HC Deb 07 May 1873 vol 215 cc1609-64

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of this Bill, said: Sir, I am reminded that we stand in a rather different position from that of last year. This is the only Bill at present before the House which deals with the liquor traffic, with the exception of the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin (Sir Dominic Corrigan), which applies only to the sale of liquors on Sunday in Ireland, and the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. D. Dalrymple), which deals rather with drunkards than with the causes of drunkenness. The Bill which I now move professes to deal with the causes of drunkenness. Now, Sir, this is a very different state of things from what we had last year, for then we had no less than six Bills before the House, all attempting either to regulate or improve the law with regard to the sale of liquor. But the House will remember that all these Bills came to an end according to the usual course of Parliamentary death, except the Bill that was proposed by the Government, and was brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary Of State for the Home Department. Sir, the House must well remember the pains and trouble that it took in passing the Bill, and what a time we were in discussing it; how we rose up early and sat up late; how we met on unheard-of days and at unheard-of hours; how all parties co-operated in endeavouring to improve the Bill; and how the hon. Baronet the Member for South Essex (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) generously gave up his own measure and did all in his power to make the Government Bill a perfect one. Hon. Members will also remember that the Home Secretary had worked hard at this question, and that for years he had been considering it. Over and over again we had been told to wait until the Home Secretary "grappled" with the question, and at last he did grapple with it. The House of Commons and the Government having thus concurred in passing the best measure in their power, I may be asked—"Why, after all this trouble, do you presume to re-open the question?" Well, Sir, I presume to reopen the question because, although the House and the Home Secretary are satisfied with their work, I distinctly say that the country is not satisfied, and that its demand is for something more to be done in this matter, and it will not be satisfied until something more has been accomplished. I am not going to weary the House by quoting police statistics with a view of proving that so many more persons were taken up before the magistrates and fined this year than there were the year before. I am not going to weary the House with these kinds of arguments, for I know how I should be met if I did so. If I was to say that so many more persons had been arrested this year I should be told at once that the police were much stricter now than they were. But if the police Returns show fewer arrests, that is always hailed as a proof of intemperance diminishing. It is not for me to quarrel with such arguments, but I will give a test which I think no one can contradict. I will take the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a statement which he delivered in this House only a few weeks ago. The right hon. Gentleman proved that there had been an increase in the Excise duties of £1,300,000, and that during the last financial year he showed there had been an increase of £25,000 per week in the consumption of spirits in this country. No one can dispute that. I am not going to say or to endeavour to prove which class of the community drinks more or less than they did. If I speak of drunkenness as the curse of the country I am met by the statement that in the last generation the old country squires used to drink till they tumbled off their chairs, and that they never went to bed sober, whereas now drunkenness is entirely confined to the poorer classes. The other day I stated in the House that the increased consumption of drink, arising principally from beer and gin, proved that the working classes were now drinking more than ever. I was immediately told that I was wrong, and this increase arose from the middle classes. I am not going to say where the increase is; all I do say is that the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer prove that during the past year the people of this country have poured down their throats a greater quantity of liquor than the same number of people ever did before in the same time since the beginning of the world. [A laugh.] That is my case. I do not say who they were. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Collins) may laugh, but this is no laughing matter when we come to think of the injury and the misery that is caused by drink. I do not attempt to state on my own authority whether there has been more drunkenness during the past year or not. All I can go by is the reports which have appeared in the press, and by the statements of all those well acquainted with the working classes, who declare that a vast proportion of the very high wages now earned are expended in drinking and dissipation. I will take the Report of the Licensed Victuallers' National Defence League with regard to the working of the new Licensing Act, in order for us to judge if drunkenness has increased or decreased. This League sent a circular to 73 places asking if drunkenness had decreased or not, and I find that only three answers have been returned stating that there had been any decrease. In 34 places it was reported that it was stationary, but in 36 there had been an increase. Therefore, according to the agents of the Licensed Victuallers' League, there had been an increase, and not a decrease, in the amount of drunkenness. Now, do not let hon. Gentlemen say that the Act which was passed last year has not been worked efficiently. So far as I can ascertain, it has been worked efficiently, and great pains have been taken to enforce it, and extraordinary statements have appeared in the newspapers of the stringency with which it has been enforced. All the penalties have been put in force. I have read of men being adjudged to be drunk because they had flushed faces; indeed, I have read an astounding statement of a landlord being fined for being drunk in his own house, and it seems clear that the Act has been efficiently carried out. It must be most gratifying to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, to hear that in our large towns order and decorum now prevail at night in a much greater degree than before. Then I remember it was said that adulteration existed to a great extent; but I think that the evil is proved not to be so great as was anticipated, for I have not heard of a single case of a publican being charged before the authorities with adulteration since the Act was passed. As it seems this portion of the Act has not been put in force, I think that adulteration was not an evil to the extent which some hon. Gentlemen thought that it was. I am, therefore, entitled to assume, in reviewing the position, that we have got the best Act for regulating the drink traffic which this House could pass, and that under it we now have the best of men selling the best of drink. I have stated already that both sides co-operated to secure its passing, and that everyone worked hard for it, and we must, therefore, agree that it was the best Act which the House could conceive, and that it was made as perfect as possible. Yet notwithstanding all this, the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes down to the House, and not only asserts but proves by indisputable figures that there is more drinking now going on than there ever was before. The Bill of last Session, however, did not venture to touch Scotland, and my hon. Friend below me (Sir Robert Anstruther), although he did much to make the English Bill a good one, did not venture to bring forward a Bill of his own again this year. So that now Scotland, which requires a Bill quite as much as England, is left out in the cold altogether, although the people of that country cry out for legislation quite as loudly as do the people of England. Now in this Bill I do not wish to interfere in any degree with the Bills of any other hon. Gentleman wishing to deal with the licensing question. Mine is not a licensing Bill. I do not believe in licensing. This licensing system has been dealt with by the House for 100 years. ["No!"] Well, some hon. Gentlemen do not seem to agree with that statement, and challenge the assertion—I will say then for generations. For generations the House has been endeavouring to make a perfect licensing system, and the result seems as far off as ever, and is unsatisfactory to everyone concerned. But there are certain parts of the country where the inhabitants are quite satisfied with the state of things existing therein. I do not say this on my own authority, but will quote from a recent article in The Edinburgh Review. The writer of this article states that— We have seen a list of 89 estates in England and Scotland where the drink traffic has been altogether suppressed, with the very happiest social results. Within the province of Canterbury, as we learn by the Convocation Report on Intemperance, there are no less than 1,492 parishes, townships, or hamlets, where there is neither public-house, nor beershop, and where, in consequence, the intelligence, morality, and comfort of the people are all that could be desired. There are some of these districts also in Ireland. There the people are sober, comfortable, and well behaved. Now all I ask in introducing this Bill to the House of Commons is that in those places where public opinion is ripe for the change, that where the inhabitants by a large majority wish it, they may be enabled to put themselves in the same happy position with respect to order, decorum, good conduct, and comparative absence from crime as the districts which I have mentioned. If at the expiration of three years it is found that pauperism, crime, and destitution has been diminished, then, perhaps, they will continue the prohibition; but if, on the contrary, it is found that crime, pauperism, incurable disease, and insanity has increased from the want of places where intoxicating liquors are sold, and that the people of the district evince a burning desire to get them back again, then it is within the power of the ratepayers, by a bare majority, to return to the old and happy state of things again. All we ask is that districts may have an opportunity of trying prohibition if they be so minded. I am not going to enter into details touching the clauses of this Bill now that I am moving the second reading, but I may say that the clauses are similar to those of other Acts of a permissive character already in force. It is similar to the Bill which I introduced last Session, and the principal clauses have been taken from other permissive Acts. It is possible that they are not the best that can be framed, but I am not absolutely attached to the form in which they are drawn, and with regard to the proposed mode of taking the votes and other matters of machinery and detail, it may require improvement; but on all these points I shall be happy to accept from hon. Members any suggestion which may make it more efficient. The main principle of the measure is that if licences are to be granted at all they should be granted for the good of the public, and not for the advantage of the individual. There are some hon. Gentlemen who do not hesitate to assert that if the Bill was passed it would nowhere come into operation. That is the opinion of the hon. Gentleman who again moves its rejection. He said last Session that if this Bill was ever passed it would be impossible to carry it into operation in any part of the country, and that also is the opinion of the noble Lord who has just taken his seat for Bath (Viscount Chelsea), who, in one of his recent speeches, says that this Bill would be almost entirely inoperative. Now, if these are the opinions of the opponents of the measure, how does it come to pass that they are moving heaven and earth to reject it? It seems to me that they really think the Bill will be inoperative, and that it will be impossible to give effect to its provisions; that they might save themselves a great deal of trouble by voting for it, and by so doing get rid of a troublesome question in this House altogether. Others assert that the Bill, if passed, would be brought into operation everywhere. If that be so, it proves how enormous is the injustice and evil at present inflicted throughout the country. But what seems now probable is that the Act would be brought into force in certain places. When public opinion was in favour of order rather than drunkenness, prosperity instead of debauchery, and respectability in place of revelry, then the plan would be tried. This is my own belief, and this is the belief of the licensed victuallers also. They know well enough that it would possibly be adopted in many places; and therefore it is that they so steadily oppose the Bill. Hon. Members know as well as I do that the great drink interest would gladly accept all the licensing and regulation Bills which have ever been suggested in this House, if they could only by so doing get rid once and for ever of this Permissive Bill. But I am sometimes told that I should deal with the question in an Imperial way, and that the principle of this Bill is defective. All I have done is to adopt and advocate a principle which is in force in the country. Licensing of public-houses is permissive now. The justices of the peace can prevent the opening of public-houses within their district. What I want is that not only the magistrates but that the ratepayers of a district shall have an influence in this matter. If a man wants a licence let him put out his notice as he does now, and take the other preliminary steps which he is required to take under the existing regulations, but let him also be able to show that there is not any overwhelming expression of public opinion against the granting of licences in his district. If there be no such expression of opinion then the magistrates exercise their discretion as usual; but if there be such an expression it is to be conclusive, and the magistrates are not to be allowed to defy the public opinion of the district by granting licences which the people considered injurious to the public welfare. Permissive Acts are now in force with regard to education, schools, baths, workhouses, recreation-grounds, and many other things. It seems strange when localities are thus allowed to tax themselves, and to take the necessary steps for the purpose of attacking dirt, disease, and ignorance, that they should be allowed no power to attack drunkenness, which is the prolific mother of all these evils. I cannot understand why there should be a hard-and-fast line in favour of public-houses, and why the inhabitants of a locality should not have a voice as to whether drink shops should be established in their midst or not. My Bill—when it shall pass—will not create fresh penalties, except in the case of fraudulent voting. There is no penalty inflicted for drunkenness. I do not believe in penalties; and I think that a drunkard inflicts a penalty upon himself quite as great as your artificial penalties. Now, the Home Secretary cannot say—as he has said once before in discussing this matter—that I am throwing any obstacle in the way of legislation. If he has any more legislation on the stocks, let him come out like a man and declare it. I do not ask him for the details of any coming measure, but he is bound to tell me the principle upon which the Government are going to act in the matter. Are the Government going to back up the excellent law which they passed last year by another measure? I do not think they will. Are they going to in- crease the severity of the existing law? I do not think they will do that, because what will the publicans say to it? Are they going to leave the law as it is? If they are, the Home Secretary cannot say that, in introducing this Bill I am throwing any obstacle in the way of legislation. Public opinion is advancing so rapidly in the direction which my Bill takes, that by this time I am almost beginning to think I am a retrograde myself. A great number of Petitions have been presented to the House from several parts of the country from a body calling themselves Good Templars, praying Parliament to stop the importation and manufacture of drink in all parts of the kingdom altogether. I have told the House before that I am making the most moderate demands on the part of the people; and that if they do not listen to me now, a worse evil will befall them. The demand made by the Good Templars may appear absurd to some hon. Members; but I wish to remind them that a law similar to it has previously been in operation in this country. Smollett, speaking in 1794 of the prohibition which then prevailed, says that the salutary effect of it was visible in every part of the country, and that no evil resulted from it except a diminution of the revenue. In 1796, two years later, the same measure was adopted, and Hume adds his testimony as to the benefits which accrued from it; so that when hon. Gentlemen laugh at the demand made by the Good Templars, they will have to advance some good arguments before they can satisfy anyone that it is absurd. Ridicule has been cast upon the measure which I have ventured to introduce by calling it simply a teetotalers' measure. That argument was disposed of last year, when the junior Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) got up to oppose this Bill. He was a staunch teetotaler, which the senior Member for the same constituency (Mr. M. T. Bass) is not; therefore this is not a teetotaler's question. The fact is, that it is a citizen's question; and there are plenty of men who are willing to sacrifice some little of their own convenience for the sake of doing a great good to the public. Those who support the measure are the people who see the evils of drunkenness, and believe that drink shops are a great cause of them; and they do not support the measure from any desire to force upon their fellow-creatures anything which will be repulsive to them. Who, then, oppose it? It is opposed by fanatics. ["Oh!"] It is opposed by those people who, having made the system of licensing as perfect as they can, say that, come what may, they will still have a law to enable persons to sell drink, whether the people want it or not. I call that fanaticism. Then the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Wheelhouse) said last year that there were no gentlemen who had signed the Petitions in favour of this Bill. I am sure that if he and I were asked to define what a gentleman is we should agree in our definition. I regard a gentleman as one who respects the feelings and rights of others. What he meant was that none of the "swells" supported the present movement, and in that he is pretty nearly right. Well, I never, I am sure, attempted to delude this House into the belief that my Bill is in great favour with the upper and upper-middle classes. The licensed victuallers oppose it with great vigour. Let us now see what we are coming to in political life. One of the leading organs of the drink party stated a week or two ago that Any Member of Parliament who professed sympathy with the un-English and despotic Bill proposed by Sir Wilfrid Lawson will now become a marked man, so far as our trade is concerned. Let us not be misunderstood. We have no political platform. We simply ask that a certain body of traders should possess the same privileges as their fellow-men, and to procure this we are prepared to vote, irrespective of religious or political views. But that is not all. The hon. Members for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) and York (Mr. J. Lowther) attended a meeting of licensed victuallers at York in December last, and on that occasion the hon. Gentleman who is about to lead the opposition against my Bill (Mr. Wheelhouse) advised his hearers To sink politics, and as sensible men to look to their own interests. He did not mean to say that the licensed victuallers of England were so powerful that they could at any time turn the scales; but still they had an influence, and he recommended them to organize, and tell the Government that a certain state of things they would not have, and a certain state of things they would have. Therefore it seems that on the one side in this movement are arrayed those who wish to get rid of disorder, riot, and crime; and on the other side stand the grand army of licensed victuallers, reinforced by the gentlemen, and led by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I am very far from saying that the United Kingdom Alliance is so powerful as to be able at present to cope with this combination; but I believe there is daily growing up in this country a feeling in favour of sobriety, and that there are numbers, especially among the working people, who will rally to the support of those gentlemen who, undeterred by threatened coalition, will oppose this great evil. I want to know why my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce) is going to oppose this Bill—I assume that he will do so, as he looks very like it. I do not think he will oppose it out of regard for the publicans, because, however much he might hope to conciliate their wounded feelings, the time for that is gone by for ever. He has committed a great and unpardonable offence against them by lifting his hands against the sacred drink traffic; and however long he may remain in office he will never, never be forgiven. He is spoken of with the greatest possible disrespect in the licensed victuallers' papers; and I have heard it said that there is a publican in the provinces who has erased the figure "eleven" from his clocks, and substituted the word "Bruce," and is in the habit of saying to his customers, when the hands of the clock reach that ominous word, "Now then, gentlemen, drink up—it has struck Bruce." So that the poor tipplers are turned out into the cold world with their hearts full of bitterness and animosity against the right hon. Gentleman. At a great meeting of the Licensed Victuallers' National Defence League, held the day before yesterday, a gentleman named Pascoe tendered this advice to his hearers— On the day of election go early to the poll, taking your friends with you; and before going let these words be engraven in your hearts—'Bruce's Confiscation Bill and Lawson's Permissive Bill.' But there is a document emanating from the same League which also is interesting, for this is the way in which it addresses the House— We ask that this time, so far as your vote is concerned, the Bill shall receive its quietus. We are apprehensive, however, that after giving it its annual airing, its promoters will renew the tactics of last year, and shuffle out of a division by talking the Bill out. The assertion as to talking the Bill out, I may remark, is incorrect, for it was quite by accident that no division took place upon the second reading. A friend of the Bill moved the Adjournment of the Debate, but proposed to withdraw his Motion directly he found that the supporters of the Bill desired a division. This he was not allowed to do by certain Gentlemen on this side of the House who—I suppose being unable to make up their minds on the merits of the question—insisted on dividing the House on the adjournment, and thus prevented a division on the Main Question. But however that might be, I promise to do all I possibly can to secure a division to-day. Then the circular goes on to say— We have noticed with regret, on every occasion, that a great number of hon. Members absent themselves from the division. We trust that may not occur this time. On behalf of the great interest"—mark that, not the interest of the public—"we have been appointed to represent, we ask that, so far as practicable, every Member may record his vote either for or against the Bill. The trade is too seriously interested to be indifferent, and in the prospect of a General Election all we want is to know who are our friends and who our foes? 'He who is not for us is against us.' Then on the other side are these words— Three things we respectfully ask for—first, press for a division; second, not to delay it by too much speaking; and third, vote one way or other. I agree in all these recommendations and I only hope that hon. Members will vote one way or the other. Now, Sir, I wish the House to note that of late there has been a series of remarkable indications of the direction in which things are tending, and this direction must be clear to any hon. Member who follows the subject. The working classes are receiving more money now than the working classes of any country have ever before received, and so the consequence is that in many cases less work is done, and time previously spent in work I fear in a great many instances is spent in drunkenness and debauchery. It seems to me that it is not wise to trust altogether to the way in which we are now obtaining our revenue. It seems to me we are trusting for our financial prosperity on the increase of drunkenness in this country, and there is nothing in my opinion so unwise as to sell the morality of the country in order to be able to come down to the House and find that satisfactory balances have been produced. Now, Sir, as I have before said, there is another sign of the times to which I wish to direct attention, and that is—that no body of persons and no man presumed to bring in a Bill to alter the Bill of the Home Secretary which was passed last year, and that is sufficient to show how public opinion is running on this matter. We have heard a great deal outside of this House as to the alleged hardships of that Bill, but, mark this—nobody has dared to bring in a Bill to upset it yet, notwithstanding all the loud talk we have heard about it out-of-doors. We must assume, therefore, that we shall go on under the Bill of my right hon. Friend. Now, it seems to me that this question will before very long have to be fought out, as the licensed victuallers said, at the polling-booth. I venture to say, with all respect, that both the great parties of this House seem to be at this moment somewhat in want of a policy. As the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) said the other night, we shall have to go to the country soon, and we must go upon something. I am not attacking anybody for this state of things or for there being no policy, because I think it is highly creditable to this side of the House. The Government have in fact done so many things that they do not know what to do next, and are sighing for new worlds to conquer. And, Sir, as to the Opposition, their great duty is to oppose everything the Government propose, and if the Government do not know what to propose, the Opposition cannot know what to oppose. Now, there has been a great deal of talk about the poor man in the debates which have recently taken place in this House, and there seems to be a rivalry on both sides of the House to decide who are really the friends of the poor man. The poor man is now the powerful man; he has got political power into his own hands, although he does not exactly know how to use it, but he is, depend upon it, feeling his way. I quite concur with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the remark he made that the poor man is no idiot—and he is certainly far from a saint. The poor man, however, is improving his character, and he is learning politics for his own good. And you may rely upon this—that no Minister, be he ever so eloquent, can long persuade him that it is for his benefit that 150,000 drinkshops should be set down throughout the country raising £28,000,000 of money to the Exchequer annually, and this taken principally out of the pockets of the poor man. What really do hon. Members mean in reference to this matter? Sometimes when it suits you you say these drinks are necessaries for the poor man and not luxuries. Well, if that be so, can there possibly be anything worse, or can there possibly be anything more cruel than to levy a tax upon them and get money from them at the rate of 200 or 300 per cent. On the other hand, if you say that the tax is put on for moral purposes, then you admit my whole case, and the evil ought to be swept away. You admit that the use of these drinks is an evil that you are trying to stop, but you have not done it effectually, and you ought to do so. This measure which is now before the House has enlisted a very large amount of support from the poor man you are talking of; it has enlisted a large amount of support from the working people of this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Privy Council declared in this House years ago that in the North of England, you could not call a meeting on any subject and put the question to those present but what you would find a majority in favour of this Bill. 1,400,000 petitioners have petitioned in favour of it, and last year I had in the lobby with me nearly two to one of the Irish, Scotch, and Welsh Members. It is England that stops the way and will not let the people of the United Kingdom have this great boon. I appeal to English Members that this may be so no longer. Sir, this Bill is supported by great numbers out-of-doors, because they believe it can never come into operation unless backed by a strong public opinion; because they believe that it is promoted in the interest of the people themselves and not in the interest of one great vested interest. They believe further that it is an honest attempt to check a great and growing evil in this country, which if not at once seriously and vigorously dealt with must inevitably lower us in the estimation of the other nations of the world. I fully endorse that opinion, and therefore respectfully beg this House to take into consideration the Bill of which I now venture to move the second reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)


in moving an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time this day six months, said: I never, Sir, expected that the hon. Baronet who has just sat down (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would agree on any one point in relation to the Permissive Bill with any body of people such as the licensed victuallers; but I am glad to find that the hon. Baronet did agree with the three propositions to which he has alluded. I sincerely trust, like himself, that we shall divide to-day on this Bill, every man of us, and that there will be no mistake whatever as to who is on the one side and who on the other. If by not saying a single word against the Bill I could secure its rejection, I should be delighted; and I would have adopted that course all the more readily and freely, because I am one of those who think that everything that can be said in support of the measure has been said over and over again to the fullest extent, and there was no need therefore of prolonging the discussion with what in the end will prove to have been merely useless talk. I am, however, anxious at the outset to put myself right—not with the House, nor with the country, because I know quite: well, so far as the House and the country are concerned, what position I hold—but with the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, and with others by whom I have apparently been misunderstood. When the hon. Baronet undertakes to convey to the House something which he says I have stated, I would rather, if he will permit me to say so—that he should quote what I did say, and not his impression of what I said. What I stated was this—not that I did not think this Act would come into operation in any parish in the kingdom, but that if it did come into operation it could not be carried out. That was a very different thing and conveys a very different meaning from what the hon. Baronet has represented me to have said. Now, what does the hon. Baronet wish to accomplish by this measure? Do hon. Gentlemen know that the Bill actually endeavours to put a stop, by the strongest possible hand in the world, not only to the manufacture of intoxicating drink, but to all sale and provision of such liquor. It not only applies to public-houses but it applies also to every brewery and distillery in the country; and the hon. Baronet makes his position very plain when he says he does not like licensing at all. The hon. Baronet desires that not a particle of liquor shall be sold, and that its manufacture shall practically cease throughout England. When hon. Members are talking about the Permissive Bill, either in the House or in the country, they would do well to put before the public in so many words the language of the clauses of the Bill, so that men may understand what they are doing, and what they are supporting. The public are told it is intended that certain localities shall have the management of public-houses in their own hands; but let them have the Bill, let them read and explain the language of the Bill, and then ask them what they think of it. If the hon. Baronet, and those who work with him, would take take this course with the clauses of the Bill, they would not stand in the position they now occupy for a single minute. But, Sir, in what manner can you define a locality, or how are so-called localities to have the power which it is said this Bill will confer upon them? The plain fact is this—they might get the Bill carried into operation by a meeting, it may be, of some 10 or 20 people in a room which shall actually have conformed to the requirements necessary under the new statute; and these 10, 20, or 30 people, as the case may be, might for three years bind a whole parish if it had a population of 30,000. And that is what they call letting a locality deal with the question of licences. Why, good gracious!—does nobody know that everything of this kind is done by the United Kingdom Alliance—by the people who have their own meetings, and know how to carry out their own interests—and does anybody suppose that these meetings would not be so managed as to bring about the result to which I have alluded? But is such a state of things desirable, or would it be tolerated? What would the hon. Baronet and those who support him say if anyone should attempt to interfere with those domestic institutions they themselves valued and enjoyed? Suppose it is said that the hon. Baronet himself or his supporters shall not have certain clothes to wear or certain food to eat—what would the hon. Baronet say to that? He would at once say that that was not common justice. But, because it suits these so-called free-traders to say they have a right to tell me what I shall eat, what I shall drink, and how I am to be clothed, they imagine that they know better than I do what is best for me. Though I fancy. I can judge for myself, these gentlemen desire to take the management of my domestic affairs out of my own hands. Again, we have been told that the hon. Member for Carlisle only desires to adopt, as he calls it, the principles of the present law. I believe, and am happy to think, that the hon. Baronet is not a practising lawyer, at any rate, or he would know that when he speaks of the principles of his Bill and his anxiety that it should be carried out in accordance with the common law of this country—or when he speaks of it as having anything in unison with the common law of the country—he is talking of a matter about which, as a layman, he understands no more than a child of three years old. Now, Sir, when the hon. Baronet read the statement which he made just now from some document, which he said emanated from the licensed victuallers, I was rather expecting that there would be some unusually strong denunciations against certain persons; but the language is quite temperate, and only at the same time a fair expression that they should have their rights and interests duly preserved, and that they should actually know who were the parties who supported them or otherwise. What I hope is that in the coming Election that party candidates will be obliged to say aye or nay to this question. That is what I should like men to have to do. I do not desire to find any man shirking from any duty which he has undertaken, but it is far better if he shirks at all, to do so before he comes into this House than afterwards. It is very desirable, indeed, that this matter should be fully understood, so that no one hereafter can complain of being kept in the dark. We are told again to-day that drink is forced upon unwilling communities. Where? When? Or how? Is it not true that any and every man in England, if he but exercises his own strength of will, can carry out the main principles of the Permissive Bill in his own case, and not seldom in that of his own family also? But what is this that the hon. Baronet desires us to do but to force his Bill on unwilling communities? If this measure were passed it must be forced upon unwilling people, and it could only be carried out by the strongest possible power, for nearly the whole of the country would rebel against its being carried out. What would be the probable result if this Bill became law? Why, Sir, I venture to predict, if it were carried, the result would be that from end to end of England dissatisfaction and disquiet, and every possible annoyance would prevail until it was repealed. Now, Sir, the hon. Baronet has put it to us that his is a retrograde measure, and that he only came a very short way upon the line upon which other people were proceeding. I wish, Sir, the hon. Baronet had retrograded altogether. I do wish most sincerely he could see his way not to take up the whole of an afternoon with a Bill which has not the slightest chance of passing. He is taking up a part of that valuable time—small enough already—which private Members have for dealing with important questions. But, Sir, there is another matter to which he referred and which I must notice. He told us there were a class of persons called Good Templars—though to what Temple belonging, or why they passed by such a cognomen, I am at a loss to know—who desire to do away altogether with the manufacture, sale, and distribution of intoxicating drinks. Men may certainly call themselves by any name they like; but when we hear of persons of whom it is stated that their desire is to do away with both the sale and manufacture of intoxicating drinks, and then in the same breath we are told that this Bill is only opposed by fanatics, it is not we who are fanatics; but fanaticism may be possibly assigned to some of the hon. Member for Carlisle's supporters, or those whom he seems to consider are the supporters of this peculiar measure. When we hear that people who oppose the Bill are called fanatics, it seems to me that it is a mistaken idea, and if there be any fanaticism at all we at any rate are not the persons who should come under that denomination. Then we are told that the poor man is neither a saint nor an idiot. Well, so far as this Bill is concerned, there is no more harm in him than in a rich man. He possesses common sense, and his rights should be respected, and he should have liberty to buy whatever he desires to purchase. I say this is a poor man's question, and that care should be taken to protect his interests. Once more, Sir, let me now impress upon the House the necessity of dealing with the Bill as it stands word for word. Let any hon. Member who will vote either for or against the measure, carefully read its language, and study it section by section. If hon. Gentlemen will only do so, I do not hesitate to say, as it was said by another person many years ago—"It will please Providence to diminish the liking on further acquaintance." Sir, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to mil the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Wheelhouse.)


said, he had listened with great interest to the able and interesting speech of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and was quite prepared to admit that the evil which he sought to remedy was one of great magnitude; but he could not at all agree in the means which he proposed to meet it. As a Chairman of Quarter Sessions in his own county, and visiting justice of the gaol of that county, he had the best possible opportunities for knowing how great was the amount of crime which was due to drunkenness; and from his experience on Boards of Guardians, both in London and in the country he also fully admitted that a great part of the pauperism of the country was caused by the prevalence of that vice. Nor did he deny that this was not a question of morality only—it was also a breeches-pocket question, because there could be no doubt that the burdens of the community would be infinitely lessened if drunkenness could be diminished. But then came the question how the evil was to be met. His own opinion was that if the law as it now existed was properly carried into effect much would have been done to accomplish the object which the hon. Baronet sought to attain. The subject did not now come before the world for the first time—if they would look back into the history of the world they would find that the question was a very old one. Ever since the days of Noah there had been drunkards, and there had been "abstainers" from the time of the Rechabites. Later, too, in the history of the Jews, there had been sects, he believed, such as the Essenes, who abstained from strong drinks; and in the earlier Christian Church there were bodies of persons who renounced the use of intoxicating liquors. There was, however, great difference between those abstainers and the abstainers of the present day, who proposed to effect their object not by persuasion, but by compulsion. Now, he would warn those who took that view that the English people did not like compulsion, and that the more it was attempted to drive them, the more obstinate were they likely to become. What, he should like to know was, the number of municipal boroughs or parishes in England in which on the requisition of two-thirds of the ratepayers the Bill could be brought into operation? Did the hon. Baronet suppose that any municipal borough in the metropolis would agree to a requisition to that effect? The teetotal movement was, he believed, rather powerful in the North; but what would be the result of the operation of the Bill even there, should two-thirds of the friends of the hon. Baronet be found ready to adopt its provisions? Why, in all probability that the attempt to put it into force would result in something little short of a revolution. No words would be strong enough, he believed, to describe the irritation which such a measure would create throughout the country. Indeed, he very much doubted whether the hon. Baronet had ever seriously contemplated what would be the result of the passing of his own Bill. Did he know that it would have the effect of shutting up every refreshment house in the district in which it was adopted, so that a traveller would not be able to get a glass of beer with his bread and cheese? But this was not all—because, as he would remind the House, the hon. Baronet and his friends were but the vanguard of an army advancing behind him. He had recently received a letter from one of his constituents who was a member of a Lodge of Good Templars, asking him to present a Petition from that Society, praying that the House would take steps for the total suppression of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drinks except when used as beverages—which, he supposed, meant that they might be used as medicine—so that anyone who wanted a glass of gin or sherry could have it if he pleased at a chemist's shop; the only result of which state of things would be that intoxicating drinks might be had in an unlicensed instead of a licensed house, as at present; and as a near approach to this consummation he was requested by the writer to support the Bill of the hon. Baronet. It was clear, therefore, that if they passed this Bill this year, next year they would be asked to pass a Good Templars' Bill. He wished in the next place to point out that the duty of carrying out the provisions of the Licensing Act of last year rested with the Executive Government; and that if that had not been done the failure of the Act would he with them. If the magistrates carried out the powers with which the Legislature had invested them a great deal might be done to improve the present state of things. Even two years ago, before the Licensing Act had passed, the magistrates of Luton, in Bedfordshire, found that the powers which they then possessed could do much in that direction, and they had accordingly issued the following notice:— Any person who occupies or keeps any lodging-house, beerhouse, public-house, or other place in which excisable liquors are sold, or place of entertainment or public resort, and knowingly lodges or harbours thieves or imputed thieves, or knowingly permits them or suffers them to assemble therein, or allows the deposit of goods therein, having reasonable cause for believing them to be stolen, shall then be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding £10, and the Justice or magistrate before whom he may be brought may require him to enter into his own recognizances, with or without sureties, for keeping the peace and being of good behaviour during 12 months, and any licence for the sale of excisable liquors, or for keeping any place of public resort which has been granted to the occupier or keeper of any such house or place as aforesaid, shall be forfeited on the first conviction of any offence under this Act. The result of that action of the magistrates had been that between 1868 and 1871 the decrease in crime in Luton had been from 365 to less than 200 offences. The magistrates had now still greater power, and a great deal might, therefore, be done without resorting to such legislation as the hon. Baronet proposed to effect his object. In an article in Fraser's Magazine, on "The Drink Traffic," written by Mr. F. W. Newman, it was said— No magistrate in the kingdom—not one of those who force the shops on a reluctant public—sets one up side by side with his own house. Now there could, he maintained, be no more unfounded charge than that paragraph contained, for as a licensing magistrate he could state that he hardly ever remembered any great demonstration being made on the part of the ratepayers against the granting of a licence, and he was sure if there had been such an opposition to it the licence would in all probability have been refused. He might further observe that the general tendency on the part of magistrates now was to grant no new licences except in new neighbourhoods; and the Bill of last year provided that no licence should be granted unless supported by the county Licensing Committee—so that there was a double check as things at present stood. He might add that in the western division of Kent hardly any new licences were granted at the last October Sessions; so that there was no truth in the insinuation that the magistrates were in favour of forcing public-houses on a reluctant people. He was far, however, from taking the non possumus line in the matter. He found that in Sweden, according to the Gothenburg system, it was a legal condition of a public-house licence that food should be procurable on the premises as well as liquor, and he thought that if it was made a provision in this country that there should be no drinking bars allowed where there was not also a supply of eatables procurable, more would be done to improve the sobriety of the people than by all the Permissive Bills in the world. He had the utmost sympathy with the object of the hon. Baronet, but he entirely repudiated the manner in which he proposed to carry out his views. The Bill, in his opinion, would either turn out to be a gigantic sham or would lead to such disturbances and strife in the country as would become absolutely intolerable. The evil of drunkenness was to be diminished, in his opinion, rather by education and other moral influences than by the adoption of an impracticable measure, and he hoped, therefore, the House would refuse to give its assent to the second reading.


When this question was before the House last year, the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) was rather more fortunate than I happened to be in catching the Speaker's eye, and I had not, therefore, an opportunity of announcing to the House the change which had taken place in my views. But the speech of the hon. Gentleman answered every purpose that mine could have done—he completely fished my water, his experience was my experience, his facts my facts, his conversion was my conversion. I regret, however, that I did not then have an opportunity of speaking, because if I had given utterance to my altered opinions I might have escaped those interviews which I have had with some of my constituents during the past year upon this question. The hon. Member for Derby left some facts untold which I will now briefly state to the House, backing them up by some quotations from a recent charge by the Chief Justice of the State of Pennsylvania. The hon. Member last year alluded to the way in which the Maine Liquor Law was observed in Maine itself, and I will now afford some insight as to the state of things in Boston. In that City I could buy 300 different kinds of beer, wines, and spirits, whilst mineral water was limited to four different kinds. At my hotel a certain number of drink tickets were offered to me to be used as required; and that, too, in a city under the influence of the Maine Liquor Law. I saw whisky sold out of a bottle from behind the tail of a cart—thus showing that whisky is peddled like milk in Boston. The Chief Justice, Reed, referring in a recent charge at Philadelphia to the Maine Liquor Law, said— He believed in moral suasion as the true means of advancing the temperance cause; but he did not believe in the prohibitory law which should reduce them to the condition of Boston. I wish also to point out that in the State of Pennsylvania, within the last few weeks the question of prohibition or no prohibition has been decided, and only this morning a newspaper reached me containing the result of the voting upon the subject. In the year 1854 the majority in the State against prohibition and in favour of licensing was only 5,000. This year the majority against prohibition and in favour of licensing was 17,000; thus showing that in a place where the whole matter is debated with enormous interest there is an advancing opinion in favour of the liberty of licensing. Whilst I was in Philadelphia it occurred to me, one Sunday morning, between the services, to take a long walk away from my hotel. After I had walked three or four miles, wishing to get some luncheon, and seeing what was entitled an ice-cream saloon—the door of which was being constantly opened and shut—I entered, and found that ice-cream meant oysters, corned beef, pumpkin pie, and almost anything in the shape of drinkables one could desire. After the oysters, desiring something to drink, I asked for a glass of lager beer. "Oh!" replied the proprietor, "we never draw lager beer on a Sunday; but you can have a bottle of Philadelphia ale." After partaking of the "ale," I said—"I thought these houses were not open on Sundays!" The reply I received was—"That all depends. Did you find that door open, or did you open it yourself?" "I thought you were in favour of the Maine Liquor Law here," I added. "Yes, sir," was the reply, "we are in favour of the law, but we are agin' its enforcement." I am no lawyer, and do not pretend to understand law; but as I understand the Bill now before the House proposes it empowers a majority in a given district to decide whether licences should be issued or not. I hold that to be making a law; and I contend that it is not constitutional for the people of a district to act in such a manner. The people have the right—through their representatives in this House—to make laws for the government of the whole country, but they have no right to assemble in every locality and decide what shall be the law. This would be a direct violation of the constitution and practice of the country, and this is really the proper way to look at the matter. Supposing, when the proposal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) conies before the House for the abolition of capital punishment, we were to vest the power in the hands of the ratepayers, and say that the punishment of death should be abolished where two-thirds of a locality desired it—that would be giving the ratepayers power to make laws; and it is just as reasonable to give them the power in this case as in the question of licensing, which, if it means anything, means confiscation, and nothing more or less. I have now to ask the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle whether or not absolute prohibition does not underlie his Motion to-day? The hon. Baronet does not give me an answer, and I am, therefore, entitled to say that entire prohibition does underlie the Bill; and the hon. Baronet does not like to say so, I maintain that the most active agitators—those who very intelligently and industriously and profitably go about the country distributing their books—have asserted in so many words that total prohibition is what they wish to see. I would much rather that it should be so, because it is infinitely more honest and straightforward to assert what you are going to do—that which lies at the bottom of your movement—than to promote a measure under false colours which is so unequal and unjust, that it will deprive a poor man of the opportunity of getting what he believes he really wants, or what he requires as a luxury, or both, while you leave the rich man in the enjoyment of those luxuries. Absolute prohibition would at all events seem to affect all parties alike; but the alternative is so unjust, it is so unequal, and so fatal to the measure itself, that I will not follow that point any further. But I will assume prohibition is intended, and that that will be the ultimate result of this Bill if it is carried. Well, then, I assert that the principle of prohibition has already been tried in this country and that it has failed, and most signally failed. The hon. Member for Kent (Mr. Talbot) said this question was as old as all history. I will go back as far as the year 1736 and read a few lines from Porter's Progress of the Nation, which is a very valuable book and a good reference on matters of this kind. The Bill of the period I allude to was aimed distinctly at the drunkenness of the poorer classes. In that Act it set forth as a reason for its introduction that the consumption of spirituous liquors among people of inferior rank had greatly increased. That Act was passed, and in less than two years from its passing the offences against the law increased so largely that no less than 12,000 people were convicted for different offences under it, and £600,000 was levied in the shape of fines within the bills of mortality alone. The Act, which was intended to diminish drunkenness, and which really was prohibitory, imposed a sum of 20s. a gallon on all spirits, and £50 upon every person who retailed them. I am sure, Sir, the House will agree with me that such a duty as this was in reality prohibitory when the relative value of money is considered. But did it do so? Did it diminish drunkenness? Did it diminish the consumption of liquors? Again I will refer to Mr. Porter's work. He says the evidence that was given before the Committee in 1743 showed that the quantity of spirituous liquors in 1736, the year the Act was passed—10,500,000 gallons—rose to 19,000,000 gallons. That was the result of the Prohibitory Act. Again, that Act had a clause analogous with the present Bill, to prevent the poorer classes from obtaining drink, and whilst it prohibited brewers and distillers from supplying public-houses, it enabled all rich persons who could brew and distil for themselves to make as much drink as they liked for themselves. Now what happened was this, that universal dissatisfaction was expressed, and in the year 1743 it was found necessary to repeal the Act. And why? I will refer you to a speech made in that year by a noble Lord (Lord Cholmondeley) who expressed the discontent with which the Act had been received out of doors, and remarked that the Act had been allowed to pass without any strong opposition, the fact was that no man would observe the law, and that such a turn had been given to the spirit of the people by the Act that no one would be found to lay an information. The result was that rioting took place, the troops were ordered out, and thus bloodshed was avoided. Another noble Lord (Lord Carteret) spoke strongly in opposition to the Act, and said it would be impossible to execute the law except by military force, and that he would never consent to that. No more will I; no more will the House of Commons; no more, I believe, will the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. That is not to be the manner in which this Act is to be enforced; and yet I have great fears, although an advocate of temperance, that it will be impossible to enforce this law upon the country without riot, rows, and possibly bloodshed. I maintain that with such a lesson before us the House is bound to pause before we give our consent to any Bill which leads, however indirectly, to absolute prohibition. I maintain that it is impossible for the Rouse to pass this Bill without committing a gross violation of the constitutional rights and liberties of the whole of the people, and we are bound to pause before passing it, because we cannot conceal from ourselves or shut our eyes to the fact that what is called a ratepayers' question is in point of fact the people's question wholly and entirely. It is not enough that the ratepayers should be consulted in this matter, but we must consult every man, woman, and child throughout the country; it must be a plebiscite. Everyone believes more or less that he or she requires some kind of stimulating drink. Therefore if you consult any class you must consult the whole of the population, and do not let people go about and say this is a ratepayers' question, and leave it simply to that class, for that is what this Bill proposes to do. I have no great desire to stand up for Bishops in the abstract—and it certainly is not necessary for me to stand up for such a concrete specimen as the Bishop of Peterborough. That right rev. Prelate has, however, been very much abused for having given vent to an expression that he preferred to see England free to England sober. I much fear that the right rev. Prelate fell a victim to the love of antithesis. Though his Lordship put it in that form, what he meant was, that England compulsorily sober by Act of Parliament was not England free. I shall be asked how can you, who have so long set yourself forward as an advocate of temperance, who have so long set yourself against the vice of intemperance, and who have laboured to mitigate some of the evils of excessive drunkenness, come forward and give vent to such sentiments as these. I know what is in store for me. There is a celebrated historical character—Regulus—who got into great trouble with his people. He was put into a tub, not filled with liquor, but with something more tormenting; but even he must have had a quieter time of it than those who year after year are called upon by the contending parties to give a vote upon this measure. In 1869 I voted for the measure, with the view of sending it to a Select Committee, and I cannot help thinking, at the end of five years' agitation, that that would have been the best course to adopt, because I believe that a great deal of the misty envelope in which it is shrouded would have been swept away, and daylight would have been thrown upon the subject. I am about to give a vote exactly opposite to that which I gave in 1869. It is because I am an advocate of temperance—because I am a hearty worker in the cause of temperance—that I intend to reverse my vote, and give on this occasion a perfectly well-considered, matured, and conscientious vote for the rejection of this Bill.


I have been much struck by two remarks which have been made by hon. Members in the course of this debate. One remark fell from the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. D. Dalrymple) who spoke of the riots which would ensue were any attempt made to enforce the Permissive Bill in the country. The other expression was one which fell from the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) who, using an euphemism, described the drunken habits of the country as "domestic habits." Now that expression reminds me very much of another institution—the institution of slavery—which the House will remember was also spoken of as being "a domestic institution." I think it is disgraceful that we in England should be able to speak of the drunken habits of the people as domestic habits, the same as in past times it was a disgraceful thing to speak of the institution of slavery as "a domestic institution." Now, with regard to the riots which it is said may be expected to arise from the enforcement of the Permissive Bill, I beg leave to call the attention of the House to the fact that already a state of things exists which causes riot and disorder. Two days ago I happened to enter a police court in one of our large north country towns, and in one division of that court, on that one morning, 194 men, women, and children were brought up for having been guilty of riot and drunkenness, and this was exclusive of cases in which riot culminated in actual violence, and also exclusive of cases of simple drunkenness. I do not believe—I do not know whether the hon. Baronet believes—and I do not suppose any other hon. Member of this House believes—at any rate, very few entertain the opinion—that the Permissive Bill will ever become the law of this country; but I think we are much indebted to the hon. Baronet for bringing it forward year after year, if for no other reason than as a protest against the pernicious habits which prevail in this country. I regret very much that we have no power enabling us to diminish the number of public-houses. I think this is a matter which must be dealt with sooner or later. It is for this reason, though I cannot support his Bill that I hope the hon. Baronet will bring it in time after time until some plan is found and accepted for giving to the ratepayers some control over the number of licensed houses that are to be allowed to exist. There is, however, one reason why I cannot vote against this Bill, and that is the course pursued by the Licensed Victuallers Association, which would actually stop our mouths and not allow us to speak our minds freely, lest by doing so we might prevent a division and prevent them from labelling us for their convenience at the next election. The political opinion of this country should rest on higher grounds than the support of a monopoly of licensed victuallers. These gentlemen boast that they are powerful and united. I have no doubt they well know where to get the best legal opinions. They have taken advice and know how far to go without trenching on the privilege of the House. Yet I doubt very much whether they have not gone rather too far when they tell us to vote at once on this Bill and not make speeches on the subject. They say—"Do not let there be any delay, but force a division, that we may know who have voted one way or the other." Well, Sir, I think, these gentlemen should be taught that they are not to dictate to us or to toll how long we are to speak. I do not so much blame the supporters of the hon. Baronet for any pressure they may have used, for we must remember that there is this distinction between them and the representatives of the licensed victuallers, that what these persons have done has been done in the public interest, whereas what the publicans are doing is in the interest of their own pockets. They are trying by combination to exclude all from Parliament who are not on their side, but I think they have drawn the cord too tight, and will defeat their own ends.


while complimenting the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) upon the able, temperate, and amusing speech he had made in introducing the subject, said, he agreed with the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson) that they all deprecated the question being made the foundation of political strife. The hon. Gentleman, however, should remember that those whom he blamed were only following the course which had been followed by the supporters of the Bill. The policy of those who fancied themselves the advocates, and only advocates of temperance, had been from the beginning one of aggression, and they announced that they were ready to expend large sums to oppose the re-election of those hon. Members who opposed the Bill. Under these circumstances, he thought some little excuse must be made, for those who adopted the same policy in opposition, though, perhaps, impolitic on their part. They had heard from the senior Member for Bath (Mr. Dalrymple) that his experience in America of the Maine Liquor Law merely pointed to the fact, that in a country where the prohibitory law had been tried for some time, there, in the strongest possible way, that law was set at nought, and the result of it was that they had drinking combined with falsehood and hypocrisy. The hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) laid immense stress upon the enormous increase in the consumption of liquor throughout the country; but he had forgotten to tell the House that during the last year, perhaps more than in any other period of our history, the prosperity of the country and the general increase of wages had contributed almost entirely to the result pointed out. That was a very important fact to be taken into consideration on the present occasion. The hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) further complained that prosecutions for adulteration under the Act of last year had not taken place; but might it not be, in charity, believed that the cry about adulteration had been a very exaggerated one? The hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) also said, that this was a citizen's question, and that the "swells" combined with the publicans were opposed to the movement; but the fact was, that many gentlemen believed that there were many things in our law which required a remedy, and were prepared to vote for anything reasonable in this direction. He designated the opponents of the Bill as fanatics; but fanatics existed in all classes, and even the temperance people were not altogether free from fanaticism. The Bill provided that two-thirds of the ratepayers of any district should legislate for the other third, without their having a vote in the matter at all. If the measure were carried, we should thus be placed in a perpetual system of disturbance and riot, in consequence of the energetic action which would be taken first by one side and then by the other upon this question, either to shut up public-houses or to re-open them after they had been closed. It would, besides, have the effect of placing the trade in a state of such jeopardy, that no one would risk any amount of capital in it for the future, and it would fall into the hands of a far less respectable class of men, who, reckless of the consequences, would not much care how they carried on their business, and would give none of those guarantees for order which the investment of a large capital afforded. He wished also to point out that the Bill would affect for the most part those places where it was least needed—those places in which the majority of the inhabitants were in its favour—and that its tendency would be, while prohibiting the sale of liquors in the best localities, to cause an influx from them of those who desired to indulge in intoxicating liquors into the neighbouring districts. Therefore, he believed the measure of the hon. Baronet would rather tend to exaggerate than to improve the state of things of which complaint had been made. He did not wish to avoid a division, and, therefore, would not detain the House; but he trusted that the House, by its vote that day, would say that they would not have that Bill constantly before them. He hoped that that year, hon. Members would not vote for this measure upon the ground that they thought no harm would be done in that way, because the measure was one that could not pass; and in his opinion, such a Bill should not be brought forward by a private Member, when it was hardly likely that such an alteration could be effected at the instance of a private Member.


I am anxious to say a few words, because hitherto I have abstained from taking any part in these discussions, or voting on the Bill—not, Sir, because in the words of my hon. Friend opposite (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), I was anxious to shirk responsibility, but because I thought it right, after the promise of Her Majesty's Government to revise the whole licensing system, to give them the opportunity of doing so before taking any part in this question. Now, Sir, Her Majesty's Government last Session brought in a Bill which effected a total revision of the licensing laws; and, Sir, I was in hopes that a fair trial at least would have been given to that revision, and that my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle would have abstained—at least for a time—from any further agitation on this subject until we had learned something more definite by experience as to the working of that Act. But I have been undeceived upon this point. In common with the other hon. Members, I have been saturated with literature; and this morning, if I had any deception practised upon me in thinking there would be an absence from agitation by the part the Government have taken on the subject, it has been utterly removed. I have received, among numerous other lithographed letters, one headed "The Permissive Bill," in which it says— This Bill applies alike to England, Scotland, and Ireland, is promoted not as the rival of any licensing measure which may be submitted to the House, but as an indispensable supplement without which no licensing scheme whatever will satisfy the demands of the people of this country. This, Sir, is signed by—the only name I can make out seems to have been written not under the influence of tea at any rate—"Wilfrid Lawson." There is no doubt, whatever may be the course taken by the Government, of whatever party in this House, that nothing will satisfy this respectable body of men but the Permissive Bill, totally prohibiting the sale of all spirituous liquors. What, then, is a man to do under such circumstances as these? The Bill, I think, leaves no option to one who is favourable to freedom; and not freedom to the licensed victuallers alone, for this is not merely a licensed victuallers' question, no more than it is a teetotaler's question, but it is the question of the liberty of the people of this country, against which this Bill, I take upon myself to say, strikes a fatal blow. I will not yield to my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, whose single-heartedness of purpose I am the first to do justice to—I will not yield to him in the wish to see eradicated the propensity for drink which unfortunately manifests itself in this country—and not merely among the lower but among other classes as well; but I believe that the clauses put forward in this Permissive Bill are not only insufficient for their purpose, but that they are likely to create a secret demand for drink. I look upon it, not only as likely to bring about this result, but as an act of spoliation upon a most respectable body of men who have been invited by the express acts of this House to invest their capital in a trade; and it involves a great blow and an infraction of the liberty of a great body of the people. My hon. Friend's first provision is so monstrous that I wonder he finds any body of men to support him in the numbers they do; but he has had notice tonight-that many Members mean to take the prudent, if fanatical, course of staying away. One of the most extraordinary speeches delivered to-day has been that of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson) who after attacking the principles of the Bill—after attacking in language, which will be remembered hereafter, the licensed victuallers, who are as respectable a body of men as any other body in the country—said he was going to take up his hat, walk out of the House, and stay away. Is such conduct as that worthy of any Member representing the historic town of Banbury? Now what is the first provision I find in this Bill? It actually has the face to propose that two-thirds of the inhabitants of a district shall have the power to deny any beverage they dislike to the remaining one-third. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: Ratepayers.] Yes; and why should it be confined to them; have not non-ratepayers eyes, ears, and tastes? and why are they to be put entirely at the mercy of the ratepaying population? I am obliged to the hon. Member for correcting me. What would be said if two-thirds of the ratepayers of a district, being Protestants, were to take exception to the Catholics eating fish? There is nothing so ridiculous but what you may get up a body of men to propose it, and real fanatics in liquor and in religion seem to be equal to anything. Suppose the Protestants were to take upon themselves to say that their Catholic fellow-subjects should live on a meat diet in Lent, and should not be allowed to eat fish? Ridiculous as that may seem, it appears to me just as likely as that two-thirds of the population of a district shall say that the remaining one-third shall not be able to drink a glass of beer because it does not agree with them. I might go further in the argument ad absurdum. A great many physicians hold that a favourite beverage called tea is a fruitful cause of nervous disease among the people of this country, and a pamphlet has been published to show that tic doloreux and many other complaints have been promoted by the great use of it. Suppose I were to get up an anti-tea-drinking society, and bring in a Bill to say that on the vote of two-thirds of the inhabitants of a district tea shall not be permitted to be sold, on account of the nervous disorders which result from its use. That really is not a bit more ridiculous than the provisions of this Bill. It has been said by some one that after all, the intemperance of a country depends upon its latitude; and I think it will be proved to be so. The hon. Baronet the Member for Fife (Sir Robert Anstruther) will remember that a few years ago his countrymen the Scotch were in the habit of imbibing strong waters to great excess. If the habit has decreased it is in consequence of the spread of education. After all, the great rival of the public-house is the reading-room, and that is the only means by which you can reach indulgence in intemperate habits. I will give you an idea of the result of this compulsory legislation. Last year we passed a Licensing Act, by which we compelled people—not to go to bed, but to close public-houses at 11 o'clock; and what have we produced? In some of the large manufacturing towns it has given rise to a system of what are called working men's clubs; and what do they do? They may serve liquor and gamble at all hours of the night and day; and on Sunday, when the public-houses are closed, these clubs are in full operation, consuming spirits and beer, This is a very serious consideration. Some of these clubs exist in Sheffield. I do not see the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) in his place—I am told he is going to take the unpatriotic and unphilanthropic course of walking away when the division takes place. I had hoped he would have given us some account of the drinking which goes on in those clubs, which are not under the supervision of the police as public-houses are; and I believe the effect of this restrictive legislation has been that a system of drinking is going on which we do not see, but which exists in greater force than it has ever done before. We hear a great deal of exaggeration about the drunken habits of the people. My firm belief is that there is a great improvement in this respect. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle quoted Smollet, the historian, as to the law of 1794, which prohibited distilling. Does he go so far? Why, if he is so intent upon this, does he not go as far as the Good Templars? The Good Templars are logical in their conclusion—they do not merely say that it is a crime to drink, but they say "Prohibit distillation altogether." Now in that year, 1757, which would be the millennium from the hon. Baronet's point of view, and in the year after, there were more prosecutions for illicit distillation than has commonly been known at any other time in the annals of this country. Drinking will not cease to exist because you cease to see it, and the hon. Member's Bill would, I believe, promote a system of secret drinking in this country, which only exists now to a small extent. When my hon. Friend speaks of the increase of the drinking habits of the country, let him see what is the opinion of the First Minister of the Crown. He said not long ago that— All the evidence before me shows, as far as it goes, that the consumption of spirits, except when wages were high, was not as great as it had been, and that so far drunken habits were perceptibly decreasing. It is the fashion to say that all crime is the result of drinking. I dissent from that altogether. I have taken some pains with this subject, and should like to quote a passage from the Report of the Inspector of Convicts in 1864, which is remarkable as to the increase of crime. He says— Experience goes far to show that it is female influence exerted in some way or another, and not, as is often supposed, intoxication, which is the occasion of so much crime. This is the opinion of Her Majesty's Inspector of Convicts—but would the hon. Baronet support me if I brought in a Bill which should provide that no women under a certain age should be permitted in any district if two-thirds of the inhabitants objected to their presence? Hon. Gentlemen who have any expe- rience of the world know very well that it is not drink alone which leads men into mischief. Here is the evidence of the Chairman of the Quarter Sessions in Cheshire, Sir Henry Mainwaring, who, in charging the grand jury the other day at the April Sessions, said that the number of convictions for drunkenness was very great; and no doubt, he observed— Drunkenness was a great source of crime, but he did not think that the increase of crime was to be attributed solely to drunkenness; he believed a great deal of crime was attributable to the cheap literature and those scandalous books which were now so freely circulated. Will the hon. Gentleman be willing to exclude newspapers from a district if two-thirds of the inhabitants desire it?—because, to be consistent, if he is determined to make us virtuous by Act of Parliament, let us have this paternal system of government, which always ends in pure despotism, if extended. This is not the first time in the history of the world that the permissive system has been tried. We have had—and we should never forget it—a trial of the true puritanical principle, which nearly reduced this country to rebellion when it was first enacted in the time of the great brewer of Huntingdon, and which was followed by a reaction in which this country was flooded with profanity, obscenity and drunkenness. That would happen again, if the country places itself under the feet of two-thirds of the population, as is proposed by this Bill. I may be imperilling my seat by what I say; but I care not for that—I hold that as nothing when the truth is at stake—and I believe it would be an evil thing for this country if ever we should begin to legislate upon this mischievous principle. I was sorry to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Dalrymple) misquote some observations made by the Bishop of Peterborough—or rather quote only half of them. What the right rev. Bishop said was, that he would sooner see England free than sober; but he added that he said so for this reason—"If you could ensure liberty, the chances of sobriety would be much greater." Sir, for these reasons I shall give an unhesitating vote against the mischievous Bill of the hon. Gentleman, and—I say it with the greatest courtesy to the hon. Baronet, whose speech I heard with admiration—I shall oppose him to the best of my ability.


Sir, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Osborne) has told us that he sits for an Irish constituency, and that Irish feeling is against this Bill. Now, Sir, I sit for a large Irish constituency, and I believe that there is a strong opinion in favour of it in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman must forgive me if I tell him that I do not think this is a question suited to levity. I hold an entirely contrary opinion to him with reference to Ireland, for I am sure this Bill is looked upon with great interest. What is the meaning of this Bill? Its objects can be seen on looking at the Preamble—it is to diminish drunkenness and intemperance. I presume that throughout this nation no one will stand up as an advocate of intemperance, and that there is no one in this House who does not wish to see drunkenness diminished. Now, Sir, to show that this evil does exist, let me for one moment refer to one or two expressions which have fallen from the lips of men who have a considerable knowledge of their countrymen. The first I will quote is the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), who I regret not to see in his place to-day—I apprehend that a largo section of this House do consider him to be a great authority on matters connected with the habits and feelings of the people out of doors. He made this remark, that there was throughout the country a great deal of ignorance, poverty, suffering, sickness, and crime, through the prevalent habit and vice of drunkenness, which destroyed both the body and mind, and brought misery to the homes of thousands of families, and that the country would be so changed for the better if there were not this amount of drinking that it would be almost impossible for any one to recognize it. Then, Sir, we have the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Home Secretary), who acknowledges the evils, and admits that our Judges, magistrates, governors of gaols, Inspectors of police, and every one acquainted with criminal cases, and connected with the administration of the law, concur in the opinion that the greater part of the crime and misery in the land is to be attributed to this curse of intemperance. It is a source of a nation's weakness, and we should strike at the root of this great national evil. The right hon. Gentleman has fully concurred in all these sentiments. But how is this Bill met? Why, we are told that if this Bill were to pass we should inflict a grievous injury on those engaged in the trade, in which about 100,000 persons are engaged; and that if Parliament interfered 100,000 families would be deprived of the means of existence. Now, Sir, if there is this large number of persons employed in the trade, I think that it only shows there are a far greater number employed in it than is wholesome for the country. Hon. Members call upon the House to respect these vested interests of intemperance in preference to the welfare of the people of England. The hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Osborne) used the word spoliation; does he mean that it is spoliation to destroy the power which leads to the demoralization and degradation of the people? Surely the people have a right to say whether they want these public-houses or not? But according to the arguments which we have just heard, the British public are to have forced upon them an abundance of gin-palaces and beer-shops, which they do not want, in order to maintain the vested interests of those who have embarked their capital in this trade. Now if this is what is meant let it be boldly stated, and put plainly before the people, so that they may understand the cause of the opposition to this Bill. Well, Sir, I apprehend that it is not necessary to point out the amount of miserable destitution which results from the use of intoxicating drinks; or to demonstrate that if the consumption were decreased or done away with, there would be a great increase in wealth from the better habits of the people. This would be invested in other and more productive undertakings, so that there would be abundance of labour for those who are now engaged in the liquor trade. But, has Parliament always refused to interfere with trade? Why, Sir, in times past it has legislated without any tenderness to the interests of trades. The outcry against such legislation is an old one. There are many of us who will remember what a cry there was against railways. It was said that roadside inns would be entirely ruined by them, and that the rights of those who had invested capital in posting establishments and stage coaches should be respected; but yet Parliament did not hesitate to establish them. Now, it is only when intemperance is to be maintained that Parliament shows its delicacy in interfering with those engaged in the liquor traffic. We are told that we must not look at intemperance as an evil, and that it is the peculiar right of certain people. I am not now going into an argument on this question, or to deal with the details of the scheme now before the House, but the main principle of the Bill is that those who suffer from the existing state of things shall have by their vote the power of checking it themselves. That is the principle which we wish to adopt, and that is the principle which hundreds of thousands of persons in this country desire to see carried out. The number of Petitions which have been sent in from all parts of the country shows how deeply this subject is regarded throughout the country. But we are told that we are not going to give every one a vote, and one hon. Gentleman remarked that if this principle was to be fully carried out, every man and woman in the country should have a vote. All I can say is, that I would very gladly have this subject left to both men and women, for I am sure if we gave female suffrage in regard to this question that they would, by a largo majority, vote against this system, which breaks up so many households and destroys the comforts of so many families. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) does not, however, make this a question of universal suffrage, but he proposes that the ratepayers' voice should decide whether public-houses should be permitted or not. These are the very best persons to decide this question, for are they not those who suffer most from the effects of intemperance? Do they not have to pay the poor rate and for the maintenance of our gaols, workhouses, and lunatic asylums? They have a direct interest, I say, in this matter. The ratepayers are taxed largely to maintain our public institutions, which are mainly filled by the effects of drunkenness. They have thus to pay for intemperance, and yet they have no voice whatever with regard to licensing houses which do so much evil. I concur in the principle that those who pay should have the power of voting and some voice in the matter; and I am perfectly astonished to hear hon. Gentlemen now say that this is a new principle, and one which is contrary to the usual legislation of the country. Sir, the permissive principle is in practice now, that is, licences are permitted under certain conditions. What we ask is that the power of permission should be taken out of the hands of a few rich landlords and justices of the peace who may be brewers and distillers themselves, or may be connected with them, and that it should be invested in the ratepayers generally. There are now many more public-houses than there should be, and I say again that the control of them should be left in the hands, not of this class, but of the ratepayers, who should certainly have something to say about it. That I consider to be the main principle embodied in this Bill. I am really surprised that a Gentleman possessing the great talents of the hon. Member for Waterford should use such extraordinary arguments—I may say absurd arguments—against this Bill. He has actually been obliged to conjure up an imaginary agitation against the use of fish and tea in order to deter hon. Members from voting for this Bill. Can he seriously intend to maintain that wide-spread crime and misery have ever ensued or even could arise from the use of those articles? Aptitude of expression and amusing phrases are not argument against this Bill. I look on his speech as being so deficient in reasoning as to afford one of the strongest arguments that could be made in favour of the Bill. Houses for the sale of liquor have been so unduly multiplied that adulteration has been resorted to in order to secure a profit, and the public are cheated in consequence. It has been said that if the Bill is passed the country would soon be in a state of riot from one end to the other, and that the military would have to be called out. I hardly know how to answer such an extraordinary statement as that, but it seems to me that if the majority of the residents of a district passed the Bill they would be quite capable of maintaining order and quiet in the district. For the hon. Gentleman who said he had been converted against the measure I am truly sorry. I believe that the public mind is getting every year more and more in favour of the Bill; and, while thanking the hon. Baronet for his perseverance and courage in again bringing it forward, I am very happy to have an opportunity to add my testimony to his in its favour.


said, that in 1871, on the withdrawal of the Government measure, he gave a vote in support of the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle; but upon a very careful review he had come to the conclusion that that was the very worst vote he ever gave. That vote had been a constant source of trouble to him. Many of his constituents had supposed him to be a supporter of the hon. Baronet, and he had reaped thereby a great deal of glory and credit—for which he was sincerely thankful, but which he did not deserve. The more he looked at the Bill of his hen, Friend, the more he was convinced that it was totally unworkable in its character. It had been already exposed as being grossly unjust, inasmuch as it made no proposal whatever to compensate those interests which it was the object of the Bill to destroy. Moreover, he thought he could show, and the hon. Baronet, as a candid man, would admit, that in places where the Bill would come into operation, it was not wanted, inasmuch as there could not be much drunkenness in a place where two-thirds of the population would vote for such a measure. So far the Bill was needless. Then, in places where two-thirds of the ratepayers would not vote for stopping the liquor traffic, the Bill would not come into operation. In whatever view, therefore, this Bill was regarded—whether in the view of a sober place adopting it, or a drunken place refusing to adopt it—it was manifestly a Bill that could not work. He admitted at once that if he were called upon to vote for the speech of the hon. Baronet, he would vote for it directly; but his speech had nothing whatever to do with his Bill. The hon. Baronet had made some extraordinary statements in his speech, but they were not in his Bill. The hon. Baronet said that this Bill would suppress the liquor traffic, and that it was the only Bill which could do so. But he had shown that it would only suppress the liquor traffic in places where there was very little of it, and in places where there was a great deal too much the Bill would have no operation at all. The hon. Baronet had said that if this Bill passed, licences would by it be granted for the benefit of the public, and not for the benefit of the individual, He (Sir Robert Anstruther) failed to perceive one word in the Bill which would indicate that the licences granted under the Bill would be for the benefit of the public and not of individuals. Either there would be no licences at all or they must be granted for the benefit of individuals. This Bill gave no choice at all as to reducing the number of licences and absolute prohibition. Common sense must point out that it would be much better to allow people to diminish the number of licences; but the hon. Baronet, finding that too much drinking was going on in any place, would not allow them to reduce the number of licences by two or by 10; he would sweep away the whole. He (Sir Robert Anstruther) put it to the House whether that was a practical way of dealing with the subject. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) had made some reference to Scotland, and said he believed there was a great deal too much alcoholic drink consumed in that country. Unfortunately it was impossible to deny that fact. The hon. Baronet who brought in the Bill remarked that the Government Licensing Act did not include Scotland. That was true; but at the time the Scotch Members protested against Scotland being excluded, and he deeply regretted that the Home Secretary and the Lord Advocate did not arrange between them to frame such clauses as should have included Scotland in that Bill. But though there was much drinking in Scotland, there was also a good deal of temperance, and many Petitions from Scotland had been presented in favour of this Bill, and the Home Secretary was urged last year from all parts of Scotland to bring in some measure which should include that country. The hon. Member for Waterford had said, that the drinking of a country was a question of its latitude. He (Sir Robert Anstruther) admitted that in cold countries the population drank a great deal more than in warm ones. In consequence of the Report of a Committee of the Diet of Sweden, legislative action was taken. They did not pass a permissive Bill, because living very far North, they knew very well that such a measure would have no practical effect. The Bill, however, which was passed by the Swedish Diet, entirely altered the basis on which the licensing laws of that country were placed. In Gothenburg a company was formed to purchase all spirit licences, and it had a very remarkable result. The population was about 57,000. The company raised a capital of about £11,000 only, and they purchased all the spirit licences which were not held by grocers or hotel-keepers. They appointed a board of trustees, who, under the sanction of the Governor of the province, issued licences, and the result had been a most remarkable improvement in the habits and morals of that town. The financial result—which was of considerable importance—had been this. They expended in 1871 £29,000, and what they purchased was sold for £45,000. The expenses of rent, depreciation of furniture, inventories, &c., amounted to £5,000, and there was a clear profit of £10,000 (upon an original capital of £11,000) accruing to the trustees, the whole of which was applied in relief of the poor rates. There was ample evidence that the results in a moral as well as in a financial point of view had been of the most satisfactory kind. It occurred to him that what could be done in Sweden could be done in Scotland, and he had it in contemplation, with some hon. Friends, to consider whether they could not introduce some measure which would give the same powers to the trustees of each parish or burgh in Scotland as had been given to the town of Gothenburg. He might be allowed to say that the Diet of Sweden had given the most convincing proof of the satisfactory nature of the measure, because two months ago they extended the powers which the company possessed, and now they might purchase the grocers' licences as formerly they purchased the public-houses. As regarded Scotland, he was sorry to say that owing to the immense quantity of spirits consumed there, the profits would probably range from £100,000 to £200,000 a-year—reckoning the average consumption in Scotland at two gallons a head, and the selling price at 20s. per gallon. The hon. Baronet who had introduced this Bill remarked that in his Budget speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that an additional sum of £1,300,000 was last year spent on drink in this country. He (Sir Robert Anstruther) concurred with him in lamenting that such should be the case; yet if they were to spend such an amount of money as that upon drink—which was a fact that, at all events, all must regret—the best they could do, as practical men, was to turn that to some account, and adopt in Scotland the same course that had proved so advantageous in Sweden. Mr. Carnegie in his pamphlet estimated that in the City of Glasgow a sum of about £500,000 would cover the market value of all the public-houses, goodwill, fixtures, &c., excluding the hotel and grocers' licences. He apologized for having introduced this subject to the House; it was, however, a matter of very great importance, and he hoped the debate would not be without some result.


denied, not only that all crime, but that the major part of it, arose from drunkenness:—he thought the contrary to be the fact, and that instead of its being true that drunkenness brought on almost all their crime, in the majority of instances a lapse into vice or crime brought on drunkenness. Neither could he admit that any majority—ratepayers or any others—had a right to impose any law they pleased or to inflict persecution upon the rest of the community. Many persons objected to smoking—why should they not apply for a Permissive Prohibitory Bill to put down tobacconists shops. They were all agreed as to the evils of excessive drinking and the desirability of putting a stop to it, but no one of the advocates of the Bill had shown how it was likely to bring about that result. Last year the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) showed them that the Maine Liquor Law was ineffectual to prevent people from obtaining wine or spirits in any quantity they wished, and what had occurred in Canada was not more encouraging. Seven years ago the Legisture of Canada gave power to the majority of the town councils, with the assent of the ratepayers, to suppress the liquor traffic of their localities; but from that day to this the law had never been adopted by a single town in the country. Having previously looked upon the present Bill more as a standing protest against drunkenness than anything else, out of respect for its author he had never voted for nor against it. But circum- stances had now greatly altered. The new Licensing Act passed by the Government, although imperfect in some respects, was on the whole a very valuable measure; and it was only reasonable that it should receive a fair trial. On this occasion, however, the advocates of this Bill had adopted a very singular method of pressing it on the House, and he had received letters urging him "as he valued his immortal soul, to vote for Wilfrid Lawson's Bill and do his duty to his constituency and his God." When the supporters of the present Bill out-of-doors threatened to set the constituents of hon. Members of that House against them unless they voted for the Permissive Bill, and appealed to them to vote for it as they valued their immortal souls, it was time for hon. Members to declare their opinions without hesitation. He therefore thought it his duty to say, and to say at once, what he meant to do. He meant to vote against the Bill. The Bill could not possibly work. The Bill would destroy vested interests valued at £100,000,000. They could not, surely, confiscate the property of the publicans, but must give them fair compensation. It was idle to say that, inasmuch as the licences were annual, there would be no injustice in taking them away; because many of these houses had been occupied by a man and his forefathers for 100 or even 150 years; and the fact that the licence was renewable from year to year was only intended to operate as a check upon the holder and a guarantee that his house should be properly conducted. If, therefore, they once confiscated these vested interests, hon. Gentlemen might depend upon it their own property would not long be safe. Licensed victuallers themselves had a year or two ago made a suggestion which was deserving of consideration—namely, that an increased licence duty might be levied, and the surplus thence arising applied in buying up the worst description of houses, leaving the town councils of boroughs to say whether new licences should or should not be granted. A great deal could be done by example to encourage temperance. It was not so very long ago that drunkenness prevailed among our higher classes, and it was thought almost an insult to one's host to go away from his house sober. Education was now rapidly spreading among the working classes, and there was no reason why in the next half-century drunkenness might not largely cease among them.


said, he had always voted for the second reading of this Bill as a Scotch representative, chiefly because this had been the only measure dealing with the liquor traffic which extended to Scotland. He believed that the trade had greater restrictions placed upon it in Scotland than elsewhere, and that the feeling in favour of farther restrictions was year by year increasing. They were frequently told that they could not make people sober or even drunk by Act of Parliament; but his own experience of Sweden, to which country allusion had been made, was that owing to the establishment of free trade in spirituous liquors such a condition of affairs was produced that a Committee of Inquiry had to be appointed; and that Committee reported that moral, physical, and social ruin menaced the nation as the result of the law in regard to the sale of spirits. The consequence of this inquiry was that in 1855 a great change in the law was made and the country subsequently could hardly be recognized as the same. This was not the occasion on which to enter into detail with respect to the Swedish licensing laws:—but the House had heard that there was a probability that so far as Scotland was concerned, a measure might be laid before it which would give a full opportunity of inquiring in detail into the operation of the systems which had been adopted in other countries. He might, however, mention that one of the principles of the Swedish law was to give the parochial authorities a veto over the issuing of new licences; and this power had been found to work most advantageously and efficiently, in of many cases leading to entire extinction the spirituous liquor traffic. In Gothenburg the law had worked with special success, and he believed this was owing to the recognition of the principle which should be recognized in this country also—that no individual should reap a private gain by the sale of spirituous liquors so as to encourage undue consumption—in other words, that no one who had been intrusted with a licence should have an object in inducing men to drink too freely. The measure which he had referred to would afford an opportunity for a much fuller discussion of the Gothenburg system than that now before the House, and he should therefore refrain from entering into its merits now; but until some such Bill was introduced into the House with a fair prospect of its becoming law, he should continue to support the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle.


said, he had no intention of taking part in this debate, and he rose solely for the purpose of correcting some mistatements which he understood had been made by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) in his absence. They all enjoyed the happy humour of the hon. Member, but he could not therefore be allowed to snake reckless statements, imputing evil to important institutions, and which might, coming from that House, be received by the country as of more value than was their due. The hon. Member had stated that drinking and gambling was prevalent at the working men's clubs of this country—


said, he had referred to those clubs at Sheffield and some other places—not generally.


It happened that the working men's clubs in Sheffield were about the best specimens of working men's clubs in the whole of Great Britain. He (Mr. Mundella) knew something about these working men's clubs in Sheffield. The first of them was started under the auspices of the clergy and gentry of the town, and provided reading-rooms, libraries, and refreshment-rooms, and in fact, everything for the amusement and recreation of the working men. He felt bound to say that this club filled so rapidly, and numbered 500 or 600 persons in so short a space of time, that it was found necessary to form another; and since that time they had been established in every ward of the town. No better institution existed in England than working men's clubs, and there was nothing more gratifying to him than to find that the working men availed themselves to the extent they did of the benefits they afforded. Certainly those gentlemen who were connected with clubs in Sheffield would be much astonished at the hon. Member for Waterford making such a charge against them. He must have been thinking of some of the clubs in Pall Mall. There was one other question to which he would refer. He under- stood the hon. Member to make some allusion to the manner in which he (Mr. Mundella) was going to vote. But he thought he might ask who was it that "shirked responsibility" in that House?—was it himself, or the hon. Member for Waterford? He would like to ask him another question. Had the hon. Gentleman ever been in a working-man's club in his life? [Mr. OSBORNE: Yes.] Well, then, would he produce evidence in support of the statement which he had made respecting these clubs? Would he give the name of a single one of these clubs where drinking and gambling went on? If he would look to the clubs in Pall Mall he would find that the poor man's club would bear a very favourable comparison with the rich man's. He had never pledged himself on election to vote for the Permissive Bill, nor had he ever pledged himself to vote against it. He was not pledged to vote one way or the other. But though he was not pledged he had voted for it on this ground. The Bill contained no provision for compensation, and if licences were taken away, or by whatever means they attempted to suppress the trade, they must compensate the man for the loss he would sustain. That seemed to him to be the inevitable consequence. But there was no provision for compensation in this Bill, and many of its details could not be worked out or carried into practice. But, on the other hand, it seemed essential that they should have some settled principle, and that some such a plan as that suggested by the hon. Baronet (Sir David Wedderburn) might be adopted. Everyone who knew how the Gothenburg system had worked in Sweden knew the great change which had come over that country. It was something truly marvellous. Now, the principle of the ratepayers having a certain control was the principle upon which he rested his defence in voting for this Bill. He believed in the ratepayers having this control, because it was most important that working men should have a vote in this matter. The poor could not surround their dwellings with brick walls, they lived in crowded neighbourhoods, with only perhaps a few yards of open space in front of them; and it was most important they should be allowed to choose whether or no they would have a public-house close to their homes. He believed it to be right they should have a voice on the question, and it was upon these grounds that he meant to give his vote for the second reading of the Bill.


said, that during the discussion of the Licensing Bill last year, his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle proposed to extend the permissive principle to that Act. On that occasion he (Mr. Whitwell) ventured to divide the House with the view of limiting the operation of the Bill to the granting of all new licences. He believed the introduction of such a system would be desirable, and that if the ratepayers had the power to limit the increase of new licences, much of the good which the House desired might be accomplished. On that principle he should vote for the second reading of this Bill, in the hope that if it passed he should be able to introduce his Amendment in Committee. But if the Amendment which he intended to propose was not carried, he should oppose the third reading of the Bill.


Sir, May has come round again, and brought with it many agreeable things and, I am bound to say, some disagreeable ones, among which I give the chief place to the Bill of my hon. Friend which is now under discussion. The hon. Baronet has made—not a personal appeal to myself, but to me in my official capacity—to state my reasons why I oppose his Bill. Well, Sir, the Home Secretary has quite enough to do already, and if this measure were passed so many new duties and responsibilities would be imposed that it would be impossible for him to discharge them. Supposing the Bill was adopted in any of our largo towns—in places where drunkenness mostly prevails—and where undoubtedly a considerable minority would be opposed to it, we should have continual opposition, we should have continual elections, with riots, and disorder, which it would be the duty of those in authority to put down; or else we should have that which would be even worse, the executive authority winking at evasion, and so bringing scandal upon the law. This would be in my opinion, one of the certain results of the passing of this Bill. The fresh evidence which we have had to-day from America—and I wish more hon. Gentlemen had been present to hear the statements of personal testimony of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Dalrymple) on that subject—showed in effect that this was a law which the Executive could not enforce among a free people. With a people accustomed to implicit obedience the case might perhaps be somewhat different; but in this country, where we have been, and I hope we always shall be accustomed to considerable freedom, an interference of this sort—not against a thing which is wrong in itself, but only made wrong by Act of Parliament—would lead to much resistance of a dangerous kind. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), reminded us, I think, very fairly, that it was objected to the Licensing Act of last year that the restrictions it placed upon the sale of liquor might lead to its illicit sale—and no doubt to some extent this was true. But I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman when he states that the institution of working men's clubs are an evil in themselves; where they are bonâ fide clubs it is certainly bettor that the working man should go to them rather than to houses where the inducements to drink would be greater. No doubt, there may be some fictitious clubs, and some places where illicit liquors are sold; but these are and must be very few, and are closely watched by the Excise and the police. Hitherto the police have been able to work the Act; but if we should carry restrictions further it would be impossible to say what force would be required to give effect to the law. Another reason why I oppose the Bill is that I can be no party to a measure which involves the wholesale confiscation of property which this Bill would inflict. The hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) in his speech spoke of his Bill as if it only gave to the ratepayers the power of preventing a future increase in the number of public houses. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: What I said was that the Bill applied not to new licences only, but to all licences.] Well, but the hon. Baronet said that the objection to this Bill, as a permissive measure, had been met, by asking whether existing legislation on the subject is not permissive? for did we not leave in the hands of the justices of the peace the power of granting or of refusing a licence? The law as it now stands certainly gives power to the justices to refuse a licence, but not without good, grave, and sufficient cause. I believe that this power has on the whole been exercised wisely and judiciously, and so far I think that the principle is a good one. But I also oppose this Bill on account of its permissive character. And I beg to say that there is an essential difference between the character of this Bill and those measures which have been referred to by the hon. Baronet. I drew attention to this difference last year, and pointed out that in all permissive Acts at present in force the ratepayers are at liberty to adopt the powers they conferred once for all; but in this Bill it is proposed to re-open the question every three years. But not only this—there is another and a broader distinction between the principle of this and other Bills. The existing Bills give to the ratepayers power to adopt a certain measure for the public good; but this Bill gives to a certain number of persons the power to interfere with the social habits of the people. This seems to mo to be a novel and dangerous principle, and one which should not be conceded. It is not necessary for me to enter into details on this question, as I have so frequently spoken upon it, but I cannot sit down without alluding to one subject which has frequently been referred to in the course of this debate. It is a subject which appears to me to require grave consideration. I am bound to say that when I consider the manner in which persons interested in the extension or the repression of the trade have expressed their opinon, and have endeavoured to influence the Legislature, I think it affects the dignity and independenc e of the House. Now I am afraid that my hon. Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill (Mr. Wheelhouse) is somewhat responsible for this attitude of the partizans on each side, as he has not questioned the accuracy of the report of a speech made by him at York, in which it was stated that, in his opinion, the licensed victuallers should combine to return, without respect to their opinions or politics, persons who were pledged to oppose this Bill. He is charged with coining a word for the purpose, and to have recommended them to "energize" their powers. This word, however, is not a new one, as hon. Members who remember the old couplet know— When energizing objects men pursue, What are the wonders which they will not do? I can imagine that no greater evil than that an election should turn on such a subject as this. We have licensed victuallers on one side informing Members that their support depends on the vote which they will give in respect to this Bill; and, on the other side, hon. Members are informed by the gentler enthusiasts of the temperance cause that if they vote against the Bill they will not again receive their support. This is a course of proceeding, in the presence of which I think, the House should let no doubt remain as to its opinion. There are some hon. Members who have hitherto remained neutral on this question; and a doubt has therefore arisen as to the degree of support this measure may be expected ultimately to receive. I trust there will be no longer any hesitation; that upon this occasion hon. Gentlemen will so vote that henceforth there may be no doubt as to the ultimate prospects of a measure like the present. Let those who believe the Bill to be a good Bill, and who desire to vote for it, do so; but, on the other hand, let those who, like myself, believe it to be an utterly futile measure, unjust and oppressive, and opposed to common sense, vote against it, and throw it out by a large and crushing majority.


in reply, said: I will only detain the House for a few minutes. I really think that the hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Order could not have understood it, or he would not have made the mistakes which he did. I do not object to many of the plans which have been proposed by hon. Gentlemen in the course of the debate, but, on the contrary, I am quite willing to support many of them whenever they may be brought forward. All I say is, that if there are certain places in which the ratepayers choose not to have any public-houses, that their wishes should be complied with. Well, then, as to what was said by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. D. Dalrymple). We are all well used to have among us hon. Gentlemen who tell us of their visits to America, and how they have been about from town to town trying to break the law. The hon. Member has a Bill of his own, the object of which is to lock up the drunkard. I only want to be permitted to lock up the drink. I really hope to be able to support the hon. Member for Bath in the permissive powers he seeks to obtain in his Habitual Drunkards Bill, and I hope he will not act so like a dog-in-the-manger as to oppose me in my efforts to obtain for the people the same power with respect to checking the manufacture of these drunkards. As to my Friend the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), he has made one of his amusing speeches, as one would naturally expect from him. He talked about freedom to working men. Why, that is the very thing I wish to give them. It is too late to talk about free trade in drink; that is as dead as concurrent endowment. At present the whole of the power as to the granting of licences is in the hands of a few magistrates, who are wholly and entirely irresponsible. I would empower the working men to overrule their discretion, and I contend that that is a great extension of freedom. One word about the Home Secretary. When he talked about the absence of any compensation clause in my Bill, he should have remembered what he himself has done. Why, the right hon. Gentleman is called by some irreverent individuals among the publicans, "Bruce the Communist." Does he not know that certain publicans made nearly all their profit by selling drink during those hours during which, by this last Act, he has now prohibited them from selling? What compensation has he offered to them? If, for the public good, he has a right to curtail this sale of drink carried on by these men for one hour, or two hours, or three hours, there is the same right to curtail it altogether if the interests of public order, welfare, and morality demand it. Well, I will not detain the House any longer. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be afraid of some new question being imported into elections, but all I can say is that he is not able to dictate to the people of England what subjects they shall deal with at the elections. From what I know of the state of the working people, I am as confident as that I stand here that there is no question which interests them so heartily and enthusiastically as this drink question. The hon. Member for Waterford said the Prime Minister had declared that there had been an imperceptible decrease of drunkenness in the country. I agree with him that the decrease is imperceptible, and I beg the House to pass the Bill so as to make the decrease perceptible.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 321: Majority 240.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for six months.

Allen, W. S. Lewis, C. E.
Balfour, Sir G. Lewis, J. D.
Barry, A. H. S. Lush, Dr.
Bazley, Sir T. M'Arthur, W.
Biddulph, M. M'Clure, T.
Birley, H. M'Lagan, P.
Bright, J. (Manchester) M'Laren, D.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Magniac, C.
Brogden, A. Maitland, Sir A. C. R. G.
Brown, A. H. Maxwell, W. H.
Browne, G. E. Melly, G.
Cadogan, hon. F. W. Meyrick, T.
Candlish, J. Miall, E.
Carter, R. M. Milbank, F. A.
Chadwick, D. Miller, J.
Chambers, M. Morgan, G. O.
Chambers, Sir T. Mundella, A. J.
Crichton, Viscount O'Neill, hon. E.
Dalway, M. R. Palmer, J. H.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Potter, T. B.
Davies, R. Richard, H.
Dawson, Col. R. P. Richards, E. M.
Dick, F. Roden, W. S.
Dickinson, S. S. Rylands, P.
Downing, M'C. Shaw, R.
Finnie, W. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
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Heygate, Sir F. W. Wedderburn, Sir D.
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Illingworth, A. Whitworth, T.
Johnston, W. Willyams, E. W. B.
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Bolckow, H. W. F. Fellowes, E.
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Bourke, hon. R. Figgins, J.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Brand, H. R. Fitzwilliam, hon. C.
Bright, R. W. W.
Brinckman, Captain Floyer, J.
Bristowe, S. B. Forster, C.
Broadley, W. H. H. Fortescue, hon. D. F.
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Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Galway, Viscount
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Gilpin, Colonel
Cartwright, F. Gladstone, W. H.
Cartwright, W. C. Glyn, hon. G. G.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Goldney, G.
Cave, T. Gooch, Sir D.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Gordon, E. S.
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Chaplin, H. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Charley, W. T. Gray, Colonel
Chelsea, Viscount Greaves, E.
Childers, rt. hon. H. Greene, E.
Cholmeley, Captain Gregory, G. B.
Clay, J. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Clifford, C. C. Grosvenor, hon. N.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Grosvenor, Capt. R. W.
Clowes, S. W. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cobbett, J. M. Grove, T. F.
Cochrane, A.D.W.R.B. Guest, M. J.
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hambro, C.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Collins, T. Hamilton, Lord G.
Colthurst, Sir G. C. Hanbury, R. W.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Harcourt, W.G.G.V.V.
Cowper-Temple, right Hardcastle, J. A.
hon. W. Hardy, rt. hon. G.
Craufard, E. H. J. Hardy, J.
Croft, Sir H. G. D. Hardy, J. S.
Cross, R. A. Hay, Sir J. C. D.
Cubitt, G. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.
Dalglish, R. Henley, Lord
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Dent, J. D. Sir P.
Dickson, Major A. G. Hermon, E.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Hervey, Lord A. H. C.
Dillwyn, L. L. Heygate, W. U.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Hick, J.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Dowdeswell, W. E. Hoare, Sir H. A.
Duff, M. E. G. Hodgkinson, G.
Duff, R. W. Hodgson, K. D.
Du Pre, C. G. Hodgson, W. N.
Dyke, W. H. Hogg, J. M.
Dyott, Col. R. Holford, J. P. G.
Eaton, H. W. Holker, J.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Holms, J.
Egerton, Adml. hn. F. Holmesdale, Viscount
Egerton, Sir P. G. Holt, J. M.
Hood, Captain hon. A. Peek, H. W.
W. A. N. Peel, A. W.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Pemberton, E. L.
Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Percy, Earl
Hurst, R. H. Phipps, C. P.
Hutton, J. Playfair, L.
Johnston, A. Potter, E.
Johnstone, Sir H. Powell, F. S.
Jones, J. Power, J. T.
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Raikes, H. C.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Read, C. S.
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rt. hon. E. H. Rothschild, N. M. de
Knightley, Sir R. Russell, Lord A.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Sackville, S. G. S.
Laird, J. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lambert, N. G. Salt, T.
Langton, W. G. Samuda, J. D'A.
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Lea, T. Scourfield, J. H.
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Leeman, G. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Lefevre, G. J. S. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir
Legh, W. J. H. J.
Leigh, E. Seymour, A.
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Lennox, Lord H. G. Sheridan, H. B.
Lewis, H. Sherriff, A. C.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Lindsay, hon. Col. C. Simonds, W. B.
Locke, J. Smith, A.
Lopes, H. C. Smith, F. C.
Lopes, Sir M. Smith, S. G.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Smith, W. H.
Lowther, J. Smyth, P. J.
Lowther, hon. W. Stanley, hon. F.
Lyttelton, hon. C. G. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Mackintosh, E. W. Stapleton, J.
Mahon, Viscount Starkie, J. P. C.
Malcolm, J. W. Steere, L.
Manners, Lord G. J. Stone, W. H.
March, Earl of Straight, D.
Massey, rt. hon. W. N. Strutt, hon. H.
Mellor, T. W. Sturt, H. G.
Merry, J. Sturt, Lt.-Col. N.
Milles hon. G. W. Sykes, C.
Mills, Sir C. H. Talbot, hon. Captain
Mitchell, T. A. Taylor, P. A.
Mitford, W. T. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Monckton, F. Tipping, W.
Monk, C. J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
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Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Tomline, G.
Muncaster, Lord Torr, J.
Muntz, P. H. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Murphy, N. D. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Neville-Grenville, R. Turner, C.
Newdegate, C. N. Turnor, E.
Newport, Viscount Walker, Lt.-Col. G. G.
Nicholson, W. Walpole, hon. F.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir Walsh, hon. A.
S. H. Walter, J.
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Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Wharton, J. L.
Patten, rt. hon. Col. W. Whatman, J.
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Wingfield, Sir C. TELLERS.
Winterbotham, H. S. P. Talbot, J. G.
Wyndham, hon. P. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.