HC Deb 18 June 1880 vol 253 cc340-89

Mr. Speaker: I beg to move, as an Amendment— That, inasmuch as the ancient and avowed object of Licensing the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors 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. Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I have not been able to bring forward this Amendment as a substantive Motion, so that there would have been no need of my opposing the House going into Committee. I have been compelled to bring it forward now because I secured my place in the ballot for Friday, and were I not to bring it forward now I might not obtain any other day during the Session. I am also sorry that on account of the Morning Sitting having been held, there will not be so much time for hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in this matter to express their views as I could have wished. It is, perhaps, on this account more incumbent on me, as so many of my hon. Friends will be precluded on account of want of time from address- ing the House, to endeavour to make my case as clear as I can, so that there can be no misunderstanding in the House as to what I mean by the Motion I have now the honour to propose. I suppose, Sir, that very seldom it falls to the lot of a Member of Parliament to move the same Resolution in the House of Commons twice within the space of three months; but it happens that now, although moving the same Resolution, I am moving it in a fresh Assembly. As we all know, a new House of Commons has been elected. Of course, there are many old Members here who must have heard me over and over again on this subject, and who will retire to the adjoining rooms and simply come in when the division is called. I will endeavour to address myself more especially to the new Members, who will not have heard the subject thoroughly discussed, and who will, no doubt, wish to know what is meant by Local Option. Well, I think I may say that whatever may be thought in this House of the question with which I am dealing and of the policy I am about to advocate—I think it may be said that the late General Election and the result of that Election prove that there is, at any rate, a very general interest felt in this measure throughout the constituencies of the Kingdom. One of the results of that interest is that some of my old and valuable opponents are not here to-night to oppose me as they used to do. I miss the familiar face of my old and respected enemy, Mr. Wheelhouse, and I have some doubt in my mind as to who will take his place. I am not at all certain who will; but I have been told that before the night is over it will be found that the mantle of Mr. Wheelhouse has fallen upon the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho). Well, we have got a new House of Commons, and we have got a new Government, for which some of us are glad and some of us are sorry; but, at any rate, I am happy to remember that the Prime Minister of this new Government stated some months ago, when writing on political subjects, that amongst the questions which the new Liberal Government, or any new Government, had to deal with, the question of altering and amending the Liquor Laws would hold a foremost place. That right hon. Gentleman, in the long list of the mea- sures with which he said Parliament would have to deal, put a measure for amending the Licensing Laws about fifth. Well, Sir, of course the problem is, how we are to deal satisfactorily, as far as the law is concerned, with this very great and pressing evil. I do not think I need waste, or, at all events, occupy the time of this House by going into details concerning the extent and magnitude of this evil; but if I let it go as a matter of course, then someone will get up and say that the evil is not so great as I suppose it to be, and that I am not justified in attacking it. I will, therefore, with the permission of the House, quote only two authorities, which I think deserve weight in this House. Now, the first authority I will quote is the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. And I quote the words which were used by him at a place where he was not likely to indulge in exaggeration. I refer to words which he used at a great festival of Licensed Victuallers down at Exeter. He said— The evils of drunkenness become more and more patent every day. If we examine into the matter, we are more and more impressed with the frightful evils which arise. And then he said—and I believe very truly— The conscience of the country is fully aroused upon this subject. Now, that is the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition. Now, what did the Prime Minister say two or three months later in this House? In the last speech which I heard him make in this House before Parliament dissolved, he said— It was stated just now that greater is the calamity and curse inflicted upon mankind by intemperance than by the three great curses— war, pestilence, and famine."—[3 Hansard, ccli. 475.] I think, Sir, I need not go further; but I will say that if legislation is able in any way to deal with such a state of things, producing more evils than war, pestilence, and famine, then that legislation is the most important subject which could occupy the time of the British House of Commons. Now, I am not going to-night to advocate a new Licensing Law. I think I may assume—I think I am justified in assuming—that Parliament up to the present has done its best to make the Licensing Law satisfactory. The Government which came into Office in 1868 dealt with the Liquor Laws. We all remember Mr. Brace's Bill of 1872, which made these laws a little better. We all remember the late Home Secretary's Bill in 1874, which made these laws a little worse. Both political Parties up to that time had tried what they could do to amend the Liquor Laws, which stand now in pretty much the same position as they stood when Mr. Bruce's Bill was passed. I think everyone will agree with me that this trade about which I am talking is very different from any other trade. It is only a very short time ago that a statement appeared in the newspapers to the effect that during the last year£14,000,000 less than in the previous year had been spent in intoxicating drinks. This liquor trade was £14,000,000 poorer than usual, and everybody rejoiced. There was not a good man in the country, or a man who took any interest in the welfare of his fellow-men, who did not say—"This is capital news, £14,000,000 less paid to the drink trade." But is there any other trade people would say that about? No, Sir, no other trade in the country, excepting, perhaps, an undertaker's. Every other business rejoiced in being able to tell the world that they had done a large amount of business—that they were extending their boundaries and enlarging their trade; but this liquor trade is on quite another footing. I remember that when my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) made some very interesting inquiries at Birmingham, and detailed them to the Lords' Committee on Intemperance—the first inquiry related to the number of people who went into public-houses during certain hours—the publicans seemed very angry. They said—"Why are all these things raked up against us?" But surely a butcher or a baker would have been delighted if such were done in his case, because it would be well advertised that so many people came into his establishment. Well, now, there can be no doubt that the trade is bad, and that those who engage in it have an uneasy feeling themselves, that instead of benefiting the community they are injuring it. I see in the papers sometimes remarks to the effect that I was the person who invented the idea that the liquor trade was a bad trade. I assure the House it is nothing of the kind. People who are not fanatics or enthusiasts, but sober, sensible men, have described what this trade is long before I came on the scene. Let me read a passage from The Edinburgh Review, which is not enthusiastic about anything. Now, The Edinburgh Review stated 25 years ago that— The liquor traffic, and particularly the retail branch of it, is a public nuisance, physically, economically, and morally. I have never said anything stronger than that. Then there was Mr. Charles Buxton, himself a brewer, and a Member of this House, in an article upon drunkenness, said:— The struggle of the Church, the library, and the school against the public-house and beer-shop is but one development of the war between heaven and hell. I would not for anything in the world have used such language, and I only quote it to show what other people say of the trade. I do not come here to attack the traders. I do not attack the Licensed Victuallers. If you license a man to a trade, of course it is only in human nature that he will do as much trade as he can; and you would sot yourselves an impossible task if you were to say, "thus far you shall go, but no further." It is only natural that the Licensed Victuallers will do what they can to make money and push trade; and I quite agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright). I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he said the other day, addressing some Licensed Victuallers at Birmingham, he was much hurt to hear the strong language which temperance advocates used about the Licensed Victuallers. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that nothing does so much harm to temperance as the use of strong language against the publicans. They are only doing their duty; they are licensed by law to carry on the trade, and we who license them and maintain the law by which they are licensed are really responsible for the crime and misery and degradation which the trade produces. Well, Sir, that is my opinion of the trade. Now, I want the House to bear with me while I explain how it gets into operation. The law admits that it is such a dangerous trade that it is not to be carried on freely and openly by anyone who likes, so it has prohibited the trade throughout the country but to a very few people. The law allows a few picked men—a few discreet persons, a few privileged men—to say to their friends and neighbours, or to those in whom they take an interest—"You may have a licence; you may have the exceptional privilege of selling drink;" and these persons are what are called the Licensing Magistrates. So I say your law is prohibitive with the exception of a few privileged people. It is said—"Oh, no, the law is free; free trade with restrictions. "I am quite willing to take that answer; but if that is so, I say make the restrictions perfect, and carry them out." Well, it is supposed that these discreet persons — these magistrates—know exactly what is wanted by their neighbours in regard to drink. It is supposed that if there is a very poor place, full of pauperism and misery, they are wise enough to know whether the setting up of beershops in that neighbourhood would improve the wealth and happiness of the locality. They are supposed to know, if they see a populous district free from crime, whether it is not desirable to establish drink-shops to cause a continuance of that prosperity and happiness. It is said they must know better than anybody else what their friends and neighbours all round them want. Why, we had a very able defence of the magistrates only the other day from the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Montague Scott). I am sorry the House was not very full when the hon. Gentleman made his speech. He said he had spent all his life in licensing public-houses, and he said magistrates were all like himself. They were men of moral and religious views, who had brought up their children well, and the logic and conclusion was that they must know the wants of the neighbourhood. That maybe so. It is a very beautiful theory. This licensing system reminds me very much of what Voltaire said—"It is a beautiful theory, never refuted, except by facts." And what are the facts? These discreet persons have licensed such a number of houses in the country that last year we had £128,000,000 spent in this country in intoxicating drinks. I think that any hon. Gentleman will agree with me that it would be a great blessing and a great mercy if we could greatly reduce the expenditure of the people upon these drinks. I do not think I am wrong in saying this; because there is not a Judge, there is not a clergyman, a Poor Law Guardian, there is not a gaoler who does not tell you that this drink is the cause —the main cause—of the crime and misery of the people. Only a very short time ago, my right hon. Friend the Postmaster General (Mr. Fawcett), who opposes this measure, because, as he says, he must have a glass of beer when he takes a walk out, said he had no hesitation in saying that— Both in Ireland and in the back slums of Glasgow— And, he might have added, within a few hundred yards of this House— We could find scenes of misery produced by that drink, out of which we raise revenue, quite as humiliating as any we could find in China produced by opium, And I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend speaks the truth when he says that. Proofs of the evils are innumerable. Bills are repeatedly brought into this House dealing with the question, and the curious thing is that they are all in my direction. They are all meant to restrict the trade and to diminish it more or less. They are good or bad in comparison to the length they go with me, and they are brought in for all kinds of motives and by all kinds of people. I said all kinds of motives. The hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) brought in a Bill that had a little suspicion of the Permissive Bill; but he went down to a brewers' dinner at Cambridge, and they did not care for his Bill because they thought there was a little bit of "Lawson" in it. But the hon. and learned Gentleman assured them that he did not intend by his Bill to shut up public-houses, but to shut up the Member for Carlisle. Now, the House will perceive, from what I have said, that I do not propose a large and comprehensive measure effecting the reform of the licensing system. I do nothing of the kind. I leave that to clever fellows and to statesmen, neither of which I am. All I propose is that the people for whom these places are licensed—the inhabitants for whose benefit they are set up— shall be allowed to say whether they will have them or not. I state in the words of my Resolution, "that it should be optional," that those who want public-houses should be allowed to have them, or if they did not want them that they should not have them; that they should be allowed to choose whether the magistrates, with whom I find no fault, should be allowed to use their discretion and exercise their power in those districts in which persons live who are interested in the matter, and do not desire to have them. That explains the meaning of the word "optional." "Local" means that there should be a certain district marked out in which the inhabitants should be allowed to exercise their option. Surely there can be no harm in confining the choice to given localities, because the system already is localized. I do not want, as some people say, to allow small communities to legislate for themselves; but I want this House by legislation to say under what conditions the licensing authority shall exercise their power, and I want it to say they shall not exercise that power where the people do not wish the power to be exercised. Let me explain a little further by quoting my friends the Licensed Victuallers, who recently sent out a Circular which is not quite correct. In that Circular they call upon hon. Members to oppose my Motion, because it takes From the only law-making body in the nation—namely, Parliament—its rightful Constitutional functions. I have explained that it takes away no function whatever from Parliament; but I simply ask Parliament to exercise its undoubted function, and say under what condition magistrates shall exercise their power. Then they go on to say this measure of mine tends to degrade the magistracy— By depriving them of a power which for more than three centuries they have exercised, in the main, wisely and well— And then say that the Resolution substitutes for them Bodies of persons swayed by popular passions and prejudice. I suppose everybody is more or less swayed by popular passions and prejudice, magistrates included. But I do not propose any new licensing body; I only want the opinion of the people to be given to this licensing body. And then they affirm that I wish to confer Upon such bodies despotic powers to deal with vested interests of legal creation, and give effect to all sorts of crotchets and crazes in disregard of individual liberty and social convenience. That is the publican's case, and a very poor one. I must now explain, as well as I can, what is the meaning of this Resolution, this Local Option Resolution. Local Option seems to puzzle a great many people. ["Hear, hear!"] Some one says, "Hear, hear !" I will explain it for his benefit, and I will tell him from whom I, at any rate, learnt the words Local Option. I first learnt it from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, because some years ago he wrote a letter to some person who wrote to him on this matter, and he said his disposition was to let in Local Option as far as was practicable and could be safely done. I need not read the Resolution again; I think hon. Gentlemen have it in their hands and know exactly what it says. It does not emanate from my own brain. I could not have invented anything so good. It came from Convocation. Convocation is a very important body, and upon the subject of drunkenness it had presented to it a very valuable Report. In that Report you find a recommendation which I have embodied in the Resolution before the House. I copied it word for word, with the exception of the few words at the end, "by some efficient measure of local option," which I inserted in order to make the matter a little clearer. And more than that, after Convocation had reported and used this recommendation, it was endorsed in a Memorial signed by no less than 14,000 clergymen of the Church of England, and presented to the Archbishop and Bishops. I mention this so that no one can suppose I may bring forward anything at all revolutionary or reckless. The Resolution means what I have already described, and these rev. gentlemen who brought in this Report stated that the Resolution meant this—that parishes or districts should be allowed to place themselves in the same condition in which other parishes are already placed by the will of the landlord. They said— We have found out by inquiry that when good and benevolent landlords have exercised the power they possess, and said—' We will not have drink shops in our neighbourhood,' a state of sobriety has arisen, and people had been most thankful to them for protecting them from the evil of drink. And they say that if their Resolution was adopted by the House of Commons, other districts and parishes would have a chance of obtaining the same benefits as these districts have. Of course, those who vote for my Resolution will vote that it is wrong for an irresponsible authority to force drink shops on an unwilling neighbourhood; and those who vote against it will vote that an irresponsible authority ought to have the power of running counter to the wishes of their friends and neighbours, and of the inhabitants of the district in which they live. That is the whole meaning of the vote we shall take to-night. Some people prefer the word "control." Well, I do not see much difference between the two words. If you are able to control a horse you are able to stop him altogether. If you cannot stop him he is not under control. My object is to give people the power of stopping an evil altogether where they wish to do so. I think that if licensing is really intended for the benefit of the people, it is only logical that the wishes of the people should be consulted. Now, I think that Her Majesty's Government ought to give me some little help in this matter, because they are very strong on local self-government, and I am very glad to see they are. I read only yesterday a most interesting despatch to our Ambassador at Constantinople about Turkish reforms; and in that despatch I read that— The only desire of Her Majesty's Government is that a new law shall be so drawn up as to render equal justice to all classes of the community, with as large a measure of self-government as the conditions of the Provinces will admit. Are Albanians and Bosnians, and Roumelians and Bulgarians, to be fit for self-government, and are the Government going to refuse self-government to the people of this country? Surely they are as fit for self-government as the Albanians and Bulgarians. It is of no use appealing to my hon. Friends on the other side of the House. Gentlemen on that side of the House know far better than I do what is the best policy for them, and they have decided upon taking their stand upon beer. ["No, no!"] But I ask my Friends of the Liberal Party how they can possibly object to the policy and the principle embodied in this Resolution? I say nothing of the details; but I ask how they can possibly object to the principle embodied in the Resolution? What do the whole of us do when we go stumping the country electioneering? We declare that the wicked Tories will not allow the county franchise to be reduced, but that we excellent Liberals can trust our fellow-countrymen, and are prepared to bring the county franchise down to the level of that in the boroughs. We are unanimous on that point. There are only two of us who have been against it. One has been converted, and he has been sent to the House of Lords; the other is still unconverted, and he has been sent to Constantinople. Then I want to know with what face—I can use no other expression—with what face we Liberals are to go up and down the country, declaring that inhabitants of counties are entitled to a choice between two candidates, when we cannot trust them in a matter of this kind, to say whether or not they will have a public-house next door to them, involving the morality and happiness of their children and all that is dear to them, and concerning the prosperity and happiness of the districts in which they live? I should be astonished to hear any man who calls himself a Liberal get up in this House and say that he is in favour of reducing the county franchise, and yet that he cannot trust these men he is going to enfranchise to look after a matter such as the licensing of a beerhouse. I do not believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) would do that. I know that many of my hon. Friends look with suspicion upon the Resolution, and say that it is the Permissive Bill in disguise. ["Hear, hear!"] I knew that somebody would cheer that. But I want to ask those Gentlemen who cheer how it is possible in human nature, or, at any rate, in Parliamentary nature, that a Resolution can be a Bill? It is a thing impossible. I used to bring in a Permissive Bill, as the House is aware. I annoyed hon. Members over and over again with it. Hon. Members did not approve of the details. I have come to the conclusion that if you want an argument for opposing a thing you do not quite understand, the proper course is to say you do not approve of the details. Under these circumstances, I said—"Let us have the principle in regard to this question, and let us leave all the details over." I can show my hon. Friends how this cannot be their old friend, the Permissive Bill. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) has often openly and fair and above board, in his usual straightforward manner, written letters strongly condemning the Permissive Bill itself; but he always said at the same time that he thoroughly approved of the principle of the Permissive Bill. Well, then, I say —"Do not condemn the Resolution. Do not give it up because there are no details." I do not wish to make any secret about it. I will not deceive the House; I believe that the Resolution does contain the principle of what I used to call the Permissive Bill, and that is, that the licensing of public-houses should only be permitted in places where the inhabitants of the districts desire the existence of licensed houses in their midst for the sale of intoxicating drinks. That has always been my policy and principle. That is why I propose this Resolution, because I wish—I must repeat it in order to make it clear—because I wish to lay down the principle that public-house licences ought not to be forced upon unwilling communities. That is enough for me, and it makes me like the Resolution. But some of my hon. Friends say that it means something more. If it does, I am exceedingly pleased; I am delighted. If it does, so much the better for the Resolution. Let anyone explain what it means in the best way he can, and I shall be most happy to hear his explanation, so long as he votes for it. I say, again, let there be no licensing where the people do not want it. That is my principle, and I leave the details over. That is why I propose a Resolution instead of a Bill. I want now to explain to the House that this principle of mine was really understood by the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance, and I do so because I quoted a sentence the last time I moved this Resolution in this House. I quoted it as endorsing the policy which I then advocated, and which I now advocate. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) who then led the Opposition, but who is now Secretary of State for India, seemed to think that that quotation did not do my cause much good, because he said the Lords' Committee had condemned the Permissive Bill. I will quote the paragraph again, for that is the reason why I quoted it. The Lords' Committee condemned the Permissive Bill. They condemned the Permissive Bill utterly; but they endorsed the principle of the Resolution also thoroughly; and because they condemned the old Permissive Bill, I think it makes the case all the stronger. It is an admirable sentence, pointing out the enormity of the evil, and the unsuccessful efforts which have hitherto been made to remove it; and that fact will, I think, justify me in reading the passage once more to this House. It says— When great communities, deeply sensible of the miseries caused by intemperance, witnesses of the crime and pauperism which directly spring from it; conscious of the contamination to which their younger citizens are exposed; watching with grave anxiety the growth of female intemperance on a scale so vast and at a rate of progression so rapid as to constitute a new reproach and danger, believing that not only the morality of their citizens but their commercial prosperity is dependent on the diminution of these evils; seeing also that all that general legislation has been hitherto able to effect has been some improvement in public order, while it has been powerless to produce any perceptible decrease of intemperance; it would seem somewhat hard when such communities are willing at their own cost and hazard to grapple with the difficulty, and undertake their own purification, that the Legislature should refuse to create for them the necessary machinery or to entrust them with the requisite powers. I say there never was a stronger sentence written in favour of the policy which I am advocating to-night. I hope I have explained clearly that the Resolution is not the Permissive Bill. So far as the Gentlemen are concerned who will follow me in opposition to the Resolution, I would advise them to confine themselves pretty much to abuse of the old Permissive Bill. That is what they did on the last occasion, and it very satisfactorily relieved their own minds; it was also satisfactory to the brewers, it shows a good deal of ingenuity, it does no harm to the Resolution, and it is complimentary to me in showing how prudent I was to propose a Resolution instead of a Bill. I now come to the Amendments which have been placed upon the Paper, but which, owing to the Forms of the House, cannot be proposed. I have no particular objection to them. The first, which stands in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon), tells the magistrates that they ought to do what they already ought to do. I do not very much object to it. Then comes the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. J. W. Pease), whom I regret to say a domestic affliction has kept from the House. I will therefore not allude to his Amendment. There is one by my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Sir Harcourt Johnstone), which says— That such local option will be best exercised by associating the ratepayers with the magistrates as a licensing authority. Very good; I see no objection to that. If the House decides in favour of it let them have that licensing authority. I have no objection to any of these schemes. They cannot make things much worse than they are. All I say is do not let any of the proposed licensing bodies force drink shops on places which do not want them. I come last to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), and as I do not quite understand it I will say nothing about it. There is another strong objection to the Resolution. Most Houses of Commons do not like an abstract Resolution. But I believe there are cases where an abstract Resolution is laudable. There are exceptions to all rules, and I can quote cases which have occurred on both sides of the House where some of the most important legislation of recent years has been based upon abstract Resolutions. I recollect the celebrated Resolution brought in by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devonshire (Sir Massey Lopes) upon Local Taxation. When the Conservative Government came into power subsequently they acted upon it. The present Prime Minister, some years ago, moved an abstract Resolution in this House condemning the Irish Church. When the opportunity offered, and the right hon. Gentleman had a majority at his back, he very properly carried out the policy inaugurated in that abstract Resolution. There is another case which is still more in point. Many hon. Members, who were Members of the old House of Commons, will have a respectful remembrance of a worthy friend of mine—the late lamented Professor Smyth. He took up the question of Sunday Closing in Ireland, and he proceeded in the first instance by way of Resolution. He carried his Resolution, and a year or two afterwards he brought in a Bill, and was enabled to carry that measure in this House; which has already worked such wonders in the way of benefiting Ireland. That case afforded another argument in favour of abstract Resolutions. Hon. Members tell me that there ought to be something about compensation in my Resolution. If I would only do that they could find it in their hearts to vote for me. Now, I do not want to condemn compensation; but it is not the question which is before the House. The question is, whether it is right to force these houses upon an unwilling neighbourhood? and if it cannot be done without compensation, let us have compensation. I am quite sure that if ever my Resolution is crystallized into an Act of Parliament, this House will never refuse a fair demand from any body of men. I was glad to see what the Prime Minister said upon the matter in his electioneering speeches. He said that the publicans had not been very good friends of his; but he would, nevertheless, treat them fairly. I am just as anxious as the Prime Minister to treat them fairly, and to let them have every penny of compensation they are entitled to. But what were we told in regard to the Sunday Closing Bill for Ireland? The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan), who knows all about the publicans in Ireland, was continually speaking about them in this House, and he told us distinctly that if that Bill passed 16,000 publicans in Ireland would be ruined. We passed the Bill. Somebody proposed compensation, and the proposal was laughed out of the House. My right hon. Friends who sit on the front Opposition Bench ultimately agreed to the passing of that Bill for closing public-houses in Ireland on Sunday, and they never gave a penny of compensation to these men, although they were told they would be reduced to starvation. Then there was another Bill. I am not now arguing against compensation; but I am trying to prove that I was not called upon to put it in the Resolution. My hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury brought in a Bill which did away with a great number of beerhouses in England. It did a great deal of good, and prevented old-established houses having licences that were below a certain rent. My hon. Friend the Member for Mayo brought forward a Bill during the tenure of power by the late Government which did away with a great number of beer-shops in Dublin; but not one penny of compensation did the House of Commons consent to give. I do not, then, see any reason at all, if these hon. Gentlemen could bring in Bills without proposing to give any compensation, why in moving my Resolution I was obliged to include compensation. I have only now, in conclusion, to say that there must be something in this demand that the people so persistently send up. This House knows, as well as I do, that it has sprung from the poor and from the working people of this country. There are hardly any rich men, hardly any great men, hardly any statesmen, who take an active part in the matter. The rich and influential have treated us with scorn. The Press, up the last year or two, has been generally against us; but lately things have all changed. In past times our cause found few advocates even in the pulpit; we had no great orators going about the country as in the days of the Anti-Corn Law League; we had no great subscriptions poured in to aid us in getting rid of this monopoly. The great interest principally affected, and which is so powerful in the country, steadily exerted itself against us. The hon. Member for Derby—not the Home Secretary, but the senior Member for Derby (Mr. M. T. Bass)— told us that for every pound we put down they could put down £100; and so they could. We had all that to contend with; and yet these men know, as well as I know, that I am not overstating the case when I say that in the constituencies at large no subject at this moment excites so much interest as this. And how can we have got it in that position with all the obstacles which I have described? There is no way in which we could have got it into that position except this—that our cause was just, and our demand right and reasonable. Now, Sir, I know perfectly well that the Government have many intricate and troublous questions to deal with, and I am very sorry to force any further matters upon them; but I do say that this is one which they cannot very long delay dealing with. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain), in some able writing upon this subject years ago, said that if nothing was done the very stones would cry out. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman exaggerated the necessity of the demand. But, as I have said, I do not wish to embarrass the Government. Far from it. They have enough on their hands at the present moment, and I want by this Motion to aid them in dealing with the question. I was glad to see that the Prime Minister, in several of his speeches, stated that this was a matter in which public opinion must be paramount. No Government can go before public opinion. Far be it from me to urge them to do so. Any Government that did so would not do itself any great credit. I do not even urge the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to vote for the Motion; but I do ask him most respectfully to leave it to the unbiassed opinion of this House to reflect the views of the country. I believe—nay, I am sure —that the House is not insensible of the value of the course I am advocating. I am sure hon. Members of this House are convinced there are sound reasons for this policy which I propose; and I am not without hope that the result of our decision to-night will be such that this House will lay the foundation of a great reform, the full accomplishment of which hereafter, will, I believe, entitle this House to a memorable and an honourable place in the annals of the Parliaments of England. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.


I rise, Sir, to second the Motion. I am sure the opinion in the House and in the country is universal that something ought to be done to check the great evil of intemperance, which prevails so extensively among us, and I am equally sure that we only differ as to the means to be adopted to carry out our purpose. I feel that a great responsibility will rest upon this House—upon every Member of this House—if they do not propose any measure themselves to check this growing mischief, and yet decline to help those of us who do bring forward measures which we think will, in some degree, tend to promote public sobriety. I will not take up the time of the House by quoting statistics which, over and over again, have shown how extensively intemperance does prevail in the country. Blue Books have placed before us the facts of the case; their statistics have been read by every intelligent man in the country, and every thoughtful man who has read them must deplore the extent of the mischief these statistics have revealed. This sad vice of drunkenness is the source and the foundation of a great proportion, to say the least, of the misery, the pauperism, and the crime which we all have to lament, and which prevail to so large an extent in the country. I know there are some good men who have said that legislation will be inoperative to check this evil, and that we must be content to wait for the slow growth of habits of sobriety before we shall see any improvement in the state of the people as regards this vice. But we are forced to admit, at the same time, that the Acts which have been passed, giving to Scotland and Ireland the power of closing public-houses only on one day of the week, have accomplished a considerable amount of good; and if we can only have a similar measure for England and Wales—which I earnestly hope we shall have by-and-bye—the good effects will be still more apparent. We do not wish to introduce any new principle of legislation; but we do wish to extend a principle of legislation which has prevailed in this country for centuries; for, in regard to the buying and selling of intoxicants, it is a trade which has been governed by Acts of Parliament for hundreds of years. I think we may claim for those who have done so much for temperance organization and temperance reform that they are never backward in the discharge of their duty, by sending money and by giving their services for other useful purposes —for the promotion of education, for the opening of rational places of amusement for the people, and for other means which have an indirect tendency, at least, in assisting those who seek to put down this evil. We are told our proposal is an instance of class legislation. Now, if I thought this, I, for one, would not for a moment have anything to do with it. It is said that it is an endeavour to establish a law which will control the poor, but which, at the same time, will exempt the rich from its operation. Now, I think the phrase "class legislation," as applied in this case, is a very loose one, and will not stand the test of examination. What is it we seek to do? We wish to take the power of forcing these licences on a district from the hands of a few magistrates, and we wish to put that power into the hands of the people at large. We dare trust the people with the exercise of this power. They beg to be trusted with this power, and to be free from a power over which they have no control. Is it not too late to tell us we dare not trust the people with the exercise of this power, when we have given them the power to elect all the Members of this House, to elect members of Municipal Councils, and we have intrusted them with duties and responsibilities of the highest and most important character? But, I ask, who are they that use strong words in reference to us, in accusing us of bringing forward a measure of class legislation? I must say their advocacy of the poor is, to me, surrounded with suspicion and misgiving. They talk of confiscation in reference to our measure; but I am quite sure that, if any principle of confiscation were involved, this House would never be a party to sanctioning it. I know that in past generations this House has passed a measure for granting a large sum to the slave holders, who held a kind of property which, certainly, was acknowledged by the laws of the country; but which, in my opinion, was never sanctioned by the laws of God. Parliament is always tender, and always has been, for the protection of class interests; and I, for one, never will be a party to closing these public-houses forcibly by law without rendering that amount of compensation which the circumstances would seem to justify. I am equally certain that a Parliament of the present day would never sanction such a measure. The evil we deplore is so great, is so mischievous, that if buying up for their full value all the licensed houses in the country would extinguish the enormous evil connected with the traffic in intoxicants, I should be ready to pay the enormous price which such a measure would require; and I am sure that, morally, commercially, politically, and socially, the gain of such a transaction would be beyond all price. We groan under financial burdens which the evils and follies of past generations have imposed upon us; but we sit down, almost without a murmuring word, under this great burden, the drink traffic in its various ramifications. We grumble at the present day because the Government seeks to impose the additional 1d. on the Income Tax to relieve the suffering farmer; yet we bear, and do little or nothing to remedy, this other and far greater evil. I know of many instances where adjoining property has been greatly depreciated by the opening of a tavern. I know, also, of many instances where working men and working women, who must live near the factory where they earn their daily bread, have been compelled to leave their cottage, where they have dwelt for years, and to live farther away from their work, in order to escape the annoyance and temptation to their sons and daughters and to themselves which are inherent in the public-house. Our object is, as I have said, to take away the power from the magistrates, and place it in the hands of another class of people; and I, for one, am greatly surprised that the publicans and beer-sellers object to our proposed change. The magistrates are not the consumers; it is the working classes who are the publicans' patrons and consumers, and it is to these we wish to give the power to control the issue of licences. I know of many public-houses where the accommodation is altogether insufficient for the business, and where the social and domestic arrangements are utterly unfit for life; and I know of cases where a canvas of magistrates for new licences has frequently taken place for the purpose of seeking for political votes. And I know of cases—for I have for 20 years taken an interest, as a magistrate, in the proceedings of our licensing, or Brewster Sessions—I know of cases where, the law having been defiantly broken by the publican, the licence has been taken away by the magistrates; and, on an appeal being made to the Quarter Sessions, the decision of the magistrates has been reversed, and at one Quarter Sessions there was a "whip" of the magistrates for that purpose, the owner of the public-house being a Peer of the Realm. I say, let us have working men for this tribunal, rather than such a licensing authority as that to which I have referred. But, perhaps, we need not be surprised when we know how magistrates are too frequently appointed— appointed for political purposes, or as a reward for political services, where special fitness for the duties they would be called upon to discharge has been disregarded. Even in these modern days we see instances of appointments such as I have described. In Manchester, for nearly 20 years we have had no increase whatever in the number of licensed public-houses, and yet, at the present day, there are there more than enough for the wants and necessities of the community. Within these two decades we know that the population of that place has enormously increased, and yet this multiplicity of licences was granted by a Bench of Magistrates. From whatever direction I look at our present licensing system, the more I feel it cannot go on, and that a vital change must be made in it. In the borough which I have the honour to represent (Ashton-under-Lyne) I can, in the course of a 10 minutes' walk, pass 20 houses licensed for the sale of drink, and yet all these licences have been granted by former Benches of Magistrates, supposed to have regard to the wants and necessities of the people. And for some years it has been the practice of the big brewers to buy up extensively these licensed houses, adding enormously to their own trade. In some instances I know where the value of such property has been increased fivefold. We talk of moral means, apart from legislation, for the accomplishment of the good end we seek—the putting down of drunkenness; but I have lived long enough to see that moral means are insufficient. As the excellent Bishop of Manchester said,' we build churches and we found schools; but experience shows that the drunkenness of the country more than keeps pace with all the good measures we adopt for the improvement of the people. We institute modes by which they can invest their money in savings banks and in building clubs; we start co-operative societies; and yet we see the temptation to spend their earnings in intoxicants is so great that at a time of cessation of labour a large proportion of our working people are plunged into circumstances of the deepest distress. The working men appeal to this House in order that they may have conferred on them the power to protect themselves. In that appeal I earnestly and sincerely join; and I implore the House not to turn a deaf ear to their cry.

Amendmend proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "inasmuch as the ancient and avowed object of Licensing the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors 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,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


I do not rise at this early period of the debate with either the idea or the desire of checking the course of this discussion. On the contrary, I think that the delivery of speeches, full of argument and full of information on a matter of this enormous social interest, is a thing highly valuable and important to the public welfare. But I rise at this time because I thought it my duty to meet without a moment's delay, so far as it depended upon me, the courteous and encouraging invitation addressed to me by my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment. I understood my hon. Friend to say, at the close of his speech, he did not propose, and he did not much expect me, to give a vote in favour of the adoption at the present time of the Motion; but he hoped no attempt would be made on the part of the Government to bring whatever authority belongs to the Executive Government, as such, to bear on the deliberations of the House, but that everybody should be encouraged to declare his own sentiments, and to vote according to his own belief and judgment in the matter. I can meet that invitation or challenge of my hon. Friend in a manner that I hope will not be unsatisfactory to my hon. Friend. The opinion he entertains on that subject— namely, as to the course the Government ought to take, is an opinion to which we ourselves had arrived. We do not desire to bring any pressure whatever to bear upon the House. I recognize with pleasure the statement of my hon. Friend that it is not in the power of the Government to take largely into its own hands the decision of a question such as this; that it must be content to march with a close and sedulous regard to the progress of public opinion; and that, even if it be true—as it is true— that the Government may at a certain stage do something towards ripening or giving form to that public opinion, yet if it places itself in a position entirely apart from, whether in advance or in the rear, it mistakes its functions, and a premature attempt would probably result in reaction or recoil. There are Members of the Government who have voted already in favour of the Resolution of my hon. Friend; and those Members will, so far as I know, renew that vote to-night. I shall not follow my hon. Friend into the Lobby; and I may tell him at once frankly the reason that will lead me to pursue the course which he hinted at as probable on my part. He quotes a case in which I was the Mover of an abstract Resolution—namely, the series of Resolutions in 1868 on the Irish Church. Establishment. That is perfectly true; but my hon. Friend will do me the justice of saying that those abstract Resolutions were simply the preface to a Bill which I proposed to introduce, and did introduce and carry through this House. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: In the same Session?] Yes. Not the Bill to disestablish the Irish Church, because I considered that a dying Parliament was unequal to such a task; but a Bill to arrest all appointments in the Irish Church until after the Election then approaching, in order that legislation might be reserved to the next Parliament. And even as in 1868, when, in proposing a Resolution of this kind, I was prepared to give practical effect to it in a definite form, on which the judgment of the House could be tested, the very same expectation would be, I think, legitimately entertained of me, especially in the place I have now the honour to fill, if I were now to vote in favour of the abstract Resolution of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend will also perceive that I have a greater facility in adopting the course I proposed to take, because the Forms of the House require my hon. Friend to bring on his Motion as an Amendment to Supply, which enables me to deal with him very much as if the Previous Question were raised. He will not suppose that in vindicating this liberty for myself, and in thus conveying my view of my own duty, I intend to censure him. Great as is the inconvenience which attaches to the adoption of abstract Resolutions by this House, yet I am free to confess that hon. Members must naturally be disposed to exercise their own judgments as to the best means of advancing what they think a great public cause, and in many cases they may think they can best attain their purpose by means of an abstract Resolution. I am far from questioning the correctness of their judgment in that respect; but the expectations which will follow their votes are entirely different from those which would be founded on the vote of one occupying my position. I should have been better pleased with the matter of the Resolution if my hon. Friend had included in it some reference to the principle of equitable compensation. I do not want my hon. Friend to commit himself upon that point; but I want a frank recognition of the principle that we are not to deny to publicans, as a class, the benefits of equal treatment, because we think their trade is at so many points in contact with, and even sometimes productive of, great public mischief. Considering the legislative title they have acquired, and the recognition of their position in the proceedings of this House for a long series of years, they ought not to be placed at a disadvantage on account of the particular impression we may entertain-—in many cases but too justly—in relation to the mischiefs connected with the present licensing system and the consumption of strong liquors as it is now carried on. Having said this much, it is unnecessary for me to follow my hon. Friends into the argument which they are more competent to conduct than myself; but a few words I will say expressive of my general sympathy. My hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment read at the close of his speech from the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords a very striking passage; and I am bound to say that, individually, I do not think there is a word in that passage which I am not prepared to adopt. My difficulty in this case is not the ordinary difficulty of of a Government—namely, the want of time and the recent time since we assumed Office—it is the intricacy with which the question itself is surrounded. I do not as yet see my way to any particular measure by which just effect can be given to the principle of my hon. Friend. To that principle itself I am friendly. My hon. Friend, indeed, assigns me a very interesting position in regard to his Motion. He attributes to me the parentage of the words in which it is expressed. A man readily forgets his sins, and occasionally he appears to forget his good deeds; but I was not aware I had any claim to the originality and production of that phrase. But be that as it may, I earnestly entertain the hope that at some not very distant period it may be found practicable to deal with the Licensing Laws, and in dealing with them to include the reasonable and just application of the principle for which my hon. Friend contends. We all go together up to a certain point. We all recognize and allow that the evils of intoxication are not merely grave, but monstrous. Their extent, and their depth, and their intensity, need hardly be described; but, having made that admission, our paths begin to diverge. There are those who say, as has been justly stated by my hon. Friend the Seconder of the Motion, that nothing can be done by legislation; that mechanical means cannot cure moral evils; that we must not deal with the subject by mere prohibition, but must trust to the progress of civilized habits and moral convictions. I do not agree with those who say that legislation is of no avail in this matter. Legislation has great power in removing positive sources of temptation, and the question will be to what extent, in what manner, and under what conditions legislation can be employed at the suitable moment for the purpose of lessening or removing those sources of temptation either in cases where the principles adopted are capable of a universal application, or in cases where it may be thought requisite to give to the local judgment of the population an influence in the matter. I do not agree with those who say that any legislation in the direction of my hon. Friend's wishes must be class legislation; because I think he and the Seconder of the Resolution are right in holding that it is eminently and peculiarly from among the people themselves that the movement and the expression of sympathy and desire for a measure of this kind proceeds. It is not among the great, it is not among the rich, it is not among the wealthy, it is not exclusively, at any rate, among the educated and enlightened. It is, to a great extent, a true genuine instinct of the popular mind which disposes so many of our fellow-citizens to desire to call in the action of external restraints in aid of their own best inclinations, and to assist them in resistance to those inclinations which they regret. For myself, I certainly am one of those who, regarding the general structure of the Licensing Law, are thoroughly and radically dissatisfied with it. But here I must say what will not give pleasure to my Friends, I am no believer in monopoly, either in this or any other matter. Parliament has been busy for about 10 years in building and bolstering up monopolies, in adding to the artificial values which attach to property invested in public-houses, and which, in my opinion, are by far the most deadly and inveterate enemies with which my hon. Friend has to deal; and, therefore, I do not claim any credit from my hon. Friend for being individually indisposed to work in the direction of those measures with regard to monopoly which appear to proceed upon the assumption that by increasing its range you restrict and mitigate its miseries. I believe the exact reverse. I believe that in proportion as you mount up higher and higher, these simply prohibitory laws, tending to restrict numbers and enhance and augment values, you multiply and raise to a higher point the obstacles with which you have to deal. I do not wish to be drawn into any premature conclusion; but it is only fair to make the admission. But with regard to the question which my hon. Friend has brought before us, I will say these two things in conclusion. First of all, that I believe that one of the great subjects which will call for the attention of the Executive at as early a period as the heavy competing pressure of some other subjects will permit will he the reform of the Licensing Laws; and, secondly, I believe that that reform is so eminently called for, and is so favoured by the circumstances in which we now stand, that I regard it as an essential part of the work and mission of the present Parliament. I have no prejudices upon this subject; but I am glad to have at least the pardon, if not the approval, of my hon. Friend, if I decline to express by my vote distinct adhesion to an expression of abstract principle on the subject until I feel myself armed with the possession of some practical plan that I am in a condition to recommend for the approval of Parliament. With these observations, I recommend the question to the consideration of the House of Commons.


Sir, I rise to ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments whilst I refer to the reasons why I think the proposition which is now before the House deserves its favourable consideration, and to the position in which we stand in regard to this question. Now, Sir, I think no one will deny that there exists outside this House a very strong opinion in favour of some legislation with regard to this matter; and I think it is true to say that that strong opinion exists not only with regard to those who may be considered the supporters of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, in regard to the measure before us, but it exists widely throughout the whole country. Although we have had within the last 10 years two Licensing Acts, and although these have done much to improve the licensing system, yet I think we stand in regard to this great evil of intemperance in a very unsatisfactory position. Now, Sir, I should not presume to make that statement to the House as embodying my own opinion or any knowledge of my own; but I will take two authorities whose opinion, I think, will be treated with respect. The first authority I quote is a sentence from a speech of Lord Aberdare, in introducing the Bill of 1871. Lord Aberdare said— He would not pause to ask whether drunkenness was or was not on the increase, for he felt satisfied that the evil was so great as to be a blot upon our social system, and a disgrace to our civilization."—[3 Hansard, ccv. 1063.] He was then the Home Secretary, speaking from his place in Parliament. Now nearly 10 years have elapsed, and what is the state of the question now? I will only refer to the paragraph which has been already mentioned by the hon. Member for Carlisle, and which has made a great deal of impression upon the Prime Minister. The Committee of the House of Lords say in a paragraph where they discuss the Bill founded on the Gothenburg system brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade— All that general legislation has hitherto been able to effect has been some improvement in general order, while it has been powerless to produce any perceptible decrease of intemperance. And, Sir, it cannot be said that public attention has not constantly been called to this question, which I take to be another proof of the strong feeling out-of-doors. I think on 10 different occasions since 1869 the hon. Member for Carlisle has brought this question before us. It has come up before the House year after year like a hardy perennial, only to be rejected; but still he has brought it up. In addition to that we have had an interesting Bill brought in by the President of the Board of Trade founded on the Gothenburg system; and we have had a Bill for Licensing Boards, brought in by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen), which has produced an interesting discussion. Lastly, we have had a Bill brought in by the hon. Member for Scarborough (Sir Harcourt Johnstone), which I regretted to see the other day, in consequence of the pressure of Business, produced only a short discussion in this House. These are all more or less based on the principle we are asked to vote upon to-night. I am one of many persons who have never been able to persuade themselves that the measure which was brought in by the hon. Member for Carlisle is the best that could be adopted to solve the difficulty. Although I shall give my vote in favour of his Motion, I shall consider myself perfectly free on some future occasion to take a different course on some other Bill that may be brought forward. I may quote some words used on the last occasion by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright), who said— He should vote for the present Resolution, and, having voted for it, would feel that he was just as free to deal with the drink question…as if he had never heard of the Permissive Bill, and as if the present Resolution had never been before them."—[Ibid. ccli. 497.] Now, I will venture to quote one more passage from the speech of Lord Aberdare in 1871, which appears to me to cover the ground for the reasons why we should vote for some measure of Local Option. Lord Aberdare said we should create some strong vigorous opinion in the different localities, and he concluded with these words— He was satisfied, therefore, that if they were to create a wholesome and vigorous public opinion on that subject, they must give the ratepayers of the country some direct control over it, and that the more widely that control could, without injustice, be extended, the greater would be the social advantage."—[Ibid. ccv. 1075.] I think the words I have read to the House afford ample grounds for the Resolution now before us. It has been remarked in the debate that this proposal appears to cast some blame on the magistrates as the present licensing authorities. I am not able to follow that; but I may be permitted to say that the Lords' Committee speak with approval of "confirming authority," and they think the value of their confirming authority is acknowledged by several witnesses as a check on the granting authority. It is thought some check should be placed on the licensing; but I think the magistrates have erred by allowing too many licences. But if we can by some measure give the ratepayers some means of bringing power to bear on the licensing authorities, we shall get rid of those difficulties and evils which occur under the present system. I should like to refer for a moment to a speech made by a Gentleman who is greatly respected by this House—Mr. Rathbone. The few words I wish to quote were delivered in this House during the discussion on the Motion by the hon. Member for Newcastle. Mr. Rathbone gave an interesting account of what had taken place in the suburban district of Woolton, near Liverpool, where, during nine years, the "Free licensing system" had been adopted. He said they steadily refused renewal to disorderly houses, and they kept the same numbers in spite of increase of population. He added— I do not hesitate to say that the magistrates and police of England, if they would only enforce the existing laws, have ample powers in their hands to shut up one-third of the public-houses, and reduce, by at least a quarter, the crime of the Kingdom by simply refusing to renew the licences of any houses doing a disorderly trade.—[Ibid. ccxxix. 908.] But do not we require more direct and complete pressure put upon the licensing authorities in this country by those more immediately affected by the consequences? Mr. Rathbone gave an interesting account of a very respectable licensed victualler in Liverpool, said to be doing a high-class trade there; but who stated that, in consequence of the greater stringency of the police and the magistrates, his takings had been reduced by £700 a-year. I think that shows that, although the present law is imperfect, it is possible to administer it in a better manner to meet the social requirements of the age. Mr. Rathbone asked the House to consider What an amount of evil and demoralization preventible under the present law, if strictly administered, that £700 a-year represents."— [Ibid.] What is the recommendation of the Committee of the House of Lords, who obtained great weight in this House because of the noble Lords composing the Committee, and because of the moderation of the Report they brought up? The Committee were unable to recommend Licensing Boards; but they recommended that County Boards or Local Boards should be established with an extensive area, and that the licensing power should be transferred to those bodies. I think in those Boards there would be an elective element to represent the ratepayers. If that is so, Sir, we should have that elective principle introduced in the Licensing Boards of the country, which will give the ratepayers that control over the licensing which is so much wanted at the present moment. Now, Sir, I will not detain the House any longer; but I would just point out that the Committee further recommended that legislative facilities should be afforded for the local adoption of the Gothenburg and Mr. Chamberlain's schemes. I think that is a high recommendation of the principle of Local Option, in some measure to be approved by the legislation of this House; and the object of that would be to control and absorb some of the licences now existing. The Prime Minister alluded to that difficult point, how compensation could be given if Parliament determined to reduce the number of public-houses. That brings me to the seventh recommendation of the Committee of the House of Lords, in which they point out That a considerable increase should be made in the licence duties. Many hon. Members are aware that by the Bill brought in by the hon. Member for Scarborough it was proposed to devote a portion of the funds derived from licences for compensation to the existing public-houses. The Committee say, further, that the Size of the premises, the profits of the trade, and, consequently, the value of the licences, have increased enormously during the last 10 years. If that is true, I think it is an element which we might fairly take into consideration when we come to deal with this question in some practical Bill; because, as the Committee say— The public are fairly entitled to a larger share than they have hitherto received of the profits of a monopoly thus artificially created. I will not detain the House any longer-I thank you for listening to me with so much patience. I will only venture to add that I rose principally to express my earnest hope that Her Majesty's Government will, at some future day, be able to deal with this important question; and I think, from what has fallen from the Prime Minister, we may venture to anticipate that something will be done. If the Government will deal with the question, I am sure they will have attempted to achieve an object worthy of the ambition of any Ministry, and which will entitle them to the lasting gratitude of the whole country.


said, they were all agreed as to the ill effects of intemperance, and they would all be glad to know of some means by which they could be remedied without injury to vested and existing interests. But all this Resolution pretended to do was to transfer the power of granting licences from one body to another. That would not put an end to intemperance. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said his Resolution had its beginning in a Resolution of Convocation; but his experience of life was that a clergyman was the worst man in the world to grapple with a practical difficulty. The proposal of the hon. Baronet came before them in the objectionable form of an abstract Resolution, which appeared to be aimed somewhat at the magistrates. The hon. Baronet wanted to give the power now possessed by the magistrates to the ratepayers of each district; but it must be remembered that the ratepayers were only about one-third of the inhabitants of a district. That was stopping halfway; but if the hon. Baronet went to the extreme, he would give the licensing power to a much worse authority than the magistrates. The licensing power, if Local Option were carried out, would be given to those who used public-houses most, and that was like giving a child a knife to play with because he had cut his fingers. The logical conclusion of this Resolution was that because men got drunk, therefore those men should have the power to license public-houses. It had been said that there were too many public-houses in the land, and why did not the magistrates put them down? Well, since 1869, the magistrates had closed 9,000 public-houses. He had received a paper from Manchester asking him not to vote for this Resolution, and it came from the National Union for the Suppression of Intemperance. Surely such a Society knew whether Local Option would promote temperance or not; and he found they were against this Motion. This Resolution was a slight on the magistracy—a slight on a body of men who, as the "great unpaid," had done their work in a most worthy and exemplary manner. No one would believe that an elective body would be so independent as the magistrates, and they ought to go to the higher classes rather than to the lower classes to find a proper licensing body. He maintained that the magistrates were the best licensing authority; they lived in the place, and were independent of any improper influence that might be brought to bear upon them. In conclusion, he would vote against the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, and in favour of the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair.


The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has delivered a eulogy on the magistrates of this country which I am very far from saying they do not generally deserve. In reference to the administration of their functions in connection with licensing, the magistrates deserve, I think, as much praise as they do in regard to the performance of any part of their business. It is quite clear from all the Reports before the House that they have not extended the distribution of licences unduly, and that they have had, so far as they could have, general regard for the rights of those whose capital is invested in this description of property, and that they have also exercised, on the whole, a judicious and careful control, so far as they could, over the management of public-houses. When my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle commenced his speech he said that Local Option was a mysterious term. I quite agree with him in that. I should have much preferred to hear him use the words "local control," because that part of his Resolution which is most intelligible to myself, and with which I am in perfect and entire accord, is that which says that the representation of the people in this matter—which is to them of such deep and vital social importance—should be in their own hands —that they should have, as I contend they have a right to have, local control in this matter. Now, the people of this country are not represented by the magistrates. However excellent may be character and conduct of those who are appointed to the magistracy in this country, I repeat that the people—the working men and working people generally, of whom I have the honour to represent a large section in the House tonight—have not confidence in the representation they possess in this great matter. It has happened to me, in a much shorter political experience than that of many hon. Members of this House, to feel it my duty twice to call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the appointment of certain magistrates. In 1873, when, as now, the country had the advantage of the services of the distinguished ornament of this House, in the Office of Prime Minister, I had a temporary and interesting connection with the borough of Huntingdon. On one occasion in that year I felt it my duty to call the attention of the Prime Minister to the neglect of the Lord Lieutenant to give a fair representation to a large minority in the county who were Nonconformists. The Prime Minister thought proper to reply to me condemning the conduct of the Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire, in regard to the fact that there was not a single Nonconformist on the Bench of the county. Well, the Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire took cognizance in a very careful manner of the right hon. Gentleman's complaint, and within a year or 18 months he so far saw the error of his ways as to make the magistracy of the county more representative by placing two Nonconformists on the Bench. In the present year, again, I have felt it my duty to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) to the appointments in that county with which I have now a happy and I hope a permanent connection. Now the borough of Southport—and I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir B. Assheton Cross) in his place, because this matter is of peculiar interest to himself—the borough of Southport, I say, is, as the late Home Secretary knows perfectly well, and as is known in the county of Lancaster, thoroughly liberal in its sentiments. The Town Council of South-port, or a large majority of the members of it, is Liberal in opinion; but when it was proposed, on the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir B. Assheton Cross), to grant a Commission of the Peace to the borough, Her Majesty's late Government thought proper to place 11 Conservatives and 4 Liberals on the Bench. Now this Bench of Magistrates is the licensing authority for the borough of Southport. I shall be extremely glad if the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Assheton Cross) will tell me that in this borough, where three-fourths, or nearly three-fourths, of the Town Council are Liberals, and which, as he knows very well in regard to the late Election, is thoroughly Liberal, the character of the magistracy is representative. I should like him to tell me this, for I have no doubt he intends to take part in this debate. I myself know, on the best authority—that the people of Southport have no confidence in the appointments made by the late Government as to the magistracy. Let me suppose that the magistrates of Southport thought proper to imitate the example of the magistrates of another portion of South - West Lancashire— namely, Liverpool. It is not long ago since Liverpool magistrates declared free trade in liquor. Suppose the magistrates of Southport, through a freak of fancy of their own, were to say that the people of that borough, should in future have free trade in liquor. I say that these magistrates have no right to claim in regard to such subjects that they represent the people. This, I consider, would be a gross travestie of representative power. When I listened to the hon. Member for Carlisle, I must say I regretted that he was not more explicit in regard to the terms of this Resolution, and I would ask the House to bear with me while I endeavour to state what is the interpretation which I place upon them. Many people who read the words of this Resolution—which is somewhat dark in its phraseology—are inclined, especially in country districts, to suppose that it has some concealed intention of confiscating the licences which have been given throughout the country. Now, I want to speak very plainly indeed upon this subject. What is the position of the man who possesses a licence for a public-house? We know very well that that licence is renewable from year to year; and that it is impossible to disguise from ourselves that there is a belief largely spread throughout the country that this Resolution means, or may be held to mean, that these licences will be liable to be forfeited by a popular vote given in regard to that particular matter. Now, I can only say for myself that I regard a licence possessed by the man who has the privilege of holding that licence for the sale of wine and spirits as a very substantial property—and I will tell the House why—because there is in regard to that licence every feature of property. Men have made investments from time to time upon the faith of those licences. The houses to which the licences belong are bought and sold every day at very large prices, and men exhibit, in the confidence with which they deal in property of this description, and in the confidence with which their investments are made, and through the neglect of Parliament to issue any substantial warning to the contrary, a belief that they are dealing with what is real and substantial property, and I hold and maintain that these men have in these licences a substantial property, which has been treated and dealt with as property. A newspaper of very large circulation and great influence in the neighbourhood I have the honour to represent spoke of me not very long ago in regard to something I had written about the land, and said I was almost too tender with regard to the rights of property. I think it is impossible for anyone who attempts seriously to undertake the work of reform to deal too tenderly with the rights of property. The foundation of success in regard to the work of reform is to pay due and proper and consistent respect to the rights of property. [Cheers.] Well, now, the cheers of the House lead me to believe that there is a very general belief and impression on the part of the majority that I rightly describe the condition of licences when I say that they are substantial property. If they are admitted to be such, then I pass on to say that I hold it to be one of the most important functions of Parliament to remember at all times that this House is, first and above all, the trustee of property throughout the country. A primary duty of Parliament is to remember that every description of property is held in trust by this House. No man's title-deed is worth much if the opinion of this House is against him; and therefore this House must always, I humbly submit, remember that its clear duty is to regard the rights of property as its own possession, and never, under any circumstances whatever, to delegate the dealing with these rights of property to any other authority in the country. I have heard it said that inasmuch as a licence is granted by local authority, that that which the local authority has conceded that also it should be able to take back at any time; that it should be able to decree that the person to whom it granted a licence should at any time forfeit that licence. I should like to show the House why in this matter that is an unsound and unsafe doctrine. It is true the local authority is empowered to grant licences under certain conditions; but if the House holds, as I certainly do, that these licences when granted constitute a property, then we must remember that the local authorities are not empowered under the conditions on which the property is intrusted to them by this House to withdraw the concession they have made. The local authority is empowered to make streets and ways through the town—to improve the means of intercommunication throughout the town; but when the local authority has made a street—for which purpose it need not apply to Parliament—it has not the power subsequently to disturb the property built upon the street which has been opened, and declared to be the use of the public for ever. There is no power in the local authority to deal with that property except by an application to Parliament. We have in this House almost every day Provisional Orders lying on the Table, which are to sanction the exercise by these local authorities of special powers for taking property under the sanction of Parliament. Having laid it down that there is a property in the licences, I say it is not competent for the House to give to any local authority the power of confiscating that property without compensation in the usual way. But there is one description of property connected with licences which I certainly desire to see taken advantage of by the local authority for the benefit of the public. I will give an instance which came under my own observation the other day. In a suburb of London a piece of land was laid out for a building estate, and the builder thought proper to devote a central position to a licensed public-house. The erection of the house cost him about £1,900, all told, and he obtained a licence for it, and there was a strict condition in connection with the building estate that there should be no other licensed house upon the property. Well, having expended only £1,900 on the building of this house, the builder sold it last week to a gentleman I know very well, who is a brewer, for £4,000. So that he pocketed £2,100 for the privilege of the exercise of the monopoly of selling intoxicating drink in this country. I am most anxious that a due and proper share of large sums of this sort accruing in that manner should be taken for the public advantage, and I should very much indeed like to see that £2,100, or a proper proportion of it in the exercise of local control, taken for the advantage of the public. I want only to say, in conclusion, that the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer) referred to this matter being settled by something like a simple counting of heads or votes. If I understood the hon. and gallant Member rightly, his complaint was that we had not universal suffrage, and his contention that all men and women should have votes. If he were to make a proposition of that kind at any time, I think he would find less objection to it on this side of the House than on the other. He said there was no good reason whatever why the people should take this matter in some form or other under their own control. What good, I believe he asked, could follow from it? Surely the hon. and gallant Member has had no experience of the value of the uses of responsibility. If the people were in some degree responsible for all that is obnoxious in connection with this trade, would they not be more careful and critical with regard to the manner in which the trade is carried on? I wish before I sit down to pay such tribute as I may to the services in the great cause of temperance which have been rendered by the hon. Member for Carlisle and those who co-operate with him. I think it a great and honourable and useful thing in all matters connected with the social well-being of the people that, as far as possible, an ideal should be lifted up before their eyes. There is not a loftier idea of virtue conceivable by many of the people than the idea of total abstinence. I honour that idea. It is never likely that the people will worship or follow ideals too readily. Ideals may be brought before them; and it is possible that the men who spend their lives in upholding these uncompromising ideals will do more than their fellows towards bringing about the time when we shall make some approach towards that blessed ideal of life when force shall be used always in concert with, and controlled by, reason, when strength shall be used for its most legitimate purpose—the protection and the welfare of the weak—to that blessed time when there shall be no complaining in our streets, and when our garners shall be full, yielding all manner of store.


congratulated the hon. Member who had just sat down upon the very healthy and welcome views he had enunciated with regard to the rights of property, views which could not be traced in the Bill introduced by Her Majesty's Government, which was in the course of its second reading, nor in the clause which had formed part of it, but which was now about to re-appear in shape of a new Bill. But he would not pursue that matter further. The hon. Member for Carlisle had suggested that he (Lord Elcho) had inherited the Parliamentary mantle of Mr. Wheelhouse, the late Member for Leeds. He laid claim to no such inheritance; and the only reason why he ventured to address the House for the first time on this subject was that he had had the honour of being intrusted with a Petition for presentation against the Resolution by the Scottish Wine, Spirit, and Beer Trade Defence Association. Why it should have been intrusted to him he knew not. The hon. Member who last spoke seemed to think that everybody's chance of success at the late Election turned upon the question of Local Option. He could only say that during the Election it was not heard of in East Lothian; but he was not able to speak for Mid Lothian. He agreed to present the Petition because he heartily approved of its terms, and of the reasons why the Petitioners were opposed to the Resolution of the hon. Baronet. They were opposed to it because they objected to this transfer of the licensing power from what they called a judicial body to such an injudicial body, if he might so use the term, as a majority simply of the ratepayers. The Petitioners stated that those who now administered the licensing system exercised their power with judgment and fairness, and where they could they suppressed licences with the view, as far as they could, of making them proportioned to the number of inhabitants, and that if this system were departed from they would have an arbitrary and capricious system of constant agitation, constant voting, and the expenses of another Local Board. But it was not the publicans only who took that view. An Association which had existed for years for the suppression of intemperance were exactly of the same opinion, and he rather gathered from the Prime Minister that he favoured the view taken by that Association. The opinion of the Petitioners was that if this question was referred to the decision of a majority, it would be to infringe liberty and endanger property. He quite agreed with that. The last speaker had said he did not understand the Motion, and that it was indistinct. The Motion might be indistinct; but nothing could be clearer than the speech it which it was introduced. They were urged to vote for Local Option because it did not necessarily mean suppression, but only restriction. His hon. Friend, however, was too honest to stop there, and he added that he wished to suppress the liquor traffic altogether. In this free country it would be an intolerable state of things to establish that a majority of the ratepayers—half the ratepayers of a district plus one—should lay down a law which would prevent the other half, minus one, who might be most temperate men, from being able to take a glass of beer or spirits in that district. Some years ago he had the pleasure of reading in an essay written by the present Postmaster General an expression of opinion strongly opposed to State intervention in matters such as were proposed to be dealt with by the hon. Member for Carlisle; and in the same article the writer stated that individual liberty had been "constantly subject to attacks from various phases of fanaticism." Interesting information on this subject was also to be found in a small book called Prohibitory Legislation in the United States, recently published by Mr. Justin M'Carthy, who had visited the State of Maine with the view of studying the question, and he had come to the conclusion that "this legislation had not only failed, but had incidentally produced very serious mischief." He (Lord Elcho) had a very nice gentleman as one of his constituents, a man unconvicted of any crime, who was not a Roman Catholic, who therefore did not necessarily fast; he believed he was a United Presbyterian or a Free Churchman—he doubted whether he was a member of the Established Church —and what did they think this gentleman had done? He had put himself on bread and water, and occasionally he indulged in the luxury of an apple. That was his sole subsistence, and he had never seen a more healthy man, or one who looked younger for his years. And why did he live in that way? Because he was convinced that all the ills to which flesh was heir came from eating meat, and they had almost half a convert to that system in the Home Secretary, who objected to their eating hares and rabbits. If this principle of Local Option was to prevail, what was to prevent hon. Members from coming to Parliament and moving a Local Option Resolution which would enable a majority of the ratepayers of any district to put the rest of the inhabitants of that district, every man, woman, and child, on bread and water, with an occasional apple? The principle was exactly the same, and he protested alike against the one and the other in the interest of liberty and freedom in this country. The property objection had been gone into by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold), and was also touched upon by the Prime Minister, who deprecated all idea of confiscation. The hon. Member for Carlisle was not so clear on the question of compensation and confiscation. He was much clearer on the question of suppression altogether. Prom his speech they might gather that he was opposed to compensation. The hon. Member looked upon every publican as such a criminal that he thought it his duty to take his property from him, and fine him in every farthing. But the Prime Minister had a different view. He was clear upon the question of compensation. Everything else was dark, but compensation was very clear. He recollected the "Ten Minutes Licensing Bill" of Mr. Bruce (now Lord Aberdare) in the Parliament before last, in which there was a clause which shook every man's notions and feelings of security as regarded property, because it empowered either ratepayers or the State to forfeit every publican's licence at the end of 10 years. If there was anything which turned out the Liberal Government of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), and brought in the Conservatives, it was the shock which legislation such as that gave. [Laughter.] Yes; they might laugh. That was his honest conviction, for it was the climax to the harassing of interests. Every other interest was induced to fear for itself in consequence of the way in which it was proposed to deal with the Licensed Victuallers. He was inclined to think that the habit of harassing interests had grown so inveterate that the Government had found it stronger than themselves. They were at their old work again; and, if they did not take care, it would produce the old results. The Prime Minister declined to vote for Local Option. [Mr. GLADSTONE said, he voted for going into Committee of Supply.] He (Lord Elcho) was correct in stating that the right hon. Gentleman would not vote for the Local Option Resolution. He preferred the policy which was the favourite policy of his first Government upon the North West Frontier of India—a policy of masterly inactivity. He wished to hold a middle position. He did not consider it the duty of the Government to take up a position in advance, but in media tutissi-mus to follow a policy of masterly inactivity. That was not the policy for a Government to pursue on a great question. It was their duty to endeavour to guide public opinion even at the risk of defeat; and, if they could not maintain a principle which they believed to be right, rather than yield to the stream, they should abide the consequences. That was his idea of the duty of a Government. It might be a wrong one; but, individually speaking, he would rather fall, taking such a view of the duties of Government, than stand up for any number of years for a policy of masterly inactivity. He believed this legislation was proposed at a time when it was not necessary. He heartily sympathized with every Member who desired by every possible means to repress intemperance. But the Resolution was introduced at a time when far from intemperance being on the increase there were many signs of improvement. About 50 years ago, when he was a boy, it was the custom in the hospitable North for the butler to allow four bottles for every private guest. [An Irish MEMBER: Four bottles of what?] Of wine. In his own family there was a china bowl around which his ancestors had sat for three days and three nights draining the whisky punch the bowl contained. He only mentioned these things to show what the state of matters was in the upper classes of society 100 years ago, and to show the improvement that had taken place since. On Whit Monday two years ago he visited the Alexandra Palace. The building was crowded, and yet up to 6 o'clock when he left he could swear that he had not seen a single drunken person. Of course, he did not vouch for what occurred afterwards. He believed the same could be said of the crowd at the Crystal Palace. A time when such an improvement was taking place in the habits of society was not a time to propose legislation of this kind— legislation which he held to be wrong in principle, as wrong as if a Member of that House were to bring in a Bill to prohibit the Queen's subjects from eating roast beef.


I have listened for two hours and three quarters to the debate in the hope of hearing a single argument against the Resolution of my hon. Friend; but beyond the fact that the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) went to the Alexandra Palace, when it was full inside and out, and that up to 6 o'clock on a Whit Monday he saw no drunkenness) I have not heard anything against the Resolution. The noble Lord, however, did not tell us what occurred at the Alexandra Palace after the time at which he left. I can assure the noble Lord that if such a Bill as he has referred to were introduced, and it was shown that roast beef did as much harm to the community as it is abundantly proved is done by strong drink, I, for one, would cordially support a measure to prohibit its public sale. I am as sensible of the rights of property as any man in this House; but, at the same time, I am equally as mindful of the rights and aspirations of the poor. This is essentially a working man's question. They are unable to get away from the evil influences of the public-houses that surround them. There is a district well known in Liverpool, comprising Addison and other streets and the courts off them. The death-rate in those streets was 45 per 1,000. I have had the frontage of them measured up, and the frontage of the private houses is 2,514 feet, whilst the frontage of the public-houses in those streets is 425 feet, so that the public-house frontage is a seventh of the whole. In the same year in which the death-rate was 45 per 1,000, the death rate in the district in which I resided was 11 per 1,000, and in that district there were no public-houses. The Corporation was naturally alarmed at such a death-rate, and sent for two scientific men, whose names are well known—Dr. Parkes and Dr. Sanderson —to investigate the condition of the town. This is what they said in regard to it— We found the landlord of a small public-house who had been for years in the district and knew the habits of the people who resided there, and he told us that for one man who did not drink, 50 took their share, they starved their wives and children, who had to beg for what they got. We examined a few cases, one of a tinplater who earns 22s. a-week, and he said he drank a little, and then owned he drank very heavily. The wife told us that sometimes he brought home 8s., sometimes 12s., and sometimes drank it all, and she said she should be very happy and comfortable if she could have the whole of the 22s. a-week. They were living in a back room for which they paid 3s. 6d. a. week. In the front room of the same house, the rent of which was 2s. a-week, a man, his wife, his son and daughter lived. The man earned 24s. a-week, and spent it in drinking, and the wife drank all she could get. And so on instance after instance. But there are other districts in Liverpool equally beset by public-houses. Hon. Members in this House very often speak about the welfare of the seamen, and let me tell them that within a few yards of the Sailors' Home, completely surrounding it, there are 47 liquor shops, and there are 99 within 200 yards of the Liverpool Exchange. In a single year in Liverpool, the year 1874, no less than 23,303 persons of both sexes were brought up before the magistrates charged with being drunk and disorderly. Now, the law states if any person permits drunkenness he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding, for the first offence, £10, and for any subsequent offence not exceeding £20. I will not take up the time of the House by dilating on the evils that arise in society at large from 23,303 persons being found drunk in a single year in one town; but I will state that the number of publicans who were proceeded against in that year for permitting drunkenness were only three. Under the existing laws working men cannot get away from the public-house. There are trams, 'buses, and increased railway facilities now in nearly all our large towns, so that the working men are getting away from the centres of the towns; but the public-houses follow them. For some time the Bench of Magistrates at Liverpool refused to license more public-houses; but some way or other in time past they have licensed over 2,500 of them. When a district is formed and built upon in the suburbs of Liverpool the public-houses manage to get out to them, under the law of "removals;" and during the last 15 or 20 years I have collected a great number of such cases at the annual Licensing Sessions. Thomas Kidd, a publican, at the corner of Cecil Street and the Wavertree Road, applied at the annual Licensing Session for the removal of the licence from a house in town to this house in the suburbs. Mr. Picton, one of the magistrates, opposed the removal, and went into the witness-box and gave evidence. He stated that he had no personal interest in the matter; but there was an average of one public-house for every 30 yards already, and unless the whole neighbourhood were abandoned drunkards he did not see how it was possible for a landlord to get a living. The end of the matter was that the magistrates refused to remove the licence; but at the Licensing Sessions held six months afterwards the same application was renewed, and the decision previously given was reversed, and the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Whitley) voted with the majority for the granting of the transfer. That course of action has been pursued by the Liverpool Bench of Magistrates over and over again. I do not desire to impute any motives to those magistrates who act in this matter; the freaks of the licensing magistrates are so various that we should never be surprised at anything they do; but the fact is clear from this, that when working men desire to get out of the temptation that besets them, the public-houses follow them under the existing laws, and in consequence their failure is due to the Bench of Magistrates. I have no desire to take up the time of the House any longer. What we ask for by this Resolution is that, instead of the granting and renewing of public-houses being continued in the hands of the Bench of Magistrates, who are responsible only to the Home Secretary, it will be infinitely better that the whole question be relegated to the ratepayers themselves, and that they should have the power to protect themselves from the evils of the liquor traffic.


said, he must congratulate the Prime Minister on the course he had taken in saying that he should not vote for the Motion of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). No explanation had been given by the hon. Member for Carlisle of the manner in which he proposed that licences should be granted. Did he mean that licensing power was to be given to the majority of the ratepayers? The question was essentially one for the working man; and such being the case, he (Colonel Barne) maintained that a Parliament formed upon household suffrage would be much more capable of settling it than the present. In agricultural districts there were very few ratepayers in proportion to the number of inhabitants; in some instances only five or six in a population of 200 or 300. If, therefore, the licensing power were put into the hands of the ratepayers, a great injustice would be done to the labouring population. He opposed the Resolution on the ground that it was an interference with the liberty of the subject.


said, as a member of the body of 4,500 magistrates in the country, he denied that there was any truth in the statement that they had not faithfully discharged the duties committed to their trust in the matter of licensing. He maintained that the main body of his fellow-countrymen had implicit confidence in the integrity of the magistracy, and would sum up his remarks by saying—"Trust us in all, or not at all."


who rose amid loud cries of "Divide," expressed his opinion that the discussion on this important Motion, which might lead to momentous consequences, ought not to be cut short. The subject was worth a few hours, if not a longer time, for discussion. ["Divide!"] He could not understand the reason of those noises, which were beautiful in their variety, but which would not, in the slightest degree, change his determination to address the House. He stood there to give utterance, to the best of his ability, to what seemed to him to be worthy of consideration. The sooner the noises ceased, the sooner he should finish his speech. It was in the discretion of his hon. Friends opposite to prolong his remarks for an hour, or to allow them to come to a close in the course of 20 minutes. It had been said that no arguments of importance had been adduced against the Motion on that side of the House. ["Divide !"] If his hon. Friends opposite would allow him to be heard he would try to adduce some arguments against it. He complained of the interruption with which he was met, and expressed a hope that the Speaker would check it. ["Order!" "Chair!"]


said, the hon. Member was addressing himself to other Members of the House, and not to the Chair.


said, the noise had confused him. He humbly accepted the correction. Local Option meant an assumed right of the majority of a district to control the rights of the minority. There were many cases in which a minority ought to give way; but not in matters of personal conduct, of which each man was himself the best judge. The principle of Local Option involved an act of tyranny that was peculiarly characteristic of the Liberal Party, who were the friends of freedom in theory rather than in practice. He protested against Local Option also on the ground that it was based on an ethical fallacy, and held that true morality permitted moderate indulgence without avowing distrust in a man's power of self-control.

Question put.

The House divided; —Ayes 203; Noes 229: Majority 26.

Amherst, W. A. T. Fairbairn, Sir A.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Fawcett, rt. hon. H.
Baring, T. O. Feilden, Major-General R. J.
Barttelot, Sir W. B.
Bass, A. Fellowes, W. H.
Bass, H. Fenwick-Bisset, M.
Bateson, Sir T. Filmer, Sir E.
Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H. Finch, G. H.
Beach, W. W. B. Fitzpatrick, hn. B. E. B.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Fitzwilliam, hn. W. J.
Beresford, G. De la P. Fitzwilliam, hon. W.
Birkheck, E. Fletcher, Sir H.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Floyer, J.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Folkestone, Viscount
Brassey, H. A. Forester, C. T. W.
Broadley, W. H. H. Forster, Sir C.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Foster, W. H.
Fowler, R. N.
Brooks, W. C. Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Brymer, W. E. Galway, Viscount
Burnaby, Col. E. S. Gardner, R. Richard-son-
Buxton, Sir R. J.
Carden, Sir R. W. Garfit, T.
Carington, hon. R. Gamier, J. C.
Cartwright, F. Giffard, Sir H. S.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Goldney, Sir G.
Christie, W. L. Grantham, W.
Churchill, Lord R. Gregory, G. B.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cobbold, T. C. Gurdon, R. T.
Coddington, W. Hall, A. W.
Colthurst, Col. D. la T. Halsey, T. F.
Compton, F. Hamilton, I. T.
Coope, O. E. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Cotes, C. C.
Cotton, W. J. R. Harcourt, E. W.
Crompton-Roberts, C. Hartington, Marq. of
Cross, rt. hn. Sir R. A. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Cubitt, right hon. G. Helmsley, Viscount
Daly, J. Herbert, hon. S.
Davenport, W. B. Hicks, E.
Dawnay, Col. hn. L. P. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Dawson, C. Hinchingbrook, Vise.
De Worms, Baron H. Holland, Sir H. T.
Dickson, Major A. G. Hope, rt. hn. A. J. B. B.
Digby, Col. hon. E. Jackson, Sir H. M.
Douglas, A. Akers- Jackson, W. L.
Duckham, T. Johnson, E.
Dyott, Colonel R. Johnstone, Sir F.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Egerton, hon. W. Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.
Elcho, Lord Knightley, Sir R.
Emlyn, Viscount Knowles, T.
Estcourt, G. S. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Evans, T. W. Lawrance, J. C.
Ewing, A. O. Lawrence, Sir
Lawrence, W. Rendlesham, Lord
Leamy, E. Repton, G. W.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Lee, Major V. Ritchie, C. T.
Leigh, hon. G. H. C. Rodwell, B. B. H.
Leigh, R. Rolls, J. A.
Leighton, S. Ross, A. H.
Lever, J. O. Rothschild, Sir N. M. de
Lewisham, Viscount St. Aubyn, W. M.
Loder, R. Sandon, Viscount
Long, W. H. Schreiber, C.
Lyons, R. D. Scott, M. D.
Macdonald, A. Seely, C.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H.J.
Makins, Colonel
Manners, rt. hon. LordJ. Severne, J. E.
Mappin, P. T. Simon, Serjeant J.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Smith, A.
Miles, Sir P. J. W. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Mills, Sir C. H. Smithwick, J. F.
Monckton, F. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Moreton, Lord Sykes, C.
Morgan, hon. F. Talbot, J. G.
Moss, R. Taylor, rt. hn. Col. T. E.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J.R. Thomson, H.
Thornhill, T.
Mulholland, J. Thynne, Lord H. P.
Murray, C. J. Tollemache, hon. W. F
Musgrave, Sir R. C. Torrens, W. T. M 'C.
Newdegate, C. N. Tottenham, A. L.
Nicholson, W. Verney, Sir H.
Nicholson, W. N. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Northcote, H. S. Walter, J.
O'Donoghue, The Warburton, P. E.
Onslow, D. Warton, C. N.
O'Shaughnessy, R. Watney, J.
Paget, R. H. Whitley, E.
Patrick, R. W. C. Wiggin, H.
Peek, Sir H. Williams, O. L. C.
Pell, A. Wilmot, Sir H.
Pemberton, E. L. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Percy, Earl Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Portman, hn. W. H. B. Wroughton, P.
Powell, W. Wyndham, hon. P.
Power, R. Yorke, J. R.
Price, Captain G. E.
Puleston, J. H. TELLERS.
Pulley, J. Aylmer, Capt. J. F. E.
Rankin, J. Barne, Col. F. St. J.N.
Reid, R. T.
Agar - Robartes, hon. T. C. Birley, H.
Blake, J. A.
Agnew, W. Blennerhassett, R. P.
Ainsworth, D. Bolton, J. C.
Allen, H. G. Borlase, W. C.
Allen, W. S. Brand, H. R.
Archdale, W. H. Brett, R. B.
Armitage, B. Briggs, W. E.
Armitstead, G. Bright, J. (Manchester)
Arnold, A. Bright, rt. hon. J.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Brinton, J.
Balfour, Sir G. Broadhurst, H.
Balfour, J. S. Brocklehurst, W. C.
Barclay, J. W. Brogden, A.
Baring, Viscount Brown, A. H.
Barran, J. Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C.
Barry, J. Bryce, J.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Burt, T.
Biddulph, M. Buxton, F. W.
Biggar, J. G, Caine, W. S.
Cameron, C. Hill, Lord A. W.
Campbell, Sir G. Holland, S.
Campbell, R. F. F, Hollond, J. R.
Campbell- Bannerman, H. Holms, W.
Howard, E. S.
Carbutt, E. H. Hutchinson, J. D.
Castlereagh, Viscount Illingworth, A.
Chadwick, D. Inderwick, P. A.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. James, C.
Chambers, Sir T. James, W. H.
Cheetham, J. F. Jardine, R.
Chitty, J. W. Jenkins, D. J.
Clifford, C. C. Johnstone, Sir H.
Close, M. C. Joicey, Colonel J.
Cohen, A. Laing, S.
Collins, J. Lalor, R.
Colman, J. J. Lambton, hon. F. W.
Corbett, W. J. Law, rt. hon. H.
Corry, J. P. Lawley, hon. B.
Cowan, J. Laycock, R.
Creyke, R. Lea, T.
Cunliffe, Sir R. A. Leake, R.
Currie, D. Leatham, E. A.
Davey, H. Leatham, W.
Davies, D. Leeman, J. J.
Davies, R. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Davies, W. Lewis, C. E.
De Ferrieres, Baron Litton, E. F.
Dilke, A. W. Lloyd, M.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Lusk, Sir A.
Dillwyn, L. L. Mackie, R. B.
Dodds, J. Mackintosh, C. F.
Duff, rt. hon. M. E. G. Macliver, P. S.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Macnaghten, E.
Egerton, Adm. hon. F. M'Arthur, A.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. M'Clure, Sir T.
Ewart, W. M'Coan, J. C.
Farquharson, Dr. R. M'Lagan, P.
Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B. M'Laren, D.
Firth, J. F. B. M'Minnies, J. G.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W. Maitland, W. F.
Marjoribanks, E.
Flower, C. Marriott, W. T.
Foley, J. W. Massey, rt. hon. W. N.
Foljambe, C. G. S. Maxwell, J. H. M.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Meldon, C. H.
Fort, R. Middleton, R. T.
Fowler, H. H. Milbank, F. A.
Fry, L. Morgan, rt. hn. G. O.
Fry, T. Morley, A.
Gill, H. J. Morley, S.
Gladstone, W. H. Mundella, rt. hn. A. J,
Glyn, hon. S. C. Noel, E.
Gordon, Sir A. Norwood, C. M.
Gordon, Lord D. O'Connor, A.
Gourloy, E. T. O'Conor, D. M.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Palmer, C. M,
Grafton, F. W. Palmer, G.
Grant, A. Palmer, J. H.
Grant, D. Parker, C. S.
Greer, T. Peddie, J. D.
Grey, A. II. G. Peel, A. W.
Hamilton, J. G. C. Pender, J.
Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V. Philips, R. N.
Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Harrison, C. Potter, T. B.
Hastings, G. W. Powell, W. R. H.
Havelock-Allan, Sir H. Power, J. O'C.
Hayter, Sir A. D. Price, Sir R. G.
Henderson, F. Pugh, L. P.
Heneage, E. Ramsay, Lord
Herschell, Sir F. Redmond, W. A.
Hibbert, J. T. Reed, Sir C.
Reed, E. J. Thompson, T. C.
Rendel, S. Tracy, hon. F. S. A.
Richard, H. Hanbury-
Richardson, J. N. Trevelyan, G. O.
Richardson, T. Vivian, A. P.
Roberts, J. Vivian, H. H.
Rogers, J. E. T. Wallace, Sir R.
Russell, Lord A. Waugh, E.
Rylands, P. Webster, Dr. J.
St. Aubyn, Sir J. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Samuelson, B. Whitwell, J.
Sexton, T. Whitworth, B.
Shield, II. Williams, B. T.
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T. Williams, S. C. E.
Slagg, J. Williamson, S.
Smith, E. Wills, W. H.
Stansfeld, rt. hon. J. Willyams, E. W. B.
Stevenson, J. C. Wilson, C. H.
Stewart, J. Wilson, I.
Stewart, M. J. Wilson, Sir M.
Stuart, H. V. Wodehouse, E. R.
Sullivan, A. M. Woodall, W.
Sullivan, T.
Tavistock, Marq. of TELLERS.
Tennant, C. Lawson, Sir W.
Thomasson, J. P. Mason, H.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put.

Resolved, That, inasmuch as the ancient and avowed object of Licensing the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors 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.

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