HC Deb 14 June 1881 vol 262 cc524-64

, in rising to move the Resolution of which he had given Notice, said—Mr. Speaker: Sir, I am quite aware that this Session is a very unfortunate Session for anybody to bring forward almost any subject, because, as we all know, the time of the House and the attention of the country are mainly occupied over that Irish Question which has now been the subject of discussion in this House for so long, and which will probably continue to occupy it for some time to come. But although that is quite true, and although I believe everyone thinks that Ireland is now the great subject on which we ought to deliberate, and the subject to which the Government should turn their attention and deal with, and fulfil the hopes and expectations of those Irish Liberals by whom, to a large extent, that Government were placed in power, yet, while admitting all that to the full, I cannot think it would be wise entirely to neglect all other subjects, because, after all, our fellow-subjects and fellow-citizens in Ireland only number about 5,000,000, whereas the people of this Island number somewhere about 35,000,000, and it cannot be out of place to call attention to a matter which affects the whole of those people. Before I go any further I must first explain what, I dare say, most Members of the House are now aware of, that I have altered the terms of the Resolution which stood upon the Paper in my name for a long time. That Resolution, Sir, was drawn up last year. I gave Notice of it at the end of last Session, and I did hope to move it, if the Government this Session did not deal with the Liquor Question. But, as everybody is aware, the circumstances which existed then are now entirely changed, and it would be folly on my part to call on the Government to engage in any great legislative scheme which would arouse strong opposition at this period of the Session, and especially considering the other work which lies before them. Therefore, taking all this into consideration, and taking counsel from some of my Friends, "men of light and leading," I have come to the conclusion that it would be better to alter the Resolution and to make it general in its terms—to make it a Resolution which simply says that this is a matter which ought to be dealt with at the earliest practical opportunity. That is the meaning of my Resolution as it now stands. It declares, in effect, that the matter is pressing and is waiting to be dealt with, and that it cannot brook longer delay after the time shall have come when the attention of the Government can be turned to anything else than Irish affairs. For I cannot but think that my Resolution, and the subject we have before discussed with which it deals, form a very great grievance. I think I can explain very shortly to the House what that grievance is. The grievance is, that there is a law in this country by which irresponsible authorities are enabled to license places for the sale of intoxicating drink wherever they please to do so, and the fact is, that having that power they exercise it to a very large extent, I have no doubt with the best intentions—but the result is not satisfactory. These irresponsible bodies have power to establish places for the sale of drink wherever they see fit, and the consequence is that they do establish them, and intoxication arises from the sale of drink. Now, that intoxication, as I am sure the House will agree with me, is a matter which concerns us all, not merely out of what is called a regard for sobriety, but because it involves consequences more or less serious and severe to the welfare of the whole community. I suppose it will not be denied that this drinking is the main cause of the pauperism which exists in this wealthy country. I often see with, delight the efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster General (Mr. Fawcett), in trying to induce saving habits among the people, by establishing means whereby they can invest their savings in the Post Office and so forth; and I often think it is very hard on him that, while he is doing all he can to establish Post Office Savings Banks and other institutions to encourage thrift, he should be counteracted, and have all his efforts neutralized, by the Government allowing 150,000 persons to get all the money of these poor people by selling them drink in licensed premises. That is one part of my case; but there is another. The other evil that arises from the sale of drink and the fostering of these drinking habits is the crime of the country. I do not think I need quote many authorities on this point, for the House by this time must be almost tired of hearing them; but I should just like to show that this is not a new grievance; it is not one that I have discovered, or that my friends have discovered for MR. This grievance, the crime of the country being caused by the drinking habits of the country, is more than 200 years old. Listen to what Sir Matthew Hale said, so far back as the year 1670— The places of judicature which I have held in this Kingdom have given me an opportunity to observe the original cause of most of the enormities that have been committed for the space of nearly 20 years; and, by due observation, I have found that if the murders and manslaughters, the burglaries and robberies, the riots and tumults, the outrages and other enormities which have happened in that time were divided into five parts—four of them have been the issues and product of excessive drinking, of tavern or alehouse drinking. Now, that was said 200 years ago by the Chief Justice, and the Chief Baron had exactly the same complaint to make a few years ago, when he said that "two-thirds of the cases of law which came before the Courts arise from drinking." I think I have now proved that pauperism and crime arise from this drinking system, and we know also that lunacy is mainly caused by the drinking habits of the people. There is another evil which I may also mention. We have a Bill now before this House, and it is unquestionably a most important Bill, for dealing with the question of electoral corruption. But everybody here knows that there would be very little electoral corruption if it were not for the drinking shops. I do not like to quote too many authorities—not authorities of the past—but still I should like to quote on this point—that drinking is caused by the facilities for getting drink. I should like to quote what one of the most important Committees ever appointed in this House said about the matter. That Committee was presided over, some 25 years ago or more, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. P. Villiers), and this was the way in which they summed up the matter— Numerous Committees of your honourable House bear unvarying testimony both to the general intemperance of criminals and the increase and diminution of crime in direct ratio with the increased and diminished consumption of intoxicating drinks. That is a strong indictment, by one of the most influential Committees that ever sat in this House. I will now quote from the opinions of Members of the Government; and I see one sitting near me on the Treasury Bench, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, who holds the Office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright). He said once, concerning those who deal in drink, that "they dealt in articles which produced crime, disorder, and even madness." That is a very strong indictment. Then his Colleague the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) said, a few years ago, that "if something were not done the very stones would cry out." Again, the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir William Harcourt) spoke only a few months ago, and spoke most powerfully upon this matter. He said— The character of the evil is of that sort which increases rather than diminishes with the prosperity of the people… The whole industry of the country is at the mercy of this unhappy vice… He was most deeply anxious to see if anything could be done to remedy it. The Prime Minister himself said, in language never to be forgotten— It has teen said that greater calamities are inflicted on mankind by intemperance than by the three great historical scourges—war, pestilence, and famine. That is true for us, and it is the measure of our discredit and disgrace. I think I have advanced almost enough to prove the greatness of the evil and the greatness of the grievance, and I hope I shall not be accused of exaggeration. I know it is the proper thing for everybody to say—"Ah, but there is an intemperance in language as well as in drink." [" Hear, hear ! "] That is considered very clever, and always draws a cheer from somebody or other. But my opinion is that when a vice produces all the evils—the accumulated evils—of crime, disorder, and madness, it is almost impossible to exaggerate the magnitude or the mischievousness of that vice. And even moderate men, when they go into this question, speak in language which would astonish many people, and would never be used by me of my own accord. There is the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). The House knows very well that he is not a fanatic, and I do not think he is an enthusiast, or likely to be called so. But what did he say about drink? Why, that alcohol, which is the essential of drink, is "the devil in solution !"If I had said that the House would have been shocked; but I only quote it to show what moderate men say when they go into this question. And now we come to an important point in the case, and that is, what is the attitude of the State towards this alcohol, and what ought to be its attitude? I am not going to deny that it is very delicious stuff. [" Hear, hear ! "] The hon. Member who cheers agrees, at all events, with that remark. It would be absurd, knowing how largely it is used, and how many a poor man gives up his honour, his fame, his health, his happiness, and all that makes life worth having, for the sake of consuming it—it would be absurd, I say, to deny that it is a fascinating drink. The State knows that, and knows truly enough and well enough that it is a very dangerous article to be dealt with. And so the State says—"We will do what we can, while allowing it to be dealt with, to prevent its doing more harm than we can help to the brains and character of those who consume it." And therefore the State endeavours to minimize the danger. The State has endeavoured, and is endeavouring, to insure moderation in the use of this fascinating but dangerous article. Now, then, let me quote one word—one short sentence—to show exactly how this matter stands. It is put very well in a speech from which I will quote made by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Hartington) in the course of last year. In that speech he described this liquor system, and this is the way in which he did it— We have given to a certain body of traders—the licensed victuallers—a monopoly of the Bale of intoxicating liquor. We have given it upon an implied condition, that condition being that the moderate consumption of these articles shall be permitted, and that an immoderate use of them shall be restricted and forbidden; but what is the result? Why, it shows that the existing system is not one which works satisfactorily, and that the implied condition under which a valuable monopoly is granted to a certain body of traders is not observed by them. That shows that the system which we force on the people is a system which has failed—it "is not working satisfactorily." Well, but that is not because the State has not tried to make it work properly. It has made very great and praiseworthy efforts in that direction. It has considered very carefully the how, the when, and the where this drink is to be sold. It has considered how it is to be sold, and it has taken the greatest pains in inquiring into the character of those who sell it; and if anyone wishes to know what are the many virtues of the licensed victualler, he has only to go to one of their dinners, presided over by some of the hon. Members I see before MR. If anyone will only do that, he will be sure to know all about it before he comes away. I agree with what was once said by the right hon. Member for Birmingham about the danger of running down the characters of the licensed victuallers. The right hon. Gentleman said—"A great deal of harm has been done by running down the characters of the licensed victuallers." No doubt a great deal of harm has been done in that way; but my conscience, at all events, is perfectly clear. I have always said they are the finest body of men in the country. Indeed, that is my case. If anybody were to show that they are a lot of disreputable people, the answer would be clear—" Let us put fresh men into their places." But I say—"No; they are good men. They have done their best. It is not the men, it is the system that has broken down."

I remember a speech of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, in which he said— If I thought that by putting on an apron and going behind the bar myself, I could carry on the trade more satisfactorily than it is now carried on, I should think it the most religious and patriotic act I could perform to go and serve behind the bar. Precisely so; but he has never done it. He had never done it, because he knows they are as good as he. What terrible punishments there are for licensed victuallers' sins! What a vast deal of trouble the State has taken to determine when drink should or should not be sold ! Certain days are allowed—certain, hours are allowed for opening, and certain hours fixed for shutting. It is a meritorious act to sell at 11 o'clock at night; it is a crime to sell at one minute past 11, so minutely has the State gone into all these matters. Then the State has taken great trouble as to where the drink is to be sold. There are provisions as to rental, and as to what sort of a house it is to be, and the magistrates are told to inquire carefully into the requirements of the neighbourhood. And yet, with all these precautions and all these minute and detailed injunctions as to how the trade is to be carried on, the whole thing—as the noble Marquess said in the speech from which I have just quoted—the whole thing has been nothing more than a ghastly failure. I do not know where we are to find men to set the system on its legs in a new fashion, and to carry it on in a satisfactory way. We have all seen, some time ago, and the working men of this country have seen, what the noble Marquess said last year—that the whole thing is unsatisfactory, and that the licensing system is doing a great deal of harm. Thence has come the agitation which has troubled so many hon. Members of this House, and which makes some of them afraid to look their constituents in the face, this agitation for legislation in the direction of prohibition. We cannot deny that the agitation comes mainly from the working men, for we have not had many supporters from the upper and middle classes. The working men say—"We have seen that the licensing system does a great deal of harm; but we see many places where there is no licensing system, because there are no licensed houses. In those places drinkshops are not set up, and there we find that a great amount of benefit has resulted from their absence." Liverpool is the headquarters of alcohol, so far as I know. [" No, no ! "] Well, somebody says "No ! "Everybody thinks his own place the worst. Everybody says to me—" Oh, my good fellow, come down here; this is an awful place!" But Liverpool, at all events, is bad enough. What do the working men see there? They see great districts—one belonging, I believe, to Lord Sefton, and another to my hon. Friend the Member for the Flint Boroughs (Mr. Roberts)—places where the landlords say—" No drinkshops shall be set up"—places which are oases in the desert of drink. What is the result? Why, that even in Liverpool the working men are content to go long distances in order to get houses in those districts, so as to be away from the contaminating influence of the drinkshops. Then there is a district in the suburbs of London, called Shaftesbury Park, which is carried on by a benevolent company, and one of the cardinal rules of which is that no drinkshops shall be set up there, and that is one of the most popular places for the dwelling of working men in all London. Wherever you go throughout the country you find parishes where the landlords, having the control of the whole thing, and being able to prevent them, prohibit them—prohibit the setting up of drinkshops. And what do you find there? Are the people puny, Buffering from the want of drink? Are they wretched, half-starved, gloomy, and spiritless? Not a bit of it. They are happy and comfortable, and they thank their beneficent landlords who have kept a great nuisance out of their way. I saw recently that a Gentleman who was formerly a Member of this House, and who is well known to many of us—I mean Mr. Thomas Hughes—has established a sort of model colony in America, and he is taking out to it the best educated people he can find. I have always heard that educating people cures drunkenness, and, therefore, that an educated people could safely be trusted to have as much drink as they like. But my Friend Mr. Hughes says—"Not a bit of it. This is a free country, where everybody can do what they please; but mind, don't let us have any sale of drink." I do not find fault with the magistrates. They do the best they can, and certainly they do the best for themselves. As they have the power of stopping the drinkshops, and preventing them from being established except where they please, they take care not to set them up at their own doors. If a magistrate finds that it is sought to obtain a licence for a house too near his own, he immediately writes letters to all his friends on the bench—"Dear So-and-So,—Whatever you do, be on the bench on such a day. A licence is applied for a house next door to me." He gets all his men "whipped up," and the house for which the licence is asked is, of course, "Boycotted." All I ask for to-night is this—that you should give to the poor man the same privilege which the rich man has now—the privilege of protecting himself from these abominations. I do not know—it is not my business to know or to prophecy—whether, if you gave the people this power, they would avail themselves of it; but I do know that many who know the working people better than I do are convinced they would. Dr. Guthrie, one of the most eminent Scotchmen who ever lived, and who knew his country and its poor thoroughly well, said, years ago— I am convinced that if the people of this country had the power, the very poorest in the lowest neighbourhoods would, by an almost unanimous voice, sweep away the drinkshops set up among them. I say they ought to have a right to do it. So far as I am concerned, all I have asked for is, that you should give the poor man the right which the rich man has, and that from the magistrates, with whom I do not find any fault, you should take away the irresponsible power now intrusted to them. And, Sir, as the House knows, I have often, perhaps, wearied them by explaining this policy to them, and in former days I had very little success. I was always defeated by my excellent Friend Mr. Wheelhouse, whose convincing arguments always led a large and enthusiastic body of Followers into the Lobby with him, to prevent the people having this power which I ask for them. But a change came over things a little more than a year ago. There came a General Election—the General Election of 1880—and a remarkable Election it was. Remarkably good. [" Question! "] I am coming to the Question. I am going to say why it was good. It was good, because when we counted up the Returns after the Election, we were able to say, not what was once said in this House with regard to the United States of America, that "the great Republican bubble has burst," but that "the great Publican bubble has burst." We had always thought, up to that time, that Beer was king, and that the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) was its prophet. But this was all changed after the last General Election. The verdict of the country was taken. No doubt, the principal question at that Election was as to our warlike policy; but I am quite sure that what had a great deal to do with the result was the determination of the electors of this country that this war against all that is good and virtuous and respectable in this country should also be put a stop to as well as all our foreign wars. Do not say that my language is too strong, for I always give my authorities. I have quoted the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), and I will now give the opinion of one who was once a brewer and a Member of this House—namely, the late Mr. Charles Buxton. He said— The struggle of the Church, the school, and the library against the public-house and the beershop is only one development of the war between heaven and hell. I believe the people of this country were animated by a desire to do something to put a stop to that war when they returned the present Government to power. I, having been fortunate enough amongst other people—or unfortunate enough—to get a seat in this House, moved this Resolution, which I may, perhaps, read to the House, last Session— 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. Now, that simply meant, as the House sees, that, in my opinion, no irresponsible body should have the power of forcing drinkshops on an unwilling neighbourhood. I copied that Resolution from the words used in the Report of a Committee of Convocation—a most interesting document that appeared some years ago, in which gentlemen who had studied the question deeply said they had found out that wherever there were no drinking-shops—they having been put away by the will of the landlord of the place—they found sobriety, law, and order, and happiness that was most gratifying. I brought forward that sentence from the Report of the Committee as my Resolution, and I said it simply stated that people in other places ought to have the power of putting themselves in the same happy condition that some landlords had put their tenantry into. I know that some hon. Members in this House who voted for that Resolution thought it went further than that, and that it implied that there ought to be a new system of licensing, new licensing bodies, and so forth. Well, if it meant that, I am very glad. I do not affirm it or deny that it meant so much; but all I say is, that I know it meant what I wished it to mean—namely, that the power of preventing the forcing of drinking-shops on any place should be given to the people; and I want the House to understand that it does not run counter to any Licensing Bill or scheme that anyone may bring in. I should be delighted to see a good Licensing Bill; and what I ask is that, along with that Bill, we should have the simple power of saying—" Do not put all your machinery to work, if the people do not want it to work." I have heard people say that I ought to talk about compensation. [" Hear, hear ! "] Yes; hon. Members opposite want compensation. It is said it would grease the wheels, and make the thing go much more smoothly, if I were to talk about compensation; but I do not think that is my business. We should have the account presented to us before we pay it. The House is quite ready to consider, and respectfully study, the claims of the licensed victuallers, whenever they tell us what they want compensation for. I am for compensation, if it is fair, and if it is proved to be fair, and only then. All that we must consider when we get to the Bill. Do not let anyone say they will not vote for my Motion, because there is no compensation in it. That is a matter which we must hand over to the Committee, when the wise men come to have their say about it. I have said nothing about compensation either in this Resolution or in the last, and I think it is well that I did not do so; for what did my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade say at Birmingham last week?— In our English Legislature there are numberless precedents in which legal rights have been, proved to he in conflict with public morality and public interest, and have been restricted and limited, and I am not aware of any such case in which compensation has been given to those who have been thus treated. My Resolution was carried last year, as the House knows, and I think it would not be out of place for me to give, very shortly, some remarkable facts connected with the majority on that occasion. Scotland gave me a majority of about 8 to 1 in favour of the people being intrusted with the power I ask for them not only in Scotland, but in the rest of the United Kingdom. Ireland gave me a majority of nearly 2 to 1; but Wales, better than all, gave me a majority of 12 to 1. Now, I think that was very satisfactory, and showed that there really was a great feeling in the country on this matter. And, more than that, what was very satisfactory to me was that no less than 19 Members of Her Majesty's Government voted with me on that occasion, and I hope I shall have a few more to-night. No less than four Cabinet Ministers voted with me in favour of this just and righteous Resolution which I propose. I will not say how many voted against me, because I am sure they would not like to have it recorded. Well, but I must candidly admit that the Prime Minister did not vote for me on that occasion, and I am very sorry he did not. But he gave his reasons, and I will tell you what those reasons were. I had, having been unfortunate in the ballot, been obliged to bring on the Resolution on a Friday evening, and, as the House knows, Supply is the first Order on that day, and the Prime Minister was reluctant to vote on a question on going into Committee of Supply. He thought it would be inconvenient not to take Supply, therefore he declined to vote for my Amendment. He said— 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. But he said in the course of his speech, and I want the House to pay attention to this— 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."—[3 Hansard, ccliii. 362–3–4.] Now, that was very satisfactory to me; and I have no hesitation in saying that though the Prime Minister conceived it to be his duty to go into the Lobby against me, his speech was worth 20 votes of other hon. Members. I do not think that during the whole of last Session, or since he has been returned to power, he ever made a speech that gave greater satisfaction to a greater number of his supporters out-of-doors than that in which he gave a promise at some day not very far distant to give them this reform they have so long desired. The House, I believe, understands the position in which the matter now is. By their vote on my Resolution last year, the House solemnly declared that there was a great grievance unredressed—the grievance which I have already described. Twelve months have gone by since that Resolution was passed, but still the evil is in full force. What, I will ask, has the country not suffered during the past 12 months in consequence of the evil going on unchecked? Why, the newspapers are filled every day with the records of crime, and outrage, and misery, and pauperism. This House is employed, rightly employed, I am sure, in doing what it can by legislation to put a stop to the outrages we so often hear of in Ireland. That is all very well; but I venture to say that in one week throughout the United Kingdom there are more outrages committed through this drink evil than there are committed in Ireland in six months. ["No, no!"] I am astonished to hear an hon. Member say "No, no!" I am sure the hon. Member never reads the newspapers, and knows nothing of what is going on in the country. This evil arises from drinking, and drinking from the public-houses. I think that is logic, and I will give just one instance to show how these places are licensed. There is a place called Tynecastle, within, the constituency of the Prime Minister himself. It is a district largely occupied by working men, and is just beyond the Edinburgh municipal boundary. Someone sought for a licence for a corner house, and 80 per cent of the adult inhabitants of the district petitioned against it; but the Court granted it. They then went to the Confirmation Court—in these matters they go through sieves, as the House knows. Although out of 71 householders within 60 yards of the place 61 had signed a petition against, yet the Confirmation Court confirmed the licence, and the public-house was established at the doors of these working men who had protested by such an enormous majority that they did not want it. That is not a fair state of things. I say these men are not fairly treated. They could be safety and wisely intrusted with the power of deciding whether or not they would have public-houses amongst them. Well, Sir, the House passed my Resolution, and it may be said "that is a step towards a Bill." That is perfectly true. People have said to me—" Well, I suppose now you will bring in a Bill; "but those were people who did not exactly know the House. This House is in a curious condition now. There was a time when it was, I believe, fairly possible for a private Member to get a Bill of any importance through; but that was before the creation of the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton). I think there is a text which says—"One sinner destroyeth much good." We may paraphrase that by saying—" One blocker paralyzes much good legislation." [An hon. MEMBER: Blockhead!] No, not "blockhead"—the House knows what I mean. The House knows that I have no chance of passing legislation, and so, after I passed my Resolution, it was quite evident that the time was coming when the Government would have to take the question up. As I told the House, the Prime Minister in his speech very clearly and fairly foreshadowed that time. I have said, and I repeat it, that I think it would have been absurd to have held the Prime Minister and the Government hard and fast to their promise during this Session, because the state of Ireland, as we know, is so acute that it must be dealt with without delay, and it takes the whole time of the Government, looking at the Opposition, to do it. For myself, I say that I do not believe that even the question of Ireland is of more importance than that of this drink traffic, because my intellectual power is not sufficient to enable me to conceive of anything more important to the State than getting rid of the causes that produce the accumulated evils of war, pestilence, and famine. All that I can do, however, is to urge on the House and on the Government that they will not allow any undue or unnecessary delay to take place in dealing with the matter. The demand for legislation on the subject, as this House well knows, has grown steadily from year to year. Many hon. Members can remember how those who advocated this were ridiculed at first; but now, whatever hon. Members on the other side may think, all must admit that it is a question that excites more interest than any other amongst the masses of the people of the country. The people out-of-doors are, naturally, a little sore that the question cannot be dealt with. It seems to them a little hard that this House will hardly ever turn itself diligently and steadfastly to anything unless there is confusion and tumult out-of-doors. It is, in my opinion, one of the saddest things in our political life. It has always been so, and so, I believe, it will always continue. But it would be a noble thing if, in this matter, we could listen to the voice of the people, though we know that they are not the sort of people who will commit outrages to get what they want. I merely wish by this Resolution to give an earnest to the Government that the House will cordially support them in dealing with this evil, and in giving that measure of self-government which will be honourable to the Parliament that bestows it, and a boon and a benefit to the people who receive it. I beg to move the following Resolution:— That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to give legislative effect to the Resolution passed on the 18th day of June 1880, which affirms the justice of local communities being entrusted with the power to protect themselves from the operation of the Liquor Traffic.


I rise, Sir, to second the Resolution moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). In doing so, I have no intention of detaining the House more than a minute or two. On previous occasions I have had an opportunity of explaining my views very fully on this question to the House; and, even if I had intended to speak at length, I think that, after the very able and exhaustive speech my hon. Friend has just delivered, I should have considered it unnecessary to do so. I simply rise to testify to the very great interest that is felt by a large and intelligent section of the community in this Temperance Question. My hon. Friend has spoken of the evils of intemperance. He has dwelt on those evils at some length. Now, Sir, I think we shall all admit that these evils cannot be exaggerated. It is very fortunate that we have now arrived at a stage when these evils are fully recognized by an increasing number of the community; and it is also satisfactory that the public mind is entirely alive to the importance of dealing with this subject by legislative enactment. I think, Sir, that there never was a time when it was more necessary than it is now to deal effectively with this subject. It must, however, be admitted that in the present state of Public Business we are not in a very good position for devoting our attention to a matter of this kind. Other questions, not, perhaps, more important, but more clamorous for attention, are calling upon us and forcing us to deal with them. There is only one point on which I would like to say a single sentence. We shall undoubtedly hear to-night, as we have frequently heard before, of the iniquity of "robbing the poor man of his beer." Well, the hon. Member for Carlisle has referred to the fact that we have a very large number of parishes and districts in the United Kingdom where public-houses do not exist. The landlords in these places have shut up the public-houses. There is no option, local or otherwise. The landlords are determined that there shall be no public-houses on their estates. Well, I do not complain of that; I think it is a great advantage to the community. This absence of public-houses is a real benefit to the inhabitants that reside in these localities; but I would ask of the hon. Member who speaks of the tyranny of depriving the poor man of his beer whether it is more tyrannical or iniquitous for the majority of the inhabitants, after due deliberation, to determine on closing the public-houses than for a single individual to declare that no public-houses shall exist on his estate? I am very glad that my hon. Friend has modified his Resolution, and I trust that now, recognizing as I do, and as I am sure he does, the difficulty the Government must experience in giving any pledge to immediately deal with the subject, we shall, nevertheless, have from the Government some assurance that they appreciate the importance of the question, and that they will without unnecessary delay grapple with it in such a way as to include this principle of allowing the inhabitants the right to say whether these public-houses shall exist in their midst or not. I have great pleasure in seconding the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to give legislative effect to the Resolution passed on the 18th day of June 1880, which confirms the justice of local communities being entrusted with the power to protect themselves from the operation of the Liquor Traffic."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)


said, he had listened with a great deal of attention to the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and as regarded his opening observations he (Mr. Daly) had no exception to take to them; but the hon. Baronet, in asking the House to affirm this principle of local option, had failed entirely in making out his case. The hon. Baronet should have done something more than display the disadvantages of intemperance. He was bound to give them some indication of the gulf into which he asked the House to plunge by endorsing his Resolution. The hon. Member who seconded the Resolution (Mr. Burt) had adverted to estates which were held by a proprietor who made it a condition that there should be no alcoholic liquors sold on his property. The hon. Member forgot to mention that the persons who went to reside on those estates went there with a knowledge of the conditions precedent to such residence, and very likely those who elected to go there were teetotallers, and selected the residences in consequence of the prohibition. That was a very different thing from giving power to a small majority to debar the large minority in any locality from the power of obtaining what they had been in the habit of using. The Resolution before the House primarily required that the House and the Government should adopt a violent and extraordinary change in the system of licensing public-houses. Before asking the House and the Government to adopt any such principle, the hon. Baronet was bound to show that the drunkenness he deplored was attributable to the present licensing system; but he had failed to do that. He was bound to prove a great deal more, and that was that the system which he wished to substitute for it would decrease intemperance; but that also the hon. Baronet had failed to prove. Although the Resolution of last year was carried by a small majority, the House was now asked to adopt a completely different proposal. The Resolution of June 18 simply affirmed the principle that a legal power of restraining the issue or renewal of licences should be placed in the hands of the inhabitants themselves; but now the House was asked to affirm that the principle of that Resolution ought to be embodied by the Government in a Bill. Even if the House adopted the present Resolution, he, for one, failed to see how it could be carried into practical law. He complained of the utter vagueness of the proposition. What did the hon. Baronet mean by "inhabitants?" Did he mean persons of every age, sex, and condition, or did he confine himself to adults? On that point the Resolution was vague and indefinite. He (Mr. Daly) had heard it stated that the principle was the same as that of the Permissive Bill; but, if he recollected rightly, that Bill provided that prohibitory legislation of this kind should be adopted only by the ratepayers, and then only by a majority of 2 to 1. A majority of the inhabitants might mean one, and would it be reasonable that a minority so nearly resembling a majority should be coerced by that majority? Before the House came to a decision upon the Resolution they should be put in possession of much fuller information as to what was intended. If they were to be governed by majorities, it should be by majorities in those classes who would be affected by closing public-houses. If the doctrine of majorities was to be adopted, he would ask upon what logical grounds Home Rule could be withheld from the Irish people? It was not fair for those who would not be affected to prohibit a man from having a glass of beer. If they were going to treat this as a workman's question, it should be decided by workmen, and not by those who had no inte- rest in the matter. One of his objections to this scheme was that it would be totally unworkable. It would take all the intellect of the Cabinet, combining as it did so many illustrious men, to embody the Resolution in any fair scheme of legislation. Even supposing it should become law, it would infallibly lead to demoralization; because it would be a direct inducement to a man who wished to keep his house open and to retain his position, to give loose and indiscriminate credit for drink, and it would also, to a great extent, lead to a disregard of police regulations. By a dexterous manipulation of the ratepayers, a monopoly would be created, and the monied man would push the smaller man out of the way. Any legislation of that kind would do a great deal of harm to the few, ostensibly on the ground of doing good to the many. A licence as at present existing was a real, good, and substantial property. In the city (Cork) which he had the honour to represent, he had frequently adjudicated on the question of licences, and he spoke from knowledge and observation when he said that it was next to impossible for anyone to obtain a new licence. The hon. Baronet very adroitly shelved the question of compensation; but the question of compensation for injury to a licence had been affirmed over and over again. It was notably affirmed in Dublin in 1877. The present Recorder of Dublin, a learned man and good lawyer, refused to grant the renewal of a licence, on the ground that there were already licences enough in the locality to meet all requirements. That decision was appealed against, and the Court of Queen's Bench reversed the decision, Chief Justice May stating that existing vested interests could not be extinguished, even with a legitimate object, without compensation. The hon. Baronet stated that, under the present system, licences were granted by an irresponsible body. That was a very wide flight of the imagination. The magistrates had to be satisfied not by mere oral testimony, but by the testimony of witnesses on their oath; and, so far from being irresponsible persons, the magistrates were bound to discharge their duty without fear, favour, or affection. All who wanted to prevent the renewal or the transfer of licences were at full liberty to appear before the magistrates and oppose applications for those purposes; and if they could satisfy the magistrates of the truth of their objections, the magistrates were under the obligation of their oaths to refuse the applications so opposed. So far from the magistrates being an irresponsible body, the very contrary was the fact. He thought it incumbent on the hon. Member for Carlisle to show that the magistrates had not properly exercised their powers before he asked the House to take any step towards taking those powers out of their hands. The hon. Baronet had made no attempt to prove any such a proposition, yet it was necessary he should do so before he could be said to have laid the foundation for a measure which would destroy an institution and create another in place of it. Another point to be noted was this—that at present the licensed victuallers were interested in keeping their trade in their own hands, and that they had large associations whose object it was to protect their own interests and keep others out of the ring. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; but in that very fact they had a security that drunkenness could not be forced on a locality by the needless multiplication of public-houses. They came to the practical side of the question when they considered the amount of compensation which would have to be given, and for that, as he had stated, there was the high judicial authority of Chief Justice May. That would be a question which the Government would have to consider, if it ever determined to give effect to the principle. He would not undertake to say how much compensation would have to be given. An enormous sum was vested in the trade, and many millions would have to be paid. He thought it would be wrong in the Government to hold out the slightest hope that a principle so utterly vague and indefinite would be carried into effect. He regarded the proposal as one altogether impracticable, unworkable, and dangerous, and he should give it all the opposition in his power, because, at the same time, he thought it would be unwise and impolitic.


said, that if the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had confined himself to the object put before them by the Seconder of the Resolution (Mr. Burt) there would have been no opposition; for the desire of the Seconder was to see legislation brought to bear, if possible, on the putting down of intemperance. The Resolution, however, contemplated local communities taking the place of the magistrates of the land; but the hon. Baronet had not shown what was to be the formation of the body that was to be take the place of the magistrates.


explained that he only proposed a veto which would be exercised by not licensing, not by licensing.


continued, that it had not been shown how local communities were to exercise the veto—whether the power would be vested in all the residents, whether the veto would depend on manhood suffrage, or whether the women would have a voice. Anyhow, those who were most likely to have the interests of temperance at heart would be most likely to absent themselves from the poll; they would not go to the poll to meet the rowdies and the roughs opposed to temperance. Besides, the decision would not be arrived at independently, for it was very certain that the public-house people would get at those who had votes, and would use every means in their power, by granting credit and other benefits to those who frequented their houses, to secure their votes for the renewal of licences. Licensing was a judicial matter, and ought to remain so, and judicial functions could be exercised wisely only by those who were in permanent and independent positions, and ought not to be intrusted to those who were elected periodically. By implication the Resolution cast a slur upon the magistrates; and, in his opinion, the magistrates had done their duty. A consequence of this was that there had been a diminution of intemperance in the last 30 or 40 years, and the number of public-houses had very much diminished. The Resolution would leave the decision of the question to those directly interested one way or the other; but the magistrates held the balance between the teetotallers and the drinkers, and considered the interests of the whole community. The question was, would temperance be promoted if the Resolution of the hon. Baronet were put into a Bill and that Bill became law? It was possible that in some little gardens of Eden a majority might decide to do without drinking-shops; but it was not certain that other places would not take the opposite course of increasing their drinking-shops. [" Oh, oh ! "] He presumed that by local option those people would have the right to vote for an increase as well as a decrease. What did the Resolution mean? It seemed to him that it meant the Permissive Bill pure and simple. It was very certain that if the State found the sale of spirituous liquors was injurious to the State, it would be the duty of the Government at once to suppress, not only the sale, but the manufacture of those liquors. He did not think that any hon. Member would say it was the duty of the State to put down altogether the manufacture of spirits, beer, and such like things, because a few people used drink to excess. If, then, it was admitted that the manufacture of those things was to go on, on what ground could it be said that the sale of them was not to be permittted? To him it seemed to be utter nonsense to say a man might manufacture an article, but must not sell it. He was as much in favour of temperance as the hon. Baronet was in favour of doing away with the fearful effects of intemperance in this country. He was happy to say that the evidence given before the Committee of the House of Lords two years ago showed that temperance had increased and that intemperance was decreasing in the land; but he was sure that the hon. Baronet was not going the right way in suppressing public-houses altogether. The right way was, first, to educate the people as to the vice of intemperance, and then, as they must have public-houses, he believed the second thing was to make them better. Public-houses now were palaces compared with the dirty dark gin shops of 20 or 30 years ago; and he was entirely at one with the hon. Baronet in wishing to root out the disreputable ones that remained, replacing them with fine, open public-houses, with large glass windows, giving plenty of light, where people could not get drunk without the chance of being observed. In doing that more would be done to promote temperance than could be done by means of the Resolution. He opposed the Resolution because it did not define the mode by which the hon. Baronet proposed to do away with the vice of intemperance. The principle of local option was altogether wrong, however applied. After all, it was nothing but tyranny—the tyrannizing of a majority over a minority. It was wrong in principle, useless in practice, and entirely opposed to the views of the people of this country.


, in sup-porting the Motion, said: I do not think, Sir, that the prospects of the Resolution before us will be much damaged by the speech that we have just listened to. With a great deal of that speech, so far as the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Aylmer) deplored the drinking habits of this country, we must, of course, all agree. It may, too, be true that, in the long run, we must look more to the spread of education for the prevention of intemperance than to any legislative action of this House. We must, in the meantime, however, bear in mind that we have not yet got a perfect system of education, and it is therefore necessary that something should be done by legislation. Until the whole people of this country awake to a sense of the evil effects of intemperance, it is necessary that we should do something to counteract its effects, which must be acknowledged to exist, at any rate, by any person who has read the evidence of the various Commissions which have inquired into this question. Now, Sir, nothing struck me more in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Maid-stone than the language which he used about drinking-shops. He dilated on the advantage of having them as large as possible, as well as gaudy and attractive; and, in the same breath, he talked about the necessity of their having large glass windows in order to enable the police to see what was going on inside. He preferred that men should be gathered into such places rather than the lower class of houses, and declared that by being under the eye of the police they would be prevented from doing wrong. But surely it is not necessary to vindicate the existence of public-houses on such grounds as that. Whether large or small, attractive or otherwise, they exist in many places in too great numbers, and, I am afraid, will continue to do so, unless something is done to prevent their continual increase. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that, no doubt, if the Resolution were acted upon, and a new law were made, there would be found in this country some gardens of Eden, where public-houses would not be allowed. I suppose he meant gardens of Eden from which the serpent had been expelled. It is not, however, desirable that these gardens of Eden should alone exist at the option of the local landowner; but it is desirable that the people generally should have a voice in the matter. But it is the proposal that such a voice should be exercised which alarms the hon. and gallant Member. He spoke about the elections that would take place if the Resolution were carried into legislative effect, and said that respectable people would abstain from voting. That is an argument that I will not attempt to controvert. It is sufficient for our purpose that the greatest advocates of the present system should state openly that the people who would be likely to vote for the continuance of too many public-houses would be "rowdies." The hon. and gallant Member told us also that the inhabitants at large of the various localities were not fit persons to be intrusted with such judicial functions as the selection of public-houses. He forgets that every man here owes his right to sit in this House to those very people to whom we would give the right of saying whether they should have public-houses or not. I do not think that he will say that the publicans are persons who ought to be elected by a more select constituency than that which returns the Members to this House of Commons. Moreover, the hon. and gallant Member opposed the Motion of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) because it is indefinite. It is because the Motion is indefinite that I am ready to support it. I say so for this reason. The hon. Baronet throws on the responsible Government the onus of settling the executive detail of the principle of giving localities some part in determining whether public-houses shall exist among them or not. He does not state in what way the principle is to be carried out; but he throws on the Government the responsibility of introducing a scheme for carrying out his Resolution. It was curious that while the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Daly) would not allow the inhabitants of the various part of the country to decide whether they would have public-houses or not, or how many they should have, he considered that it was quite right that the public should be protected against the encroachment of unnecessary public-houses by the organization which is established by the licensed victuallers themselves for the protection of their monopoly. He appeared also to think that it added greatly to the claim that organization had on our respect that they were a very wealthy body and able to employ lawyers to defend them. Well, there is another wealthy body also—it is a body that I do not belong to—which may very fairly be set against the organization of the licensed victuallers in the matter of wealth. It is a body over which the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle has for many years presided, and if we are merely to admire the wealth that is used to protect us from an increase in the number of public-houses, we may pay as much respect to the body represented by the hon. Baronet as to that on behalf of which the hon. Member for the City of Cork has spoken. For my part, I have never voted for the Permissive Bill. I could not vote for the Bill, nor its details. It contained a cut-and-dried method of dealing with the difficulty that I did not approve of. I therefore listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Baronet, to see whether he intended to declare for the Permissive Bill and the Permissive Bill only. But there was not a word about the Permissive Bill in it, and I understand that he throws over for the time that measure, leaving it to the Government to take in hand the execution of this Resolution if adopted. I am, under these circumstances, free to give him my support. There is no doubt in my mind on the general question that there are too many public-houses in this country. Only the other day I drove a few miles out of London, and was struck by the enormous number of public-houses on the road, which I may state ran through a very wealthy suburb. There was hardly a moment when we could not see three or four public-houses. For a short distance I do not hesitate to say that there was as many as one public-house to every seven houses on the road. There can be no doubt that that is a state of things that ought to be remedied. Well, Sir, the hon. Member for the City of Cork objects to the Resolution because it is vague and indefinite. I have already said that I think it is deserving of our support, because it does not lay down the exact means by which it is to be carried into execution; but it is in itself definite enough. It clearly affirms that it is desirable to give legislative effect to the Resolution carried by the House in June last. It is true that the hon. Baronet did not say a single word as to the constituency which was to determine whether any, or how many, public-houses should exist or not, and I think that he was well advised in taking that course, because if we pass this Resolution we shall throw on the Government the onus of deciding that question. If the Government is worthy of our confidence in other respects, they are worthy of it in this, and if they once accept this principle of local option they may surely be trusted to put their measures for its execution into the best possible form. Allusion has been made by hon. Members to those estates upon which landlords do not allow public-houses to be erected, and the hon. Member for the City of Cork makes the assumption that the people who reside upon such estates have gone there with a full knowledge of the rules that prevail there, and that they are all teetotallers. But anyone who knows anything of these estates knows that it is by the mere caprice of the landlords that these rules are established; and yet the people on the estates, many of whom have been born there, continue to remain there. They are not necessarily teetotallers, but they remain because they find out the good effect of the rules that have been made by their landlords. But supposing what is said is true—that the people have gone there with a knowledge of the circumstances—that does not touch the Resolution, which simply says that, just as certain landlords have the power of saying what public-houses should be on their property, so the people should have the right of determining what public-houses should be established in their midst. I think it right that some such power should be given. The hon. Member for the City of Cork thinks otherwise, and says that the hon. Baronet did not show any connection between drunkenness and the present system of public-houses scattered over the land. Now, I think that he did show the connection, and that it is perfectly manifest that the more drinking houses there are, the more people will be tempted to go into them. A man may pass the third, fourth, or fifth house and be tempted into the sixth. The hon. Member also said that the hon. Baronet did not show that the diminution of the number of public-houses would have any tendency to reduce drunkenness. I think that that is merely the converse of the other proposition. If the great number of public-houses has a tendency to promote drunkenness, the diminution of their numbers must have a tendency to diminish it. Then, as to the ratepayers, we were told by the hon. Member for the City of Cork that they would in many cases not be in favour of a decrease in the number of houses. But there is not a word about ratepayers in the present Resolution, and there was not in last year's. If the hon. Baronet had distinctly said that it was the ratepayers alone who were to decide the question, I freely admit that I should not have been inclined to support it. I do not think that the ratepayers necessarily represent the opinion of the people at large. You must find a larger constituency if you are to have local option. I think, indeed, that the proportion for the necessary majority fixed by the Permissive Bill when it was before the House formed one of the most objectionable features of that measure. The hon. Member for the City of Cork, however, desired that the question should be decided only by those interested in the matter, by which he said that he meant the people who use the public-houses. But it would be difficult to find in any given constituency exactly who are the people who use the public-houses, and who are those who do not. But whether that be so or not, the Resolution only enables a constituency to say whether there shall be or shall not be a certain number of public-houses. It says nothing about total prohibition, and there is nothing to show that total prohibition, will, of necessity, follow if it be passed. If the hon. Gentleman considers for a moment, he will admit that it is not only the people who use the public-houses who are interested in this question, but also their connections, from whose benefit the money spent on drink is diverted. It is the wife, the sister, the children, the parent who is injured, and altogether the grievance has a wider basis than the hon. Member thinks. Then we are told about the turmoil at elections which will arise if the Resolution be carried into effect; but we were told the same thing when the Ballot Act was introduced. Ballot boxes were to be stolen, polling booths broken into, and all sorts of disorder were to be rampant. A different state of things, however, has been found by experience to prevail, and so it would be at elections to give effect to local option. After one or two of them had taken place, very few people would be anxious to bring in the old state of things. But the hon. Member also told us that it would be doing harm to the few to do good to the many if we passed this Resolution, and it were carried into effect. It is, however, not an uncommon principle in our legislation to make the few give up something that they enjoy in order that the great majority of the people may be profited. Take the case of the railways for example. Where a railway is made, the landlord, where it is necessary, has to give way. He does so upon compensation being awarded to him; and, for my part, I would not support any measure that did not give fair compensation for any injury to vested interests. That compensation, however, should come out of the funds of the localities themselves. It would be for those localities which put down public-houses, because they did not want them, to bear the expense of their action. It is possible that they might not be willing to carry out the powers given to them if they had to pay for exercising them; but that would be their affair. I would not force the carrying out of the principle of this Resolution on the people; I only wish that the people should have the power to settle this matter for themselves, especially if they are willing to pay for it. As I said before, I never voted for the Permissive Bill; but I look on this as a totally different question, and I think that this Resolution may be carried out without in the least introducing the objectionable features of that measure. This is the first time that I have spoken at any length upon this question. I have felt impelled, after having had the honour of sitting in this House for nearly 12 years, to give the reasons why I shall in future support the principle now before us. I support that principle because I consider it is just and equitable, and that its adoption is very greatly desired by those most concerned in the matter—the working people of this country—who suffer most from the vice of drunkenness. I believe that there is a strong and growing public feeling that the time has arrived, when, if possible, this vice should be met by some determined effort on the part of the Legislature. I should not feel justified in opposing such an attempt as that made by the hon. Baronet, who has shown himself ready to surrender his own predilections, and, in the desire to put a stop to the evils he deplores, has been willing to withdraw a Bill which he might fairly have hoped at some time to have had the credit of carrying through this House, in order to obtain the support of the Government of the country, and to allow them, in accepting the principle of local option, to settle upon their own responsibility in what manner the evils of drunkenness ought to be dealt with.


said, that it appeared that the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) thought that after so many hours of the day had been devoted to land the evening should be appropriated to water. He (Mr. Hicks) was not there to deny the evils of drunkenness; but, while he was prepared to support any reasonable measure that would contribute to the sobriety of the country, he was not prepared to sanction any Bill that was founded upon the principle of total abstinence. The question was as to how an admitted evil was to be remedied. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle had said that the licensing system was in the hands of an irresponsible body; that this power had been exercised to a great extent, and that drunkenness had resulted; but he had failed to show in what way the magistrates had failed in their duty, nor had he shown how the evils to which he referred were to be corrected. That was especially important, in view of the fact that crimes traceable to the existence of public-houses had decreased since the alteration of the law in 1872, which vested the granting of licences for beerhouses in the magistrates, instead of leaving it to the Excise authorities to grant such licences on the petitions of intending beershop keepers, supported by the signatures of inhabitants of the neighbourhoods in which the beershops were intended to be established. The unpaid justices had been abused for their conduct. Yes; they had been abused when- ever this question had been brought forward, though not so much so on this occasion as formerly. In the exercise of that power, the magistrates had proved that they were willing to do all in their power to carry out the intentions of the Legislature, with the result that the evils complained of had very greatly abated. From Returns he held in his hand, it was clear that these attacks on the justices were most unfair, and that the magistrates had enormously decreased the number of licences, and they certainly had done their duty. These Returns showed that, as regarded beer licences granted by ratepayers, there were—

1864 1865 1866 1867 1868
Bedfordshire 17 49 51 84 32
Cambridgeshire 63 207 218 283 296
Essex 65 83 118 92 187
Lancashire 1,806 1,993 1,957 1,945 1,977
Hants 4 5 3 6 6
Total of England 7,855 9,134 10,133 10,576 10,539
[Interruption.] He did not catch the words of the hon. Member, but he hoped the following figures would interest him. As regarded new licences granted since the passing of the Act of 1872 by justices for old houses, beershops, and grocers, they found—
1874 1875 1876 1877 1878
Bedfordshire 19 3 1 1 1
Cambridgeshire 15 2 0 0 1
Cambridgeshire Grocers
Essex 9 15 10 5 0
Lancashire 43 22 25 31 19
Old beershops 33 6 8 0 13
Hants 0 0 0 0 0
Total of England 1,069 533 518 512 431
Last year the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) alluded to Liverpool. Well, in 1864, with a population of 450,000, there were 1,937; in 1879 the population was 600,000. The proportionate increase of licences would give, say, 2,500. Instead of that they found a decrease. So much for Liverpool. He thought he had proved conclusively his case in defence of the justices. As regarded the Resolution, intemperance could not be stopped by a penal statute; and he would never be a party, under the cloak of liberality, to strike a blow at the liberty of the subject.


I may remark, Sir, that it is to me very pleasing to find ourselves engaged in a question which, though of great importance, and in which both sides of the House take a great interest, is one we can discuss without heat and without passion. We have nothing to gain by making any mistake upon the question which the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle has submitted to the House. Notwithstanding this coolness of temperature, I observe still that the difference of opinion which prevails leads to statements that are exceedingly contradictory. The hon. Members who have spoken on that side of the House have, I think, not dealt fairly with the Resolution of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. They have treated it as if it contained some grievous, and almost poisonous, element, and they have discussed the question entirely in a manner which, I think, overlooks the fact that we are not now considering the Permissive Bill of past time, but a very simple Resolution, which, I hope, we can all understand. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Daly) has drawn rather a fearful picture of the cruelty of allowing majorities to tyrannize over minorities. The hon. and gallant Member for Maid-stone (Captain Aylmer) has painted the whole question in very dark colours; and the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks), who has just spoken, has said he would not be found putting his seal upon what he calls total abstinence; but I venture to say that all these observations, for the most part, have no real, just, and accurate reference to the Resolution which is now before the House. The Resolution does not go further than referring, in fact, to the mode of granting licences—that that mode should be in accordance with the wishes and the wants of the people. It binds the House to nothing more than a condemnation of the present system of licensing, and a suggestion of the possibility that a better system may be found. Now, I took this view of the question on the last occasion it was under discussion, and I have always been of opinion that the Permissive Bill of my hon. Friend was, as long as it was before the House, the main obstacle to any progress in what is called temperance legislation. I am of opinion now, as then, that it contained principles and aimed at objections which the House of Commons was not likely, I think, in our time to admit; and, therefore, I did all that I could, both in the House and out of it, to recommend that that Bill should be with- drawn, and that the whole question, in a broader spirit and upon a broader basis, should be offered to the House, in order that we might proceed as we do with regard to other political legislation—that we should proceed by such steps as the necessity and the opinions of the public permitted. Well, that Bill has been withdrawn, and I hope we shall not see it again. But the proposition now submitted to the House is one of a character which I think every Member of the House may support who believes that anything could be done by Parliament to discourage intemperance amongst the people, and, if it be possible, to get rid of what we all feel to be a great disgrace upon the character of a considerable portion of the nation. I do not complain for a moment of my hon. Friend having renewed to-day the Resolution which he brought before the House last year. When he withdrew the Permissive Bill, and brought forward a Resolution in favour of local option, he immediately doubled his vote in this House, and so soon as that question was referred to the constituencies, as it was a year ago, we are all aware that a great advance took place, and when the question was again submitted to the House of Commons there was a considerable majority on both sides in its favour. Well, we are now at this point, that we agreed last year—whether we take the same view to-night I do not know—but the House of Commons last year determined that, in its opinion, the present system of licensing was not a good one, at least, that it was not the best, and that a change might be effected which would be greatly advantageous to the people. We have, then, this Resolution before us, and which reads very much like the one of last year. The general meaning, at all events, may be held to be the same; and it comes to the same decision—that the present system is not the best, and that public opinion, as expressed at the late General Election, and as, I believe, it will be expressed at any future General Election, is in favour of a considerable change in regard to the legislation touching the sale of intoxicating liquors. Although the Resolution, as submitted to the House to-night, is, in effect, quite the same as that discussed last year, I do not make any complaint, because he has asked the House again, to affirm what the House affirmed a year ago. My experience in matters of political agitation—and this is, in some sort, a political question—leads me to great charity in dealing with persons who are engaged actively as leaders of political agitation. It is necessary, and it is desirable, no doubt, that gentlemen in that position should seize all fair opportunities of bringing forward the subjects in which they are interested for public and Parliamentary discussion, and it is only with this discussion that you can have a growth of opinion outside, and an advance of opinion inside, the walls of Parliament. Therefore, I do not object at all to the course my hon. Friend has taken in asking us again this year to re-affirm the proposition which he submitted to the House last year; but I am not quite sure that he has not rather a further purpose than this—not to ask us to agree to anything like a Permissive Bill—but he would wish to compel the Government, and I do not mean to use the word compel with an offensive meaning at all—but would like to compel and urge the Government to take up this question, which, he says, cannot be dealt with by a private, independent, and unofficial Member, to take it into their hands and bring it in from this Bench, and it will have a greater chance of passing through Parliament. That is quite true. We all know perfectly well that it has been said that the time of Parliament taken up by independent Members is generally time wasted by independent Members, and is efficiently disposed of by the Government. ["Oh, oh!"] That is not an opinion formed to-day. It is not because I sit here that I say that. I do believe that from the condition of the House, which has been growing worse for many years past, it is almost impossible at the end of the Session to count up anything that has been done except by the help and direct action of the Administration. Now, the Resolution of last year did not bind the Government to any course upon this matter. Members of the Government, as the House will recollect, voted, some in one Lobby, and some in the other. It was not then, and it is not now, in any sense a Party question, and I hope it will never become a Party question. I am quite sure that in a matter of this nature, in which the public are so much interested, in which the morals of the country are so greatly interested, it would be a great misfortune if Party spirit should ever enter into and mar a great work which it would be possible for Parliament to accomplish. I say the Resolution of last year did not bind the Government at all, but was really an expression of opinion on the part of the House. I am not sure that although my hon. Friend has taken out of the Resolution the words to which objection has been made he has calculated, in asking the House to re-affirm the Resolution of last year, that he will bring pressure on the House and the Government to introduce at an earlier period some measure on this difficult question. He knows that in ordinary cases, if the Member who is not a Member of the Administration brings in a Resolution of this or any other kind, and carries it through the House, that he may be expected very soon after to bring in a Bill, and to endeavour to carry the Bill through the House; but carrying a Resolution on a particular evening is a very small labour indeed compared with carrying a Bill through all its stages. Therefore, my hon. Friend shrinks from engaging in what we know to be almost and entirely an impossible task. Then I think the Government is not bound to take charge of any measure which may arise or follow this Resolution. I must insist on this, because, especially in this Session, every Member must perceive that it is absolutely impossible for the Government to deal with a question of this nature. The Session is already blocked by a measure of extraordinary urgency and of extraordinary importance—by a measure which, although many Members of the House have, I doubt not, great doubts with regard to its wisdom in some points, yet, notwithstanding that, there is a feeling in the House that it must be passed, and the sooner it is passed the better it will be, not for Ireland alone, but for the United Kingdom in general. [" Question ! "] An hon. Members says "Question!" I am only illustrating the position in which we are placed, and arguing that even though the House were to agree to accept the Resolution this year, as it did last year, it would not bind the Government for this Session, or next Session, to introduce any Bill founded upon that Resolution. We shall have as much to do this Session as can be done after that great measure is passed. It may be, for aught I know, that very little else may be done, and that some things which we had hoped for may end in total failure. If nothing is done by the Government and the House this Session, I may say, for the consolation of my hon. Friend, that the question in which he is so greatly interested grows, and continually grows, and it holds out to him a constant promise of future result. But there are two difficulties in the way of the Government, which I should be somewhat disturbed by, if it were proposed at an. early period to introduce any Bill upon this question. Any Bill that the Government could introduce, I take it for granted, would meet with considerable obstacles. If it did not give powers, for example, to suppress the traffic in liquor, but only within limits to control it, I am not quite sure that we should have the cordial and earnest support of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle. I hope that in the time that may elapse between now and that when any Bill will be introduced, he may in some degree have changed, if not moderated, his views, so that he may, with the great force he has behind him, give support to any Government which may attempt honestly to deal with this question. The other difficulty is the question which has been referred to by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Daly), the question of compensation in case public-houses were suppressed, when there had been no breach of the law. I think the hon. Baronet would, on further consideration—in fact, I gathered from what he said that this is so—would not think it absolutely wrong for Parliament to provide some mode by which men who are now engaged in a lawful business should not be deprived of that business without some sort of compensation. These are two points in which I think any Bill brought into the House by any Government would probably differ from the view of my hon. Friend. I should regret very much if the hon. Baronet should feel himself bound, the moment a Bill founded on his Resolution was presented to the House, to rise and say it was a measure which he could not accept or support. If we pass this Resolution to-night, if it be affirmed as the Resolution was affirmed last year, there will be, in some degree, another step in advance. What it may lead to at present will be mainly this—that we shall gradually come to something more like unanimity in considering this question, and possibly approach a state of feeling which, at some not distant time, may facilitate legislation upon it. But there are several great questions which are blocking the way. Hon. Members have heard that illustration which has been sometimes attributed to me, but which I borrowed from my old friend Colonel Perronet Thomson, that you cannot get six or 12 omnibuses abreast through Temple Bar. We are just in that position now. What are the great questions which the Government will have before long to turn its attention to? There is that introduced by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler), the great question of the Land Laws. There is besides that another question on which, I believe, the Liberal Party, with scarcely any exception, is united, and I suppose there are a great many Members opposite who will not differ—the question of the extension of the county franchise. There is probably also the question of the re-distribution of Parliamentary seats, which may, I hope, lead to general support. Then there is, besides that, another question which presses very much—the municipal government of this great City of 4,000,000 people. Ireland contains 5,000,000, but the Metropolis in which we are now contains 4,000,000, and a greater confusion of government probably never existed in a time of peace in any great city in the world. These are great and pressing questions. I think some of them, at least, are ripe for the consideration of the House, and for being dealt with by Parliament. If the Government is to make a choice, if I were to put it to the House what choice it shall make, it may be that the question of the drink traffic is one of so great difficulty, and for which the public is so little ripe, that it would be injudicious in the last degree to take that before the other questions I have mentioned. I am not arguing against legislation on behalf of the general objects of my hon. Friend. I am arguing so that the passing of the Resolution last year and the re-affirming of it this year must not be understood to be a compelling of the Ad- ministration to take up this question and deal with it immediately. If that be the case, and if that be the conclusion to which we come, my hon. Friend has no reason to regret or despair. The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Hicks) told us what a great diminution there had been in the number of licences, although there had been an increase in population, and he argued from that that the magistrates had fairly and honestly done their duty. I do not in the least dispute that; but I say that the reason that there has been that change within the last few years had been mainly in consequence of the great agitation throughout the country, which has been promoted and led, to a great degree, by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. He may take comfort in this—that, although the House is not prepared, and the Government is not prepared, now to introduce or promote any Bill upon this question, that the movement amongst the people, the discussion of this question going on year after year will create an amount of opinion which will not only compel some Government to deal with this question, but which is necessary to enable any Government to deal with it in a manner that can be effectual and satisfactory. The policy which was pursued on this Bench last year is the policy of to-night. This is in no degree either a Government Resolution, nor is the policy of the Resolution a Government policy. This is a matter on which every Member of the House has a right to form his own opinion, and act freely upon it. I hope, whatever the division may be, it may be a division not influenced by Party, but by a consideration of the circumstances of the time in which we are debating, and of the vast and paramount importance of the great question which my hon. Friend has submitted to us.


said, that there was one advantage which the House had derived from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and that was it had got a rough draft of the Queen's Speech, not only for next Session, but for many Sessions to come. But the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would not derive much consolation from the right hon. Gentleman, for what he said came to this—that the Government could not help him at all, and that he ought to go on agitating and agitating so as to exercise pressure on some future Administration. For his own part, he (Colonel Makins) felt as much the necessity of doing something to put an end to the evils of intemperance as even the eloquent apostle of local option himself. But what he quarrelled with was the hon. Baronet's method of dealing with the evil. He was aware that it took some courage on the part of an hon. Member to say a word against the Motion, because he did so at the risk of being held up in the journal of the United Kingdom Alliance as the advocate of drunkenness and drunkards. Nevertheless, he would express his opinion that the natural result of the division of last year was that the hon. Baronet should have brought in a Bill embodying his views, and then the Government could have said at once whether they approved it or not. The hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. B. Samuelson) candidly admitted that he supported the Resolution because it was vague. For 12 years the hon. Member had listened to the hon. Baronet, and had not been able to support him; but now the Resolution was so vague he could do so. Hon. Members might, therefore, go back to their constituents and say that they had voted in favour of temperance; but they must see the Bill on the subject before they could say whether they should support it or not. The hon. Baronet had not exaggerated the evils of drunkenness; but he (Colonel Makins) might be allowed to remind him that public-houses were for the use of the public, and not of drunkards, and that for one drunken man who went to a public-house there were 50 sober ones who made a proper use of it. His Motion, therefore, should be directed rather against the drunkards who made a bad use of those places than against the sober ones who did not. It should be used against those who were guilty of intemperance, and not against those who only used their natural right to go to the public-house for their accommodation. The hon. Baronet said that all the crime, lunacy, and poverty of this country arose from drink. Well, the statistics of intemperance in France compared favourably with those of this country; but he did not know that the statistics of crime in France compared so favourably. [Cries of "Divide!] As the House appeared to be impatient for a division, he would only add that, feeling as strongly as the hon. Baronet the evils of which he complained, he did not think the remedy he proposed was likely to be effective, while it would undoubtedly seriously interfere with the liberty of the subject.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 196; Noes 154: Majority 42.

Agar-Robartes,hn.T.C. Davies, W.
Agnew, W. De Ferrieres, Baron
Ainsworth, D. Dilke. A. W.
Alexander, Colonel C. Dilke, Sir C. W.
Allen, H. G. Dillwyn, L. L.
Allen, W. S. Dodson, rt. hn. J. G.
Anderson, G. Duff, rt. hon. M. E. G.
Archdale, W. H. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Armitage, B. Edwards, H.
Arnold, A. Egerton, Adm. hon. F.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Elliot, hon. A. R. D.
Balfour, Sir G. Ewart, W.
Balfour, J. B. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Barran, J. Ferguson, R.
Birley, H. Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.
Blake, J. A. Firth, J. F. B.
Bolton, J. C. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Borlase, W. C. Fitzwilliam, hon. C.
Brand, H. R. W. W.
Brassey, H. A. Foljambe, C. G. S.
Briggs, W. E. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Fort, R
Bright, rt. hon. J. Fowler, H. H.
Broadhurst, H. Fowler, W.
Brown, A. H. Fry, L.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Fry, T.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Gladstone, H. J.
Bryce, J. Gordon, Sir A.
Buxton, F. W. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Caine, W. S. Gourley, E. T.
Cameron, C. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Campbell, Lord C. Grafton, F. W.
Campbell, Sir G. Grant, A.
Campbell, R. F. F. Greer, T.
Campbell - Bannerman, Grey, A. H. G.
H. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Carbutt, E. H. Hastings, G. W.
Chambers, Sir T. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Cheetham, J. F. Healy, T. M.
Chitty, J. W. Henderson, F.
Clarke, J. C. Heneage, E.
Clifford, C. C. Herschell, Sir F.
Cohen, A. Hibbert, J. T.
Collings, J. Hill, Lord A. W.
Colman, J. J. Hollond, J. R.
Corry, J. P. Holms, J.
Cowan, J. Howard, E. S.
Cowpor, hon. H. F. Howard, G. J.
Cropper, J. Illingworth, A.
Cross, J. K. James, C.
Crum, A. James, W. H.
Cunliife, Sir R. A. Jenkins, D. J.
Currie, D. Kinnear, J.
Dalrymple, C. Labouchere, H.
Davies, D. Laing, S.
Lalor, R. Richardson, J. N.
Law, rt. hon. H. Richardson, T.
Laycock, R. Roberts, J.
Lea, T. Rogers, J. E. T.
Leake, R. Ross, C. C.
Leatham, E. A. Russell, Lord A.
Leatham, W. H. Rylands, P.
Leeman, J. J. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S. St. Aubyn, W. M.
Litton, E. F. Samuelson, B.
Lloyd, M. Samuelson, H.
Lusk, Sir A. Seely, G. (Nottingham)
Mackie, R. B. Shield, H.
Mackintosh, C. F. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Macliver, P. S. Slagg, J.
M'Arthur, A. Smith, E.
M-Arthur, W. Stafford, Marquess of
M'Lagan, P. Stanton, W. J.
M'Laren, J. Stewart, J.
M'Minnies, J. G. Storey, S.
Mappin, F. T. Sullivan A. M.
Mason, H. Summers, W.
Massey, rt. hon. W. N. Tavistock, Marquess of
Meldon, C. H. Tennant, C.
Morgan, rt. hn. G. O. Thomasson, J. P.
Morley, A. Thompson, T. C.
Morley, S. Tracy, hon. F. S. A.
Mundella,rt. hon. A. J. Hanbury-
Noel, E. Trevolyan, G. O.
O'Beirne, Major F. Wallace, Sir R.
O'Connor, A. Waugh, E.
Palmer, G. Webster, J.
Palmor, J. H. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Parker, C. S. Whalley, G. H.
Peddie, J. D. Whitworth, B.
Pennington, F. Williams, B. T.
Philips, R. N. Williams, S. C. E.
Playfair, rt. hon. L. Williamson, S.
Potter, T. B. Wilson, C. H.
Price, Sir R. G. Wilson, I.
Pugh, L. P. Wilson, Sir M.
Ralli, P. Wodehouse, E. R.
Ramsay, J.
Ramsden, Sir J. TELLERS.
Redmond, J. E. Burt, T.
Rendel, S. Lawson, Sir W.
Richard, H.
Amherst, W. A. T. Burrell, Sir W. W.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Buxton, Sir R. J.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Callan, P.
Bass, A. Cavendish, Lord F. C.
Bass, H. Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.
Bass, M. T. Clarke, E.
Bateson, Sir T. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Beach, W. W. B. Cobbold, T. C.
Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C. Coddington, W.
Biddell, W. Collins, E.
Birkbeck, E. Collins, T.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Commins, A.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Compton, F.
Boord, T. W. Cotton, W. J. R.
Bourke, rt. hon. R. Courtauld, G.
Brise, Colonel R. Crichton, Viscount
Broadley, W. H. H. Davenport, H. T.
Brodrick, hon. St. J. Davenport, W. B.
Brooks, M. Dawnay, Col. hn. L. P.
Brooks, W. C. De Worms, Baron H.
Bruce, hon. T. Dickson, Major A. G.
Burghley, Lord Digby, Col. hon. E.
Burnaby, General E. S. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Donaldson-Hudson, C. M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Douglas, A. Akers- Makins, Colonel W. T.
Dyke,rt. hn. Sir W.H. Master, T. W. C.
Ecroyd, W. F. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Elcho, Lord Miles, Sir P. J. W.
Emlyn, Viscount Morgan, hon. F.
Estcourt, G. S. Moss, R.
Ewing, A. O. Murray, C. J.
Fawcett, rt. hon. H. Newdegate, C. N.
Feilden,Major- General Nicholson, W.
R. J. Nicholson, W. N.
Fellowes, W. H. Nolan, Major J. P.
Fenwick-Bisset, M. Northcote, H. S.
Filmer, Sir E. O'Brien, Sir P.
Finch, G. H. Onslow, D.
Fletcher, Sir H. Paget, R. H.
Floyer, J. Percy, Earl
Foster, W. H. Phipps, C. N. P.
Fowler, R. N. Phipps, P.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Powell, W.
Galway, Viscount Price, Captain G. E.
Gamier, J. C. Puleston, J. H.
Gladstone, rt. hn.W.E. Pulley, J.
Goldney, Sir G. Rankin, J.
Gorst, J. E. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Grantham, W. Ritchie, C. T.
Greene, E. Ross, A. H.
Gregory, G. B. Rothschild.SirN. M. de
Grosvenor, Lord R. Schreiher, C.
Hamilton, right hon. Sclater-Booth, rt.hn. G.
Lord G. Scott, Lord H.
Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Scott, M. D.
Sir J. C. D. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Hicks, E. Shaw, W.
Hill, A. S. Smith, A.
Holland, Sir H. T. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Hope,rt hn.A.J.B.B. Smyth, P. J.
Jackson, W. L. Talbot, J. G.
Johnson, W. M. Thornhill, T.
Kennard, Col. E. H. Tollemache, H. J.
Kingscote, Col. R. N. F. Tollemache.hon.W. F.
Knight, F. W. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Knightley, Sir R. Tottenham, A. L.
Lawrence, Sir T. Walpole, rt. hon. S.
Leamy, E. Warburton, P. E.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Warton, C. N.
Lee, Major V. Whitloy, E.
Leigh, hon. G. H. C. Wiggin, H.
Leighton, S. Wilmot, Sir H.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Levett, T. J. Wortley, G. B. Stuart-
Lewisham, Viscount Wroughton, P.
Lindsay, Sir R. L. Yorke, J. R.
Long, W. H.
Lowther, hon. W. TELLEHS.
Lyons, R. D. Aylmer, Capt. J. E. F
Macartney, J. W. E. Daly, J.
Mac Iver, D.
Back to