Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [27th June], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee on the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill); and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is not expedient that the provisions of this Bill should be extended to the whole of Ireland,"—(Mr. Murphy,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
rose to a point of Order. He wished to ask the Speaker whether the hon. Member for Londonderry, having already addressed the House, it was competent for him to speak again in the same debate; certainly he had spoken, though briefly, 690 when moving the Order for proceeding with the consideration of the Bill in Committee.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Londonderry has not spoken on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), and he is therefore quite in Order.
§ MR. RICHARD SMYTH
I rise to address the House for a few minutes at great disadvantage, for I feel that whilst time in the long run is fighting on the side of this Bill, the sand-glass of to-day is exhausting itself at my expense, and every moment I occupy I am giving comfort to my opponents. But, as it has been formally announced that persistent talk is to do for the Bill a work which fair argument cannot do, I may as well appropriate to myself a few minutes of the time upon which an unreasoning set has been made. I have often during my life heard of the tyranny of majorities; but I had to come into the House of Commons to learn what is implied in the tyranny of minorities. Sir, I perceive that there is a determination that minorities shall dictate to this House, and that the will alike of the country and of this House shall be thwarted and defied by a combination of Members, who, worsted in argument and in division, betake themselves to the tactics of despair, and pursue a course which, if persevered in much longer, will reduce Parliamentary government to an absurdity. My hon. Friend the Member for Cork, in that admirable speech which he delivered on Wednesday—admirable for its purpose, because it was length that was required—was particularly copious in statistics; and so profound was the impression produced by his figures that the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) was instantaneously converted by them, according to his own confession. I hazard the opinion that this is the first instance in the history of the English Parliament in which an experienced and venerable English statesman was suddenly converted from the error of his ways by a sheet of police statistics read by an Irishman for the purpose of talking out a Bill. Having so flexible a mind as that of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield to deal with, I should not wonder if he will be converted back again before this debate closes. I am sure, if statistics will do 691 it, we have the means ready at our hand. But was the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield ever an advocate for Sunday closing? He made a speech on the 12th of July last year against the second reading of the Bill, and read a lecture, first to the Government, and next to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), for giving any countenance to the measure; and yet on Wednesday he got up and told us that he had been convinced by the statistics of the hon. Member for Cork. The hon. and learned Member bases his claim to have been considered friendly to the Bill on Wednesday morning last by the circumstance that he voted for the postponement of the Standing Orders that the Sunday Closing Bill might come on for discussion. Yes, he did so; and I have been obliged to rebuke some suspicious people for saying that the hon. and learned Gentleman gave that vote because he had come down to the House to make a speech against the Bill, and could not have made it all if the Orders of the Day had not been postponed. I have had to defend the hon. and learned Member against these imputations, and it was about as difficult a task as I ever undertook. Sir, the hon. and learned Member never was, I believe, an advocate for Sunday closing in the whole course of his life; and the idea that was in his mind on Wednesday that he had been suddenly convinced and converted by the Irish logarithmic tables of the hon. Member for Cork, I must regard as nothing else than a ease of political self-delusion. And what was the nature of these statistics? Why, it is found that there are fewer arrests for drunkenness on Sundays in Ireland than on other days of the week, Saturday in particular; and he draws the inference from this that there is less drinking on Sundays than on other days. My hon. Friend the Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) pertinently reminded the House that there are fewer hours for getting drunk on Sundays, only one-half the usual number. But I can assign additional reasons for the difference. We had it in evidence before the Select Committee that the persons arrested are generally the habitual drunkards, and as they are captured in large numbers on Saturday night, they are already in the lock-up on Sunday. Besides, it was 692 stated to us that no one is arrested for merely getting drunk. He must also be disorderly or incapable to subject himself to arrest. We were also told that friends look after drunken friends on Sundays more vigilantly than they do on other days of the week, being more at leisure. We have no means of knowing the exact proportion of young men or young women who escape arrest just because they are able to walk or are in charge of friends, or are not creating disorder in the streets. Sunday is not the habitual drunkard's day, for he is generally in gaol on Saturday night; but it is the day young men and young women, of whom the police take little notice, are exposed to special temptation, and when the seeds are sown which bear fruit in the demoralization of their after-life. Sunday is the tippling day of the young; it is not the day of revel for the drunkards. Honest working men and their wives have frequently expressed to me their wish that this Bill might pass. Why? Because their children frequent the public-houses on Sunday. These police statistics which had such an elevating influence on the mind of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield give us no criterion of the havoc made in the morals of the young during the drinking hours on Sunday. I have not done with the statistics of the hon. Member for Cork. He ventured into another field, and undertook to analyze the votes of Irish Members on this question. He prefaced this part of the subject by an attack upon the officials and members of the Irish Sunday Closing Association. The hon. Gentleman is incapable of saying anything which he does not believe; but, nevertheless, he said things which are not true, and he said other things which he could not know to be true. He asserted that the United Kingdom Alliance supplies funds, I think he said to the amount of £250,000. [Mr. MURPHY: No, no!] Well, at all events, that they were closely connected with the Irish Sunday closing agitators. If that were so, there would be nothing to be ashamed of. But, Sir, if my hon. Friend's memory were a little more impartial in the marshalling of facts, he would not have fallen into a mistake which is only to be expected in blunted minds. This very allegation was made the subject of a searching inquiry by the hon. Member himself in the Select Com- 693 mittee, and it was denied, disproved, and solemnly repudiated in every form of language that could be conceived in reply to the hon. Member's own questions. I listened with astonishment as he retailed these unfounded and disproved allegations; and I confess that my wonder was intensified as I contemplated that marvellous versatility of memory whereby he could remember some things so well and forget others so easily. My hon. Friend is scandalized at the selfishness of the officials of the Irish Sunday Closing Association. I am unable to follow the hon. Gentleman into these mysterious regions of human motive; but I will say that the officials of an honourable organization stand before another tribunal than the one to which they are summoned by the hon. Member for Cork, the tribunal of his own judgment. My hon. Friend, from that high region of disinterested patriotism, where he and his Followers breathe the pure air of political life, may well find it difficult to make allowance for human weakness. But I am happy to think that I now address an Assembly of Gentlemen who are willing to take me and my Friends for what we seem to be, and not for what we may be in the baseness of our own hearts. But I am almost forgetting the statistics. Now, for my hon. Friend's analysis of the Irish vote. He impugns the accuracy of the figures published by the Sunday Closing Association. They put forward 59 Members from Ireland as having voted for the Resolution last year, and two as pairing in its favour. My hon. Friend has examined the list, and can only find 51 Irish names in the Division List in favour of my Resolution. I am very sorry that he could not find more. Seventy Irish Members actually voted in the division of the 12th of May, 1876–59 for and 11 against the Motion. These were the 11 of all Ireland. He forgot to tell us anything about the 11; but as, in the course of his speech, he said so frequently that he did not like to detain the House, we must assume that when he made omissions it was simply because he was unwilling to speak longer than two hours and ten minutes. But what is the use of haggling about the Irish vote in 1876? Let us have the Irish vote in 1877. I am not afraid of it, and I challenge the hon. Member for Cork to give up his miser- 694 able policy of obstruction, and meet us in fair battle. We can soon end all controversy about the Irish vote—20 minutes will do it. But we have been told that we who support this measure do not represent our constituents. Now, I dare affirm that if there was one thing which an Irish Member is good at it is understanding his constituents; and I believe that some of us—I do not say whether I include or exclude myself—vote for this Bill, not so much because we are fanatical Sunday-closers, as because our constituents expect us to do it. You need not talk to me about knowing Irish opinion. Each Member has enough to do in keeping pace with the opinion of the people who sent him here, without troubling himself about general Irish opinion. I know my own constituents, and I shall answer for no others. Each Member will answer for himself and for those who sent him here in the Division Lobbies; and I do not believe that there is one Member from all Ireland who will go into the Lobby with me knowing that his vote will oust him at the next Election. The House may, therefore, make its mind easy about Irish opinion. The fact is simply this—those constituencies where the publican interest dominates are against the Bill; and whenever that interest or power is inappreciable the constituencies are for it—there is no opinion in Ireland against it but trade opinion, and we deny that trade as trade has anything to do with Sunday. There are 28 counties in Ireland, out of which not a single Petition has come to this House this year against the Bill. We are asked to wait another year and see what a revulsion of opinion will take place. We were asked the same last year and the year before.Man never is, but always to be blest.Our opponents never are, but always to be, supported by the country. The right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland admitted at the beginning of the Session that he had been affected last year by the prophecies of re-action from the hon. Members for Cork and Dundalk, but that he had come to the conclusion that they were not prophets at all. Ireland will speak with the same voice to-day if she gets the chance as she did on the 12th of May, 1876. I think we have a right to expect some Member of the Government to declare their intention with regard to this ques- 695 tion. Are they going to remain passive and allow this minority to override the will of the House of Commons? We had better know the worst at once, that we may shape our course accordingly. I give all fair warning that a talk-out to-day shall not be accepted by me as a final struggle on this Bill. If the minority is in despair, the majority is in earnest. I want to know whether the Government wishes this question settled? It can settle it if it pleases. Before I sit down I must glance for a moment at the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth). His patriotism and eloquence are acknowledged in all quarters of this House, and his words have always the weight which attaches by a generous paradox to a man who stands alone. I understood my hon. Friend to speak disparagingly of any attempt made by this Imperial Parliament to govern Ireland according to Irish ideas; for, as this is an Imperial Parliament, it can only take account of Imperial interests, and not allow itself to be swayed by local sentiment. When I heard my hon. Friend laying down these great and even dread principles of Imperial policy, I could not forget that I was receiving instruction from a man who has a theory of his own for breaking up the Imperial Parliament, and who, I suppose, would not be sorry to see Imperial government rendered less tolerable than it is. I have not the least doubt that he gave sound advice from his own point of view; but I am convinced it is most dangerous advice to be accepted by the friends of Imperial government. If local ideas are to be disregarded by this House, it needs no prophet to see that the days of Imperial government on a Constitutional basis will soon be numbered. I submit that taking account of local ideas is an Imperial interest. No Empire ever long survived an attempt to govern all its dependencies by one cast iron code of law. The Roman Empire, so long as it was wise and powerful, accommodated itself to the prejudices and feelings of Provinces and Kingdoms it annexed. When it reduced another and another nation under its sway it respected their local customs, and did not disdain to elevate their gods and demi-gods to niches in its temple. Its Procurators and pro-Consuls were sent to govern African and Asiatic Provinces according 696 to African and Asiatic ideas. The Sanhedrim sat at Jerusalem, it may be a little overawed, but not coerced by the sceptre of the Cæsars; and Corinth was conceded something of its local liberty. It was not until the doctrine of my hon. Friend became a dominant force in the Empire, and local ideas began to be scouted as unworthy of Imperial consideration, that the fabric fell, and out of its ruins new despotisms arose. Sir, let us beware of stretching out the limbs of Ireland until they fill the Procrustean bed of a rigid English policy, for, if we attempt this, we shall at once disable Ireland, and bring a curse and dishonour upon England. Give Ireland her way when it can do you no harm, and, if you cannot attach her people to your sway, you will at least stand out before the civilized world as a Government that did its best to justify and render tolerable its supremacy.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he had listened with great attention to the able and eloquent speech of his hon. Friend who had just sat down, in the hope that he would have adduced arguments to meet the statistics and the arguments employed by his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy); but he had listened in vain, for he had failed to discover anything like substantial argument in favour of the Bill. His hon. Friend had accused them of a persistent attempt to talk out the measure and of defying the opinion of the majority of the House. If a small minority of the Representatives of Ireland had endeavoured by such arguments as they could employ to convince the House that this was a measure which was not acceptable to the majority of the people of Ireland, he did not see how they had exposed themselves to the accusations which his hon. Friend had brought against them. Well, the hon. Member in charge of the Bill had called its opponents a little band who were afraid to meet in fair Parliamentary discussion the majority who were the supporters of the Bill. He left the House to judge of the correctness of that statement. He believed that on every occasion on which the subject had been brought forward they had endeavoured fairly and honestly, and so far as was in their power, by argument, to convince the House, and he did not despair of attaining that object. Now, he had had very considerable doubt as 697 to whether he himself would have taken a part in the discussion, until he had felt that it was an obligation incumbent upon every Irish Member who dissented from the view which had been so extensively before the House, to the effect that opinion in Ireland was unanimous in favour of the Bill, to say so. He denied that view altogether, and he was there with his Friends to say that that was not so, and that not only was the opinion of the people of Ireland not unanimous on the subject, but that a majority of all classes was opposed to it. Now, there was no doubt that it was an opposite impression to that conveyed, doubtless unintentionally, that had resulted in a conviction in the minds of hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen in the House which had induced them to give their support to the Bill. His desire was to undeceive those hon. Gentlemen who had been misled by those misstatements and misrepresentations. Now, it had been stated in the course of that debate that the minority sustaining the opposition had been led on by personal interests and considerations. For himself he must say that he had no personal interest whatever in the matter, and the only influence he was guided by was that of his own personal conviction that the Bill would be received by the people of Ireland with disfavour, and that it was a measure injurious to the happiness and contentment of the Irish people. He had stated that he himself had no personal interest in the matter, and he hoped, therefore, to be able to approach the subject unbiassed, and to examine the question solely with a view to arriving at a fair and just conclusion. Now, Ireland had a population, in round numbers, of 5,500,000. That population was divided into three classes—the upper, the middle, and the working classes. It was obvious to everybody who knew Ireland that the upper classes formed a very small section of the people. They were composed of the nobility and the landed gentry, and took a very small interest in a question of that character, inasmuch as they were, to a very small extent, influenced by its operation. Then, there was the middle class of the country; and if he might take a standard to arrive at the numerical value and power and influence of that class, he thought he could not do better than to illustrate it by the list of Parliamentary electors. What did he 698 find? Well, he found that this class, as represented, consisted of 53,590 electors in cities and towns, and 173,860 electors in counties, making 227,450 in all. Well, suppose the number were doubled, and all supposed to be in favour of Sunday closing, it left about 5,000,000 persons classed as the working classes who were to be dealt with by the present Bill. Those 5,000,000 were the people they were asked to legislate for and to restrain by Act of Parliament from partaking on Sundays of what had become the necessary of life with the great majority of them. He did not desire to say anything harsh or disrespectful with regard to those who were the supporters of this Bill, as he sympathized to a considerable extent with their object. He had himself endeavoured to advance the cause of temperance, and he could co-operate with them cheerfully up to a certain point; but he maintained that, instead of benefiting the people and the cause of temperance, they were actually promoting the reverse and bringing on a condition of things which everybody who desired the welfare of the Irish people must deplore. Well, what did those gentlemen tell them with respect to that Bill? Why, they told a tale which mocked at the people and challenged the evidences of experience and common sense. They told them that those 5,000,000 people came to them praying them as suppliants to protect them against temptation; that they acknowledged themselves to be Weak-minded people, intemperate and incapable of restraint, and that they therefore petitioned the House to close the places where they could get refreshments on Sundays in order to save them from ruin. Was that a likely condition of things? Was there ever such a libel uttered against the independence and free action of a people? Why, everyone who had taken an interest in the social condition of the people must be aware that they were striving every day more and more for freedom from restraint and liberty of action. That was a fact they must at once recognize. They saw it in every turn of life; and yet these were the people who, they were told by the promoters of that Bill, wanted Parliament to restrain and control them, and prevent the exercise of their independent judgment in matters which they believed to conduce to their own comfort and convenience. 699 Why, let them look at the labour organizations of the country. Let them see the extent to which Friendly Societies, Trades Unions, and Co-operative Associations had spread. What were they to infer from these organizations? Why, that the people were becoming self-reliant; that they understood how to work and to manage for themselves; and he believed that this Bill would be an affront and an insult to the intelligence of the people. What force was there in their arguments in favour of extending the Parliamentary franchise amongst the working classes if they were incapable of self-restraint and could not take care of themselves? He confessed he was unable to reconcile two such discordant principles, and he left the task in the hands of the supporters of the Bill. There was another point which had been alluded to by his hon. Friend, and that was the Petitions which had been presented to the House. The hon. Member dwelt a good deal upon the evidence that was supplied by the Petitions that were presented to the House either for or against the measure. Well, he had taken the trouble to examine some of those Petitions, and what did he find? He thought it would be a fair and reasonable starting-point to commence on the day of the first sitting of the Select Committee on the Bill. That was on the 23rd of February, and down to the 26th of June—the date of the last of the Petitions appearing officially before the House—he found that there were 172 Petitions from Ireland against the Bill, with 73,243 bonâ fide signatures. On the other hand, he found that there 407 Petitions in favour of the Bill, with but 44,090 signatures. But there was something stranger still, and he should like to submit to the House the manner in which those Petitions were made up. Of the 407 Petitions 103 were from places in England; 146 were from Presbyterian and Methodist congregations—that was to say, from Sabbatarians. Only 158 were from the general public in Ireland, and if he were to assume the proportion that that 158 would bear towards the 407 it would give signatures to the number of 17,000 in favour of the Bill against 73,243 against it. But he had a remarkable list of 126 Petitions presented on one day, the 8th of May, 1876, from English Methodist congregations. In addition 700 to that he had taken a list of Petitions presented last year, and amongst those he found there had been 1,200 Petitions presented by Presbyterian and Methodist congregations, and those were represented to the House as being the opinions, or as representing the opinions, of the people of Ireland on the subject. But he might say that there would have been many more Petitions presented before this year against the Bill, but for the fact that the people did not believe that the Government would consent to so galling a measure, and that there was a feeling that the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for the government of Ireland was not in favour of the principles of the Bill. The people of Ireland came to learn pretty well and pretty shrewdly what the opinions, to a certain extent at least, of the Government were upon this subject, and they argued with themselves that the Government would never permit a Bill of that extraordinary character, at least in its then shape, to pass the House of Commons. It, however, came to their knowledge that the Chief Secretary for Ireland wished to act justly, to give time for inquiry, and not to endanger the peace of the country by precipitate action and in experimentalizing on the people of Ireland to prepare for a more extensive agitation of a similar measure for England. When the people of Ireland were awakened for the first time to the consciousness that there was a determination to pass the Bill, and that the right hon. Gentleman had agreed to submit it to a Select Committee for examination, what was the result? From the 23rd of February there had been Petitions from bonâ fide signatories in Ireland, and while 73,243 petitioned against the Bill, he had shown by statistics that those in favour of the Bill amounted to something less than 17,000, and still they were told that the people of Ireland favoured a measure of this kind. It had been shown conclusively that this Bill would rather increase than diminish drunkenness; that it would create an illegal trade; that it would demoralize the people by teaching them how to break the law; and that it would familiarize wives and families with tippling in homes at present free from it. No doubt his hon. Friends desired, as far as they could, to promote the happiness and comfort of 701 the people of Ireland and to elevate their condition; but he took the opportunity of suggesting to those Gentlemen that their object would be better accomplished if they endeavoured to elevate the condition of the people by educating them. It was not the way to elevate the people of a country by passing restrictive and coercive measures. They all knew the character of the Irish people. Treat them kindly, and almost anything could be done with them. Subject them to restriction and coercion, and they knew their character. On Sunday, at present, there was only one means of enjoyment which the lower classes could have recourse to. He did not contend that it was one which, if other facilities were provided, would be either a desirable or a suitable one. But, at the same time, it must be remembered that in an agricultural country like Ireland these people came, in many cases, a considerable distance to their places of worship on Sundays. There was only one place to which they had recourse, and from that they would now be driven ruthlessly into the streets without a door open to receive them or a friend to give them welcome. The amount of drinking on Sundays was not more than one-half what it was on Saturdays, although it was the holiday of the working classes and the day when they were free to meet their friends and enjoy themselves. It was not necessary for him to dwell upon the fact that even in the places where Sunday closing was introduced it had rather increased than diminished drunkenness, and it seemed to him that if hon. Gentlemen would turn their attention to other means of ameliorating the condition of the working classes, by opening museums, picture galleries, and public gardens on Sundays, they would find ample field for their labour and exertions. He hoped the supporters of the Bill would assent to such a modification of its provisions as would considerably relax their rigid and severe character, and render the Bill acceptable to the people of Ireland.
§ MR. A. MOORE
took it for granted that the majority of the people of Ireland were in favour of the measure. Nothing could be more unreasonable than the minority. They came to the House four years after the question was first agitated, and asked them to con- 702 sider the views of the people, as if they had not been before them for the last four years. Was it not a test question at the General Election? Seven elections had been held in Ireland since then, and in every case a supporter of the Bill had been elected, and in four places opponents were replaced by promoters. Again, the Bill was carried by an overwhelming majority on its second reading; and were they to be told that all these resources and all these names, which implied so much wealth and influence, had not met in the interests of the licensed victuallers? Were they to be told that these names, that influence, and that power were not able to get up one or two meetings against the Bill? He had been told that only county Members were in favour of the Bill. He represented a borough, and he honestly believed it was the wish of his constituents that the Bill should pass. He had received from a constituency of 10,000 people a Petition in favour of the Bill signed by 2,700; and, deducting the children and those incapable of signing, that pretty well gave them every available man in the town. In the county of Tipperary some of the police districts were in the Roman Catholic diocese of Waterford and some in the archdiocese of Cashel, and in the latter drinking was prohibited by ecclesiastical authority on Sunday. Taking three Sundays in the latter diocese they found the convictions for drunkenness on those days were nil, five and three, as against 113, 57, and 46 in the other three districts. The principle of the Bill was likely to prove equally successful elsewhere when backed up by the civil power. He hoped that hon. Members would not persist in opposing the Bill inordinately, as it might result in the privileges of minorities having to be considered.
§ MR. GOULDING
said, that the hon. Member for Kinsale (Mr. Collins) had told them that the Bill was for one class of persons. He denied that altogether. The Bill was asked for by the people of Ireland. Their ministers, and particularly the Bishops, of all denominations, had asked for the Bill, and the people themselves had asked for it, and he believed it would be a more useful measure to Ireland than any that had been passed for a long time. They were told of the danger of young children being brought 703 under the influence of drink. He denied that, as children, if they drank at all, could drink with their parents when they were out. If that were class legislation, why did not the Irish people come forward at public meetings and protest against it?
§ MR. S. MOORE
said, he had formerly opposed the Bill because, like many others, he considered it an arbitrary measure, not likely to lessen drinking, and he thought most certainly would increase the illicit sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays. In opposing it, he had been in the minority of Irish Members and of the House, and though he held very strongly that the rights of the minority should be at least expressed, or have the power given to them of a full expression, he thought that a measure, seemingly of such importance, that from a private Bill it was nearly magnified into a Government measure. The small minority should bow to the whole of the majority of the House. The voice of his own country had spoken in favour of the Bill, or of a modified measure, and those of his constituents who were opposed to it had remained almost silent. He would not vote against the second reading of the Bill, but would earnestly ask the promoters of it to meet its opponents half way. He asked them not to hold out for "all or nothing," but to give its opponents, who, like himself, had no interest in the liquor traffic, credit for having equally with themselves the good of Ireland at heart. He would remind them that even in legislation a little loaf was better than no bread; and they must not forget, in pleading for restriction on behalf of the thirsty few, what were the requirements of the many who did not get tipsy on Sunday. He merely wished to ask, not for the freedom of excessive drinking, but for that liberty of legitimate thought and action which hon. Members opposite strongly professed to seek and support, and at which he thought this Bill would aim a blow, should its promoters unfortunately not concede what little was asked of them. He need hardly remind them that but little opposition would suffice at this period of the Session to bar the progress of the Bill and to prevent the attainment of the object which they all alike had in view, which was simply to ameliorate the moral and social condition of their countrymen; and he did not think that would be done 704 by a measure which seemed to him, to a great extent at any rate, a measure of coercion.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
I said last year that although I did not approve of the principles which lie at the root of this Bill, yet, as it was a social question, on which the people of Ireland had a right to think for themselves, if I found there was no strong feeling against the Bill, I would not vote against it this year. Now, looking back to the expressions of opinion which have been given during the past year, I feel bound to admit that, as regards the great body of the country—as regards the rural districts—I have come very much to the same conclusion as the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. S. Moore). I have not seen any strong, strenuous expression of opinion from the rural districts against the Bill. I have seen the continuance of the same feeling which previously existed in the rural districts, as far as we are able to judge, by the ordinary expressions of opinion, in its favour; and bowing to that opinion, I do not intend this year to go into the Lobby against the Bill, provided that I see that the Bill will be presented to the country with such modifications as are, in my opinion, necessary for its safe enactment and enforcement throughout the country. Except in measures connected with temperance, Parties in this House are always ready to make concessions. The doctrine and practice of mutual concession experience has taught us to be absolutely necessary, and it is only when we come to deal with Sunday closers and Permissive Bill Gentlemen that we find that doctrine cast to the winds. Now, we had evidence before the Committee with reference to the applicability of this measure to certain Irish towns—Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick; and, in the opinion of the majority of the civic representatives, the Bill is not applicable to these towns. The vast preponderance of the evidence of officials, magistrates, and others, having a special knowledge of the large towns was that this was a dangerous experiment to try in large communities. It is much wiser first to try it in small communities, and then afterwards, if it succeeds, apply it gradually to the larger ones. But when we came to vote on the Committee, the supporters of Sunday closing defeated us by a majority of 1, the Chief Secre- 705 tary remaining without recording his vote in the Chair. That is the position in which the question now stands, and I am speaking here for my constituents; and I am bound to be cautious in forcing any such measure on them, and to see that the experiment is tried fairly, and to give due weight to the evidence of those who come from my town. I am bound to do what I can to insist that this measure shall not be applied to my town, amongst others, too rapidly and injudiciously. Hon. Members get up and make statements, and we are told, that this is a test question. When I stood for the City of Limerick, not one word was said to me about Sunday closing, although I introduced the subject, and I said I regarded coercive measures like this as dangerous, and I would oppose it. It is stated that four out of seven by-elections have resulted in favour of Sunday closing; but is four to three anything like the preponderance of Irish opinion about which we hear so much? The hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. A. Moore) has spoken of the working man, and has said that never, except on one occasion, had he heard amongst them any disapproval of the Bill. I say that never, on any one occasion, when I have spoken to the working men in my city, have I heard them express approval of it. I have heard grievances dilated upon; I have heard that it was a hardship in Limerick that the club should be open for the county gentleman and wealthy citizen, while the public-houses were closed to the poor man, and I have heard murmurs of discontent at class legislation. Let me warn the House that if they give strength to the idea of class legislation by going on with measures of this character, they will increase their difficulties enormously. We hear a good deal about the support of the Clergy. Yes, I know you have the Protestant Dissenting Clergy all over the country in favour of the Bill; but how about the Catholic Clergy? I believe there are 3,000 or 4,000 Catholic Clergy in Ireland, and only 827 have signed the Memorial in favour of the Bill. I believe that many of the best friends of temperance would be perfectly willing to accept a modified measure to advance the cause, and they are by no means anxious that it should be forced upon those localities where the public feeling 706 is against it. It is brought forward as an argument that Sunday closing exists in Tipperary and in Wexford; but surely the mere fact that the Catholic Clergy have such power as to have induced that state of things voluntarily is the very best argument against any legal enactment on Sunday closing. In Limerick we have a Protestant Bishop and a Catholic Bishop, and I am certain if those right rev. gentlemen joined together and appealed to the people and the publican to close on Sundays, or a part of the day, their influence would be amply powerful enough to effect that object without insidiously adopting legal means to effect a moral purpose. The hon. Member for Clonmel spoke of the advantage of having the aid of the civil power given to the spiritual power. Now he is a Catholic, like myself, and I should like to know what he means. This is a very delicate subject to speak upon; but I feel it so strongly, looking back to the past history of the Catholic Church, that I should be untrue to my convictions and false to my duty if I did not say this—The Catholic Church has existed in Ireland under very great difficulties; but notwithstanding the opposition of the law, and every encouragement being given to the people to resist her, she has achieved in the teeth of those difficulties greater moral victories than in any other country in the world. With this history to look back upon, will any Catholic Member come down from the high pinnacle which the Catholic Church occupies in Ireland and ask for the aid of the law? For my part, I will never do it. I believe in the vitality and power of the Catholic Church, and as long as I am a Catholic I shall never vote for calling in the power of the law to teach her morals. The promoters of this Bill make a great mistake. They seem to treat human beings, not as human beings, but as dogs to be muzzled. ["No!"] They never try to elevate their tastes, they never try to create a thirst for something else besides drink—a taste for enjoyment, for literature, for education. ["Oh, oh!"] They have not hitherto done so. The hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) says they are the very people who have done so; but I can only say that if half the money which has been spent in agitating this question had been spent in education, in bringing the people together, in opening 707 club-houses, and in providing rational enjoyment for the people, they would have done far more towards reaching the gaol to which they fancy they are tending. You say this thing works well in Scotland, and why should it not in Ireland? There is this great difference—Scotland is a country where the people believe that the Sabbath is broken by keeping open a public-house on Sunday, and they regard it as a sin. Therefore, because the Scotch are rigid Sabbatarians, they closed the public-houses. If anyone doubts that view of the matter let them try to restrict the hours of drinking in Scotland on any other day but Sunday. There or some supporters of Sunday closing in Ireland with whom I have always found it impossible to reason; but during the sittings of the Committee I could not help observing, when the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth) was giving his hostile votes, a certain reluctance and an apparent desire for moderation, and I fear we did not get the full benefit of his own judgment on the question. I may say the same of the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who betrayed a disposition to spare the large towns; but he, like the hon. Member for Londonderry, was under the influence of uncompromising advocates of the Bill, which prevented him from extending the hand of moderation and reconciliation to us. Then there is the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). He is the great leader of temperance in this House, and what manner of man is he? He is a man of great ability, he is a man of an extremely agreeable style of eloquence, great geniality and benevolence; but I do not think I transgress the Rules of the House if I say he is not a man to whose opinions or to whose dicta we would entrust any great social subject in this House. I gather that from the tone in which his speeches on the Permissive Bill and other matters are received here. There is always supposed to be a vein of humour underlying those speeches, and there is a dormant suspicion on both sides of the House that the hon. Baronet, unconsciously almost, does not mean to press to extremes what he says on this subject. Well, then, what is your form of majority but a majority which consists of men who have no particular opinion on the subject? It consists of Englishmen who would be 708 opposed to such a measure in their own country; but as the people of Ireland are strongly in its favour, they would, therefore, support it. If they believe that, I quite agree with them in taking that course; but to the rank and file of Sunday closing Gentlemen I would say this—"Do as you please with the rural districts." ["No!"] Well, then, if my friends, the anti-Sunday closers, will excuse me for having made the mistake, I would say—"Do what the people in the rural districts appear to desire with regard to the rural districts; but when you come to deal with the large towns, pause before you apply to them that which the evidence which we had before the Committee shows they do not desire." I have only one word to say in conclusion. The opponents of this Bill are sometimes charged with obstruction. Now, the promoters of this Bill are, in my opinion, chargeable and answerable for any obstruction which takes place with regard to this measure. ["No, no!"] I trust the length to which I have spoken will not, at any rate, lay me open to the charge of obstruction. If it does, I can assure the House that it is not so intended. Those who advocate the Bill in its entirety decline to accept anything but the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill. As I have before remarked, it is only when you come to deal with the Sunday closing question, that the canon of the Constitution for gradual progress is set at naught and defied. They carry on an aggressive warfare which is unnecessary in this House and unusual. I wait with some interest to hear what are the views of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the important questions which were considered by the Committee. With regard to the rural districts, I bow to their decision; but as to the civic districts, let me press upon the House and upon the Government that harsh and decisive legislation would be extremely dangerous.
said, there were some 13 or 14 Irish Members who were determined to make up in the length of their speeches for the fewness of their numbers on this question. He did not include in that imputation his hon. Friend who had just sat down, and who had never to his recollection occupied a moment of the time of that House without making some contribution which 709 was useful and valuable. But what was. the task which was set to themselves by this handful of Irish Members? It was to choke upon the floor of that House the voice of their own country. ["No, no!"] He would prove the truth of the statement before he sat down. He asked those hon. Members behind him bow would they ascertain the voice of Ireland for the purposes of legislation? They had talked by the hour in that House; but had any one of them grappled with this simple proposition? What tests did they propose to apply before Parliament should legislate upon this Irish matter? Would anyone of them tell the House that he had taken the pains to ascertain Irish sentiment upon this question which the Sunday closers had taken? Why, they (the Irish Sunday closers) held the votes of the majority of Members in that House. But, said those 13 hon. Gentlemen who were against them—"The Irish Members have not always read Irish feelings." It was true there were men there voting in the minority who disregarded the will of their constituents which had been expressed and conveyed to them. Well, he admitted that they could not always represent the feelings of their constituents; but if they did not take the votes of the majority of the Irish Members, how else in any Constitutional country in the world was public feeling to be ascertained? Would they take it by the Press of the country—by public meetings in the country—by canvassers from door to door? He searched from St. Petersburg down to Algiers for any specimen of investigation of public sentiment ever pursued that they—the Sunday closers—had not pursued in endeavouring to ascertain the true mind of the country upon this subject. The minority cavilled at their system; but what had they themselves done? Where were their public meetings, their newspapers, and their canvassers? He would take those items one by one. First, the Parliamentary Representatives of Ireland in this House, by an overwhelming majority, pronounced in favour of the measure. It was a majority of every political section throughout the country —a majority of Irish Home Rulers, a majority of Irish Conservatives, a majority of Irish Liberals. Could they have such a concurrence of opinion without representing the voice and feel- 710 ing of Irishmen? Then, again, let them take the public Press of the country, which, next to Parliamentary representation, he thought might be taken to indicate the feeling of the country. Begin with the daily metropolitan Press. The Irish Times was owned by a princely Gentleman, who, although a brewer, had taken an independent stand on this question; The Freeman's Journal, owned by one whom they had lately gladly welcomed as a Member of the House; The Daily Express, the leading Conservative organ of Ireland; Saunders' News Letter, The Mail—there was not one amongst the daily journals of the metropolis of Ireland which was not in favour of the Bill. The Home Rule Freeman's Journal and the staunch Conservative Daily Express, the Saunders', the Liberal-Conservative Irish Times—all were in favour of it. Turning to the weekly journals and the national journals, which some hon. Members had tried to suppress by coercion—The Nation, The Irishman, The Flag of Ireland, The Weekly News—they were all on the same side—at all events, not one opposing the Bill. There was not a popular weekly journal in Ireland opposed to the Sunday Closing Bill. But the supporters of the Bill were charged with being Sabbatarians. Well, he was a Sabbatarian. He was taught at the knee of his mother, and by the lips of his clergyman, and by the faith of his Church to be a Sabbatarian. He thanked God he belonged to a country which was a Christian land, and when the word Sabbatarian was used to him in scorn he hurled it back in the teeth of those who used it. God forbid the day should ever dawn on Ireland when the Sabbath would not be religiously kept. Those who promoted the measure were also called monomaniacs and fanatics; but who enlisted him (Mr. Sullivan) in the ranks of the cause? Why, the Catholic Archbishop of Cashol. Ah ! he heard an hon. Member for a borough, who once represented the county of Tipperary, once say that when he wanted a friend he found Patrick Leahy, the ever-lamentod Catholic Archbishop of Cashel, a true friend in need, in many senses besides political; and the other day that same hon. Member (the O'Donoghue) came here and stamped his foot on the grave of that departed Prelate, and called him a fanatic and 711 a monomaniac. In listening to the speeches of those who opposed the Bill on the ground that the liberties of the people should be protected, they must not forget that this measure of Sunday closing had been voluntarily adopted in Tipperary and in "fighting "Wexford," whose inhabitants would be the last men to stand any real abridgement of their liberties. The cry was raised that this was a coercive Act. He thought it mournful to hear the phrases of a struggle for liberty imported into the service of the tap; but when he heard that little Party say how they would fight to defend their country from a coercive Bill, he looked around, and he saw amongst them the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue), who on a previous occasion came here to scream to a foreign nation for more chains for his country. [Cries of "Read."] The hon. Member did not read the other day when he attempted the râle of "Funny Man" on the woman's suffrage question, and tried to turn into ridicule the speech of another hon. Member. There was nothing more illogical and inconsistent than the action which was taken by the opponents of this measure. They pointed to the fact that according to statistics there was less drunkenness on Sundays than on other days of the week. Archbishop Whately used to ask the children at a Sunday school—"Why do the white sheep in a field eat more grass than the black sheep?" and when they could not answer, he amused himself by telling them—"Because there are more of them." So with this matter—the houses were not allowed to be open as many hours on Sundays as on weekdays. Were hon. Members in favour of opening public-houses during all the 24 hours? ["No!"] Then would they coercively close them during a portion of the time? There was no answer to that; and if they admitted coercion and prohibition for certain hours, then the principle was gone which they asserted. For his own part, he had every interest in the world in sympathy with the popular wishes of his country. Since first his voice was raised in any public issue, he had tried to be on the side of those who would free his countrymen from every shackle that would impede their onward march in liberty, education, and material improvement. Twenty years ago he was labouring to throw open the public 712 gardens and the squares of Dublin to the masses of the people. Who were associated with him in 1855 in that effort? He had surveyed the ranks of the anti-Sunday closers in that House, and he failed to see the face of one man who helped to throw open the squares and museums on that day. [An hon. Member dissented.] The hon. Member seemed to forget that he must have been in bibs and tuckers at the time, and could not have lent a helping hand. His hon. Friend did his age great wrong. He (Mr. Sullivan) knew who the men were who did lend, a helping hand. They were the Pims and the James Hough-tons, and the Wighams, and the Webbs — the identical men who had since taken up the question of Sunday closing. Among them he first was taught that Sunday closing and the prohibition of drink should be accompanied by every effort to provide the people with counter attractions. He challenged the history of the Dublin municipality to contradict him when he said that the men who were the foremost in the Sunday closing movement had been the men to provide the people with healthful recreation. So far from being ashamed of the speech which he had delivered to his constituents on this subject, he was not afraid even to read the travestie of it which had been given by the hon. Member for Tralee, the light comedian of the anti-closing movement. What he told his constituents was this—"Looking to the account I must render to my God at the last day, I would willingly retire from any public honour rather than be dumb upon this question;" and he said so now.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had taunted the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) with being the light comedian of the play they were now enacting; but having heard both speeches he certainly would sooner be in the position of the light comedian, than of the heavy tragedian who had just addressed them. Allusion, too, had been made during the debate to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) could only regard as "bathos" the introduction of that "Blessed Jehoshaphat" into a discussion upon Sunday drinking! Were it to be referred to at all in such a connection it could only be when, perhaps, 713 the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Louth, travelling upon the new line on which Jehoshaphat would be a station, should be rudely awakened by the voice of the French conducteur, calling out "Jehoshaphat; dix minutes d'arret." The hon. and learned Gentleman said that drunkenness was less on Sunday than on any other day in the week, and he asked why this was so. It was because Parliament in its wisdom had thought proper to restrain the sale of liquor on Sunday. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to carry that view to its logical conclusion it would apply with equal, if not to greater, force to the other days of the week to which the hon. and learned Gentleman did not allude. The hon. and learned Gentleman appeared there as the advocate of temperance. Would the hon. and learned Member venture to make this promise— that if the 13 anti-Sunday closers in that House were willing to give up Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and say that the public-houses should be closed on those days, would the concession be accepted by those benevolent men who assumed alone to have charge of the sympathies and interests of the Irish race? It was, no doubt, true that the Clergy of most denominations and sacerdotalism in all its forms were arrayed on the side of temperance; but did the hon. and learned Member ever go into the county which he specially represented — the county of Louth? If he did, in his drives through the rich pastures of that county, he would no doubt visit the men who could have what they pleased in their own houses. But did he ask what were the views of those who were not so comfortably off—the frieze-coated men whom he met by the roadside? Had he consulted them as to their opinions, and did he find that they were enthusiastic in favour of the Bill? Last year the Government consented to modify their opposition, if the Bill were so drawn that it excluded the large towns. Now, he ventured to say that if this stringent measure was required anywhere in Ireland it was required in the large towns where the artizans were offered those temptations which were inseparable from their congregation together in large numbers. It was a slur upon the county constituencies to say that they were unlike any other class in Ireland and required this legislation. Personally he knew some- 714 thing of the county of Tipperary, and in that county the influence of the Roman Catholic Bishop and Clergy had been sufficient to procure the closing of the public-houses. Could they elsewhere produce the same result, not by coercion, but by sweet persuasion? Was it true statesmanship, especially in a country like Ireland, to attempt to effect a great social reformation by the aid of the police and the dragoons? He could not agree that that was the way in which legislation should be carried out, and it was on that account that he was there to-day, for the first time, to vote against the measure. As to the Petitions which had been presented in favour of the measure, it struck him the other day, when presenting one from his own county, that a good many of the marks were made by humble people living in what might be called aristocratic quarters. The hon. and learned Member for Louth, whoso mind was deeply imbued with Scriptural truths, would understand that when he looked at the signatures the Scriptural words—"His man servant or his maid servant or his ox or his ass or anything that was his" occurred to him. Certain sections of the Irish Clergy had taken a strong interest in the question. There was no denying that fact in regard to the North of Ireland; but the people of Ulster looked upon the question from a Sabbatarian point of view quite as strongly as from motives of temperance. He felt that he should be unworthy of the constituency he represented if he hesitated to give expression to the opinion which he found to prevail among them, and he was satisfied that the great majority of feeling of the classes likely to be affected by this legislation was adverse to the Bill. He did not speak of Town Councillors in particular towns, or of wealthy merchants, or rich squires, but of the poor and humble man who might be met at the roadside; and he was strongly of opinion that the proper way to treat him was to educate him into the acceptance of principles of temperance, and not to force them upon him by the exercise of tyranny. He had, as he had already said, never voted upon this question before. An hon. Member sneered when he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) cheered the suggestion of a compromise; but he would remind the hon. Gentleman that compromise was at the bottom of their Parliamentary system. They were now 715 in the month of July. Then let them postpone legislation for the present. He would not meet the question with a direct negative, but let it be put off, and let the Government, who, upon questions of social importance of this kind, ought to occupy the position of guardians of the public interests, let them come forward with a measure in another Session which would deal with Saturday drinking when artizans received their wages. Let them not by passing this Bill thrust down the unwilling throats of the people of Ireland a Sabbatarian measure with which they had no sympathy. They ought to respect the prejudices of the people, of the humble artizan and the humble workman, who did not possess the power of employing gentlemen from Glasgow and rich merchants from Dublin to spend their money with a lavish hand in the advocacy of their particular views. What could they reply to the reproach that would inevitably be addressed to them— "Your honour, some 10 years ago we supported you upon the hustings of such a place. We did not expect then that when the present Government attempted to filch away our rights that you would be prepared to forget us." He was there on that occasion almost the sole supporter of these small people, and for the first time in his life feeling himself obliged to record his vote on the question it should be with the poor artizan and the humble labourer.
§ DR. O'LEARY
remarked that not a single speech that had been made or argument uttered in favour of the Bill had answered the facts and eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy). The hon. Member alluded to the fact that on a recent occasion, with from 50,000 to 60,000 visitors in Cork, there was no drunkenness, although all the porter and gingerbeer had been consumed. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) asked, if that were so, what harm could, result from Sunday closing; but it was against such a people as that that they were to legislate and impose a ban! The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. P. Smyth) said the opposition to the Bill was a trade question. It was no trade question at all; but it was regarded as an act of coercion, and every man with an unbiassed mind so looked upon it. The hon. Member for Londonderry said it was a burning question. So it 716 was, and he (Dr. O'Leary) thought the Irish Members would manage to put it out before they had done with it. There was a good old rule—"When you have a bad case, always abuse the opposite side," and this had been very much the course pursued in regard to the present Bill. The hon. Member for Londonderry said the minority were adopting the tactics of despair. Now, he (Dr. O'Leary) confessed that he did not feel any despair whatever. On the contrary, he was in the most hopeful humour possible, and he thought he should be able to convince the House that the hon. Member for Londonderry had been more ingenious in his arguments than many would give him credit for. He said, in the first place, that the people of Ireland had asked for the Bill. He (Dr. O'Leary) would take that statement and contrast it with the Petitions. About 8,000 persons in Cork had petitioned in favour of the Bill, and the last Petition presented from Cork against it was signed by 11,000. He read the evidence given before the Select Committee by a magistrate from Cork to show that the overwhelming majority of cases of drunkenness occurred on the Saturday night, and that there were comparatively few on Sunday. In one week there were 26 on the Saturday night and 13 on Sunday; in another, 49 on Saturday night and 12 on Sunday; and in another 13 against 43. The witness, therefore, expressed a strong opinion against Sunday closing altogether. He did not think the drunkenness was sufficiently prevalent to justify the Legislature in imposing penal consequences upon the majority of the people of Ireland. The witness added that the Sunday closing movement was got up by agitators, who convened public meetings and prepared Petitions. This evidence was given on the 17th of April last. On the 13th of February, soon after Parliament assembled, there were eight Petitions against the Bill, with 15,695 signatures, and 168 in favour, with 95,773 signatures. They included, however, no less than 143 Petitions from England. On the 6th of March 2,000 additional persons petitioned against the Bill, and 85,000 in its favour. This was the result of the whole gathering up in every quarter of the three Kingdoms, the result of a busy winter, and of the efforts 717 of the agents of the United Kingdom Alliance, notwithstanding the fact that that Association repudiated all connection with the Bill. 85,000 signatures came in by the 6th of March, and the total number in favour of the Bill amounted to 180,000, while against it there was only a miserable 17,000. There were, consequently, on the 6th of March, 12 to 1 in favour of the Bill. By the 20th of March 6,000 were added to the 180,000, while those opposed to the measure were increased from 17,000 to 33,000. The people of Ireland by that time had begun to find out that they had been misrepresented. They said that they had been taken by surprise; that they did not believe in the Bill, and that they did not want it. From the 13th of March to the 10th of April the Sunday closers got 11,000 signatures, and the anti-closers 51,000. On the 17th of April the witness from Cork to whom he had referred gave his evidence, and it was a well-known fact that reports of the evidence were published daily in the Irish papers. The consequence was that by the 29th of April, 12 days after this evidence was given, the Petitions in favour of the Bill had only increased to 194,000, while those against it amounted to 64,000. On the 4th of May the signatures against numbered 81,453, showing an increase of 30,000 in eight days, while the Sunday closers had only obtained an increase of 6,000. Between May the 1st and May the 4th there was a further increase in the signatures to the Petitions against the Bill of 17,000. These facts were taken from the original documents presented to the House. He said most unhesitatingly that a small party in Ireland had been waiting to educate the people of Ireland upon the question. As he had already said, on May 8th those in favour of Sunday closing had only increased from 202,000 to 206,000, while up to the same date those against it had increased from 81 to 89,000, and the way the question of Petitions stood at present was very different from that in which it was at the beginning of the Session, when the Chief Secretary for Ireland was hurried into accepting the measure. At that time the Minister was led away by a trick that had been played upon the House; but when the people of Ireland found from the newspapers what evi- 718 dence had been given before the Committee, and when they saw what the Irish Members were asserting in the House itself, they came forward to vindicate their opinions clearly. On the 15th of February the proportions in the Petitions for and against the Bill were as 15 to 1, and on June the 5th the proportions had changed from 2¼ to 1. And he should ask the Members of the Government whether they would submit to the trick that had been played on the House. There was another simple fact he would refer to. No less than 138 Petitions came from England, and if they deducted the number of signatures to these as well as the 110,000 in the Petitions from Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and the other large towns of Ireland, only 100,000 names would be left for the whole of the rest of the country. He said unhesitatingly that that was a very small proportion of names for the vast area lying outside of the towns that had sent up 110,000 names in favour of this measure, and could it be said that that in any way represented public opinion? But these Petitions were signed not only by men and women, but by boys and girls. Did they represent the opinion of Ireland? He said they did not, and for that, among other reasons, he argued that they ought to see further into it before they passed the Bill. He was glad to see that the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had come into his place, for he had a few words to say about him and his speech. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked how they would obtain the opinion and the views of the Irish people. He answered at once by Petitions, and by such an answer Ireland had not alone spoken, but she would still continue to speak. The Petitions against this Bill had risen in the periods he had named from a few names to 80,000, to 81,000, to 89,000, and next month, if they waited to hear it, they would speak to the extent of very like 200,000 strong. That was the way in which they ascertained the opinion of the people of Ireland. They would get Petitions signed, they would accept door to door visitations, and they would even appeal to newspapers in answer to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Louth. Mr. Russell, a clear-headed, energetic, and enthusiastic Scotchman, who had got all 719 these Petitions signed in favour of the Bill, was examined by the Committee that sat on the subject. He was asked by his hon. Friend the Member for Dublin (Mr. Brooks) to read a paragraph from the Circular that was distributed amongst the people, in which it was stated that arrests for drunkenness in Edinburgh and Glasgow since the Scottish Act was passed had gone down 80 per cent, and that the Act met with the entire sympathy of the people of Scotland. That ingenious gentleman, Mr. Russell, stated that the arrests for drunkenness went down 80 per cent; but what he (Dr. O'Leary) wanted to know was, whether drunkenness had decreased 80 per cent. That gentleman said so, and all he would say in answer was, that such a statement was a lie. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, he said, he could say nothing else—it was a lie, a deliberate fraudulent misstatement. This ingenious and honest Scotchman had given the people of Ireland to understand that that was the case. But his hon. Friend (Mr. Brooks) extracted from the Chief Constable of Ayrshire a very different statement. He told the Committee that offences against the person and against the guardians of the peace, as well as cases of drunk and incapable, had increased in a marked degree during the last year, and nearly all those offences were the result of drunkenness. But the second question put to this ingenious, veracious, and energetic Scotchman was more significant, and he trusted that when he gave it that the fact would strengthen the hands of the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Government, as well as the House generally, in resisting any more of this twaddle from being presented. The question was whether the statement about the 80 per cent decrease of drunkenness in Scotland had influenced people in signing the Petition. And what was the answer of this simple-minded and honest Scotchman? He said he was not aware that it did. Not aware that it did? Why, how could such a statement as that do otherwise than affect simple-minded women, who would argue that if they signed the Petition there would be such a great decrease of drunkenness in Ireland that they would get 80 per cent more of the money of their husbands than they were in the habit of doing? But then this honest and simple-minded gentleman let 720 out in a very incidental way that the statement was meant to influence the influx of signatures. Of course it was, and no doubt it did. When the acute Scotch mind was brought to bear on the poor mind and stupid intellect of the Irish peasant they could all tell what would take place. Could anybody doubt it? Then the hon. and learned Member for Louth spoke of the journals of Ireland, and said that all the organs, daily and weekly, were in favour of this measure. Enumerating, among others, The Irish Times, he said it was in favour of Sunday Closing. The Irish Times was not in favour of the Bill, and would repudiate any such a notion. Then he went on to make the same assertion with reference to the weekly journals, and among others he mentioned The Nation, of which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Sullivan) is proprietor. It was very recently that The Nation had gone in for the policy of obstruction that was carried on in the House, and the hon. and learned Gentleman talked about his conscientiousness. Why did he not follow out that recommendation, and join the ranks of those who had adopted that policy? He believed that the hon. and learned Member was not present at a quarter-past 7 that morning when divisions were being taken. Therefore, the hon. and learned Member was not following out the opinions advocated in his own journal. The hon. and learned Gentleman also proclaimed himself a Sabbatarian, and he had described to the House how he had become so. He said he had drawn it in with his mother's milk. He (Dr. O'Leary) did not see very well how that could be; but if he did, he must have been a very smart young fellow indeed when he was in long clothes. Most people did not begin to form their opinions at so very early an age. They were not generally Sabbatarians in Ireland. But what was a Sabbatarian? He was not a lawyer himself, but he had come across a very scarce and learned work which might help the House to understand what strictly a Sabbatarian was; and perhaps after he had given the House the definition hon. Gentlemen who had proclaimed that they were Sabbatarians might not think they were quite right in the assertion they made. The book to which he referred was Burton's Parliamentary Diary of the Proceedings of the 721 House from 1656 to 1659. Colonel Holland said in the debate that was taking place in June, 1657, regarding penalties for Sabbath-breaking—We have but too many penal laws, and one hundred clauses of that kind may well be repealed. These laws are always turned upon the most godly. This is very strict as to that of unnecessary walking, and coming into men's houses."—[ii. 261.]He would tell the House what a strict Sabbatarian was. In a code of laws made in the dominion of Newhaven in 1637 by emigrants from England, it was provided that "no one should either run on the Sabbath day nor walk in his garden or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting." He was very much inclined to think that some of the Sabbatarians would protest against that. But there was more behind. It said— "No one shall travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave on the Sabbath day." But there is a tit-bit to come which will, I hope, appeal to the filial feelings of the hon. and learned Member for Louth. It was provided "That no woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting day." He quoted this, not to say a word against the conscientious belief of any man, but simply to show to what lengths men would go who were willing to submerge themselves under a word and accept all the responsibility which that word implied. Lord Chief Justice Glynn moved against the clause in the Bill for entering into men's houses. He said—I move against this clause. It may be a snare to all the nation; and knaves in the night time may enter and rob men's houses under this pretence. When an Act of Parliament gives liberty of entry, then a man may break open doors."—[ii. 263.]It seemed, therefore, that drinking in private houses was suspicious; but the same suspicion was attached in a much more serious degree to those held for the purpose, for Mr. Godfrey moved a proviso to limit the officers' entry only to taverns, inns, ale-houses, tobacco-shops, victualling-houses, or tippling-houses. They included "tobacco-shops," and he believed that these places yet caused a good deal of illicit drinking. This just showed how far-sighted people were 250 years ago. He had discussed this question with a great many people lately, and all of them gave it as their opinion that if this Bill was passed it 722 would lead to a great deal of drinking in private houses, with considerable harm to the people themselves, and to the destruction of family morality, and lead to more serious things still. It was a curious fact that in 1657 this very argument was used, for he found that Mr. Vincent and Mr. Chadwick, two Members of the House, not being satisfied with the proviso, Mr. Godfrey said—Now-a-days the greatest disorders were in private houses by sending thither for drink, drinking in alehouses being both more penal and suspicious."—[ii. 263.]However, there were other provisoes in the Bill, the discussion of which he was referring to. He found a Mr. West saying that he hoped they would not give liberty to people to be as profane as they chose in their own houses. He argued against the proviso because it would not give idle persons permission "to sit openly at gates or doors," and he found that they were not even allowed to "lean against their own doorpost." A Major General Whalley—not the hon. Gentleman who now had a seat in the House, though he was glad he had traced the ancestry of the hon. Gentleman so far-—he was very glad to see had put in a seasonable word against the passing of a clause preventing people sitting at their own doors, or even leaning against them, on the ground that it woulddeprive them of the very livelihood they have by the air; as at Nottingham many people that have houses in the rock and have no air live most part of their time without doors."—[ii. 264.]And the Lord Chief Justice backed this up by the remark thatthere was nothing unlawful or guilty in sitting at doors. It must be the same as within doors. It is but intended for example's sake. May not a godly man that lives in a rock yet be well employed? Tot you put a negative pregnant upon a man to say that sitting at a door is more profane than standing."—[ii. 265.]Yet these were the view of strict Sabbatarians. One other observation of the hon. and learned Member for Louth he would refer to. He said that the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) had put his hoof down upon the grave of the Archbishop of Cashel. All he could say was that he did not believe the hon. Member referred to was a horse, and certainly he did not think he was an ass. The hon. and learned Gentleman 723 also said there was less drinking on Sunday than on any other day. How was that, he wanted to know? The hon. and learned Member said that arose from the fact that the hours capable of being applied to drinking were fewer on Sunday than on any other day. But was that so? He believed the argument would not hold water. To whom did the hon. and learned Gentleman refer? Was he speaking of those gentlemen who could sit at home, or, when taking a walk, pass a public-house, knowing they could get what refreshment they required at home; or was he speaking of the artizans, for whom he professed so much love and consideration? Where were the artizans on Sundays and on week days? He believed this was just another statement which showed how far fanaticism was capable of carrying the minds of the most intelligent men away. The hours of the working man during the week prevented his leaving work before 6 in the evening, and he very likely did not reach home before half-past 6. Before he got some supper it was after 7, and then, if he took a walk with his wife—and he hoped the hon. and learned Member did not believe that artizans did not love their wives enough occasionally to take a walk with them— it would be at least half-past 7 before he could get to the public-house. Well, all that was left for drinking was only three hours and a-half—-from 7.30 to 11. Now, how many hours had he on Sunday? On Sunday his time was all his own, and he could drink from 2 till 9 —seven hours. In the face of that fact was it fair to say that the working men drank less on Sunday, because the hours were restricted? There was only one word more he had to say. The hon. and learned Gentleman remarked, after looking round these benches upon which he sat, that there was no one who agitated for this Bill who did not agitate for the opening of the parks and museums to the people 20 years ago, and that there was no one who opposed this measure who laboured in that cause. In 1853 he (Dr. O'Leary) was one of the persons who were working with him. Another thing the hon. and learned Gentleman should remember was that at that time, on account of advocating national principles, he was not so much in favour as he was now. One word more he had to say. The hon. and learned Gentleman 724 said when he (Dr. O'Leary) contradicted him, that if there was such a man he must have been in bibs and tuckers. One did not know the proper time for casting swaddling clothes or for putting on bibs and tuckers, or for donning unmentionables. But if he (Dr. O'Leary) did support and work with the hon. and learned Gentleman when he was in bibs and tuckers, all the more honour to him, for in that case he was almost as smart a fellow as the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, when he learned Sabbatarianism at his mother's breast. He might have been young, but he was earnest and ardent. He remembered, too, that at that time the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) was the rising sun of Ireland, and received all the honours, and that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Louth was anything but a rising sun.
§ MR. B. WHITWORTH
said, that in his town (Kilkenny), of the 3,384 persons who signed Petitions, 1,680 persons were in favour of the Bill, 179 were opposed to it, and 167 returned blank forms of the questions put to them. Therefore, he found that 90 out of 100 of the people of Kilkenny were in favour of the passing of the Bill. When he appeared there as a candidate he had the honour of being opposed by the licensed victuallers of Dublin, who sent down a gentleman whom all Irish Members knew well, as he always appeared in the Lobby when there was a question concerning the licensed victuallers. He referred to Mr. Dwyer, the secretary, who stayed in the town for a week, and represented him as the greatest enemy of the licensed victuallers. Yet he could safely say that nine-tenths of the publicans of Kilkenny voted for him, although they knew he was in favour of Sunday-closing. It was not fair, from what he knew, to say that the people of Ireland were not in favour of this Bill. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down represented a very ancient town, which he knew very well, and he (Mr. Whitworth) said that on that question four-fifths of the electors of Drogheda were in favour of Sunday closing. He challenged him to meet him in Drogheda to test in public whether or not he fairly represented the views of the electors. Another strong opponent of the Bill was the hon. Member for Dunkalk (Mr. Callan), who pro- 725 mised to meet him at a public meeting to discuss this question, but showed the white feather, and dared not meet him.
§ MR. CALLAN
wished to know whether that was an expression which ought to be applied to an hon. Member who was accidentally prevented from attending the meeting? The hon. Member for Kilkenny had stated that he dared not meet him, he knowing full well that the contrary was the fact.
§ MR. B. WHITWORTH
said, these Members knew perfectly well that they misrepresented the public opinion of Ireland; but they never discussed the question in a public meeting, as they were well aware they would find themselves in as great a minority as they were in that House. Something had been said about the United Kingdom Alliance, of which he (Mr. Whitworth) was Chairman, having voted money for election purposes. He could say that during the 10 years he had been connected with that great agency not Is. had been spent for such a purpose. Money had been spent for publications, but not for elections. It could not be said, as a general rule, that the people of Ireland were united, but on this question they were undoubtedly so. He was aware, however, that some Members of that House were instigated by the trade organization in Dublin, but they did not truly represent the feeling of their constituents. A gentleman had been sent down by that body to oppose him in the election for the borough he now represented. He hoped the Government would allow sufficient time for the passing of this measure. If they did not, it would be a great reflection on the Parliamentary government of this country.
§ MR. KIRK
said, that the restrictions proposed by this Bill were not at all necessary, fie had lived for a number of years in an agricultural district in the county of Louth; nor did he think that the statistics that had been quoted with reference to the shortening of hours on Sunday had anything to do with the fact that there was less drinking on that day than on any other. A gentleman who had been Solicitor General for Ireland said, when this matter was brought before the Poor Law Board, that he had found by statistics that there was more drinking went on in those counties on Sundays in which restrictions were placed upon the hours during which the public-houses 726 were open than there was in those where there was no such restriction. Coercive measures would never, in his opinion, do what the promoters of this Bill desired; and, in fact, it had not been introduced in order to restrict the hours upon which drink should be sold on Sunday, but purely from Sabbatarian reasons. And he saw in a newspaper some time ago that Sabbatarians wished to cram their opinion down the throats of those who did not agree with them. Scotchmen were rather given to that kind of thing. He believed himself that, if they could, they would even go so far as to press people to wear the kilt. As a county Member he protested against the Bill, and regretted that its promoters had not accepted the compromise which had been offered them. The people who would be affected by the Bill were not the rich, but the poor; and he had ascertained from many of these in his own country what their feelings were upon the matter. The artizans and the labouring men with whom he had conversed told him that they were opposed to Sunday closing. Really, the drinking did not go on in the agricultural districts, but in towns. If the Bill were passed it would be regarded by the Irish people as a measure of coercion and as a piece of class legislation; and even the most ignorant would be thoroughly dissatisfied with it.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, that in rising to oppose the introduction of this Bill into Committee, he should be careful not to introduce any old facts in doing so after the lecture which the hon. Member for Cork city (Mr. Murphy) got from The Times in an inspired article which appeared on Thursday last. The only remark he would make on that article was that the writer of it must not have been in the House when the hon. Member delivered his speech, as every man who heard it must admit that it was very able, and that the hon. Member brought forward a large number of new facts in support of his Amendment. He (Mr. 0'Sullivan) should oppose the Bill from various reasons. First of all, he would oppose it because it was a piece of class legislation, and class legislation of the worst kind, forced on by the rich minority to curtail the privileges of the working classes. He next opposed it because, to a certain extent, it confiscated the business of thousands of small 727 shopkeepers in Ireland, while, at the same time, it would not put a stop to drinking, but would merely transfer part of the traffic in drink from the general body of traders to the large grocers on Saturday evenings and the remainder to the shebeen-house keepers on Sundays, without offering any compensation whatever to the sufferers by the enforcement of the measure. In the next place, he felt bound to oppose the Bill because he believed it would be found to increase both drunkenness and immorality; and, lastly, he opposed it because it was contrary to the wishes of a very large majority of his fellow-countrymen. Having given his reasons for opposing the measure, he should at once proceed to give the House some very strong evidence in support of his objections. The only way to prove that the Bill was a piece of class legislation was by referring, to the Petitions that had been sent in favour of it, and to see where they came from, and how they were got up, with the class of persons who signed them. He wondered whether hon. Members ever examined the Petitions they presented to the House. If they did not he did. On his arrival in town at the beginning of February, he found a Petition waiting for him from a parish in his own county in favour of this Bill. Knowing the parish well whence it was sent, he looked over the Petition and found it contained a total of 23 signatures. Of these 23, he was aware that 16 were Protestants, and out of those 16 he was well aware that not three of them ever went inside a public-house in his life. He was very sorry to introduce the question of any man's religion into a debate, as religious differences had always been the cause of the misfortunes of his country; but he had mentioned the fact in this instance simply to show who were getting up those Petitions. Well, who signed them? They were signed by four classes—the extreme teetotallers, to whom he gave every credit for their sincerity—the Sabbatarians, who were the backbone of the movement, and who would not allow people to whistle on Sunday if they could prevent it—by a number of maiden ladies of the Moody and Sankey school—and school girls and boys over whom the parson ruled supreme. He might mention to the House that a Petition from his own parish of Kilmallock 728 was presented to that House by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. P. Smyth), signed by 48 persons, 21 of whom were Protestants, although they formed only 3 per cent of the population. Of the remainder, five were in the employment of a gentleman who took a great interest in the Bill, two were children, who were put down as "students," and there were only 19 who could be described as "free and independent" petitioners. Yet what was the fact? He held in his hand a Petition from the same parish. That Petition was signed by 300 persons, and amongst the first who signed it he found the names of 17 out of the 19 "free and independent" individuals who had signed the other Petition to which he had referred. That was the way in which these Petitions were got up, and if the hon. Gentleman had any doubt on the matter he could examine the signatures. Having disposed of the two Petitions from his own locality, he would ask the House to bear with him while he examined the general Petitions presented to this House in favour of the Bill from the Returns of Public Petitions presented to this House, and see who presented them, and where and what sort of persons they emanated from, and then say if those were the persons hon. Members judged by when they said this was an Irish idea. The hon. Member then called attention to the Petitions presented in favour of this Bill for the last two months from England, Scotland, and different religious bodies in the North of Ireland, composed of Methodists, Quakers, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and other sects, and showed that five-sixths of all the Petitions presented in favour of the Bill were from the Sabbatarian class. He was opposed to the Bill, in the second place, because it confiscated a large portion of the property of 16,000 or 17,000 respectable traders in Ireland without giving them Is. compensation for their loss. It was a well-known fact that the Government could take away property if they thought it would benefit society to do so, and they gave that same power very properly to Railway Companies, which were a benefit to society; but it was a very well understood maxim that the Government never took the property of any person without making compensation to the persons who suffered; but the promoters 729 of this Bill had made no provision whatever for those who suffered by their Bill. On this point he would quote the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench in Ireland, who said that existing vested interests should not be extinguished, even for a legitimate object, without full compensation. Alluding to the reduction of public-houses in Dublin, he said not even the Government could close up those houses without giving compensation to their owners for the loss they would sustain. When Parliament abolished slavery in their Colonies they made compensation to the owners of those slaves, though it was a trade few men sympathised with. In fact, it was a trade which Englishmen felt ashamed of; yet, notwithstanding this, they gave compensation to those who trafficked in human flesh simply because they were depriving them of part of their property. Then, again, when they abolished purchase in the Army, they gave compensation to the officers who suffered by the change. Notwithstanding the fact that purchase in the Army was declared illegal by an Act of George III., that did not prevent this House making compensation to all who suffered by the change. In the present case they were going to destroy a portion of the property of a number of regularly licensed traders, and he asked the House if they considered it just or right to do so without compensating those men? If they did so, what would the publicans and their friends justly say, but that because they had no friends in the large Clubs of London, or they had no influence with either of the great Parties who managed the business of the State, they were plundered out of their property without getting Is. compensation. Would, that add to the confidence or good opinion of English government in Ireland? No, it would still more weaken that which was feeble enough already. They had been told that this Bill would put a stop to the drunkard, and make a sober man of him. He (Mr. O'Sullivan) wished that it did, for there was not a man in that Assembly who would support a measure having that result more warmly than he would; but how had it been shown by any of the eloquent advocates of the Bill that it would lessen intemperance? On the contrary, he showed the House on the second reading of the Bill, by means of a Return obtained through Lord Emly, 730 that there were more cases of drunkenness in equal populations in the part of the country that he had the honour to represent, where the houses were closed on Sundays, than there were in the portion of the same county where the houses were open on that day. Before sitting down he wished to give the House some other reasons to prove how very few people in the country were in favour of the Bill. At two Catholic churches in the county which he represented Petitions were laid on the tables at the doors of each during two Masses, and the clergyman called the attention of the people to those Petitions. At one of those churches, where there was a population of 900, the Petition was signed by 12 persons; and at the other, where there was a population of over 1,500, it was signed by just three persons. Then, again, in the principal bank of the town in which he (Mr. O'Sullivan) resided, the local gentleman who, he had already told the House, was very active in getting up Petitions in favour of this Bill, left one of those Petitions on the public counter for the purpose of having it signed. He (Mr. O'Sullivan) had occasion to go to the bank for five consecutive days, and through those five days there was not a single name signed to the Petition, though thousands of persons must have seen it in that time. Would the House require further proof to show how unpopular this Bill was amongst the people whom it affected? The Sunday closers depended more on votes than they did on arguments in carrying their Bill. If the Sunday closing gentlemen laid out one-half the money they were spending in promoting the Bill on the improvement of labourers' dwellings in Ireland, they would find they would do far more to promote the cause of temperance and morality than they could ever accomplish by the Bill now before the House. But the fact was, that these people looked upon the tradesmen and labourers in his country as a parcel of children who required to be watched in all their movements. On Sunday drunkenness was much less in proportion than on any other day in the week. The arrests on Sunday in Lei-trim, instead of being 1–7th, were only 1–30th; in Londonderry, 1–36th; in Louth and Roscommon, 1–15th.; in Mayo, 1–13th; in the North Riding of Tip- 731 perary, where the public-houses were open, 1–18th; and in the South Riding, where they were in a great part closed, 1–13th. In four districts of Tipperary, where the population numbered 23,270, and the public-houses were open, the convictions for drunkenness on Sunday in 1876 were 649; while in three districts of the same county, with a population of 4,352, where the public-houses were closed, the convictions were 894. Take the Tipperary petty sessions district, with a population of 16,953—a district where total Sunday closing was carried out at the request of the late Archbishop—and compare it with several similar sized in the neighbouring counties where the public-houses were open on Sunday. The total number of convictions for drunkenness in this district for the year 1876 was 771. The nearest town he could get in the next county where public-houses were open on Sundays, with about an equal population, was Fermoy, county Cork. With a population of 15,179, or a little less than Tipperary, the convictions for drunkenness in 1876 were 219, or very little more than] one-fourth the drunkenness which took place in the district where Sunday closing was observed. The next town he could find with a similar population to that of Tipperary in the next adjoining county was Newcastle West, in the county Limerick. With a population of 16,987, or just 34 persons more than Tipperary, he found the convictions for drunkenness in that district, where the public-houses were open on Sunday, during the year 1876 was 390, or about one-half the convictions that took place in Tipperary, with a smaller population, and where the public-houses were supposed to be all closed on Sundays. It was true the House referred this Bill to a Select Committee; but what confidence did they think would be placed in that Committee by the people of the South, the West, and the East of Ireland, when they found that more than one-third of the Committee was composed of Representatives from the Scotch, Sabbatarian North of Ireland, where nine-tenths of the agitation for this Bill was carried on, and that more than one-fourth of the Committee was composed of extreme teetotallers who would look on it as almost a crime for any man to take a pint of beer or a glass of whiskey? He had given the House some statistics; 732 but if he were to go through them all he would require two more hours to finish his observations.
§ It being now ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till this day.
§ The House suspended its sitting at Seven of the clock.
§ The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.