The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY JUNE 11 1889. THE LICENSING MEETINGS.
The annual meetings of Licensing Committees, at which the principal business is the hearing of applications | for renewals of licenses, have this year occasioned a good deal of general interest. The last election of Committees resulted m most districts m a gain of ground by the teetotal party, and considerable curiosity was felt as to how their increased power would be used. Again, the decision of the Supreme Court against married women holding licenses led to a great many changes m the tenancy of hotels, and some of these changes were made the occasion of opposition to the granting of licenses m cases where the former holders would have obtained renewals without trouble. On the whole the Committees have discharged their duties satisfactorily, showing their determination to comply with the law, and to enforce the same obedience on the part of licensees, without actingiu a tyrannical spirit towards them. The Committee for Ashburtcn Borough is unevenly balanced as regards parties, being com posed of four teetotallers and one "moderate "—the last, strange to say, being Chairman. With this preponderance m their favor it i was natural that some of the members of the temperance societies should endeavocto make their power felt. Ashburton hoiWs have been generally so well conduoted that there seemed little ground to base opposition upon, but two houses were ultimately selected for attack. In the first the point of law already alluded to, referring to the hoWfng-of -Ite"6n"l6s by marrtert ~women , was made th^ grounds of objection to which twenty-one petitioners appended their names (or had'iheir names ap ponded for them). To approach the Committee on this point savored somewhat of impertinence It was presuming the members thereof and their clerk to be ignorant of the law they had under taken Jto administer, and this remark applies equally to the representations as to the informality of the only application really made m respect of this hotol. No illegality or even laxity of conduct was alleged against the management of the house ; and as a prominent Good Terapr lar, and another staunch teetotaller, both having good opportunities of observing the manner m which the establishment was conducted, came forward m support of the application, it may be assumed that the opposition was simply misdirected zeal, which will be regretted m cooler moments by those who took part m ife The other was a different case. A woman whose cage has excited much sympathy attributed . her husband's failure to support her to his spending his time and money, or some part of thpm, at the hotel m question. Evidence wag adduped of arrests having been made at or near the hotel, though counsel claimed that this was a point m the landlord's favor, and the first witness' statement wag not supported by dirept evidence of drink having been supplied to the man. From a witness called for applicant, however, it was elicited that he had seen drinking after hours and Sunken men about the hotel. We take ft &at it was this ayidence and not the -- tifcg Qf fa petition tap fte indefinite t ♦ "■ ♦ ; PPPOBing witness statement of c after a long which caused the Coiu.. -««^jtfjtb.e deliberation to renew the liceu^ " «^ curtailment of an hour, and to warn ;.. licensee as to the future conduct of his house. It is not often that a license is so dealt with m the absence of any complaint by the police, and the decision of the Committee m this case cannot be looked upon otherwise than as a reflection upon the manner m which they have discharged their duty. Still the police everywhere affect to be ignorant of matters which are notorious to everybody else, and yet what is matter of common notoriety is not always capable 0f being legally proved. It is wellknown to be next to impoßsiblo to prove a charge of illegal trafficking m liquor by the keeper of » licensed house. Temperance reformers should use their endeavors to obtain an assimilation of the licensing law to that of England m so far as that being on Kcfioisod. premises out of legal hours is m itself an offence; against the statute, whether or not* drink is being consumed. Respectable hotel-keepers would willingly see this alteration made. On all sides it is said that late hours do not pay m these times, and they are certainlf not conducive to the welfare of the community.