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Excisable Liquor (Sunday Sale)

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the probable expiry of Defence Regulation 42D, he proposes to take any action to control the supply of excisable liquor to the public in Scotland on Sundays.

My right hon. Friend has given very careful consideration to the situation resulting from the probably expiry of the Emergency Powers Defence Act on 24th February, 1946, and the consequential expiry of Defence Regulation 42D. Under this Regulation orders were made prohibiting in certain areas the sale of excisable liquor on Sunday to any traveller except for his consumption at a meal supplied to him at the same time in such part of the premises as is usually set apart for the service of meals, and requiring any drinking bar in an inn or hotel in any such area to be closed. These orders apply to the whole or part of 25 of the 33 counties in Scotland, and evidence shows that they have been largely successful in putting an end to certain abuses which led to the Defence Regulation being made.The terms and purpose of Regulation 42D were definitely related to wartime conditions; and the long-standing problem of the regulation of the sale of excisable liquor in Scotland on Sunday could not, therefore, in my right hon. Friend's view, appropriately be dealt with by its continuation in the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Bill now before Parliament. The possibility of introducing permanent legislation to deal with the matter has been carefully considered in the hope that it would meet with general acceptance. As a result, however, of soundings which have been taken it is clear that any such measure would be controversial in character, and could not therefore be proceeded with in the present congested state of the Parliamentary timetable. The position on 24th February next, should the Emergency Powers Defence Act then expire, will accordingly revert to what it was before the making of Defence Regulation 42D—that is to say, it will be lawful to supply excisable liquor on Sundays to travellers in any pant of Scotland.My right hon. Friend recognises, however, that the sale of excisable liquor on Sundays is a problem to which he must give continuing attention; and he proposes to keep a very close watch upon the position and to consider the introduction of fresh legislation should experience show that the circumstances resulting from the expiry of the Defence Regulation make necessary an amendment of the law.