HL Deb 20 June 1901 vol 95 cc877-9


Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Lord Bishop of Winchester.)

On Question, agreed to; Bill read 3a.

Moved, that the Bill do now pass.—(The Lord Bishop of Winchester.)


My Lords, on the question that the Bill be passed I would venture to make an appeal to the Government. The Government, have explained to the right rev. Prelate that while they were prepared to make themselves responsible for the Drunkards Bill, they were not prepared to take any responsibility with regard to this Bill, but I hope it may not be too late for them to reconsider their decision. This is a very useful, though a very small, Bill, which carries out recommendations contained in both the Majority and Minority Report of the Royal Commission. The three propositions in the Bill do not touch the liquor question at all. One of them is a matter of common sense. It is that a justice shall not be disqualified for acting at licensing sessions because he happens to be the owner of railway shares, and thereby, as railway companies own refreshment rooms, is indirectly connected with the liquor traffic. That disqualification has been constantly disregarded in practice, and the proposal in this Bill to do away with it has the approval of all sensible persons. The second point is that the clerk to the justices shall not have anything to do with the granting or transferring of licences in the district in which he acts and in adjoining districts. I think every one of your Lordships who has taken part in the administration of the licensing laws must frequently have experienced the undesirability of the present state of affairs. This, again, is a matter on which all the commissioners—were agreed. The third point is that the licensing sessions shall be held in March instead of in September; and that is an alteration which, I believe, everyone desires to see made. So far as I know, that is the whole substance of the Bill. It is a small and unambitious Bill, but it may effect much good, and it is not likely to give rise to any contention, and I hope the Government will see their way to star it.


My Lords, I am not invested with the power of distributing these much-envied stars to which the noble Earl refers, and I am unable to tell him whether the Bill will be starred in the other House or not. I should think it would be, but that is merely a guess, and not founded on any information peculiar to myself. As to the prospects of the Bill, I can only answer the noble Earl as I answered the noble Earl on the front bench opposite, that my powers of prophecy are very limited, and that it is impossible for me to foresee how this Bill will be dealt with by those on whose conduct its fate really depends. The noble Earl was very careful to tell us that on the various propositions in the Bill there is no disagreement, and that it was generally felt to be a matter of common sense. Well, if all the Members of the House of Commons take the view of the noble Earl, I think I shall not be making a hazardous prediction if I say that the Bill will pass. But the question is whether the noble Earl's view of common sense exactly accords with that of those who have the power of filling up the time in the other House. If so, so far as I know, every opportunity the Government has will be devoted to the passing of this Bill.


Then I suppose I may gather that the Government will treat this Bill in exactly the same way as the other Bill.


I must exhort the noble Earl not to come to any conclusion so rashly. I told him I could not distribute these stars. If he will give me a day's notice I will make inquiry, and may be able to tell him something about that form of astronomy.


I am glad the noble Marquess has not given a pledge to treat this as a Government Bill in the other House. The proposed change in the time for the holding of licensing sessions is probably convenient in the south, but it is inconvenient in the north, and I have not heard any sufficient reason given for the change.

On Question, agreed to; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.