HL Deb 12 July 1949 vol 163 cc1194-203

6.45 p.m.

Amendments reported (according to Order).

Clause 1:

Extension of State management to new towns

(3) In this Part of this Act the expression "new town" means an area designated as the site of a proposed new town under section one of the New Towns Act, 1946, by an order (whether made before or after the passing of this Act) which has become operative: Provided that except in this section the said expression does not include any such area after the development corporation established therefor has been dissolved.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, to add to the proviso in subsection (3): (b) if, by reason of the revocation or variation of any such order as aforesaid, land ceases to be, or to be comprised in, the site of a proposed new town, the Secretary of State shall by order direct that as from such date as may be specified in the order (being the date on which the revocation or variation takes effect or the earliest date thereafter which appears to the Secretary of State practicable) the land shall be deemed no longer to be comprised in a State management district. The power conferred on the Secretary of State under proviso (b) to this subsection to make orders shall be exercisable by statutory instrument.

The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, I beg to move that the words which appear on the Marshalled List be inserted. On the Committee stage of this Bill the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, suggested that it might happen that a proposed new town would be given up and therefore not become a State management area. He wanted some provision inserted to deal with that point. I promised to look into the matter, and the effect of the proposed addition which I am making is that if any land ceases to be new town land the Secretary of State shall by order direct that it shall cease to be State management land at the same time or as soon as practicable thereafter. I think it is most unlikely that the Secretary of State will have any commitments in land given up. If he had, he might have to have some short extra time for disposal. I hope that the noble Lord will be satisfied with this proposed provision. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 14, at end insert the said new words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. This does meet the point I raised on Committee stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 16 [Disqualification of justices]:


My Lords, I rise to move that we add these words as printed on the Marshalled List. I am asked to do that by the Magistrates' Association and the Justices' Clerks Society. They want to make it absolutely plain that the new clause in its amended form should be set out in the Schedule, so that anybody may look at the clause and see what is involved. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 12, line 36, at end insert— ( ) In accordance with the provisions of this Act, the said section forty shall have effect as set out in the Schedule (Section forty of Act of 1910 as amended by this Act) to this Act."—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Later permitted hours where special hours certificate in force]:


My Lords, this is an idea of my own, but I think not a bad one, in spite of that. There is a proviso to this clause that the extra hours have to stop if at any time between midnight and two o'clock in the morning "music and dancing ceases." Of course, you have a dance and then you have an interval when the band go out and get a drink and have to stop playing for a while. That is why some of us can hear ourselves speak on those occasions! It occurred to me that the word "ceases" is an unfortunate word, because it might be thought to cover that short interval. If that be so, somebody would always have to go on drinking. I suggest the words "comes to an end" instead of "ceases." I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 9, leave out ("ceases") and insert ("comes to an end").—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I suppose it makes a difference but I should have thought that, if I looked up the word "cease" in a dictionary, I should find it defined as "come to an end." Perhaps there is some distinction. We certainly all want to carry out what the Lord Chancellor has in mind. If he thinks that his words are better, no doubt we shall adopt them, but I have considerable doubts as to whether they are better.


My Lords, I am satisfied that they are better. The noble Lord has now ceased speaking, but he has not "come to an end." That would imply a horrible state of permanence!

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 28 [Restriction of retail sales by spirit or wine dealers without justices' licence]:


My Lords, In this case, the Parliamentary draftsman has operated on the clause submitted last time by the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin. He has made it much longer, and it seems to me that the end of the clause, which is the really effective part, remains the same. I will ask the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, if he will be good enough to accept in this form the Amendment which he moved. I warned him at the time that I should probably have to come back to this matter on Report stage. This apparently satisfies everybody concerned. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 24, line 9, leave out subsection (6).—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, it was well understood by me that the noble and learned Viscount was accepting my subsection (6), subject to looking at it between Committee and Report stage. I too have looked at the effort which the Parliamentary draftsmen have made. I prefer it to my own. I am, therefore, glad to assent to the omission of the words that were put in last time and to the insertion later of the new words being put in in their place.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the next Amendment.

Amendment moved— After Clause 28, insert the following new clause:

Removal of off-licences . Paragraph (5) of section twenty-six of the Act of 1910 (which provides that the justices shall not make an order for the ordinary removal of a justices' licence unless they are satisfied that no objection is made by the owner of the premises from which the licence is to be removed, or by the holder of the licence, or by any other person whom the justices may determine to have the right to object to the removal) shall have effect, in relation to the making of an order for the removal of a justices' off-licence, as if for the words from 'by the owner' to 'any other person' there were substituted the words 'by the holder of the licence or by any person, other than the holder of the licence,'"—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 29:

Persons under eighteen not to be employed in bars

(5) In this section the expression "bar" includes any place exclusively or mainly used for the sale or consumption of intoxicating liquor.

LORD ROCHESTER moved, in subsection (5) after "sale" to insert "supply." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sorry to delay your Lordships for a few minutes, but I have put down this Amendment for the sole purpose of raising afresh the issue of the employment in liquor bars of young persons under eighteen years of age. On the Committee stage your Lordships very wisely stood firm on this issue and refused to countenance the lowering of the age to fifteen, even in the case of a son or daughter of a holder of a licence. But unfortunately your Lordships also—most disastrously, as I think—accepted in my absence an Amendment deleting "clubs" as distinct from "pubs." from Clause 2 of the Bill. The Amendment that I am now moving may be of some efficacy, even in the case of "pubs." I want to be quite frank with your Lordships, however, and say that my reason for seeking to insert the word "supply" is that I may thus cover the contingency of "clubs" finding a place in the Bill after all. That might occur if the Government advised the other House to disagree with your Lordships' Amendment deleting "clubs," and then upon reflection your Lordships decided not to insist upon your Amendment. The result of such a happening would be that clubs would come within the purview of the Bill. I recognise that doubtless there are a number of other ways of accomplishing the same end, but at least this Amendment gives me the opportunity of stating the case for the inclusion of clubs in the Bill, which I was prevented from doing on the Committee stage owing to my unavoidable absence, for which I have already apologised.

Assuming that premise, that clubs are put back into the Bill, I want to ensure that the under-eighteen provision shall be applicable to clubs as well as to "pubs." First of all, if only on the grounds of consistency, having excluded the undereighteens from serving in "pubs," surely they should be excluded also in regard to clubs, for the same undesirability exists. Employment in club activities other than the supplying of drink would not be affected by my Amendment, as it applies solely to employment in the supply of liquor. It may be asked why I select the word "supply." The answer is that the technical description of the distribution of liquor in clubs is the word "supply," and it is used in existing legislation in regard to the trade of intoxicating liquor in clubs. Unless clubs as well as "pubs," are included in this Bill it will give clubs a preferential position for the securing of youthful labour.

I readily concede that there are clubs and clubs—that clubs differ very much in character. The atmosphere in some well-regulated clubs may not of necessity be prejudicial to the life of a young person, but up and down the country, in a vast number of clubs used by working people of various designations in industrial areas, the atmosphere and the whole environment leaves much to be desired. And the employment of under-eighteens in such places is most undesirable and could scarcely fail to have a damaging effect on the unformed character of an adolescent. Never was it more important to train youth for serviceable occupation and prevent their drifting into undesirable avenues of employment. I can instance a town where years ago three public-houses only were licensed. To-day, in addition to those three public-houses, there are from twenty to twenty-five clubs. These clubs have different names, but their purpose differs very little, and in a number of cases they are not much other than mere drinking shops and gambling dens. Are these the places in which your Lordships would have girls and boys of from fifteen to eighteen employed, supplying liquor?

I would remind your Lordships that these clubs are not even liable to police supervision. To contend that the atmosphere of such places is fit for young people to be employed in is to be blind to their moral welfare. I am told that in one such club in the North of England £3,000 has been taken in money for drinks in less than one single week. In the early days of the club movement there were some pretensions to cultural value in club life. To-day that has very largely ceased, and now for the main part the chief function of these clubs is the supply of drink, and still more drink. These clubs are not restaurants; they are in many cases little better than drinking dens. In these days our courts are filled with sad cases of juvenile delinquency. I can conceive of few things more conducive to the growth of such delinquency than to let young people spend their working hours in the atmosphere of the average club in the average industrial area. In many such clubs, girls are admitted as guests. There is all too much reason to fear that the morals of the club-frequenter, especially under the influence of drink, are in danger of lapsing into sub-Christian standards.

Further, club hours make it next to impossible for young employees to attend Divine Worship, even if they have an inclination to do so. Just at the time when spiritual culture is most necessary they would be debarred by their hours of labour, to say nothing of its nature, from attending any meeting for religious instruction. I believe that such club life as I have instanced is well-nigh as dangerous to the welfare of young people as "pub" life. Your Lordships have agreed to prohibit young persons, including the sons and daughters of licensees, serving in "pubs." I submit that to be consistent they must also be prohibited from working in clubs for the supply of liquor. In conclusion, let me say that I am in no way wedded to the form of this particular Amendment, and will gladly withdraw it after having had this opportunity of stating the case as I have done, if the Government prefer not to accept it and have another and possibly better solution to accomplish the same end. I would add only that at the Methodist Conference yesterday a resolution regretting the action of your Lordships' House in deleting clubs from the Bill and urging His Majesty's Government to reinstate them was carried unanimously. And that was not on my initiative. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 24, line 39, after ("sale") insert ("supply").—(Lord Rochester.)


The noble Lord is so obviously sincere and feels so strongly about these matters, that it is always a pleasure to listen to him; and although sometimes in the recent past I have been guilty of chaffing him, and Lord Llewellin has done the same, yet those of us who are here and see the smile on his face, know that he has a sense of humour and of tolerance and has not minded it a bit. Moreover, he knows well enough that it is not out of any disrespect for him or by reason of any lack of friendship for him that I have done these things. It is just my irrepressible mischief. My postbag has been full of indignant letters from admirers of the noble Lord who say it was monstrous that I should ever have dared to suggest that the noble Lord was once "a gay young thing." I am sorry if I offended his admirers. But at least I like to know that I have never offended the noble Lord.

Having said that, let me come to the Amendment. This Amendment will not achieve the result which the noble Lord wants. Clause 29 deals with any person under the age of eighteen years who is "employed in any bar of licensed premises," and so forth. The words "licensed premises" are a term of art and that term does not include a club. Section 91 (2) of the Licensing Consolidation Act, 1910, specifically provides that: The registration of a club under this Act shall not constitute the club premises licensed premises. So your Lordships will see that even if you insert the word "supply" in subsection (5) the expression "bar" means a bar of licensed premises. Therefore the Amendment is not apt to do what the noble Lord wishes, and I shall be grateful if he will withdraw it. I would say just this. He has told us of the unanimous resolution of the Methodist Conference. I may say, in this connection, that on this occasion I find myself wholeheartedly in agreement with the Methodist Conference. As I have dropped that hint, perhaps the noble Lord will now be good enough to do what he said he would do—withdraw the Amendment.


My Lords, before Lord Rochester withdraws his Amendment perhaps I may just say that I think he got the debate relating to a son or daughter of a licensee slightly out of perspective. It would certainly not be my intention that any person under the age of eighteen should be in charge of a bar, either at a club or a public-house. But one has to remember that children under the age of eighteen are allowed to go with their parents into a public-house—that is, I believe, if they are over the age of fourteen. They are not, of course, allowed to be supplied with intoxicating drink. The only object we had in mind was to provide that the son or daughter of a licensee, as well as being allowed to sit in the bar, as they are—and nothing in this Bill prevents that—should also be allowed to help at the bar by washing up glasses—that is to say, they should be permitted to help their mother, just as they might do in a back room. Such assistance is often very necessary in cases where a widow is left as licensee after the death of her husband. In many such instances it is found that a woman depends upon some help of that sort. It was not to be a means of introducing young people into bars except with the approval of their parents.

I hope the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, will now get this matter into the proper perspective. I have sought to assist him in so placing it. Whether or not the noble Lord influenced the Division to which the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack has referred in regard to clubs I cannot say. The noble and learned Viscount himself did his best to dissuade us from dividing on that occasion. But we did divide, and I am only sorry that the Methodist Conference do not know all our reasons. The Amendment stated merely that it should be possible to start a club without the permission of the Home Secretary. That could not be done as the Bill then stood. Even if the decision arrived at as the result of that Division is reversed, it does not mean that there will never be any club in the State management areas. It means simply that the consent of the Home Secretary will have to be obtained. I do not know whether the Methodist Conference realised all the implications of that Amendment. I regret that for once I do not see eye to eye with that Conference.


My Lords, nothing could exceed the courtesy of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, and we have long been accustomed to his sympathetic replies in our debates. I should like to deal with two points. One is that what I said on the last occasion was not in reply to his intervention. I am sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Munster, is not here, but I know he will forgive my mentioning the matter in his absence. He moved the Amendment and it was in reply to his intervention that I spoke. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, said, in terms, that unless this Amendment of his was carried, a licensee and his wife would be prevented from ever getting away together during business hours—the inference, surely, being that one of their young persons under the age of eighteen would be left in charge. I do not want to pursue that point now.

As regards the noble Lord's reference to the Methodist Conference, let me assure him that those attending it were fully seized of the whole situation. I listened to the debate in the Conference but I took no part in that part of the debate. Although I did intervene for a moment or two with reference to the general principle of public ownership, I carefully avoided intervening on this point, because I knew that I should be addressing your Lordships to-day. If I may, I would now thank the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack. I would like to assure him that I too enjoy a sense of humour. I did not take seriously any remark of his or of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, concerning myself. I enjoyed the hilarity that was evident in the House. Let me also acknowledge with gratitude, and in no measured terms, the hint which the noble and learned Viscount has given. After all, a nod is as good as a wink to a blind man, and in the circumstances I am glad to ask the House to permit me to withdraw the Amendment, in order that my object may be achieved in another way.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, this is a drafting Amendment to make it quite plain that the expression "bar" does not cover off-licensed premises where liquor is sold though not consumed. Off-licensed premises are not, of course, "bars" in the ordinary sense, and there has been no intention or suggestion that the clause should apply to them. It is therefore proposed to refer to "sale and consumption" so as to remove any ambiguity and leave no room for doubt. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 24, line 39, leave out second ("or") and insert ("and").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, after the First Schedule to insert the following new Schedule: