§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Brecon.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD AILWYN in the Chair.]
§ Clause 6:
§ Sunday closing in Wales and Monmouthshire
(2) There shall be no poll under this section for a county or county borough unless it is requisitioned by not less than five hundred local government electors for the county or county borough, and a requisition shall not be effective unless—
(a) it is contained in one or more requisition papers in the form in the appendix to the Second Schedule to this Act, signed by the requisitioning electors and giving the particulars of them required by that form; and
LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR moved, in subsection (2) (a), after "electors" to insert:
in the presence of a person and at a place appointed for the purpose by the council of the county or county borough".
The noble Lord said: One term that was used by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House was "We must be fair", and I agree, and all I ask for is fairness regarding not only this Amendment but all subsequent Amendments. May I add—I hope I shall not be misunderstood—that I am a little worried that the Bishops' Bench has been empty throughout the debate on this Bill. I know that they are people active in the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches. I am
delighted to see the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Liverpool this evening.
The noble Lord, Lord Amwell, seemed concerned when discussing Lord Ogmore's Amendment as to where I really stood. Did I think that legislation could make people good morally? I had better read his own words because I want to link up [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 233 (No. 109) col. 378]:
I do not believe you can make people moral by Act of Parliament. This is the way in which certain sections of people with strong and honest convictions, like the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, seem to think this can be done.
I would assure noble Lords present that I do not take that attitude. I do not think legislation will make us a moral nation in itself. I agree with him. I have been an anti-prohibitionist. My method of dealing with the drink issue has always been, and still is, a very direct method: slow maybe, a roundabout way—that is, first of all by the right type of education, especially in the schools.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
No; to the noble Lord, Lord Amwell. What I was referring to was my personal position. I think the best approach to the drink problem is first of all the right type of education, especially in our schools and colleges; wise legislation—I think that is necessary; but I would also emphasise the example of the older generation. Those three ways, in my opinion, are the best ways of handling this problem. They may be slow and hard, and they may take a long time; but I cannot think of any other method that would be permanently effective.
The Amendment I now move and the two following Amendments are all related. To some extent it is a waste of time to move them separately. I have them all in mind in making my brief submission. When this Bill is passed and the ballot has been arranged, it is important that this House along with another place gives guidance. Here we have seventeen different areas in Wales needing seventeen officers of one kind or another to supervise the ballots, and we feel that we, as Parliament, ought to give guidance. This machinery has been 474 decided on, and we do not think it ought to be left to each official in his own area to deal with this matter in the way he desires. We want to add dignity to this ballot. We want it to be a ballot of importance. We do not want there to be an idea that anything we do is good enough and that we can get away with it, as is the tendency in regard to cinemas. This is not a cinema issue, not by any means. The cinema issue is quite different from this issue. I am anxious that we should give guidance to the people who are responsible in these seventeen areas as to how to conduct the ballot in such a way that they know that the future of Wales is involved. I beg to move.
Page 12, line 44, after ("electors") insert the said words.—(Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor.)
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR WELSH AFFAIRS (LORD BRECON)
I can quite understand the reason for the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, proposing these Amendments. The effect of accepting the Amendments would mean that requisition papers for a poll would be signed in the presence of a person and at a place appointed for the purpose by the County Council or County Borough Council concerned. The purpose of the Amendments, I take it, is to ensure that all signatures to a requisition paper are the valid signatures of duly qualified electors.
I would point out that it has not been thought necessary to make similar provision about signing requisition papers in a particular place, and in the presence of a particular person, in legislation relating to other kinds of local polls—as the noble Lord has said, a poll for Sunday cinemas, which he refers to as being in a different category to this one. In particular, there is no such provision in the law relating to requisition for "temperance polls" under the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1959. I am sure that the noble Lord would not wish Ito give the impression that stricter safeguards are needed for the people of Wales than have been found necessary for the people of Scotland. Temperance polls in Scotland have been part of the law since 1920. In any event, Clause 6 (8) (b) of the Bill, by attracting paragraphs 18 or 19 of the Ninth Schedule to the Local Gov- 475 ernment Act, 1933, already makes it an offence for any person fraudulently to sign or forge a signature to a requisition paper or to attempt to do so.
I think the point here is that if a particular person is appointed say, in the City of Cardiff, to receive these signatures, he is not in any position to check the person. He gives his name; he does not know him, but he can give his number from the voters' list. I cannot believe that those in favour of Sunday opening and those against will have any difficulty in getting 500 valid signatures, and these proposed Amendments, I think, make it just more difficult and inconvenient for people, by requiring them to go to some central point—probably at specified hours—to sign the requisition paper. Perhaps in a large county like Cardiganshire one spot would be most inconvenient for everyone to go to. I hope that, for these reasons, the noble Lord will not press his Amendments.
§ LORD OGMORE
Before we leave this particular part of Clause 6 may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, whether he can clear up a point which I raised last Thursday as to the position of Servicemen who are away from home on Service, in Kenya or Malaya, Hongkong or anywhere else? I have been informed that such Servicemen or women will not be able to vote at a poll under Clause 6 because they are not on the local government register. The noble Lord was not absolutely certain about that. So that we may know where we are, perhaps he will try to find out, if it is possible, and clarify the position.
§ LORD BRECON
I shall be very happy to look at that question. I understand the postal vote does apply to the elections; but, in so far as the Servicemen are concerned, I will make inquiries and write to the noble Lord in a day or so.
§ LORD OGMORE
One point is that there is bound to be some delay before the papers come back, if they have to go out to Hong Kong, Malaya and so on. There would be delay which may not be allowed for in the clause.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.476
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
In his absence, my noble friend Lord Silkin has asked me to move the next Amendment, which is to leave out Clause 6. The question I am being repeatedly asked nowadays is: how did this clause get into this Bill? That is a difficult question for me, because I have no idea, and that is my usual reply—"I have no idea." But these friends of mine seem to have some ideas, and in North Wales they are rather shrewd people. They put their point of view in question form. Let me just give your Lordships the questions. Is it because the Government have no views on Sunday opening of public houses in Wales? Or is it that they favour Sunday opening but are inclined to the view that it would be unwise politically, in this respect, to put those views in legislative form, in the form of a Bill? They go on to say that that would mean that the Welsh Grand Committee would meet to adjudicate upon the Bill, and that would be discrediting the Government. Somebody else disagreed: he thought the Government would make a better effort to find out what is the feeling in Wales on this issue.
Now for months—I think I could say, for years—this question of opening a public house on Sunday in Wales has been before the people in one way or another. Licensees and victuallers—not all the licensees, by any means—have seen to it in various forms that somebody is impressed (and I rather think it is the Minister for Welsh Affairs and the noble Lord, Lord Brecon) that there is a big demand for this in Wales. I would say that the demand for the closing of the clubs is, if anything, bigger than that for the opening of the pubs in Wales. Now the demand for the closing of the clubs comes from one section of the population: the demand for the opening of the pubs comes from another section. So far as the demand for closing or opening is concerned, that is a matter to be decided, but I am quite satisfied in my own mind that so far as the demand in Wales is concerned there is nobody entitled to say that there has been a bigger demand one way or the other.
Of course, what I feel has been happening is that somebody has been 477 arranging for people to go around Wales to eavesdrop here and have a chat there and bring back information. Then, as a result of all this investigation, it has become known that the majority in Wales would vote for Sunday opening. Now, the Government could bring in a Bill, but the M.P.s of the Tory Party in Wales would never approve of that. They would realise that for the Government to bring in a Bill putting forward Sunday opening would be electorally disadvantageous to them. That would not do at all. No; they must find a means of getting the pubs open on a Sunday which does not discredit the Government. And the way to do it is to organise something: get a scheme; work it out; get your clever men on the job—and this is the result of the cleverness. That is what they say to Wales now, having consulted I do not know whom.
I know the leaders in Welsh thought and in Welsh life as well as anybody else in the world. I see them frequently. We seldom meet without discussing this. Those men have not been consulted. Men in very high positions have not been consulted in any shape or form. As I said on Second Reading, it is easy to pretend that you have consulted this, that or the other person. I have seen that game going on in the industrial world. You consult those who you think matter. Then you say to yourselves, "Ah, if we don't consult somebody else, they might be concerned," so you consult them just to put them off. They accept what you suggest because you have talked to them. I am afraid there is a lot of that going on in Wales.
What we want to ask ourselves is this: is it the right thing to throw this matter at Wales in this way? Is it right to say to Wales, "We have our views as a Government. It does not need a very keen or acute mind to read between the lines of every statement made by every member of the Government. They are all obviously leaning towards the opening of the pubs on a Sunday." What should the Government do? Are they frightened because it happens to be an unpopular issue, and they then try to avoid a decision on the matter and say, "No, it is not our policy. Wales has had a chance to vote; they voted this way and therefore we must respect the wishes of Wales and arrange legislation accordingly."? On Thursday last we discussed 478 the method. I thought and still think that Lord Ogmore's Amendment took the right lines. We should not have seventeen separate ballots in separate places on the same day. To have the people voting in local areas is not the way to treat Wales. Give Wales a national ballot, if you give them a ballot at all.
What this Amendment will do is this. At the moment the Government have nothing whatever to lose by accepting it, nothing to lose at all. Wales will realise that the Government have intended to be fair, as was emphasised before in the previous debate by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, who constantly said when addressing my noble Leader, "We must be fair. That is all we ask." Let this clause go entirely for the time being. Go back to Wales; talk to those who matter in Wales. Have a commission for whatever you may call it) to go into the matter.
After all, we must now realise that Wales will have something new if the pubs open; but, in addition to the pubs opening, these refreshment rooms and cafés will open too in Wales. I myself am very anxious that Wales should be recognised for what she is. She is a nation. There is a danger of those in England not always recognising that. The feeling of nationhood is stronger than ever at the moment. This clause is rather in the direction of denying that nationhood and unity. A united Wales is a possibility, but not with a clause like this. If this machinery operates, I feel very much that there will be disunity and division in Wales because of the operation of this clause. That is why I am so anxious that this clause should not remain in the Bill. I beg to move.
Leave out Clause 6.—(Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor.)
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
I have a good deal of sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, because, quite frankly, I am in my own mind genuinely very doubtful whether the clause as it stands at present will be satisfactory so far as Wales is concerned. As the noble Lord, Lord 479 Brecon, knows, I have for years pressed for Sunday opening for licensed premises in Wales, under certain conditions. I pressed for that when it was very unpopular to do so. In fact, I was more or less—I will not say turned off the Tourist Board, but because nobody else on the Tourist Board agreed with me, it was better to leave it. Several Ministers came down to speak at the various clubs in Wales—at least Conservative clubs. They also failed to support my line of thinking. The Labour Party failed to support me. As the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, knows, I was alone on this point.
I believe that the club system in Wales is pernicious and that the proper way of dealing with it is not to close the clubs, which is impracticable, but to allow public houses to open under certain conditions. I had a deputation of licensed victuallers to see me, although I had no connection with them. It was all reported in the Press and can be verified. They said that they agreed with my proposal that licensed premises should be allowed to open on Sunday provided they made the necessary provision for those who wanted to eat a meal. One of the great problems in a country like Wales, especially in West Wales, where there are long distances from one town to another, is that it is difficult to get anything to eat on Sunday. One can go a long distance before getting anything.
It seems to me that this goes back to the old idea of the innkeeper who has to provide accommodation and fare for man and beast. We can go back to the time of Chaucer and the Tabard Inn, from which the Pilgrims set off on their journey to Canterbury. Chaucer sets out in clear language what a great man the innkeeper was, because he provided victuals and wine and accommodation. I had hoped that in Wales we would have the same sort of spirit. At that time that was my proposal: that if premises were prepared to make the necessary alterations or provide the necessary accommodation for people who wanted to use the house as it should be used, then they could have a licence on Sunday.
I still think it is a pity that the Government did not make this qualification in the Bill. But the great opponents of 480 this idea have been the brewers in Wales, who do not wish in any way that public houses should reoccupy their traditional position. They have been interested only in how much beer and other intoxicants they could sell. This has been particularly vicious because, of course, they sell more beer on Sunday in the clubs than they sell in any public house on any single day in the week. So far, so good. Your Lordships can see that I have been no enemy to public house opening, and, in fact, have supported it.
The Government have put the ridiculous provision in this Bill for seventeen polls on whether licensed premises should be open or not on Sunday. I do not want to reiterate what I said previously because it would only delay the Committee, but what we have to see to-day is that this absurd provision for seventeen polling disticts in a small country like Wales is so harmful that it will vitiate any good consequencies that the Bill will bring. I confess I am in some doubt about whether it will bring more benefit or otherwise. If all districts decide one way or all decide the other, then it will not matter; but it is hardly likely that all the seventeen will decide one way and we will be in the position of having six or eight of them "dry" on Sunday and the remainder "wet". If that be the position, I think that this Bill will do far more harm than it will do good. Unfortunately, the noble Lord who is in charge of the Bill cannot tell us what the result will be. What the Committee are being asked to do is put its money on a very uncertain horse—or, rather, seventeen very uncertain horses. Nobody knows which of these horses will win or in what order they will come home. Although this is all right for Ascot, it is not the sort of proposition that ought to be put up to Parliament. I should like to hear what the noble Lord has to say, because, as I say, I am very dubious about this. I am only sorry that the Government did not accept my Amendment to allow Wales as a country to decide one way or the other, because this, I believe, would have been the statesmanlike course.
§ LORD BOSTON
While I sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, I think we should remember the number of English people who live in Wales. This Bill will also affect the 481 thousands of visitors from England and elsewhere who go to Wales. Their point of view ought to be taken into consideration, as well as those people of Wales who feel sincerely that public houses should remain closed.
§ LORD BRECON
We have listened with great interest to the speeches from noble Lords, and we can all agree on the sincerity that they have shown on this question of whether public houses in Wales should open on Sundays. Your Lordships will have realised the great and sincere differences of opinion that are held in the Principality, and as time passes I believe that these differences are becoming greater. In bringing forward a Licensing Bill the Government could not remain silent on the question of Sunday opening in Wales. Since the Bill was published, strong views on both sides have been heard throughout the Principality and also in another place. I believe that had the Government ignored the question, without doubt an Amendment would have been put forward when the Bill was in another place and the Government would have had to declare their views. These considered views of the Government have been declared in Clause 6, and we believe the only way in which the views of the people of Wales can be consulted is to allow them the right of local option in counties and county boroughs.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has again raised the question of local polls as against the national referendum. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor replied to the point about a national referendum at our last Committee meeting.
§ LORD OGMORE
May I say that the Lord Chancellor tried to prove conclusively that the referendum was un-English, and then suggested that, as it was un-English, we should have seventeen referendums.
§ LORD BRECON
The referendum for which the noble Lord was asking was for the whole of Wales. The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, said on Second Reading that my right honourable friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs and I trot around the country having conversations with the wrong people. I should like to assure the noble Lord, and the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition as well, that 482 that is quite wrong. My right honourable friend and I meet as many people as we can, who can and do represent to us all opinions on many topics; and I believe we do this with reasonable success. The case for Sunday opening was put to me in 1958 by the Licensed Victuallers Defence League for England and Wales, and at that time I said that if I was to receive a deputation from that organisation I must receive and hear a deputation from those who took an opposite view. One month later I received the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches of Wales. I was in no doubt, after receiving these deputations, that there were strongly-held and very sincere opinions on both sides.
I am sure that the only way this question can be solved is in the manner suggested in Clause 6, because this will allow the people of Wales—and not only the leaders—to voice their opinions and make their own decision. By having local option, it will allow for the different feelings held in various parts of Wales, and they will be able to express themselves. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said on Second Reading that the position in Wales at the present time is a complete and utter farce; that clubs are increasing, and we have 1,400 at the moment; and that the present laws are being circumvented every Sunday. We believe that Clause 6 will give to Wales the more realistic approach to the present most unsatisfactory state of affairs.
The noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, spoke of his visits to Wales and what went on. Since the Act of 1888, Wales has changed out of all recognition. Our industries are to-day more diversified than they have ever been. We have industries which work three shifts a day, seven days a week, throughout the year; and there are men and women who do not regularly get every Saturday off. This change of the industrial pattern changes men's habits, and our laws should from time to time take account of these changes. We in Wales also have a considerable tourist industry. While the Welsh Tourist Holidays Board have declared themselves only in favour of drinks with meals, I am sure that visitors to Wales will welcome the change. Perhaps we shall see fewer people going out of Wales on a Sunday and an increase in our tourist industry, which will bring 483 prosperity to many small hotels that are at present able to keep open only for such short periods of the year.
This Amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin (I am sorry he is not here now), is to omit Clause 6, and there would then be no specific provision at all in the Bill relating to Sunday opening in Wales. This I believe would be wrong, and what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said on Second Reading was this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 232 (No. 103) col. 1339]:The question is: what is to be done? Should we permit complete freedom to open public-houses in Wales? I would have said Yes".I was glad to hear the noble Lord continue to say that, as the present law has been the law for many generations, the Government should have some form of consultation with the Welsh people. This is exactly what the Government are proposing in Clause 6. The very sincere views put forward by noble Lords are that the people of Wales do not want Sunday opening. If that is so, then why not let the people have this local option, and the result of the polls would declare those views expressed by noble Lords, so that they would have nothing to fear. But those of us who have lived all our lives in Wales know that very differing views are held in various parts of Wales, and the only way in which this very important question can be settled is through the local poll. I ask your Lordships, for the reasons I have given, not to accept this Amendment.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
Let me say at once that I was rather surprised to hear that there was nothing which could be done except to introduce this clause. What prevented the Government from bringing in a Bill? If the Government believe that Sunday opening is the right thing for Wales, well, Wales is part of the United Kingdom, and the Government ought not to create a scheme which prevents them
§ from declaring where they stand. Every member of the Government in his speech on this question has indicated his sympathy with the opening of pubs on Sunday in Wales. My personal complaint is that that is not governing; it is avoiding the issue. That is shifting the responsibility on to somebody else, rather than run the risk of some electoral disadvantage in consequence of bringing in a Bill. This is a question which should be dealt with by a Bill. Though I should oppose it, that is the way to do it.
§ With regard to the tourist industry, when are the Government going to drop this idea? Last year the tourist industry reported the highest ever influx into Wales, and the pubs were closed. Why keep on talking about this tourist business? I have met scores of these visitors, but never one who said, "Wales would be more attractive if your pubs opened on Sunday." Not a single person on earth have I met who said that. I am tired of the argument about the tourist industry. The tourist industry made its biggest impression on Wales last year, with the pubs closed.
§ This is a grave issue for Wales. This Bill would be a far better Bill without this clause and the Government would still be the Government, believing what they thought best. I suggest that this clause should be withdrawn, and I appeal to Members of the House. I appreciate very much the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Boston. He lives in Wales, and speaks for Wales, although he is not a Welshman. I appeal to all members present to give Wales further consideration. Lot this clause go out of this Bill for the time being, and later on, after further consultation and further consideration, bring in some other method of dealing with this problem.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 8; Not-Contents, 35.485
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Peddie, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Brecon, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Bathurst, E.||Bridgeman, V.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Boston, L.||Buckinghamshire, E.|
|Chesham, L.||Hampton, L.||Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Craigton, L.||Hastings, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Crathorne, L.||Hawke, L.||St. Oswald, L. [Teller.]|
|Denham, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Strang, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Lansdowne, M.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Liverpool, L. Bp.||Torrington, V.|
|Fraser of North Cape, L.||Merrivale, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Goschen, V.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Grenfell, L.||Newall, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ Special hours certificates for premises providing music and dancing
§ 8.—(1) Sections one hundred and thirteen to one hundred and nineteen of the Licensing Act, 1953 (which provide for extended hours in premises providing music and dancing, but apply only to specified parts of the metropolis), Shall extend to any area in England or Wales which is subject to statutory regulations for music and dancing, and shall accordingly be modified in accordance with the Third Schedule to this Act.
§ (6) The permitted hours on Saturdays under section one hundred and seventeen of the Licensing Act, 1953, shall be the same as on other week-days, and accordingly proviso (a) to subsection (2) of that section (under which on Saturdays those hours end at midnight) shall be omitted; and in that section "weekday" shall include, and be deemed always to have included, Christmas Day, when not a Sunday, and Good Friday.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM moved to leave out subsection (1). The noble Lord said: It may be as well for an Anglican to follow the Nonconformists in these matters, and also one who, as probably your Lordships know, is not an abstainer. In fact, I may well say that if there is one thing that I like better than one glass of wine, it is two glasses of wine. But then I leave it, and I do not think that that makes me other than an advocate of temperance.
§ Now this Amendment and the two subsequent Amendments are supported by the Temperance Council of Churches, and your Lordships doubtless received, as I did, a letter from the Temperance Council. In these days of pressure groups about which we hear so much, I personally thought that that letter was a model of what all kinds of similar communications addressed to your Lordships should be. It seemed to me to express views firmly but with a true and proper 486 sense of humility, which I found very convincing indeed.
§ This particular subsection, which my noble friends and I propose to delete, would extend to all parts of England and Wales the provisions for special hours certificates which at present obtain only in the metropolis. At present those special hours are allowed only up to 2 a.m., but under the provisions of this Bill they will be allowed until 3 a.m. Your Lordships know as well as I do that, in the West End of London, 2 a.m. under the present Act has meant just nothing at all. If the clubs or establishments have wanted to carry on until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning they have done so, and the police have been virtually—not utterly, but virtually—powerless to prevent them, such is the difficulty of getting evidence and, when that evidence is obtained, such is the difficulty of getting a conviction, and also the sheer impossibility when a conviction has been obtained of effectually closing down the premises or putting a stop to offence. It is that kind of thing which it is now proposed shall be extended over the whole of the country, and I wonder what case the Government is going to put up for it. Will they tell us what is the demand? Has there been this tremendous enthusiasm all over the country for licences to extend hours in licensed restaurants and clubs to 3 o'clock in the morning? I just do not believe it.
§ I have no great experience of night life, either in London or in the Provinces, but it does so happen that next month, towards the end of August, I am going to Manchester which, as the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, will know, is one of the largest provincial towns; therefore, if there is a night life in the very early hours of the morning in the Provinces, one would expect it to be in Manchester. I am going there for the purpose of attending a very large exhibition, which is being held at Belle Vue, Manchester, and at the City Hall, and during the 487 week there is going to be a dinner for the exhibitors and others. I saw the card this morning and it is marked "Men only", and I noticed that there is to be a cabaret and we shall be entertained by Mr. Tommy Trinder. It is going to be an absolute whale of an evening, and it is for men only. But I also notice that it ends at 1 a.m., which means that the function will be ended and the drinks will be ended at 1 o'clock in the morning, although it is a special function, and presumably everybody will be safely tucked up in his bed long before 2 o'clock. That is, I would submit, a fair sample of the demand and the night life in one of the largest provincial cities in the country, which now, presumably, if this subsection is left in the Bill, is to have the opportunity of extending hours until 3 o'clock in the morning.
§ I used to live, and I wish I lived there now, in a lovely West Country town, Taunton, which has 30,000-odd people. Anyone who has ever lived in the West Country loves it and knows it. I am thinking that it is not only Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and all those places where this can happen, but in my Taunton somebody can open a place like this. Well, anybody who goes through the streets there at half past ten at night, winter and summer, knows that there is not a soul about except the policeman. We are told nevertheless that they want a night life and to stay up to three o'clock in the morning. There is absolutely no demand whatever, except that when the facilities are there there will be people who will come forward and endeavour to use and exploit those facilities and create a demand. Presumbably it will be supported by a lot of undesirables, and perhaps young people will be induced to stay up until three o'clock in the morning drinking at these places, with disastrous results of all kinds.
§ Is it suggested that this is necessary outside London in order that we should earn a lot more dollars or foreign currency from the tourists who demand this kind of thing? The tourists who come to this country, having seen London and having perhaps sipped its night life, go into the provinces; they go to look at the real England or the real Wales and 488 Scotland, at our ancient history, our ancient buildings, our lovely countryside, and in the main they would be astonished and horrified if, as it were, having visited Stratford-on-Avon, Anne Hathaway's cottage and perhaps attended a play at the Memorial Theatre, they were then asked, "Would you like to come and see the Stratford-on-Avon red light district and sit up until the early hours of the morning?" It really is absolute nonsense.
§ There is another aspect of this, quite apart from the fact that there is no demand at all. When this 2 a.m. special hour was introduced it was at the time when my right honourable friend Mr. Chuter Ede was Home Secretary, and it is thought that at that time he largely introduced this extension because of the difficulties which the police had in policing the illegalities which were going on. It was thought, vainly of course, that if it became legal through extended hours certificates to stay open and serve drinks until two o'clock the police would not have the trouble and would not be subject to the temptations they were otherwise subject to. We all know that was vain. When it is legal to stay open and serve drinks until two o'clock, then a number of unscrupulous people will find that if they can go on into illegal hours, instead of charging £2 for a bottle of champagne they can charge £5 and make a great deal more money out of it. Is it suggested that that is the kind of thing that is wanted in the provinces? I do not think so.
§ There is also this. Our provincial towns, large and small, are not used and accustomed to a night life which extends to the early hours of the morning. Mostly the inhabitants are busy work-a-day people with their lives centred in the factories and shops. They have to get up in the morning to go to work, whether they are workpeople or executives. To have places of this kind, with cars arriving and roaring away and all kinds of disturbance, cannot do any good at all and will only cause endless annoyance and disturbance. There is the point, too, that if young people go to these places and stay up drinking until the early hours of the morning it may lead to additional accidents and many other kinds of trouble. I think we all agree that the case Q have stated is an accurate one and I think it is incumbent on the Government, if they are not prepared to accept 489 this Amendment, to show, first of all, because it is most important, what evidence there is from the licensed trade or the clubs or intending proprietors or restaurants for a demand for extended hours in this way until three o'clock in the morning—and if there is no such demand then surely there is no reason for making this concession—and secondly, whether the police and local authorities in the Provinces and in large towns have been consulted as to the possible effects of this extension in their areas. Unless the Government are prepared to give a satisfactory answer on those two points, they should accept this Amendment. I beg to move.
Page 17, line 25, leave out subsection (1).— (Lord Stonham.)
§ LORD OGMORE
I should like to say a word in support of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, but from a rather different point of view. I agree with what he said; I think it is sound. But to my mind there is another reason which I think the Government should take into account, and I hope they will do so before the noble Earl replies. I refer to the impact that this Bill and the proposals in it will make upon the country as a whole. On Saturday last the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke at a Conservative Meeting at Hawarden Castle in Flintshire, the home of Mr. Gladstone, who would not have approved of many of the measures in this Bill. I say nothing about the fact that Mr. Selwyn Lloyd was prevented, because of traffic congestion, from arriving by car and had to start to walk. That is some indication of the failure of the Government's road transport policy. He had to "thumb" a lift on a motor cycle, and arrived about fifteen minutes late. I say nothing about that, although in certain circumstances it might call for comment if this were a different debate.
But when Mr. Lloyd got to Hawarden Castle he made a statement which has had a serious effect, and has been considered with great seriousness all over the world. I quote from the Sunday Times:He made no secret of his conviction that sacrifices and new disciplines would be needed to meet the economic challenge and that tough measures would have to be taken.… He gave a stern warning intended to brace all 490 sections of the nation for rigorous remedies: 'I am determined that some of the present trends in our economy should be changed. I shall recommend such action as I think necessary to secure this, however unpopular or unexpected. I am not afraid to ask the British people to bear the necessary burdens or accept the necessary disciplines designed to secure, not just survival, but also the maintenance of our position as an up-to-date progressive, dynamic influence in the world'.After Mr. Lloyd made that serious statement of our position in the world to-day and the situation in which we find ourselves, the Government propose that, throughout England and Wales, premises of this sort shall be able to have an extension from 2 in the morning, which I should have thought quite late enough, to 3 o'clock.
§ LORD OGMORE
In London. I should have thought that this in itself was a complete refutation of all that Mr. Lloyd said. The Government cannot have it both ways. Either we are in a very serious economic situation and we need rigorous discipline and must forgo the sort of laxities provided in this Bill (as they may be in certain circumstances), or we are not. They cannot have it both ways; the Government cannot have their cake and eat it. I certainly think that to bring forward a measure of this kind only 48 hours after the speech of Mr. Selwyn Lloyd will not impress the public at all.
It seems to me that the difficulty in our economic situation to-day is to get people to realise that there is a serious economic crisis looming ahead in the near future. In these days, it is most difficult to persuade people of that fact. They just do not understand. I think the Government ought to do nothing which in any way obscures that issue, because unless we can persuade people to understand the dangerous economic situation this country is in the Government are going to find it very difficult to get us out of it.
We have been hearing something about the Continental Sunday and the Continental way of life. I would point out that in France General de Gaulle has had to take very severe measures with regard to drinking and the opening for long hours of licensed premises, clubs 491 and other establishments. He has been trying to close them down. So little is General de Gaulle enamoured of the Continental way of life that the noble Lord opposite has been extolling that he has been trying to revert to the British way of life. So we have the absurd position that here on this side of the Channel we are trying to go over to the French way of life, and 23 miles away across the Channel, in France, they are trying to go over to the British way of life. Of the two, I would back General de Gaulle. I think he is perfectly right. He has seen what these extended hours of drinking in clubs, restaurants, and so on, mean. I believe that the limits that are already in operation are correct and that no extension whatsoever is called for.
§ 9.7 p.m.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, moved one Amendment but really spoke on the three Amendments which are down in the name of his noble Leader.
§ LORD STONHAM
If I may interrupt the noble Earl, I certainly did not intend to. I did not say a word about Good Friday, Christmas Eve or Sundays: and I certainly intend, with your Lordships' permission, to move the next Amendment separately.
I quite understand the noble Lord. I was going to ask him whether he would wish that, or whether he would have preferred me to speak on the principle of the three Amendments, which is, of course, this general extension. I quite understand what the noble Lord and his noble Leader mean, and I will keep myself to the Amendment before us on the Paper now, which is with regard to the specialised extension to two o'clock and the extension of drinking-up time to 2.30, which at present exist in London and which, under this Bill, will be allowed in the rest of England and Wales.
The noble Lord said that his Amendment is sponsored by the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches, and I received their letter as did many others of your Lordships. That is a point of view. As I have said to the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, I personally 492 appreciate the point of view which such people express. But, my Lords, there are others in this country, and in the course of our Second Reading debate and the first part of our Committee some days ago I mentioned the ordinary man and the ordinary woman. In the remarks that I shall be making, I shall be having in mind the ordinary men and the ordinary women who wish to take advantage of this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said in the course of his speech that in night clubs and in restaurants which must shut at 2 o'clock at present there is difficulty in the way of the police obtaining evidence in order to bring about a conviction. That is quite true, and that is one of the reasons for this extension, which is now going to cover the rest of England and Wales.
§ LORD STONHAM
May I put a point to the noble Earl? In some six burglaries out of ten the burglars are not caught. Would that be a good reason for giving licence to burglars?
With great respect to the noble Lord, I really do think that that is a very different matter.
People in London, who may be perfectly law-abiding folk normally, may wish to drink a little after two o'clock, but under the present law they are committing a crime. The people in the Provinces, if they are in the right sort of establishment, may drink until 12 o'clock with drinking-up time. We are going to allow those people in the Provinces in England and Wales to drink until 2 o'clock, with drinking-up time until 2.30. The difficulty with proving an offence in the Provinces, but one committed at a more modest hour, is, of course, exactly the same as exists in London.
The noble Lord mentioned his right honourable friend Mr. Chuter Ede and the measure which he brought in to enable establishments to remain open in London until 2 o'clock, with drinking-up time until 2.30. There is no doubt that London's West End night life (if that is what it should be called) is most popular in this country. One has only to see the numbers of people who go into the restaurants and night clubs of the West End, residents of London, visitors from 493 the Provinces, and overseas visitors as well, to realise that. I have heard from many friends on the Continent that the night life as it exists in the West End of London is by far the finest and, if I may say so, also the cleanest, that exists anywhere in the world, and it is the most enjoyable for the ordinary man and woman. That is what will be extended to such places in the Provinces, as I hope I shall show in a moment.
The noble Lord mentioned Manchester. Although I have been past the establishment to which he will be addressing himself shortly, I have not been inside, and I should be interested to hear a report upon the results of his evening. But ever since music and dancing licences have been granted in Manchester, I am quite certain that, whatver the entertainment sought, Manchester is a much brighter, gayer and pleasanter place to live in. I think the same will be true in other big centres, such as in Bristol, from which I do not live so far away, and other places as well.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, addressed himself to the question of economics, and mentioned the statements of my right honourable friend who braved a motor-cycle ride to his meeting All I can say on this point is that it is a delight to know that such members of the public do exist, and that there are such real "good Samaritans", in the old sense of the words, as Mr. Crate with his motor-cycle, who was, in fact, a member of the Socialist Party. I do not know whether this is the right place to thank him publicly, but it is very good to know that such good Samaritans are on the road. And I must say that I have always had a very much higher opinion of men or women who ride motor-cycles than is ordinarily held of them by Members of your Lordships' House and by people in many other places. But that is a long way from what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was saying.
Nevertheless, my right honourable friend will recommend such action as may be needed in the economic spheres—and my noble friend, Lord Dundee, is much nearer to that sort of sphere than I am. But I cannot believe that this Bill, which is a permissive relaxation of licensing laws, which all and sundry will agree are out of date in this country, can make any real impact upon our economic situation. If my right honourable 494 friend takes such measures or action as he may recommend, your Lordships or anybody else will be able to take advantage of these laws. But such is the Parliamentary timetable, and such are the programmes that must be brought about, that this is the time that this promised measure has come to fruition. It will not be the fault of this Bill if more money is spent on alcohol; it will be the effect of actions taken in the course of the next few days.
The noble Viscount also mentioned the Continental Sunday, During my Second Reading speech I said that one of the possibilities open to Her Majesty's Government was to adopt the Continental Sunday in toto, but we did not believe that that was what the ordinary man and woman wanted. It is for that reason this Bill comes before your Lordships with all the safeguards that take up so much space in the Bill.
Clause 8 (1), which the noble Lord's Amendment proposes to delete, extends to England and Wales generally the provisions at present limited to an area in the West End of London, which is specified by the Secretary of State—that is, the area with drinking hours until 2 o'clock in the morning and drinking-up time until 3.20. These are known as "special hours certificates". In the case of licensed premises, the licensing justices must be satisfied, first, that a music and dancing licence is in force for the premises, and secondly that the whole or any part of the premises is structurally adapted and bona fide used, or intended to be used, for the purpose of providing music and dancing and substantial refreshment, to which the sale of intoxicating liquors is ancillary.
In the case of registered clubs, where a music and dancing licence is not required by law, since music and dancing is not public—that is, in the case of the normal night club, so called, in the West End of London—the present law has the effect that the London County Council, as the music and dancing licensing authority for London, must have issued a certificate that they are satisfied that the premises fulfil the Council's requirements for the granting of a music and dancing licence. The stipendiary magistrate must be satisfied that the whole or any part of the premises is so structurally adapted for this purpose—that is, for music and dancing.
495 In extending these provisions to the country generally Clause 8 (1) and the Third Schedule have the effect that the control will in every respect be as adequate and strict as it is in the present law as regards London—that is, the law to which the noble Viscount referred, which was introduced by his right honourable friend Mr. Chuter Ede. The proposal to extend these facilities to the country generally will implement the recommendation that has been urged by the British Travel and Holidays Association, among many others, for the benefit of tourists and visitors.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
My Lords, we get this general reference to "many others". Could the noble Earl identify any of these associations? I have never been able to find out what associations have been approached and consulted.
The British Hotels and Restaurants Association is one of them, and no doubt the licensed victuallers and the people who run such establishments. There is no doubt that they are keen to be able to run such establishments, which they have not been able to do in the past.
It has been represented that it will assist the general policy of providing reasonable and attractive facilities for holiday makers, both British and from overseas; and I think that is true. The noble Lord will no doubt have been to coastal holiday resorts where not very much goes on in the way of pleasant entertainment, and certainly on the lines of dancing, eating and drinking, after eleven o'clock in the evening. That is one of the effects of the present situation which we are setting out to remedy.
The existing specialised provisions limited to London were originally introduced in 1949, following representations from all these various associations, boards and so forth, in which the noble Lord is interested. In those days the Government felt that it was right to put forward the present existing laws. The proposal in the Bill will not lead to a proliferation of premises selling drink until 2 o'clock in the morning. There are stringent conditions which have to be satisfied. Moreover, the sale of drink can continue only so long as 496 the music and dancing continues. By no means every hotel, restaurant or registered club, even if it can satisfy the conditions specified in the Bill, will want to provide music and dancing as late as 2 o'clock in the morning. I think that that probably satisfies the case the noble Lord mentioned of his local township at Taunton. On the other hand, I suspect that at Stratford-on-Avon it might be to the great advantage of residents and visitors to be able to go and have a good meal, and to dance and be able to drink under the extended hours. In fact, I can think of no better evening to have, if such a thing were possible; and it will be possible under this Bill. That this is a fairly expensive proposition is not to be doubted, and the provisions are not likely to be used except where there is a real demand for them.
There is the further safeguard that any licensed premises with a specialised certificate will, like all other licensed premises, be open to police inspection; and whereas clubs generally are not open to police inspection, those with a specialised certificate will be. That point will particularly interest the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in connection with a later Amendment in his name. The police will thus have full powers to see that the law is striotly observed, which is not always the case under the present law. Moreover, they are given special power to apply at any time to the magistrates' court for the revocation of the specialised certificate on the ground that this is expedient by reason of the occurrence of disorderly or indecent conduct on the premises.
I have outlined, at some length, I am afraid, the provisions in this Bill to protect the public, and those who wish to take advantage of the Bill when it becomes law, and I think in every way the protection is superior to that which exists at present. I can commend this extension of the hours under the Bill because of the convenience and the entertainment of the ordinary man and woman and visitors to this country. I ask your Lordships not to accept the Amendment.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I must say that I am most disappointed with the reply. I am sure the noble Earl has tried to help up by answering the two Amendments that have not been moved, but he clearly 497 has not done so. We shall have to deal with them when we come to them. But I cannot see any real argument against the present Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Stonham. It is all very well to write off the value of the case which my noble friend Lord Stonham has put in the present economic circumstances. We have been discussing the Finance Rill to-day and talking about the serious economic position which is coming. Your Lordships may remember that I quoted Winston Churchill by saying that the Tories had "an open hand at the Treasury and an open door in the public house." Here is another instance of it. At the very moment When you are talking about putting other restrictions on the people with regard to the economic situation, you are corning along extending the hours of drinking and expending money upon it, at the very time when we want to get the people, you say—and one noble Lord used the word this afternoon from those Benches—"disciplined" in these difficult economic circumstances.
What has happened? What you are doing is to take hold of one concession, which has been made for police purposes mainly in the London area alone, and to extend it to the whole of the country. It must mean an increase in the liquor trade. It must mean more expenditure than would otherwise have been made. It is almost a denial of the very things which we have had pleaded to-day in the general appeal for a get-together of all sections of industry. I think this is a great misnomer, and I am very sorry. As to what we shall do about the further Amendments, I will not say at the moment, but I am bound to say that, if this is not carried to-night, then we shall have to consider its future and the rest of the Bill. We will vote on the next Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM moved to leave out subsection (6). The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment in the name of my noble Leader and my noble friend, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, I should like to tell the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, immediately that I feel there is a distinct difference between this and the previous Amendment. The point is that the subsection as it now stands will make 498 Saturday night like any other weekday night so far as permitted hours are concerned, and that Good Friday and Christmas Day equally will be ordinary weekdays. That means that on Good Friday morning, since the Thursday hours will be ordinary hours, drinking will go on up to 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning in London, and it is exactly the same on Christmas Day.
§ First of all, I should like to say that, from the economic point of view, this is entirely unnecessary. Most people will know that if there is one night in the year when it is inadvisable to hold a function, whether it be a theatre or cinema function or dance, or anything in that line, it is Christmas Eve. If you go to the cinemas and the theatres you will see them virtually empty, because on Christmas Eve, whether it be for secular or other reasons, people are much too busy with their preparations or their business to go to entertainment. To a lesser extent, it is the same on the Thursday before Good Friday.
§ My main objection to the retention of this subsection, certainly in its present form, is that I think it is completely abominable to have Good Friday and Christmas Day regarded as ordinary days so far as licensing hours are concerned. I cannot possibly imagine how your Lordships can accept such a subsection in the Bill. It is said that only one person in about ten goes to church with any kind of regularity, but we are not yet a completely secular nation and a very large number of people do go to service on Good Fridays, certainly at Easter, and a very much larger number of people go to service either on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
§ I suppose that most of us have been to midnight Mass or midnight Communion on Christmas Eve. I was at one time church warden of a church which held about 1,400 people, and that church was always full at midnight Communion on Christmas Eve and it was a very distressing thing to find that some people, mostly young people, who had never been to church before, or at least not for a very long time, would come into church the worse for drink. It would be the last thing that a church warden would want to do to deny anyone the right to take Communion, but one would expect people to go to Communion in a fitting manner. That was 499 my difficult task sometimes, and I suppose it is for every church warden at Christmas, but I wish it were not so. That, presumably, is when people can get drink in public houses only up to say 11 o'clock at night. It is now proposed that Christmas Day should be an ordinary day and that they should get drink up to 2 o'clock in the morning. Good Friday is supposed to be exactly the same.
§ On Wednesday evening last week I had a rather extraordinary experience. I am president of a society which is raising, or trying to raise, a lot of money to plant trees in Israel—I am the only non-Jew—and I took the chair at the meeting last Wednesday evening quite late. We were discussing functions to raise money. It was suggested that a function should be held on a Thursday evening, to which there was strong objection from the ladies present, and when I asked why they said it would not give sufficient time to prepare for the Sabbath, which they call the Shabbath, which is a Saturday and is prepared for on Friday evening. They would not go to a cinema or theatre on a Thursday evening because they would not have time to prepare for the Sabbath 24 hours later. It seems an extraordinary thing that here we are proposing that Christmas Day and Good Friday should be regarded as ordinary weekdays. I just cannot believe that there has been any demand for that and I cannot understand why those two days out of 365, as it were, have been gratuitously included in this clause. I do not believe that the licensed trade has asked for this. I cannot think that the club proprietors or licensed restaurants want it.
§ I ask your Lordships to support us in this Amendment if the Government are not prepared to accept it, as I hope they will be. In any case, if this Amendment is not accepted we will certainly at a later stage introduce another Amendment to remove the words "Christmas Day" and "Good Friday" from this subsection. I beg to move.
Page 18, line 39, leave out subsection (6).—(Lord Stonham.)
I know what feelings the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, 500 has with regard to Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day, and I appreciate his feelings, and those of probably many other Members of your Lordships' House, as well as of others in the country who feel the same. This clause of the Bill will not compel people to go to an establishment of entertainment: it is only permissive. I do not say that two wrongs make a right. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government believe and are told that there is a demand for entertainment on these nights. I personally can see no great reason why people who wish to avail themselves of the relaxation of the law that the Bill will give should not take advantage of it.
With regard to Good Friday and Christmas Day, we are not by the Bill extending the law. The words used in the 1953 consolidation Act cast doubt on what was allowed and what was not. The clause therefore clarifies the position as it was in 1945. There is, however, an extension on Sunday morning. That was why I hoped that it would be to the convenience of your Lordships to cover the three Amendments. In my earlier long speech, I made the case for this relaxation in the licensing hours and the extensions which the Bill will give. Sunday morning is one of them. It is a modest extension. It will not do great damage to the ordinary man and woman, and it is, without doubt, an extension that is wanted by ordinary people when one considers that Saturday night is the night that people like to go out and to enjoy themselves.
The noble Lord says, "Not Sunday morning"; but a Saturday night stops at twelve o'clock. Night life in the West End is dead and nothing happens after twelve o'clock in a reputable and a well-run establishment. In fact, when such establishments should be giving a night out, with entertainment, to decent, ordinary men and women—and it is to them that I am referring throughout—they are not able to do so. There is no doubt, I am certain, that there will be a demand for this extension. In view of what I have said to the noble Lord's first Amendment, I ask your Lordships also to reject this Amendment that the noble Lord has moved with regard to Sunday mornings.
§ 9.39 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL
My Lords, I had no intention of speaking on this clause, but I feel impelled to do so and to say that I shall support the Amendment. Some of us feel concerned, and much more particularly for the young people. In the past, there has been a movement away from the observance of Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas, but I believe that there are signs, especially among the young people, of a desire to return to observance of those great days of our religion and of an acknowledgment that a great deal of trouble in this country is due to the ignoring of our faith and the observance of those holy days of our faith.
Our young people, particularly, are finding it difficult now to get to church on Sunday morning for their Holy Communion because the tendency has been to stay out late on Saturday night. That is when it is only twelve o'clock. If by law we are going to make it possible, and give them the temptation, to stay up until later hours, we shall be doing a great disservice to religion in this country, and to the observance of the days which we long to see observed much more fully than they have been in the past.
I do not know what are the conditions in London—I have not lived in London for many years—but I know that in Merseyside there would be no real demand for an extension of these hours to the times that have been mentioned of two or three in the morning. Nor do I think there is any desire for them by those in authority. The Chief Constable, I believe, would bear me out when I say that I do not think we want this sort of thing. Our greatest trouble to-day is of young people taking too much alcoholic liquor. That is one of our biggest problems, and anything we can do to help them at this time will be a service not only to them but to our country. I shall support the Amendment.
§ LORD OGMORE
I, too, should like to support the Amendment, because I feel that it is quite wrong to do what the Government proposes in this respect, and the right reverend Prelate has added the weight of his testimony to this point of view. It seems to me that either 502 we are a Christian country or we are not. The Dean of Westminster the other night called this the "post-Christian era," and certainly if this clause goes through he will have every justification for calling it that.
To my mind, one of the greatest drawbacks to our influence throughout the world, particularly in the Far East and in Africa, has been the fact that we Christians do not stand up for our religion and are not prepared to make sacrifices for it. Here in London, in the heart of a so-called Christian country, it proposed to apply this rule that on a Sunday morning this licence shall be obtainable, and dancing and music will go on until the small hours of Sunday. And I am horrified to find that the same sort of provisions are to be applied to Christmas Day and to Good Friday, the two most serious days, the most religious days, shall we say, in the Christian Calendar. You cannot go to a Mohammedan country and do any of these things on a Mohammedan Friday, and one of the many things that I admire about the Jews is that an Orthodox Jew complies strictly with the rules of his religion on his Sabbath.
The noble Earl talked about the ordinary man and the ordinary woman, and what they want in the modern Babylon of London. If what we see in the West End is what the ordinary man and woman want, then I am very sorry for the ordinary man and the ordinary woman. But I do not regard this laxity in this country, particularly on a Sunday, and on Christmas Day and Good Friday, as being other than a deplorable thing. I have no doubt that the noble Lord will describe us Free Churchmen, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough and myself, as Puritans, kill-joys and all the rest of it, as your ancestors have described our ancestors for the last three hundred years; but it is only comparatively recently that there has been this laxity. There was no laxity on the Continent until the French Revolution. They would not do these things on a Sunday until the French Revolution came along. So that, in fact, if you go back through traditions and through history you will find all the way through, as far back as we have been Christians, that Christians have observed Sundays; that they have 503 observed Christmas Day, and that they have observed Good Friday.
Why Should we, in a Christian country, make special provisions against our religion for atheists?—because that is what we are asked to do. The noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, seems to assume that the ordinary man and the ordinary woman, is an atheist or, at any rate, an agnostic. Why should we be asked to do that? This is a Christian country, and one of the precepts of the Christian religion, surely, is the observance of Sunday, the seventh day of the week, the day for recreation which means spiritual recreation.
When I was a boy my father and grandfather would never in their lives, in the pre-motor car days, have taken a horse out on a Sunday, except in the direst necessity of illness or something of that kind; and the same thing applied after the motor cars came. In fact, I, today, do not like to take a motor car out on a Sunday unless I am bound to do so. I think if there were more of that spirit of observance of Sunday, Christmas Day and Good Friday it would be better for the country, because it is not the people who observe the laws who are the peril in this country to-day; it is those who are undisciplined, as Mr. Selwyn Lloyd has pointed out. His appeal at Harwarden was not to have more clubs open, to spend more; it was a call for discipline, and I am glad to see Mr. Selwyn Lloyd has gone back to the Liberal views he held when he was a Liberal candidate, and is tending to bring in a Liberal point of view. I am sure the country will be all the better. I hope your Lordships will in fact sup, port this Amendment and I, for one, will be very glad to go into the Lobby with my noble friend.
I must say I do feel a little disturbed about this question of Christmas Day and Good Friday. I fully understand that people who are working all through the week may wish on a normal Saturday throughout the year to have an extension. I would accept that fully. But with regard to Christmas Day and Good Friday I cannot help feeling that those are two very special days. We think of them as such special days that we wish to differentiate them from the remainder of the days in 504 the year. I would ask my noble friend Lord Bathurst if Her Majesty's Government could look at this again and take out Christmas Day and Good Friday. Otherwise I feel that my conscience must tell me that I must go into the Lobby for this Amendment.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
Had the previous Amendment been put to a Division I would have had no hesitation in recording my vote with the Government, but if this Amendment is pressed I shall support it. Christmas is a holy day, and there are, as the right reverend Prelate has said, all too few people in church on Good Friday and Christmas Day. I am glad to say that my local church is rather an exception here, for the Midnight Communion it is always packed to capacity. Many of the congregation are young people, chiefly because there is a very thriving group"17 plus" it is called—of young church workers.
I 'believe that normally youngsters outside London should be allowed to go to restaurants and hotels where there is dancing, provided it is under proper control, until late hours. After all, young people (and not all of them live in London) may wish to celebrate their engagement or some special occasion, and there is no reason why they should not do so in a properly supervised place. But I feel that Good Friday and Christmas Day should be exceptions. The place to be on Christmas Eve is in the home, helping with Christmas preparations, and there are those who go to church on Christmas morning, and the same on Good Friday. I join with my noble friend Lord Grenfell in imploring Her Majesty's Government to reconsider this proposal.
§ 9.50 p.m.
THE EARL OF NORTHESK
May I take an intermediate view between my noble friends Lord Grenfell and Lord Auckland? I agree that Good Friday is a day of great religious significance, but I would suggest to the right reverend Prelate, who has spoken so well, that Christmas Day is a day of rejoicing to us all. It is the Birth of Our Lord. Ought we not to be able to celebrate that in whatever way we wish? I am not suggesting alcoholically, but that is rather the temper of this Bill. I suggest that Christmas Day is a day of rejoicing, as also is Easter—the Resurrection. But I 505 agree with my two noble friends that Good Friday might be excluded from the Bill, whereas Easter and Christmas might be included in it. I feel that would meet the feelings, certainly of myself and of the majority of the people of this country.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
Just a couple of sentences. I do not know whether the noble Earl will accept the Amendment. If he is agreeable, I need say nothing. He does not look like accepting the Amendment at the moment. I would say, first of all, that the later the hour of closing the greater the danger to life and limb and morals.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
I was not referring to the noble Earl. I will repeat what I have just said, because it needs to be repeated—the later the hour of closing the greater the danger to life and limb and morals. That is one reason why I am for this Amendment.
The other reason is the one emphasised by a number of noble Lords. In some parts of the world, especially in the Far East, we are looked upon as a Christian country. I cannot think of anything that would impress them more than the Government's acceptance of this Amendment. I am most anxious that the noble Earl should not reject it out of hand to-night. I should like him to think about it. I realise that neither he nor the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, can perhaps go so far as to accept it, but I should like them to promise the Committee that they will be prepared to reconsider it between now and Report. It is, in my opinion, a vital Amendment.
§ LORD STONHAM
I do not know whether the noble Earl is going to reply to the invitation. I should be very glad if he would. But I think I should make it quite clear that just an undertaking to look at this again, or to refer it to
§ his right honourable friend, would not be quite good enough in this instance. We should require at least an assurance that he is prepared to move an Amendment on Report stage which would exclude from this clause Good Friday and Christmas Day. I thought I would make that clear so as to avoid any misunderstanding; otherwise, we shall have to divide on this Amendment.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
May I say that since nobody appears to support the Government, I support them wholeheartedly in this case. I hope that they will not give way. As probably many noble Lords know, we in Scotland do not celebrate Christmas Day. I do not think we are any the worse for it. With the possible exception of Good Friday, I think this Amendment is completely without support in any part of the country. I hope that the Government will stick to their guns.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I should have thought that, in general, we are already sufficiently handicapped in this country from having longer hours of opening, all the week pretty well, and certainly very much less favourable Sunday opening regulations than apply in Scotland. There is not such wide publicity in Scotland for the sale of drink as there is in this country—not by any means. I should have thought that the noble Duke would have been much more inclined to support the Christian faith of his own family, and to see that these days are properly observed in this country even if not in Scotland. I hope that the noble Earl will be able to tell us that he is going to accept this Amendment. If not, the only thing to do is to go to a Division. Then he can think about it again, and we will put it down again on Report.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 15; Not-Contents, 26.507
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Colwyn, L.||Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Fortescue, E.||Merthyr, L.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Grenfell, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Boston, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Stonham, L. [Teller.]|
|Burden. L. [Teller.]||Liverpool, L. Bp,||Strang, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Davidson, V.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Denham, L.||Newall, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Digby, L.||Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Bathurst, E.||Dundee, E.||Northesk, E.|
|Brecon, L.||Fraser of North Cape, L.||St. Oswald, L. [Teller.]|
|Bridgeman, V.||Goschen, V.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Hastings, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Lansdowne, M.||Waleran, L.|
|Craigton, L.||Merrivale, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH had given Notice of his intention to move to leave out subsection (7). The noble Viscount said: Amendment No. 18 is, of course, of less importance than No. 17, but it deals with a principle on which the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches are very much concerned. We are leaving it to a very late hour in London. I do not propose to move the Amendment now, but I am going to ask the noble Earl if he will tell me whether this might be considered. The Government have their main clause for 2 a.m. in the Provinces. I can see no case for including this subsection, but if we cannot get agreement on it we will leave it to Report.
§ EARL BATHURST moved in subsection (8) after "any" to insert "licensed". The noble Earl said: This Amendment is a technical Amendment. The effect of subsection (8) of Clause 8 is to free premises where a special hours certificate is in force from the application of the Sunday Observance Act, 1780, as regards the hours on a Sunday morning during which the certificate operates. This is necessary because the Act forbids on a Sunday any public entertainment for which a charge is made for admission. If subsection (8) of Clause 8 had not been inserted into the Bill, then no public music or dancing could take place after 12 o'clock on a Saturday night, and a special hours certificate of extension of the permitted hours would therefore be useless on a Saturday night. The 1780 Act forbids only public entertainment, and since it does not prohibit private entertainment, or entertainment provided for members in a club in a private sense, it is unnecessary for subsection (8) of Clause 8 to apply to anything other than licensed premises. I beg to move.508
Page 19, line 12, at end insert "licensed".—(Earl Bathurst.)
Page 19, line 13, after ("of") insert ("licensed").—(Earl Bathurst.)
§ Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I should like to know at this hour what the intention of the Government is with regard to Business. I think it is about time we moved to adjourn.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I have just been informed through the usual channels that it has been agreed to go as far as Amendment No. 24.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Then I am afraid that I have been misinformed, Would the noble Viscount like to take Number 22? The pubs do not shut until 10.30.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I do not know how far this clause is going to commit me, because I have not had all the advice I want on it. I will not go to Clause 15. I have been in this House since half past two, except for 40 minutes, and I am not going on much longer. We are not paid for it.
§ LORD OGMORE
I should like to support what the noble Viscount has said. We were told that we would stop at 10 o'clock and, frankly, I think that is quite late enough. We have our livings to earn. It is somebody's fault, 509 although I do not know whose, but the fact is that this Bill comes on only at late stages in our Business and I do not think is fair to ask us to sit after this hour. We have a lot of Bills to deal with to-morrow and I think that we ought to adjourn.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
In the circumstances. I would not dream of asking your Lordships to sit any later. It appears that I have been misinformed. I was told that it was agreed that we should go to Amendment No. 24. But 510 since the noble Viscount does not want to move Amendment No. 22—there is still twenty minutes before closing time—I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved, That the House do now resume.—(The Earl of Dundee.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to and House resumed accordingly.
§ House adjourned at eight minutes past ten o'clock.