4 MARCH 1905, Page 14

To THE EDITOR OP THE " SPECTATOR:1 SIE,—One is unwilling

to believe that opposition on the Fiscal question has anything to do with the attitude of the Spectator towards the licensing policy of the Government, but I fail altogether to reconcile the extravagant views set out once more in the article of February 18th headed " Redistribution " with those expressed in an article, "Compensation and Common- Sense," in the issue of March 28th, 1903. It was then held : "If no scheme other than payment by the State can be devised, to payment by the State we ought to come." Instead of payment by the State, the Government set up a scheme of compulsory insurance in order that reduction might be carried out by the licensing authority without injustice to the individual. As to "enormous pecuniary gifts,, conferred on the liquor trade, surely it is always considered an essential attribute of a "gift" that it cannot be taken away. A gift confers on the recipient proprietary rights. If it be said that a license was, as a matter of business, a grant for a year only, it is absurd to call it an "enormous pecuniary gift." Even if the Spectator contends that the State, like children at play, may take back that which it gave, it surely will not con- tend that the State may deprive B of his property, for which he has paid in cash (as is the case in the vast majority of existing licenses), because the State gave it originally to A; in other words, that a man is to be heavily fined because the State, it is now thought foolishly, gave some time ago some- thing for nothing to somebody else.—I am, Sir, &c., H. A. NEWTON..

[The State gave only for one year. The Bill of last yar added to that a legal right in the annual license-holder either to have the gift continued from year to year, or else to claim compensation for the withdrawal of the license. Our trust is that this profligate endowment of the person happening to hold licenses in 1904 may be remedied by the imposition of a high-license system. We agree that the sentence quoted from our article in 1903 differs from that policy advocated by us after we had beard the discussion of last year. Our correspondent must not think that we find it embarrassing.