§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ 3.11 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (LORD CRAIGTON)
My Lords, this Bill proposes very considerable changes to certain aspects of the Scottish licensing law. It is the first major measure affecting that law since the permitted hours system introduced during the 1914–18 war was incorporated in Statute 40 years ago in 1921. It is the first Bill of its kind devoted exclusively to Scotland since the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903, the main source of our present law, and the Temperance (Scotland) Act, 1913. Your Lordships will not be misled by the many references in the Bill to the Act of 1959. That Act was purely a consolidation measure.
The main purpose of the Bill is to deal with the problems of Sunday drinking and the permitted hours. On this, the Government—and this House—have the assistance of the First Report of the Committee on the Scottish Licensing Law. I am indeed sorry, as your Lordships will be sorry, that the Chairman of the Committee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Guest, is unable because of illness to be with us this afternoon, and I should like to take this opportunity to wish him a speedy recovery. I should also like to record once again my thanks, 807 and those of the Secretary of State for Scotland, to the noble Lord and his colleagues for the work they have done and for the careful and concise way in which they have prepared their Report.
Since the last revisions of the law, so many years ago, there have been changes in drinking habits in Scotland. While the general picture shows an improvement compared with what it was at one time, drink remains a matter for unease and anxiety among large sections of Scottish public opinion. Furthermore, it is undeniable—as I shall show later—that the law has, in some respects, been overtaken by events and no longer meets the needs of the situation.
That is the position as the Government now see it in presenting this Bill. That was the position as the Secretary of State saw it two years ago. He felt then that an examination of the position by an impartial body would be of help before any changes in the law were suggested; so he set up the noble Lord's Committee to consider the four main heads of the law which appeared to him to call for reconsideration. The four questions which the Committee were requested to examine were, briefly, Sunday drinking, the permitted hours, the constitution of licensing courts and courts of appeal and the situation regarding licensed premises in the areas of new housing development and re-development. It is with the first two of those four subjects that the Committee dealt in their First Report, and it is from that First Report that the Bill now before your Lordships stems.
My Lords, in the Government's opinion the position regarding the sale of liquor on Sundays in Scotland is thoroughly unsatisfactory and should be rectified. May I remind your Lordships of what that position is? There are no permitted hours on Sunday. Public houses are closed; hotels, however, may supply liquor—and here I quote the terms of the hotel certificate in the 1959 Act—for the accommodation of lodgers and travellers".So far as concerns "lodgers"—"residents" we call them today—there is no difficulty: it is accepted that hotels should supply liquor to residents at any time of day on any day. The difficulty relates to "travellers". The local hotel 808 has been unable to supply drink on Sunday to the local residents, but it could supply people who were, or said they were, travelling.
This "traveller" position derives from the principle, still embodied in the Common Law, that an inn must provide board and lodging to any traveller; in the past, for this provision has a very long history, alcoholic liquor was almost an essential part of board. But time has caught up with the provision. In so far as it is necessary, and I do not say it is not, for the law to provide for the supply of food and drink to travellers, nobody to-day would claim that it is essential to provide travellers with alcoholic drink at all times. And, because of the much greater ease of travel in modern times, the "traveller" provision has made a laughing stock of our licensing laws. Every Sunday, as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes will know, there issue forth from the cities and large towns of Scotland, not the footsore and weary travellers whom the drafters of the law had in mind, but the Sunday trippers in their cars and buses. Some go, I am sure, mainly for the outing, but some go solely to make use of the "traveller" provision in order to obtain strong drink because they cannot get it in their own home town. And they can seek "accommodation" at any time, and if he does not serve them, the hotelier runs the risk of losing his certificate. My Lords, when I said that there were no permitted hours on Sunday in Scotland, I was wrong. To all intents and purposes there are, for some at least, 24 permitted hours. And sometimes the hotelier must put up with and" accommodate "—according to the words of the law—these so called "travellers" from the early morning till late at night.
The resulting situation is indefensible. I draw your Lordships' attention to only two of the more undesirable features. The first of these is the existing law that makes you travel to drink and denies it to you in your own area. At a time when Parliament and the public are rightly concerned about road safety, what can be said for a law which encourages the motorist to drive to get a drink and then to drive home again? The second is the annoyance and disturbance which is caused to the inhabitants of the surrounding country by the 809 irruption into it of the wrong sort of Sunday drinkers in their cars and buses. The peace and quiet of the Scottish Sunday is quickly shattered if the hotel in the town becomes the resort of such people.
I do not want to over-stress this last aspect of the problem. I should not like to suggest to your Lordships that this is a problem that wholly derives from the present licensing laws or can be wholly cured by their alteration. Disturbances can be caused by Sunday trippers other than those who are taking advantage of the "traveller" provision—the Committee referred to parties which carry their own liquor—and indeed disturbance can be caused by trippers who are not drinking at all. But, in so far as it does result from the "traveller" provision, there is a clear case for its repeal. This is the recommendation of the Guest Committee, and the Government accept it.
But if we repeal it, what are we to put in its place? This was the main problem with which the noble Lord's Committee had to deal. They rejected as unacceptable the idea that nothing should be put in its place, leaving hotel residents as the only people who could buy a drink on Sundays. They considered, and again rejected, a proposal that, as in some parts of the country during the last war, the supply of liquor should be confined to liquor with meals. Their main reason, which the Government accept, was that, as shown by the amount of use made of the "traveller" provision, there is a certain demand for liquor apart from meals on a Sunday. So they decided that the proper course was to introduce the same principle of drinking during permitted hours on Sundays in Scotland as we already have on weekdays.
Your Lordships will not underestimate what is involved in this change. It is 108 years since the prohibition of the sale of liquor on Sundays to local inhabitants, indeed to all but residents and bona fide travellers, was introduced by the Forbes Mackenzie Act of 1853. It is only comparatively recently, with the change in public habits and the ease of modern travel, that the law has come to be found defective. But public habits have changed, and it must be accepted that we should have Sunday permitted hours.
810 But what premises ought to have permitted hours? The noble Lord's Committee gave careful consideration to this question and decided that the answer to the problem was to go the whole hog and to have permitted hours for all types of licensed premises—hotels, public houses and restaurants—which supply liquor for consumption on the premises. Of the Committee's 34 recommendations, this recommendation alone aroused controversy—and, surely, since they were dealing with the contentious problem of drink, this is a matter of surprise and reflects great credit on the Committee. The proposal that there should be Sunday opening for public houses is the only one to which there has been any substantial opposition, and that opposition has been strong. Since the publication of the Report, the general consensus of opinion of those who expressed views to my right honourable friend has been overwhelmingly against Sunday opening of public houses, and my right honourable friend has had to decide what was the best thing to do in the circumstances.
These are some of the reasons which seem to me, in a greater or lesser degree, to have led people in Scotland to object to the Sunday opening of public houses. Some of the opposition derives from what one might call the pure milk of Sabbath observance; some from a much wider-spread, and not necessarily religious, view that Sunday is a day apart, a day of rest and quiet; some derives from the Scots' innate disquiet about drink, to which I have already referred. The licensed trade—and they were among the objectors—included among their reasons their opinion that there was no such public demand for liquor on Sunday as necessitated the opening of public houses, and that Sunday opening would be uneconomic and an unnecessary burden on their staff. The Church of Scotland and the other religious bodies who joined the Church in representing against the Sunday opening of pubs expressed the view that to open them would lead to undesirable consequences for young people because they had so few alternative recreational facilities on Sundays.
There is no doubt about the sincerity of these widely-held views. It is the case that Sunday in Scotland is particularly a day apart, and I think that many —churchgoers and non-churchgoers—do 811 not want to see any dramatic change in the Scottish Sunday. One cannot deny, as the Guest Committee did not deny, the risk in giving too much opportunity for Sunday drinking when there are so few competing opportunities for recreation. So, my Lords, at the present time the Government cannot recommend to Parliament the Sunday opening of public houses in Scotland. Instead, what the Government propose is to allow hotels and licensed restaurants to be open during permitted hours on Sundays. This, not the whole hog but the half hog, is, we think, a sound, workable solution of the problem, and one in tune with Scotland's evolving approach to the drinking of alcohol.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, could the noble Lord say why the Government have adopted a different attitude in Scotland from that which they adopted in Wales, where there was a referendum or plebiscite in the counties and county boroughs with results that were published? There may be reasons why Scotland should be regarded differently, but my impression is that the Scottish attitude to temperance is much the same as the divided attitude in Wales. Could the noble Lord say why the Government did not apply the same doctrine to Scotland?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
Scotland is now wet—in fact, very wet indeed—and would be voting whether to go dry, damp or to stay wet.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
The Secretary, of State does not think that when Scotland already has her right to a veto poll over narrow areas, it would be right to ask the Scottish people to engage in an operation which would be completely different from the one which was carried out in Wales, where the situation is not at all on all fours.
812 When the noble Lord interrupted me I was saying that there was no doubt about the sincerity of the views, widely held, that pubs should be shut; that, though we were not going the whole hog we were going the half hog, which we felt was the right solution; and that comment in Scotland has been almost universally favourable to the proposal. It is true that the Guest Committee considered this halfway, half hog, solution and rejected it. Naturally, we considered their arguments very carefully indeed, but we came to the conclusion that, on balance, for the whole of Scotland our proposal is the best; and that it is one which should be applied to the whole of Scotland, and not as it has been applied in Wales. The problem, as we see it, is one of providing for a demand without over-providing for it. There are about 2,000 licensed hotels in Scotland at the present time. In the Government's view, the foreseeable demand on Sunday does not require the opening of the 4,000-odd public houses as well.
The Bill makes some sensible refinements to the proposed Sunday arrangements. Clause 7 revises and retains the provision for a "six-day" certificate. Where, for any reason, the certificate holder does not wish to have permitted hours on Sunday, we do not think he should be under any pressure to do so. Where a public house contains a restaurant, Clause 6 provides a procedure by which the certificate holder may obtain authority to supply liquor with meals in the restaurant during the permitted hours on Sundays.
Before I go on to speak of the permitted hours themselves, I should like to deal with the important recommendation that a special certificate should be introduced for restaurants. I think it is accepted, and that this House will accept, that drinking with meals is a civilised custom and is not attended by the risks that attend some other drinking habits. If we can persuade people who want a drink to take their liquor with meals, then we may discourage some of the excesses which occur at the present time. But the Scottish licensing law at present actually operates against the development of restaurants serving drinks with meals. At present, the man wanting to start a licensed restaurant can apply only for a public house certificate, because it is part 813 of the Scottish licensing system that licensing courts cannot attach additional conditions to a certificate; so if he gets his licence, the caterer can be authorised to supply drinks only in normal public house style—that is, without meals—as well as with meals. This works against the grant of certificates for drinks only with meals. The licensing court may well reach the view that, though there is no objection to an additional restaurant, the public house facilities in the area are already adequate, and the court may therefore feel obliged to refuse the certificate because, if it grants one, it may have licensed too many public houses.
The proposal made by the Committee, Which is implemented in Clause 1 of the Bill, is for the introduction of a special type of certificate for restaurants. Its grant will remain in the discretion of the licensing courts (I do not think that any departure from licensing court control would be acceptable in Scotland) but the courts will now be able to direct their mind to the proper question—whether there is a case for a licensed restaurant—without having to consider Whether there is a need for a public house certificate at the same time. The Guest Committee also recommended that the hotel which did not have—did not necessarily want—a full hotel certificate, but which had a public restaurant, should be able to apply for a licensed restaurant certificate, which in that case would also authorise the supply of liquor without meals to residents and their friends but not to the general public.
I turn now to the second subject dealt with by the Guest Report: that of the permitted hours on weekdays and Sundays. The Committee saw no case for any radical departure from the present permitted hours system, and, in particular, no case for the abolition of the afternoon break. But they saw substantial advantage—and no counter-balancing disadvantage—in having the same permitted hours, not only throughout the country, but also for all types of premises to which the permitted hours apply — hotels, restaurants, public houses, and clubs.
The benefits of standardisation hardly need statement. Although the licensing laws are primarily concerned with the supply of liqour to local inhabitants, in these modern days we have much more travelling within the country, and we 814 have many, and hope to have more, tourists. The present local differences in drinking times must hopelessly confuse the stranger to the locality and lead the local inhabitant to travel from one local to another local which has later hours. Standardisation would remove this dangerous nonsense. And standardisation prevents the evasion—in the case of some clubs, deliberate evasion—of the policy implicit in the permitted hours system, that drink should be available in an area only during the same permitted hours.
But standardisation should try to meat legitimate area needs. The Committee were satisfied that the hours they recommended would do this. From the subsequent soundings we have made, the Government have no reason to disagree, and the Guest Committee recommendations on the subject are implemented in Clause 4. It was no doubt partly the need to meet area needs which led the Committee to consider the length of the permitted hours and to recommend a small extension of the present pattern of the weekday hours from eight, or, in some cases, eight and a half hours, to nine hours. The weekday times they recommended were 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The weekday evening closing hour of 10 o'clock is somewhat early in comparison with England and Wales, but later than many closing hours as at present fixed by licensing courts in Scotland. The Government feel that 10 p.m. is a reasonable closing hour.
The Sunday permitted hours in the Bill—again Clause 4-are 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. They are as recommended by the Committee, and seem right bearing in mind the special religious considerations arising on Sundays. As at present, the clause also prohibits off-sales of liquor on a Sunday. I also draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 3 (4), under which premises need not remain open throughout the permitted hours. Some licensing courts have tended to insist on this even when the proprietors themselves did not wish to remain open.
Clause 3, again following the Committee, removes unnecessary and burdensome restrictions in the permitted hours system itself. Clause 3 (3) (b) provides for a "drinking-up period" at 815 the end of permitted hours during which customers may consume but may not purchase liquor. In the light of the discussions on the English Bill last session, we have adjusted the period from fifteen minutes as suggested by the Committee, to ten minutes, just as applies to England. Clause 3 (3) (d) exempts residents' guests from the permitted hours system, so that residents may entertain their guests with liquor at any time.
A third change is of a more substantial nature. The present law relating to off-sales causes unnecessary difficulty. The majority, though not all, of off-sale premises are grocers' shops, and the permitted hours do not marry happily to the normal hours of trade of the shop. The grocer is placed in the embarrassing and perhaps unnecessary position of having to refuse to serve customers with liquor during some of the normal shopping hours. The Committee came to the conclusion that there was no need to apply such limited hours to the sale of liquor for consumption off the premises as should be applied to on-sales. The main need is that off-sale liquor should not be obtainable after the normal evening closing hours, since there is a risk that persons coming out of, say, a public house at closing time, having already had enough, or nearly enough, may try to buy more drink from an off-sale shop. The Bill, by Clause 3 (1) and Clause 17, removes off-sale premises from the permitted hours, but puts a prohibition on off-sale shops serving liquor between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays; and, of course, they may not open at all on Sundays.
But all hotels and public houses may, under their present certificates, sell also liquor for consumption off the premises, and some have a substantial and legitimate trade in off-sales. If we relax the hours for off-sale premises that do not serve drinks, and we keep the permitted hours system for other licensed premises, this would hamper legitimate off-sales competition between them. The Government have devised a method of achieving equality of terms of trade which should meet this point. Clause 3 (2) sets out a procedure by which the certificate-holder of a hotel or a public house can set apart for off-sales a place to which the off-sale law will apply.
816 Leaving now the main subjects with which the Report and the Bill deal, I would refer your Lordships to the clauses which implement other recommendations of the Report. Clause 8 deals with the provision of "seasonal" certificates. There are a number of hotels in Scotland which have a seasonal trade and which are uneconomic to operate in the winter months. Clause 15, by an adaptation of the "special permission" procedure—that is, the "special order of exemption", in English terms—will enable clubs to apply to the licensing court for extensions of their permitted hours for such occasions as, say, a club dinner. At present the only way in which liquor can be supplied at such occasions outside the permitted hours is by the club's seeking the services of an outside caterer who can apply to the licensing court for a special permission.
Now about the police having the right of entry into clubs. Clause 16 derives from the considerable volume of representations which the Guest Committee received that certain clubs were operating continuously in contravention of the law, and, in particular, were selling drinks to members of the public as well as to club members and their guests. This is a matter of strong feeling in Scotland, not only on the part of the licensed trade, who feel the effect of competition resulting from such abuses, but also on the part of the public generally. The difficulty is not that the club law itself is inadequate, but that strict enforcement of that law, as it at present stands, is hard to achieve. The law already provides for police entering on a warrant granted by the magistrate. But magistrates require, and rightly so, a high standard of evidence before they will grant a warrant, and the production of this evidence calls for a considerable expenditure of police time before the police raid itself can be mounted. The Guest Committee therefore recommended that the police should have the same powers of supervision of registered clubs as they now have of licensed premises. Power of entry will enable the police to ensure that the misconduct on the part of a few clubs—and the club committee are not always to blame—is stopped before it reaches the proportion it does to-day.
While this Bill is not a general revision measure, the English 1961 Act which 817 your Lordships considered in detail last Session made a number of important changes to the law of England and Wales which are equally appropriate to Scotland and, indeed, on which uniformity between the two countries is highly desirable. The changes in which we are glad to follow England deal mainly with the law relating to the circumstances in which liquor may be supplied. The most important of these provisions is in Clause 12, which revises the law for the protection of young persons, prohibiting the sale of liquor for consumption off the premises to persons under 18-the same age which now applies to on-sales—and making it an offence to send people under 18 years of age to obtain liquor.
We have also introduced, in Clause 9, the English prohibition on the grant of licensing certificates to premises on motorways, and have in Clause 14 followed England in clarifying the law regarding liqueur chocolates. Another group of provisions—Clauses 10 and 11 —mainly derived from the 1961 Act, make small but important changes to ease the operation of the law relating to the structure of licensed premises. My Lords, I have now set out the aims and purposes of the main provisions of the Bill—the provisions relating to Sunday drinking, to the new "restaurant" and "restricted hotel" certificates, to the permitted hours and the provisions derived from the 1961 Act, This is the Bill which I commend to your Lordships as a practical measure which meets the needs of Scotland at this time. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Craigton.)
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, referred to the long time that has elapsed since there was any radical revision of the licensing law and said that it was now very necessary to do something about it, undoubtedly he expressed an opinion which is widely held throughout Scotland; and I doubt very much whether there is anyone in Scotland who would object to the provisions of this Bill. In the short time during which I have been a Member of your Lordships' House it has been my duty to listen on a number of occasions 818 to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, introducing, somewhat apologetically, Bills which he described as "little but useful". If the Government had been even more timid than they have been with this Bill, it might have been the noble Lord's fate to do this again. He could have introduced a little but useful Bill doing away with the bona fide traveller provision and he would have done so in the certain knowledge that no reasonable person in Scotland would have offered anything but wholehearted approval of the move. Therefore, at the outset, I must express complete satisfaction that, amongst other things, the Bill removes that particular iniquity. As the noble Lord put it, the law has been overtaken by events. I rather liked that phrase which he used and I want to come back to it later on in warning the Government that on this Bill they may be saying the same thing again in a very short space of time because 'of their undue timidity.
Clause 1 of the Bill introduces, as the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, has said, the new types of licensing facilities. I think that there will be general approval of the new restaurant licences and the restrictive hotel licences, in order to make it possible, as the noble Lord said, for people in Scotland to have a meal and a drink with the meal without having to go to a public house for it. Because we must accept—and I think that this is one of the points which the Government had in mind when they declined to "go the whole hog"—that public houses generally in Scotland are not of the high standard which we should like to see.
So far as restaurant facilities are concerned I have nothing to offer the Government except congratulations on the proposals. So far as the restricted hotel facilities are concerned, I am not at all certain that the wording of the Bill is as happy as it might be. It may be that through ignorance I am merely criticising something which is established Parliamentary procedure, but I cannot for the life of me see why it is necessary in a Bill to refer to somebody's friend as his "private friend". Is there such a thing as a "public friend"? Or is it a necessary way of distinguishing from the casual or false friend? It seems to me that, if words are going to have any meaning at all, they should be in an Act of Parliament only because they 819 have some particular meaning, and this is one point which I think might well be altered. That is by the way.
I have a more serious criticism of subsection (3), which states:A restricted hotel certificate is a certificate which.…(b) authorises the holder thereof, in accordance with the appropriate excise licence, to sell or supply exciseable liquor in the said premises "—and I skip paragraph (i) which is perfectly satisfactory and refers to table meals—(ii) to persons residing there or their private friends bona tide "—the Government could not drop those words—entertained by them at their own expense, for consumption by such a person or his private friend so entertained by him either on the premises or with a meal supplied at, but to be consumed off, the premises.I read this a long time to try to find out just exactly what it meant, and, at the end of the day, frankly I did not understand it. I had the benefit of a few words with the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, before coming into the Chamber and I now know what the Government think it means. But I am not at all certain that they have expressed their meaning in this paragraph.
I think that the wording is in direct conflict with later provisions of the Bill, because at first it seems that the emphasis is on the fact that it will be permissible for a hotel not only to supply the residents but to make supplies available to the residents' guests or friends. I do not quarrel with that. It seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do in a hospitable country like Scotland. It also seems reasonable that the host should undertake to do the whole thing at his own expense, as the Bill provides. But if we look at the wording, it permits the licensee "to sell or supply" both the person who is resident in the hotel or his friend. In other words, there is the undesirable aspect that the first round can be bought by the resident and the next is a case of, "This round is on me". The Bill definitely, if words mean anything, makes is possible to sell, as distinct from supply, to both resident and guest. I think that that aspect must be looked at, because if there is one undesirable aspect about drinking in a public place, 820 it is this business of alternating one from the other, the very thing which encourages people who may be weak to take more than is desirable. It is certainly something which we do not wish to encourage on a Sunday any more than on a weekday.
I do not understand the last part of the paragraph either, where is says that liquor can be supplied toa person or his private friend so entertained by him either on the premises or with a meal supplied at, but to be consumed off, the premises.I wonder what sort of meal the average Scottish hotel could supply, which one could gather up and take away from the hotel to eat on a bench outside the hotel or in a park or at the river or on the seafront, accompanied perhaps by the bottle of whisky which was the "ancillary" one was getting with it?
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I understand that the meal which is intended is a packed meal, and that seems to be perfectly reasonable, even more so than the sandwiches suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Haddington. If that is a reasonable provision, it seems extraordinary that the natural place where one would expect to buy a packed meal, the restaurant, is in fact denied the opportunity of selling the drink. If it is a good thing that a Scot should have an opportunity of going in and getting a packed meal and something to drink with it and take it away, he will have to go to what must usually, although not necessarily always, be the more expensive of two kinds of premises, because it is generally cheaper to buy a meal in a restaurant than in an hotel. I understand it is not outwith the bounds of possibility that that aspect may be looked at. If it is a good thing that you should be able to take a meal and something to drink away with you, then why should you be denied the opportunity of getting it in one of the two places which are being encouraged by the Government to open on Sundays and other days for the provision of a meal and drink with it?
Clause 2 (3) could also do with some further explanation. I recognise, having looked at the Act of 1959, that the term used in this subsection is one that is 821 already in existing legislation. But this Bill does not provide any definition of it. The subsection to which I refer is that relating to the granting of special permission to the licence-holders. The last lines of the subsection are that itshall be subject to a condition that the sale of exciseable liquor under the authority of the permission shall be ancillary to the provision of substantial refreshment.We have heard often in the past of the difficulties with which the courts are presented when Parliament passes legislation using words of this kind but failing to give any definition of what they mean. I suggest that this is obviously a case where at least some attempt should be made to give an indication of what the Government mean by "substantial refreshment". If you go into a place and ask for a bottle of whisky and a bag of chips, would the bag of chips be considered substantial refreshment? I should think that the answer would be "No". But if you ask for two fish suppers along with it, they are at least bulky; it would be difficult to deny that they were substantial; and that might be considered substantial refreshment. I should think the object of the subsection is to make it quite clear that the liquor is the subsidiary part and the food is the main part; but, as worded, it will not be difficult for lawyers defending those who might be brought before the sheriff under this proposal to argue that what they have provided, at only a fraction of the cost of he liquor, is in fact substantial refreshment.
Clause 3 (5) makes reference to the State management districts. I refer to this only briefly, because it seems to indicate a little inroad into the State monopoly in the areas where at the present moment all the facilities are in the name of the licence-holder, the Secretary of State for Scotland, except such hotels or restaurants as might have existed before these State management districts were created. I believe that this is the first time (I may be wrong about this) that opportunity has been given to private dealers to come into operation in these areas.
Clause 3, as the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, has indicated, makes what I think must be regarded as a number of necessary and desirable changes. In following the English example of having a drinking-up time of ten minutes, I 822 think the Government have been wise. I must say how much I appreciate, as I think most folk, and certainly the publicans will, Clause 4, which removes from them the compulsion to open. The hours become permitted hours. I know that in recent years licensing courts have perhaps permitted the law to be broken when people have asked for authority to close during the permitted hours, this sometimes being the only way a man could get away for a holiday. As it was interpreted, no authority had any power to say to a man that he could close his public-house. The more reasonable authorities just took note of his letter and made no trouble for him because he closed. This clause regularises the position and makes it possible for a man to open his premises or not, as he wishes, and I heartily endorse it.
When I was referring earlier to this selling and supplying, I said that it appeared to be in conflict with a later stage of the Bill, and Clause 3 (3) (d) makes reference to the supply only, as distinct from the sale and supply. It says:The supply of exciseable liquor in any premises, for consumption on those premises, to any private friends of a person residing there who are bona fide entertained by him at his own expense, or the consumption by such friends of exciseable liquor so supplied.In that form I welcome it. In the earlier form, where it permits both sale and supply to the friends, I think it is a retrograde step, and I earnestly hope that the Government will bring the earlier clause into line with this one.
The main clause is the next one. I thoroughly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, on the value of standardising hours of opening. Whether the particular hours chosen are the best— whether they could more properly have been half-past nine or half-past ten rather than ten o'clock—is, I think, beside the point. The important thing is that the hours should be the same in all areas. I doubt very much whether anybody will quarrel with the particular hours that have been chosen.
In relation to Sunday drinking, I must say that my personal inclination is not to have any extension of Sunday drinking. I am an elder of the kirk, and I know full well what is the general point of view of kirk folk on this matter. But 823 I cannot help feeling that it is not our business to pass legislation because we ourselves think in a particular way. I think it is our business to do our job in one of two ways: either to pass measures because we know full well that there is an overwhelming demand for them, or, alternatively, to pass measures which are in the national interest but which may well meet with opposition from even an overwhelming majority of the population, if we are satisfied that time will persuade people that what we have done is right and that a majority of the people will in due course endorse the action which in the first instance they oppose. I suggest to your Lordships that that is not what the Government are doing at this time. They have taken the easy way out and have rejected the advice which the noble Lord, Lord Guest, has given.
While I want to make it perfectly clear that it suits my own personal inclinations, I do not think it is the right decision to have taken for Scotland. Why do I think that? When the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, was talking about existing facilities, he said that the existing law is one which encourages you to travel for drink and denies it to you in your own area. When he went on to say that there were hotels in Scotland in which it is now going to be possible to drink on Sundays, he said there were 2,000 hotels in Scotland, and he thought that was sufficient; he did not think it was necessary to open the 4,000 public-houses, as well. I am very much afraid that the Scottish Office has not done its homework on this, because in the limited time at my disposal I made inquiries in the larger centres of population as to what the position should be. When I said, in referring to the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, that the law has been overtaken by events, I said I thought they might be just repeating that in this measure. I am quite certain that that will be the case very quickly.
Of the 4,000 public houses in Scotland to which the noble Lord referred, 1,080 are in the city of Glasgow. Of the 2,000 licensed hotels which there are in Scotland, only 26 are in the city of Glasgow. Just imagine for one minute the situation which the Government will enforce on approximately one-quarter 824 of the population of Scotland. During the weekday there is a public house for every 1,000 inhabitants in Glasgow. On Sunday, they are to have the opportunity of getting a drink at 26 hotels, which works out at one licensed hotel for every 41,500 people in Glasgow. I suggest to your Lordships that in some of these hotels the situation is going to be pandemonium, and it will be such a development as will make even the bona fide traveller rule seem something desirable. If the Government had gone out of their way to get something which was worse than the bona fide traveller rule, most people would have said that it would be beyond the wit of man to accomplish it. I believe that in the city of Glasgow they certainly have.
It will not have escaped the notice of some Government Members, who were perhaps a bit disappointed at the Government's showing in the Bridgeton by-election, that Bridgeton is one of the constituencies in Glasgow which has no licensed hotel at all, or only one. In the result, the Government candidate nearly lost his deposit. I should think that if he were there on the first Sunday when the new Bill was operating, and sought to operate it, he might very nearly lose his life. But Glasgow is not the only example. This is the pattern in the populated areas of Scotland: in Dundee there are 193 public houses, one per 1,000 of the population, and 16 hotels, one for every 11,000. In Aberdeen there is one public house for every 1,500 people, and one licensed hotel per 10,000. In Edinburgh, there is one public house for every 1,100 people and, even with all the hotels in Edinburgh, only one hotel per 6,600 people. There are two smaller areas where the pattern is not so pronounced but is nevertheless of the same sort of pattern. In Kirkcaldy, with a population of 52,000 people, there is one public house for every 1,270 people and one hotel for nearly 5,000 people. In Dunfermline, with a population of just under 50,000, there is one public house for every 1,600 and one hotel per 6,800 people.
I think I have given your Lordships sufficient figures at least to make you wonder whether the situation at licensed hotels is going to be a very pleasant thing either for the folk in large centres of population who seek to go to drink there, 825 or for the people who are operating these licences. I think the answer may well be that some of the people who presently have seven-day licences will seek to take advantage of the restricted hotel provisions and take the facilities down still further in order to get out of this most difficult situation. I am criticising the Government for what they are doing in this matter because. as I say, I do not think this solution is a good one. But I should be less than honest if I pretended that I had any ready-made solution.
I have a very strong suspicion that if I had been in the Minister's shoes I might well have been inclined also to take this easy way out, and then say in two or three years' time, when it was obvious that things were not working, "We must have another look at the law". But there are alternatives. My noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth asked why the Minister had not introduced the Welsh proposal of having a referendum or plebiscite. That is obviously one way of establishing what the people want. I cannot bring myself to commend it, because I am quite certain that what is going to happen in some parts of Wales is that they are going to have their own local variety of the "bona fide traveller", in that people will migrate in large numbers from those border areas where they do not have drinking into the adjoining county or borough where they do. We certainly do not want to substitute our present state of affairs in Scotland for that type.
If there is going to be a plebiscite, it will obviously have to be on the basis that the majority of people in Scotland would decide whether there were to be Sunday opening of public houses or not, and it would have to apply to the whole country. I would not commend that, because it is quite possible that in rural areas in the North and West of Scotland there would he strong majorities against Sunday opening, and these people would be strongly overborne by the decision in the large centres of population although their conditions were totally different. Because, after all, remember that in contradistinction to what I have been saying about hotels in the large centres, there are areas in the North of Scotland where the hotels are particularly for the summer trade, and where there is a licensed hotel for every 250 people.
826 Conditions vary greatly, and I cannot bring myself to believe that the plebiscite is the answer. I think the Government were right in not accepting that. But I wonder—and I put it no more strongly than this, because I have not worked it out finally in my mind, and I do not know whether I shall wish to move an Amendment along these lines—whether the opportunity of amendment on this question of Sunday opening should not be left to the licensing courts. I think it is at least a possibility that it would be better than what is suggested if the licensing court were given the opportunity of deciding whether particular public houses, or all public houses, were to be open on certain Sundays, or on all Sundays. At least, it could be done that way in the knowledge of what feeling was in the particular area concerned. If the licensing court allowed public houses to open, and it was clearly the attitude of the residents in the area that they ought not to be opened, then the residents have their remedy: at the next election they remove the people who have done that, and their successors will reverse the situation. If the court do it the other way round, then again the position can be rectified.
It has been said that one of the reasons why the Government did not wish to accept the Guest Committee's Report on Sunday opening was that the condition of many public houses in Scotland was far from satisfactory. As one who was chairman of a licensing court for six years, I cannot possibly deny that point of view. It might well be that one of the conditions which a local licensing court could impose, if they were permitting Sunday opening, would be to permit it only to those public houses which were in every way up to what the licensing court considered to be a desirable standard.
I do not think there is any possibility of all the 1,080 public houses in Glasgow, all the 193 in Dundee or all the 426 in Edinburgh, all wishing to open at the same time, Sunday after Sunday. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, stated that the licensing trade particularly do not wish the public houses to open on Sunday, and I think by and large that is the case. When the trend is more and more to a five-day week, it is not surprising that publicans and their employees do not look with any enthusiasm to the possibility of a seven-day week. I should think, provided it is imported into 827 the Bill if a change is made, that, for instance, the demand for an opportunity to open should come from the licence-holder and if he does not wish to open that is the end of it; and I should think even those who did wish to open would be content to open only on certain Sundays in the month, perhaps one Sunday in four. I wish to emphasise once again to your Lordships that I am not at this stage prepared to put this forward other than as an idea for consideration, and I must in the next week or so consider whether or not I should put this forward as definite Amendment.
I have little more to say on the Bill. I would refer briefly to Clause 8 concerning seasonal certificates. Quite frankly, I wonder whether this was necessary in view of the fact that there was a move from the licence holders' obligation to open during permitted hours. It seems to me that they can accomplish the same object by refraining from opening during months or weeks as they can by this seasonal certificate; but I have no objection to it. If it makes it more clear that people have an opportunity for closing down over extended periods, then it is probably worth while from that position. Clause 9, regarding prohibition of licensed premises on motor roads, I think is a good one. It will be an even better one, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, if we have any motor roads in Scotland.
Clause 17 refers to hours of off-licences. I think the Government have been very generous in the hours they are permitting off-licence shops to open. It is certainly prudent that they should not be open after public houses have closed. I wonder whether all of these people will welcome the encouragement to remain open from 8 in the morning to 10 o'clock at night. And I think, with justification, the off-licence period might in fact have been related to what are the more normal grocery shop hours, which would have been 8 in the morning to 6 at night. I think the main objections to the licensed grocers was the fact that they had a period during the day to open but could not sell liquor. But I do not object to it, after all. Presumably if a man wishes to shut up shop at six at night he is free to do so. I would have it that way, so that he is free to shut 828 at an earlier time rather than that he is deprived of opening a little longer if he wants to.
I have only one other thing to say in what, I am afraid, has been an unduly long speech, but I am going to be wicked; I cannot resist the temptation. I am under a duty of course to do so, because I received a letter the other day from the Working Men's Clubs and Institutes Union, Limited, putting forward a point of view which obviously must be expressed and taking strong exception to the terms of Clause 16, to which the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, referred in detail, on the right of police entry without a warrant. This was considered very carefully by your Lordships in July when my noble friend, Lord Stonham, attempted to import exactly this clause into the English Bill. Before I go any further, I should make it perfectly clear that I shall have to send an unsatisfactory answer to this letter because I support the Government's attitude on this matter. However, the opinion of this Association is that, generally speaking, clubs in Scotland are more respectable places than clubs in England; and they have put forward the point of view that if it was unwise or unnecessary to give this power even for some of the very unsavoury establishments not so very far away from your Lordships' House, then there was no need for it in Scotland. I do not agree. I have had some knowledge of what can go on in licensed clubs even in comparatively small towns in Scotland, and I think this is a necessary provision for the police. But in case any of your Lordships, particularly those on these Benches, think that the Government are infallible in these licensing matters I cannot resist the temptation of reading Hansard of July 18. I have already apologised in advance to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack because I am going to quote him on this point. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 233 (No. 111), col. 628]:— the Government could not accept the principle of entry by the police without warrant into club premises at any time, which is inherent in the proposal made by the new clause. The vast majority of opinion of all parties accepts that to allow the police to enter club premises without warrant at any time, except for the limited purpose covered by Clause 27 of the Bill, would be an unjustifiable interference with private liberties.829 That is exactly what this long letter from the Institute says to me, and if it is any consolation to them I shall be able to tell them that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor is on their side. But I am afraid that I shall also have to tell them that at this time and on this occasion Scottish Ministers will probably be more effective than their Scottish colleague, the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack; and it will not be just because on this occasion they can say I am in agreement with them.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, as my noble friend has cared to express an opinion on this point, would he think this is just another plot against England or perhaps another way of Scotland's seeing they get in first with wise legislation.
§ LORD HUGHES
My noble friend Lord Stonham is really asking me to do the impossible. What in fact he is asking me to do is to state why the Government do any particular thing at any given time, when it is sometimes beyond the wit of man to know why the Government do a given thing at a given time. In fact, the Government are undoubtedly right in this matter, in that they are expressing opinion in Scotland. But sometimes the Scottish Office say it is a good thing that we should do something, because it has already been done in England. I remind your Lordships that on a previous occasion when I sought to get a little generosity in Scottish finance the argument which the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, advanced against me was that it could not be done because there must be uniformity with England. But in this matter, which perhaps touched on Scottish consciences rather than on Scottish purses, the Minister is quite willing that we should go our separate ways. I shall not reproach him because in this case he is doing what I think is right. That does not necessarily make it right; but it does mean that, if it comes to a Vote, two Scots of a sort, the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and myself might find ourselves in the other Lobby from that of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. I generally commend this Bill.
§ 4.20 p.m.
LORD STRATHEDEN AND CAMPBELL
My Lords, this Bill has obviously been the result of a great deal of consultation, as I think was made clear by my noble friend Lord Craigton, and is in fact a compromise and as such will be generally welcomed. But it cannot be described as being adventurous or great. Perhaps licensing is not the road to greatness, so maybe that is right. Before coming to the actual points in the Bill, I should like to put one matter to my noble friend, of which I gave him notice.
What is the position now, or what will be the position in the future, as regards the licensing at airports? The international airports, I assume, will remain the same as at present with permission to have twenty-four hour licence beyond the Customs line. But what about the internal or semi-internal airports, like Renfrew? The restaurant there, I suppose, will be covered as being an ordinary restaurant. After the new regulation came out I arrived at Renfrew Airport on a Sunday in time for lunch, but was not allowed a glass of beer with my lunch. I was told that the reason was that the manager of that particular airport restaurant did not live on the premises, and for some obscure reason that affected my glass of beer. I am not quite certain about Clause 19 (3), which says,occupies sleeping accommodation in a separate building, if he is provided with that accommodation in the course of a business of providing board and lodging".Whether that has anything to do with the case I found myself confronted with or whether it is some quite separate problem, I do not know. I should be grateful if my noble friend could give some explanation as to what the licensing position will be at airports.
I think that undoubtedly every Member of your Lordships' House will join with the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, in welcoming the disappearance of that absurd anomaly, the "bona fide traveller". But I wonder whether this Bill will not produce equal anomalies or difficulties. The one that first comes to mind when one looks through the Bill is the problem that the licensing courts will have, under Clause 6 (1) (i), in deciding when a public house has reasonably adapted 831 itself for serving a main meal, especially when one looks at Clause 19 (1) to see the definition of a "table meal". A table, apparently, can mean absolutely anything that will hold something that is not a drink being sold on top of it. If it holds a drink being sold on top of it, it is disqualified. Otherwise, it can be a counter; it can be a table; it can be any other structure. I see grave difficulties there for the licensing courts when they come to decide this problem.
The continued closing of public houses on Sundays is, I think, a great pity. It was recommended against by the Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Guest, and also, of course, there were other recommendations against it. It leads to a corollary of that: nothing has been done to stop the Sunday bus tours, which I think are understood by most of your Lordships and are a most deplorable aspect of the social life in some parts of Scotland. I think this stems directly from the refusal to allow the public houses to open on Sundays and what might well be the impossible position of the hotels. Then, again, stemming from this same subject—and this is the theme which runs all the way through the Bill and is the one aspect of the Bill open to question—is Clause 16. That, in my view, is regrettable. I say this, not because I have anything against the police. I am not getting at the police at all when I say this, because I have the closest and friendly relations, officially and otherwise, with the police. There is this restriction being imposed, I think entirely unnecessarily, because of this insistence that public houses cannot be opened as in England. I do not know how one could bring up the standard of the public house in Scotland, which one must admit is a quite different standard from that in England.
These are not really criticisms of Her Majesty's Government, because, as I have said, they have been forced into a compromise between what many people think would be a more enlightened policy, and views, very strongly held, which I cannot help feeling lead as often as not to a result which is the exact opposite to that which is intended. But we have advanced, I think, several steps, and I certainly support the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ 4.28 p.m.
THE EARL OF HADDINGTON
My Lords, I rise for a few moments only to support the noble Lord who has moved the Second Reading of this Bill. I came here prepared to support him, and nothing that I have heard in the speeches which we have had this afternoon has made me change my mind one iota. I want to congratulate the Government on bringing in this useful and timely legislation for Scotland. I think that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has been extremely bold in tackling this problem and extremely wise in solving it, because I believe he has solved it to the gratification of the majority in Scotland. I read one newspaper which put it this way: that Mr. Maclay is the first Secretary of State really to grasp this nettle, a thorny problem; and that may well be the case.
As I see it, he had three courses open to him. He could have opened the public houses on Sunday with permitted hours as well as on weekdays, in spite of the recommendation of the Guest Committee; but who really wanted that? As noble Lords have all said this afternoon, certainly the Church did not want it; I do not think that the majority of the owners of public houses wanted the extra working day; I am sure they did not. And I am quite certain that the majority of people in Scotland did not want it. If you had a referendum in Scotland today you would get an overwhelming majority against making any drastic change in the traditional Scottish Sunday; I am absolutely convinced of that.
The fanatical days of Sabbatarianism are over, and maybe it is a good thing too. We read in the Graham's Social Life of Scotland, a most excellent book, no doubt familiar to many of your Lordships, the amusing account of the vigilant patrol of elders who paced the streets, peering in through the windows on Sundays to see whether people were going to church; and how the minister at Forfar in 1720, before getting ready for his service, found two persons actually drinking ale in their house, in another house a man sitting with his coat off, in another a parishoner eating his dinner, and in several more parishoners looking, out of the window. What heinous crimes they were in those days ! All were summoned before the kirk session to give account of their sins. Happily, those days are over. 833 But still, I feel—I think this applies not only to Scotland, but to England and everywhere—that whatever brand our religion may be, whether or not we have a religion, we should keep one day in the week a little different from the others, even if only from the point of view of varying the monotony of the week.
The second course open to my right honourable friend was that he could have had local option as has been decided upon in Wales. But I cannot believe that what suits Wales may equally well suit Scotland. It seems to me a patchy and unsatisfactory system of dealing with this question. Surely it would have been open to much the same abuses as this farcical bona fide traveller system which has been spoken about this afternoon. The third alternative, and the one which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State chose, I believe rightly, was to limit Sunday drinking to hotels and clubs, which, as has already been said, have a far more congenial atmosphere and are much better suited to Sunday social life than most of the public houses in Scotland.
In this matter we must think particularly of our young people. Do they want to spend their Sundays sitting drinking in public houses? Not only is it not good for them, but I do not think they want to do it. Surely they look for better kinds of recreation than that. If, at present, there is a lack of such facilities, as there may well be, I hope it will not be long before those other recreational facilities come along. In any case, we do not want public houses to remedy that deficiency. I must take up the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, on one point. He seems most concerned about the number of public houses and hotels and the number of people who want these facilities in Glasgow. Surely he is taking his figures per head of the population. The noble Lord speaks of 41,000 people to an hotel. But how many of those 41,00 people want to go drinking on Sunday? Half of these people will be under age—they will not be adults, nor will they want to drink, in any case. Of the other half, how many will want to go drinking?
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, surely the noble Earl, Lord Haddington, is missing the point: that there are forty 834 times as many people who will have to get into any given hotel as will have to get into any given public house, because the figure which I quoted of a public house for every 1,000 persons in Glasgow also meant a public house for every 1,000 men, women and children. And I doubt very much whether any Glasgow hotel is able to take as many as forty times the average number in a public house.
THE EARL OF HADDINGTON
I understand the noble Lord's point; but, after all, anybody who cannot get into his own local public house on a Sunday because it is closed and cannot go to an hotel can surely make some provision for over week-end drinking on the day before, when he can get it.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, if the noble Earl will allow me to interrupt him again, may I say that that was exactly the suggestion made in Bridgeton when they were pointing out that they had no local facilities—that they should go down in a bus and drink in an hotel at Kilmacolm, which I understand is where the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State lives.
THE EARL OF HADDINGTON
I see the noble Lord's point and I am sorry that Glasgow has not sufficient hotels; but one day she will have more suitable hotels. I cannot quite align myself with my noble friend Lord Stratheden and Campbell regarding Clause 16. He did not like the idea of the police being able to enter clubs and inspect them. I agree that it seems rather bad to spoil our freedom in that way. On the other hand, what is the use of making any laws unless you can do something to enforce them? Any registered club which is worthy of its name should manage its affairs and should have no fear for the future. That really is all I have to say. I am afraid I have contributed little to the debate on this Bill. But I want most sincerely to support the Government in what they have done. I feel it is a sensible Bill; it is a good compromise. It will be of benefit to the country and I believe it is really going to please the majority. I hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I should like to join with the many noble Lords who have, in a general way, congratulated the Government on this Bill. I feel, further to what the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, said, that we owe a great deal to the Committee of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Guest, not only for the common sense and the wisdom with which they have dealt with the problem, but also for the speed with which they have produced this first Report, so soon, in terms of comparable Committees, after their appointment. The Bill and its precursor spring from general indignation at the beastiality—there is no other word for it, especially on Sundays—which has become widespread as the licensing laws were overtaken by the motor vehicle. I use the word "overtaken" rather than "outrun", but they mean mainly the same thing. This indignation was crystallised finally by a strongly worded resolution of a country presbytery; and although the Church of Scotland can claim some measure of credit in this respect, it must be remembered that the indignation was general throughout the country.
Of course there has been, and is, wide divergence of view as to the best means of dealing with the matter. We have seen here this evening two elders of the kirk, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and myself, disagree over the details of the matter, but I think we are together with the noble Earl who has just spoken in supporting the action of the Government in making a decision and getting on with it. Conditions vary so markedly as between village and city, or between rural area and industrial area, even between North and South, that although I welcome the Bill, I regard it as a stepping stone for further relaxation when the time is ripe. But in my view that time is many, many years away. I am confident that the way to a temperate people lies in education and tolerance and improved living conditions rather than in prohibitions.
Like most Scots, I like my dram, but, also like most Scots to-day, I despise and detest drunkenness. The conditions which made intoxication a release from misery or a relief from physical discomfort are gone. Let us hope that a generation is growing up which will scorn the rowdy boozing which at one time was 836 accepted as inseparable from any Scottish celebration. I am minded of a bit of patter of Harry Lauder's which dates so much:I canna' weel mind whether it was a wedding or a funeral, but anyway it was a gran' success.This does not now apply. There are always rowdies, and genuine alarm is rising about alcohol as a temptation for the young, but there are only some types of young people who are involved in this, and I refuse to believe that these are more than a minority. I agree with the noble Earl who has just spoken that, as a whole, the young people to-day are sensible, and I long for the time when men and womenmay drink, if drink they must, in a civilised way.I quote from a letter in the Glasgow Herald.
As noble Lords have said, the Bill, as was in a way inevitable, is a compromise, and a wise compromise. I feel, though, it will be improved by its passage through Parliament. I have one general and one particular suggestion to make to that end. I will not weary your Lordships with anecdotes and accounts of the many talks with people of all walks of life—with publicans, brewers, policemen and other law officers—which I have had, but no one who like myself lives in a country area within easy reach of an industrial system can be ignorant of the boozing bus-party problem to which I intend to devote most of my time.
Paragraph 44 of the Guest Committee's Report contains these words, with reference to this boozing bus-party business:We think that it has in some areas become a firm habit which is unlikely to disappear rapidly".Now I, for one, should have thought that the opening of public houses on Sunday might have contributed to this end, or even that an option to the publican would have been possible; but then I do not live in a densely populated industrial area. And I am satisfied, like the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, with the decision of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State that public houses should remain closed on Sundays. As noble Lords have said, we must remember that the public house in Scotland is often just an unsavoury drinking booth, but great strides are being made to improve conditions. 837 Here, I believe, tribute should be given to the brewers and their tied houses for the valuable lead that they are giving in this respect. I agree very strongly with what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said, that the time will come when the condition of the public house must be a consideration in deciding whether it should be open on Sundays or not. At the same time, it is fair to remember that climatic conditions have a very great bearing on the subject. It is but seldom—and this summer I recall no occasion—that I have sat in the sun with a pot of beer in my hand, and cold and rough weather are much more the rule; hence, apart from habit and tradition, spirits are one of the problems.
But to return to the bus party. I reach my main criticism of the Bill—namely, the absence of provisions to restrain the the carriage of liquor on public vehicles. The Guest Committee in Sections 45 and 46 definitely recommend that power should be taken to restrain this and they believe that it would be practicable. They say in paragraph 46:It seems to us, however, that it would be practicable, and certainly desirable, to devise measures which, while not preventing activities such as these, would nevertheless check the grosser abuses which occur on Sundays and to a lesser extent on week-days. With that object in view we recommend that it should be an offence to consume liquor on any public service vehicle".It goes on in the same strain and recommends that power should be taken to prevent the carrying of cased liquor on buses. I urge my noble friend to look into this matter again. Although I am aware that some officials contend it cannot be provided against by law, it is something which the Guest Committee, with their widespread and great knowledge, considered could be done.
Arising out of this, I have a specific suggestion to make which concerns Section 151 of the principal Act, and which says:If any person attempts to enter a public house while in a state of intoxication, he shall be guilty of an offence".What I have to say arises out of a publican asking me: "Suppose I get an order for 35 high teas at 5.30 on Sunday and prepare accordingly. Then a bus drives up in which half of the passengers are the worst for drink. What do I do?". He was a small man, I may 838 say. He said: "Do I refuse them admittance and risk a fight and lose £10 or more which I have laid out, or do I let them in and give them a good tea?". He went on to say:If I turn them out they will just go out of the borough, open up the boot and get on with their drinking".This, I believe, is where Section 151 of the principal Act comes in, and may I urge upon my noble friend that that section should be looked at? Later I will propose an addition to it, but at this stage I would say, arising out of my story, that the Government should consider that it should be rigidly enforced with every policeman at the Government's disposal on the first Sunday after the new regulations come into force. I believe that, by a firm approach right at the beginning of the introduction of the new regulations, this business of boozing bus parties can be so discouraged as to convince them that it will no longer be tolerated by the country as a whole.
This brings me to my specific suggestion, and I should like to mention the figures concerning the number of public houses in, shall we say, Glasgow. My own view is that if this Bill becomes law in its present form we shall see a rapid increase in the drinking club. It is here where I suggest that, if that is going to be the case—and whether it is going to be the case or not—the words "or club" should be inserted in Section 151, and perhaps even "restaurant" if one visualises a bus party arriving for a meal at a restaurant which is not licensed. It should be an offence for anyone to endeavour to enter such a place while under the influence of drink. Indeed, the word "hotel" might have to be added there. But I have made the point that in my view grave discouragement can be given to this particular form of trouble if, right at the beginning of the new regulations, the people who are in public vehicles and are the worse for drinking receive fairly fierce treatment. Especially, of course, would this be effective if my noble friend could keep liquor off the vehicles. There would then be nothing in the boot, if they went outside the borough to open it. Incidentally, on the subject of Section 151 (2), is the maximum fine for this offence—namely, 40s.—high enough in terms of present money values? As 839 related to liquor, I think it is probably less than the price of a bottle of whisky.
Speaking of the power of the police to enter clubs, I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Haddington, that there is no reason why a policeman should not be empowered to enter a club. The curious situation produced by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, tempts me to go into Anglo-Scottish recriminations, but I will not. Nevertheless, we are talking about Scotland and the Scottish law, and I see no reason why the police should not have this power, if only because the well-run club has nothing to fear. If, perhaps, some compromise is possible, it might be that the police should have powers to enter the club only during licensed hours or a quarter of an hour either side. Perhaps that would meet the difficulty in a satisfactory way.
As to Clause 14, I think that the provisions with regard to liqueur chocolates are welcome, because I am aware that this problem with young people is giving some kind of anxiety. I am informed that the provisions in subsection (1) are perfectly practicable from the point of view of the manufacturers in Scotland. The difficulty, of course, will be the retailers' judgment under subsection (2) as to the age of the purchasers, who should not be less than 16, but this is no more difficult than the retailers' compliance with the provisions of the Tobacco Act.
In conclusion, my Lords, I would mention what the noble Lord the Minister of State said about churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike not wanting to see any dramatic change in the Scottish Sabbath. Living where I do, and conscious as I am of the trouble with the bus party, I would regard the removal of the same as a dramatic and welcome change so far as we are concerned. The matters of hours, drinking up times and so on, seem reasonable. Indeed, it must be seldom that a compromise measure, especially one based on what—as the noble Earl, Lord Haddington, said—was a courageous decision by the Secretary of State for Scotland, can have had such general acceptance by the public as a whole. I welcome the Bill, and hope my noble friend will look into my particular suggestion regarding subsection (1) of Section 151 of the principal Act, and my general criticism on the subject of liquor carried in public vehicles. I 840 will certainly support the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ 4.53 p.m.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, it is probably fair to say that this Bill has been welcomed with faint praise, and I am afraid I am going to do much the same. Like everyone else, I, of course, commend the abolition of the "bona fide traveller" regulation. This is a relic of the nineteenth century which, in the middle of the twentieth century, we can well do without. The,words "literally", "truthfully" and "bona fide" always seem to me to be the preparation for some enormous lie, and the "bona fide traveller" was no exception to the general rule. I think that nowadays the "bona fide traveller" would usually travel about 3½ to 4 miles, with only one purpose—that is, to get a drink. I am sure that no one will regret his passing.
I also commend the changes in the hours permitted for off-sales. I think the Government have probably chosen the right hours. To please the grocers, I am told one has to sell from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but if one made 6 p.m. the end of the off-sales hours it would penalise the normal, licensed establishment—the public house and the restaurant. They very often also have a thriving off-sales trade, and find it convenient to sell their bottles of wines and spirits during the same hours as their pub-side is open; therefore they would undoubtedly want to go on until 10 p.m., as the Bill will now allow them to do. I also think, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, that the seasonal certificates will be useful. Many of the hotels which depend entirely on the tourist trade and are open residentially only during the summer have at present to keep their bars open during the winter in order to get their seven-day licence, and I am sure they will be most grateful if this obligation is no longer put on them. I therefore welcome that, too.
My Lords, this Bill is based on, but does not entirely follow, the recommendations of the Committee of which the noble Lord, Lord Guest, was Chairman, and one of the unanimous recommendations, as everyone else has already said, was that public houses and all licensed premises should be open on a Sunday. This Bill has taken the opposite 841 view and is not allowing public houses to open. We have heard arguments both for and against, but I should like to pursue one of those arguments a little further. It is, of course, mostly in the rural districts, as was shown in the plebiscite in Wales, that people do not want their public houses open on a Sunday. It is also the case in Scotland that approximately 95 per cent. of the public houses are in large towns or cities, and there are virtually (I use the word "virtually" having damned it before) no public houses as such in the rural areas. It seems to me that the Government, by taking their present attitude, have got the worst of both worlds.
The places where undoubtedly people would be grateful for no drinking establishments being open on a Sunday are the rural areas, where there are no public houses anyway, so there will be just as many places open on Sundays as there are on weekdays. The places where people would be grateful for Sunday opening are the large towns and cities, where all the public houses in Scotland are, and they are the very places where there is going to be a great shortage of drinking facilities on Sundays. In my opinion, this can lead only to a certain amount of drunken driving, because people from the large towns will head out to the rural hotels and then head back at 9 o'clock or 9.30 at night in a state in which they probably are not fit to drive their motor cars. It is much better to let them drink on their own doorsteps and in their own public houses, even if these public houses are not so attractive as we should undoubtedly all like. I hope the Government have not made their final decision, or, if they have, that it will not be accepted on this particular subject, because I feel that they have probably decided wrongly and that it will lead to even worse problems than the present "bona fide traveller" rule.
I would point out that there is one other reason, which the Guest Committee set out so charmingly in these words:There is also the point that in some areas it is the practice for hotels and public houses to be frequented by different social groups, and the grant of permitted hours to one only of these two types of establishment might be felt to be a social injustice.This, I think, is perfectly true. Wherever you get hotels and public houses in the same area, you always find a completely 842 different sort of clientele in the various premises. I think not only that it would be a social injustice but also that the people who normally frequent a public house may not at all like frequenting an hotel, and would therefore make an attempt to get their drinks in some other way, probably by joining one of those exceptionally bogus drinking clubs which we know spring up whenever there is any form of restriction on drink on a Sunday.
There is one other fairly minor point. During the course of the week a public house or a restaurant can stay open until 3 p.m.: on Sundays, a restaurant can serve drinks only until 2.30 p.m. ft has always seemed to me—and I know this applies to England as well as to Scotland—illogical that one should be allowed less drinking time at the end of one's lunch on a Sunday than on a weekday. On a weekday—I say this in case the Government are not aware of it—most of us have work to do. Therefore, not only do we not have the time to drink after about 2 p.m. but, if we did drink, the results would probably be disastrous to our work. On the other hand, on a Sunday most people can retire into a blissful coma after lunch with the News of the World, or, at the very worst, they can play a round of golf. Therefore, it would not really have mattered if they had had the extra drinking time. If it is necessary for people to go on drinking until 3 p.m. on weekdays (which, personally, I should rather doubt) I should have thought that it was even more necessary that they should be allowed to continue drinking until 3 p.m. on Sundays. I should like to know what the Government's reaction would be to an Amendment to that effect.
There is one other recommendation of the Guest Committee which, so far as I can see, is not incorporated in the Bill, and that is paragraph 49. The Guest Committee suggested that the ban on vessels plying between the Scottish mainland and the islands, and around the Scottish mainland, serving drinks on a Sunday should be abolished. I would strongly recommend that this advice be followed. I think virtually the only vessels this would affect are the Clyde steamers. If you want to go on a Sunday from the mainland to Rothesay, you would embark on the boat at Gourock instead of Wemyss Bay, which would not 843 only take twice as long but would cost twice as much, and you would not even be able to get a drink to assuage the pangs of sea-sickness as you sailed out across the Kyles of Bute. I cannot believe that it would cause any harm or lead to any trouble if this recommendation were followed; nor do I believe it would be at all difficult to implement.
My Lords, I said at the beginning that, like most other people, I was going to welcome this Bill with faint praise, but I do not, however, want my praise to be too faint. Because for as long as I can remember, the licensing laws in Scotland have been universally acknowledged to be in need of revision. I think it has also been recognised that almost any alteration, bar total prohibition, would be an improvement, and no one can deny that this Bill is that. Therefore I hope that this Bill will get a Second Reading, and I also hope that it will suffer some major Amendments in Committee.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, all noble Lords who have so far taken part in this debate to-day are, I believe, at present resident in Scotland. I speak as something of an exile from my native land, but I feel that a few words on this Bill might not be inappropriate. I think the first thing which can be said is that the Bill will help the tourist industry to quite a large extent. I welcome especially the clarification of how one can obtain drinks with a meal at an hotel, and the fact that one can entertain a guest or a friend during normal hours. Scottish hospitality has always been exceptionally good, and I have always regarded Scottish cooking as superior to that of any other nation. I have also always held the view that the dangers of drunkenness, particularly on the roads, are occasioned when people have not had a meal. The most dangerous period is probably the time of the midday cocktail party. Now that one can have an honest-to-goodness Scottish luncheon washed down with the necessary wine, I think the dangers of drunken driving on the roads will be considerably lessened.
Reference has been made to the continued closing of pubs in Scotland on a Sunday. I agree with the view that a 844 national plebiscite would be very difficult, because in Wales there are very much more definite religious factions than in Scotland. I am not at all sure that I particularly agree in any case with the Welsh plebiscite, and certainly in Scotland I really do not think that it would be a practicable proposition. I am not very happy about some of the provisions in Clause 12. I am all for keeping young people sober, but I felt in the main licensing Bill, which was debated in your Lordships' House last summer, and I feel it more strongly here, that to ban a youngster under eighteen from buying a bottle of drink from an off-licence seems illogical. Supposing, for example, he wanted to go to buy two bottles of orangeade and a bottle of white wine, as I understand it, under the provisions of this Bill he could not do so. I entirely support the view that he should not get a drink at the bar, but purchasing a bottle over the counter seems rather a different matter. I think it is unlikely that a youngster would go outside the shop, open the bottle—he would probably need a corkscrew anyway—and drink from it on his way home. Therefore, I think Clause 12 needs looking into again in that respect.
I am particularly glad to see the more detailed proposals on liqueur chocolates, as was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Ferrier. In the Second Reading of the main Licensing Bill I criticised the clause in that Bill relating to liqueur chocolates; but the clause in this Bill has been made very much more specific, and I certainly agree with the provisions of the clause in this Bill. I would end by saying just a word about public transport. I, too, am sorry that the recommendations of the Guest Committee in paragraphs 45 and 46 of their Report have not been taken up. I am all for coach parties. They enable people who probably cannot afford expensive hotels to see the beauties of the Highlands. But the behaviour of some of these coach and bus parties, where liquor is taken on board, does sometimes leave something to be desired. I saw an instance of this only two years ago in Argyllshire, where a hotel was very badly damaged when such people entered it. I do not think that this applies to the vast majority of coach parties. I have seen a number of them 845 in Scotland, and the majority are extremely well-behaved, but the very few "black sheep" can do a lot of damage. I would ask the Government to look at these recommendations again to see whether they cannot be implemented at a later stage of the Bill.
With regard to clubs, I entirely agree with the proposals in this Bill that a police officer should be able to enter a club without a warrant, but I wonder whether there should not be some limit as to experience. It might not perhaps be such a good thing for a very young and inexperienced constable to do this. Possibly a policeman with the rank of sergeant or above could be made responsible for what could be a very tricky job. With these reservations, I commend this Bill, which removes a number of anomalies in the Scottish licensing laws, which I referred to during the debate on the gracious Speech as "grotesque". I can now tone down that word considerably. I support those noble Lords on both sides of the House who have commended the Bill.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ LORD STRATHCLYDE
My Lords, I rise to say a few words in support of this Bill, which is not to be wondered at when every noble Lord who has taken part in this debate has given his support to it. I think that this is quite extraordinary in the consideration of a Licensing (Scotland) Bill. The noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, spoke of the Bill's being received with faint praise. Well, I wonder. When we consider the reception the Bill has had in the country and in your Lordships' House this afternoon, I think it is something quite astonishing, and almost without precedent in our annals.
I should like to congratulate the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State and my noble friend who introduced the Bill in your Lordships' House on the Bill itself, because it requires a great deal of courage to introduce a Bill of this nature, which is received with quite different feelings by different parts of the community where opinions are very strongly held either one way or the other. The fact that the Bill has received so little criticism is a tribute to the manner in which the Bill has been drafted. I would express my thanks to the Minister of State for the very clear 846 terms in which he introduced the Bill and express equally my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, who gave us a masterly exposition of the contents of the Bill. I am sure that we shall welcome the next time he appears on the Front Opposition Bench to deal with a Scottish matter.
It seems to me that there are three matters in the Bill which have received most attention in this debate. First, there is the entry of the police into club premises without the necessity of a warrant. On that, we have differing views. For instance, the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack, who has been quoted to us by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, holds one view, and other views have been expressed. I have no doubt at all that the right honourable gentleman, the Secretary of State, and those who assist him have gone into this matter thoroughly, but I think that in view of the different opinions held and expressed this afternoon, another look might be given at this matter.
Then there is the question of bus parties, of Whether something might not be done to restrict parties carrying liquor in buses, in the boot. Of course, gentlemen who have hip pockets can always carry a considerable amount of liquor with them. I think we have to look into this from a practical point of view. Is it possible in any way to stop these people from carrying liquor with them or from drinking in buses? I doubt it very much. I have no doubt that my noble friend the Minister of State and his right honourable friend have given consideration to this problem. No doubt my noble friend will express his opinion when he comes to wind up the debate.
The third matter is the opening of public-houses on Sunday. Here, again, different opinions have been expressed this afternoon. My principal objection to the opening of public-houses on Sundays is the miserable state of the great majority of our public-houses. If they were of the same character as public-houses in many parts of England, I would make no objection whatsoever to their being open on Sundays. But to think of young people going into these miserable places, nothing more or less than drinking dens, is something which we should all deplore. It seems to me 847 that in this connection the Minister of State might have another look at the matter.
I have been a member of a licensing court. I do not like licensing courts very much; nevertheless, I think that there may be something in the suggestion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. If a public-house were put in such a condition as to make it a reasonable place for young people to go to, it might be that a licence should be granted to such place. May I say, in passing, that most of our public-houses are incapable of being in that position? What we need is to wipe them out and build new ones. Nevertheless, it may be of help if reasonably-conditioned public-houses were to be granted a licence for opening on Sundays, and this might well be an appropriate matter to hand over to the licensing courts. I express no real opinion on the subject. I merely ask that my noble friend should have a look at this matter again and see if there is anything in the suggestion which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has made. I will not detain your Lordships any longer. I wish the Bill well and again congratulate my noble friend on his presentation of it.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
My Lords, I am deeply grateful for the welcome given to this Bill, and if I do not deal, as I do not think that your Lordships would expect me to, with all the points which have been raised, I will write to the noble Lords concerned. I would sum up the debate in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, who described the Bill as "a wise compromise". I think that that is the general view of your Lordships. I agree with my noble friend Lord Strathclyde that, because drink is such a contentious matter, the support given to the Bill, both in your Lordships' House and in the country, has been, to use my noble friend's words, "quite extraordinary". May I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, on his appearance at the Despatch Box to-day? I think that this is the first time that he has spoken from the Front Opposition Bench and I hope that it will not be the last. I am grateful for the welcome he gave to the Bill on behalf of the Opposition. He will not want me to 848 stand a drink to his false or noble friends as well as to his private friends!—
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Silkin has said that an obvious interpretation is lady friends.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
—or lady friends. What we want to prevent is drinking by the "jolly old pals", who meet on the premises and masquerade as old friends under the influence of one or one-and-a-half more than they ought to have. I understand that the English Bill has the same wording. The noble Lord made a number of Committee points and had a number of queries on drafting into which I shall look. In regard to the question of residents' guests and private friends paying for drinks themselves, if the clause means what the noble Lord thinks, it will have to be altered, because that is not the intention; but I do not think that that is what it means. On the noble Lord's point about packed lunches, I would say that it is a little difficult to explain this matter briefly. If you are living in an hotel, the hotel-keeper knows who you are when you want to take a lunch out, but if you go to a restaurant and ask for a packed lunch and a bottle of whisky how does the restaurant-keeper know whether all you want is simply to buy a bottle of whisky?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
I will write to the noble Lord and try to convince him that that matter has not been overlooked. The noble Lord also raised a query about substantial refreshment supplied during special functions to which the sale or supply of liquor is ancillary. The point is that functions do not always take place in premises with a suitable kitchen, and for that reason only a "substantial meal" is a little loosely defined, as I think it must be.
On the question of Sunday drinking, I felt that the view of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was typical of the view of Scotland. He liked the "half hog" in his heart, but his view, as a good Scot, was Scotland's view, and, speaking from the Benches opposite, he had to say that 849 we should have a measure based on the national interest and should open the pubs. He said that we had taken the easy way out, but he was honest enough to say that the best way in the national interest was not the way he personally would have liked to be taken. I think that we in Scotland agree with that view.
My noble friend the Duke of Atholl said that the half-way house was a social injustice and implied that there was one law for the rich and one for the poor. Well, no pubs are open on Sundays at the present time, and his implication will be even less correct when hotels and licensed restaurants can serve the local people. I fully appreciate that those services, though they will certainly be better than they are now, will not in some areas be so widespread and perhaps so cheap as if the pubs were open as well. But we are satisfied that, in making great social changes which affect long established habits and principles, this Government, and, indeed, any Govment, should not try to move faster or further than the general consensus of public opinion. And, just as the general consensus of public opinion recently approved the opening of betting shops, so in the case of this Bill I am convinced that the majority of Scottish people are with us in opening licensed hotels and restaurants for a limited period and keeping the pubs closed on Sundays. My noble friends Lord Haddington and Lord Strathclyde, gave convincing and, I think, adequate answers why Scotland generally does not want the pubs opened on Sundays.
But then the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, made the narrower but important point that what we propose to do will not reduce the amount of travelling to drink; and it is travelling to drink that is so worrying to us. It is a matter of degree. It was always necessary for some people to travel to drink, because there cannot be licensed premises near everybody's house. It is inherent in the licensing system that the number of premises should be controlled. We agree with the noble Lord that, especially in Glasgow and in some other big cities, the situation will not be what may be desired. But the point is that, while there will probably be some travelling to drink, what we are removing from the law is the nonsense that makes it necessary in order to get a drink on Sunday 850 that you must travel quite a considerable distance or perjure yourself by saying that you have done so when you have not.
The noble Lord, in a constructive attempt to suggest something—and my noble friend Lord Strathclyde also referred to this—asked: why not let the licensing courts decide whether to open the pubs on Sunday? Should they not be given the power to decide whether the pubs, or some pubs, should open on Sunday? I suppose it would follow that the same discretion should apply to hotels, except in relation to residents. This might put the courts in a difficult position. They would have, as the noble Lord knows, conflicting views before them, including the strongly expressed Sabbatarian view that there should be no Sunday opening at all. If they decide that there should be restrictive provisions, how are they to select between one certificate holder and another? This looks an attractive idea, but there seem to be some substantial difficulties about it; and there may even be some risk that some areas would go completely dry on Sundays, and to that extent the problem of travelling to drink would be perpetuated. But I am grateful to the noble Lord for his suggestion, and I can assure him that we will consider it.
Then the noble Lord poked a little fun, and I must poke a little fun back at the noble Lord. In talking about closed public houses, he said: will they not go to the hotel at Kilmacolm if they cannot find an hotel in Glasgow? I would remind the noble Lord that Kilmacolm is a dry area as a result of a Resolution passed in 1920. The noble Lord poked fun at my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack about police entry into clubs in Scotland. Both noble Lords know that England is England and Scotland is Scotland, and what is right for one is not necessarily right for the other, especially, as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said, when it comes to matters of conscience. I am sure that the Guest Committee would not have made their recommendation unless they were satisfied that there was no alternative method of ensuring that the law was enforced. The recommendation has received a warm welcome, both in Scotland and here, by my noble friends Lord Haddington and Lord 851 Ferrier. I am sure the police will go about their business with their usual tact and courtesy and, if the club is properly run, it has nothing to fear.
My noble friend Lord Auckland thought that the Government were not justified in preventing youngsters of eighteen carrying out liquor from off-sale premises; and I think he said that unless parents can send youngsters to purchase liquor for the home we should be unduly hampering the off-sale trade and people might not be able to do the shopping for themselves. Young people, particularly teenagers, have more spending money than they had before the war, and the advertising profession have been quick to recognise this. Before the war it was pretty safe to assume that anyone under eighteen who bought drink in bottles was buying it for his parents and not for himself. But this is no longer the case; and there is, of course, no method of distinguishing between purchases made with and those made without parental authority. So the position is this. It is the accepted principle that youngsters under eighteen ought not to be allowed to purchase liquor for their own consumption, except only that youngsters over sixteen who buy a drink with their meal can buy cider if they want it. But because young people now have more money to spend, the law can no longer achieve this; and if we are to achieve it, as we should, it can only be done at the expense of preventing the present use of youngsters as carriers of drink.
It is not that we have any widespread evidence that young people are buying drinks off-sale for their own consumption. But such evidence is difficult to obtain, and we have been guided to some extent by the Standing Consultative Council on Youth Service in Scotland, the Kilbrandon Council, who are concerned and have requested the Secretary of State to legislate. This request, the basic "no drinks under eighteen" principle, and the fact that the English Act of 1961 has already changed the law in this way, give little alternative, as I think the noble Lord will agree, to putting similar provisions in our Scottish Bill, in spite of the inconvenience they may cause.
To turn to State management, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, raised a point 852 about that, and I think I should make the position clear. The Bill does not deal with State management as such, but it makes one important change in the arrangements for the sale of liquor in State management districts. As your Lordships know, Clause 1 of the Bill creates two new types of certificates: a restaurant certificate which permits the sale of drinks with meals, and a restricted hotel certificate which permits not only a licensed restaurant but also the service of drinks to residents and their friends. Drinking in these circumstances is a thing apart from drinking in bars, and as a reflection of that principle Clause 2 (5) if the Bill makes a relaxation in the Secretary of State's control over the sale of liquor in State management districts. In such districts holders of the proposed new restaurant and restricted hotel certificates need not obtain authority from the Secretary of State to sell liquor. Furthermore, holders of these certificates will be eligible for special permissions to sell liquor outwith the permitted hours or in premises other than their own (Clause 2 (3) of the Bill); so they will also be able to undertake catering at "wet" functions. This change will introduce a measure of competition in the sale of liquor in State management districts, and will, I am sure, be welcomed by hotel and catering interests. To the extent that the new certificates are granted by local licensing courts, it will be easier for tourists to have a drink if they stop either for a meal or overnight. I would point out to your Lordships that this is a parallel relaxation to that given for the Carlisle district in 1961.
Now I turn to two matters which are not in the Bill, and which your Lordships felt ought to be in the Bill. The noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, referred to Guest Committee's recommendation, No. 8, to the effect that the Customs and Excise power to prohibit the supply of liquor on Sundays in passenger vessels in Scotland should be repealed. I would tell him that this power, which is invariably exercised, was introduced in 1882 to deal with drunkenness and disorderly conduct which took place on Clyde steamers. Had we agreed with Sunday opening for public houses we should, I think, have felt it proper also to implement this recommendation. But as we have not 853 done so, it follows that this recommendation also should not be implemented.
I come now to a point raised by my noble friends Lord Stratheden and Campbell and Lord Ferrier about the "boozing bus parties", as they called them, and also by my noble friends Lord Auckland and Lord Strathclyde. The second recommendation, No. 7, is that the carriage of liquor in quantity and the consumption of liquor on buses should be an offence. I find this a very interesting question. I have already referred to the annoyance caused in country areas by bus parties, and I hope I have put the problem in its true perspective. The Committee felt, and the Government agree with them, that the abolition of the traveller provision by itself, though a great help, would not cause this nuisance to stop at once. The Government are in full sympathy with the desire of the Guest Committee to make some provision additional to the abolition of the traveller provision which would strike more directly at this sort of behaviour. So I have to explain to your Lordships why we consider, with sincere regret, that we cannot give effect to this proposal. My noble friend Lord Strathclyde I think knew that this was going to be the answer. First, we have found insuperable difficulty in the drafting of acceptable and enforceable criminal offences. One does not lightly create criminal offences, and where one does one must be satisfied, apart from any question of enforceability, that they do not put innocent parties at risk or unduly interfere with the liberty of the subject, and that they are in such a form that the public can understand both their purpose and their effect. Frankly, we have been unable to find a form of words that does these necessary things and also meets the Committee's recommendations.
The first leg of the Guest recommendation is that consumption on all buses, whether providing a bus service in the normal way or when hired by parties, should be prohibited. Such drinking—and the prohibition would have to apply to any drinking, and not only excessive or disorderly drinking—may on occasion, I agree, be an annoyance to other passengers. But the Government had doubts whether, in order to get at a disorderly few, there was a case for the serious step of making it a criminal 854 offence. If the bus is hired by a party—usually a party of people of like interests and like tastes—how is the provision to be enforced? The passengers will not enforce it, and such buses do not as a rule carry conductors, and the driver must devote his whole attention to the road.
The practical difficulties of the second leg of the recommendation, that it should be an offence to carry liquor in quantity on a bus hired by a party, seemed to the Government to be even more serious. As the Committee accepted, it would not be practicable, to ensure enforcement of the law, to give someone powers to search passengers' pockets and personal baggage. But without such powers, it would be possible to evade the law by "breaking bulk" and dividing the liquor among the passengers. And how is "in quantity" to be defined, and to whom is the offence to be applied? If we limit each individual passenger to, say, so many bottles, then unless that amount is unreasonably small the total quantity that can be carried on the vehicle will be pretty substantial. If we limit the amount which the operator can carry in the bus, how is he to establish easily what quantity each of his passengers is carrying, and what will he do if he finds too much? It is hardly conceivable that he should have to sit down with his passengers, none of whom need have had any foreknowledge of what the others were bringing, and work out a ration for each of them.
My Lords, the Committee's recommendations may have two legs, but I can assure your Lordships that it is a nonstarter. Even if we could find the right words, the question of enforcement would be equally troublesome. Disorderly conduct by bus parties, unless it is of a comparatively trivial nature, is already a criminal offence, as my noble friend Lord Ferrier pointed out, and the police, so far as they can, ensure by warnings and by prosecution, where appropriate, that the law is enforced. But the police cannot be everywhere, and it is very difficult for them to enforce the law in a case like this where vehicles—often moving vehicles—are concerned. In its essence, this is a problem of enforcing the present criminal law, and when the only solution lies in creating new offences which will be no easier to enforce it is no solution at all.
855 The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, made a constructive suggestion that Section 151 of the 1959 Act should be looked at. We will certainly look sympathetically at what the noble Lord has said. My noble friend the Duke of Atholl was worried about permitted hours on Sunday. We have followed the Guest recommendations and agree with them. But on the Committee stage—
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord because I feel I did not make myself clear? I would much rather that the permitted hours on weekdays ended at 2.30 rather than that the permitted hours on Sundays were extended to 3 o'clock. I cannot see the logic of being allowed half an hour less after lunch to drink your glass of brandy than you are allowed on a weekday.
§ LORD FRASER OF NORTH CAPE
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Duke? There are the staff also who on Sunday want to go into a coma after lunch.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
My Lords, all I was going to say was that we depart here from what is in the English Act. But the Committee stage is still to come, 856 and we must, and do, approach all these arguments with an open mind. My noble friend Lord Stratheden and Campbell is right about the permitted hours in airports. International airports remain the same, and other airports will have the new permitted hours; so I hope he gets his glass of beer next time. My noble friend referred to Clause 19 (3). That is not a reference to that at all. That is simply to ensure that hotel residents include those who now live in the rather popular separate chalets. My Lords, I look forward to the next stage of the Bill, and I am very grateful indeed for your Lordships' support and interest.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.