Clause 1. — (Power of local authorities to establish restaurants.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Civic Restaurants Bill. – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th February 1947.

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Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing West 12:00 am, 17th February 1947

I will leave the hon. Gentleman to work that out for himself. I am dealing with a serious issue. I am dealing with the issue that our country spent on drink this last year £680 million. I am facing the fact that in this country there are now 120,000 or 130,000 centres of one sort or another at which the people's claims for drink can be met. And I am saying that a time in which the Government are facing a great national crisis, and are calling upon the people to work hard, asking even the trades unions to restrict their rules—as the Prime Minister suggested this weekend—is not the time for extensions anywhere of the drinking habits and of the drinking facilities in this country. This proposal, comes right in the midst of a coal crisis, when we have cold grates, and appeals to go carefully. This is not the time to undo a Committee decision. In my judgment, this is the most deplorable act that the Government have committed during the whole of their career. Even now I hope the Minister of Food will reconsider the attitude he is taking If it is possible to run British restaurants in Scotland successfully, and to do with them all the things that he says he hopes to do with them, without the aid of drink, then they can be run in England without the aid of drink. The Minister has given us our case. He is supporting us in England by what he admits with regard to Scotland, and I hope that this will be reconsidered before a final and irrevocable decision is taken.