Skip to main content

Clause 8—(Relief From Duty On Liquor Licences Where Business Cannot Be Carried On)

Volume 95: debated on Monday 2 July 1917

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

(1) Where the holder of any wholesale dealer's or retailer's licence taken out under Part II. of the Finance. (1909–10) Act, 1910, satisfies the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that by reason of the licensed premises having been destroyed or seriously damaged, or by reason of any prohibition or restriction imposed by or under the authority of any enactment or regulation in connection with the present War, it was impossible during any period to carry on the business for the purpose of which or in connection with which the licence was granted, he shall be entitled to obtain repayment, or, so far as the duty has not been paid, remission, of such part of the duty for the year as bears to the full amount of that duty the same proportion as the period aforesaid, or the part thereof falling within the year, bears to a whole year.

(2) In any such case as aforesaid (but as respects any case to which Section 3 of the Dublin Reconstruction (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1916, applies without prejudice to the rights under that section), the Excise licence, and any justices' licence on the authority of which the Excise licence was granted, shall be deemed to be suspended as from the commencement of the period aforesaid; but at the expiration of that period any such justices' licence shall revive, and have effect as if it had been granted for the then current licensing year, and a person who was the holder of an Excise licence which has been so treated as suspended shall be entitled to take out an Excise licence on payment of such an amount in respect of Excise Duty as would have been payable by him had he been a new beginner at the expiration of that period:

Provided that if during the period for which any licence is so treated as suspended a contingency occurs upon which

a transfer of the licence might have been granted, but for the suspension, a transfer may be granted either—

  • (a) at the time at which, and to a person to whom, a transfer might have been granted had the licence not been suspended; or
  • (b) after the expiration of the period to any person to whom a transfer might have been granted had the contingency occurred immediately after the expiration of the period.
  • (3) In the application of this Section to Scotland references to a justices' licence shall be construed as references to a certificate as defined in Part VII. of the Licensing (Scotland) Act, 1903.

    I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the; words "it was impossible during any period to carry on."

    This is one of a series of drafting' Amendments. It is considered very difficult to ascertain when it is impossible to carry on, and the phrase "has been discontinued" is going to be introduced as one which the authorities consider more easily recognised.

    On a point of Order. I have handed in an Amendment which comes in front of this Amendment. It is to insert the words "Was the registered owner of the licensed premises—"

    I had already called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer before this Amendment reached me, and I really think the hon. Member ought to wait until another stage.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: In Sub-section (1), after the word '"granted" ["in connection with which the licence w as granted "] insert the words "has been discontinued."

    After the word "shall" ["he shall be entitled to obtain repayment"] insert the words "on making application to the Commissioners within one month after the discontinuance or within such longer period as the Commissioners may in any special case allow."

    After the word "aforesaid" ["the same proportion as the period aforesaid "]

    insert the words "during which the business is not carried on."— [ Mr. Bonar Law.]

    I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to add the words, "and in any case such licence holder or registered owner shall also be entitled to obtain repayment or remission of a similar proportion of the charge payable by hint under Section 21 of the Licence Consolidation Act, 1910."

    It is clear that where the licence is suspended and no Excise Licence Duty is payable no compensation could be payable, because, under the Licence Consolidation Act, Section 21, Sub-section (2), compensation levy is to be paid with and to be part of the Excise Licence Duty. These words are intended to bring this Act into conformity with the Consolidation Act, and to avoid any confusion arising. Probably the Government did not quite realise this point, but if they agree that it ought to be made clear, perhaps they will consider these words and agree to the insertion of them or some similar words at a later stage.

    There are many subjects in connection with this Bill which are confusing, but this particular Amendment is so remarkably confusing that I think it must have some bearing upon the Amendment my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Gretton) was not allowed to move. In any case, I think it could well stand over, as it is a manuscript Amendment, and on Report stage we will give the hon. and gallant Member an opportunity of raising the matter.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Further Amendment made: After the word "year" ["the then current licensing year"], insert the words "and if the revival takes place between the date of the general annual licensing meeting in any licensing year and at the end of the year as if it had been granted for that year and the next licensing year, or, in the case of a licence granted for a term as if the term were extended by a period equal to the period of suspension."—[ Mr. Bonar law.]

    I beg to move, after the word "suspended" ["suspended shall be entitled"], to insert the words "or his representatives or the persons who as holders of a justices licence."

    The point in this Amendment is as regards the persons who shall hold a licence. It is necessary to contemplate the disappearance of the Excise licence holder or his non-appearance at the Court, or of anyone there on his behalf to claim for him. The licence may have been transferred or may have lapsed into the hands of the owner of the premises. The tenancy may be terminated. It is necessary to provide, unless the property is to be lost, that the tenant may be able to claim through his personal representatives. There is, for instance, such a case as that of a man who has gone to the War and has not returned, or the case of a man who, upon demobilisation, has not been discharged. If the tenancy has lapsed, the whole of the licence is gone. It is clearly intended that the licence should continue. This matter requires some consideration. I think the Government must have omitted, in drafting what is really a complicated and technical Clause, to remember this contingency. It was clearly intended the right should not lapse owing to accident, but that it should be preserved.

    The points of licensing law are extraordinarily complicated, and I think, when the Amendments are put in manuscript dealing with so complicated a matter, we really might ask to see them on the Paper. This may be all right, but I am sure it is really very difficult to follow. Knowing as I do something of the complexities and intricacies of licensing law, I should ask the Government not to accept it now but at least to let us see it upon the Paper.

    In regard to the Amendment which has been proposed I do not think that there is any objection in substance to the suggestion which was made by my hon. and gallant Friend. But this particular Amendment does not appear to be necessary in order to give effect to his intention. As the Clause stands it is provided, among other things, that a person who was the holder of an Excise licence that has been treated as suspended shall be entitled to take out an Excise licence on payment of such an amount, and so on. If I followed the criticism, what is said is that it is not enough to make that provision with regard to the person himself, who is the holder of an Excise licence, but that it should be extended to the legal personal representative of that person. But my hon. Friend will see that there are provisions for the transfer of the licence during the period of suspension, and in such a case as that which he has in mind it is perfectly possible for the licence to be or to have been transferred to the legal personal representative, and,in that case he becomes the person who is the holder of the Excise licence. If that be so the particular provision which is sought to be made by this Amendment is superfluous.

    I am satisfied with the explanation of the Solicitor-General and I have no doubt that what he says is correct. If, however, on further consideration there should be found the need of some further provision to carry out the intention which he has expressed on behalf of the Government, I have no doubt that that provision will be introduced and the matter put right on Report, For that reason, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Further Amendment made: At the end of the Clause to add the words, "Provided also that if, during the period for which any licence is so treated as suspended, a person desires to make an objection on the ground of misconduct to the revival of the licence, he may make such an objection in the same manner as he makes an objection to the renewal of a justices' licence, and if, on any such objection being made, the justices certify that had the licence not been suspended they would have refused the renewal thereof, the licence shall not revive.''—[ Mr. Bonar Law. ]

    I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words, "In the application of this Section to Ireland reference to justices' licence shall be construed as reference to a justices' certificate, and reference to the General Annual Licensing Meeting shall be construed as reference to the Annual Licensing Session."

    This Amendment can be accurately described as a mere drafting one. The Irish licensing law is very different from that which obtains in this country. As a matter of fact, in Ireland the licence is not granted by the justices; the justices merely issue a licence certificate. I think the Government will have no objection to this Amendment.

    I agree with the observations of my hon. and learned Friend that this is a drafting Amendment of a necessary kind, and the Government will accept it.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.