Tuesday, 3 January 2012

People want to have a good time (except in Scotland)

Pub closing times. British governments can't help but play around with them. It's nothing new. This particular piece of legislation was concerned with extending pub opening hours in London (and possibly other cities) to 11 PM.

"London's 11 o'Clock Closing Hour


Mr. Foot's Amendment Affecting Cities and Boroughs

When Standing Committee "B" of the House of Commons yesterday resumed consideration the Licensing (Standardisation of Hours; Bill, the first amendment tabled Mr. J C. Lockwood (Cons., Hackney, Central), which aimed at limiting the operation of the eleven o'clock closing hour the Metropolis, gave rise considerable discussion.

Mr. MacQuisten (C, Argyll) said that, in his view, there was no demand for extension of hours except in the Metropolis. There was no demand in Scotland and there was not anybody who would be more opposed to it than the trade.

Mr. Lockwood: The Bill does not apply to Scotland.

Mr. MacQuisten: Well, don't try it in Scotland, you will find that will be bitterly opposed. He added that the country as a whole did not want an extension of hours; most people wanted to go to bed after 10 p.m.


But," Mr. MacQuisten finally observed, "people come London for a good time, and you are not finished having good time by ten o'clock at night."

Mr. A. Wise (C. Smethwick), opposing the amendment, said he could not see why his constituents should be considered as less sober in their habits and less fit to have extra hour for drinking than the Cockneys in London. "Even if the public houses were open for twenty-four hours still think my constituents would be capable maintaining their sobriety."

Lady Astor: I don t think so.

Mr. Wise: But the noble Lady does not know my constituency. He added that even this Bill were passed there was nothing to stop the public going to bed at 10 p.m. if they chose.

Mr. Wise: The desire Scotsmen not to to the public houses after 10 o'clock might be due to their thrifty habits. Or perhaps they prefer their drink in bulk rather than by retail. —(Laughter).

Mr. Rutherford (C, Edmonton), who opposed the amendment, asked why should not people Birmingham or Manchester have a good time, just those in London demanded.

Mr. Lockwood's amendment was rejected by sixteen to thirteen.

Mr. Foot moved further amendment to provide that the eleven o'clock closing hour should apply to cities and boroughs with a population of 100,000 or over, instead of those of 20,000 or over.

Mr. Lockwood rose in protest. "Lady Astor,he said, has no right to make the allegation that I am receiving any funds of any kind or sort or description from the brewing industry. Some of us are getting little tired of allegations being made which have no foundation in fact whatever."

Mr. Lockwood asked the Chairman's protection against such allegations.

Lady Astor: I never said it, but would remind the hon. Member that the drink trade boasts of spending a million a year in propaganda in advertising, and that this is a Bill which is wanted only two classes of people, those who produce the drink and those who want to consume it.

Amid cries of Order! Order!" Lady Astor sat down.

The Government's attitude was indicated Mr. Douglas Hacking, Under Secretary Home Office, who pointed out that, on second reading, he stated that anomalies were not corrected by the Bill, and the Government could not reasonably be expected to support Bill which cut across one of the main proposals of the Report of the Royal Commission.

"I must clearly state that if this Bill goes down to the House for its report stage with the anomalies not corrected, and, in fact, definitely increased, and one of the main provisions of the Royal Commission attacked, then must say that the Government certainly will not give it facilities for its further stages in the House of Commons."

The Committee adjourned until Tuesday next."
Western Times - Friday 16 February 1934, page 16.

Mr. MacQuisten doesn't seem the sharpest knife in the drawer, not realising the Bill didn't apply to Scotland. Surely anyone with even the vaguest clue about pubs would have realised that Scottish licensing legislation was totally separate. And has been for just a couple of hundred years. Still is, for that matter.

What were people up to in London that meant their good time wasn't over by 10 PM? Sounds rather seedy to me. Or could it be connecting with the fact that London was where Mr. MacQuisten had most of his good times?

There are a couple of classic Scottish jokes hidden in there. Good to see that the level of humour in the House of Commons has always been so high.

Lady Astor plays the pantomime temperance fanatic in that short passage. More proof that nothing ever changes, at least in Britain. You can't trust those working classes. Give them the chance and they'll never be sober again.

It makes a change from Aitken, don't you think? Licensing legislation, I mean. Terrifically riveting.

1 comment:

Gary Gillman said...

Big places confer anonymity, and thus the "Cockney" out late isn't as likely to be found out by his employer or pastor, say, as the resident of a small city or town. This was the thinking behind the second amendment, probably. 50,000-100,000 isn't really all that big a place.

Still, two-speed systems for licensing or hours laws never made any real sense to me. Either people should be trusted with their person and purse, or not. I incline that they should be, as exists in many parts of Europe. This will demystify drink and bars and make people take greater responsibility for themselves in the long run, IMO. Mr. Wise had it right.