§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. RYLANDS
, in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he might remark that the Government measure was altogether one which, 349 though they might differ from its details, must have satisfied the House as to the desire of Government to deal with that important question, and he felt grateful to the Government for having attempted to deal with a matter affecting so materially the welfare of the country at large. He had hoped, from the course the Government took in regard to that Bill that he should have been relieved from the necessity of troubling the House with the second reading of the Bill which was now before it. The Government proposed some important limitations in respect of the Sunday traffic. They proposed to limit the hours during which publichouses should be allowed to be open on Sunday, with option to the magistrates and ratepayers to close on Sunday altogether, and they also proposed a six-days' licence. It seemed to him that in all these particulars the Bill of the Government was one which was worthy of support, and he regretted very much that, under the circumstances, the Bill was withdrawn before it had been properly discussed on the second reading. The Bill was no doubt withdrawn partly in consequence of the great pressure of Public Business. No doubt the Government wished to meet, as far as possible, the desire of the public to bring about a solution of the drink question. The fact was, however, that they brought forward a larger number of measures than by any probability they could carry through the House. The public generally should understand it was not by any means the occasion of rapid progress of legislation that the Government should bring forward a large number of measures at the commencement of the Session. The Government, he held, ought to be satisfied with attempting less, and the probability was, by attempting less they would accomplish more. No doubt the Bill was also withdrawn in consequence of the great opposition which was excited throughout the country by those who were enlisted in the trade. He hoped, however, the experience the Government had had in connection with that Bill would induce them, in dealing with this subject, to follow the advice of his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), and keep "on the lines of the Constitution." He objected to new-fangled modes of dealing with matters of this kind. If the 350 Government contented themselves with dealing with the question in accordance with the previous legislation of this country, they might do a great amount of good in restricting the drink traffic, without creating any considerable amount of opposition. It seemed to him, as he had already said, by continuing the means of legislation that had before been adopted, they could direct their attention to the broad task of dealing with two important points — namely, the lessening the number of houses, by raising the rateable qualification, and by increasing the difficulty in obtaining new licences for new property; and by restricting the number of hours that houses were to be open. Now, he went entirely with the hon. Baronet the Member for West Essex (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), who had expressed similar opinions, and who, by legislation, had shown on that great question that they could not hope to deal with it all at once, but must proceed gradually in dealing with a great interest of that sort. In their endeavour to limit the evils which were admitted, he granted that they should proceed with as much rapidity as possible; but they should also see that they did not create such a convulsive feeling of opposition as arose from the propositions of the Government, which were of a now and peculiar character. Now, he ventured to propose this measure for closing publichouses on Sunday, on the ground that it would deal with a very important part of the reform of the drink traffic, that it would, as far as it went, have a material effect in limiting the evils which arose from the sale of drink; and he thought he might ask the Government and the House to support the second reading of the Bill, on two grounds. First, it was quite clear from the evidence before the Select Committee of 1868, that the amount of drunkenness and crime, and all those evils that flooded the country in consequence, were not only largely produced by Sunday drinking, but that they were also on the increase, and therefore it was in his judgment one of the first points to which the attention of the House should be directed. The other reason why that Bill should receive favourable consideration was that public opinion was more advanced on that particular point of the reform of the drink traffic than upon any other of the various 351 propositions which had been made with a view of limiting the evils. That measure had not only the support of that very large number of persons—the extreme advocates of temperance reform, of whom the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who sat near him, would allow him to place him at the head — and a very worthy head he was—but there was also a very large amount of public opinion amongst moderate men, who were not prepared to go to the full extent with his hon. Friend, and who were not prepared to adopt total abstinence principles; but still thought the time had come for the Government to deal with closing Sunday traffic in publichouses. With reference to the point as to the proportion of crime and drunkenness produced by Sunday trading in publichouses, he might say that the Select Committee which sat in 1854 reported that from the evidence given, a considerable amount of drunkenness and crime arose out of Sunday trading—the fact seemed to be unquestionable. He would not trespass at any length on the time of the House in quoting statistics, but perhaps he might be allowed to allude to a few cases, without wearying the House. [The hon. Member proceeded to read from Returns from Manchester and Liverpool. From the Report of Captain Palin, Chief Constable of the former place, there were apprehended for drunkenness on ordinary days and on Sundays. In 1866, ordinary days, 22; Sundays, 40; 1867, ordinary days, 28; Sundays, 48; 1868, ordinary days, 24; Sundays, 37; 1869, ordinary days, 29; Sundays, 42. Mr. Greig, the Chief Constable of Liverpool, gave a Return of the number of prisoners taken into custody for drunkenness between 12 P.M. on Saturdays and 12 P.M. on Sundays, for 52 weeks, from October 4, 1868, to September 26, 1869 — namely, drunk and disorderly males, 1,952; females, 1,665; drunk and other offences, males, 361; females, 118; total, 4,096. These figures showed an average of 78 each Sunday, and 42 each week day—a result showing that the same state of affairs existed at Liverpool as at Manchester.] There was another valuable class of evidence to which he wished to refer—that of chaplains of gaols. [The hon. Member then read letters from the Rev. G. Hans Hamilton, chaplain of Durham Gaol, 352 and the Rev. W. Cane, chaplain of the County Gaol, Manchester, the former of whom stated that—"Half the crime of the county was committed between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning;" and the latter gave Returns of committals, from which it appeared that of 1,037 committals, 343 were brought in on Mondays; both in the most decided manner connecting this state of crime with the publichouses and beershops.] He thought those cases must satisfy everyone that in dealing with crime and the evils arising from drunkenness, that one of the first points to which attention must be directed was that of Sunday drinking. He could multiply those cases to a very large extent; but he refrained from doing so, because he believed he had quoted enough to illustrate the fact. The other point which was strongly in favour of legislation on this question was the fact that public opinion was more ripe on the subject of Sunday drinking and Sunday closing than upon any other part of the question. On that he also held in his hand abundant evidence to show that wherever public opinion had been actually and correctly ascertained, it had been shown that a large portion had expressed a decided opinion in favour of closing publichouses on Sunday. For instance, at—
At Liverpool, of 67,000 inhabited houses, 44,149 were absolutely in favour of Sunday closing; while the whole United Kingdom showed a grand total of 349,193 householders in favour of Sunday closing, 59,885 against, and 37,649 neutral. This was sufficient to prove the fact that, at all events, there was a very large proportion of the population who were desirous of keeping public-houses closed on Sunday; and so far as the association in favour of that object was concerned, they did believe, after making very careful inquiries, that a very considerable number of the working classes was in favour of it; and as regarded the middle classes—the magistrates and the clergy—no hon. Gentleman in that House could say that that was not their wish. There were many who did not go the length of saying that publichouses should be entirely 353 closed, who were strongly in favour of considerable restrictions as to the hours they should be open. He would also remind the House of the important declaration signed by magistrates which he had the honour of presenting to the Home Secretary a few weeks ago, and he might add that that memorial might have been very much extended if the attempt had been made. He begged to assume, therefore, that, at all events, the extent of popular opinion was generally in favour of Sunday closing, or for a very large amount of restriction. He ventured also to say that among the trade, which was particularly interested in this question, that there was no small amount of opinion in favour of closing on the Sundays. He had known efforts made by publicans themselves, by mutual agreement, to close their houses on the Sunday, and those agreements had been carried out for a length of time; but they had ultimately been compelled to give them up in consequence of two or three of the landlerds refusing to be bound by the agreement, thus obliging the others to re-open their houses. One case of that kind had come particularly under his notice. A friend of his own, a brewer who owned a large number of publichouses in Liverpool closed his houses on Sunday, and would have continued to do so, but he could not induce other landlords to do the same. The name of that gentleman was Mr. Peter Walker, a gentleman who he thought was well known to some hon. Members of that House. In the evidence given before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, a Memorial was presented by the Liverpool publicans in favour of Sunday closing, and of the passing of an Act compelling those houses to be closed. Out of 1,400 publicans in Liverpool, no less than 757 signed the document, in which they distinctly stated that they were in favour of an Act of Parliament being passed, compelling all persons who kept publichouses to close them on Sundays; 113 said they would be glad of the Act, but would not sign; 251 refused to sign, and were believed to be opposed to Sunday closing; and the remainder of the number included persons who were neutral, or who thought that the houses should be permitted to be kept open for an hour or two, or who declined to sign the document at all. Thus it would be seen that out of 1,400 354 publicans of Liverpool, more than one-half had expressed a positive and decided opinion in favour of closing on Sundays. At Goole, of 34 publichouses visited, there were 16 ayes, 8 noes, and 10 neutral. An eminent brewer, Mr. Alderman Mackie, of Manchester, who was largely engaged in the liquor traffic in Dublin, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Birkenhead, London, and Brighton, and had been in business for more than 40 years, had never opened one of his publichouses on Sundays. He stated, in his evidence before the Select Committee, that a number of publicans would be very well satisfied to close on Sunday, and some of the best did close on that day; but others were afraid that if they did not open on Sunday and their neighbour did, and so got his customers on the Sunday, he would also get them in the course of the week. Hon. Gentlemen now met them, when they proposed to deal with this question of the liquor traffic, with the assertion that there was a large amount of capital employed in the trade, and they assigned that as a reason why they should not touch it, unless they gave the publicans some compensation. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. M. T. Bass) had, on the authority of Professor Levi. estimated the amount of capital employed in the trade as £117,000,000, or a larger capital than was employed in their great staple trades of cotton and woollen manufactures, and it was urged that they should therefore be careful how they touched a trade which had so large a capital invested in it. He was not at all inclined to dispute the figures of those who made that estimate of the amount of capital employed in that trade. That estimate might be exaggerated, but he was prepared to take Professor Levi's estimate, and he asked what comparison there was between their cotton and woollen trades — industries which provided the comforts and necessaries of life for a great portion of their people, with a traffic which filled their gaols and their workhouses? He thought there was too much capital in that trade and too much liquor drank. He was not without statistics on that point, but did not wish to weary the House with them. He would, however, refer to some which had been prepared in a very careful manner by Dr. Samuel Smiles in The British Almanack, where he had published somo 355 very important statistics relating to the drink traffic, and which he would just mention to show how that great capital provided for the requirements of the people of that country. Of spirits nearly 30,000,000 gallons, or a quantity equal to four gallons for each adult male, was consumed in the United Kingdom in the year. The consumption of beer in England was 30 gallons per head in the year 1868. In Scotland it was 11 gallons, and in Ireland 8; or, in other words, at the rate of 120 gallons per head for each adult male in England, 44 in Scotland, and 32 in Ireland. He would now show what had been the cost to each adult male. In England he spent £3 15s. 6d. per year in spirits, and £7 in beer, or, on both beer and spirits, £10 15s. 6d. In Scotland the expenditure was £5 8s. per adult male on spirits, and £2 11s. 4d. on beer, or £7 19s. 4d. altogether; while in Ireland the amount spent was £3 3s. on spirits, and £1 17s. 4d. on beer, or £5 0s. 4d. on both. The sum expended on wines had not been included, but it had been estimated that the entire expenditure on intoxicating liquors of all kinds was £90,000,000 a-year, or £3 per head for the entire population, and it was calculated that the working classes spent in drink not less than one-sixth of their entire earnings. He thought, then, that was a matter of a sufficiently serious character to claim both from the Government and the House the most careful attention. It was a matter which touched every important influence in that country, and seemed to lie at the root of every great industrial social question which they had to deal with. It lay at the root of local taxation and all social problems. They had been told that it was not within their power—that they could not prevent men from drinking if they wanted to drink. He did not suppose that they could keep one who was suffering from dipsomania from drinking, for there were people who would get drunk whenever they could. They were people who required the attention of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. D. Dalrymple), and might be fit inmates of our lunatic asylums; but there were numbers of persons who were not suffering from dipsomania, and who would not drink but for the facilities for drink, and the temptations that were offered to them. If they permitted a number of gin palaces to be opened on 356 the Sunday, and shut up all rational places of amusement and recreation, he said they had no right to expect that men would not yield to the temptation. He had been told that he wanted to rob the working man of his beer; but he did not want to do it. He was quite willing that the working man should have his beer at the proper time. He wanted a man to have his pint of beer if he wanted it; but what he wanted to rob him of was the opportunity of going into a publichouse on Sunday, and robbing his family of their subsistence—of sotting in a publichouse and then returning home, to the injury of his wife and family. But he was now met with the charge that if they closed the public-houses, working men would not be able to get any beer for Sunday. He ventured to dispute that statement altogether. Mr. Alderman Mackie, of Manchester, in the course of his evidence before the Select Committee, was asked—
Houses visited. For. Against. Neutral. Crewe … 2,951 2,036 357 163 Goole … 1,214 1,108 22 80 Bradford many thousand many thousand 1,409 2,355Do many working men within your knowledge buy their beer on Saturday night and keep it for Sunday's dinner?And he replied—I know of my own personal knowledge that hundreds and thousands do.It was also stated in the Report of the Committee of 1854—That it is the practice of such publicans as close on Sundays—and there seem to be many who close throughout the country—to provide their customers with stone bottles and jars in which to take their beer home, well corked, on Saturday night for Sunday's use. The best evidence that the practice is found to answer is that they none of them speak either of complaints of their customers or loss of custom.No doubt the trade could soon adapt itself to the new conditions under which it would be placed were publichouses closed on Sundays; but even if they could not do otherwise, he would rather they charged more for their beer in order to pay the additional cost of bottling, for the working men would gain a great advantage by the exchange. There was another argument in support of the Bill to which he should but briefly refer. Every stop taken in favour of restrictive legislation had always resulted in a diminution of drunkenness. His right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson-Patten) succeeded a few years ago in passing a Bill which considerably diminished the hours of opening publichouses on Sundays. That Bill was known as "The Wilson-Patten 357 Act," and was in operation for about twelve months, and during the time that Act was in operation there was abundant testimony given throughout the whole country showing that drunkenness had been diminished to a very large extent, and that crime also had been stopped. There was the testimony of mayors of towns, and of police officers, showing and proving that there had been a diminution of drunkenness. In the town of Liverpool the Reports of the police force were most remarkable. The London police courts were described as presenting a striking and unusual appearance, owing to the great reduction of the number of night charges caused by Sunday drinking. In Preston, the chaplain of the gaol stated that it had had a very marked effect on the number of committals for drunkenness. Mr. Clay (the chaplain) said that the number of commitments for four mouths prior to the passing of the Act were 171, and for four months after the passing of the Act, 90, showing a reduction of nearly one-half in the number of convictions for drunkenness. But that Act was unfortunately repealed. There was no manifestation throughout the country generally against the working of that Act. It was known perfectly well in this House that the dissatisfaction was created by a number of persons who raised complaints, and who were represented in this House by Mr. Berkeley. It so happened that, in 1855, Lord Robert Grosvenor brought in a Bill interfering with Sunday trading which excited a large amount of opposition; mobs assembled in Hyde Park, some rioting ensued, and a few windows were broken; but the Bill against which those demonstrations were held did not deal with publichouses at all, nor were they caused by the Wilson-Patten Act. Mr. Berkeley, however, came down to the House, and intimated that the riots made it important that the Act should be repealed. Though he said again that the Bill against which these demonstrations were held did not deal with the subject of closing houses at all, under this pressure, represented by Mr. Berkeley, a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the operations of the Act. That Committee was a packed one, and did not contain a sufficient representation of opinion on the subject. It met with a foregone conclusion, and refused 358 to receive the evidence which had been brought up from all parts of the country, and the witnesses who were ready to be heard. There was important evidence ready to be heard; but the Committee met and passed a resolution recommending that the Act should be repealed. That was when the riots had taken place. It was a remarkable fact, and he challenged contradiction on this point—that there was no allusion in the newspaper reports of the day to the riots as being caused by the Wilson-Patten Act, neither was there any allusion to it in the Report of the Select Committee. He therefore asked the opponents of that Bill, why, and on what grounds, they rested their opposition to this Act on account of the riots of 1855. These riots had not any reference to that Act at all, and he challenged them to show that they had. Restrictions had produced beneficial results in Scotland by diminishing the amount of criminality and the number of cases of drunkenness. The Forbes-Mackenzie Act was still in operation there; and although hon. Gentlemen might say that if a large number of publichouses were closed on Sundays there were numerous "shebeens" open, yet the fact remained that there was a much smaller number of drunken cases before the magistrates. For example, in 1852, 401 persons were taken tip in the streets of Edinburgh between 8 o'clock on the Sunday morning and the same hour on Monday; but in 1867 there were only 33. In 1852, 776 persons were taken into custody for being drunk on the Monday; but in 1867 there were only 200; and while, in 1852, the average number of prisoners in Edinburgh Gaol was 619, in 1867 it was only 337. In Ireland there was no law to prevent the selling of drink on Sunday; but in some districts voluntary arrangements, which had almost the force of law, had been carried out under the authority and sanction of the Roman Catholic Bishops. He begged to call the attention of the House to the evidence furnished by Canon Toole, of Manchester, as to the effect produced in the county of Tipperary. The Governor of Cashel prison, Mr. D. O'Kearney, writing to Canon Toole in September last, said—The voluntary temperance law as established in this diocese has been observed with the greatest fidelity, and it is to be hoped that the success which has attended its promulgation and enforce- 359 ment here will induce the rest of the Catholic Prelates to introduce it into their respective dioceses. The habit once overcome on Sundays—the day on which it is unhappily most largely indulged in, its gradual decline during the rest of the week may be calculated upon, and the profanation of the Sabbath by the commission of sins which are almost uniformly the concomitant of intoxication, will no longer be the scandal, the curse, and the reproach of the otherwise moral and religious people.Canon Toole proceeded to say that in Tipperary Gaol, prior to the introduction of the change in 1857, there were 817 commitments, in 1869 only 145; in the prison of Cashel, in 1857, there were 439, and in 1866, 115. Overlooking a number of other places, he would come to New Birmingham, where, in 1857, they had 588 prisoners, whilst in 1869 the prison was closed. In the Cashel bridewell, in 1858, there were 106 prisoners arrested on the Sunday, in 1867 there were 4. In 1858 the total commitments were 727, of whom 527 were for drunkenness; in 1869 there were 205, of whom 115 were for drunkenness. He had shown that Sunday drinking was a great cause of evil, and that any restrictions upon it must reduce crime to a great extent. It did appear to him that after evidence of that kind there should be great hesitation on the part of the Government, and great reserve on the part of the House generally in opposing this Bill. He ventured to submit to the Government, that while that Bill might be considered by some hon. Members to be extreme and not sufficiently elastic, if they would give him their support on that occasion, he should be quite willing to see in Committee such a careful consideration of the provisions as would prevent the operation of Sunday closing coming with too great a shock, and thus creating too much opposition on the part of those who would be affected. He should regard that as a decided step towards the absolute cessation of Sunday drinking; and as there was a general expectation and hope on the part of the community that that Session would not pass without some reform in the liquor traffic, he confidently commended that Bill to the notice of the House for second reading.
§ MR. BIRLEY
, in rising to second the Motion, observed that in Manchester there was a strong feeling against keeping open publichouses on Sunday. A Petition on the subject had been pre- 360 sented, signed by 70,000 of the inhabitants of that city, and he believed that an immense proportion of the working classes throughout the country were influenced by a sincere and earnest feeling to restrict the liquor traffic. He regretted that the Licensing Bill of the Home Secretary failed, and although many persons objected to piecemeal legislation, he trusted the House would give its sanction to the Bill now before them, the passing of which would not interfere with any general measure that might hereafter be brought forward by the Government. Very large numbers of the publicans desired to close their houses on Sunday, and to observe that day as a day of rest; and, considering that the Legislature had restricted the hours of labour in factories and workshops, he (Mr. Birley) trusted they would not manifest any indifference to the enormous toil which the servants in publichouses and beershops had to undergo on Sunday. If the law assimilated the trading of beershops with other trades, no effort to open beershops for the sake of more indulgence in tippling would be countenanced for a moment. What would be the position of the traveller under this Bill? The bonâ fide traveller, instead of finding a house filled with all the vagrant scum of the neighbourhood, would find it orderly and clean, while the larger number, chiefly of the lower class of houses would certainty be closed. And what would be the effect of the Bill upon another very large class—those who occasionally, and at first reluctantly, found their way to the publichouse on Sunday? They would be saved from much temptation, and they constituted an enormous class of the population—a class most worthy of the interest and encouragement of Parliament. No doubt the habitual toper would get his drink whatever laws might be enacted; but there was another class of sober and peaceable people who never thought of entering a publichouse, and who, if this Bill were passed, would find their account in the orderly character and demeanour of the inhabitants of their district, and in the preservation of their children from temptation. It was said that people could not be made sober by Act of Parliament, and no doubt that was true; but, at all events, there should be laws to assist those feeble but right-minded 361 persons who were most open to temptation, and such laws were most important and useful in preserving them from the downward path. It was difficult to decide from statistics whether the sin of drunkenness was or was not increasing in this country, for, in addition to the fact that there was a great fallacy involved in generalizing from statistics, it should be remembered that there was now an immense number of persons who if they did not abstain altogether were, at all events, very moderate in their drinking, and therefore the total quantity of intoxicating liquor consumed by the whole population did not afford any means of estimating how far drunkenness extended. In advocating this measure he was quite aware that the people required not merely repressive laws, but greater efforts for improving their social condition. Before they could expect them to be moral and sober, much more must be done than had been done hitherto to encourage them in improving their houses, and in finding rational recreation. But these things ought to go together, and not one wait for the other, for intemperate people could not be expected to value improved habitations. He earnestly appealed to the House on that question, for drunkenness was a great evil, and was a peculiar temptation to our people, for our system of labour, and the aggregation of our population in large towns, tended to foster it. He had been struck with the strong resolution and earnestness shown by all classes under the greatest difficulties to co-operate together, and if possible, by the help of Parliament, to abate that nuisance. To him it was a matter of indifference how the work was done; but in the name of Heaven and of the country he would beseech Parliament to bestir itself in that great and holy cause. If that Bill were carried the pernicious effects of the many music-halls which existed in connection with publichouses would at once be effectually restrained; and he hoped that the measure would be passed and administered fairly without any desire to make it operate harshly.
§ Motion, made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Rylands.)
§ MR. J. FIELDEN
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time upon that day six months, 362 said, all were agreed as to the importance of doing away with the evils resulting from the excessive consumption of drink; but the question was, would that Bill be effectual for that object, and would it not be such an interference with the liberty of the subject, and of those who were undoubtedly good citizens, that they ought not to be called upon to submit to such a rigorous measure? His objection to the Bill was that it was a gross libel upon the large mass of the labouring population of this country, because it assumed that a majority of them—or, at all events, a large minority—were given up to drunkenness, and were such slaves to their passion for drink that it was necessary, in the interests of public morality, for the Legislature to step in and pass the most stringent restrictive laws. He, for one, would not consent to slander the mass of sober, hard-working men as they were slandered by this Bill, which would brand them as incapable of restraining their passion for drink. In that respect, the Bill was a libel on the working classes. He objected to it, also, as class legislation, because no attempt was made to apply its provisions to the clubs of the rich. If it was right to restrict the sale of intoxicating drinks on the Sunday, why should not the Bill apply to the clubs, and provide that no intoxicating drinks should be sold in them? Why did not the rich come forward and say—" We feel so strongly the great evil of drunkenness that we will enter into any engagement of this kind in order to set an example to the great mass of the labouring people." He had that morning received a declaration in favour of the Bill signed by 1,331 county and borough magistrates of England and Wales; and if those gentlemen had said they would stop the sale of intoxicating liquors at their clubs on the Sunday, he would have believed in their sincerity; but he know perfectly well that many of these gentlemen, when they came up to London, spent part of Sunday at the club, where they invited friends to meet them, and did not restrict themselves to the pure beverage of water, but indulged in what were to them more pleasant beverages. These Petitions and Memorials were got up in such a way as to render them worthless. He had seen Petitions lying on tables in the streets of Manchester, where they were signed 363 by boys, who, from their age, could not understand what they were signing; and in such a place where Petitions were indiscriminately signed they received in Manchester the signatures of persons living in Ashton and the adjacent towns, who also signed similar Petitions in the towns in which they lived. This Bill was, in fact, part of the Permissive Bill, and the Permissive Bill men, though a comparatively small body, were a most indefatigable and determined body of men, and they produced on the country an impression that they were more numerous than they really were. Those men made representations as to the evils of drunkenness, which no one disputed, and they thus induced benevolently-disposed individuals to sign Memorials and Petitions without due consideration as to the cause from which drunkenness sprang, which was adulteration. Others signed them in order to please relatives and friends, who admired the earnestness with which they advocated what they believed to be true. A large number also signed them from motives he would not criticize; with a firm conviction that what was proposed would never be carried; and he did not make that statement without warrant. On the one hand, hitherto, there had been a small body of energetic men, and on the other there had been an overwhelming majority, totally apathetic, but willing to put their names to Petitions, just as hon. Members would vote for a measure because they believed it would put them in a good position with many of their constituents, while they were satisfied there was no chance of its being carried; but when there appeared to be any danger of interference with the liberty of the subject, the country become aroused, as it had been this year when the interests not only of publicans but of publichouse proprietors were threatened, and it was determined not only that the Licensing Bill of the Government should not pass, but that the Permissive Bill should be thrown out by a majority larger than it had ever been before. As this Bill would stop the sale of intoxicating liquors on the Sunday except to travellers and lodgers, the effect of it would be, that a man who could not obtain drink in his own house would go a few miles away from home and would drink in a publichouse instead of having his pint of beer with his wife and family. 364 They had no right to say that a man should be compelled to buy his beer on the Saturday and bottle it; he might not like bottled beer, and it might not agree with him. At any rate the House had no business to deny the working man the opportunity of buying beer for his Sunday dinner, and to compel him, if he must have beer, to leave his family and neglect his family duties, for it was a man's duty to remain at home with his family on the Sunday. Then it was most inconsistent to allow a man who was merely a lodger in a publichouse to be supplied with beer, when it was denied to the man who wished to have it in his own house. The whole Bill was so inconsistent, so unjust, and such a piece of class legislation that they ought to throw it out. It was all very well for the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) to talk of amending it in Committee; the Bill must be dealt with as it was, and to read it a second time would be to affirm the principle of stopping the sale of intoxicating drinks on the Sunday. If the hon. Member did not adhere to that principle, the Bill would be no longer that which was read a second time. If the hon. Member was afraid of his own measure, he ought to withdraw it, and bring in one dealing with the subject in the way he thought it ought to be dealt with. If he did that, let him bring in a Bill which would treat rich and poor alike. The rich could go to their clubs, and what the club was to the rich man the publichouse was to the poor man, who, therefore, ought to be permitted to get beer at his club if he required it. With regard to the operation of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland, if the Scotch were the most sober and moral people possible; if there was no drinking in Scotland on Sunday, particularly in the lower parts of the large towns, then they were the most grossly maligned people on the face of the earth. As to statistical calculations of the amounts of spirits and beer consumed, the question that arose upon them was, were the amounts more than was required. To say that so much beer or so much spirit was drunk did not prove anything; at all events, it did not prove that what was consumed was injurious to the community. Undoubtedly, the consumption of spirits was an immense evil in this country; but what caused it? It was 365 due to the high price of beer, and that was caused by the iniquitous malt tax. Drunkenness was not caused so much by the excessive amount of malt in the beer as by the want of malt, and by the substitution of deleterious and poisonous articles; and that measure would do nothing to cure the evils caused by adulteration. He could not help repeating that that Bill proposed class legislation, and, if the evil required to be dealt with by so stringent a measure, it ought to be applied to rich and poor alike, otherwise it would be said they allowed the rich to have luxuries while they would not allow the poor man to have even that which was necessary. In conclusion, he begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ MR. MELLOR
, in rising to second the Amendment, said, as an employer of labour, and one who had mixed with working people all his life, he denounced the language of those who described them as a dissipated and drunken class. He sat for a constituency which at one time was represented by a Cabinet Minister, who, on a certain occasion declared them to be the most sober and respectable constituency in Europe; but no sooner did the same constituency return himself (Mr. Mellor) than they were denounced as being drunken and dissipated. With regard to the statistics of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands), that hon. Gentleman had forgotten that on the Monday there were to be dealt with the police cases of two days—Saturday and Sunday—and that it was the custom to pay wages on the Saturday afternoon. Magistrates in the manufacturing districts would tell you that the cases of drunkenness which came before them on the Monday morning arose principally on the Saturday evening. Therefore the hon. Member's statistics were perfectly fallacious; but, in order to create an impression, every subterfuge was resorted to, and false statements placed before the House. ["Order, order!] He considered the statement made to be false, because it was not based on fact. As certain diseases were endemic on marshy levels, so the evils of drunkenness existed where liquor abounded too freely; but the legitimate indulgence in it was no crime, neither would it produce crime; but it produced sociability and good feeling. 366 Like the hon. Member, he would "walk in the lines of the Constitution." He had walked in them when a younger man. He could remember the time when he could go to the publichouse on the Sunday, smoke his pipe, drink a glass, and enjoy himself. There was no such thing to be done now-a-days; the police were looking over every hedge; and, in the disguise of seamen or of cotton operatives, they importuned the unwary publican to supply them with drink, in order that the friends of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) might get the licence revoked, or endorsed with a black mark. He repudiated the language which had been held in that House in reference to the working classes, and he most cordially seconded the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, who, in adopting the course he had taken, was only representing the feelings and interests of the manufacturers.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months." — (Mr. Joshua Fielden.)
§ MR. MELLY
said, he regretted the Bill did not enable the House to have a fair discussion by submitting a practical proposal, because hon. Members were pretty well agreed that the hours for the sale of drink might be restricted after careful consideration, with the concurrence of the community and of the licensed victuallers themselves, while drastic legislation would only defeat the object in view. He must complain that the Motion for the second reading placed them in the dilemma that if they voted against it they would be considered advocates of unrestrained Sunday drinking, while if they voted for it the impression would be conveyed that they were in favour of prohibiting all drinking on Sunday, which would be unjust. In his opinion, the hours during which liquor was sold on Sunday might be very fairly abridged, and with the concurrence of all classes of the community, including the respectable licensed victuallers, who would value a Sunday afternoon free from business. He feared there was a combination between the advocates of the Maine Liquor Law and the Sabbatarians 367 of England, and he was sure the latter would baffle themselves if they forced on Parliament and on the country measures which, by their stringency, would defeat the object they had in view. It was impossible, even if it were desirable or just, to prevent the labouring man from buying a jug of fresh-drawn beer for his Sunday dinner, the only day, perhaps, when he could enjoy that meal with his family. He had also as good a right to a glass of ale at supper-time as any hon. Member in that House; at the same time, he did not believe that there was not a single Member in that House who did not think that the excessive expenditure in drink was one of the greatest curses with which the people of that country was afflicted; and the day when the greatest amount was spent was on the Sunday. The hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. Mellor) had spoken of false statistics and misleading facts. He had just made some inquiries as to the condition of things in that month of June. Now, as to the facts, statistics which he had showed that dining the last four Sundays in Liverpool 577 persons were arrested; 555 during the last four Saturdays; 327 during the last four Wednesday. Of those arrested on Sundays, 111 were drunk; on Saturdays, also 111; on Wednesdays, 52. For larceny and all other crimes, 34 persons were arrested each Sunday, 29 each Saturday, and 29 on each Wednesday. Therefore twice as many were arrested on Saturdays and Sundays as on any ordinary week-day, while there was only a trifling increase in the number of crimes, and therefore the great addition to the number of arrests must be attributed to drunkenness. Again, during the six working days of the year 1867, 91 babies were overlaid by their mothers, or an average of 15 a-day, while on Sundays 36 children were overlaid. Now, overlaying of children was chiefly due to the drunkenness of the parent. The loss of these infants was a direct injury to the State, to which their lives, if well regulated, would be a source of profit and strength. Their death hardened and demoralized their parents, and led to new excesses. It really was a waste of time to pile proof on proof. Drunkards would drink; but the excessive outlay in liquor by those who did not get drunk was the most prolific source of misery, poverty, and crime in 368 England. It was the obstacle to religion, education, and order. It doubled local rates, and increased national taxes. It was actually fostered by their laws, encouraged by fanatic customs and restrictions which had more than the force of law. Why were the schools a third, and the churches half empty? Not because education was not valued, or that the working class was infidel or indifferent to religion. Children were not sent to school because they had no clothes fit to go in. It was owing to the amount spent on liquor that men were not able to clothe their wives decently, so that they could go to church or chapel. He believed the great remedy would be found in moral suasion, that much would be done by the Education Act, and that a great deal, indeed, might be done by throwing open the National Galleries and Museums, the Houses of Parliament, and other public buildings and institutions to the people on Sundays, which he would be glad to see crowded from two o'clock in the afternoon until dusk. He believed that would before long increase the attendance at the churches and chapels. The alternative given to all but the rich class at present was to go to church or chapel, or the publichouse, which looked very like a bargain between religion and the gin palace. The result was a large number preferred the publichouse; the wages there spent, the habits there contracted, physically and morally disqualified a portion of the labouring classes from attendance at Divine Service. The upper classes had their commodious houses, private gardens, galleries, and libraries in which to spend Sunday afternoons. The Zoological Gardens were not closed to them. He strongly advocated the opening of museums and innocent places of recreation to the people as a counterpoise to the publichouses. He could hardly understand their licensing places where people could get drink, and shutting up places where they could be amused, interested, and instructed. He know the laws nominally dealt with rich and poor alike, but practically their effect was too often unequal and unjust. He denied the right, still more the policy, of closing the national institutions to the taxpayer on the Sunday afternoon, and not allowing him the only opportunity he had of seeing his own property. While, on the one hand, there was an 369 alliance as regarded this Bill between Sabbatarians and the supporters of the Permissive Bill, there was another alliance as regarded these laws or customs which the Sabbatarians would be the first to repudiate. Yet what they said in effect was—"Unless you go to church there shall be no in-door amusement open to you except that of getting drunk, or spending what you can't properly afford in the publichouse." There were in every large town institutions belonging to the people, paid for and maintained by them, which ought to be open to them on the only day they could visit them. Of course, it would be urged that the Sunday holidays of servants and attendants would be curtailed. Ho had made inquiries. The effect on the police of London would be rather to reduce than increase their labours. South Kensington Museum, for instance, would only require four more attendants and six additional policemen, while 10,000 persons might visit the museum between the hours of 2 o'clock and 7. The reduction of the hours of rest of four attendants and six policemen, who could be easily remunerated, ought not to be considered as telling against the advantage of inducing even 5 per cent of the 10,000 persons he had mentioned to spend their Sunday afternoons at such an institution, if they had been in the habit previously of spending them in publichouses. He was aware of the delicacy and difficulty of that subject. Nothing but a deep sense of duty would have led him to make those remarks. He would support any just and fair measure; any change which would practically increase the temperance and prudence of the people. But that question must be settled not by piecemeal legislation, but by a change in the customs and laws of the nation. Until the matter was fairly dealt with, although they might hold their own in the race of civilization, they could not stride in front; and to quote a commercial proverb—"A profit not made was a loss realized." Were it not for that one blot upon the nation—the existence of those "fly-traps at the corner of every street," draining the very heart-blood of the wage-earning class—there would be no limit to their prosperity and the ever-increasing moral and physical welfare of the people. As to the course which he should pursue with respect to the Mo- 370 tion before the House, he was at some loss to say what he should do; but unless he received either from the Government or the promoter of the Bill some explanation which would enable him to vote for the second reading, it would be his duty to leave the House and not vote at all.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he did not share the difficulty of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly), because he had always urged that that subject should be dealt with as a whole. They prejudiced the question by dealing with small portions of it, and on that ground he could not support the Bill. He admitted that the evil effects of drunkenness were increasing, but doubted whether the statistics of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) really supported his proposition. The Bill, instead of making a gradual reduction, attacked every hour of the Sunday; but he believed that a shortening of hours on every day would materially assist in attaining the object they all had in view. If the option proposed in the Bill of the Home Secretary—of taking out a licence for only six days—had been offered to publicans, there would probably have been a large diminution of open houses on Sunday. By making violent changes they would raise an opposition which, by gradually approaching the matter, they would never have to meet, because then the people would have an opportunity of testing the advantages of a curtailment of hours. He had Returns from localities mentioned by the hon. Member for Warrington, showing that a larger proportion of cases of drunkenness occurred from drinking on Saturday, rather than on Sunday. In Salford, the convictions for drunkenness on Saturday amounted to 12, as against 2 on Sunday. The Chief Constable of Manchester had supplied him with Returns for every day in the week for three months at the close of last year. There were 1,005 arrests for drunkenness on the Saturday and Sunday, while the total number for the rest of the week only amounted to 2,835. But, on going into details, it appeared that if the hours had been limited from 11 at night to 6 in the morning, the 2,835 arrests would have been reduced by 1,476; and that if the hours had only been reduced from 12 P.M. to 6 A.M., the number would have been lowered by 954. Between 11 371 and 12 at night on the Saturday, the arrests were 138; between 12 and 1, 179; and between 1 and 2, 127; so that some of the figures included in the calculation of Sunday drinking related actually to continuous drinking on Saturday. He had also received Returns from the borough of Birmingham for the three months ending in March last. On the Sundays there were 159 cases and 144 on the Saturday, making a total of 303, as against 356 on the other five days. Between the hours of 11 and 12 there were 286 convictions, and in all remaining hours only 373. Now, of these convictions he felt satisfied a great number would be wiped out if there were a reduction in the hours during which publichouses were kept open, a reduction which might be effected with the sanction of a large number of the people, whereas the proposal of the hon. Member for Warrington would, in his opinion, tend greatly to prejudice any fair attempt to deal with the question, by the opposition to which it was likely to give rise, and which might injuriously interfere with the general revision of our licensing system. He quite admitted that the question of music-halls and clubs in connection with publichouses was also deserving of consideration, but that, too, might be prejudiced by the dealing as proposed with only one corner of the subject. He hoped under the circumstances the House would not read the Bill a second time, which, while it proposed entirely to do away with the opening of publichouses on Sundays, except so far as travellers and lodgers were concerned, contained no definition of what the word "traveller" meant, and would thus leave it matter for vexatious disputes.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, he was convinced, from his experience of town populations in such places as London and Liverpool, that the picture drawn by the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) of the dreadful evils of Sunday drinking was very little exaggerated, and therefore, although demurring from some of the reasons assigned for the prevalence of drinking habits, it was impossible for those, who like himself were anxious to deal with the question, to vote against the Bill. On the other hand, they were placed in a difficult position, for hardly a Member of that House really supposed that the total 372 suppression of the opening of publichouses was within the range of possibility at the present time. The calm and sensible settlement of this question was hindered by over-zealous action. He appealed to the Government as to whether they could not take a practical step on this occasion. The Bill, which was simply entitled "Sale of Liquor on Sunday Bill," did not bear on the face of it the absolute necessity for total prohibition; and he thought the Government might take possession of the measure, and, after allowing it to be read a second time, alter it to a Bill for the Regulation of the hours of Drinking on Sunday. A proposal of that kind made in a former Session by his hon. Colleague (Mr. Graves) had been supported by the corporation, magistrates, licensed victuallers, and the public generally of Liverpool, showing a rare amount of consent with regard to a difficult matter. He did not think legislation of that kind would prejudice a more general settlement of the question, but, on the contrary, would enable them to test the feeling of the country. They had so strong a ground of complaint against the Government for the way in which they had handled this liquor question, that he thought, when they threw out a suggestion to retrieve the Government from the position they had unfortunately assumed, it should have some effect. If the Bill were read a second time, he should reserve the power of proposing in Committee some such arrangement as he had recommended.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, that no one could, in his opinion, have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands), without being impressed by it. Owing to law and custom, there was a general suspension of labour throughout the country on Sunday. In the case of one enormous trade, however, that rule was broken, and, strange though the fact might be, that was a trade winch was licensed by the Government, and which was more than any other under their control. He could never understand what was the cause why such an exception was made. He had heard it stated by Mr. Mackie, of the firm of Findlater and Mackie, at a public meeting, that it was quite possible for a working man to procure his liquors on Saturday night precisely as he got any other article of consump- 373 tion, and that the trade would adapt itself to the wants of the people. He did not himself believe that if publichouses were shut up to-morrow those who thought such drinks necessary either to their health or pleasure, would find themselves unable to procure them. The exception of which he spoke was indeed so remarkable that the justification for it should be very complete. There were in Manchester 2,500 houses open on Sunday for the sale of the articles in question. Now, two persons, at least, were probably kept at work in each of those establishments, and it should be borne in mind that no other class in the community worked for such a number of hours during the week. Had they, then, no claim to be protected from labour on the Sunday? It was not, he might add, in the interest of the working classes themselves that publichouses should be kept open on the Sabbath. The poor would be much less poor if they were not kept open. He did not, indeed, think that the habits of the people could be greatly improved merely by the partial or complete closing of those houses, and he was not in favour of a gloomy or Puritanical Sunday. He did not wish that the people should be shut up in their homes on that day, seeing how confined they were and how unhealthy frequently were the places in which they were situated. He concurred, therefore, with the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) as to the desirability of having places of innocent recreation and amusement open to them; and they ought, in his opinion, to be established where such places did not exist. There was no country in which the people were so densely massed together as in this, or where they had higher wages. The result was, that they were more in a position to yield to temptation, and it would be of great advantage that they should be able to visit institutions where they might pass their time agreeably and profitably. He thought it was possible for a great many hon. Members of the House to vote for the Bill after the statement made by the hon. Member for Warrington, that he would be ready to consider any modification which might be proposed. If such a Bill of a permissive nature were passed, its provisions would be adopted, so far as the great towns of Lancashire were con- 374 cerned. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) made some two or three years ago the serious charge against the people of Lancashire, of being less temperate than the people of other portions of the kingdom. Now, that might be true or false, but this, in justice, he must say, should be attributed to them, that they had done more than the people of any other part of the kingdom to call the attention of the country to the evils of intemperance, and they would be delighted to hear of the passing of the present or some other measure for the purpose of checking the evil of drunkenness. He trusted that if the Government felt unable to grapple with the subject, they would assist rather than obstruct private Members in attempting to solve any portion of this perplexing question.
said, he wished the Bill had been so framed as to have permitted those who thought that much good might be done by reducing the number of hours during which publichouses might be open on a Sunday to consent to go into Committee upon it; but, as the Bill proposed that the publichouses should be closed during all hours on that day, he, for one, was unwilling to assent to the second reading. The hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Jacob Bright) had made allusion to some remarks of his at Manchester two or three years ago. If the hon. Gentleman would consult the official Returns of the police of his own City of Manchester, he would find that the charges he had brought against Manchester had not at all diminished, but, on the contrary, assumed a still blacker aspect than before. He believed most firmly that if the whole of England were in the same state as the police reported Manchester to be in, not only would that House pass such a Bill, but he should not be surprised if it forbade the brewing of beer and distilling of spirits altogether. What were they asked to do by this Bill? A limited number of people—very limited in comparison with the whole population—abused that which was given them for use, and that House was asked to seriously inconvenience those who did not abuse it, in order to prevent those who did abuse it from continuing their abuse. He did not think that was a right principle to go upon. Two very important classes who would 375 be seriously affected by this Bill had not been touched upon in the course of this discussion. A great number of persons fetched their beer for their meals from the publichouse, and any man who went along the streets on Sunday from half-past 12 till 2 o'clock constantly met a girl or woman with a jug of beer in their hands; but by the Bill all these people would be shut out from this privilege on the only day in the week when a vast number of our poor fellow-countrymen were able to eat their dinner with their families. The second class who would suffer was that of single men, who had places where they slept only, while they took all their meals in a publichouse. He wished that those who desired to check the evils complained of would try to do so tentatively, by reducing the hours, as might be safely done, as far as the evening was concerned, during which publichouses should be permitted to be open on Sunday. If the Government would undertake to introduce some temporary measure for that purpose, it would, if it did not meet the evil effectually, at all events serve as a guide for future legislation. Taking England all over, he believed that drunkenness was on the decrease, with the exception of Lancashire and one or two other places, and though he could not blame persons connected with Lancashire for making every endeavour to check the evils of drunkenness, yet he thought they made a mistake when they brought forward a measure too stringent in its provisions.
§ MR. BAINES
said, in support of the second reading of the Bill, that the evidence of the evil came in such innumerable forms, and with such overpowering weight, that he did not see how its magnitude could be denied. He must deny that it was the wish of the supporters of that Bill to interfere with the liberty of the working man, their sole object being to enfranchise him from the worst of bondage, to improve his condition, as well as that of his wife and family. He wished to draw attention chiefly to the enormous evil that resulted from men going to publichouses, from their being induced to take beer until they became drunk and disorderly, and fit for doing all that could disgrace human beings. That evil, which this measure proposed to remedy, was also breaking the hearts of thousands, he 376 would say of tens and hundreds of thousands of women, was depriving children of their proper food and clothing, and filling the workhouses and prisons. Though he should be delighted to see the publichouses entirely closed on a Sunday, yet they must deal with the matter in a practicable way, and he believed it would be wise to adopt the suggestions made by the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon). If the Bill could be amended in Committee as suggested, the Government would act wisely in supporting it; but he must remind the House that there was a justification for its introduction in the thousands of Petitions that had been presented asking for such a measure. In 1867 upwards of 5,000 Petitions, signed by 500,000 persons, were presented in favour of closing publichouses on Sundays. Magistrates, clergymen, the Nonconformist Bodies, large numbers of the working classes themselves, supported the principle of the Bill. He had here a remarkable report, drawn up by a Committee of the Lower House of Convocation appointed to consider the evils of Sunday drinking; it recommended that the publichouses should be entirely closed on Sundays. Archbishop Manning, who had a large acquaintance with the poorer classes of the Metropolis, gave his utmost support to this measure. Then the Sunday School teachers, a very numerous and very useful body, complained that their work of instruction of the children was neutralized by the visits of the parents to the publichouse. The statistics already cited showed how fearful were the consequences of Sunday drinking in relation to crime; but there were two points to which he wished to draw especial attention—one was that wherever there had been established by law a restriction of the hours during which the publichouses might be open, there had resulted a most marked diminution of drunkenness; the other was that wherever there had been Sunday closing, it had been attended with the most beneficial results. There was evidence to show that the closing publichouses on the Sunday had proved highly beneficial in Scotland, Guernsey, and Tasmania, and with respect to his own town, it was stated in evidence which was produced before a Committee on which he sat, that the Working Men's Club there passed a reso- 377 lution, almost unanimously, approving such a Bill as the one now before the House. He should support the Motion for the second reading of the Bill; but it would require some modification in Committee.
said, he thought there could be no doubt that there was on the part of a large portion of the population, well deserving of respect, an earnest desire for the present, or some similar measure. He did not know whether they amounted to a majority, but, at all events, they amounted to an enormous number of the working classes. That desire might arise partly, no doubt, from a wish to secure the better observance of the Lord's Day; but, at the same time, it arose very largely from the circumstance that Sunday was the day on which the workman usually had plenty of money in his pocket, and was, therefore, exposed to peculiar temptation. On the other hand, it must be remembered that a great number of workmen, having more self-command, employed part of the Sunday for the purpose of innocent recreation, and therefore the closing of publichouses on Sundays would operate as a great deprivation to them. The manner of observing Sunday was, to a certain extent, a geographical question, being different in England, Scotland, and Ireland; and, that being so, he could not support the second reading of the present Bill. At the same time, as there was a strong disposition on all sides of the House to meet the reasonable wishes of the country, he advised the hon. Member who introduced the Bill (Mr. Rylands) not to press a measure which would run counter to the feelings of the people, but to bring forward some reasonable proposal which would meet with general support. He should be always anxious to give his aid to any hon. Member who might desire to carry a measure to diminish the evil of drunkenness; but he thought that in the present instance his hon. Friend tried too much, and that if he succeeded in carrying it it would only lead to public discontent. He had himself been charged with a similar error; but hon. Gentlemen would have forgiven that error if they had themselves been obliged to give more than one year's study to all the inconsistencies involved in the licensing law; but his hon. Friend, in dealing with the question in the manner now proposed, 378 was running his head against a wall of his own building, and he must have known that the House could not pass his Bill. His hon. Friend had heard the opinions of many of the weightiest Members of the House expressed, and, for his part, however desirous to promote the objects of his hon. Friend, he must say that he thought the only way of remedying the evil was by adopting a middle course. He was not wedded to the limitation of hours which he had proposed, and he must say he felt the greatest difficulty in arriving at a satisfactory solution. He found that the habits of the people differed in different parts of the country, and he had thought that he should do best to adopt the recommendation of the Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. P. Villiers), that the publichouses should be closed on Sunday except from 1 o'clock to 3, and from 7 o'clock to 9; but it might be, as he had been assured by a number of persons, that instead of the latter period it would be better to allow the publichouses to be open from 8 o'clock to 10. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) had suggested that the restrictions contained in what was called the Liverpool Bill, would be more adapted to the popular wants, and such a proposal would, no doubt, receive the support of a large portion of the country. He could not vote for the Bill in its present shape; but if his hon. Friend would consent to take the second reading pro formâ, and would afterwards embody in the measure such suggestions as had been thrown out by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Molly) and the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, and which were in substance and principle contained in the Government Bill, he would then feel himself perfectly justified in acting in accordance with the feelings expressed by many hon. Members, and would support the second reading. By adopting such a course, his hon. Friend would have the concurrence of the majority of the House, and, even at that late period of the Session, might carry his measure to a satisfactory conclusion. He hoped his hon. Friend would acquiesce in that suggestion, and thus unite all parties in effecting a useful and practical reform.
§ MR. STEPHEN CAVE
said, the House had been put into some difficulty 379 by the proposal that had just been made. He and others had come down to the House prepared to vote against the second reading of the Bill, but the proposal of the Home Secretary, if adopted, would entirely change its principle. The Bill as introduced was for the entire closing of publichouses on Sundays, but the suggestion that had been made would only alter in a slight degree the present law. That would be a question of expediency and convenience, whereas the closing of publichouses altogether on Sundays was a question of principle. The proposal was one that would require great consideration. He did not think much of the argument about class or club legislation, because all legislation to a great extent must be so. In that case they did not aim at punishing a particular class, but to assist them in doing something for the improvement of themselves. The publichouse was not a poor man's club; and that they felt so was evident from their having recently commenced starting clubs for themselves, and he saw no reason why they should not be assisted in accomplishing it by legislation. It was monstrous to expect the working classes to buy beer on Saturdays to be kept over for their Sundays' dinners. He was in favour of the introduction of the six days' licence for drinking on the premises, and a seventh day's licence for drinking off the premises. Rather than that the Home Secretary's suggestion should be carried out, he would prefer the withdrawal of the Bill, and the introduction of another by the Government, to deal with that question more in accordance with that principle. If, however, he could be made quite sure that they would not be called to vote upon these clauses over again in Committee, and that the Bill would be reprinted with the alterations proposed, he should have no difficulty in supporting the second reading, simply as an indication in favour of a further limitation of hours, although he confessed he had come down to the House with the intention of voting against the measure.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, if the principles last enunciated by the right hon. Member opposite (Mr. S. Cave) were admitted, it was in his (Mr. Wheelhouse's) mind impossible to deal with that Bill in any way whatever, for, from the Preamble to its finishing section, the whole of Sunday was to be taken away 380 from the people, so far as the purchasing of beer and other liquors was concerned. Therefore no alteration of the principle, as embodied in the Preamble, could effect the object which it was held desirable by the Home Secretary to obtain. He could not help thinking that there were some considerations connected with this subject which had not as yet been felt by hon. Gentlemen with their full force and effect. Whether there were or were not abuses committed in the Sunday traffic, he thought it would be a monstrous principle to hold that if a person wanted a glass of beer on a Sunday he should not be at liberty to purchase it. He had lived in a large borough for above 26 years, moving all that time from day to day amongst the population, and taking his part in the Sunday life of a large provincial town. From the experience which he had gained during that long period, he had no hesitation in declaring that it was incorrect to say that drunkenness was on the increase, or that many men were given to drink to excess in proportion to the amount of the population. He contended, relatively to the size of that population, on the contrary, that drunkenness was decreasing from year to year. But if it were not, and if hon. Members wanted to suppress altogether the liquor traffic on the Sundays, they ought in all honesty to begin at home—to shut up their own clubs, and say that they themselves would not take a drop of wine or beer on Sundays.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he should not have risen were it not for the extraordinary course taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in regard to this Bill. It was most remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman, who had himself brought in a Licensing Bill, which contained nothing in it that anybody approved, should now take on himself the duty of amending another Bill by striking out the whole of it. [Laughter.] He proposed to strike out everything from the first to the last word of the Bill. Yes, the title must go, the Preamble must go, and any hon. Member who had read the Bill must see that all the clauses must also go—so that nothing would be left. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) was, perhaps, one of the most inconsistent men in the House. One year he supported the hon. Member for Leicester (Sir. P. A. Taylor) in his proposals; but this year the hon. Mem- 381 ber for Warrington was non inventus when the hon. Member for Leicester brought in that Bill of which the hon. Member for Warrington was so enamoured last year. The hon. Member must have a certain number of constituents that led him astray on all occasions. He counted heads and noses, and asked himself how these people would go, and where he would be obliged to go if he did not follow them. Now, it was most extraordinary that his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary should follow in the track of such an extraordinary person as the hon. Member for Warrington. Another thing struck him as extraordinary. Although the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) had quoted from a number of bits of paper which he took out of his pocket all sorts of statistics, which no one could clearly understand, but that hon. Gentleman had never even incidentally alluded to the Blue Book, containing a Report of the Committee which sat on a Bill not half so awful a one as the Bill of the hon. Member for Warrington, and it did not go to the extent suggested by the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon). The Bill to which he referred was that brought into that House by the late Member for Chichester (Mr. J. A. Smith), a measure which was to prevent any person from obtaining drink on the Sunday, except within certain limited hours. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool proposed to give the people four hours on the Sunday to obtain their liquor—namely, from 1 o'clock till 3 o'clock P.M., and from 8 o'clock until 10 o'clock at night. But the Bill of the hon. Member for Warrington went further than any other person dared to go, for he would deprive the people of their beer throughout the whole of Sunday. But they were told by an hon. Member that the people forsooth could not restrain themselves in anyway, and therefore there must be Acts of Parliament telling them when they ought to eat and drink, and when they ought not to eat and drink. He (Mr. Locke) thought it was a disgrace to this country if the great bulk of the population were of such a miserable nature that they could not judge or act for themselves, but that they must depend upon such persons as the hon. Member for Warrington, who would tell them what they should do or what they should not do. 382 He (Mr. Locke) confessed he could never look upon such Bills with patience. He thought that they had too many attempts by hon. Members to make the people slaves by Act of Parliament; to tell them what they were to do, how they were to regulate their meals, and what were the hours at which they should take them. He did not think that this country would be worth living in if they were to be legislated for by a class of Members that had recently come into that House, and these were the hon. Members who talked of freedom. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) in his speech that day, cited the authority of a Mr. Mackie. He (Mr. Locke) believed that Mr. Mackie, as well as Mr. Findlater, sold as much or more intoxicating drink to the people than anyone else in the United Kingdom. But the hon. Gentleman said he would restrain the sale of liquors at a particular time when nobody wanted to drink. Well, but if nobody wanted to drink during the time referred to, where was the occasion for this Bill? Why that perpetual "meddling and muddling" system, which was so much favoured by certain hon. Members of that House, who were always saying that the condition of the people must be ameliorated—that the people generally were fools, and that they alone were the Solons, the lawmakers, and lawgivers who would arrange all those matters for them? What was the Report of the Committee on Mr. John Abel Smith's Bill? He would remind the hon. Member for Leeds of the unfortunate course which he had taken on that occasion. That hon. Gentleman, addressing the Committee from day to day, spoke of the pain he suffered at seeing the unfortunate condition of the people from their indulgence in intoxicating drinks. But the Committee did not listen to his speeches; they struck out every clause of the Bill, precisely as the Home Secretary must do in regard to the Bill of the hon. Member for Warrington; indeed, the Bill was put asideentirely—the Chairman of the Committee (Sir James Fergusson), a Scotchman, entirely agreed with the majority of the Committee, and was decidedly against the Bill. The Bill was ultimately negatived by a majority of 8 to 3. The Committee afterwards agreed to a Report drawn up by the hon. Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen), 383 which stated that drunkenness had diminished greatly, and that they did not think it proper to interfere with the rights of the people in reference to this subject. The Committee further expressed their belief that drunkenness would continue to decrease, if the people were not interfered with by coercive measures. Now, he very much regretted to find, from the peculiar state of the Treasury benches, that they could not obtain the opinion of the hon. Member for Sandwich upon the present measure, because that hon. Gentleman was well acquainted with the evidence upon which he drew up the Report alluded to. Before any action was taken on this question by the Secretary of State, he thought the House was bound to negative the Bill of the hon. Member for Warrington. And then, if they were to have legislation upon the licensing system, it ought to be by means of a new Bill containing a single clause, though he did not believe the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool would like to see this subject settled by a mere skeleton Bill of such a character. But it would appear that the hon. Member for Warrington had no confidence in the Secretary of State—indeed, the hon. Gentleman did not seem to have any confidence in anybody but himself. For his (Mr. Locke's) own part, he should certainly vote against this Bill on a division.
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, there was the greatest anxiety that this Bill should be carried out in Ireland, and he should support the second reading with that view. He was much gratified by the statement which had been made by the Home Secretary, and anticipated the best results from his judgment, knowledge, experience, and responsibility being brought to bear on this question; and in connection with that part of the subject, he would observe that it was obvious that the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) could not have read the Preamble of the Bill, for there was nothing in it in any way inconsistent with the adoption of the recommendation contained in that statement. There was a very large and important class who earnestly desired legislation in this direction. He hoped the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) would accept the proposal which was made to him by the Secretary of State.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
referred to a Memorial, signed by 59 corporations in Ireland and 937 magistrates, earnestly urging the Government to adopt measures for prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors upon Sunday in Ireland, for the purpose of showing that the question had attracted great attention in Ireland. He, however, could only support the Bill upon the understanding suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he thought it impossible to pass this Bill, although there was a strong agitation in its favour. It would be unwise to foment that agitation by a blank refusal. He would, therefore, support the Bill if a pledge were given that it should be committed only pro formâ, with the view of converting it into a Limitation of Hours Bill.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, there would not be the slightest use in passing a Limitation of Hours Bill, until the licence system had been entirely re-modelled. He could not support the second reading.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that, after the very general expression of opinion, he should accept the proposal of the Government, which he had ascertained would be perfectly in order, in the hope and expectation that the Bill, as altered, would pass this Session.
said, his hon. Friend must fulfil all the conditions. The Bill must be converted into a Bill of Limitation.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he thought the House had been placed in a position of great difficulty. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) having brought in a Bill absolutely to prohibit the sale of liquor on Sunday should either stand or fall by it. He was surprised that the Secretary of State should have made the suggestion he had done. If, as he believed, the right hon. Gentleman was in earnest with his Licensing Bill for next year, it ought to embrace everything now proposed to be touched by the Bill of the hon. Member for Warrington. This sort of piecemeal legislation was most mischievous, and he ventured to say there was a good deal of humbug in it. Many hon. Members were no doubt honest in their intentions, but he believed a good many were dishonest; he meant that while anxious to satisfy some of their consti- 385 tuents in voting for such a measure as that, they would be exceedingly happy to see it thrown out.
§ MR. D. DALRYMPLE
said, he thought that there should be a distinct understanding that the hon. Member for Warrington would take upon himself the responsibility of altering the Bill as suggested.
ALDERMAN SIR JAMES LAWRENCE
said, he could not support the second reading, because they had evidence that closing publichouses in New York had led to increased drunkenness. If the House should pass the second reading, they would in that way sanction a principle that they would not be prepared to stand by, and against which they were indeed almost unanimous. He hoped that the Bill would be withdrawn, and then a Bill of limitation could be brought in in its stead.
§ MR. STRAIGHT
said, it would be very annoying to the administrators of the law to have to apply one law with reference to the liquor traffic on Sunday, and another law with reference to that traffic on week days. He thought the whole Licensing Law should be consolidated into one statute, for it would be found mischievous to deal with the question in the partial manner proposed. He hoped the hon. Member for Warrington would withdraw this Bill, and if the Home Secretary was afraid to introduce another Bill, perhaps some hon. Member would do so.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 119: Majority 28.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.