§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. SOMES
, in rising to move the second reading of the Bill, said, it was without the least affectation that he said he most earnestly wished that the charge of the measure had fallen into other hands more competent to do it justice; but he felt fully satisfied that the House would not refuse its kind forbearance while he endeavoured to place before it as briefly as he could some of the reasons which had induced him to undertake the duty of asking the assent of the House to this stage of the measure. But, in the first place, he desired to enter his protest against the charge of being actuated by a blind and bigoted zeal for the observance of the Sabbath; and he desired further to protest against the assertion that he was influenced 278 in any degree by a desire to trench upon the liberties and enjoyments of the working classes. To no Member of that House did he yield in a hearty desire to maintain the true interests of the working classes. His reason for introducing the Bill was a thorough conviction that to have public-houses open as they now were, for eight hours on a Sunday, was neither necessary nor justifiable. He believed further, that to have public-houses open on the Sunday was a temptation and a snare, more especially to the working classes, for during Sundays they had their time and their wages both at their complete disposal, and it too frequently happened that public-houses robbed their families of both. Prom a Return recently made by Captain Palin, the Chief Constable of Manchester, it appeared that the total number of apprehensions for drunkenness made in his district within one year was 3,373, and of those no less than 1,824 were cases which occurred between ten o'clock on Saturday night and ten o'clock on Monday morning, while on the other days the numbers did not exceed 1,549; so that, in point of fact, the Sunday cases were more than the apprehensions in all the other days of the week. Mr. Broughton, formerly the magistrate at the Southwark Police Court, in a letter written by him in 1855, said that on Mondays the cases of drunkenness brought before him were more numerous than on any other day—that, in fact, there appeared to be more drunkenness in London on Sundays than in all the other capitals of Europe, and that it was sad to find the number of drunken women, and he pointed out that where the woman drank the family went to ruin. A Select Committee of the House of Commons had placed on record that drunkenness was the main cause of crime, and that Sunday was the high day of English drunkenness. It was because he believed that such a state of things was not conducive to the happiness and welfare of any class that he introduced this measure. Judge Coleridge had stated, that scarcely a crime came before him as a Judge that was not directly or indirectly traceable to strong drink. A like opinion was expressed by Judge Gurney. Mr. Justice Patteson, addressing a grand jury, said, "If it were not for drink, you and I would have nothing to do." Mr. Hill, the Recorder of Birmingham, said the enormous consumption of intoxicating liquors was a source of crime more fearful than all others put together. The chaplain of the House 279 of Correction at Preston had expressed an opinion that nine-tenths of English crime, requiring to be dealt with by the law arose from drink. The Earl of Shaftesbury attributed nine-tenths of the pauperism of the country to the same cause, and said that most of the diffculties of the working classes were due to their own improvidence and to their pernicious habits of intoxication. Dr. Chalmers said that public-houses were the abundant sources of disease; and Dr. Gordon said that drink was the cause of 75 per cent of the cases treated in the hospitals. In asking the House to consent to the second reading of the Bill, he was only asking for an extension of the operation of a principle already laid down—the principle that the welfare of the community demanded special legislation for the restriction of the sale of intoxicating drinks; the sale of those articles was, in consequence, already confined to certain houses and within certain hours on week days. But there had been on Sundays a special relaxation of the law in favour of one trade. While the Sunday trading in articles of necessity was prevented, an article which produced crime and immorality was allowed for eight hours on Sundays. Therefore, in asking that public-houses should be closed on Sundays, except to bonâ fide travellers and lodgers, he was only asking that the sale of intoxicating drink should not form an exception to the operation of the law regulating the trade on Sundays of goods generally. They were told, that if the House consented to the second reading of the Bill, it would be against the wishes of the great majority of the people of this country, and more especially against the wishes of the working classes. He denied that this was the case. In asking the House to assent to the Bill, he felt assured that he was simply seeking to give effect to the wishes of the great majority of the people of this country, especially to those of the working classes. That such was the case was to a great extent proved by the fact, that during the present Session, up to the 2nd of June, there had been presented substantially in favour of the Bill 4,101 Petitions, with 693,255 signatures. Having stated this, it was only fair to add that against the Bill there had been presented 180 Petitions, with 148,577 signatures. The Petitions presented that day in favour of the Bill were signed by probably 100,000 persons; and consequently considerably over half a million of people had petitioned in favour of the Bill, the 280 mass of signatures proceeding from the working classes, and many from the wives and daughters of mechanics and labourers. This, he insisted, was an ample reply to the allegation that the working classes were hostile to the measure. He would, with the permission of the House, give one or two remarkable instances of the desire which seemed to pervade all classes that the Bill should pass. He held in his hand a letter which had been writen to him on the 23rd of May, from Selby, in which the writer said—Dear Sir,—The following is the result of a canvass made of the town of Selby, which shows that a great majority of the householders are in favour of closing public-houses on the Sunday, and a great proportion of such householders are of the working class, for whose benefit it is wrongly supposed such houses are kept open:—Householders canvassed, 824; approving, 770; disapproving, 34; neutral, 20; publicans approving, 14; disapproving, 8; neutral, 3. I thought the above might be of service to you when you move the second reading of the Sunday Public-house Closing Bill.I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,ROBERT MORRELL.He had also another letter which showed pretty clearly the opinions which working men, and even some drunkards, entertained on the subject—Altrincham, Cheshire, May 29.Sir,—In the temporary absence of my incumbent, I have had intrusted to my care three Petitions in favour of your Bill for closing beer-houses on the Sunday. The first Petition is from our Working Men's Bible Class, and is signed by thirty-seven members of the class. The second Petition is from the working men in general of this neighbourhood, and has 414 signatures. The third Petition is from the clergy, churchwardens, and congregation of St. George's Church, Altrincham, with fifty-four signatures, including forty-one men and thirteen women. To this last Petition alone have I asked for signatures personally. I wished to know the unbiassed opinion of the working men; it is found to be twenty to one in favour of your measure; the greatest drunkards are most anxious to have the snare removed. I hope that I need not make any apology for begging that you would do us the favour of presenting to the House of Commons the said three Petitions, which I forward by this post, and have marked with my initials, 'T. W. P.,' to be the more readily distinguished from the many others which will doubtless be committed to your care. I do not think of troubling you to acknowledge this, as I shall see in the papers a pledge of its safe arrival in the presentation of the Petitions.Believe me, your humble and obedient servant,THOMAS W. POWELL,Curate of St. George's, Altrincham.In a letter which he received from Mr. Macdonald, of Mile End, the writer said—42, Tredegar Square, May 30.Dear Sir,—Public meetings, numerously at 281 tended, and chiefly by the working classes, have lately been held for the purpose of discussing the Sunday Closing movement in Stepney, Shadwell, and Ratcliff, all of which unanimously expressed approval of your Bill; and at each of these a Petition in favour of that measure was signed on behalf of the meeting by the chairman. On Thursday evening the deputation delivered to Mr. Ayrton thirty-one Petitions from this locality, containing 4,151 signatures, chiefly by working men, in favour of the Bill. The number of Sunday school teachers in this part who have petitioned in favour of the Bill is 692; and eleven surrounding congregations have done so. Exclusive of those from the public meetings above-mentioned, the number of Petitions from this district alone already presented to the Commons in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill is forty-five, and the number of signatures thereto is 6,880. 'London is the difficulty,' Members say. I feel warranted in stating, that in so far as at least the east end of London is concerned, public opinion there is misapprehended by the metropolitan representatives, and greatly misrepresented by the metropolitan press.I am yours most obediently,J. MACDONALD.The Sunday Closing League, he might odd, had instituted a canvass of the parish of St. Pancras, and the result was found to be that out of 51,657 registered opinions, 25,751 were favourable to the Bill, 18,289 opposed to it, and 7,617 neutral, thus leaving a majority in its favour of 7,462. He might also mention that in the borough which he had the honour to represent (Hull) a canvass had been made from house to house, and the result had been that about twelve to one were found to be in favour of the measure in that portion of the town in which the working classes chiefly resided. But it was not only the working classes, but publicans themselves, who had, in many instances, petitioned in its favour. It might, however, be said, that notwithstanding these facts, and no matter how desirable the Bill might be, it would not work; and doubtless the repeal of the Act of 1854, known as the Wilson Patten Act, had given rise to that suspicion. But what was the fact? The Act was in force for the period of ten months only. He held in his hand the report of the evidence of between eighty and ninety magistrates and superintendents of police in the various cities and towns throughout the country, which showed how beneficially the Act operated while in existence. He would not, however, trouble the House by reading the list of the names of those magistrates and superintendents of police, which was a long one. [Mr. H. BERKELEY: Let us have the names of the police magistrates.] 282 It would take him a longer time than he wished to occupy the attention of the House to pick out the names of the magistrates, which were mixed up with those of the other gentlemen to whom he alluded; but he would, with the permission of hon. Members, read an extract which Mr. A'Beckett had written to The Times newspaper on the point to which he was adverting. It was as follows:—Police Court, Southwark, Jan. 8, 1855.Sir,—In your article on the regulation of the sale of fermented liquors you say that the partial closing of public-houses on Sunday is a measure which, though 'right in principle,' must be 'approved or not, according as the inconvenience it inflicts fall short of or exceed those it is intended to prevent.' This is the reasonable view of the subject, and it therefore becomes important to ascertain the effect of the new Beer Bill. Previous to its coming into operation the business at this court was not only considerably greater on Monday than on any other day in the week, but it consisted chiefly of cases of drunkenness, and of assaults, more or less violent, that had been committed under its influence. From the day when the Act came into effect I have kept an account of the number of charges of Sunday drunkenness which have been brought before me on every Monday on which I have sat here, and I furnish you with the result:—Monday, August 14, one case of Sunday drunkenness; Monday, August 21, not one; Monday, August 28, one; Monday, September 4, one; Monday, September 18, two; Monday, September 25, three; Monday, October 9, one; Monday, October 16, one; Monday. October23, four; Monday, October 30, one; Monday, November 6, not one; Monday, November 13, three; Monday, November 20, five; Monday, November 27, four; Monday, December 4, two; Monday, December 11, one; Monday, December 18, four; Monday, January 1, 1855, one; Monday, January 8, two; making in all 37 cases in 19 days—a fraction less than two on an average for each Sunday. It has been alleged, on high judicial authority, that nine-tenths of the crime of the country is caused by drunkenness; and inquiry would, I think, show that a vast proportion of the poverty of the country has the same origin. Juvenile delinquency, which forms the source of a constant supply of adult criminals, may in many cases be traced to the neglect of drunken parents; and, indeed, there is little doubt that the best means for the diminution of crime, poverty, and perhaps also disease, are comprised in the prohibition of drunkenness. I do not enter into the question of the propriety of restricting the enjoyments of the moderate in order to check the excesses and the crimes of the intemperate. This is a matter to be decided by the opinion of the public; and it is right that every one who is in a position to contribute facts for the formation of that opinion should endeavour to put them forward. Such is the view with which I have addressed you.G. A. A'BECKETT, Police Magistrate.The effect of the Act in London immediately after it had come into operation would be seen by the following extracts from some of the metropolitan newspapers:— 283Southwark Police Court, Monday, August 14, 1854.—This court had a very unusual appearance—such as had not been known before on a Monday within the memory of the oldest officer, owing chiefly to the new Public-house Law, which came into effect on Sunday. The usual average number of drunken charges taken into custody on Sunday amounted heretofore to between thirty and forty persons, and generally occupied the attention of the magistrate the chief part of Monday morning. Yesterday, however, there was only one drunken person charged, and only two trifling assaults. The latter were committed on Saturday night and the drunkard was found on Sunday morning.Bow Street, September 1, 1854.—Although there has been no material diminution in the aggregate amount of drunkenness in the Bow Street district during the few past weeks, the operation of the new Act relating to the public-houses has bad a marked effect upon the business of the court on Mondays. Hitherto the proceedings of Monday have been almost exclusively confined to drunken charges; frequently as many as seventy cases have been heard in succession, and generally about two-thirds of the offenders have been women; while more than half the entire number have been taken to the police-stations after ten o'clock on Sunday night. On the first Monday subsequent to the passing of the Act, however, only one drunken charge was received in the district after ten o'clock. On the following Monday there was not a single case received, and the prison-vans left Bow Street, for the first time within the experience of the magistrate, without conveying a prisoner of any kind from the court. On Monday last, again, there was only one case of drunkenness which had been received after ten o'clock the night previous.Marlborough Street Police Court.—On Monday morning a very striking exemplification of the effects of the new Beer Bill was presented by the night charges. The number of cases on Monday, which includes Saturday night and Sunday night offences, had varied, before the new Act came into operation, from sixty to about a hundred. On Monday, the Act having come into operation the previous day, the whole number of cases, drunken cases included, was only twenty-five, and not a single drunken case was brought to the station-house from twelve o'clock on Saturday night up to Monday morning inclusive; thirty being the average previously. On inquiry among the publicans how far the Act affected their takings, the police were informed that in many districts it made no difference at all, and in others 5s. would cover the loss.It might, however, be asked why, if the Act worked so well, it had been repealed? The fact was, that subsequent to the passing of the Wilson Fatten Act a Bill had been introduced ink that House by Lord Ebury, then Lord Robert Grosvenor, for the suppression of Sunday trading in general. The Bill had nothing to do with public-houses, they being exempted from its scope. But the passage of the Bill through the House had given rise to certain disturbances of the public peace on the part of costermongers 284 and other interested persons, of which advantage was taken to make it appear that they proceeded from the Wilson Patten Act which had been passed in the previous Session. The consequence was, that a Parliamentary inquiry had been instituted, which it had always been contended was partial and inconclusive; and he was informed that the Committee who conducted that inquiry had excluded evidence which would have established the Pacts to which he had already called attention. The result was, however, that near the end of the Session on the recommendation of the Committee the Standing Orders were suspended, and a Bill hurried through Parliament by which the opening of public-houses on Sundays was at present regulated, and Mr. Wilson Patten's Act was repealed. To show that the Bill which he proposed was likely to be a practical measure, he need only say that the existing law in Scotland had been in operation for a period of nine years, and that it had been declared by a Royal Commission to have worked well. He had in his hand a letter from a Glasgow gentleman, whose evidence was entitled to weight, confirming that opinion. The gentleman to whom he referred said—Kelvinhaugh Dockyard, Glasgow, May 13.Sir,—In answer to your inquiry as to the result of my experience as an employer of labour regarding the general effect of the Forbes Mackenzie Act, I have much pleasure in stating that in my opinion its tendency has been most beneficial. My firm employs upwards of 1,000 workmen, and the attendance on Monday mornings is much more regular than was formerly the case; indeed, the attendance on Monday mornings is almost as regular as on other days; and previous to the Act referred to coming into operation a very different state of matters existed. The public-houses being shut at six o'clock in the morning when the men are proceeding to work removes a temptation from their way which was often attended by the most injurious consequences; they would step in merely to take a glass, and the consequence not unfrequently was that they spent the whole day, or even several days in intemperance. Shipbuilding is at present in a very prosperous condition on the Clyde, wages are high, and a very large number of workmen of various descriptions are employed, yet intemperance has perceptibly decreased among the working classes; and the working of the Act has on the whole, I consider, been very advantageous.—I am, my dear Sir, yours faithfully,AL. STEPHEN, Jun.But the question of the expediency of closing public-houses on Sundays was not confined to Scotland. They had for many years been closed on the Sabbath in the City and State of New York, and also, he 285 was informed, in Tasmania. He held in his hand, he might add, a printed paper which showed the view that was taken by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel on the subject, which he should like to read to the House. It was as follows:—In Ireland, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel has for some time been successful in persuading all the publicans of certain towns and districts in Ireland to sign and keep an agreement to close public-houses on the Lord's Day. Speaking of the effects thus produced, in a published letter, in which the Archbishop supports Mr. Bomes's Bill, he says:—instead of the drunken brawls, the riots, and the blasphemies—instead of day-long carousals and the night-long orgies which in time past desecrated the Lord's Day, disgraced our towns, and filled the Bridewells with Sunday drunkards—instead of these things, we have, thanks to God for the change, quiet streets and closed shops, full churches, and empty gaols; so that if you now pass through our streets on Sunday you cannot but feel it is indeed the Lord's Day, there reigns such peace around on every side. Behold some of the results of our Sunday temperance law. That such results do follow from it every one within the borders of these dioceses can bear witness, for, not only are they palpable to all, but all without exception, the Protestant equally with the Catholic, congratulate themselves upon the happy change.'He thought he had now said sufficient to prove the necessity which existed for the Bill, and that it could be worked if passed into a law. Not a few threats had been used against him on this question; so convinced, however, was he himself of the necessity and of the blessings which would result to the country from its operation, that however much he valued a seat in that House, he would willingly purchase the change which he proposed for the benefit of the working classes by the loss of that seat, or indeed at almost any personal cost to himself. He had, in conclusion, simply to express a hope that the House would listen to the voice of the country, and would express its approval of the course which he had deemed it to be his duty to take by reading the Bill a second time. He begged to move that the Bill be now read the second time.
§ MR. PEASE
begged to second the Motion. In doing so he desired to observe that he was not personally connected with any association which had for its object the suppression of the sale of intoxicating liquors; but being largely connected with the working classes he felt that the passing of this measure would be for their welfare. He would appeal, in support of the measure, to the great number of Petitions, amounting to over 4,000, which had been presented in its favour, and which he had 286 good authority for saying constituted such an influx of Petitions as had never been known to be presented in reference to any Bill in so short a space of time. It was, he added, a very remarkable feature of these Petitions that a very large number of them emanated from Sunday school teachers, and he need scarcely say that they constituted a most persevering, self-sacrificing, and useful portion of the community. They were, too, intimately associated with the poorer classes, they had to deal with them in detail, and had abundant opportunities of seeing how much degradation and misery were the consequence of drunken habits. They saw how impossible it was to elevate the children of humble parents in the moral and social scale while those parents themselves—the wife, with a child at her breast, perhaps, in but too many instances following the example of the husband—were constant frequenters of the public-house, where they squandered the earnings which might keep the whole family in comfort. He was happy, indeed, to find that large numbers of working men, as well as their wives, had presented scores and scores of Petitions praying the House to guard their fellow workmen from evils which they themselves had in many instances experienced, and that they had even associated themselves in several cases, without fee or reward, in order to obtain such statistics as it was thought the House would require as a basis for legislative action. They did so, because they were but too well aware of the existence of a state of degradation as the result of drinking habits of which hon. Members could have no adequate idea. Everybody knew how much better, when temperate, the working man served his employer and attended to the education of his children, while each hon. Member could form for himself some notion of how far the indulgence of an unhappy tendency to drink prevented him from paying any regard to religion. Having referred to the feeling of the country on the subject, as borne out by the number of Petitions which had been laid on the table, he might observe, that while it would always be his pride and pleasure quietly to assert the public and private rights of the people at large—which had been alleged against this measure—he thought it was a somewhat doubtful question whether those did not seek to carry too far the exercise of those rights who would allow them to interfere with the rights of others. Whether we looked at our police, our gaols, or our pauperism, we 287 found we had to pay rates and taxes exceeding, perhaps, the whole of the income tax, attributable—at all events nine-tenths of it—to the drinking customs of the country; and he thought it became one of the duties of the Legislature to consider whether they could not suppress a practice which sapped the foundation of industry, tended to the demoralisation of the community, and occasioned a very considerable portion of the public expenditure for the purposes he had named. He trusted the House would affirm the principle of this Bill by assenting to the second reading. The difficulties of legislation in the case—for he freely admitted there were difficulties—could be dealt with in Committee, and then the House would find itself in a position to pass a useful and patriotic measure.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
, in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, the hon. Member who had introduced the measure had failed to point out any sufficient cause for the alteration of the existing law which he proposed. Let hon. Members look at the preamble of this Bill, and then at the preamble of the Act it proposed to repeal, and say whether anything had happened in the country to justify it. Had drunkenness so increased that the Legislature must pass a penal Act to suppress it? On the contrary, was it not, he would ask, the fact that the great mass of the people had been going on improving for the last few years, and that drunkenness had so decreased as at present to be hardly known? The hon. Member had appealed, in support of his case, to the large number of Petitions which had been presented in favour of his Bill; but it was evident they were the result of a most careful organization. They had been kept in reserve up to the last moment, and then, all on a sudden; the House was overwhelmed with them; from school-teachers, women, and little children. Was it, he would ask, because of such Petitions that the able-bodied free-men of England were to be tied down as the hon. Gentleman seemed to desire? It was not the office of the Legislature to protect a few drunkards against themselves, but to consider what was most just for the whole community. It was said, that a proposal similar to that under discussion worked 288 well in Scotland, but he was not aware that it had been made under the same conditions. When the Forbes Mackenzie Act was introduced, the people of Scotland were proved to have been in a state of general demoralization. It had been stated that there were as many as 30,000 drunkards in Glasgow on Saturday night, who remained drunk until Monday morning. No such state of things was to be found in England. But what had, in fact, been the result of the Forbes Mackenzie Act in Scotland? There was no decrease in the amount of spirits consumed in Scotland since the Forbes Mackenzie Act, and there was no decrease in the amount of crime. In the ten years between 1851 and 1861 the population of that country had increased by about 173,000, and the consumption of spirits had increased in the same proportion. ["No, no!"] Why, in 1851–2 the consumption of spirits was 7,172,000 gallons; in 1859–60 the quantity of spirits charged for home consumption in Scotland was 7,429,859 gallons; so that the increase of consumption kept pace with the increase of population. As to crime, the total number of persons committed or bailed in all Scotland was, in 1852, 3,018; in 1858, 3,782; and in 1860, 3,287. At the same time, it would be wrong to say that the Scotch people had not kept pace with the rest of the country since the Forbes Mackenzie Act; but their improvement in morals was due to education, and the example of those above them, the same as in other parts of these islands. He could not leave the subject of the Petitions without alluding to the manner in which they had been got up. Some of them were forgeries. Some of them had been got up by a society for promoting the interests of the trading community, and he found among the objects of that society, for which the members subscribed 5s. each, not only the prevention of Sunday trading, but a reduction of the income tax, and no examination of weights and measures. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the repeal of the Wilson Patten Act was opposed by many of the police magistrates of the metropolis. It would be remembered, that in consequence of the scenes which took place upon that Act, a Committee was appointed to inquire into it, and the consequence was that that Act was repealed. The several Police Magistrates were examined before that Committee, and the great majority of them gave it as their opinion that drunkenness had not decreased by reason of that measure. Mr. 289 Hall, who sat at Bow Street, in his evidence said, that the effect of the Act had been to reduce the number of charges of drunkenness on Monday, but to increase the number on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so that the weekly average was the same. Mr. Corrie, who sat at Clerkenwell, dealing with the difficulty of deciding who were travellers, said in his evidence, that in his opinion passengers by excursion trains were travellers. The same question must arise on this Bill, because Parliament could not exclude persons going to Hampton Court or Greenwich from all refreshment; and if bonâ fide travellers were to be allowed to get drink, persons wishing to get drunk would be able to do so at Gravesend or Greenwich, at Brighton, at Lowestoft, at Southend, at Yarmouth, or indeed at any place to which excursion trains ran. Mr. Arnold, who sat at Westminster, was of opinion that the shutting up public-houses throughout Sunday would lead to the opening of illicit houses, and he said that he believed that during the Wilson Patten Act illicit drinking was carried on to a great extent at coffee-shops and other places of resort. Mr. Long, who sat at Marylebone, said in his evidence that he thought it desirable that public-houses should be kept open as late as eleven or twelve o'clock on Sunday evenings, because the excursion trains came in so late, and passengers by them required refreshment. Almost every police magistrate in the metropolis was of opinion that the law which only allowed public-houses to be open from one to half past two, and from six till ten in the evening of Sunday was too stringent, and the people had done nothing since to require the law to be made more stringent than was then found to be necessary. The returns of the superintendents of police, in answer to inquiries made of them, were to the same effect, although coming from places perfectly distinct both in their situation and the character of their population. The superintendents of Bolton, Deal, Gloucester, Northallerton, and South Shields were of opinion that the Act of 1854 had done very little, if any, good; that intoxication had not diminished, that crime had not been lessened, and that where there were indications of less drunkenness it was attributable to the high price of provisions; while in private houses more intemperance was exhibited than before the enactment. He believed, that if this Bill were passed, illicit houses would multiply, and the people of this country 290 would do like the people of Scotland did after the passing of the Forbes Makenzie Act—namely, establish drinking clubs—or hush-shops, as they were called—the admission to which would depend on the man being sworn into the fraternity, and getting two members to vouch that he would not split. In the army, where drunkenness was a crime punished severely, it was found that the more open they made the houses, and the more supervision and superintendence they could obtain, the better it was for the men. Wherever a commanding officer had attempted to close the canteen and prevent men getting a fair amount of good liquor during the day, it was found that the men were supplied secretly, and often by night, with abominable mixtures, containing all kinds of deleterious ingredients. The hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Somes) had referred to Lord Robert Grosvenor's Sunday Trading Bill. In that Bill the public-houses were not touched; but the reason was that Parliament dare not do it. When it was asked why people did not petition against this Bill, he would give the reply which he received from a working man on putting to him the same question—"We rely on the good sense of the House of Commons not to pass the Bill; but if they do pass it, then we'll show what we think of it." Although many excellent and good people—some among his own constituents—sincerely wished to see this measure become law, he trusted that Members of Parliament would remember that they represented the whole country, and that the general feeling of the country would support them in rejecting it.
§ MR. KER SEYMER
, in rising to second the Amendment, said, that he must express his regret that the hon. Member for Hull should have felt it his duty to raise this question; but, at the same time, he desired to protest against the terms which he organs of the public-house interest applied to the hon. Member and those who acted with him. He did not believe them to be maw worms and canting hypocrites. He believed them to be gentlemen actuated by the best intentions, but, at the same time, inviting Parliament to enter upon a mischievous course of legislation. It was impossible to separate this question entirely from the great general question of the observance of the Lord's day, which at present seemed to be a compromise between two extreme parties, and in which state, he thought, they had better leave them. On the one 291 side, there were those who wished to have museums, libraries, and lecture-rooms open on the Lords's day. They thought that by so doing they would improve the moral character of the people. He gave those who desired to open public institutions credit for being actuated by the best motives, but he entirely differed from them. He held the old-fashioned opinion that a cordial belief in the doctrines of revealed religion and a practice of its precepts were the only means of effecting the moral regeneration of society, and therefore he opposed the opening of museums. He did not believe that the moral character of a people was to be elevated by admiring statues and pictures, the works of great artists, by examining cases containing fossil shells, or by inspecting specimens of extinct animals. Athens was an illustration. The Athenian citizens had nothing to do but to admire the finest sculptures and the noblest specimens of architecture ever produced; yet the less that was said about their morals the better. The extreme view, on the other side, was held by those who were equally conscientious, and who wished to stop omnibuses, steamboats, and trains altogether, and to close public-houses on Sundays. All this question of opening public-houses depended upon whether or not they would allow excursion trains on Sundays; for if they allowed the train, they must allow refreshment for those who travelled by it. It was impossible, although they might not intend it, to legislate upon this subject without being open to the charge of class legislation. They might not intend it, but the circumstances were such that they could not help it. Take the case of an artisan. He left the centre of the city and walked through miles of monotonous streets to see a green field or a green lane, sometimes carrying a child in his arms. On his return home he would naturally feel thirsty, and were they to say him, "You shall not have a glass of beer." That man knew perfectly well that Members of Parliament before they took a stroll on a hot day walked into their club and drank iced cider-cup, or any other refection they pleased. He knew that perfectly well, and the cheap newspapers would take care constantly to remind him of it. Therefore, whatever the intentions, the course proposed by the hon. Member was a course of class legislation. They were told that there were restrictions already, and that they worked very well. He thought the present restrictions did work well, and prevented 292 drunkenness on Sunday mornings, without interfering with the public. But it did not follow that they must go further, and prevent the labouring man sending out for his pot of beer for dinner. To say that some restrictions justified total prohibition was the most illogical attempt at reasoning which he had ever heard. But he would go further, and say that they might prove to him that the Bill would diminish drunkenness, and yet he would not vote for it. They did not attempt to enforce the moral code by legislation; if they did, many things would have to be punished which were not punished now. Speaking as a legislator, there were worse things than drunkenness, and one worse thing was to have great masses of the labouring classes feeling that they were unfairly treated by this House. It was a worse thing than a certain amount of drunkenness to have a rankling feeling of discontent among the people at class legislation being indulged in at their expense; and he believed, in spite of the Petitions that had been presented, that would be the feeling in the country when this measure came into practical working. All who heard him were householders. Burglaries were things which they had a great objection to, and were very unpleasant. Suppose there was a regulation that every man found out of doors after eight o'clock in the evening should be shut up by the police; there would be an end of burglaries. But for every burglar they would shut up 10,000 honest men. Why should they, for the sake of one drunkard, prevent thousands of temperate men drinking? He knew that there were persons who contended that spirits and beer were poisons, and that any one who tasted either was on the high road to drunkenness; but he also knew that were millions of men who during their whole lives had been consumers of beer and spirits, and yet remained temperate men. Therefore, there was no cause for imposing penalties on men who were not and were never likely to become drunkards. The hon. Member laid great stress on the case of Scotland; but, on the question of Sabbath observance, Scotland had no relation to this country. The habits of Scotland were so entirely different that its legislation was no model for this country. There could not be a greater proof of the difference that existed between the two countries than in the answer that was given before the Royal Commission by a witness who was examined. He said that the effect of the Sunday closing would work well in large 293 towns, but not well in the country. He said that in the country people came a great distance to the morning services, and they remained in the village churchyards for two or three hours to attend the evening services, and therefore they required houses of refreshment. Now, it was just the very reverse in England. The Sunday closing might work well in the country, but it certainly would not in the large towns Being anxious to see what the state of Glasgow was on a Lord's-day, he walked out, and he saw only five or six carriages in motion. The observance of the Sabbath was so strict that nobody moved on wheels. The Scotch treated it as the Jews did; in this country we did not, and he hoped we never should. The hon. Member alluded to the Petitions. They knew a good deal about Petitions and how they were got up, and he believed that some of the persons who had signed the Petitions in favour of this Bill would be the loudest to complain the first time they were thirsty on a Sun day and could not get a glass of beer—even if they did not express their disapprobation by violent demonstrations. He would refer to what took place on the closing the Post Office service on Sundays. Any one who observed the Petitions for that measure would have thought that the people wore unanimous in desiring it; but the instant it was tried the inconvenience was found so intolerable that the resolution was rescinded—and that was what they would have do if they committed the great mistake of passing the Bill now before the House. The English labourer was not like the French. He cared not about equality or fraternity, he did not care much about hereditary titles and that sort of thing; but when anything came home to him, and affected his comforts and privileges, he was a very awkward man to deal with. The riot in Hyde Park was said to have been a riot of costermongers. Although it might have been taken up by the Westminster roughs—and doubtless they were the persons who broke the windows—he could state positively, from personal observation, that those who made the previous demonstration bore all the appearances of respectable mechanics. It was said, why should public-houses be an exception to the law which required shops to be closed on Sundays? But that was not a fair statement of the facts. In those places where the opening of shops was offensive to the feelings of the residents shops were not opened on Sundays; but, in other districts they were 294 opened, and he could take the hon. Member to streets where every shop, selling every kind of article, was opened on Sunday mornings. Would the hon. Gentleman like to have the public-houses closed in respectable localities and open in all the lowest districts of the metropolis? Then they were told that they wanted them open because they sold beer and spirits. He did not say so; but because they were houses of public reception and public entertainment. The English mind associated the idea of beer with refreshment. If Englishmen could be persuaded to associate the idea of refreshment with the word soda-water and ginger-beer he was perfectly willing; but he rather thought that the separation of John Bull from John Barleycorn was a very difficult operation. If they could, there would be no necessity for public-houses at all. This was one part of a much larger question. He had received a copy of a publication by the committee of the Derbyshire society for promoting the due observance of the Lord's-day, enclosing an address to the Queen from the archdeacon and clergy of the archdeaconry of Derby, in which they said, "we also respectfully entreat your Majesty to exercise your authority to put a stop to the playing of bands at Windsor." And further on—We would also humbly solicit your Majesty's Royal interference to prevent the unhallowed assemblage of the higher classes, with their equipages, in your Majesty's parks on the Lord's-day, which is highly demoralizing not only to the persons themselves, and to their servants, who are thus forced to desecrate the Sabbath, but highly injurious in the way of example to all classes of your Majesty's subjects.But was it the higher classes who frequented Hyde Park on Sunday. He said no. The higher classes, who used to make Sunday a great day for travelling and giving great dinners, had ceased to do so without any interference by the law, entirely from a good feeling towards their servants, and were generally agreed to give their servants and their horses rest on that day. This was a notorious fact, but it appeared not yet to have found its way into Derbyshire. The memorialists took an entirely Jewish view of the subject, and according to that view no man who signed the memorial was not himself a sabbath-breaker. Every man who rang a bell, who lit a fire, who had a hot dinner was, according to this view, a sabbath breaker. This document was circulated on the eve of the second reading of the Bill, and Members 295 were enjoined to carry it only as an instalment. These persons wanted more stringent regulations, and regulations entirely distasteful to and inconsistent with the Christian character. Theirs was not the English view, and never had been, except during a short period of our history, to which he did not think we ever wished to recur. The views of these gentlemen reminded him of what occurred some years ago. One of the earliest converts—a chieftain in an island in the Pacific—came to this country. He was well received in the religious world, and on the first Sunday was invited to a tea-party at Clapham. When the hissing urn appeared, he was astonished, and said, "Whatisthis—boiled water on a Sunday? Why, the missionaries never allow me to light a fire on a Sunday." He hoped the chieftain returned to his home a merrier and a wiser man. The Maine Law men and the Lord's-day Society had combined; but, in spite of the organization of these two powerful societies, he trusted that the common sense of the House of Commons would prevail, and that they would not pass a measure which he believed they would have to repeal in a very great hurry.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Captain Jervis.)
§ MR. CLAY
said, he was not surprised that there should exist a great deal of enthusiasm in favour of the Bill of his hon. Friend and Colleague, because no one would deny the advantage of seeing drunkenness diminished, whether on the Sabbath or any other day of the week. The difficulties in the way, however, were numerous and obvious, and they had been clearly stated by the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment. He believed that in London, and perhaps in other great towns, this law could not be compulsorily carried out without discontent and riots, much more serious than the advocates of the measure would like to provoke. As to the suggested expedients with a view to meet this objection, such as to open a select number of houses, or to open all houses for a short time, he believed that in either case the temptations to drunkenness would remain unchanged. There was, however, he thought, one way in which this measure might be made to work beneficially, and that was by making it permissive. If his hon. Friend would pledge himself to make 296 the Bill permissive, by the addition of a clause to that effect, he would Vote for going into Committee; but if he did not introduce such a provision, he must Vote against the second reading of the Bill, which would, in his opinion, be productive of discontent, riot, and disorder.
§ MR. HORSFALL
said, that before stating certain facts with regard to the borough of Liverpool, he would reply to a few of the observations which had been made by the hon. and gallant Member who had moved the Amendment (Captain Jervis). The hon. and gallant Member had stated that the effect of legislation in Scotland had not been to diminish either the consumption of spirits or the amount of crime. That statement was entirely erroneous. The effect of legislation to check the sale of intoxicating liquors had been quite successful. It appeared from the Returns, that during the five years after the passing of the Forbes Mackenzie Act the consumption of spirits in Scotland had fallen off 750,000 gallons; and as to crime the Royal Commissioners to enquire into the working of that Act said—The improvement in large towns has been most remarkable. Whereas formerly on Sunday mornings numbers of persons, in every stage of intoxication, were seen issuing from the public houses, to the great annoyance of the respectable portion of the population on their way to church, the streets are now quiet and orderly, and few cases of drunkenness are seen. The evidence of the police authorities proved that, while there has been a considerable diminution in the number of cases of drunkenness and disorder since the passing of the Act 16 & 17 Vict., c. 67, the change has been more marked on Sunday than on any other day in the week. Employers of labour and workmen themselves were unanimous in testifying to the great improvement that has taken place in the regularity of the attendance at work on Monday morning; and many publicans examined before us expressed themselves as grateful for the existing law, regarding the cessation of business on Sunday as a boon of which they would not willingly be deprived. It was alleged by some of the witnesses that the improvement to which we have referred is more apparent than real, and that the persons who formerly resorted to public-houses on Sundays now either purchase a supply of spirits on Saturday evening, which they consume next day in their own houses, or obtain drink to as great an extent as before at unlicensed houses, or, as they are termed, 'shebeens,' the number of which is stated to have greatly increased of late years. There may be some truth in these allegations. But we did not obtain any evidence to prove that the practice of drinking to excess in their private houses prevails to a greater extent among the lower orders now than it did formerly. And with regard to 'shebeens,' while the evils arising from them, and the remedies by which these evils may be met, will form the subject of remark here- 297 after, it may be noticed at present that to attribute to them anything like the amount of intemperance which the closing of public-houses has put down is to ignore the evidence already referred to as to the decrease of Sunday convictions, and the increased regularity of attendance by the labouring classes at their work on Mondays.In quoting from the pamphlet, entitled Working of the New Beer Act, the hon. and gallant Gentleman omitted to state that that pamphlet contained eighty-seven Returns from the most important towns in the kingdom, eighty-two of which, including Bradford, were in favour of the Act called Wilson Patten's Act, and thirty thought that it would be an improvement if the public-houses were closed altogether on Sundays. The Return from the Superintendent of police of Harwich, the borough which the hon. and gallant Gentleman represented, was that since the Act came into operation intoxication on Sunday had diminished, crime generally had decreased, and the neighbourhood was on a Sunday quieter and more orderly than before. His hon. and gallant Friend had alleged that this was a measure in the direction of class legislation. It might be class legislation, but its object was to put all parties upon the same footing. But the law as it now stood was class legislation, because it enabled licensed victuallers to entry on their trade on a Sunday, which all other classes were prohibited from doing. Nor was there any foundation for the analogy that was attempted to be set up between public-houses and clubs; in virtue of which discovery the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) had given notice, that if this Bill was agreed to, he should move to include clubs within its operation. But, with all due deference to the logical mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the cases were not at all parallel. Public-houses were houses open to the public, to which every individual had a right to demand access, while clubs were private houses from which the public were excluded, and to which they had no right to demand admission. They were, in a manner, the private residences of many Members of that House and other persons. The hon. and gallant Member for Harwich had referred to the subject of the Petitions which had been presented in favour of this Bill, and to the manner in which he suggested they had been got up. Of the Petitions which he had presented, not one was signed by children; and among them was one signed by several hundred barmen, barmaids, and waiters in public-houses 298 in Liverpool, who prayed the House to give them a day of rest. He now came to the facts connected with Liverpool, which he had promised to state to the House. On the 18th of May a meeting, at which he was present, was held in St. George's Hall) to receive the result of the canvass of that town. There were 4,000 persons inside the Hall, and a large assemblage outside, both of which meetings resolved to petition in support of this Bill. Before the result of the canvass was announced, the Rev. Dr. White stated the mode in which it had been carried out—There were sixteen districts with one man to each, each man being furnished with a section of the Map of Liverpool, with the most stringent and oft-repeated instructions—1st, to omit no house, whether of rich or poor; 2nd, to make no attempt at coercing any to sign any of the papers in particular, or, if unwilling, to sign at all; 3rd, to misrepresent none, but honestly to report the returns made, whatever they were; and lastly, to receive no signature unless made by the principal or by one acting by his or her authority.The result of the canvass so conducted was as follows:—There were in the borough 72,350 houses, of which 5,350 were uninhabited, and 67,000 inhabited. Of the occupants of these houses 6,339 were neutral, 6,417 were for closing except for two hours, 3,330 were against Sunday closing, and 44,100 were for total closing on Sundays. More than this, he had the satisfaction of stating that of the working men who signed the Petition a large majority were in favour of the total closing. In one district, which was chiefly inhabited by working men, 352 artisans were in favour of this Bill, and 55 against it; while 1,687 labourers were in its favour, and only 159 against it. Such a canvass ought to convince any one what were the opinions of those whose judgment it represented; and he had no doubt, that if every large town and rural parish in the country was canvassed, there would be a large majority in favour of this Bill, The hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay) had expressed some apprehension of riots if the Bill passed. He was not afraid of riots, and he earnestly asked the House to pass the second reading of the Bill, which he was convinced would confer social and lasting blessings upon every class of the community.
§ MR. WYKEHAM MARTIN
said, that it was impossible to establish the distinction between clubs and public-houses which the hon. Member for Liverpool had attempted to set up. He believed, that if the Bill were passed, it would stop a traffic 299 that was perfectly innocent—the sale of beer for the dinners and suppers of the working classes, and of a large portion of the middle and professional classes. In London and many large towns Sunday was the only day on which artisans, professional men, and, in many instances, rich merchants dined with their families; and, as described by the Rev. E. Spooner (a near relation, he believed, of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire), in a lecture he had delivered, who was for a long time the clergyman of what he might term a model district in the metropolis, the houses of many of these persons afforded no means of keeping either a dozen of wine or a barrel of beer, and a great deal of the trade done by public-houses on a Sunday consisted of the supply of dinner and supper beer. While Mr. Spooner admitted that in the hands of unscrupulous and greedy landlords public-houses might be converted into horrible and wicked dens, he said that, speaking generally, they were well conducted, and were convenient to all classes as places where they might get small supplies of wine and beer. And it was so—the public-houses were the cellars of the poor, the professional, and almost of the middle classes, in the same way that clubs were the cellars of these who had the means of becoming members of them. Would it not be class legislation to keep open the clubs and to shut up what were practically the clubs of the people? He admitted that the majority of signatures to Petitions was greatly in favour of this Bill, but he was disposed to attribute that not to want of opposition to the measure, but to the fact, that by the Bill being accidentally put down for the Wednesday in Whitsun week, an impression had been created that it was not intended to press it seriously this year. Under these circumstances, his hon. Friend would, if he gained a victory, do injury rather than good to the cause of sobriety and Sabbath observance. In matters which affected the social comfort of the masses, that House ought to follow rather than to endeavour to lead public opinion; and he should therefore recommend that both the Motion and the Amendment should be withdrawn, and that the hon. Gentleman should give notice of his intention to introduce a similar measure next year, and to press it seriously. Every one would then have warning, and time to prepare for the change, if it was made, and no complaints 300 could arise. If, however, such an alteration of the, law was carried out without due notice, dissatisfaction, and possibly, disorder, would be caused, and, possibly, the House might find it necessary to defer to that dissatisfaction and retrace its steps. In such a case there would naturally he a dangerous re-action, and greater evils would be produced than those which it was sought to remedy by this Bill—Those will drink who never drank before,And those who always drank will drink the more.
§ MR. BAINES
thought that there had already been a sufficient indication of what was the opinion of the public upon the question to enable them to act as the hon. Gentleman desired, and to follow that opinion, and that was what this Bill professed to do. Allusion had been made to the riots in Hyde Park in 1855, when a Bill analogous to this was before Parliament. It was true that there were violent demonstrations in 1855 against the Sunday Trading Bill introduced by Lord Robert Grosvenor; but he believed, and the canvass indicated, that during the eight years which had elapsed since that period there had been a great progress in the public sentiment upon this subject. The House should adopt or reject this Bill from facts and evidence, and in his opinion the facts and evidence went to prove the expediency of adopting it. A good deal had been said about the inconveniences which might be caused by the operation of this Bill. What measure would not cause some inconveniences? If the proposal were now first made to set apart one day of the week as a day of rest, many more objections could be raised to it than could be raised against this Bill. But, thank God, they had a Sabbath, and all objections vanished, and the day proved to be one of the greatest blessings conferred upon mankind. He would not quote the opinions of individuals as to the necessity for such legislation as this, but would refer to the Report of Mr. Villiers's Committee in 1854, and refer to the state of things in London and other towns in England, in Scotland, and in Ireland. The Committee reported that the testimony was universal, that the greatest amount of drinking took place on Saturday night and during the hours that the public-houses were open on Sunday; and it was stated that in Marylebone there were on Sunday evenings a greater number of persons in the public-houses than there were in all the churches and chapels. In the course of an investigation recently conducted 301 by the National Temperance League in London it was ascertained that during four hours of Sunday 44,000 persons visited eighty-eight public-houses. When it was remembered that there were in the metropolis 10,000 public-houses, this would give hon. Members some idea of the immense number of persons who visited them every Sunday. The public-houses of Manchester were watched on six successive Sundays in 1853, and it was found that on the average 212,000 visits were paid to them. The Forbes Mackenzie Act was the result of an inquiry in Edinburgh, which showed that a statement that 41,900 persons visited the public-houses in that city every Sunday in 1850 was considerably below the truth. In Liverpool the Superintendent of Police stated that before the public-houses were closed on Sunday mornings the debauchery on those mornings was excessive; and he (Mr. Baines) had obtained a Return from the Superintendent of Police in Leeds, showing that during the last six months there had been eight hundred cases of drunkenness, of which two hundred occurred on Sundays—or one-fourth of the whole, instead of one-seventh, as it would have been had the drunkenness been distributed equally over the days of the week. But were they without evidence how this Bill would work? Restrictions had at various times been placed upon the keeping open of public-houses on Sunday, and all these had been found to operate most beneficially. Mr. Duncan M'Laren, who was Lord Provost of Edinburgh at the time the Act for closing the public-houses passed, had kindly furnished him with statistics enabling him to compare the amount of drunkenness then with that which now existed. During the six months elapsing between September and April, 1853–4, the number of persons found drunk and incapable in the streets of Edinburgh was 2,640. In the corresponding period in 1861–2 the number had fallen to 1,437; and in the same interval in 1862–3 it was 1,102. Persons said, "Oh, but there are some who do not drink on Sun days who drink on other days." But these Returns exhibited the number of arrests made for drunkenness on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays respectively, at the dates he had already mentioned. Taking the Saturdays first, in the six months of 1853–4 669 arrests were made; 345 in 1861–2; and 259 in 1862–3. On Sundays, extending in like manner over the six months of 1853–4, there were 301 302 cases; 125 in 1861–2; and 115 in 1862–3. Then as to Mondays—and this was a test of the correctness of those who held that the Scotch people drank on Monday to make up for their want of drink on Sunday—here were the details: 348 cases in 1853–4; 140 in 1861–2; and 102 in 1862–3. Of actual arrests made in the streets of Edinburgh for drunkenness between eight o'clock on Sunday morning and eight o'clock on Monday morning, there were 173 in the six months of 1853–4; in 1861–2 only thirty-nine; and in 1862–3 but twenty-three. It was impossible to contend against evidence so forcible as that. If additional testimony were wanting, they found it in the addresses of heads of the Roman Catholic Church. The Most Rev. Dr. Dixon, Primate of Ireland, wrote thus—How often are the salutary instructions received in the church forgotten, almost immediately after, in the adjoining public-house! It is not wonderful that the clergy should lament particularly over the evils of Sunday drinking, and labour with a special zeal for its suppression. We rejoice to say that several have succeeded, to a great extent, in this good work. If Sunday drinking were suppressed, we should hear little of those abominable secret societies which have worked such mischief in this country, and to none more than to the members of them; and if this opportunity were taken from him, a great step would be made towards the reformation of the drunkard.The Roman Catholic Bishop of Ferns spoke of the happy results following from the closing of public-houses on Sundays in that diocese, which had been brought about by clerical influence. There could be no doubt that in the long run the publicans themselves, in their moral, and perhaps even in their pecuniary interests, would be gainers by the passing of this measure, and he bad been very much struck by the view that had been taken of the question by a large number of the publicans themselves, who had petitioned in favour of the Bill. If for a time their receipts should be diminished, they would soon regain the average rate of profit on capital and labour. He was bound in candour to admit that he himself had not been originally favourable to this Bill, thinking there was not any likelihood of its being carried. He had even suggested that it should be modified so as to be merely a Sunday Evening Closing Bill. But the interest taken in the measure by the working classes ultimately convinced him that in its present shape it was better adapted to the wishes of the country. At a borough meeting of 4,000 persons held 303 at Leeds, the Mayor in the chair, resolutions in favour of the measure were carried, and on a show of hands only four were held up in opposition to the Bill, those four being suspected of belonging to two persons; and at a meeting of the Working Men's Institute in that town, only six hands were held up for a partial closing on Sunday, and six hundred for entire closing. He treated the supposition that the House would be overawed by riots as absurd, for he trusted it would never again suffer its action to be discredited as it had been once before. If it believed that the real interests of the country and an enlightened public opinion called for the measure, it ought to be passed regardless of clamour, and having passed it, the House ought to stick to it, firm in the conviction that they were conferring one of the greatest possible blessings upon the community.
said, that having on a former evening moved that the House should refuse to allow the Bill to be introduced, he thought it right that he should offer a few observations in explanation of the vote he was about to give upon the present occasion. The House, he conceived, was bound to legislate for the interests of the whole of the people of England, and not for those of any section. Now, notwithstanding all the speeches that had been made in favour of this measure, he felt convinced, that if it was carried, it would be found to be one of the most tyrannical measures that had ever been passed by this House. It would be the merest class legislation they ever saw attempted. The total abstainers would, no doubt, be pleased; but it could make no difference to them whether the public-houses were closed or not—the Bill would be inoperative as to them; while, as regarded the confirmed drunkards, they would continue in spite of the Bill. On the other hand, the sober and moderate consumers of fermented drinks would be shamefully used by the enactment. For those parties those drinks were not intoxicating; they were only intoxicating for people who drank them immoderately. Any one who passed through the streets of London in the early portion of the afternoon on the Sunday, soon after Divine service, must have observed numbers of respectable persons and servants going to the public-house for the purpose of obtaining a moderate allowance of beer for the dinners of themselves and their families. Beer, in the 304 quantities they drank it, was as harmless as water—and what right, had Parliament to exclude them from that enjoyment? Those who had favoured the House with public-house statistics had quite forgotten to state that the great majority of those who entered the public-house on Sunday did so merely for the purpose of procuring a solitary glass of porter. He believed that many persons were misled by the words "intoxicating liquors"—they were only intoxicating to those who used them in excess. It was true that an Act had already been passed for the prevention of the sale of intoxicating liquors on the Sabbath in Scotland; but the position of the labouring classes in Scotland, in reference to that subject, was entirely different from that of the working classes in this country. The Forbes Mackenzie Act was directed against the sale of whisky, which it was shown prevailed in Scotland to an enormous extent. It appeared that in the city of Glasgow alone a sum of £1,200,000 had been expended in the purchase of whisky in a single year. But the habits of the labouring classes in England were altogether different, and whisky as a national beverage was almost unknown; and there could be no reason for passing a special Act directed against its consumption. It was a fallacy to suppose that because partial closing had worked so well, therefore entire closing would be accompanied by still greater benefits. If he believed that the measure would be really attended by greater sobriety, he should be the first to support it; but he believed that its only effect would be to punish sober men by a most tyrannical exclusion.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he should refuse to argue this question upon Sabbatarian grounds. The question how far a man was to keep the Sabbath holy was one for his own conscience, to be decided in a higher Court than even the High Court of Parliament. He would treat the matter as a question of police. It was only as a matter of police regulation that they had a right to interfere with the liberty of the subject, on the question of their food and drink. Even in that House some hon. Members had spoken of the consumption of these drinks as a matter of necessity, while others treated it as a mere luxury. There were three points which he thought important in discussing this question—one, whether the present police law answered; a second, whether it was probable that the measure of the hon. Member for Hull would be an improvement on 305 the existing system; a third, would the carrying out of this measure give rise to greater inconveniences than the corresponding advantages. Now, some persons contended that the House had no right to interfere in this question in any way whatever. But here he might be permitted to read to the House a letter, written by the Under Secretary for the Home Department (Mr. Bruce). The hon. Gentleman asked—If the abuse of lawful pleasures is to be visited by their absolute suppression, where are we to stop? Sunday is not the only day on which men get drunk; why not therefore extend the prohibition to week days? Beer is not the only corrupter of society. Thousands of women owe their ruin to the attractions of dress. Are gay dresses therefore to be suppressed, and all the world clothed in sombre, sad coloured garments? Legislation of this kind is blind and mischievous; but it catches the superficial, and he believed, if carried, would strike a blow at the reasonable recreation of millions.[Loud cheers.] He expected that this letter would be cheered by the opponents of the Bill. But what was the concession that it involved? Why, that to attempt to put down drunkenness would be to restrict the "reasonable recreation of millions." And the argument on which the suppression of the sale of these liquors on Sundays was opposed, was that it would interfere with this recreation. But was not this recreation of drunkenness the fertile source of nine-tenths of the crime and misery of the working classes? On this point he would not trouble the House; but he would proceed to inquire, was the proposal of the hon. Member for Hull likely to be an improvement. He contended that it was. It would be found, that whenever the House had attempted to restrain the sale of liquors, it had always succeeded in diminishing the amount of drunkenness. In the year 1848, a Bill was passed, whereby the public-houses were closed for half a day on Sunday. A subsequent Act, corned by Colonel Wilson Patten, still further curtailing the hours of sale on Sunday, was repealed in consequence of a Report of the Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Berkeley). That Committee spent five days in examining witnesses, and two days in deliberation; twenty-six witnesses gave evidence before them, but twenty-five of these lived in London, and the other, who came from the country, was highly favourable to the Act they proposed to repeal. The hon. Member for Bristol summoned several inspectors of police to attend, but he did not think proper to examine one 306 of them. The Committee, in the opening sentence of their Report, acknowledged that their inquiry was incomplete, and yet upon that Report the House repealed the Act, and were so hasty to do so that they suspended the Orders for the purpose. It had been said that the House was influenced by the Hyde Park riots; but the truth was, those riots sprung up out of a Bill of Lord Robert Grosvenor's on Sunday trading, which had no reference whatever to the sale of liquors. In Ireland, the Roman Catholic clergy had been enabled to stop the sale of liquors on Sunday to some extent, and with the happiest results, thus anticipating what was hoped to be brought about by this Bill. The Scottish Bill, which prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors during the whole of Sunday, met with considerable opposition in Parliament. In 1859 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the working of that Act. They spent several months in examining high and low, rich and poor, the temperance party and the drunken party. They examined in all 750 witnesses; and this Commission, which was asked for by those who considered the Act mischievous, reported favourably of its operation. No doubt, there were inconveniences in closing the public-houses in Scotland during the whole of Sunday; but last Session the hon. Member for Bute brought in a Bill to remedy these inconveniences. That measure was working well, and would be adopted, if necessary, in Committee on this Bill. He had looked through the Petitions published by the Petitions Committee, and had read the articles published in the press, and he could not see any insuperable difficulties in the adoption of this Bill. There was, first, the great excursion train argument. No doubt, the passengers by excursion trains would be inconvenienced by the want of refreshment; but the evil would not be so great as to outweigh the benefit of the Act. Those who travelled by excursion trains were the most frugal of the working classes, and they generally carried their provisions with them. The arguments on this score proceeded, it would be found, from a local class, the Londoners, whose interests were naturally invaded. Then, there was the great "fresh-drawn beer argument." That was, he would admit, the strongest argument against the Bill. There was no difficulty in regard to wines and spirits. Anybody could keep spirits over any number of days—if they did not drink them. He did not 307 speak with authority on this point; but if a case of great hardship were clearly made out in regard to fresh-drawn beer, perhaps it might be met by allowing the public-houses of the metropolis to be open for two hours on Sundays. He did not pledge himself to support such a clause; but when the Bill had been read a second time, this point could be settled in Committee. If it was said that the Bill would not do for London, let the Metropolitan Members, who were twelve or fourteen in number, prove their case in Committee, and propose this Amendment. He did not see, how-ever, why the whole country should suffer from drunkenness because the people of London and Westminster insisted on having fresh-drawn beer on Sundays. One witness examined before the Committee said, indeed, that some people would not care if half the world got drunk, so that they got a good head of beer. The next argument Was, that if the Bill passed, there would be a large illicit sale of spirits and beer on Sundays. In the Report of the Commission on the Forbes Mackenzie Act it was shown that there was no pretence for this assertion; nor was there any more truth in the allegation that the working classes would get drunk in their own houses. The Commission showed, on the other hand, from the evidence before them, that the workmen came to their work more regularly on Monday morning, that they were better off, and that there had been no increase in private drinking. It was necessary for the opponents of this Bill to show why there should be an increase of private drinking in England, when there had been none in Scotland. Another argument was that great numbers of the working classes held the meetings of their clubs and benefit societies in public-houses on Sundays, Mr. Tidd Pratt had shown, however, that the one great cause of the failure of friendly societies was their being held in public-houses at all. He said that the number of societies enrolled in Herefordshire since the beginning of the century was 136. Of these, 123 were commonly held in public-houses, and thirteen in schools and private rooms. Of the 123 no less than twenty-four had been broken up, whilst of the latter only one was dissolved. That was a sufficient answer to this argument. The greatest lion in the way of this Bill was; the argument that there ought not to be one law for the rich and another for the poor. It was a very honourable and noble feeling on the part of the House to manifest this 308 repugnance to make a law for the poor which did not apply to the rich; but the rich man was out of court in this matter. He was neither to be inconvenienced nor benefited. The Bill was for the poor man, and the sole question the House had to consider was whether it was a good Bill for the poor man. A great deal had been said about the promoters of this Bill being actuated by cant and hypocrisy; but could there be a worse description of cant than that which refused to argue such a measure on its merits, and which said, "Don't do good to the poor man because you do not inconvenience the rich?" He only wished that hon. Gentlemen who used this argument would let working men speak for themselves. He maintained that there was no legislation which the working man had so much at heart as a restriction upon the sale of intoxicating drinks. It might be asked why, then, the working men did not keep out of these places? He would admit it would be much better if they would withstand the temptations which beset them at every corner of the street; but they told the House, "Our safety is in removing these temptations from us." He said it was cruel, for the sake of benefiting the Exchequer, to place these temptations in their way. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) stated that 86 per cent of the working men of Liverpool were in favour of this Bill, and an immense number of Petitions had emanated from the Wesleyan body, which was mainly composed of the lower order of the people. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said eight years ago, that if universal suffrage were carried, he believed it would be followed by the shutting up of the public-houses. [Sir GEORGE GREY dissented.] Yes; the right hon. Gentleman made that assertion eight years ago. Then it was said the promoters of this Bill could not carry it against public opinion. Of course not; but how was the House to judge of public opinion, especially of the opinion of those whom they did not represent, except by assuming that the enormous majority of public Petitions and the number of public meetings expressed an overwhelming preponderance of public opinion? It was admitted that there had been a failure in the existing law, and the remedy now proposed had been eminently successful whenever and to whatever extent it had been tried. Let the House now listen to the appeal of the people, and sanction a law which would do more than any other legislation to promote 309 the moral, social, and intellectual progress of the people of this country.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
—Sir, I voted for the introduction of this Bill because I thought it desirable, knowing the great interest which a large number of persons take in the passing of such a measure, that it should not be contemptuously rejected, but should be reserved for a full and ample discussion on the second reading, and I think that the instructive discussion to which we have just listened affords a decided proof of the propriety of the course I pursued when the subject was first brought under our notice. I entertain great respect for the motives of those honourable and conscientious persons who advocate this Bill, but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that many of those who petition for this measure are persons who would gladly Bee an absolute prohibition of the sale of all intoxicating liquors, and who, believing that drunkenness is a fruitful source of crime, think that the law ought to interpose and prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors at all. My hon. Friend who has just sat down (Mr. Lawson), in his very candid speech, admitted that the argument in favour of fresh-drawn beer is irresistible; and he threw out a suggestion which was, in fact, an abandonment of the principle of the Bill, which is that of the entire prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday; because his suggestion that public-houses might be opened for two hours would only place an additional restriction on the number of hours during which public-houses are now allowed to remain open. I understood my hon. Friend also to hint that an exception might be made in Committee in favour of London, which would be an exemption of nearly 3,000,000 persons from the operation of the Bill. If these alterations are made in the principle of the Bill by one of its warmest advocates, it confirms me in the belief I have long entertained, that the more this Bill is discussed the less likely it will be to pass. If this measure should receive the Royal assent, no one will be able to obtain from any public-house a glass of beer or spirits from eleven o'clock on Saturday night until six o'clock on Monday morning through the whole of England. I am bound to look at the possibility of being able to carry out such a measure, if Parliament should pass it, and I believe that it would be altogether impossible to enforce the provisions of this Bill. The inconvenience and privations which such a measure would impose on 310 the masses would be so great that it would not only be impossible to enforce the Bill, but a violent re-action would probably take place, and we should run the risk of an inroad being made upon those salutary restrictions which now exist as to the time during which public-houses are allowed to remain open on Sundays. I listened very attentively to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading of this Bill (Mr. Somes). I supposed we should hear, among other grounds for effecting so important a change in the law, that drunkenness is on the increase, and that the time during which the public-houses are now allowed to be open on Sundays has produced results which call for the interference of Parliament. But I heard no such argument from the hon. Gentleman. He gave us no proof that drunkenness is on the increase, and, indeed, there is good reason to believe that it would have been impossible for him to have advanced any such statement. I have here the last statistical Return laid before Parliament, and which hon. Members will find in the library, of the number of persons in the metropolitan police districts who have been taken into custody (not convicted) for drunkenness, and as drunk and disorderly. In 1854, the number was 22,078. In 1855, when the Act of my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Patten) came into operation, there was a great decrease—namely, from 22,078 to 19,479. In 1856 there was a further diminution to 18,700. In the years 1859, 1860, and 1861 there was a progressive decrease. In 1859 the number was 18,779; in 1860, 18,199; in 1861 it bad diminished to 17,059. These Returns show a great and continuous decrease in drunkenness, consequent upon rational restrictive regulations; and that in 1861, as compared with 1855, the year in which, according to the hon. Member, the drunkenness was so great, there was a diminution of more than 2,000 in the number taken into custody. This, too, was during a period of seven years when the population was rapidly increasing. A similar state of things appears to have prevailed in the great towns throughout the country. A great deal has been said in regard to Liverpool, but the Returns from that town for the last three years likewise show a diminution in the number of persons taken into custody for drunkenness. In 1859 the number was 11,037; in 1860, 10,963; 311 and in 1861 it had diminished to 9,832. These figures certainly furnish no reason why the House should endeavour to check the consumption of intoxicating liquors by any violent and precipitate measure. The arguments urged by the hon. Member who first spoke, and repeated by others, are, that drunkenness is a fruitful source of crime; secondly, that public opinion has been very decidedly expressed in favour of such a measure—such public opinion having been ascertained by a house-to-house canvass; thirdly, reliance is placed on the success of the Bill of my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Patten), which: restricts the hours during which beer and spirits may be sold oh Sundays; and fourthly, an appeal is made to the experience of the Forbes Mackenzie Act in Scotland, and the result of the Commission of Inquiry into the operation of that Act. As to the first argument, that drunkeness' is a fruitful source of crime, no one will dispute it, but it does not advance the case for this Bill one seep. If those who promote this Bill think that the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors for one, day in the week is a check upon crime, then the prohibition for seven days in the week would be a still more effectual check upon drunkenness and crime. The next argument is as to the opinion of the public as it has been ascertained by a canvass. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall) says that the working classes of that town are in favour of this Bill. I had the honour of receiving a deputation from various parts of the Country in favour of the measure. One gentleman told me that so many thousand persons were in favour of this Bill, and he also told me how many thousand were householders. I asked him how many adult working people there were who were not householders, and whose opinion had not been taken, and he could not give me an answer. I found that Sheffield had been so canvassed, and that 13,165 householders were in favour of a total closing of public-houses on Sundays. But does that represent the opinion of the working classes of Sheffield? The hon. and learned Gentleman who represents that town (Mr. Roebuck) has presented a Petition against this Bill, signed by 24,000 adult males employed in manual labour at Sheffield. That fact shows that the canvass of which we have heard did not elicit the opinion of the operatives on the subject. A Petition has also been presented, signed by 10,000 working men at Newcastle 312 against this Bill, and another from 20,000 adult males of the working classes of Halifax. When, therefore, we are told that there has been an active canvass from house to house, and that a large majority of the people of this country are in favour of the Bill, I cannot take that as demonstrating the opinion of the working classes, or assume that they are asking Parliament to subject them to the deprivations and inconveniences which will follow from the adoption of this measure. Then, as to the success of the Act of my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wilson Patten), I should be disposed to find in that success the strongest argument against the present Bill. If there was a sensible diminution of drunkenness under that Act, which left the public-houses open for six hours on Sundays, and if the result was so satisfactory as almost to cause the Monday cases of drunkenness to disappear, are the promoters of this Bill entitled to draw from such an improvement an argument that we ought absolutely to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays? That Act was passed after full inquiry by a Committee, over which my right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. C. P. Villiers) presided. That Committee recommended, that with the exception of the hours from one to two o'clock p.m., and from six till nine p.m., all places for the sale of intoxicating drinks should be closed on Sunday. The Committee added to that recommendation another—namely, "that it is expedient that all places of rational recreation and instruction now closed should be open to the public after the hour of two p.m." That recommendation was not acted upon, and my hon. and gallant Friend brought in a Bill founded on the first Resolution. That measure was passed after full communication with different persons, and my hon. and gallant Friend was under the impression that the matter was permanently settled. But the Act had not been ten months in operation before the privations and inconveniences to which the public were exposed compelled the Legislature to interfere. An inquiry took place, and the present law was passed, under which public-houses close at twelve on Saturday night, and do not open until one p.m. on Sunday. They are closed again from three to five on Sunday afternoon. They are then again opened until eleven p.m. on Sunday night, when they close until four on Monday morning. Under the operation of this Act there has been a sensible and progressive 313 decrease in the amount of drunkenness, not only in London and Liverpool, but, I believe, in other parts of the country. I do not Bay that the decrease of drunkenness is attributable solely to the present law, because it is owing in a great measure to the improved education of the people, to moral influences, and to those arguments addressed to the reason and understanding which dissuade men from abusing the gifts of Providence, and lead them to use those gifts in moderation. I believe that this wholesome state of things will be endangered by the passing of this Bill. With regard to the opinion of the magistrates, I think there was not one who was examined before the Select Committee who advocated the total prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday. I do not know, indeed, one single authority of weight and influence in favour of the principle of this measure. The last argument in favour of the Bill to which I will advert is that drawn from the success of a similar measure—the Forbes Mackenzie Act—in Scotland. In the first place, however, the observance of the Sabbath is much more strict in Scotland than here; and another reason is that beer is not the beverage of the working classes in that country—their usual drink is whisky. That is a most important distinction, because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lawson)has said, spirits can be kept in the house any length of time if you do not drink them. If any hon. Member walks in the streets after church on Sunday mornings, he will see a Dumber of well-dressed and well-conducted persons—young men and young women—coming from the public-houses with jugs in their hands, containing fresh-drawn beer. But what would be the operation of this Bill? Not one of those persons would he able to get this fresh-drawn beer; and any one who knows the condition of the habitations of the working classes would be able to say whether beer, either kept in bottles or put away in vessels on a shelf in the miserable places where these people too often sleep, would be drinkable or not on Sunday. The House ought to have some very cogent reason for interfering in this manner with the innocent enjoyment of a wholesome beverage which working men now drink with their families at dinner on Sundays. Another argument against this Bill is to be found in the great number of excursion trains. Gentlemen who have looked at the evidence before the Committee will find that there was a great difficulty in defining 314 what was a bonâ fide traveller. A difference of opinion arose as to the meaning of the term, some contending that excursionists to Richmond and Kew were bonâ fide travellers, and others being of opinion that the words "bonâ fide" meant that people must be travelling for some purpose of necessity, and not of pleasure. Those words were left out of the subsequent Act which permitted the sale of liquors to travellers. Look, then, what the result of this Bill would be upon the domestic habits of the great bulk of the working classes, supposing the present exemption in favour of travellers were maintained. The man who is determined to have his beer and spirits puts himself into one of these excursion trains, and at every station at which the train stops he may consume any amount of beer and spirits; but the quiet domestic people, who stay at home and go to church, cannot get any. I must say that the opinion which I expressed upon the first reading, that I should not be able to vote for the second reading of the Bill, has been fully confirmed by the arguments which I have heard. I hope, therefore, that the House will not sanction the principle of the Bill; and I must say I wish that the persons who advocate this measure so strongly would trust more to the influence of good principles implanted in the minds of the people than to the attempt altogether to remove temptation out of their way, and would rather appeal to their moral feelings than rely upon restrictive Acts of Parliament. They have already done much good by their advocacy of temperance, and are entitled to much praise; but I fear they would only mar the result of their labours by inducing Parliament—if unfortunately it should be induced—to pass a law which would be opposed to the feelings and the habits of the great body of the people.
MR. H. BERKELEY
said, he had been alluded to by his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle in his character of Chairman of the Committee of 1855, on the question of the closing of public-houses on Sunday; and his hon. Friend had thought proper to speak in terms of disparagement of the acts of that Committee. Some allowance must be made for the statements and opinions of his hon. Friend, who, in his horror of drunkenness, a feeling shared in by almost every Member of that House, had actually become such a convert to water that he stood forth quite a river-god—a kind of Parliamentary Acis. His hon. Friend said that the Committee in question had ex-amined 315 witnesses whom they ought not to have examined, and had left unexamined persons whom they ought to have examined. Now, the Committee was formed of Members of the greatest possible weight in that House. He begged to recall their names to the attention of the House:—The Right Hon. C. P. Villiers, Sir William Jolliffe, Sir Patrick O'Brien, Sir John Pakington, The Hon. Henry Brand, Sir William Clay, Mr. Cobbett, Mr. Scholefield, Mr. Gregson, Mr. Cheetham, Major Baring, Mr. Ker Seymer, Mr. Massey, Lord Harry Vane—himself as Chairman. With respect to the witnesses examined, they comprised all the Metropolitan Police Magistrates, the Commissioners of Police, and several other persons of great authority. Sir Richard Mayne stated that 3,000 persons had been conveyed by excursion trains occasionally without having the power of obtaining either food or drink, and he expressed himself in favour of a repeal of the Act with reference to the closing of public-houses on Sunday. The Magistrates disagreed with each other as to the meaning of the word bonâ fide traveller, and some of them gave interpretations which were perfectly monstrous. Eventually the question had to be settled by the Judges. He could see nothing in the conduct of the people in 1863 which called for more stringent measures than were necessary in 1855. On the contrary, he believed that the people had shown perfect power to guide themselves without vexatious Acts of Parliament.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had misrepresented the Bill when he described it as a Bill for the total prohibition of the sale of liquors on the Sunday. The preamble of the Bill merely stated, that whereas the existing law had done great good in closing public-houses during a portion of the Sunday, the present Bill proposed to extend the law to the whole of the day; but it did not say anything about total prohibition of the kind of sale which the present law retained. He (Mr. Adderley) was opposed to some of the provisions of the Bill, which he thought too stringent; but, at the same time, he was anxious to see the measure passed through a second reading, in order that the clauses might be so altered in Committee as would meet all the objections urged by the right hon. Baronet, and assimilate the provisions of the Bill to the principles contained in the preamble. The present measure was primarily aimed against drunkenness, only 316 incidentally for the better observance of Sundays, and the right hon. Gentleman said they could not legislate against drunkenness unless they went the whole length of the Maine Liquor Law. But there was surely some other alternative. He (Mr. Adderley) contended that drunk-enness had recently increased in consequence of their own legislation, though in the long run it was diminishing throughout the country; and it was manifest to all persons of common sense that it was more likely drunkenness should take place on a Sunday than any other day, for the simple reason that the labouring population not only had more leisure then, but they had also more money to spend. He denied that the Bill was intended, as the hon. Member for Dorsetshire had said, to destroy the legitimate alliance between John Bull and John Barleycorn—at the same time, he believed that it would tend materially to diminish drunkenness. He was indeed happy to see that drunkenness was by no means so generally prevalent now as it was fifty years ago, when it pervaded almost every class of the community. But although drunkenness in this country had greatly diminished since that time, that did not do away with the fact that drunkenness bad been stimulated by the beershops, and prevailed to a frightful extent on the premises of public-houses during the hours in which they were allowed to be open on Sundays. The evil was far too great and far too notorious to be pooh-poohed by the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Gentleman said they could not secure sobriety by legislation; but they had produced drunkenness by legislation, and what this Bill proposed was to legislate against the legislation by which they had produced drunkenness. He (Mr. Adderley) thought the more effectual way of encountering the evil would be by dealing with the Excise laws; to do away with the extension of the excise licence system to beer-houses, which he considered had occasioned the greatest mischief throughout the country. This question of limiting the hours of drinking on the premises where drink was sold, was simply one of degree. A previous enactment closed the public-houses during Divine service on Sundays. The object of this Bill was to extend that law to the whole day. He believed, that if they could poll all the large towns in England, they would find a great majority of the inhabitants in favour of this measure. The influence of the publicans was no 317 doubt strong the other way. On the grounds he had stated, he was not prepared to vote against the second reading, although he thought that material alterations and amendments might be made in the clauses when the measure went into Committee.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, the right hon. Gentleman had charged him with misrepresenting the principle of the Bill. In reply to that, he had only to say that the Bill was for the closing of public-houses on the Sunday—for absolutely prohibiting the sale of beer, wine, or spirits from eleven o'clock on Saturday night to six o'clock on Monday morning.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
, who rose amid continuous cries for a division, said, as one of the largest employers of labour in the kingdom, he asked the House to hear him for a few minutes. He thought that in legislation on this subject they were bound to consider the feelings of the working classes. Now, from what he knew of the feelings of the working classes, he must say they were not prepared for a measure such as that. Nor was that the way in which the question should be dealt with. If the legislation of that House was to have any value in the eyes of the working classes, it must be just and equal. Let hon. Gentlemen be prepared to deal with their own comforts in the same way; let them lay a fine upon the recipients of fish on the Sunday mornings, and let those who had the good things of this life in abundance show that they were prepared to set an example of keeping the Sabbath holy, and then they might legislate for the working classes without exciting jealousy or ill-feeling. He denied that the question treated in this Bill was one of degree. In point of fact, the Bill was one for closing public-houses on Sundays altogether. If such a measure was required, they might depend upon it they would hear more of it next Session, and they would do no harm if they prevented it being read a second time on this occasion.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that in voting for the second reading of the Bill he did so on the distinct understanding that the hon. Member who had charge of it would accede to the proposal of his hon. Friend that the Bill should be not only modified by the Committee, but should be rendered permissive. They had it in evidence that the great majority of the people of Liverpool desired the passing of some such Bill; and when it was admitted that they had legislated in such a manner as to have brought on the country evils which had been complained 318 of before that House, he thought they were justified in proposing fur adoption the propositions that were contained in this Act. He would therefore support the second reading of the Bill, with a view of rendering it permissive, in order that the people of Liverpool and other places might relieve themselves from the evils which had sprung out of the previous legislation of the House. He contended that the issue of licences to beer-houses had led to a most unwholesome state of competition in the trade, and had been the means of spreading great evil among the labouring community. He thought, therefore, the House would do great injustice if they determined at once to reject the second reading of the Bill.
[The hon. Members who now addressed the House spoke amid continuous cries for a division, and were consequently very imperfectly heard.]
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
said, he always understood that in voting for the second reading of a Bill they voted for its preamble. But a great part of the argument of the hon. Baronet the Member for Finsbury (Sir Morton Peto) was founded, not on the preamble, but on the clauses of the Bill. But the preamble of the Bill was to the effect that the provisions of the law now in force having been found to be attended with great public benefit, it was important to extend them. He was one of those who thought the provisions of the existing law could be beneficially extended, and it was with that view he should vote for the second reading.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, the only part of the Bill which he approved was its non-permissive character. If they were to have prohibition, let it be by the legislation of Queen, Lords, and Commons, binding the whole country; and let them not leave the people to be dealt with in any particular place by the decisions of, perhaps, a small majority.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he was about to vote against the second reading, because he felt that the Bill, if passed, would throw an impediment in the way of the only legislation which he wished to see carried into effect—namely, the revision of the licensing system. Their object should be to prevent drunkenness, not only on Sundays, but on 319 every other day, and that could only be done by improving the character of the houses licensed to sell liquors.
§ MR. AYRTON
desired to get a distinct answer from the hon. Gentleman to the question, whether he considered the entire closing of public-houses the principle of his Bill, or whether, if the Bill were read a second time, he himself would amend it by making it permissive?
§ LORD HARRY VANE
said that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns) had put a false issue before the House. It was perfectly clear, from the title of the Bill, that it was absolute—that title was, "A Bill for Closing Public-houses on Sunday."
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 278: Majority 175.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to:—Bill put off for three months.