HC Deb 16 May 1878 vol 240 cc95-122

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Extension of Acts prohibiting Sale of Intoxicating Liquors to the whole of Sunday).


on rising to move an Amendment, said, he hoped they had now arrived at a time when the Committee would consider what course ought to be taken in regard to the position in which the Bill now stood. They had had a very long time of it on Monday night and the whole of Tuesday morning. He was one of those who contributed to an arrangement which, he trusted, was now to be consummated; and he further hoped that they would now discuss with calm consideration a question which involved the interests of a large class in Ireland, and, he ventured to think, the interests of a large class of the people of England hereafter, if this Bill were carried into effect. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had proposed an Amendment to the Bill at the end of Clause 1. As the clause now stood, the hours were to be extended during which intoxicating liquors were not to be sold to the whole of Sunday. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's proposal to except five towns—namely, Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Waterford, and Limerick—had been accepted; and his (Mr. M'Carthy Downing's) Amendment was to insert certain words after the words which were ac- cepted by the promoters of the Bill. The words would be— Except all towns and villages with a population of 500, according to the last Government Census of the population. He should propose that, in these places, public-houses should not be open before 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and after 5 o'clock in the evening of Sunday. At present, the law in Ireland was this—that on Sundays, in all towns where the population exceeded 6,000, the time during which intoxicating liquors could be sold was from the hour of 2 o'clock until 9 o'clock. In all towns where the population did not exceed 6,000, the hours were from 2 to 7 o'clock. The Committee would perceive that towns of over 6,000 had the right to sell liquor for two hours later than towns of less than 6,000. When this Bill was introduced, the Petitions in favour of it were for closing public-houses all through Ireland on Sunday. Those who had charge of the Bill referred to public meetings held in Dublin, Belfast, Limerick, Waterford, and Cork, to prove that the people of those great towns were entirely in favour of closing on the Sunday. No doubt that made a great impression on the minds of hon. Members. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) had heard the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) speak in that House of the important meeting which took place in Phœnix Park, Dublin, where so many thousands of people were in favour of the closing of public-houses in that City. He also referred to an inquiry made in every house in Dublin, which ended in an immense majority signing in favour of Sunday closing. The same thing occurred in some other large towns; and yet the hon. and learned Gentleman voted for their exemption. What said the right hon. Baronet the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, when this measure was introduced in 1877—when some of the Irish Members said that, when there was a majority of Irish Members in favour of this question, then, as a matter of course, it ought to be accepted by the House, and English and Scotch Members ought to vote for it? He (the Chief Secretary) denied that if a majority of Irish Members were in favour of this measure, therefore it ought to be carried. If, he said, it was good for Ireland, it must be the same for England. This was the thin end of the wedge; for, as sure as they passed the Bill for Ireland, the House would hereafter be assailed with thousands of Petitions from England, praying that a similar measure might be passed for that part of the Kingdom. He could not conceive how those who called themselves Liberals could advocate this Coercion Bill—how those who sat on the front Opposition bench could have allowed their "Whips" to go out and call in their Friends to speak in support of a measure which the people of Ireland looked upon as one of extreme injustice. The promoters of the Bill had talked a good deal of the Petitions that had been presented in favour of it; but where did those Petitions come from? The greater part from England. Since the 19th of January, the Petitions presented from Ireland were as two to one against the Bill; and most of those from England were from the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists, and other Dissenting Bodies, thus showing that the movement was a Sabbatarian one, and not one coming from the people. If the Bill should be passed for Ireland, English Members who voted for it would certainly be told by their constituents at the next General Election—"You voted in favour of Sunday closing for Ireland; we, therefore, ask you, will you do the same for England? If you will not, we shall vote against you." If they were prepared to pass a similar measure for England, they would have the people up in arms against them. That certainly would be the result, if they attempted to deprive the people of England of their pint of beer on the Sunday, or of the means of enjoying themselves on that day. Many of the people in Ireland had to go two or three miles into a country town in order to attend a place of worship; and when they did so in cold and wet weather, were the promoters of this Bill to say to them—"You cannot go into a public-house and get refreshment?" There were other persons who went into a country town for the purpose, perhaps, of meeting their friends, or of settling their accounts. If this Bill became law, the public-house door, the only place where they could meet for such a purpose, would be shut against them. It had been asserted that a measure of this kind had done good in Scotland; but he asked the Committee to consider what were the Returns upon that point. They showed that, since the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed, there had been more arrests than before of persons charged with being drunk or incapable; for, between 1871 and 1876, the number of those offences had increased by 50 per cent in Scotland, while in England they had increased by 33 per cent, and in Ireland there was little, if any, increase. It had been said that an increase had occurred in the year 1874; but why? Because an Act was then passed requiring that the name of every person arrested for drunkenness should be entered in the petty sessions book; whereas, previously to that year, the law insisted upon no such record—if a man, brought up before a magistrate for drunkenness, was discharged, no more was heard about the matter, and this enactment was made on an Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Louth. So that, in Ireland, there was a decrease of drunkenness, as every magistrate knew perfectly well whose duty it was to preside at petty sessions. But how was the opinion of the people to be ascertained? The House knew that there were paid agents employed—there were those who got up Petitions in favour of Sunday closing, and those who got up Petitions against that measure. But let hon. Members make inquiry as to the meetings which had been held where neither prejudice nor interest existed, and let them ascertain what had actually been done at those meetings. One such meeting had been held in his own county—Cork—presided over by the Rev. Canon Griffin, a dignitary of the Church. He held in his hand an account of what took place. In opening the proceedings, the rev. gentleman stated that when he consented to preside he did so on the distinct condition that the meeting was to be an open one, and that all parties might give their opinions on this vexed question of closing on Sunday. He went on to say that, if he were asked his own opinion with regard to the villages surrounding his own parish, he could emphatically affirm that there was no necessity for Sunday closing. The amount of intemperance on the Sunday, during the five years he had been in that parish, would not justify the passing of an Act by which the people would be deprived of their liberty. The very last visit he had the honour of receiving from Dr. Moriarty was on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which fell on a Sunday, when Dr. Moriarty was gratified at the orderly and sober demeanour of the people as they left for their homes. On that, as on former occasions, his Lordship expressed himself to the effect that curtailing the number of hours during which public-houses might be open on Sunday for the sale of liquors would meet all necessary requirements. That was the opinion of a Bishop, who certainly was known for great wisdom and prudence, and his testimony amounted to this—that it was not necessary to close on the whole of the day, but all that was required was to limit the hours. The Amendment which he had to submit to the consideration of the Committee was, in effect, that on the Sunday, instead of having public-houses open until 7 o'clock in the evening, in towns other than the five excepted by the proposal of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, they should be open from 2 to 5 o'clock. Everyone acquainted with Ireland knew that, before the hours were curtailed, they extended from 2 to 9 o'clock. In the small country-places, when riots or assaults occurred, it was always after nightfall, and it was found desirable to alter the hours—namely, from 2 to 7—since when a great improvement was the result. By his Amendment he asked the Committee to curtail them still further, instead of closing public-houses altogether. He believed if the hours were fixed at from 2 to 5, that would give the people the opportunity of enjoying themselves. As a magistrate, Chairman of the Town Commissioners, and member of a Board of Guardians, he had not, in the course of his experience, known drunkenness to prevail on the Sunday. Why, then, he asked, did the promoters of this Bill wish to inflict upon the people of Ireland a deprivation of the right which they at present possessed? They desired to have their glass of beer, or their glass of whiskey-and-water; and was the House going to deprive them of this enjoyment without even consulting them? That was, in effect, what the promoters of the Bill wished the House to do; because the number of real, bonâ fide signatures attached to Petitions from Ireland against the Bill exceeded by two to one those in favour of it. He had examined the Petitions from. Cork, and had been unable to recognize any names of note. There were many, no doubt, that were respectable; there were several old unmarried ladies who had signed these Petitions; and there were names which belonged to various sections of the Church; but the great body of the people had not signed them; and he defied any hon. Member from Ireland, who had advocated this measure, to show that Petitions had been largely signed in favour of the Bill by the people of Ireland. With regard to the magistrates and the Clergy, it had been asserted that they were all in favour of it; but the fact was, that only one-fifth of them had signed Petitions in support of the measure. He made that statement without fear of contradiction. If there were a General Election to-morrow, and this question were brought before the electors in every county and every borough in Ireland, hon. Members would not receive a favourable reception from their constituents if they voted for the passing of this Bill; and that would make them regret their having taken a course which was opposed to the wishes of the Irish people. But he would appeal more particularly to English Members. As for the Scotch Members, he knew very well that no argument would have any effect upon them. He appealed to English Gentlemen, representing English constituencies, because they knew what was due to the people; he appealed to them to consider fairly and justly the question before the Committee, and not to be led away by the Sabbatarian feeling which had induced many hon. Members to vote, if not against their consciences, against their better feelings. If English Members allowed this coercive measure to pass, and to appear on the Statute Book, they would find it very hard, at the next General Election, to resist a similar Bill for closing public-houses on Sundays in England. If they were prepared to meet that demand, of course they might vote for this measure; but if they were not prepared, because they believed that such a Bill would not be accepted by the English people, then he asked them not to force it upon the people of Ireland. There could be no doubt that it was attempted to force the Bill upon them. No public meeting had been held, at which the question had been freely discussed, where there was not a Petition signed, or where there were not resolutions adopted, against this Coercion Act. Let the Committee fairly consider the position of the question. This Bill was originally brought in for the purpose of closing public-houses all over Ireland. Was that actually the Bill before the Committee at the present moment? Had they not exempted from its operation the five chief towns of Ireland? Was that consistent? Had they done that which the people had required of them, and which the Petitions called upon them to do? The hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had boasted in the House that his Eminence, Cardinal Cullen, was an advocate of this Bill. Was he an advocate of it, as it stood now? He was not. This was proved by a statement, signed by the Archbishop of Dublin, by Cardinal Cullen, as well as by the Mayors of Dublin, Belfast, and of Cork, Sir Dominic Corrigan, the Mayor of Limerick, the Bishop of Limerick, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, and the ex-High Sheriff of Waterford. It was to this effect— In view of the probability of the above 'Order of the Day' being reached on Wednesday next, the undersigned beg respectfully to request the attention of Honourable Members to the following 'reasons' why any proposal to exempt Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, or Waterford from the operation of the Bill should be resisted and opposed:— (1.) Because the question of 'exemption' was expressly referred by the House of Commons to a Select Committee. This Committee, largely chosen by the Government, sat for three months, heard evidence, and decided that the Bill should apply to the 'whole' of Ireland, and that there ought to be no place excluded from its operation. (2.) Because the evil against which the proposed legislation is directed exists in its most intensified form in the large cities and towns, and to exempt these from the Bill is to deny the remedy to the very places that most require it. (3.) Because to leave the public-houses open in these large cities and towns will have a direct tendency to increase the evils already existing there, by tempting people of intemperate habits into these places from adjacent districts where the Bill is in force, thus adding rural to existing city drunkenness. (4.) Because the suggestion of riots taking place on the enforcement of Sunday closing in these cities and towns, hinted at by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, broke down before the Select Committee—not a single witness, official or otherwise, failing to ridicule any such idea. (5.) Because the public opinion of these cities and towns has been often and frequently ex- pressed in favour of total and universal Sunday closing, by public meetings, house-to-house canvasses, petitions, and other means. This was not the Bill in favour of which Petitions had been presented. It was not really a Bill for the closing of public-houses in Ireland, because five large towns were to be exempted from its operation; although, in those towns, the greatest amount of excess, drunkenness, and vice prevailed. Were the Government justified in making that exception? What he asked the Government to do was to be fair and just, and at least limit the hours in the way that he proposed by his Amendment. If they accepted his Amendment, and gave the people the opportunity of meeting their friends, nothing would be done in opposition to the proposal of the Government, which exempted the five large towns. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had fairly and manfully stated that he had no respect for this Bill, or, at any rate, that he did not like it. That was, no doubt, the opinion of most of the Members who sat behind the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) believed there were very few who really liked this Bill. They were influenced by feelings which he very much respected. He could understand those hon. Gentlemen, like his hon. Friends the Members for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) and for Kilkenny, (Mr. B. Whitworth), who were teetotallers, and who never drank intoxicating liquors of any kind, trying to convert Members of the House to their way of thinking on this question; but he could not understand the advocacy, in favour of this Bill, of those hon. Members who went to their clubs on the Sunday and took refreshment there, or who had the best of wines and spirits in their own homes. He could not understand how such hon. Gentlemen could go into the Lobby with the promoters of this measure, and so deprive the poor working man, after abstaining for a whole working week, of the pleasure of smoking a pipe and taking his glass of grog with his friends whom he met on the Sunday. He hoped that the Government would take a right view upon this question. They had insisted upon the exemption of five towns. If he were in the position of those who supported the Bill he should refuse to accept that Amendment, and say to the Government—"No, this was a measure for closing public-houses throughout Ireland. It was upon that principle that the Bill went before the people; it was upon that principle that they signed Petitions which influenced the House in passing the second reading. Therefore, as advocates of a measure which they thought essential for the moral welfare and for the sobriety of the people, they must reject what the Government offered. They would not exempt the five towns that the Government named, and they would appeal to the country on the question." The city, where his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth had spent so much of his life, was the very place where the greatest amount of drunkenness prevailed. There was more crime in Dublin than in the other large towns, according to population. Dublin and Cork were to be exempted. What would be the consequence? Queenstown, with a normal population of 11,000, had besides a floating population of 1,500 or 2,000. Every Sunday in the year a number of packets arrived there from Liverpool and other places. They called at Queenstown and landed their passengers. There were vessels arriving there from all parts of the world. If all the strangers, and all the inhabitants, were to be deprived of drink on a Sunday, what would be the consequence? They would go on to Cork, and get drunk there. A rivalry would spring up between the men of Cork and the people of Queenstown; they would sit drinking together for a considerable time, and, in the end, there would be riots; so that, when the time came for the party from Queenstown to go back, a great number of them would fall into the hands of the police because they had got drunk. The same thing would probably occur with regard to Bardon, a town with 6,000 inhabitants. The people there requiring drink would go to Cork, and the two great parties—the one boasting of the Orange flag and the other of the Green—would come in contact with each other, and a riot would probably ensue. The number of she-beens would rather increase than diminish. The people would purchase whiskey on the Saturday to be drunk on the Sunday; and wives and children would be seen taking their portion of the whiskey provided. There would be contamination in every family. In making these remarks he might state that he had no interest whatever either in a brewery or in a distillery. He would rather resign the position he held as a Member of Parliament than express his approval of what he believed to be a measure that was opposed to the convictions of the people. He believed that the Bill, in its present shape, would be detrimental to the best interests of Ireland; and that, if passed in that form, it would be resented by the people. If the Government accepted the Amendment he now proposed, they would not violate any principle in regard to the Bill, and would, at the same time, he thought, satisfy all classes. He advised the Government to accept his proposal as an experiment. If the trial proved successful, his Amendment might continue to be the law; if not successful, the Government would, at any rate, be able to say that they had made a fair attempt to remedy the evil. He was sorry to see that a great many people, with whom he had been in the habit of acting, should have taken up this measure as a Party matter; but he hoped that hon. Members on both sides of the House would see that the adoption of his Amendment, which he would now move, was only fair and reasonable, and that it was only extending to all towns and villages of Ireland what had been concerned to the five towns having the largest population.

Amendment proposed, After the word "Sunday," at the end of the last Amendment, to add the words "and except in all towns and villages, with a population of five 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 in the evening."—(Mr. M'Carthy Downing.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


had listened with very great pleasure to the speech that had just been delivered, inasmuch as it was in striking contrast to the speeches which he had heard on the last occasion, when the Committee was occupied in considering the Bill. It must be clear to everyone that the Amendment his hon. Friend proposed was one that touched the whole principle of the Bill. Most of his speech was directed to show that the Bill was not approved of by the Irish people; that it was a Bill that in every way would be objectionable, and one that ought not to be considered, or, at all events, that it was one that would not give satisfaction to the country. In carrying out the endeavour to subvert the whole principle of the Bill, his hon. Friend had fallen back on an argument with which they were all familiar. He had told them, as usual, that this was a purely Sabbatarian question—that the Bill had no strength outside that view. He had pictured to them the deplorable condition in which certain of his countrymen would find themselves when they came into town on Sundays, saturated with wet, and unable to obtain refreshments, and the remedy suggested by the hon. Member was that they should be allowed to saturate themselves internally. Then, it was said that the Bill was not approved by the Irish people, and how was that shown? First of all, reference was made to the enormous number of Petitions which, it was said, had been presented to Parliament against the Bill. For his part, he was surprised that the opponents of the Bill should rely so much upon this question of Petitions. They had heard a great deal about the Petitions that had been presented with regard to that Bill, and they knew that an enormous number of signatures had been paraded before them as having been attached to those Petitions. But the great majority of those signatures were without addresses, and the signatures might have been written out in a few public-houses, for no one could tell whether they were genuine or otherwise. They also knew that a certain number of those Petitions had been before the Petitions Committee, who had reported against them, and that some of them had, in consequence, been discharged. He attached very little real value to the Petitions on either side, and in arguing the question before the House, he had never based his case on the Petitions presented in favour of the Bill. The next question raised by the hon. Member was with regard to the great number of meetings which he said had been held against the Bill. It seemed to him (the O'Conor Don) that that statement was rather a flourish than anything else; for the hon. Member did not go on to tell the names of the different places in which those meetings were held, but he confined his remarks to one meeting held at a place called Mill Street in his own county. What were the facts in connection with that meeting? No doubt the hon. Member for Cork would correct him if he stated wrongly, that since that meeting had been held an action had been brought in the City of Cork against a distiller of the City by two men, who attended at that meeting, in respect of their wages in going there. The action was tried in Cork, and those men recovered their wages against the distiller. That was the sort of way in which those meetings against the Bill had been got up, and those were the persons by whom they were attended; and, therefore, the Committee would pay very little attention to these proceedings. It had been further said that no meetings had been held in the South of Ireland in favour of the Bill; and his hon. Friend went further, and said that whenever there had been a free discussion at any meeting resolutions had been carried against it. During the course of the debate they had heard many astonishing statements; but he had heard none that more astonished him than that no meetings had been held in the Province of Munster in favour of the Bill. The truth was, that not alone had meetings been held there in favour of the Bill, but even at a meeting of the opponents of the Bill, convened under the auspices of the Mayor of the City of Limerick, himself a stern opponent of the Bill, resolutions were carried in favour of it. In spite of that fact, they were told that not a single meeting had been held in the Province of Munster in favour of the Bill, and that not a single free discussion had taken place at which resolutions had not been carried against it. He begged most emphatically to deny that statement. Meetings had been held in Limerick, Waterford, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir, Maryborough, Wicklow, and in other places—in all, over 78 meetings had been held in Ireland in favour of the Bill. He might mention that in those he had enumerated he had not included one in the North of Ireland, because the views of the Province of Ulster were well known although they were objected to, as if they had no voice in the matter. He could show four meetings for every one given by the other side; and if the fate of the Bill depended on this test it could not be doubtful. Reference had also been made to the next General Election, and he was not going to imitate his hon. Friend in what he had said; but he would venture to express his opinion that it was an unconstitutional course to threaten Members of that House for the consequences of their acts when they came before their constituents. He apprehended that his hon. Friend did not really mean to use that as his argument; although, were it done, he could point out to him that if this question was not made a hustings question on the last General Election, there had been many bye-elections since at which it had. That question had now become understood, and a candidate's opinion was now asked at the hustings about it. In no case of the bye-elections had the opponents of the Sunday Closing Bill carried the day. Several elections had taken place in the Province of Munster, and one, an election for the County of Waterford. At that election, the question of Sunday closing was raised. He perfectly admitted that Sunday closing views would not carry a man through an election if he were otherwise objectionable; but the Gentleman he had referred to was obliged to pledge himself to Sunday closing, and had always supported the Bill since he had been elected. In no case, so far as he knew, had any man been returned in Ireland, since the question had come into prominence, who had not been a supporter of the Bill. Upon that point he would say no more, but would proceed to make some observations with respect to what had been said regarding the omission of the five towns from the operation of the Bill. The Amendment embodying that had been accepted by the promoters of the Bill; but, of course, the Committee were perfectly aware that the proposal to exempt the five towns did not come from the proposers of the measure. They introduced the Bill as one for the whole of Ireland; and it must also be quite clear, if the matter were considered for a moment, that in consenting to exempt certain portions of the country from the operation of the Bill, they consented to nothing that was inconsistent with the principles of their measure. His hon. Friend said—"Oh! but it was true the Bill was not originally proposed as one to extend to the whole of the United Kingdom." From the commencement the Bill was partial in its operation, and intended only for Ireland, and there was nothing inconsistent in having it still further restricted, and accepting the proposal of the Government for exempting certain portions of Ireland from it. It should be remembered that the Bill was promoted by private Members, and when a hostile minority were opposed to it, it would be utterly impossible for the promoters to pass the Bill without making some concessions to the minority and to the Government. They had been told, in previous Sessions, that public opinion in those large towns was divided on the necessity of the measure; they had been further assured that if the Bill were extended to those places dangerous consequences would result, and that the minority against the Bill in those large towns was considerable, and that that minority would not consent quickly or quietly to the measure. Furthermore, it had been urged that the habits of the people of those large towns were very different from those of persons in other parts of the country, and that in those places there were respectable traders and small householders who were in the habit of getting in beer at dinner times, as was usual in England. Those five towns, it was said, very much resembled the towns in England to which hon. Gentlemen opposite thought this Bill should not be applied. Therefore, it was said that this Bill ought not to be applied to the large towns; but with regard to the rest of the country, a fair case for its passing had been made out. It was proposed to the promoters of the Bill that they should accept that condition. They had accepted it reluctantly; but, nevertheless, they did accept it. Some remarks had been made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), in which he said that he, representing a county constituency, had always supported the Bill, because his constituency wished it; but he certainly would not give it any further support if he found that the promoters were going to sacrifice the whole of the country districts of Ireland for the sake of those five towns. He urged what would be the feelings of their constituents, if they saw that their Repre- sentatives had sacrificed the good of the greater part of Ireland for the sake of those five towns. For these and other considerations, they had consented to the exemption; but that was not giving everything up. What they said with regard to it was, they had accepted it in order to give what they believed would be a blessing to the whole of the rest of Ireland; they had accepted it in the belief that the Bill would be found to be such a success in the rest of the country, that it would eventually be applied to large towns; and if it should turn out that the experiment were unsuccessful, then the case for extending the operation of the measure to the large towns would be gone; but if they were right, and the measure proved beneficial, it would be impossible to prevent its being extended.


observed, that the exemption of the five large towns of Ireland from the operation of the Bill was an illogical proceeding. Whether Sunday closing in Ireland was right or not, it was clear that the principle of the Bill was sacrificed if people were encouraged to leave their homes on Sundays and go into the large towns for the purpose of getting drunk. In his humble opinion, and he had had some experience in these matters, the safest course would be to shorten the hours during which public-houses were opened all over the country. They could not advocate entire Sunday closing without taking a Sabbatarian view of the matter. He did not say that those who took that view were not right, and that there should not be any liquor sold on Sunday. But he could not for one moment reconcile his mind to the inconsistency of exempting the five large towns from the operation of the Bill, and yet supporting the measure for the rest of the country. The Irish Members appeared to be very much divided in opinion on this subject. Some had said that Members from Ireland who voted for the measure would be marked men at another General Election, and would not be likely to be returned to that House. At the same time, it was said that if the Bill even passed for Ireland, it would also be passed subsequently for England. Those statements were difficult to reconcile; although it was known that in Ireland different views were generally taken from those held in England. His belief was that if restrictions were made severe and unyielding people rebelled, and the object failed. They could not suddenly get people to fall into the habit of severe restrictions. It would be much better to shorten the hours of closing in Ireland. He thought the prevalence of drunkenness was much exaggerated. Because two or three men were seen drunk in the streets, it was forgotten that there were probably 1,100 who were perfectly sober, it was, moreover, unjust to deprive the great majority of men of proper enjoyment of their refreshment, because an insignificant minority abused the privilege. They should take a rational view, and legislate for men as men, and not as if they were children. Did they suppose for one moment that men would be restrained from drink by any legislation they might pass? A great deal had been said about public-houses. Now, what he saw of the evil in England, it appeared to him that severe restrictions on those places encouraged men to form clubs, over which the police had no control, and where no one had any right of interference. Only the previous day a Bill had been before the House with regard to the franchise. The House was asked then to give to the same people, who it was now said had no power of self-control and must be governed like children, the right to say whether the country should be at peace or war. They did not act on the same principle for two days running. In Ireland, he thought the great evils they suffered from were agitators and priests; and until they got rid of them the people would be below par, and Ireland could never enjoy the same prosperity as the rest of the United Kingdom.


said, that on tins question frequent appeals had been made to English Members, and, as an English Member, he did not wish to give a silent vote. It seemed to him that the Bill raised a most important question connected with the future government of the United Kingdom, and it seemed to him that its principle, once settled, would have very serious and mischievous consequences. He would not say a word on the general principle of Sunday closing. The hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson)—whose absence from indisposition the Committee must regret—and those who thought with him, were perfectly logical and consistent in the action which they were taking, because they were in favour of Sunday closing alike for Scotland, for England, and for Ireland. To them he had nothing to say; but he did desire to address one or two remarks to those hon. Members, and especially to responsible Ministers, who were going to vote for the principle of this Bill, and yet who would give a similar Bill for England an unhesitating opposition. He would ask them to consider how they could justify their vote. They might say that they would oppose Sunday closing for England, because of their opinion that the majority of the English people were opposed to it; and that they supported Sunday closing for Ireland, because they believed the majority of the Irish people were in favour of it; but so long as he had a seat in the Imperial Parliament—a Parliament that was the Parliament alike of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland—he would not, whether with reference to Sunday closing, to Home Rule, or to Education, vote to do that for the Irish people which he thought would be bad for the English or the Scotch people. The majority of the people of Ireland were, by their Representatives, in favour of Home Rule; and it should also be borne in mind by hon. Members opposite, and by a Conservative and Protestant Government, that a still greater majority of the people of Ireland were in favour of denominational education. If Parliament were to do for Ireland what they would not do for England, because the majority of the Irish people demanded that it should be done, on what possible ground could the demand for Home Rule or for denominational education be resisted? What answer could be made to Irish Representatives, when next they made a proposal for the settlement of a purely Irish question by the granting of a Charter to an Irish Catholic University? Such a proposal would involve no expenditure of public money, and could not be opposed on that ground. It need not involve the loss of a single shilling to the Imperial Exchequer; but such a proposal would be strenuously resisted by scores of Scotch Members and English Conservative Members. His hon. Friend the Mem- for Londonderry (Mr. Charles Lewis) would oppose it, and not a man on the front Ministerial bench could do otherwise than oppose it. The Members to whom he addressed himself ought, therefore, seriously to consider their position. He could not help feeling, with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Greene), that there was some inconsistency between the attitude of those who one day came down to the House and pleaded for an extension of the franchise, on the ground that those whom they wished to enfranchise were as intelligent, as independent, and as good citizens as any in the rest of the Kingdom, and who, on the next day, exhibited the same people to the House as little better than children, who were in want of the patronizing and coddling care of the State, because they were bent on doing what they confessed they ought not to do. He had only one appeal to make to the hon. Member for Cork County (Mr. M'Carthy Downing). He (Mr. Fawcett) was going to support the hon. Member's Amendment, but on one condition, and it might be for the practical convenience of the House that the condition should be stated. He was going to vote for the Amendment, if he was not compelled to stay till an unreasonable hour in order to do so. The principle of the Bill had been again and again discussed. He had not the least sympathy with some of the tactics by which the Bill had been postponed. He was at the House at noon to attend a Committee, and at noon again he would have to be there; and though he was as anxious as the hon. Member for Cork County could be to record his vote against the principle, which many other English Members were going to support, he would tell him frankly that he could not do so if there were any foundation for the rumour he had heard that the Amendment was going to be discussed for three or four hours. The hon. Member would obtain a much better division, and would consult the convenience of the House, if he would allow a decision to be taken at a reasonable hour.


I so cordially agree with the closing words of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) that I am reluctant to trespass on the time and attention of the House, even for a moment; but there were some of his obser- vations to which I think it necessary to make a reply. He has challenged the Government to say with what consistency they can support a measure of this kind, which is intended to apply to Ireland only, when, as he says, they would oppose it if it were proposed for England, or, I think he said, for Scotland; but I must remind the hon. Gentleman that this is one of those measures which cannot be regarded from a purely Imperial point of view, and that legislation precisely of this character, or nearly of the same character, has already been for some years in force in Scotland: and I do not think it at all necessary, for justifying the course which Government take in this matter, that we should enter into such large questions as how we are to deal with the demand for Home Rule or for denominational education, with which the Bill before us has no real analogy. The hon. Member, of course, knows that, while we are anxious to assimilate legislation for all parts of the Kingdom, there are a great many subjects upon which there has been, and always must be, different legislation for different parts of the country—that legislation having reference to differing circumstances and to local considerations. This is exactly one of those measures in reference to which we have to take into account the feelings and the wishes and the circumstances of the portion of the country for which we are legislating. We have to consider that the measure is not one which can be called bad in itself. The great objection that, no doubt, would be taken to the application of such legislation to England is, that it is not suited to the circumstances of the country, and would do more harm than it could possibly do good. In itself, the limitation of the amount of drinking cannot but be considered a good and desirable object, provided it is not likely to meet with such opposition as might do more harm than the good effected; and it was not until it was pretty clear that this measure was agreeable to the feelings of those to whom it is to be applied, that the Government cared to offer it a conditional and moderate support. It is the qualification of our support that illustrates the spirit in which it is given. We say that, believing that the measure is one which in itself is well-intended, and suited to a considerable portion of Ire- land, we do not think it one that can safely or properly be applied to certain large towns, and upon that ground we make our proposals in favour of legislation of a partial and local character. I think there is sufficient ground for taking that course, and that it is by no means necessary to follow the hon. Member for Hackney into the larger question which he has raised.


deprecated such allusions as those made by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Greene) to the Irish priesthood. He (Mr. Stacpoole) was a Protestant; but he must certainly say that all the priests in Ireland were in favour of law and order. He had also to say, however, that he believed the majority of the people of Ireland were against the Bill. Many of them did not properly understand it, and of those who had come to appreciate its significance, many now refused to sign Petitions in its favour. He hoped the House would postpone legislating on this subject until after a General Election.


reminded the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) that on the questions of Home Rule and denominational education Ireland was divided into two hostile political camps, with no possibility of their agreeing; while in reference to the question involved in this Bill the case was far otherwise. Of about 70 Members representing Ireland on the Opposition side of the House, only 12 or 15 voted against the Bill. The rest who voted did so in its favour. Of about 35 Members from Ireland on the Ministerial side, not more than three or four voted against it. In Ireland large numbers of the leaders of Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Nonconformist Bodies petitioned Parliament in its favour. To say only that a majority of the people of Ireland were in favour of the Bill was a weak and quite inadequate statement of the real fact of the case, which was that the vast majority of all parties, classes, and political or religious creeds in Ireland were in favour of the Bill. ["No, no!"] He was told by the exclamations of some hon. Members "No, no!" but he was at a loss to understand how any other or better evidence of the fact could be brought before the House than the several measures taken to exhibit the real feeling of the people. As to the Government Amendment proposing to exempt five large towns from the operation of the Bill, would those who support the Bill not have been foolish in the last degree if they had opposed a proposition which would secure the Government help in trying the experiment of Sunday closing in regard to the rest of Ireland, which they believed would result in convincing the Legislature that the grounds on which the Bill was promoted were right grounds? He thought, if the Bill was good for the villages, it was good for the cities, and he had not voted for the Government Amendment. But were they to be told that, because the force of the Government was sufficient to carry a clause exempting certain portions of Ireland from the operation of the Bill, that they should allow the Bill to be lost? In consequence of what was frequently being said as to the evidence given before the Select Committee on this Bill, he challenged hon. Members to controvert his assertion that the evidence of those witnesses who spoke to matters of fact in relation to the working of the Scotch system since the passing of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was all in favour of that system; while among those witnesses who came from Ireland to give, as a matter of opinion, their idea as to the applicability of the system to Ireland, there was a vast difference of opinion. With the Scotch example and experience, and the admission by Parliament, in the case of Scotland, of the principle that upon this subject the Legislature was entitled to deal with the different parts of the country in different ways, he thought the legislation now requested by all classes and parties in Ireland ought to be granted. The exemption of the five towns should not be an obstacle to the passing of the Bill; because it would give supporters and opponents alike the opportunity of comparing the state of things in those towns and out of them, and testing whether the principle of Sunday closing could successfully be applied to the whole of Ireland.


said, for some years he was in favour of this Bill, believing that its promoters expressed the public opinion of Ireland; but he confessed that the arguments used in a former debate by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), and the statistics then produced—and never since combated—had perfectly convinced him that the general impression as to the currency of opinions in Ireland in favour of this Bill was without foundation in fact. Drinking of itself could not be more objectionable or criminal on Sunday than on any other day; but Sunday being a day of rest, if the leisure then enjoyed were made bad use of for the purpose of excessive drinking, it was right that the facilities for drinking on that day should be largely curtailed. But what was proved by statistics given to the Select Committee, and never challenged? That the offences arising from drinking on Sunday, compared with those arising from drinking on other days, were as two to three. He admitted that, as far as external appearances were concerned, the Forbes-Mackenzie Act had not been a failure in Scotland. But he denied that it had been a success in the way of effecting a reform of the drinking habits of the Scotch people. The alcoholic liquors now consumed in Scotland greatly exceeded in quantity per head of the population their consumption before the passing of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. He respected the honourable consistency with which Sabbatarians and teetotallers supported the Bill; but he wished to take that view of this subject which presented itself to the ordinary man of the world, and to investigate the subject uninfluenced by their principles. The case which it was attempted to make out was, that the Irish people had abused their facilities for drinking on Sunday, and that it was absolutely necessary that these facilities should be curtailed. He could not see how that contention could be maintained side by side with a proposal to except populations numbering five-eighths of the whole borough population of Ireland. The Bill, as it now stood, raised the question of the different treatment of one town and another. Was it not monstrous to propose that those who might go from Cork on a Sunday to enjoy themselves in the country should not be able to procure their accustomed recreation and refreshment, while those who went from more wholesome localities into the slums of Cork could get what they chose to drink? He opposed the Bill, and would vote for the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), not only because he thought the measure ill-considered, but because he considered that, in its new form, it would be unfair and partial in its operation.


hoped the Bill would be made a temporary measure, since if there were ground for believing that it would be extremely unsuitable for the large towns excepted from its full operation, it might also be found extremely unsuitable for the whole country. He would therefore like to know from the promoters of the Bill, whether they would be prepared to accept his Amendment limiting the operation of the measure to a period of two or three years, in order to test its usefulness?


expressed his intention of being brief in the remarks he had to make, although the opponents of the Bill had not supplied a motive for that brevity by their example. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Greene) appeared to have been so impressed with an argument which he had adduced on a previous occasion that he had repeated it that evening, and he had so repeated it as to win the approval of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett). But he would ask—what was that argument worth? The hon. Gentleman who represented Bury St. Edmunds said—"You are asking the franchise for people whom you will not intrust with the liberty of taking a glass of beer on Sunday." The answer to that statement was that, if the majority of the Irish Members were in favour of a Sunday Closing Bill, they were also in favour of a Permissive Bill. Had a Bill of the latter description been carried, the Irish people would have settled this question without asking the House of Commons to decide the matter by a Sunday closing measure; for he had no doubt that, in the large majority of districts, the preponderance of opinion on the part of the ratepayers would have been found on the side of shutting up the public-houses. The hon. Member to whom he referred had also said—"Get rid of your priests, and you will solve the difficulty." He must tell the hon. Member that the only body of men in Ireland who had been able to exert sufficient power to close the public-houses without the aid of the law were the very priests whom he called upon them to get rid of, in order that they might promote the cause of temper- ance. The hon. Member had no right to introduce an element, not of religious feeling, but of religious bigotry, into a question of this kind. If that were an improper thing to do in relation to most questions, it was a most improper thing to do in connection with a body of men who had, as he had already indicated, exerted their influence successfully in favour of the cause of temperance. The hon. Member for Hackney had spoken of the inconvenience which would result from the Government supporting this measure. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) looked at it from a moral standpoint; and he believed that the mistake which the hon. Member made was in thinking that whatever happened to be the wish of the Irish people must therefore be opposed to the integrity of the Empire—the mistake of elevating what were purely local Irish questions into the dignity of Imperial questions, and of saying, in effect, from an unfounded fear of the result of conceding the wishes of the Irish people—"We cannot do this; if the Irish wish it, it must be opposed to our own desires and interests," was one into which many hon. Members seemed not unfrequently inclined to fall. He regretted that the hon. Member was not now in his place. Had he been present, he would have taken the opportunity of assuring him that if he were interested in the integrity of Empire, the best way to preserve that integrity was to concede every local wish in regard to local affairs in Scotland, local affairs in England, and local affairs in Ireland. If, on the other hand, the hon. Member desired to stimulate the disaffection of the Irish people towards Imperialism, he should endeavour to thwart their local and natural wishes, and should use his influence in the House in opposing the views which had been endorsed by a majority of their Representatives. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the County of Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) had threatened the supporters of the Bill with the prospect of not being returned to the next Parliament if they continued to advocate the measure. The answer which he had to make to that threat was that the principle of the Bill appealed to the moral sense of the Irish people, and that in such a case he had no fear of the result. He had seen great politicians and strong parties frightened by appeals of a different character—appeals coming from great and powerful organizations. Those for whom he spoke did not regard such appeals in Ireland. They appealed to the moral feeling which had sustained this agitation through many vicissitudes; and they would return from Ireland to advocate the same principles when, perhaps, the hon. Member for Cork County was left weeping alone by his own fireside.


thought that the great end to be attained was a limitation of the hours during which public-houses were open in Ireland on Sunday, and he believed that the Amendment of the Government would effect that result. He desired to point out how very futile was the argument which was derived from the case of Scotland and the frequent allusions that had been made to the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. It had been said that since the passing of that measure the consumption of ardent spirits in the country where it was in operation had not increased; but the statement was entirely erroneous. The fact was, that of late years whiskey-drinking had increased to a great extent in Scotland. Not only so, but the only country in which it had increased was the very country that had been spoken of as being the land of Sunday piety and Sunday closing. The Returns of the Revenue Department clearly proved this to be the fact. They showed, that during 1877, whiskey-drinking in Scotland had materially increased; whereas in England and Ireland it had materially decreased.


said, he had listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork County, and, so far from looking upon that speech as an argument against the Bill, he regarded it as a strong argument in favour of the measure. In the course of his remarks, the hon. Member had produced a certain document by way of illustration; but what was the nature of that document? It was a document signed by some of the most eminent men in the country, not in opposition to the Bill, but expressive of their regret that it had been abandoned so far as the large towns were concerned.

Question put.

The Committee divided:— Ayes 92; Noes 134: Majority 42.

Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Marten, A. G.
Allen, Major Master, T. W. C.
Allsopp, C. Mellor, T. W.
Amory, Sir J. H. Merewether, C. G.
Arbuthnot, Lt.-Col. G. Miles, P. J. W.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Mills, Sir C. H.
Bass, H. A. Moore, S.
Bates, E. Morgan, hon. F.
Beresford, Lord C. Muncaster, Lord
Bowen, J. B. Mure, Colonel
Brooks, M. Naghten, Lt.-Col.
Brooks, W. C. Newdegate, C. N.
Bulwer, J. R. Noel, rt. hon. G. J.
Cameron, D. O'Brien, Sir P.
Cartwright, F. O' Gorman, P.
Clowes, S. W. Onslow, D.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. O' Sullivan, W. H.
Dyott, Colonel R. Paget, R. H.
Eaton, H. W. Pell, A.
Egerton, hon. W. Pemberton, E. L.
Elliot, G. W. Percy, Earl
Emlyn, Viscount Perkins, Sir F.
Errington, G. Power, R.
Estcourt, G. S. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Fawcett, H. Russell, Sir C.
Forester, C. T. W. Scott, M. D.
French, hon. C. Shaw, W.
Gardner, J. T. Agg- Sidebottom, T. H.
Giffard, Sir H. S. Smyth, P. J.
Gordon, W. Spinks, Mr. Serjeant
Gore-Langton, W. S. Stacpoole, W.
Greene, E. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Hall, A. W. Starkey, L. R.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Storer, G.
Hartington, Marq. of Swanston, A.
Heath, R. Sykes, C.
Hick, J. Taylor, P. A.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Tennant, R.
Holford, J. P. G. Thornhill, T.
Jolliffe, hon. S. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Knowles, T. Warburton, P. E.
Learmonth, A. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Lee, Major V. Wilmot, Sir H.
Legard, Sir C, Winn, R.
Lindsay, Colonel R. L.
Macdonald, A. TELLERS.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Downing, M'C.
Makins, Colonel Murphy, N. D.
Agnew, R. V. Chadwick, D.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Cholmeley, Sir H.
Backhouse, E. Clarke, J. C.
Baring, T. C. Close, M. C.
Barran, J. Cole, Col. hon. H. A.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Cole, H. T.
Beaumont, Colonel F. Colman, J. J.
Bell, I. L. Corbett, J.
Biggar, J. G. Corry, hon. H. W. L.
Birley, H. Courtney, L. H.
Blake, T. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Brady, J. Crichton, Viscount
Brassey, T. Dalkeith, Earl of
Briggs, W. E. Delahunty, J.
Brise, Colonel R. Dillwyn, L. L.
Brown, A. H. Dodds, J.
Bruen, H. Douglas, Sir G.
Cameron, C. Duff, M. E. G.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Dunbar, J.
Dundas, J. C.
Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W. Meldon, C. H.
Middleton, Sir A. E.
Egerton, Adm. hon. F. Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Ennis, N. Moore, A.
Evans, T. W. Moray, Col. H. D.
Ferguson, R. Morley, S.
Finch, G. H. Noel, E.
Fletcher, I. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Floyer, J.
Forster, Sir C. O'Beirne, Major
Gibson, rt. hon. E. O'Byrne, W. R.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. O'Clery, K.
Gladstone, W. H. O'Conor, D. M.
Gordon, Sir A. Palmer, C. M.
Gordon, Lord D. Parker, C. S.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Pease, J. W.
Goulding, W. Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Gourley, E. T. Power, J. O'C.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Price, W. E.
Grant, A. Puleston, J. H.
Hamilton, I. T. Ralli, P.
Hamilton, Marquess of Rathbone, W.
Hamilton, hon. R. B. Reed, E. J.
Hanbury, R. W. Russell, Lord A.
Harrison, C. Samuelson, H.
Harrison, J. F. Severne, J. E.
Havelock, Sir H. Sheil, E.
Hayter, A. D. Shirley, S. E.
Henry, M. Smith, A.
Herbert, H. A. Stanton, A. J.
Herschell, F. Stewart, J.
Hibbert, J. T. Stewart, M. J.
Holland, Sir H. T. Sullivan, A. M.
Holms, J. Taylor, D.
Howard, E. S. Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Hughes, W. B. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury.
Jenkins, D. J.
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Vivian, A. P.
Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir U. Vivian, H. H.
Waddy, S. D.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Walter, J.
Kensington, Lord Ward, M. F.
King-Harman, E. R. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Leslie, Sir J. Whitworth, B.
Lewis, C. E. Wilson, C.
Lewis, O. Yeaman, J.
Lewisham, Viscount Young, A. W.
Lloyd, M.
Lloyd, T. E. TELLERS.
Macartney, J. W. E. O'Conor Don, The
Mackintosh, C. F. Smyth, R.
Martin, P.

On Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill?"


said, he must express a hope that the spirit of compromise was now at an end.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 (Travellers' exemption orders) struck out.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Sir Joseph M'Kenna.)


said, he had no objection to that being done.


said, he had no wish to detain the Committee; but he desired to be allowed to make a brief personal explanation. An accident had occurred to him that evening which, he believed, had sometimes happened to other hon. Members. He had gone into a different Lobby from that which he intended, and had voted for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork County when he had intended to vote against it. It was with great surprise that he had found himself, when too late, in the wrong Lobby.


believed that the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew shire (Colonel Mure) had made precisely a similar mistake.

Motion agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.