HL Deb 11 October 1909 vol 3 cc1069-72

Amendments reported (according to order).

Viscount MIDLETON moved an Amendment to Clause 6— 6. The provisions of this Act shall apply in the case of a county borough as if the borough council were a county council, and the expenses of the borough council shall be defrayed out of the borough fund or borough rate, to substitute for "county borough," "borough or urban district." The object of the Amendment, he thought, would be appreciated by the noble Earl the Lord Steward. It certainly seemed absurd that in matters of this description, which were precisely similar to others in which the non-county boroughs and the urban district councils were accustomed to exercise jurisdiction, the whole of these licences should have to be granted by the county council. In some cases the county council was nearly fifty miles away, and it would be practically almost impossible to make these applications without great expense. A large number of the urban district councils had over 10,000 inhabitants and were certainly competent for this purpose. He did not know whether the noble Earl or their Lordships would care to have a list of the number of similar services they had to perform. It had been pointed out to him that in a borough, for instance, such as Harrogate, which was now an enormous town, they would be forced to go as far as Wakefield to make application in order to hold a cinematograph exhibition in the former town. All the buildings were under the local council, and in regard to them assuredly the local council must have a knowledge which the county council could not pretend to. Therefore, he moved the Amendment in his name.

Amendment moved— In page 3, line 8, to leave out 'county,' and after 'borough' insert 'or urban district,' and after the first 'council' to insert or urban district council.'"—(Viscount Midleton.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said there was no doubt that at the present time under the Bill the county councils had power to delegate direct to non-county boroughs or to the magistrates. What some people required was that the power should be given direct to the non-county councils and that they should be made under this Bill the licensing authority. There were reasons, however, why it was desired that the county councils should keep this power of delegation, because there were circumstances under which it was better that they should delegate it, not to the councils, but to the magistrates. For this reason Part IV of the Public Health Act, 1890, put the control of the music-hall licence into the hands of the magistrates. That had been adopted in a large number of cases, and it was thought that the licensing of cinematograph exhibitions should be in the hands of the same licensing authority. It would create a great deal of confusion if the licensing of music halls were done by one authority and the licensing of the cinematograph by another authority. That was really the point between the noble Viscount and His Majesty's Government. If the noble Viscount did not press the Amendment it would be still within the power of the county council to delegate to the non-county borough councils, but they retained the alternative and the option of delegating to the magistrates. Although, generally speaking, it was not unlikely that it would be given to the borough councils, they desired the power to delegate to the magistrates for the sake of uniformity in certain districts.


Would that power of delegation equally extend to urban district councils?

EARL BEAUCHAMP said that arose before, and he thought that the Government, in answer to the noble Viscount's question, were able to say that there was no doubt at all about this question of delegation. As shortly as he could put it, it was this. In Clause 5 the existing powers of the county council to delegate were expressly preserved for the purpose of the Bill, and the last words of the Clause dealt with the delegation of powers under the Bill to magistrates.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON said he had no right to speak again but with the permission of their Lordships he would say that there was considerable feeling about this matter, and he had had a large correspondence. If the noble Earl would not take the Third Reading of the Bill that night it would give him an opportunity for consultation.

LORD BELPER ventured to think that probably the county councils would be averse to giving authority to borough or urban district councils, but, at all events, if the matter was left over till the Third Reading no doubt his noble friend, if he were going to move any Amendment would put it down for that stage.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON said he did not press his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON drew attention to an Amendment in the name of the Earl of Wemyss to Clause 7, subsection (3) paragraph (c)— (c) complies with the regulations made by the Secretary of State under this Act, and with any conditions imposed by the County Council, and notified in writing to the owner, to leave out from "and" to the end of the subsection, and after the word "imposed" to insert "subject to regulations of the Secretary of State." He (Viscount Midleton) understood the Government were prepared to accept the Amendment substantially.

Amendment moved— In page 4, line 2, to leave out from 'and' to the end of the subsection, and after 'imposed' to insert 'subject to regulations of the Secretary of State.'"—(Viscount Midleton.)

EARL BEAUCHAMP said his only objection to the Amendment was that he was given to understand that they should have put in the same Amendment at a previous part of the Clause—namely, subsection (2)— because that would meet the case of the travelling showman, and he thought that ought to be dealt with in the same way.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be printed as amended. (No.196.)

House adjourned at twenty minutes past Eight o'clock, till Tomorrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.