HL Deb 26 July 1961 vol 233 cc1017-36

3.7 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, before I move the Third Reading I would suggest that your Lordships might find it convenient to take the Third Reading formally. We can then discuss the Amendments, and any discussion on the Bill generally can take place on the Motion, That the Bill do now pass. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a. —(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

Clause 8:

Special hours certificates for premises providing music and dancing

(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 "week-day" shall include, and be deemed always to have included, Christmas Day, when not a Sunday; but nothing in that section shall affect the permitted hours on Good Friday or shall extend beyond midnight the permitted hours on Maundy Thursday or Easter Eve.

LORD STONHAM moved, in subsection (6), to leave out "or Easter" and insert "Easter Eve or Christmas". The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends and myself, I beg to move the Amendment standing on the Paper, which has the purpose of adding Christmas Eve to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve (as decided yesterday in Committee) as days on which licensees may not apply for extended hours facilities. Your Lordships will recall that my noble friends and I yesterday had on the Paper an Amendment which asked your Lordships to agree that Good Friday and Christmas Day were not and should never be deemed to be week-days.

Noble Lords pointed out, I think quite rightly, that Christmas Day itself is for most of us a day when, after those who wish to go to church have attended service, a very happy day, a festive day. It is not one on which people who at the end of the day, or in the small hours of the next day, wish to go to outside parties should be prevented from doing so. I think the case was made, and you will see that in the Amendment which I am now asking your Lordships to support we are talking about Christmas Eve. We are asking you to say not only that it should not be possible on Christmas Eve to apply for special hours facilities to extend into the small hours of Christmas morning—until 3 a.m. in London, and 2 a.m. in the provinces—but that the facilities which exist at present for extended hours until 1 a.m. shall no longer apply. That would be the effect of the two Amendments on the Paper, if they were accepted.

I think it will help to explain the point of view which I hold on this matter if I make mention of some of the observations which fell from the learned and noble Viscount the Lord Chancellor yesterday. He made clear that there was no wish to offend those who hold extremely religious beliefs. I personally have never regarded myself as an extremely religious person, any more than, until yesterday, I thought I possessed the diabolical ingenuity which the noble and learned Viscount bestowed upon me. I am very much a middle-of-the-road person in most ways. But I must say that, even so, I hold strong views about this particular point of Christmas Eve. I would submit that no one who has in any way been connected in a lay capacity with the Church, as churchwarden, as I have been, could possibly feel otherwise than that it is an extremely and supremely important point of time. I think that represents the views of ordinary people.

Recently I went to a luncheon of the "Saints and Sinners" Club, where they offer you either a white or red carnation when you go in. I had no hesitation in choosing a red carnation, thereby branding myself a "Sinner". Nevertheless, I hold strong views about this matter. I say that because the Lord Chancellor expressed the view that the proposal for the extension of hours on Christmas Eve reflects a large section of modern opinion. I believe that the greater section of modern opinion is in favour of this Amendment. I do not think that any large section of the public goes to outside public functions or parties on Christmas Eve until the small hours. It is the period when perhaps a greater number of people than at almost any other time go to church, and a vastly greater number than that, mothers and fathers, are making the last preparations, mostly at home, for Christmas.

I do not accept that there is a large section of modern opinion which is in favour of this proposal of extension, and I do not think that we should really inconvenience a large number if they had to have the last dance at midnight instead of at three o'clock, on this particular occasion, on this one night of the year. The Lord Chancellor said that the Government have to consider the general happiness sand comfort of the people of the country. Of course that is right. That is precisely what we ask for in this Amendment, because I think that the happiness and comfort of by far the greater volume of people in the country will be added to if this Amendment is accepted. I would say that on this particular night only a small minority may wish to stay up drinking until two or three in the morning and to dance.

To my mind, there is some deeper reason why this Amendment should be accepted. It may be regarded as a comparatively unimportant matter, but I do not agree: I think it is a most important matter. I think there are some things upon which we have to make a stand. I should like to tell the Lord Chancellor why that is. He knows that I have a considerable amount to do with hundreds and hundreds of the present teenage generation, and I know something of their reactions. He said yesterday that young people of the present generation are not bad people; they are certainly no worse than earlier generations. I entirely agree. It is my considered opinion that most young people to-day are not bad; they are virtually unconscious. That is my considered opinion. They are not conscious of the real things in the world because, in this affluent society, they are apparently able to concentrate upon and to hypnotise themselves with, a small number of things which, in the long run, I think are not very important.

I ventured the opinion yesterday that there is not a single man, woman or child in this country who does not know that Christmas is the anniversary of the Birth of Christ. A noble friend told me last night that I was quite wrong. He told me of two girls who were looking at Christmas cards, some of which had religious verses or attributes, and one said to the other "I think this is disgraceful. Fancy bringing religion into Christmas". When something like that can be said, then I think it is about time we began to do something. It is my experience that when quite tough young people are given interests and responsibilities—are given, as it were, a framework within which to work—they use them very well indeed. But I think that we have the responsibility of saying what we think is right and the kind of objectives which should be aimed at. We have the responsibility of trying to set standards in our legislation without being bigoted, without being stupidly censorious. If we consider matters to be of great importance, we should stand up and say so, and stick to them. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships will regard this Amendment as important, and that you will feel that we ought to add Christmas Eve to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve, which we are most grateful to the Government for adding to the Bill yesterday. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 21, leave out ("or Easter") and insert ("Easter Eve or Christmas").—(Lord Stonham.0)


My Lords, I should like to express my great gratitude to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, for putting down this Amendment and to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham for moving it so convincingly. In my opinion, it would be of great help to the family life, as well as to the specifically religious life, of this country if such an Amendment could be accepted. Christmas has come to mean for everybody a family feast, and I am quite sure that it will be an altogether more enjoyable and more perfect family feast if it is not, for some members of the family, "the morning after the night before". In days when people had to work very hard indeed, and when there were fewer opportunities for recreation than there are to-day, no one would have wished to deprive anyone of the opportunity of a refreshing party. But in these days, when opportunities for recreation and enjoyment are much more usual, we may well consider whether this Amendment would not be in accordance with modern spirit and, above all, calculated to promote the welfare of the family. So, while expressing my deep gratitude for the concessions that have already been made on the Report stage of this Bill, I would express the hope that this, too, may be conceded.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, while I totally agree with the Amendment of the noble Lord opposite, to consider that we should never have had Good Friday and Easter without Christmas? I cannot see, having got gracious permission to exclude the two former days, why you do not exclude Christmas, because neither of them could occur without the birth of Our Lord. May I say, with great respect, that I am fully aware of the gracious consideration that has been accorded to us already in our pleas. But are we not giving way the whole time to this eternal attitude towards the youth of to-day: they must have fun; they must be allowed to dance; and if it is a weekend of holiday, why should they not be allowed to dance on Friday or Saturday, whichever day Christmas or Christmas Eve falls upon?

We are all the time contending that the huge majority of young people must be kept going and must be kept gay. If we call ourselves a religious, Christian country—I begin To doubt very much Whether we are—4t is time to stand up for Christian principles and the faith we believe in, and to show these young people that we stand for certain principles in our faith. I cannot believe that in the end we should not have more power among them if they knew we stood for certain spiritual things, While Their dancing and dashing about and hours of pleasure can be had on most of the days of the rest of the year.

3.22 p.m.


My Lords, I know that your Lordships do not wish to have further repetition of the speeches that were made yester- day. I would add my own gratitude to the Government for extending the Amendment to include Easter Eve. It is a great encouragement to those who pleaded for it. But what is the real logical reason for attempting to exclude Christmas When the two other days have been agreed upon? There is certainly no theological distinction between them, as was pointed out by the noble Lady; they hang together. If it is argued that Christmastime is a time of greater natural rejoicing, none of us would wish to interfere With the normal and legitimate observance in that way. If the purpose of excluding from the extension of hours any of these days is because of their religious significance, then I would ask, what reason is there for excluding them in two cases and not in the other? I do not believe there would be any sort of hardship if Christmas were included in the Amendment. And, on the other hand, it would be a great relief to a great many people, and would provide some protection against an unnecessary extension of work for others.


My Lords, I should like to make two points. First, I should like 'to thank the noble and learned Viscount for acceding to the request made by many of us in all parts of the House. Secondly, I should like to support the pleas made to include Christmas Eve. I entirely agree with the noble Lady land with the right reverend Prelate. If you exclude some of the Holy Days from the extension of hours, you should exclude all. I believe that there is so much sanctity in these days that even at this very late stage I would ask the noble and learned Viscount whether he would reconsider the matter.

3.25 p.m.


My Lords, I think your Lordships will agree that in dealing with this question I have not adopted a standfast position in regard to the present law. I have tried to reap the feeling of the House, and the only reason why I feel difficulty in meeting it with regard to this matter is because of what I said and what has been quoted to-day. Members of a Government must consider the whole range and not take a special point of view. What your Lordships must realise, if you accede to this Amendment, is that you are changing the law in the direction of restriction from what it is at the present time.

I hope your Lordships will bear with me if I just remind you of the history of this matter. In the Act which was produced by the Labour Government in 1949, when the special hours certificate was introduced in broadly its present form, the Labour Government made it clear that this applied to Christmas Day when not a Sunday and also to Good Friday, which I have already conceded should be omitted. I view with veneration the figures of those who were opposite me in 1949: the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. That is a very strong covey of politicians who all acceded to this in 1949. That was the position, as I said, when a slight difficulty arose from the consultation, and that was the only reason why this provision appeared in this Act in a form which has slightly worried your Lordships.

But, my Lords, the purpose of the present clause in the Bill is to preserve the 1949 position. There is no intention to change the law, and the Bill is not introducing something which even those who feel this way should find offensive. In addition, as I have told your Lordships (and I know your Lordships will forgive me for repeating it), it is the London County Council who deal with the music, singing and dancing licence, and they have since 1949 granted the licences for a short extension on Christmas night. Moreover, it is the Commissioner of Police who deals in London with the question of special extensions, subject to the approval of the Home Secretary, who also has allowed it since that date—and that covers a period with Home Secretaries of both Parties including, I must admit, myself.

There undoubtedly was an almost unanimous opinion in your Lordships' House in Committee that Good Friday should be omitted. That, I accepted at once and put down an Amendment. Yesterday I went further and, for the first time, here I changed the law because I was so struck by the feeling and the expression of opinion with regard to the Saturday before Easter Sunday, and I agreed to that at once and put down an Amendment which has now passed into law. Therefore, I ask you only to consider with reasonable sympathy the point of view which I put to your Lordships with regard to Christmas Day, because it comes from one who has shown himself ready to meet the different points of view. One can hold only one's own point of view, and mine is that there is a very great difference between the Holy Day of Christmastime and Good Friday. I said yesterday that Good Friday must be to all thinking persons a time of sorrow. On the other hand, I believe that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are recurring periods of great joy. My Lords, I quite agree that it is a reverent joy, but it is for everyone, children and grown-ups, a period of joy.

Now I ask those of your Lordships who are younger than I am—and, although no one would believe it to look at him, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is only three years my junior—to consider the position. There are some who are fortunate enough to be able to go to their home, to the home of their parents or to the home of their grandparents, and who would still have enough room for a family party—and we all agree there is nothing better than that. But there is bound to be an enormous number of people who cannot do that—young married people who live in small flats, where a party cannot be given. Furthermore, in the great cities there is bound to be a very large number of people who live in lodgings and "digs" of all sorts who are quite hard up but who have still a few pounds for a party on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and who go to a restaurant or an equivalent place in order to have that party. Now I cannot find it in my heart to blame people who are in that position and who want to enjoy it in that way.

As I said yesterday, I do not believe—and here again I must ask your Lordships to cast your minds back 30 or 40 years—that because you have had a party the night before you cannot have the energy to wake up and go to church on Christmas Day morning. I do not think that at all. I ask your Lordships to say that these are people that we ought to think about; and the fact that they have had a party on Christmas Eve will not, in my view, detract in any way from their feeling on Christmas morning, recognising the solemn side of the Christmas festival.

I put all this to your Lordships yesterday, and your Lordships would rightly feel extremely bored with me if I went in for useless repetition, but I do say to my noble friend Baroness Ravensdale of Kedleston that this is not a question of giving way. This is a question of adding a further concession which has not existed over the years. As I said, the last thing I want to suggest to your Lordships is any spirit of bargaining; it would be foreign to the subject which we are considering. I do not put it in that way; but I do think that your Lordships, as the higher House of Parliament, ought to look at the people of this country as a whole. Having secured, as to two important occasions, very considerable recognition of one paint of view, your Lordships ought not to press too severely a view which, I believe, would not only restrict the present law but would deal hardly with the young and happy, who must also be within your Lordships' consideration.

I would therefore urge noble Lords not to press this Amendment, but to accept the truce which we arrived at yesterday—and I hope noble Lords will not misunderstand me. The noble Viscount is perfectly entitled to raise this point, but I have the feeling—and, after all, I have had the honour to preside over your Lordships' House for seven years—that what we arrived at yesterday was generally acceptable to your Lordships, and I suggest to my noble friend that we leave it there and do not press it further to-day.

3.36 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we are greatly obliged to the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack for the consideration he has given to this matter. I think he is quite legitimately exercising his proper function when he points out how much he has conceded already in this direction. While, of course, he can point to the Act of 1949, when a political nostalgia favours the Government on this occasion, there is also a growing feeling in the country that drunkenness has been increasing; and that, perhaps, may be taken as permitting a modification, if not a violent change, of views of Governments during the course of ten or twelve years. As to the joyful nature of Christmas, we are all agreed. As to the pre-eminently family nature of Christmas, we are also all agreed, although Christmas Day is not pre-eminently a day of joy among other Holy Days. In fact, we also sing songs of great joy about Easter morning; so what applies to Christmas Day in this matter applies equally to Easter.

However, I feel—and I hope my noble friend who has moved this Amendment will agree—that we have really ventilated the matter as far as we can, if only to explain our position. Of course, all denominations have a common view on temperance: they have a united view on temperance. Upon the Sacraments of the Church we have different practices; but when, through the Temperance Council of the Christian Churches, all have come together and asked for these things, we felt that we ought to make quite sure that there was no section of the religious view which was kept out of account when dealing with a specific matter like Christmas Day and the proper performance of their Sacraments.

If the other Members of your Lordships' House who have supported this Amendment would agree, I would ask my noble friend Lord Stonham whether, at this stage, he is willing to withdraw the Amendment. I should like to thank him and my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, and all other Members of the House who have contributed so much to the discussions on the Bill, which is so difficult in its application that only a Government Whip can be put on. You cannot put a Party Whip on right through this Bill in almost any other Party. In the circumstances we are greatly obliged to all the Members of your Lordships' House who have contributed to what I think are the quite sound and useful Amendments which we have secured in this House.


My Lords, I join with my noble Leader in thanking the noble and learned Viscount for the consideration he has given to this Amendment to-day, and still more, of course, for the very considerable way he went to meet us yesterday. However, I must say that the Lord Chancellor's speech was, to me, a very considerable disappointment—quite a bitter disappointment. I am just not able to accept some of the things that he said. I should like to make it perfectly clear that this is not a question of stopping people from enjoying themselves on Christmas Day. The only issue at stake is whether people should or should not be allowed to have special hours certificates going into the early hours of Christmas morning, up till two o'clock in the provinces and three o'clock in London. If I interpret this incorrectly, the noble and learned Viscount will, of course, interrupt me. So it is not a question of just preserving things as they are; it is a question of a further advance, of giving more away.

Secondly, I tried to make it clear when I moved the Amendment that we are asking that the present concession, which allows special hours on Christmas Eve until 1 a.m. Christmas morning in London, should be removed. I tried to make that perfectly clear; that, indeed, would be the purpose of this Amendment. But if this Amendment is withdrawn or defeated, then there will be a further advance into the small hours of Christmas morning. The Lord Chancellor saw a great difference between what he described as the Holy Day at Christmas time and Good Friday. I do not share that difference of view, and the right reverend Prelate, obviously, like my noble friend, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, could not see the difference either. Of course, Christmas Day is a day of great joy for millions of people in this country, and indeed all over the world, and we do not blame people who want a party on Christmas Day. The only thing we are saying in this Amendment is that we do not want Christmas Eve carried on in public parties into the small hours of the morning. I always like to do whatever my noble Leader asks me to do, but, my Lords, on this occasion I cannot find it in my heart to withdraw this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


That concludes the Amendments, and therefore we will proceed to the next Motion.

My Lords, in moving that this Bill do now pass, I hope your Lordships will not take it as in any way a discourtesy if I limit my remarks to reiterating—and I do so with all sincerity—what the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said a moment ago: that we who have been in charge of the Bill are greatly indebted to all members of the House who have given such great study and attention to its terms. It is a Bill, as everyone has said, without any party content at all, and therefore it is preeminently a Bill on which your Lordships' House can render great service. I should personally like to thank the noble Viscount, the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor (I do not think he will be too compromised politically: as I said, he is a very old friend of mine for a generation, and it has been a great pleasure to hear his voice on this Bill) for their help, and also the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for the great attention and work which he has put into the Bill. We have had long discussions, and, with that expression of gratitude, I hope that your Lordships will allow me to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to detain the House except for a few moments, but the Temperance Movement have asked me to have a further word before the Bill leaves your Lordships' House. I was rather pleased that some good friend (I do not know who) sent me a cutting of a tribute paid to the Temperance Movement, and that is something so unusual that I think I should read the tribute to your Lordships' House. When I tell your Lordships whose tribute it is, you will be all the more impressed. The tribute is headed: The Temperance Movement: Unsurpassed —Incomparable. It goes on: For my own part, I believe that the Temperance Party, the Temperance workers in England during the last 60 or 70 years, have performed services for the benefit of our people which are unsurpassed in the history of philanthropic movements in this country. Taking into account the period of time over which these efforts have been extended, the number of persons engaged in them, the area that they have covered and the complete disinterestedness of those participating, the conclusion must be reached that not even the great philanthropic movements of prison reform, not even the movement of Clarkson and Wilberforce and their friends and followers for the abolition of slavery, not even the anti-Corn Law movement itself, can compare with the Temperance Movement in glory. My Lords, that is a tribute paid by one whom this House holds in very high esteem, Lord Samuel. It is a little more acceptable than some references which I noticed in the other place to "the teetotal lobby".

My Lords, my noble Leader indicated some fortnight ago that I was a lifelong abstainer, and that is quite true. There is no malcredit whatever for that. I have never had the desire, and have never asked myself: should I drink intoxicants? I have no problem at all, but I have spent a lifetime doing my best to keep our nation as sober as possible. If I am allowed to make a personal reference, I was brought up in a mining area. I spent my week-ends very largely watching drunken and half-drunken men fight. They were fights in which almost invariably their families joined. Then on Monday mornings at the coal face, I would hear some of these colliers moaning and groaning, unable to do their work because of the intoxicants they had consumed over the week-end. Also, on the same Monday mornings their wives would be carrying bundles of clothing to the pawn shop to get a few shillings to carry them through to the next pay day. That made an indelible impression on my mind in my youth, and I said that I would spend as much time and energy as I could in trying to prevent this drink traffic from taking control over my fellow citizens; and I have done that. That is the only reason why I have sat on this Bill.

I have asked myself: Will this Bill make drink traffic less an evil in the country's life than the present legislation? Frankly, my Lords, I have come to the conclusion that this Bill is not going to help us. I agree that various pants of the Bill make references to youth. Concern is expressed regarding those under eighteen. What I want is a Bill dealing with drink traffic which will help our young men and young women to develop to their fullest capacity, physically, intellectually and morally. This Bill, in my opinion, will not do that. That is the reason I have not been able to support it. There are objectionable features, there are less objectionable features, and there are unobjectionable features in this Bill. But taking the Bill as a whole, and thinking of what drink traffic has meant in this country, and has done for centuries now, and what will happen after the Bill becomes law, I am concerned and anxious about the future.

This is a Bill of three parts. I think it ought to have been three separate Bills. Had it been three separate Bills, we should not have spent any more time on them, and we should have been clear in our conception of what is involved. If there were three separate Bills, I should oppose Part I. I should oppose it because it simply increases the number of public-houses under the name of restaurants and cafés. I should oppose Part II, mainly because it increases permitted hours by at least 20 per cent. That, in my opinion, does not help this country. Moreover, Part II contains Clause 6, which, in my opinion, treats Wales in a most shabby way. Part III, as a separate Bill, is one to which I should be sympathetic. It is an attempt to deal with a very difficult and thorny question, that of the clubs. All Governments have fought shy of this problem up to now, but here is a Government which has just nibbled, and to that extent I should be more inclined to support Part III than either Part I or Pant II.

I have tried to look forward five or ten years, and I have wondered what will happen under the Bill. I may say that I am very concerned, too, that this Bill is going to operate at a time when hundreds of applications are being made for batting shops. And when I think of the consequences of this Bill and of the betting shops, I feel very anxious regarding the future of this country. What we need, if we need drink traffic at all, is a drink traffic controlled in such a way that our young people have not all the freedom they want. What we need is young men and women fully developed, physically, intellectually and morally; and this Bill, in my view, does not help in that direction.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, in the closing stages of this Bill, I should like from these Benches to express the gratitude of those of us who have been watching the Bill for the consideration which we have been given by those who have been in charge of it, both the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack and the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, who have been, so understanding in dealing with the points that have been raised. I am sure, also, if it is in order for me to do so, that we should wish to express our gratitude to the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary and to the right honourable Dennis Vosper, who has taken such a leading part in the creation of this Bill. They have done their utmost to meet the many points that have been raised and we should wish to express our gratitude to them.

After all, the subject of the consumption of alcohol is a heady business in more than one way, and sometimes it leads to very intemperate and irrational expressions of opinion. I believe that on all sides this Bill has been approached in a most reasonable way and it has been accepted as such. I believe that Part I of this Bill is going to do much good in removing many of the stupid anomalies that exist at the present time, though here my chief regret is that more power has not been given to the justices in granting licences under this Part. There is a good deal to be said for the action in Part II in rationalising the hours of opening, though I am not convinced that there is a real need or demand for some of the extensions which have been given. Part III I believe to be the most important and valuable part of this Bill, and I trust that it will do much to remove the very undesirable clubs which have been existing so far under the law. But, as has been pointed out, this will still remain a considerable problem after this Bill has become law, and I trust that the Government will watch the whole question of clubs with the greatest care and, if necessary, act with immediate vehemence, if these terrible clubs continue, apart from the conditions of this Bill.

We are grateful also for the many important Amendments which the Government have accepted after debate. I am thinking especially of the protection of young people and the forbidding of the sale of intoxicants on motorways. There are just two matters in general to which I would draw attention and which I think will need to be watched carefully as a result of the coming into law of this Bill. The first concerns the result of the Bill on public-houses. As your Lordships will readily understand, I hold no brief for the public-houses, but they are an accepted part of the life of our nation and I believe that the publicans seek to run their establishments as well as they possibly can, often under conditions of great difficulty. This Bill is going to be a great challenge to them, because undoubtedly there will be a greater competition from the new establishments that will have licences. I think that they are also going to find that the extended hours will mean greatly increased costs, both in staff and in heating and lighting their establishments. Therefore, I hope that the assurance that I understand has been given by the brewers, that no undue pressure will be placed upon publicans to keep open, if they do not so desire, will be honoured and that publicans will be protected from any such pressure.

My one disappointment about this Bill is that it has not given, so far as I can see, the encouragement that many of us would have liked to see for the development of public-houses upon more wholesome lines. The Home Secretary, speaking in the general debate in another place in January, 1960, said: I hope that the owners will continue to follow an enlightened policy and make the English public-house into a centre of community life. This Bill, I think, does little to encourage that. At the same time, the Home Secretary pointed out that there are already provisions that can be used for this purpose. I hope that the public-houses will develop that way, so that they may indeed become wholesome centres of community life, in which drinking is not necessarily the central purpose of their existence.

The other matter to which I would draw attention is a general one. It is admitted that the purpose of this Bill is to extend the opportunities for the consumption of intoxicants, and that is a matter which we must accept as a result of this Bill. On Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked a very pertinent question, as to whether this was the right time to extend these facilities, when we know that the whole temper of life is providing opportunities where the over-indulgence of alcohol will lead to ever more terrible effects. We must recognise that this Bill will come into law against the background of certain facts: first, against the background of the increase of drunkenness. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, mentioned that. The figures for convictions for drunkenness have been wavering from year to year and the figures for 1960 have not yet been officially published, but I am told that the Christian Economic and Social Research Foundation, which has usually been right, has made some estimate and reckon that in 1960 there were 68,500 convictions for drunkenness. That will be the highest figure since 1925.

The second factor against which this Bill will come into law is the undoubted fact of the increase in juvenile drinking. Again, the figures for 1960 have not been published, but there has been a steady increase in convictions for juvenile drunkenness. In 1953, they were 3,096, and in 1959 they were 6,500—over double the number. And one must relate these figures to the knowledge that we have of sexual licence and of general hooliganism. Thirdly, we must relate these figures to the state of accidents upon the roads, of which your Lordships are too well aware.

Therefore, this Bill is going to lay a great responsibility upon all people. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who has made such a signal contribution to these discussions, has reminded us of the great responsibilities that are going to be laid upon the magistrates by this Bill, but let us also think of the responsibility which is going to be laid upon the whole people, because it would be a most serious and tragic thing if the impression were to be created—I know that the Government have no such intention—that this Bill is an encouragement to further drinking. For I am sure that all noble Lords would agree that it is only in sobriety and temperate behaviour that people's true happiness can be found. This Bill has been referred to on more than one occasion as an adult Bill for an adult people. Let it then be so; and let it be our hope that these new freedoms which are given will be exercised in a truly responsible manner.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for this continuous courtesy during our discussions on the Bill and the great care and patience with which he has listened to our points, and, in particular, for the concessions he was able to make yesterday, which I think are considerable; and they are greatly appreciated. I personally believe that this is a good Bill. I am hoping that the easement of restrictions, many of them difficult to justify, will not, as my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor and the right reverend Prelate feel, add to drinking and drunkenness, but will merely add to people's reasonable enjoyment of leisure. I think there is reasonable justification for that hope.

I strongly support what the Government have done with regard to clubs, and I am compensated for one of the disappointments by the valuable assurance which the Lord Chancellor was able to give yesterday: that his right honourable friend the Home Secretary will bear these points mind and, if necessary, take steps to deal with them. I think the Government and your Lordships' House have done a worthwhile job on this Bill, and I wish it well.

4.2 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise to your Lordships for the fact that I did not put my name down to speak on the Motion that this Bill do now pass, but I feel that perhaps a few words from the Government Benches may be welcomed, especially as I have taken part in the Bill through all its stages and followed it closely. It is to young people to whom this Bill is largely directed, and I still regard myself as a reasonably young Member of your Lordships' House. I should like to pay a warm tribute to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack for his great courtesy in dealing not only with my own Amendments, but those of my noble friend Lord Grenfell (we scored two out of three; it was a good effort, and we are extremely grateful to the Lord Chancellor) and to my noble friend Lord Bathurst, in particular, regarding his letter on Clause 20, dealing with the sale of liquor, where he completely met my point. I should also like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor. I personally do not share his views, but he has put them in a moderate and sincere manner.

Whatever may be said for or against this Bill, it has had a great deal of democratic discussion. After all, this is a major Bill and the repercussions will be felt in the years to come. I am not too happy about the restrictions on the sale of alcohol in off-licences to persons under 18. I know that the word "knowingly" is used, but it is likely that the licensee will have difficulty in making a decision there. Also, it is not entirely in keeping with the licence to sell alcohol to persons under 18 in clubs. I agree, as I said yesterday, that persons in clubs under the age of 18 should at least be served with beer and cider. At any rate, we shall note with interest how this works. I would again say how grateful we are to the three Government speakers, and also for the very reasoned way in which noble Lords opposite have dealt with this Bill, and I hope that its results will be profitable.

4.7 p.m.


My Lords, I want only to thank all those who have spoken for the extremely kind things they have said about my noble friend Lord Bathurst and myself. When we look back over nearly 61 years of this century, and at the difficulties that have always met licensing legislation, I think the Government can be satisfied, but not for one moment complacent, about the reception of this Bill.

I should like to say three things. I am glad that the right reverend Prelate stressed the importance of a high standard in licensed premises. I am sure that he had in mind, as I have, a standard which is not only in relation to' the actual supply of drink indoors, but the combination of drink and food and, if necessary, outdoor surroundings which make the place pleasant. If your Lordships will allow a note of levity, some years ago I remember reading an essay of Mr. G. K. Chesterton, when he said: Mr. Cadbury and I would have no dispute about the bad public house. It is in regard to the good public house that the unfortunate fracas between us would occur. I think that in the past 50 years most people have gathered the view that it is worth trying to get public houses and licensed premises of good quality and good amenities. I hope (though I think this is something we have to watch) that longer hours need not necessarily mean a greater consumption. I am not going to elaborate on the point, but there is a real danger in quick consumption which one must always have in mind.

I should like to comment on what has been said to-day in regard to the responsibilities of the licensing justices. I said yesterday that I have myself spoken to them several times, in view of this important additional responsibility which Parliament has put upon them of considering at the same time the comfort and convenience and the moral standards of our people. I am sure that they will respond to the new task, and I am glad to think that your Lordships wish them well. I again express my gratitude and hope that your Lordships will now allow the Bill to pass.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.