Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the first six Orders of the Day he postponed till after the Order for Committee on the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) (re-committed) Bill."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that during his eight years' experience that was the first occasion on which the Leader of that House had come down on Wednesday, on behalf of the Government, and had made a Motion, the effect of which was to deprive private Members of their right to suspend and pass over certain Orders, that a particular Bill might be proceeded with. He (Mr. Callan) was sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, remarkable as he was for the consideration he showed for the rights of private Members, must have had some very heavy force behind him from a certain section of hon. Members before he made the Motion he had just submitted. On seeing that the Permissive Bill had dropped, He (Mr. Callan) thought he also saw a chance of bringing on a Bill which he had upon the Orders for that day, and he had left Ireland last night on the chance of being able to get through the Summary Jurisdiction (Ire- 323 land) Bill, which, to his mind, was a measure of far greater importance than the Bill to which so exceptional a favour had been extended. It was well known that grave dissatisfaction had existed in Ireland for many years as to the constitution of the magistracy of that country, and still greater dissatisfaction had been expressed as to the unlimited powers that had been conferred upon them by the Habitual Criminals Act, which was passed in the year 1870 and 1871, and which was renewed under the title of the Prevention of Crimes Act, and that, too, without discussion at a late period of the Session, but not without a protest from one whom he might term the Nestor of the House—he alluded to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). The Bill which he had put upon the Table of the House, the Summary Jurisdiction Bill, was of so essential a character that he had hoped it might be allowed to pass without division, in which case his objection to proceeding with the Sunday Closing Bill would, as far as he was concerned, have been overcome. He should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would so far modify his proposal as to enable that Bill to be taken, or he (Mr. Callan) would move, as an Amendment to the Motion before the House, that the Permissive Prohibitory Liquor Bill and the Game Laws (Scotland) Bill, which stood first on the Order Book, be both passed over in favour of the Summary Jurisdiction (Ireland) Bill; and when that was passed, as he was sure it would be, if it could be brought on without a division, he should not oppose too strongly the proposal to proceed with the Sunday Closing Bill. So important was the Summary Jurisdiction Bill believed to be that the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had allowed it to pass a second reading without a division.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member was infringing the Rule of the House, which prevented the discussion of measures that were not before the House.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, although he had consulted the book of Sir Erskine May, he did not exactly know how far he might go in stating reasons why the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman should not be acceded to, and why so 324 exceptional a proposal in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill should be rejected. The only reason he could imagine why such a proposal should be made was the tendency that had been so noticeable in favour of passing coercive measures, restricting the liberty of the people, and effecting in a manner peculiarly offensive to them class legislation. ["Oh, oh!"] He repeated the words "class legislation." [Cries of "Order!"] If the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Jenkins) had a point of Order to raise, he might do so now. He (Mr. Callan) was not aware that he was out of Order, as he had endeavoured to keep strictly within proper limits since the Speaker had intimated his opinion. The Sunday Closing Bill, coming as it did from the North of Ireland, where there was a Sabbatarian tendency such as was found in some Scotch Sabbatarian constituencies, might not appear to the hon. Member for Dundee to be of a coercive character; but he (Mr. Callan) asserted that that House had always received with exceptional favour measures of a coercive tendency that were to be applied to the people of Ireland, and that class legislation of this character was always welcomed in that Assembly with open arms. As he was prohibited from discussing the merits of his own Bill, he could only say that the House ought to be very slow to sanction such a proceeding as that of the Government in coming down to the House of Commons on a Wednesday and proposing to deprive private Members of their privileges. Her Majesty's Government complained of obstruction on other evenings in the week by certain hon. Members who sat on that side of the House; but he asserted that the obstruction the Government had offered that day to private Members was quite as irritating and annoying as any obstruction that had been put in the way of Government measures during the present Session. He should offer his most strenuous opposition to the Motion, and though he was not often inclined to divide the House, he certainly should divide it on this occasion.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
supported the opposition of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan). He thought it too much that the Government should come down to the House and propose to take the only day private Members had for 325 bringing forward their Bills. If that were to be allowed to pass over quietly, and if the Government were to be allowed to appropriate that particular day, why should, they not propose to appropriate every other Wednesday during the rest of the Session? They would have as much right to do one as the other. He held that the Bill in favour of which that course was resorted to was a most inappropriate measure to hurry through the House that could well be conceived. He remembered that a Coercion Bill for Ireland had been passed in that House in a single day, and let hon. Members disguise the fact as they would, the measure they were asked to proceed that day with was a coercive measure. It was a Bill to deprive the people of their liberties and privileges. It was a class Bill, promoted by a small minority, for the purpose of depriving the large majority of the Irish people of their rights. He held, therefore, that it was wrong on the part of Her Majesty's Government to propose to suspend the Orders of the Day in order to pass this piece of special legislation. He hoped the House would mark its sense of what was proposed by disapproving of the action of the Government; and, for his part, he was determined to take a division on the Motion in order to test the feeling of the House.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, he also protested against the action of the Government in the matter. He did not think they had exercised a wise discretion in taking the course they had. The Summary Jurisdiction Bill would, if passed, be a far more useful measure to the people of Ireland than the obnoxious Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday Bill would be. The Bill, he believed, would be strenuously opposed, and he was glad of it. Indeed, he looked upon it as a Bill which would set a bad precedent with reference to England, and he would oppose it in every possible way.
§ MR. COGAN
said, the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) was under a slight mistake. Her Majesty's Government had not sought to appropriate that day at all. The fact was, that the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had in reality possession of that Wednesday, which it was well known would have been entirely occupied by his Permissive Bill, 326 if he had persisted with it; but the hon. Baronet had given up his right in order that the Bill of the hon. Member for Londonderry might come on, as he felt that it was more likely to be brought to a successful issue than his own, inasmuch as it was a measure demanded by the great majority of the Irish people. ["No, no!"] If they came to a division on it, it would be seen by the votes of the Irish Members who were supposed to represent the majority of the Irish people, whether he was not perfectly accurate in that statement. It was not correct to say that the Government had interfered with the rights of private Members, the simple fact being that one private Member had given up his right to another private Member, Her Majesty's Government having sanctioned the arrangement.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Cogan) had most correctly represented the state of affairs and the position assumed by Her Majesty's Government. At the same time, he was bound to admit that the proceeding was one that was not of a usual character. It was, however, one that had been adopted under somewhat unusual circumstances. An appeal had been made to Her Majesty's Government, for reasons into which he need not enter, to appoint a day on which the Sunday Closing Bill might be discussed. It appeared to the Government that it was reasonable that they should ask some assistance from private Members, Her Majesty's Government being willing to appropriate one day, if another could be found, and the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Law-son), upon a suggestion thrown out by him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), having volunteered to waive his right to discuss the Permissive Prohibitory Liquor Bill. Anyone who had watched the proceedings on that Bill must be aware that a discussion on its second reading would occupy the whole of the working hours of the day, and, consequently, that no other Bill—unless it were of a very formal character, such, perhaps, as that of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan), and could be rapidly proceeded with—could have a chance of coming on. Under these circumstances the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle having agreed that such 327 a step might be taken, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had proposed, on behalf of the Government, the course which alone would have induced the hon. Baronet to give way. He did not suppose that the hon. Baronet would have been induced to waive his right to proceed with the Permissive Bill for the sake of making way for the Summary Jurisdiction (Ireland) Bill. The hon. Baronet was under the impression, which might or might not be correct, that the Sunday Closing Bill was one of great interest to a large majority of hon. Members from Ireland; and it was on these grounds that the Government had agreed to make an exception to the usual course—an exception which was not out of Order, but was unusual—for the purpose of giving hon. Members an opportunity of discussing the Sunday Closing Bill. He hoped that the House would consent to the Motion he had made, especially under the circumstances he had stated.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, it might be necessary that this proceeding should be taken, but the decision on the whole question rested with the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). The House would like to hear from the hon. Baronet whether he approved of the arrangement that had been mentioned.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he was sorry to be obliged to take up a moment of the valuable time of the House by joining in a frivolous debate like this, the only object of which was to delay the Bill it was proposed to proceed with. But, in reply to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Newdegate), he could only say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had just now correctly stated the position of affairs, and he was greatly obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the Motion he had made. He had given up his Bill for the sake of facilitating the Irish Bill; and he hoped the House would not spend its time in idle preliminary talk, but would at once and in a business-like manner accept the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman.
was opposed to both the Bills that had been referred to, and he wished to point out that three very unusual things had been done on that occasion. In the first place, they had the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who had 328 always evinced intense anxiety to bring forward the permissive question in which he was so deeply interested, waiving his right obtained in a Ballot that had taken place in the early part of the Session to discuss his Bill. Then they had the Leader of the Government coming down on a Wednesday before the Government had appropriated the rest of the Wednesdays to their own Business, and taking the unusual course of moving that the other Orders of the Day be postponed in order that a Bill low down on the list should be taken out of its course. If it were only on that account he should say, as one who valued the privileges of private Members, that this was a most objectionable proceeding. It might be taken hereafter as a precedent. ["No, no!"] It was all very well to say that it would not be construed into a precedent. The same statement was always made on similar occasions; but the result was, that the precedent was followed as soon afterwards as the occasion for it arose. In the third place, they had this unusual state of things. They found the Government, which he believed really agreed with him (Mr. Goldsmid) in objecting to the Sunday Closing Bill, asking the House to do a thing that was irregular, in order that the Bill to which they objected might be taken as the First Order on a private Member's day. He would put it to the Speaker, whether he had ever, in his long experience, known such an extraordinary combination of irregularities in one proceeding before that House? He thought that the House ought to pause before adopting such a proposal as that now before it, not only because it was an infringement on the rights of private Members, but because it would set an example of such an evil character that he did not see how far they might not be called upon hereafter to hand over the conduct of private Members' Business to Her Majesty's Government. If the House were wise it would not accede to the Motion, to which he objected, though he was equally opposed to the Bill, which would be taken if it were not assented to, and to that which would be discussed if it were adopted.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
viewed the proposal now made as one of the most extraordinary he had ever heard in that House. The position in which he was placed was 329 this—that but for this Motion he might have had an opportunity of opposing another Bill which was set down as the First Order; and had that opportunity been given to him, the chances were that the Bill for which precedence was asked, and which he apprehended was even more objectionable than the Permissive Bill, would not have been brought forward that day, and probably not during the rest of the Session. Like the hon. Member for Eochester (Mr. Goldsmid), he regarded both these Bills as being about as objectionable as could be, and for this reason—both of them, under the guise of doing some good to somebody, proposed to interfere with the domestic habits and rights of the people at large. He did not care one straw whether the proposed interference was with the English or the Irish people. What he said was, that at any rate they ought not to be giving up to one hon. Member, who had a highly objectionable Bill on the Paper, a day that was set apart for the consideration of another Bill, although that was almost equally objectionable. These being his views, he must go into the Lobby with those who objected to the Motion.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
feared it would only be a waste of time if the Motion were carried, because he was well aware it was not the intention of the Government or those who were opposed to the Sunday Closing Bill that the question of going into Committee should be brought to a division. It was quite clear that the course intended to be taken was to talk the Bill out, and the only result of their proceedings that day would be a waste of the public time. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would get up and say he was determined to give every facility for the purpose of getting the Bill into and through Committee, it might possibly be arranged; but as they all knew that the Bill was to be talked out, it was mere waste of time to attempt to do anything of a practical nature.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH,
in reply to the challenge of the hon. and learned Member for Cork, said, it was his earnest wish and desire that the House should go into Committee on the Bill and discuss the clauses, so as, if possible, to arrive at a settlement of the question.
said, the only difficulty generally had been that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork County (Mr. Downing) did not imagine that the Government would give facilities for the passing of the Irish Bill if the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) gave up his right as to the Permissive Bill; but now the Government had announced that they would afford these facilities he could not understand the course that was being taken, especially by hon. Members coming from Ireland.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
said, the Government was never tired of passing coercive measures for Ireland, and when they could not find a coercive measure to bring in themselves, they invited private Members to bring them forward; and not only did they do this, but they deprived private Members of their right to bring in Bills, in order that other private Members might introduce coercive measures. That course of procedure was one which ought to be objected to by the House.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 23: Majority 76.—(Div. List, No. 196.)
§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. RICHARD SMYTH
said, that after the statement which had just been made by the hon. and learned Member for Cork County (Mr. Downing), it would be very injudicious on his (Mr. Smyth's) part if he occupied the time of the House, as his hon. and learned Friend had expressed what was said to be the intention of a section of hon. Members in that House. He (Mr. Smyth) would not contribute to that result; but would simply thank the hon. Member for Carlisle for making a way for the Bill, and also thank the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for making the Motion which had given effect to his hon. Friend's intention. The principle of his Bill was so well known to the House and the country that he would do no more than move that the House resolve itself into Committee upon it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Richard Smyth.)331
§ MR. MURPHY
rose to move, as an Amendment—That, in the opinion of this House, it is not expedient that the provisions of this Bill should he extended to the whole of Ireland.The hon. Gentleman said: Sir, in rising to propose the Resolution which appears in my name on the Paper, I have to ask the attention of hon. Members, while I proceed to lay before them the real position in which this question now stands; and, at the same time, afford them and the country the benefit of information which a late inquiry has, for the first time, brought to light. If I mistake not, this information will enable them to arrive at a conclusion precisely the reverse of that which this House has been induced to come to, on the second reading—a conclusion brought about, as I believe, by an undue and perhaps unconscious assumption of a state of facts which does not exist, and by the creation of an artificial so-called public opinion produced, in the main, by the persevering operations of a well-organized and active Association or Confederacy. Sir, that Confederacy has hitherto had an enormous advantage in its favour, in the generally accepted idea of the prevalence of wide-spread intemperance in Ireland, and particularly on Sundays. In fact, this idea has been a principal reason for the existence of the Confederacy, and I need scarcely say that its active agents have availed themselves of the advantage to the utmost of their power. What have they done? They come down to this House, and without even attempting to prove the fact, they broadly assert that wholesale intemperance prevails throughout the land, that the country is a nation of drunkards, and that the total closing of public-houses on Sundays will eradicate the vice; and they follow up these two false premises by roundly asserting that the people of Ireland are unanimously in favour of the measure. Give me leave to ask— Would they dare to propose such a measure to the people of England; would it not be scouted if they did; and can they for a moment suppose that they will be permitted to thrust down the throat of the people of Ireland an enactment which would not be received by Englishmen, and which would logically and necessarily give the imprimatur of Legislative authority to their patriotic 332 proclamation, that Ireland is a nation of intemperates? Now, Sir, I think it would be convenient to the House, if I put them in possession, shortly, of the history of this question, and asking for their indulgence as I do, I venture to hope that I shall not abuse it. It is now just 10 years since a Bill somewhat of this nature was introduced. A similar Bill was introduced at the same time for England, by the late Mr. Abel Smith, and both Bills stood on the Paper for second reading on the same evening, the English Bill being first. I came into the House about half-past 12 on that night, and, to my astonishment, found that the Member in charge of the Irish Bill (my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Langford) had moved the second reading, the English Bill having been postponed. I, however, gave Notice that I would oppose the Order for going into Committee; and I accordingly did so, and moved that it should be referred to a Select Committee, and carried my Motion on a division. It was then too late in the Session to proceed further, and in the following year I urged that a similar Bill should be read a second time on the understanding that it should be referred to a Select Committee, and that the Licensing Laws should form part of the inquiry. A similar course was adopted with regard to the English Bill. Both Bills were accordingly referred, and both Committees reported against them. The Report on the Irish Bill was unanimously against total Sunday closing, and a limitation of the hours was suggested—namely, that 9 o'clock p.m., in towns of over 5,000 inhabitants, and 7 o'clock p.m., in towns under that number, should for the future be the closing time on Sundays. In the year 1869 or 1870, a Bill was again brought in by the hon. and gallant Member for Langford, and I think a Bill also by Sir Dominic Corrigan; but finally, in 1872, the Act which now regulates the question of closing was brought in and passed by the Government of the day both for England and Ireland, and the precise hours recommended by the Select Committee on the Irish Bill for Closing on Sundays were adopted for Ireland. Perhaps I may mention that the late venerated Archbishop Leahy was one of the witnesses examined before the Committee— 333 and it is needless to say that he was a strong advocate for Sunday closing—but although they were put in full possession by him of the nature and effects of the voluntary system adopted by his advice and influence throughout his diocese, the Committee were unanimously of opinion that a restrictive and compulsory legislative enactment would not attain the same results; and it is to be noted that one half the Committee had voted in favour of the Bill. Well, Sir, on the passing of the Act of 1872, it was naturally thought that there was a settlement of the question; and so, indeed, it has proved so far as England is concerned. But very soon afterwards it appeared that the United Kingdom Alliance was formed, with a capital of £250,000, for advocating the Permissive Bill, and as stated by some, the ultimate suppression of the liquor traffic. They did not attempt to revive the question of Sunday closing in England directly, or at least actively; they knew that the feelings and habits of the people would revolt against it, but they willingly lent their co-operation and sympathy to the Sunday Closing Alliance in Ireland, judging, perhaps, that as regards their ultimate operations in England, the experimentum in corpore vili might be successfully tried on in Ireland; and hence, no doubt, the result of this holy alliance has been the agitation in that country and the producton of the Bill now before the House. In favour of this Bill there is no demonstration made by the masses. They are contented with the settlement of 1872. They do not complain that they are demoralized, intemperate, and incapable of self-restraint, owing to the operation of the present liquor laws. Yet this Association, assuming to be the representatives of benevolence and humanity, with a large, well-paid, and methodized Staff, sit down in their central bureau, take the Ordnance map, divide the country into portions, and send out their agents to canvass for signatures in favour of the Bill. They establish themselves in every town, they prepare forms of Petition against Sunday opening as a cause of intemperance, which are readily signed by Boards of Guardians and other local bodies. But, Sir, they go further. They procure by private canvass, and by means best known to themselves, the signatures 334 of electors in various localities to a form of requisition or remonstrance addressed to their representatives in this House in favour of the measure. Those requisitions, which are not adopted at public meetings, are sent from a central association in Dublin to hon. Members of this House by the secretary, with a letter couched in polite and affable terms, as if it emanated from their constituents, and requesting that due attention be paid to it, and its prayer supported. Must not every hon. Member receiving such a communication feel surprised and indignant at such a course? I question very much if such a course of conduct might not be considered an infringement of the privileges of this House, as it is plainly pursued with the object of compelling hon. Members to vote in a particular manner. I find that in 1874 the advocates of this Sunday-closing movement sent round a paper stating that the House of Commons divided, and that there were 42 Irish Members in favour of Sunday closing; but on looking at the Division List I found there were only 29. When the promoters of this Bill say that the unanimous consent of the people of Ireland—the preponderating opinion of all classes—is in favour of it, I deny altogether the accuracy of their statement. They have endeavoured to impose on the House by signatures to Petitions obtained Cod knows how. There is one class of persons specially interested in this measure. They do not ask for it. Is it right for others to legislate for them against their will? The promoters of this Bill are bound to prove that there is such an amount of intemperance in Ireland as to make legislative interference necessary. No one can say that interference would be improper to prevent a man from injuring himself or his neighbour; but to measure the amount a man is to drink when he is not injuring his neighbour or himself is an unjustifiable interference with personal liberty. I do not deny that the advocates of the measure are influenced by good motives; but I cannot conceal from myself the suspicion that selfishness enters largely into the calculations of many of the instruments in the movement. I think the promoters of the movement are bound to prove that there exists such an amount of intemperance in Ireland on Sunday as will justify Parliament in stepping in to close the public-houses on that day. 335 But that is not all. They are bound to show a remedy. They are also bound to prove that the closing of public-houses on Sundays would get rid of this intemperance. Again, they are bound to show that the class for whose benefit this measure is asked desire it. The statements of the promoters of the Bill are untrue; and, if true, the proposed remedy would be inefficacious. The promoters of this Bill come here with the broad assertion that such an amount of intemperance exists on Sundays as renders this day a day of scandal, of disorder, of insubordination, and of riot, and they therefore assert that the Legislature is bound to interfere and put a stop to such a state of things. But it is a fact that they have never taken the trouble even to prove their assumption. They seem to think there is no occasion to prove it, and they ask everyone who is against intemperance to back up their opinions without subjecting them to the light of facts. Since this agitation commenced, a Select Committee, which the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland moved for on the occasion of the second reading of this Bill, has been appointed, with limited powers, restricting the inquiry to five large towns specified by the Chief Secretary. I objected to the nature of that Committee. I think I used the words, that I objected to a fragmentary inquiry. If there was to be an inquiry, I said, let it be into the whole subject, and do not limit it to five towns, because it affects every urban population, more or less, and it equally affects every populous place, and on principle I cannot see why, if you are to have an inquiry at all, and if you are to upset the Report of the Select Committee of 1868, you are to restrict that inquiry to five towns. Of course, there was no use in my doing anything further than saying that, as the Government proposed that the Committee should confine its inquiries to Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, and Waterford. There was no help for it. The Select Committee was appointed, and they went to work. Now, up to that time, there never was any inquiry made into the truth of the assertion as to the positive amount of intemperance in any one district in Ireland on Sundays. No statistics were ever produced in this House showing whether the broad grounds on which the pro-posers of this Bill come to Parliament 336 are in fact true or not; but now I have before me in figures the result of the inquiry which took place before the Select Committee. I crave the House most earnestly to give me their attention while I state what I have not the slightest hesitation in saying will, after all the exaggerations that have been made, and all the settled and quasi-settled opinions which have been brought forward as to the amount of drunkenness existing on Sundays, put the matter in a different light, and I will only quote the figures furnished by officials whose duty it is to take account of what is passing in Ireland. I will take Belfast, with a population of 210,000. I have a Return here for the eight years from 1869 to 1876, showing the total number of arrests for drunkenness in each year, distinguishing Sundays from the other days of the week. The average number of arrests in Belfast for each of the eight years is very similar. In 1869 it was 9,239; in 1870, 8,776; in 1874, 7,014; in 1876, 7,192; but the average of the eight years shows the number of arrests per year to be 7,962. That would give a daily average of about 22 persons arrested for drunkenness in Belfast. Now we come to the Sunday, the most drunken day, it is said, in the week; the one in which the artizans and labourers have the greatest leisure; the one that has been paraded as such a monstrous excrescence in Ireland, that the Legislature is called upon in Cod's name to interfere to try and put a stop to the present state of things. Well, what does the House think was the number of arrests on Sundays? It was 476 for the whole year 1869, 439 for the next year, then 399, then 418, then 464, next 376, next 445, and 422 in the last year. There is a series of eight years taken, and it is found that the average number of arrests per Sunday in Belfast is only eight, as against a daily average of 22 for the whole year. I really do not know how it is that the promoters of this Bill come down to this House, and ask us to pass an Act for closing all public-houses in Ireland on Sundays, when the statistics and official Returns produced by witnesses above suspicion show that not only is there not an excessive amount of intemperance on Sundays, but that it is the day above all others in which there is the least amount of drunkenness. Next I come to Dublin, with a popula- 337 tion of 337,000. The number of arrests last year was 12,702, giving an average of 32 per day for the whole year. An enumeration was taken and laid before the Select Committee by the authorities in Dublin, showing the number of persons arrested on Saturdays, on Sundays, and on Thursdays during the months of November, December, and January last. The number appearing to have been arrested on Saturday was 919; on Thursday, which was selected as an intermediate day in the week, it was 453; and on Sunday it was 308, or one-third of the number arrested on Saturdays, and 50 per cent less than the arrests on Thursdays. Now, taking those three months as a guide for the year, the average per day for Saturdays was 70, for Thursdays 34, and for Sundays only 23. If statistics are right, if official information is right, if facts are all that is wanted to enable this House to form a judgment, where can you go further than you have done in this direction, and what justification do these Returns show for the promoters of this Bill to come down to this House and reiterate the broad declaration that Sunday in Ireland is a day of intemperance, disorder, and riot? With what face can these hon. Gentlemen come into this House, after these statistics, and ask this House to stultify itself, the facts and figures showing the very opposite of their contention? Now, I will turn to the city of Cork. That city has a population of 80,000 inhabitants. Everybody who knows anything of Cork knows that it has a large migratory population, and that it is a garrison town with a considerable military force. There is not a day in the week that sailors do not arrive there and depart; not a week that emigrants do not come into Cork and embark for America, or land in Cork on their return to this country. It is a thoroughfare between the Old and the New Worlds; so that, independently of its 80,000 inhabitants, it has a large migratory population; and a population of that class which, more than any other, would be likely to come under the supervision of the police. Well, what is the Return for Cork? The resident magistrate, Mr. Macleod, who was examined before the Select Committee, produced a Return for a period before the passing of the Licensing Act of 1872, and a Return for a period subsequent to the passing of that Act. He gave the total 338 number of arrests on Saturdays and Sundays for each of three years, which, with the permission of the House, I will read. The total number of arrests on Saturdays in 1870 was 546; in 1871, 503; and in the next year 463. I beg the House to mark these figures. When I contrast them with the Sunday arrests, what do I find? Whereas in the year in which 546 were arrested on Saturdays, the arrests on Sundays were 272. In the next year, when there were 503 arrests on Saturdays, there were only 256 on Sundays; and the 463 in the following year contrasted with 231 on Sundays, giving an average of the three years of about five persons arrested each Sunday in the three years for drunkenness. For 1874, 1875, and 1876, years in which there was a greater amount of supervision by the police under the new licensing law, we have a further Return, and although that Return shows an increase in the number of arrests on Saturdays, yet no palpable increase is shown in the number of arrests on Sundays, except in one year. In 1874 there were 625 persons arrested on Saturdays, while the arrests on Sundays were 227. In 1875 there were 630 on Saturdays, and 283 on Sundays; but in 1876 there was an increase in the arrests on both days, the number being 830 and 370 respectively. A special reason is given in the evidence before the Committee for that increase, and it is only right I should mention it to the House. It appears that last year a section of the Roman Catholic clergymen in a certain district of Cork, which was not the most reputable portion of the city, felt it their duty to use every possible effort for the purpose of eradicating certain dens of infamy existing within that district. The measures they took were such as only the Catholic clergy of Ireland could use, and their efforts were successful in clearing out those places. But one consequence of this was, that the unfortunate inmates being deprived of any other place to go to crowded the worst class of public-houses, and so swelled the amount of drunkenness and the number of arrests. The resident magistrate has furnished us with a summary also for the five years, including 1876, of the total number of arrests on Saturdays, Sundays, and Thursdays. The number of arrests on Saturdays for the five years was 3,281, on Thursdays 1,672, and on Sundays 339 1,411. That is, as he summarizes the Returns in his own words, "five arrests on Sunday against six on Thursday, and as against 12 on Saturday." Now again I ask, what justification have the promoters of this measure to come down to this House at all? Where is the case which it was presumed they had made? Where is this widespread intemperance on the Sunday? What right have they to come to this House and, upon a general assumption of insobriety and disorder, ask for a measure to put a stop to that which upon inquiry it is found does not exist? And, Sir, I am by no means surprised at the desperate attempts which have been made by the promoters of this measure to hurry it through the House, to carry it "at a run," as they call it, after what must inevitably take place in Ireland now that these Returns have been published. What has taken place in my own town? I have personally been told, when last I was in Cork, and by the letters I have received from men who were notorious advocates for Sunday closing—men who have again and again asked me why I am opposing this Bill—men who signed Petitions in favour of it, they have come to me and said—"Oh, Mr. Murphy, we have read the evidence given before the Committee, and it seems there is no reason for this Bill at all. We believe it is a tyrannical measure, and that the masses who are not given to intemperance will justly resent it if it is passed." A very respectable gentleman said to me—"If this measure passes a brooding discontent will rise up amongst those who are respectable, who have never drank to excess, and who do not want a stigma cast upon them. These men will find themselves injured, and will look upon themselves as Pariahs, and no one will be able to tell what may arise from the feelings of discontent which it will engender." I will now pass on to some facts and figures relating to Limerick, which will show the real state of existing affairs, and make the House wonder that any body of Gentlemen can come down to the House to ask for a measure upon assurances disproved by official witnesses. The population of Limerick is 39,000, and from official Returns I find the total number of arrests during the year 1875 was 3,235, and in 1876 the number was very similar, 3,262. This will give an average of nine persons arrested per 340 diem for intemperance. On Sundays I find that in 1875 the number of arrests was 307, or an average of six against an average of nine; in 1876, the Sunday arrests were 279. These are not exceptional years, but the fair average, and being drawn from official evidence, afford a good ground for judging of the habits of the people, so far as can be officially done. Does that show Sunday to be a day of exceptional intemperance? Does that show, in the judgment of this House, that, so far as Limerick is concerned, there is any necessity for stringent legislative enactment? Does that show there was any ground for interfering with the settled habits, tastes, and opinions of the people? Does that show that this House has any need to step in, and on Sunday, the only day in the week when the people have an opportunity to meet together to chat over family or other matters, to say to them—"This is the day on which you shall have all the public-houses closed?" I say that the good sense of the House ought to feel insulted and, as it were, befooled, if now that the general allegation which has hitherto been made, and which has for the first time been disproved, is not withdrawn, and if we are still asked to pass this measure, which it has been shown is not applicable to the country, and will, if passed, cast an undeserved stigma upon the people of Ireland. Now I come to Waterford. In Waterford there is a population of, I think, 29,000. The official Returns of arrests given for 1876 show that they numbered 1,459, or a daily average of four persons. I happen to have, in this case, a very curious Return of the number of arrests for every day in the week. On Mondays there were 268 arrests, on Tuesdays 219, on Wednesdays 172, on Thursdays 162, on Fridays 169, on Saturdays 335—just double—and on Sundays 134. This shows an average of arrests on Sundays of 2½, as against an average daily arrest of 4, and as against an average of 8 on Saturdays. I cannot, again, help expressing my surprise that with these facts and figures at hand, and with more of the same kind in the possession of the Association, hon. Gentlemen promoting the measure can come to the House and say—"The Sunday in Ireland is a most drunken, disorderly day, and we ask the House to interfere for God's sake, and throw its legislative ægis over us for 341 protection against this terrible vice of drunkenness." I cannot but feel indignant that in the face of inexorable facts such a call should be made. Having given the daily number of arrests in the five towns, and brought out the proportion for each day, showing how much less drunkenness there is on Sundays than on any other day, I will now give a succinct summary of the aggregate Returns for the eight years. The total population of the five towns is 691,000, the yearly arrests were 28,515, giving an average of 79 persons per diem; while the arrests on Sundays were 2,453, giving the proportion per diem of Sunday arrests as 46½ or 47, as against 79 for the other days of the week. Again, Sir, I ask how is it possible to justify the charges which have been brought against the Irish people, and the people of those five towns in particular, in the face of these Returns? But, Sir, independently of these Returns we have other Returns of an interesting character to which I now desire to call the attention of the House. These Returns give us the total number of arrests in Ireland in the year 1876, as well as the total number of arrests upon Sunday in the same year, and it is curious to observe how those amounts approximate in ratio to the figures I have already given, showing how much akin in their habits are the urban and the rural populations in Ireland. Well, Sir, the total number of arrests in Ireland in that particular year—1876—was 95,684. That being the total number of arrests for the entire year, the proportion of them which would belong to Sunday would be 14,000; but what will the House think was the actual number? Why, Sir, instead of being 14,000, the total number of arrests on Sunday was only 9,490, or less than 10 per cent. Test these figures in whatever way you wish, twist them and turn them about as you will, and still the same result is brought out. Again, then, I say there is no pretence for the advocates of this measure coming here and asking the House to pass it into law. They cannot be ignorant of these facts, and, therefore, they either entirely forget them, or totally ignore them. Having gone through these Returns with regard to the total number of arrests in Ireland for the year as contrasted with those which took place on Sundays, there is 342 one other point to which it is necessary I should direct the attention of the House before I leave this branch of the subject, and that is the fact that the number of arrests for intemperance, whether we take those for the whole of Ireland or those for the principal towns, is no criterion whatever as to the number of individuals charged with that offence. What I mean to say is, that the amount or number of committals does not square with the fact that there were the same number of distinct persons arrested. I have proofs of this of the most striking kind, obtained from the Courts of petty sessions, from the magistrates, and from other official sources. Take, for example, the city of Waterford. The information I obtained there illustrates the fact which I wish to impress on the attention of the House. The average number of arrests on Sunday in Waterford is 134, and when I asked the clerk of petty sessions how many of the persons charged were known to the magistrates as habitual drunkards, he told me that very nearly one-half of them were of that description, so that Return does not concern more than about 60 persons. The Governor of Cork Gaol has also given me Returns for the years 1872, 1873, 1874, and 1875, and they go to show the total number of committals for these four years with the total number of individuals committed; and it may interest the House to have them stated, as they further exemplify my proposition. The total number of men, taken individually, committed to Cork Gaol in the course of these four years was 1,674, and the total number of women, similarly regarded, 1,125—making in all 2,799 distinct persons, but what was the number of committals? Why, Sir, they numbered 5,118. The average number of distinct persons committed to Cork Gaol in each of those years was 699, or, in round numbers, 700; whereas the average number of committals was 1,280, so that the House will again see what I am trying to impress upon its attention, that the number of committals is no criterion whatever of the number of distinct persons sent to prison. It does not follow that because there were 5,118 committals that there were 5,118 distinct persons committed, for, as the Return shows, they did not exceed 2,799. I have, moreover, taken the trouble to consult a very 343 valuable Return, which was moved for by Colonel Ackroyd, at one time a Member of this House, and it affords materials for contrasting the several counties in Ireland with that of one county where Sunday closing has been voluntarily adopted at the instance of the late Archbishop of Cashel, the most rev. Dr. Leahy. The Return shows the result which that good and esteemed Prelate brought about; but even with all his personal influence, aided by all the influence which attached to his clerical standing, he was not able to do in a moment all that he has done. The good Archbishop did not rely on "hey, presto!" legislation. He did not say—"Pass a Bill, and at once produce an effect." His evidence shows that it was not by any sudden edict published from the altar upon a Sunday, or by any ukase, if I may use the word, that he has brought about the reform which is associated with his name. He himself describes the process which he adopted, and which it took him some years to work to any real effect. He went about from parish to parish in his diocese, speaking to publican after publican upon the subject, until at length he brought about a general consensus of opinion in regard to it; and hence the voluntary closing of public-houses on Sunday throughout his archdiocese in the county of Tipperary. That consent was to some extent attributable to religious influence; but if the Archbishop had attempted to bring it about at once, he might as well have attempted to change the winds of Heaven. It was by a slow and tentative process, and by that alone, he was able to bring about a change which has been productive of extraordinary good to the people of Tipperary, and I believe that the same result could be brought about in all the other counties of Ireland by the same means. I say that the only mode of carrying out a reform such as this, is by moral suasion. Instruct the people; hold out to them good examples; find for them better dwellings, so that the wretched condition of the poor man's home may not drive him for comfort to the public-house, and there will not be any longer a semblance of an excuse for the introduction of a measure such as this; for it is a libel—it is a gross and unjust libel on the people of Ireland to say that legislation like this is necessary to preserve them from the vice of intemperance. You have to deal with a 344 great difficulty, and one of a very exceptional character, and therefore you should deal with it temperately; but do not brand the people of Ireland as drunkards that you may bring about a change which everyone will admit is good and well-intentioned. The means by which you attempt it are not the right means. I have here a Return which contrasts the condition of the people of Tipperary with that of the people of Cork, and contrasts the people of Tipperary with themselves, both before and after the voluntary closing, and the figures will, I think, speak for themselves. The number of persons committed in 1860 to gaol in Tipperary, where the population is considerably less than in Cork, was 2,150. In the same year the number committed to gaol in Cork, where the population is very nearly one-half as much greater than it is in Tipperary, was just 1,357. In the next year, when the ukase came in force, the number committed in Tipperary was 1,562. This diminution I regard as a most gratifying result. I now turn to Cork, and find that the number of persons committed there was only 781, as contrasted with 1,357 in the previous year, showing that the population in both counties was even then becoming more moderate in regard to the use of intoxicating drink. Passing over a decade of years, I come to 1870, 1871, 1872, and 1873, and I find that in the first-mentioned year the committals in Tipperary were 1,343, in the second 1,106, in the third 797, and in the fourth 1,055. The same diminution is observable in Cork, where the committals, taking the same four years, were respectively 1,701, 956, 1,076, and 645. I have taken these two instances to show this, that it is altogether a mistake to suppose that intemperance is progressing in Ireland. There may, perhaps, be more whiskey and more potheen consumed, or at least made for consumption, by the people now than heretofore, but it is a most undeniable fact, based upon evidence, that intemperance has not increased among the people; and most distinctly do I deny that intemperance has increased there upon Sundays, the day when there is the greatest temptation to it, but when, as a rule, the greatest order and sobriety prevail among the people. Having given the House these particulars, it is now my 345 duty to refer to the opinions of official witnesses given before the Select Committee as to the effect of Sunday closing, as that is the real question which the House has now to consider. You have not so much to consider what is the amount of intemperance. I believe myself it is, relatively speaking, infinitesimally small. But it is the remedy for it you have to look to, for that is the real fact which ought to engage the attention of the House. If it can be shown by the evidence of men above all partizanship, who are impartial and beyond prejudice or suspicion, and who give their opinion under the weight of responsibility—men who are by the nature of the office which they fill able to form the best opinion upon the subject—that Sunday closing in Scotland has not led to all those advantages which the advocates of this measure claim for it, and if it can be shown by the same class of evidence that it is not likely to lead to any better results in Ireland should it be adopted there, then, I think, the House will pause before it passes this Bill. I will now direct your attention to the evidence of the official gentlemen examined before the Select Committee. Before I go to that, it may be desirable to show what is the opinion of men capable of forming a correct opinion with regard to the working of what may be called the analogous system in Scotland. As I have already observed, a great deal has been said by the advocates of this measure of the working of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland as a reason why Parliament should accept their proposal. They say—"See how it works; see the benefits which it has conferred on that country. Why not try the same experiment in Ireland that has been tried in Scotland with such marvellous results! Let us make Sunday in Ireland a sober Sabbath, and as grave as it is in Scotland." That would be very well, all other things being alike; but is it true that the Forbes-Mackenzie Act has produced such an amount of temperance in Scotland as the advocates of this measure allege? Is it true that there is less drunkenness there now than there was before the passing of that Act? Is it not, on the other hand, notorious that it is all the other way? Again, is it not the fact that the object of the authors of that Act was not so much to suppress intemperance—which, 346 of course, if they could, they would be very glad to do—as to enforce a greater outward observance of the Sabbath, which, according to traditions and Scotch feeling, the whole country were anxious to preserve, and to which they willingly subscribed? Permit me on this point refer to the experience of Mr. Badenoch Nicholson, the secretary of the Lord Advocate. Being asked as to what had been the effect of that Act upon the habits of the working classes, if he thought they abstained from the use of alcoholic drinks on Sunday, and if not whether they acquired them illicitly, or whether they laid in a store, his answer was, that it was difficult to form an opinion, but he was afraid he could not represent it in the light of having led to a diminution of intemperance on Sunday; that he thought the motive of those who got the Act passed was more a consideration of good order, than an expectation that it would increase temperance. I think you will agree with me that these facts as regards the working of the system in Scotland ought to make the House pause and consider before extending it to Ireland, even if they thought it necessary, where the habits of the people are entirely different. I do not see what would justify us in passing a law which would lead to secret and illicit drinking, an evasion of the law, and that which has never yet prevailed in Ireland—the introduction of spirits into the homes of the people, to be drunk in the presence of their wives and children, and so gradually pave the way to the corruption of the morals of both—a result which cannot fail to be very terrible in its consequences. I will now refer the House to the evidence of Captain Talbot, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Dublin, who was examined before the Committee on this question. He says, in answer to an inquiry, that he thinks the total closing of public-houses on Sunday would drive the people to other places in search of stimulants; that, as a rule, the people did not drink before 2 o'clock on that day; that they then wanted a glass of beer at their dinner, and that they sent to the public-house for it. That had reference to a fact which had been proved before the Committee, that the greater portion of illicit drinking in Dublin takes place before the houses are open. What, then, is the logical sequence of all this? If illicit drinking 347 takes place now, when the houses are open for a certain portion of the day on Sundays, how much more will it prevail if they be closed throughout the whole of that day? He was then asked if, supposing it were possible to put a stop to the illicit sale of drink, what would be the effect of the Bill; and he replied that the only answer he had to give to that question was that if they made it possible for a man to obtain drink legally he would buy the drink in regularly-licensed houses; that he was entirely against the total closing; and that he did not think it right the working classes should be deprived of the opportunity of obtaining what was necessary refreshment. I would now ask the House if that evidence is not beyond suspicion and impartial, given as it was under official responsibility. Captain Talbot's evidence goes to show that the total closing of public-houses on Sunday would intensify the evil that already exists, and while it would not prevent the drunkard from getting drink, it would shut out the respectable tradesmen and artizans from obtaining it. In point of fact, it would punish the vast majority of the respectable citizens in order that the minority might be experimented upon, and the Bill ought not, in the interests of the minority, to be allowed to pass into an Act of Parliament. Another witness, Sub-Inspector Corr, was asked—You say there is less drunkenness on Sunday than on other days in Dublin. How much of that is to he attributed, do you think, to the earlier closing of public-houses?His reply was—The parties who go in to drink at those respectable public-houses do not go in for the purpose of indulging in drink. They go in more for the purpose of companionship, to have their chat over their glass of whatever they are taking than anything else. Those that go in at an early hour on Sunday are a very respectable class. They are very young men in some of the most respectable commercial establishments in the city of Dublin. I know that those who resort to these respectable houses on Sunday do not go in there, and they would not be tolerated in one of those houses, if they were under the influence of drink. I have never seen a man come out of one who was under the influence of drink.That is the testimony given by a man who had the best opportunities of forming an opinion on the subject. In these respectable houses there is no such thing as excess. Sunday is of all days in the 348 week the one on which there is the least intemperance, and yet you are asked to punish the public-houses and the people who frequent them for the experiment of trying to wean drunkards from their evil courses. I will refer briefly to the evidence of two other witnesses, who are important from the position they occupy and. from their ability to form an opinion upon the subject. One of those witnesses is a highly respectable gentleman, a man of most conscientious opinions, and one who entertains very strong feelings on the subject of the closing of public-houses on Sunday. At the same time, he is a gentleman who would not give an opinion he did not believe to be true. I allude to the Recorder of Dublin, Mr. Falkiner. He is one of the most active sympathizers with the measure. The House will see how far the Report expresses his opinion as to the concrete right—if I may call it so—of passing such a measure as this. Mr. Falkiner says—I may state that, in coming over to give evidence before this Committee, if it had not been for the principle of this measure having been affirmed by the vote of this House, and by what I believed to be a very large weight of public opinion in Ireland, I should hesitate much indeed to express my strong view upon it, because I should be very sorry to take from the people a single pleasure which they have at present which is consistent with their welfare; and, on the other hand, I should be most desirous, according to my humble judgment and ability, to add to them as many as might be, and I recognize that much, with regard to the future of this measure, necessarily rests upon speculation; but, at the same time, having regard to the affirmations that I have spoken of, both by the House and by the large expression of public opinion in the sister country, I cannot, after mature consideration, see any sufficient reasons for a differential legislation, and, above all, in the city of Dublin, where, I believe, the evils against which this measure are directed exist in a very aggravated form.I have read this evidence as showing the feelings of the learned Recorder on both sides of the question, and I think it would be unwise to endeavour to conceal from the House the evidence given by those who are friends of the Bill. Mr. Falkiner was further asked this question, and I think it advisable to direct the attention of the House to his answer—You have seen the Returns of the number of persons arrested in Dublin for Sunday drinking, and you have seen that there are less than on any other day to which the Returns relate?349 His answer was—I did not know that they were less than on any other day to which the Returns relate, taking Thursday and Saturday. There were 34 on the Thursday and 70 on the Saturday, as against 24 on the Sunday. That quite justifies your question.He was then asked—Having regard to this Bill, which deals altogether with Sunday closing, which has no reference to any other days in the week, would you conceive that there is a reason for passing this measure as regards Sunday, because there is less drunkenness on Sunday than on any other day of the week?" "Not at all. I said that all through I was aware that a great deal less crime was brought before the magistrate on Monday morning, and that there was a good deal more from Saturday than there was from Sunday; and I said I would not have anything to do with the passing of this measure if it were not for social reasons, and I therefore declared that as I thought Sunday being the pleasure day, the holiday, and the wage-spending day to a large extent, there was much to be hoped for in the way of moral improvement, and I began by considering that this drunkenness, of which I speak, is not confined to Sunday at all.That is evidence called on behalf of the promoters of the Bill.Would you conceive," he is asked, "having regard to the object of this Bill, which is confined to Sunday closing and to nothing else, that, there being less drunkenness on Sunday than on any other day of the week, therefore that the Bill should be passed?" "No, not at all. That is not the reason at-all; it would be arithmetically absurd; but I laboured very hard indeed to show that that was not my opinion. I must say that in consequence of that possessing me, I never for one moment suggested any such arithmetical consideration, and stated all through that my reason for approving of Sunday closing, and for hoping for good from it, was the moral and social grounds arising from a variety of considerations, and I attempted to explain that this measure for Sunday is not applicable to Saturday.I ask the House to consider whether the opinions thus given by a gentleman so strongly in favour of the Bill are such as would justify the House, in the face of admitted facts placed before them, to rush hurriedly into the enactment of this measure, which at best, according to the views of its own promoters, can be but an experiment, and whether the House ought not to pause in order to enable the country to form a rational, fair, and just opinion upon the evidence placed before them. Having now given the evidence of the Recorder, I will read very briefly an answer to a question that was asked of the divisional magis- 350 trate in Dublin, a gentleman who has had the most ample opportunities of forming a judgment on the question, and one whose opinion, if that of any official is to be taken to weigh at all, and to be gravely considered by the House, ought to be absolutely conclusive on the subject. Mr. O'Donnell said—I must say that after fully considering the question as carefully as I could, and from my experience as a magistrate for nearly 11 years, I am opposed to the total closing of public-houses on Sunday.He was then asked to state to the Committee why he had formed that opinion. He said—It is a very large question, involving a great many views; but, of course, I shall endeavour to convey to you, as clearly and as briefly as I can, how it is I am influenced in coming to that conclusion. It is, as it were, a sort of jump in the dark, in trying a measure for the first time. None of us can see exactly how it will turn out. But I think it is very desirable, in looking at a question of this kind, to judge, as far as we can, of what may happen in the future from what has happened in the past, under a similar state of things. If you look at the city of Dublin on Sundays you will find that the law as it at present stands makes all licensed houses for the sale of drink to be absolutely closed for one-half of Sunday; and therefore, so far as the objects and designs of this Bill would go in a beneficial direction by closing for the remaining portion of Sunday, we may have some clue to guide us by noting how it acts for the first portion of the Sunday, in which legally all houses are closed at present. My experience as a magistrate is this— that during the first portion of the Sunday, in which no house can be legally opened until 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when public-houses are opened by law, there is as bad drinking, as much in extent and more deteriorating and demoralizing to the people, than the drinking that goes on afterwards. That has been clearly proved to us over and over again in the numerous cases that came at the licensing sessions before Mr. Woodlock and myself, at which the licensed spirit grocers and beer-dealers, wholesale and retail, applied for the renewal of their licences. Then it was for the first time that I really became aware of the enormous extent, and the deplorable extent, of illicit drinking in Dublin. It was proved before us in numerous cases, during the fortnight that we sat, in each of the two last years, for it took us that time sitting all day long to get through all the cases for each period, that in the low, squalid districts, where there are miles almost of poor, filthy streets, with lanes off them and court-ways and alleys off those lanes again, there were known houses, known to the police also, carrying on illicit trade, where crowds of people congregated and got drink; but there was no getting legal evidence of the fact,351 Mr. O'Donnell goes on to describe the impossibility of the police getting at the facts. He goes on to say—These facts come before me as a magistrate, and knowing those things, I ask myself what astonishing benefit will he served by closing public-houses and licensed-houses after 2 o'clock if we see that such are the results, so far, of closing before 2 o'clock?He says, further—What would take place in Dublin if, by the operation of this Act, if it passes, the public-houses were suddenly closed at 2 o'clock? I ask myself, who are the people who frequent the public-houses?"—this is important, as giving his opinion—"It is a very curious thing which has appeared in evidence with regard to illicit drinking before 2 o'clock that directly 2 o'clock arrived immediately the whole trade ceased, and of course the after-consumption in the city was expended in the public-house. But who are the people, then, that go to the public-house? Numbers upon numbers of people who frequent the public-houses have got moral restraint over themselves, and sense of decency and self-respect, and refrain from going to the illicit houses, to the beer-houses, and to low-class places of that kind. They wait till 2 o'clock comes, and then some of them go to the public-houses, and stay there perhaps for an hour or two hours. They go away, and others come in later on, and those are the class of people whom I look upon as the decenter class, as the more respectable and the humbler classes of Dublin, the working people and the trades-people. Supposing, now, that you shut up the public-houses at 2 o'clock, what would become of those people? That is what I ask myself. Can I believe that, like good little boys at school, grown-up men, men with plenty of money in their pockets, after their hard week's work, and earning good wages, from 15s. to 20s., to £2 10s. and £3, and some of them more, if they have a desire for drink will refrain, because you pass an Act for shutting up those public-houses. If they can get it will they refrain from drinking? Then comes the question, if you shut up the public-houses by law, and the police are active in keeping them shut, can they prevent those people with money in their pockets from getting drunk in the city of Dublin? I say again that you cannot do it, and for this reason: Dublin is saturated with drink, it is flooded with drink, it is the staple manufacture. Every kind of drink which the people care to consume is manufactured in unlimited quantities in Dublin; every third or fourth house, even in respectable streets, deals in drink. The whiskey is excellent, and. the porter ditto. Can you prevent that drink getting into the throat of a thirsty man with money in his pocket to pay for it, even if you shut up the public-houses? My impression is, that you cannot. Then what will those people do to get the drink, the public-houses being closed? Some will adopt the practice which they never adopted before; they will go to illicit houses, and drink beer and whiskey there, of very inferior quality, and those houses, by reason of the shutting up of the public-houses, will be 352 greatly increased in number, and their trade will be increased in every squalid street of Dublin.I ask the House if it is possible to hear evidence such as that, and for a moment to doubt the impropriety of this measure now sought to be hurried through the House, even without adequate investigation? I have confined myself to reading the evidence given in regard to Dublin; but the same class of evidence was given in reference to Cork, Belfast, Limerick, and Waterford, and the sample I have given with reference to Dublin is the same in reference to all the other towns. A great deal has been said about public opinion and the opinion of the Press. It is very true that a powerful organization which exists, with money and agents for the circulation of its views, has gained over some converts, on the assumption that the question was one that required to be dealt with; but let me read an extract from a letter written by a most respectable magistrate of the county of Cork, who knows the country well, to a Cork newspaper. Mr. Payne, writing from Bantry, says—I have read your article of the 15th instant on this subject, and perhaps you will allow me, as a magistrate of 32 years' experience, to say that I fully agree with the opinions you have there expressed. In the district of this county with which I am connected as a magistrate we have an urban, a rural, and a seafaring population of over 30,000, and the number of prosecutions for drunkenness during the last 12 months was 311, which just amounts to this—that one person in every hundred got drunk once in the year. I do not suppose that the city of Cork and this district differ very materially in this respect from other parts of Ireland, and with these figures I cannot conceive how drunkenness can be called 'the national sin,' nor can I see the slightest necessity for what appears to me class legislation of the most trying and invidious nature. I believe the effect of it would be the very opposite to the expectations of its amiable promoters, that it would make 'Ireland a land of she been houses,' and cause the dangerous habit, at present happily so exceptional, of laying in supplies for drinking in private.I will also read an extract from a letter addressed on the 18th of this month to a Cork paper by a gentleman of the name of Costello. Mr. Costello I find is a licensed victualler, living in Queenstown, but he has not opened his house for 20 years on a Sunday, so that he can truly be regarded as suspicions major on the subject. The Fleet was in Queenstown last week, and the whole country came down to look at it. Sunday was the great gala day, and Mr. Costello says— 353Vast numbers came by the excursion trains from Limerick, Waterford, Fermoy, Killarney, Macroom, Kinsale, and Youghal to avail themselves of that rare treat of inspecting those magnificent vessels of the Channel Squadron, but particularly the Thunderer, which was besieged by an admiring crowd of not less than 20,000 persons, besides the vast numbers that proceeded in the river and railway steamers to visit the other vessels of the squadron in the harbour: permit me to say a few words. It was computed by many that there must have been no less than 70,000 souls in Queenstown yesterday, and in no single instance has it been known that the interference of the Constabulary was required. When I dwell on the fact that at the hour of 4 o'clock no ale or porter, lemonade, ginger-beer, or other similar drink could be had in any of the public-houses that were open, and that during those hours vast crowds of all classes, including men-of-war's men, met in those houses, and nothing but social harmony and the most kindly feelings prevailed, I now question any of the pleaders for Sunday closing, if the measure were in force in Ireland, would Queenstown be so peaceable and orderly as it was on this occasion, when blue-jackets, civilians, and marines were in close communication in all parts of the town? If the sale of drink on Sunday had not been in existence here, it is obvious to any rational person what the issue would have been; and as long as railway companies continue to give excursions of this kind on the different railways of the country the total closing of public-houses would be attended with disorder, confusion, and perhaps insubordination against authority. There is no denying that this state of society in Queens-town on Sunday was due in a great measure to the exemplary conduct of the men from each of Her Majesty's vessels. Not only was their general conduct such as to speak volumes for the discipline of the men on board of those vessels; but the humane and kind attention bestowed on the vast numbers that were privileged to visit the Thunderer was the general topic of conversation by all on reaching the landing on shore. From all were eulogiums conferred on the officers aboard the turret ship, from the commander, Lord Charles Beresford, to the apprentice sailor boy; many were the good wishes given them, which they all in general well deserve, on their departure from our noble harbour.This letter speaks the sentiments of every individual of the slightest thought, and is, therefore, of peculiar value. I thank the House for its indulgence. There are other topics which I might dwell upon, but as other hon. Members have to come after me I will refrain. When the facts go forth to the country which I have brought before the House, and men have time calmly to consider the subject, then even as regards those who may be inclined to lend themselves to the philanthropic and humanitarian views of the subject, I believe that, so far from lending themselves to the support of this legislation, they will strongly op- 354 pose a measure which, although introduced in good faith, is but at the best a makeshift, and would be oppressive in its operation. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment.
§ MR. M. BROOKS,
in seconding the Amendment, said, it was his duty to inform the House, as one of the Representatives of the metropolitan City of Ireland, that the people of Dublin had no desire for the provisions of this Bill to be extended to that City. In corroboration of that statement, it would be his duty to give the House a few of the reasons which, in his opinion, justified him in making it, and the first of which was, that the learned Recorder of Dublin, in a recent Charge, had truly observed that it was preposterous to think that society could be regenerated by Sunday closing, or by the refusal of spirit licences, if nothing else was done. On the back of the Bill he found the name of the hon. Member for Londonderry, (Mr. Richard Smyth) who voted against the Bill for opening Museums and Art Galleries on Sundays. The hon. Member for Derry (Mr. Charles Lewis) and the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. J. Corry) who voted against that measure, had also backed the present Bill. He also found the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) on the back of the Bill, and he had also voted against the opening of the Museums and Art Galleries on Sundays. He (Mr. Brooks) contended that a proposal which had been supported by all those hon. Gentlemen who were members of the Presbyterian Church, and which would be all very well for the Presbyterians in the North of Ireland, ought not to be extended to the population of the South of Ireland, as it did not accord with the desires and instincts of the people of the Southern districts. The learned Recorder of Dublin had said in his evidence before the Committee, that he would not vote for any measure which was simply one of repression, and which did not provide for the people some substitute for the public-houses. He had further said, in regard to the Bill, that he did not know that any other certain result would follow its operation, except that illicit drinking would be increased in the City of Dublin. Well, he thought these were reasons why Dublin should be exempted from the operation of the 355 Bill; but he thought there were other reasons connected with Dublin being the metropolitan City which did not prevail with regard to Wexford or the diocese of Dublin. Like London, with its Brighton, Richmond, Greenwich, &c, Dublin had its suburban places of resort, and amongst them Kingstown and Bray; but, if this Bill passed into law, the visitors to those places would be unreasonably deprived of those advantages, as respected refreshments, which were enjoyed by the people of other cities of which he had knowledge, such as Paris. Dublin had, moreover, large classes of operatives, and it was a garrison town, and a seaport; and if this Bill passed, large bodies of soldiers, sailors, and railway porters, &c, would be deprived of the opportunity of obtaining reasonable and moderate refreshment on Sundays. If public opinion in Dublin had declared in favour of closing the public-houses on Sundays, the clergy and the inhabitants would, as in other towns, have invited the licensed victuallers to abstain from the sale of intoxicating liquors. Had they done so, he believed that the influence of the clergy was so great in Ireland that the necessary reforms could be carried out by that means without any enactment of this kind. He must again say that, as one of the Members for the City of Dublin, he could assert with confidence that the 40,000 working men of the City were opposed to the Bill, which would be a stigma upon their character and their reputation. Whilst, undoubtedly, there might be in Dublin some few habitual drunkards, the wishes of the 40,000 men ought to prevail over the wishes of those who did not use public-houses, and who endeavoured to suppress drunkenness by this coercive measure.
To leave oat 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 he extended to the whole of Ireland," — (Mr. Murphy,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he was anxious to say a few words on the subject. He had felt very strongly on the question 356 during the whole of his career; and now, at the close of that career, he wished for the first time to state the opinion he had held as well at the commencement, as now at the close. The Bill was an exceptional one, and for an exceptional Bill there were required reasons to justify that exception. What was the measure? It was an attempt to infringe the liberty of every private man to do as he pleased with respect to his drinking, by saying that on a particular day he should be shut out from the ordinary means of obtaining refreshment to assuage the necessities of nature, because, by that means, intemperance would be prevented on the part of others. But they must prove that the mischief existed, and that the mode of remedy suggested would be effectual. Now, until the present Bill was introduced he had believed that the people of Ireland—at least the great majority— really desired it; and, because he so believed, he had voted with the Government for bringing the question on for discussion to-day. He had, however, heard a speech that day, which had entirely disabused him of that idea, not only in regard to the feelings of the people of Ireland, but also as to the facts of the present case. He had been told that the great body of the people of Ireland with regard to this matter desired a Bill of Coercion, and he had also been told, and believed, that Sunday drinking was peculiar in this respect— that Sunday was the day on which people generally got drunk, and when they presented a spectacle of intemperance far worse than was to be found elsewhere. Exceptional legislation was therefore demanded, as he had thought, because of the great excesses which occurred on that day. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy) had, however, shown, in the first place, that there was not that general demand for the Bill which had been represented, and, in the next place, that Sunday, so far from being the exceptional day of intemperance, was the exceptional day of temperance in Ireland. Now, this was a sumptuary law to guide the people in their private habits, but where was this kind of legislation to stop? It was all very well to say that this was a great evil to be dealt with. No one was more convinced than himself of the miseries of intemperance; no one deplored more than he did the ex- 357 cess of intemperance in this country; but to say that such an evil existed was not to show him that the remedy propounded by this Bill would be effectual. What would be the result if this Bill became law? Would anyone be prepared to say that it would in any way diminish drunkenness? This was a question of importance, and one that ought to be satisfactorily answered. Did anyone mean to say that by shutting up the public-houses on Sunday in Ireland the people would become more temperate? He asserted that they would not. The House knew what the consequence would be. A man who wanted drink, and who had money in his pocket, would always be able to get it. Let the House make laws of the most restrictive character, and put a policeman in every street, and yet if people who had the means wanted to get drunk, they would do so. It was not at that end of the scale that Parliament could put down drunkenness. It was not by restrictive legislation that drunkenness was to be checked; but by education, and, more than that, by allowing the people on Sunday to have rational amusement and innocent means of recreation by the opening of Museums and Galleries. Those persons who opposed in every possible way the opening of Museums— the opening of modes of really innocent and rational amusement, had done more to promote drunkenness than all the licensed victuallers in the Kingdom; nay, they must provide for the people of the country the mode of passing their days and hours of leisure in a rational and innocent manner, and afford them the means of enjoying themselves in the bosom of their families, and of getting to places where they could derive amusement from the the treasures of art and science, and they would be doing their duty; but they would not be doing their duty by making restrictive laws against keeping open public-houses on Sundays, and, at the same time, keeping our Galleries and Museums closed. By so doing, the House would only open 10,000 she been houses. For every public-house that would be shut up, depend upon it 10 or 20 of these wretched hovels would be opened. A man who now wanted refreshment went honestly and fairly into a public-house, and did not feel that he degraded himself; but if the Bill passed, the same man would 358 skulk into a she been house in order to avoid publicity, and men would be committing a crime in their hearts when they were now only doing what was innocent and proper in itself. He felt deeply on the subject, and if the House of Commons sanctioned these restrictive rules, it would only be offering a premium upon bigotry and intolerance.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, he would support the Bill, although he candidly admitted that, seeing the influential minority opposed to it, he was inclined to pause before giving his assent to all its provisions. The constituencies of Ireland, except those of five largo towns, had shown that they were practically in favour of the Bill; but as to those five large towns, no one could deny that a very considerable, respectable, and sober minority were opposed to the application of some of the principles of this measure. The question then arose whether, if the public-houses were closed on Sundays against the will of the people, drinking would be stopped. He did not believe that it would. Another question was how Parliament could refuse to adopt the same principle in England when it had been put in force in Ireland? If such a Bill were proposed for England, he should oppose it, because a very large number of the working classes would be coerced by it against their will. In the case of the Bill under notice, he was himself opposed to coercing the minority; but he could not support the Amendment, because, while he would not force the measure on those parts of Ireland where there was no general feeling in its favour, yet he desired to see it put in force where there was such general feeling in its favour. To pass the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), would be to defeat the Bill, and prevent its application to those parts of the country where it could be applied safely and beneficially, and he thought the object of the Amendment, with which he so far sympathized, could be sufficiently met by Amendments on the clauses of the Bill in Committee, such as those of which the Chief Secretary for Ireland had given Notice. He should, therefore, vote against the Amendment, reserving to himself the right of voting in Committee for the exemption of certain parts of Ireland from the operation of the Bill where he thought it might be done without injury 359 to the morality of the people. He believed that the Act would work beneficially where the majority of the people were in favour of it, but that its results would not be so satisfactory when any large proportion of the working classes was opposed to it.
§ MR. R. POWER
Sir, one effect of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the city of Cork (Mr. Murphy) has been to drive from the House all the, advocates of the Bill. No doubt, the; will return by-and-bye and say that the were not at all convinced by the arguments of my hon. Friend. As I have always voted against the measure, and have never trespassed on the patience of the House to give my reasons for doing so, I hope I may now be allowed to say why I object to the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry. In opposing this Motion I am no advocate of intemperance on a Sunday or a week-day, for I believe it to be the greatest social curse of any country; but I am firmly convinced that the Bill now before us, if carried out, will produce a very different result from that which its promoters anticipate. Instead of checking it will give a fresh impetus and zest to the vice of drunkenness—a vice which proves that in one respect, at least, the brute creation can rise superior to man. This Bill, in effect, proposes to establish one law for England and another law for Ireland—at least, for the present, for if my hon. Friend extended the provisions of his Bill to this country, I should like to know how many English Members would follow him into the Lobby; but he is too good a tactician to propose anything like this. He knows very well that the generosity of his English Friends would only follow him to Ireland, and that they dare not do in their own country what they propose to do at the other side of the Channel. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Richard Smyth) has consulted the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson)—for these temperance agitators play into the hands of one another—and they have agreed that the. Irish Sunday Closing Bill is the thin end of a very thick wedge. I believe that Sunday closing will give a zest to Sunday drinking, for it is human nature to value that which is most difficult to obtain. Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. Even liberty is sweeter to a 360 nation that has been deprived of it. At College I used to smoke because it was not allowed. Now, I seldom smoke at all; and we all know that a certain French lady once said—"What a delicious thing a glass of cold water would be if it were only a sin;" and so a glass of beer on a Sunday will be a most delicious thing when your Bill becomes law. Hon. Members say that as the Irish people are almost unanimously in favour of this Bill, and as it does not effect the integrity of the Empire, they will vote for it. I deny both these propositions. The Irish people are not in favour of the measure, as I shall presently prove, and no measure of importance has ever passed this House which does not work, directly or indirectly, for the good or evil of this country. Now, let us see what they mean by saying that the people of Ireland are in favour of this coercive measure. This agitation has been going on for years, supported by a powerful and wealthy organization, sparing no money or pains to influence opinion in their favour—Petitions, meetings, threatening speeches — and yet upon the last occasion they could only get 49 Irish Members out of 103 to record their votes in favour of this Bill. But I do not rely on this fact alone to dispel the popular error that unanimity exists in Ireland upon this question. I will take the card supplied by those temperance reformers to hon. Members of this House. It is headed—Memorial in favour of Sunday Closing. Abstract of signatures:—Clergy — Protestant Episcopalian, 1,119, out of 2,221; Roman Catholic, 864, out of 3,136; Presbyterian, 342, out of 679; physicians, surgeons, &c, 744, out of 2,420; merchants and employers of labour, &c, 453, out of 726,636.Do these figures prove that the people of Ireland are in favour of this Bill? Then, again, when I look to my own constituents, I can confidently state that a majority of them are not in favour of the Bill. At the last Election no fewer than 13 candidates endeavoured to get in for Waterford, and of these five went to the poll. Of the five, three pledged themselves in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill. The League made the fact known far and wide, adding an expression of their regret that Mr. Power and Major O'Gorman were opposed to the Bill. What was the result of the election? Why, that the two candidates 361 who were opposed to the Bill were re-turned at the head of the poll. In one of the many pamphlets which have been issued by those who seek to have the Bill passed, it is stated that there are only two ways of making men sober: one is to get them to abstain altogether —the course which they, of course, advocate; the other is to educate them to drink; and it is sought to be shown by statistics, and particularly by the number of convictions for drunkenness in one year as compared with another that, while in the former year of the two— 1864—it took 50 gallons of whiskey to make a man drunk, in the latter—1874 — it took 60 gallons to make a man drunk, he had become so acclimatized. The effect of closing has been tried once in Waterford. At the request of the Bishop of Waterford the public-houses were closed on the 24th and 25th of December; but on the 26th no fewer than 35 cases of drunkenness were brought before the magistrates; and a greater number of arrests would have been made, but that the lock-up was so full that there was no use in taking up any more drunkards, and, as it was Christmas time, many cases were overlooked which would otherwise have been dealt with. But it is said that the clergy are in favour of the Bill. I believe they will be found to concur in the opinion expressed by one of their Bishops, to the effect that—"Coercive means can never cure; the will and the mind must be acted upon." Lord Emly stated the other day, that the experiment of Sunday closing had been tried in a portion of the diocese of Limerick, and that it had been found that where Sunday closing was carried out, 1 in 212 was found to be drunk; while, where it was not, the proportion was 1 in 332. Now, Scotland has been held up as an example of how well the Act works, but what are the facts as shown by reliable statistics? It is stated that while virtuous Scotland distils 17 odd million gallons of whiskey in the year, drunken Ireland distils 10,000,000 only; that Scotland consumes 6,872,000 gallons, while Ireland, with her greater population, consumes 6,490,000 gallons. In the words of one of the Scotch Inspectors General, writing a Report on the subject of drunkenness in that country, "Scotland is drinking herself to death." In Glasgow alone there are no fewer 362 than 1,856 houses in which whiskey is sold, besides ale and beer-houses. That is the evidence in reference to Scotland. With respect to the Bill, I maintain that this is not the time to propose that public-houses should be closed in Ireland upon Sunday. Temperance reformers are in advance of public opinion, and no measure has ever been carried in this House until public opinion preceded it. Let them wait until places of recreation and innocent amusement are open for the working man. Museums and picture galleries may wean the mind from the gin-shop and elevate the moral tone of a people; but you cannot by mere Act of Parliament teach that self-respect and sobriety which are so necessary for the welfare of a nation. You must give the working man some rational enjoyment on the Sunday, for idleness is the parent of intemperance. It has been said that the love of opposition is a predominant feature in the Irish character, and I have heard several facts quoted in confirmation of that opinion. For instance, Bianconi, who was the first to introduce into Ireland that elegant and useful article called an Irish jaunting-car, and who realized a large fortune by running those cars between different towns in Ireland, once told me that when he started his first car in the county Galway, he could get no passengers. No one would travel on his car, although he offered every inducement, and he was about giving up the business. But being a close observer of human nature, he got an insight, although an Italian, into the Irish character, and he started an opposition car under a fictitious name. From that moment, his cars began to fill, and for ever after he had plenty of passengers. Now, if this trait is so strong in the Irish character, I would seriously ask is there not some danger in carrying a Bill opposed to their wishes and feelings? Even in this House I must admit the national failing is conspicuous, for Irish Members of Parliament are generally in Opposition; but here the national trait is rather a virtue than a fault; for a strong Opposition is almost as necessary to the good government of a country as a strong Government. The only difference I can see between Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Opposition is, that the latter work for their country without pay, or, as we say in Ireland, for the 363 "honour and glory of the thing." In saying this, I believe I am giving Her Majesty's Opposition more honour than they deserve, for, at all events, they have the prospect of pay—although I fear just now the prospect is rather distant; and I doubt if Her Majesty's Opposition fully appreciate the sentiment "that distance lends enchantment to the view." Because a few drink too much you would prevent the many from drinking at all. That is, the principle of your Bill extends that principle to the other relations of social life; and into what labyrinths of coercion and confusion will it not lead you? Why, anything taken in excess is bad. Tobacco is as injurious as whiskey. Why not protect the British subject from its evil influences? I wonder if the advocates of this Bill ever drink a glass of beer themselves on Sunday? Are there no thirsty souls amongst them? The hon. Member for Londonderry has not told the House whether he has given up his glass of sherry on a Sunday, or whether he indulges in anything stronger than sweet lemonade or explosive soda water. Of course we are bound to presume that the hon. Member and all hon. Members who support him practice what they preach. Perhaps the hon. Member's great zeal in this cause originates in that failing of human nature—To compound for sins we are inclined to,By damning those we have a mind to.The over-zeal of an advocate often does more injury to his cause than all the arguments of his opponents. The effect of the proposed law would be to create a re-action in favour of Sunday drinking. But we shall have to contend with a perverse principle of human nature, which is always prone to run into extremes. If you close up the public-house altogether on Sunday and prohibit a man from drinking moderately, he will, in all probability, if he gets the opportunity, drink to excess. I will quote for the House just one case as an illustration of this principle. A respectable farmer, and a most sober man, was going to a fair to sell his pig. He asked his wife for a shilling, for she kept the key of the till, as all wives ought to do —when they can. Well, he asked his wife for a shilling to get a glass of beer. "No," says she, "I'll do no such thing; be off and sell my pig." "Well," says he, "if you don't give me a shilling 364 to get a glass or two of beer, I'll drink the pig." Well, he did go off, and he kept his word. He drank the pig, and came home to his wife very drunk indeed, and without a shilling in his pocket; and you may imagine, if you can, the kind of interview that took place between them on his arrival. Now this man was never known by any of his neighbours to be drunk before. Therefore, I contend that if you prohibit the working man from taking his glass of beer on a Sunday, you are following the example of the farmer's wife. You will drive the working man to imitate the countryman who drank his pig. You may depend that you cannot make a people sober by any Act of Parliament. Your only remedy is education, but it must be education with religion. Education alone will not teach the enormity of the sin of intemperance. Religion alone can instil into the young mind that horror of the vice of drunkenness which, in after life, will be the best safeguard against the public-house. This is a case which proves that religion without education is better for a people than education without religion; while both combined is the perfection of human government. Civil and religious liberty is of little value to a country without civil and religious education. Let temperance orators advocate a system of education based upon religion, and they will do more to promote the sobriety of the people than all the arguments which have ever been advanced by melancholy Sabbatarians and bilious Teetotallers. Parliament can do great things. You can establish a Church by Act of Parliament, and disestablish it, too, as you have lately done. You can found a Constitution by Act of Parliament, or suspend a Constitution—as the Irish people know. You can make an Empress by Act of Parliament—as all the world knows. Many and strange are the things you can do and have done by Act of Parliament; but legislation steps beyond its precincts when it seeks to establish sobriety by unequal and coercive laws. I have never given to my constituents a promise upon this question. I am not bound to vote one way or another. I am not, as others may be, overloaded with electioneering pledges; but I oppose this Bill, because I believe it to be contrary to the rules of free government, vicious in principle, and tyrannical in practice.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, that when he came down to the House he did not intend to speak; hut he felt bound to make a few remarks after listening to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), which was in a great part a repetition of the unjustifiable attack upon the organization from which the Bill emanated. The hon. Member, however, admitted that that organization was actuated by benevolent motives, which was more than could be said for those whom the hon. Member represented. He regretted that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. R. Power) had followed, not very successfully, in the same line; nor was he very happy in his references to the fate which three supporters of the measure had met at the hands of the electors of Waterford. For although it was true that they had been rejected by the borough of Waterford, one of them had since been, in the face of the most active opposition, returned by a much greater constituency—namely, that of the county of Waterford. A great deal had been said as to the opinion of the people of Ireland in reference to the measure, and as it was desirable there should be no mistake upon the point, he regretted that the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) should have come to the conclusion that the majority of the people were opposed to it, and have changed his opinion of the measure in consequence. For his part, he (Mr. O'Connor Power) could say that, representing one of the largest counties in Ireland—Mayo—his hands had been filled with Petitions in favour of the Bill, while not one single individual in the county had expressed a desire that he should oppose it. On the other hand, many of them, including Catholic Bishops and clergymen, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and others, had urged upon him, as he valued the welfare of the country, to do all he could to remove a great temptation from the people. They all desired, he had no doubt, to put down drunkenness, but he could not but express his belief that the opposition to the measure was based to a great extent on interested motives. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not say that of his Colleagues in that House—they were all honourable men—but transferred the charge to the organization of licensed victuallers 366 throughout the Kingdom who, it was well known, at the last Election had intimidated the Conservative Government on the subject. On the other hand, it was clear that if the officers of the Sunday Closing movement were actuated by such motives, they were taking the worst mode to defeat their objects, because the moment the Bill passed their occupation would be gone. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had asked whether anyone believed that the passing of the Bill would diminish drunkenness? Well, he (Mr. O'Connor Power) believed that it would not, perhaps, immediately; but that, on the contrary, the arbitrary repression of a desire shared by a large number might increase that desire, but that would not last long. The hiding away of temptations and allurements might not have the effect immediately upon the old and hardened which they all desired, but it assuredly would upon the young. The rising generation, at all events, would not be drawn into public-houses, or on Sundays, into shebeens, as those who preceded them had been. That it would do so had been proved by the experience of the diocese of Galway and Emly, in which Sunday closing had been voluntarily adopted. He knew that in America, even in the States where the Maine Liquor Law prevailed, there was Sunday drinking, but it was confined to middle-aged men and women, those who had brought with them, with their European prejudices, European vices to America, and among them were not to be found any young men from 18 to 25 years of age. It was true also that the Maine Liquor Law had in some eases been repealed; but that had been accounted for by Professor Wendell Phillips, a champion of the masses of the people, who said, in a recent speech delivered at Boston, that it arose from the fact that since the American War the country was controlled by the large cities, and the large cities by their criminal population. His own county of Mayo was, as far as he knew, unanimously in favour of the Bill. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork City had quoted figures to show that there was less drinking on Sunday than on any other day. But if people did not drink so much on Sunday as on other days, it was because their facilities for drinking on that day had already been re- 367 stricted. He said, therefore, increase those restrictions and you will further diminish drunkenness. Then the hon. Member asked whether they desired to prevent the peasantry meeting on Sunday, the only day on which they could meet. By no means. Let them meet by all means, but not in public-houses. His hon. Friend had also said this Bill was based upon Sabbatarianism, and he (Mr. O'Connor Power) had no objection to base his support of the Bill on that ground; but his Sabbatarianism was similar to that of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, who would open the Museums and other educational institutions on the Sabbath to the people rather than allow them to have free access to the public-houses. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork had ridiculed the idea of proposing a measure of this kind in the name of patriotism; but he (Mr. O'Connor Power) would not hesitate to support it on that ground. In the proportion in which the people were addicted to this vice, the arm of popular freedom was paralyzed; and if they were to have a free Irish people they must have a sober Irish people —and if they could not make them sober by suasion, he was prepared to remove the drink from them. If he had spoken somewhat warmly, it was because he felt strongly, and he had never before trespassed upon the House with regard to this subject. He would conclude with a brief reference to the last argument of the Member for Cork. The hon. Member referred in glowing terms to the reception of the Fleet at Queenstown, and talked about the 70,000 or 80,000 people who went there, remarking how sober the people were; but the fact was that the demand on the public-houses was so great that all the drink was exhausted. There was not a glass of ale or porter to be got, for the peasantry took Queenstown by storm.
§ MR. MURPHY,
rising to Order, said, he referred to the large consumption of ginger-beer, soda-water, and other non-intoxicating drinks, and not to that of alcoholic beverages.
§ MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said he was glad to hear and to accept the explanation. It appeared, then, that the 70,000 or 80,000 people there on that occasion so far sympathized with the Irish Sunday Closing Association as to 368 prefer ginger-beer and soda-water to porter. He was glad that the hon. Member for Cork thought it necessary to rise and interrupt him for the purpose of showing that the people of Ireland did not want ale and porter, and that they could be perfectly satisfied with temperance drinks.
I think, Sir, that very many interesting speeches have been addressed to you to-day, and prominently amongst them that of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck); and I am sure I may venture to give expression to what I believe to be the feeling of the House, that that hon. and learned Member may long be amongst us to impart to our deliberations a share of that public spirit for which he has been conspicuous throughout his career, and to charm us by his eloquence. My hon. Friends who have spoken on this side have scarcely left me anything to say; and the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Bruen), who spoke on the other side, seemed to have so much difficulty in making up his mind, that he has relieved me from any attempt at that most difficult of Parliamentary performances—a reply. I believe it is generally supposed that the promoters of this Bill are good men, with the very best intentions. I, for one, accept that supposition. Indeed, the nearest approach to a charge that I have ever heard brought against any of them is that some of them are rather too good— that their goodness is somewhat repulsive from being too demonstrative; that it is a phase of that Puritanism which thinks it necessary to close Museums and Picture Galleries to the people on Sundays, and assume a dejected look and a nasal twang on the Lord's Day. The promoters of this Bill propose to enact that henceforth on Sunday in Ireland, no farmer, no labourer in town or country, no artizan—no man, in short, who is not rich enough to keep either a well-stocked cellar or cupboard—shall be permitted to moisten his lips with what is understood by the term drink. That, is to say, that, taking the population of Ireland at about 5,500,000, very little short of 5,000,000 are to be compelled to abstain for ever on Sundays from the use of alcohol. The advocates of the Bill, in fact, seek to amend the Commandment which declares that one day in the week shall be set apart as a day 369 of rest, by the addition of a penal clause that it shall also be a day of unassuaged thirst; and the peculiarity of this latest addition to the Decalogue is, that it will only affect that unfortunately too large section of our community who are so poor as to be unable to make a provision against this gust of fanaticism. Why, as compared with the consequences of this Bill, the consequences of the Permissive Prohibitory Liquor Bill of the bon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfred Lawson) will be as a mere nothing, because all that one would have to do to escape from the consequences of that Bill would be to slip round into the next parish in order to procure what one wanted. But this Bill is in direct violation of the principle of the Bill of the hon. Member for Carlisle—a falsification of the professions by which the advocates of that measure have been able to obtain even a hearing for it in this House and the country. We are constantly being told that everything is to be left to the people; that periodically in each district a great cry is to be raised of grog or no grog, and that this momentous issue is to be left to a free population. Then, we are told, if the grogites have it, they will practically be able to lush in ease at home; and if they are so unfortunate as to lose the day, all that will happen will be that they will have to imbibe after they have had to endure nothing worse than a short stroll and an agreeable jaunt. Now, we see the real animus of these voluntaries, and can form some idea of the lengths to which they are anxious to go if they had the power. These advocates of the Permissive Bill are swarming around the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Richard Smyth) and the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), to assist them in stamping upon the Statute Book a Bill which seeks to accomplish, in a modified degree, the same objections as the Permissive Bill, which has its origin in the same spirit of quackery, and as much finality as can be pressed upon any act of man. There cannot be a doubt that this Bill is being pushed on by a party of monomaniacs. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), who has just addressed the House, has adverted to the use of strong language. I admit that this is just one of those questions where the use of particular language may be 370 said to be exclusively a matter of taste. But I must be again permitted to say that those who are pushing on this Bill are a party of monomaniacs. Many of them certainly, influenced by a high religious enthusiasm, are convinced that the Devil is the suggestor, if not the inventor, of fermentation, quite forgetting who it was that changed the water into wine at the marriage feast. There is, again, without being at all exercised by religion, a large number of persons who consider total abstention from alcohol an infallible preservative against rheumatism, chilblains, gout, and all the ills which flesh is heir to. Not a few of them are converted topers, filled with all the furious zeal of neophytes; and some of them, owing to some defects in their private cellular departments, reject everything spirituous, as the doctors would say, "by the spontaneous action of nature." It will not be denied that they are a select party. I am far from saying that they are not actuated by kindly feelings towards mankind; but this I may say—that their advances are not at all reciprocated; that they are separated more effectually by their eccentricities from the rest of mankind than any artificial barrier could separate them; and that they are the very last men that ought to be allowed to legislate for that great aggregate of ordinary mortals who constitute the majority of the world. But, Sir, I should not be the least afraid of their being allowed to legislate if the drumming of the hon. and learned Member for Louth bad not brought the swarm to fasten upon Ireland, the subject and victim of so many experiments. The majority of the Irish Members have voted in favour of this measure, and from that it might be inferred that a majority of the Irish people are in favour of it, and that its advocates would not avowedly press it forward in opposition to the wish of the people. Assuming it to be true that a majority of the Irish people are in favour of this measure, one thing at all events is clear, that in this respect they differ from all the people on the Continent of Europe, from the vast majority on the Continent of America, from the people of England; and when we search the Universe to find another nation which agrees with the Irish in desiring to put it out of its power to take a drink on Sundays, we have to turn to the North 371 of this Island, to the people of Scotland. Beyond all question that is a curious and extraordinary statement; one of those things which show that if miracles have ceased, wonders have certainly not. If drunkenness has ceased in Scotland, why have you not long since applied the same measure to this country? Here are two nations of whom it is said by the advocates of the Permissive Bill that they are the greatest drunkards in the world, and whose partiality for drink is said to be notorious, and yet these are the only two nations in the world who, according to the advocates of this Bill, are actually clamouring that they should be prevented from indulging in intemperance, and that, too, on the only one day in the week on which they can enjoy themselves, and further insisting that the least infringement of that restraint shall render them amenable to prosecution, and subject them to severe penalties. We protest, Sir, against this charge of want of self-restraint which has been brought against us by the advocates of Sunday closing. The people of Ireland are renowned for being most convivial and most hospitable; but I entirely deny that they are in favour of Sunday closing. I would ask those who point their to majorities among the Irish Members, if the majority of Irish Members always represented the views of the majorities of the Irish people who are their constituents? There was a time when the majority of Irish Members would exclude Roman Catholics from a seat in this House and from any share of power in our municipal corporations. It is not a very long time since the majority of the Irish Members favoured the maintenance of the Irish Church, and scouted the idea of any improvement in the relations between landlord and tenant. I do not say that the majority of to-day is not a better representative of the feelings and wishes of the people than were the majorities of the times to which I have alluded; but I do tell them they are now taking the same course which was taken by those majorities of former days in acting without consulting their constituencies and in utter ignorance of what are their real feelings. I do not mean to say that the majority of to-day would act in defiance of the wishes of the majority of the people. The consideration of the question never came before them, and it never 372 entered into their heads that they were to be compelled to become teetotallers on Sunday. The question is one which has only in a few instances entered into the addresses which the candidates for Parliamentary election have made to their constituents. Only two or three of them have at all alluded, to the subject, and these have been the noble Lord the Member for Enniskillen (Viscount Crichton), the hon. Member for the county of Londonderry, and the hon. and learned Member for Louth. I chanced to see a report of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, and I just threw my eye over it to see what he was after. The hon. and learned Gentleman is the leader of the teetotal party in Ireland, and therefore it is of no small importance that I should mention to the House what he said to his constituents. I have not the report by me, and, therefore, I can only paraphrase his remarks from memory. He first announced to them as a piece of information that an ante-Saxon feeling still fired his breast; and then he avowed that his prospects of eternal salvation were mixed up with the settlement of this momentous question.
rose to Order, and asked the hon. Member what report of his speech he was quoting from, as he did not recollect having used the words which the hon. Gentleman had repeated. He was not in the habit of repudiating speeches, the proofs of which he had himself corrected.
I am referring to the report which appeared in The Freeman's Journal, and I deem it an extraordinary circumstance that on this occasion my memory is better than that of the hon. and learned Gentleman's.
§ MR. O'CONNOR POWER
rose to Order. He did not gather from what the hon. Member for Tralee had just said that he mentioned the date of The Freeman's Journal in which he had found the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Louth. It was desirable that he should do so, as then hon. Members would be able to consult it.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is not a question of Order. The hon. Member for Tralee prefaced his remarks by saying that he quoted from memory, and it is competent for the hon. and learned Member for Louth to contradict the hon. Member for Tralee if he should misrepresent him.
The hon. and learned Gentleman then went on to say that he could not at the last day appear before his Maker in the valley of Jehoshaphat with any conscience unless he had previously put a padlock upon all the public-houses on Sunday.
would be glad, at any rate, if the hon. Gentleman would quote his words correctly, for he would give the fullest contradiction to what he now said.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Member for Tralee was in possession of the House, and at the end of his speech full opportunity would be given to any hon. Member who wished to correct him in what he had said.
It is, Sir, indeed, very difficult to go on; but what followed was that the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to see the decanter and porter-jug replaced by the teapot, and it was to his effecting the fulfilment of this that he looked forward to his being recognized in that multitudinous assembly of many nations. That was positively the substance of what the hon. and learned Gentleman had to say to his constituents, although I admit it is but an humble imitation of the grandeur of his style. The noble Lord the Member for Enniskillen has also addressed his constituents, and he told them to return him again to Parliament in order that an exponent of teetotalism should have a place on the Treasury Bench. Well, he has been returned, but he observes a masterly silence on the subject. The hon. Member for Londonderry has undoubtedly introduced the subject in two or three meetings in the North of Ireland; but it should be noticed that he addressed the same meeting two or three times, and the few meetings which had been held elsewhere certainly cannot be relied upon to show that unanimity in favour of the Bill which it is pretended by the supporters of this measure prevails in Ireland. I feel I am perfectly justified in asserting that there has been no interchange of opinion at all in Ireland on this question; and I say it is a misrepresentation to tell the House of Commons that there is but one opinion in Ireland in favour of this Sunday closing. But there are circumstances which have given to this Bill an importance which intrinsically it does not possess. Many leaders of public opinion, 374 and notably the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) and Birmingham (Mr. Bright), the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, and many others having observed that the majority of Irish Members are in favour of the Bill, have come to the conclusion that they expressed the opinion of the Irish people, and that such opinion should not be resisted, however much the House might dislike this Bill. I rejoice that this has been the means of eliciting from statesmen of such high authority the annunciation of a principle so indicative of an auspicious dawn on Irish politics. Those who have taken the trouble to take note of my humble career in this House will acknowledge that I have urged it over and over again in respect to the settlement of the Land Question and of the question of Education. These are questions to a well-defined settlement of which many Irish Members stand pledged, and in support of which there have been numerous public meetings held in every part of Ireland. I recollect that upon one occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich entered into an argument with me, that I could not apply this general principle to the settlement of the question of Education. Well, I do not know how it is that this question has brought conviction to so many minds, although I confess it is little complimentary to the intelligence of my fellow-countrymen, as showing that in the opinion of those statesmen the only thing with which they can be entrusted is the management of their own public-houses. The recognition of the principle now will be new and surprising to the Irish people, and I appeal to the House not to signalize this new departure by a course very much like a practical joke, and give to Ireland what she does not want at all. If there has been no expression of opinion heard from the Irish people, it is because nothing has been more constantly impressed upon them, than that such expressions of opinion are of no avail. The first article of their creed is want of faith in this House; but now that this want of faith is about to be removed, you may be sure that they will speak out once again with redoubled force upon many a question, and unmistakeably upon this question, when the proper time arrives. They will tell you they 375 look upon this Bill as one calculated to change their day of rest into a dismal Sunday; that it is designed to deprive the working population of the great towns, the cities, and villages of Ireland of the enjoyment which the sea coasts, the lakes, and the mountain scenery afford. Every man will feel that if he leaves his home he cannot be provided with refreshment; that he must stand about all day, rain or no rain, and remain upon his feet, because every place of shelter or rest will be closed against him. If any place of refreshment were opened to him the police would insist on joining him, urged on by the haggard and jaundiced emissaries of the big teapot party. This Bill really means that every working man must limit his exercise to a circle described round his own dwelling, and be satisfied with his tea in a mug. I thank the House for the attention with which it has listened to me, and I can only say that this Bill has never been brought before the people of Ireland, and as I believe they will never assent to it, I shall at every stage give it all the opposition which the Forms of this House will allow.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
said, he only rose to reply to some observations which had been made with respect to the feeling of the working classes in regard to this Bill. On referring to the evidence taken before the Select Committee, he found that the Society of Amalgamated Engineers of Belfast district, representing 5,000 skilled artizans, had been asked to express an opinion upon the question, when it was found that only about 100 members were opposed to universal Sunday closing. Another witness was the sub-Inspector of Constabulary, and he, from his acquaintance with a district of 70,000 inhabitants, said the general opinion in that district was in favour of closing public-houses on Sunday. He (Mr. Johnston) had entered largely into communication with the working classes of Belfast, and he was of opinion that the great majority were in favour of Sunday closing.
§ DR. BRADY
said, he was quite satisfied that the great majority of the people of Ireland were in favour of this measure. ["No, no!"] The discussion itself, he thought, afforded evidence of this, for during the whole afternoon not one Representative of an Irish county had spoken in opposition to the Bill, but 376 only those hon. Members representing cities and boroughs. An hon. Member who had spoken had declared that his constituents were not in favour of the Bill; but he (Dr. Brady) was free to tell him that they were; and if he had not found that out it was because he had not taken the opportunity to consult his constituents.
said, the hon. Member's remarks appeared to be pointed at him, and he took the opportunity of denying that he had had communications from his constituents in favour of the Bill.
§ DR. BRADY
surmised that the hon. Member could have no knowledge of what his constituents required. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) had asked what good had followed a restrictive law? In reply, he would refer him to the state of things existing before 1830. Then the public-houses were open all day on Sunday, and scenes of the greatest dissipation, drunkenness, immorality, and disorder disgraced the streets; but after the Act of 1830 all this gave place to public order, and so also the present Bill would be most beneficial to the people and to Ireland. It would offer the best example possible to the people of England, and the most happy results would be likely to flow from it.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH
I wish to refer very briefly to a point of great importance, to which attention has been called by the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue). I should not have taken part in the debate at all, but for the remark that the House is asked to pass this Bill, not on the grounds of its intrinsic justice, its necessity, or expediency, but in order to prove its willingness at all times to comply with the reasonable wishes of the Irish people—that is, in substance, to legislate for Ireland in accordance with Irish ideas. The motive of the suggestion is most amiable; but the House should not close its eyes to the fact that it leads logically to the conclusion that this House should not legislate for Ireland at all. If hon. Members are prepared to accept the conclusion, well and good, we will go into Committee on the subject; but I submit that until that time arrives the proper, the loyal, and the Constitutional course is to examine and decide upon all matters which come before this 377 House on their merits, taking into account, indeed, local wishes and circumstances, but mindful always that the Parliament of the United Kingdom must legislate with a view to the general interests of the United Kingdom. So long as this House continues to be the Legislature of a United Kingdom the idea that controls its legislation must necessarily be not an Irish, an English, or a Scotch, but an Imperial idea. That is the doctrine controlling the action of the House, and I am at a loss to understand why there should be a departure from it in this instance, and this instance only. It is said, I know not how truly, that England is not a country of ideas; but surely a more extravagant flight of fancy is not to be met with in the whole range of modern poetry than that this House should, would, or could legislate for Ireland in accordance with Irish ideas. Where the raw material is produced, there let it be wrought into fabrics for home consumption. But what is the Irish idea on the question before us? My hon. Friends the Members for Cork City (Mr. Murphy) and Limerick County (Mr. O'Sullivan) may claim to be as true exponents of the national feeling as my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Richard Smyth). If the preponderance of Petitions is on his side, topography and ethnology are with the southern Representatives. In my view, too much stress should not be laid upon Petitions signed by magistrates, lawyers, doctors, town councillors, and officers on half-pay. I am not disposed to undervalue Petitions as a test of public opinion; but when a measure like this of class legislation is proposed, I submit with confidence that it is the opinion of the class whose interests are directly affected which should sway the decision of this House. If the Petitions are examined, it will probably be found that the signers in favour of Sunday closing are, almost without an exception, persons who never by any chance make use of the public-house either on Sunday or week-day. Their motives in petitioning are, I have no doubt, good and philanthropic; but in estimating the value of their Petitions, the House should remember that this Bill inflicts no loss or privation on them, collectively or individually, nor alters in any manner their condition of life. It leaves untouched the well-stocked cellars of the rich, it 378 leaves open still the door of the hospitable club or hotel; but how will it affect the working man, the man who is forced by the necessities of his position to resort to the public-house for needful refreshment? It deprives him at once of a right which he has enjoyed, a legal and natural right, which it is not alleged that on the whole he has abused, compelling him to introduce, and in a more perilous form, into the family the drink which heretofore he has been free to consume at the counter. Will that man be disposed to look kindly on the class legislation that thus abridges his liberty? Will his domestic peace and the morality of his humble household be more secure after the wife and the little children, one by one, shall have been trained to pay their furtive visits each Saturday night to the public-house, in order to procure the supply for the Sunday? At present, regularly as each Sabbath morning breaks, he hears the call of the chapel bell, and to his place of worship he repairs; but the service over, he repairs to the country, and in the afternoon he is free to take a glass of beer with friend or neighbour; but if this Bill becomes law, there is the risk at least that the bells will ring and he will not hear, and that the fields, be they ever so pleasant, will in vain invite to innocent enjoyment. The fact that Sunday closing has been voluntarily adopted in one or two counties is no argument in favour of this measure. Those counties contain no large cities. But if Sunday closing be, as alleged, a popular measure in the country, and if there be no law to prevent its universal adoption, why subject Ireland to the humiliation of being presented at the Bar of this House as a suppliant for a Coercion Act. For, disguise it as we may, this is a Coercion Act. Any Act which, levelled by one class against another, wantonly restricts personal liberty, deserves to be so characterized. To forbid a man to procure needful refreshment at a seasonable hour on any day of the week is, in principle, quite as objectionable as to forbid him to be abroad after sunset. The evidence of Mr. O'Donnell, the magistrate, before the Select Committee, ought to be conclusive as to the fate of this Bill. He proved that during the hours when the public-houses are closed there is more drunkenness in the City of Dublin than during 379 those in which they are open. Is it not, then, a very reductio ad absurdum to extend to the entire day a prohibition thus proved to be promotive of inebriety? The licensed vintners of Dublin are a respectable body of traders; no crime is alleged against them, no complaint is made respecting the manner in which, as a rule, their business is conducted; on the faith of the law as it stands they have expended large sums of money in the enlargement and improvement of their premises; and I ask if be consistent with justice or fair play, if it be in accordance with the custom of Parliament and the spirit of the law, thus unceremoniously to confiscate their property— for, here, there is no hint of compensation—and attach to them and to their calling an undeserved stigma? If drunkenness and disorder were proved to be more rife on a Sunday afternoon than on any other day of the week, I might admit a justification for an Act of this description, but the contrary has been shown to be the case in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the city of Cork. Of the numbers who use the public-house, the persons with whom the use degenerates into abuse form but a very small percentage. Let such persons be visited with the full severity of the law; but let not the innocent multitude be associated with the guilty few in one act of indiscriminate condemnation. I have examined the measure very carefully, and I find in it every fault that a measure professing to aim at social reform can possibly have. It abridges liberty, it disturbs vested rights, it embitters class feelings, it imperils the family, and it aggravates the evil for which it professes to be a cure. Not by coercive enactments, nor sumptuary laws—not by curtailing the scant privileges of the people, nor harassing interference with the prosecution of legitimate trade, will the vice of drunkenness be eradicated and public morality promoted. Leave open the public-house—it is a necessity of our social state; but in juxtaposition with it throw open the public library, the gallery of art, the museum; level the barriers which exclude the people from places designed by nature for healthy recreation—and thanks are due to the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin (Sir Arthur Guinness) for the Stephen's Green Bill— 380 look, above all, to the dwellings of the labourer in the fields and the artizan in the towns—help morality in her ceaseless struggle with vice, and then we may look forward to the time when we may at least realize the picture of Burke, when vice will lose half its evil by losing all its coarseness.
§ MR. KING-HARMAN
said, it seemed to him that there was great doubt as to whether the people were unanimous, or nearly unanimous, in favour of the Bill. It was perfectly clear that a large portion of the upper and the upper middle classes were in favour of it; but he doubted whether the voice of the people generally had been sounded upon it. If it was brought forward as a tentative measure, to be passed for only three or four years, he might have been disposed to support it; but this was a Bill to deprive the poor man for ever of his Sunday beer. He thought much might be done to decrease Sunday drinking in Ireland, without having recourse to repressive legislation. From the evidence given before the Select Committee, it would appear that in no part of Ireland did the people so little understand the art of amusing themselves as in Dublin; but, at present, if there was on Sunday a game of football or cricket going on, the police came down, and the summoning and fining of the players followed; so what were the unfortunate men to do who, not possessing comfortable homes, were deprived of the shelter of the public-house? Some harm, he allowed, was done in public-houses in some of the worse districts. Ribbonism and secret societies grew from such places; but if the authorities could be taught to see that there was not necessarily Fenianism in a game of football on Sunday, and that cricket could be played on that day without being a conspiracy against the British Constitution, there would not be this influence in public-houses, or the necessity for this kind of legislation. In towns there was no doubt that the Sunday closing would merely lead to the purchase of drink on Saturday, and probably an increased consumption among the family, which would not be likely to have a beneficial effect on the rising generation. He was certainly surprised at the very varied colours in which hon. Gentlemen opposite at different times painted the lower classes in Ireland, the contrast between the Irishmen in 381 boroughs desiring the franchise and Irishmen requiring to be protected from the vice of drunkenness being especially remarkable. The hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) thought that the Sunday outings would be discouraged by the Bill; but it appeared to be rather in the other direction, for the Bill did not restrict the sale of drink on steamers and railways. If he were a publican, he should establish a pleasure steamer or two, and give to his customers all the advantages of getting drink on board. Short trains, too, would lead to a roaring trade at refreshment rooms of railway stations. He did not doubt that of late years the moral tone of the Irish people had been lowered by drink, but not so much by the quantity, as the quality of the drink consumed. He had been told by those whose business required them to be out in all weathers, that they had been obliged to become teetotallers because of the poisonous adulteration practised, and he had seen the lapel of a man's coat burnt by the drops of spirit falling from his mouth. He left the House to imagine what could have been the effect on the coats of the stomach. A more careful exercise of the law by the proper authorities would check this poisonous adulteration, and there would be no need for this legislation. The Grand Juries of counties had directed attention to the question, but the police authorities refused to authorize the Inspectors to carry out the Adulteration Act. If the duties under the present Bill were carried out on the same principle it would be a dead letter, for if they allowed the people to be poisoned by licence, they would also allow them without licence. If the people of Ireland really believed in this measure, let it be brought forward tentatively, or let it be applied to those localities which asked for it. Dublin wished to take its refreshment, and Belfast desired the Bill to be passed. Let the measure be applied to Belfast, and if its effects were undeniable it could be extended from country to town; but if, on the contrary, after two or three years' trial, it was found not to act, then drop it altogether; but they must never think they could make people virtuous by Act of Parliament. If the present system were only properly carried out, harmless games allowed, and restrictions removed, he did not think there 382 would be any necessity for the present measure.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, that he could not proceed with his speech at that hour, and he would therefore move the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. McCarthy Downing.)
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 37; Noes 256: Majority 219.—(Div. List, No..197.)
§ MR. SPEAKER
The position of the question now is this—the debate must now, according to the Standing Orders, be adjourned until to-morrow.
§ And it being after a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.
§ And the other Orders of the Day having been gone through—
§ House adjourned at Six o'clock.