Orders of the Day — Hotels and Restaurants Bill.

– in the House of Commons at on 31 March 1933.

Alert me about debates like this

Order for Second Reading read.

11.5 a.m.

Photo of Mr Bracewell Smith Mr Bracewell Smith , Camberwell Dulwich

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time".

I do so with a great deal of diffidence, and I may add a considerable feeling of apprehension, due to the fact that owing to my good fortune in the Ballot I am compelled to make my maiden speech and at the same time move the Second Reading of a Bill. To do either is a severe trial to a new Member, but I know how kind, patient and tolerant the House always is when a Member is engaged in "breaking the ice." I am somewhat comforted by that reflection and in that frame of mind I will try to explain briefly, but I hope with sufficient comprehensiveness, the aims and scope of the Bill.

At the outset I wish to lay it down quite emphatically that this Bill, if passed into law, will provide certain privileges for the growing population in this country who use hotels and restaurants and will be the means of encouraging and increasing the usefulness of a great and growing industry. In the past there was little of the hotel and restaurant habit in this country, especially as compared with the conditions obtaining on the Continent, but the coming of the motor-car, the increase in motor-coach travel, the rapid development of touring in every shape and form, together with the holiday movement, have revolutionised British customs and every Member of the House knows full well that, whereas, in days gone by nobody expected in a hotel anything beyond the average comforts and service, to-day the hotel proprietor is expected to keep everything in first-class order. The attention that one receives in hotels and restaurants often makes all the difference as to whether a visit to this country is a success or a failure. Therefore I think that a Measure of this character has both national and international importance.

We cannot forget that the basis of this Bill was recommended by the Royal Com- mission. Those recommendations were made on certain evidence placed before the Commission. It was stated that the capital invested in the hotel and restaurant industry of this country exceeded £100,000,000 and that something like 400,000 employés were engaged in these establishments. It must be remembered too that in all these establishments the main business is to sell lodging and food; the sale of intoxicating liquor is merely ancillary to the main business of providing lodging and food. Further, these establishments cater for every class and type of visitor. They cater for the wealthier classes and also for the people of moderate means and it is not disputed that, in the interests of the people of Great Britain, more and better hotels and restaurants are required. It is common knowledge that owing to the great social changes that have occurred, different views are now taken in this country on the subject of people having meals in restaurants. Owing to the domestic servant difficulty of to-day, a large proportion of the people of every class, in London and in other large cities and those who are travelling on the road, take their meals in hotels and restaurants. Indeed, hotels to-day are being largely used as permanent or semi-permanent homes. There is also a great increase in the development of flats.

All these social changes have made it urgent in the public interest that a separate form of licence should be granted to hotels and restaurants, so that the person living in a hotel or dining in a restaurant may enjoy the same amenities as he would have in his own borne. It should be recognised that during the last forty years a vastly improved hotel and restaurant industry has arisen, not only in this country but in every country of the world. No one can deny its importance and usefulness to the community or the fact that legislation is desired and required to meet the changes which have taken place in the last 40 years. For instance at the present time the bar where people drink, the restaurant where people dine, and the hotel where people reside all have the same publican's licence. But it is obvious that these various sections of the licenced trade are carrying on different types of business.

In 1897 the Peel Commission recommended that an establishment with a certain quota of bedrooms should have a separate hotel licence. The Liquor Commission in the Irish Free State in 1925 recommended that there should be four different types of licences, namely, the restaurant licence, the hotel licence, the bar licence and the off licence. Various authorities on the licensing question like Mr. Arthur Sherwell have all recommended that hotels and restaurants should be treated on a different footing from public-houses. Beyond question, there is a consensus of opinion in this country as to the advisability of creating this new form of licence. There is a considerable amount of confusion in the mind of the public owing to public-houses and hotels having the same licence, as to whether there is any real difference between the two types of establishment, and particularly so among the middle class.

It is desirable to obtain young men capable of entering the hotel industry as a calling or profession, and I think one of the greatest inducements to bring them in would be the giving of a special licence to these particular establishments. One of the difficulties of obtaining better hotels and restaurants in this country is that the employés are not as a rule drawn from such a good class as is the case with similar hotels and restaurants on the Continent. It is well known that in Switzerland, Italy, and France the hotel and restaurant industry is carried on from generation to generation, but that does not apply to this country so prevalently as abroad. In Switzerland members of good families look forward at the age of 16 to participating in the hotel and restaurant industry, and one of the main reasons why I think this special licence should be granted to the industry is that it will induce young fellows of good parentage to enter this particular form of work.

That deals with just the domestic side of the problem, so far as our labour market here is concerned, but there is a rather more important question than that, and that is the question of visible and invisible exports. To-day we are all very keenly alive to the necessity for obtaining as much trade as possible. Competition in world trade is very intense, and no steps should be neglected that would in any way induce the foreigner to spend his money in this country. Any measure designed to foster the sale of goods in this country and to induce visitors from abroad to leave their money behind is deserving of the support of every Member of this House. It is universally admitted that the question of trade as bearing on unemployment is one of the most important questions of to-day, and the importance in this connection of a satisfactory hotel system in any country cannot be over-stated. Its importance is generally recognised on the Continent to a far greater extent than in this country. Other countries are more prolific in their advertising methods; and they have a bigger variety of poster displays at the railway stations than we have in this country.

I believe that a proper hotel system influences the trade of a country more than any other form of activity. By inducing travellers to spend more money here, we get an expenditure on travel, on railway tickets, on clothing, and on various articles of British manufacture which are taken out of the country, and the money for them, which was brought into the country, is left behind. Surely that is a policy that should be readily accepted by this House. Years ago travellers in this country were entertained privately, but during the last 40 years, owing to the tremendous increase in touring, there has been a rapidly developing desire to cater for these travellers in hotels and restaurants just as one would in the old, private, family way.

I want to submit one very vital reason why our hotel and restaurant business should be developed. The hotels and restaurants in other countries set the pace. One travels to Madrid, to Paris, the South of France, Rome, Venice, Berlin, in any part of Europe, even to Jerusalem—where the new King David Hotel has been built about two years—in Northern Africa, in America, on the Great Canadian Pacific Railway, to Banff Springs, and so on, where one finds palatial establishments that have been erected. They are all attracting the traveller, and if we desire to attract a fair proportion of those travellers from the West or from the East, we must at all costs make sure that our hotels and restaurants will compare with any establishment in any other country. It is the Continental system, the up-to-date methods of foreign countries, which standardise the whole of this industry. We cannot content ourselves by thinking that this industry is just a national affair, created and developed to meet our own domestic requirements. It is something that has been forced on us by this tremendous Continental competition. In Switzerland, during the time of the War, the banks came to the help of the hotel establishments, and the same thing happened in Germany.

The licensing laws in this country, I am afraid, are largely responsible for the difficulties under which our hotel system labours. The demands of the travelling public for the provision of bath-rooms, for running water, for central heating, and so on, are insistent, but it is very difficult under the present licensing conditions to provide these improvements. We know that first-class hotel accommodation does improve the trade of a town. If you have a very fine hotel establishment in Newcastle, people will stay in Newcastle rather than 10 or 20 miles away. When our friends the trade unions desire to hold a conference, they look round and say, "Where is the best hotel accommodation?" They go to Blackpool, or Brighton, or other places where there are sufficient bedrooms—not sufficient public-houses, but sufficient bedrooms—to cater for their delegates, and it is just the same with travellers from other countries.

For instance, we had last year the Medical Association Conferences in this country. If anyone in America desires to hold a conference in some foreign country, say in Germany, Switzerland or England, he first makes inquiries whether there are sufficient bedrooms for the delegates. Englishmen have prided themselves for many years on the hospitality that can be offered to our visitors. I contend that the hotel industry, which by force of circumstances has become the host of the country, must be given opportunities to place itself at the head of the hotel industry of the world. This industry must attract the right type of man, it must encourage the construction of the right type of hotel, and the hotels must be given the opportunity of attracting capital into the industry. These three factors must be borne in mind when considering this question.

Hon. Members will remember that in September, 1929, a Royal Commission was set up to examine the various phases of the licensing trade. The Commission was very comprehensive in its constitution, it held many meetings and heard oral evidence from 189 witnesses representing Government Departments, magistrates, police and other authorities, organisations representing the trade, temperance and other interests, persons in the scientific, economic and industrial world, and private people who were in the position of visitors to these establishments. Not only did the Commission examine witnesses representing that wide variety of thought in this country, but they took into account the licensing systems in force in the Dominions and the principal foreign countries. The Commission sat from September, 1929, until January, 1931, and issued their Report in December, 1931. Of the 21 members who formed the Commission, only two dissented from the recommendations contained in the majority Report. I think that the House has a perfect right to accept the findings of a majority Report of that kind. It was a very exhaustive inquiry, and the findings were based on a mass of information which we as Members of the House cannot possibly have. This Bill has been based on the findings of the Commission. In the Memorandum it will be found that paragraphs 259 and 260 of the Report are the basis of the Bill. In paragraph 260 the Commission state frankly that We fully accept the case put before us on behalf of the Hotels and Restaurants Association as to the national importance of the hotel industry, and the need for taking every possible step which will assist in raising the industry to a higher level, and improving the attractions of the hotel to wayfarers and foreign visitors. The Bill is a very simple one. In Clause 1, Sub-sections (2) and (3), the provisions under which these special licences shall be granted are laid down. The premises must be structurally adapted for use and must be bona fide used for the reception of guests and visitors; and the percentage of receipts from the sale of intoxicating liquor must not exceed more than 50 per cent. of total annual receipts in the case of hotels, and 60 per cent. in the case of restaurants. Subsection (4) simply applies to premises already licensed but are not doing the business of hotels and restaurants. Provided they carry out the primary work of providing lodging and food, and that their receipts from intoxicating liquor do not exceed that particular percentage, they may apply for this licence.

Sub-section (7) deals with the question of the bar. This is an important point and deals with the question as to how far the bar in hotels and restaurants shall be covered by this special licence. Under the Bill, whether a bar is included in the hotel premises or whether it is looked upon as being outside the premises, it cannot sell intoxicating liquor after the permitted hours. There is no extension of drinking in the bar whether it is included in the hotel premises or excluded from them. If the bar is built in such a way that there is no access to the main premises except a serving hatch or something like that, it is excluded from the licence. If it is part and parcel of the premises with an entrance in the hotel, the bar will be included under the special licence, but in either case the bar will have to close at the permitted hour.

Clause 2 deals with a rather important matter, tying agreements. I do not want any confusion to arise on this particular Clause. It does not exclude a public house from obtaining the special licence providing it extends its premises in such a way that there are increased dining facilities or increased bedroom accommodation which will bring its takings from the sale of liquor below the 50 per cent., but it does prevent unlicensed premises from getting this special licence if the tying agreement is in existence at the time of application. I would remark that if the Bill does get to the stage where it is considered in Committee, there are many minor points that might very safely be left to that stage. I repeat that a tying agreement does not disentitle an existing tied house from taking advantage of this special licence, provided the establishment conforms to the provisions as to the takings from liquor not exceeding 50 per cent. in the case of hotels and 60 per cent. in the case of restaurants. Clause 3 deals simply with the machinery by which the licence is granted.

Clause 5, is, of course, the important Clause. It deals with the extension of privileges. The privileges are these. Under this Bill any establishment granted a special licence may keep open its restaurant until 12 o'clock in the Metropolitan area and until 11 o'clock outside the Metropolitan area. If the permitted hours are until 11 in the London area, then there is a supper extension to 12 o'clock. If the permitted hours in the provinces are until 10 o'clock, then they can continue serving drinks with meals until 11 o'clock. Everyone knows of the anomalies which exist at present. If you arrive at St. Pancras Station at half-past 11, for instance, you cannot get a drink with a meal; but if you happen to arrive at Victoria Station then you can have a, drink with a meal. If you happen to be on the wrong side of Oxford Street, at Frascatti's, for instance, after 11 o'clock, you cannot get a drink with a meal, but if you just cross the road and go 20 yards or so you can have a drink with a meal until 12 o'clock, owing to being in another licensing area. Obviously that is absurd. I believe that in Birmingham the permitted hours are until two o'clock in the afternoon. If this Bill is passed it will bring uniformity throughout the country in the hours for serving drinks with meals. I would specially point out to the House that the Bill does not grant an extension of permitted hours. It is only an extension of drinking facilities beyond the permitted hours providing the client or the visitor has a meal.

Next we come to Sub-section (1) of Clause 5. If you happen to be living in a hotel and have been to the theatre and want to take your friend home after the theatre you can, under this subsection, buy your friend a drink until 12 o'clock. That will be a tremendous concession. You are living in your own home, for your hotel is your residence. Here we look upon a man's home as his castle, and under this Sub-section a special licence would allow a resident to buy his friends a drink up to midnight, but not after midnight. In England and Wales we say that people should go to bed after 12 o'clock. Sub-section (2) of Clause 5 deals with the provision in the existing licensing laws which prevents a licensee from even putting a door into a bedroom wall without the permission of the licensing justices. Take the ease of a house with three old-fashioned out-of-date bedrooms where the enterprising proprietor wishes to turn the middle bedroom into two bathrooms, so that instead of having three bedrooms he will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. There is a tremendous lot to be done before permission for such an alteration can be obtained. Plans must be prepared—not merely one set of plans but several sets, and sometimes the licensing justices insist on as many plans being prepared as there are members of the bench. Very often there is a visit of inspection to the premises to see whether the proprietor knows his business or not.

Although the reconstruction of bedrooms is obviously designed for the benefit of the visitors, yet under our present licensing laws, although that part of the premises has nothing to do with the serving of intoxicating liquor, the licensee must perforce apply for permission to make the improvements. Under this Bill that part of the premises which is excluded from the serving of liquor would be outside the jurisdiction of the justices in regard to any alterations which were to be carried out. I think that is a very wise step, and if this Bill is passed I believe we shall find throughout the country—along the Great North Road, in Wales, in Windermere, in Stratford-on-Avon and elsewhere—that hotel proprietors will endeavour to bring their hotels up to date by fitting more modern sanitary equipment and giving more satisfactory bathroom accommodation. There have been cases where a licensee desired to provide a connecting door in a bedroom, an alteration which would cost only some £5, and the achitectural and legal expenses in which he has been involved in order to meet the requirements of the present law have amounted to something like £25. To my mind such a state of affairs is absurd.

I have explained to the House what the Bill is designed to do. It is a Bill framed on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which were fully endorsed by 19 members of the Commission out of 21. Surely hon. Members of this House will recognise the urgency of this Measure. I do not wish to say anything detrimental of the public-house. It has been mentioned to me that the Bill smacks of class legislation. There is not a single line in it that refers to any kind of class legislation. There is no mention of the type of hotel to which it refers, which might be the Ritz, or a cheap commercial hotel. The Bill does not designate the type of restaurant, but simply states that, if a, restaurant is bona fide used primarily for the consumption of food, that restaurant, whether it is catering for the highest type of client or for the man of the smallest possible means, would be entitled to the special licence. If anyone can find one line in the Bill indicating class legislation, I would like to see him afterwards and discuss it.

I hope that the House will consider it as a sane and sensible Measure, and that every hon. Member will realise that its passing is long overdue. It has been said that we should not encourage piecemeal legislation. I consider that if a Bill had to be drafted to be so comprehensive that it would include all the Recommendations of the Licensing Commission, that Bill would never get through this House. It has been stated that chapter 9 of the Report of the Commission contains the only sensible Recommendation. I am glad that we have found a sensible part of the Report, and that we have embodied it in the Bill. The industry is a great and growing one, and I am asking for an opportunity for it to develop. I want it to be freed from the restrictions that have been experienced, I am sure, by every hon. Member at one time or another in this country. Those difficulties are not experienced to the same extent abroad, but on every hand you hear complaints about these little restrictions in this country. The Bill will provide for a sensible consumption of drink with meals after prohibited hours.

I am asking the House to provide a means of increasing the chances of employment for thousands of men and women, at a time when the problem of unemployment overshadows all the problems with which we are faced. Every establishment that would get this special licence is consuming carpets, linen, cutlery and food of every description, and practically 100 per cent. of the articles used in the annual renewals, and by wear and tear, in the hotel business are of British manufacture and production. If the House decides to give the Bill a Second Reading, I appeal to the Under-Secretary that the Government might see their way to adopt it. The Government could not adopt a more popular Measure so far as this country is concerned.

11.50 a.m.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

I beg to second the Motion. I am sure that I shall carry the whole House with me in offering my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith) our sincere congratulations upon an admirable maiden speech. I have been in the House for a great many years, and I do not think that on any occasion I have heard a case presented in a maiden speech so comprehensively, so moderately, or so full of relevant facts as in the speech to which we have listened this morning.

I believe that we shall be agreed that it is desirable for the welfare of the people of this country that more food should be consumed on licensed premises, and that the status of catering and hotel establishments in the country should be raised. My hon. Friend has come to the House with the support of the Royal Commission, and, as he points out, with the support of that particular section of the Royal Commission's Report which commended itself to the public opinion of the whole country. We have been criticised for a long time by our foreign visitors because of the lack of organisation and equipment, and the want of efficiency, of our hotels. In America, a few years ago, calculations were carefully prepared of the extent to which American visitors to Europe spent money in various countries. That calculation showed that, in comparison with France, Switzerland and Italy, only about 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. of the total amount was expended in this country. In 1931, 1,500,000 American visitors went to France and just over 1,000,000 went to Switzerland, but only 376,000 came to this country. The American calculation was that every visitor from the States to the Continent or to this country spent 250 dollars, or £50 at par, per head. A very simple calculation will make it clear that on the basis of £50 per head this country suffered very much and presented a very unfavourable comparison with continental countries.

The most rabid temperance advocate would agree that it is desirable, as far as possible, to encourage people to take food as well as drink. The Bill is to encourage a more wholesome enjoyment of meals in restaurants. It is unhappily the fact that the limited accommodation available for visitors, is, in many instances, startling. In our provincial towns the hotels are lamentably wanting in accommodation. Those who are interested in the promotion of this Measure believe that, by extending facilities for the comfortable enjoyment of meals in hotels and restaurants, and enabling people who travel by late trains to have a meal at an hour when they require it, accompanied by a drink, which they cannot now enjoy, we should be making a distinct accession to the measure of comfort which hotels present to the travelling public.

The hotel industry in this country is of very large dimensions. It is stated, I do not know on what authority, that between £350,000,000 and £400,000,000 is invested in hotels in this country, and hotels are said to employ something like 400,000 people. Therefore, from the point of view of employment, it is important that the capacity of our hotels to receive visitors and the measure of comfort that they can offer to their visitors should he improved. The raising of the status of the hotel itself, which was so strongly emphasised in the report of the Royal Commission, should command the sympathetic support of everyone throughout the country.

My hon. Friend has covered the subject so completely, and has submitted to the House all the facts so clearly, that very little need be said by me in seconding his Motion. I hope that the Bill will not be regarded by temperance reformers as an attempt further to extend the facilities for drinking in this country, but one of the most embarrassing things for those of us who travel a great deal is to find ourselves in a hotel late in the evening with a visitor, and in the uncomfortable position of being unable to offer him any refreshment. I have frequently been in that position, and it is most embarrassing. If this Bill becomes law, that difficulty in our social life will be removed.

I should like to observe, for the benefit of my hon. Friend the Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), whose views on this question are so well known in the House, and who has made so substantial a contribution himself to sound thought on temperance questions of an advanced character, that the Bill provides that fresh drinking water shall be available where meals or refreshments are observed, and in that respect it amends substantially the provisions of the present law. The safeguards provided are, I think, very reasonable inasmuch as a limit is set to the quantity of alcoholic drink which may be sold, based on the figures for the preceding five years, before anyone is entitled to apply to the justices for this special form of licence. The limit in the case of an hotel is 50 per cent., and in the case of a restaurant 60 per cent., of the total annual receipts.

The whole custom of this country for many years was to differentiate between the hotel and the public house. The law of the land in this country, down to the Licensing Consolidation Act, 1910, laid it down that the inn was a place of rest to which travellers could resort, and was different, from the licensing point of view, from the ordinary public house. I make no reflection at all upon the ordinary public house, which in this country to-day is being conducted at a very high level of efficiency, but I think it is eminently desirable that the establishments to which travellers resort where they have their meals, where they sleep, and where they bring their friends, should be placed in a somewhat different category from the ordinary public house as it is known at the present time. If it was good for our ancestors to have a notable distinction between the inn or tavern and the licensed public house, it would be to-day, in view of the circumstances of the time, an admirable action on our part to return to that state of affairs.

This Bill will, I hope secure the support of my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Home Office. It is a Bill of a kind with which I think any really patriotic Minister would be delighted to associate himself. It is one of those Bills which rarely appear in this House, having a distinctly national character in themselves. It aims at removing a serious defect in the social structure of this country, and my right hon. Friend will, I am sure, be proud to identify himself with its easy and swift passage through this House. Indeed, His Majesty's Government would earn a considerable reputation in the production of sound legislative output if they were to give their endorsement to this Measure in the course of its progress through the House of Commons. On the ground of the need for the Bill in order to make the wheels of our social system run more smoothly, on the ground that it has been recommended so strongly by the Royal Commission, after the examination of witnesses, and on the ground that all the available statistical evidence goes to show that at present we have not fully efficient hotel accommodation in this country, I feel sure that the House will receive the Measure sympathetically and will give it a Second Reading to-day. As my hon. Friend has indicated, if any Amendments are necessary—in relation to tied houses, for example—they can be dealt with in Committee. I think there are reasonable and substantial grounds for hoping that the Measure will secure a favourable majority on its merits, and I venture to suggest that it deserves every commendation.

12.3 p.m.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

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."

I should like to begin by joining with the last speaker in congratulating the Mover of the Bill on his extremely capable speech. He told us, and the Seconder has also mentioned, that the Bill has been framed with the idea of carrying out the recommendations of the Royal Commission; and, indeed, the Memorandum on the front page begins with this statement: This is a Bill to create, in respect of bona fide hotels and restaurants, a new special form of licence in accordance with the recommendations contained in Chapter IX of the Report of the Royal Commission on Licensing (England and Wales), 1929–31. And at the bottom of the same page, there is this specific assertion This Bill gives effect to these recommendations, without any additions. That statement is untrue, as I shall proceed to show to the House in a moment. It is absolutely and entirely untrue. There are numerous additions, and I regard them as being of a very dangerous character. I would say, further, that the Bill does not implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission either in the spirit or in the letter. Before, however, I examine the specific Clauses, I would like to make one or two observations of a general character. The reoom- mendations of the Commission in respect of all licensing matters are intended to be taken has a whole and not, to use the words of the mover, piecemeal. The Commissioners themselves make that statement definitely, and they say that their proposals constitute a, balanced whole and, if taken as a whole, would remedy all the anomalies in regard to differentiation between hours on one side of the street and the other and between adjacent wards and parishes. Picking one isolated item from their recommendations and dealing with that alone upsets the general balance of the whole scheme of things and is contrary entirely to the intentions of the Commissioners. I think the majority of them would protest against this Bill being taken as a single item of legislation without regard to the whole of the other recommendations, which are closely associated with it and in some cases dependent upon it.

The reasons given in the Commission's Report for differentiation in favour of hotels and restaurants as against other licensed premises were these. First, they say in paragraph 259 that they have a desire to encourage by every practical means business other than the sale of intoxicants. The second reason they give is the generally recognised need of improving the status and the standard of the hotel and catering industry. It is clear that they had in mind there the improvement of the hotel business and hotel accommodation generally, as distinct from the grant of increased facilities for the supply of intoxicating liquor. In fact, they say so quite definitely in paragraphs 262 and 263.

The Bill does practically nothing whatever to improve the accommodation or the standard. The seconder said it would encourage the consumption of food. I cannot see a single word from beginning to end which would give the slightest encouragement to the consumption of food, but there is plenty to encourage the consumption of drink, and the opponents of the Bill regard it as being brought forward almost solely for the purpose of facilitating and stimulating the encouragement of the sale of drink. There was a meeting in Committee Room No. 10 on 21st February of members who were invited to come to promote the prospects of the Bill. I was invited and I attended the meeting. I do not know whether the invitation to me was a mistake or whether all members were simultaneously invited. I made some very careful notes of what took place and I put down the words of some of the speakers in support of the Measure. Lord Derby spoke very strongly indeed and this is what he said about it: Large sums of money are invested in the hotel business and something must he done to enable many big establishments which have been doing very badly lately to pay their way. A great number of hotels and hotel businesses no longer pay the dividends they used to pay. There, in my submission, you have the real motive for the Bill, not to improve the hotel industry as an industry but to enable people who have invested their money in the business to get bigger profits. We have been told, in a memorandum which has been circulated to us, that the capital invested in the industry is over £100,000,000. The seconder said that, as far as he knew, it was between £350,000,000 and £400,000,000. The shareholders who have invested the money, of course, want larger dividends. In my judgment that is the fons et origo of the Bill. It is admitted quite frankly that there is a higher rate of profit on the sale of intoxicants than on the supply of food or of service or of accommodation, and we were told at the meeting upstairs that in most of the big hotels only from 12 to 15 per cent. of the total receipts were derived from the supply of liquor and, if that percentage could be increased to something nearer the 50 per cent, permitted by the Bill, the profits would be higher and the dividends would be greater. There you have the prime motive of the promotion of the Bill. The hotel managers, after the Bill becomes law, will be able to swell the dividends of their shareholders by increasing the consumption of drink if they do nothing else, and if there is no increase in accommodation and none of the developments so interestingly outlined by the mover. [Interruption.] I am simply suggesting that all the other lofty and noble motives which have been suggested as being the reason for the Bill are not true and that there is a very much more sordid motive behind the whole business.

Photo of Mr Cecil Pike Mr Cecil Pike , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Does not the hon. Member remember, in giving evidence before the Licensing Commission, that he would not in any circumstances support the improvement of the public house unless someone could prove to him that it did not encourage drinking facilities among young people?

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

That is the reason why I am opposing the Bill, because in my judgment it will encourage the increased sale of intoxicants, and that is its main object. I do not believe it will have any other effect than that. We were told with great emphasis by the Mover, and we have been told again in the circulars which have been sent to Members and which have been published outside, that if the Bill is carried it will enable more tourists to visit this country. Let us examine that assertion. The Royal Commission stated that they fully accepted the case put forward on behalf of the Hotels and Restaurants Association as to the national importance of the hotel industry and the need for taking every possible step which will assist in raising the industry to a higher level and improving the attractions of hotels to wayfarers and foreign visitors.

That is the assertion. Now the implication of both the speeches to which we have just listened, and all the memoranda sent round on this aspect of the question, is that people from the Continent and America and elsewhere will only visit this country and stop in our hotels if they can get intoxicating drink at all times of the day and night. [HON. MEMBERS "No."] It is no use hon. Members saying "No". I have heard it from their own lips repeatedly and seen it in print, as many other Members have, over and over again. I will not believe the implication, and the Royal Commission, as a matter of fact, bears me out. Quotations have been made from the Royal Commission's Report and, very significantly, certain paragraphs were omitted. The Royal Commission took evidence on this particular matter. On page 58, paragraph 262, the Royal Commission say— We are not convinced that the various restrictions on the sale of intoxicants have, in fact, as has been suggested, acted in any substantial degree as a deterrant to tourist traffic from abroad. They took on this point all the evidence which the Hotels and Restaurants Association could bring forward, and this is the conclusion of the 21 gentlemen who formed the Commission and who were practically unanimous in their recommendations. They say that the assertion that tourists will not come here unless they can get drink, as suggested, is not borne out by any evidence at all. My comment on the position is that the inducement of being able to obtain drink at all hours, or at later hours than at present, will only attract, if it attracts anyone at all, the very least desirable type of tourist, and I should doubt if the fact that visitors can drink and treat and be treated in hotels up to midnight, instead of up to 11 p.m. in the central districts of London would induce one person to come to this country who would not otherwise come. However hon. Members may laugh, I suggest that no one can bring any evidence to controvert that statement.

Photo of Mr Bracewell Smith Mr Bracewell Smith , Camberwell Dulwich

May I ask the hon. Member to read paragraph 262 to the end?

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

I do not wish to suppress anything. The Report says— We are not convinced that the various restrictions on the sale of intoxicants have in fact, as has been suggested, acted in any substantial degree as a deterrent to tourist traffic from abroad. On the other hand, we appreciate the argument that the hotel industry may have been cramped to some extent by being treated in nearly all respects on the same basis under the Licensing laws as the public house. If hon. Members will limit their Bill to provisions to enable hotels to reconstruct without having necessarily to go to the licensing justices, I will support the Bill with great enthusiasm, but hon. Members do not want the Bill with those Clauses, unless they can also have the Bill with the Clauses giving an extension of drinking facilities. They know that perfectly well. The real advantage of the Continental hotel over the British hotel, or most British hotels in this country, is in its superior equipment and service, far more than in relation to facilities for obtaining drinks which are obtainable on the Continent and are not obtainable here. Then we were told that the increase in motor traffic and so on had created entirely new conditions. Of course, everyone knows that that has produced a new clientele quite different from the old traffic. Drivers of cars traverse hundreds of miles a day about the country, and, therefore, it is said that they want to be able, and need to be, to obtain drink and particularly food practically at any time, that it is unreasonable that hours should be limited to 2 o'clock or 10 or 11 o'clock at night, that if a man is on the road, and he has some mishap, his car being held up or he has miscalculated his time and he arrives at a hotel two minutes after 2 o'clock, it is a source of great irritation and great injustice, and it is most unreasonable that he should not be able to obtain drink after 2 o'clock.

I want to submit to this House, very seriously, that there is every reason why he should not be able to obtain it. There is every reason, both from a practical point of view and a scientific point of view, that a man who is driving his own ear, in particular, should not be able to secure intoxicating drink at any time while he is on the road. It is certain that there would be far fewer smashes and deaths in accidents if all private motorists obeyed the condition, or conformed to the condition, which practically every omnibus company and every public transport company enforces on its employés, namely, that they shall not drink in any circumstances while on duty or immediately before going on duty. Of the passenger service employés in this country, 96 per cent. work under that strict rule, with the liability to instant dismissal if they break it.

Photo of Mr Cecil Pike Mr Cecil Pike , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Does it prevent accidents?

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

I want to say that scientific opinion and medical opinion are increasingly inclining to the view that a large proportion of motor accidents at the present time are due to motorists consuming, not an excessive quantity of liquor, but a quite moderate quantity of liquor, or such a quantity as is contained in a single bottle of beer. [Laughter.]. Hon. Members laugh, but I am going to state one or two facts which, I think, will convince many of those who are most strongly opposed to me on that point. There were 7,000 deaths on the roads last year, and 200,000 persons more or less seriously injured. The question has been asked what proportion of those accidents was directly attributable to the consumption of moderate quantities of alcohol. I do not know, and no one else knows with any degree of accuracy, but I think we should be putting the case extremely mildly if we said that 25 per cent. were due to that cause. The percentage has been put as high as 75 by eminent consultants and persons in this country who have specially studied the subject and are familiar with the experimental data.

I am not, of course, going into the scientific side but it is not a matter of dispute in the scientific world that even the quantity of alcohol contained in a single bottle of beer will cause a considerable difference in the length of the reaction time in any ordinary normal individual. The reaction time is the interval which elapses between the impression of the image on the retina of the eye and the muscular response either in the hand or the foot in working the brakes or steering-apparatus. The figure which is accepted, and upon which there is no dispute whatever, is that that reaction time is increased by from 50 to 100 per cent. by the small quantity of alcohol to which I have referred. Everyone ought to know that an increase in the reaction time of that amount will make all the difference between life and death when the motorist is confronted with an emergency and when time has to be measured not even by a fifth or a tenth of a second but by thousandths of a second. I suggest, therefore, that instead of increasing the facilities for motorists to obtain drink while they are actually driving their own cars we ought to curtail them.

Other countries have realised this danger. Other countries officially warn motorists that they should not touch alcohol when they are driving or immediately before they are driving. Germany does it. In Berlin every applicant for a motorist's licence is obliged to receive a card, and before a licence is issued he has to sign a document to say that he has not only received the card but has read the card warning him not in any circumstances because of the great danger to himself and to the public to touch alcohol either when he is driving or immediately before. One of our own colonies—Canada—is doing the same thing at the present time, at least the Province of Ontario. I have in my portfolio a leaflet issued to all motorists who receive a licence in the Province of Ontario telling them, in almost exactly the same words as those used by the police authorities in Berlin, that motorists should not take alcohol before or during driving. I have been referring to the consumption of small and moderate quantities of alcohol, and upon the conclusions and deductions I have just stated, I say with the greatest confidence that there is no dispute whatever in the scientific world.

What I have been saying is an accepted fact, and it is useless for hon. Gentlemen to laugh and to sneer at my statements on the subject. Look at the daily papers. You cannot open a daily newspaper on any day in the week without finding records of convictions of motorists being drunk in charge of a car and running into risks and danger on the road through taking an excessive quantity of alcohol. Time and time again you have the statements in the pleadings of the defendant in the court that he has just before had one or two glasses of stout or drinks of whisky at an hotel on the road. Now it is actually proposed to put a Bill upon the Statute Book which is to aggravate that position and encourage those people to drink more, and later, than at the present time, and one of the effects of the Bill will be to increase the total number of motor accidents on the road.

I come to the assertion that the Bill carries out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission recommended a grant of a special hotel or restaurant licence on certain conditions, and only on those conditions. In paragraph 277, in page 61, the Commissioners say: 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. The Commissioners, of course, reasonably suggest that exception should be made for any existing tie. What does the Bill provide in this regard? It pretends to carry out the recommendations of the Commission. But it contains a very cunning provision that a tying agreement means an agreement entered into between the tenant of the hotel premises and the landlord, if he is a brewer-owner, and only if he is a brewer-owner. It is a recognised fact that in a considerable number of hotels, and in some cases, very important hotels, in this country, the dominant party to the tie is a wine importer or a distilling firm, and not a brewer-owner at all. The definition in the Bill, therefore, makes completely void the recommendation of the condition laid down by the Commission. Moreover, the definition of the nature of the tie in Sub-section (3) of Clause 2 is such that it might be avoided in practically every instance by the three final words in the Sub-section, "at agreed prices." If those particular words are omitted from the agreement which fixes the tie, the whole safeguard is wiped right out. I suggest that this is a deliberate attempt by the persons who drafted the Bill to avoid the specific condition laid down by the Licensing Commission. The next condition laid down is, that no commission should be received by any member of the staff on the sale of intoxicants. That vitally important provision is excluded from the Bill. It is a notorious fact that hall porters, head waiters, wine waiters and others in the employ of hotels frequently receive no salary at all, or only a small retaining wage. They are expected to derive the whole of their remuneration either from tips or from commission on the sale of drink; hall porters from tips, and head waiters and wine waiters from commission on the sale of drink.

Lately public attention has been drawn to the case of a number of hotels with music and dancing licences in which another very grave position has arisen, in recent years. Girls are employed as dancing partners at the hotel. They are paid no wages or salary. They are expected to derive the whole of their remuneration from wheedling customers into purchasing drinks, or possibly cigarettes, chocolates or other things. When the London County Council was sitting as a judicial body to decide applications for music and dancing licences the special attention of the Council was called to several specific instances where these conditions existed in regard to hotels and where serious consequences to the girls had resulted therefrom. Obviously, any such condition of employment of girl dancing partners is a most objectionable one and tends to immorality and to all kinds of unsatisfactory conditions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why!"] If the hon. Member cannot see why, then he must be morally blind. It was recognised by the London County Council that this was a very serious matter, but here in this Bill we have a deliberate And purposeful exclusion of that condition which was laid down by the Royal Commission as one of the conditions which should be imposed in the case of the grant of an hotel or restaurant licence.

The third condition insisted upon by the Commission was referred to by the seconder of the Bill, with some jocularity. He is mistaken entirely in the conclusion which he drew in relation to that matter. The third condition says: Fresh water shall be available on all tables, etc., when meals and refreshments are served. That is the recommendation of the Commission, and I ask the House to note the words. The Bill in Clause 3 (3) deliberately alters the wording and omits the words, "on the tables."[Laughter.] The levity of the hon. Members does not disturb me in the least. It is a manoeuvre on their part to try to cover up what they know is a disgraceful attempt to circumvent the recommendations of the Commission And to camouflage what they are doing. I say that deliberately. The Clause in the Bill simply means that at the present time in hotels and restaurants water can be obtained if asked for and demanded by the guests, but everybody in the House knows that there is a difficulty in obtaining water in hotels and restaurants unless the customer insists upon it and demands that fresh water should be forthcoming. The request is met by black looks and has to be reiterated before water is obtainable. The Bill, if carried into law, would leave the supply of fresh water as it is to-day. To-day fresh water can be or may be obtained on request, but the Bill simply says that fresh water shall be available. It does not say, as the Commission insists, that it shall be on the tables, so that people can help themselves and need not be put in the dilemma of continually demanding water, or being compelled to purchase alcoholic liquor from the proprietor. It is very significant that the promoters of the Bill have altered the wording so as to nullify the Commission's recommendations.

There is another instance where the promoters of the Bill have departed from the general lines laid down by the Commission. The Commission recommended that hotel and restaurants in the Metropolis should be permitted to supply liquor on weekdays with meals up to 12 o'clock midnight. The Bill has changed that recommendation and has altered the word "Metropolis" to "the Metropolitan police area." At the present time a certain part of the Metropolis, which is known as theatre land, possesses the doubtful privilege of supplying liquor to a later hour with meals than is the case in other parts of the County of London. In that small part of London drink with meals can be served up to 11 p.m., and the proposal of the Commission is to extend that up to 12 o'clock midnight in the Metropolis. The Bill says "the Metropolitan police district," and the Metropolitan police district is an area of 699.42 square miles, with a population of 9,000,000 and extends from far into Hertfordshire in the North to far into Surrey in the South, from Staines in the West to Dartford in the East, and takes in a large part of seven counties. In this respect the Bill is a complete departure from the recommendation of the Commission. It is an addition to the recommendation of the Commission, although in the memorandum the Bill says there is no addition.

Clause 5 (1, b), lines 34 to 40, provides that the holder of an hotel licence shall be entitled to permit a bona fide resident to treat his bona fide guests with intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises at any hour up to midnight. It is true that this was recommended by the Commission, but my Friends and I, with great respect to the Seconder, who spoke somewhat humorously on the subject, regard this proposal as dangerous.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

The whole tendency not only of legislation but of public sentiment on this matter has been increasingly against the practice of treating. Treating was prohibited during the War for very good reasons. It has been denounced as undesirable even in the quasi-organs of the trade, and by bodies like the Fellowship of Freedom and Reform, and the True Temperance Association. In a recent publication of the True Temperance Association—I am sorry that one of the Members for Buckinghamshire, who is a prominent and earnest supporter of the Association, is not in his place—the practice of treating, is regarded as a very undesirable thing. Notwithstanding, we have here a Bill to encourage and extend the practice. That is a very dangerous and unfortunate proposal. We are told that the recommendations of the Commission in regard to the granting of a special hotel licence were unanimous. That is so in the main, but if one looks at the report we find that several of the Commissioners distinctly entered a reservation on this particular point. I think everybody agrees that there is a great deal to be said for differentiating between hotels and public houses, but I understand that when evidence was being given before the Commission by representatives of the publicans, those who represented the trade on the Commission very strongly dissented from this part of the report. Mr. Morgan, according to the printed report, pleaded with a witness from the Hotel and Restaurants' Association to drop this proposal for the separation of the two interests. He said: Don't you think we ought to hang together, a question which caused great amusement to the parties present. At the meeting in the Committee room upstairs, to which I referred at the beginning of my speech, the hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Colonel Applin) said: The licensed victuallers had been told to keep quiet about this Bill and say nothing against it because if the extension of hours and other privileges were given to hotel keepers the precedent could be used subsequently to claim an extension of drinking hours for the ordinary public houses.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

That is my case. I do not know on what grounds hon. Members opposite are opposing the Bill; I suppose part of their opposition is on behalf of the general license trade. If this Bill is passed and these increased facilities are granted to the hotel and restaurant trade I have no doubt that subsequently the general license trade will come forward and say that they have been placed in an unfair position and will demand exactly the same privileges for themselves. Increased drinking facilities for the general public at the present time are undesirable in the public welfare. It certainly will be difficult to differentiate between small hotels with a limited accommodation and a number of ordinary public houses with two or three bedrooms, which also supply meals. There are thousands of public houses where both these services are given at present. According to the Bill the only line of distinction between the two is the amount of takings from the sale of alcohol in relation to total receipts. If the receipts from the sale of drink do not exceed 50 per cent. of the total takings the premises may become an hotel, if they are over 50 per cent. the premises remain an ordinary public house.

As chairman of an assessment committee for a number of years I have had a great deal to do with fixing the valuation of licensed premises and I know that it will be extremely easy to manipulate the accounts and keep the figure just above or just below the 50 per cent. level, if it is desirable or necessary. I have seen that happen over and over again, and when the books have been examined by an expert accountant the statement made in the accounts has been disproved. There will be ample opportunity for evasion in this respect. I make this serious charge against the promoters of the Bill. If I may say without offence they have had the effrontery to issue a Bill with statements on the front page which are incorrect, and which they surely must have known are incorrect. The statement that the recommendations of the Committee have been followed with no additions is totally false, as I have demonstrated in three or four respects. I will not develop certain other points where I can also show that the statement is untrue.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member entitle to impute dishonest motives to hon. Members of this House in presenting a Bill?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not think the hon. Member is doing that.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

I do not wish to be offensive or to hurt the feelings of any hon. Member. All I am doing is to point out, as a fact, not as a matter of opinion, that the Memorandum to the Bill makes a certain statement which is grossly untrue in half a dozen respects. If hon. Members who have put their names to the Bill did not know it they ought to have known it. I presume that they have had some hand in drafting the Bill and knew the contents of its various Clauses, and it is perfectly manifest to anyone who examines the Bill in a superficial fashion that the statement on the front page is erroneous. We have been told that it is necessary that the hotel industry should be improved. The Commission say: The majority of hotels in this country are out of date, the accommodation is unattractive, the catering is primitive, while there is an obvious absence of trained hotel management. How does the Bill deal with any of these defects? During the last two or three years there has been a great "Buy British" campaign, and when that campaign was at its height about two and a half years ago, and when the question of national mark beef was to the fore, the Empire Marketing Board made certain inquiries and conducted a canvass of the hotels in the West End of London as to the source of their meat supply. What did they find? They found that in only two per cent. of the West End hotels was English beef used, and it is safe to say that not more than five per cent. of all the hotels in London to-day are using English meat. You can hardly go to a West End hotel to-day and get English meat; the odds are 50 to one that you will get foreign beef. I should have thought that the patriots opposite who are supporting the Bill would find in this an opportunity for a reform of the hotel industry; and a reform much more important than increasing the facilities for the sale of drink.

During the Wembley Exhibition and immediately afterwards the Empire Marketing Board received endless complaints from overseas visitors as to the extortionate prices they were charged by English hotels, not only in London, but all over the country. The Board, and I understand also the Colonial Office, received bitter complaints from distinguished Colonial statesmen and from people holding responsible offices in our overseas Dominions of the way in which they were deliberately fleeced—that word was used again and again—by English hotels. They complained not only of the prices but of being taken advantage of in other respects by the addition of unwarranted extras to their Bill, and a number of them, good imperialists, wrote to the Colonial Office and to the Empire Marketing Board saying that they would never set foot again in England if they were to be treated in that way. Let the hotels mend their ways and then they would not need adventitious aids like drinking after hours to encourage visitors. It is admitted that on the Continent for comparable prices you can get very much better accommodation, better amenities and very much better service. Here is a chance for the hotel industry to set its house in order, to set themselves right with foreign and overseas visitors.

Let the hotels set their house in order in another direction. They pay absolutely miserable wages; it is one of the worst paid trades in the country. They will not pay any wages at all, if they can help it; there are a number of employés who get no wages. In some cases employés have to pay a lump sum down to get a job, in the hope that they will remunerate themselves by tips and so on. Not only are the wages bad, but the conditions are bad. The conditions of living are almost intolerable and the hours are outrageous. Before the War there were scarcely any hotels of repute which did not employ foreigners almost entirely. They cannot do it now because of the immigration laws and the regulations of the Ministry of Labour. But even to-day hotels employ foreigners whenever they can, rather than Britishers. What is the reason? The reason alleged before the War was that there was no trained English personnel. Such a reason cannot be alleged to-day, because there is a superfluity now of English waiters who have been trained in that very excellent school run by the London County Council. But foreigners are still employed. Why? For one reason only. It is that the average Britisher will not tolerate for a minute the outrageous and monstrous conditions of service imposed by hotels as a general rule.

If hotels want to improve their status, their management and so on, let them make a beginning there. When the Committee on wage-earning children was sitting it took evidence in this particular respect and it was proved that boys and girls of from 14 to 16 were working 80, 90, 100 and 120 hours a week, or 15, 16 and 17 hours a day for seven days a week. In particular eases kitchen boys, lift boys and page bays never went outside the hotel into the fresh air from the beginning of the week to the end. The maximum amount of relaxation allowed was half a day once a week. Those are the conditions which mark what the British hotel industry is. They are indicative of the lines upon which reorganisation and improvement ought to be undertaken. Instead of that, all that this Bill suggests is that extra drinking facilities shall be permitted.

I must say a few words about the question of licensing restaurants. I foresee the beginning of a very great social danger. During the last 20 or 30 years, and particularly in the last 12 years since the War, there has been a considerable increase in the number of cafés and cafeterias in this country, comfortable places which have been established with pleasant surroundings, where refreshments at popular prices, tea and coffee and non-intoxicating drinks and food, can be obtained without the temptations of a public house. Messrs. Lyons, of course, have been pioneers in this respect, and have done extraordinarily valuable work which I regard as a very great public service, in establishing cheap restaurants all over the Metropolis and elsewhere. The A.B.C. Company, the Express Dairy Company, and a number of other bodies have also been engaged in the same work. In the judgment of the Royal Commission and of a great many social students it is the establishment and the multiplication of these cafés that have done a very great deal towards a reduction in the drinking habits of the general population.

What is happening at the present time? There are several people and several companies—the most notable one is Mr. Hollingbery, who is quite well known to the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir Isidore Salmon) who has started to establish a chain of licensed cafeterias all round the outer London suburbs. He was originally a licensee of a public house or of a number of public houses, and he found that his trade was declining so far as the ordinary public house business was concerned. Now he has designed a new type of house altogether, and he contemplates establishing it on a, very large scale. Instead of a public house he wants a restaurant, a cafeteria he calls it, which is to be licensed and is to cater for that type of person belonging to the present generation who has grown up without being accustomed to visiting public houses—people who do not want to go and sit in a public house.

This new institution is to link up the drink habit with the natural desire of young people for amusement and recreation and social intercourse. It is designed deliberately to cater for the particular class of young folks who do not drink at the present time, who have no desire to drink, and for whom the ordinary public house has no appeal. Those young people are to be suddenly subjected to a new temptation. The venture is deliberately to capture young people who object to the public house and do not want, to drink, and to put drink in front of them, in fact, to thrust drink in front of them. That is the intention. It is all, of course, in accordance with the recognised strategy of the drink trade. Here in the "Brewers' Journal" I read: In any proper survey of this question it must be remembered that the change in the composition of the population in any one year is very considerable, those reaching maturity approximately replacing those who died. In other words, it is not so much a question as to whether existing beer drinkers can be made to drink more beer, but as to whether their sons and daughters will take customarily and ordinarily this beverage. That is a very sinister position. This licensing of cafeterias and restaurants is all in accordance with policy. It is deliberately to thrust temptation before young people, deliberately to try to reintroduce the old bad habits and customs that we thought had gone with the War.

Photo of Mr Isidore Salmon Mr Isidore Salmon , Harrow

I would remind my hon. Friend, who has referred to me, that the gentleman whose name he mentioned I had never heard of until he mentioned it just now.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

With great respect I thought that Mr. Hollingbery, being so well known a character and having appeared recently before the London County Council of which the hon. Member is a member—

Photo of Mr Isidore Salmon Mr Isidore Salmon , Harrow

I have not been a member for four years.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

Mr. Hollingbery having been prominently before the Council in connection with the establishment of these cafeterias on the new housing estates, I thought would have been familiar to the hon. Member. If I am wrong I apologise to my hon. Friend. Here is another extract from the "Brewers' Journal." To look only to the pre-War number of customers is not enough. The mere retention of these under the lessened purchasing power of today will not even maintain output. The one thing necessary is to devise a scheme of collective advertising which will attract and maintain a constant supply of new drinkers of beer. The idea of the licensed café is to carry out that project. The idea is to get new drinkers, to attract the people who do not drink to-day, by means of social amenities, music and so on, in the hope of securing a new clientèle of drinkers. That is the great objection to the licensing of restaurants in the way proposed in this Bill. It introduces a grave social danger. I have spoken so long that, although I have a great many more notes, I do not propose to occupy the time of the House further. I simply want to say, quite bluntly, that in my opinion the Bill is the outcome of a conspiracy to increase the sale and consumption of liquor. Many hon. Members have been misled into the belief that the Bill is going to do a great deal for the hotel industry by freeing it from all kinds of anachronistic restrictions. I do not believe the Bill is going to give any advantage whatever to the hotel industry as such. It will not improve the hotel service nor will it provide any additional attraction for any decent type of visitor to this country. The Bill aims—consciously or unconsciously on the part of its promoters—at perpetuating and increasing the habit of drinking which to the great rejoicing of many people in this country has been diminishing for a good many years past.

1.6 p.m.

Photo of Sir Gerald Hurst Sir Gerald Hurst , Manchester Moss Side

I beg to second the Amendment.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Blackley division of Manchester (Mr. Lees-Jones) and I put our names to an Amendment for the rejection of his Bill in order to secure an opportunity of raising certain points, which I hope the House will regard as important, and which arise out of the actual provisions of the Bill. It is to those points and those points only that I hope to devote most of my speech. We find ourselves quite by accident in association with the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) but we do not agree with all the views, or I may say any of the views, which he has expressed. I am myself a very temperate person and I do not feel moved to describe this Measure, so admirably introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. B. Smith), as a conspiracy, as a sordid Bill as bringing about a grave social clanger or as anything sinister of that kind. But there is also exaggeration and a great deal of exaggeration on the other side. It is almost comic to read in the Memorandum in support of this Bill in block letters the words "International Aspect" and "Invisible Exports". It is impossible to believe that to extend the hours of drinking by an hour, to enable one to "treat" a friend during an additional hour in the hotel in which one is staying, has any "international aspect" or is going to have any material influence on the balance of exports and imports or the state of the pound. We know that whether the Bill is passed or not, is not going to affect the immigration of visitors from the Continent. If those visitors do not come to England in the same proportion as English people visit France and Switzerland it is because they over-estimate the horrors of the crossing and under-estimate the charms of the English climate; it is because they overestimate the difficulties of the language and under-estimate the excellence of English cooking. Above all, they probably regard our hotels as too expensive.

Sonic of the expressions used in regard to this Bill have been fantastic in their exaggeration. My hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich said it would be a means by which we could reduce unemployment. He said if we passed the Bill it would cause an extra demand for linen and cutlery and so forth in the hotels. He did not say glass and liquor, though I should have thought those were both: commodities which would be more readily affected by it. To say that the Bill can be a cure or even a palliative for unemployment is an exaggeration. The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) went still further. He said that the Bill would lead to a demand for more food. As the hon. Member for West Bermondsey remarked, one would have thought from reading the Bill that it is more likely to lead to a demand for more drink and to describe it as causing a demand for more food—unless in the very abstract sense of beer being a form of food—seems a complete misrepresentation of the object of the Bill. When the hon. Member said that if the Bill were passed it would go to cure a serious defect in the social structure of this country he was certainly putting his case a little high.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and I have put down this Amendment for two reasons. First, I wish to put before the promoters of the Bill certain serious criticisms and hear their answers to those criticisms. Secondly, I wish to express a fear, which I think is justifiable, that this Bill may be the only outcome of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That is the view which I think was behind the speech of the hon. Member for Dulwich. He said that the Commission's report, which is dated as far back as December, 1931, is most unlikely to be adopted or acted upon by the Government. That is probably true, but, he said: "Here you have an isolated part which could be made the subject matter of piecemeal legislation." If that be true, as it may well be, it is rather a misfortune, because the Bill singles out a very trumpery part of the recommendations and misses some of the really big things which one would like to see adopted.

We ought to deal with this Bill, having regard to the background of English life against which the hotels stand out. There has been a tremendous change in the habits, and fashions, and ways of living of many English people. Owing to the competition of games, the cinema and other amusements; owing partly to the diminution of national income, and, owing still more to the vast unjustifiable taxation of beer, there has been a tremendous diminution in the consumption of alcoholic liquors. The result is that the great bulk of those premises which enjoy full "on licences", namely public-houses, are being starved to death. They and their customers are suffering from what they regard as an intolerable grievance, and I think the intolerable grievance which they feel has a lamentable effect on public opinion and may bring about the rise and fall of governments. Against that background it is rather a misfortune that the Bill should single out a very minute area, only three per cent. of the premises which hold full "on-licences" for the purpose of giving them relief, especially as this three per cent. has probably less cause for relief than the 97 per cent. for whom it is proposed to do nothing.

Under the Finance Act, 1910, those hotels the profits of which were derived to the extent of two-thirds or over, from the sale of commodities which are not excisable, pay a greatly reduced licence duty to the State. Further, they feel less hardship at the present time because the great weight of taxation on alcoholic liquor is the taxation of beer which they feel to a trifling extent, as compared with the rest of the premises which hold full "on-licences." Therefore, their need is least, and it is a very small area of the great branch of English life that is affected by the existing diminution in the consumption of alcohol and the existing taxation and duties payable in respect of that consumption. You have to draw the line somewhere, but the line of demarcation, as the last speaker pointed out, is a very vague one between houses which derive, say, 51 per cent. of their takings from the sale of alcoholic beverages and those which derive 49 per cent. from such sale. There is a very large number of public-houses on the verge of being hotels within the meaning of the Bill. For instance, a house with one or two bedrooms, where you have perhaps some dinners to freemasons or to farmers, is on the verge of being a hotel within the meaning of the Bill, yet the Bill would give it a status definitely inferior to that of the so-called hotel and would deprive it of advantages which it needs every bit as much.

Then you have houses like those owned by the Restaurant Public Houses Association, which has six houses in London slum areas, with a specially trained staff. One of their hotels in a slum area serves 600 luncheons a week. Houses of that type are as meritorious, even from the point of view of temperance advocates, as are public-houses on the other side of the line, and it is very difficult, on lines of justice and fair play, to give these benefits, which, according to the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading, are very substantial, to one class of licensed house, differing in a minute degree, and owing to the merest fraction of its takings, from a house on the other side of the line. If these extensions are desirable—and some of them are certainly supported by the recommendations of the Royal Commission—it seems hard that they should be given to one class of licensed house and denied to another; and I think it would be an advantage if the promoters of the Bill could see their way to inserting some wider and more generous definition at any hate of the word "hotel". If you are giving a relief, and it is likely to be the only relief given, it is a relief which should be shared by a wider area of houses which have suffered from this grievance.

Another criticism that I should like to make is this, that although I make no serious charge against the promoters of the Bill, I think the hon. Member who spoke last did prove his point when he controverted the statement in the Memorandum to the Bill that: This Bill gives effect to these recommendations (of the Royal Commission), without any additions. 11 does not follow that the additions are necessarily bad or that it is the fault of my hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading, but it is rather misleading to suggest that the Bill simply incorporates recommendations of the Royal Commission. Curiously enough, the last speaker missed out what I think is the most important respect in which the Commission's recommendations are set aside. The Bill, if I read it rightly—and I think I do—deprives the licensing justices of any discretion with regard to the granting of hotel and restaurant licences. The words used in Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 are to the effect that licensing justices: shall grant to the applicant an hotel licence. That word "shall" appears again with regard to restaurants in Sub-section (3) of that Clause, and it is to be remembered that that non-discretionary duty of the justices applies also to the bars attached to hotels and is to be found in Sub-section (7) of the same Clause. The Bill deprives licensing justices of discretion and imposes an absolute duty on them, and that is not only an addition to the Commission's recommendations, but is contrary to them, because in paragraph 275 of their Report, on page 61, they state: Grant and Renewal of Licences. —We do not feel able to accept the suggestions made to us that the powers of discretion of the licensing justices should be further modified in respect of hotels and restaurants. It may be a right or a wrong conclusion, but that at any rate was the conclusion, and it is, I think, not quite candid to suggest in the Memorandum that the Bill does not depart from the Commission's recommendations in that very important respect. It seems to me that hardship does result from a piecemeal adoption of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. May I modify what I said just now about not agreeing with the observations of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill With some of them I do agree. I agree, for instance, with his argument, which I suggest is very sound, that when you are dealing with a report on a big subject, by a big commission, after a long period, the report ought to be read as a whole, and it is not fair to the Royal Commission to isolate a very minor point in its report from the context in which that minor point is embedded.

There are very important recommendations in paragraph 572 with regard to extending the system of rebates. This is dealing with what is really the line of demarcation between hotels and public-houses under this Bill, and the paragraph reads: There is a very large number of licensed premises in which non-liquor business is carried on on a respectable scale and yet the receipts from intoxicants may exceed 75 per cent, of the whole; and that would remain the case even with a considerable further development of the sale of food and general refreshments. In order to offer an attraction to the ordinary licensed house it is necessary, we think, to fix the datum line much higher than 75 per cent., and even as high as 90 per cent. We think, too, that it would be desirable to introduce a series of short steps in the scale, so as to provide a stimulus to a licence holder who has earned a measure of relief to qualify for further relief by entering the next class. That is an important recommendation, and it helps the levelling-up of what this Bill stigmatises as a public-house to the higher level of a hotel. I do not think it is fair to isolate the one provision from the other. I do not think there is anything very sinister or sordid in the actual provisions of this Bill. They seem to me to be of a very minor character, and many of them are in fact enjoyed already under local licences.

My main points then are these: In the first place, I hope the promoters will consider the wisdom, in Committee, of making the definition of a hotel much more elastic, so as to give fairer treatment to public-houses, so called, just on the other side of the borderline. The other point is that I hope that my right hon. Friend who represents the Home Office will hold out some hope to the country that the Government will consider and legislate on the lines of the Report of the Royal Commission and have regard to all its recommendations. If this Bill is all we are to hear about the removal of grievances and the reform of the licensing laws during the life of the National Government, it will give good ground for disappointment, because it is a very small Bill. Both as to its virtues on one side and its weaknesses on the other, it is a poor result of the tremendous labours of the Royal Commission and is a very small reflection of the great hardships and grievances which are felt by a far larger class than the class of hotel proprietors at the present time. One of the reasons why we put our names to this Amendment is that we hope to secure from the Government some indication that, should the Bill be passed into law, it will not be regarded as the last word in licensing reform during the history of the present Government.

1.27 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Gretton Mr John Gretton , Burton

My remarks will be in some contrast to the speeches that have been made to-day, for they will not be long. The proper way in which to approach this subject is to consider whether it is in the public interest. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken that this is a small Bill, but because it is a small Measure that is no reason for setting it aside. The point has been made that it is piecemeal legislation. The whole subject of licensing laws dealing with various rules and regulations is a vast one, and it will take a great deal of consideration and much time of the House to deal ade- quately and justly with the many anomalies and injustices which have grown up and require amendment. My hon. Friends who have promoted the Bill do not exaggerate the importance of it. Though it is a little Bill, it is none the worse if it is in the public interest and does no marked injury. It will remove from the Statute Book most irksome and difficult restrictions with regard to structural alterations of hotels and restaurants. The intention of the promoters in respect of the annual revision of licences is not clear, but it is probably intended that hotels and restaurants shall come under the ordinary annual revision as to the conditions under which they shall be carried on if their licences are renewed for another year.

The Bill as it stands is in a sense class legislation, and it views too narrowly, as indeed did the Royal Commission, the definition of "hotel". There are many old-fashioned country inns, not merely in the small towns, but along the waysides and in the villages, which provide accommodation for guests and are not licensed houses in the strict sense of the term, but that part of the business is not a large one, though it is perfectly bonâ fide. These houses should be considered and have the same facilities as those which are intended for the more prosperous class of customer. It is remarkable that the promoters of the Bill have not noticed paragraphs in the Royal Commission's Report 571 to 573, where they recommend a graduated scale of license duties as the takings of licensed houses for commodities other than excisable liquors increase. If the takings are 90 per cent., for instance, the license duties would be reduced 10 per cent.; if they are 80 per cent., by 20 per cent.; and then reductions of 10 per cent. until the status of the Bill is reached. I call that a very narrow and meagre definition. May I make this remark on the Report of the Royal Commission? The Commission was a very mixed body. In many respects its recommendations were narrow and tend to the ancient bigotry of long-past controversies. I am interested to observe that the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) for the purpose of to-day's Debate based himself rigidly upon every point in the Report of the Royal Commission. I invite hon. Members and others outside to examine the Report of the Royal Commission in the light of his advocacy to-day.

I do not oppose the Bill, though I see very clearly the disadvantages of partial legislation of this kind, especially on the somewhat narrow lines set down in the Clauses of the Bill. I hope that the promoters will see their way to meet the views of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) in extending their definition of hotels and restaurants so as to include accommodation for the poor man and give him facilities equal to that of more prosperous citizens. There is a technical point on the question of tying. On that point, the Royal Commission took a severe and narrow view. The promoters of the Bill have not adopted the recommendations of the Royal Commission that there shall be no tying. They confine their recommendation to forbidding a brewer's tie. Why is tying anathema in this connection? Members of the brewing trade resent this matter strongly. Have we conducted our ties so badly that we should be condemned in this Bill or any other? In this respect, it must be urged that if the Bill reaches the Committee stage it will require amendment and reconsideration. There are strange anomalies left as to hours and restrictions, and the difficulties which face the ordinary peaceful citizen who uses licensed premises. Nothing is done to deal with 95 per cent. or more of those who are harassed by those restrictions. But however that may be, I do not think that is a reason why we should stand in the way of making some reasonable changes and some reasonable amendments in the law. With some extensions and some amendments it will be a Bill which, I think, may reasonably be passed to the Statute Book, and I shall not, therefore, oppose the Second Reading.

1.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Lees-Jones Mr John Lees-Jones , Manchester, Blackley

I do not want to speak on this Bill in a spirit of antagonism at all, but, as in the case of my hon. and learned Friend representing the Moss Side Division of Manchester (Sir G. Hurst) only to put forward some criticisms. Certain parts of the Bill, in spite of what the promoters say, are to some extent antagonistic to the interests of the general body of licensees. As has already been indicated, the figure taken as the datum line for these licensed premises, or, to use the ordinary phrase, "pubs," is somewhat arbitrary. There are many public houses which in winter time, for example, depend in the main upon their sales of intoxicating liquors. In the summer months they are fortunate in having as customers motorists, hikers, ramblers and other people who want food, and they may put up visitors, and during those months they do a fair proportion of catering; but during the other part of the year they do not have a chance with the catering side of their business and they may not be able to reach the required percentage. The result is that they are put under disabilities which hotels and restaurants, as defined in this Bill, do not suffer.

A rather big song has been made about the extension of hours and about the Bill enabling people to get a drink with meals up to 3 o'clock in the afternoon and until midnight and half an hour afterwards. I do not know whether hon. Members know it or not, but I beg to inform them that at present licensees, if they care to make application to the licensing justices, can get extensions for the consumption of intoxicating liquors of an hour, or an hour and a half, or longer still, after the ordinary closing hours. There are many people in different spheres of life who want dinners or want parties at night who cannot afford to go to the Ritz or the Dorchester and places of that kind and who have to resort to what I may term again "a local pub." If those people, working people or middle class people, who cannot afford the larger hotels, want to dance and to enjoy themselves as people do who go to the bigger hotels why should not they have the opportunity, why keep them out of those privileges because they have to go to a "pub" instead of to a hotel? The question of meals is, of course, in the main all eyewash," because sandwiches very often constitute meals.

As to the question of the justices' powers, the Royal Commission, upon whose Report this Bill is based we have been told, stated that they could not see any reason for taking licensed premises out of the control of the licensing justices. The promoters of the Bill state that in certain circumstances the justices' powers will be curtailed, for example so far as structural alterations are concerned, but there is one serious defect in the Bill which affects more than the mere question of alterations. A hotel or restaurant proprietor will make application to the licensing justices for a special licence, and as soon as their permission is in his hands he can go to Commissioners of Customs and Excise and demand the special licence. As far as I can see, no power is given to the licensing justices to withdraw the licence if the hotel does not do the required amount of catering. There is no control by the justices over the future conduct of the house. As things are now, a licensee is bound to go before the justices every year for a renewal of his licence; whether it be a beer licence or a full licence there has to be an annual application; and why should there not be an annual application in the case of a hotel and restaurant licence? What means have the justices got of finding out whether the hotels are keeping to the strict letter of their bargain? As far as I can see, they have no opportunities under the Bill, and nobody else has any power to require from the proprietors of hotels information as to the respective proportions of their takings. Prices may go up, whether for intoxicants or for food, but the justices will not know anything about that. I think provision ought to be made to keep a good number of powers under the control of the licensing justices.

I wish to offer a remark, too, on the section of the Bill referred to by the right hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) dealing with tying agreements. Apparently anybody who is not a brewer-owner of premises is permitted to tie the lessee of the hotel or restaurant far any mortal thing, even for beer. Why the brewer-owner should be debarred from doing so I do not know. But I can show that even under the Bill there is nothing to prevent a brewer-owner from tying a tenant. Hon. Members will notice that the tie applies to all beers. Therefore, it will only be necessary for a brewer to say to a tenant "You shall be tied to us for our mild beer and our bitter beer, but not tied for strong ale." I merely mention that to show that in some small ways this Bill has been imperfectly thought out. I resent the allusion made to brewer-owners in this Clause.

I am not speaking on this Bill in any spirit of antagonism. I appreciate as much as anybody that it is time that restrictions were taken off the entertainment of one's guests on licensed premises, but the Bill might have been merged in a larger one. I agree that it is something to get a little advance, whether from this Government or from any other, so far as the licensed trade is concerned. If the Government do take up the Bill, I hope that they will insert in it various further provisions which will make the position far clearer, in order to assist not only the licensees but also to get a little closer to the Royal Commission's Report and to widen the scope of the industry.

1.47 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Reginald Applin Lieut-Colonel Reginald Applin , Enfield

I was very glad to hear what the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Lees-Jones) said at the end of his speech. Nothing is worse than an objection, coming from one portion of the licensed trade, to a little advance in liberty for any other portion. It is a foolish thing not to support an attempt to bring greater freedom to the licensed victuallers of this country, who are hampered and attacked in a way which, we know, drives large numbers of our guests quickly to the Continent, where there are no restrictions, or laws in regard to hours, or other things to prevent them from getting what they want. When I was a young man it used to be the custom to go to one of the restaurants in London after the theatre in order to have a theatre-supper. The entertainment at the theatre was always rather a preliminary to a delightful evening at supper. To-day if you want supper, and if you come out of a theatre at eleven o'clock, you have to be very careful of the restaurant which you select or you will find yourself unable to obtain any alcoholic drink. Before you have been there very long the waiter will come up and say, "I am sorry, but will you kindly finish your drink, sir, because time is up, and we must remove your glass." That is what happened here to a very distinguished noble Lady, whose husband is, I believe, very much opposed to drink of any kind except water. Glasses and bottles were removed from the table, and the company were left without anything to drink but with plenty of food to eat.

The only objection I have to the Bill is the use of the word "intoxicant" in it and in the Memorandum. It is very wrong to use a word which does not in any way convey the meaning you desire. Some little time ago I was unwell, and I had to send for my doctor. He told me that I was suffering from auto-intoxication. For one moment I was rather staggered, as I thought that had something to do with drink; in my mind "intoxication" and drink were connected. I found that the term had nothing to do with drink but simply meant "poisoning." Intoxication means the taking-in of poison. If you label alcoholic beverages as intoxicating you ought to label a very large number of foodstuffs as intoxicating as well, because more people dig their graves with their teeth than in any other way. I do not see why you should label alcoholic drinks as intoxicants; it is an entire misnomer. The hon. Gentleman who referred to me in his speech is guided very much by that word "intoxication" in his abhorrence to any sort of liquid that contains a percentage of alcohol. Alcohol, as we all know, is a food, and very often it is very much better and more wholesome than many of the foods that are largely consumed. I believe that this nation is suffering very greatly from the vast quantities of sweets consumed by young women. Fortunately, young women have a passion for slimming, and cannot eat enough sweets to intoxicate them.

I want to point out some of the anomalies that exist at the present time and are driving people out of this country to the Continent. I admit that I have been attracted from this country by the amenities of the hotels on the Continent. When there is a choice of going with one's family to one of our charming watering places or across to Brittany, and when one remembers the cheapness of the wine and that there are no hours or restrictions, it is obvious that one is inclined, other things being equal, to say, "Let's go abroad, where wine is cheap, and there are no hours and no bother about when you are coming for your meals." May I give the House two or three instances that have happened to me? I was driving with my wife some time ago to Newlyn. We did not start until after the luncheon hour, and we could not get our lunch. I said, "Never mind, we will stop on the way." We had a good many traffic blocks getting out of the city, and we did not get anywhere near a decent hotel till just before three o'clock. We stopped at an hotel at Maidenhead and we ordered lunch. When hutch had been served, I said to the waiter, "Please bring me some stout." He said, "I am sorry, sir, but I cannot bring you any stout." I asked "Why not?" He answered: "It is after three o'clock." There we were, unable to get a glass of stout, and at the very hour all over the hoardings we could see posters saying "Guinness is good for you" and other advertisements. We have an advertisement for poison stuck up on the walls, and at the hour when you are reading it you are not allowed to take it. We 'are an illogical people.

I was fishing on the River Dee one day, and I had forgotten to bring my sandwiches. My friend who was sitting with me stopped at about two o'clock and said to me: "Are you going to have your lunch?" I said, "No, I have forgotten to bring my sandwiches; but I know a nice little inn, and I am going there to get some bread and cheese and beer." When I got to the inn I took out my watch, and saw that it was twenty-five minutes past two. As I got to the door, a man shouted. He opened the door, and I said, "I want some bread and cheese and some beer." The man answered: "You cannot have it. It is too late." I pulled out my watch, and I said, "I have Westminster time here, and it is only twenty-five minutes past two." The man said, "Our time is half-past two. It is closing time, and you cannot have it." There was I, far away from home, for four hours on the River Dee, and I could not get a drink.

This House makes regulations to prevent a man serving me when I want to eat and drink. That sort of thing is intolerable and ridiculous. An hon. Member twitted me in his speech. But what I said was perfectly true. The licensing trade is all one. There are not two or three or four licensing trades, and it does not matter in the least degree what is the nature of the public-house; it may be a beer-house or a Bodega; may be a tavern or a taproom. Those concerned are all licensed victuallers, and licensed victuallers in one branch of the trade should not debar other licensed victuallers from getting facilities which will be made general when we get more sensible and a little more British freedom, and allow public-houses to remain open.

If alcohol is an intoxicant we had very much rather make up our minds to introduce complete prohibition than to regulate hours in the way that we do, whereby in one place the hour is half-past two and in another three o'clock, in one place ten o'clock and in another place half-past ten, while in a third place it is eleven o'clock. That is perfectly ridiculous. It is ridiculous to say that people may drink at one hour and not at another; it is an interference with the liberty of the subject. As regards hotels and restaurants, it is obvious that people go there mainly for the purpose of taking meals, to which they may desire to add a glass of beer or a bottle of wine, and to restrict the hours during which they may do this is absolutely ludicrous.

I feel certain that, if the House will give this Bill a Second Reading, it will be doing something which will not only vastly help our hotels and restaurants and watering places, but will be of enormous assistance to the British public, because it will attract visitors here. The American visitor always desires to come to England, and to stay here, because he looks upon this country as his ancestral home. I would remind the House, also, that at this moment our roads are once more highways. Twenty, 30 or 40 years ago, our roads were not highways; they were practically derelict, with only a few carts and carriages passing along them. Everybody who was taking a journey of any length went by train. Now we have gone back to the old coaching days, but at a greatly increased speed, and with greatly increased facilities for passing from town into the country. The result is that little wayside public houses, which were practically closed down except for the local man who went in for his glass of beer, have now become hotels, and new hotels are springing up all over the country. All of this has been brought about by the motor, and yet we continue to impose regulations which, if a motorist happens to miss the luncheon hour, will deprave him of the opportunity of taking a little beer with his meal.

I may tell the hon. Member for West Bermondsey that beer is not such an evil as he thinks. Some little time ago, when I was suffering rather severely from internal trouble, I called in my doctor, and he said to me, "What do you drink?" I said that I took a little wine and a little whisky. He said that he wanted me to drink beer, but I replied, "I could not possibly drink beer. I have lived all my life in the East, and beer is an absolute poison to me. One glass of beer would at once put my liver entirely out of order." He said, "You called me in; are you going to take my advice or not? You ought to drink a couple of glasses of beer with your lunch, and the same with your dinner." I have done that for some 18 months now, and have never been so well in my life. I have practically abandoned whisky; I never touch it; and I find that beer is not only a drink but a food. We remember that beer and beef are said to be the reasons for the greatness of this nation. The House has now an opportunity, by giving this Bill a Second Reading, to allow us not only to have our beef, but to have our beer at the same time, without being restricted by ridiculous regulations as to hours.

One of the greatest prejudices against extending licences, whether in the case of hotels, restaurants or public houses, is the fact that all alcohol is looked upon as a means of getting drunk. I am prepared to admit that years ago our nation was one of the most drunken nations in the world; but, within the last 15 years or so, this nation has become one of the most sober nations, if not the most sober, in the world. When I was a young man, drunkenness used to be a cause of amusement. When we saw a drunken man, we would laugh. I very rarely see a drunken man now. I saw one some months ago, and, for one person who laughed, a dozen showed horror and contempt. It is that public opinion which has made us a sober nation. It is not the thing to-day to drink to excess. Everybody looks with horror and contempt on a drunken man, and the fact that we are the most sober nation in the world is all the more reason for taking off restrictions which may have been, and I daresay were, necessary when everybody drank for the purpose of getting drunk. Nowadays people drink for two purposes only—first, because they are thirsty, and, secondly, to enable them, in order to digest their food, to follow the advice of St. Paul: Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake. As was said by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) the Bill is a very small Bill, and, if I ask the House to allow it to go through, I am not doing so in the interests of the trade, because I may say that I have no connection directly or indirectly, financially or in any way at all, with either the restaurant or the drink trade; I am entirely outside the whole thing. I am merely stating my belief that the passing of this Bill would be for the benefit of the nation, because it would prevent people from going abroad, by enabling the hotels which are now being built, and those already in existence in this country, to supply the wine, beer and other amenities which the foreigner can supply now night and day without any licence. I believe that that would not only keep people in this country, but that it would bring over here the foreigner from the Continent, if he finds here the same amenities and facilities that he has in his own country, while it will also retain the American in this country when he comes back again. Americans used to come over here and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in this country, but now they have taken them all away to France because of these restrictions that we have here.

In America, under Prohibition, it was far easier to get a drink at any hour of the day or night than it is in this country. I remember that when I was in America, and was travelling down from New York to Washington, there was a Judge in the train who had a saloon drawing-room car. I was in uniform as a British officer, and he asked me to lunch with him. I went down to his car, lunch was brought, and he asked me what I would have to drink. I said I would like some whisky and soda. He rang the bell, a negro came in, and the Judge said to him, "George, bring two highballs." That is American for whisky and soda. "Can't do it, Judge," said the negro. The Judge asked, why not. "Train's in a dry State now." That was before general prohibition. The Judge said, "George, I ordered those highballs back in Philadelphia; what do you mean?" The negro said, "Why, so you did Judge," and off he went to get them.

Another case was that of an Englishman who wanted to get a drink in a small town in America. He went up to a policeman and said, "Officer, can you tell me where I can get a drink in this city?" The policeman replied, "Do you see that building there?" The Englishman said, "Yes, that looks like a church." "It is a church," was the reply, "and it is the only place where you can't get a drink." Although we cannot hope to reach the pitch of America, when a church is the only place where you cannot get a drink, I hope that it will be possible, at every hotel and restaurant throughout this country, when you get a meal, also to get a drink with it.

2.3 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Potter Mr John Potter , Eccles

I desire to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. B. Smith) on having introduced a Bill which undoubtedly gives greater facilities than we enjoy at the present time. In these days we ought to be thankful for small mercies. There are, however, one or two matters in connection with the Bill to which I should like to draw attention, and on which I should like to make certain observations. I rather think that the Bill, if accepted, would create a great deal of confusion in the trade. I am speaking particularly with regard to hotels and restaurants in seaside and pleasure resorts. In my view, many hotels in this country would be very seriously affected by the percentage stated in the Bill, namely, 50 per cent. of the gross takings. If a hotel happened to exceed that percentage of 50 by one or even a half per cent., I take it that it would fall in status, and that in my view would have a very serious effect upon many hotels. I think the Bill makes too much differentiation between hotels and restaurants and what I may call the ordinary public-house. There is not the slightest doubt that in the past few years times have changed altogether, and there are many ordinary public-houses which are meeting a great need at present by providing refreshment of all kinds. If those public-houses do not comply with the provisions of the Bill, a serious injury will be done to them.

We are suffering and shall suffer more than ever from restriction if the Bill is passed in its present form. I should like to see all restrictions wiped out altogether. I should like to see D.O.R.A. buried. There would not be many mourners at her funeral and burial service, and people would be glad to see the last of her. I have had some experience in receiving and entertaining all kinds of people from abroad, and I have been astounded when they have pointed out to me the ridiculous restrictions from which we suffer. For the life of me, I cannot see why we cannot treat men and women as real, sensible beings. I am more convinced than ever from my own experience that, the more facilities you grant to our fellow countrymen and women, the less they will abuse the freedom that you give them. In my experience as a newcomer to the House of Commons, we are provided with the greatest facilities for taking refreshment—sandwiches, dinners, luncheons—and I have not seen the slightest abuse of any of the liberties that we enjoy, I am sure that what obtains in the House will also obtain in the country. While, of course, I am delighted at the further facilities that will be granted by the Bill, I hope the promoters, when it comes up for consideration in Committee, will have regard to the points that I have raised.

2.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Isidore Salmon Mr Isidore Salmon , Harrow

I was rather surprised to hear the observations that fell from the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter). I can only hope that his knowledge of medicine is more accurate than his knowledge of the catering industry. He said that the Bill is wholly and solely promoted with the idea of encouraging drink. As a matter of fact, its whole object is to give facilities for drink with food, and not drink by itself. Drink is merely ancillary, and the primary thing is the question of food. I have found from past experience that the greater the facilities that you give people, without any irksome conditions, for obtaining drink the less they require it. Having had some experience of serving many millions of people per week under conditions where alcoholic and other liquor is obtainable, I can say that the total percentage of alcohol turnover is not more than 6.3.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

Will the hon. Gentleman elucidate that point a little more? Does he mean that in restaurants which are licensed the total takings in respect of drink represent 6.3 of the whole, or is he referring to all restaurants over which he has control?

Photo of Mr Isidore Salmon Mr Isidore Salmon , Harrow

The test can be applied to any single place or to the whole. The proportion of money spent on alcohol to the total takings of the establishment is 6.3 per cent.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

But does that include all the establishments that are not licensed as well as those which are licensed, or do the figures refer exclusively and solely to those that are licensed?

Photo of Mr Isidore Salmon Mr Isidore Salmon , Harrow

Of course, they refer to licensed premises only. I only mention that in passing because there seems to be some misconception as to the amount of drinking that takes place in restaurants. The hon. Member passed very severe comments upon the conditions of employment in the industry as a whole. He seems to have a very short memory. Only a little time ago a Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Sir Arthur Cole fax. The Committee was set up on that occasion by the Ministry of Labour, and there statements were made as regards the conditions of the refreshment business, but the report of that committee was such that the Ministry of Labour did not feel called upon to take the action which a small number of Members rather desired should be taken. Wild statements have been made, such as that about the number of lads who have been trained at the London County Council school both as cooks and as waiters, and that the hotels and restaurants of this country throw them out and take in their place foreigners, so that there is a vast number of unemployed. That, I say, is not a fact, and I can say it with great authority, because I happen to be the one responsible for running that school. It is unfortunate that when one is proposing a simple proposition of giving facilities to the public, of trying to improve the hotels and restaurants in this country, certain Members of the House who have a strong bias against drink can only see the horrors of drink, and are not prepared to view anything appertaining to the licensing trade in what I may call a reasonable frame of mind. They at once make statements which will not stand investigation, because they are not justified.

This Bill asks that those who make application for a licence for a hotel or restaurant should not be put in the ordinary category of having to go through all the irksomeness which attaches to making an application for a, public house licence. I think the public house serves a very useful purpose indeed, and I have not a, word to say against the trade, but I do say to those who represent the trade, and who are speaking on behalf of the trade, that this Bill does not prejudice them one iota. It is a Measure entirely by itself. It is suggested for the future that if the premises are structurally suitable a licence should be given for a hotel or restaurant. When we talk about the site being structurally suitable, I do not know if the House realises that it is quite easy for the justices to see from the plan for a hotel or restaurant the enormous amount of amenities and service which have to be provided in preparing and serving the food which the public will demand. Therefore, it is quite clear they can see what is a bona fide application, and it is, of course, only on such an application that it is proposed that a hotel and restaurant licence should be given separate from the ordinary licence known in the past.

I have heard observations to-day as to the difficulty of checking the figures. The Finance Acts of 1910 and 1920 provide that certain rebates are given to hotels and restaurants if the percentage figure of their turnover is below a certain ratio. The Inland Revenue seem to have no difficulty in dealing with that matter, and why the hon. Member for West Bermondsey should make such statements as he has made regarding that matter is beyond my comprehension. From any point of view we like to approach this Bill, it will be seen that it will not conflict with any new legislation that may be brought along as the outcome of the Royal Commission's Report on the liquor trade generally. The hotels and restaurants are specially referred to by that Commission. They say, broadly, what the Bill has said. It is true that if you were to cross the if and dot the i's, there might be a little extension. I should have liked to have seen the Bill go a little further and give a right of appeal to quarter sessions on the refusal of the first court. I think that that would be very desirable, and those who have had any experience or have studied the question of the difficulties which appertain to making an application for a licence, will realise how the industry itself feels that it is important that the hotel and restaurant should be treated in a different way in the future from that in which they have been treated in the past.

This proposition, I think, will have another effect. I believe that to-day it is essential in the national interest—because, after all, a hotel is a great asset to a country—that encouragement should be given by the State to the erection of suitable hotels, so that visitors, whom we are so anxious to get here, and who are so important a part in all other countries, should be able, when they visit this country, to go to all parts of the country and stay at hotels which, will reflect credit upon the country. The difficulty to-day is the uncertainty of getting a licence in different parts of the country, it being dependent upon the whims and fancies of the persons before whom you go. There is no means of appeal. Although an individual may spend a large sum of money in acquiring a site and having plans prepared and submitted, the licence may be refused. It is that uncertainty and insecurity which, in my judgment, pre-eludes the development to the extent that is desired in the hotel business throughout this country.

Although the hon. Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst), I am afraid, tried to kill the Bill by faint praise, I do feel, on the other hand, that there may be one or two points that could be more properly discussed in detail in Committee. But, generally, I think if the House were to send this Bill to Committee, and the Government could see their way to give it their support, they would be doing a valuable piece of legislation. Some two or three years ago I had the privilege of moving in this House a Bill whereby we gave authority to local authorities to contribute to the purpose of advertising this country abroad. You want to complete that piece of work. Having brought those visitors to this country you want to be able to house them and treat them in a way, as I have said, so that they will go back and want to come again, and will want their friends to come. I believe it would be to the interest of this country, and not necessarily of the trade alone, if encouragement were given to the industry in the way outlined in this Bill, which, I hope, will receive a Second Reading.

2.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Neville Smith-Carington Mr Neville Smith-Carington , Rutland and Stamford

It is with pleasure that I rise to say a few words in support of this Measure. It has been rather interesting that at various times during the debate people have placed very different values on the importance of the Bill. Earlier speakers seemed to exaggerate its importance, and later on we passed to a phase when others rather minimised it. I think that perhaps the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon) gave us the clearest perception of its possibilities. The Bill seeks to increase facilities to the public, and as that is done, and as the ball which has started rolling increases in size, from comparatively small beginnings, we may look forward to more considerable scope being obtained in due course. The objections to the Bill have been rather of a general kind. The objection taken at one time was that it applied only to a small portion of the trade, a matter in statistics of about three per cent. We have had experience of the difficulties of dealing with any of these licensing matters. We remember that at the tail-end of 1929 a Commission was appointed to consider the whole question. They took about two years to report, and since then another 15 months has gone by arid nothing whatever has happened until this Bill, touching, I admit, only one section of it, comes along.

The fact that this Bill, even if it only touches one comparatively small section, has come along is a good thing, because it has helped to show the public need of dealing with the question. During the course of the day, and, if the Bill gets a Second Reading, during the course of the Committee stage, other matters in which the public are vitally interested will receive further ventilation. Therefore, we should feel a sense of gratitude to those who have brought forward a Bill which commands very great public interest. There is an objection which has not been ventilated unduly this morning, but which we have had more or less through the post. I gather that there is a strong section of the community who would support a Measure of this kind but who might find themselves less willing to go to any great trouble to support a more comprehensive Measure. The trade should not unnaturally feel in those circumstances that they might lose some of that pressure which but for this Bill would be available to help their cause. In the present state of Parliamentary congestion the other matters which came before the Licensing Commission will necessarily stand in abeyance. Other sections of the industry will have to hope for the best from the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Budget Day or on some suitable occasion to see if any real help is to come to them. Even if we are to-day focussing attention upon a comparatively small section of the whole of the trade, it is one of very considerable importance. If we could do anything to encourage improvement in our hotels and restaurants we should see a vast improvement in the licensed trade sooner or later. It might not have such a large and immediate effect as some speakers have suggested, but it would undoubtedly, if the position were made attractive, draw fresh capital into the industry and would lead to a higher quality of management. In that connection, I closely associate myself with the hon. Member for Harrow who laid emphasis upon the importance of security in the matter of licensing.

There is one aspect with regard to the potential value of tourists which I have not heard put forward to-day. Hon. Members who carry in their minds the correspondence which took place between ourselves and America upon the question of the Debts will remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer set forth as a positive figure that the tourist traffic from America to Europe had been not less than £1,500,000,000 worth in the last 10 years. I do not suppose that the Average is being maintained to-day, but it shows that there is an immense potential market. If only we could get a larger share of that great traffic, it would be of very great assistance to the finances of this country. Reference has been made to the Visit England Campaign, and I am sure that it would help that campaign very much if our hotels and restaurants were known to enjoy a higher reputation than they do at the present time. There is the tourist traffic of our own people. During the last year or two when the campaign of See Your Own Country has been in progress we have found a larger proportion of our people taking their holidays at home.

In giving a general blessing to the Bill, I am conscious of a good many of the difficulties which have been mentioned, but they seem, on the whole, to be rather of Committee value. It would be very useful to have a discussion in Committee as to how far we should annul the discretion of the Licensing Bench. I wish to join with one or two of the speakers who have referred to the invidious position in which the brewer is being placed in regard to tied houses. It is a very good thing that the brewer possesses tied houses. In many parts of the country, and particularly in smaller and less populous districts, the brewer-owner is probably about the best man you can get, because he has behind him capital with which he can develop the business on right lines. Reference has been made to the question of the difficulties in individual cases that must arise as between the definite percentages of 50 per cent. in one case and 60 per cent. in the other. I imagine that the author of the Bill has that in mind and that in Committee there will be no difficulty in canvassing the opinion of the House And arranging things on the best basis. I give a general support to the Bill and hope that it will receive a Second Reading.

2.36 p.m.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

Whatever views hon. Members may take in regard to the Bill, I think we must all agree that the Debate has been very interesting. I have only one regret, and that is that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Enfield (Lieut.-Colonel Applin) did not tell us the name of his doctor who was responsible for restoring him to such a healthy condition by the careful Administration of, I think he said, two bottles of beer with every meal. I should like to extend my congratulations to the Mover of the Bill, the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. B. Smith) on his most excellent maiden speech. He spoke with great knowledge on the subject. That great knowledge is worth a great deal and was, I am sure, very much appreciated by the whole House. He gave us a very interesting definition of the right side of a street. I think he said the right side of a street is the side on which the hotels were open for half-an-hour longer than they were on the wrong side of the street. I intend to bear that definition in mind. I congratulate him on his good fortune and also upon the careful and moderate manner in which he introduced his Bill.

I feel that there has been at the back of the minds of most hon. Members this deliberate question, even though they have not asked it: "What are the Government going to do about this Bill?" I would answer that question immediately by quoting from my recollection of an episode in the House that took place about 10 years ago. At that time the Secretary of State for the Home Department was the present Viscount Bridgeman. He had come down to the House of Commons on four Fridays in succession to take part in Private Members' Bills. On the fifth Friday he rose in his place and said; "Mr. Speaker, I am now about to repeat my usual Friday afternoon speech." That repetition meant one of opposition. If it is usual for one of His Majesty's Ministers, even a junior Minister, to speak in opposition to a Private Member's Bill, or if his usual speech means one of opposition, then the speech that I am going to make this afternoon may well be described as unusual. If it is any consolation to the hon. Member for Dulwich, I am sure he will be glad to know that the Government are not going to oppose the Bill. The Government are going to leave the Bill to a free vote of the House, and, if in their wisdom, the House decide to give it a Second Reading the Government intend to do all they can in Committee to make the Bill a workable and acceptable Measure.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Moseley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Hannon) said that any patriotic Minister would welcome this Measure. Possibly, I cannot claim to be quite so patriotic as my hon. Friend, but I do not claim to be a Bolshevik, and I mean what I say when I tell the House that it is the intention of the Government to do all they can to make this Measure a workable one. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) said that he hoped this would not be the last word in licensing legislation. He wished me to pledge the Government as to the future. He must realise that I am not in a position to do that. All that I would say to the House is: "Here is an instalment". If they like the instalment, they must seize it and, as one hon. Member said, they must be thankful for small mercies. When I tell the House that the Bill will be left to a free vote, it does not mean that in the Government's opinion the Bill as at present drafted is perfect. I was glad to hear from an indication that was given, although not in a direct statement, in the speech of the mover of the Second Reading of the Bill that he is prepared to accept modifications, and it was clearly stated by the Seconder that modifications might be desirable.

Some changes are clearly necessary in the Bill. Reference has already been made by more than one speaker, especially by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) to the statement in the Memorandum on the Bill that the Bill gives effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, without any additions. I was a little surprised at the heat engendered by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey in regard to that particular aspect of the Bill. He seemed to think that many of these additions have been put in deliberately, and that the people who had been responsible for drafting the Bill had prepared it dishonestly. I do not believe that for one moment, especially when I heard the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading say that the basis of the Bill was the recommendations of the Royal Commission. He went no further than that in his speech. He certainly did not say that the -Bill would give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, without an addition. It is a fact that there are several differences between the Bill and the recommendations of the Royal Commission. I will give one or two examples.

Clause 1 (4) enables a special licence to be granted to premises which are already licensed if the sale of intoxicants is not likely to exceed certain fixed percentages. The five years average in that Sub-section is not necessary. No proof is required. I think that Sub-section will require very careful consideration for I cannot think that it is the wish of the promoters of the Bill that a person who can give no definite proof as to the amount of liquor that his customers are going to consume, as compared with the total income, is to be entitled to pay a reduced licence duty under Clause 4. I am certain that that is not the intention of the promoters of the Bill and that that Sub-section will require further consideration. In Clause 1 (7), line 23, separate bars are exempted from a very important provision of the generally accepted licensing law. That also will require careful study.

My hon. Friend did not mention Clause 4, which deals with the authority to apply for an excise licence. In point of fact, the Clause does a great deal more than that: it gives the right to obtain a reduced duty. If a licensee holds an hotel or restaurant licence then, under the provisions of this Clause, he will be entitled to a special excise licence duty from the Commissioners of Customs and Excise at a reduced rate. The existing law says that a licensee can obtain a reduced duty on the basis of the proportion of liquor receipts to the total turnover during the preceding 12 months. But if Clause 4 stands as it is now a licensee can obtain a reduced duty not only on a, five years average but because he is likely not to exceed a certain fixed percentage. That, quite clearly, will require careful consideration in Committee.

But in addition to this, I think that the Clause itself is wrong. Calculations for the purposes of duty are purely revenue matters, and it is clearly undesirable that in such matters the excise authorities should have to accept someone else's figures before they determine whether or not a licensee is entitled to a reduction in the duty. Let me give an analogy. The House will agree that it is wrong for a customs official at any Port of this country to refrain from opening the luggage of any passenger because somebody else has told him that the luggage does not contain goods which are dutiable. It is the duty of the Customs official not only to ascertain for himself whether there is anything dutiable but also to see that the money is paid if there is. The same, surely, should apply to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. If they have to extract money from any hotel, or give a preference by way of reduced duty, it is right that they should have an opportunity of investigation and of finding out for themselves, they ought not to have to accept anyone else's word as to the amount of duty which should be paid. These are the only examples I will give as to the additions in the Bill to the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

But there is one very important omission in the Bill, as compared with the Report of the Commission. It has already been referred to by several hon. Members. The Report of the Royal Commission, in effect, says that certain of the provisions attaching to a special hotel and restaurant licence might well be extended by order of the licensing justices to include smaller establishments, such as wayside inns which, although hotels and restaurants, in the strict sense of the word, cannot possibly show the low percentage which will enable them to qualify for a licence under the provisions of the Bill as at present drafted. The hon. Member for Dulwich will agree that it would be wrong to restrict this too closely to the larger establishments, and if, when the Bill gets into Committee, he decides to extend the provisions so as to bring in some of the smaller establishments, which are conducted as legitimate hotel business, I do not see why his proposal should not meet with the acceptance of the Committee as a whole. That is an omission which the Committee might care to rectify.

These and other matters can be considered in Committee, and the only reason I mention them now is that hon. Members should know how the matter stands. I do not want the promoters of the Bill to go into Committee and say that the' Government made no observations at all on the Bill on Second Reading, and that, therefore, they are in complete agreement with the Measure. It is fair they should know that while the Government are not in complete agreement with the Bill we do not propose to obstruct it, and will give every assistance in shaping the Measure when it goes upstairs to Committee. There is nothing else that I can, say. I hope that I have made the position of the Government quite clear. There will be as little interference on our part as possible at any stage, and the House is absolutely free to come to a decision on the principles contained in this interesting and, as I claim, important Measure.

2.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

The Under-Secretary of State has suggested that his speech is very unusual inasmuch as he has supported the Measure. I do not regard his speech as unusual in that respect, because it only shows that hotel and restaurant proprietors have only to suggest that they want something from the Government and they are received with open arms. A fortnight ago when we made an appeal on behalf of 2,000,000 shop assistants the Under-Secretary from that box refused to give us anything; we were turned down. The Government refused to grant facilities of any kind to that Bill, nor would they make any promise whatever to the people for whom we spoke on that occasion. I can quite understand the attitude of the Government this afternoon; they want to please their friends. Those who manufacture and sell drink are the people who support the Government on every occasion. The Tory party and the drink trade are practically one, and, consequently, there is no need to be surprised at the attitude of the Under-Secretary of State this afternoon.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

I do not think the hon. Member is putting the position quite fairly. The reasons why the Government opposed the Shop Assistants Bill was because we thought—and I think I proved it conclusively—that the Bill would not help those for whom it was introduced. I have not said that the Government is giving facilities for this Bill. What I have said is that it will be left to a free vote of the House, and if the House decides that the Bill is worthy of their support then the Government are going to do nothing to interfere with its progress, but will help to make it a workable Measure. No Government could do less than that.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

The Under-Secretary of State is performing his task very well. He is usually in a delicate position, but to-day he represents the Government and has told us that the Government will not prevent this Bill becoming law if the House desires. On our Shop Hours Bill he made it perfectly clear that the Government would prevent it becoming law.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

Because it was a bad Bill.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Every Bill in which the right hon. Member is interested is a good Bill, and every Bill in which I am interested is a bad one, I suppose. Some day we hope to be on the opposite benches, and that time is coming much more rapidly than we thought. The Government and their friends, of course, want to get this Bill through before they go out of office, because they regard it as just a first instalment. Let us see the attitude of hon. Gentlemen towards the recommendations of Royal Commissions. It is not long ago since we were criticised very much in connection with the Bill to give local authorities powers over dog-racing tracks. Those of us who were anxious to give local authorities the power to say whether or not they would have racing tracks in their areas, were criticised by hon. Members, who said, "Why not wait until the recommendations of the Royal Commission on gambling are issued? Why do you take a small part of this business and deal with it in a paltry fashion? Why not wait until the whole problem can be dealt with comprehensively in one large Measure?" To-day hon. Gentlemen are taking just a little paragraph from the report of a Royal Commission and translating it into law, and they are leaving the big comprehensive problems affected by the Royal Commission on drink entirely alone.

I do not feel quite as strongly as my hon. Friend the Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) on the question of the drink traffic, but I can assist him in one respect. The hon. Gentlemen who are behind this Bill regard it as nothing but the thin end of the wedge. They intend to get more, and the speech of the Under-Secretary has rather helped them to expect more from the Government. Many congratulations have been offered to the hon. Member who moved the Second reading of the Bill, and, if I may say so, I agree that it was very well done. I offer my congratulations also to the hon. Member for West Bermondsey, because he was like Daniel in the lion's den this morning; he had only two or three friends in the whole Assembly, and I was one of them. He was a very courageous man to stand up in the House and say what he did. I agreed almost entirely with what he said about the drink traffic. I could tell a story about it myself.

It seems to me that in a Bill of this kind we have to face, not the details of the Measure on paper so much as the main objects of the Bill. This country and the whole of Europe are facing the worst economic depression in history, yet the time of this House is taken up week in and week out in providing more facilities for spending the income of the people on sheer waste. That is my main objection to the Bill. What is the situation? On the 25th of next month we shall have a Budget of about £800,000,000. We are complaining about taxation and complaining too that we cannot find money to treat the unemployed more generously. Unless I am mistaken we are spending as much on gambling, amusements and drink as the total income of the country for budgetary purposes. I want to protest, not about the details of this Measure, not because it may be only an instalment, but because of the complaints made in this House from time to time that we cannot find money for social services, though we can provide facilities for the spending of money recklessly on this sort of thing.

Let me deal with one or two of the other problems raised by the Bill. Unless we are careful we shall, in the end, find that the only flourishing industries in this country will be Sunday cinemas, dog-racing tracks and drinking dens. That is what we are coming to, and I object very strongly. I object to the Bill too because, as has been said, there is nothing in its provisions about the conditions of employment in hotels and restaurants. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon) is not in his place. He speaks always with great authority on this subject, and we all respect his words. If all the hotels in this country were as up-to-date and were conducted with as business-like methods as those over which he has control, this Bill would not be necessary by way of an attraction to foreigners. The hotel and restaurant industry in this country will not attract a single foreigner by additions to drinking facilities. It will attract foreigners only if the hotels are as up-to-date as those in other countries.

I have had the fortune or misfortune, during the last 20 years, to live for about 80 per cent. of my time in hotels. There is one criticism about the figures that have been given as to foreigners who come to this country. Just imagine the gentlemen who provide the circular I have here, telling us that the number of foreign visitors in 1931 to France was 1,500,000, to Switzerland 1,000,000 and to Great Britain 376,000. They base their argument for this Bill on those figures in the main. If they could transfer the Alps into the heart of England, or give us the climatic conditions of Switzerland in Lancashire, the foreigners would come here instead of going to Switzerland. The greatest industry of all in Switzerland to-day is the League of Nations. That is true, although it might appear humourous. I am assured that the greatest income from any single factor in Switzerland is in connection with the League of Nations. If the League of Nations was transferred to Manchester the figures quoted today would be reversed.

Take another point. Clearly the climatic conditions of a country have very much more to do with the attraction of visitors than the facilities offered in clubs, hotels and restaurants. That goes without saying. Moreover, these figures are affected by the exchange values of money. There are thousands of people in this country who could afford to go to France before the value of the pound went clown, but they cannot afford to do so now. What is the use of arguing that these figures of foreign visitors are affected by the conditions in the hotels of this country, whether they can provide drink after 11 o'clock or not? I do not think that has any effect at all.

I object to the Bill on another score. My experience has been that, as we have brought the closing of shop doors back from ten to nine, from nine to eight, from eight to seven and now, in some cases, to six, the hours of labour of the 2,000,000 shop assistants concerned have declined pro rata and, I am as certain as that I stand here, that an increase in the hours and the drinking facilities allowed in restaurants and hotels merely means an extension of the hours of labour of the assistants in those places. My main objection is on that score—that the Bill, if it becomes law, will extend the hours of labour of those who are employed in waiting on the tables or at the bars of these places.

Publicans, brewers and hotel-keepers are very much alarmed at the decline in their business and they are under the impression that the decline is due to the fact that drinking facilities at present are not generous enough. I do not think they understand what is happening, The right hon. Gentleman opposite knows the large number of holiday and "hikers "clubs that are growing up, in Lancashire particularly, and in other parts of the country as well. The youth of this generation have practically declared a general strike against the public house. Rightly or wrongly they are trying to find better avenues to amusement and refreshment and the publicans, brewers and hotel keepers must not complain against what the youth of the country are doing in seeking better facilities for recreation than the public-house or the ordinary hotel can give. I support the point of view already expressed as to the change which has come over the people of this country in regard to drinking. When I was a youth the drunkard was regarded as a jolly boy. The drunkard to-day is regarded as a fool, and that is what he is. I was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) say that it was most embarrassing to find oneself with a friend in a hotel and to be unable to offer him refreshment. I suppose the word "refreshment" to the hon. Member means alcoholic drink. He cannot think of refreshments which are not alcoholic.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

What I meant was that if I had a friend taking supper with me in the Queen's Hotel, Birmingham, I was precluded from offering him in the course of that meal anything in the shape of alcoholic refreshment. I say that that puts me in an embarrassing position.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

That is exactly what I said. I think there is agreement as to what the hon. Member said. Let me put this to the hon. Member, who is, I believe, engaged in business in a large way. Does he think it is good for trade that three or four commercial travellers should sit up till midnight drinking alcohol in a hotel?

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

That is a most extravagant interpretation to put upon my language. When people sit down to supper in a hotel they may or may not require alcoholic beverages. If they do require such beverages, they ought to be supplied with them up to a definite hour as suggested in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I feel sure I have not done the hon. Member any injustice. We are told that if the Bill were passed this law would be carried out, but I suggest, as I have suggested here on many occasions, that to pass legislation is of no avail unless there is organisation to see that it is enforced. It does not matter what the supporters of the Bill have said to-day. There will be some people in this country who will abuse these facilities and there will not be sufficient inspectors to deal with them. Breaking the law in this connection is much easier than breaking the law in many other connections. I do not want to detain the House because I am informed there is another Bill in which hon. Members are interested. I almost regard this Bill as a "humane killer" Bill in itself, but the other Bill is the Humane Slaughter of Animals Bill.

Let me analyse the most powerful argument that has been employed to-day, the one in relation to trade. I would like to know what on earth trade has to do with this problem. I should say, from what I have seen, that the hotels of the United States of America are the best managed and the most sumptuous in the world. Will any hon. Member stand up in this House and argue that the economic depression that has afflicted the United States of America has come upon that country because there is no drink sold in its hotels? No one would argue that, because I can tell them that they could get drink in most of those hotels, Prohibition or not. If it is correct to argue that a country which has the best hotels can attract the largest amount of trade, how comes it about that trade has declined in America during the last few years and that the economic conditions of the American people, I am assured, are as bad as anywhere in the world? I do not think that that argument avails at all.

Some hon. Members have urged to-day that the licensing laws of other countries ought to apply in this country. I am not sure of my ground here, but I have been informed recently that in some Continental countries the law provides that no person shall be allowed to sell drink unless he sells food as well. In this country you can get a licence to sell drink without food, and, therefore, it is no use drawing a parallel between our licensing laws and those which obtain elsewhere. One or two hon. Members have had a tilt at the trade unions and said that we hold our conferences at seaside resorts, but is it not commonly understood by everyone who has had anything to do with national conferences that you hold them at seaside resorts, not because of licensing laws, but, generally speaking, you hold them when the holiday season is over, and because those seaside places can provide you with ample accommodation for your visitors? The Labour party held its last conference at Leicester. To be quite frank, Leicester is too small for any national conference, because it has not the accommodation. The accommodation that it has is quite good, but it has not sufficient. I ought to say that in fairness to Leicester, which is one of the best towns in the land.

I will conclude by saying that I shall vote against this Bill for these two or three final reasons: First and foremost, I object to any increased facilities for spending the money of the people on either alcohol, amusements, or gambling, when we are suffering want in so many directions. I object also to the tendency that I find in this House to help people to make a profit in those very categories of society which are already doing fairly well. As a matter of fact, I venture to say that in this trade and in the distributive trade generally more profit is made even now than in engineering, coal mines, textiles, or shipbuilding. For these reasons I shall vote against this Bill, and I trust that I shall secure a goodly number on my side. Finally, let me say that I hope the Government will take note of this argument. The ease whereby their own friends, their rich friends, can get laws passed through the House of Commons and the difficult task which we have on this side of the House in getting anything done for the working folk is becoming more apparent every day.

3.16 p.m.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

The hon. Gentleman opposed this Bill for reasons which have no foundations whatever. The first objection with which I should like to deal is the suggestion that this is piecemeal legislation. It is obvious that no private Member can bring in a Bill dealing with the Report of the Commission as a whole. No private Member can do more than deal with some very small part of it. The Commission itself suggested the separate treatment of the hotel industry. They used the word "discrimination" and made certain recommendations which this little Bill adopts in substance. It is no use attacking it on that ground when the Commission itself suggested separate treatment. Then it is objected by my hon. and learned Friend for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) that there was no discretion left in the licensing justices. Surely he forgets that under this Bill justices have to be satisfied about a whole host of things before the obligation arises of giving this special form of licence. I do not think that anybody could fairly describe it as removing the discretion which is vested in the licensing justices.

It is said that the Bill is brought in solely for the purpose of increasing drink facilities. Something was said about the courage of the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter). I agree. I think that anybody who had the temerity to get up and make the statement that the only object of the Bill was to promote drink needed a great deal of courage. Some people might call it some thing else. The Bill does not increase the facilities for drinking. Let us be accurate. It increases the facilities for drinking with food—a thing which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to approve. No man could go into a hotel or restaurant and as a result of this Bill get a drink that he could not get before. He can only get it if he goes to the expense of ordering a meal. People will not have two meals in the evening or two in the middle of the day in order to get drink. The Bill only increases facilities to enable a man to have his lunch or supper a little later if he likes and to have something to drink with those meals. It seems puerile that you can without any objection have your supper between 10 and 11 and have something to drink with it, but that you cannot have drink with your supper between 11 and 12. It is the same with lunch. If you happen to get in an hotel before two o'clock you can have a drink with your meal, but if you have breakdown and get soaked to the skin, and so want a drink more than ever, and you get in at five minutes past two, you cannot have a drink with your lunch.

Let us come to the real point of this Bill. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey put his finger upon it when he said that the real reason for the advantage which the Continent had over us was the superiority of the hotels and their equipment and trade. That is true, and it is that which this Bill is designed to rectify. Why is there that superiority? It is because of the company that hotels have been forced to keep in this country. They have always been treated as if they were public-houses. They have to go through the same difficulties to make any alterations or improvement in their buildings, and those who have had experience of it know what it means. They have to go before a bench of licensing magistrates, and, unfortunately, there are always one or two magistrates who are exactly like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey. It is something to improve a public-house; it is something to make a hotel more attractive—and they hold up their hands in horror, and all possible difficulties are put in the way. The applicant finds himself up against a determined body of opinion which finds a place in practically every tribunal, and it is fatal.

The expense has been referred to before. If a man wants to put running water in the bedrooms there has to be several sets of plans, a set for every justice, architects have to be employed, and lawyers. The waste of money and time in getting through a simple alteration like that is perfectly outrageous. And yet we must keep our hotels in touch with what the public want and what the foreigners want. The great bulk of our hotels have not got running water in the bedrooms, and fewer still have rooms with private baths. I do not suppose you could find a hotel built in America in recent times, and certainly you would not in Canada, without those amenities. Visitors who come to this country want good hotels and want comfortable rooms, and it is the desire of every hotel proprietor to give his visitors what they want, but he is put to absurd trouble and expense if he endeavours to meet their requirements. It is not the case that we think that increased facilities for getting a drink with meals will be any great attraction to foreigners. We want to make our hotels attractive to them by giving them the sort of room and the other conveniences which they desire. In London hotels you can always let rooms that have private bathrooms and running water, but you cannot let rooms which have not, unless there is such a crowding of people to London that there are no other places to which they can go.

The real object behind this Bill was put in a nutshell by the Royal Commission itself, and that is to raise the status and the standards of the whole of the industry. We want to raise their status, we want to put them in a position to make necessary improvements without having all the difficulties I have outlined thrown in their way. If they can do so they will make their hotels and the service they give much more attractive. There is a broad point of view to be taken on this Bill which ought to appeal to the House. Everybody who has travelled much knows what a big industry the catering for visitors can be in the country. I remember when I was in Canada that I was tremendously struck by the magnificence and the beauty of those Canadian-Pacific hotels. All that money had been spent in order to get American visitors. We were told that the hotel industry was the second in the country—I think wheat came first—and that they took over £60,000,000 a year out of American visitors, who would not have come if there had not been those beautiful hotels for their comfort.

Catering for visitors must be one of the greatest industries of France. In this country, instead of being a big industry, it is a ridiculously small one, and it is a common-place all over the world that our hotels—I am not speaking of the good hotels in London, but of the hotels throughout the country—are a disgrace to a nation such as ours. We must not judge of the state of affairs by the hotels which we see around us in London. We should think rather of the hotels in the country—in those parts of the country which our visitors particularly wish to see—Devonshire, Cornwall, Wales and elsewhere. There is no more beautiful scenery anywhere than is to be found in some of those districts, but one of the great troubles about getting visitors to go there is that they say there is nowhere for them to stay. I protest against the continual representation of this Bill as one which has merely to do with the provision of drinking facilities; they are one of the minor points of it. The real thing is to raise the status and the standards of the hotel industry as a whole, and to give it that encouragement which is necessary if we are to improve our hotels so that they may make a greater appeal to visitors from other countries than they do at present, and encourage them to spend their money here instead of going to France or Switzerland.

3.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Joseph Leckie Mr Joseph Leckie , Walsall

I do not propose to detain the House for very long, but I want to point out one or two things. I have tried to approach this question, not as a teetotaller, but as the representative of a large industrial constituency, and to look at it, not through my own spectacles, but from the point of view of the best interests of the community as a whole. I listened with very great interest to the speeches of the proposer and seconder, and I pay tribute to their public spirit; I can only regret that the splendid ideas they put into their speeches do not materialise in the Bill. Theoretically, a good deal is to be said for differentiation between hotels and public-houses. We are all anxious to see the development of the hotel industry in this country, because we recognise that there is great room for improvement. In many places hotel accommodation is inadequate. One cannot find in this Bill, however, anything that is helpful in developing bond fide hotels. A good case could be made for differentiation in the scale of licence duties between public-houses and hotels, but that is by no means sufficient to justify the present Bill.

I would like to remind the House that the Bill is to implement Recommendations in the Report of the Royal Com- mission on Licensing in respect of separate licences for hotels and restaurants as distinguished from public-houses. The recommendations of the Royal Commission were in favour of the improvement of hotels and restaurants on the ground that—and these are the words— 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. The reason for the discrimination between hotels and restaurants as against licensed premises has been cited by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) and by other hon. Members, so that I need not read them again. The House will see that it is clear that the Royal Commission had in mind the improvement of English hotels as distinct from the provision of increased facilities for the supply of intoxicating liquor.

The objections that I have to the Bill I will set out very briefly. First of all, it is piecemeal legislation, which is very rarely satisfying, because it generally leads to more evils than it tries to cure. The Royal Commission presented a very elaborate Report, after prolonged consideration of the matter, and we have been looking to the Government to implement that Report by bringing in a comprehensive Measure on lines recommended by the Royal Commission. Until that is done it would be a mistake to attempt to attack this problem in a piecemeal Measure such as the present Bill. I object to the Bill also because it interferes with the discretion of the licensing magistrates. There are many points in this connection, which it would take too much time to elaborate now, but there is in the Bill far too much "shall" and not enough "may" for the magistrates. That is to be seen in Clause after Clause. It would be a mistake to take away any discretion which the magistrates at present have in questions connected with licensing.

Again, I object to the Bill because it is distinctly class legislation. It legislates for the middle and upper classes as against the working classes and the poorer classes. That is evident to anyone who reads the Bill carefully. I object to the Bill, too, because, although it says that meals must be supplied, it gives no definition of a meal. I expect that, if the Bill became law, it would mean the classic ham sandwich which is kept in the glass ease and sold successfully to a number of customers. Then I object to the Bill because it means unfair discrimination as between restaurants and public houses. There is no doubt that the working people of this country would very much resent the passing of such a Bill, because it would be legislating for the well-to-do, and putting the working class at a disadvantage.

Lastly the Bill will create inure anomalies than it will clear away. If it became law I am sure that in ray own constituency the frequenters of ordinary public-houses would regard it as a great grievance when they saw the restaurants and hotels open while their own public-houses were closed. Reference has been made to a communication which I think all Members of the House have received from the National Consultative Council of the Retail Liquor Trade. That Memorandum, after setting out the objects of the Bill clearly and fairly, concluded with these words: This Bill should be extended to all public-houses, or rejected. Nothing has been said in the House to-day to suggest for a moment that the facilities provided in the Bill should be extended to all public-houses, and I hope that the House will reject the Bill by a substantial majority. The ordinary publicans in our working-class constituencies are suffering very greatly owing to the hardships that exist in the country in general, and they are having a struggle to keep their heads above water. I believe that, if the Bill became law, it would make the situation still more difficult, and, for the reasons I have given, I hope the House will reject it.

3.34 p.m.

Photo of Major Abraham Lyons Major Abraham Lyons , Leicester East

I think it was my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) who said a short time ago of this Bill that, while there was not a lot of virtue in it, there was not a, lot of vice in it. That seems to me to put the position quite clearly. While I do not agree with a great deal of what has been raid by those who oppose the Bill, and particularly the suggestion that the Bill has for its object merely the increased supply of drink to the prejudice of the population, I think it is equally wrong to say, as was said by one or two speakers in support of the Bill, though without Any foundation at all, that the hotel-keepers of this country are producing the Bill because they are prompted by a desire to bring their establishments up-to-date. It is said that we lack tourist traffic and the trade that tourist traffic brings because of the limited facilities that there are for taking alcoholic drinks in hotels. Those who are staying in hotels can have refreshment of any kind at any time they choose. To say that the tourist traffic is limited and held up because of lack of opportunity to get refreshment at all hours is wholly fallacious. One of the reasons why the hotel trade is complaining is because they have as hotels in the provinces a number of overpriced, inefficient institutions to which the public will not go, and which are really dead wood in the hotel world. Only in this morning's Press we see it stated by the president of one of the large railway companies that he is now considering closing up one of our main hotels at one of the London termini. I suppose that even if the Bill became law he would still close it.

The time is ripe for some alteration of the licensing system. We ought to go to the very foundation and alter the system under which licences are given. My hon. and learned Friend beside me referred to the difficulties which beset a man who is applying for a licence, or for an alteration. However humble may be the building for which he desires a licence, he has to produce qualifications of the highest order and he is faced with a tribunal which may not be fairly disposed to his application. There should be some substantial alteration of the whole licensing system and this, I hope, will be done by a Government Measure. Without condemning any attempt that may be made from any point of view to alter, by way of better adjustment, any of the anomalies that now exist, I feel that the Bill will operate really for no public good at all in the way of reforming or giving increased efficiency in hotels. They themselves should take the initiative and get out of the rut they are now in, offering at first-rate prices fourth-rate opportunities. My hon. and learned Friend referred to the string of hotels along the Canadian Pacific Railway. No one can compare for a moment the wonderful chain operated by that organisation from coast to coast with the out-of-date, highly-priced institutions in the provinces in this country. To say that this Bill, by offering further opportunities to one who goes as the guest of a resident and adding another hour of drinking time, will give an incentive to the hotel trade to re-model and reorganise their hotels and bring them up-to-date is to put the case entirely out of proportion.

I agree that something in the way of licensing reform, largely on the lines of the Royal Commission, ought to be introduced. I venture to think there is no desire in this country to-day to put the clock back and take away the limitations there are, and I believe there is very little support for those few people who from time to time shout for the abolition of all licensing restrictions. We do not want to go back to the time when there were entirely unlimited drinking facilities and drinking hours. We are getting to a generation that has other advantages, other avenues of far wider scope than existed at the time when there were long hours of labour and unlimited drinking facilities.

One listened with very great care, as one always does, to the hon. Member for Harrow (Sir Isidore Salmon), realising the authority with which he speaks on these matters, and realising, too, the organisation of which he is an ornament, which caters so very largely for the public want. I would like to observe that those hotels up and down the country, those monuments of inefficiency which exist by overcharging in times when opportunity occurs to allow them to overcharge—those out-of-date concerns are not in the same category as those places controlled by the hon. Member. It is not the London hotels, licensed premises or unlicensed premises, but those large places up and down the country which, to a very great extent, by their own avarice or inefficiency brought on the conditions of which they now complain, and which they think will be brought to an end by giving them extra concessions through the medium of this Bill.

One ought to bear in mind that the alterations which are necessary in a real codifying licensing Statute are more than the alterations referred to here. When those alterations do come along—and I see my name as one of the Parliamentary Committee to consider a Bill—I say, quite frankly, that they should be for the public good alone, and not discriminate between the small public house and large hotel. The public interest is not served by a mere extension of drinking hours either in the small villages or in the towns. Let them become up-to-date and modernise themselves, and come into line with present conditions, and then let the Government come along, as I hope they will, to make a real attempt to deal with the licensing position. I hope it will be borne in mind by every hon. Member that all the talk about increasing traffic by allowing an extension of drinking facilities to those who are staying in these hotels is entirely irrelevant. The Bill will snake no alteration in that at all. If an alteration is to be made to allow a man who stays in an hotel to entertain a guest at his own expense, at any time, day or night, within hours or outside of hours, that alteration ought to come, not through a Measure seeking to alter the status of one class of licensed premises against another, but through a complete comprehensive Measure introduced by the Government broadly and boldly on the lines of the Report of the Commission, operating for the public good and making a complete overhaul of the present licensing system.

I hope that those who have promoted the Bill will realise that when they vote for it they are giving still another discretion to the licensing bench, the very bench which was criticised by my hon. and learned Friend just now as not being able sometimes very clearly to appreciate the niceties of the application which is made, and the bench which sometimes gives a preconceived judgment because of the definite ideas of one or two of its members, who, he says, are always present. That licensing bench which is now criticised is to be given still another authority and still more jurisdiction. Speaking for myself, I hope that the time is not far distant when a new licensing system will not increase but will diminish the arbitrary jurisdiction which is now given to licensing justices while they act, not so much in a judicial as in a ministerial capacity.

The Bill, while having very few vices, has very few virtues, and I hope that nobody will accept it as really definite contribution either to the licensing difficulties and anomalies which exist or to the attempt which is being made—and rightly made—by advertising this country to increase our tourist traffic. I do not think it will help the trade of the country, and I do not think it will help to increase tourist traffic in this country. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) said that the rates of exchange are operating against us. The rates of exchange now existing should operate to bring tourist traffic to this country. Visitors ought to take advantage now more than ever of the favourable rates which on the foreign exchange have altered our own currency and purchasing power as far as regards foreign money. All those advantages can only be gained by a proper hotel system in this country. It is at that which proprietors should aim and not at the small advantage aimed at in this piece of mediocre partial legislation.

3.48 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Magnay Mr Thomas Magnay , Gateshead

The discussion to-day to which I have listened very carefully has convinced me that we English folk have a faculty and indeed a facility for amusing and kidding ourselves with unctious rectitude that we and we alone know how to do the sort of thing presented in the Bill to-day. I have never known such camouflage in my life as has been exhibited to-day. An hon. Member behind me—I forget his constituency—said that we wanted to raise the standard and prestige of the hotels of this country. Raise it, if you please, by an extra hours' indulgence in stimulants I That, I think, is not at all creditable to any spokesman for that industry. Another hon. Member said that we ought to encourage the imports of travellers into this country, and I notice that most of the people who have been talking about having this sort of free imports are not usually the people who talk about free imports at all. On this occasion they believe in changing the character of the imports, to use the words of the Secretary of State for War; to change the personnel of the tourists who come to this country.

It is plain to me that this House to-day, largely composed as it is of hon. Members who represent constituencies in the vicinity of London—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—think that London is the criterion for this country by which everything should be judged. I submit that they are wrong. I object most strongly to any change in the licensing law by instalments. The Royal Commission was set up to consider the whole question of licensing reform, and an almost unanimous report was presented, but to-day we have this puny weakling that is presented to us, and this instalment receives the partial blessing of the representative of the Home Office. This tiny anaemic-looking infant is brought forward as the product of the Commission on Licensing Reform. I object to this sort of licensing reform by the instalment system, especially after such a dreadful exhibition as we have had to-day.

I think, and I have had some experience, that our licensing benches are of the best type of public administration. Someone has objected to the usual constitution of the licensing bench. It may be said, to my certain knowledge, that in the north there are more total abstainers on the licensing benches than people who are not total abstainers, and that for the very good reason that they live longer. They are bound to live longer. Any insurance company will tell you that. The law of the country will not allow the licensing benches to be composed of people who are interested in the liquor trade. I admit, theoretically, that there is a good deal to be said for differentiating between the public house and the hotel, whether the public house is improved or not. The hotel, with or without a drink supply, is as essential as a place of service, whereas the public house is primarily a drinking place. We should require hotels even if there was no

liquor traffic in existence. We must have a differentiation in licensing duties.

So long as our licensing system continues it is essential that the control of the retail sale and supply of drink should be entirely in the hands of the justices. Why have we licensing justices? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I want to educate some hon. Members of this House. Why have we licensing justices at all? It is because that where there is drink there is danger. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) was chaffed unmercifully this afternoon because he stood up as a total abstainer, as if there was anything to apologise for in that. It is what we are expected to be. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Who by?"] By God who made us. We want to understand these things. When God Almighty wanted to raise a nation out of a rabble of slaves He took them into the wilderness and for forty years they tasted nothing but Adam's ale.

Photo of Mr Edward Doran Mr Edward Doran , Tottenham North

On a point of Order. May I remind the hon. Member—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I should like to say that if the hon. Member cares to look—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Mr. Speaker. Are you aware that Noah—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

That does not appear to me to be a point of Order.

Mr. BRACEWELL SMITH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put accordingly. "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 203; Noes, 23.

Division No. 100.]AYES.[3.58 p m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelBennett, Capt. Sir Ernest NathanielCastlereagh, Viscount
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanCayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)
Albery, Irving JamesBird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)Blaker, Sir ReginaldCecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Bossom, A. C.Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert TattonClayton, Dr. George C.
Atholl, Duchess ofBracken, BrendanColfox, Major William Philip
Atkinson, CyrilBurton, Colonel Henry WalterColville, Lieut.-Colonel J.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.Butler, Richard AustenCook, Thomas A.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Cadogan, Hon. EdwardCooke, Douglas
Balniel, LordCaine, G. R. Hall-Cooper, A. Duff
Bateman, A. L.Campbell, Vice-Admrial G. (Burnley)Courtauld, Major John Sewell
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)Campbell-Johnston, MalcolmCraddock, Sir Reginald Henry
Beit, Sir Alfred L.Caporn, Arthur CecilCranborne, Viscount
Benn, Sir Arthur ShirleyCarver, Major William H.Craven-Ellis, William
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)Remer, John R.
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)Joel, Dudley J. BarnatoRhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)Johnston, J. w. (Clackmannan)Ross, Ronald D.
Cross, R. H.Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)Runge, Norah Cecil
Crossley, A. C.Kerr, Hamilton W.Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel BernardKnox, Sir AlfredRussell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Dalkeith, Earl ofLambert, Rt. Hon. GeorgeRutherford, John (Edmonton)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Latham, Sir Herbert PaulRutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Davison, Sir William HenryLaw, Sir AlfredSalmon, Sir Isidore
Denman, Hon. R. D.Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)Salt, Edward W.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Dickie, John p.Liddall, Walter S.Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Doran, EdwardLlewellin, Major John J.Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Drewe, CedricLockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)Savery, Samuel Servington
Duckworth, George A. V.Lovat-Fraser, James AlexanderShakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Duggan, Hubert JohnMacAndraw, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)Shute, Colonel J. J.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)McConnell, Sir JosephSmiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Eden, Robert AnthonyMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Elliston, Captain George SampsonMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Emmott, Charles E. G. C.McEwen, Captain J. H. F.Somervell, Donald Bradley
Entwistle, Cyril FullardMcLean, Major Sir AlanSomerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir IanSpears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)Maitland, AdamSpender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Essenhigh, Reginald ClareMakins, Brigadier-General ErnestSteel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Ford, Sir Patrick J.Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.Storey, Samuel
Fuller, Captain A. G.Marsden, Commander ArthurStourton, Hon. John J.
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)Strauss, Edward A.
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. HamiltonMayhew, Lieut.-Colonel JohnStrickland, Captain W. F.
Glossop, C. W. H.Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Gluckstein, Louis HalleMills, Major J. D. (New Forest)Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.
Gower, Sir RobertMitcheson, G. G.Sutcliffe, Harold
Grattan-Doyle, Sir NicholasMonsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. EyresTate, Mavis Constance
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnMoore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Grimston, R. V.Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.Morrison, William ShepherdThomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Gunston, Captain D. W.Nall-Cain, Hon. RonaldTouche, Gordon Cosmo
Guy, J. C. MorrisonNation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.Turton, Robert Hugh
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Hales, Harold K.North, Captain Edward T.Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hanbury, CecilNunn, WilliamWardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Harbord, ArthurOman, Sir Charles William C.Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Hartington, Marquess ofOrmsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Patrick, Colin M.Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)Penny, Sir GeorgeWilliams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)Percy, Lord EustaceWills, Wilfrid D.
Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)Perkins, Walter R. D.Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Hornby, FrankPetherick, M.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Horobin, Ian M.Pickford, Hon. Mary AdaWise, Alfred R.
Horsbrugh, FlorenceProcter, Major Henry AdamWomersley, Walter James
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Ray, Sir WilliamTELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Hurd, Sir PercyReid, Capt. A. Cunningham-Mr. Bracewell Smith and Mr. Hannon.
Iveagh, Countess ofReid, William Allan (Derby)
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick WolfeGroves, Thomas E.Potter, John
Batey, JosephHamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)
Bernays, RobertHurst, Sir Gerald a.Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, GeorgeJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Leckie, J. A.
Elmley, ViscountLees-Jones, JohnTELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)Mander, Geoffrey le M.Mr. Magnay and Dr. Salter.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.)Pickering, Ernest H.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.

Adjourned at Eight Minutes after Four o'Clock until Monday next, 3rd April.