HC Deb 29 August 1831 vol 6 cc766-7
Sir Robert Inglis

presented a Petition from certain Clergymen, Magistrates, and others, for the Amendment of the Sale of Beer Act. The hon. Baronet stated, that 25,000 additional licences had been obtained since the passing of the Bill, and that the evils which he had anticipated would flow from it, had, he regretted to say, been fully proved by experience. The petitioners prayed, as some remedy for these evils, that the tax on Licences might be increased, and stricter testimonials of character required; that the houses should be closed earlier, and no beer be consumed on the premises; and that they should be shut altogether on Sundays, during Divine service. He trusted, the prayer of the petition would be attended to. Mr.


said, the Act which the petitioners required to be amended, had been so short a time in operation, that it was impossible for any persons properly to judge of its effects; and that part of the petition which affirmed the morals of the people had been deteriorated by its means, could not be borne out. He had always felt, as a Magistrate, that the power given to him to license public-houses was a most invidious and disagreeable charge; and he was happy to be in part relieved from it. With regard to the extraordinary number of new licences, which the hon. Baronet seemed to treat as a great evil, he could not so consider it; because many more houses had been opened than would be permanently required, and they would ultimately settle down to the supply required for the public accommodation. At all events, as they sold only beer, they were an improvement upon places where spirituous liquors were drunk to excess.

Mr. Hume

fully agreed with the hon. member for Yorkshire, that it was absurd to attribute to the Beer Bill effects which could not be properly laid to its charge, from the short period in which it had been in operation. He never could be brought to believe, that the simple sale of beer in houses where spirits were forbidden to be sold, was so destructive to the morals of the poorer classes as had been represented. He knew, that many people had objections to the Beer Act; among others, several very respectable persons among his own constituents, but he had advised them to wait for some further trial, before they petitioned against it.

Petition to be printed.