§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR DOMINIC CORRIGAN,
in rising to move That the Bill be now read the second time, said: I do so with every hope of success, for we have advanced so far that in the Licensing Bill of last year the principle has been recognized that the drinking of intoxicating liquors on Sunday is attended with more injury to the people than on week days, and therefore the hours allowed for drinking on Sundays were curtailed under that Bill. This is a great point for us who advocate the complete closing of public-houses during the whole, not a part of the Sunday. It is admitted on all sides that much good has been done by the partial closing of public-houses on Sunday; let us now complete the good work by closing them through the whole of the day. I know it is argued that as we have done so much good we ought to be content with it; we ought to "leave well enough alone;" but I cannot, Sir, assent to that principle; we do not apply it to the commonest affairs of life; we do not apply it to mechanics; we are never content that in mechanics we have attained a certain amount of efficiency, and that we should then be content with the progress we have already made. Are we to be content with the progress we have made in morals, and not try to better ourselves or our people? Surely there is no need to answer the question. Much good has been achieved by the partial closing of houses for the sale of whisky throughout all Ireland on Sunday; much greater good will be done 97 by their total closing; and let us now do it. If we have now only 75 drunkards by the partial closing of the public-houses, where we had previously 100, let us go on in the same course, and we shall have only 25 drunkards, where we had previously 100. I think we can attain that if we adopt this Bill. I do not expect that we can altogether obliterate drunkenness by it, but we can, I think, obliterate it, or nearly so, on Sundays in Ireland. On other days men in Ireland are scattered through the country at their farm and other labours. They cannot and will not leave them to go half a mile into a town for whisky. But Sunday comes round. It is their only day of recreation. They assemble at the public-houses; they are exposed to all the temptations and bad example around them. They drink in rounds—that is, each of the party treats his companions in turn. Then comes waste of wages, the madness of drunkenness, the awaking of bad passions, assaults, and murder. In the last sessions in an Irish county—Clare—only last month—June —the Chairman said the calendar was a disgrace to Ireland. "It contained a larger amount of savage assaults than on any previous occasion," and these assaults he attributed in nine cases out of ten to drink, and Sunday is the day in Ireland when these terrible temptations most abound. Mr. Blake, J.P., County Kilkenny, writes this month—July, 1873—Nearly all the cases before us at petty sessions are drunkenness or fighting therefrom, and the greater number are from drinking on Sunday.Twelve months have elapsed since I last brought this question before the House. I was then beaten by a majority of 33. For the sake of our people give me a majority the other way to-night. I do not want to interfere with England—give us what they have in Scotland. For 20 years the public-houses have been closed by law in Scotland. During that whole time there has not been—I am told by a Scottish Member who sits on my right—a single Petition to repeal the law, to re-open the public-houses in Scotland. We were once similarly circumstanced in Ireland. Up to the year 1833 our public-houses were all closed in Ireland, as they are now closed in Scotland. I appeal now to English Members. If 98 drunkenness—and particularly Sunday drunkenness, with its train of vice, fighting, and murder—has become a national disgrace in Ireland, who inflicted it on us? Not an Irish, but an English Parliament. A year had not elapsed after 1833 when the Corporation of Dublin prayed that you would repeal the law and again close the public-houses on Sunday. Retrace your steps now, and give us the boon you have given to Scotland. A year has passed over since I last addressed the House on this subject, and how does public opinion now speak? The first Petition on my list to day for the total closing of public-houses on Sunday is from 215 deputy lieutenants and magistrates. The second is from eight Archbishops and Bishops, and from other dignitaries of the Catholic Church. The third is from the clergymen of the Catholic Church in Dublin and its vicinity, headed by Cardinal Cullen, whose name stands first on the list. The fourth is from eight Bishops and other dignitaries of the Protestant Church of Ireland, and the fifth is from the clergy of the Protestant Church in Dublin and its vicinity. Yesterday I presented several Petitions from the Presbyterian and other denominations from various parts of Ireland, all praying for the same—close up public-houses on Sundays. As nearly as I can calculate, in addition to the multitude of Petitions presented in the last Session, there have been presented this Session, up to the present, not less than 60 Petitions with at least 3,000 or 4,000 signatures, exclusive of many officially signed, each of which has, of course, only one signature. And now let me turn to tell the House after another year's trial and consideration of the question, how many Petitions from Ireland have been presented to keep open public-houses on Sunday—not one. I inspected the Report of the Committee of this House on Petitions yesterday, and on its Paper not a single Petition is recorded against the Bill. You will perhaps hear something in the course of this debate as to the hardships inflicted on the working men of their going to their houses of worship and coming from them not being able to get whisky to "keep their devotion warm on their return home." But have the working men of Ireland appealed to this House to keep open public-houses on Sunday? Not a single 99 Petition has been presented from them; not a single meeting of them has been held to object to this Bill. Workmens' clubs are now established in Dublin and are being established in other towns through Ireland. Most warmly do I wish them success. They are conducted by most intelligent men. Has a single Petition emanated from any one of those clubs? Not one. Who are to be benefited, I may here ask, by keeping public-houses open on Sunday? Not those who drink whisky, for they ruin their health and beggar their families, and fall into crime. Not the licensed vintners and spirit grocers who keep their houses open, for the Sunday drinker soon becomes incapable of earning wages, and the profit of the sale is gone, and the licensed retailer of spirit and grocery who would hope to continue in receipt of money from the Sunday drunkard will be as much disappointed as the man in the fable who killed the goose to get all the golden eggs at once. There is only one Department of the State that can derive benefit from the continuance of selling whisky in Ireland on Sunday, and that is the "Excise," but of that I will only say that there exists not, and never will exist, in any Government or in the United Kingdom a single individual who would ever allow such a thought—a consideration to enter his mind. I will not take up the time of the House with the nonsense that is occasionally put forward on the subject that persons going on country excursions on Sunday cannot take recreation without the opportunity of purchasing whisky as refreshment. Those who are led into drinking on Sunday in Ireland are not those who go into the country for fresh air and exercise, but those who turn their steps from fresh air and country walks into unhealthy towns to fall into bad company and intoxication and crime. One word more as to the supposed necessity of whisky drinking on Sunday as refreshment. In the Bay of Dublin there are from 50 to 60 trawlers, each with a crew of five men and a boy, and 200 or 300 herring boats with similar crews. And what is their rule? They do not allow any intoxicating liquor on hoard, although they are out for several days or a week each time, at hard labour and exposed to rough weather, and if they can bear so many days continuously without whisky, surely the well-fed 100 excursionist may pass one day without the opportunity of buying whisky; and, moreover, the Bill now before us does not prevent excursionists carrying with them as much whisky as they like. Some who call themselves philosophers, and deal with abstract platitudes, would denounce the Bill and its provisions as interfering with the liberty of the subject. Every law is an interference with individual liberty, and so we need not, I think, dwell on that objection. It is again objected to as "class legislation," and the rich man's private club has been denounced and contrasted with the poor man's public-house. I went so fully into an exposure of the fallacy of comparing "club-house" and "public-house" together in my observations on the Bill of last year, that I do not think it necessary to repeat them now. Another objection made to the Bill is that if it pass into law, and that the ordinary houses for the sale of whisky be shut up, it will increase "illicit drinking." The reply to that may be very short. There are several districts in Ireland in which voluntary closing for the whole of Sunday has taken place, and the evidence of the Catholic Bishops and clergy is that this result has not occurred; indeed, it is manifest that it has not occurred, for the towns in which the voluntary closing has taken place are described as most orderly in the evenings, whereas before they were scenes of riot and disorder. This improved order could not exist if illicit drinking had increased. Its bad fruits could not be concealed in the shades of night. Moreover, if this Bill pass, the honest trader, the police, and the constabulary will all be combined against the illicit dealer, and he must cease his mischievous trade. I will only trespass now on the House with a few short extracts from authorities who command our respect on the question, and they are all written within the last month or two months. The Most Rev. Dr. Furlong, Bishop of Ferns, writes this month from Wexford—I am happy to inform you that the Sunday closing observance, inaugurated in the Diocese of Ferns 17 years ago, has been productive of the happiest results. We have no longer to deplore those frequent scenes of riot and disorder, which formerly it was so painful to witness. The County Wexford presents on Sundays those features of quiet and repose, and exemption from all disturbance, so well suited 101 to a day specially devoted to the divine worship.G. J. Barry, Esq., J. P., Kilmallock, County Tipperary, writes as follows last month:—A portion of this petty sessions' district being in the diocese of Emily, the 'Sunday temperance law' is in force. No drink can be had on Sundays, consequently there is a complete absence of fighting and drunkenness; but from that portion of the district where the Sunday closing is not observed, drunken cases, riots, fighting, &c., crop up pretty abundantly at petty sessions. I find a pretty general feeling in favour of Sunday closing, even among the publicans. The latter don't complain of any hardship where this 'Sunday temperance law' is in force, and decidedly the public have no reason to complain, as the gain is altogether on their side.R. J. Hamilton, Esq., J. P., County Tyrone, writes thus, also last month—It would be a great blessing to this country if the public-houses were closed. I cannot tell you the amount of drink that is sold in Dromore, near me, on Sundays; and it is a disgrace to this neighbourhood to see so many people coming home scarcely able to walk from the effects of intoxicating drink. Most of the drunken cases brought to Firlick Bench by the constabulary happen on Sundays.Mr. Fitzmaurice, J. P., says—Having been nearly 30 years in the Commission of the Peace, I can confidently state that most of the clime committed in our district has arisen from Sunday drunkenness and intoxication.Mr. Rolleston, D. L., J. P., County Tipperary, writes as follows:—I was opposed to this (closing public-houses on Sundays) movement, but I have heard so much of the beneficial effects of Sunday closing in the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cashel, promoted by the Archbishop, I am now as much in favour of it as I was opposed to it.Mr. Hale, J. P., County Sligo, writes that heBelieves that a great deal of crime is caused, and a great many poor families driven to ruin and the poor-house by Sunday drinking. By all means let us have public-houses closed on Sunday. It will be a blessing to Ireland.Mr. Disney, J. P., Curragh Camp, writes that—The restrictions of the hours for the sale of intoxicating drinks has materially improved the morals of the people in this locality; nevertheless, nothing but the entire cessation of the liquor traffic on Sundays will obtain the requisite decorum.I will now leave the matter in the hands of the House. I wish it had fallen into the hands of an abler advocate. That could have easily happened, but it could not have fallen into the hands of one 102 who has seen more of the sad effects of intemperance than I have, and who well knows that among the agencies that perpetuate the vice of intemperance, there is not one that is more fruitful in all the evils that follow habits of intemperance with all their bad consequences than "Sunday drinking in Ireland."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Dominic Corrigan.)
§ MR. CALLAN,
in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, he did so neither as an advocate of the licensed vintners nor because he was in favour of the unrestricted sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays. He opposed the Bill on principle, because he disliked all such compulsory prohibitive legislation, and believed that the passing, of such a Bill would lead to the creation of evils of much greater magnitude—in the shape of "shebeens" and irregular houses—than those which the promoters of the Bill professed it was intended to remedy. He hoped that the House would deal summarily with the Bill, and that by its prompt rejection they would show that Parliament disapproved of those irritating discussions, which could not by any possibility have any practical or beneficial result. He denied, from his own personal knowledge, that there was that unanimity in favour of the measure which the hon. Baronet alleged, and asserted that it was only a small and active minority who were in favour of Sunday closing. He pointed out that a Bill for regulating the sale of fermented and distilled liquors by retail on Sundays in Ireland, which was prepared and brought in by the hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly), the noble Lord the Member for Monaghan (Lord Cremorne), and the senior Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim), read a first time and ordered to be printed on the 18th of February 1868, extended the prohibition of the sale of liquors to be consumed on the premises to the entire of Sunday, but permitted their sale for consumption off the premises from 2 o'clock to 4 o'clock, and from 8 o'clock to 9 o'clock, and by eating-house keepers to their customers at meals. After considerable discussion that Bill was referred to a Select Committee consisting of 15 103 Members—1 English, 1 Scotch, and 13 Irish Members, all still Members of the House, with the exception of Mr. Pollard-Urquhart, Mr. Leader, and the noble Lord the late Governor General of India, the then Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Committee sat 13 days, extending over a period of more than two months, examined 22 witnesses, representing almost every class and district in Ireland, and their unanimous Report and recommendations appeared in the shape of the Bill "as amended by the Select Committee," brought in by the same bon. Members, on the 26th of May of the same year, which merely restricted the hours for sale of liquors, whether drunk on or off the premises, from 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock in rural districts, and from 2 to 9 o'clock in cities and towns of over 5,000 inhabitants, giving power to the magistrates in petty sessions to licence hotels in rural districts to remain open to 9 o'clock, and power to local boards to restrict the hours in towns of over 5,000 inhabitants to the hours fixed for rural districts. The Bill was not persevered with but was re-introduced in 1869, and withdrawn on the representation that the subject would be dealt with by the Government Bill when introduced; that promise was fully redeemed last Session when those restrictions, recommended by and embodied in the Bill of the Select Committee, were adopted and enacted by the Bill of last Session. He asked what ease had been made out to justify an interference with the existing Act, which he asserted had been found to work satisfactorily, or what evidence had been brought forward to displace that given before the Select Committee? The hon. Baronet had produced no evidence as to the necessity of the Bill. He had quoted the opinions of private individuals in favour of the movement, but he had produced no Report or statement in support of his views from the magistrates or the police, who were responsible for the good order and government of the country, and the accuracy of which could be tested. On referring to the evidence taken by the Select Committee of 1868, he found that all those who had the largest experience of the working of the Acts regulating the liquor traffic were opposed to the total closing of public-houses on Sundays. What said Mr. O'Ferrall, the Chief Commissioner of 104 the Metropolitan Police, Dublin, speaking from large experience?—that "total closing on Sundays would not be desirable." Inspector Corr—well known, he was sure, to the junior Member for Dublin, as he was to many hon. Members of the House, as one of the ablest and most experienced officers in the force—gave strong evidence against total closing or absolute prohibition; as did also probably the best known police magistrate in Ireland, Mr. Frank Thorpe Porter, for upwards of 20 years the chief divisional magistrate in Dublin. The Mayor of Cork considered that "it would be utterly impossible to stop the sale of intoxicating drink on Sundays," and considered that "the people, while in favour of increased restriction, were totally opposed to entire prohibition;" and Canon M'Cabe, one of the most able and eminent dignitaries of the Catholic Church in Dublin, while most favourable to temperance and increased restrictions, "could not recommend total closing on Sundays." The hon. Baronet referred to Scotland, and to the encouraging results there of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. He (Mr. Callan) knew very little of Scotland, but if there was no drunkenness and gross immorality in the lower quarters of the large towns of Scotland on Sundays, then all he could say was that they were the most maligned and calumniated people on the face of the earth. If the feeling in favour of closing public-houses on Sunday in Ireland was so universal as alleged, why not leave the matter to the spontaneous action of the people and lend their aid to the clergy in their effort to promote amongst and by the people a voluntary temperance law, which they would observe with fidelity? He objected to the Bill as "class legislation" which would press vexatiously on the artisan and labourer, and leave untouched the "club of the rich man," where the hon. Baronet and other supporters of the Bill could indulge in their "sherry and seltzer," whilst the poor man who came out for a breath of fresh air after working all the week could not get a "drop of drink"—even a glass of beer. He had often wondered at the remarkable absence of the name of the hon. Baronet from the division lists on the many Coercion Bills for Ireland; but perhaps the present Bill afforded the ex- 105 planation that the hon. Baronet was in favour of restrictive and coercive measures for his country. If his recollection did not fail him, the hon. Baronet in one of his canvassing harangues, spoke pathetically of the injustice and hardship of a law which would restrict the people of Ireland from being allowed to have and enjoy their glass of whisky or beer on the Sunday. Yet the hon. Baronet now wished the House of Commons to pass a Bill which would impose restrictions on the people, and debar them from obtaining on the Sunday that which was necessary for them. He (Mr. Callan) thought they had quite enough of restrictions in Ireland, without the hon. Baronet coming forward to aid in imposing further restrictions on its people. He recollected that one of the most eloquent speeches that had been made against closing public-houses on Sundays was made by the hon. Baronet. [Sir DOMINIC CORRIGAN: No, no; that is quite a mistake.] He thought, as he said before, in referring to it, that he remembered the hon. Baronet saying that if he landed at Kingstown on a Sunday from his yacht, he might go to his club or to an hotel and have a glass of sherry and seltzer-water, or a "brandy and soda," and that it would be a hardship that his boatmen, who might be wet through and exhausted by their exertions, could not get even a glass of "grog" at a public-house. The hon. Baronet seemed to sneer at those Members who had expressed their sympathy for the working men, and said they were a class of persons whom he did not trust. Very probably the mistrust was mutual, and he (Mr. Callan) should be surprised if the working men of Dublin did not at the coming General Election show in a very marked manner their mistrust of the hon. Member. The hon. Baronet had asked by what authority the opponents of his Bill spoke on behalf of the working men of Ireland, and called upon them to show their "credentials." Well, he (Mr. Callan) required no credentials of the kind. In every movement having for its object the advancement of, or the interest of, the working man, he had, in the county to which he belonged, taken his part, and on their behalf and in their name he objected to this most vexatious Bill. He could not understand why the hon. Baronet persisted with it 106 unless, indeed, he wished to leave it as a parting bequest to his constituents on his leave-taking, now on the eve of a dissolution. If the hon. Baronet introduced a Bill of a permissive nature, giving the power of closing public houses on the Sunday to a substantial majority of the inhabitants of the district, say three-fourths or four-fifths, he would support it on principle, as a logical sequence to the demand of the people for Home Rule, and also because such a power, whilst it would never be exercised against respectable and properly conducted houses, would act as a salutary check and deterrent on parties otherwise disposed. The reason why Sunday closing had succeeded so well the dioceses of Cashel and Ferns was because it was done with the concurrence of the people. And he could confidently assert that such an arbitrary Bill as the one before the House would never meet with the concurrence of the people, but on the contrary would act as a repellant and seriously injure, rather than serve, the voluntary movement in those districts. Before sitting down, he must express his surprise at the character given to the people of Dublin and suburbs by their Representative. If he (Mr. Callan) were a stranger, he would, after hearing the hon. Baronet, leave the House under the impression that the principal Sunday characteristics of the hon. Baronet's constituents was drunkenness and disorderly "rowdyism." Well, he could, from personal knowledge, assure the House that the people of Dublin, the artizans and working classes, were most exemplary—creditable alike to themselves and their country. Such a Bill as this could not work without the consent of the people, and no evidence had been produced to the House by the hon. Baronet to show that the people of Ireland had consented to accept the measure, therefore he felt justified in moving its rejection.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
ventured to second the Amendment at the risk of incurring the censure of the hon. Baronet, who said he could not approve the gratuitous champions of the working men in this matter. He (Mr. Lowther) strongly objected to the view of some supporters of the measure, that it should be passed because bodies of persons outside were loud in their advocacy of it; and he could not understand why in a matter 107 of that nature, the working classes of Ireland should be legislated for in an exceptional manner. He regarded the individual opinion of Members of Parliament, as opposed to the moving impulse of the mere delegate, as an element of Parliamentary government which should be jealously guarded. Nothing could be more harmful to the influence of the House than the propagation of an opinion, that no one should be listened to unless he could prove for the occasion that he was the delegate of others outside. That would be destructive of the very essence of Parliamentary government. But after all, what was the hon. Baronet but a gratuitous champion in this matter—the amicus curiœ of those whose views he advocated? He could not, however, but recollect that the hon. Baronet had been a party to the Licensing Act of last Session, and therefore he could not understand why he should come down to that House, in the second week in July, and ask them to disturb that arrangement, which, whatever might be its defects, or whatever might be its merits, had been generally accepted as no unfair settlement of the question. The hon. Baronet, who had very much overstated his case, must be fully aware that that was a question on which considerable difference of opinion existed. He was, he was bound to confess, much struck at the success of the hon. Baronet in getting a House together; but, at the same time, he would venture to observe that if a vote of the House were now taken on the Bill, it would represent rather the opinion of Irish Members than the pronounced decision of the imperial Legislature. Great stress had been laid upon the fact that Petitions numerously signed had been presented in favour of the Bill; but they all knew how Petitions of that kind were got up, and therefore he attached no importance to them. The hon. Baronet had, however, urged another and a better argument in favour of his Bill. He had told the House that all the rows and riots in Ireland, nay, he went further and included sedition, were to be traced to the use of whisky-punch in public-houses on Sundays. Now, if the hon. Baronet could assure the House that Ireland would become quiet, peaceful, and loyal, if the Bill were passed, he (Mr. Lowther), although he differed from it in principle, 108 would be inclined to support it. That, indeed, would be a strong case made out in its favour, and the measure itself would be an agreeable substitute for Coercion Acts and Arms Acts and for Acts suspending the constitutional privileges of the subject. Still the Bill would only provide an immunity from outrage and disloyalty on one day out of seven, so that his statistics and facts went beyond the scope of his Bill. Then as regarded the settlement of last year, he (Mr. Lowther) was not going to say that it was to be considered a final one; but he would say that the hon. Baronet had not made out any case for disturbing that settlement in a way which would only apply to Ireland. He objected to such piecemeal dealing with a particular subject, and thought it better than have three Acts dealing with the same subject, they should be all consolidated in a sense which would render the application of the combined Act universal throughout the United Kingdom. He hoped that when they did come to amend the Licensing Act, the measure would be framed in a considerate spirit, and made capable of universal application.
§ 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. Callan.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
supported the Bill. There was, he said, a growing feeling in favour of it throughout the county which he had represented for the last thirty-eight years, and his experience led him to believe that it would be acceptable to the working classes of Ireland. That feeling was evident from the number of Petitions presented in favour of the Bill signed by the clergy and laity of all denominations. They bore testimony that drunkenness was the curse of the Irish peasantry,—and that by preventing it, they would go far to alleviate the evils of Ireland. There was no question whatever, that the greater the facilities for obtaining drink, the more the prisons were filled. Anyone who doubted what would be the result of passing this measure, he would refer to the evidence taken before Mr. O'Reilly's Committee, where he would see how wide-spread had been the blessing attending the Christian and pa- 109 triotic efforts of one Roman Catholic Prelate, who had got the publicans within his diocese to close their houses upon the Sabbath day. Again, he would mention that in the first year after Forbes-Mackenzie's Act came into operation in Scotland, crime and outrage abated, and that in the City of Glasgow a vote of £12,000 for the enlargement of the prison, made by the municipality the year before, was declared unnecessary. It had, however, been stated that the closing of the public-houses drove the people into illicit houses, and that there was a great deal of clandestine drunkenness. So persistently had that been stated that a Royal Commission, presided over by Sir George Clerk, had been appointed to inquire into it, and their Report gave it a full contradiction.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, the Bill proposed that there should be a total stoppage of the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays. Now, he did not deny the extreme value to society of checking intemperance, but there was some danger in attempting to do so—they would deprive some men of their fair and just rights. The human frame was so constituted that men got hungry and thirsty on Sundays as well as other days, and he therefore thought it extremely unfair to tell the labouring man who took one glass of beer upon Sunday, that he would no longer be permitted to do so because his neighbour took ten. Again, under this Bill a bonâ fide traveller was defined to be a man five miles away from home. Now that was too short a distance where they had a railway, and it was too long a distance where a man was making a journey on foot. The effect of it in Dublin would be to turn all the Sunday drunkenness of that city loose upon Kingstown, which was more than five miles distant. He could not deny the great evils that arose in Ireland from habits of intemperance, particularly as regarded Sunday drinking; but he did not think that such au extreme measure as that proposed was necessary to meet those evils, whilst it was likely to interfere with the convenience and legitimate wants of many persons. They ought, if possible, to prevent the intemperance of those who indulged in excesses in such a way as not to interfere with the moderato and perhaps necessary use of certain refreshments to the thirsty or weary traveller. The great majority of people believed 110 that the moderate use of spirituous and fermented drinks was both healthful and beneficial, and it was an opinion founded upon common sense, and therefore he did not see the necessity for bringing in a Bill to prevent men supplying what was a natural want. If they wished to be consistent they would have to extend the prohibition to all classes of the community, and then they would have in Ireland an agitation as extreme as that which took place in this country some years ago on the occasion of Lord Robert Grosvenor's Bill. These were reasons which induced him to hesitate before giving his support to this Bill. As to the opinions of the working classes on the subject, he was bound to say that although he presented a Petition from a large number of his constituents last year in favour of the Bill he had not been asked to present one either for or against the measure in the present Session. Under such circumstances, he thought he was justified in supposing that his constituents were still favourable to the object of the Bill. He should therefore vote for the second reading, being willing to give the Bill a trial as an experiment, and believing that a large number of the working classes desired it. At the same time, in case it should prove to be inconvenient to a majority of the people, he reserved to himself the right to move for its repeal on some future occasion.
§ MR. PIM
said, he advocated this measure in the interests of the largo number of persons—men, women and children—who were employed in the public-houses in Ireland. He had obtained a Return last Session, which showed that there were in Ireland more than 18,000 houses licensed for the retail sale of spirits or beer, and he thought it was not too high an estimate if he assumed that the attendants and servants in these 18,000 houses were at least 50,000. These persons, many of whom were under 18 years of age, were employed in Dublin from 7 o'clock in the morning until 11 o'clock at night, during six days of the week, and from 2 o'clock to 9 o'clock on Sundays, making in all 103 hours of weekly toil, while factory hands worked for only 60 hours, and were now seeking a reduction to 54 hours a-week. Parliament had legislated as respected factories and mines and workshops, and he (Mr. Pim) thought 111 that similar care ought to be given to the case of those who were employed in public-houses. These young men and young women and boys were kept for 103 hours in Dublin and other large towns, and for 95 hours in country places, serving out beer and whisky, and on their account he asked for at least one clay in the week as a holiday—a day of rest from toil, of religious observance and of rational and healthful recreation. The employment might not be very laborious, but it was continuous, and the time occupied was long. They were, moreover, exposed to the handling, and sight, and smell of that which was a strong temptation, and their very fatigue increased the inducement to indulge in it. He would himself wish to go farther, and to prevent anyone under 21 years of age from being employed in a public-house for more than 10 hours on any day; but the closing of public-houses on Sundays would do something in this direction. The loss of the Sunday trade would have important compensations for the owners of public-houses. They would save the Sunday expenses, which were considerable, and they and their families would enjoy a weekly holiday, which many of them never had now. He knew that many of the most respectable vintners would gladly close their shops on Sundays, if their neighbours in the same trade would close their shops also; but while others kept open they thought they must do the same or that they would lose their week-day customers. In the year 1867 he had presented a Petition to the House signed by 235 spirit grocers and vintners, praying for the closing of public-houses on Sundays, and he had no doubt that very many others would support closing on Sundays but that they feared that illicit trade would be carried on, and that drink would be sold notwithstanding the legal prohibition. No doubt it was impossible wholly to prevent the illicit sale of strong drink. Our laws and punishments did not wholly prevent robbery and other crimes. But he thought the police ought to be able to secure the practical observance of the law, and the Act of last year had given them much greater facilities for doing so. If the shutting up of the public houses lessened drunkenness, the police would have more time to devote to this object. 112 For whose benefit, he would ask, were the public-houses to be kept open on Sundays? It was said to be for the benefit of the working classes; but if this were so, it was strange that there were no Petitions from the working classes against the present Bill. Almost all the Petitions forwarded to the House were in its favour. He maintained that the working classes in Ireland were favourable to Sunday closing, and he would refer to one fact in proof of his assertion. In the spring of last year a meeting was held in the City of Dublin—he was not sure whether in favour of the Permissive Bill or of Sunday closing—at which a person presented himself, claiming to speak for the artizans and tradesmen of Dublin, and stating that it would be unfair to them to close the public-houses on Sunday. The result of the declaration so made was that a meeting of the artizans and working men was held in the large room at the Mechanics' Institute. He (Mr. Pim) was informed that the room was crowded — more than 1,000 persons being present, and the meeting very enthusiastic. The resolutions were almost unanimously adopted, and a Petition signed by the chairman was presented to this House, praying that the Bill for closing public-houses on Sunday might become law. This was the only meeting of working men which he was aware of having been called to express an opinion on the subject; but he challenged the opposers of the measure to get up such meetings in Dublin and elsewhere, and thus ascertain what the wishes of the working men really were. Let meetings of working men be held, not under the influence of those who were opposed to Sunday closing, nor of those who were its advocates, but meetings impartially conducted and free from constraint, and the decision of these meetings, whether for or against the proposed measure, would have great influence, and would go far to decide the course which ought to be pursued. There were difficulties in the way of closing public-houses on Sunday in England which did not exist in Ireland. In England, beer was an article of diet—it was consumed by almost every family at dinner; but it was not so in Ireland. Very few of the artizan class in Ireland used beer at their meals, and therefore they would not be inconvenienced in this respect by the public-houses being closed on Sundays. The 113 trade was a dangerous one for all who were concerned in it. It exposed them to a great, a most seductive temptation, and many fell victims to it. The long hours and continuous work increased the danger. He would appeal to the owners of public-houses themselves whether this was not true. Would any man in the trade bring up his children as attendants in a public-house, if he could possibly avoid it? If the trade must be carried on, we ought to try to reduce its danger to a minimum. He believed it would be a great blessing to those engaged in the trade, as well as to their families and servants, to get at least one day in the week free. He would be glad it it were possible to prevent any young persons from being employed in a public-house. Men might withstand the temptation, even with the constant sight and smell and taste, but it must act fearfully on the young. Pass this Bill, give them one day of freedom in each week—one day for innocent and healthful enjoyment in common with the other classes of the community and they would have done something to strengthen them against the temptations of the other six. He was convinced that the proposed measure was fully justified by public opinion in Ireland, and he had no doubt that if it could be submitted to an Irish Parliament it would be adopted without much hesitation. He should therefore give his cordial support to the second reading.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, there was one argument used by the hon. Baronet who moved the second reading, and repeated by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, against which he must enter his humble protest. Both hon. Gentlemen referred to the circumstance that a great number of Petitions had been presented in favour of the Bill, while none were sent in against it; and they alleged that that was a conclusive proof that the people of Ireland were in its favour. Now, so far as the Petitions in its favour went he had nothing to say; but he must protest against the conclusion arrived at that because no Petitions were sent in against it the people of Ireland were in favour of a measure of this description. For his own part, he was personally opposed to legislation like that, and against being put down as a supporter of such restrictive regulations. Whenever the people 114 of Ireland saw there was a probability of a Bill of the kind becoming law, then he had no doubt they would exhibit their feelings in a manner not to be mistaken. The fact was, that in conjunction with the people of England, the Irish nation were very careful in seeing that the privileges they already possessed should not be interfered with or curtailed, but, however, they could not always be petitioning in favour of what they had already obtained. It was not his intention to go into the arguments for or against the Bill, for he could add nothing to them; but he must object to the suggestion thrown out by the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Bruen). The hon. Gentleman said that it was meant as an experiment; but that was not the way to deal with important interests that would be seriously affected by its provisions. They ought to make up their minds as to what was right, and if Parliament thought the people of Ireland were in favour of some such measure, it would no doubt adopt the same course it did in the case of Scotland. In that case, it was represented that great advantage followed the adoption of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act as regarded that country; but he was informed that great differences of opinion existed as to the working of that Act in Scotland. Although the majority of Scotch Members in the House were in its favour, there was, he repeated, a great difference of opinion even among Scotchmen themselves, as to whether it promoted the cause of morality and sobriety. The circumstances of the two countries were, however, extremely different, for it was not the custom in Ireland to observe the Sunday with that degree of strictness with which it was kept by the Scotch people, who were Presbyterians; and he was by no means satisfied that any attempt to enforce the closing of public-houses on Sunday would be received in Ireland with anything like that unanimity which should justify the House in adopting such a measure. Moreover, that was not the time to proceed with the trial of another experiment of that nature. If it were to be done at all, it ought to have been proposed when the Government introduced a Bill dealing with the whole system of licensing. The opinions of the Government were clearly expressed; the Bill was debated fully in the House, and it was not then considered 115 that public opinion in Ireland was in favour of prohibiting the sale of liquors on Sundays. If the House on that occasion differed from the promoters of the Bill, they ought to have said so. The opinion of the House was not that public-houses should be closed on Sundays, but that the hours of sale should be more restricted on Sundays than on other days both in England and in Ireland. Under that Act the trade had been regulated; much more severe penalties had been enacted for every violation of the licensing laws; the hours of sale were restricted, and the distinction between Sundays and other days of the week was rendered more marked by shortening the hours of sale on Sundays, and if the subject was again to be opened up, it must necessarily be attended with very serious evils. He knew there were hon. Members in that House who looked upon publicans as enemies of the human race, to be crushed and put down as soon as possible. He for one did net look upon them in any such light. They were a respectable class of tradesmen who supplied one of the necessities of the community; whose business that House had a right to regulate in the interests of law and order; but, giving their trade the sanction of that law, they were not at liberty to interfere with them by continual attacks like the proposing of a Bill of this description. He believed that such a course went far to justify them in assuming the aggressive attitude they had assumed. The House must be aware that their character and respectability was a matter of great public interest, and they ought not to be continually exposed to attacks on their trade and the large vested interests which were involved in it. On the part of the Government, therefore, he could not give his sanction to this Bill. His own opinion was entirely adverse to such legislation as class legislation, and as a most unnecessary interference with trade, and especially one in which a large capital was vested. If it were the prevailing opinion that public-houses should be closed on Sundays, the duty of the Legislature would be clear and distinct, and such a course ought to have been insisted upon last Session when the Licensing Bill was before the House; but until that time came and a stronger feeling prevailed in its favour than now existed, he should, on the part of the 116 Government, give his vote against such a proceeding.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
differed entirely from the conclusions arrived at by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He knew that in his own district in the North of Ireland the strongest possible feeling existed in favour of closing public-houses on Sundays, and in that part of the country, the people of whatever religious denomination joined in strongly advocating every possible restriction on the consumption of spirituous liquors and the temptation to indulge in them. He did not see why something like the Forbes-Mackenzie Act should not be applied to Ireland. As an Englishman, however, he thought it was impossible to enact such a law for England, the tastes and habits of the people being so different. It must be remembered that in England beer was what might be generally termed the national beverage, but in Ireland spirits were generally drunk, and he need hardly say that in many cases, the worst consequences followed, even among otherwise well-conducted persons. No one could be better adapted for bringing forward such a Bill than the hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading, inasmuch as, belonging to the medical profession, he knew the fatal effects produced by the consumption of intoxicating liquors. Perhaps the best result of the present debate might be that some measure of a tentative nature would be introduced. The Committee of 1868 suggested a reduction of the hours during which public-houses should be permitted to remain open on Sundays, and he thought it would be well to carry out their recommendations. To close public-houses entirely was a serious step to take, as it would certainly lead to great agitation, and would have to be followed a year or so later by the modification or the repeal of the Act by which the change had been effected. He did not wish to detain the House with longer observations on the subject, which involved important questions of a philosophical nature. He was as anxious as were any of the advocates of the Bill, but he hoped his advice would be taken. If the Motion went to a division, he should support the second reading, but only in the hope that the measure would eventually take a purely remedial form.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
observed that the hon. Baronet who had just spoken founded his argument on the fact that beer was the common drink in England, while whisky was the common drink in Ireland; but the Act prohibited also the sale of beer in Ireland within the specified limits. In his opinion, legislation against the drunkard, and not against the victualler, should be the principle upon which Parliament should act. He was opposed to all coercive legislation to enforce abstinence, for if they proceeded upon that ground with what consistency could they allow their clubs to remain open? In Switzerland it was against the drunkard that they legislated; and he had seen in a tavern in that country a notice that a particular individual, therein named, was not to be served for two years, under penalties which, for a third offence, involved imprisonment. It was true that in some districts of Ireland public-houses were closed on Sundays in consequence of the influence exerted by the clergy, and there could be no objection to such a proceeding, because it was perfectly voluntary; but he was unwilling to bring about such a result by coercion, and therefore he should record his vote against the second reading of the Bill.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, he should certainly oppose the Bill unless he received the assurance that it would receive a considerable modification in Committee. He could see no reason why a man, because he happened to be poor, should not be entitled to the refreshment on a Sunday which he was accustomed to have on a week-day. He should only support the second reading of the Bill if that privilege were reserved to the poor man. As to clubs, they were very different from public-houses kept by persons whose interest it was to sell as much drink as they possibly could. In clubs, whether frequented by the rich or the poor, it was quite different, because there the interest of the persons concerned was that the place should be quietly and respectably conducted.
§ MR. J. MARTIN
said, that in his opinion the people of Ireland were decidedly in favour of this Bill. He did not pretend to say what would be its fate in any English Parliament; but of this he was certain, that an Irish Parliament sitting at College Green would undoubtedly give effect to the public wishes, 118 by passing it into law. It was, he thought, a good measure, and had his cordial support.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, that in the year 1856 he had been a Member of the Committee of the late Mr. Berkeley, when feeling ran high in this metropolis and when a Gentleman, then a Member of the House (Mr. Dundas), had stated that such expressions of opinion could best be arrested by the "trail of a six-pounder." At that time public opinion was against the then legislation, and he had in consequence supported Mr. Berkeley. It might appear strange that he should take a different course upon that occasion, but circumstances were changed. Now, however it arose, he had no expression of opinion from his constituents against this Bill, on the contrary, many Petitions were forwarded to him in its favour, many, strange to say, from spirit dealers. Under such circumstances he did not feel justified—no matter what was his own opinion—in going against the opinion thus expressed by a section of his constituents, and finding no movement on the opposite side, he therefore should not vote on that occasion.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he was a promoter of the Permissive Bill, but nevertheless deemed it his duty to vote against the present measure. In the course of the debate on the Licensing Act a proposal was made to give two-thirds of the magistrates power to close public-houses on Sundays, but only 25 hon. Members voted in favour of it. If all the clergy of the different denominations were united in the desire to carry out the object of this Bill they could easily do so without any legislation whatever. That had actually been done by an Irish Prelate in the county of Tipperary, through his own individual exertions, and what had been done there might be done elsewhere. It was, however, found that that did not prevent drinking, and the small number of publicans who had taken six-day licences showed that the trade was not in favour of Sunday closing. He was entirely opposed to the principle of the Bill. He thought it a cruel thing to attempt to harass persons in a humble sphere with restrictions that could not affect those who were well off. How was the publican to know whether a man was five miles from his home; and what sort of evidence was to be deemed sufficient to 119 satisfy him? And if a man were to be allowed a glass of beer or of spirits after walking five miles, could it be refused to one who had walked only four and a-half? Persons coming from their places of worship in the mountains should certainly be allowed that privilege; and he hoped the hon. Member for Dublin would see the matter in the same light. He contended that Irishmen drank much less than Scotchmen or Englishmen, and denied that there was anything like unanimity of opinion in Ireland in favour of the Bill.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, he took great interest in the success of the measure, and therefore could not but express his regret at the slight interest taken in the matter by the Members of Her Majesty's Government. He was sorry to hear the speech of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, the more so as the noble Marquess's share in the Government of Ireland during the last three years had given great satisfaction. Fenians, Home Rulers, and other rebels assembled in public-houses on Sundays to plot against the country, and that was a reason why the Home Secretary and the noble Marquess should have urged on the House the importance of passing the Bill.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, that was not a question affecting Ireland only; but even if it were, he denied that there was any such unanimity in Ireland on this subject as had been represented. Many of, indeed, nearly all, the magistrates or persons exercising jurisdiction in the larger towns and centres of Ireland, who were examined before the Committee, stated that it would be a bad thing if public-houses were wholly closed on Sundays. It was unfair to the publicans of both countries to assume that they desired to carry on their business—subject of course to their own reasonable profits — from any other motive than that of affording a legitimate public convenience. It was all very well to say that the cases of public-houses and of clubs were entirely different; but no view that could be held on that point could justify the proposition contained in the Bill. He could not see how they could legislate for particular individuals by depriving others, who committed no offence, of what was their right. The principle of the Bill was applicable not only to Ireland, but to 120 England also; and he believed that it would be a bad thing absolutely to close all public-houses on Sundays, because it would be monstrously unfair to do so, as it would work much hardship in individual cases. How often, for instance, did it happen—as the hon. Member for Dublin must know full well—that spirits were wanted on Sundays for medical purposes; and had he no regard for what might happen when, by the legislation he proposed, it would be denied? He should oppose the Bill.
§ SIR DOMINIC CORRIGAN,
in reply, said, he had no desire to stand by the traveller's clause or by the limit of five miles; but to leave those and other details to be determined by the Committee, preserving, however, the principle of the Bill as one for closing on Sundays.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 140: Majority 57.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for three months.