§ Amendments reported (according to order).
THE EARL OF CARLISLE had an Amendment on the Paper to insert, in Clause 1 (Provision for facilities and improvements), the following proviso—
Provided that nothing herein contained shall alter or affect the existing prohibition of gaming upon the premises or any provision of the Gaming Act of 1845, or the existing law, as to the regulation of places ordinarily used for public dancing, music, or other public entertainment under any Act of Parliament.
He explained that this Amendment had been postponed from the Committee stage at the request of several of their Lordships. Dealing first with the question of gaming, the noble Earl said that although he was sure the noble Lord in charge of the Bill did not desire to relax the provisions of the existing Act, his supporters largely wished to do so. When the Bill was in Committee he (Lord Carlisle) referred to a pamphlet on this question by Mr. Platt, but Lord Lamington stated that he had not read the pamphlet and rather suggested that it was a bogus pamphlet. But this pamphlet, the writer of which was a voluminous author on this question, contained the same arguments
and exactly the same figures, some of them very questionable, as had been given by Lord Lamington, and the pamphlet also contained long quotations from Lord Lamington's speeches. In these circumstances he thought it was not unreasonable to suppose that the pamphlet represented the views of a large number of persons who supported this Bill. The writer of the pamphlet said—
I am disposed to think that the gaming provisions of the Act of 1872 should be modified to bring them more in accord with present day conditions. So long as they remain as they now stand the ideal public house as a place of entertainment on reformed lines can hardly be realised";
and he added—
There are scores of laws on the Statute Book which are never enforced at all.
This gentleman suggested that the gaming provisions were of the class of laws which it was desirable not to enforce. And he was not alone in that. Mr. Alderman Johnson, chairman of the Licensed Victuallers' Protection Society, in a recent issue of a trade paper, stated—
However desirable reform of the public-house may be, I do not think it can be effected without the repeal of the gaming laws.
As they had this strong expression of opinion from the supporters of the Bill though not from the noble Lord in charge of it, it seemed to him very desirable, unless their Lordships wished these laws to be largely disregarded, that his Amendment should be inserted.
§ With respect to that part of the Amendment dealing with music, he would like to insert the words "other than automatic music "after "music." What he wanted to do was not to establish any fresh restriction, but to make it understood that this reform did not mean that the existing regulations, which had been established by successive Acts of Parliament brought in by the late Government and their predecessors, should be allowed explicitly, or by inference, to be interfered with.
In page 1, line 21, after the word recreation 'to insert the words Provided that nothing herein contained shall alter or affect the existing prohibition of gaming upon the premises or any provision of the Gaming Act of 1845, or the existing law, as to the regulation of places ordinarily used for public dancing, music other than automatic music, or other public entertainment under any Act of Parliament.'"—(The Earl of Carlisle.)
§ LORD LAMINGTON said he understood from what the noble Earl had said that the existing statutes were very often disregarded and not acted upon, but the people who offended in that way were liable to a police prosecution. But he did not see that that was any reason for inserting the Amendment in his Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CARLISLE explained that he meant that they might be disregarded in the future.
§ LORD LAMINGTON failed to see how his Bill would entitle magistrates to disregard the existing law. At all events, he was in possession of legal opinion to the effect that the Bill in no way conflicted with the exercise of the statutes referred to by the noble Earl. The fact was that his Bill had been pretty well knocked out of shape by the acceptance of an Amendment which had been moved by the noble Lord opposite, Lord Haversham, by which the magistrates were given unfettered discretionary powers. The Bill was merely a directing post as to what they considered desirable attainments in the conduct of public-houses, and he believed that if the Amendment was accepted it would tend to confusion and to still further weaken the Bill. It was, moreover, superfluous, and he therefore deprecated its acceptance.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD LOREHURN) said that if the Bill would be weakened by the insertion of an Amendment that the existing prohibition of gaming and the provision of the existing law as to dancing, music, and other public entertainments should not be altered or affected, that was rather an argument against the Bill itself. He could not see why existing laws should not be safeguarded.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY said they did not desire to pass bad legislation or confusing legislation. They did not want to send down to the House of Commons legislation which was so bad that it would be difficult to interpret it. Therefore he would like to ask the Lord Chancellor whether the proposed words were necessary and whether, in the absence of Lord Carlisle's proviso, the Bill would not mean exactly the same thing. The Bill did not propose to repeal in any sense the Gaming Act or any provision of the existing law as to the regulation of places used for public dancing, music, or other 819 public entertainment. He thought it was contrary to practice to insert words preserving any particular Act unless it would be otherwise infringed by the Bill. Their Lordships would be glad to be guided in this matter by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR did not think the Bill from beginning to end was good drafting, and he was not prepared to recommend the Amendment on that ground either.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
THE EARL OF CARLISLE moved to amend the proviso—
Provided always that no alteration in the premises or fittings, the chief effect of which would be, in the opinion of the licensing justices, materially to increase the consumption of intoxicating liquors only, shall be deemed to come within the provisions of this section,
by adding, after the word "only"the condition," or would conceal from observation any part of the premises used for drinking."
In page 2, line 2, after the word 'only' to insert the words 'or would conceal from observation any part of the premises used for drinking.'"—(The Earl of Carlisle.)
§ LORD LAMINGTON accepted the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD LAMINGTON moved a new clause declaring that in the application of the Bill to Scotland the words "licensing justices" should be rendered "the licensing court" and that the appeal should be to the Court of Appeal.
After Clause 1, to insert the following new clause:
'In the application of this Act to Scotland the words "licensing justices" shall be read as "licensing court," and appeals shall be to the Court of Appeal.' "—(Lord Lamington.)
§ LORD ASHBOURNE inquired what Court was meant by the words "Court of Appeal."
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH assured the noble and learned Lord that the 820 expression was in accordance with the Scottish Licensing Act. The Court was composed of licensing justices from the various Benches in the district over which the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said that if the Lord Chancellor was satisfied that the words were correct he would be content.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR replied that his recollection of the Scottish Licensing Act was the same as that of Lord Balfour. But he hoped their Lordships would excuse him if it turned out that there had been on his part any lapse of memory on this point.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Bill to be read 3a on Tuesday next, and to be printed as amended. (No. 123.)