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Licensing Compensation Fund

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 1 December 1977

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3.13 p.m.

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made on deciding to whom the proceeds of the Licensing Compensation Fund shall he distributed.

My Lords, a further meeting between the Home Office and the Brewers' Society and licensed trade organisations took place in July, which I am pleased to say resulted in agreement in principle on a scheme for the distribution of 50 per cent. of the funds. This scheme will, however, need to be the subject of further consultations within Government and will then have to be discussed with other interested parties, including particularly the compensation authorities. These consultations need to be completed before the Government can decide what proposals to recommend to Parliament.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Does he not agree, in view of the statement that the Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Security made the other day about the increased problem of alcoholism in this country, that the sooner more funds can be devoted to the Medical Council on Alcoholism and the National Council, particularly as they are moving under the same roof, the better? Will he do all he can to try to hasten these meetings that are to be held?

Yes, my Lords, my right honourable friend is well aware of the need to hasten progress in this matter. It is an important question and we shall certainly do the best we can to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible.

My Lords, will the noble Lord agree that the Medical Council on Alcoholism and the General Council deserve to receive a great deal of money as quickly as possible? I have been involved with one of them for a long time, and we are hard up.

My Lords, I am well aware of that consideration, among others. The situation is that legislation will have to be put before Parliament, and we want to get these consultations concluded as soon as possible, for just the reason that noble Lords have identified.

My Lords, these consultations have been taking place ever since the end of the last World War. By this time, should not some definite action be taken not only as regards the 50 per cent. but as regards the full amount which was set aside for charitable purposes? Surely licensed victuallers are perfectly entitled, in consequence of the manner in which it was placed, to complain about the—I do not know the exact word terrible delay that has taken place from the time the money actually became available?

My Lords, yes, I think there has undoubtedly been considerable delay in this matter. I can only repeat the point that I have just made to the noble Lord, Lord Amulree; that is, that we are pushing on with this matter as speedily as possible. It will require legislation. All I can say is that there is no chance of that legislation in the present Session of Parliament. That being so, we want to be in a position where we are able to legislate as soon as possible thereafter.