§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, I think this is the third time that I have had the honour of introducing this Bill to your attention, and in 1919 it passed through your Lordships' House. At that time, after receiving several Amendments, it had the strong support of noble Lords who are absent to-day. Lord Salisbury supported it, and also our present Ambassador in Paris, the Marquess of Crewe, Lord Cave and Lord Harris, the last-named being first opposed to the Bill and then coming round to support it. He is here to-day, and I hope to receive his support. Moreover, the Lord President of the Council. Lord Parmoor, in my absence took charge of the Bill and passed it through Committee of this House. Therefore I may claim that the Bill is an old friend of your Lordships' House, and on that score alone I might ask you to give it a Second Reading to-day.
742 In addition, however, since 1919 there has been a great revulsion of feeling in this country towards public-houses and their methods of supplying drink to consumers. I think public opinion now has become much more enlightened, and sees the desirability of public-houses, so far as possible, providing facilities not only for the purpose of drinking but also for various forms of innocent recreation and comfort. Yon first of all have the, great experiment made by the Liquor Control Board, who took over the houses in Carlisle and the area around, and went in largely for this policy of improving the structure of the houses, and also the conditions offered to the public for enjoying food as well as drink and other general forms of recreation—writing letters, playing dominoes, anything of that kind, even dancing, and so on. On the whole I believe that that experiment was a pronounced success, although, possibly on account of financial difficulty, the Geddes Committee reported adversely against any extension of State trading in this particular direction.
Then, again, you have Army canteens run now on quite a different footing from that on which they were run years ago. Now every inducement is given to soldiers to go to canteens and enjoy all possible facilities for recreation. Then there has been the Public House Trust movement. Various companies have been started with this idea of providing better accommoda- 743 tion, and have been very successful indeed. Even such a body as the London County Council have also gone in for this policy of allowing people who wish to go to places of refreshment to do so under certain conditions of comfort and decency.
The great object of this Bill is to do away with dens and snuggeries, and all those conditions under which men went to these places for the purpose of drinking solely. Its object is, by altering the structure and the conditions of the houses, to try to give inducement to the people to enjoy themselves in a reasonable manner without indulging over much in actual drinking. As I have said, public opinion has rapidly progressed in this direction, and many licensing benches proceed on those lines. Still, a great many benches are very obdurate and fanatical, and resist all attempts to improve the houses. Recently I had my attention called to one at Dunstable, and I understand that a few days ago there was a case in Derbyshire. Again, in Portsmouth, a firm of brewers have given up the attempt to improve their houses owing to the opposition which they encountered. I believe the firm of Barclays have been more successful, and notably so in the case of "The Rose," a public-house on the south side of the river. The primary object of the Bill is to prevent, so far as possible, licensing benches from prohibiting these improvements taking place. The second object is to encourage licence holders to improve their houses, and that encouragement is sought to be given by providing that if they make a large outlay they shall find themselves recouped by being charged only half the licence fee, and being exempt from the compensation levy.
In this connection I might refer to the attitude adopted by the county licensing committee of Middlesex. Last year they authorised Sir Herbert Nield, M.P., to go as their mouthpiece to a meeting held by the True Temperance Association, who are at the back of this Bill, and he supported a resolution which was carried, to the effect that once we got the improvement of public-houses as a settled matter in this country, we should have established the primary means of securing true temperance in England, and that we should never do it by coercive measures or prohibitive Acts of Parliament. Sir Herbert Nield supported that resolution as the mouthpiece of the Middlesex licensing committee 744 and that licensing committee wrote to the licensing justices asking them to cooperate in this matter. They recommended :That the Middlesex licensing justices be informed that in the opinion of the county licensing committee it appears desirable that on the submission of plans for new licensed premises, or for alterations of existing licensed premises, the provision of large rooms for meals and refreshments should be encouraged, and that small compartments and standing bars for drinking only should be eliminated, where possible.That is very strong testimony, coming from an important body like the Middlesex licensing committee.
The late Lord Plymouth, who was closely identified with this movement, wrote a letter to the various licensing benches asking for their opinions on the Bill. Out of eighty-three replies received, there were only seven unfavourable, and all the rest more or less, some very strongly indeed, supported the object of the Bill. Therefore it shows that there is a strong progressive tendency to allow these improved conditions to obtain. A gentleman who has been connected for twenty-four years with licensed houses and who was managing director for eighteen years of Trust Houses, Limited, and is now an independent adviser with respect to licensed houses, came to see me a few days ago, and he kindly gave me some notes of his experience.
I am only going to read one or two passages. He says:—The Public-House Improvement Bill is, in my opinion, a necessity, if any systematic and general improvement in licensed premises is to take place. The best evidence I can give of this is that in improved houses under my control, numbering rather more than two hundred, in different parts of the country … including houses owned by brewers, not a single conviction for permitting drunkenness has ever taken place … Some benches of justices have enlightened views as to permitting improvements. Most have not. These views are largely based upon mistrust of the applicant's real intentions …One of the large brewery companies for which I work has its own central kitchen, and the gross rate of profit arising from catering is far in excess of that arising from any alcoholic liquors. Licensed houses ought to be fit for family use, or they ought not to exist.Later in the letter, he mentions the matter of children being allowed to go on licensed premises :—I have experience of many poor districts, and I can say that I know that 745 mental terror is often experienced by young children being locked up at home, and illness by their being left in the streets, while their parents are taking refreshment. Moreover, the parents are obliged to consume all the liquor they require hurriedly, and the public-house becomes, by force of legislation, a mere drinking den and not a place of resort for the public …The public-house affords the only place where free entertainment and rest are provided. No one need spend a penny, no one is asked to do so, and some do not in the houses I control.He further says :In my opinion this Bill contains the seeds from which all constructive temperance reform can spring. Without it the owners of licensed houses, who are content with present-day conditions, have a complete excuse for doing very little, and the reformers, in many districts, are up against a cul de sac.''That is strong evidence from a man who has been for twenty-four years connected with this movement.
I may just quote one other passage. It is from a speech made by Professor Dixon in the course of the Lady Priestley Memorial Lecture, given under the auspices of the National Reform Society:One disgraceful state of affairs still required solution, especially in the larger cities—namely, the condition of the public-houses. These must not be allowed to remain as mere drinking palaces. Their place must be taken by decent houses of recreation and refreshment, at which all people might meet in a reasonable and friendly manner.The gentleman from whom I have previously quoted admitted that this Bill might require amendment in some of its clauses, and I do not suggest for a moment that it is a cast-iron measure, though I think its principles find intentions are sound.
I will very briefly go through some of the clauses. Clause 1 describes the conditions under which it is proposed that a licence should be applied for and the position of the licensing justices. Clause 2 deals with appeals to quarter sessions if a licence is refused or if any onerous terms are imposed. Clause 4 is a new clause, inserted owing to the passing of the Licensing Act of 1921. Clause 5 deals with children on licensed premises unless, owing to special circumstances, a specified part of such premises is reserved for adults. Clauses 6 and 7 deal with the "encouragement of this movement by the remission of taxation.
746 This is an old Bill and I need not go more fully into the question of the desirability of improving conditions in public-houses. I have had nothing but support for the Measure. The only opposition I have seen was in last Sunday's Observer, the organ. I believe, of the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, which published an article, or letter, suggesting, or rather definitely stating, that this was purely a "trade "measure. I think there was a second letter saying that the money for this temperance association is supplied by "the trade." I can categorically deny that. I only hope that the Observer, when it heat's of my statement, will withdraw its innuendo. There is no instance of any of these firms contributing funds to the association. Not only so, but there are many cases in which we have refused large offers of monetary help. We invariably work on our own, without being dependent upon the trade. There may be some subscribers who are interested in breweries, but we are absolutely independent of any trade organisation, and, if it is any satisfaction to the Observer, [note that our total income is less than £1,000 a year, which is not very much in these days for carrying on propaganda. The statement published was an offensive innuendo, and I hope it will be absolutely withdrawn by the paper or by the noble Viscount, if he is here. Personally, I think we are rather quixotic in refusing funds from these trade organisations, for the object is a laudable one. However, that has been our policy.
The only other opposition I know of comes from the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, who has placed on the Paper an Amendment for the rejection of the Bill. This is an extraordinary thing, and it shows how very misleading are our Party labels. Here am I, a Conservative of the Conservatives, advocating reform, and there is the noble Lord, who, I suppose, is a strong Radical, and who wants to perpetuate the system of dens and snuggeries, with all their facilities for drinking under disgraceful and disreputable conditions. That is the difference. One matter which may bear upon this point is the question of working men's clubs. There are some which are very respectable and very well managed; there 747 are others whose membership is chiefly made up of very strong Radicals or Socialists.
Perhaps your Lordships may not know-that these clubs have almost absolute freedom in their conduct. Usually on Sundays they start at 10 o'clock or 10.30 in the morning. They begin with a variety entertainment, and follow, with children on the premises, with dancing, gambling, and drunkenness. A single case of drunkenness does not entitle a policeman to enter a club ; it is only when drunkenness becomes of a scandalous or serious nature that the police are entitled to enter a club and remove people who are drunk. Compare that with public-houses which are under strict supervision. The one fear of a publican is that he should have a case of drunkenness on his premises, and his one desire is to conduct his business in a proper, legitimate, and decent fashion. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, is interested in having these advanced Socialistic clubs managed on that system. I am not a great admirer of State interference, but I think it is better to have public-houses with State supervision, from which no serious disadvantage results to the public.
My noble friend Lord Curzon, a few days ago, on the Second Heading of the Matrimonial Causes Bill, expressed the opinion that it was unusual and unwise for the House to reverse its decision on a Bill which had had a Second Reading on a previous occasion. The Bill to which I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to-day is in precisely the same position, and I only hope that your Lordships will now support the Bill, and not stop the progress of a measure which seeks to enable the masses of the people to spend their hours of recreation under such conditions of comfort, if not of decency, as all the better classes of the country can enjoy. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Lamington.)
§ LORD CLWYD had given Notice to move as an Amendment to the Motion, That the Bill be read 2a this day six months. The noble Lord said : My Lords, in moving this Amendment I do not intend to follow the noble Lord who has moved the Second Reading of this Bill into any personal question. The only thing I would say is 748 that the grounds on which I oppose this Bill are not those which he anticipated were mine when he referred to me personally during his speech. I sympathise to the full with the noble Lord in his effort to give increased facilities for the recreation of the public. I recognise the sincerity of his motive in bringing forward this Bill, and I know that he will recognise that I am equally sincere in the grounds on which I oppose it. I am aware that the House is anxious to reach the very important subject which is next on the Order Paper, and I will endeavour to compress my remarks into as small a compass as possible.
§ The object of this Bill is to open the way to increased facilities for recreation in connection with licensed premises. I am opposing the Motion for Second Reading because it seems to me that if the Bill is carried it will materially and injuriously affect the present powers of the licensing justices. Whatever differences of opinion there are, and there are, of course, acute differences of opinion, upon the drink question, we all recognise two facts. The first is that public opinion in this country, as the result of long experience, has created an elaborate system for the regulation and control of the sale of intoxicating liquors. Those regulations are embodied in Parliamentary enactments. The second fact upon which I think we shall all agree is that these limitations and restrictions are necessary in the public interest. There is, perhaps, another fact on which we shall not disagree—that on the whole the licensing justices of this country, who are responsible for exercising these controlling functions, have generally exercised them wisely and usefully.
§ This Bill proceeds upon the assumption that, in order to secure extended facilities for recreation in connection with licenced premises, it is necessary to grant certain privileges and exemptions for the purpose of inducing licence holders to provide these extended facilities. My opposition is based, in the main, upon my conviction that the privileges and exemptions proposed to be granted for this purpose by this Bill will involve a weakening of the discretionary powers of the justices and will not be for the public good. Let me place before the House in one or two sentences, instances taken from the 749 clauses of this Bill of what I deem to be limitations imposed upon the discretionary powers of the licensing justices. The first instance is Clause 1, which deals with the conditions under which a special certificate can be obtained. The clause provides that where licensed premises are not merely places for the consumption of intoxicating liquors but contain adequate provision for the supply of other refreshments, and are airy, commodious and comfortable, the justices shall issue a certificate. I know that in the London area a certificate has to obtain the confirmation of the London County Council ; but this proposal is a serious infringement of the discretionary powers of the licensing justices, and I should be very much surprised if, as a whole, the licensing justices of the country failed to take serious objection to it.
§ Another instance o£ what I deem to be limitations imposed upon the discretionary powers of the licensing justices is to be found in subsection (2) of Clause 1, which provides that the licensing justices before whom an application for an improved public-house certificate comes shall not refuse a certificate upon the ground that any alteration of the premises proposed by the applicant would afford "increased accommodation or facilities." As your Lordships know very well the licensing justices have power under Section 71 of the Consolidation Act of 1910 to refuse such alterations when, in their opinion, those alterations might lead to increased facilities for drinking. This Bill would deprive the justices of the right, to refuse a certificate merely on the ground that such alterations would give increased facilities. Whatever our views may be upon the merits of the other clauses in the Bill, I cannot help feeling strongly that this would be a serious limitation of the discretionary powers of the licensing justices.
§ Then, Clause 3 provides that every licence, if the holder thereof be also the holder of a special certificate, shall be deemed to comprise all licences necessary for the purpose of music and dancing. I think that the change in the law which is proposed by the Bill in regard to the granting of entertainment licences is open to grave objection. It is, indeed, true under this clause of the Bill that if the justices felt that public morals or good order were endangered by 750 the granting of such facilities, they could prohibit dancing and impose conditions upon other forms of entertainments : but I would like to appeal to the experience of licensing justices when I say that in my judgment it would be found impracticable, and that if such a clause became law it would materially affect the powers of the licensing justices. Further, Clause 5 of the Bill says that, unless the licensing justices deem it desirable that a specific portion of the premises should be reserved for adults, no prohibition of the presence of children is to apply to premises which have obtained this special certificate. It will be within the recollection of all your Lordships that, in response, I think, to the general sentiment of the country, an Act was passed in 1908 affording protection to children in relation to public-houses, and this clause would be a virtual reversal of that decision.
§ In conclusion, may I briefly refer to the financial provisions of the Bill, in Clauses 6 and 7. Clause 6 proposes to halve the licence duty, and in a statement sent out, I think, by the promoters of the Bill it is rightly estimated that the financial result of that provision would be a loss of revenue to the State of one and a half millions a year. I am a little doubtful whether that particular provision in a Bill would rightly come, within our purview, but I let that pass. The second financial exemption is contained in Clause 7—the abolition in the case of these licensed premises of their liability to pay compensation to the compensation authority. I wonder whether your Lordships have realised the practical meaning of this provision. The amount of the compensation levy in 1922 was £850,000. I do not know what portion of the licensed premises of the country the noble Lord opposite thinks would obtain these certificates. Suppose you put the number at 50 per cent. The meaning of that would be that the total of the compensation fund would he reduced from £850,000 to a little over £400,000. As your Lordships well know, that would strike a fatal blow at the whole compensation scheme for the reduction of licensed premises. It is admitted on all hands that, with the full amount available under the compensation levy, the rate of reduction in licensing is very slow, and if this particular clause were passed, I believe the effect would be practically to wreck the whole scheme.751
§ I think I have said enough to set out the main grounds on which my opposition to this Bill is founded. I believe that it would strike a very great blow at the discretionary powers of the licensing justices, and that if the financial provisions in the Bill were to become law the result would be very unfair indeed. It would be very unfair to make a distinction as between the privileged and the non-privileged licensed premises. Speaking for myself I think privileged licensed premises would naturally have more business and make more profits. It seems to me at all events that the privilege thus conferred ought not to lessen, but rather increase, the liability in regard to payment of the compensation levy. I should be surprised if such a Bill as this received the support of His Majesty's Government. In any event I feel pretty certain that it cannot receive the sanction of Parliament. On those grounds, I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name upon the Paper.
Leave out ("now") and insert at the end of the Motion ("this day six months").—(Lord Clwyd.)
§ LORD TREOWEN
My Lords, I am sure that many of your Lordships have followed, as I have done, with admiration the consistent way in which the noble Lord who has just moved the rejection of this Bill has devoted himself to the question of temperance, and we can feel sure that in taking the course he has done he has acted from the highest motives. Having great sympathy with him and with all he has done, especially in Wales, for temperance, I am very sorry that I cannot follow him on this occasion. For this reason : I think that in the concluding words of his speech he showed a reason—it may not be a good one, but it is a reason—why this Bill should be proceeded with, at any rate to the Committee stage. There is at the present time throughout this country a change in the feeling generally with which we approach what is commonly called the temperance question, and the very difficult question of licensing.
There are two factors which affect it. There is an increasing demand for places of entertainment and refreshment, other than houses which are merely places for the sale of intoxicating liquor. There is, side by side with that, and very closely 752 connected with the causes that lead to it, a great extension of clubs throughout the country. The existence of those two factors, I admit, demand that we should give a fresh consideration to the proposals contained in the noble Lord's Bill. I do not remember whether, on the previous occasion when this Bill was introduced, it went beyond the early stages. I do not think myself that it got beyond a formal Second Reading.
§ LORD TREOWEN
I was not quite sure of that. I think it certainly ought now to be accorded a Second Reading, if only to enable the noble Lord to show in what way the difficulties—and they are real difficulties—referred to by my noble friend Lord Clwyd might be met. I cannot say that I admire the Bill. It does not seem to be well drafted or well considered, but the principle on which it is based—namely, to provide some places where people can get reasonable refreshment and entertainment—is one which should never be turned down. I shall certainly support the Second Reading, although, like Lord Clywd, I do not think there is much chance of it going any further this year. Still, by discussions in Committee we shall be able to give certain indications to those who are studying this question and enable them to bring forward a better Bill in the future.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, there are few in this House or, indeed, in the country who would not commend the principle which is attempted to be put into practice by this Bill. Its object, its apparent object, is to make public-houses more pleasant places, more sociable places, places to which a man can resort for some other reason than the mere desire for alcoholic liquor. But I must tell you quite explicitly that His Majesty's Government consider the provisions of this Bill to be totally and completely inadequate to deal with the problem they seek to tackle. The concessions with regard to the Licensing Laws and the remissions with regard to duties wholly outweigh any possible benefit, if benefit indeed there be, that will be obtained by the passage of this measure.
The whole of this Bill depends on our definition of the words "improved public- 753 house." I have asked myself what is an "improved public-house," and I find it a difficult question to answer. I think the gentlemen who drew up this Bill will also find themselves faced by the same difficulty. The noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, has already drawn attention to a certain phrase, and, with your Lordships' permission, I will read it again. It is the phrase "Where licensed premises are not merely places for the consumption of intoxicating liquors, but contain adequate provision, in view of the character of the house and the wants of the neighbourhood." "In view of the character of the house and the wants of the neighbourhood ! "
I ask your Lordships to put yourselves in the position of licensing justices. You are approached by the publican, let us say of a small public-house in a poor district like Lambeth. He says: "I have a small public-house, I cannot possibly alter it structurally, it is surrounded on all sides by houses, but I am, quite walling to put a couple of tables in my bar parlour and my wife is quite willing to cook a mid-day meal, and we will serve bread and cheese throughout the day." What is the position of the licensing justices? Under this Bill they cannot fail to grant a certificate, and yet not one of your Lordships would seriously say that he considered that this public-house was in any manner really improved. I take the example of the small public-house in a poor neighbourhood because it is the small public-house that is the average public-house and the sort of public-house to which any true temperance reformer has to turn his attention. The whole idea of the improved public-house as contained in this Bill is a pure figment of the imagination of those who have drawn up the measure.
The noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, has already drawn attention to several of the more flagrant weaknesses of this specious measure. I think he was really a little kind to it. Look at Clause 4. It is a clause which is based on a total misapprehension of the problem. You would think from reading Clause 4, which refers us back to the Licensing Act of 1021, and says that so-called improved public-houses shall be opened for an extra hour, provided they supply meals and provided the bars are closed, that the average English public-house was built 754 primarily as a restaurant, and has a little bar parlour tucked away round the corner which can be closed. Most of us, I think, know enough of the English public-house to know that this is a total misconception. The average English public-house is all bar ; it is impossible, structurally, to close the bar, and if it were structurally possible, I ask you to think of the amount of police supervision that would be needed. This provision would be a complete farce.
Then the next clause, Clause 5, has already been referred to. If I may use a slang phrase, I would like to say that I think it really gives the whole show away to suggest that we should go back on this wholesome development of public opinion. Your Lordships have already heard Lord Clwyd deal with the question of the remission of the duty, but there is one point that I should like to make, and that is that as this Bill is drawn all hotels and restaurants, as they stand, will get the benefit of this remission. We are therefore asked to give them a grant of half their already reduced duty; and they will not have to spend a single penny on alterations. This is a concession which His Majesty's Government could not make at the expense of the laxpayer. I confess that when I first read this Bill it seemed to me that it was just the sort of legislation that the True Temperance Association would like to see on our Statute Book. The small study that I have given to this problem, however, has only convinced me that the True Temperance Association never had a very sincere belief in temperance. The Government would view with great and deep sympathy any legislation that they considered would really deal with the public-house system of this country, would really improve it; but this sincere and deep desire to see the system improved does not, in their mind, in any way justify them in giving any sort of support to what I may call a very specious measure.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I am sorry, and I confess a little surprised, to note the attitude of His Majesty's present advisers towards this Bill. I do not think the case is one that ought to be dismissed in the light and airy way of the noble Earl who has just addressed us. I doubt very much whether his experience of public-houses, 755 which is probably not larger than his experience of this House, entitles him to be quite so dogmatic as he was in the utterances, delivered with much grace and charm, to which we have just listened.
Like Lord Clwyd, I am well aware that your Lordships are for the most part assembled here for a discussion which is about to follow, and like him I shall be very brief indeed. I think Lord Laming-ton was quite justified in referring to the argument which I ventured to use yesterday afternoon. I was speaking with regard to the Rill for which Lord Buckmaster was responsible, and the same argument applies to-day. I mean the argument, and the appeal to your Lordships, not to reject the Second Reading of a Bill which has on more than one occasion already been before you and on which you are asked to do no more than give that assent in principle which the acceptance of a Second Reading involves. What has happened in the case of this Bill ? Lord Treowen was informed by Lord Laming-ton that this measure has been before your Lordships' House twice already. It has twice had a Second Reading, and on one occasion not only had it a Second Reading but it passed through Committee stage, through Report, stage and, indeed, passed through your Lordships' House.
It is a very tall order indeed in such circumstances for your Lordships to turn the Bill down, as we have been invited to do by the noble Lord who has just addressed us, on the ground that it is a specious, ill-considered and ridiculous measure. What a reflection that would be upon the previous decisions of the House of Lords; This House contains a number of fairly experienced and sensible people : wisdom has not dawned upon us for the first time since we had this row of phantoms upon that Bench ; and I prefer to think that the House of Lords had some ground for its decisions in previous years, and that we are not assembled to-day to have wisdom preached to us for the first time by a Labour Administration. I most sincerely respect and sympathise with the effort of my noble friend Lord Lamington. He is one of a number of men who for years have been engaged in an effort—to my mind an honourable and entirely disinterested effort—to improve the condition of public-houses in this country. Everyone knows that they stand in need of improvement. Everyone knows that some of the con- 756 ditions are scandalous. Here we have a perfectly sincere endeavour to purify and refine the tone of those institutions, a measure in the interests not merely of the community at large but more particularly of the women, and perhaps more particularly still, of the children of this country. For heaven's sake, when we get an attempt of that sort, do not let us snuff it out as if it were something beneath contempt.
What are the arguments which we hear advanced against the Bill? They have been two-fold, so far as this afternoon's debate is concerned. Nobody knows bettor than I do that Lord Treowen's remarks concerning Lord Clwyd are absolutely true. Lord Clwyd is a noble Lord who has devoted the greater part of his public life to the work of temperance, and we may be certain that he speaks here in no other interest. But what were his objections? They were, in the; main, two-fold. In the first place, he contends that this Bill will interfere with the prerogatives—or rather, I think, the phrase was the discretionary power—of the licensing justices. Then let them get up and say so in this House. There must be plenty of noble Lords in this House with experience of licensing benches, and if the objection be valid—I do not think it is—let us hear their views. But what is the occasion for hearing their objections? Why, in Committee. You do not want these statements made unchallenged, and therefore incapable, for the moment, of contradiction, on the Second Reading. You want to thrash the thing out in Committee. The second objection was the possible financial cost of the exemptions which are suggested in this Bill. The noble Lord produced figures which were calculated on the assumption that every house will necessarily be improved under this Bill. I wish it were so.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Well, my noble friend would be gratified if 50 per cent. were improved. I think he would be gratified if 25 per cent. were improved, and I am not certain that he would refuse 10 per cent. Really, if we are to deal with this question of money, and to be told that a sum of £1,500,000 is a very serious thing, what does the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, say to that ? I had the pleasure 757 of hearing him make a most excellent speech upon an entirely different subject yesterday in which he told your Lordships that a gain to the Exchequer of a sum of from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000 was a beggarly and niggardly affair which was not worth looking at.
§ LORD ARNOLD
Will the noble Marquess permit me to interrupt him? This is rather important. My point yesterday—and, if I may say so, a reference to the Official Report will prove that it was this point that I made—was that £3,50(1,000 was a niggardly sum in relation to the anticipations which had been formed of the yield of this tax, and not that it is a niggardly sum in itself. If your Lordships will allow me to make it clear, I said that this loudly trumpeted fiscal instrument, when gone into, was found to yield only £3,500,000; and though, of course, that sum is not niggardly in itself, it is niggardly in proportion to the anticipations.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I do not want to enter into controversy with the noble Lord as to what he meant. All I know is what he said, and he did, beginning with an estimate of £5,000,000, proceed to cut it down by saying that so much would be spent in collection, so much would be sacrificed by evasion, and, eventually, that you would be lucky if you got £3,500,000, and that if you got that it was a niggardly sum. There is no doubt that the noble Lord said that. I do not want to push him too far, hut you cannot have one member of your Lordships' House and of His Majesty's Government arguing on one day that £3,500,000 is a niggardly sum, and another member on another day complaining bitterly of a possible loss of £1,500,000 sterling.
I venture to say again, however, that the question of finance is surely one for Committee. I am 6ure that my noble friend Lord Lamington will be only too glad, as will all of us, to examine all these considerations in Committee, as well as the points raised by the noble Lord who spoke just now, and whom I understood to say that the cause of temperance would not be advanced in any way by the passage of a measure of this sort. How does it come, then, that bodies of temperance reformers, who for years have devoted 758 their interest to this matter, have concentrated on this Bill, and are anxious to give it a chance and push it forward by every means in their power ? I must remember my own observation about being brief, but I hope that the little I have said may encourage your Lordships to give my noble friend the support of which he seems to stand in need, and, without hesitation and by a large majority, to give a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I shall not stand for one moment between the House and a Division and the Motion of my noble friend Lord Balfour, but I do wish respectfully to point out to the noble Marquess that he has not interpreted in the least the attitude of the Government as expressed by my noble friend. That attitude' was not directed to affirming that an improved public-house, whatever that may-turn out to be, was not a good thing. If you can conceive an ideal public-house, it would be an excellent place of resort for a great many people. The objection directed to this Bill is that the machinery which it proposes to set up is unworkable, and that the definition of the improved public-house in Clause I is hopeless. I cannot conceive of a Bill more likely to give distress of mind to the unfortunate licensing justices who are to determine whether the conditions of Clause 1 are satisfied. I am quite agreeable to the idea that the matter is one which should be inquired into, but it is a matter that must be inquired into in connection with the Licensing Laws. If this Bill were passed as it stands, it would turn the Licensing Laws topsy turvy. For that reason the Government cannot support the Bill.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships more than a moment, but I would venture to ask the House to consider whether the points which the noble Marquess described as Committee points are not the very essence of the Bill. To cut out these points and to treat them as if they can only be discussed in Committee would, it seems to me, emasculate the Bill, so that it would practically have no interest at all. The points to which I take exception, while they are, if you like, Committee points, are also, as it seems to me, essential to the principle of the Bill
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I do not want to detain your Lordships more than a minute or two, but I should like to call attention to one point that has not been referred to by any previous speaker. I am not one of those who see the imprint of the cloven hoof upon this Bill. I am sure that no one who knows the noble Lord who introduced it would imagine that he is the owner of a cloven hoof. But I hope the House will not give a Second Reading to this Bill. In my opinion the solution of the temperance problem does not lie in the direction of this measure. The noble Lord who introduced the Bill mentioned the success of the Public House Trust. I venture to say that the success of that Trust is not due to the fact that extended
§ Resolved in the affirmative: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.