HL Deb 03 November 1948 vol 159 cc187-8

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the question which stands on the Order Paper in my name. I am sorry if it is unintelligible, but it was drafted for me by learned counsel.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, whether their attention has been called to the effect of the Wages Regulations (Licensed Non-Residential Establishments) (Managers and Club Stewards) (Holidays) Order, 1948, on managers of such establishments who are also the holders of the Justices' licence in respect of the establishment—namely, that if the person who carries on the establishment during their compulsory absence commits an offence against Sections 75 (permitting drunkenness) and 78 (offences in relation to constables) of the Licensing Act, 1910, the manager becomes liable to conviction and the possible loss of his licence, and how they reconcile the provisions of the Order with the obvious necessity of such manager being continuously on or about the premises to see that no such offence is committed.]


My Lords, the Order was made by the Minister of Labour and National Service under the Catering Wages Act, 1943, to give effect to proposals made by the Licensed Non-residential Establishment Wages Board, which was set up under that Act for requiring workers in relation to whom the Board operates to be allowed holidays by their employers and to be paid holiday remuneration by those employers. The Board includes representatives both of the workers in respect of whom it operates and of their employers. A holiday for a licensee is, of course, not a new conception. The fact that his liability as a licensee continues while he is on holiday is no more onerous than the fact that his liability continues when he is away from work through some other cause beyond his control—for example, sickness.

The general understanding is not that the licensee is bound to the premises but that if he entrusts the premises to a manager, or being a manager himself goes on holiday, he must ensure that the premises are left in the charge of a responsible person who is aware of the terms of the Act and who can be trusted not to commit offences and that, failing this, the licensee will be personally liable. His Majesty's Government are satisfied that the Order in no way prejudices the position of a manager licensee.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for his courteous reply, may I further draw his kindly attention to the grave embarrassment now caused by the Catering Wages Order to many of the smaller inns under disinterested management? They cannot work the shift system owing to lack of staff, and the staff themselves do not welcome the idea of being off duty at certain profitable periods of the day when generous patrons are on the point of departure. Moreover, the staff are apt to find time hanging heavily on their hands.


My Lords, as one who infrequently visits inns, I have never been put to the inconvenience to which the noble Lord has referred. I would remind the noble Earl that this Order was negotiated both by representatives of the persons whom he has in mind and by representatives of the workpeople themselves.


Is it not a fact that by obeying the instructions of the Catering Wages Board establishments will be breaking the licensing laws of this country?

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