ORDUITHE AN LAE. - ORDERS OF THE DAY. INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1927 —THIRD STAGE (RESUMED).
The Dáil went into Committee and resumed consideration of amendment 62 to Section 30, as follows:—
In sub-section (1), line 29, after the word "referring" to delete the words "the licensing area" and substitute therefor the words "the county."—(Deputy Baxter.)
I would like to impress upon the Minister the reasons why he should not accept this amendment. If a licence were forfeited in one end of a county, the traders at the other end of the county would have to pay the compensation allowed to the trader who had been put out of business. That would be a greater hardship than any hardship imposed by the Bill. If a house is value for twice as much with the licence as it would be without the licence, then the trader whose licence is abolished would be entitled to the difference. Traders in another end of the county may be called upon to pay a portion of the cost of compensating that licensee although they derive no benefit whatever from the abolition of the licence. That is not fair. In a town where there are 14 or 16 publichouses and where there is a population of about 1,000, some of the licences should be abolished. It is not the first time I have expressed that opinion. A large number of publicans in the country are more than anxious, if they get decent compensation, to part with their licences. I do not at all agree with the Minister in his statement that there are many licensed houses throughout the country which at the moment would be bought dear at £50— houses which open for one or two days in the year in order to prevent the licence being lost. Take the case of a trader in a country town who has had a licence for 30 or 40 years. He may have reared a family with the profits arising from that publichouse. Would it be fair for the Minister for Justice or for the Compensation Commission to offer that man a sum of £50 and abolish his licence? At the present time he may not sell more than half a barrel of stout in the week. There are houses in the country which are not selling more than half a barrel in a week, but that is not due to bad business methods but to unemployment. If the times were better and if industries were started which would provide workers with a living wage, those publichouses would do well. Fifty pounds would not be proper compensation to offer any person for his loss of trade.
In the small towns of the constituency I represent, a number of publichouses have recently been purchased. In the town of Moate, three publichouses have been purchased within the last four years. One of these houses cost, between purchase and fittings, £1,400. If that licence is abolished, the house will be no use to the owner, and his means of livelihood will be gone. On the other hand, if these publichouses were abolished in Moate, the people in Castlepollard would have to bear portion of the compensation, according to this amendment. I think the publican who lives in the town should pay that compensation. The Minister for Finance proposes to give £100,000 towards the Compensation Fund. I think that is very fair, and it will certainly relieve the poorer publican who is allowed to remain on. I do not think the question of compensation should be left entirely to the Compensation Commission. If there are twenty publichouses in a town of 1,600 or 1,800 population, five of these publichouses will probably go.
I was put a few questions when I was in my constituency during the week-end. I visited a large number of publichouses for the purpose of making inquiries as to the intentions of the publicans towards the Government at the coming election, after the introduction of this Bill. I was requested to find out from the Minister how long the publican would have to wait before he would receive compensation, and would he be allowed to dispose of his stock after the order for abolition of the licence. A publican may have in sufficient stock to last four or five months and, if an order is made for the abolition of the licence, I should like to know what is to become of the stock. I hope the Minister will use every means in his power to defeat this amendment. If it goes to a vote, I shall certainly vote against it.
I should like to point out that the amendment which is under discussion merely deals with the area of charge. The question at issue is whether the area shall be the area as in the Bill or the county. Amendment 65, I think, aims at making the area larger still. The only question for decision now is what the area of compensation shall be.
I hope I am not out of order in congratulating the Minister for Justice on obtaining the support of Deputy Lyons in resistance to this amendment. The Deputy was with me, as the Minister observed, last week for a brief period. He has now, owing to the force of the Minister's argument, returned to his natural camp.
As regards the discussion we had last Friday on this amendment, two points emerged rather clearly. The first was that this is not a matter of principle in any sense. It is mainly a matter of what is most convenient—convenient administratively. The other point is that the Minister, who justifies his argument mainly on the ground of fairness, is not absolutely tied to the scheme laid down in the Bill. He invited us to meet him in argument with regard to various counties, and he suggested the case of the County Mayo. I suppose the case for reducing the number of publichouses on the ground of redundancy will be based more or less on the Second Schedule of the report of the Intoxicating Liquor Commission. I think that schedule was supplied to the Commission by the Minister. Looking at the County Mayo I find that there is redundancy alleged in Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, Ballinrobe, Belmullet, Louisburgh, Newport, Swinford, and Charlestown. That covers practically the whole of the County Mayo with three exceptions, and those three exceptions are the three urban districts—Ballina, Castlebar and Westport. As a matter of fact, Castlebar appears in part (b) of the Second Schedule, so that there appears to be redundancy there too. I assume that the reduction of this redundancy will not take place in one area of the county only—that it will not take place in Swinford and Charlestown and the extreme east of the county, but will extend over the whole area. Officers of the Gárda will, I presume, be instructed to apply for reduction of licences where there is redundancy in their districts. If that be so, practically the whole of Mayo, with the exception of the three urban districts, will have a simultaneous reduction going on. I do not think it is too much to say that the licensed traders in the urban district will reap some benefit from the reduction of licensed houses elsewhere. There is not only the local trade but there is the trade of the carter and the man coming along with a Ford car.
In many cases where the cross-road publichouses are done away with, on the ground of redundancy—and a great many need to be done away with—if a party cannot get refreshments there, instead of turning off and leaving the main road, they will go on into one of these towns, so that the licensed traders there are bound to reap some benefit. I would like to put it to the Minister that the burden becomes less when it is levied over a large area. Probably the men in the best position to bear the burden are the traders in the larger towns, who have a more constant custom and all the benefit of the travelling trade. The county as a whole can bear the burden with less injustice and unfairness than the smaller area of the District Court. I do not know if it is Deputy Baxter's intention to press the amendment to a division. It seems to me to be a matter eminently for further consideration and discussion, possibly with Deputies, possibly with those who speak for the licensed trade. I have not been asked to speak on this by anyone, but, looking into the matter and reasoning it from my own knowledge, I feel convinced that Deputy Baxter's amendment is a sound one, and that the county area is the fairest area of charge on the whole.
I hope the Minister is not tied too tightly to the section as it stands in the Bill, and will not regard it as a matter of confidence. The principle of the Bill, adopted by the majority, was that those remaining in the trade should pay for those who go out. We had a statement from the Minister for Finance, that it was estimated the number of houses likely to be abolished would be in or about 4,000. Seeing that redundancy is not clearly defined in the Bill, I was wondering, after hearing the Minister's statement, on what basis he arrived at 4,000. Was a survey made in each licensing area, or was a general figure taken of the State as a whole, and the number of publichouses to be reduced fixed at 4,000? On the last day the debate on this amendment seems to have ranged round the question whether the area should be extended to the county as proposed in the amendment, to the Circuit Court area, or the whole Free State. The Minister explained, when introducing the Bill, that there would be 340 compensation units under his scheme. The Minister admits that, from the administrative point of view, that could not be looked upon in a favourable light. If Deputy Baxter's amendment were accepted by the House, the number of compensation units would be reduced to 26.
If the Circuit Court area were accepted as the area the compensation units would be reduced to 8. As is proposed in a later amendment standing in my name, if the area is extended to the whole Free State, there will be only one compensation unit which, from the point of view of administration, should be more acceptable to the Ministry. The sponsors and supporters of this Bill claim that if it is passed it will reduce the amount of liquor consumed. If less liquor is consumed all over the Free State, as a result of the passage of a measure which limits and reduces the number of publichouses, I do not think it is fair that people in the licensing area, as defined in the Bill, should find the whole of the compensation for those who are wiped out.
In a matter of this kind we have to look back for precedents. When the Government brought in a measure for the amalgamation of railways, which, in their opinion, was to provide a more efficient system of transport, they compelled shareholders in a prosperous concern to accept a reduced revenue in order to establish that system. It is a question of policy. Is the Government policy one of amalgamation, centralisation, or decentralisation? The compensation unit from the point of view of decentralisation would lead to chaotic administration. Take the railways as a case in point. We are arguing on the principle and are not dealing either with railways or publichouses. A shareholder in the Dublin and South-Eastern Railway who had a nominal £100's holding was given in exchange in the reorganised capital of the Great Southern Railways, following the passage of the Railways Act, £47 10s. 0d. In effect, the revenue of the shareholder was reduced by more than 50 per cent. for the purpose, from the State point of view, of creating a more efficient transport system. The principle of this Bill is claimed to be similar to that which forced the amalgamation of the railways. I say that no publican should be allowed to remain outside the scope of the Bill, so far as it affects him in finding the payment for those who go out of business.
The term redundancy is not defined in the Bill. The Minister for Justice, as long as he remains in office, may administer the Bill on the lines laid down in the Report of the Liquor Commission, but his successor in five or ten years' time may take the view that there should be no licences abolished. On the other hand, he may take the view that, instead of wiping out 4,000 licences, double the number should be abolished. Therefore, no Deputy voting on this Bill can truthfully say what redundancy means, because the term is not defined in the Bill. If we are to go by statements made by Ministers inside and outside this House, the principle of imposing taxation is that those who are best able should be compelled to pay. In other words, it should depend on the capacity of the taxpayer to pay a particular amount. But if this Bill is to be administered on the lines laid down in the Report of the Liquor Commission, it will mean that in the licensing area of the City of Dublin no publichouses will be abolished. I stated that I was informed, since the Bill had been introduced, that some houses of low valuation and others that were not properly conducted were likely to be abolished. The Minister has not contradicted that statement so far. At any rate, assuming that the Bill is administered on the lines of the Report of the Liquor Commission, there will be no publichouses abolished in the licensing area of the City of Dublin. Where is the money to come from to pay the people who go out? The Minister for Finance stated that the sum of £1,200,000 would be required to pay compensation to the holders whose licences were abolished, and of that sum £100,000 would come out of the taxpayers' pockets. But I want to point out to the House that if the Bill is administered on the lines of the Report of the Liquor Commission not one penny will come out of the pockets of traders in the City of Dublin. The people who will have to pay, and it is only a matter of opinion as to the proportion which they should pay, will be those who remain in in the licensing area. Every Deputy who voted for the Second Reading of the Bill voted for that principle. Therefore, if you are going to administer the Bill on the lines of that particular vote, but not on the lines laid down in the Report of the Liquor Commission, then you are going to leave out of consideration the people who have houses with a high valuation and the people who have made the greatest profits in the trade during the last three or four years.
For that reason I support the extension of the licensing area as defined in the Bill. I wish there could be some general agreement on the area to be ultimately decided upon, which I hope will not be the area laid down in the Bill. Every Deputy who spoke on the Second Reading of the Bill, and whether they voted for or against the Second Reading, admitted, I think, that there were too many licensed houses in the Free State. I qualified my opposition and my vote against the Bill to the extent that I realised that, and that I was prepared to admit, so far as I was concerned, that it was only a matter of paying fair compensation to those whose licences were to be wiped out under this measure. I desire to put a proposal of my own before the Minister. Whatever be the licensing area eventually decided upon, I suggest that the people who will remain in, and who will benefit by the wiping out of licences in their area, should be called upon to pay two-thirds of the cost of compensation to those whose licences are extinguished in that area, whatever it may be, and that the licensed traders in the remainder of the State as a whole should bear the remaining one-third.
I put forward that suggestion without very careful consideration or consultation with anyone and I hope the Minister will give some consideration to it. The people who remain within an area, whatever that area be—county, circuit court or any smaller area—will undoubtedly receive some benefit in the wiping out of the licences of their colleagues in that particular area, and should in the natural course of events bear a greater proportion of the cost of compensation than people outside that particular area. Whether the figure be one-fourth or one-third for the remaining traders over the whole of the State, I think those who remain within the defined limit should bear the remaining three-fourths or two-thirds, as the case may be, in the matter of the compensation to be paid to those whose licences are extinguished.
Did the Deputy state that he put that up without consideration?
I dare say that in the Minister's view I would not be the type of person who would consider anything that I was going to say.
The Deputy would not have time mostly.
I do not know how the Minister arrives at that conclusion, and perhaps he would explain that silly remark. Deputy Egan undoubtedly knows more about this particular Bill than I do, and I am quite well aware from a remark that he passed that he does not agree with this particular suggestion for extending the licensing area defined in the Bill.
I asked the Deputy privately for his opinion on a point that I am now going to mention, but he did not give it to me. Perhaps he would give the information to the House. The question I put to him is this: How many licensed houses in the constituency of Leix and Offaly are likely to be abolished as a result of this measure? In other words, to what extent does redundancy exist in the Parliamentary constituency of Leix and Offaly.
That is a matter for pure speculation.
I agree, and that is what I wanted to get out. I hope, therefore, that the Deputy will not say what he said on the Second Reading: that this would do harm rather than good to the traders of Leix and Offaly.
That will depend on the interpretation given by the local District Justice.
It will depend on the interpretation of the Minister in office, advised by the Chief Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána as to the reasons which can be put forward for wiping out licences. I candidly admit that different District Justices might take different views of cases put before them as to whether or not licences should be wiped out. I am supporting Deputy Baxter's amendment because I believe in extending the area defined in the Bill. For the reasons put forward by Deputy Baxter I am prepared to leave to a later stage of the discussion the question as to whether or not agreement can be found on the fixing of that particular area. The House, at any rate, will be faced with a proposal, as was mentioned during the debate on the last day, of agreeing to the area laid down in the Bill. The county is the area proposed by Deputy Baxter. The Circuit Court district and the State as a whole were also referred to as possible areas. I support Deputy Baxter's amendment for the reason that if the area is extended the charge to be imposed on those who will remain in will be lighter than it would be under the proposal in the Bill.
It seems necessary for the benefit of Deputy Davin to cover a certain amount of ground that was covered in the discussion on Friday last.
As a matter of personal explanation, may I say that I was absent in the country on Friday on private and family business. If I could have been here I would have been in my place as usual, but I was obliged to be away on family business.
The Minister's statement was not by way of criticism of Deputy Davin's absence. The reason for the Deputy's absence was generally understood.
I do not intend to talk about the Railways Bill. I think that the Railways Bill was very thoroughly discussed when it was before the Dáil.
And amended twice afterwards to prove it was not.
I want to take the Deputy's point that those best able to pay should be compelled to pay. He laid that down as a cast-iron, general principle. No doubt, he would be prepared to die at the stake for it, but the question arises whether this matter of the extinction of a licence is one which permits of the application of that principle at all. Those best able should be compelled to pay. What is the basis of putting a charge at all on the surviving members of the licensed trade? That is a thing we have got to examine. The basis, as we agreed on the last evening's discussion, is that the beneficiaries pay. Those who benefit by the extinction of licences should pay. It becomes a question how best to preserve and maintain that principle. I put it to the Dáil that principle is best maintained by taking, as your area for the purposes in this section, the smallest administrative unit we know, the area that is, in fact, the licensing area at present, the area tapped for summary jurisdiction purposes by a particular District Court. There are 340 such areas in the State.
I make a present, to Deputy Davin and others, of the argument that that is administratively more difficult than the larger area, that it would be administratively simple to take the county area, and a fortiori, administratively simpler to take the area of the State, to make simply a unit of the State for this purpose. It seems to me that, inherent in that idea, there is the fallacy of regarding the trade as an entity. It is not. It is simply a conglomeration of individuals engaged in the same calling. It is not a unit and should not be treated as a unit for the purposes of this section unless, indeed, I was told, in some authentic way, that the trade itself was prepared to be treated as a unit for the purpose of this compensation—that now, before any process of extinction starts to work, with very little idea as to where the extinction will lean heaviest and where lightest, they would be prepared to undertake and share equally, amongst all their members, the burden of compensation. So far as I have been able to learn, that is not the position, and the fairest thing, therefore, seems to me to adhere to the principle that the area of benefit shall be the area of charge. It is not merely a question of saying that those best able should be compelled to pay. To pay for what? What do people get, under the operation of this section of the Bill, who reside in a county or area where no extinction whatever takes place? The principle that one applies to taxation is on quite a different footing; one gets, in return for taxation, the services the State is in a position to give to all the citizens. Here you are dealing with the putting out of a particular kind of business of a certain number of individuals engaged in that business, and the principle underlying the Bill is that those who benefit by the extinction should pay.
To what extent does the ordinary taxpayers, including the teetotaller, benefit by the £100,000 taken from them? There is £100,000 to be paid as a State contribution.
That is an approximation. There is 6½ per cent. State contribution embodied in the financial provision of this section, and the Minister for Finance, speaking on that, pointed out that some diminution in consumption is envisaged—that the survivors will not get all the business of the extinguished. They will get the greater part of it, no doubt, but not all the business of the extinguished licensees. Then there are certain administrative charges, court expenses, and so on, and there is a case for a small State contribution of that kind.
Deputy Cooper says the burden becomes less if distributed. No doubt; in one case you have a number of pools; in the other case, taking the State as a unit, you have a lake, and the lake would be less deep than the deepest of the pools. But where is the basis for the imposition of the burden? In his scheme for a large unit, the county or the State, what is the ratio, what is the basis? If you are going to impose a burden on particular traders or on all the traders of the State, then you should be in a position to name the logical basis for the imposition of any such burden. That seems to me the weakness of this suggestion that one should, simply on the plea of administrative conveniency, or even on the plea that the burden would be lighter, take the traders all over the State and say: "You have got to pay the compensation of those who have been extinguished."
I made no plea for taking the State as an area. I do not approve of it. My argument was that in those counties where redundancy exists, it exists all over the county except in one or two urban areas which, in fact, cannot derive a benefit from the extinction of licences.
That is an unsound argument. The Deputy bases it on the schedule to the Report of the Intoxicating Liquor Commission, which does not purport to be a scientific examination of the question. It is based on a number of outstanding examples supplied, at random, by my Department after very hurried consultation with superintendents throughout the country.
Totally misleading in many ways.
I agree it is misleading if only for this reason. On this question of publichouses it is not the number of houses in the area or the total population you ought to consider. It will be the catchment area, the economic hinterland of that town, the radius from which people come pouring into the town for their ordinary business. I am faced with the difficulty that there is pressure for a larger area than that in the Bill. If I had any reason to believe that the larger area would be acceptable to the people most intimately concerned, members of the licensed trade, then, no doubt, a case could be made, because, administratively, a larger area would be simpler, but I have no such assurance. The evidence, I think, is to the contrary, and I must try to do what I myself believe is the fair and reasonable thing, and I believe the fairest thing is to take the small area, this area of the District Court, and say that for licences extinguished here the survivors shall pay, and the basis is that the survivors of that area do, in fact, benefit by the extinction of licences in that area. If you take the county at large, is that the position? Might not there be gross redundancy on one side of the county and none at all in other parts of the county? Then you would be up against having those people paying compensation over a long period of twelve or fifteen years without being able to be shown any clear basis for such payment, without being able to be shown that they benefit in any way from the extinction for which they are paying compensation. One must not do the arbitrary thing. If the trade, speaking with one voice through their organisation, asked for a larger area, my view would be that there would be no more to be said.
On that point, which I think is a very important point, has the trade expressed any view of its own? My information is that the trade is divided about that—the City of Dublin against the country.
I have no doubt whatever that the trade is divided. Therefore, there is an absence of a single voice on this matter, and in the absence of a single voice on this matter we are thrown back on our own resources to do the reasonable thing, the fairest thing. What is the fairest thing? Is it to impose our compensation burden in such a way that people may be paying for nothing If we cannot regard the trade as a unit, if in this matter it will not or cannot talk as a unit, then we must simply regard it as a collection of individuals. Is it reasonable to put a burden upon individuals without being in a position to say that there will be any set-off to that burden, that there will be any benefit to show in return for their share in that burden?
Why put any on the taxpayer on that ground?
The tax, as the Deputy knows, comes to a matter of about £5,000 for twenty years.
One-twelfth of the compensation?
It comes to a matter of 6½ per cent. on the total. The Minister for Finance estimated the entire sum at £100,000. I do not want to split hairs about it, but there is a case for some contribution, on the basis that there will be some reduction in consumption, on the basis that there will be some administrative expenses, and so on. I am not prepared to depart from the provisions of the Bill unless either I am asked to do so by authentic representatives of the licensed traders themselves or that I hear better arguments for such a departure than any that have been advanced during to-day's discussion or the discussion on the last evening. I have not heard them. One can talk at large about the county unit. We know there are some very large counties. What are you to say to the individual who can tell you, after five or six years' experience of the operation of this section, that he has been paying steadily year after year in compensation and that there has not been a licensed house extinguished within twenty-five miles of him? What is paying for? He is asked to pay because he has the misfortune to belong to a trade that got overcrowded. He is asked to bear a share of the cost of wiping out redundancy thirty, forty, or fifty miles from him, perhaps eighty or a hundred miles, as could happen in some counties.
In how many counties could that apply?
It could happen in some, as the Deputy knows.
Where will you get the 4,000?
The 4,000 applies all over. Four thousand is simply a rough estimate of the total number of licences that will be extinguished. Deputy Davin talked about what was redundancy, and said "Why not define redundancy?" That is the kind of question that rushes to the Deputy's head like air to a vaccum. It would be difficult to define redundancy, but I did say the last evening that we are prepared to prevent an over-enthusiastic administration from rushing the pace, that we are prepared to put a maximum in this Bill, a proviso that no trader in any area in a given year will be asked to pay by way of compensation more than his licence duty. That provides a check on over-enthusiasm, and if at any time—five, seven or ten years hence—the Dáil forms the opinion that the pruning in the number of licensed houses in the country has gone far enough, then clearly the thing to do is to repeal the Bill or to pass a resolution calling a halt on the operations of this section. That is a thing that would be very much easier to do than to define redundancy, as Deputy Davin invites me to do.
I am not sure that I can usefully add anything more. I am standing for the provisions in the Bill because they are fairer, more reasonable than any rival suggestion that has been put forward. The Bill keeps as closely as it is possible to keep to the principle that those who will benefit will pay. If you take a larger area at all, there is really no standing ground between this area and taking the State as a whole. There is very little case that can be made for taking the county as against the entire State, because in taking any wider area than I take in the Bill you, in fact, depart from the principle of the beneficiaries paying, and if you depart from it at all you might as well take the most definite unit, the unit of the State.
I have listened to the arguments put forward by Deputies Davin and Baxter and the Minister. Deputy Baxter has made an honest attempt to try to help the licensed trade when it is paying compensation to those who will be eliminated. Deputy Davin made a bigger attempt, but the Minister is sticking to his guns and he asks for somebody who is an authority. Well, I am an authority to speak for Cork and Munster, and I will say to Deputy Baxter that it is nearly as hard to please the publicans as to please the farmers. I have made an attempt to help the licensed trade; it is approved by the trade in my county, and that is my amendment to Section 40. That would immediately relieve those who would be paying the compensation, and without going to the licensed trade in the country at large or in the county or the smaller area. It would be as broad as it is long in the end, in the case of the country at large or the county, and if you honestly try to please the publicans in that direction they would say: "We are just as badly off. We in Ballyporeen are paying for the publicans in Ballinasloe, and we do not know that we are not paying too much for them. Perhaps it would be better for us to be left as we were." I hope the Minister will listen to what I am saying. If you reduce the £7 10s. and made it for forty years, the publicans would get a reduction and relief in the payment of compensation. I am a little out of order, but my case is so good that the Ceann Comhairle has not stopped me. For fear I would spoil it now, I will say nothing further, except to ask the Minister to say to himself: "I was looking for assistance from some representative of the licensed trade; I have found him, and I will accept his advice."
I rise to offer a word of advice to the Minister. He is very much in love with the District Court area. The facts are that District Court areas are the combining of a number of Parliamentary electoral divisions. These several divisions are not rounded areas; they run into one another here and there. I have a few cases in point in mind, and one in particular at my own door. That is where a publichouse exists on the main road from Callan to Kilkenny. The district area, in this instance, would be Callan. Any compensation derived from the extinction of this licence would be by the City of Kilkenny. It never can, in any circumstances, be of any benefit to the District Court area.
We will have some anomalies like that in any area.
There is much more to be said from my knowledge, and I speak only of the county of which I have knowledge. The Minister will find that, in equity and in justice, the county area would work out very much better and would be very much preferable in the scheme than the area he has in mind. He believes his scheme is right, but I know from my experience and knowledge that the local area is the wrong unit.
I take it we are discussing the amendments of both Deputy Baxter and Deputy Davin?
Yes, anything relating to the area of charge.
Deputy Davin and, I think, everybody else admits that the principle that the survivors are to pay is, in the end, the fairest. If we take Deputy Davin's suggestion that the whole State should be the area we are going to arrive at exactly the opposite result, and, certainly, not at what Deputy Davin wishes to arrive at, namely, that the survivors are to pay. Deputy Davin's suggestion, and Deputy Baxter's suggestion, in a lesser degree, would be all right if you are going to have an even rate of blotting out licences, in every part of the Saorstát, but a little consideration will show that if one wishes to support the idea that the survivors must pay, then, the smaller the area, the more evenly the incidence to the survivor benefiting will be achieved.
Does not that depend to a great extent on the valuation of licensed premises?
The question of valuation does not arise now. I am referring to the number of houses that are to be blotted out. The question of valuation and the incidence of compensation on high valuation as against low valuation is a distinctly different matter. Deputy Cooper appeared to be under the impression that the problem of redundancy was, more or less, evenly distributed over the county area. I assure him it is not. Undoubtedly in any very large county what would happen, if you gave effect to Deputy Baxter's amendment, would be you would have a group of licences blotted out at one end of the county and the compensation would be paid by men living a great number of miles away deriving no benefit from it whatever. Deputy Davin is allowing his imagination to roam very considerably when he states it as his conviction that there are not going to be any licences blotted out in Dublin. I am quite sure the trade in Dublin would be very glad to think that that was so.
Can the Deputy give us any information upon that point? The Minister refused to do so.
No one can give information upon the point until the Act begins to function, because it will rest with the local Gárda Síochána and the Circuit Court and the District Court to decide what redundancy there is. The only test of redundancy that seems to trouble Deputy Davin so much is as to whether there are too many licensed houses in a district or not, and that will depend upon the view of the various authorities dealing with the matter.
Deputy Davin, for some reason or other, wants to get a rap at what he calls the wealthy Dublin publican. Assuming that that is a very desirable thing to do—and I do not subscribe at all to it, I do not think that they are any more venal than any other class of publicans—but supposing it is the object to have a whack at the wealthy Dublin publicans, how his suggestion is going to effect that I entirely fail to see. I credit Deputy Davin with having a perfectly honest and impartial opinion on the subject, and I credit him also with having the interests of Leix and Offaly at heart. In fact, he very often tells us he is the only Deputy that is thinking of the political salvation of his constituency, but I assure him that if effect were given to the suggestion he is supporting, to make the whole of the Free State the compensation area, his constituents would not only get no benefit, but would lose considerably from it.
How many are to be wiped out?
The Deputy credits me with wonderful vision. I may have some vision, but, I can assure the Deputy, I do not pose as a prophet, whatever else I may claim to be. Obviously, the number of houses to be wiped out is altogether a question of the opinion of the local magistrate in the district as to whether there are too many licensed houses or not, and when the Minister for Finance or anybody else, lays down as ultimate that 4,000 houses are to be blotted out he has no control, whatever, over them, because succeeding people will have the administration of the Act, and it is quite possible that the local District Justices, in the exercise of their discretion, may decide, having heard all the facts, that it will not be necessary to blot out 4,000 houses. All these things are matters of pure speculation and depend upon what I may call the uncertainty of the human factor and the opinions which different people hold upon this matter.
There is just one matter that neither the Minister nor any of the other speakers mentioned in connection with this whole subject of area, and that is that one great advantage of having the area small is that the surviving licences, in that area, will have the right to appear and say why the compensation should not be extravagant. They have the right to be heard and I think that is a very good corrective.
As the Minister has pointed out, even amongst the trade, there is no absolute unanimity of view. Taking everything into consideration, I think a little study of the subject will prove that the fairest way you can give effect to this whole question of compensation is by having the area as small as it conveniently can be. Deputy Gorey mentioned a particular anomaly which would occur in a district he knew. One could repeat that kind of anomaly very frequently. I put it to Deputy Gorey that, if effect were given to this suggestion, that the county at large should be the compensating area, you would not get away from anomalies. You may have a publichouse on the edge of a county, but the bulk of its trade would be over the border, so that his argument falls to the ground. It is really beyond the wit of anybody to create an absolutely fair and water-tight scheme in which you could not find some fault. It is impossible to please everybody, but I believe that the smaller the area the fairer you will distribute the incidence of the surviving trade and the compensation which the State provides.
I certainly agree with the last speaker that it is almost impossible to devise a fair scheme whereby you could deal justice all round upon the basis we have been discussing. The Minister said that the area of benefit should be the area of charge. That is the principle which he has invoked throughout the whole proposals contained in this Bill for the reduction of licences. I think that the course of the debate this afternoon and during our last sitting has gone to show the fallacy of the basis that has been adopted. I have suggested, by way of an amendment, which I will not be entitled to move, that surviving traders should not be called upon to pay at least the whole amount of compensation, and the course of the discussion to-day has gone to show the difficulty of arriving at any fair apportionment, even as between the licensed traders themselves. But if you must take that principle, namely, that the survivors, who the Minister says will benefit, should be those who should pay, then I, for one, could not subscribe to the proposal that the surviving licence-holders in the whole State should be required to pay for the abolition of a certain number of licensed houses.
To suggest that anyone in Dublin, or even in Waterford, is going to benefit by the abolition of houses in Ballaghadereen or Sligo, is rather far fetched. We come to the question as to what area would be the fairest, apart from the State, having regard to the principle upon which the proposal of payment by the remaining licence holders is put forward. There is a great deal to be said for the proposal that the licence area should be the area presided over by the District Justice. There was one point mentioned by Deputy Gorey which struck me very forcibly, and that was that these areas in themselves are not really homogeneous or, as he termed it, rounded-off areas. They certainly have not been formed on any particular basis. On the other hand, you will have anomalies.
I agree with what Deputy Egan has stated, that even if you had county areas you would have anomalies, because, like every boundary, it always gives trouble and it is certain that there would be injustice on both sides of the boundary whatever that boundary was to be. I am, therefore, placed in the position that I am not in favour of any area at all. This is a proposal which is supposed to be for the benefit of the State and is supposed to bring about temperance reform, but in the same breath we are told that the survivors will benefit. I do not see why the survivors should be called upon to pay, and, personally, I am not concerned as to what actual area of payment there shall be, provided it is not payment by the survivors of the whole State at large—a proposal which, upon the basis adopted by the Minister, would be utterly fantastic.
I am opposed to the amendment, mainly because I think it would be grossly unfair to ask isolated traders, and traders in small villages, to pay for traders in larger towns. There is also another matter in connection with that, namely, that the consumption of drink in the various areas differs very much. During the past few days I endeavoured to find accurate figures and I ascertained, comparing the last three years, that in some towns the consumption of drink is 33 per cent. less, and in other towns it is 50 per cent. less. The amendment, therefore, in my opinion, would deal very unfairly with these people. There is a delicate matter I intend to touch. There has been cross fire between many parties regarding the extinction of licences. I take the rather peculiar view, from the information I have, that there would be more competition to get out rather than to stay in.
Why not put them out at once?
Why not allow them to go voluntarily?
They would get nothing for that, but now they are going to get compensation. I am against the amendment, and I believe I am speaking for the persons I represent almost unanimously when I say that.
I believe that the entire State should be the area of compensation. As the Bill stands, it would tax too heavily those who would remain in business. In rural areas, undoubtedly, there is very little intoxicating liquor consumed at present. I think if they were asked to pay the total amount of compensation it would finally mean more licences being abolished in the towns and rural districts. I suggest that if the Minister for Finance, in introducing his next Budget, reduced the prices of beer and spirits, these people might be able to bear the burden of compensation for those whose licences would be extinguished. I would also suggest to the Minister for Justice that the period of repayment should be extended to fifty years and the rate reduced from 7½ to 5½ per cent. That, I think, would be in the interests of the State and the country generally.
I am inclined to support the recommendation made by the Commission. I have not heard anything since I have been listening here to alter the opinion I formed during the sittings of the Commission. Anomalies will, I think, arise no matter what area is suggested. I was rather amazed to find Deputy Cooper speaking in a way that, I thought, was not quite as sensible as he generally speaks. The Deputy said that down in Co. Sligo there were four licensed houses in one village and four in another not far away, and that if these four in one village were wiped out, then the four that remained in the other village would not benefit. I think that is the merest rubbish. There is no authority going to wipe out four licensed houses in one village and leave four in an area perhaps a mile away. What the Commission had before their minds was in such a case that if four were shown to be redundant in one village two would be extinguished, and similarly two would be extinguished in the other. There would be no doubt the two that remained in village A would benefit, and also that the two that remained in village B would benefit.
A Deputy also mentioned the case of a publichouse on a border. It is quite obvious that a publichouse when extinguished on the border of a county will benefit people on the other side. So far as I am concerned, I have heard nothing to convince me that the recommendations of the Commission were not the right thing. The smaller area will be the more difficult, as the Minister has said, to administer, probably, but it certainly will cause very much less heart-burning. We had before us quite definitely and clearly that in certainly counties there was no redundancy, and no redundancy in certain towns, and we felt that it would not be equity to have the north of a county pay for the extinction of licences in the south, because the north would not benefit by their extinction. I have heard nothing to convince me that the recommendation of the Commission was wrong.
Deputy Davin, with his customary clear-sightedness, has gone to the core of this question in raising this point with regard to redundancy. All these proposals with regard to the abolition of licences are based upon the recognised fact that there is redundancy. The Report of the Liquor Commission gave figures which point to the proportion of one licensed house for every 235 inhabitants, and the recommendations were to reduce the number so as to have one licence for consumption on the premises to every 400 of the inhabitants. The reason why what Deputy Davin desires to find in the Bill is not to be found in the Bill—a strict definition of redundancy—is because such a thing is not possible to provide; but the closer study of the Bill would show Deputy Davin, and give him the opportunity of exercising his customary clear-sightedness, that there is in effect a practical definition, though not a formal definition, of redundancy. That is in Section 33. It is upon the wording of that section that I based the case I made on Friday, and base the case I intend to make to-day:
"A licence may be abolished under this part of this Act on the following and on no other ground, that is to say, that there are in the licensing area too many licensed premises and that the said licence should be abolished in preference to any other licence attached to premises in the licensing area."
"Considering whether there are or are not too many licensed premises in a licensing area the District Court or the compensation authority (as the case may be) shall have regard to the character (whether residential, agricultural, manufacturing or otherwise) of the licensing area, the number of licensed premises in the area in proportion to the population of the area, the volume of business done by licensed premises in the area, the amount of drunkenness in the area and any other matter which appears to the District Court or the compensation authority (as the case may be) to be relevant."
Therefore these guides are set out for determination of redundancy.
Will the Deputy point out where there is a definition of too many licensed premises?
Too many, as even Deputy Davin will see on a moment's reflection, is a translation of redundancy.
The clues by which the local officers shall be guided on the determination of the licensing areas in which there are too many are set out in the clause I have just read as determining which in that licensing area shall be extinguished and which survive. There are very clear indications given in (a), (b), (c) and (d) of sub-section (3). I rely upon that as assisting us in the solution of what is a practical problem—what shall be the area of compensation? Because licences are to be abolished compensation is to be given. That is the principle. Licences are to be abolished in a particular area because the District Justice has been satisfied, on the initiation of the Gárda Síochána in the district, that there are too many publichouses. Therefore the great, broad, fundamental principle in this Bill, I submit, is that in the interests of society, for social reformation in these districts where there are too many publichouses, because of too much drunkenness, or because there are too many facilities provided for the consumption of intoxicating liquor proportionate to the population, and so on, the numbers are to be reduced. Therefore the reduction of the number of licences is in the interests of the State and all its citizens. That is the first, and the prime, consideration. The remaining question is—inasmuch as compensation is to be given— equity demands it—from what pocket, out of what purse, shall the compensation proceed? It might well be answered that the compensation should be paid by the citizens at large, because it is the State as a whole that is to benefit by this reformative step.
On the other hand, using Deputy Davin's own illustration from the railways, is it not obvious that when the railways were amalgamated and the shareholders in one company became shareholders in the amalgamated company, that through that arrangement their interests as investors were protected? But here we take away the licence from the licence holder and convert the premises into ordinary unlicensed premises. The survivor gains in business from that. He gains, therefore, in a double capacity: first as a citizen, as a man and a brother, and he gains in regard to his business. It seems to me that on that ground the Minister's case is incontestable—on that ground.
But the next practical problem in this connection is: Can it be confidently stated that in a limited area, in view of all the developments in transport to-day, and the coming developments that time may provide, the trade lost by the suppressed houses must go to those in their own locality? I have hopes, and I believe the Minister has hopes, that the suppression of a large number of licensed houses will have the effect of promoting temperance and that the total consumption of liquor will be reduced through the absence of the facility. In any case, it is obvious that if there is a very narrow area, a very limited area of charge, we are not doing this strict justice that it is within our power to mete out by putting the compensation as a charge upon it in view of all the facts. I made the case on Friday, and the Minister and others made it again, that this is not a situation in which ideal or poetic justice is attainable. But circumstantial justice ought to be our aim, and if we clearly foresee that, it would not be fair to the surviving licence holders in a limited area to put the whole burden of compensation upon them; we must look for a wider area.
The State is too wide, unless the principle of making those who benefit in business bear a share be abandoned. I quite agree with the Minister that we are going over an irrelevant consideration when we talk about those who are best able to bear the burden being called upon to bear it. It is not a question of the rich aiding the poor, or the successful coming to the relief of the unsuccessful here, so much as the suppression of licences in an area which redounds by the very fact of suppression to the business value by an increase for those surviving. Let it not be forgotten, however, that the value of the licence attaching to the surviving house is enhanced, irrespective of the exact volume of increased trade. It, at any rate, is a licensed house in that area, and it is so much the better if it be one of a few.
It seems to me, therefore, that when we are trying to do substantial justice we should look for an area not so limited as to be productive of inequity and, at the same time, not so large as to desert the Minister's principle. I find that area in the Circuit Court area, and I would ask the Minister's attention to the provision of other sections of his own Bill. In Section 31, the very section that follows this, it is provided that there shall be a compensation authority for every licensing area, and such compensation authority shall be the Judge of the Circuit Court; and the Registrar for the purposes of this compensation adjustment is to be the Registrar of the Circuit Judge. In the passage which I read before, in Section 33, a consideration of whether there are or are not too many licensed premises in a licensing area was to have regard to a whole lot of conditions, better regard to which can be paid by the Circuit Court. There are eight Circuit Court areas. I am arguing for the county rather than the limited District Justices' area, if I cannot get the larger area of the Circuit Court.
It seems to me that if Deputy Davin's amendment were carried it would have the effect of providing in Section 32 this enactment: "That there shall be established a fund to be known as the Compensation Fund," and that will leave us simply with a national or State single fund out of which to draw compensation. It would leave untouched altogether the question of area of charge. It is merely productive of an alteration in the administration of the fund. Therefore, I submit that there is an argument from Deputy Davin's amendment so interpreted in support of the proposal that I take the liberty of making, that administration can be simplified, cheapened, made more effective, by having only eight areas to deal with instead of twenty-six, and even to have twenty-six is better than to have the District Justice arrangement. It is really productive of unification, because the Bill itself, as I have just pointed out, contemplates making the Circuit Court Judge the compensation authority for every licensing area. So I would, with all respect, submit that to the Minister.
Deputy Davin and others speak about the licensed trade and they say "the trade" as if they thought of it as a religious order. Is it necessary to point out that it is not a religious order? It is not bound by vows. The members, while interested in the wellbeing of their colleagues in the trade, are primarily concerned in their own interests. The Minister himself, while chiding Deputy Davin for his fallacy in speaking of the trade as if it were a homogeneous entity, himself asks for a demand——
Through their organisation.
The Minister is alive to the point I was about to make. The organisation, of course, functions for all the members, but it cannot put up a united demand if the members are conscious of disunion in their interests. Therefore, it is nothing to us, I submit, that the members of the licensed trade do not agree because they have rival discordant interests amongst themselves. The real consideration for us is this: We are promoting legislation in the interests of temperance, in the interests of better citizenship, and with a view to that we are calling for a reduction of the number of licensed houses, and not to be inequitable in our reforms we are providing for compensation consequent thereon. Then the next duty which falls upon us is to discover from whom we shall exact the compensation price. While I agree with the Minister that the first exchequer from which to try to draw the requisite amount is that of the people who benefit most by the reduction of the licences, I do submit that we must be careful not to act unfairly or harshly upon the survivors. It is all really a question of practice. It is not possible in the circumstances to have algebraic or geometrical formulae set out or put into operation with mathematical exactitude. That is entirely out of the question.
Deputy Egan did us a service in one portion of his speech, and I cannot sit down without paying him my tribute on that account. We were led to believe— a large body of the leading public at any rate allowed itself to form a wrong impression—that the Minister for Finance was going to abolish 4,000 publichouses. That was proclaimed in huge captions in most of the newspapers, but the fact is that the Bill proposes to empower any officer of the Gárdaí to apply to the District Court at the annual Licensing District Court to have the matter determined whether or not the licences of houses are to be abolished. So the public are mistaken in thinking that it is "off with his head," that instant execution is to be the lot of certain publicans, and that at the instance or at the initiation of the Ministry. The facts are quite other. The process is gradual—I regret it is to be so gradual—and it is at the instance of the officer in the licensing area.
What the Minister and I joined in saying about local pressure on District Justices applies mutatis mutandis here, because if the initiation of the proceedings before the court to have a licence abolished is to lie with any officer of the Gárdaí in that district need I dwell upon how easy it is to have the whole process of reformation suspended?
May I say that in practice it will not. In practice the superintendent will merely be the medium through which administrative policy is effected. The matter will lie in my Department, and it is in fact my Department, through the police and in consultation with the police, which will regulate the rate of extinction in the areas.
That was not disclosed before.
I do not agree with Deputy Baxter that it is the same thing. It is very much a different thing. I would rather see the initiative come from the area, provided the area was large enough. If the initiative is to come from above we get back to that bureaucracy which it has been our duty to declaim against so frequently in this House. We can have too much of a good thing. Central control—most admirable! Central initiation of the local steps to be taken with regard to the development or the betterment of a particular area —that is not quite so good. I think in the Minister's reply we have a very excellent argument provided, a new argument, for not leaving the area so small. In a large area, such as the Circuit Court Judge's area, the influences, I fear, would not be operative upon the officer of the Gárdaí, and the officer of the Gárdaí would be in touch with the best citizens of the district. He would be in touch with those who were nothing facts and nothing also what irregularities—the increase of drunkenness and the rest—were disfiguring the life of that community, so that, as a fair and a reasonable operation for reducing licences, I suggest it would come much better if it were worked by the public spirit and the observant character of the public spirited in a wide area.
Deputies have talked in favour of various areas—the State, the Circuit Judge's area, and the county. I have explained that my anxiety is to keep the burden of compensation in this matter on those who can really be fairly said to benefit.
If I get from any quarter, from the organisation of the licensed trade itself or through any Deputy who professes to have authentic information that he is expressing the trade's view, an assurance that another area is preferable—whatever that area be—County, Circuit Court, or State—then I am quite open to alter the provisions of the Bill in that respect, because any such alteration would not involve any very drastic redrafting of the Bill. But, in the absence of any intimation of that kind, I am not clear that I should depart from the present area, which is in fact the area for licensing purposes, the area of the District Court. If Deputies generally through the House had a strong preference, a strong view, in favour of the county, let us say, then that is a matter I would be prepared to meet and be prepared to yield to, if that view is supported by a majority in the Division Lobby, and I suppose the best way of ascertaining whether a majority favours anything is by a division.
In short, this is not an issue of principle or confidence or anything of that kind. It is a question of trying to do the reasonable thing, the fair thing, in the absence of any expressed intimation from the licensed trade itself as to the area it would favour. I suppose Deputy Redmond will not take the remark as having any offensive implication if I say that perhaps the nearest thing we have got to an intimation of the official licensed trade view is the view that he expressed, that there should be no area—in other words, that the surviving licensed traders should not be called upon to bear the burden of extinction at all. In that matter, of course, I am reinforced by the report of the Commission, but I am also reinforced by the report of another Commission, a Commission of the British Parliament which sat during the war to consider the question of State purchase and control of the liquor trade. It was apparently a very important Committee, a Departmental Committee. I have its report here, in which it discusses the question. It was appointed to inquire upon what terms the interest in Scotland concerned in the manufacture and supply of intoxicating liquor should be acquired by the State. There was another Departmental Committee for England and Wales. Then, at the end of the report, there are suggestions for the reduction of the number of licensed publichouses in Ireland, should the scheme of State purchase of the whole of the liquor trade not be proceeded with. They go on to say: "There are in Ireland 16,396 publichouses," and so on—that was for the whole of Ireland—"13,396 houses licensed for the sale of spirits to be consumed on the premises; 283 for the sale of beer to be consumed on the premises—that is one publichouse for every 263 inhabitants of the country. In England and Wales the number is 86,722, or one for every 415 inhabitants, and in Scotland one for every 695 inhabitants. To reduce the number in Ireland would be a great social advantage and would greatly lessen the labour of supervision by the police. Almost all the witnesses engaged in the trade were strongly in favour of such a reduction, and stated that in their opinion the owners of the remaining publichouses would willingly contribute to the cost."
Then they go on to make their suggestions:—"The Committee think that an amount equivalent to the whole, or at all events, to the greater part of the amount required for the purpose, could be raised by a charge on the amount of drink sold by each of the remaining publicans, one shilling per barrel on beer, and one shilling per gallon on spirits," and so on.
Before the Minister leaves that point, might I remind him of the attitude adopted by the trade at the Liquor Commission which was set up here. As one who was present during most of the hearing by that Commission, the attitude adopted by the trade in my recollection was that while they would be prepared to contribute, and while they thought that they should contribute something towards the compensátion of those whose licences were extinguished, they did not think that it was fair to ask them to contribute the whole, in view of the great public benefit in the direction of temperance that this reduction of publichouses sought to bring about.
This report is signed by, amongst others, Mr. Thomas O'Donnell, M.P., and there is a reservation of some length by Mr. O'Donnell, in the course of which he says:—"The alternative scheme of purchase which we have unanimously adopted seems to offer a splendid opportunity of at least making a beginning in dealing with the drink evil in Ireland. This scheme proposes to buy up at least half of the Irish publichouses—compensation in the main to be paid by those who remain, and the amount of compensation payable in each case is to be determined by the tribunal which it is proposed to set up. It may cost four or five millions, but it will be practically self-supporting, involving the State in little or no financial liability, while doing the community incalculable service. The publicans themselves, as shown in the evidence they gave, are whole-heartedly in favour of it. To carry out such a scheme, would be, to my mind, a national blessing, and in order to achieve it we should not deal in a paltry spirit with those whose licences are being taken from them. The drink traffic as it exists in Ireland to-day is one of the most serious hindrances to national progress. To lesson its ravages, to confine and limit this evil in the manner suggested in the alternative scheme, would be such a great national blessing that nothing should be done which would even remotely assist the fears of injustice or unfair treatment in the minds of the publicans. Human wrecks, physical and moral, which one sees in our cities and towns, the ruined homes, the squalor, poverty and decay, neglected, underfed and diseased children, all present a spectacle calling for immediate and radical treatment by a drastic extinction of small, badly-kept, isolated and remote publichouses and by the proper supervision and management of those that remain."
The thing I particularly want to call attention to is that in that report, as in the report of our own Commission, the principle is laid down as a desirable one to follow, that the compensation should be borne in the main by the surviving licensees. "It may cost four or five millions, but it will be practically self-supporting, involving the State in little or no financial liability while doing the community incalculable service." The principle of the survivor paying the beneficiary, the person who is available to take the business that hitherto went to the extinguished licensee is, I think, a fair principle, and in my selection of the area I am trying to adhere to that. Whether that would be very seriously disturbed by taking the county as a unit is a matter on which Deputies could, no doubt, talk at greater length than we have talked. I have a preference for the quite small area, the area of the District Court. But if Deputies prefer to take the county as a unit and to show that preference in the division lobby, I will accept that and embody it in the Bill. I doubt if we can add very much to what has been said on one side and the other. The point that Deputy Davin makes, that there is division in the licensed trade, shows that there is a recognition of a conflict of interest, but that conflict of interest is not in fact as real as some Deputies may think. Deputies may say it would be a fine thing to be fleecing the Dublin publicans for Mayo extinctions, or for extinctions in Cork and Kerry. But there is just this other side—that in the larger towns, in the more populous areas, the wealthier areas, if extinctions take place, the compensation will be heavier. If you extinguish half a dozen licensed houses in the City of Dublin the compensation for that half dozen might be as great as the compensation for a score of houses elsewhere. One might talk then of the iniquity of having the impoverished licensed traders of Mayo shouldering the burden for the extinction of substantial publichouses in other areas from which extinctions they derive no particular benefit. That is simply another side to it.
However, my position is that I do not feel there is any important principle at stake in this question of area except that I deprecate any wider departure from the provision in the Bill than would be embodied in taking the county as a unit. In the absence of an expressed intimation that that would be acceptable to the members of the licensed trade as a whole, I would simply say the administrative argument should then prevail. But, if Deputies wish to vote for a county unit as against the District Court area, I will put that into the Bill.
No argument on the part of those who agree with me in this matter seems to have convinced the Minister, and I confess that no argument used by the Minister or anyone who has spoken on his side has convinced me that justice will be done if we leave the section in the Bill as it stands. I contemplate the position where, as Deputy Gorey points out, we will have the man on the border; his licence is abolished and his trade goes, not into the District Court area from which his compensation is to come, but into the adjoining District Court area where the remaining publicans will not be asked to pay any contributions towards his compensation.
I agree with the point of view expressed, that it is not just to ask those who will not benefit from the abolition of a certain publichouse to pay their share of the compensation; but, on the other hand, if we are going to have, as eventually we must when this measure comes into operation, hundreds of publicans paying compensation for the abolition of other licences although they have got none of the trade, I think this House will have reached a stage when it will have to reconsider its whole attitude in this matter. I recognise that at the moment it is difficult to decide what is equitable, and it is particularly difficult for a Deputy like myself who has no idea whatever of the mind of the trade.
Contemplating how the Act will operate in the Saorstát, I feel that the opinion of the Dáil should be tested on this matter. At the moment all this talk about areas is very much in the air. No one seems to have any idea as to the number of licences which will be abolished in any particular area. The Minister has not given us any indication of the number of licences which he thinks may be abolished in a particular area. He probably has in mind a district in which he contemplates a certain number of licences will be extinguished, and, knowing the district, he feels that the District Court area would be the fairest from which to expect compensation for the abolition.
When the Act comes into operation in a county like mine, where there are, speaking from memory, thirteen licensing areas at the moment, I submit that not alone will we have the houses on the border of the county, which are doing trade with an adjoining county, but in each of the thirteen licensing districts we will have men paying compensation for the abolition of a licensed house the trade of which has gone entirely to another licensing area. That will be unjust, and it is only when application is made for the abolition of a licence that the storm will arise.
Does the Deputy realise that the very same thing will happen if this amendment is given effect to?
Yes, I recognise it will happen to some extent, but not alone will we have, in a county, houses on the border coming under the regulations we are setting up in this Bill, but we will also have involved a number of areas outside the county itself. That is where the difficulty arises. At the moment I am not able to satisfy myself what would be equitable in the matter. I feel that other Deputies, looking at the thing impartially, as I am inclined to, find the same difficulty.
Each man in the trade is, no doubt, hoping that he will be passed over by the officer and that there will be no application to have his licence abolished. He will not consider the particular aspect I have touched upon very closely until it comes to be a hard fact for him. When the application comes to be made for the abolition of a licence, and when the other traders are up against the proposition of paying compensation, then we will see the equities of this whole question. I do not know that even in this House we can get a considered view on a division that will be satisfactory when the Act begins to operate. I would prefer to have a position in which the trade would know exactly where it stood, and what the State was going to do. If the trade fully recognised the position then they could advise what would be fair and just in their opinion. If we pass this section as it is I have no doubt that we will have, later on, to make other provisions, because we will not be, in my opinion, regulating the compensation in accordance with the trade concerned in the licensed house that is abolished.
The Deputy will find that under any unit he takes he will have some anomaly.
Whether you take a county area, a district area or a summary jurisdiction area, you will have some anomalies. The county, in fact, examined administratively, is a very artificial unit indeed. I am looking casually, for instance, at Co. Cavan, and I find there it is broken up into a certain number of summary jurisdiction areas which overlap into other counties. Take Arva, for instance. The court which sits at Arva includes the district electoral divisions of Arva, Bruce Hall, Scrabby and, in Co. Longford, Moyne. The court that sits at Bailieborough taps three district electoral divisions from Co. Meath. The court that sits at Cootehill taps two district electoral divisions from Co. Monaghan. The court that sits at Dowra taps the business of two district electoral divisions from Leitrim. There, taking the summary jurisdiction areas of Co. Cavan, you find some districts of Longford, Meath, Monaghan and Leitrim covered. You have these summary jurisdiction areas overlapping into four other counties to a greater or lesser extent.
That, in fact, shows that the county as a unit is not perfection any more than any other administrative unit. It will not give you perfection any more than any other unit that you can possibly arrive at. In this matter of closing licensed premises, as long as you have any unit at all, you will have some publichouses being closed the business of which will tend to go over the border of the unit, rather than to remain inside it. You are thrown back on that substantial-justice ideal, as against perfection, that Deputy Magennis talked to us about. I believe the provisions in the Bill give you substantial justice. They do not give you perfection, but no other unit will. Neither the State nor the circuit nor the county, as an area, will give you that. I think the attitude I have taken of standing for the provisions of the Bill in the absence of some expressed preference from the licensed trade itself, is a reasonable one. On the other hand, if Deputies had thought out the matter and had, in majority, a definite preference for some other area, I should be prepared to yield to them. This is not a matter that one could reasonably make a question of confidence. I think that Deputies have not, in fact, examined the matter in detail, and I make this suggestion in order to give them time— that they pass the provision in the Bill as it stands, that they look into the matter between this and Report Stage, which will not, I think, be taken sooner than the 22nd of the present month, and that they discuss the question again on Report Stage.
I might as well state now my programme in connection with this Bill. The Committee Stage, I hope, will finish this evening. I have the Report Stage down for the 22nd instant, and I have undertaken that there will be a re-committal of the Bill Then the actual report motion—as distinct from the detailed discussion that will take place on the 22nd—I have put down for the 29th instant. On that date, having regard to the pretty liberal intervals we are giving between stages, I would expect to get the Fifth Stage through also, because I want this Bill with the Seanad in the first week of next month.
In the first week of April. Between this and the 22nd instant, Deputies could go into the question of area and I would not object to the matter being re-opened on the 22nd. I do not think there is a case made out for a departure from the provisions of the Bill, just now at any rate. Possibly the licensed trade might consider the question of area in the interval, and we might get one voice from their organisation as to where their preference would lie in the matter of the unit to be taken for compensation for extinction of licences.
I am quite prepared to accept the Minister's offer and to withdraw the amendment, if I have the leave of the House. I think it would be well that time should be given to the people vitally interested in this matter to discuss the problem.
I presume that the Minister's proposition as to a fixed maximum for compensation holds whatever decision is come to on this question?
Yes. No trader will be called upon in any one year to pay, by way of compensation, a sum greater than his licence duty.
The Minister has asked Deputies between now and 22nd instant to consider the issues involved with care. Deputy Johnson had a question on the Order Paper last week, addressed to the Minister for Finance, asking him to supply to the House the number of licensed houses of a certain valuation in the State. I believe that that is very important. It is absolutely essential to enable members to consider the matter properly. Would the Minister provide us with those figures? Could the Minister also give us the information which enabled the Minister for Finance to tell the Dáil that the intention of the present Ministry was to abolish 4,000 licensed houses? Would he give us the numbers for the counties? The extinction of 4,000 licences would mean that the average per county would be from 150 to 160. That is information which is necessary to a proper consideration of the question. That is the reason I deliberately stated, in speaking earlier to-day, that the proposal I put to the Minister had not been carefully considered. The Minister is probably better aware than any other Deputy that he will not get from the trade organisation a proposal as to what should be the compensation area. We all know perfectly well that the licensed trade is divided on this issue and that the traders of the city of Dublin take a different view from the traders of the remainder of the country so far as the licensed trade is concerned. Two members of my Party and I, with a number of representatives of other Parties, met representatives of the licensed trade, and it was quite clear from our interview that on this issue there is no hope of agreement. The Minister met a very big deputation of the licensed trade and he must know that it is impossible to get a united view on this question. It is for the House, rather than for the organisation representing the licensed trade, to make up its mind on this issue. If the Minister is to wait until a considered view comes from the licensed trade, then he will have to wait until after the General Election. I agree that it would be far better if the licensed trade could come to a considered decision and put up a unanimous proposal. I was glad to hear from the Minister—it is the first time we heard it from any Minister—that in matters of this kind he will, in the future, be prepared to take the view of the organisations or the persons representing the people concerned. That is a step in the right direction. If the licensed trade were prepared to put up a proposal then the House, I think, would automatically accept it.
I think that neither the House nor the Minister will gain anything by postponing the issue. There is not the remotest possibility of the licensed trade coming to a definite decision on this problem. Each area has its own problem, and it would be practically impossible to arrive at a common conclusion. I think the House should take a decision on the question, here and now, and finish it.
I would like to associate myself with Deputy Egan's remarks, because I am fully convinced that agreement on the part of the licensed trade is impossible. Deputy Davin suggested that the traders of Dublin and the traders of the other portions of the Saorstát were not agreed on this question, but Limerick, Cork and Waterford are in agreement with the licensed traders of Dublin. They are all members of the same organisation. I am not a member of that organisation. I never had the privilege of owning any licence except a dog licence. I think this question should be settled here and now. If it is not settled now, there will be the same argument on Report Stage. The same speeches will be made over and over again. Deputies who have not spoken will speak then and the Bill will, accordingly, be delayed. I should like if the Minister would reply to the question I put him to-day as to whether a licensed trader whose licence is being abolished will be allowed time in which to dispose of the stock he has in hands.
While the Deputy is talking a great deal about this Bill, he has not read it.
If the Deputy has read it, he has forgotten what he has read.
I think the Deputy need not worry about the stock on hands.
Section 35 reads:
(1) As soon as conveniently may be after the making of a reference order and in any event not later than the next following 31st day of December the compensation authority named in the reference order shall hear and determine the question whether the licence the subject of such reference order should or should not be abolished, and if on such hearing the compensation authority determines that such licence should be abolished the compensation authority shall make an order (in this Part of this Act referred to as an abolition order) abolishing such licence at midnight on the next following 30th day of September.
There shall be a minimum notice of nine months. The latest date on which an abolition Order would be made would be the 31st December, and that shall take effect only from the following 30th September, so that the minimum notice given a trader as to the termination of his licence will be nine months. I think most of them should be able to sell their stock within nine months.
I suppose when the time comes we can refer to this question again, but while we are on the question of the licensing area, I think the Minister's suggestion and view of the debate is a very commendable one. I would ask the Committee to adopt the course he has suggested, because that would leave the door open to any possible alteration on the line suggested in the debate. What I understood the Minister to say was to let the section stand as it is now. Deputy Baxter has expressed his willingness to withdraw the amendment and, at a subsequent stage, he will be prepared to consider suggestions from every quarter as to the advisability of keeping the area, as passed to-day, or substituting another one. I think the Minister's suggestion very commendable and one that should be adopted.
The Minister, in addressing himself to the point the other evening, stated there were districts in which there was no such thing as redundancy. Deputy Davin has asked for certain information. It would help everyone if that information were forthcoming, or even if we could get information as to districts in which there would be no reductions. If we had that information it would help us in determining how the situation could be best met. If we knew the exact areas in which there were to be reductions we would know how they should be treated. I submit that it is going to be very difficult to treat the areas without that knowledge.
It would depend on the Circuit Judge.
Will the Minister agree to give, as soon as possible, certain information asked by Deputy Johnson last week?
I agree with the Minister's suggestion, to postpone the matter until the 22nd of the month, when he intimates he will accept suggestions from the licensed trade organisation. I think that is a very fair suggestion, to which no one can object.
Question—"That leave be given to withdraw amendment"—put and declared carried.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Section 30 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
(1) There shall be a compensation authority for every licensing area, and such compensation authority shall be the Judge of the Circuit Court who is for the time being exercising jurisdiction in the county or county borough in which is situate the courthouse in which the sittings of the District Court for the transaction of licensing business for the licensing area are for the time being usually held....
I move amendments 63 and 64:—
In sub-section (1), page 14, line 52, after the word "judge" to insert the words "or the deputy or assistant judge."
Before sub-section (5), page 15, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
"(5) Every assessor to a compensation authority may be removed from office at any time by the Minister with the concurrence of the compensation authority for misconduct or incapacity."
Amendments 63 and 64 are simply official drafting amendments. The view is that the assessor should be removable for misconduct or incapacity. It will be observed, however, that the consent of the compensation authority, the Circuit Judge, is necessary. The assessor will be in close contact with the Circuit Judge to advise him on questions of value and to assist him in interpreting evidence of value. It is thought proper that the consent of the Circuit Judge should be obtained before removing the assessor.
Amendments put and agreed to.
Ordered—"That Section 31, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The following amendment in the name of Deputy Davin was not moved:
In sub-section (1), line 16, to delete the words "for every licensing area," and in line 17 to delete the words "of the licensing area."
Section 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(3) In considering whether a licence should or should not be abolished in preference to other licences the District Court or the compensation authority (as the case may be) shall regard the following matters as reasons in favour of the abolition of the licence in preference to other licences, that is to say:—
(a) that the volume of business transacted in the premises to which the licence is attached is small,
(b) that the structural condition and state of repair of the said premises is bad,
(c) that the accommodation in the said premises for customers is unsatisfactory in character or extent,
(d) that the business carried on in the said premises is not properly conducted,
(e) that the situation of the said premises is such as to render supervision thereof by the police difficult.
In sub-section (3) (a) at the end of line 49 to add the words "the business being judged on the average of a five year period, such five year period to be taken either from 1909 to include 1914 or for the five years immediately preceding the application for the abolition of the licence, whichever the licence holder shall decide.
The principle underlying this amendment is that, when the volume of business transacted on the premises to which the licence is attached is taken into account in assessing compensation, it should not be for one year, but on an average of five years. If the abolition of the licence is consequent on the belief that the business has only been of a certain volume it would not be equitable to base the compensation on one or two years' trading, because it would not represent the value of the business that might have been done several years previously, or, perhaps, that would be done in succeeding years.
It is generally accepted that, in a matter of this kind, it would be unfair to judge of any business on the trade done for one year. For reasons that we can all understand, there are always fluctuations in business. It may be argued, of course, that it would be cheaper to abolish licences at the present time than it would have been in 1918, but if we recognise at all the right of the owner of the premises to compensation we must ask ourselves whether the basis for discovering the compensation is fair or not. I do not think myself that the trade of one year would be a fair basis on which to assess compensation.
This section does not deal with compensation at all. It deals with the grounds for abolition.
The point is that if the volume of business transacted in the premises to which a licence is attached is small, that will be a reason for the abolition of the licence. If you are to take the volume of business done in one year, that, I submit, would not be a just basis on which to assess compensation. In that particular year the amount of business done might be very small indeed. There might be special reasons for that. For instance, there might have been sickness in the family or there might have been some contagious disease in the house. If anything like that occurred the volume of business done in that house during the year might be very small and might be out of all proportion to the amount of business done in previous years. Therefore, I do not think it would be a fair basis on which to arrive at the compensation. I think that instead of taking one year the justice, when deciding the question of the abolition of a licence, should be at liberty to take into consideration the amount of business done in the premises during, say, a period of five years.
I should like, if possible, to have a change such as that suggested by Deputy Baxter made in this Bill at a later stage. I have actual figures obtained in connection with the sales in a particular town in the constituency that I come from. I find that the sales for 1926 are 50 per cent. down compared with the previous years. Therefore, if the compensation in this particular case were to be based on the figures for 1926 apparently it would be much less than what I would consider to be fair or equitable.
The conditions set out in sub-section (3) (a) with regard to the volume of business is merely one of five factors stated as being relevant to the abolition or the non-abolition of a particular licensed house; simply a number of factors are stated as being things that may be put forward by the superintendent of the Gárda in support of his contention that, positing a redundancy, this is the most appropriate licence to extinguish. What Deputy Baxter mentioned — the smallness of the business — assuming it to be admitted that it is a mere transient feature, is something that could be put forward by the licensed holder that would be relevant if he could point to a different state of things two years back or to any reasonable prospect of a recovery of business. That would be a matter that both the District Justice and the Circuit Court Judge would, no doubt, feel called upon to consider. I do not see that there is a case for the acceptance of the Deputy's amendment. The smallness of the volume of business done in a particular establishment is regarded as a good reason, amongst others, for the abolition of a particular licence, and the point of time relevant to the issue is the time when abolition is proposed. It is very difficult to see what the conditions of a business of a particular establishment in 1909 have to do with the question of the abolition or the non-abolition of its licence in 1927.
It was an ordinary normal period.
In what sense is the Deputy using the word "normal"? If we are to say that the abolition or the non-abolition hic et nunc of licences throughout the country is to turn on the amount of trade they were doing in 1909, it seems to me that that is an extraordinary illogical basis to take, because we are not proposing to abolish them in 1909, but we are proposing to abolish them in 1927 or 1928, and so on over a period of ten or twelve years in the future. We cannot have retrospective abolition based wholly on the conditions prevailing as between 1909 and 1914. The licence holder will be permitted to plead that there is some particular cause, some special transient cause, for the smallness of the volume of business which he is doing in the present year. He is not ruled out by the wording of the section from pleading anything of the kind, but it is putting too much of a task on the administration and on the police to expect them to base a case on the volume of business done between 1909 and 1914 as a factor for or against the abolition of a licence in 1927 or 1930, or even 1937.
I think most Deputies will agree with me that there is not a case for the amendment. The Deputy talked a good deal about compensation, but this Section 33 has no bearing on compensation at all. It simply purports to set out the matters that shall be factors in determining the question of abolition or non-abolition of a particular licence holder as against some other licence holder. The first thing to ascertain is whether the number of licences in the area is out of proportion to the reasonable requirements of the public in that area. If you find affirmatively on that, that such excess does exist, then you move on to inquire, that being so, what is the most appropriate licence to extinguish. Surely one of the factors in assisting you to arrive at a just conclusion on that matter is the amount of business done by that particular house, the amount of business now being done, not the amount of business they did between 1909 and 1914, which is rather like "the flowers that bloom in the spring" in the matter of having nothing to do with the case.
I have another alternative covering the period of five years immediately preceding the date of the application for the abolition of a licence.
I have not much more use for that than for the other. It is the present that matters. If a licence holder strenuously objects to extinction of his licence and pleads that it is some other licence that should be extinguished, he will have every opportunity of satisfying the District Justice or the Circuit Court that the present position of his business must be regarded as transient, due to some special cause, as the Deputy indicated, contagious disease in his family or something like that, and that if he is allowed to survive he has reasonable expectation of being in a flourishing condition, compared with his competitors, in a year's time. All that would be relevant. There is not any fear that this matter of the extinction of a particular licence holder rather than some other will be arbitrarily decided. The District Justice must do a kind of prima facie hearing of the matter. He refers to the Circuit Court; the Circuit Court must satisfy itself (a) that there is a redundancy, and (b) that, positing redundancy, that licence is the most appropriate one to extingush and the licence holder will be allowed to plead his case there.
Would the circumstance of a married man with a large family, as against a man with no family, be considered?
No doubt a man would not be turned out for mentioning it, but it is not amongst the factors set out in the section. I do not see any case for amending the section along the lines of Deputy Baxter's amendment.
Would there be any consideration given to licensed traders who are prepared to surrender their licences? A great many traders through circumstances that occurred during the last five or six years——
That question does not arise on this amendment.
According to sub-section (1) of the section, licences may be abolished only on the one ground, namely, that there are too many licensed premises; and sub-section (3) provides that in considering whether a licence should or should not be abolished the court shall regard the matters mentioned as reasons in favour of the abolition of the licence in preference to other licences. I would like to have it clear that these would not be the only reasons that the District Court would consider. As I understand the section, it appears to me that these are merely illustrations of what the District Court might consider; they are not binding exclusively in the sense that the District Court can hear no other reasons.
There is no conflict between sub-section (3) and sub-section (1). Sub-section (1) lays it down that the purpose of this Part of the Act is to abolish licences on grounds of redundancy and no other ground. If the court finds there is not an excess of licences in the area, out of proportion with the requirements of the public, it will go no further, but if it finds there is such excess it moves on to consider what are the appropriate licences to extinguish. Sub-section (3) lays down —
"In considering whether a licence should or should not be abolished in preference to other licences the District Court or the compensation authority (as the case may be) shall regard the following matters as reasons in favour of the abolition of the licence in preference to other licences."
Then follow five pointers, five indications of the kind of matters that enter in as factors favouring the abolition of one licence as against another:—
"(a) that the volume of business transacted in the premises to which the licence is attached is small;
(b) that the structural condition and state of repair of the said premises is bad;
(c) that the accommodation in the said premises for customers is unsatisfactory in character or extent;
(d) that the business carried on in the said premises is not properly conducted;
(e) that the situation of the said premises is such as to render supervision thereof by the police difficult."
A certain amount of consternation has been caused in the country, since the introduction of this Bill, by two speeches, one by the Minister for Finance when he mentioned that the average compensation would be in or about £300, and another, which is worse still, when the Minister for Justice said that there are a great many licensed houses throughout the country which, at the moment, would be bought dear at £50. Here we are setting up a compensation authority. A District Justice or Circuit Court Judge is getting a quiet hint from the Minister as to what is a fair amount of compensation.
We are going through the farce of having a judge, whether a District Justice or a Circuit Court Judge, who has got the tip beforehand through the public Press that many of the houses would be compensated for in or about £50. It would not pay the expenses for the removal of the furniture if they have to go elsewhere to some other business. There may be a figure lower than that in the mind of the Minister. I think some such amendment as Deputy Baxter has moved is necessary if the quiet hint people have got is not to be acted on.
I can imagine a village where there are three houses and the officer of the Garda says to Paddy McCarthy that he will be up before the next District Court and the case will be put forward for the abolition of his licence on the grounds that the premises to which the licence is attached are small, and for the four other reasons given in vague language that could be interpreted in five different ways by five different judges, all conscientious men who are allowed to take different views.
The Minister talked about the ridiculous feature of Deputy Baxter's amendment in taking the business done for the period from the year 1909 to 1914. The Minister always laughs. I should like to point out the ridiculoús position the Minister finds himself in. When the Minister for Industry and Commerce was fixing the standard revenue in his Railways Amalgamation Bill he took the three pre-war years. Here again I can point to a difference in policy as between one Minister and another, both of whom belong to the Executive Council.
And in the same circumstances.
It would be out of order for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to make a speech on the Railways Act. Deputy Davin can say what he likes on that condition.
While the period covered is a very long one and dates back, I think that the Minister might agree that there should be some definite period for fixing the compensation. Undoubtedly the compensation will have something to do with the valuation of the premises as well as the amount of business done. But the business that was done during a period of years, or in one year previous to the introduction of the Bill, would be, I think, a fairly reasonable demand to put forward. I would like to see the Government make up its mind to abolish all these 4,000 houses at once. There would be much more security in the State if that could be done, and seeing that the Minister must have, on the publicans' map that he has marked for his private information, the houses in different parts of the country already fixed for abolition, I think the quickest thing for him to do would be to put his pen through them and fix compensation on his own basis, or on the average mentioned by the Minister for Finance.
I have no doubt that that is the way the Deputy would do it.
The section states: "that the volume of business transacted in the premises to which the licence is attached is small." If the case was made that the business was small at a particular moment I think the alternative would be that the man would try to prove that it was not small. That is the interpretation that would be put upon that by the ordinary man. I recognise that the Minister has given expression to a different interpretation, and of course the view he expressed covered what I have in mind. I am quite satisfied that the point on which the District Justice will decide is as to whether or not the business is small. Will the licence-holder be entitled to argue that although the business is small at the moment it might not be small generally? I am not satisfied that the right of the publican to make that case is sufficiently safeguarded, and I think it would be unjust if the position was that he could not make that case. I do not know if, with the Minister's interpretation, it will be possible to do that, but I would like to have it more clearly defined that the justice would permit that.
I do not really think that this amendment is necessary. There is nothing to prevent the publican whose house is threatened to be taken from urging any reasons he likes against it, and I would like to point out to the Deputy that this amendment might have an exactly opposite effect from that for which he is striving. I take it that the Deputy's idea is that fair play should be given, and I would point out that the clause only refers to the case of taking one licence in preference to another. But Deputy Baxter's amendment makes it compulsory. Does it occur to the Deputy that the publican might not want what he proposes, that he might not like to be compelled to refer to the five years' trade? I think if the Deputy reflects he will find it quite possible that the amendment might be so interpreted in practice as to bring about the exact opposite of what he is thinking. I really do not see that a person whose licence it is proposed to abolish is prevented from urging any reasons he wishes before the District Court as to why his licence should not be taken.
Amendment put and negatived.
On behalf of Deputy Johnson, I move:—
In sub-section (3), before paragraph (d), to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
"(d) that satisfactory arrangements are not made for the supply on the said premises of food and non-alcoholic drink at reasonable prices to any person demanding the same."
This amendment seeks to add to the pointers, as the Minister calls them, an additional one, to enforce the making of satisfactory arrangements for the supply of food and non-alcoholic drink in licensed premises. I have been looking over the paragraph in the Commission's Report which deals with the provision of food, and I find that they strongly advocate that arrangements should be made to compel the licensee to provide food and non-alcoholic drink at reasonable times and at reasonable prices. They go so far as to say that a refusal to do so should be regarded as ill-conduct on the part of the publican. For that reason it might be argued that this amendment is already included in that paragraph which refers to premises as not being well conducted, but I think it would be much better to state plainly and definitely for the guidance of all concerned that they are expected to provide food and non-alcoholic drink at reasonable times and at reasonable prices.
I am not prepared to accept this amendment in this Bill. A publichouse might be very large and might be doing very big business and yet might not have facilities for supplying food, and because of its value and size it might not be well to seek to abolish it. Therefore the grounds put forward are, in my opinion, scarcely grounds that should be taken into account in this connection. The idea underlying the amendment extends beyond the sphere of the abolition of existing licences. As the Deputy pointed out, in page 17, paragraph 13, of the Report of the Intoxicating Liquor Commission, reference is made to this matter, and it is unquestionably a matter that will have to be considered when the final consolidating measure including new conditions for the various kinds of licences, is being prepared. But I do not want to write it into the Bill as one of the factors determining the question of the abolition of one licence rather than another. I would prefer to deal with that matter in the consolidating Bill, which must determine what different kinds of licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor we are going to allow to survive and what conditions will attach to each of such licences.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
On behalf of Deputy Johnson, I beg to move amendment No. 68:—
In sub-section 3, before paragraph (d) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
"(d) that the sanitary accommodation in the said premises is unsatisfactory or inadequate."
This amendment provides that there should be proper sanitary accommodation in all licensed premises. I think the argument for that is obvious, and that there is no need to stress it. Whether the same point that the Minister made a while ago in regard to the other amendment would be applicable here, I am not in a position to say. It may be argued that the object of this amendment is included in paragraph (c), but if not, I would suggest that the Minister should accept it.
I hope the Minister will accept this amendment, because I do not think that it is quite clear in paragraph (c) that sanitary accommodation is included. In my reading of the draft report of the Commission I overlooked the fact that sufficient importance had not been given to the sanitary accommodation of licensed houses. Many of the witnesses stated in their evidence that the sanitary accommodation was of an extraordinarily bad kind, and in many cases was lacking almost entirely. In one case — I think I alluded to this on a previous occasion — we had evidence from one witness than in an establishment in Cork, a mixed trading house, there was an open urinal; that should not have been allowed. I hope the Minister will add some words to paragraph (c) that will make it clear that sanitary accommodation should be included, or else that he will accept this amendment in its entirety.
I consider the point raised in the amendment is amply covered by paragraph (c) as it stands, and that there is no need for anything more than simply giving instructions to the police that that be one of the matters that ought to be adverted to. It seems to me that when we speak as we do in sub-section (3), paragraph (c), that one of the conditions is "that the accommodation in the said premises for customers is unsatisfactory in character or extent," the question of sanitary accommodation is abundantly covered by those words.
I am not quite satisfied on that.
If the Deputy thinks that that wording, plus the intimation to the Superintendents of the Gárda that the sanitary accommodation is one of the matters that they should turn their attention to, is inadequate, then I do not object to writing into (c) the words "sanitary or otherwise," but I think it is superfluous. I really think that Deputies ought to apply their commonsense to the wording of paragraph (c) and ask themselves whether that wording, plus a Departmental instruction to the Superintendents, is not adequate to meet all the purposes aimed at.
I do not think the Minister should rely too much upon Departmental instruction.
I rely upon the wording about the accommodation.
I think if the Minister does what he suggests and inserts such words as "including sanitary accommodation" that would satisfy the position, and on that understanding I would be prepared to withdraw the amendment.
We will not take any amendment of paragraph (c) at the moment. We will have it properly drafted and take it next time.
I am not promising any amendment of paragraph (c), as I do not think any amendment is needed.
The Minister is relying on his Departmental instructions; that may be all right while he is in charge of the Department.
There is such a thing as continuity of policy even in matters of hygiene.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed—"That Section 33 stand part of the Bill."
I would like that the Minister would consider the words in sub-section (3), line 50, in reference to "The structural condition and state of repair of the said premises is bad." That seems to me to be taking us back to the question of structural alterations. If, in the opinion of the justice, the owners of ten or twelve houses may be men that are not in a position to make structural alteration or improvements so that the premises might not be in good repair owing to the want of finance on the part of the owners or to the high taxation imposed upon them for the past four or five years, can the licences be taken from these people? I should like to know if I would be in order at a later stage to move an amendment on this matter.
The Deputy can put down an amendment to sub-section 3, line 50, for the next stage if he wishes.
I would like to ask the Minister in reference to (e), sub-section (3) —"That the situation of the said premises is such as to render supervision thereof by the police difficult." A great many people are exercising their minds as to what these words precisely mean. Is it contemplated that isolated cross-roads houses are to be taken amongst those to be abolished? Does it mean that a house in a situation, say three or four miles from the local Civic Guard barracks would be construed as difficult of supervision? Would that be singled out as against a house in the town?
The Deputy will note it is the last of the pointers, and, in fact, its position represents the order of importance we attach to it. The difficulty of supervision should be a factor. If it was pointed out that it was more difficult to keep proper supervision over a house in a back street than other premises more centrally situated, that would be one of the factors that the Court would be entitled to advert to. On the question of isolated houses — the cross-roads and the wayside publichouse — there, of course, you have to consider just what the need for such establishments is, and all the time you have to be on your guard against creating the evil of shebeening while dealing with the evil of redundancy in publichouses. Because the house is a wayside house or a cross-roads house is not necessarily a cause for its extinction. It may be that in fact it serves a very wide area, at a long distance from any other town or village, and that there is a substantial population round about; there may be a definite need for such a place. If you wiped it out it might mean somebody there beginning by getting spirits, in large quantities, or dozens of stout, and running a kind of a shebeen, which is about the last thing we want to have going on in the country. So the wayside publichouse will always have to be approached from that angle. Is it necessary? Does it fill a definite local requirement? If it does, it must remain. If it does not, it ought to go, and a factor in the case is the difficulty of supervising it. But there will be many things to be considered besides the mere question of the difficulty of supervising it by the police. That factor is put in as one of many. A place in a back street, the difficulty of approach by the police, and so on, would be stronger causes for extinction than a centrally situated place in a main street.
A question has been asked as to whether these words were taken from the English Act. Practically twenty-three years ago protection was given to British citizens by means of a provision in liquor legislation lessening the number of ale houses. A provision was inserted in the English Act to the effect that in determining the matter of preference the difficulty of proper supervision by the police should be taken into account. Thus Great Britain has more than twenty-two years' experience as to how it works and can therefore tell us what it means.
I agree with the Minister when he points out that there are a great many wayside publichouses necessary. I have in mind a publichouse which is four miles away from any village and is on the high road from Cork to Tipperary. It provides the only accommodation in the place, and it has saved many a life along the road. I refer to the road between Kilworth and Ballyporeen. That house is essential in that particular area. I agree that there are a great many other publichouses which are also of use. There are, of course, a few that could be dispensed with.
The Commission had clearly before them the difference between publichouses situated in country districts many miles from a town. What they specially found was that the evidence was strongly to the effect that there are many small houses, particularly in the immediate vicinity of towns, which serve no useful purpose and which are often a menace to public order and a temptation to men returning from market. It was to such houses that reference was made rather than to houses situate in country districts. On the other hand, the Commission had before them the necessity of having country houses under police supervision. We had evidence about the laxity of supervision that existed and about the way in which watchmen were sent out to tell when the police were coming. We felt that a greater evil arose from publichouses situate in the immediate vicinity of market towns than from those in the really rural areas.
Under this proposal, a District Justice would have power to refuse the granting of a licence to any person carrying on mixed trading, and that would succeed in accomplishing under this Bill what was defeated in the Act of 1924. I think a provision should be introduced to the effect that this section would only apply in cases where there was a difficulty of police supervision. As the matter stands, you are applying it to every mixed trader in the Saorstát.
Section 33 put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 6.35 and resumed at 7.30,
in the Chair.
(5) On the hearing of an application under this section the officer of the Gárda Síochána making the application and the holder of the licence to which the application relates and no other party shall be entitled to be heard and adduce evidence.
On behalf of Deputy Everett I move:—
"In sub-section (5), page 16, line 21, after the word ‘relates' to insert the words ‘or the counsel or solicitor representing the said officer or holder.'"
Speaking for myself, I do not know whether this amendment is really necessary, but it would be well, perhaps, to have the position made clear in the Bill itself. Deputy Everett is of opinion that the sub-section as it stands means that the phrase, "no other party," excluded the solicitor from being entitled to be heard during the hearing of the application.
This amendment and the three following amendments, Nos. 70, 71 and 72 are, in my opinion, unnecessary and inapposite in a Bill of this kind. Parties having a right of audience may be represented by counsel or solicitor. These matters are usually dealt with in the Rules of Court. The existing Rules of Court do, in fact, enable to be done what the Deputy seeks to do. As regards amendment 72, it is clear from the Bill that as the party entitled to adduce evidence he will be able to put his assessor or valuer in the witness box to give evidence as to value on his behalf. Therefore, I submit, amendments 69-72, inclusive, are not necessary and are covered by the existing provisions in the Rules of Court.
I think, so far as Deputy Everett is concerned, all he wanted was an expression of that kind from the Minister to make the point clear. Therefore I withdraw that amendment and will not move the other amendments standing in his name.
Amendment 69, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment 70 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 34 stand part of the Bill."
Before we pass this section I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to what is, perhaps, an unintentional omission on his part. In this section, or the subsequent section, no provision is made for notice to be served of a reference order that has been made by the district courts. I would suggest that either a new section be inserted here, or after the next section, or else that another paragraph be inserted in this section to the effect that notice of this reference order should be gazetted at least within ten days of the time for the hearing of the application for abolition. I will give my reasons shortly for this proposal. There are others interested in licences besides the actual licence holder. In many cases there are mortgages and charges, and I think it would be only fair that provision should be made whereby public notice should be given enabling all those who think that they have claims, whether as mortgages or otherwise, to be in a position to state their case and make their claims, if any, at the time of the adjudication on the abolition. It is proposed, I know, in the subsequent section that no other party shall be entitled to be heard on the question of abolition, but I submit that in all fairness these parties, say a mortgagee, for example, an immediate lessor of the premises, should know that this abolition application was about to be considered and that his interests in the matter should be safeguarded.
I can consider between this and the next stage the point which the Deputy raises — the matter of notice, of publicity for the making of a reference order. In that connection, I want to safeguard my own position. It is not proposed to give anyone except the licence holder audience on the question of the extinction or non-extinction of the licence. I have in contemplation certain proposals enabling other persons to be heard on the question of compensation, and it may be argued that with a view to their being fully prepared for the compensation stage it is right that they should have full notice that proceedings leading up to compensation are initiated by a reference order from the District Court to the Circuit Court to have the issue tried of whether or not that licence should be extinguished. It is a matter I should like to look into, and I think it probable that I will be in a position to bring up an amendment.
I am obliged to the Minister for his reply. I understand that he does not desire to have others than the licence holder represented on the question of extinction, but on the question of compensation I would ask him to consider the position of other interested parties.
Section 34 put and agreed to.
Amendments 71 and 72 not moved.
Section 35 agreed to.
(3) The compensation payable under this section shall be:—
(a) the loss of value, ascertained as hereinafter mentioned, in respect of the occupation interest by reason of the abolition of the licence, together with
(b) if in the opinion of the compensation authority there has been a loss of value in respect of the interest of the immediate lessor by reason of the abolition of the licence, such loss of value ascertained as hereinafter mentioned, together with
(c) in any case such additional sum as the compensation authority shall consider reasonable in view of the fact that the parties receiving the compensation have to bear their own costs of all proceedings in relation to the compensation, and, in the case of the holder of the licence, of the reference order and the abolition order.
(4) For the purpose of the foregoing sub-section the loss of value shall be the difference between the following values, that is to say:—
(a) the value in the opinion of the compensation authority after consultation with the assessor, of the occupation interest or of the interest of the immediate lessor (as the case may be) in the open market on the day before the date of the reference order if sold, in the case of the occupation interest, with the licence attached thereto and all trade fixtures in the licensed premises on the said day and with clear possession to the purchaser, or, in the case of the interest of the immediate lessor, on the basis that the licence is subsisting and with the benefit of rights (if any) of the immediate lessor in respect of the licence, and
The following amendments were on the Order Paper:—
73. In sub-section (3), after line 27 and before paragraph (c) to insert a new clause as follows:—
"(c) such sum as the compensation authority shall consider reasonable as compensation for persons in the employment of the holder of the licence who have lost or lose their employment by reason of the abolition of the licence, together with."— Tomás MacEoin.
74. To insert in sub-section (3), before paragraph (c) a new paragraph as follows:—
"(c) to all persons employed in or about the licensed premises in connection with the sale of intoxicating liquor such compensation out of the compensation fund as the compensation authority may award."—Alfred Byrne.
Amendments 73 and 74 deal with the same matter and can be discussed together.
On behalf of Deputy Johnson I desire to move amendment 73. In the section power is given to pay compensation to the owner of premises as well as the licensee. This amendment aims at giving power to enable compensation to be paid to any employees who may lose their employment as a result of the abolition of licences. People employed in licensed houses as in other businesses have a certain amount of interest in the business, and if the owner and licensee of the premises are entitled to compensation it is only reasonable that those who lose their employment, and who might find it very difficult to get other employment, should at least be entitled to some compensation also.
This amendment of Deputy Johnson's and the amendment in my name single out as deserving of a share of compensation not only the owners of licences but the employees. I think the majority of Deputies will agree that if a law is introduced for the good of the general public and it deprives persons of their employment, those persons should not be deprived of their means of livelihood without some consideration from those who benefit. The Bill provides that compensation is to be paid for property. The property of the employees of licensed houses is their labour. Not alone is their labour being depreciated by this Bill, but their employment is being taken away in some cases. In view of the circumstances, I hope the Minister will favourably consider the amendment, and see that no injustice is done to any persons who may lose their livelihood as a result of the Bill.
I am not quite sure that compensation is provided for the licensees of tied houses. The first portion of my amendment deals with the ordinary employees in licensed houses, but in the South of Ireland there are a certain number of tied houses and the Bill provides compensation for the lessor. I have been informed that in a few of these houses the original owners, through trade circumstances, got into the power of brewers who have mortgages on their premises, and some of these men fear that if the Bill is left as it stands the lessor, otherwise the owner of the bricks and mortar, will get the full compensation, although the Dáil has admitted and the Minister has admitted and used in debate in furtherance of various sections of the Bill that the licence was an asset created by a monopoly. If the manager of one of those tied houses was the original licensee, and the licence is as valuable as the Minister has stated, the brewer who has a claim on the house should not be put in a position, because he has a mortgage on it or is the lessor, to throw the licensee and his family and others who are employed there aside without some consideration.
Might I suggest to the Deputy that the next section, "Allocation of Compensation," is perhaps the section on which the matter that he is now discussing would most appropriately arise—Section 37.
It does not altogether clear up the position regarding tied houses. I ask that the licensee of the tied house and his employees should get some consideration.
This amendment deals with employees.
That is the point I should like to get cleared up.
The point that I should like to get clear from the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is whether, in connection with an amendment dealing with employers, we are at liberty to discuss people other than employees.
It has been ruled that the two amendments are to be taken together. My amendment only differs from Deputy Johnson's amendment by one word, "licensee."
We are dealing with employees of licensed houses.
You, sir, have ruled that the two amendments are to be taken together. In my amendment I have the question of licensee added on to employees. If I am out of order in raising it now, it is not my fault, because my amendment says that compensation shall be paid to licensees.
The Deputy's amendment deals with persons employed in or about licensed premises in connection with the sale of intoxicating liquor. The point I am making is that the tied house licensee is not an employee and therefore it should not be open to us to discuss him under either of those amendments, both of which deal with the question of employees.
With your permission, a Leas-Chinn Chomhairle, on the next section I will repeat the case I have made for the licensee of a tied house. I take this opportunity, however, of supporting the amendment asking for compensation for those who may lose their employment as a result of the passage of this measure.
These two amendments raise the question of the position of persons employed in a licensed house, the licence of which is extinguished under this part of the Act. The first point I would like to make in discussing this question is that I regard it as being largely, if not entirely, academic. The kind of house that will disappear as a licensed house under the operations of this Act, is not the kind of house that employs paid labour. It will be the house that is run by a proprietor and his family and so on, the smaller, cheaper establishments in the country. I simply want to clear the ground by that remark.
I agree that the point is relevant, that the question raised by the amendments does arise, but I regard the matter of disemployed labour as a result of the operations of this Act as largely academic. I think that the degree of disemployment that will be occasioned under the operations of this section will be negligible, if it exists at all. Deputies may reply that they have no guarantee as to that, and I am accustomed to the reply that if it exists at all that this question is there—the question of the position of the individual who finds himself out of employment as a result of legislation passed by the Oireachtas. Well, we ought to try to clear our minds on the principle of that, and I would like to put to Deputies a few cases which may be regarded as roughly analogous.
When the duty on tea was abolished by the Minister for Finance many people in the Customs service, not established officers but people employed in the Customs service in connection with the tea tax, became redundant. There was no longer work for them to do. They had been employed for a great many years as long as that duty was imposed but when the duty was removed these people became unemployed. They made representations to the Minister for Finance stating that as a result of the abolition of the tea tax they found themselves under notice and that they considered it a grave hardship, but the Minister did not feel that he was called upon in his capacity as steward of the national finances to pay any compensation to those persons who found themselves disemployed as a result of the alterations in our fiscal arrangements. I am informed that under the betting tax many people have lost employment —book-keepers, clerks, and people who were colloquially known as "touts" and so on.
May I remind the Minister that betting was not legal and that those men of whom we are now speaking are engaged in honourable occupations?
So that we may not get into any complications in regard to honourable callings I want simply to keep to the merits of the case—whether the people who find themselves out of employment as the result of State action, legislative or administrative, are entitled to look to the State for compensation. That I think will be regarded as a simple statement of the question that arises. I am pointing out that quite frequently as a result of administrative changes, sometimes as a result of legislation, people do in fact find themselves unemployed and that is regarded as simply an almost inevitable result of any change. One does not go seeking out the question of whether people in casual employment, having no particular contract of service, lost employment as the result of the changed conditions. The Dáil should think over this matter very seriously, whether it is right to impose on the licensed trade the duty of compensating persons in casual employment in a house the licence of which is abolished under the provisions of this part of the Act. I undertook to a deputation that waited on me in this connection to look into the matter. I have looked into it; I have endeavoured to find any precedent for what is sought here and I have been unable to find it. So far as I know, countries that went the whole hog in this matter of abolishing licensed houses paid no compensation either to the licensed holders or their employees. They simply wiped them out.
Does that arise— does the question of cocaine arise in connection with this matter of unemployment? I am not discussing the merits of prohibition. I am discussing the facts in so far as they have any bearing on this question of compensation—that so far as I know, in the countries which simply wiped out the licensed houses altogether, there was no compensation paid either to the licensed holder or to his employees. We have not taken that line. We have regarded the licences as being, to some extent, property. We have made provision in the Bill for compensation. Should one go further and say that the maid and the yardman and any other persons in casual employment in and around licensed premises are also to be compensated if, as a result of the extinction of the licence, loss of employment ensues? Deputies ought not just jump too readily to the conclusion that the right thing to do is to take the course embodied in these two amendments.
It is a matter that requires very careful consideration. It is a matter that will unquestionably be quoted as a precedent and I am very doubtful as to the propriety of accepting—even in principle I certainly would not accept them as they stand—the suggestion put forward in these two amendments. The girl that minds the child and occasionally runs in and serves in the bar: is she to receive compensation under the Act as a result of the abolition of the licence?
The Minister does not propose to abolish the children, does he?
The Deputy if he wants to interrupt should endeavour to interrupt intelligently. If, as a result of the extinction of the licence there is a loss of employment— the yard man, the maid-servant, any of those persons employed in and around the house—are they to be compensated if under the operations of the Act their employment ultimately ceases? Is it fair to ask the remaining members of the licensed trade to undertake a burden in respect to loss of casual employment of that kind? We were told from the Labour benches —Deputy Davin told us—that we were only expediting a process that was already at work, that in fact if we only let well-enough alone a large number of licensed houses in the country were going to disappear in any case and that it was very questionable whether we were justified in interfering to expedite this process of decay of the licensed trade that was already in full course. We were told that we were undertaking an unnecessary expense in interfering. Very good. Suppose then that under the normal progress of this process of decay, people went out of business, gave up the ghost and said, "There is nothing in the trade under present conditions," and their employees lost their employment, what would happen? There would be no compensation. But we are told that we would be only simply expediting the process already at work and that we were enabling people to get out with compensation who would get out, at any rate, with or without compensation in the course of time. Now I question very much whether there is an obligation in connection with casual personal employment of this kind such as one might recognise as existing in an organised service like the railway service, and which inevitably, if Deputy Davin comes in, will be quoted in this connection. I would point out, however, that in the matter of the railway employees who lost their employment as a result of the amalgamation a minimum of five years' service was laid down.
Is the question of the duration of a man's employment to figure at all in this connection? Is the question of how long he had been there and what real expectations he had of remaining there to be considered, or whether he was not subject to variations in the conditions of the trade, whether, in fact, his employment was not of a very transitory and precarious nature, at any rate? All these various considerations arise and I feel that they deserve the consideration of Deputies before they lightly decide that because we proceed to prune the number of licensed houses in the country we should take on an obligation to persons employed in and around such houses. What is the basis? The railwayman's position was that he had a specialised, kind of employment, that he could not be said to be particularly fit for other employment if he had been a long time employed in the railway. But in this country where licensed houses are, for the most part, in very great proportion, mixed houses, the bar hand is in reality a grocer's assistant as well. He is not a bar-hand simpliciter. He is really a shop-hand, an assistant who can turn his hand to any form of retailing.
There is one other matter to which I want to call attention—it arises in connection with Section 35—that is the extremely long notice which even as a minimum the employer and employee has of the change that is coming. The very minimum notice of the extinction of a licence under the provisions of sub-section 1 of Section 35 is nine months. The sub-section reads:—
"As soon as conveniently may be after the making of a reference order and in any event not later than the next following 31st day of December the compensation authority named in the reference order shall hear and determine the question whether the licence the subject of such reference order should or should not be abolished, and if on such hearing the compensation authority determines that such licence should be abolished the compensation authority shall make an order (in this Part of this Act referred to as an abolition order) abolishing such licence at midnight on the next following 30th day of September."
So that, at a minimum, there is nine months' notice of the coming extinction of the licence and one knows that the normal case will involve a notice of a year and upwards. Now, having regard to that, Deputies will, I think, agree that the case is very much weaker. The employer has a year's notice that he is going to lose his licence on the next following 30th September. The employee has a year's notice of the change that is coming about; and he, presumably, will be in a position to ascertain how his position is affected by that forthcoming change. Generally, there is an opportunity for both parties to adjust themselves to the position.
That is just about all I have to say on this amendment, except to re-assert what I said in commencing, and that is that I believe that this question does not really arise in connection with the extinction of licences that will take place under this part of the Act, because the licences that will be extinguished will be licences of small houses through the country, houses that are run by the proprietor and his family, and that are not run by paid or employed labour at all. The principle is there for discussion. I will regard the discussion that takes place on these two amendments as being for the most part academic.
I do not believe the matter will arise in any real proportion at all in connection with Part 4 of the Bill. In so far as it does arise, I believe that a year's notice of the change meets the situation, and gives people time to look around for alternative employment and to adjust themselves to altered conditions.
One thing has been accomplished by these amendments: the Minister has given an indication as to the class of house that is going to go out. The houses that are going to lose their licences are the small houses, the houses run by men and their families. They are going to be deprived of their means of livelihood as against the big trader who carries on an extensive business with a hardware, drapery and provision store. The Government are going to take the licence from the small man simply because they do not want to make any provision in the Bill to give compensation to employees engaged in the large shops. If the Minister will refer to the Local Government Act he will find that when putting it forward the Minister for Local Government and Public Health had amendments carried under which the employees of local authorities—the employees of county councils and the clerks of district councils—were entitled to compensation.
They were pensionable, anyway.
You pension a man who has worked in an office for ten years, but in this case you do not consider any compensation. Take the case of a man who may be employed as a foreman in a shop. He does office work just the same as a clerk, in addition to other work in the shop, and yet you refuse to give him superannuation, compensation or gratuity of any description. One is a clerk in an office and the other is a man behind a counter. It is not fair to make any distinction and the Minister should consider inserting something in the Bill which will entitle an employee in the trade for over ten years to some compensation.
Will the Deputy kindly repeat that?
An employee in a licensed premises for a period of ten years and over should be entitled to compensation. By this measure you are making it necessary for an employer to give up his means of livelihood and it is only just that that man's employees should be compensated. In other measures you specify that any person with ten years' service is entitled to two-thirds of his salary by way of superannuation. Why not have the same applying in this case?
It is all very well for the Minister to say that a shop assistant loses practically nothing by being dismissed —that as a grocer's assistant he may act for one hour in the bar and for another hour behind the provision counter, and so on through the working day. But he is still a man who had to serve three years to the trade and in a very large number of cases parents had to pay a substantial fee so that the boy could get such a position. They did not want him to go out on the street to break stones; they did not want him on the farm tilling the land; they preferred to see him in a respectable position and possibly in time he might succeed in purchasing a place of his own, becoming an independent trader.
If a person is working behind a counter for ten or twenty years, that person is not capable of performing any other duties for the purpose of earning his livelihood. Those people who lose their positions through the abolition of their employers' licences are not to receive any compensation and in that case it is up to this State to provide suitable employment for them. It is all very well to say they have nine months' notice.
A minimum of nine months.
Notwithstanding that a man may have been behind a counter for twenty-five or thirty years, after nine months' notice he has to go without any compensation. There is no further use for that man. The Government he probably helped to put in power find it necessary to cast him on the scrap heap as a piece of wornout machinery. The man behind the counter must be of some service to the State. To my mind he is as useful to the State as persons in an office or in a railway station. They are public servants and the man behind a counter is also a public servant; he is a servant of the public and it is his duty to attend to the public.
In ten out of every fifteen cases of people who lose employment they will not be capable of being employed in any other position. Later on when the 4,000 publichouses will be abolished you will find a large number of unemployed will have to be attended to and it will be necessary to vote an extra amount of money in order to enable those people to keep body and soul together. If you agreed to give them some compensation, they would probably be able to carry on some little business in the way of a huckster's shop. Otherwise the result will be that they will have nothing. If any members of the Government had served their time to the licensed trade and had spent 20 or 30 years behind a counter and if this Act were introduced by England, without compensation, they would very soon flock into a union for protection. Why not do for others what they would have done by themselves? We are told that the trader would have to bear this compensation for the employee out of the compensation received. That would be an easy matter to settle. I hope the mover of the amendment will test the feeling of the House, so that we may see how many members of the Farmer and Government Parties are really interested in labour. The Deputy who votes against this amendment has no sympathy with the worker. This is a question of the worker and the worker alone. These men should be put in the position of maintaining themselves, even if they are not able, on the compensation afforded, to maintain their families. The officers of the Boards of Guardians and the Rural District Councils, which were abolished, were compensated. A boy who walked straight from school into one of those offices and who had spent five years in the service was entitled to a gratuity. If he had spent ten years in the service, he was entitled to two-thirds of his salary and emoluments. Similar provision should be made for the assistant who loses his employment under the present circumstances.
There appears to me to be two great difficulties in the way of giving effect to the amendments of Deputies Byrne and Johnson. It would, first of all, be exceedingly difficult to define what unemployment exactly is. You might have different degrees of unemployment. The position of the man who stands behind a counter selling liquor, and who has never done anything else, is quite clear. But suppose he is a man who has performed half a dozen other duties, and who has been selling half a dozen other kinds of goods—as happens more often—how are you going to deal with him? We might go a little further and ask what about the brewers' draymen or the distillers' draymen who, instead of going five times to a house, have only to go four times? Suppose, then, he is an employed carter; his horse may be idle for one day a week and his oats and hay may be cut down. You can arrive at all kinds of indirect disemployment, and it would be very difficult to give effect to a provision of this character. Secondly, there is the question of precedent. You would be establishing quite a new precedent. It might be argued that State action had in the past closed down breweries and distilleries, as it has. Taxation and other State action have been frequently contributory causes to the closing down of breweries and distilleries and other establishments. Are we to admit the principle that if a premises is closed down, directly or indirectly, by any form of State action, every employee is to be compensated? It would, I think, be very difficult to give effect to any such provision. Then, would you contemplate making this sort of legislation retrospective? Would you go back for years and give a right to all sorts of people disemployed, owing to any sort of State action, to compensation? Furthermore, what is to happen if a man who has been compensated steps into another job in the morning? Would Deputy Lyons support that kind of compensation?
I spoke on behalf of the man who has been working, say, 20 years in a shop, and who is unfitted for any other employment. If the employee be very young, and if he walk into another job in the morning, that is a different proposition. That is why I asked the Minister to accept a ten-year term.
Does the Deputy know any people who got gratuities or pensions who did not seek to get other jobs—civil servants, for instance, who retired under the Treaty?
I do not agree with Deputy Lyons that a person who has been employed for a number of years in a publichouse is, ipso facto, unable to take up any other work. That is not my experience. They usually perform quite a number of duties. The vast majority of assistants in the trade in the country, as I know by experience, handle all sorts of goods. They are mainly employed by mixed traders. If men who have held positions for 20 years are disemployed, there are a great many employers who would be only too glad to obtain their services. I certainly should like to have a list of men of that class. I do not think that that type of man would have any difficulty in obtaining other employment. Although the principle may, prima facie, seem all right, it would be practically impossible to give effect to it.
I gathered from the speech of the Minister this evening that very few houses which are affording employment will be abolished at all, because one of the fundamental reasons for abolition will be lack of trade or the bad condition of the house. Respectable assistants, with 20 years experience, would not be found in such houses. If there are such men, I think they are worthy of consideration. But I think there will be very few of these houses abolished at all. It should, therefore, be very easy for the Minister to make allowance for the compensation of any of these assistants who are disemployed. It may arise in a few cases but the demand on the Minister would not be very great. I will vote for Deputy Davin's proposition.
I find myself in a difficulty, owing to the absence of Deputy Johnson. I should be sorry to take advantage of his absence in dealing with this amendment. But I should like to ask, if it is proposed to compensate persons who are deprived of employment through the operation of this Bill, what about the persons who are being disemployed in connection with many other measures? Reference has been made here to the betting tax. There have been more persons put out of employment in connection with the betting tax than will be disemployed in five years in connection with the Licensing Bill.
They were motor drivers—persons you represent. Deputy Byrne voted against the Betting Bill. I am against the amendment, on the principle that if you are going to give compensation to any persons who are disemployed under this Bill, you will have to compensate a very large number of motor drivers and innumerable persons disemployed by reason of the betting tax.
This evening the Minister publicly welcomed a statement from the licensed traders on another issue, concerning licences that are to be abolished. The Minister met a deputation representing the Grocers Assistants' Association that put before him the effect this Bill will have on the employment of their members. If I am correctly informed, the deputation told the Minister that if the two hours' closing was insisted on in the four cities it will involve the unemployment of 130 assistants. In the closing stages of the speech he has just finished the Minister stated that the licences likely to be abolished were those attached to houses run by employers and their families. I can understand why Deputies like Deputy Beamish have been so enthusiastically advocating and supporting this Bill, both inside and outside the House. There are other people in the same fortunate position as Deputy Beamish. If I am correctly informed, Deputy Beamish will be in the happy position, when this Bill passes, of having 30 or 40 tied houses in Cork wiped out, with the consequent elimination or dismissal of one and perhaps, in some cases, two employees, thereby reducing the overhead charges of his business at the expense of local private traders. What applies in the city of Dublin, and in the case of Deputy Beamish, clearly applies elsewhere. There will be unemployment caused as a result of the passage of this Bill.
I do not like to interrupt the Deputy, but I do not like to have a Deputy attacked behind his back.
I am sorry if Deputy Lyons, or any other Deputy, looks upon the statement I made as a personal attack on any Deputy.
Suspicion haunts the guilty mind. The unemployment that may result from the passage of this Bill will be deliberately created as a result of State action. Even though a man may be a small trader, the Bill comes along and wipes out his employment, as well as that of his family. That is doing away with employment in the same way as the employment of 130 assistants will be done away with if the two hours' closing of licensed premises is insisted upon. I hope Deputy Shaw is not looking for a reprisal on members on these Benches, simply because of the attitude of any one Deputy with regard to the Betting Bill. I hope he will take a more impartial view of the matter we are discussing, and not try to get his own back because someone did something he did not like.
The majority of the Deputies on the Labour Benches voted for the Betting Bill. When they did that they voted for the unemployment of motor drivers.
I am prepared to admit that ordinary grocers' assistants engaged in pulling corks out of bottles in publichouses could not be regarded as being in skilled employment. What are the facts? The ordinary grocer's assistant or the young man who comes from the country is generally the son of a respectable small farmer. Where there were too many sons for the farm they had to go to America, or join the R.I.C. or become grocers' assistants in the city. The father paid a fee for the son who came to Dublin to serve his time at what he regarded as skilled employment. The idea of that young man's father and relations was that he would eventually become the owner of a shop. This Bill has closed that avenue from the country to the city, and puts out of the mind of grocers' assistants the idea of ever owning a house in Dublin or elsewhere. That avenue of remunerative employment is closed for the future. As that is the result of State action, I think the Committee should recognise that there is an injustice done to the individual concerned.
Deputy Egan amused, or rather amazed me by asking me what would be the attitude of Deputies regarding compensation paid to individuals who would find other employment a few days afterwards. Is not Deputy Egan aware that the taxpayers of this State have given very fine pensions to civil servants who served the British Government, retired under the Treaty, and since then have come back into the service of the Free State Government? They are drawing salaries in addition to their pensions.
Yes, but that was one of the conditions of their employment.
It was not a condition that they should get employment from the Free State Government which they refused to serve. No man was to get a pension unless he deliberately refused to serve the Irish Government. That was the condition to get a pension under the Treaty. Deputy Egan must know that many of these men in the Civil Service and Garda Síochána have pensions under the Treaty. There are Deputies in this House in receipt of pensions from the State. Probably Deputy Egan would not take exception to that, because he voted for the measure that made it possible.
Does the Deputy say that Deputies in this House are in receipt of pensions from the British Government?
That was the inference from the Deputy's previous remark.
As Deputy Cooper must know, there are Deputies in receipt of pensions under the Military Service Pensions Act for which Deputy Egan voted.
Under an Act of the Oireachtas.
For which Deputy Egan voted. The House has got to make up its mind whether or not young men who had certain careers cut out for them, but who will now, as the result of the passage of this Bill, be thrown on the scrap heap, are entitled to compensation, and whether that compensation is to come from the people whose houses are closed or from State sources.
Would the Deputy define the word "certain" in that connection? Does he mean a particular career or an assured career?
When I mentioned the word "certain" what I had in mind was that a certain number of people would be thrown out of their present employment and that their future careers in a particular business would be practically destroyed. So far as the Bill affects their promotions or their getting into more remunerative positions, the House is called upon to vote on that, and it will be interesting to read the records afterwards to find out how Deputies can vote for the elimination of a certain number of tied houses at the expense of private traders, thereby reducing the overhead charges of the parties concerned, and now refuse to give compensation of any kind for unemployment that may be caused as the result of the abolition of those particular tied houses.
I would have no pre-occupations whatever with regard to having my vote examined on this amendment afterwards. It seems to me that the first question we have to consider is, whether the persons referred to in these amendments who, I presume, are largely bar tenders and assistants, have in their present positions any inherent right or even an expectancy to a pension by the loss of their employment. In the ordinary course, say, a trader goes out of business. He has made enough money to enable him to do so, and that means that he disemploys his assistants. The question is, are they entitled to any pension or have they any expectancy of getting one? Is it any part of their contract of employment, or is it in any way a tradition in the trade? I am not aware that it is, and I certainly think it would be imposing a grave injustice, both upon the traders who will have to pay the compensation and the State, if any attempt were to be made to create a new class of pensioners in this country.
The principle of the amendment is sound. I do not know that the Minister has been quite fair in stating that this is purely an academic question. I heard the spokesman for the bar assistants give figures as to the number of assistants who are likely to be dismissed if this part of the Bill is carried through. In Dublin City alone there is the possibility of 130 men being dismissed. The man who made the case seemed to me to be making a very reasonable one and he did not appear to be desirous of exaggerating it in any way. It seems to me that if in one area of the State 130 men are likely to be dismissed, the matter is not quite so simple as the Minister seemed to indicate.
Let us be clear on this. Is the Deputy talking now of the operation of Part 4 of the Bill? There are two different things to be considered, and I ask the Deputy to allow me to draw a distinction. I was told that under the two hours' closing down a certain number of assistants were likely to find themselves unemployed in Dublin. An estimate was given which I did not accept. Deputations say many things to me that I do not accept. I take it that Deputies will not resent that remark. I did not accept that estimate for a moment. In any case, I distinguish between persons unemployed as a result of Part 4 of the Bill and persons unemployed as a result of any pruning of hours or any modifications of the licensing laws that might take place under any portion of the Bill. What I undertook to look into was the question of unemployment directly due or alleged to be directly due to the extinction of licences, because that is a thing apart. I have looked into that very carefully in the interval, and as a result of my examination of the matter I am not satisfied that there is any obligation on the State to make compensation in that matter, and I am not satisfied that I would be doing a proper thing by accepting Deputy Johnson's amendment.
I do not accept the Minister's view on this question. Deputy Egan, in dealing with this case embarked on a trend of argument which, to say the least of it, was the most ridiculous I ever heard put up in this House. He asked us to visualise the case of a man with half a dozen other jobs, the man who spent part of his time helping at the grocery counter, some other part of his time at the drapery counter, and so on. It seems to me that if a man is so well employed as that there is not much possibility of his losing his job. All I can say is that, in my opinion, that was an imaginary case and one not likely to arise at all. The Deputy also spoke about the brewer's drayman and other classes of people having some indirect connection with the business. I do not know that anybody is trying to make a case for that kind of person. I think that is not the type of case that is intended to be covered at all under this amendment.
The principle involved in the amendment is to give some compensation to men at present engaged at this work, and who have no other means of earning a living, men who are dependent for their regular employment on this business, not men in the casual employment that the Minister mentioned.
There can be no question about it that a number of people are permanently engaged in this work, and therefore if they are disemployed as the result of the passing of this Bill the principle of giving them some compensation is a sound one. The Minister spoke about the girl minding the child. That, I suggest, is not treating the subject seriously. I do not know that there is any need for dealing with that type of argument. This Bill has been held up to the country as a very necessary one, and as a great measure of social reform. If it is going to be that, surely there is some responsibility on those who have framed it in regard to the people who will lose their employment as a result of its passing. We have been generous from time to time to other people who have lost their employment in other walks of life. I think that the responsibility for doing something in the same connection here is very clear. The Minister has been fair enough in dealing with the principle in that he has not turned it down definitely. I think that he might with advantage to the Bill, and in a spirit of fair play to those who will be affected if the measure goes through as it is, reconsider his attitude on the whole matter.
The thing that I stress most in connection with this matter is the minimum notice of nine months for the employer that his licence is to be extinguished. Nine months is the minimum, but it will be more often a year or fourteen or fifteen months. If any abolition orders are issued earlier in the year than the 30th September, there will be more than a year's notice of them.
There is ample time for the employer and employee to envisage the situation that will exist when the licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor is gone. People in that kind of employment are very lucky indeed if they never find themselves unemployed at less than a year's notice. Yet that would be the position under Section 35 sub-section (1). There is compensation in the Bill for property abolished, withdrawn, because after all, the licence is something in the nature of property and the State, in the public interest, thinks it necessary to extinguish a certain number of those licences and proposes to give compensation.
No, the State does not propose to give compensation.
Does it? The remaining licensees give it.
The State has to levy from someone and thinks it right to levy from the people who benefit. The State gives the compensation and provides it by its legislation. The principle raised by the amendment is of a different order. It raises the principle that people who, as a result of State action, legislative or administrative, find themselves unemployed are entitled to turn to the State for compensation. That is a principle that ought not to be accepted without the fullest examination. I have given the case of the Customs people who were unemployed as a result of the abolition of the duty on tea by the Minister for Finance. The tea duty was withdrawn. He found a certain number of people in the Customs service who were then redundant and because he is not entitled, in the light of his duty and responsibility to the people, to pay their money out needlessly he is not entitled to keep in the public service people who are redundant. Consequently he notified those people that their services were no longer required. There is no question that they were unemployed as a result of an administrative decision to abolish the tea duty. They said this was a great hardship and felt that they were entitled to compensation but did not get it, while many Deputies say they should have got it.
Did they get a transfer to other employment?
Not to other State employment. The position was that they were redundant in the State service because the tea duty was abolished. Take the other Bills. These are only examples chosen at random. One could go into other questions of unemployment arising from State action of one kind or another. The Betting Bill might be said to cause unemployment. There have been Bills in the past, not merely Bills but administrative decisions, which caused some variation of conditions which resulted in some measure of unemployment. I think the kind of unemployment, of a degree that will arise or could arise under this part of the Bill, is something that should be averted. I think it will be negligible, and that this discussion is about something that is not going to arise. Then I point out that there is a year's notice of the alteration, ample time for employer and employee to envisage their new position. I am not satisfied that a case is made for the acceptance of one or other of these amendments.
Deputy Lyons talked about a man twenty years in employment. I cannot conceive a licensed house being abolished under this part of the Act in which any person will have had twenty years' employment. As a matter of fact, I know that the kind of houses that will go are not run by paid labour, but by the proprietor and his family. To accept an amendment that means that the yard-man, a maid-servant or any paid hand about the house, who found himself or herself seeking new employment as a result of the change, would be entitled to be a charge on the remaining licensees, is something that I am not prepared to undertake. Deputies did not talk intelligently about the thing, did not put up reasonable proposals. They did not say that if a man can show that he was five or ten years in employment in this establishment and that, as an immediate and direct result of the extinction of the licence, he was unemployed would we meet that case. I am not prepared to talk in terms of a man about the yard or a maid-servant about the house. If the Deputy says that a man had a contract of service, had done not less than five years in that employment and could show that his unemployment was directly and inevitably due to the extinction of the licence, one could talk business at any rate on those lines.
Will the Minister accept the principle?
I can talk to Deputies along lines of that kind. I am not accepting principles at this stage. I am rejecting principles at this stage. I am rejecting the principle embodied in Deputy Byrne's and Deputy Johnson's amendments, but I want proposals that can be examined. I want a minimum period of service. I want a contract of service. I want the employment to be in connection with the sale of intoxicating liquor and nothing else. I want the unemployment to be the direct and inevitable result of the extinction of the licences, and along those lines one could talk business.
That is all that is involved.
That is not all that is involved. Will the Deputy use his commonsense or borrow someone else's, and apply it to the amendment?
I am thankful for the assistance I get from the Minister.
People have talked in terms of employment of bartenders as almost specialised employment and we are asked to envisage the manager, a person with twenty years' service. As a matter of fact, I ridicule the suggestion that this kind of person will find himself unemployed as a result of the Bill at all.
They may be too old to be employed elsewhere.
If any Deputy will put down an amendment which I regard as reasonable——
Would you tell us what that would be?
I would require a minimum period of service, a direct contract of service and would require the person concerned to be in a position to show the compensation authority that he was unemployed, because I am taking the situation post factum, the situation after the extinction, as a direct, inevitable consequence of the extinction of the licence. Then after all that I want a maximum set to the compensation that might be awarded by the compensation authority to that person, the equivalent say of a month's or two months' salary. Amendments such as Deputy Johnson's or Deputy Byrne's would be wholly unacceptable, and I have no alternative but to ask the Dáil to reject them.
If the provisos, the conditions, that one might consider reasonable are attached to the general principle, that is so easy to state and so easy to talk about with a certain glibness, then one could consider it. But there must be some commonsense in dealing with the thing. It is not simply a matter of making a certain number of persons a present of a lump sum because the State has decided to embark on a desirable reform. Let us have set down the minimum period of service, the contract of employment, the unemployment directly and inevitably arising out of the extinction of the licence, and the failure to secure alternative employment, and with all that I would want a maximum to the compensation that could be awarded to such a person. But I will not accept in their baldness and comprehensiveness the amendments of Deputy Johnson and Deputy Byrne.
It is a pity that in his first statement the Minister did not say what he has just now said.
It is a pity that Deputies did not talk more horse sense.
It is a pity that the Minister did not set a good example in that respect. I am quite sure that Deputy Johnson did not intend that anybody should get compensation who would not be entitled to it. I noticed, though, that the Minister did not say that even if an amendment of that type, about which he has made so many conditions, were put down he would do more than consider it. He has not indicated that he would even favourably consider it.
The word "consider" has come to have a particular meaning in the Dáil. It has ceased to have its real meaning, and when a Minister says that he will consider a thing it is taken as equivalent to saying that he will accept it. I am not prepared to say that I will accept an amendment I have never seen, but I could really get near Deputies along those lines.
Would not the reasonable thing to do, if the Minister is of that mind, be for him to put down an amendment himself on the lines he has suggested?
On a case that has not been proved?
Do you want us to start it all over again? I say that an amendment might be put down along the lines which the Minister suggested, but that he could offer objection to it, and then as we would be on the Report Stage the opportunity would not arise again.
I will put down an amendment, but I want to tell Deputies roughly what it will be like. It will be something on these lines, putting it in my own words: If (after a period to be stated) after the abolition of a licence, a person appeared before the compensation authority, and was in a position to show that he had not less than so many years service with the proprietor of the house in question, that he had a contract of service, that as the direct result of the extinction of the licence he had lost his employment, and that he had since been unable to secure alternative employment—under conditions of that kind—a minimum period of employment prior to the extinction, a period of unemployment after extinction, directly due to the abolition of the licence, and conditions of that kind—it should be open to the compensation authority to make an award, that would be added to the total compensation sum awarded in respect of the premises, of the equivalent of not more than two months' salary. Something of that kind is what I would consider a reasonable provision. But when Deputy Murphy asks if no one ever heard of a person who had got a pension or gratuity looking for alternative employment, what he meant was this, that in fact the licence is to be extinguished, the employer is to get his compensation for the extinguished licence, the employees are to get their bonus for their prospective unemployment, and then, possibly a week after, they are to be back working with the same employer, or working with the man next door.
No, I did not mean any such thing, but if they did they would not be any worse than anybody else I ever met in the same position. I would not ask the Minister to deal with the case of a person who would go into another shop the next day.
A period of actual unemployment and failure to secure employment, with unemployment directly due to the extinction of the licence, a previous minimum period of employment with that employer, and conditions of that kind, will figure in the amendment which I will put down. But I could not and should not accept the kind of amendments that stand in the names of Deputy Johnson and Deputy Byrne. It would not be fair to the licensed traders, who will have to bear the burden of this compensation, to expect them to deal with the matter along those lines. But I will put down, for the Report Stage, the amendment that I would consider reasonable to meet such a situation, because there is no such amendment before the Dáil.
I am thankful to the Minister for indicating the lines which his amendment will take. It will give an opportunity to others who wish to put in alternative amendments to do so. One point that he stressed I am not clear about. He has spoken of a contract of service. What exactly does he mean by that? Is there anything technical or special in that— that the man must show he has a contract of service?
What I meant by it was that a man must have had some actual tenure. There must have been a definite employer-employee relationship. It must not have been simply a casual or temporary employment.
Would not the minimum period of employment that the Minister has referred to secure that?
Of course if the man had been five years in his employment that would cover it.
For my part I could not regard any scheme of compensation as satisfying the necessities of the case which left unprovided for those persons who lost their employment as a result of the action taken by this House. The Minister referred so often to casual employment and to the maid about the house that he evidently did not read my amendment, because the amendment said "in or about the licensed premises in connection with the sale of intoxicating liquors." I do not think that the maid would have anything to do with that. My amendment is very clear and definitely deals with a man or woman earning his or her livelihood solely in a licensed house. I do not want compensation for people who were merely casually employed, but I think if the House, in making laws for the public good, deprives people of their means of livelihood it should give them some compensation. The Minister is perfectly well aware of the position, because I have noticed that some of the points made by him were points made during a discussion in 1904 in Westminster on the question of the scale of compensation for men—three months for so many years' service, and so on.
I am not altogether disappointed, because I think the Minister will do something. While he will not accept this amendment, he sees that there is reasonable ground for amendment of the present proposal. There is no use saying that it is only the small country house where the trade is carried on by the man and his family that will be affected. I can well imagine when this Bill comes to be considered in Dublin and the Government have made up their minds that there are certain houses in side streets that must go, it will mean one assistant at least will be thrown out of employment. I say it is not just for any member of this House to give a vote that will deprive any man of his means of living without providing some compensation. Personally I will not press my amendment but I shall reserve the right, with the permission of the Chair, to put in an amendment when I see the amendment which the Minister brings up.
In view of the promise made by the Minister I ask leave to withdraw the amendment I moved on behalf of Deputy Johnson.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Amendments 74 and 75 not moved.
Question proposed:—"That Section 36 stand part of the Bill."
On the wording of this section I should like to draw the attention of the House to the definition in sub-section (8) line 15 "the occupation interest.""The expression ‘occupation interest' means the least or lowest estate or tenancy subsisting in the licensed premises on the day before the date of the reference order." Now the importance of that definition, occurring in this section, will be seen when we come to the following section because in the following section it is proposed: "Compensation shall be paid to the person or persons who on the day before the date of the reference order was, or were, the owner, or owners, of the occupation interest." It has been suggested, in some quarters, that this term as defined here does not cover those known as managers of tied houses. The question as to tied houses came up before the Commission and while they did not propose to abolish the tied-house system they mentioned in the report that the system was practically confined to the City and County of Cork and that there two local brewers owned about 300 licensed houses.
These licensed houses are owned by the brewers, and are worked by managers who are tenants of the brewers. But in the contract of tenancy there is a certain covenant. I understand all these contracts of tenancy are the same, and the following covenant, as far as I know, universally, is included, and it reads:—"In any case, at any time, that the said licence shall be extinguished under or by virtue of any Act of Parliament and compensation shall be given in respect of such extinction, such compensation shall be payable to the company"—that is to the brewer—"and in case any money shall be payable to the publican or to any person in his behalf in respect to such compensation, the publican shall pay the same to the company."
That seems a very sweeping covenant, and would seem, upon its face, to prevent the actual man occupying the premises and working it as the licensed holder from obtaining any compensation at any time; even if he had obtained compensation he would have to repay it to the lessor—the brewer. I would like the Minister to make clear his intention in this regard. As I say, this sub-section as worded here may possibly cover the case of those who are now lessees of the brewers, and who run these tied houses really as managers for the brewers, who have in many cases been in those positions for 10, 20, 30, or 40 years, and who are virtually, though perhaps not legally, the actual proprietors. It is true that they may not be legally so, but I submit that they have an equitable interest, certainly, and that they have a greater interest in the premises and in the continuation of the licence than anyone else. Therefore, I would like to ask, first, whether it is the intention by those words to enable those existing occupiers to be paid compensation or whether the compensation is to go to the brewers, and, secondly, if that is the intention, would the Minister make it clearer than it seems to be in the Bill at present. In asking these questions I desire to point out the serious position that those people will be placed in. There are certainly at least 300 such people in Cork city and county, many of whom probably will be deprived of their means of livelihood because their means of livelihood has been in their conduct of these houses.
It is interesting to recall that in the year 1904, when the Licensing Bill was going through the British Parliament, a proposal was made that people in such a position should be compensated. Mr. Asquith, speaking on that occasion, in July of that year, said it was absolutely essential, if justice was to be done in this matter, that the occupier should have first charge on the fund; it was not the great brewers that would suffer from the suppression of licences; on the contrary, in many instances they would positively gain from their reduction; on the other hand, the individual publican, whatever be his legal status, whether tenant, manager, agent, or trader by commission, was the man actually carrying on the business and was the first to suffer if the licence was suppressed. Provision was made in that Act whereby the manager—as he is usually called in England, where many of the houses are conducted on the tied-house system—was compensated. I am, therefore, anxious to know whether it is the Minister's intention to give any compensation to this class of people in the present Bill and, if that is his intention, whether he will make it clear in any part of this or the next section—perhaps it would be better to insert it here—that the occupation interest means the interest of the managers of tied houses and, if he is satisfied that the present wording does cover it, I would like to hear how he arrived at that conclusion.
Whatever the occupants of tied houses are they are not managers. They occupy the premises under a definite contract of tenancy. They pay rent in the ordinary way and they are not in a position of having to account for the profits of their trade to anyone. The only limitation on them is that they are obliged to sell only certain kinds of intoxicating liquor, generally the product of the brewery which owns the premises. A man who is in that position is not a manager. He is a weekly tenant who, but for the Rent Restriction Act, would be liable to quit at short notice, but while he conducts the business there as a licence-holder he is not obliged to account for his profits to anyone. His sole obligation to the brewery is to sell their products and no other. Deputy Redmond quoted a certain provision of the agreement made between the lessee of a tied house and the brewery owner. The provision which he read has in fact been amended.
I will read the old and the new agreement. Article 8 says:—"In case at any time the said licence shall be extinguished, under or by virtue of any Act of Parliament, and compensation shall be given in respect of such extinction, such compensation shall be payable to the company or their assignees." The old agreement reads:—"And in case any money shall be paid to the publican, or any person on his or her behalf, in respect of such compensation, the publican shall forthwith pay same to the company or their assignees." That was the agreement between two parties, a private agreement that should not in any way affect a provision made in legislation for allocation of compensation. This would arise, no doubt, as a legal instrument thereafter, but the article has, in fact, been amended and, instead of the sentence, "and in case any money shall be paid to the publican or any person on his or her behalf in respect of such compensation the publican shall forthwith pay same to the company or their assignees," you have the sentence, "such compensation shall be payable to the company or their assignees, and the publican in the proportion decided on by any Government tribunal set up for such purpose." Let us take the two positions, the old and the new. Under the old wording the Oireachtas passes this Bill which provides, amongst other things, for compensation. It provides for the allocation of such compensation between parties having an interest. This comes up afterwards as a valid and binding agreement between the parties, but it is something with which we have nothing to do. In the amended version the agreement is that "such compensation shall be payable to the company and their assignees and the publican in the proportion decided on by any Government tribunal set up for such purpose."
When did that come into force?
I only know that it is a thing now in force, that it is an agreement now subsisting between the lessee of a tied house and the brewer.
Would the Minister say where it operates?
I do not want to embark unduly in the Dáil on a discussion of what is primarily and essentially other people's business, but this is an agreement between the brewery and its tied-house lessee.
Now existing in the Free State area.
Is the Minister aware that that agreement was not accepted by nearly half the managers or licensees, that at least half of them did not accept it, and that the brewery to which he refers is crushing them at present in expectation of this Bill?
Could the Minister say whether that agreement supersedes the old agreement quoted by Deputy Redmond or whether it applies to new tenancies?
I only know that this article at present exists between some tied-house lessees and the brewery owner.
The Minister cannot say whether it has replaced the agreement which I read?
No, but, whether it does or not, that is essentially a matter as between the parties, and may I suggest that in this matter the Dáil would do well to confine itself to what is actually its business and to what is actually before it? There is no question that under the definition of "occupation interest" given on line 15, of page 18, the tied house lessee comes in. The expression "the occupation interest" means the least or lowest estate or tenancy subsisting in the licensed premises on the day before the date of the reference order. There is no doubt whatever that the tied tenant holds the occupation interest within the meaning of those words. He has a tenancy from the landlord, or immediate lessor, and that tenancy is the lowest tenancy subsisting in the licensed premises. Section 36 provides compensation for the immediate lessor or holder of occupation interest. Sub-section 6 makes it clear what the occupation interest is to get. The compensation authority must take every case on its merits. In some cases occupation interest will get everything, as under sub-section (6) of Section 36. If the compensation authority determines that any part of the compensation is payable in respect of interest to the immediate lessor the residue of the compensation shall be deemed to be payable in respect of occupation interest, and if the compensation authority determines that no part of the compensation is payable in respect of interest to the immediate lessor the whole of the compensation shall be deemed to be payable in respect to occupation interest.
It is strange that I have had representations from both sides in connection with this section. I have been told on behalf of the brewery owners that the wording of the section is considered dangerous for them, that this reference to occupation interest, and so on, might mean that the tenant would be the person to receive the major share of the compensation, and that the brewery would be lucky if it came off with any. On the other hand, you have Deputy Redmond suggesting now that under the provisions of the section the tied-house lessee is in danger of getting nothing. I do not say more in connection with this matter as between the tied-house lessee and the brewery landlord than that under this section, as I understand it, the matter of allocating compensation between these two parties is left to the compensation authority.
I recognise that this section is one that will have to be very carefully drawn and very carefully examined, and any representations that people have to make with regard to its working either way will be looked into, but I do not want to pronounce, and I do not want the Oireachtas to pronounce, on the question of the allocation of compensation between those parties. I think that is mainly a matter for the compensation authority to decide in the light of all the relevant facts and evidence. All I am aiming to ensure is that the matter goes unprejudiced to the compensation authority, that we secure by our section a hearing for both, and that we leave room by our section for compensation to both in whatever proportions the compensation authority thinks fit to decide upon. I think from that point of view the Deputy may make his mind quite easy. The words "occupation interest" certainly cover the tied-house lessee as defined on the top of page 18, and for the rest, if there is any need to prune or polish the wording of the section he may take it that I am going to consult with the Attorney-General between this and the next stage as to whether the section is sound and good from the point of view of what I am aiming at, namely, securing that there shall be hearing for both parties before the compensation authority, and that the compensation authority be free to allocate compensation between them.
The Minister said that so far as seeing that everything is fully covered the section in its final form would want to be very carefully drawn. I agree that we should be very definite on this question. In connection with this matter I wish to mention another type of tied-house that has not so far been dealt with. I know of a number of cases where people have gone into possession of houses of this kind, not as managers or weekly tenants, but as people who paid a fine, not perhaps anything like the value of the house, but a substantial amount. Now they are tied down with very severe restrictions. They cannot sell, as the Minister has pointed out, anything but the product of the firm to which they are bound. If they do proceedings are started in the High Court, an injunction is obtained, and the costs are so heavy that these people are put out of business. That certainly is the type of house that will be abolished under the Bill. These people are poor and have not a big stock to carry on a flourishing and independent business, and certainly they would come under the operations of the restrictive portion of the Bill. Another type of tied-house is the one-time independent house, the tenant or head of which died leaving children. That house was rather loosely managed and fell into the hands of the brewery by reason of debt, or matters of that kind. People of that sort feel they have a fairly definite interest in the business of the house. They would need very definite protection under this section. I am not talking of the person who goes into the house as a weekly tenant, but of persons whose predecessors had some direct interest in the house, and I would beg of the Minister to bear such cases in mind.
Is not that a matter of history rather than of the existing legal position?
The history is not remote. I am dealing with comparatively recent cases. I am taking the case of a man whose father occupied the house twenty or thirty years ago, and who got into difficulty, with the result that the house is now in the position of being a tied-house.
Must we not take the existing legal relationship?
I agree, but after all there is a considerable difference in regard to the type of house I am referring to.
Is there in fact a difference in the relationship between the type of house the Deputy is referring to and the brewery landlord, and the relationship that exists between him and the ordinary tied-house tenant, because the difference in the circumstances that led to the present legal position is really not material?
Could that not be taken into consideration by the compensation authority?
No, and I do not think it ought.
Would the Minister say that in the case of a person who built the house and who got into difficulties and who was, perhaps, treated as narrowly as possible—the brewer set out to get the house into his hands and he has been as hard as he could with the tenant—is there not a great difference between that and the cases referred to?
No, because it was open to the trader at all times prior to this relationship to sell in the open market, and he must have entered into this relationship because it suited him better than to sell.
I do not think the Minister has quite grasped the situation in Cork or he would not say that, because as far as I am aware it has been barely possible for people such as those referred to by Deputy Murphy to make any other arrangement than with brewers. There is nobody outside the brewing interests who would have taken over the house that he has mentioned, and though it may have been a free contract legally, at the same time there was a considerable amount of duress in the matter. I would suggest, though the Minister does not seem to entertain the idea, that this would be a matter for the compensation authority to consider when they were determining this question of the amount of compensation that they would allocate as between the person who owned the occupation interest and, say, the immediate lessor. However, I am glad to hear the Minister state that this phrase "occupation interest" and the definition contained here does in his view cover the existing lessees of what are known as tied houses. I am also glad that he corrected a misapprehension that I may have conveyed to the House when I described some of these as managers. I can assure him that was not my intention. It is difficult to get a term which would describe the actual position of those people. They are strictly lessees, but they are more than lessees, because they are not merely tenants of those places from week to week or year to year, but in most cases they have had an interest in them, apart from their mere tenancy of occupation of the premises. In many cases the Deputy referred to they have had to pay a fine to go into them. It was not a fine for the mere tenancy of the house but for the licence and what it was worth. The Minister says there seems to be some ambiguity about the section because representations have been made to him from both sides.
Not so much ambiguity as nervousness, apprehension.
I imagine that if there is nervousness neither side is thoroughly convinced as to what the section really means to convey. However, I hope that he will make himself perfectly satisfied before the Bill passes that the section at least goes as far as he intends, namely, that the matter of allocation as between those parties shall rest with the compensation authority, and certainly that the lessee of a house such as those tied ones shall be entitled to his amount of compensation, whatever that may be, as the owner of the occupation interest. I would ask for further consideration of Deputy Murphy's suggestion, that the fact that fines have to be paid in many cases, the fact that the brewers have been placed almost in a coercive position in regard to these places, that they are the only source from which these licence holders have been able to get any assistance, should be taken into consideration by the compensation authority when about to make the allocation as between these various parties.
I do not think we should attempt to provide in the Bill that these things should be taken into consideration, but these things will no doubt form part of the setting that a skilful counsel would present his case in. The man can be put in the box and can give the antecedents of the whole present position, and it will be for the compensation authority to give whatever weight it thinks fit to that. But in our provisions in the Bill we ought not to attempt to get away from or get behind the existing legal relationship, however that relationship came about. Deputy Murphy talked of pressure and duress and so on. I was a little bewildered as to how a man came to enter into a relationship which was disadvantageous to him; more disadvantageous than, let us say, to put up the premises for sale in the open market for what they could fetch. I must presume that he entered into this relationship with the brewery owner because it suited him better to do that than to do anything else open to him.
Than to sell. Is it suggested that he had nothing to sell—that the owner of licensed premises in Cork had nothing to sell?
Perhaps I was not quite clear about the type of case I was dealing with.
Let me say what I understood from the Deputy—that the owner of hitherto free licensed premises gradually contracted debts with a brewery for supplies of their particular product and presently became so deeply entangled in a net of debt that there was nothing left for him but to accept the relationship of tied tenant and brewery landlord, and that that is now the legal relationship that exists. My comment on that is that that was not the only thing open to him. He could have sold, and if he did not sell it must have been because it suited him better to contract the existing legal relationship with the brewer, or else because he had in fact no valuable interest to sell at all. In this Bill we ought not to try to get away from the present-day legal relationship. Anything else would be for counsel to bring out as the setting—the framework of the present-day position—to bring out in evidence as something having a certain relevancy, at any rate. But the Bill must deal with the position as it exists to-day between party and party through legal relationship.
I did not raise this point so much because I wanted special treatment for the type of case I referred to as much as to instance it as one of the cases that would furnish an argument for being very definite about this matter. Perhaps I would not have pressed the point so much were it not for the manner in which the Minister tried to dismiss the whole thing. I gathered that the Minister was making the case that people generally in tied houses had no interest whatever in them; that they were simply tenants at will; that they went in and left quite casually without any great interest in them. I mentioned this case in order to try and establish the principle that Deputy Redmond and myself are interested in. The Minister has pressed me on the point, and I should like to say that I have in mind a case of people who got into difficulties as a result of debts and family troubles, and who had stock piled on to them, perhaps more than they wanted; whose business fell into the hands of relations who managed it badly, and who found themselves in a bad way, financially, in a short time. It would be very easy, the Minister says, for them to sell, but they wanted to keep a roof over their heads. You cannot blame people for thinking that they have more than a passing interest in a business of this kind. It is obvious that they have more than a passing interest. The business originally was free and independent, built up by these people, the structure in many cases being put up by themselves. After all, they were forced to accept terms that were not fair and reasonable. While I do not want to put the Minister in a false position about the legal aspect, I mentioned the cases in order to strengthen the argument we are putting forward for this principle.
I support the case made by Deputy Murphy, because when I sought, in a previous amendment, to have consideration given to the licensee, it was a case similar to his I had in mind, where a man in Cork some years ago owned his own house. He bought it as a licensed house, and he was the licensee. He got into some difficulty. The brewery supplied him and allowed his account to run on, and eventually when he owed the brewer a certain sum, the brewer put the screw on and demanded full payment or else—— To get out of that difficulty this licensed trader was forced to sign an agreement with the brewer. That man personally said to me up in the gallery, "Mr. Byrne, there is a certain Deputy in the House who is after speaking, and he has an interest in houses similar to mine, and they were got by similar means." That was the position that was put up to me. If there are any more cases than the one I heard of in which licensed traders were unable to pay small sums, and in which the screw was put on, is it fair that if compensation is being paid for the licensed house that the original owner should not get special consideration because of the circumstances?
I am wondering where we are getting, whether we are going to write a provision in the Bill on the strength of ex-parte statements made in the gallery, in the lobbies, or round the precincts of the House, or whether we are going to leave unprejudiced to the compensation authority the problem of allocating compensation as between the brewery landlord and the tied house lessee, to decide in the light of the facts, in the light of the evidence after a hearing that would be the reverse of the hearing which Deputy Byrne gave up in the gallery, what a just and equitable allocation would be. Deputy Redmond professed himself satisfied with the statement that line 15, page 18, of the Bill does cover the tied house lessee, that he is eligible for compensation, that it will be for the compensation authority to decide on the allocation as between himself and the brewery landlord. I do not think that we really shall spend our time very profitably by going into the history of special cases, particularly cases based on ex-parte hearings by individual Deputies.
I rather deprecate the repetition in the Dáil of statements of that kind. From my personal experience statements of that kind prove on investigation to be very garbled one-sided versions indeed. I have had so many poor tales poured into my ears, in hurried interviews, in corridors and so on, and I have found the facts to be so very different that I distrust nine out of ten of the hard case stories I am told about the unfortunate man who, through no fault of his own, got into serious financial difficulties and then had his face ground by some plutocrat tyrant. Generally there is another side to the shield—that after a calm and judicial investigation the first version undergoes substantial changes. What we come back to is: Deputies are satisfied that the section leaves unprejudiced to the compensation authority this difficult question of the allocation of compensation as between the brewery landlord and tied house lessee. I think it would be unwise to prejudice the matter. I think it is eminently one for judicial decision after a calm hearing and consideration of all the relevant evidence. That is what is aimed at at any rate and I believe that is what is secured. It may be that the section might need to be overhauled and re-examined in its drafting aspect but substantially it effects that and I think that is what we should aim at effecting.
Question—"That Section 36 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Section 37, 38, and 39 put and agreed to.
(1) Every sum advanced and paid by the Minister for Finance to a compensation fund pursuant to a requisition by the treasurer under this Part of this Act shall be repaid to the Exchequer by means of a terminable annuity (in this Part of this Act called a compensation annuity) calculated at the rate of seven pounds and ten shillings for every one hundred pounds of the sum so advanced and paid and so in proportion for any less sum and payable out of the licensing area to which the said compensation fund relates by the persons, at the times, and in the manner appointed by this Part of this Act.
(2) Every compensation annuity shall be payable yearly on the 1st day of October in every year for twenty years commencing on the 1st day of October in the year next after the year in which the sum to be repaid was advanced and paid to the compensation fund.
Amendment 76 not moved.
The following amendment appeared in the name of Mr. Daly:—
In sub-section (1) line 23, to delete the words "seven pounds, ten shillings" and substitute therefor the words "five pounds."
There is a subsequent amendment to this section in the name of Deputy Redmond which is practically the same as mine. There is only a difference of 10/- in the sums mentioned in the amendments. I think Deputy Redmond's amendment would be more acceptable to the Minister because the sum mentioned in it is 10/- more than that mentioned in mine. I shall therefore not move my amendment in order to allow Deputy Redmond to proceed with his.
Amendment not moved.
I move amendment 78:—
In sub-section (1), line 23, to delete the words "seven pounds ten shillings" and substitute therefor the words "five pounds ten shillings."
I am obliged to Deputy Daly for permitting me to move my amendment. The principle involved in this amendment does not demand any payment by the State. What is asked for is that the remaining licence holders shall be entitled to make their contribution at a lesser rate. Of course amendment 78 should be taken in conjunction with amendment 80, which proposes to substitute the word "forty" for "twenty" years. The proposal in the two amendments is that instead of paying at the rate of £7 10s. the rate should be £5 10s., and that the period of years, instead of being twenty, should be forty.
I am not tied to these figures, but I suggest that the Minister should consider the proposal that the period of twenty years be extended. It is a short term to make the repayment. The State would not suffer in any way by the proposed alteration, because the amount that might have to be paid in the end would be actually more.
I do not think we are very clear about what the Deputy means. If we take up amendment 78, does it mean that he wants the £7 10s. reduced to £5 10s.? There is nothing in amendment 78 about the extension of years. The Deputy is reading that into it himself.
There is a consequential amendment.
If Deputy Egan kept his ears open he would know that amendment 80 is being taken in conjunction with amendment 78.
You are dealing with the two amendments together?
Yes. It is necessary for me to point out what is proposed in amendment 80 to enable me to explain what is proposed in 78; and I propose if amendment 78 is accepted to move amendment 80.
Amendment 78 by itself would not appear to have any meaning at all.
Amendment 78 would not have much meaning, but unfortunately you have to proceed step by step even in construing and making Acts of Parliament.
It is quite fortunate as a matter of fact.
No, it is quite fortunate.
Well, in some cases, but the Ministry does not think in all cases it is. It is proposed in 78 to delete the words "£7 10s." in Section 1 and to substitute therefor "£5 10s.," and in amendment 80 it is proposed that in sub-section (2) of Section 40 the word "forty" be substituted for "twenty."
It is a matter of keen regret to me that the Minister for Finance is not available for the discussion of the amendment. Entering into the merits of this amendment involves calculations turning on the present value of one annuity payable for twenty years as against the present value of another annuity payable over forty years. I have ascertained from the tables that the present value of an annuity of £7 10s., payable for twenty years at 5 per cent., is £93 9s.; and at 5¼ per cent. it is £91 10s. That is, the annuity mentioned in the Bill is, at 5 per cent., equal to £93 9s., and at 5¼ per cent. £91 10s. The present value of an annuity of £5, payable for forty years at 5 per cent. is £85 16s., and at 5¼ per cent. £82 19s. The Deputy's amendment is £5 10s. The present value of an annuity of £5 10s. over forty years is £94 7s., and at 5¼ per cent. £91 4s. So it occurs to me to wonder whether all those discussions we seem likely to have over this question of amounts and terms are worth while, in fact whether what we are discussing is something that amounts to a contribution of 10s. a month to a trader.
If you put into the Bill that no trader shall be asked to bear, in a given year, a compensation burden greater than his licence duty, then, in fact what you mean is that the average trader will not have to bear a burden of more than £7 in the year in respect of compensation. Whether it is worth while to travel over this whole ground of an annuity of £5 10s. spread over forty years as against an annuity of £7 10s. spread over twenty years, in view of what just the difference would mean translated into a burden on a given trader in a given year, is very questionable indeed. The Minister for Finance pointed out that the rate of interest is not. in fact, 5 per cent., that he does not expect to borrow next at 5 per cent. while he would expect to get below 5¼ per cent. Even with 5 per cent. the present amount over a period of twenty years would represent a contribution of £6 10s.; that is, a State contribution of 6½ per cent. At 5 per cent. the Deputy's term represents only a State contribution of £5 13s., so that, in fact, it works out at a lower contribution than the provision in the Bill. As against that it extends the term; and the extension of the term to some extent affects the credit and affects security really, because licensed houses are not like land, something that was there before us and will be there after us. They are subject to variations, and twenty years is as much as one cares to look ahead in a matter of that kind. There may be fluctuations of population and so on that would affect the value of licensed premises and their value in particular areas. Changes of that kind affect the security on which the State advances money to the extinguished licensees. Twenty years is a long enough term for a calculation of this kind.
It is not as if one were dealing with property like land and is it worth while to advocate the extension of the term to forty years, securing in that way a slight reduction of the State contribution? In the one case you have a State contribution of £6 10s. and, under the Deputy's suggestion, you have the State contribution reduced to £5 13s. We went into this matter very carefully and we examined the tables and considered what the different amounts would mean for different periods and, after a good deal of discussion between officials of my Department and officials of the Finance Department, and subsequently between Ministers themselves, we came to the conclusion that we really were not likely to be able to arrive at anything better either from the point of view of the State or of the trade.
Amendment put and negatived.
That disposes also of amendment 80.
Amendment 80 not moved.
Question—"That Section 40 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Section 41 agreed to.
(6) A Certificate under the seal of the Minister for Finance that the amount apportioned by an apportionment order on any person is due and unpaid shall, in any proceedings under this section by the said Minister to recover such amount from any person or to raise the same out of any premises, be evidence until the contrary is proved that such amount is due and unpaid.
I beg to move amendment 81:—
Before sub-section (6) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
"(6) Section 47 of the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891, shall have effect as if a charge created by virtue of this section were added to and included in the burdens mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (i) of that section."
This amendment merely means that the State need not go to the trouble of registering the annuity as a charge on licensed premises in order to make it a valid charge. The general position under the Local Registration of Title Act is that charges must be registered in order to be effective, but there are several exceptions to that rule and this particular charge seems to be one that could be properly added to the list of exceptions. The point is that every possible purchaser of a publichouse will be aware of the fact that a levy under this Bill is in existence and he will have regard to that fact when he is buying the publichouse. He will not be taken by surprise and will not be at a loss when he finds he has to pay a small annual contribution under this Bill although, in fact, there is no note of such a contribution on the Register of Titles. I think that the matter will be one of such notoriety and publicity that it is a reasonable thing to ask for exemption from the provisions of the Local Registration of Titles Act.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 42, as amended, agreed to.
Section 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47 agreed to.
(1) In order that a club situate in a county borough or any part of the Dublin Metropolitan area may be eligible to be registered under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904 the rules of the club shall (in addition to the matters mentioned in Section 4 of the said Act) provide that no excisable liquor shall be supplied for consumption on the club premises to any person (other than a member of the club lodging in the club premises) or to be consumed by any person (other than a member of the club lodging in the club premises)—
(a) on any day (not being a Saturday or a Sunday or Good Friday, Christmas Day or Saint Patrick's Day) before the hour of ten o'clock in the morning or between the hours of three o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of ten o'clock in the evening, or
(b) on any Saturday (not being Christmas Day or Saint Patrick's Day) before the hour of ten o'clock in the morning or between the hours of three o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of half-past nine o'clock in the evening, or
(c) on any Sunday or Saint Patrick's Day before the hour of one o'clock in the afternoon or between the hours of three o'clock and six o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of nine o'clock in the evening, or
(d) at any time on Christmas Day or Good Friday, or
(2) In order that a club situate outside the Dublin Metropolitan area but in an urban county district the population of which according to the census which is for the time being the last census exceeds five thousand may be eligible to be registered under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904 the rules of the club shall (in addition to the matters mentioned in Section 4 of the said Act) provide that no excisable liquor shall be supplied for consumption on the club premises to any person (other than a member of the club lodging in the club premises) or to be consumed by any person (other than a member of the club lodging in the club premises)—
(a) on any day (not being a Saturday or a Sunday, or Good Friday, Christmas Day, or Saint Patrick's Day) before the hour of ten o'clock in the morning or after the hour of ten o'clock in the evening, or
(b) on any Saturday (not being Christmas Day or Saint Patrick's Day) before the hour of ten o'clock in the morning or after the hour of half-past nine o'clock in the evening, or
(c) on any Sunday or Saint Patrick's Day before the hour of one o'clock in the afternoon or between the hours of three o'clock and six o'clock in the evening or after the hour of nine o'clock in the evening, or
(d) at any time on Christmas Day or Good Friday, or
(3) In order that a club situate in any place not being in the Dublin Metropolitan area, a county borough or in such urban county district as is mentioned in the foregoing sub-section may be eligible for registration under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904 the rules of the club shall (in addition to the matters mentioned in Section 4 of the said Act) provide that no excisable liquor shall be supplied for consumption on the club premises to any person (other than a member of the club lodging in the club premises) or to be consumed by any person (other than a member of the club lodging in the club premises)—
(a) on any day (not being a Saturday or a Sunday or Good Friday, Christmas Day, or Saint Patrick's Day)—
(i) during a period appointed by or under the Summer Time Act, 1925 (No. 8 of 1925) to be a period of summer time, before the hour of ten o'clock in the morning or after the hour of ten o'clock in the evening, or
(ii) during any time which is not appointed by or under the said Summer Time Act, 1925, to be a period of summer time, before the hour of nine o'clock in the morning or after the hour of nine o'clock in the evening, or
(b) on any Saturday (not being Christmas Day or Good Friday)—
(i) during a period appointed by or under the Summer Time Act, 1925 to be a period of summer time, before the hour of ten o'clock in the morning or after the hour of half-past nine o'clock in the evening, or
(ii) during any time which is not appointed by or under the Summer Time Act, 1925 to be a period of summer time, before the hour of nine o'clock in the morning or after the hour of half past eight in the evening, or
(c) on any Sunday or Saint Patrick's Day before the hour of one o'clock in the afternoon or between the hours of three o'clock and six o'clock in the evening or after the hour of nine o'clock in the evening, or
(d) at any time on Christmas Day or Good Friday.
I beg to move:—
In sub-section (1), page 21, line 46, to delete the word "to."
The amendment is simply to correct an error in the drafting.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment 83:—
In sub-section (1) (a), line 50, to delete the word "ten" and substitute therefor the word "twelve" and to delete in lines 50-53 the words "or between the hours of three o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon" and in line 52 to delete the word "ten" and substitute the word "eleven."
In this amendment we will take first the point involving the word "twelve;" that is, the opening hour, merely.
This amendment which I now move is dealing with clubs.
We will take the beginning of the amendment first; that is, the morning hour.
The idea of that amendment is that as far as clubs in general go, there are not many members arriving before 12 o'clock in the day. To my mind, 12 o'clock is quite early enough to open bars in clubs for the sale of intoxicating drink. If I have to deal specially with the deletion of the word "ten" and the substitution of the word "twelve," I think it would be rather hard to deal with that if I did not also deal with the latter portion of the amendment.
Very well, let the Deputy go for the whole amendment then.
Why I put this amendment down was in order to reduce the number of hours for the sale of intoxicating liquor in the clubs, but while cutting off two hours in the morning I propose that they should be given one hour extra in the evening. For the hours lost in the morning we want an hour extra in the evening. As a result of my amendment the clubs will have one hour less for the sale of intoxicating liquor than the publicans outside have.
A strong argument can be put up in favour of this amendment. Notwithstanding the fact that a very large number of Deputies do not agree that clubs should get any better terms than the ordinary licensed trader outside, I think this is a very proper amendment. The licensed trade itself, I believe, would be completely against this amendment allowing the clubs to sell intoxicating drink for an hour after they are closed. Notwithstanding those facts, we must take into account the type of people who visit those clubs. Traders of different kinds— even men engaged in the licensed trade —visit a club for an hour's amusement when they have their shops closed and I think it is only right that those people should be able to get a drink. Then there is the case of the engine driver who gets into town at 10.30 p.m. or 10.15 p.m. and who is a member of a club. He should have an opportunity of getting a drink if he requires it. The adoption of this amendment would not lead to any additional abuses. The clubs are now governed by the same regulations as the public-houses and are subject to inspection by the Gárda Síochána. By adopting this amendment, you would be catering for people who have spent the day behind their own counters or who have been travelling throughout the day. I hope the Minister will give the club this extra hour—that is two hours less in the morning and one hour extra in the evening. I may be criticised by the licensed traders for standing up for the clubs but the men who visit these clubs and who do not abuse privileges deserve our consideration. The greatest advocate of temperance is the man who cannot take a drink himself and the greatest supporters of the closing of clubs at the same hour as licensed houses are the men who cannot themselves take the risk of the extra hour.
On the question of the hours, 3 to 5, in the afternoon, I presume if a subsequent amendment is carried limiting the closing interval to one hour, that will also apply to clubs?
Amendment put and declared lost.
I move amendment 84:—
"In sub-section (1) (b) page 21, line 54, to delete the words ‘ten o'clock in the morning' and substitute therefor the words ‘twelve noon' and to delete in lines 55-56 the words ‘or between the hours of three o'clock and five o'clock in the afternoon' and in lines 56-57 to delete the words ‘half-past nine' and substitute therefor the word ‘eleven."
Will the Deputy take the decision on amendment 83 as governing 84?
No, sir. I said to-day that the longer the Government sat the longer I would talk. If the club is to close for one hour during the day, it should be entitled to an extra hour in the night. The Minister should consider Saturday night and the necessity of giving a club a little latitude. I only ask him to give an hour or one and a half hours.
Ordered: That progress be reported.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Progress reported, the Committee to sit again to-morrow.