§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."— (The O'Conor Don.)
§ MR. ONSLOW
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be considered on that day three months, said, that no Bill of such importance as the Sunday Closing Bill had come before the House during the present Session, 1249 Indeed, if it were not for this Bill, he doubted if, with the exception of the discussions on the Eastern Question, there would have been anything of interest in their proceedings. Looking upon this as a national question, he, as an English Member, had taken up the subject, and intended to oppose this Bill in all its stages. He did not deny its importance, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his opinion, had done well in giving them a fair discussion of the Bill. He hoped that the promoters of it would in the course of the present discussion give some sufficient reasons for asking the House to pass it, and also explain why they had silently acquiesced in the important Amendments which had been made in the measure by the Government and by several private Members of the House. It had been said both in the House and in the Press that the opponents of the Bill had been actuated solely by an intention to obstruct legislation. This he denied in toto. So far as he was personally concerned, he could only say that his opposition had been based solely upon a belief that the Bill embodied a vicious principle which, if adopted in the case of Ireland, might hereafter spread to England. He was not an Irish Member; he had no interest in the trades which would be affected if the Bill passed; and he had not been asked by any body of publicans, or even by a single publican, to oppose the Bill. It was said this Bill was obstructed by the Trade, but that was not so. It was opposed because it contained a vicious principle; it was opposed by a certain number of English Members because they did not believe in it. They were all anxious to stop drunkenness; but, unfortunately, they all differed in opinion as to how it was to be accomplished. There were various modes adopted; and two converted working men were going about the country advocating temperance, which they did by means of singing, one of the songs bearing the title—"We have left the barrel; hurrah for the pump!" That might be a legitimate way of curing the evil, but was not the way most of them would adopt. This matter of drinking should be taken up as a whole, and he objected to piecemeal legislation. If there was an inordinate amount of drunkenness the matter ought to be 1250 taken up by the Government; but it was idle to bring in this Bill as a separate measure, for it would not cure the evil. They had had of late quite enough of liquor legislation to last them for some years; and he hoped that private Members would not continue to harass the Trade by bringing in any more large or small Bills on the subject. This Bill had not been stopped by the publicans, and he was glad the Government had not adopted it as one of their own measures. According to a Report of a Committee on this subject, Sir Dominic Corrigan said he asked for the same justice for Ireland as Scotland enjoyed, and that the health and morality of the Irish people should not be sacrificed at the mercy of the publican and the Treasury. That was very strong language, which was not warranted by facts. Mr. Thomas Pim used similar language, stating that the opposition to the Bill was backed up by people in England who were interested in keeping up drinking habits in Ireland. It was a scandalous thing for any man to make such a statement, which he ventured to say its author did not himself believe, and he must be a very stupid man if he thought anyone else would believe it. By another witness it was said that the whisky sold by the publicans was poison. That was the whisky sold on Sunday; but how about whisky sold on other days? The statements made in that way were grossly exaggerated, and passed an undeserved censure on the publicans of Ireland. This Sunday Closing Bill had had unusual facilities. He did not recollect any other Private Bills for the discussion of which the Government had given up virtually three nights, and had supported the Motion for going into Committee on the Bill at the somewhat extraordinary hour of 2 o'clock in the morning. When he looked at the Memorial presented to the Chief Secretary for Ireland on this subject, he found that nearly everyone who waited upon the right hon. Gentleman urged that the Bill should be passed in its entirety—that nothing less would meet the exigencies of Ireland. He was led to presume by the reading of that Memorial, that the Memorialists would not care at all for the Bill unless it was passed in its original shape. But the promoters of the Bill had agreed to alterations proposed by the Government; 1251 and five of the chief towns in Ireland had been exempted from the operation of the Bill. There were other important Amendments which had been assented to, so that the Bill now was quite a different article to the Bill which was originally brought in. The alteration the Bill had undergone reminded him of the story of the bullfinch which was sold to a purchaser in all its glory of plumage. Gradually the brilliant hues of the bird died away, and instead of being a bullfinch it turned out to be a sparrow. If a man was to be allowed to drink in these five big towns on Sunday, what harm could there be in a man drinking elsewhere in Ireland on Sunday? This measure was entitled, when introduced at the beginning of the Session—"A Bill to prohibit the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday;" but since the alteration it had undergone, it ought to be entitled—"A Bill to prohibit the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors in parts of Ireland on Sunday." A good deal had been made of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act; but that Act, instead of causing a decrease in drunkenness, had the effect of largely increasing it, for he found that since the passing of that Act up to the year 1874 the cases of drunkenness in Scotland had increased from 12,000 to 40,000 in the year. He did not say that this increase of drunkenness arose altogether from the operation of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act; but the fact he had stated was sufficient to show that that Act could not be put forward as a reason why similar legislation should be adopted for Ireland. If the Bill was passed, it would increase drunkenness in Ireland to an enormous extent. It was said that the majority of the Irish people were in favour of the Bill; but that was not an argument which could be accepted unless the House was prepared to give Ireland Home Rule and Denominational Education, which was certainly asked for by the majority of the Irish people. This Bill was inconsistent in every way, for it would allow people in towns to get what drink they wanted on Sunday, while it denied the same privilege to people living in the country. The condition of the people in the country districts under this Bill could be described with the words—whisky every where, but not a drop to drink. He hoped the Government and the House would unite 1252 to throw out this Bill. He had voted for a limitation of the hours during which public-houses should be open on Sunday, and that, he hoped, would be accepted as a fair compromise on this question. It was said that this Bill would change the national character of the Irish people; but he did not regard that as a recommendation of the measure. No one wished for such a change, and least of all did the Irish people do so. On the contrary, they were proud of their national character, and anxious to retain it. But really no one imagined that the national character of the Irish people would become changed should they be prevented from getting a glass of whisky upon Sundays. While the upper classes of society could provide themselves with whatever beverages they pleased, it was, he considered, an undue interference with the liberty of the subject to tell the lower classes of the Irish people that there was one day in the week on which they would not be allowed to take any alcoholic refreshment. Great stress had been laid upon the success of voluntary closing in Ireland. He did not object to that. If they wished it, he would say let them by all means do it; but he did not wish to see Parliament step in and compel them to do that which he would wish to see them do voluntarily; and he cautioned the House that if it passed this measure for Ireland the day was not far distant when a strong pressure would be brought to bear upon them in favour of passing a similar measure for England; and, therefore, if they now threw out this Bill the further they would postpone any such proposal with respect to England. Some years ago drunkenness was a social scandal of the upper classes in this country, but now there was nothing of the kind to be found there, a great change having been wrought in the habits of the aristocracy, not by the agency of restrictive measures, but by means of the spread of education; and the same remedy would, in course of time, work a similar cure in respect to the Irish people. For these reasons, he asked the House to reject this Bill. As the best possible cure of drunkenness, he would advise them to make the homes of the Irish people happier, to promote their education, and to give them greater facilities of travelling. England did not ask for such a Bill—Ireland did not 1253 require it—and, therefore, he would move that the Report be considered that day three months.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he had great pleasure in seconding the Motion of the hon. Member for Guildford. He now wished to state the reasons why, in his opinion, the Bill should not be allowed to become law, and to express a confident opinion that the common sense and intelligence of the House of Commons should not pass a measure which had become so emasculated and self-contradictory since it had been introduced into Parliament. It had been his good or ill-fortune on former occasions to occupy some length of time in placing before the House the facts and figures to show that the necessity upon which the Bill was supposed to rest had no existence; and, therefore, the observations which he had now to offer he should make as short and distinct as possible. He had, he considered, incontrovertibly proved that so far from Sunday being in Ireland the day of the greatest intemperance and disturbance—as the promoters of the Bill had represented it to be—it was, in reality, the day of the greatest order and decorum. In taking this view of the case, it was, he considered incumbent upon him to explain how the decision of the House in 1876, in reference to this proposal, had been arrived at. It was, he ventured to say, in complete ignorance of the real facts of the case that the House arrived at that decision. When the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. Richard Smyth) introduced his Bill, he prefaced it with the statement that all classes in Ireland were in favour of it, and he added the most astounding and startling fact that 300,000 persons had petitioned in favour of it, and only 50,000 had petitioned against it. So far as the Petitions were concerned, that was the case at the time, and there was then no mode of explaining it. The hon. and learned Gentleman also stated that public meetings had sanctioned the principle of his Bill, and that at one in particular, attended by 151,000 persons, only 150 hands had been held up against it. In that state of the case, with these statements uncontradicted, it was not to be wondered at that the House came to the opinion that the measure had the support of the Irish people. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) 1254 had said, speaking in reference to the observations made by the late Chief Secretary—''It requires a strong case to warrant us in overlooking the strong objection to such restrictive legislation, and the question is whether we have that strong case before us?That was putting the case fairly; and because there was not that strong feeling of the people in favour of the Bill, he opposed it. No one could support it from an abstract point of view, for it was an infringement of the personal rights of individuals, and an attempt to control a man's volition towards himself. The real question, however, which the House had to consider was, whether or not the people of Ireland asked for the measure? If they wished for it, then he would say in God's name let them have it; but the Petitions to which he had referred were not to be taken as the expression of their wish on that point, for, in fact, these Petitions did not emanate from the Irish people. He had taken the trouble to analyse those Petitions, and with the following result:—He found that the number presented in favour of the Bill up to the 12th of May, 1876, was 1,926, and the number against it only 88; but that of the 1,926, no fewer than 1,027 proceeded from England and Wales and Scotland—got up, probably, by the United Kingdom Alliance—and he did not see how those could be considered to represent the feeling of the people of Ireland. Of the remainder, 381 proceeded from congregations of Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Methodists, and Good Templars, and 157 from official bodies—such as Town Commissioners, Boards of Guardians, &c.—so that, in reality, there were only 361 of the Petitions which could be said to have emanated from the Irish people themselves. These facts having been suppressed, he was not surprised that the House of Commons had come to the conclusion that the people of Ireland were in favour of the measure. Again, the total number of the clergy in Ireland, irrespective of the Roman Catholic priests, was 2,481, of whom 1,460 were Protestant Episcopalians, 636 Presbyterians, 231 Wesleyans, and 153 belonged to other denominations, and of these 2,212 had signed in favour of the Bill. The Roman Catholic clergy numbered about 3,300, and of that number only 1,100 could be got to sign the 1255 Petitions in favour of the Bill, and that, too, with certain qualifications and conditions annexed; so that, actually, the number of Roman Catholic clergy who refused to countenance the measure amounted to as many as that of all the ministers of other denominations who were in favour of it, and yet they were canvassed and importuned to sign in favour of it. He would now show that in proportion as the people of Ireland became acquainted with the real character of the Bill the more had their opposition to it increased. The total number of Petitions in its favour up to last month was only 851, and of these 217 proceeded from official bodies, such as Boards of Guardians, who were not elected ad hoc, and whose signatures, therefore, were to be counted only as those of so many individuals; and, therefore, those Petitions should not be taken as proceeding from any representative body. Excluding all Petitions but those for the people of Ireland, he found that whereas there were only 450 in favour of the Bill, there were 894 against. Could they be blind to these facts? It might be asked how was it that with this overwhelming evidence against the Bill it was still pushed forward and brought to its present state? It could be explained in a few words. When the Bill was first introduced in 1876 the Government voted against it in pursuance of what he believed to be their constant usage. Subsequently, however, when the Bill was again introduced, the Government stated that they bowed to the decision of the House which had been given to the principle of the Bill, and they did not find it their duty to oppose it; but, nevertheless, although the House had so affirmed the principle of total closing, they (the Government) desired to have the opportunity of offering Amendments totally and absolutely contradictory to the principle of the Bill so confirmed. The following year, 1877, the Bill was again brought in; and, as a matter of course, the Government voted for the second reading, not because they approved of the principle of the Bill, but with the view of enabling it to arrive at the stage at which they could produce their Amendments. After the Report of the Select Committee the Bill did not get further that Session, and when it came again before the 1256 House in the present Session there was no opposition to the second reading; but it was distinctly understood that the discussions should be taken on the order for going into Committee. It passed, he might say, sub silentio. It, however, got into Committee by what he might call a "fluke," without the slightest opportunity for discussion, and there it stood until the Amendments were introduced, which formed part of the Bill before the House. They had nothing more to say about it, and the Bill now came before the House in that way, for the purpose he had indicated. Hence it was not so much that the principle of the Bill had been affirmed in this House, but in order to allow it to reach its present stage they were obliged to support it. He claimed that he had proved by a mass of incontrovertible evidence that the people of Ireland were not in favour of the Bill, and more than two-thirds of the Roman Catholic clergy had refused to sign Petitions in its favour, and that nine out of every ten who assented to the principle in 1876 did so because they believed there was an overwhelming majority in Ireland in its favour, that Sunday was the most intemperate day in Ireland, and that it was generally a day of riot and disorder. Since 1876 it had been indisputably proved beyond the possibility of contradiction that there was no occasion for this Bill so far as intemperance was concerned, so far as the prevention of rioting and disorder was concerned; and, further, there was the opinion of official witnesses, who spoke under a sense of responsibility, that, so far from the Bill carrying out the objects of the promoters, it would absolutely intensify and aggravate any intemperance that existed in Ireland, and would create demoralization in the country by teaching men to evade a law which they believed to be unjust and knew to be unnecessary. He objected to the steps which had been taken to intimidate hon. Members—he used the word advisedly—on the part of the Irish Sunday Closing Association, which was professedly formed for the express purpose of influencing the passage of this Bill through Parliament. The hon. Gentleman read a Circular which had been addressed by the Association to the electors of Dublin, in which the following significant postscript was printed:— 1257It would be additionally valuable if you would be so kind as to put a † in the place opposite to your name, showing the political Party with which you generally act.The Irish Times had described that Circular as an outrage, and The Daily Express, an avowed organ of the Society, had used language even stronger. Within the last few days a Circular had been issued by the hon. Secretary of the Association, and widely circulated, calling upon all who had influence with Members of Parliament to do their utmost to secure the attendance in their places that night of the supporters of the Bill; and, further, to do all they could to get the opponents of the measure to withhold their opposition, and to act in accordance with what they called "the strongly expressed wishes of the people of Ireland." That was some evidence of the manner in which the Association acted—by public threat and private solicitation, bringing every possible influence to bear upon Members to coerce them, into supporting the Bill. Was it surprising that other Irish Members than the Ulster section should be by such means coerced into voting for the Bill? He had recently been in Ireland, where the farmers laughed the Bill to scorn, and declared that they would have none of it. The Bill as it stood was an absurdity, a self-contradictory and kind of tesselated measure. Let those in charge of it make it homogeneous and consistent by opening public-houses throughout all Ireland for three hours on Sunday, and he would promise not to offer further opposition. He asked a fair consideration of this offer from those who had stood on the platform of self-righteousness overmuch, holding up their hands to Heaven, looking down with pity and contempt on those who presumed to differ with them, and thanking their God that "they were not like unto that publican."
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Onslow.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
wished to say a word with regard to the position in which the House now found itself with respect to this Bill. The almost 1258 empty state of the Benches showed that this subject had been so absolutely thrashed out already, that there was really nothing further to say in the matter. He had himself, in the first instance, opposed this Bill upon principle; but the Bill had been altered and amended at the instigation of the Government, and, moreover, it had been amended more or less with the consent of the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) who was in charge of it. The hon. Member received some sort of assurance from those who had so strenuously opposed him, that if he gave way with regard to the Bill coming to an end at a certain period, the opposition would not be pursued any further. The hon. Member for Roscommon was wrong in not accepting the compromise at the time when it was first proposed; but he did accept a compromise nevertheless, and Members were bound to follow that arrangement out and not carry the opposition further. It was neither in the interest of those who came from Ireland, nor certainly in the interests of the House, to prolong discussion upon a measure that had been already generally accepted. Notwithstanding what had been said by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), as to the circumstances under which the majorities in favour of the Bill had been obtained in the House, still there had been large majorities, which showed that the House was determined to give it a trial. If Parliamentary Government was to go on, they were bound to defer to the majority; and he could not, therefore, think that it would be right to offer any further opposition to the passing of this Bill. He would advise hon. Members who, he had no doubt, were sincerely opposed to this Bill, to allow it to pass its present stage; and they might do so in the full assurance that, if it was the bad Bill they believed it to be, public opinion would be so strongly manifested against it in Ireland, that long before four years were over, Parliament would have to deal with the subject anew. With the three hours' Amendment, as proposed by the hon. Member for Cork, he sympathized very much; but it was totally against the principle of the Bill, and after what he had said he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH
said, he was himself willing to accept the proposition of 1259 the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), and if the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) would allow the three hours' exemption, from 2 to 5, in those places to which the Bill was to apply, all opposition to it should cease; but otherwise, he repeated, they were bound to persevere, not certainly in a course of obstruction, but in offering a fair opposition to the Bill in all its stages. He regretted they were there that day, not to pass the Intermediate Education Bill, which would confer a solid benefit upon Ireland, but for discussing that miserable Sunday Closing Bill. Facilities had ordained it otherwise. The Government had, in his opinion, more than fulfilled their part of the bargain; for though he had searched the records, he could find no precedent for the facilities they had given for the passing of the Bill. In the discussion which took place the other day on the Permissive Bill, it was admitted that it could not be even considered until the principle of compensation had been conceded. He had before alluded to that branch of the subject; but it had never been brought before the House, and he hoped to be able to convince it that, in its present state, the Bill could not pass. In all cases where private interests were affected injuriously by Acts of the Legislature, the parties so injured had primâ facie a constitutional claim to compensation. No compensation was awarded when the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed for Scotland, because the Scotch publicans had no vested interests. It was otherwise in Ireland. For 50 years, from the year 1833, when O'Connell's Act passed, it had been unquestioned law that the seven-day licence in Ireland was a vested interest. This was an important branch of the subject, and demanded the careful attention of the House. One of the earliest instances of compensation awarded by Parliament occurred in the year 1788, when the Prime Minister, William Pitt, proposed that the several sums of £500,000, £70,000, £1,228,000, and £113,000 should, according to distinct classes, be voted by Parliament as compensation for the losses of all such persons as had "suffered in their rights, properties, and professions during the late unhappy dissensions in America." The sums voted amounted altogether to £2,101,000, Edmund Burke declaring that he ''never gave a vote with greater 1260 satisfaction." Again, when the same great Minister brought forward, in 1785, a proposal for a reform in Parliament, he expressly declared that in the boroughs he disclaimed all idea of compulsion—a fund of £1,000,000 sterling was to be established to compensate the borough proprietors. The same principle of compensation was adopted by the same Minister in carrying out the Union between Great Britain and Ireland. Lord Stanhope states that—The Ministers in England had determined to grant a compensation in money for the boroughs to be disfranchised; no less a sum than £1,250,000 was assigned for the purpose;and it was alleged that this compensation should be given irrespective of Party or the votes of the proprietors. Under the same Minister, a Board was established in Ireland by the Acts of the Irish Parliament—the 38, 39, & 40 Geo.III.—for examining and determining the claims of those who had suffered in their properties by the Rebellion of 1798. He cited these precedents in proof of the scrupulous regard of the Legislature, even at that early period, for vested interests. But there was a precedent which touched the subject more nearly. The prisage or butlerage of wines was a duty payable to the King on all wines imported, and was granted, he believed, by Henry II. to his botelier or butler, the ancestor of the Ormond family of that name. An Act was passed in 1806, after the Union, authorizing the Treasury to treat with the Earl of Ormond and Ossory and his trustees for the purchase or surrender of the prisage or butlerage of wines in Ireland, for such annuity or sum of money, or both, as should be agreed upon in that behalf. Another Act was passed in 1810, by which the prisage or butlerage of wine imported into Ireland ceased, and a sum of £216,000 was paid as compensation. He left it to the opponents of compensation—if any there were—to show in what respect the claim of the publican for compensation for injury inflicted on his property by this Bill differed from, or was inferior to, that of the Ormond family, deprived by an Act of the Legislature of a monopoly injurious to the public interest. The most conspicuous example of the principle for which he contended, however, was the advance by Parliament of £20,000,000 in 1833 1261 as compensation to the owners of negro slaves. When the late Earl of Derby, then Mr. Secretary Stanley, brought forward his measure for the emancipation of the slaves, he declared that—Our proposition is to advance to the planter a loan of £15,000,000, in consideration of the sacrifice on his part of the fourth of the labour of his slaves. It is quite clear," he said, "that the repayment must be borne either by the produce of negro labour or by the Revenue of this country: it cannot, in justice, be borne by the planter.He referred to his proposal as tending to effect the object "gradually and safely." He then proposed a series of Resolutions, the fourth expressly to provide against the risk of loss which proprietors in our Colonial possessions might sustain. Objections were raised that Parliament was, in effect, legislating for the Colonies. The proposal was accordingly modified, and instead of a loan of £15,000,000, a grant or gift of £20,000,000 was voted. The late Daniel O'Connell, although strongly opposed to Mr. Stanley, supported the grant. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) also supported the grant. He "hoped that the House would adopt the principle of compensation," and concluded with these impressive words—Let not any man think of carrying this measure by force; England rested not her power on physical force, but upon her principles, her intellect, and her virtue.The late Sir Robert Peel, then in Opposition, declared that—The Resolutions amounted to depriving the planters of a certain portion of their property, and should the House turn round upon them with a view of defeating their claim to compensation, it might, indeed, be empowered to do so; but we should incur an imputation upon our good faith such as had never previously been equalled. Parliament was, in his opinion, bound to make the planters full compensation.Unless it was contented that the planters' right of property in the enforced labour of his fellow-beings was of a higher order than that of the legitimate trader in his licensed premises, he knew not on what ground the perfect applicability of this precedent could be contested. When Parliament was about, in 1845, to legislate generally on railways, a Select Committee of the House of Lords, in a Special Report, recorded their opinion that a very high percentage, 1262 amounting to not less than 50 per cent upon the original value, ought to be given in compensation for the compulsion only—the severance and the damage being distinct considerations. By this Sunday Bill they would deprive the publican of a legal day—a day legalized by their own Acts; there was compulsion, there was severance, there was damage—and why should there not be compensation? In the debate upon the Army Regulation Act, 1871, the then Secretary of State for War (Mr. Cardwell) made the following important and categorical statement:—The business of Parliament was to give complete indemnity—neither more nor less—to those affected by what it was now doing. If it was impossible, in minute arrangements, to do perfect and accurate justice in every case, then the balance would be cast in favour of the officer. For the pecuniary value of the present commissions it was proposed to give complete compensation, both as to regulation and over-regulation prices."—[3 Hansard, ccvi. 1276.]Now, no military Gentleman in that House would say that the rules prescribed in the book known as the Queen's Regulations for the Army had been strictly adhered to. The breaches were numerous and notorious; yet full compensation was awarded to the officer, and none at all was now proposed to the publican, who had complied with all the provisions of the law. If that were not class legislation, he should like to know what class legislation was. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, in his speech on moving the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, laid down the following equitable principles:—We must not disguise from ourselves that we are calling upon persons, upon large classes, upon individuals entitled to great respect, to undergo a great change in their position under the direct action of the law."—[3 Hansard, cxciv. 418.]He then recognized what he called "vested interests." And his Act provided compensation for every class and every person whose vested interests were affected by it. Not only were Archbishops and Bishops and Rectors secured annuities equal to the amount of the yearly incomes of which they were deprived, but similar provisions were made for curates, sextons, and schoolmasters. Why should not the same equitable principles apply to the per- 1263 sons, the large classes, who would be affected in their properties by Sunday closing, and who were called upon to undergo a great change in their position under the direct action of this law? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, in dealing with the question of compensation to the tenant, in his speech on the Irish Land Bill, in 1870, enlarged upon the policy of securing compensation for improvements, and declared that such compensation should apply to retrospective improvements. He laid down the following principles:—That of attaching to evictions such conditions as would render them impolitic and difficult on the part of the landlord; and of securing the evicted tenant, if he fulfilled his contract, from the danger and fear of being thrown out upon the world without carrying with him a fair and reasonable compensation, not only for improvements he had effected, but also for the deprivation of those means of livelihood which had been afforded him by the occupation of the land from which he had been ejected. Why should not those equitable principles be applied to the Irish publican as well as to the Irish tenant? Why should he be thrown out on the world without compensation? Why should he, by one sweeping Act of the Legislature, be deprived of his means of livelihood? His licence was his tenant-right—why should it be destroyed? He was aware that the Legislature had always exercised the right to regulate the traffic in intoxicating drinks; but regulation was one thing, the extinction of a lawful day another. Regulation was one thing, total deprivation another. Regulation was one thing, confiscation another. When was such a change as this ever proposed before? The Bill of Mr. Bruce (Lord Aberdare) meditated no such revolution as this, yet that Bill embodied distinctly the principle of compensation. The amount, calculated on a period of 10 years, was deemed insufficient by the English Trade. But the principle was admitted; and having been admitted in the case of the English trader, how could it be repudiated in that of the Irish Trade? The right to compensation flowed naturally and inevitably from the right to transfer. If the publican had the right to transfer his licensed house, he had a right to compensation for the deprivation 1264 of that which gave to the house, in whole or in part, its value—the seven-day licence. That right of transfer had never been questioned in England, and it was confirmed last year in Ireland by the unanimous decision of the Court of Queen's Bench. The Lord Chief Justice concluded his judgment with these emphatic words:—I do not think the Court should be influenced by any opinion that the number of public-houses in this city is an evil which should be diminished. If the fact be so, the authorities may most properly refuse to add to the number. But existing vested interests should not be extinguished, even with a legitimate object, without compensation.It was settled law, which admitted of no controversy, that the seven-day licence in Ireland was a fixed and settled interest and a vested right. That vested right the Bill before the House rendered valueless in hundreds of cases, and seriously impaired in all. The House of Commons might, by the Bill before it, extinguish that right; but it could only do so by discarding its own precedents, annulling its own acts, and transgressing the Constitution itself.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
was of opinion that there was less necessity for this legislation than formerly, seeing that drunkenness was diminishing, and that the people of Ireland might be safely trusted to regulate the Sunday drinking. At the same time he would give his support to the Bill as an experiment; but he hoped the experiment would not be extended beyond a year.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he had not intended to make a speech upon this occasion except for a discovery he had made in the course of the debate. He had received, within the last few days, a number of intelligent, impressive, and, according to appearance, sincere communications from friends of the Temperance Movement, and from gentlemen whom, he had no doubt, sincerely professed to be friends of his in giving him good advice on this matter. He was surprised to find that all these letters appeared to have been written, although it was hardly credible, in obedience to a Circular issued by a Sunday Closing Association, impressing upon the people to write to their Members, and thus bring pressure to bear on them in favour of this Bill. These communications had done one thing—they had reminded him 1265 that the majority of his constituents were in favour of this Bill; but the writers seemed to forget that the Bill now before the House was wholly different from that originally introduced. Then there was another point against the Bill. He was not aware that any Member of the House had attempted to show that the rural portions of Ireland had abused the privilege of being able to obtain liquor on Sunday; but all the evidence that had been brought forward in favour of the Bill had referred to the large towns; and the only fragment of the Bill which remained before the House was one which was of no use and might do a great deal of harm. Those communities in the vicinity of great towns who desired Sunday drinking would find themselves within easy distance of places where they could carry on their Sunday orgies, while the small but quiet places of Sunday resort in the country would be shut up. The Bill was for the repression of Sunday drinking in all places except those where it had been actually proved to prevail. He thought the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, whose good sense and temper on all occasions commended themselves to the House, might fairly agree with the proposition that had been made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), and that was to consent to the houses being kept open for three hours in all places in Ireland on Sunday. In this matter they must consider the temper of, comparatively speaking, an uneducated class of people; but who, however, had strong opinions on personal rights. If the Bill must pass, he was anxious that it should be one that the people could accept, and he was quite prepared to curtail the hours of drinking upon all days in the week; but that sort of legislation should progress gradually. It would be easy to evade the provisions of this Bill. The people had only to form themselves into clubs or friendly societies, or to join clubs and societies which already existed, and which took in members for the moderate subscription of 16d. per annum. Would it not, therefore, be better to educate the people into habits of temperance by the three hours' restriction on Sundays, than to interfere as this Bill would with the liquor traffic? In the cause of temperance, and with a view of having the thing quietly and amicably 1266 settled, and with a view of making the Bill more acceptable to the Lords—for he supposed it would go to the Lords, and he thanked God they had a House of Lords—he would rather have the Bill leave this House with a three hours' clause. For his own part, he had no wish to repeat the arguments which he had already urged against it; but he should notice one excuse for certain Members who made lengthy speeches on this subject, and it was this—Those who confined their remarks to a simple statement of their objections found that statement, generally speaking, reduced to a few lines in the newspapers next morning, while those who repeated over and over again the same arguments had, in reality, the whole substance of what they said given at greater length.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that he should confine himself to the Question before the House.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
opposed the acceptance of this Report for many reasons. In the first place, it was class legislation of the very worst kind—class legislation imposed on the poor and working classes by the wealthy, and by those who would not be in the least affected by its operation. In the next place, he opposed it because he believed that, instead of having a sobering effect on the people, it would assist in demoralizing them. If people had respectable licensed houses to go to, they would come to little harm.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
continued: If the people had no respectable licensed houses to go to, they would be driven to the shebeen-houses, and drinking would go on in private houses with demoralizing effect. Another reason why he opposed the Bill was that it would confiscate the property of from 17,000 to 18,000 people in Ireland. It would take, at least, one-sixth of the receipts from the country publicans of Ireland without giving them any compensation. He was sure the House would not willingly sanction confiscation without compensation. And, lastly, he opposed the Bill, because he believed it was opposed to 1267 the feelings and wishes of the vast majority of those who would be affected by the Bill. He challenged its promoters to hold a duly placarded meeting in the Phœnix Park, Dublin, and let the people decide for or against the Bill.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
challenged his hon. and learned Friend to call a public meeting at Dublin, and if that meeting was not more than two to one against the Bill, he would submit to it. The class affected by the Bill was the working class, and that class was largely against the Bill, and for that reason he should give the Bill all the opposition he could. It was well that the House should know what was in store for them. The friends of the measure had given notice that they were prepared to continue the Sitting through that, and, if necessary, even the following night. Well, if that were so, the opponents of the measure were not less determined to oppose, by every means and to the utmost extent, a measure which they regarded as one of coercion. He would show to the House that Irish opinion was in no way in favour of the Bill. There had been 888 Petitions, containing 235,553 signatures, against the Bill; while there had been 1,048 Petitions, with 313,403 signatures, in favour of the Bill. Well, that was certainly a preponderance of Petitions in favour of it. But in the last week of May, 23 Petitions were presented in favour of the Bill, and out of those 23 Petitions, which were supposed to represent Irish opinion, 12 were from England, 1 from Scotland, 1 was from the Society of Friends in Dublin, and 10 were from the rest of Ireland. Out of the 11 Petitions presented during the week ending the 9th of May, 9 were from England; and yet this House was made to believe that these Petitions represented Irish opinion, whereas the fact was that one-half of all the Petitions came from England. It was utterly untrue that the Irish were, as had been said, burning for this Bill. Two deputations had come from Ireland to support it; but the fact was that one of those were composed of two Scotchmen. One hon. Member had stated that he spent £3,000 a-year on this temperance agitation; 1268 and it was not to be wondered at, that, with such an inducement, Petitions and agitations and deputations should spring into existence. This was purely a Scotch Sabbatarian question, without any single element of Irish feeling in the matter. If the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. B. Whitworth), instead of spending £3,000 a-year towards this agitation, were to devote that amount towards the improvement and the well-being of the working classes in his own neighbourhood, he would be devoting his money to something more tangible than an imaginary idea. It was an old argument—and a very fallacious one—that the Bill would check drunkenness in Ireland; but almost everyone knew that the amount of drunkenness on Sunday was not only comparatively, but absolutely small. The movement was purely a Scotch Sabbatarian one, and it received no sympathy from the Irish people. Of course, in this Sabbatarian question, he looked on the North of Ireland as Scotch. He would show how the question was regarded in the light of the votes of the Irish Members. Of these, 88 had voted one way or the other, while 15 had abstained from voting. Of the popular Home Rule Members, 29 were in favour of the Bill, and 20 were against it. Did that show that it was such a purely Irish idea that it should be forced upon Ireland? There were 8 Liberals for the Bill, and only 2 against it. He did not wonder at that, because the Liberals on the front Opposition Bench had made this a Party question. Of the Conservatives, 27 were for the Bill and only 3 against it; but, out of these 27, 19 represented the Sabbatarian North of Ireland. Take away the Sabbatarian North of Ireland, very little tangible support had been given to the Bill. By the Bill, as it stood, the people of the large towns who were accustomed to go on Sundays to suburban pleasure resorts for fresh air and recreation would be deprived of refreshment; while, on the other hand, the people of the suburban districts, if they wanted refreshment on Sunday, would have to repair to the large towns in order to obtain it. Moreover, the Bill would work very unfairly towards the different suburban pleasure resorts around the city of Dublin, because the public-houses would be open on Sundays in such places as were within the metropolitan area and closed 1269 in those which were not. Again, the measure would operate very inconveniently in many towns having a considerable population, and which had presented Petitions against it. Dundalk, for instance, a town with a large manufactory, had sent Petitions, with 1,750 signatures, against the Bill; while Rathkeale, a town in his own county, with a large market, and containing over 15,000 inhabitants in its district, had sent Petitions to the same effect with 2,500 signatures. On the other hand, the promoters of this Bill were most inconsistent; because, while they would inflict great hardship on all the small towns and country districts, where there was comparatively little drunkenness, by closing the public-houses on Sundays, they had accepted Amendments which would exempt the five most drunken places in all Ireland from the measure. In the city of Dublin, with a population of 255,000, the number of convictions for drunkenness in the year 1876 was 13,000; whereas in the county of Dublin, with a population of much more than one-half of that of the city, the convictions for drunkenness amounted to a little over 1,000, or only one-twelfth of the number in the city.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
resumed: In the city of Cork, with a population of 80,000, there had been, during 1876, as many as 3,920 convictions for drunkenness; whereas in the county of Cork, with a population of 517,000, the convictions had been only 5,600. In the city of Limerick, with a population of 49,000, the convictions during the same year had been 3,632; whereas in the county, with a population of 192,000, the convictions had been only 3,200, or 62 fewer. In the city of Waterford, with a population of 30,000, the convictions numbered 1,847. In the county, however, with a population of 123,300, there had been only 1,535 convictions. In Belfast, with a population of 174,500, there were, notwithstanding the piety of the people, 6,825 convictions; whereas there had been only 3,542 convictions throughout the whole of the county Antrim, with a population of 230,000. 1270 These facts showed that it was in the large towns the greatest amount of drunkenness prevailed, and that the rural districts were comparatively sober. With a strange inconsistency, however, they were asked to exempt those large towns from the operation of the Act and put restrictions upon the country districts where the people were sober, and such restrictions unnecessary. In other words, they drew a ring, and said to the people—"Within this line you may drink as much as you please, but outside it you shall not have a drop." The natural effect of this every Sunday would be to drive the people of the country districts into the large towns to get drink, reversing what they ought to do, which was to encourage the inhabitants of the large towns to seek healthful exercise in the country. The 25 Irish Members who were against the Bill had been said to represent scarcely any one but themselves, and the supporters of the measure were said to represent the opinions of an overwhelming majority of the Irish people. The fact, however, was that the two Members for Cork, representing a constituency of 15,635, were amongst the opponents of that Bill, and the total constituency represented by the opposition numbered 62,176, while the 64 Irish Members who supported the Bill represented a constituency of 154,831; so that with all the boasting they had heard about the almost universal desire in Ireland that the Bill should become law, there was not a very large majority of the people who took that view, if they were to judge of the opinions of the constituencies from the votes of their Representatives; and if they were to strike out the Sabbatarians of the North, it would be found that opinion was very nearly evenly divided on the subject. The Bill had its great support from the North, and he defied its advocates to point to any fairly convened meeting in the South at which resolutions had been carried in favour of the Bill. In Limerick, at a meeting which was largely attended by working men, the Bill was condemned almost unanimously; and in Cork more than one public meeting passed resolutions against it. If this were not a Sabbatarian movement, why was it proposed to close public-houses on that day of the week on which there was the least amount of drinking? There 1271 never were such facilities given by the Government for any private Member's Bill than for this one-sided measure, by which the working classes, whose wishes had not in any way been considered, would be principally affected. He should oppose the Bill at every stage and in every way he possibly could, because he believed it to be a coercive measure, which would deal a blow at the rights and privileges of the working classes.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, that he should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow). He had read somewhere, not long ago, a statement, the exact words of which he could not quote; but the meaning was so strongly impressed upon his mind that he ventured to give the sense of the passage. It was to the effect that the iteration and re-iteration of any calumny, by its mere continuance, would, in all certainty, cast a stigma—however baseless and undeserved—upon those against whom it was levelled. And there could be no doubt that the Bill now before the House did cast a most undeserved and unfair stigma upon the people of Ireland generally. He felt that, attempt to disguise this matter as they would, the truth, notwithstanding, was palpably self-evident—namely, that this Bill was partly teetotal and partly Sabbatarian in its origin; and he said he sincerely pitied alike the so-called religion and the ethics of any man who, except for example sake, would hesitate to do that on a Sunday which he thought fit to do on a Monday, Tuesday, or, indeed, any other day of the week. It had been broadly stated, on the introduction of this Bill, that it was designed to curb drunkenness, especially on the Sunday, in Ireland; and some Members were half led to believe that drinking was more rife on that day than on any other. But the mint, or, in other words, the organization, from which this Bill really emanated, being strongly suspected, inquiries were at once set on foot, and it was proved, unquestionably and unquestioned, that of all days in the week, throughout the length and breadth of the sister country, insobriety was on the Sunday the exception and not the 1272 rule. If, therefore, the real object was to curb or stop drunkenness in Ireland, why choose this, the most sober day of the week, as the one for this experiment? The simple truth was, that this fact at once and for ever stripped this plea of all its validity and all its strength. They knew very well by whom this movement was got up. He did not hesitate to say, by the teetotal organizations in the main, supplemented, doubtless, by some few so-called Sabbatarians, aided by some of the clergy of each branch of the Church Catholic in Ireland; but it was, to all intents and purposes, virtually an emanation from that school which was endeavouring, if possible, to stop the sale of intoxicating liquors, not only in Ireland, but throughout the world. His chief objection to the Bill, however, was that it sought, practically, to deal exclusively with a class which, as had been pithily observed that night, were very nearly powerless; because almost directly unrepresented in that House—namely, the wage-classes, alike of England and of Ireland. He hoped he might say for himself that he was as anxious as any man to promote sobriety by all legitimate means. No man could hold drunkenness in greater detestation than he did, and it was for that very reason that he was the strongest antagonist of the measure now before Parliament. He opposed the Bill, because he was satisfied if it were once to become law, the effect would be to increase illicit drinking to an inordinate extent. When the Bill was first introduced, its promoters brought it forward with not merely a "flourish of trumpets," but a fanfarronade to which all the teetotal bands, both in England and Ireland, might be supposed to have contributed. It was boldly represented that, from county Antrim to county Clare, the feeling of all classes was harmonious and unanimously in its favour; but subsequent inquiry had indisputably proved that not only was such feeling utterly fallacious, but wholly without warrant or foundation. It must never be forgotten, too, that this Bill was, in its inception, a measure for the total closure of all public-houses on a Sunday in and throughout the whole of Ireland. What was it now? Its promoters had chosen to sacrifice—nay, he might even say, to sell—the entire principle of their Bill, in 1273 order to obtain, in other words, in exchange for, some so-called "facilities" for insuring its passage through this House. He did not believe in any such compromise of vital and fundamental principles; he, for his own part, would rather have thrown up the Bill altogether than have sold its very principle in any such manner, or have consented to its emasculation in any such fashion. Its promoters had abnegated the principles on which they had elected to stand, and the whole of their theory had been blown, like an exploded bubble, to the winds. All that this Bill, even if it passed in its present form, could possibly effect, would be to prohibit reasonable refreshment in the small, sparsely-scattered country villages; while, in the five large towns—where, if at all, restriction was demanded—every facility that now existed was to be continued in full force, notwithstanding that it was said, rightly or wrongly, these were the very places most requiring restriction and prohibition. So much, then, alike for principle and the love of it. If this Bill were really to have the effect of restricting or restraining drunkenness, and it was, therefore, a proper measure to apply to the small towns, why not to the larger, which assuredly stood, if at all, more in need of it? Was it, or was it not, true, that the convictions for drunkenness were almost, if not entirely, equal, in these five towns, to those in the whole of the rest of Ireland? Why, then, be content to restrict the operation of the Bill to those parts of the country wherein it was least required? This Bill ought not to be considered on the principle of compromise; and if it became law in its present form, the result would necessarily be a continued agitation to enlarge its operation; because, if once granted for any part of Ireland, could it be doubted for a moment that its promoters would instantly, before the ink of this law was dry, recommend an agitation for its imposition on the remainder of Ireland; and then how could it be said, with any logical fairness, that its principle was not equally desirable and applicable in the case of England also? Such an agitation, continued as it most undoubtedly would be, could not fail to be most detrimental to the peace and, indeed, the best interests of both countries. The several Governments which had occupied the Treasury Bench 1274 had each and all been charged, rightly or wrongly, over and over again with passing Acts of coercion as to Ireland; but here was a proposal, emanating mainly from the Irish Members themselves, at the instance—he did not like to use the word instigation—of a few priests and clergymen, supplemented, probably, by the feeling of the Presbyterian element in the Northern Provinces of Ireland and the teetotallers, to coerce, in the most tyrannical fashion, the whole wage-class of that country, by seeking to prescribe what a man's conduct should be in the sanctity of his own home. This was to be undertaken in order to satisfy the narrow notions of those who considered intoxicating drink a very naughty and objectionable thing. So long as the limits of the law were not overstepped or transgressed, what right had any man living to tell another what he should eat or what he should drink, any more than to say wherewithal he should be clothed? It had been said, he believed, by a Bishop of the English Church, that he would rather see England free than sober. He (Mr. Wheelhouse) was not a clergyman, and if he had made such a statement, probably it would have been somewhat scornfully received; but when it came, sanctioned—he had almost said, sanctified—by the mouth of an English Prelate, he could most cordially endorse the sentiment thus openly expressed, and he would extend it alike to Ireland and to this country. He himself had no earthly interest in this Bill, or those upon whom it bore more especially, either in regard to the Trade subject to its influence, or in any other way, beyond this—that he, for one, was determined to fight for, to maintain, and to preserve, if possible, intact and unimpaired, the freedom of his fellow-countrymen and fellow-subjects. He was bound to say that he had no sympathy with that class of self-styled religionists who thought it almost, if not absolutely, a sin even to take a quiet walk on a Sunday, to whom any amusement, however innocent, was utterly "taboo;" and whose sole notion was that the only thing to be done on that day was to go to church or chapel, under the fear of some dread and unknown penalty for omission, and to be seen—if at all—demurely with a bible and hymn-book under their arms. If he might venture to say so, with all due 1275 reverence, such ideas seemed to him to savour of the weak folly of some poor finite understanding setting to work in the vain and futile effort to correct the dispensations of that great unseen and illimitable Providence which, in His goodness towards man, saw fit, while guiding our weak footsteps, to allow the air to blow, and creation to move in His own appointed blessed way, as well on Sunday as on other days of the week. One or more of the Irish Bishops had already succeeded by persuasion in closing, it was said, all such houses on the Sunday. All honour to them for having done so; but for that very reason he protested against doing that compulsorily and by Statute, which it was thus proved could be effected when it was either desirable or necessary, without the intervention of the law. His anxiety was, as he had said before, to save the freedom of his fellow-subjects in the due exercise of their own individual discretion in all matters relating to their domestic habits and requirements; and in reference to them, he could no more permit needless interference of this character than he could allow it, if it were possible to prevent it, in his own personal case. If this Bill were, in fact, a perfectly free measure, which would put men of all classes on a footing of precise equality, then something might possibly be advanced in defence of it; but seeing it could only affect the comfort of the wage and under-middle class in Ireland, he must give it his strong opposition. It was clear that such a measure as this ought to be made to include either the whole of Ireland, or ought not to become law at all. The Forbes-Mackenzie Act, of which so much had been said, and which he, individually, disliked as much as possible, at all events had this merit or demerit, call it which they would—that it was felt in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the most remote corner of the Lothians and the Highlands alike. Could it matter for the purposes of legislation such as this where the Tweed flowed or the Irish Channel rolled? Surely not. If this measure were founded on the immutable principles of equity, so surely also ought Dublin, Belfast, and Cork to have been included in its provisions; and while, therefore, he supported the proposal of the hon. Member for Guildford, so must he continue to give his opposition 1276 to this Bill in every way within his power.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
not only protested against the principle of the Bill and its thoroughly unconstitutional provisions, but must condemn the unfair manner in which it had been pressed forward, and the facilities afforded the promoters by the Government for its consideration, to the detriment, if not the defeat, of the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Bill. To those who understood what the Sunday Closing Bill really meant, it was most unacceptable; while those who did not understand it required further time for its consideration. He maintained that if it was good for one part of Ireland, it was good for all. It was good for none; and he protested against its interference with personal liberty. Why should not a man have his glass of beer if he wanted it? A glass of beer was very refreshing at the end of a long walk. ["No, no!"] The hon. Member who said "No!" had evidently never tasted beer. He held in his hands Memorials most numerously signed by members of the Trade in the county Clare in favour of the Amendments proposed by the hon. Members for Cork and Meath; and if the Bill were carried—which he sincerely hoped it never would be—he trusted that compensation of the most liberal character would be given to those who were about being deprived of their seventh-day licence. He warned the House against encouraging the growth of shebeen-houses, the inevitable result of closing the licensed public on Sundays, and he called upon the promoters of the Bill to withdraw it, at all events for the present Session; so that, if it were again to be re-introduced, what it proposed to enact might be thoroughly looked into.
§ MR. ISAAC
said, although much had been said on the subject before the Committee, it was not exhausted. It was true the arguments had all been on one side—the promoters of the Bill not having on any occasion attempted to reply to the arguments of those who opposed it. He had made many inquiries as to the requirements of the Irish people, and he was satisfied that though there might be a large number in favour of this Bill, the great majority of the Irish people were decidedly opposed to it. The Government, 1277 no doubt, had made inquiries on this subject; but the information they obtained must have been entirely different to that received by him, or they would not have given such facilities to the promoters of the Bill, after refusing to give them to many other important measures now before Parliament. Like the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), he had opposed the Bill on principle from the first. He believed the great bulk of the Irish people no more wished for such a measure than the great majority of the English people required such a measure for this country. He desired to put an end to drunkenness by example and moral influence. People ought not to be deprived of their ordinary beverage on Sunday because there were a few who would abuse the privilege of obtaining it. He hoped the Bill would be withdrawn, so that the people of Ireland might be able to express their opinion on the details of the scheme between the present time and next Session.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
MR. ISAAC resumed
He objected to the Bill as a class legislation, inimical to the welfare of the country, because it would deprive the great mass of the people of Ireland of their just rights. If the majority of the people of Ireland were anxious to have the public-houses closed on the Sunday, they would not petition the House nor trouble their Representatives; but they would keep away from the public-houses, and render it unprofitable for the publicans to take out seven-day licences. If the publicans desired to close their houses on Sunday, they would do so by taking out six-day licences, thus saving one-seventh of their expenses; and in neither of these cases would an Act of Parliament be required beyond what already existed. It was unwise to attempt to coerce people in such a way as to foster an illicit trade; and this was shown by the increase of Sunday drunkenness in Scotland, which was clearly indicated by the Returns obtained last Session, in spite of the denial of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr-Ewing), who had impugned the accuracy of what he (Mr. Isaac) had said in a former debate. He now desired 1278 to say he believed the Returns made to Parliament were always based upon facts obtained from official Records, and were at all times to be relied upon as correct—thus proving the Forbes-M'Kenzie Act to be a failure. Within the last few days an incident had occurred near Cork which would astonish the supporters of the Bill. The account of it in the Cork daily paper was headed—"Dreadful faction fray; four men in danger of death." This happened on the Sunday, although, in that part of Ireland, all the public-houses were closed on the Sunday. The men were intoxicated beyond self-control, and must have got drunk on Saturday night or on Sunday from drink purchased on Saturday. Two families had quarrelled on a recent Saint's day; they attended Mass on Sunday morning, and in the afternoon they met, with the results stated. He asked the House, and the promoters of this Bill in particular, if anything more disastrous than this could have occurred if all the public-houses in Ireland had been open? They had a Bill, which proposed to deprive a large portion of the Irish people of a measure of their rights; and yet the promoters of the scheme did not appear to have power to say one word in answer to the arguments advanced against the proposal. The hon. Member who had charge of it (the O'Conor Don), however, had destroyed the only principle there was in the Bill, when he exempted the five large towns in Ireland from the measure. The principle of the Bill was gone, and now they had a sort of mermaid Bill—neither fish nor flesh. Had the hon. Member stood to his original Bill, he might have passed it much more quickly than the Bill now before the House. If they adopted the principle of Sunday closing of public-houses in Ireland, good; if they excluded five towns from the operation of the Bill, what became of the principle of Sunday closing? What was there in the population of big towns which made it desirable to keep the public-houses open, while the public-houses in smaller towns were to be closed? He maintained that in all those places where the people, or where the owners of houses desired that they should be open, they ought to be allowed to be opened. When it was wished by them that they should be closed, that would be done without the assistance of Parliament. He would 1279 give his support to the Habitual Drunkards' Bill, or any measure that would go to prevent drunkards doing injury to themselves or others. He supported Bands of Hope, Temperance Societies, Good Templars, and other like institutions, because each in their way did much good; but he contended there was no need for Parliament to pass measures that should deprive majorities of Her Majesty's subjects of their rights on the demand of minorities. The House might be assured that they would not see the end of the Bill that day or the next. It was a disagreeable subject, and would become much more so the more it was discussed. He suggested they should agree to a compromise. Let those who occupied both sides of the House—the supporters and opponents of the Bill—go out and settle it, and return to the House with their scheme prepared. Before concluding, he desired to repeat what he had already said, that the Bill entirely changed its character when the promoters accepted the Government Amendments; and if they admitted the principle of exemptions, why not extend it? What was good for Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Belfast, surely could not be objected to for other large towns. But then would come the question of what was a large town? For this purpose he should say any town of 400 inhabitants would be a very large one, and should be exempted from the operation of the Bill. They—the opponents of the Bill—did not object to the various Temperance Societies to which he had referred; but they did object to this improper and unnecessary interference with the rights of the majority of the Irish people. If this Bill was to become law, he would move that all clubs in Ireland should be included in it. He regarded the measure as being a coercion Bill of the worst character; and it would be looked upon, he believed, by the people of Ireland as being the worst coercion Bill to which they had ever been subjected. The opponents of the Bill desired to join with its promoters in the effort to attain the laudable object they had in view. They all wished to forward the cause of temperance; but they objected to an interference with the rights and privileges of those who were not intemperate, but took a moderate quantity of drink at a time when they required it. He objected 1280 to a Bill being forced down their throats, which was as unpalatable to them as would be a Bill which insisted upon every man being a drunkard, and he hoped the House would reject it.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
regretted that there was not a larger attendance to listen to the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Isaac). He (Mr. Downing) wondered what the impression of a stranger present at the debate of that evening would be when he saw that for several hours there were present 20 or 25 Members only, and that when each speaker sat down 15 or 16 Members rose in their places to oppose the Bill, while not one of the advocates of the measure made any sign of rising. The Bill was introduced early in the Session; it was read a second time by surprise. ["No!"] Well, the Irish newspapers said by a trick; but, however that might be, it was notorious that the Government were opposed to the Bill. What happened? Her Majesty's Government said to the promoters of the Bill that five of the largest towns in Ireland must be excluded from its operation. The measure was sent to a Select Committee, which was presided over by the then Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach); 37 witnesses were examined, and by a majority of 2, the Committee decided that the five towns in question should not be excluded. The Government disregarded this recommendation, and said to the promoters—"Agree to the exemption of these five towns, and we will assist you in carrying the Bill." This course, with singular inconsistency, the promoters of the Bill accepted; but it was one which he hoped the House would not approve. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), anticipating that this Bill would have passed easily, had brought in a Bill to close the public-houses at 7 o'clock on Saturdays; and if that Bill had been brought on instead of this, he should have supported it, because that was the measure which was really wanted in Ireland. The statistics which had been quoted, and the opinions which had been read, showed that the Bill was opposed by the majority of the Irish people. He considered that the conduct of the Government was censurable in accepting such a compromise as had been agreed to; and he was perfectly certain that the 1281 Grand Jury Law Amendment Act, which had been looked forward to for many years past, would be more acceptable to the Irish people than such a measure as this, which was in contradiction to the majority of the feeling in Ireland. In his capacity as a magistrate, he knew that Sunday was the day on which there was the least drunkenness; and yet it was proposed on that day to close the public-houses in all parts of the country, except those few in which drunkenness really prevailed to any extent. As a matter of fact, the Bill, in its present form, was a mere skeleton of what it originally was, and was, moreover, in contradiction of what even its supporters wished for. He had seen a report of a meeting held in the Exhibition Palace at Dublin, and presided over by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon), at which a resolution was passed supporting the Bill, but begging that Dublin might not be excepted from its operation; yet the promoters of the measure had gladly assented to the proposal of the Government to except Dublin and four other large towns from its operation. Circulars had been sent out, and he, amongst others, had received one, requesting hon. Members to withdraw their opposition; and had it not been for the stringent instructions therein, he, in all probability, would not have spoken on the question now. He was of opinion that this measure would not be of any benefit to the people of Ireland; if he thought it would, he would be prepared to go as far in respect to this Bill as the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don). The bonâ fide traveller was to be exempt from the operation of the Bill; so that while in Bray and Howth the respectable inhabitants would not be able to get a glass of beer on Sunday, anyone coming to those places from Dublin could get as much as he liked. It was urged that this coercive measure would have the effect of repressing drunkenness. He should like to give a few statistics touching the result of the Licensing Acts of 1872 and 1874 in the three Kingdoms; but he was sorry to say that his remarks would have no effect on the Treasury Bench. At one time during the evening that Bench had been empty; but from its present condition he did not think it was much better. 1282 He did not speak in a low tone of voice; but he had found it perfectly impossible to waken the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Secretary to the Treasury. In 1861, in England alone, 17,059 persons were taken up for drunkenness and disorderly conduct; in 1871, 24,000; and, in 1876, after two Acts had been passed to suppress drunkenness, 32,000. In Glasgow, which was supposed to be a model of sobriety, after the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed, no fewer than 36,682 people were arrested for drunkenness. The Irish were not at all a drunken people. There was nearly three times more drank per head in Scotland, and twice in England, as in Ireland; and yet they were told that the Irish people required an Act of coercion to prevent them from enjoying the Sunday as the people of England did. On a previous stage of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) came down to the House between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning to support the Bill, because he thought the majority of the people of Ireland desired that it should be passed. But on other questions there was far more agreement between the Irish Members than on this; and yet English Representatives did not support, but opposed, the wish of the majority of Irish Members with reference to those questions. It would be seen at the next Election whether the opponents or the supporters of the Bill would receive support from the bulk of the Irish constituencies. This Bill was supported by an unnatural combination. The Members of the front Opposition Bench, although they were absent when an important subject affecting the poor of Ireland and Scotland was under discussion last Friday, were here to-night to support this coercion, and were united on this question with the Government, who would if they could throw out the Bill. That was what he called an unnatural combination. He disclaimed any intention of speaking against time, a sort of tactics he would not lend himself to. He spoke because his judgment and his conscience told him that the Bill was one that the people did not want, and one which the majority of the people was opposed to. If the House was wise, it would reject it. He would again appeal to the hon. Member for Roscommon to pause before he pushed this 1283 Bill to extremities. Let him either withdraw the Bill or accept a clause to allow the public-houses to be opened for three hours on Sunday in every town with over 400 inhabitants. The county Roscommon, with a population of 150,000, had only four towns with more than 500 inhabitants; and surely these four towns were not too much for the supply of the reasonable wants of 150,000 people? If the hon. Member for Roscommon accepted the suggestion he had made there would be no further opposition to the Bill.
said, he did not wish to let the Bill enter upon another stage without recording an emphatic protest against it. It was no great concession on his part to admit that the majority of the Irish Members had declared themselves in favour of the Bill; but he contended that there were circumstances which deprived the majority from having that influence which they, under another state of things, should exercise. The exceptional circumstances to which he alluded were as follows:—This measure was not the result of a popular cry, and yet it proposed to deal with matters affecting the individual liberties of almost everyone in Ireland; the people never asked for this Bill, and its promoters were anxious to pass it before the constituencies could express any opinion on the matter. The subject was not before the people at the last General Election, and the majority of Irish Members favourable to the Bill had been influenced by the action of agents of certain Associations in Ireland and by the untiring exertions of eminent teetotal Members of the House of Commons. He submitted that before they accepted the statement that Ireland wanted a Sunday Closing Bill the House should have before it the distinct declaration of the Irish constituencies. The Bill was opposed to the convivial habits of the people; and it was a well-established fact that any attempts to apply such legislation to England would lead to a revolution, and that in Scotland and America, where this capricious restraint had been imposed, it had been owing to the spasmodic energy of some few individuals whose zeal had secured for them a passing triumph over the common sense of their countrymen. Such a Bill would not restrain drinking. The Irish people did not want a Sunday 1284 Closing Bill, and he found it difficult to believe that the Bill in its present state could be accepted by its promoters. They set out with the statement that nothing but the total closing of public-houses on Sunday would satisfy them or the people of Ireland; and if this House did not give them this Bill the House would be trampling upon the just and lofty aspirations of the people. The argument of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) appeared to him one of the most extraordinary rhetorical flourishes to which he had ever listened. The hon. and learned Gentleman's sagacity, however, was so great that it must be owing to his (the O'Donoghue's) own want of intelligence that he was unable to comprehend his argument. The only meaning he could attach to the hon. and learned Gentleman's observations was, that the Irish people were torn by conflicting desires on the one hand, and by a burning desire to keep out of the public-houses; and, on the other hand, by a burning desire to get into them, and in the dread and fear lest the latter desire should get the better of the former, unless they could summon to their aid an Act of Parliament and police supervision. In accepting, however, the Amendments of the Government, the hon. and learned Gentleman gave up the entire principle of the Bill; for if in all the large centres of population the public-houses were still to be open on Sundays, then the question of Sunday closing was to remain as a monster in the womb of futurity. The fact was now apparent that Government could not be induced to give any support to this Bill, except on the understanding that it should be altogether stripped of the principle on which it had been introduced. That was what was to have been expected from an Administration anxious to oblige the supporters of the Bill; but, at the same time, resolved never to give legislative sanction to their aspirations. The Government in the countenance which they gave to this Bill had altogether disregarded logic, and had taken their stand on the ground of expediency. In his opinion, however, the countenance which they lent to this measure was unworthy of their statesmanship, and of any statesmanship which was guided by reason. That a man having the good-fortune to live in a town of 50,000 or 80,000 inhabitants 1285 should have the right to enter a public-house and sit down and enjoy himself with his friends, while another person, having the ill-fortune to live in a small town or in a country district should be prevented from doing so, was an arrangement for which no satisfactory reason could be given. If he lived in Dublin, Cork, or Limerick, he might avail himself of those relaxations which every person in France, in Belgium, the other parts of the Continent, and the greater part of America might enjoy; but if he lived in Tralee, in Mallow, in Banagher, or any other of the small towns in Ireland, he was to be precluded from using public-houses. The most that could be said of the Bill in its present form was, that owing to the exemptions introduced into it by the Government, the number of those who would be inconvenienced and worried by it would be considerably reduced; but why, he would ask, should any one man in Ireland be made the victim of such capricious legislation? The Bill, as it had been introduced, was based upon the principle that the whole population of Ireland should be compelled to keep clear of the public-houses on Sundays. To this Government had strong objections; and they were now asked to pass a Bill which capriciously told one set of men that they might get as drunk as they pleased upon Sundays, while it told another set of men that they were not to be at liberty to do so. The principle of the Permissive Bill was intelligible. It assumed that in some districts the majority of the inhabitants might wish to have the public-houses open, while in other districts the majority might wish to keep them closed, and it would enact that the will of the majority should decide the matter. It had never, however, occurred to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) to propose that where there was a crowd the people should drink as much as they pleased, and that only those who were members of small populations should be precluded from doing so. Under those circumstances, he confidently and earnestly appealed to the House not to inflict such a piece of capricious legislation upon Ireland. His hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) was, he thought, bound to withdraw this Bill, as it was 1286 wholly untenable. The time was not far distant when there would be an opportunity to refer the whole matter to those whom it really concerned—to those who were alone competent to decide it. Should it appear to be the wish of the Irish electors, speaking at a General Election in a constitutional form, to compel the whole population of Ireland to abstain from the use of any alcoholic drink on Sundays, then, much as he might question the wisdom of any such decision, he would feel bound to respect the expression of public feeling as authoritatively enforced; but until he had from the Irish people such an expression of opinion, he would disregard the fuss and talk of a few teetotal Members who wished to force this measure upon the people of Ireland. Among them the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) occupied the first place. According to that hon. and learned Gentleman, the Irish people were the most moral, the most religious, and the most drunken people in the world, and that, accordingly, their most ardent wish that immediate steps should be taken to lock them out of the public-house; for that, with all their morality and religion, they were in a state of habitual intoxication. If they were to only see the hon. and learned Gentleman's testimony, no matter in what part of the world they saw a man stagger, they might at once come to the conclusion that he was an Irishman; and he could never forget his action on the occasion, as if he felt it necessary to give the House an ocular demonstration of the horrors of drunkenness, and had for that purpose studied the physical condition of one of his acquaintances after a night's debauch. The hon. and learned Gentleman was practical on all other questions. He (the O'Donoghue) would urge upon the House not to let itself be persuaded that there was a general feeling in Ireland in favour of Sunday closing. After its defeat last year, the teetotallers promised a great commotion in the autumn; but the agents of the Association had principally employed themselves in filling up a Memorial, which was almost exclusively signed by persons by whom public-houses never had been, and never would be, used. The movement was almost expiring, when it suddenly revived under the patronage of the right hon. Gentleman 1287 the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). The right hon. Gentleman was a host in himself, and nothing could be considered insignificant that was so fortunate as to obtain his patronage. A copy of the Memorial was sent, and the right hon. Gentleman, of course, replied—he imagined not on a post-card—and, of course, the greatest possible publicity was given to his answer. It struck him that the right hon. Gentleman had replied in a hurry, for he stated that the "Memorial was highly creditable to Ireland." In what way was it creditable to Ireland? It was nothing more than the expression of the wish of a few individuals that the mass of their fellow-countrymen might be subjected to restraints from which the Memorialists by reason of the affluence of their position would be free. Sunday was the day selected by the Memorialists for jollification, in which drink formed a very considerable ingredient. If the Memorialists had said that, for the sake of example to their fellow-countrymen and for the encouragement of temperance, they were willing to abstain from the use of alcoholic liquors on Sunday, one could have understood the expression of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich that the Memorial was creditable to Ireland. He wished someone, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, would rise on his behalf to explain in what way the Memorial was creditable to Ireland. The laudation bestowed on the Memorial by the right hon. Gentleman had led many innocent persons to imagine that it had some irresistible significance, and it had done much to perpetuate a most undoubted delusion. There was no ground whatever for the statement that there was anything approaching a universality of desire in Ireland among any class for Sunday closing. Dr. Dorrian, one of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland, most emphatically condemned the Bill. He had a list of a great number of places from which Petitions had come, and they were very important, and well worthy the attention of the House, as they included many of the most important towns in Ireland. It was clear, apparently, that the great mass of the people did not wish for Sunday closing; but the most aggravating argument in favour of the Bill was that the people did not know what was best 1288 for them. In that case, he presumed they would have to be guided by persons whose only claim to consideration was their superior sanctity and godliness. They did not appear, however, to thrive on the regimen they had adopted for themselves and wished to prescribe for others. Judging by the specimens that were seen about the House on the occasions of temperance debates, he thought it would be impossible to find an equal number of people so thoroughly answering to the description "thoroughly out of health." He had often wished that they could be got together somewhere where they could be closely observed by our great medical men and utilized for scientific purposes. Supposing the opponents of this and similar temperance Bills were to turn round on their teetotal friends, and say—"You are not well; it is perfectly clear that abstinence from alcoholic liquors does not agree with you. You unnatural fellow—your attenuated limbs, your want of ordinary corporeal development, in short, your general state of emaciation clearly proves that you stand in need of a little alcoholic stimulant, and take it you must. We shall introduce a Bill to compel you to imbibe good sound port." How would the teetotallers like that? Seriously, however, it would be quite as reasonable to pass some such Bill as to prohibit persons from entering a public-house on a particular day of the week. Evidently, the Bill would interfere with the liberty of each individual in all those cases in which it was most desirable that he should use his own judgment. The theories of the promoters of this Bill were plausible, and their aims illusory. Such men were always entitled to forbearance, and must ever excite curiosity. He believed they performed in society a very useful part, in suggesting to practical men that judicious middle course which enabled them to get on quietly together. A moderate compromise had been offered by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), which must approve itself to the general sense of the House. As the Bill stood, he should at every stage give it his most determined opposition.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID
thought the conduct of the Government with reference to this Bill had been throughout most extraordinary. Any hon. Member might search the Records of 1289 the House in vain, for an instance of a Government which, although constantly informing the House that it was most anxious to pass its own Bills, nevertheless gave such facilities to the Bills of private Members, as practically to prevent the passing of its own measures. The House had spent three nights in discussing this Bill, which they were told it was the desire of the majority of the Irish people should become law; but it was the first time that the Government had shown any disposition to bow to the wishes of the majority of the Irish people. There must be something behind that anxiety. On more than one occasion, endeavours had been made to carry Bills in which the Irish people had taken the greatest interest. There was, for instance, the Bill for enlarging the borough franchise in Ireland, which was supported by the great bulk of the Irish people; but in respect of that measure, the Government forgot all its regard for the wishes of the people of Ireland. At the beginning of the Session a long list of Bills was produced by Irish Members, which would have filled every spare Wednesday during the Session; but the Government did not give them facilities. Why should they have the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Bill, in which so much interest was taken, the Valuation Bill, the Highways Bill, the County Government Bill, or even the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Bill, postponed for the measure of a private Member, in regard to which, notwithstanding what the Government had said, the Irish people did not appear to be agreed, and which he was quite sure the Government itself did not approve of? At an early stage of the Bill, the Government opposed it; but afterwards they offered the promoters facilities, provided certain Amendments were accepted. But there were limits to facilities—there were facilities and facilities—and it was very strange, at the end of a long Session, to find a Government night devoted to such a Bill as the present. And with what result had this been done? They had spent six hours in making no progress. This ought to be a lesson to the Government not to give facilities in the way they had. Moreover, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland did not, of course, like this Bill; he had seen a good deal of that sort of 1290 thing, and knew how much humbug there was about it. The right hon. Gentleman knew that the people who promoted the Bill were not men whom they could trust; because the principles contained in the Bill were not their true principles. Their real principles were those of total prohibition, and that measure was only used by them as the thin end of the wedge. He was informed, on credible authority, that since the passing of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act more whisky and less beer had been consumed in Scotland, and drunkenness had largely increased; whereas in Ireland, at the present time, the consumption of whisky on Sunday was diminishing, and that of beer, which did not intoxicate, was increasing. On the best authority, he had been assured that the experiment tried in Scotland had been a failure; and he further asked why they should apply to Irish labourers a measure they would not be willing to apply to England? The Government had shown a great want of judgment in giving the extraordinary facilities they had for this Bill; and the House had a right to complain that measures promoted by the Government, and in which all parties took the greatest interest, had been postponed for a miserable Bill that could do no good, and would, in all probability, do much harm. In his opinion, the Government ought now to propose the adjournment of the discussion, and allow the House to finish the evening with some measures which might be of more use to the country than the one under consideration. He hoped, also, that no more would be heard as to giving facilities to the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don). But if the Government did not adopt the suggestion he had thrown out, he would make another—namely, that they should allow the Bill to pass on one condition—that it should only apply to Roscommon. That would be a fair test. Let the hon. Member try the Bill in his own district, if he believed in it. If it answered, then he might have some argument to bring before them. At present, judging from the effect of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland, it was not likely to be successful in Ireland. It was a most remarkable fact that the promoters of the Bill did not appear to believe in it themselves; for if they did, they would have had something 1291 to say for it, instead of only indulging in uncivil and derisive cheers, whenever an opponent of the Bill made a point against them. He had been in the House some years, and regretted to find that a system had been adopted which did not add either to its character or dignity. He trusted that system would not be pursued on a future occasion; for he felt sure that their debates would be better conducted, if they showed that courtesy to one another which was due to gentlemen.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that the hon. Member for Rochester (Sir Julian Goldsmid) had broadly stated that the Forbes-Mackenzie Act had been unsuccessful in Scotland. Perhaps he might be allowed to say, without being accused of egotism, that he knew a good deal more about the effects of that Act in Scotland than the hon. Member could be supposed to know. With the passing of that Act he had had something to do, and he had since had a great deal to do with the state of public-houses and drunkenness in Scotland. As Chief Magistrate of the city of Edinburgh before and after the Act was passed, and having been since closely connected with the city, he had come to the conclusion that the Act had greatly diminished drunkenness. For the last 26 years the authorities of Edinburgh had had public statistics compiled, showing the number of apprehensions for drunkenness as well as for every other crime; and, so far from there having been an increase in drunkenness, as stated by the hon. Member, the statistics showed that there had been a very large decrease. In 1852, before the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed, there were 729 persons apprehended as having been found drunk in the streets of Edinburgh in the course of that year on Sundays. In 1877, the number of persons apprehended under the same circumstances in Edinburgh on Sundays was reduced to 201. That was what the hon. Member for Rochester called a great increase in drunkenness—namely, a reduction from 729 to 201! Perhaps the Sunday statistics he had quoted were not to be so much regarded as an effective test upon the question of Sunday drunkenness, from the fact that they showed the number of persons apprehended in the 24 hours between 12 o'clock on Saturday night and 12 o'clock 1292 on Sunday night. Therefore, many persons would be put down in the statistics as having become drunk on Sunday who had become intoxicated on the Saturday night. But the authorities had another series of tables, showing the number of persons apprehended between 8 o'clock on Sunday morning and 8 o'clock on Monday morning, and he maintained that those tables were the true test of Sunday drunkenness. He would now state the results of those tables. In 1852, there were 401 persons apprehended by the police for being drunk between the hours he had last stated. In the last year for which the statistics had been compiled—1877—the number apprehended, under the like circumstances, had fallen to 54. Thus, instead of an increase, as stated by the hon. Member for Rochester, the figures showed that there had been a falling-off in the number of persons found drunk, from 401 in 1852 to 54 in 1877; and yet the population of the city had increased by about one-third during that period. Having paid great attention to these questions and seen the results in other towns, he must state his opinion that the Forbes-Mackenzie Act had been of incalculable benefit to the people of Scotland in diminishing drunkenness on Sundays, so much so that there was now no question in Scotland as to the repeal of the Act. The Act had given satisfaction to all parties in that respect, and he did not believe that even 100 publicans could be found in Scotland to ask for its repeal. He had thought it his duty to make these statements with regard to the working of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, and should not have spoken on the subject had not the success of that Act been impugned.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
protested against the inferences drawn by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) from the statistics he had quoted. All his life he had been afraid of statistics, and there was a growing conviction in his mind that nothing more hazardous could possibly be conceived than to ask the House to be governed by inferences from undiscerningly culled and imperfectly boiled statistics. Statistics needed a great deal of boiling down and judicious seasoning to make them really good for food. He often thought how true was the wise axiom of Swift, who said—"Arbitrary laws 1293 are like nets which catch weak flies and let wasps and hornets break through." A Sunday Closing Bill was a law of this kind which would entangle and worry the harmless ones, but would fail to stop the vicious in their courses. There was no possible fallacy which could not be reduced to the same category. He believed that by statistics anything on the face of the earth could be proved. After this Bill was passed, they were certain to have a similar measure to the Forbes-Mackenzie Act attempted to be forced upon England. Being anxious to inform himself, not by statistics, but by personal and direct testimony, as to the working of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland, he took an opportunity of inquiring of a well-known Presbyterian of high standing who had filled the post of Moderator of the Synod of Ulster. He asked that gentleman whether the ministers of his communion were in favour of extending the Scotch Act to Ireland? The reply was—"That, of course, they were in favour of it, because it was the fashion to say so." But when asked whether he believed it would suppress drunkenness? He answered—"Oh, dear no! I believe it would not have the slightest moral effect in Ulster or anywhere in Ireland. I spent my last vacation in Scotland amongst my own people, and, accustomed as I am to the faults of the Irish people, I think I never saw so much whisky drank on a Sunday." The fact was that the Forbes-Mackenzie Act had prevented drunkenness in the highway and increased it in-doors. The net result of Sunday repression was to shut up—to bottle—drunkenness; and then the advocates of the measure came down to the House and tried to mistify hon. Members about the beneficial effects of the legislation. He believed it was the greatest mistake in the making of laws to affect to treat vices as if they were crimes. It was impossible to treat any other sin or mischief in society in the same way in which drunkenness was attempted to be dealt with. But, owing to the progress of society, drunkenness had become a vulgar sin, and gentlemen no longer openly committed it; and, because it did not affect their gratifications or their pleasures, hon. Members thought fit to make a class law against the poor man's indulgence in alcoholic 1294 beverages. If it were attempted to impose such restrictions in England, he believed that an agitation would be created which would overturn any Government. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he could possibly contemplate the idea of applying such a measure as this in his own county of York? But what sort of morality was it that would deal with one side of the Channel only, and leave the other untouched? Would such legislation as this have the moral sanction which ought to attach to all legislation? The great defect of this measure was that it lacked the sympathy and opinion in its favour of the United Kingdom—which he hoped would become more united every day—without which no law could be expected to be successful.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, that the argument of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Torrens) would indicate that he was prepared to accede to a proposition for the removal of all restrictions upon the liquor traffic. His argument was that there should be no legislation affecting the social habits of the people. But the hon. Member knew very well that that proposition, nakedly stated, would never meet with the sanction of the House. The reason for the interference in this case was simply that the evil of intemperance was one of so great a magnitude, and occasioned so much loss to the nation, and so much misery to the people, that it was necessary for restrictive legislation to be passed to remove the evil. He had heard the Government that evening very roundly denounced for its conduct in reference to this Bill. Of that denunciation he should make no complaint; but if it were the intention of the hon. Baronet the Member for Rochester (Sir Julian Goldsmid) to reflect upon the promoters and the supporters of this Bill because they entered into a bargain and compromise with the Government, he had only this observation to make—that he trusted the promoters of the Bill would bear his condemnation in mind in the future, and that they would not make the mistake of entering into any bargain with any Government when they knew that they already had a large majority of the House of Commons on their side. That statement he made unreservedly. As a 1295 sincere and earnest supporter of the Bill, he would take that opportunity of expressing his extreme regret that the promoters of the Bill had entered into any compromise; and he must renew the protest he ventured to make some time ago against the notion that because the promoters of this Bill had made a concession with respect to the large towns and in some other matters—that, therefore, they were not entitled to press upon the acceptance of the House the remainder of the Bill. He held that they were perfectly entitled to do so; and he trusted that, although they had been drawn into a very unlucky compromise that Session, in some other Bill or by some other means they would revert to the original principle in a new Session of Parliament, and stick to their burden like men; for he was perfectly sure that whatever might be the feeling of the Irish people upon this question, it would eventually find effect in that House. They had listened that night with the pleasure they always experienced when the hon. Member for Tralee addressed that Assembly. But his speech reminded him of a theory which on more than one occasion had come into his mind when listening to the debates of that House upon the Sunday Closing Bill—namely, that a fallacy was a fallacy, no matter how it might be concealed. He would call attention to some inconsistencies in the argument of the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue). In the early part of his speech he said that if it were clearly proved that a majority of the Irish people were in favour of this Bill, he would offer no argument against its acceptance; but that he could not think they were in its favour. He remembered a time when a majority of the Irish Members in that House were in favour of legislation opposed to the wishes and feelings of the Irish people. He was glad that the hon. Gentleman's memory was so tenacious; and no doubt he recalled that period of Anglo-Irish history when the Irish Members of Parliament did not represent the Irish people. The hon. Gentleman must have been thinking at the time of a certain man, not unknown in Irish politics, who said that the House of Commons was no place for an Irish gentleman.
said, he must emphatically deny that he ever made 1296 such a statement. He challenged the hon. Member to produce proof.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
did not complain of the denial made by the hon. Member. If he did not make such a statement, and the cap did not fit him, it must be placed upon some other head. And if the hon. Member did not think the cap fitted him, he hoped that he would allow the observation to pass, because there was a certain man not unknown in Irish politics and in the House of Commons whom the cap inevitably would fit. On more than one occasion, the hon. Member for Tralee had given what he might call a personal turn to the discussion in that House. He seemed to be particularly anxious to exploit himself at the expense, or rather he should say for the amusement, of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan). In the absence of that hon. and learned Gentleman that evening, he had ventured to accuse him of perpetrating some very gross inconsistencies in the advocacy of that measure. In the first place, he said that the hon. and learned Member represented the Irish people as a moral nation who desired the passing of the Bill; but that, nevertheless, they must be a drunken people, for otherwise the necessity for the measure would not exist. He ventured to think that that contained a fallacy which destroyed the argument of the hon. Member for Tralee, and for this reason—that this Bill would not affect the mass of the Irish people, but would deprive the drunken minority of the people of Ireland only of the opportunity of gratifying their passions. Further, it was perfectly logical to say that the Irish people were sober, and that they desired the Bill because they were a sober people, for it would not interfere with the convenience of the majority. But in Ireland, as in England and Scotland, there were people who indulged recklessly and extravagantly in strong drink, and those who were competent to speak for the Irish people—as competent as the constitution of this House permitted—had declared that this measure would be beneficial to the people of Ireland. The great inconsistency which was noticeable in the otherwise able speech of the hon. Member for Tralee was this—that while in the early part of his speech he deprecated legislation in accordance with the wishes 1297 of the majority of the Irish Members, because his experience of the House told him that they were in the wrong, yet he said that they should not legislate then, because an opportunity would soon present itself to appeal to the electors, and thereby arrive at their true opinions. What was the use of deprecating the opinions of the Irish Members in one sentence, and telling the House in another to wait until they could, through some new body of Irish Members, get the opinion of the Irish people? The hon. Gentleman, indeed, said that this was not a vital question at the last Parliamentary Election. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) would venture to say that it would not be a vital question at the next Election, and for this simple reason—not that it was an unsound question, but because it was dwarfed by the great national question of self-government, which dwarfed every question, and which dwarfed even the Land Question and the Education Question. It was for that reason that at the last Election the question of Sunday closing in Ireland did not become one of vital importance. The hon. Member for Tralee had quoted opinions given in opposition to the Bill by Bishop Dorrian. They must all have the greatest respect for Dr. Dorrian; but why his opinion should have been brought forward was not very clear. About 23 Bishops had pronounced in favour of the Bill; but the hon. Member had chosen to select the opinion of Dr. Dorrian, who alone opposed the Bill, and to disregard the sentiments of the 23 Bishops who were in favour of it. Whatever might be the decision of the House with reference to the question brought up by the Amendment, that this Bill be considered in three months time, he trusted it would not be imagined for one moment that the advocates of the Bill had made any attempt, or wished to make any attempt, to forestall public opinion in Ireland. They had hitherto responded to every challenge offered by the opponents of the measure. Last Session, and the Session before, the Parliamentary Recess was occupied by the opponents of the measure in eliciting public opinion, and various public meetings and other means were also resorted to by the promoters of the Bill. From a speech of the hon. Member for Tralee, it might be supposed 1298 that no great amount of opinion had been declared in favour of the Bill. But the hon. Gentleman knew very well that meetings had been held in all the great centres of opinion in Ireland, and that unanimous Petitions had been forwarded from all parts of the country in favour of the measure. If the organization of the advocates of the Bill had had anything to do with the support it had received, yet it could not be said that there was anything solid or substantial in the case on the other side. If there were, every public-house in the country would become a centre of agitation, and every fair green in Ireland would overflow with opponents of the measure ready to push their view at every opportunity. But the cause of the publican, as represented on the platform and in the House, might be described as not having a leg to stand upon; it disappeared before the light of public opinion, or was crushed by the weight of argument.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes 166; Noes 55: Majority 111.—(Div. List, No. 205.)
§ Main Question, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered.
MR. O'SULLIVAN moved the following Clause:—
(Consent of majority of each parish to be ascertained.)
This Act shall not come into force in any town or parish in Ireland until it is first ascertained, by a vote of the adult population of each pariah, that the majority of the people are in favour of the provisions contained in Clause one.
The hon. Member said, that at the first view, the clause he now submitted for the consideration of the House might appear to contain the permissive principle, as embodied in what was known as the Permissive Bill, of which the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had charge; but it differed from that measure in this respect—that it gave the people the power to reject the Bill for closing public-houses on Sunday, while the Permissive Bill declared that the licensing power should be placed in the hands of the people.
To a certain extent, there was a similarity between this clause and that Bill; and, therefore, he hoped to secure the votes of the hon. Member (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and his supporters, including that of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), who went with him (Mr. O'Sullivan) into the Lobby the last time he took a division in the Committee on this measure. When this clause was introduced in Committee, he believed it was somewhat hastily put from the Chair; and for that reason he now brought it forward again, with the intention of pressing it to a division. He claimed the support of the Temperance Party, and of those hon. Members especially who voted for the Permissive Bill; because the clause would give the people the right to decide whether the present measure was to come into operation in parishes or not. He moved that the clause be read a second time.
§ New Clause—(Mr. O'Sullivan,)— brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."
THE O'CONOR DON
abstained, at that late hour, from entering into any discussion of the question raised by this clause, which had already been very fully considered in Committee. As to the permissive principle contained in it, he thought the majority of the House had clearly expressed their opinion before; and, as the promoter of the Bill, he could not consent to have the measure weighted with any provision of this kind.
observing that his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) did not appear inclined to have any discussion at all, moved that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(The O'Donoghue.)
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
expressed a hope that the debate would not be adjourned. He did not think that anything said by the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Con) showed 1300 any unwillingness on his part to have discussion. If they were going to discuss the Bill, it was certainly too early to adjourn the debate at a quarter to 1 o'clock. As far as the Amendment before the House went, he was bound to say that he was himself strongly opposed to the permissive principle. He had always voted against that principle, and he always should.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING,
in supporting the Motion for adjournment, said, he had observed the attendance in the House. During the time this Bill had been under discussion, the Treasury Bench, and the front Opposition Bench, were almost entirely vacant. The House had not the advantage of the presence of scarcely one single right hon. Gentleman on either side, and they had been engaged in discussing an important principle for nearly eight hours. Now, they found both Benches pretty full. There were several Amendments of great importance upon the Paper, and it was really too bad that, while during the last eight hours there had been only from 20 to 30 Members in the House, now it should be pretty full of Members who had been dining with their friends and enjoying themselves.
§ MR. SPEAKER
pointed out to the hon. Member (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), that the condition of the House at a previous period of the Sitting was not the Question before the House; and, therefore, the hon. Gentleman was not in Order when he referred to it.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
bowed to the decision of the Speaker. He could not help remarking upon the contrast which the House presented between the earlier and the latter part of the Sitting. He hoped he was not out of Order in saying that, because it was a fact which could not be denied. With reference to the Question before the House, he was not prepared to see the discussion continued until a quarter past 9 o'clock in the morning, as had happened on a former occasion. He hoped that the observations made by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would receive the favourable consideration of the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had said, in the early part of the debate, that he hoped the House would not ask the Speaker to sit in the Chair until half-past 9 in the morning; and 1301 he hoped, therefore, that the House would consent to the adjournment of the debate.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes 33; Noes 153: Majority 120.—(Div. List, No. 206.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, that so far as the Amendment now before the House was concerned, he must, in a very few words, enter his protest against it, and he did so upon the following ground:—So far as he could judge, if it formed a Permissive Bill in another shape—and he did not care from whatever source it came—anything like the Permissive principle, involving local option, ought to have the determined opposition of all those who voted against the Permissive Bill. So far as the Bill itself was concerned, he disliked it as much as it was possible to dislike anything, always with the single exception of the Amendment, or supposed Amendment, which was now sought to be engrafted upon the measure. Partaking, as it did, of that vicious characteristic which he, rightly or wrongly, attributed to it, he could not vote in favour of the Amendment.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH,
was about to move the following new Clause:—(Holder of licence at liberty to claim compensation.)It shall be lawful for any person holding a seven day licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor to enter a claim for compensation for the loss of his trade by reason of the operation of this Act, such claim to be entered and tried in the county court of the district in which his premises are situate, and in the event of the claimant establishing his claim for compensation before the judge of said court he shall be entitled to such damages, not exceeding six years' loss of trade, as the judge may award, said damages to be presented for by the grand jury of, and levied off, the county at large,when——
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he wished to point out to the hon. Member for Westmeath that the clause he proposed to bring in involved a question of compensation imposing a charge on the public. A proposition of that kind could not be put from the Chair unless it had been 1302 considered by a Committee of the Whole House upon the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. MURPHY moved to amend the Preamble of the Bill by adding the words "save in the places hereinafter mentioned." His object was to alter the Preamble so as to bring it into conformity with the Bill. The Preamble, as it now stood, extended the prohibition for the whole of the day to the whole of Ireland; and, therefore, it was perfectly inconsistent with the Bill itself. It was essential that the Preamble of the Bill should be in comformity with the clauses; and, therefore, it appeared to him absolutely necessary that some such Amendment as he proposed should be accepted, and he trusted the House would not have any difficulty in passing it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. MURPHY,
then moved, in Clause 1, line 17, to leave out "cities," and insert "county of the city." In the 1st clause of the Bill the Metropolitan Police District of Dublin was exempted from the operation of the Bill. The city of Cork was in precisely the same circumstances as the Metropolitan Police District of Dublin, and he wished to insert these words to place it in an analogous position in the Bill. He did not suppose there was any objection to the Amendment, which was simply placing Cork in a similar position to Dublin, which he thought was a fair and reasonable proposition.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 17, to leave out the word "cities," in order to insert the words "county of the city."—(Mr. Murphy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'cities' stand part of the Bill."
THE O'CONOR DON
was sorry he could not assent to the Amendment proposed. He might say, in the first place, if he desired, that it was not consistent with the pledge which the hon. Member had made to the House when the Bill was before Committee, to the effect that he would not move any Amendments to Clause 1, except the 1303 Amendment of which Notice was given by the hon. Member for Cork County (Mr. M'Carthy Downing). However, he had no doubt his hon. Friend did not think that the present Amendment was a very serious one, and that it would not therefore come under the pledge. He had been blamed for the exemptions he had already made; but they had been made at the instance of the Government, without whose assistance they could not have succeeded in passing the Bill. But beyond those exceptions, they felt they could not make any further ones.
§ MR. MURPHY rose, when——
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that if the hon. Member was about to explain the course he was going to take he would be in Order; but otherwise, he would not be at liberty to address the House again.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he merely wished to remark that the Amendment he had proposed was not outside the spirit of the undertaking he had made. He considered it merely a verbal Amendment to carry out the intention of the Act, and in that sense, he had never dreamt of the possibility of its being refused.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 139; Noes 36: Majority 103.—(Div. List, No. 207.)
§ Clause 1 (Extension of Acts prohibiting sale of intoxicating liquors to the whole of Sunday).
MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING moved, as an Amendment, to insert after "Sunday," the following words:—
And, except in all towns and villages, with a population of four hundred, according to the last Government Census of population, and within the said towns and villages, the said hours or times are hereby extended, and shall be as follows (that is to say): up to the hour of two o'clock in the afternoon, and after the hour of five o'clock in the evening.
The hon. Member said, that those who opposed the Bill must admit that they were brought to that point when they must appeal to the good sense and good feeling of those who had been in the great majorities by which the efforts of the opponents of the Bill had been defeated. He wished that hon. Gentlemen who were now in their places had been present in the evening, to have heard exactly the progress of the Bill.
He was not going, at that hour, to occupy the time of the House by going into that question, which he had discussed very fully at an earlier hour of the evening; but he was obliged to say this—that the Government had insisted in remitting the operation of this Bill in five cities in Ireland, where, if the Bill had been required at all, it would have been required most. He had moved, upon a former occasion, that in all parts of Ireland there should be a period of three hours on a Sunday for the purpose of getting refreshment—that was to say, from 2 o'clock in the afternoon till 5 o'clock in the evening. There was a very large division upon that question, and he was not at all surprised that upon that occasion his Amendment was not accepted. But now that they had come almost to the last Amendment, he trusted that the Government, and those who had the conduct of the Bill, might listen, at that last moment, to something like reason, and that they might be influenced by prudence. If the five towns that had been exempted had been five towns where there was a great excess of drunkenness—and he did not say that there was any great excess there over other large towns in Ireland—it would have been in those very towns that the Bill would have been required. The Government had put it to the Select Committee on the Bill, whether those five large towns should be exempted or not? The Committee, by a majority of 2, and upon the evidence given by those best acquainted with these towns, had decided that they ought not to be rejected. Gentlemen holding the position of Captain Talbot, one of the Commissioners of Police in Dublin, gave the very strongest evidence against the exemption of Dublin from the Act. But who was responsible for the exemption of these five towns? The Government, in the first place, by a peculiar kind of contract, which, he thought, did them no credit whatever. They entered into one of those secret contracts which appeared to be their favourite mode of sustaining their position, both abroad and at home; and with whom? With the promoters of the Bill, and in that they were assisted by the front Opposition Bench, who, by some hallucination he could not account for, lent themselves to support the Bill, under the impression that they were carrying out the wishes of the
people of Ireland. He wished they could have heard the observations of his hon. Friend the Member for the city of Cork (Mr. Murphy). He would have convinced them that this was not the Bill the people of Ireland wished for; but which, by a large number of Petitions, they had appealed against. What he said was that they were exempting the five towns where—if the Bill were necessary at all—it ought especially to be applied. Why should they carry out this scheme in other places, and say that in towns with a population of 5,000 and 10,000 there should not be a single drop of drink to be obtained by any of the inhabitants; while in those large cities, where drunkenness and crime already existed, the people should have as much drink as they liked? He would like very much to have that question answered. The right hon. Gentleman who filled the post of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—well, they all knew what his opinions were. He had stated them before, and he had said that this was a Bill which he disliked, and that it was a Bill which he wished had not been passed by the House. Then, how was it that it had arrived at its present stage? By a combination of the Government and the front Opposition Bench, effected by what means he did not know, but united in a false supposition that the people of Ireland required and demanded the Bill. Well, that being the case, they had exempted those five large towns; and now let him appeal to the good sense, let him appeal to the feelings, of hon. Gentlemen, and ask them, as those five towns were exempted, whether there was any reason—and, if so, let them hear it—if Dublin, and Cork, and Belfast, and Limerick, and Waterford were to be exempted, why was Galway, why was Londonderry, why was Queenstown, and why were other great towns in Ireland to have their public-houses shut up? For what purpose was it? Why, in the first place, it was to withdraw the rural population from their enjoyments in the country, and to bring them into the towns to drink. That would be the first consequence. ["No, no!"] Some hon. Gentlemen said "No, no!" but he would ask them this. He would take any town they liked. He would take Fermoy, a garrison town with a large population. All the public-houses in the town were to
be closed, and what would be the consequence? There was a garrison town, and what did they do by their Bill? They allowed the canteen to remain open for soldiers to get drunk in, and then to come out drunk among the sober population to quarrel with the civilians. Let them take Queenstown, with a population of 11,000, where all the mail-packets berween Liverpool and America stopped. Strangers were coming in there every day, and remaining in the place all night. Ships were lying there that had come off long voyages; but the public-houses were closed on Sundays to the passengers because they were not travellers. Another case was that of Bray, which was becoming a large, as it was also a fashionable, place; but none of the inhabitants of the town would be allowed to get drink on Sundays in the hotels or public-houses. The same rule would apply to many other important towns in Ireland, to which he need not refer by name; and he, therefore, proposed that each place with a population numbering over 400 should have three hours to provide refreshment. Let his hon. Friend who had charge of the Bill consider what the effect of the Amendment would be in his own county; remembering, at the same time, that by accepting the Amendment of the Government he had already destroyed the original principle and intention of the Bill, which was to put a stop to Sunday drinking in public-houses throughout Ireland. The triumph of the Temperance Party would be destroyed by excepting from the operation of the Bill the five cities and towns in which, as was well known, the greatest excess of drunkenness and vice existed. In the county of Roscommon, which was represented by the hon. Member (the O'Conor Don) there were only four towns with a population exceeding 500 inhabitants in a total population of 150,000; and surely those four towns were not too much to supply the reasonable demands of 150,000 people? If his Amendment were not adopted, he should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government—which had given facilities in reference to this Bill which no Government ought to have given—would be ready to make terms with any and every private Member of the House to give Government nights for the prosecution of Private Bills on condition that
the Members in charge of them made such concessions as suited the taste and convenience of the Government? He feared that one effect of the exceptions which had been made would be to induce the people resident in the villages near to the excepted towns, instead of taking moderate refreshment and enjoying their Sundays in rural fashion by roaming about in the meadows and country lanes, to go into the towns and perhaps indulge in immoderate drinking. If Queens-town, for instance, were not included in the list of excepted towns, any inhabitant of the place could, at a cost of 4d., go into Cork and get as much beer or whisky on a Sunday as he could contain; while the respectable inhabitants of the town would be unable to get anything in the vicinity of their own homes. It was stated, at an earlier stage of this Bill, that when it was introduced, or shortly afterwards, a large meeting was held in the Phœnix Park, at which a resolution was passed protesting emphatically against the exception of Dublin from the operations of the measure. Yet, at the instance of the Government, the city had been excepted, and the same privilege was refused to many other towns of importance the inhabitants of which really desired that it should be given. It was the lateness of the hours up to which drink could be obtained in Ireland that had done the mischief of which so many complained; and he could see no sufficient reason for withdrawing the liberty altogether. The country would submit to some restriction; but they would never be content with a sweeping measure like the present, with the addition of invidious distinctions and exceptions. He had no desire to enter upon a consideration of the general question of compensating the holders of seven-day licences in the event of this Bill passing; but he must say that if the right to such compensation was made out the money ought to come out of the Consolidated Fund, and not out of the rates, for the reason that the Government which had given to these licensed holders a vested interest was consenting to their deprivation of it. Many hon. Members for English and Scotch constituencies supported the Bill at the outset, for the reason that it proposed to shut public-houses on Sundays; but as that principle had been abandoned, he saw no reason why those
Members should not support the Amendment which he had proposed, it being remembered that the Bill was only of a temporary character, and that it could either be re-enacted at the end of four years in any form which might be thought best, or allowed to lapse. He therefore begged to move, in Clause 1, line 1, after the word "Sunday," to insert the words—
And, except in all towns and villages with a population of four hundred, according to the last Government Census of population, and within the said towns and villages, the said hours or times are hereby extended, and shall be as follows (that is to say): up to the hour of two o'clock in the afternoon, and after the hour of five o'clock in the evening.
In conclusion, the hon. Member said the Government would, by agreeing to this Amendment, gain something in the popular feeling of Ireland. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen might say "No, no;" but he claimed to know as much as anyone in the House of the feelings of the Irish people.
In page 1, line 22, after the word "Sunday," to insert the words "and, except in all towns and villages, with a population of four hundred, according to the last Government Census of population, and within the said towns and villages, the said hours or times are hereby extended, and shall be as follows (that is to say): up to the hour of two o'clock in the afternoon, and after the hour of five o'clock in the evening."—(Mr. Downing.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Stacpoole.)
THE O'CONOR DON
, in opposing the Amendment, said, it must be obvious that if the exception of five large towns, which had been adopted at the instance of the Government, was extended to all towns with populations of over 400, there would be no such thing as total closing of public-houses on Sundays, except in places where it would not be possible to enforce the provisions of the Act. It had been said that the promoters of the Bill had made no concessions; but he would remind those who said this that they had conceded the point as to the duration of the Act, but to accede to the Amendment now proposed would be to give up the Bill.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
thought this was a reasonable hour at which to go on with the discussion of the Bill.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
supported the Motion for adjournment, on the ground that the Committee had already discussed the Bill for nine hours, and it was not fair to ask them to proceed further with so exhausting a process.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, there was probably no Member of the House who disliked this Bill more than he did; but as a majority of the House had decided upon proceeding with it, he saw no reason why progress should not be made as rapidly as possible.
§ MR. MURPHY
hoped the Motion for adjournment would not be persevered with. There was no Member of the House who had given a more active and uniform opposition to the measure than he had; but he did not think it would be wise to make Motions which could only result in hon. Members having to walk through the Division Lobbies without doing any good.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
also thought the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Stacpoole) would do well in withdrawing his Motion; but hoped the Government would break the persistent silence which they had maintained, and that the Chief Secretary for Ireland would say something in reference to the Amendment which had been proposed.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
said, that after what had been urged, he would withdraw his Motion. At the same time, he thought the exception should not be confined to the five cities and towns which were included in the Government Amendment, and suggested that it should, at least, extend to all the Parliamentary boroughs in the country.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. MURPHY
said, it was becoming more and more apparent that the Bill was a kind of self-contradictory hybrid measure, which the House ought not to be called upon to pass, unless it wished to make itself ridiculous. There was neither justice nor equity in it; and if he wished the passing of a Bill in order to create public disapprobation merely, he should support the present Bill in its present form. What he wished was 1310 that every Bill should pass concurrently with public opinion; and if this measure did not come within that category, it was not only useless, but it was a legislative crime to pass it. No one could allege that the masses of the Irish people had asked for this Bill, or that it was in any way necessary. The police statistics showed that of 93,295 persons arrested for drunkenness in Ireland in 1870-1-2, 33,666 were arrested in the towns now proposed to be excepted, leaving 59,629 for the whole remaining part of the country. If the Bill was rendered necessary, it was necessary as a remedial or preventive measure for something which had an existence; and he would ask whether the arrest of 59,629 persons for drunkenness, in addition to those arrested in the towns proposed to be excepted from the operation of the Bill, was a sufficient justification for a measure of the kind? If his hon. Friend did not succeed in passing the Amendment before the Committee, he hoped he would have so substantial a minority as to show the opinion of the House upon the subject.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he had not voted, and did not intend to vote, in favour of any dilatory Motions in reference to this Bill. All he wished now to say was that the effect of passing it might be such as to affect the votes given at the next Parliamentary Elections in the country, the Government having made a bid for the votes in five of the largest towns by procuring their exception from the Act. It would not affect the counties much at present, because, as far as they were concerned, the franchise was limited; but it would have the effect of bringing about a suggestion, at any rate, of an extension of the county franchise. He believed it had been shown, over and over again, that in the country districts Sunday was the most temperate day in the week; and he could only account for the Bill on the supposition that it emanated from the Sabbatarian feeling in the North of Ireland, which those who held them had no right to thrust down the throats of those in other parts of the country who differed from them. He hoped no harm would result from this enactment; but he thought it could not fail to have the effect of inducing the humbler classes to believe that the spirit of class legislation was still predominant in the British 1311 Parliament. As far as he knew, no statement or argument had been adduced to show that the people of Ireland who would be affected by the Act generally desired its passing.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN rose to address the House——but
§ MR. SPEAKER
ruled that the hon. Member was not entitled to speak again in this debate, as he had seconded the Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 40, Noes 112: Majority 72.—(Div. List, No. 208.)
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he was sure the Government or the House generally would not think it was too early to adjourn. Therefore, he would move the adjournment of the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
pointed out that he had called on the hon. and gallant Member for Leitrim (Major O'Beirne), who had the next Amendment on the Paper. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. O'Sullivan) would be in Order in moving the adjournment of the House after that Amendment had been moved.
MAJOR O'BEIRNE moved the addition of the following Proviso to follow Clause 1:—
Provided always, That from and after the passing of this Act, no wine, beer, spirit, or other intoxicating liquor shall be supplied for payment to any person at any clubhouse or other unlicensed establishment, unless to a person being a bonâ fide resident or lodger therein, under pretence that such person is a member of any club or society, or upon any pretence whatever, and every person so supplying or directly or indirectly so supplying such intoxicating liquor, shall be subject in all respects and to all intents and purposes to the same penalties as are imposed by any statute upon persons licensed to sell beer, wine, or spirits by retail, keeping his house open or selling on Sundays within the hours prohibited by Law.
The hon. and gallant Member said, with reference to the upper classes of society, drinking appeared to be very much on the increase amongst them. Only a week ago, a measure had been introduced, and passed by the House, dealing with habitual drunkards; but it would apply to the upper classes only, because it was clear that the lower orders could not afford to pay for being kept in the retreats to be provided under that Bill. Therefore, he moved this Amendment.
THE O'CONOR DON
, before the clause was put to the House, asked a question on a point of Order, whether a clause of this character could be submitted to the consideration of the House? It struck him that what took place in a club, with regard to supplying drink, was not a sale of liquors in any sense; and had nothing to do with the sale of intoxicating drink in licensed houses. He, therefore, inquired whether the clause could properly be put?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the clause did not appear to him to be out of Order; and, therefore, he would not feel justified in interposing between the hon. and gallant Member (Major O'Beirne) and the House.
At the end of Clause 1, to add the words "Provided always, That from and after the passing of this Act, no wine, beer, spirit, or other intoxicating liquor shall be supplied for payment to any person at any clubhouse or other unlicensed establishment, unless to a person being a bonâ fide resident or lodger therein, under pretence that such person is a member of any club or society, or upon any pretence whatever, and every person so supplying, or directly or indirectly so supplying such intoxicating liquor shall be subject in all respects and to all intents and purposes to the same penalties as are imposed by any statute upon persons licensed to sell beer, wine, or spirits by retail, keeping his house open, or selling on Sundays within the hours prohibited by Law."—(Major O'Beirne.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
hoped the Government would now allow the debate to be adjourned. He did not think that was an unreasonable suggestion, seeing that the House had been discussing the Bill for nine hours and a-quarter. He had no objection to resume the debate on any day that the Government might fix. They had already given up three days for the discussion of this measure, and had besides stopped Supply on other nights. He felt sure they would give another day for the finishing of the Amendments, and another for the third reading. Considering that it was not their own Bill, the Government had afforded extraordinary facilities for its discussion; and he challenged any hon. Gentleman with greater experience in the House than he had, to cite an instance in which a private Member had received such faci- 1313 lities for the consideration of a measure. The Amendments on the Paper would, no doubt, take the greater part of a day to discuss, and he thought it was unreasonable, at that advanced hour, to continue the debate. The Members from Ireland were reminded that on that day, the 12th of July, the Army was turned out of Ireland; and now the House was going to add to the soreness of the 12th of July by trying on the same day to pass this unfortunate Bill, which would give rise to another subject of dissension in that country. As for the advocates of this measure, he expected no concession from them; but he appealed to the Government in the hope that they, at least, would accede to the reasonable proposition he now made. He also asked the support of the House. He moved that the debate be now adjourned.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
, in seconding the Motion, said, the debate had gone on for a very long time, and some consideration ought to be shown for the Speaker, and also for Members of the House. They had been there since 5 o'clock, and the discussion would last till eternity, if it went on much longer.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. O'Sullivan.)
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
believed that he was expressing the sense of the House in stating the opinion that the debate ought to go on. He was bound to say that the Amendment had been most fairly argued in Committee, and he had no doubt that, in a short time, the House would be be able to dispose of the remaining Amendments. He thought it was the general wish that the hon. Member (Mr. O'Sullivan) should withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH rose to enter a protest on behalf of those who opposed the Bill. They felt acutely that the Government had afforded unusual facilities to the promoters for the passing of the measure. The opponents held that to be unfair to them, as the minority of the House. The minority believed—indeed, they knew—that they represented the feelings of the masses of their countrymen on this question. For his own part, he felt that a grievance had been done by the manner in which the 1314 Chancellor of the Exchequer had engaged to give the promoters facilities for the consideration of the Bill, and by the way in which that engagement had been carried out. There was a personal matter of his own on which he wished to say a word. An Amendment stood on the Paper in his name. It related to the question of compensation. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had uttered sentiments, with which he entirely sympathized, in regard to vested interests. The Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the debate upon the Permissive Bill, had declared that that measure was one which could not be even considered, until the question of compensation had been decided. To both those Gentlemen he now appealed. He found that he had committed a technical error, for which he was free to take to himself the blame; and, in consequence of that error, the Amendment standing in his name could not be put. Was he unreasonable in now asking that some opportunity might be afforded to him of taking the sense of the House upon the question of compensation, which his Amendment would have raised? Was ruin to be brought upon 10,000 families in Ireland by the operation of this Bill? That would be the effect of passing this measure, without provision being made in it for compensation. An account had been taken——["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
pointed out to the hon. Member that the Question before the House was the Amendment moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Leitrim (Major O'Beirne), upon which the adjournment of the debate had been proposed. He, therefore, thought the remarks of the hon. Gentleman were irregular.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH
disclaimed any intention of entering into the merits of the matter. He had merely referred to it, as assigning a reason for supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan), which he did most warmly.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 20; Noes 120: Majority 100.—(Div. List No. 209.)
§ Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.1315
§ Clause 2 (Penalties for selling of intoxicating liquors during prohibited hours extended to whole of Sunday).
§ MR. MURPHY moved an Amendment to leave out certain words. The object of the Amendment was this. At present the Bill enacted that a penalty should be inflicted upon anyone who was found in or upon licensed premises during the prohibited hours. He had mentioned the operation of that clause in a discussion upon the Bill at a previous stage, and the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) had admitted that his objection was a reasonable one, and had intimated his willingness to consider the matter with a view of removing what he thought was a very great grievance indeed. If the words he proposed to omit were retained in the clause, the effect would be simply this. If any person were found upon the premises, no matter what his business was—whether he were the son, or cousin, or any relative of the publican—he was liable to arrest and fine in consequence of the penalties enacted against selling, or exposing for sale, any intoxicating liquors on Sunday. He scarcely thought that the promoters of the Bill intended that any person who was found upon the premises, say as a visitor, should be liable in the same way as a person who was there for the purpose of obtaining liquor. It was with the view of doing away with the possibility of having any party capriciously arrested that he moved the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 25, to leave out the words "or being present in or upon any such premises."—(Mr. Murphy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words stand part of the Bill."
THE O'CONOR DON
said, that this was a point which in Committee he promised his hon. Friend to consider before they reached the stage they were then at, and he thought he could satisfy his hon. Friend that he was mistaken in supposing that there was anything new in the clause. The present law, passed by the present Government in regard to persons being present in a public-house on Sunday during prohibited hours, enacted that if, during any period during which any premises were required under the Act to be closed, a person were 1316 found upon such premises, he should, unless he satisfied the Court that he was an inmate, a servant, a lodger, or a bonâ fide traveller, or that his presence was not in contravention of the principle of the Act, be liable to a penalty. Now, the operation of the clause under consideration was to extend to the whole of Sunday what the Act of 1874 did with regard to prohibited hours? At the present time any person found upon licensed premises during prohibited hours was liable to a penalty, unless he could show the Court a satisfactory reason for being there. The whole purport of this clause was to extend that to the hours between 2 and 5 which, under his Bill, would be also prohibited. There was nothing new in it, and there was every provision in the Bill that no person should be damnified for being present in a licensed house during prohibited hours, unless he was there for an illegal purpose. He did not think there would be any of the evils which his hon. Friend anticipated, and he hoped he had satisfied him that there was no necessity for alteration.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. GIBSON)
also stated that there was no new principle involved in the clause.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, it was true that there was no new principle introduced, but the House must recollect that Sunday was the only day on which the country people came in to visit the towns. Of course, magistrates might not inflict a fine, because if good reason were given by a person for being in a house they would not do so; but, still, they gave the police the power of arresting persons and carrying them before the magistrates. The Amendment proposed would not alter or injure the Bill in the least.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
expressed his regret that the hon. Member for Roscommon could not agree with the conditions sought by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy). No doubt, there were certain exemptions with respect to Sunday, but there were also liabilities to arrest, which were now proposed to be extended to those three hours which were now free—that was to say, at the time that the previous law passed there were certain hours during which there was no question whatever that the publican was entitled to invite his friends, and have them in 1317 his house. Admitting all that the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland said, and all that was contended for by the hon. Member for Roscommon, he certainly could not understand how he would be in the least degree damnified, or the principle of the Bill in the least degree imperilled, by accepting the Amendment. He himself had given an undertaking not to offer any opposition to the Bill if the promise given upon the last discussion were kept, and he had kept his word. But if the words of the hon. Member for Cork were not accepted, he should certainly be obliged to move the adjournment of the debate. He was very sorry to have to do so; but he did not see how anyone could possibly be injured by the bringing in of those words. There were numbers of respectable people keeping public-houses in Ireland who would be extremely troubled and exercised in their minds by the passing of that Bill; and he thought that everything that could be done ought to be done to make the working of it as little offensive and with as little novel stringency as possible. In conclusion, he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Sir Joseph M'Kenna.)
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion. He could not but think that another half-hour would settle the whole thing; and it was a pity that a wrangle should be commenced now that they had reached that stage.
§ MR. LAW
said, it would be perfectly impossible, if they wished to make sense of the Bill at all, to accept the Amendment. As the law at present stood, during the prohibited hours certain penalties were imposed upon people found in the public-house, unless they gave good reasons for their being there. The object of the clause as framed was simply to extend that provision to all the hours to which the now extended prohibition would apply. The measure would be absurd, if not actually unworkable, if the penalties were different at different hours of the day.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he had a slight doubt upon the matter. If he had not, he should have accepted what was said 1318 by the Attorney General for Ireland and withdrawn the Amendment; but he thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in looking at the existing Act, would find that Clause 27 merely said that any person who was found upon the premises should, unless he satisfied the Court that he was an inmate, a servant, or a lodger, or a bonâ fide traveller, or that otherwise his presence was not a contravention of the Act, be liable to a penalty. But where was it shown that if a visitor went to the house he was to be exempted from the consequence of his being found there? The object of his asking for those words to be omitted was that the clause, as it stood, imposed a penalty upon any person found on the premises. It was not upon any person receiving drink. But he could suppose cases that were quite easy of detection, and where the person concerned got no drink at all. That person would be liable to be summoned, or even arrested, for being there at all. Though he was not an inmate, a servant, or a lodger, he did not get any drink; and therefore the clause ran on all fours with the law as it stood. What he objected to was, that a person simply calling at a house and getting no drink was to be liable to be summoned.
said, that the hon. Member for Cork had forgotten to point out that, under that clause, a visitor must be at a house in contravention of the provisions of the Act, and that was exactly the point which would protect him. No doubt, anyone was liable to be summoned; but upon his proving to the magistrates that he was a visitor, the case would be instantly dismissed. He, nevertheless, sympathized with the object the hon. Member had in view in moving the Amendment.
thought the hon. Member for Cork could not imagine that any magistrate would inflict a penalty for being in a house without having been supplied with liquor.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he had another Amendment to propose, and that was the last he had. He thought that, under the circumstances, the time for the Bill coming into operation—namely, only 1319 two or three months after it was passed, was too short a period. He proposed, therefore, that the Bill should come into operation on the 10th of April following, instead of the 1st of October. He would, therefore, move, in Clause 4, to leave out "the first of October," and insert "tenth of April." He pointed out that this alteration he proposed would make no difference to the Revenue. It was only proposed with a view of giving people time to make arrangements for the change that would be thrust upon them. To give these people six months' more time would only be an act of equity and justice, as there was no doubt that, by the operation of that Act, a large number of traders in small towns would be very much injured by the Bill, and the least that could be done for them was to give them six months' grace.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 7, to leave out the words "first of October," in order to insert the words "tenth of April."—(Mr. Murphy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'first of October' stand part of the Bill."
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he was sorry he could not consent to the change proposed. The matter had been discussed very thoroughly in Committee on the Bill, and the argument in favour of the present date of the Bill must, he thought, appear obvious to everybody; and he believed his hon. Friend, when sitting on the Committee, did not object to the day which was fixed. The licences were taken out in October, which was the day upon which all the new licences must commence; and the reasons for that day being fixed were obvious, and he did not consider it necessary to go over the arguments again.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
hoped the hon. Member for Cork would not press the Amendment, though he quite sympathized with the object the hon. Member had in view. He thought, however, that, if the Bill was to become law, the sooner it did so the better, and they might as well have the experience that would be afforded between the 1st of October and the 10th of April, in order 1320 to observe the effect upon the country. If the effect upon the country was good, they would all be satisfied; and he thought, therefore, it would be better not to press the Amendment.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
would have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment, as he thought it not at all unreasonable to ask that those people, who would have to give up their businesses and turn their shops into some other trade, should have a little time. Six months was not an unreasonable length of time for them to dispose of their businesses in. His hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon was, however, quite wrong in saying that the 1st of October was the day on which the licences expired, for the licences were renewed on the 10th of October. He could not possibly see what objection there was to allow that amount of grace for the commencement of the operation of the Bill, for it would give people in the country the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the fact that such a Bill had passed, and would give them the opportunity of disposing of their businesses. The date at present fixed would cause great inconvenience, for there were some parts of Ireland where they knew little or nothing of the Bill; and, moreover, did not believe it was in existence. The hon. Member for Roscommon would be doing an injustice to the trade, and would be causing great inconvenience to the public, if he did not accept the Amendment.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill to be read the third time To-morrow.