HL Deb 04 February 1954 vol 185 cc694-6

Clause 12, page 8, line 10, leave out ("fifth day of April,") and insert ("first day of July,").


My Lords, this Amendment is slightly more complicated, though in essence there is nothing very difficult about it. It is a question of the actual licensing sessions of the local authorities and the date of the operation of the Bill. I think I ought to explain it fully to your Lordships go that you may fully to your Lordships, so that you may understand why the Amendment is inserted. As your Lordships will see, Clause 12 (2) of the Bill fixes the appointed day on which Defence Regulation 60AA, which is the Regulation under which these canteens are at present operated, is to be repealed and the first new licences under the Bill are to come into force; and that date is fixed for April 5 in England and Wales and May 28 in Scotland. These are obviously suitable dates because they mark the beginning of the licensing year when, ordinarily, new or renewed licences come into force. When the Bill was introduced into your Lordships' House on November 10 it was thought— and I think quite reasonably— that it would reach the Statute Book before now. I need hardly say that with the very efficient, streamlined procedure of your Lordships' House, there was no delay here. Unfortunately, pressure of business in another place before Christmas made it impossible to find time for Second Reading before the House adjourned, and it is now impossible for the Bill to receive the Royal Assent until next week.

If your Lordships will look at Clause 10 (1) you will see that it has the effect that an application for a new licence under the Bill must be made in England either at Brewster Sessions or at Transfer Sessions. For those of your Lordships who are not cognisant of the technical terminology, I would explain that Brewster Sessions are when licences are normally renewed and when new licences can be obtained. The difference between Brewster Sessions and Transfer Sessions, broadly speaking, is that you cannot get a new licence at Transfer Sessions; you can get a new licence only at Brewster Sessions. Therefore, there is a certain importance attaching to this difference between the two. Under paragraph 1 (1) (c) of the First Schedule, your Lordships will observe that twenty-one days' notice must be given of an application. Therefore, to give managers of canteens a reasonable chance to apply for and obtain a licence between the passing of the Bill and the repeal of the Defence Regulation, it would be necessary for either Brewster or Transfer Sessions to be held some time in the month of March in each licensing district in which there is an existing canteen. In point of fact, this will not happen. For example, in Paddington— where there is a canteen— we have found that both parts of Brewster Sessions are to be held in the first half of February.

Under the Second Schedule to the Licensing Act 1953, Brewster Sessions have to be held on at least two days, the first in the first fortnight of February and the second between six days and one month after the first. Under Section 20 of that Act, licensing justices must hold not less than four or more than eight Transfer Sessions in the year at as nearly regular intervals as may be. The only object of this long discourse is to show your Lordships that it is possible, as in the case of Paddington, for Brewster Sessions to be completed in February and for no Transfer Sessions to be held for more than two months afterward. The result would be that the Defence Regulations would lapse and it would be impossible to obtain new licences. Therefore, there would be a long period when the people concerned would be in a vacuum, as it were, with no licence whatsoever. The proposed Amendment will, accordingly, defer the appointed day for England and Wales from April 5 to July 1. That ought to give the managers of all existing canteens a reasonable opportunity to apply for licences at one of the Sessions before the Defence Regulation is repealed. No change is necessary in Scotland, because the licensing year there begins later, and there ought to be enough time for the existing canteens to get their new licences before May 28, provided that the Bill receives the Royal Assent before March 9. I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in this Amendment.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.— (Lord Lloyd.)

On Question. Motion agreed to.