§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl Beauchamp.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, before the House goes into Committee on this Bill I desire to say a few words, not with any idea of retarding the progress of the Bill, but more or less in the way of a personal explanation. I have always believed since I have been in this House that when the Government of the day introduce an important measure it is right and proper and due to the Government and also to your Lordships' House that some notice of it should be taken by those who sit on the Front Opposition Bench. The other evening when this Bill came up for Second Reading I had fully intended to say a few words upon it, but by one of those accidents that sometimes happen the debate abruptly terminated at a moment when I, unfortunately, was not in my place, and I lost my opportunity. I do not greatly regret that, because after the speeches made by my two noble friends on this side of the House I should only have been able to tell your Lordships that I had arrived at the same conclusion as theirs, and that we did not desire to deny the Bill the Second Reading which we were asked to give it.
I will this evening make one observation, and one observation only. This Bill comes to us in the guise of a Temperance Bill. It is described as a Bill to promote temperance. I am not at all convinced that that is a proper designation to give to this Bill. There are, it is true, clauses in it with regard to clubs and one or two other clauses which do touch the question of temperance, but the real object of the Bill is not the promotion of temperance. Its real object is to transfer the power which is now entrusted to the licensing authorities in Scotland to a majority of the electors within the areas provided for by the measure. No doubt that change in the law is suggested in the hope that temperance may result therefrom; but it is quite evident that if, contrary to the expectations of the promoters of the Bill, the electors should prove to be indifferent, or if the extinction of a large number of certificates should 1000 lead to a great increase in the number of clubs, or if, again, the areas should be so prescribed as to lead to additional drinking in one area while drink is diminished in that which adjoins it—if any of these things happen the result will not be the promotion of temperance. I am strengthened in my opinion that the Bill ought not to be described as a Temperance Bill by an observation made in the other House of Parliament by the Lord Advocate, who used, these words—The object of the Bill is not to extinguish licences, but to transfer to voters in certain areas discretionary powers now confined to the magistrates.That, said the Lord Advocate, was "the sole object of this measure," and I think that is a more correct description than that which was given to us the other evening by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill.
The noble Earl told us that in his opinion the Bill did not introduce a new principle. I venture to say that it does introduce a new principle, and a principle which may prove extremely dangerous and far-reaching. The principle is this, that from a tribunal which is in a sense an experienced tribunal, which has responsibilities attaching to it, which has a judicial character, you are going to take these functions away and hand them over to a body of electors who have no judicial characteristics, who have no responsibilities, and who have no experience. Now that, as I said a moment ago, is a new principle, and to my mind a very important one. I will say no more upon it. We have been told on excellent authority that this Bill is largely supported in Scotland. That being so, we on these Benches did not desire to refuse it a Second Reading; but we regard it as a very hazardous experiment, and we desire that this experiment should he carried out under the most careful conditions possible. We do not think that the conditions laid down in the Bill as it now stands are sufficient for the purpose, and I am very glad that several of my noble friends on this side of the House have put Amendments on the Paper with the object of rendering those conditions more adequate than I believe them to be at present.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.1001
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ Date of Act Coming into Operation.
§ 1. This Act shall, except as otherwise in this Act provided, come into operation on the expiration of five years front the first day of June nineteen hundred and twelve.
I move to leave out "five years" and to insert "fourteen years." In this Bill the Government aim at introducing an entirely new licensing authority based wholly on the popular vote instead of on the elective principle as at present. Whether or not the result will be that a certain number of licences will be taken away, it remains, I think, for this house to see that as far as possible adequate compensation is given to those who are deprived of their licences. It is now proposed that the Bill shall come into operation at the expiration of five years, and I venture to suggest in my Amendment that the period shall be altered to fourteen years. This point turns on the question of the property in the licence. It is quite true, as the noble Earl in charge of the Bill pointed out in moving the Second Reading, that the certificates are only made out to May 28 of the year following the date on which they are issued, but it by no means follows that the receiver of the certificate is not likely to obtain a renewal. In fact, the very reverse is the case. Except in the event of default by bankruptcy or improper conduct, or in the case of the premises not being suitable, or in the case of a conviction having taken place, it is the universal rule that these licences should be renewed. So much is that the case that, when licensed premises are bought and sold, from fifteen to eighteen years of the net profits is the rate at which they change hands. These premises have been so dealt with for a considerable number of years, and men of all sorts and kinds, poor men as well as rich men, have invested their money in them, and some have sunk their little all in property of this nature.
Again, the fact that these licences are renewable is taken into account for purposes of local taxation, and it is customary for the sum which is assessed for the goodwill of the premises to be calculated by 1002 the number of years for which the lease runs. We have in Scotland County Assessment Rolls, and it is easy to see for yourselves exactly what the assessment is fixed at for all these premises, and the fact that the assessment is high and is based on the principle of the number of years of the lease shows that it is an accepted principle that, given good conduct on the part of the licensee, a licence once granted will be renewed. Then, again, we have the question of the Death Duties. The Death Ditties are based as a rule on something like seven years' profits of licensed premises. If there is no expectation or certainty of a renewal of the licence, it is very difficult to see on what grounds Death Duties are so charged. One might even say that the mere fact of five years' grace being given in the Bill as it now stands clearly shows, even if it is not, admitted by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill, that the framers of this Bill, who were private Members and not the Government, had the idea in their minds that some grace should of right be allowed to the licence-holder. Therefore it does appear that the licence-holders have a right to reasonable treatment.
The question is to fix exactly what this reasonable treatment should be, and I have inserted in my Amendment a period of fourteen years. I think it should be possible in that period for the people affected to so arrange matters as to give up their licences at the end of the period without absolute and complete loss. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, speaking at Perth in September, 1908, on the English Licensing Bill, said—The brewer, the distiller, and the owner of licensed premises were just as much entitled to justice as any one else, and the Government intended to deal fairly with them.The noble and learned Viscount went on to say that in the case of the English Bill they had fixed the limit of time at fourteen years, and that the result of their careful calculation had been that this wits a fair estimate of time within which licence-holders might recoup themselves. I ask, it being admitted that licence-holders have a claim to have their position considered, that Scottish licence-holders in the year 1912 should be given fourteen years in the same way as it was proposed in 1908 to treat English licence-holders.
1003 There is another argument in favour of extending the period now in the Bill. Should it be considered in any district that the individual licence-holder is not fairly treated, it is more than probable that the question of the reduction of licences would be decided from the point of view of justice to the licence-holder rather than of advantage to the community. If it is felt that the man holding the licence has had sufficient time in which to work out his own salvation, I think there will be much more probability of those who believe that the reduction of licences would be a good thing voting to reduce the number. After all, the question of the reduction of licences is largely in the nature of an experiment. A reduction may reduce the drunkenness with which, I regret to say, Scotland is so cursed at the present day, but we are by no means certain that that will be the result. I can only offer an opinion about a small stretch of the country that I know. I can assure your Lordships that the two most drunken districts there are those in which public-houses have been ruthlessly put down. The explanation is simple. Where an individual is unable to buy a single glass of whisky he is forced to buy a bottle. Moreover, it is not the liquor that is purchased and consumed in public-houses which causes the disgraceful drunkenness which takes place certainly during the last ten days of December, but the bottles of whisky which men carry with them, the contents of which they not only partake of themselves but share with every one they meet. My experience is that it is much more a question of the management of the public-houses and the class of liquor that is sold there than the number of licensed houses which exist in special districts. It is for these reasons that I urge that these licence-holders should be treated with justice, that they should be given time in which to work out their own salvation. I believe also that those who have studied the question carefully and consider that in any particular district it would be advisable to reduce the number of licences will be much freer to vote for such reduction if they feel that the licence-holders are given time to get back a certain portion of the capital they have invested. I beg to move.
Page 1, line 6, leave out ("five") and insert ("fourteen").—(Lord Lovat.)
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (EARL BEAUCHAMP)
I regret that the speech of the noble Lord, following that which was made by the noble Marquess upon the Motion to go into Committee, is somewhat ominous with regard to the prospects of agreement being generally reached during the Committee stage in this House. The noble Lord has moved an Amendment which makes so large an extension in the time to be given before this Bill comes into force that it goes almost beyond the limits of amendment, so great a difference does it make. But although the period in the Bill is set down at five years the licence-holders themselves have had a great deal more than five years in which to prepare for a Bill of this kind. The noble Lord himself probably remembers that the Minority Report of the Peel Commission, which was issued in 1899, recommended a period of five years for Scotland, and they said that at the end of that time a wide measure of direct popular control might be applied, under proper safeguards, to Scotland. Further, it was undoubtedly contemplated by the Minority Report that there should be considerable reductions during the fiveyears period. It is not expected that that would be the case with regard to this Bill. It is probable that during the five years the reductions would be very few in number. It is only after the five years that they would begin to take effect. It seems to be suggested that at the end of the five years all licences will be swept away. I need hardly say that none of us expect that.
Lord Lovat laid emphasis upon the fact that there is a great deal of drunkenness in no-licence areas, and he is of opinion, therefore, that in the districts where a limiting resolution is in force drunkenness will probably decrease. But the noble Lord's Amendment applies equally to the limiting resolution as it does to the no-licence resolution, and it would be quite impossible for any reduction of licences to take place on the scale contemplated by the Bill if this Amendment were carried. The matter has been before the country since the year 1899, and this Bill has been before Parliament for three years. Everybody admits—the noble Lord himself admitted—the existence of drunkenness and the urgent need for legislation. The Amendment constitutes indirect compensation of a large 1005 kind to licence-holders. His Majesty's Government do not admit the necessity for that compensation. We think five years a reasonable notice to give to licence-holders. Lord Balfour of Burleigh, in the Second Reading debate, admitted the necessity of further control and reduction, and I think on the whole, subject to Amendments, he considered that this Bill was the proper way in which to secure those ends. It would be a lamentable prospect to have to look forward to fourteen years before anything of the kind should take place, and therefore on behalf of His Majesty's Government I am afraid I must say that we are quite unable to accept this Amendment.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I hope my noble friend will not press his Amendment. I think a time limit is a very bad method of compensation. I do not propose to argue what compensation it is desirable to give to a dispossessed publican, but to prolong the time during which he might press the sale of alcoholic liquor on the public is about the worst form of compensation you could possibly devise. I do not like five years as a time limit, but to extend it to fourteen years would be a most lamentable thing. The noble Lord concluded his speech by pointing out that it was not the number of public-houses but the character of the management which is the real question we have to discuss in Committee on this Bill. Amendments will be moved later to insure the people having the opportunity of securing disinterested management for the houses in the locality in which they live, and there are Amendments which go further and propose that of the profits made by the houses placed under disinterested management a certain percentage should be used to give a money compensation to the dispossessed publican. If there is to be compensation—I do not wish to commit myself on that point at the present moment—I say that money compensation is a sound way of proceeding. But to extend the time limit, as proposed in the Amendment now before the House, is the worst possible form you could adopt for compensating a publican.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I have some hesitation in intervening but my reason for doing so is that I am one of those who are sincerely anxious to see this Bill in some form or another become law. If there is to be no compromise, no arrangement, no give and take between some of the 1006 extreme proposals in this Bill and some of the Amendments put forward, I think the prospects are not very hopeful. In my opinion the speech of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill was at least as discouraging to any one who wants to see a middle course pursued as, I might even say more discouraging than, the speech of the noble Marquess on this side of the House. The noble Earl referred to the Minority Report of Lord Peel's Commission and to the fact that this Bill had been for three years before Parliament. But, my Lords, any fair study of the Minority Report must, I think, carry with it this, that there was to be, in the opinion of the Commissioners, five years from the time when the new arrangement, whatever it is, was brought into force. You cannot say, because that Report is some years old, that licence-holders have had such and such warning that such and such things may happen. Nobody begins to make their arrangements until they see that Parliament has really carried into effect the proposals put before it. The noble Earl went on to say that every licence would not be taken away in five years. That is true. But it is no consolation to the unfortunate individual whose licence has been taken away that somebody else is allowed to keep his licence and perhaps make a profit by what I regard as the injustice of taking away by a popular vote a licence in so short a period as five years.
The noble Earl, Lord Grey, says a time limit is a bad form of compensation. I am not prepared to suggest anything better. But there are one or two considerations I want to put before the Government as against the proposal now in the Bill. I agree that to adopt this particular Amendment would postpone the whole operation of the Bill. It is not an Amendment which I could support. But I do say most earnestly from a careful study of the question that five years is too short a period for bringing in a popular vote on the subject of prohibition in any particular area. It is perfectly true, as the noble Lord who moved the Amendment said, that a licence is usually renewed except in case of misconduct. That is common ground. Nobody who supports this Bill will attempt to deny it. I say it is the inevitable result of the system which for long years has been pursued in regard to licences. You regulate the traffic. People are selected to hold licences, and it is inevitable if a man behaves 1007 himself and fulfils his contract that the licence will be renewed. It has been in the public interest that the good man should have his licence renewed. That was the only check—it may not be a satisfactory check—upon bad management. I do not put the matter as high as some people, but the fact is beyond dispute that property in these licences has been allowed to grow up. The licence is a marketable property. It is so acknowledged by the Exchequer, because they take Legacy, Exchequer, and Death Duties on the value of the licence. If they are right in taking those duties from the estate of a man who leaves the licence to a son or a widow, it seems to me perfectly idle to deny that there is a property in the licence. It is an asset, and such an asset as ought to be acknowledged fairly and properly when you are making a change of system.
I had some experience in this matter in 1903. I went very carefully under the guidance of the Law Officers of the Crown into the conditions of licence holding in Scotland. I came to the conclusion that they were not actually the same as in England, and that they varied much more as between one another in Scotland than the average English licence. I believe there are licences in the case of well-conducted houses in good districts which go up to a long period of years in value when they pass from hand to hand. There are others I know, in less orderly parts of large towns, which live from hand to mouth, so to speak, and whose transfer is not more than one year's profits or something like that. The only point I want to make at this stage of the Bill is that there is a real and substantial asset in the possession of the licence, and you will be doing an injustice, a rank injustice, if you arbitrarily take it away without due compensation to the holder in some form or another. Since the Minority Report of the Peel Commission the position of the licence-holder has been made much more onerous that it was before. He is much less able to make provision in these days on account of the extra taxation than he would have been at the time of the Peel Report. I am not able to support this Amendment as it stands, and I am disappointed with the speech of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill, because he did not seem to me to hold out any hope of a compromise on this particular point. I am not convinced myself of the fairness of the same period for total prohibition and for a 1008 reduction, and I think that is a matter well worthy of consideration.
But what I really rose to do was to make an appeal to the Government that they should hold out some hope of a reconsideration and extension of the period of five years now in the Bill. Unless they can do that, and also see their way to stand to it in another place, there is extreme fear of what I shall venture to describe as the calamity of the loss of this Bill. It is very difficult to take a moderate line in this matter. I have been in receipt of a great many communications since I made my speech on the Second Reading of the Bill. Some of the extreme advocates of prohibition, of what they call temperance, are intemperate in their language, and cannot even believe that a person who differs from them can be honest. I received one letter which, contrary to the custom of many, was signed by the writer. He wrote to me, I admit, more in sorrow than in anger. He said that he once had a great deal of respect for me, but my speech on the Second Reading of this Bill had made it entirely evaporate. He contended that there was no asset at all in a licence, and that the period of five years was too long. He went on to say—one would think that a leading elder in a Christian Church would rather disagree with the Government in giving five years; but Jacobus says, and says truly, a man's high position in the Church is no positive proof of his piety and no absolute security against perdition. Wicked men may be appointed to important posts in the services of Christ.That may be perfectly true and it may be applicable to myself, but I replied to the letter—the whole of which I have not read to the House—in courteous terms, and expressed my sympathy with the gentleman at his want of logic and his total absence of Christian charity. But that is the sort of thing with which we have to deal. I venture to say that in that sort of spirit you will never get a settlement of this matter. Unless you can make up your minds to deal fairly with those who have invested their money in a legitimate undertaking and whose property has been recognised by the Exchequer, you will never carry with you the opinion of the people who are going to vote; and unless those who are going to vote feel that their neighbours are going to get fair terms, you will not carry into effect the provisions of this Bill as they stand. It is for that reason that I appeal to His Majesty's Government to reconsider the matter with a view to meeting this undoubted difficulty.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down has rendered great service to the cause of temperance, and we know the practical character of his mind; but for once I confess I feel a little disappointment. He appealed to us to do something, but he has given singularly little light as to what he would have the House do. He starts out by saying that fourteen years will not do. He will not have the proposal in the Amendment. Indeed he could not, because the noble Lord himself, in the discussion on the English Licensing Bill, warned this House and his colleagues in the strongest way against applying English analogies to Scotland and recognising that right of property which, he said, truly existed in a qualified form in English licences but never has existed as regards Scottish licences. Then the noble Lord said, quite truly, that there is reasonable security for renewal, and that the Crown takes toll of it for the purpose of the Death Duties. That is so. But it is so of a great many things in connection with which there is no tangible legal right. When you come to that you get involved in a sea of difficulty out of which the noble Lord did not help us.
What is to be the measure in a case of this kind? Certainly not fourteen years. You could not defend that because we all know that the principle on which licences are renewed from year to year in Scotland is totally different from that which obtains in Ireland, and very different front that which obtains in England. It has been insisted time after time, and never controverted, that the licensing authorities reserve to themselves full discretion. No doubt it is true that when a man carries on his business well and in an orderly fashion there is usually a renewal. But that it not always true. The licensing authorities always have insisted that they have the fullest discretion in the matter. If that is so, you have got something; but whatever it is it is not a right of property of a kind which you can measure, and when you come to deal with a question of this kind you must look at it from a practical point of view The noble Earl, Lord Grey, in what seemed to me to be the admirable speech which he made upon this subject, said, Whatever you do, do not have a long time limit. I entirely agree with him. A long time limit is fatal to every possibility of temperance reform. On the other hand, the noble Lord 1010 opposite did not have the courage to suggest that a money compensation should be raised out of the rates or the taxes, and I gather from his manner that he would scout any such proposal.
We cannot have a time limit. We cannot have money compensation. What are we to have? The view of the Government is to have a time limit of moderate length based on what may be reasonable expectation. Lord Lovat quoted a speech of mine, made some years ago, about its being wise as well as right in those who bring forward temperance legislation to have regard to the position of others, and particularly to the position of licence-holders and brewers and distillers, who, after all, carry on their business with the sanction of the law. I entirely agree. I think you must have regard to their position, but because you ought to "have regard," do not rush into the other extreme, do not destroy every possibility of bringing forward a workable Bill by setting up a right of property which does not exist. Fourteen years is out of the question. Money compensation is equally out of the question in Scotland. What you come to is some time limit, a warning—whatever you like to call it—and the scheme of the Bill has been to take five years. I cannot agree with the argument of the noble Lord that you ought not to take into account the fact that this was the period mentioned in Lord Peel's Report a long time ago, and that this whole question has been the subject of a settled determination on the part of a large number of people that they mean to redress a great social evil and that a measure of this kind is one of the ways of doing it. Those who have taken on licences have taken them on with the knowledge that their chances of renewal were more precarious than hitherto. The Bill gives a full five years, indeed, more than five years, because a certain period will have to elapse before the machinery can be got into working order. In these circumstances I think it is reasonable to say that five years is, on the whole, just about as near as you can get to the equivalent for that chance of renewal which has existed hitherto, but which cannot be measured in terms of figures. I venture to think, having regard to the totally different position in which the title to renewal of a licence-holder in Scotland stands to that elsewhere, that five years is a reasonable time. If your Lordships tried to fix another period 1011 you could not find any better example than in the speech of the noble Lord who has just addressed the House of the extreme difficulty of doing so. On the whole we think five years a fair period, and that is why we cannot accept the longer period proposed by the noble Lord in the Amendment now before us.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
After the description given by Lord Balfour's correspondent of those who occupy offices in the Church, I feel some diffidence in intervening in this discussion; but I should like to say how cordially I support the appeal made by Lord Balfour To the Government to make the period a little more than five years. The noble and learned Viscount who has just spoken complained of Lord Balfour because he did not state the specific period of years—somewhere between the five years and the fourteen years—which he would like to see adopted. I understood my noble friend to refrain from a specific proposal with a view to leaving it to the Government to make the suggestion themselves. To many of us who are thoroughly in accord with the principles of this Bill, with the spirit in which it is drafted, and with the general intention of it, it will be exceedingly hard if we find a lack of support in many quarters where we might have hoped for it because of this provision fixing the period at five years. I believe that there are many, who would otherwise agree to the proposals in the Bill, who would feel that the bringing into operation of the machinery of the Bill in five years was not reasonable or fair. Many of us will feel deeply disappointed if, at the outset of the discussions in Committee, we are told that five years is the fullest possible time that can be allowed for reaching the very different state of things which this Bill would bring about; and speaking as one who would support the Bill in its main principles right through I feel it would be difficult to do so as readily if one were limited in that way. Personally I could not go as far as fourteen years, but I should have thought ten years a reasonable time. I do not, however, express any opinion regarding that. If the Government would hold out some hope that they would modify the term now suggested in the Bill it would relieve many of us who desire in a large way to support the Bill. Therefore I join in the appeal made by Lord Balfour.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Like my noble friend Lord Balfour, I greatly regret that the noble Earl in charge of the Bill should have charged us—I think he did so in effect—with unreasonableness because we propose to extend the somewhat ruthless time limit which the Bill at present provides. Is it not quite obvious that a time limit of this kind must be an open question, must be a question of degree? No one can say that the five years term of the Bill is calculated on a scientificbasis and is therefore absolutely right, and that fourteen years is absolutely wrong. The noble and learned Viscount who spoke afterwards on behalf of the Government said that five years was as near as His Majesty's Government could get to it. I think that shows that in his mind, at all events, this question is not one that can be determined in any very reasoned or precise manner. The position of my noble friend Lord Grey seems to me to be much more logical. He objects to a time limit altogether, and would desire to get rid of it. He says it is the worst possible form of compensation. I will not argue that question with him now. But what I wish to point out to the House is that it is at present the only form of compensation to be found in the Bill, and if the people who are to be dispossessed under this Bill are to be compensated at all it must apparently be in the form of a time limit.
The noble Earl in charge of the Bill told us that we were making too much of the grievance because it would not follow that the whole of the licences would be swept away. But surely I am right in supposing that wherever a no-licence resolution is carried the whole of the licences will disappear, and that that will happen which the noble Earl seems to think impossible. To my mind my noble friend Lord Lovat demonstrated the inadequacy of this five-years time limit. He referred—I think very properly—to the precedent of the English Bill of 1908, when, as we all remember, the Government proposed a fourteen-years time limit with a seven years "run," as it was called, afterwards—twenty-one years altogether—accompanied by compensation. The noble and learned Viscount told us that the circumstances were different in Scotland from the circumstances in this country. That, no doubt, is true. Nevertheless I venture to maintain that, so far as the principle is concerned, the two cases are at any rate analogous—that in both cases there is an 1013 interest which is a valuable interest, which is bought and sold as a valuable interest, which is taxed as a valuable interest, and which ought to be treated by any Government with at any rate a certain amount of consideration. It seems to me a monstrous thing that the same Government should tax an interest of this kind as heavily as the value of these certificates is taxed upon the assumption that there is some amount of permanency or durability about them and then should proceed to legislate with regard to them upon a wholly different basis. I feel very strongly with my noble friend Lord Balfour that in the interests of the policy which this measure embodies it is desirable that the terms upon which these people are dispossessed of something which, if not legally property, is at any rate something of a by no means negligible value, should be terms reasonably generous; and I am convinced that if we fall short in that respect the result is likely to
§ Resolved in the negative.1014
§ be to put a serious obstacle in the way of those who desire to obtain a diminution in the number of these certificates.
§ I do not desire at this moment to commit myself to the view that the fourteen years which Lord Lovat proposes is exactly the most appropriate time limit, but if he goes to a Division I shall vote with him as a protest against the exiguous character of the time limit provided by the Bill. It may be that hereafter, when the other portions of the Bill have been dealt with, we may see our way to arrive at a middle term; but meantime I shall vote in favour of my noble friend's Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether the word proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 43; Not-contents, 60.1013
|Haldane, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Ashby St. Ledgers, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Morley of Blackburn, V. (L. President.)||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Moulton, L.|
|Blythswood, L.||Reay, L.|
|Crewe, M. (L. Privy Seal)||Channing, L.||Rotherham, L.|
|Colebrooke, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||St. Davids, L.|
|Devonport, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Clantawe, L.||Shaw, L.|
|Craven, E. [Teller.]||Glenconner, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Grey, K.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Loreburn, E.||Haversham, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Russell, E.||Herschell, L. [Teller.]||Strachie, L.|
|Inchcape, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Sandhurst, L. (L. Chamberlain.)||Kinnaird, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Lucas, L.||Welby, L.|
|Armistead, L.||MacDonnell, L.||Willingdon, L.|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Northesk, E.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Plymouth, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Devonshire, D||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Lamington, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Westmeath, E.||Langford, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Lawrence, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Lovat, L. [Teller.]|
|Lansdowne, M.||Goschen, V.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Linlithgow, M.||Llandaff, V.||Monkswell, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Muskerry, L.|
|Zetland, M.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Balfour, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Plunket, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Berwick, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Brancepeth, L. (Y. Boyne.)||Rothschild, L.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Colchester, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||De Mauley, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Londesborough, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Lytton, E.||Gwydir, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Hindlip, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Minto, E.||Hothfield, L||Wynford, L.|
|Morton, E.||Hylton, L. [Teller.]||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
By the vote just taken the House has decided to leave out the word "five." We have now before us the second question as to what number of years shall be inserted. I voted with the majority against the retention of five years, but I frankly say that I think fourteen years is too long a period. If Lord Lovat's Amendment were agreed to in its entirety it would put off the whole operation of the Bill for fourteen years. I do not think that can really be intended, but that would be the effect of inserting the word "fourteen" in this particular place. I have no authority to speak for anybody but myself, but I am inclined to make a renewed appeal to the Government not to confront us with an absolute non possumus in this matter. If it is open to me to do so—and on this I should like the opinion of the Lord Chairman—I shall vote against the insertion of the word "fourteen" for the purpose of inserting "ten." I further say that it seems to me illogical to bring both options in necessarily at the same time, whether it is five, ten, or fourteen years. Why should not a longer period be given to prepare for a total prohibition vote and a shorter period where there is to be only a reduction in licences?
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The Question before the House is the Amendment moved by Lord Lovat to insert the word "fourteen." I think Lord Balfour would be in order in moving to amend the Amendment by substituting "ten."
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I should like to ask the noble Earl at the Table whether he is quite clear that it is possible to take this particular course. I can quite understand that before the Division took place it would have been a simple and easy course for Lord Balfour to have moved an Amendment to the Amendment proposed by Lord Lovat. But that Amendment, as I understand, has been carried and forms part of the Bill, and I should not have supposed that at this stage without further notice it was open to the noble Lord to move to amend it. I am merely asking for information and am quite open to conviction in the matter.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
What your Lordships decided by the Division which has just taken place was to leave out the 1016 word "five." If it would be more convenient to your Lordships now to negative "fourteen" and insert "ten," that would be in accordance with the practice of your Lordships' House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I venture with much diffidence to make a suggestion to the House. His Majesty's Government have given no indication of a desire to accept any figure other than "five." It seems to me that this question of compensation ought to be considered as a whole. There are other Amendments on the Paper which certainly affect the question of compensation, and it occurs to me that we should be in a better position to deal with this point of the time limit when we know how we stand with regard to the other Amendments that will come before the House. Personally I think it would be a relief to some of us, having struck the five-years limit out of the Bill and agreed provisionally to put in its place a fourteen-years limit, if we could reserve the further consideration of the limit question until the discussion on the Bill has gone further.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (VISCOUNT MORLEY)
Surely the noble Marquess is mistaken. The House has not agreed to substitute "fourteen" for "five." All that has been agreed upon is that "five" is not to be the figure.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Your Lordships have struck out "five," and you must put something in its place. The Government have refused to give us any lead on the subject. We do not wish to be bound to "fourteen" when subsequent opportunities for discussing the point will arise. I think we shall be in a much better position to determine the precise figure when we have gone through the Committee stage of the Bill. The straightforward thing would be to carry through the Amendment now before the House and insert "fourteen," and consider the matter again when we come to the Report stage.
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
Your Lordships have agreed to strike out the word "five," and the proposal now before us is that the word "fourteen" should be inserted. You might, of course, negative that proposal, but the difficulty 1017 of that mode of dealing with the question is that you might have an endless series of figures suggested for consideration. I think the simpler course would be to propose an Amendment to the Amendment to the effect that "ten" should take the place of "fourteen." If that is resolved in the negative, then "fourteen" would take its place in the clause instanter.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
It does not seem any use at the present stage to make a further appeal to the Government to assist us in this matter. I only rise to express the hope that, whatever course the House decides to adopt, we shall have another opportunity of voting on the figure to be inserted in the place of "five," in order that it may be possible for those who, like Lord Balfour and myself, voted with the majority to strike out five years, to make clear that we did so because we thought five years too brief a period and not because we necessarily accepted fourteen years. If Lord Balfour moves to substitute ten years for fourteen years I should vote for that Amendment. If, on the other hand, we are first asked to decide on the question of inserting "fourteen," I shall vote against that. But I hope that, whatever course is adopted, there will be an opportunity afforded of making the matter perfectly clear in the Lobby.
it is clear that there are two limits needed, one for a no-licence resolution and another for the rest of the Bill. You do not meet that point by merely putting in one number; you must put in two numbers. I gather that Lord Balfour would not be at all shocked at a limit of six years for the ordinary parts of the Bill if he secured ten years in the case of a no-licence resolution.
I suggest that for the present "fourteen" should be provisionally inserted, and we could consider on the Report stage the precise number of years to be finally put into the Bill.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I am prepared to do what is most for the convenience of the House, but I wish to guard against being quoted as in favour of a period of fourteen years. I hope that whatever we do—and it does not seem to me to matter, if it is provisional, whether "fourteen" or "ten" is inserted—it will be considered whether there might not be a different period for the Bill coming into 1018 operation in the case of total prohibition. I will not divide the House to-day, on the clear understanding that "fourteen" is regarded as provisional, and that a subsequent opportunity will be afforded of making another proposal when we see how the discussion goes on the other clauses.
§ On Question, That the word "fourteen" be here inserted?
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I move to omit from Clause 1 the words "first day of June, 1912" in order to insert "passing thereof." I do not understand why the words which I propose to omit appear in the Bill. I understand that they were not in the Bill last year when it was a private Members' Bill, but the Government after accepting the Bill appear to have made this alteration themselves. It was always customary that an Act of Parliament should come into force on the day of its passing or at some later date, and never until a year or two ago, have we had instances of Bills coming into force before they have passed. In this particular case the reason is obvious, because the Secretary for Scotland admitted in the other House that the first of June was inserted for the purpose of getting round the Parliament Act. The Lord Chancellor said just now that this Bill would not come into force for nearly six years owing to elections and other matters of that sort, but he forgot to notice the fact that according to Clause 1, as it now stands, six months of the time have already run. I submit that it is contrary to the practice of Parliament to make a Bill retrospective, and for that reason I propose to strike out these words and to substitute "passing thereof."
Page 1, leave out line 7 and insert ("passing thereof").—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
After the explanation given by the noble Earl I can hardly expect your Lordships to agree to the Amendment. Some of your Lordships have already expressed the opinion that fourteen years is too long. The noble Earl evidently contemplates the use of the Parliament Act in connection with this Bill. In those circumstances it would appear that instead of having a time limit of fourteen years the licence-holders would get sixteen years.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I had nothing in contemplation; it was the Secretary for Scotland who had something in contemplation.
Lord Camperdown cannot quite seriously have considered what he said. He stated that it was not usual to make the operation of a Bill retrospective. Does the noble Earl realise that what is proposed now that Lord Lovat's Amendment has been agreed to is that the Bill should not be operative for thirteen and a-half years from now?
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
What I said was that the Bill as it now stands conies into operation on "the first day of June, 1912," instead of at the time of its passing, and in that respect it is retrospective.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ Poll of Electors on Resolutions Submitted.
§ 2.—(1) If, in the manner hereinafter provided, a requisition demanding a poll under this Act in any area is lodged with the local authority, the local authority shall cause a poll of the electors in such area (hereinafter called "a poll") to be taken in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
§ (2) The question to be submitted to the electors at a poll shall be the adoption in and for such area of (a) a no-change resolution, or (b) a limiting resolution, or (c) a no-licence resolution.
§ (3) On a poll in any area—
- (a) if three-fifths at least in number of the votes recorded are in favour of a no-licence resolution, and not less than thirty per cent. of the electors for such area on the register have voted in favour thereof, such resolution shall be deemed to be carried; or if
- (b) a majority of the votes recorded are in favour of a limiting resolution, and not less than thirty per cent. of the electors for such area on the register have voted in favour thereof, such resolution shall be deemed to be carried; or if
- (c) a majority of the votes recorded are in favour of a no-change resolution, or if no other resolution is carried, a no-change resolution shall be deemed to be carried; and
§ (4) An elector shall not be entitled to vote for more than one of the resolutions submitted at the poll, but if a no-licence resolution be not carried, 1020 the votes recorded in favour of such resolution shall be added to those recorded in favour of the limiting resolution, and shall be deemed to have been recorded in favour thereof.
§ (5) Any such resolution if carried shall remain in force until the resolution is repealed or superseded as hereinafter provided.
§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN had on the Paper an Amendment to amend subsection (1) by omitting the words "lodged with" and inserting the words "found by." The noble Earl said: This Amendment and the one standing next in my name depend on whether or not your Lordships accept the Amendment which I have on the Paper to Clause 5, and therefore it would probably be more convenient that I should postpone the consideration of these two Amendments until after that clause has been taken.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I was hoping that I might have been able to meet the wishes of the noble Earl with regard to these two Amendments, but if he does not wish to move them there is no more to be said.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
In that case I will move them and I hope that when we get to Clause 5 the noble Earl will follow out the consequence of what he has done and accept my Amendments in gross.
Page 1, line 9, leave out ("lodged with") and insert ("found by").—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Clause 5 is concerned with a great many other subjects besides the one which is now before us, and I think it well that I should explain to the House what will be the effect, taken by itself, of the Amendment now moved. By the proposal in the Bill as it stands the inspection of the register may be made by any elector, and if the requisition is defective the poll may be declared void and a forged signature or the defacing of a requisition is subject to heavy penalties. Already in the Bill we have provided against the improper use of the power of requisition. The object of the noble Earl's Amendment is to provide a method by direct enactment for ascertaining whether a requisition is duly signed. The Bill as it stands provides that the Secretary for Scotland shall be the authority to make regulations to provide for the procedure 1021 being correct. The noble Earl, as an alternative, suggests that this should be done by direct enactment and that the duty of seeing that the requisition is in order should be laid on the local authority. Under the Bill as it stands the Secretary for Scotland would have to issue regulations. Under the noble Earl's Amendment the local authority would be empowered to do it, and to that Amendment I am quite willing to agree without prejudice to anything which may happen at a later stage.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 1, line 10, after the first ("authority") insert ("to have been club signed").—(The Earl of Camperdown.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH moved to omit from subsection (2) the words "a no-change resolution," and to insert "a disinterested management resolution." The noble Lord said: This Amendment raises a large and important point of policy, and it will probably be convenient to take that point of policy and argue it on this Amendment. I am in favour of the additional option to the electors of what is known as disinterested management. There is an Amendment which follows immediately afterwards in the name of the noble Marquess on the Front Bench (Lord Salisbury) which is also in principle for disinterested management, but he proposes to make a less change in form upon the Bill than I do. As I understand his Amendment, he would put an additional option into the Schedule so that there would be four options instead of three. If your Lordships refer to the Schedule of the Bill you will find that as it stands the voter may vote for one of three alternatives. He may vote for no-change; he may vote for a reduction; or he may vote for prohibition in the particular area with which he is concerned. I have never been able to understand what the object of the no-change resolution is, and I hesitated to put a fourth option in the Schedule mainly for the reason that I thought it would introduce undue complication in the voting. Therefore the proposal in my Amendment is to change the form of the Schedule. There will still only be three options before the voter, but those three will be disinterested management, a reduction of licences, or total prohibition.1022
§ I suggest this change, that each voter shall have the power of voting for or against, and, of course, if he votes against all the three options that is equivalent to a no-change resolution. On that point the difference, while material in form, is not, I venture to suggest to the House, very great in substance. There are other points in the Amendment of the noble Marquess, Iris form of disinterested management and its details, which are very different from what I suggest. But in this preliminary explanation of the particular issue which is before the House I shall not discuss the details of the noble Marquess's Amendment, but endeavour to explain in as few and as simple words as I can the option for disinterested management which I propose to insert, and my reasons for doing it. In the discussions on this matter I hope those concerned will remember that under the Schedule in the Bill each voter would have only one vote—namely, in favour of the particular option. In my proposal he would have a vote for or against, thereby making a more distinct record of the opinions of those who vote. The form of ballot paper which I suggest is not altogether new. It is nearly the same as that proposed in a three-fold option Bill brought into the House of Commons so long ago as 1899 by Mr. Parker Smith.
§ I pass from questions of machinery to the merits of the proposal of disinterested management. In the first place, it is not municipalisation of the liquor trade. It has sometimes been misrepresented as being the same as that, and people have argued against it on that ground and for the reason that it would practically make the whole community, whatever their opinions are about the lawfulness or unlawfulness of drinking at all, partisans and parties to the sale of drink. The proposal I venture to put before the House avoids that danger. The public as a constituency would have no more concern with the liquor traffic than they have at the present time. All that would be done would be that a company of disinterested unselfish persons would be formed to manage the traffic which every one admits requires careful management and regulation, upon unselfish and disinterested lines, and I respectfully suggest to the House that this avoids the danger present in any individual interest in a licence that there would be undue or extravagant inducements put before customers to take more than they would 1023 otherwise desire to take. In other words, if I may repeat one suggestion I made on the Second Reading of the Bill, the interest of the community is essentially different from and opposite to the interest of the individual seller of drink. The individual licence-holder has a great temptation as a man of business, as a man who wants to make his livelihood, to sell as much as he can of the particular article in which he trades. I do not blame him; it is natural; but it is not in the interests of the community that that sale should be so pushed. If people want it, this is a free country and in my opinion they ought to have it. I will resist to the last any control over what I regard as a legitimate thing. Undue control and the prevention of getting what one desires seems to me an interference with what is legitimate freedom which is in itself indefensible. At the same time I am as anxious as anybody can be to do away with illegitimate inducements to people to take more drink than they would naturally do of their own accord.
§ We must assume in this matter, or at least I must for the purposes of my argument, that there will be public-houses. We are far away from the time when you can hope to prohibit them altogether. It seems to me an idle and foolish idea that you can attain to that within any measurable time. If that is so, then the best interest of the community is surely to see that they are as legitimately, as unselfishly, and as well managed as possible. The licensing authority would remain, and would regulate these disinterested management houses in the same way as it regulates ordinary public-houses. The houses would be open to the police, and there would be none of the interference with private premises which is involved in control of clubs. The locality, under my proposal, would have no direct financial interest in the amount of drink that was sold. The accounts of the company would be open to a Government audit. I am bound to say that during the last few years this idea has been gaining ground. I have received many communications from those whose opinions I value in favour of the idea. But the difficulty of bringing it into operation is very great, because unless you purchase an existing house at an extravagant price or go to the licensing authority and increase the number of houses you cannot get a footing for disinterested management. Our idea is, in 1024 cases where the people are willing that the experiment should be tried, that we should substitute this class of management for—using, I hope, not an undue term of reproach—the selfish management which now exists. It has support from the Minority Report of the Peel Commission, and it has the support of a Committee of your Lordships' House so long ago as 1879. I will not quote the words, because I do not wish to weary the House by so doing. After all, what is proposed is only an option, and I think I may appeal in the presence of the Government to a most notable memorial presented to the Prime Minister from Scotland a week or two ago, to which there were thousands of signatures of some of the most respected men all over Scotland, in favour of having this Amendment inserted in the Bill.
§ Now, my Lords, I touch upon another point as to which there may be a certain amount of controversy. In my opinion to give this scheme a fair chance you must, in the district in which it is established, give it a practical monopoly. I do not say that you must give it a monopoly as opposed to hotels and restaurants, which cater for a different class of custom, but I do think if it is to have a fair chance it must have a monopoly in the area of retail sale over the counter of ordinary spirits and spirituous liquors. I point out also that it would extinguish—and here is another controversial point—what are known as grocers' licences. There are more of these licences in proportion to the population in Scotland than anywhere else, and I am bound to say that I regard grocers' licences as one of the most pernicious forms of licences. I see no reason why the grocer should sell spirits any more than the butcher or the baker, and from what I hear the sale of spirits by grocers, in the means afforded to women secretly to get these things to a greater extent than they ought to have them, has been productive of a great deal of evil. Therefore it is one of the advantages to my mind that if we could establish this form of disinterested management of public-houses it would put an end in a large measure to one of the worst aspects of the grocers' licence.
§ I again touch upon a point of controversy. If disinterested management is to be brought in after the period, whenever it is, when total prohibition is enacted, 1025 then I can see no reason why the disinterested management people should have to pay compensation. If, on the other hand, the suggestion which I ventured to make a few moments ago was to bear fruit, and there was to be an option given for a reduction of licences at a less distant period than for total prohibition, and if there was also an option at the same time to bring in disinterested management, I cannot myself see any reason why those who become responsible for disinterested management houses, or disinterested management companies, should not pay their fair quota of compensation to those whom they dispossess. In that matter, however, I speak for myself, and I merely say that because I want to make a real effort to convince the House that I want to be as fair as possible to all the interests concerned. There are details involved as to certificates and the keeping of accounts, the control which the Government, through the Secretary for Scotland or otherwise, would have to exercise, and other matters that do not touch upon at this moment because I am not now moving that Amendment. The question we have to debate on this occasion is whether or not we are to have a disinterested management option in the Schedule, and, if so, in what way it is to be inserted. I am perfectly aware that it is a controversial point, but I am bound to say on the whole, having regard to the balance of opinion, that it seems to me the time has come when the country should be given a real opportunity of saying whether they will accept this proposal. If they want it they can have it under my proposal; if they do not want it, then they will not vote for it. I cannot see that any interest is harmed by the proposal I make, and I am sanguine enough to believe that this is the one hope of rapid temperance reform in the real sense.
Page 1, line, 11 and 15, leave out ("a no-change resolution") and insert ("a disinterested management resolution").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I was anxious, if your Lordships are going to discuss on this Amendment and at once the whole system of disinterested management, that the various schemes which have been put before the House on the Order Paper should be submitted to your Lordships, and that we should discuss the matter as 1026 a whole. That seems to me a much more desirable course than taking the single Amendment of the noble Lord opposite and discussing it. In those circumstances it would probably be more convenient to your Lordships if we now listened to the arguments in support of the other Amendment in favour of disinterested management.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There seems to me to be an extraordinary reluctance on the part of His Majesty's Government to commit themselves to anything. It appears to me an astonishing way for the noble Earl to treat your Lordships' House, that on every Amendment he stands back and waits for others to indicate to him the line that ought to be taken. Everybody must admit that my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh moved his Amendment with the greatest moderation with a desire to provoke a perfectly temperate and non-controversial discussion, and with a view to helping His Majesty's Government to pass a good Bill. My noble friend laid a good many facts before your Lordships and appealed to many authorities, and he did not, as far as I made out, desire in any way to make a controversial speech. But for some reason or other the noble Earl in charge of the Bill prefers to reserve himself for a later moment. With most of what my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh said he knows very well that I agree. He knows that I and those who sit on this Bench beside me are also believers in disinterested management, and as far as I know none of us have ever said anything inconsistent with that view. We believe that the time has come when the effort which has been made for many years towards disinterested management in a spasmodic sort of way should receive a more official sanction, and we hope that before this Bill passes into law an Amendment in that direction may be inserted.
I do not think that your Lordships would wish me to repeat the arguments of my noble friend, because I should only say far less efficiently what he has just stated, and there is no reason why I should repeat it. I desire, therefore, in one sentence to associate myself with most of what my noble friend has said. But when we come to the precise proposal which he has made I see considerable difficulties, and we have thought it right to put another 1027 proposal before your Lordships' House. In the first place, I do not think my noble friend's Amendment, if he will allow me to say so, errs on the side of simplicity. It is very elaborate, and it makes a radical change in the drafting of the Bill. I think that is unnecessary. No one will accuse me of being too respectful to the Bills of His Majesty's Government, but I do not think it is necessary that we should make changes unless they are changes of really considerable importance, and many of my noble friend's changes seem to me to be not really necessary, although he may think them advisable for the object he has in view. I take, for example, his method of voting in his Schedule. He thinks that he would get a truer picture of the popular view by means of his Schedule, but I confess that if I were an elector presented with his Schedule I should feel a great deal of difficulty as to what the result of my voting would be. I do not profess to be particularly intelligent, but I dare say I am as intelligent as many electors are, and I should find great difficulty in that respect. Every elector is to have six votes, for or against any one of the three propositions. [Several noble LORDS: Three votes.] No; he has six alternatives which lie may adopt, with three votes. That is an accurate way of putting it, I think. I confess I should not be at all sure what the result would be if I voted with a voting paper of that kind. If, for example, I vote "Aye" in favour of a limiting resolution and there were no limiting resolution, I have no idea what the result of that would be. [A noble LORD: A spoilt paper.] Why should it be a spoilt paper? The Bill says that every elector must indicate his vote by placing a cross opposite the resolution for which he votes, but no elector may place more than one cross opposite any one resolution. I do not propose to put more than one cross opposite any one resolution. I propose to put one cross opposite the limiting resolution, and one opposite the no-change resolution, both for. What is the effect of that? I may be very stupid, but I confess I do not understand it.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
It seems to me the effect is perfectly clear. When the votes are counted those resolutions which get a majority of the votes will be carried into effect, and those which have not a majority will not be carried into effect.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But as you may vote in all three cases it seems to me that the elector who would have to choose where he would put his crosses would be placed in a position of very great difficulty. And let me say this. If, after considerable discussion in this House, we did arrive at what actually would take place that really is not sufficient. You have to have something which is quite clear to the elector, and unless the thing is perfectly simple and clear for him to understand I submit that in this, after all, very small matter of machinery my noble friend's Amendment is not well drawn. I rather gathered from him—I am sure I do not desire to misinterpret him for a moment—that he is quite open to accept the other form of voting, namely, the voting which I suggest—that there should be four options, and in the ordinary way the elector should be asked to vote for any single one of the four he desires, and that that should be the only alternative open to him. That seems a simple matter. My first reason, therefore, for not quite agreeing with my noble friend is that I think his Amendment is too complicated.
I think that in other respects my noble friend's proposal goes a little too far—not too far, let me say, in the case of new licences. With regard to all licences granted after the passing of the Act I think he and I are absolutely agreed that where the electors have chosen the disinterested management option all new licences should be granted subject to disinterested management. That is a very large measure of agreement. In all growing neighbourhoods where this option is adopted henceforward every new licence would be granted subject to the condition of disinterested management. That seems to me a very important point upon which we are entirely agreed.
Now I come to deal with the much more difficult question of the existing certificates, as I ought to call them, in respect to Scotland. What ought to be done in the case of existing certificates? In the first place, I am not quite sure whether my noble friend and I are agreed or not as to whether the authorised companies should be called upon to make any payment. I think I gathered from my noble friend that lie was not averse to asking them to make a certain payment. If that be so, that is another point of agreement between 1029 us, because in my Amendment, differing in that respect from the Amendment of my noble friend, I provide that the disinterested companies should be asked to pay what they reasonably can pay for the privilege—I use "privilege" in its technical sense—of having a sort of monopoly, a limited monopoly as I shall show in a moment, for the sale of intoxicating liquors. Why should they not pay? I think they ought to pay. Let them get the proper interest on the money of the shareholders, the 4 per cent. with regard to which both he and I are agreed. Let them have a sufficient sum of money laid by in order to make a proper reserve fund—that is provided for in both Amendments. But after that it seems only reasonable that they should pay something out of the surplus profits which they earn towards carrying into effect this Act. Not only is it fair in itself, but it would mitigate to some extent the necessary susceptibilities of the dispossessed publican. After all whatever view we may have in this House and in Parliament generally of the proper treatment of publicans, Ave must allow that the publican is entitled to a certain feeling of grievance at being thrown out of his means of livelihood by the operation of this Bill. Personally I think he has got a very strong grievance, and I think all of your Lordships will agree that it is very natural that he should feel a certain amount of irritation at his fate. I think he would feel that it was only reasonable, if he is to be dispossessed, that out of their surplus profits his supplanters—for that is the sort of word he would use—should pay something towards mitigating the blow. There should be some relief granted to him by those who are going to take his place out of the profits which they are going to make from his business, but I do not propose that they should be asked to pay anything unduly. I am quite aware that the disinterested management people will not make so good a business of it as the dispossessed publican. Obviously they will not. It is for that very reason that we want to put this disinterested management in—namely, in order that they shall not press the trade in the way in which the publican naturally, from his point of view, does press the trade. But still they can pay something, and there is no reason in the world why they should not pay something towards mitigating what must be to the dispossessed publican a serious grievance. Upon that there is no very 1030 great difference between me and my noble friend, although he does not provide for it in his Amendment and I do provide for it in mine.
Then comes the question of whether the option is to involve an absolute monopoly, or only a limited monopoly, of a restricted trade. My noble friend says it must be all or nothing. I confess I rather shrink from so extreme a course. I do not think it is likely to be very successful, or to recommend itself to a great body of reasonable men, for, after all, we know very little as to the financial success of these disinterested management companies. They have been in existence a long time and have had a certain amount of success in England, but I do not think any of your Lordships, except one or two noble friends of mine that I see here who have a special knowledge of the subject, are in a position to say for certain that any of these disinterested companies are an assured success. I hear a noble friend of mine say that in one county in England they are a failure. At any rate, they are upon their trial, and I think when a movement is in that position it is not reasonable to say to the electors of a particular locality, "You are in favour of disinterested management, but you do not know much about the companies who offer to give you disinterested management; you do not know much about their financial success or their management success; but if you choose disinterested management at all you must have all or nothing." Surely that is not a proposition which is likely to commend itself to any body of our countrymen, whether they live North or South of the Tweed. They are almost certain to say in the great majority of cases, "We cannot take so extreme a course as that; we shall be very glad to see this experiment of disinterested management tried; we shall be glad to give it official sanction and give it the power of the law behind it in order to bring it into being; but if we are to say straight off that we will abolish every other means for the provision of this necessary refreshment except such as can be obtained by disinterested management, without knowing anything about the subject, then you will not get it at all." If you try to press it intemperately and drive it, as it were, down the throats of the people you will not get it in that way. Therefore I suggest that it is a far wiser thing, wiser in the interests of the movement itself, to allow it to be 1031 tentative. What is the objection to that The objection, so far as I know, is this, that those who are in favour of the extreme form of my noble friend's Amendment are not willing to trust the licensing authority to strike the particular line to the extent to which the experiment ought to be carried. Why should you not trust them? Do you distrust the licensing authority as a matter of fact? I ask noble Lords from Scotland, do they distrust the licensing authority there? Have they found that those authorities are unwilling to interpret what is the public opinion in Scotland? I feel a certain diffidence in speaking on Scottish matters because I have no immediate acquaintance with Scotland, although I have a profound respect for that country, but I believe it to be true that the licensing authority there is already more or less a popular body. A large part of it is subject to direct or indirect election.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
The noble Marquess will excuse my saying that in some burghs the licensing authority is entirely in the hands of the justices of the peace. In those burghs in which licensing is in the hands of the town council the town council are, of course, elected, and they appoint the bailies. The bailies are the equivalent of justices of the peace, so to speak, Although the licensing authority is to a certain extent popularly elected there is the intervening secondary election, for the council elects the bailies.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am quite aware that there is the element of secondary election, but in respect to this Bill the burghs are much more important than the counties. No doubt it is in the burghs that the evils which this Bill is directed against mostly exist, and no doubt the licensing authority there is subject more or less to the wishes of public opinion. Would it not be a perfectly reasonable system that you should submit an option to the locality so that the electors may determine whether they wish to have this experiment tried or not, and then the precise details of the extent to which the experiment should be tried should be left in the hands of the licensing authority? That appears to me to be a perfectly reasonable system. I think I have said enough to show both the points where my Amendment agrees with my noble friend's and where it differs. My Amendment is a 1032 much more tentative Amendment than that of my noble friend, and I think it is likely to be much more successful. Moreover, it is much fairer, for I provide the payment of money which his Amendment does not provide. Lastly, it is much simpler. On those three grounds—that it is more likely to be successful and that it is fairer and simpler—I recommend it with great diffidence to your Lordships' House as a suitable alternative to the Amendment of my noble friend.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, your Lordships are now in possession of the arguments in support of the two alternative proposals which have been placed on the Order Paper for the purpose of introducing the principle of disinterested management into this Bill—the proposal of my noble friend Lord Balfour and that of my- noble friend on the Front Opposition Bench, Lord Salisbury. As I have for many years taken a deep and active interest in the application of the principle of disinterested management under very limited conditions to the public-houses in this country I desire to say one word to the House upon this question. There are really two points raised by the Amendment we are now discussing—the question of the principle of disinterested management as a method of controlling the liquor trade, and the question of how, if we approve that principle, it should be applied and introduced into this Bill. I do not think it necessary to say very much about the principle, because so far as this debate has gone there seems to be very general agreement that the principle of disinterested management has a great deal to recommend it.
But at the same time as it is a new principle which has never yet been introduced into the laws of this country and into our official licensing system I should like to say one word in passing about the main principle. Our opinions as to the merits and demerits of that principle depend upon what we look to the principle to do for us, because if it is supposed by anybody that the introduction of the principle of disinterested management is going effectively to reduce and abolish all drunkenness it is quite obvious that those expectations will be disappointed, and if we look to the countries in which this principle has been adopted we should be bound to confess that the principle has been a hopeless 1033 failure. But the fact is that this principle has never been introduced with that object, and it is no more possible for the principle of disinterested management to abolish drunkenness than it is to abolish drunkenness by any other administrative machinery. So long as human weaknesses and appetites are what they are to-day you will never be able to abolish drunkenness by administrative machinery. The only thing claimed for disinterested management is that it is a better system for controlling the liquor trade than that of the licensing of private individuals which we have in the country to-day. From that point of view I claim that it has been an unqualified success in the only countries in which it has really been carried out.
My noble friend who spoke just now said we knew very little about this principle of disinterested management. It is quite true that in this country we know very little about it because it has never been really completely established. Thanks to the wisdom and energy and enthusiasm of Lord Grey and of the Bishop of Chester and others who introduced the principle into this country under what we know as Trust public-houses it has been tried partially in scattered districts and under very hampering conditions. But in order to see how the principle works one must look to the country in which it has been applied without those hampering conditions and on a general scale. Therefore if we turn to Norway and Sweden, the home of this principle—the only countries in which it has been fully applied—I claim that in those countries it has been universally accepted as a better alternative method of controlling the retail liquor sale than the licensing of private individuals which we have in this country to-day and which existed in Norway and Sweden before the principle of disinterested management was introduced. In Norway and Sweden there are temperance societies, the Good Templars, the Rechabites, and other societies, the members of which believe in the total prohibition of the sale of liquor and look forward to that as the ultimate ideal of any temperance policy. They hold, in fact, precisely the same views on the question of temperance as do the Good Templars and Rechabites in this country, and yet all the members of those societies in Norway and Sweden, although they would certainly wish to abolish the disinterested management companies because 1034 they would like to abolish all facilities for obtaining liquor upon licensed premises, although they are opposed to the disinterested management system in that sense, they are all agreed in preferring it to the system which prevailed beforehand, and you will not find one of those societies who would be in favour of doing away with the system of controlling the trade through disinterested management companies and going back to the old system of private licensing. I claim, therefore, that in those countries where it has been tried, whatever may be the differences of opinion as to its merits as a final measure of temperance reform, by universal consent it is admitted that this system is preferable to one of private licensing such as we have in this country.
Since this method has come to occupy a recognised place in the policy of temperance reform I hold that it is desirable that it should be introduced as one of the options given in this Bill. It is a recognised system in the policy of temperance reform. This Bill is a Local Option Bill; it professes to give to the locality the right of settling for itself by the voles of the majority in what way the liquor trade in that locality shall be controlled; and I say, when speaking of local option and giving to the locality the right of controlling the liquor traffic themselves, to refuse the right of trying this experiment which has been carried out with success in other parts of the world and which has been carried out in a less degree in this country—to talk of local option and to deny that particular form of local option is simply to misuse language. Whatever our opinions may be as to whether this is a good or bad system we ought, I think, to be agreed that if you are to have local option at all the locality ought to have the right of voting for this particular form of management of the liquor trade.
Now I come to the machinery whereby, if we agree to the principle, it can be incorporated in this Bill. There are two proposals—those of my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh and my noble friend Lord Salisbury. They differ in two respects. They differ partly in the form of ballot paper by which the electors are to introduce the principle. I pass by that for a moment, because, after all, it is a matter of machinery, and I do not think that the change in the ballot paper made 1035 by Lord Balfour's Amendment is at all an essential part of his Amendment. The other difference is this, that by Lord Balfour's Amendment the principle of disinterested management will be made a real option—that is to say, the locality shall have the right of voting for or against this particular principle, but if they vote in favour of it then it shall be applied to the licences in the district just as a no-licence resolution will be applied to all the licences in the district covered by the machinery of the Bill. But my noble friend Lord Salisbury's Amendment provides that if a locality votes in favour of the principle of disinterested management then it shall be left to the Licensing Court to put that resolution into operation according to its own discretion and to the extent which it thinks desirable. In other words, if a disinterested management resolution were carried at a poll the only result which might happen would be that the Licensing Court would apply the principle of disinterested management to one public-house in the district.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
Quite so; it might, of course, apply it to all. My noble friend says that our objection to his form of Amendment is due to the fact that we do not trust the Licensing Court to exercise its discretion as to the extent to which this principle should be put into operation. My objection goes very much further than that. I object to it in the first instance because it is wholly inconsistent with the principle of local option. Local option may be a good thing or a bad thing, but it is the principle of this Bill, and I think it is wholly inconsistent with the principle of the Bill to give the locality a vote unless that vote is thereby going to be carried into operation if cast in a certain direction. My further objection to it is that it is impossible, as I said just now, to carry out the principle of disinterested management effectively unless it is carried out with a monopoly in a certain limited area. I say it is impossible to do that because at the present moment the experience of the Trust companies in England shows that many changes and alterations in the management of a particular public-house might be very desirable in the public interests or in the interests of temperance but impossible to be carried 1036 out so long as that house is conducted in competition with a number of trade houses in the immediate neighbourhood. I have in my mind at this moment a particular Trust public-house in a slum street in a small country town, and in that same street there are ten or twelve ordinary public-houses belonging to the trade. It is impossible for the Trust public-house, the disinterested management public-house, to really create any impression whatever upon the public opinion of that street or to give an adequate example of the principle of disinterested management in operation when it has to compete with these totally differing conditions, over which it has no control, in the houses immediately surrounding it. I say, therefore, it is not merely a question of the extent to which this principle should be applied.
The root objection to Lord Salisbury's Amendment is that you cannot apply disinterested management satisfactorily at all unless it is applied with a monopoly in a limited area. Then I am told, "Oh, but that is a very large order, and more than this House will be prepared to grant." I could understand that objection if we were asking at one fell swoop to place all licences in Scotland under disinterested management. But that is not what we are asking. We are merely saying that in certain country districts or in a certain burgh, after the inhabitants by a very large majority have decided in favour of this principle, it should be applied to all the licences in that district or in that burgh, and if we are to be told that that is such a large order that it cannot possibly be passed by Parliament., then I confess I despair of ever carrying any temperance reform at all which will affect the existing licensing system. To say that you cannot apply a change of this sort even in a small locality after the votes of the population have been recorded in favour of it is simply to saddle us for all time with the existing licensing system with all its evils. I contend that it is really making a very small demand upon Parliament and asking for a very small concession to say that this principle, if it is an experiment which ought to be tried, should be tried under favourable circumstances and that it should be tried in these small districts.
There are two other aspects in which I distinctly prefer the proposal of my noble friend Lord Balfour. As regards the 1037 arrangement of the ballot paper I confess that I like his arrangement for this reason, that it seems to me quite unnecessary and contrary to precedent to give people a vote in favour of maintaining the status quo. That is in effect exactly the same as if a noble Lord in this House were to move as an Amendment to any Motion the direct negative. When any Amendment which is in fact a direct negative is moved we are always told, either in this House or in the other House of Parliament, that the proper way is to vote against the Motion. That is, I maintain, in a poll of this sort the proper way of declaring yourself in favour of a no-change resolution—namely, that you should vote directly against the proposed change, and I see no reason whatever for introducing the no-change option. However, that is simply a matter of machinery, and I am sure my noble friend will agree with me that it is not an essential part of his Amendment. The machinery could be carried even if that were altered awl disinterested management were introduced as a fourth option instead of as a third.
I object to the limiting proposal contained in my noble friend Lord Salisbury's Amendment because in my opinion it does not really give us anything more than we have to-day. It is quite open to any Licensing Court at the present time, if a Trust company were to come forward and offer compensation to the dispossessed publican, to take away an existing licence and give it to the disinterested management company. So far as new licences are concerned, of course both Amendments are of precisely the same character; but in so far as concerns existing licences and the machinery for transferring the existing licensing system to one under disinterested management, I see in the Amendment of my noble friend very little advantage that would be gained over the existing powers possessed by the Licensing Court. Lastly, there is a matter of detail which I think has not yet been touched upon and which constitutes a difference between the two Amendments. It is that under Lord Balfour's proposals the surplus profits of the disinterested management company are to be devoted to a national fund, whereas under Lord Salisbury's proposals they are to be spent for the benefit of the locality in accordance with a scheme approved by the county council or the town council. In the evolution of this 1038 question of disinterested management it has come to be an accepted fact that the surplus profits of the disinterested management company ought to be devoted to a national fund and spent upon public interests generally, and should not be spent in promoting the interests of the locality from which the funds are derived. When the Gothenburg system, which, after all, is the basis of what we are discussing to-night, was first introduced into Sweden the principle of Lord Salisbury's Amendment was first accepted, but when the neighbouring country of Norway adopted the system some years later they, profiting by the experience in Sweden, were careful not to devote the surplus profits to be expended in the locality, and at the present moment Sweden is trying to alter her laws, so that the surplus profits from the disinterested management companies should go to a central fund and not be spent upon the locality in which they are earned. Though I welcome most heartily the principle of disinterested management and should be glad to see it placed on the Statute-book in some form or another, I do think it would be very unfortunate if, when we are introducing this principle for the first time, we should ignore all the experience of those who have preceded us and should deliberately make the mistakes which, if we had regarded that experience, we should have been able to avoid. For these reasons I shall certainly support the proposals made by my noble friend Lord Balfour, and I hope that they will be accepted by your Lordships' House.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
In view of the invitation which was addressed to me earlier in the evening by the noble Marquess opposite I feel that I should not delay any longer in explaining to your Lordships what the views of His Majesty's Government on this question are. I am quite sure that all noble Lords on both sides of the House are perfectly prepared to do homage to the idea of disinterested management. Where the difficulty comes in is with regard to putting a particular scheme into the Bill, for that is now the question before this House—as to whether or no a particular scheme should be put into this Bill. The point of difference was well expressed at the beginning of his speech by the noble Earl who has just sat down when he said that in his opinion, in view of the fact that this was a Local Option Bill, it was the duty of the Government 1039 to give the option to have a disinterested management system whether it was a good system or whether it was a bad one. That is the point where we join issue. We would be ready to say that if any disinterested management scheme met the objections which we feel to the schemes which so far have been brought forward we would be very willing to consider it, but we believe that when you come down to the practical working of the schemes there are so many objections to those which are put forward that it is not practical to put any particular scheme into a Bill of this kind. That is illustrated by what has taken place in the course of the debate to-night. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, spoke in favour of his system. Then the noble Marquess opposite, having criticised the system of the noble Lord who had preceded him, propounded a scheme of his own. The noble Earl who has just sat down criticised severely the scheme of the noble Marquess, and I have no doubt that to-morrow we shall hear from the noble Earl who sits on the Cross Benches (Earl Grey) a criticism as severe of the scheme of the noble Marquess.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I quite agree. I do not think that I said the noble Earl did not. But, on the other hand, what we shall get probably to-morrow will be further speeches which will support the scheme of the noble Marquess while criticising the scheme of the noble Lord. The fact is, there are to both of the systems which have been proposed objections so strong that we do not see our way to agree to put either one or the other in this Bill. Really I think it narrows itself down almost to the question of the monopoly. The noble Earl spoke strongly, as other gentlemen who support the scheme of disinterested management speak strongly, upon the immense importance of having a monopoly. Without the monopoly they do not think that the scheme will be a success. It is against the monopoly scheme that the noble Marquess opposite brings most of his objections, and in view of that great difficulty, which meets one almost at the outset of this question, I think your Lordships will find it very difficult to agree upon either the one scheme or the other.
1040 But first of all let me say something upon the question of voting, because at the present moment we are discussing a great deal more than the actual question of disinterested management. With regard to the method of voting suggested by the noble Lord, although I do not suppose he would consider that to be the really vital point in his Amendment, there is one curious fact that I do not think lie himself can have noticed—that is, that under his Amendment it is possible for a minority of votes to carry a resolution, in a way which I will presently explain to him and I will give the figures which will illustrate that point. I think we all agree that it is very difficult to tell, as the noble Marquess opposite said, what would be the exact result of the system of voting which the noble Lord proposes. Let me illustrate what might happen. It might happen in multiples of 100, but for the sake of convenience I will take 100 votes. There will be the three alternatives put before the voters. They will be able, if they so wish, to vote for disinterested management, or for a limiting resolution, or for no licence at all. It is conceivable that the majority of those 100 people would be against any alteration at all; they would be what we may, for the sake of a label, call in favour of the trade, but they would not necessarily vote in the same numbers against each resolution. Some would vote for one and some against the other, but we might have this result that 55 would vote against disinterested management, 60 would vote against a limiting resolution, and 58 would vote against the prohibition resolution. But, on the other hand, you might have 45 people voting for disinterested management, 40 for the limiting resolution, and 42 for total prohibition. Now your Lord ships will see that in a subsequent Amendment Lord Balfour of Burleigh proposes to enact that "The resolution which has the highest number of votes cast in its favour shall be deemed to be carried, provided as follows," and so on. But your Lordships will see that in these circumstances the disinterested management resolution would be carried although only 45 people had voted in favour of it and 55 people voted against it. That hardly, I think, can be considered a very satisfactory method of voting; but I quite agree that the noble Lord would, if he were pressed, probably find some other way of securing the opinion of the people upon his resolution.
1041 This is not really the important point, or the point upon which your Lordships will divide. The real point will be how far a practical scheme of disinterested management can really be put into the Bill. We have already had, on the Second Reading of the Bill, some mention of the disinterested management scheme, and two objections were pointed out even at that early stage to anything of the kind. One was the point of the monopoly and the other was the question of finance. Let us take first of all the scheme of the noble Lord, the scheme for which a large number of resolutions have been passed in various places in Scotland. If the noble Lord will allow me to say so, I think they generally have been passed in favour of the principle rather than in favour of any one particular scheme. There is, indeed, a violent expression of opinion, which has probably reached all your Lordships, with regard to the Amendment of Lord Balfour of Burleigh. It was an expression of opinion which appeared in the Morning Advertiser on November 14 last. That journal said—There is one set of Amendments standing in the name of Lord Balfour of Burleigh which not only sins by accepting the principle of local veto, but proposes to extend it in a manner which for cynical impudence and cold-blooded robbery exceeds anything which even the United kingdom Alliance has ever imagined, We refer to the proposals made in respect of what is called 'disinterested management. We have for our own part no sort of faith in this disinterested management. The advocacy of it proceeds on the assumption that a public-house will be better managed by a man who has no interest in the prosperity of the business than by a man whose living depends upon it. We do not believe it; and although the experiences of Public House Trust Associations may be alleged in support of the claim that disinterested management is the best, we must confess that so far as we have been able to verify them they seem to us to point to the opposite conclusion.And towards the end there comes another sentence, the last I shall venture to quote to your Lordships, which says—This is rank robbery and (subject to a four per cent. investment for a favoured few) confiscation.Then we come to the points of compensation. I confess I do not even now quite understand the position of the noble Lord, whether he thinks that compensation should be paid or should not be paid. I suspect that amongst those who support the noble Lord there are some who think that it should be, and some who think that it should not be paid.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
That is perfectly clear, I think. Compensation should not be paid if the disinterested management resolution comes into force at the end of the period—the time limit, whatever that period is. If it were to be brought into force during the time limit when you are taking away one licence and putting it into the hands of a disinterested management company, then I think compensation should be paid.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I am much obliged to the noble Lord, because I did not think from the terms of the Amendment that it was perfectly clear. The point I should venture to put to the noble Lord is this. I am not sure that that would he accepted by a large number of those who are interested in the question at the present time. We can all of us understand the position of those who say that if drink is a bad thing in itself and should be reduced as much as possible, compensation is unnecessary, but it drink is to be allowed and even encouraged in another form then it is not fair to those who hitherto have been engaged in the trade not to give them compensation when you merely substitute one form of administration for another.
There are two further criticisms of the noble Lord's Amendment to which I should like to direct his attention. One is that—although I do not suppose he meant it—the form of the Amendment would, I think, sweep away hotels. The other is this. What would happen supposing there was no disinterested management company formed to carry on the scheme? The area would then become a no-licence area altogether, as I understand the noble Lord's Amendment, and there would be no liquor obtainable of any sort or kind, although the disinterested management resolution had been carried. The only way in which it would be rescued from being a no-licence area would be that a number of people interested in the drink trade would come forward in order to secure what profit they could. But that really brings one to the other criticism to which I have already referred—that is, the insecurity of the finance, which I think is one of the chief criticisms to be made of the scheme of the noble Marquess opposite. He has already heard, in a way which I am afraid must be somewhat disconcerting to him, that it is 1043 not welcome to those who are interested in disinterested management in this country, and the result of it will probably be very small indeed. It is doubtful whether under the Amendment as proposed by the noble Marquess we should have a very much larger or much more extended system of disinterested management than we have to-day. Indeed, I have seen criticism of the noble Marquess's Amendment go so far as to say that he even puts difficulties in the way of disinterested management, for this reason—that whereas it is comparatively easy for a disinterested management company to get a licence now from a Court, because there is a natural sympathy in everybody's mind with the idea of disinterested management, the noble Marquess in future wishes the system of having a poll, and a successful poll, to be gone through before there is any large extension of this disinterested management scheme.
There is, perhaps, one other point in the Amendment of the noble Marquess upon which I am not quite sure that I clearly understand his intentions. That is the point of how far it is to be compulsory. The noble Marquess, as I understand, is prepared to throw very great responsibility and power in this matter into the hands of the Court. He proposes that if a disinterested management resolution is carried the Court may, if it thinks fit, go so far as to grant a monopoly of disinterested management. I gather that that is so, although I am not quite sure; but it would also be possible for the Court to satisfy the requirement by granting disinterested management in one single case and no more. That seems to me to be directly opposite to the intention of the Bill. The Bill is to give power in this matter rather to the voters themselves, and to transfer to them the powers which are now exercised by the Licensing Court. The noble Marquess wishes, on the other hand, to go in the direction of giving the Licensing Court the power of saying that all or none, with the exception of a single licence in their area, shall be given to the people who are interested in disinterested management. That gives them very large and very great powers, and it also puts upon the Court a further and very great responsibility, because the noble Marquess asks the Court to say what they think is a reasonable compensation which should be paid.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Not what reasonable compensation should be paid, but what the disinterested management company can afford. We shall have an opportunity later of discussing the question of compensation. I did not complicate my speech by going into that, because it would hardly have been in order. We shall have an opportunity later of discussing the whole question of insurance, and on that I shall have something to say, but I should be sorry that the noble Earl should think that I am of opinion that the disinterested company will, as a matter of absolute equity and justice, be able to provide all that is due for the relief of the dispossessed publican. They can only be asked to give as much as they can afford.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
But does not that lead us to the very difficult position in which we are in England to-day with regard to licensing, that the reduction of licences is limited by the amount of money which there is at the disposal of the Court for compensation? That is the position in which t he noble Marquess, as I understand, proposes to put the Licensing Court?
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
The Licensing Court, as I understand from the noble Marquess, is to say what amount of compensation can be paid by the disinterested management company, and of course the amount which can be paid depends upon the amount of money which the company have got. That is exactly the position which has crippled and hindered and prevented the reduction of licences in England. It is limited by exactly the same point—that is, tire amount of the compensation fund.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I should not admit for a moment that the English Act has been hampered. It has worked extremely well. The noble Earl is quite wrong in thinking that anything I have proposed or suggested would be a parallel to the English Act. I wish it were. I think that the English Act is on a much sounder basis. What we propose is that the electors and the licensing authority between them should have complete freedom of action, but in so far as the disinterested management companies can afford to pay something let them pay it.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
What the noble 3arquess has said does not shake my conviction that he is closely approaching the position in England in which the amount of compensation is limited by the amount of money available for compensation. That has affected temperance reformers in this country because they have not been able to reduce as many licences as they would like to have done, owing to there not being enough money in the compensation fund, and that is the principle which it seems to me the noble Marquess does introduce by saying in his Amendment that the compensation which is to be paid, and which, of course, is quite separate from the point of compulsory insurance, must depend on the amount of money at the disposal and in the possession of the disinterested management company.
Now let me refer to the question of how far, under the scheme of the noble Marquess, he is likely to secure that capital which is necessary for the successful working of the scheme. It was only this morning, curiously enough, that I received a letter from the liquidator of one of the noble Earl's Public-house Trust companies which had been started in Worcestershire, and which, unfortunately, had not succeeded. The consequence was a recourse to voluntary liquidation. That shows that disinterested management is not always or not necessarily successful, and if the Bill passes even with the Amendment suggested by the noble Marquess I want to point out how unlikely it is that people will come forward with money. They will have no such monopoly as that which those who are experts in disinterested management declare to be necessary. But supposing they raise a sum of £12,000—of course, these figures are purely hypothetical but it makes the position easier—and spend something like £10,000 in buying up licences and in paying compensation, while reserving £2,000 for working expenses and rent and so on. On that £12,000 they are entitled under both schemes to take 4 per cent—£480 a year. They then have to raise a reserve fund if they can, which is ultimately not to exceed the amount of their capital. But quite apart from the schemes of the noble Earl, Lord Camper-down, which we shall discuss later, and which throw very heavy burdens indeed on them, surely the position of these companies is very unsound. It is quite possible that at the end of three years a no-licence resolution may be carried. 1046 During three years these disinterested management companies will have had to raise £480 a year, and also attempt to get something like a reserve fund equal to the amount of their capital. If they do not get that within the three years there is always the possibility of a no-licence resolution being carried, which would sweep away altogether the funds of the company and leave them with no more than their £2,000 or £3,000 which they had managed to accumulate as a reserve fund with which to meet their debentures or their share capital of £12,000. It is only when you come to the practical working of a scheme of this kind that your Lordships will see how difficult it is really to get a satisfactory measure. The point of the area to which the funds are to be devoted has already been touched upon by the noble Earl below the Gangway. I think all experts in disinterested management agree with the noble Earl that the system by which the drunkard is a public benefactor of a limited area, the local area, is thoroughly unsound. That is the scheme of the noble Marquess—that the man who drinks most contributes most to the benefit of his immediate locality.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I agree it may be the best thing he has ever done, but it does not seem to me the best principle on which to go. I have purposely abstained from referring to the further burdens which will be put upon the disinterested management companies by Lord Camperdown's later Amendment, although it seemed to me to be of a very serious kind and to go far towards making the scheme of the noble Marquess opposite one which is unlikely to meet with success. I can only end by repeating that there is really little except the practical difficulty of a good scheme being formed which prevents His Majesty's Government from agreeing to an Amendment being put into the Bill dealing with this subject. Meanwhile we must confine ourselves to the point of hoping that the disinterested management companies may, under a voluntary system and without being brought into a State system, meet with more success in the future than has been the case in the past or is likely to be the case if either of the schemes suggested by the noble Lords opposite is put into this Bill.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
The criticism of the noble Earl opposite has been directed rather against the Amendment of the noble Marquess on the Front Bench than against the Amendment of Lord Balfour of Burleigh. As I understood, at the commencement of his criticism he based his opposition to disinterested management chiefly on the ground of the difficulty about the monopolistic basis. On that point I think the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, who laid it down as almost a necessity that disinterested management should have a monopoly in any given district, was unduly pessimistic in this respect. Public-house Trusts have been carried on successfully, and I cannot see why it should not be possible under the terms of this Bill for disinterested management to be likewise successful. There are several Public-house Trust companies established in Scotland, with one of which I am connected. The noble Marquess was rather dubious as to the success that had attended their operations so far. I can say, in the case of every Trust, that they have either accumulated reserves or else given very fair sums to specific objects in their respective districts. Again, the object of the Trusts—the promoting of the sale of food rather than that of liquor—has been eminently successful, because whereas, to start with, they obtained very little revenue from the sale of food, the revenue from the sale of food now amounts to about 33 per cent. of their total sales. Lord Lytton criticised the suggestion of having a limited number of disinterested management houses. He said that it would prove a failure if you went on that system. But it is not only the Trust 1048 house itself that does a great deal for the promotion of temperance; it has such an influence on the other houses in the neighbourhood that they have to conform as much as they can to the system of management which has been adopted by the. Trust public-house. I mean they have to enlarge their premises and give facilities for eating so as to be able to compete with the Trust houses. Lord Lytton denied that there was any successful competition on the part of these Trust public-houses. I can only say that Scottish experience is distinctly the opposite. I agree with Lord Lytton in saying that any fund to be given to public purposes should be applied to national objects, and not for the benefit of the immediate locality in which the profits arise; otherwise it is likely that what has been found to be the case in Sweden would happen in this country, that people who were inclined to drink would think they were benefiting their immediate locality by the consumption of liquor. I therefore heartily support the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Balfour, on the distinct understanding that any surplus funds that are accumulated shall be given for national and not for local purposes.
§ House resumed, and to be again in Committee To-morrow.