§ House in Committee (according to order).
§ Clause 1:—
§ LORD COLERIDGE
explained that Subsection (1) of Clause 1 provided that—The power to refuse the renewal of an existing on-licence, on any ground other than the 849 ground that the licensed premises have been ill-conducted or are structurally deficient or unsuitable, or grounds connected with the character of fitness of the proposed holder of the licence, or the ground that the renewal would be void, shall be vested in quarter sessions instead of the justices of the licensing district, but shall only be exercised on a reference from those justices, and on payment of compensation in accordance with this Act.He moved to amend Sub-section (1) by inserting after "The power to refuse the renewal of an existing on-licence," the words "other than a licence, the holder of which is under an agreement to purchase any of the commodities or goods which he sells or uses from or to deal with any particular person, firm, corporation, or company." He hoped the House would not be alarmed at the apparently far-reaching nature of the Amendment. At first sight the Amendment would appear as though it prevented compensation to all tied houses. He did not think that if the Amendment were passed that would be its practical effect. He thought its practical effect would be to put pressure on the owners of tied houses to place their tenants in such an independent position as to enable them to claim the benefits under the Act by way of compensation, and, therefore, it would indirectly, he thought, produce a great deal of good. He did not think people were generally aware of the extent to which the law declined to recognise anyone in the matter other than the licence-holder. The latter was the man recognised as the licensed person, and so far was he recognised, and alone recognised, as the person responsible that, for instance, in an extreme case of a licence-holder being convicted of an offence under the licensing' laws, the owner of the house was not permitted to appeal against that conviction, although the conviction might imperil the licence, on the ground that he was not the person aggrieved. The law looked only to the licence -holder.
Under that law a system had grown up of putting in men who obtained the annual licence who were mere caretakers to the brewery company which owned the house. He had had experience of looking into the agreements come to between brewers and publicans, and very often it was found that the rent was a high one reducible to practically nil if all the beer, 850 spirits, and other commodities were purchased at a particular brewery. Or, again. they had the case of a licence-holder being required to sign a blank transfer which enabled the brewery company to get rid of him at any moment, and the result of that was this, that for that person, that mere caretaker, that mere bird of passage the licensing justices had no terrors. He had so little interest in it that he did not take the same care to conduct his house well as a man who was more independent. There was in the persons selling liquor the natural desire to profit by the liquor which they sold, but the temptation to the manager or caretaker of a tied house was great, and the pressure put upon him to sell an excessive quantity of drink was far greater than the natural pressure of trade competition upon a more independent person. The result of that was disastrous to the community, because it encouraged the tied-house manager to adopt all kinds of devices in order to satisfy the brewer.
He knew from constant experience that again and again respectable managers were turned out because they had not pushed the trade sufficiently to satisfy the owners. That was a mischievous and disastrous system, and anything that directly or indirectly checked it ought to be welcomed by all lovers of sobriety. He did not believe that if his Amendment were adopted it would affect all brewery companies alike, but he ventured to think that a great many brewery companies would be delighted at it. They had been forced into the position in which they found themselves by trade competition, and many of them would much rather be rid of it, and would, he believed, look gratefully on any legislation which would deprive them of that trade competition which resulted in these evils. His Amendment was in the interest of temperance, and he did not believe against the interests of brewers.
The Minority Report of the Royal Commission spoke most strongly on the subject of the tied-house system. It was said that the general effect of this system was to push the trade and sale of liquor to the utmost; and the Report gave this most cogent instance, that no tied-house manager ever applied for a six-days licence because he was not permitted to. 851 What a comment that was upon this system. An independent licence-holder could and did constantly get his Sundays to himself by securing a six-days licence, but the wretched manager of the tied-house could not do that. Both the Majority Report and the Minority Report thought that the agreements should always be produced on application for transfers, and before a new licence was granted, and that it should be left to the licensing authority to say whether the terms were such as to warrant refusal of the licence. He was by his Amendment putting into the hands of the new licensing authority that power, with this weapon at the back of it, that if the terms were such as to warrant the refusal of the transfer such terms ought to be sufficient to warrant the refusal of compensation. He did not think the Amendment had a far-reaching scope, and was convinced that matters would very soon adjust themselves to the new conditions.
In page 1, line 6, after the word 'licence' to insert the words 'other than a licence, the holder of which is under an agreement to purchase any of the commodities or goods which he sells or uses from or to deal with any particular person, firm, corporation, or company.'"—(Lord Coleridge.)
§ LORD BELPER
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord accompanied the remarks which he made on his Amendment by the statement that he did not think it would have the effect of excluding all the tied houses from getting compensation under the Bill. He founds that proposition on the idea that some of them, at all events, would be willing to fall in with the wish of the Legislature, and, no doubt, in order to avoid losing all their compensation might be inclined to do what they could; but I must point out that the whole object that the brewers have had in giving very large competitive prices for the houses is to have those houses under their control and sell the liquor which they brew themselves. I do not say that that is a good state of things or a bad state of things, but what I do say is that Parliament has known for years what has been going on. They have taken no action whatever to interfere with it, and they have at all events by their silence, and by the fact that they have not made this illegal, allowed the 852 brewers to get control of the very large number of houses now in their hands. If this Amendment was carried, I venture to say it would destroy the whole of that part of the Bill which deals with the existing houses.
The tied houses are, numerically, something between 80 to 90 per cent. of the whole number of houses, and if that number were withdrawn from the operation of the compensation clauses, I really do not see how those clauses could be effective at all. I should like to say one word, although I do not think it is absolutely material to the Amendment, with regard to tied houses. The noble and learned Lord, in moving his Amendment, alluded to the Report of the Licensing Commission. He referred not only to the Minority Report, but also to the Majority Report. Now, what does the Majority Report say with regard to the tied-house system? It says—The evidence produced before us, in our judgment, shows that under a good and careful brewer it may operate advantageously and produce excellent results. On the other hand, it is no doubt true that under less advantageous circumstances it may have a contrary effect.And it goes on to say that—Evidence has been given before us proving that it can be so operated as to be very successful from the point of view of public order. Under a careful brewer it may, owing to the greater power of selection of men, produce better results than the tenancy plan, and the limited interest of the manager in the sales commends itself to many.They also stated in another part of the Report that the evidence as to tied houses did not justify the statement that the tied-house system leads to more drinking. It is quite true that the Minority Report takes a somewhat different view. Their conclusion is that the general effect of the tied-house system is to push the trade in liquor, it being impossible to lay down any other general statement. I must say that if the Amendment is founded purely on the ground of the great evil of these tied houses, I do not think the extracts I have read from the Majority Report, at all events, would justify such a very stringent step as to shut them out altogether from all compensation.
Just consider what the effect would be if this Amendment were carried. I 853 take it that if they are to have no compensation they could not be called upon to contribute to a compensation fund, and if that is the case the compensation fund would be enormously diminished. If that was not done, and they were called upon to contribute to a compensation fund from which they would get nothing at all, that, in my opinion, would be nothing short of pure injustice. And if they are not going to contribute, what will be the result? The object in view in bringing in this Bill is not simply the interest of the brewer and the licence-holder, but of the public. It is generally admitted on both sides of the House that the only way in which we can get the magistrates to act to the full extent of their powers and reduce materially the number of public-houses is by setting up some fund of compensation under which they shall receive some value for the houses that are done away with, and if the tied houses are to receive nothing and the other houses are to receive compensation, it seems to me that the result will be very much like what we are trying to avoid by this Bill. For the magistrates, when the question arises as to what houses they should do away with, will naturally feel that it is rather hard to do away with houses that are going to receive no compensation. The tendency will therefore be to do away with the other houses, and, therefore, by the Bill you will actually be putting some premium on the possession of tied houses, and will give thorn rather more security under the Bill than they would otherwise have. I do think that that is an important point even from the noble and learned Lord's point of view.
I venture to think that the question is not merely one of whether the tied-house system is a good system or a bad one. The Legislature have allowed this state of things to go on. Brewers and others have no doubt paid enormous sums of money to secure these houses, because they have thought it worth their while to do so, and to say that those who are under a system which you dislike and of which you disapprove are therefore not to receive a return for the money which they have invested, seems to me to be something like pure spoliation. In these circumstances, and seeing that it would strike a fatal blow to the successful 854 working of this measure, I hope your Lordships will not accept the noble Lord's Amendment.
§ *EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I referred in my speech on the Second Reading of this Bill to the question of tied houses, and I then stated that I objected extremely to the system which had grown up, and which I thought was a very great evil in the country. Not only does it enhance and drive up by competition the value of the houses to an abnormal and unnatural figure, but it has also the effect of taking away the independence of the publican, who is really the most important man in regard to the keeping of the house in an orderly and respectable manner. Several of us ventured to quote figures to show the exorbitant prices which houses had run up to. Surely that is a great evil. I venture to think it is also a great evil politically that there should be set up in all towns and village this organisation controlled from a centre. I admit that it would be enormously difficult to deal wholesale with tied houses, My noble and learned friend explained that his object in moving this Amendment was only indirectly to bring pressure on tied houses and to obtain the greater independence of their tenants.
I confess I should rather hesitate to vote for any measure directly and positively forbidding tied houses. Privately, I should desire it very much; but I do not think it could be done, at any rate in this Bill. If noble Lords opposite consider that my noble and learned friend's Amendment goes further than the noble and learned Lord has stated, surely it would be possible to amend it. I desire to see something done to set up the old independence among publicans which I knew when I was a young man. If publicans were restored to an independent position, it would, I think, lead to a much healthier and better state of things from the point of view of public morality. The fact that in 80 or 90 per cent. of the public-houses throughout the country the publicans who manage them are forbidden to have a six-days licence is in itself a gigantic evil, and one that ought to be remedied. If my noble friend's Amendment would go in that direction, I should rejoice; if is thought that it would go further, perhaps the noble 855 Lord in charge of the Bill may see his way to amend it.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
My Lords, the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition has given a very half-hearted support to the Amendment. He is evidently quite conscious that it goes a great deal further than he himself would be prepared to support.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Earl said he would not be inclined to support any alteration in the law winch would altogether forbid tied houses.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If we are not prepared to do a thing directly, we should, I think, shrink from doing it indirectly. I ask your Lordships to have the courage of your convictions. If you think tied houses are a mistake, proper legislation might be brought in to put an end to them if adequate compensation were provided; but to place tied houses in a worse position in this Bill than the other houses, which is the object of the noble and learned Lord's Amendment, would be, in my opinion, indefensible. I have another objection to the Amendment. The noble and learned Lord himself said he doubted whether it would be as far-reaching as it appeared at first sight. I suggest that the noble and learned Lord would have the greatest difficulty in working his Amendment at all. It is almost impossible to prevent an arrangement being come to by both parties where both pa ties are willing, and you would be exposed, if you agreed to this Amendment, to all sorts of collusive and colorable arrangements, under which almost the same system would continue as at present. The law takes no cognisance at all of the 856 relations between the brewer and the publican. We ought not to interfere with contracts which free Englishmen enter into, and which have existed under the protection and authority of Parliament for so many years.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER
said that though he was not able to support the Amendment he thought the discussion upon it had brought out a point which they ought to keep well in mind when they came to consider the scale of compensation. What had been said might very well be turned against the tied-house system. They had been warned that this Amendment might lead to collusion on the part of the persons concerned. Had there ever been an instance of the introduction of a vast system into the country which had been more underhand and surreptitious than the introduction of the tied-house system? It certainly could not claim to have come upon the country in a straightforward manner. He thought that character of the tied-house system ought to be kept very carefully before them. It had never been his custom to say one word in disparagement of brewers or publicans, but when they dealt with this particular system they were bound to look at it in its true character, and his contention was that when they came to consider, for example, one or two of the Amendments which were on the Paper, which dealt with the scale of compensation, they ought to consider what kind of trade it was that they were about to compensate, and ought to limit the amount of compensation accordingly in the interests of the public.
If a man desiring refreshment went into a public-house which was a tied house his freedom in the choice of liquor was limited, and in this matter the liberty of the public, as well as that of other individuals, ought to be taken into account. He did not blame the brewers or the publicans for organising themselves to defend their interests, but at the same time he held that it was a public danger and mischief that there should be such an organisation holding Parliament almost inthralled, as it undoubtedly did. It was radically unsound in a variety of ways that they should have the wholesale trade acting as the motive and driving 857 power of the retail trade, urging it on to sell the maximum of spirituous liquor that it possibly could. Parliament should not practically bar all efforts at radical reform of the liquor traffic later on by now building up so big a financial barrier. He hoped the question of the scale of compensation would be considered with an open mind, and with a single eye to what ought to be their predominant consideration—the welfare of the people.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
regretted that the noble Marquess the Lord Privy Seal had not said one word in the course of his remarks which tended to show that he had the slightest feeling with regard to the many evils attached to the tied-house system. The noble Marquess might have objected to the noble and learned Lord's Amendment; he might have proposed an Amendment to that Amendment, or he might have advised the House to reject it altogether, but there was no reason why, if the noble Marquess and His Majesty's Government had any conception of the evils attached to the tied-house system, there should have been no acknowledgment of their existence.
He entirely agreed with what was said by the right rev. Prelate who had just sat down as to the great financial operations which had been carried on of late years. The result of those operations had been to place practically almost the whole business in public-houses throughout the country in the hands of a great and wealthy combination. That, he humbly submitted, was a very grievous evil. He saw it growing up in other countries as well as here. Here they had, he rejoiced to think, only one trade of that kind to deal with, and they had had plenty of proof within the last few days of the power and influence of that trade. But in other countries, and especially in the United States of America, these vast combinations, these great trusts, grew up and increased day by day. They exercised an immense influence on politics—aye, and a corrupting influence, and he did think it was a very great evil indeed that needless countenance should be given to the existence of a body of that kind in this country. If there had been any acknowledgment on the part of His Majesty's Government that such an evil did exist 858 and that it was in the public interest that it should be restricted, he would not have troubled their Lordships; but he did feel so exceedingly strongly upon that point, and felt so greatly the immense evils of these vast trusts, that he could not avoid entering a protest against the omission of any observations on that subject in the speech of the noble Marquess. There were some people in this country who desired to pursue a fiscal policy which would increase the number of these powerful trade combinations, and which would tend to bring them into still closer intercourse with our public life. What they saw before them to-day of the influence of the brewery companies in this country was ample reason to make them pause. One such example was quite enough.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
, though he sympathised with the noble and learned Lord in his desire, if possible, to abolish the evils of the tied-house system, yet did not like the indirect attack upon that system contained in the Amendment. Entirely agreeing that evils did exist, he protested against the remark which had been made by the noble Marquess that a contract between a brewery or distillery company and the man who took a licence was a contract made between two free people. He quite recognised that as long as brewery companies were willing to lend, and poor men were willing to borrow, so long would the tied-house system exist. The only thing the Legislature could do was to aim at it in this way: The licensing magistrates before whom the applicant came should be at liberty to inquire in what terms that man stood towards the brewery or distillery company which had put him into the house, and whether there was anything in the contract as to the terms on which the licence-holder should take liquor from a particular house. If the contract provided that the man should be capable of being turned out at short notice, that was a direct violation of the terms on which the State granted the licence. For himself, he would like to see power given to magistrates to enable them to do away with the contract, if it militated against public policy, no matter what power was at the back of the licence-holder. That was, he thought, a better way of dealing with the 859 matter than that proposed in the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
said the noble Lord in charge of the Bill had stated that the result of the acceptance of the Amendment would be to deny compensation to 80 per cent. of the trade, and that it would invalidate and make foolish the whole of the financial proposals of the Bill. The noble Marquess the Lord Privy Seal, on the other hand, said it would be entirely inoperative, and would have no effect because of collusive arrangements. It was difficult for him to answer those arguments, because they were mutually destructive. He felt that there was a great deal in what had been said by the right rev. Prelate, and that this was not the part of the Bill in which a remedy could be most easily applied. He would, therefore, not trouble the House to go to a division.
§ Amendment, by leave of the Committee, withdrawn.
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
moved an Amendment to provide that the renewal of a licence should not be refused on the ground that the premises were structurally deficient or unsuitable unless the magistrates had previously made an order for alterations which had not been complied with. He said that under the clause as it stood the renewal of a licence might be refused because the premises were structurally unsuitable, but there was no provision by which the licence-holder should be acquainted with the fact that his premises were structurally deficient. It seemed strange that a man should lose his licence on this ground when he was not in the least aware, when applying for a renewal of his licence, that his house was structurally deficient. To remove this doubt, which he thought might lead to great injustice, he proposed to add the words that this should not apply unless the applicant had received an order calling upon him to effect structural alterations and had failed to comply with that order.
In page, 1, line 7, to leave out from the first word 'or' to the first word 'or' in line 8, and insert the words 'that the applicant has failed to comply with an order for structural alteration
under Section 11, Sub-section (4), of the Licensing Act, 1902.'"—(The Earl of Wemyss.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am sure the noble Earl was too modest to recognise the reason of the cheers which greeted him on his rising to move the Amendment standing in his name, and I respectfully desire to join in the congratulations of noble Lords on the auspicious occasion of the noble Earl's birthday. I wish I could supplement that observation by a cordial consent to the Amendment of my noble friend, but I think your Lordships will agree that the Amendment is one which should not be accepted. In the first place, the Act to which my noble friend refers—the Act of 1902—only provides for structural alteration, and does not make a provision in case of complete unsuitability, whereas the words which are in the Bill, and which my noble friend proposes to strike out, prevent the licensee whose premises are altogether unsuitable being within the category of those who cannot be suppressed without compensation; these-fore, the procedure which my noble friend proposes to substitute is not in any way equivalent to the procedure which he proposes to strike out, inasmuch as in our Bill unsuitability is dealt with, whereas in the Act of 1902 only structural deficiency is provided for. That is one reason.
Another reason why I cannot accept the Amendment is that in the Act of 1902 the procedure is very cumbrous. The warning that structural alterations are to be made is subject to appeal, and that, of course, may take up a long time. But the main reason why the Government are un willing to accept this Amendment is this: The effect of the clause is to prevent a licence being suppressed without compensation except on certain specified grounds. The real question is, Is structural deficiency one of those specified grounds which ought to entitle a man to compensation? and we think it is not. It stands on precisely the same footing as the unfitness of the licensee himself. In order that he shall be entitled to receive compensation if his licence is suppressed, he ought to be thoroughly himself, and his premises ought to be word thoroughly fit. The Government are unable to accept the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
then moved to insert the word "structurally" before the word "unsuitable" so as to make the sentence read, "are structurally deficient or structurally unsuitable." He said the Amendment was merely a drafting one. As the words stood in the Bill there was a little doubt whether the adverb applied to "unsuitable" as well as to "deficient." That was the intention of the Government, and some kind of understanding had been come to in the other House that it should be made clear. He therefore moved the Amendment standing in his name.
In page 1, line 7, after the second word 'or' to insert the word 'structurally.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
asked how this Amendment affected the question of police supervision. It would not protect the public-against the possibility of public-house premises existing which were not suitable for police supervision.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There is no question of preserving any public-house which ought to be suppressed, but certain public-houses ought to receive compensation when they are suppressed. We hold that if they are structurally unsuitable they ought not to receive compensation when suppressed. The case the noble Earl has put comes
§ within those which ought to receive compensation. The fact that there does not happen to be a police station near a public-house is no reason why the house should be abolished.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said a building might be unsuitable for the purpose of a public-house although the actual building in itself might be structurally suitable. A public-house, for instance, in a place where there was no light and the access to which was through a back alley was certainly structurally unsuitable, though the structural unsuitability did not attach to the actual building. It seemed to him unreasonable to assert that with a limited compensation fund they were to give compensation in respect of premises which were unfit to be kept in existence because of their position and surroundings.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
thought that if the word "structurally" was added before "unsuitable," it would do away with the glimmer of hope that the clause might cover an insanitary place. He was advised that the word "structurally" would not cover a building which was insanitary. It seemed to him badly drafted if that was so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There is no such doubt as the noble Marquess anticipates. The drains are part of the structure.
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Contents, 124; Not-Contents, 38.863
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Zetland, M.||Lathom E.|
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor)||Londesborough, E.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry)(L. President)||Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward)||Lytton, E.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal)||Clarendon, E. (L.Chamberlain)||Mayo, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Northesk, E.|
|Argyll, D.||Bradford, E.||Onslow, E.|
|Grafton, D.||Cadogan, E.||Rosslyn, E.|
|Marlborough, D.||Coventry, E.||Saint Germans, E.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Cromer, E.||Selborne, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Dartmouth, E.||Stanhope, E.|
|Derby, E.||Tankerville, E.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn)||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry)||Waldegrave, E.[Teller]|
|Ailesbury, M.||Westmeath, E.|
|Bath, M.||Drogheda, E.||Yarborough, E.|
|Camden, M.||Eldon, E.|
|Exeter, M.||Feversham, E.||Churchill, V. [Teller]|
|Hertford, M.||Haddington, E.||Colville of Culross, V.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Hardwicke, E.||Cross, V.|
|Winchester, M.||Kimberley, E.||Falmouth, V.|
|Halifax, V.||Clonbrock, L.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Hood, V.||Cloncurry, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham)|
|Hutchinson, V.(E. Donoughmore,||Colchester, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Knutsford, V.||Cottesloe, L.||Newton, L.|
|Sidmouth, V.||Crawshaw, L.||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Deramore, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Landaff, L. Bp.||Dunboyne, L||Rathmore, L.|
|Ripon, L. Bp.||Ellenborough, L.||Ravensworth, L,|
|Estcourt, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Alington, L.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow)||Redesdale, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingal)||Robertson, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Glanusk, L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Armstrong, L.||Glenesk, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Hampton, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Balfour, L. [Teller]||Harris, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Barnard, L.||Hatherton, L||Tredegar, L.|
|Bellew, L.||Hylton, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Belper, L.||James, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss)|
|Bolton, L.||Kenyon, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Braye, L.||killanin, L||Windsor, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton)||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Errol)||Wolverton, L.|
|Burnham, L.||Kinnaird, L||Wynford, L.|
|Burton, L.||Kintore, L.(E. Kintore)||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Chaworth, L. (E. Meath)||Lawrence, L.|
|Cheylesmore, L.||Lindley, L|
|Ripon, M.||Peel, V.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine)|
|Camperdown, E.||Bath and Wells, L. Bp.||Farrer, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||Hereford, L. Bp.||Lyveden, L.|
|Carrington, E.||London, L. Bp.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly)|
|Chesterfield, E. [Teller]||Peterborough, L. Bp.||Monkswell, L.|
|Crewe, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Grey, E.||St. David's, L. Bp.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery)|
|Portsmouth, E.||Biddulph, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Brassey, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Temple, E.||Burghclere, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Coleridge, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran)|
|Cobham, V.||Davey, L.||Thring, L.|
|Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen)||Denman, L. [Teller]||Welby, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
moved as an Amendment to omit the provision by which the power to refuse a licence on the ground of non-requirement should only be exercised by quarter sessions "on a reference from the justices" of the licensing district. This Bill abolished the authority of brewster sessions to close public-houses in all cases except for misconduct or structural insufficiency, and brewster sessions were left in the position of being entitled only to make representations. He held that it was important that it should be possible for the Court of first instance to have its attention called to districts where the local bench might not be in favour of a reduction in the number of licences. They had been told in the course of the speeches on the Second Reading that the great advantage of this clause was that it substituted the dispassionate, wide intelligence of quarter 864 sessions for the possible fanaticism and eccentricity of brewster sessions, who, it seemed to be suggested, might possibly be temperance cranks. He thought it quite as possible that there might he alcoholic cranks. There were cases where the local justices were so completely in sympathy with the publican interest that they took no initiative to reduce the number of public-houses at all. He thought, therefore, that it was necessary that in these sweeping changes, which greatly diminished the power of closing public-houses, they should give this initiative to the body in whom the Government had displayed so much confidence. He had never set up brewster sessions as an idol of worship, and was not now knocking it down. Personally, if he was to have an idol to worship, he would have something more popular and more representative than brewster sessions. But it was one thing to have a body which was 865 not satisfactory, and another thing to have a body with less power and less efficiency substituted for it. He believed that the existing law was less imperfect than that which the Government proposed to substitute for it. The only thing he asked was that where brewster sessions were torpid quarter sessions should be able by representations to deal with the matter. He wanted the people who felt they were oppressed by an excessive number of public-houses to be able to bring the matter before quarter sessions, whether those locally in charge were with them or not.
In page 1, lines 11 and 12, to leave out the words 'on a reference from those justices and'"—(Lord Stanley of Alderley.)
*THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (The Earl of ONSLOW)
My Lords, I confess I am rather surprised to hear the line of argument adopted by the noble Lord who has just sat down proceeding from that side of the House. The last time I had the honour of addressing your Lordships I endeavoured to persuade noble Lords opposite that it was not the intention of His Majesty's Government to do anything to impair the authority or the discretion of licensing justices in brewster sessions assembled. I think it has been said more than once on that side of the House that nobody can possibly be better acquainted with the requirements of the locality than a petty sessional bench, and certainly I think it would be very undesirable that we should make so great a change in the existing law and practice as is proposed by the noble Lord. The whole idea and object of the Government has been to keep the existing law and practice as closely as possible to what it is at present. The changes that are made in the law are simply made in order to carry out the principle of compensation or indemnity, and in order that a body like quarter sessions, covering, as it does, a very large area, may have at its disposal a fund sufficient to effect a large measure of compensation. The noble Lord opposite seems to forget that in his hypothetical area, where the local magistrates are all the creatures and the tools of the, brewer and the publicans—
*THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Even where the majority are there will always be the right of the individual objecting to a renewal to appear before the licensing justices and bring all his efforts to bear to get the renewal of the licence included in the category of those to be represented to quarter sessions. I am sorry I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
said he did not read the Amendment of his noble friend quite in the same way as the noble Earl had read it. He believed that it would remedy one of the defects in the machinery of the Bill which he (Lord Burghclere) called attention to on the Second Reading. As he understood the Amendment, it brought in the opinion of the inhabitants of the locality, and, therefore, instead of limiting the force of local opinion the Amendment absolutely strengthened it. The noble Earl had said that under the Bill the inhabitants of a district would be able to bring pressure upon brewster sessions, and brewster sessions would then report to quarter sessions as indicated under the Bill. Might he ask in what part of the Bill that provision came in?
*THE EARL OF ONSLOW
If I said that was so under the Bill, it was a slip of the tongue. I meant by the existing law as it stood.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
said that was his point. Was he to understand that, notwithstanding this Bill, and notwithstanding the distinct alteration of the law with regard to the renewal of licences by brewster sessions, the existing law so far operated that the inhabitants of a locality were able to bring a matter before brewster sessions exactly in the same manner as under the existing law? If that was so, it removed some of his objections; but he still supported the Amendment for the reason he had stated. If they were going to give these powers to quarter sessions they ought also to give quarter sessions power to themselves initiate the non-renewal of the licences of certain public-houses. There might be a local bench opposed, for some reason or 867 another, to the non-renewal of the licences of certain superfluous houses. Parliament should, therefore, add to the wider power of quarter sessions the power of initiative, which, he thought, ought to have been given in the Bill. That was the intention of the Amendment, and he thought it so desirable that if his noble friend went to a division he would support him.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
asked whether he correctly understood the noble Earl to say that any man who objected could bring his objection before quarter sessions.
§ LORD BELPER
Under the Bill the initiatory power is given to the local authority. If I have heard criticism with regard to what the Government has done in this matter it is not that they have not trusted the local bench enough, but that they have not left in their hands the whole of the powers they previously possessed. We think that if a scheme is to be brought up for dealing with licences within a district it ought to be brought up by the local bench, who know the circumstances, and then quarter sessions will act on their suggestions. We do not think that you ought to so far distrust the local bench as to give quarter sessions the power of bringing forward proposals for the reduction of licences in cases where the local bench do not think reductions necessary. In that we are carrying out what is the principle of the Bill. We wish to give all discretion to the local bench to initiate these proposals and to deal with them by making their recommendations to quarter sessions; but, of course, it is clear that quarter sessions must have the power of dealing with them finally, because it may be part of the scheme for a whole county which they will have to decide. We are not prepared to accept an Amendment which will give initiatory powers to quarter sessions.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
said the answer of the noble Lord was exceedingly clear, so far as it went, but it did not give, in answer to the question of his noble friend behind him, ally further explanation of what was said by the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. What they wanted to 868 know was, who were the persons who, independently of brewster sessions, were to bring these cases before the licensing committee, as stated by the noble Earl.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
asked whether, as the Bill stood, a reference from the justices included a reference by a minority of the justices.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
asked whether, if it only included a reference of the majority of the justices, it did not constitute a very strong argument in favour of the Amendment. The Bill took away the power of positive action on the part of the licensing justices, but it left them a veto as against the opinion of the neighbourhood, if they themselves wished to do nothing.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I hope your Lordships will not press this to a division. Let the House remember that there is only a limited sum of compensation money available. I do not know, of course, and it would be presumptuous in me to foreshadow, what procedure the committee of quarter sessions will adopt; but, for example, let us say that they will allot their compensation money roughly according to the population of the various petty sessional districts which they have under their jurisdiction. Well, what it will amount to in that case is that there will be a certain sum of money available for dealing with public-houses in a particular petty sessional district. The justices of that petty sessional district are, we will say, an energetic body of men devoted to temperance form. They have gone very carefully through their district, and propose to rearrange the distribution of licences according to a plan of their own. If that be their wish, then to have quarter sessions coming down suddenly in the middle of it and saying, "Oh, no! We are not going to wait for your recommendations; we do not approve of your scheme; we will not even consider it; we will come down on our own account and deal with what licences we think fit in your petty sessional district." I think that would be superseding the local justices; and noble Lords will feel that that would 869 be a very serious interference with the proper right, as we think, of brewster sessions to have their complete recommendations put before quarter sessions before they act. That is what the Bill provides, and if your Lordships will read the latter part of the clause you will see that we propose that obligation shall be laid on quarter sessions to consider all the reports which reach them before they come to any decision. Our idea is that each brewster sessions should send up their full recommendations, and then quarter sessions should decide; but if the Amendment is approved there will be no security of that. You will have quarter sessions using up the compensation money without considering the wishes of the local authority, and that will defeat the principle of the Bill which we are deeply pledged to in the House of Commons.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said the statement of the noble Marquess seemed to him to be rather a serious one. He gathered from it that the compensation money which was given to the county would probably be distributed by quarter sessions among the different petty sessional divisions of the county.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Marquess. I did not say that at all; but in order to bring my point clearly before the House it was necessary to give a concrete example
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said he certainly misunderstood the noble Marquess. He was going to say that that was only aggravating the difficulty which many of them thought existed in the Bill as it stood. It would have been very much better, instead of tying up compensation money in different counties, if it had been made national compensation money. The effect of the arrangement the Bill proposed would be, no doubt, to prevent many large cities, where a diminution in the number of licences was extremely desirable and desired by everybody, from spending as much money as they might if the arrangement was a national one. At the same time there would be many counties not needing the whole of the compensation money 870 who would be piling up balances which might be most usefully employed in the larger towns.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said he was glad the noble Marquess agreed with that, and that his mistake had elicited that statement from the noble Marquess.
§ THE EARL OF CARLISLE
said there was a precedent for the Amendment. The licensing committee of the county of Surrey drew the attention of the Farnham magistrates to the congestion of public-houses in their district, and that was followed by rather important results. If quarter sessions had power to intervene in this way, he did not think they would intervene in a brewster sessional district where an elaborate arrangement had been made, but only in cases where brewster sessions took no steps to act under the Bill—a thing which was very likely to happen owing to the great discouragement that had been given to brewster sessions by the Bill.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
said this Amendment would destroy the responsibility which now attached to the local justices, and would thus defeat the object of the mover with which he was in sympathy. He regretted that a certain amount of authority was taken away from the local justices by the Bill. This Amendment would still further diminish their authority. He understood the noble Earl to say that the committee of quarter sessions could hear other persons than the local justices, and he advised the withdrawal of the Amendment, and the insisting on the right of others than the justices to be heard before quarter sessions.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Perhaps I may be permitted to explain. Under the existing law it is competent, whenever an application is made for the renewal of a licence, for any person to get up before the brewster sessions and say, "I object to the renewal of that licence." The brewster sessions thereupon adjourn the hearing of the case, and after due notice has been given they then 871 hear the objection to the renewal. What I said was that this right will not be interfered with, in any way by the Bill, and that, in addition to that, there is a right in the Bill, when the matter comes before quarter sessions, not for any person to get up and say he objects to the renewal of a licence to which brewster sessions have not objected, because if they do not object it is settled, but a right for any person, if the committee of quarter sessions think fit to hear him, to be heard in opposition when quarter sessions are considering the question of confirming the renewal.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
moved to amend the provision in Sub-section (2) that quarter sessions may, if they think it expedient, after hearing the persons interested in the licensed premises, unless it appears to quarter sessions unnecessary, give other persons an opportunity of being heard. He proposed to substitute "shall" for "may, if they think it expedient," and to leave out "unless it appears to quarter sessions unnecessary." He said it was doubtful whether under the Bill as it stood the public would be able to state their case before the committee of quarter sessions.
In page 1, line 25, to leave out the words 'may if they think expedient' and to insert the word 'shall'; and in lines 26 and 27, to leave out the words 'unless it appears to quarter sessions unnecessary.'"—(Lord Kinnaird.)
§ LORD BELPER
It is the intention that hearing should be given to both sides while leaving a discretion to the justices. This is only a discretion which a Court is usually allowed to have, and the words "unless it appears to quarter sessions unnecessary" are inserted to prevent a waste of time where everybody concerned is agreed. For that reason we object to the words being struck out.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
said that under the Bill the committee must hear a licence-holder. He desired to know whether if they did not leave out the words proposed to be left out, the committee might exclude the magistrates or anybody else who wished to came forward.
§ LORD BELPER
I will read the clause as it is: "After giving the persons interested in the licensed premises, and, unless it appears to quarter sessions unnecessary, any other persons appearing to them to be interested in the question of the renewal of the licence of those premises, an opportunity of being heard." Therefore the words proposed by the noble Lord are unnecessary.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
observed that persons interested in the licence were heard as right. Would persons who thought the licence unnecessary be heard against the granting of the licence? Taking the illustration of the rule nisi, in that case it was not necessary to hear the parties on the other side, because the Court were not going to grant a rule against the person who was asking for it. But if the Court were going to grant a licence in favour of a certain person who had been heard, it was necessary that the party on the other side should be heard. So long as that was clearly expressed in the words they had all they desired.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think I can show why it would be impossible for us to accept these words. Of course, the object of the Bill is that all the persons who ought to be heard shall be heard. In order to carry that out we have to use very wide words. You cannot very well have wider words than those which are in the lines of the clause which provide that quarter sessions may hear any persons appearing to them to be interested in the question of the renewal of the licence of the premises. That may include anybody in the whole of England. I do not see how we could make them narrower. The only course 873 open to the Government was to put the discretionary power in quarter sessions to say whether they thought it was proper that any particular persons should be heard. It must be remembered that any prolonged hearing means expense, and the Government have been throughout most anxious to avoid expense, for this reason, that all the expenses come out of the compensation fund, and therefore if we multiply checks of all sorts and force a most elaborate procedure on them, I am afraid the result would be that there would be a serious infringement of the compensation fund. Every halfpenny taken out of that fund means a less opportunity of getting rid of unnecessary licences. Therefore, I hope the noble Lord will not press it. The hearing must be limited in some way or other, and I think to place the limit in the discretion of the quarter sessions is the most workmanlike procedure.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said he apprehended that what the noble Marquess meant was that all persons should be heard, whether in favour of renewal or against, whom it was desirable to hear.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
suggested that if their Lordships would agree to accept Lord Stanley of Alderley's next Amendment, that would effect the desired purpose.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
remarked that in one case in which he was interested he desired to be heard against an appeal to quarter sessions, but he was informed that nobody could appear in person but only by counsel. That involved considerable expense, which he declined to bear, and therefore the appeal was allowed and the licence granted.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
moved, in page 1, line 28, after the word "renewal" to insert the words "or refusal." He pointed out that a person interested in the renewal was interested in getting a licence, and he desired that a person who 874 wished to oppose the granting of a licence should also be heard. When he was at the School Board they took a very active part in opposing licenses because they felt it very undesirable to have licensed premises close to a school. Whenever a new licence was applied for they gave instructions where the premises were objectionably near a school to oppose the granting. Such bodies were persons interested in the matter, and after the explanations which had been given he thought that if the words he proposed were inserted they would get substantially what was wanted.
In page 1, line 28, after the word 'renewal' to insert the words 'or refusal.'"—(Lord Stanley of Alderley.)
*THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I cannot understand how a person interested in the question of renewal would not include a person interested in the question of there not being a renewal. It seems to me quite clear, but if it seems to the noble Lord that adding the words "or refusal" would make it more clear, I am quite willing to accept these words, subject to the caution that I would like to inquire into the matter more carefully, and, if I find that the words do more than I and the noble Lord suppose, that we should have the right to bring forward such alteration as we think fit on the Report stage.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
moved an Amendment in page 2, line 1, after the word "premises" to insert "and the justices." He said this might seem to be unnecessary after the remarks which had fallen from the Government. As he read the Bill originally it seemed to him that the words "interested in the question of the renewal of the licence" might not apply to the justices. He was not at all sure that they would. How were the justices interested in the refusal or renewal of a licence? If they were not represented in the Court above, and had no power of being heard or represented in the Court above, the Court above would never be seized of the reasons actuating the justices in their decision, or be 875 enabled to properly agree or disagree with them on any fresh facts which might be found. It seemed to him that the clause was very ambiguous. The noble Marquess might have taken legal advice, but he (Lord Coleridge) doubted whether the Bill provided for the justices appearing to support their own recommendations.
In page 2, line 1, after the word 'premises to insert the words, 'and the justices.'"—(Lord Coleridge)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord is correct. I have taken legal advice on this subject and I am advised that the justices would be included and are intended to be included in the words. "other persons interested in the question of the renewal." According to the English language it is very difficult to believe that they would be excluded, and I can assure the noble and learned Lord that there is no intention whatever of excluding the justices. Indeed, if he looks at Clause 6 he will find there powers taken for consulting the justices. The Government do not desire to meet every Amendment with a direct negative, and if the noble and learned Lord thinks it would make it clearer to put in the justices we shall not prevent it. But I hope he will not ask us to put in too many things of this sort, for there is a danger in our specifying any particular case of excluding others which we do not want to exclude.
§ *LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY inquired whether the Amendment was not governed by the limitation on page 1, "unless it appears to quarter sessions unnecessary." He did not think it was likely that quarter sessions would refuse to hear the magistrates.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I understand that these words should properly come in after the word "person" on page 1 and before the words "including the justices." I am not sure whether we have not passed that point.
§ THE ACTING CHAIRMAN on COMMTTEES (Lord BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH)
We have done so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
We will consider the matter, and, if necessary, insert an Amendment on Report.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
said that in spite of the remarks of the noble Marquess, he had intended to add also words providing that the quarter sessions might hear the local authority of the area in which the licensed premises were situated. Was he correct in understanding that such an appearance would be legitimate as coming in under the phrase "any other persons appearing to them to be interested in the question of the renewal of the licence."
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I only desire to make this observation. The noble and learned Lord must be very familiar with a rule of law (which I am afraid to put into Latin because I might not be successful) which says that if you specifically mention certain things you merely exclude a great many other things. If we mentioned a whole category of persons who are specially to be admitted to a hearing, we should possibly exclude a great many others who ought to be included. Justices are in a special case because of their historical position in regard to licensing, and I hope the noble and learned Lord will not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave of the Committee, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said that notwithstanding the very high importance of the matter involved in the additional clause which he desired to see inserted in the Bill, and the wide attention that was being directed to the subject outside their Lordships' House, he felt exonerated in some degree from trespassing on their time at any great length inasmuch as the 877 question of a time limit was in its general aspect dealt with on Monday and Tuesday last in the discussion which took place on the Amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord Peel, when he objected to any such Parliamentary action as would create a perpetual interest in a terminable licence. That view was exactly expressed in the clause which he proposed to move, though of course he must enter with more detail into the manner in which it should be carried out. Lord Belper, speaking on behalf of the Government the other day, surprised him and many others by saying that the Bill as a matter of fact did not, do this very thing of creating a perpetual interest in a terminable licence.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said he could only apply to the speech of the noble Lord a quotation from a recent speech of Viscount Goschen, namely, splendide audax. He could not literally understand how it could be contended that a man who held legally only a licence which must be renewed annually, and who was open to have it refused without compensation at any time was in no way given a fresh interest of a valuable sort if he was placed in a position of absolute legal security. How could it be contended that this did not create a perpetual interest in a terminable licence. The noble Lord said he thought it did not. He was trying to do in one way which seemed to him to be fair and reasonable, what the noble Lord was trying to do in another way, namely, establish a plan for giving what had been described in several ways as an indemnity, a compensation, or a solatium. He desired to say in the most emphatic way that he was as anxious as any of their Lordships could be that these men should receive some compensation for the loss of the monetary interest which had grown up in connection with every license. He had no sympathy whatever with those who were described by the noble Marquess a few nights ago in a tone as if it would include most of them—as those who desired to bring the holding of licences to an end and stop the trade altogether. He had no sympathies of 878 that kind at all. His proposal in this clause was one which he believed to be perfectly sound in the interests of the community, and absolutely fair as regarded the persons immediately affected.
The Prime Minister had more than once reiterated his belief that the proper principle, if they were dealing with the question afresh and on a clean slate, would be that the monopoly value—if such were the correct phrase—or quasi-monopoly value given by the possessor of a licence should only be given when the value of the monopoly was retained by the State and paid for by the man who acquired it. Effectiveness was given to that opinion by the change which the Government had made by introducing into Clause 4 a scheme of new licences which, presumably, they regarded as the right kind of plan on which, if they had a free hand, they should desire all licences to have been held from the first and to be held now. His proposal was to make that plan work consistently for all kinds of licences all the land over when the necessary time for winding up the existing condition of things had elapsed. He did not think it was necessary to explain his proposal in detail, for it spoke for itself, but some of its provisions seemed to have puzzled his friends a little. The words in the clause he proposed would result in this, that for fourteen years the licence would run exactly as the Bill proposed, the holders of licences paying such compensation levy which the magistrates might decide upon within certain limits, and receiving compensation if their licences were withdrawn at any time. That would go on for fourteen years. Then at the end of that time, by which time he hoped and believed that a great deal would have been effected, and the worst of the licences suppressed or withdrawn—specially would that be the case with regard to the ante-1869 beerhouses—there would be a period of seven years—a halcyon period of security during which there would be no power of compulsory withdrawal of licences, and, on the other hand, no call to pay a compensation levy, such levy would not be required, as there would be no power to disturb the existing holders of licences. After that time, that is to say twenty-one years from the passing of the Act, there would be a new start altogether upon the exact lines which the Government had itself proposed 879 for new licences and new licensees—the principle that the monopoly value did belong to the State, and that if it was acquired by any individual he should have to pay for it. It would not be possible that the change could take place at one particular moment all the land over, because there would, if the Bill became an Act exactly upon its present lines, be an overlapping of leases granted for seven years or less, which would not have been terminated. It was impossible to say that there should be one precise moment at which it should happen all the land over, but he imagined that magistrates, who knew that the time was going to arrive, would endeavour in giving their leases or periods to the licensees so to arrange matters as to make things terminate practically at the same time.
What were the gains of such a proposal? First, there would be the ultimate resumption by the community of the monopoly value—he used the words with reserve, because he did not think they were quite correct—which the community or the State had given. That was the principle which the Government had applied to new licences, and he would apply it to old licences as well. Secondly, his proposal would result in a great simplification of what was at present an exceedingly complicated system. It would unify the method for the whole system of licence administration and would get rid of the complications which now arose from the existing rights and privileges, and expectations, and the rest. Then it would give back to the community—and personally be attached to this the greatest importance of all—the freedom which they did not now possess of making experiments in the way of licensing reform—a possibility which would be greater twenty-one years hence than now. Their Lordships were all familiar with Lord Grey's proposals. It might be that a great number of other suggestions or proposals which local communities might take up if they had a free hand would be put into action, and his proposal would set men free to act.
Then he asked would the scheme press hardly upon anybody, and, if so, upon whom? Let them take first the condition of the ordinary licence-holder who held a full licence, who was now an annual tenant 880 so far as the strict technical law went, but who practically had an interest which they all desired to see compensated, and which had arisen from the manner in which the law had been administered for many years. The Bill compensated—unfortunately he thought—in an increasing amount the holders of these licences if they were to be dispossessed. The abolition of licences would increase the value of those which remained, and those licences if they were ultimately suppressed would be suppressed at a higher compensation value, although in the interim their profit-making would have been higher. His proposal, however, on the contrary, was that for fourteen years these men should be paying the levy and receiving the compensation if dispossessed; that for seven years they should have absolute security and no levy, and in that period they would be able to make a golden harvest—the result, in part at least, of other suppressions having taken place. Then atlast after twenty-one years all would come to an end, and they should start again on the principle laid down by Clause 4 of the Government Bill. During those twenty-one years surely it would be possible for any man of prudence and foresight to make such financial arrangements as would enable him at the close of that period to arrange for the payment of the sum required of him in return for a new licence. This might either be a lump sum paid for the acquisition of new rights or it might be an annual contribution which he would be called upon to pay by reason of the monopoly value of the licence which he was to hold from the State. He could not see how a man so circumstanced could be under any hardship, and he believed his scheme would work with absolute fairness both to the individual, to the community, and to the State.
The same arguments he applied to the position of the ante-1869 licences. The holder of one of those licences would have fourteen years compensation if he was dispossessed—a higher rate because of the security which he now enjoyed—and he would be treated with greater consideration. Then if he were not dispossessed during that period he would throughout that time have been enabled to gain a largely increased profit because of the 881 suppression of his rivals and competitors. To him also would be given the seven years of golden harvest, during which he would be freed from dispossession and payment of the levy. Even if they allowed that there would be some falling off in the gross receipts in that neighbourhood, the increase of profit must be considerably larger than would possibly be required of the holder of the licence in the form of the compensation levy which was to be obtained from him.
They were told that if they had a time limit they ought to compensate the licence-holder from public funds and not from the trade. They were making the compensation come from the trade by means of a compulsory tax. But it was a trade whose profits would be considerably enhanced by what had been occurring all the while and by the fact that Parliament had suppressed the more formidable of their rivals. Again, they were told that the 1869 licence-holder had a statutory right and that they must not interfere with it. As regards Parliamentary interference with existing rights or supposed rights, they had been reminded again and again by the Prime Minister and some representatives of the Government in that House that it was impossible to think of fettering the power of Parliament to deal at any time as it thought fit with the licensing question. He should like to ask what was the statutory right which the ante-1869 beerhouse licences really possessed, and which was so sacred that they must take care not to interfere with it? What happened in 1869? Up to that time unrestricted licensing had prevailed. The restrictions which came in at that time gave incidentally as a gift to the man who remained over when the restrictions had been removed an increased value attaching to his licence, and from that time those men had been irremovable except for reasons which were specially and definitely mentioned. But did this give them a "statutory" right to full compensation if his trade were injured? Suppose that Parliament should decide on allowing free trade in liquor all round, and that all the neighbours of an ante-1869 beerhouse-keeper were allowed to sell liquor, should they compensate that man because they had 882 destroyed his trade by allowing others to compete? They would say that it was the fortune of war, that public changes had taken place in the public interest, although he (the most rev. Primate) did not at all think it would be in the public interest. Should they say he was entitled to compensation, and if not, why should they say he was, in consequence of the change now made, entitled to anything more than the reasonable consideration which was proposed under this clause? If they gave a man time to recoup his outlay it was impossible to say he would be suffering under any hardship under the change now proposed. Under the Government scheme for new licences, as described in Clause 4, it was apparently anticipated that by giving a man seven years they would enable him to recoup the outlay to which he had been put, and to make a profit. Under his proposal they would give a man twenty-one years instead of seven during which to make such arrangements as would meet the changed condition of things which would result when the twenty-one years were over. During that time he would be holding the monopoly value practically for nothing, it having come to him not by the deliberate intention of Parliament, but incidentally. It was practically a gift to him or his predecessor when the changes were originally made.
He had endeavoured to show that no real grievance could be alleged if they were to bring about that which on public grounds most of them felt to be a beneficent thing, namely, to start afresh at the end of twenty-one years without the complications which hung round their necks to-day. It was alleged fairly enough that a time limit, if imposed, would to some extent restrict the borrowing power of the publican or licence-holder, either now or later. Undoubtedly the man who now received a permanent interest in his premises would very easily find people to lend money upon it. The man could say, "I have a permanent interest; I wish to borrow on it. I have entered into all kinds of obligations because I have a permanent Parliament given security, and therefore I have borrowed a large amount 883 upon it." The time limit would undoubtedly hinder that to some extent, but he did not think that such power of borrowing would be a good thing. Again, they were told that this would restrict the borrowing power of local authorities, and a great deal had been made of the power which the local authority would have to borrow to a large extent because of the security it had in the permanent levy or tax upon all licensed premises. Undoubtedly if that local levy were to come to an end after fourteen years, the local authorities would borrow less than now. In his opinion, that restriction of borrowing powers would be a good thing. It was not an advantage that the licensing authority should be able, because it was in an enthusiastic mood and desired hastily to abolish very costly licensed premises, to use up the money which, years after, might be wanted. He knew that a loan had to receive the approval of the Secretary of State, but, in his view, nothing would be more disadvantageous than that the local authorities should be encouraged to borrow too large amounts, and practically tie the hands and leave helpless their successors for many years to come in the discharge of their magisterial functions. The fourteen years levy would be a wholesome restriction on the borrowing powers. In any case he personally preferred a lesser reduction for a time if so be, provided that it were with the knowledge that they would have full freedom to recover the monopoly for the community after a certain number of years had passed. Even if that involved less reduction during the next decade, he should not regret it if it meant that in the end they would have that freedom put into the hands of those to whom it ought properly to belong. He urged they should do nothing to tie the hands of their successors in the administration of these matters. It was said that Parliament could not tie the hands of their successors, but by the Bill they were giving to these people a compensation which enabled them to borrow on their permanent security in the licence, and they would find these people saying later that Parliament had no right to do that unless it was intended to compensate them, or to make some arrangement to get them out of 884 the difficulties into which they had landed themselves.
He hoped he had answered to some extent the objection that after twenty-one years they would be involved in the same difficulties as those of to-day. His answer was that, by taking the Government's plan with regard to new licences, and applying it to the other licences, those difficulties would wholly disappear. It seemed to him that his proposal would make the Bill coherent and logical as a whole, and it would be in every sense an improvement of it as a legislative measure. He was profoundly anxious to be absolutely and scrupulously fair to those whose interests were involved in any measure of this kind, and his proposal would not only be fair but even munificent to the trade. It would be generous beyond what a right in equity ever could claim. But he did not mind that, because if mistakes had been made in the past they ought to pay for them rather than let innocent individuals pay for them. Certainly they would be paying beyond what any legal obligation required, but he did not object to that because he thought the gain would be worth paying for. He believed that hundreds of the best members of the trade, and he knew for certain that some of the very best and highest members of the trade, would accept a proposal of this kind if it came to them with the authority of Parliament. Some of these men he desired to speak of with the deepest possible respect. They had the highest interests of the public at heart, and he believed that many of them would be perfectly ready to accept this suggestion and not regard it as a hardship. That some would not welcome it was probably certain, but in the long run he thought it would be found that neither the public nor the members of the trade, who were doing their work in a high and legitimate way, would be really sufferers or wronged in any way. The principle of the time limit seemed to be making a steady progress not only outside but also among many of the warmest supporters of the present Bill. He was bold enough, and rash enough, to conjecture that if they could see below the surface, in the breasts even of some of the occupants of the Government Benches in this and the other House, they would find that some 885 of them in their hearts were in favour of it although they were afraid to deal with it at this juncture, because of the difficulty that would arise owing to the time limit in another sense which in the lower House of Parliament would render adequate discussion so difficult. If that was so he could not believe that for the sake of that temporary and passing difficulty they would allow such a consideration to result in their being bound for all time, so far as this Bill could bind them, to a system which, whatever might be said in its favour, would not really be the best for the English people.
After Clause 1, to insert the following clause, 'After the end of fourteen years from the passing of this Act existing on-licences shall not be renewed, but in place of every existing on-licence which is still in existence after the end of such period there shall be granted at the next ensuing general annual licensing meeting a new licence for the term of seven years, subject to the provisions of Section 4 of this Act, but without the imposition of any payment or conditions under Sub-section (2) of such section other than the conditions (if any) attached to the existing licence. Provided, nevertheless, that such licence may be refused on the same grounds and subject to the same terms and conditions as the renewal of the existing licence might have been refused.'"—(The Archbishop of Canterbury.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I confess that it is with some reluctance that I rise to oppose, as I must do, the Amendment moved with such evident sincerity and in such moderate language by such an authority in this House as the most rev. Primate. I do not doubt for one moment the interest he has in temperance reform or his desire to be fair to all parties, and I recognise that he represents, as the head of the right rev. Bench in this House, an element in your Lordships' Assembly devoted to the maintenance of principles of morality in this country, and that when he speaks officially on a moral issue he is entitled to be listened to with the most profound respect. But I am afraid, as you will expect, that the Government cannot accept this Amendment. The most rev. Primate claims it as one of the advantages of his Amendment that—as I understood him—it would not tie the hands of Parliament in the future so much as our own proposal. I think that is an argument ex- 886 ceedingly difficult to follow. He pro poses to tie the hands of your Lordships absolutely for at least twenty-one years. He proposes that for fourteen years there should be compensation, and that for seven years more there should be fixity of tenure without compensation. But his anticipation of the liberty of Parliament goes further than that, because in the face of the sort of catastrophe which awaits the liquor trade at the end of the twenty-one years all sorts of arrangements will have to be made by them to try to save something from the wreck. If that happens and these arrangements are made it will be too late for Parliament to do justice; the arrangements will have been made, and it will then be useless to repent and say, "We did not mean to treat you so hardly as it seems we have done, and we can put it right," because the businesses will have passed into other hands and it will be wholly impossible to set right the mischief which, as I think, Parliament will have effected.
At the beginning of his speech the most rev. Primate dwelt upon the phrase that we were giving a permanent value to a terminable licence, but that is what the most rev. Primate proposes to do by this Amendment, because he proposes to pay—as the Government do—compensation to a certain number of licences during the first fourteen years. My Lords, compensation is a sum of money, and that has a permanent value and must have. It is a terminable licence, but the lucky licensees—lucky because they will be at the mercy of the most rev. Primate instead of being exposed to his vengeance—will get a permanent value for their terminable licences. That brings me to the first objection to that Amendment. My Lords, contrast the position of the licensee whose licence is put an end to in the fourteenth year with that of the licensee whose licence is put an end to after the twenty-first year. In the fourteenth year he will receive full compensation on the principle that he is to receive the difference between the value of the premises as licensed and unlicensed. But in the twenty-first year he is to receive nothing, but is to be turned out without compensation. How can anyone defend the justice of that proposal? It is that inequity of differential treatment in the amount of money between man and man 887 who are in exactly the same circumstances which is always rightly resented by the victims of such a position. The most rev. Primate, like many other speakers, has referred to the enormous gains which the liquor trade has made in recent years. Of course they have made enormous gains, but it is sometimes forgotten that the people who are to be affected by your legislation are not always the people who make the enormous gains. On the contrary, take the case of an ordinary licensee at the present time. He has probably paid an enormous sum for the goodwill of his business. Does the most rev. Primate think that he makes a large profit? If he does, he is very much misinformed, for I am sure that a great many of them make very little profit indeed. To treat them badly is not to treat a rich man badly, but a poor man badly. Take again the liquor trade generally. I think I heard noble Lords the other night speak with a certain amount of contumely of the great limited companies which had taken over breweries, Well, my Lords, those who now own the shares in these brewery companies have given a very high price for them. They have not made a large sum of money—they have not made enormous gains. I know of a particular brewery the shares of which, shortly after it was converted into a limited company, were put on the market and fell enormously in value. How can it be said that these unfortunate shareholders are the plutocrats into whose pockets we may dip our hands without doing any great harm. I am sure that part of the case has not impressed itself upon the most rev. Primate.
How are people affected by this Amendment to protect themselves against the ultimate losses which may fall upon them? For fourteen years they will receive compensation and for seven years they will receive security. But after that time how are they to protect themselves? No voluntary scheme of insurance will be possible for them. I hope your Lordships will appreciate that. It is quite clear that in the temper which characterises certain influential temperance reformers it would be impossible for a licensee who finds himself in their unfortunate district to protect himself at all, because he would be aware that as 888 soon as the restrictions which Parliament had imposed on the taking away of his licence without compensation were removed, he would only have an even chance that he would be allowed to go on at all. That is not an exaggeration. The noble Viscount said the other night that 50 per cent. of the licences ought to be destroyed, so that at the end of twenty-one years every licensee would know that he would have an even chance of being allowed to go on or be destroyed. Is it possible to conceive any scheme of voluntary insurance likely to meet a case such as that? The noble Viscount is not singular in this respect. There are many others who held as extreme opinions as the noble Viscount and also a great many magistrates, and these people would place the licensees in such a position that they would be absolutely unable to insure themselves against the loss which they might incur. But the matter goes further than that. It is not certain that there would be an even chance that the licensee would retain or lose his vested interest, but it would be certain that he would lose what is called the monopoly value. I do not defend the system of monopoly value; I have always thought it outrageous, and the Government are going to try to put an end to it with regard to all future licences. But with regard to existing licences that monopoly value has been given to the licensees and to the liquor trade. The present holders have paid every halfpenny for it when they bought the shares or the goodwill of the licensed premises. Therefore if they were deprived of the monopoly value it is absolute pillage—it is robbing them of what they have paid for. There will be no chance of their protecting themselves against that loss, because it is not an even chance that they will retain the monopoly value, but it is quite certain that under the Amendment every halfpenny of that element in their property will be taken away. Therefore, I cannot but say that the proposal, although it is, if I may so with respect, beautifully dressed up, does amount to nothing more than pillage of what belongs to those who are interested in this trade.
That is going to be done in the face of a distinct Parliamentary promise One-third of the licensed houses in England are built 889 upon a Parliamentary title. It is not a question of a practice which has grown up—it is to be found within the four corners of an Act of Parliament passed many years ago. They are held absolutely during good behaviour, according to the four conditions, and yet these people are to be exposed to this pillage at the hands of Parliament. I put their case highest, of course, but I think the title of other licence-holders is almost as good. I confess that, when we reflect how they have bought and sold their interest with the knowledge and with the consent of Parliament, their title is almost as good. Parliament might have interfered long ago if it had been thought proper to deny the licensees this right; but Parliament did not do that. It sanctioned the right by taxing them on the full value of their premises. Therefore it would be quite impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment.
I come now, my Lords, to the parallel which has been drawn between existing licences and the new licences. The new licences to which the procedure of Clause 4 is adapted stand upon a totally different footing. The new licences will have no monopoly value till you have granted them. Therefore, if you make it one of the conditions of the licenses that they shall have no monopoly value, you can take nothing away from them, and the new licensee need not take his licence unless he likes. But that is a very different case from that of the old licences. The old licensee has his licence and cannot get out of it without loss. It is to be presumed that there are no such sweeping, drastic changes threatened against the new licence-holder as are threatened against the old licence-holder. Even the noble Viscount would not propose to take away 50 per cent. of the new licences, because it is to be presumed that they will only be granted where they are absolutely wanted, and therefore they are not exposed to any great risk. The man who receives a new licence may properly assume that he will be allowed to keep it. He may say, "In face of the strong feeling in favour of temperance reform, if I was allowed to have a licence I should be allowed to keep it." He would not have that 50 per cent. chance against his being allowed to do so. So 890 that in the three most radical particulars the new licensee stands on a totally different footing to the old licensee. To try and show that because the thing is fair under Clause 4 to new licensees it is therefore fair to old licensees is to ignore all the true elements of the situation. My Lords, I think I have said enough to show why the Government cannot accept this Amendment. I feel inclined to indulge in a few protestations. The noble Lord, Earl Crewe, the other night took the Government to task because we did not give utterance to more of the phrases that we were in favour of temperance reform. I should think that it went without saying that there is not one of your Lordships who is not in favour of temperance reform if it can be achieved with justice. We hold that the Bill will do something to secure temperance reform, but we have never put too high a faith in legislation. We will do what we can in justice with legislation, but we rely far more upon that steady progress of public opinion towards temperance which we see around us. We believe that is far more effective than any legislation you can introduce and is far more to be relied upon than any expedient which we cannot reconcile to the elementary requirements of justice. For these reasons, my Lords, it is impossible for the Government to accept the most rev. Primate's Amendment.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said that anyone who had listened to the speech of the noble Marquess without knowing the subject which was under debate would have supposed that the most rev. Primate was engaged in pillage—he thought that was a very strong word for the noble Marquess to have used—of property, in the ordinary sense of the word, of some unfortunate persons in this country. It was essentially necessary in this discussion that they should bear constantly in mind what was the nature of the matter with which they were dealing. What was the nature of the interest which licence-holders really possessed? Great exception had been taken by the Government to those who had said that the Bill before them would confer a freehold for the future upon the holders of existing licences. He was not going to say that was so for the 891 reason that freehold had a connection with property, and property so-called did not exist in the case with which they were dealing. He was not opposed to the granting to holders of existing licences what had been called by a variety of names, of which he would take the last mentioned by the most rev. Primate and say a solatium, to the holders of these licences.
What were the facts? The licences under the existing law were granted from year to year and there was no obligation—no legal obligation—upon the brewster sessions to renew those licences if they did not think fit to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Belper, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill told them that it had been the general feeling of brewster sessions that they were not entitled to refuse the renewal of a licence, except, of course, in cases of certain offences, upon the ground that there were more public-houses in the district than were required, and that it would be to the public interest that the licences should be withheld. Those benches of magistrates were obviously ill advised by their clerks, because the law had been declared to be different. What he was anxious to point out was that they were not dealing in this case with a set of ignorant persons who did not know what the law was. If the old system had been in existence now, and if the holders of licences had been men dwelling in their own houses and conducting their businesses with their own capital, they would have had no legal right but a very much stronger claim to compassionate consideration, because it might be said with truth that they might have been ignorant of the real state of the law, and under the same misconception of the nature of the law as the noble Lord, Lord Belper, said a great number of the magistrates and brewster sessions had been. But they were not dealing with ignorant people, nor with poor people; they were dealing with a very rich and powerful trade. Was it possible to suppose that men of that sort, having plenty of money at their command, and able to get the best legal opinion in the country, could have been ignorant of the real nature of the tenure by which their licences were held? It was inconceivable that they did not know what their position was after the decision in 892 the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield." That decision was twelve years old, while there was another decision previous to that date which tended in the same direction. But he would stand upon "Sharp v. Wakefield" and say that it was impassible to believe that the rich holders of 90 per cent. of the licences had not known for those twelve years what was the tenure on which they held them. During those twelve years the value of their property had grown—to use a familiar phrase it had grown by leaps and bounds and grown in spite of the character of the tenure of which they were perfectly aware. It was useless for the Government to talk of pillage—there was no pillage in the matter.
He was not prepared to deny that, those licences having been held for a long period, during a portion of which there might have been some misconception as to the tenure, some consideration or form of solatium shou'd be given to those who held them if it should be considered desirable in the public interest to refuse them on any general public grounds. But he was not willing to go beyond that. To talk of the licences as if they were property of a real and substantial character which could not be dealt with by Parliament except by the same sort of compensation as they gave to a landowner when a railway was given power to take his land, was altogether wrong. That was not the true state of the case, and the argument was not improved in the least by exaggerating it to the extreme extent to which it had been exaggerated by the Lord Privy Seal.
Then they were told that a time limit was unjust because these persons were entitled to compensation. They were not legally entitled to compensation. They would receive compensation, and he should vote for it being given to them on reasonable terms, but when the most rev. Primate asked them to limit the compensation to a period of fourteen years and afterwards to give an additional security to the licence-holder for seven years, to call that pillage was wrong, and he could only say he thought the most rev. Primate had been very generous in his proposal. For his own part he should not have objected if the most rev. Primate had exercised 893 his generosity less strongly. They were told that the compensation was to come out of the pockets of the trade. Of course literally that was true, but it was to be raised by a public tax, and if their Lordships had in mind the admirable speech of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London on Tuesday and the example he gave from the United States of the revenue raised from licences in that country, they would see that by paying this compensation in the form suggested they were really limiting the amount which the public might perfectly well raise from the licences by taxation, and that they were therefore practically making the public pay the compensation. He was a little amused the other night by one of the members of the Government—he was not sure it was not the President of the Board of Agriculture—saying that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been considering how he could get more money and what were the sources of taxation to which he might turn, and that he had never proposed to put an increased tax upon licences. He was not at all surprised to hear that. It was exactly what he should have expected. But that argument was not conclusive to him, and he believed a considerable sum of money might legitimately and properly be raised by taxation upon licences of a very much more stringent character than that which existed at the present time. He therefore could not but think that although in the first instance it might be that this compensation was paid by the trade, it was really paid by the public, because it tended to reduce the amount which perfectly legitimately the public, following the example of many other countries, might have obtained from licences of this kind.
He confessed himself unable to understand why it was supposed that the proposal of the most rev. Primate was inconsistent with the principle of the Bill. He did not know that that would be a very vital argument with him, although it was no doubt a very strong argument with noble Lords who sat opposite. He could not admit that it was inconsistent with the principle of the Bill. The principle of the Bill was said to be a desire to reduce licences; and the licensees were to have a sort of compassionate 894 claim to compensation when their licences were reduced. But to say that was not to say that the compensation was to be paid to all eternity, for the only ground which really gave them any kind of claim was that they really did not understand the position in which they had stood. It seemed to him that they would be fully and entirely compensated by the grant of compensation under a time limit. The noble Marquess, following to a certain extent the statement made by the Prime Minister, seemed to indicate that Parliament would be quite free to deal with this matter as it pleased hereafter. Mr. Balfour wrote a letter to the newspapers the other day in which he explained to his correspondent, who he supposed was a person ignorant of constitutional theories, that Parliament could do whatever it liked, and if it chose after the passage of this Bill to repeal it and abolish all these licences without any compensation at all, although he thought that would be unjust, he did not think the Bill would in any way preclude Parliament from doing what it might think fit. That was true, but it was a truism; and with all respect to Mr. Arthur Balfour, they did not require to be told it by him. The truth was this, that by passing this Bill, and particularly by passing it after the speech to which they had just listened—a speech which raised the rights of licence-holders to property and talked of pillage by the most rev. Primate—by passing this Bill they would have rendered the difficulty of dealing with this question in the future much greater than it was now. He did not want their hands to be tied. By granting the licences for fourteen years, subject to a further continuance for seven years, they would meet, and more than meet, every legitimate claim of the licence-holders, and at the end of the period of twenty-one years Parliament would be placed in a position in which it could really deal with the question as it pleased and could take such steps as might be necessary towards a substantial temperance reform.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS
said the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, in following the most rev. Primate drew a very pathetic picture of the position of the licensee under the 895 Amendment who, after fourteen years of paying premiums, would find that after all if he were deprived of his licence he would have none of the compensation to which he had been contributing. He did not think that the noble Marquess at the time said anything about the seven years which came under the Archbishop's proposed scheme, but the picture that the noble Marquess drew arrested his attention, because it was part of an argument which some weeks ago prevailed very strongly in his mind and made it appear to him absolutely impossible to accept anytime limit. It seemed to him the whole position of difficulty would be realised again at the end of the allotted time, and that the difficulty of the position would be accentuated by the fact that during that period the premiums had been paid by the licensees who hoped eventually to obtain compensation if deprived of their licences. But he had been entirely converted by the arguments that had been used in favour of the Bill by many persons who had been strongly advocating it and not the least so by those who had spoken from the Government Bench, for they had impressed so strongly upon him the fact that the main purpose of this Bill was to enable those in authority to get rid of redundant licences within a reasonable period, and they made it apparently so hopeful a possibility that all the redundant licences would be got rid of in some such period as fourteen years, that it seemed to him there would be no hardship whatever to any licensee who held his licence beyond that time; because surely they did not wish to reduce the licences beyond the point at which the real needs of the people might demand that a certain number of licences should exist. If they did that they plunged themselves into a difficulty far more serious than anything they had at the present time to face. They would have, undoubtedly, then to face the difficulties of those clubs which in secret, without regulation, without inspection, would so very greatly tend to the deterioration of the morals of our people.
He remembered perfectly well the time when he was in Australia that there was started in the colony in which he lived that which was known as a large irrigation colony, and one of the principles of that colony was that there should 896 be no licensed public-houses existing in it. What was the result? The result was that there was a great deal more secret drinking, a great deal of bad conduct in consequence, and eventually it was found that it would have been a far better thing to have had properly licensed public-houses. He did not think many of them would at all desire to see such a reduction of public-houses as would exceed the point at which they were naturally demanded by the needs of the people, and therefore, with that very strongly in his view, he could not see that there would be any hardship whatever that would accrue in the case of a licensee who should survive the period in which it had been asserted the redundant licences would practically have been got rid of. In that he should associate what he was saying as well as he might with the very eloquent words which fell from the noble Earl who, speaking from one of the Benches behind the Government Bench, with that grace and eloquence which gave such point to all the arguments that he brought forward, had claimed that if there was to be any real temperance reform they must address themselves to some such questions as that to which he had alluded, viz., the danger of the clubs.
Now he did not know, of course, what the result might be of any division that might be taken upon this Amendment of the most rev. Primate. Little as he might know about Parliamentary affairs he could not help noticing with regard to most Acts of Parliament that they seldom seemed to Come up to expectations of their friends, and they seldom seemed to realise all the apprehensions of their opponents, and he dared say it would be very much the same with this Bill when it became an Act. But if the Bill produced anything like the results which he had heard from the Government Bench its promoters expected it would produce in the reduction of redundant licences, then he wanted to urge as strongly as he could that if the Amendment were adopted there would be no hardship in the case of any licensee who, during those fourteen years, and with the seven years of grace afterwards, might have been contributing during the first fourteen a certain premium to the compensation fund, but who was not likely to be deprived of his licence because the number of redundant licences, 897 he supposed, by that time would have disappeared. For that reason he most earnestly hoped the most rev. Primate's Amendment might be accepted and that the Government would, after all, see their way in a modified form to adopt it in the Bill.
*LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH
said it was impossible not to sympathise with the words that had fallen from the most rev. Primate and those who had supported him in this Amendment, and although he spoke as an opponent he hoped he should not be wrong if he said that the idea underlying, the Amendment, namely, that the people of this country through the licensing authorities should have a free hand after a certain number of years, was deserving, at all events, of great consideration at the hands of their Lordships. Various arguments had been urged in the course of the debate against this Amendment and against the proposal for a term of years, and he thought that one of the most powerful arguments which he would not say had been unnoted, but at all events had not been very strongly urged, was that it would to a great extent hamper any future legislation that might occur after this Bill became law. In the course of this debate both in their Lordships' House and in another place it had been hinted, and that not obscurely, both by the promoters and by the opponents, that when this Bill became law the last word upon this most important question would not have been spoken. The opponents of the Bill had signified their intention very freely to do all they could to alter what they conceived to be a very bad measure. Those who supported the Bill had again on their part said that the way lay open to any future legislation should the present Bill not come up to expectations. To this it had been objected that although a future Parliament and future Government had no doubt the full legal right to alter anything which was passed now, they were not very likely to do so. How that might be he did not know; there were, of course, many people who might not see quite eye to eve with the Government in this Bill.
This Bill had been brought forward under certain circumstances and it 898 had been debated under somewhat peculiar circumstances, and many people thought that this great subject had not received the full attention it should have received. It seemed to him that if this Amendment, which was now under discussion, became law and they prescribed a term of years they would get into the difficulty, and perhaps a larger one than might be at the present moment recognised, of making a certain bargain with the licensees and the owners of public-houses, and that if they once created a term of years they would have a great many considerations, so to speak, built upon it. They would have certain contracts that would be formed upon the basis of a fourteen Years certainty as to the question of compensation. They would have also many agreements depending upon that. They would besides have what had not been much touched upon at present, but was a most serious consideration in this Bill, viz., how they were to value the different licensed terms with regard to compensation, and if they once admitted a term of years he thought they would have bases of valuation founded upon it. They would also have bases of insurance in many different forms upon this term of years, all of which when the time came might be somewhat difficult to upset, whether it was a good thing or a bad thing to upset them.
It was quite possible that as years and probably not very many years went on, public opinion, which had shown a great interest in this question, might become stronger and stronger perhaps in view of a thoroughly well thought-out temperance movement, excluding fanatical consideration, because he believed fanaticism, unless inspired by genius, would generally defeat its own object. But there might be a strong public. opinion to influence the Government of the day in such a way that they could not well afford to disregard it. It might be the wish of the country that the licensing authorities should have a much freer hand in dealing with these licences, and that the question of compensation, although it might be admitted to be a fair principle, ought not to stand in the way of reducing the number of licensed premises which so many people at present were agreed 899 should be the case. He would assume for a moment that these things had a very marked effect in the course of five or six years, and that legislation was forced upon the Parliament and Government of the time; what were they then to do with those existing fourteen, and, perhaps, if the Amendment were fully carried out, twenty-one years? Fourteen years was a long period in the life of an individual; it was a still longer period in the history of any nation or any Parliament, and what he would suggest to their Lordships was, that it would be perhaps somewhat unwise to fetter the present legislation with a condition, which, although the present intention was good, would hamper and fetter the action of Parliament and the Government in the future.
He could not help thinking this was, perhaps, the strongest argument for not passing the Amendment which had been moved with regard to this time limit. In many cases, particularly in this case, when a new departure of considerable magnitude in the licensing question was being adopted, it was extremely difficult to tell exactly what might issue from it. The promoters of this Bill thought that one thing would result from it; the opponents thought that another thing would result. One side thought it would effect great salutary reforms, and the other that it would be productive of great evils. A late statesman, among his many clever sayings, used to say that nothing happened except the unforeseen, and it was quite possible that the opinions of the Government on the one hand, and of the opponents on the other, might both be right. The strong probability was that they would both be wrong, and that an entirely different effect from what was expected now might turn out to be the result of this Bill. That appeared to him rather to intensify the argument that it would be somewhat unwise to put out our hands further than it was possible to draw them back. Let them not create a difficulty in the way of reviewing any possible abuse that might arise from this legislation, or, on the other hand, of improving and carrying out any good effect that it had done. They had better follow out the old pro- 900 verb to let well—or if some of their Lordships preferred it—to let ill alone.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said no doubt there was a great deal to be said for this Amendment, in the sense that it would operate as a sort of promise to give a reasonable time to turn round for reasonable interests, whether they were called vested or not, and at the end of the term, a great deal too long time, it would tend to restore to the people of England full control, free from any moral as well as any legal criticism. The terms were undoubtedly extremely liberal, and he could not help feeling that if they had been accepted by His Majesty's Government they would have made a very good bargain for—he would not venture to say their clients—but at any rate for those persons who in the general opinion of the community were largely interested financially in the passing of this Bill, because if by general agreement this Amendment of the most rev. Primate had been accepted, and if it had been accepted in the House of Commons, no doubt there would have been a very strong claim of fairness that this was to be a modus vivendi for the next fourteen years, during which it would be very unfair to reopen great questions in regard to licence duties. He could not help feeling himself that, having regard to the way in which this Bill had been carried so far, those who dissented from it had a perfectly free hand to deal with it in a most stringent way if ever the majority should be on their side, and he might remind their Lordships that this question of high duties—not so high necessarily as in the United States of America, but very much higher than anything that had been contemplated in this country—was quite within the scope of any Government, and if he were interested in the trade of the licensed victuallers, which he was thankful to say he was not, he was not sure that he would not feel inclined rather to get a settlement upon some reasonable terms which would secure him a considerable period of years than trust to the accidents of the political future.
He would now turn to the speech of the noble Marquess, who had made the principal speech on behalf of the Government 901 against this Amendment. He would not follow him into the regions of morals and spoliation. He thought that had been adequately dealt with, but he should like their Lordships to consider one or two cases which came very vividly to their recollection where the House had absolutely disregarded claims very much stronger in point of law and equity than any claims where people, either through brewery companies or otherwise, had bought at enormous prices. When the Irish Land Act was being passed, a strong case was made for those who had bought estates in the Encumbered Estates Courts, with a Parliamentary guarantee of title in every way, but nevertheless they, and of course their Lordships' House, was party to that Act, much as they disliked it, passed it, although, no doubt, it would have been in their power had they chosen to make exceptional legislation, perhaps at the expense of the Treasury and national credit, which had guaranteed those titles. He might remind their Lordships of another case, with regard to the importation of foreign cattle, in which the very keen desire to protect the health of our herds was not always entirely dissociated from the desire to enhance the price of our herds. Parliament first of all passed laws requiring slaughter of cattle at the port of entry and various urban authorities—London, Liverpool, and other places—went to a very great expense under Parliamentary sanction and with money borrowed with the sanction of the Public Works Loan Commissioners to erect abattoirs at the port of entry. In a very few years the sense of what was due to our home cattle and their health became so intense that they thought they could not even allow animals to come from foreign countries, even although they might be slaughtered within that quarantined and limited area. The whole of these important yards had to be turned over to the scrap heap. The question was put very strongly that these urban authorities had invested very large sums of money in obedience to Parliamentary obligations but their claims were utterly disregarded. Of course all of their Lordships in going through the history of legislation and the interests injured could find many other industries where legislation had given no thought to the claims or interests of private people. As recently as the other 902 day in another place a very strong claim was put forward in connection with strips of tobacco, and although it was conclusively proved that the unhappy importers had lost very considerably they only got back from the Government about one half of the proved losses they had sustained. Therefore he thought that this exaggerated sentiment of conscientious devotion to the interests of brewers and others who had speculated in public-houses and shares was a little misplaced in dealing with this question of legislation.
He would like to touch upon another point in the noble Marquess's speech. The noble Marquess seemed to be very much perplexed as to how it would be possible to adjust with any fairness a scale of compensation which would operate in the way proposed by the Amendment. He, the speaker, should have thought that if this clause of the most rev Primate, or any similar clause were passed, it would be a very elementary calculation for any man in business to see that year by year the value of a licence was a diminishing quantity. The value of the licence would be for a term running for twenty-one years, and in the first year the person whose licences were suppressed would lose an interest amounting to about twenty-one years. In the second year it would go down by one year, and so on, and therefore there would be no abrupt break such as the noble Marquess suggested would baffle the ingenuity of calculators. Perhaps it was not much good stating these things although they might recommend themselves to the reason of those accustomed to arithmetic or affairs, yet not to the votes of those who, he was afraid, were determined to support the Government.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said he was very glad to hear that "Oh! because that implied that when they went into the division lobby they would be better supported than they were before. He should wait with curious expectancy to see whether that would be so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I only made an interjection because I thought it very hard that all the noble Lords who sit on this side of the House 903 should be considered incapable of arithmetic or affairs.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
said he had listened with the greatest attention to what fell from the most rev. Primate, but he thought in that speech there were three fallacies. In the first place, he thought their Lordships agreed with him the other night that it was wrong to take away these licences without some compensation at the present moment. That was agreed on all hands. What he had to say the other night was this: that if it were wrong to take them away now it would be just as wrong to take them away at the end of seven years, as was suggested by the Minority Report, and, if at the end of seven years, then it would be just as wrong in principle to take them away at the end of fourteen years. The most rev. Primate had said they were going to give twenty-one years, and that was quite long enough. He maintained that if it were wrong to take them away to-morrow without compensation it would be equally wrong as a matter of principle to take them away that day twenty-one years. As a matter of detail whether the wrong would be so much or not he would not say, but as a matter of principle it was absolutely just as wrong to take away something which was his—he did not care what they called it, expectation or whatever it was—at the end of twenty-one years as to take it away to-morrow. But then the most rev. Primate said there would be no hardship or grievance because in the meantime the licensee would be able to reap a golden harvest, and people would go on drinking although they reduced the number of houses. He was afraid the reduction would not be so great, and therefore if the number of houses were reduced, those houses that remained would only get the profit which those houses which had been done away with would otherwise receive. That was his second fallacy.
What was the whole basis of legislation of this kind? It was, he thought, with common consent, that the increase in the number of drinking-shops, be- 904 cause they were drinking-shops, offered a temptation to men going to or from their work which they were not able to resist, and that therefore the increase in the sale of alcoholic liquors and the increase of drunkenness was a natural consequence. He thought the whole object of this legislation, and he was quite sure the whole of the right rev. Bench would agree with him, was to take away the temptation, so that a man should not be tempted to do that which he would not do if there were not a public-house open for him to go to, and that the reduction of drunkenness would be very largely in proportion to the number of licences taken away. "But," says the most rev. Primate, "I have spoken to several gentleman who are largely interested in this trade and they agree with me, and would be very glad to see this Amendment passed." He had not the smallest doubt they would. Why? They were perfectly aware of the conduct of the magistrates up to the present moment, and the magistrates had said, "Although it is very wise that we should diminish the number of public-houses we will not do it unless we can give them some compensation. We think it would be a wrong and injury to them to take away something that they have got, something which the nation has agreed they should have, unless you are going to give them compensation." What would happen? At the end of seven, fourteen, or twenty-five years, he did not care what number of years they fixed as their time limit, the action of the magistrates would remain. The law would be the same. The justices would say at the end of seven years or fourteen years what they did now; they would not permit the injustice of taking away a man's licence unless they could give some compensation. The action of the magistrates would be the same seven, fourteen, or even twenty-one years hence, and he did not wonder at the brewers, who were perfectly able to take care of themselves and who could see through the whole of this matter, saying to the most rev. Primate, "We shall be quite content with your plan, because we know perfectly well that at the end of any term of years the action of the magistrates will be as it is to-day, and we shall get through your 905 Amendment a permanent interest in the annual licence." For those reasons he strongly objected to the Amendment of the most rev. Primate.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I cannot help welcoming the speech of the noble Viscount as containing in its fulness a principle which we have always expected to lurk within the Bill. The most rev. Primate began his speech by endeavouring to establish the proposition that this Bill sets up something like a freehold where only au annual legal licence is conferred, but the noble Viscount proved the most rev. Primate's proposition even beyond any limit that the most rev. Primate can have conceived. He said that in seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years the claim for compensation would be exactly the same as it is now. I ask you, my Lords, in passing, to consider if there can be a more convincing proof of the contention of the most rev. Primate than the speech of the noble Viscount. What is it, after all, that the most rev. Primate wishes to enact? He wishes by a liberal provision of years to provide for the extinction of that interest which is not legal according to the admission even of the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack, but which is equitable according to the more charitable views of those who are interested, I will not say in the trade, but in the ordinary traditions of fair dealing as against a trade which it has been proved has been recognised far beyond the limits that the law contemplated. The most rev. Primate desires by a long period of years to extinguish those interests. I must confess I think Ins proposal unduly liberal to the interests which it is proposed to extinguish. But I do not suppose the most rev. Primate in his wildest dreams could have expected such support as he has received from the noble Viscount who has just sat down. The noble Viscount maintained that at the end of twenty-one years the interest of the licence-holder will be as great as it is at the present moment, that the magistrates at the end of twenty-one years will say, "We cannot extinguish this licence because it would be doing an injury to a man who has held it for all these years." There could be no greater proof of the proposition of the most rev. Prelate.
Now, my Lords, what is twenty-one years? It is the life of a young man. In Scotland we have a system of leases which is supposed to extinguish the interests of the tenant in nineteen years. But what 906 is the interest of the farming tenant in Scotland? It is an interest given by the landlord from an estate possessed by the landlord and taken over by the tenant on that understanding. What is the interest of the tenant in the licensed public-house? Why, we have had proclaimed from the Woolsack, in oracular tones, what I am bound to say we knew already, that the interest of the tenant is for one year and for one year only. I do not wish to push that argument too far; but contrast the position of the licence-holder with a licence of that description, which is not a bit better than the game licence which most of your Lordships take out, with the interest of the Scotch farming tenant which is supposed to be exhausted in nineteen years.
I have not taken part in the debates on this measure because I am well aware that many of your Lordships have wished to speak, and when many of your Lordships wish to speak I wish to remain silent, because I wish to give place to a better man. I quite admit the objections in detail to the proposition of the most rev. Primate. I see there are objections of partial injustice. There will always be objections of partial injustice in great propositions of reform in important classes of the community. My belief is simply this: that the ideal temperance reform is not by compensation. If I had the opportunity of introducing a Bill, I would not introduce compensation at all by money. I would have compensation entirely by the expiration of time. I do not care what your limit is; I am sure it would be much larger than either justice or equity demanded, but I am certain of this, that the only way in which you will ever achieve a real temperance reform in this country is by fixing a date, at the expiration of which all interest in the licence will be held to be exhausted, and the nation then will resume its claim, its absolute dominion, over the interests which have been so created at the expense of the State and of no other than the State.
My noble friend Lord Spencer, in his speech on the Second Reading, quoted figures which show the enormous value of the interests embarked in liquor—interests admittedly constituted, or largely constituted, since the important 907 decision in "Sharp v. Wakefield" when there could be no excuse for anyone interested in that trade saying he was not aware of the law and the interests which he possessed under the strict letter of the law. I agree with all that my noble friend said, but he did riot draw the particular deduction—at least, not in my hearing—which I should have made from those figures. My deduction from those figures is, of course, in the first instance that which was made by my noble friend, that this capital has been largely invested since the authoritative declaration of the law which no one could mistake; but the second deduction, to my mind, is infinitely more important than that, which is that these interests represent a capital—I will not say which should belong to the State, but which is the free gift of the State, or almost the free gift of the State, and which therefore is a heritage which the State is alienating. Until the State has resumed the control of that great boon which it has given to a particular interest there can be no real reform in regard to the liquor question, and the State itself—that is a minor view in comparison with public morality and public safety—cannot resume the revenues which it should draw from this interest, and which, as the Bishop of London clearly proved in his eloquent speech—one of the few speeches which I have heard in this House which was too short—are drawn by communities like New York from that interest. Well, my Lords, I say that you cannot any that the State by giving a licence or the public by giving a licence, whichever you choose to call it, gives an enormous profit very often to the person who holds that licence. There are instances of men who have been offered £18,000 for a licence before they left the hall in which that licence was granted. To whom does that £18,000 belong? According to the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, so far as I have been able to hear his argument, we are bound to compensate every extravagant price that has been given for a tied house because that price, forsooth, has been given while the Legislature did not interfere to prevent an extravagant price being given by private contract for a tied house. We are bound, if I followed the instance given by the 908 noble Marquess, to compensate every brewery shareholder who has made an unprofitable investment in a brewery company, because he said that there were brewery companies which had realised very poor dividends and which had an equitable claim, as I understand him, to compensation. What is this vast spectacle of compensation which the Government holds out to us—the Government which is so anxious, as he says, for temperance reform—the compensation to every human being who has made a foolish bargain, provided only that that foolish bargain be connected with liquor?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Not because he has made a foolish bargain, but because he has done it under a Parliamentary title.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Earl knows quite well that one-third of the licences are held under Parliamentary title, and that the remainder are held subject to the sanction of Parliament at that price because Parliament has taxed the holders at that price, and in all cases of expropriation for any public improvement they are paid for at that price.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I do not deny that the prices paid by the Government for expropriation are extravagant. I do not deny that one-third of the ante-1869 beerhouses are held under a tenure which I lament, but I am not disposed to say that because Parliament does not interfere with the annual tenure of the other two-thirds of the public-houses of this country that that constitutes a Parliamentary title, and that we are bound to compensate the extravagant prices which are paid under a misapprehension for houses held under that title. I do not wish to go into polemics on this question. The noble Marquess is not so versed in interruptions as he thinks. I have watched his very frequent interruptions, and if he cannot interrupt to better purpose than on the present occasion, I think he had better reserve himself for a 909 speech in reply. All I venture to urge is, that the Motion of the most rev. Primate contains terms which are most generous to the trade, that those who really wish for temperance and for the national control over this particular business, which is conferred and given by the nation without any just contribution in return, are bound to vote for the Amendment of the most rev. Primate. I, myself, do not think it errs on the side of generosity. I, myself, should prefer an Amendment which by simply giving a time limit to all licences without interference, except for misconduct, would give a valuable property which would be exhausted in fourteen years, or less possibly, but certainly in fourteen years, and which would bring this system to an end. There would be, I admit, no formal reduction of licences, but there would be practically a reduction of licences because the non-paying licences, many of which are only kept going in the hope of compensation, and in the hope of being bought up by some of these brewery companies, would extinguish themselves, knowing as they would that their doom was coming within a limited time. I say, then, that I would welcome the most rev. Primate's Amendment as an important step in licensing reform, but speaking individually I cannot believe it to be conclusive—I do not believe it to be the best form of reform. I think that by that which I have sketched out, which would be intelligible, simple, and which would extinguish licences much more than is generally supposed, you would arrive at a better result than even the most rev. Primate will achieve, and certainly better than the Bill of the Government can hope to promote.
*THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I think we all regretted we did not have the advantage of an expression of the views of the noble Earl who has just sat down upon the Second Reading of this Bill. I am very glad, indeed, that the noble Earl has repaired that omission to-night, not only by giving us his views on the Amendment of the most rev. Primate, but by telling us what, if he had been in the place of His Majesty's Government, would have been the sort of temperance legislation he would have asked the country to accept. The noble Earl would have given a time limit and nothing else. I do not think 910 he specifically stated the number of years to which the time limit should extend. Possibly he might take the number of years that the most rev. Primate looks forward to, namely, twenty-one years. I do not know what the exact amount might be, but this I do know, that the policy is not a new policy, but is one which was introduced by a member of the noble Earl's Party, the late Lord Aberdare, and I say that the result of that policy would be for that period, be it long or be it short, to keep in existence every one of those houses which are considered undesirable, and which can be done away with under the provisions of the Bill before the House. I say that the policy would stereotype for the whole of that period the existence of those houses. The noble Earl said the non-paying houses would be got rid of, but the noble Earl seemed to think those houses are not disappearing now. They are, however, disappearing every year, and I do not believe for a moment the passing of this Bill will make any difference in the continuance of these houses. They will be the very first houses that the magistrates will recommend quarter sessions to abolish because they will not be worth anything. They will say, "Here is a house doing no business whatever. It will cost you nothing to buy it out, therefore let it be the very first to try an experiment on," and these houses will disappear in a wholesale manner throughout the country. The noble Earl made a great point of the monopoly which the State has alienated. I deplore quite as much as the noble Earl that that monopoly has been alienated by the State, but it has been done. Large sums of money have changed hands on the part of very innocent persons and not only on the part of those who have made large sums of money out of the liquor traffic. Large sums have passed owing to the State having alienated that monopoly, and I ask, are your Lordships going to say the State is to resume possession of that monopoly without giving compensation to those who have so invested their money? I think we are rather confusing two subjects in the way we are dealing with the Amendment of the most rev. Primate. There is first the expectancy of the renewal of licences, and, secondly, the resumption by the State of the monopoly value which it has 911 alienated. The Bill of the Government does not pretend to deal with the question of the resumption of the monopoly value. The Amendment does. But what the Government proposes is to deal with the question of the expectancy of renewal which is entertained by every licence-holder in the country. It may not be a well-founded expectation, but at any rate it has existed for a very large number of years, and the Government propose to take away that expectancy of renewal from the licence-holder by the process of making him insure against its loss.
I heard the noble Marquess opposite, I think, say that there was ample reserve funds in the hands of the trade to provide for insurance after the fourteen years, and during the ensuing seven years in which they are to be secured by the most rev. Primate. Well, my Lords, but what are the burdens in connection with the extinction of licences which are being put upon this trade? In the first place, they were told in 1890 by Mr. Goschen that an additional tax must be placed upon whiskey in order that licences might be expropriated. That tax was duly put on, but no licences were expropriated and the trade up to this moment has continued to pay that tax, although no licences have been expropriated. Then they are told to, and I believe they do, insure against the risk, which is not altered by the Bill, of forfeiture owing to misconduct. Then, thirdly, they are to make the provision required by the Bill, and now the most rev. Primate says in addition to that they must set by during the short period of seven years a sum sufficient to compensate them for that which the State will take away without any compensation at the end of the third seven years. After fourteen years they will have to set apart another sinking fund which is to provide for the extinction of their monopoly value. But the most rev. Primate says: Yes, but what a golden harvest they will make during these seven years! I ask, is it in the interest of the State that they should make this golden harvest? It will mean that for seven years they cannot lose their licences even on compensation. It will mean that they must push their opportunity to the utmost they possibly can in order that they may recoup the amount of money they are 912 to lose under the proposals of the most rev. Primate. All I can say is that, in my opinion, every part of the value of the licence-holder's property—and I am not afraid to use the word property—that was not fully compensated for during those seven years would be so much property confiscated. Why do we want this time limit? Under the Bill the extinction of licences will go on continuously, and I believe by the time fourteen years have expired, and perhaps earlier, there will not be more licences in existence—and they will be carried on in well conducted, convenient houses—than are required for the interest of the population of this country; but if there be, the compensation fund will continue, the remaining houses as they become more valuable will have to pay more towards that fund and so house after house, wherever one is not required, can be extinguished under the Bill.
My Lords, after all this is a new departure. It is an experiment. The noble Marquess opposite said he did not wish to have his hands tied. My Lords, His Majesty's Government do not wish to tie the hands of this country. Why should we look ahead for twenty-one years? There is nothing in the world at the end of seven or fourteen years to prevent the most rev. Primate coming forward and making the proposal he makes to-night, and we shall have the advantage at the end of that time of all the experience of the extent to which licences will have been extinguished by this Bill. So your Lordships will be better advised, instead of tying your hands for twenty-one years from this year 1904, to allow the Bill to pass in the condition in which it now is, and to give an opportunity to Parliament, and possibly to noble Lords opposite or their friends at the end of fourteen years, of bringing in another measure, even for confiscation, if they can persuade the people of this country to accept such a measure.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
said he had come down to the House in the fullest hope that even at this eleventh hour on the debate on that great question it might have been possible for a compromise to be arrived at—a reasonable settlement which would appeal not to heated partisan feeling, but to the general sense 913 of fairness and justice of the country. The most rev. Primate came forward with a suggestion, which he himself, holding the views that he did, found very difficult to accept. He said for the sake of peace and for the sake of looking forward to a period when we would get rid of compensation by the State and of this monopoly enjoyed by individuals, let us have a period of fourteen years during which there will be a halycon period of security. But that was not all. After that halcyon period had expired there was to be a seven years supplementary period of lease during which the whole profits of their trade, which he thought would be very considerable, would go into the pockets of the licence-holders. That seemed to be a very large concession to make. The Amendment, he understood, even proposed to bring within its scope the ante-1869 beer-houses, thus giving them a most liberal system of compensation. He hoped he should not seem extreme when he said that he regarded these beerhouses as absolutely unentitled to any consideration of compensation whatsoever. It was by a mere chance that they ever got into the privileged position they occupied, and more than that, in the year 1882 when it was the brewers' interest to get rid of competition, they joined with other parties in sweeping out of existence without an atom of compensation, a great number of off-licences, which had just as much right, if any right existed, as the on-licences had. Was the consideration of the House to be extended to these 1882 beerhouses which were swept away? But extreme as he thought the concession of the most rev. Primate to be, he for one was ready to accept it because he regarded it as a way out of the difficulty. He had never presumed to think that the Government would not accept such a compromise, which they could easily have made acceptable in the other House if they chose, and which they were told that night on high authortiy had been accepted by some of the best, the most respectable, and the leading members of the trade itself. If their Lordships, by the division that night, rejected this most liberal and extreme compromise which had been offered to the trade, he very much doubted whether they would be able to persuade 914 the country ever to make such a liberal offer again. He regretted it.
He was proud to hear the noble Earl Lord Rosebery say that he was against any money compensation. He was very proud to hear that, because that had always been his own view from the first, and he had expressed it in his Report. He held that there should be a time notice issued to the trade, and that for an unexpired period of that notice commutation should be allowed, because the licences would be taken away from the trade at an earlier period. Those left for the period of years would have the full enjoyment of the period, and they would have exhausted any right they had. A seven years period, he admitted, might be too short. Let them make it fourteen, but do let them at the end of it see some chance of getting rid of this present state of things in regard to which the Government themselves had held out a hope and a promise that it might come to an end by their system of the seven years licence, which they themselves had advocated Whether he period was seven years or ten or even fourteen, they would at the end of it see some chance of getting rid of the present state of things. If they could only get some hope of an end of the present state of things he would accept almost anything, but if hese terms were not accepted then, speaking for himself, he should feel at liberty to adhere to his own plan of a notice of seven years for England and five years for Scotland. But let them make it more than that if they liked, rather than go on perpetuating this trade, perpetuating the vested interest, tying up the hands of posterity for all time, and continuing a state of things which, in its present conditon, was absolutely intolerable to the country at large.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF RIPON
said he ventured for a few moments to intervene and to express what appeared to him a just and reasonable view of the present proposal before their Lordships. He had been one of those who had never been able to share the strong and, perhaps he might be forgiven if he said the fanatical, opposition to every conceivable idea of compensation. In his judgment, it might be perfectly true law that the members of this trade were not entitled 915 to any compensation, but on the other hand, it did seem to him that it would be a very ungenerous and unworthy attitude on the part of any of these entrusted with the legislation of the country to take up the position that, when they had allowed certain interests to grow up they would s and on legal rights and not on equitable considerations.
But he had another reason, which he ventured with all humility to put before their Lordships and to ask them to consider. There was no moment of a man' life in which he ought to act with greater consideration for others than the moment when he was assured that he had embarked on an enterprise for good, because (and this is almost always the dark shadow which waits on the enthusiasms of men) they are tempted, in their earnestness to abolish a great abuse, to forget the just steps by which alone that abuse can be vitally remedied. The history of the past was instinct with examples to remind them that the policy of achieving good at the expense of a little evil had almost always reacted on the progress of good. While he found himself, as he believed the majority of the Members on both sides of that House found themselves, earnestly desirous to put an end to a state of things which contributed to the misery, poverty, and degeneration of this country, then, because conscious of a real enthusiasm to do something to put an end to that state of things, he was the more apprehensive and the more anxious to ask himself whether the method which seemed to be right would transgress by one iota the interest of others.
He could not see one iota of injustice in the method which had been proposed by the most rev. Primate. It was in the nature of a twenty-one years notice given to the trade. Did it do any injustice collectively to the trade? He thought not. The whole trade collectively would have the advantage of trading for twenty-one years with this advantage given into their hands that the last seven years, were to be seven years of uninterrupted progress. They would be the seven not lean, but fat years of their licences. If the value of the licence was diminished as a saleable commodity as the twenty-one years came to a close, was the value of the trade diminished during those 916 twenty-one years? Was it not the fact that those who were the survivors would be in a position in which they were making considerably more profit than would otherwise be the case? and therefore it seemed to him that collectively the position of the trade would be one in which there was not one iota of injustice. Was the Amendment unjust to the individual? It was urged that it was the survivor who would be the unfortunate person, but, in his opinion, the wise and far-seeing business man would elect to take advantage of the seven fat years rather than accept compensation at the end of fourteen years. If he thought for one instant that by carrying this measure they would inflict an injustice on the individual, he would rather postpone it for ten years. But he did not believe that. He had been strongly apprehensive of the danger of a time limit until he had been shown there was to be no interference, because the prolongation of opportunity was an abundant opportunity for the man who did not receive compensation at an earlier period. For that reason he hoped some modus vivendi might be found by which the principle of this Amendment would be accepted and passed by their Lordships.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
said that on the Second Reading of the Bill he had ventured to say that while he saw many elements of good in the Bill and many elements which he considered a step in the direction of temperance reform, at the same time there were shortcomings, which he would have liked to see filled up, and it was because he thought to a large measure this Amendment did supply these deficiencies that he was inclined to vote for it on the division. It seemed to him that the difference between the Government and those who were in favour of this Amendment was that they were satisfied with a general reduction of licences, rapid perhaps or slow, while those in favour of the Amendment were anxious to get rid of the present system altogether. The chief argument against the Amendment had been the one put forward by the noble Viscount, Lord Cross, who said that if it was unfair and unjust to take away a licence without giving compensation to-day, it was equally unjust to take away a licence without 917 giving compensation to-morrow or seven or fourteen years hence. With that he entirely agreed, but were they in the Amendment going to take away the licence without giving compensation?
There were two ways in which compensation could be given, either in money as under this Bill, or in time as had been suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery. He undoubtedly agreed with him in preferring that principle to the principle laid down in the Bill, but at the same time this Amendment seemed to be a mixture of the two systems, and in his opinion it lacked the faults of both of them, because, as had been so well pointed out by Lord Onslow, the main objection to a system of compensation by time was that during that period you could not refuse licences. While that period is going on you stereotype and fix all existing licences, but it seemed to him that with the Amendment of the most rev. Primate the licences would be refused with compensation under the principle of the Bill, and then at the end of the time, seven years would be given in which licences would survive, and at the end of that time all existing licences would lapse. What, then, would be the position of the noble Marquess who spoke against the Amendment on behalf of the Government? What would be the position of the man who survived, and who would have held his licence for fourteen years and have paid his insurance? He would then have his licence fixed for seven years, and as had been pointed out by several speakers the value of his licensed house would be very much greater than it was to-day, and with all deference to Lord Cross, who said that if you reduce licences you will also reduce the drink, he thought it would be admitted that the proportion between the reduction of licences and of drink was not so great as to prevent the value of the remaining licences going up considerably. In the case of the man who held his licence for twenty-one years, in all probability his licence would be renewed on a new system which would reserve the monopoly value to the State. It was true the business of that man after the twenty-one years would not be so valuable as it was to-day, but was it not because they held his business was too precious to him and 918 too costly to the State that they wished to see this Amendment carried out? His licence would be renewed to him, but on different terms.
He seemed to see two drawbacks to this Amendment. One was that it was useless to put an end to the existing system unless they had something to put in its place, and it seemed to him that the system in Clause 4 was not sufficiently defined to give a satisfactory alternative to the present system. Therefore he confessed that he would like to see the whole question treated in another Bill, where a very definite system would be introduced to take the place of the present one at the end of fourteen years; but not only that, he felt there was no very definite provision in the Amendment of the most rev. Primate for securing that the licences should all terminate at the end of twenty-one years. They might or they might not. He would, on the whole, prefer to see the whole question settled in another Bill which would bring all licences under the present system to an end in a definite period and establish another system in its place.
§ *EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I suppose the debate on this important question is not likely to last very much longer, and I shall not prolong it to any extent, but I should like, as I feel very strongly on the subject, to address to your Lordships a few words on what has passed during the discussion of the Amendment of the most rev. Primate. My Lords, I confess I am deeply disappointed at the result of the debate. I am not disappointed at the arguments which have been used by the most rev. Primate and others, because I think they have been couched in the most moderate terms, in the most clear terms, and in the most able terms. But I confess I am disappointed at the speeches we have heard from the Front Bench opposite. My Lords, I have the greatest respect for the noble Marquess and I should conceive that he was a most moderate man in his opinions and ready to consider a broad view of any question, and not the immediate view, but the view which would have effect in the future. Well, my Lords, I am afraid I have been disappointed with his speech. The noble 919 Marquess has really spoken as almost the absolute advocate of what I called in my speech the school of complete property. He has entirely neglected what I conceive to be a very prominent condition in this matter, and that is the legal position in which all these licence-holders are. They hold this monopoly of enormous value from the State on a basis which is not that of complete property. We have had it over and over again from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack and others that this licence which is given to them by the State is only held for one year. But, as I said the other day, property of enormous value has been put into the hands of the brewing interest. Well, my Lords, they must have known that this property was not an absolute property; they must have known that it was a property held under certain conditions.
There are other points of the noble Marquess's speech which I feel rather strongly about. There is a question of what would happen at the end of this period which the most rev. Primate gives us. I do not see that at the end of the period the question of giving power to the magistrates is to be considered unless there is an absolute right to some compensation—I mean a right to some money value for their position. There would be many people, quite fair and unprejudiced persons, who might be on the bench. The noble Marquess the other day, to whom I am quite sure I should be quite ready to trust any interest I have judicially, I think pointed to the noble Viscount, Lord Peel, and said, that if there had been a bench over which the noble Viscount was presiding, do you think that people would like to appeal to him? There is a class of people in this country who never believe that anybody can take action or give a decision independent of private motive. I always rebel against that. When I find the noble Marquess saying that the noble Viscount could not be trusted in a matter of this sort I am surprised, and I protest against it, because I think it is a very unjust view to take, and because I am sure of the high impartiality of the noble Viscount. Whatever he has said on the subject, were he sitting judicially on this question I am sure everybody could have complete confidence in him.
920 In regard to other matters the noble Marquess said that the proposal of the most rev. Primate amounted to pillage. I am surprised at such a doctrine as that, and if such violent views as that are taken, and when I see an absence of fair feeling and moderation on the subject, I feel in despair of appealing to your Lordships' House to bring this question to a satisfactory conclusion. I feel the greatest possible interest in this question. I know what enormous feeling there is in the country about it. I believe that the view we and the most rev. Primate take is perfectly fair and just towards the brewers and the brewing interest, and yet this proposition is scouted by the noble Marquess and the Government and no consideration whatever given to it. I am in despair when I consider such a view has been taken on this great subject. I lament it extremely, and I look with immense horror, if I may use such a word, as to what is likely to happen in the future in connection with this subject. I do not know if the noble Marquess and the Government understand what a deep feeling there is on this subject of licensing and temperance reform in the country. There is the deepest desire to take Some broad step to minimise this evil. The noble Marquess himself thinks that also but taking this Bill, which gives an enormous gift in perpetuity to the brewing interest, I maintain that it will not do anything to settle this great question. It will only add to the difficulties in the future, and in the future we shall have a greater agitation on this subject and greater difficulty than ever. I quite admit, and I bow to the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, that we shall have to deal with it. He gives us a long life and he tells us that fourteen years hence we may be dealing with it. It is very kind of him to give us such a long life, and it is quite possible some of us on this side may be alive then and in office then, though I do not think I shall be. I express my deep regret at the tone and turn given to this debate, and I deplore that the Government cannot hold out some hope of a compromise on this great subject, which would bring it to an end.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, I believe 921 I am expressing my own feelings and those of my friends when I say that nothing would have given us greater satisfaction than to have found it consistent with our convictions to go into the same lobby with the most rev. Primate. In the first place it would be agreeable to us to act with one who throughout these discussions has approached the subject in such an admirable spirit of fairness and moderation, and, if I may be allowed to add, speaking for myself, I would say this, that I should have been glad to join with him in an attempt to resume for the public that great heritage of which he spoke and to support, if it were possible to do so, some reasonable scheme for extinguishing the monopoly value of these licences. I regard it as an unhealthy excrescence for the existence of which we are ourselves responsible, and if the most rev. Primate had been able to show us some way of getting rid of the monopoly value by a scheme fair to the persons concerned in this trade, and also not unduly onerous to those out of whose pockets the necessary compensation would have been derived, I should have been the first to recognise the value of the most rev. Primate's service. But I am constrained to say that I do not believe the proposal he has laid before your Lordships' House can be described in any such language.
The noble Earl on the Cross Benches, Lord Rosebery, supported the most rev. Primate's Amendment, but he laid before your Lordships a plan of his own and it was not by any means the plan of the most rev. Primate. It was a plan different from the proposals of the most rev. Primate on the one hand and I need not say different from the Bill of His Majesty's Government. My noble friend Lord Lytton put the case very clearly when he said that you can provide the necessary compensation for getting rid of the monopoly value either in time or in money. The noble Earl's proposal was that compensation should be offered in time, but, my Lords, is it not clear that if compensation in that shape is to be given it carries with it as an essential idea the idea of immunity whilst the time limit is running? The Government Bill, on the contrary, is based on an idea essentially of a different description. The essential principle in our Bill is that 922 we should obtain out of the pockets of the trade itself the means of putting an end to those licences which can be shown to be redundant, and it seems to me absolutely impossible to graft the scheme of the noble Earl on the Cross Benches on the scheme of the Government Bill.
Well, my Lords, one word as to the proposal of the most rev. Primate. He has explained to the House that it is his great desire to afford to those who will be dispossessed of their licences an equitable and adequate measure of compensation. Now, my Lords, what is the measure of compensation which the most rev. Primate offers? He proposes that there shall be a total time limit of twenty-one years, and the noble Earl on the Cross Benches dwelt on the length of that period, comparing it with the nineteen years for which a Scotch agricultural lease runs. My Lords, analogies are always rather dangerous things, and I am not sure that agricultural analogies are not especially dangerous, although I used one myself the other night. But has not the noble Earl considered that the position of the Scotch tenant at the beginning of the nineteen years lease is not quite the same as the position of the present holder of a licence? I am under the impression that the Scotch tenant comes in with an absolutely clean slate. He may be an outsider. He takes the farm, and during the nineteen years he makes what he can out of it; but the licence-holder with whom we are dealing is a person who has already got the licence and who is entitled to expect that he will continue to possess it if he conducts himself properly.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
No certainly not, but he has held his licence for a period of years during which he has had a reasonable expectation of having that licence renewed.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I think the noble Marquess forgets that there must be a beginning for a licence as there is for a lease.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I do not think that argument will hold 923 water. I wish to compare the position of the Scotch tenant, whom the noble Earl cited, at the beginning of his nineteen years lease and that of the licensee with whom we have to deal, and I maintain that the position of the two men is wholly different. I come back to the proposal of the most rev. Primate. His period of twenty-one years is divided into two parts. There is in the first place a period of fourteen years during which the licensee will continue to pay the insurance which can be levied from him under this Bill. During these fourteen years you are giving the licensee nothing; you are, to use a familiar expression, giving the dog a bite off his own tail, and so far as those fourteen years are concerned you cannot I claim that you are compensating the persons concerned. Then comes the final period of seven years—those seven years which the most rev. Primate describes a the halcyon years. I confess I do not see in the position of the licensee in those seven years anything so particularly attractive. We tell him, so it is suggested, that he is to push his trade for all it is worth, and reap a golden harvest, and I suppose in that short period of time to accumulate savings sufficient to indemnify him against the misfortunes which impend upon him. But at the end of the seven years comes "the blind Fury with the abhorred shears," and the poor man's life becomes of the most precarious description. I cannot honestly say that either in the fourteen years or the seven years is really to be found that amount of full and equitable compensation which I understand most Members of your Lordships' House desire to be provided for those whose business prospects are to be threatened.
But, my Lords, look at it from I another point of view. What does the public get under this arrangement of the most rev. Primate? Why, my Lords, the most rev. Primate and many other advocates of temperance look forward to a moment when it will be possible to deal in a much more enterprising fashion with the great question of temperance and with
§ the question of monopoly value. But, under the proposal of the most rev. Primate that moment is to be put off for no less than twenty-one years, the life of a man, as the noble Lord on the Cross Benches said. It is that proposal that is recommended to us by noble Lords who beg and implore us that we should do nothing to tie the hands of our successors How can we tie the hands of our successors more effectually than by setting up this period of twenty-one years, during which nothing can be done? I am constrained to say that while my inclination is to admire anything that is proposed to us by the most rev. Primate, I can see in the recommendation he has made to us nothing, except what is. foreign to the purpose of our Bill, unjust, to the licensees, and likely, I fear, to oppose a considerable obstacle to future measures of reform.
§ *EARL GREY
said he had heard with the greatest possible satisfaction the unqualified expressions of opinions from the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, and the noble Marquess who had just addressed the House on the question of monopolies. The former regarded monopoly as outrageous and the latter spoke of it as an unhealthy excrescence. On the discussion of the next clause it would be easy for him to point out that under the Bill in its present form the Government were giving a new monopoly to the holders of existing licences, and as he had never attached much importance to the time limit provided the compensation to existing licences was limited to their value at the time of the passing of the Act, he would vote with the Government against the Amendment of the most rev. Primate in the belief that the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, and the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, would be faithful in the discussions which would take place on Clause 2 to the declarations they had made against monopolies.
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Contents, 52; Not-Contents, 126.925
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Camperdown, E.||Kimberley, E.|
|Carlisle, E.||Lytton, E.|
|Ripon, M.||Carrington, E.||Northbrook, E.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Portsmouth, E.|
|Beauchamp, E. [Teller]||Crewe, E.||Spencer, E.|
|Tankerville, E.||Norwich, L. Bp.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine)|
|Temple, E.||Peterborough, L. Bp.|
|Ripon, L. Bp.||Farrer, L.|
|Cobham, V.||St. Albans, L. Bp.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||St. David's L. Bp.||Monkswell, L.|
|Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen)||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Peel, V.||Armstrong, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Balfour, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery)|
|Biddulph, E.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Bath and Wells, L. Bp.||Brassey, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Chester, L. Bp.||Braye, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Durham, L. Bp.||Burghclere, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Hereford, L. Bp.||Coleridge, L. [Teller]||Sudley, L.(E. Arran)|
|Lichfield, L. Bp.||Davey, L.||Welby, L.|
|London, L. Bp.||Denman, L.|
|Halsbury, E (L. Chancellor)||Lathom, E.||Deramore, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry)(L. President)||Londesborough, E.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal)||Mayo, E.||Estcourt, L.|
|Northesk, E.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow)|
|Argyll, D.||Onslow, E.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall)|
|Grafton, D.||Powis, E.||Forester, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Rosslyn, E.||Glanusk, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Saint Germans, E.||Glenesk, L.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Selborne, E.||Hampton, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Shrewsbury, E.||Harris, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Hatherton, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn)||Waldegrave, E. [Teller]||Hylton, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Westmeath, E.||Kenyon, L.|
|Bath, M.||Wharncliffe, E.||Killanin, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Yarborough, E.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll)|
|Camden, M.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Churchill, V. [Teller]||Lawrence, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Colville of Culross, V.||Lindley, L.|
|Hertford, M.||Cross, V.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Halifax, V.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly)|
|Winchester, M.||Hood, V.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham)|
|Zetland, M.||Hutchinson, V.(E Donoughmore)||Montagu of Beaulieu, T,|
|Knutsford, V.||Newton, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward)||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Landaff, L. Bp.||Raglan, L.|
|Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain)||Rathmore, L.|
|Bathursd, E.||Addington, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Alington, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Allerton, L.||Robertson, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.||Rosmead, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Barnard, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Derby, E.||Belper, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry)||Bolton, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton)||Suffield, L.|
|Drogheda, E.||Burnham, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Burton, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Feversham, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss)|
|Grey, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Haddington, E.||Cloncurry, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Colchester, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Howe, E.||Crawshaw, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Clause 2—
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
said that the object of his Amendment was that there should be no doubt as to the valuation that should be put on these premises. 926 Their Lordships had been discussing the question of valuation, and they must remember that these licence-holders paid death duties, and what was wanted was that the valuation for compensation should be on the same principle as it was assessed 927 on in the case of the death duties. He was told that the words were covered by what was in the Bill. That was so far satisfactory, but he was very anxious that there should be no possible doubt. He begged to move.
In page 2, lines 5 and 6, to leave out the words, 'value of the licensed premises,' and insert the words, 'market value of the premises as licensed premises.'"—(The Earl of Wemyss.)
§ LORD BELPER
I am informed that these alterations in the words are not necessary and that the object of the noble Lord is protected by the Finance Act. Practically the meaning of value is the same as that which he has given.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
said this was a very important confession that was made by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill. If he understood the Amendment aright the value which would be called into existence was the value which the brewers owning the tied houses had in the supplying of beer to these houses.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The only point, as I understand it, is to put in market value instead of value. These words mean the same thing, and there is really no reason for the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
said the noble Lord had stated the object he had in view. He asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave of the Committee, withdrawn.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said he had put down his Amendment, which was a somewhat long one, in order to raise essentially the question of the basis of calculating the value for compensation. He believed when the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons, they were told that the value was to be the value before the passing of the Act, and before the 928 accumulation of value through the diminution of other licences. But the words had been changed in the course of passing the Bill through the Commons. They had a pathetic appeal, coupled with an attempt to compromise two members of the Government, just before the last division from the noble Earl below the Gangway, and he seemed to think he had got by his own construction of utterances by two members of the Government that this value was to be the value, not hereafter, but at the time of the passing of the Act. He did not believe for one minute that that was the operation of the clause as drawn, but he did want very clearly to secure that the value upon which compensation should be paid should not be the enhanced value, but the value before the licences were increased in value by the operation of the Bill. He thought the proposal in the Bill to measure value by death duties was an extremely delusive and wrong basis. It had been admitted that between 80 and 90 per cent. of these licensed houses were tied houses, the property of the great brewery companies. A limited company did not die, and, therefore, their interest in the licence never came to be valued for the death duties. If the magistrates cancelled or refused to renew a licence for a house in any town or populous district belonging to one of these companies what would be the effect? The brewery company would come and say that this particular public-house should be valued for what it was worth as if the owner had died. He was told that the usual thing in a town or populous district was for these brewery trusts or companies to get nearly all the public-houses in the place, and in one town they would find only two or three powerful companies. It was quite clear that, if in a town like Carlisle or Wigan, or any of those populous towns, they were to suppress two of these licences, the trust would be none the worse off, because the benefit to the remaining houses would go to the trust. But they would be compensating the brewery company on the basis that the licence had been sold in the open market. But it would never be valued because there would be no death at which the value could be calculated.
Let them consider the case of a good sized village where there were two public-houses. Did anyone doubt that if one was 929 closed the other one would get practically the great bulk of the business of the village? Therefore, they wanted a system of valuation which would record the value at the time of the passing of this Act, and before any additional profit could accrue. He believed that in London, to some extent, the rateable value of licensed houses had been brought into some reasonable relation to their real value, but he was told that in the great mass of the country that had been very much evaded and that the public-houses were, in fact, rated at nothing like what they ought to be in relation to what the yearly tenant would pay. They were told that the arrangements for tied houses were very various. Sometimes they would be let at a high rent. More often the rent was not high, but the profit was made by compelling the publican, who might be a three months man, or a man who gave a blank transfer to the company, a mere man of straw, to buy all sorts of things at a very exorbitant price. One of the objects, he had no doubt, was to defraud the ratepayers by having the house appearing at a fictitious and low rate. In many cases the brewing companies and others had taken care to have the rateable value very much lower than the real value, and he had thought it would not be quite fair to take advantage of their dishonesty and permanently fix the compensation at the value they had put in as their yearly value, and the latter part of the Amendment was to open the door if they challenged the rateable value to enable them to come forward and say what the real value was. The Court of quarter sessions would sit in judgment and determine what the true value was, and that would be taken as true value for compensation. His object was to fix clearly that the basis of compensation should be the value at the time when this Act was passed and not the value when subsequent advantages had accrued. It was obviously quite impossible after a few years to say what was the value of a public-house at the time when the Act was passed. But if they took the value once and for all and recorded it there was no going back on it. That, he thought, had been recommended by the Majority Report of Lord Peel's Commission as well as by the minority of the Commission.
930 To come to the next part of his Amendment, he considered that as a basis of compensation ten years purchase of the difference between the licensed value and the non-licensed value of the house was ample value on which to award compensation for a precarious interest. As the property had been held in the past, it could be forfeited for misconduct or at the discretion of the magistrates, and he thought the ten years purchase was an ample amount to allow as a maximum, but he did not think it necessarily followed that every house to be extinguished should get that maximum, He held that there were many houses where the magistrates shrank from enforcing the strict letter of the law and forfeiting a licence for bad management, but where nevertheless there was such substantial bad management that the house was not by any means entitled to the full measure of compensation to be given to the well managed, well built, and well placed house suitable to the trade. He thought the magistrates dealing with this question were eminently fitted to judge as to the quality of the house and how much should be abated from the compensation on account of what he called the dubious and suspicious character of the house. There was the thing called the "long pull," which he dared say some Members of the House knew better than he did, and there might be the supplying of drink to a constable on duty and also keeping open after legal hours. In fact, there were a great many things which might be enforced for a ground for refusing a licence, but which the magistrates were inclined to treat leniently and to pass over with a caution. It was quite obvious that these dubious houses which were continuously at the edge of the law and sometimes overstepping it, ought to have these facts taken into consideration in connection with the measure of compensation to be awarded.
Under the Bill the two questions of compensation and of the character of the House would be absolutely separated. The brewster magistrates would not be able to bring these two things before the same tribunal. Therefore they had not the same simple, easy, and familiar way of dealing with these things as before when the whole matter 931 was in the discretion of the magistrates. Under this Bill the facts laid before the Court of quarter sessions and the Committee of quarter sessions would be different in the two different cases. He therefore felt very strongly that the other part of his Amendment was of importance, namely, that there should be power to vary compensation according to the judgment of the Court. He thought that most noble Lords would feel that these country gentlemen who had been accustomed to serve their county for a long time were fair-minded men bringing an adequate legal mind with common sense and fair play to the consideration of these cases, and that they were well able ao assess compensation. [Cries of "Divide."] He was sorry to detain their Lordships, but the measure of compensation was one of the most important parts of the Bill. He had a copy of the Bill marked as it passed through the House of Commons, and he saw that the whole of this Section II. which they were now discussing passed under the closure both in Committee and on Report, while important Amendments brought in by the Government which were not in the original Bill had never been discussed at all.
The next point in his Amendment was the apportionment of the compensation as finally awarded. He did not say that was so necessary a part of his Amendment as the others. He proposed that the authority in determining the compensation should also determine among the various interests involved how the money should be distributed. Later in the Bill there was a clause that a tenant should at any rate be compensated as if he was a yearly tenant, however short his tenure. There was another Amendment on the Paper to compensate the employees, but he did not attach the same importance to that He had tried to be as brief as possible consistent with explaining the object of his Amendment.
In page 2, line 5, to leave out from the second word 'the' to the end of the subsection, and insert the words 'rateable value of the licensed premises and the rateable value the same premises would bear if not licensed at the time of the passing of this Act, capitalised at such sum not exceeding ten years purchase
of such excess value as the Court of quarter sessions or their committee, or in a county borough the licensing authority, shall think reasonable to be distributed between the licensed holder and other persons interested in the licence as the licensing authority shall think equitable. Provided that if a person interested in licensed premises is dissatisfied with such rateable value as giving a true measure of the yearly value of the licensed premises, he may within three months of the passing of this Act declare what in his opinion was the true annual value before the passing of this Act of the said licensed premises, and the quarter sessions or their committee, or in a county borough the licensing authority, shall consider and determine what was the true annual value, and the value so determined shall be the value on the basis of which compensation shall be awarded.'
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said if the whole of the noble Lord's Amendment were put it would cut out the whole of the noble Earl's. If the value of the premises were struck out the way was left clear for other Amendments.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
said he was going to suggest that the question of capitalisation of value was a separate and independent matter which might form part of another Amendment.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said the House would see that if the whole of the sub-section was to stand part the next Amendment would be cut out.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I must take the Amendment as I find it. I have no complaint to make of the noble Earl for having explained his Amendment at some length, but I confess I do rather deprecate the kind of general charge of dishonesty which the noble Lord thought it right to make against a 1arge number of persons engaged in a perfectly legitimate trade. I am sure he does not mean that everybody engaged in the liquor trade is dishonest.
*LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said what he stated was that where premises were rated at a very much lower rate than the real rateable value it was dishonest.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The laws of this country provide a remedy 933 for low rating, and it is the business of the overseers and officials at quarter sessions to see that property is rated at its full value, and to accuse a perfectly honest trade of dishonesty because the noble Lord thinks their property is in some cases rated too low is using language which I think he would hardly justify if he thought of it afterwards. The noble Lord has deprecated the method which we propose for assessing this compensation, and says the method of applying to the Inland Revenue is wrong. I think he misunderstands the provisions of the Bill when he says the Inland Revenue would never have to rate these particular houses because, belonging to a company, they were never subject to death duties. Sub-section 2 of Clause 2 says the amountshall be determined by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in the same manner, and subject to the like appeal to the High Court as on the valuation of an estate for the purpose of estate duty.That is to say, they shall proceed on the same methods as when they have to value an estate when subject to death duties. That is all the clause says, and it appears a perfectly reasonable and straightforward proposition. Many things have been said about quarter sessions in these debates, and I observe the Inland Revenue now does not escape censure, but I think he would be a rash man who would lay it down that the highest Courts of the realm were really not competent to form an estimate of the value of licensed premises upon the basis of taking the value licensed and the value unlicensed. I think even the censorious mind of the noble Lord opposite will admit that the High Court is competent for such work, and I think it is preferable to rateable value, which is an annual thing. The basis which we propose is the capital value of the difference between the value of the house when licensed and when not licensed. As the compensation is to be a capital sum, it seems much more reasonable to estimate it on a capital value than to take rateable value, which is an annual sum, and necessitates your going one step further and then determining how many years purchase would be fair. That seems to be a very roundabout way of getting at capital value. I should, of course, deprecate ten years as a proper 934 figure. It is hardly necessary for me to argue it. I do not wish the House to approve of rateable value at all, but in order to deal as respectfully as I can with the remarks of the noble Lord, I might just say that I do not think ten years purchase does represent the capital value which under the proposals of the Bill we are bound to pay in compensation to the licence-holder. The Government prefer the Inland Revenue and the method of the death duties rather than the rateable value which is proposed by the noble Lord.
The next and most important part of the Amendment is the proposal to stereotype the basis upon which to calculate compensation. The noble Lord proposes to stereotype it and take the value of the licensed house at the present moment and not the value of the licensed house when the licence is suppressed. I do not think that is an appropriate way to proceed when your Lordships reflect that the principle on which the provisions of this Bill are drawn is that a system of compulsory insurance should be set up. That is what our proposal amounts to. Compulsory insurance of course implies that the value of what a man loses should be insured to him, and the value of what he loses is the difference between the value it will be at the moment when the public - house is suppressed and the value it was the moment before, and that represents what he loses, what he compulsorily insured for, and what he ought to receive. I believe that what the noble Lord thinks is that under the Government proposal the liquor interest and the landlord might get too much money—that if the difference between the rateable value before the Act was passed and the then rateable value were taken the licensee would receive less than he would under the provisions of the Bill. That does not follow, because the change might be just the other way, and it might happen, and equally well, that instead of the licensed house increasing in value it would diminish in value and that under the proposals of the noble Lord the licensee and the interests connected with the licence would receive positively more by his proposal than under that of the Government. That, again, I think the noble Lord has not contemplated, I and yet it is the necessary consequence 935 of his Amendment, and indeed I think he I gave an instance which told against himself. He said supposing the house is ill-conducted, but if that happens the compensation will greatly diminish under our proposal, because, when the time comes to calculate, it will be found that the house is an ill-conducted house, and therefore does not carry with it so much value as it formerly did, but under the noble Lord's proposal everything will have to be dated back to the time the Bill passes, when it was a well-conducted house, and therefore he will make it necessary for the compensation to be on the higher scale, as if it were a well-conducted house, whereas under our proposal the compensation would merely fall in proportion, or at any rate to some extent in proportion, to the ill-conduct of the house since the Act was passed, so that, I think, the noble Lord will see that his proposal would defeat his own ends, and for these reasons I am afraid the Government cannot accept the Amendment. He seemed to think that any difficulties which his proposal led to would be set right by the proviso at the end of his clause, but that is not so. The proviso, no doubt, is a protection to the liquor trade, but it would not be a protection to the compensating authority if that happened, which I have shown might happen, namely, that, in consequence of the ill-conduct of the house he ought to receive less compensation. On the contrary, nobody is entitled to apply this remedy under the noble Lord's proposal except those who are interested in the licence, and therefore they would not make an application in the case I am supposing, and therefore it would act as no remedy at all. Lastly, he proposed to provide the distribution of the money between the various interests, and I do not, on the face of it, think his proposal differs from the proposals submitted by His Majesty's Government. Therefore, on none of the three grounds can we accept the noble Lord's Amendment.
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said the noble Marquess did not seem to understand that a house might be ill-conducted for the purpose of profit. He proposed that the maximum compensation should be ten years between the rateable value as licensed and the rateable value as unlicensed, but in order to meet the 936 question of misconduct which would not enter into money value he proposed that—
§ [The remainder of the noble Lord's remarks were inaudible owing to Members calling out "Divide."]
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said that before it was moved that these words stand part of the Bill he wished to ask how they were going to carry out the proposal as it stood. How could they value what was the value of a thing twenty or thirty years back. Valuation was determined by the value of things which were constantly coming into the market. How was a valuer twenty years hence to say, with any accuracy, what would have been the value of a licence under an existing system of twenty years before.
*THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I think the answer is a very simple one. As the Bill originally stood when introduced in the other House, the clause ran that the compensation was to be fixed as if this Act had not been passed. If it had come up in that form, the criticism of the noble Marquess would have been very well founded, but it has been altered in the direction that appears upon the Paper to-night, and I think it is quite clear that the intention of the Bill is that the conditions shall remain the same during the whole time whenever compensation is paid—that is to say, that when the Commissioners of Inland Revenue are called upon to decide how the compensation should be fixed they have got to consider how the licence would be affected by the conditions which are in existence at the present moment. We all know what those conditions are. The licence is subject to an expectancy of a renewal, although it is not necessary that it should be renewed, and all they have to take into consideration is what is the value of the licence, as if it were liable to be refused on the same grounds on which it can be refused now. I think it will be quite easy for the Inland Revenue to determine the value.
§ On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," resolved in the affirmative.937
§ *EARL GREY
moved to leave out, on page 2, lines 6 and 7, the words "calculated as if the licence were subject to the same conditions of renewal as were applicable." He said he felt so deeply upon this question that he trusted their Lordships, even at that late hour, would give him a patient hearing. The words which he moved to omit were incorporated in the Bill in the House of Commons at a very late stage, he believed they were not in the Bill as amended in Committee, but were only incorporated on the Report stage. The words that the compensation should be as if this Act had not been passed referred in mast people's minds not only to the expectancy of renewal and questions of tenure, but also to the measures of value at the time of the passing of this Act. This question was asked in the House of Commons of the Colonial Secretary. Mr. Whittaker, who he did not think had made any mis-statements of fact, because he knew this question from A to Z, stated in the House of Commons that the on-licences in England and Wales had declined 30 per cent. in proportion to population between the years 1883 and 1903, twenty years, yet the amount of beer sold in the houses that remained averaged 50 per cent. more per house, thus showing that although the number of houses was reduced, the average quantity of liquor consumed had enormously increased. The natural way of assessing a public-house was on the normal amount of business that it did, and it was evident that if the average consumption of beer increased by 50 per cent. in twenty years, although the number of houses had declined by 30 per cent., then the houses were steadily going up in value. His Majesty's Government were asked if they were going to compensate men for the additional monopoly value, which belonged to the State. Mr. Lyttelton, in reply said—The hon. Member says they will get an increased value by reason of the extinction of other licences and he declares that they will be in a position to get better compensation by reason of that. The House should take note of the important clause in the Bill which provides that compensation payable for the extinction of a licence is to be calculated as before the passing of this Act. It should not be forgotten that this moment of time is taken to deal with the principle of compensation, and therefore the undue appreciation which will 938 result from the value of the licence feared by Mr. Whittaker seems to me to be unfounded.That was not only the view of a distinguished member of the Cabinet but of a distinguished lawyer, and every one was justified in reading into those words that it was not intended to give more than the value of the house at the time of the passing of the Act.
He had in that House and out of it proclaimed his belief that this was a great temperance measure, because he saw in it a means of securing the certainty that all licences created after the passing of this Bill would be given to trust organisations, who would manage them as a trust for the benefit of the whole community. That proposal was very dear to him, because for the last three years he had given much time to an effort to build up, with the support of the Bishop of Chester and other friends, public - house trust companies in every county of England so that they might have an organisation established which might go before the licensing authorities and say to them that if it were decided to grant new licences they claimed that they should give these new licences, not to a private individual for his personal gain but to a trust organisation, which would, under conditions approved by the licensing authorities, undertake to manage them in the interests of the community at large. It occurred to them who had been doing spade work in this direction—and he believed if it had not been for their work the fourth clause would have been very difficult to administer to-day—that if they could build a ringed fence round the existing licences of England and Wales they were doing no small temperance work. If this Bill had been passed thirty years ago it was his firm conviction that millions of pounds which were now going into the pockets of brewers and distillers would have been appropriated to public purposes. It was because he was so pleased to see the amended words of the fourth clause, that made it absolutely certain that licensing authorities should bring all new licences under the principle of disinterested control, that he said that this Bill, for that reason alone, was a great beneficial measure, but when he saw that the other words in the Bill which were interpreted by Mr. Lyttelton 939 to mean that the compensation to be given to the holders of existing licences should be measured by the value that the house enjoyed at a time before the passing of the Act, he said here was a Bill which would not only bring new licences under disinterested management but would provide machinery to enable them to transfer from the trade to the trust existing licences, and so by degrees Gothenburg the entire country. He thought the supporters of the Bill, and he was quite sure the critics of the Bill, had not realised the great advantage which would result from this power. But the value of the provisions of this Bill which would enable quarter sessions to Gothenburg entire districts depended on the amount of compensation to be paid.
It might be said that in some cases the value of licenses would diminish, and therefore it was desirable that the compensation should be measured by the value of the house at the time of suppression. It might happen, no doubt, that here and there the trade of a house might diminish, but in such few instances they were not justified in paying the slightest regard to them. It was a certainty from which they could not escape that the value of existing houses would steadily increase, and they would be doing the very things they denounced in terms of holy horror unless they arranged the compensation to which a man should be entitled as the value at the time of the passing of the Act, and not at the time of suppression.
He had told the noble Marquesses on the Government Bench that unless they amended this Bill they would be guilty of the crime of giving to the brewers or owners of the existing public-houses a a monopoly value which they had now in their power to secure to the community. Were they going to secure this monopoly value to the public or not? They could do it without one atom of injustice to anyone. If they were faithful to their own speeches that night they had no option but to accept his Amendment or to introduce an amendment of their own fixing the compensation to which licensed houses should be entitled at present values. He had a 940 right to earnestly appeal to His Majesty's Government to meet him if possible on this case. He did not believe that the 4th Clause could work if it were not for the trust companies that his friends had been able to establish all over the country. He begged to move his Amendment, in the earnest hope that the Government would accept it.
In page 2, lines 6 and 7, to leave out the words, 'calculated if the licence were subject to the same conditions of renewal as were applicable'"—(Earl Grey.)
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
said that all would sympathise with his noble friend's appeal to the Government, although he somewhat weakened his case by his vote on the Amendment of the most rev. Primate. He told the Government if they would not give him a pledge he would feel bound to support the most rev. Primate. He was afraid he did not get the pledge. He hoped the noble Marquess, the Lord Privy Seal, in his reply would clear up the question whether the value of the licence was to be based on the value at the time of the passing of the Act or at the time of the suppression of the licence. In his last speech the noble Marquess seemed to argue rather that the estimate was to be at the time of the suppression of the licence, but the Bill seemed to state at the time of the passing of the Act.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord is quite correct. The Bill as it stands provides that the basis of compensation shall be the difference between the value of the house with a licence and its value without a licence at the time of its suppression. I hope that is clear. With regard to the speech of the noble Earl, he knows very well that we all of us take the greatest interest in has experiment of trust public-houses, and I think that the noble Earl, if I may say so with great respect, ought to be more appreciative of the action of His Majesty's Government in rendering possible a vast extension of his system which it never could have got on its own initiative, and which it would have been quite impossible to get as a private venture without the assistance of an Act of Parliament. I do not decry the value of 941 the experiment of the noble Earl. I think he has been very gallant; he has struggled against immense difficulties, and I am surprised at the success which he has achieved. But the Bill we have submitted, the methods of compensation, the powers given to quarter sessions to suppress licences, and the fact that quarter sessions can, if the noble Earl can persuade them, help him, will enable him to push his system in a way in which it could not have been pushed otherwise. I think the noble Earl should not be so capricious and so changeable in his attitude to the Bill as to say that if he cannot have his own way in this instance, his whole attitude towards the Bill will be changed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The reason for compensation is that these licence-holders have a pecuniary interest in their licences which belongs to them equitably, and for which they are entitled to compensation if it is destroyed. That is the basis upon which we proceed. The natural consequence and conclusion of that premiss would at first sight appear to be that if the State takes away that which equitably belongs to one of His Majesty's subjects the State ought to pay for it; but we do not propose that the State should pay for it. What do we propose? We propose that the trade should pay for it. I can quite conceive a brewer arising in this House and saying, "That is very unfair; here is a Government proposing to take away the rights which belong to a licensee and they do not propose to pay for them out of the resources of the State but out of our pockets." The trade will, of course, get back a certain part of their contribution in the increased trade given to remaining houses, otherwise I think if the noble Earl will look at it justly and fairly he will see that if the trade get the increment which will result from the suppression of a particular house, they will only be treated fairly. Why should they pay for what they lose by the act of the State?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Earl has not yet seen the point, if I may venture to say to. My noble friend the Leader of the House explained to the House that all you do is to give the dog a bite off his own tail. There is a definite pecuniary value which is taken away from the licensee. Instead of the State paying for its own act, it makes the trade pay. Therefore the State does not pay and the whole burden is thrown on the licensee. The licensee is deprived of what belongs to him, and the State pays nothing for it. That is all thrown on the trade itself. But for the fact that they will get the increased value which results to the remaining houses, I am afraid the brewers would come and say, "You have committed a great injustice," and therefore I am afraid the very basis of the noble Earl's argument breaks down. I always feel when an appeal is made with such evident earnestness to His Majesty's Government that it is not a thing to be brushed aside, and I do not desire to do so. But I think the noble Earl will see if he reflects that in this respect we are following the path of justice, and therefore I do not feel my way clear to accept the proposal. If the noble Earl is able now to persuade us or at a future stage I shall be quite delighted to consider his proposition, but I am afraid I see no prospect at present of His Majesty's Government changing their minds.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said he failed to follow the conclusions at which the noble Marquess had arrived. He asked their Lordships to pat aside all the other questions imported into the discussion of this Amendment and just to consider what the Amendment was. If the words which his hon. friend proposed to leave out were omitted, then the compensation to be paid would be the sum equal to the difference between the value of the licensed premises immediately before the passing of this Act and the value which these premises would bear if they ware not licensed premises. The whole point was this, in estimating the compensation were they to take the value at the passing of the Act or the value at the time at which the individual house was abolished? 943 Let them suppose there were six public-houses in a village, and two belonged to each of three brewing companies. Three of these were abolished, and then there was paid in compensation a sum equal to the value of these three houses. These houses were compensated and they were gone. The other three houses remained. Did their Lordships imagine that one half of the drink would be stopped? if it was not, it was quite clear that the portion of the drink which did not stop and which he expected would not be far short of a half, would go to the other houses? When the time came at which one of these other houses was to be abolished, the compensation to be paid was the value of the licence at the time it was abolished; that was to say, they took into consideration the traffic which had moved from the other houses, and paid for it over again. All he contended was that they were paving over and over again in virtue of what they had already paid compensation for. He had listened to the noble Marquess with every desire to be convinced, but not one word he said appeared to him to interfere with the Conclusion which seemed to him to speak for itself, and all he could say was that if the compensation was to increase gradually as the houses diminished, he was afraid the rate of abolition would come to be more beautifully and beautifully less until it came down to nothing.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
said that the Amendment brought them back to their old friend, "monopoly value." If this value was, in the opinion of the Government, that kind of property which they had over and over again told the House it was they were perfectly logical in refusing to diminish it in any way. At the same time he desired to say that it raised a serious state of things if it was the opinion of the Government that this monopoly value once given away by a foolish act of the State was for ever and ever to remain in the hands of those who possessed it at this moment without the possibility of diminution of any kind.
§ EARL CARRINGTON
said that although he belonged to one of the few counties in which his noble friend Lord Grey's scheme did not work, yet he was 944 glad to hear from the noble Marquess that Lord Grey's proposal was not to be brushed aside. He thought everybody recognised that he and the Bishop of Chester were two hardworking socialists, as his hon. friend behind him said. What did Lord Grey want to do? As he understood the Amendment, it would require an immediate valuation of all licensed premises, and, what would be more important, a return of alcoholic liquors sold. He reminded the Government that this proposal was suggested in Mr. Butcher's Bill last year, and it could not be said that that Bill was hostile to the trade generally. He trusted that the Amendment would receive further consideration at the hands of the Government.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
What this Bill proposes is that a certain number of persons engaged in the liquor trade should be compelled to insure against the actual loss which they will sustain in the event of their business being taken away from them. What I understand is proposed by my noble friend Lord Grey, and those who have supported him, is that compensation should be paid not for the actual loss sustained by the person whose licence is taken away from him, but that he should be compensated on terms assessed with reference to the value of the premises at the time of the passing of this Act. I cannot help thinking that that is not an arrangement which would work out fairly. Supposing a licence to be taken away from the licensee in the year 1910; it is no compensation to him to be given a sum of money representing the value of that licence in 1904. There may be a wide difference between the two sums. The value of the licence may have risen or fallen. I am afraid we cannot accept the Amendment, and it seems to me to involve this further difficulty; that if it were adopted it would entail on us the duty of instituting a general valuation of all the licensed premises in the country. That would be an enormous work which would be in great measure superfluous, seeing that only some of the licensed houses would form the subject of compensation.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
said that in the Return moved for by Mr. Cochrane he 945 found a complete list of all the public-houses affected by the Bill, with their valuation, and with the amount ascertained which they would be called upon to pay under the Bill. Therefore this enormous work which was to occupy such a vast amount of machinery and take such a very long time had already been done, and appeared in a Paper which he held in his hand. It was obvious that the arguments addressed from that part of the House had hitherto been entirely unanswered. He suggested that if the debate were adjourned the Government might be able to furnish themselves with a better class of arguments in view of the statement that had been made in another place by the Colonial Secretary. If that were done, their Lordships might meet to-morrow at three o'clock instead of half-past four.
§ *EARL SPENCER
I really do hope the noble Marquess will consider this. My noble friend who moves this Amend-has a very great claim on the Government, though I am afraid I do not agree with the votes he has already given in support of the Government. This is a matter of such enormous importance and will involve such gigantic sums of money that I do hope the Government will take this Amendment into consideration and not refuse what I think is the exceedingly reasonable request of the noble Earl. Their votes, we know, are overwhelming, but they might postpone the matter if they will consider it on Report. I think we have had only one very trifling concession from the noble Marquess, and he might consider this, and, if possible, hold out some hope of dealing with it in a somewhat more liberal way.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am very sorry indeed if my imperfect powers of argument have not made the matter clear to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Coleridge, and to the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition. I did try to advance an argument which I hoped would have had some weight with the noble Lord. It seems that that has not been the case, and I cannot hope to succeed better by repeating my argument. 946 I therefore can only say that I think it would be right for the House to come to a decision. It is quite true the subject is a most difficult one, one of the most difficult in the Bill, and I frankly tell the noble Earl that if he can succeed in convincing His Majesty's Government, we shall be very glad to fall in with the opinion of such a temperance reformer as the noble Earl. The noble Earl's opportunities are not exhausted by this discussion; he can bring up the subject again on the Report stage.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
In order to give the Government an opportunity of consulting with their colleagues in the other House, moved that the House be resumed. He contended that the pledge which had been given by the Colonial Secretary in the House of Commons had not been kept.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I rise to order. Your Lordships are very liberal in matters of this kind, but there is a very great inconvenience in quotations from the other Home of Parliament. I do not know what passed there, and it is no business of your Lordships' House. I do not know under what circumstances this assurance was given, and I must ask your Lordships to agree that this is out of order.
§ *EARL SPENCER
I agree that my noble friend is perhaps slightly out of order. If he had simply said he had heard on high authority that a certain statement had been made by one of His Majesty's Ministers he would have been in order. Bnt I think he is perfectly justified in continuing his argument and moving the adjournment.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
said he would move that the House be resumed and meet again at any time which met the convenience of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. In another place a member of the Government had definitely pledged His Majesty's Ministers that the compensation to be paid should be calculated as before the passing of this measure.
§ Moved, "That the House be resumed."—(Earl Beauchamp.)
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Portsmouth, E.||Brassey, L|
|Spencer, E.||Coleridge, L.|
|Argyll, D.||Temple, E.||Elgin, L. (E.Elgin and Kincardine)|
|Ripon, M.||Falmouth, V.||Farrer, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. [Teller]||Gordon, V.(E. Aberdeen)||Kinnaird, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Halifax, V.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly)|
|Carlisle, E.||Monkswell, L.|
|Chester, L. Bp.|
|Carrington, E.||Lichfield, L. Bp.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. [Teller]||London, L. Bp.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Crewe, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Grey, E.||St. David's, L. Bp.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran)|
|Lytton, E.||Barnard, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry)(L. President)||Malmesbury, E.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Crawshaw, L.|
|Salisbury, M.(L. Privy Seal)||Powis, E.||Deramore, L.|
|Saint Germans, E.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Selborne, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Shrewsbury, E.||Estcourt, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Tankerville, E.||Forester, L.|
|Bath, M.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller]||Glenesk, L.|
|Camden, M.||Westmeath, E.||Hampton, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Wharncliffe, E.||Harris, L.|
|Hertford, M.||Yarborough, E.||Kenyon, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Killanin, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Churchill, V. [Teller]||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll)|
|Zetland, M.||Colville of Culross, V.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)|
|Hutchinson,V'(E. Donoughmore||Lawrence, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Stetward)||Knutsford, V.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain)||Peterborough, L. Bp.||Raglan, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Rathmore, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Addington, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry)||Armstrong, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Drogheda, E.||Belper, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Bolton, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Feversham, E.||Burnham, L.||Windsor, L|
|Haddington, E.||Burton, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Lathom, E.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Londesborough, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
§ On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the948
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Contents, 37; Not-Contents, 85.
§ clause" their Lordships divided:—Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 38.
|Londesborough, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.||Harris, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Kenyon, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Armstrong, L.||Killanin, L.|
|Powis, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Errol)|
|Saint Germans, E.||Belper, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)|
|Selborne, E.||Bolton, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Shrewsbury, E.||Burnham, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Burton, L,||Newton, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. [Teller]||Clonbrock, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Westmeath, E.||Cloncurry, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Wharncliffe, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Yarborough, E.||Crawshaw L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Deramore, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Churchill, V. [Teller]||Ellenborough, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Estcourt, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall)||Ventry, L.|
|Knutsford, V.||Forester, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Glenesk, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Addington, L.||Hampton, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Portsmouth, E.||Brassey, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Coleridge, L.|
|Argyll, D.||Temple, E.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine)|
|Ripon, M.||Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen)|
|Halifax, V.||Farrer, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Chester, L Bp.||Monkswell, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||Lichfield, L. Bp.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Carrington, E.||London, L. Bp.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Peterborough, L. Bp.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Crewe, E.||St. David's, L. Bp.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Grey, E. [Teller]||Salisbury, L. Bp.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran) [Teller]|
|Kimberley, E.||Balfour, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Barnard, L.|
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I think it may be convenient if we now adjourn; and as we have still a considerable part of the Bill to consider I suggest we might adjourn until half-past three to-morrow.
§ House resumed, and to be again in Committee to-morrow.