§ Order for Second Reading read.
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, of the numerous Bills which had been presented before that House proposing to deal, in one shape or other, with the liquor question, he believed this was the only Bill from Ireland. Considering that in an early Session of the present Parliament Her Majesty's Government introduced a comprehensive measure, which it was hoped would settle for many years all legislation on this question, one must be struck with the fact that, nevertheless, there had not been in the memory of any hon. Member in the Assembly of Parliament a Session in which Bills proposing to regulate and restrict the liquor traffic so largely abounded. The strongest champion of the liquor traffic must frankly admit that the presence of those Bills and Motions in that House was a circumstance the meaning and significance of which it was vain and impossible to qualify or deny. From all sides of the House, and from all sections, these propositions emanated. 1435 They came from Conservative Members, from Liberal Members, and from Home Rule Members; from Catholics, from Church Protestants, and from Nonconformists; from men of every opinion, political and religious, in that House, there came some effort, in some shape or other, to terminate a state of things which everyone admitted called for a remedy. It was recognized by everyone that it had now become certain that the existing state of things ought not to remain, and was not to remain. Even Her Majesty's Government, the other evening, in a very interesting debate, and after a very remarkable Division, declared as much as that; and an Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse)—who, for the first time on a liquor question, he failed to see in his place, and whose absence he sincerely hoped was, at all events, not caused by illness—an Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds declaring against any further interference, or as the hon. and learned Member himself would have called it, worrying the liquor trade, was negatived without a Division, notwithstanding a piteous and imploring appeal from the hon. and learned Member to be allowed to strangle his own progeny with his own hands. The Bill which he (Mr. Sullivan) had the honour to propose, unlike many of the propositions—such as the Gothenburgh system, Elective Boards, and the Permissive Bill—raised no novel principles of legislation; it was simply taking the principles of legislation which we had already, and making use of them, inasmuch as no man in that House doubted that the hour at present fixed for closing public-houses on Saturday nights was an hour fixed by Parliament, and that Parliament might increase by five minutes, or an hour, or decrease by five minutes, or an hour, or two hours, that time, without introducing any novel principle of legislation. In plain truth, he was at a loss to understand how any man could oppose the second reading of this Bill, unless he was prepared to declare that neither a second more or a second less of trading on Saturday nights in Ireland would be a desirable improvement. They were relieved in discussing this Bill from one embarrassing point. He thought they would hear nothing in this debate about Sabbatarianism. They had, happily, done with that bugbear, 1436 although, singularly enough, there was one thing of which he would remind his hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan)—namely, that Saturday was the real Sabbath. He threw that out as a hint for his hon. Friend. In this debate there would be no question of the working man, with his family, after the labours of the week, wishing to ramble through beautiful meadows and green fields with an innocent rum bottle in his pocket. There would be no descriptions of little children picking the buttercups and daisies whilst the excellent husband refreshed the wife of his bosom with a pull at the gin flask. That could not take place on Saturday nights. Even his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Water-ford (Major O'Gorman) would hardly suggest that persons would be roaming about through meadows and fields at 11 o'clock on a Saturday night unless it was to find out a potheen still. [Major O'GORMAN: Yes; and find it, too.] He (Mr. Sullivan) had no doubt his hon. and gallant Friend was quite right. The whole principle of his Bill, therefore, he fought out upon one proposition—namely, whether it was desirable to shorten the drinking hours on Saturday nights. As to the degree of limitation, that was a matter for consideration in Committee, and all he could say was that he was not pledged to any particular hour. He wished that question to be discussed in a Committee of the Whole House, who would decide whether they should take away four hours, half-an-hour, or three hours. He himself had no fixed and definite opinion one way or the other, except in this respect—that he had a conviction that the shortening of the hours on Saturday nights ought not to be the same in large towns as in country towns and rural districts. He contended that there ought to be a much larger shortening in large cities. There were five large cities in Ireland which did not obtain Sunday closing. Those cities were exempt from the Sunday Closing Act. Now, in those five cities there was not only permission to trade on Sunday, but to a large degree the Saturday half-holiday system was adopted, so that the closing at 6, 7, or 8 o'clock would give as much time for persons to go marketing, as closing at 9 o'clock would in country places where the men worked; up to 6 o'clock. He therefore con- 1437 tended that the hour of closing in country districts ought not to be limited to anything like the same extent as in the five large towns. Another reason for not having the same hours was that in country places many of the shops which sold liquor also sold other commodities which were extremely useful and oven necessary to the working classes. He should be sorry, by proposing to remedy this evil, to do any unnecessary wrong; and, therefore, he was willing to discuss this matter in Committee, and was most desirous to accept any suggestion which might be thrown out that would, while taking an hour or two away, not interfere with the sale of other commodities. A suggestion had been made to him by a gentleman interested in the liquor traffic that the public-houses should be closed in the country after 8 or 9 o'clock for the consumption of liquor on the premises, leaving them free to sell other articles; and, without pledging himself to it, he confessed it seemed on the face of it to be a fair and reasonable proposition. Again, in the country districts there were none of those flaring gin-palaces where alcoholic drinks and nothing else were sold. He did not expect to carry his Bill this year, or perhaps next; but he thought it would be carried within the next three years. Petitions had been presented against this Bill by those interested in the liquor trade; but he thought the reason was not so much opposition to this measure as what he might call the "back wash" of the Sunday Closing measure. The vintners of Ireland were suffering very much irritation from the effects of that Act, which had diminished their receipts, and they had been instrumental in getting up Petitions against this Bill. One of those Petitions, the one which was presented to-day, and which he had called attention to, was advertised in The Irish Times, a paper which was not very likely to insert advertisements without pay, and contained the paragraph he had read, and which did not appear in the Petition which had been laid on the Table. He had no hesitation in saying that that Petition bore evidence of having been drafted after the meeting. Another Petition had been published purporting to be signed by secretaries of several Associations, as representatives; but it had been confessed in print by the gentlemen who prepared it that 1438 the persons who signed had no authority to sign as such representatives. One person had signed himself member of the Oddfellows and other Societies That person might just as well have signed for the Protestant Church of Ireland, or for the Catholic Church. The document was a fraud, and hero was the admission of that fraud by the gentleman who had got it up—Some of the signatures were affixed after deliberation, others were not; but it is not by any means intended to convoy that these signatures act in an official capacity.However, he rejoiced that the opponents of his Bill were taking to public meetings. Although public opinion might be a little stormy on the subject, and although he might be a good deal abused, he was used to that sort of thing. It would not hurt him a bit. If his character were not able to stand a great deal more than that, it must be very fragile. He rejoiced, he repeated, that the liquor interest in Ireland was taking to public meetings. Formerly they had insisted upon the rights of minorities; but now they had changed their tactics, and were going in for the majority as representing public opinion. That was an admission, in effect, of the principle of the Permissive Bill, and was fatal to the position which some of his hon. Friends had previously taken up. When those who disapproved of this Bill went to get up public meetings they did so in a most lamb-like fashion. They deprecated violent speech and intemperate language on the part of temperance advocates. A requisition was taken round—not, perhaps, in the stand-and-deliver fashion; but a requisition was taken round by influential gentlemen connected with the trade to the merchants and traders in Dublin, one by one. They were asked to "Sign this; it is for a meeting to declare against vituperation of our trade," and the answer was, "Of course I will sign it." But what was the language of the publicans and their friends when they took the platform? No one was to be personally assailed; that was declared to be violent and wrong. He held in his hands a bill which had been issued by the opponents of the Bill; and what were its terms?—The New Coercion Bill. Sign a Petition in opposition to the Saturday Closing Bill of Messrs. Sullivan and Meldon, the place-hunting 1439 lawyers on the watch, for Whig office by betraying the people.That was the first ebullition of the gentlemen who, in getting up public meetings, desired that there should be no personalities, but that there should be mild and gentle language.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
was understood to ask who had to do with the requisition to which the hon. and learned Member had referred?
said, he could throw a great deal of light on the point as to who paid for these things by alluding to an instance, which he recommended to the attention of some hon. Members. Whereas the Irish Temperance and Permissive Bill Associations published their accounts and had auditors to certify as to every sixpence, when the Vintners' Association was asked to act in a similar manner, they declined to do so—in other words, they dared not expose the whole of the way in which their expenditure had been incurred. Then, again, with reference to temperance of language, a Mr. Leahy had said—Mr. Sullivan should recollect the time when he was an Irishman. [A Voice—'He is a traitor.'] [Laughter and groans for Russell.]That was the secretary to the Temperance Association. He hoped Mr. Russell had not been destroyed by those groans. Mr. Leahy added—This early closing business is intended to destroy and injure the trade of Dublin, and the simple ambition of Mr. Sullivan is to make the city a barren waste.That was an intention which he should not trouble himself to disclaim. The first resolution passed at the meeting at which those remarks were made was to declare and to condemn the systematic vituperation by which licensed traders had been habitually disquieted, and afterwards a gentleman of the name of Murphy rose, and he deplored the extreme personality which was sometimes indulged in, and said that when he looked at the names which emblazoned the history of Ireland, and then looked at Sullivan, that wretched traitor to his country, who once professed national principles, he could not for a moment hesitate to give vent to his feelings. This gentleman said—At one time, Mr. Sullivan could head an Irish procession in honour of the Manchester martyrs; but at another time he can turn his coat, and if there were a vacancy to-morrow for a hangman Sullivan is the man.1440 And yet there was to be no violence of language. There was to be agitation, in which there should be nothing but drawing-room phrases used by the publicans and their friends; but a very pathetic speech had been delivered on the subject. A Mr. Flood pointed to the spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and asked the working-men to whom he spoke, "Who has restored that building? A brewer. Think," he said, in effect, "of the money which was expended in restoring that Cathedral. How would you like to see it in ruins, and if the Bill, which Mr. Sullivan is introducing, is passed now, when it was desolated, where would you get the money to restore it?" Seeing that the edifice in question had been restored in a manner which was likely to last for 700 years, he was prepared to take his chance of the odium of posterity in connection with this matter. But once more, it was resolved at a publican meeting which was held the other night to conduct a model agitation, and what was the language which was then employed?—The men of Dublin were able to mind their homes. They would not require advice from a paid agitator, who would find more chance of exercising his talents in the land of cakes. [A Voice: He ought to get a bullet in his head.]That was a specimen of the mild and moderate way in which these gentlemen spoke. Once again—Mr. Sullivan has been dragged out of obscurity by betraying his countrymen. He has gone to England, forsaking his countrymen.Well, with regard to the latter accusation, he shared the dreadful crime of exile with 2,000,000 of other Irishmen in Great Britain. The remarks went on—He has gone to England, forsaking his countrymen, and has become more of an Englishman than an Irishman. He has no Irish, no real, love for his countrymen. He was a Sabbatarian from the beginning.Well, he hoped he would always observe the Sabbath. What was the moral of all this? What was the impression which any foreigner would derive from reading it? The impression would simply be that one might labour for his country and defend his religion, but the moment he harmed the gin palace "away with him." One might spend his life in an effort—it might be an unsuccessful effort—to serve and 1441 benefit the nation; he might suffer sacrifice, he might even face prison for it, but if he touched the rum bottle he was, forsooth, a traitor. The meetings to which he had referred were nearly every one of them public meetings, got up and paid for by publicans' money. Go to Dublin, and who was chairman at the meeting there? Mr. John O'Connor, gin-palace owner. Who paid for the bands that drew a crowd of curiosity seekers to the Park last Sunday? The publicans. Who offered, and offered in vain, £10 for a band in Limerick to assist at a meeting to protest against this Bill? The publicans. There was no genuine popular feeling whatever against his measure, but an artificial excitement had been got up and paid for by the publicans. This idea as to Saturday closing was no new idea. The story had been disseminated in Ireland that it had only been started within the last few months, and the people of that country had been told that it was only a following up, step by step, of the Sunday closing transaction. Not a bit of it. He had always been in favour of it, and as long ago as 1868 the mass of testimony was in support of the movement. In the Sunday closing debates of the past seven years no name was so constantly mentioned by the publicans' friends as that of the very rev. Canon M'Cabe, of Dublin. That estimable dignitary of the Catholic Church had now, to the joy of the people amongst whom his life was passed, been elevated to the dignity of the Archbishopric of Dublin; but it was safe to prophecy that the men in that House so often lauding his wisdom and quoting his evidence, would laud him and quote him no more; for his Grace was clear and strong in his recommendation of Saturday early closing. Before the Select Committee of 1867 he was asked, with regard to Saturday evenings, whether he was of opinion that a great deal of mischief was done by the lateness to which public-houses were kept open on those nights, and he answered that he was strongly of that opinion, and that he thought the misery of the ensuing week was very much to be attributed to the circumstance. Mr. Francis Lyons, the Mayor of Cork, who did not agree with Sunday closing, spoke to the same effect; and Mr. J. C. O'Donnell, the 1442 resident magistrate of Belfast, declared that Saturday night was a night of debauch in that large and important town, and that the evils which came before him in connection with that evening were not to be compared with those which arose during the rest of the week. Mr. Hamilton, the resident magistrate of Cork, who was opposed to Sunday closing, expressed a similar opinion. In short, not merely those who were in favour of Sunday closing, but those who differed from the advocates of that movement, declared with one voice that the evils of Saturday night were most pernicious. Even Mr. Hugh O'Donnell, the president of the Grocers' Benevolent Association in the City of Dublin, a most respectable gentleman, who had his fortune engaged in the trade, agreed that there were evils in connection with the traffic on Saturday nights which ought to be dealt with, whatever might be done as to Sunday; and Superintendent Corr, of the Dublin police, whose opportunity for observation had been large, declared that while he was against Sunday closing, there could be no doubt that the Saturday night was a night of havoc and of woe amongst the working classes of that city. So also testified Dr. O'Shaughnessy, a Justice of the Peace for the City of Limerick, a gentleman whose character was widely known and universally respected, and who devoted a large portion of his time not in observing an attitude of neutrality on this question, but in endeavouring to hew down the evil. There was a mass of testimony to the same effect in 1868. Coming down to the Committee that sat in 1877—had there during these 10 years been any change in this consensus of opinion on the part of men who had the most varied views on other propositions? Captain Talbot, the Commissioner of Police in Dublin, was examined in 1877, and that gentleman distinctly stated that he attributed the prevalence of the arrests, disturbances, and crimes in the Irish Metropolis to the late hour at which the public-houses were allowed to keep open on Saturday nights. Mr. Woodlock, the divisional magistrate of Dublin, was asked whether there was any remedy which occurred to him as being advisable to adopt, and he answered—The Saturday night's drinking is the thing which presses most upon my mind with respect 1443 to Dublin, and I confess, apart from the question of Sunday closing, which, is another matter, that I should be willing to adopt a very summary and a very premature system of closing public-houses on Saturday evenings. I would close them at a very early hour, indeed, certainly not later than 7 o'clock, possibly earlier. I would close them early on Sunday besides. Speaking from my own feeling, I would close them altogether.Mr. J. C. O'Donel, another divisional magistrate of Dublin, was asked a question on the subject, and he said in reply—I don't know whether you wish to ask my opinion about early closing on Saturdays, but I have no hesitation in telling the Committee that, putting aside the consequences to persons holding licences, if you look only to the improvement of the moral condition, the saving of wages, and the domestic happiness of the working classes, you should stop drinking earlier on Saturdays.The same witness added, at the close of his evidence—By all means close earlier on Saturdays, if you want, as far as legislation can do it, to save the people.Then came the secretary of the Vintners' Association. Now, this was a gentleman whose handiwork they could trace in all the opposition to this Bill; and yet, when before the Committee, he had declared the Saturday night drinking to be a real and genuine evil. He thought the evil in regard to Sunday was fanciful; but he declared, in answer to the Committee, that the Saturday night drinking was a substantial, and not an imaginary, evil; and he said that the publicans of Dublin would be glad if they could practically see their way to shortening the hours on Saturday nights. Lest he should be suspected of misrepresenting the witness's evidence, on account of their widely different views, he would just read it, and the House must remember that this gentleman occupied such a position that if he allowed a word to slip, which, when he got back to Dublin, did not suit the vintners, his office and salary would be unsafe. Nevertheless, he said—Intemperance and excessive drinking undoubtedly exist more on Saturday night than at any other time.There was the case that he wanted to make for the House to-day. There, out of the lips of the vintners' secretary, 1444 was the whole case for his Bill. The witness said—If the intemperance and excessive drinking which undoubtedly do exist much more on Saturday night than at any other time can be put a stop to by any reasonable sacrifice on the part of the publicans, I think I could almost undertake for them, that they would be willing to consent to make that sacrifice.Now, he (Mr. Sullivan) only asked those gentlemen to be as good as their word. The witness was asked if the publicans would consent to Sunday closing, if it would have a similar effect, but he replied—"Sunday closing stands in quite a different position," and with that he (Mr. Sullivan) quite agreed. The witness being asked—"Do you think the state of things on Saturday night an imaginary evil?" he replied—"I do not;" and being further asked—"Do you think it is a real evil?" he answered—? "Yes." Then came Alderman Daly, of Cork, who was against Sunday closing, but who declared in favour of Saturday night closing. Mr. Heard, an official witness, the County Inspector of Water-ford, gave evidence to the same effect. All these were opponents of Sunday closing, and they agreed in saying Saturday night was the night of all others that did the evil. Then came Mr. Duignan, a brassfounder, who was sent over to give evidence by the publicans of Dublin. He believed he recognized Mr. Duignan as one of the speakers in the interests of the Dublin publicans against Saturday night closing now, although two years ago he came over all the way to London to recommend it. Mr. Duignan was a comparatively humble man, and it was due to him to say that he was not the only man in the predicament of having to come forward publicly now and deny his protestations solemnly made on this question two years ago. They found more eminent men than a poor brassfounder put in that unholy predicament. However, Mr. Duignan was asked whether, if the public-houses were closed on Saturday night, the wives' influence at home would not tend to diminish drunkenness there? Mr. Duignan replied—I believe so. I think what the working men and their wives complain of is the Saturday night's drinking.Then he was asked, "Are you in favour of early closing on Saturday night?" and he said, "I would be." Like many 1445 a man in a higher social station, they caught Mr. Duignan to-day, however, sounding the loud timbrel, calling all to arms to resist the Saturday Closing Bill. It was a miserable spectacle. Then came the resident magistrate of Belfast, in favour of Sunday closing. And then there was Dr. O'Shaughnessy, of Limerick, whom he had already quoted. The Clerk of Petty Sessions in Waterford, and several other witnesses, repeated in 1877 their declarations against Sunday closing, but in favour of Saturday night closing. Lastly, the Recorder of Dublin came forward, fie might say of him, that in a few short years, filling that official position, the Recorder of Dublin had won golden opinions. Selected by a Conservative Government to preside over a city largely Roman Catholic and Liberal, there never was a public appointment made by a Conservative Government in Ireland that was hailed with greater delight and satisfaction by the people. There never was a man placed in a judicial position in Ireland, who had won such feelings of affectionate respect from the people over whom he presided. What was the evidence of that official, the licensing authority of the city? He was in favour of Sunday closing, but he said, "Whatever you do on Sundays, deal with the Saturday nights." Now, he (Mr. Sullivan) had preferred to base his observations, even at such length, almost exclusively on an array of the public official evidence taken as to the necessity of legislating on Saturday closing. He might go further, and quote the evidence given before the Committee of the House of Lords, but he would not weary the House. He saw present his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy). They knew with what ability the hon. Gentleman had defended the interests of the vintners of Ireland, although he had exorcised that ability with tact, consistency, and a due regard for the future of his own position. Well, what did the hon. Member say? He said—"Cutoff an hour or two from the Saturday nights." There were many other hon. Members besides the Member for Cork arrayed against them on Sunday closing who suggested earlier closing on Saturday nights. There was the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) present, of whom it might be said, whether he took his view or not, that he was a man who 1446 had given proofs by his personal conduct of a genuine desire to elevate the morals and domestic condition of the people. He believed that in the ranks of temperance reformation there was no man who was more sincere; but what did the hon. Member say? In a letter which he wrote to a friend in Dublin he complained about the Sunday Closing Bill, and said—"Why do they not help me in my efforts to shorten the hours on Saturday night?" [Cries of "Read."] If there was the slightest wish he would read it, but he did not think the hon. Member would accuse him of misrepresenting him. The hon. Member, in his letter, said—I honour the motives of the Sunday closing advocates, but with the sense I have of my personal responsibilities I cannot go with them. If there are to be further restrictions they should rot be confined to Sunday. I cannot understand those who take so much interest in the Sunday Closing Bill, but who so persistently refuse to join me in my efforts rather to restrict the hours for the sale of drink on Saturday.Now, he (Mr. Sullivan) would volunteer to join in the hon. Member's efforts. He would surrender his place on the back of the present Bill to the hon. Member. Let him take up this Bill, and he would be most happy to give him all the co-operation in his power. He thanked the House for having allowed him so far to explain this measure. He begged of the House, in conclusion, to give ear to the entreaties put forward by all those witnesses whom he had quoted, by Catholic clergy, by Protestant, and by working men. He asked them not to listen to the plea that the Bill was inopportune. He heard of no excuse amongst weak-kneed public men other than this—"I wish you well, but you are inopportune." That reminded him of an old gentleman named Kelly, who lived in Dublin many years ago, who was professedly benevolent, although the people called him a skin-flint. He was never known to give alms, but he never refused them, always telling the beggars to come again another day. He always considered their applications inopportune, and when he heard the plea of inopportuness opposed to this measure, he could not help being reminded of Mr. Kelly's answers to the beggar women—"It is inopportune; come again another day." He would ask the House to say that this measure was opportune. 1447 They were told they were bringing this forward too soon after the Sunday Closing Bill; but, as a matter of fact, this measure was introduced into Parliament before the Sunday Closing Bill was passed. Nor did he see how Sunday closing could mitigate the evils of Saturday night drinking. There might have been some reason for deferring Sunday closing until the effect of shortening the hours on Saturday had been tried; but there was no logic in reversing the argument. He must say that, in his opinion, it was never inopportune to listen to the demands of a people wishing to be freed from temptation. This House was bound by solemn obligations to take cognizance of the official evidence crowding upon them as to the woe and havoc being caused by those dreadful hours of the liquor traffic on Saturday night. He appealed to those who on every other temperance question were against them, to ask their consciences what proposal could be brought forward that would come more near to a practical measure than the demand made to-day! Here was a practical proposition involving no novelty. It was a measure asked for by their own officials, the magistrates, and the police, as well as by those whose sacred office bound them to care for the people. As for himself, his answer to all the exclamations against him in Ireland in connection with the subject was that he had devoted years of his life to some sympathetic effort—mistaken, it might be, but, at all events, earnest—to leave his fellow-countrymen better than he found them, and he was prepared to face any penalty, or even to bear ostracism from public life, if that was to be the penalty of his action, with cheerfulness, if he could only succeed in the endeavour to make the cottier's Saturday night one of joy and happiness instead of drunkenness and misery round the domestic hearth.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Sullivan.)
§ MR. M. BROOKS
, in rising to move the following Amendment:—That, considering the recent legislation for the restriction of the hours of trade in public-houses in Ireland, it is not expedient to pass any further measures of restriction during the present Session,1448 said, he thought he could add more than a thousand and one reasons why this Bill should not pass into law. He would not have ventured to address the House on this subject in the presence of so many other hon. Gentlemen who were far more competent to speak upon it than he, if it had not been for the position which he had the honour to hold as representing the City in which resided the largest number of working men, or that class of persons who would be affected by the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan). The hon. and learned Gentleman had done him the favour to make some remarks upon the course which he felt it his duty to take in the City of Dublin, and the measures which he chose to support for improving the habits and the condition of the working men, and he had also spoken, with great truth, of the deep interest which he himself had always manifested, and of the trouble and the labour which he had undertaken to improve the condition of the working men; but the line adopted by his hon. and learned Friend had been one of a repressive and coercive character. He (Mr. M. Brooks) did not wish to be egotistical, but he would like to say for himself and his friends in Dublin, that they had adopted and followed and worked hard for the same object, but upon other lines. He was proud to say that for 25 years he had been an active and diligent manager of savings banks. He had thought that the encouragement of habits of frugality and self-reliance was more calculated to elevate and improve the condition of his Irish fellow-countrymen than any measure of this sort. He had for many years also been engaged on that public Committee which had for its object the improvement of the dwellings of the artizans, and had taken a part in the establishment and foundation of public libraries in Dublin. He had also taken a part, he could but say an humble part, with those who had devoted their lives to the public good. Well, now, the hon. and learned Gentleman was good enough to quote from a letter which some time ago he (Mr. M. Brooks) wrote to a constituent concerning the Sunday Closing Bill, and in which he said he marvelled, as indeed he did marvel, at the failure to enlist an active operation in favour of closing on Saturday night rather than of closing 1449 entirely on Sunday. He would like to explain what influenced him then. It was clear that, at the time that letter was written, the Government were about to throw a sop to the promoters of the Sunday Closing Bill. It was obvious, that at that time, a measure, limited or extensive in its character, would be passed; and, seeing that further resistance was hopeless, he did urge upon the Government, and did suggest that rather than deprive the working people of Ireland entirely of one of their holidays—namely, Sunday, it would be better to leave them that day, and to restrict for a time the hours during which public-houses should be open on Saturday night; but it was not fair, or reasonable, or logical, to say that at any time he advocated the passing of any measure for restricting the hours during which public-houses should be open. Rather than that Sunday should be taken away, he was in favour of earlier closing on Saturday; but he was not in favour of either of these measures, believing that they would lead to the illicit sale of drink, and tend to the demoralization of working people. He would pass on from that letter to the list of Petitions which the hon. and learned Member quoted. Now, it was very remarkable that all these Petitions which he paraded with so much force did not include one single Petition emanating apparently from working men. There were Petitions from two Presbyterian congregations, one from Birmingham and one from some Society which hailed from a district in County Cork, and which declared to have for its object the improvement of the condition of the people. But this latter might have been a Communist Society for aught he knew, a Society that desired the improvement of the condition of the people, not through the influence of the clergy, but by the horrible system which they knew was advocated by some men. The hon. and learned Member had said that closing these houses on Saturday evening would not produce inconvenience to the working man. He seemed to have forgotten that in Ireland, the shops where wine, beer, and spirits were sold were the shops in which the people obtained nearly the whole of their supplies of food. Working men were, with some exceptions, only paid on Saturday evening, and they were compelled to go to the shops where, as he 1450 had said, beer, whisky, and wines were sold, in order to get their groceries—their tea, their sugar, their bread, their bacon, and other necessaries, and, therefore, in the City of Dublin, he was bound to say, almost incalculable inconveniences would be caused if this measure were passed in its present form. The hon. and learned Member had also said that he thought there was no great feeling on the part of the working people of Ireland against this Bill, while, almost in the same breath, he referred to the very great disturbances which occurred, to the angry feeling that prevailed, and the hard names by which he had been called, and to the knocks of the shillelagh in consequence of the agitation in regard to this measure. Why, it was only within the last few weeks that opponents of the Bill had been brought up before the magistrates, some being fined and others sent to prison; and, therefore, it was not a fair argument to represent that there was no public feeling against the Bill. They now knew as a fact that men had incurred the risk of being sent to prison, of being mulcted in their wages, and of enduring great ignominy in their resistance to a measure which was calculated to interfere with their liberty and to coerce their behavour. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke, on the other hand, of a consensus of opinion on this subject, and he quoted the opinion of a number of persons; but the consensus of opinion was on the part of those members of the British Alliance Association, which had for its object the entire suppression of the liquor traffic, He did not quote anybody else. He did not tell the House, when he quoted the Recorder of the City of Dublin—of whom he could not speak too highly—all that that right hon. Gentleman had said. He (Mr. M. Brooks) had listened attentively to the evidence given by the Recorder before the Committee of the House of Commons, and he gathered from it, that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that a measure for closing earlier on Saturdays would be better as an alternative measure than closing on Sunday and Saturday. As the hon. and learned Gentleman had only read to the House a portion of the Recorder's answer, he would, with the permission of the House, read some other words which he used. The Recorder said— 1451Surely, it is in vain that I, or such as I, should bid the people steeped in squalor and besieged with disease, joyless, hopeless, Godless, not seek the light of the gin palace and the oblivion, however temporary and baneful, they can purchase therein.The Recorder had advocated that which he (Mr. M. Brooks), and numbers of his friends, had humbly laboured to achieve—namely, the improvement of the condition of the working people by the establishment of public libraries and other means. He would further call the attention of hon. Members to the fact that amongst the names appended to the Petitions in favour of this Bill, those of the clergy, the magistracy, the gentry, and the nobility, who were in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill, were conspiciously absent. All those most highly regarded and most influential with the people, had refrained from signing these Petitions. The names of those who were the natural leaders of the people, in whom they confided, and who would be their leaders in every popular and religious movement, were almost entirely absent from the Petitions. Well, now, the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought in this Bill had been remarkably silent upon the reasons why the measure had been confined to Ireland. He no longer lived in Ireland. He had come to live in London. They were sorry for him, and wished he had continued to remain with them in Ireland. But he wanted to know why the hon. and learned Gentleman did not seek to extend the provisions of the Bill to the land of his adoption? Was it that the people there were more sober than they were in Ireland? Or was it that the clergy in Ireland were not as powerful or influential with working men as they were in England? He demanded to know why the hon. and learned Gentleman sought to confine this measure to Ireland alone? He (Mr. M. Brooks), as a large employer of labour in both countries, asserted, with the utmost possible confidence, that the artizans, the labourers, and the clerks of Dublin and other parts of Ireland were as sober, as virtuous, as industrious, and as religious, to say the least of it, as the people of the same class in England. Why, then, were the working men of Dublin to have thrown upon them the stigma that for them alone was this measure needed? Why were they to be 1452 held up to the whole civilized world as the only people who required to be exceptionally treated? Why was it, he again asked, that the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who hoped to have inscribed upon his tomb that he had been a patriot and a lover of his fellow-countrymen, should bring forward this measure. It was a fatal blot, that this measure, which had not been applied in any part of the world, let alone the United Kingdom, should only be made applicable to Ireland. There was one other point upon which the Bill appeared to him to be singularly deficient, and that was that it did not extend to the classes above those who used the public-house. If it were sought to extend the provisions of the Bill to the enfranchised classes—to those who used club-houses and hotels—then it would be seen that great influence would be brought to bear upon Members of the House. Such an influence would be brought to bear as would dissuade hon. Members from supporting a measure of this character. He spoke there on behalf of the working men of Ireland who had not votes, and who were, consequently, dumb, and who had not the means of influencing hon. Members in their favour. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
, in seconding the Amendment, contended that there was nothing in the Bill to recommend it to the House, and a more irrelevant and inconsequential speech than that of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) it had never before been his evil fortune to hear from, that hon. Member. The hon. and learned Member had read, with all the gravity of a Nisi Prius lawyer bringing forward astounding evidence in support of his case, anonymous placards and handbills without the slightest scintilla of proof of the quarter from whence they came, and had poised and posed himself as if he know all about them; but when interrogated, he was obliged to admit that he could not tell from whence they emanated—that there were no names—and the hon. and learned Member then made up for the deficiency, not by argument, but by a species of Nisi Prius tact, which could not have deceived even the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. Was there ever a more complete fallacy 1453 than his reasoning on this matter? He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) found on the back of the Bill the names of the hon. Members for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), Queen's County (Mr. Dease), Kildare (Mr. Mel-don), and Kilkenny (Mr. B. Whitworth); and he was bound to say he never saw so many good names on such a poor Bill. Now, he was quite sure—and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kildare would correct him if he were wrong—that not one of those hon. Grentlemen had anything to do with the drafting of the measure. It provided for the earlier closing of public-houses in Ireland upon Saturday, and for the amendment of the lawsrelating to the sale of intoxicating drinks in that country. The Bill had, therefore, two objects; but what were the necessities of the case to justify the House to shorten the hours of sale on Saturdays? The second object was a most considerable one. He, however, did not profess to understand it, and he questioned whether even the supporters of the Bill knew what it really was. He had looked in vain in the Preamble of the measure for some scintillation of its meaning, but had been unable to find there anything which could throw a light upon it. The Preamble said—Whereas, it is expedient to amend the laws relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors in Ireland,and there it stopped; and a more silly Preamble it was impossible to imagine. If it went further, and stated the reasons why it was expedient to do so, there might be something which the opponents of the measure might traverse; but, without raising any issue whatever, the Bill went on to say—"Be it enacted." In fact, it was impossible to know from the Bill itself what it proposed to do; but, at all events, he knew much more about it than did those hon. Members who proposed it. It enacted that from the 10th of October all public-houses in the Metropolitan district of the City of Dublin, in the cities of Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, and the town of Belfast, should be closed at 6 o'clock on Saturday evenings, and that those in the other cities and towns of Ireland should not be allowed to remain open after 8 o'clock on the evening of that day. Now, he questioned if any hon. Member not intimately acquainted with the City of 1454 Dublin knew what was the extent of the Metropolitan district of that City, or how wide was its scope. It contained within it many places which, lying outside the City itself, were pretty much like other country places in Ireland; and why those resident in such places should have their hours of trade or of social enjoyment cut short at 6 o'clock, while those resident in Youghal and other towns at a greater distance were to be allowed to enjoy themselves until 8 o'clock, was a matter which he could not understand. The Bill then went on to say—That all the penalties in previous Acts of Parliament relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors in Ireland shall apply to the provisions of this measure.Now, he believed there was not a single Member in the House who know or could make out from this Bill what it proposed to enact. He would ask the promoters of the Bill if they were acquainted with even the titles of the several measures they were now asking the House to extend against those whom they were about to deprive of the ordinary liberty of purchasing what they might require during certain hours on Saturday? When the Sunday Closing Act was before the House, one of the objections taken to it was that it was a Sabbatarian movement, and that it was intended for the purpose of securing a more rigid keeping holy of that day. Its supporters maintained that it had nothing whatever to do with either faith or religious decorum, but was merely intended to promote the morality and health of the public. They now, however, came to deal with Saturday, the Sabbath proper, and what was the ostensible reason why they did so? It was that the working classes received their wages upon Saturday evening, and, that being so, they should not be allowed any facilities to get drunk and to indulge in orgies. He thought the case was exaggerated. But even if they did make that use of their evenings, an Act of Parliament was not the means which should be adopted to correct the evil. It might be charged against him that he had supported the early closing of public-houses on Saturday, but he only did so by way of compromise of the Sunday Closing Bill. He had no hesitation in avowing that he had done so; but it was a compromise. He had been at all times very anxious 1455 that the facilities given to the people of indulging in intoxicating drinks should be limited as much as common justice would permit; but the House, having passed the Sunday Closing Act, which laid down a hard-and-fast line, and did not permit Sunday trade in the sale of such drinks in a large portion of Ireland, it was now highly inexpedient, before that enactment had run a quarter of its term that the temper of the people of Ireland should be tried by forcing on them a Bill like that now before the House. He now came to the 3rd clause, which provided that the Licensing (Ireland) Acts of 1872 and 1874 should be bound up with this measure, and that all three should be construed as one Act. This demanded from him still more criticism than he had bestowed on the other portions of the Bill. In the first place, there was no such Statute as a Licensing (Ireland) Act of 1872; so that, so far, the proposed incorporation was impossible. There was a Licensing Act passed in 1872; but it was a United Kingdom Act, and not an Irish Act. He called attention to this, as another instance of the haphazard, random, inconsequential, and indefensible manner in which this Bill had been drafted. What did the hon. and learned Member for Louth know about the Act of 1872, which was passed before he obtained a seat in the House, or what did the hon. and learned Member for Kildare know about it, but he would not say that his hon. and learned Friend had had anything to do with the drafting of the Bill. The Act of 1872 was not an Irish Act; but here the House was asked to re-enact it for Ireland by extending its application to Ireland alone. He ventured to say that such a misdescription ought to be fatal to the Bill. He would ask, did the hon. and learned Member for Louth know about this Act? He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna), however, had gone into the Library to refer to it, and found it was an Act of pains and penalties, giving enormous powers to the tribunals which had to deal with licensing all over the United Kingdom, and here it was bundled in with the Act of 1874, which was an Act limited to Ireland. He did not, in this, mean to attribute to the hon. and learned Member for Louth anything that was unworthy; for, in the first place, that hon. and learned Gentleman, not having had anything to 1456 do with the drafting of the measure, knew nothing whatever about it, and, secondly, be was too honourable to attempt to deceive the House. The fact was, no doubt, that the hon. and learned Gentleman got it ready briefed for him from some Temperance Society, and he acted upon his brief. He had told the House of certain amenities to which he had been treated, and how he had been threatened with a bullet through his head for his support of this measure; but the Irish Party would be the greatest loser by that; for he might say of the hon. and learned Gentleman that he touched nothing which he did not adorn, except when he discoursed about intoxicating drinks, and then he went as far astray as if he himself indulged in them?—which the House knew he did not. His (Sir Joseph M'Kenna's) object was to have a decision taken upon this Bill, and, therefore, he should not talk much longer on the subject; but, before he sat down, he did wish to refer to the Act of 1874. Clause 4 of the present Bill was, perhaps, the most liberal one of the measure; but, unfortunately, it was altogether inexplicable. It raised again the question of the bonâ fide traveller, but failed to define for them who in reality was a bonâ fide traveller. He knew that many people arrived in Dublin by train after 6 o'clock on Saturday evenings, and he should like to know how the publican was to determine who were those whom he should, and who were those whom he should not, serve? In fact, the Bill made it necessary that the publican should, for his own protection, refuse to serve either, and thus the clause, however liberal it seemed, was a delusion. If it was the intention of the Bill that the bonâ fide traveller should be accommodated, then it should be put fairly in the measure, and the determination of it not left to a side-wind. It was unfair, that if a publican served a man believing him to be a bonâ fide traveller, that he should for doing so be visited with pains and penalties; but what was to take place with respect to the bonâ fide traveller himself? Was he not to have a hostelry to receive him, but be compelled to go about from public-house to public-house seeking in vain for shelter? If the Bill was to be properly characterized, it should be described as a Bill for rendering confusion still more confounded. Again, it was 1457 proposed that the Bill, should it pass—which he believed it would not—was to come into force on the 10th of October, 1879; but certain licences were to be exempted from its operation. Here was another instance of provision within provision, and consequent confusion. The Bill was to come into force upon a certain day, and it was not to come into force; and how those two proposals were to be reconciled he could not understand. Was that a proper Bill to bring down to the House? Why, it would not only make the whole law of licensing unpalatable to the Irish people, but would render it difficult for anyone, either the publican or the magistrate, to tell who the bonâ fide traveller on the Saturday was. After all, there was a broad distinction between the Sunday bonâ fide traveller and the Saturday bonâ fide traveller. The former was generally out upon a day's pleasure, and was easily recognized by his free, jaunty air, but it was not so with the Saturday bonâ fide traveller, who was out on business. He should like to know how a Dublin publican was to distinguish between a number of navvies who might come into the city on Saturday evening upon leaving off work at Kilmainham or at Lucan, and a number of labourers from the sewers of the next street? Was there ever, he would ask, anything more likely to sow the seeds of distrust of their Representatives in the minds of the people? If the Bill were to pass into law, they would have in Ireland constant scenes of riot; and the people would feel indignant that conditions were imposed upon them from which those who imposed them were themselves exempt. They had put up with the Sunday Closing Bill; and he, for his own part, was glad that they had done so, although he was bound to confess that he would have preferred a restricted open time on Sundays, with a few hours cut off the open time upon Saturday evenings. If that compromise had been agreed to, he would go with the Temperance Societies, which were, he had no doubt, actuated by pure and philanthropic motives; but they, like all other similar Associations, from being disciples became partizans, and had an organized staff of orators and lecturers going through the country to enlist new allies. This was all fair, but it had a tendency to make men partizans. 1458 Speaking for himself, he would say that he had the cause of temperance as much at heart as any of those gentlemen whom he had already named; but he had a great unwillingness to interfere with the natural liberty of the people by refusing them a discretion in a matter which so nearly concerned themselves. He should like to see the people of Ireland as sober as were those of France and Italy. They were to be made such, not by Act of Parliament, but by providing them with amusement and recreation. Why should they not show the Irish people how they could pleasantly occupy their spare time on Saturdays? If they were to use their best efforts to establish respectable coffeehouses; if they would provide the people with the humblest shelter, where they could have even a cup of water; if they—the advocates of temperance—would give the people an opportunity to make up for the sad difference in their position, and show them how to make life pleasant by social enjoyment; why, then, he should willingly go forward, and act with them. He admitted that the Sunday Closing Act had done some good, but he believed the amount of harm which it had done in another direction more than neutralized that good. In fine, it was unfair and inconsiderate upon the part of those who could drink at their clubs to deal in this way with the millions who were affected by the Bill.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "considering the recent legislation for the restriction of the hours of trade in public houses in Ireland, it is not expedient to pass any further measures of restriction during the present Session,"—(Mr. Maurice Brooks,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. MELDON
, in supporting the Bill, said, the question was not one of detail, but was this—Did any necessity exist in Ireland that the hours for the sale of intoxicating liquors should be shortened? Before going into the question, he would refer to an incident which took place at the commencement of Public Business. A Petition was then presented purporting to come from a meet- 1459 ing of some 20,000 working men, held in Dublin. The authenticity of the Petition was challenged, on the ground that the Petition, which was supposed to have been adopted at the meeting, referred to facts that occurred at another meeting at Cork either contemporaneously or subsequently to it. It was then said that there was no reference in the Petition to the meeting at Cork; but he understood that that statement was made in error, for he found in the concluding paragraph of the Petition the statement that the petitioners had to regret the occurrence at Cork "on Sunday" of a serious riot. Now, the meeting at Dublin could have no knowledge of the occurrence at Cork, and the introduction of the words "on Sunday," instead of "this day," was to him very conclusive that the Petition was concocted and signed subsequently to the meeting. He also thought that the words on the Petition that the countenance given by the House to such Bills was productive of internecine strife, and calculated to lead to serious breaches of law and order, was indecorous to the House, seeing that the promoters of the Bill held that there was necessity for the shortening of the hours for the sale of intoxicating liquors, and that the opponents of the Bill held that there was no such necessity. He should have been quite prepared to discuss the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan), to the effect that the principle of the Bill was a vicious one, and that the Bill ought not to have a second reading. But another Amendment had been moved, and by that he contended that the opponents of the Bill admitted its principle. There was, then, a consensus of opinion as to the necessity for shortening the hours of sale. The question, then, really before the House was not one between the House and the body of the people of Ireland, but it was one merely between the House and the body of licensed victuallers. ["No, no!"] Well, he should prove that that was the only question. The licensed victuallers were monopolists by virtue of legislation; they were a class of persons to whom great advantages were given over other trades and other persons. The House had always limited the hours during which they might carry on their trade, and there was no disputing the right of the House at its dis- 1460 cretion to fix those hours. The House was now asked to re-consider a determination come to in 1874, so far as two or three hours on Saturday night were concerned. The only objection that could be made to this was that it brought up a small point at a time when there was no general Licensing Bills before the House. With regard to the business of licensed victuallers, no one could shut his eyes to the fact that in Ireland there were members of the trade, than whom there could be no higher. No doubt, there were some black sheep amongst the licensed victuallers; but their business was a respectable one, and their munificence in charitable and pious benefactions was indisputable. Having said so much, he must express his regret that the licensed victuallers were opposing this Bill. It was admitted by everyone, that the gains of the publicans for three or four hours on Saturday night were gains taken away from the wives and families of the miserable men who could not resist the temptation of the public-house; and he thought it would have been a generous thing for the publicans to come forward and say that they were willing to have those gains reduced. Had they said that, their country would have thanked them. His hon. Friend the Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) thoroughly understood the case of the licensed victuallers, and, during the discussion on the Sunday Closing Bill, not a point escaped him. But a more lame opposition to a Bill was ever heard than that offered by his hon. Friend. Not that his hon. Friend was less able than usual, but that the facts he had to go on were so weak. His hon. Friend had referred to his own letter, and said that, as a matter of compromise, when the Sunday Closing Bill was passing through the House, he was willing to admit that Saturday night was preferable to Sunday for closing. But that did not seem to him (Mr. Meldon) the construction of the letter. The letter said—I cannot understand those who take so much interest in the Sunday Closing Bill, and who so persistently refuse to join in my efforts to restrict the hours of sale on Saturday.He called that strong evidence in support of the present measure.
§ MR. M. BROOKS
It is very inconvenient to read a part of a letter. My 1461 words have been printed over and over again. I said I would rather have a restriction on Saturday evenings than close the whole of Sunday.
§ MR. MELDON
thought that the words were hardly open to the construction that they were a compromise. Now, what had happened to make it less necessary now to close public-houses on Saturday night than it was in 1877? He could see no distinction between now and then. The working men who were opposed to the passing of the Sunday Closing Bill were not then aware that they would be called upon to oppose a Saturday Closing Bill, and what did they say? A deputation of working men of the trades of Dublin waited on the hon. Member for Drogheda (Dr. O'Leary), asking him to oppose the Sunday Closing Bill, and when asked what they thought of closing public-houses on Saturday night, they replied that they thought that if public-houses were closed at 7 o'clock on Saturday night, it would be a great advantage. It had been thrown in the teeth of the promoters of this Bill that they had been accusing their countrymen of drunkenness, and so forth. He was sorry to say that he must do so, and say that drunkenness in Ireland led to nine-tenths of the crime committed there. He was backed up in that by the representations of the Judges, magistrates, and clergy from one end of the country to the other, and he was not afraid to say in that House that drunkenness was the crime of Ireland, and that if drunkenness was done away with, all other crime would be swept away. The most rev. Dr. M'Cabe, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, when examined by the Committee, said he was opposed to Sunday closing, and expressed his opinion that the great evil to be met was Saturday night drinking, and that was his opinion now; yet they were told in the House that the leaders of the people were absent from this movement. He indignantly denied the charge, and said that the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland differed on the Sunday Closing Bill; they were unanimous on the Saturday Closing Bill; and as to drunkenness existing on Saturday night, Dr. M'Cabe, in his first pastoral, said—"The wasting plague of intemperance is hurrying thousands of our people 1462 annually into premature graves," and he called on all to save the individual members of the community, if they could. He did not quote that as having anything to do with Saturday night closing, but in answer to the taunts that had been used. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) had referred to riots, and to persons having been sent to gaol in consequence of the part they had taken in the disturbances; but the hon. Member's friends, the publicans, would have thanked him for omitting that portion of his speech, for the persons who were sent to gaol for committing riots were publicans themselves, or persons connected with the trade, who had been guilty of violent and riotous conduct in trying to upset meetings hold in favour of this measure the backbone of the opposition was the great meeting of 20,000 persons held in Phoenix Park, in opposition to this Bill. From beginning to end that was a publicans' meeting, and the only grounds put forward of resisting the Bill was that it would interfere with the publicans' business. The meeting was called, he believed, by requisition the chairman was Mr. O'Connor, president of the Victuallers' Association, and a number of trade delegates took part in the meeting. He was referring to the report in The Free-Man's Journal. Mr. O'Connor charged Mr. A. M. Sullivan, Mr. Meldon, and Mr. O'Connor Power with not advancing Home Rule in the way in which they were at present treating people. Mr. O'Connor spoke of the assistance given by the publicans to Mr. O'Connell in his struggle for Emancipation, and said they were the men who supplied the sinews of war, and that the Home Rule Representatives could not carry Home Rule so long as they tried to confiscate the property of the vintners. That was the whole question. They were told to look to the publicans as the men who could supply the sinews of war, and exercise influence, and that the vintners were the men who carried elections, both Poor Law and others. That was the great point made in this great workmen's meeting. One would have thought that the chairman would have told the working men that they protested against their rights as being interfered with. The first speaker at the meeting went on in the same way. The burden of all the 1463 speeches at that meeting was not that any inconvenience would result to the working man. The question was as to how it would affect the publicans; and he appealed to anyone, whether the Petition presented from that meeting was not more the Petition of publicans than of working men? He would also wish to call attention to the evidence of a number of witnesses who were called before the Committee which sat last year, and the main points in all their statements was that they believed that the evils which at present existed would be met by earlier closing on Saturday. Therefore, he contended, that as the majority of the witnesses were taken from the ranks of the opponents to the Bill then under discussion, they had proved the necessity of some such measure as the present out of their own mouths. He wished to call the attention of the House to the fact, that the number of drunken cases in Dublin on Saturday night was so great, that orders had been given to the police to abstain from making arrests, except where it was absolutely necessary, and this was on account of the want of accommodation. They had demonstrated that a large portion of the wages of the working classes went into the tills of the publicans within a few hours from the time they received them. They spent their money in drink instead of purchasing the necessaries of life for their wives and families; and he appealed to the patriotism of the publicans themselves to give assistance in the removal of temptations from the path of those who had money in their pockets, and who were liable to spend it in drink. The whole question was one between the trade and this House. The opponents of the Bill admitted it principle; he, therefore, strongly urged on the House to pass the second reading of the Bill, and any matters of detail could be easily agreed to afterwards. The supporters of the measure were quite willing to meet their opponents, and make any concessions which would render it a just and reasonable Act. All that they asked was that the temptation to drink should be removed from the paths of those who, when they had money in their pockets, could not resist the temptation to spend it.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, that, as an Irish Member interested in the wel- 1464 fare of the Irish people, and most anxious to promote the cause of Temperance amongst them, he was really sorry that this Bill had been brought before the House at this present moment. It was altogether inopportune. When the Sunday Closing measure was introduced last year, he stated that he agreed with a great deal in the Bill, and that if it were proposed as a temporary measure he would not oppose it, but, on the contrary, go with the proposers of it. The argument that was used against him was, that if the Sunday Closing Bill were passed as a temporary measure, there would be an immediate agitation got up in favour of its repeal. The Sunday Closing Bill had been passed as a temporary measure; and he allowed—a fact he was glad to allow—that it had done an infinity of good for Ireland. In every part of the country with which he was acquainted, he had heard that its benefits had been incalculable, and he had not seen an agitation raised for its repeal. The only agitation got up since the passing of that Bill was an attempt to close public-houses on Saturday nights. He knew there was a great deal to be said in favour of the early closing of public-houses on Saturday; but at the present moment there was a great feeling of irritation on the subject, notably amongst the publicans. That was natural, for they were a body of men who had great vested interests and a large amount of capital employed in their trade, and to pass a new Bill suddenly to further reduce their hours would be to strike a blow—a fatal blow—to a great number of honest and respectable men. Publicans were not all necessarily sinners; and it was on their behalf that he would plead for delay. Do let them rest a little. There was another point with regard to the Sunday Closing Act. The publicans in many parts of Ireland held only six-days licences, and now this Bill proposed to take away the best part of one of those six days. It was not to be wondered at that meetings to protest against the Bill were being held all over the country, and a spirit of acrimony introduced which was absent in the agitation against the Sunday Act. As a friend of this Bill, he was sorry it had been brought forward this year, and he was certain the movement would be retarded two or three years by this precipitate action. Then, the people 1465 who gave evidence before the Committee, and whose opinions had been quoted by hon. Members, did not propose to close the houses at 6 o'clock, but 8 o'clock. This Bill, if passed, would irritate a large section of the Irish people. For instance, many young men who lived in lodging-houses in the large towns went to theatres on Saturday evenings, and if the public-houses were closed early they would be unable to get reasonable refreshments, or they would be driven to she been houses, which would be a great evil. He was afraid such a measure, if put into force at the present time, would lead to serious disturbances. With regard to the allusion of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) to the sale of drink in shops where food and necessary articles were obtained, that was a question which he should like to see the hon. and learned Member grapple, as it was a serious one. He thought drink should not be allowed to be sold in those shops, as in that way temptation to drink was frequently put in the way of men, women, and even children. He did not wish to throw obstruction in the way of legislation that would promote sobriety; but he did ask the hon. and learned Member for Louth to exercise a little judgment and discretion, and not press this movement too far, to the detriment and injury of honest and deserving publicans.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he wished to call attention to what was rather a remarkable circumstance, and which was, he thought, connected with the Bill—namely, the total absence of every hon. Member on the Government Benches. A discussion on an important Bill had been going on for some three or four hours, and during the whole course of that time there had been no Member of the Government present connected by official ties with Ireland. He did not intend to occupy much time, as he hoped the House would be allowed to go to a Division on the question; but the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. King-Harman) had spoken as if the public were made for the publicans and not the publicans for the public. His argument came to this, that because a particular trade might be interfered with by the proposals which would benefit the public, that, therefore, nothing ought to be done. He would ask what was the 1466 origin of having licensed traders at all? Why were publicans licensed, if not in order to promote temperance? Were not licences granted to sell drink in order to promote temperance and to prevent intemperance, and, in consequence of that, the body of traders called publicans had arisen? Therefore, he contended that if it could be shown that by the adoption of certain hours temperance would be promoted, no class had a right to say, "Those hours could not be altered to suit the public necessity, because it will interfere with us." That was the whole of the argument of the hon. Member for Sligo. He did not deny that great evils arose from late drinking on Saturday night; and, though he (The O'Conor Don) did not go so far as to say that public-houses should be shut at 6 o'clock, he thought some reduction of hours would do good. Was that good not to be attained because a certain trade might possibly be interfered with? The Sunday Closing Act could have no possible effect on Saturday night drinking, and the opponents of that measure last year freely admitted the evils of Saturday drinking. If hon. Gentlemen asked him why the Bill now before the House was promoted, he would tell thorn that they themselves were greatly to blame for it. During the whole of the discussion on the Sunday Closing Bill last year, the opponents of that measure were constantly talking of the evils of Saturday night drinking, and suggesting that attention should be turned to that instead of the reduction of the hours of drinking on Sunday. If they wished to diminish the drunkenness of the country, and if that lesson had been learned, how could they consistently complain? They could not even, say that, having a Sunday Closing Act, there was no necessity for an Act to reduce the hours on Saturday. He contended that the agitation talked of was originated by the opponents of the Sunday Closing Bill, and the knowledge of the subject was mainly attained from the witnesses of the Committee on the Sunday Closing Bill. He wished to point out, specially, that the passing of the Bill affecting the sale of liquors on Sunday did not at all affect the sale on Saturday. The evils of the sale of drink on Saturday existed now just as much as they did before the passing of the Act of last year, and he thought it was the duty of Her Majesty's 1467 Government to endeavour to remove them, while the interests of a particular trade ought not to be allowed to stand in the way of that which was for the benefit of the public generally, especially when the trade was created for the public benefit only. When debates took place on the subject last year on the Sunday Closing Bill many prophecies were made of the evils which would result from that Act. He was much struck with the fact that, in the speeches made against the present Bill, they had heard nothing of the fulfilment of those prophecies of evil. Not one word had been uttered about the evil effects which had arisen from the Sunday Act, and the only reference which was made to the Act was in the speech of the hon. Member for Sligo, who admitted that from every part of the country he heard nothing but praises of the Act and declarations of its success. That was a very remarkable fact, and ought to encourage them to pass other measures in the same direction; while as to the prophecy of illicit drinking, etc., he did not think, after the results of the Sunday Closing Act, they would receive much attention. He would only say a word more as to the distinction which existed between the large and the small towns. It was suggested that in the small towns the sale of drink should be permitted to a later hour; but he thought it would be much better, if possible, to have the sale of intoxicating liquors and the sale of other commodities kept entirely separate. He could hardly support the proposition to close the public-houses at so early an hour as 6 o'clock. He had himself heard persons going home at 11 or 12 o'clock on Saturday nights, screaming drunk, men who, if the public-houses had been closed at an earlier hour, would have returned to their homes, but who were unable to resist the temptation of the public-houses. If they removed that temptation, the class of men to whom he referred would not spend their week's maintenance in the manner in which they did. He was much in favour of closing public-houses two hours earlier than at present, but further than that he did not think it advisable at present to go. In conclusion, he wished to say that he did not regard this at all as a Bill which should be looked at from a trade aspect. He de- 1468 clared, on his part, that he had no hostility to the trade, and he should not bring in a Bill simply for the purpose of interfering with its operations; but he held that the objects of this Bill, like the objects of the Bill of last year, were to promote temperance; and, while he should be sorry to interfere with the operations of legitimate traders, yet if it so happened that the public good required that their operations should be interfered with, he could not prevent it. He was sorry that it should be so, but he had no doubt that the exertions and capital now employed in the trade might be profitably employed in another way. Regretting that the Bill should interfere with them, but believing that the public good must be the first object, and believing that the public good would be promoted by the Bill, he should certainly support the Motion for the second reading if it was carried to a Division.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
, in rising to oppose the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth, said, he did so, because he believed it to be one of the most unreasonable propositions ever brought before the House. What was it the House was asked to do by this Bill? They were called on to close the houses where the working classes resorted, not at 9 or 10 o'clock on Saturday evenings, but at 6 o'clock in the evening, or about an hour before many of them returned from their work. He would ask the House to consider for a moment the position in which this would place the poor class in Ireland, if passed into law. His hon. and learned Friend might say he did not require the business places in the country to be closed until 8 o'clock—that the 6 o'clock hour should be only applied to five large cities and towns. Well, he would take the country districts as the most favoured portion of the country regarding this Bill. Just see what the position of the working man and his family would be, even in those favoured districts. To his certain knowledge, many of these poor people did not leave their work on Saturday evenings until 7 o'clock. Then they had to go to the office for their wages; after that, many of them had to walk a mile or more to their homes; then by the time they had partaken of their scanty supper, which on many occasions had to be prepared, and sometimes purchased, after they returned home, it 1469 would be more than 8 o'clock. Thus, when they left their homes to buy provisions for Sunday and Monday morning, the houses where they could provide those necessaries were all closed, as the public-houses in Ireland sold tea and sugar, butter, eggs, and bacon—in fact, everything to accommodate the working classes; as the majority of public-houses in Ireland could not support themselves if they did not combine other businesses with the sale of drink. Then, again, he would ask this House to recollect that this Bill, like its twin sister, the Sunday Closing Bill, was class legislation of the very worst kind, for it only affected the poor and struggling class of society. He would wish to remind the House that it was only a very short time since an attempt was made to extend the franchise to some of the people which this Bill affected, and which extension was rejected by a majority of the House. While they refused a certain class of householders in England, Ireland, and Scotland, any right to a voice in electing Members of Parliament, at the very same time they were curtailing the rights and liberties of those same people by such Bills as the one before the House. Then, see what the effect of shortening of the hours in Dublin and the other large cities and towns in Ireland had been since the passing of the Sunday Closing Act. The death-rate in those cities and towns had increased enormously, and that increase could not be traced to any other cause but early closing on Sundays, as the working classes, when turned out of the respectable public-houses when they wanted more drink, resorted to the she been houses, where they got a composition of drink that poisoned them. The hon. and learned Member for Louth had referred to the meetings hold in Dublin, and he would also refer to them for a different purpose. The hon. and learned Member had said that it was of the publicans he had spoken at the meeting in the Phœnix Park; but the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and the other opponents of the meeting, had admitted that 10,000 persons were present at the meeting; and as there was not more than 700 publicans in Dublin, how could it be said that they were all the men of a meeting composed of 10,000 persons? He maintained that the meeting was got up by working men, and was attended by 1470 working men; and he challenged his hon. and learned Friend to show that a single member of the trade had canvassed either for signatures to the movement from that meeting or for attendance at it. No doubt, the trade had canvassed; but it was for a meeting of the trade which was held at 3 o'clock on that afternoon, and which the working-classes did not attend. At the meeting in the Phœnix Park, the first resolution was moved and seconded by working men. It declared their determination to resist by every means further interference with their social habits and customs until they were in possession of the franchise. That resolution was proposed by a cooper. [Laughter.] They might laugh at coopers, but coopers were the principle trade in the country, because they made the firkins that brought over the flutter. The second resolution declared that the working classes regarded coercive legislation of the kind as a positive degradation, inasmuch as it was based on the slanderous assumption that they were so fond of drink that they could not regulate their own habits and conduct. These resolutions were proposed and seconded by working men to whom the House had denied the liberty that was granted to other classes. He could enter into other arguments to show that this was a piece of class legislation, but he would not do so, because he did not wish to talk the Bill out. He should prefer to have a Division which would show that the tone of the House, as well as of Ireland, was against the measure, and those who wanted to deprive the working classes of Ireland of the little liberty they enjoyed would see that they could not pass whatever measure they liked.
§ DR. O'LEARY
said, he had listened with interest, but not with pleasure, to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Louth first alluded to the public meeting that had taken place, and had said a good deal in answer to attacks made on himself, but he did not say much about the principle of the Bill. The hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) had observed that this had been treated too much as a retail spirit question, and that too little had been said about those whom it would affect. This reminded him of a recent case in which, while a 1471 question arose and was argued at great length about the admission of some medical evidence, the poor plaintiff was left standing in the box. At last the Judge suggested that something should be said about the poor plaintiff. Well, he thought that something should now be said about the poor plaintiff—that was, the people who would be affected by this Bill. This Bill was a Saturday Night Closing Bill, but the facts on which it was supported were facts collected in reference to a Sunday Closing Bill. Its introduction was a violation of the tacit understanding arrived at last Session, that if the Sunday Closing Bill was allowed to pass there should for a time be no further attempt to legislate with respect to the liquor traffic. The Bill was inopportune. The hon. Member for Roscommon had told them that they had not heard a single word about the fulfilment of the prophecies of evil from the operation of the Sunday Closing Bill which they heard when the Bill was under discussion last year. But he denied that the operation of the Act had been satisfactory. He could give a few practical illustrations of the way that Act had affected the rural population of Ireland. Just outside Drogheda, about three miles two perches distant, was a small village called Ballyhaire, with one public-house. Before the Sunday Closing Act was passed the proprietor of that house did a very small business on Sundays, but now he had a very extensive trade. In Drogheda itself there were on the average one or two cases of drunkenness on Sundays out of a population of from 16,000 to 18,000 persons. These sober people, principally artizans, now flocked by hundreds to Ballyhaire, and the young men made Sunday a regular gala day, driving from Drogheda in cars and besieging the little public-house at the adjacent village, where they demanded drink as bonâ fide travellers. It was a fact, that now every Sunday evening cars in great numbers were to be seen returning to Drogheda full of drunken people, some of them so blind drunk that they had to be tied to the cars to prevent them falling off. The publican sold a great amount of liquor, and had already doubled his prices. Then there was the small fishing village of Mornington, just opposite Ballyhaire, which, before the passing of the Sunday Act, was a nice quiet place. Their 1472 public-house was closed up, and so the people crossed over the river Boyne in boats to get drunk in Ballyhaire. They did this as much as anything to show their sense of the injustice of the Act. He could give another instance of the working of the Act. A merchant in Dublin, whose family was out of town, met a friend from the country on Sunday and asked him to dine with him. The friend agreed, and then the merchant remembered that his family were away, and proposed to dine at Morrison's Hotel at 7 o'clock. The friend said that would suit him better. Seven o'clock came, and these two gentlemen proceeded to dine in a private room at the hotel. Dinner was announced, and they asked for wine. The waiter informed them that in consequence of the Sunday Closing Act they could have no wine with their dinner. They were dining—that was eating—at a legitimate hour, and they were doing a legitimate thing, but they were told they could not have a glass of wine because the law said they were very likely to get drunk. The gentlemen, who had supported the Act, were furious, and could not believe it contained such a provision. There had been a considerable change in public opinion since the Sunday Act was passed. He need not refer to the hon. Member for Newry (Mr. W. Whitworth) who supported the Sunday Bill, and was never absent from his place whenever it came before the House; but that hon. Member did not support the present Bill. On the contrary, that hon. Member declared it to be ill-timed and inopportune and a dangerous Bill. Indeed, he (Dr. O'Leary) believed he said it was a mischievous measure, and calculated to destroy the balance of trade. That looked as if the hon. Member was deserting the sinking ship. As to the public meetings held against the Bill, a number of men waited upon him, saying that they represented 25,000 to 30,000 artizans, and asked him to preside at a public meeting. He told them two meetings had already been held, but they replied that those two meetings consisted of the upper classes, and they wished to express their own opinions, as the Bill especially affected them. He then consented to take the chair, and the Rotundo was crowded with working men. He never saw a more orderly meeting, and the whole thing was arranged by 1473 the men themselves. In opening that meeting, he inquired if he understood rightly that they were artizans who wished to protest against the Bill, and they gave their answer in one loud and continuous cheer. There were 20,000 men at that meeting, and they sent their protest to Parliament against this Bill. He did not like to hear hon. Members assert there was something about Irishmen, some such want of mental power on the part of his countrymen on the other side of the water, or such want of temperance that it was necessary to legislate for them in a different manner than they did in regard to England. The charge was as unfair and ungenerous as it was unfounded. He had heard about the cracks of a shillelagh reaching that House; but he was not certain that shillelaghs were now used at all, but was perfectly well aware that the term shillelagh was used to the discredit of the Irish people. He condemned, the use of it, and repudiated the application. He was quite sure that a great deal of the testimony adduced in favour of the Bill would never have been given after the passing of the Sunday Closing Bill. When that Bill was under discussion, he was certainly of opinion that it was wrong in principle, and that if such an experiment was to be tried it should be to close earlier on Saturday night rather than on Sunday. But the passing of the Sunday Bill had altered all that. Besides, while the Bill proposed to close at 6 o'clock, there existed the most varied views on the part of its supporters in regard to what hour it should be. Some said 9, some 10, and some half-past 10. He was sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Kildare should advocate the Bill on the ground that the Irish people were pre-eminently a drunken people.
§ MR. MELDON
If the hon. Member is quoting my words, he is wrong. What I stated was that drunkenness was (he crime of the Irish, and that when drunkenness was removed nine-tenths of the crime of Ireland would be removed with it.
§ DR. O'LEARY
said, he gladly accepted the hon. Member's repudiation of that expression, because it was an excellent argument in favour of the view he himself held.
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member for Drogheda that it was usual to accept the statement of an hon. Member when he declared that he had not used the language which was imputed to him.
§ DR. O'LEARY
replied, that the first words he said were, he was glad the hon. and learned Member repudiated the expression, and immediately the hon. and learned Member took exception to the remark. He might add, in conclusion, that he had good reason for knowing that the measure was thoroughly unacceptable to the people of Ireland, and he considered the renewed agitation of that question at the present time was inexpedient and ill-advised. He thought it would do a great amount of injury, and that the sooner a plaister was applied to it the better.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
said, if the question that was being discussed was one between Saturday night and Sunday, he might be in favour of Saturday; but they found that the promoters of the present Bill were those who supported the Sunday Closing Bill. They remembered the long debates on that measure, and he believed he was right in saying that there was an understanding that the measure should be fairly tried, and that, in the meantime, there should be a rest from agitation in order to observe its effects. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) did not ask the House to reject the Bill altogether, but only that the House should pause before entering upon legislation based upon evidence all of which was in their possession last year when the Sunday Closing Bill was passed. As he said before, he should certainly have adopted Saturday instead of Sunday as a day upon which it was necessary to limit the sale of liquor; but Sunday had been adopted as an experiment, and it was quite unusual that, without a single new fact before them, they should be asked to legislate. He was far from saying that the interest of the publican should be considered before the general interest of the country; but he thought it was very difficult to discover what was the general opinion of the country on this question. If the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. King-Harman) was right, there had been a great diminution of Sunday drinking since the passing of the Bill, and many drunkards had been reclaimed. 1475 Let them fairly test the measure before embarking in further legislation, which must lead to a considerable expression of feeling. He did not profess to have examined the question himself with any great minuteness. He had certainly read the speeches of public men on both sides, and he must say that he did not derive much information from either one side or the other. On one side they appeared to be chiefly composed of attacks on the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), and on the other side there appeared to be a strong tendency to attack the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan). Now, neither of these matters had anything to do with the measure whatever. It appeared to him that the House had been asked to choose between this measure and another, and it was scarcely right now to renew the struggle. There was certainly no breach of faith in renewing it, because there was no compact; but the Bill was passed for four years, and he thought there was an understanding to allow it a fair trial in a period of calm. With regard to the Bill itself, he would point out that whilst Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and the principal towns were exempt from the Sunday Closing Bill, if this measure passed they would be more severely dealt with, with reference to Saturday closing, than the rural districts. Further than that, he had noticed that the promoters of this measure were not agreed either in regard to its partial application or the degree to which the hours should be limited. The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) did not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Louth. It was a fair argument to say that what influenced the hon. Member for Roscommon to disagree with the hon. and learned Member for Louth might influence the House to say it would not pass a measure in regard to which there was such a difference of opinion. From what the hon. Member for Drogheda (Dr. O'Leary) had said, it would appear that the working of the Sunday Closing Act was not so satisfactory as its friends asserted; but all this only showed the necessity of taking time in order to see clearly how it really worked before they attempted any further experiment, and, therefore, he should certainly support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin.
§ MR. B. WHITWORTH
knew a great deal more than the hon. Member for Drogheda (Dr. O'Leary) did of the young men of Drogheda, and he believed they would not be flattered at the description which the hon. Gentleman had given of them. He said that 100 cars had been seen coming back from Baltray to Drogheda, laden with young men, some of them tied to the car. He believed that the statement had been exaggerated at least tenfold, and that those who informed the hon. Member had been playing a practical joke upon him. His desire was that this Bill should be passed in the interest of the people at large. He could safely say, from his knowledge of Ireland, that there was no real opposition from anybody there, except from those who were interested in the liquor traffic—namely, the publicans. His great desire was that Ireland should be a manufacturing country, and he believed nothing would tend so much to bring about that desirable object as to make them sober people. He was convinced that the passing of the Sunday Closing Bill had done much to bring that object about. If they could only accomplish the objects they had in view in promoting this Bill, a great deal of good would be done. The testimony of Judges, and other eminent authorities, was very clearly in support of a further restriction in the hours during which drink could be obtained. He doubted whether anyone could name a place where bad results had followed from the restrictions already imposed; and he expressed the opinion that if Ireland was polled tomorrow, three-fourths or four-fifths of the people would support the Bill now before the House. ["No, no!"] He would personally go considerably further than the hon. and learned Member for Louth; but he admitted that public opinion was not ripe for his proposals. In regard to Sunday closing, Ireland was perfectly unanimous; and he believed the reason why this Bill should be confined to Ireland was that in that country they were far more enlightened upon the question than they were in England, and he had no doubt that Ireland would be the pioneer of temperance, and that the legislation thus applied to Ireland would soon be followed in England,
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he could neither support the Bill before the House nor the Amendment which had been moved. He believed the best way to prevent acrimony in Ireland upon this question was to meet the second reading boldly and at once with a direct negative. The promoters of the Bill, in professing to be willing to accept changes in the hours fixed for closing, claimed that they were offering a compromise. But when compromises were offered during the debates on the Sunday Closing Bill, no concessions would be made by the promoters of that Bill. Now, however, when they found the people and the country so determinedly opposed to them, they were willing to come forward and offer concessions and compromises. They should not try any more shave-beggar legislation on Ireland. He asked why the Bill should only apply to Ireland? Why should they not legislate for England, because she required it? According to the evidence of Mr. Russell, at a meeting at Dublin, the consumption of drink was still going on in England, and drunkenness had not diminished. If that were so, why should they limit such a Bill as this to Ireland? He objected to the evidence which had been given by Mr. Woodlock, who said that, according to the Dublin police, there was a great amount of drunkenness in Dublin. He could only say that Mr. Woodlock did not get his information from any of the police authorities; and he only hoped that that gentleman, for the sake of his own character, would state his authority. Mr. Woodlock's statement reminded him of the story told by Archdeacon Tierney of one of his curates, who said that the little boys in Drogheda who could neither talk nor speak went about the streets cursing and swearing. The only reliable evidence given by Mr. Woodlock was when he admitted that he could not speak for the artizan classes, as he did not know what their feelings were on the subject. The Lords' Committee had examined two M.P.s, two J.P.s, the Divisional Magistrate, the Resident Magistrate, the sub-Inspector, the Commissioner of Police, two Agents of the Alliance Party, and one official of the Vintners, and a nondescript kind of professional man, an attorney and Crown Solicitor, who was a barrister. He must also complain of the intemperance of the language used, 1478 especially by ministers of religion; for instance, the Rev. Mr. Berkeley, Presbyterian Minister, of Belfast, compared the Sunday Closing Bill in regard to the Saturday Early Closing Bill to John the Baptist in the Gospel, who was the forerunner of Christ himself. He certainly thought that the personal attacks complained of had net been confined to the hon. and learned Member for Louth. He (Mr. Callan) had been charged with having his hand in the Treasury pocket. He was sorry to say his pocket was a very empty one at present. The hon. and learned Member for Louth had presented quite a number of Petitions in favour of the Bill from Presbyterian bodies and others in the North of Ireland, and had quoted largely the opinions of officials; but he had not presented one single Petition from the constituents he represented in favour of the Bill. He (Mr. Callan), on the contrary, had that day presented Petitions from every district of the County of Louth against the Bill, signed by the hon. and learned Member's constituents. The letters he had received from some of the most influential electors in that county sharply condemned the Bill, and one asked if they were savages that they should be shut up in the manner proposed? Amongst others, there was one from Mr. O'Connor, of Carlingford, to the effect that the people of Carlingford and Cooly were quite opposed to the Saturday Earty Closing Bill, as it would seriously affect that district, all publicans being also in the grocery and provision trade. For four or live months of the year there were more than 200 boats engaged in the herring fishery, and Saturday evening was the only evening in the week they remained on shore for the purpose of getting their provisions for the week, &c. Some of these boats could not get into harbour until late in the evening, and all would be inconvenienced, as the publicans and grocers sold every kind of goods from a "nail to an anchor." He had also received a letter from Annagasson, and one from Mr. Curtis, of Drogheda, who wrote that as one wholly unconnected with the liquor traffic, a total abstainer, and a firm believer in the Sunday Closing Bill, he felt constrained to come to the conclusion that the Saturday Early Closing Bill would be a serious hurt and inconvenience to the working classes, a large 1479 proportion of whom were paid after 6 o'clock. Another and not inconsiderable portion of the working classes, artizans who were employed at piece-work, were paid at a much later hour, sometimes not till after 9 o'clock. As a proof of this, butchers and provisions dealers, who closed on other evenings at 8 o'clock, kept open until after 10 o'clock on Saturday nights. He asserted that the feeling in Louth would have been more strongly expressed, if the hon. and learned Member had not, in February last, written a letter to the Freeman's Journal, to which he was compelled to direct attention, because it was not very creditable to the character of the hon. and learned Member. He said the Bill would only apply to the five large towns of Ireland to which total Sunday closing did not apply. [Mr. SULLIVAN dissented.] He (Mr. Callan) had before him the Bill of 1877 brought in by the hon. and learned Member, and so far from it only applying to the five towns as had been stated by him, it certainly was made to apply to the whole of Ireland, the provision being that all public-houses should be closed at 7 o'clock. A leader was also based upon that letter in the organ of the hon. and learned Member, and he must say he was very much surprised that such a letter should have been written in face of the fact that both the Bill of 1877 and the present Bill applied to the whole of Ireland.
It being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.