§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Richard Smyth.)
§ MR. M. BROOKS,
in rising to move as an Amendment, "That this House will, upon this day two months, resolve itself into the said Committee," said, his belief was, that if the Bill were passed, its effect would be to cause such social changes in Ireland that great contentions must arise. Endeavours had been made to obtain some delay from the promoters of the Bill, in order to consider it, and also the Amendments about to be proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but the slightest concession could not be obtained. They had inscribed "No surrender" on their banner. They insisted that from East to West, from North to South throughout Ireland the public-houses should be closed from Saturday night till Monday morning. 331 He (Mr. Brooks) and his friends, who constituted a large proportion of the people of Ireland, firmly maintained that they were taken by surprise by the promoters of the Bill, many of whom no doubt were well-meaning men, and they accordingly claimed a little delay, but it was not accorded them. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. Brooks) thought he was justified in calling on the English House of Commons to give time to consider whether they would pass a law to prevent the people of Ireland from obtaining moderate refreshments on Sunday. There were from 50,000 to 100,000 persons in Dublin who were in the habit of taking a moderate amount of refreshment on Sundays. They represented class who had no libraries or reading-rooms to go to, and the public-houses were their only places of public and social resort. Were they to be deprived of the only means at their disposal of meeting their companions in friendly intercourse? He believed that the opinion of the working men of Ireland had not been fairly obtained or put before Parliament. It had been represented that if this Bill became law strife and contention would cease, and English Members had supported it for this reason. The Bill, he would remind the House, was promoted principally by the Sunday Closing Association, which was only a part of a vast organization which had for its objects the total extinction of the liquor traffic and the passing of the Permissive Bill, but if it became law a terrific agitation would prevail throughout the country, and he desired to spare the country from such an agitation. He could not understand the motives of those gentlemen who, having cellars of their own, would close the door of the public-house against the working man in search of moderate refreshment. It was urged that there had been no agitation against the Bill by respectable working men. The reason was obvious; respectable working men thought agitation on such a subject unnecessary. It was quite true that an agitation on the question was not new in Ireland, but the police authorities and the Government had always discountenanced it, and had assured the people that the prospect of carrying such a measure was hopeless. By that means the working classes of Ireland had been lulled into a feeling of false security, 332 and upon this ground he hoped a better opportunity would be afforded for eliciting the opinions of those whom that Bill would affect. The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition objected to the Bill, and expressed his opinion that it would not be tolerated by respectable working men. In Ireland there were 22 distinct trade societies, of which he had a list in his hand, who were opposed to the Bill, and he thought they were better judges of the wants and wishes of the working classes than the promoters of the Bill. He hoped this was sufficient to show that the operatives in Ireland were not favourable to the Bill. Not a single Petition had come from any of those organized societies in favour of the Bill. There was a large number of Sunday visitors to public-houses who would be inconvenienced by this Bill if it became law. He had been informed that in one house there were 9,000 visitors who spent about 2d. each. He trusted that for the sake of peace and good order the Bill would not be pressed on too hastily, and that while Parliament would adopt any reasonable proposal for improving the morality of the people, it would not consent unduly to restrict the liberties and freedom of the working and other classes affected by this Bill. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ MR. STACPOOLE,
in seconding the Amendment, said, as an Irish Member who had for many years devoted his attention to the subject before the House, he wished to explain the reasons why he thought the sort of class legislation proposed in the Bill of the hon. Member for Londonderry should not be persevered with, especially at the extreme end of the Session, when so many matters of public business were still in an unfinished state. He was a Member of the Select Committee, which in the year 1868 sat to take evidence on a Sunday Closing Bill brought in by the hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Major O'Reilly), which Bill was of a far less stringent character than the measure now before the House. That Committee included amongst its Members the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, the late Earl of Mayo, and the present Lord Carlingford, who had since filled the office of Chief Secretary. It included also Lord Emly and Mr. Pim, the late Member for Dublin, and these four Gentlemen might 333 be taken as fairly representing large sections of Irish, opinion. The result of the inquiry and of the deliberations of that Committee was that the Bill was materially altered by the Committee, and the alterations they recommended had since been embodied in legislation, and were now the law in Ireland. With one or two exceptions he attended every sitting of that Committee, and he was able to state to the House the nature of the evidence, which convinced them that the closing of the public-houses in Ireland on Sunday would be undesirable and inexpedient. He thought the fact that a Select Committee had already considered the subject, and that its recommendations had been embodied in legislation, was the strongest possible argument against the attempt to rush this Bill through Parliament at the fagend of the Session. He might say that the advocates of Sunday closing in Ireland made quite as strong a case before that Committee as they had ever been able to make in that House. Why, then, did the Committee reject their conclusions? Because they were convinced, by independent and impartial testimony, that the proposed restrictions would work badly in Ireland; and, secondly, because they had ample evidence that these restrictions would be regarded by the working population as hostile and insulting to them. He should now lay before the House a few of the most material points of evidence on each of those heads, quoting from the Report of the Select Committee of 1868. Mr. Francis Lyons, a merchant, and at that time the Mayor of Cork, stated that, in his opinion, it would be utterly impossible to stop the sale of intoxicating drinks altogether in Cork; that the middle class would feel the total closing of public-houses on Sunday a great hardship; and that such a measure would lead to a worse state of affairs than then existed, by the creation of she been houses to a very large extent. Mr. Thomas Hamilton, resident magistrate of the City of Cork, gave somewhat similar testimony as to the hardship upon the people of the total closing of public-houses on Sunday, but at the same time recommended that the hours for keeping them open should be limited. He should next refer to the evidence of Mr. Porter, a gentleman of great ability and experience, who had held the office of po- 334 lice magistrate in Dublin for over 20 years. Mr. Porter expressed a strong opinion against the principle of restriction in the liquor traffic. He believed that if the public-houses were closed in the extensive division he had to deal with in Dublin, there would not be less intoxication or less cases before the magistrates on Monday morning. He thought that if the public-houses were shut completely there would be an enormous amount of illicit traffic carried on which no police could detect or stop. He also stated that within his memory there had been a great improvement in the habits of the people, and. he ascribed their greater sobriety to the progress of civilization and self-respect. Mr. Porter relied more on moral suasion and religious influence to promote temperance among the people than to the operation of any Act of Parliament, and considered that proper surveillance of public-houses, and making the owners responsible for their management, would be far more effectual than any restrictions on the hours of opening. The next witness whose testimony he should cite was the Very Reverend Canon M'Cabe, a distinguished Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, who had had a very large experience of parochial duty in Dublin. At the time of his examination before the Committee he was parish priest of Kingstown, but he had previously been connected with, other parishes both in the City and suburbs of Dublin. Canon M'Cabe stated that drunkenness had decreased in the last 20 years, which he attributed to the better instruction of the people both in religion and in secular knowledge. The working classes also were better off than formerly, and he thought drunkenness among them would decrease as their comforts increased. Having considered the question he would not, from his experience of Dublin and Kingstown, recommend the total closing of public-houses on Sunday. He had reason to know that there was a very considerable amount of drinking on the Sunday morning in the City of Dublin during the prohibited hours, arising from the illicit sale of drink. The result of Canon M'Cabe's evidence was that the restrictions then in force did not prevent drinking on Sundays, and that, judging from his experience, the Bill then before the Committee would not effect that object. Mr. John Lewis O'Farrall, who for many 335 years held the important office of Chief Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, was also examined before the Committee. Mr. O'Farrall had been requested by Lord Mayo to report on the Bill; and in his Report he said—With regard to the Bill now before Parliament for reducing the hours during which public-houses may keep open on Sunday, the Commissioners fear that the measure, as now framed, would not be effecting the object it has in view.They were of opinion that the effect of such a measure in Dublin would be to aggravate the evil of Sunday traffic, and lead to a great amount of illicit drinking. Such was the evidence given before the Select Committee of 1868 by the most competent and unimpeachable witnesses as to the improbability of anything like total Sunday closing working well in Ireland. He had not referred to the evidence of any of the witnesses who might be disposed to speak either for the working classes or for the licensed victuallers. Upon that evidence the Select Committee came unanimously to the conclusion in favour of the hours for opening public-houses in Ireland which were now established by law. He would only say in conclusion, while thanking the House for its very great indulgence on that occasion—an indulgence which during the long period he had had the honour of a seat in that House he had rarely trespassed on at any great length—that he protested against the Bill as grossly unfair to the people of Ireland, and that he particularly objected to the attempt to hurry it through the House at that late period of the Session, to the detriment of Public Business, and. to the great inconvenience of the Members of that House.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day two months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Maurice Brooks,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ASSHETON
said, he should address himself to one aspect only of this question—namely, that of the bonâ fide traveller. He believed it was that diffi- 336 culty which would ultimately upset the practical working of this measure if it became law in it present form. He did not believe that one in ten of the persons who had signed Petitions in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill had any idea that it would leave the public-house open to everyone except those who lived within a certain distance of it—that there would be no difficulty in a man getting as much drink as he liked if he only walked a distance of three miles to get it. That was a nuisance from which people in the country districts of England suffered at present; and no doubt if this Bill became law the people of Ireland would suffer likewise. He knew that in Lancashire it was the practice in the large towns to form what were called Omnibus Clubs, to enable their members to go into the country in order to drink at the public-houses outside the three-mile district, which they were enabled to do by calling themselves bonâ fide travellers, the result being that the Sundays were turned into days of drunkenness and debauchery. While the Bill reserved the rights of the bonâ fide traveller, it appeared to him that they were overlooking the rights of those whom he should call the bonâ fide inhabitants. He meant the men who were in the habit of going to public-houses near their homes, either for the purpose of drinking in moderation, or of carrying away drink to be consumed in their own homes. He could not say that drinking was in itself wrong. If they could, it would be a reason for closing the public-houses every day in the week. They must abandon that argument so long as they continued to licence public-houses. If they passed the Bill, the result would be that the unfortunate bonâ fide inhabitant would have to go without his glass of beer on Sunday, and his wife and family, who perhaps only tasted malt liquor at their meals on that day, would be obliged to forego that enjoyment, whereas the sham bonâ fide traveller would be able to drink as much as he pleased, and the result would be that that class of persons would be greatly increased. Numbers of people who were now in the habit of getting drunk at their own doors would simply go a little further off and get drunk there. The country villages in Ireland would, in point of fact, be subjected to the same nuisance as the Lan- 337 cashire villages in the present day, of having the off-scourings of the towns poured down upon them on the Sunday. He felt most strongly that if they passed the Bill in its present shape they would sacrifice the interests of the bonâ fide inhabitants, while preserving those of the bonâ fide traveller, who was a bonâ fide humbug, and nothing else. If a real and genuine Sunday Closing Bill were introduced, closing public-houses absolutely to all, it would be well worthy of their grave consideration, but he looked upon the Bill as it stood as a sham and a snare, and therefore he should vote against it.
§ DR. KENEALY
said, he supported the Bill on a plain and intelligible ground—because he believed it was the almost unanimous desire of the Irish people that it should become law. He thought the House would commit a great error, if it did not give effect to the wishes of the people in this matter. One of the causes of the discontent of Ireland was that that House did not give effect to the wishes of the Irish people, and they would take a powerful argument out of the mouths of the disaffected persons in Ireland if, in this instance, they gave effect to what was the almost universal desire of the people of that country. There was another strong reason why he supported this Bill—namely, that it had the support of nearly all the Scotch Members in that House. Scotland had long had experience of the benefits of Sunday closing, and the Scotch Members, to their honour, had almost unanimously united with their Irish brethren in demanding that the law which had so much benefited their own country should be extended to their fellow-countrymen in Ireland. He did not often care to interfere in Irish questions, because he thought the Irish Members were best qualified to pronounce an opinion on those subjects, and whenever he had heard an Irish question discussed in that House, he had found it discussed with a knowledge, a temper, and a patriotism that reminded him of the glorious days of their ancient Parliament. The voice of the majority of the Irish Members, representing no doubt the majority of the people was in favour of this measure, and he asked why should not the Irish people be allowed to have their own way in a matter of this kind, on which they had set their hearts? He had heard 338 nothing from the hon. Members who opposed the Bill but a repetition of the arguments which had been addressed to the House on previous occasions. It must be remembered, however, that the House of Commons had by a large and unusual majority passed a Resolution in favour of the Bill, and he thought they would be stultifying themselves if they did not now adhere to that Resolution, the passing of which he believed gave the greatest possible satisfaction to the people of Ireland. One hon. Member said, that this Bill would have the effect of encouraging drinking on the sly; but if they were to have drinking on the Sundays he certainly should prefer drunkenness on the sly to drunkenness on the open. Another argument used was that such of the Irish people as wanted to get drunk would be able to gratify that propensity on Sunday by only walking a distance of three miles. For his part he had no sympathy with the man who had no command over his passions, and he would give him no facility for indulging them, but would compel him to walk the three miles if he wanted to drink on Sunday. If drunkenness and debauchery were prevalent on Sundays in the manufacturing districts of England it was because there was no Sunday Closing Bill in England. The beneficial results of such a measure were seen in Scotland, which presented a spectacle of the most sublime character that could be conceived. Piety, devotion, religion, and everything that could adorn and beautify human nature were exhibited in that ancient nation, because of the devotional sentiment that had grown up in that country in consequence of the restrictions on Sunday drinking which had existed since the passing of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. It had been said that this Bill, if passed, would give rise to many evils, but it was not true statesmanship to legislate on prophecies of that kind. When the evils arose Parliament could deal with them, but they ought not, on account of these prophecies, to refuse to pass a measure which was demanded by the people of Ireland, and which in Scotland had produced such a salutary effect.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he should not have addressed the House on the question had not the Bill assumed a new aspect in consequence of the Amendments placed on the Paper by 339 the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland. If the Government persevered with those Amendments, they would be embodied in the Bill; and regarding the measure from that point of view, he would venture to make a few observations upon it. Everyone was in favour of having Ireland made a temperate nation, but they had to consider how far temperance would be promoted by this measure. He had had considerable experience of three Provinces of Ireland for many years, and his belief was, that if there had been gross intemperance existing in any parts of Ireland, it was in the large cities, and not in the agricultural districts. Yet, according to the Bill, if amended as the Government proposed, it was not in the cities, but in the country districts of Ireland that legislation was required to check the intemperance of the people. His experience of three counties—Tipperary, and the King's and the Queen's Counties—did not allow him to form that opinion, more especially since the hours for the sale of liquor in the small towns of Ireland had been restricted. He did not think anyone would venture to assert that drinking in the sense of extreme intemperance existed in any one of the three counties he had named. No doubt, there were occasions on which the people did indulge in intemperance, but they were comparatively rare. For weeks there was no more temperate member of society than the small agriculturist in Ireland. His mode of living was frugal, and the use of alcoholic stimulants by him was the exception and not the rule. When, however, his business brought him to fairs and markets, he was sometimes led into intemperance by the habit which prevailed of concluding every bargain with a drink; indeed, it would be idle to compare the amount of drinking which took place in agricultural districts in Ireland on Sundays to the drinking at the fairs and markets in the same neighbourhoods. But if that were so and if legislation were necessary, it was the duty of that House to direct its legislation to where there was an admitted evil, and not to introduce legislation where the evil was not admitted to exist. There were two classes of persons who supported the Bill. One consisted of men who advocated the measure with that energy and 340 purpose which always sprung from deep conviction. They believed that drinking in Ireland was the curse of the country, and that the suppression of the sale of all kinds of alcoholic stimulants was necessary for the welfare of the people. There was another class who supported this Bill from a deep conviction that the keeping of the Sabbath in the Scotch fashion—if he might use the expression—was a matter which would tend to the eternal welfare of their countrymen, and at the same time would be attended with great social advantages. He thought he was safe in stating that the agitation in favour of this Bill had been promoted by gentlemen who were actuated by the motives he had mentioned, and who regarded this Bill but as a step in the right direction. Now, everyone acquainted with Ireland could readily imagine how easy it was for able and energetic men, such as he had described, to obtain signatures to Petitions in favour of this measure. Men were often induced by their friends to sign Petitions on matters in which, though their friends were, they themselves did not feel deeply interested. He believed there were several questions in Ireland which many hon. Members of that House might regard as extremely dangerous, but in which large numbers of the Irish people felt great interest, and they would laugh at the idea of putting the Sunday Closing Bill before those questions. The number of Petitions in favour of the Bill was not therefore to be regarded as a conclusive proof of the existence of any deep feeling on the part of the people, though he was not prepared to deny that there was a strong feeling amongst a numerous class in its favour. This question had been discussed in that House from a point of view in which he declined to consider it. It had been said this was a question between the vintner on the one side and the advocates of Sabbatarianism and teetotalism on the other. There was, however, a class of people in Ireland that belonged to neither of these sections. These were the ordinary inhabitants of the country, who did not hold strict views on the subject of Sabbath observance, and who had no trade interests in the sale of alcohol. He felt that on this question as on many others a "Left Centre" policy had best be adopted. When they were con- 341 sidering a question of this magnitude the opinions and interests of these people should be considered. The only interest they ought to consider was not that of the vintner, but of the public; and if he understood that interest, it would be promoted not by the total closing of the public-houses on a Sunday, but by the early closing of those houses on Saturday nights. That was the course he would suggest. It was in the large towns that the drinking took place, but the object of the Government seemed to be to continue intemperance in the large towns, the only places which in fact needed to be legislated for. No doubt, many of the most respectable inhabitants of the counties, especially members of the Church of Ireland, and of other Protestant denominations, were in favour of Sunday closing, and no one more thoroughly acknowledged than he did the absolute necessity of respecting the religious feelings of all classes of the community, but at the same time he did not think it was necessary to a well-spent Sabbath that they should have so stringent a measure passed. Would any hon. Member assert that the Irish people were anxious to have a "Scotch" Sabbath forced upon their country? He would not say it would lead to a revolution; but of this he was sure, that it would give rise to an enormous amount of dissatisfaction, and to that rowdyism which some people said it was the object of the Bill to repress. He believed that the populace had not been considered on this question. Although they had had inquiries by Committees and Commissions, he believed there was less intemperance in Ireland of late than in the time past. He was free to confess, however, that the proper course to adopt would be to close the public-houses at, say, 8 o'clock on Saturday evening, as the great evil which existed was that their remaining open after that hour afforded undue facilities for the spending of the wages of the working classes. He protested against the large towns being excluded from the operation of the Bill, if it were to pass, as they were the only places the drinking in which would at all justify the proposing of such a measure as the present. He had not taken any part in those discussions heretofore, and he would not have taken any part then, if the Bill remained as it had 342 been originally introduced; but he would be no party to the imputation which was sought to be cast upon the agricultural districts by this amended Bill, that they required this special legislation.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
agreed with the hon. Baronet who had just sat down (Sir Patrick O'Brien) that the great evil which existed was the late hours to which the public-houses remained open on Saturday nights. An Irishman was generous at all times, but he was additionally generous when he had taken a little drink, and with his week's earnings in his pocket he was likely not only to drink himself, but to treat those whom he met at the public-house, and thus the money which ought to be handed to his wife he would very likely spend upon others. Then, having drunk on Saturday night, it was probable he would drink also on Sunday, and be unable to go to his work on Monday morning. It was true that in many places where drink was retailed, eatables and clothing were also sold, but no inconvenience would arise from that fact, as people would be led to purchase what they required on the morning of Saturday, if the evening hours were restricted. What he should like to see was an early closing on Saturday afternoons or evenings, and a restriction of the hours of remaining open on Sundays to, say, five hours. One great reason why he voted against the entire closing on Sundays was, that he believed it would not attain its avowed object of putting a stop to drinking in Ireland. Let them punish the drunkard more, but not those who had but one day in the week for recreation and amusement, and who did not even think of getting drunk. These were, however, the people they would punish if they passed the Bill.
§ MR. SWANSTON
said, that he had not heretofore expressed any opinion on the Bill before the House, but in consequence of its altered position in consequence of the probable adoption of the proposals made by the Government with the view of enabling the inhabitants of the large towns in Ireland to have the opportunity of obtaining refreshment on Sundays, while the residents of the boroughs in that country whose numbers were not equal to those in the large towns would be deprived of the opportunity of having such refreshment on 343 that day, he felt, as a Member of an Irish, borough, that he ought to express the feeling which he entertained, that the proposal of the Government in this respect was most objectionable and unfair. And this, he believed, was the view entertained, on this branch of the subject byte Representatives of the other boroughs of Ireland. They felt that before the Government had come to the conclusion that the inhabitants of Irish boroughs should thus be deprived of the means of obtaining refreshment in public-houses on the Sunday the opinions of those inhabitants ought to have been taken on the subject. This course had been adopted by the Government in respect to the ratepayers of the large towns in Ireland, and a similar course ought to have been pursued in respect to the ratepayers of the boroughs. By the clauses proposed by the Government the city of Cork, which had a population of 100,000 persons, had been excluded from the operation of the Bill, while the borough of Bandon, which he had the honour to represent, and the other boroughs in the county of Cork, which contained, in the aggregate, 60,000 inhabitants, and which were situated in large and important agricultural districts, were to be deprived of the privilege conceded to the citizens of the city of Cork in respect to refreshment on a Sunday, and this course was adopted by the Government without means having been taken to learn what were the views of the ratepayers and inhabitants of those boroughs. As he had stated previously, he considered this to be a great injustice, and he thought an opportunity ought to be afforded to the inhabitants of the towns and boroughs in Ireland, each of which contained a less population than 10,000 persons, to express their opinion on the subject. This might be done by postponing the further progress of the Bill until next Session—the opportunity being thus afforded of learning in the meantime what that opinion was. When this Bill was before the House on a former occasion, he had taken no part in respect to it. He had walked out of the House without voting upon it, and he would adopt the same course that day, in the hope that when the measure was brought forward next Session the Government would have taken means to ascertain the opinion of the inhabitants of the boroughs 344 that were to be affected by the measure.
§ MR. MARTEN
said, it was alleged that the Bill was demanded by the almost unanimous feeling of the people of Ireland, but they must draw a distinction between those who would and those who would not be affected by the measure. Those who would not be affected by the Bill were the higher classes, who remained in their houses or had recourse to their clubs, where they could obtain all they required; while those who would be affected by its operation would be the poorer classes, who had no other place to resort to on the Sunday but the public-house to obtain the refreshment they required. A reference to this point naturally suggested what occurred in London in 1855, when the present Lord Ebury, then Lord Robert Grosvenor, brought in his Bill against Sunday trading in London. At first, the effect of that Bill was not understood by the people generally; but after the second reading the people saw what would be its effect, and then commenced scenes of rioting in Hyde Park which lasted several Sundays, and showed what the feeling of the people was in reference to a measure affecting their interests. At first the measure was supposed to have had the sanction of the public, and the House of Commons agreed to the second reading without the slightest opposition. What subsequently took place—namely, the rejection of the Bill, proved that the Legislature was mistaken, and this showed how easy it was for Parliament to be misled for a time as to the tendency of public opinion. This fact proved how careful they ought to be before legislating on a popular subject like that under consideration, to see that the measure was one that would be acceptable to those who were to be affected by it. This measure, if passed, would injure the honest householder and the working man by depriving them of their dinner beer on a Sunday, and would in this way be a great hardship and injustice to that class of the community; while it would, on the other hand, encourage sham bonâfide travelling, as English legislation had done when it led to the running of bonâ fide traveller's omnibuses on the Sunday and such like expedients, by which intemperance was created rather than lessened, and which, by enabling men to go a 345 short distance from town to get that drink which they could not obtain in their own neighbourhood, increased the evils of Sunday drinking by leading to the discomfort of the wives and families of the persons who took advantage of this sham bonâ fide traveller privilege. But it had been said that the curse of Ireland was the intemperance of the people owing to the use of ardent spirits, which led, it was said, to violence and crime. But the statistics of Ireland showed that there was a great diminution of intemperance and crime in Ireland; and, if that were so, would it not be wise to let well alone? He thought he was safe in saying that a great change for the better was going on in Ireland, and this did not want to be stimulated by a measure of this kind. He judged of this from the fact that there was a large increase in the amounts deposited by the people in the savings banks, and that this increase of saving was accompanied by a considerable decrease of intemperance. He had come down to the House unprovided with any elaborate details, brutal the authorities confirmed this—that any measure which would shut up the public-houses altogether would be likely to do more harm than good. He would, however, with the permission of the House, refer to what had been said during the late Assizes in Ireland by one of Her Majesty's Judges. He told the Grand Jury that he had no confidence in a measure of this kind proving satisfactory to the country, or that it was possible to make the people sober by statute; that if they wished, to achieve that object they could only do it by educating the people, by improving the dwellings of the poor, and by the continued efforts of the clergy of all denominations. That was the testimony of a man well qualified to judge of what might be the result of legislation such as this. He would quote another piece of evidence, and that the evidence of one equally competent to form a correct judgment on the question. Mr. Payne, Lord Bantry's agent, speaking of the district in which he lived, told them that the population of it was of three classes—a town population, a rural one, and one connected with the sea. They numbered in all 30,000 people, and during the last year 311 of them had been prosecuted for drunkenness, which was at the rate for one year of one man out of every 100. With 346 these figures before him he did not see how drunkenness could be charged against the Irish people as a national sin, or that there was any reason for what he could not but call class legislation. He had also the expression of public opinion of great weight in the newspapers of the country, warning them that if this Bill should pass it would not have the effects expected from it. He would now refer to what had been said about the satisfactory working of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland. Now, all the testimony which came to him on that question went to show that, although the closing of public-houses had led to an improvement in the outer show of decorum, Sunday drinking being, by its means, concealed to a great extent from public view, yet the quantity of alcoholic drink now consumed was greater than it had been before the passing of the Act to which he had just referred. But, supposing it to be satisfactory, then he would say the habits of the Scotch people were different from those of the English and the Irish. The Presbyterian Church required the strict observance of the Sabbath, and on that day put a restraint upon everything which might look like cheerfulness and jollity. It would, then, be altogether illogical to endeavour to apply to the case of Ireland, where the people had a different mode of observing the day, a measure which might suit the more Calvinistic habits of the Scotch. They could not, in a matter of this kind, reason from the case of Scotland to the case of Ireland. Thanking the House for the patience with which it had listened to his observations, he would conclude by saying that while they were all agreed in the common object of promoting sobriety, they were all equally agreed not to adopt even for that object any measures of a tyrannical character, or that pressed upon the natural liberty of their fellow-men.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he would not have addressed the House had it not been for the speech which the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Marten) had just made in regard to Scotland. The hon. and learned Member stated that he had made particular inquiries with regard to Scotland, and said he was ready to supply the House with important facts; but after listening to him attentively he (Mr. M'Laren) had been 347 unable to find anything of the kind. No doubt there was a great deal of assertion which might help to spin out the discussion and talk out the Bill, but it did not at all help the argument. In talking about the Sabbatarians of Scotland and the intemperance of the people, a little more acquaintance with Scotland would prove to the hon. and learned Member that his facts did not exist to anything like the degree which he imagined to be the case. Even if it were true, his remarks would apply not to the Presbyterian people alone, because there was a large Irish population in Scotland, and surely they would rebel against the state of things indicated if such were the case. The Census Returns of 1871 showed that the Irish persons resident in Glasgow alone—persons born in Ireland, irrespective of children born in Glasgow—numbered 75,000, constituting a population larger than that of the city of Cork. Did they complain? Were they on the eve of rebellion? For all he knew, they were as content with the Sunday closing law as the rest of the population. They suffered all the disadvantages of other people, and yet he never heard anything about their dissatisfaction. In the city he represented (Edinburgh) there were about 9,000 persons born in Ireland, apart from children born in Scotland, and he never heard of any Irish man or woman complaining in any manner about the closing of public-houses on Sundays. A good many of them in the lower quarters of the town had licences to sell spirits, either public-house licences or grocers' licences, but he believed they were just as amenable to the law as any other class, and as well disposed to have the Sunday's rest. If they were to poll the licensed victuallers in the city he represented, and ask them whether they would be opened or closed on Sundays, they would say—"By no means have public-houses open on Sundays." Before the Scotch Act passed he had been chief magistrate of the city, and at that time went among the publicans in the low neighbourhoods to entreat them to close their houses on Sundays. He got 145 to shut up their houses voluntarily on Sundays, but in time the numbers fell off. They said if they could get a general law for the purpose they would be delighted, but that when they shut their houses and their neighbours kept open, the neighbours got not only the 348 Sunday trade but the trade of the whole of the week, because the one class were thought to be obliging to their customers and the others disobliging. The hon. and learned Member had given no facts. He said there was as much liquor drunk in Scotland on Sunday as formerly, or perhaps more. If that were the case, men would appear drunk in the streets. When men got drink they liked to go about in their tipsy state and see what was going on. The drink over-powered them when they got into the open air, and they were taken up by the police. What did the police statistics show? The police statistics were published every year, and what was the state of matters for the last 23 years since the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed? The last yearly publication was issued a few days ago. It was made up by the police and at the expense of the magistrates of Edinburgh, and from these Returns he could give the hon. and learned Gentleman some facts which it would be well for him to ponder; and if he was at a loss for facts in another discussion, these would be found accurate, and very useful. The Returns were made up in different tables. One showed the number of persons who were found drunk and incapable in the streets during the last 24 years, and he would be happy, after he had done with it, to give the hon. and learned Member his copy of the publication because he could get another. First, he would contrast the Returns now with those 24 years ago, on the subject of drunkenness, and let him remind the House that the city had not the same population then as now, but had enormously increased—more than one-fourth—and therefore, if the Act had produced no effect for good or evil, the cases of drunkenness ought to be one-fourth more in number than they were at the commencement of this table. The number of persons taken up by the police between 8 o'clock on Sunday morning and 8 o'clock on Monday in the year before the passing of the Act was 403, and if the number had increased with the population, it would now be 100 more. Now, what were the numbers last year? Forty-six in place of 403. It might be said that those who kept themselves sober on Sundays went to drink their fill on the Mondays. The table for Mondays showed that the cases 24 years ago were 776, and by increase of popu- 349 lation should now be 1,000. The number now was 268, in place of 1,000. But it might be said that if they did not go to excess on Sunday or Monday, they would give way on Saturday, and would drink an extraordinary quantity then. Having looked up the numbers in the police Returns, he found the number of cases on Saturdays 24 years ago was 1,200, and should now have been 1,500. The number now was 517. Now, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman, if he pondered over these things, would be unable to say there was more drunkenness in Scotland since the Act was passed. He could assure him, and he could assure the House, that what was called the Sabbatarian party in Scotland—men who professed to be exceedingly strict in their observance of the Sabbath—did not hold this question in their hands exclusively. He believed most of the anti-Sabbatarian people were just as willing to adopt the closing of public-houses as the Sabbatarian people. He entreated the House to pass the Bill, and if they did so he believed they would confer the greatest good on Ireland that ever had been conferred.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he would treat the Bill as if the Amendments of the Chief Secretary for Ireland formed a portion of it, for they all knew that unless those Amendments were accepted, the Bill would not be carried into law at all. If they did accept those Amendments, then he would say the Bill would not be satisfactory to anyone. A meeting which had been just held at Belfast under the presidency of the Mayor of that town to consider the matter, expressed its surprise and regret at the nature of those Amendments and declared that no settlement of this question would be satisfactory which altered the principle of this Bill. He was quite aware of the pains which had been taken by the advocates of the measure to collect Petitions in favour of it, and he quite admitted that they showed by statistics that it might lead to outward decorum and good order, but he denied that they represented what were the feelings of the people who were the most interested in the matter. The persons who signed those Petitions were such zealous friends of decorum and good order that they would even close the public-houses altogether, and he did not know if he would 350 object to that, if it were only to see how far the country would stand it. He was ready to admit that the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was working on the side of decorum, but the statistics did not carry the case beyond that. He found that whereas in Ireland the annual consumption of alcoholic drink, or its equivalent—that was to say, the consumption of all intoxicating beverages, foreign spirits, wines and brewers' drinks, calculated on the equivalent of strength to the gallon of proof spirits—was three gallons per head, it was in Scotland four and a-half gallons per head; these were the proportions of the relative consumption, notwithstanding all the reports they had received of the benefits which Scotland had derived from the closing of public-houses on Sunday. In other words, the Scotch, notwithstanding all their Sabbatarian pretensions and the rigid regulations in force drank 50 per cent more than the Irish did. That, he thought, satisfactorily disposed of the argument taken from the working of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. [Mr. M'LAREN: No, no!] He could not see how the hon. Gentleman could get over the fact that the inhabitants of Scotland, including the 70,000 Irish in Glasgow, drank the equivalent of four and a-half gallons of proof spirit per head, whereas the inhabitants of Ireland drank only three gallons. These statistics might be erroneous, but they were based on those which had been obtained from the Government by the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. Orr Ewing) for quite a different object—namely, to show what Scotland more than Ireland paid to the Imperial Exchequer.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, the figures had been already used without challenge in another debate in this House. He had taken them from the Parliamentary Report, and if they were erroneous, he was not accountable.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, there were two sets of Returns, and those which the hon. Member referred to were altogether wrong. They were Returns showing how many gallons of spirits were distilled in Scotland, and not how many were consumed. The hon. Member had given the number of gallons distilled in Scotland, but he had not taken into account that a large portion went to England.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he might make the same assertion with respect to the Irish Return; in reality the figures represented the quantities respectively entered for home consumption, but, perhaps, the hon. Member for Edinburgh wished to convey the idea that the whiskey entered for home consumption in Scotland was conveyed in bond across the border and consumed, but he apprehended this also occurred to some extent in the case of Irish spirits, and he would therefore say that while the relative consumption of proof spirit in Scotland and in Ireland was such as he had just mentioned, it in England amounted to seven gallons per head. If, then, the question whether the House should pass this Bill rested merely upon the question of the extent of consumption, he did not see what reason they could have for closing the public-houses in Ireland. It might be a good thing to close public-houses in Ireland altogether on Sunday, because that might serve as an indication of what the Irish people would stand in that direction. He held, however, that this was not a Bill to close the public-houses, but one to open them for that ubiquitous gentleman the bonâ fide traveller. He could not see on what principle it was proposed on Sunday to entirely close the public-houses in towns under 10,000 inhabitants, while they were to be allowed to keep open for certain hours on that day in towns whose population exceeded that number. There would not be any use in passing this Bill, for, as he gathered from the Belfast meeting, the moment it passed the agitation in respect to it would begin again. If it were a measure that was calculated to finally settle the question he might vote for it. He would not have spoken had it not been that he wished to dispel the utter delusion that sobriety had been promoted in Scotland by the operation of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. Whatever might be the result of this Motion he should not vote one way or the other, but leave it to the Government to get rid of the important responsibility which they had undertaken when the Chief Secretary for Ireland undertook to introduce his Amendments into the Bill.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT
said, he had been in the hope that some arrangement might have been made by which a Bill for Sunday closing in Ire- 352 land could have been carried that year; but he was sorry to say that he had not heard a single Member speak a word in favour of the Amendments placed upon the Paper by the Government, or declare that they would in the slightest respect improve the measure. He had always consistently opposed the Bill, because he regarded it as belonging to that class of measures which, as an interference with personal liberty, were objectionable. At the same time, he admitted that there was a strong feeling in favour of the Bill, and when the Resolution of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth) was before the House, he did say that, as that public feeling had been so strongly expressed in favour of it, the Government ought to take the matter in hand, and see if they could not bring forward satisfactory measure. Looking to the Amendments of the right hon. Baronet he was bound to say they were not of that character which he expected from Her Majesty's Government, neither did he think they would effectually satisfy the demands of the Irish people in the matter. He quite agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) that the Bill would convey the impression that by restricting the hours only in the towns, and completely closing the public-houses in the country, the Government showed that it was their opinion that drunkenness prevailed more largely in the country than in the towns, or that there was an absence in the country of the organization that existed in the towns to whose pressure the Government had yielded. In his opinion, if the Bill was good for the country it was equally good for the towns, and no invidious distinction should be drawn between them. He had come to the conclusion that in the present state of feeling on the part of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and at that late period of the Session, it was impossible that the measure could become law that year, and therefore he should recommend Her Majesty's Government to advise the withdrawal of the Bill now, with the view of their considering the matter carefully during the Recess, and introducing a properly-framed measure on their own responsibility next Session; treating all localities alike with respect to the Sunday restrictions. He hoped 353 his right hon. Friend, who had placed several Amendments on the Paper in reference to the Bill, whose important position in relation to Ireland gave him such ample opportunities of obtaining information, and who had already done much good service for that country, would see that the postponement of the measure at present would be more likely to promote the welfare of Ireland, and to lead to a reasonable settlement of the question, than could be hoped for at present.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
said, he was one of those who found it hard to approve the principle of the Bill, but as public opinion had not been opposed to it, in a preponderance, in his constituency, he had always abstained from recording a vote against its principle, resting satisfied with an expression of his views. He believed that the reality of the legislation had come on the people of Ireland by surprise, and he thought it desirable that it should be withdrawn for the present, in order that his constituents might have time for expressing their opinion on it by next Session. For his own part, he believed that the persons to be consulted on this question most carefully, were the masses whose personal liberty would be interfered with by the measure, not the upper and middle classes of society; not the priests, parsons, and householders, but the artizans, who had neither families nor homes. It was the absence of other amusement that drove these men into the public-houses on a Sunday, and if the public-houses were closed, these men would have no other occupation on Sunday but to lounge at the corners of the streets. Such men were not in the habit of expressing their opinions in a constitutional manner, and that was one reason why so little opposition had been heard to the Bill. They had not petitioned in any great numbers—first, because, as he thought, they did not regard the proceedings of the agitation as anything more than a counterpart of the Permissive Bill agitation, and they thought the Bill too absurd to become law, believing it to have been brought forward by a few Dissenting ministers and agitators in support of a crotchet. When it was found, however, that it was seriously intended to pass such a measure these people would see that the time had arrived for them to speak, and they 354 would probably manifest their opinion on the matter during the Recess. Such opposition as there had been to the Bill had been got up by the licensed victuallers, and in consequence of their indiscreet language with regard to the National Party in Ireland, the people had declined to take part in it. That, however, could not be taken to express their assent. He asked that some time should be given to the people, on whom the measure had, he believed, come by surprise, to consider some of the grave questions suggested by the measure. There were many such problems which would now, for the first time, be considered with the certainty of legislation affecting the people. There was the effect of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland. The hon. Member for Fife-shire, in a speech made in that House, shewed that crime and intemperance had increased in Scotland, notwithstanding that Act. Then there was the question whether "Sunday closing" would not promote home drinking, which would involve, if it occurred, the spread of drinking among women, and bad example to children in their own homes. Then, there was the question whether illicit drinking would increase, and on that subject the police had given testimony unfavourable to the measure. Another question struck him forcibly. The effect of the measure would be to call the aid of the secular arm to help the Catholic Church in teaching morality to the people. That duty the Catholic Church had discharged admirably during centuries, when the secular arm was against and not with her. If her authorities determined to support the measure in its entirety that would be the first instance in which they had sought the assistance of that arm; but he would bow to their decision, because they had guided the people of Ireland with such safety that they were entitled to be obeyed on the subject. But for his part, most clergymen to whom he had spoken seemed to him to have supported the measure rather with a view of restricting the hours than procuring total closing. He did not, however, assume to speak on their behalf, or as their representative. But it would not be unreasonable to allow the great issue he had pointed out to be considered. He appealed to the great supporters of the movement, who were certain of valuable 355 reforms, to sacrifice to prudence, to pause in their victorious course, and to allow the grave question of the expediency of total closing to be considered during the Recess. If they were right in their estimate of popular opinion, it would only delay their victory a few months. He approved of the Amendments of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary, because they would give the large towns, where the problem was confessedly more difficult, to see the effect of the measure on the rest of the country. He did not mean to guarantee that any considerable opposition would be raised during the Recess to the Bill. He merely wished to let the people know that they could now consider its merits. For this purpose he would vote against going into Committee that day, but he wished it to be clearly understood that whatever his own conviction might be, his vote was not to be taken as his view on the principle of the Bill.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, he strongly objected to the Government Amendments, as being most unjust and one-sided, and he had been waiting to hear some arguments in favour of them. He failed to understand why, as proposed in those Amendments, in towns of 10,000 inhabitants, the public-houses should be open and people allowed to drink, while in towns of 9,000 they should be closed and the people debarred from doing so. Were the heads or the stomachs stronger in the one than the other, or was there any impression that before affecting the large towns there should be an experimentum in corpore vili? He was opposed to legislation of the kind proposed, and although he believed excess in drinking to be the greatest vice that could be, yet he did not believe in the principle of making men sober by Act of Parliament. Much as he valued the lessons of temperance, he valued the freedom and liberty of the subject more, and should therefore vote against the Bill; but he should like to hear the opinions of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the subject. He (Mr. Sandford) submitted that the hon. Member who had charge of the Bill should not now proceed further with it, and that he should leave the matter in the hands of the Government. At the same time, if the Government introduced next Session a measure based upon the extraordinary principles which were embodied 356 in their present Amendments, he would give to it the most determined opposition.
§ MR. E. COLLINS
said, that up to the present time he had not in any way agreed with the views of his hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth), and up to the present time he had not taken any part in the discussions in that House on the Bill. He had been anxious to hear the opinions of the people of Ireland, and that was the reason for his not having taken any part in the discussions. He respected the opinions of those hon. Members who had spoken on the Bill, and also those of a large proportion of the Irish people in reference to the measure; but he had seen on a recent occasion, when the measure was before the House, that the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland had said that he accepted its principle, and would introduce some Amendments in it which he hoped would be acceptable to the people of' Ireland. He (Mr. E. Collins) had in his lifetime been as zealous an advocate of temperance as any hon. Member could be, and it was his desire to see a useful and effective measure passed that Session if possible; but he could not believe that the measure now before the House could be accepted by the people of Ireland, who were not prepared for it as a satisfactory settlement of the question. He would like to ask the hon. Gentleman the Mover and the advocates of the Bill if they had really thought of the hardship the shutting-up of the public-houses all Sunday would inflict upon large classes of industrious, hard-working people whose avocations in many places made a resort to them absolutely necessary? In the interest of the town which he had the honour to represent (Kinsale), he desired to state the effect which such a measure would have in relation to its inhabitants. The town was a great fishing station, to which, at certain times of the year, fishing-boats came to the number of 450, and each boat averaging eight people, gave a total of 3,600 engaged in the fishing trade, and a considerable proportion of them were Irish. Now, those industrious people were accustomed to have their beer, and on the only day on which they could rest, this Bill would, if passed into law, prevent them from getting it. In their case such a Bill as this would prove a source 357 of not only great hardship and inconvenience, but would absolutely be productive of evil, and probably promote the acquisition of drinking habits where they did not exist. If they were prevented from getting a glass of beer or porter, they were not likely to drink water to their dinner; and they would be driven, if they did drink water, to mix that water with whiskey, a beverage in which, at present as a whole, they did not indulge. Was that a desirable result of legislation? In the interest of those poor fishermen he protested against a measure which appeared to him only calculated to promote illicit drinking and a change in their habits, which must lead to vice. He had no doubt that the supporters of the Bill were anxious for the elevation and improvement of the people of Ireland; but while there was so much difference of opinions to the particular mode in which they proposed to effect their object, while there were so many conflicting statements as to the wishes of the Irish people themselves, he earnestly appealed to them that they should at all events accept in principle the Amendments which had been proposed, so that some conclusion might be arrived at that year, and that they might have a Bill which would last for a period of three years, during which time there would be full opportunity for further considering the question. If the measure was found to be a bad one, it could be repealed; and if it turned out a good one, then it could be extended. He appealed, also, to the opponents of the Bill, not to embarrass the Government by pressing their views too hardly upon them. If some arrangements, however, were not come to which would give a chance of legislation being carried that year, he should feel it his duty to vote against a measure which, as it stood, seemed to him to be unworthy of the political leaders of Ireland, and which, if passed, would cause great inconvenience, especially in the large towns, without lessening drunkenness.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that he should not go into the general question as it had already been fully discussed. He had shown, on a previous stage of the Bill, that the Government had no wish to defeat its progress by delay, and he should have preferred, if possible, to postpone giving reasons for his Amendments until 358 they were in Committee upon the Bill. After the remarks, however, which had fallen from some hon. Members, and especially from the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Sandford) and the hon. Baronet the Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) it would not be possible for him to allow the debate to be concluded without stating the reasons which had induced him to place his Amendments on the Paper, and explaining the policy of the Government with regard to this measure. In speaking on the original Motion of the hon. Member for Derry, he expressed his doubts as to the views embodied in it being supported by the people of Ireland; and he further doubted if what was proposed would have the effect of stopping drunkenness. This debate had shown that there was no little want of unanimity among the Irish Members in reference to the Bill that was before the House; but, as the Motion of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. R. Smyth) for total Sunday closing was carried by a large majority against the proposal of the Government for simply limiting the hours of Sunday trading, the Government felt bound to accept the decision of the House on the principle, but with the understanding that they would propose in Committee such limitations of its application as appeared to them necessary. It was for that reason he had placed his Amendments on the Paper. It had always been admitted, even by the advocates of Sunday closing in Ireland, that the difficulty of carrying their proposal into effect would be in large towns rather than in the country at large. The police Returns as to those towns showed that a very large number of the inhabitants made use of public-houses on Sunday, and that therefore the adoption of the measure would in such places be a considerable interference with the habits of the inhabitants. They must also not forget that among the comparatively few Irish Members who opposed the measure were the Representatives of the largest towns, including Dublin, Cork, and Waterford; that neither of the hon. Members for Limerick had ever supported it; and though the hon. Members for Belfast were in its favour, yet, from a meeting which had been held in that town the other day, it appeared that a very large proportion of those classes who would 359 be most affected by the Bill were opposed to it. That being so, what had the Government to consider? Having accepted the principle of the Bill, they had to consider to what extent and for how long that principle should be applied. The police Returns showed that in the large towns total Sunday closing would be attended with very considerable risk, not so much of riot or violence as of widespread evasion of the law. It was therefore thought advisable that they should proceed tentatively, and apply the Bill at first in the country, merely shortening the hours of opening in the larger towns. This was no departure from the principle of the Bill, for Ireland was not a country of large towns, and the towns which would be affected by his Amendment had only 836,000 inhabitants, while the population left under the Bill would be about 4,500,000. It was clear, therefore, that the Bill, if amended as proposed to by the Government, would still affect Sunday closing in the case of the large proportion of the population of Ireland. It was said by the hon. Baronet the Member for King's County that this was a slur upon the country population; but he had never heard such a view taken, of the present law, under which, both in England and Ireland, the hours during which public-houses were open were shorter in the country than in towns. In his view, the question was mainly one of public convenience; and he, therefore, thought the limitation he had suggested would be only reasonable, safe, and right in the event of the Bill becoming law. They had proposed also to limit the Bill as to time, because they regarded it as an experiment; and thought that during the three years of its duration there would be time for collecting information, and for deciding whether its operation should be extended, diminished, or abandoned. If it was successful, the hon. Member opposite (Mr. R. Smyth) could come to that House with his case strengthened, asking for a still further extension of Sunday closing. He denied that the case of Scotland, referred to by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), helped the promoters of the Bill. The fact that Sunday closing was success in Scotland did not show that, therefore, it would be a success in Ireland, for it should be recollected that 360 before the passing of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act there were in. Edinburgh 974 public-houses, of which 490 only were open on Sunday, so that a large proportion of the public-houses had themselves voluntarily put the principle in force before the law existed. It was very different in Ireland. In spite of six-day licences, and the pressure brought to bear in favour of them, very few of such licences were taken by the publicans in large towns there. There was, therefore, a considerable difference in the circumstances connected with the two countries. With respect to the Bill, he himself most sincerely hoped that they would be allowed to go into Committee, and that the Amendments he had placed on the Paper would be accepted. If that were done he believed that it would be possible even in this Session to pass the Bill, and thus enable a fair experiment to be made of the proposal which had been adopted by the House.
§ MR. S. MOORE
said, he thought there was a mistake in supposing that the Bill was very generally wished for in Ireland. There had no doubt been many Petitions presented in its favour, but these Petitions had been got up by a society whose express business it was to do so, and many of them came from England, Wales, and Scotland, and could in no sense whatever be held to represent the feelings and wishes of the Irish people. He admitted the evils of excessive drinking, but he did not see why Ireland should be singled out for such an arbitrary measure of class legislation. He looked upon the measure as an unjust and unreasonable interference with the habits of the poorer and industrious classes, while it left the richer classes untouched. He hoped that the hon. Member who had charge of the Bill would withdraw it; but if the Bill went into Committee he would vote against the Amendments of the Government, and if the Motion were pressed to a division he would vote for the rejection of the Bill.
§ MR. CALLAN,
in supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. Brooks), expressed his regret that the promoters of the Bill had not carried out what was generally felt to be the authorized suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham 361 when he invited the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary to place his Amendments upon the Table. It was then generally understood that if that were done, so as to afford the people of Ireland during the Recess an opportunity of considering the proposals of the Government, the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth) would not proceed further with his Bill. On that belief many of the opponents of the measure took their departure. One hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford he (Mr. Callan) might say had shaken the dust of this Pagan city off his feet. The junior Member for Louth, the Member for Drogheda, and others had left for Ireland in full confidence that the House, with characteristic fair dealing, would prevent this Bill from being carried through in the absence of the Irish Members at that late period of the Session. But as the supporters of the Bill had not redeemed this implied promise, and as they were now determined at all hazards and under all difficulties to force the Bill on an unwilling House and an unwilling country, he thought it desirable that the House should fully understand what the opinion of Ireland was upon this point. A great deal had been said about Petitions, but before they were heard of, a kind of pocket pistol was presented at the head of the Irish Members in the form of an "electoral requisition." He had had the honour of representing Dundalk since 1868, and notwithstanding a determined Whig opposition at the last Election, he was returned free of expense as the avowed opponent of Sunday closing. He supported the Permissive Bill on the same principle that he opposed Sunday closing, as he wished to give each district the option of carrying a law approved by the inhabitants. He had been informed by a prominent supporter of the Alliance that he supported the Sunday Closing Bill in the interests of the artizan population and of the employers of labour, because the firm of Sir John Brown and Co., of Sheffield, with which he was connected, employing 7,000 hands, lost £35,000 in consequence of the drunkenness of the employés on Monday morning. But that was no reason for applying this Bill to Ireland, where an employer in a neighbouring town to his (Mr. Callan's) told him that not one of his 1,000 hands was ever late 362 on Monday morning; and he was authorized by the junior Member for Cork (Mr. Goulding)—who had been obliged to leave for Ireland in order to receive in a befitting manner, with his constituents, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—to state that the 7,000 people employed by his firm were as regular in their attendance on Monday morning as when they came on Saturday evening to receive their wages. If such was the state of affairs, it was evident that the argument founded on the alleged drunkenness of the artizans of Ireland was founded on incorrect information furnished to Members on false pretences. As to the Petitions he had presented, one was from his own town, signed by 2,100 inhabitants, as well as an electoral pocket-pistol signed by 264 electors. He was returned for Dundalk unpledged on this question; but if he had the slightest doubt as to the opinion of his constituents, he would not think of voting; but he was confident that when the people of Ireland saw that there was some chance of this Bill being passed unless they spoke out openly, their answer would be one of hostility to the Bill. There were, however, Petitions against the Bill. He was surprised that the Society for Sunday Closing in Ireland, who had exhibited so much wisdom, caution, and cleverness in their manipulation of the Bill and the Petitions in its favour, should have allowed their English assistants to run a muck in getting up Petitions; for on examination he found that the Petitions in favour of Sunday closing were from almost every town and Body which, in an earlier part of the Session, petitioned for the suppression of Monastic and Conventual Institutions. That was a fact which the people of Ireland ought to know. Would the hon. Member for Londonderry or any of his supporters rise in his place and say that the wishes of the people of Ireland were to be represented by Bodies which had presented Petitions against the dearest and most revered institutions of their religion? Again, he found that the Petitions from Ireland in 1869 against the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Protestant Church in Ireland emanated from the same Bodies that now asked for Sunday closing. At considerable trouble he had gone through the newspapers in the last two years to see the addresses 363 issued by the different Members for Ireland when wooing their constituents. The Address of the hon. Member for Londonderry was an able production, but he failed to find in it the slightest reference to the burning question of Sunday closing. Neither did the addresses of the defeated candidates allude to it. Since the present Parliament met, hon. Members had addressed their constituents, but they made no reference to that question. For example, the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. B. Whitworth), one of the most respected supporters of the movement, mentioned in his address Home Rule, amendment of the Land Laws, reform of the Grand Jury Laws, amelioration of the condition of the Irish people, and a number of other interesting topics, but he did not make the slightest allusion to Sunday closing. Yet, if the Irish people felt so very strongly on this point, would not some allusion have been made to it in these addresses? He heard a challenge made to one of the Members for Cork County that he should resign his seat with his Colleague, and both appeal to their constituents on the two "burning questions" of the day—Sunday Closing and Home Rule; and he offered to bet the amount of his election expenses that the opponent of Home Rule would be routed with disgrace, but the opponent of Sunday Closing and the advocate of Home Rule would be returned. During the Recess that would be a very good way of ascertaining the opinion of the people of Ireland. If the hon. Member for Londonderry would resign his seat, and test the question, if he came back, he would return with renewed authority, and, if not, he would be regretted by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. Much had been said about the united phalanx from Ulster. He believed every Ulster Member voted in favour of this Bill. During eight years he had taken part in every division on any measure of a coercive character relating to Ireland, and on every occasion he had seen the Ulster Members go into the Lobbies with the supporters of those measures, except in the present Parliament, which included Members who had won seats on the Liberal side. He thought both sides had gone rather wide of the mark in their prophecies as to the beneficial or injurious effects of this measure, as was shown by two car- 364 toons in a Dublin publication, called Zosimus, depicting the results of Sunday closing in domestic life from opposite points of view. During the last year he had visited the City of Dublin, and gone round to the public-houses on Saturday night and Sunday to see for himself the character of the people assembled there. He found them just the same as in clubhouses and private society—mixed and middling; good, bad, and indifferent. He had consulted the artizans, and he knew that their opinions were well expressed in some of the newspapers, which represented, more than many hon. Members in that House, the opinions of the people. They objected to the Bill as being opposed, to the wishes of the Irish people. With reference to legislating in accordance with the wishes of the people, of which they had heard so much, he would remind the House that at 9 o'clock on the previous night one of the Ulster Members, the senior Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) got up in his place under the shadow of the Speaker's Chair and directed attention to the fact that there were not 40 Members present. Considering the importance of the question which was to be discussed, that act did not show true regard for Irish interests. And when the Division Lists were examined it was seen that, with the exception of two respected Presbyterian Members—the Members for Londonderry and Cavan Counties—the Ulster Members to a man either absented themselves or voted against what the hon. Member for Londonderry would admit to be the overwhelming opinion in Ireland in favour of amnesty. The Ulster Members, particularly on the Conservative side of the House, were most ready to talk of yielding to the public opinion of Ireland upon coercive measures or questions which ran in the same groove as their own ideas, but they treated the opinions of the people in the other Provinces with unmerited contempt. But both the Members for Cork County might be regarded as opponents of the Bill, as well as such Representatives for large and influential populations as the Members for Youghal, Kinsale, and Mayo. By meeting together on Sundays the people enjoyed opportunities for the interchange of opinion which tended to foster a national and independent spirit; and he would ask whether any hon. Member present, unless he belonged to the Per- 365 missive Bill Association, would venture to propose such a measure as that for London? From a report of a meeting at Belfast on Monday, "held by order of the mayor"—a military style adopted in Belfast which would commend itself to the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (General Shute)—at which a series of resolutions were adopted against the Government Amendments, he perceived that it was the Sabbatarian spirit which prompted the supporters of this Bill. As regarded the demoralizing effect of the restrictions proposed by the legislation now before the House, he would only refer hon. Members to the case of Scotland, where similar legislation was already carried out. He would only say that if applied to Ireland the result would be to breed amongst the people a feeling of contempt for the law and its administrators, and—
And it being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.