THE NEW LICENSING BILL.
(From ihe Wellington Evening Post.)
The new Licensing Bill has just been circulated. It is a bulky document of 54 pages, containing 225 clauses. It repeals existing Acts, and abolishes present licensing districts, new districts to be proclaimed by the Governor, with boundaries so far as possible conterminous with those of boroughs, wards, ridings, or road districts, as most convenient, hi ew or special districts may be proclaimed where and when necessary. A “ licensing committee ” is to be constituted for each district, comprising the Resident Magistrate of the district, and four persons appointed from time to time by the Governor. The usual provisions are made for the elections and tilling up of vacancies. All persons interested in the manufacture or sale of liquor, or in licensed premises, and all paid officers of the General or Local Government are disqualified from being members of such committee. The members of committee hold office for two years, but may be re-appointed. Two members of committee form a quorum In native licensing districts a Native Assessor is to be a member of the committee, and no license is to be granted in his absence. Present licenses are to be subject to this Act, which is to apply equally to all districts. No “ bottle licenses” are to be granted in future ; existing botde licenses are to continue in force until 30th J une, 1881, and then to cease absolutely. Unmarried women may hold licenses, but constables and bailiffs may not. The .Minister for Public Works may license railway stations and refreshment rooms. Brewers and spirit merchants must take out wholesale licenses, and no person is to hold more than one license. Seven different classes of licenses are provided for, viz : —(1) Publican’s, (2) family hotel, (3) billiardtable, (4) conditional, (5) packet, (G) club, and (7) wholesale licenses. No. 1 authorises the sale of liquor from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; No. 2, the sale of liquor to hona fide residents at the hotel; No. 3, the keeping of billiard or bagatelle tables, to be used between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.—-this, however, is included in the publican’s license; No. 4, provides for booths at races, regattas, matches, Ac.; No. 5, for coasting vessels at sea; No. G, for hona fide clubs; and No. 7 for sale of liquor in quantities of two gallons or more. Midnight licenses may be granted on payment of LlO extra, and additional bars at the rate of onethird extra fee for each. Family hotels to be licensed must contain at least ten and public houses six available rooms, and have ample facilities for escape in case of fire ; public houses, in addition, must have stabling. Quarterly licensing meetings are to be held in March, June, September, and December every year ; one month’s public notice being given beforehand. All applications are to be heard in open Court, and the hearing may be adjourned. An inspector of licensed premises in every district is to furnish a rejjorfc on each licensed house ton days before each meeting, and also on every new application, transfer, Ac. At the licensing meeting applications for new licenses are to be taken first, new applications for old houses next, and renewals, Ac., afterwards, unless the latter are objected to, in which case they come second. Due notice of objection is to be given to applicants. No new house is to bo licensed if any part is fitted up as a retail store, the.'iU'e, concert room, or dancing hall. The committee are to determine cases on “ such evidence as shall seem to them sufficient whether strictly legal evidence or not.” The committee are to decide by a majority, the decision to be announced by the chairman alone, who is to have a casting vote,, and no decision once announced is to be questioned or reconsidered. The granting of publicans’ licenses for new houses is to be subject to the vote of the ratepayers or the electors of the district, the sole question to be submitted to the vote being “ The proposal that the number of publicans’ licenses in the district may be increased,” and a majority of votes to be decisive if in the negative, but an affirmative vote does not oblige the Committee to issue new licenses. Objections to granting or renwal of licenses may be made by memorial of persons over 18 years of age, by police, by incorporate bodies, .or others, and the Licensing Committee may take cognisance of such objections, and may award costs r gainst either objector or applicant. An application, if refused, may be renewed at next annual meeting, unless refused on the ground of personal unfitness, when three years must elapse. The usual provisions are made for enforcing payment of license fees, renewals, transfers, removals, Ac. Packet, club, conditional and wholesale licenses may be granted at any time by the Licensing Magistrate, or any two members of the Committee. The granting of any licenses is to be entirely at the discretion of the Committee, and at any quarterly meeting a license may be cancelled of a house improperly kept. The annual fees proposed are as follow :—Publicans’ license, L4O in a borough, L3O outside ; family hotel, L2O; billiard table, L 1 0; conditional license at discretion, not to exceed L3O ; packet license, LlO ; club, L2O ; wholesale, LlO. The fees are to go to the borough, county, or road board funds. Registers of licenses and applications are to be kept, and the customary provisions are made as to the conduct and management of houses. No post or rate office is to be kept at a licensed house, and no liquor is to be sold on credit. The penalty for permitting drunkenness on premises or selling liquor to a drunken person is L2O for the first offence, and LSO for subsequent offences. For keeping a disorderly house, harboring or bribing constables, or supplying them with liquor, permitting gaming or unlawful sports, Ac., the first penalty is LlO and subsequent L2O. Licensed houses are to be closed on Sundays, Christmas Day, and Good Friday. All convictions of licensees for offences are to be recorded on their licenses. There are the ordinary provisions as to hona fide travellers and lodgers. The maximum penalties for slygrog selling are LSO, or one month’s imprisonment, for the first offence ; LIOO, or three months’ imprisonment and five years’ disqualification, fop second ; and LIOO, or six months’ imprisonment, and perpetual disqualification, for third. No actual communication between licensed houses and places of public amusement is permitted. No liquor is to be supplied to persons under twelve years of age, or to habitual drunkards. Inspectors of licensed premises are to be appointed, with power of entry and search. Sale of adulterated liquor is made an offence involving forfeiture and publication of conviction. Premises may be disqualified on account of offences committed thereon, or may be closed in case of riot. It will bo seen from the above that the principle of local option is applied to new licenses only, as we intimated tyould probably be the case, and consequently the vexed question of compensation to licenseJiolders does not enter into the matter..
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