House Of Commons
Friday, 9th February, 1934.
The House met at Eleven of the Clock, MR. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Orders Of The Day
Hotels And Restaurants Bill
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time".It is perhaps not without some significance that through the luck of the ballot it falls to the lot of a private Member who has no connection, direct or indirect, with the hotels or restaurants of this country, to move the Second Reading of this Bill, the original of which was so ably presented to the House just a year ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. B. Smith). So it will be not only from the point of view of the industry concerned, but perhaps rather from the point of view of a mere member of the travelling public, that I shall endeavour to approach the matter. While no one realises better than I do that the House deprecates too much of its time being taken up by a repetition of fact and figure, I would like with its permission to draw attention very briefly to one or two of the historical milestones along the legislative highway by which our old-world inn and modern hotels are built. As far back as the end of the 15th century it would appear that inns for the reception of travellers were exempted from the regulations restricting the numbers of ale-houses and taverns of that period which were then being introduced. I only mentioned that point to show that inns or hotels at one time seemed to have enjoyed certain privileges under the law, and that these privileges they appear to have since lost, for the Act of 1828, regulating the proceedings of the justices in respect of the draft, transfer and renewal of licences, lays down that no distinction was to be made in the case of inns or similar establishments which were carrying on the business of catering for travellers, from which I take it that it was from that time that one form of licence and one form of licence only governed all classes of establishments where intoxicating beverages were sold to the public. Various licensing Acts followed, none of which made any real attempt to deal with the status of hotels and restaurants. But it is interesting to note that the Peel Commission which sat from 1897 to 1900 recommended that a separate licence should be granted to hotels having a certain quota of bedrooms for the reception of guests but no public bar accommodation, and that the Intoxicating Liquor Commission for the Irish Free State in 1925 recommended different licences for hotels, restaurants and bars for the retail sale of alcoholic drinks apart from the other licence. Then came the report of the Royal Commission on Licensing which recommended that bona-fide hotels and restaurants—I want to emphasise that—whose annual receipts for the sale of intoxicants, calculated on an average of the returns for the preceeding five years, did not exceed 50 per cent. in the case of hotels and 60 per cent. in the case of restaurants of the total annual receipts of the business from all sources, should be entitled to a special form of hotel or restaurant licence, the grant of which should carry with it certain privileges. Here let me remark for the consideration and guidance of any critic who may regard those percentages of the cost of drink to food as high, that it would be interesting to know just how much of those percentages goes to the State in taxation, which the traveller or consumer has to pay, and by what amount those percentages would be reduced were it not for the very heavy taxation which has to be met. The recommendation of the Royal Commission to which I have referred is clear and unambiguous. We recommend the creation of two new special forms of licence:—A hotel licence and restaurant licence, the grant of which should carry with it certain privileges. These suggested privileges, which are incorporated in the Bill, are fourfold and are as follows: The right to supply, after the conclusion of the permitted hours, alcoholic beverages with meals, on week-days until midnight in the Metropolis and up to 11 p.m. in the Provinces; in each case an additional half-hour for the consumption of drinks ordered or supplied before the specified hour; the right to serve intoxicants with meals up to 3 p.m. in those districts where the mid-day permitted hour terminates before that time; the right, which at present does not exist, for a bona-fide resident in a hotel to entertain a non-resident guest up to midnight; the right also to make alterations of hotel or restaurant without the consent of the licensing justices, provided that such alterations do not affect the service of intoxicants. Here let me emphasise that the Bill does not in any way interfere with or alter the permitted hours in so far as drinks with meals are concerned, but only aims at giving drink with meals and standardising the hours permitted under the Act of 1921. These suggested privileges are the foundation of the Bill. As will be seen, the principle contained in the Bill is that of modifying some of the annoying restrictions from which the public have been suffering ever since D.O.R.A. and the War. I expect that we have all experienced some such annoyances in our lives. I for one shall never forget one occasion a good many years ago. Here I feel that I shall have the sympathy of every quarter of the House when I confess that at the time I was on my way to do a political course at a well-known college of instruction in the Midlands. After a very long and weary journey I arrived at a Midland city, and there, on my way to this college, which was six or eight miles out in the country, I went to a hotel in the hope of getting some supper, not having had either lunch or tea that day. When I got to the hotel I found that a snack of cold meat was procurable, but that nothing could be obtained with which to wash it down. Perforce I had to continue my journey by car into the night, a sadder, and if not a wiser man certainly a thirstier one, as a result of the inhuman law of allowing a man to eat but not to drink after the prescribed hour of 10 p.m. I am aware that a certain school of medical thought lays it down that it is much better to drink between meals than with meals. I for one, prefer to drink with my meals and to leave it alone at other times although, of course, there must be some exceptions to all general rules of that nature. In so far as our own people are concerned it must be remembered that in the ever-changing conditions by which we are surrounded to-day, including the very unpleasant and distasteful reduction of family incomes, we are becoming in the cities at least more and more a nation of "flatters," of dwellers in flats, where we sleep but do not always eat, depending more and more, as is the case in Europe, upon the restaurant and hotel for the principal meals of the day. In this evolution it would seem desirable that the hotel and restaurant industry in which 500,000 people are employed and in which something like £200,000,000 of capital is invested, should be freed from unnecessary restrictions in order that it may be enabled to carry out its public function of providing not only accommodation but food and drink at such hours as may suit the convenience of the public which it serves and to enable those who make their homes in hotels to live there with as great freedom and liberty as that enjoyed by those who live in their own houses. I turn to the visitors to our shores from abroad particularly the visitor from the Continent who, whether he be French, Italian, Spanish or German, is and ever has been accustomed to drinking wine with his meals and who simply does not understand the restrictions which we impose upon our drinking hours and the lack of uniformity in such restrictions. To-day, thanks to the paternal and excellent Government which all good citizens support, England is giving a lead to the world along the road out of the morass in which it has been floundering for so long and London from being the dullest capital in Europe is becoming the most sought after at the present time, as far as the travelling public are concerned. As we all know London is a playground to which people of every walk in life and from every part of the world come on holiday to enjoy themselves and it seems to me that in our own interests we ought to do everything in our power to encourage and not to discourage the foreigner to pass within our gates and to remain on our shores as long as he has a mind to do so. What this source of invisible income, or invisible imports means to this country I cannot tell, but from a rough survey of the figures before me and estimating that each visitor leaves behind a sum of £50, the figure must run into many millions annually and it is all "found money" at that. With the development of comfortable and hospitable hotels and entertainment that could be very largely increased. I have here some figures which I have received from the Travel and Industrial Development Association of Great Britain and Ireland which show that while the number of tourists in all parts of the world has greatly fallen off, there has been less falling off in so far as England is concerned than there has been in regard to other countries. We would do well to take advantage of that improvement. Professor F. W. Ogilvie of Edinburgh University has prepared some interesting figures showing the net results of travel as affecting various countries—that is the difference between the amount spent by each country's nationals abroad, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the money received by that country from visitors. According to these figures, France for the years 1928, 1929 and 1930, had a credit balance averaging £65,000,000 a year; Italy had an annual credit balance of £22,000,000; Switzerland, £10,000,000 and Austria £6,000,000. The United Kingdom, alas, had not a credit balance but a debit balance of £10,000,000 over the same period. There seems to be no sufficient reason why that debit balance should not be turned into a credit balance if we are successful in encouraging foreigners to come here for their holidays and on the various businesses in which they may be engaged. Factors which will have a powerful influence in achieving that end are the propaganda work of our travel associations, the improvement of our hotels and an increase in the facilities which the law allows them to offer to their customers. Here, may I remind the House that in Italy and France an enormous amount of travel propaganda is devoted to their hotel and restaurant businesses, for the purpose of encouraging travellers to visit those countries and spend their money there. I have referred to London as the playground of England from the foreigner's point of view. I would like to see that extended very largely, but that can only be done if our wayside inns and provincial hotels are brought up to the standards now required by the travelling public. In the past there is no doubt that a great many of the travelling public, particularly Americans, have refrained from coming to England because they have had no encouragement to do so as regards the comfort offered by the country hotels of the United Kingdom as a whole. I have left to the last what to my mind is the most important and desirable modification of the law embodied in the Bill, namely, the right to make alterations in hotel and restaurant premises without the consent of the licensing justices, provided such alterations do not affect the service of intoxicants. Under the existing law it is necessary for the hotel proprietor to obtain the permission of the justices even for minor alterations. Considerable cost is often involved in having the case properly submitted to the authorities concerned. The hon. Member for Dulwich when introducing a similar Measure a year ago instanced a case where a structural alteration cost only £5, while the legal and architectural fees in connection with it amounted to something like £25, or five times the actual cost of the work. This has acted as a detriment upon the improvement of hotel and restaurant premises throughout the country and I have no hesitation in venturing the opinion that a certificate from the ordinary building authority should be sufficient for all structural alterations and improvements to hotels and restaurants, outside the actual bar, as in all other forms of building. By the removal of this detriment to enterprise and efficiency encouragement would be given to hotel proprietors to bring their hotels up to date, to improve their sanitation, to introduce structural amenities and this, in turn, would be a stimulus to the building trades and would help further to get our people back into productive employment. It has been stated, and I believe it to be a fact, that we are, so far as hotel management is concerned, some 30 or 40 years behind the times. I do not, of course, level that criticism at those hotel managements which have brought their hotels up to the standard demanded by the travelling public to-day, but only against those managements which have failed to improve their properties and the service and amenities which it is their business to provide for the public. I only ask those whose heads may fit the cap to put it on, but if I may venture upon a word of advice to the hotel managements of our country as a whole, I would suggest that they might take a post-graduate course in studying the methods of Continental hotels and restaurants and also in realising that in their particular profession lies a very great artistry. I remember very well a certain hotel that could not be described as a luxury hotel, a hotel in a provincial town in France, where the restaurateur receives his guests in a spotlessly clean coat, the médaille militaire proudly showing in his buttonhole, where his wife supervises the whole management of the hotel, where one of his sons is in the restaurant as the maitre d'hotel and another one in the kitchen, with the daughter-in-law in the office, which surely illustrates the pride they take in their affairs. I think that should be taken as a model on which we could very largely build up our own domestic industry, in so far as hotels and restaurants are concerned. There are one or two points upon which I would like to touch, including the question of the cuisine, which is so frequently anything but what it should be, the service, which is perhaps not as up-to-date as many of the travelling public would like to see it, and, above all, a great number of the beds of England, which are more like hammocks than beds and from which the travelling public emerge in the morning more tired out than rested and rather inclined to seek a comfortable corner in which to rest. I would like to reply to two charges that have been levelled against the Bill. One is that it would increase intemperance. I do not think it will, and if I thought it would, I would not support it. I believe I am right in saying that there is a very large volume of opinion that the more you encourage the normal relation of food and drink, the more you lessen the likelihood of people drinking between meals. For that reason, I am inclined to think that this Bill, which aims at helping the hotels and restaurants, will not increase intemperance but will probably militate against it. It has also been suggested that it will break up the domestic homes of England. In reply to that criticism, may I say that it is just as probable that the husband, instead of going off by himself to have a drink round the corner, will take his wife with him to a comfortable restaurant where they can enjoy together the ordinary amenities of life. One other criticism which has been levelled at this Bill is that it is class legislation. This particular criticism, I would repudiate with all the force in my power. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sectional legislation it may be, but it is certainly not class legislation, for our hotels and restaurants are required for all our people, of every element of life, whether the lodging costs 2s. or £1 a night, whether the meal costs 1s. or 7s. 6d., and the provisions contained in this Bill cover all bona fide hotels and restaurants, whether they be humble or great. I should like to see our hotels and restaurants develop along the lines of Continental establishments, where light, good, and cheap wines and light beers are procurable and where one rarely if ever sees excess in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. May I remind the House that this Bill is supported and wanted, not only by the Hotels and Restaurants Association, but by the shipping companies and by the Travel and Industrial Development Association of Great Britain and Ireland, which has done so much in recent years to encourage visitors to this country and to develop new industries within it? May I express the hope that this lamb, which was lost from the legislative fold of last year, and which has now returned to the flock strengthened and fortified by Amendments, may be joyfully received by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to the Home Department and shepherded through the remaining stages of Parliament until it reaches its long sought place on the Statute Book of this country?
I beg to second the Motion.First of all, I wish to congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Gault) on the very lucid, knowledgeable, and interesting manner in which he has moved the Second Reading of the Bill. If a division were taken now, I think the House would give the Bill an overwhelming majority, after having heard the excellent speech of my hon. and gallant Friend, especially his references to class legislation, which has been mentioned on several occasions as one of the chief points in the opposition to the Bill. Last Session I had the privilege of introducing this Bill, and I spoke at some length as to the position which this industry holds in the commercial, social, and tourist life of the country. I do not intend to repeat the remarks that I made in March of last year. The Bill, as the House will remember, was left to a free vote of the House and received a very substantial majority. During that Debate my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State drew the attention of Members to certain desirable modifications that should be made in order that the Measure should be a workable and acceptable one, and the present Bill in-corporates those Amendments that were agreed to in the Committee stage. A licensing Bill always arouses a great deal of controversy, and I believe that since 1904 more than 140 licensing Bills have been introduced into this House, very few of them with any success. I am sure that every hon. Member has the greatest respect for temperance views and that none of us object to measures which are designed to promote temperance. I know that there are many and varied opinions as to the merits and otherwise of this Bill and as to whether or not it is a serious and accurate attempt to carry out the recommendations contained in Chapter 9 of the Report of the Royal Commission.
The whole of them?
I did not say the whole of them; I said there are many and varied opinions as to whether the Bill carries out those recommendations, and I would like to quote from the monthly notes issued last August by the Temperance Legislation League, the Chairman of which is Mr. Rowntree. It states:
I hope hon. Members will agree with that."The case for the granting of a distinct licence to bona fide hotels and restaurants is in our view a strong one which it is in the interest of public policy to concede. The sale of alcoholic beverages is not in the case of bona fide hotels and restaurants the primary and main part of the business."
As far as this Measure carries out the recommendations expressed in those notes, I contend that the Bill is a temperance Measure. As far back as 1880, Mr. Gladstone recognised the distinction in the case of hotels and provided for certain reductions in licence duties where premises were structually adapted for use as a hotel for the reception of guests and travellers desirous of dwelling therein, and the amount of duty payable on the licence was not to exceed £20. In 1897 the Peel Report recommended the grant of a separate licence for hotels and restaurants, and, owing to the marked change in the social conditions and habits during the present century and the improvement in hotel service, the case for a separate licence is much stronger than in 1897. The Temperance Legislation League also expresses the view that it is not in any shape or form opposed to piecemeal legislation. Hon. Members will remember that the Royal Commission was set up to study the various phases of the licensing trade, and it sat from 1929 to 1931. The Commission was set up by the Opposition party which was in power at that time. We have heard much of Royal Commissions and of complaints that nothing is ever done to carry out their recommendations, but I contend that there never was a report of a Royal Commission in which the findings of the majority were so definite and acceptable as the recommendations made by this Commission with regard to the grant of a special licence to hotels and restaurants."It is a subsidiary service incidental to and supplementing a distinctive service of primary importance, the extension and improved standard of which it is a matter of public interest to encourage. The present arrangement under which a high class hotel or restaurant of unquestionable character is required to take out a publican's licence for the sale of alcoholic beverages is one of many anomalies which still survive in our licensing laws. The fact is the more remark- able because the distinction between hotels and restaurants and ordinary public houses has for fiscal purposes long been recognised and conceded."
I am going to refer to the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), because in December—
That is not the point.
On the 8th December, when the hon. Member for West Bermondsey was speaking with regard to another Measure that was introduced, he definitely asserted,
Therefore, the House must assume that the hon. Member is in favour of those recommendations contained in Chapter 9 of the Report; that the hon. Member is in favour of granting these facilities with meals; that the hon. Member is in favour of a resident treating his guests; that he is not opposed to any of the provisions and privileges contained in Chapter 9 of the Report. I believe also that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is also in favour of those recommendations. I am, therefore, hoping, before I have finished, to compare the recommendations in the Report with the provisions in this Bill and to convince the hon. Members so that they will support this Measure before the Debate closes. They cannot, on the one hand, say they support the recommendations of the Royal Commission and at the same time oppose the provisions of this Bill, because the Bill carries out those recommendations, [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It is obvious that any opposition from the hon. Member for West Bermondsey and the Noble Lady must be stated from a different point of view. I assume that both these hon. Members are strongly in favour of the recommendations of that Report and of the privileges that would be granted to establishments holding this special hotel or restaurant licence. It is a remarkable thing that when hon. Members opposing the Bill speak of this Measure they never dispute the sensible and common-sense recommendations contained in the Report. Their opposition to the Bill is that something has been left out and that something has been included that was not in the Report. Therefore, I want to invite the hon. Member for West Bermondsey to say definitely in what way the Bill varies from the provisions and the privileges contained in that Report. I will grant the hon. Member two things, that this Measure does not include paragraph 277 of the Report, sub-section (1) and sub-section (2 a)."Yes, I am entirely in support of the Hotels and Restaurants Bill as adumbrated by the Royal Commission."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1933, col. 2030; Vol. 283.]
I am trying to explain, if the Noble Lady will be patient. I wish to assure the Opposition that we are quite aware of the parts of the Report which have been omitted in the framing of the Bill. I invite the hon. Member for West Bermondsey to tell us in what further respects this Bill varies from the recommendations of the Report apart from the fact that it does not incorporate the recommendations in paragraph 277, sub-section (1) and subsection (2 a). I ask indulgence for a few minutes to draw attention to the Clauses of the Bill in order to show how closely the Measure follows the Report. If hon. Members will look at Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 of the Bill they will find that it provides for two new special forms of licence, namely, hotel licences and restaurant licences. Those are recommended in paragraph 265 of the Report. Paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 define an hotel as licensed premises structually adapted for use and bona fide used for the reception of guests and travellers, and in which the receipts from the sale of intoxicating liquor do not exceed 50 per cent. of the total annual receipts. I think that Sub-section correctly interprets paragraphs 267 and 270 of the Report.Paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of Sub-section (3) of Clause 1 define a restaurant as premises structually adapted for and bona fide used for a restaurant, and in which the receipts from the sale of intoxicating liquor do not exceed 60 per cent. of the total annual receipts. That carries out the recommendations in paragraphs 269 and 270 of the Report. I am comparing the Report and the Bill to show how the Bill carries out accurately, truly and faithfully the recommendations of the Report. Sub-section (4) of Clause 1 deals with public bars. The Report recommends that a public bar shall not be included under the hotel and restaurant licence, and by Sub-section (4) the public bar is excluded. Clause 2 does not embody a recommendation of the Report, but where a licence is granted for 3, 5 or 7 years, if the licence is endorsed or designated by any particular name as a hotel or restaurant licence application must be made annually for that hotel or restaurant licence. That is a very important point, because there was some opposition from this point of view. Assume an establishment has been granted a restaurant licence by magistrates for a period of 7 years. For the first two years, perhaps, the premises would be qualified for that particular licence, but at the end of two or three years they might cease to be qualified, and if the licence could not be reconsidered until the end of the term of 7 years it would mean that an unqualified establishment would still have its restaurant licence. To guard against that this Clause has been inserted, so that any establishment covered by a licence of this nature must apply annually for its renewal. Clause 3 deals with appeals to quarter sessions. Clause 4 deals with the special privileges attaching to the granting of this special hotel or restaurant licence. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey and the Noble Lady have already agreed. They cannot oppose this Measure, because they have already made public statements to the effect that they are in agreement with the provisions of the Bill.
They are in agreement with the provisions and privileges under the Bill.
Well, there are no conditions in the Report so far as these Clauses are concerned. Clause 4 deals with special privileges attaching to the granting of these special hotel or restaurant licences, and sub-section (1a) carries out the recommendations of paragraph 271 of the Report regarding the supply and consumption of alcoholic liquor. Sub-section (1b) gives the right to serve and consume until 3 p.m., in accordance with paragraph 272 of the Report. Sub-section (1c) grants the privilege to a bona fide resident to treat his guests from 11 in the morning until midnight. This, again, carries out the recommendation in paragraph 273 of the Report. With all of this the hon. Member for West Bermondsey and the Noble Lady agree. There is no dispute about that; they have stated so. Sub-section (2) of Clause 4 abolishes the need for obtaining the consent of the licensing justices to alterations in premises which are not concerned directly with the service and consumption of alcoholic beverages, and that carries out the recommendation of paragraph 274 of the Report. So far there has been no disagreement with the Bill and the Report; they agree with the Bill, so that they must agree with the Report.Clause 5 deals with the wayside inn. This matter was mentioned by the Under-Secretary of State in the Debate last year, when there was some discussion on the recommendations of the Royal Commission about the wayside inn. Clause 5 simply carries out the recommendations contained in paragraphs 273 and 278 of the Report. So we have got to the end of Clause 5, which is a true and faithful representatoin in a Bill of the recommendations of a Royal Commission's Report on licensing. I think hon. Members must be convinced that this Bill does carry out truly, faithfully and accurately the recommendations of the Royal Commission, with the exception of sub-section (1) and sub-section (2a) of paragraph 277 of the Report. A question was raised by the Noble Lady regarding tied houses. If there are two establishments in the same town, or perhaps on the same great road in the same area, one of which is a free house and the other a tied house—that is, subject to tying agreements—and if those two establishments are carrying on exactly the same type of business and have the same volume of business, providing accommodation and food as the main part of their business, I do not understand why, because one of them happens to be subject to a tying agreement, it should be debarred from having this particular hotel or restaurant licence granted to it. If hon. Members will look at the Recommendations of the Royal Commission on this subject they will find that it states, in paragraph 277, that exception should be granted to those establishments where tie agreements are in existence.
Only during their continuance.
Yes, but if a house is tied the agreement will continue from year to year, and the house will be qualified to have the hotel and restaurant licence continued.
Surely what was meant by that Recommendation was that existing contracts should be observed, because the words are:
The words "continue to hold" must lead the House to think that it was the inten- tion of the Commission to have regard to the validity of existing contracts."No premises in regard to which any tie exists in respect of the supply of intoxicating liquor or of any other commodity should be eligible for or continue to hold a hotel or restaurant licence. Exception would need, we think, to be made for existing tying agreements during their continuance."
I agree that there is a little confusion in the paragraph, because the first part of it reads as though the tie arrangements should continue while the last two lines take into account existing tying agreements. The two sections of the paragraph are a little conflicting. I grant that, but, even if it is so, I cannot understand why the fact that a house is tied but is carrying on exactly the same kind of business as another establishment which is not tied should constitute a bar to its having a hotel and restaurant licence. We are all acquainted with establishments where a seasonal trade is carried on, say, for two or three months, and where, during that particular period, a hotel and restaurant trade is conducted. That is the kind of business for which this Bill provides. For the remaining nine months, the amount of business going to that part of the country is not sufficient to keep the house going. I cannot for the life of me understand why a tying agreement should bar that establishment from receiving the benefit of the special licence.I agree that the Bill does not carry into effect the Paragraph of the Report, as far as the tying agreements are concerned. It is difficult to anticipate on what grounds the Bill is to be opposed. We have had some little guidance from the Opposition on the Standardisation of hours Bill. I hope that the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth, and other hon. Members will now withdraw their opposition, because I think I have proved to them that Clauses 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 accurately reflect the Recommendations of the Commission's Report.
Are there no other conditions invoked by the Commission?
The Bill accurately represents the recommendations. I invite hon. Members to point out in their reply instances of where the Bill differs from the Report. I hope that hon. Members will withdraw their opposition, that they will take a step forward in the right direction, and that they will whole-heartedly support this temperate and common sense Bill. I protest most strongly against the continual misrepre- sentation that the Bill is merely for the provision of drinking facilities, or that it is class legislation. It is an endeavour to divide the licence trade in order to separate that part which is carrying on mainly a hotel and restaurant business. That is the chief purpose of the Bill, and there is no class legislation in that. If it is admitted that this is a sectional Bill it must also be admitted that there is no class legislation in that section. The Bill seeks to raise the status and standard of the hotel industry, and to give encouragement for the improvement of our hotels, so that we may make a greater appeal to visitors from other countries. I hope that the House will receive the Measure sympathetically, and will give it a Second Reading with a greater majority than it received last year, because the Bill deserves commendation from every Member of the House.
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."The first thing I must do is to make it clear that, since this is a Private Member's. Bill, I am speaking entirely on my own behalf. That does not mean that I do not hope to carry with me all the sensible Members of my party, as well as the more reasonable Members of every other party. To-day there will be many more sensible Members of the Conservative party than there were on the last occasion when this Bill was discussed. I must congratulate the two hon. Members upon the very reasonable way in which they have introduced the Bill to-day. So far as I can help it, I shall not import any heat into the discussion either, but will rather put as many genuine arguments as I can against the passage of the Bill into law. The promoters of the Bill argue that the Bill will not increase the facilities for drinking. How they can hope to succeed on that argument passes my comprehension. If that argument holds good, why do they want the Bill at all? The obvious reason for the passing of the Bill is that there must be more consumption of drink. If the promoters did not expect that result, the Bill would obviously not have been introduced. Let me give one illustration out of their own mouths. The argument employed is that this Bill does not mean increased consumption of alcoholic drinks, but the Seconder of the Bill himself admitted that, under one Sub-section of Clause 4, it is possible for the owner of an hotel in London to secure one resident in that hotel—it may be a brother or cousin of the owner—and that one resident can supply drink ad lib. to any person or to any number of persons between 11 o'clock in the morning and 12 midnight. Does not that in itself extend the facilities for drinking, or, if it does not extend them, at any rate multiply them? The seconder dwelt also upon the connection between the provisions of the Bill and the Report of the Royal Commission. To be quite frank, I do not know these technical details as well as he does, but I know this, that it is grossly unfair to this Parliament that any section of the House of Commons, and especially that section which is personally interested in the drink traffic, should take out one small part of the Royal Commission's Report—the part that pleases them most, and, if they do not mind my saying it, the part that pays them financially best—that they should take that small part out of the Royal Commission's Report, translate it into law, and ask this Parliament in effect to increase their profits there-by. I do not approach this subject merely as a teetotaller; I approach it from other angles too. Every man in the world has some weakness. Some Members of this House have a definite weakness for drink, and to my regret I have seen that weakness send more than one good man to an early grave. I object, therefore, to any group of people combining themselves, for their own personal gain, to exploit the weaknesses of their fellows. That is the pivot on which the whole of my objection to this Bill rests. Again, I object to the Bill because there is nothing in it about the conditions of the people who are engaged in this business. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Second Reading said that there are as many as 500,000 people employed in the hotel and restaurant business. I venture to say, and the right hon. Gentleman, as repre- senting the Home Office, knows this, that there has never been a Bill dealing with the distributive and allied trades introduced in the House of Commons that did not contain at least some little provision relative to the working conditions of the employés concerned. Therefore, I say that to bring in a Bill of this kind, dealing with a business in which 500,000 people are employed, without any mention at all in the Measure of the conditions of their employment, deserves the opposition of every Labour Member, anyhow, whether they like a drink or not. The conditions of employment in this business, with a few exceptions, are about as rotten as they can be, and therefore I object to a Measure, however good it may be in other respects, that does not contain same provision which will improve the conditions of employment in this business. Let me pass to another point of objection. I think the Seconder said that it was wrong to argue that the Bill will create a class distinction. Of course it will. This is, in effect, a whisky-and-soda Bill—a double whisky-and-soda Bill; that is what is intended. The hon. Gentleman says that of course there is no class distinction, that any hotel and restaurant proprietor can come along and ask for this licence. But take the Parliamentary Division which I represent. I know of no house at all in my Division that can ever hope to qualify even to ask for this licence. Hon. Gentlemen always talk as though London were the whole of this country. But London is not England, and certainly London is not Wales or Scotland.
There are more Welshmen in London than there are in any city in Wales.
Yes, that is why London is becoming more decent. But I wish that at least one Welshman were out of it. Of all the arguments, however, that have been put forward in favour of this Bill, I think the most plausible is the one that, if the Measure be carried into law, it will attract more foreigners to England. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman quite frankly that some of us are very disturbed that the Travel Association of Great Britain and Ireland is backing this Measure. Parliament made a grant, I believe, to that Association, and sub- sidised it when it was formed, very largely, I think, at the invitation of the right hon. Gentleman—
If I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman for a moment, I think it ought to be made perfectly clear that I have now no connection with the Travel and Industrial Development Association. I resigned my position there when I became a Minister.
I knew that, and I hope I was not treating the right hon. Gentleman unfairly. What I was saying was that it was through his instrumentality in the past that a State subsidy was given to the Travel Association, and I think we are entitled to object to an association which was formed with the help of a State subsidy supporting a Bill of this kind, which divides the nation into two camps.
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he would object to a University communicating to Members of Parliament a resolution on educational matters, on account of the fact that that University gets a grant from the Government?
If a University sent me a circular asking me to drink more whisky, I should put it in the waste-paper basket.
That was not the principle which the hon. Gentleman raised. The principle he raised was that a body receiving a grant from Parliamentary funds was not entitled to express an opinion on a political matter.
That is not fair.
A University will know the decencies of public life, but the Travel Association does not seem to have learned that much.
What justification has the hon. Member for asserting that the Travel Association is asking anyone to support any Bill that should not be supported by the House of Commons? What justification has he for imputing bad motives to the Travel Association? Surely it is entitled, as an association, to express an opinion?
I am objecting to the Travel Association asking Parliament to pass this Bill in exactly the same way as the hon. Gentleman himself would object to it if that Association became a temperance organisation. Let me now deal with the argument about the foreign visitor. It is about the thinnest of all. Let me try to picture to hon. Members how thin it really is. Do they suppose that a rich pasha on the banks of the Nile, or a Persian in Teheran, or an Italian in Rome or Naples, will sit down and study for hours on end, before he decides on a trip to England, in order to find out whether or not he can get a drink here after 11 o'clock at night? As a matter of fact, there are 320,000,000 Moslems in the world—and they are all supposed to be teetotallers at that.Let us come to the actual facts. We are told that in 1932, 1,000,000 Frenchmen went to Italy, 500,000 went to Spain, and only 100,000 came here. Consequently, it is urged that these figures give a picture of the necessity of altering our own licensing laws. If it be the correct argument that Frenchmen go to Spain and Italy because there are no drink restrictions there, and therefore they are attracted to those countries, the first question to ask is, why do they not stay at home in France where there are equally no drink restrictions of any kind? If the argument about tourists going to the countries where they can get drink easiest holds good, we ought to have had during the prohibition era in America at least 50,000,000 Americans visiting this country. I doubt whether we had one, in consequence of that fact. The noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) did not come here because of drink regulations. Is not the true reason for the decline of tourist traffic all over the world the economic and political restrictions against it? I hope the House will pardon a personal note. I do not understand this depreciation of the hotels of this country by the hon. and gallant Member. During the last 10 years I have been in 19 foreign capitals, and I venture to make this statement which, I think, will be supported by any other hon. Member, that you can have as good hotel accommodation in London for the same price as you can get in any capital in the world. The best hotels and the biggest hotel prices asked in the world are, of course, in America. The point that is always impressing itself upon me is that we always depreciate ourselves in this country, but when we are abroad even the hon. and gallant Member would not allow a Frenchman to say about hotels in this country what he himself said to-day.
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to remind him that my criticism did not refer to those managements which had brought their hotels up to the standard demanded by the public of to-day.
Surely the hon. and gallant Member does not suggest that every Continental hotel is up-to-date? How on earth can the argument about increasing the trade of our country by extending these regulations hold good? Let me put the case as I see it. It is still true that the export trade of this country is the largest on the Continent of Europe, in spite of the fact that the restriction on drink is the severest here. Consequently that argument cannot possibly apply. Does the hon. Gentleman really mean to suggest that either prohibition or regulation of drink has anything to do with the import and export trade of a country? I cannot believe it for a moment. Does the hon. Gentleman mean to suggest, for instance, that the Lancashire textile trade, the biggest export trade in the country, will be affected to the extent of even one bale of cotton if you extend the drinking hours in Manchester?
Surely the hon. Gentleman will recognise the fact that visitors going to Manchester will do more business if they can have comfortable accommodation.
The fear I would have would be that a man who would drink till 12.30 in the morning would be too drunk to transact any business at all the following day. I said at the beginning that I did not intend to impart any heat into the discussion, but really the argument about foreign visitors is, as I have said, a hollow one. It does not apply at all in this case. Hon. Members who want extended facilities for drink must have better arguments than that. What happens in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France? All the hotels in those countries complain that visitors have declined by one-half in three years. That has nothing to do with restrictions on drink. I have the figures here as to the numbers of visitors to this country as recorded by the Home Office. We are told in the last Report that during 1926 the number of aliens coming to this country—we call them aliens; in France they call them visitors, and of course our Hotels' Association call them visitors too—
Were they not called aliens when the hon. Gentleman was at the Home Office?
Of course, they were aliens then, but the trouble is that the Hotels' Association want to give them a very much sweeter name. Let us see about these visitors called aliens. In 1926 there came to this country 370,185, and in 1932, 376,206.
Was there not a general strike here in the first year?
I should have thought that that ought to have attracted more visitors. Really, taking any year you like, the drink restrictions have nothing at all to do with the problem of visitors from abroad coming here. At the meeting upstairs—and it is very interesting to see how these gentlemen bring the greatest guns they can find to fire off; they brought Lord Derby who was once, by the way, the member for Westhoughton Division—his lordship or somebody else assured me at that meeting that this Bill would not affect adversely the conditions of employment of people engaged in the restaurant and hotel business. Let us see. As I said, the conditions of employment in this business are very bad—probably the most slavish conditions that can be imagined. Surely, their hours of labour will be extended to this extent. Not only would people be allowed to call for a drink in London up to midnight, but they could continue drinking it until 12.30, and the staff attending on them would have to spend at least another half hour in clearing up.Let me ask another question. Is it fair in the conditions of this country to-day, when the other day, Parliament declined to increase the allowance for the worker's child from 2s. to 3s. a week, for gentlemen who voted against that shilling to support this Bill and invite some of their rich friends to spend ten times as much in one night on drink in restaurants and hotels? I object to a Bill of this kind. We say we cannot afford to pay the unemployed more money. We cannot afford to increase the pay of a worker's child by a shilling a week. There are other grounds to argue upon against the Bill apart altogether from teetotalism and the general agitation against the drink traffic. The Bill stands condemned as a rich man's Bill; and I object once again to any group of people combining themselves for their own personal profit to exploit the weaknesses of their fellows.
I think there has been a certain amount of hair-splitting about what was in the Report of the Royal Commission and what was not. This is a common sense Bill, a very minor Bill and one that is needed. It does not create any new precedent at all, and, if it does not agree line by line with the Royal Commission, I do not think it matters in the least. For one thing, the Royal Commission was set up by the late Government entirely as a delaying measure. It took a long time to report, the report has now been put into a pigeon hole at the Home Office, and there is not the slightest likelihood of this or any other government introducing a licensing Bill in our lifetime.There are two main arguments why the Measure should be passed. The first is the commercial argument that it will improve the tourist traffic and the other, to my mind much more important, that it will remove a legitimate grievance which a great any people have to legislation on licensing passed during the war and afterwards. It is not going to violate any principle of temperance. It is not going to create a new order which will encourage drink. One might imagine from some of the arguments that have been used, and from interjections by teetotal members, that the Bill is going to do something really drastic. You might think it was a Bill to enable bars and public-houses to be open for 24 hours, a Bill to force alcohol on unwilling people, and to put gin in the baby's milk, instead of which all that it is going to do is to allow people having an ordinary meal to have a glass of beer or whisky and soda or wine with it. In the West End of London it is not going to have any effect at all, because the hours are exactly the same as now. In the northern area of London it will make the hours on the north side of Oxford Street what they are on the south side, and I cannot see that there can be any objection to that. In the country it will probably merely enable business people, not to have orgies of drinking bouts, but to have a meal at the time they want to have it and have their glass of wine or beer with it. If you are touring about the country, the midday hours are extremely inconvenient for people who wish to get lunch. If you go into a hotel at Birmingham after 2 o'clock, you cannot get a drink with your lunch. That, to my mind, is far too early a time because there are many people in business touring round the country, and in holiday time many people arriving at seaside resorts who wish to have alcoholic drink with their lunch and, if it is five minutes after 2 o'clock, they cannot get it. The Bill is merely going to say that these people, instead of continually looking at their watches in order that they may get their lunch before a certain hour, will be given a reasonable extension and can have their meal up to 3 o'clock. My hon. and gallant Friend who introduced the Bill made the point that, if you encourage drinking with meals, it discourages drinking between meals, and that is true. When you have alcohol with food, you drink much less, it has no harmful effects, and you do not gulp it down in quantities as I have seen many people do when the barman says, "Time, please, gentlemen." They drink as much beer in one minute as they would do ordinarily in a quarter of an hour. Another argument that has been used is about tied houses. I cannot see the objection to tied houses. I am afraid many temperance reformers are living in a different age altogether. They look upon a tied house as necessarily an evil, badly conducted house and one which encourages drink. I should like some of my friends from the West Country to go to some of the bigger and more prosperous towns in the Midlands and the North where new houses have been but up by the local brewers. Round Birmingham there are four or five brewery companies which have built houses during the past 10 years or so in the poorer quarters outside the big cities, where new housing schemes have sprung up, which are excellent houses in every way. They are run more on continental lines. They give decent food and refreshment, they have bedrooms where necessary, and I have stayed in one myself and the standard is very high indeed. I have no connection whatever with the brewing trade and I have no shares in breweries—not on principle but because I have not the money to buy them. This discrimination against the trade is being very much overdone. What conditions were a generation ago I do not know, but there is not a brewery company in the country which is not putting up little houses on entirely new lines, making them attractive not only to men who go in to drink, but you see scores of men going there with their womenfolk to have a pleasant evening sitting round a table instead of lounging up against a bar. Another point that has been raised is the question of class legislation. That is a very weak point, because the Bill does not legislate for the rich man in the least. It merely says that any man or woman who wishes to have a drink with his meal shall be entitled to do so up to the hours mentioned in the Bill. That applies equally to someone who goes to the Metropole at Brighton or to some small restaurant at Margate or Blackpool. It does not affect the bar. You can go to any big hotel in London or in the provinces and be able to get your drink up to 3 o'clock. The bar will close at 2 o'clock as before and it will close as much in the big hotels as in the small. I hope there will not be a great deal of opposition to the Bill. It is not a great change and alteration in the social life of this country. It is a very small point indeed, but it raises the question as to whether the Government are likely to introduce legislation on the lines of the recommendations of the Licensing Commission. We have been told that there is no intention of doing so at the moment, and I believe that no other Government are likely to do so either. We should get away from the fact of the Royal Commission altogether and pass this Bill, which removes a legitimate grievance of the ordinary people of this country, and one which has been rankling for a long time. It does not destroy any social principle and does not encourage intemperance in any way, and I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second reading and that the Government will give facilities for passing it into Law.
I desire to intervene in this Debate to give my support to the movement for the rejection of this Bill, and I do so for a number of reasons, some of which I will discuss in the time I intend to detain the House. This is a private Member's Bill, and therefore one gives a vote one way or the other on a matter of this kind without regard to the support one gives to the Government, or without any regard to any party allegiance. I realise that the views I am going to express and the vote I hope to give will be very much at variance with the views and votes of a good many of my hon. Friends, with whom I am glad to think that on most matters of major policy I entirely agree. I am sure that they will say to me, as I say to them, that the respective courses which we take to-day will be taken from no other motive than that of a desire to do what we think is right in our unfettered judgment for those whom we represent.It is the thorny subject of the alteration in the Licensing Laws of this country. I have no hesitation in saying that from my experience I am satisfied that the time is long overdue for a complete overhaul of the licensing system of Great Britain. When that overhaul is necessary it will come, I hope, from a comprehensive measure introduced by the Government of the day. It is not a topic for piecemeal legislation by a private Member's Bill in this form. There is another Bill introduced by a private Member which has gone upstairs, dealing with a similar topic, and how on earth the promoters of this Bill can reconcile its provisions with the provisions of that Bill I fail to comprehend. I readily join in the words of congratulation which went out to my hon. and gallant Friend the hon. Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Gault) for the very skilful and clear way in which he presented the Bill to-day. I would like also to say without impertinence that I rather wish that his energy and enthusiasm had been directed to some other motive than that which we are now considering, because the more you look into the Measure and its proposals, looking at them with a fair judgment, the less you think of them as being in the public interest. In presenting the case he took the course which a good many people do of glossing over all the weaknesses, thinking and hoping, perhaps, that those on the other side would not see them, and he dwelt at extraordinary length on the vexed subjects of the licensing system. A good deal was said about the recommendations of the Royal Commission. No one would welcome more than I should, a comprehensive Measure dealing fully with the recommendations of the members of the Commission who laboured so long and so untiringly. But it is really futile to come here, on a matter like this, with a private Member's Bill which takes out two or three recommendations of that Committee, paying no regard to the whole context of the Report and omitting entirely recommendations which come before and after, and say that these few things—things with which they entirely agree are going to help the trade—are the things which really matter. I should have liked one of my hon. Friends who has spoken in support of this Bill to have reminded the House of Section 261 of the Report of the Royal Commission.
There is not a word said about that matter, and there is not a word suggested in the Bill for the reorganising of those out-of-date, overpriced, expensive hotels which suffer through their own fault. There is not a word said about the almost indecent conditions under which many people in the country have to work, being paid only by way of tips by the customers in the hotels where they are giving their services. The mover of the Bill denied that it was class legislation, but he rightly stated—and for the purposes of the view which I will put to the House, I readily accept his phraselogy—that it is sectional legislation. It is sectional in so far as it helps one section of the community in their enjoyment and another section of the community in their trade. But upon another section of the community—the respectable public-house keeper, who has as good a character as any man—it confers no benefit at all. To the workmen who go to the public-house it confers no benefit at all. It is sectional in the worst sense of sectional legislation, both as to the people it is going to benefit and the trade it is going to give. I agree with the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) that it is a most inane argument to suggest that this is going to be a great Measure for the industrial restoration of the country. How on earth one can suggest that because a man can go to a bad hotel and dine between 10 and 12 and be able to obtain a drink, which is now prohibited, it will increase the trade of the world, I do not know. I confess, too, that I can see no point at all in the argument that this Bill, which we are told, firstly, is a very small Measure, and, secondly, that it is so comprehensive that it will increase the tourist traffic enormously, is going to be of benefit to this country. Do not let us get out of our minds that, as the law of the country stands to-day, governed as it is by the Licensing Act, 1921, which was not a piece of legislation introduced by a private Member, but the considered policy of the Government at that time, as every licensing Measure ought to be, anybody, Britisher or foreigner, can stay at a British licensed hotel and have precisely what he wants at any time of the day or night free from any restriction. It may be right or it may be wrong, but it is the law of the land. It is futile to say that people do not come to our hotels because of the licensing restrictions. Any man who is staying at a licensed hotel in this country is under no restriction of any sort or kind. There are other restrictions. It is nonsense to say that D.O.R.A. still lives and that we want to abolish D.O.R.A. for the other restrictions which exist in licensed houses are the restrictions of the Licensing Act, 1921. One of them says, and says, in my judgment, for a first-class reason, that whereas a man living in an hotel may at any time of the day or night buy for himself what he wants without restriction, yet he cannot legally buy liquid refreshment for anybody who is not a guest of his not staying in the house after the time for permitted sales. All the criticism about that provision is misdirected. I hope that this House will not, neither to-day nor at any other time, take away lightly that restriction of the Licensing Act, 1921. I am not impressed one iota by the thought that it will improve trade. I have never seen those very big business deals done between the hours of ten and twelve with alcoholic refreshment. I would like to think that there is some restriction of hours when we are dealing with the employés in this trade, because it is in the public interest. I hope the House will realise that one of the effects of the Bill will be to enable anybody to take a room for one night and become a resident in one of the licensed houses to which the Bill would apply, and by virtue of that residence on one night be able to get intoxicating liquor sold until midnight, from the beginning of the permitted hours, which need not necessarily be 11 o'clock, but might be 10 o'clock. They would be able to get alcoholic liquors served from 10 o'clock in the morning until midnight, not only to themselves but to their spurious guests, brought in for the purpose of secret drinking. [Laughter.] The House laughs. So far as I am concerned, I would much rather see complete publicity of all licensed bars and premises. I should hate to think that this country had gone from the position of having a tankard on the table to a bottle in the bedroom. That is what you are driving at in this Bill. We are told that hotel proprietors complain of the lack of tourist traffic. Many of the houses are badly managed, there is no service of any sort or kind, and they have not improved themselves in any way. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill spoke of one hotel where he got a bad meal, and he said that it was near a college where he had a course of political instruction. I believe that I could identify both the town and the hotel."The majority of hotels in this country are out of date, the accommodation is unattractive and the catering is primitive; and there is obviously an absence of trained hotel management. These conditions apply all over England and Wales and are especially noticeable in our large industrial and commercial centres."
Not Nottingham, I hope.
Not Nottingham, nor the City of Leicester. It is a town where most of the hotels are thoroughly bad and decrepit. They have not modernised themselves in accordance with public ideas of up-to-date convenience, and such hotels now desire to take advantage of the proposed increased facilities for the sale of alcoholic liquor with so-called meals at hours when otherwise they would not be able to serve alcohol. If that particular hotel had been exercising its proper function in accordance with modern ideas, my hon. and gallant Friend would have been able to get a meal at any time of the day or night. There is no restriction in hours in regard to meals sold to travellers when they go to hotels. The hotels in question are out of date, thoroughly inefficient, and over-priced. One of the most terrible things one can say about them is that they employ persons whom they do not pay and they keep them under conditions which in many cases, if not all, are nothing short of appalling. The hon. Member for Westhoughton said that employment in this trade is rotten. It must be admitted that there are many first-class houses who provide first-class assistance and reasonable conditions for those in their employ. There are many licensed houses associated with those non-licensed houses who perform a great public service in giving reasonable food at all times at reasonable prices to the public. They are not the people who are clamouring for this Bill. It is the out-of-date, over priced, inefficient institutions that come to this House and ask for extra time in order to sell more liquor and to get better returns, rather than put their houses in order and give an inducement for people to go and stay there.Let me deal with the Bill. Mr. Hugh Wontner, the General Secretary of the Hotels' and Restaurants' Association, in a letter to the "Times" yesterday refers to the Bill in these terms:
With all due respect to Mr. Wontner, his interpretation of the position is not quite right. This Bill does extend and widen the permitted hours for the sale of intoxicating liquors. It gives from the closing time at night, which may be ten o'clock until midnight the right, and a very cherished right, to have liquor supplied not only to residents but to friends with them on the premises; a very wide extension. There is no time provided in the Licensing Act for the consumption of intoxicants with a meal after 2.30; in some places it is 3 o'clock, in others it is 2 o'clock. There has to be a time limit somewhere. Where are you going to fix it? If a man cannot get to a licensed house for a meal before 2 o'clock or 2.30 he will be reasonable enough to recognise the restriction which prevents him from having a drink with his meal. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Reading referred to foreigners who come to this country and who are struck by our licensing restrictions. They are struck by nothing of the kind. They are struck by the liberty we enjoy, by the law-abiding character of our people in all stations of life, by our balance and understanding, the qualities which are characteristic of our race. I should like to say something not on the merits of the Bill, as there are none, but on its demerits. I hope that when hon. Members go into the Division Lobby they will fully appreciate what is meant by Clause 1. If I remember rightly there was almost unanimity of opinion in the Royal Commission that however good or however bad the present system of Brewster Sessions might be—I think a good deal of alteration ought to be made in them, for I do not like the present system at all—there must be some tribunal, which has complete public confidence, vested with the right to exercise discretion. That is not open to question. But Clause I says:"May I correct a misconception, which seems to be general, that the Bill seeks to extend the hours during which intoxicating liquors may be served with a bona fide meal? It does not extend the permitted hours for the sale of intoxicants either with or without a meal; it reinstates and standardizes the permitted hours already provided for by the Licensing Act of 1921, which is the latest Act dealing with permitted hours. The Bill, should it become an Act, will on the contrary make the closing mid-day hour for the consumption of intoxicants with a meal 3 p.m. instead of 3.30 p.m., the time provided by the Licensing Act of 1921, in certain areas in the Provinces."
That strips the tribunal of its discretion and makes it obligatory."The justices shall direct that the licence be entitled an 'hotel licence' or a 'restaurant licence,' as the case may be."
Under the first part of Sub-section (1) the applicant has to satisfy the licensing justices.
The hon. and learned Member is right. He has to satisfy them, but when he has satisfied them it is pro- vided that the justices shall be obliged to give this privilege. My hon. and learned Friend emphasises the point that the applicant has to satisfy the justices. How has he to satisfy them? First, that a certain percentage of his takings, irrespective of his bar takings, are in relation to the sale of meals. In the case of a building which is not yet erected he has to satisfy the justices that there is a reasonable prospect that when the place is built there will be a certain percentage of this contingent amount in the till which has been taken for the sale of meals. How on earth they can prove that a building not yet erected will show so much returns for the sale of liquor and so much from food I cannot comprehend. No such nebulous Measure, impossible and impracticable to be put into operation, should be made part of the licensing legislation affecting the whole country. The discretion should remain part of the right of a proper licensing authority which has the confidence of the public.
Why does my hon. and learned Friend make thirdly first? Why does he not tell the House about all the conditions?
If the hon. Member will wait I will deal with that point. I am dealing now with two or three provisions in the Bill which are, obviously, impossible as legislation.
The hon. Member will observe that the court has the right of refusing a licence.
Of course, the court has the right; they can refuse the whole thing. But what is going to happen under this Clause? The applicant can point out that he has fulfilled all the conditions and there is, therefore, every chance of the refusal being reversed. This is a very serious matter because it affects the whole of the licensing arrangements of the country and millions of people. In Clause 4, Sub-section (3), we find that:
Drinking water available—where? The framers of the Bill omit any reference to the words "on all tables," upon which the Royal Commission insisted particularly. Where is the drinking water to be available? I suppose in the well or in the tap. I say that this is merely a cynical insertion, put in for the express purpose of trying to gloss over a lot of other things which are most unfortunate."In all premises in respect of which an hotel licence or a restaurant licence is in force fresh drinking water shall be avail able where meals or refreshments are served, and if default is made in complying with the provisions of this subsection the holder of the licence shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds."
May I draw the attention of the hon. Member to paragraph 277 in the Report of the Royal Commission, where it says:
"Fresh drinking water should be available on all tables."
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, he has completed the case I am trying to make. The recommendation of the Royal Commission was that on every table fresh drinking water should be available when liquors or refreshments are served. Where is that in the Bill? My hon. Friend did not tell the House that in the same paragraph the Royal Commission say:
"No commission should be received by any member of the staff on the sale of intoxicants."
Yes, why is that not in the Bill?
I should like to know why it is not in the Bill. The Bill has been moved and seconded in a very skilful way. Not one word has been said about these omissions from the Report of the Royal Commission. The promoters want to skate over provisions which they know would never be assented to by this House. If the payment of commission on the sale of alcoholic liquor in these hotels and restaurants was abolished the Bill would not be so valuable. Let me now pass to the extraordinary provisions in Clause 5. We have heard a great deal about what has to be done to qualify by these super-places who want to serve the public at all hours of the day, and perhaps the House will bear with me for a few moments while I discuss the proposals in this Clause. We have not heard much about it so far, and for a very good reason. It says:
That means that if the house is not fit for a hotel or restaurant licence under the special provisions the licensing authorities can, if they think fit, order that Sub-section (1) of Clause 4 of Sub-section (3) shall apply just the same. There is a good deal behind this. It means that once a house fails to satisfy the justices that it is fitted by its takings to be called a hotel or restaurant under the Bill the justices are empowered to give in any house, any resident the right to obtain at any time up to midnight from the opening time drink for any guests on the premises. That is a tremendous inroad on our present, licensing law, and it is right against the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the Licensing Act of 1921. The Bill and the extensions it gives is pivotted upon meals. We shall have the old humbug of the old sandwich. You are going to give facilities to hotels to sell the sandwich over and over again at prices they fix, and call it a meal in order to have the facilities under the Bill which are wanted by certain hotels and restaurants. I Can quite understand that there are certain parts of London, Westminster for example, which may be in a different position to other places in the country, but the Westminster Licensing Justices are able to treat Westminster as they think fit; and I am told that the Bill would mean no extension of time in Westminster. But districts in the country do not want it. There is no demand of any sort or kind anywhere in the country for the Bill. The women of the country are wholly against it. There is not a working woman in my division who would not raise her hands in alarm if she thought her children had to grow up in a country where there were no restrictions on licensing hours. If the Bill is passed there can be no refusal to extend the hours to every public house. I should have far more sympathy with a Bill to abolish entirely licensing restrictions. I should not agree with it but I should certainly listen to the proposals with more patience than I do to this Bill. I do not approach this matter as a teetotaller. I claim to be temperate. I am in touch with my division. I know the public-houses in my constituency in Leicester and I say that those public-houses are run by people of first-class character carrying out the law, and if anyone is to have an extension of hours why should not they have an extension? I have had no request from my division to support this Bill; indeed, there is in my constituency the strongest feeling against the Measure. I believe that the working-classes generally are against it, and are united in their opposition to any such sectional legislation as this. I believe that the Bill, if analysed, could be torn to pieces. This is not the Bill, and this is not the time, and the country is not in a condition, to consider any such extension as is proposed. There can be nothing made by way of argument on the conditions in France as opposed to the conditions here. Our hotels are alone to blame for any preference that there may be for Continental hotels. There is in Canada a perfectly appointed, perfectly managed string of first-class and convenient hotels, with which what are called hotels in this country will not stand comparison. In this country the people are not looked after at all but are exploited in nine cases out of ten. These Canadian hotels have not a licence. The "Royal York" at Toronto was built at a time when the law was such that there could be no licence. It has 1,500 bedrooms and 1,500 bathrooms and is the biggest and best hotel in the Empire. They did not wait for concessions to become modern."If upon any application under the principal Act for the grant of a Justices' on-licence or for the removal of a Justices' on-licence the applicant, although unable to satisfy the licensing Justices that the premises in respect of which the application is made fulfil the special qualifications for an hotel licence or for a restaurant licence, as the case may be, satisfies them that the premises fulfil all the said qualifications except those specified in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (2) of section one of this Act or in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (3) of section one of this Act, respectively, the justices may, if they think fit, by order direct that both Sub-section (1) of section four of this Act, except paragraph (a) thereof, and Sub-section (3) of that section shall apply to the premises as if an hotel licence or a restaurant licence were in force in respect of the premises."
A bottle in every bedroom.
If my hon. and learned Friend decries the theory of secret bedroom drinking I hope he will be one of the tellers on our side against the Bill.
What the hon. and learned Member advanced was that he did not like to think that a tankard was to go off the table. But we should have a bottle in the bedroom instead. It is in Canada, where there is no licence, that you do find a whisky bottle in every bedroom.
I appreciate my hon. and learned Friend's statement. Once you take away publicity and control you do encourage secret drinking. To give to a hotel resident the right to entertain up to midnight is allowing the very possibility that none of us want to see established. After what has been said by the Mover of the rejection of the Bill I hope the House will hesitate before giving it a Second Reading. The Bill is unworkable, it is unpractical, it is wholly unnecessary, and there is no public for it. It is not difficult to see the injuries that may arise in many ways and the repercussions that may develop throughout the country if this piece of unnecessary legislation, for which no one has asked, is passed.This House has a duty to the public and to the people who are employed in this industry. It would have been very much better if, before this Bill had been introduced to-day for the second time—[An HON. MEMBER: "For the fourth time!"]—something had been said by the promoters about the hours and wages which are suffered by the people employed in these hotels. The man who works in a hotel or public house and earns an honest living is as much entitled to the respect of his fellow-men or women as anyone else. Any person engaged in a legitimate occupation is entitled to that respect. If it is the fourth time that this Bill has been introduced I think its framers are a little remiss in not telling us how they propose to improve conditions which we all deplore. Let the hotels show us a better standard for these workers. I would have liked to have heard something about the average wages paid to men and women employed in the hotels of the country. I would have liked to have heard something as to how it was proposed to rid the industry of that demoralising influence which results in queues forming up in hotels for tips, whereby employés are paid by the customers and not by their employers, how much of the emoluments of the average man employed in some of the provincial hotels that I decry bitterly comes from the hotel itself and how much is dependent on the gratuities of the customer, who perhaps cannot afford it. I would like some regulation of the industry to provide that there shall be a minimum wage paid by the house and a maximum working day fixed for men, women and young persons. When the hotels come to me and show me a Bill not merely for enriching themselves but showing that they are going to alter their houses so as to meet the needs of modern conditions, showing that, they will give the public a better service at reasonable prices and secure for their employés a reasonable standard of life, a reasonable wage and working day, I shall be the first to go into the Lobby and support any legislation of the kind.
Those who have listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) must have been amazed by the prejudice and the want of knowledge that he has shown in criticising the Bill. What one has to try to do in considering the Bill is to see what it seeks to do and why the hotel and restaurant industry is asking to have a separate licence. That is the main point. The whole object of the Bill is to take hotels and restaurants out of the category of the ordinary public house and to create a licence for hotels and restaurants. It has been said that this matter should be considered on the Royal Commission's Report dealing with the licensing trade as a whole, but most of us know that if we wait until the Royal Commission's Report is dealt with by this House we shall wait for a very long time. Therefore it was considered desirable, in the interests of the hotels, which after all are a great national asset, that this legislation should be introduced.Notwithstanding the statements of ill-informed Members that the hotels of this country are so bad, I venture to say, after some experience of them during the last 20 or 25 years, that enormous improvements have been made. We are told that the facilities given on the Continent are much better than those given here. I could point to many places in London in which we are far ahead of anything on the Continent. It seems a little unfortunate that Members of Parliament who are biased, who do not approach the Bill from a reasonable point of view, who seem to lose all sense of proportion when any discussion arises on a licensing matter, should make such speeches as we have heard. The underlying objections to the Bill seem to be summed up in this: "Because you are not seeing to the public houses in my district I am not going to have the question of hotels and restaurants considered." The criticisms made of this Bill have not been on its merits at all. As I have tried to show, the first idea of the Bill is to take the hotel and restaurant business out of the category of the public house. The hon. and learned Member for East Leicester made the statement that by the Bill we were creating quite a new state of things in connection with applications which would be made to justices for permission to come under the proposed new hotel and restaurant licence. The hon. and learned Member suggested that if an applicant did not comply with the necessary regulations that would empower him to designate his business a hotel or restaurant under this Measure, he was at once going to do something which was entirely against the law.
I said nothing of the kind. I did not suggest that anything would be done against the law. I simply gave my view of the legal position.
I do not wish to misrepresent the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I understood his point to be that those who ran hotels and restaurants and who did not get this new licence were going to ignore all the regulations and do something which they ought not to do. If he did not mean that, then what was the object of his observation? It is difficult to understand what was in his mind. He seemed to think that because the justices were asked if they were satisfied as to the conditions of a place, whether it was suitable and adapted for the purpose, and whether proper provision was made in it and if the justices did not agree that those conditions were fulfilled, then something new would arise under this Bill. But if the justices do not think that the provisions of this Measure have been carried out they will not grant the new licence. Surely the position then will be no worse than the position to-day.
I am sure that, as he has said, the hon. Member does not want to misrepresent me. The whole of my expression was directed to Clause 5 of the Bill which says, in effect, that if the applicant fails in certain respects, to satisfy the justices they can still give him certain benefits which would not be available except for this Measure. Will the hon. Member therefore do me the justice of dealing with Clause 5 and the matter to which I have referred and will he show me any point upon which I was either ill-informed or desired to misrepresent the position?
That is the Clause regarding special provisions as to promises used as hotels or restaurants, not being premises in respect of which an hotel licence or a restaurant licence is in force?
This Clause provides:
I do not think I am competent to give a legal opinion upon that Clause at this moment—such a legal opinion as my hon. and learned Friend who receives, I hope, very good fees for his opinion, would give."If upon any application under the principal Act for the grant of a Justices' on-licence or for the removal of a Justices' on-licence the applicant, although unable to satisfy the licensing Justices that the premises in respect of which the application is made fulfil the special qualifications for an hotel licence or for a restaurant licence, as the case may be, satisfies them that the premises fulfil all the said qualifications except those specified in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (2) of section one of this Act or in paragraph (c) of Sub-section (3) of section one of this Act, respectively, the Justices may, if they think fit, by order direct that both Sub-section (1) of section four of this Act, except paragraph (a) thereof, and Sub-section (3) of that section shall apply to the premises as if an hotel licence or a restaurant licence were in force in respect of the premises."
Will the hon. Member then withdraw his statement that what I said was incorrect? If I am wrong, I want him to show where I am wrong. If I am right he ought to withdraw.
I said that the hon. and learned Member was wrong in his general statement, first, as to the condition of the hotels of this country, and, secondly, as to the conditions of labour in the hotel industry. That is where I say he is misinforming the House and I am within the recollection of the House in saying that he made those statements, for which there is no justification. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
On a point of Order, I think the hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) made the sweeping statement that all the hotels in this country were mismanaged.
There does not, appear to be any point of Order involved. Hon. Members are responsible for the accuracy of their own statements.
I wish to come back to the merits of the Bill and to what its critics have to say about it. The objectors say that the promotors of the Bill have not carried out, in all its detail the recommendation of the Royal Commission. A great point has been made about the provision and availability of water at meals. It seems to be suggested that water must be on every table and must remain there all day. To any person who gives it any thought, that must appear as not a very hygienic or practical suggestion. That is not to say that water should not be provided for those who require it and provided without delay at the moment when they ask for it. I do not think that that point is very serious in spite of the stress which has been laid upon it. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) described this as a rich man's Bill, but I do not see that point at all. The man who goes into a restaurant where he can get refreshments at popular prices, would get the same facilities as the man who goes into an expensive restaurant. Then there seems to be in the House a misconception with regard to the profits made on liquor. As a matter of fact as far as this Bill is concerned, liquor is merely ancillary. The primary consideration in this Bill, which hon. Members seem to forget, is the question of drink with meals and hot of drink alone, and there is a considerable difference involved.I well remember the case of a particular building where there was no licence, and a certain number of people used to go into the building, but when they had a licence much more business was done, not so much in percentage of intoxicating liquor sold, but the mere fact that the public had an opportunity to get either alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink seemed to make that particular place more popular than when they were excluded from having one kind of drink. When one hears hon. Members say that the only object of this legislation is to increase the sale of liquor and to make more profit, it is a great mistake, so far as the sale of liquor is concerned. It is true, it may be, that it will increase the general sale or increase business generally, but if all the things that have been said about the Bill with regard to the large increase in drinking that might take place were right, those who are entitled to the privilege of this special licence would fall out, because they would exceed their percentage of revenue from alcoholic drink to general takings, and therefore they would not get the privilege of the new licence. Hon. Members seem to omit that very important point. If hon. Members were to consider this Bill Clause by Clause and to take particular notice of a Clause which provides that the Minister is to prescribe certain rules and regulations for the carrying out of the Bill, I think they would agree that there is not much chance of anything wrong coming from it. No one is more in favour of true temperance than I am, and I can venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that I have been connected with a business that has done much for true temperance. I honestly do not believe that if this Bill is passed, it will do any harm whatsoever in the way of increasing drunkenness. It must also be borne in mind that in these days, and particularly since the War, there is a great fashion for people to live at hotels and to treat hotels as their homes. Would any hon. Member suggest that if a person is entertaining friends at home, he should not be entitled to give them a drink if they require it? I submit you have to recognise that fashions change. People are giving up houses and living to a large extent at hotels, and they treat the hotel us their home. Is it unreasonable to say that if they are entertaining friends who are not living at the hotel, they should not be entitled to give them a drink? That is all that this Bill provides for. To suggest that people are merely going to entertain their friends with the idea of giving them drinks, at the price of drinks to-day—well, I do not think that that will happen to any extent. You can exaggerate all points, and you can imagine that certain things are going to happen, but it is interesting to observe that drunkenness generally in this country is gradually falling. Under this Bill you are going to have uniform hours, not longer hours, for it must be remembered that the permitted hours remain the same as in the 1921 Act, and all that you are going to have is regularity or uniformity of hours for hotels and restaurants. It seems absurd that on one side of Oxford Street you cannot drink with your meals after a certain time, and that on the other side of the street you can. It is to have uniformity so far as the Metropolis is concerned, and so far as the country is concerned as well, in regard to hotels and restaurants that this Bill is brought forward; and when you come to study the Bill and leave out of your minds all prejudice, it will be found that the Bill is a reasonable Bill and one deserving of all support.
I very much regret that the hon. Member who has just sat down made no attempt whatever to answer the very plain statement that was made respecting the labour conditions in hotels.
I thought I said that the result of the Colfax inquiry proved that those particular charges are not founded on fact.
I did not hear that. One of the Clauses of this Bill takes out of the hands of the licensing justices the right to any supervision of alterations in certain hotels. As a justice myself for many years, it is only right to point out that on the occasion of many of these alterations to hotels the question of the provision of room for the staff very often comes up, and it has been our duty up to now to see, when these alterations come along, that really proper sanitary provision is made for the staff. Apparently that right is now to be taken out of the hands of the justices, and the hotel proprietor is to have the right to make such alterations as he chooses on the hotel side, and consequently any provision of sleeping accommodation, a most important point, is to be left entirely at the mercy of those who own the hotel.
They have to apply every year.
It is all very well to say that, but that is not in the Bill.
He has to apply annually for the renewal of the special hotel and restaurant licence. I can assure the hon. Member that that is so.
I accept the hon. Member's statement, but that does not affect my main point, that it will be very unwise indeed to take the supervision of these alterations out of the hands of the licensing justices. I am not arguing for a moment that in the case of small alterations up to £5 or something like that it should not be quite sufficient to have them notified to the justices without expense, but on the graver issue the long experience of many of us is sufficient to make us say that this particular right of supervision should be very adequately safeguarded. Another point against the Bill is that it is the beginning of an attempt to take entirely out of the hands of the licensing magistrates those rights which they have exercised for so many years. In certain quarters, because licensing benches do not exactly see eye to eye with applicants from time to time, there seems to be the beginning of a campaign to take out of the hands of licensing justices a great deal of the licensing work which they perform to-day. Although it may be said that the licensing benches have made mistakes, still I claim that on the whole the licensing benches have done really great and good service to this nation in the exercise of their duty. Almost every speaker in support of this Bill has declared that it is not class legislation. They have denied that in toto and have said it is selective legislation. I have a circular issued by the National Consultative Council of the Retail Liquor Trade, in which they say:
That is the opinion of those who are responsible for the retail liquor trade. I think there is no doubt, in spite of all that has been said to the contrary, that this is a piece of class legislation. The hon. and gallant Member for Aston (Captain A. Hope) made reference to the magnificent new public-houses that have been erected in and around Birmingham, and made particular play with the improvements that have been effected. Not one of those houses would come within the scope of this Bill. Let me put another point to the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon) I am very perturbed at the restaurant side of this Bill. For many years I have looked with satisfaction and pride upon the growth of the teashops in London and the provinces. I have said over and over again that they are the finest things that have ever been instituted in the modern age for providing facilities for young persons so that they need not be attracted to the public-house. There is something in this Bill which strikes me as particularly sinister for, as far as I can see, there is nothing in it to prevent the owners of great chains of teashops in London and the provinces applying for a restaurant licence to sell intoxicating liquor. If that be so, we are face to face with a very serious matter. I put it to the hon. Member for Harrow, who, knows his business through and through, and to the House that under this Bill there is nothing to prevent the great majority of the teashops as we know them being in a position to supply intoxicating liquor, because the vast majority of the shops, under the modern methods of the great firm with which my hon. Friend is associated, would pass the necessary test of suitable premises."The real effect of the Bill would be that a member of the public who is able to afford an expensive meal late at night, or late in the afternoon, can have intoxicating liquor supplied therewith, notwithstanding the close of permitted hours in the district; whereas the poorer man who can only afford a more modest kind of refreshment in a public house is deprived of these benefits. From this point of view the Bill is pure class legislation, and, as such, should not be supported."
Let me put the hon. Member right, for this is a very important point. I think the hon. Member is wrong. It is a fact that before one can get an endorsement on a licence one has to have a licence, and that licence can only be granted by the licensing justices.
It has been worth while raising this point to get that very clear statement from the Under-Secretary.
I understand that the hon. Member is making the point that under this Bill it will be possible for tea-shops to obtain these licences. May I point out that teashops will be unable to satisfy the conditions of Sub-section (2, c, i) of Clause 1, that is to say, they will not be able to satisfy the justices that their sale of food and drink represent a particular percentage of their sales. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not more than one half."] Certainly, but the teashops do not serve these drinks at all now, and therefore they are not within the Bill.
I am obliged to the hon. Member for the information, but may I further point out that there is a very real danger that the approval given to the extension of drinking with meals and to all-day treating will be cited in support of applications for new licences for restaurants that are at present unlicensed. I am a member of a licensing bench, and the hon. Member for Harrow is a member on the bench with me. He knows, as I do, that over and over again we get applications for new licences, and they are backed up chiefly on the ground that they can quite well supply meals. That is an argument which has a great weight with many of the licensing justices. Every time an application is made, learned counsel declare that the applicants are not looking at the matter from the point of view of merely supplying liquor, and that the amount would be very small, but that they wanted to supply a demand for drink with meals. Shall we not, as a consequence of the passing of this Bill, be faced with a great number of applications for new licences, and will not this Bill be used in support of the applications? I think that we shall.Speaking as a man with many years' experience of my own people, I should look, and I think all decent people would look, with disfavour on the extension of more premises for the sale of liquor, especially the kind of premises of the teashop-restaurant type, which are now unlicensed. Above all, I hope that we are not going to see any real attempt made to convert those places into places where liquor can be sold. If this Bill gets a Second Reading and goes to the Committee, may I make an appeal to the Government to see whether something cannot really be done to safeguard the interests of the employés? I am not going to make sweeping charges on this matter, but it is known, not only to myself, who as a trade union leader knows something at first hand of this question, but to many Members of the House, who can see it from every-day experience, that the conditions of workers in hotels are far from as satisfactory as decent men would like to see them to-day. There is considerable room for improvement. This Bill will increase the hours of labour of employ⃩s in hotels. Surely it might be worth the while of the Minister to look into this matter. Figures can be given for certain places, but I know that in the vast majority of hotels the workers' conditions of labour leave a great deal to be desired. Finally, let me make this point. During the last fortnight I have received a great number of petitions, signed by women, against this Bill. I have heard during the Debate references to the domestic bliss which would follow from a man being able to take his wife into a hotel at half-past eleven or twelve o'clock. That kind of argument leaves me quite cold. I am satisfied that the proposals for an extension of licensing facilities in this Bill and in the Bill which was before us a fortnight ago, are arousing very grave doubts in the minds of women as to where this House is getting to on this matter. The time has come when it is true to say that women, who are a very important and powerful section, politically, of the people, are deadly opposed to increased licensing facilities. The argument that in some way or other this Bill will attract some 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 foreigners will not bear looking at for five minutes. I am satisfied that the only purpose of the Bill is to bring increased profits to those who are interested in this trade. I say quite definitely that this is a Bill which is brought forward for the express purpose of increasing the profits of those hotels and restaurants which will come under it. I have no reason to argue that that is necessarily a bad thing, but I do submit that it is a bad thing to allow people to increase their profits if they do so at the expense of the well-being of the community, and more particularly if it is at the expense of that family life which is one of our most powerful national characteristics. I am opposing the Bill, but if it should get a Second Reading I would appeal to the Minister to try to do something to limit the potentialities for evil in it; if there is any good in it to bring out what good there may be; and, above everything else, to attempt to give some protection to the employés of hotels, whose conditions of labour are far from satisfactory at the moment.
May I ask the hon. Member one question? He told us that he had received a number of petitions against this Bill from women. I wish to ask whether he has received a single petition from any person against this Bill alone; or were they petitions against the two Bills, as to which the people could not express their views separately?
I should not like to mislead the hon. Member. I am satisfied that some of the petitions were against the two Bills. I have received petitions against this Bill before us to-day.
I rise with considerable diffidence to intervene in this Debate in the presence of so many experts, but I represent a constituency whose views have a right to be heard on a Bill of this character. I wish to say at once that we feel that this is not a drink question at all, because the Bill applies only to the provision of alcohol with meals in accordance with the provisions of the Licensing Act of 1921. I was rather sorry to hear the hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) make a rather sweeping statement—I caught him on the point—that most of our hotels are badly managed. I invite the hon. and learned Member, who is not in his place at the moment, to come to Blackpool and have a look at some of our hotels and then say if they are not properly managed.
They are some of the worst hotels in Europe.
Does my hon. Friend say that I am not in my place?
I was looking for you in your usual seat opposite. I felt it rather hard that the hon. and learned Member should make such a sweeping statement and include my constituency in it. We cater for very large crowds. Every weekend we have a great influx of visitors into our town. Many of them have to wait until a very late hour before they can get away, and if we do not give them reasonable facilities they have either to carry liquor about with them or go without. We feel very strongly that the grant of reasonable facilities, or an extension of facilities, would not only be for the welfare of the community in my town but for the welfare of the community at large. I feel, and certainly Blackpool feels, very strongly in this matter. We think that the granting of these special licences would raise the status of our hotels and restaurants, and in no way debase the various public-houses we have heard mentioned. Indeed, I would invite hon. Members to come down to my constituency and see the type of public-house that is going up.
I was at Blackpool last year, and late at night, about half-past eleven, went into a well-known hotel-restaurant, but could not get a sandwich at that time of night unless I paid five bob, which was the standard charge. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That is the answer to you.
I am glad to be able to say that this Bill will do away with that. We want to be reasonable in this matter; we do not want to be obliged to pay five shillings. But that makes no difference to the argument as to the way we run our hotels generally. I cannot do less than advocate support of this Bill, because not only is it for the well-being of the community at large but in the interests of providing those amenities by which, whatever the hon. Member who has just sat down, may say, we try to encourage foreign visitors to this country. We ought to take every possible means of doing that, because I am sure that all reasonable people are in favour of it. Large numbers of people, Frenchmen and others, go to Italy and to Spain who might be attracted to this country, which would be for the wellbeing of this country. All possible means should be taken to encourage these visitors to come here. There is one little point which interested me a short time ago when I was coming back from America. I thought it was a pity that our Cunarders should first call at Cherbourg instead of coming direct to Southampton and then making the trip to Cherbourg, because I know that many Americans and others are in that way side-tracked from visiting this country. They went on to Paris, and said they would come to London afterwards. If they had been brought to Southampton first they would have come here in the first instance. I mention that as a side point, because every possible effort should be made to encourage foreign visitors to come to this country, which is the best country in the world to visit, and the town I represent is foremost in providing attractions for foreign visitors.
I listened to the very well-informed speech of the Mover of this Bill, and I was interested to learn that his main concern was that we should have a proper regard for what he called "the flatters." He gave us an interesting account of the evolution of the flatters who have meals at hotels and restaurants—they have no homes. His second plea was that the tourists who drink wine at home, in France and in other countries, at their meals, under the slightest provocation, should be considered when they were good enough to come to our hospitable shores. He said that London is the most sought-after place in the world, even with the present restrictions, and give them one and a half extra hours of drinking at night and they would never leave this delectable playground. Whenever I see the hon. Member, and whenever he rises in the House, I shall recognise him as the Member for Piccadilly Circus. He is actually the Member for Taunton, but in essence he described himself as the Member for Piccadilly Circus, because there, if you please, London is once again the criterion for the rest of the country.
This Bill does not alter the law with regard to Piccadilly Circus.
That is just the point to which I am coming. Not for the first time have I heard in this House, to my intense dislike, that the inner circle of London—what we call the playground of the world—is the criterion from which we should take our habits and customs, if not our morals. For the sake of those homeless wanderers, said the mover of the Bill, who go from flat to flat and from hotel to hotel, seeking rest but finding none, we should pass this Bill, as well as for the tourists who come from countries which groan under dictatorships and constant upheavals, and who long for the quiet waters of Leicester Square. We, who represent folk who like real homes and loath jazzy crooners, are asked to change our quiet customs regarding drinking facilities, for the sake of such flotsam and jetsom—an ignominious minority who never did any good for themselves or anybody else. We steady-going English folk who are the envy of the world in everything are asked to take our time from these lost, wandering tribes.I have received hundreds of petitions from the very cream of my constituency, asking me not to support the Bill. I have heard those petitioners derided this morning on the ground that most of them are women. I will have the women, if you please, at my back every time, because the women are the people who settle the moral standards of our country. It does not matter very much about the men. If our women are not right, it is a bad job for us. I remember what my mother and the folk like she was, and I prefer to keep that good company to any other. Hundreds of them have appealed to me to vote against the Bill, and the only little orphan in support of the Bill, among the petitions that I have received, is from the Travel and Industrial Development Association of Great Britain and Ireland. "Industrial Development"—God save the mark! They have sent me a resolution, which I hold in my hand, and which they say was unanimously passed at a meeting of the executive on 7th February, so that it is quite up-to-date. The resolution opens by saying:
Then they say, as their first reason:"That in the opinion of the Travel Association the Hotels and Restaurants Bill is worthy of the support of all Members of Parliament for the following reasons.
We will examine that for a moment. The Bill omits the important recommendation in the Report of the Royal Commission which says:"It is not a 'drink' Bill."
and that"No premises in regard to which any tie exists in respect of the supply of intoxicating liquor or of any other commodity should be eligible for or continue to hold a hotel or restaurant licence."
That also is a recommendation of the Commission, but it is not embodied in the Bill. I had the good, or ill, fortune to be on the Committee upstairs which dealt with the last Bill, and there were only five or six of us to fight the battle against the Bill. All the other 35 were great temperance reformers though, knowing them as I did, I scarcely believed it; but they said so. They said that there was no such thing as drink in their minds. In regard to the hon Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), whom I am glad to see here, it may seem an incredible thing and might suggest that the age of miracles has not yet passed, but he refrained from speech, even from good words."No commission should be received by any member of the staff on the sale of intoxicants."
On a point of Order. If the hon. Member will read the OFFICIAL REPORT for 17th May, 1933, column 1136, he will find that the statement which he has just made is inaccurate.
That was when the Bill was well under way, and when we had come to the question of tied houses and things like that, and the question of dealing with public-houses. Let me turn to the resolution of the Travel and Industrial Development Association. As I have stated, the first item of it states that this is not a drink Bill. We know, as a matter of experience here and in the Committee, that the position is very much the contrary. The second item of the resolution is
The reasons given by the Commission for discrimination between hotels and other licensed premises were first, in Paragraph 259,"The recognition of hotels and restaurants by the grant of a separate licence will improve the status of the hotel industry and thus raise the general standard of hotel accommodation in this country."
So it was not by means of licences that status was to be increased and heightened, but by not having more sales of intoxicants, and on that ground the Commission reported in favour of further legislation. That rebuts the statement in the second part of the resolution. In the third Clause, the resolution goes on:"The encouragement in licensed premises by every means practicable of business other than the sale of intoxicants, and … the need for improving the status standard of the hotel and catering industry."
Those beautiful sounding periods must encourage everyone who has the trade and commerce of this country at heart. Alcoholic refreshment with meals—we shall probably see signs to that effect on Cook's tours, at Blackpool, and at other places; but hon. Members who were on the Committee will remember that I asked the then Solicitor-General, now Mr. Justice Merriman, whether he could give a definition of a meal, and he could not do so. He said, "I know an elephant when I see one, although I may not be able to describe it." What that had to do with a meal I do not know. I suggested that the term used by the Royal Commission was a better one, namely "substantial refreshment." But would they agree to that? Not they. They wanted something that could not be defined, that can always be seen through, like the fancy sandwiches you can get in Oxford Street to-night."Better accommodation and service, coupled with the standardisation of hours for alcoholic refreshment with meals, will increase the number of overseas visitors whose expenditure benefits, directly and indirectly, every trade and industry in the country."
You cannot eat them.
No, you cannot eat them, and they never try to eat them. They are just passed round—the same old sandwiches, with the trade mark on them. They are just a camouflage for more drinking. I suggest that we in the North know what a square meal is. It is not merely a handing round affair, like these polite affairs at afternoon at-homes, but it means your knees under the table and a knife and fork in your hands. That is a meal—not a piece of spiced loaf or a wafer of a sandwich. That is no meal at all, but merely make-believe. Let us get down to tintacks and be honest in our descriptions of these things. I have no objection to the liquor trade making profits out of these things, if they care to do so; that is their business; but for God's sake and for honesty's sake let us see that it is profit, and not camouflage things like this.The fourth proposition in the Resolution to which I have referred is this:
One would think that hotels and restaurants were the main places of refreshment in England. I was told this morning by a Conservative friend of mine, whose opinion I regard very highly, that I should not speak on this Bill at all because I am a total abstainer. I have had illness in my house for the last three weeks or so, but, incredible though it may seem, I did not ask the doctor if he had had appendicitis when he diagnosed it. I did not think that that was a necessary qualification for the job of surgeon. To say that because I do not drink I ought not to speak on this Bill is simply nonsense. Reference was made by an hon. Member opposite to some observations of the National Consultative Council of the Retail Liquor Trade, in which they give reasons why this is class legislation. I am not a prohibitionist; I am what I am because I choose to be so, and I would not dictate to any other man what he should be. I may quarrel with my prohibitionist friends about it, but the way that God made me is good enough for me. He gave me the faculty of free will, and the door of salvation swings upon that pivot. I am either saved or damned by my own consent, and that is good enough for me. I do not wish to dictate to any man, and I do not wish to be dictated to as to my own taste. The ordinary working man, who can only afford, in giving his pal a drink, to give him a straight pint, as he calls it, is cleared out at 10 o'clock at night, but his well-to-do neighbour, who can spend half-a-crown, even on a faked sandwich, can go into a more prosperous restaurant and continue to drink for another hour and a half. I say that that is class legislation, and that is what the National Consultative Council of the Retail Liquor Trade say. They ought to know, and I agree with their position. The Mover of the Bill said that this was only a little Bill, only a little lamb which he hoped would come—I had almost said to the place of slaughter—which he hoped would come safely to the fold—his little black sheep which he hoped would come safely home—the little ewe lamb. Let my Scottish friends note this, because it will be their turn next if this Bill goes through. I do not know what kind of a lamb the Scottish lamb will be, but I am rather afraid of the progeny that may result. We may have all kinds of Bills relating to the, licensed trade brought into this House. I say once again that I have had only one request to vote for this Bill, and thousands the other way round. I regret to think that this National Government is, in the opinion of the country, considered to be slack in regard to moral questions. That is the trend of opinion. I am a faithful supporter of the National Government. I came here to support it, and I intend to do so. If it is doing badly—I do not think it is—that is all the more reason why I should support it faithfully; that is how I understand things. But I, for one, object to the good name of the Government being allied to a Measure of this kind going through the House and through Committee upstairs. We found, in the case of the last Bill, that every facility was given in favour of the drink trade, in drafting and in other ways, while we got no consideration whatever. Not an Amendment of ours was accepted, even though buttressed by the findings of the Royal Commission. I hope that the House will sanely and soberly consider this Bill, and, therefore, reject it."The Bill is not 'class' legislation, since it applies to all licensed hotels and restaurants, irrespective of size or charges."
If a foreigner were listening to this debate, he would undoubtedly go back to his own country with the idea that the British people were a nation of drunkards, because, apparently, the main objection to this Bill is that you can drink from 11 in the morning until 12 at night, and apparently those who oppose the Bill think that there are English men and women who desire to drink during those hours. It is perfectly ridiculous to bring forward an argument of that kind when the extra hour that would be provided by this Bill has nothing to do with the length of the time during which people are going to consume alcohol. We all know perfectly well that it is nothing of the kind.The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies), whom I am glad to see in his place, seemed to indicate that foreigners care little whether they can obtain drinks with their meals or not, but the point he has missed is that in France and other continental countries wine is as necessary to a person taking a meal as the food is. Every French peasant working in the fields eats his bread soaked in wine; it is the custom of the country; and, without the wine, that man or woman cannot live. I have seen in France little peasant children being given wine with their meals in the fields. If foreigners who contemplate coming to this country are going to be told that, while they can have supper after the theatre, they cannot have what they have always been accustomed to have since they were children, namely, a little wine with their meals, they will not come here. This inability to supply the foreigner with the necessary wine to which he is accustomed to take with his meals, and saying that at a certain hour he may have a drink and not at another hour, is most galling, and will send him back to his own country. If I may give a personal instance I may say that some little time ago I was speaking just outside London for a Member of the Cabinet, and as the meeting was at 8 p.m. and I was living at Enfield, my wife and I had to go without any dinner. The meeting lasted until 10.30, and I suggested that we should go back to a well-known restaurant and get some oysters for supper. We went there, and ordered a light supper at 11 o'clock, including two bottles of stout. I was told that they could not supply me with stout just upon eleven o'clock at night. Could anything be more annoying than that? I suggest that people who eat oysters do not drink water with their oysters as a rule. They drink stout, a good old English custom which has lasted for a good many years. If that is not considered a good case, may I mention another? I was out with a friend fishing one day on the River Lea. My friend and I had our lunch with us, but I had neglected to bring anything to drink, and the River Lea is not drinkable. My friend sat down with a flask, and, rather than embarrass him, I said I would go to a little public house on the high road. As I reached it, the door was shut in my face. I looked at my watch. It was five minutes to two, and I asked them to open the door. They said, "You cannot come in here; it is closing time." I said, "I want of glass of beer." The reply was, "We close at two." I said, "it is five minutes to two by Big Ben," and they said "That is not our time" and shut the door in my face.
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain why it always comes about that he is too late for his drinks?
I think that is the most reasonable request I have had. The licensing laws of this country are so ridiculous that they will not allow me to have a drink when I want one.There is another point I want to make, and that is with reference to the petitions which we have all received. I myself, have received a very large number, mostly signed by women against this Bill, on the ground that it increases drinking facilities. You cannot have it both ways. I have received at the same time a deputation from the licensed victuallers of my own constituency urging me to vote against this Bill because, in their opinion, it is going to interfere with their trade in the sale of drink. I have also received a petition signed by the trade protesting against the Bill. Why? Obviously because this Bill compels a restaurant keeper to supply food of at least an equal amount in value or he cannot get the licence, which means an increase in the supply of food, and therefore a decrease in the supply of drink. That is why the trade have protested against it. But you cannot have it both ways. Either the teetotallers are right, and it is going to increase the amount of drink consumed, or the trade is right and it is going to decrease the amount of drink and increase the amount of food. I am perfectly convinced that this will mean that all those delightful inns up and down the country where now you cannot get a decent meal, you cannot get anything to drink after a certain hour, will improve themselves out of all knowledge, because they will be able to supply meals, and have extra time to supply people with the necessary alcoholic refreshment. It is obvious to anyone who goes about this country that motor cars have revolutionised the land. We are no longer living in our own town and remaining there. We move about the country from end to end in motor cars, particularly in the evenings. Hundreds of thousands of people take their holiday on Saturday, get to a place late at night and want a meal, but they cannot have anything to drink, because it is 10 o'clock, or a quarter-past, or half-past, or whatever it may be. For that reason, I feel that this Bill will be very much in the interests of the people of this country, and particularly valuable in bringing from abroad to this country people who will enjoy the same amenities here as they are accustomed to have in their own country. I cannot understand why those who do not themselves require alcoholic stimulant object so strongly to anybody else having it. I commanded a well-known cavalry regiment about 10 years ago. When I joined the Service 35 years ago, every Monday morning there were from 30 to 50 "drunks." When I commanded the regiment only 10 years ago, if I got one man on a Monday morning, the sergeant's face was white as he said, "Please, Sir, we have got a 'drunk'." It was considered a disgrace for a man to come in drunk at any time of the week. There is a complete change in the outlook and habits of life, and we are now the most sober nation in the world. We are making ourselves ridiculous by this restriction of hours. The drunkard will always be a drunkard. Whether you deny him the public house or anything else, he will always get drink. You are not penalising the drunkard. You have not made it a crime to be drunk. It is only in the Army that it is a crime to be drunk. You cannot charge a civilian with being drunk, but only with being drunk and disorderly, or incapable or a nuisance. He is not committing a crime by being merely drunk. Before you punish the sober man, you ought to make a law to punish the drunkard for being drunk. I am willing to vote for a Bill to make drunkenness a crime. I hate drunkenness, and I think we all do. But here we are penalising the soldier and the foreigner coming into this country, making ourselves ridiculous, the laughingstock of Europe, by having laws which apply to 100 years ago. We are now a civilised, sober nation, and for that reason I support the Bill.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken really has delivered himself into our hands. He has given the case away. He said that we are a sober nation—quite right—and we are getting more sober every day. But it does not suit the vested interests who sell drink. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is really a sensible, honest gentleman, but he has been long in the Army. The other day Sir Edgar Sanders, a director of the Brewers' Society, who did not think he was going to be repeated outside, was speaking to the trade. Here is what he said:
That is the governing motive of those who sell drink."This is what will happen unless we do something to attract and secure the young customer who in his turn will become the main stay of the public-house. Unless steps are taken to say to him that England's beer is the best and healthiest beverage he can consume and to bring before him all the goodwill and contentment of the public-house, and carry on this good work we shall certainly see the trade on a declining basis."
The Noble Lady knows that was repudiated by the trade.
Come along, be honest. It was repudiated when it was made public. That is the governing motive. If hon. Members want a Bill, why have they not accepted the entire recommendations of the Royal Commission? The hon. and gallant Gentleman who brought it in waxed eloquent about the Royal Commission and said it had taken evidence from all sorts of quarters. He even went into evidence from our Colonies and other countries. There were men and women of all sections of the community on the Royal Commission. They worked hard and brought in an almost unanimous report. The temperance people had to make concessions and the drink people had to make concessions. They are honourable people, and the first thought in their mind was the country. They were not thinking of the drink trade, or of vested interests of any kind. The Government have not seen fit to bring in a Bill. We regret that they have not. We think it would be much better if they had given effect to the whole Report of the Commission.This Bill which has been brought forward deliberately leaves out the main recommendations. Last time the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department was splendid. He assured us that the Government would do what they could to make it a workable Bill. To-day the Government are not even going to let him vote for it. What has happened in the meantime? The Government woke up to what was going on. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who brought it in knew what was going to happen. He knows that the Government are not going to touch it with a barge pole. The sober sections of the country have woke up and seen what is going on. Ever since the National Government has been in Office, the drink trade has been active, and they have not done badly as far as the House is concerned. The hon. and gallant Gentleman thought that he was going to get the Government to go with him, but I am glad to say that there are men in the Cabinet who would not touch it, and they will not allow the hon. and gallant Gentleman to touch it. I advise the House that they ought not to touch it. I know what happened on the Committee, they had it packed, you had hardly any temperance people there at all.
On a point of Order. Is it my responsibility to say who shall serve on the Committees upstairs?
I do not understand who is being accused.
I wish people would look over the names of our Select Committee. That would give them something to think about.
On a point of Order. Is it not the case that the standing part of that Committee—40 members—were appointed before it was known that you had allotted this Bill to that Committee?
Yes, the standing part of Committee is appointed before it is known which Bills will be sent to it.
That is true. I watched that Committee, and I nearly brought the point before you, Sir, of the number of people who had such an active interest in the drink trade, but I was asked not to do it. I think the time will come when it will have to be reorganised. I warn them. Hon. Members ask why some of us are so much against the tied house. If the promoters of the Bill had brought in the three main recommendations of the Committee, many of us would have let it through, because the hotels and restaurants had made their case before the Royal Commission. Many of us want to see better hotels, but if you leave out those things you will not get better but worse hotels. People who are interested in temperance speak with as little prejudice as those who are interested in drink. We are not paid by the drink trade to defend them in the House or outside. We have Members in the House who are paid to the tune of £2,000 by the trade to come to the House of Commons and defend them, and we know Members of the House who have repudiated it and others who have been here and defended them in season and out. When you talk about people who are prejudiced, we say that we are not half as prejudiced as those who make it their business to defend the drink trade. [HON MEMBERS: "Who are they? Tell us their names."] I do not care to do so.
The noble Lady is making a rather grave accusation against Members of this House. She must not do that unless she is prepared to prove the accusations by evidence.
I will give the evidence to you, Sir.
Tell us or withdraw.
On a point of Order. I understand that the Noble Lady has just made an allegation against certain Members of the House which I think—I may be wrong—relates to members of the legal profession. I want to ask you, Sir, in the name of the legal profession whether we have any protection against these wild allegations of the Noble Lady.
The Noble Lady should not make grave accusations against Members of the House unless she is prepared to prove them by evidence.
Further to the point of order. Would it be within your competence, Sir, to require the Noble Lady to provide you with the evidence on which she founds this allegation?
The evidence is no use to me. It should be brought to the House itself.
Those who have been speaking for this Bill against us have said time after time that we are prejudiced and biased and that people should not listen to us. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not bribed."] One of the reasons why I do not want to bring this forward is that the Member about whom I am talking has since died.
Then why make the allegation.
I think that the Noble Lady had better say that there is no accusation against the present House.
I do not think that I could say that with honesty, Mr. Speaker.
The Noble Lady referred to those who have spoken for the Bill as being prejudiced. There are many hon. Members who have not spoken either way on the Bill, and, wishing to safeguard the reputation of this House, I ask whether you, Sir, will see that these accusations are not left unanswered, either by evidence or by withdrawal, by the Noble Lady.
I am hardly in a position to make the Noble Lady do that unless she wishes to do so. I am only calling the attention of the House to the fact.
This is a very serious accusation against Members of the House, and, as an old Member of the House, I rise to ask your permission to move that the Noble Lady be no longer heard on this subject.
May I say this—
May I have an answer to my Motion that the Noble Lady be no longer heard on this subject unless she either apologises, or withdraws, or justifies it?
The position in which I am placed in a rather difficult one. I hope that the Noble Lady will help me in that respect and not make allegations against the present House of Commons. If she would withdraw the accusation against the present House of Commons, I think that we should be able to get on.
In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I will make no accusa- tion against the present House of Commons. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] That is what Mr. Speaker said. I make no accusation against anyone in the House of Commons now. I have said that, and I cannot say any more.
I said against the "present" House of Commons. That includes the whole House.
The whole House of Commons. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker—because I want to be honest about it—Do you consider that people that we know who are paid to defend the interests of the drink trade outside the House are prejudiced or not? That is the point I was making. I want to be perfectly honest. It was the point I was trying to make.
What happens outside the House has nothing whatever to do with me. But when the Noble Lady accuses Members of this House of taking direct payment to persuade the House to take certain courses it savours very much of corruption. I cannot allow that accusation against the House to be made unless sufficient evidence is brought forward to prove the case.
I will withdraw any such suggestion as that, but what I had in mind was the reference about our being biased. Who does the House think are more biased? We as Members, or people outside the House who draw a large amount for defending their interests? That was the point I made.
On a point of Order. As one of the Members who spoke against the interests of the noble Lady an hour or so ago, I may say that I did say that they were prejudiced and biased in their views, but I never said, nor did I hear anyone say, that they were bribed or were offered any bribes by any temperance interests outside the House.
Before we are asked to condemn the noble Lady for making a grave charge against the House we have a right to know the charge. It seems to me that there was some misunderstanding. I did not understand the noble Lady to say that any Member of the House had been bribed by the drink trade.—[Interruption.]—I have a right to say what interpretation I put upon it. I take no sides in the matter. I come newly to it, and do not know what is in the noble Lady's mind. I think that we all ought to be of one mind as to what she actually said and meant. The interpretation put upon her comments is apparently—you used the word yourself, Mr. Speaker—corruption. I understand that it would be corrupt action if the drink trade bribed or gave money to Members to take a certain line in this House. I did not understand the noble Lady to say that.
That is what she did say. £2,000.
I understood her to say that there were Members in this House who received large payments from the drink trade for services rendered. She did not stipulate whether the services were inside or outside the House. Is it not common sense that a person, who in his professional capacity—.
It is not a matter of common sense but of fact. The noble Lady undoubtedly made certain allegations, if not accusations, against Members of this House, and I am bound to defend the House.
When you drew the noble Lady's attention to that matter, Mr. Speaker, did she not say, in reply to your invitation, "I withdraw"? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I was sitting very close to her, and I suppose that I had as good a chance of hearing as the rest, and I heard her say "I withdraw" any such suggestion as far as the House is concerned. She spoke of the present House and went on to say that she referred to the whole of the present House. In view of that fact, is it not possible to get on with the subject which is before us.
Perhaps the noble Lady will endorse that.
I do so fully. What a controversial subject drink really is. How it arouses the worst passions of men. No wonder some of us would lie down and die to keep England sober. I only want to tell you that that is why we feel so strongly about the tied house. We know that as long as the brewers and drink interests own the house the publican selling drink has to make the money out of the drink. That is why there is the tied house. We do not want that sort of thing connected with hotels and restaurants under this Bill, but that they should get their profit out of the sale of food and not drink. Anyone in this House can see that the people interested in the whole thing are bent on the fact that there should be more drink sold at meals. I would remind the House that we have had a real show-up of the drink trade lately. The drink trade advertises to the tune of £1,000,000 a year. The drink trade has boasted of the power it has got over the Press. It has boasted of the fact; read it for yourself. We are not kill-joys, but we are jealous of the moral and social standards of the people of this country. We have been told that we ought to be like the people on the Continent. I hope and pray that we shall never be like the Continent. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the Americans."] You might do very well to be like some Americans; there would be a great improvement in some Scotsmen. It is really a very serious subject. I can assure hon. Members that if the moral sense of the people outside had not risen this Bill would be going through with the Government's approval, but since it was introduced quite a different feeling in the country has been aroused. People know what is in the Bill. Even if you get the Second Reading to-day, you will not get the Bill through Committee. You will find that the people will not quickly give away their rights.We were told that the object is to improve the hotels and restaurants. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Reading gave us a beautiful picture of Continental life where the husband met you at the door of the hotel, his wife attended to the management, the daughter-in-law kept the house accounts, and the sons served. Then he went on to say that in English hotels the beds were not good. Is this Bill going to make a bed better? It may make it seem better. Have any hon. Members visited any of the big new hotels that are being put up? Look at the hotels that are being erected by the drink trade, Tudor inns all along the Bath Road and the Old Kent Road, right from London down to Dover. In these hotels the only place that is comfortable is the place where you drink. They have no good bathrooms, they have vile food, and the coffee you cannot drink. The drink trade have plenty of money. Their profits have risen from £9,000,000 to £16,000,000 since 1913. If they really wanted to make these hotels comfortable they could do it, but the only thing they want to do is to get people into their Tudor inns and then give them more drink. That is exactly what the Bill seeks to do. Do not let the hon. Members think that if they pass this Bill they will help the hotels. It is not going to bring a single extra visitor. What attracts people to hotels these days is that they want good rooms, good food and good baths. The Canadians, the Americans, the Australians and the New Zealanders also want good coffee. This Bill will not help along good coffee. I heard a noble Lord say the other day that what they wanted to do was to get foreign visitors. I do not suppose that anyone sees more overseas people than I do. There is nobody more jealous for the hospitality that is extended to overseas visitors when they come here, but I say frankly that if the House passes this Bill they will make the hotels even worse than they are now. I do not say that they are all bad. There are many country hotels that are very good and they would be much better if they had not to make profit out of drink, and if they were not tied. This House ought to say to the National Government: "If you think that something ought to be done, why not bring in the whole of the recommendations of the Royal Commission? Do not bring in piecemeal legislation, leaving out the compromise desired by those who are really interested in the moral and social welfare of the country, as compared with those who are only interested in drink". This House has a very grave responsibility. We represent thousands of working men and working women. What do they get out of this Bill? As one hon. Member said, there is not a thing in the Bill for the benefit of the workers, or the employés of the hotels. I could rouse the House on the subject of the hours of labour of very young people in hotels. That subject ought to interest the House far more than the question whether the hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Bill can get a glass of beer with his dinner. We have to take a national view, to exercise a national responsibility and to act in the interests of the nation. This Bill will not make a single thing better, except the facilities for drinking. It points the way to an extension of hours. The trade boast—not openly, for they never do anything openly—that this is the first step. It will be Scotland next, and then we shall have a great cry: "what about the working man? Should not he have as long hours for drinking as the rich man?" The trade always fight for the liberty of the working man. They are the greatest patriots and fighters for the liberty of the working man, yet they have never given the working man the opportunity to vote fairly and squarely on whether or not he wants drink. They take jolly good care not to allow him that opportunity. This Bill is all wrong. If hon. Members have any doubt about it, let them look at the serried ranks of those who always back anything that the trade brings in. They are afraid of it, and they have backed this bogus Bill in the name of better hotels. They will have to bring in a better Bill than this before they can get the support of the House or even of the Government. I am glad to see that they have nobbled the Under-Secretary. I would warn him that some of us feel very strongly that the Travel Association, which, as has been shown, is subsidised by the Government, back this Bill and have asked us to support it: a controversial Bill, not backed by the Government. When we come to the Estimates I shall raise the question whether the Government have the right to subsidise an Association that is bringing pressure upon Members of the House of Commons to vote for a Bill which is not the recommendation of the Royal Commission nor a Government Bill. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, to have been such a nuisance to-day, and I am deeply grateful for your protection. I am sure that you will agree that in public life it is not very easy to stand up against the most highly organised and most skilled of all vested interests. I have fought them ever since I have been in public life and I will fight them to the last ditch, for I know that I am fighting for the women and children and for the moral standard of the people of England, which shines out throughout the world.
I am sorry to learn from the noble lady that intoxicating liquor is responsible for arousing our passions. If that is so, I would beg the Noble Lady that she should for ever remain a teetotaller. She has this afternoon made several attacks upon me. She says that I am responsible for having packed the Standing Committee, over which, as the House realises, I have not the slightest control.
I did not say that.
The Noble Lady also said that I had been nobbled by the Government, whatever that may mean. [HON. MEMBERS: "By the trade".] She attacked me by saying that I am now afraid to vote for the Bill, that I have received my orders from the Government and dare not support the Bill as I did on the last occasion. That is the accusation she makes against me. The answer is that I shall please myself how I vote on this Bill; there is no instruction from the Government. I shall vote as I like. The Noble Lady also said that I am now afraid. I am not alone in possessing a terrible fear in connection with this Measure, but I am not sure, having heard the Noble Lady's speech, whether she is supporting or opposing the Bill. I take it she is opposing the Bill?
You ought not to be where you are if you cannot see that.
The Bill is similar in terms, to the Bill of last year, and I take it that the Noble Lady was also opposed to that Bill?
If she had been in the House no doubt she would have opposed it but she did not always oppose the Bill of last year. When she writes to one of her constituents she says that she is in favour of the Bill.
I have in my possession a letter written on her behalf by her political secretary from 4, St. James Square, on the 30th March, 1933. It was written to one of her constituents who has invited me to read the letter this afternoon. It says:
"Lady Astor asks me to thank you for your letter with regard to the Hotels and Restaurants Bill, and to tell you that she is in favour of this Measure and you can rely on her doing what she can to support it, though she is afraid it will not be possible for her to be in the House to-morrow for the Second Reading as she has to be in Plymouth for a meeting in the evening."
The Under-Secretary knows perfectly well that that was written by my private secretary, who did not know any of my views about the Bill. [Interruption.] One of my secretaries may have heard me say that I was in favour of the Hotel and Restaurants Bill if it was on the lines of the recommendations of the Royal Commission; and if it had been so I should not have opposed it. The person who wrote that letter did so without my sanction. You must have a rotten case if that is all you have to rely upon.
All I can say is that most of us accept responsibility for the actions of our secretary, and I will leave the House to judge of that letter. The present Bill has the same objects in view as the Bill introduced 12 months ago by the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith). On that occasion I intimated that the Second Reading would be left to a free vote of the House. The same will apply on this occasion. Although there are many changes in the Bill as compared with that of last year, they took place in the main during the passage of the original Bill through Committee; and the present Bill is substantially the same as the Bill of last year after it had emerged from Committee upstairs, and was unsuccessful in an effort to obtain a Report stage. There is, in fact, only one change of importance, and curiously enough it has not been referred to at all this afternoon. The change is in respect of Clause 6, which was not present in last year's Bill as amended in Committee. The Clause allows the provisions of the Bill to apply to the Carlisle State Management District, and gives the Secretary of State power, by Order, to take advantage of the special provisions mentioned in the Bill. I am sure hon. Members will agree, whatever their views may be of the privileges contained in the Bill, that there is no logical reason for withholding privileges from hotels and restaurants managed by the State if it is considered right to grant them to other premises of a similar character and with similar qualifications.Under the provisions of the Licensing Act, 1921, premises in the State Management District in which liquor is sold do not require a licence. The business of selling liquor is conducted under the authority of the Secretary of State, and it is not therefore possible for the procedure of Clause 1 of the Bill—namely, that of endorsing an ordinary licence to make it into an hotel or restaurant licence, to operate in respect of the State Management District. One cannot, in fact, endorse a licence which does not exist, and, consequently, it is necessary, in order that State-managed hotels and restaurants may have these privileges, to provide the Secretary of State with power to direct that they shall enjoy any privileges under the Bill for which they are qualified by some other method. This other method will be found in the Schedule to the Bill. This power to deal with the State management scheme is the only substantial alteration in the Bill since it was last before the House. There are, however, two changes which took place in the original Bill during its passage through Committee last year, both important, and there has been a good deal of misunderstanding this afternoon in connection with one of them. It will be remembered that the Bill of last year was based on the ground of premises qualifying for an hotel or restaurant licence instead of an ordinary liquor licence. It was found in practice almost impossible to dovetail provisions based on that theory into the structure of the main body of existing law, and the expedient was devised of recognising qualifying premises, not by a separate licence, but by a special endorsement of the ordinary liquor licence. This had the advantage of making it abundantly clear that the discretion of the licensing justices in regard to the ordinary liquor licence remains as at present, and yet in accordance with Clause 8 it will be seen that a licence containing this special endorsement may be called an hotel or restaurant licence, as the case may be. This change I understand gave satisfaction to all directly concerned. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) speaking this afternoon asked me whether the justices would be faced with an increased number of applications on account of the provisions of the Bill. Frankly, I do not know whether they will be faced with an increased number of applications or not, but I do know that the licensing justices will have no less power to deal with those applications than they have now. Their power to grant or refuse a liquor licence is not interfered with by this Bill to the slightest extent. If the justices refuse to grant a licence, then there can be no endorsement to turn the liquor licence into an hotel or restaurant licence. I think it is clear that any applications that may be made by tea shops can be turned down by the licensing justices, the licensing justices being enabled to refuse them an ordinary licence. If they do not get an ordinary licence they cannot qualify for the endorsement to make them into hotels or restaurants. The second change is the institution of a special class of premises which, whilst otherwise qualified, could not satisfy the percentage test. This class has been referred to this afternoon and is commonly known as the wayside inn. It is allowed to gain in this Bill two, and the House should remember, only two, of these privileges, namely, the right to sell intoxicants with meals until three in the afternoon, and the right between eleven in the morning and twelve midnight to supply liquor to residents for their guests' consumption. This special privilege, which is contained in Clause 5, can only be obtained at the option of the licensing justices and under certain defined conditions. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) said, I think—I was not in the House when he made his speech—that Clause 5 cut right across the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That is not so. Actually Clause 5 is taken almost word for word from paragraphs 273 and 478 of the Royal Commission's Report. There is one other matter that I would like to clear up. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Gault) who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, said—I do not pretend that these are his exact words—that the Bill does not alter the present permitted hours under the 1921 Act. I am sorry to have to correct him, but I am here to-day simply to give the facts and to state what the Bill actually does. The statement made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Leicester was correct in that respect. Clause 4. Sub-section (1, c), allows intoxicating liquor to be sold to a resident for consumption by a guest up to midnight. That is one of the general provisions of the Bill. Under the existing law, outside the Metropolis, the latest possible hour for the consumption of intoxicating liquor by guests of residents is 11.30 at night. I am including here the extra supper hour and I am assuming the extension of the normal hour to 10.30. But this Bill quite definitely gives half an hour latitude over that. I think it is right that that point should be made clear to the House. In other respects the statement made by my hon. and gallant Friend, that the Bill does not increase the permitted hours, is true under certain conditions. If the licensing justices always fix the commencement of the afternoon break at three o'clock, if also they fix the latest possible hours for night closing, and if all the premises which will qualify for endorsement under this Bill obtain a supper hour extension under the 1921 Act—if all those things came about there would be nothing else in this Bill extending the hours at present in force. In some districts, however, it would obviously be inconvenient to open licensed premises in the mornings, or in the evenings, any later than they are open at present. If the existing hours of opening are retained, then undoubtedly this Bill would give extended hours for the consumption of intoxicating liquor with meals. I am not saying that that is an undesirable thing. I am not saying that is a desirable thing. I am merely stating the facts. Whether it is desirable or undesirable, it is true to add that the hours suggested in this Bill are those recommended by the Royal Commission. There is nothing more that I need mention, but I feel it my duty to put these facts before the House. I hope I have done so in an impartial way except possibly for my opening sentence. My object is to point out to the House the importance of certain changes which will come about if this Bill passes into law. I hope I have succeeded in doing so, and that I have cleared up a few of the more important misunderstandings which seem at present to exist. I have tried to carry out my task without either advocating any of the proposals contained in the Bill or criticising them in any way. As I have said, the Government are not going to use any influence upon any hon. Member of this House, neither upon the hon. and gallant Mem- ber who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, nor even upon the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) if, in fact, he has not already made up his mind as to how he is going to vote. I repeat, in conclusion, what I said at the beginning, that the House is completely free to reach its own decision, and I hope that, included in that position will be the Under-Secretary for the Home Department.
Is it clear that this new licence or this endorsement will have to come before a confirming authority such as the quarter sessions like all other licences. If not, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps during the Committee stage to see that these new licences are placed on exactly the same footing as to continuity and so forth, as all the other licences under the Licensing Act?
Any new licence as my hon. and learned Friend knows, must go before the confirming authority. That is on the first application. This, however, would be an endorsement of an existing licence, and as such I do not think it has to go before any confirming authority. It is granted by the justices provided, of course, that it fulfils the conditions in the Bill.
This endorsement will alter the terms of the existing licence, and should it not therefore be approved by the confirming authority say the quarter sessions, which ought to have control over all licences of whatever kind in their area.
I have no doubt the promoters of the Bill will take that point into consideration. It is undoubtedly a point of substance. As I have pointed out, however, it is not a new licence which is granted under the terms of this Bill. There is merely an endorsement of an existing licence which can then be termed a hotel licence or a restaurant licence as the case may be.
I would like to deal, first, with the point put by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley). Hon. Members are well aware that when a licence is applied for now, although the bench of local licensing justices may grant the appli- cation, the licence does not come into being until it has gone before the confirming authority, which consists in the borough of the full bench of qualified justices. Under this Bill a hotel or restaurant licence can be granted with no necessity for confirmation at all, and I am a little surprised at the answer made by the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State, in view of the fact that the Magistrates' Association, when they waited upon him recently, expressed a good many objections to this Bill, and one of the specific objections which was made by the legal council of the Magistrates' Association was that this proposed to give a privilege to this particular class of licences that would not be enjoyed by anyone applying for any ordinary licence in the country.
No. Under this Bill there is no new authority granted to sell drink. All that the new licence does is to lay-down conditions under which the authority already existing to sell drink may be exercised.
That is an explanation that explains nothing. Someone goes before the magistrates and asks for what has now to be called a restaurant or hotel licence. If the magistrates grant that application, that ends the proceedings.
But surely the hon. Member is wrong. The applicant is only asking for an addition to something that he has already got. The right to sell drink has already been granted.
Certainly, and if the hon. Member will only read the document, he will find that that is true.
But supposing there is a case, as the Bill provides, where someone constructs premises intended to come within the four corners of this Act of Parliament, and then goes to the magistrates and says, "I have got here a particular house or hotel premises that constructionally complies with the requirements, and all that I require is a hotel or restaurant licence for it."
This is a very important point. There is no new licence involved here at all. Anybody who applies for an endorsement of his existing licence has, first of all, to be in possession of a liquor licence. That can be refused by the licensing justices, but if an individual has a normal liquor licence, then, and only then, is he entitled to get an endorsement on that licence, if he complies with certain qualifications contained in the Bill.
Was that the reply made by the Under-Secretary of State when the Magistrates' Association waited upon him at the beginning of this month According to the Press, at the beginning of this month the Magistrates' Association waited upon him, and one of the points that they themselves raised was the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead, and according to the information as given here—
Was that an agreed statement by the Home Office as well as by that body?
This is a letter from the secretary of the Magistrates' Association.
But not agreed.
"The licensing committee of this Association, while wishing to see several other Amendments made in that part of the Bill, is especially anxious that licences granted under the Bill should not become operative unless and until they have been confirmed by the confirming authority, as are other licences for the sale of intoxicants. Unless this provision is added the position will be:
(1) A hotel or restaurant licence can be granted by the local licensing justices and become operative at once, whereas (2) other licences to sell intoxicants must be confirmed by the confirming authority."
It is all wrong.
At any rate, the point was of sufficient importance to call for the intervention of the hon. and learned Member who is more qualified to speak on this matter than most of us in view of his long experience. It was a point of sufficient importance for the Magistrates' Association, having appointed its licensing committee to deal with this matter, to bring the specific points before the Under-Secretary at the beginning of the present month, and they received, as they thought, no satisfactory answer. They said so in their letter which was sent after the interview had taken place.
I do not quite understand this letter. Is it an agreed statement by the Home Office and the Magistrates' Association? To whom is the letter sent? Is it sent to constituents or to the Home Office?
The letter was sent to me.
And to me.
It was sent to other Members as well.
And it expresses the views of the Magistrates' Association? Of course, I cannot remember everything I have said, even at the beginning of the month, to a deputation, but I have stated the facts now and there is no doubt about the accuracy of what I have said this afternoon.
I am not quoting what is marked "private and confidential." I have not the privilege of the personal acquaintance of the Secretary of the Magistrates' Association. The House is anxious to arrive at the facts, and I should not have referred to it but for the hon. and learned Member's intervention. The letter was sent by the Secretary of the Association who speaks of the interview at the beginning of the present month, and the Under-Secretary said he could not remember what he said at this recent event.Before I refer to the general merits of the Bill, I wish to deal with the point, raised in the heat of controversy just now. I resented, perhaps a little too warmly, the interruption of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight). It is true that in these Debates heat becomes generated. My Noble Friend the member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), who has given me a little anxiety in the course of the Debate, quoted a certain statement that had been made on behalf of the brewing interests by the Director of the Brewers' Society. My hon. and learned Friend got up and said that he understood the statement had been repudiated. I think that he is mistaken. I myself know something of it, because I thought, having regard to the statement that had been publicly made by the Director of the Brewers' Society, that they wished to inculcate the drinking habit into thousands of young men—but let me quote the words:
I wrote an open letter to the Director of the Brewers' Society challenging him upon that speech and quoting his words, and I pointed out what I thought would be the serious social results if the policy advocated by the Director of the Society and supported, as he himself indicated, by the expenditure of vast sums of money, were carried out. That statement has, so far as I know, never been repudiated. The Director of the Brewers' Society is still Sir Edgar Sanders. He has made no reply to that open letter, and, so far as I know, not one word has been said by the responsible Director of the Brewers' Society, who was to conduct this advertising campaign, inconsistent with the speech that he made in July, that"I am not saying that the present beer drinkers should drink more, but rather that we want new customers. We want to get the beer drinking habit instilled into thousands, almost millions of young men, who do not at present know the taste of beer."
"We want to get the drinking habit instilled into thousands, almost millions, of young men who do not at present know the taste of beer."
Will the hon. Member give us the reply that was made—he said it was not made—by the Chairman of the Brewers' Society?
I will certainly give it. I said Sir Edgar Sanders remained the Director of the Brewers' Society.
Not Chairman, though.
I never used the word "Chairman." I have been most particular in the use of my words. I know that, following upon an appeal made by a Member of this House, who is also at the head of the Press Association, and who resented the suggestion of Sir Edgar Sanders that the Press was open to be bribed, and would be bribed—I use those words advisedly—I know that that Member of this House, who is at the head of the Press Association, said it was an impertinent suggestion. I know that some time afterwards the Archbishop of Canterbury made an appeal at a Church meeting, and that that brought a response from one of the officers of the Brewers' Society.
It may be the Chairman. I stand in particular upon this—and I would like to assure my hon. Friend that I have been sufficiently in this controversy during the last few months to know just what words ought to be used—that the Director of the Brewers' Society, although he received my letter at the beginning of November, and although that letter has been circulated to the extent of 100,000 copies in this country, has said no word in reply to that statement, and has done nothing to repudiate the suggestion I made that it was a part of the policy of the Society, of which he was the Director, and of which he remains the Director, to get the beer drinking habit instilled into thousands, almost millions, of young men who do not at present know the taste of beer.
I happen to be a member of the Brewers Society and to know what has occurred. The Chairman of the Brewers Society made a communication to the Press—unfortunately I have not got it with me—which he considered made it clear that Sir Edgar Sanders in his speech was not stating the policy or intentions of the Brewers' Society.
I did not intend that the time of the House should be occupied so long by this, but the Chairman of the Brewers Society made a reply dealing with the question of advertisements. Neither the Chairman of the Brewers Society nor any other person connected with the Brewers Society has repudiated the declared policy of the Director, that it was their intention to get the drinking habit instilled into thousands and millions of the young people of this country. That has never been repudiated.
As the hon. Member has referred to me, perhaps he will allow me to say at once, and categorically, that I am not associated in any way with any such design. The interruption which I made when the Noble Lady was speak- ing was in respect of the repudiation, the express repudiation, by the Brewers Society of the allegation of their member Sir Edgar Sanders, as to the pressure they would bring upon the Press. That they regarded as a most offensive and improper statement, which was immediately repudiated.
Of course, I do not associate the hon. and learned Member with the policy therein expressed. I am sorry that a point which I thought would occupy only a moment or two has taken several minutes, but I think the facts are now quite clear between us, and I would like to deal with a few of the principles relating to this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] It was not my fault. I want hon. Members to remember that there are two Bills before the House, one in Committee upstairs and that which is before us to-day, dealing very seriously, either in whole or in part, with this subject. One hon. Member has said that since 1904, 140 Measures have been introduced to deal with the licensing law. That fact shows the public interest there is in this matter, and how keen is the controversy relating to licensing legislation. It shows how closely licensing legislation touches the ordinary life of the people. Because it was such a difficult subject and because our licensing law has been built up by the experience of many generations, a previous Govt. set up a Royal Commission to consider the matter in all its ramifications and all the social questions that were involved, before new legislation was embarked upon.When we had the last Debate, an hon. Member on the Government Benches said that he was quite aware of what the Royal Commission would report before they sat. It may be that he can dismiss the work of those ladies and gentlemen, some of whom are known to me personally and some of whom, I know, hold strong views, but how anyone who knows anything about the people who served on the Royal Commission could make the assertion that he could say what their views were before they reported I do not know. Many of the commissioners had not been associated in any public way with the question of licensing before they sat upon the Commission. The Chairman and other members, although they might hold conflict- ing views, made after the most exhaustive inquiries, which to my certain knowledge put upon them a heavy responsibility and a long continued burden, a most remarkable report. They came to a degree of unanimity, although some may have been openly interested in the trade, and others on the other side interested in temperance reform. They agreed upon certain recommendations. I suppose since Lord Peel's Report was published, no document of equivalent importance in regard to the licensing laws has been put before the people of this country. They did so at the request of the Government. They presented a scheme of reform that they considered a balanced system, and they proposed checks and safeguards and some advantages, but they covered everything by the limitation of hours. They proposed that hours should be 10 o'clock throughout the country, except in London. They made that a governing consideration. They then came to this question of hotels and restaurants, and they said, "We want, if we can, to take the question of drink out of this problem altogether." If those who are interested will turn to Paragraph 259, which has been quoted to-day, they will see how strong was the emphasis placed upon that point. The Commission said:
and this was also the primary consideration—"Our reasons for suggesting some discrimination in favour of such establishments are twofold, viz.: first—"
It is fair to point that out to the House. When the Commission came to consider this problem of hotels and restaurants, they said: "Here is a primary consideration. Let us see what can be done for the hotels and restaurants, and to lift the problem, if we can, out of the realm of the sale of intoxicating liquor." In order that that primary consideration might be secured, they laid down, with the suggested concession, some very important conditions. I have had the opportunity of conversing with some members of the Royal Commission since their Report was presented, and they tell me that they attach the utmost importance to these conditions. But, before we come to the conditions, I bag the House to look at this chapter in the Report of the Royal Commission in relation to the rest. The Members of the Royal Commission, in their Report and in the declarations they have made since, have said that they made their recommendations as a balanced scheme, and that they wanted the whole scheme taken into consideration. Some things they put in the forefront, some things they said were clamant for reform, and demanded the first consideration of any House of Commons, that dealt with this matter. Therefore, I would ask the House, is it not fair, seeing that the Royal Commission has been invoked, seeing that the name of the Royal Commission has been used by almost every speaker in the Debate to-day, to follow the primary recommendation of the Royal Commission and deal with the recommendations as a whole? I can assure the House that, if the Report is taken piece-meal, what will happen will be that those who have advantages to gain will snatch at the advantages, but the safeguards will be ignored and the checks put on one side, and those who profess to be following the lines of the Royal Commission will really defeat the Royal Commission's purpose, because it was their intention that their balanced recommendations dealing with every part of our licensing law should be taken fairly into consideration, not that one chapter should be taken out of the rest, one advantage snatched here and one there, and the safeguards rejected and all the cheeks put on one side. I am very anxious not to touch upon any provocative note. The Magistrates' Association, to whom I referred just now, when they published their report after having waited on the Minister, said that they did not want these recommendations dealt with on piecemeal lines. Why should we do so to-day? I ask the House to consider, further, that the Royal Commission attached very great importance to the question of the tie. They said that it would be an excellent thing to raise the status and prestige of hotels and restaurants, but, that if an hotel is the property of a big brewing interest, or if a big brewing interest, wishing to find an outlet for its activities and its products, buys up properties here and there so that it may acquire these licences, there will be behind the sale of liquor in these places all the pressure of a powerful trade. That trade may be concerned in regard to the prestige and standing of hotels and restaurants, but, naturally, its main concern is for the sale of its products and the maintenance of the prosperity of its own industry. The Royal Commission said that that must not happen. They said, let your hotels and restaurants develop on their own merits, but, if you have behind these hotels and restaurants, if you have behind the 20 boarding houses in a little watering place, all the pressure of a great trade anxious to sell as much liquor as it can, you will defeat the very first purpose of the Royal Commission."our desire to see the encouragement ill licensed premises by every means practicable of business other than the sale of intoxicants."
How can that happen under this Bill, since, if all the pressure of the trade results in the sale of intoxicants to the extent of more than 50 per cent. of the total receipts, automatically this hotel licence lapses.
I should be surprised if, taking any hotel or restaurant, there was not a considerable margin before the percentage of 50 would be reached. What sort of hotel is it which can claim that, taking the whole of its receipts—not the food alone, as someone said just now; it is not a question of food and drink—50 per cent. of the whole receipts, 10s. out of every 20s. coming in, is attributable to drink? I am sure that a place must have a considerable sale of liquor if, out of every 20s. received, 7s. 6d. is attributable to the sale of drink. If the Royal Commission is invoked, if you appeal to Caesar, you must go to Caesar. If you say that you are going to take the Report of the Royal Commission, and base your case on everything that is said in it, it is misleading the House and misleading the country unless your accept the general recommendation of the Royal Commission in relation to your proposed reform.The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who has close knowledge of these matters, knows what a fight we had through the country in 1904. When reform was insisted upon then, what did Mr. Balfour, as Leader of the Conservative party, do when the question arose as to vested interest. He said, "Whatever happens, this vested interest must never arise again. When a new licence comes along, you must never have an occasion where the licensee can say 'I ought not to have my licence taken away, because I have paid taxation upon it, and I am dependent upon it'." Therefore, they imposed a monopoly value, very largely to get rid of the problem of the vested interest, and to give the public complete control in these matters. It was a most desperate political fight at that time. Let the House hesitate before it passes this Bill. Once you have given practically the automatic right—my hon. Friend shakes his head at the word "automatic"—a man can say, "I have complied with the structural requirements, and I ask for a licence." The question of public need does not enter. The question of public interest does not enter. The question of the objection of the man next door who says, "My property is going to depreciate" does not enter, and he cannot be heard in the Court. [HON. MEMBERS: "Time!"] I quite agree, and I will submit to it. I was misled into the other matter, but I appeal to the House to remember that, once this licence has been granted, you have given a vested interest. Does anyone doubt that when a house has got that licence, it will be of very much higher value than before? No one doubts that. I think a valuer, who would to-day put a value of £1,000 upon a boarding house, and it had a licence as this Bill proposes, might put a value upon it of £1,400 or £1,500 a week after. That vested interest can never be taken away, because if you attempted to do so, at once the owner would say, "I have been taxed upon it. My father was taxed upon it when he died, and it ought not to be taken away." You are on the threshold here of creating a vested interest like that which gave the country such acute trouble 20 or 30 years ago, and surely a matter which raises such grave issues, such cardinal questions, ought not to be dealt with on a Friday afternoon when the Government cannot tell us what course we ought to take. I have heard of a famous statesman who could never tell which way he was going to vote until he came to the end of his speech. What is the attitude of the Government upon the matter to-day? Here is a subject of vital concern affecting cardinal issues and touching the whole of our licensing law, creating the gravest disparity, putting the most unjust comparisons upon ordinary licensed houses in this country, and the Government cannot tell us what course we ought to take. I apologise for having gone a minute or two beyond my time. I can only suggest that this is so grave a matter, one which so vitally affects the interests of this country, inasmuch as it touches the licensing law, which has grown up through so many generations, that there is only one safe course, that the National Government with their huge majority, with their unexampled power, should decide if there ought to be a reform in our licinsing law. They have all the guidance given after an exhaustive inquiry and great expenditure of public money. If it is not necessary, let them tell us that no reforms are needed. But, if reforms are needed, let them be brought in with the best skill that the Government can command and let it not be left to these sporadic and interested efforts made on Friday mornings and in the Committee rooms. It is too big a matter to be dealt with in this casual and promiscuous fashion, and I ask the Government to show some courage in the matter and to take a definite lead as to whether there is need for licensing reform or not.
In accordance with the friendly arrangement that was made, the hon. Member was going to have 20 minutes and I was to have 20 minutes. He has taken half-an-hour and left me a quarter of an hour.
I apologise to the hon. Member, but he will know the difficulty I had.
I quite appreciate the difficulty. It arises, in the first place, because before he commenced to make his speech he had not troubled to read Clause 1 (i). That is where the first difficulty comes in. If he will read it, he will see that if any application is made under the Licensing (Consolidation) Act, 1910, and if the application is granted under that Act—that is to say where the magistrate granted it—it is automatically to go for confirmation to quarter sessions. The hon. Member did not take the trouble to read or understand that, and he did not understand it when he received the letter from the magistrates' clerk who wrote to him. He wasted five minutes of his speech in misunderstanding my explanation and the explanation of the Under-Secretary of State because he had not troubled to read the Bill. That is where one five minutes of his speech went.The next five minutes was devoted to an argument whether a gentleman whose acquaintance I have not the privilege to enjoy, Sir Edgar Sanders, said people ought to be persuaded to drink more beer. Whatever disagreement there may be between Sir Edgar Sanders and the hon. Member as to the quantity of beer that it is desirable for young people to drink, that had nothing to do with this Bill, and nothing but the fact that he was winding up for the opponents of the Bill and that I did not desire to raise a point of Order led me to abstain from asking Mr. Speaker whether it was a fact that what he was saying was outside the title, scope, the conception and the Clauses of the Bill. But it gave him an opportunity of ventilating in the House of Commons what he had been ventilating outside, and he was not going to miss any cheap publicity that he could get. Then he described to us the merits of the Royal Commission. I do not know many members of that Commission. They were appointed when he was a Member of the House and I was not. They were selected in the hope that they would disagree. They were an ill-chosen body in any event, not because of the merits of the individuals but because they all represented interests, and it is entirely wrong that a Royal Commission should be a carefully balanced body of people whose views are known in advance. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) had gone out of the House and stopped the first dozen men he met in the streets and said "You are a Royal Commission," they would have done the job better. The one thing that you want on a judicial body is an absence of prejudice.
I did not appoint the Commission.
Then it was Viscount Snowden.
Did not the Chairman possess precisely the qualifications that the hon. Member wants?
I was talking about the Commission.
The Chairman is an integral and important part of the Commission.
If a commission consists of a dozen or fifteen, it is no use saying that one possesses the qualifications, they all ought to do so. I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen for my slip. Then the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot) said we have appealed to Caesar and we must obey what Caesar says, pointing to the mace with uplifted arm, like the statue outside. He said a good deal about tied houses. I think, on balance, it is a pity that the brewers of this country, many years ago, started buying public-houses, but the fact remains that they own them. They own a great many of what are known as hotels and restaurants. A great many hotels are owned by railway companies. I imagine that the railway company has a central purchasing organisation, and in one sense every hotel belonging to a railway company is tied to the central purchasing organisation, if it is not in fact a tied house in the whole sense. If you exclude from the purview of this Bill every hotel that comes within the category of a tied house, you will in fact exclude a very large number of the premises, the standard of what I want to see improved. Therefore because I want an improved standard I am opposed to the exclusion of the restriction of this Bill to premises that are not tied.It was while I was at the Board of Trade that the Secretary of State for the Colonies and my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department were largely responsible for establishing the Travel Association. I believe that is largly as a result of what the Travel Association has learned that we have come to realise that our hotel accommodation in this country is not of the standard we would desire. Some hon. opponent said that foreigners will not be attracted here because of the knowledge that they can get a drink later. They can get drinks as late as they like now under the existing law as long as they are resident. What we had in mind is the recognised fact that the provision of sleeping accommodation and the provision of food is something more important than the sale of more drink. Large numbers will desire to raise the standard of their institutions in order to qualify for the licence if they have not got it. That will not authorise a single house to claim the licence unless it is proved to have a licence for the sale of liqour. Therefore a very large part of the hon. Gentleman's speech had no relation at all to the Bill which we are discussing. The Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) told us that last year the Bill slipped through because no one was worrying, but this year the parties of righteousness have been busy. I have received seven or eight petitions each signed by 20 or 30 people with a printed statement at the bottom that they were all women over 18 years of age, and had a few other qualifications. I assumed that the person who wrote on the first line was the person who had sent them, and I acknowledged them and said that the first Bill which they were asking me to oppose has already had a Second Reading six weeks ago which none of the signatories to those petitions knew. Also on the same petition they linked up two very different Bills. There are a large number of Members of this House supporting the Hotels and Restaurant Bill who oppose the Standardisation of Hours Bill. I think it was grossly immoral of the temperance organisation which printed that document.
The hon. Member is obviously not aware of the fact that every recipient of a copy of that petition also had a covering letter in which those facts were definitely stated and explained, and I ask the hon. Member to withdraw and apologise.
Why in one petition did they introduce two Bills, the relationship of which is not at all close, except that one Bill proposes to extend the hours at which alcohol may be sold in every public-house in this country. This Bill does not propose that at all.
In some public-houses.
In some public-houses, and only in connection with the sale of food. The Bill is entirely different. Why had this temperance organisation not the courage to print their name on the petition form possessing the signatures of women over the age of 18? I intend to say what I said in some of the letters, that I did not suppose that many of the signatories had read either Bill. If we are going to talk about honesty and corruption in method, what is there that is not intellectually corrupt in that procedure? You are asking people to sign something which is misleading.
I know. The self-righteous do not like getting a little bit back sometimes. It will be good for them. We are rather tired of people who come to this House, self-righteous, and yet misrepresent the situation. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) said that the Bill would extend the hours of labour of the staff in the hotels. At the present time if I am resident in one of these places, if there is anybody awake, I can buy a drink at any hour of the day or night.
The hon. Member must surely know that in London the Bill will enable the customer to remain at the table until 12.30 midnight, which will mean that the staff will not get to bed until 1 o'clock.
The hon. Member has been at the Home Office and he must know the existing law. If I am a resident in any hotel no one would break the law by supplying me with a meal at three o'clock in the morning. All that this Bill does is to extend to my guests in the hotel the privilege that I have already got.
Does the hon. Member not know that what I said was that I object to the Bill because it has been introduced without any provision of any kind protecting the labour conditions of the 500,000 members of staffs in these places?
The hon. Member said that this was going to prejudice their conditions. What I am pointing out is
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|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)|
|Alexander, Sir William||Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell|
|Applln, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Beit, Sir Alfred L.|
that it leaves their conditions unaffected. If we want to deal with the conditions of employment in hotels, in shops or boarding houses this is not the Measure in which to deal with it. The proper Measure is a Measure to deal with hours. Whether that is desirable or not, we cannot argue it now, because this is not the occasion. When the hon. Member said that, he was seeking to prejudice the issue. Why did he make a speech bringing in matters almost entirely irrelevant? He attacked the Travel Association and suggested that because it has a Parliamentary grant it should not express an opinion. According to that idea, there is not a single research association that ought to express an opinion, because such associations get grants from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. If the hon. Member says that no body which has a Parliamentary grant should express a view, he would shut out a vast number of organisations. On those grounds, no town council ought to express a view, because town councils receive Parliamentary grants. It was sheer prejudice. There was not a single item in the hon. Member's speech that was not prejudiced.
The hon. Member interrupted me three times, and I want to put this question. Would he agree that the Travel Association should become a temperance organisation and receive a State grant?