HL Deb 23 March 1976 vol 369 cc535-6

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Council on Alcoholism will be among those organisations consulted about the disposal of the £4,200,000 in the Licensing Compensation Fund.


My Lords, our consultations will in the first instance be with those directly involved in the operation of the funds, including the brewing industry and the licensed trade who have contributed the money. This in no way prejudices our eventual decisions about the disposal of this money and the purpose for which it should be used.


My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. First, can he please tell me the names of the people with whom he has been consulting? Secondly, is he aware that I believe the Brewers' Society have been in touch with the Home Office over the disposal of this money, and have agreed that quite a large percentage should be set aside for licensed trade charities, such as research into alcohol abuse, and does he agree that the National Council on Alcoholism falls into this category?


My Lords, in reply to the noble Earl's first supplementary question, those who will be consulted include the Magistrates' Association, the Justices Clerks' Society, the Brewers' Society, the National Federation of Licensed Victuallers, the Licensed Victuallers' Society, the National Council of the Retail Trade and the National Association of Licensed House Managers. I would point out to the noble Earl that, as the money has been solely contributed by the trade, it is felt right that they should be the first to be consulted about its disposal. As I understand the situation, this is to some extent a matter for negotiation; hence the reason why we are taking this step. But the noble Earl will no doubt remember that the Erroll Committee made a very strong recommendation as to how the matter should be dealt with.


My Lords, if a substantial proportion of this money is to be made available for research into alcohol abuse, might it not be a good idea to consult the Medical Research Council at this stage? Also, can the noble Lord say whether legislation will be required for the ultimate disposal of the funds?


My Lords, my understanding is that there must be legislation. With regard to the noble Lord's first point, let me say here and now that, if it is felt desirable that other bodies should be consulted, I have no doubt in my own mind that the Government will consult them. The Government are sympathetic to the suggestion which I think underlies the noble Earl's Question, that some of the Fund should be considered for the purpose he has in mind.


My Lords, there is a second council on alcoholism, the Medical Council on Alcoholism. Does the noble Lord agree that they might get some share of the money?


My Lords, if any money goes to research into alcohol abuse, those who are in the best position to use it for that purpose will no doubt be considered and consulted.


My Lords, ought not the money to be distributed where the need is greatest, since many of the bodies on that imposing list mentioned by my noble friend are already well supported?


My Lords, they are being consulted as to how best this money should be dealt with. It does not necessarily follow that it will be going to them. It is a question of how best to dispose of it.

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