« ZurückWeiter »
occupy a specially favoured position; they enjoy a monopoly, and are also, in the respects to which we have referred, outside and above the provisions of the ordinary licensing law.
48. It was borne in upon us in the course of our inspection of the State schemes, both by official evidence and by our own observation, that the work of improvement and re-modelling of public houses is not yet completed and is in many respects still in the experimental stage. New ideas are being tried out, further improvements are being made as opportunity offers, and at the present time projects for the construction of new public houses and the reconstruction of existing houses are in hand which will embody new features. The schemes have already produced some houses which have provided useful suggestions in improved public house construction to the trade, but the ideal form of improved public house has admittedly not yet been evolved. We consider that in course of time it should be possible to produce an improved public house which will be beyond many of the criticisms to which we have referred above.
49. Experimental work of this kind is, in our view, of great value. Work with similar objects in view has been and is being carried on by the Trust Companies and Associations, and by certain brewing firms, and might be further facilitated if licensing justices generally throughout the country would be prepared to take a favourable view of promising new departures in the construction and improvement of public house premises. In the State-managed areas, however, where the State has a free hand, it is possible for experiments in this direction to be made on an extensive scale, and in our opinion the most important aspect of the State schemes, in their post-war development, is that they provide an unfettered opportunity for making and testing such experiments.
50. We are of opinion, therefore, that while the schemes of State Management at Carlisle, Gretna and Cromarty Firth have already produced results which are of value, much still remains to be done for the purpose of ascertaining what system or type of public house provides for the legitimate needs of the people without encouraging or fostering excessive drinking. We are not satisfied that a case has been established for the extension of the schemes to any other particular area or place. As regards their more general extension there are many problems involved-notably the problem of the finance of the acquisition by the State of the whole of the existing interests in the licensed trade, involving an expenditure of many millions of pounds-which lay entirely outside the scope of the present Committee's enquiry and into which therefore we have not enquired.
51. On the other hand, having regard to the fact that the schemes are revenue-earning, and provide specially favourable conditions for experiment towards the production of the most
suitable type of public house, we think that it would not be justifiable to terminate them at this stage. We are of opinion that they should be continued and that the work on which they are engaged should proceed, until such time as it is possible to make a more final estimate of the results which have been achieved.
IV. THE IMPROVED PUBLIC HOUSE.
52. We have dealt in preceding sections of our Report with the main systems of disinterested management which have been put into practice. The evidence which we have heard leads also to certain conclusions in regard to the general question of the development of improved public houses.
53. The general effect of the evidence given by persons familiar with the practical conditions of the licensed trade as regards the possibility of the sale of food in public houses is that in a large proportion of houses there is no demand for food on the part of the customers, and this would appear to be in agreement with the experience of State Management in regard to the sale of food in the public houses in Carlisle.
54. Mr. Edward Giffard, the Chairman of Messrs. Barclay, Perkins and Company, while agreeing that in general the working class eat their meals at home and do not go to the public house for food, expressed the view in evidence that in the majority of public houses no attempt has been made to serve the food which such a customer is likely to require, attractively, properly cooked and cheap; and that where this is done a demand for such food is forthcoming or can be created in many licensed houses. This view is supported by interesting evidence which was given by Mrs. Ernest Sotham and Miss Edith Neville on behalf of the Association for the Promotion of Restaurant Public Houses in Poor Districts. Mrs. Sotham spoke from actual experience of catering work undertaken by her in public houses in poor areas in London. She undertook the work of catering for the supply of food at an improved public house in Clerkenwell with the assistance of a woman working under her direction; the result of four and a half months' work in this house, in which formerly no food had been supplied, was that some 50 or 60 luncheons were being supplied daily, and hot snacks were being sold in the evening, to the amount, on Saturday nights, of as much as 200. The Association was formed as a result of her experience with a view to conducting public houses in co-operation with and with the financial assistance of certain brewing firms. The Association holds that for the purpose of building up a food trade in public houses it is essential that there should be what they term " a woman welfare caterer" in each house, able to find out exactly what the customers require in the way of food and to make proper and intelligent provision for it, and that the food should not merely be available but prominently
and attractively displayed in the public bar. In this way a trade in such food as soup, tripe and onions, sausage rolls, etc., has been built up in the houses under the Association's management. On the first night of the Association's management in one of the houses which it took over, 14 snacks were sold, by the fourth night 160, and by the third week the food takings had risen to £4 a week.
55. While this evidence is of great interest and value as showing what can be done in certain conditions in regard to the supply of food in public houses, the scale upon which the experiment has yet been tried is not extensive and it is clear that apart from the difficulty of finding competent women to undertake catering on these lines, many public houses would not be able to bear the charge of the wage of a woman caterer. In our view, while there is no doubt room for considerable development of the sale of food in many public houses, it remains true that in a large proportion of houses the customers do not go there for food but for drink and social intercourse.
56. It appears further that where a public house is improved and enlarged there is a tendency for the old clientele which used to frequent it to remove to another unimproved house while another and better class of customer who wants food and the other amenities which the improved house provides comes to take their place. Unless, therefore, the improved public house is successful in building up a food trade and attracting this custom (which in many town areas may not be possible) it is exposed to serious competition by the inferior houses in its neighbourhood. This competition is a very important obstacle in the way of the general extension of improved houses.
57. Many witnesses who came before us drew attention to the fact that under the existing law in England there is no effective control over the formation of new clubs, and pointed out that such clubs may be formed in the vicinity of an improved public house-in some cases upon premises which were formerly licensed, and from which the licence has been taken away-and offer serious competition for its trade. It was urged that the ease with which clubs can be formed detracts from the good effect of the closing of redundant public houses, and that in the interests. of the improved public house some measure of control over the formation of registered clubs should be provided. It appeared from the evidence before us that this difficulty was not felt to the same extent in Scotland, where the provisions of the law in regard to clubs, including the requirement that the certificate of registration is subject to annual renewal, which may be refused, on cause shown, by the Sheriff, provide a more effective means of control.
58. It was represented to us that in view of the above considerations certain conditions are necessary for the effective
development of improved public houses under a system of disinterested management, including the following:
(1) Some form of monopoly in order that the competition of unimproved houses may be eliminated, and to permit of an area being dealt with as a whole and on uniform lines in regard to improvement.
(2) A reduction in the number of licences (unless the area is already under-licensed) involving the elimination of inferior houses.
(3) A measure of control over the formation of new clubs. These conditions obtain in the State-managed areas to-day and are regarded by the management as essential for the successful development of the State Schemes.
59. We are satisfied from the evidence submitted to us that
many brewing firms are anxious to improve the public houses owned by them, but are prevented from doing so by the attitude taken up by licensing benches in many parts of the country, who refuse to give their sanction to plans for improvement and enlargement of premises and in some cases insist that the licensee shall be a tenant and not a manager. There has been some development of recent years, with the permission of the licensing justices, of improved houses owned by brewing firms and conducted under management, but it was represented to us that in order to hasten further improvement it is desirable that a right of appeal to the Court of Quarter Sessions should be given against a refusal by licensing justices to pass plans for improvement and enlargement of premises.
60. We are of opinion that the improved and enlarged public house which caters for a food trade as well as for the sale of drink is a development in the direction of progress, and we think it desirable that applications for improvement and enlargement of premises for this purpose, and also applications for the grant of licences to managers, should be given very favourable consideration. We think that increase in the drinking area should be welcomed rather than deprecated where such increase will facilitate supervision,. enable seating accommodation to be provided, get rid of overcrowding, and improve the tone of a house.
61. We are of opinion that improvement and enlargement of premises should be more generally facilitated throughout the country than it is at present, and that in connection with any review of the working of the present licensing system of the country it is desirable that the expediency of providing an appeal against refusal by licensing justices to pass plans for such improvement and enlargement should be given careful consideration.
62. We have been unable, having regard to the present position of the licensed trade and the interests therein which have been established and recognised under the licensing laws, to suggest any legislative means by which the conditions referred to in paragraph 58 above might be secured in favour of improved public house enterprise on the part of brewing firms.
63. We would suggest, however, that if licensing justices would more readily lend themselves to schemes of improvement and enlargement of premises by brewers, it would be possible, in many districts, for such schemes to be coupled with and made conditional on a large reduction in the number of licences, thus bringing about conditions comparable to those obtained at Carlisle, and securing many of the advantages which have been realised there.
V. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS.
64. After a full survey of the field of our enquiry we have reached the conclusion that the systems of disinterested management of public houses, which we have considered in the foregoing sections of our Report, are of proved value and should be encouraged. The work upon which they are engaged has as its aim the evolution of a new and improved type of public house, and is thus to some extent experimental in character: we think it is of advantage to the community that this work should continue. It is their aspect as a field for similar experiment that in our view constitutes the principal importance of the schemes of State Management at Carlisle and elsewhere, and we would draw attention to the observations and conclusions in regard to these schemes contained in paragraphs 42 to 51 of our Report.
65. We have been unable, without entering upon general schemes of licensing reform, which lie outside the scope of our enquiry, to suggest any legislative means by which the results which have already been achieved by the systems of disinterested management which we have considered can be made of more general application. It would seem doubtful in any case whether a Report of the present Committee could serve as a basis for immediate legislation. We were appointed to examine only one aspect of the liquor question, and the several parts of the licensing problem are so closely interlocked that legislation dealing merely with one part would present many difficulties.
66. We are of opinion that under the existing law and with the permission of licensing benches progress might be made by brewers in the direction of the improved public house, and we think that improvement of this character is desirable and should definitely be encouraged in all proper cases. We would draw attention in this connection to the views expressed in paragraph 61 above.