§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Amendment, moved on Tuesday, June 24, by Lord Banbury of Southam to the Motion for the Second Reading—namely, That the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ VISCOUNT CAVE
My Lords, the debate on the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill and the Amendment thereto has now continued for two days, and is, I understand, approaching its end. I think we may all congratulate ourselves upon the tone in which the discussion has been carried on in this House. We all feel, I believe, that this Bill deserves to be treated as a serious and sincere attempt to deal with a real evil and to put an end, if possible, to a public danger. At all events, it is in that spirit that I desire to approach the consideration of the Bill, and I am sure that in saying that I am speaking for all my noble friends who sit with me upon this Bench. I rather regret that in the course of the debate observations have been made about the supposed influence of the trade in this matter. For myself I am a little sceptical whether that influence is so great as it is supposed to be. I know the trade associations claim a good deal of influence, but I do not take them at their own valuation. At any rate, I am sure that so far as this House is concerned no regard whatever need be paid to that suggestion any more than to the fact that my noble friend Lord Long was, some thirty years ago, a director of a company whose very existence he appears to have forgotten.
As to the evil which has to be attacked, I should like to make it clear that so far as I am concerned the enemy whom I am pursuing is not drinking, as such, but drunkenness. That is the real evil. I hope that I am as temperate as other people, but I do not pretend to be a total abstainer like the right rev. Prelate opposite. It would be a piece of hypocrisy on my part to hold up my hands in horror because other people consume alcoholic drink and because the total amount spent in that way is very large. What I desire 283 to consider is the existence of the evil of drunkenness and how far this Bill provides a just and proper remedy. As to the extent of drunkenness, I think we may take comfort from the figures which were given to us by my noble friend Lord Dawson of Penn on June 30, the second day of the debate. Those figures appeared to me very striking. They were taken by persons of experience and they show, beyond the possibility of contradiction, that there has been a notable decrease in the amount of drunkenness in this country during the last few years.
Let me add to those figures only one which I have taken from the official Report on Licensing. That Report shows that the convictions for drunkenness in England and Wales, which numbered 188,000 in 1913 had fallen in 1922 to a little over 76,000, considerably less than half. Although that is a very remarkable thing, I agree that the danger, or the evil, of drunkenness still exists, and that it is desirable, if it be possible, to bring it to an end. It is with that view that I want to say a few words about this Bill. I am not going to deal with any small points at all. I will not attack a point which in my view might be dealt with in Committee on the Bill. I only want to take three points—three points which to me appear to be of real importance.
The first thing that strikes me about the Bill is that it proposes to abolish altogether the provisions for the reduction of licences which first found a place in the Act of 1904—those provisions which are associated with the Government of Lord Balfour. Your Lordships know quite well what those provisions are. The power and duty of refusing a licence and so reducing the number of licensed houses is now vested in a committee; in the counties it is the county licensing committee and in the boroughs it is a committee of the same kind. Whenever a licence is refused by that committee the owner is compensated out of a fund which is composed of contributions by all the licence holders in the same area. There is this further provision, that when the justices find that all redundant licences have been suppressed and the number left is not too great for the area they may, if they think right, suspend the levy until a time when further funds are required.
I speak not without experience because I was, for I am afraid to say how many 284 years, a member of a committee of that kind, and I say without hesitation that the Act has been a great success. Under that Act funds have been raised during the last twenty years or so to an average amount of nearly £1,000,000 a year. In recent years it has been about £850,000 a year, and with the help of that fund the licences have been reduced by about a thousand in every year on the average. That is to say, during the first eighteen years in which the Act was in operation, for which we have the figures, the licences were reduced by over 18,000, and I think by this time the reduction must amount to something like 20,000 licences out of a total of 100,000 which existed at the beginning of the period. Throughout that time there has been, I believe, no serious complaint of injustice. Licences have been reduced in number, the most undesirable have been taken away, but no one, so far as I know, has suffered real injustice. Your Lordships are asked to repeal these provisions altogether and, so far as the no-change areas are concerned, to put nothing at all in their place.
I would like to make this perfectly clear: If the Bill passes as it stands you will restore the old condition of things. You will vest once more in the justices the absolute right to refuse licences without compensation, and their old difficulties will be revived, for there will be no fund out of which suppressed licences can be compensated. In the meanwhile, the compensation levy will be continued; indeed, it will be doubled in amount and will be extended to the off-licences as well as to on-licences, but that levy will be spent in other areas. The result, therefore, is that in the no-change areas—and it has been common ground throughout these debates that they will be the great majority—there will be no machinery at all for a reduction of licensed houses. I feel very strongly that that is a retrograde step. Here is a system which has been successful in reducing licences without hardship. You destroy it, and I hold that to be a very serious step backward for those who are in favour of promoting temperance.
I believe that the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford said something about dealing with that matter in Committee. I would like to know before these debates end what he has in his mind. If he is going to put an end to the 285 right to refuse licences in those areas then I think he is doing harm from his own point of view. If, on the other hand, he proposes to continue the system and to appropriate some of the compensation fund of the no-change areas, then he may cripple his central fund arid that would have a serious effect upon all the arguments upon the finance of the Bill. Therefore, if the right rev. Prelate really means to deal with the matter, I think he ought to tell us what he proposes to do, as up to the present time I consider this a serious and radical objection to his Bill.
I pass to the second point. We were told, and quite fairly told, by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack that we ought to look at the principle of this Bill and not at the details, and he seemed to say that the principle of the Bill was State management. I do not know why he says that, He seems to forget the no-licence clauses of the Bill. Under that clauses a licence will not pass into State management but will be abolished altogether, and I think one is just as much entitled to regard that, which amounts to Prohibition or to local prohibition, as the principle of the Bill as the noble and learned Viscount is entitled to confer that description upon State management. The no-licence clauses are, to me, a vital part of this Bill and a part which should determine the reception that the House ought to give to it.
You are proposing that a majority of local government electors in any area shall have the right to sweep away all licences in that area and prohibit the sale of alcoholic drink. That is to be done by what is really a minority of the population, in this way. The local government electors are, I suppose, even in these days, barely one-half of the population. Those who will vote at a poll may not be more than one-half of the local government electors, and a single vote above that fraction of one-half may carry a no-licence vote. Even of that majority some may be persons who at the first poll have preferred another system altogether, but whose alternative vote alone is sufficient to turn the balance in favour of no-licence. That being so, I think I am right in saying that the effect may be that one-eighth of the population will be empowered to put coercion upon the other seven-eighths. That is the result of the Bill, and, indeed, must be 286 the result of any Bill in which a bare majority suffices to carry a vote of this kind, there being no provision at all as to a quorum of voters. I do not call that popular control. It seems to me to be control of the majority by what may well be a minority.
There is this further feature, to which I will refer only briefly because it has been already mentioned, that you will not allow an area which has voted for no-licence, or for what is called reorganisation—that is, State management—to revert to the present system, even if the electors should change their minds. I hope there is no mistake about that. The right rev. Prelate agrees that that is the effect of the Hill. I do not see why Englishmen should not be allowed, like Scotsmen, to change their minds. In Scotland a vote of this kind may be reversed, but in England you have not sufficient confidence in your voters to permit that to be done. I agree as to the awkwardness of going back to the old state of things, but it is not impossible, and it seems to me that if you are really going to give popular control you should allow a free vote in one direction as well as in the other.
But my main objection to the no-licence provisions is that they amount to prohibition, and prohibition by compulsion, and I do not believe that this compulsion will be effective. Where a no-licence vote is passed much of the old custom will go to the adjoining area. Some of it will be dealt with by rich people, but not by others, by the method of filling their cellars. Apart from that, there will be much evasion and much breaking of the law. The secret of the whole thing is that compulsion is of no use unless it has a moral sanction behind it. So long as there are people who believe, as many people in our country still believe, that the consumption of alcohol in moderation does them no harm, or believe, as my noble friend Lord Dawson said the other day, that it is a useful and beneficent practice—I always take the noble Lord's advice—so long will there be in the consciences of the people a determination to resist that, compulsion which forbids them to do that which they think lawful and proper. I think there is danger to temperance itself in applying compulsion in the manner which this Bill proposes. 287 That is my second point—I will deal with them as briefly as I can.
The principal subject which I have still to mention is that of compensation. The Bill does provide compensation and in that respect it is better than other Bills which many of us still recollect, but I do not think it provides fair compensation. Viscount Astor, the other day, said that under the Bill the bricks and mortar—that is, the actual land and houses—are to be paid for at their full value. I am not quite sure that that is the effect of the Bill, but I will assume that, if it is not, any ambiguity will be set right in Committee But as regards the trade itself, the provision, as your Lordships know, is that if a house is suppressed at the first poll it shall receive twelve years' purchase of its profits, but that this twelve years shall be scaled off from poll to poll until, after the fourth poll there shall be no compensation at all.
I do not understand, at all events I do not appreciate, that provision as a fair one. It rests upon the theory of a time limit and that is a theory which I have never been able fully to accept. I think a licensed house will be just as valuable twelve years hence as it is to-day and if you are not willing to take it away to-day without compensation I do not think you should give a man notice that twelve years hence you will take it away without compensation, or that six years hence you will take it away for half its real value. That seems unfair; and when noble Lords quote the Report of Lord Sumner's Committee in this connection they forget that the Report said nothing whatever about a time limit. It was based upon the hypothesis that there would be no time limit at all, and that whenever a licence was suppressed compensation of a proper amount would be paid. That is the third great objection I feel to this Bill.
I am not going to pursue the point which Lord Sumner dealt with so effectively—the solvency or sufficiency of the proposed compensation fund. That seems to me to be a matter of speculation. It must depend partly on the number of no-licence resolutions which are passed, partly upon whether State management results in a profit, as in the case of Carlisle, or in a serious loss, as in the case of Enfield. But when we are told that 288 there is no chance of a loss or deficiency, then I do not see why, if that is so, you should not ask for a State guarantee. If there is no risk at all the State will lose nothing by giving its guarantee and reassuring those who are affected by this Bill. You boast that you are putting no charge on the State, but you attain that end by putting a heavy charge on traders. That is unjust, and I cannot vote for injustice in a Bill of any kind.
We have been asked, and quite fairly: Well, if this is not a good plan, what plan have you to take its place? The course which I want to follow is that which is being followed to-day with increasing success. I agree that the real remedy for this vice, as for others, is to be found partly in education, partly in good homes, in good pay, and in more leisure for certain classes of our population. Given these good things you will find that this and other evils will cure themselves. Further, I believe most sincerely in what have been called "improved public-houses." I have troubled your Lordships before on that subject, but I am convinced that if those who have this question at heart would lend their help in setting up in the country a system of improved public-houses, to which men may take their wives and families without reproach and which could be under good independent management, you will get on even more rapidly in the process of improvement which is going on to-day.
I believe, too, in what is called "disinterested management." I am thoroughly in favour of it, and would help it all I could, if I could do it in any fair and reasonable way and without the risk of injustice. I would like to see, and here I speak only for myself, some inquiry into the question. It might lead to fruitful results, but I would not consent, in order to obtain that inquiry, to give this particular Bill, which in other respects is so greatly open to objection, a Second Reading. These are all real remedies; they represent, I believe, the real way of attacking drunkenness. It is the reasonable and fair-minded way; the English way. Your remedy, the remedy of compulsion, is founded on coercion and, if I may use the word without offence, on spoliation, and such a remedy contains no promise of success. With a full sense of the importance of the Bill I have come to 289 the conclusion without hesitation that I, at all events, ought to vote against its Second Reading.
§ VISCOUNT MILNER
My Lords, the measure which is now before your Lordships' House has encountered somewhat heavy weather in its passage. Its provisions have been subjected to a perfect fusillade of criticism from a number of noble Lords, including Lord Sumner, the Earl of Birkenhead and Viscount Cave, who, in addition to all their other claims to the respect and attention of this House, are very skilful and experienced advocates. As to the objections and criticisms which have been urged up to the present, I would say that there are some of them with which, personally, I agree. There are others to which L think there are very good answers. But it really is very difficult at this stage—we are hoping to conclude the debate this evening and there are a great many other speakers to follow—to give to any one of what I might call the more important of these criticisms that careful examination which could be given to it in Committee, and which would alone be adequate for its consideration.
After all, as it seems to me—I do not want to intrude unnecessarily upon your Lordships' time—the whole question for us at this moment is whether we shall give this Bill a Second Beading with a view to referring it to a Select Committee, before which all those points of objection can be thoroughly examined and the Bill, if necessary, greatly amended, always remembering that, if the result is not satisfactory, we need not then accept it; or whether we are to reject it now altogether, and, in doing so, put the lid on the whole subject and, so far as this House at any rate is concerned, make an end of it for this year at least, and probably for a much longer period. I am not prepared to take the responsibility of voting for the course of rejection, and that for two reasons.
The first is that, to my regret, I am unable to share the optimism which has been expressed by so many previous speakers about the present conditions affecting the liquor traffic, or about the-prospect of further improvement under those conditions; and the second is that this Bill, whatever the objections to it, does contain provisions enabling us to 290 take steps—gradual and tentative steps and, perhaps, none the worse for that reason—on what I believe to be the, one sound and practical road of reform. It is the first measure, so far as I know, that has ever got so far as this stage in Parliament, which has recognised, even as an option, what I believe to be the true method and the ultimate solution of this most harassing problem—I mean a system of public management and control; and it is because I am an out-and-out believer in that system that I am anxious to give this measure every chance, not indeed to become law, because we all know perfectly well that in its present form it could never be plated upon the Statute Book, but of being shaped into a workable model on the lines of which future legislation can proceed.
The first consideration to which I have just referred is, I feel, of paramount importance. Can we be satisfied with the present state of things? Speaker after speaker in this debate has proclaimed, and, I am sure, with absolute sincerity, his devotion to the cause of temperance, but then it is urged with great insistence that we have made such great progress in this respect in the last half century and that we are progressing at the present time so satisfactorily that there is no need to take any action, certainly no need to take any legislative action, to quicken the pace. I wish I could share that optimistic view, but I am sorry to say that I cannot do so. I gladly admit that there has been great progress, but I own that I am doubtful whether there is much progress now, and I am sure that it is difficult, in the face of our experience during the war and our experience since the war, to maintain that the progress, whatever it may be, is sufficiently great, sufficiently steady and sufficiently well-assured to enable us to take the comfortable view that we can rest and be thankful in this matter.
The history of the past ten years seems to me to be very instructive with regard to the movements of what I may call the temperance barometer and to the causes of its rise and fall. I am not going to quote a number of figures, and for this reason: I find it extraordinarily difficult to harmonise the figures with which from various quarters—all, I think, seeking accuracy—we are supplied. I was greatly impressed, as I think all must have been, 291 by the figures which were supplied to the House the other day by my noble friend Lord Dawson—figures of the decline of delirium tremens, for instance. I do not know where he got them from, but I am sure that they were accurate figures for the area which he surveyed, which was probably a number of great hospitals. But I find, and, I think, on equally credible authority, that during the same period the number of cases of delirium tremens admitted to Poor Law institutions, to which it is pointed out that these cases naturally gravitate, increased from 317 cases at the end of the war period to 565 cases a year or two later, and that these figures are not now declining, though they did decline very largely during the period of the Liquor Control Board between 1916 and 1919. I do not attach much importance to that particular set of statistics, or to any single piece of statistical information. As I say, the evidence of statistics is by no means clear. I think it would be one of the great advantages of an examination by a Select Committee that we could get a clearer light upon this point than we get from partial and conflicting statistics.
In what I am now going to say I rely not on statistics but on what I believe to be common and incontrovertible experience. I want to deal with this matter of the progress of temperance, or the reverse, not in a niggardly manner, but in the broad spirit with which the noble Viscount who has just addressed your Lordships dealt with his points. It is a matter of common knowledge, and it will be within the recollection of all of your Lordships, that at the outbreak of the war a great and sudden rise of wages resulted, as I believe it always has done in the past, in a great increase in drinking. That increase, indeed, was so great and it so seriously impaired the efficiency of production that at one time it had become, and was proclaimed by our leading statesmen to be, one of the greatest obstacles to the successful prosecution of the war. Whatever the exact figures may be, I appeal to the recollection of your Lordships to bear me out that this statement is correct. This state of things led to the appointment of the Central Control Board, one of the most successful and most beneficent of the creations of the war-time period.
292 Under the administration of that Board not only was the growth of intemperance completely checked, but, although all the time employment continued active and wages high, we attained a standard of national sobriety higher than any which has ever existed before or since, and that with most striking results in the diminution of crime, disease and pauperism. The improvement then effected in the health and general condition of the mass of the people—an improvement all the more remarkable because at that very time they were exposed to considerable hardships and deprivations owing to the war—was so marked as to jump to the eye of those who visited in that latter period of the war the populous and poorer districts of our great cities. It was visible, above all, in the appearance of the children, who were better shod, better dressed, better cared for in every respect than I have ever known them before or since. This was the combined effect of the people having more money to spend and having less opportunity to spend it badly.
Now I do not say that this improvement was due entirely to the restrictions imposed by the Control Board—there were other influences which came into play—but I do say that it was largely due to them. Then came the Peace, and with the Peace and the rapid throwing over, first of one and then another of the restrictions imposed by the Control Board—some of which I think it would have been highly desirable permanently to maintain, like the prohibition of treating—the figures of drunkenness rose again steeply. The consumption of alcohol rose, with its familiar accompaniments of convictions for drunkenness, notably of women, and crimes directly attributable to alcoholic excess. If 1918 was our zenith as a nation in this matter of temperance, 1920 was something like our nadir—a melancholy contrast. There is not much sign of progress there. I admit that there has been some improvement again in the last two or three years. There has been some improvement, but it has not been out of proportion, and, indeed, not quite in proportion, to the great fall in wages during that same period. And it would be totally contrary, I maintain, to all the experience of the past in this matter, if the next return of a boom period in the trade cycle was not accompanied by a fresh and great rise in 293 the consumption of alcoholic liquor, unless, indeed, steps were taken to counteract what I can only call the secular tendency of times of prosperity and high wages to result in an increase of drinking and of the evils which result from excessive drinking.
I apologise for the length of this retrospect, but the point I wish to make is that the conclusion to which I am forced by these considerations is that the assertion is not true that it is not possible, by active measures on the part of the State and of public authorities, to effect a great change, to exercise a great influence, in the direction of temperance and that we must rely, and can only rely, upon what you might call moral influences to bring about the object which I believe we all have at heart. It is often said that you cannot make people sober by Act of Parliament. That is quite true, but you can make them a great deal more sober by suppressing all inducement to alcoholic excess, and by limiting the opportunities for indulging in it.
I have said that the improvement effected in this respect during the war period was largely, though not wholly, due to the activities of the Central Control Board and the restrictions imposed by it. In support of that contention, I should like to quote a few words from an official document, the Report of the War Cabinet for 1917, which says:—As regards the broad effects of the restrictive work of the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) over Great Britain … it is noteworhy that the enormous I all in the convictions for drunkenness recorded since the establishment of the Board has progressed further during 1917. The weekly average of convictions for scheduled areas in England and Wales was 3,388 in 1914, 2,517 in 1915, and 1,644 in 1916.But now at this stage the Control Board appears to have come to the end of its tether. The Report which I have already quoted states that the Liquor Control Boardreported to the Government that in spite of a great improvement, due to their restrictions on hours, to the prohibition of treating, to the abolition of credit sales, to the dilution of spirits, etc., the successful prosecution of the war was then still being hampered both by an excessive consumption of liquor and by the inadequate control of its sale. They had stated that in their opinion, prohibition was not essential, provided sufficiently stringent 294 measures of control were applied, but that, as regards mere administrative restrictions, the limits of effective action had been reached. The pressure of competition in the trade and the redundancy of public-houses made it impossible for the full effect and advantage of their orders and restrictions to be gained. In their view the most rapidly effective and most permanent solution would be met by direct State control through purchase.As we all know, that "most rapidly effective and most permanent solution" was very nearly readied at a certain stage of the war.
As things turned out it was only reached—and that almost accidentally—in two or three cases, in two minor districts and one district of some importance, the oft-quoted district of Carlisle, and with precisely the result which the Control Board anticipated—namely, that without prohibition, without unreasonable interference with individual freedom, simply by the adoption and effective enforcement of some not at all harsh and very little irksome regulations, and, above all, by the elimination of the competitive supply of drink, a great and conspicuous improvement was effected in that district, and has been maintained since, in spite of the great difficulty of maintaining an isolated experiment of that kind, and the great attacks to which it has been exposed from many sides. I want to know why, in the name of common sense, the system which has succeeded in that instance should not be applied to other districts if the people of those districts desire to apply it, and why they should not follow that example, especially as that example has shown that it is possible to get rid of private interests in the liquor trade on absolutely fair terms without any loss, and indeed, with the prospect of ultimate substantial profit to the community.
But I know that I shall be told that the case of Carlisle is not applicable, because the principle, of compensation which is contained in this Bill is materially different from the kind of compensation which was accorded in the case of Carlisle, and that the principles laid down in this Bill are unfair and confiscatory. I think that was the point of the main argument of the noble and learned Viscount who spoke last, and it has been advanced by others also. Personally, I will say at once that I think it was a pity that the authors of this Bill did not adhere to what, I believe, was their original intention, and 295 that was to put the compensation frankly upon the Exchequer, because I believe that that can be done without involving the Exchequer in any permanent loss It is, I fully admit, a matter which may be argued one way or the other.
I believe that the saving that can be effected, as it has been effected in Carlisle, which may possibly be a specially favourable case—that saving by the abolition of redundant houses, and by the elimination of all those other elements of waste (they are very numerous) both in production and distribution, which result from the present high pressure of competition, will be great enough to carry the State through without any loss, even if the result of public management were to reduce, as we must all hope that it would materially reduce, the consumption of liquor. But when I say that, and when I argue in favour of the method of direct compensation by the State against that proposed in the Bill, I must not be taken as admitting that the method proposed in the Bill is unfair. I do not think that it is unfair, though I do think that it can easily be represented as unfair, and for that reason it was possibly impolitic to introduce it.
If this measure were to go, as I hope it will go, before a Select Committee, I think it would be well worth while to consider whether we might not return to the method of direct compensation by the State, instead of that of compensation through the proposed levy. At the same time, let me say once more that I cannot agree with the contention of the noble Viscount who spoke before me that it is unfair that there should be a levy on the trade in order to provide a central fund for compensation, or that it is unfair that compensation should be graduated according to the length of time during which the licence holder has enjoyed a valuable monopoly which was never given him as a freehold and to which, under the Bill, he would have fail-notice that he was only entitled for a certain number of years. It is another question whether the number of years' purchase provided for in the Bill is enough or whether the graduation of the years' purchase is not somewhat too steep. These are points for serious consideration, and I am sure I shall have all your Lordships in agreement with me when I say that we should regard it as a fatal 296 blot upon this or any other measure of reform if it involved injustice to the people who are now engaged in what is at present a perfectly legitimate trade. But I think it was apparent from the speech of the right rev. Prelate that he would be the first to accept, and even to welcome, any Amendments which might be necessary in order to make the compensation adequate and fair. In any case, I am sure that your Lordships would insist on putting that matter right.
I have trespassed too long upon your Lordships' time. I have broken the rule I laid down for myself in the beginning in that I have begun to discuss questions of detail for which this is not, in my opinion, the right and the fitting moment. We still await a declaration from the Leader of the House about the attitude of the Government in this matter. I will conclude by saying that while I recognise many defects in this Bill I am most anxious that the opportunity which it affords us of going thoroughly into one of the most urgent social questions of our time, should not be altogether lost, and I am going to give my vote for the Second Reading. The Bill affords at least the option and the opportunity of solving this question in what I believe to be the only right and fruitful manner—by giving communities of sufficient size the opportunity of taking this trade out of private hands and putting it into the hands of a public authority.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (LORD PARMOOR)
My Lords, I think that the attitude of the Government has already been expressed by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. It is in favour of supporting the Second Reading of the present Bill, on the understanding that if it is read a second time it will go for inquiry to a Select Committee. I want to deal quite shortly with the three points of objection raised by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Cave, because I understand that he agrees with those who are in favour of the Bill in this, that if these objections are not root objections, or objections which are beyond being put right in Committee, he would be in favour of what is called disinterested management.
What are the three points which were raised by the noble Viscount and to 297 which I desire to reply? The first point is the abolition of the Act of 1904. I know the experience that the noble and learned Viscount has had. I also have been on the licensing committee in my county from the time that the Act was passed, and I am still a member of it. I entirely agree with the noble and learned Viscount that the Act has operated extremely well as regards the reduction of redundant public-houses. But what it has not done, and what it cannot do, is to deal with this question of disinterested management. No such question can be raised under the Act of 1904. Therefore, however much we may praise the results of the 1904 Act, the main proposition which underlies the Bill brought forward by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford is in its essence different, and it is really no good to say that it is unfortunate to interfere with the 1904 Act without saying at the same time that unless you do interefere with it, at any rate to a certain extent, all disinterested management is impossible. You cannot have the two consistently at the same time.
I am opposed personally to Prohibition, but I will not go into that question now. I should like to take up the noble and learned Viscount's challenge. It may be said that if you simply repeal the Act, of 1904 generally you may have reactionary conditions in the no-change areas and that, in fact, you lose the benefit of the Act. I should regret that. I think it would be a mistake. But that is not necessary. I do not know at present, of course, all the financial arrangements of this Bill and how they will work out if they are subjected to evidence and to the scrutiny of a Select Committee, but there is no reason whatever why the finance of this Bill should not be adjusted and be made as sound as the system is now and yet leave the 1904 Act to operate in the no-change areas. That would appear to me to be perfectly consistent in principle, I avoid, as the noble Viscount, Lord Milner, did, going into these matters of detail at present, but I challenge any one who has had a practical local experience of dealing with these matters on licensing committees to say that there is any objection whatever to leaving the operation of the 1904 Act just as it is now in the no-change areas. Therefore, I think that is not an objection to the principle of the Bill.
298 The second point I desire to deal with is this. If you are to have local government and popular control in the sense in which the expression is used in this Bill, you must, of course, depend upon the existing local government franchise. You have no way of expressing local ideas on local government or local control save through the existing local government franchise. It is quite possible with any franchise that, in the result, the control may fall into the hands of a small minority. The criticism applied to this point by the noble Viscount could be applied to any Bill in this direction. He said that one-eighth of the people could tyrannise over the other seven-eighths. The answer to that is that it is highly improbable and that it is entirely the fault of the seven-eighths if it is allowed to occur. If such an objection as that is to be an objection on principle to a Bill of this sort, then you can have no Bill based on popular control under which you desire to introduce disinterested management.
But, to my mind, by far the most important point which the noble Viscount raised was that of the fairness of the compensation principle. I paid close attention to what he said, and to what was said with such great ability the other day by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner. It has happened that my experience in old days was very largely concerned in compensation cases; in fact, I committed the indiscretion of writing a book on the subject. Amongst those compensation cases, of which a very large number came before me, were at least a considerable number where licensed public-houses were concerned. I am going to point out, if I may, in a moment that in my view so far from this Bill pointing to confiscation it points to the most generous measure of compensation that can be allowed, or ever has been allowed, in cases of this character.
Before I come to that, however, let me say one word in answer to the perfectly just criticism of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner. It may be said that the money here comes from the trade itself. That is an obvious criticism, and I think the noble and learned Lord was quite justified in drawing a distinction on that ground between the proposals in this Bill and the proposals of the Committee of which he acted as Chairman His Committee, he told us, recommended 299 that the compensation should come from public funds and the number of years' purchase was, I think he said, to be fifteen years. I do not believe that public funds ought to be devoted to the purposes with which we are dealing in the present Bill. I say that for this reason. I was looking to-day, in order to refresh my memory, at the debate on the 1904 Bill. At that time there was a large Conservative or Unionist majority in the House of Commons, and Mr. Talbot, who was then member for the University of Oxford, made a statement which I think was acquiesced in by everyone. It was quite impossible, he said, to use public funds, or to suggest the use of public funds, for compensation as regards licences under the conditions of that measure. I think the same principle applies here. It appears to me that by utilising the trade funds, as they are utilised under the 1904 Act, you can get a perfectly fair measure of compensation, and, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Cave, himself has pointed out, there has never been any friction whatever under the 1904 Act, nor any suggestion that a fair amount of compensation has not been obtained. As a matter of fact, it fell to my lot to argue the first of the cases which established the principle of compensation—Mr. Justice Kennedy established it—under the 1904 Act, and that is exactly the principle that we ought to apply now, for it has been applied with complete satisfaction since that date.
The noble Viscount, Lord Milner, referred to another point. It was made perfectly clear in 1904, when dealing with compensation for licensed premises, that you were not dealing with a freehold—in other words, that there was no right to a perpetuation of the licence, and that it was necessary, in connection with these matters of compensation, to regard the question of a time limit. The time limit is one of the matters constantly arising in compensation cases. You are constantly having raised the difference between a freehold and a leasehold, and you have tables by which, under recognised methods, the question of a time limit can be adequately and certainly applied. There is no doubt whatever that when this matter was being considered by a Conservative Government in a Conservative House of Commons, it was laid down perfectly clearly that the continuation 300 of a licence was not a right, but that it had been to a great extent a matter of practice to renew it, and that there could be no claim in perpetuity in respect of it as if it were in the nature of a freehold. That is quite right and sound.
Let me deal shortly with the proposals for compensation in the present Bill. First of all, we shall all start from the common premise—I am sure the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner, will agree with this—that if you are to compensate a man in respect of his business you must first ascertain what his income is. That is exactly what is proposed in the present Bill. That is the original basis on which all compensation must be applied. What is the income which a man is obtaining? That is the first step which is proposed in the Bill before your Lordships. No other system could be just. It has been suggested in some of the old Bills that you might describe the business and deal according to mere practice with the matter. It has also been suggested in old Bills that you might compensate the owners of public-houses on the same basis as you did the telephone company, and tramway and electric light companies. But either of those systems would undoubtedly be unfair. The only possible system is to consider what profit a man is making out of the business with which you are interefering. That is the right principle, and that is the principle which has been adopted by the right rev. Prelate as the basis of compensation in this Bill.
So far from that being a measure of confiscation it is the recognition of the fullest right you can possibly give to a man in a compensation case. What are the only objections raised? They are purely questions of detail which ought to be dealt with hereafter if there is an impartial inquiry. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner, said that you gave only twelve years' purchase instead of fifteen years'. There is no question in my experience of compensation cases which is more open to argument in detail than the number of years' purchase you ought to give as compensation in the case of a particular business. Under the 1904 Act you had to consider the number of years' purchase in each case. Probably in principle that is a right method, because you may get a business which is well secured, or a business which is less well 301 secured. But, after all, that is a matter of detail, and not one of principle. To how many years' purchase are these people entitled? When you have once ascertained what their true annual income is you can tell. That is a problem which I have had to approach in compensation cases thousands of times. In the case of an ordinary business we used to take three years' purchase. In a business with statutory security the period went up to twenty-five years' purchase, while in a business of imperfect security, like these public-houses, it varied. I never knew of a case in which the period went up to as high as fifteen years'. It may have done so, but I do not know of such a case. But that is a question for consideration in detail before a Committee, if a Committee is appointed to consider this matter. I am sure people who understand compensation law would agree that it is a fallacy to talk of this Bill as though it was a measure of confiscation.
I want to make another point quite clear. It may be said that the diminution of the number of years' purchase after certain dates either ought not to be there at all, or, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Cave, said, that the periods are too steep. That is quite possible. Everyone must recognise that that is the very question that you ought to thresh out in detail if you have an independent Select Committee appointed. I can see nothing in this Bill on these points of principle which are not really points for Committee discussion, but I do want to say this most earnestly in corroboration of what the noble Viscount, Lord Milner, said, that I would on no account support a Bill which appeared to me to imply confiscation when you are taking private property for public purposes. I think that is a fundamental idea, and it is only by avoiding confiscation that you can get equality of burden when you introduce public improvements in matters of this kind.
I was rather astonished that the noble Viscount, Lord Long of Wraxall, should think that the right rev. Prelate was committing himself to a measure of confiscation. I entirely disagree with him when he says that the question of tithe compensation might arise owing to the way in which you deal with the question of compensation in the case of licensed houses. I cannot imagine two things more absolutely different. But, apart from that, I have a pride in the Church 302 to which I belong and in the social improvements brought forward by the right rev. Prelates, and I feel perfectly satisfied that they would never have taken this step unless they had been advised, and quite rightly I think, not only that there was no confiscation in this Bill, but that the largest measure of fair compensation was provided. It is on these grounds that I shall certainly support the Second Reading.
THE LORD ABCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I feel that an apology is needed for intervening for a few moments in this debate which has been contributed to by so many spokesmen who are all fit to handle this great subject. No less than four noble and learned Lords who are or have been Lord Chancellors have taken part in the discussion. I shall earn the gratitude of your Lordships by being exceedingly brief. About five months ago we had before us a measure introduced by Lord Lamington called the Public-house Improvement Bill. Some of us criticised that Bill severely. We thought it was unsatisfactory in the form proposed and, even when it had been amended, that it was very inadequate and did not meet the requirements of the ease. In that debate we were quite fairly answered by supporters of that Bill when they said that we who objected to the proposals ought to bring forward some alternative plan. I replied that if they would wait a little while they would find a Bill introduced, promoted by the Bishop of Oxford and Lord Astor, which would do the very thing they said we lacked at that moment.
That Bill is now before you, and I ask your Lordships to note that within a few months we have had two rival measures, incompatible I think with one another, both of them seriously proposed as an improvement upon our existing system of licensing. Both sets of people have shown that they think something should be done. In the earlier stages of this debate we have been told in no uncertain voice that things are going on very well, intemperance is less, and there are evidences that drinking is far less mischievous. We had the exceedingly interesting speech of Lord Dawson of Penn and the statistics which, from his almost unique experience, he was able to bring forward to justify his contention. We have also had from 303 Viscount Cave, with his ripe experience, something on the question of the reduction of licences. I entirely admit not merely that there is an improvement but that the degree of that improvement is constantly under-rated and under-stated by those who advocate temperance reform. It is perfectly true that people who are keen for temperance reform are sometimes inadequate in their expression of appreciation of the improvement that has really taken place.
We were told that it was mere fussiness to tinker with things which were going on exceedingly well. If so, what about the Bill which was introduced a few months ago? That was tinkering with our licensing system, but we went through it in detail, debated it in this House, and sent it down to the House of Commons to see whether that House is prepared to regard it as helpful. We have not yet seen what reception that House will give to that Bill. Personally, I do not think the House of Commons will regard it as helpful. It does not meet the particular case it sets out to meet, but it is clear evidence that those who support it think that something is needed in that direction. The noble Viscount, Lord Milner, has pointed out, to-night, that probably it is felt that the progress made under the 1904 Act is neither so steady nor so well assured as to relieve us from the responsibility of trying to amend the administration in order to make that progress more satisfactory.
This Bill has been very carefully thought out by those who are experts in the matter. To any one perusing the Bill it has the appearance of a very complicated measure. We have all had the experience that when you try to put on paper systems which in practical working are not complicated you have to make all sorts of distinctions and exceptions which give a complicated appearance to what is not, after all, a complicated matter; and that will turn out to be the case with regard to the Bill now before your Lordships' House. There are certainly a great many detailed proposals in this Bill which require further discussion by experts and the public before the measure can become law. I attribute great importance to discussions of this matter by the public. It should be more ventilated outside in the light of the debates that we have had in this House. I am not going over these 304 topics in detail. There are other speakers to follow to whose remarks I am looking forward with some interest. But there are, undoubtedly, matters of great, and possibly vital, importance which do require complete reconsideration before this Bill can be placed on the Statute Book.
Obviously, very much turns on the soundness or unsoundness of the calculations respecting compensation. We have had two notable speeches on this subject, one from Lord Sumner and the other from Viscount Astor, both of whom have special experience in this particular matter and are able to put before your Lordships the two sides of what is undoubtedly a disputable subject. What we now need is a reconsideration of this question by those who are best qualified to consider it, and when we have given a Second Beading to this Bill, I should like a Select Committee to consider the matter in the light of such speeches as those to which I have referred and with all the information and figures which can be given by those best qualified to supply them. In addition, there is quite a considerable group of matters which were criticised by different speakers both to-night and on the former occasion as to which, be it noted, the promoters of the Bill agree with their critics that further consideration is needed.
Some emphasis has been laid upon the fact that, as the Bill now stands, it will take away from the magistrates, by repealing the Act of 1904, the powers which they at present possess. I understand that such is not the intention of the promoters of the Bill, and it is at least certain that they are perfectly ready to arrange for the measure to go to a Select Committee and there to recommend that the powers which the magistrates now possess should not be in any way impaired by the fact that a resolution has been passed in favour of no-change, although there might be other ways undoubtedly in which the licensing authorities would be more or less affected. Then the question was raised whether a poll ought to be taken only on a special requisition, and, again, it was asked by whom the requisition should be made. It was further asked if it should be mandatory, and if mandatory, at what intervals. Those are matters absolutely suited for consideration by the Committee, 305 and matters upon which different opinions can quite legitimately be held. I, for one, should hope to see some changes in the Bill as it now stands, and I believe that they would be welcomed by its promoters.
Further, it is asked whether the resolution in favour of a change should be carried by a bare majority, or ought there to be a definite percentage of voters to carry it; and, if so, ought that percentage to be the same in the case of all the options, or ought it to be applied, as I should hope, with increased stringency to the possibility of a vote for no-licence—because I think that unless there were an overwhelming majority such a resolution would be extraordinarily undesirable, as well as being most improbable in almost all the areas of this country. Personally, I should not vote for such a change, but in any case I think that it ought only to be demanded by an enormous majority of voters before it could be even entertained. Here, too, I believe that it will be found that the promoters of the Bill are perfectly ready to consider that point fairly and to realise what are the difficulties which surround that particular proposal.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Cave, in his very weighty speech, spoke of his desire to see the principle of disinterested management largely increased. That could be done under this measure with definite gain and perfect simplicity, and I believe that it could be facilitated by certain changes which, again, I believe the promoters of the Bill would be quite ready to consider. Then there is the question of the size of the areas, which has been mentioned by more than one supporter of the Bill. This also is largely a Committee matter, and all kinds of considerations, can be brought to bear upon it. Upon all these matters, and others which might be mentioned, the promoters of the Bill, as far as I understand their purpose—I am not one of them myself and was not concerned in the promotion of this measure—have an open mind and are ready, if the Bill goes to a Select Committee, to consider them in detail.
There are one or two points which have been strangely misrepresented and, I suppose, misunderstood. We have heard it stated more than once that if you vote for "going dry" you must be "dry" in your area for ever. That is not in the 306 least the suggestion of the Bill. The Bill says that if you have taken that vote you cannot go back to what we call interested management. You would have to return to disinterested management, not, as I understand it, because the promoters of the' Bill feel that the other arrangement has something about it so bad that it could not be tolerated, but because the process has proved, on examination, to be unworkable. I think it will be found that those who have been most concerned in promoting this Bill will be ready to consider with the greatest care any suggestion which may be made as to how, after a resolution has been passed, at whatever interval is thought desirable, it may be possible to go back again even to interested management as well as to disinterested management. At all events, nobody doubts for a moment that the area which, to use the colloquial phrase, has "gone dry" can become a "wet" area under disinterested management if the electors so desire, and it is the system of disinterested management which has been specially advocated and belauded by Lord Cave to-night.
I have referred to only a few of the points which seem to me to be peculiarly suitable for consideration in Committee, but it would be easy to add to them but for the hour which we have reached. What I am anxious for is this. I do not want these successive nights of debate here upon great matters by those who are eminently qualified to debate them, and have debated them exceedingly well, to be wasted. Something ought to eventuate from them. It is not easy to see exactly how that can be done unless, as I hope, we give a Second Beading to this Bill and refer it to a Select Committee. I want a further elucidation of a subject which is exceedingly anxious and exceedingly difficult, and I believe this to be the best way of securing it.
It has been suggested during the debate that we might have that which was described as a round table conference to consider this subject, to discuss the present situation and the possibility of improvement. That would be better than nothing, and I should be glad to see it promoted—though I am not sure by whom—provided that we could have a genuine representation of the various interests and the various parties who are concerned in this matter. But in my view that procedure 307 would be very much less satisfactory than the reference of the matter, after this Bill has been read a second time, to a Select Committee. In the first place, somebody would have to draw up the agenda for that round table conference, and that would be an extraordinarily difficult thing to do for people so wide apart in their present views of the situation as some of those who have spoken in this debate. To whom is the instruction to be given, and who are to sit at the round table where the discussion is to take place? All those difficulties are avoided if we give the Bill a Second Heading and refer it, in the ordinary Parliamentary way, to a competent Select Committee, appointed in the usual manner and able to deal largely with a large subject of this kind.
I hope, that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading and will refer it to a Select Committee. We shall then be in a better position to hear and weigh the criticisms which may be quite legitimately, and perhaps weightily, brought against any proposal whatever that you can make—I do not care what it is—for dealing with this complicated and difficult subject. No suggestion can be made, either for amending the position or for leaving it as it is, which could not be riddled with criticism. We have to deal with great difficulties, and I believe that we shall deal with them best in the manner that I have suggested. If this tangled subject came before a Select Committee we should be able to weigh the criticism which, as I have said, can be brought against any proposal, and not least against the proposal which have taken shape in this Bill, to which I hope your Lordships will now give a Second Beading with a view to referring it to a Select Committee.
§ LORD SOUTHWARK
My Lords, I propose to occupy the time of the House only for two or three minutes. Ever since my adoption as a Parliamentary candidate, fifty-one years ago, I have never been induced to promise to vote for local option. This Bill is full of it, and I rise to make an appeal to your Lordships to reject it. The general details of the Bill have been dealt with thoroughly and ably by Lord Sumner and Lord Banbury, who considered them so amply and effectively that I urge your Lordships not to occupy the time either of the House or of its Committees by granting the Bill a 308 Second Reading and keeping alive what I should like to call this disturbing agitation, because, so far as I am concerned, it has been a disturbing agitation during the whole of my Parliamentary life.
Now, I should like to commend to your Lordships a few words of wisdom uttered by Mr. Giffard, chairman of the great brewing firm of Barclay, Perkins and Co., on the occasion of the opening, last week, of one of their model taverns. He said that they did not believe that the solution of the drink traffic could be found in Prohibition, Local Veto or Local Option. Their alternative was that it was unreasonable to compel people by law to refrain from doing things which their conscience told them were innocent. They had a striking example of that in America. Their essential idea was to make their places real houses of refreshment for all classes of the public. The brewers have the power now, with the consent of the magistrates, to do all that most of your Lordships think desirable or necessary, and, like your Lordships, I am, of course, strongly in favour of temperance. We all agree that education has brought about splendid results in that direction, and I say: continue education and, where necessary, punishments for drunkenness and crime.
Do not let us encourage crimes by following the American policy of "going dry," for that, I firmly believe, is what is at the bottom of this particular agitation. Prohibition results in bribery, smuggling, perjury, the drinking of impure substitutes, and other horrors. I repeat: continue education. I see in this Bill no reference to eating, and I am credibly informed that indiscreet over-eating is more fatal than over-indulgence in drink. I recollect being at Westminster Abbey, on a Saturday afternoon, when a predecessor of the Lord Bishop of Oxford, then a Canon of Westminster, addressed to those assembled a few words of wisdom. He referred to the feelings of oppression and gloom that often came over people, so that the world seemed very black, and he went on to tell them that when they were in that state they should ask themselves one practical, common sense question, and that was. ''What did I have for dinner yesterday?" I am bound to say that there are times when we do eat and drink what is not good for us, and when I have such a feeling myself I always remember and 309 adopt that invaluable advice. I would like to see the medical profession going through the country a little more than they do now, and delivering addresses on the wisdom of moderation in the matter of eating and drinking. At the same time, I do not think that we ought to punish others for the indiscretions of the few.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, I have carefully read the earlier speeches of the debate, and I listened to the speech delivered by the noble Viscount, Lord Cave, and therefore I am not going over much of the ground already covered. I only wish to draw attention to one or two points which I think are worthy of consideration. First of all, it is notable that none of the speeches in support of the Bill have been in direct praise of the proposals in the measure. All the suggestions have been that it should be referred to a Select Committee, or some other body, for consideration. The most rev. Primate referred to the fact that this House had shown its true interest in temperance reform by passing, a short time ago, a Bill which I had the honour of introducing into this House, and he also mentioned the case of this proposal as showing that we all wish to see excessive drinking reduced. When, however, we come to the actual proposals in this Bill, we have to consider whether those proposals are going to conduce to the end that we desire.
The Lord Bishop of London said that we must do something, and although he admitted—and he was one of the few supporters of the Bill who made any such admission—that great progress has been made in temperance reform, he described that progress as being due entirely to the work of temperance, bodies. I agree to a great extent, but I say that the progress made is not entirely due to temperance bodies. I believe still more that it has been due to the example of people who have learned the desirability of being moderate in the amount of alcoholic liquor which they take. I think the individual has done more than any legislative enactments or temperance bodies. There has been no temperance society at work in Scotland, but men there have learned the wisdom and benefit of being abstemious. I am a democrat in that respect. I trust to the man much more than to those who try to control him. I remember reading 310 a speech of Lord Rosebery on Johnson, in which he said that the example of one good layman was worth more than many missionaries. Example is better than precept, and precept is better than Government control.
The Bishop of London and Lord Milner referred to statistics, and said that what has been done up to now is not enough, and that the progress of temperance must be accelerated. The Bishop of London quoted figures, but did not make any comparison—and, after all, comparison is everything in these questions—between the pre-war state of things and the state of things at present. He made no allowance in his figures for the increase of population, the greater supervision and stringency of the police. His comparison was that of last year with the year of the Armistice, and we know that in making a comparison you must go back to prewar conditions. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh and the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, are very strong on the point of disinterested management. I am not opposed to that principle. I remember attending a meeting under the auspices of the revered father of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, for the purpose of discussing the advantages of disinterested management. I am also connected with trust companies which work on that principle.
Lord Balfour of Burleigh said you must have that principle because, if you do not, the sole aim of those who have charge of public-houses is to sellspirituous liquor. That is exactly where he is wrong. If you go to see the public-house that I have been running in Camberwell, called "The Rose," you will find that that is not the case. The manager, a most excellent man, told me that, though they sell more spirituous liquor than they do "soft" drinks, the profits on the soft drinks are far greater than the profits on beer and alcohol. Therefore, it is not their sole interest to sell spirituous liquor.
The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, made great play with the Carlisle experiment, as did also the noble Viscount, Lord Milner, to-day. I think we are all rather vague as to what happened at Carlisle. I have no precise information, but I should not like to tie myself down to the improvement that is alleged to have accrued. Everybody recognises that there was a great improvement during 311 the war, but there is no comparison between war conditions and the conditions to-day. To-day, Carlisle, per 10,000 of the population stands sixtieth on the list for convictions for drunkenness. The figure is 17.57 per 10,000, whereas in the case of the lowest place on the list it is 1.24. Carlisle is not quite so sober, and the conditions there are not quite so satisfactory, as has been represented by various noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. At the same time, I think it is a subject which might fairly be inquired into. The convictions for drunkenness in Carlisle in 1922 were 94, compared with 154 in 1921, and 78 in 1920. Evidently 1921 was a bad year.
Your Lordships may have received a circular which quotes Sir George Hunter, a leading teetotaller, as having been reported in the annual report of the United Kingdom Alliance for 1920 to have said:I have not only evidence, but proof, before me that there is much more excessive drinking and drunkenness in Carlisle under State management than would appear from the number of convictions. Only a small proportion of the 'drunks' are convicted.I should not pay much attention to that if I had not been given an extract from the Carlisle Journal. I will read what occurred in the case of a certain gentleman, according to the evidence given by Police-constable Warwick. This officer is reported to have said that—At 10.20 p.m. beside the Caledonian Hotel accused looked at witness and said, "What the—are you looking at?" Seeing that the man was drunk witness ignored his remarks and walked on.No wonder there are not so many convictions for drunkenness in Carlisle if that is the attitude of the police. I am not opposed to disinterested management, but I will not have Carlisle quoted as a wonderful instance of the success of State control. We need far closer inquiry than has yet been made into it to assure us that that experiment is a success.
Coming to the question of Prohibition, I understand that under the conditions of no-licence all public-houses and clubs would be liable to be closed. Whilst those who can afford it would have all the drink they require, the poorer man would have no place to go to for social purposes where spirituous liquor was sold. That seems to me to be a wicked proposal. 312 What would be the almost certain result? Those who could afford it would have their supplies of liquor sent by their wine merchants or brewers, and those also who perhaps really ought to be move careful in the amount they drink would probably get their supplies, too. It would be brought to their houses, where it could be supplied to the occupants in unlimited quantities. If you want prohibition you should apply it to the whole Kingdom, on the American principle, and not to selected areas—and those not the areas which most want it, because they would be least likely to vote for it.
The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London quoted what had taken place in the United States. He said that fifty-two Bishops had one and all declared that on no account would they go back to "No-Prohibition." I think that is quite possible. We have all heard of the iniquitous saloon system which prevailed in America. But suppose you desire to obtain a 100 per cent. pitch of temperance, the United States were very low in the scale—only 10 per cent.—and they passed a measure which made it into a 20 per cent. temperance country. It may have improved the country, but I say that we are far above that standard already. We are a 60 or 70 per cent. temperance country, and what might be beneficial in the United States might have very harmful results if tried in this country. We have all heard terrible stories of the drinking that goes on in the United States. The other day I saw a lady cousin, who has just come back from that country—a lady with no special bias, who is not engaged in public work. She said, "The one thing I want to do is to take part in an anti-Prohibition crusade. The scenes of drunkenness that I have seen in America were so appalling that I would do anything to stop Prohibition in this country." Possibly, the fifty-two American Bishops know nothing about these things. To say that Prohibition has been a success, except in certain parts of the United States, perhaps in the Middle West, is to say what is contrary to all the evidence that comes before one.
It may be said that I have condemned the saloon system myself, and that if the saloon system is bad for America why are not public-houses bad here? I can give one reason, which is, I think, a very valid reason indeed, why conditions which produce excessive drinking in one country 313 may not do so in another. It was the American police system, the Tammany Hall system, that used to prevail, which was the real secret of the mischievous effects of the saloon system. Thank heaven, in this country we have not got a corrupt police. On the contrary, I believe the police supervision of public-houses is conducted to the great benefit of the people. Of courses, the trade comes in for great obloquy. I can never understand why the machinations of the trade are held to be so terrible. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, holds very strong opinions about them. Of course, they have their organisations. But how do they adversely affect the people? Surely you can have people conducting their trade and wishing to sell their drink, and yet desiring to carry on their business in a way that is innocuous to the people.
I think it is a pure libel, and most unwise, to try to divide people into sheep and goats, and to say that everybody who is connected with the trade is bad. I am perfectly disinterested and impartial in this matter, because I do not know a brewer or distiller, or anybody who has shares in their concerns. My experience is that it is a great mistake always to condemn everything which is connected with the trade I believe that a far better line to work on is that of trying to improve the individual and giving him encouragement and support by temperance societies, and so forth, and not by such drastic means as Government or State control. Marvellous progress has been made in temperance of late years. We are now getting almost daily progress in that direction and the result of passing such a Bill as this might be mischievous. It would be a waste of time to send this Bill to a Select Committee because it is such an ineffectual measure. If any inquiry is to be made it seems to me it would be wise to remit the whole question to a Royal Commission. We have already seen what mischief can be done by placing the railways and other undertakings under Government control. Do not let us repeat that blunder and by doing so retard the progress of temperance in this country. Do not let us throw away the substance for the shadow.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for more than a very few moments. I come from a country where local option has been in 314 existence for some years. I was in another place when the Bill was discussed which brought local option into existence, and I can say that almost everything that was prophesied by its opponents has happened and that none of the prophecies that we would become more sober has come true in Scotland or, if it has done so, it has been for other reasons. I want to warn your Lordships against voting for local option. I am in favour, as I believe your Lordships are, of greater temperance in the nation. But we find in Scotland that the effect of local option has been to entrench drink in our midst and to tie our hands so that we can do absolutely nothing in those places where drunkenness is rife. Surely, the places that we want to make more sober are not the West Ends of towns, or the sober districts, but the industrial centres where there is most drink—on the Clyde, for instance, and in Dundee and places of that sort. Do you really suppose that if you give local option to those places you are going to do away with the means of getting drink? It is exactly, absolutely and entirely the reverse, and every noble Lord who is supporting this Bill knows that as well as I do. How are you going to get over that difficulty? If you give local option to such places as those it simply means that you will have lost all control in the future and that they will go on exactly as they are, or become even worse, while your hands will be tied and neither the Government nor anybody else will be able to bring about any improvement. That is really my chief reason for opposing the Bill.
Another reason is that I have a strong objection to the manufacture of drink by the State. But although that is a strong objection to the Bill, it is a small matter, I think, compared with the other, and one which can be dealt with. May I answer one point which was raised by the most rev. Primate? He referred to the controversy that took place, I think, in the Press in which it was said that if you vote for "going dry" you will be "dry" for ever. That is not in the Bill and I agree with him to that extent, but I think he rather avoided the point that this is supposed to be local option and is supposed to be fair. If there is to be local option and people are to have freedom of choice, why should they not do as is done in Scotland, where they find no difficulty in going back to no-change if people want to do 315 so? It sounds fair, but I think that if they had the ordinary measure of disinterested management they probably would never go back to it.
The other point that I wish to refer to is the franchise. There is one thing in that connection which has never been noticed by your Lordships—namely, that it is the local government electorate that has been chosen. It ought, surely, to be the Parliamentary electorate. As it is, the people who consume drink and are most interested in it—I do not say the most drunken, but the men who were young soldiers in the war and were able to look after themselves then—cannot vote under the Bill because they are lodgers, and yet every old woman in the place who happens to be a ratepayer is able to vote. Then, if you have prohibition in any single place, you cannot carry it out. It does not matter where you have it. If you have it in a county—which is bigger and in that sense is better—and the county town is still "wet," how do you think you are going to keep the county "dry" in spite of all your laws? Are you going to have a policeman on every road? It is impossible. As we have seen, this is the type of Bill which does not work in practice. We have to go beyond any round table conference and have a Committee to deal with the whole question, and not with one Bill or the other.
THE LORD 'BISHOP OF DURHAM
My Lords, my objection to this Bill goes to its principles. The suggestion that the Bill should be sent to a Select Committee and the objections to it dealt with there is really irrelevant, because my objections are objections which are properly expressed in voting against the Second Reading. I would not have intruded myself at this late stage upon your Lordships' attention were it not that I think it is of real importance that it should not be supposed that the unanimity upon the Episcopal Bench is complete, or that it represents in this matter the settled judgment of the Church of England.
My studies of history have led me to certain conclusions with regard to episcopal unanimity. I find that episcopal unanimity is very rarely represented by wise legislative proposals and I find that episcopal unanimity is very rarely representative of the general judgment of the Church of England. I feel acutely the 316 discomfort of being, so to speak, isolated from my episcopal brethren on this question, and especially since this Bill was introduced by a right rev. Prelate to whom I am bound by ties of close personal friendship as well as the admiration which is generally felt for his many amiable qualities. But I dislike the principle of episcopal round robins, which are more misleading than conclusive. I have no doubt that if I had the privilege of cross-examining my right rev. brethren as to the precise significance of their signatures which are attached to the round robin your Lordships have before you, the response would be even more striking than the unanimity of signatures.
There is no longer any aspect of the Bill unconsidered or uncriticised. I have read the reports of your Lordships' debates on previous occasions when this Bill was before the House and when I was unable, to my great regret, to be present. But I am bound to say that I think the criticism has been thorough and conclusive. The Bill emerges in tatters. Without going into detail, I desire to give your Lordships quite shortly the four reasons why I find myself, not merely as a member of your Lordships' House, but as Bishop of Durham, compelled to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill.
In the first place, this Bill enshrines the principle of prohibition, for local veto is nothing less; and this principle is an unsound one, for it carries positive law into a region where positive law ought not to attempt to enter. To determine one's own choice of food and drink is, I submit to your Lordships, one of the essential franchises of self-respecting manhood, but, of course, it must be exercised reasonably and with due consideration for the rights and interests of society. That franchise cannot, however, wisely be taken away. The principle of prohibition, as the noble Duke has just pointed out, cannot be limited in its application. That is one of the lesson" that America can teach us. You may begin with a small local veto area, but when you have to address yourself seriously to the principle of enforcing your law you have to go on increasing the area until, to use the American expression which is now becoming familiar, your effort becomes nation-wide. Indeed, there are voices in America which are now declaring that even the 317 nation is not wide enough, or sufficiently extensive, and that the effort must extend over civilisation if your purpose is to be achieved.
My second reason is this, and I advance it after having listened with the closest attention to the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, speaking upon this Bill. It does, in my judgment, propose to treat the liquor interests unfairly. There is something like a breach of the under standing on which the Act of 1904 was passed. Compensation exacted from the trade itself is not, in any true sense, compensation at all. It is difficult—I find it impossible—to distinguish such compensation from a hypocritical, because disguised, confiscation. My third reason is this. I observe that far greater judges than myself on this point—I am no judge at all; and I will only mention one, Mr. Sherwell—have pointed out that the finance of the Bill, apart from objections in principle, is thoroughly unsound, and I cannot vote for a Bill with respect to which I have that conviction.
Fourthly, and this perhaps is more serious, the policy of the Bill is doubly unwise, because it implies inequality in treatment of rich and poor, and therein it must needs breed the most vehement and embittered resentment in the minds of the poor. Do you propose to pass such legislation at this time when, from every side, so many influences are pouring into the arena which have the effect of breeding suspicion between classes, and embittering those relations between rich and poor, between one class and another, upon which in the last resort the very stability of society depends? I do not believe that this legislation is needed in the interest of temperance. The improvement of the people if incontestible. I have had the honour, unworthily, of being a clergyman for thirty-seven years, and in my lifetime I have seen the most marked improvement in this respect. A quarter of a century ago, when I came to live in Westminster, there were old inhabitants of Westminster who told me that when they were young they had to pick their way through the bodies of drunkards lying in some of the streets of Westminster in order to go to worship at St. Margaret's Church. Can your Lordships conceive such a thing! That has vanished like a bad memory.
There are other circumstances that one can conceive. One of the most impressive 318 changes in the conditions of social life to-day is the enormous multiplication of motor power in the possession of the people, and if Mr. Henry Ford succeeds in his aim, it seems not unlikely that we shall see the day—it may have its terrors—when his ideal of "One citizen one motor car" will be carried out. People are not likely to drink when they have to drive motor cars, especially having regard to the perilous state of our roads. We ought to look and see whether our experience does not disclose some more promising methods of improving the conditions under which the drinking of the people is carried on. We do not want this Bill. Let us preserve the licences, and, if necessary, let us perpetuate our war experience. Let us, if necessary, still further shorten the hours for the sale of drink. Let us make sure of earlier closing. Let us throw ourselves into the great and salutary movement for providing improved public-houses. I desire to attack morbid drunkenness by abolishing those social evils, the by-products of industrialism, which produce it, and which, I believe, lie at the root of most of the drunkenness that we deplore. Bad housing, the monotony of labour, the intermittency of work—these things, if they could be taken away from our industrial system, would take away with them the greater part of this morbid drunkenness which we all deplore.
I say that instead of making the trade in alcohol disreputable—as, with disastrous consequences, they have done in America—lot us try to make it respectable and responsible. I would have the whole hierarchy of the trade, from the brewery director who may have a seat in your Lordships' House to the little potboy who has not yet grown old enough to be on the record of our citizens, know that they are engaged in a lawful and a salutary industry, ministering legitimately to the needs of the people; an industry, indeed, shadowed by great risks. I would raise the standard of responsibility of those who have the management of this industry, which has its fair place in the general body of legitimate industries in this country. I would clothe every member of the trade with his full responsibility of citizenship. I would not make him a 319 member of a disreputable trade, but of a respectable trade.
Lastly, I want to say this. The only thing that can defeat the victory of temperance in this country is the bigotry and unwisdom of teetotal fanatics forcing coercive legislation on the people. The Church stands to depreciate its legitimate influence when it manufactures sins and proceeds to impress them upon the people. It is then, when the conscience is diverted to sham sins, that it begins to lose its moral perspective and weakens. There is the greatest possible danger in legislation which offends the conscience of the citizen. It is impossible to take part in this discussion without having at every turn America in our minds. I do not know whether your Lordships have read—if not, I will take the liberty of recommending it—a book called "Prohibition inside out" by a gentleman called Roy Haines, who appears to be at the head of the Department which is charged with the enforcement of the Prohibition Law in America. Mr. Haines is good enough to assure his readers that, given time and still severer penalties against those who break the Prohibition Law, he will succeed to the full in the object which he has laid down for himself. But your Lordships can judge for yourselves if you read the book. He deals with the methods of suppression, and refers to the corruption which is prevalent in every section of the community. When your Lordships have read the book you will see not so much the Pyrrhic victory which he contemplates as a piece of extreme unwisdom and folly.
In conclusion, let me direct your Lordships' attention to the utterance of one of the most eloquent of English and Irish bishops, the late Archbishop Magee, a distinguished predecessor of the most rev. Primate, and quote one sentence from an address which he delivered to your Lordships' House. I will quote it as nearly as possible in the words used by Archbishop Magee, and I think it will be found nearly correct. Archbishop Magee said—If I am driven to the choice whether I would have England free or England sober, I should reply without hesitation"—and here your Lordships will allow me to put in words of my own—I am fully aware of the strangeness the declaration may have in some ears as coming from a man of my own profession—and then allow me 320 to quote from the Archbishop's speech again—that I should prefer England free to England compulsorily sober; for if England be free she will ultimately become sober; but if she be compulsorily sober she will have lost her freedom, and will not ultimately retain her sobriety.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I shall not trouble your Lordships more than a few minutes. I might have left the opposition to this measure in the hands of the right rev. Prelate who has just resumed his seat. The brilliant analysis he made of the principles which lie behind this measure must have convinced your Lordships of the necessity of rejecting the Second Reading. I should like to sum up in a few sentences what I believe to be the general effect of this debate. I want to approach the subject with very great respect. I have the greatest respect for the authors of this Bill and I am most anxious, passionately anxious, for the cause of true temperance. But I believe this Bill to be altogether unsound, unsound in all its particulars.
I am not going to trouble your Lordships with the difficult subject of compensation. You have heard it discussed ad nauseam, but I should like to say one or two sentences upon it. I agree with every word that Viscount Cave said about the objection there is to this diminishing scale of compensation according to time limit. Twelve years' purchase is said to be the fair value of a licence, and that, of course, is much less than the freehold value. But it is said that although twelve years' purchase is a fair value now the fair value twelve years hence would be nothing at all. Apply that to other property, freehold property, say, of twenty-five years' purchase—the figure does not matter. Are we to say that in five years' time it shall be worth twenty-years' purchase; in ten years' time, only fifteen years' purchase; and in twenty-five years' time, nothing at all. Everyone, of course, will repudiate any such doctrine. Not only is it bad in itself, but I believe it would be absolutely unworkable.
Conceive the situation at the end of twelve years. You say that the interested parties have been warned and ought to have saved for the rainy day. Do you think that the individual publican will do that? He will know that it is a mere chance whether he is suppressed or 321 not. It will depend on a fluke as to whether a no-licence resolution is passed or rejected in his district. He will not save anything; and do you suppose that any Government will be allowed to turn that man out at the end of twelve years without a penny compensation? The thing is absolutely impossible. Some other arrangement would have to be found. For these reasons, and for other reasons which have been advanced in the course of this debate, I believe the financial provisions of the Bill are unsound and the compensation proposals wrongly conceived.
But I will turn to the real principle of the Bill. What is the real principle? Not, as the Lord Chancellor said, that something must be done. That is not the principle of any Bill. The principle of the Bill is the alternative option-either no-change, or prohibition, or reorganisation. I think that of all the notable speeches which have been made in this debate—and there have been several: the debate has been thoroughly worthy of your Lordships' House—the most notable was the speech of Lord Dawson of Penn, because he spoke with such immense authority. What was the result of that speech? In the first place, he disposed once and for all of the theory that, according to medical expert opinion, alcohol was a poison and anything but beneficent.
His words are very strong, but I will only quote this one passage—It may be taken that the opinion of the medical world, both in this country and abroad, is by a very largo majority in favour of alcohol as a useful substance, a beneficent agent, when taken in proper quantities, at proper times and by the people whom it suits.That is very strong language. I know that many noble Lords and right rev. Prelates opposite, will not agree with it. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London does not agree. He looks upon alcohol as poison, but we know that in expert medical opinion this is no longer true. That theory has passed away. It is not a poison; it is a beneficent agent, taken in moderation. That seems to me to colour the whole discussion.
What Lord Dawson of Penn said about temperance was also remarkable. I am not going to trouble your Lordships by repeating his words, but he made it clear that in his opinion, speaking as a great medical authority, there had been an 322 enormous improvement in temperance during the last few years. That is not only the experience of the medical profession, it is the experience of other professions. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham, speaking for his own profession, said that the position of temperance had enormously improved in the last few years. I am sure it has. The only person who expressed a doubt on the subject was Lord Milner, and he was not satisfied with the statistics. But the statistics are perfectly clear. Convictions for drunkenness in 1914 were 180,000. They went down certainly during the war and rose a little after the war, but they never rose to the figure of 180,000 again. They never got higher than 95,000, and that was two years ago, and since that time they have continually diminished. There is no question about it. All the evidence shows that temperance in this country is making a progressive improvement. It is in the light of these facts—namely, that the medical profession no longer considers alcohol to be pernicious, and that the position of temperance has improved, substantially improved—that we have to approach this Bill.
What does this Bill propose? It proposes as an option that it should be in the power of a bare majority in a relatively small locality to establish prohibition. Why are we to do that? What right have we to do it? What right have we to say to a perfectly worthy minority in, a particular locality: "You shall be at the mercy of the majority, who may forbid you doing what the medical profession say you have a perfect right to do"? I am certain that you cannot defend that proceeding upon any platform. These people have a right to the protection of Parliament, to the protection of your Lordships' House, and they ought not to be rendered liable, by the vote of a bare majority of their neighbours, to be deprived of that which is legitimately theirs. This proposal is not only unjust but, as the Bill stands, alsolutely unworkable. You cannot have prohibition in one area and no prohibition in the next area. Everybody knows that it will not work, and noble Lords pointed out, on the first night of the debate, that incidents on the border would lead to a condition almost of chaos which it would be impossible to unravel. In that respect I am sure that the Bill is unworkable.
323 I come to the other aspect of the Bill, to reorganisation and disinterested management. I desire to speak of disinterested management with the greatest respect, for I am, to a large extent, in favour of it. I see no reason why the question of disinterested management should not be gravely considered. By disinterested management I do not mean that the whole organisation of liquor in this country should be in the hands of a central bureaucracy in London. I believe that such a system would turn out to be not only unworkable but exceedingly objectionable. Why should we want a bureaucracy of such enormous dimensions, with a huge number of employees in all parts of the country? We should see reproduced that which is now so familiar, the spectacle of a large State employment. The officials would combine together to use their political power, and all the evils of Nationalisation, with which your Lordships are thoroughly familiar, would follow. Not only would the system be objectionable for that reason, but it would be entirely inelastic. I think that one thing at least has been made clear from the debates of the last few days. We should like to see experiments for improving public-houses. We are all in favour of improved public-houses. But would they be attained under a great wooden organisation in London? I do not believe it. I do not believe that such an organisation would be capable of working out the sort of experiment that we desire to see. I consider that disinterested management of that kind is really unworkable.
This subject is not a new one. I had the honour of discussing this matter in your Lordships' House twelve years ago, in the lifetime of the father of my noble friend beside me, the late Lord Balfour of Burleigh. At the time when the Scottish Temperance Bill was passing through this House, we put forward, on behalf of this Bench on which I sat then as I do now—at that time I acted under the leadership of my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, who was then leading the Opposition—a system of disinterested management. It was not in the least like the system contained in this Bill. It had totally different ideas; it was disinterested, and it was disinterested management, but our scheme did not put disinterested management in the hands of the community but in the hands of 324 recognised companies. That was the system which we put forward. We differed a little in detail; my noble friend the late Lord Balfour of Burleigh favoured a proposal rather different from that which we advocated. But these were only differences of detail. The broad principle was the same. Our disinterested management recognised private enterprise and was based upon private enterprise, whereas this is based upon nationalisation and bureaucracy. The difference between the two systems is absolutely vital, and consequently, though I can and do speak in favour of disinterested management, and though I should like to see it tried, that does not seem to me to be a reason for supporting this Bill.
What is the sum of the matter? The Bill proposes Prohibition; we cannot support Prohibition. The Bill proposes a form of disinterested management; we cannot support that form of disinterested management. The Bill proposes a method of compensation; we believe that compensation to be unfair and unworkable. How, then, can we vote for the Second Reading of this Bill? Is it not clear that upon all those grounds the Bill must fail? If your Lordships ask whether we have nothing to propose, I certainly am not prepared to meet that question with a bare negative. Your Lordships are acquainted with the proposal of my noble friend, Lord Lamington, who spoke just-now—a proposal which has passed through your Lordships' House and is now pending in another place. If an inquiry is requested into the liquor question or into disinterested management, by all means have an inquiry. There need be no difficulty; if the Government wish to have an inquiry, they can take the necessary steps to hold it. But that is no reason why your Lordships should sanction a Bill in which you do not believe and of which you do not approve, and accordingly, whatever may happen in the future of this subject, for the present I ask your Lordships to reject the Second Beading of this Bill.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, I am confident that I shall receive at your Lordships' hands that indulgence and understanding sympathy which you always extend to those who address this House for the first time, more especially at this very late hour, and particularly, I may add, because I 325 have the very responsible office thrust upon me by those who promoted this Bill of winding up the debate so far as they are concerned. We have just listened to an extraordinarily eloquent appeal from my brother, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham; and, incidentally, your Lordships may be quite confident of this, that so long as he graces the Episcopal Bench—and I only hope it may be for a very long time—there is very little chance of complete unanimity on that Bench. I hope that your Lordships will not be led away by the extraordinary flow of eloquence that we have heard this afternoon from the right rev. Prelate, nor by other flows of eloquence which we heard earlier in the debate.
May I remind your Lordships that every speech that has been made against this Bill might almost have been made, with a few omissions, on any temperance platform? That is to say, all the speeches advocated temperance and admitted that we were faced, as a nation, with a tremendous problem. It is a tremendous problem, and, if some of us sometimes appear to get a little hot with regard to it, I can assure you that it is because we have touched it and handled it and seen what it really means. If you ask any of the social workers of this country, both men and women, if you ask any one who has anything to do with the great mass of the people who live in this country and, I should add, in any other country—and I lived and worked for seventeen years in a distant part of this Empire—they will all tell you the same tale, that if you really got rid of, or eliminated to a large extent, this tremendous evil you would have gone far to solve the social problem. I do not say that it is the only factor in that problem. Not a bit; other factors have been alluded to, such as housing conditions, and so on. Hundreds of our fellow-citizens are living in places in which none of us would allow our thoroughbred stock to live. It is quite true that there are many factors in this problem, but I submit that this is a factor recognised by everybody. And yet, when it comes to this Bill, your Lordships say that you will refuse—though I hope that you will not do so—even to give it a. Second Beading. You put us off with a Royal Commission. Why cannot we get busy with this thing right 326 away? Surely this Bill is at least worth so much consideration at this moment.
Every speaker who has spoken of the problem has admitted the need, but what alternatives have been suggested' Lord Dawson of Perm spoke of lectures and education. We entirely agree. That has been going on, and is going on, under Government supervision to-day. It has been going on for a long time, and the result, undoubtedly, has been great improvement. The reformed public-house, we are told, is one solution of this problem. Why not try it on a larger scale: We are told that there has been so much improvement that there is no need for this Bill. We were told that by the noble Marquess who has just sat down. He said the improvement had been so great that now the medical profession have given up telling us that alcohol is a bad thing, and are saying that it is a good thing. The noble Marquess quoted Lord Dawson, but I noticed that the noble Lord was very careful to qualify what he said, in favour of alcohol as a useful substance, by saying that it was a beneficent agent when taken in proper quantities and at proper times and by people whom it suited. I know it is a very bold thing to say, but so far as the medical profession goes I doubt very much whether they all agree with Lord Dawson's view.
Your Lordships were asked earlier in the debate by the noble and learned Karl, Lord Birkenhead, to reject this Bill on the Second Beading because, he said, it is a badly drafted Bill and it is obscure—almost the most obscure and almost the most badly drafted Bill he had ever encountered in twenty years of Parliamentary life. Others have said the same thing, but your Lordships are not going to refuse a Second Reading on that ground. If it is true that the Bill is badly drafted, the principles are clear, even to the very low intelligence which I myself possess, and which, if I may say so, my noble and learned friend Lord Birkenhead is well aware of—
§ THE EARL OF BIRKENHEAD
If the right rev. Prelate will allow me to interrupt him, I did not ask the House to refuse a Second Reading for the reasons that the Bill was obscure and badly drafted, although it is both, but because it was spoliatory and immoral in its principle of confiscation.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
I am coming to that point later on, but the noble Earl said that his principal complaint against the Bill was that it was so obscure. We are also told that this Bill is not popular control. We are told that if you use those words with political accuracy and precision it is not popular control, but surely to the plain man it is popular control? It leaves to those who live in the locality the decision of how they are going to treat the liquor question. It gives that freedom in three ways, all of which have been greatly criticised, I frankly admit, but I believe all the criticisms can be answered. There is the way of no-change, and there is the way of no-licence. The noble Marquess who has just sat down told us that no-licence approached prohibition. There is an appeal, and it is a very popular appeal, to the liberty of the individual. I submit there is not a single one of us who is not at heart, or I might more accurately say is not by nature, an anarchist. We all hate interference with our personal liberty, but, as a fact, we are hedged around with innumerable restrictions, and if by nature we are anarchists we come in time by grace to be sensible men. We realise that we must have restrictions.
This Bill has been criticised with much eloquence by the Bishop of Durham, who thinks it is interfering with the liberty of the individual. Do not be carried away by that. There is really precious little in it. I believe that those who are going to vote for the Bill are just as keen about liberty, and the liberty of others, as any member of this House. There is only one justification for interference with individual liberty, and that is that by the interference with the liberty of the individual you will gain a greater liberty for the whole body corporate. I submit that if you give this Bill a Second Reading to-night, you will give a greater liberty to the whole body of the nation than the nation enjoys to-day. We have heard criticisms with regard to the unfair restrictions which this Bill proposes. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham, spoke about class legislation, but to-day you are restricting the poor man's beer in a way in which you are not restricting the rich man's wine. That principle has gone on, I believe, since the time of Queen Elizabeth. There is no free trade, I 328 submit, to-day, in the liquor business. It is merely a question of degree. You are not forcing the proposals of this Bill upon people, but the people of the locality will choose for themselves.
The United States of America have been brought in to prejudice this Bill, and I want to say one word about that. It is a significant fact that whenever the case of the United States is quoted with regard to prohibition, you only hear quotations made from New York or the Eastern States. You never hear anything said about the Middle West or the Far West, and the rural districts, and I am bound to believe that most of what you hear with regard to the United States of America and prohibition is not altogether proved, and that there is another side to this question which we in this country hardly ever hear at all. Then, as to disinterested management, we are told that it is nationalisation. I want to say that all we ask for is freedom of experiment. Many people have suggested that something of this kind might be a good thing. How, I ask, can you come to a wise decision with regard to disinterested management as against private ownership in the liquor business until you have had a chance of trying it? All that we who are in favour of this Bill ask is that your Lordships should give the Bill a chance, on the ground that it gives liberty for experiment which is greatly needed.
There is only one other matter to which I feel bound to refer. It is an appeal which was made to the Bishops by the noble Viscount, Lord Long, an appeal to withdraw our support. On what ground? Because our support of this Bill might lead to an attack on the revenues of the Church, and might lead to our losing a certain amount of support. I must say I regret that that appeal should have been made, and I am sure that the noble Viscount does not really think that any Bishop, or anyone else, would respond to it. The real reason why I am going to vote for this Bill is that I am convinced that there is only one solution for all our problems in this country, as in any other country, and that is to get the men, women, and children who compose the nation not only to believe in, but to live, the Christian life.
It is absolutely ridiculous to imagine that we have got any chance of bringing home to the hearts and consciences of the people of this country the message of life 329 as it is in Our Lord so long as we refuse to take every step we can to clear away removable obstacles which stand between those hearts and consciences and the light of God. We believe that this liquor business is one of the things which stand between the hearts and consciences of men and the light of God, and we want to see the harm it does removed, as far as possible. It is for that reason that we ask you to give this Bill a Second Reading, and thereby to give a lead to that large, growing, and sane body of men and women in this country who are in dead earnest about this business, and are
§ anxiously awaiting to-day the decision of your Lordships' House.
THE EARL OF BIBTCENHEAD
In the interests of accuracy I would point out to the right rev. Prelate that I did not say that my principal objection to this Bill was the fact that it was badly drafted. My principal objection to it is its disingenuousness—which is a somewhat different matter.
§ On question. Whether the word "now" shall stand part of the Motion?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 50; Not-Contents, 166.331
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Chelmsford, V.||Boston, L.|
|Gladstone, V.||Braye, L.|
|Haldane, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Grey of Fallodon, V.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)|
|Milner, V.||Clinton, L.|
|York, L. Abp.||Denman, L.|
|Carlisle, L. Bp.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Parmoor, L. (L. President.)||Chester, L. Bp.||Gainford, L.|
|Exeter, L. Bp.||Hemphill, L.|
|Bute, M.||Lichfield, L. Bp.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.)||Lincoln, L. Bp.||MacDonnell, L.|
|London, L. Bp.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Oxford, L. Bp. [Teller.]||Olivier, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Rochester, L. Bp.||Pentland, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.||Phillimore, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Sheffield, L. Bp.||Plumer. L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Southwell, L. Bp.||Sempill, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Stanmore, L.|
|Russell, E.||Arnold, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Vestey, L.|
|Astor, V. [Teller.]||Balfour of Burleigh, L.|
|Argyll, D.||Lanesborough, E.||Hutchinson, V.(E. Donoughmore.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Leicester, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Lichfield, E.||Long, V|
|Lindsey, E.||Novar, V.|
|Bath, M.||Lonsdale, E.||Peel, V.|
|Camden, M.||Lovelace, E.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Lucan, E.||Younger of Leckie, V.|
|Exeter, M.||Macclesfield, E.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Malmesbury, E.||Durham, L. Bp.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Manvers, E.|
|Salisbury, M.||Mar and Kellie, E.||Aldenham, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)|
|Albemarle, E.||Midleton, E.||Arundell of Wardour, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Morton, E.||Ashfield, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Askwith, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Onslow, E.||Atkinson, L.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Plymouth, E.||Avebury, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Powis, E.||Banbury of Southam, L. [Teller.]|
|Cavan, E.||Scarbrough, E.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Stanhope, E. [Teller.]||Barrymore, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Strafford, E.||Belper, L.|
|Derby, E.||Strange, E. (D. Atholl.)||Biddulph, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Yarborough, E.||Blyth, L.|
|Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Eldon, E.||Burnham, V.||Brownlow, L.|
|Grey, E.||Cave, V.||Carson, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Chilston, V.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Churchill, V.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Harewood, E.||Falkland, V.|
|Ilchester, E.||Falmouth, V.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Iveagh, E.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Hood, V.||Cochrane of Cults, L.|
|Cranworth, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)||Rayleigh, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Knaresborough, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Danesfort, L.||Kylsant, L.||Riddell, L.|
|Darling, L.||Lambourne, L.||Ruthven of Gowrie, L.|
|Dawson of Penn, L.||Lamington, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Decies, L.||Lawrence, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Deramore, L.||Lawrence of Kingsgate, L.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Desborough, L.||Leigh, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Marchamley. L.||Sandys, L.|
|Erskine, L.||Marshall of Chipstead, L.||Savile, L.|
|Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Merthyr, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Faringdon, L.||Methuen, L.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Forester, L.||Mildmay of Flete, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Gisborough, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Glanely, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Monkswell, L.||Stafford, L.|
|Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Monson, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Harris, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Hastings, L.||Mowbray, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Hawke, L.||Newton, L.||Sydenham, L.|
|Heneage, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Hothfield, L.||Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)||Tenterden. L.|
|Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L.||Playfair, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)||Wargrave, L.|
|Islington, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Jessel, L.||Raglan, L.||Wharton, L.|
|Joicey, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)||Wyfold, L.|
On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to; Bill to be read 2a this day six months accordingly.