§ Order of the Day read for resuming the adjourned debate on the Amendment moved by the Marquess of Lansdowne to the Motion that the Bill be now read 2a, viz., to leave out all the words after "That" for the purpose of inserting the following words: "this House, while 828 ready to consider favourably any Amendments which experience has shown to be necessary in the law regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors, declines to proceed further with a measure which, without materially advancing the cause of temperance, would occasion grave inconvenience to many of His Majesty's subjects, and violate every principle of equity in its dealings with the numerous classes whose interests will be affected by the Bill."
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, this debate, which has now extended over two days, has covered a great variety of subjects—social, political, financial, as well as others; and it is impossible to attempt to deal with more than a very small part of the issues which are presented to your Lordships for consideration at this time. But I think one thing stands out with great clearness. Amidst all the diversity of opinions which has been disclosed in the course of the debate in your Lordships' House, there is a practically unanimous desire on the part of every Member of this House to do anything we reasonably can to advance, in the best sense, the cause of temperance, and to make easier the path of social reform. And with almost every one that desire is accompanied with a hope that whatever is done should be done with due regard to fairness to all the interests concerned.
If I may venture to say so, some of the difficulties in which Parliament finds itself to-day arise from the position which is taken up by the extreme partisans of temperance legislation. It is no new difficulty. I think I am right in saying that one of the greatest obstacles to what I shall venture to describe as moderate temperance reform comes from those who desire, honestly and conscientiously I have no doubt, but with a determination which I think worthy of a better and more practical cause, totally to suppress and do away with the traffic is the whole class of articles which they class together as intoxicating liquors. I do not believe that is a result which ever will be attained, but I am confident that much more could have been done in the 829 direction which all of us desire if these honest but, as I think, mistaken partisans would for a time, at any rate, moderate their zeal I have no doubt that many of your Lordships have received, as I have, a large number of pamphlets and papers on one side or the other of this question. I have done my best to read many of them, and I am bound to say that I have found very few which really seem to me to take a judicial attitude on this question. But in one I did find a passage which I commend to your Lordships' notice—It has always been, and always will be, an impossibility to do true justice without some sympathy.Now, my Lords, I do not believe that we, or anybody else, can do true justice to those who are interested in the trade in liquor unless we show some real intelligence of, and some sympathy with them, in the difficulties by which they themselves are met and often thwarted.
I venture to say that, in the quarters I have indicated, and in the pamphlets and papers and speeches of those who are aiming at the impracticable object of totally suppressing the liquor traffic, sympathy is wholly absent. Facts are ignored, and the difficulties of the conditions under which this trade must always be carried on are almost altogether lost sight of. Some of these difficulties are inherent in the circumstances. Others, I am afraid I must say, have actually been caused very often by the very legislation which is intended to mitigate the evils at which the legislation was aimed, and it is not fair to imply that the trade is wholly responsible for all the evils which have arisen. In some respects they are a cause; in some respects they are the result. But cause and result act and re-act upon one another in such a complicated fashion that it is impossible wholly to separate the one from the other and to say that this is the cause and that that is the result. I associate myself entirely with those who say that while legislation cannot do everything, legislation can do much; and I pin my hope and my faith to enlightened public opinion, which is certainly making way in this country, and which, if it were allowed to have free play, would, in 830 my humble opinion, act upon the trade itself and draw out sympathy from that trade for many reforms which might, with that aid and that sympathy, be carried out much better than in any other way.
It is a rather melancholy fact that almost the whole history of our temperance legislation for the last fifty years has been in the direction of restriction. There has been hardly one Act passed with the main object of enabling licence-holders themselves and those behind them to develop and improve matters in accordance with the enlightened public opinion to which I have referred. One of the greatest difficulties in the present system is the prevalence of what are known as tied houses. Up to a certain point tied houses make for discipline and good conduct, but, on the other hand, they undoubtedly have the effect of putting a premium upon the sale of intoxicating liquors as opposed to all other kinds of refreshment; and it is my sincere opinion that if this Bill were to be passed as it stands—recommended as it is by many people who think that, it would tend to increase temperance — there would be little hope of improvement in the direction I have just indicated during the reduction or the compensation period. I say so for this reason, that, owing to the terms in which the Bill is framed, you would, amongst other evil results that you would bring about, put upon licence-holders and others interested in licensed property the absolute necessity of squeezing out of their property everything in profit they could from intoxicating liquor. That is in itself a great evil. But if you go upon the other policy which I see sometimes foreshadowed, which is known, roughly, as that of high licence, I believe you will be doing for true temperance reform one of the worst turns it is possible for legislation or administration to do, because again it would place the premium which I have indicated upon the licence-holder to do everything for profit and nothing for reform.
It is a commonplace amongst us all that improvement is going on. My plea in regard to legislation is this, that we ought carefully to study in what directions we can do our best to put a premium 831 upon that improvement, to help those whose opinion is enlightened who are doing the best to make things better than they are at the present time. While I am all in favour of legislation which is fully up to—perhaps even a little in advance of—enlightened public opinion, I feel that if you go much in advance of the support which you will get from general public opinion you will undoubtedly do more harm than good. Scotsman though I am, I have had some experience in English matters. May I remind you Lordships, without conceit, that I was chairman of a Welsh Sunday Closing Commission twenty years ago, I was responsible for the English Act of 1902, and the Scottish Act of 1903, and I had an opportunity of learning the arguments on both sides for the Act of 1904, because it passed during the year that I had the honour of acting as Chairman of Committees in your Lordships' House.
The problems are somewhat different in Scotland and in England, and it does not do to draw analogies without much care and consideration between the two countries. But if there is one lesson in Scottish experience which should be of use in England it is this—that whatever you do, do not so regulate your legislation as to put a premium on the substitution of spirits for beer, or of clubs for public-houses. I greatly deplore a condition in Scotland which largely arises from the fact that spirits there, as everybody knows, are much more consumed by the rank and file of the population in proportion to beer than is the case south of the Tweed, and that there the public-house, the well-conducted public-house even, is by no means so much the resort and the club of the respectable working man as it is here. Whatever you do, let me put it to you with all the earnestness of which I am capable—Do not in your legislation do anything which will make it more likely that the great body of the population will have recourse to the drinking of spirits and stronger liquors rather than beer, especially the lighter kinds of beer, and other similar refreshments. Clubs— bad clubs at least—are a greater evil than public-houses. There are good and bad clubs, there are good and bad public-houses. But I venture to say that, even 832 if the clubs to which most of your Lordships and many in a humbler social sphere are accustomed are in themselves good things, some other clubs are very much the reverse, and there is nothing so difficult to regulate, nothing so difficult to interfere with, as a club once it gets a real hold upon the minds and feelings of those concerned.
I ask your Lordships to consider the Act of 1904 in its relation to the proposals in this Bill. I was not altogether an admirer of the Act of 1904. I ventured to say so on the Third Reading of the Bill. I spoke in mild terms—milder than I felt, for this reason. As your Lordships know, it was not very long after the time that on other grounds I had occasion to sever myself from my friends on the front Opposition bench, and I was most anxious that it should not be thought that my adverse comments on the Bill of 1904 had anything to do with other matters. I ventured then to say, and I think still, that the Act of 1904 was a bad bargain for the State. It was not altogether a bad bargain; for it had many redeeming features. It made for the reduction of public-houses, generally speaking, in a wise and moderate fashion. It certainly got rid of the privileged position of the ante-1869 beer-houses; but it seemed to me then, and it seems to me still, that in return for those two advantages it gave a greater expectancy of renewal of tenure of the ordinary public-house than was justified, having regard to the whole terms of the decision in the well-known case of Sharpe v. Wakefield. I venture to say that in some respects the Act has not fulfilled the good intentions of those who promoted it. In particular, the reduction which was promised has been rather less rapid than was hoped, and one great defect, as it seems to me, was that there was no general authority whose business it was to safeguard the fund got together by the compensation levy. A fund of that kind seems to me to require special guardianship in case it is drawn upon in improper and extravagant ways.
The Act of 1904 met with unforeseen, and, I venture to say, undeserved difficulties of another kind. I refer to the points involved in what is known as the 833 Kennedy judgment. I am the last person to say that that judgment was not in accordance with the law. I am certain that it was, because it was so declared by one of His Majesty's Judges and no appeal was taken; but I have never been able to see that the point involved was a reasonable one to be decided in the way that it was. I am anxious to know whether that point was foreseen, and whether the particular compensation allowed by that judgment was intended by those who promoted the Act. I think that is a perfectly fair question, the point involved being roughly whether brewers' profits were to enter into the calculation for compensation when a particular house was suppressed. The conditions of the Act of 1904, as prescribed in the 5th clause, seem to me eminently reasonable. It was laid down that it was to be the difference between the value of the premises unlicensed and licensed; and there was a distinct instruction to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, who are responsible for administering it, that they were to take into consideration the same principles as were to be considered in matters of estate duty. They did so, and a good many cases were decided without any appeal to the law.
But by-and-by some ingenious person thought that it was possible and lawful to get a calculation in respect of the brewers' profits on beer sold in the house to be suppressed. It does not seem to me, having regard to the whole circumstances, that that was reasonable. I am not challenging the law; I am saying that I do not think it to be reasonable. Supposing there are three public-houses in a place all belonging to a syndicate of brewers, and one of them is suppressed, the expenses, no doubt, are saved of the third one, and the licence-holder has to be compensated, and ought to be compensated, for deprivation of his business on a proper and even liberal scale; but I am sceptical of the belief put forward by the right rev. prelate the Bishop of London, on the authority of one of his brewing friends, that the custom bestowed on the suppressed house altogether evaporates. I believe, on the contrary, that it would go to one of the other houses, and in so far as the question 834 of brewers' profits is concerned, I venture to say that extravagant compensation was given.
I have even stronger evidence than the considerations which I have put before you. I think the action of the trade themselves showed that they did not, at any rate at first, expect that compensation. I have been referred to the annual volumes of licensing statistics for the three years, 1905, 1906 and 1907, and a friend of mine who knows more about this matter than I do puts the point to which I wish to call your Lordships attention in these words—Can it be thought that the trade did not know the value of its own houses before the Kennedy judgment? Yet in some 200 cases the trade asked and got from various compensation authorities sums which worked out at about £600 a house. These were their own figures agreed with the authorities, and not referred to the Inland Revenue. Other cases out of the same batch of extinctions—namely, those which took place in the year 1905—were not agreed with the authorities, were referred to Inland Revenue, were held over till after the Kennedy judgment and came out at an average of over £1,300. Other instances are to be found of the differences in the trade's own valuations before and after the Kennedy judgment.These are very remarkable facts, and they seem to me to afford a strong prima facie case for a wise, just, and judicious revisal of the terms of the Act of 1904, as interpreted by Lord Justice Kennedy.
When I turn to the Bill under discussion the terms proposed are rather different, and I am bound to say I do not think a case has been made out for their fairness. The noble Earl the Leader of the House on this point hardly said anything more than that he regarded the terms as liberal. He did not argue it out, and he did not, in particular, tell us why what is described as personal goodwill should not be made a subject of compensation. If a man is dispossessed of his lawful trade surely you are bound to give him full and fair compensation, and in calculating the compensation you must, as the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, said the other evening, take into consideration the profits under Schedule D as well as the value under Schedule A. When property of any kind is taken for public purposes you ought to give its fall value, that is, as I say, its market value; call it what you like; some would add something for the compulsory 835 taking, even in arbitration. I do not ask for that. The point I put to the Government is this. Successive Governments have for years been valuing public-house licences for estate duty on certain terms. Let us assume that it is a proper valuation. I have never yet been able to understand even the fringe of the argument which justifies the Government from departing from its own valuation when it is proposing to take for its own purposes the very property which it has just valued also for its own purposes though those are different in degree. That seems to me so clear and so just that I cannot even imagine what the answer is to that particular contention. The noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, gave a most lucid explanation of the action and reaction upon each other of the compensation during the reduction period and the lime-limit. It seems to me that a great deal of the trouble, apart from the insufficient valuation which I have just mentioned, arises from the difficulty of capitalising properly the annual value to be finally settled; and it seems to me, if you are running reduction on the same scale as this Bill proposes and at the same time give so short a reduction period as fourteen years, that towards the later part of that time it is absolutely impossible that your terms of capitalisation can be fair to the interests which are taken away. I do not labour this point, because it seems to me that this is just the sort of thing it is impossible to argue effectively on Second Reading. My plea is that it would have been reasonable and right to have allowed the Bill to go into Committee. While in favour of a reasonable and well-thought-out scheme of reduction, I do not think that any case has been made out for the particular Schedules dealing with the ratio of population to public-houses contained in the Bill. Even the Government themselves admit the difficulty, because the Schedules are crowded with exceptions. It seems to me that the exceptions are bound to be so numerous that it is hardly worth while to put in a scale of that kind. It would be much better to leave the question for treatment by a well-constituted, thoroughly informed, and judicial body of local justices.
We often hear it said that this Bill is a compromise. Of course, it is a com- 836 promise; at least it is an intermediate stage between those who want total confiscation and those who want rather larger terms of valuation. I think that in its terms the Bill undoubtedly goes somewhat in the direction of confiscation. I wonder if your Lordships have ever heard of the story of Mr. Abraham Lincoln and his wife. I came across it in a volume of reminiscences the other day. It seems there was a discussion between them as to whether their house should be painted white or brown. He said white, she said brown. The discussion raged rather high, but a few days afterwards Mr. Lincoln said to a friend that they had come to a compromise. "Oh, and what is the compromise?" said the friend. "The house is to be painted brown," was the reply. I venture to think that in the scale of compensation the Government have leant too much to the side of confiscation and that there is not much of a compromise in the matter, at any rate as it now stands.
I turn for a moment to Clause 26, the clause which deals with what is known as monopoly value. I say respectfully that that clause is amazing to me, both in its history and in its contents. It will not ran with Clause 10, which is the compensation clause. It ought not to be exactly the same, I agree. The precise factors you have to get at for future monopoly value and those for present compensation are not the same; but, if these two clauses are compared, it will be seen that it is absolutely impossible that they can both be right. If the compensation clause is right the monopoly value is too little. There is no distinct ratio between the two. That is exactly the sort of point with which we ought to have got to closer quarters in Committee. As to the history of the clause, I believe I am right in saying that the particular terms of it were only placed on the Notice Paper in the other House on the morning that they were to be discussed, and that they passed without adequate discussion and without adequate scrutiny. Now that is the very way to lay pitfalls and snares and traps for Parliament and its intentions, just as was done by the Act of 1904. Clause 26 in this Bill demands most careful scrutiny and most ample consideration. But it will not become of real 837 importance until twenty-one years hence. It is of some importance at present, no doubt, because it is a guide to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and public authorities in the case of new licences, but that is, relatively speaking, a small matter. I should have been prepared to trust to a large extent to the authorities in the matter of new licences, because, after all, it is a question of option for a man if he wants a new licence whether he will take it on the terms offered to him; but it is a very different thing to say that these are the terms on which in future, twenty-one years hence, you shall have your licence if you have it at all. Is it not without precedent that one Parliament should seek to bind another in this way twenty-one years ahead? There will be in the natural course of events, and taking the average life of Parliaments, at least four general elections between now and then. How can you attempt to forecast what will be fair, right, and In accordance with sound and enlightened public opinion in a matter of this kind twenty-one years off?
I pass from that point. I deliberately say nothing in detail upon those provisions of the Bill which are known as the temperance provisions. I share the view which has been expressed by some of your Lordships that many of those provisions are extremely valuable. I specially instance the one which has been found of the greatest use in Scotland—the restriction upon the sale of liquor by means of vans throughout the country districts. That was a clause of my own in the Act of 1903. I know it has done the greatest good in Scotland, and I believe it to be capable of enormous good to the country populations in England. I also wish to say a word upon Clause 22 which increases, in my humble opinion in a wise and proper manner, the jurisdiction and discretion of the local justices. I think it is of the utmost importance that in the renewal of licences the justices should have a wide discretion as to the conditions which they will impose on the holder
I am not going at length into the question of clubs. They require regulation, and I believe that the proposals in this Bill are, in the main, sound. I would have liked, however, to have had an 838 opportunity of criticising them in Committee. The proposals as to Sunday closing, the shutting of public-houses on polling days, the presence of children at bars of public-houses, and the bona fide traveller, contain at any rate most valuable reforms; and my regret is that these questions have not been embodied in a legislative measure which did not contain other provisions arousing extreme controversy. I hope that a Bill of that kind may be produced. I would give it my most careful consideration, and probably my most earnest support. But would it not have been of advantage to pass the Second Reading of the Bill even if you drastically altered some of its clauses in Committee? By taking this course your Lordships would have been enabled to show to the public the character of the provisions which you were willing to pass in the interests of temperance. I would have been most anxious to show, in a concrete form, what it was that the House was willing and anxious to do in the great cause of temperance reform.
I am told that it would be impossible on two grounds to follow the course which I would like to have seen taken. I am told by my friends that there would be no hope of His Majesty's Government agreeing to the changes, in some ways the drastic changes, which I want to see made, and that, therefore, we should still lose the Bill. At any rate I should like to have tried. However enthusiastic the Ministerial cheers which my last sentence elicited may be, I admit that some of the past actions of the Government make the course I recommend very difficult for noble Lords on this side of the House. We have tried our hand at amending various Bills, but we have not met with much encouragement either on the part of His Majesty's Government or their supporters. I have not time—and it is not germane to this discussion—to analyse the causes, but the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture let us in a little behind the scenes some time ago. In one of his very candid speeches, to which we always listen with so much, pleasure, he told us that he could not do certain things in his first Agricultural Holdings Bill because some of the sup- 839 porters of the Government in another place were such terrible fellows that the Government could not control them and must give way to them. Briefly put, that is a paraphrase of what the noble Earl said even in regard to a particular provision in that Bill, which he, on behalf of the Government, had accepted in this House. Therefore I know that the course which I would like to have seen taken on this Bill is fraught with great difficulty.
I am confronted also with the question of privilege. I am the last person to say a word which could in the remotest way be held to criticise the action of the Speaker of the House of Commons. His action is guided, and rightly guided, by what he thinks is the privilege of that House and by his duty to the House to which he owes so much. We here are not bound by that decision. It is a commonplace in this matter, but a commonplace which is too often forgotten, that each House is the guardian of its own privilege; and I look with the utmost dislike and apprehension to the way in which this question of privilege is being extended. I have much more fear of that way of weakening this House than all the resolutions and actions of the Government opposite. But I would like to have waited until the question of privilege arose, to see whether it would be claimed on this Bill. Those who argue on that line are bringing about the very thing they dislike, having precedents piled up against us in this matter.
Where can privilege come in in this Bill? I venture to say that except in Clause 26, which touches the monopoly value, there is not a provision or a point in which privilege can fairly be claimed by the other House. It cannot come in in regard to the compensation levy; those are not public funds, but are drawn from private sources. I do not like to say anything at which the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition could possibly take offence; but I say, with all respect, that we on this side look to him to support and to advocate the claims of this House in the matter of privilege, and not in anticipation, and without due cause, to say that privilege exists. There is an old adage that you should never say "Good 840 morning" to the devil till you meet him. I do not want to have the question of privilege raised until it is absolutely necessary. Anyhow, I would rather have lost this Bill on a contention about privilege than have it rejected on Second Reading. Privilege could have been waived if necessary, and I think that if you had cut out Clause 26 altogether you would have evaded the question of privilege and would not have materially altered the Bill. I will not carry that matter further, because I am under the strongest obligation to many of my friends to confine my remarks within as short a space of time as I possibly can.
Now I come to the main point of difference between myself and the majority of those with whom on ordinary occasions I am proud to act. I have admitted the force of much that can be said against this Bill as it now stands. I say, as strongly as anyone on these benches can say, that as it now stands it would be impossible for us to pass it. It may be that the Amendments which I should have supported would be so drastic as to have involved the loss of the Bill. If so, the difference between the noble Marquess and myself is one of method, not of principle. I would have greatly valued the educative effect of the discussions which we would have had in Committee. As I have said, I would have liked to show clearly what we are willing to pass and what we are not willing to pass. I would have liked to show the exact form in which we would have been willing to give our adhesion, perhaps even our hearty consent, to many reforms in the interests of temperance. I dislike the possibility of its being alleged that we are putting property in licences, whatever it may be—and I do not undervalue it—on the same level as other kinds of property which have been mentioned. If you draw that parallel too close you do a great disservice to many of the interests which are largely in the keeping of this House. But in all seriousness, and in all good humour, I say that whether you thought the chance of compromise on this Bill small or great, by the action you have taken in previously announcing that you mean to reject it on Second Reading you have made any chance of 841 compromise practically impossible. I believe that even last night, if we could have known how far the Government were likely to go, many waverers on this side would have had their opinions changed. But I frankly admit that in all the circumstances and having regard to the attitude which has been taken, such a voluntary move on the part of His Majesty's Government was made practically impossible.
I am not concerned with the arguments as to the threats that are to be used against this House. My experience is that those who dislike your Lordships' House will never be satisfied with anything that it does. If you take what is called a strong line you will be threatened; if you do not take what is regarded outside as a strong line you will be treated—which is almost harder to bear—with a certain measure of contempt. You cannot please your critics, and my ideas of method are not intended to please those critics. They are formed because I think them right, because I think them for the advantage of this House; and although I say frankly that in presence of the language used by some of the members of His Majesty's Government, the course I recommend is made exceptionally and unduly difficult, yet still, having regard to all the circumstances, I think it would have been a wiser and a more patriotic course to pursue.
Your Lordships think that you are right. You think that the bye-elections are telling in your favour, and that you are, so to speak, on the crest of the wave. It is possible that at the moment, although I mistrust bye-elections, you have a certain majority with you. The trade has conducted a well-organised agitation, and it claims to have been the deciding factor in these bye-elections. Other people claim them for some other causes which they have at heart, and I am not going to attempt to decide between them. But even supposing that this agitation, well organised as it has been, has been as successful as has been claimed, does it in all cases come from those classes on whose support your Lordships would most like to rely? If the Bill is rejected on Second Reading, your Lordships will 842 offend many of those who are otherwise your most ardent friends, and who will view your action with the greatest regret. I say also that the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading is too like a denial of the right of the State to change its policy in this matter of licensing altogether. If I give my vote, as I am afraid I shall have to do, against the Amendment proposed by the noble Marquess, and therefore practically in favour of the Second Reading, I do not vote for all the provisions of the Bill as they stand; I do not even vote for a reduction of public-houses as in itself the aim and end of all things; but I give my vote because I earnestly desire to recover for the State its unfettered discretion to deal with all the interests which have been allowed to grow up, as I think, to the detriment, if not to the disaster, of the national well-being.
My Lords, I rise to support the Amendment moved by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition. I consider that this Bill assails two of the most sacred principles of our Constitution—the security of property and the liberty of the subject. All questions of property are thrown aside in this Bill. To do good at other people's expense is to my mind, at best, a dubious policy. The noble Lord who has just sat down referred to recent bye-elections. It seems to me that the recent bye-elections clearly indicate that we in this House would be failing in our duty if we did not recognise the very emphatic and reiterated requests that have been made to us to reject this Bill.
It is a very remarkable circumstance that the popularity of the present Government only began to wane, as is shown by the bye-elections, with the looming on the political horizon of the Licensing Bill. In 1906, though there were eight bye-elections, the Government only lost one seat—the Cockermouth division of Cumberland, which they attributed to the fact that a third candidate was in the field. In 1907 there were no fewer than eleven bye-electors, but the Government only lost one seat. Then in 1908 came first the shadow and then the substance of the Licensing Bill, with the result that the bye-elections in Mid-Devon, in the 843 Ross division of Hereford, in Worcester, and in Hastings, showed large majorities against the Government; and at South Leeds the Conservative poll was increased from 2,126 to 4,915. The first bye-election fought mainly on the Licensing Bill was undoubtedly that of Peckham, which, as is well-known, resulted in the absolute rout of the Ministerial forces, the Radical majority of 1,427 being converted into a Conservative majority of 1,746. At Dewsbury a Minister who sought reelection owing to promotion to Cabinet rank had his poll reduced from 6,764 to 5,594, while the Conservative vote was very largely increased. Then Mr. Winston Churchill was turned out of North-west Manchester, his opponent fighting mainly on the Licensing Bill; and at East Wolverhampton the Radical majority of over 2,000 was reduced to eight. The bye-election in the Newport Division of Shropshire showed an increase in the Conservative majority from 166 to over 900. Then came the Pudsey bye-election in Yorkshire. Sir Thomas Whittaker is the member for the neighbouring division of Spen Valley, and he worked throughout that election to make the Licensing Bill attractive. The result, however, was the loss of the seat to the Radicals. In August, when the Haggerston bye-election took place, Clause 1 of this Bill had been discussed in Committee. The result of that election was the return of a Conservative in place of a Liberal. Finally, there was the Newcastle bye-election, which resulted in a great reduction of the Liberal vote.
All in your Lordships House will agree, I think, that one of our fundamental functions is to interpret the true and well-considered will of the people. Have we ever had a plainer intimation as to the view of the people of this country than that given by the recent bye-elections? These elections have been fought in different parts of the country and in every sort of constituency, and in many instances the defeats of Liberal candidates have been acknowledged to be due to the feeling against the Licensing Bill. I have no hesitation in saying that the county of Kent, from which I come, is absolutely against the Bill, which is there regarded rather as an instrument 844 of gross injustice than as a measure of temperance, more especially when the light in which the Socialists look upon it is considered. There is no doubt, too, in my opinion, that the Bill has accentuated to a very large degree the evils of unemployment. For these reasons I shall support the Amendment of the noble Marquess.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
My Lords, I shall not follow the noble Viscount who has just spoken into the statistics he has given of recent bye-elections, for two reasons—first, because I have had some personal experience of bye-elections during the last twenty-five years and have never known any Government deterred by defeats at bye-elections from bringing in important measures to which they were pledged; and, secondly, because I am aware that your Lordships wish as speedily as possible to get to the division. I propose to state as shortly and succinctly as I can, the reasons which compel me to vote against the Amendment moved by the noble Marquess opposite and in favour of the Second Reading of the Bill. Those who support this Bill are handicapped by the fact that they address your Lordships with, so to speak, a halter round their necks, and that their eloquence, however Ciceronian, is thrown away upon minds already made up.
The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition the other day criticised my noble friend the Leader of the House for some observations he made regarding a certain meeting "in a famous house in a famous square." I admit—it is an obvious truism—that every party leader has a right to call his followers together for consultation regarding measures coming before Parliament. I myself remember the meeting called with regard to the Home Rule Bill by Mr. Gladstone in 1886; I was there myself, but I venture to think there is a considerable difference between that meeting and the meeting in Lansdowne House. The meeting of 1886 was called by the leader of a party whose majority and power ebbed and flowed with the will of the people. In the other case, it was a meeting of a party with a permanent majority in this House, whether 845 that party possesses the confidence of the country or not; and surely it is a matter of great regret that such a meeting should resolve to reject, and to reject summarily, a measure passed by an overwhelming majority in the Assembly elected by the people. Surely under such circumstances it would have been wiser and more in accordance with precedent to have given an opportunity for the discussion in this House in Committee of a measure supported by so overwhelming a majority in the House of Commons.
I have always understood that the debate on the Second Reading of a Bill was a debate on its principle, not on its details. Now what are the principles of this measure? No one can have listened to the speeches that have been made without recognising that the bedrock principles of this Bill are principles on which the House is unanimous, for noble Lords opposite, by the terms of their Amendment, admit that they are in favour of those principles. The Amendment declares that the Bill would not materially advance the cause of temperance, but the use of the word "materially" is a qualification of statements often made that the Bill does not in any way promote the case of temperance, and it is to be taken as an admission that it does in some measure do that which its supporters claim for it. Yet noble Lords opposite support the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading.
That the Bill would cause inconvenience to many of His Majesty's subjects I admit, but my noble friend the Leader of the House in his speech the other evening pointed out in the most convincing terms that it was quite impossible to bring forward any measure of progress in any way affecting a trade or section of people without causing inconvenience to someone. Take motor cars, for instance, if it is permissible to compare small things with great ones. It cannot be said that the introduction of motors, the running of which upon the roads has been sanctioned by the Legislature, has not caused inconvenience to a great many of His Majesty's subjects. Moreover, it has done absolute harm to coach-drivers, hostlers, and other people connected with horse-drawn vehicles. 846 I have tried in vain to find out who are the particular subjects referred to in this Amendment who will be occasioned great inconvenience by this Bill. It may be our old friend the bona fide traveller. It is true that under the Bill the bona fide traveller will have to walk six instead of three miles for alcoholic refreshment; but at the end of the three miles he can have a sandwich and some lemonade, which will give him strength to trudge the other three miles when he can obtain a whiskey and soda. But that is a Committee point, and therefore I can hardly believe that it can be brought forward as a reason for rejecting the Bill on Second Reading. Then the Amendment goes on to declare that the Bill will "violate every principle of equity."
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
I am sorry to hear that cheer. Accustomed as we are to the use of strong language in party controversy, I regret that such terms should be used in this connection, for they cover an accusation against not only party rivals, but grave and reverend persons who do not often take part in political discussions—archbishops, bishops, great Nonconformist divines, leaders in Christian and social reforms; and if those who have drawn up this Bill are convicted of such conduct as is imputed to them, they have sinned in very good company. Whatever I thought of the Bill I certainly could not vote for this Amendment, and if I sat on the other side of the House I should prefer giving a simple negative to the Motion for the Second Reading to recording my vote for an Amendment couched in these terms.
In my humble judgment the whole question at issue is, in the words of Mr. Balfour in his Albert Hall speech, whether it is an honest measure and likely to prove effective. I do not hope to convince noble Lords opposite, but I firmly believe that this is both an honest and an efficient measure in the direction of remedying the evils of intemperance. It is an efficient measure for the reason that it reduces the number of licences. That it is necessary to reduce the number of licences is a principle affirmed by the Peel Commission and all advocates of temperance reform; it was a principle upon 847 which the Act of 1904 was supported. The promise held out in the debates on the 1904 Act was a reduction of 2,000 or more annually. In the result the utmost reduction in a year has been something over 1,000, and that will, of course, in the future be a diminishing quantity. The present Bill provides for a compulsory reduction of 2,200 a year, so that at the end of fourteen years the total reduction would amount to 30,000. It is obvious that if the Bill does that, it is, at any rate, a step in the direction of temperance reform.
The noble and learned Lord opposite cheered the statement that the Bill will "violate every principle of equity." On what is that charge founded? Is it founded on the assertion that the licence-holder has a permanent interest in the licence, that he is in equity, if not in fact, a freeholder? The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition told us that a licence-holder was not a freeholder, but something more than a tenant at will. What the noble Marquess means is that he has an expectation of renewal. But legally, by the Act of 1828, a licence is for a year and no longer. The noble and learned Earl opposite, Lord Halsbury, objected to his utterances as a Judge being quoted. I will give his utterances as a politician on this point. In the debate on the Bill of 1904 he used these words—That there is no legal right for the continuance of a licence, nobody in his senses, I think, has ever contended.The speech of the noble Earl on the cross benches, Lord Rosebery, last night proved that monopoly value belongs to the State. What, then, does this charge of dishonesty mean? I would recall the fact that in 1879 a Committee of your Lordships' House was appointed to consider the causes of intemperance. Now, our position to-day is that the monopoly value has been entirely created by the State and can be resumed by the State for the benefit of the nation after due and fair notice. What said the Committee of your Lordships' House in 1879— a Committee appointed by a Conservative Government and largely composed of Conservative Members—on the Acts of 1869 and 1872—The effect of this legislation has been largely to raise the value of this property, and 848 it would seem but just that the public should receive a greater proportion than hitherto of the profits of a monopoly thus artifically created.And the Government are now denounced as confiscators for acting on this recommendation thirty years after, and delaying the operation of the principle for a further twenty-one years! I know that my voice carries no weight in this House. If it did, I would ask, even at this last moment, whether there is no chance of a compromise and a fair set lenient of the question. I am afraid there is none, and that to-night when the division takes place the doom of this Bill will be sealed. Should that be so, the Opposition may achieve a party triumph, but they will at the same time destroy the highest aspirations of some of the best men in the country—the leaders of the Christian churches and the foremost advocates of moral and social reform.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down seemed extremely anxious that speakers on this side should accuse the Government of being dishonest, and should be unwise enough to make an attack on the right rev. bench for their intentional support of a dishonest measure. I am not going to be lured into using harsh language. The best men in the world may sometimes wander into unwise paths, which lead to injustice. I pass by subsidiary points. What stands out in bold relief is this, that the great object of the Bill is to bring about a diminution in the number of public-houses. I recognise that that is an object which statesmen might worthily put before themselves, and to a substantial extent I am prepared to support it. The noble Lord was inaccurate in his reference to the diminutions that have taken place under the Act of 1904. There have been a considerable number, running to nearly 2,000 in one year; but the Government have stopped the borrowing contemplated by the Act to enable compensation to be paid, and that has, of course, largely checked the diminution. But I pass that by as a small matter.
If a diminution in the number of public-houses is a legitimate object to aim at, 849 then I say it should be accomplished on fair and just terms. Put shortly, the great objection to the method proposed in this Bill is what it would work out unfairly and unjustly. This works out in practice so unjustly that your methods amount almost to confiscation. That is a broad objection, but it is at least an intelligible one. You have no right to reduce the number of public-houses in order to carry out temperance reforms unless you do it fairly. If you take away the property of anyone you must pay for it, and then you will be doing something that is arguable and defensible. At the present moment, public-houses are entitled, if sold in the open market, to the market value. Does anyone say that that is an unreasonable proposition? If any man has a certain property, whether it is a licence, an expectation, land, or anything else, not being a freehold, which is worth in the market perhaps thousands of pounds, it is not reasonable to take away that property and pay only about one-fifth, of its real market value. Several right rev. Prelates have spoken, and so has my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh, but not a single speaker so far who has spoken in favour of this Bill has examined its vulgar details. The position is that at present a man finds himself in possession of something which can be sold in the market, and, for certain purposes, its value is assessed by the Government at its real market value. How can it possibly be regarded as just to take away that property, paying for it only one-fifth of its true market value? It is not reasonable to use all these platitudes about temperance, and at the same time, shut your eyes to the reality of things. The noble Earl who leads the House said there was a difference between the compensation paid now to tied houses and untied houses, but I may tell him that that statement is inaccurate, because the value of both tied and untied houses is measured and decided in exactly the same way. The owners in the case of tied houses, I am aware, would be brewers, but in principle and in substance I am informed that there is not a vestige of difference in the way tied houses are examined as to their value as compared with untied houses.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (The Earl of CREWE)
That may be so, but the point I desired to make was that the result worked out very differently.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
That is of a somewhat vague character, but at any rate the market value is the real test in each case. I suppose the noble Earl means that the market value is affected by what they see and what they know is the position of the house. People talk about the Kennedy judgment, but the present law officers were counsel in that case. They heard it all discussed, and there was no question raised by them as to whether the true principle had not been correctly laid down as to market value, and it was only a squabble as to the number of years purchase. At any rate the principle was not challenged; in fact, it was conceded, and I ask your Lordships to consider this overwhelming fact in coming to a decision upon this measure. There was no appeal taken from the Kennedy judgment, which was accepted as accurate law; therefore I take it as indisputable that, under the present law, a public-house is entitled to be compensated at its market value. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh has drawn a contrast between the figures given before and after the Kennedy judgment. But what is the explanation of those figures? They are explainable in the readiest possible manner. In the first instance, when the Act of 1904 was applied, the worst houses were selected to have their licences withdrawn. Surely that is an immediate explanation of the difference in the prices, if any explanation is necessary. How are we to estimate the value? I do not want to enter further into topics which have been discussed, but we cannot estimate the value as a freehold. The noble Earl Lord Rosebery says the nearest analogy is that of the squatter, but surely that comparison is grotesque and absurd, because the two things are not on the same level in the slightest degree. What a publican possesses in his licence is not a freehold but an entity, a something to which has been attached an expectation of an indefinite renewal, and the market 851 value of that entity is something which can easily be estimated.
My noble friend the Marquess of Lansdowne said in his speech that an analogy could be found in Ireland, and I may add that you have to look to Ireland to learn a great many things. The Ulster custom had no foundation in strict law, but nevertheless they had practice, equity, and usage, and all those things were recognised by Mr. Gladstone in the Act of 1881 as having the force of law. You may push the analogy of the Irish land laws even further. What is a tenancy from year to year? A yearly tenancy is something which can be determined by a very moderate number of years purchase, and yet Mr. Gladstone, when considering the usages and practice in this matter from year to year, gave them a duration of fifteen years renewable for ever. They were not torn aside from the great considerations of usage, practice, and habit of expectation by the existence of the technical legal custom, and Mr. Gladstone on that occasion dealt with the reality of things. It is said that in this Bill there is a time-limit and compensation, and that you are not doing anything unfair. I think it was Mr. Haldane who said, "You have a limit of fourteen years during which you will be certain of your business," but is that so? I believe that statement has deceived thousands of people. I could understand you saying, "We give a time-limit of adequate duration; you must try and save yourselves as best you may, and prepare for the evil day," but that is not what you do. You lay down that one-third of the licences must go, and no man can tell when he may find himself in the scheduled houses. Where is there any certainty in that? Then, again, you deduct from them the insurance levy, and a most extraordinary levy it is. You do not give them any certainty. On the contrary, you simply say that one-third of them must go. You simply tell them that, whether they like it or not, you are going to extract from them a big insurance rate which, by the way, does not insure their own lives. No business man talking sense can say that the time-limit, in its duration or in its conditions, affords anything like compensation—it is almost a farcical use of the term—for the value of the property you are taking away.
852 There is another point which I should like to make before I sit down. The most rev. Primate said he would like to give generous terms? Everyone who knows that distinguished prelate is aware he would like to do that, and so would every bishop sitting on the bench opposite. I am sure not one of them would like to do anything which by a hair's breadth might be regarded as unfair. I do not know what the reason is for the present attitude of the bishops, but it may be that they have not examined the Bill very closely. But I am not pleading for generous treatment; I am only asking for fair terms between man and man, and surely the first condition of fairness would be to hear what these people have to say before you destroy their property. I know of nothing more startling in this Bill than the fact that a man may have his house entered and shut up without being given a hearing for even five minutes. That man may also have the compensation fixed for his property without losing heard for even a second. He may have his levy fixed without being able to say a word on the subject; and, lastly, the monopoly value may also be fixed without his being allowed to say a word. I present to your Lordships that view of the case, and I ask you seriously to consider it, and apply it to the case of your own property. How would you like your own property to be taken away from you interfered with, or injuriously affected in any way, and from the beginning to the end of the process not have even the privilege of saying one solitary word? That is a very startling thing. There is no appeal at all in this matter. Let me for a moment contrast this point with the powers given under the Act of 1904. In that Act there is a provision for the diminution of licences, but you will find in it that no public-house is to be removed without the owner having a hearing. Compensation under that Act cannot be fixed without hearing those immediately concerned, and there is an appeal to the High Court as well. These are very important considerations, and I venture to think that they have not found a fitting place in the debates which have taken place in this House. Neither the noble Earl who introduced the Bill, nor the noble Lord who spoke last night on behalf of 853 the Government, came to close quarters with any one of the points I have mentioned. We are all in favour of temperance, and of every legitimate step to secure that end, but you have failed altogether to apply yourselves to the narrow question—are your terms fair and just, or are they so grossly unfair and unjust that they must be regarded as confiscatory and not to be tolerated at all? I venture to think that those points which have not been discussed are well entitled to your Lordships' close consideration. I am quite satisfied with the few observations I have made, drawing attention to matters which I thought had not been adequately presented to your Lordships. To anyone who knows the history of privilege and of intercourse between the two Houses, it is obviously absurd to expect that the House of Commons and the Government would be prepared to recast their entire Bill, and all its broad propositions, on this vital point of the diminution of public-houses and compensation. Therefore, I think that my noble friend who leads the Opposition is entirely right and justified in moving his Motion for the rejection of this Bill.
My Lords, I do not want to give a vote in favour of the Second Reading of this Bill without giving one or two of the reasons which have led me to take that course. It has been admitted on both sides of the House that there are clearly differences of opinion honestly held by those in favour of this Bill, and also by those who are against it. Throughout the discussion which has taken place during the past twelve months, in which some of us have taken part on one side and some on the other, I venture to think these questions have been fairly considered. I find that what the people wish to know is whether the promise given on the introduction of this Bill that it would be a fair measure, giving fair compensation, has been fulfilled or not. The people want to know whether it deals fairly with the interests which have been allowed to grow up, and on all occasions the people I have addressed have listened carefully and quietly to the arguments on this question, no matter which side put them forward. I am afraid that a 854 large number of your Lordships, even after the appeal of the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, will not be inclined to change your opinion, and notwithstanding the admirable arguments put before the House by my noble friend Viscount St. Aldwyn, which all seemed to advocate the passing of the Second Reading, I fear the majority will be inclined to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill; but that we shall see later on. There are one or two points which I think laymen are competent to give an opinion upon. On certain legal points it may be very rash for a layman to criticise what an ex-Lord Chancellor of England or Ireland may say, but there are certain points which have to be considered from a financial point of view. I know it is very difficult to get at some of these details because we hear such contradictory statements. In my study of this matter I have talked the subject over, in common with many of your Lordships, with my friends, and we have discussed together the question of the payment of the death duties as applied to this subject. I should have thought that the matter was fairly clear at the present time. I have consulted able lawyers on this question who are perfectly competent to give an opinion, and they tell me that what they believe to be the law is this— that when a man dies the value of his property is estimated at the date of his death.
Let me take mining shares as an illustration, and I will suppose that a man at his death leaves shares in De Beers mines. I will assume that this man died at the beginning of this year in January, at which time those mining shares stood at about £22, with the expectation that they were going to receive a dividend, as they had hitherto done, because they knew that the dividend was in hand, that it had been earned, and was actually in cash, or its equivalent, in the coffers of the company. The price would have been at the end of January £22, but in order not to overestimate it, I will place the sum at £20. Before probate would have been paid on that property the directors decided, quite within their rights and in the interests of their companies, not to pay the dividend. I believe the result was 855 that those shares went down from £20 to £12 within a week, and I believe they touched as low as ten guineas. Now I an informed that Somerset House would have taken the market value of those shares on 31st January, that being the date when the owner died, in assessing the probate duty to be paid. Now I come to take the case of licensed property. Lawyers tell me that the price upon which probate will have to be paid is the market value at the date of the death of the owner. The practice is that the person to whom the licensed property passes puts in a price, Somerset House puts in another price, and if they cannot come to terms I am told they can go to an arbitrator, and he decides the price. If the property is sold, and if there happens to be any difference between the price realised and that which was estimated, I am told they can get a rebate. This is exactly the case in the next Schedule. I know of the case of a house in the centre of London which was valued, and which had a mortgage upon it of over £22,000. When the property came to be realised it was found that it had been very much over-estimated, and it was sold only a few weeks ago for £13,000. In this case the lawyers are going to claim, and expect to get, a very considerable rebate of duty on that valuation. I cannot, therefore, see that there is any hardship in the payment of death duty on licensed property, and I fail to see that it gives any right to the purchaser of that property to any special dealing under this Bill simply because he happens to have paid death duty on the market price of the property at the time. I think that is a different view of this question from that which has been generally taken. I know it is a very thorny subject, but it is one which your Lordships will agree is being continually raised, namely, that the payment of the death duty in the case of licensed property in the ordinary way gives them some right for special consideration under this Bill.
Another point of which a good deal has been made in these discussions is the flotation of certain debentures and preference shares to which the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford referred. I think he was quite right in his 856 statement that there was during two or three years a very large appreciation of that property. As Lord Ribblesdale told us, he, along with many other prudent people, was advised that it was such a marked appreciation of value that wise people ought to sell a considerable portion of their licensed property. Some people acted upon that and cleared out and others sold a part to secure the enhanced value, and held the other part on the chance that it might get more valuable. They would probably have done better if they had sold out. I would, however, point out to your Lordships that mining securities, house property, and other forms of property, including railway property, has suffered great depreciation in recent years as well as licensed property. As long as we give the fair market value in doing away with the redundancy of licences, we are acting justly, and I think that point is met by the Bill, and is amply provided for. That is why I feel that I shall be quite justified in voting for the Second Reading of this Bill.
There is another matter which has been referred to, although I will not enter into details upon it, more especially in view of the fact that there is no possibility of this Bill passing. With reference to the question of clubs we on both sides, whichever way we are going to vote, agree on the club question, and also on three-fourths of the other points at issue. We all want to bring about temperance, and we want to deal with clubs fairly. We are all certainly agreed upon the point that we do not want to give drinking clubs any advantage over public-houses, and many of us would like to put them on the same footing. I think I may also say that the majority of your Lordships would not object to your own clubs in the West End of London being subjected to the same rules of inspection as those which are contained in this Bill. This is a point which we might have considered if we had gone into Committee.
Then there is the question of grocers' licences. We are all agreed that we want a measure dealing fairly with that question, and largely reducing the number of such licences. This brings me to the point as to whether it is reasonable to throw out this Bill 857 because clubs are not adequately dealt with, and because grocer's licences have been left out. In regard to the arguments which have been used by the Bishop of Bristol, I confess that I should not have drawn from his premises the same conclusion as he did. He has carefully considered the matter and without hesitation he has declared that this is not a temperance Bill. I will not take up your time any further in dealing with questions which for many months past have been fully considered, but I wish to state that, in my opinion, the alterations which might have been carried in Committee in this House would have made this into a workable Bill. I hope that the clauses for the protection of children may still be added to the Children Bill. I understand that when that Bill comes up for the next stage there will be a proposal made to put in the Children's Clauses, and I earnestly hope that many of your Lordships will be here and give them your support in the interests of temperance and in the interests of the children. Within a very short time we shall have to record our vote on this important Bill. We shall, I fear, show by a large majority that we do not consider that the interests and the well-being of our people comes before the interests of a vested interest. I honestly believe that this conflict upon which we are entering is one which other countries entered upon long ago and the vested interests have been swept away. It is no new fight. It has been going on in Canada for many years past, and in Australia they have got ahead of the Mother Country in their temperance legislation. In the United States they have shown that while they respect the interests of property, on the other band there is something higher than that, and the decision given in the Supreme Court of the United States is that the interests and well being of the community come above even the vested interests of the trade.
Some of us had hoped that this Bill was going to remove in this country to a large extent the evils resulting from intemperance, and achieve a reform which had been long enough delayed. We felt that this was important in our competition with foreign countries in our commercial and industrial life. Many 858 of us take a deep interest in our young men, and we see many a young man's life blighted by the increase in the facilities of drinking. We have seen an increase of this evil in connection with our national sports, which many of us love. We have seen an increase in the evil of betting and gambling, and I am afraid a good deal of this takes place in connection with places where intoxicating liquors are sold. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London has reminded us from his unique experience that these temptations exist, and we want to redress and remove them. I can only say that with all my heart I shall vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, although I shall probably be in a minority. I trust that some of your Lordships who at first did not intend to vote for this Bill may, after hearing the speeches of the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, and others, be induced not to record your votes against the Second Reading, because the passing of the Bill will give an opportunity for introducing Amendments and dealing fairly with some of the details of the measure. I believe that the passing of the Bill would have tended to the honour of our country, and would have saved many of those who are exposed to temptation, without being at all detrimental to those who are engaged in an important trade. In conclusion, I wish to thank your Lordships for having listened to these few words, and I hops what I have said will influence some of your Lordships to record your votes in favour of the Second Reading of this Bill.
My Lords, I do not feel justified in giving a silent vote on such an important measure as that which is before your Lordships at the present moment. Judging from the speeches which have been made up to the present, it appears to me that the main object of this Bill has been somewhat lightly treated. I understand that when this Bill was first introduced great stress was laid upon its being a true temperance measure. I find through all the speeches delivered up to the present that even the supporters of the Bill have dealt somewhat dilatorily with this point. We have listened to some most excellent speeches from the bishops' bench, but they 859 have all come back to the same conclusion that many of my hon. friends on this side of the House have arrived at— that a drastic diminution of public-houses will not add to the promotion of temperance in this country. This Bill has not been fully discussed in another place, and the people of the country have not had a full opportunity of understanding what the drastic measures proposed really mean. In my opinion the proposals which are now before your Lordships go a great deal further in the direction of increasing drunkenness than in the direction of promoting temperance. If we look to history we find as far back as one can trace that wherever drastic prohibition has been brought about the invariable result has been that illicit facilities have sprung up in the place of public-houses. I firmly believe that if this drastic diminution of public-houses is carried out to the extent which the Government desire, they will find that at the end of their time-limit they will have no responsible or respectable publicans left to take their places in the remaining houses. If I read the Bill aright, there is no encouragement whatever for a publican to keep a respectable house in the future, and it is the respectability of a house that will help to increase temperance in this country. On the other hand, I fear that by this drastic reduction, instead of improving public-houses, we shall find springing up in all our large cities and towns, and especially in the metropolis, places which are most undesirable, and of such a character that it will be almost impossible for the police to have any supervision over them. I do not refer to clubs, or bona fide working men's clubs, which are one of the best institutions introduced into this country during recent years. I have had an opportunity of observing that wherever these drastic measure are brought to bear drinking dens are invariably sprung upon the public, and these are the very worst kind of places where vice of all kinds originates, because the people who establish them have nothing to lose, and their main object is to make as much as they possibly can out of the liquor they sell. This kind of thing encourages those to drink excessively who otherwise would not be 860 tempted to take more than is necessary. I have seen in the United States of America and also in Canada, where prohibition has been enforced, some of these dens which are the worst kind of places that can possibly be found. The police have the greatest difficulty in observing or finding out where they are situated, because often they are set up in some back premises where there are no windows. Sometimes they are screened off at the back of some tobacconist's, grocer's, or butcher's shop, the last place where a policeman would imagine anything of the kind was going on. My opinion is that this Bill, as brought in by the Government, will rather encourage the springing up of these places for secret drinking.
The noble Earl who leads the House said he did not understand what secret drinking was, and he spoke upon the subject rather lightly by saying that he might class your Lordships as secret drinkers because you drank at home. But secret drinking is not meant m that way. Secret drinking originates in these horrible dens in the slums of our great cities which afford plenty of facilities for their springing up. I object to this Bill very strongly on that point, because I do not think there is any possible chance of driving a man to temperance by legislation. I think all your Lordships will admit that. I would suggest to His Majesty's Government that if they would introduce a Bill such as the measure which has been introduced by my noble friend Lord Lamington, dealing with the reconstruction of public-houses in this country, it would do more for temperance than any drastic measure abolishing licences. Although a man may become degraded by getting drunk, he abominates being seen whilst he is getting into that state, and if our public-houses were made more public, private doors and back doors were done away with, and the whole of the bars or drinking premises made more open to the public, that would go a great deal further towards the promotion of temperance than the drastic measure which has been proposed by the Government. I notice that several speakers have attacked 861 the Act of 1904. They tell us that that Act has not been successful in reducing the number of licences, or, at any rate, that it has not reduced them to the extent which was promised at the time of the passing of the Bill. It has been said more than once that only 1,100 licences have been taken away in one year. According to the annual statistics for 1907 I find that the reduction last year was over 2,000, and that is a great increase of nearly 700 over the total reduction for 1906. Of course, as you reduce licences it stands to reason that, the number reduced must decrease, because there are not so many to come in for reduction. I believe that if the Act of 1904 were amended to bring more pressure to bear upon local authorities to carry out the instructions In the Act and fulfil the provisions of its clauses, a great deal more might be done under that Act than is being done at present in the direction of promoting temperance.
It is a fact, no doubt, that drinking has increased considerably amongst the women of this country, but it must be borne in mind that a great deal of that is due to our present legislation. May I point out that one of the licences which this present Bill does not touch in any way is the off-licence, which, to my mind, is one of the biggest curses of this country. I am sure that all those who sit on the bishops' bench will agree with me that it is only since off-licences were granted in this country that drinking has increased among women, because those licences afford every opportunity for people obtaining intoxicating liquors without anybody being aware of the fact. Women can buy intoxicating liquor from their grocer, and have it charged in the bill as groceries, and this is one of the worst ways of being able to obtain liquor that I think there is in this country. The Government do not propose to interfere with off-licences in this Bill. Not only that, but this measure deals very lightly with clubs. A great deal has been said about clubs, but to my mind it is almost impossible to distinguish between the pure bona fide club and what you may call drinking clubs unless a proposal is brought in 862 whereby their accounts would have to be made public either once or twice a year to a public auditor. Even then it would be difficult to overcome the difficulty, because there are many clubs in existence to-day—and they call themselves bona-fide clubs, and I notice some of them are run by supporters of His Majesty's Government, who occasionally take the chair at those clubs—which go so far as to give variety shows on Sunday, and so forth. Those, to my mind, are not bona fide clubs, and ought to be severely dealt with by the Government. There are certain working men's clubs in which I take an interest, and I may say that a more respectable kind of club cannot be found in England, even amongst some of our fine clubs in the West End. Such clubs as I refer to are of great assistance to working-men in debating the current topics of the day. If you are going to allow clubs to spring up in the place of public-houses, without proper police supervision, that will be far worse, to my mind, than the present state of our licensing system. My opinion on this point has not been changed in consequence of the debate which has gone on in your Lordships' House for the last two days. My opinion on this point was formed during the passage of the Bill in another place, where, I am sorry to say, it was very little discussed, especially in regard to some of the most crucial points, and some most important Amendments were brought in at the last moment which were not even understood by the Government. The Prime Minister himself, when attacked on those Amendments, said they would be dealt with in your Lordships' House. Those Amendments ought to have been dealt with before the Bill came to us. Your Lordships will no doubt be attacked from the benches opposite for the action you are taking in regard to this measure, but as a humble Member on the back benches I have no hesitation in solemnly declaring my belief that we as a whole are perfectly right in the stand we are taking to-day. The opinion I have gathered from private information throughout the country and from various sources is very strongly against this Bill, notwithstanding the fact that a noble Lord 863 has charged us with being friends of the brewing community and so forth. I put all that on one side. There is a much stronger force than the brewing trade behind those who are desirous of rejecting this Bill on its Second Reading, and they are not only supporters of noble Lords who sit on this side of the House, but many of them are supporters of His Majesty's Government. They are very strong upon this measure, because there is no sign whatever, and no statement has been forthcoming either from the Government or any of their supporters, that there is any intention of proving in any shape or form where the temperance proposals come in within the clauses of this Bill. It is, to my mind, anything but a temperance measure, and for these reasons I feel that I cannot possibly do otherwise than follow my noble Leader, the Marquess of Lansdowne, into the lobby in favour of rejecting this Bill on its Second Reading.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTH-WARK
My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just sat down has told us, as we have been often told before, that this is not a temperance measure. I should not be sanguine of convincing him upon that point by enumerating the temperance portions of the measure, because I notice they have already been effectively described from both sides of the House, without preventing the repetition of this criticism. I should like if I may to try and show in another way, which is to me far more satisfactory and conclusive, that this is, in a very real sense, a temperance measure of the sort and kind that we chiefly want. The noble Lord who has just sat down and others have made references to this bench, and they have all been courteous and considerate to us in this debate. But I noticed yesterday that there was a certain tendency to regard the debate, of the part of it with which we here are specially identified, as being a kind of discussion between reason and sentiment. It is said that those who favour this measure represent the sentiment, and those on the benches opposite represent the cooler and quieter voice of reason. Now, reason and sentiment are both honourable, but a discussion in which the two 864 are ranged against each other is singularly unsatisfactory and unprofitable. To myself that is not at all the aspect which this question wears. It seems to me that the two sides are guided, not by different parts of our complex nature, but rather by their differences of association. I do not think anybody can have listened to the very able speeches which have come from the other side of the House without feeling that, speaking generally, those who sit there approach the subject, and very naturally approach it, from the side of business and finance. To them it connects itself with all the intricate system of investments upon which our commercial life depends. It is a trade, and they compare it with other trades, and a great part of what "goes up and down in the City" (in Mr. Weller's phrase) is concerned with this question as it is with all other forms, of industry. From that side noble Lords opposite approach it, and at that end they take up the matter. Now what is our case? I speak as one who may in some sense claim to speak, not only on behalf of those who call themselves temperance reformers, but also on behalf of those who are practically working for the moral and spiritual benefit of the people. I approach this question from the state of things as I find it existing in our towns, and which is open to the view of anyone who passes through, them. I say with little fear of contradiction that the appearance of the working-class parts of London or other towns is in this respect as unsatisfactory as it well can be. I do not mean in the least because of scenes of debauchery or anything of that kind. What I mean is that you have a dull monotonous town of people, who are evidently living a struggling life not over well-paid, well-fed, or well-clothed. The places which catch, the eye of the traveller, which are attractive and are the centres of popular resort, are the places where for private profit spirituous liquors are sold. Such is the first look of the case. But the impression will be confirmed if you go to any of the people who have a right to speak upon this question. If you go to the police, the magistrates, the medical men, the poor law officers, and so on, they will all tell you with one voice that it is from the influence of those houses 865 upon tie population that a very great part of the misery which exists comes. It seems to me, my Lords, quite intolerable that this state of things should go on. I believe that a century hence people looking back at this state of things in the town to-day will speak of it as we speak of some of the things which we cannot imagine how our excellent forefathers endured in their time. When we ask what is it that is wrong we are not dealing with the misdoings of this or that house or this or that man. We are not making any charge against this or that class or saying that they are habitually doing what they know to be wrong or anything of that kind; what we do believe is that the system is somehow thoroughly wrong.
When we look into it we find behind the houses which exist in this relation to our population a strong organisation. We find further that that organisation has tightened its grip and organised itself very much in the last few years, and has grown much more compact and powerful. Its influence in its own Press and in the general Press has very much increased, and it has, in fact, become one of the most powerful influences in the country. We find that not the least serious aspect of the matter is that by a process not unnatural, because it has happened in other trades, this business of purveying liquor has connected itself with parts of society quite apart from its own special business and has woven itself in with general financial interests, and has attracted to itself "the widow and orphan" and all those other investors of whom we have heard so much in this debate. I ask you what a thing this is to contemplate, to see this great organisation built up as it is upon the profits of human weakness and upon supplying drink under the most dangerous conditions—I do not think anybody who knows the towns will doubt that; drink is being supplied to those who from their circumstances are most susceptible to its influences because when a man is in distress or hungry he is most tempted to yield to the temptation of something that he thinks will lighten his care or brighten his life. To this class of people who are most accessible, the supply of drink is one of the most dangerous of all 866 temptations for their own and their families' welfare. To this purpose it is that this great organisation directs itself. I do not want to exaggerate in any particular, still less do I desire to slander my neighbour. It is often said the trade is no lover of drunkenness, and I heartily concede that. Drunkenness is troublesome to the trade and brings it into disrepute and so on. But that platitude is in this sense a sophism. Between drunkenness and the innocent glass which refreshes, and which we all wish to see accessible to anyone who wants to drink it, there is an immense mass of drinking which is needless, and which is, from the point of view of the circumstances of those who indulge in it, extravagant and wasteful; it is, I do not hesitate to say, cruel drinking in regard to its results upon their homes, and dangerous as regards their own character. It is upon that class of drinking that this trade must rely for a great bulk of its profits. I am afraid I shall be condemned for taking this extreme line, but I do so with the utmost confidence, because I believe that what we find here is a system that has got to be changed. It is in that sense that we are opposed to the trade. It is almost superfluous to say, but let it be said in justice, that this trade is one which provides for the public life of England as many upright, noble-minded, and generous-hearted citizens as any other trade which the country contains. When I remember the brewers whom I have known I should be unjust and ungrateful if I did not say that. You will often find our clergy saying that they have among their people publicans and publicans' families for whom they have the greatest respect. When we say we are opposed to the trade it is not because we think that all the members of the trade are villains or anything of that kind at all. The reason is, as I have tried, imperfectly perhaps, to remind your Lordships, that it is the general drift and trend of this organisation and the place we have allowed it to take in the social life of this country that has to be seriously considered. Those sitting on this bench or on any other bench, who really wish to consider seriously these matters should ask themselves what force is there capable of really changing this system. Is it possible to find a Parliament with 867 sufficient power at its back; is it possible to find a Government with sufficient force and pluck to take up this subject? When I find that a measure of this kind is brought up by a Government which has certainly not increased its popularity by handling this question; when I find that after it has been said again and again that you will not get a really strong measure of reform through Parliament; when I find that the present Parliament has passed this measure by a great majority, certainly I for one am moved to look at it favourably. I say that that is not sentiment, but it is reason, because it goes down to the first principles of our convictions.
Then you say, what change is it you desire? Probably you are one of those extravagant persons who think they can drive other people into sobriety by abolishing the consumption of intoxicating liquor as being an evil thing. I certainly have never had any such character amongst my own friends. To me teetotalism other than the teetotalism of the man who practises it as a safeguard to himself, or that of a man who practises it as a kindness, charity, and help to others, is not what I favour. Teetotalism in its compulsory forms has always been to me foolish and repulsive. That is not at all what we desire. What we desire—and I will try to keep to this point—is that all this organised and brigaded force of private and pecuniary interest shall not be at the back of the sale of liquor. This is not any exaggerated or unprecedented claim, but one which has been made again and again by many of the most thoughtful writers and thinkers on this subject. They have seen and urged that this trade, though it has its good points in common with other trades, is a case entirely standing by itself. There are horrible and unhappy organisations for vice, and I put them aside at once as simply evil. There are many organisations for trade which only do good and supply us with the things we want. Between these there lies this organisation which comes much too near to the public evils of the life of the country, and which yet is a perfectly legitimate supply of things which are needed by many, and what they ought to be allowed to have under 868 certain conditions. When we are dealing, with a case so peculiar we feel that special treatment is needed. We ask that this state of things shall be somehow or other very thoroughly changed so that the whole distribution and the whole manner of distribution, and the whole relation of the distribution to the people shall be altered. Thus we come round to the point where many of your Lordships begin. For we are told that the way is not open, that we have got a great vested interest, and that we must on all principles of justice deal fairly and reasonably with that interest. What does that mean? Does it mean that the nation, if it wants to make a change, and even a searching change, in its own system must buy itself out? References have been made to the case of slavery when the nation paid £20,000,000 to buy out the slave-owners. Is that what you ought to do in this case? I want to speak to you in my simplicity. I want to speak as a simple person, because I represent a great number of other simple persons in the country, and I want you to see how this matter strikes us; and I believe a great number of the public, especially in those classes who are most affected by this question. This system is built up of licences. What is a licence? It is a year's permission, says the technical lawyer, and so also, not in a technical, but in a rhetorical way, says the extreme advocate of prohibition. On the other hand, a licence is said by others in varying tones and with, different degrees of hesitation, to be a property, which very possibly in some senses it is. (I believe I am right in saying that the treatment of a licence as property has hardened a good deal of late under the influence of what has happened since 1904 and so on.) Now when I said that I was speaking in my simplicity what I meant was that a long time ago it seemed to me quite plain that for practical purposes a licence was neither a single year's leave to trade nor was it in any full sense a property. It seems to me just as preposterous to call it the one as to call it the other. Taking everything into account, I think it is something entirely between the two, for which we must find some other way of dealing. I believe there are very large sections of English 869 opinion which would endorse that view. You are not to deal with the licence summarily when the year has expired; neither are you to admit a claim that it should be bought out at the full market price of the house with the licence attached. That is equally absurd.
We simple folk look to see what the experts are saying, and we find they say it is quite true that a middle way must be found, and that the best middle way is the efflux of time, that is to say the time-limit. Long ago we followed that course and that is the reason why the most rev. Primate and others are quite firm in their adhesion to the principle of the time-limit. It is argued that like any other property a licence is one of a man's chattels like any other. You may take it from me that it makes no impression on our minds but one of indignation when we are told that we are sanctioning stealing, and that our action is robbery. It seems to us that there is all the difference in the world between one man putting his hand into another man's pocket, and the State with all its corporate responsibility, undertaking to reform its own system in this most responsible matter and finding out some equitable way of dealing with a licence. Of course we cannot go into the question of the amount or the length of the time-limit, or into such questions as the value of the property. On these points we simple people are at a disadvantage. We do not profess to be able to go into all these calculations which have been lavished so liberally and circulated so freely among your Lordships during the months this controversy has been going on. But we have tried according to our small capacity to look a little into this matter. And it is here that I should just like to express what has been in my mind with regard to the entire fairness of the Bill. My doubt turns on what I may call the double charge which is laid upon the trade or the double loss involved, the loss by the time-limit and the loss involved up to the end of the time-limit by the payments for compensation. I believe as a matter of fact that this is a result of what I think is the deplorable action taken by the trade in the year 1904. I thought it was deplorable that when the justices of this country on a very small 870 scale, and in a very reserved way, began to exercise the discretion they have always been known to possess, the trade ran at once to the then Government and said: "Come to our rescue and give us what we have never had, namely, a Parliamentary title, and secure us against these predatory attacks." The Government gave that, but to their honour they gave it with a qualification. They did what the trade asked for as regards the Parliamentary title, but they said: "You must pay a price for it." I am a little tempted to say that they "robbed" the trade according to their own principle by making he trade compensation which, if the trade possessed a property like other property ought to have been paid out of the public Exchequer. The result was that we had that reduction system going on, and what I suppose to have happened —though I quite admit that I am now leaving the ground which simple folk ought to occupy—is that when the present Government determined to go deeper, and by the employment of the time-limit to secure in the not distant future the larger charge, it was impossible for them as reformers to knock off those reductions which their predecessors had set going, and so the two methods were combined. But I am a little tempted to regret that they not only did that, but they also strung up the compensation payments very considerably, and raised to a very heavy figure the burdens thus entailed upon the trade during the expiring time-limit. But I noticed that it was precisely here that the Prime Minister in the House of Commons came in with a concession which we should have thought was a real and good one and which I thought would have met the point, namely, a concession of seven years. It was not very wise to allow that to be tarnished and damaged by the unlikely prospect of local option during the seven years. It is this combination of two methods which looks to me a little unfair, and to be the strongest point against the Government's proposals and I should have liked to have seen this point dealt with thoroughly in Committee. But then I must say that as far as the case for the Opposition has been carried no distinct stress has been laid upon that point. Very likely I may have overlooked something, but it was only when 871 Lord Belper was speaking, in a very thin House, that I heard it quite distinctly brought out as the real sting and fault of this Bill. In other speeches it may have been mentioned, but I think it was lost sight of in that general attack upon property which in that form does not appeal to the minds of many of us at all. That is the reason why most of us on this bench are going to give a vote for this Bill which is a cordial vote upon the whole question, but if I may say so without offence is a more unreserved and decided vote against the line which is taken on the benches opposite. We feel that the property argument has been pushed to the full and has been pushed too far, and it stands as a hindrance, and an illegitimate hindrance, across the path which leads to that real change in the system which would enable the retailing of liquor to be conducted not in the way that private interest suggests, but in the way which the nation in its wisdom may find to be the most appropriate. That is what stands in the way of the change we desire. I have tried to show to your Lordships that we take this course not on grounds of sentiment but on what we think are grounds of sober and practical reason. Lord Ribblesdale said on the first night of the debate that those who were sitting on the benches opposite would be doing a popular thing by rejecting this Bill, and he commended this view to those who were strongly in favour of it and who did not fear public opinion. I have always observed that there are several public opinions in this country, and there are certainly several ways of acquiring popularity. I cannot think that this House, for whose honour I feel very jealous, as I think every Member of it must feel, will find that it has appealed to the best forms of public opinion in the country by the action it is taking; and that the popularity which it gains, if it does gain, is not the popularity of those who, setting aside all private interests and partial affections, set themselves to the consideration of what they regard as best for the moral welfare of the nation.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I have two grounds for wishing to take part in this debate. The first is that, having been engaged for some 872 years in temperance work in connection with the trust movement, I realise the very great need which exists for many of the reforms put forward in this Bill. On this matter I do not take my opinion from the most rev. Primate or from the episcopal bench, or from any other persons. I speak from my own knowledge and experience. Secondly, since that work has taken the form of carrying on a public-house business under the existing law, I have had ample opportunity of realising some of the great difficulties which attend a business of this kind; and also of appreciating the effect which this Bill, if passed, would have up n the trade. I hope that no one will accuse me of being hostile, either politically or fanatically, to the trade, and I hope that your Lordships will not see upon my face what my noble friend Lord Robertson described as the scowl of the teetotal fanatic which he seemed to trace upon the face of the draughtsman of this Bill. In a sense, I am myself engaged in this trade, and I cannot in any way approach it with feelings of hostility. Being engaged in that trade I know it is not the entirely evil thing, and certainly not the extremely lucrative business, which many temperance reformers believe. There are two great questions which are raised both by the Bill, and by the Amendment before the House. In the first place there is the question of temperance, and in the second place the question of justice or equity. If the Bill is defended it must be defended upon both those grounds, and I desire, so far as I can under the present circumstances, to deal with both those aspects of the question. I will deal with the question of justice or equity in the first instance, because I think that aspect of the question has occupied by far the largest part of the speeches made on this side of the House. I do not complain of that. I think it is only right, because, however great may be the moral purpose of a Bill like this, we have to look not only at its objects, but also at the methods by which those objects are to be carried out; and whatever may be the extent of the public good which a Bill of this sort seeks to obtain, I should be the last person to suggest that we should achieve public 873 good at the cost of private wrong. The whole question we have to consider is what is just and equitable as between the State on the one side and the private trader on the other. But the interests of the State must not be overlooked. I was very much surprised to hear the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, say last night that he did not know what was meant when people talked of the rights of the State, and that, in his opinion, no such rights existed. I do not know what other people may mean when they speak of the rights of the State, but what I mean by the right of the State is the right to consider the whole question of licensing from the point of view of the public interest. By that I mean the right of the licensing authority not only to grant licences but also to take them away, to say what conditions shall attach to them, what price shall be paid for them, under what conditions and circumstances a licensed business shall be carried on; a perfectly free and unfettered discretion, if need be, to take away the licence of one person and give it to another. That is what I mean by the right of the State. That liberty does not exist at the present moment, and it is the object of this Bill to restore it.
The Act of 1904 took care to make ample provision for the rights and interests of the private trader, but it did not have sufficient regard for the rights of the State. On the other hand, this Bill seems to me to err in the other direction. In this Bill great care is taken of the rights of the State but not sufficient consideration is given—I do not say no consideration but insufficient consideration is given—to the rights of the private trader. On the question of equity we have had two very weighty speeches, one from the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, and the other from the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, and although I do not agree entirely with their premises I do agree with both of them in thinking that the compensation clauses of this Bill require some amendment. If I may say so, the speech of the noble Viscount was not only a very moderate, but an extremely powerful speech. I think it was the most powerful speech which has been yet directed 874 against the Bill, and so far as I am aware, the arguments which he brought forward have not yet been met. In that speech the noble Viscount attacked the Government because they had substituted the Schedule A basis of valuation for the assessment of compensation for the market value basis set up in the Bill of 1904. The noble Viscount drew an analogy between the business of a grocer or draper and that of a publican, and he asked what would be thought in the case of a grocer or a draper if, when his business was taken away from him, you offered to compensate him upon the Schedule A value of that business. I cannot help thinking that these analogies are very misleading. We have had a great many analogies drawn in the course of this debate, of one kind and another, and I do not think that in a single instance the analogy has absolutely fitted the case. Certainly the noble Viscount's analogy was not happier than others, because there is no real comparison between the business of a grocer or draper carried on under free competition, in the open market, and the strictly monopoly business of a licence-holder carried on under a licence from the State. The mistake which the noble Viscount made, if I may say so with all respect, was to speak of compensation for profits. He said: "I challenge the noble Earl, or any of his colleagues, to show how it is possible under Schedule A to compensate a man sufficiently for the loss of his profits." When a man is compensated for the loss of his licence, under the law as it stands to-day, you compensate him not for his business or profits, but for the loss in the market value of his premises owing to the fact that the licence has been taken away from them. I am speaking upon a matter of law, and if I am mistaken I hope I shall be corrected. I think the position is that when the State gives a licence to particular premises it gives to the owner an opportunity of doing a profitable business which has a marketable value, and when the licence is withdrawn that additional value which is given to the premises by the licence is what the State takes away. The only thing which is under consideration when compensation is contemplated is the enhanced value given by the licence, 875 and a man is compensated under the law for the difference in the value of his premises with a licence and without a licence. That is a very different thing from the profits of a business. It is not the business which the State takes away or for which it compensates, because, in the case of licensed premises the business is not the business of the owner of the house but that of the publican. If the analogy of the noble Viscount were really applied strictly the grocer in the circumstances would receive no compensation because there is no difference between the value of a grocer's shop for a grocer's business and its value for any other business.
I maintain that the market value of a licence is fairly represented by the Schedule A valuation, or would be so represented if the premises were properly assessed. The noble Viscount was quite correct in saying that the Schedule A valuation corresponded to the rack-rent of the premises, but that rack-rent represents what a man is prepared to pay for such premises with the special advantages which he gets from the fact that a licence is attached to them; and, therefore, that is a fair basis to take when you are estimating the loss in the value of those premises when the licence is taken away. What I think the noble Viscount forgot is that the rateable value of the premises is the basis taken for assessing the payments into the compensation fund, and as the law works at the present moment an unfair distinction is drawn between the publican of a free house and the publican of a tied house for this reason—that in both cases the rateable value of the premises is taken as the basis for their contributions to the compensation fund, but a different basis is taken when compensation is to be paid. The brewer is able to reduce his assessment by charging less to his tenant in the form of rent and more in the shape of the price of his liquor, and, therefore, he pays less into the compensation fund than a free tenant does; but when his turn comes to take out of the compensation fund he claims compensation not only for the reduced value of his premises but also for the loss of his wholesale profits. Therefore he contributes less than the 876 free publican and obtains more. These wholesale profits are the only item which is not included in the Schedule A valuation, and I maintain that they ought not to be taken into account when we are considering what compensation ought to be given, because in a great many cases the wholesale profits are not lost at all when a licence is taken away. I had a good example of this brought before me this year when the licence of a tied house was going to be taken away under the Act of 1904, and in Court the representative of the brewing firm who owned the house said to one of our trust company representatives: "I am obliged to oppose the taking away of this licence, but, as a matter of fact, it is not going to do us any damage, because I shall receive £2,000 compensation for that licence, and I shall not lose the sale of a barrel of beer by the loss of it." In that £2,000 was calculated a certain proportion of the wholesale profits of the brewer, whose representative admitted that he was not going to lose a barrel of beer by the transaction. We have heard a good deal about robbery under this Bill. I do not like such rhetorical phrases, and I am not going to call this robbery of the State, but in operations of this kind which are going on under the law to-day all over the country there is something going on which is very much like taking money under false pretences from the State. For these reasons, My Lords, I hold that the basis of compensation under this Bill is a just and equitable one, and it is the same basis as that which is chosen for contributions to the compensation fund.
But when I come to the number of years purchase of the Schedule A valuation, I confess this strikes me as entirely inadequate. When you think of the source of this compensation fund, when you remember that it is paid out of the pockets of the trade; that it is, as has been admitted on both sides of the House, a compulsory insurance fund; it strikes me as somewhat shabby—I can use no other word — to exact as high and it may be higher premiums than heretofore, and then when the licence is taken away to give compensation which is totally inadequate for the loss. I am speaking 877 now of the number of years purchase of the annual licence value given by the Bill. I have gone into these figures very carefully, and I have considered them in relation to the houses of which I have some knowledge under various trust companies, and I find that before the Kennedy judgment was delivered the number of years purchase of the licensed value of a house given by the Inland Revenue authorities under the Act of 1904 was something between twenty and twenty-four years purchase. After careful consideration of actual figures I say that nothing short of twenty-one years purchase of the Schedule A value of a licence would give adequate compensation to a licence-holder, and if we had gone into Committee I should have been prepared to bring forward an Amendment to raise the compensation payments to this amount. This is a matter of detail which could have been settled in Committee, and I very much regret that no opportunity is to be given to us for discussing a matter of this sort, which, although it is a detail, is very important, and I maintain that it would have been perfectly competent for your Lordships if we had read this Bill a second time to have dealt in any way you thought fit with the question of compensation. I confess that I am very much disappointed that no such opportunity is to be afforded.
There is one other part of this Bill which raises the question of justice or equity, and it is that part which establishes a time-limit to existing licences. The Bill as it stands proposes that the compensation levy and the compensation payments should run over a period of fourteen years; that at the end of that time they should cease; that the licences which survive should be renewed for a further period of seven years, and that at the end of that period, twenty-one years in all, all claims to their renewal should cease and the State should have absolute discretion as to their disposal. I admit that this additional seven years, in the form in which it appears in the Bill at the present moment, is but a poor concession. It does not contain that element which is absolutely essential to a time-limit if it is to be consistent with justice, viz., fixity of tenure. But 878 this again was a matter which was entirely within your Lordships' discretion. This seven years tenure as at this moment proposed is limited by two facts —the discretion of the justices during; those seven years and the operation of local veto machinery. But it would have been perfectly competent for your Lordships, if we had gone into Committee, to sweep away both those limitations. There was nothing whatever to prevent it, and if you had done that you would have got a time-limit which, in principle at any rate, would have corresponded with that which Mr. Balfour himself and speakers on the front Opposition bench have declared to be just and equitable. There might still have been a question as to whether the number of years was long enough or not, but the number of years of the time-limit is only a detail which, I cannot help thinking, is capable of adjustment if we could only agree upon the principle of it. That is all I want to say about the question of interests and equity. I have been obliged to deal with it on broad lines. There are many details which I should have liked to have discussed, and should have been prepared to do so if opportunity had occurred, but they are details more fitted for the Committee stage of the Bill.
Now I want to come to the other great question which is raised by this. Bill, the question of temperance. This Amendment, and I think almost every speech by which it has been advocated, declares that the Bill is going to do nothing for temperance. I think that in almost every speech which I have heard in favour of the Amendment the speaker has said: "I entirely fail to see what this Bill is going to do to advance the cause of temperance." If I were anxious to score a debating point I might point out to the House that the Amendment is asking us to believe that all the temperance organisations in this-country who, with singular unanimity, have accepted this Bill in principle; that the right rev. Primate and his colleagues on that bench, who have had some personal experience of temperance work; that men like my noble friend Lord Peel, who has given years of thought to this subject; that all these people know less about the question of temperance and 879 how it will be affected by this Bill than do the noble Lords who are going to follow the noble Marquess into the lobby. It may be so, but it is making rather a large demand upon our credulity. Again, I might ask, when I remember the speech made by Lord Halsbury last night, what are we to think of the zeal in the cause of temperance of a man whose only contribution to this debate on that subject was to remind the House that over-eating was as serious as over-drinking, that beer was part of the necessary diet of the working-man, and that 6d. a day was, after all, not a very large sum for a man to spend in drink. Overeating as serious an evil as overdrinking! My Lords, is not there something rather grim in that pleasantry when we think of the classes who will be affected by this Bill? If there is an evil connected with food in that class, I think it arises rather from under-feeding than from over-eating. But I do not want to make mere debating points against those with whom, though I disagree, I do so with great reluctance, and I am quite prepared to take up the challenge which has been thrown down, that this Bill is going to do nothing for the cause of temperance, and I am perfectly prepared to give my reasons for thinking differently.
It is assumed by those who use this argument that the Act of 1904 did all that was necessary for the cause of temperance, that it is working well and that no amendment of the law is required. Now, without denying that the Act of 1904 did certainly, in some respects, advance the cause of temperance, I just want to bring to the notice of your Lordships one or two points in which that Act had a contrary effect. The first point I want to call your attention to is one which I do not think was contemplated at the time when it was passed, viz., that it has taken away from the justices of petty sessional divisions the power of imposing conditions on the renewal of existing licences. I will give you two illustrations of the effect which the Act has had in this respect. Before the year 1905 the Liverpool justices found that they were able to do a good deal for the cause of temperance and for the public good, by imposing conditions as to the structure of licensed premises and the conditions of trade carried 880 on in them. The neighbouring justices of Birkenhead being impressed with what had been done in Liverpool decided to take the same course, and the conditions which they sought to impose were certainly not unreasonable ones and were solely in the public interest. They included such conditions as that no intoxicating liquor should be sold on credit, that no intoxicating liquor should be supplied to any child under fourteen, that the licensee should devote his whole time to his business, and that back doors were to be kept locked. But they found that the Act of 1904 debarred them from imposing those conditions. The case was taken into Court and it was decided that since the passing of that Act the justices had no power whatever to impose those conditions.
Then there was an even stronger case, the case of the "Sun Inn" at W rsash, in which the Fareham justices discovered that a large number of Sunday trippers were being served with drink on Sunday 'n certain houses during the hours of closing, although they were in no sense bona fide travellers. They therefore summoned the licensees before them and explained that they did not wish this class of person to be served. The licensees, having heard what the magistrates had to say, agreed to the conditions imposed and said they would see that they were carried out. On the next Sunday after this decision of the bench was given, the tenants of the four houses concerned endeavoured to carry out their instructions, but the owner of the houses, the representative of the brewing firm, came down and ordered his publicans to serve these people as they had been doing hitherto and the publicans did as they were told. The magistrates applied to the Home Office for authority to enforce their decision, and were told that they had no power to do anything at all. Those are illustrations of the way in which this Act, though quite unintentionally, has had a real detrimental effect, and the remedy is to be found in Clause 22 of this Bill.
There is one other way in which this Act is working contrary to the interests of temperance. The authors of the Act of 1904 will remember, I think, that Clause 881 4 of that Act was intended to prevent in future the growth of that monopoly which Lord Salisbury described as an outrage and which Lord Lansdowne called an unhealthy excrescence. It was intended that, at any rate, with regard to new licences, the State should be free to deal with them as it pleased. But the practice has grown up for justices under the Act of 1904 to grant licences, annually renewable licences, and at the same time to charge in some cases an enormous capital sum in respect of the monopoly value of the premises. I was looking through the Blue book which is published each year of licensing statistics and I found that as much as £20,000 had been asked and paid for an annually renewable licence. This practice is one which is detrimental to the cause of temperance, because it imposes a financial burden upon a man who is just setting up a new business and compels him to recoup himself out of his trade to the extent of this capital charge before he can put any profit whatever in his pocket. It is detrimental to the cause of temperance, it is contrary to the public interest and opposed to the whole spirit of the Act of 1904, because it creates again, and in an aggravated form, that very claim to the perpetual renewal of a licence which Section 4 of that Act was intended to remedy. Here, again, the remedy is found in Clause 26 of this Bill which provides that in the case of an annual licence the monopoly charge is not in any instance to exceed the annual value of that licence.
In fact, every single clause in Part 3 of this Bill is of value, and would bring great benefit to the cause of temperance. I shall be answered, I know, that that part of the Bill is in the main non-controversial, and I welcome the suggestion that was made by Lord St. Aldwyn that this part of the Bill, at any rate, should be saved. What I want to insist upon is this, that just as no one would be justified in defending the Bill as an equitable measure without referring to Part 1 and 2, so also no one is justified in denouncing the Bill on the ground that it does nothing for temperance without saying something about Part 3, which contains all the valuable provisions to which I have referred. But I do not wish 882 it to be thought that the value of this Bill from a temperance point of view is confined to Part 3. I come to what is admittedly the core and kernel of the Bill, viz., the clauses which deal with the reduction period and the time-limit, and here I want to say something about the value of reduction generally as a temperance measure. I attach the greatest possible importance to a policy of reducing the number of public-houses, but not upon the usual ground on which such a policy is advocated and on which it was. advocated by the right rev. Primate in his speech last night, viz., the ground that every public-house is a temptation, that as you multiply temptations you multiply the chances and probabilities of excessive drinking, and that in proportion as you diminish temptations you promote the cause of temperance. I think the extent to which that is true is a debateable matter, and I, myself, do not attach very great value to a policy of reduction on that ground; but there is another aspect of the question which I feel is of the utmost importance, and it has been very forcibly brought to my notice in connection with the work of which I have had experience. The more I study this question the more convinced I am that the evils of intemperance, the bad habits and demoralisation which are attendant upon the sale of drink in public-houses, can be to a large extent either increased or diminished by the character of the house in which the liquor is sold, and I believe that view is shared very largely by noble Lords on this side of the House, if I may judge by the reception given a few days ago to Lord Lamington's Bill, and also by the speech of the noble Marquess in moving his Amendment. I believe there is a strong desire on this side of the House to improve the public-house; but what I want to point out is this, that the number of public-houses has a very great influence indeed upon their character, and that the multiplication of public-houses has, in the main, a demoralising effect upon the character of the houses. If you have only one public house in any district you can trust to the good sense of those who use it to see that its reputation is kept up, that its 883 high character is preserved, and that a high standard of public opinion prevails within its walls. But as you multiply rivals to that public-house so you diminish its power of doing good, and you increase its power to do harm, and when you get a state of affairs in which public-houses jostle one another together in the same street, as we have got not only in all our towns, but in many country districts throughout the land, then there is a certainty that a great many of those houses are doing incalculable mischief.
I have had instances of this brought very forcibly to my notice in my own neighbourhood. There is a village quite close to my own home a small country village in which there are no less than thirteen public-houses. They stand side by side, and in one case three abreast in the same street. The result of this excessive competition is that the publicans finding it extremely difficult to make a livelihood at all under such circumstances, have been forced, for the purposes of creating and retaining a trade, to compete with one another in offering very large rates of interest upon the savings of working men deposited with them as a sort of savings bank. In the town of Hitchin there is a house belonging to the trust company of which I am chairman. It is situated in a back street, and from its door you can count six or eight other public-houses. How can it be supposed that it is of any use to spend time and effort and money upon raising the character of this one particular house, in trying to make it a good, respectable place which will meet the needs of the respectable element of the population, when all those who, if you succeed, will be shamed out of your house, have only to turn next door and go into one of the other houses which are crowded together in the same street? It is from this point of view that I consider the question of reduction to be of the utmost possible importance.
Over and over again I have seen the evils of this excessive competition, and I am not the least impressed by Home Office Memoranda or statistics which are brought forward to explain the great sobriety of districts which are well served with public-houses. From the point of view of reduction this Bill is undoubtedly 884 a great advance upon the existing law. It will accelerate the process, and that alone is a great gain to the cause of temperance. Moreover, the element of compulsion which is set up by this Bill will greatly strengthen the hands of the magistrates in fulfilling their duties. However much a local bench may be impressed with the value of a policy of reduction as a general principle they are faced with innumerable difficulties, technicalities and obstacles of one kind and another, when they come to consider which particular house they are to deal with. There is always some good reason why that particular house should be left, either it is structurally the best although badly managed, or else its management is excellent though it is an unsatisfactory building. It is not surprising that magistrates in a great many instances, resolve in despair to leave things as they are. The Bill will strengthen their hands in this particular matter by the element of compulsion which is provided, and it will give some assurance to those who believe in the value of this policy that, within a limited number of years, we shall have the public-houses of this country reduced to such a number as can effectively be controlled.
I come to the last principle in the Bill which is of the utmost value, and it is that, apart altogether from the question of redundant houses, it is desirable that the State should have the power—whether it exercised it or not will depend on the public opinion at any moment—to change, if it thinks fit, its whole policy in respect of licences. And since such a change of policy might entail either the extinction of licences in a particular neighbourhood or their transference from one set of holders to another, it is necessary that the State should give due notice of its intentions. That is the principle of what we call the time-limit, and Lord Rosebery was perfectly right when he said that that was the real question on which we were going to divide. This question of a time-limit, not the particular form it takes, not the number of years, but the fact of a time-limit at all, is the real root and essence of the whole matter. Those who vote for this Bill are going to vote for machinery 885 which will enable the present system, some day or another, under some condition or another, to be brought to an end. Those who are going to vote for the Amendment are going to vote for keeping the present system perpetually in existence. ["No."] Noble Lords may say "No," but I would like to point out that it is perfectly impossible, under existing circumstances, unless machinery be brought in to enable the present licensing system to be brought to an end, that any temperance experiment on a large scale can be tried at all.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
Certainly there may be another Bill, and I hope if this Bill is rejected that there will be another Bill; but what I want to point out is that without some time-limit machinery—I do not care in what Bill it is introduced—it is impossible for the present system to be brought to an end. Let me give you an example. I and my right rev. friend the Bishop of Chester are interested in the public-house trust experiment. Other temperance reformers have other experiments which they would like to see introduced, but I perfer to deal with the one in which I am interested myself. Supposing that he and I and others who are interested in that experiment were successful in proving to a particular local authority the desirability of substituting our plan for the plan which is in force to-day; supposing that we convinced them that the trust public-house is better than the tied house: however impressed the local authority might be with our arguments and with the desirability of the change which we advocated, it would be utterly impossible for them to do anything to help us. The ground is occupied; the tied house is already in possession, and unless we contemplate the possibility at some time or another of getting rid of the tied-house system it is idle to 886 talk about temperance reform at all. We are bound hand and foot in a way in which no other country is bound in this matter. There are private interests in the field, private interests so strong, so entrenched, that it is impossible to make room for any alternative system. We have got to get rid of these private interests, but we have got to get rid of them, I frankly admit, on equitable and fair terms. I think noble Lords will understand that on the question of compensation or of notice to be given, I, like the Bishop of London, have always insisted that I would consider any question of detail in that machinery. I do not care how many years we have to wait; I do not care what sum we have got to pay in compensation. What I do ask is that, whatever the price we have to pay, whatever the number of years we have to wait, let us, some day or another, bring to an end a system which is universally condemned as it is universally practised.
That is all I have to say on the Bill. I feel most deeply disappointed that we are not to have any opportunity of coming to close quarters with its details. If I thought that, even at this eleventh hour words of mine could have any effect on the situation, that it would be possible by compromise or negotiation for something out of this Bill to be saved, I would plead with the House as earnestly and with all the force that I could command that such compromise or negotiation should take place. But I feel it is too late for any words of mine to have such an effect. We are going to take leave of this Bill to-night. I do not agree with the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London that never again will this subject be taken up. I agree rather with the noble Lord on the cross benches that we are at the beginning of a long series of Bills and negotiations on the subject. I have stated the reasons which prevent me from following the noble Marquess into the lobby, and I can only conclude by asking him to believe that my course of action is not dictated by any feeling of disloyalty to him or by any distrust of the motives which have led him to take the course which he has recommended to the House. I know the noble Marquess is perfectly sincere in the views which he 887 holds and has recommended to the House, and if I cannot follow him, it is only because I differ from him conscientiously, but fundamentally, as to the effect the Bill is likely to have upon a cause to which I am deeply attached, and which I believe to be inseparably bound up with the welfare of this country.
My Lords, starting from precisely the same standpoint, the desire to see temperance extended, as the noble Earl who has just sat down, I should come to a diametrically opposite conclusion as to the effect of this Bill. I am even less concerned with the trade than he is. I have absolutely no interest in it whatever; I have never been concerned either myself or as a trustee with any interest in any public-houses or any brewery. I start from an absolutely impartial standpoint, and I have come to the conclusion diametrically opposite to the noble Earl who has just sat down. I do not think this Bill will secure those advantages which he thinks it is certain to secure. I am going to confine my remarks to two practical points, those of the monopoly value and of the tied-house system, because I cannot help thinking that many most worthy people, people for whom one must have the highest possible respect because they are actuated by the highest motives, are under a delusion in regard to the great advantages that they think the State is going to secure under this Bill as regards these two points. The noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, last night said that this Bill was so voluminous, it raised so many principles, that he doubted whether many members of the Government on the front bench understood the whole of it. If that is true of members of the Government, is it not highly probable that there are a considerable proportion of those outside who call so loudly for the Bill who are quite as ignorant? What I venture to say is that upon those two points the advantages anticipated from this Bill will not be secured.
Let me ask you to cast your minds forward to the end of the seven years after the reduction period when the State has got to decide how these houses are to be managed—the 60,000 left. I challenge entirely the allegation that the State has parted with something ex- 888 tremely valuable. The State has always had within its power the right of taxing a house up to its full value. It has not done so, for very good reasons I have no doubt. What it has parted with is the reasonable expectation of continuity. That is all it has given away, and that is what has induced such an offer as the £18,000 to which the noble Earl on the cross benches referred last night. It was the expectation of continuity that has induced people to give these large sums for licences. But this Bill lays down that the licence is to be for only one year, and who is going to give a large sum for monopoly value for a year? The State is not going to make a great gain by a system of that kind, and I am very much afraid that the public, the population, are not going to gain very much as regards the character of the men who are going into the houses. What is going to be the temptation to a respectable man to go into this class of business when he has only a reasonable expectation of being left in the house for one year? And local option may do away with his home within the twelve months for which he has got the licence. What tempted respectable men to go into this business before, and what tempted people to give high prices for the licences, was the reasonable expectation that besides the business they had got a home in which they and their families were safe for a certain number of years. You are taking that away. By this Bill a man may be turned out of his home within a year.
As regards the tied-house system the noble Earl below me believes that that system will be done away with by this Bill. I am pretty sure that it will not. Who is going to pay for these not very valuable rights in the future—rights that may be taken away at any moment? I should think it is extremely probable that whoever gets the licence will be either a brewer himself or under an arrangement with a brewer for selling that particular brewer's beer. I do not see anything whatever in the Act which is likely to prevent the tied-house system going on, and in urban areas I confess I do not see very much harm about that system. My experience, both from administering Licensing Acts and from what I hear, is that the public is a very good 889 judge of what is good beer and they go to the house which sells good beer, and if a publican is selling bad beer his house falls off in trade. My opinion is that at the end of twenty-one years under this Act the more powerful brewers will make arrangements amongst themselves what they shall hold and will arrange with the licensee of each house that he shall take their liquor. I am very much afraid the effect will be trusts such as our cousins in America are now trying to extirpate—a concentration of capital, a concentration of power in the hands of certain brewers. If that is the result the power of the trade will certainly not be diminished.
I have had to administer the Act of 1904, and I do not know that I have come to quite the same conclusion as the noble Earl below me as to what it is that makes a public-house successful. I have had cases before me which have led to the conclusion that it has more to do with the popularity of the owner than with the comfort of the house. I have had cases of houses which have been condemned by the licensing committees because they were inadequate for the proper comfort of the public, but the business done by those houses has far surpassed that of many superior houses in the neighbourhood, and I attribute it, and it is attributed by those who have had long experience, simply to the popularity of the man. I cannot quite follow my noble friend's exposition of the method of calculating the compensation under the present system. He submitted that it was upon the value of the house and not as a part of the business. The valuation at present is based upon barrelling. That is part of the business, and it is upon the business done that the value of the house is now estimated.
Apart from holding the objection already raised as to the injustice of the resumption clause, I do not believe that this Act at the end of the twenty-one years is going to produce the practical result which many who sympathise with it believe. If temperance is really the object of the party opposite—I do not question that it is—I venture to suggest to them that there are other ways of securing more rapid reduction of the opportunities for excessive drinking. By 890 the passage of this Bill such reduction would be remarkably slow. In my own experience as chairman of Quarter Sessions, I have come to the conclusion that the business of houses in places where houses have already been delicensed undoubtedly goes up, that the houses that remain are doing a bigger business because some of the customers of the old houses are coming to them. The customers of the extinguished houses go to the other houses.
Both the right rev. Primate and the right rev. the Bishop of Hereford expressed a wish that some counteracting inducements could be put in the way of people other than the public-house. I think it was the Bishop of Birmingham who said he had often seen abroad whole families enjoying beer, or coffee, or lemonade, and he said he asked himself why we cannot have that sort of thing in England. There is nothing to prevent our having it in England if the State will assist in the establishment of such places. Attempts are made now to set up counter-attractions in the shape of teahouses, but the competition is so great that it is almost too much for private finance. If you want to set up a place which will take away from the public-house a large number of those people who frequent it now, it must be with the assistance of the State, because otherwise the competition is too great. Such places would undoubtedly attract away from the public-house many people who are now compelled to go there, not because they want to drink, but because it is the only house open to the public, where a person can find shelter and warmth and food. I venture to suggest that as a far more rapid way of securing temperance than anything that would be secured by this Bill. I cordially agree with the Amendment, because I cannot help thinking that parts of this Bill are due to vindictiveness, and I am sure that some parts of it are not strictly just to those who have been induced by the action of the State to invest their money in this particular business.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
My Lords, I have been deeply interested in the speech of Lord Lytton, who has a peculiar experience of temperance reform, 891 and has not been afraid to put his principles into practice. That speech was the first which, in my opinion, has endeavoured to show what measures of temperance there are in the Bill. But what measures has the noble Lord discovered? I do not think that throughout his speech Lord Lytton singled out for commendation a single temperance measure of the Bill which could be described as one of its main features. He singled out for commendation provisions in Part 3, and he expressed a desire for certain Amendments of the Act of 1904 and of the state of the law as regards the Kennedy judgment, whilst he insisted upon the right of the State to change its system if it thought fit. None of these are the main principles of the present Bill. The main principles of the Bill are not concerned with Part 3, nor with Amendments of the 1904 Act, nor indeed, can we say with truth that the reduction of licences is in itself the main feature. The reduction of licences by statute is a principle which was established in the Act of 1904. The main features of this Bill are the means by which these results are sought to be attained, and against those methods the noble Earl, so far as I understood him, was as loud in protest as any Member of your Lordships' House.
What has been the conduct of His Majesty's Government as regards the Bill in this House, and how have they explained its temperance provisions or endeavoured to meet the wishes and aspirations of genuine temperance reformers in this matter? We have heard many able speeches upon the Bill, but none more able than that of the noble Lord, Viscount St. Aldwyn, who expressed warm approbation, for instance, of Part 3 of the measure. The House has heard many speeches from the right rev. bench and others expressing strong approbation of many parts of the Bill, whilst finding considerable fault with various radical principles in it. The House has heard expressions from many quarters of a real and genuine desire for temperance reform, a desire which this House has also shown, by its past history. By the Bill which it passed in 1902, by the measure which it sanctioned in 1904, it has shown no mere lip-service to tem- 892 perance reform, but a genuine desire to pass any well-considered and just measure.
But when the Government are asked to give some sort of indication in what way they would meet temperance reformers if they desired to make some Amendments to this Bill, they show that their zeal for temperance is not so great as their zeal for the confiscatory principles of this Bill. They have given no indication as to how they would be ready to meet the genuine desires of those who are strongly in favour of temperance reform and yet are opposed to some of the main confiscatory principles of the Bill. Does not the silence or immobility of the front bench justify the views of those who did not anticipate that the Government would in any way meet the legitimate desires to amend the Bill, and does it not indicate that those who proceeded to move Amendments in Committee would have met with no sympathy or consideration from the Government? The Earl of Lytton was desirous of giving the Bill a Second Reading, because he saw in it some principles making for real temperance reform. I do not share the noble Lord's views that the House could deal with the Bill in any way it thought fit in Committee. There is hardly an Amendment that I would wish to move to the Bill—and there are many such Amendments—which would not at once be met by the question of the financial relations between the two Houses. In view of past experience what reason have we for believing we should receive consideration in the matter? For the reason, if for no other, that we are unable to deal with the Bill as we think fit in Committee, I, for one, am obliged to vote against the Second Reading. I regard the main principles of this Bill as more than Committee points. There is the proposition to impose a time-limit running concurrently with a levy upon the trade. The noble Earl talked of being ready to pay as much compensation as you like in order to change the conditions of this trade. But the compensation comes out of the pockets of the trade itself, and I venture to think his generosity was somewhat misplaced. The proposition as it stands 893 can only be described as an insurance by certain members of the trade against the abolition of the houses. What the Bill really proposes is a raid upon the insurance fund established under the guarantee of Parliament in 1904, and a paid made at a time when the matter is further complicated by the chance of the loss of a licence through local option, and when the conditions of compensation are grievously spoilt by the new system of lumping together all compensation moneys, and by the feature which now appears in all Government Bills—that of a Department in Whitehall assuming control. Another feature which I cannot regard as a Committee point is the proposed change of the basis of compensation. It is a point which would be difficult to amend without coming into conflict with financial questions. It is not a Committee point, because it is one of the first principles in the Bill.
I would ask your Lordships to consider the way in which the Government met this point when it was put. It has been pointed out to them in debate and on other occasions that this new compensation scale would work intolerable hardship in a number of cases. How was that met? There was no attempt to prove that in those particular cases hardship would not arise, but it was said, "Yes; it is true the compensation will not be equal to the expenditure, but you must remember that the property was purchased at a time when it was well known there would be licensing proposals by the Government and when the speeches of Sir Thomas Whittaker and others were being heard all over the country, and people were very great fools to give so large a price when they knew the Liberal Government were to come into power." On that basis it would be possible for the State in future to take away any property at an unfair valuation. The House is familiar with the speeches by Mr. Snowden, and other Gentlemen who agree with him. There are Members of this House who have invested money in land and other forms of property. If at some future time there should exist a desire to deal with property other than licences on a similar basis to that proposed in this Bill, then we should be told that we were great fools to have paid the price for what we 894 have purchased when, according to the speeches of Mr. Snowden and others, our property was to have no value at all in the future.
That is what the Government are doing in this Bill. Their scale of compensation works intolerable hardships upon certain people who bought their property in the open market in many cases not many years ago, and who will receive a bare pittance as compensation. They are told that they ought not to have bought it at such prices because Gentlemen were making speeches at the time which showed they could not expect to get those prices owing to future Government legislation. Principles of that kind in the Bill make it impossible for me to vote for the Second Reading. We have had no answer from the Government as to their willingness to see passed into law those parts of the Bill which can be described as non-contentious, and which certainly would command the adherence of all real temperance reformers. In default of any indication on the part of the Government to deal with those parts of the Bill, I, for one, am forced to vote against those first principles to which they obstinately adhere and which I conceive to do so great wrong to the individual. I, for one, would sooner this matter ended upon Second Reading; and I would rather see this question decided by your Lordships taking a stand in favour of the rights of the individual than by their having in the future to take a stand upon the rights of this House to introduce financial Amendments.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY (Lord FITZMAURICE)
My Lords, I have more than once during the debate been inclined to think that the proper preface to it would have been that we should have asked the Clerk at the Table to read the Burial Service. The two principal speeches in opposition to the Bill might have been followed up by the familiar line, "I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him." We on this side of the House feel that our task—always difficult on such occasions as this— is one of peculiar difficulty, for we are arguing on an issue decided some days ago outside this House. At least we shall agree that you are giving to the 895 Bill a first class funeral. You have assembled, I will not say a great number of mourners, but a large crowd, to attend the funeral. A great number of noble Lords have arrived who have not often honoured us with their presence. I can only hope that they have been carefully shepherded, and that none of them lost their way or will lose their way. That is not altogether an idle fear. I am an old Member of the House of Commons, and I remember an incident which I did not actually see, but which I heard of, and which, I think, some of your Lordships heard of. In 1869, when the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill came up before your Lordships' House, there was an occasion very like this when an enormous number of Peers were sent for by the late Lord Derby, to come and bury the Bill of Mr. Gladstone in this House. Lord Derby up to that time, or very nearly so, had had the power of carrying the Peers in his pocket, if I may say so, because he had had their proxies. But proxies had been abolished two years before and the result was that the Peers had to come personally if they intended to record their votes. One July afternoon a venerable person, slightly agricultural rather than political in appearance was observed sitting on the front bench below the gangway amongst the Members of the House of Commons. There had recently been a bye-election, and the Members of the House of Commons not unnaturally thought that this was the new Radical Member, but after a few moments the gentleman turned round to his neighbour and said: "Is this the House of Lords?" They said: "No, this is the House of Commons." It appeared he was a man, no doubt of fame and distinction in his own county, but who, up to that time, had always given his proxy to Lord Derby, and when he got into the central lobby, took the turning to the left instead of the turning to the right. Although he was a person of very Conservative opinions he was taken to be the new Radical Member and sat down below the gangway, whence, he was ejected, and made, not with shame to take a lower room, but with all dignity to take a seat in the Upper House.
896 I cannot help thinking on this occasion that we have a g eat number of noble Lords here who may have been seen walking about in the streets of the City, but have not very frequently attended your Lordships' debates, and we are going to be "snowed under," if I may use that expression, by this tremendous invasion Against that we feel that argument struggles in vain. But this is not one of the occasions, such as have happened no doubt frequently in this House, where we feel, not only that our numbers are few, but that we have had to acknowledge the great force and powers of that formidable front bench opposite upon which are ranged so many men of great eminence and experience in politics and in law, and who generally receive the support of the whole of their party and also, as a rule, that of the right rev. Prelates. I ask any impartial man who has sat in this debate, and has listened from first to last, where the weight of argument has been on this occasion, and where the views, the intelligent views, of the country have been? We have heard speech after speech from both sides of the House—one just now of notable ability from the noble Lord below the gangway—Lord Lytton. We have heard speech after speech from Peers who differ from us as a rule, from right rev. Prelates who are nearly always found in the opposite lobby to us, and they have said with striking unanimity and convincing argument that they consider a Second Reading ought to be given to this Bill. The debate has ranged over an enormous field. It was stated in the House of Commons by the late Prime Minister that one round in his indictment against this Bill was that it was not one Bill, but six Bills. My Lords, we defend it because it is six Bills, and not one Bill. We defend it because it is a great measure of temperance reform which attacks the problem, not at one corner, but along the whole line, and if I may say so, upon every head, And therefore, if anybody, even the late Prime Minister, likes to try to injure it by saying that this is a Bill of six articles, all I can say is I do not object to that description.
But the main point which we have to consider on the Second Reading debate is whether there is, even under the six 897 heads of the Bill, one great underlying principle upon which we can ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading. The answer to that was given in a speech yesterday, which I am sure will be widely read in the country, because all his speeches are, and will produce an even greater effect than is usual, great as that effect always is. I mean the speech of my noble friend Lord Rosebery when he pointed out that there was in this Bill the great underlying principle of the time-limit, and that it was according as you approved or disapproved of having a time-limit that you ought to record your vote, for or against this Bill That is the argument which I venture again this evening to submit to your Lordships. Though I am told there is no hope of compromise, and that no negotiations are going on, until the noble Lord on the Woolsack is handed the figures I shall not believe that this House has rejected a great measure of temperance reform.
We have had the usual arguments, and we have heard the usual cry about oppression and injustice and hardship. I hope I shall never be found on any occasion deaf to the appeals of those who consider they are being treated with hardship or injustice in pecuniary matters, but I have always felt that in regard to this, question there is no class that comes before Parliament which has so bad a prima facie case, when it raises the cry about financial oppression and injustice, as that which is interested in the sale of alcoholic liquors. We know that during the last year or two there has been a marked fall in the value of brewery shares; we know that for many years before there was a period of great and abounding prosperity, that enormous fortunes were made, and that the wealth of the great brewing industry of this country is second only to that great development of wealth which has been the result of the discovery of gold in South Africa. It is a common joke in London to say that the frontage of Park Lane, which is considered a sort of final test of respectability, is divided between wealthy brewers and South African millionaires. South African millionaires have never asked for compensation. Why during the last twenty years has not this great and wealthy interest insured itself 898 against financial danger, seeing that since the case of Sharpe v. Wakefield at any rate, full notice has been received by the brewing and public-house industry of this country that there was great danger looming in the distance and gradually approaching nearer. As a matter of fact it would be untrue to say that the idea of insurance never did occur to them because it is perfectly well-known that a few years age a company was actually started and a circular issued with a view of forming an insurance business against the possible loss of licences under a change of circumstances, including a change of law. But as a matter of fact, the liquor interest, the brewing interest of this country, preferred the chance of being well entrenched in Parliament and making themselves, as Lord Rosebery said, as powerful, if not more powerful, than the law, rather than to resort, as they ought to have done years ago, to those ordinary methods of finance which every man of business resorts to if he has a property of possibly deteriorating character.
Do we fully realise the enormous power and privileges of this interest? I am not attacking them for having this property; they are just as well entitled to their great property as anybody else is to his small property. But why did they not years ago insure themselves against risk and against loss? They are specially favoured in many respects by the law. The licence duties in this country are extremely low. It is a commonplace that probably a large revenue could be extracted in aid of our taxes by a rise of the licence duties. The late Mr. Childers told me that he believed Mr. Gladstone, if he had succeeded in abolishing the income-tax in 1874, had intended to get the revenue he would have lost in that way. It is not only in regard to licence duties that the trade is in an extraordinarily favoured position. It has been acknowledged in these debates in both Houses of Parliament that in regard to rating, owing to the intricacies of our law of rating and to the enormous power which the liquor interest has owing to its wealth to carry every case to a Court of Appeal, they enjoy extraordinary privileges and are in an extra ordinary position. I think one of the clauses in this Bill which I specially 899 recommend to the favourable attention of your Lordships is that which will do a great deal to induce the owners of licensed property themselves to be willing to go more thoroughly into the question of valuation, and to see if their property is properly assessed, because although they may lose in one way they will gain in another way, for the valuation comes in on the question of compensation.
It is true that these favours exist, but why? Because, I believe, it was recognised that although this was a great and powerful interest yet it was essentially a precarious one, because it rested upon an annual licence duty. You cannot have it both ways; you cannot claim that the licence which is only an annual interest shall be raised into something far higher, and shall receive protection from the law for a considerable period, or shall be treated as property in the full sense of the term, and that at the same time all these privileges which have gradually accumulated around the licensed interest because it is a precarious interest shall be continued. For that reason this Bill proposes to place the whole of these matters upon a business footing. It recognises the position of the licence-holder, not, indeed, as the owner of a freehold estate or property, but it recognises that he has an interest. It secures that interest for a certain number of years, it hedges it about with a contribution to a compensation fund, and at the same time holds out inducements, which, no doubt, a Valuation Bill will secure more fully in a short time, to holders of that class of property to get their property at its proper value on to the rate-book.
The whole, no doubt, of these arrangements will be placed under the control of the Commission. I have heard the cry raised, and it was echoed yesterday by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, that this Commission is, and will be, a great engine of power and oppression. We have heard about the slight placed upon local authorities, and how there would be three Commissioners sitting in London disposing of the rights and property and liberties of the people of this land in regard to liquor, and we were told that the drinking of beer was part of the 900 common law of England. That is a great addition to the law which was made by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and I have no doubt will be chronicled with his judgments. But this cry' about Commissions is an old cry. We have heard it before. Anybody who knows anything; of the political history of this country remembers the cry that was raised against the India Bill of Mr. Fox. Why was that cry raised? Why was it that Bill was side-tracked in your Lordships' House? It was very largely because of the cry raised against the Commissioners. It was said the whole of the property and liberties and rights of the people of India, and everybody in England who was interested in India, would be placed at the disposal of three Commissioners, appointed by a Liberal Government, and so great was the indignation raised against that proposal that the Bill, as we all know, was got rid of in your Lordships' House, and one of the greatest political changes took place that this country has ever known, because it altered the course of events in this country for fifty years.
What happened in that case? A short time after the Commission had been got rid of, the Board of Control was invented, but wicked people who examined the powers and duties of that Board, which nobody in particular objected to, very soon saw that it washing reality only the old Commission dressed up again, and that the powers did not differ in any material particular. The old cry had done its duty and was forgotten. The same cry was raised in your Lordships' House against the Poor Law Commission. That Commission was one of the most powerful bodies ever invented by law, and when the measure setting it up came to your Lordships' House after a great and prolonged struggle in the House of Commons, attempts were made to get rid of it here by precisely the same arguments as those which fell from Lord Halsbury, and I believe it is the undoubted fact that if the Liberal Government of the time had not received the support of the great Duke of Wellington, that Commission Would probably never have struggled into being. Therefore, I brush aside as entirely irrelevant all this alarm which is attempted to be raised in regard to the Commission.
901 We are also told—and this is, I think, the most extraordinary thing that has been said in this debate—that we have not got the full weight of evidence in support of our proposal for the limitation of licences. Why, my Lords, that was the one thing on which the Majority and Minority Reports of Lord Peel's Commission agreed. The Commission disagreed upon a great number of things, but they were practically unanimous on this, that the increase of temptation to drink was the cause of increased drunkenness. Those interested in social questions, in whatever capacity have long since come to that conclusion, and Judges and chairmen of Quarter Sessions have over and over again, in charges to Grand Juries, expressed the same opinion. When, as a young man, I was one of the managers of an industrial school in London, with which I am still connected, I remember noticing the haggard appearance of some children who had recently been admitted, and the doctor said to me: "What can you expect of children brought up upon a regime of gin and sprats?" I have never forgotten the expression. They were children of the very poorest class, who had spent the whole of their lives in quarters of London amongst a class of whose existence I daresay some persons are hardly aware. I know myself that though I did believe at one time that I had seen some of the slums in London, I never realised the terrible elect of drink among the poorest classes of London until I was taken through some of the East End slums by a Cambridge friend who had taken up a curacy in that part. It is those places that you must visit if you want to see the effect of the drink traffic in full horror. Right rev. Prelates have worked among the crowded populations of our great towns and know that there is the heart of the evil; but from some of the speeches made during the debate it is evident that among many leading men there is, not perhaps unnaturally, a great want of appreciation of what the drink traffic and the drink problem really is.
I listened with great interest to what fell from noble Lords opposite in regard to the question of vested interests. We 902 were reminded of the extreme care with which Parliament had treated those officers of the Army who were deprived of advantages by the passing of Lord Cardwell's Act, advantages they had purchased and for which they had paid lawful prices and also further prices not recognised under the law. It is perfectly true—nobody has disputed it —that they were compensated, but there was a great deal of controversy over the surplus price, and I do not feel at all certain in more recent circumstances that Parliament would allow itself to be so easily persuaded to make the payments that were then sanctioned. I remember a speech by Sir George Grey in opposition to the payment. Sir George Grey had as unrivalled an authority on home affairs as his successor Sir Edward Grey now has on foreign affairs; and it is well known that he did the whole of the home work in Lord Palmerston's Cabinet. Sir George Grey made a speech against giving the surplus price to those officers. We have been reminded also of Mr. Gladstone's action in regard to the Ulster custom of tenant right. I venture to say that in recognising the interest of licence holders the Government are following those precedents, and upon those precedents we defend ourselves against the demand of extreme critics on our own side — that licence-holders should be treated as having a merely annual, or ephemeral, interest.
I at one moment thought of addressing myself to the very able arguments, if I may be allowed to say so, that were addressed to the House by the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, in regard to the compensation clauses in the Bill. By the compensation clauses I mean, not merely the actual sum which any individual licence-holder may receive, but the whole of that subject which falls under the head of the basis of compensation, the distribution of compensation, the period of time—which, as Lord Rosebery pointed out, is really the root of the matter—and the question as to what is to happen with monopoly value both during the compensation period and after. But the clear and lucid statement which your Lordships have heard this afternoon from the noble Earl, Lord 903 Lytton, has made this to a great extent unnecessary, and I certainly shall not attempt to take up your time or spoil the noble Earl's arguments by repeating them. The noble Earl went over the ground with perfect knowledge of the facts and the law, and he has stated our case as well as we could possibly have desired it to be stated. Therefore I will not add anything to that part of the case.
But when we are told that we are introducing a new principle in regard to compensation by excluding brewers' profits, and thereby practically reversing the Kennedy judgment, I would venture to remind the noble and learned Earl, Lord Halsbury, of what was said by leading members of the late Government in discussions of the Act of 1904. The Home Secretary said—Compensation was given in respect of on licences, not on the loss of business profits but on depreciation of the premises arising from the fact that the extinction of the licence prevented the house from being used for the purpose for which it was most adapted.The Solicitor-General said—What was estimated was the depreciation of the property, and that was the whole basis and foundation of the Bill. It was said that the bulk of the compensation would go to the owners, who in many cases were brewers. He totally and absolutely denied it.One of the greatest authorities in the House of Commons at that time on the law of licensing, Mr. (now Sir) Charles Cripps, said exactly the same thing, and he is a very independent supporter of the Government, as we all know from the events of the last few days. My blood was curdled yesterday by a placard which I saw, and by the offer to me of a newspaper which the news vendor alleged contained the news of the resignation of the Government. I had not heard of the resignation myself and I bought a paper, to find that it was not the resignation of the Government nor of an individual member of the Government, but the resignation of the Vicar-General of the Province of Canterbury. I found that Sir Charles Cripps had resigned, not in consequence of the Licensing Bill, but in consequence of the Education Bill, thereby showing that on occasion he is quite able to assert his independence of his political friends. But with regard to this Bill, he came 904 forward and gave the support of his known authority on licensing to the Government. I its him now as an independent witness. How can it be said, whatever may be the rights and wrongs of the question, that we are departing from the intention of Parliament when we are proceeding on the lines of the Act of 1904?
I am willing, however, to grant that this is a topic upon which reasonable men may differ, and agree to differ; it is mixed with questions of rating and valuation, and surely the proper course is to settle such matters in Committee and not in a Second Reading debate. Let me remind your Lordships of what fell from the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn. He said he would have preferred a market value basis, and he gave four heads under which value might be computed. Among those he mentioned a sum to represent what may be called the goodwill for which, he said, the brewer was entitled to some compensation, less than the Kennedy judgment gave him, more than the Bill proposes to give him. Such points are matters of detail and proper for consideration in Committee. The noble Viscount, proceeding with his indictment, said it was a monstrous thing that at the end of the period of twenty-one years, or whatever the period may be, the publican who had paid into the compensation fund should be treated as the holder of a new on-licence and run the risk of losing his licence altogether, or, at all events, if he got it, of having to pay the monopoly value, subject again to the risks of local option and the caprice of the magistrates. But can it be worth while to throw out this Bill on Second Reading merely because you think that an injustice may be done by one of the clauses twenty-one years hence? That is contrary to the rule of common sense and to every custom of debate.
It is said that the Government will not listen to Amendments. We have never said anything of the kind. No Government in its senses, and especially a Government in a minority in your Lordships' House, would say they would not listen to Amendments. What we want to see are the Amendments placed on the Paper. We all speak with the highest 905 respect of the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, a man of immense experience not only in Imperial but in all local affairs concerned with rating, valuation, and assessment. There is absolutely nobody, by universal consent, in either House of Parliament more able to frame Amendments and to explain them; and I am quite certain I can say for the Government that we had hoped, from the tone of most of the speech of the noble Viscount, that he was going to support us on the Second Reading, reserving to himself full liberty to put down and press Amendments touching the points of the measure with which he did not agree. But, unfortunately, the noble Viscount took up a different position at the conclusion of his speech, and he will be found in the great and serried Tanks which are about to give the Bill its death blow in the lobbies.
Even at the eleventh hour I would ask: Are we to lose this great opportunity? Do noble Lords opposite really think that this debate will not be read, marked, learnt, and inwardly digested throughout the whole country? Do they think that no effect will be produced upon the mind of the ordinary British citizen when he finds that an independent Peer who has been Prime Minister of this country, the noble Earl who sits on the cross benches; when he finds that the most rev. Primate, the natural mouthpiece of the Church of which noble Lords opposite are, I fancy, stronger supporters than many of us on this side; when he finds that a noble Lord of such great administrative experiences as Lord Balfour—when he finds that these noble Lords record their vote with us and that other independent Peers leave the House? I do not believe that the ordinary Unionist voter who recognises Mr. Balfour as his Leader has any desire to see this country governed by a revival of something very like the old Tory Party which governed, or rather misgoverned, this country for fifteen years after the Battle of Waterloo. The party opposite is rapidly shedding, one by one, all those independent elements which gave it force. Tariff reform has taken many away. The benches opposite are full of independent Peers who no longer habitually support the front bench; and it appears to me that the front bench are gradually resolving themselves 906 into something like the old Tory Guard, and that their real Leader is the noble and learned Earl who until recently sat upon the Woolsack. Yes, my Lords, we are celebrating a funeral. The motto of this debate, as I have said, was struck in its opening speeches—I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.But may I remind your Lordships that in the same speech from which that familiar quotation is taken there is another line equally famous—The evil which men do lives after them.Yes:—I fear, my Lords, that when the result of these events comes to be written by the future historian the vote of to-night, killing this great measure of licensing and temperance reform, will not be accounted to your Lordships' House for righteousness.
THE EARL OF MEATH
My Lords, so many years of my life have been spent in combating the evils of intemperance that it is with the greatest regret that I find myself unable to give my vote in favour of this Bill. And why? Not that I am not alive, deeply alive, to all the evils, social and national, which are brought upon this country by intemperance. I am as well aware as the noble Lord who has just spoken of the terrible results of drink, but, at the same time, I cannot in my conscience say that this is a Bill which only considers the question of temperance.
There is, to my mind, no small amount of injustice in this Bill, and I for one will never allow my vote to be given for good in one direction if it brings evils in another. Already in this debate a famous saying by Archbishop Magee has been quoted. I am not going to repeat it, but will paraphrase it. If I were asked whether I would wish this country to be either sober or honest I would certainly reply, without hesitation, that I would rather see it honest. The difference between us is not, as the noble Lord has put it, that on the one side we wish to uphold and support a certain trade, and that on the other it is desired to get rid of intemperance. We both desire to get rid of intemperance; it is only a question of method. We wish that temperance should be advanced and that justice should be done, but we are not—at least 907 I am not—going to separate the one from the other. Is this a just and well-considered measure? If it could be proved to be such I should be the first to give it my most earnest support, but I cannot honestly say that it is. Its glaring faults have already been eloquently described, faults of omission as well as of commission. I do not profess to possess an abnormal sense of justice or of virtue, but I cannot subordinate the sense I have. I believe honestly that this is not a just and honest Bill. I give full credit to those who recognise merits in the Bill—I myself recognise many—but I deny that it covers the whole ground of temperance, and I certainly do not consider that it is a Bill which should be passed at this day. We who oppose the Bill have been asked why we do not pass the Second Reading, go into Committee, and move Amendments. That we would be willing to do if we saw the smallest chance of our Amendments being accepted. It is well known that most of those Amendments would be of a financial character, and if we had once passed the Second Reading we should be in the position of having approved the principle of the Bill, and then of having our Amendments flung in our faces because, forsooth, it would be said that they touched the privileges of the House of Commons. The choice, therefore, is a Hobson's choice. We have no chance whatever of passing Amendments. Therefore we can only reject the Bill in the hope that at some future date we shall have a Bill which will not offend our consciences.
Although I am afraid this Bill will be rejected, is it not possible for the two parties to come together, as they have on the Education Bill, and come to some compromise? There are large numbers of us who believe that there are many points in this Bill which would meet the views of all moderate men, and I hope that something of that sort will be done. I am glad to observe that Lord Monkswell has done his best to try and save some portion of the wreckage of this Bill by proposing that Clause 21, dealing with the exclusion of children from bars of licensed houses, should be incorporated in the Children Bill, which comes before your Lordships on Monday. Personally I should be very glad if some other portions of the 908 Bill could in the same way be incorporated in another measure. In my opinion the spirit of political vindictiveness is so apparent in this Bill that your Lordships will be amply justified in throwing it out on Second Reading, even though it should come in the specious guise of a professing intention of considering the noble and great question of temperance.
§ EARL CAWDOR
My Lords, no one can rise to address your Lordships on this most important question without feeling strongly the wish that we were discussing a measure of temperance to which we could all give our adhesion and our vote. None of us can but feel the great evils of the drink problem and its great difficulties, and we note, and note with sympathy, how strongly those who know most of the evils of this traffic speak of it in your Lordships' House. No one can realise as well as those who live in every day communication with the working classes in the largest of our towns, how great that evil is.
I was a little sorry that my noble friend who spoke last from the front Ministerial bench should have thought it incumbent upon him to try and lay down that we upon this side of the House had not as closely at heart the true interests of the temperance question as noble Lords opposite. I decline to hold any opinion of that kind. Both sides of the House are, I am convinced, animated with the same wish. We only differ, though we differ strongly, as to the remedy which should be applied to the disease. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Duchy dethroned my noble leader and put in his place the noble and learned Earl who until recently sat upon the Woolsack. I was not aware that the leadership of our party had been so changed. I have always recognised, and I think I recognise still, as one of the most loyal followers and colleagues of the noble Marquess, the late Lord Chancellor. But we do not mind the noble Lord amusing himself with a little banter at our expense. When we consider this great question we cannot avoid feeling that there are two aspects in which it is regarded. I think that was pointed to, to some 909 extent, by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. The right rev. Prelate referred to two ways in which these matters were considered—one, I think he said, was more the aspect of sentiment and the other more the aspect of reason. I have the greatest sympathy with the sentiments which guide most people with regard to this great question, but I think we must guard ourselves strongly against one thing. Let our hearts beat in sympathy with all these troubles, but our heads must not be dominated and over-ruled by our hearts.
We are often told, as we were to-night by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Duchy, that we on this side have not at heart the interests of true licensing reform. Does the noble Lord quite forget the Act of 1902, an Act of which hardly anything has been said in the debates on this subject? That Act dealt, I think almost for the first time, if not absolutely for the first time, with the ordinary drunkard. It was the first time that Parliament provided for the apprehension of a man for being drunk when the drinking was unaccompanied by violence. That was a step in advance in dealing with the drunkard. The Act of 1902 also dealt with the record of convictions of drunken persons, and gave control to the justices over the structures of licensed premises. There has been some criticism as to those powers not being sufficient, but that was the first time that these powers were given to justices at all. We had, further, in that same Act the registration of clubs.
Then let me pass from the Act of 1902 to the Act of 1904. In that Act we provided for a reduction of licences, and for the levy upon licence-holders for compensation in respect of licences that were abolished. It is really difficult, looking to these two Acts and to the points which they touch, in certain cases for the first time, to say that the authors of them and those who supported them, were not in sympathy with true temperance reform. The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, in the course of his interesting and able speech this afternoon, criticised a good deal the Act of 1904. I do not propose to follow him at length into his. 910 criticisms. I think the noble Earl was hardly fair to that Act, for he seemed to put upon it all the deficiencies of the licensing system up to the present time. That Act may have its faults and shortcomings, but it certainly made a large stride in the direction in which licensing; reform appears to be tending to-day. I do not propose to go closely into the actual figures of reduction, but I think I am entitled to claim that, in the matter of reduction, the Act made a considerable advance upon what was the case before, and this reduction has been carried out by the local authorities, with knowledge of the districts over which they had control, at the cost of the trade and to the injury of nobody. Fault has been found, of course, that the Act is not going fast enough. There seems to be a great hurry in legislative matters just now. Surely you had better leave an Act which is working fairly well to work a little longer before you absolutely condemn it for not going fast enough. There would be no difficulty in quickening its steps hereafter if it is really found to be going too slow.
I wish to say a word or two with regard to the allegation of slowness in the working of this Act. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, in the eloquent speech which he made in this debate, stated that under the Act of 1904 30,000 licences could not, in his opinion, possibly be extinguished in under 100 years. An answer to that statement is to be found is what has been done in the county of Lancashire. In that county the licensing committee took this question up in 1905, and went to great trouble to ascertain what the reasonable requirements of the various districts were and the total number of licences which might ultimately be reduced. They held a personal inspection of the county accompanied by the police, and after going into the whole question with great carefulness, they gave it as their opinion that out of 4,080 licences. 763 should be reduced. Reduction has been going on up to the present time, and the Lancashire Licensing Committee expressed the opinion that all licences in. their area which are redundant could be abolished, under the present law, within fifteen years of the present time.
911 I now turn to this Bill. After the many able speeches to which your Lordships have listened I am not going to detain you by going through the whole of the Bill. I think we may take as its foundation the time-limit, and bound up with the time-limit is what we consider inadequate compensation. This compensation is to be paid by a levy, and those who pay the levy are, instead of gaining some advantage in the future for paying it, to pay it and get no advantage from the payment whatever. Then, my Lords, after the time-limit we find the existing licence holder placed in exactly the same position as the new applicant. You are going to tax the existing licence-holder on the assumption, I presume, that he is paying for a something of value. But that something you propose to make worthless; you put him in competition with the new applicant who comes with capital at his command, with no capital invested in the trade, and absolutely free to accept the terms or to walk away unharmed. I can conceive nothing more unjust than that.
Then behind all this, local option looms up in the future. If local option is such an excellent thing, why do not His Majesty's Government tackle it and make use of it at once? They let it slide. They propose to inflict upon a generation twenty or twenty-one years hence the local option which they do not wish to have to-day. I should have thought the generation to come might have taken care of itself, and been allowed to say whether or not it would have local option. The main idea of this Bill appears to be that there is to be a great quickening' in the reduction of licensed houses. How is that to be brought about? It is to be brought about, first of all, by setting aside the local authority and putting in its place a Commission with no local knowledge of any sort or kind, and it is to be pushed ahead by a rigid rule laid down in a Schedule as to the reductions that are to take place. I shall be told that is not absolutely correct. I admit that, so far as the Schedule of reductions is concerned, there is a discretion in the Bill. But it is impossible to suppose that any very great stress is to be laid upon the discretion in the note to the Schedule, and for this reason—if you once begin to tamper to any extent with the rules laid 912 down in the Schedule you will absolutely destroy the Schedule altogether. I am afraid the calculations have not been sufficiently carefully made, or His Majesty's Government would have found that the computation in the Second Schedule is not at all accurate or at all a possible calculation upon which you can work. I repeat that if you begin to tamper with your Schedule according to your footnote you absolutely destroy your Schedule and you must start afresh; and it is quite clear that His Majesty's Government had no intention of having it tampered with, because in another place, during the discussions of Clause 1 in Committee, Amendments were rejected, at the instance of the Government, which proposed to enable the justices to adjust on-licences in proportion to the population. There is, therefore, no intention of giving a wide discretion to get away from the Schedule.
I pass from the consideration of how the reduction is to be quickened by machinery to consider how it is to be quickened by cash; and here you are going to get the same amount of money under the levy—perhaps more—and you are going to give less compensation to the unfortunate owners of licensed houses, because you are going to compensate them on the basis of assessment under Schedule A instead of taking the market value of their trade. Therefore you are going to get your quickening at the cost, not of the public, but of the trade. We have heard a great deal of a high-sounding phrase, and the noble Earl who introduced this Bill quoted it himself. The noble Earl called our attention to the phrase in the Report of the Royal Commission that—There is hardly any sacrifice too great which would result in a marked diminution of this national degradation.Many of us feel that there might be very great sacrifices indeed if we could be satisfied that those sacrifices and the legislation embodying them would bring about a great diminution of the drink curse of the country. But in the speeches that we have had in this House during the last few days there has been nothing whatever to show that what is proposed in this Bill would bring that diminution about.
913 Speaker after speaker, and those particularly who are strong advocates of the Bill, have been bound to admit that there is no real proof on which they can say that reduction of houses according to population has in the past or is sure in the future to bring about a reduction of drunkenness. In this Bill there is sacrifice, but it does not fall upon the public, who are supposed to wish the reduction to take place, and it does not fall upon the State, which says the sacrifice cannot be too great. The burden is placed on one class alone. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London described the state of some of the slums and how disheartening it was to see what was going on night after night in the public-houses in them. He spoke of public-houses as being "crammed with a mass of struggling humanity." That must be a most painful scene, and represents a great evil, not only by showing that these people will and must have drink, but as showing that the places where they get their drink now are in some cases so overcrowded that it is almost impossible properly to control them, whether by the police or by those in charge of the house.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
I was referring specially to a Sunday afternoon. I did not mean that it was always so.
§ EARL CAWDOR
I was not quite clear whether the right rev. Prelate meant every day, but I would ask whether we can hope that by closing public-houses in that district we are going to cure that evil. By diminishing accommodation you will increase the struggling mass. People who will struggle for drink in that uncomfortable way will get it elsewhere—perhaps free from supervision, and possibly by taking to drinking spirits in their own houses. I press this matter because I feel most strongly that there is much to be said as between licensed houses and clubs— I mean clubs set up for the purposes of drinking, of which, as we know, there are very many. In many parts they are a great and growing evil.
I want, if I may, to refer to two matters which I think bear upon this. I ask 914 your Lordships to note the result of an experiment in India. Thirty years ago there was in the Army there the close canteen system. The soldiers were given two pints of beer and no more. What was the result? The result of the close canteen system was the drinking; of arrack and other poisonous spirits, leading to a large amount of drunkenness. In 1874 a battery of artillery went out to India and an experiment was then tried. Instead of continuing the close canteen, the open canteen was tried, the men being allowed to get what they chose to buy. The result was that in a very short time drunkenness in that battery practically disappeared. The drinking of arrack ceased, and from that day to this the system of the open canteen has been extended all over the British Army This experiment shows that restrictive measures often work exactly in the opposite direction from that in which they were expected to tend. "When, also, I think in the time of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal (Lord Roberts), institutes for soldiers were started in India, they were, if not absolutely attached to the canteen, an addition to it. Instead of the canteen being made the principal attraction for the soldier, the institute alongside became the main attraction. The result has been a most happy one, for the institutes have tended to the diminution of the drinking habit among soldiers, while leading them to take up intellectual and other pursuits.
I would also refer to what was said by my noble friend Lord Halifax last night with regard to this particular point. It was, I think, the shortest speech in the whole of this debate, and I am sure it was not very far off being the best. The noble Viscount stated that in a colliery village he knew in Yorkshire, a man familiar with the habits of the miners and noted for his splendid philanthropic work was striving to get a public-house with its comforts established in the village, because the clubs were getting an absolute hold of the men. Reformers must not, therefore, rely too much on wiping out the public-house, which, after all, may have its uses in our social economy. I would point out also to the Bishop of London that the rejection 915 of this Bill would not alter the present position of the licence-holder by giving Mm. as the right rev. Prelate feared, a freehold in the licence. Parliament will be left free to deal with the licence In future, and instead of the trade being placed in an impregnable position the outlook will have become really more clear.
We are often told that we might have amended the Bill. What is it that noble Lords opposite expected us to amend? What would the noble Earl the Leader of the House accept? Noble Lords want to see our Amendments. I think they have been clearly told that there are some grave points which, if unamended, would compel us to throw out the Bill even on the Third Reading stage. No sign has been given by the Government whether or not they would take up and consider any Amendments. We object to the Bill because of its main provisions, because of its time-limit and compensation clauses. There are, however, many points of real licensing reform which we would gladly try to pass if there was the slightest hope of assistance from the Government. I recognise the value of the children clause and the Sunday trading clause, but I am unable to understand how such ardent reformers of the drink traffic as the Government are have failed to deal with the grocers' licences in this Bill. I do not think I am doing him an injustice when I say that the noble Earl the Leader of the House brushed aside the question of grocers' licences as not bearing to any perceptible extent on drunkenness.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (The Earl of CREWE)
I think what I said was that the case against grocers' licences was not proven.
§ EARL CAWDOR
Yes; but if not proven the case might be dealt with very much in the same way as the Government are now dealing with other cases that are not proven. Noble Lords opposite are always sheltering themselves behind the opinion of experts, behind those who have lived among the people and who have studied this question. The Bishops of London and Bristol have told the House that the 916 greatest evil to be contended against now is the drunkenness caused by the grocers' licences. Then there is the provision as to clubs. If the Government are going to change so drastically the position of the licensed house, it is absolutely necessary to legislate further for clubs in order to get rid of the grave discrepancies that exist between the public-houses and them.
Lastly, I hope we may be able to come to some agreement as to the valuable Bill of Lord Lamington. A strong desire prevails that something should be done in the direction indicated by that measure to remove the restrictions which hamper the improvement of the public-house. Your Lordships will remember the speech of the Bishop of Birmingham. He told us that he had been in the habit of sitting for a number of hours in German public-houses. He found them very pleasant places, and expressed a wish that it might be possible to have something of the kind in this country. In the dim and not distant future may we hope that some of us may live to see the right rev. Prelate and. his brethren on the episcopal bench, perchance not in their robes but distinguished by those garments by which they are so easily recognised, sitting together with their wives and families at the stone tables which we know so well, taking whatever refreshments may seem good to them— not in Germany, but in London, and without a whisper of condemnation from Church people at home. But I have my doubts whether this Bill is going to help forward that happy realisation. Still, if we could arrive at agreement on Lord Lamington's Bill we might yet hope to see that charming picture in the flesh.
May I say a few words as to the remarkable speech we heard last night from the noble Earl on the cross benches? Lord Rosebery is quoted by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Duchy as the great independent authority whose speech of last night is going to show the country how right the Government are and how wrong is the action of my noble friend and ourselves on this side. Lord Rosebery said he was absolutely in favour of the Bill, and that he had no shadow of doubt about voting for it. He then 917 proceeded to discuss it rather fully. He said—I have not the slightest doubt as to my vote, not for all the details of the Bill but certainly for the fundamental principle that underlies the Bill.He went on to say that the time-limit was the fundamental principle that underlies the Bill. That may be and probably is so, but linked up with the time-limit is surely the question of compensation. A time-limit would not be wanted unless you were coming at some time to the end of it, at which date your compensation is to stop. Therefore if you take the time-limit as a fundamental principle of the Bill, I venture to say you must interweave also the compensation clauses which are bound together with it.
Let us see what followed in the noble Earl's speech. He acknowledged that interests had been built up with the permission of the State, and he went on to say that logically, that being so, the State should pay the compensation. He said—The State having allowed this state of things to grow up, in strict logic it should pay the compensation or most of the compensation, It has allowed and tolerated this understanding it has almost encouraged it, and why should the burden be laid on others which is due only to that amorphous being that is called the State.The noble Earl continued—But that is outside the region of practical politics. In the first place, the State could not afford it.What does that mean? You have an admission that there is an interest entitled to compensation, a statement that the State is responsible for that interest and the right to compensation, and there is set up against it this extraordinary tenet, that that is outside of practical politics because "the State cannot afford it." Is it possible that the justification of that is that the State does not wish to pay what it thinks necessary, and therefore will not face the obligation—that the obligation has to be faced not by the State, but by the victims of the legislation you are trying to pass? Could there be a stronger condemnation of this measure than that?
The noble Earl went on to use very remarkable words, particularly for one who has had his experience. He talked of the trade poisoning the sources of our 918 political and municipal life. That is a strongish phrase of itself, but the noble Earl went on to elaborate it and everyone is aware how much the noble Earl knows of political and municipal life. He proceeded to say—I am quoting from The Times—No one can have been engaged in municipal life for any time or almost in any community without seeing that the candidates are chosen, not with reference to their purity, but entirely in deference to their subserviency to the trade.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I do not wish to interrupt the noble Earl. He should omit the article. I said "candidates are chosen" not "the candidates are chosen."
§ EARL CAWDOR
I contend that that is a sweeping and unwarrantable charge. I agree that you may destroy the value of the interest in question by legislation, but, if you do, you will be doing an injustice absolutely unworthy of the State. We have been told by several noble Lords who sit, some of them on this side and some on the other, that we are doing a very bad service—I think the actual word used is that we are doing a disservice—to property generally by linking it up with this particular trade. I think that may be put too high. We admit that this property or this interest is, in certain ways, on a different footing from other property. But I am not afraid to mix up this particular property with property generally. It is said that this is a less important property than freehold, but if you deal in an unjust way with this kind of property the precedent may very easily spread to more valuable property of every sort and kind throughout the country. Therefore, we are doing no disservice to other kinds of property in standing up for the rights of smaller people when their rights are unjustly and inequitably attacked.
Threats are often hurled at your Lordships' House. That is nothing new to us. 919 We are accustomed to autumn campaigns, and I do not know that we are very much the worse for them. I sometimes think we are rather the better. But strong language has been used recently by one of His Majesty's Ministers. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, speaking at Bristol a short time ago, used language which in ordinary life one would call distinctly aggressive. I would venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that instead of flourishing the banner of threat against the House of Lords, it would be far better in the interests of the country if he would retire to Ireland and exercise his authority there on those who very much need it. Common sense and common honesty condemn this Bill; and because the Bill is unjust, and therefore wrong, I trust your Lordships will not accord to it a Second Reading.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord LOREBURN)
My Lords, I think it will be in accordance with your Lordships' natural inclinations if I should not at this time of the day take any very long time in replying on behalf of His Majesty's Government. My first instinct when I learnt that the death-blow had been administered to this Bill at Lansdowne House was that there must be complete unreality in everything that took place in the three days that the Bill was to be discussed on Second Reading. But on reflection I thought, and experience has confirmed it, that many speeches of very great interest would be delivered, although the discussion is purely academic, for the decision is foreseen and foreknown.
There have been two classes of question raised—one not very much adverted to, but naturally raised, on which I shall say only a word, and that is the constitutional aspect of the proceedings which have taken place. My Lords, I venture to say that since the Reform Bill of 1832, your Lordships' House has seldom thrown out upon Second Reading any Bill of first-rate importance which has come recommended by a considerable majority in the House of Commons. The Home Rule Bill was supported by a very small majority in the other House, but I do not recollect any other Bill of first-rate importance since 1832 which was so treated. Unless my memory is at fault, the resistance of the House of Lords to 920 the Reform Bill of 1832 itself was not by throwing out the Bill on Second Reading, but was after taking and amending it.
Here is a Bill which comes from the House of Commons by a majority of 200 or 300, supported by practically all of those who are sent up especially to represent labour—that is to say, those classes by whom public-houses are most used. It comes after protracted sittings between February and November during the whole year, and this House will not entertain it on Second Reading. I think that is a very bad precedent, and I think it is inconsistent with the course that your Lordships' House has pursued ever since the Reform Bill of 1832. But, after all, that constitutional point is one from which I pass, for it is one of minor importance.
I come to the merits of the Bill. It is a measure of enormous magnitude and complexity. Every kind of objection upon detail has been invoked against a Second Reading. It is impossible for me to correct the many, many misapprehensions that have been expressed. It cannot be done. Noble Lords have no doubt perfectly honestly endeavoured to follow it, and I admit it is a difficult subject; but I assure your Lordships that there are many points which you have thoroughly misunderstood or been misinformed about in regard to the scope of the Bill. I am not saying that by way of appeal. I am perfectly aware that the Bill is as dead as a door-nail.
But will your Lordships allow me very shortly to present, not particular details, but a general view of what the Government meant and mean by the Bill? It seems to me the only way to counteract the misapprehensions that exist. In the first place, why did we bring in the Bill at all? I do not believe I am a fanatic. I am not aware that I am prepossessed that way. I do not regard any canon against drinking as a necessary eleventh Commandment. I have no ambition to add to the Decalogue in that respect. But I am a man of business, a man of the world, I hope, and I can see the evils that are going on around us, and the dangerous and frightful consequences to this country in all their aspects arising from this mischief of drink. I see also that there 921 is a direct conflict in some respects between the interests of this trade and the interests of the State. I have no intention of making any attack upon the trade, but their interest is that people should drink. Short of drunkenness, the more people drink the better for the trade. The interest of the State, on the other hand, is that the consumption of liquor should be greatly restricted.
Consider what the actual state of things is. The drink bill is £166,000,000. Ten per cent. of that would more than pay for half the cost of our Navy. Compare it with Canada. We drink four times as much as Canada. I make allowances for the difference of the climate, though that is not wholly favourable to us, and the difference in social circumstances. If we drank, not quarter, but a half of what we do, the people of this country would be better off by £83,000,000. There are very few families in this country, I suppose very few in this House, in which either members of the family themselves, or servants, or dependants have not been victims of this frightful curse and been the cause of infinite misery in the circles in which they live. We all know that, though it does not appear in any record or statistics.
But if you come to statistics, to the microscopic examination which has been made of the social fabric during the last twenty years, into every branch of it, the results are appalling. With regard to prisons, the Bishop of London told us that 93 per cent. of the inmates were there in consequence of drink. I spoke to a Judge of Assize not long ago, not of my way of thinking in politics, so far as Judges, except the Lord Chancellor, are permitted to have political opinions, and I asked him how many of the cases that came before him at the last assize were due to drink. He said eleven out of twelve directly, and the twelfth indirectly. In the case of disease, any doctor will tell your Lordships of the mischief which they see arise in their circle of patients. In lunacy, according to the last Report of the Lunacy Commission, 22 per cent. of the men confined in lunatic asylums were there directly by reason of drink, to say nothing of the multitudes who owe their lunacy to hereditary disease caused by drink. 922 The Manchester investigation showed that 51 per cent. of the workhouse inmates were there in consequence of drink. The Report of the Royal Commission on Housing shows that bad housing and drink act and re-act so much on one another that it is impossible to tell which is the cause and which is the effect. The best opinion in regard to cases of cruelty to children is that anything up to 90 per cent. of the cases of cruelty are due to drink.
In regard to physical deterioration, your Lordships may have read the reports on that subject, and there you will have found drink described as a potent and deadly agent. Lastly, the noble Marquess referred to the influence of drink upon unemployment which we cannot possibly fathom, but of which you will find this, that although there are many fine fellows lamentably situated, deserving work but unable to get it, one of the difficulties in providing for them is that there is also a number of unemployable people, unemployable because of drink, whose condition and number interfere with giving proper employment to the others. It has been for years my habit to read all I can find of reports on social subjects, and I have formed this opinion, that if only this mischief could be dealt with effectually, whether by one party or the other, I care not which, 75 per cent. of the social evils in this country would settle themselves. What strikes me with astonishment and regret is this, that in this House, where I know, and we all know, there are many men who give large sums and spend much labour and time and thought in rescuing people who have come to trouble by reason of this frightful vice, they seem not to see the necessity, and, if I may respectfully say so, the common-sense of trying to stop these people by any means they can before they fall over the precipice. It is astonishing to me that when there are so many who are willing to do everything for such people, they should fail to see that good and wise laws of this kind will prevent people from falling. So much for the mischief.
These things show the extreme danger of this trade with which we are dealing, and our forefathers have always recognised from the first time when licences 923 were granted that it is absolutely necessary to control this trade, to watch it, and not to allow it to obtain an insidious influence in any direction. The Amendment of the noble Marquess admits the necessity and propriety of dealing with this evil of intemperance. The framer of the Amendment seems to think that the Bill will not materially improve the state of things which exists. Is that so? In the first place, let me say what has come out in this debate. Of many of the minor portions of the Bill there has been a chorus of approbation from all quarters of the House. Particular reference has been made to Sunday closing so far as it goes in the Bill—I believe only thirty-nine Members of the House of Commons were found to vote against it. So far as I can make out, there would not be any Members of this House who would oppose it. Statutory conditions are also proposed to give control over the arrangement of premises and access to them, and to deal with the later opening of houses in the morning. There are provisions to forbid children from being admitted to bars, for closing houses on election days, and for preventing beer being hawked in vans all over the country. No one is otherwise than favourable to all these provisions; indeed, everyone approves of them.
Then there are the provisions as to clubs. Everyone approves of them so far as they go. In my opinion clubs are a very dangerous element, especially when you are going to suppress public-houses, and this Bill proposes to extend the time before which no house closed as a public-house shall be opened as a club; and it will effectually prevent the control by brewers of clubs. But some of your Lordships think that these clubs clauses should be made stronger. Well, I hope my colleagues will forgive me for saying that I myself heartily wish they could be made stronger, and if that were done you would have no more willing supporter than myself. No one denies that these clauses so far as they go are good. It is the same with the off-licences. It may be, as some people think, that the provisions in regard to off-licences are not strong enough. Very well, why not make them stronger? The cumulative effect of these proposals will be very greatly in the direction of temperance, and that has not 924 been denied from any quarter of the House.
What justification, then, is there for rejection of these clauses? There has been a reference to privilege. What is the position as between this House and the House of Commons in regard to matters of privilege? Your Lordships can protect yourselves perfectly against any abuse of privilege. Supposing this Bill had gone into Committee; supposing there were a great number of privileged clauses, which I am bound to say to my mind do not seem so numerous as they seem to be in the estimation of some noble Lords; and suppose your Lordships amended the clauses and returned them to the House of Commons and that the House of Commons then claimed privilege: that means simply that the House of Commons refuses to assent to your Amendments; you are still absolutely free to reject the Bill, to refuse to pass it into law. I cannot understand the argument when you have a Bill with a great deal of good in it and some features which you may consider bad, why in the name of common-sense you ought to reject the good, on the theory that you cannot separate the good from the bad, when in point of fact you can do one of two things; you can either insist on having only the good retained, or you can do what you are asked to do now—throw out the Bill. Of all the arguments ever put forward to justify a strange constitutional precedent, that of rejecting a Bill of this magnitude and with these antecedents in such a way is one of the strangest I ever heard, and I cannot help thinking that the prospect is not appreciated by noble Lords who adopt it.
So much for the good parts of the Bill; for people have become aware that there are good points in the Bill, and I wish this had been recognised earlier during weary sittings in the House of Commons when many of these things now said to be boons were regarded with very different feelings. Who will answer for the opinion of the House of Commons as to how they would treat these clauses if they were sent back to the House of Commons; who will answer for the time that will be spent—and, as your Lordships know, time is now the most precious Parliamentary possession that can be imagined? 925 Why, some day people will recoginse that we are trying to do three or four times as much business in the House of Commons than can possibly be done. I speak with respect, with the utmost respect, for the House of Commons, where I sat twenty-six years, and they were among the happiest years of my life; but what is the position? This Bill was closured in that House, and I am glad to see, and I think it is very creditable to the good feeling of noble Lords, that that circumstance has hardly been alluded to. It was the same with the Bill of 1904; that Bill was closured, and I remember making a protest against it. We all do that, but I most bitterly regret the closuring of this Bill. But the reign of closure has come to stay in the House of Commons until such time as both parties in the State will see that it is necessary to have some effective instrument in order to get rid of bad laws or to make good laws when they are needed.
I pass from that subject now and turn to other parts of the Bill. There is that part relating to reduction of licences; that is the portion which has been so strongly condemned. It is said to be futile, predatory, and vindictive. Now will you allow me to examine the principle on which this reduction rests—not going into detail, not dealing with Committee points, but dealing only with principle? I will say nothing of the Kennedy judgment, which has been dealt with in the admirable speech of Lord Lytton. I think I could satisfy your Lordships that it was contrary to the expressed intention of the framers of the Act of 1904. I will not say anything about the length of the time-limit. I am not sanguine enough to suppose that in any length of time I could persuade your Lordships by statistical examination that the period of time in the Bill is fitting. I am not dealing with the amount of compensation or the time-limit; if ever there were things appropriate for Committee examination they are such as these.
I deal with the principles of the Bill, and I will tell your Lordships why we propose the reduction of licences and what was the course of reasoning that induced me to accept the view introduced in the Bill. The first principle is that it 926 is necessary to reduce the number of licences, that is the indispensable preliminary to reform in the liquor trade. Is that denied? The last speaker (Earl Cawdor) either denied it or threw cold water upon it. Lord St. Aldwyn said it is a principle which has been accepted by both parties. The noble Marquess (Lord Lansdowne) stated it is indispensable, but it is a principle which must be treated with discrimination. Well, yes; everything in this world must be treated with discrimination. The Bill of 1904 proceeded upon the same doctrine. I remember perfectly well the discussions on that Bill and the bitter resistance I offered to it, for I knew and foresaw exactly the kind of argument that would be based upon it, and I thought better leave the trade to make its own insurance against future liabilities. How was that Bill defended? It is true something was given to the trade, but look at the enormous and inestimable blessings to be derived from the reduction of licences. It is true, and no one has denied it, that the prospective reduction was the great thing put forward; are we to have it contradicted and denied now? It has not been denied by your Lordships. I know it has been said by Lord Robertson that you cannot establish a statistical and conclusive proof of it. Of course you cannot; if you can prove that by statistics, you can prove anything by statistics.
Everyone familiar with this subject, including noble Lords on the front Opposition bench, as well as bishops and members of the Government, knows perfectly well that you must reduce the number of public-houses for a variety of reasons. Because they offer temptations, because they escape control; because, as Lord Lytton pointed out, they make people drive the trade if there are many houses in competition, and competition makes a pushing trade, often an illegitimate trade. That is the first reason why we started with a reduction of licences as indispensable. Then it may be said: "Why such a reduction?" What was the reduction anticipated under the Act of 1904? The Marquess of Salisbury, then a member of the Cabinet, I remember, said that he expected the reduction would be about 2,500 a year. That estimate has not been realised, and I am sorry for it; it has only come up to 927 1,096; the Kennedy judgment required too large compensation. What is the reduction contemplated under this Bill? 2,200, a less reduction than was contemplated by the framers of the 1904 Act. The next proposition is that the reduction shall be regulated by statute and at the cost of the trade; there is nothing new in this, it was in the Bill of 1904.
I will not enter at length into the quantum or quality of the property or interest created by licences; far be it from me to enter on such a subject now; it would be mere trifling with words; what took place is the important thing. Previous to 1904, a licence was annual and nothing more, and there was a right to take a licence away if there was redundancy. In 1904 it was provided there should be no withdrawal of the licence in case of good conduct without compensation. Attached to that was the liability of the trade to find the money for compensation. Hence there is no doubt that it was recognised that an interest was created by the licence of the State; but it existed only so long as a monopoly or restricted trade was permitted, which could be destroyed tomorrow by free trade in licences, and was of such a nature that all parties agreed that if it were taken away compensation must come from the pockets of fellow traders. Those are the facts we drew our conclusions from. It is an anomalous and exceptional kind of property, this property in a licence, and of an entirely different description from ordinary property.
I now come to the third principle which we thought was necessary; and that was that at some time—I do not enter upon the question of what time—it was in the imperative interest of the State that this exceptional and anomalous tight of renewal should disappear, and that the State should resume the power to refuse the licence in the public interest, unfettered by the existence of any vested right of property at all. Is that a strong proposition? I understood Lord St. Aldwyn to indicate that the time should be nearer twenty-eight years than fourteen years. I did not understand the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition to say it would be wrong to resume it at any time. I therefore put this to your 928 Lordships in good faith: Are you prepared to lay down the rule that because art annual licence was treated as a property of that kind in the Act of 1904—contrary to the vehement opposition of some of us— the people of England are to be subjected to that burden for ever? Surely it cannot be that your Lordships would desire that the position created by the Act of 1904 should be in perpetuity a huge obstacle to every kind of experiment in temperance reform. If that is so, I hope we are not far from one another in this—that a time may come at some date, the sooner the better, I think, when the State shall be at liberty to resume the right which it had for 400 years, and which, if the counsels of wiser men had been adopted, it would still have had unqualified, to treat licences apart from any vested interest.
My fourth proposition is that this can only be done by exacting the monopoly value. Every statute that was passed from the commencement it of our licensing history down to 1904—I do not refer to the ante-1869 licences—spoke in the most unequivocal terms of the annual licence as a licence for one year and no more. These three words "and no more" indicated the desire on the part of those who have gone before us to make it clear that the licensee had no right in the licence beyond one year. Nevertheless, a claim to a vested interest grew up; and the only way to prevent the renewal of another vested interest is to say, as the late Government said in the Act of 1904, that there-should be a payment for monopoly value in the case of existing and in the case of new licences.
I now come to the last principle of all. We came to the conclusion that it was necessary to have a scheme for all England and not a scheme only for county by county. The reason for that is very obvious. There is a great disparity in the density of licences in different parts of the United Kingdom. In London, there are districts where there is a licence for every 1,500 or 2,000 of the population. There are some places again where the number of licences is a perfect scandal, where there is one licence for every 150 or 160 adult inhabitants. If you do not have some system by which you would be able to pool all the receipts from the different levies all over the country and 929 apply them so that the entire country shall have the benefit, you will never get rid of the worst cases of excessive licences, which are in the slums of our great cities. For that purpose, and that purpose alone, it is necessary to have a Commission to co-ordinate the schemes of suppression sent up to them by the local justices; to keep the whole of England in their hands for financial purposes; to see that the levy is sufficient to go round, and not for the purpose of dictating to the local justices what house shall or shall not be shut. It is said: What right have you to take from Devonshire money in order to spend it in London? But if it is lawful and honest, as it is at present under the Act of 1904, to take money raised by levy on the north coast of Devon and spend it in Plymouth on the south coast, why is it wicked to take it from Cornwall and spend it elsewhere? These canons of ethics are too subtle for me.
These are the principles contained in the Bill, stripped of the multiplicity of necessary detail, and I maintain that so far as these principles are concerned, every one of them has been supported by declarations of the leaders of the Conservative Party, and illustrated in the legislation which they themselves have passed. The fate of the Bill I know
§ is decided. It is not altogether in the interest of the Government, believe me, that I object to the course which has been taken by the leader of the Opposition. I know very well that the subject is unpopular, and it may have influenced the recent bye-elections. But I think it is our duty to stand by the Bill, no matter how many bye-elections may have gone against us. No Government will lose in the long run by holding to what it believes to be honest and right. If you can show us that we are wrong why have you not gone into Committee and considered the details of the Bill, so that we may convince you, or be convinced by you? What right have you to suppose that we are desirous of acting dishonestly by any trade? We shall be overwhelmed of course. But with all respect to the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition, and I feel a real respect for him, I say it will not be to his honour it will not be to his credit, that this Bill is rejected, for it is the triumph of a trade over the community, it is the victory of wrong over right.
§ On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."
§ On Question, Their Lordships divided: —Contents, 96; Not-Contents, 272.933
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Temple, E.||Blyth, L.|
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Brassey, L.|
|Cobham, V.||Braye, L.|
|York, L. Abp.||Esher, V.||Burghclere, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Colebrooke, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)||Courtney of Penwith, L.|
|Milner, V.||Denman, L. [Teller.]|
|Manchester, D.||Morley of Blackburn, V.||Dunning, L. (L. Rollo.)|
|Peel, V.||Eversley, L.|
|Normanby, M.||Selby, V.||Farrer, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Fitzmaurice, L.|
|Birmingham, L. Bp.||Glantawe, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.)||Chester, L. Bp.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.) [Teller.]|
|Carlisle, E.||Hereford, L. Bp.|
|Carrington, E.||Liverpool, L. Bp.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L.|
|Craven, E.||London, L. Bp.||Haversham, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Norwich, L. Bp.||Hemphill, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Peterborough, L. Bp.||Herschell, L.|
|Durham, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.||Joicey, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Wakefield, L. Bp.||Knollys, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Loch, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Airedale, L.||Lochee, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Allendale, L.||Lucas, L.|
|Russell, E.||Armitstead, L.||Lyveden, L.|
|Stamford, E.||Balfour, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Marchamley, L.||Ribblesdale, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Monkswell, L.||Rodeny, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Monteagle of Brandon, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)||Tenterden, L.|
|Nunburnholme, L.||St. Davids, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|O'Hagan, L.||Sandhurst, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Pirrie, L.||Saye and Sele, L.||Welby, L.|
|Reay, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Rendel, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Guilford, E.||Hardinge, V.|
|Bedford, D.||Haddington, E.||Hill, V.|
|Brandon, D. (D. Hamilton.)||Halsbury, E.||Hood, V.|
|Devonshire, D.||Hardwicke, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Grafton, D.||Harewood, E.|
|Leeds, D.||Harrowby, E.||Iveagh, V.|
|Marlborough, D.||Howe, E.||Portman, V.|
|Newcastle, D.||Huntingdon, E.||Ridley, V.|
|Northumberland, L.||Ilchester, E.||St. Aldwyn, V.|
|Portland, D.||Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)||Templeton, V.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Jersey, E.||Torrington, V.|
|Rutland, D.||Kilmorey, E.|
|Somerset, D.||Lathom, E.||Abinger, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Lauderdale, E.||Addington, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Lichfield, E.||Aldenham, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Alington, L.|
|Abergavenny, M.||Londesborough, E.||Allerton, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Lonsdale, E.||Alverstone, L.|
|Anglesey, M.||Lovelace, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.|
|Bath, M.||Lucan, E.||Ampthill, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Malmesbury, E.||Annaly, L.|
|Camden, M.||Mansfield, E.||Ardilaun, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Manvers, E.||Armstrong, L.|
|Hertford, M.||Mar and Kellie, E.||Ashbourne, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Mayo, E.||Ashcombe, L.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Morley, E.||Ashton, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Morton, E.||Atkinson, L.|
|Zetland, M.||Munster, E.||Avebury, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Bagot, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Northbrook, E.||Barnard, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Onslow, E.||Barrymore, L.|
|Aylesford, E.||Orford, E.||Basing, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Pembroke and Montgomery, E||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Brownlow, E.||Plymouth, E.||Bolton, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Powis, E.||Borthwick, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Radnor, E.||Bowes, L. (E. Strathmore and Kinghorn.)|
|Camperdown, E.||Roberts, E.|
|Carnarvon, E.||Saint Germans, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Carnwath, E.||Sandwich, E.||Braybrooke, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Shaftesbury, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Cawdor, E.||Shrewsbury, E.||Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Stradbroke, E.||Burton, L.|
|Cottenham, E.||Suffolk and Berkshire, E.||Calthorpe, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Carew, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Verulam, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)|
|Cromer, E.||Westmeath, E.||Cheylesmore, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Westmorland, E.||Churston, L.|
|Darnley, E.||Wharncliffe, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Dartrey, E.||Wilton, E.|
|Derby, E.||Winchelsea and Nottingham, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Devon, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Clinton, L.|
|Bridport, V.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Cloncurry, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Colville of Culross, V.||Colchester, L.|
|Essex, E.||Cross, V.||Collins, L.|
|Feversham, E.||Falkland, V.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Goschen, V.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)|
|Gainsborough, E.||Halifax, V.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Hampden, V.||De Ramsey, L.|
|Deramore, L.||Kinross, L.||Robertson, L.|
|Desborough, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)||Rosmead, L.|
|Digby, L.||Knaresborough, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Douglas, L. (E. Home.)||Lawrence, L.||St. John of Bletsoe, L.|
|Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Leconfield, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Leigh, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Elphinstone, L.||Leith of Fvyie, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Erskine, L.||Lilford, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Estcourt, L.||Llangattock, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Faber, L.||Ludlow, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Lurgan, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Macnaghten, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Forester, L.||Manners, L.|
|Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Massy, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Grey de Ruthyn, L.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)||Southampton, L.|
|Grinstead, L. (E. Enniskitten.)||Middleton, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Harris, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)||Mount, Stephen, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Hastings, L.||Mowbray, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Hatherton, L.||Muncaster, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Hawke, L.||Muskerry, L.||Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)|
|Hindlip, L.||North, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hothfield, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Ormathwaite, L.||Waleran, L.|
|James, L.||Playfair, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Poltimore, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)||Westbury, L.|
|Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)|
|Kensington L||Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Kenyon, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)||Wolverton, L.|
|Rathmore, L.||Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)|
|Killanin, L.||Ravensworth, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)||Revelstoke, L.|
§ "Resolved, This House, while ready to consider favourably any Amendments which experience has shown to be necessary in the law regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors, declines to proceed further with a measure which, without materially advancing the cause of temperance, would occasion grave inconvenience to many of His Majesty's subjects, and violate every principle of equity in its dealings with the numerous classes whose interests will be affected by the Bill."
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes past Seven o'clock, to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.