such diverse bodies as the STUC, the local authorities and the chief police officers all recommending in favour, clearly they represent a substantial body of opinion that one can reject only after serious consideration.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

The Church of Scotland's recommendation has to be taken into account.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. One has to balance the views of the Church of Scotland and the temperance societies against the views of local authorities, the chief constables, the STUC, the Roman Catholic bishops and a number of other bodies and organisations. That is something that the House should take into account when considering the matter.

The Secretary of State concentrated, quite properly, on the serious problem of alcoholism in Scotland. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the problem is not confined to Scotland. It is an increasing problem south of the border—namely, in England. I think that all hon. Members, whatever their views on the new clause, are equally concerned about the problem of alcoholism and finding the best way of dealing with it. The question is whether it is directly relevant to Sunday opening.

I suggest to the Secretary of State that although his argument was carefully presented it was unsound for two reasons. First, the spirit in which he presented it was contrary to the whole spirit of the Bill, which has been introduced by a Government of which he is a prominent member. If it is the basis of his argument that by increasing the permitted hours by opening public houses on a Sunday we shall increase the problem of alcoholism, that is difficult to sustain against the argument that we should support the other parts of the Bill that increase permitted hours on the other six days. That is fundamentally an illogical position. To be fair to the Secretary of State, he conceded that it was fundamentally illogical.

It is necessary to ask the right hon. Gentleman and those who support his point of view how they reconcile that position with the rest of the Bill. It is easy for certain Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), who oppose the whole Bill and the liberalisation of the licensing laws. I can understand their argument. At least those who are in total opposition are logical, even if one does not agree with them. It is clearly illogical for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that it is permissible to increase the permitted hours on the six days but not on the seventh.

I said that there were two reasons for the right hon. Gentleman's argument being unsound, and the second is equally important. His argument would be proper and might be convincing if it were not possible at present to obtain alcoholic liquor on a Sunday. If there were no availability in Scotland on a Sunday it could be argued that the consumption of liquor would be increased tremendously as a result of such a proposal, but as the right hon. Gentleman conceded, anyone who wishes to drink in Scotland on a Sunday can do so. Hotels throughout Scotland provide this form of refreshment. There are many clubs whose raison d'être is to provide that sort of refreshment. It is because of the problems of overcrowding and associated difficulties that various people, including the chief constables, have recommended in favour of this change.

The right hon. Gentleman correctly pointed out that many of those who frequent hotels for alcoholic liquor on a Sunday do not necessarily live in the vicinity. This is part of the problem. It is because of the non-availability of alcoholic liquor in public houses that many people travel sometimes considerable distances for such refreshment. Therefore, the dangers of drunken driving are increased. To get alcoholic refreshment, especially in rural areas, it is sometimes necessary to traverse considerable distances.

There is a further problem. Although there is a considerable availability of hotels serving alcoholic liquor in many of the cities and the more prosperous areas, in the industrial areas there is not the same availability. Equally, many persons in areas which are not well served by hotels have to travel a considerable distance in order to get the refreshment they require.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

Surely the hon. Member will recognise his difficulty in proceeding with this argument about drunken driving in relation to the fact that only hotels and clubs are open on a Sunday, because the highest incidence of drunken driving is on Friday and Saturday, when public houses, hotels, clubs and all licensed hotels are open. The lowest incidence is on Sunday.

Mr. Rifkind

The Minister cannot have it both ways. At the moment, if only hotels are available for the supply of alcoholic liquor, those who do not live near them but wish such refreshment have to travel. If they are not within walking distance, the vast majority of people travel by car. This is so obvious that one need not dwell on it for any time. It is a direct consequence of the existing law, and the reason that certain bodies recommended that the change ought to be made.

Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Garscadden)

If Sunday opening becomes possible as a matter of law, will it then be illegal for any public house not to open on a Sunday?

Mr. Rifkind

I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman asked me that question. I was intending to make this specific point. If the views of the Standing Committee are endorsed by the House, and if public houses are permitted to open on a Sunday, it is quite clear from the provisions of the Bill—and no one has taken exception—that it will be totally at the discretion of the licensee whether he wishes to exercise that right. If the hon. Gentleman and others wish to confirm this point, they should refer to Clause 55(5), which makes it quite clear that there is total discretion whether a public house or other licensed premises should be opened at any time during the permitted hours. It is totally discretionary. This point is important, because I believe, as I am sure many hon. Members do, that it would be quite wrong to force licensees or licensed premises to open irrespective of their own wishes on this matter.

Mrs. Margaret Bain (Dunbartonshire, East)

Is not the position that many licensed premises are brewery-owned, and that therefore managers and families would be forced to work on their only free day?

Mr. Rifkind

This problem is less prevalent in Scotland than south of the border for tied houses. It is not the same significance. As I think the hon. Lady will agree, nowadays it is very difficult to force people to work against their will. We have many examples of this in many walks of life. Any employer who sought to impose such conditions would be treated with very short shrift. I do not think that the hon. Lady need worry much about that. I do not believe that in present circumstances it would be likely to be a serious problem.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Would it not be very difficult for an employee to say to an employer "I do not want to work on Sunday" when there are 165,000 unemployed people? Would an employee be able to say to a brewery that he did not want to work on a Sunday and yet expect to keep his job.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirling-shire)

He should join a decent trade union.

Mr. Rifkind

The simple fact is that those who do not wish to work on a Sunday would not need to do so. I do not believe that licensed premises would have any difficulty in finding persons willing to work if so required, especially given the level of unemployment to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart refers. But I do not think that this is a serious matter which should detain the House.

Those of us who supported the amendment in Committee were very conscious that Sunday is a day with different characteristics and traditions compared with the other days of the week. It is for that reason that the amendment that was carried makes it quite clear that the permitted hours on a Sunday will not be the same as those on the other days of the week and will begin one hour later, to allow persons coming home from church not to be pestered or bothered in a way that might otherwise be possible. The hours in the evening are also different in order to take account of that.

The Minister referred to his fall-back position and to the various safeguard clauses which the Government intend to move if their initial amendment fails. If we are to implement this change, which I believe to be important and desirable, there should be safeguards to meet the genuine concern that is felt by many people in Scotland and the problems that may arise as a result of such change.

If the House rejects the Government's advice on the first group of amendments, most of my hon. Friends who supported the amendment in Committee and I shall be willing to support the Government's fall-back amendments, which afford safeguards. It is important to reach middle ground and to find a sensible compromise on this position. It is one which may easily be supported.

12 midnight

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

My hon. Friend dealt with the concept of the fall-back position. That seems to guarantee that where no public nuisance is created a publican is bound to be allowed a licence. In a tenement situation there would be a nuisance. In a village situation there would not be a nuisance. That is the absolute reverse of the requirement, is it not?

Mr. Rifkind

If we read the amendment referred to, it is clear that the licensing board is given a discretion to consider all the circumstances presented to it by the applicant and objectors and to take into account the usual criteria that affect all applications for licences. That is a reasonable approach to these matters. It will meet the legitimate problem.

This provides an excellent opportunity for hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies to remove what the Secretary of State conceded was the present unsatisfactory situation of licensing north of the border. I say to hon. Members representing constituencies in England and Wales that this is an opportunity to provide for Scotland the same civilised licensing hours as the public south of the border have enjoyed for many years. However, I do not think that the Secretary of State's amendment would do other than continue an illogical, inconsistent and unsatisfactory system of licensing. For that reason I hope that the House will not approve it.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I was disappointed that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) should have complained about the time when this business is being taken. One hon. Member suggested that we were faced with Hobson's choice. If we had wished we might have taken this business during the daytime next week. However, the balance of convenience for Scottish Members of Parliament was in favour of taking the matter this week, even at this time of night. That was generally agreed on both sides of the House.

It was proper for the Government to put down an amendment to restore the position in the Bill. It ill becomes those who criticise the inability of Government Back-Bench Members to exercise a choice to say that the Bill was taken upstairs and that therefore there was no possibility of our properly discussing the matter by means of well-drafted amendments. With the best will in the world, and with the best advice, Back-Bench Members do not necessarily get the drafting right. That causes further confusion. I have no complaints about the Government putting down amendments to restore the position.

The main burden of the Secretary of State's case is that the opening of pubs on Sundays would lead inevitably to some measurable, or immeasurable, amount of alcoholism. To some extent he is making a judgment on how people become alcoholics. He admitted that there was an inconsistency. We may extend the hours on six days of the week and allow an extra six hours' drinking time, but apparently that does not have the same effect as opening on a Sunday. The Secretary of State made a relevant point when he said that the increase in alcoholism was related to the quantity of drink consumed.

I am not a medical expert on alcoholism, but it is conceivable that people become alcoholics because their tolerance level rises and they gradually drink more and more until they become dependent upon it. The increase in alcoholism might be related to the extension of time by one hour a day. People may consume more each day because of that extension. But even that is arguable because we all know of the 10 o'clock "swill". The question is not clear-cut.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the operation of off-licences has a bearing?

Mr. Hughes

It is bound to have a bearing. Although the Secretary of State gave figures of the overall increase in consumption of spirits, beer and wine, he did not suggest that that increase was accounted for only by consumption in pubs. Probably most of the increase in consumption has been in the home or in restaurants, where families drink with their meals more than they did in the past.

The argument about alcoholism is to some extent fallacious. It takes us closer to prohibition, and hon. Members on both sides of the House may argue that the amount of alcohol available from all sources should be reduced.

There have been considerable changes in drinking habits over the years. There used to be bona fide travellers, but that system was a nonsense and had to be done away with because the law was being abused.

Mr. Tom McMillan (Glasgow, Central)

The abolition of the bona fide traveller rule in 1962 led to the horrible mess we have today. In 1962 a family could go anywhere at any time of day and get refreshment, but that system was abolished and now we have boxes of drink.

Mr. Hughes

I do not follow my hon. Friend's argument entirely. The old bona fide traveller rule was not intended for family drinking. I am satisfied that the bona fide traveller rule made the position more unsatisfactory than it is today. There is free access to clubs on Sundays. People are not supposed to drink in clubs unless they have been properly introduced and are well known to a member, but if we are honest we must admit that the strict letter of the law is not being followed in every club. It does not help respect for the law if we in Parliament pass laws but turn a blind eye to the fact that the laws are not being observed or enforced.

There is certainly free access to certain hotels—those open for drinking—but even there the situation is not satisfactory because going into many hotels in Scotland is a bit of a crush. I am not satisfied that the civilised atmosphere for drinking for which most of us wish is present.

One serious question has not been properly answered and that is about the staff involved in working on Sunday. They have to work six days a week and they look forward to Sunday off. They feel that they will be under pressure to work, and in spite of what has been said about it being easy to get people to work on Sundays, that may be so for the wrong reasons. It may not be the big pool of labour willing to work but the reverse—that the pressure of that pool of unemployed is on the present staff who feel compelled to accept work on a Sunday even though they do not want to.

In that event, we have to accept that we cannot at all times decide the general law of the nation solely on the grounds of the inconvenience to one group. We have therefore to balance the inconvenience of one group against that of another. I seriously suggest to those working at this occupation that if they have not already done so, they should, whatever the circumstances, join a strong trade union and band together to ensure safe and reasonable working conditions. I would accept that the conditions in which most public house staffs work are intolerable. I do not believe that they are properly paid or that they have proper working conditions. That is a remedy which should be open to them now and is not affected by this change, although I accept that they think it is.

There is strong ground for relating some of the control to public nuisance. I would agree that the nuisance for people living above a public house is serious.

On the second group of amendments, we should have to wait until 1977 before licensing boards can begin to consider applications and begin to enforce them on grounds of amenity and public nuisance. It may be dependent on how the House votes, but the Government can do something about filling in the position between now and 1977.

My balance of judgment is that the convenience of the majority should rule. We should oppose the first group of amendments and the second and leave the Bill as it is. Having said that, I hope that the Government will find an in-between fall-back position on public nuisance. I do not believe that it can be covered in the way proposed today. This debate has naturally caused a great deal of public comment and passionate argument by those who sincerely believe that it is a retrograde step to open pubs on Sunday. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is the wee frees."] An hon. Member says that it is the wee frees. I am not a member of the wee frees or of any other Church, but it does not follow that I do not respect their views. They are entitled to them, just as I am entitled to disagree with them. One should not dismiss an argument because it comes from a particular source. We are faced with a serious problem about drinking.

My balance of judgment is that the convenience of the majority overrides the possible consequences—which I do not believe will be as dire as has been predicted. We should leave the Bill as it was when it left the Committee.

12.15 a.m.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

The Minister was right when he said that this issue had aroused passions in Scotland. It has also encouraged some hon. Members to do some unusual things.

The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) who is supposed to be the great architect of Sunday opening, as well as a leading devolutionist, has sent an open letter to the newspapers appealing to English Members to help force through Sunday opening of public houses in Scotland, irrespective of the views of Scottish Members and the Scottish people. In addition, I found in a wastepaper basket, where I was depositing something else, a Whip sent out by one of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench urging English Members to vote.

There is nothing wrong with English, Welsh or Irish Members voting if they have been here to listen to the arguments, but I object to the trendy hon. Members from both sides who look in occasionally to find out when we shall be voting and do not have a clue about the issue or the special problems of Scotland.

I suggest to the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian and some of my hon. Friends that if we have Sunday opening forced on the people of Scotland by trendy English Members who have not been here to listen to the debate, we shall be doing a great disservice to the Scottish people.

I see that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) is here. He is entitled to vote because he has listened to the arguments, for and against. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) may disagree with my views, but he has been here for the debate and I say good luck to him, let him play his part. However, it will be a shameful outrage if trendy Members come in and vote at the end of the debate just because they want to undermine another moral stance in Scotland.

Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)

I shared a similar fear to that of the hon. Member, but I was concerned that a group of non-trendy hon. Members might come in to reverse a decision taken by hon. Members, from many constituencies, who were concerned about this matter. Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that we should like the decision to be taken by those who have listened to and taken part in the arguments?

Mr. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman does not help to achieve that objective by sending an open letter to the Press. Not does my misguided hon. Friend who sent out the Whip to English Members.

One worry of hon. Members who are basically against Sunday opening is that it is anomalous to have overcrowded hotels on Sundays where people queue five deep at the bars, holding out £1 and £5 notes for drinks. I know that some hon. Members believe that we cannot allow that situation to continue but wonder whether, as with devolution, once we get on the slippery slope we shall be able to stop.

I say to those hon. Members that there is a way. As a result of the veto legislation, mine is the only constituency in Scotland with no public houses, but that does not mean that the people of Cathcart do not drink. Some drink a lot and frequently. However, because of the way in which the law operates, one can drink only in certain places. One must be an ex-Service man, in which case one can drink at the British Legion Club; a member of the Labour Party can drink at the Labour Club; or a bowler can drink at one of the many very good bowling clubs in the constituency. There are also some licensed restaurants, including a very nice one called the Old Smiddy.

Some people will say that this situation is anomalous. I have been to these places and although, as a teetotaller, I do not take drink, I have enjoyed myself there. We should not be facing the problem that we are now discussing if we had such premises throughout Scotland. Such places as these—the Labour Club, the British Legion and the bowling clubs—are places where a husband and wife can have a drink and something to eat and where they can have a good time in proper circumstances. There are many places such as that and I suggest that is what we should aim for.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Although I am not a Scot I spent the war in a couple of Scottish regiments and I go to Scotland regularly to see friends. I always go up for a holiday during the summer holiday. I am appalled at the feudalism of the argumentation I am listening to from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. I hope that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) is not going to make a speech. He is now giving us a history of his journeys in Scotland. He must make an intervention in the form of a question to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor).

Mr. Flannery

An intervention can be a tiny speech and that is what—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Certainly not while I am in the Chair. Mr. Taylor.

Mr. Fairbairn

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Let us get this point cleared up first. Has the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough completed his intervention?

Mr. Flannery

I will complete it, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The point I am making in my wee speech is that it is an uncivilised practice to be unable to get a drink on a Sunday in a Scottish town. We should throw that idea out because it is feudal and backward and I am staggered to hear that kind of argumentation. That is my intervention, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Fairbairn


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am calling Mr. Taylor. If the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart, wants to give way he can do so.

Mr. Fairbairn

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, I did not hear the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn).

Mr. Fairbairn

I was dismayed and upset just now, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could you rule on the meaning of the word "argumentation" because it does not mean anything to the Scots although it may mean something to the English?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I think that we are too sober at the moment to rule on that word. Mr. Taylor.

Mr. Taylor

I would say to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) that we should not just make laws for our tourists. We should make laws for the people who have to live in Scotland for 52 weeks a year and seven days a week, some of them living in pretty appalling housing conditions. Had the Government approached this Bill with that intention—unfortunately they have not—and had they tried to do something to change the character of Scottish drinking—they have not—I would not have been opposed to reform. But all the Government are doing is extending the hours of drinking and basically nothing else at all.

In the present anomalous situation we have hotels sprouting up all over the place, and in the most unusual places, where people certainly would not want to go to spend a holiday or even a night. Some of the owners might drop dead if they were asked for a room. This anomalous situation has arisen because of those who want change. Such people argue that we have tycoons coming from Chicago and flying from Dusseldorf who want to drop off in Scotland and build a £20 million factory in the constituency of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie). It is argued that if those people do not get a drink on Sunday they might not build their factory. Now it is suggested that if we let such a person have a drink he should sign a paper stating where he is going to and where he came from.

It is also argued there are many parts of Scotland where drinking is not a bad problem. I was in a town recently where there is a hotel with a bar open on Sunday. It is not overcrowded and it is a pleasant place to drink. It was called the Kingsley Hotel in Brodick. There are many places such as this. I am sure that even the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), who leads the Liberal Party, would agree if he listened a little more closely to what I am saying. Is this such a crazy situation? I believe that it will sort itself out. There will be more hotels and clubs. The standards of these premises will he much better than those of the hell holes.

Under the Bill, what incentive is there for the latter to improve? An appalling hell hole can make a fortune by packing in men, standing at the bar drinking themselves silly and drinking their families into appalling financial trouble. But if a nice hotel or club were allowed to open for seven days a week, there would be an incentive for improvement.

The situation may be anomalous now but it is improving. We are getting more hotels and clubs. With time and pure capitalism, demand and supply will come together and drinking conditions will improve in Scotland.

Mr. Robert Hughes

The hon. Member has a nerve to say that beneficent capitalists will in time improve the drinking situation in Scotland. He has just talked about the hell holes that the working class have had to suffer. That is capitalism for him, and he should not forget it.

Mr. Taylor

I was talking about the law of supply and demand. If with proper legislation we allow it to run its course, better premises will emerge. But if we simply do what the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian wants, we shall have hell holes open seven days a week, making a fortune and with no incentive to improve. That is what the supporters of Sunday opening are doing.

The way to improve the situation is to maintain the status quo and to encourage more places where people can have a meal and entertainment with their drinking. Will the changes which are being suggested make the situation better or worse? The Secretary of State made a fair speech. Every reasonable person must accept that with more opening hours—whether late at night or on Sunday—there will be more drinking, and more drinking means more alcoholism and more human misery.

What evidence there is suggests that in every country—there are recent examples from two States in Australia—which has liberalised its drinking laws there has been an increase in alcoholism and drunkenness. A perfect example is the one we shall probably get from the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian. That is the example of France, where anything goes. Even the Clayson Report said that the problem of alcoholism was worse in France than in Scotland—and that is saying something.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Would the hon. Member explain—I do not know the answer—why Italy and France, which both have the same liberal licensing laws, have entirely different alcoholism rates? It is very high in France and very low in Italy.

Mr. Taylor

As I think the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) has said, the answer probably lies in the different methods of diagnosis in the two countries. Taking that into account, I do not think that the picture is very different.

All the evidence is that this great change will mean more drinking, which will be bad for Scotland, where too much is drunk anyway.

Nor can I understand the argument of the supporters of Sunday opening that it would make us more like England. Apparently the character of our pubs will change, and instead of people standing against the bar getting drunk, we shall see the vicar, the undertaker and the squire sitting around the old oak tree drinking half-pints of cider and engaging in improving conversation. That will not happen and there is no evidence to suggest that it will.

12.30 a.m.

If there is any doubt whether Sunday opening will mean more drink, I would ask those who support it to explain why the brewers also support it. Why is the licensing trade supporting the clause? Is it composed of altruistic people who want to involve themselves in extra expense by opening on Sunday, having to pay double time to their employees, and more money on heating and lighting so that they may sell less drink? Of course not.

Mr. Harry Gourlay (Kirkcaldy)

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that if we had prohibition we would eliminate alcoholism? If so, who would then pay for our schools, roads, hospitals, and so on?

Mr. Taylor

If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that the brewers enable us to provide more schools, roads, hospitals, and so on, through the taxes that they pay, it is true that they provide a great deal by way of taxes. But I am not suggesting that we should have prohibition. Certain people are suggesting that we should have a change. I submit that they must prove their case for change. If we change in the way suggested, there will be more drinking, alcoholism and misery. Is there any evidence that the suggested change will not mean more drinking, alcoholism and misery? Far from it.

I was making the simple point that any business man—a brewer or anyone else—would be foolish if, for other than spiritual or altruistic reasons, he suggested a change which would mean his making less profit and having more expense. Yet that is the suggestion. I wonder why. Are such people acting out of pure decency because they want to encourage less drinking? If so, why are they spending fortunes advertising on television to persuade people to drink more of their particular brands? [Interruption.] I am sorry. I did not catch that.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We cannot have sedentary interventions.

Mr. Taylor

I think that I have dealt with some of the arguments that have been put forward by the pro-Sunday lobby.

This is not just a problem of drinking. There is more to it. Undoubtedly, Sunday opening of pubs will mean another significant change in the style of life in Scotland. The Minister referred to alcoholism, but we have many other problems: marriages breaking up, children being abandoned, and so on.

A stable feature of our society has been having Sunday as a day not necessarily for religion but for people visiting their families—their grannies. That is a good thing. It is not something to be laughed at. It should be encouraged. Sunday is a day for people visiting their grannies, uncles, and other relatives.

If one goes into any public park in Glasgow on a Sunday, one will see fathers taking their families for a walk. [An HON. MEMBER: "Probably taking them for a drink."] That may happen if this clause is not accepted. But a father with two children aged six and four cannot very well take them for a drink, even in an English pub, and I would not welcome it.

I am sure that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, representing a Glasgow constituency, will agree that it is a good sight on a Sunday to see the Glasgow dads out with their kids in the parks. That is something that we should encourage. I believe that the opening of pubs on a Sunday will discourage that practice. It will change our style of life for the worse.

There was a time in Scotland, when religious meant more than it seems to mean today, when almost everyone went to church on Sunday. That does not happen now. Some people say that this is a matter of liberty and freedom. What freedom will anyone living in a tenement above a noisy pub have from drunks who emerge at closing time? Will they have the freedom to have a quiet Sunday or a Scottish sabbath if they choose to have it?

It is all very well to speak of freedom if one represents a country area or lives in a pleasant suburb of Edinburgh. But there is no such freedom for those who live in most appalling housing conditions in Glasgow. I do not think that any Government, faced with our financial problems, will be able to solve our housing problems for many years to come.

If Sunday opening is accepted, those who now for six days a week have to put up with appalling misery, inconvenience and affront from what goes on outside pubs will have to put up with those conditions for seven days a week. There will be no advantage for them.

I believe that the proposal for Sunday opening is part of a general pattern of change in the accepted standards of our community. We have had many liberal reforms. The suggestion is that this change will make things better, not worse. We have had abortion reform, a soft policy on crime, and so on, to create a freer, more liberal and just society. But, despite those moves, we have had declining standards in all areas. I wonder whether we should take a further step.

If the House finally agrees that it wants Sunday opening we shall find that people in some areas in Scotland do not want to accept the threat that that will present to their standards. Is it right or is it wrong that we should—in every part of Scotland, irrespective of the views of the people who live there—force Sunday opening upon them? The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) is a supporter of worker-participation and industrial democracy. Does he believe that it is democratic for Parliament to insist on Sunday opening even in the several areas of Scotland where the people believe that it will upset their standard of life?

Mr. Litterick

The key point is choice. It is not about whether the House is forcing people to drink but whether we afford to the people of Scotland the right of choice to drink on Sunday. This is democracy and it is Stalinist to suggest that humanity will not behave itself unless it is encased in iron, rigid laws imposed by an authoritative Parliament, or anything else which chosen to make such laws.

Mr. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman might believe that if it were a matter of Rousseau, individual liberty and people being able to enjoy freedom. But if he visits Glasgow he will see that some freedoms affect the freedom of others. It is impossible to have the individual freedom of choice between Sunday drinking and spending the day quietly with the family or taking part in the Scottish Sabbath. If the pubs in Glasgow were open on Sunday there would be no freedom for anyone else.

I hope that we shall take the right decision. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) believes that Sunday opening will not lead to more alcoholism. I hope that he will read the report of the professor who spoke on the radio on Saturday and who was reported in the Press the same day. He was talking of the argument on pornography, that if we took away restrictions people would find restraint removed and there would be a reduction in the number of sexual crimes. Evidence from other countries has shown that the removal of such restrictions has led not just to a steady rise but to a dramatic rise in such crimes.

Mr. Fairbairn

Will my hon. Friend tell the House what has been the rise in sexual crimes in Scotland over the past five years? In fact, the number has fallen every year.

Mr. Taylor

We have not had the type of change experienced in countries such as Sweden. I hope that the House will support the Government in their clause and its consequential amendments. I say to hon. Members "For goodness sake be convinced that it will be beneficial for Scotland before you vote for any change." We have voted far too often for change without thinking through the consequences and we are in danger of doing that tonight. Hon. Members should consider whether it will make things better or worse for Scotland and its people if public houses are open on Sundays. I say, unhesitatingly, that it will make things worse and that therefore we should vote "No" to Sunday opening.

Mr. Mackintosh

The House will be grateful to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Between them they have put the nub of the argument against Sunday opening. It is now clear what the argument is. I hope to meet it head on.

The hon. Member for Cathcart, though absolutely genuine, has it all wrong. For example, he says that because there is more consumption of alcohol things must be worse. Since I first went to my constituency 13 years ago one noticeable and enormous change is that men now take their women and wives with them when they go out in the evening. The inevitable result is that more is drunk, but it is drunk by more people, by the wives as well as well as by the husbands.

The House was asked why the interests concerned bother to advertise in the Press. It is because they want to persuade more people to go out to entertainment where alcohol is available. If a man, instead of drinking a number of pints himself, takes his wife to a social function or a properly-appointed club where entertainment is provided, and they both have drinks, more may be consumed in total, but there is no evidence that behaviour is worse.

Hon. Members on the Labour Benches should beware of this argument. It is exactly the same as we heard so often about motor cars. They were objects which used to be owned by a few privileged people. Now they are owned by many. The result is that the number of accidents on the roads has gone up, but people all enjoy motoring on a Sunday. The fact that there are more accidents, that more cars are sold and that the manufacturers advertise motor cars does not mean that the spread of motor cars is of itself bad. The same applies to obesity and the consumption of steaks, which has increased.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

Before my hon. Friend gets carried away, may I ask him to return to the point with which he began? It is true that one of the marked trends of the past decide is that more women are drinking. Another marked trend is a much bigger increase in alcoholism among women than among men. The very trend to which my hon. Friend is pointing is strong support for the argument that increased consumption inevitably produces an increased incidence of alcoholism.

Mr. Mackintosh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. If women drive, some women will have motor car accidents. We are discussing total behaviour patterns. Anyone who has looked at the social history of working-class areas in Scotland will agree that the total behaviour pattern in pubs and clubs today is far better than it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago. I distinctly remember that when I was a student people would not walk through Grassmarket in Edinburgh at night. When one went past certain pubs one would see people lying in the gutter. There were similar scenes in Glasgow. One does not see them today, because the behaviour pattern in those places has improved enormously over the period that the drink laws have been liberalised.

People's total conduct has improved. The fact that a certain number of people become alcoholic is not an argument against the better facilities, the better atmosphere and the better conduct that has prevailed in Scottish public houses and clubs in the past 20 years, when the whole approach to the matter has been liberalised.

My right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Cathcart made the position clear. Their point is that alcoholism is a serious problem in Scotland. We agree. Secondly, they argued that opening the pubs on Sundays would make the situation worse. That is the nub of the argument. They will admit that it is not logical. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) put his finger on the illogicality. The Bill is a liberalising Bill, extending hours, making it easier to drink. If my right hon. Friend's argument were correct, he should not be introducing the Bill. He should not be lengthening the drinking hours.

My right hon. Friend is apparently saying that he is not allowing people to get drunk on Sundays. Anyone can get drunk on a Sunday. He can go to a hotel or he can buy the drink in an off-licence on the Saturday and keep it until the Sunday. He can go to a working men's club or a yachting club. I remember joining a yacht club where one did not have to yacht. There were two categories of member—yachtsmen and drinking members. There is no problem about getting drink on a Sunday.

12.45 a.m.

What the Secretary of State is saying is that if we open the pubs in Scotland on a Sunday, there will be a categorical difference from the availability of drink at the moment, or from the extension of hours on weekdays. He is admitting that his case is totally illogical. I suspect that there is a symbolic element in it, and that is why I thought the hon. Member for Cathcart put his finger on that case. It is that by opening the pubs in Scotland on a Sunday and making more drink available we shall somehow tilt the balance in the direction of an approach to drinking fundamentally different from the present approach. In a sense that is the key to the argument. It is a symbolic case which does not have a great deal to do with the availability of alcohol.

If one accepts that more drink means more alcoholism and that having easier hours means both, the logic of that argument is prohibitionism. That argument has been advanced in Scotland for 100 years and is the origin of the temperance and prohibitionist type of licensing laws that we have had in Scotland since the First World War. The logic of the idea is that unless we make it difficult to get drink, people will abuse drink.

Mr. Millan

The logic on the other side is that we keep the pubs open for 24 hours a day. I do not think that anyone in the House wants that.

Mr. Mackintosh

I shall deal with the logic of that argument in a moment. Let me first stick to the prohibitionist argument.

The prohibitionist argument is that if it is made as difficult as possible to get drink and if the circumstances are made as nasty as possible, there will be less drinking. If the hon. Member for Cathcart wants to know, I can tell him that the hell holes in Scotland were created by the licensing laws, because those laws prescribed that there should be such conditions.

Mr. Teddy Taylor


Mr. Mackintosh

It is set out in all the histories of the subject. There was a prohibition on entertainment; there was a prohibition on seating accommodation; there was a prohibition on hours. The prohibitions made the pubs so unpleasant that, although not themselves prohibited from going into them, women kept out of them because only prostitutes would go into such places. I remember when pubs had notices saying "No ladies served", because only women of a certain kind would go into a pub. That was the logic of the whole prohibitionist case. Let us be clear—it has failed totally, for alcoholism is on the increase in Scotland and the present laws must be to blame, because it has happened despite the present laws.

The opposite logic is that adopted by the Clayson Committee and the Guest Committee and by others who have made reports on this subject. It is that if we liberalise the laws and change the atmosphere, there will be an increase in consumption, but there will in time—and this is where the hon. Member for Cathcart had a point, because it will not happen at once—be a change in the approach to drinking so that it will be treated as a family matter and as a social matter and will become socialised.

This takes me back to what I said at the beginning of my speech. Compared with 15 or 20 years ago, many more younger men go out with their wives and families and their behaviour pattern is totally different. Teenage drinking is very important, but the modern approach is not understood. If a young teenager wants to buy a drink, all he does is to get a friend who is over 18 to go to the off-licence where he can purchase as much as he likes and they go to a friend's house where they can drink themselves silly in a private room. That is the kind of behaviour that we want to stop, but it is perfectly possible under the present licensing laws and it is happening all the time.

What is much better is for them to be encouraged to go to a pub where they will meet their friends and their neighbours and other adults and where they will be in a social environment that will encourage proper behaviour and where bad behaviour will become something that the neighbourhood knows about and ridicules and looks down upon. That is ultimately the manner in which we shall control teenage drinking, not by making it a secretive and furtive thing.

The hon. Member for Cathcart asks what will improve the hell-hole pubs. They will be improved by competition. I would have thought that he would accept that. If they are allowed to open on Sunday they will compete with the hotels. The hon. Member wants to retain the present anomalous position. Yet in the Scottish Grand Committee he described these hell holes as places where people were packed five and six deep, waving £1 and £5 notes in dreadful grotty conditions. He wants us to preserve that situation.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

No. I said that this would change by having more hotels with better conditions. If we allow the hell holes to open on Sunday they will make more and more money. The present situation means that there will be more and more good hotels to drink in on Sunday.

Mr. Mackintosh

But the hon. Member for Cathcart is making my point for me. Why should people go to these hell holes if there are more good hotels with better amenities? The hell holes will have to compete with these good hotels. When he talks about nuisance under the present law, he must realise that the nuisance is transferred. People who live on top of these so-called hotels have their amenity ruined on a Sunday.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Who lives on top of a hotel?

Mr. Mackintosh

I am surprised that the hon. Member does not know that there are many tenements in the centre of Edinburgh in which the ground and first floors are the hotel, and people live above it and on both sides of it. People pour out of hotels like this at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and those who live around them lose their amenity.

The hon. Member claims that having fewer drinking places on a Sunday will improve the situation. I find that a very surprising argument. We want to encourage competition and to raise the standard of conduct and amenity in hotels. That has happened over the past 15 or 20 years with the liberalisation of the law. The final step is to open pubs on Sundays and to enable people to choose the places in which they drink—places with decent amenities and plenty of sitting room where they can take their families and where they will have the opportunity for the kind of civilised conduct we all want.

The present anomaly of the club or hotel is a gross geographic and class unfairness. In my constituency in the working towns and villages there are the clubs where drink is available on Sunday. In the commuter areas from Edinburgh are some admirable and some not-so-good hotels for people who drive and drink. The places which are penalised are the attractive little villages in remote areas where the drinking places are genuine pubs. People in these villages have to drive up to 20 miles to a so-called hotel to get a drink on Sunday. This is gross unfairness. It is an odd thing to say to someone in a remote village on the Berwickshire border "You cannot have a drink here, but it is available a few miles across the river in Northumberland." No one has yet proved that there is greater crime, wife battering or evil in Northumberland than there is in Berwickshire.

I urge the House to retain the Bill as it was amended in Committee. I am very unhappy about the fall-back position. I do not think that it will lead to better standards or less nuisance. The Secretary of State has not distinguished between good quality pubs and second quality pubs, but he says he will draw a distinction on the grounds of nuisance. If there is a nuisance it should not exist at any time during the week. We do not want two qualities of pubs. Therefore I urged the House to reject both those amendments.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

Like everyone else I make it clear that I speak for myself and not for my colleagues on these matters. Those of us who were not on the Standing Committee should be grateful to the Secretary of State for the way in which he has set out the options open to us in the debate. I found the groupings of the amendments extremely confusing He has made clear in an open and candid way just what choice is open to the House.

I am surprised that there has not been a greater sense of outrage among hon. Members at having to begin this series of debates at such a late hour. I am not a party to any hole and corner agreement made between the Opposition and the Government, but I do not believe that our English and Welsh colleagues would have tolerated such a situation in which a major reform of the licensing laws was being conducted through the House with more than 100 amendments beginning at nearly midnight. The hon. Members for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) are always railing about devolution, but they should learn from this that in an overcrowded legislative programme Scottish legislation will be relegated to this sort of position.

Mr. Millan

The choice of timing was between this week, next week—and next week would not have been suitable for Scottish Members—or leaving the matter until after the Summer Recess, which would have endangered getting the Bill at all. But if hon. Gentlemen are going to complain about this matter they should be more frank with the House. The Liberals, for example, were asked to nominate a Member to the Standing Committee but they refused.

Mr. Steel

I do not see that the Secretary of State's last point has anything to do with the argument. I am talking about the right of the House to debate this matter. I am totally unmoved by arguments about choices which were never put to me or my colleagues and which may have been discussed through the usual channels. The main point is that it is grossly unsatisfactory that major legislation, particularly legislation which is not a party matter but on which hon. Members have to make up their own minds, should be discussed at this time of night. I do not understand how the Secretary of State can seek to defend the situation with the sort of lame excuses he has put forward.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

The hon. Gentleman must be fair about this question of the handling of Scottish legislation. The requirements vary vastly in different parts of Scotland, for instance as between the Western Isles and the Lothian Region. I was always in favour of doing it through the regions and not through Parliament at all.

Mr. Steel

No doubt the hon. Member will make that point many times in the future, as he has in the past.

Two novel constitutional points were advanced in the debate, first by the Secretary of State, and almost echoed by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind). It was the first time I ever heard a Minister say in a debate on a Scottish Bill that he hoped that the English and Welsh Members had left so that we Scots could decide the matter by ourselves. That is a very strange concept because the logic of it is—and I would support it—that we should long ago have devised some method of taking Report stages through the Scottish Grand Committee with only a final reserve power left to the House.

The hon. Member for Pentlands advanced the novel concept that we should pay very close attention to the 10 to six vote in Committee, and not lightly overturn it. Anyone can do arithmetic. A 10 to six vote means that those who won were dependent on only two Members taking a different view. If it had been eight—eight, the Bill would have stood as it was when the Government presented it. I do not think that on Report we can take carte blanche the views of a Committee that might have depended on the opinions of only two persons.

On Sunday drinking—

10 a.m.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)

Is the hon. Gentleman seeking to argue that English Members, who may have had long experience of the licensing laws and their operation in England and throughout the country, including Scotland, are to have no voice in this matter? The tourist industry is of the greatest importance to Scotland and the whole of Britain. There have been two contemporaneous reports—namely, the Erroll Report and the Clayson Report. Some of us gave evidence to both committees. In fact, I did. I venture to submit that there is a strong case for seeking some guidance from what is happening under the English licensing laws, even though Scotland may wish to differ in its views.

Mr. Steel

The hon. and learned Gentleman's speech will have been noted with interest. I am not suggesting that English and Welsh Members should not have a vote, least of all those such as the hon. and learned Gentleman who have been listening to our discussions. I was criticising the concept that appeared to be suggested by the Secretary of State—namely, that he hoped that Members such as the hon. and learned Gentleman had gone home.

I turn to Sunday drinking. I am instinctively opposed to any state of the law founded on hypocrisy. I accept that much of the present legislation on Sunday drinking is founded on hypocrisy. We know that it is possible to obtain drink in an hotel on a Sunday. That is a place that happens to have bedrooms sufficient to satisfy the licensing court. Whether the bedrooms are ever let is an entirely different matter. Equally, drink can be obtained on a Sunday in a club. I should not be opposed to a limited extension of Sunday drinking for public houses which were clearly to be places of genuine social resort, but I am opposed to a wholesale extension for places which will merely cater for drinking for the sake of drinking throughout a day when most people are not working.

That is the difference between England and Scotland. I accept what is said by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). The drinking houses of Scotland have improved over the past 10 or 12 years but they still lag behind the standard of public house that is common south of the border. Every time that I visit public houses south of the border with my family, which is not frequently, I am struck by the fact that they are different in character and ambience and in the facilities they provide for the family. That is one of the reasons for there being such a difference in the rate of alcoholism between England and Scotland.

Drink in an English public house is incidental to a form of social activity whereas there are too many institutions in Scotland which still to this day exist for the purpose of the intake of alcohol. There is that great difference between the two establishments.

The Bill as it stands implies a wholesale extension of drinking on a Sunday that I cannot accept. Nor do I accept, although my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) does, that the matter can be tackled by the veto poll. I believe that the law of the land must be the law throughout and should not vary from place to place according to local whims. I remain instinctively opposed to the wholesale uncontrolled extension of Sunday drinking. There is much to be said for the fall-back position that the Government have taken, even though I am not entirely clear about it at the moment. However, it seems to open up the possibility of the licensing court extending Sunday opening only to those places that will provide a genuine facility for the community without irritation to the rest of the population.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I hope that I may be permitted a few words as one who was more or less responsible for the layout of the Bill. I say at the outset that we are discussing this matter in isolation. Many of the English and Welsh Members who are here will be considering these matters only in relation to Sunday opening, forgetting that the Bill was a balanced approach to the Clayson Report. We cannot consider Sunday opening without taking into account all the other things that have been done, and what the Secretary of State and the Church of Scotland have rightly said is a liberalising Bill. Do not think that the Church of Scotland approved of everything in the Bill. What it said was that the proposals for a Bill includes some mistakes, Indeed, it could be a mistake not to wait, having waited so long, until Parliament has devolved this purely Scottish matter to an Assembly". I point out, incidentally, that the Erroll Report was made a year before the Scottish report and that nothing has been done about it. We are always told that we are fairly lax in Scotland, but we looked at the Clayson Report. As the Church of Scotland says, there were some things that it did not like. There was the question of the veto poll, and what was highlighted about extensions during the week, relating to the hasty drinking and the possibility that this led to drunkenness. We accepted some of that.

What the Church of Scotland eventually said was that taken as a whole Mr. Ross's approach is that of a responsible realist. Certainly there is nothing in his proposals which should prevent what we desperately need in Scotland: a spirit of true liberalism and true temperance". We were lectured on the history of licensing in Scotland. What we have, in fact, is certification. Before the First World War, in the period 1902 to 1910, there was a proliferation of hell holes and drinking dens which were a scandal to the whole country. Hon. Members should not read the Scottish report. They should read the English report. The Erroll Report says that it is instructive to consider the various trends in the level of problem drinking and the number of outlets at these points in time. The period 1910–1920 coincides with a very considerable drop in the consumption of beer and spirits: in offences of drunkenness: and in death rates due to or associated with, alcoholism. The decline in the number of retail outlets was also very obvious during this early period. That was as a result of the introduction of licensing. It had that effect. The report adds: We conclude that this is one case where changes in the law relating to the number of outlets, permitted hours and conditions of sale may have had a perceptible effect. It does not mean that at all times they will have this effect. We have to be very careful in suggesting that we can do everything by the licensing system. The licensing system was essential after 1910, and during the War it was tightened very considerably, with the same beneficial effect.

Mr. Mackintosh

During the period after 1902, and also after the First World War, when it was put again and again to the Scottish Licensed Retail Traders' Association that Scottish pubs were much less satisfactory than those south of the border, it quoted laws which prohibited the number of seats in pubs, prohibited entertainment and the provision of meals, and prohibited many of the things which were spreading in England and which changed the character of English pubs.

Mr. Ross

The restrictions did not last all that long a time, and my hon. Friend should not mislead the House in relation to the number of seats. There has always been some form of prohibition relating to entertainment, but there have been considerable changes in that respect.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State talked of a fall-back position, but if something is a nuisance on a Sunday it is equally a nuisance on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I have known many cases of people complaining of sound amplification and the sound of so-called entertainment. It is one of the curses of the modern pub. For the people next door or in the immediate neighbourhood it is a question not only of alcoholics at closing time but of what goes on all the time in the way of excessive noise.

When we discussed this matter in the Scottish Standing Committee in 1962 we moved away from the concept of the bona fide traveller in hotels and made considerable changes. The same proposition to open pubs on a restricted basis was put forward. A Conservative Government were in power at that time. John Maclay was Secretary of State for Scotland. The Under-Secretary was Mr. Brooman-White. He accepted the illogicality of the position but said that it would be quite wrong to open public houses on Sundays. He was referring to an official Conservative amendment which was supported by the Leader of the Tory Party in the Scottish Committee. There was a vote of six to 10 against, in a Committee of 21. That was not exactliy an overwhelming indication to the House of Commons that we should accept this proposal. The Minister said that he would rather have drinking associated with eating. However, he moved an amendment to open places where there would be no eating—that is, in public houses.

Let us recognise that the drinking habits in Scotland are different from those in England. What the Scots drink is different.

At paragraph 1.17 of his report, Clayson said: The evidence available to us is admittedly incomplete but we have no doubt that Scotland suffers from a serious problem of alcohol misuse, both absolutely and in comparison with England and Wales. Clayson deals with the quality and nature of drinking at paragraph 1.24 of his report. He says that the more retail outlets there are, the greater the difficulty with abuse.

Reference was made to the fact that the alcohol problem was related not to drinking in unlicensed premises and clubs but to drinking in the home. One of the big changes we made in 1962 related to off-licence premises. I should like to know the figures. It is the easiest matter in the world to obtain a licence for off-licence premises in Scotland today. That is one of the biggest gaps in controlling drinking, especially that of young people. That may surprise some of my hon. Friends.

The most disturbing rise in the incidence of alcoholism occurs among young people between the ages of 24 and 34 and, next among those between 35 and 44.

Mr. Hugh McCartney (Dumbartonshire, Central)

I should like to take up my right hon. Friend's point that the greater the number of outlets for alcohol the greater the incidence of alcoholism. I subscribe to the support of those engaged in the rehabilitation of alcoholics. The Secretary of State for Scotland said that the highest incidence of alcoholism occurred in the Highlands. That includes bothy drinking. That area has the fewest outlets for the sale of alcohol. It has the greatest number of restrictions from the point of view of Church morals. How can my right hon. Friend equate those facts?

1.15 a.m.

Mr. Ross

The statement I made is supported by research which enabled the Clayson Committee and the Erroll Committee to draw up their recommendations. As to the Highlands, the quantitative as well as the qualitative nature of the drinking should be taken into account.

The Clayson Committee skated lightly over one problem, which it handed over to the Scottish Education Unit. I am sorry that the Leader of the Liberal Party has gone. He might have been able to help me. The firm doing the publicity for the Scottish Education Unit was also doing the publicity for the Scottish Whisky Association. Perhaps the Leader of the Liberal Party was a director of that firm at the time. In any competition to determine patterns of social behaviour the distillers will come up with far more money than will the Government through the education unit.

Considerable changes occurred in 1962. There are now far more off-licences and hotels with licences than there were. Public house drinking tends to be not family drinking but male drinking. For years I have heard this tale about civilised drinking hours. In 1962 it was said that it would improve pub premises. My hon. Friends in Committee who support the Sunday opening of public houses referred to public houses in Glasgow which should have been closed down.

Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)

My right hon. Friend that that public houses in Scotland were still male drinking places. When was he last in a public house in his own town of Ayr?

Mr. Ross:

I have the evidence given by my hon. Friends in Committee.

Mr. Lambie

Answer the question.

Mr. Ross

I do not know that I have ever been in a pub in Ayr in my life. My hon. Friend suggests that I know nothing about pubs, but I do not come from a teetotal family. I know about the state of pubs from what people closely related to me have said. My father-in-law was a member of the licensed trade and a hotel-keeper. I know what goes on from what was said in Committee. One cannot pass through Glasgow without seeing the hell holes.

Mr. Lambie

What about Ayr?

Mr. Ross

I am not concerned with Ayr. The city pub in Scotland is where men drink. They do not take their wives. That is the tradition, and pubs are the last places that should be opened on Sunday, which still has a special place for a great many people in Scotland. One place I am at on a Sunday is church. The church to which I used to go is almost surrounded by public houses. It would be offensive to many in Scotland to be subjected to that and to know that it was going on. I hope that we do not lightly pass over the question of the Sunday. The Scottish Sunday is different. Its difference is appreciated and we should retain that.

It used to be said that we should liberalise for the sake of the tourists. I hope that we shall not be kidded by that argument. People do not come to Scotland or stay away because of the licensing laws or the drink.

I hope that it is appreciated that the change we would be making is very serious. I am sure that the majority of people in Scotland who like a drink are not in favour of opening the pubs on a Sunday. I ask hon. Members to bear that in mind and that the Scottish Sunday and its tradition as a family day, as well as the tradition that it is a day of rest, are worth cherishing. When we consider the effect—

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast West)

If my right hon. Friend will forgive my intervening in a regional debate, after sitting last Friday evening with not many Englishmen, Scotsmen or Welshmen listening to the problems of Northern Ireland, I am delighted to see so many Welshmen, Englishmen and Irishmen here with the Scotsmen to hear the right hon. Gentleman's views and the ifs and buts about this matter. Many Scots hon. Members have obviously gone out of their way to be here tonight to debate the pros and cons. Is my right hon. Friend prepared to accept the verdict of the Scottish Members? He has talked of the Scottish Sunday and the Scottish sabbatarian attitude. He is a representative of Scotland and may not like interference by Englishmen and Welshmen, but he is prepared to accept the verdict of Scottish Members, whether they are for or against drinking?

Mr. Ross

Of course I am prepared to accept the outcome of the vote, whether it be by Scottish Members or by the whole House, but I do not like it to be done by using an English majority. In the reorganisation of local government I was concerned that we had Strathclyde wished on us by the Conservative Government by the votes of English Members. The majority of the Scots Members voting then were against it.

Mr. Fairbairn

Since he has forced on the English agricultural community the abolition of the tied house by the votes of Scottish Members, I do not see the right hon. Gentleman's complaint.

Mr. Ross

I am not complaining. I am prepared to accept the vote of the House, but the people who vote should vote out of conviction and should realise the importance of this to Scotland.

The Secretary of State's speech was clear and lucid and pointed out the difficulties of the licensing system. He pointed out the changes made and said that there comes a point at which one must not take chances on our knowledge of drinking habits.

I shall vote with the Government on the new clause and I hope that it will not be necessary to rely on fall-back positions which will not prove satisfactory in the end.

Mr. Donald Stewart

My remarks will not commit my hon. Friends. As in other parties, some will support my views; others will be against them.

Most of the legislation introduced into this House has substantial backing. Even if it is derived only from a statement in a manifesto, the Government will have the support of their own Members, but I wonder where the demand for this legislation arises. No one in my constituency or in any other part of Scotland where I am known has said that it is appalling that we do not have Sunday opening and that Parliament should do something about it.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) said that brewers were in favour of the Bill, as amended, but from the soundings that I have made, I know that managers and owners of public houses have great anxieties about the proposals and foresee problems about staff, extra pay, working hours and so on.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

The hon. Gentlemans represents one of the most beautiful tourist areas. Has he had a single tourist asking why pubs are not open on Sundays?

Mr. Stewart

No, I have not. I was surprised that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) should have mentioned the tourist associations as being among the bodies urging that a change should be made.

We are told that we must make the change for the tourists, but many tourists come from Scandinavia and other countries where the legislation is less liberal than our existing laws. Far from being deprived, they get even more opportunity for drinking. Why should we alter our laws for the benefit of tourists? If every country had the same regulations, why would tourists want to travel anyway?

We cannot ignore the question of alcoholism. It will increase if we permit Sunday opening. I know heavy drinkers in my constituency who go to public houses every night. I admit that if they were desperate they could get a drink on a Sunday, but they normally call it a day on Saturday and stay out of the pubs until Monday evening. During that 48 hours, the drink can get out of their systems and, if they are the sort to get obstreperous when they have been drinking, their families will have two days of peace.

Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Kelvin-grove)

If the men to whom the hon. Gentleman is referring were alcoholics, they would not be able to turn off on Saturday night and stay away from drink until Monday evening. They would certainly find a way of getting a drink on Sunday. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's argument is logical.

Mr. Stewart

I was referring to men who were heavy drinkers, not alcoholics.

The amendment passed in Committee will give offence to many people to whom Sunday is a day to cherish. It has religious associations and is a day of rest and relaxation. We cannot pretend that it will not add to the problem. People should not have this nuisance foisted on them if they do not want it. I do not believe there is any demand for it. I congratulate the Secretary of State on his presentation of the Bill and on his resolve to re-insert this clause.

1.30 a.m.

Mr. Canavan

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak because I was disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to be on the Committee dealing with the Bill, in spite of the fact that I spoke on the Clayson Report debate in the Scottish Grand Committee more than a year ago, and that I also spoke during the Second Reading of the Bill.

At first I suspected that the powers-that-be were deliberately excluding me from the Committee because of my anti-Government views on this Bill but then, to my surprise, I discovered that the powers-that-be had other plans for me. They discovered that I was such a loyal supporter of the Government that they put me on the Finance Bill Committee instead.

The Bill follows the publication of the Clayson Report. Dr. Clayson himself was a medical man and he and his colleagues on the Committee were just as concerned as the Secretary of State and his predecessor about the problems and abuses of alcohol and the problems of alcoholism in Scotland. The Committee's main concern was to make Scottish drinking habits more civilised and to create an atmosphere which encouraged self-discipline in the use of alcohol.

I realise that some people regard the consumption of alcohol as evil in itself. But that is such a minority view that it is virtually impossible to embody it in legislation. Even under the present laws, and within certain limits, there is the possibility of the consumption of alcohol in certain circumstances.

During the course of this debate, there appear to have been two schools of thought. One is the school of thought headed by the Secretary of State which argues that increased licensing hours will lead to increased consumption which will, therefore, lead to increased abuses, increased alcoholism and so on. So far, I have not been convinced by the evidence produced by that school of thought.

Another opinion, which has been put forward in the Clayson Report, and again tonight, is that a liberalisation of the licensing laws, combined with an improvement in licensed premises and the provision of food and so on would create a more civilised atmosphere which would encourage moderation in the use of alcohol and which would, hopefully, make people more self-disciplined instead of relying on an external discipline imposed on them by legislation.

Experience in England, where the licensing laws are a little more liberal, and where there is Sunday opening, shows that according to the statistics, the abuse of alcohol is less than in Scotland. That seems to support that school of thought which believes that increased liberalisation would lead to increased civilisation in the consumption of alcohol.

With regard to Sunday opening, I fully appreciate that there are many people throughout Scotland who value Sunday as a day of religious observance, a day of rest and a family day. I have had several representations from my constituents, most of them, I think, members of the Church of Scotland, who have put this point of view to me and used it as an argument against Sunday opening. I have politely written back disagreeing with them but I have done them the courtesy of forwarding their views to the Under-Secretary of State in charge of the Bill. I fully agree that Sunday should be a day of religious observance and a family day and a day of rest but, frankly, I do not think there is anything incompatible between that and a modest consumption of alcohol on the Sabbath.

I frankly do not believe that those who religiously abstain from alcohol on Sunday have a monopoly of belief in God or a monopoly of belief in Christianity or any other religion. Even Jesus Himself turned the water into wine. Perhaps the reverend and hon. Member for Belfast. South (Mr. Bradford) can quote me the Biblical reference and tell me whether He did it on the Sabbath or not. Even if He did not perform that particular miracle on the Sabbath, I am sure that Jesus Himself must have had many a drink on the Sabbath day.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

Is my hon. Friend aware that when Jesus changed the water into wine, it was ginger wine?

Mr. Canavan

I was not aware of that I should have thought that Jesus has more taste than that.

I am not a perfect Christian by any means and it would be hypocritical to say otherwise. Like most Scottish Members, I am down here in London from Monday to Thursday. We travel back to our constituencies at the weekend. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are many demands on us, with surgeries, school and factory visits and so on. I look forward to Sunday as a day of rest and a family day. On a typical Sunday I get up in the morning and take the family to church. I usually read the lesson. I may say that I do not have to wait as long to read the lesson as I do to speak in this place.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

This is not a church but the House of Commons, and the practices are not the same.

Mr. Canavan

I am grateful for that reminder.

In the afternoon, I may take my wife and family out. In the evening, after the children are in bed, my wife and I often go out for a quiet drink in order to relax. It has been our unfortunate experience that many hotel bars and lounges are grossly overcrowded. It is almost impossible to get a quiet drink on a Sunday night.

Mr. Fairbairn

When the hon. Member reads the lesson, I trust that it does not take so long.

Mr. Canavan

The attendance at my church has shot up since I started reading the lesson.

This problem is even worse in the cities than it is in my constituency. I lived in Edinburgh for a time and I have visited Glasgow on a Sunday. The conditions in many hotel bars in the cities can only be described as barbaric. It is our duty to get rid of those conditions, which among some people may even lead to increased drinking.

This congestion would be eased if public houses were given the option of opening, but there must be adequate safeguards. I do not favour the opening of pubs on a Sunday at 11 o'clock in the morning. Many people who go to church would be offended if there were a pub or club next door to the church. My understanding of the Bill as amended in Committee is that opening time on a Sunday would be 12.30 p.m., not 11 o'clock. That is a reasonable compromise. It would not violate the Sabbath and frankly I do not think that it would increase alcoholism, either.

Any hardened drinker who is determined to have a drink will find somewhere on a Sunday. If we got rid of the barbaric conditions in some of the hotel bars it is possible that even the hardened drinker would be encouraged to drink less. I see no evidence that he would necessarily consume more.

The working conditions of the staff must be considered. In general, bar staff are industrious people who work long, anti-social hours, often in trying circumstances. In my opinion, no publican should be forced to open on a Sunday. The Bill, as it stands, would not force publicans to do so. Indeed, it would give them an option.

It is interesting to note that the Scottish National Party apparently carried out a poll in Clackmannan, the result of which was that most publicans do not want to open on a Sunday. Therefore, I assume that the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid), who is not in his place, will vote against Sunday opening. Of course, we should bear in mind that the proposed Sunday opening is optional and that SNP polls are not very reliable. The SNP carried out a poll in West Stirlingshire, at the time of the General Election, and claimed that its candidate was 5,000 votes ahead of me. My very presence in this House shows that the credibility of SNP polls is not so great.

There is also a bit of dishonesty on the part of the Scottish National Party. It has been sending round scurrilous leaflets in the Garscadden area of Glasgow saying that this London Parliament, which allows the English to have their pubs open on a Sunday, will not allow time to introduce legislation so that the Scots can have their pubs open on a Sunday. The implication is that the London Parliament considers that the Scots are too uncivilised to have their pubs open on a Sunday. That is the kind of scurrilous nonsense that the SNP is spreading around, varying, as it usually does, from one constituency to another.

I do not think that any bar staff should be forced to work on a Sunday. In most cases, where Sunday opening is thought desirable, I am sure that a flexible rota arrangement can be made so that the staff need not work any extra hours in the week.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Is my hon. Friend, as a good trade unionist, in favour of bar staff being paid double time on a Sunday with the effect that may have on the price of beer?

Mr. Canavan

I am glad that my hon. Friend mentioned that matter. My experience is that bar staff are not organised into trade unions. If they were organised into trade unions—for example, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers—they would be able to negotiate better working conditions, wages, and contracts which might not necessarily force them to work a longer week. The brewer and distillers are making enough profits to keep the prices down.

I am in favour of rejecting the new clause and of keeping the Bill, as it was amended in Committee, to allow the optional opening of public houses on a Sunday.

Mr. Hamish Gray (Ross and Cromarty)

I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) in what he said because I disagree with much of his argument. However, that is nothing new. If the hon. Gentleman's description of the pubs in Glasgow is accurate, he put forward a good argument for keeping them closed on a Sunday. I do not think that men will wish to take their wives into those pubs.

I find myself in almost complete agreement with the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). There is little doubt that there has been no great demand, despite what certain hon. Members may say, for the opening of pubs in Scotland on a Sunday. I have had more representations against the opening of pubs on a Sunday than on any other issue since coming to this House six years ago. My constituents have produced a host of reasons for not wanting pubs to open on a Sunday.

We have heard about the Highlands and the high incidence of alcoholism there. It may be that those who live there are fully aware of that problem and, for that reason, do not want the availability of liquor to be increased.

Whatever arguments we may have heard about the Scots and alcohol—whether it be the temperament of the Scots or the climatic conditions in Scotland—there is no denying that the increase in alcoholism has been proportionate to the availability of alcohol. Hon. Members have argued that improvements have been made, but those improvements in the licensing laws and of the public houses have only proved that the more people visit public houses, the greater is the incidence of alcoholism.

I speak from a different view point from that of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) because they are both teetotallers and are known as such.

Mr. William Ross


1.45 a.m.

Mr. Gray

The right hon. Gentleman may say "No" but people accept that he is as near a teetotaller as makes no difference. I am not a teetotaller, nor are a great many of my friends, and it is significant that we speak from an experience which he does not have.

We must be responsible and as we study the situation in Scotland we must consider whether, if we agree tonight to open public houses on Sunday, we shall create additional work for certain sections of the community—social workers, for example. My hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart did not include social workers in the list of those who have made representations to him. We have only to talk to social workers in our constituencies about the problems that they encounter as a result of alcoholism to realise that they have a different view from that expressed by some hon. Members tonight.

In the Highlands of Scotland tourists do not complain about pubs not being open on Sunday for the simple reason that they can obtain alcohol at their hotel or at any hotel if they eat a meal there. There is no demand for Sunday opening from tourists. I agree with the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) that one of the attractions of the Highlands in particular, is that life is not the same as it is in England or as it is in the south of Scotland. Why should we bow to the pressure of small groups when tourism in the Highlands is booming in such a healthy fashion?

The words of the Churches should not necessarily be our main guide in taking this decision, but there is little doubt that Sunday opening would be offensive to many people—and I again refer to my own part of the Highlands where the tradition of church-going has survived to a greater extent than in other parts of the country.

There is no public demand for Sunday opening and I hope that the House, having considered the arguments of those who advocate that policy, will feel that the Government are taking the correct action in their clause. I shall support the Government on this issue and I hope that other right hon. and hon. Members will do the same.

Mr. Carmichael

We have all received quite a number of letters on the subject. I had a fair number from my constituency, almost all saying that the pubs should not be opened on Sundays. I have a great deal of respect for the people who wrote.

We all have the same object. I want alcoholism and the consumption of alcohol in Scotland to be reduced, but I do not believe that the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will achieve that reduction. Many hon. Members have pointed out the illogicality of the use of the argument that greater availability of drink leads to more alcoholism when we are extending pubs' opening hours by six hours a week.

I am not a frequenter of public houses. Like many hon. Members, I drink very little, but I shall be opposing the Government on the clause. My right hon. Friend advanced a good case for prohibition, but everyone fights shy of that. We know that it is a nonsense and does not work. One cannot impose such laws on a modern society.

However, I am surprised that my right hon. Friend and other hon. Members have not suggested at least a drastic reduction in the advertising of alcohol. The antismoking campaign was particularly successful. There has been a big drop in the number of people smoking, if not in the consumption of tobacco. I should be only too willing to support any restriction on the advertising of alcohol, particularly on television.

One hon. Member spoke of the hypocrisy in Scotland on the subject of drinking. One of the contradictions is that we have a great deal of advertising of alcohol—on television, at the cinema, in the Press and on hoardings—and yet at the same time we make drinking a great mystery. Secretive and furtive drinking is part of the problem. Young people in Scotland find that the pubs are a mystery. Until fairly recently—and it may still be the case—pubs had to be boarded up and have frosted glass so that no one could see in. Doors were not allowed to remain open, and it was illegal to take a glass of drink out. Therefore, young people have had the idea that there is something wonderful and secret about drinking. That always attracts them.

Mr. Harry Ewing

There is provision in the Bill for what is described as alfresco drinking.

Mr. Carmichael

The mystery of drinking is part of the whole problem in Scotland. I still feel strange when I go into a pub. I feel that it is a strange world, because as a young boy in the East End of Glasgow I saw pubs as mysterious places. I think that it was John Calder who said in the Daily Record recently that a man's reputation could be ruined by someone just saying "He drinks." There is a great deal of hypocrisy about drinking. I do not think that in the modern world alcoholism is totally related to the availability of drink. The stresses of modern life have a great deal to do with it.

The first question that comes to mind on Sunday opening is "What about the staff?" People who want Sunday opening have told me that they may have to pay more for their drink, that they cannot have the staff on the cheap.

There is nothing wrong with talking about liberalisation. We have moved a great deal. There are not many drinking dens in Glasgow now. Glasgow always gets knocked around in the House, particularly by Members for other Scottish areas, but there has been an enormous improvement in the past 10 to 15 years. The increase in the number of licensed grocers and the increase in advertising have not helped to diminish the availability of drink.

Hypocrisy was not better exemplified than by what seemed to be a telling point made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor). He mentioned the veto poll and the bona fide traveller. I lived on the border of Glasgow and Lanarkshire. The number of people trooping into Glasgow in bus loads to get a drink in a hotel was appalling. The veto poll is another piece of incredible hypocrisy.

Next to my constituency is that of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), who represents Whiteinch, which is a "dry" area. It is part of the folk lore of Partick that the "dries" of Whiteinch were supplied with money to run their campaigns every two or three years by the publicans and licensed grocers in Partick, who did not want to have a "wet" area next to them. Hell holes were created because people from Cathcart and Whiteinch moved into Partick to get a drink. When Kirkin- tilloch was dry, one could hardly move in Glasgow bus station on a Sunday night because of the number of people waiting to get the last bus back to Kirkintilloch, many of them having been drinking disgustingly.

I represent a densely populated area. The public house tied to the tenement is rapidly disappearing from Glasgow. One cannot have as many municipal houses as we have and not expect the old tenements to disappear, and they are disappearing, sometimes too rapidly for people to have a chance to settle down. However, I am concerned about the pubs that are left and I am anxious lest hypocrisy prevails and there is a fight to maintain "dry" areas and other restrictions because of the objections of local people.

I suspect that it will be the more articulate people from Cathcart and similar places who will raise objections with the licensing boards. I am also a little anxious about the membership of the boards. If they are anything like the other boards we have, they are likely to pay more attention to people from "good" areas and less to people who come from areas such as mine and who are less articulate.

Unless I am given considerable reassurance about how the boards are to operate—and I shall listen to my hon. Friend's winding-up speech with close attention—I shall want to leave the Bill as it was when it left the Standing Committee, and I shall support the opening of pubs on a Sunday, with all the risks, for I believe that the risks involved in the opposite course are greater.

Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)

Having listened to the lesson being read by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), I felt tempted to suggest that we have a psalm or a hymn between speeches.

In all seriousness, I suggest that we have not got down to the different effects that the Bill will have in different parts of Scotland. This is a facet of the argument that ought to be developed. My hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray) said how little demand there was for the Sunday opening of public houses in the North of Scotland. I can easily understand why that is so. For instance, in Sutherland there are 50 hotels and four public houses. In the county of Caithness there are 20 hotels and one pub. In Ross and Cromarty there are 116 hotels and 30 pubs. In my county of Fife there are 108 hotels and 91 pubs. Compare these figures with the city of Glasgow where there are 43 hotels and 790 pubs. For ordinary people at least half of the Glasgow hotels are not available anyway because of the prices charged in them. Obviously, we have a very different situation in different parts of Scotland.

2.0 a.m.

How do we make the difficult change? In Committee, I voted for the opening of public houses in Scotland on Sunday, and I still feel that that is right. If people can go into their own local public house on a Sunday, that is more likely to improve the standard of public houses generally.

If it is impossible, as has been said, for a man to take his wife or girl friend to a pub, surely the reason is that it is a six-day type of place designed for men only. If it were to be open over the weekend, there would be an opportunity to make it a more attractive place to which people can go.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

If a pub is open six days a week, and is suitable only for men, how does the situation change by opening it on Sunday as well?

Sir John Gilmour

If there is a tradition that a pub is open only on weekdays, it tends to be a male preserve. Undoubtedly there are public houses which are malt-only preserves anyway. But in the long run, if public houses are open on Sunday there will be a change in their character. Men will find that they are places where they can take their wives and girl friends. They will no longer be hell holes but perfectly ordinary establishments.

Admittedly there will be real difficulties in cities such as Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen where the proportion of hotels to public houses is very different from that in country areas such as the Highlands and Perthshire. However, I believe that we should face up to the difficulties and make the change.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

I am not prepared, at this late hour, to develop my argument, but at Committee stage I was against the opening of pubs in Scotland on Sunday and I hold on to this view now, quite unrepentantly.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Carmichael) and other hon. Members have referred to the representations of the National Association of Licensed House Managers. I found representations from members of that Association very telling, because they know that they have to work 70 to 80 hours a week at present, and they know that if there is Sunday opening of pubs, regardless of what has been said about shift work and extra rest days, they will have to work on Sundays as well.

It is not good enough to throw out charges of hypocrisy, as my hon. Friend did, acknowledge the concern and anxiety over longer working hours and then vote for the measure. Many members of the association will have no choice whatever about whether their pubs will open on Sunday. That decision will be made by the major brewing organisations.

My hon. Friends would be horrified if in any other context they were accused of siding with big business, but it is exactly the side of big business that they are taking on this occasion. They would be horrified if they were accused if disregarding the views of a trade union in an industry, but in this case they are disregarding the views of the one major employee organisation in this industry.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman said that in the vast majority of cases the decision would be taken not by the licensee but by the brewery that owned the pub. The Clayson Committee report stated that only 27 per cent. of licensed premises in Scotland are owned by breweries compared with 86 per cent. in England and Wales.

Mr. Cook

The hon. Member is perfectly well aware that that does not alter the substance of the argument because the majority of public houses in Scotland, whether or not they are owned by the brewing organisations, are tied very firmly to the supplies of that company and the company can exert a very strong pull on the policies of the pub. In addition, whatever may be the present balance, the trend is towards greater dominance of the public houses by the brewing organisations.

Mr. Robert Hughes

In a sense, whether a pub is owned by the breweries or is tied to them is irrelevant, and I concede to my hon. Friend that the decision will be taken by the owners.

Mr. Cook

I am afraid that that contribution is lost on me but I reiterate that the major employee organisation involved in the industry knows that its members will have to work longer hours on top of an already long working week.

Another feature of the arguments of those who favour Sunday opening is that we must have either one extreme or the other, that we could have 24-hour opening of pubs and total abolition of licensing laws, or total prohibition. We are all aware that the human mind gropes instinctively for two opposing contrasts. We know that when we go to the electorate my hon. Friends and I like to pose two stark choices. We offer ourselves as representing full-blooded humane Socialism as opposed to someone representing savage atavistic Conservatism at its worst. But there are always more than just two extremes. Often there is a sensible compromise, in this case to provide a certain restriction of access to alcohol but which can provide a prefectly adequate freedom of access to alcohol in a civilised context. I hope that hon. Members will stop trying to direct the debate into one of two positive polarised aspects.

Hon. Members have also raised the question whether the incidence of alcoholism in Scotland is necessarily related to our licensing laws. We must be plain, and some hon. Members do not seem convinced of it yet, that we have an extremely serious problem of alcoholism in Scotland. The problem is not only bad but accelerating. It is not a question of recording technique. Even if it is argued that our hospitals are now more capable of recognising, diagnosing and admitting alcoholics than before, it is difficult to understand why in Scotland we have seven times as many admissions for alcoholism than in England. Are we to believe that our hospital service is seven times better at diagnosing and catching alcoholics?

It is difficult to understand that in the last 15 years offences of drunkenness have doubled in Edinburgh. Are we to believe that this is becaue we have a more vigilant police force which is catching and identifying drunks on the streets much more effectively than 15 years ago? That is hard to believe. It has been said many times that there is a more restrictive licensing law in Scotland than there is in England, and that that cannot be related to the fact that we have a high incidence of alcoholism.

It is said "They have longer drinking hours in England but less alcoholism. If we had longer drinking hours we might have less alcoholism." The studies that have been carried out in 25 countries have shown repeatedly that increased access to alcohol leads to increased consumption and that increased consumption increases the incidence of alcoholism. It does not matter which group in society is studied, be it women or children, the result is an increased incidence of alcoholism.

We have a serious problem of alcoholism, a problem that is worsening. If we allow the opening of public houses on Sundays, there is a possibility that the problem will increase. However, speculative or doubtful that possibility may be said to be, it is a matter that weighs heavily with me. It is an argument that I find overpowering.

I cannot pretend to understand why it is that the English, who have longer drinking hours, have a lower incidence of alcoholism. The origins of alcoholism in our society are complex and I am not clever enough wholly to understand them. It is a remarkable fact that a high proportion of those convicted of drunkenness in England originate from Ireland or Scotland. Even when we transport the Celts into the civilised English drinking system they seem to throw up a greater problem of alcoholism. It is a difficult problem that is not properly understood.

There can be no doubt that if we carry out this reform we risk worsening the problem of alcoholism in our country. That is a risk from which we cannot run away. We can say that on balance we accept that there is a danger of increasing alcoholism but we wish to increase the freedom of the individual. That is a legitimate point of view, but it cannot be denied that we are balancing the greater freedom to have access to drink with the strong posibility of increasing the rate of alcoholism. I am not prepared to increase access given that balance.

Sunday is a day of rest not only for those who work in the public houses but for those who have to live beside them. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) said that he has no public houses in his constituency. He is rather more fortunate than most of us. I have more than my fair share for the whole of Edinburgh because I represent a central area. There are plenty of bona fide travellers for six days a week who go into central Edinburgh to drink in the public houses, but if those who have talked about civilised drinking visited some of the public houses in my constituency in certain areas they would find it difficult to recognise the description that we have heard tonight. If they visited these public houses, they would find that the neighbours have constantly to put up with fighting and brawling in the streets outside. That is almost a nightly occurrence. The neighbours are used to the spectacle of vomit on the pavements when they go out the next day. They are accustomed to washing the urine off the steps the following day. They would find it intolerable if they were to have to put up with those conditions on the seventh day. I have no doubt about the balance of opinion in my constituency.

The fall-back position that the Government have prepared has necessitated a considerable amount of effort and thought. As a fall-back position, it has a good deal to commend it. I welcome the provision that the Government have included in an attempt to protect residents and tenants. Nevertheless, I feel that what is proposed is greatly inferior to the present position. I shall still vote for the status quo.

Mr. Russell Johnston

As has been indicated by those who have immediately preceded me, it is becoming rather late in the argument to introduce anything that is new. Nevertheless, I think we each have an obligation to express a view on a matter that has aroused a great deal of genuine controversy in Scotland.

It has already been said that the Secretary of State was in many ways rather disingenuous when he emphasised at the beginning that his view on Sunday open- ing was in no way affected by Sabbatarian attitudes. I think it must be recognised that for many people in Scotland their view is affected by just such attitudes. It has certainly been the principal motivation in the Church lobby to which most of us have been subjected.

I do not know what has been the experience of other hon. Members but I have had approximately 230 letters from my constituency, all the writers being opposed to the opening of public houses on Sunday. Virtually all of them were directly motivated by statements by ministers in pulpits.

2.15 a.m.

It is perfectly proper that the Church should express a view on this matter. It has experience of it through the normal activity of ministers. But I still feel that the concentration on an issue of this sort to the exclusion of many others is not a particularly good reflection upon the Church.

Together with other hon. Members from both sides of the House, I discussed with a joint deputation of the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland the opening of public houses on Sunday. That was the first time in 12 years in this House that I had met such a deputation about anything at all.

I should have thought that the role of the Church involves more than talking about drink alone, divorce alone or abortion alone. There are matters such as the education of our children, social deprivation, homelessness, unemployment, the disabled, to which the Church would do well to direct its attention, rather than concentrating alone on issues such as that before the House, important though it is.

If the Church is concerned solely with issues of this kind, it rather indicates an introvert attitude within it, which leads me to feel that it is getting somewhat out of touch with the principal social imperatives with which we have to deal.

Despite what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Carmichael) said about the idea of veto polls being incredible hypocrisy, I frankly think that that is the most logical position of all. Indeed, it is the position set out in Amendment No. 49.

Mr. Carmichael

I can see the hon. Gentleman's point. The hypocrisy arises in a city area, when there is only a 20-minute walk or a five-minute car run required to move from a "dry" to a "wet" area, and the "wet" area tends to get all the problems. It is quite different from the position where there are fairly long distances between "wet" and "dry" areas.

Mr. Johnston

I quite accept the validity of what the hon. Gentleman says, but in making some sort of local option possible one could in the end base it, as Amendment No. 49 does, only upon the licensing board areas. In the case of the cities, this means the District Council of Glasgow, the District Council of Edinburgh and the District Council of Dundee. That would obviate the kind of exploitation to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

The way in which the amendments are cast makes it necessary for me to vote with the Government on New Clause 1. Nevertheless, in doing so I am personally quite sharply and painfully aware, particularly as a Liberal, that there are large areas in Scotland—especially, perhaps, in Central Scotland—in which the democratic view of the area is in favour of Sunday opening.

I do not particularly want to repress that local choice. I do not want to have a flat view imposed on my area, nor do I particularly want to impose a view on other areas, either. I know equally—certainly this has been the pattern of the debate—that there are few certitudes in this question of alcoholism. The hon.Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) articulated this well.

Several hon. Members asked whether alcoholism increased when drinking hours were extended. Some said that that occurred. Others questioned that. Some said that when more companionable conditions were created, wives went into pubs, which increased drinking without necessarily increasing the rate of alcoholism.

Why is the incidence of alcoholism twice as high in Scotland as in England? Why is it twice as high in the Highlands as in the whole of Scotland? There are no licensing laws in Italy and France other than market forces. The pubs and cafés remain open as long as there are customers in them. However, there is a high rate of alcoholism in France and a relatively low rate in Italy. No one knows why.

Mr. Fairbairn

There is an explanation. In France we may not drink the water. The French, whether children or adults, must drink wine. The Italians are not obliged to drink wine.

Mr. Johnston

The hon. and learned Gentleman always seems to have a capacity for reaching solutions at which learned committees have for many years failed to arrive. I do not know that there is all that much evidence. I defer to the hon. and learned Gentleman when he implies that the water in Italy is better than that in France. However, French wine is better than Italian wine. That is another matter.

I am not sure that longer opening hours for off-licences mean more alcoholism. Consideration of the facts leads me to believe that the alcoholic makes sure that he has access to drink when he wants it. It is a difficult matter. As a Liberal I believe in the right of choice. People should be able to make up their own minds. I reject the kind of unsympathetic repression towards which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) leans. People should have the capacity to make up their own minds on individual and community questions. If a community or the people in a recognisable locality do not want drink, let that be. If they want it 24 hours a day—which was one of the options upon which the Secretary of State poured scorn—so be it. The principle should be what the people in recognisable local areas want to do or have.

This is the choice that I have before me. If I support Sunday opening but the people of my area oppose it, I may impose on my constituents an arrangement which they oppose. There is evidence showing that the proposal is opposed by people in Central and possibly even in North-East Scotland.

The whole argument about drink in Scotland is riddled with cant, hypocrisy and inconsistency. At the end of the day I suspect that whatever solution we produce will have elements of hypocrisy within it and certainly aspects of inconsistency. I do not know whether there is any way round that, but at least we in the House should recognise our own fallibility. I accept that we have an alcoholism problem that is more severe than is general in Europe, but it is nevertheless accepted that there are no clear solutions.

If the local option solution, which I think would be the best, is not available, a flat opening of public houses on Sunday would impose on communities, some of which I represent, a style of behaviour for which there is no expressed demand.

Reference has not been made to the opinion polls, for example, in the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail. They appear to be the only quantitative evidence of pressure for the change. I have not received any letters saving that the change is desirable. I am aware that the receipt of 230 letters saying that the change must not be made is equally a distortion of reality because it means that people are being pressed. Any genuine pressure would be expressed in what people say and write to me, and so far I have experienced none.

Mr. Dalyell

The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) criticised the kirk for being concerned solely with this issue. My experience in West Lothian is a little different. To their credit the kirk and individual ministers have raised many social issues over the years.

Like other hon. Members, I have received a large number of letters, but perhaps those that worry me most come from publicans. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) skated over this matter all too lightly. I quote from a typical letter which I have received from a publican: I protest on the grounds that I work 70 to 80 hours a week at present, and I look forward to Sunday as the one day in the week when I am able to enjoy a normal family environment. Has any assessment been made of the added costs of Sunday opening and the ease with which replacements can be found and the general question of the effect of Sunday opening on the working conditions of publicans and their staff?

I address myself to the Leader of the Liberal Party and claim perhaps in this matter, though not in others, "I am a better devolutionist than thou." For a long time some of us—in the minority—have argued, precisely for the reasons given by the hon. Members for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) and Inverness, that requirements vary from one part of Scotland to another. Not only would the House of Commons be spared late nights but, far more important, a better solution would be arrived at if this issue—and many others—had been left to the regions, because there are genuine differences between the Western Isles on the one hand and Edinburgh on the other.

2.30 a.m.

Mr. Fairbairn

I shall follow the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) exactly on the point on which he finished.

Scotland has entirely different problems as my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) said. For instance, in Perthshire there are 217 hotels and 45 pubs. In Rutherglen there is one hotel and there are 22 pubs. There is the same number of people in both areas, so we are dealing with entirely different problems.

I reject all the arguments about whether people would drink more or less, or would become alcoholics or drunks or anything else if the pubs opened on a seventh day in the week. The falsity of that argument is that those who advance it do not understand and may not want to understand that the fact that there is no Sunday opening in Scotland does not mean that they stop drinking for one-seventh of the time. So we have a situation where people drink on a Sunday. The question is whether, in those areas where there appears to be the difficulty that there are not sufficient hotels to allow people to drink, they should he permitted to do so.

I find myself in an extremely difficult position. The Under-Secretary will recall that in Committee I said that I thought that a selective attitude should be allowed and that it should be used to raise the standard of public houses.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) talks about hell holes. I am unimpressed by that sort of language. I had great pleasure in drinking in the "Wee Man" behind the High Court, in Edinburgh. My hon. Friend would call that a hell hole but I found it a haven, among the sort of people with whom Labour hon. Members might not think I normally associated.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Would my hon. and learned Friend take his daughters there?

Mr. Fairbairn

I would take one 01 my daughters to the "Wee Man" but I could not make her drink. I would not take my other two daughters.

This is a problem that we must face. It is purely an urban situation and exists only in certain areas. It is not a matter of principle because the pubs are open and one can drink on a Sunday anywhere. It is not a matter of alcoholism because I do not think licences have anything to do with that. The simple question is whether it is sensible to make the pubs in Scotland open everywhere. It would be asinine in my constituency. They would have to open, because if one did, all the others would. Nobody wants it in my constituency, or in Ross and Cromarty and many other parts. Do we have to have it everywhere in order to cure a problem somewhere? That is the difficulty in the situation in which we are placed, and the Government's let-out clause is a poor let-out because it says: A licensing board shall refuse an application made under paragraph 2 above if it is satisfied that the opening and use on a Sunday of the premises to which the application relates would cause undue disturbance or public nuisance in the locality, but otherwise shall grant the application. The one place in which it will not cause a nuisance is my constituency. We do not have pubs in tenements. The pub is miles away from where anyone lives. So the pubs which would be allowed to be open and would get through the licensing board are those in a rural situation. The pubs that would need to be open if there were an urban demand would not get through.

I respect the motivation of the Secretary of State, but he has got it wrong. Pubs in Perthshire, Ross and Cromarty and Inverness-shire would not cause a public nuisance because no one lives near them. Yet the pubs in Pentlands and Central Edinburgh, where there may be a demand and urban justification, will be cut out.

I am compelled to vote for New Clause 1 because in my constituency, as in most other parts of Scotland, the provision in the Standing Committee amendment is unnecessary. We are trying to cure a localised, urban problem in a general way that offends many people who do not understand what this is all about. The Government's fall-back position would exacerbate the problem rather than cure it. We should not be emotional about this matter. It has nothing to do with alcoholism or whether Sunday is a sacred day.

A blanket requirement that every pub in Scotland must open would cause unnecessary offence to many people. It would be an unsuccessful attempt to cure a narrow requirement.

Mr. Dempsey

I shall not detain the House for long. I have listened to every speech and found the wide-ranging deliberations very interesting, though it is beyond me how some of the theories became involved in this simple problem.

My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) will probably soon be chiding me and suggesting that I should declare an interest. I am a lifelong teetotaller, though that does not make me intolerant. I served for 14 years in a licensing court in Lanarkshire before coming to the House. That is why I am a teetotaller. At a recent function, my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) tried to get me to break the pledge and said: "Give Dempsey a double Scotch and I'll pay his fine!"

I shall do my best to hold to my convictions. I have been asked whether I took communion wine and my answer was "No". I had the pleasure of opening licensed premises in my constituency recently and they could not find a drink to suit me. When waiters came round with a tray of concoctions, I asked for a non-sweetened pussyfoot. The waiters looked mesmerised. When I asked one whether he had anything for a teetotaller, he shook his head sadly and said, "Nothing, sir, but respect."

Hon. Members have overlooked the present situation. Hotels are open on Sundays and there are multifarious clubs in all communities. One point which has been overlooked is that pubs are already open on a Sunday. I sat on the Committee which dealt with the Guest Report where it was arranged that if any public house were willing to bring its facilities up-to-date and to provide meals, that licensee could qualify for Sunday opening hours. In my constituency today I have pubs which are open on Sunday simply because they provide meals and alcohol is ancillary to those meals. That is the golden rule, and when we have regard to the number of facilities which are available one is entitled to ask whether there is a need to extend Sunday opening of pubs. I contend that there is no need at all.

When we told licensees that they could have a Sunday licence if they were willing to spend money on their premises and to provide meals facilities, most of them rebelled against that. Licensees refused to spend money improving those particularly squalid properties in order to provide an environment for the enjoyment of a dram with a meal. It seems wrong that those same individuals, who never spend a single penny improving their properties, should be given the same rights as those who have spent thousands of pounds providing facilities. That point should also be borne in mind by the House.

There is no doubt that the Bill in general provides for the provision of refreshments seven days a week. How my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) can logically argue that the new clause is tantamount to prohibition is beyond me. I have never heard that before.

I am reminded of one licensee who refused to sell females a dram. He was against it because it meant providing toilet facilities for females and he was not willing to do so. We told him that he must give them a dram if they wanted it. He got over the problem by providing them with pails. We tried our best to get licensees to provide basic elementary facilities. Nobody has ever used that as an argument in favour of cutting our drinking, eliminating it and advocating prohibition. I had never heard of that theory until I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian this evening. I would tell him that if the places of which I am thinking are opened on Sunday I have not the slightest doubt that the average woman would not go to such places with her husband. We shall therefore have masculine drinking, which will result in men leaving their families at home. It will mean the interruption of family life, and that is bad enough at present. We have only to watch men going from club to club and notice where the womenfolk are to realise what is going on. We are duty bound to take that into account.

I belong to the Labour Party. I hope that my hon. Friend will never forget that thousands of people joined our movement in order to achieve temperance in our society. Others joined it—we should not be ashamed about it—because they believed in the sanctity of the Sunday. They joined it because they believed that the Sabbath should be kept holy. I go to church on a Sunday morning. My hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire reads the lesson. It takes me all my time to understand it.

2.45 a.m.

Mr. Canavan

My hon. Friend does not go to the same church.

Mr. Dempsey

Not the same building, but the same religious persuasion.

We in this party owe much more to Methodism than to Marxism. We must take account of the family day, if nothing else. Considering drinking, especially in the West of Scotland, I have concluded that it is not so much the drinking laws as the drinking habits which need to be adjusted. Without the new clause the problem will be exacerbated. I was amazed to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian say that the number of offences connected with drink has decreased. According to a report on the radio the other day, 160,000 people were tried in connection with offences relating to drink in the United Kingdom in the last calendar year.

We all respect one another's opinions, but I hope that the new clause will be approved.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

I approach this question from the standpoint of demand in my constituency. With the Bill in prospect, there was a small upsurge, to 23, in the number of letters I received opposing it. But before then I received letters requesting drinking facilities. So this can be judged in different ways. I understand that there is great feeling in Dundee about the absence of facilities for drinking in a civilised manner on a Sunday. I have heard of hotels which are jammed tight on a Sunday, where people who want a drink must queue up. I have not heard such hair-raising stories as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) mentioned, but no doubt those things occur. Certainly there is a demand in Dundee for an extension of those facilities. There is a shortage of hotels. There are plenty of public houses but the fact that they cannot open on a Sunday causes difficulty.

I am a churchgoer—not perhaps as regular as I might be—but I see no reason against people having a drink. If licensing hours are kept separate from church-going hours, particularly in the morning, I can see no difficulty arising. Many hon. Members will be voting tonight largely on an assessment of how their constituencies will react—

Mr. Buchan

Do not believe it.

Mr. Wilson

It could be true in certain cases. For instance, if constituencies which have a large number of hotels and a small number of public houses turn out to be against the opening of public houses on a Sunday, they may not be greatly affected in practice by the opening of the few public houses in their localities, but the votes which will be cast against Sunday opening could tell heavily in areas which have a shortage of proper hotel accommodation. That matter will condition my vote tonight.

I turn now to the fall-back amendment—Amendment No. 92—which I was considering supporting. However, on study of it, I find certain aspects about which I am not sure. I should like some information from the Minister on the way in which it has been drafted. I draw attention particularly to paragraph 6: A licensing board shall refuse an application…if it is satisfied that the opening and use on a Sunday of the premises to which the application relates would cause undue disturbance or public nuisance in the locality, but otherwise shall grant the application. These criteria in the fall-back amendment could cause considerable difficulty to licensing boards when they make this decision, particularly in relation to first-time grants where there is no evidence of disturbance. Some licensing boards may use that condition to exercise a general veto against the granting of licences. I know that an appeal may be made to the sheriff and that may take care of the situation, but that provision seems to give considerable discretionary power to the licensing boards.

Will any guidance or help be given to the licensing boards by way of memoranda by the Scottish Office regarding the type of nuisance or difficulty that might be expected to arise to warrant the refusal of a licence?

Secondly, how does one prove that a disturbance or nuisance arises from a given set of premises? One public house and its clientele could be judged on the basis of nuisance or disturbance created by those who frequent another public house. In practice, it could be difficult for a licensing board to take action in circumstances where a Sunday licence has been granted, except where evidence is provided by way of conviction in court during the year showing that the trouble has come from a particular set of premises. I should like the Minister to explain as clearly as possible the practical effect of this fallback amendment.

I congratulate the Secretary of State on his clear exposition of the meaning of the separate groups of new clauses and amendments at the outset of the debate. It put the matter in perspective and helped those of us who have been looking at the individual amendments and trying to piece them together to form a coherent picture.

Mr. Buchan

I shall be brief. Indeed, I deliberately waited to hear the views of the main protagonists on both sides of the argument to convince me one way or the other. The arguments of the liberalisers have almost pushed me into supporting New Clause 1, with which I shall deal later.

Certain comments must be made before we finish tonight. I have never been more ashamed of the Scottish Press than over the last few weeks. In the middle of the biggest economic crisis that we have ever faced, one would have thought that the fate of the nation depended entirely on whether we should have Sunday opening for pubs. Furthermore, I regret that so many hon. Members—particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh)—should have contributed to that campaign.

I particularly resent that the Press took no trouble to understand the workings of the House, nor did hon. Members who were active in the campaign on one side or the other make it their business to enlighten the Press. Issue after issue of quality and popular papers implied that there was something wrong, tyrannical despotic and completely unprecedented in the Government putting down an amendment to reverse a decision taken in Committee. That happens frequently, and it is right. I should not tolerate a position where a decision made in Committee was binding on the Chamber of the House.

Mr. Dalyell

To help my hon. Friend's argument, did he see that one paper went so far as to suggest that it was mandatory for all Scottish hon. Members to attend my Adjournment debate on the tartan Army, tartan Navy and tartan Air Force after this debate?

Mr. Buchan

If my hon. Friend is saying that there is a great deal of ignorance about the workings of the House, I agree with him. I deplore that the Press was so wrong and that some hon. Members contributed to that.

The attitude of some hon. Members deteriorated so much that it became sufficient to say "England has it" to create the suggestion that the Scots were deprived. The argument then became based on the attitude that the Government were not allowing us to have what they have in England—as if the English were preventing us from exercising our own liberty. That is an indictment of how we have allowed the position to deteriorate. That is mesmeric nonsense which I deplore.

I hope that we do not make a decision on the basis only of our own constituencies. It is important to consider the effect of all legislation on our constituencies but we should look at the total situation instead of looking at the selfish advantage which we might see for our own areas. That takes a bit of courage, but I hope that hon. Members will exercise it.

I do not accept the argument that the different situation in France and Italy accounts for their lower incidence of alcoholism. If there is an explanation it is because Scots drink more spirits. It is part of our basic culture. We have different drinking problems and more alcoholism because of our long tradition of hard drinking. It was not initiated by the licensing law as my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian suggested.

Mr. Mackintosh

I said that it was encouraged.

Mr. Buchan

I doubt whether it was even particularly encouraged. My hon. Friend should read the paeon of praise on the dark drinking dens of Glasgow where drinking has to be done vertically. That is a long tradition which was not discouraged by the licensing laws. It is difficult to assert the negative—that licensing has not helped—and then to assert that the nature of the licensing laws has contributed to a greater incidence of drunkenness and alcoholism in Scotland. That is not true.

3.0 a.m.

The liberalisers—I must include myself among them—must face up to the fact that if we extend drinking hours there will be more deaths and serious injuries and more alcoholism. [An HON. MEMBER: "And more freedom."] Of course, but there is a great deal of freedom to jump off the top of a skyscraper. The deaths are the price to be paid for the freedom.

A great deal of drinking on a Friday is done by the people who also drink on a Saturday, and if there is drinking on a Sunday they will do a great deal of the drinking then. To that extent there is a greater likelihood of injuries and deaths on the roads and people moving into alcoholism. The liberalisers must face up to this and say that it is the price we must pay—a short-term price, because in the long run the problem will decrease. This is where I begin to have doubts, because I am not sure that an alteration of the licensing laws will change the situation at all.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Of course it will.

Mr. Buchan

A change in social attitudes, housing, the environment and the pubs themselves will alter it. I had hoped that the fall-back position would be much tougher—for example, making it compulsory for those who wished to have a seven-day licence to make a fresh application, with tough criteria for granting that licence. Those who could not meet the criteria would have to stick to a six-day licence. To meet the criteria, applicants would have to have good pubs, providing snacks and meals and coffee—perhaps a juke box. We had the opportunity to deal with the drinking problem in that way, rather than merely trying by the licensing—

Mr. Robert Hughes

The toughness should not be tacked on to the Sunday question but should concern the state of the pubs as they are now.

Mr. Buchan

I accept that, but I am a realist. We cannot impose criteria of that kind for every pub in Scotland. If we introduced them for seven-day licences that would have a feed-back effect. The argument would be that if a pub were not fit to open on Sunday it was not fit to open for the rest of the week.

I have been put in a quandary. I am one of the great "Don't knows". I have been appalled by the certainty I have encountered on every side in this issue. I am not certain.

I shall support the fall-back position. I hope to see how it can be strengthened in another place so that we may try to deal with the problem as it should be dealt with. It cannot be dealt with only by a change in the licensing laws.

Mr. Mick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I have sat here throughout the debate and have heard many preambles to speeches containing the words "I shall be brief." I can give the undertaking that I shall be brief, because I know that the House wants to come to a conclusion on the matter.

I must confess that as a member of the Church of Scotland I share many of the views expressed by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston). I agree that some of us have had representations made to us on the basis that it was known where we would stand. The most honest representation that I have received was from a minister in my constituency who said that he had not detected any pressure for the opening of pubs on Sunday but as a parish minister he would not expect to receive any representations that pubs should be open on a Sunday. I read the rest of that letter with far greater attention than I paid to some others.

We have had a thoroughly good debate this evening and we had a good debate in Committee. Tonight we have had 15 speakers apart from the Front Benchers. I want to make two preliminary observations before coming to my theme. We sometimes tend to forget, certainly people outside the House do, that alcohol is already available on Sundays in hotels and clubs. I remind those who need reminding of the table on page 34 of the Clayson Report showing that since 1945 the number of clubs in Scotland has risen from 681 to 2,148 in 1972. That is a reflection, but not necessarily the best reflection, of the kind of licensing laws that we have had in Scotland in that time.

Secondly, as the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) and others have said, we have also to remember that there is a curious pattern in Scotland. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) acknowledges that there is a problem. I do not agree with his conclusion that because there are different problems in different parts of Scotland, we should do nothing. In the past we have tended to legislate for the lowest common denominator, but now we want to raise standards and to legislate for the whole of Scotland. We must not run away from them just because the problems in different areas are different.

That is the general background. Drink is available on Sundays but not necessarily in the best places or in the best ways. That is a fact that we have to face. I cannot emphasise too much that the opening of a pub in Scotland on a Sunday will be discretionary.

I do not want to go all over the arguments because they have been made very thoroughly, but I should like to deal with the subject mentioned by everyone who has spoken—alcoholism and the problems of the abuse of drink. No one wants alcoholism to increase. We all want it to reduce. But the same arguments are used to prove different ends. For instance, the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) mentioned international comparisons. I do not find these arguments conclusive one way or the other. Much as I want alcoholism to be reduced, I do not accept all the arguments. I do not believe that in the way I shall vote tonight I shall necessarily have a monopoly of truth.

We have a problem of alcoholism in Scotland and we have a problem of drink abuse. What we have to decide this evening is whether we are better in dealing with the problem to keep the situation as it is or to try to change it. I come down, as I did in Committee, on the side of the view that, given that it is a bad situation, it is worth trying to change it and to improve attitudes to drink and in that way to improve the present situation.

I appreciate that the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was the architect of the Bill in the form in which it came to the House. He said that it was a balanced Bill, and I respect his view. But I do not believe that any of us has a monopoly of necessarily knowing what is right or best at the end of the day. We have had the Clayson Report and that, too, was balanced.

I believe that when the balance is taken away from that report—and that is what the Government did in their original proposals—a major item in the attempt to liberalise attitudes towards alcohol is also taken away. We run the risk of upsetting the balance of the whole approach of the Clayson Committee.

For my own part, while I respect the arguments put forward by those who oppose Sunday opening, I think there is a certain measure of illogicality in them, and if they are followed to their conclusion that will lead to greater restriction. I believe that it is worth taking the risk—and I admit that there is a risk—of going for a greater degree of liberalisation in order to get civilised attitudes and to improve the situation.

We have seen improvements in Scotland over a number of years. I want to see those improvements carried forward. I have a young family, and for many years I have been working among young people, but I believe that allowing pubs to open on Sunday is right and worthwhile. I hope that it will be endorsed by the House.

Mr. Harry Ewing

The main feature of this debate is the degree of tolerance which has been shown by those who take opposing views. I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew-shire, West (Mr. Buchan) that this same tolerance and understanding was not shown in the comments of the Scottish Press, excluding the editorial in yester- day's Daily Record which did catch the mood of the House of Commons and the people generally.

I shall go right through the debate. I do not believe that anything I say at 3.15 a.m. will change the mind of anyone, but I have the responsibility, with the last word in this debate, to emphasise the points which were made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in introducing the new clause. I have the responsibility to point out to hon. Members in all parts of the House that while I accept that alcohol is available in Scotland on Sunday, this debate is about whether we legislate to open a further 4,000 outlets for the sale of alcohol. The House has a clear responsibility to consider the consequences of such a decision.

I was very interested in many of the contributions tonight, particularly that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who was Secretary of State when we started the process of putting together this legislation. I was interested to hear him say that the Church of Scotland, while not agreeing with every aspect of the legislation, commended it as a balanced package. It is a great pity that many of the good things that we have done in this legislation have been submerged in the debate on whether we should open pubs in Scotland on Sunday. In fact, Dr. Clayson said this reform of licensing legislation in Scotland was the best this century. It is a great pity that the Scottish Press did not pick up all the good things that the Bill does instead of concentrating on the issue of Sunday opening.

3.15 a.m.

I was most interested by the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook). I was tempted to rest my reply on what my hon. Friend said because I felt that his contribution was the most profound of the debate. He was drawing on the evidence submitted to the Select Committee on the problems of alcoholism and the availability of alcohol through these additional retail outlets. No one can ignore what will happen if we increase the availability to the extent suggested.

We are then asked how we can extend evening opening hours from Monday to Saturday yet argue against opening on a Sunday. There is no logic in licensing. Therefore no one can argue a logical case whether the pubs should be open on a Sunday against a background of the decision to extend weekday opening hours. I hope therefore that no one is casting a vote tonight on the basis of logic, because there is none.

We were asked about the fall-back position. New Clause 1 involves the decision in principle whether public houses should be opened on a Sunday. If it is carried the associated amendments would obviously be carried and the remainder of the grouped amendments would not be moved. If New Clause 1 is not carried we come to the fall-back position, which I know some hon. Members would like explained. We have introduced it because we want to impose on publicans and licence holders an obligation should the House vote for Sunday opening.

Let me clear up one point about the discretionary powers of publicans to open on a Sunday. The present legislation is discretionary in that a public house does not have to open any day of the week that it does not want to open. The Bill does not change that. Any licence holder who applies to open on a Sunday will immediately trigger off the procedure as though it were an application for a new certificate. That means that those with a statutory right of objection as defined in the Bill would have the right of objection under the fall-back procedures. It covers the important question of protection for those in tenement buildings who share a roof with a public house. The publicans would be under an obligation to notify in writing all those adjoining tenants. The collective representatives—we found it difficult to define what a residents' or tenants' association was so we used the term "collective representatives"—or the individual tenants will have a statutory right of objection. Equally, the licensing board will be under an obligation to publish that application from the licence holder to open on a Sunday. All those matters will be triggered off when an application is made for Sunday opening.

Mr. David Steel

When the hon. Gentleman says that it will be treated as a fresh application, does he mean that it will be possible for a publican to apply for Sunday opening and in the course of having his application reviewed to lose his existing six-day licence?

Mr. Ewing

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for emphasising the point that I was about to make. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West complained that the fall-back position is not strong enough. If the licensing board refuses an applicant permission to open on a Sunday, he will not lose his six-day licence. The legal advice we have received is that such a course would not stand up in law.

The two exceptions that are made in the fall-back position, as distinct from the application for a new certificate, is that there will be no requirement to furnish the licensing board with a complete certificate or with the other certificate. That will be in existence in any case.

Our legal advice is that if a licensing board were to withdraw the licence for the whole of the seven days on an application for Sunday opening, the sheriff would be bound to uphold the appeal of the licence holder. It is important to say in terms of our desire to bring public houses in Scotland up to standard that if a publican applies for a licence to open on a Sunday and is refused because it is considered, by virtue of the nature of the premises, or some other reason, that it would cause a public nuisance, it goes without saying that the licence holder would be under notice to get his premises brought up to standard. If he did not do so, I imagine that at the next quarterly meeting of the licensing board much more serious action would be taken. All the provisions that will be triggered off by the mere fact that applicants have to apply to open on a Sunday are contained in the application for a new certification, with the exceptions that I have defined.

The hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) said that they are very poor fall-back provisions. I do not accept that, but I think that the House will have gathered from the tone of my voice that I accept that they are a poor second best from my point of view—and I speak personally. I have always been against the opening of public houses on a Sunday. I have been reinforced in my view in the past two years, having done the job that I have been doing in Government and having seen the effects of crime related to alcohol.

In 1974 there were approximately 19,000 people committed to Scottish prisons, and 9,000 of them were committed for crimes related to alcohol. I do not hold a monopoly of concern, but I share the concern of Opposition Members and Members from all parts of the House. I could not bring myself to turn a blind eye to the effects of alcohol that I have seen. I was always opposed to Sunday opening, and in the past two years my views have been reinforced.

I said at the beginning that I was not so naive as to deceive myself into the belief that I could change the views of those whose minds are made up. Therefore, I shall not attempt to do so. There have been many important decisions made while Scotland slept, and we are just about to make another. I trust that the decision that the House makes will be one in favour of the new clause and that the Bill will be restored to its original position.

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

The House divided: Ayes 34, Noes 55.

[For Division List No. 285 see col. 613]

Question accordingly negatived.

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