§ Mr. Dugdale
presented Petitions against the Sale of Beer Act, from Meriden, and other places in Warwickshire,
§ Sir Charles Burrell
could not help taking that opportunity to advert to the subject. He had had the honour of communicating with a noble Duke, a member of his Majesty's Government, who stated, that if the Beer Act was not altered in five years, it would demoralize the whole population of the country, and make them a set of drunkards and miscreants. The fact was, people went to these beer houses, not for the sake of good beer, but of 1000 bad company. He entirely agreed with that noble Duke in his opinion. A man more desirous of the general good of the people than that noble Duke did not exist; and he would say also, that no person was better acquainted with the state of the country than the noble Duke, (the Duke of Richmond) the Lord-lieutenant for the county of Sussex. He had from the first objected to the Sale of Beer Act as a complete error in legislation, and had argued at the time it was passed, that some alteration in the Malt-tax would be beneficial, while the setting free the trade in beer would be mischievous. He had stated this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day; but, prejudiced as that right hon. Gentleman was, and looking forward to it as a means of increasing the revenue, the observation was not attended to, and the consequence was, the demoralization of the common people, and great injury to the public security.
§ Mr. Robinson
observed, that two men were executed at Worcester for highway robbery, and they stated to the chaplain that the commencement of their crime had been owing to the frequenting of the beer shops. He should be very happy to have the measure reconsidered; and as so many statements had been made from various Members, and so many petitions from different parts of the country presented, he was bound to believe that a change to a very great extent was necessary.
An Hon. Member
stated, that the Magistrates in his part of the country had granted licenses to only five public houses. Immediately after the Beer Bid passed, however, no less than seventy-two beer shops were opened. It was impossible, from the increased number of these houses, for the officers and constables to have any sort of control over them. He had frequently been informed by publicans, that they were obliged, in order to secure custom, to admit of gambling and every species of immorality in their houses, which, prior to the passing of the Sale of Beer Act, was on no account permitted. At the same time he hoped the House would bear in mind, whatever alterations they might make in the present Beer Act, that it was passed in order to get rid of a great evil, namely, the monopoly of the brewers.
§ Petition laid on the Table.