§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. ROBERTS
Sir, in moving the second reading of this Bill, I must remind the House that a similar measure passed a second reading last Session; 1749 but its further progress was blocked by the application of the half-past 12 o'clock Rule. I do not think it necessary to enter upon the general question of the propriety of Sunday closing, because this House has already declared in favour of that question upon the Resolution of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson), and the preceding Parliament to this acted in a similar manner with respect to Ireland. Beyond that, an earnest and almost universal desire has been manifested for Sunday closing in Wales. I do not propose to enter into any details on the present occasion; but I will merely summarize the position in which the supporters of the present Bill stand. First of all, with regard to the Petitions. Petitions in favour of the Bill were presented last year signed by more than 250,000 people. The exact number was 267,000, or rather more than one-third of the entire adult population of Wales, being a larger proportion of the inhabitants of any considerable district than ever before petitioned this Assembly in favour of any measure. It has not been thought necessary by the friends of the movement to repeat these Petitions this year; but in response to Circulars issued from North and South Wales, addressed to the representative bodies of the Principality—the Town Councils, Local Boards, School Boards, Boards of Guardians, and religious associations—Petitions have come in very freely. About 250 have already been recorded upon the Books of the House; and I may say, with regard to the views of public bodies, that there were very few instances in which the persons addressed did not respond to the appeal made to them. Even those public bodies which did not send a favourable Petition, explained that it was not from any feeling of hostility to the measure itself, but because it was considered undesirable to introduce at the Board meetings matters that were foreign to its functions. In 1879–80 there was a complete canvass of the whole of North Wales, and though no Returns were obtained from 44 parishes, about four-fifths of the whole number of ratepayers of North Wales voted. Out of 78,435 votes, 75,510 were in favour of Sunday closing, 989 were against it, and 1,936 remained neutral; or, in other words, 76 to 1 were in favour of closing. These Returns have been tabulated, 1750 printed, and circulated, giving the respective numbers in the several Unions, towns, and villages, and I do not know that their accuracy has been challenged. I notice amongst the towns that there were in Llanrwst 661 against 1 in favour of Sunday closing; and in Wrexham, a town which is supposed to be very much in the interests of the brewers, the number was 1,161 against 119. In Llanrwst the dissentient was a publican; but I may add that there are 14 publicans in Llanrwst, and of these 12 were in favour of Sunday closing, 1 was neutral, and only 1 against. The opinion of the entire body of publicans in Wales is strongly in favour of the Bill. It appears that out of 1,173 who voted, 792 were in favour, and only 152 against, while 229 declared themselves neutral; so that five-sixths of the publicans of Wales are themselves in favour of this measure. In some districts, the feeling among the publicans was very general. In the Union of Pwllheli, 96 were in favour of Sunday closing and only 1 against. I have presented a Petition signed by 23 publicans of the town of Carnarvon in favour of the Bill; and the resolution of the Local Board of Holyhead in its favour was moved by Mr. Riva, and seconded by Mr. Roberts, both of whom are licensed victuallers. In all these instances there was no attempt to manufacture Petitions. The motive for manufacturing Petitions was absolutely wanting, because all the work of canvassing was carried on by the expenditure of very little money—there being no elaborate organization—and without the employment even of one paid official. And what is the opinion of the Members for Wales on the subject? To that test I can appeal with the greatest confidence. The Welsh Members are 30; and of the 28 who sit on this side of the House, all, without a single exception, are in favour of this Bill. Of the Conservatives, we have the support of at least one-half of them. I could wish that for this purpose, and this only, that half had been a greater number; but I am glad to know that the Bill is supported by the hon. Baronet who represents the Conservatives of North Wales (Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn). I should have been glad also if it received the support of the noble Viscount who represents the Conservatives of South Wales (Viscount 1751 Emlyn), to whom we are much indebted in regard to the question of education. I do not know the ground of the noble Viscount's objection to this Bill. I see, however, that he has not repeated his Notice of opposition on the present occasion; and I hope either that he has changed his mind, or, if not, that he may feel it consistent with his duty to support the feelings and wishes of his constituents. And now I come to another point. The late Government afforded facilities to the Irish Members for the passing of the Irish Bill into law. In that case, the proportion of hon. Members who supported the Bill was something like 3 to 1; but in this instance it is 29 to 1. Then, let me appeal to the House, and especially to the Government, to help the Welsh Members in passing this Bill into law during the present Session. In the debate of last year my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick (Mr. A. Peel), who spoke on behalf of the Government, said he could not resist the strong feeling shown by the Welsh Members on the subject. And the noble Marquess who then led the House (the Marquess of Hartington), in the absence of the Prime Minister, and who has been himself a Welsh Member, stated that although he could not give us facilities then, it was nevertheless the hope and desire of the Government to give to the Welsh Members this Session the same facilities for carrying their Bill that the late Government afforded to the Irish Members. I can assure the Government that we shall lose no opportunity in pressing forward the measure ourselves; but if we are unable to do so, we shall with confidence ask the Government to redeem their pledge. Legislation for England upon the subject must take place sooner or later; and whenever it does take place, it must be of advantage to the Government to have the experience of the working of this measure in Wales. In the case of Ireland, certain large towns were exempted from the operation of the Bill. In Wales there are populous places also, such as Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr Tydvil, and Aberdare; but, instead of wanting to be exempted from the operation of the Bill, they demand to be included within it. I have received a communication from the Mayor of Swansea, stating that at a meeting recently held in that town, 1752 resolutions in favour of the Bill were unanimously adopted. The same course has been pursued in Cardiff and in other large towns. I would venture to suggest that upon such a question as this we, the Welsh Members, have some claim to be heard, and to have our wishes attended to. We are not in the habit of taking up much of the time of the House. We do not bore the House with long and frequent speeches on any question. We do not want much from Parliament. We only ask the House to give us a little help towards higher education in Wales, and to pass this little Bill. I use the word "little," because it is of small importance compared with many of the subjects that have occupied the attention of the House; but I can assure the House that it is very near and dear to the people of Wales, and that they consider it of the utmost importance to their country. The passing of the Bill, I may repeat, will give great satisfaction to the people of Wales; it will secure a much-needed day's rest to the publicans and those whom they employ, and will tend to check drunkenness and promote peace and order on the Sabbath Day. I beg now to move the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Roberts.)
§ MR. WARTON,
who had on the Notice Paper an Amendment to the effect that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, but which he did not move, said, they had heard few arguments that day in favour of the Bill which were not brought forward last Session. There might be pointed out one exception—namely, that the Prime Minister had been a Welsh Member. [Cries of "No, no!" and a "Welshman!"] He certainly understood the hon. Member (Mr. Roberts) to allude to Mr. Gladstone as a Welsh Member. [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, the Prime Minister had been an English Member, a Scotch Member, a Borough Member, a University Member, and a County Member; but he had to quit every county constituency he ever represented. [Loud cries of "Question!"] The question was this, Why were they to have this Departmental legislation? Why should they have one Sunday Closing Bill for Ireland, and another 1753 Sunday Closing Bill for Wales, whose population, after all, only formed a small section of the community, but who, following the example of the Irish, fancied themselves a nation, and quite as famous as Ireland, while in point of fact, the Principality was only a small part of England? Wales, certainly, had not produced great men like Ireland, if, indeed, he excepted the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, the Judge Advocate General. Why, then, were the Welsh people to have separate legislation? Who were the Welsh Members? The hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill had quoted statistics to show that the people of Wales wanted the Bill to be passed. That hon. Gentleman proved too much. If the overwhelming feeling of the people of Wales and the publicans of Wales were favourable to Sunday closing—if the Welsh people would not drink, and the Welsh publicans would not sell—how was it that the public-houses stood prosperous as they were at present? How came it to pass that these drinking-places existed in the Principality? If these Welsh publicans were so much in favour of Sunday closing, why did they not take out six-day licences? But there was another consideration to be remembered. They all knew that Wales possessed most beautiful scenery, which attracted large numbers of tourists, for whose sakes he (Mr. Warton) asked that the public-houses should be open on Sundays. By closing them, they would be cheating the tourist; whilst if they remained open for the tourist, the Welsh people need not drink. The whole thing was supremely ridiculous, and the attempt to legislate separately for a section of the country was a dangerous principle. He loved Wales too well to allow it to be separated from England; but the Welsh people, unfortunately, did not seem to be conscious of the dignity of their union with this country.
§ MR. RATHBONE
The hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton), who has just addressed the House, has converted the entire opposition to the Bill into a joke; and, if I may be allowed to say so, a mistake. The hon. and learned Member began by asserting that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is a Welsh Member—[Laughter.]—
§ MR. RATHBONE
The hon. and learned Member has also alluded to my connection with Liverpool; but he does not seem to be aware that Liverpool contains a very large and important Welsh population. The hon. and learned Member, having made a number of jokes, and perpetrated a series of mistakes, ended by telling the House that he opposes the Bill because he "loves the people of Wales too well;" but he certainly should have said, "Not wisely, if too well." But, although the hon. and learned Member for Bridport may be inclined to treat the question as a joke, I can assure him that it is not regarded in the same light by the Welsh people. It will only be necessary for me to detain the House for a very few minutes, particularly after the able speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. Roberts), who moved the second reading, which has left the question perfectly unanswerable. In such a case as the present, when we find the country so entirely unanimous in support of the measure as Wales has been ascertained to be; when we have the experience of two other large parts of Her Majesty's Dominions—Scotland and Ireland—that legislation in favour of Sunday closing has been eminently successful; and when we see that every argument which led the House to adopt the measures for Scotland and Ireland applies with still greater force and is still more unanswerable in the case of Wales, and that there are fewer difficulties and dangers to encounter, surely we have made out an unassailable case for granting to Wales the boon we now ask for. The hon. and learned Member for Bridport speaks of "departmental legislation." That matter has been answered conclusively by what has been done in the case of Scotland and Ireland; and I defy the hon. and learned Member to find a single Scotch Member, after the long experience they have had of the working of the Forbes Mackenzie Act, who would vote for reversing that legislation. As my hon. Friend (Mr. Roberts) told the House last year, 99½ per cent of the householders of the county I represent (Carnarvon) petitioned in favour of this measure; and in Carnarvon 23 licensed victuallers supported it, whilst only three were against it. The 1755 hon. and learned Member for Bridport asks why, if all the people are in favour of Sunday closing, they cannot carry it out without a Bill? The hon. and learned Member is a lawyer—[Mr. WARTON: No, no!]—I certainly understood that he was. I can only add that I do not look upon him as a man of business; because if he were, he would know that these 23 licensed victuallers who support the Bill are compelled to keep their houses open on a Sunday from the fear that they would otherwise drive their customers away to other places. If all the houses were compulsorily closed, there would be no difficulty of that kind. Last year, we had an overwhelming number of Petitions from different individuals in Wales, who came forward spontaneously from all parts of the Principality. But this year, Welshmen have shown their usual wisdom in asking their Representatives to speak for them from the Boards of Guardians, Town Councils, Local Boards, School Boards, and Petitions have accordingly been presented from persons representing every form of local government, and confirming the views of the general body of the people. It is evident, then, that those to whom the people of Wales look as their leaders and best advisers quite agree with the bulk of the inhabitants that the measure should be passed. Well then, Sir, what we ask is, why should the boon which has been granted to Scotland and Ireland, and which has been successful in both of those countries, be denied to Wales? Hon. Members have mentioned the long experience which Scotland has had in favour of Sunday closing. In Ireland the experience of Sunday closing has been of shorter duration; but it is even more strongly conclusive in the matter. We have the evidence of the Lord Chief Justice that in Ireland the Act has had a most beneficial effect, and he has repeatedly pointed out that drunkenness has been considerably diminished throughout the country. This testimony has been confirmed by that of the Lord Chief Baron, Mr. Justice Dowse, the Crown Solicitor, the County Court Judges, by the clergy, Catholic as well as Protestant, and, in one sense more conclusively than all, by the head constables of the police throughout the country. The statistical Returns are most curious, because they not only show a great diminution in the consumption of spirits, 1756 and an enormous reduction in the number of offences committed under the influence of intoxication, but that this state of things is more marked in the districts which have suffered least from the recent distress, and where it cannot be said that the people have not had money to spend on drink. The only argument that has ever been used which has been conclusive with me is this—I required to be satisfied, before I ever voted for a Bill for Sunday closing, that the opinion of the country was so conclusive upon the matter that there was no danger of a law being made only to be broken. But we have now the evidence both of Scotland and of Ireland. There has been no difficulty whatever in enforcing the law; and it has been much less broken under the new law than it was under the old. I have said that in Wales there have been fewer difficulties on this subject and more advantages. The House knows very well there is no part of Her Majesty's Dominions—I believe there is no part of the world—in which religion has such an abiding and powerful influence over the habits and life of the people as in Wales. That being so, it is clear that you will have the whole force of the feeling, as well as of the opinion, of the Welsh people in support of the law. Independently of the religious sanction which the feeling of the Welsh people gives to the law, there is no part of the Kingdom where the law is more unhesitatingly obeyed than in Wales, or, at any rate, where there is less evidence against it. If any hon. Member doubts that assertion, he has only to read the seventh of the admirable letters of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard) on the social and political condition of the Principality. He will there find it plainly stated. What I now ask the House is this. The case is so clear and so unanswerable, that I feel I should be trespassing unfairly on the time of the House if I were to attempt to argue it further. All I ask is that you should give to Wales what you have already given to Scotland and Ireland. It has been shown that in both of those countries the law has been entirely successful and satisfactory to the people. We know, still further, that every argument that was urged when the Scotch and Irish Bills were before the House may be urged even more strongly in the case of Wales, and that it is impossible 1757 to have a more conclusive case than that which has been made out on behalf of Wales.
§ MR. CARBUTT,
in supporting the second reading, expressed a wish that it might at no remote date be extended to England. In Monmouthshire, part of which he represented, and which was divided only by a scientific frontier from Wales, of which it ought, in reality, to form part, the feeling in favour of Sunday closing was very strong—so strong, in fact, that he might say in some respects his election mainly turned upon it. He had been requested to try to get their county included in the operations of the Bill; and, if it were possible, he would certainly try to effect that object for the county which was so largely Welsh.
§ MR. DALY
said, it was undeniable that the great preponderance of opinion in Wales was in favour of the Bill, and that a great number of public bodies were in favour of it; but, if the principle be admitted for Wales, it was clearly right that it should be admitted for Ireland. As large a preponderance of Irish bodies and institutions, in the shape of Poor Law Boards and others, and as large a proportion of the population, were in favour of Home Rule for Ireland; but yet the Welsh Members invariably, when the topic came up for discussion, continually voted against it. He (Mr. Daly) adduced that argument simply to show that if the Welsh Members disregarded the opinions and feelings of the people of Ireland, when the Welsh Members brought forward an exactly similar argument, it was right that they should be so disregarded by the Irish Members. He considered that the principle of such a Bill was dangerous; and it was a fatal and dangerous principle to allow the wishes of the majority to exercise a tyrannical influence over the minority. There was a great difference between getting drunk, and the reasonable and rational use of drink. And if there were publicans who desired to close on Sunday, why did they not take out six-day licences; while, even if the public-houses were opened, if the people did not wish to use them, they could keep away? Neither the publicans, nor the customers, however great the preponderance of their opinion, had a right to override the feelings and wishes of the minority. During the last eight or 1758 ten days they had had serious and angry debates in the House about the abnegation of the Oath. Now, if the Welsh Members logically followed out their opinions, they could not vote for the abnegation here. He believed the majority of the people of the country were against it. He had no doubt that the Bill would pass; but he could not let it pass without recording his protest against such a dangerous precedent.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
supported the Bill, and reminded the previous speaker that Parliament had already yielded to the wish of Ireland to carry out the very alterations in the law which was now asked for by the Welsh people, and supported by every Welsh Member. That the feeling in favour of the closing of public-houses was universal in Wales was beyond all doubt. It was universal not only amongst the people of Welsh origin, but universal amongst people of English and Irish origin who were now inhabitants of Wales. The feeling was as strong at Cardiff as it was at Holyhead; it was as strong in the county of Monmouth as it was on the Welsh side of the border. Even the great majority of the publicans in Wales were favourable to the Bill, and the only opposition to the measure came from the English publicans, under the leadership of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton). That hon. and learned Member said they could not have separate legislation for Wales distinct from England on this question. But had he forgotten that they had separate legislation already, not only for London and the Provinces, but between large towns and small towns, and towns and rural districts? The principle was, therefore, admitted all over the Kingdom, and to apply it to Wales, so far as Sunday was concerned, was simply an application of the principle upon which present Acts were founded. It was further objected by the hon. and learned Member that if the Welsh publicans were in favour of the Bill they could take out six-day licences—and keep their houses closed without fresh legislation. But did not the hon. and learned Member know that one dissentient could make that impossible? The only other objection raised was that it was not to the advantage of tourists who went into Wales to enjoy the scenery to find the public-houses closed on Sundays. 1759 His answer to that was, in the first place, that when tourists went to Wales, they went there, not only to enjoy the scenery, but also in order to recruit their health; and he thought it would be a good thing for them if they were forced to abstain, at all events on one day out of seven, from all intoxicating drinks in the healthy and pure atmosphere of the mountains of Wales. Another answer was this, that tourists in Wales might enjoy themselves very much in the same way as those who went to the grouse moors in Scotland. If they could not abstain for one day, they might take a flask in their pocket, and they could further enjoy it with the fresh water from the brook. But there was still another answer. In the framing of the present Bill bonâ fide travellers were excluded, not in so many words, but in substance, because the principles of the Act now in operation were to apply to the Bill, and one of those principles was that during the time public-houses were now obliged to be closed on Sundays bonâ fide travellers were allowed refreshments. It would be the same if this Bill passed as it was framed at present, because that limitation would be introduced out of the Acts that were already in force. All the objections, therefore, that were made to this Bill came to nothing at all. One objection which had been made was that the Welsh Members had refused to support Home Rule. When it came to the question of Home Rule, then came the further question whether they should go with Ireland or with England. They would consider that question when it came. At present they were not in favour of Home Rule; but if it was shown that they would be so much better off for Home Rule in Wales, they were open to conviction. At present they remained unconvinced. In Wales they were content with their union with England, and at present were unwilling to let Ireland go. He thought they were entitled, as Welshmen, to have this Bill passed, because the Welsh Members were unanimous in their support of it, there not being a single Welsh Member present to object to it.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that having taken a great interest in the drink question for many years past, and having opposed Bills similar to that now before the House on former occasions, he desired to say a few words in reference to this 1760 measure. He thought that the Welsh were entitled to great credit for their general temperance. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) that the arguments for the Bill were the same as those for the Irish Sunday Closing Bill. In that case, a strong argument in favour of closing was that there was an immense amount of drinking and drunkenness on the Sunday; but, in the case of Wales, it was agreed that there was little or no drunkenness whatever on the Sunday. It amounted, therefore, to this—that the Bill must be regarded as a Sabbatarian and religious one; and, looking on the question from that point of view, he failed to see what argument there was, however religious a man might be, for precluding him from having a glass of beer on the Sunday. If the Bill were read a second time, Amendments would have to be introduced excepting the bonâ fide traveller and railway-station refreshment-rooms from its operation. It had been said that the Irish and Scotch Bills had done a great deal to diminish drinking; but his (Mr. Onslow's) experience was, that if the Scotch people were not allowed to drink on Sundays, they made up for it on other days; and he was quite sure that it was a greater inducement to people to drink more on other days when they were refused anything to drink on a particular day. He failed to see any necessity for a Bill of that kind, and he believed it to be a Bill merely on the lines of sentimental legislation; and if he could get anyone to join him he should certainly divide the House against the Bill.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
I am anxious to say a few words on this Bill before the discussion closes, not as representing the Government, but simply because my name was originally on the back of the measure, and because the constituency I represent feels a deep and keen interest in the matter. Now, the rejection of the measure has been moved by the hon. and learned Member for Bridport—[Mr. WARTON: No, no!]—at any rate, the hon. and learned Member opposed the measure in a speech in which it seemed to me that the chaff very largely preponderated over the wheat. But the hon. and learned Member is not a Welsh Representative, neither is the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow); nor do I know that either of them is 1761 specially charged with the duty of looking after the interests of the Welsh people. I see that the hon. and learned Member for Bridport, however, is perfectly impartial in his opposition to the principle of this measure, because, on looking down the Paper, I find that he has visited with the same condemnation the English Sunday Closing Bill of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. J. W. Pease). I therefore attribute his opposition to the Bill, not to any particular prejudice against the subject of this particular measure, but to the possession of that bump of destructiveness which induces him to oppose any measure promoted from this side of the House which has escaped the attention of more pacifically disposed Members. What is the main argument of the hon. and learned Member? It is that Wales is so completely merged in England, that it has no right to any political identity of its own; he says—"You have no right to legislate departmentally on any Imperial subject." But, as the hon. and learned Member for Beaumaris (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) pointed out, the hon. and learned Member forgets that we do legislate departmentally on this very subject; because, on this question of the hours of closing public-houses, we have made one law for London, another for large towns in the Provinces, and another for rural districts. The argument of the hon. and learned Member, therefore, breaks down at the very threshold; but I am quite prepared to meet him on a broader ground. I think it is time that people should understand that in dealing with Wales you are really dealing with an entirely distinct nationality; a nationality more distinct than that of the Scotch or Irish, because Wales is separated from England not merely by race and by geographical boundaries, but by a barrier which interposes at every turn of life, and than which there is no more dividing barrier which can separate one people from another—I mean the barrier of language. Knowing, as I do, how distinct Welsh opinion is on this subject from English opinion, I say you cannot legislate for the one in all respects as you do for the other, and to assume that you can seems like a piece of Constitutional pedantry. Public opinion on this subject in Wales is far more advanced than it is in England—at least, I should call it so. The whole social and moral 1762 and religious atmosphere of the country is quite different from that of England, and I am only repeating the language of every Judge who has ever been on the Welsh Circuit when I say that crime is almost unknown; if hon. Members opposite will forgive me for the expression, I will say it is almost as unknown there as Conservatism. An hon. Member said the other day that the Welsh were a set of ignorant barbarians compared with the English; and in reply to that, all I can say is that I wish Her Majesty had a few more of such "ignorant, barbarian" subjects, for I would sooner have a sober barbarian than a civilized sot. The people of Wales are practically unanimous on this question. The argument against the adoption of Sunday closing in England, of which I have always felt the force, is that it does not do to legislate on these matters touching the licensing question ahead of public opinion. As the hon. Member behind me (Mr. Rathbone) has observed, it is no use passing a law which is sure to be broken. I have always felt great force in that argument. It was admitted, when the Irish Sunday Closing Bill was brought forward, that the strongest argument in favour of it was that a preponderating majority of the people of Ireland wanted it. Well, what was the majority of the people of Ireland that desired it? I think it was something like three or four to one. But in the case of this Welsh Bill, the people of the country in favour of it are in the proportion of 30 to 1, so that you have not only a preponderating majority, but an absolutely overwhelming one. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Warton) turns this fact against us, and says—"If you can show that the whole of Wales is in favour of Sunday closing, it follows that no one will want to go to the public-house on Sunday. And he asks, why should you pass legislation to prevent the Welsh people from doing that which they do not want?" I grant that that is a specious argument; but it will not hold water. The hon. and learned Member knows that the competition of the publicans is so keen that if 1 out of 10 keeps open on Sunday, all the others will be obliged do the same. As a matter of fact, the thing was tried in one of the principal towns in my constituency. All the publicans, with the 1763 exception of one or two, agreed to take out a six-day licence. On account of the action of the publicans who refused to close on the Sunday, the majority found themselves unable to carry out their own wishes. They really wished to be protected against themselves, and perhaps this accounts for the peculiar fact that in Wales a considerable support of this measure comes from the publicans themselves; they are the persons who are urging you, as far as you can, to pass this Bill. The appeal which has been made by the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), I will not say on behalf of England, against this Bill, is entirely unsupported from Wales. It is well known what the result of the Irish Bill has been; Judges, magistrates, police constables, ministers of all denominations—Protestants, Catholics, and Presbyterians—all unite in saying that the passing of that Act has been of great benefit to Ireland. At any rate, I think if there were not a good deal of reason for the passing of this measure, you would not find such a universal consensus of public opinion in favour of it. People, as a general rule, are not so unanimous in favour of a Bill that is not wanted. Welshmen see the good that will ensue if the present Bill is passed; they say you have passed a similar Bill for Ireland and Scotland, why not mete out the same measure of justice to us? And I must say, before sitting down, that it seems to me this Sunday question is in a very abnormal and strange position. You do not allow by your laws any place of recreation or instruction, however harmless, to be opened for one single hour on Sunday, and yet you will allow, at the corner of every street, a gin-palace to open its door and invite people to enter; you will not allow the fountain of knowledge to play for one moment on Sunday; but you allow the fountains of beer to play from noon until night. A French humourist has said that in England the only two places of public resort open on the Sunday are the church and the gin-palace; and he added, somewhat cynically, that he thought the devil drove the better trade of the two. In conclusion, I ask the House not to be influenced in coming to a decision on this subject by hon. Gentlemen who can know nothing and do know nothing of the merits of the 1764 case. I ask you to give the people of Wales a boon which is demanded by nearly the whole of the inhabitants, and which is supported by almost every single Welsh Member in the House.
§ MR. C. H. JAMES
said, the feelings of the constituencies in North Wales had so far been spoken to by Representatives from that part of the Principality; but, as representing a large borough in South Wales, he wished to say the feeling in favour of the Bill was unanimous in Wales, and the proper observance of Sunday was a thing which ought to be fostered and not discouraged. The Welsh people filled the chapels, and, in many instances, the churches, on Sundays, whilst their gaols were half empty. Of that they had reason to be proud, and it was because they desired to extend the general observance of the day that they wished the Bill to become law. As to the refreshment-room question, the local railways were not used on Sundays, and the feeling was decidedly against Sunday travelling. That being so, the refreshment-rooms need not trouble any hon. Member. He should not say much more, for the subject seemed thrashed out. Nine-tenths of his constituents were, so to speak, hot that the Bill should pass; and he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would not stand in the way of the Welsh people getting what they wanted. They wanted to take away the temptation from the working people on Sunday; and as to the bonâ fide traveller, he was carefully provided for by a special clause in the Bill.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he felt bound to oppose the Bill, not because it was a Welsh Bill, but because it was class legislation of the worst kind. The hon. Member who moved the second reading (Mr. Roberts) spoke of the Petitions which had been presented in favour of it; but he (Mr. O'Sullivan) wished to remind the House that little reliance could be placed on Petitions. In the case of the Irish Sunday Closing Act many Petitions were presented; but, on examining them, it was found they were signed by persons who never used the public-houses, and who would not suffer any inconvenience if public-houses were closed on every day in the week. He had the suspicion that this would be found to be the case in the present instance. If the hon. Gentlemen who were promoting the Bill would consent 1765 to the opening of the public-houses in Wales for two hours on the Sunday—say from 2 o'clock to 4—he would withdraw his opposition to the Bill. It was unfair that even for one day of the week the only refreshment houses for the working classes should be closed. It was stated that all the people were in favour of the measure; but they must not forget that this was a working man's question. It was not a publican's question or a Member's question; and it was well known that the working classes in Wales, having no votes, had no influence in that House. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, the interest of hon. Members was sentimental and not practical. This was a Bill which affected the working classes, and it was very wrong that public-houses should be closed altogether one day in the week. He doubted whether, when the franchise was extended to the working classes in the country, a Sunday Closing Bill would pass in a hurry for either England, Wales, Ireland, or Scotland. It was absurd to say the publicans were anxious for the Bill, because if they did not wish to open on Sunday they could get a six-day licence. He should vote againt the Bill.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, that as one who took an active part in passing the Sunday Closing Bill in Ireland, and who, made every effort to enlist public opinion outside the House in favour of the movement, he hoped he might be permitted to say a few words in support of the measure, and to point out what he considered the very great advantages which had resulted from Sunday closing in Ireland. His hon. Friends the Members for Cork City (Mr. Daly) and Limerick County (Mr. O'Sullivan) had spoken against the measure. He believed that both those hon. Gentlemen were thoroughly candid, and, if appealed to in that House, he expected, notwithstanding their opposition to interference with the liquor traffic, would say that Sunday closing in Ireland had been productive of the most beneficial results. He was glad that the hon. Gentlemen did not dissent. [Mr. DALY dissented.] No; he was mistaken. He saw the hon. Member for Cork City dissented; he trusted before he had done to make a convert of the hon. Gentleman, for he would state some figures which he was sure his hon. Friend would candidly accept as accurate, and, if he 1766 did so, he could not deny the benefits of Sunday closing. His hon. Friend represented a city that was the most distinguished in Ireland for the manufacture and consumption of whisky; and it was only just to say that Cork whisky was the best in Ireland. Some time ago, he (Mr. Blake) visited the Island of Innisthraul, off the coast of Donegal, in an official capacity. On inquiring from a policeman as to how they occupied themselves in so sterile a spot, he informed him that the people there spent half their time in making whisky and the other half in drinking it. He did not know whether that could be said of Cork; but it was a fact that the most extensive manufacture in Cork was that of whisky; and, by the Return he had in his hand, it seemed to be increasing largely in consumption in that city also, and so the increase of drunkenness was, too, judging by the police Returns of arrests, which were tremendous. Those Returns showed that in 1878 in Cork City the number of arrests for drunkenness was 3,790, and in 1879, 4,508, showing an increase of 768. Drinking appeared to be increasing in the city of Cork from a date previous to 1878. It seemed difficult to account for that unless the Report of the Association for the Prevention of Intemperance truly stated—"From being the Mecca of temperance, Cork has passed to be one of the strongholds of the drink party. "That was, indeed, a sad change for a city which was the scene of the first and greatest efforts of the Apostle of Temperance (Father Mathew). No voice was raised in this House to sustain a cause in which Cork, in better days, took the foremost place. The reduction in the amount realized by the sale of drink since the Sunday Closing Bill was passed, comparing 1878 with 1879, was £1,576,634, the latter being the first entire year after the passing of the Act. The spirits for home consumption were less in the first three months of 1880, as compared with the first three months of 1879, by 500,000 gallons, and the consumption of beer was less by a much greater amount. The arrests for drunkenness in Ireland were nearly 9,000 less in 1879, as compared with 1878; the arrests for drunkenness on Sundays in 1878 numbered 107,723, and in 1879 they were only 99,021, which represented a reduction of as much as 8,702 as compared with 1767 the previous year. The late hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Redmond), who took a deep interest in the temperance cause in Ireland, and whose son, he (Mr. Blake) was glad to say, was following in his father's footsteps, moved for a Return showing the effect of the seven and the five hours' sale in the exempted cities in Ireland. In 1877 and 1878, in the five cities exempted from the Act, there were 2,820 arrests, and then the seven hours' sale on the Sunday was in operation; but in the same cities, when the five hours' sale was in operation, the arrests numbered 2,132, showing a reduction of 25 per cent. When the Sunday Closing Bill was introduced, the most evil effects were prognosticated. It was said there would be riots and disorder all over Ireland the moment the key was turned on the publican's lock. Everyone knew what attempts were made to frighten Parliament in this way. This prediction proved to be utterly groundless. Sunday closing had not been responsible for a single breach of the peace. On the contrary, Judge after Judge at the Assizes, and in the minor Courts in Ireland, referred to its beneficial effects, and attributed the decrease in assaults and other descriptions of offences to Sunday closing. Five cities in Ireland were exempted from the Act. One of these cities—Waterford—he (Mr. Blake) formerly represented, and it was one of the proudest circumstances of his life that he fought the public-house interest in that city and defeated it, taking his stand on Sunday closing and the Permissive Bill. For the bonâ fide travellers' clause he could speak from experience, because he happened to be the head landlord of two public-houses which, he was sorry to say, were doing what was called a roaring trade with bonâ fide travellers. The houses were situated six miles from Waterford, and, under the law, they were able to give drink to bonâ fide travellers. Bonâ fide travelling consisted in travelling from Waterford to the place where they could get drink if they pleased and returning. He was like some other landlords in Ireland, unable to get any rent, although they were doing a good business. He hoped, however, to get possession of the houses by law, and to convert them into coffee palaces. Drink was the greatest curse of Ireland, and it was a blessing to his country to close the public-houses for 1768 even one day in the week. He hoped they would eventually be closed for seven days in the week, and then the advantages arising from closing would be seven-fold. His hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) had spoken of this as class legislation, and had characterized the closing of the only resort of the majority of the population as a coercive measure. It was, so far as a class required it. He (Mr. Blake) was lately in America, where there were as many as 16,000,000 of Irish blood. He was sorry to say that many of his countrymen in America were just as distinguished for drinking as many of the Irish were at home; and more than one Bishop in America told him that drinking was one of the leading causes against the progress of the Irish in America. Some of them had said that if the Irish could only be temperate they could rule America. In the several districts of America where local option was in operation, the Irish formed a very important portion of the inhabitants. He had had opportunities of speaking to hundreds of them; and after prohibition took place they became amongst the most thriving and respectable citizens in America. What occurred in the North-West Territory of British Canada? It was about the coldest place in the world, for it was 55 degrees below zero; at certain times actually 5 degrees below the Arctic Regions. Drunkenness was predominant there at one time—the settlers drank, the Hudson's Bay hunters and agents drank, and the half-castes and Red Indians drank. In order to protect themselves against themselves, they passed a Prohibitory Bill, and the consequence was that drink was entirely precluded from the whole of the North-West Territory. Some medical men argued that, in so cold a region in winter, some drink was necessary. Local option had been some years in operation, and physicians told him that on no account would they recommend a re-introduction of drink; and that, save in very rare instances, had they ordered even wine for their patients. The people of Manitoba had petitioned to be joined to the North-West Territory; but the latter would not consent, unless Manitoba also gave up drink, which it was about to do. So much for the necessity of drink in cold countries. What occurred when drink was used under damp circum- 1769 stances? Sir John Coode, when making the breakwater at Portland, had to employ some hundreds of men, and a great portion of the skilled artizans had to work under water. One-half of them were moderate drinkers. He induced some hundreds of them to become teetotallers; and his experience, which extended over several years, was that total abstainers, in point of endurance and health, far excelled even the moderate drinkers. He cordially congratulated the Members for Wales upon their unanimity in this matter, and especially on their having no exemption in the Bill as regarded particular towns. No matter what might be said to the contrary, if the figures which had been given to the House were true, he challenged his hon. Friends to say that the passing of the Bill for Ireland had not been productive of enormous advantages. When Ireland was temperate in other years it was the brightest period of her history; and with a return of drunkenness the greatest misfortunes had followed. It had been urged before, and probably would be urged again, that one of the reasons why drunkenness had so considerably decreased in Ireland within the last two years was on account of the distress—that the people were not placed in as favourable circumstances for getting drink as they were formerly. But the facts of the case did not bear out that view. Great distress existed in 1879; butin the most distressed districts the decrease of drunkenness was least. Where there was little distress the people were the most temperate. Where the greatest distress occurred in Ireland, there had not only been the greatest amount of drunkenness, but also the largest number of outrages, and his theory upon the matter was that the unfortunate people who perpetrated them before they did so often got drunk. In 1848, when the distress was greater in Ireland than had ever been the case either before or since, the same thing occurred; the consumption of drink increased where the distress was heaviest, and in the districts where drunkenness increased the largest number of outrages were committed. He was happy to see that there was every prospect of the passing of the present Bill. If it did not, it would certainly be a very great reproach to the House. He could not understand why they should hesitate 1770 to pass for Wales what had proved to be so highly beneficial for Scotland and Ireland. Seeing that there was such an amount of unanimity among the Welsh Members, and that they were supported by the strong feeling of their constituents, he trusted that the present measure would prove to be only the forerunner of total closing in Wales, and which he hoped, for the sake of the morality, happiness, and progress of the people, would soon be the case in the whole of the Three Kingdoms.
§ DR. KINNEAR
, in supporting the Bill, said, that the tabulated results showed that during the past two years there had been a marked reduction in the consumption of intoxicating liquor in Ireland amounting to close upon £2,000,000. During that time there had been a decrease in the drunken arrests amounting to close upon 20,000. There had also been a reduction in the number of Sunday arrests for drunkenness amounting to 70 per cent. The value of this result was enhanced by the fact that the past two years had been a period of exceptional excitement.
I will not detain the House many minutes with what observations I have to bring forward. The debate on this Bill has now proceeded for some time. Only a few hon. Members have expressed their views adverse to the Bill, and I have one or two remarks to make upon the question. In the first place, I have to remark that not one of the speeches in opposition to the Bill has proceeded from hon. Members representing Wales; and, in the second place, those who dissent from it have not said much that could influence the House in the rejection of the Bill, nor have they made any Motion for its rejection. They have, apparently, not thought it worth while or prudent to focus or place on record whatever adverse feeling there may be to be obtained against it. Undoubtedly, those two circumstances are a matter of great encouragement to those who have brought on, and are now pressing forward, the Bill. I apprehend that there is no single Welsh Member who would wish, or if there be any single Welsh Member who would wish, there is, I suspect, no Welsh Member who would venture to give his opposition to the Bill in a practical shape. I am not a Welsh Member; but I am a resident within the borders of Wales, and 1771 the question, therefore, addresses itself to me as one of particular interest. Now, I am not at all disposed, in a matter of this kind, to give too great scope to my own personal leanings or preferences. When I am asked to say whether public-houses should be closed upon Sunday in one or another part of the country, my reply would be, in the first place, that I do not think the question ought to be decided according to any individual preferences. It appears to me that this is eminently a question on which the feeling of one of the great sections of the country may be well ascertained; and when tested by an experience of some length of time, when placed entirely beyond doubt by sufficient evidence, it ought to command the greatest attention, and, I would even say, a willing assent in this House. That was so, many years ago, in the case of Scotland; and no one, I think, ventured in the case of Scotland seriously to oppose what influence or inspirations could be drawn from any other portion of the country to the granting of the boon Scotland asked for. We then were engaged for a length of time in a controversy on the case of Ireland; and then the same considerations were urged by those who supported the measure for closing public-houses on Sunday in Ireland, that the sentiment of the country was perfectly ascertained and established, and that, being established, it ought to be assented to by Parliament. In the case of Ireland, however, there was this great difference from the present case—that there were a certain number of the Irish Representatives who had maintained stoutly and persistently in their places that the true feeling of the Irish people had not been expressed, and that it was, to a considerable extent, adverse to the Bill. On that ground, and, undoubtedly, in consequence of their exertions, assisted by influence borrowed to a great extent from England, a very obstinate or resolute—I do not wish to use a word with an invidious meaning—resistance was offered to the Bill; but still, upon the whole, Parliament assented to the Bill, and Parliament, I think, assented to it under the influence of a general genuine pressure of Irish opinion, and not in deference to any merely theoretical view, or sectional movement apart from the public opinion of Ireland. Well, we have just heard from my hon. 1772 Friend behind me (Dr. Kinnear), and we have heard on various occasions and in various forms, accounts which, I must say, have been eminently consolatory and satisfactory to its promoters, with regard to the working of that measure in Ireland. Encouraged by what has happened in that case, the people of Wales have brought forward their Bill. The case of Wales is somewhat peculiar. Undoubtedly, it has not in the past been the habit of Parliament to look to Welsh opinion or to Welsh interests as a distinct, independent factor in the Constitution of this country, as it has been in regard to England and Ireland. Wales has been regarded as in a closer relation to ourselves than either Scotland or Ireland. But I am bound to say that it appears to me that we have pushed these considerations too far. On many subjects, in my opinion, there has been a great deal of occasion for complaint; on one subject, in particular, the treatment of Wales was almost a barbarous treatment, and that subject was the mode in which the patronage of the Welsh Church Establishment was administered. In that matter, English ideas and English views were allowed completely to override the wishes and the interests of the whole people of Wales. The Services of the Church in Wales were administered, for the most part, in a foreign tongue; the Bishops who superintended the action of the Church, in most instances, could not speak in Welsh even the words of the Confirmation Service which they had to administer to the people of the country; and that was an example of the length to which English ideas were pushed and forced upon the people. I am not going to set up an extravagant theory of nationality with regard to either Wales, Ireland, or Scotland; but this I will say—that where there is a distinctly formed Welsh opinion, as in the present case, upon a given subject which affects Wales alone, and the acceptance of which does not entail any public danger or public inconvenience to the rest of the Empire, I know no reason why a respectful regard should not be paid to that opinion. Now, this is a question with regard to which it appears to me to be eminently right and fit that the desire of the Welsh should be kindly entertained by Parliament. For this, after all, is not a question of 1773 Constitutional, of political, or of Parliamentary control; it is not a question of Home Rule and the disintegration of the Empire which some hon. Gentlemen see as treading in the steps of Home Rule; it is a question of police; and being a question of police, it is also a question in which, on grounds of policy, Parliament itself has seen fit to distinguish between different portions of the country, not only at first between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, and afterwards between England and Ireland, but also between different parts of England, according as the population is aggregated together in large towns, or as it is dispersed over rural districts. And, moreover, I must point out that the argument may be even carried a little further. There is an energetic Party in this House who are disposed to carry over, bodily, in the most unlimited manner, the whole discretion as to the having houses for the sale of spirituous and strong liquors at all into the hands of the local community. Even a very great number of those who do not go the whole length of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (sir Wilfrid Lawson), yet are of opinion that the local principle ought to be admitted to a very considerable extent; so that when, for example, my right hon. Friend, now President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain), made a proposal, really on the part of the town of Birmingham, to grant to Municipal Corporations great powers with respect to the consumption of or traffic in spirituous liquors, there were very many, although not a majority, in this House thought that a principle of that kind might be justly introduced into our law. I mention all this simply in illustration of the general proposition that this is a question in which, within due limits, local opinion may safely be allowed to have a very considerable weight; and, if so, I may join with that the modest claim on the part of Wales. Wales is, after all, a country with a people of its own, with a language of its own, with traditions of its own, with feelings of its own, and with especially religious feelings and associations of its own. And undoubtedly it is the religion of Wales which must be admitted to be prevailing in nineteen-twentieths of the parishes of Wales; and it is the religious associations of the people of Wales which very consider- 1774 ably enter into the general frame of opinion which has called forth this Bill. I I do not think, therefore, that in a question of this kind it is too much to say that the House would do well to give kindly attention to the wish which is almost unanimously entertained by the people of Wales in this matter. Do not let it be thought by those who are alarmed at the idea of the introduction of this question into England that the question for England will ever be decided one way or the other, or sensibly influenced by the fact of what we may do in Wales. The question, when it comes to be decided for England under the Bill which is already on the Table of the House, will have to be decided in reference to the state of public opinion in England. The essential condition, in my opinion, for the passage of any such Bill is that public opinion should have attained a very decided state as to its wisdom or propriety. It would not be fair, for example, in a case of this kind, to override the wishes of a very sensible minority. If a change of this kind is introduced into the law, that ought only to be done upon the recognition of something which approaches to a unanimity of feeling in the community to which it is to be applied. It ought not to be done, at any rate, by the mere triumph of a majority over a minority. I give no opinion, therefore, upon the question with respect to England, except this—that I am sure my hon. Friend (Mr. Stevenson) will not succeed in inducing the House to adopt the Bill which he has introduced, unless he is able to prove such a state of public opinion as constitutes a demand. The state of public opinion in Wales undeniably, I think, has reached such a state of maturity as to leave no doubt at all about the matter. I cannot conceive any assertion of any kind that can be made safely with regard to Wales, if we may not make the assertion that it is the earnest desire of the people of Wales, in the interest of the country, in the interest of the population, in the interest of the fathers of families in Wales, that this Bill should be passed. The Welsh, as far as I have ever had the means of judging, are upon the whole, and especially as you come among the poor Welsh, a very sober people. You may say that if they are a very sober people they are the less in need of this Bill; yes, that may 1775 be true. But is that a reason why the Bill should not be passed? Is there no such thing as the temptation to drunkenness? If the condition of the people with regard to the use of spirituous liquors has been improved up to such a point that the people, almost without exception, are desirous to set aside this temptation, would it not be a cruel thing on the part of Parliament if we, on the invitation of hon. Members who do not represent Wales, and have no title to speak on its behalf, were to refuse to set that temptation aside? I hope that this Bill may proceed to its second reading without division. If there were a division, I feel confident it would be accepted by an overwhelming majority of the House; and I further hope that after it has passed the second reading, if it be found that there is no material change in its scope, there will be no disposition on the part of any hon. Members who may object to the Bill to seek opportunities of obstructing its progress through the Forms of the House in the present state of Public Business, and that they will honourably and kindly allow it to pass forward to take its place in the Statute Book.
§ MR. HUSSEY VIVIAN
I will not detain the House; but, after what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, I feel I must say that now that this Bill has been introduced, Her Majesty's Government should give us assistance in passing it through this Session. The right hon. Gentleman has recommended the House to receive the measure with kind consideration. I trust that it will do so; but in the event of any obstruction being offered—and we know how difficult it is, under the present Rules of the House, for private Members to carry Bills through—I hope we shall in this case receive the support and assistance of the Government. Nothing could be stronger than that which has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. He has said that to deny this Bill to the people of Wales would be an act of great cruelty. That is precisely what I would venture to suggest to the House and to hon. Members who, on principle, oppose measures of this kind. The people of Wales are practically unanimous, therefore I hope no opposition may be offered to it on its future stages; and I think we shall have just and strong grounds for calling 1776 on Her Majesty's Government, in the event of such obstruction, to give such facilities as will enable us to pass the measure this Session.
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
Sir, I have no intention of challenging a division on this question. [Cries of "Divide!"] I will not detain the House more than a minute or two, and I trust hon. Members will allow me to make an humble but emphatic protest against the conclusion the Prime Minister has come to. The right hon. Gentleman says this is a question of police; but it appears to me to be rather a question of principle. The duty of the police, I understand, is to protect the public from wrong-doers; but the object of this Bill is to enable a majority to trample on a minority. This is one of a class of measures of which we have seen too many of late—a class allowing the invasion of the rights of individuals at the bidding of a majority. The tyranny of the individual has been replaced by the tyranny of the majority. We have now cone to a condition of things in which we are told what a man shall drink and what he shall not drink, and on what day or days, and I do not know why we should not equally allow the majority to decide what he shall eat and wherewithal he shall be clothed. My idea of a State under a democracy is the individual liberty of every unit in that democracy, and not the idea that a mere numerical majority shall subject individuals to control in matters on which the State has no right to interfere with them. We have our Contagious Diseases Acts and other measures all interfering with the rights of individuals. If all Wales is in favour of this Bill, my objection is intensified, for there is no need of it. If there is only a small majority, there is no strong case for it, and the number who wish to tyrannize are few; but if there is a large majority the tyranny is the more crushing. The right hon. Gentleman says this is a local question; but I cannot agree with him. The question is a national one—a question of individual freedom—therefore, I offer my humble protest against this and all similar Bills.
§ COLONEL MAKINS
said, he agreed with the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) in his condemnation of the principle which underlay the present Bill and all similar measures; and he wished it to be clearly under- 1777 stood, with reference to the appeal just made by the Prime Minister, that if the Conservatives abstained from taking a division on the Bill, they were not to be understood as admitting the principle as applicable to England. He had abstained from interfering with the progress of the Irish Sunday Closing Bill, because it had appeared to him that it was really wished for in Ireland, and because the circumstances there were entirely different from those of this country.
§ MR. SHAW
said, he would not have interposed in the debate if he had not thought it necessary to say a word or two in defence of county Cork. The inhabitants of that county had been represented by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake) as spending one-half of their time in making whisky, and the other half in drinking it; but he (Mr. Shaw) believed they were as sober a people as any in the world. As Irishmen had not the habit of eating as well as Englishmen, a little drink affected them, and the moment an Irishman began to stagger a policeman took him up. Until recently they had nothing better to do; but just now, perhaps, they were better employed, and so there were fewer arrests for drunkenness. He would not oppose the present Bill, because they were told it was the wish of the people of Wales that it should be passed; but he asked whether it was really desired by the whole of the people of Wales, or only by the religious people of the Principality? He had great sympathy with the irreligious, and he feared that the irreligious might be sat upon by the religious, in these times, in all directions. It was possible that in Wales there might be poor people who had no means of keeping beer over from Saturday for their Sunday dinner; and he would suggest that a clause should be inserted in the Bill allowing public-houses to keep open for an hour or two on Sunday. Would the hon. Gentlemen who were so anxious to support morality propose such a clause? The philanthropists, in his opinion, were overdoing these things. There appeared to be no doubt that Sunday closing had produced a good effect in Ireland, because so much drunkenness was not seen as formerly; but he (Mr. Shaw) had to drive six miles to church on Sundays, and he had never seen 1778 many drunken people in the country as since the passing of the Irish Bill. It was a curious thing that both the religious people and the publicans should be quite at one as to the good effect of Sunday closing. They did not see so many drunken people as hitherto—that was to say, the religious people did not see so many drunken people; but the publicans sold more than ever. Since the passing of the Bill he had travelled a good deal about the country, and had come to the conclusion that, although whisky drinking was less common than it used to be among the middle classes, it was not among the working classes—in fact, there was more drinking among the working classes. The philanthropists might go on in this line; but they were not doing the people a bit of good. The remedy for drinking habits was to be found in other channels. He was not surprised at the Irish people turning into the public-houses from their wretched cabins. If, instead of political agitation and the keeping up of "shams," the philanthropists used their money in endeavouring to raise the moral and social position of the people, it would be much better occupied, and they would begin to find their objects realized. He did not think those objects were to be gained by measures of this kind.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
said, that as the Representative of one of the largest seaport towns in South Wales (Cardiff), where the population was very mixed, he was perfectly astonished at the enormous preponderance of public sentiment there in favour of this measure; and he felt it his duty to say that that was not by any means a religious movement, or a religious movement only, but one which was sympathized in by the people as a whole. Not less than 82 per cent of the population of Cardiff were in favour of that measure, and when the ratepayers were impartially canvassed it was found that only 4 per cent were prepared to declare against it. He hoped that the Bill would be allowed to pass through all its stages without opposition.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 163; Noes 17: Majority 146.—(Div. List, No. 193.)
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Friday.