HL Deb 18 March 1947 vol 146 cc409-62

3.0 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Henderson)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF DROGHEDA in the Chair.]

Clause I:

Power of local authorities to establish restaurants.

1.—(I) The following authorities, that is to say— may establish and carry on restaurants and otherwise provide for the supply to the public of meals and refreshments, and may carry on such activities incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid as they consider necessary or expedient: Provided that this subsection shall not authorise the grant of a certificate under the Licensing (Scotland) Acts, 1903 to 1934, for the sale of excisable liquor in any such restaurant. in Scotland.

LORD ROCHESTER moved, in subsection (I), after "refreshments" to insert "other than the sale or supply of intoxicating or excisable liquor." The noble Lord said: I beg to move the first Amendment standing in my name. This Amendment raises at once the main issue which divides the Government from those who deplore the quite gratuitous introduction of the liquor licensing controversy into what would otherwise be a more or less agreed measure of great social value, providing as it does for the continuance of British Restaurants and for them to be known in future as Civic Restaurants. When moving the Second Reading of this Bill in another place, the Minister of Food opened his speech with these words: This Bill has a primary purpose which I might simply describe as the enabling of local authorities, if they so wish, to continue the services of public meals and other similar activities which they are now undertaking under the general title of British Restaurants.

Later in the same speech the Minister said— The Bill provides that the proposed Civic Restaurants shall have authority to provide the range of services which British Restaurants provide to-day. If that is the primary purpose of this Bill, then my Amendment is a means to that end, for not a single one of these restaurants has a licence to-day to sell intoxicating drink. Why, then, this new departure? Why, despite protests and appeals from all over the country, have the Government gone out of their way to take the initiative in snaking possible additional drinking facilities?

The people voted for a complete change of policy when they returned this Government to power the year before last, and on this question I submit that they had good reason to assume there would be a break from the subservience to the drink trade that was so much in evidence in previous Governments. I remember the early pioneers of the Labour Movement who were such ardent temperance advocates. I sat in the same Parliament, many years ago, with weir Hardie, Will Crooks and Arthur Henderson—the last-named the honoured father of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. My sympathies go out to the noble Lord in what must be for him a most unenviable task, to be in charge of this Bill in your Lordships' House. I recall, too, when the last Labour Government was in office, leave being sought in the other House on March 25, 1931, to bring in a Bill to amend the licensing law in order to prohibit even liquor advertising. I was a member of your Lordships' House at the time. And what happened then? The Labour Prime Minister of that day and the present Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, as well as quite a number of noble Lords who grace the Government Front Bench in your Lordships' House in this Parliament, voted in favour, and it was defeated by only fifteen votes. I see, by the way, that the noble Lord's brother, -the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for India, speaking at Old Hill the other day said he hoped no local authorities in his (Kingswinford) division would ask for licences for Civic Restaurants.

The principle at stake is more than a political one; it is a moral issue. I would appeal to individual members of the Government to see if this matter cannot be reconsidered. I know how difficul that is, for I have been a Minister of the Crown myself, but there are more than enough drinking facilities already. Then why endanger what has proved such an exemplary public service as British Restaurants by making possible the lure of drink therein? These restaurants have developed a very special character of their own. lip to the present they have been places where parents could take, or even send—in fact they have sent—their children, knowing that they would receive not only a wholesome meal, but, even more important, that it would be in wholesome surroundings and in safe company. What guarantee have such parents of that being still the case if these restaurants secure a licence? Many of us had hoped to see these Civic Restaurants available for youth in the evening, as well as in the day-time, without there being any sort of temptation to drink. Persons under eighteen years of age may not be supplied with drink in a public bar, but under the provision in this Bill, which my Amendment seeks to eliminate, applications may be made for restaurant licences, under which three or four different types of alcoholic beverages can be supplied to persons of sixteen years and over. Surely this is a time to remove pitfalls, not provide them.

The gravamen of my charge is that, knowing these restaurants are frequented by children and adolescents, and that women who would never dream of darkening the door of a public house constantly use them, this Government, of which so much was expected, instead of safeguarding the interests of such women and young people by the wise use of the law, are deliberately seeking to make possible the lure of drink in these very places where parents and their sons and daughters have been accustomed to get their meals ever since 1941 without any such disability. If your Lordships will forgive a personal allusion, I am the father of six children, and a grandfather, and I plead in the name of countless parents that, in these dark and difficult days, the rising generation should not be given this cause to stumble.

Are the Government intent on aiding and abetting the policy enunciated by Sir Edgar Saunders, Director of the Brewers' Society, when he said— Unless you can attract the younger generation to take the place of the older men, there is no doubt we shall have to face a steadily falling consumption of beer.

And he added— We want to get new customers. We want to get the beer-drinking habit instilled into thousands, almost millions, of young men who do not at present know the taste of beer. Is that also the desire of the Government? If not, let me point out that the provision of drinking facilities in Civic Restaurants may quite easily introduce young people to the drinking habit, in circumstances leading them to assume there is no harm in it. Because I believe, with the fullest conviction, that the serving of drink in such circumstances is fraught with danger to the youth of our land, that it is morally wrong and will offend the consciences of tens of thousands, if not of millions, of people, I plead for the abandonment of this proposal.

Jesus Christ said— It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. I have no compunction about declaring my adherence to the total abstinence cause. I was myself a Band of Hope boy, and I have never ceased to thank God' for that early training. I will add that since being elected to Parliament more than forty years ago I have witnessed within the walls of the Palace of Westminster how true it is that "Where there's drink there's danger." Those who have fallen by the way, and we have all known them, were all moderate drinkers at the start. Why should the Government go out of their way to say to local authorities: "Here is an entirely new scheme which we are putting at your disposal for the sale of intoxicating drink in your Civic Restaurants."? Is that not tantamount to saying to local authorities that Parliament, in its wisdom, provides these facilities in order that they may be used? If not, why provide them? Why this suggestion to local authorities that they should apply for licences to supply liquor in their restaurants?

It is an entirely new and extraneous idea which the Government have quite gratuitously projected into what is otherwise a very commendable and generally approved scheme for continuing British Restaurants on a permanent basis, as they have proved so beneficial in the past. But that success which they have achieved has been accomplished without licences at all, and I ask that this bone of contention shall not be needlessly thrown into the midst of such good work. If it is objected that very few licences are likely to be applied for, but that provision must be made foe the exceptions, such as a large seaside town with big municipal pavilions, the reply to that is, that that can be done at present by private Act of Parliament and is, in fact, so done.

The ordinary British Restaurant is not adapted for the sale of intoxicants. In most cases it would require structural alterations. I have visited quite a number of such restaurants to see for myself. As recently as last Saturday I had occasion to go to the Town Hall in Oxford on a business matter, and I took the opportunity of going into the municipal restaurant in Oxford Town Hall. It would be difficult to exaggerate the cleanliness, the care and the service of that place, but there are no conveniences for serving intoxicants. Why, then, this innovation? What is true of that restaurant is true of many others. As I say, I have visited quite a number of them.

But there are other serious difficulties, too, if this proposal is persisted in. I have been a magistrate since 1907 and I would remind your Lordships that if a licence is granted to a Civic Restaurant, then, in addition to the yearly licence duty, monopoly value will have to be paid, as in the case of other licences, either for a restricted licence or for a term licence, and monopoly value is a big item. It may easily run into hundreds, nay thousands, of pounds. Is that a liability that Parliament should lightly throw upon a local council for the ratepayers to shoulder? The implications of this proposal are immense and the repercussions will be far-reaching. I speak for a great body of Free Churchmen who feel most keenly on this question. Never was there greater need for the removal of moral and social dangers from the adolescent youth of our land. If, in these days of frustration and alarm, the Government, instead of this proposal, would embark upon a great campaign of moral leadership, I believe they themselves would be surprised at the response that there would be to such an appeal to the highest and best in our people.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 52, after ("refreshments") insert ("other than the sale or supply of intoxicating or exciseable liquor,").—(Lord Rochester.)

3.16 p.m.


I rise to support the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. Unfortunately, owing to weather conditions in the North, I was not able to attend the Second Reading of this Bill in your Lordships' House. I have, however, read Hansard most carefully, and I very much hope that your Lordships will see fit to have this clause amended. SI cannot quite follow the noble Lord in the way that he has gone. I am inclined to speak more from the point of view of a county councillor of some long standing, although I come from a country which is not actually concerned in this Bill. But I feel most strongly that your Lordships' House is the right and proper place to deal with a subject such as this. If there is to be a restraining hand, or rather—if I may put it somewhat more strongly—a stamping foot, I think that your Lordships' feet are the ones to do it. To my mind, the points are quite clear. The first point is that these Civic Restaurants, as has been stated, are really the outcome of the British Restaurants which did such wonderful work in the war. There was no need for liquor at that time, and I cannot believe that there is a need now. Nor can I find from any angle or any part that there is a real demand for the sale of liquor in those restaurants.

I notice that there is to be an Amendment moved later by the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, who I think on Second Reading mentioned that probably, as there had been a fight in another place over this question, it might be necessary to come to some form of compromise. As a county councillor, I cannot feel that this is a matter for compromise. I am the last person in the world to speak against the liberty of the subject. If a man or a woman wishes to go and drink, of course he or she is perfectly at liberty to do so, but I do feel that they should go and do it in the places already provided. We should not go further afield and provide more places in which liquor can be sold. I say that for one of many reasons. If you look at the figures you will find that the sale of liquor has now reached the staggering figure of, £685,000,000 per annum. Surely, it is time to consider very carefully whether -we have the right further to extend facilities for the sale of liquor in this country? I understand, and I believe it is correct, that on certain occa- sions these Civic Restaurants, as the British Restaurants were in the past, will be used by our youth, including, in certain cases, school-children; in the evenings they will even be used as social and youth centres. Surely we cannot wish to bring the liquor element into that arena? I feel we should stamp this out at once.

I very much hope that your Lordships will take the strong line, and amend this clause. If you do not, with all deference, I feel you will be making a great mistake from the local authorities' point of view. You have (I tremble to say this) an excellent example in Scotland. Why not follow it? They are perfectly good people to follow, and for once in their lives His Majesty's Government can indulge in their passion, if I may say so, for insisting that all people must be governed by the same laws, irrespective of different condition. This is an excellent opportunity for them to proceed along those lines. I hope your Lordships will amend this clause.

3.19 p.m.


My Lords, I am encouraged in the rather frightening ordeal of addressing your Lordships for the first time by the fact that I do so in order to support the Amendment so convincingly moved by one whom I am proud to describe as my temporal brother of Rochester. I wish, however, if I had to speak on this particular subject, that I had not to address your Lordships in long sleeves, for I have no particular religious or temperance axe to grind. Shirt sleeves would more appropriately signify my purpose—namely, to try to bring into our consultation the voice of the people themselves, to ask what are the wishes of those who will actually frequent those restaurants as to whether or not there should be intoxicants on the premises. I think it is their wishes that should be consulted.

As your Lordships know, there are now 1,000 British Restaurants in full and fruitful work. It has been pointed out that during the whole of the six years of their existence no intoxicants have been sold. There has been absolutely no demand for intoxicants, and, what is more, I would contend that very largely their success has been the result of the fact that intoxicants were not in evidence. I am quite certain that those who are responsible for putting this clause in the Bill have not a mandate from the English people. I would like, if I may, to try and substantiate that remark. In this matter of eating and drinking you might divide society into two classes—those who dine late and have late dinner (or what passes for late dinner in these austerity days), and those who have high tea. Those who have late dinner are accustomed to intoxicants with their meals, but a very great proportion of those who have high tea do not have intoxicants with their meals and do not like them. What those who love their glass of beer say is that they like their beer at the right time and in the right place; and they will tell you that the right place is the public house and the right time is not with their meals at all. Relatively speaking, it is quite extraordinary how few people do have beer served in their own homes; it is disappearing from the evening meal, even as it has entirely disappeared from breakfast. When they go out to take their meals abroad, they do not like either the sight or the smell of intoxicants, and they avoid those places where they are in existence.

I speak here with knowledge of the facts. I happen to be President of perhaps the largest Navy institute in the kingdom. Navy House, Chatham, is known all over the world. We can sleep 300 sailors in our cabins each night. Two years after the war we still provide r,000 meals a day, and last year, though the war is over, we had something like 500,000 visitors to our house. Before the war, during the war, and after the war, from time to time, we have put it straight to our guests: Would you prefer that we had intoxicants on the premises? Every time that question has been put it has been replied to with a sharp "No; if you have intoxicants in Navy House you will spoil the quiet and homely atmosphere. Though we like our beer, we do not like it here, and it would be a retrograde step which would lose you far more customers than it would gain." I will just complete the picture, so that we many understand what the ordinary people think to-day. Before the 1914–18 war, in the naval barracks at Chatham there was an immense hall for the provision of beer. Each day 3,000 customers or more could be served by twenty potmen, and there was a patrol to regulate the queues and for other purposes. By 1920 the custom had so dropped that only two potmen were necessary, and for the last quarter of a century that large hall has been turned into a cinema and the beer bar has been moved to very small premises.

The sailor's best friend or worst enemy would never describe him as a narrow-minded pussyfoot. He is an ordinary citizen with a broader mind than most, due to his wide experiences. He likes his beer, but he likes it in the right place and at the right time, and the right place and the right time is not with his meals in a Civic Restaurant. What is true of the ordinary citizen camouflaged in blue is equally true of the ordinary citizen camouflaged in khaki. I think there were only about one or two years between the wars that I did not spend a fortnight in August with Territorial troops. Every year I was surprised to find crowds of men in the Y.M.C.A. tents, and to listen to the wails of commanding officers that their admirably conducted and equipped "wet" canteens were so badly patronized that their battalion sports funds were in danger of bankruptcy. I maintain that the ordinary man does not want intoxicants in Civic Restaurants; he wants them in the right place.

But it is not the ordinary man who is the only customer in Civic Restaurants; there are also the children. If your Lordships care to make inquiries, you will be surprised at the number of children who are served by British Restaurants in the luncheon hour. In my own diocese in Bromley the British Restaurant provides meals for 100 children every mid-day. What is more, the British Restaurants are beginning to open out in a new line, and in the evenings quite a number of them are used as youth centres. I am sure that is a development which your Lordships would welcome. But would any responsible person say that the public-house is the right place for a youth centre? Yet that, broadly speaking, is what this clause of the Bill provides—a public-house with meals. There are the children, and I am surprised that in another place the ladies did not make clear what would be the reaction of mothers to the suggestion that in the place where they sent their children for mid-day meals, liquor should be in evidence and liquor should be provided.

I can tell you what the reaction of mothers will be. Not so many years before the war, at Kidlington, just outside Oxford, they started a zoo, and my own children, together with the children of many another home, were put into Kidlington buses by their mothers who sent them off and got rid of them for a happy afternoon. Then came the suggestion that intoxicants should be provided at the zoo restaurant. The mothers of Oxford got together and sent a deputation to the licensing magistrates' court asking that the licence should not be allowed, because they said they felt that if it was allowed the character of the place would so change that they would no longer be able to send their children unattended to the zoo. Your Lordships know full well that mothers these clays have a very arduous time. The Government should not add to their labours by virtually putting Civic Restaurants out of bounds for children.

There are two other sections of the community whose voice I should like to be heard in our consultations. Your Lordships will remember that at the beginning of the war a crying need arose for somewhere other than the public-house to which young Service men could take their girls and in which members of the W.R.N.S., A.T.S. and W.A.A.F. could meet their boy friends. Many of your Lordships, I expect, exercised yourselves to try to meet that need. In Rochester we persuaded a Y.W.C.A. hostel to open so that Service girls could take their men friends there and entertain them. It was crowded out, but it touched only the 'fringe of the need. In Canterbury, I remember, the late Archbishop Temple and Mrs. Temple were instrumental in getting together a great body of voluntary workers to give their services at certain teashops in -the city so that they might be kept open to a late hour. Courting couples can use these British Restaurants, especially if they are developed and if they open in the evenings, but they do not want to do their courting in public houses; they want the ordinary teashops.

Lastly, there is a section of the community which demands our deepest sympathy and help. I do not think any section of the community suffered more during the last war than the old and the lonely people. Their single rations were not enough to sustain them; they were not able to stand the strain of waiting for hours in food queues or of cooking their meals when they got home. The British Restaurants were their salvation, and they will continue to be their greatest boon in times of peace, especially when domestic help is so hard to obtain. You can take your choice. You can have intoxicants in Civic Restaurants or you can have the little old ladies and the frail old gentlemen, but you cannot have both.

A NOBLE LORD: Why not?


Because they will not go. If you know them, go and ask them. They will pass by; they will go to places where intoxicants are not in evidence and cannot be obtained, and where there arc not the sort of people who might be attracted by them. I think I have said enough to show that I have some reason for making a statement and for making a prophecy. My statement is that if you took a plebiscite of the English people you would find them voting overwhelmingly for this Amendment. And why should they not have their wish? My prophecy is that wherever a Civic Restaurant obtains a licence to sell intoxicating liquor, then sooner or later in that area a restaurant will rise up without a licence in order to meet the desires and demands of the people in that district. Why should we not now give them what they want?

3.34 P.m.


I am told that this is the first occasion on which we have had the advantage of hearing a speech from the right reverend Prelate. I am sure it would be the wish of everybody at once to tell him, with great sincerity, how much his contribution has been appreciated, both for its vigour and for its straightforwardness. I have been in some doubt as to whether I should say a few words, and what I am saying now I am saying solely for myself; I am not in any way speaking for my friends who sit near me. I am bound to say that the arguments which most appeal to me do not include all the contentions of my noble friend Lord Rochester. I do not regard the taking of intoxicating liquor as immoral or contrary to sound teaching, and I should be a humbug if I pretended that I thought anything of the sort. The noble Lord, I know, practises as well as preaches teetotalism, and he is perfectly entitled, of course, to put his contention on what he thinks is a higher plane. But that is not my point of view in this matter. Subject to one consideration, I must say that if I had the deciding of this matter—if, for a moment, I could imagine myself as the authority to decide it, which is very absurd—I should not provide in this Bill that these successors to British Restaurants should be entitled to get licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor.

This is, of course, a very controversial question, but it seems to me there are at any rate three considerations—and I think they are very strong considerations. They have been largely brought out by what has already been said by the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, by the right reverend Prelate and by the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. There is, first of all, a matter which has been referred to only incidentally. Here is a Bill which applies to England and Scotland alike. There is nothing specially Scottish about it and nothing specially English. It applies to this island—to Wales, England and Scotland. There is no special point of Scots law involved, but it is presented to us in this astonishing guise. It is said that this is never to be allowed in Scotland but is to be allowed in England. I can imagine certain tactical reasons for that. I do not want to speak in any tone of superiority about it, but it is, in fact, the most ridiculous distinction that could be imagined. If it is a good thing for a British Restaurant in Edinburgh to be in the same position as a British Restaurant in London—and if they are both to be a continuation of the same thing—Ahen there is no possible ground in reason or common sense why we should by law exclude the possibility of such an application in Scotland whilst permitting it in England. Although one knows what the reasons may be, they do not affect the force of the consideration.

There is, secondly, this consideration; and to me it is a very strong one. I do not know that I speak with so intimate a knowledge of British Restaurants as some of your Lordships, but I do know enough about them to know that they have been a great success in many places in this country and that never, from the very beginning until now, have they been given authority to sell intoxicating liquor. They have not been the resorts of the "unco' guid," of the narrow-minded, or of the teetotaler; all sorts and kinds of people have gone there—young persons and children as much as grown ups. It seems to me, on the face of it, to be a very strange thing that just because it is proposed by this Bill to authorize the continuance of these British Restaurants. under a new name, that circumstance should effect this very strange alteration. I feel that very strongly, although I wholly differ, as I have said, from those who think there is necessarily some offence against the moral law because a place has a licence or because a customer partakes reasonably of liquid refreshment of this sort.

The consideration which weighs with me most strongly (I feel it is my duty to say this, and that I should be a coward if I did not) is that the Civic Restaurant, after all, is for the future; it is designed to be, and is hoped to be, in many cases the resort to which all sorts of young people will go for their meals. It is a characteristic of the British Restaurant that, apart from the fact that the hard-worked clerk or typist, or a person who has very little time to spare, can find a good, cheap, well-cooked meal there, it is the place, without any question, where quite young people arid children can go without anybody. I notice my noble friend over there, who knows a great deal about this, rather thinks not, but I think it is so. They have been largely the resort of young people. Whatever my views about temperance may be, I do not want to see the opportunities unnecessarily enlarged of quite young people getting into the state of mind in which it seems to them that a moderate drink is perfectly natural. There can be no question at all that that has spread.

On the other hand, it is true that there are many directions in which there is a quite surprising change of habit. From a purely personal point of view and so far as I am concerned, it is not a representative view—I do ask whether in those circumstances this is a. proper provision to leave in the Bill. The doubt I have—and I may as well face it at once—is that I wonder whether your Lordships' House ought to undertake to alter a matter of this sort which has been dealt with deliberately in a series of discussions in another place. That is why I said at the beginning that if I had my way in deciding such a Bill, I should not allow a licence to be held. I apologize for intervening, and I do not believe that what I have said necessarily represents a general opinion here. I felt I ought to make that statement, because it represents my firm personal opinion on the subject.

3.42 p.m.


I am likely to be in an unpopular minority, but I cannot help feeling that, on the whole, this is a good Bill, if the safeguards in it. are adhered to. I speak with a certain amount of experience, because I have been the Chairman of the largest licensing Bench in Westminster, for twelve years. We have to pay attention to all sorts of people. We are well aware that there is a very strong temperance section of the community, and we pay attention to their wishes. We impose on to licences what we call "restaurant conditions." The conditions are that there shall be no bar, drinks served only with bona fide. meals, and no off-sales. I have been a member of this Bench, which deals with many big hotels and a great Humber of small public-houses, for nearly forty years. In that time there has been an immense improvement, especially in the way in which the abuse of drink has, diminished.

When I was a soldier in London fifty years ago, every morning, at what we called "small reports," half a dozen or more "other ranks" were brought up before one, and always for the same offence—drunkenness. There was a regular scale of fines. That has almost entirely disappeared. My sons, who are soldiers, tell me that nearly everybody drinks soft drinks. The noble Earl, Lord Cork, tells me that it is much the same in the Navy, and that when the ratings are allowed to "splice the main brace," instead of taking their ruin ration they have a small pecuniary "plus" put on their pay. People do not abuse drink in the way they did, and it is no compliment to the English people to say that they are not able to go into a public-house without it being necessary to restrain them from excessive drinking.

There is a large section of believers in temperance. I can tell your Lordships of a compromise that we on our Bench had to apply. If your Lordships ever have time to go into Hyde Park you probably know a restaurant—it is called a kiosk, I believe—in the middle of the Park where you can have light refreshments, a light luncheon, and even a light evening meal. It is open from about 12 o'clock to 8 o'clock. The man who runs this place applied about ten years ago to have a licence to sell beer and cider. It appeared to us as a not unreasonable application, but we received a petition against allowing it signed by io,000 people, with the name of the right reverend Prelate who was then Bishop of London at the head. We did not accept their views, but they suggested, and we agreed to, a compromise. A rope was put down the middle of the open air part of the restaurant to divide the sheep from the goats—and I am careful not to say which were the sheep and which were the goats. If you came along and you brought with you your lamb or your kid, as the case might be, you could go alone on one side if you wanted a drink, and if you did not want a drink you went on the other side; but the child was never to be exposed to the deteriorating effect of seeing somebody at the next table drinking a glass of beer. That seems to me, in these days, a rather extreme method of segregation. Noble Lords who travel abroad know that the children in France are always allowed a little wine with their water. I used to be told when I was young that it was because the water was poisonous, but I dare say that is not so.

If you allow the British Restaurants to apply to the proper licensing magistrates in their division, who presumably know the views of the population and particularly if there is no discrimination—I am not suggesting it is intended that there should be; there should be no directive to the magistrates that the Civic Restaurant is to be better treated than anybody else—I think in that way you will be able to do justice. I take off my hat to the Government for introducing this Bill, because it seems to me that at one fell blow they may antagonize both the temperance movement and the licensed trade. I notice the Government are not following the example of one of the most distinguished members of their Party, Mr. Bernard Shaw, who, I believe, never drinks anything at all. I consider the proposals as laid down in the Bill—and the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin has one or two Amendments which I think will improve the Bill—are, in the main proposals which we can reasonably pass.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, as one who has had some considerable experience in the administration and conduct of the largest British Restaurant service in this country, I wish to say a few words in opposition to this Amendment. I do not believe there is anything in the history of temperance in this country which goes to show that it has been fostered by punitive restrictions. It is, of course, an intriguing exercise for us all to we that the other fellow does not do what we do and to seek to restrict him in doing what we claim for ourselves the liberty to do. It is a reflection in advance upon the conduct by the local authorities of the Civic Restaurants that it should be so easily assumed that they will be turned into the lowest-grade public-houses. I was encouraged to hear the words of my noble friend who preceded me when he pointed out that the licensing justices of to-day face up in a most satisfactory way to their responsibilities to the people of this country in the granting of licences, and I believe that the local authorities will show themselves able to do the same.

This is not the first occasion on which local authorities will be authorized to provide intoxicants with meals. There is an admirable municipal restaurant which has been run by the Bournemouth City Council for the last fifteen years where you can get intoxicants with the same reasonable facility as you can get them in any other hotel in Bournemouth, and that can be multiplied in other seaside resorts. Why should it be assumed that local authorities will not be reasonable in the conduct of Civic Restaurants and see to it that the sale of liquor will not be abused? It has been suggested that children may go in large numbers to these restaurants. That may have been the case in 1940 or 1941, maybe up to 1943, but it is certainly not the case at the present time. They go to separate premises provided under the Education Act by the educational authority, which may not be the same authority as that running the Civic Restaurants. In any case, the premises are separate. The London County Council, which can, I think, in this respect claim to be the father of the British Restaurants—they originated in a field kitchen on the Isle of Dogs following the very severe bombing of the East End in October, 1940—now provide 50,000 meals a day for adults and 140,000 school meals, but they are not provided in the same premises: for one good reason apart from all others—namely, that the prices charged are very different. I do not think, therefore, that there is any serious point in the suggestion that children may be exposed to temptation if local authorities are permitted to sell intoxicants in Civic Restaurants.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said he noticed—though I dissent from his suggestion: hat there is evidence to support his view—that the Civic. Restaurants had been largely (I do not think that he went so far as to say predominantly) used by the younger section of the community. There is nothing to support that suggestion. There are not available any statistics embracing the whole country, but there are fortunately statistics available as to the users of British Restaurants in London in 1943. The information is to be found in an admirably objective study of these services conducted by the London Council of Social Services. There is nothing in that analysis to show that young people use these restaurants in a greater proportion than any other age group in the community. It may be interesting to your Lordships to know by what sections of the community and in what proportion this service was used in London. Industrial workers accounted for 28 per cent.; office workers—and office workers are not always young persons even though they may be typists——for 26 per cent.; professional workers 14 per cent.; commercial and shop workers 9 per cent.; elderly persons—this has some relevance to the remarks of the noble Prelate—8 per cent.; transport workers 6 per cent.; housewives 6 per cent.; others 3 per cent.

I think that indicates that so far as age groupings of the population are concerned there is no particular distinction between them. The service was generally used more by reference to need than to age. I am not convinced that you can carry MI a more colourful courtship in a tea shop, even though it be called "Ye Ancient Tea Shoppe," than you can in a well-appointed, well-conducted public-house where you are eating and if necessary having a mild intoxicant. I am not convinced that the right use of intoxicants in Civic Restaurants is likely to be a measurable factor in regard to the birth rate in the future, but I do ask your Lordships not to assume that if this power be granted to local authorities, they will not rise to the occasion and see that it is exercised reasonably, properly, and with benefit to all concerned.

3.58 p. m.


I have listened with very great interest this afternoon to the debate on the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. Speeches have been made from two opposite points Of view and arguments have been used which have cancelled out one another in the course of the discussion. It is not my intention. to follow the general arguments which have been brought forward this afternoon. What I do wish to say is that there was a tendency to exaggerated fears about what the Government arc proposing to do. I was interested in the observation of the noble Viscaunt, Lord Mersey, that in making this proposal the Government seemed to have found a middle course between temperance views on one side, which they were not satisfying, and those of the brewers on the other side, which also they were not satisfying. I would like to bring the issue down to what I think is the central issue from the standpoint of the Government. The object of the Amendment is to preclude local authority Civic Restaurants from applying for licences to supply liquor with their meal service. The noble Viscount, Lord Mersey, stated oat of his experience that in the normal way the sort of licence given was one which provided for no bar, only for drinks with meals and for no off-licence. The noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, has a subsequent Amendment which I think meets that particular point, and I hope when that Amendment is reached to give a reply which will be satisfactory generally to your Lordships.

The Bill does not empower the local authorities to sell liquor. What it does is to place them in exactly the same position as any other catering authorities. There is no compulsion upon any local authority to apply for a licence, nor is there, by implication, any urge on the part of the Government for them to apply or not to apply. They are left completely free to decide the matter in the light of local circumstances. The Government regard it as right that the community should have exactly the same powers in this respect as are enjoyed by private caterers, and they are confident that the public representatives of the communities will exercise their powers with proper responsibility and sense of social right. The effect of the Amendment, as I say, would he to prevent civic authorities from applying for a licence. In other words, it would be a central decision affecting local authorities which is not applied to any other form of catering. This is regarded by the Government as a discrimination against civic authorities by specially prohibiting them, and them alone, from applying for licences to supply liquor with their meals.

A NOBLE LORD: But what about Scotland?


I thought I dealt quite clearly with the position in Scotland during the Second Reading debate. The reasons were stated why Scotland was excluded from the Bill, and I understand it meets Scottish desires. So Scotland has not been prejudiced in that respect because it has been left out of the Bill. But, as I say, the Government cannot accept this discrimination about which I have been speaking. Therefore, I am unable to accept the Amendment that has been submitted.


As the noble Lord who has just sat down has said, we have had an interesting debate this afternoon. Before we settle this point—which I rather hope we shall be able to do without a Division—we ought to look to see what are the three courses that are open. The first is that of having Civic Restaurants as successors to British Restaurants, carrying on without any licences whatever. The second, and the other extreme course, is to allow them to have licences of all kinds. That would include giving them permission to run cocktail bars—those circular bars with little seats all around them. The third, the intermediate course, is to allow these authorities to apply for a licence—it does not mean that they will get it even if they do apply—to serve drinks with meals in their restaurants. Those are the three courses any of which might be adopted.

I am very much obliged to the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat for indicating in advance a course which the Government favours. I gathered that he said he thought he would be able to satisfy your Lordships, and that by that he meant he would be able to accept the Amendment which stands in my name later on in the Order Paper. I think that that Amendment gives to civic authorities all they really need to ask. At the same time, I do not think it will so materially alter the functions of the British Restaurant as to make it a completely different kind of place from what it has been in the past. To me, there is a vast difference between a licence for serving drinks with meals and a licence to permit what I believe is sometimes termed "perpendicular drinking"—that is, people standing round a bar drinking. The granting of permission for that would completely alter the function of these places.

I was very much interested to hear from Lord Latham the proportions of the different kinds of people who went to British Restaurants in the London County Council area during the year 1943. Of course, school children do not nowadays (they did at the start) go to British Restaurants and have their school meals in the restaurants. But a father and mother are not debarred from going out for the evening and taking their children into the restaurant to have some supper. By and large, the meals for the school children are now served in different places from the British Restaurants themselves. That had the full approval, and indeed the persuasion, of the Ministry of Food, at any rate when I was the Minister. I agree very much with what the right reverend Prelate said—that it is the old and lonely who have the most difficult time under our rationing system. I was always saying so when I was Minister of Food. That indeed is why I gave extra tea to the old people. But I do not believe that the old and lonely would be likely to be turned from going to the British Restaurants by any fear that somebody sitting at the next table to them might have a glass of beer. Indeed, if I may be allowed to he just a little personal, may I say that I saw one or two of the noble Lords who have spoken so strongly this afternoon having a little lunch in our own refreshment room this morning, when I was having a glass of beer at the same table? I do not believe that the old and lonely will really be deterred from going to these restaurants by any such consideration.

Here we have a case in which this House has to take one of these three different courses. There was a considerable difference of opinion in another place on the very kind of Amendment which we are discussing here to-day. To those who care to listen to my advice—and I have been very thoroughly into this matter in conjunction with my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, who, unfortunately, is not able to be here to-day—I would say that if we get, as indeed we have got, an assurance of the Government's willingness to accept the Amendment which stands in my name, then do not support the Amendment we are now discussing, which, in my view, might lead to a considerable conflict between the two Houses of Parliament.

4.10 p.m.


I would like to take this opportunity of putting the matter clearly before the House, in the earnest hope that they will not adopt this Amendment. As the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, is well aware, we have given much thought to making a sensible and reasonable arrangement to meet the necessities of this case. We know the difficulty arises only when a local authority wishes to apply; and, in the first instance, it will be for them to decide. This Amendment, if accepted, would in fact prevent their applying if they were so minded. The next stage will be the decisions to be made by the licensing authority. We were much impressed by the strength of feeling that these restaurants should maintain the character they have deservedly obtained, and, in order to make the case quite clear to your Lordships, it might be quite useful for you to hear now that we propose to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, which will restrict the application for a licence to the serving of alcohol with meals. We also propose to accept Ms further Amendment which will not make it possible for that service to be discharged on religious premises. I sincerely hope that, with these two very strict limitations, the House will think we have done what is really necessary to be fair and reasonable in the matter, and will not, therefore, accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD LLEWELLIN moved, in subsection (I) to leave out from "activities," where that word first occurs, to the beginning of the proviso, and to insert: "as are reasonably necessary for the provision of meals and refreshments." The noble Lord said: If your Lordships will look at the Bill you will see that the words that I am proposing to leave out are the words: incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid as they consider necessary or expedient. We shall know, later on, that one of these activities which the local authorities may not consider to be necessary or expedient is to run a bar. It seems to me that those words are extremely wide.

The words that I propose should be inserted, "as are reasonably necessary for the provision of meals and refreshments, "would include all those activities such as engaging staff, buying plates and crockery, buying the food, and making all the arrangements; for the food; in fact, it would include carrying on these restaurants as they have always been carried on as British Restaurants. It would be giving a wide power, but not extending it. It should not extend to running a bar, nor, on the other hand, should it extend to running a shop or anything of that sort, because if that is to be done it ought to be under another measure. Any activity normally ancillary to a restaurant could, I believe, be carried on under my words. The words I propose to leave out are, in their present form, far too wide. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page I, line 53, leave out from ("activities") to the end of line 14, and insert the said new words.—(Lord Llewellin.)


I hope I may be able to persuade my noble friend not to press this Amendment. There is no possibility of a bar being set up under this clause. All the clause is designed to do is to carry on the normal activities that are ancillary to the running of a catering establishment, a number of which I referred to in my Second Reading speech, and to which I may add the sale of cigarettes and sweets from the catering establishments. I am advised that this clause, as drafted, while it will not preclude the local authority from retail sales which are ancillary to the catering undertaking, will preclude the setting up of a shop or any other form of large-scale retail trading.


I cannot quite follow the noble Lord. Is he referring to the words now in the Bill, or to my Amendment?


To the words in the Bill. I can give an assurance that under the Bill "ancillary activities" would have to be really ancillary to the main purpose of the Bill. In view of that explanation, which I think meets the point the noble Lord had in mind, I hope he may see his way not to press the Amendment.


I hope the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, will not press this Amendment, because it would have a very restrictive effect at the present time in almost every large centre in this country. Due to obsolescence or to war damage, there is a lamentable shortage of premises for communal functions, and we are always receiving requests to allow dances, concerts and lectures to be held in premises which are used, and have been either acquired or requisitioned, as Civic Restaurants.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? A municipal authority does not need powers under this Bill to organize a concert in one of its premises, does it?


No, but these premises will have been secured for, or will have been transferred to, a service which is authorized by this Bill and which, apart from this Bill, local authorities have no power to provide, since they are providing a service under a Defence Regulation which is to be terminated at the end of this month. The local authorities' powers to run Civic Restaurants will rest upon this Bill, and if their powers are to be limited in the way suggested in this Amendment there is grave danger that the premises which have been acquired for the purposes conferred by this Bill would not be able to be used for other purposes which are not ancillary. No one can pretend that granting facilities to a youth club is ancillary to providing a Civic Restaurant. I beg the noble Lord to consider what may be the effect of his restrictive proposals. Not only the London County Council and other local authorities, but almost every voluntary association in London carrying on an admirable civic and social work, are at their wits' end to find premises. We hope that we shall have wide powers under this Bill for granting facilities, for instance, for youth clubs to meet for functions, for dances, for concerts, for lectures, and things of that kind. I submit, with great respect and due deference to the lawyers among your Lordships, that that would be precluded if the words in the Amendment were inserted in the Bill and those now in the Bill were deleted. I hope for these, as well as for other reasons, that this Amendment will not be pressed.


The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, gave an assurance to the House which I think was one for which many of us on this side had been waiting. He said that under the Bill as drafted he could give an assurance that there would be no right for a local authority to run any shop or departmental store. If that be so—and it is an administrative assurance—is there any reason at all why, for continuity's sake in future, the Bill should not be amended by the words suggested by my noble friend Lord Llewellin? I ask that particularly because the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, was followed by the noble Lord, Lord Latham, who revived the fears that some of us held when he asked that what he termed the "restrictive" words of my noble friend Lord Llewellin should not be inserted in the Bill, because he wished local authorities to have liberty of action for running, let us say, a cinema in conjunction with a British Restaurant. That is just the sort of wide extension of activity which it needs a great stretch of imagination to link with a restaurant, but, nevertheless, it is one which might come within the scope of the words of the Bill—"incidental or ancillary to." It is that type of activity that alarms us on this side of the House, and has re-opened the fears which were quelled by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson; and, therefore, we would ask that the matter be reconsidered by the noble Lord.


Would the noble Lord object to a film of some athletic activity at Wembley being shown to a youth club?


No, not at all, but I would object to a hall, which was part of the premises of a British Restaurant, being used as a cinema, virtually in competition with the ordinary cinema trade that has to pay its rates and taxes like any other business enterprise, and should not, I submit, be subjected to competition by an activity administered by a local authority. That would be possible by the words in the Bill as at present drafted.


Having heard the debate between the noble Lords, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, Lord Llewellin and Lord Latham, I hope that the Government will not move an inch in this matter. I am all in favour of the extension of power to local authorities for this purpose. It is just what is wanted. If a county council want a cinema or a youth club, I say "Good luck to them." But you see how the noble Lord has betrayed himself. He went on to tell us that these Civic Restaurants are to be used for youth centres, for boys' clubs and for entertainments, and yet any one of them could be licensed premises. That is exactly why some of us, who are most ardent municipal traders and who wish to see an extension of municipal trading, do urge the Government carefully to consider the matter. I am not in favour of this House reversing the decision of another place; that is for another and constitutional reason which no doubt we shall debate later on. At the same time, my sympathies are entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. Lord Latham, who speaks with immense authority, and much more practical authority, than any one in this House, went on to tell us how he is going to extend these services in which we rejoice; but we bitterly regret that he insists on taking power which will enable not necessarily the county council, but some borough council to whom power might be delegated, to turn these places into licensed premises. I say that that would render them unsuitable for some of the most beneficent activities which the noble Lord, Lord Latham, has in mind.


May I intervene for one moment? I think these words need to be very calmly considered, especially in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Latham. has said. If I understood him rightly, he himself advanced the proposition that running a youth club in such premises as these could not be said to be "incidental or ancillary to" the activities of a restaurant.


I did not say "running"; I said letting the premises to a youth club.


That may be a distinction.


it is.


I was speaking simply with a desire to have things made quite plain. I was afraid that we were in this position: that if we used words like "incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid"—the activities aforesaid being the providing of a restaurant it might be that making provision for a youth club would not be covered by that phrase. For that reason we all want to look at the words a little calmly. I can quite understand, and I sympathize with, the desire which both the noble Lord, Lord Latham, and the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, have just expressed, that such premises should be available for a youth club. I am sure that is the desire of my noble friend, Lord Llewellin, too. I am simply dealing with the words, and I am only suggesting for consideration that these words "activities incidental or ancillary to the activities aforesaid" mean activities incidental or ancillary to the refreshment service. I should have doubted whether making provision for a youth club could be regarded as being an activity which was "incidental or ancillary to" the providing of a restaurant. It is not from any desire to trip up the noble Lord, but from sympathy with his general feeling that such premises are very badly needed for such purposes, that I would respectfully suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that perhaps these words ought to be looked at again. The effect of the Amendment of my noble friend, Lord Llewellin, was to cut out this test of whether the activities were "incidental or ancillary to" the refreshment business. He was going to cut out those words and to substitute "as are reasonably necessary for the provision of meals and refreshments" and make it run "carry on such activities' as are considered necessary and expedient."



"Necessary for the provision of meals and refreshments" entirely different.


The noble and learned Viscount is cutting line 13 right out.


I see. I think it necessary that the House should observe that there is a possibility that what Lord Latham desires is not covered by the words of the Bill.


I think the position was exactly as I stated at the beginning. The words refer to activities which are ancillary to the main purpose of the Bill, which is the provision of meals and refreshments; those are the accepted normal activities that are associated with that main service.


It would not include a youth club?


I do not think the question of a youth club arises, nor do I regard the provision of a cinema as a normal ancillary of the provision of meals. The assurance which I gave, which is very specific, was that ancillary activities would have to be really ancillary to the main purpose of the Bill, and I think that with that assurance I have met the fears that the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, had in mind.


We might go on arguing this at considerable length, and I think the most convenient course would be that we should consult together about this matter before Report stage because I should have no objection to a youth club meeting in a Civic Restaurant. But, speaking for myself, I think that if you want to run shops or cinemas you ought to do it under a Bill other than that called the "Civic Restaurants Bill." It should not come in as an ancillary. We might find a form of words that will exclude the latter category and include the category for which the noble Lord, Lord Latham, spoke. If it is agreeable that we should talk it over, I ask leave at this stage to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD ROCHESTER moved, in subsection (I) immediately before the proviso, to insert: except that no licence for the sale or supply of intoxicating or exciseable liquor shall be applied for until an affirmative poll of the local government electors has been secured, such poll to be taken in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State; and thereafter the final decision as to the granting of any such licence shall rest with the Justices. The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with the question of local option. As my previous Amendment was negatived, I want to safeguard my position now as well as may be. The Minister of Food, when moving the Second Reading of this Bill in another place, claimed that he was applying the principle of local option to the issue of these licences in that—and I quote his words: under this Bill any local authority which so wishes will be able to apply for a licence to sell alcoholic liquor in its restaurant. He went on: The effect of that is simply to apply the principle of local option. My contention is that it does nothing of the sort; hence my Amendment to carry out what the Minister claimed for the Bill.

Later in the same debate he was asked this question: Are these restaurants to have a licence to sell liquor—not only for consumption on the premises but also to be taken out? To which the Minister replied—and these are his actual word: That again is a question for the local authority concerned. It is a question of local option for each authority. He then went on to say: The effect of that is to give the local government electors in each area the power, by their votes, to ask their local authority to apply or not to apply for a licence, precisely as they wish. In my submission, the Bill as at present drawn does nothing of the sort—with the greatest deference to my noble friend Lord Latham—for, as I think most people will agree (I except the noble Lord, Lord Latham) when voting takes place in a local election there are a hundred and one issues before the electors, and the question of a licence may not be a direct issue at the time. Local elections cover a wide range of social issues, including health, education and housing, added to which they are increasingly fought on Party programmes. So it is well-nigh impossible that a local election could be decided on the narrow issue as to whether the local Civic Restaurant should have a licence.

However, if it is really the Minister's intention that the issue or non-issue of licences in any given locality should be governed by local option, then I submit that my Amendment to the Bill is indispensable. I would add, too, that there is a precedent for this in the case of Sunday cinemas. In all the circumstances, I would press the Government to accept this Amendment, if only in order to be consistent with the Minister's public declaration in another place. If there is to be local option, clearly the local electors must have the opportunity of voting on the issue themselves. Permit me to add that when the Churches circulated a questionnaire at the last Election, the Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, was approached, among others, and needless to say he replied with his usual courtesy. In his letter dated June 14, 1945, and addressed to the Reverend Jeans Courtney, Mr. Attlee intimated that he would: be willing to consult the electors primarily affected by the grant of new licences as long as in the second place the authority of the magistrates remains unimpaired.

That point I have already covered, and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 14, at end insert the said words. —(Lord Rochester.)


I am afraid I shall again have to disappoint my noble friend. What the Bill does is to provide a recognized form of democratic control. As I have already stated, the local authorities have complete freedom to decide whether they will apply for a licence or not. The Bill leaves it to the local people, as represented (a) by the local authority, and (b) by the licensing bench. In considering whether it should make application for a licence, a local authority would be very unwise if it did not pay due regard to local sentiment and local public interest. Bat local authorities are responsible public bodies. They live close to the life of their communities, and they are responsible to their local electors, who have bon the opportunity and the power to deal with representatives 'who flout local interests and disregard strong local feelings. We do not 'believe that in this matter of dealing 'with applications for licences local authorities will prove any less public-spirited, or any less responsive to community sentiment and views, than they have been in the past. The Government arc prepared to trust them. Accordingly, I regret that I am unable to accept the noble Lord's Amendment.


I am obliged to my noble friend Lord Henderson, but really he does not meet the point at all. That is not local option. We all understand the meaning of the term "local option"—it is actually in our Statute Book in connexion with Sunday cinemas——and to suggest that this is local option is so far from being the truth as to be scarcely recognizable. It is not much good pressing the point if the Government will not accept it, but I must enter my protest against the Government reply as assuming that local option, as promised by the Minister in another place, is conceded.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

4.36 p.m.

LORD MORRISON moved in the proviso to subsection (1), after "that" to insert: (i) where the Minister of Food is satisfied that the council of any county in Scotland are unreasonably refusing to exercise their powers under this Act in any district of the county he may by order direct that the powers of the county council, so far as relating to that district, shall be exercisable by the district council instead of by the county council; and (ii).

The noble Lord said: Now that your Lordships have disposed of a number of contentious matters, I would like to move the first of three Scottish Amendments which are not of very considerable importance and which I trust that your Lordships may see if it to accept. At the present time British Restaurants in Scotland are run by county councils and town councils. Under this Bill county councils and town councils will similarly be responsible' for the running of Civic Restaurants. At present the county council in Scotland can appoint a district council as its agent, on such terms as the two councils may agree. Later on I shall propose an Amendment to Clause 4, which I trust your Lordships may see fit to pass, for the purpose of impelling the county council to delegate its powers in regard to Civic Restaurants to a district council.

The task of running a Civic Restaurant is primarily a local one, and in certain counties it may be found more appropriate that the district council, rather than the county council, should apply itself to the work. In those cases it will be open to the county council, in the light of all the circumstances, to consider whether delegation is desirable. The purpose of the Amendment which I am now moving is to cover the case, if such a case should arise, in which the council is unreasonably refusing to exercise its powers; that is to say, it will neither run a Civic +Restaurant itself, nor delegate its powers to do so to a 'district council. If such a case should arise, it will be open to the Minister under the terms of this Amend- ment to transfer the power of the county council to the district council. When this is done the district council will become the Civic Restaurant authority for its district. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page I, line 15, after ("that") insert the said sub-paragraph.—(Lord Morrison.)


As the noble Lord has said, this Amendment is not a very important one. In point of fact, if the case which he envisages ever arises it may well be that the transfer of powers from the county council to the district council will result in the status quo, because a Scottish district council is composed of the county councillors for each of the electoral divisions in the district, and one district councillor for each such division. If the county council as a whole do not see fit to agree to the setting up of a Civic Restaurant in any particular area, it is quite likely that the district council will take the same view, since probably only a very small part of each particular district would have any desire for a restaurant. But, as I have said, the Amendment is unimportant. I do not think it will do any harm to insert this in the Bill, although I strongly doubt whether it will do much good.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD LLEWELLIN had given notice to move to insert in the proviso to subsection (1) after "that,":

  1. "(a) a justices' licence granted under the Licensing Acts, 1910 to 1934, for the sale of intoxicating liquor in any such restaurant in England or Wales shall only authorize the sale of such liquor for consumption in the restaurant with a meal;
  2. (b) such a licence shall not be granted in respect of any such restaurant established in premises forming part of, or used for the purposes of, any church, chapel or other place of religious worship; and
  3. (c)".
The noble Lord said: In consequence of the Scottish Amendment to which we have just agreed, my sub-paragraph (a) will become sub-paragraph (ii) and, similarly," (b)"will become" (iii)."The first part of this Amendment restricts the application for a licence to a licence to serve drinks with meals. That is a topic which we have discussed for an hour and a half to two hours, and I do not think it is necessary for me to add anything to it now, two noble Lords on the Govern- ment Front Bench having indicated already that they are prepared to accept the Amendment.

The next part of my Amendment raises a topic which has not yet been discussed in Committee stage, but to which considerable attention was given on the Second Reading of this Bill. It reads: such a licence shall not be granted in respect of any such restaurant established in premises forming part of, or used for the purposes of, any church, chapel, or other place of religious worship. I think that is right, because a large number of these places were voluntarily given to the Ministry of Food. It may be that some of them were formally requisitioned, but at any rate these religious denominations were in the forefront of the people who offered premises for use as British Restaurants, and I think the whole country should be grateful to them for it. As we well know, a large number would object very much to having these religious buildings used for the serving of alcoholic liquor, even with a meal, and it is to exclude those premises that I have put down this second part of my Amendment. I believe there is some question as to whether it goes quite far enough, and my noble friend may later move an Amendment to it, but that is for him to say. As it is, I think this Amendment is at any rate the least we can do, and therefore I beg to move.

May I explain, my Lord Chairman, if I am not out of order, that sub-paragraph (i) was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, and adopted. Therefore my (a) becomes (ii) and my (b) becomes (iii). I leave out "(c)."

Amendment, as amended, moved—

Page 1, line 15, after "that" insert— (ii) a justices' licence granted under the Licensing Acts, 1910 to 1934, for the sale of intoxicating liquor in any such restaurant in England or Wales shall only authorize the sale of such liquor for consumption in the restaurant with a meal; (iii) such a licence shall not be granted in spect of any such restaurant established in premises forming part of, or used for the purposes of, any church, chapel or other place of religious worship."—(Lord Llewellin.)


I want to safeguard the position, which does not now seem to me quite as clear. As I understand it, we are on (ii) at the moment. If so, I have handed in a manuscript Amendment—


It is "(a)" and "(b)" on the Order Paper. To tidy the matter up in the Bill, having regard to the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, which inserted "(i)," mine becomes (ii) and (iii).

LORD ROCHESTER moved, as an Amendment to Lord Llewellin's Amendment, in sub-paragraph (ii), before "meal," to insert "substantial." The noble Lord said: This is a very simple issue. Lord Llewellin's Amendment is designed to ensure that a meal in the ordinary and physically satisfying sense is the sole criterion on which the purchase of liquor should be based. I suggest that the insertion of the word "substantial" would make that clear. The point with which I am concerned in this Amendment is-that the word "meal" may be variously interpreted. It may equally mean a biscuit or a bun, which might he bought for the sole purpose of qualifying to get liquor and would not necessarily have to be consumed. "Why not?" asked my noble friend Lord Latham. The point is that either it means a meal, or it means the subterfuge of just going and buying a penny bun in order to stand by and continue to drink as long as you like. I want to safeguard the position.

I confess that I am in this difficulty. While I object to the sale of intoxicants in these restaurants, even with a meal, yet something would be gained if the possibility of a 'bar and an off-licence were excluded. To that extent the position would be mitigated. My Amendment is designed to insert the word "substantial" in front of the word "meal," but if the Government prefer "main meal" or have any other means of meeting the position by Regulation, I am content. I want to safeguard the position and to see that it does not lend itself to subterfuge. I beg to move.

Amendment to Amendment moved— Before "meal" in sub-paragraph (ii) of the Amendment, insert "substantial."—(Lord Rochester.)


If it is not too late, I wish to oppose sub-paragraph "(a)" or "(ii)" of this Amendment—I am not sure which it is, but at any rate it is that part which deals with serving a meal with a drink. I would ask your Lordships not to impose another restriction on the unfortunate men who are already restricted by the licensing hours and who already have to pay dearly for their drinks, although the drinks are very weak and very scarce. Why should not a man go into a place in the evening and have a drink without having to eat a sausage roll? Suppose there are ro,000 men who happen to want a drink. Many of your Lordships after this late sitting may want a sherry, or gin and bitters, but are you going to have a sausage roll with it? I suggest it is the wrong moment to choose. We can hardly get enough food to eat with Our own meals, and now we are going to ask a man who wants a drink to stuff a meal down his throat.

This is a Bill which I personally welcome very much indeed. The Government are trying to have restaurants for the benefit of the people of the various towns. After all, what was the origin of the public-house? It was not only to give drink, but to give food, as the term "licensed victualler" illustrates. It fell into disuse only because of the bad administration of the law. The licensed victuallers found it quicker to sell drink, and only drink, and to let the food go by the board. The noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, mentioned that many women did not want to go into a bar. Why should they not have some place to go into? They will be able to see that it is run on the proper lines for the entertainment of the people. There was a great argument only a few years ago to get that done. We know that the northern and industrial towns, such as Carlisle and Birmingham, have been able to supply these places, and the south has lagged behind. I suggest that in these days, when everything is dark and gloomy and many of the smaller towns have no form of recreation at all except the pictures, a man should be able to have a drink without a meal. I suggest it is pandering to the temperance reformers. The fox which lost its brush is not in it with them. They do not want a drink themselves and they want to stop other men having a drink.

The noble Lord, on the Second Reading, said it was not fair on the ex-Servicemen. How many ex-Service men have the money to start a really good restaurant? Very few. I am sure I am speaking for a far larger number of ex-Service men when I say that they want somewhere to go with their families and drink, without these petty restrictions being put upon them as if they were quite irresponsible beings. Many have distinguished themselves elsewhere. After all, who are the working men, except the ex-Service men? If you had these Civic Restaurants correctly run you would provide a place where people could go in the evening without having to go into some dingy public-house and lean over a bar in order to get a drink.


I certainly hope your Lordships will not accept the Amendment which is designed to insert the word "substantial" before the word "meal." The proposed Amendment, to which that is an Amendment, is in fact a directive to the justices, and I do not object to that. I think the justices, like the local authorities, should be left to determine the conditions under which, within the framework of this proposal if it reaches the Statute Book, the licence shall be issued. If you put in the word "substantial," you can have an amazing and colourful variety of decisions by the various licensing justices in, I think, something like fourteen Petty Sessional divisions within the County of London. They might each of them have their own particular view as to what is a substantial meal. We all know from experience—at least I do—of the subterfuges and the stratagems, not always worthy, which are resorted to when you are forced to eat a sandwich you do not need in order to have a drink you do need. I hope, therefore, that we shall not accept this Amendment. Leave the justices to determine the conditions within the framework of this proposal under which they will issue the licence, and trust the local authorities honestly and decently to conform to the terms of the licence granted.


The noble Lord who has just preceded me has given adequate reasons why I should not accept the Amendment for the inclusion of the word "substantial." As he said, there are many definitions of what constitutes a substantial meal, and I think it would be better to leave the matter as my noble friend suggested.


As this is an Amendment to my Amendment, I would like to say that in the normal case I would presume that the licencing justices would lay down the licensing hours. The licens- ing hours would normally conform to times when main meals are served at these restaurants, and would not include the tea hour. Therefore, I think this point is more or less provided for in the Amendment which has been printed.


In those circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT SEMON moved, in subparagraph (iii) of the Amendment after the word "worship" to insert the words "or used for the purposes of any religious organization." The noble and learned Viscount said: I have felt some doubt as to whether the words printed on the paper cover all that was intended. The particular instance to which our attention was called on the Second Reading by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, was the case of the Memorial Hall, the building in Farringdon Street which houses the central organization of Congregationalists. One might, perhaps, say that the headquarters of the Salvation Army was another example of the same kind, or perhaps even Church House. The only exception covered by sub-paragraph (iii) is, as your Lordships see: … restaurant established in premises forming part of, or used for the purposes of, any church, chapel or other place of religious worship. The test is "a place of religious worship." If you take such a place as the Memorial Hall, about which we were given so interesting a description by my noble friend on Second Reading—I do not say they never have any worship there; I do not know—the purpose of the building is really that of the central organization of that denomination. Therefore, it appears to me that in order that we may fulfil what we all mean to do—it is not a question of going beyond what was intended—it will be well to add after the words, "place of religious worship," the words: "or used for the purposes of any religious organization". It would then be quite clear that what was intended by this clause was relevant, not only to a building in which a religious service took place but also to a building which was the headquarters or place of organization of one or other of our religious bodies. I do not imagine my noble friend will object, because I am sure that that was what he intended to include. If he is so advised, I would have thought it was wiser to put those words in, so that there is no dispute.

Amendment to Amendment moved— After the word "worship" in subparagraph (iii) of the Amendment, to insert: "or used for the purposes of any religious organization."—(Viscount Simon.)


Is it not a fact that Church House was occupied during the war by Parliament and intoxicants were available at Church House?


I rather hesitate to accept the Amendment as proposed, because it might apply rather hardly the other way. I know certain organizations which occasionally use civic halls for the purposes of religious organizations and other meetings. I am afraid the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, ruled out the possibility of their obtaining such a hall because the people would say, "If you go to that hall, we shall not be able to apply for a licence for it although it is a Civic Restaurant." I am a little frightened, if the Amendment of the noble and learned Viscount goes through as suggested, that these people may be put in a very awkward position. If this Amendment is accepted, I urge that it be carefully examined by the representative of the Government before the next stage.


I rise to support the Amendment to the Amendment. There are a great number of religious halls, Sunday Schools and the like, up and down the country which have been requisitioned for British Restaurants. In my own diocese that has been done to quite a considerable extent, and in some cases where a church had been destroyed we were not able to get a hall for worship because it had already been sequestered for a British Restaurant and we have had to worship in a vicarage or wherever we could, take it that this is only a temporary measure. Civic Restaurants are not going to sit in the churches and religious buildings until Doomsday, but if Civic Restaurants do sequestrate religious buildings I think they ought to respect the opinions of those to whom they belong. Where they take a church or a religious hall, I do not think intoxicating liquors ought to be sold without the consent of the owners.


The first part of the Amendment will prevent what the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, called perpendicular drinking and it will prevent also what I understand is called "slipping in and having a quick one." There will be no bar; it will restrict the supply of liquor to meals.


I think we are discussing the Amendment of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon.


The noble and learned Viscount did show me that Amendment before Committee stage, and I am advised, on a quick decision, that the Amendment to the Amendment will achieve what it was intended to achieve by the Amendment itself. I am prepared to accept it on the understanding that between now and the Report stage the matter will be looked into from the standpoint raised by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and also to see whether it does achieve the purpose we all have in view.


I raised a point about the library of Memorial Hall, the Congregational Union premises. Do I understand that they will not be subject to applications for licences in any circumstances, and that they are legally protected? Because I do not believe it is a consecrated place of worship, but it is the central office and building of a large religious organization.


That point is effected in the Amendment we are now discussing.


I do not think the Amendment does anything, but I do not see that there is anything objectionable in it.


I should have thought my words do not quite cover it. I should have thought that if the words proposed by my noble friend were added and, to meet the point raised by the noble Earl, the words "or without the consent of the religious organization" were put in, it would make it rather wider. I suggest that that might be looked into before the Report stage, but otherwise I am quite prepared to accept the addition of these words to the Amendment in my name.


May I say a word, as I moved the Amendment? I am grateful to the noble Lord and I am glad he has been able to put the words in, but I agree with my noble friend Lord Henderson that between now and the Report stage it may be worth considering whether there should not be introduced the requirement that this should not be done without the consent of the authorities concerned.


I hope some care will be exercised in examining the effects of this Amendment. It really may defeat its own end, as the noble Earl, Lord Perth, indicated in relation to certain religious premises. It is the case at the present time that if you get an occasional licence you can purvey intoxicants on premises which might be the headquarters of a religious organization. I suggest that it will not assist temperance if you restrict Civic Restaurants conducted by authorities, which are responsible to public opinion, and at the same time allow private individuals to apply as they do (and sometimes succeed) for occasional licences for the sale of intoxicants in connexion with a particular function which is being run. I hope, therefore, that whilst none of us would wish to offend against religious or other sensibilities of any section of the community, care will be exercised in extending the Amendment in the way suggested by the noble and learned Viscount.

On Question, Amendment to Amendment agreed to.


As I was saying, at the wrong time, the first part of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, represents a general desire, and as my noble friend the Leader of the House has already stated, we accept that Amendment. With regard to the second part of the Amendment, with the additional Amendment just accepted, I would like to say that on Second Reading I made it quite clear that the Minister had no intention of allowing liquor to be sold on requisitioned religious premises. I gave an assurance to that effect, and I believe that assurance provided a complete safeguard. The purpose of this Amendment is to make that assurance doubly sure by including the safeguard in the Bill. I am prepared to accept this Amendment and, as I said a little earlier, the points which have been raised in the course of discussion will be looked into between now and Report stage, and if any further modification of the wording is required it will be brought forward at that stage.

On Question, Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

5.6 p.m.

LORD ROCHESTER moved, at the end of subsection (I), to insert: and in the case of any such restaurant in England and Wales that is housed in a requisitioned building a licence for the sale or supply of intoxicating or excisable liquor shall not be applied for without the prior consent in writing of the owners or trustees of such building. The noble Lord said: As a layman, listening to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and an ex-Lord Chancellor in the person of my noble and learned friend Viscount Simon, I feel, after what has transpired on the last Amendment, that my Amendment would have saved all that time and discussion, because I seek to ensure that no application shall be made in cases of any requisitioned building without the written consent of the owners or trustees of that building. That would cover church buildings and Sunday School buildings to which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester referred, and other buildings which my noble friend Viscount Stansgate mentioned during the debate on the Second Reading. But I feel that something more than the last Amendment is required. I seek to protect all requisitioned buildings. Again, if you will forgive a personal reference, my own home was requisitioned. My garage and my chauffeur's flat were turned into a cook-house. My billiard room was turned into a canteen. It so happened that the requisitioning authority was another Government Department but it might have been the Ministry of Food. I say, frankly, that I should greatly have resented it if they had applied for a licence to sell intoxicating liquor on my premises. The same thing applies to the public school which I attended. That, too, was requisitioned. I feel that this is another danger that has to be safeguarded against. If the authorities are to have the right to apply for a licence in respect of any requisitioned buildings other than church or chapel premises or other buildings connected with religious worship it is quite possible that they might contravene some of the conditions of the leases upon which those buildings are held. Without arguing the matter further, I beg to move my Amendment as one which provides a proper safeguard covering all requisitioned buildings.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 18, at end, insert the said words.—(Lord Rochester.)


As the noble Lord has said, the previous Amendment, which we have accepted, covers a good deal of the ground which he had in mind, and I am unable to accept the Amendment which he has now moved. He has cited the case of a requisitioned building, the owner of which might take exception to the sale of liquor on the premises. I understand that in a case of that sort the owner would have the opportunity of stating his objections to the licensing authorities, and that they are accustomed to giving proper weight to such objections. So in that particular field the class of owner to which the noble Lord referred is safeguarded. On the other hand, there may be premises in respect of which it would be perfectly reasonable for the local authority to apply for a licence. In those circumstances, having regard to the facts that I have given, I do not feel able to accept the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD ROCHESTER moved, at the end of subsection (I), to insert: and in the case of any such restaurant in England and Wales in which any portion of the premises is used as a community centre or youth club, in respect of which any part of the cost of running such centre or club is defrayed by a grant contributed by the Board of Education, a licence for the sale or supply of intoxicating or exciseable liquor shall not be applied for.

The noble Lord said: I am sorry to take up your Lordships' time again. This Amendment raises questions affecting community centres. The Minister of Food, in the Standing Committee on this Bill, said: There may be restaurants connected with youth hostels, for example, and there may be admirable reasons why such places should not have licences. I cannot conceive that the local authority responsible for them would apply for licences, and I cannot conceive that the magistrates would grant them if they did apply. Then, I ask, why not ensure statutory exemption for them in the Bill?

Again, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food in the Standing Committee said: I would remind the Committee that many local authorities are very anxious to have Civic Restaurants as part of their community centres. But, in my submission, if provision for the sale of drinks is permitted, the whole project of building up community centres in conjunction with Civic Restaurants is completely vitiated. Under Section 53 of the Education Act, 1944, local authorities are empowered to set up community centres. Under that Act a great deal has already been done to start setting them up, as a joint effort of local education authorities, district councils and people interested; and, naturally, it is desired to set them up in places where refreshments are available. I have not heard of any one asking for facilities for the sale of intoxicating liquors at these community centres. At the last Election, the Churches sent out a questionnaire, and one of the questions was this: Will you insist that no sale or supply of intoxicants shall be allowed in publicly provided community centres? It may interest your Lordships to know that among the people who replied "Yes" to that question were the Home Secretary (Mr. Chuter Ede), the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Bellenger), the, Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Noel-Baker), the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. V. Alexander), the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Williams), the Minister of Education (Mr. Tomlinson), and many others.

It may be said that the question did not specifically include British Restaurants. No, because British Restaurants had already established their position without the help of drink. I should have thought, however, that it covered such British Restaurants as may be used for community centres, if provided by the local authority; for surely those would come within the description of "publicly provided community centres." However I have no desire to give a wider interpretation to a question so framed than its wording justifies, so I have most carefully limited my Amendment to those community centres or youth clubs in respect to which the Board of Education contributes—more especially as another place, on the Third Reading of this Bill, the Home Secretary gave as one definition "that a community centre is organized under the Ministry of Education." That is why I have drawn my Amendment in so circumscribed a form instead of in more general terms, in an effort to meet the position adumbrated by the Home Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food. I hope that by so doing I have done something to influence the Government to give me a little more encouragement than they have been able to give me up to the present. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 18, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Rochester.)


As the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has said, the conduct of community centres and youth clubs is a responsibility of the Ministry of Education, through their governing bodies. It is hardly conceivable that these local bodies would countenance applications for liquor licences. As the noble Lord himself reminded us, the Minister dealing with this point, in another place, made that perfectly clear. Nor is it to be expected that local authorities would apply for a licence in respect of a Civic Restaurant which was on premises either forming part of a community centre or in which a youth club was operated. As, however, the responsibility for these community centres and youth clubs rests with the Ministry of Education, it seems inappropriate to seek to impose conditions as to their conduct in a Bill concerning Civic Restaurants. In these circumstances I regret that I am unable to accept the noble Lord's Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause I, as amended, agreed to.

THE EARL OF MUNSTER moved, after Clause I, to insert the following new clause: 2. No member of a local authority which has applied for a licence to sell intoxicating or exciseable liquor for the purposes of this Act, whether such licence has been granted or not, may sit as a licensing justice to consider licensing matters for the licensing district or districts in which the area of such local authority is situated or for any licensing district which adjoins any part of that area. The noble Earl said: In the absence of my noble friend, Lord Llewellin, perhaps I might move the Amendment that stands in his name. I understand that as the law stands, no magistrate can sit as a licensing justice if he is interested in the application for the licence of some hotel or restaurant. My noble friend contends that this should apply in exactly the same way to the local authority—namely, that no member of a local authority which is applying for a licence shall be a member of that body of licensing justices which is hearing the application. It seems to me this is merely extending into this Bill what has been the law in this country for a very long time, and I hope the noble Lord will accept this Amendment.

Amendment moved— After Clause 1, insert the said new Clause.—(The Earl of Munster.)


I thank my noble friend for moving this Amendment, and I apologize to the House, but I was discussing outside a matter in connexion with this Bill, and I thought Lord Henderson might be a little longer in satisfying the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. No doubt your Lordships are aware—at any rate I know there is one noble and learned Viscount on the Front Bench who certainly is aware—of the provision as to the disqualification of justices laid down in Section 40 of the Licensing Consolidation Act of 191o. This section says: No justice shall act for any purpose under this Act, or be capable of being appointed a member of any committee for the purposes of this Act, who is or is in partnership with or holds any share in any company which is a common brewer, distiller, maker of malt for. sale, or retailer of malt or of any intoxicating liquor, in the licensing district or in the district or districts adjoining that in which that justice usually acts. The members of a Civic Restaurant authority will, of course, not be holders of shares, but they will have an interest as members of that authority in the licence for which they have voted in the session of the council, or, even if they have not voted in favour of it, the council have approved, and they will appear in the eyes of the public to be interested in seeing that that licence is granted. Anybody who has taken part in the proceedings of licensing justices knows that one of the main criteria which are taken into account by justices is how far reasonable facilities for the provision of purchasing liquor are already available in the locality. So the real point is—and this arises very much when you are trying to eliminate some of the houses in an area which is thought to have too many public houses—is there room for another? I appreciate that the Amendment I have put down is, if I may use the word, somewhat steep. I quite appreciate that, but it was put down in this form to bring the House to the realization that local authorities and members of local authorities, as soon as they came into this category of applying for a licence, would be partisan to most of the proceedings in that licensing session. Assuming that there was an application for a licence from a new hotel, or something of that kind, in a particular area and, at the same session, an application came up from a Civic Restaurant authority to open its restaurant, I think it would be quite wrong if members of that local authority starting the Civic Restaurant sat to consider either of those two applications. I fancy that in going as far as that I should have the support of the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor. I think it wants to be made abundantly clear that that is the case.

As I say, I think the Amendment in the form in which it is drafted is somewhat over-strong, and would, perhaps, prohibit them for ever from sitting. But it ought to be quite clearly laid down, so that magistrates' clerks can advise justices properly whether they might sit or not. It is most important in this country that justice should appear to be done, arid it will not appear to be done if members of a local authority are sitting on a Bench in their own case where a licence being applied for by their own authority, or in the case of any other application with which their own licence may be in competition. That is the whole point I want to see established, and perhaps if the noble Lord can give me some satisfaction on that matter it might con-dude our discussions on this particular Amendment.


As the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, realizes, his Amendment goes considerably beyond what he has in mind. He has stated the position under the law, I was corrected on Second Reading by my noble and learned friend Viscount Simon because I said it was "common practice" when I should have said it was "the law of the land" that justices should not sit on a case in which they had an interest. I think that that applies to the position which the noble Lord has just cited. As he has said, there are penalties if justices sit when they should not sit, and there is the power to overturn a decision if it can be proved there has been bias.

I am going to suggest that the noble Lord does not press this Amendment, and for this reason. As we all know from this discussion, the law as to disqualification of justices is already something of a tangle; it is not at all clear. That has been brought to the notice of the Royal Commission on Justices of the Peace. The terms of reference of the Royal Commission do not specifically refer to licensing work, but when representatives of the Home Office appeared before the Commission, the Chairman, Lord Du Parcq, expressed the definite view that the disqualification of justices for this work is certainly within the terms of reference of the Commission, as it might mean that the Lord Chancellor, when he was appointing justices, would have to make quite sure he was not appointing certain people who were disqualified. The position under the Civic Restaurants Bill was specifically brought to the notice of the Commission, and I consider it would be right and wise to defer any action until: the Royal Commission have reported.


Might I add a word on this matter? Like everybody who has stated the law, I speak open to correction; and sometimes when one is most positive one is most wrong. But the fact is, I have not the slighest doubt in the world that a J.P. who happens to be a member of the local authority could not sit on any tribunal which was deciding a matter to which the local authority is' a party. I will take a very practical illustration which supports that statement, and this happens constantly in London. There are a large number of members of the London County Council who are J.Ps. and the London County, Council quite frequently appear as a party, for instance, in the London Quarter Sessions. It is within my own knowledge that these members of the Quarter Sessions Bench who happen also to be' members of the London County Council never sit if the London County Council is an applicant or a defendant in such. a case.

While what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said is perfectly correct, think it can be asserted more broadly that it does not depend upon a Statute at all; it depends upon a principle that is funda- mental to English law—the principle of bias. In law, bias does not mean that a man is actually disqualified because he is actually biased; he is disqualified because he is in a position where he might be biased. It is part of the law of this country. It has nothing to do with Statute at all. It would apply to any tribunal; and indeed if a decision were to be made by a tribunal which contained individuals who were interested in one side or the other, in the result, in most cases, the decision would be void. Unless I am very gravely mistaken, there was once a Lord Chancellor who, no doubt in complete honesty and good faith, gave a decision about a construction of a deed or something of that kind in the Court of Chancery and he happened not to have mentioned the circumstance that he was interested in the matter. It was brought to the House of Lords and the decision was defeated. So this is a fundamental thing.

The ground on which my noble friend urges it to be put in his Bill is that nobody should be in any doubt about it. It would be quite intolerable if it were otherwise. That is why, with great respect to the noble Lord who has conducted this Bill with such admirable discretion and temper, if I may say so, I am rather sorry that he left it in the position that this was in a state of doubt. Believe me—unless the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, contradicts me—it is not in a state of doubt at all, and there can be no question that a member of a local authority, if that local authority is applying for one of these licences, cannot, though he is a J.P., sit to decide the matter; indeed, if he did he would probably jeopardize the application.


I would only like to add that, having, in my day, had something to do with this branch of the law, I entirely agree with what my noble and learned friend Viscount Simon has just said.


Perhaps it may resolve doubts if I also add my complete concurrence. There is no doubt at all in my mind that it would be quite wrong, and the result would be set aside, if a member of a local authority sat as a licensing magistrate to deal with an application in respect of premises in which that local authority was interested. There is no doubt at all. It is not really even a question of bias. I think the leading authority says: The question in such cases is not whether there is proof of actual bias upon the part of any one member of the tribunal, but whether there is a real likelihood of bias. In this case I think it cannot be doubted, in view of the position which the chairman occupied, there was at least the likelihood of bias. I have had a great deal of trouble about this Section 40. I wish to goodness there was not a Section 40, and that we left it to that perfectly sensible principle as a matter of common law that there was likely to be bias. There was a question raised, where a Co-operative Society in a town in the north of England was licensed to sell medicated wine, whether any member of the Co-operative Society was qualified to sit on the Bench at all and deal with licensing matters. That indicates that we really do not know the extent of Section 40.

I would very much regret having any more snippets in the law dealing with this matter. It may have all sorts of repercussions. But to deal with the matter, which is perfectly plain, I assert—and the noble Viscount opposite would agree with me—that it would be plainly and absolutely wrong and a violation of an elementary principle of English law if a Justice of the Peace who was a member of a local authority were to sit and adjudicate on a case in which the local authority were applying for a licence in respect of its premises. I really think this Amendment is unnecessary. It might have awkward repercussions, and I ask the noble Lord not to press it.


My Amendment has had one very great advantage in that we have now had the law laid down in a way that is perfectly right, not only by the noble and learned Viscount who normally sits on the Woolsack, but by two of his predecessors.

NOBLE LORDS: And they have agreed.


It is the first time in my experience in this House that noble and learned Lords who have held A that office have agreed. I should be asking for too much if I asked for anything more, so I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2:

Compulsory purchase powers.

2.—(I) A civic restaurant authority may be authorized by the Minister of health to purchase land compulsorily for the purposes of this Act, and the Acquisition of Land (Authorization Procedure) Act, 1946, shall have effect as if this section had been in force immediately before the passing of that Act: Provided that section two of that Act shall not apply to the compulsory purchase of land for the purposes of this Act. In the application of this subsection to Scotland for the reference to the Minister of Health there shall be substituted a reference to the Secretary of State.

5.35 p.m.

THE EARL OF MUNSTER moved, at the end of the proviso to subsection (I), to insert: and a civic restaurant authority shall not be authorized under this subsection to purchase compulsorily for the purposes of this Act any premises which are being used by any other person wholly or mainly as a restaurant or otherwise for the supply to the public of meals and refreshments. The noble Earl said: As the Bill stands at the present time, a Civic Restaurant authority may be authorized by the Ministry of Health to acquire land and purchase it compulsorily for the purposes of this In referring to compulsory acquisition of land, the Bill also includes buildings that may be situated upon that land. On the Second Reading debate—and I regret that I was not here—the noble Lord who presented the Bill to your Lordships said this: Fears have been expressed that a Civic Restaurant authority might, under the Bill, compulsorily acquire an existing catering establishment. He went on to say that an explicit assurance had been given in another place by the Minister of Food and, I think, by the Minister of Health to say that it was not the intention of the Ministry of Health to allow a Civic Restaurant authority compulsorily to purchase an existing building or land which is at present used for a catering establishment.

I thought if I put down a reasoned Amendment, which would insert within the Bill what was the intention of the Minister in another place and of the noble Lord in this House, it might conceivably be accepted. But may I go one step further? I see certain dangers arising. Under Clause 2 the Civic Restaurant authority will have power, if their proposal is accepted by the Minister of Health, compulsorily to acquire a building anyWhere, in any town, which they think most suitable and desirable for a catering establishment. That power of compulsion, of course, is not granted to private individuals but I cannot help making a passing reference to it, for it is putting the Civic Restaurant authority in a completely different light from that of a private individual. And whilst I fully accept the need for many of these restaurants to be established permanently a number of towns. up and down this country', I think that we are granting to them a great power which can be used in a manner which might cause very grave hardship to the individual who is to be thrown out of premises which he may have occupied for a very long period of time.

It is true that 1 have strayed from my Amendment, which does not touch that particular paint; it deals only with existing catering establishments. But I hope that when the noble Lord replies he will tell me, first, that he can accept this Amendment, and, secondly, that he will encourage the Minister to look very carefully into the second point which I have raised and to which I shall naturally not expect a whole answer from the noble Lord to-day. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 7, at end insert the said words.—(The Earl of Munster.)


The noble Lord was quite right when he said that on Second Reading I made it clear that there was no intention of allowing these powers to be used to take over the premises of a private caterer. The Amendment translates that assurance into a safeguard in the Bill, and I gladly accept it. With regard to the second point, with which I will not deal at any length, I would remind my noble friend that, in proceedings of acquisition under the land acquisition powers, it is not the local authority who decide whether the application is to succeed or not. There is a prescribed procedure through which the application must pass, and finally it is in the hands of the Minister to decide whether or not, having regard to all the circumstances, authority should be given for the compulsory acquisition of a particular piece of property. The noble Earl should bear that in mind.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for accepting the Amendment. I need hardly tell him that I have borne in mind the second point to which he referred. I believe that he and I have crossed swords before on the acquisition of land authorization procedure. I hope that we shall not have to do it again, but it may be necessary, and I may have to press somewhat harder to persuade the noble Lord to ask the Minister to amend those powers. I thank the noble Lord for accepting my Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

Financial provisions.

3.—(I) Every civic restaurant authority shall keep an account of their income under this Act and their expenditure under this Act on income account, and the form of the account and the particulars to be included therein shall be prescribed by the Minister of Food, after consultation with such associations of local authorities as appears to him to be concerned.

(2) Every civic restaurant authority shall use their best endeavours to ensure that their income under this Act is sufficient to defray their expenditure thereunder and if the account kept by any such authority under the last foregoing subsection shows a. deficit in respect of each of three consecutive financial years, the said powers shall cease to be exercisable by that authority at the expiration of six months from the end of the last of those years:

LORD WOLVERTON moved, in subsection (I), to leave out from "keep" to the end of the subsection and to insert: proper accounts and other records in relation thereto in respect of the exercise of their functions under this Act and shall prepare in respect of each financial year a statement of accounts in such form as the Minister of Food may direct, being a form which shall conform with the best commercial standards. The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment is to try and strengthen the financial provision of Clause 3 (r). I feel that that is not quite strong enough, and that we should have something stronger. The relevant words in my Amendment are that every Civic Restaurant authority shall prepare in respect of each financial year"— nothing is mentioned of a financial year in the clause as drafted— a statement of accounts in such form as the 'Minister of Food may direct, being a form which shall conform with the best commercial standards. I borrowed those words from an Amendment which your Lordships accepted in this House, which was moved on the Coal Industry Nationalization Bill. That said: The Board shall keep proper accounts and other records in relation thereto, and shall prepare in respect of each financial year of the Board a statement of accounts in such form as the Minister may direct, being a form which shall conform with the best commercial standards and which shall distinguish the colliery activities and each of the main ancillary activities of the Board.

My noble friend Lord Llewellin is going to move later on an Amendment restricting from three to two years the period over which a local authority may make a financial loss. In subsection (2) of Clause 3 it will be seen that local authorities are able to make a deficit up to three consecutive years, but after that period: the said powers shall cease to be exercisable by that authority at the expiration of six months from the end of the last of those years. As these Civic Restaurants play a very important part, it is essential that they should clearly show whether they make a profit or loss. I do not think the clause is quite strong enough as at present worded, and I am very anxious to ensure that if they do make a loss, the local ratepayers should know. That is the object of the Amendment, and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 21, leave out from ("keep") to end of line 26, and insert the said new words.—(Lord Wolverton.)


I fully understand the object the noble Lord has in mind in moving this Amendment. I would remind him, however, that local authority accounting is not on all fours with commercial accounting, although its standards are equally high. The noble Lord cited the case of the Amendment made in the Coal Industry Nationalization Bill. But here we are dealing with a local authority activity, which comes under the law governing local government authorities, which provides for accounts to be audited. The law providing for that automatically covers a local authority or a Civic Restaurant authority under this Bill. As the noble Lord knows, it is intended that the form of accounts to be prescribed by the Minister shall provide for the inclusion of all transactions in the account, including a proper proportion of overhead and administrative expenses, the charge for rent, and so on. Finally, the noble Lord knows that provision is made, with regard to local authority accounts, for persons interested being able to inspect them.. In the light of those reasons, I think the noble Lord may not wish to press his Amendment.


I would like to ask one thing before I withdraw the Amendment. Does that provide for full depreciation of the plant?


Speaking without reference—and I will take it up and let the noble Lord know if I am wrong—I understand that all charges which are normally part of the operation of a restaurant will be included in the accounts that have to be kept by Civic Restaurant authorities.


In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD MORRISON moved, after subsection (5), to insert: (6) Expenditure incurred by a district council under this Act shall not be taken into account in any calculation as to the limit imposed on the district council rate by section twenty-six of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929.

The noble Lord said: This is another Scottish Amendment. Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, a district council is allowed to incur expenditure from the rates not exceeding one shilling in the pound on the rateable value of the district. When this limit was fixed the expenditure in question was expenditure on a limited number of functions. But in subsequent legislation, such as the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937, and the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, in which additional functions have been conferred upon district councils, it was thought desirable that expenditure upon these functions might be made from the rates over and above the limited rate imposed under the Act of 1929. The effect of this Amendment is similarly to provide that district councils carrying out functions in relation to Civic Restaurants shall not be limited in expenditure by the Act of 1929. As this expenditure could not have been foreseen, it is reasonable that the limit should not apply. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 26 at end insert the said subsection—(Lord Morrison.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4:

Short title, extent and interpetation.

(3) In this Act the expression "local authority" means, in England and Wales, the council of a county, county borough or county district, the Common Council of the City of London and the council of a metropolitan thorough, and, in Scotland, a county or town council.

LORD MORRISON moved, in subsection (3), to leave out "or town" and insert "town or district." The noble Lord said: This is the third and last Scottish Amendment. This Amendment is to enable a county council in Scotland to delegate its functions as a Civic Restaurant authority not only to town councils but to district councils. In the first Amendment I moved, to which your Lordships were good enough to assent, I explained that in certain circumstances the function of running Civic Restaurants could appropriately be exercised by the district council. This Amendment does not introduce any new principle. It is already open to the county council to appoint the council of a district to act on such terms and conditions as the two councils may agree. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 13, leave out ("or town") and insert ("town or district").—(Lord Morrison.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Remaining clause, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.