§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Whatever may be thought of the Resolution which I have now the honour to propose to the House, I do not suppose that there can be two opinions as to the importance of the question with which it proposes to deal. Of course, as the House knows, the evil that I attack is the great evil of the enormous quantity of intoxicating drink which is consumed by the people of the country—an evil which works to the detriment of the community at large. Everybody admits the evil, and I am afraid that none of us can get up and say that that evil has been very greatly diminished of late. Indeed, I think it is more than doubtful whether, in spite of the efforts that have been made to effect a diminution of that evil, it is not as great now as it has been 633 at any previous time of our history. I need not detain the House long with statistics on the subject, for we all know pretty well that the greater part of our crime arises from intoxication. Apart from the serious crimes, we know that an enormous number of people are arrested in this country every year simply and solely for intoxication. The last year for which I have got Returns I see that about 350,000 people were arrested by the police for drunkenness. That, however, shows nothing like the intoxication prevailing in the country. It appears to me that this evil of intoxication arises simply and solely from the consumption of drink. [Laughter.] That is an assertion which no one will dispute, and what test have we as to the amount the people have consumed? Now, I was reading only this morning in a paper somebody sent me the words of a very old advocate of temperance in this country, Mr. Joseph Livesey—and I am glad to quote him, because my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) has often quoted him when he has spoken in this House. Mr. Livesey has advocated temperance all his life; and the other day, speaking to a meeting at Preston, he said he did not think we were making much progress, and added—"When the Chancellor of the Exchequer brings oat his yearly account, I am always checked by that." He concluded that the endeavours to promote temperance have not been very successful, especially when we find from the yearly account that the consumption of drink was on the increase. Now, fortunately, this morning, in The Times newspaper, we had a short statement from a gentleman who had taken great interest in this matter. This statement showed the amount of drink consumed in the country. It appears that £142,000,000 is spent every year in intoxicating drink; and, strange to say, the gentleman has found, by great and accurate inquiry, that in the year 1878—that year of bad trade, bad times, banks breaking, strikes, people starving, relief committees all over the country—in that year we had, as a nation, spent, instead of less upon intoxicating drink, £181,000 more than in the preceding year. Stranger still, there had been an increase in the consumption of beer and a decrease in the other kinds of drink, showing that the in- 634 creased quantity of liquor had probably been consumed by the working classes, who we were told were in so much distress. I believe Lord Aberdare was perfectly right when he said the other day that, notwithstanding all that had been done during the last 10 years to promote temperance, both by legislative and non-legislative action, intoxication is worse now than it was 10 years ago. My doctrine has always been, and still is, that as you increase the facilities you increase the consumption, and as you increase the consumption you increase the amount of intemperance; and I am very glad to think that all these people who have been advocating temperance so laudably for so many years are beginning to come to that conclusion. Again, I will quote Mr. Livesey, for the sake of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse). Mr. Livesey said a short time ago—What simpletons we are to sit here on the platform of the Temperance Hall in Preston singing about winning the day, when there are 400 houses in this town retailing drink.Of course, he spoke common sense there. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds agrees with me. Now, Sir, in proposing this Resolution—which I hope may form the basis for some satisfactory settlement of this great evil—I think I ought to prove two things: first, that the statements contained in the Resolution are true; and, secondly, that it is desirable to affirm them by vote. I have seen it stated that I am not correct in saying that it was the ancient practice, the ancient design of licensing, that the houses should be licensed for the benefit of the community. Now I think I am right; because if we go back—and I must to prove that it is ancient—if we go back to the year 1495—and surely that is far enough— we find that this licensing system was first mentioned, and curiously enough it was mentioned again in 1504, in an Act concerning vagabonds, an exact reproduction of the Act passed in the year 1495 (11 Henry VII., c. 2). This Act states—And that it be lawefull to ij (two) of the Justices of the Peace where of oon shalbe of the quorum within their auctorite to rejecte and put awey comen ale sellying in townes and places where they shall thynk convenient, and to take suerties of the kepers of ale howses of their gode behavyng by the discression of the 635 seid Justices, and in the same to be advysed and agreed at the time of their sessions.Another Act of Parliament passed in 1552 said—Forasmuche as intolerable hurtes and trobles to the Common Wealthe of this Realme dothe daylie growe and encrease throughe such abuses and disorders as are had and used in commen Alehouses and other houses called Tiplinge houses. It ys therefore enacted by the Kinge our Soveraigne Lorde, withe thassent of the Lordes and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by thauctoritie of the same,That the Justices of Peace within everie shire, cittie, boroughe, toune, corporate franchese and libertie within this Realme or two of them at the lest whereof one of them to be of the quorum shall have full power and auctorite by vertue of this Acto within everie shire, cittie, boroughe, towne, corporate franchesse, and libertyo where they be Justices of Peace, to remove discharge, and putte awaye common sellinge of ale and here in the said common alehouses and tiplinge houses in such towne or townes and places where they shall thinck mete and convenyent:And that none after the first daye (of Maye) next commynge shal he admytted or suffred to kepe any common alehouse or tiplinge house but such as shall be thereunto admytted and allowed in the open Sessions of the Peace or els by twoe Justices of the Peace whereof the one to be of the quorum.That shows that those Justices were only to license these places for the benefit of the community; and I think I have proved my case, that it was the ancient design that houses should be licensed for the benefit of the public. You see that in that Act of Parliament there was a power of restraining—the same power that I advocate in my Resolution. [Mr. WHEELHOUSE dissented.] My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds shakes his head; but surely the power to admit must imply a power to restrain. I have, I think, proved my point. The magistrates have possessed this power for hundreds of years; but I am not going to bring any charge against them; I am not going to bring a railing accusation against the Justices, and say that they have acted purposely to injure the public. I remember there was a right hon. Member of this House who used to go with me to meetings and make speeches against the drink traffic; and I thought I could always count upon his support; but upon one occasion I was disappointed. I asked him why he did not vote with me, and he said— "Why, in your speech, you did not pitch into the magistrates." That is not my line at all. I think the magistrates have 636 done the best they can; but, like any other human authority, they are liable to make mistakes. What I want is that no mistakes shall be allowed to occur to the injury of the public. I want to give a certain power to those for whose comfort licences were granted; I wish them to have the right to say whether the magistrates are right in granting licences or not. You may say that this is not necessary; but when such power as I am advocating has been exercised, has it not been productive of good? There are plenty of hon. and right hon. Members of this House who have exercised the power they possess as great landlords to restrain the sale of drink on their estates and in the neighbourhood of their property. They have exercised their influence in this direction to the greatest benefit of their friends and neighbours, and they have given very great satisfaction by doing so. Would it not be well that the same power which the accident of property gives to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen should also be intrusted to the people themselves, who are quite as much interested in this matter as are the great landowners? I think that if we had had this power, and it had been exercised during the last year or two, we should not have had all that distress we have had in the country. No one knows that better than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is not deluded by all those fallacies about injury to the Ro-venue. He knows that the policy which I am advocating would be the best for the country; for what did he say in bringing forward his Budget a year or two ago? He said, according to the report of his speech in The Times—I ask again, in what circumstances could it he expected that the consumption of spirits in this country would fall off to such an extent as seriously to injure the Revenue? It must be from one of two causes—either from some general failure of the consuming power of the people—from some failure in their ability to purchase spirits, the will remaining as it was—or from some great change in the habits of the people, inducing them to abandon the use of such enormous quantities of ardent spirits. If it were the former, it would tell upon all the sources of Revenue, just as well as upon that derived from spirits. But if the reduction of the Revenue derived from spirits he duo to the other cause, if it should be due to a material and considerable change in the habits of the people, and increasing habits of temperance and abstinence from the use of ardent spirits, I venture to say that the amount of wealth such a change 637 would bring to the nation would utterly throw? into the shade the amount of revenue that is now derived from the spirit duty, and we should not only see with satisfaction a diminution of the Revenue from such a cause, but we should find in various ways that the Exchequer would not suffer from the losses which it might sustain in that direction.Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was quite right. When this trade that I am talking about progresses, other trades suffer. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen read the accounts of the Licensed Victuallers' proceedings with the same diligence that I do; but if they do, they will see that recently a high festival was held at Burton—Burton-on-Trent, the great citadel of the brewing trade— and there they rejoiced greatly. They said—"It is true that the country has suffered, and that there is pauperism, and misery, and ruin all around; but here we are, all right; Burton is the one green spot in the desert of misery." Yes, it is true that this trade flourishes, not along with other trades, but it flourishes on other trades—in fact, it lives upon them. Great efforts have been made to restrain this trade within proper bounds; great efforts have been made by both Parties in this House; and when these efforts went on the right principle they have been eminently satisfactory. I say that when they have gone on the principle of local option, which I am advocating, these efforts have always, more or less, been successful. Sir George Grey brought in a Bill enacting that the sale of drink should stop from 1 o'clock in the morning, until 4 o'clock in the morning. Sir George Grey gave power, I think, to stop the sale in London by Imperial Act; but he gave power to municipal bodies to put that Act in force in their own localities if they pleased; he gave local option to those who represented the community. That Act was set in force in a very large number of towns in the country, with the best effect—so much so that when, a year or two after, I ventured in this House to propose the extension of the power contained in the Act to other elective bodies besides municipal councils, the House unanimously supported me, thus approving the power of local option. My hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, formerly the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), brought in a very useful Act, 638 before he was in Office—people do not bring in so many good measures when they are in Office. My hon. Friend saw the great evil of licences being granted to beershops without the magistrates having a veto power. When a man wanted a beer licence he went to the Excise, who granted him a licence, and the man was then enabled to carry on his trade. The hon. Gentleman said—"No, that is not right; the magistrates ought to have the power of vetoing the granting of these licences." Common sense characterised the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, and when he went to a Division he carried the whole House with him. Sir Robert Clifton and Mr. Harvey Lewis went into the Opposition Lobby, but had the pleasure of telling nobody at all. That is another instance of local option. We all remember the Bill of Mr. Bruce. Some Gentlemen on this side have very good cause to remember it, I believe. Mr. Bruce, in introducing his Bill in 1871, endorsed entirely the principle of the Resolution which I am now asking the House to adopt. If the House will allow me, I will read his words, because they are so apposite. He said—I have explained that I could not in any way accept as a solution of that question the Bill brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle. At the same time, I am bound to say, I think that measure contains a very valuable and wholesome principle, and that the principle of an appeal to the ratepayers on matters affecting their interests is one of which great use can be made. Over and above the fact that the ratepayers are the persons chiefly interested; that it is their comfort and convenience and not that of other people that they should be consulted; that they are the persons who bear the burden of all the crime and misery produced by the multiplication of those houses, and by their disorderly conduct— over and above these considerations there is another, and, in my view, a most important one— namely, the advantages of enlisting the minds and hearts and feelings of the people in the thorough consideration of that subject. Let us give the ratepayers a voice in that matter—let us give them the power in some way or other of deciding how far these houses shall exist among them, and we shall at once create a strong public opinion; we shall at once create among them that sort of feeling which, among the upper classes of society, has long made drunkenness disgraceful, which is also rapidly making it disgraceful among the working classes themselves, and which no longer permits them to call a mere sot a good fellow, or to look upon the offence of drunkenness as merely venial. I am satisfied, therefore, that if we are to create a wholesome and vigorous public opinion on that subject, we must give the ratepayers of the country some direct interest, and 639 that the wider spread that interest is the greater will be the social advantage.I think this is a vindication of my Resolution. But we have had other legislalion on the same principle. We have had the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. Why was that passed? The people of Scotland said—"We object to having this trade carried on amongst us on Sunday," and Parliament said—"Thisis a matter in which the people alone are interested, let them have local option." And that measure was carried; and it has been so popular in Scotland that there is not a single Scotch Member in the House of Commons—let him sit in what part of the House he may—who would vote for the repeal of that measure, even if it had the slightest chance of passing. I have another instance, more serious, and more important, and more telling. We all remember what struggles we had last year over the Irish Sunday Closing Bill. The Irish people wanted local option. Throughout Ireland there was the cry— "We wish to be spared the evils of the drinking trade on Sunday; we want the House of Commons to give us the opportunity of preventing these evils." And there were plenty of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in this House who did not believe for a moment that stopping the sale on Sunday would result in a great benefit to the people; but they said— "This is a matter which meets the wishes and wants of the Irish people, and we will vote for it on that ground, and on that ground alone." I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London is in his place or not; but I remember that that right hon. Gentleman said substantially in a letter which he wrote on the subject—"I do not approve of the Bill. I do not think it will do any good; but I vote for it because it is a matter which concerns the Irish people, and they desire it." Surely, Sir, this is a good example, and one which we can all look back to with pleasure. Last Session was not a very cheerful one; but there is one bright spot in it, and that is, that we conferred a boon upon Ireland. I will prove to you how it is a boon. The Licensed Victuallers held a meeting the other day in Ireland, and Mr. Lane, of Cork, said he had been informed that from one-third to one-half of their trade in his locality had been destroyed by the Sunday Closing Act. Well, can 640 anybody calculate what that means; can anybody conceive what benefit accrues to the nation if one-third to one-half of the publicans' business is stopped; can they conceive the increase of happiness and comfort in the homes of the working classes? I think that even the gallant band—"the Eleven of all Ireland"—who kept us up all through the night last Session, will rejoice with us at the benefit which has resulted to their country in consequence of the passing of the Sunday Closing Bill. We used to have an expression in this House last Session which was very familiar. Some of us used to say—"We are patriots first and Liberals afterwards." What I have to ask of the Eleven of Ireland is that they should be patriots first and publicans afterwards. Now, what I want to point out is that all these evidences of the benefit arising from the exercise of local option when employed to remove a great evil have attracted the attention of the people and created a great demand out-of-doors, that we should have some legislation passed on the same lines as that I am now advocating. Why, this House is counted out every night; no one takes any interest in its proceedings this Session, and look now how full it is. And yet there is no special reason why people should come down to-night. There is no new war announced since last week; probably no new war will be announced for another week. No, Mr. Speaker, the crowded House indicates the interest taken in this subject out-of-doors, and shows that there is no question in which the people of this country are more interested than the attempt to remove the evils which arise from the liquor traffic. What is to be done? Well, I hope we shall not be put off with any suggestions as to a Select Committee. We have had enough of them. If hon. Members chose to go into the Library they will find overwhelming evidence of the evils of the system which I am now attacking. Sir, as the House knows, I have made an effort for some years past to make a successful attack upon this system; for I thought—as I have often told the House—that it is a great injustice that this sale of drink, for the benefit of those who sell it, should be forced upon the people of those localities who do not wish to have it, and do not wish to suffer from the evils which it introduces. 641 I endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to meet the evil by that Bill, which got the name of the "Permissive Bill," somehow or other. I do not know why it should get that name, for there are innumerable Bills introduced of a permissive character; but I said in that Bill, let the people be allowed to give instructions to the magistrates as to how to use their restraining power. I did not want to interfere with the licensing authority in any way. I only said— "Systematically let them know what the wants of the community are. They are bound to consider these wants, but they have no accurate means of knowing them; let the people be allowed to inform the magistrates of their wishes, and then let the licensing authority act upon the information given them." Well, Sir, people said that was not right. Good friends of mine told me I did not go far enough, for I gave the people power to do only one thing; whereas, they ought to have power to do many things to regulate the trade. I did not see my way to bring in a Bill of that kind, for I did not want to pass a vote of want of confidence in the magistrates; I only wanted to pass a vote of confidence in the people themselves. Many hon. Members had brought in Bills bearing on the subject. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) brought in a Bill for appointing Licensing Boards; the hon. Baronet the Member for Fife (Sir Robert Anstruther) brought in a Bill of the kind for Scotland; the hon. Member for Staffordshire desired, by a Bill, to give local option to the magistrates in respect of grocers' licences; and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), in a most able speech, brought forward an elaborate scheme for getting the working of public-houses into the hands of municipalities. All these propositions had something good in them; but none of them touched the point I wish to insist upon—namely, that you should not licence if the people do not want a licence. My Bill was intended solely for those places—be they many or few—where the people did not desire licences; and I felt that if any other of the schemes proposed answered—if they reduced the evil and made the licensing system a blessing instead of a curse—my Bill, if passed, would, of course, be a dead letter, and I should be glad of it. If these schemes 642 would not answer, it is no reason why my Bill should not be tried. Well, Sir, as you know, the House differed from me, and, I am sorry to say, differed from me by very considerable majorities. I began to see if I could not find something by which I might harmonize the discordant views which were entertained on this matter; and I thought I might get a Resolution passed laying down the principle of local option, but leaving the details to be worked out and decided upon hereafter; and at the conclusion of last Session I gave a Notice which would enable me to move something of the kind I am moving to-night. Sir, I found a Resolution which I thought would suit the case in the Report of a Committee of Convocation appointed to inquire into the state of intemperance some years ago, and now I have the honour of reading the Resolution to the House. What I wish to move, Mr. Speaker, is this—That, inasmuch as the ancient and avowed object of licensing the sale of intoxicating liquor is to supply a supposed public want without detriment to the public welfare, this House is of opinion that the legal power of restraining the issue or renewal of licences should be placed in the hands of the persons most deeply interested and affected—namely, the inhabitants themselves—who are entitled to protection from the injurious consequences of the present system by some efficient measure of local option.I have had a good many inquiries made to me in the Lobby and elsewhere as to the meaning of this Resolution. It appears to me that the meaning is so clear that in an intelligent House like this it is hardly necessary for me to make any explanation; but I will do my best to explain it if there is a difficulty. What I mean by it is this—that in legislating on this subject it is necessary to make the desires and interests of the public superior to the desires and interests of the trader engaged. That is the principle of my Resolution; and if hon. Members do not think that clear enough, take what The Times says in a very able article this morning. Alluding to my Resolution, The Times said—"The words are wide enough to include the 'Permissive Bill.'" I admit that freely and fully—in fact, I would not propose my Resolution if they did not. Then, The Times goes on to say—"But they do not necessarily oblige any man to support this measure." The effect of 643 these words was that my Resolution includes the principle of my old measures, but leaves the details to be settled hereafter. Hon. Gentlemen are very suspicious. They go about the Lobby, and think I have a Permissive Bill concealed about my person. But I tell them they will not be pledged to the details of the Permissive Bill. I cannot speak more clearly than that. What were the details of the Bill? There is nothing about them in my Resolution. In my old Bill I proposed that we should have a trial of my system for three years, and then take a poll as to whether there should be a return to the old system. There is nothing about that in this Resolution. Then I laid down a certain mode of voting— namely, by papers, such as are used in the election of Guardians. Many people objected to that part of my Bill; but there is nothing about it in my Resolution. Then I took certain areas, or parishes, or boroughs; but there is nothing about these in my Resolution. Then there is the question of compensation. People say that the Permissive Bill did not provide for compensation. That is quite true, it did not; but it left it an open question, and so my Resolution leaves it an open question. If the House shall hereafter decide that, having given an enormus bonus to the sellers of drink to go into the drink trade, they should give them another enormous bonus to go out of it, they would be perfectly free to do so notwithstanding this Resolution. Let me re-assure hon. Gentlemen who are so timorous and suspicious about my intentions. Who is going to support this Resolution? I believe my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) will support it. I am quite sure he is not a reckless politician; and I think he objects to the Permissive Bill, yet he supports this Resolution. I believe, too, I shall have the pleasure of receiving the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). He, too, has often said distinctly and straightforwardly—as he says everything in this House—that he objects to the details of my Bill, and thinks them unwise; but he is quite able to support this Resolution, for he knows that the details are left open for future consideration. The Bishop of Peterborough, too, has expressed his hearty 644 concurrence in the Resolution, although he strongly opposes the Permissive Bill. Therefore, if anybody still thinks this Resolution is the Permissive Bill, I refer them to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. Well, Sir, I have said that out-of-doors this policy is approved; and I am very happy to find my Resolution so largely supported by the public. The greater part of the religious communities have passed resolutions in favour of this Motion. The Church of England Temperance Society, which is advocated by many hon. Gentlemen who are Members of this House, has given its warmest and heartiest support to it—indeed, there has hardly been a discordant note. Stay, there has been one, and that came from the Presbytery of the Established Church in Scotland. They held a rather curious meeting on this matter. They had endorsed this Resolution, the same as the Church of England Convocation had endorsed it some years ago. One gentleman in the meeting rose and said—"I propose that we petition in favour of the words of Sir Wilfrid Lawson." Thereupon up jumped a rev. gentleman and said—"No, that will never do. Sir Wilfrid Lawson is a Radical, and he has some designs of benefiting the Liberal Party." Now, that is a new charge to bring against the Radicals. We have been charged with breaking up the Liberal Party; but I never heard them charged with uniting it. There must be a great change in us. I cannot help being a Liberal; a man must be of some politics—unless he is a Home Ruler. But really, Sir, I think these Scotch clergymen must have forgotten themselves. I said just now that I hoped even the Irish Eleven had determined to be patriots first and publicans afterwards; but these clergymen in Edinburgh seemed to have resolved to be Tories first and Christians after. Surely they might have exercised a little more liberality. If it is suggested that this Resolution is to benefit the Liberal Party, I ask who is going to second my Motion? Why, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley); and I am sure he is as loyal and true, and as honest a Tory as you can find throughout this House—a gentleman respected by both sides of the House. Why, 14,000 clergy, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, 645 have approved of my Resolution. Now, are these 14,000 clergy coming over to the Liberal Party? I do not expect to live to see that day. I say, Sir, it would be more worthy of all of us, on a great question like this, involving the best interests, morality, and happiness of the great masses of the people, to put Party aside for a little space of time, and think only of the nation. But, Sir, I must also defend my Resolution as an abstract Resolution. I am quite aware that this House is not fond of abstract Resolutions. The hon. and learned Member for Leeds does not like abstract Resolutions; but he does not like Bills either. I am not in love with abstract Resolutions any more than he is; but there is a time for all things: and I want to point out that both Parties have on suitable occasions given their support to abstract Resolutions. We all remember the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) on the Irish Church. He commenced his attack upon that institution by passing a Resolution in this House, and that Resolution led, in subsequent years, to action. Take our hon. Friends on the other side of the House. In 1872, when the Liberals were in Office, the Gentlemen opposite brought forward a splendid Resolution, through the hon. Member for South Devonshire (Sir Massey Lopes), in favour of transferring certain local charges to the National Exchequer. They passed that as an abstract Resolution, which was the basis of their policy and on which they came into Office afterwards. Let us take an instance in which Party was not involved. The House will remember well that in 1876 Professor Smyth—who was very dear to many personal friends, and who, I believe, was respected by gentlemen on both sides of the House—brought in an abstract Resolution, showing that it was desirable that the sale of drink should be stopped in Ireland on Sunday, and that proposition was carried by a very considerable majority. It resulted, not long afterwards, in the House insisting that the principle laid down should be acted upon, and the Irish Sunday Closing Bill was adopted. Well, Sir, I must now trouble the House for one or two moments with a few observations on the Amendments which have been proposed to my Resolutions. It has occurred to me that if they were all put together we might 646 perhaps get a decent one out of them; but, as they stand now upon the Paper, I do not think they have much to do with the subject I put before the House. I will deal, first of all, with that of my old friend and opponent the hon. and learned Member for Leeds, with whom I have had many a tough battle, and with whom I shall have many more tough battles, and whom I shall conquer in the end. Now, I think it a very strange Amendment. Strange is a Parliamentary word. I might use a stronger word; but I should not like to hurt his feelings. I have no doubt he will give good reasons for it. I read all his speeches with great attention; and I find he has a motive, and a good motive, for everything he does in this House. He was addressing the annual dinner of the Yorkshire Brewers' Association the other day, and he said—"Beer, and hops, and Episcopacy are all very good in their way. Practically, a Member of Parliament will go in for neither one nor the other. In the performance of his duty he does not care very much for anything but the Bible." So I suppose that, by-and-bye, we shall have a Scriptural argument in favour of his Amendment. I was puzzled when I saw his Amendment, strange as it is, to think whom he can get to second it, and I ran over in mental review the whole list of my hon. Friends opposite; and I came to the conclusion that there was only one hon. Gentleman who had the ability to do justice to the Resolution in seconding it, and that was the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), and I shall be very much surprised if he does not rise to second the Amendment. Let me point out to the House that the Amendment has nothing to do with the Motion. My hon. and learned Friend objects to "any tribunal subject to periodical election by popular canvass and vote;" but instead of my Resolution dealing with any such tribunal, you may leave the licensing authorities exactly as they are. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman goes on to say that such tribunalsmight, and in all probability would, lead to repeated instances of turmoil, and thus be detrimental to the peace and quietude of every neighbourhood in England.Was there ever such a damaging Resolution to his own case brought forward by an hon. Member? Did he ever hear of people rioting because licences were 647 granted when they did not want them? It is possible that the hon. and learned Gentleman's own friends may make riots; hut I am surprised that such a good general as the hon. and learned Member is supposed to be should not have seen the disrepute into which he is bringing his own Party. Then my hon. and learned Friend objects to canvassing; but is he not aware that there is a great deal of canvassing at the present time? Is he not aware that when there is a job to be done, when a licence is wanted, the magistrates are whipped up from all parts of the country? Did my hon. and learned Friend not canvass his constituents at Leeds? I do not suppose my hon. and learned Friend will withdraw his Amendment. I hope he will not. I do not want him to; but I do think it would be the best thing he could do to make one of his old speeches against the Permissive Bill during the dinner-hour. His Amendment has nothing to do with the Resolution; his speech will do no harm; but it will please the publicans. The hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that we never can have too many speeches on the subject, and he intends to score a victory. Having finished with the Yorkshire brewers, he goes to speak to the publicans at Barnsley. In fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman is perpetually turning up in all parts of the country at licensed victuallers' meetings; and he told the licensed victuallers at Barnsley very confidently that the hon. Member for Carlisle would only have a small following; but he himself was perfectly satisfied, for he was prepared to take the remainder under his wing, and lead them to certain victory. Now, I think it would be one of the most interesting and exciting political episodes of our time to seen the hon. and Biblical Member for Leeds leading his bibulous majority to victory, assisted by the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow). No doubt there will be cartoons of the scene in all the illustrated periodicals of the day. Well, then, I come next to the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Bury St. Edmund's (Lord Francis Hervey). I have no particular objection to the Amendment; but I think there is not much in it, for it simply says we must wait for the final Report of the Lords' Committee. I think the House should be able to say "Aye or No" to the Resolution like men. By 648 the bye, I have heard a rumour that the Report of the Lords' Committee is to be laid on the Table of the House of Lords this very evening whilst I am speaking. Really, I think we have heard quite enough of this talk about the Lords' Committee. Someone said, long ago—"Thank God we have a House of Lords;" and during the last year I am sure the Home Secretary must have repeatedly exclaimed— "Thank God we have a House of Lords' Committee." What has happened? If anybody has got up and asked a two-penny-halfpenny question about the regulation of the drink trade, the right hon. Gentleman has said—"This is a matter which cannot be touched until the House of Lords' Committee reports." The same answer has been given to enthusiastic deputations of temperance societies; even when the brewers and licensed victuallers have gone to him, he has said—"Gentlemen, you have a very good case, but we cannot do anything until the House of Lords' Committee has reported." I am rather doubtful about this House of Lords' Committee, I was in the House of Lords when this Committee was appointed, and I heard Lord Salisbury say—The Government will agree to the Committee being appointed on the understanding it is only with a view to inquiry, and not with a view to legislation.But they have changed that view, and now say that all legislation is to depend upon the Report of this Committee. I have another reason for doubting whether anything is to come of the Lords' Committee; for a Committee of this House was appointed to consider whether certain towns in Ireland should be exempted from the Sunday-closing law; and although the Committee reported in favour of no exemption, the House straightway passed exemptions at the instigation of the Government; and now there are in Ireland five cities of refuge for the drunkard established by the Government. The noble Lord is well able to deal with Ancient Monuments, Burial Bills, and upon all the burning questions of the day he speaks well and sagaciously; why should he not make up his mind on this without waiting for the Report of the Lords' Committee? I say it is a pitiable Amendment, and I hope he will not press it. I now come to my hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Sir John Kennaway), and I was rather 649 surprised at his Amendment; but I suppose it was put on the Paper for the purpose of giving him an opportunity of making a speech. I know he is a leading member of the Church of England Temperance Society, which warmly supports the Motion. I have no objection to the details he suggests. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon) comes in and wants the licensing authority to require sworn evidence as to what the people want. Well, let them swear. The noble Lord opposite the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) has also something to say. He says— "We must wait for the Report of the Lords' Committee;" but he goes a little further, and I am glad to see he admits the evil, and I hope, if he has not the opportunity of moving the Amendment, he will support my Resolution. We have one more—the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell)—who says—That no new Licence for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors ought to be granted unless the application for such be supported by a Memorial of such a character, and signed by such a proportion of the residents in the district to be served, as shall satisfy the Justices that the Licence is required for the wants of the district.To use a vulgar expression, that only puts the boot on the other leg, requiring them to say they wanted licences instead of saying they did not want them; and although I have no particular objection to the Amendment, I do not see that it is so germane to the Resolution as to be moved in connection with it. And now I would ask the House what would be the practical effect of carrying my Resolution; what will be the practical effect of our division on this question? Of course, it will be either that the Resolution will be carried, or it will be defeated. If we are defeated, that means the House thinks I have not succeeded in making out a sufficient case of injustice to warrant the House at present in dealing with it. I shall be sorry if the House comes to that conclusion; it may do so, and I must submit to it for the present. If we carry the Resolution, it would decide that it laid down the right principle of legislation, and in that case the Government would have to act upon it, and bring in some measure based on this proposal. If they did not, then it would be my duty to consult with my 650 Friends to try to hit on some rational, sensible, and satisfactory way of carrying out the proposal that has been enunciated. I want the House to see who it is that opposes this Resolution. I think, if you will reflect, you will find there is no organized opposition to this Resolution of mine from any class, from any party, from any portion of the community throughout the country, except from the publicans. Let the House consider that, and they will see they are the only systematic and formulated opposition that has been brought out against my Resolution. The list of objections sent to Members is called "Objections to Sir Wilfrid Lawson's Resolution on local option," and comes from "The Licensed Victuallers' Protection Society of London, and of the London and Home Counties Licensed Victuallers' League." The first Resolution is this—That it is so destitute of details, as showing how the principle which it contains is to be applied, that no discreet person could safely pledge himself to the principles until such details are supplied.Of course, every Resolution is. A Bill is objected to because of its details, and the Resolution because it is devoid of details.That, as it stands, it pledges its supporters to what is equally the principle of the Permissive Bill, Sir Robert Anstruther's Bill, the Licensing Boards Bill, and the Gothenburg scheme.Very good; that shows how good the principle is. Then we are told it is "subversive of individual liberty." Of course—all acts of Parliament are. We sit here to subvert individual liberty, and to prevent anyone doing wrong to the public. Then we are told the ResolutionIs not acceptable to the constituencies, and that hon. Members voting against the Resolution will, therefore, be voting in accordance with the preponderating opinion of the constituencies.That, Sir, is a matter of prophecy, which I shall cheerfully leave to the next General Election. Then they say it is an unjustifiable attack upon the magistracy. Now, I think there is nothing of the kind. The Resolution is intended to assist the magistrates in finding out what the people want. Then we are told—"The whole licensing question will therefore have to be taken up de novo." 651 Nobody doubts it, and the sooner the better. Then, we are told it will "confiscate licensed property." It will not; there can be no confiscation of property in licences that are only granted from year to year. If the great drink interest can bring forward no better arguments than those to which I have alluded, they will not succeed in deterring the people of this country from pressing this demand. I am glad the question is now put on a right issue by the trade itself. The question now is, beyond all doubt, the question of British interests versus vested interests. I know how they are growing; I know they are overgrown, and are almost paramount in political power; but they cannot successfully withstand a great and growing public opinion. Plenty of hon. Members in this House heard the conclusion of one of the greatest speeches which the hon. Member for Greenwich ever made. He was fighting some great political question, and he concluded his speech by saying—Time is on our side; you cannot fight against time; the great social forces as they move on in their might and in their majesty are marshalled on our side.And I say, Sir, beyond a doubt, the great social forces are marshalled in our support. Sir, they are marshalled in our support; and, strong in the conviction of their ultimate triumph, I ask the House to take a step which will not discredit itself; which will encourage all those who are working for the welfare and happiness of England; and which, above all, I am certain, will be an act of justice to the people whom it is our duty and privilege fearlessly and faithfully to represent in this House. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving his Resolution.
§ MR. BIRLEY
Mr. Speaker, I am sure there will be no serious controversy about the recitals of this Resolution; but the main question raised by the hon. Member for Carlisle is the vesting of legal power in the inhabitants of any place to prevent the issue of new licences. It is upon this point that I support the proposition of the hon. Baronet. I have no wish or desire to take away from the magistrates the power of licensing, inasmuch as I believe that that duty has been worthily and wisely exercised during the period of something like 330 years, as will be found by a reference to 652 the Statutes of Henry VII. and Edward VI., to which reference has been already made. It must be borne in mind that although the authority was then intrusted to the Justices, and not to the inhabitants, this included the power of putting down all common alehouses. Although I desire that the magistrates should retain their authority, I think it exceedingly inconvenient, and also unjust, if the inhabitants of a locality are not allowed to influence them in withholding the licences, except by memorial or remonstrance. I am at a loss to know why this Resolution should be called the "Permissive Bill," unless it is because it is moved by the hon. Baronet. It is well known that the Resolution is not the hon. Baronet's, but is that of a Committee appointed some time ago by the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury. It was supported by the great bulk of the clergy of the country. I am, therefore, of opinion that it should receive careful and thoughtful consideration. The hon. Member for Carlisle has quoted from two Statutes bearing on the subject; and I find that, in the beginning of the 17th century, in the year 1604, the 1st of King James, another important Statute was passed on the subject. In that Statute a strong expression appeared in the Preamble, denouncing in the very gravest terms the abuse of taverns. And the same principle has been asserted in various forms at subsequent periods. With regard to magistrates, there was an Act of the reign of George II., in which it was set forth that many licences had been granted by certain Justices living at a distance, and not well informed about these licences, or with regard to the character of the persons to whom they had been issued. Care was taken, therefore, in that Statute, in some degree, to reduce the jurisdiction of such Justices as regarded the area under their control. That, however, is not so grave a complaint at the present day. With every respect for the magistrates, I must still express the opinion that they are not in all cases sufficiently well informed whether there is good cause for granting the licences, nor as to the character of the persons licensed. That, as the House is aware, is one of the main reasons why the supporters of the present Motion ask that powers 653 should be conferred on the inhabitants. In 1635, Lord Keeper Coventry charged the Justices on this subject, and told them to take care that no house was opened unless the same was duly licensed, and that those licences ought to be few in number. It would also appear that before that time—in feudal times—the Houses of Parliament occupied themselves very little with regard to the character of the alehouses, confining themselves to the assize of bread and ale. They were anxious to keep up the quality and to keep down the price. It appears further that the lords of the manor exercised jurisdiction in this matter, and that offences were cognizable by the Court Leet, which had in it a portion of the popular element. One idea that they had with respect to the use of public-houses was not to close them only at an early hour—say, for instance, 8 or 9 o'clock—but to prevent people resorting to them after a certain hour. I cannot refrain from touching, although the matter has been very fully considered by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, upon the various Amendments on the Paper. First, I will deal with the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), who placed his Amendment there not because there was anything wrong in the Motion, but because he was desirous of peace and quietude, which might be disturbed by elections. That is desired by the hon. Member for Carlisle, not only at election times, but all the year round. I have a complaint to make against the hon. and learned Member for Leeds, because, when we had last an encounter in this House, it was on the occasion when it was thought desirable that Manchester should be supplied with an abundance of pure water. The hon. and learned Member for Leeds endeavoured to arrest the flow of that valuable element; but if it had been a flow of pure beer that was sought, the reverse might have been the case. As regards the other Amendments on the Paper, they are very hopeful indeed, and very emphatically in favour of the Resolution. The noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy), it is true, wishes to wait for the Lords' Committee to report. The Amendments went as far as I desire, and as far as, I think, the 654 supporters of the hon. Baronet can expect. I cannot agree to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon), because I do not think we could get trustworthy evidence. The remedy, I think, would be very much worse than the disease. False swearing would be worse than drink. As regards the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rod-well), there is very much to be said in favour of that, if it could be properly carried out. I will now give my reason why I desire this Resolution to pass and to be accepted by the House. I think I have seen long since in this country a very sturdy determination to restrain excessive drinking. I have long seen in this country a very urgent desire to mitigate these evils; and the classes that suffer more than any other are, perhaps, the middle and lower classes. They suffer more than the higher classes, and that is perhaps why the question does not fully command the sympathy of this House. We see it all over the world. Every English and English-speaking people takes part in it. Whether it be in the United States of America, in the English Dependencies and Australia, in Canada, or in New Zealand, the same spirit and desire to diminish the number of licensed houses is manifested. Then, as to the result, we may entertain a confident belief that as the number of public-houses is diminished, so we may increase the number of improved dwellings, the number of coffee-houses and recreation grounds, and working men's clubs, and public-houses themselves will improve materially, and we may come back perhaps to the typical public-house of three or four centuries ago, that seems to have thrown a charm round the neighbourhood. If I might say a word upon the question of grocers' licences, I would like to know why it is that the House has always refused or neglected to intrust the magistrates with authority over the grocers' licences? The magistrates and the people of the country desire it, and yet it remains, Session after Session, to be exercised by the Government authorities. With regard to vested interests, I desire to deal very considerately with them where they could be shown to be just; but I would remind the House we are now building up vested interests of a gigantic 655 character. I will not say they have been literally concentrated in the hands of a few capitalists; but the tendency is very strong in that direction. It reminds me of a speech of Dr. Johnson when he attended the sale of Thrale's Brewery—"We are not here to sell merely a few brewing tubs and vats, but the potentiality of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice." So it is with regard to public-houses in the present day. They are becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of the brewers themselves, who put their representatives into these houses to manage them. In conclusion, I beg to thank the House for its attention. I have not sought the duty of seconding this Motion; but I do so with a distinct conviction that it offers a reasonable opportunity of settling many difficulties and composing the public mind, which is violently excited on the subject, and will continue so until they have a legal right of restraining the issue of licences.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, inasmuch as the ancient and avowed object of licensing the sale of intoxicating liquor is to supply a supposed public want without detriment to the public welfare, this House is of opinion that a legal power of restraining the issue or renewal of licences should be placed in the hands of the persons most deeply interested and affected—namely, the inhabitants themselves—who are entitled to protection from the injurious consequences of the present system by some efficient measure of local option."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
moved, as an Amendment,That it would be most undesirable and inopportune to change the arrangements now legislatively provided for the regulation of the trade carried on by the Licensed Victuallers of this Country, because any tribunal subject to periodical election by popular canvas and vote might, and in all probability would, lead to repeated instances of turmoil, and thus be detrimental to the peace and quietude of every neighbourhood in England.Taking each and both of the propositions which he had endeavoured to embody in his Amendment, he hoped, before he concluded, to treat each, of them in the most strict order possible. He would not for a moment deny the great ability with which the hon. Baronet—who, although on this and other questions his particular opponent, was personally his friend—had introduced his Resolution on the plea of 656 promoting temperance; whereas the question of temperance was very little in his mind or in the mind of any one of his supporters. Everyone in the House, be he more or less conversant with the subject, must know, as he did, that the Motion had nothing whatever to do with temperance, but was, from first to last the result of a teetotal movement. Again, they were told by the hon. Baronet that there were not any details in his Resolution; and that as the great objection raised against the Permissive Bill was that the details were so full and objectionable, there was no chance of passing it into an Act of Parliament. Therefore it was they were relegated to the idea of an abstract Resolution, which, according to the views of the hon. Member for Carlisle, was altogether free from details. He (Mr. Wheelhouse), however, trusted that he should be able to show the House that the Resolution was not only pregnant with details, but that its terms were sufficient—as, indeed, the hon. Baronet himself had admitted— to include, not only the Permissive Bill itself, but every other form of objectionable legislation on this subject. The hon. Baronet, however, told them that he had not any desire to interfere with the Justices in the jurisdiction which they exercised in regard to the granting and the renewal of licences; but was there any Member in the House who could doubt—whatever might be intended—that this Resolution was, in fact, though he quite admitted unintentionally, a slur upon the magistrates? Why, the whole purpose of this Resolution was to place in the hands of a popular constituency the power which had been for hundreds of years exercised by the magisterial bench. It had been said that words were used to conceal thoughts; but such could not be stated of the words employed in this Resolution; for, if it meant anything whatever, it meant that they were to take from the magistrates that power, without any proof of their having made a wrong exercise of it, in order to place it in the hands of another set of persons chosen by popular election. They were told they were to take the Resolution as it stood, and to leave the details to be filled up in some Bill, which was to be based upon the same lines; which was as much as to tell them that the Resolution was in itself useless, and that it was 657 a waste of time to spend an evening in its discussion. The hon. Baronet told them that it pledged the House to nothing, and his assumption throughout was that he did not want to change anything. But, if that were so, then why this Resolution? It was clear to him that the Resolution was only paving the way to legislation; and if, as the hon. Baronet had told them, it covered not only the Permissive Bill, but a great deal more, was it not, he would ask, likely that the moment they had passed the Resolution they would be called upon to proceed further, and make it take the form of a Permissive Bill, being, at the same time, told that, having accepted the principle enunciated in the abstract Resolution, they were bound to support the Bill? This was the introduction of the thin edge of the wedge, and an almost insidious attempt to get, under the disguise of the Resolution, to the Permissive Bill itself. They were told the magistracy had done their work very well. "I am not going," said the hon. Member for Carlisle, "to bring any charge against the magistracy." From be-ginning to end, from first to last, if his Resolution meant anything, it meant that it was necessary to put the power into the hands of somebody else. It meant that the magistrates were incompetent to perform what for 300 years they had satisfactorily performed, and what, he thought, they ought to continue to perform. He was amused at what the hon. Member had said with regard to restraint. Surely, the magistrates had always acted as a judicious counterpoise between the publican on the one side and persons of extreme views on the other. That duty, he (Mr. Wheel-house) maintained, was the one which the magistrates had exercised from the very hour they were first placed in a position to deal with this question until now; and that was the power, he ventured to think, they were exercising with most salutary influence. But they were told that some fashion of local option ought to be introduced. What was that fashion to be? Was it to be at the instance of popularly-elected bodies— such as Municipal Councils, School Boards, or Vestries? If so, he ventured to assert most fearlessly that that would create turmoil and proscribe peace and quietness in every district. The hon. Baronet had represented the magistrates 658 as influenced by wire-pullers; but while he denied that such was the case, and appealed to the House to confirm his statement, would there not, he would ask, be worse than wire-pulling in such a state of things as the Resolution would bring about? There would be canvassing and pledges asked and given, and, under such circumstances, the whole question of the convenience of the public would be lost to sight. It was, therefore, infinitely better that the power should be still left in the hands of the magistrates, who would exercise it impartially, and altogether irrespective of what might be a popular vote. He did not know whether the hon. Member was a Justice of the Peace for his own county, or what might be his personal experience on the subject. He (Mr. Wheelhouse) could only tell him that, speaking not as a magistrate himself certainly, but as having had very much to do with them in their judicial capacity, the magistrates were accustomed to exercise immense care, supervision, and exactitude, when they were asked to renew licences or grant new ones. It was said that magistrates were often earwigged. He did not know how it might be in some out-of-the-way place in Cumberland; but that certainly did not happen in 99 cases out of 100 elsewhere. Knowing, as he did, how closely magistrates investigated every claim, he dissented entirely from that statement. But if in some exceptional instance a Justice of the Peace might be earwigged, was it not certain that candidates in every municipality of the country would be ten times more subject to such a process? The very influence which could not be brought to bear on magistrates, because they stood in a position of considerable social elevation, would operate on those who would form the Local Licensing Board. Did anyone suppose that such a Board would not be acted upon, more or less? The hon. Baronet said the brewers had enormous power; but that power was far more likely to be used in their own favour over local bodies and small jurisdictions than over the magistracy. The allegation made was that the magistrates, being gentlemen of property residing on their own estates, were not sufficiently close to the neighbourhoods where public-houses might be asked for to know what were the real wants of the district. He greatly 659 doubted that allegation. In his own locality, the magistrates who dealt with questions of that kind were always residents in the immediate neighbourhood; they were perfectly acquainted with every house in their district, or, if not, they visited every house for which a new licence was asked, and sometimes also those houses for which only a renewal of the old licence was sought, and they required such structural or other alterations as were necessary to be made. Still, they had been told that a body popularly elected—a body which might be, if they liked it, the vox populi, but to whom the rest of the quotation would not apply—were to be thought the arbitrators of each district. For the sake of the peace and quietude, which he desired to see prevailing throughout the country, he hoped that particular matter would not be placed in the hands of a popular tribunal, such as was indicated in the Resolution before the House. He admitted that this Resolution was very artistically—he did not like to say very craftily—framed; but its intentions were on the face of it, and they on that side of the House were not likely to be deceived. Again, they were told that the present system had produced the distress which it was now said prevailed. An argument more farfetched than that had never been heard either in that House or elsewhere. Had they not had much worse periods of distress than the present? And yet such a remedy for it as was now proposed had never been thought of before. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle must have tried how far he could impose on the credulity of his audience when he employed such an argument. Again, they were told that the Irish Sunday Closing Act was a great tribute to the principle of local option; but it really had nothing to do with that principle. They were told there were some men who were "publicans first, and patriots afterwards." Alliteration of that kind was amusing enough, and he did not know what this had to do with the matter. On the other hand, there was a very large band of men who were teetotallers first, and statesmen, if they liked, afterwards. He had no notion of teetotalism. If any man liked to drink water, and nothing but water, he did not object to his doing so; but that such a man should try to com- 660 pel him (Mr. Wheelhouse) to confine himself to that beverage was what he did most sincerely protest against. The teetotaller had no more right to interfere with his (Mr. Wheelhouse's) predilections or habits, than he had a right to interfere in the regulations of the teetotaller's household. They were also told that, according to some of these measures, the magistrates were to have the veto. He would say—"Do not give them the veto, but leave them the power they have at this moment." The magistrates, he ventured to submit, knew better than any other class of men in their several districts what was good for the neighbourhood in which they lived; and as long as that was the case, it was most undesirable to change the present mode of granting licences. It was said—"Let there be a sort of joint committee, and place on the Licensing Bench some of the ratepayers of the district." But how were they to put those ratepayers on the Bench? They could not get rid of the difficulty in that way. Either they must have the magistrates as a body to deal with the question, or they must resort to popular election in some shape or other. It was no question whether the whole body should be elected by popular vote or only a part of it. Some part must be elected by popular vote, and then they would have all the evils incident to canvassing for votes in the lower stratum of society, while the members returned would also be liable to be canvassed in turn and subjected to objectionable pressure. That measure was simply the Permissive Bill in disguise, with the worst features of the Gothenburg, and other cognate systems, superadded to it. It had been said that this was a Resolution of Convocation; but this was the first time he had ever heard the proceedings of that Body referred to in terms of approval on the opposite side of the House. They were told, again, that there had been talk enough about the Lords' Committee. When, however, either House devoted its attention by means of a Committee to any question of this kind, it was simply an act of courtesy on the part of the other House to wait until it became known what would be the purport of the Report of the Committee. If, as had been stated, that Report was laid on the Table of the other House that evening, so much the better; but 661 whether it was laid on the Table of the House of Commons, or elsewhere, it would require some process of digestion before it could properly be discussed or appreciated. Now, as to that, it was his strong opinion that the result of the Lords' deliberations should be fully known before anything was attempted to be done on the subject before the House, either in the shape of an abstract Resolution or a Permissive Bill. It was not a question whether they might or might not agree with the conclusions of the Committee; but it might be that they had some suggestion to offer, though at the present moment they could not even say as much nor even guess whether any proposal was made by the Committee to solve the question. However that might be, he felt assured that magistrates, whether they were noblemen or not, were not prepared to give up their present authority under the existing licensing laws. It would greatly surprise him were the case otherwise, and to find that magistrates were prepared to surrender their authority in order that it might be placed in the hands of irresponsible electoral bodies elected under the worst conditions. That was, in his opinion, a statement which would receive the most conclusive contradiction when they came to a Division that evening. Then they were told that there was no opposition to this "local option" movement except that of the publicans themselves. Was there not? They would find there was opposition to the Bill other than that of the publican interest, and they would also find that the opposition was by no means to be despised. To tell them that it was merely a publicans' question was to repeat the cry raised when hon. Gentlemen felt it their duty to oppose the Permissive Bill. It was not a question between publicans and the public. It was an issue between the organization of the teetotallers, the outside public, and all the other classes of society. That was the true aspect of the business, and it would be well for the House to understand it. They were told by the hon. Member for Carlisle—"Oh, let people swear;" and the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion said—"Swear not at all." He (Mr. Wheelhouse) did not care very much, if at all, whether the testimony was ordered to be taken on 662 oath or not; but he most assuredly would say—"Leave things as they are" at the present time. If magistrates required testimony on oath, they had full power and were competent to take it; or, in the event of people objecting to an oath, they could allow a statutory declaration to be made. What did they propose instead? That there should be an irresponsible tribunal, which might, if it pleased, take sworn testimony. The present Licensing Tribunal, composed as it was of gentlemen of position, of gentlemen of experience, and gentlemen who were anxious to do their duty, was the best possible one, and answered every purpose. Then, turning to another side of the question, they had had quoted the Bishop who was said to have stated that he would rather see England free than sober. Now, he (Mr. Wheelhouse) was anxious to see England free; but he was also extremely anxious to see the freedom associated with sobriety. He believed there had been no greater friend of the drunkard than that class of legislation, or attempted legislation, which had continually been brought under the notice of both Houses of Parliament—measures which were truly impracticable—measures which were rejected year after year, and which had no further good or evil in them beyond postponing all useful legislation on the subject. It had been asserted to-night that drunkenness was increasing in the country. He was very happy, indeed, to think that this was the view only of those who were ardent teetotallers, and that it was not shared by the large body of thoughtful men of temperate habits who had carefully investigated the subject. Let them consider what was the state of things at the present time. Would any of them do as their grandfathers did? Would they employ workmen who were known to be habitual drunkards? He thought not. Why, one of the first questions asked by every lady, when about to employ a servant was—"Is she sober?" Was that not the first question asked by every employer of labour in this country before taking any man or boy into his service? The question was always asked—"Is the man of sober habits?" or—"Is the boy temperate?" If it were really true, as contended, that drunkenness was increasing, then he would venture to assert 663 it was because the magistracy of this country had not the power of former; years, which, in his opinion, should never have been taken from them— namely, that of supervising all the licences which were issued. If, instead of granting wine licences, beer licences, or grocers' licences, licences were only given to the recognized licensed victuallers, in the manner of years ago, there would be very much less private or public drinking. Enormous facility for drinking had been given by the several classes of licences to which he had alluded. No supervision was exercised over those places, and they were, he strongly contended, a source of great danger to the nation. Still, they were told, as they had been that evening, that on the shoulders of the licensed victuallers should fall the whole of the blame. He was not one of those who thought so, and he protested against assertions of the kind. It was not the fault of the licensed victuallers, or the law of the land, if the country had degenerated. It was those who deluged the country with beerhouse, wine, and grocers' licences who were to blame, and upon them should it be mainlyplaced. He was one of those who had a great respect for the rights of property, for vested interests, and he would allow all those having licences to hold them in the future, with the proviso that the magistrates should, in all cases, exercise the old right of supervision. The Justices were the only body in which such powers could be placed with safety; and the result would be disastrous were they placed in the hands of a self-elected body, or a body elected, as it sometimes would be, by a majority of a couple of teetotallers. Such tribunals would be again repeating the most injurious thing England had ever seen. They knew very well that if the principle of Licensing Boards were adopted, there might follow what would practically amount to confiscation of property. At every annual licensing session, respectable men would run the risk of having a renewal refused for no earthly reason other than that a majority of one or two teetotallers chose to say—"You shall not have it." In the North of England they had had one specimen—happily, only one—of this arbitrary mode of proceeding on the part of teetotallers a short time ago. In a large town there, the so-called licensing authority 664 took upon itself to say, by a majority of one or two, that they would not renew licences. Why did they do this? Were the houses badly conducted, or disorderly? No; the licensing authority declined to renew the licences for no earthly reason other than that a majority of them were teetotallers. The publicans applying were respectable persons, and nothing could be said against them. Of course, the matter was brought up to the Court of Quarter Sessions, where the action of the teetotallers was laughed at, and the publicans were at once given their rights. But the men were put to great expense, and none of them got off for less than £60. Of course, the hon. Baronet had never heard of this.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
Sunderland. The hon. Baronet knew of the case, or he ought to know of it. ["Order!"] The scheme of the hon. Baronet was cetarin to fail, both as regarded the issue and the renewal of the licences. Besides, it was far too vague, and conveyed to the House no idea of its practicability. Now, if they were to have legislation on the subject at all, let them have some practical measure brought before the House; let them have a Bill, with all the details of a Bill, and not a mere abstract Resolution. He had never objected to the Permissive Bill of the hon. Member for Carlisle because it contained details; but he objected to those details which it did contain. Legislation might be desirable—he would not discuss that; but whether desirable or not, let them have the proposals in a tangible form, so that they could reject them if they did not like them. To ask the House to commit itself to a Resolution which involved the consequences of the popular vote and the action of men chosen in the worst possible form of election, and subject to the most objectionable influences, was a course he hoped they would not adopt. He would say that had they legislated half-a-century ago on the lines drawn by Mr. Livesay, of Preston, they would long ago have had a reasonable national temperance, and they would never have had to encounter a teetotal agitation which was continued year after year, useless in itself, and the outcome of which had been to postpone all legislation on the subject. He hoped 665 and trusted that the people were becoming more temperate; but that they would ever accept teetotalism as a doctrine and the Permissive Bill as its practical result he could never believe. The object of teetotallers and the Permissive Bill was not to secure temperance, but to abolish public-houses, breweries, distilleries, and all vested interests therein. If the House desired to see anything in the shape of temperance in the country, and if they were to promote the fair use of alcohol, which was considered necessary to the great majority of people, they would go on lines wholly and entirely different to those of teetotalism, and they would have no more of the Permissive Prohibitory Bill legislation. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it would be most undesirable and inopportune to change the arrangements now legislatively provided for the regulation of the trade carried on by the Licensed Victuallers of this Country, because any tribunal subject to periodical election by popular canvas and vote might, and in all probability would, lead to repeated instances of turmoil, and thus be detrimental to the peace and quietude of every neighbourhood in England,"—[Mr Wheelhouse,)
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
Sir, I must apologize for interposing for a few moments between the House and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) who rose with me; but I am anxious to explain what is the attitude of the Government towards the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. In doing this, I would first say that I think we! cannot complain either of the language of the hon. Baronet in bringing forward the Resolution, or of the spirit in which he has moved it. The House is always amused by the hon. Baronet whenever he addresses it upon any question whatever; and I may add that on the present occasion he has also succeeded in interesting it. But while I have listened to the hon. Baronet with amusement and interest, I am compelled to add—if I may be permitted to say so—that I entirely fail to detect in his speech any adequate reason for the Resolution which he has 666 brought forward. I have taken great pains in my own mind to discover, if possible, the real object which the hon. Baronet has in view. Of course, it has been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down that this is the Permissive Bill pure and simple. I do not myself like, however, to charge the hon. Baronet with a trick of that description. It has also been said that the real meaning of the Resolution is that it is a political move for a Party purpose; but I agree with the hon. Baronet that it is a wise principle, when dealing with an attempt at temperance legislation, for us to believe that hon. Members who bring forward measures of this kind are actuated with the best motives—namely, attempting to promote, as far as legislation can accomplish it, the cause of temperance in this country. When I come, however, to look at this particular Resolution, I am obliged to quarrel even with its premises. The hon. Baronet has laid it down that the object of licensing houses for the sale of intoxicating liquor is to supply a public want without detriment to the public welfare. I am not disposed to follow that argument to its conclusion, for it has already been dealt with by the hon. Baronet and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley), both of whom I am of opinion are much mistaken in the view they take of it. I contend that whatever may have been the original purpose of the licensing system, it may now-a-days be defended principally on the ground that it is for the protection of public order. On this first point I am, therefore, at direct issue with the hon. Baronet. And I will go further than that, and say that it appears to me the only ground for interfering with any trade would be that it possessed special characteristics affecting public order. It appears to me that the hon. Baronet—though he would be the last one to admit it—has not quite sufficient respect, in the legislation he proposes, for the rights of individual liberty. That fact, I think, accounts for the failure of the proposals which the hon. Baronet has brought before this House from time to time, and I think that that very fault underlies and vitiates the principle of the Resolution before us this evening. I do not think we ought to subordinate the privileges of the sober man to the reforma- 667 tion of the drunkard Therefore, at the first start, I am at issue with the hon. Baronet. If a Bill is brought in to restrict the sale of intoxicating liquors in this country, it should only be brought in to check the excessive use of such liquors, and the only means which the law has of testing the excessive use of liquors is when there is a breach of public order. Taking the widest interpretation of public order, I cannot help thinking that the view I have laid down is the right one, and it is in strict opposition to the course pursued by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. But even if the premises of the hon. Baronet be conceded, I confess it is somewhat difficult to admit the conclusion from them that the local power of restraining the issue or the renewal of licences should be placedIn the hands of the persons most deeply interested and affected—namely, the inhabitants themselves—who are entitled to protection from the injurious consequences of the present system by some efficient measure of local option.It would seem to me that the legitimate consequence of his premises, taking the interpretation which he put upon his Resolution—and which I was glad to hear him put upon it, for it is not expressed in the words of the Resolution—would be a very different mode of proceeding than that which he has adopted. I think he said that the Resolution meant that all licensing should be conducted in the interests of the public, and not in the interests of the publican. I venture to say that there is no Member of this House who will not agree that that is the true principle of licensing. But when I come to look at the Resolution of the hon. Baronet—and I venture to remind the House that it is by that we must be guided, and not by any remarks of the hon. Baronet—I may say that I think we should be committing a great error if we pledged ourselves to such an extremely abstract Resolution as that which he has proposed. I have listened with some amusement to the explanation he has given for the abstract character of his Resolution. He gave some instances of abstract Resolutions which have been accepted by this House; and he mentioned, I think, the Resolution proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) in favour of 668 the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, and also the Resolution brought forward by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), who sits upon this Bench, in favour of removing certain burdens from local taxation and placing them upon Imperial funds. I am at a loss to see any parallel between those cases and the case now before the House. I do not complain of this being in the form of a Resolution; but what I do complain of is that the Resolution is a tissue of words which practically have no meaning, and which require an explanation of the details of the proposition they are intended to cover. I am perfectly within my right when I retort upon the hon. Baronet that it is not procedure by Resolution of which we complain, but the utter vagueness and unmeaning character of the Resolution as it is worded. I was also somewhat amused by the explanation which the hon. Baronet gave of his own Resolution when he told the House, in the most simple-minded mariner, that it had been intended to embrace all the measures— his own included—that have ever been proposed for the acceptance of the House upon this subject. I cannot suppose that the dignity of this House collectively, or of ourselves individually, will be promoted by assenting to a Resolution which merely says that something should be done, when it is admitted by the hon. Baronet himself that it embraces a proposal which the House has again and again, by substantial majorities, declared to be mischievous. Whatever interpretation is put upon the Resolution in this House, there is no doubt of the view that is taken of it in the country. I speak with all respect of those men, divines— ministers of religion of all denominations—who have taken up this subject; and with all respect also of those societies of men throughout the country—the Good Templars and others—who are not failing in any possible effort to force this particular solution upon us; but, at the same time, it is perfectly plain that, as with the hon. Baronet, so with his supporters out-of-doors, those who support the Motion are the advocates of the Permissive Bill. I do not complain of them for that; but I think I am within my right in asking them when they support an abstract Resolution like this, what that Resolution means besides that which 669 they themselves admit it to mean. It is not fair to the House to put hon. Members in a position of not knowing in the least to what they will be committed if they support the Resolution of the hon. Baronet. "Local option" is a very convenient phrase; and from the rumours one hears in the Lobbies, I have not the slightest doubt that a certain number of hon. Members will be led to support the Resolution of the hon. Baronet, because, as in the early days of the Permissive Bill, they fancy they are only voting that something ought to be done to promote the cause of temperance. That is not the way in which a Resolution ought to be voted for in this House; and such a vote does not show a proper appreciation of the responsibility which we undertake when we come here to represent the views of our constituencies. I have endeavoured, as far as I could, to consider the various meanings that have been attached to local option, and the different propositions that have been made on the subject. There is, first of all, the Bill of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) for the establishment of Licensing Boards; but I think that is not a description of local option that is likely to find favour in this House. It means direct popular election, and it is open to all the objections that have been urged by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse). Considering what kind of tribunal the licensing authority must be, I cannot think the House would approve of making it a Board not judicial, not even representative, but consisting merely of delegates of the majority for the time being. Nor can I see that it would be possible to give a preliminary veto to the Board of Guardians. I cannot see how such a mode of proceeding could do other than diminish the proper influence that the Guardians ought to exercise in the administration of the Poor Law; nor can I conceive anything more likely to vitiate and demoralize the elections that now take place than the introduction of such a disturbing element. And when you come to consider how you want to make known the views of the ratepayers as to the issue or renewal of licences, I think it is extremely difficult to see how that is to be provided for without giving a majority the absolute power of choosing the licensing authority. And if you do 670 that, you introduce even a worse principle than that of the Permissive Bill; for under the operation of the Permissive Bill a majority of two-thirds of the inhabitants of a locality would be required before action could be taken; whereas, in this case, the vote of a majority would be conclusive. What would then take place? It must, of necessity, follow that the minority defeated on one occasion would strain every nerve during the next two or three years to become the majority; and the result to the neighbourhood would, I should imagine, be far from favourable to the interests of temperance. And when would it come into operation? Just when it is least needed. When you have a majority of the ratepayers inclined to license any number of public-houses and not disposed in any way to restrict drinking, that is the very locality where restriction is most needed; yet by the operation of such a proposal as this all the public-houses now complained of would remain and new licences would be granted. Such a proposal, therefore, would be altogether illusory. If the Resolution is perfectly plain, it is rather curious to see so many Amendments upon it; but, indeed, when one comes to look through them, it is rather a matter of surprise that there are not more, because many other schemes of local option have been suggested. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Devon (Sir John Kennaway), as I read his Amendment, seems to point to a representation of the ratepayers associated with the magistrates for the purpose of determining upon the issue or renewal of all licences to sell intoxicating liquor within the area of their jurisdiction. I would only say that if it is a direct representation of the ratepayers that is intended, the proposal is, to my mind, open to the same objection as Licensing-Boards. It is open to some extent to the objection I have urged to bringing a new element into the elections to County Boards, and I am afraid, as a consequential act, to the Town Councils also. I believe I am correct in saying that throughout the country where most complaint exists is not so much in the counties as in the boroughs. Therefore, if the proposal were carried that representatives of the ratepayers should sit with the magistrates as the licensing authority, and if it should be thought 671 wise to give the licensing power to the County Boards, it would be difficult to resist giving it to Town Councils. I am not sure that that would be a satisfactory mode of proceeding. I am afraid that all these propositions of local option, so far as I have been able to understand them, altogether violate what appears to me to be the first principles of a licensing authority, if we are to have a licensing authority. And I think we cannot now begin to set up an ideal as to what ought to be done with the liquor traffic. We must remember that we have had several years of licensing; many Acts of Parliament have been passed on the subject; many vested interests have been created; and we have many habits of the people to respect and watch over. It appears to me that the licensing authority ought, in the first instance, to be judicial, and, in fact, it is very little more than judicial. If you have a representative body elected ad hoc it is not judicial, and even if it were not elected ad hoc, a strong feeling would be brought into the elections, and an element introduced which I think you would desire to keep out. But setting that aside, I think the licensing authority ought to be stable and consistent. What can be expected for the benefit of a neighbourhood, if the authority is liable to be disturbed even from one period of three years to another? If it is true that a licensing body should be judicial, it is equally true that it should be consistent. But I go further, and I say that it should be entirely acceptable to public opinion—it should be thoroughly conversant with all the wants of the neighbourhood, and bound to take into consideration the wants and necessities in that neighbourhood. There are other Amendments on the Paper, and amongst them that of the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon), which is to the effect—That, in the opinion of this House, among the conditions prescribed by law for the granting of new licences for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors, it should be expressly provided that the licensing authority shall take into consideration the population and the number of existing licences in the district, and shall find as a fact, upon sworn evidence, that new licences are required for the necessary convenience of the public.I do not think it would be convenient, even if there were an opportunity of putting the Amendment to the House, 672 to accept absolutely these words; but as far as regards the principle they are thoroughly sound. As is well known to Members who take an interest in the question, it is practically done now. In most of the districts throughout the country no new licences are given without the strongest evidence. But if there should be any bench of magistrates who so far neglect their duty as to grant new licences where the necessity is not sufficiently proved, it is but reasonable and fair that they should be obliged to find as a fact, not perhaps that new licences are absolutely required for the convenience of the public, but that they are not in excess of the requirements of the neighbourhood in which they are situated. The consent of the owners of neighbouring property might also be a material consideration. There is another Amendment, to much the same effect, by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell). The action of the magistrates since the passing of the Act of 1874 has practically been to diminish, to a considerable extent, the number of licences; but the effect of that Act has also notoriously been to increase the number of what are called "off" licences throughout the country. I do mean to say that the Government are in favour of doing that which the magistrates ask for in many parts of the country—namely, giving them the discretion over new licences which they have over others. I am aware that there are two sides to the question. The argument against the principle urged by hon. Gentlemen opposite is that by such a course you would be practically erecting another monopoly. But, however that may be, it is notorious to everybody that there is a great deal of abuse arising from these "off" licences. I am not setting up one set of licences against the other; but if there is blame you must not throw it entirely upon the licensed victuallers, but you must throw it, to some extent, on those "off" licences. I hold in my hand an advertisement issued by a firm of grocers offering to give away 10 barrels of the best ale to their customers. The circular gives the name of the firm and the price of their groceries, and then it goes on to say that a person buying half-a-crown's worth of goods will receive a gill of the best ale, and each person buying 5s. 673 worth, will receive a pint. It might as well have been spirits, and the attention of the Government, I think, certainly ought to be directed towards putting fresh regulations on a trade of this kind. It has been represented that there is some utility in the system, and that if properly regulated it ought not to be interfered with; but I do say that, whether you are to proceed in the direction of more police supervision, or more magisterial discretion, or of a higher rental qualification, some further regulation must be made for this trade, if we are to act up to our professions of anxiety to do what legislation can do to promote the cause of temperance. I think I have communicated to the House very shortly the position which the Government wish to occupy upon this question. It is impossible for us to accept the Resolution of the hon. Baronet. Unexplained, as it is, it is certainly vague. As far as it is understood it would be highly mischievous and objectionable, and I cannot conceive it possible for the House to commit itself to it. Neither am I prepared to endorse the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend behind me. That is an absolute non possumus. I cannot think that the House would wish to commit itself to the admission that nothing ought to be done to improve the licensing system of their country. That is not the view of the Government; and it is certainly not the view I would venture for a moment to urge upon the House. There are other Amendments on the Paper which practically say that this House will not consider the question until the Committee of the House of Lords, who have taken a great deal of evidence on the subject of intemperance, has reported. I am not going to urge that that is a reason why the House should at present decline to do anything with reference to this subject. It seems to me that the House is in possession of a considerable body of evidence; and that it is perfectly fair for any hon. Member to propose a Bill or a Resolution supported by evidence. But it is plain that no one can blame this or any Government for not bringing forward legislation while they are waiting for the Report of a Committee of such importance as that which has been sitting in the other House for two or three years, and which has collected a great mass of evidence on the question. 674 I will only say, in conclusion, that the Government are prepared to resist the Resolution of the hon. Baronet and the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
The hon. Baronet who has just sat down, and of whom I may be allowed to say we must all feel sorry he does not speak oftener, has stated that the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle is really bringing forward the Permissive Bill again. I am one of those who have always been opposed to the Permissive Bill. I have never voted for it. I have voted twice in this Parliament against it, and yet I support this Resolution. I think the hon. Baronet has a perfect right to ask me on what grounds I do so. I am very well aware that this is a question on which many Members wish to speak, and that the House wishes to hear them, so that I shall not detain you more than a very few moments. I hope that the accident of my speaking from the front Opposition Bench will not be supposed to commit anybody but myself. This is a very important question—the question as to how far laws can stop drunkenness. It is not a question to be solved on Party lines. No successful treatment of the subject can be hoped for except by the action of a Government strong and united; but what we are now doing is debating the principle on which we think a measure ought to be framed. That seems to me to be eminently one of those questions on which every Member of this House, irrespective of Party allegiance, can form his own opinion. It has always seemed to me that the Bill of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle contained two principles—one, the principle of absolute prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquor, in which I do not agree with him; and the other, the principle of giving power to the inhabitants over the sale, in which I do agree. I will not detain the House at any length with my reasons for not agreeing to the principle of absolute prohibition. They are simply three, and I can state them in three sentences. First, I do not think it would be just to make a general law to prevent the innocent use of an article because some have abused it. Next, I think it would be still less just to intrust such a power to a local majority. I think also that the power given to a local majority merely to choose between 675 enforcing or withdrawing this prohibition would not be a practical remedy for the evil. Now, I come to the other principle involved, of giving power to the inhabitants of a district to control the number of public-houses, and that is a principle which I have always been in favour of. I am in favour of giving them power to restrict the number, but not altogether to prohibit public-houses. I rely upon the knowledge of the ratepayers and their representatives; and I think this is one of the matters in which their wishes ought to be consulted. I do not want to attack the magistrates as a licensing body. I believe that they have almost always meant well, and in very many cases they have acted well. I think that the hon. Baronet, in vindicating their authority, or rather in stating that any fresh body would be open to fresh charges, thereby implying that they were free from them, gave one description of them which will not apply throughout the country—namely, that they are consistent. But I am sure that if there was any new licensing authority to be created, many of the magistrates both ought to be and would be members of that body. I believe, however, that men, whether magistrates or not, elected by the ratepayers for this purpose, would be more likely to know the wants and wishes and needs of a district, and they would be more likely to know the evils of drunkenness in that district, and the best way of checking it. I think also this is one of the matters on which the wish of the inhabitants ought to be consulted. If the inhabitants of a town or village wish that their streets should not be crowded with public-houses, I think that wish, under certain limits which I will describe, ought to be satisfied. But I would guard against an unreasonable wish. If this Resolution should pass within a year or two—and I suppose the hon. Baronet is hardly sanguine enough to expect that it will pass to-night, though I dare say he will have a good following—we shall probably have a Bill founded upon it; and that Bill, I think, ought to contain a provision for preventing the representation of the ratepayers from diminishing the number of public-houses below a certain limit. It should also reserve a certain power, independent of the local authority, to take care that there is no increase beyond a certain maximum. I 676 do not believe that either of these two limitations will be often wanted. I do not imagine that many of the local au-thorities through out the country—indeed, I think there will be very few, and that these will be the most exceptional cases—would attempt to absolutely stop public-houses; I believe that in many cases they would be in favour of their restriction; but I do think we ought to guard against unwise excess on the part of local authorities, either in the direction of teetotalism or tippling. Looking carefully at the words of this Resolution, I find that it embodies the principle of local self-control, from which I have most hope; and that it admits of the limitations which I think necessary; and therefore I cannot refrain from supporting it. Let me say one word as to one or two of the objections that have been started tonight, and which, I dare say, will be started elsewhere. The first objection is that which has been raised by the Amendment; it is the objection that there will be yearly or periodical tumult in consequence of there being a periodical discussion with regard to licences. It is quite true that there would be some disadvantages in that; but I think that the advantages would far outweigh the inconvenience. There are disadvantages connected with all representative action; but, upon the whole, we find it best to abide by the representative principle, both in local and in national matters. For my part, I believe that in the end there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of making it the duty of the best men, and of the wisest men, and of the most reasonable men in each district, to consider what it would be best to do to guard against the great evil arising from the excessive use of intoxicating drink. I believe that, independently of this, great indirect good would come from attracting such men to the administration of local affairs. I now come to another, and a strong objection, that has been urged against one word in this Resolution, and that is the word "renewal." It is undoubtedly true that the Resolution not only looks to a new authority, but it looks also to a new power being given to that authority. It appears that hitherto the magistrates have acted on the principle of never refusing the renewal of a licence except for bad conduct. I do not think it too much to say 677 that my hon. Friend (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) looks forward to a considerable diminution of renewals solely on the ground of numbers; and here I think the hon. Baronet (Sir Matthew White Ridley) is a little inconsistent. He said the licensing authority was constituted merely for the purpose of keeping public order; but then he stated that new licences ought to be considered in relation to the wants of the district. Now, I do not think that these two duties, if given to the licensing authority, would exactly agree. However, keeping to the question of renewals, I think there can be no doubt that any Bill which may be framed on the principle of this Resolution must have a power as to the granting of renewals. I do not imagine that it would be very often that the renewal would be refused. Population increases, and public-houses, from various causes, disappear year by year; but I think the power ought to be given, and in some cases used. Can anyone say that decent people, fathers of respectable families, should be compelled to leave their houses, because the streets they live in are crammed full of ginshops and beerhouses? This, of course, brings us to the question of vested interests and the rights of property, and involves the very difficult question of compensation, respecting which I will only say that the Resolution does not in any way determine that question. Whenever we have a Bill dealing with this subject we shall have to discuss that point; but when we consider the rights of property I would ask, is it not notorious that a public-house injures the property in the neighbourhood? There is another objection against the Amendment, and that is that we ought to leave things as they are. I need not dwell on this, because the Home Secretary has admitted that things ought not to be left as they are, and it is not for me to insist on what almost every man in this House admits to—namely, that we cannot allow these two things to go on—this terrible drunkenness from which a largo portion of the population is now suffering, and the acknowledgment of want of power on our part to apply any remedy. Now, there is one objection to the Resolution with which I have not dealt, and that is as to its Mover. Not that there is any personal objection to my hon. Friend. No one is more popular in the House.
678 We all feel grateful to him for his wit and humour; and I hope he does not suppose that we can entertain any personal feeling, either as to what we hoar from him, or what we may have heard from him. But, going from the hon. Baronet to his Resolution, I have heard it said that, "no matter what interpretation you put upon it, if you pass this Resolution you restrain a man, and restraint means prohibition." I do not think that if you restrain a man you destroy him. "But," it is said, "the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle means prohibition;" and the public outside will therefore think that this House also means prohibition, should it pass this Resolution. Well, I think I may say this is giving too much power to the lion. Member for Carlisle. Look at the words of the Resolution—they are in the possession of the House. I think my hon. Friend (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) has made a most candid and clear speech, and he admitted that we shall not by passing the Resolution be bound to the principle of prohibition. But I will go further than this. For my part, I wish to say I am glad to be able to vote with my hon. Friend. I have often disagreed with him, and with many of his supporters, on this matter on other occasions, and I have thought their action has been, to some extent, one-sided; perhaps in some cases intolerable in expression, and open to the charge of being fanatical in purpose. I have stated that I cannot approve of the Bill he has previously brought forward, because I think it would, if carried, be a needless and unwise interference with the liberty of the subject; and I do not altogether like the way—although it is relieved by his exceeding good humour—in which my hon. Friend has sometimes talked of the publicans, many of whom are carrying on their trade under the most difficult circumstances, and are very respectable men; but we cannot forget that my hon. Friend and those who act with him are devoting their lives to an attempt to relieve this country from its greatest danger, and to remedy its greatest evil. I am therefore glad that in bringing forward this Resolution my hon. Friend has taken a course I am able to support. I have only one other objection to refer to, and that is the objection which is urged against dealing with this question by an 679 abstract Resolution. I must confess that very often there is much to be said against abstract Resolutions; but in this case I think it is desirable, before we debate a Bill upon the subject, we should first settle the principle on which it should be based. My hon. Friend has asked us to say "Aye" or "No" to this question—whether a new principle should be acknowledged in dealing with the sale of intoxicating drinks. This new principle is that of local representative control. It seems to me that that is a question that can be discussed very fairly in the form of a Resolution. Let me further say that in voting for this Resolution I simply vote for that principle, and for that principle alone. I consider that those of us who vote for it hold ourselves perfectly free from any pledge either as to the form of the tribunal—it might not be a tribunal—as to the form or manner of the representation, or the mode in which the views of the inhabitants of a district will be ascertained. It will admit of the carrying out of the proposal of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J, Cowen), or it will admit of the proposition contained in the first Bill of the late Government. And my hon. Friend must allow me to say that, even in voting for this Resolution, I shall consider that I shall be in no wise acting inconsistently if I take the same course hereafter in opposing the Bill he has so often brought forward that I have hitherto adopted. I have only one point more. I am not so certain as my hon. Friend, or at any rate as some of his supporters, as to the power of the law to stop drunkenness. I do not deny that the law has some power. There must be drink laws. They may be good laws or bad laws. It is our business to pass laws to regulate this traffic, and those laws may increase or may diminish the temptations to drink. It is quite true that this serious national evil is the besetting sin of this country. It is not easy for us sitting here to deal with sins; but, after all, we have imposed on us the responsibility of making the necessary laws with regard to the drink traffic in such a way as shall not increase its temptations. I need not say more to impress on the House my conviction of the great responsibility resting upon us in this respect. I can only say that I look forward with the greatest hope to enabling 680 the best and most reasonable men of a district to deal with this matter.
§ MR. MARK STEWART
I am sure, Sir, the House has listened with much pleasure to the clear and able speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and I may also add that the senior Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley) has spoken with an earnestness that must have carried great weight among many of those who have listened to it. The House has also had from the two front Benches speeches that are calculated to do much, good in enabling it to deal with this difficult question. The question before the House is, to my mind, one of the most important that could be brought under the discussion of this Assembly; and although I have sat in this House during what may practically be called the whole of the present Parliament, I have not hitherto ventured to say one word either in defence of, or against the principle on which this Resolution is founded. When this question comes up in a more practical form, I hope I shall be able to give a cordial support to the measure which may be brought forward. This question is important, not only to this nation, but also to the world at large. It is exceedingly important to us as a commercial nation, especially when we see the statements that are made in almost every statistical work we can take up, the effect being to prove that by far too much of the hard-earned gains of the working classes are spent in drink. When you have before you such a drink bill as my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle has mentioned to-night—a bill amounting to £142,000,000, the greater part of which is paid by the working classes—I think it is time for those who reflect on these questions to hold up their hands and ask what is coming next. If you take the three years prior to and including 1860, and then the three years prior to and including 1877, you will find that the sum of money spent in intoxicating drinks for the last-named three years amounted to the enormous excess of £165,000,000 over the same period ending with 1860. We find, also, that if we turn to another article of commerce forming one of the great staple industries of the country— I allude to cotton—and get at the sum spent on the raw material and the consumed goods in this country, the total 681 value of our cotton goods last year was £10,000,000, whereas we have heard that £142,000,000 was spent in drink. Again, take another view of the raw product, and you will find that whereas 503,000,000 lbs. were consumed in the three years ending 1860, only 395,000,000 lbs. were consumed in the three years ending 1877, showing a decrease of 108,000,000 lbs. Thus the value of cotton goods consumed in the United Kingdom, as compared with the amount of money spent in drink, was 14 times as great in favour of the drink as against the cotton. I think every man who is interested in this question must view it with deep concern. It is all very well to say, "Do nothing;" but I say that when we see the enormous amount of social degradation, misery, and suffering produced among us by the use of intoxicating drinks, we cannot afford to stand still much longer, and it is time that this House should take some action in the matter. It was only yesterday that we heard some stirring words from the highest Law Officer of the Crown (Earl Cairns), who stated thatThere is not at the present day any question, in my opinion, which so deeply touches the moral, physical, and the religious welfare of the world as the question of temperance. It occupies the attention of moralists, statesmen, and divines.But he goes on to say—I have myself but very little hope of making men sober by Act of Parliament.But not only is this question important in regard to trade and commerce, it has also an important bearing on our criminal statistics. "We know that something like 84 per cent of the crime of the country is traceable to drink; at least, this is the calculation that has been made by different parties who have gone into the matter. When it is known that our jails and workhouses trace so many of their candidates to this traffic, can we wonder if philanthropic men take up the subject warmly, and demand some change in these laws of ours, in the hope that such change may produce a beneficial effect? From the time of Sir Matthew Hale down to the last utterances of Mr. Justice Lush, all the high dignitaries of the country have confirmed what I am now saying with regard to the great difficulty attending 682 any mode of dealing with this question. These difficulties confront us at every turn. We have had no less than some 400 Acts of Parliament dealing with this subject. We have bad proposals for free trade in drink, and, on the other hand, we have had attempts at total prohibition, of which latter I am a sincere opponent. We have had proposals for restricting the hours of sale, and we have adopted restrictions on the hours; but we have taken them off again, and yet all our action has ended in a miserable failure. We have had the number of houses reduced; have had licences taken away and licences given. We have heard of protection, and we have heard of vested interests almost all in the same day, as questions of give and take. Almost every Session of this Parliament we have had eight or nine Bills tabled on this subject, and as many Bills have every Session been rejected. We have had Bills dealing with Sunday closing, we have had Bills relating to the hours on Monday, and we have had a Bill for Licensing Boards; and none of them have given satisfaction. Then we have had the Bill of the total abstainers; and, lastly, that panacea for all evils, the Permissive Bill. I never have voted for that Bill, and, as far as I know, I never shall. I think it a measure fraught with great difficulty and great unfairness, not only to the liberty of the subject, but to the liberty of the particular class against which the proposed legislation would be directed. There is one thing that is peculiar about this Permissive Bill, and I will here quote the words which I have taken from the Report about to be issued by the Committee of the House of Lords, which has been considering the subject of intemperance. It is there said—It is safe to say that the great bulk of more than 200 Members who at one time or another have voted for the Bill have done so in response to the declared opinions and wishes of a largo portion of their constituents, rather than from, at the first, any eager zeal or earnest convictions of their own as to the social and political expediency of the measure.It could not be carried out in the large towns throughout the country, where it might be wanted, with any degree of certainty; and in the small towns and country districts it would not be much wanted, and, if adopted, it would either utterly fail as a piece of legislation, or 683 would only end in producing the worst results. Then, again, it is not only unjust that four persons shall control three, a provision that would not only cause much irritation among the population, but it would also, in my opinion, entail an immense amount of drinking in private houses which does not now take place—not to speak of the turmoil that would be created and the amount of local prejudice against the landlords, publicans, and others, which would be stirred up in every direction. So that, as we all know in the local contests that would take place, the real merits of the question would be lost sight of through the introduction of abstract questions having nothing to do with the real point at issue. There is one other point in connection with the Permissive Bill to which I should like to allude, and it is this—we are told that the principle of that measure has been in operation in America and in the Dominion of Canada. Now, it cannot be forgotten that in those countries the climate essentially differs from ours, nor that the law is perpetually being broken in the States of America where it was enacted. I have had personal experience of this in visiting America, and living in the State of Maine, where I found that anyone could go into almost any shop he chose and ask for a certain liquor, calling it either by its proper and orthodox name, or by a name by which it was known, and he would be sure to get it. Now and then, it is true, there is a re-action, and what happens? The old law is re-enacted, and, after a time, it is again broken. Thus the matter goes on without doing any good, and without affording the slightest proof that that panacea is a real panacea for the evil aimed at. As I have said, we cannot forget that the climate there is very different from that of England; that instead of the cold, muggy, damp weather we have so much of here, the air is brisk and bracing, and the people do not require that stimulant which is required here. With regard to the remedies that have been proposed for the difficulty, we have already touched on that which is supposed to underlie this Resolution, which I do not regard in the same way as many hon. Members. I read the Resolution as the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. W. E. Forster) reads it—namely, that it is to give a local option to the inha- 684 bitants if they chose to intrust their interests to the representatives who sit on the bench, and to those who advise and guide the magistrates. In that event, I think it would be a good means of arriving at the truth of the case; but if you give the whole exclusive power into the hands of the inhabitants, you could not do a worse thing in the interests of temperance, because, while there would be a number of people who would adopt the side which this Resolution advocates, there would be a large number, on the other hand, who would give their interest to the public-houses, and that interest would certainly not be of a temperate nature. But there is no doubt that many of us look to other sources and other means for reducing the present excessive use of intoxicating drinks as likely to be more effectual than legislation. There can be no doubt that education is one of those corrective means. I may be answered by hon. Members, who will say that education has been tried for a long time and has failed. At the same time, there are some remarkable statistics on the subject, and I will trouble the House only with one sample. I quote from the evidence given by the Chief Constable of Chester, before the Committee of the House of Lords on the 17th April, 1877. He there gives the number of persons arrested in Liverpool for drunkenness, and states the number of those who were convicted and committed who were unable to read and write at all to have been 25.1 per cent; those who could read, but not write, made 11.3 per cent; those who could do both imperfectly were 51.2 per cent; while the proportion of those who could read and write was only 1.3; therefore, the House will see that of those who were convicted of drunkenness, 97 out of 100 could not read or write perfectly, and only 1.3 could do both well. Then I would point out that we have now a free Press. We have the platform, and we have the pulpit, and their efforts may, perhaps, be more useful than legislation in inducing the working men and others—for it is not alone the working men—to refrain from visiting the public-houses. These are some of the means; but others have been mentioned to-night, such as depriving the Excise of its present control over the granting of licences to grocers, and over the granting of 685 wine and beer licences, and placing all these more directly under the control of the magistrates or those who assist them in their decisions. I would take another illustration from the Australian Colonies. I think it would be a great thing if the character of the houses could be improved. In this country the law requires that a public-house in a town should have four bed-rooms and two sitting-rooms; but in Australia there must be six bed-rooms and a front room. I would suggest that publicans should be required to pay an ad valorem duty in proportion to the worth of the premises. Supposing a public-house to be valued at £1,000, it should pay 5 per cent, or £50 per annum, instead of the 13 guineas now paid, as well by the house valued at £50 as by that which is valued at £1,500. All this takes us back to the starting point—how are you to ascertain the real wants of a district? Had they a right to a seat on the county bench, or any bench constituted for licensing purposes, then I conceive their opinions would be far more fully developed than at present. I quite agree with the right hon. Member for Bradford that in any Bill there must be a maximum and a minimum of houses. I would not go the length of total prohibition, because I do not believe that is possible. One more point, and that is, to reduce the number of public-houses. If what I have suggested were carried into effect, the result would be that inferior and worthless houses would be diminished in number, and you would thus get really good men for those which would remain. At present there are a number of small houses not worthy of the name. In some houses that I can refer to, there is upstairs a suite of apartments let off to lodgers. Other shops, again, had long back passages running into a back alley, conterminous with a number of back-doors of houses, where a regular Sunday trade goes on all day. Should there not be an inspector to look after public-houses of this character? If an inspector was appointed to go about, not in an inquisitorial manner, but rather to learn whether those houses were acting up to their requirements, an enormous amount of drinking would be stopped. You would thus get a better class of houses, and a better class of men to manage them. Again, with regard to racecourses, it is very well known that 686 the drink sold at these places is greatly adulterated, and I myself have known it, when unsold, to be thrown away. It is a great point to get respectable men to carry on this trade. In conclusion, this can hardly be said to be a Party question. The Tories have demoralized by their Beer Act; the Liberals by their grocers' licences. We are much obliged—I speak for myself—to the hon. Baronet for bringing this Resolution forward. He has placed his object so candidly before the House that I shall feel more constrained to vote for it than for the Permissive Bill. Like the right hon. Member for Bradford, I shall go into the same Lobby as the hon. Baronet to-night, and I think I shall, by that act, be doing the best I can for my own locality. I would far prefer a representative system, such as that involved in the Resolution, to a system in which I have little confidence, such as that contained in the Permissive Bill. I feel that if the House accept this Resolution much good will be done, and that this debate will, therefore, not have been in vain.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
Sir, some years ago I voted for the second reading of the Permissive Bill, because, although not approving of the clauses, I agreed with the principle of the measure, and my vote was a protest against the regulations for the granting of licences. Since then, however, I have not voted for the Bill of the hon. Baronet. The Resolution now introduced by the hon. Baronet contains the principle of the Bill, while it is entirely free from those objectionable details which would inevitably lead to turmoil and cause expense. The question, I maintain, is whether the ratepayers ought to have a voice in the granting of licences? I contend that they ought, and for various reasons. For what are the rates expended? Why, on the relief of pauperism, the punishment of vice, and the healing of disease. Now, in all the Returns that have been made, it has been proved that pauperism, crime, and those diseases which are commonly tested by the rates are caused chiefly by drunkenness, which is in itself mainly due to the number of public-houses. Prom statistics furnished by constables at Glasgow and other places, it has been indisputably shown that in proportion to the number of public-houses was the amount of drunk- 687 enness. Not long ago a most interesting inquiry was conducted by a Committee which sat on the Poor Laws of Scotland, and the evidence of all the witnesses was to show that the pauperism of the country was due very much, if not entirely, to drunkenness and the large number of public-houses. In every one of the places from which Returns had been received, it was clearly shown that nineteen-twentieths of the crimes committed were directly traceable to drunkenness, while every assault originated in its influence. The same Returns also revealed the fact that from 75 to 90 per cent of the criminal population were the victims of intemperance. I have read some extracts from the Returns of the superintendents of police, and one of the questions which they were asked to answer was this—"What proportion of those who have come under your cognizance as criminals have been the victims of drinking habits and associates? "The answer varied from 75 to 90 per cent victims of intemperance, and the lowest was 41 per cent; but the proportion generally was from 75 to 80 per cent. Some years ago, Mr. Hume in this House moved for an inquiry into the character of all the prisoners in gaol. An inquiry was made in the case of all the prisoners in the gaol of Edinburgh. There were 569 prisoners present, and they were all asked—"What do you think would be the effect of reducing the number of public-houses?" 504 of them answered spontaneously that they would prefer to have no public-houses at all, and there was a unanimous feeling that a reduction would be a benefit. I will not multiply instances to show the effect of drinking upon crime; but I think I have stated sufficient to prove my point. I come now to speak very shortly of the effect of drinking on disease. A medical gentleman connected with one of the hospitals of London was before the Committee of this House which I have already referred to, and he was asked to tell the Committee what proportion of the patients in that hospital suffered under diseases caused by drink. He was not prepared to state exactly; but he thought about 50 per cent of the cases were caused by intemperance. Such a large figure as that was doubted at the time by many of the Members of the Committee; and this medical gentleman, therefore, determined on returning 688 to his post to make an investigation, and he kept a return of all the patients who came into the hospital, and instead of finding that the amount was 50 per cent, he found that from 70 to 80 per cent of the cases arose from intemperance. Now, Sir, if I have proved, to the satisfaction of the House that the rates of ratepayers are spent in relieving pauperism and dealing with crime, I think it is only an act of justice that if the ratepayers are allowed, to elect their Guardians in this country, or in Scotland the members of the Parochial Board, they should be allowed to have some voice in preventing the crime, pauperism, and disease; and the only way in which that can be done is to stop the cause of it—to stop the drinking, and to reduce the number of public-houses. But there is another point which has not been touched upon, so far as I am aware, in the course of this discussion; but it is a most important point for the owners of property and the ratepayers—and that is the depreciation in the property of a district which arises from the establishment of public-houses. I know of an instance myself, where a man retired from business, and built himself a little cottage, where he thought he could spend the last days of his life; but being afterwards obliged to go and live some distance away, he let the house, and got sufficient money from the rent to pay a proper interest on the capital he had invested in the building. But shortly afterwards another house was erected near the cottage, and a licence was got for it, whereupon this tenant left, and he never could get a tenant afterwards until he got a licence for the cottage also. We see from this, not only that property is depreciated in value for residential purposes, but in this case the owner was compelled to convert his cottage into a public-house before he could let it, and thus to become an agent in the spread of drinking against his will. Surely the ratepayer or inhabitant who is so much injured by drink should have a voice in preventing the erection of public-houses which depreciate the value of his property. These are the reasons which I have for voting for this Resolution; but I would guard myself generally against being supposed to support the Permissive Bill. I have strong reasons for not supporting that measure; but I am quite prepared 689 to support any measure which, is founded on giving the ratepayers a voice in the number of houses which may be licensed. It was mentioned to me the other day that there had been a village built not far from a manufacturing town, and containing possibly about 1,000 inhabitants, and that those people set their faces against the erection of a public-house. But a brewer in the neighbouring town tried to get a licence, but for a long time without success, though he tried again and again. At last he succeeded in getting a licence transferred from one of the houses in the town to one in the village. Now, that was an extreme case of injustice and hardship to those working men, who wanted to be away from mischief of that kind, but who were obliged to have a public-house whether they liked it or no, as it was forced upon them. That is the case also in towns—in large towns. I speak more particularly of the case of Edinburgh, as we have considerable evidence upon that point. Mr. Lewis, a magistrate who appeared before the Committee which I have already alluded to, stated that in the better part of Edinburgh the inhabitants went against the public-houses, and said—"We won't have liquor shops;" and they have an influence and power which the magistrates dare not resist. But the poor and working classes are divested of all influence and power, and, in fact, they have got into that desponding condition that they do not resist. For those reasons, I have much pleasure in supporting the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. Again, I would guard myself from being supposed to give any support to the Permissive Bill; but I certainly will support any measure that will give the ratepayers a voice in the regulation and granting of licences, not by popular vote, but by representation.
§ EARL PERCY
, who had an Amendment on the Paper—That, while it is desirable that some provision should be made for the expression of local public opinion with regard to the licensing question, this House declines to consider the details of any proposal having this object in view until the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance shall have issued their final Report;said, he could not support the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), although 690 he gave him credit for his bonâ fide intention not to identify it in detail with the Permissive Bill. It appeared to him that the mistake of those who had the cause of temperance at heart was the extreme character of their proposals. An instance of that had been shown in the measures which had been introduced into that House for the custody of habitual drunkards. The late Mr. Dalrymple had in the last Parliament introduced a Bill of so sweeping a character that most hon. Members had voted against it. He (Earl Percy) was one of those who voted against it, and when a similar Bill was introduced by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) last year, it also contained provisions of so sweeping a character that it certainly would never have passed the House if the hon. Member had not seen the propriety of excluding a great number of his proposals, and turning his Bill into one of a tentative character and of much smaller scope than the original measure. Unfortunately, he could not assent either to the Resolution under discussion, or to any of the Amendments except his own. The hon. Baronet brought forward an abstract Resolution, and they were obliged to vote for or against it. He was unable to do either without the risk of being misunderstood, and therefore he had given Notice of an Amendment expressing what he was prepared to vote for. The Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle contained one word which it was very inconvenient to introduce; that was "inasmuch." It was unwise to give reasons for the conclusions at which the House arrived. Those who had supported the Resolution had given half-a-dozen reasons for doing so, and they differed from those given by the hon. Baronet himself. He wished to know what was meant by "a legal power of restraining the issue or renewal of licences." He thought at first it meant absolute control; but the Church of England Temperance Association had issued a document showing that they did not regard it in that light; they remarked that the Resolution did not say whether the control should be absolute or conditional, whether it should be by direct vote or through representative bodies; and these observations only showed the extreme vagueness of the 691 terms of the Resolution. How was there to be restraint without controlling power? He did not see how restraint could be exercised without the possibility of its being exercised to the extent contemplated in the Permissive Bill. The Resolution spoke of the inhabitants, and the Bill of ratepayers; and if the House accepted the Resolution it would in this respect be committed to what no hon. Member could intend to vote for. There was no "local option" in the licensing laws of either Scotland or Ireland in the sense in which the term was used in the Resolution. It was not surprising that many hon. Members should identify this Resolution with the Permissive Bill, because the Report of the Committee of Convocation showed that this Resolution was mainly supported by those who also advocated the Permissive Bill. He could not accept any Amendment which declared that it was unnecessary in any way to modify our licensing laws. The Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devon (Sir John Kennaway) began with an "inasmuch," and declared that the inhabitants were most interested and were well qualified to judge. It was a dangerous thing to give reasons for the decisions of the House, and especially to give reasons which went further than the object their had in view; and he did not see any reason for committing themselves to such opinions as these. The question was, whether the House was or was not of opinion that some means should be provided for the expression of local public opinion on this question; but the various details raised by the different Amendments might, he thought, be very well left until they had before them the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords. He hoped for a satisfactory solution of the question from that body; but in the meantime he thought they had sufficient evidence before them, without waiting for that Report, to enable them to decide whether it was desirable or not that some local option should be given. Local option having already been given in many other matters, and a measure for county government being in the immediate future, he thought it was impossible to deny that it was desirable to give some expression to the voice of the ratepayers on the licensing question. His own belief was that it 692 had better be given to selected persons than to the mass of the inhabitants.
§ DR. KENEALY
Mr. Speaker, I regard it as extremely fortunate for those hon. Members who have placed Notices of Amendment on the Paper that they should possess so valuable a guide, philosopher, and friend, as they evidently have, in the noble Lord (Earl Percy) who has just addressed the House. That noble Lord criticized these Amendments in detail, and was pleased to instruct their authors how such documents should be framed in future. His chief fault with each and all is that they state the reasons on which they were founded; and the noble Lord suggested that this was a great error, which no wise man should commit. It is odd, however, to observe how strangely inconsistent is the conduct of the noble Critic with his strictures upon others, for he himself has absolutely committed the same error for which he rebukes these hon. Members. In his own Amendment he gives as a reason for declining to consider the present proposal that we should wait for the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance. Now, if it be admissible for the noble Lord to assign his reasons, I hardly see his consistency in rebuking others for doing the same. But the noble Lord's reason is not a good one. I have no doubt that the Report of the House of Lords will be instructive and valuable. As a rule, I think that the Reports made by Committees of that House deserve all consideration and respect; and if I believed that this promised Report could throw any new light upon the subject before us, I should gladly join in a prayer to wait till we had received it. But does any hon. Member imagine that it will contain anything that we do not already know?—that drunkenness is on the increase; that it is producing the most terrible evils; and that much of its growth is due to the multiplicity of public-houses. This, I apprehend, must necessarily be the sum and substance of the Lords' Report—and if so, why should we put off discussion till it is printed? The wonder to me is, why such advice should be given; or why we should delay an hour in legislating upon this most serious and all-important question. Who, indeed, can contemplate the present condition of our popu- 693 lation—gravely and thoughtfully—without deep regret and alarm? A spirit of intoxication is abroad. Drunkenness is alarmingly on the increase. The public-houses are almost as thick as gas-lamps in the streets. I took a drive some short time since through the East End of London; and in the course of it, though it did not last an hour, I counted 150 public-houses. With such temptations in the way, can it be wondered that intemperance spreads? It does not embrace the rich or the educated; but it absorbs a great portion of our humbler brethren. It is impossible to view this state of things, either as Englishmen or Christians, or lovers of our kind, without the most serious reflections; nor ought we to defer the cure for an hour, if a cure we can find. I listened with great pleasure to the speech of the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Matthew White Ridley), a speech that did him honour for its good feeling, its candour, and its good sense. I was glad to hear the hope which it held forth, that Her Majesty's Ministers may soon be expected to introduce a measure on this subject. I can assure them that if they do, the lovers of temperance will not forget it. It will give them new power, and gain them many new friends; sentiments and speeches such as that just delivered by the hon. Baronet will strengthen their position with all who can rise above Party, and can view this question as philanthropists; as persons who sympathize with human improvement, and with all well-directed efforts to that noble end. But the speech does not give me unlimited satisfaction. It shadows forth, I fear, a continuance of that magisterial jurisdiction in the matter of licences which has already produced many evils. I think the hon. Baronet need not have been alarmed at the proposed introduction of the popular element into the licensing tribunals. He has read, no doubt, the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Devonshire (Sir John Kennaway). The hon. Member is a Tory of Tories—a Tory of the good old school, as it is called; and has, no doubt, as great a partiality for magistrates as the Under Secretary of State himself; and yet he (Sir John Kennaway), with all his predilections, proposes to "associate representatives of the ratepayers with the magistrates" 694 —thus proving that gentlemen of strong Tory principles do not regard such associations as being either dangerous or revolutionary. Another slight fault I have to find with the speech of the Under Secretary of State, which, in most other respects, was ingenuous and straightforward, and marked, too, with special ability. He complains of the Resolution as being vague. I respectfully differ from him. What can be more plain or explicit than the following?—That a legal power of restraining the issue or renewal of licences should be placed in the hands of the persons most deeply interested and affected—namely, the inhabitants themselves— who are entitled to protection from the injurious consequences of the present system?Surely words cannot be plainer than these. I hope the Government will not defer legislation on this subject. In my humble opinion, no time should be lost to grapple with so great an evil as the intemperance which is so widely spread. I pass to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), the chosen child and champion of the brewrers and distillers, the apostle of beer, who is eloquent upon so many publicans' platforms. The hon. and learned Gentleman tells us that this Motion is "inopportune" for legislation of any sort on this subject. This is one of the old fallacies, or assertions, or sophisms, that ever crop up when any measure of reform is proposed. I thought that this crop had long ago been thrashed out. I thought that the poor old thing had died of old age; but here we have it, apparently alive and fresh, and starting from the grave in which I hoped it had been quietly inurned. Inopportune! Can the hon. and learned Gentleman be serious? Can he enter an Assize Court, can he go to Quarter Sessions, and not hear either the Judge, or the Chairman, deploring to the Grand Jury the growth of drunkenness, and tracing to it the alarming increase of crime? Can he walk the streets, and not see them polluted by drink-shops, almost as thick as blackberries? Can he go out at night, and not witness the numbers of drunken men and women in rags—creatures to be pitied, above all others, for their weakness and their folly? Can he view their helpless, half-fed, ragged children, and say that the moment is "inoppor- 695 tune?" To me, on the contrary, it seems most opportune; and we are called upon to seize it, as Englishmen, as Legislators, as Christians. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leeds deprecates the Resolution because it may lead to teetotalism. Would that, then, be an evil? On the contrary, would it not be one of the greatest blessings that could happen to the land? I am no teetotaller myself; but I see in those who are many mental, and physical, and moral advantages which they have over other men. I cannot imagine, therefore, why the hon. and learned Gentleman should look with alarm upon this prospect. He warns us against casting "a slur upon the magistrates," as we shall do if we declare that they have not well fulfilled their duties. I think my observations on the Amendment proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for East Devonshire dispose of this. And he says that "no one has a right to interfere with his tastes and habits." Is this so? Is it either law or morals? If a man has a taste and habit of beating his wife, we are cruel enough to interfere with him. We repress him, as well as we can, by penalties. Why are we not to do the same with the drunkard, who makes his home as miserable—perhaps more miserable even than the wife-beater—who holds forth an example to his household calculated to demoralize and destroy them? Is this no crime that ought to be repressed? Or should we give it impunity because, forsooth, it is one of his "tastes and habits?" I do not agree with this notion; and I say that if we cannot make men sober by education, by example, by morals, or by religion, we must try to do so by Act of Parliament. This fallacy which has prevailed so long, and which has passed into a sort of proverb, melts away like mist when one endeavours to seize it. I have no doubt that just as men are made better citizens by Acts of Parliament than they might otherwise be; are restrained from violence or turbulence, or from indulging their passions upon others; so also they might be induced, and, if necessary, forced, into sobriety by Act of Parliament. It is a strange absurdity that a man shall be prohibited by law from inflicting injury upon others—upon his wife, or child, or a stranger—and yet 696 be allowed to inflict most deadly injury upon himself and those dependent upon him, and upon public morals as well, by an unrestrained indulgence in drunkenness. Much has been said on this theme about the saeredness of individual rights; but there is no saeredness about a drunkard; and all civilized life necessarily implies interference with individual rights in some shape or other; it is part of the price which we pay for law and civilization; and why there should not be that interference with individual rights in regard to drunkenness—if any such "right" exists, which I wholly deny—I confess I am at present unable to see. In conclusion, I must express a hope that when Ministers come to deal with this subject they will have no hesitation about the Grocers' Licence Act. This measure of the late Government I believe to be one of the greatest calamities that even they inflicted upon the Empire. It has been a fertile source of sin and consequent misery. It has put facilities in the way of women getting drink, and drunk, which I suppose its authors did not contemplate, but which as statesmen they should have foreseen. It has brought wretchedness, and want, and woe into thousands of homes, which before that Act were happily exempt from those afflictions. It has destroyed domestic happiness by tempting women into indulgence. It has broken up households that once were happy, because temperate and saving. No greater boon to the country could be offered than its repeal; and I hope the Government will grant us that blessing, which will assuredly return in blessings upon themselves.
§ LORD FRANCIS HERVEY
, who had the following Amendment on the Paper:—That it is undesirable for this House to commit itself to legislation on the subject of licensing till the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance have published their final Report,said, it became his duty to vindicate his conduct in venturing to propose his Amendment to the Resolution of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson); but such was the extreme acerbity of what he would venture to call the more ardent spirits among the supporters of the hon. Baronet, that one found that no sooner had he taken a step that was not absolute 697 submission to the dictates of the hon. Baronet, than one was assailed by correspondence of a very vehement, not to say violent and vituperative character. This being the case, he felt it his bounden duty to say that, although he had given Notice of an Amendment, there was no difference whatever between him and the hon. Baronet as to the magnitude of the evil which both alike deplored. In his judgment, it was impossible to exaggerate the evil or its effects; but if he must tell the truth about his Amendment, which had given the supporters of the hon. Baronet so much displeasure, it was that he found on the Paper an Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) in which he could not possibly concur. He would not follow the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) in criticizing the logic of that Amendment, which was about as bad as logic—or, rather, want of it—could possibly be; but what he complained of in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds was that it took up a position which would be thought absolutely incredible in the case of anyone who really had experience of the enormous evils which intemperance of this country brought about. When he put down that Amendment, he (Lord Francis Hervey) would frankly confess it was quite as much aimed at the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds as it was at the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. He was convinced they could not dispense with any means for lessening this evil. The only condition he was disposed to place upon legislative proposals having that object was that while they should be efficacious for the purpose for which they were intended, they should not clash with those established principles of legislation which, from time immemorial, had been dear to the people of this country. The previous numerous proposals of the hon. Baronet were not such as to render the House easily disposed to agree with any proposal which might emanate from him; and he thought that those proposals had, for a considerable number of years, retarded the very cause which the hon. Baronet wished to promote. ["No, no!"] That was his (Lord Francis Hervey's) opinion. Of course, he did not in any way impugn the sincerity of the hon. Baronet; but that was his opinion of the 698 effect of the hon. Baronet's efforts in the cause of which he had been the acknowledged champion for a long series of years. He (Lord Francis Hervey) was amazed to hear the principles of legislation favoured by the hon. Member for Stoke (Dr. Kenealy). If such principles were adopted, they would have penal laws against over-eating as well as overdrinking. He hoped that legislation so Draconian as that which appeared to recommend itself to the hon. Member for Stoke would not receive much support. The hon. Member for Carlisle had been pleased to take some notice of his Amendment, and had called it a pitiable Amendment. But he was indebted for it to one of the hon. Baronet's most frequent supporters—the hon. Member for Scarborough (Sir Harcourt Johnstone)— who, when he wished to check a Bill for regulating the number of licences, had met it by an Amendment to the effect that until the House of Lord's Committee had published their Report it was inexpedient to legislate. He had copied his Amendment from the Amendment of the hon. Member for Scarborough, for he thought this would be the mildest and most satisfactory course to pursue. He (Lord Francis Hervey) proceeded on the doctrine, fas est et ah hoste doceri, and he considered it the most satisfactory course to be pursued. Was the Committee of the House of Lords to be treated with so little respect that their Report was not to be regarded? Consider first of all the eminence and distinction of the noble Lords who composed the Committee, the vast amount of pains they had taken, the varied and voluminous evidence they had taken, and the position of independence which a Select Committee of the House of Lords necessarily occupied. Was it extravagant to ask the House, before it committed itself to legislation, to wait for the Report of that eminent Committee, and for the proceedings before the Committee which had from time to time been sent for by that House? It was certain they would not have to wait long for the Report, although the hon. Baronet was mistaken in thinking that it was already on the Table. It would be disrespectful to the House of Lords to prejudge the question. He would now pass on to the Resolution of the hon. Baronet opposite. The hon. Baronet said the licensing system was introduced to supply a public want. He 699 forgot that its cause was just the opposite. A licensing system, viewed strictly, was a system, not of permission, but of prohibition. Before the licensing system was instituted this supposed public want was a great deal more than satisfied; and the licensing system was devised, not so much to regulate, as to curtail the supply. Not to go into the antiquarian part of the question, it might be interesting to hon. Members to know, more especially those who were toxophilites, that it was established to promote the art of archery. Shooting at the butts had been greatly neglected, and the licensing system was instituted to promote the practice of the noble science of archery. But it was against the hon. Baronet's conclusions that he had the gravest complaint to make. They were incorrect, and not such as the House could accept. The evil they had to contend with was a definite, a known, and a certain evil. The measures which the hon. Baronet proposed—were they certain, were they definite, or such as the House could agree upon? If the hon. Baronet's Resolution was passed that night, could the House found a Bill upon it? They could not, or, what came to the same thing, their could found 20 or 100 Bills upon it. Then, if they did pass the Resolution, would they be nearer by one clay or one hour to useful legislation on behalf of temperance? The moment they attempted to found a Bill upon the Resolution, the very men who were supporters of the hon. Baronet would be broken up by irreconcilable differences. There would even be room for a measure which left the licensing authority in the very hands in which it was placed already. Had the hon. Baronet, in framing his Resolution, contemplated the maintenance of the magisterial authority? [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: The licensing authority might be retained.] He was not sure whether he entirely grasped the hon. Baronet's meaning. His words seemed to imply that the magistrates might retain their authority, while the ratepayers had a right of veto. But, in that case, the authority of the magistrates would be gone. He thought he had gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) that he considered it possible to retain the magisterial authority under the terms of the Resolution; 700 but that, he was sure, could not be the case. But, assuming that it might be so, why then he must beg to be allowed to make one or two observations. They all knew the story of the razors which were made to sell, not to shave; and this Resolution somewhat resembled them, as it had been made not to act, but to pass. If they were to pile up upon the authority of the magistrates all the different tribunals which the ingenuity of man could imagine under the terms of this Resolution, then he would not hesitate to say that the debate which was going on was a waste of the time of the House, and that they had nothing practical to discuss. They had not before them anything which could advance the object they had in view; and that justified his Amendment, that they should, before proceeding further in the matter, wait for the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords, who might be able to help a halting, a perplexed, and a dissonant House of Commons out of their great difficulty. Unless they did that, they would be committing themselves to a Resolution which, however excellent in intention, was both vague and shadowy, and could not be productive of any good results.
§ MR. ARTHUR PEEL
Mr. Speaker, I have never opened my lips before on the subject of the licensing question, and though I have voted on several other occasions, I have uniformly voted against the Permissive Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson); and it is because I am able to vote for the Resolution of the hon. Baronet to-night that I ask permission to state my views. I have heard a great many criticisms passed on this Resolution of the hon. Baronet; they say the proposition is so vague it means anything, it binds you to nothing, and it is so large it includes any number of Resolutions, big or little. I certainly think the hon. Baronet has, by a skilful stroke of policy, so framed his proposal as to gain as many supporters as possible; and I must say his policy seems likely to meet with a large measure of success. I am willing to admit the real difficulty to begin with will be when a Bill framed on the lines of this Resolution—if it is passed as introduced—is introduced to the House. We should then see that many hon. Members who go into the same Lobby with the hon. 701 Baronet take different views of the question. I do not wish to examine the motive the hon. Baronet has had in framing the Resolution; he is free, as far as I am concerned, to put what interpretation he likes on his Resolution; but, in the same way, I am also free, with other hon. Members of the House, to put what interpretation I please on the Resolution, and I think I put a natural and reasonable interpretation upon it, when I say it binds him, if I vote for it, to the principle of local option. The hon. Baronet will excuse me for thinking him wrong in making the mistake that he put the question before the country in the shape of drink or no drink; and it was impossible for me, and hundreds of other Members, when the question was put thus broadly and nakedly before the country—it was impossible for us to do anything but vote in the affirmative. But when we did not vote for the negative, it did not follow we were in favour of free and unlicensed drinking; we only said we thought it was undesirable, by a vote of the majority of the inhabitants, to absolutely forbid a thing, itself innocent, and in thousands of cases perfectly harmless. But to return to the opponents of the Resolution; we are told that the proposition as it stands is worse than the Permissive Bill, because that Bill, at any rate, depended for its operation on the action of a large majority, while, according to the Resolution, a bare majority of the board or body that it was proposed to create would absolutely decide the question whether there was to be drink or no drink in any locality; so that, whilst voting for the Resolution, we should be absolutely going beyond the Permissive Bill, and voting for something that is ten times more stringent and severe. I should like to ask what is the position some of us formerly took up? We think there is excessive drinking at the present moment; the licences are practically granted in an indiscriminate manner. We think there is no sufficient discretion allowed to magistrates in certain cases; we think that some better control ought to be exercised; and we think that no better control could be anywhere than in the hands of those ratepayers upon whose shoulders all the annoyance and all the burden falls. Holding those views, we are face to face with the following difficulty:— 702 Suppose the licensing body—no matter how created—were to express themselves dissatisfied with the mere control of the licences in a particular locality, and were to desire to take them all away, and to issue no fresh ones; in short, suppose we are advocates of the Permissive Bill, and we think it our duty to make a clean sweep of all drinking houses within our jurisdiction, it is quite obvious, if you vote for this Resolution, some limitation of the power of this new authority would be necessary. It is obvious that an Act of Parliament would be necessary to limit and control this new representative body when you have it. For one moment I should like to ask the House what are the conditions of the licensing system in England? In the first place, it is quite clear you should have some uniformity throughout the country. I recollect when the discussion on the Gothenburg system was proceeding, some hon. Members were of opinion that though it might never become general, it might yet be introduced advantageously into particular districts. I do not believe that so considerable local differences are desirable, and the same objection applies with equal force to the system contemplated in the Resolution. You must have some uniformity throughout the country, or you have chaos come again. More than all, I think you want some security against fluctuations in the trade. A great deal is due, after all, to that trade; a great deal of capital is invested in it, a great many honourable men are employed in the exercise of it, and it is essentially necessary that the conditions which you impose upon it should not be one whit more onerous than are demanded. That being so, I think it is essential that you should lay down certain rules which are to guide this constraint, this licensing body, beyond which they cannot travel one side or the other. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) says he understood him there should be a maximum of public-houses. I think the thing we rather want to assent to is the establishment of a minimum of public-houses. If there is one thing more dangerous than another in this matter of licensing, it is exaggeration of fact, exaggeration of feeling, and exaggeration of speech. I should like to mention a fact before the House, as 703 illustrative of the exaggeration of fact. When the Habitual Drunkards Bill was being debated, an hon. Gentleman stated a case, on high medical authority, that a man who had been a habitual drunkard was sent to the hospital, and when the surgeon at the hospital made an autopsy, when he punctured the body, there streamed from each puncture a gas jet which ignited, so that there were 30 or 40 distinct lights. Now, that was contradicted by the best medical authorities, and an exaggeration of that kind did a deal of mischief. But exaggeration of feeling was just as dangerous, and if in any particular locality there was to be a sort of spasm of virtue coming over the place, and the people were to abstain from the drink, I am quite certain the pendulum, forced in one direction, would swing back as violently in the other, and the result would only be untold mischief to the morality of the place. Well, Sir, I think it has been surmised as to how this new body is to be constituted. I may venture to say what I approve is this—that the magistrates should continue their licensing functions, and should be aided by direct representation of the ratepayers, assessors, or call them what you please, who should bring to the magistrates evidence of the actual state of feeling of any particular district, and the magistrates would, I venture to say, think themselves strengthened and supported by the information so got. So far from resenting that as an interference, the magistrates would be glad to rely upon it, they would derive greater support in the important matter of checking abuses introduced, and in the management of public-houses; in the infliction on offending publicans of penalties that are already provided for by law, but which have become almost obsolete; in the supervision of transferences, especially in the issue of new licences, and in the control of out-door licences. All those matters, which at present are nominally within the present magisterial functions, will come within their actual power and discretion, if they were supported by such assessors, and if the Bill to be framed upon this Resolution were to give them the requisite power. The question of compensation has been raised. I understand the hon. Baronet has neither excluded nor included compensation; at 704 all events, he said it was not excluded. That is the whole point of the matter. If he had said it had excluded compensation, I certainly should not have given him my support. Compensation must be given in all cases where the house was closed on public grounds, and not because the conductor had committed any breach of the law. To reduce the number of licences in such cases as that he referred to without compensation would be a violation of the rights of property and confiscation in the worst sense of the term. I may say that if a Bill was so framed as to give the new licensing body the power which I have hinted at, there would be the very widest scope for legislative action. We have only to go back to the year 1854, when we find a Committee of this House, pro-sided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), and called the Villiers Committee, advised the issue of licences to everybody who was of good character and chose to apply for one—it was to be a uniform licence all round. But in tho present day we have come down to what is called a well-regulated monopoly. I am perfectly aware of the evils of monopoly. I am aware that every interference of licensing by Act of Parliament is, to a certain extent, an interference with the freedom of the trade and creates a monopoly. If I am asked as to the evils of the present system and those of monopoly, I say I am willing to establish a monopoly to this extent—that those who exercise the functions of publicans must do so in such a way that they do not trench on the rights of their neighbours or interfere with the morality of the place. The association of the elected representatives with the magistrates would bring about a gradual reform; it would not operate in the sudden manner that would occur if the change were effected under the Permissive Bill, which would give power to say whether there should be drink or not. Then I think the assessors appointed from the ratepayers should be elected for some period of years, and the strength and support they would give to the magistrates would, in the end, tell on the habits and the morality of the people of any locality.
§ MR. RODWELL
claimed a few words in explanation of the Amendment he had placed on the Paper. That Amendment was as follows:— 705That no new Licence for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors ought to be granted unless the application for such be supported by a memorial of such a character, and signed by such a proportion of the residents in the district to be served, as shall satisfy the Justices that the Licence is required for the wants of the district.If he had entertained any doubts as regarded the vague character of the Resolution of the hon. Baronet, they would have been removed by the speech to which they had just listened, for the hon. Gentleman justified his change of opinion upon the grounds that the Resolution bound him to nothing, and afforded unlimited scope for legislation—he might say, for legislative imagination—for suggestions were made of provisions enough for half-a-dozen Bills. It was not only a vague and unsatisfactory, but it was also an embarrassing Resolution, meant to serve two purposes. If it meant anything at all, it meant the Permissive Bill, and he should vote against it as he would against that Bill. Many temperance reformers would be quite satisfied if the public had some better mode of expressing their feelings and making their wishes known. Justices knew that the present mode of dealing with licence cases was not altogether satisfactory. A primâ facie case was made out, and perhaps there was a feeble opposition; it might be that the opposition had been bought off, or that it had been promoted by a rival publican, and the magistrates were often placed in very great difficulty from the actual want of information. His Amendment was intended to meet that difficulty, by providing that new licences should not be granted unless a substantial demand had been made out and the confirming Justices should be satisfied there was a bonâ fide expression of opinion on the part of those who desired them. That was all the local option that was called for; but it would not satisfy the supporters of the Resolution. That there was no organized opposition but that of the licensed victuallers told rather against the hon. Member for Carlisle. If ever pressure were put upon Members, it had been put upon them to support this Resolution; and if there were opposition, it seemed to him to be all the stronger because it was spontaneous, and was not the result of pressure brought to bear on Members by various parties throughout the country. He could not help noticing 706 that the grounds on which the hon. Baronet based his Resolution were entirely different from those brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley), who admitted that the position for which he (Mr. Rodwell) contended by his Amendment was worthy of consideration. If the hon. Baronet was logical and consistent, he ought never to stop in his exertions until he had swept away every public-house from off the face of the country. He put all the drunkenness and immorality on to the public-houses; if he got rid of that idea, the hon. Baronet would not be so vehement. There were other ways in which drunkenness was encouraged besides at public-houses. The hon. Baronet said it was frightful to contemplate the increase in the consumption of beer just now in this country. There was a very simple explanation of that apparent increase. Some years ago people brewed their own beer at home; but now the common practice of people in towns and counties was to get their beer from public brewers, who had to render a return of the beer that was sold. If he were asked to say whether he thought drunkenness was increasing or decreasing in this country, his answer would be that he thought it was diminishing: and that was also the opinion of many others. From his own personal experience he believed it was gradually diminishing, both in the towns and in the country. Public opinion would have more effect in that direction than any Bill or Resolution ever had or would have. He thought the Resolution might be discarded in favour of his own Amendment, which would meet the views of a great many of those who would vote against the hon. Member for Carlisle, and also of those who were desirous of supporting him.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
I have so much respect for my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, and feel so much sympathy with his object, that it is with very great regret that I find myself unable to support his Resolution. I have always been opposed to the Permissive Bill. I have voted against it, because I considered it an unwise measure and an unfair as well as an inefficient mode of dealing with the question, and I have not yet heard or read anything to change my opinion of it. That there are evils 707 existing in the present licensing system I am ready to admit; and although, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), I have no great faith in legislation as a means of curing a moral evil, I yet am willing to give a helping hand to the hon. Member for Carlisle, if he can show me some practical measure which might have the effect of restraining, if not of curing, the terrible evil of intemperance. But the hon. Gentleman, having abandoned his Permissive Prohibitory Bill for the present, has produced a Resolution of a character which I, for one, cannot give my assent to. I cannot accept, with the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, the Resolution, simply because in it I might find out some meaning of my own invention. And I cannot join with the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel), who says that he will vote for it because he can put upon it any construction he pleases. [Mr. ARTHUR PEEL: Hear, hear!] Well, as I understand the hon. Gentleman—he will correct me if I am wrong—he says any construction he pleases. I was struck with the word, and I took it down. Now, Sir, I venture to think that when an abstract Resolution is proposed to the House of Commons, it should have a clear, definite, unmistakable meaning. The words ought to be of a definite character, of a character upon which you could found a Bill—of a character indicating some particular practical measure of legislation. Can that be said of this Resolution? The hon. Baronet has given us three cases as precedents for his Resolution. He cited the case of the hon. Gentleman who is now a Lord of the Admiralty (Sir Massey Lopes), who, in 1869, brought forward an abstract Resolution about Local Rates. But what were the terms of that Resolution? They were fixed and definite. He asked forA Royal Commission to inquire into the present amount, incidence, and effect of Local Taxation, with a view to a more equitable readjustment of these burdens.When he came to the House, he asked for a Commission of Inquiry, with a view to the re-adjustment of local burdens. Here was a definite object, clearly and unmistakably expressed. So, again, with the Resolution of the late lamented Member for Londonderry 708 (Mr. Richard Smyth). What were the terms of his Resolution? They were—That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that the Law which forbids the general sale of intoxicating drinks during a portion of Sunday in Ireland should be amended so as to apply to the whole of that day.There, again, the terms of the Resolution were clear and definite—the House knew what it meant, and what it was asked to commit itself to. And what was the consequence? A measure was framed upon it, and it was passed by the House. With regard to the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), in 1868, upon the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, it was even more definite, if possible, and more explicit in its terms. The terms of that Resolution were—That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary that the Established Church of Ireland should cease to exist as an Establishment, due regard being had to all personal interests and to all individual rights of property.There was a definite proposition. It was a proposition, too, on which subsequently a great measure was based, and which was afterwards passed through the House. And the right hon. Gentleman added two paragraphs setting forth provisions with a view to that measure. The hon. Baronet, then, could not have cited three more unfortunate instances. Each of those Resolutions was clear and definite. Their meaning was self-evident and unmistakable. They had a practical bearing, and measures were afterwards founded on them in accordance with the very terms in which they were expressed. But what are the terms of the Resolution now before the House? The hon. Gentleman says—That, inasmuch as the ancient and avowed object of licensing the sale of intoxicating liquor is to supply a supposed public want without detriment to the public welfare, this House is of opinion that a legal power of restraining the issue or renewal of licences should be placed in the hands of the persons most deeply interested and affected—namely, the inhabitants themselves—who are entitled to protection from the injurious consequences of the present system by some efficient measure of local option.We are called upon to grope our way through this prolixity of words and disjointed sentences, in order to arrive at a definite meaning, and then you find 709 not one meaning, but a great many possible meanings. I could not, if I were asked to frame a Bill upon it, know what kind of Bill to frame. So we have the right hon. Member for Bradford drawing one deduction, and the hon. Member for Warwick another; and we have had other hon. Members treating this proposal of so-called local option each in a different way. Now, the hon. Baronet means the Permissive Bill, or he means nothing. We have heard his opinions on the question so often that it is unnecessary to go into them now. But the Permissive Bill is the meaning and intention of this Resolution. The hon. Baronet does not say so in so many words; but he speaks of the question of compensation in the same way that he has dealt with it before. He speaks of the licensed victuallers as already having got a bonus, and he says we were asked to give them another bonus, in order to get rid of them. There can be no doubt that the Permissive Bill is what he means by his Resolution, whatever others might infer from it, and I test his meaning in this way—would the hon. Baronet accept the interpretation put upon his Resolution by the right hon. Member for Bradford, or by the hon. Member for Warwick? Or would he accept the Gothenburg system as its meaning, or the plan of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen)? Yet all these interpretations might be put on the Resolution, and they have been put upon it by some hon. Members who are supporting it, because it is so varied in its meaning, and so many-sided. I ask, then, is that a Resolution which can lead to any certain practical measure of legislation? I believe that it will not commend itself to the House, and it certainly does not commend itself to me. I take another objection. There is confiscation in this Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford says there shall be a legal power of restraining the issue of licences. What is that but putting a stop to their issue? We know what restraining means in the Court of Chancery. It is to prevent an act being done. But, supposing it were otherwise—supposing it was checking the increase of the number of licences, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose—what are we to say about the renewals? Are they to be checked, too 710 —in other words, refused? Under this Resolution, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, who is against the Permissive Bill, says that he is unable to agree with this part of the Resolution, and yet he is able to support it. One word on the question of renewals. We are told that there is no property in licences, and that it has been so decided in Courts of Law. It has not been so decided, but the very reverse; and I appeal to any lawyer whether a licence, once granted, is not, for all practical purposes, a licence in perpetuity, unless forfeited by some illegal act? Consider for a moment what man in his senses would invest capital in order to establish a business, if it could be taken from him at any time, or at the end of a year? It was never so intended to be by law; and not only the practice of renewal, but the statutory provisions for renewing licences show this—that it was the intention of the Legislature that a licence once granted was to be renewed from year to year, unless it was forfeited by some act of misconduct, as laid down by the law. The hon. Baronet, in his Resolution, says that the ancient and avowed object of licensing the sale of intoxicating liquors was to supply a supposed public want without detriment to the public. I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's history in this particular. I say that that was not the ancient and avowed object of licensing. The public want existed, and was supplied, before the licensing system began. At Common Law any person could open an inn or ale-house, and carry it on without a licence, and there was no restraint until the time of Edward VI., when the system of licensing began in the form of a recognizance entered into by the innkeeper—and this was avowedly for the purpose of regulating the conduct of the houses, and preventing disorder in them. In the reign of James I. a number of Statutes were passed, all of them dealing with the management and conduct of the houses; so also in the reigns of Charles I. and II. During these reigns there were Statutes to restrain—what? Not the sale of intoxicating drinks, or to limit the number of the houses, but disorder and drunkenness in them. This was the object of those Acts known by the name of the "Tippling Acts." I cannot, therefore, 711 concur in giving my sanction to the statement in the first part of the Resolution as to the ancient and avowed object of licensing. The public want existed before any of these Licensing Acts, and it was supplied freely before and after them. The Licensing Acts were passed for the purpose of regulating the conduct of the places where intoxicating liquors were sold. Now, then, as to local option, what is it? What does the hon. Baronet mean, or intend the House to understand, by "local option?" I waited anxiously to hear from him something for our guidance upon what has been termed the principle of his Resolution; but, I must say, I waited in vain. The hon. Baronet did not, with his usual frankness, explain his meaning to us. What is local option? One right hon. Gentleman says that it means one thing, and another something else, others anything you please, a great many things, including the Permissive Bill. I think it was the duty of the hon. Gentleman, if his words were open to so many constructions, to tell us what local option meant, or what he intended us to understand by it. He says that it does not necessarily mean the Permissive Bill, and that it would not pledge anyone who might support his Resolution to support the Permissive Bill; and he left it to the ingenuity of hon. Members to find out some other meaning, or as many other meanings as they could extract from his words. I think that is not a fair way of dealing with the House. I think it is not right for an hon. Member to place a Motion, the terms of which are so vague that it is impossible to fix upon them any one definite meaning, so wide that they might embrace conclusions of the most opposite and objectionable kind. I say that a Resolution which is intended to enforce a principle should make it clear what that principle is, and how it is intended to give effect to it. In accordance with the precedents cited by the hon. Baronet himself, it should be in such a form that practical legislation might be founded upon it. Since I have been in this House, this is the principle I have always heard laid down by those of high authority; and when abstract Resolutions have been proposed, I have heard it objected again and again that Resolutions should not be introduced upon which a definite practical measure 712 of legislation could not be founded, and hon. Members have been asked—"Why have you introduced a Resolution like this? We should know what you mean; do not give us vague and general terms that may mean anything or everything." That is what the hon. Gentleman has done now. And when he talks of legal powers, I do not think I am called upon to say whether they should be exercised by Local Boards or Representative Boards, or by what other method. But suppose you give these legal powers to corporate bodies, then the members of these corporate bodies, instead of being elected for their fitness for the proper work of a municipal council, would be elected on the question of temperance or intemperance. So it would be with Local Boards; it would be with the single idea of supporting the particular object. I do not myself see any mode of dealing with this question by the action of a popular franchise. I do not say that some measure might not be framed to which I could give my assent; but, at the present time, it seems to me that the Resolution of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Rodwell), who spoke before me, is very similar to the one which I have placed upon the Paper, and that it would go a great way towards solving the difficulty. I am quite of opinion that local wants and wishes should be consulted, and that these are not sufficiently regarded now. I have had sufficient observation of the working of the present system to satisfy me that it is capable of improvement; and what I would do—whether you retain the licensing authority in the magistrates, or hand it over to the other local representative bodies—would be this—I would lay down fixed conditions by law for the granting of new licences; and I would limit, as far as possible by those conditions, the discretionary power now exercised by magistrates—for in a number of cases it is only another term for caprice. The licensing authority should be made to feel that they have a solemn responsible duty to perform, and that they must perform it under the sanction and requirements of the law. Among the conditions, I would make it incumbent upon them to inquire into the wants of the locality, and to conduct their inquiry with care and strict impartiality, and neither to grant nor refuse a licence except upon evidence duly taken 713 and properly considered. At present the only conditions required by law are the suitableness of the premises and the responsibility of the person applying for the licence. Beyond these, the magistrates need not go. I think that they should be bound to go a great deal further. I think that the population should be taken into account, and the number of licences existing in a district, before a new licence be granted. I believe the effect of such provisions as I have sketched out would be that the wishes and wants of localities would receive due consideration, which is not now the case, and that no unnecessary new licences would be issued. I have placed upon the Paper an Amendment embodying these views. If adopted in the form of legislation, I believe that in the course of not a very long time we should have a diminution in the number of public-houses, and no undue granting of licences in the future. At the proper time I shall move the Amendment I have placed on the Paper. At present I only regret that I cannot support the Resolution of my hon. Friend; and I certainly cannot give my adhesion to the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend opposite (Mr. Wheelhouse).
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY
, who had on the Paper the following Amendment:—That, inasmuch as the inhabitants of a locality are the persons most interested in the due regulation and proper conduct of the liquor traffic, and are well qualified to judge of the requirements of their neighbourhood, this House, while it is not prepared to submit the Licensing question to a popular vote in any locality, is of opinion that representatives of the ratepayers might advantageously be associated with the magistrates for the purpose of determining upon the issue or renewal of all licences to sell intoxicating liquor within the area of their jurisdiction,said, he was thankful that all the speakers were agreed as to the necessity for a diminution of the evil of drunkenness. He regarded the action of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that night, in bringing forward his annual indictment against the liquor trade, not as a change of front, but as a change of tactics; and, abandoning the policy of bringing forward a Bill, he had adopted the policy of bringing in a net of wide dimensions, in the hope that all who were anxious that some action should be 714 taken would be able to unite on some common ground. That agreement would, however, be dearly purchased by the dissension and difficulty which would arise immediately the matter was in such a state that action might be taken upon it. For his part, he was willing, as shown by his Amendment, to assent to some local option, or expression of local opinion, if the question were brought forward at the right time, in the right way, and by the right person. Another objection to the Motion of the hon. Baronet was that it came tarred with the permissive brush, and was, in fact, an attempt to induce the House to take a step in the direction of the Permissive Bill, which it had on several occasions, and with good reason, rejected. This being so, and it being admitted that the Permissive Bill was impracticable and hurtful, he could not but think that the cause of temperance, which all desired to see promoted, would suffer if the Resolution of the hon. Baronet were passed. In saying this he must also express satisfaction at the fact of the Motion having been brought forward; because it enabled the discussion to take a wider and more practical scope than would otherwise have been the case, and would, he hoped, implant the germs from which beneficial action would spring in the not far distant future—action which would have the effect of diminishing, if not exterminating, the evil of drunkenness, from which this country had suffered so much and so long. It was necessary that action of some kind should be taken. The means for the supply of liquor were far in excess of the wants of the population. There was a public-house for every 200 of the population, and temptations were, therefore, very freely placed before the people. "The sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done;" and working men and others were not able to resist the temptations which were before them. Since 1834 Parliament had been striving to put down the evil of drunkenness. The hon. Baronet said it could only be put down by the suppression of public-houses. The licensed victuallers were hopeful in the spread of education to find a remedy; the grocers said the public-houses were the cause of all the mischief. None of these remedies would, he believed, meet the case they had to deal with. It had been suggested that 715 the sale of liquor should be regulated altogether by popular vote. He was no admirer of the popular vote system, seeing what stormy meetings had occurred in the country on the proposal to establish public libraries. The rate in that case was only one halfpenny in the pound; and what would be the result when the question of licensing came to the front? He thought, therefore, that the question of the popular vote was not expedient, and would be fraught with evil consequences. He was equally of opinion that prohibition would be entirely out of the question, since it would interfere with individual liberty and public convenience. There was also the question of compensation, for a large amount of licensed property had been acquired under the sanction of the law, and dealt with under the sanction of the law, and the law had decided that that licence could be held and protected so long as a man continued to fulfil the conditions of that licence and conduct his house properly. He held it wise and expedient that restriction should be carried out, and that they should endeavour to bring about a reduction in the number of public-houses. He believed that that could be done without injustice to the present holders; and the question was by whom it should be carried out. It would be hardly fair to cast this additional duty on the magistrates. They were not the best people to judge of the wants and needs of the people, seeing that they did not mix with them. He thought that, for the purpose of bringing about this reduction, the ratepayers should be associated with them. If it was objected that the principle set forth in his Amendment was new, he would submit that it had been followed by the present Government in their Artizans Dwellings Act, which empowered the inhabitants of localities to rid themselves of injurious works on paying fair compensation. He believed that the provisions of the present law were sufficient to secure order and sobriety, and that all that was necessary was that the magistrates should be more warmly supported by public opinion in carrying out the law. A large proportion of licensed victuallers were in favour of the reform he had indicated, and he invited temperance reformers to come to some reasonable compromise on a question which could not be long delayed, and 716 which every right-thinking person must desire to see set at rest.
Mr. Speaker, I think it seems almost necessary to recall the attention of the House to the fact that we are at this moment discussing the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), and I think it will be very generally agreed that it is a most remarkable fact that throughout the whole course of the debate, now extended so far into the evening, not a single speech has been made in favour of the Amendment, except his own. At this stage of the debate, things are looking very mournful indeed for the fulfilment of that prophecy which the hon. and learned Gentleman made recently at a Licensed Victuallers' dinner—that he would take the great majority of the House under the shelter of his wing, and lead them to victory. It seems to me, Sir, that the course of the debate, as far as it has gone, abundantly vindicates the line of action which my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle has taken upon this occasion. He has been treated very generously by the speakers who have preceded me, although out-of-doors there may be some persons found ready to taunt him with what he has done. He has at length recognized the fact—and I honour him for it—that outside the band of earnest men who have hitherto followed him, there are many as honest and earnest as he is himself in the desire to grapple with a great and growing evil. I commend him to-night for his great liberality in abandoning this line of action, which he has hitherto believed to be the best, in order to move a Resolution which should afford an opportunity to all in this House who differ from him in point of detail to make, at all events, a protest that, whether the details of the measure be settled by him or by others, they are at one with him in believing that the wants of a locality, and the necessities of a district, ought to be consulted in the direction of temperance reformation. Every previous speaker, I may say, has spoken in favour of some description of local option. Attempts have been made to entangle my hon. Friend, by cross-examination across the floor of the House, as to what interpretation he would put upon "local option." I fully admit that the phrase is an elastic one, and that it has been selected 717 for its elasticity. I will explain what I mean. For 200 years the licensing system has recognized the necessity for elasticity. This House has recognized the fact over and over again, and the law recognizes it. At present you have visible evidence before you that the system is elastic, because you give the Justices of the Peace power to grant, refuse, or, under certain conditions, to revoke existing licences altogether, if they think proper to do so. Is not that an elastic system? And is it not in this way—though not local option as I understand it—a recognition of local individuality, of local necessity, of wants and requirements? There is a new feature of this principle generally approved of in this House to-night; but I venture to assert that the kind of local option which the general concurrence of the House has welcomed during the debate is, nevertheless, a stranger to the Statutes of this Realm. The Statutes of this Realm do not recognize local option in the sense that the House has welcomed it whenever previous speakers alluded to the matter. At last, we are brought face to face with this great fact, that happily for England—for this country—the House of Commons, the voice of the country, is in favour of public morality, and is in favour of restricting the drinking habits which unfortunately hold possession of the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, in his Permissive Bill, had very few details; but it was always open to this reproach—that it afforded no alternative beyond "all or nothing." There was no middle course possible under its provisions. There was no option given under it to the locality which did not want total repression. In 1874, I introduced a Bill to remove this defect in my hon. Friend's proposal. I allowed three courses, the number which we are told exists in everything. I allowed a locality a medium of restriction before total prohibition; but, be that as it may, it was time for the hon. Member for Carlisle to take note of opinion out-of-doors, and of the opinion of this House, which went to prove that, although there was a large majority sensible of the evil of the drink traffic, and ready to grapple with it, yet they shrank from his proposals, because they went too rapidly to extremes. But he has had the common sense and the statesmanship to address 718 his observations to what, undoubtedly, is the preponderating desire of this House and of the country at large. Now, as to what my hon. Friend means by local option. Let no hon. Member be deterred from voting for, or led away to vote against, the proposal, because of any interpretation save what the words themselves admit of in their grammatical construction in plain English. I may wish to press the principle of local option to a considerable extent. Some other hon. Member may wish to see it restricted; but I most earnestly deny that the vote should be taken on the extent to which some hon. Members might be inclined to say the principle would be carried under cover of the words of the Resolution. The House is bound to vote on the words as they are on the Table, and no attempt should be made to twist them into any construction beyond that which, as I have said before, they grammatically bear. I am sorry that the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) and the noble Lord the Member for Bury (Lord Francis Hervey) are not now present, because they were strong in their endeavours to alarm the House as to what the Resolution might cover. It has also been greatly objected that the House is called upon to decide upon a great and important question by a vote on an abstract Resolution. I would most respectfully ask the House to remember that many great questions which have been dealt with by this House have been fought up to the verge of legislation on abstract Resolutions. As well might it have been asked some years ago—"You ask for vote by ballot, but how will you vote? Will the hon. Member tell us what he means by ballot-balls in a box, or what he means by ballot-papers? He has not told us how the papers are to be marked. This abstract Resolution is meant to inveigle us into something before we know what it is." The same thing might have been said with respect to the Irish Church Resolution. Why did not someone taunt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) by pointing out that he did not explain how he meant to deal with the question of commutation. "Will you recognize recent endowments? Will you go back to 1840 or to 1701?" I appeal to the House to rise beyond the artifices of debate. The Re- 719 solution does not appear to me to be too abstract in its character or too much wanting in detail. If my hon. Friend had confined himself to so abstract a Motion as to say that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to introduce without delay measures for the relief of the evils of drinking, that would have been an exceedingly abstract Resolution, and I could in that case have understood the noble Lords Members for North Northumberland or Bury arguing against it. But, Sir, you will allow me to quote from a Resolution moved in this House by the present Lord Beaconafield, then Mr. Disraeli, who shattered the Whig Ministry of the day by an abstract Resolution. He was too wise to entangle himself with details, and he moved the following abstract Resolution against the Government of Lord John Russell:—That the severe distress which continues to exist in the United Kingdom, especially amongst that important class of Her Majesty's subjects, the owners of land, renders it the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to introduce without delay such measures for the relief thereof as may be deemed advisable.That was an abstract Resolution—a very abstract Resolution—for Lord Beacons-field did not attempt to specify what measures were required; but I do not suppose that the noble Lord the Member for Bury, had he been in the House when it was brought forward, would have made an eloquent speech against abstract Resolutions. I shall not at this late hour of the evening enter into the various other arguments that have been suggested against my hon. Friend's proposal during the course of the debate; but I think it necessary to say one word as to the turmoil mentioned in some of the Amendments—that disturbance and not which would be introduced throughout the country by allowing the ratepayers to decide upon a matter of this kind. Well, I contend that this is the whole principle of the British Constitution. The people are allowed to decide for themselves in Parliamentary, municipal, and school board elections, and why not permit them to decide upon a question which is, permit me to say, as vitally important to the welfare of the nation as one or other of those matters? The whole genius of the Constitution is wrapped up in the principle of leaving the people to decide for themselves. In 1861 I had a 720 conversation with a Roman Catholic ecclesiastic who had just returned from Naples where he had an interview with King Ferdinand, to whom Lord Palmerston had just administered a severe rebuke. The noble Lord, as we know, was rather fond of administering lectures and advice to European Sovereigns. It was because he had not granted a Constitution to his Neapolitan subjects. The King said to this dignatary that the English Government wanted him to adopt a system like theirs, and in proof of that he referred to The Times' account of the late contested election. He said—"Look at these scenes of riot and confusion and discord throughout the country. Yet this is the system you want me to adopt among my people, to set them by the ears every election." King Bomba only forestalled some hon. Gentlemen who rise to-night to say that it would be a very disturbing thing to poll the people upon a question which so nearly and so dearly concerns themselves. I can only congratulate the House that at last all bye-issues have been swept aside, and we are face to face with the simplest issue that it is possible to put forward upon this great and daily growing question. It is this—? shall we or shall we not take the people of the country into our counsels upon this subject? Shall we not allow them in their own localities to press their views in some measure at all events upon the functionaries who may be intrusted with the right to grant or to withhold these licences. I cannot doubt that in an age which has sanctioned certain boards, and so allowed the people to enter into our counsels, or rather to manifest their own desires in matter of education, sanitation, and municipal self-government, Parliament will be willing to give them a voice in the great question of the regulation of the drink traffic. I, for my part, rejoice that so many hon. Members have risen to support the Resolution who have hitherto voted against the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. It shows that the hon. Baronet was not wrong in assuming that there was sincerity in many of the declarations hitherto made by those who differed from him. I welcome the adhesion of such voices here to-night; and I do not doubt but by approving the principle of allowing the people of a district some control in this matter, the 721 House will be entering this evening upon a path of wise and beneficent legislation.
§ MR. D. DAVIES
Sir, but for the speech of the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, I should not have said a word upon the Resolution before the House, because that Resolution is broad enough to take in everything that we all want. I took his words down at the time, and if lam wrong, I hope the hon. Baronet will correct me; but what I understood him to say was that no new licences are now granted. If that were the case, it would not be much for the Government to make it an absolute law that none should be granted. Suppose a man bought up the licence of a house that was a nuisance to the neighbourhood, and that the people did not want, it should not then be lawful for the magistrates to grant a licence again in that locality without the consent of the people. I do not propose to remove the licensing power, but only that the magistrates should not grant a new licence without the consent of a majority of the people interested. I have always supported the Permissive Bill, although I never did believe in it—I supported it for want of something better. I knew it never would have any effect, because there was no provision in it for the protection of vested interests, and I knew that the poor publican would come with tears in his eyes and say—"If you do this you will take my living away." The publican is generally a very popular man in the country—he would gain the people over to his side by representing that his living was being taken away without compensation. All I ask is that no new licence should be granted where compensation has been paid. I do not want to confiscate anything. I do not want to take anything from anybody. I was happy to hear the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) speak up in the way he did, and I gathered that he would support the principle I am advocating. I will give you a case in point, which is worth 1,000 theories. Take the case of a large colliery where 700 or 800 people are employed. A public-house is opened within 100 yards of the pit's mouth. The colliery proprietors would be willing to purchase it at almost any price, in order to get rid of it; but, as the law now stands, if they did purchase it, a new 722 one would be built in its place, and they would be no better off. I know several colliery proprietors who have bad to fight the very agent who granted them the lease, because he would insist upon putting a public-house close to the pit, for the reason that he could get £50 or £60 a-year rent, for a public-house, when he would only get perhaps £5 for a cottage. I put the case simply and plainly to the Government, and they will be able to put it together in some shape better than I can. There is an inquiry going on as to the cause of accidents in coal mines, a subject in which I and many others are very much interested. Take the case of one of the South Wales collieries, where 700 men are employed, and work in two shifts, 500 in the day and 200 at night. The 200 men come to their work at 6 o'clock in the evening. I am very pleased to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer taking note. I am sure he will help me when he understands the matter, and I think I can make him understand it. A great number of the 200 men having had the day to sleep, and having finished their sleep at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, will then come to the pit and lounge about, and call at the publichouse before they go down. They are good, able men—men who can earn large wages. Many of them are timber men. There is a foreman at the top of the pit; but the question is, when is a man drunk? A man may get in a muddle, and have his senses pretty well gone, yet still be able to walk pretty steady. I know several such. [Laughter.] I will explain the work these timber men have to do, and the House will see that it is no laughing matter. If the House understood it as well as I do, I am sure some steps would be taken. These men have to take timbers out and put new timbers in, when there is a great squeeze of perhaps 12 or 15 tons of loose rock on the top. Men muddled by drinking for two or three hours at the public-house at the top of the pit are in danger in taking the posts out of letting the stones down, and over and over again I have known men killed in that way. Not very long since I was called to my own pit to be told that two men had been killed in taking the posts up, and I had every reason to believe they had been drinking before they went to their work. I was willing to 723 purchase the public-house, and to pay a large price for it, to get rid of it; but as the law stands a new public-house would be opened if I did so, and I should be none the better off. These public-houses are many of them in the hands of brewers, and some of them are making £1,000 a-year, while the men are half starving. There is no reason in calling upon us to protect the lives of our workpeople, while they are left free to endanger their own lives and the lives of others, by getting muddled with drink before they go down the pit. I dread the idea of an explosion. I know what a dreadful thing it is. The collieries with which I am connected are among the most fiery in the whole Kingdom, yet the men go drinking about before they go down, and there is no knowing what the consequence may be. I have no wish to take up the time of the House, but I do earnestly press the Government to do something in this matter. I shall support the Resolution, of course, because it is broad, and any Bill can be brought in under it. I only want Government to understand the difficulties we have to contend with. I have known a case where certainly 19 out of 20 of the inhabitants petitioned the magistrates not to sanction a public-house, but with no effect; and I had myself to employ a solicitor to prevent the very agent who gave me my lease from putting up a public-house close to the pit. Of course, that was very unpleasant. The hon. Baronet the Under Secretary has said that practically no new licences are now granted, and it would not therefore be much for the Government to make this alteration in the law, that where there is no vested interest, no new licences should be granted till the majority of the people say they want it.
§ MR. PELL
said, the hon. Baronet in his Resolution was putting the cart before the horse. Instead of proceeding first with a Resolution and then with a Bill, he had brought in a Bill again and again and failed, and now he tried his hand on a general Resolution. He must caution his hon. Friends against yielding to the seductive advice of the hon. Baronet opposite. If they now voted for his Resolution they would be taken to have changed their opinions, and to have become converts to the principles of the Permissive Bill. The 724 Resolution was not brought forward in the interest of temperance generally. The hon. Baronet had said that there was no organized opposition to his proposal but by the licensed victuallers; whereas there was an organized opposition by the Clergy, 13 of whom had sent a Memorial to him (Mr. Pell) from the town of Leicester. Some of them were in favour of the Resolution, but were opposed to a Permissive Bill. A great part of the debate that night had reference only to towns with large populations; but he wished to say a word about small country places. The hon. Baronet talked about "local option" with a maximum and a minimum rule, which meant that if they had a large proprietor in a parish, or in an adjoining parish, it was to be in the option of that gentleman or lady who saw some drunkenness along the road to put a stop to the sale of beer in his or her village. Hon. Members opposite had vehemently opposed the truck system, and maintained that agricultural labourers should not be paid partly in money and partly in beer; but if to men of that class beer was, as he held, a necessary of life, the House must be very careful not to enable one or two influential persons in a district to prevent working men from obtaining a beverage which was perfectly wholesome, merely in order to debar a few intemperate individuals from procuring the means of intoxication. If they stopped the sale of beer in villages, they would then have the drunkard going out like a torn cat at night over hedges and ditches buying, perhaps, a miserable allowance of bread and flour for his wife and family, coming home drunk, dropping the bread and flour in a ditch and losing them. Unless the hon. Baronet would show he was going by his proposal to check the desire for drink as well as the opportunities for getting it, he should not feel himself right in voting for his measure. Minimum meant monopoly, and a small district of 300 or 400 persons handed over to a small brewer and nauseous liquor, while they were debarred dealing with the large brewer. Were they perfectly sure that the amount of drunkenness in a district depended upon the number of public-houses or the opportunities for drinking? He believed it depended rather on the light in which the people of the district regarded drunkenness and the Poor 725 Law Guardians treated the members of the drunkard's family. Already, he believed, it had been proved before the House of Lords' Committee that no great town of England, in proportion to its population, had so many opportunities for purchasing drink as Norwich, and that in no other town had there been so few convictions for drunkenness. This result might be due to the character or the poverty of the people of Norwich, to the influence of the Clergy, to the police regulations, to the incapacity of the stomachs of the inhabitants to hold the liquor, or to the quality of the liquor itself. But such, he believed, was the fact. As far as they could judge, independently of statistics, drunkenness was diminishing in this country. Hon. Members should not forget what their forefathers were, and what were their habits. It was not, in the time of their forefathers, an unusual thing to finish their bottle or two bottles of wine in a night. They had heard of a famous Resolution carried in that House which had been settled by two statesmen, and arranged over 13 bottles of claret. In the present day it was a disgrace for a member of the upper classes to exhibit himself in a state of intoxication. That idea had come down to a class below, and, among the middle classes, a man was discredited if he was guilty of intemperance. Public opinion was operating upon him, and public opinion was doing what, he ventured to say, the hon. Baronet would not succeed, by his proposal, in doing—checking intemperance. He (Mr. Pell) had faith in the lower orders, Tory though he was, and he believed those influences would extend themselves to that order; and, as they got better paid and had better bread and meat, had better opportunities for moving about, more chances of being brought under the eye of their fellow-citizens, they would get rid of this miserable habit of drunkenness. Something, no doubt, was due to physical causes. Take a miserable creature suffering from illness, who could get no other relief, perhaps, than in a pennyworth of gin—why should she be denied some such temporary relief? He believed as people became better educated the habit of drunkenness would die out. He had faith in the people and faith in education, and he did not despair that without the proposal of the hon. Baronet the 726 evil which it sought to repress would be removed.
§ MR. STANSFELD
Sir, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), I have hitherto voted against the Permissive Bill, and shall do so again if that measure is reintroduced. But I intend to vote for the Resolution now before the House, and I trust the House will allow me briefly to explain why I do so. First of all, I take leave to congratulate the friends of temperance in this House upon the debate which we have had to-night, for I have noticed several features in the debate which I cannot but think a cause for congratulation to the friends of temperance. I think that on the whole, and I say it in spite of the remarks which we have just heard from the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), I think that on the whole there has been a growing feeling in favour of the principle of local option, though there has been evidence of difference of opinion as to the conditions under which that local option should be exercised. But, at any rate, it cannot be denied that there has been strong evidence to-night from both sides of the House of a desire on the part of hon. Members that some further legislation should take place, and that some combined effort should be made, by discouraging the temptations to drink, to produce some beneficial effect on the drinking habits of the people. The hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State (Sir Matthew Ridley) has gone further, and has intimated an intention on the part of the Government to legislate on the subject. I do not think I misinterpret his speech, when I say that he objects both to the Resolution and to the Amendment; he thinks it not wise to legislate until the time has come when the Report of the Lords' Committee on Intemperance can be considered. But the hon. Baronet not only maintained the necessity of further legislation from the point of view of the promoters of temperance, but he went so far as to indicate the lines of a possible future Government Bill. I understood him to say that he is of opinion, and I presume the Government are also of opinion, that grocers' licences should be placed under magisterial supervision. I understood him to suggest some greater measure of police 727 supervision—some greater exercise of magisterial discretion; and he went further even than that, and suggested a somewhat novel, but I believe sound notion, of an increased rating upon houses occupied and used as public-houses. These, I think, are very good evidences of the state of opinion in the country and in the House; and whatever may be the fate of this Resolution, I think we may congratulate ourselves on the fact that the Government are disposed at some early period to deal further with the question. Well, now, Sir, it has been said that the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) is a vague Resolution. The hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State says that it is vague, it is abstract, and that it is unmeaning, and that, therefore, it is not fair, because it will cover every variety of scheme. Now, it appears to me that that criticism of the hon. Baronet is not itself a fair criticism. The Resolution is not a vague Resolution. It is true that it is a general Resolution; but that is a totally different thing from saying that it is a vague Resolution. It is a Resolution, no doubt, that would cover a variety of practical measures; but, on the other hand, it is one that contains within itself the expression of an object and of a distinct and intelligible principle. The object laid down by the Resolution is the promotion of temperance, by the removal of the temptation, of the opportunities for drinking; and the principle of the Resolution is that the inhabitants shall be consulted as to the amount of accommodation for the sale of drink which the locality really requires, and that they ought to be called upon to give their opinion on such a subject as that. Well, now, that is a principle the truth of which it is not possible for me to deny. I hold, and I always have held, although I have always voted against the Permissive Bill, that the people most entitled and most fit to pronounce upon the real requirements of a locality are the inhabitants of that locality or their representatives, however those representatives may be chosen; and if I am told that because the Resolution now before us is general, and because under it my hon. Friend might afterwards propose his Permissive Bill, I should therefore vote against it, I reply that I have quite as good a right 728 to stand on this platform as he has, and that that, at all events, is no reason why I should deny the right of the inhabitants of a locality to exercise their judgment on the question of the amount of public-house accommodation required. The hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State, in the course of his clear and unmistakable speech, laid down a principle which I confess I was surprised to hear enunciated by him, and one which I do not think will bear discussion in this House. It was the very broad principle that there should be no interference with any trade whatsoever save in the interests of public order. Now, if the Government are prepared to take that ground, it is a very strong and wide one, and it is undoubtedly a ground on which they are bound to object, not only to the Permissive Bill, but also to the Resolution of my hon. Friend. But I entirely take issue with them upon that ground, and I go further and say, if it is their ground, where is the justification for the Bill which was introduced by the hon. Baronet the present Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), by which he put the beerhouses under the magistrates? Surely they were not put under the magistrates simply on the principle of preserving public order. The view of my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury and of the House was that the facilities with which licences were granted by the Excise multiplied the temptations to drink; and one object in view was the same as that which my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle has—namely, to diminish the number of licensed houses, and so to diminish the temptations to drink. But everyone who knows the existing licence system knows very well that it is not only founded upon the idea that it is the duty of the magistrates to refuse licences with a view to the preservation of public order, but that it is a duty which the magistrates are supposed almost universally to fulfil, to consider the requirements of the neighbourhood, and not to grant licences in excess of those natural requirements. And I maintain that, whatever the principle and view of the Government may be, I do not believe they will find the House prepared to go with them in that enunciation of principle—that they should be guided by no other object than that of maintaining and promoting public order, 729 and that in any legislation they proposed they should utterly disregard the question of diminishing the temptations to drink by diminishing the number of houses for the sale of drink. Well, but the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) did not say that the Resolution was vague; he said, on the other hand, that it was the Permissive Bill in disguise, and that is a view which has found repetition at the hands of various speakers to-night. Well, I do not think that that is a correct—I might almost say I do not think that that is a fair—view to take. So far as the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle was concerned, nothing could be more candid, and nothing could be more explicit. He told the House distinctly—and he cut the ground from under his own feet if his hidden purpose is to re-introduce the Permissive Bill—he told us distinctly that though the Resolution would justify to his own mind the Permissive Bill, it would also justify other very various and different measures of local option which other hon. Members might prefer. And my hon. Friend was not content with that statement, but went further—and I confess I am surprised that no one who has followed him has yet alluded to this admission of his—when he said distinctly, as I understood him—and he will correct me if I am wrong—that if he could succeed in carrying his Resolution, the consequence would be—first of all that the Government would be bound to introduce some measure on the subject. I think we must all admit that, in such an event, the Government would feel under an obligation to take up the question and introduce some measure which might possibly fall within the four corners of the present Resolution. But, failing the action of the Government, what did my hon. Friend say further? Why, that it would be his consequent duty not to re-introduce his own measure, the Permissive Bill; he has failed in persuading the House to carry that; and he has candidly told the House that in consequence of that failure he has taken wider ground, and gone upon a platform upon which he invites others, who do not agree with him in the Permissive Bill, to join him. And he told us that, should he carry this Resolution, he should call his Friends together in this House, not out of it—those who had 730 supported him upon the Resolution which he had carried, and in consultation and counsel with them he should propose, not the Permissive Bill, but some practical measure of licensing reform. Well, then, I think that it cannot be denied that my hon. Friend has dealt most fairly with the House, and that he has offered a common ground on which those who are very desirous of promoting the cause of temperance and who think it will be promoted by diminishing the temptations to drink, and who think, further, that that result may best be attained by giving the inhabitants of the locality some power by some efficient measure of local option of declaring the real wants of the locality may stand. But the Resolution of my hon. Friend is not the Permissive Bill, for another reason. It is not his own Resolution originally, and it is not the Resolution of the United Kingdom Alliance—it is the Resolution of a Committee of Convocation, and that is a body which has never to my knowledge committed itself to the Permissive Bill of my hon. Friend. There is certainly one addition to the Resolution which is not exactly part of the Resolution of the Committee of Convocation; but what is that addition? He has added to the Resolution of the Committee of Convocation a certain number of words by which he proposes that the power of the inhabitants of the locality to restrain the issue or renewal of licences shall be carried into effect "by some efficient measure of local option." Now, Sir, I say that these words, "by some efficient measure of local option," are a record upon the resolution by my hon. Friend of his intention and desire not to commit the House of Commons—not to commit those who may follow him on this occasion, to his own Bill or to any other specific measure, but only to commit them to the general proposition that by some efficient measure of local option, the particulars of which are in future to be discussed, the object and principles which he has at heart shall be maintained and carried out. I think, Sir, that the clear meaning of the Resolution is admirably described in a letter which. I, in common, no doubt, with other Members of the House, have received, signed by H. J. Ellison, and addressed to the Editor of The Church of England Temperance Journal, in which he says— 731It will, of course, be said that the Resolution is only the Permissive Bill in another shape. A little consideration will, I feel sure, show that it is not so. It proposes to give to the inhabitants a 'legal power' over the licences. What this power shall be—whether absolute or conditional—extending to actual prohibition, or limited to a gradual and larger restriction; whether it shall be exercised by direct vote of the inhabitants, or by duly elected representative bodies; whether, again, it shall go on to the entire control of the houses themselves, with their hours of opening and closing; and whether or no it shall be enabled to compensate deprived licence holders, and how—all these are details which Parliament, if it pass the Resolution, would still retain in its own hands, and which would become matters for subsequent legislation.But before I sit down, let me go a little further for a few moments. I think the fairest thing I can do is to indicate, without intending to detain the House by exhaustive explanation or argument—to indicate the line on which, in my opinion, as a supporter of the Resolution, the work of practical legislation might be carried out. That, I think, is a course of proceeding which cannot be said to be deficient in candour on my part. I confess that one serious, and, as I have always felt it to be, fatal error in the Permissive Bill has been that, while it has professed to be a measure of local self-government, it has really turned against the principle of local self-government—because, though it professed to give an option to the inhabitants of a particular locality upon the accommodation to be afforded to the liquor trade, it in an arbitrary way restricted that local option. Under the Permissive Bill, all that the inhabitants or ratepayers are entitled to do from time to time is say "Aye" or "No" to this specific proposition—"Shall the liquor trade be entirely suppressed?" As we have been told already to-night by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), this is a defect, and I think we must all of us admit that in point of principle the Permissive Bill does not give what I call an efficient local option. Therefore, I say the Permissive Bill would not be the true consequence of passing this Resolution. The Resolution of my hon. Friend, if adopted by the House, would pave the way for an efficient local option, by enabling the inhabitants, whether by direct vote or through representative bodies, not only to determine whether they would suppress the liquor trade, or 732 leave it as it is, but how, and to what extent, they would modify and control it. Well, Sir, I would give a power of that kind, and I would go further, and say in what way I would propose to give it. I think the true principle to adopt would be this—to sever what I would call the judicial function of the persons in the magistracy of deciding on the issue of individual licences from the more general function of deciding and authoritatively declaring the measure of the needs and requirements of the locality. I am prepared to admit to the hon. and learned Member for Leeds that if a scheme were proposed for the constitution of a representative body in a locality, which should not only determine generally the amount of the needs of the locality, but should also determine upon the issue or refusal of individual licences, that it would lead to a good deal of what we call "ear wigging" and canvassing, and to some turmoil in local elections; and I, for one, am prepared to say that a measure of that kind would, in my opinion, have a very dangerous influence upon the local government elections of this country. But if you sever the special function from the general one in the way I have suggested, I think you get over that difficulty and that danger, because no individual interests would, be directly affected, and in my belief almost any local governing body, whether a municipal corporation, or a local beard, or a Board of Guardians, considering this subject, would be likely to come to a general conclusion that it was advisable to limit the amount of the opportunities for drinking. Now, the way in which a general resolution of that kind would operate is extremely easy to foresee. If the local governing body passed a resolution of that kind, the immediate consequence would be that the magistrates would cease to issue new licences. They might pass a resolution against their issue for a given number of years, or against it until the number of licences in the district was reduced to a certain amount. Besides the natural diminution in the number of houses which would arise from the acceptance of a Resolution of this kind, there are various practical measures not inconsistent with the rights and interests of those who hold property in licensed houses, which might be carried out with that object in view. We are, however, all agreed that 733 the time has arrived when something should be done, and that we cannot rest content with the law as it stands at present. I believe that if this Resolution is adopted, we shall have taken a great step in advance, and that afterwards, not the Permissive Bill, but some practical measure of local option may be accepted by the House which would decidedly diminish the temptations and opportunities for drinking, and also—and this is, at least, of equal importance—eventuate in the creation, promotion, and consolidation of a public opinion in favour of order, of temperance, and of moderation, which would be productive of the most beneficial influences upon the drinking habits of the people.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
I hardly know, Sir, whether the hon. Baronet who introduced this Resolution to-night (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) is to be sincerely congratulated upon the addition which he has received to the ranks of his supporters through the change of purpose which he has shown; because, if I look at the Resolution of the hon. Baronet, and then compare it with the speeches of those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have supported him on the present occasion, but who have constantly voted against his Permissive Bill, I think he can hardly congratulate himself on having attained, that which I believe he has at heart. Let me look for one moment at what the hon. Baronet says, and at what is said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The right hon. Member for Bradford is prepared to support the Resolution, or, at all events, that part of it which goes to the creation of local option; but he says frankly, at the same time, that it must be accompanied by certain limitations which he has described as to the minimum and maximum of the number of houses in a district. Now, Sir, the principle of the Resolution moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle is, as I understand it, that the locality shall have the power not only of restraining and limiting, but also of doing away with public-houses, because, beyond the fact of restraining the issue of new licences, the hon. Baronet's Resolution goes to the doing away with the renewals of licences in existing houses; and therefore, if his Resolution is adopted as it now stands, it will practically be the 734 Permissive Bill in another shape, as it amounts not only to the dealing by local option with new licences, but also with the refusal to renew existing licences, and so far as it goes to that extent, I think I am entitled to say that the right hon. Member for Bradford would not support it. As to the hon. Baronet's other supporter, the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel), so far as I could gather from a speech to which I listened with some attention, he is only prepared to assent to the proposal if limited to local option of the most restricted kind; and he pointed to what he considered should be the proper system to be adopted, and that was the appointment of certain assessors to assist the magistrates in the exercise of their jurisdiction-—in fact, agreeing in a great measure with the hon. Member for East Devon (Sir John Kennaway) in the Amendment which he has placed upon the Paper. We have listened now to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld); and there, again, that right hon. Gentleman tells the House that he adopts the Resolution, and will vote for it, because it is not the Permissive Bill; but that if it were the Permissive Bill he should not support it. Under these circumstances, although the hon. Baronet may gain a certain number of additional votes for the moment, he can hardly be supposed to have got that support which he was really aiming at—support for the Bill which he has constantly brought before us, and which he has always failed to carry. The hon. Baronet himself, even with regard to local option, seems to give rather an uncertain sound. At the commencement of his speech he described a number of measures submitted to the House, some of which had been passed by it, all of which contained, as he said, the principle of local option. He even went so far as to describe the Act that I myself carried in 1869 as containing the principle of local option. If that local option is the one which the hon. Baronet professes, I go heartily with him in the wish that it may be placed upon the Statute Book. What we have to consider, however, is whether local option, as a regulation, is a remedy for an evil which everyone admits, and which everyone wishes to see remedied. I venture to think there are other ways of dealing with this question than by 735 the haphazard sort of Resolution placed before the House, upon which everybody may engraft everything they want. I have always felt, I confess, that while there is adopted in England a system of regulated monopoly, such as the licensing system, it cannot be intrusted to any other authority than the magisterial authority of the country. It must be remembered that the chief fault found with the magistrates, and the chief charge brought against their administration, is a fault inherent in the law itself. Under a system of regulated monopoly you have intrusted to the magistrates the power of dealing with full licences; but you have taken from them the discretion as to other licences. You have said to them—"While you shall use discretion with regard to full licences and the wants which they are supposed to meet, you shall have no such discretion as to the others." What was the result? From that time the magistrates have refused to increase the number of full licences, and during the last 10 years fewer of these have been granted than anybody is aware. Off licences, on the other hand, have increased very largely, and are increasing, and the magistrates are unable to check them. In the reported evidence of a Commission sitting in "another place," it is shown by several witnesses that the number of "off" licences is increasing with rapidity, and spreading in vast numbers in streets and towns; and it is on account of the immense increase in the facilities afforded for drink, which it is impossible for the magistrates to check, that the hon. Baronet persists in bringing forward this Resolution, which he believes will remedy the evil. I quite believe that if some years ago the attempt had been made, or rather had been sanctioned, to carry out in its entirety the discretion vested in the magistrates, by permitting the magistrates to deal with every class of licence, we should have heard far less of the complaints which are now so rife among us. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), congratulated the hon. Baronet on the general opinion expressed during the debate that some legislation was necessary. I am not going to dispute it, for I hold some legislation, as shadowed forth by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State (Sir Matthew White 736 Ridley), is legislation which must, before long, come under the notice of the House. What was hinted at—magisterial discretion, dealing with off licences, and increased qualification for licences—are all subjects to be considered and discussed. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld) in the interpretation he put on the Act which I had the honour to introduce. The right hon. Gentleman said that beerhouses were put under the magistrates with the view of diminishing the number of houses; but that was the result of the legislation, rather than the intention of the Act. What was brought to the notice of the magistrates was that in beer-shops no police inspection was possible, and that, therefore, disorder of every sort and kind went on. It was only after they were brought under the magistrates, and, consequently, under constant police supervision, that a large diminution in their number took place, in consequence of their being so carefully looked after that a number were shut up. All licensing measures are carried out in the interests of order, and this particular trade is interfered with to protect the public from the disorders which may arise when materials so likely to produce it are constantly present. In looking at the Resolution of the hon. Baronet, I cannot separate from it the history of the past, and the fact that the local option he here proposes bears a very strong resemblance to the local option which appeared in his Permissive Bill. I am fully convinced that we have quite as effectual a remedy in our hands, if we choose to use it, by giving magistrates their proper function. I believe that the local option indicated in the Resolution must be illusory for the purposes we have in view. The hon. Member for Cardiganshire (Mr. D. Davies) drew attention to mines, and the possibility of creating on the borders of mines a public-house at which the miners would make themselves unfit for their dangerous work. But the hon. Member forgot that it would not be the owners alone who would have the option in deciding whether there shall be a public-house or not, but that the working men would have a part of the local option. It is because of the difficulties of local option that I object to it. What we want to get in the licensed victualler's trade, whether in full licences or in beer- 737 houses, is men of sufficient capital and interest in the business to make it a loss to them if they misconduct themselves by running the danger of losing their licences. We do not want to bring into these houses, as conductors of the trade, men who, from the uncertainty of their position, and from their liability to lose their licences at any moment, would be making the best use of that movement at the risk of any amount of offences against their licences in order to make as much money as they could during the short time their licences last. I have always felt that our aim should be to bring into the trade as respectable a class of men as possible, with sufficient character and sufficient interest to make it certain that they will conduct their establishments properly, and to see that the police regulations are such that the trade shall be properly conducted, and that the law is properly observed; and, further, to give to the magistrates what they do not now possess—namely, full discretion in dealing with all licences so that they may do in the future—as they have in the past—in the full licences—regulate the number of licences to the requirements of the neighbourhood. A suggestion was made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) that the magistrates should be obliged to take evidence on the question of the wants of the locality. I see no objection to it, for, in my opinion, every facility should be given them of forming that opinion, and, if necessary, I would impose on them the legal obligation of doing so. With these additions to, and amendments of, the existing law, I believe you would obtain a system, which would far better meet the requirements of the country than by any attempt to introduce a system of local option such as is suggested in the Resolution.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I rise with some reluctance to make one or two observations upon this question, which will be in a different sense from those which have been generally made from this side of the House. But as I am unable, after giving the subject the best attention in my power, to take entirely the view of the Resolution of my hon. Friend, or the view which has been taken by some of my right hon. Friends and hon. Friends, and as I believe there are also a considerable number of Mem- 738 bers on this side of the House who have not spoken, and who yet take the same view that I do, I cannot reconcile it to my sense of duty to give a silent vote on this question. It has been repeatedly said to-night that this is not, and ought not to be, a Party question; and I may add that the tone of the speeches delivered on both sides of the House this evening have, at all events, shown a most laudable desire to avoid Party issues on this question. Indeed, I believe when we go to a Division some difference of opinion will be manifested upon that side of the House, and certainly there will be a very considerable difference of opinion on this. But, nevertheless, it is impossible for us to conceal from ourselves that this is a subject which it has not always been possible to treat as one devoid of a Party character. I am not making any complaint of this. All I wish to do is to put before the House how this has occurred, and what, in my opinion, ought to be the position taken in regard to this question of the Resolution of my hon. Friend by those who, like myself, have always been unable to support the principle of the Permissive Bill. It will be in the recollection of the House that the late Government introduced, in the year 1871, a Bill dealing very extensively with the licensing question. That Bill was considered by the licensing victuallers of the country to contain things unjust to them, and it was condemned by them, though my noble Friend (Lord Aberdare) stated at the time that he fully admitted the existence of an interest, although a qualified interest, on the part of those who hold licences, and that that interest ought to be clearly considered. The Bill never came to a second reading, much less to a careful discussion in Committee. Apparently, it was not possible to defend the equity of the provisions which were proposed by the Government; and it was not possible that these propositions should be amended in a way which was not unjust to their interests. In the year 1872 another Bill was introduced, which was passed into law. That Act, it is universally admitted, has not been injurious to the interests of the licensed victuallers, but has tended, on the contrary, to increase the value of their property in every case where the house was well conducted, or was even so tolerably 739 well conducted as to avoid animadversion on the part of the police or the magistrates. Notwithstanding that, it is perfectly well known that we upon this side of the House were exposed at the last Election to the unmitigated hostility of almost the whole of the licensed victuallers' interest. Under these circumstances, I do not think the licensed victuallers can have any ground for complaint, if they find their interests are not very sedulously considered by Members who sit on this side of the House; and they cannot be surprised that considerable hostility is sometimes expressed against them and against their trade. I have always thought—and I have never concealed my opinion—that such considerations as these ought not to make any of us unjust towards the members of that trade. I look upon them as engaged in a trade which is both legal and legitimate. It is a trade which is exposed to a great many risks and a great many inconveniences, and to a great many circumstances, besides, which must be extremely disagreeable. It is one, therefore, which perhaps is not likely to tempt within it the highest class of those who are engaged in commercial or trade pursuits. Upon that account, and also on account of the very peculiar nature of the trade itself, I hold that it is perfectly legitimate and perfectly necessary for Parliament to legislate for that trade, to restrict it, and to impose burdens which would not be tolerated or dreamed of in the case of another trade, for the purpose of the protection of the public. But, at the same time, I think we ought to be just, and even conciliatory to the individuals who are engaged in the trade. I think it is not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of the public, that those who are engaged in that trade should be of such high respectability and position as can be secured. Now, I do not think it is calculated to secure the entrance into that trade of the most respectable or desirable persons that they should be continually made the subjects of attack, and should be perpetually threatened with legislation which there is no immediate possibility will be brought into operation. I am not going to speak on the subject of the Permissive Bill. The Resolution which is before us professes to be, and is, no doubt, intended to be, something entirely and distinctly different. The Resolution 740 has been supported by my right hon. Friends the Members for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), and for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), and by other hon. Members on this side of the House, as being one which solely points to some measure of local option. I understood that the Under Secretary for the Home Office (Sir Matthew White Ridley), and the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), to speak somewhat strongly against the introduction of local option in any shape whatever. I am unable to agree with those hon. Gentlemen. The Under Secretary said he looked upon the licensing functions of the magistrates as of a judicial character. I am inclined to look upon them as rather of an administrative character, and I do not think they are functions which necessarily or inseparably are connected with the judicial capacity. The case is conceivable in which they would be better exercised by authorities of an administrative character. In fact, I need scarcely remind hon. Members that I have been myself, as a Member of the late Government, a party to a measure which proposed the introduction of a considerable extent of local option. That was the principle of the Bill to which I was a party. Therefore, I was not prepared then, nor am I prepared now, to controvert any proposition which may be made to the House which contains the principle of local option. Therefore, in the sense in which it is supported so strongly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, I am not disposed to oppose that Resolution. But then, in my opinion, the Resolution ought to be very clearly defined; and it ought to be shown that it does mean local option, and that it does not mean anything more. But this Resolution does not mean local option alone, and it does mean a good deal more. Much has been said to-night on the subject of abstract Resolutions. I cannot think that my hon. Friend (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was very happy in the precedents which he quoted to the House. Those were very much more definite in character, and pointed much more clearly to the objects and the means by which they were to be attained, and I do not think they are very sensible precedents for his purpose. But the Resolution which is now before us appears to me to contain a vice 741 which is not by any means inherent to abstract Resolutions in general, much as I have heard them condemned by a very high authority in this House. The general objection to an abstract Resolution I take to be that, while there is an agreement amongst a large number of Members in the House as to the object to be aimed at, there is a want of agreement, or, at any rate, a want of careful consideration of the means by which that object is to be accomplished. The means of accomplishing the desired object are too frequently either evaded or ignored in an abstract Resolution. But in this Resolution, not only are the means by which this object is to be accomplished not stated, but, so far as I can find, there is no agreement whatever between the supporters of this abstract Resolution and the object which it aims at. My hon. Friend, the Member for Carlisle admits with great frankness—I did not expect less from him—that his Resolution would cover the Permissive Bill. He said also that it would not pledge anybody to the details of that Bill. In my opinion, the Resolution does cover the principle of the Permissive Bill; and when I first read the Resolution, my impression was that it meant the Permissive Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford argued that the Motion is consistent with restriction, but not with prohibition. I do not feel so clear as to the meaning of the Resolution as my right hon. Friend does; but if he is right in his contention, it only increases the objection I have to a Resolution so vague as this. There are, in my opinion, three ways of dealing with what my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle calls the drink question. The first is free trade; the second is regulation; and the third is prohibition. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle objects to the first two, and sees no virtue in anything but the third. My right hon. Friend who sits by me (Mr. W. E. Forster) does not believe in free trade, and he does not believe in prohibition; but he does believe in regulation. Both my hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend think that the principle of local option may be useful in support of the system which they desire to see carried into effect; and therefore they are both able to make what I must venture to think is a superficial agreement, the basis of which is but an adjunct and an 742 accessory to the principle which they really have at heart, and which they wish to see put into action. I must say I cannot see what advantage is gained, either by my hon. Friend or by my right hon. Friend who supported him, by this Resolution. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle has always been of opinion, and still is, I believe, of opinion, that all measures for regulating this traffic have failed. I read an article which he wrote in a magazine upon this subject only this month, and what he says, therefore, may be taken to be his very latest opinion upon this subject. Nothing can be stated more distinctly than the opinion there expressed that regulation is a failure, and must be a failure. He says—In my humble opinion, all attempts to make the trade in a brain poison beneficial to the community must, from the nature of things, be a failure, for you cannot regulate an irregularity.Having described the various attempts made to regulate this trade, he finishes by saying—He would, indeed, be a careless observer who would say that if the liquor trade be injurious it is the fault of the men who have it in charge.Then, he again repeats—I have said that, in my opinion, the policy of legislative regulation has had a fair trial under the most favourable circumstances, and has broken down.Very well, Sir. Then, what does my hon. Friend expect to gain for abandoning the position which he has always taken up—that prohibition is the only remedy for the evil of intemperance—and for obtaining the assent of the House to a Resolution which has been proved, by the speeches of its supporters, can be represented to be another attempt to regulate in a new way the trade which, in his opinion, is incapable of regulation? Then, Sir, what advantage does my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford expect to get from this Resolution? He is extremely anxious that the principle of local control by the ratepayers should be adopted in some way or the other for the better regulation of the traffic in drink. In order to do this, he will have to go into the same Lobby as my hon. Friend, who candidly avows, as he always has avowed, that his desire is not to regulate, but altogether to suppress this 743 traffic. I do not wish it to be supposed for a moment that I imagine the present law to be altogether and entirely satisfactory. I was extremely glad to hear the speeches of the Members of the Government opposite, in which they have stated that they cannot support the non possumus Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheel-house). The Act of 1872 was a very important Act, and made very considerable changes in the law. It was not probable that those changes would prove to be in their operation immediately or altogether successful; there were some of them, to a very considerable extent, in the nature of experiment; and while many of them, I believe have worked very beneficially, it is not reasonable to suppose that they would actually put down the vice. Besides that, the Act of 1872 has been altered, though the opinion of most of us on this side of the House is that it was not amended. It is fair to say that. It is also a very fair subject for consideration whether these alterations are not also capable of being re-considered. But, Sir, what we want, in my opinion, for a satisfactory amendment of the law, are not abstract Resolutions, as to the meaning of which no two supporters of the Resolution are probably agreed, but some practical suggestion as to the working of the law in regard to the traffic in drink, and the failure of the present system. From this point of view, I must say I feel very considerable sympathy with the Amendments proposed to be moved by the noble Lord the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lord Francis Hervey), and the noble Earl the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy). I believe in the inquiry of the Committee of the House of Lords, and I do not desire to pledge the House as to what should be its legislation till the Report of the House of Lords' Committee is made, or till any other inquiry is made; but I believe that the inquiry of the Committee of the House of Lords has been conducted by very competent men—that they have taken a very great deal of time and a very great deal of trouble in the inquiry, and that they are now open to make their Report. I do not mean to say that we can accept any suggestions which that Committee may make without discussion or consideration; but I do think it is not unreasonable to ex- 744 pect that they will be able to make some practical suggestions in their Report, which may be of very great assistance to the House when it comes to re-consider this question. But, Sir, I must say that I am unable to see that a satisfactory solution will be, in the slightest degree, advanced by the passing of this Resolution. I will not say it is trifling with the House, because the tone of all the speeches made in its support have been so earnest, that no one can for a moment doubt that my hon. Friend and all those who have supported him are animated by the sincerest conviction of the evils brought upon the people of this country by intemperance. One cannot doubt that they look at the matter from the most serious and grave point of view; but, at the same time, I cannot think that the cause of practical legislation will be advanced, or practical legislation itself assisted, by passing a Resolution as to the meaning of which there is so much doubt, and as to which it has been so conclusively proved that those who are about to support it hold the most opposite and different views. I am unable, Sir, therefore, to support the Resolution of my hon. Friend; and it is scarcely necessary for me to add, even if the Government had not announced their intention of opposing it, that I shall vote against the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds.
§ MR. H. SAMUELSON
, who spoke amid great interruption, said, as he was about to vote for this Resolution, he felt himself bound, in honour to his constituents, not to give that vote without explaining the reasons why he did so. ["Divide!"] He would do so as briefly as he possibly could. ["Divide, divide!"] It was his misfortune, not his fault, that he had not spoken at an earlier period of the debate; for he had tried during the last three hours unavailingly to catch the Speaker's eye. ["Divide, divide!"] He trusted that the House would now extend to him the indulgence it always gave to hon. Members who had to address it under similar circumstances. [Cries of "Divide!"] If hon. Gentleman were determined not to hear him, he would not persevere; but if he was not allowed to speak, it might prevent him giving a vote on the question before the House. ["Divide, divide!"] It appeared to him that the 745 House was so tired that it was impossible that the subject could be fairly-discussed, and he should, if necessary, conclude his remarks with a Motion for the adjournment of the debate. He wished to place on record his opinion that the time had arrived when some attempt should be made to deal with the question as a practical one. He had never voted in favour of the Permissive Bill, nor could he do so now. He did not believe that that measure was likely to be carried in the end; but he wished to state his opinion that the present licensing system ought to be restricted. He did not believe in absolute prohibition; and in voting for this Resolution he did so without in the least endorsing the principle of the Permissive Bill. [Great interruption.] He would not persevere against the wish of the House; but he thought that it might have heard what he had to say. In yielding to the wish of the House that evening, he trusted that he should on some other occasion have the opportunity of stating his opinions on the subject.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he did not desire to say a word more on the subject, for his Motion had been very fully discussed, and he was quite satisfied. But he did desire to make two statements by way of correction. He mentioned in a part of his speech that the Bishop of Peterborough gave his full adhesion to the Motion. From what his Lordship had since told him, he found that he did not convey his meaning with perfect accuracy. His Lordship never pledged himself to the exact words of the Resolution, but only to the object sought to be attained. He also mentioned some proceedings of the Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, when he found he should have said the Presbytery of Edinburgh. These were the only corrections he had to make.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he would not attempt at that late hour to discuss the subject. He objected both to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), and the Motion of the hon. Member for Carlisle. The strictly proper course in such a case was this—On the preliminary Question that the words of the Motion stand part of the Question to be submitted to the decision of the House, to vote with the "Ayes." Such a vote was presumed to be a vote against an Amendment, for 746 the admission of which it refused to make an opening. Then, in the event of the original Motion coming to be put to the House, to vote against that; and this was the course he should adopt.
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. and learned Gentleman has an explanation to make, no doubt the House will hear him.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, he merely wished to put a question as to a matter of form. As he understood, the Question put to the House would be—"That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." He would like to know whether, in voting that these words should stand part of the Question, he was voting for the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question immediately before the House will be that the words of the Resolution proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle shall stand part of the Question. Supposing the House were to say "Aye" to that proposition, it would be carried. On the other hand, if the proposition were negatived, then the next proposition put to the House would be that the words proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) should stand part of the Question.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 252: Majority 88.749
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Brassey, T.|
|Allen, W. S.||Bright, Jacob|
|Anderson, G.||Bright, rt. hn. John|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Brocklehurst, W. C.|
|Backhouse, E.||Brogden, A.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Brown, A. H.|
|Barran, J.||Bruce, Lord C.|
|Baxter, rt. hn. W. E.||Burt, T.|
|Beaumont, Colonel F.||Cameron, C.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Campbell, C.|
|Benett-Stanford, V. F.||Campbell, Lord C.|
|Biddulph, M.||Campbell, Sir G.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Campbell-Bannerman, H.|
|Chadwick, D.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Chamberlain, J.||M'Clure, Sir T.|
|Chambers, Sir T.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Cholmeley, Sir H.||M'Laren, D.|
|Clarke, J. C.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Marling, S. S.|
|Close, M. C.||Massey, rt. hon. W. N.|
|Cole, H. T.||Matheson, A.|
|Colman, J. J.||Middleton, Sir A. E.|
|Corbett, J.||Milbank, F. A.|
|Corry, J. P.||Morgan, G. O.|
|Cowan, J.||Morley, S.|
|Cowen, J.||Mundella, A. J.|
|Cowper, hon. H. F.||Mure, Colonel W.|
|Cross, J. K.||Noel, E.|
|Dalrymple, C.||O'Clery, K.|
|Dalway, M. R.||O'Conor, D. M.|
|Davies, D.||O'Donnell, F. H.|
|Davies, R.||O'Neill, hon. E.|
|Dickson, T. A.||O'Reilly, M.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||Otway, A. J.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Palmer, C. M.|
|Dodds, J.||Palmer, G.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.||Parker, C. S.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Peel, A. W.|
|Dundas, hon. J. C.||Pender, J.|
|Egerton, Admiral hon. F.||Pennington, F.|
|Philips, R. N.|
|Ewart, W.||Potter, T. B.|
|Ferguson, R.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Fletcher, I.||Rashleigh, Sir C.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.||Richard, H.|
|Fry, L.||Roberts, J.|
|Gladstone, W. H.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Gordon, Sir A.||Rylands, P.|
|Gourley, E. T.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|Gower, hon. E. F. L.||Samuelson, B.|
|Grant, A.||Samuelson, H.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Smith, E.|
|Harrison, C.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Harrison, J. F.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Havelock, Sir H.||Stewart, J.|
|Herschell, F.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Stuart, Col. J. F. D. C.|
|Hill, T. R.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Holland, S.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Holms, J.||Tavistock, Marquess of|
|Holms, W.||Temple, right hon. W. Cowper-|
|Home, Captain D. M.|
|Howard, E. S.||Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-|
|Hutchinson, J. D.|
|Ingram, W. J.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|James, W. H.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Jenkins, D. J.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Jenkins, E.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Johnstone, Sir H.||Waddy, S. D.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir U.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Kenealy, Dr.||Whitwell, J.|
|Kensington, Lord||Whitworth, B.|
|Laing, S.||Whitworth, W.|
|Laverton, A.||Williams, B. T.|
|Law, rt. hon. H.||Wilson, C.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Wilson, I.|
|Leeman, G.||Wilson, Sir M.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Wilson, W.|
|Leith, J. F.||Young, A. W.|
|Leslie, Sir J.|
|Lewis, C. E.|
|Lusk, Sir A.||Birley, H.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Agnew, R. V.||Errington, G.|
|Allcroft, J. D.||Estcourt, G. S.|
|Allsopp, C.||Evans, T. W.|
|Allsopp, H.||Ewing, A. O.|
|Arbuthnot, Lt.-Col. G.||Fawcett, H.|
|Arkwright, F.||Fellowes, E.|
|Ashbury, J. L.||Fitzmaurice, Lord E.|
|Astley, Sir J. D.||Fitzwilliam, hn. W. J.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Forester, C. T. W.|
|Balfour, A. J.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Baring, T. C.||Forsyth, W.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Fremantle, hon. T. F.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Freshfield, C. K.|
|Bass, A.||Galway, Viscount|
|Bates, E.||Gardner, J. T. Agg-|
|Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H.||Garfit, T.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Garnier, J. C.|
|Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C.||Gathorne-Hardy, hn. A.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Giffard, Sir H. S.|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Giles, A.|
|Birkbeck, E.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Goldney, G.|
|Boord, T. W.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Bourke, hon. R.||Gordon, W.|
|Bousfield, Col. N. G. P.||Gore-Langton, W. S.|
|Bowen, J. B.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Brassey, H. A.||Grantham, W.|
|Brise, Colonel R.||Greenall, Sir G.|
|Bruce, hon. T.||Gregory, G. B.|
|Bruen, H.||Grey, Earl de|
|Bulwer, J. R.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Buxton, Sir R. J.||Hall, A. W.|
|Callan, P.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Cameron, D.||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Cartwright, F.||Hamilton, I. T.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Hamond, C. F.|
|Chaplin, Colonel E.||Hankey, T.|
|Charley, W. T.||Harcourt, E. W.|
|Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.||Hardcastle, E.|
|Christie, W. L.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Clive, Col. hon. G. W.||Harvey, Sir R. B.|
|Clowes, S. W.||Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.|
|Cobbold, T. C.||Heath, R.|
|Cole, Col. hon. H. A.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Coffins, E.||Heygate, W. U.|
|Colthurst, Colonel||Hick, J.|
|Coope, O. E.||Hicks, E.|
|Cordes, T.||Hill, A. S.|
|Cotton, W. J. R.||Holker, Sir J.|
|Crichton, Viscount||Holland, Sir H. T.|
|Cross, rt. hon. R. A.||Holmesdale, Viscount|
|Cubitt, G.||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hubbard, E.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Jackson, Sir H. M.|
|Deedes, W.||Jervis, Col. H. J. W.|
|Denison, W. E.||Johnson, J. G.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Johnstone, H.|
|Digby, Col. hon. E.||Johnstone, Sir F.|
|Dyke, Sir W. H.||Jolliffe, hon. S.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Jones, J.|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Kavanagh, A. Mac M.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Lacon, Sir E. H. K.|
|Elcho, Lord||Lawrence, Sir T.|
|Elliot, Sir G.||Learmonth, A.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D.H.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Emlyn, Viscount||Legard, Sir C.|
|Leighton, Sir B.||Salt, T.|
|Leighton, S.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Sanderson, T. K.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Lindsay, Col. R. L.||Scott, M. D.|
|Lindsay, Lord||Seely, C.|
|Lloyd, S.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Severne, J. E.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Shute, General C. C.|
|Macartney, J. W. E.||Simon, Serjeant J.|
|M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Smith, A.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Smith, F. C.|
|Marten, A. G.||Smith, S. G.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Smith, rt. hn. W. H.|
|Mellor, T. W.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Merewether, C. G.||Somerset, Lord H. R. C.|
|Mills, A.||Spinks, Serjeant F. L.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||Stanhope, hon. E.|
|Monckton, F.||Stanhope, W. T. W. S.|
|Montgomerie, R.||Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.|
|Montgomery, Sir G. G.||Starkey, L. R.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Starkie, J. P. C.|
|Muncaster, Lord||Steere, L.|
|Muntz, P. H.||Sykes, C.|
|Naghten, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Taylor, rt. hon. Col.|
|Noel, rt. hon. G. J.||Tennant, R.|
|Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.||Thornhill, T.|
|O'Donoghue, The||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|O'Leary, W.||Torr, J.|
|Onslow, D.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Paget, R. H.||Tremayne, A.|
|Parker, Lt.-Col. W.||Tremayne, J.|
|Pell, A.||Wait, W. K.|
|Pemberton, E. L.||Walker, O. O.|
|Pennant, hon. G.||Walker, T. E.|
|Peploe, Major D. P.||Wallace, Sir R.|
|Percy, Earl||Walsh, hon. A.|
|Phipps, P.||Walter, J.|
|Plunkett, hon. R.||Watney, J.|
|Polhill-Turner, Capt. F. C.||Welby-Gregory, Sir W.|
|Wellesley, Colonel H.|
|Powell, W.||Wethered, T. O.|
|Praed, C. T.||Williams, W.|
|Puleston, J. H.||Wilmot, Sir H.|
|Raikes, H. C.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Read, C. S.||Wroughton, P.|
|Rendlesham, Lord||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Repton, G. W.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Ridley, E.||Yarmouth, Earl of|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Ritchie, C. T.|
|Rodwell, B. B. H.||TELLERS.|
|Rothschild, Sir N. M. de||Isaac, S.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Wheelhouse, W. S. J.|
|Ryder, G. R.|
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Gentleman is out of Order. The Motion having been rejected, the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds must be put to the House.
§ MR. DODSON said, in the event of these words being rejected, he presumed it would be open to anyone to move the addition of other words?
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
asked whether, in the event of the Amendment being carried as a substantive Resolution, he could then move his Amendment?
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the Amendment be carried, no other Amendment can be moved, except in the form of an addition to those words.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, with the permission of the House, he proposed to withdraw his Amendment. ["No, no!"]
That the words 'it would be most undesirable and inopportune to change the arrangements now legislatively provided for the regulation of the trade carried on by the Licensed Victuallers of this Country, because any tribunal subject to periodical election by popular canvas and vote might, and in all probability would, lead to repeated instances of turmoil, and thus be detrimental to the peace and quietude of every neighbourhood in England,' be there added,
—put, and negatived.
§ LORD FRANCIS HERVEY
then moved his Amendment—That it is undesirable for this House to commit itself to legislation on the subject of licensing till the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance have published their final Report.He merely wished to say, as a correction to the statement of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, that the Select Committee had not yet laid their Report on the Table of the House.
To add, after the word "That" in the Original Question, the words "it is undesirable for this House to commit itself to legislation on the subject of licensing till the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance have published their final Report."—(Lord Francis Hervey.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 169: Majority 48.—(Div. List, No. 41.)
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Heygate.)751
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, there was still some Business on the Paper which, the Government were anxious to dispose of. He did not know whether it might not be a wise arrangement to move the adjournment of the House; but he thought it would be undesirable to adjourn the House.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
To add, after the word "That" in the Original Question, the words "in the opinion of this House, among the conditions prescribed by Law for the granting of new Licences for the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors, it should be expressly provided that the licensing authority shall take into consideration the population and the number of existing licences in the district, and shall find as a fact, upon sworn evidence, that new licences are required for the necessary convenience of the public."—(Mr. Serjeant Simon.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
I do not wish to make a long speech on this question; but I want to point out that in any improvement of the licensing laws we should aim to find some authority which, without the bias produced on one side or the other by popular clamour, would come to a just decision on any particular case. The great vice of the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle was that it would give to the ratepayers, who would be the electoral body, the power of settling by popular vote that which ought to be decided by calm judgment. I have an equally strong objection to appointing a number of persons by the vote of the inhabitants who are to be judges ad hoc. I object absolutely to settling questions of licensing, or ecclesiastical questions, or legal questions, in this way; and I especially object when it is a matter of great public interest that has to be dealt with. Instead of having persons coming by calm judgment to a wise conclusion, we should have it settled by persons elected ad hoc; and I am sure the effect would be that their decisions would not be just in any sense of the word. They would be mere delegates. I am afraid that was the case of some of our Committees in the old days—they were persons elected with a bias on one side or the other. That, to my mind, 752 is entirely opposed to the position which a man ought to occupy in dealing with this question. Therefore, I objected to the Amendment proposed by the bon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, on the ground that there is a vice in his proposals as to the tribunal which should judge this question. My hon. and learned Friend, in the Amendment now before us, has started on a different theory. I do not say I agree with the exact words of his Motion, and if we come to debate it, I shall have a good deal to say as to that; but his principle I take to be that he wants judges, and impartial judges. The word "impartial" is the word I want to impress on the House. My hon. and learned Friend says, in effect—"I am not content with the present system because I do not think the judges who have to decide this question have ample and sufficient evidence brought before them; and therefore I want to devise some system or other by which those who have to judge, and judge impartially, shall have every possible information brought before them." In that principle I most entirely agree. Having had considerable experience as a magistrate in these matters, I may say that I have always endeavoured, as far as possible, to give as much weight as I could to evidence of the kind to which he points. I should like to go one step further. I should like these memorials of the ratepayers to be admissible as evidence before the judges, so that these judges, as impartial judges, should form an opinion upon all the merits of the case. I would go one step further still. I am bound to say I think it a great hardship, if I have an estate where I do not wish to build a public-house, that somebody else who has a piece of freehold in the midst of it should come and build one in spite of me. I think that a great hardship, because it goes dead against the rights of owners of property; and I should be very glad to see some provision made by which anybody, before he applied for a licence, would be bound to procure the assent of adjoining owners, in order that the judges might be satisfied that there was no serious objection to the public-house. By the principle of the Amendment you will not get judges who are either elected ad hoc for the purpose of voting on this question, or as they are delegated to 753 do; but you will have impartial judges. You do not say whom they shall be; but they shall be judges who shall have all the information brought before them in a legal and a proper form, and further information than is afforded them at the present moment. That being the principle, I should support the Amendment.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the Amendment now before the House placed the question in an entirely new light, which had not yet been debated at all, and which the House might like to discuss fully. He would therefore move the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, he would second the Motion, because he would at present feel very considerable difficulty in voting on the question before the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."?—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Tuesday next.