HL Deb 02 August 1904 vol 139 cc398-505

Debate on the Amendment proposed by the Viscount Peel to the Motion that the Bill be now read 2a, viz.:— To leave out all the words after 'That' for the purpose of inserting the following words: 'This House cannot accept as a satisfactory settlement of the Licensing Question a Bill which creates a perpetual interest in a terminable licence.'

Resumed (according to order.)


My Lords, I feel some diffidence in rising to continue the very important and interesting debate which we had in this House last night. I am sure we all listened with pleasure and admiration to the speech of the noble Viscount, who occupied a distinguished position for so many years in the other House to the entire satisfaction of that body and with credit to himself. I am confident that the earnestness, the ability, the clearness, and the moderation with which the noble Viscount spoke made a profound impression on your Lordships. As a rule, when a large subject comes up for discussion we arrange ourselves in two Parties, but there are occasions when we may hope to rise above mere Party interests, and when we may take a national view of a great subject.

I am afraid we have to a considerable extent fallen, and naturally fallen—I do not object to it—into two Parties on this great licensing question; but, as I have said, there are exceptions to this rule. I cannot claim the noble Viscount as a follower of my Party, and on this question he takes an independent view. I also rejoice that the right rev. Bench take an independent view on this great question. On a subject of this sort, which, as I shall presently show, affects the morality and the interests of so many thousands of people in the country, we have a right to expect that the Episcopal Bench should take an independent view. We all remember the distinguished Archbishop, the predecessor of the most rev. Primate who spoke with such ability last night. We all remember the force with which the late Archbishop Temple presented subjects to this House, and I would venture to remind your Lordships that Dr. Temple was a member of the Licensing Commission over which the noble Viscount presided, and that he supported the noble Viscount in the strong Minority Report which was laid before that Commission. I hope the views of that distinguished Primate have not been forgotten, and that they may still have influence on the right rev. Bench.

The noble Marquess who spoke last night (the Marquess of Salisbury) rather twitted the noble Viscount for appealing to the right rev. Bench as representing the Church of England. He said the Church of England is not composed only of Bishops and clergy, but includes also the laity. I entirely agree. He then said that though the most rev. Primate in his speech last night was in favour of an important alteration in the Bill, and though the Archbishop had the support of the right rev. Bench, on one notable occasion when laymen were present the resolution against the Bill and in favour of a time limit, which the most rev. Primate had carried in the Upper House of Convocation, was not endorsed. I will leave that to be further explained by some member of the right rev. Bench. I am, I hope, an earnest follower of the Church of England, and in many matters I warmly support it. I could even appeal to some right rev. Prelates opposite to give me a good character in that respect. But, at the same time, I have always felt that, unfortunately, the Church takes up so many political subjects and takes them up in such direct opposition to the Party to which I belong, that 1 have had sometimes great difficulty in following the Church. I rejoice, therefore, when I find the right rev. Bench supporting the views, and supporting them strongly, which we Liberals hold on this question, which is really one above Party and ought to be treated as a national question. I know—I regret it—that when laymen take part in the discusions of the Church they almost always belong, not to the Party to which I have the honour to belong, but to the Party opposite; and, on the occasion in question, who was it who persuaded this body to vote against the resolution which the most rev. Primate had carried, I believe unanimously, in the Upper House of Convocation? I rather think it was the noble Marquess opposite.




I beg the noble Marquess's pardon. I was certainly informed that he was present. But some of the leading men connected with the Conservative Party were there and took a prominent part in persuading the meeting to follow them in the course which was taken. Therefore when I find the most rev. Primate taking a strong line on a subject of this sort, I cannot but rejoice at it; and I believe that he and those sitting behind him represent what is the dominant view of many of the clergy in every part of the country.

In dealing with a subject of this kind, which has been long before the country, we sometimes overlook the general reasons why the question was raised, and those who may be new to it do nut recognise the great anxiety which is felt by many people in the country on the subject. Therefore it is, in my opinion, desirable that we should consider why this measure is necessary, and I cannot do better than quote a passage from a speech of a noble friend of mine who was Home Secretary in the year 1871, when he introduced a great measure on this subject—a measure which I have always regretted was not better considered. I refer to Mr. Bruce, afterwards Lord Aberdare. He stated in his speech in introducing that Bill the reasons why this legislation was necessary, and he stated them in, I think, comprehensive and forcible terms. He said— Committees of both Houses of Parliament, the Church in Convocation, ministers of every religions denomination, Judges and magistrates collectively and individually, boards of health and boards of guardians, had all united in proclaiming and impressing upon Parliament the mischiefs which had arisen from the existing facilities for the purchase of intoxicating liquors. Social and sanitary reformers who spent their lives doing good had declared that their labours for the moral and social improvement of their fellow-men were baffled at every turn by the recklessness and moral degradation which sprung from and were occasioned by the liquor traffic. They told us how our prisons, lunatic asylums, and workhouses were filled with inmates whose career had originated in their passion for intoxicating liquors. The back streets, courts, and alleys of most large towns were thronged with a squalid and dangerous population who owed their degradation the same cause; and even the rural districts were not free from the curse. Mr. Bruce in those cogent words described the evil which we have to meet. I need not refer to the Report of the Royal Commission over which the noble Viscount presided. They also, in very striking words, commented on this great evil, remarking that hardly any sacrifice would be too great which would result in a marked diminution of this national degradation.

At this moment the actual number of arrests for drunkenness is not diminishing, but increasing. Of prosecutions for drunkenness in England and Wales the average for the five years 1892–6 was 175,628, and for the five years 1897–1901, 204,940, the largest figure being for the year 1901—namely, 210,342. Apart from drunkenness, excessive expenditure on drink is a great economic evil in certain classes. It has been said by some writers of great experience that— It is doubtful if the average family expenditure of the working classes upon intoxicants can be reckoned at less than 6s. per week. The drink bill of the nation is estimated from the Excise returns at £174,445,217 in 1903, and £179,499,817 in 1902. I admit that that is a slight diminution, but it is a serious indication of what is going on in the country. The evils were illustrated not long ago by a petition headed by the most eminent doctors, and signed by 14,718 registered medical practitioners, urging temperance instruction in the elementary schools on the ground that they have constantly before them the serious physical and moral conditions of degeneracy and disease due to drink and neglect of the laws of health. I shall not say more on that part of the subject.

Now, what has been done recent lyin this matter? In 1902 and 1903 two measures were passed by His Majesty's Government, the taking up of those measures being, I think we may say, greatly due to the action taken by the most rev. Primate, who had previously introduced two Bills, which, though not then accepted by the Government, were in some respects adopted afterwards by them. But those Acts did not deal with the whole subject. What is the remedy which we now say is so necessary? We say that it is essential that the number of licences should be reduced. The enormous excess of licensed houses in this country is a very serious matter. In Chichester the proportion is one licensed house to every 100 persons, having been at one time one to every 79 persons. In Portsmouth the proportion is one to every 153 persons. We heard last night of the enormous excess of licences in Portsmouth, and I may mention that in one street in that town one house in every fourteen is licensed. This great excess in the number of licensed houses is, as I have said, a very serious matter, and both the Minority Report and the Majority Report of the Royal Commission declared that some diminution in the number is essential.

I quite admit that there is some difference of opinion as to whether a diminution in the number of licensed houses will really contribute to lessen drunkenness I think the noble Marquess opposite rather urged that it would not. At all events, we had several speakers last night who adopted that argument. I admit that a difference in statistics does exist with regard to that. In some cases, no doubt, a diminution in the number of licensed houses has led to a very great decrease in crime, but not so in other districts. The best, but not the only, illustration of what can be done by the uncontrolled discretion of a licensing bench is shown by the Liverpool example. I have before me the official opinion of the Home Office on the reduction of intemperance and crime due to the restrictive licensing policy of the Liverpool city justices. From this document I find that the editor of the Judicial Statistics writes— The most noticeable feature of the figures as to Liverpool is the great decrease during the last decade in offences known to the police and apprehensions. The former were 926 05 per 100,000 in 1890 and 552.50 in 1899. Still more remarkable is the decrease of prosecutions for drunkenness, which fell from 2392.97 per 100,000 in 1890 to 641.58 in 1899, a decline for which, so far as I am aware, there is no parallel. This striking decline is due, it appears from the information kindly communicated to me by the Chief Constable, to these causes: (a) the decrease in licensed houses; (b) the trict supervision of licensed houses by the police, and the enforcement of the licensing laws; (c) the suppression of brothels; (d) the action of the licensing magistrates as to the conduct and management of licensed premises. I think that is an important example of would can be effected by a diminution in the number of public-houses.

With regard to the way in which this evil should be met, we find in existence two schools of thought. First of all there are those who consider that licences are almost, if not quite, absolute property, with just the one condition attaching to them that they may be withheld if the houses are improperly conducted. There are others who rest their case on the exact legal position and claim that no compensation is due to licence-holders, and that under the law licences can always be withheld. Let me for a moment deal with the first school. I am not at all sure that the two noble Marquesses who not be classed among those who look upon a licence as almost, if not quite, absolute property. I was rather sorry to find a noble Earl on this side of the House, with whose scheme I have considerable sympathy—Earl Grey—also classed among them. The noble Earl, though he is an advocate of a remarkable scheme, which has a strong supporter in the right rev. Prelate whom I see opposite, the Bishop of Chester, strongly supported the proposals of His Majesty's Government. I confess I greatly regret that, and it seemed to me the noble Earl did so almost entirely because he thought that under the Bill he could get public-houses transferred to the trust more easily than now. I should like to refer for a moment to the enormous value that has grown up in licensed houses. There has been an enormous investment in brewery shares within the last few Years. The noble Marquess opposite—he will correct me if I am wrong—said that, of the existing licences, something like 90 or 95 per cent. were held before the legal decision given in 1892.


Before the decision in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield."


That was in the year 1892; and I think it is a rather startling fact that enormous investments of £91,000,000 odd in brewery shares have been made since this decision in 1892. Then, my Lords, the value attached to these houses is something enormous. I will mention one or two cases. My noble friend Earl Grey was granted a licence at Broomhill. He was informed that if he would consent to sell it he could obtain, without spending a single sixpence, nearly £10,000. Here is another case. Some twelve years ago a public-house was built in a northern colliery village. The actual cost of the building, exclusive of land, was £6,500, but, when licensed, its rental value was fixed at £1,000 a year, while at the present time it is let at a rental of £1,800 a year. In another small northern town a new licence was granted in 1897 to a small house valued at £3,500. On receipt of the licence the owner immediately sold the house for £24,500. I mention these cases as showing what an enormous property has grown up in these houses. This is one of the reasons, no doubt, why so many in the country desire to give this property legislative protection, and the assessment of death duties upon it is put forward as a reason in support of the contention. I cannot myself see the force of that argument at all, for death duties are paid on the actual value of all property at the time of death. Death duties are paid in respect of pictures, houses, and even horses. The actual value is taken at the time of the death of the person concerned. If the house, or picture, of horse which has been valued at £1,000 goes down to £500, or up to £2,000, the persons who valued it on behalf of the Government never take the slightest notice of that. They merely take the actual value of the article at the time of the death of the owner. That is exactly what is done with regard to licences, with all the conditions and all the risks attaching to them.

This is a property which, I regret to say, has fallen under the control of comparatively few hands. In former days public-houses belonged to the tenants, but, unfortunately, of late years great brewery companies have bought up these houses, and it is that fact, and the necessity which they think falls upon them for keeping up the value of these houses, that have led to exhorbitant and illegitimate prices being so often put upon them. I think it is a very dangerous thing that such a power should exist in the country. There is hardly a place now where there are not persons who have shares in these breweries. The brewery companies are highly organised, and it is a serious danger to the political independence of the country to find a new power like this set up with a great organisation in every part of the country.

I have referred to the school who consider a licence almost if not quite absolute property. Now I come to the other school, who say that licences are not an absolute property but a monopoly given for the time being by the State under strict limitations. My noble and learned friend Lord Davey referred last night to a clause in the Act of 1828 which lays down the law on this subject, and which contains these words— Every licence which shall be granted shall be in force for one whole year, and no longer. There may have been ignorance on the part of magistrates, but I cannot excuse them for that. They ought to have known the law, and I believe that in many cases they did. I cannot believe, as was stated by the noble Marquess last night and by the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of this Bill, that it was almost invariably the case that magistrates considered they had no power of suspending a licence in any case of redundancy. I have done a great deal of magisterial work but have never sat upon brewster sessions. Nevertheless, I feel confident, from all I know, that licensing magistrates must have been aware of what the law was. There was the decision in 1882 and afterwards the decision in the "Sharp v. Wakefield" case, which distinctly bore out the view that my noble and learned friend Lord Davey laid before your Lordships. Therefore, there was no excuse for magistrates contending that they did not know the law. But what has happened? This enormous sum of money to which I have referred—over £91,000,000—which has been invested in brewery shares, has all been invested since the decision in the Sharp v. Wakefield" case was given in the year 1892.


The licences themselves were in existence before that.


I am not able to dispute what the noble Marquess has just said; but these investments have been made with the knowledge of the two famous decisions often referred to. Within the first year after the decision in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield" was given, insurances of licensed houses were effected to the amount of £3,000,000, and subsequently £60,000,000 of this property Las been insured. The trade admitted the law by these enormous voluntary insurances within the first year after that decision, and by the very large insurances effected since. With regard to the two schools to whom I have referred, I at once say that I do not follow either though I confess that in my opinion the logical position of the school who consider that licences are not property is much the stronger of the two I think it is absolutely impossible to upset that contention. At the same time I am willing to admit, for the sake of carrying out a desirable policy of reducing the number of licences, that some solatium, some compensation, or some indemnity, call it what you will, should be paid to those who suffer from the withdrawal of a licence.

There may be some people who made their investments in ignorance of the risks they ran, some, but not many, who have not their risk covered by insurance. The proposal in the Bill, however, I cannot approve, and I oppose it vigorously; it is a gift to the trade in perpetuity, and that, in my view, is absolutely wrong, unnecessary, and uncalled for. If a time limit were imposed full justice might be done to the publicans and the brewing industry. Why, when the law is clear and has been proved again and again and made generally known, should we say that in carrying out the law there should be payment of compensation? I fully admit that there have been difficulties owing to the feeling that magistrates have had towards those unfortunate people who had made their investments ignorantly; but is it necessary to institute a local, not a national, levy? The reduction of licences under the Bill will be inconsiderable, and it will take years to carry out the reforms which it is perfectly legitimate for magistrates to effect in a much shorter time.

The question of jurisdiction I admit to be one of extreme difficulty; but, as I understand the measure, the powers of the magistrates in brewster sessions will be gravely restricted. There is an important difference between the prerogative of decision and the power merely to make recommendations to quarter sessions. I attach great importance to the distinction, and I fear that under the new system the same care and accuracy in the investigation of local circumstances will not be secured. I do not think a case has been made for this change. I rather cavil at what has been said as to the action of small bodies of magistrates both by Lord Belper and the Marquess of Salisbury. Lord Belper has spoken of their enthusiasm for the reduction of the number of public-houses overcoming all their scruples and leading them to deprive licence-holders of their licences in a wholesale manner. I cannot believe that this is accurate; and I think that when the noble Marquess suggested a danger of suppression of licences on account of the prevalence of eccentric views in a locality, a slur was cast on the magistrates which they do not deserve. I defy the noble Marquess to prove this danger. Have the Government investigated any case alleged to have been decided on this principle by an eccentric bench of magistrates? The provisions of the Bill as to the powers of the magistrates are exceedingly complicated. Already the difficulties of the magistrates in the administration of the licensing law are enormous, but this Bill, it seems to me, will increase them tenfold. In fact, I have heard in the country that lawyers are chuckling over the Bill, because they think an enormous harvest will be reaped by them out of the complications of this measure when it becomes law.

If the Bill is to remain in the form in which it left the other House, I would infinitely prefer that it should be thrown out than it should pass, because it would set back the current of temperance reform; but my views would be entirely changed if there could be a time limit inserted in the measure. The time limit would overcome the difficulty on which I have dwelt as to the permanency given to the licence. I differ from the view that the time limit would only postpone the problem, and that it would arise again at the end of the period for which the time limit was imposed. After the speech of Lord Davey there can be no doubt that the licence-holders can then protect themselves adequately by insurance.

I support and urge the acceptance of the time limit on the Government as the only thing which will make the Bill a real measure of licensing reform. I cannot help remarking on the way in which the Bill has conic up to your Lordships' House. It has come up after being closured in the other House to an enormous extent; in fact, four-fifths of the Bill have not been discussed at all, and even the Government Amendments have not been debated. Is it right that a Bill of this gigantic importance should be brought to your Lordships at a time when it is almost impossible for us to deal with it?

In conclusion, I appeal to your Lordships most earnestly to deal broadly with the measure. There have been occasions when this House has been hailed as the saviour of the country when it has refused to pass measures which have come up even with large majorities. I wish I could appeal to the House to consider this question, not as one of Party, but as one of national importance, for all religious and representative bodies feel deeply that the great evil of drink ought to be dealt with; but, instead of promoting temperance this Bill will only increase the power of the brewers and will aggravate the drink evil. I appeal to your Lordships to rise to the occasion and to consider the enormous importance of settling a difficulty which has been agitating the country so long. I hope you will put away the consideration that this must be treated as a measure belonging to the Government and pass a measure with a time limit, and so settle at last a question of such vast importance to the country.


My Lords, I never rise to reply to the noble Earl who has just sat down without wishing that he were on our side, because his candour and moderation invariably win for what he says the favourable consideration of the House. But on this occasion his enthusiasm has led him to take up a line totally different from that which he usually adopts. For the second time in the course of the debate it has been intimated to the right rev. Prelates that it is very wrong of them to take part in political action unless they take part on the Liberal side. The noble Earl expressed his regret that the right rev. Prelates had generally shown a tendency to favour measures coming from the Conservative Party. I confess that in my mind I cannot reconcile that with a desire to get rid of Party altogether.


I said that there were occasions when national considerations might be higher than Party.


I my self do not think Party is a bad thing, because it is the only way in which great bodies in the country can have their political views crystallised and put into force. The noble Earl seems to assume that the question of temperance is of importance to one side only; but this Bill is recommended, rightly or wrongly, on the ground that it will promote temperance. By way of showing that the Bill ought o be rejected the noble Earl went into statistics of drunkenness and the amount of property owned by the brewers. I cannot help thinking there is gross exaggeration about all this, because when we are dealing with 40,000,000 of people the amount which they eat and drink must come out in very large figures. And why the phase "intoxicating liquors?" I remember a very distinguished man objecting to alcoholic liquors being called "intoxicating liquors," and saying one might just as sensibly call water a "drowning liquor."

What we have heard to-night is the most extraordinary jumble of approval and disapproval, now of the Bill, now of the Government, and especially of the magistrates. The noble Earl can hardly find words of sufficient severity in which to speak of the number of public-houses in the country; but how have they come to be so much in excess? The noble Earl knows perfectly well that not a single public-house in the country can exist without the sanction of the magistrates; yet he speaks with indignation of what he considers the interference with the independence of the magistrates. You cannot have it both ways. If noble Lords have such confidence in the magistrates, why do they want the system altered at all? The question raised last night by my noble and learned friend Lord Davey was a question of a technicality as distinguished from the substance of the matter. Nobody doubts that the licence is granted for a single year, but by way of analogy I could give many cases in which the common sense of mankind has gone beyond the mere words or letter of a document. For instance, how many farms in the country are held from year to year? Yet the same farms are often held by father and son and grandson hi succession. It was the intention of the Legislature that a licence should continue as a rule. One of the learned Judges in "Sharp v. Wakefield" said— I am convinced that the Legislature intended that, as a rule, the licence should be continued., And that is all that my noble friend who introduced the Bill has said. I am old enough to remember the time when it was the ordinary practice that the licence should be renewed unless there was something against the licensee. A man would not go into a public-house anti provide proper accommodation for the public, as to which magistrates were always very particular, unless he had a good expectation that his licence, would be renewed. It was not the ordinary course of things that the accommodation of the public should come to an end at the end of one year, always supposing that there was no misconduct, or nothing inappropriate with public convenience and usefulness. It was for the use of the public, not the publican, that a house was continued in the same place and under the same circumstances, and to suggest that, entirely apart from all change of circumstance, it should be at the caprice of any particular Court seems to me to be absolutely absurd. My noble and learned friend Lord Davey has quoted the Act which says that a licence shall last for one year and no longer, but I cannot help thinking that my noble friend wanted to add the words "and shall not renewed." No one in common sense can suppose that any one would invest any amount of money in a house if the licence was to be taken away at the end of the year, out of deference to my noble friend I will not say at the caprice, but at the mere will of a Court without any reason guiding them. It is against that principle that one protests. The decision in "Sharp v. Wakefield" established what I should have thought did not require much to establish, the fact there was no legal right to the continuance of the licence, and nobody in his senses, I think, has ever contended that there was such a right. But the question is whether or not there should be the power of taking away licences under certain circumstances. An agitation has grown up in the country, and magistrates take one side or another; their functions have been so well discharged, and the confidence of the country in their administration is so great, that I deeply regret that magistrates should have allowed themselves to be made the vehicles of an agitation.

It is said that the existence of public-houses is necessarily accompanied by drunkenness. I noted, however, that the noble Earl, with that fairness which always distinguishes him, said there was a school which considered that there was no relation between the number of public-houses and the amount of drunkenness; and to suggest that people with this unfortunate tendency to drink will not get drink because there are only two public-houses in a place where there used to be three or four, is, to my mind, an absolute delusion. People with that tendency will get drink somewhere or other if they can. I remember that after the Welsh Sunday Closing Bill was passed a whole troop of people—but for the presence of the rev. Bench I was going to say a congregation—used to walk about three miles, from Cardiff into Monmouthshire, in order to get drink on Sunday. But assuming the relation between the number of public-houses and the amount of drunkenness, this Bill wishes to try the experiment of reduction, which, it is alleged, will be a satisfactory aid to temperance. But it lays down also that regard should be had to what people have invested in the trade, which is a lawful one.

One would suppose really, to hear the talk on the subject, that there was something wicked in being a brewer or publican. That is not the line taken by Lord Grey, who, I am happy to observe, is of opinion that a well-conducted public-house can be a source of comfort, and even sometimes of intellectual enjoyment in a village. We must recognise that there are classes of the community whose life in the country would be very dull unless they could indulge in social intercourse. Referring, lastly, to the complaint that the Bill has not been sufficiently discussed, it is true that the whole of it has not been discussed, but a great deal of it has been over-discussed. The question is whether speeches have not been made over and over again, not to elucidate the facts or establish propositions, but to talk the Bill out. I rather think I have, in the past, listened to the noble Earl introducing a Bill, the discussion of which had also been limited, which was not for the purpose of regulating the liquor traffic, but of disintegrating the Empire. I confess I lament very much the use of the particular system known as the guillotine, but I think the unhappy necessity for it would not have arisen if the Bill had been properly and reasonably discussed.


My Lords, after the many touching appeals which have been made to the Episcopal Bench, it is fitting, perhaps, that one occupant at any rate of that Bench should respond to the appeal. Let me say that, whether it comes from one side of the House or the other, we feel it an honour that such an appeal should be made to us. I hope it places upon us a sense of the great responsibility which we have by our presence in this House, and I cordially welcome what was said by the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, that we who sit on the Episcopal Bench should be above Party considerations in everything that we do in this House. If I may take an illustration from my experience in the past,. I may say that I have had for many years charge of an institution called the. Oxford House, in Bethnal Green. I have had Members from both sidesof this House and their relatives and friends to help me in the work, and I found at one time the greatest difficulty in keeping the belief of the district in the impartiality of the work of that house. I had to help me some distinguished relatives of the noble Marquess on this side of the House, and I found the greatest difficulty in making the people believe that anyone of the name of Cecil could be associated with anything but a Party organisation. Fortunately, I also got at my side some relatives of noble Lords on the other side of the House, and I played off one against the other, and at last succeeded in convincing the district that we were a non political organisation. As I look back on those years it is with satisfaction that I find that honours were easy.

Now, as tribunes of the people, which I claim we ought to be in this House, I look upon it as a happy thing that this Bench should be associated at one time with one side of the House and at another with the other side. In regard to the present Bill some of us see eye to eye more with those who are on the opposite side of the House than with those on the Government side, at any rate on one important point. Let me say at once that there is no ignoble rivalry between us and the Nonconformists on the temperance question. I grasp at the temperance platform as the platform on which we can all meet, and some of the happiest recollections of my life in London are temperance meetings with Nonconformists all round me on a platform listening to the eloquence of Mrs. Bramwell Booth. Therefore, I come to the consideration of this Bill with more than an open mind. It is spoken of as a temperance Bill. I clutch, as a temperance reformer, at a temperance Bill. It comes from some of my dear personal friends, and it comes, too, from a quarter where much personal service and much help have been given in the past. I therefore take it up with every desire to really give a most thorough consideration to its provisions, and all the more so when I am promised by the Colonial Secretary in another place that 25 per cent. of the public-houses in London will be reduced, perhaps in one year, by the Bill.

I turn to it, but on examination of the provisions I must say I am wofully disappointed, for I find that this promised boon of 25 per cent. means the assignment of all the levies in London for a period of 48 years. All further reform during the 48 years is therefore stopped, and a full vested interest in the remaining licences is created. I find further, that between March, 1890, and March, 1903, 552 on-licences were suppressed in London, and that if progress were made at the same rate there would be, at the end of the 48 years. without any Bill, a reduction of 2,038 licences, whereas, under the operations of the Bill, the utmost would be 1,855 reductions. If that is the case in London, as Bishop of London and a temperance reformer I am wofully disappointed. Then I turn to see whether in the country there will be any greater reductions under the Bill than is at present going on. I have figures in my hand which show that there have been 24 licences refused at brewster sessions in 1903 in Liverpool. The reduction under the Bill would be 18. In Manchester 40 were refused. Under the Bill the reduction would be 17. In Exeter 13, under the Bill 2; in Canterbury 9, under the Bill 2; in Swansea 16 under the Bill 5. It is the same in the counties. I find that in Cumberland there have been 23, under the Bill there would be 16. In Anglesey 19, under the Bill 2; in Carnarvon 19, under the Bill 2; in Merionethshire 12, under the Bill 2.

If those who bring in this Bill wish to commend it to temperance reformers they must show that there will be more reductions under the Bill than if there was no Bill. If there were no objections to the Bill, if it came before us without any evils in its train, it would not attract me because of the little good it would seem to do. My experience in East London taught me that the real secret of temperance reform was not the denouncing of publicans and brewers, but the provision of counter-attractions. The counter-attractions drew away men and boys from the public-houses, and I could point to hundreds of young, sober, self-respecting citizens of twenty-five years of age, whom I have known from boys of fifteen, simply through the countern attractions in boys' clubs and men's clubs. But now that our money from voluntary sources is spent in providing counter-attractions, we have looked with the greatest hope to my friend Lord Grey's scheme, and I was astonished to hear him bless the Bill in the way he did.

I myself, looking at it from the same point of view, and anxious to bring about the same result, cannot take anything like the optimistic view of the Bill that Earl Grey does. I endeavoured on a small scale to do in Bethnal Green what the noble Earl has done on a large scale. Finding a licence was to be given up, I asked the owner if he would let me have it. I wanted it as a counter-attraction, and I offered £10,000, hoping to raise the money somehow. The good lady most kindly said, "I think I shall get a little more than that for it;" and she sold it for £50,000 the next day. I do not know how long the purse of my noble friend Lord Grey is, but my purse and the purses of my friends are absolutely unable to cope with such a vast expenditure as that. When we look further we find that, under the Bill, we are really to pay on the inflated value caused by excessive competition. I do not find in the Bill any caution with regard to inflated prices. We have all heard stories of a man walking in, getting his licence, and being offered £15,000 or £18,000 the next day, and going out. The very action of the Bill in shutting up some public-houses will obviously increase the value of those that are left, and therefore we shall be hampered in our work at every point unless the Bill is amended in this most important particular.

Then comes the question, Can the trade really afford to pay more? Is it true that the trade is in such a suffering condition that it cannot pay more from its money value for the good of the people? I look to see what has been done in America. I find that the average licence duty in Massachusetts is £346—nine times the charge in London. The total revenue in England and Wales is £1,430,000, less by half-a-million than that of New York alone. In London it is about £275,000. If the levy was made on the New York scale we should have £2,600,000 to play with in London. When I turn to individual firms of brewers and distillers I find statements like the following, which was made at the annual meeting of the firm of John Dewar & Sons, Limited— The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said the profits of the company had made steady progress, and last year was the best in the history of the company. The profits were £104,720, and the prospect for the future was very bright. The directors recommended 20 per cent. dividend, and the payment of a large sum to reserve. Therefore, I feel we have an unexploited value, as it were, under our feet in London alone which ought to be of immense value, without the hampering restrictions in the Bill of temperance reform in the future.

Then, again, I am quite unreconciled, in spite of the speech of the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack, to the dismissal from their duties of the local authorities as the licensing magistrates. I was very much impressed by what fell from the noble Viscount opposite when he asked where the motive power was to come from for the machinery in the Bill. What is it that we can appeal to most readily? It is local patriotism, local interest, the desire to make one's borough a healthier and more sober place. You cut at local patriotism if you take away from the licensing authority of the district their powers of discipline. I find that, out of 627 licences that were refused by the magistrates, 477 were not appealed against at all. Yet we are told that under the Bill the same system that we have had before will practically obtain. The licensing magistrates in these cases had actual power, which they used for the good of the public. I could not follow the figures given by the noble Marquess the Marquess of Salisbury. He mentioned 220 licences as all that had been suppressed during a certain period. But, if this is so, surely the case against the magistrates of using their powers in a most arbitrary way falls to the ground.

Now I come to my last point—the time limit. Three things are said about the time limit. It is said (1) that you might as well talk about a time limit to the Eighth Commandment; (2) that we shall be in the same position at the end of the fourteen years, if that were made the time limit; and (3) that it is inconsistent with the rest of the Bill. Let me take these one by one. If it was really true that it was equivalent to putting a time limit on the Eighth Commandment, I am sure that not one of your Lordships, and certainly not one member of the Episcopal Bench would advocate it. I am not going to enter into the legal controversy between the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack and Lord Davey as to the equity of the claim of the licence-holder to compensation. All I can say is that the proposal in the Amendment to be moved by the most rev. Primate—namely, that there should be a fourteen years time limit, and then a licence given for seven years—is a most generous concession to that equitable claim to consideration which has been raised by the practice of the magistrates in the past. I cannot altogether agree that the real facts of the case were so entirely unknown as represented, for I find that, in the year 1883, there was a letter in the Morning Advertiser written by a Mr. Nash, in which he says— A still more unfortunate result of this case is that it has promulgated and divulged what had been more or less a professional secret, namely, that subject to an appeal, magistrates can refuse to renew a licence. I am not pressing that as against the proposal of the most rev. Primate; I am only showing that you can push the theory that everybody was misled too far. In the most rev. Primate's Amendment you are really giving a very valuable quid pro quo to the trade. You are giving them security for so many years and the elimination of competitors and trade rivals during the period, and if you give them, in addition, a seven years licence when that is over, I cannot see the injustice of the proposal at all. It is said you will be in the same position at the end of the fourteen years. Not at all. There is all the difference in the world between a certain equitable claim which is recognised, satisfied, and extinguished and one which is not.

Then, again, is a time limit inconsistent with the Bill? My own belief is that it will be in line with the Bill. The dual system of licences established by the Bill will produce confusion in the country; but under such a scheme as proposed by the most rev. Primate you would have a unity and a continuity which everyone could understand. I plead, then, very earnestly for freedom. It may be asked, Why, if these considerations are true, give such generous terms? Why give a fourteen years time limit and then a seven years licence? Forgive a Bishop for reminding pin of a Scriptural illustration. There was a man who first served seven years and then another seven years for the fair Rachael he wished to wed; but he got her at last. We are content first to serve seven years and then another seven years, and to go one better and do seven years more in order to recover freedom. But freedom we must have at last.


My Lords, I rise with some diffidence to follow the very interesting speech made by the right rev. Prelate, than whom no man, either in your Lordships' House or outside of it, has devoted himself more unremittingly to the interests of the poorer classes of this city. The right rev. Prelate told your Lordships in the first place that he believed there was in this country a huge unexploited value in licences and in the manufactures turned out by distillers and brewers. My right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer turned every way, when framing his Budget, to find some additional sources of revenue, and when he came to consider whether beer and spirits would bear additional taxation the returns of the consumption were such that he was obliged to abandon it. I do not think that is a proof that there is the large unexploited value to which the right rev. Prelate referred. Then the right rev. Prelate brought forward the case of a large number of licences, t he refusal to renew which was not, he said, appealed against May it not have been that those licences were of no value, or of very little value? and in those cases in which a licence of little or no value is withdrawn, very little, if any, compensation will be paid.

But what your Lordships are asked by the noble Viscount opposite to do is to refuse to give a Second Reading to the Bill, and instead thereof to say that the House cannot accept as a satisfactory settlement of the licensing question a Bill which creates a perpetual interest in a terminable licence. I think I rather understood the most rev. Primate in his speech yesterday to say that if the Government denied that that was the effect of the Bill they might very well accept the Amendment. I am not sure that the most rev. Primate was not right, especially if the noble Viscount the mover of the Amendment would consent to the addition of certain words to his Motion, to the effect that this House welcomes a Bill which will quickly terminate many unnecessary licences in some of which a perpetual interest now exists. What are the obstacles to a reduction in the number of licences? In the first place magistrates are powerless to deal with the ante-1869 beer houses; and. in the second place, although the magistrates have the power they have not the will to abolish licences without compensation. The power of the justices has not been in airy way questioned. They can refuse to renew licences, subject, of course, to those judicial qualifications referred to by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. But I think it will be plain to your Lordships that the general opinion of the magistrates throughout the country is averse to doing what they believe would work an injustice. There is proof of that in the particular town where the magistrates have been most active in refusing to renew licences—I mean in Birmingham. What has happened there? The general body of the magistrates in Birmingham have turned out the licensing committee of the borough with Mr. Arthur Chamberlain at the head of it. I think nothing could be more conclusive than that the general opinion of magistrates is that it is unfair and unjust to refuse to renew licences in the case of houses which have been well conducted.

What we are really suffering from is vacillation in legislation and in administration. Parliament has taken different views at different times. In 1830 they thought they ought to encourage the sale of beer rather than the sale of spirits, and so everybody was allowed to take out beer licences. In 1869 they thought it was better to encourage the sale of beer for consumption off the premises than on the premises, and it was proposed to give privileges to off-licences. Then it was thought that this was an injustice to existing on-licences. The privileges of the beerhouses in existence before 1869 were therefore preserved. The problem we have before us is to devise a scheme of social reform with a fair measure of justice to the brewer and the publican, and I maintain that the Bill now before the House is of such a character. It is little more than a declaratory measure. It announces to the trade that Parliament intends to have a reduction in the number of licences, and calls upon the trade itself to make provision against the loss that individuals may suffer. The only question I think which arises is, "Will the reduction he sufficient to meet the necessities of the case?"

The right rev. Prelate who has just sat down told us of a number of places where he believed the money arising from the levy would be insufficient, and he included London among them. The right rev. Prelate is no doubt well acquainted with the conditions which obtain in London, but I have seen a very careful estimate made by a body for which I have great respect, and for which I think other noble Lords who are members of it cannot fail to have equal respect—I refer to the London County Council. That council has a department of trained statistical officers, and I think it is not unreasonable to take the statistics which are prepared by that body as having been collected with care, and as being probably accurate. The London County Council estimate that the produce of this levy will be £190,000, and that that will enable them to give compensation for public-houses of the character which have been expropriated by them at the rate of sixty-three per annum. They estimate the average value of those public-houses at £3,000. I think that is a very high estimate; it may be very much lower; it will certainly be considerably lower in the country, because it is based upon the public-houses which have been acquired by the London County Council in the course of their improvements in different parts of London, including thoroughfares where the property is of very great value, such as Northumberland Avenue and the new street between Holborn and the Strand. If the London County Council are able to extinguish sixty-three of these licences per annum, I think the Bill will give no small measure of protection to the people of London.

There is another point. The noble Viscount, in the Minority Report, expressed the opinion that the maximum number of public-houses should be one to 750 of the population. Well, my Lords, if this Bill passes into law, the London County Council estimate that the total number of redundant licences that they will he able to get rid of will be 1,575; but on the basis of one to 750 of the population it would only be necessary to get rid of 1,150. With regard to other towns in the country, if you take the average value of a public-house at £1,000, you will be able to reduce the number by over 1,000 in the first year, and to abolish a large number every year while the fund remains in operation. The noble Viscount who spoke last night waxed very eloquent over what he called the "rotten little beerbouses." He said they had no value now, but that if the Bill passed they would be entitled to compensation. I hope that, in my reply to the right rev. Prelate, I have shown to your Lordships that if a public-house is about to die of inanition it must be worthless and entitled to no compensation, or, at any rate, to very little compensation.

It is said that this Bill has been introduced in the interests of the brewer and of the publican. If we had had that intention we might have brought in a Bill to suspend for a time the power of the magistrates to refuse renewals, or to apply to on-licences the conditions which attach to beerhouse licences. A friend of mine, speaking to me at the beginning of the session on this subject, said, "I suppose your Government is going to bring in a Bill to reverse the decision in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield"? I replied that we thought the proper course was to provide for the extinction of licences by a fund to be furnished by the trade themselves. He said, "You will never do that, because the brewers will not let you; and if you did you would destroy one of the best planks in the Radical programme." I do not know what has been the effect on the Radical programme; but I do know that the noble Earl who sits on the Cross Benches, Lord Rosebery, was persistent in the early years of the present Government in saying that we had wasted our time and neglected to deal either with education or with the temperance question. We have dealt with one, and we are dealing with the other. I do not think, judging from the cheers I hear on the opposite side, that we are likely to get much assistance from noble Lords opposite.

This is not the first time that we have endeavoured to deal with the temperance question. In 1888 we introduced a Bill which would have provided a large sum towards the reduction of licences; in 1890 are brought in a Budget Resolution which would have provided £400,000 for the purposes of the extinction of licences. Both of these proposals were opposed by the friends of noble Lords opposite and I sincerely hope, now that we are prepared to deal with this question on the basis of a sum of no less than £1,200,000, that they will not be successral preventing our carrying these intentions into effect.

I should like to say a few words with reference to the criticisms that were passed on the Bill in the very able and, I think, temperate speech of the noble Viscount who moved the Amendment. In the first place, he took exception to the fact that a very large part of the Bill as it comes before your Lordships' House consists of Amendments introduced by His Majesty's Government in another place, and which were not, of course, in the Bill when it was originally submitted to the House of Commons. I join with the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack in regret- ting the conditions under which this Bill was got through the House of Commons; but I think the noble Viscount, who has had a long experience of that House, will be fully aware of what takes place there in the course of the passage of an important Government measure. Amendments are put down and suggestions made, and the Government embody many of them in the Bill. That is precisely what happened in the case of this Bill. The Amendments may not have been discussed but they were put on the Paper, and wherever they seemed I reasonable the Government, being most anxious to meet, as far as possible, the objections of all those interested in the question, accepted them, and we feel that the Bill has been thereby materially improved.

Then the noble Viscount complained that the Bill blocks all future reform, but I notice he was careful to say "so far as the Bill can do so." Yes, my Lords, the Bill can do very little, if anything, in that direction. What it does is to provide a compu'sory insurance fund to give an indemnity to those whose licences have to be surrendered, but it in no way prevents any measure of temperance reform that may be brought in by noble Lords opposite to-morrow or twenty years hence from being carried, and there Can be no reason if Parliament decides that the rest of the public-houses shall be expropriated and handed over to the municipal authorities—there is nothing in this Bill that will prevent that being done. The noble Viscount complained that the Bill took away the disciplinary functions of the brewster sessions. If the noble Lord means that it will take away from the magistrates the power of saying, "If you will not surrender your licence without compensation we will soon make you," I am quite willing to admit to that extent it does take away some of their disciplinary powers. But if he says it takes away from the magistrates the power to make the licence-holder improve his premises for the proper conduct of his business then I say there is not a word in the Bill to prevent the justices ordering such structural alterations as they were able to order under the Act of 1892. These powers remain hi this Bill as they did in that, and the magistrates at brewster sessions will be able to call on a licence-holder to make the necessary structural alterations, and, if he does not do so, that is one of the reasons upon which a licence may be refused. The most rev. Primate, I was glad to hear gave expression to the opinion that the most desirable alteration that could possibly be brought about now would be the better management of public-houses, more careful tenants, and the doing away with those tricks and dodges which it is sometimes necessary for the lower class of publicans to resort to in order to attract custom. We believe that is one of the many things this Bill will accomplish. It will get rid of the houses which are most difficult of supervision, and leave only those which will not find it necessary to pursue those tricks and dodges which the most rev. Primate deplores. I also welcome his suggestion that in every case justice should be meted out to the individual, and the most rev. Primate went on to say— Can we not consistently, while doing justice to the individual, do something to prevent the monopoly which the State has given to licence-holders lasting for ever? I do not think short of compensation for expropriation that it is possible for the State to ask a man to give up that which the State has, perhaps misguidedly, once given to him. But I think the most rev. Primate is looking rather far ahead when he suggests that at the end of fourteen or twenty-one years you should do something by this Bill that should put an end to all the houses in existence, or at any rate take away the prospect of the renewal of the licences. The time may come when your Lordships or the other House of Parliament may be prepared to do something in that direction, but it is rather far ahead of to-day, and it is rather a sanguine thing to expect a proposal of this kind to be made in the Bill of 1904.

The noble Earl opposite who opened the debate this afternoon spoke in feeling terms and in language in no way too strong of the serious results of the too free indulgence in intoxicating liquor, and he threw some doubt on the proposal of the Government as to whether it would do anything to diminish that evil by the diminution of licences. I do not understand the noble Lord to say that the diminution of licences would produce a diminution in the consumption of drink. That is a matter open to some argument, but if the contention is right that these houses provide a temptation which, if they did not exist, men would not fall a prey to—if there is any truth in that argument, then it is patent that the diminution of licences must result in diminution of drunkenness. The noble Earl laid great stress on the amount of capital which he said had been invested in distilleries, and in breweries, since the decision in the House of Lords in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield," and he endeavoured to argue front that that the owners of licences must have been perfectly well aware of the precarious tenure of this property.


I said the licensee so far as I knew. I do not attempt to, contradict the noble Marquess's statement; it was the investments in the brewery companies that I alluded to.


But that is only a change in property—property held by one class of people and transferred to another. I believe there has for the most part been a change from absolute owners to limited liability companies, and it might be that in some limited liability company some of the owners of public-house property saw a possible way of escape from the position brought about by the decision in "Sharp v. Wakefield." The noble Lord then took exception to a statement of my noble friend behind me, who said that a licence in its ordinary condition had an element of property, in that licences were assessed for the death duties—the noble Lord said they were assessed at their actual value. Does the noble Lord really imagine that under this Bill something more will be given than their actual value. If he will look at the Bill he will find that nothing is to be given in excess of value.


But it increases the value greatly.


How does it increase the value? If you insure against it the insurance goes out of your pocket, and it does not increase the value because you have already paid for it. I could understand that, if the allegation that the Bill was going to turn something not freehold into freehold had any foundation in fact, there might be something in the argument, but nobody will contend any such thing. At the very best these licences are liable to be withdrawn for misconduct. What would your Lordships' estates be worth under similar conditions. Would they be worth what they are now, if they were liable to be withdrawn on the ground of your misconduct. It might be that some of your Lordships' estates might be liable to pass into other hands. Then his Lordship says, "Why do you ask owners of licensed property to make this compulsory insurance when it is possible for them to do it voluntarily?" Unless I am misinformed there are some risks that can be insured against and other risks that cannot, and I am told that, in those districts where the magistrates have been active in refusing renewals, the licence has become absolutely uninsurable. No doubt the loss of a licence through misconduct on the part of the licensee is a risk that can be insured against, and is insured against every day, but there are other risks that will not be received, and I believe that where it is the practice to refuse renewals on the ground of redundancy it would be impossible to insure that risk. The Bill is a simple one and makes very few changes in existing law. So far as renewals are concerned, I think it improves, rather than otherwise, the position of the brewster sessions, the Court of First Instance. I have explained how this matter stands now. The brewster sessions consider the renewal of the licences and may express an opinion that the renewal is not desirable. On this an appeal lies to quarter sessions.


It does not express an opinion now. It decides whether a licence shall be renewed or not.


Subject to an appeal to quarter sessions, where the brewster magistrates appear, in my opinion, in the some what degraded position of respondents to the case. They have to make their case good before it is upheld. What will occur under this Bill? They will consider the licences in their district and decide on those which they think ought not to be renewed on the ground of redundancy; they will make their report and will confer with the Court of quarter sessions, and will give their reasons why, in their opinion, certain licences should not be renewed. It is absolutely necessary that those should be considered by quarter sessions because they have the administration of the fund, and whatever may be the opinion of the magistrates in brewster sessions, they cannot refuse more licences than they are able to compensate. It must be in the jurisdiction of quarter sessions to decide how far the money in their hands will go. There is no new title created by this Bill, and no greater interest than exists at present. The initiative still remains with the brewster magistrates, and I venture to say these matters will be carried out with more justice under this Bill than under the existing law.

There is another set of cases where the licence is refused on the ground of misconduct on the part of the licence-holder. There is no change in those cases whatever; those cases will be investigated by the magistrates and an application will lie at quarter sessions, just as now, sitting as a Court of criminal law. After that there are provisions in the Bill, which have been little dealt with either this evening or last night, but of great importance to temperance reform. There is the clause which deals with the question of the granting of new licences. Under that clause we hope we shall prevent for ever the growing up of that monopoly value which in many parts of the House has been deplored. There is nothing in the clause to prevent the magistrates granting licences to corporations such as that with which my noble friend Lord Grey is connected; they may be granted without pecuniary conditions provided they create no monopoly value for those who hold the licence. We are not, after all, arguing this question as if it was possible to ask a person to do without intoxicants altogether. Some of us believe that there is no such thing as a thirsty soul, but no one can suggest that a working man returning from work, or a cyclist, or a pedestrian is tempted into drunkenness because he comes upon a public-house, but rather that he goes in to assuage his thirst. This country will have the same convenience it has enjoyed in the past, to purchase beer as it has to purchase beef or boots. I do not claim for this measure that it is an heroic measure; it is certainly not the revolutionary change which the noble Viscount shadowed forth. He opposes the Bill; he would continue the justices reluctant to refuse renewals; he would leave the ante-869 beerhouses in the unsatisfactory condition in which they they are now; he thinks the £1,200,000 for the extinction of licences not worth having, but five years have passed since his Report, and he has not introduced any measure into this House, and now he asks your Lordships to reject this measure and wait for something quite different. Like the noble Earl, I also would appeal to the right rev. Bench, but on different grounds. The noble Viscount appealed to them not to be behind their Nonconformist brethren in their demand for temperance reform. I think amongst those most anxious to get rid of this Bill there are to be enumerated a great many Non conformist congregations who appeal to the right rev. Bench as representing the Church and as common-sense Englishmen knowing what Englishmen want. I think there is no man more gifted in coalition sense than the most rev. Primate Who spoke last night. We ask them now whether it is worth while to risk this Bill in the hope that some day they may get something different. This Bill is brought before this House by the Government, after having passed the other House; it takes a long step in the direction of diminishing the excessive number of licences which the law has regrettably allowed to grow up, and I believe if your Lordships pass this Bill you will be able to effect a large reduction in the number of licences without associating with it any act of injustice which would be repulsive to all noble Members of this House.


I have listened with all due respect to the speech of the noble Earl who has just sat down, and I observed at its conclusion the noble Earl made an impassioned appeal to the right rev. Bench. He was not alone in that appeal to the right rev. Bench, the noble Marquess the Lord Privy Seal also sought for the suffrage of the right rev. Prelates, and, moreover, he tried to minimise the effection the eloquent speech of the noble Viscount who introduced this Amendment. He pointed to the noble Viscount and his references to the Episcopal Bench, when he said it was thought that the Nonconformists, either rightly or wrongly, had taken a more vigorous interest in the cause of temperance than the Established Church. The noble Marquess the Lord Privy Seal pointed out that this was a dangerous temptation, and called upon the right rev. Bench to beware of the snares of the tempter, and then the Lord Privy Seal turned round with an almost minatory glance to the right rev. Bench, and warned them lest they should be provoked into voting against this measure in conformity with their Nonconformist brothers. I could not help remembering that the last time, on a former occasion in our history, when the Bishops were in accord with the Nonconformists, the Government of the day placed seven of them in the dock, with the thorough going consent of the Lord Privy Seal of that time.

The noble Earl who has just sat down has told us one of the advantages of the measure will be that it will get rid of many of those undesirable houses which it is now so difficult to get rid of. I would ask him in what clause or what section this very desirable element is to be found. I rather fancy myself that the noble Earl will find it has precisely the opposite effect. Then the noble Lord went on to state that this measure was a mere declaratory measure. [t declared to the world that Parliament intended to get rid of superfluous and redundant licences. Now I should like to say a word or two about that, but before I come to that part of the matter I would remind the noble Earl that though he discussed this Bill for some time with Ins usual lucidity and ability,the main object which we are debating at the moment, the question of a time limit, found a very small place in the remarks which he addressed to the House.


That will be left to the Committee.


I beg the noble Earl's pardon. The Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Peel, raises that question, and if the noble Earl was addressing the House in opposition to the Motion he should have addressed some of his remarks to the question of a time limit. But the noble Earl failed to prove, as some other speakers failed to prove, two things absolutely necessary to this measure. If it is, as the Government claim for it, to be a beneficial working measure, the noble Earl ought first to have proved that it is a measure of temperance reform. In the second place, I think he ought to have proved that this measure will consolidate and simplify the authority and administration of the present Licensing Acts. The noble Earl will remember that, at any rate, there was a unanimous Report on this from the Royal Commission appointed some time ago. If the Bill is to be a temperance measure, as the Prime Minister has stated it is, I think all of those who have studied the temperance subject would say that there should he three primary objects to be attained by this measure. There were many others, no doubt, which might be put forward, but I mention three, because the three objects I am about to mention are not enacted by this Bill, but are actually legislated against. The three necessary objects to be attained by this Bill, if it is to be a temperance measure, are first of all that it should appreciably reduce the number of redundant and superfluous public-houses; secondly, that it should not create vested interests in annual licences; and thirdly, that it should, as far as possible, lead to the withholding or granting of licences at the option of the locality in which those licences are going to be employed.

With regard to the reduction of licences I think many speakers, certainly in another place, and many noble Lords who have spoken here now, would claim that this Bill will reduce a considerable number of superfluous licences. I veature to traverse that statement altogether. I venture to assert that this Bill will not reduce any considerable number of superfluous licences in the future, and I shall venture to show, if your Lordships will allow me, that it will not only not appreciably reduce the number of redundant licences, but, in my opinion, will call into being licences which at the present moment are dormant. This Bill is to reduce the number of redundant licences, and I think the noble Earl himself claimed that one of the means by which it would do so was by the transference of the functions from brewster sessions to quarter sessions. I think exactly the contrary. I have the highest respect for the Court of quarter sessions, but when you are going to give the sole responsibility to quarter sessions I think it is only right that we should see how they have treated appeals to them with regard to licences in the past. In 1903 there were 220 licences refused by the brewster sessions on the ground of non-requirement. In 112 eases there was an appeal to quarter sessions, with the result that quarter sessions allowed 61, or more than half of those licences to be granted after all. Your Lordships will see that out of 220 cases in which the brewster sessions did not renew, there were only 112 appeals. But in the future the whole 220 will appeal, and as the quarter sessions allowed 61 of those appeals which were brought before them in the past, so, in the future, they will allow 120. I think it is a very fair presumption that quarter sessions will be a far more lenient tribunal with regard to the renewal of redundant licences, and I do not see how the transference to quarter sessions is going to reduce the number of public-houses.


Does the noble Lord include in the numbers he has given those licences not allowed on the ground of misconduct, as well as those not allowed on the ground of redundancy?


I have told your Lordship that those were all appeals from refusals on the ground of redundancy and I think I have proved beyond dispute that quarter sessions will be a great deal more lenient in these matters than brewster sessions have been in the past. Butunder this Bill quarter sessions is going to be supreme in this matter. As I understand, quarter sessions can put the Bill into operation at once or need not put it into operation. If I am wrong the noble Lord will correct me, but my impression is that quarter sessions need not report the fund to the Inland Revenue Office. [The Earl of ONSLOW expressed dissent.] I think the noble Earl will find that it is as I say, but I will not pursue that argument, if it is denied officially on the Government Benches, but I hope it will be explained afterwards in this debate what the various clauses to which I refer mean. It is quite clear, as I read the Bill, that it is open to the magistrates in quarter sessions to say whether this Bill shall be put into operation or not. If that contention be true, what would you do if you had a recalcitrant quarter sessions, which did not want to have a compensation fund, and did not want to do away with redundant licences? I might point out in connection with other measures passed during this and other sessions, that there have been recalcitrant bodies which have prevented Acts coming into operation. I refer to the Welsh county councils; and if there were recalcitrant quarter sessions, would the noble Lord propose to bring in another coercion Bill to deal with them.


I must object to the term "coercion Bill" with reference to this matter. There is no coercion in this question.


I apologise to the noble Marquess for using the slang of the day, and of course I will adopt the longer name with which he, as President of the Board of Education, is more familiar than I. Another way in which licences will not be reduced is quite obvious. By the limitation of the compensation fund at the disposal of quarter sessions you limit the number of houses which you can reduce. That has been said over and over again, and that is why this Bill will not, in my opinion, reduce any considerable number of superfluous houses. I come to another point on which this Bill will not reduce redundant licences. I refer to the licences that terminate voluntarily. The surrender of licences—there are many licences which terminate from year to year, and which are surrendered voluntarily by the licence-holders. In Liverpool alone,out of 394 that terminated in 1900 to 1903, 153 were surrendered voluntarily. Does the noble Earl who spoke so warmly just now conceive that in the future any of these licences will be surrendered voluntarily? By this Bill you make a property of them, and pay their holders for giving them up, and of course in the future all those licences which were surrendered voluntarily will not be surrendered, but will be kept up until there is sufficient money to compensate them.

I now come to a point which I approach with some diffidence, because it is a legal point—the licences which are dormant, and which may be called into existence for the purpose of getting the compensation your Bill is going to give. First of all, I must go into the matter of how these licences are procured from the brewster sessions. When a man wants to get a licence he goes to brewster sessions, and, if the justices please, he obtains from them what is called a. justices' certificate or justices' licence, which costs only a few shillings. He takes that certificate to the Excise Office, where it is exchanged for an Excise licence, which costs a great deal of money. A practice has grown up year by year by which men take out a justices' certificate and then go to the Excise Office and take out a licence for beer only, because, perhaps, wine and spirits are not greatly called for in that part of the country where the licence operates. But it has been held by the Courts that a man who does this has a dormant interest, and the magistrates cannot refuse him if he applies for a full licence. I can tell of one stronger case than that, of a man who had one of these justices' certificates for twenty-eight years; he was living in what was practically a private house, and at the end of that twenty-eight years it occurred to him, for some reason or other, that he might turn that house into a fully-licensed house, and the judge not only held that he had a right to have a full license, but also held that he having had that licence for twenty-eight years, came into the ante-869 category. I do not say that this will be a constant practice, but there are cases like this all over the country, and I say that your Bill will not only not reduce redundant licences at the present moment, but that it will call into existence dormant licences simply for the reason of getting the compensation which this Bill gives. It will be obvious to the noble Earl that those who have these certificates have them because there is not sufficient trade in the neighbourhood for a full licence, and therefore they will be the first redundant licences to be removed. Whatever else may be claimed for this Bill I think I have proved it is very problematical whether it will bring about that reduction of licences which the noble Earl has claimed it is going to do.

Now, another point I should like to refer to is the simplification of the existing law. That is a point which your Lordships will remember was unanimously recommended by the Royal Commission which sat upon this subject some years ago, and I venture to say, unless I misread the Bill, that instead of consolidating and simplifying the existing law, this Bill multiplies the authorities and confuses the existing administration, and, moreover, and what is more difficult to understand, it will make it more difficult in the future. It leaves many matters indeterminate and unsettled, and leaves them to be settled by the ipse dixit of some magistrate in the future. I say it does not simplify the existing law, but, on the contrary, complicates the authorities. Now I ask your Lordships what, authorities are employed under the existing law in granting new licences and renewing existing ones? Brewster sessions and the county licensing authorities. Two authorities. Now let your Lordships consider how many authorities are introduced into this Bill which is said to consolidate and simplify the existing law. There are ten There are brewster sessions, which initiates the proceedings to quarter sessions, quarter sessions itself, the committee of quarter sessions, borough sessions, which are to be brought into the Committee, an excellent improvement because it brings in local feeling, the Inland Revenue Department, the Home Office, which is to make rules, the Treasury which is also to make rules, and the county council which is to receive and administer the fund which you are going to get for new licences. There are, moreover, the appeals to the quarter session, there are separate areas which you are going to create for your own convenience, each with its separate machinery and separate service governed by these two authorities. You have imported into your Bill ten authorities, and I cannot think that that is what you would call simplification of the existing law.

Then I said it confused the administration. It mixes up the duties of the various authorities. Brewster sessions can now refuse a licence on six specific grounds; quarter sessions can now refuse a licence on the ground of non-requirement only. Quarter sessions cannot refuse upon the six grounds upon which brewster sessions can refuse; and quarter sessions cannot refuse a licence on the ground of non-requirement on their own responsibility, they must he set in motion by brewster sessions. That is not a simplification of the English law as it stands, or an easier method of carrying out the existing system of the granting or the renewal of licences. Quarter sessions has itself only the power to elect a committee, a mysterious committee of which we do not know the meaning at the present time, because we do not know whether it will sit as a Court or as an administrative body.


It will take the place of the licensing committee.


If it is to take the place of the licensing committee, may I ask the noble Lord why its rules are to be regulated by the Home Office and the Treasury? The present licensing committee have no rules laid down for them by the Home Office or Treasury. The noble Earl dismisses in an airy manner this committee, as a licensing committee, but the present licensing committee is not governed by rules of a Secretary of State—it is governed by rules laid down by quarter sessions, if I am not mistaken. Therefore I cannot see the analogy which the noble Earl has just put before us.

Then, my Lords, we come to the method of raising the compensation fund, which is the pith and centre of this Bill, and to the paying of the compensation and the dividing of the spoils—I mean the shares of the compensation among the persons interested. Here, I venture to think, we shall find this Bill which your Lordships are told is so simple and so easy becomes confusion worse confounded. Take the compensation fund itself. That is to be collected by local Excise officers; it is to be sent up to London to the Inland Revenue Department. When in London the Inland Revenue Department is to set up a separate account for each quarter sessions all over the country. They then have to send this money back from London to quarter sessions and quarter sessions has to keep a separate account of money sent down to it. If ever there was a complicated system of keeping accounts I venture to think it is imported into this Bill by the Government. But when it comes to the distribution of this fund, then the complications of this Bill become mysterious indeed. In the first place you have an agreement between the persons interested. Quarter sessions can either accept that agreement and divide the sum between these people; if it does not agree it can call in the Inland Revenue Department to arbitrate between the persons concerned. But the one thing which renders this Bill so complicated is the fact that there is no settled basis on which to pay. No one in quarter sessions can possibly decide, and unless the noble Earl can show me that there is a settled basis on which quarter sessions can pay or divide this fund I must say this is a confused and difficult matter. There is another very curious provision that I should like to call attention to. Quarter sessions, in dividing the respective shares of the compensation fund, is called on by this Bill have regard to the conduct of the licence-holder. I admit that to have regard to the conduct of a licence-holder when renewing an ordinary licence is a very good thing, but when it comes to giving him a share of the sum which this Bill declares to be legally his, I should like to know what his conduct has got to do with it, and I should like to ask further how the Court is to assess the particular share of this money which is to go to the licence-holder "having regard to his conduct." Are we to have a regular schedule or how is quarter sessions to regulate the amount by which the sum, which you yourselves enact shall be his private property, shall be reduced because he has not behaved himself in the past. It is a curious provision and I hope we shall have some explanation of it in Committee.

I am sorry to have to trouble your Lordships at such length but I think that I have shown that this Bill is not a measure of temperance reform and that it does not consolidate and simplify the existing licensing law. For my part I wish the Government would withdraw the Bill and spend their time in the recess in the pleasant holiday task of composing a Bill which would be of some permanent value. I cannot help thinking that this Bill cannot be a solution of the question of temperance if it passes in its present form. I am perfectly willing to admit that if you introduce a time limit into this Bill it will improve it and that it might be satisfactory in time to come, but I take it from what the noble Marquess stated last night that the Government are not prepared to accept any Amendment with regard to a time limit. I say that if you pass this Bill as it is you will raise great agitation in the country and you will throw the whole question of licensing and temperance into the melting-pot. My Lords, it is a curious fact that the Government through some pursuing fate or other, has cast into that vessel many of the principal subjects that have come before them. We know from the debates we have had lately on Army organisation that the whole organisation of the Army is cast into the melting-pot; we know from what has taken place in Wales and other parts of the country that the great question of education has been east into the melting-pot; the whole question of finance, the fiscal policy the country is to expect, is cast into the melting-pot, and unless they propose to bring in an effective measure the Government are going to throw the licensing laws into the melting-pot. In the past we have had many nicknames, given to the Government and Parliament of the day. We have heard of the Parliament of the Tuns; of the Who? Who? Ministry; of the Long Parliament, and of the drunken Parliament, and I venture to think that in the future this Government will be known by the nickname of the Melting-pot Government.


I believe the question of the title of the present Government will be settled, not by the noble Lord who has just sat down, but by the nation at large, and I venture to prophesy that when this Bill becomes law, as it will do before very long, the Government; through the results coming down from this measure, will he handed down to posterity as the Government which has done more for temperance than any Government that has existed for the last fifty years. It is quite unnecessary for me to talk about the evil of intemperance in this House. We are all agreed that the evil is enormous, and that a reduction of public-houses is absolutely necessary if we want to promote temperance. That opinion, I know, was not held in former years by a number of persons in high authority, but we are all agreed at the present moment, and both the Majority and Minority Reports of the Royal Commission agree that it is absolutely essential that the number of licensed houses should be largely reduced. I prefer the words of the Minority Report, because that says the number of public houses should be "immediately and largely reduced." We are all agreed, then, as to the object we have in view, and if we are agreed upon that I am sure, in this House at all events, that each Member will give to the other full credit for doing what each thinks the best for carrying out that object. I greatly approve of this measure and I approve of it for four reasons. First of all it gives a practical measure for the reduction of licences, secondly, it gives an equitable measure of dealing with existing licences, thirdly, it gives improved provisions, greatly improved provisions, for dealing with new licences, and fourthly and lastly' 33,000 beer-houses are put by it under magisterial control. To those four reasons I add a fifth, which is that for the first time, so far as I know, in the history of licensing legislation this Bill attempts to draw a statutory distinction between hotels and simple liquor shops. I have always wondered the distinction was not drawn before, but in this Bill it is drawn between hotels, that is, houses providing for the public food and board and lodging and where drink is only an accessary, and those houses open for the sale of drink and nothing more. I think that is a great advantage, I hope the distinction will always be maintained, and that it will be put to a practical use at some future time.

After the exposition of the law which we have had from the noble Earl on the Woolsack it would be almost impertinent for me to add anything, because, as I understand, the law, as the noble Earl has laid it down on the question of renewals, is that there is an absolute judicial discretion for renewals of licences in the licensing magistrates—difference, and that the magistrates have judicial not capricious—that makes all the as much an unfettered discretion to determine whether they will grant a licence to a man who has held it before as they have to determine whether they will grant a new licence. To adopt the Lord Chancellor's own words it is not a renewal of a licence, it is the granting of another licence for another year. I believe that properly describes what is falsely called the renewal of a licence. If that is the law, and that is the power the magistrates have had, how is it they have not exercised that power in the way some noble Lords opposite wish they had done. It seems to me the answer is as clear as possible; they have very rarely refused a renewal. The Report of the Royal Commission on this point says— It will be seen by the Returns before referred to that the justices very rarely refused the renewal of a licence on the sole ground that it was not required. And then the Report goes on to say— If compensation could be granted, their action would probably be different. I believe, my Lords, the reason why the justices have not done away with a great many licences is because of the hardships they would inflict. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, in giving judgment in that well-known case, said— I am very far indeed from saying that, assuming the complete discretion that I have indicated to exist, it would be likely that the persons exercising it would consider an original application in the same way as one which was applied for by the person who had already been licensed for one year. Of course, the justices would remember that a year before a licence had been granted, and presumably (unless some change during the year was proved) they start with the fact that the topics to which I referred have already been considered, and one would not expect that those topics would be likely to be re-opened, unless, as I say, some change has been proved. This would be likely to limit the inquiry to the conduct of the house and the character of the licensee, and perhaps the condition of the house, but as a fact and not as a matter of law at all. These topics would be likely to be re-opened if the discretion of the magistrates is unfettered. Let me take another case. Suppose the justices aye willing in a particular town or district to take away, say, ten licences out of forty, and in their opinion ten licences ought to he done away with. The question arises how are they to do it. These houses, which I am speaking of, we will suppose are all perfectly well conducted by the licensees, and the difficulty of the magistrates is this—they have to say to A, B, and C, "We are not going to disturb your licences because you have conducted your houses very well," but they say to X, Y, and Z, "Although you have conducted your houses well, we are bound to diminish the licences by three and we will strike you out through no fault of your own." How are they to decide fairly who are to be struck off and who are to be kept on. That is an intolerable position for the justices to occupy, and I have never heard anyone give an answer to that plain argument as to why you are going to allow the licences of A, B, and C to remain while you take away their licences from X, Y, and Z for the benefit of the public, and strike them off without compensation. That fact is rather referred to in the Majority Report which says— Besides the feeling just referred to there s the difficulty which arises from determining which house is to be selected for suppression. That is my A B C argument over again. As a matter of fact we are at a deadlock. The magistrates have the power, but they refuse to exercise it because they think they would be doing an injustice, and they are guided quite rightly by the old maxim that you are not to do evil that good may come. I believe this Bill to be an honest attempt to get rid of that deadlock which we are in at the present moment, and that it is an attempt to enable the justices to exercise all the duties placed upon them and to discharge their functions without injury to anyone.

And now in regard to the machinery. To begin with, several objections have been made, especially by the noble Viscount who brought this matter before us. I am not going into what I may be allowed to call the special pleadings put forward by the noble Lord who has just sat down. If they were brought forward for the purpose of improving the Act where he thinks it unworkable, then they are matters which ought to be dealt with in Committee and not now. If the noble Lord has Amendments to propose which he thinks would mend the Bill in its working let us consider them by all means in order to see if the Bill can be improved. My point is,that they are matters more of detail and matters of special pleading, and I shall dismiss them without giving such an answer as the noble Lord might have expected from me. Now I come to a serious point raised by the noble Viscount, and that is the objections he raised to the tribunal. He says that you have taken away the motive power of the justices, and he has put, this in various ways; he also says that this Bill robs the brewster sessions of their disciplinary power; anyone who carefully reads this Bill will find that it does nothing of the kind. I am very strongly in favour of brewster sessions. I was rather surprised to hear the noble Viscount press this as much as he did, because it is owing to the action of brewster sessions that you have got as many licences as you have. You would not have had this superabundant number of licences but for the action of brewster sessions from year to year. Therefore, I was rather surprised to hear the noble Viscount stand up so very strongly for the brewster sessions. I think brewster sessions is a most admirable institution, and I should be sorry to see them interfered with in any way, but to say that you destroy their disciplinary power is inaccurate, because you do nothing of the kind. The magistrates have just as much power under this Bill to make conditions in regard to back-yards and doors, and everything of that kind, and their disciplinary power remains exactly as it was. But when you come to deal with the redundant licences of persons who have conducted their houses well, then this change is made: the justices are to consider in brewster sessions which houses, in their opinion, ought to be closed, and they make a list of those houses. They have to send that report on to the quarter sessions; the quarter sessions have no initial power, and that power still remains vested in the brewster sessions, where I think we all want it to remain. The brewster sessions report to the quarter sessions, and after considering their report, quarter sessions may act and affirm the recommendations of the brewster sessions on payment of compensation. That is just all that is wanted. Now what is the difference? Under the present law the initial action lies with the local bench; but under this Bill the initial action will lie with the local bench where it was before. You have not destroyed their jurisdiction in any form or shape. What you are going to do is that instead of saying to the local bench: "You must decide this question for yourselves," you leave the applicants, who have been refused, power to go to the quarter sessions. You say that the local bench must send their report to quarter sessions, where anybody who is interested may be heard against the renewal, even persons who do not wish it to be renewed, simply because they do not want public-houses at all. I say that that is a cheaper and easier form of procedure than you have had before.

As to the objection to quarter sessions which was raised by the noble Lord who spoke last, who said that they had no knowledge, and that they could not deal with this compensation fund, and that they would have to go to the Inland Revenue, I may say that, in my opinion, quarter sessions are about the most able body of men you could get to deal with the compensation fund, and to distribute it in different parts of their area. They will act without the slightest feeling one way or the other, because they are men accustomed to acting judicially, and I do not think that any fault would be found with their decision.

Another objection is taken in regard to this matter of compensation. I think we all agree that there must be compensation of some kind. I think the noble Viscount himself said so, and it was stated in the Minority Report that there should be compensation. They all took the same view upon that point, but they had a different point of view in this way. There are certain people who say that there ought to be compensation as a matter of justice, although they do not say as a matter of right. Another speaker has said that the licence-holders ought to have it as a matter of expediency, or equity, or grace. But all are agreed that they ought to have it, and now the question comes, what are we to do? I will deal first with the question that the licence-holders should have it as a matter of justice; the terms of the valuation are put into the Bill, and I have not heard any complaints to the effect that they are too large. Complaint has been made as to the mode of compensation, but I think it is a very simple matter. You take the value of the house without a licence, and the value of the house with a licence, and then you find out what it is that you are to charge for. What do you do in regard to your rates and taxes, and your death duties? You charge them on precisely the same principle, and if a man is to be charged in regard to rates, taxes, and death duties upon this principle,is not that a very fair basis on which to calculate the question of compensation? When you desire to value this property for the purposes I have mentioned, is it fair to say you will take your valuation at such a rate for these particular purposes, and when you apply your principle for public-house purposes to take it at another price? Let us have justice all round, and if you think this valuation is wrong, I hope you will induce His Majesty's Government to adopt another principle in regard to the death duties. I do not think they are likely to do that, and therefore we must take the principle in this Bill as we find it.

In a matter of this kind a state of things has grown gradually for which no particular persons are specially to blame, but where there has been expediency in regard to renewal as there was in the case of the leases which the noble Lord on the Woolsack has cited. I say there is a particular tenure which we have in some parts of the North of England, where a man has a lease not for a year or two years but for a certain term, and although there is nothing said about renewal, it is renewed because it is the custom of the country, and the man who has the lease never thinks of applying for a renewal except formally, and it is always granted on payment of a nominal fee. But the licensee has the expediency and he ought to be treated accordingly. This is being done for a public purpose and when you take away property or expectation compulsorily for a public purpose, you ought to compensate the owner fairly, and you ought to be generous as well as just. Let me remind your Lordships of what took place some years ago at the time of the abolition of purchase of commissions in the Army. That was done for a public purpose, and full compensation was given under the Act. There were regulation allowances as your Lordships are aware, which I suppose, whether they were strictly legal or not, were considered as legal. They were over-regulation prices which were absolutely illegal, but by the custom of certain regiments they had always been paid, and when they came to compensate the owners of those commissions the Act of Parliament said that where the custom of the regiment had been that over-regulation prices had been paid as a matter of custom the officers should be compensated on the full price of the over-regulation price. Therefore I say that when you come to take away a right or expectation or anything else which is property you ought to be generous as well as just. What does the Majority Report say?— Without attempting to weigh too nicely the whole of these arguments, we desire to express—in the case of suppression of licensed houses under the proposed scheme—our general adhesion to the principle of compensation equivalent to the fair intrinsic selling value of the licence and goodwill, apart from the extreme inflation of prices caused, in some cases, by excessive competition. And this we do on the general ground of justice and expediency, and we desire to lay especial emphasis on the following considerations:— (a.) To suppress a proportion of the licences without compensation, or for a fractional compensation, is to inflict very material loss on one set of licensees, arbitrarily selected, and to benefit the remainder by the elimination of their rivals. It is difficult to believe that any such measure would receive the assent of Parliament, or, if it did, that a licensing authority could be found willingly to undertake the invidious duty of selection. Let me now come to the other school that has been talked of, because we have had some rather wonderful plans proposed about compensation, and one of the plans, as I understand it, which has been proposed is this: that you are to allow a licensee as a matter of compensation to have a continued licence for a certain number of years. If it is unjust to take away his licence now, is it not equally unjust to take it away, say, at the end of seven years. It is said that the licensee would be able to compensate himself in that time, if you give him ample notice. Suppose you give him notice that at the end of that period his licence will cease; what is the use of giving the man a notice of that kind? How is he to compensate himself? Is he to sell more liquor and adopt some other way of inducing customers to come to his house? I do not understand what is meant by giving a man notice that his licence will be taken away and in the meantime he is to compensate himself. It is entirely past my comprehension, and perhaps some noble Lords, who are wiser than I will explain it.

Now I come to the Amendment of the noble Viscount. I think it would be much better to propose that the Bill be read a second time this day three months, because that is a much simpler way of dealing with the matter, and it would have taken in all the arguments. It is the good old- fashioned way of dealing with this matter, and I like tile old-fashioned way. Sopposing we refused to pass the noble Viscount's Amendment, we should be saddled with the Bill, and that Amendment would be practically disposed of for ever. As to this Amendment, the noble Viscount speaks of a perpetual interest in a terminable licence. He very wisely did not use the word "freehold," but that is the word which Is used outside. Upon this point I would ask two or three questions. Is a man, or a licensee who is in the position to be dispossessed of his licence for his own misconduct like a person who has got a freehold? I do not think that noble Lords would like to hold their own properties on such terms. If the licensee is liable to be dispossessed at any moment, how can he be said to have a freehold? I do not think your Lordships would like to be dispossessed of your lands on receipt of some miserable solatium. I am old enough to remember the debates upon the old Land Acts when the Irish tenants were very much engaged in troubling themselves as to how they could best get possession of their landlords' property, and this matter was seriously brought forward by some of them. They said that the landlords of Ireland had had the land for a long time, and it never was theirs really; but they said, "We will allow them to keep it for ten or fifteen years and then we will have it at a prairie value." That does not seem to me to be an argument which your Lordships would like to pursue to its bitter end at all events. In the Minority Report a term of seven years is suggested, but that would be just as much an infringement of the principle as if it was a permanent interest in terminable licences. Is it not wrong altogether to assume that at the end of the seven years a great number of licences will have been destroyed? There are a great many more licences that you would like still to destroy but you can only do it through the brewster sessions in the first instance. Do you think that the brewster sessions at the end of seven years would be any more likely to commit that wrong and that evil by forfeiting a man's licence without compensation than they are now? You come back to precisely the same state of things, viz., that the justices would feel just as reluctant to take away a man's licence, and you would come to the same deadlock in which we are to-day.

Our hope is, in spite of all that noble Lords have held out on the other side, that there will be a large compensation fund, and that it will be employed to dispose of an enormous number of licences. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, quoted statistics from the London County Council, and they showed to your Lordships that there would not be a very large sum, and that they would not be able very largely to reduce the number of licences in the area of London. Yes, but they did not make the case half strong enough. They drew up their statistics according to the way in which they have had to deal with property when they have had to purchase public-houses for the purposes of public improvements. I think I have had as much experience in this matter as most people, because many years ago we caused property to be purchased for public improvements when I passed in 1875 the Acts for clearing away the rookeries of London. When we came to purchase a public-house, what happened? They brought in a valuer, and they brought in their books and showed their profits, consequently, this raised the amount which the local authorities had to pay—and it did come to an enormou sums. If the London County Council have taken that as the basis of the figures which have been given by Lord Onslow, I do not wonder that the number of public-houses they would be able to shut up is not very great. But in this Bill they do nothing of the kind. No books showing profits would be allowed to be produced. They could not call in people to say that the house was worth so much and that they were making £1,000 a year profit, because it would not be listened to, and it could not be brought forward under this Bill. The valuation which is to be considered is simply the difference between the value of a house with a licence and the value of a house without a licence. Therefore if the London County Council were to revise the estimate which they have given to the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, they would find that they would be able to shut up double the number of houses.

At this period of the evening I am sure I do not want to detain your Lordships, but I have a great objection to this time limit, and I do not think it would work. I may point out that. I happen to be the chairman of an old society known as, "The Society of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions." who sit in London and meet two or three times a year. I brought this question of the Bill before them. In the first instance they approved the principle of the whole Bill absolutely. Remember these are men who are accustomed to deal with questions of licensing in quarter sessions, and they are men of business with no political sympathy one way or the other, but who simply do their public duty honestly and straightforwardly, and they are most experienced men. When the question of the time limit was mooted I summoned another meeting of this society after the question had been argued in the House of Commons and after a division had been taken upon it. I may say that there was only one man at that meeting who spoke in favour of the time limit, and he was a gentleman who had made a speech to that effect in the House of Commons the night before. At this meeting no one answered him and he would not go to a division, and the resolution that absolute resistance should be offered against the insertion of a time limit was carried nemine contradicente. Remember these were men of wide experience and broad views, who were just as much in favour of temperance as any of your Lordships, whether belonging to the Church of England or the Nonconformists.

I must say one word in regard to a matter suggested from the other side of the House, namely, that there could be no difference of opinion between Churchmen and Nonconformists in reference to the question of temperance. As a Churchman I have advocated every temperance movement that I could. In sitting as the chairman of quarter sessions, I do not think I have ever granted a licence where the local magistrates had refused it, and I am certain in my own mind that if this Bill is allowed to pass through your Lordships' House as it is—a few Amendments may be necessary—the practical result will be a large diminution in the number of public-houses from one end of the country to the other, and I also believe there will be a great advance in the cause of temperance. I thank your Lordships for the patience you have shown me.


I think the machinery of this Bill seems rather cumbrous, and when we come to examine it I believe we shall find in the noble Marquess's speech a better reason for the introduction of this Bill than those which have been given to the House. The noble Marquess said the trade in drink is good and that this Bill is necessary as a precaution to prevent the suppression of licences. If that is the real purpose and meaning of this Bill, how idle it is by doubtful figures to try and prove that the existing diminution of licences will be increased. A great deal is made of the case of the ante-1869 beerhouses, and it is said that these houses will for the first time be dealt with and diminished by this Bill. But, my Lords, the diminution of these beerhouses has been going on without any help from this Bill. I believe it is not generally known that beerhouses have diminished from 49,000 in 1869 to, I believe, 27,000 at the present time. I wish I could feel certain that that diminution would go on under the present Bill at an equally fast rate. The noble Marquess said yesterday that no temperance reformer in his wildest moments ever proposed to tamper with the title of the ante-1869 beerhouses, and that, I have no doubt, is likely to be proved. When Sir Henry Selwyn-Ibbetson dealt with this question he proposed to put all on-licences under the jurisdiction of the magistrates, but favoured the off-licences, and they were left in an advantageous position. But Mr. Ritchie, in his Bill of 1888–82, put the off-licences under the jurisdiction of the magistrates, and they were in an equally favoured position and had an equal Parliamentary title. Nevertheless they were put under the ordinary jurisdiction of the magistrates without any time limit or title to compensation, and the consequence of that was that they were diminished wholesale. No less than 436 of these licences disappeared in the first four years after that Act, and the consequence was that in a place called Darwen whtre thirty-three out of seventy beerhouses had been done away with by the magistrates, there was a celebrated case which brought out, on appeal, the remarkable declaration of Mr. Justice Field, who stated that the Legislature recognised no vested interest at all in any holder of a licence. Then it was that Mr. Nash, the legal adviser of the trade, made that remarkable statement which the right rev. Bishop has quoted just now, in which he stated that what had long been a trade secret was now known to the public, namely, that any licence whatever could be withdrawn at the will of the magistrates. And yet the noble Marquess says that after that statement was published to the trade, nine years before the "Sharp v. Wakefield" case, that nobody suspected the existence of this power before the "Sharp v. Wakefield" case After the "Sharp v. Wakefield" case there came other judgments and a growing declaration of legal opinion upon the subject, and more and more, in different parts of the country, magistrates acted on the advice which they had received. Then came Lord Peel's Commission, and that Commission made an exhaustive inquiry into the state of things, and they censured the magistrates for not acting upon the legal powers which they possessed. No doubt very often they did not act on account of the ignorance, which Lord Belper told us they were in, but after Lord Peel's Commission it was impossible to suppose that there was any longer any doubt upon the matter, and the decision of Lord Peel's Commission was endorsed and sanctioned by His Majesty's Government in the legislation of 1902.

After Lord Peel's Commission had instructed magistrates to act upon their powers, and after the Government had approved apparently of the recommendations of that Commission, it was certainly a surprise that there should be an abrupt turn on the part of the Government. That abrupt turn was shown by Mr. Balfour's reception of a trade deputation. A great deal has been said about the reception of that deputation, but I only want to say this particular thing about it, that when we are considering the broad equities of which Mr. Balfour spoke, it seems to me most extraordinary and most contrary to any equity, either broad or otherwise, that he should have denounced the action of the magistrates, apparently solely on the statements that were furnished to him by the trade. There is no evidence whatever that either the Prime Minister or the noble Earls who have spoken from the opposite Bench took any pains to discover the real facts in regard to the licences that were suppressed by certain benches of magistrates. At the time when the Prime Minister made that remarkable declaration these decisions were still before quarter sessions, and they were afterwards largely confirmed by quarter sessions. Have any members of the Government inquired what quarter sessions thought of the statement which was then made? I very much doubt it. But at all events, if these statements were just, and if Mr. Balfour was right in denouncing the injustice done by the magistrates, it seems to me that a great injustice was done to those publicans who did not have their licences renewed in the year 1903. Why should the publican be protected from the arbitrary action of the bench in 1905, and not be protected and compensated in 1903? It seems to me that if there is an adequate ground for this Act it ought to be retrospective. I do not believe that any injustice was done, because the licences which were lost in 1903 were fully compensated.

There is another inquiry which ought to have been made before any legislation of this kind was proposed, and I believe there has been no inquiry at all into the matter. The matter I allude to is to what extent were the licences, which have been lost, already insured? We have had a statement made and quoted again and again that it is no longer possible to insure licences, but I have not seen any evidence to support that statement. We have, on the contrary, evidence in figures showing the extent to which one large company has insured licences all over the country. That is not the only kind of insurance, because there are different methods of insurance in the North-East of England, where a large body of brewers do not insure in that manner, but simply pool their losses. They agree that they shall jointly pay for any licence that may not be renewed. It has been stated that in some congested districts it would be excessively difficult to insure a licence, but I do not believe that that difficulty can exist in the case of brewers or brewery companies owning a large number of licences, because they can insure them en bloc. I admit that this argument may apply to an isolated free house, and it may possibly apply to some publicans who are tenants of a brewery, for they may find it difficult to insure their interest in the house. I think if this Bill had been limited to insuring the interest of free houses and of tenants' licences, which the holders might otherwise have found a difficulty in insuring there would not have been much to say against this Bill. It appears to me that all the arguments that have been used in favour of this Bill have supposed that these free houses were those to which it applied mainly, whereas we have been told over and over again that the number of free houses in the country only amounts to some 10 or, at the most. 20 per cent. of the whole.

We have been told mat reduction will go on under this Bill, and a great deal of argument has been used by the noble Lord on the Woolsack and others as to the questionable benefit of reduction in licences. I believe that there may be some doubt as to the actual benefit of such a reduction, but I think there can be no doubt as to the value of non-renewal as a disciplinary power in the hands of the bench. That, I think, is brought out very clearly by the Liverpool case, about which Lord Spencer quoted some figures, but I do not, think he brought out the particular case to which I will allude. The decrease in the criminial statistics of Liverpool were so very remarkable that deputations were sent from Glasgow and other towns to inquire into the manner in which Liverpool had been able to produce such an extraordinary effect upon its police statistics, and what they reported was that it was this power of non-renewal which had made the lower class of publicans compete in order not to be the lowest on the list, and it was this that had caused so much improvement in the police conditions of Liverpool. We have been told that nothing very material will be altered in the procedure of the magistrates—I mean the licensing procedure—under this Bill. The licensing procedure is already one of very great complication, and it was only after a very great deal of trouble, after a very great number of decisions in the High Court, and a number of experiments in the matter, that brewster sessions throughout the country were beginning to understand what their powers were and how they could act most advantageously. Now under this Bill all that is being Mixed up again, partly no doubt because the matter has not been fully discussed in the other House, but not solely on that ground. I think it is impossible, with the best will in the world, to understand many questions that will arise under this Bill. I think it has not been sufficiently shown to us whether the committee of quarter sessions will, under this Bill, be Sitting as a Court or only as an administrative body. Those of us who have taken part in licensing business know that a great deal depends upon that question. Of course the brewster sessions are an administrative body and the quarter sessions to which appeal goes sit as a Court. Now I do not understand that it has anywhere been distinctly stated which of these the committee of quarter sessions will be. Apparently it is intended that they should be a Court, but I cannot understand how, if they are to be a Court, the magistrates will be able to communicate with them in order to express their views. That is one of the complications which seem to me to arise out of the present procedure. By the legislation of 1902, it was made plain and declared that the magistrates were in all cases to have their expenses paid by the country. I am not quite certain under this Bill who will pay those expenses when they are incurred or whether they will be paid at all. That is one of the points which strikes me as excessively doubtful. I rather agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Cross, that it would not have been undesirable to move that this Bill be read this day three months. But at the same time I believe that if we are able to get a time limit inserted in the Bill, at all events we shall be able to look forward to a time when it will no longer be possible to interfere with any improvements in the transaction of our licensing business.


The House is so thin at the present moment that I feel that I owe an apology for detaining your Lordships even for a few minutes. I wish only to say a few words, in which I desire to give some of the reasons which have induced me earnestly to support the most rev. Primate in his Motion for a time limit. I have listened with the keenest attention to the arguments which have been put forward on both sides of the House, both yesterday and to-night, and if I am forced into the position of dissenting from this Bill, it is certainly not from any feelings of political rancour. I am one of those who consider that in many directions, both of home and Imperial action, we owe a great debt of gratitude to His Majesty's Government; but in a matter affecting such vast interests as are here involved it is impossible to look upon this Bill in any other way except upon its own merits, and upon those merits I feel constrained to forbode results greatly to be deplored if this Bill passes into law without a time limit. The whole aspect and colour of compensation seems to me to be affected by that matter. Compensation by a time limit seems to me to be the most reasonable of things. I will not debate the word "equitable," for I would rather use the word "considerate." It seems to me that the time limit is a considerate form of long notice which provides that at the close of such and such a period the State desires to reaffirm and reinforce a principle which has always bean present from the first, since the trade in strong drink came at all to the front in English life as a matter to be considered by the law. It has surely been looked upon as a thing exceptional in its conditions and requirements, and a thing of exceptional danger, as touching the moral life of the nation at vulnerable points. I take it that the phrase in the Licensing Bill of 1828, which has so often been referred to, making the tenure of a licence to run "for one year and no longer," is a significant phrase. Those words are emphatic terms, which—and I say this with profound deference to the remarks made by the noble Lord upon the Woolsack—are not to the plain man quite the same thing as the conditions of an annual lease under the ordinary conditions of landlord and tenant. This phrase in the Licensing Bill of 1828 has a history behind it, and it signifies a recognition that there shall be particular reserves and particular safeguards in regard to a matter which touches the moral public life of England at tremendously vulnerable points. If I have read aright the story of legislation of generation after generation, in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the principle which has been reaffirmed is that in the traffic in strong drink you have had to deal with a matter which demands peculiar safeguards. Therefore, I think that nothing should be clone now which will make it more difficult in the future for the State to affirm and enforce its rights to exercise an abnormally severe control over the traffic in strong drink. It seems to me that as far as an Act of Parliament can make it perpetual, the enactment of perpetual monetary obligations in regard of the reduction of the number of licensed houses against which no special fault is alleged, is a thing to be deplored. If I may repeat my phrase, let the considerate long notice be given, and my cordial approval to such an act of practical equity is certainly at hand. But to let it be made a perpetuity would, I venture to think, be to take a step which is most perilous, and one which is altogether out of line with the past in regard to the view the State has taken of this trade and its risks.

I would further say that this Bill gives me great misgivings, however reluctant misgivings, because of the new position in which it seems to put the action of the brewster sessions. We are told that considerable powers are still left to brewster sessions. The disciplinary powers referred to just now are of course considerable, and I trust they will be used. The recent action of many benches of magistrates has not, I think, been characterised by intemperance or violence. I believe there is very little risk of that. But I think there has been a growing consciousness of public duty in this matter, not only in regard to the trade but also in regard of the public, and the public in some places needs to be protected against itself. But surely, my Lords, a great and serious difference is made when brewster sessions are allowed only to send recommendations with regard to the non-renewal of licences other than those refused on grounds of misconduct. I am told by those who have had experience and who are fair and impartial witnesses, that it is a widely different thing for quarter sessions to reverse a decision of the brewster sessions, and to merely pass by a recommendation with a view to the suppression of such and such a house. Another point which I think has been mentioned is that in many cases, as a matter of fact, no appeal whatever is entered against the decision of brewster sessions. Case upon case hitherto has been practically settled without reference to quarter sessions at all. Under the new legislation every case which has to do with a house not affected by charges of misconduct or mismanagement must. without exception, go before quarter sessions, and I venture to say from such experience as I have had of intercourse with local magistrates and with men of the greatest experience in the county with which I have most to do, that this mere leave to make a recommendation to quarter sessions is looked upon as a grave and serious restriction of the powers of the local magistrates.

May I make a further remark upon that matter? It has been suggested in the course of this debate that often in the past temperance advocates have spoken with little confidence of the conduct of the local magistrates. It may be that it is so, but I. venture to think that a new state of things has now arisen, and a state of things which should be welcomed and fostered and not discouraged. I think that after a considerable period of apathy in regard to national intemperance we are now coming to a better state of public feeling, and public opinion is advancing upon this question. Public opinion for temperance is making itself sensibly felt in our large centres of population, and it is reflected, and in a large measure expressed, by the attitude of local magistrates in regard to temperance questions. I see no signs in the great communities with which I have in some measure now to deal of any violent, revolutionary, intemperate, or inequitable action on the part of the magistrates, but I do see what is infinitely to be rejoiced in, and that is a recognition of a growth in the public consciousness that there is a great public trust confided to brewster sessions, that the eyes of a large and increasing section of the public are now open, and that the local authorities will do what they can in the matter of reducing the present enormous temptations to the public to indulge to excess in strong drink.

May it never be forgotten that this is an evil of abnormal proportion. I remember thirty years ago at a meeting of temperance workers in Cambridge some words used by the late Professor Francis Newman. He said that in regard to drink we had to deal with a convulsive evil which would require a convulsive remedy. I do not ask for a convulsive remedy in regard to this Bill, but I do not desire by any possibility to intensify the evil. It is a convulsive evil and it requires a remedy to be applied as much as possible with all possible regard to the interests which in any degree whatever are connected with the maintenance of that evil. On the other hand let me not be thought to say one word either intemperate or unfair about the great brewing industry. There are brewers who are among the examples of the world in every private and public virtue. Many brewers in the past have been among the greatest philanthropists that have ever lived. I have the privilege of having among my friends men connected with that industry, and I know one whose whole heart is stirred to its depths with the desire to do what he can to give a better direction to the trade, and I know that many publicans are men good, true, and estimable. But then we must not forget that we have to deal with a prodigious commercial interest whose business it is not to do good, but to make profits, and especially is that the case when the interest takes the form of a limited liability ompany, which has to consider how to keep up dividends for hungry investors. These great companies and firms are the owners of the vast majority of the public-houses in this country, and last night the noble Lord, Earl Grey, reminded us of some of the conditions and gave us some facts and results in regard to trust public-houses in which he is interested. And in passing he spoke of the tied-house system, and asked, with regard to the manager of a tied house, what is his business? His business is to sell as much strong drink as he can. I think the actual phrase was that it is his duty to do this and therefore we cannot complain of it. I do not think the word duty has ever been used in that connection before. This is a specimen of the conditions under which this enormously powerful interest has to do its work, and from a commercial point of view it cannot help working in this way. All I have to say is that we are dealing not with estimable individuals, but with a vast trading interest, and it is the business of the State in this case to do all it can to protect and to raise the morals of the people.

I am forced, my Lords, to pay special attention to this question by my position and by my duty. I come from a county and diocese which, alas, has a bad record from an intemperance point of view. There is a map of England issued which is marked so as to show the number of arrests for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. It is marked in various colours, and some parts of it are coloured with a beautiful grey, while some are almost midnight black, and, alas, there is a great thunder cloud at the top of the map which represents the counties of Durham and Northumberland. I know it is easy to argue a matter of this sort, a question of morals in the abstract amidst the quiet of the library, but if we go out into the scenes where the drink industry in the public-houses is doing its work, we find it is a very different, thing. I was not very long ago walking through one of our great towns with one of those admirable and absolutely self-devoted clergymen whom it is my privilege to serve. We were not content with perambulating the streets, but we saw what the interiors of these places were like. I was directed to a one-roomed tenement, where we found a highly-skilled workman slowly recovering from his drunkenness. The man was perfectly willing to listen to us, as we gave him our hearty sympathy and. what would be called a "straight talk," and the hand of friendship and help. But what was the condition of things about him? The street, the district, he lived in was a network of temptation. I repudiate altogether the idea that all the guilt and blame is to be con-centrated upon the drunkard. I know he is responsible and he is guilty, but God knows that the temptations under which the men who throng these one-roomed and two-roomed tenements live often amount to almost compulsion into this particular form of sin. Not far from this place was a comparatively small public-house, the "Ord Arms" which suddenly sprung to what was estimated at about twenty times its previous value, and sold for £28,000. And why? Because it was expected that a new development of the vast Elswick Works would take place. It was expected that a new gateway from these works would be opened opposite this public-house, and not only would the workmen be tempted to drink at the end of the day but they would be tempted to take a nip at five o'clock in the morning when going to their work. It is because I fear that this Bill will in the future, as far as an Act can do it, put a new character upon the tenure of licences and give them a new legitimacy of claim in the eye of the law, and again, because it will remove a most useful and now growing agency—that of the awakening conscience of the local licensing justices—from the position of authority it has hitherto held—it is for these reasons that I earnestly hope that, if this Bill passes into law, it will be with a time limit which will give a right character to the compensation scheme.


There is a large amount of feeling throughout the country on this matter, and I hope this debate will show that those of us who strongly object to this Bill in its present form desire to see the Amendment of the noble Viscount Lord Peel carried. I hope it will go to the country that we do not desire to treat this question with any feeling of unfairness to those who may be affected by the passing of the Bill. For fear that it may be thought that there is no answer to some of the arguments which have been used I venture to trouble your Lordships for a few minutes. First of all it seems to me that this Bill can hardly be called a temperance measure. It is as is announced on the back of the Bill, a Licensing Bill. It is a Bill to secure cosider- able perpetuity of tenure to licences which are at present held for twelve months and no longer. While we desire to treat a large industry fairly, we cannot, on the other hand, see that this is a Bill which will make for temperance. Some remarkable speeches have been delivered by the right rev. Prelates who have addressed us, and while we cannot accuse them of having been impetuous in regard to temperance reform or in advocating some of the measures upon which we, who do not object to call ourselves fanatics, feel so strongly, we are very glad that the whole of the Bishops, as far as they have spoken, have called upon His Majesty's Government to consider carefully whether there may not be some strong Amendment of this Bill made on the lines indicated by the most rev. Primate.

Reference has been made only once or twice in this House, but it has been referred to as a strong argument in the country in favour of the perpetuity of licences, that this property pays death duties on the full value. I fully admit that there are two sides to many of the points raised in this Bill, but some of us think that we understand figures. We may make mistakes, but we are able to face an argument of that kind, and I think your Lordships will agree that what I am going to state is fair and reasonable. Death duty is paid because that was the value which competent valuers put upon it as part of the testator's property at the time or near the time of his death. I believe I am correct in saying that there is an appeal if the value of licensed property is put too high. Supposing a man had a property of £200,000, and held three or four licensed houses worth £50,000. That is the market value at the present time. He would pay a certain proportion, say 10 per cent., upon that value, just as he would, upon South African or other gold mines. It is not a question of what these licensed houses or these shares would be worth in a short time, but of what they are worth at the present time. It seems to me that the new buyer of licensed property does not get any better title than the rest of the holders of licensed property, and he would probably be advised that it was not a property which children should hold or which he as an executor ought to hold for them. I fail to see if he realises that property and has paid 10 per cent. death duty upon it, that there is any hardship in paving the duty, but if the executors retain it they must take the chance of holding that risky property.

Another argument which has been used is that we must not interfere for public purposes with certain interests which have grown up. We claim to be part of an Empire, and therefore we are able to look over the Empire and to see what are the conditions under which licensed property is held in other parts. Those who have studied this question know that very interesting experiments have been tried. I was talking only this afternoon to a gentleman who holds an office under the Government of Canada where they have lately closed several licensed houses, the magistrates having come to the conclusion that there were too many. Out of seventy-five licensed houses, they have closed ten within the last twelve months, and they propose to close ten or fifteen more. The houses that remain (because they get so much more business) make, not by law but by practice, some compensation to those which are closed. Then if you go across the border into the United States, those who study temperance legislation can study it to their heart's content. They will there see Bonne interesting experiments, some successful and others not, but the majority decidedly more successful than the experiments we have tried in this country. I venture to think that these are considerations which ought to have some weight. Then there is another point which seems to me to bear upon the question. Last year we had a Scotch Licensing Bill. I know more about the details of Scotch licensing legislation than about English, though I know something of the latter, having sat as a licensing magistrate. In Scotland we have somehow hitherto arrived at a more satisfactory position with reference to the claims of licence-holders, publicans, brewers, or distillers. They do not in Scotland make the same claim as they do in England, and many people hold the view that England has done nothing to cause her licensing legislation to be so far behind what has become the law across the border.

Then, my Lords, there is another proposal in the Bill which I think is not for the better. Under Clause 1, we find that the public will be no longer able, as they are at present, to go in person and give evidence against the renewal of licences. Anybody who has tried to collect evidence against a licensed house knows how difficult it is, even at present, to obtain satisfaciton. I appeal to the right rev. Prelates opposite who know the difficulty their clergy have in this work. They know something of the question through their clergy, and those who come to them for advice. It is very difficult to get even the present magistrates to listen to you, but if you have a certain position, and if above all you get the reputation that you will keep on going to Court until they listen to you, you may then meet with some success. I fully admit that we have had this Bill so short a time in our hands that there has been little opportunity fully to consider it, and I may be told that I entirely misunderstand these words, "quarter sessions may, unless it appears to them unnecessary, allow other persons to appear." I have not the smallest doubt, judging by my past experience, that a great many of the magistrates sitting in quarter sessions will consider it most unnecessary to have trouble-some people going in to interfere with their business, and to rake up evidence on matters which they may think to be unnecessary. I have asked one or two lawyers about this matter, and they tell me that in quarter sessions no one has a right to go, whereas the public have a right to go to brewster sessions.


In this case a committee of quarter sessions will be sitting—not the court of quarter sessions.


But it is not clear whether the committee of quarter sessions, which is a new body, will be sitting judicially. Will it be sitting as the magistrates used to sit? Of course the whole of my argument on this point falls to the ground if it will still be open for the public to go. But the question has never yet been answered whether or not the public are to be put outside by this Bill. Possibly the point may be further elucidated in Committee. Perhaps the Government will agree to the omission of the words, but that, of course, is a matter for Committee, and not for Second Reading.

A remarkable statement was made by the noble Lord on the Woolsack, to the effect that it was his opinion—he admitted it was only an opinion—that a larger number of licensed houses did not increase drunkenness. I certainly thought that so far as temperance reformers were concerned, nobody would make such a statement as that in the present day. Liverpool for a time had almost free trade in liquor, and that is why Liverpool has the doubtful honour of possessing more licensed houses than almost any other town in the country at well as more drunkenness. The system lasted only a very few months, but it has taken a long time to get rid of the houses then established. I happened to be for a time in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where I spent an afternoon with a magistrate. There for eighteen months they had free trade in liquor. Anybody who paid his money down for a licence and got twenty people to say that he was a decent fellow could get a licence, and the result was that the number of licences was increased four or fivefold. Within eighteen months there was such a pandemonium that they had to close a number of houses, and this Judge told me the methods by which he selected the public-house. He constituted an open court before which anybody could appear. The liquor seller's friends could go and say what a good fellow he was, that he sold very good liquor, and that he ought to be allowed to go on supplying it; and other people could go and state their view of the case showing that the house should be closed. On the evidence thus given a certain proportion of the houses were closed, and within a few months a number of others were to be shut up. But I do not think I need labour this point, I believe it is admitted that the number of public-houses, beyond a certain proportion, does increase drunkenness, and I was surprised to hear so illustrious an authority as the Lord Chancellor lay down the contrary proposition.

Then there is one further point, that the licence-holders have a moral right to the continuance of their licences. Your Lordships know that a certain number of the States in the United States of America have "prohibition." On the, last occasion of a State deciding to have "prohibition" the licence-holders and brewery companies said they had a right to sell liquor, and the decision of the Supreme Court turned on the moral right of the United States under its Constitution not to give a vested interest in anything contrary to the highest welfare of the community. In regard to questionable places of amusement or gambling houses, where the profits are extremely large, nobody has contended that there should be a vested interest, and why should it be the case in regard to the great evil which we are now discussing?

We are afraid that under this Bill fewer houses will be closed than under the old system. It has been estimate I that in Birmingham it will take thirty years—I should be sorry to suggest that all Birmingham figures are correct, but these have been carefully worked out by a gentleman who used to be a great authority in the Unionist Party, and he says that it will take thirty years to do what they looked forward to doing in ten years, everybody agreeing that the number of licensed houses is too large and ought to be reduced. Your Lordships cannot be surprised that we should ask you to pause when we are told that that will be the result of this so-called temperance measure. So far from this Bill being a temperance reform, we consider it to be a measure for the endowment of the liquor traffic with an amount equal to about 50 per cent. more than the endowment of the national Church. I do ask whether it is desirable, with all these evils confronting us, that we should pass this Bill in its present form.


My Lords, I hope I may be allowed, as one who has had many years experience in the administration of the licensing laws, to say a few words upon this subject. I think it may be admitted, in the first place, that on both sides of the House we are most anxious to see a reduction in the number of public-houses; and I think it may also be admitted that we all desire that compensation in some form should be given. I was very much impressed by the force and eloquence of the speech made by the noble Viscount, Lord Peel, yesterday afternoon, but I could not altogether accept his views that this Bill would hinder the cause of temperance reform. In the county in which I reside—the county of Kent—I have had many years experience, and I can say that in many of the divisions of that county there has been an earnest desire to reduce the number of public-houses and to do everything possible to promote the interests of temperance reform. I will speak of only two divisions of the county, though steps have been taken in others, but in two divisions there were special committees of the magistrates appointed to go into the question of reducing the number of public-houses—one in West Kent and the other in East Kent. In both cases the committee thought it possible to approach the brewers and to say to them, "We are prepared to renew the licences of the large approved houses that do not possess back-doors and are structurally fit; but we are not prepared to continue the licence of any of the inferior houses to which we wish to put an end." But there was a great difficulty in the matter, which arose in this way. In the first place the ante-1869 public-houses could not be abolished; they had a statutory title. This Bill removes or makes it possible to remove that statutory title. In the next place, the brewers, though quite admitting that there was some force in the view of the committees, said they could not sacrifice income and give up these houses without some form of compensation being granted. I thoroughly believe that this Bill, both because it touches the ante-1869 public-houses, and because it gives a form of compensation provided out of the trade, will effect a very considerable reform. It is scarcely necessary to say that the brewers are possessed of property, and to alienate property without some form of compensation seems to me to be inequitable. Take the case of a butcher, or grocer, or miller. They are paid compensation, though it is called, not compensation, but goodwill. In many instances I have known of a very large goodwill being paid for succeeding to a butcher's or a grocer's business.

It is said that this Bill takes away the power of the local magistrates. But the initiation of all suppression of public-houses on account of their redundancy must emanate from the local benches who have local knowledge. It was not long ago—I am speaking of my own knowledge, and perhaps it is more valuable because it is actual experience—shat we on my own bench at Sevenoaks suppressed a public-house. There was an appeal and the appeal was sustained. Now the reason the larger area is taken in this Bill is that it is impossible to provide sufficient compensation over the smaller area, whereas the larger area will provide the necessary compensation. It seems to my mind very inequitable that the magistrates at quarter sessions, who represent that larger area, should not have to do with these cases. Local benches must first recommend the suppression of particular houses, and then, if they are at all anxious in the matter of reform, they will attend quarter sessions to back up the cases which they have brought forward. In the recent debate in the House of Commons, Mr. Asquith said that there ought to be no appeal to quarter sessions. I am well acquainted with certain petty sessional divisions in the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk where there are two or three magistrates, one of whom is very often a clergyman, and the country clergy, though I have the greatest possible respect for them, are not always the best men of business, and it is only fair when a sacrifice of property is made that an appeal should be allowed as exists now and as it will exist under the Bill.

Lord Peel said last night that wretched weakly public - houses would be stimulated to prolong their existence. I think just the contrary. Really and truly, it seems to me that they are about to be abolished. We know very well that they constitute a very large proportion of the worst public-houses—about one-third of the whole number in the country—their customers are the lowest and worst class, they generally have a back door, and I have little doubt myself that, though equity will be promoted and justice done as it always is by the magistrates in every county, the first houses to be sacrificed and compensated will be the ante-1869 houses. They have a statutory title at present, but this Bill provides that while having that statutory title they may be compensated, and I am sure that with a scheme of compensation the brewer will readily meet the justices' views by allowing the withdrawal of the licences of such houses. The most rev. Primate said that if the number of licences was reduced the surviving houses would make a much larger profit. That may be so, but it is impossible to say, though as to a reduction of the number of houses reducing the temptations to drunkenness I have personally very little doubt. I am quite sure that in most instances the better class houses are not frequented by the topers. The better class houses hitherto have commanded better class customers. It is very often said that a man walking to his home passes three public-houses but succumbs to the fourth. Well, under this Bill the fourth will not exist; it will be extinguished.

It is my conscientious conviction, my Lords, that this Bill will tend very greatly to the promotion of temperance. In the county of Kent we have granted no new licences at all for several years, but it has been practically impossible to fail to renew existing licences at brewster sessions on account of the difficulty with regard to compensation. This Bill provides machinery which I have little doubt will tend greatly to diminish the number of public-houses. It is said that last year there were not more than 200 licences suppressed, but it is prognosticated that under this Bill the number will be 2,500.

I should like before I sit down to say a word with regard to the action of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to which reference was made by the most rev. Primate. I have the honour to belong to that body, and I may say that during the last twenty years a large number of licences have been given up. The way in which it has been done is that the licences, having expired, have not been renewed. That really represents a great sacrifice of the income of the Church, but I am sure that my right rev. friends on the Episcopal Bench will readily submit to a diminution of income in such a good cause as that of temperance. It is not at all as it might be in this part of London. The late Duke of Westminster informed me that he had abolished between twenty and twenty-five public houses on his estate without suffering any reduction of income at all. That is easily understandable, because the character of the neighbourhood was improved by the abolition of some of these public-houses. But that is not the case with the Ecclesiastical Commission. Their property is situated in the North of London and in Lambeth, and it is of such a character that I do not think it is improved at all by the withdrawal of a licence. At any rate, the immediate effect is a considerable sacrifice of income in the cause of temperance. The amount of money which has been sacrificed by the abolition of these licences amounts to no less than £300,000 in those twenty or twenty-two years.

It is said that perpetuity is given by one of the clauses of this Bill. I fail to see that machinery to abolish a custom which has become a perpetuity justifies that statement at all. On the contrary, if the annual renewal of a licence has become almost an established fact, so that the licence cannot be suddenly withdrawn, as some of my noble friends imagine, I fail to see that when a Bill is introduced which, for the first time, gives facilities for stopping that custom and enables redundant public-houses to be at once dealt with it can be described as giving perpetuity of tenure. I have no doubt myself that this Bill will tend very greatly to the promotion of the cause of temperance, and therefore I shall have no hesitation in voting against the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount.


My Lords, I was very glad when the noble Earl rose just now, because there was a certain monotony in the situation when three serious criticisms were made upon the Bill one after another, and no one rose to refute them. I wish with all my heart that I could give a benediction to the Bill brought in by the Government such as that which has been given by the noble Earl and some others. There are undoubtedly in the Bill points of very great value indeed which I wish to acknowledge, particularly the provisions with reference to the ante-1869 beer-houses and to new licences. But it seems to me that instead of a Bill for the reduction of licences, what we much more want is a Bill for giving freedom to the State in the granting of licences. That His Majesty's Government attribute some merit and some importance to this point of freedom, and of preventing the setting up of a monopoly value, must be deduced from one of their new clauses, in which I observe these words— Such conditions shall, in any case, be attached as, having regard to the proper provisions for good management, the justices think best adapted for securing to the public any monopoly value which is represented by the difference— and so on. If His Majesty's Government think it is for the advantage of the State that there should be secured to the public the monopoly value of the new licences which may be given, does it pass the wit of man to devise a Bill which should give at least some portion of the monopoly value of ancient licences to the State instead of to the individual? That is a point I want to make.

Then, in reference to the monopoly value of existing licences, I want to ask one question. My noble friend Earl Grey spoke yesterday upon this point, and while he gave a greater benediction to the Bill than I am able to give, he said, dealing with this point, that unless the Government were able to throw some light upon this question of the monopoly value of existing licences, and to give the public some kind of relief in regard thereto, he should feel it to be his duty to vote for a time limit in some shape or form. So far as I have heard the speeches on this side of the House, there has been no kind of reply given to my noble friend, and, although this point of the increase on the monopoly value of ancient licences has been brought home again and again, no sort of answer has been made on the part of the Government. I want, therefore, to ask plainly whether the monopoly value which now exists, and is increasing, is a monopoly value that you can consider to be free from danger to the country? Let me give one single illustration. Within a mile of the house where I resided when I was Bishop of Newcastle, there was a small hotel belonging to a friend of mine. Without the licence it might perhaps have fetched £1,000 in the market but not more. This small hotel was sold by auction for £28,100. While I was exceedingly glad that my friend, if anyone, should receive this very large profit, for my own part I could not justify on grounds of State such an enormous monopoly value. This house was sold after the decision in "Sharp v. Wakefield"; it was therefore sold at a time when the purchaser knew perfectly well that his tenure was precarious, and yet this enormous monopoly value was given, and this enormous speculation perpetrated—I can use no other word. I presume that if magistrates hereafter should think it their duty to try and suppress a licence of that kind, they would be asked to give as compensation the difference between, say, £1,000, the worth of the house without a licence, and the £28,100 which was given for the house with the licence. I cannot believe that it passes the wit of man to find some sort of limit, whatever that limit may be. I am not going to enter into the question of how many years it should be. For my own part I agree very much with the most rev. Primate in the Amendment which he proposes to move when this Bill is in Committee, but that is purely a matter of detail. The point I want to make is simply this. The decision of the Courts having been plainly given that a licence is granted for one year, and one year only, and that therefore there is nothing to prevent the magistrates from refusing to renew that licence, I maintain that it is equitable to give a certain term of years, whatever the term may be, during which the licence may be retained by the present holder, but that after that term of years the authority shall be free to renew or refuse the licence, or, if they think fit, to grant a licence on terms which may be approved by the authority. That seems to me to be the main blot on this Bill. If there were a time limit, I, for my part, should be perfectly willing to accept the Bill; but if there be no time limit I shall feel it my duty to oppose the Bill at every stage. After what has been said by the representatives of His Majesty's Government, and particularly after the somewhat hopeless speech of my noble friend Lord Salisbury, which seemed to me to give no sort of hope whatever upon this matter, I shall feel it my duty to follow the noble Viscount into the Lobby if he divides the House to-Light. But if I had some real hope held out that in Committee His Majesty's Government would give way on the question of the time limit, I should refuse to vote on the Second Reading at all. That is the position in which I stand in reference to this Bill.

Now, my Lords, I should like to touch upon one further point. It is said that there will be a sum of about £1,200,000 available every year for the buying up of licences. Whether that sum is available depends wholly upon whether the various authorities are prepared to charge the full sum allowed by the Bill. I admit that they may do it, and that, if they do, the sum may be £1,200,000. But if you spread that £1,200,000 over the whole country and see how it works out, it is not such a large sum after all. Look at the figures which Mr. Shaw Lefevre has published in to-day's Times. I will take one single town in which I lived for nearly eighteen years—Portsmouth. According to Mr. Shaw Lefevre's figures there would be at Portsmouth an annual reduction of four licensed houses, and of three at Southampton. If the authority avails itself to the utmost of its powers of borrowing, there might be sixty licences bought up at Portsmouth and forty-five at Southampton. or about one-fifth or one-sixth of what considered to be the minimum number of licences which ought to be withdrawn in those two great towns. It does not seem to me that that is any great result or any result at all to be proud of. On the other hand, I think it will have the effect of stopping the process which is at present going on. A considerable reduction has already been brought about in many places, and arrangements have been made again and again with brewers whereby perhaps three or four licences should be given up and one licence given in exchange.

Then there is a further point which I desire to touch upon. There are so many authorities concerned that it is extremely difficult to find out who is responsible for the working of the separate parts of the Bill, but I venture to say that whatever is done there will be a very real difficulty with reference to this monopoly value. Mr. Shaw Lefevre has pointed out in reference to the great towns to which I have referred that the public-houses are as a rule in a few hands. In Portsmouth there are 714 out of 765 licences beionging to thirty-one breweries, one brewery possessing 128, another ninety-eight, another ninety, and so on. I think it incontestable that if you take away a certain number of licences you do increase to a certain extent the value of the remaining licences; whereas if you could proportionately suppress a certain number of licences belonging to these various breweries, you could do it in such a way that the brewers themselves would lose very little. Unless you are able to make some sort of arrangement, whereby you can deduct from the sum paid by way of compensation the increase of emolument accruing to the brewery from the increased value of the licences that remain, you are really compensating the owner twice over, and giving a sum far beyond what the persons aggrieved have any right to demand. I cannot but hope that when the Bill goes into Committee, this question will receive very careful attention indeed on the part of His Majesty's Government.

It is unnecessary to go over the ground which has been so ably covered several times within the course of the debate, and therefore I will only say this in conclusion. Early in the evening the Bishop of London expressed very admirably and lucidly the mind of most of us on this Bench, and I only regret that I did not hear the speech delivered by the Bishop of Durham. But I do say this. There are moral forces in the country which we cannot afford to disregard. The method of compensation to be set up under this Bill is one which pains some of the best people in the country, and it is looked upon by some of the best temperance reformers as an absolutely retrograde step. For my own part, while I have never been and never should be a prohibitionist, and while I have always been in favour of compensation, and should be in favour of even more liberal compensation than was proposed in the other House, I cannot possibly give my consent to this Bill in its present form; I shall therefore feel it my duty to follow the noble Viscount into the Lobby.


The noble Lord who introduced the Bill observed that it would be a pity, in his estimation, if those who recognise that the Bill contains provisions of which they approve risked the Bill because of one particular feature to which they objected. He was alluding, of course, to the question of a time limit. I think the answer to that observation is that many of us regard the absence of a time limit as so serious a defect that it would outweigh whatever advantages might be found in other parts of the Bill. That surely is a reasonable position and attitude. The Bill as it stands would enact something amounting to the creation of a vested interest. I have listened to what has been said to controvert that proposition, but I do not think we can get rid of the fact that the Bill does import something absolutely new into the Statute-book as to the character of licences and the property they are supposed to represent. A principle of that kind once placed upon the Statute-book is not a very easy thing to remove, even if Parliament desires to remove it. Other features in the Bill are altogether different in character; they are more administrative; and administrative provisions can be modified, improved, enlarged, and so forth. So that if the Bill, as the noble Lord told us, was sacrificed by the carrying of this Amendment, it would, after all, only mean the postponement of those provisions which many, like the right rev. Prelate who has just spoken, regardwith approval. Members on this side of the House welcome the clear and definite utterance of the right rev. Prelate, that so strongly does he feel with regard to the time limit question, that although he approves of many other parts of the Bill he would rather see the Bill thrown out than passed with such a provision omitted With great respect I venture to hope that the right rev. Bench will be inclined to adopt the attitude of the right rev. Prelate in regard to the manner in which they record their vote upon this Amendment, although I can quite understand that some would suggest that the matter should be postponed until the Committee stage, when the most rev. Primate's Amendment comes forward. But I have been a Member of this House for some time, and I venture to predict that on Thursday and Friday, when the Com- mittee stage is taken, them will be a much larger phalanx of Members on the Government Benches, and that if the Government do not give way to-night, they will have considerably greater force behind them during the Committee stage to prevent any such proposal being then carried. We have seen that happen before, so that I hope that those who feel strongly upon this matter will support Lord Peel's Amendment to-night.

My Lords, we cannot contemplate or discuss this Bill without remembering that it has, so to speak, a past. I am not going to rake up old stories, but it is not unreasonable to have somewhat in view the fact that there have been two prominent episodes in its history. The first is as to its conception. We cannot ignore the fact that there seems to be a strange connection or coincidence between the waiting of certain important deputations upon the Prime Minister and the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack, when very strong suggestions and requests were made, and the subsequent introduction of this Bill. Then, without pursuing that point further, but looking at the more recent history of the Bill, although in this House we are not by way of alluding to discussions in the other House of Parliament, yet I suppose it is not irregular to allude incidentally, as I think my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire said the other night, to what is recorded in the Minutes of that other House. If we go no further than the records of the Proceedings we must be aware that the history of this Bill before it came to this House had been of a very remarkable character. A good deal has been said about the Government not being responsible for the wholesale slaughter of Amendments, and so forth, but I really cannot help thinking that the Government, knowing the enormous interest taken in this Bill, might, by some provision or some prearrangement, have provided more time for its discussion. At any rate, the fact remains that there was a very great and severe application of the closure. Just consider what that means in relation to a measure of this kind—a measure of social legislation, and one which so much concerns the interests of the country that there is no topic on which candidates for Parliament are more earnestly questioned, one might almost say catechised. Those candidates who have been returned to Parliament, and who have been thus constituted representatives of the people, were prepared to carry out the mandate given and the views expressed by their constituents, but they have not had the opportunity of doing so. Does not this impose a peculiar responsibility upon this House to secure the fullest discussion of what in ordinary cases would be matters of detail and procedure, but which, owing to the nature of the subject, have now a peculiar and special importance?

I would like to say here that when allusions are made to the great power and influence of the interest known as the "trade," there is no idea of disparagement in any personal sense. We must all have noticed that the right rev. Prelate, the Bishop of London, in his remarkable and notable speech, incidentally indicated his attitude in that matter when he alluded to the fact that many of those connected with this interest have been foremost in works of philanthropy and so forth. We all recognise that. But we must also recognise the truth of what has been said as to the formidable power of this interest. It is not really the leaders and the representative men in this business, but it is also the fact that the interest is spread through countless shareholders, especially Since the introduction of the joint stock system. It may be said that there are other interests which have great power in the State. For instance, there is the railway interest. It is no doubt conceivable that the railway interest may have too much influence and power in the State, but as regards railways it must be remembered that there is a Government Department which has for a large part of its duties the looking after of railways. The Board of Trade imposes upon railway schemes restrictions and obligations which the railway companies often think are superfluous, but they have to be obeyed. At any rate the railway companies are kept very well in order, though doubtless they do know something about combination in a quiet way. It is also to be remembered that if rail ways have tie misfortune to harm anybody they are liable to savere damages and to the payment of compensation to the persons injured.

Leaving that point as to the importance of the trade, I think it should also be borne in mind that throughout the country there are many persons of great zeal and disinterestedness, who for a long time have been devoting energy, thought, and study, to this question of temperance reform, and who, in their various departments of useful energy, whether of religious, philanthropic, or social reform, have obtained experience of this terribly insidious evil, upon which there is no need to enlarge, as we all know something about it. These workers for the welfare of their fellow-creatures have been faced with this formidable evil, and have given their testimony, which testimony I am afraid has not yet been fully and sufficiently considered. The testimony of temperance workers of different creeds, classes, and ranks is in the main that they would deplore the passing of the Bill in its present form. That fact in itself, is I think, an argument in support of Lord Peel's Amendment. At the worst, as I have said, if the Bill is thrown out it is only a matter of postponement. The energy of the Houses of Parliament in regard to temperance reform would go on, but we should not have run the risk of premature or hasty legislation. Again I say I think the postponement of the Bill would give time and opportunity for something with the same object, namely, the promotion of temperance, to be brought forward, but with a better prospect of success, and with the hearty good will instead of the doubt and opposition of the most earnest temperance workers of the country.


I yield to none of your Lordships in my zeal for temperance reform, not even to the noble Viscount opposite or to the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, and I admit that if I could accept all the figures that were given by the right rev. Prelate, I should feel myself compelled to accompany him into the Lobby in support of the noble Viscount opposite. But although I think that this Bill has not perhaps all the merits which have been claimed for it in the cause of temperance reform, at the same time I feel it my duty to vote for the Second Reading, and it will be impossible for me to go into the Lobby with the noble Viscount in support of an Amendment which is practically a courteous rejection of the Bill. I will not discuss how far intemperance may be cured by the reduction of licences, except to say that if you are going to do nothing else but reduce licences, without providing any machinery for a change of system, you will not make very great progress in the cause of temperance reform. I take it for granted that every one of your Lordships does wish as far as possible to reduce the number of licences. No one in this House has denied that a dislike to inflict injustice upon the licence-holders who will be dispossessed of their licences has, in a great many instances, caused magistrates to hold their hands in regard to a number of licences which, in the interests of the public, it would have been desirable to abolish. At present the magistrates have not only to consider the public interest, but also the injustice which they may be inflicting upon licence-holders. After the passing of this Bill magistrates will be able to consider the question solely from the point of view of the public interest. Looking back over the past history of this question, I think it is clear that public opinion in all quarters has gradually become more and more unanimous in support of compensation, in some form or another, being given.

What is the present position of licences in this country? Is it not altogether illogical and inconsistent? In the first place licences are regarded by the law as terminable every year; at the same time, in practice they have always been renewed. Moreover, they have been treated by the Inland Revenue authorities as a form of property which may well be taxed for death duties; and, more important than that, in cases where licences have not been renewed, in other words where they have been abolished in the interest of public improvements, compensation has been given. If I may use a phrase of the noble Viscount opposite, we have had the views of Prime Ministers, living and dead, belonging to both political Parties, in favour of compensation in some form or another, and we have had the Report both of the majority and of the minority of the Royal Commission over which the noble Viscount presided, urging that compensation should be given.

If it is admitted that although there is no legal claim to compensation at the same time without compensation you cannot have any temperance reform, the next question which arises is how that compensation is to be assessed. In this Bill it is laid down that the amount is to be fixed as the difference between the value of the house with a licence and the value of the house without a licence, that it is to be paid by the trade, and that it is to be assessed by the Revenue authorities—that is to say, the authorities will say to the licence-holder, "We value your premises at so much for the purpose of the death duties, and we will value them for compensation on precisely the same terms." The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition said that that was no argument whatever, because death duties were also paid upon houses, horses, pictures, and other property which had a market value, and that it was exactly the same with licences. Precisely so. But would the noble Earl be in favour of taking away that class of property without paying any compensation for it? I hold that compensation is not only necessary if a reduction of licences is to take place, but that the method of the assessment and distribution provided by this Bill is a just one.

I should like to comment for one moment upon the curious assertion of the noble Viscount who moved the Amendment that it was just to give compensation when you took away licences from hundreds of houses, but that it was not just when you took away a single licence. The noble Viscount shakes his head. I would remind the House that his chief criticism of this Bill was that, although compensation was given, there was no provision for a very large reduction of licences. The noble Viscount agrees, I think, with that interpretation of his speech. I presume that he would admit that if a large reduction of licences were to take place compensation would be justified. But surely the principle is precisely the same whether you take away the licences from a hundred houses or whether you take away the licence from one house. At any rate I cannot see any difference in principle between one and the other. Believing, then, that it is desirable that the number of public, houses should be reduced, and knowing that it is impossible, without compensation, that such a reduction should be carried out, I shall record my vote for this Bill, because for the first time this principle of compensation is admitted by an Act of Parliament.

I should like to say one word with regard to the limitations of this fund, because it has been urged by noble Lords opposite that this fund will be so limited as not to admit of a very large reduction of licences, and the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London quoted figures to prove that the number of licensed houses reduced under this Bill would be less rather than more than the number reduced previous to the passing of the Bill. It is very difficult to arrive at precise figures as to the number of houses that will be reduced under the Bill. All such calculations are more or less of the nature of speculation and prophecy. But I think the right rev. Prelate has made the mistake of assuming that the licences reduced under this Bill will be instead of, and not in addition to, those which would be reduced under existing circumstances. A great many of the licences taken away at the present time are licences which have not been renewed on the ground of misconduct or otherwise. Licences of that kind will be withheld after the passing of this Bill precisely as they were before. The passing of this Bill will have no effect whatever on the number of licences reduced by misconduct or otherwise.

With regard to the number of licences reduced merely on the ground of redundancy, it has been pointed out that those are very few at the present moment, and no one who has looked through the Returns given in the House of Commons of the sum of money which will be available in counties and county boroughs throughout the country can fail to realise that with the sum of £1,200,000 provided under this Bill, a very much larger number of houses will be capable of reduction than were reduced on the ground of redundancy before the passage of the measure. The Leader of the Opposition quoted the case of Liverpool, and said that a reduction in the number of houses had taken place there on a large scale. It was stated in the House of Commons by a member of the Government that seventy licences per annum would be reduced under this Bill, whereas up to the present moment the average has been only twenty-five per annum. I would point out, in further criticising the figures of tie right rev. Prelate, that it is surely not fair to take the whole number of licensed houses in the country, find their average value, and to see how many times that average value will go into the sum of £1,200,000 in order to ascertain the number of licences that may be abolished under this Bill. It is obvious that after the passing of the Bill it will be the smaller, the less valuable, and the worse class houses that will first be reduced. It will be the ante-869 beer-houses the houses of inferior character and lower value, and therefore if you are to consider what will be the precise number of houses the licences of which may be taken away, you must go on the assumption that, at any rate for the first few years, it will be the smaller and the less valuable houses that will be dealt with. If it is clear that with this fund at their disposal quarter sessions will be able to reduce very considerably the number of licences in the country, how is it possible for it to be said, as the noble Viscount said yesterday, that this Bill will hinder the cause of temperance reform and prevent the reduction of redundant licences?

Now, my Lords, I come to another point in the Bill—the question of the ante-869 beerhouses. These houses are admittedly the very worst in the country. They are the bad houses which the magistrates for many years have been anxious to get rid of, but have been unable to do so because of the impossibility of taking away their licences except on the ground of misconduct or other specified reasons. For the first time these houses will be brought under the control of the magistrates by the passing of this Bill.

Then I should like to say a word on the question of the time limit. It seems to me that there is a very great difference between a time limit to compensation and a time limit to licences. In speaking of the time limit these two different kinds of limit are very often confused. With regard to the former, it is surely quite illogical for those who are in favour of compensation, and of the system of compensation set up in this Bill, to be also in favour of a time limit in regard to it. Compensation is either a good thing or a bad thing. If it is a good thing, what can be the reason for putting a limit to the period under which you will give it? If you do that, at the end of the period, be it ten, fifteen, or twenty years, you will be back in precisely the same position as you are to-day, and the magistrates will have to consider, when they desire to refuse a licence, whether or not in doing so they will be inflicting an injustice upon the licence-holder. That is the question of a time limit for the compensation. The question of a time limit for licences is quite another matter. With the principle of a time limit for licences I am in entire agreement, and I shall have a word to say upon that in a moment.

But before dealing with that matter I would like to refer to Clause 4 of the Bill. I think that is an admirable clause. It is there laid down with regard to all new licences that their monopoly value shall in future go to the public to whom it belongs. In addition, the granting of licences is made dependent on certain conditions of a very valuable character. I cannot help feeling that if the provisions of this clause had been applicable to all existing houses, most of the evils which we deplore would have been cured, and there would have been no necessity for the very eloquent speeches by which this Amendment has been moved and supported. Are not all these matters so much to the good? Are they not all advances in the direction in which temperance reformers should go? The absence of compensation is admittedly at the present moment the greatest bar to the reduction of licensed houses. Very well; compensation is granted under the Bill, and that main bar to the reduction of licences is removed. Secondly, the ante-869 beerhouses are admittedly a disgrace. At the present moment they cannot be touched, but by this Bill they will be brought under the control of the magistrates, and their licences may be taken away on payment of compensation. All new licences after the passing of this Bill will be granted on a new and proper system. I would ask how a Bill which does these things can be called altogether reactionary and a bar to temperance reform?

I fully admit, my Lords, that there are things which ought to be done which arc not done by this Bill, and that brings me to the criticisms which I have to make on the measure. It has been called a great temperance reform. The Prime Minister, in the other House, said it was the greatest temperance reform which had ever been introduced into or passed through Parliament. I cannot claim for it so high-sounding a title as that—not on account of what it does, but on account of what it leaves undone. No Bill is worthy of such a name as that which leaves the present system entirely as it is. The Prime Minister called that system illogical; it is worse than that. The present system is not merely illogical; it is degrading and demoralising to the nation. Under that system a great vested interest has grown up, the pressure of which is felt throughout the country and even in Parliament itself.

With the indulgence of your Lordships, I will point out very briefly what some of the evils of the present system are. In the first place, the State, by granting a licence to an individual at a perfectly nominal sum, immediately confers an enormous and perfectly fictitious value upon the house to which the licence is attached. For this privilege the State gets no adequate return whatsoever. Here I venture to say is a huge source of wealth for the purpose of revenue at present absolutely untouched. Secondly, there is the utterly mischievous system of tied houses, representing 75 or 80 per cent. of the public-houses of the country. I say that this system of tied houses ought to be done away with, but it will not be touched by this Bill. Thirdly, there is no public control over the management of public-houses. I think it is a fact that the interests of a publican in pushing the sale of intoxicating liquor, and the general management of the premises of which he is the owner or is in charge, has much more influence on the question of intemperance than the mere existence of a house in which intoxicating liquor is sold. Finally, I hold that under the present system there is no opportunity for experiment in temperance reform on a large scale. I am one of those who are very largely in sympathy with the system presided over by Lord Grey, namely, the trust system, but I hold that that system has no opportunity of really being put to the test so long as there are only a few of these trust houses, dotted all over the country, and swamped, it may be, by houses held on a totally different principle. Not until you can get an experiment carried out in a restricted area and on a large scale will you have any opportunity of seeing how far that is really a reform in the direction of temperance.

I hold that all these are evils which the Bill leaves practically untouched. But it may be said: How are you going to remedy those evils? I consider that the first essential of any comprehensive scheme of temperance reform is to get rid of the present system. This can only be done, not by the reduction of licences here and there, but by the extinction of all licences held under the present system, and the substitution of licences held under a totally different system. I conceive that this could be done by a system of time-limited licences, which I say is a very different thing to a time-limited compensation. If you were to guarantee all existing licences for a certain period, and to say that at the end of that period all licences would lapse, that would be machinery by which you could change from one system to another. All new licences within that period might be granted either on the improved system of Clause 4, or under any other system which it might be desirable to institute, but all new licences during that period should be granted under that system, and then at the end of the period every licence in the country would be under that system. It would be desirable for the State—the central authority—to lay down as a principle the number of public- houses which would be allowed in proportion to the population throughout the country, leaving to the local authorities, the magistrates, or quarter sessions, the decision as to where precisely those houses should be put in each locality.

Personally, I should have much preferred a system of that sort to the one embodied in the Bill. I would remind your Lordships that a system of that sort was suggested some years ago—a sufficient number of years ago to have enabled us to-day, had it been then passed, to have obtained control of all licences and to have started a perfectly new system. That Bill, however was objected to by temperance reformers, and it was never carried into law. I believe also that some machinery of that sort was what the most rev. Primate had in his mind when he suggested the Amendment which he read to the House yesterday. I believe it was with the object of getting rid of the present system, and instituting a new system, that he suggested a time limit in the form embodied in his Amendment. I have not yet sufficiently considered the actual wording of the Amendment to know whether I shall be able to support it or not; but from what I gathered when I heard him read it out, I should say that his plan will not really accomplish the object he has in view—at any rate with justice to all concerned. It appears to me that the essence of any time limit for licences is that during the period of the limit the licences should be guaranteed, otherwise there is no compensation involved. You cannot ask men to pay insurance for a certain number of years against any possible loss within that period, with the certainty that they will lose both their insurance and their property at the end of the period. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London said that if this Amendment were carried you would be giving compensation during the fourteen years. But the State will not be giving any compensation, it would be merely asking the licence-holders to insure themselves, which is a very different thing. I admit that, provided the compensation was paid out of public funds during the period of fourteen years, and that at the end of that period the licence should cease, that would be a very different matter. However, I will reserve my final decision upon that point until we get into Committee. But I would say this: it cannot be done in the manner proposed by the most rev. Primate in his Amendment to the Bill.

I see nothing whatever in the Bill as it stands to prevent any such system as I have suggested from being carried out in some other Bill at some other time. There is nothing in the Bill as it stands to hinder a larger and more comprehensive scheme of temperance reform in the future and I feel sure that noble Lords opposite, who have claimed for themselves a greater sympathy in the cause of temperance reform, will see that, when their time comes, some measure of a more comprehensive character is brought in. I feel sure, after the speeches which they have delivered in this House to-day, assisted by the right rev. Prelates on the Episcopal Bench, they will not be content to let this question rest as it will be left by the passing of this Bill. They will not rest until some comprehensive measure is introduced, which will one day put an end once and for all to the present system, which is universally condemned, and which is responsible, I think, for one of the greatest social evils of the present day.


My Lords, at this advancing hour of the night, I do not propose to detain your Lordships at any length by following the close and able analysis of many of the provisions of this Bill which has been undertaken, both by some of my noble friends behind me and by some critics on the other side of the House. Nor shall I follow in detail the points raised by the noble Earl who has just sat down. The noble Earl told us that he intends to support the Second Reading of the Bill, but I am bound to say that on the greater part of his speech we on this side of the House are inclined to claim him as a supporter. He seemed to me to throw a great deal more verve and enthusiasm into his critical statements with regard to the Bill than into the accents of approval and faint praise with which he began his speech. All I propose to do is to recall one or two points that occur to me as having arisen in the course of the debate. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, at the beginning of his speech yesterday, warned the noble Viscount who moved the Amendment and the entire Episcopal Bench against the danger of too much earnestness. Speaking to them in almost paternal tones, he seemed to think that if they were over earnest in this matter, they might be led into inflicting injustice upon those who hold proprietary rights in these licences. I can say at once that, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, we absolve them from any over earnestness in this matter.

What was the conduct of the measure in the other House? It is true that at the conclusion of the proceedings in that House, the Prime Minister spoke of the Bill as a great measure of temperance' reform, but he seemed to invest the whole subject with that atmosphere of agreeable triviality with which he is able to surround any subject the discussion of which he desires to curtail. Now that the measure has come to this House, it does not seem to me to have been dealt with in a very serious spirit. Before I leave this part of the subject, I should like to draw attention to the statement of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack with reference to the manner in which this measure was dealt with in another place. He stated—if not in so many words, he certainly implied—that the fact that the measure had not received due discussion in another place was owing to waste of time—I do not think he used the word "obstruction"—on the part of the Opposition. What warrant has the noble and learned Lord for that statement? I followed the debates in another place with considerable care, but I do not recall that either the Home Secretary or the Solicitor-General complained in any way of the conduct of the Opposition during the course of the discussions; and I shall be very greatly surprised if the noble Marquess who leads this House brings any charge of obstruction against the Opposition in another place.

I said that this question had not been, in my opinion, very seriously dealt with, but I suppose we shall all agree that it is a, serious question. My noble friend Lord Spencer made some mention of the facts which cause all serious people, and all people who are connected with the administration of justice, to look upon this drink question as one of the gravest social problems. I might call attention to another reminder which has appeared within the last few days, namely, the Report of the Committee on Physical Deterioration. I do not know whether many of your Lordships have had time to read that Report, but under the heading of "Alcoholism" there are a series of exceedingly striking facts dealing with this question. One witness stated that at one school in south-east London, at which upwards of 200 children attended, there were only twelve whose parents were not given to what was politely called "irregular use of alcohol." There were other lamentable statistics about the increase of drinking among women in certain parts of England. That, after all, is rather a new aspect of the question, We have been accustomed to recognise the gravity of the drink question in relation to crime, lunacy, and failures, but we have not to a full extent regarded it, as it is now regarded, in its effect upon generations to come. It may be said that these matters are well known to everybody, that they are mere platitudes. But if these evils are platitudes, how is it that there is not more recognition of them in the Government Bill, and in the speeches by which that Bill is supported? Throughout the speeches which noble Lords have delivered, and in particular the speech of the noble Marquess who is, I think, the Cabinet Minister in charge of the Bill, and whose speech therefore must be regarded as the central feature of this debate, there was a great deal of recognition of the rights of the man who sells drink but very little allusion to his responsibilities. I could hardly trace in the speech of the noble Marquess that he recognised from a social point of view any difference whatever between the man who sells boots and the man who sells gin.


I do not know whether the noble Earl is implying that I do not feel, and that I did not express, sympathy with all that has been said with reference to the great evils of intemperance, but I began my speech with, I am afraid, rather too long a passage dealing with that very point.


I am in the recollection of the House, and unless we were to have the good fortune of hearing the whole of the noble Marquess's speech over again, it would be difficult to prove or to disprove what I said; but certainly it did seem to me that the main burden of his speech—perhaps necessarily, as no was replying to the noble Viscount— dealt rather with the responsibility of the public towards the publican than of the publican towards the public. After all, it seems to me that so far as this debate is concerned, there is a deep-seated and possib'y an ineradicable difference of view on the claim of licence-holders to compensation. I do not in the least mean as regard the law on the matter, because on that my noble friend behind me, Lord Davey, and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack are practically agreed. Nor do I mean that there is any difference in any part of the House, so far as I know, as to the desirability of giving compensation in some form or other to dispossessed. licence-holders. But as to the nature of the claim of the dispossessed licence-holder, and the scope of the privileges which he ought to possess, there does seem to be a deep-rooted division of opinion which will be before long exemplified in the Lobbies into which we respectively walk. Of course, if a licence is distinctly a property, the whole question falls to the ground; but, if it is to be regarded as a matter of reasonable expectation, the question of the nature and scope of the compensation has to be considered.

The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack made what I venture to think was an illuminating comparison, when he reminded the House of a certain analogy between the position of licence-holders and the position of farm tenants who hold from year to year. I have heard it said, not in this House, but outside, "You are a nice sort of people, to wish, to deprive licence-holders of their compensation! Why, in your Irish land legislation you translated what was merely an expectation into a valuable monetary possession. Up to the time of your Land Act of 1881 the Irish tenant outside Ulster was liable to be dispossessed, and yet you came down and presented him with compensation." That is no doubt what we did, but is the case of the Irish tenant at all analagous with that of the holder of a public-house licence? The Irish tenant—at least this was the reason offered for the Bill, though some noble Lords may dispute the fact—Was to receive compensation because the enhanced value of his holding was due to something that he had done. But can that be said in any sense of the licence-holder? The enhanced value of his house over and above its value as a dwelling-house is due to nothing that he has done, but simply to the fact that a monopoly has been presented to him by the State. But it does seem to me that there is a very distinct analogy between the position of a year-to-year tenant in England and that of a licence-holder. It is perfectly true, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack stated, that where a tenant or his family has been in possession, as is doubtless the case on many of the estates owned by your Lordships, for many years, and in some cases for hundreds of years, you would be exceedingly unwilling to dispossess him without consideration. But I will ask anybody who is used to land-owning whether, in the case of a year-to-year tenant being dispossessed by his landlord, say in order to turn his holding into building land, or for planting, or for some other purpose of the landlord, he would suggest that that tenant should be given the amount of compensation which by this Bill is proposed to be given to licence-holders? Would you give even the amount of compensation which is proposed to be given by the Amendment of the most rev. Primate? Would you be prepared, that is to say, to give the man all the profits of his holding for fourteen years and the equivalent of a seven years tenure in addition? No landlord, however generous, would take such a course as that, and I cannot help feeling that the noble and learned Lord, in introducing this analogy, has been treading on somewhat dangerous ground, which was carefully avoided by noble Lords on the Front Bench, some of whom perhaps have more intimate knowledge of the proceedings of landowners than the noble and learned Lord himself.

What is the conclusion that is to be drawn from the kind of claim which the licence-holder possesses? One conclusion, to my mind, is that there should be a very wide discretion in applying that compensation in different degrees to different cases. There are cases in which, as it seems to me, very full and handsome compensation ought to be given; but there are other cases, such as were mentioned by the noble Viscount yesterday, where all the houses in one area belong to one firm of brewers, and where a reduction of the number of licences would mean no pecuniary loss to the owner at all—in such cases surely, in common fairness, the compensation ought to be small. That is to say, it ought to be estimated not on the supposed value of the licence, but as a kind of compassionate allowance assessed on the moral merits of the case.

I now pass to another point, a small one, but having some value. It is the case that you are undoubtedly adding to the value of the holding of the licensee, and you are unquestionably giving him something which he had not before. Will not that have some effect on the action of licensing benches in the matter of removals for misconduct? When a man is now removed for misconduct, which may be of a more or less gross character, what he loses is his house under the conditions described in "Sharp v. Wakefield." If you dispossess him under this Bill you deprive him not merely of his licence, but also of the pecuniary compensation which he would have received if he had been removed under ordinary circumstances. The conclusion that I draw is that the licensing benches, being kindly folk, will be more easy-going in cases of minor misconduct and less inclined to clear out a man than they would be if the operation of the law remained as at present.

I will deal with one point to which the noble Earl who spoke last alluded. He implied that this Bill had many shortcomings, and I gathered that if the noble Earl had had the making of it it would be quite unrecognisable. Following pretty closely the words of the Prime Minister in a letter which can be read in the newspapers of to-day, he said that all this is not a final measure, that it will be quite possible for some succeeding Government, to whichever Party it belongs, to amend this legislation in any way it pleases. That statement of the Prime Minister, as I read it this morning, seemed to be one of those ingenious arguments, most effective of their kind, which, when you read them in one way, are truisms, arid when you read them in another way are the reverse of true. It is perfectly true that Parliament can undo anything that has been done by Parliament. Parliament could undo the whole of the Irish land legislation of last year if it chose, but we know it is not likely to do anything of the kind.


I never suggested that anything should be undone.


No, I do not say that the noble Earl did, but I think the Prime Minister in his letter certainly went so far as to imply that this legislation could be amended in any way that Parliament chose to suggest at a future time. That is the truism—that Parliament could alter anything. But, on the other hand, it surely is the fact that it is a very difficult matter to deal, after any reasonable distance of time, with a measure which has received the sanction of Parliament as this measure will probably receive that sanction in its present form. Some of the noble Lords behind me have spoken of the vast interests involved in the brewing industry. Upwards of ninety millions of shares are quoted on the Stock Exchange and held by investors all over the country. You have these interests to attack or at any rate to deal with and to proceed against when the whole matter comes to be re-opened.

In addition to that, it seems to me that by carrying this present legislation you are finally stereotyping the whole cast of drink-sellers in the country. You are making it infinitely more difficult to adopt methods, either of municipal management or of private trust management, such as those with which my noble friend Earl Grey is so closely connected. Once you have stated, as you are stating by this Bill, that the licence-holder is a man who must under no circumstances he dispossessed without being compensated, it stands to reason that you make his position infinitely stronger, and that to replace him by any means by a different person entrusted With the sale of intoxicating liquor becomes more and more difficult. I know that Lord Grey did not take this view. He stated that in his belief the passing of this Bill would assist the cause which he has so much at heart. I wish it were so, but it does seem to me that my noble friend, who, as we know, is of a sanguine disposition, takes too confident a view of the possibilities of this measure. He seems to consider that, whenever he comes forward as a representative of a trust to try and purchase a licence, that he will be able to get that licence from quarter sessions. He quoted the case of a village in which there were two public houses, one a trust house and the other a free house, or more likely a tied house, and he stated his belief that it this measure were to pass his trust would be easily able to step into possession of the other house, having announced beforehand that they would close the house on pay nights, and knock off the sale of spirits on occasions when the house was likely to be crowded. I know nothing about quarter sessions in the noble Earl's county, but it seems to me that they are exceedingly unlikely to do anything of the kind. Why should they dispossess the other licence-holder if the house were perfectly well conducted? I can conceive it possible that magistrates of a small district, all clubbed together to support the noble Earl's trust system, might be got to do such a thing, but to tell me that the licensing. committee of a county like Nort humber land would do what is essentially a somewhat arbitrary act seems to me a singularly improbable and Utopian belief on the part of my noble friend.

In conclusion, I would merely say that it does seem to me—and this is my great reason for supporting the Amendment of my noble friend—that this Bill, if carried into law, will, to a great extent, close the door against other experiments in temperance reform. Temperance reform we all agree must be, to a great extent, a matter of experiment. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack does not much believe, I gather, in this particular experiment. I think he said that he did not believe that to diminish the number of licences would necessarily diminish the extent of drinking. It he holds that view I almost wonder he is found supporting this Bill. But, however that may be, it is the fact that all temperance legislation must be of a somewhat experimental character, and our great objection to this measure is that it does not, in our opinion, leave that room for experiment which we desire. We regard it as a stereotyping measure, and for that reason we propose to support the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount.


My Lords, having listened with much interest to a great many of the speeches in favour of the Bill, and having read a great many more speeches, I have still to confess myself one of the objectors to it. My only difficulty, after listening to all that has been said on behalf of the Bill, is to know how to select the objections to which I desire to draw attention, but the course is made easier by the fact that the one objection which has been brought before the House by the noble Viscount in his Amendment is so forcible as to make almost all other objections superfluous. I take it that it is on that ground that so many of those on the Benches immediately around me, though naturally inclined to favour many things in the Bill, feel compelled to vote with the noble Viscount on this occasion. I venture to think that we do so because we live a great part of our life outside the highly refracting atmosphere of political Parties and approach this subject, therefore, simply from the point of view of what the Prime Minister called natural equity and the welfare of the masses of the people.

When we consider the Bill in this way, concentrating our attention on the noble Viscount's objection to it as set forth in the Amendment, for my own part I am led to this conclusion, that the Bill bestows a new title upon the trade. I think I heard one noble Lord on the Government Bench say that it did not bestow a new title, but surely the method of compensation proposed in the Bill as it stands converts an expectation, whatever that expectation may be worth, into a secure and perpetual vested interest, and if that does not constitute a new title, I am altogether unable to say what would do so. Seeing that this is the effect of the proposed method of compensation, I think we may fairly describe the Bill as amounting to a very wasteful, and, in fact, an amazing gift to the drink trade. I ask myself the question, which I am not able to answer, What has this drink trade done to deserve this highly-favoured and exceptional treatment? I do not believe there is any answer to this question. It is impossible when we approach this question, not as an academic question but as a question of practical politics, not to bear in mind that the present House of Commons has received no mandate to make this enormous gift to a particular trade; and I venture to express a doubt whether His Majesty's Government would dare to go to the country to get a mandate on the subject.

I am well aware that the Bill receives very different descriptions from different persons, that persons who approach it from different sides and look at different aspects of it give entirely contradictory descriptions of it. I hold in my hand a remarkable book which has lately been published on this Bill by two of the most dispassionate students of the drink question that we can find—Mr. Rowntree and Mr. Sherwell. I have no idea what their position is in ordinary politics; I think of them merely as dispassionate students of the drink question. The authors of this book claim to have examined the Bill in no narrow partisan spirit, recognising the urgency and grave national importance of the question it deals with; and the conclusion they arrive at is—and it is stated in words stronger than I myself would have ventured to use—that the public will not be a penny the better off for it. I think the figures quoted by my right rev. brother the Bi hop of London and by one or two other speakers support that assertion. Indeed, say Messrs. Rowntree and Sher-well, the nation will be in a far worse position in being deprived of the prospective source of national revenue which will be handed over as a reckless gift to the liquor trade; and they declare the proposals in the Bill so utterly indefensible that it seems incredible that they should have been embodied in a Government Bill.

I turn from these two students of the question to the Prime Minister, whose description of the Bill is that it is the "best measure of temperance reform that has ever passed the House." I take it that this description was quite seriously meant by the Prime Minister. He, no doubt, meant it as sincerely as I do the words I am uttering. It occurred, it is true, in a peroration, when sometimes the imagination takes a flight, but I accept it as seriously meant. In face of these contradictory descriptions I inquire into the genesis of the Bill. Who assisted at the birth of the Bill? The brewers! Who have been the most earnest promoters of the Bill in the other House? The brewers! By whose critical votes in one division after another have the provisions of this Bill been sent up to this House? Again, by the brewers! And who are the most whole-hearted supporters—indeed, I might almost say the only whole-hearted supporters—of the Bill in the country? Again I have to say, the brewers!

I confess I am filled with amazement when I hear the argument adduced that this is the greatest measure of temperance reform that has ever passed through the House of Commons. I cannot accept it as such in any real sense, and personally I should be quite content to leave it to be settled by the people in the constituencies when they re-enter into their constitutional rights on this and other social questions. Still we are face to face with the remarkable fact that whole classes of people conscientiously take such different views on the measure. We have Members on both sides equally in earnest, equally convinced that they are right and that others are wrong. It is a strange and curious circumstance. I do not know that I have ever seen such a direct antithesis of opinion in the course of my attention to public affairs. I may be entirely wrong, but I am brought to this conclusion in the matter, that some of us approach the question simply from what I may call the moral point of view, while others, from the habits and the circumstances of their lives, especially those who are engaged in Parliamentary life, approach the question mainly from the point of view of property. This, I take it, is what mainly accounts for the present trend of opinion in this House. Here we have the whole Bench of Bishops sympathising with the noble Viscount and ready to support his Amendment; we have the whole of the occupants of the Government Bench supporting the Bill and equally convinced that they are right.

Let me turn for the moment to consider one or two of the moral aspects of the question—the aspects that specially concern us whose business is more directly with the life of the people. In this regard I hold that the Bill errs both in the way of excess and of defect. We all of us feel that our first duty in any act of legislation is to be just. Legislation which is not based on justice is worthless legislation, if it is not mischievous. Looking at the matter from this point of view, I repeat that the Bill errs both in the way of excess and defect. It gives too much to the brewer, too little to the bona fide publican as distinct from the brewer, and nothing at all to the public. I dare say many of your Lordships are familiar with the phrase in which Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, who has also given a good deal of study to this question, summed up this Bill. He said, in an epigram not to be forgotten and more true than many epigrams, that this Bill puts the brewer on the bench, puts the justices in the dock, and puts the public out of Court.

I venture to repeat that the Bill gives too much to the brewer and too little to the publican. I notice that in many instances the publican will get not more than one year's compensation at the best. I take it most of us will agree that that is too little. I observe, in travelling about my diocese, that publicans are beginning to realise that they have been foolish Esaus and have sold their birthright of freedom to their more powerful brothers, the brewers, for a mess of pottage. I notice that this legislation—this great boon to the brewer—is beginning to raise in opposition a body of publicans who are not so closely allied to the brewer as is thought. There is undoubtedly a rift in the lute, and I think it is a growing rift.

I object to a perpetual endowment of a trade already unduly favoured and the less deserving of exceptional treatment because of late it has become a highly speculative trade. In my own city of Hereford at the time of the decision in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield" most of the publicans owned their own houses, but in the interval which has elapsed they have nearly all been bought up by one company after another. One great company, over-capitalised and very speculative, bought up I do not know how many of our free houses, some of them not houses of the first repute or of any particular value, and proceeded to rebuild several of them. When I asked the other day how they were prospering I found that this great company had sold all these houses but one to another company, and my fellow-citizens tell me that this trade has been going on just as if these houses had been shares in a South African mine. These companies came into Hereford after the decision in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield," and therefore knew the conditions under which they were purchasing. In the book which I have in my hand and to which I have already referred, there is a very striking illustration of the speculative character of this trade of late years. We are here told that three separate companies, the aggregate value of whose properties a few months prior to amalgamation was £3,389,000, suddenly amalgamated and then valued their properties at £8,593,000—an increase of over £5,000,000. Surely the claims for compensation will have to be very carefully considered if no more than justice is to be done. Of the 380 brewing companies which are mentioned in one of the official books on the subject, there were only fourteen in existence in 1883 and there were only forty-four in existence at the time when the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield," came up but, as I have said, there are now 380, and the money of these companies has been invested with full knowledge of the state of the law in this matter.

There is another reason why some of us are very much opposed to the perpetual endowment of this trade. I venture to think that if your Lordships could see the various gin palaces which I pass on my way to and from this House, if you could realise, as I realise day by day, the mischief they are doing to an indefinite number of people, if you could see the wreckage, as I see it, I venture to say you would not think so much of property, and more about the moral aspect of the question. At any rate, that is the effect which these sights have on my mind. In conclusion I desire to add one word of comment on some of the arguments so persistenly repeated. We were told at the outset that if the magistrates continued to act in the way they had been acting no persons of substance would be likely to engage in the trade, but now we are told that magistrates will not suppress licences because they cannot give compensation. I venture to think that these arguments are mutually destructive

Again the supporters of the Bill are never tired of repeating the fallacy that the proposed compensation will come out of the pocket of the publican, and the public will not pay a penny of it. But surely when this Bill becomes law, what the trade will have to pay will be as much a public tax as any other tax—only it will be ear-marked for a particular purpose; and there is no real common sense in saving that it comes out of the pockets of the trade, and not out of the pockets of the taxpaying public, because that argument goes entirely on the assumption that there is some sort of law of the Medes and Persians that you must not increase the duties which are being paid by the trade. I hope that amongst the things we shall see in the future will be the re-entering of the taxpaying public into the value of what is its own property, and from the possession of which it has been kept too long. I venture to hope that the Amendment will meet with a predominant amount of support in your Lordships' House, because I desire that the Bill may be so modified as not to block the way to all good temperance reform in the future. If the Bill becomes law in its present shape it will lock the door to progressive temperance reform and put the key in the pocket of the brewers.


My Lords, the lateness of the hour and the conditions of the temperature render me reluctant to occupy your Lordships' time for more than a very few minutes. I am also painfully conscious of the fact that the arguments which can be produced in support of, or in opposition to, this measure are limited in number, and that most of these arguments have been already freely used during the course of this debate, and I have not observed that either side has been deterred from producing their own arguments by the reflection that those arguments have already been demolished by their opponents.

This discussion has brought into relief certain points of difference, and it has also shown that up to a certain point there is a considerable amount of agreement on both sides of the House. To begin with, I believe, we are all in favour of a measure calculated to promote the cause of temperance, and although the proposals of the Government may not go so far as noble Lords opposite would wish, they will, I am convinced, give us credit for a sincere desire to subserve this great cause. Again, I gather from the speeches delivered that we all believe that a reduction in the number of licences is a step in the direction of temperance: that we all desire to see the process of reducing redundant licences accelerated by one means or another; and, so far as I have been able to observe the general feeling of the House, I assume that all of us hold that where a licensee is deprived of his licence, not for misconduct, but solely as a matter of public policy, he is entitled to some consideration, in respect of that of which he is deprived. Those are, in effect, the proposals on which the Bill is founded, and I am almost tempted to say that this discussion has a certain unreality about it, because I believe those principles are not disputed on the other side of the House.

It is complained that the process of reducing licences under this Bill will be too gradual, and, further, that the terms upon which it is proposed to get rid of them are too favourable to the licensees. With regard to the slow rate of reduction, the figures which were produced at the I outset of the debate by my noble friend behind me still hold the field. My noble friend was able to tell your Lordships that, under this Bill, a sum of, in round, figures, £1,250,000 would be annually 1 available for this purpose, and that with that expenditure there was a prospect of getting rid annually of something between 1,500 licences and 2,000 licences, instead of the few hundred licences which we have hitherto been successful in getting rid of. Surely no one will contend that that is a negligible contribution. We have to- night listened to an eloquent speech from the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, but I was quite unable to follow the figures in which the right rev. Prelate attempted to show that, so far as the city of London was concerned, this Bill would produce little or no effect. I understand that under this Bill £250,000 a year will be available for the purpose of extinguishing redundant licences in London, and that is a sum which obviously must produce a certain effect. It has to be remembered that the results of this expenditure will be in addition to the extinction of licences which is already in progress owing to the misconduct or bad behaviour of the licensees.

The real crux of the question, I suppose, is the basis upon which the compensation of the licensee is to be determined. I listened with great attention to what fell from the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition upon this question. The noble Earl was torn in two directions. He is by nature a just man, and he evidently desired to do justice to the class which will be affected by this legislation. On the other hand, throughout his observations there was perceptible a very distinct desire to get his hand into the pocket of the publican, and the noble Earl was apparently in some difficulty in determining which of these two opposing influences should prevail. He eventually got rid of the difficulty by making a very considerable admission; he told your Lordships that in his opinion these licence-holders were entitled to something when their licences were held to be redundant, and after mentioning several of the expressions which had been used to describe that something which the licensee was to receive, he proposed the word "indemnity" as a suitable description of what he intended. Now, the word "indemnity" is a far-reaching and significant word; I sought for a definition, and I find that what it means is— An undertaking or contract to make good to another a loss, or to protect him against liability. If, then, the noble Earl is prepared to give an indemnity to these licensees, I feel sure it will convey very great comfort to them. If I were a brewer I should ask for no more favourable terms.


Not in perpetuity.


I am corning to the question of perpetuity. While however the noble Earl was prepared to give the licensees an indemnity, he went on to object to allowing them to receive even the product of the insurance which they are to contribute out of their own pockets under this measure. He described it as a large gift. What a complete misapprehension that denotes! It is not a gift, large or small; it is a contribution which members of this trade are to provide out of their own pockets. Then the noble Earl told us we were creating a perpetuity. Sometimes it is a perpetuity, sometimes it is a freehold, sometimes it is an endowment. I do not very much care by what name you call it. The essential fact remains that these people have an interest which can be and has been expressed in terms of money. It is an interest which has passed from one man to another by inheritance, which has been sold by one man to another, and for which high compensation has been paid whenever the premises of the licenceholder have, for any public purpose, been disturbed. If that is so, and if you are to give the licence-holder whom you dispossess an indemnity, then I say that is our case, that is all we ask your Lordships to agree to in this Bill.

My noble friend Lord Crewe followed the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack into an analogy which the noble and learned Lord had used. But my noble friend Lord Crewe changed the venue, and spoke of the treatment which had been accorded by the Legislature to the Irish tenants. Now, my Lords, I venture to suggest that there is a somewhat remarkable similarity between the case of the Irish tenants and the case of these licence - holders. The licence - holders have spent money in equipping their premises for a particular purpose, and if you turn them out of those premises and compel the premises to be used for some other purpose, you admit that some compensation is due. That is very much the ground upon which the Legislature determined that compensation should be paid to the Irish tenants for their improvements. They had spent money on improving their holdings, and I think up to that point we are all of us quite ready to admit that they were entitled to compensation. But there is another reason for which we consider that these licensees are entitled to consideration. They have been given a monopoly value of their premises. The right rev. Prelate who spoke last asked what the trade had done in order to entitle them to such a recognition. My Lords, it is not what the trade has done. It is our action, the action of Parliament, the action of the magistrates, which has given these people what we speak of as the monopoly value of their premises, and in exactly the same way the Irish tenants obtained what I think Mr. Gladstone called the "pretium affectionis" of their holdings; that is, the monopoly value of the limited quantity of land available for cultivation in Ireland.

Now I come back to the interests of these licensees. Let us bear in mind that that interest is not one which is moribund or which dwindles with every year that passes. Whether you deprive the licensee of his licence this year or five years or ten years hence, his claim is the same. He has the same interest in his premises and the same right to be reasonably dealt with. That interest will certainly not have diminished during the interval, if during that interval you have been compelling him to put his hand into his own pocket and to contribute to an insurance fund out of which the members of the trade have received compensation.

I will not go at length at this hour into the question of the time limit, about which I have no doubt we shall hear a great deal in Committee. But I willingly concede this to the noble Lords who advocate a time limit—that its imposition would be one very obvious way of dealing with the question of compensation. If, however, you proceed by means of a time limit you must logically, while that time limit operates, give the tenant of the premises something like absolute security that he will not be interfered with. You must say to him, in fact, "We give you fourteen years certain tenure of your premises. Now make hay while the sun shines, and out of your profits you will be able to accumulate a reserve fund which will provide a reasonable indemnity when the time limit comes to an end." I do not know whether the advocates of temperance would have been very grateful to us if we had proposed a postponement of all interference with the licensee such as I have suggested, nor do I know how, if we were to proceed in that manner, when the time limit expired, you would make your selection between those licence-holders whom you proposed to get rid of and those who were to be left in the possession of their premises. But the idea of a time limit is inconsistent with the principle of this Bill. A time limit assumes that during the continuance of the time limit the licence-holder will enjoy a certain amount of immunity, but what kind of immunity would it be if, while the interval of time was running, you were all the while taking out of the pocket of the licensee the benevolences which will be exacted from him under this Bill as contributions to an insurance fund?

I wish to say one word with regard to the manner in which this Bill affects the magistrates. We have been told that the effect of the measure will be to oust the magistrates from a position which they have filled with success, and which they desire to retain. Is it really true that this Bill to any material extent deprives the magistrates of the power which they have hitherto enjoyed? I venture to maintain that if you make a sort of debit and credit account of that which the Bill takes away from the magistrates and that which it gives to them, you will find that, far from depriving the magistrates of their privileges, this Bill really increases their authority, and gives them opportunities of using their influence which they have not hitherto enjoyed. So far as the withdrawal of licences for misconduct is concerned, the power of the magistrates in brewster sessions remains unchanged. That to my mind disposes of some of the rather ill-considered statements to which I have listened during this debate to the effect that the Bill robs the magistrates of their disciplinary functions. That is not the case.

But when you come to the withdrawal of licences on the ground of redundancy, is it the case that the position of the magistrates is really impaired? Under the present law the brewster sessions refuse the renewal of licences and the licensees have an appeal to quarter sessions. Under this Bill the brewster sessions make a recommendation to the quarter sessions, and the quarter sessions decide, with the advice, no doubt, of the magistrates representing the local bench. It seems to me that the distinction between the treatment of licences refused for redundancy and of licences refused for misconduct is an eminently sound one, because when a local bench refuses licences on the ground of misconduct, the question which is to be determined is one of local fact, with which the local magistrates are eminently competent to deal; but when you come to withdraw a licence on the ground of redundancy, you at once enter into a larger question of policy, which quarter sessions are far better able to deal with. Moreover, for the purpose of compensation the smaller area would be altogether inappropriate.

But if in any of these points we have taken something away from the magistrates, this Bill is full of additions to the authority of the magistrates. Under this Bill magistrates are given for the first time the power of dealing with the ante-869 beerhouses—33,000 altogether, or one-third of the whole number. Then in the county boroughs we have transferred the jurisdiction from the quarter sessions to the local magistrates, and I believe that is a concession which is greatly appreciated by the magistrates belonging to the benches of these county boroughs; and, again, as to the non-county boroughs we associate with the quarter sessions magistrates belonging to the borough bench. Then, in addition to that, there are the very considerable powers granted to the magistrates in Clause 4 of the Bill, powers the addition of which have, I think, been welcomed by noble Lords opposite as well as on this side of the House. And, lastly, I must refer to one minor point which I do not think has been alluded to during the course of the debate—that is, the opportunity which is afforded to the magistrates under Clause 8 of the Bill. I do not know whether your Lordships have observed that under that clause it is provided that the magistrates may receive from a licensee a reasonable undertaking—I presume with regard to the alteration of the premises or their management—and that if such reasonable undertaking is received on the grant or renewal of a licence and the licensee fails to fulfil if, thereupon the justices may refuse the licence as if the licensee had been guilty of misconduct. That, it seems to me, gives to the magistrates an opportunity of, so to speak, establishing a hold upon these licensed premises which they have hitherto not been able to obtain. On the whole, therefore, I say that under the Bill magistrates, far from being ousted from their powers, really come out with very considerably enhanced and augmented powers.

I venture to think that the main counts in the indictment against this Bill have not been made good. It has not been proved that any perpetuity or endowment will be given to the trade, or that any interest is recognised which the trade does not now possess. It is wholly incorrect to say that there is anything whatever in the Bill to close the door against any larger scheme of reform should it hereafter be the desire of the Legislature that such a scheme should be introduced. My noble friend, Lord Grey, who may be regarded as knowing something of the scheme with which he is so honourably identified, told your Lordships that, in his opinion, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the adoption of his scheme, and what he said is equally true of any wider, more extensive, and far-reaching scheme that may hereafter be devised. When I heard the right rev.

Prelate who has just spoken tell the House that the proposals in the Bill originated with the brewers, and that to the best of his belief none but brewers were in favour of it, I felt that the right rev. Prelate was allowing his strong feelings in regard to the liquor trade to grievously distort his judgment. Not only has the Bill been supported by those whose interest in the cause of temperance is beyond suspicion, but the House has been told by Lord Cross that at the meeting of the Association of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, a body of men whose authority in regard to these questions is certainly unrivalled, there was only one voice raised in opposition to the Bill. Although the Bill may not be as imposing a measure as some noble Lords opposite desire, it is, nevertheless, a substantial step towards a diminution in the number of licences, which all who have given consideration to the question, from the Royal Commission presided over by the noble Viscount downwards, have regarded as an indispensable preliminary to any progress in temperance reform.

On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Motion." Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 142; Not-Contents, 47.

Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.) Ancaster, E. Morton, E.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) (L. President.) Bathurst, E. Onslow, E.
Cadogan, E. Rosslyn, E.
Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.) Camperdown, E. Saint Germans, E.
Carnwath, E. Scarbrough, E.
Argyll, D. Cawdor, E. Selborne, E.
Marlborough, D. Chichester, E. Shrewsbury, E.
Northumberland, D. Dartrey, E. Stanhope, E.
Richmond, D. Denbigh, E. Tankerville, E.
Wellington, D. Derby, E. Verulam, E.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.), Waldegave, E. [Teller.]
Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.) Wharncliffe, E.
Abergavenny, M. Drogheda, E. Yarborough, E.
Ailesbury, M. Eldon, E.
Bath, M. Feversham, E. Churchill, V. [Teller.]
Bristol, M. Fitzwilliam, E. Colville of Culross, V.
Camden, M. Grey, E. Cross, V.
Cholmondeley, M. Haddington, E. Falmouth, V.
Exeter, M. Hardwicke, F. Halitax, V.
Hertford, M. Howe, E. Hood, V.
Lansdowne, M. Kilmorey, E. Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)
Winchester, M. Lathom, E.
Zetland, M. Lauderdale, E. Knutsford, V.
Leven and Melville, E. Sidmouth, V.
Pembrokeand Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.) Londesborough, E.
Lucan, E. Addington, L.
Lytton, E. Allerton, L.
Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain.) Malmesbury, E. Amhurst of Hackney, L.
Mayo, E. Armstrong, L.
Ashbourne, L. Forester, L. Rathmore, L.
Barnard, L. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) Ravensworth, L.
Belper, L. Glanusk, L. Redesdale, L.
Biddulph, L. Glenesk, L. Robertson, L.
Bolton, L. Hampton, L. Rosmead, L.
Broderick, L. (V. Midleton.) Harris, L. Rossmore, L.
Burnham, L. Hatherton, L. Rothschild, L.
Burton, L. Hylton, L. St. Oswald, L.
Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.) Kenyon, L. Scarsdale, L.
Cheylesmore, L. Killanin, L. Sherborne, L.
Clonbrock, L. Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.) Sinclair, L.
Cloncurry, L. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.) Stalbridge, L.
Colchester, L. Lawrence, L. Suffield, L.
Cottesloe, L. Lindley, L. Tredegar, L.
Crawshaw, L. Macnaghten, L. Ventry, L.
De L'Isle and Dudley, L. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly) Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)
Digby, L. Methuen, L. Wenlock, L.
Dunboyne, L. Monckton, L. (V. Galway.) Westbury, L.
Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.) Montagu of Beaulieu, L. Windsor, L.
Ellenborough, L. Muncaster, L. Wolverton, L.
Estcourt, L. Newton, L. Wynford, L.
Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.) O'Neill, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Canterbury, L. Abp. Gordon, V, (E. Aberdeen) Coleridge, L.
Hampden, V. Davey, L.
Northampton, M. Peel, V. Denman, L. [Teller.]
Ripon, M. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Bath and Wells, L. Pp. Farrer, L.
Beauchamp, E. Durham, L. Bp. Hawkesbury, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Hereford, L. Bp. Kinnaird, L.
Carlisle, E. London, L. Bp. Lyveden, L.
Carrington, E. Norwich, L. Bp. Monkswell, L.
Chesterfield, E. [Teller.] Peterborough, L. Bp. O'Hagan, L.
Crewe, E. Ripon, L. Bp. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Durham, E. St. Albans, L. Bp. Sandhurst, L.
Kimberley, E. St. Asaph, L. Bp. Shuttleworth, L.
Northbrook, E. St. David's, L. Bp. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Port mouth, E. Stanmore, L.
Spencer, E. Annaly, L. Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)
Temple, E. Burghclere, L. Welby, L.