HC Deb 02 April 1884 vol 286 cc1389-452

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: I am sure I am expressing the satisfaction of the House at seeing the Speaker sufficiently recovered to be able to preside over our deliberations this day. Considering the limited time allowed for discussion on Wednesdays, I desire to state my case as briefly as possible, consistently with respect to the House and the importance of the subject. The subject is one of growing and deepening interest in the country, and the friends of temperance, and especially many ardent supporters of the Government, will be deeply disappointed if this Parliament comes to an end without legislation on this subject. The time has gone by when it might be urged that this matter is not within the competency of Parliament, which has passed Acts for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. But even if there had been no such precedents, I should still have submitted this Bill. I have read in the newspaper a letter from a Mr. Ekin, comparing the convictions for drunkenness on Sundays last year in Scotland and in England; and finding that, judged by this test of sobriety, England is now rather more sober than Scotland, the writer draws the astounding inference that if there had been no Sunday Closing Act in Scotland, the Scotch convictions would have been 12½ per cent fewer than they have been. That is a specimen of the absurd logic that is applied to police statistics. I would rather argue that it is the Sunday Closing Act that has brought Scotland up to nearly the level of England, and that a similar Act for England may be expected to raise in like manner the sobriety of England. What has been the improvement in Scotland after 30 years of Sunday closing? I will trouble the House with a comparison drawn from the records of the City of Edinburgh Police of the number of persons who were charged with being drunk and incapable in the streets of Edinburgh on the average of two years—1852 and 1853—before the passing of the Act, and the number in the year 1883. The total yearly cases, including all days of the week, have been reduced from 6,279 to 2,738; the cases on Sundays alone have fallen from 702 to 218; on Mondays alone from 772 to 337; on Saturdays alone from 1,351 to 847; but the effect of the Act on Sunday drinking will be best shown by the cases found between 8 A.M. on Sundays and 8 A.M. on Mondays, which have fallen from 383 to 40. These results, though other causes may have operated, I claim as mainly due to the Sunday Closing Act for Scotland. As to the Irish Act, it is enough to say that it has been followed by a reduced consumption of intoxicating drink of £5,000,000 in five years, and the Government have introduced a Bill to perpetuate the Act, and apply it over the whole country. After only a year's trial it is said that the Act for Wales has failed. I believe it has proved satisfactory in diminishing drunkenness; but it is under the disadvantage of not being accompanied by an Act for England, for the temptation is too strong for some habitual drunkards to cross the Border to obtain the drink that we have by our legislation trained them to become accustomed to. That is all the more a reason for passing the Bill and uniting off the supply of habitual drunkards, by permitting the young henceforward to be trained up without those temptations. It is no wonder that the Sunday school teachers have petitioned in such numbers in favour of the Bill, when they see that the greatest obstacle and hindrance to their self-denying labours is the open public-house on Sunday afternoons. Police statistics only show a small part of the evils of intemperance; they are limited to the cases of disorder in the streets. But for one such case there are 20 cases of drunkenness of which the police have no knowledge, and 100 cases in which the money is wasted in drink which should have gone to the comfort of the home and the clothing, maintenance, and education of the family. Public opinion is ripening rapidly in favour of the Bill. No question so commands the attention and interest of public meetings, and except when these are disturbed by the emissaries of the public-house the opinion is always in favour of the measure. Last year 6,700 Petitions, with 1,800,000 signatures, were presented in favour of Sunday closing, including those in favour of the county Bills; and I maintain that the moral value of such signatures, obtained by the voluntary and self-denying efforts of philanthropic persons, is far greater than the same number obtained in the interests of a trade and appended to Petitions lying on public-house counters. Many hon. Friends of mine have boon grumbling at the trouble these Petitions gave them. I have had more than my own share of these Petitions; but the only remedy I can suggest is that this Bill should be passed, for we may depend upon it that this wave of popular demand must go on in volume and force till Sunday closing becomes the law of the land. I am glad to see the Home Secretary in his place; and I can assure him that the best friends of the Government in the country are anxiously looking to see what sympathy and support he will give to the Bill. I hope, at any rate, that individual Members of the Government will be left free to vote to give effect to the views of their constituents on this question. I believe that the three Members for Manchester and the three Members for Liverpool will be found supporting the Bill, and they know what these great communities want. I know that London is the great bugbear; but I will remind the House that Sunday closing began in the Metropolis. By the Act of 1841, public-houses were closed in London from midnight on Saturday till 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon; and that was found to work so well, that its beneficial effects were recited in the Preamble of an Act passed by Sir George Grey in 1848, to extend the same rule to the whole Kingdom. Therefore, I do not regard it as a very bold proposal to apply Sunday closing to London now. In reference to the Amendment put on the Paper by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Talbot), I am at a loss to understand the position he has taken. I presume he is a friend of progressive temperance legislation, and I am quite sure he is not here as an advocate of the interests of "the trade." I would, therefore, appeal to him whether he is right in proposing, as an Amendment, a Motion which, if carried, would practically be fatal to the Bill? Why does he not vote for the second reading, and if the Bill goes too far, let him try to amend it in Committee. As it is, the hon. Member submits only an abstract Resolution. This is not needed. The House, four years ago, adopted, on my motion, a Resolution for Sunday closing, after it had been modified, however, more in the direction of the views of the hon. Member than I approved. On that occasion there were 153 in favour of the Resolution, and 117 against it, and opinion has ripened in the meantime; so that many Members will now vote in favour of the Bill who would not have done so then. Why does the hon. Member not bring in a Bill himself? If a Bill on the lines of this Resolution had been before the House now, instead of my own, I would have voted for the second reading, and have sought to make it stronger in Committee. The hon. Member's Resolution, if embodied in a Bill, would not satisfy public opinion; it would not give complete Sunday closing in one single country parish in England. It would not satisfy "the trade;" but only irritate them with fresh interference and more complicated regulations. At their great mooting in St. James's Hall the other day I understand that the trade made three demands: Let the Irish Act drop; repeal the Welsh Act; and let England alone. Such a Bill would not liberate the hundreds of thousands of barmen and barmaids who now lose their day of rest with their families. There is a great demand for total closing; there is no demand for partial closing. This is what Members offer their constituents, not what the constituents ask from their Members. The canvasses of householders show as large a majority against partial opening as in favour of total closing. I appeal, therefore, to the hon. Gentleman not to vote against the second rending; of the Bill. This question is not confined to tins country, for there is a similar movement in Sweden, where a Petition to the Swedish Parliament for a similar object has been signed by 12,000 working men in Stockholm. It is a monstrous anomaly that on the sacred day of rest the only shops open are the liquor shops, carrying on a trade which causes loss of work, waste of money and industrial resources, and produces crime, pauperism, ignorance, and other evils. I will not detain the House longer, being most anxious that it should come to a decision on the question; and I ask you, by reading this Bill a second time, to put into operation that "great power" which the Prime Minister lately said "was possessed by the Legislature to remove sources of temptation from, the way of the people."


I have been asked rather unexpectedly by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) to second the Motion which he has just made. Well, Sir, I do so most cordially; but think that in seconding the Motion in favour of the Bill the House will, perhaps, allow me to explain my position with regard to it. I, myself, am a total abstainer from intoxicating drinks, and, personally, I am prepared to go much further than the present Bill. I look upon Sunday closing as a part of a much larger subject; and I am well aware that the Bill generally is supported by a very considerable body of persons who regard the Sunday as being different from any other day. I can quite understand and appreciate that feeling, and I have very much sympathy with it. It has always seemed to me to be an anomaly that while you have every place of ordinary business—the baker's shop, the butcher's shop, and the draper's shop—closed on Sunday, the only houses that are open on that day should be the gin palace and the public-house. The chief reason why I have hesitated to associate myself with the Sunday closing movement has been a doubt with regard to public opinion. I am ready to go as far in the direction of limiting the facilities for obtaining intoxicating drink as public opinion will sustain me. To go further would simply be to defeat the object that the temperance advocates have in view. I would certainly go as far as possible; and, having watched as an outsider for a considerable time the movement on behalf of the closing of public-houses, I have become convinced in my own mind that there is a vast body of public opinion, amounting to that of the large majority of the people of this country, which is now in favour of the closing of public-houses on Sunday. My hon. Friend the Member for South Shields, in the excellent speech he has delivered to the House, has brought forward arguments to show that the closing of public-houses in Scotland and Ireland has materially diminished intemperance in those countries. I have no doubt that other hon. Members, like myself, received Circulars this morning bearing upon that point. These Circulars are of a very conflicting nature. I have only had an opportunity of glancing at them; but I find that among them a Licensed Victuallers' Circular has been sent which contests this point, and which, so far as Ireland is concerned, declares that there has actually been a greater diminution of intemperance in those towns and cities winch are exempted from the operations of the Sunday Closing Act than in those where the Act is in operation. There are no detailed figures nor any authoritative statistics accompanying the Circular to bear out that contention; and it seems to me that it is not only contrary to experience, but to all common sense, to assume that the more you lessen the facilities for obtaining drink the greater will be the amount of drunkenness. I think that hon. Members will hesitate to accept the conclusion of the Licensed Victuallers without much more substantial figures and facts than those which have been presented are forthcoming. With regard to Ireland, I hold in my Land a paper which has been given to me by Mr. T. W. Russell, a gentleman who has devoted a very great amount of time and attention to this subject. Mr. Russell enters into detailed figures, and gives his authority for the statements he makes and the conclusions he draws. His conclusions I think are fully borne out by the figures. I have carefully read the paper as far as time would allow, and Mr. Russell tells us that he has reached these conclusions— First, a decrease of Sunday arrests in the Sunday dosing area equal to 53 per cent; second, a decrease on a smaller scale in Sunday arrests in the live cities on the short time system; third, a reduction in the drink bill amounting to £5,500,000, comparing the quin-quennial period before Sunday closing with a similar period following it: fourth, a very great decrease in the arrests for general drunkenness. In another part of the paper Mr. Russell calls attention to what I think is a very important point, and one well worthy of the consideration of the Members of this House and of the Licensed Victuallers also, because I think that no one can contest the position which Mr. Russell takes; and, if so, the case in favour of Sunday closing in Ireland is absolutely conclusive. Mr. Russell says— Another most significant fact which ought of itself to settle the entire controversy lies on the surface of all these figures. In the year 1883 the gross arrests for drunkenness in Ireland numbered 89,526. Of this total, Sunday, and including the arrests in the five towns, contributed but 4,195. In other words, the six days of the week, which enjoy 15 hours' sale of drink, gave 14,000 arrests each. Whereas Sunday—the; idle day—the day when money is more or less available, and a day not kept in the Sabbatarian sense, but which is, nevertheless, protected in a special manner from the traffic of the publican—gave 4.000! Had every day of the week been as well protected from the liquor traffic, the drunken arrests in 1883 should have numbered less than 30,000, instead of 90,000. Those figures seem to mo conclusive upon the point. One of the arguments used by Members of this House in opposition to the Bill is, that it would be unfair to the working classes—that the Clubs are open for the rich man, and give him facilities for obtaining drink, and that it would be unfair that the working man should not have the same opportunity. I appreciate the force of that argument, and I wish that hon. Members, who are so very anxious to protect the working man's liberty to get beer would show equal zeal in protecting him in other ways, and in preserving liberties and benefits of less doubtful advantage. Although I never arrogate to myself the claim to speak on behalf of the working men, a number of Members of this House have credited me with knowing something of the views of the working classes throughout the country; and in regard to that matter, I may say that I represent, as is well-known, a very large working-class constituency. During one half of the year I mix very freely with workmen in my district. I go to their homes, and talk with them at their own fire-sides; I meet them at public gatherings; and I confess that I have been amazed to find the extent to which the working men generally are in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill. I notice that the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) is opposed to the second reading of the Bill. It has been my unfortunate lot to differ frequently from the hon. Member, although there is no Member in this House for whom I entertain a greater respect. Especially I differ from him on the Sunday question; and I cannot help thinking that the two positions occupied by the hon. Member in regard to that question are inconsistent. For instance, I remember a few years ago, when I was advocating further facilities for the opening of Museums and Picture Galleries for a few hours on Sunday, I had the hon. Member as a strong opponent. His chief objection was, and I believe still is, against the increase of Sunday labour which the opening of these Museums would, in his opinion, necessitate. The hon. Member on that occasion referred to the Sunday as a Divine institution handed down to us from the past, and he implored the House to maintain it in all its sanctity unimpaired. Well, Sir, has the hon. Member ever reflected on the fact that, according to the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance, there are no fewer than 300,000 persons employed in public-houses on a Sunday? Has he no sympathy with these people? Is he not at all desirous of giving them a holiday on a Sunday? It seems to mo that, assuming it to be a great desecration to throw open the British Museum and National Gallery for a few hours on a Sunday, it is a far great or desecration to have these pauper-making and crime-manufactuing establishments thrown open on a Sunday. I hear a rumour that the Bill now before the House is intended to be talked out. I sincerely hope not. I trust the House will have an opportunity of giving a vote for or against the measure. The talking out of a Bill is generally the resort of a disheartened and defeated Party. It will indicate that those who are opposed to the Bill are afraid to test the opinion of the House and the opinion of this House upon questions of this kind is generally far behind public opinion outside. Hon. Members may depend upon this—that although they may, by pursuing obstructive tactics, prevent the House from coming to a decision to-day, the time is not far distant when this Bill will be carried to a successful issue by a triumphant majority.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Stevenson.)


, in rising to move, as an Amendment— That this House, whilst unable to concur in a proposal to close houses of refreshment during the whole of Sunday, is of opinion that the hours during which such houses are open on that day might be materially curtailed, said, he was entirely in accord with the sentiments and principles of the two hon. Members who had advocated the change in the law which the Bill proposed; but he did not think that those principles would be best carried into effect by the Motion they had respectively made and seconded. He did not suppose that he should convince the hon. Members by anything he might say; but in taking the course he was about to take, he might fearlessly say he was not actuated by any selfish or class motives. He intended merely to express his views, which he believed were in the interests of the public, without any pressure from outside. Whether he took the line indicated by the Amendment or not, it mattered nothing to him in a political sense. The hon. Member for South Shields, in dealing with this subject, recognized the sacred character of the Sunday, advocated his Motion in the cause of temperance, desired to promote, as far as possible, the rest of the working classes on Sunday, and urged the House to pass the Bill in the cause of good order. On all those principles he entirely sympathized with the hon. Member; but he would ask whether it was possible, looking at the matter practically and not theoretically, for the hon. Gentleman to carry out his views. It was said that great interest was felt by the public in this Bill; but, if so, it was strange that this was only the second time it had been brought forward in this Parliament. On the 25th of June. 1880, the hon. Member for South Shields made a Motion similar in term to the Bill which he now advocated. His Motion was carried by 153 against 117; but so strong was the opinion of the House in favour of proceeding cautiously in the matter, that the hon. Member wisely accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease). The Motion, as amended, differed very much from the Bill now before the House. It stood on the records of the House in this form— That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that the Law which limits the hours of sale of intoxicating drinks on Sunday in England and Wales should be amended so as to apply as early as possible to the whole of that day, making such provision only for the sale during limited hours of beer, ale, porter, cider, or perry, for consumption off the premises in the country; and, for the requirements of the inhabitants of the Metropolitan district, as may be found needful to secure public co-operation in any alteration of the Law. That was the decision of the House of Commons in 1880, and that was the decision which he asked the House of Commons to confirm to-day. The hon. Member for South Durham on that occasion quoted from Mr. John Tremayne, and said— Mr. John Tremayne, who represented Cornwall in the late Parliament, and who took great interest in this question, had estimated as the result of his investigations that in London there were thousands of people who had no other place for their Sunday dinners but the restaurants and public-houses—a class consisting of those who lived in lodgings, and who were accustomed, during their business hours in London, daily to get their principal meal at a restaurant."— (3 Hansard [253] 903.) Again, he said— This was not a householders' question. It concerned rather that part of the population which was not composed of householders, but lived in lodgings.…Those only who were least interested had been canvassed."— (Ibid. 905.) Again— Everyone who know Glasgow and the working of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was aware that the bonâ fide traveller could always obtain liquor on Sunday, and that every inn that had four bed-rooms was a house of call for the bonâ fide traveller, and that there were many of them."—(Ibid.) He ventured to say that the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion (Mr. Burt) with regard to tins working classes did not touch the question. There was a large class outside the working men who were not even provided for in the Representation of the People Bill—those who took casual employment, and who were on Sundays especially in an unprotected position. They had no homes worthy the name, and if the houses of refreshment were closed, where were they to go? And that question, applied especially to London. But he would go further, and ask the hon. Member if he had taken into account what was to become of the large mass of foreigners who inhabited this city? London was not only a large Metropolis, but also a Nation. It had been said there were in London more Germans than were in Berlin, and more Swiss than were in Geneva. It, in fact, represented all the nations of the earth. Complaints were made by foreigners of the condition of London on Sunday. He was very far from sympathizing with them in their criticisms, because he believed that the English Sunday was enjoyed by the people of this country. They must not, however, make it impossible for foreigners to get their ordinary dinner on Sunday. He would ask the Home Secretary to listen to the following words of his Predecessor (Sir E. Assheton Cross):— I said when I was in Office that if Sunday closing was carried I would not be responsible for the peace of London. I say the same now that I am out of Office; and I am certain if the Home Secretary looks into the matter he will come to the same conclusion."—(3 Hansard [253] 912.) He should like to know if the Home Secretary had considered that point? He had heard with pleasure the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) say that he was ready to go as far as public opinion would justify him. That was exactly his (Mr. Talbot's) position. He had been charged with being opposed to any measure dealing with the hours during which the public-houses were open; but that was not the fact. On the contrary, he was prepared to curtail the existing hours to a considerable extent. There was another document to which he would ask the attention of the House. The Report of the Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance was universally admitted to be one of the most instructive upon this question of intemperance. That Committee, in their Report, which was constantly quoted, made the following recommendation:— That on Sundays licensed houses should in the Metropolis be open from 1 to 3 p.m. for consumption off the premises only, and for consumption on the premises from 7 to 11 p.m. That in other places in England they should be open from 12.30 to 2.30 p.m. for consumption off the premises only, and for consumption on the premises from 7 to 10 p.m. in populous places, and from 7 to 9 p.m. in other places. Now, he was prepared to go further than these recommendations of the Lords' Committee. There was another measure on the Paper fur second reading to-day, introduced by the hon. Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease), which went further than those recommendations, and he was prepared to support it. It proposed to reduce the hours on Sunday for London from 1 to 3 for consumption off the premises, and from 7 to 10 for consumption on the premises; and in places beyond the Metropolitan district, but in the Metropolitan police district, or in a town or populous place, from 12.30 to 2.30, and from 7 to 9; but with this important restriction—that no spirits were to be sold during those hours, but only beer, ale, porter, &c., and these only for consumption off the premises. This Bill also proposed to close public-houses in the rural districts for the whole of Sunday. This was a matter which did not affect the upper or even the middle classes; but it did affect the lower classes. He had tried to show that though a great number of the working classes who were householders did not desire that the public-houses should be open during any part of Sunday, yet that there was a large floating residuum who could not obtain refreshment on that day if they were closed. Suppose this Bill were passed, and suppose it were felt to be intolerable in London and other large centres of population, what would this House have to do? It would have to do what it did before, and what he could not but think an ignominious thing—namely, to rescind its previous legislation. But the hon. Member would not by this Bill be able to carry his benevolent designs into effect, because it continued the exemption of the bonâ fide traveller. Now, if the law as to the bonâ fide traveller remained in its present state the evil would be multiplied a hundredfold, and there would be a perpetual series of conflicts with magistrates, Courts of Law, and police-officers as to who was and who was not a bonâ fide traveller. One of the witnesses before the Lords' Committee said that the bonâ fide traveller gave more trouble in Liverpool than any other portion of the community. There was a place three miles from Liverpool where the working classes went on Sunday, where one house was called "The Lamb" and the other was a coffee-house. From 300 to 500 persons would be assembled there on a Sunday afternoon, all of whom had slept the previous night three miles off; in fact, so crowded was the house that the police could not get in to notice who were there. The police said the bonâ fide traveller was the greatest nuisance they had to deal with. In London they went as far as Willesden by hundreds, and were immediately served. Was the hon. Member prepared to deal with the bonâ fide traveller? If he was not, then he had not solved the question, and his Bill would only lead to much greater difficulties than at present. So far from enrolling on the side of temperance a large class of the people, it would have a very injurious effect upon that cause. The hon. Member had appealed to him not to oppose the second reading because the Bill might be amended in Committee. He thought, however, it was an objectionable proceeding if one did not approve the principle of the Bill to consent to its second reading. He could not agree to the principle of the total closing of public-houses on Sunday, and, therefore, he could not vote for the second reading of the Bill. If, however, the Bill should, unfortunately, obtain a second reading, he should be prepared to move Amendments in Committee reducing it to the principle contained in the Bill of the hon. Member for South Durham, to which he had referred. He did not desire to resort to any obstructive tactics. His wish was that the House, after hearing the arguments on both sides, should say "Aye" or "No" to the Bill. He begged to move the Amendment which stood in his name.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, he would not yield to any person in the interest which he took in the cause of temperance; but, in relation to this Bill, what they had to consider was whether it would not cause fresh evils to arise—evils just as serious as those which it was intended to amend, while it would greatly inconvenience a vast amount of people, and operate harshly upon a large class of the population. There was a distinction to be drawn between the country at large and the Metropolis, and it was to the Bill as it affected the Metropolis that he would confine his remarks. Householders would not be affected by the Bill, because rich ones had their servants and their Clubs, while poorer ones could cook and oat their dinners at home; but what were clerks and others to do who occupied only a single room, and had to depend on refreshment-houses for their meals? It would be hard measure that a large number of respectable men should be debarred from the simple gratification of their tastes because others drank to excess. It should be remembered that it was proposed to prohibit in those houses the sale, not only of intoxicating liquors, but of any article whatever. Another evil to which the Bill would lead would be the formation of a large number of spurious Clubs, of which at present there were already many in London, formed merely for the purpose of obtaining spirituous liquors within the prohibited hours. In those Clubs drinking went on of a very bad description, because there was no supervision of any kind, and many evils arose which were not to be found in public-houses. There were now as many as 100 Working Men's Clubs in the London Postal District. He was in favour of these Clubs; but he thought under the Bill the number would increase, and that the members would not be of the same respectable class as at present. It should be recollected that they might not stop the liquor traffic as the hon. Member wished to do, but force it into new channels. Another evil result would be the increase of illicit selling, the establishment of a system of "shebeening," such as had become very common in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where scenes occurred which were awful to read of. It was said that it was easy in those places for a person wishing for spirituous liquors on Sunday to obtain them on the premises on which he lived, and the consequence was that whole families were plunged in intoxication from Saturday night to Monday morning. The traffic in intoxicating liquor could not be stopped; and it was better that it should be carried on openly, under a certain amount of police supervision, than that it should be secret. It was by no means certain that the. measures adopted in Scotland had had very beneficial results, for the Police Returns showed that 1,886 cases of drunkenness in 1879 had risen in 1882 to 2,530. The Police Returns, showing the number of persons taken up as drunk and incapable in the streets, did not necessarily prove that the amount of intoxication was diminishing; they rather proved that the vice was being driven under. If the police could go into private houses they would find that the number of drunk and incapable persons whom they contained was very large indeed. If the Bill were passed, Sunday drinking in London would only be changed for drinking on Saturday night. It would be an easy thing for the House to pass the measure, for it would not affect a single Member. But they ought to endeavour to have one law for the rich and poor; and if this measure were agreed to there would be one law for the rich and one for the poor. He hoped that the House, if it should adopt the Bill, would be consistent, and would shut up all the Clubs on Sundays. He could not see why the many should suffer for the misconduct of the few. The Returns about drunkenness for England showed 17,000 cases of intemperance; and because there existed that number of persons who could not resist temptation, it was proposed to put a population of 24,000,000 to very serious inconvenience. The existing provisions with regard to bonâ fide travellers were very mischievous, and the cause of much evasion of the law; but the present Bill would hold out a further inducement to such evasion. Believing that the cause of temperance would be better served by a further limitation of the hours during which public-houses could remain open on Sunday, and by the abolition of the bonâ fide travellers—if that were possible —than by the means proposed in the measure before the House, he should vote for the Amendment which had been moved.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, whilst unable to concur in a proposal to close houses of refreshment during the whole of Sunday, is of opinion that the hours during which such houses are open on that day might be materially curtailed,"—(Mr. John Talbot,) —instead thereof.

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


I rise to support the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson); but I am willing to admit that some of the arguments used by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Talbot) are not without weight. I am willing to grant that some exception must be made to the general principle of Sunday closing, especially as regards the Metropolis. I think most hon. Members on our side are willing to admit that this exception must be made, and are willing to leave this to the discretion of Parliament after this Bill has passed into Committee. [Mr. WARTON: "No!" and cries of "Hear, hear!"] But we do hold that public opinion out of doors is much more ripe for Sunday closing, broadly and generally speaking, than, perhaps, this House is willing to admit. I may speak myself, as representing perhaps the largest constituency in Great Britain, and a borough in which the question has been most thoroughly discussed for many years past, where the temperance question has been, if I may use the expression, thrashed out more thoroughly than in any other part of the United Kingdom. In that borough we have now approached to something like unanimity on the question of Sunday closing. We have taken a poll of all householders in Liverpool, and we find six-sevenths are in favour of Sunday closing, and, indeed, in favour of many other restrictions upon the sale of intoxicating liquors. The great wave of temperance feeling that has swept over the country during the past few years has very much altered the opinion of people as to the facilities given for the sale of strong drink. The whole country of late has become alive to the horrible social degradation in which a large portion of our population lives. I am sure those Gentlemen who have been able daring the past few weeks to read the harrowing accounts that have been brought before us of the condition of the poor in London and other populous parts of the country must be deeply impressed with the conviction that the time has now come when Parliament should address itself with great earnestness and give its entire heart to the amelioration of the condition of these people. No one will dispute that the main cause of the degradation of masses of our countrymen is the enormous consumption of intoxicating drink which goes on. I am almost tempted to read a few remarks, although I think I must abstain, from that remarkable description of the poor of London, written by Mr. G. H. Sims, entitled Horrible London, in which he attributed the great mass of the terrible degradation, misery, and starvation he witnessed to the excessive consumption of intoxicating drink. We admit that Sunday closing is only a branch of this question; but it is a very important branch, and we advocate it because we believe it is a reform upon which the nation has set its heart—a reform which lies nearest to our hand, a reform on which we can get the greatest amount of unanimity, and the reform which, above all others, is the most urgent and pressing at the present moment. We do not expect that the millennium will follow Sunday closing; but we expect to stop a large portion of this wasteful consumption of the resources of the poorest people on intoxicating drink. We believe we can save to the poor people of this country from £20,000,000 to £30,000,000 annually. If Sunday closing was established, as it ought to be, and earlier hours for Saturday closing followed—and I consider the one to be quite as important as the other—I believe we should bring about a wonderful change in the social habits, comfort, and well-being of millions of the population. Demands would be occasioned on our small tradesmen to an extent to which they are altogether unaccustomed at the present time. A great—a much larger—demand would be made for our own manufactured articles. We should open up a new market equivalent to that of India. The whole trade of the country is suffering from stagnation at the present moment; and I could not conceive of anything more calculated to benefit our trade than the turning into fruitful channels of this enormous expenditure on intoxicating drink. It is a large question, and unless looked at in u broad and general point of view we shall be likely to come to a wrong conclusion. I am quite aware that many small objections can be raised against the Bill; but we should deal with the matter in a comprehensive way; and unless the House does something to show its interest in the cause of temperance, it will find itself very much out of harmony with the intelligence and good feeling of the country. Those who are closely watching the tide of public opinion in our large towns must be aware that there is steadily rising up an antagonism—a feeling of opposition—to the wealthy and upper classes of the country. Men in the guise of social reformers, but who are in reality Socialists and Communists at heart, are gaining increased weight and influence amongst large masses of the poorer portions of the population; and I say that unless the House will address itself earnestly to urgent questions of social reform, there is great danger that a large section of our population will look to other sources for an amelioration of their lot which this House has denied them. There is grave danger that a tide of Socialism and Communism will pass over this country unless Parliament, will pay greater attention than it has hitherto done to those urgent social questions. It is on that account that I give my support to the Bill before the House.


said, the arguments of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down went to show that the Metropolis was far worse than any other place in the United Kingdom in respect to its drinking habits. He had told the House that Mr. Sims had stated that the poor of London were more addicted to drink than those in any other part of the country; therefore, he (Mr. Onslow) failed to see why the Metropolis should be exempted from the provisions of this Bill. The hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading said where one case of Sunday drinking came to the notice of the police, there were 20 of which they knew nothing; but that was a mere assertion, and was not supported by statistics. In his (Mr. Onslow's) opinion if this Bill became law there would be a large amount of drinking in private houses, which no policeman could enter; and, for the sake of temperance, he would rather see working men enter a public-house on Sunday to have their glass of Leer than that they should indulge in private drinking at-home. This had been the consequence of the repressive measures in operation in Ireland and Scotland, and the state of things would be far worse in England if this Bill should become law. The working man would have to take home on the Saturday night the liquor for his Sunday consumption. He had no place where to keep it away from his wife and children, and the consequence would be that there would be an inducement to every member of his family to consume the liquor before the Sunday commenced. What, then, would happen? This man would say—"I did not take enough home last Saturday; I must take home more next time. "This was no fancy picture. Would it promote temperance? This had not been the case elsewhere, and he believed the practice would be far more common in England than in any other part of the country. But it was said the Bill would prevent the waste of the earnings of the working man. he was not sure if a working man went into a public-house and had a glass of beer that it was a waste of money. There would be, unfortunately, more waste by drinking in private houses. They had had statistics before them now for many years. They had heard about Wales. Although statistics were not always reliable, there was this consolation—that there was a decided diminution in the number of arrests for drunkenness throughout the country. There was only one person out of 1,430 arrested for drunkenness on Sunday; and he said it was most hard to prevent the 1,429 from enjoying a glass of beer in a public-house because one unfortunate being chose to get drunk. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the number of Petitions in favour of this Bill; but Petitions were mainly a matter of money, and many of them were utterly fictitious, being signed by women, who knew nothing about the matter, and by children at school. It was impossible that London should be included in this Bill; but if they were to have such a Bill at all, why not try it in the Metropolis? There they would soon see how utterly futile the Bill would be. A few years ago. when he took an interest in the Irish Bill, he stood opposite a respectable public-house in London on a Sunday from half-past 1 o'clock for half-an-hour; and he watched 40 young people enter the house with jugs, to fetch beer for the Sunday dinner. Did the hon. Gentleman wish to prevent that? Was there any harm in people wishing to have their boor fresh? It appeared to him that it would be simply tyrannical to put a stop to it. The wealthy people had no call to do this. They had their own cellars, from which they could draw on the Sabbath as on other days. But poor people had no place in which to keep their liquor. He was afraid this was practically a Sabbatarian question. But was there greater harm for a man to get a glass of beer on a Sunday than for holiday-makers to go on a Sunday for a row on the river, or drive in the country? Did the hon. Gentleman know that Sunday was now the great day for lawn tennis parties? Did he object to that? There was a Member of Her Majesty's Government who frequently played lawn tennis on Sunday; was it more wicked to buy a glass of beer than to do that? The Lord's Day was formerly regarded with great strictness in Scotland; but now carriages could be hired, and people could go for a drive on that day. The hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) said the more they lessoned temptation the greater good would be done; but they would not lessen temptation by closing public-houses, but would present a greater temptation to private drinking. In the South of England he (Mr. Onslow) had rarely met a working man who wished to have the public-houses closed on Sunday. It was very rare to see a drunken man on a Sunday south of the Thames. Working men had more self-respect than they used to have, and 93 out of 100 now considered it a disgrace to get drunk on any day. The hon. Gentleman had argued that the opening of public-houses on Sunday kept people in those houses to accommodate their customers; but the hon. Gentleman was a strong supporter of opening Museums and all places of amusement on Sundays, in which case surely there would be more persons en- gaged in Sunday labour than were now engaged in all the public-houses in the country. He should like to know why the hon. Member for South Shields wished to confine the operation of the Bill to Sunday? There was far less drinking on a Sunday than on any other day. Was there greater cause for intemperance on Sunday than on Monday, or any ordinary day? He believed that the hon. Member for South Shields, in his heart, wished to shut the public-houses on every day. There was an inherent liking for alcohol in some shape or other in almost every man. It was not confined to one generation; it had always been so. They must recognize that, and they could not repress it by legislation. It was absurd to think that they could prevent by this Bill people who wished it having liquor. They knew that a great deal of pressure had been brought to bear upon Members on both sides on this matter. They were threatened of the consequences if they opposed it. The temperance people were about the most tyrannical persons in this country. As for himself, he never cared about their threats. He had been told that they were going against him to a man. Well, he had heard that before, and his reply was, "Let them go." He was not one who would sacrifice his honest conviction to the threats of a clique. This Bill, if passed, would create a mass of people who would call themselves bonâ fide travellers, for it must be recollected that the people would get their glass of beer or their glass of whisky in some way or other. Then statistics had been produced to show that since the Sunday Closing Acts in Ireland and Wales there had boon a great increase of drinking in certain localities which came within the purview of those Acts, and a decrease in drinking in towns which were not affected by them. With that experience before them, how could hon. Gentlemen support a Bill of this nature? He was glad nothing had been said in the debate against the magistrates, who, in his opinion, had done their duty, especially within the last 15 or 20 years, in a remarkable manner. Throughout the length and breadth of the country they had done all they could by setting themselves against excessive drinking. It, therefore, appeared to him that without this legislation, and with the good example of the magistrates, and the increased prosperity of the working classes, in a very few years the drunkenness of the country would diminish to a remarkable extent. It would be better that private enterprize and education should be left to do the work rather than that the House should be called upon year after year to pass some 15 repressive measures. There had been for many centuries past an enormous amount of restrictive legislation on the subject of drinking in this country, and it had had no real effect whatever. The same tiling would follow if this Bill were passed. The language used by the fanatics on this subject was remarkable. Not long since, when lecturing in the West of England, Canon Wilber-force said in his opinion a man's salvation depended on his taking or not taking a glass of beer. No wonder the Canon was found to be off his head, and had to be sent to the Continent. He (Mr. Onslow) had had sent to him a pamphlet, entitled Britain and Bacchus, in which the author said— Banish from power men who have defiled their hands and their consciences by entering into a compact with the immoral traffic. Those were the sort of exaggerations made use of by the supporters of this Bill, and that was the kind of strong language which had a great effect upon what was called the weaker sex, and which caused them to sign the Petitions in favour of such legislation as this—Petitions upon which such stress had been laid. The Lords' Committee on Intemperance decided unanimously that it would be wrong to close public-houses altogether on a Sunday. This was essentially a working man's question; and the opinion of the householders who signed the Petitions was not of so much consequence. He did not believe that there prevailed among the working classes that almost unanimous feeling which the hon. Member for Morpeth attributed to them. The great danger in the contemplated change was, as it appeared to him, that they would increase in the long run that which they were endeavouring to prevent. He thought the proceedings of the violent teetotalers were very reprehensible. In the villages near where he lived, not long ago, two working men, the one styling himself "The Converted Clown," and the other "The Saved Miner," went about singing songs with such titles as We Have Left the Barrel!; and Hurrah for the Pump! The effect of their vocal efforts was rather to fill the public-houses than to prevent people going into them, because as the bystanders joined somewhat lustily in the chorus they became very dry after the performance. He hoped, whether they went to a Division or not, that hon. Gentlemen would not be led away by enthusiasm for the temperance cause, but would take a common-sense view of the question, and would agree with him in the conclusion he had arrived at, after much consideration, that by preventing Sunday drinking in legalized houses they would create a worse form of drunkenness than existed before.


The arguments in favour of this measure for the closing of public-houses on Sunday have been so clearly and so fully put by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) that I do not intend to repeat them, and shall only ask the attention of the House for a few moments. So far as the county of Durham is concerned, the principle embodied in this Bill was affirmed last year, and that Bill is again on the Taper for to-day. I desire, as far as I am able to do so, to dispel the idea which exists in the minds of many hon. Members that there is some slight antagonism or rivalry between the county measures and that which is now under discussion as applicable to the whole of England. Those, who promote the County Bills are English Bill men first and County Bill men afterwards. It seems to me that the whole, or at any rate the greater part, of the opposition that has been brought to bear against the measure now before the House has been because of the inclusion of the Metropolis; but I may inform the House that I have the authority of my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields for saying that he is prepared, when the Bill gets into Committee, should it reach that stage, to adopt the recommendation made by the Committee of the House of Lords in reference to the opening of public-houses on Sunday in London. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) appeared to reason as though there had been no Division taken in the House of Commons on this subject during the present Parliament; and although he was right in alluding to the fact that a Resolution only was passed in the year 1880, it should be stated that last year we did have a Division on this question when the second reading of the Bill promoted for dealing with the matter in the county of Durham was carried by the large majority of 153 against 57. It cannot be supposed that those who voted in favour of the, passage of that measure were actuated by the desire merely to secure the benefits it would confer upon the county of Durham, although we were enabled to present such an enormous preponderance of public opinion showing that we were quite ready for the application of such a law to that particular part of the country. But I may say that, in addition to Durham, the counties of Yorkshire and Northumberland have shown themselves equally desirous of such a measure. Those three counties contain a population amounting to something like 4,000,000, or about one-sixth part of the entire population of England, so that the measure which is now brought forward by the hon. Member for South Shields does not involve any proposition or principle which has not been thoroughly considered and debated in many parts of the country. The fact is that the county measures have only been introduced into this House with a view of impressing upon Her Majesty's Government and the House at large how very large a consensus of public opinion there is in favour of some such measure as this throughout the various parts of the country, and the need which exists for dealing with this question with as little delay as possible. The real question appears to me to be whether the Acts of Parliament which have already been passed for different portions of the country have been successful or unsuccessful; and it would seem that hon. Members who, like the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House, are of opinion that these Acts have failed to do that with which they are credited by those who are in favour of such measures, and that they really do encourage drunkenness, but who, at the same time, desire that drunkenness should be diminished, ought, as the only logical result of these views, to have the courage of their convictions, and themselves bring in a Bill for the purpose of repealing all the Sunday Closing Acts which are now in operation in various parts of the coun- try. But. Sir, it would be impossible, and hon. Members are aware of this, to succeed in any such attempt. Her Majesty's Government are already so convinced of the great benefit that has been derived from the application of the Act now in force in Ireland that they are prepared to extend it to the five great cities which have hitherto been excluded from its operation, and have proposed a measure intended to carry out this object. The only other point seems to be whether the people really wish for this measure. The hon. Member for South Shields has surely offered sufficient evidence to show that such is their undoubted desire. It has, however, been stated on the other side that the working men, as a class, are opposed to this kind of legislation. This assertion I distinctly deny. I may say that I have mixed with working men all my life, and that I have at least been in contact with them quite as much as the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow). I have attended a vast number of working men's meetings in different parts of the country, and recently I have been present at some that have been held in this Metropolis on the subject now under discussion; and wherever we have had such meetings, not a single hand has been held up against Sunday closing, or even in favour of the limited hours suggested by the Amendment of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford. I have lately attended two large meetings, one in Bow and one in Lambeth, where the audiences were composed almost exclusively of working men, and I am able to say that the desire expressed at both for the passage of this Bill was unanimous. At these meetings I have been requested to say that the working men of the Metropolis are ready to see this measure passed in its entirety. Nevertheless, I am fully aware that there are some working men in London who are not convinced of the necessity of such a measure; and if the Amendment to which my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields is willing to agree were introduced in Committee, it appears to me that it would, to a large extent, meet all the difficulties with regard to the Metropolis that have been put forward by hon. Members who have addressed the House on the present occasion. I trust, Sir, that Her Majesty's Government will see their way to sup- porting this measure. It has already been stated that they have among the temperance reformers many of their best and most earnest friends; and if the present Session should be allowed to pass, and the existing Parliament to run its course, without the passage of any measure for largely limiting the hours of drink, very great disappointment will be experienced by a considerable section of those who are the habitual supporters of Her Majesty's Government. I do not propose to occupy the time of the House by going at length into the details connected with this question, as I do not wish to do anything that may prevent a Division being taken on the second reading of the Bill. If hon. Members feel that their constituents will support them in voting against the measure, let them not be afraid to take that course, so that the advocates of the Bill may be enabled to see who are in favour and who are against the principle it embodies. I will only say, in conclusion, that in my opinion this measure, if it be carried into effect, will do more to lesson the misery, the sorrow, and the crime that exist in this country, and more to promote the general welfare and happiness of the great mass of the people, than any other measure that either is or has been before the House during the whole of the present Parliament. I have only further to thank the House for the kind attention with which it has listened to these few remarks.


observed, that they were told that public opinion was rapidly ripening for the change which was proposed in that matter. If that were so, he thought the process of ripening was a very slow one, because they had seen far less excitement about that question that year than they had seen last year or the year before. It was a simple thing to get up public meetings to attack; and people who attacked were also far keener than those who defended, probably because the latter thought their position so strong that they need not be so particular to attend meetings. The reason why public feeling was less excited on that subject than it had been was, perhaps, because people were somewhat doubtful about the benefits to be derived from compulsion; while those who had taken up the question very strongly were, perhaps, those among the I masses who were far too ready to believe anything that was told them by the leaders of an agitation, provided only those loaders were sufficiently self-asserting and loud in their talk. They were told that this Bill should not be opposed because it was demanded by the working men. He would like to consider what it was they were told the working classes really wanted. According to the various speakers in favour of this Bill, the working man was made to say that he was a creature of impulse and without control, and that so long as public-houses were not absolutely closed against him on Sunday, he could not resist the temptation of entering them and spending far more money than he ought. They made him say—"Save us from ourselves; do not consider the publicans; do not consider the temperate; consider only us who are drunkards." It appeared to him that this was a very extraordinary statement for the working man to make; and that because he was afraid to submit himself to the temptation of a public-house being opened on Sunday he was willing for the drink he required on Sunday being brought into his house on the Saturday. Would not the fact of his doing this inflict a greater evil? Had it not occurred to him that an enormous amount of mischief would be done supposing that on the Saturday night he brought into his house the Sunday's supply, and had it staring him in the face from his cupboard or from his table? Surely if the working man could not resist the temptation on Sunday, he was not very likely to resist it on Saturday night. But, supposing all that he had said about the working class was simply theory, and that he had stated nothing practicable, he did not think that any hon. Member would rise in his place and tell the House that the experiment tried in Wales had been attended with unmitigated success. They heard some extraordinary stories upon this matter from Wales, from all parts of the territory, and he would advise hon. Members having any doubts on this point just to consider the evidence that was placed before the magistrates at Wrexham Petty Sessions on Monday the 17th ultimo. On that occasion the Court was occupied for no less than eight hours in trying cases of Sunday drinking; and the horrible scenes of debauchery and iniquity which then came to light were sufficient to startle anyone who gave sufficient thought to the subject. He heard only the other day of another extraordinary story. When he was canvassing in 1880 one of his constituents took up a very strong line against him on the question, of Sunday closing, and was one of his strongest opponents. Since then he was told that that constituent—a strong temperance man—had gone to Cardiff; and what he had soon there of the result of closing the public-houses on Sunday had made him entirely change his mind on the subject. In the course of the debate they had simply considered the case of the householder, or the man who rented the whole of the house in which he lived. But there was a very numerous class who did not rent a house, and occupied but one, two, or it might be three rooms. This class had naturally not got very much space to spare under such circumstances. He thought that they should consider this class; because they heard from people who supported this measure that the brewers were prepared to place beer in small barrels for the benefit of the householder deprived of their Sunday beer. The country labourer and the householder had plenty of room to store those barrels; but, still, he could conceive nothing more detrimental to the interests of the working man, supposing he had a weakness for drink, than that he should have this small barrel of beer constantly exposed, not only to himself, but also to his wife and children. He mentioned the wife, for he was afraid that the statistics went to show a lamentable increase in female intemperance, and he could not think that they were likely to decrease that intemperance if they were to introduce the beer in that way into the house. It was all very well for people to say that statistics proved that there was less drunkenness. They might make statistics prove pretty nearly anything. They showed, however, absolutely nothing with regard to secret drinking—the drinking which went on in a man's own house. The gentleman who first caused him to think deeply upon this question was a man who was at one time a Member of that House, and a man who had probably more intimate knowledge of the working man than anyone present—he meant the late Mr. Knowles—and he said— If you close public-houses on Sunday entirely you will work an enormous amount of evil—an amount of evil which can never probably be properly gauged until the seed it would be the means of sowing ripened. The consequences would be most terrible. He was willing, however, to see an alteration in the hours during which public-houses might be opened, and he was disposed that there should be such an alteration as would admit of people getting their dinner and supper beer; but he was not willing to compel people who might be accustomed to drink their beer, or whatever else they liked, every day in the week to be teetotalers on Sunday. He did not believe in compulsion. Compulsion had not done any good, and would not in this case. If they were to believe everything they heard, they should believe that England was a nation of drunkards. He did not believe it was a nation of drunkards. In his opinion the majority of the English people were sober in their habits. Why, therefore, should the House calmly consent to punish the majority for the sins of the minority? He sincerely hoped that the Bill would not be read a second time.


The hon. Member who has just sat down has expressed considerable doubt as to the opinion of the working classes on this subject. I support the second reading of this Bill chiefly because I believe it is in harmony with the wishes of the great majority of the working classes of the country. It has often been said that this movement for the closing of public-houses on Sunday has been originated and is forced on by persons who will be little affected by it. I believe the very reverse is the case; and that the strength of this movement is to be found in the support of the working classes in our centres of industry, who, if not unanimous, are certainly in a very large majority in favour of this measure. It is they who feel the evil effects of the present system most painfully in their families; and it is they, I believe, who are most anxious to see an alteration of the present law. This is not a new question; it is not a question of theory; it is a question upon which we have had many opportunities, especially those of us who are engaged in the manufacturing districts, of testing and of obtaining the opinion of the working classes; and I think that no one who knows those districts can have any but one opinion, which is that there has been a steady advance during the last few years of public opinion among the working classes in favour of this proposal, and even amongst the publicans themselves and others who are engaged in the trade. It has always appeared to me that it is not so much incumbent upon those who advocate this measure to give reasons why public-houses should be closed on Sunday, as it is the duty of those who oppose the measure to bring overwhelming proof of a necessity for their being open. It is not a new law that we are proposing to introduce—it is the abolition of a special exception in the law affecting trading on Sunday. As the House is perfectly aware, a law is in operation to prevent trading on Sundays, and it is backed up by custom and is supported by the hearty co-operation of all classes of the community; and, therefore, when we approach this question it is not to introduce a special Act of legislation in reference to this trade. It is rather, as I have said, to remove a special exception which is found, I believe, to work prejudicially to the interests of the community; and it is simply to place this particular trade on the same level with regard to Sunday opening and Sunday closing as the other trades of the country. Therefore, the question before the House is, whether this exception from the general law affecting trading on Sundays is necessary or desirable? I do not wish to detain the House at any great length; but it seems to me sufficient to say that that necessity is absolutely disproved by the example of Scotland, by the example of Ireland—as far as the measure has been carried out there—and by the example of many of our Colonies. In all those places there is absolute closing of public-houses on Sunday, and the necessity for a revision of the law affecting them is not pressed upon this House. Scotland has now had an experience of Sunday closing extending over 30 years; and I am of opinion that every one of the Scotch Members of this House would testify that if a proposition were made for repealing the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland, it would be absolutely opposed by very nearly the whole population of that country. I come to the question whether it is desirable; and in considering that question we have to look at the facts and the present state of the law in England in regard to this matter, and compare it with the results which obtain in countries where that law has been altered. I will not trouble the House with many statistics, as I know there is a great suspicion in regard to statistics in this matter. But I will give the following. They are taken from the Report of the Chief Constable of Manchester, and I compare them with the Report which has been presented to the House from Glasgow. The simple figures I would put before the House with regard to Manchester are that the number of arrests for drunkenness on Saturday, on Sunday, and on Monday are 64 per cent of the whole number of arrests. Now, I am quite aware that the Saturday figures are the greatest number; but I think when you look at those Reports, and notice how the large figures are still maintained on Monday and on Tuesday, you cannot fail to see what a link that Sunday opportunity is, and what an immense change would be wrought if that large number of arrests on Sunday, owing to the large amount of drinking on that day, were diminished. Compare this state of Manchester with the state of Scotland. As you are aware, the population of Scotland is ten times greater than that of Manchester; and there you find that the arrests on the Sunday—taking the same hours in the Return laid before this House—the arrests in Manchester for drunkenness are one-half the number of those in the whole of Scotland. But it is said that there is in this Bill some injustice. The points, I understand, on which the opponents of this Bill feel strongly are—first, a feeling that we should be legislating in a different way for the rich from what we were for the poor; and then there is the position of Clubs. Clubs are used by the upper classes, and Clubs are being used more extensively every year by the working population; and the question arises of the position that they would occupy against the publicans, whose trade you are going to interfere with. Now, as to the question of the rich and the poor in legislating oil this subject, I think the whole question depends upon what are the real wishes of the working classes. I am quite prepared to say that I would not stand up in this House and support this measure if I did not feel there was a large support of the working classes behind me; and in speaking to-day I am speaking in their interest. I am not supporting this measure in any way in order to promote my own interests. I certainly do not wish to say a word which would seem to cast the slightest stigma upon those teetotal and temperance societies who, in my opinion, and in the opinion of everybody, are doing such good and immense work in dealing with and ameliorating the great national evil which we all deplore, and against which I am glad to think they are making considerable headway; but the proposed legislation seems to me to be not to force teetotalism on the unwilling masses, but to do that which is in accordance with the wishes and desires of the working classes themselves. When I come to the question of the position of Clubs, I have no doubt, taking the experience of Scotland, there would be a considerable amount of secret drinking in the first two years after the passing of this Bill. You do not change the manners and customs of a people by Act of Parliament, and where the habits of the people are being invaded there will be a tendency to resume those habits. I know something of Scotland; and I believe the experience of Scotland is that although at first, after the passing of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, there was a considerable amount of private drinking, that stage has almost completely passed away, and there is a general improvement in the drinking habits of the Scotch. I do not myself think that Clubs will take the place of public-houses. The reason I give for that opinion is that at the present moment we have in Manchester a considerable number of Clubs of various kinds. We have a considerable number of Political Clubs and of Working Men's Clubs, and in the Political Clubs it is an absolute rule that they are closed upon the Sundays—closed, simply because the committees of those Clubs desire that they should be closed. I have myself a very large experience of two Working Men's Clubs where members were perfectly free to open those Clubs on Sunday; where drinks were sold regularly during the week. In both cases influence was brought to boar upon them, because it was thought desirable that they should be open; but in both those cases, after deliberate discussion, the members of those Clubs decided that they would not open on the Sunday; and those two very representative Clubs of working men were absolutely closed by the act of the members themselves. Well, Sir, now I will just say one word to the Amendment that has been proposed. I am glad to find that the Amendment goes a very long way towards the end proposed by the hon. Member opposite, and recognizes a certain curtailment in the hours of opening. But it continues the idea of special legislation and special restriction for the liquor trade, which I think is a mistake. I think the proper view to be taken in dealing with this question is to affirm the general rule to be that these houses should be closed on Sundays as other places of business are. I am quite prepared to admit, and I believe it would be desirable to give, every reasonable consideration to any class of exemption that may be brought before the House. I understand that some arrangement has been come to with regard to the Metropolis, and probably in some way the Metropolis may be exempted from the action of the Bill. I am very glad of that; because I think that in the Metropolis there are very special considerations—the habits and customs of the people are different from what they are in other parts of the country—and I think in affirming the principle of the Bill to-day, that there is to be Sunday closing, we ought to take a reasonable view of any claim which is made on the grounds of necessity or emergency for exemption from the general principle which we have affirmed. Of course, there is an exemption with regard to the bonâ fide traveller; and although I am not prepared to say that the bonâ fide traveller is not a very suspicious person, and a person who perhaps only travels in order to get drink, still I do not think that even the abuse of that exemption which is said to exist in Scotland outweighs in any way what are the immense benefits of that Act which for the last seven years has boon in force. I think it is very desirable—and here I only express my own opinion—that there should be some provision in England which is not necessary in Scotland with regard to the sale of beer for a short time twice a-day, at a time when people want it for their meals. I think this is of very great importance. I do support that exception, and I lay great stress upon it, because I think that the working classes should learn to do what the upper classes do—take their stimulants when they take their meals. I think it would be important in our legislation on this Sunday question if we did something for the encouragement of that habit. I hope the question will not be talked out; but I trust that some decision will be come to on the subject. I do say that there are great masses of the people, in my opinion, in the Metropolis and also throughout the country, who are in favour of this measure; and I think the people of the country will be disappointed if the House does not come to some decision on the subject, so that they may fool the matter has been carefully brought before Parliament, and has been decided upon its merits by their Representatives.


said, he had not intended to have interfered in this debate but for the remarks of the hon. Member who had just spoken. Notwithstanding the various speeches which he had heard, not only upon this occasion, but upon the other occasions when this matter was before the House, he had not seen any reason for altering the deliberate opinion at which he had arrived as to the injustice and inexpediency of closing public-houses altogether on Sunday. he freely admitted—and did so cheerfully and willingly—that all credit was duo to the large section of the community who endeavoured, as far as they could, to promote measures having for their object the restriction of intemperance; and more particularly upon this subject, which in itself was so attractive, and which appealed so forcibly to all their feelings and religious professions, one might very well hesitate to refuse to listen to the advocacy of gentlemen who were earnest in their desire to limit and restrict intemperance; but, at the same time, in the independent opinion which he had formed on this subject, he could not help but think that a considerable amount of mischief was often done by attempts to carry out professions of temperance to such an extent as to cause interference by legislative action. He was an advocate for temperance, and would certainly do all he could to promote the consumption of drink in mode- ration. For 28 years of his life he had tasted nothing stronger than water, and it might, therefore, be supposed that he took considerable interest in the temperance movement; but he was convinced, from experience, that they did a larger amount of wrong by over-restriction than if they allowed the people to use and employ drink according to their wants and requirements. They had 180,000 Licensed Victuallers in the United Kingdom, and the great bulk of them were men whose great interest it was to carry on their business in the most legitimate and the most orderly way possible. They were men who had employed in their trade something like £120,000,000, and, being under State control, the very object and interest of those men was to conduct their business properly. Considering, then, the respectability of the men licensed by the State, and the magnitude of the trade, they ought to hesitate before adopting any measure which would seriously interfere with their position or their trade. Besides, if they were to abolish these men, they would find another class of persons ready to take their places without licences, without any interest in maintaining peace or moderation in their houses, and the result would be that their attempt to regulate and control the Licensed Victuallers would lead to greater evils. The great bulk of the community were utterly opposed to these restrictions. The hon. Members who had just spoken had instanced the case of Wales and Ireland, and had he anticipated speaking he could have furnished a large amount of evidence upon their examples. But Ireland was held out for imitation in this matter. What did he find? In the years between 1877—the year the Sunday Closing Bill was passed—and 1883 there was in the cities exempted from the operations of the Act a decrease of 38 per cent in the cases of intemperance. In the rest of the country, where the Exemption Clauses did not apply, the decrease had only been 7 per cent. The periods between 1873 and 1883, however, showed that whilst there had been a decrease of 40 per cent in the cases of intemperance in the exempted cities, there had been an increase in the rest of the country of 20 per cent. That was his reply to the arguments of the hon. Member who had appealed to the con- dition of things in Ireland; and if the other parts of his argument were as fallacious and difficult to support as this one he need not trouble the House with attempting to refute them. Reference had been made to the deference which should be paid to the views of the working class. He accepted that view thoroughly and heartily; but was it possible that the working classes—the population they were going to admit to the franchise—that they had so low an opinion of them that they believed them so incapable of protecting their own interests, of preserving their morals, and of restraining themselves from undue indulgence and intemperance. Such a reproach should not have been put forward without finding many Members of that House ready to condemn such an imputation. There was one other point to which he would advert. He saw that the number of convictions of persons arrested for drunkenness on Sundays was, between 1876 and 1879, 46,315. That number dwindled down in the period between 1879 to 1882 to 42,000. But those figures showed that in the first-mentioned periods the convictions were as one to every 72,436 of the population, and between 1880 and 1882 one in every 91,104 of the population. It came, then, to this—that because one person in every 91,004 persons gave way to intemperate indulgences, as they would always find a certain class of men willing to do, they were to control or limit the free action of the other 91,003 who did not give way to overindulgence. He contended that the decrease in the number of cases of drunkenness was likely to decrease, and would decrease, everyday; and in advocating the position he had taken up, he was firmly convinced that a measure of repression and of legislative restriction such as that proposed would have an effect totally opposite to that which all of them were endeavouring to promote—a result which, they would all deplore and repent.


yielded to no one in his desire that this Bill should not be talked out. He represented, and belonged to a district which took a very great interest in this subject, and he held a sort of middle position between the two extremes—the rabid teetotaller on the one the, and the rabid Licensed Victualler on the other. He at once dismissed an argument that had been touched on very little—-namely, the interference with the liberty of the subject in closing public-houses on Sunday—as that argument went very much too far; because, if the public or the Licensed Victualler were entitled to the liberty of sale and purchase on Sunday, they were entitled to that liberty at all hours on that day, and at any hour during the rest of the week. But the main question at issue was the convenience of the public. How did that matter stand? It was useless to go too minutely into statistics; but they did show that a large number of the population of this country, especially in the North of England, were in favour of some further measure for closing public-houses on Sunday; and when the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) complained that the householders were the only persons who had been canvassed on this subject he was rather surprised, because, in his own district, he discovered the number of votes largely exceeded the number of householders in that district, and he was told that the canvass had been made among all the adults of the district. As he had said, the convenience of the public was the main question; but he admitted there was one other element to be considered, that was the moral effect the Bill would have, and the effect upon the crime of the country. It was a singular fact that the clergy of all denominations were largely in favour of some further measure of this kind, and he thought the House could not close its eyes to that fact. If they were wrong in their judgment, on their heads be the blame. Then, coming to the question of crime, it was found that the magistracy, though not universally in favour of the measure, had certainly supported it to some extent; and where they had been unwilling to sign Petitions in its favour, they had been actuated rather by the hesitation of a class not affected by the measure, than from any definite feeling that the measure was not right in principle. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down spoke of the large number of Licensed Victuallers who would be affected by this measure; but, as he understood the matter, a very large portion of the Licensed Victuallers were in favour of the measure. He knew a town in the North of England, with a population of 6,000 inhabitants or there- abouts, where there were 49 public-houses; and when a canvass was made by the clergy, in order to find out how many publicans would take out six-day licences, provided the whole of the local trade agreed to do the same thing, there were only three out of the 49 who refused to take out those six-day licences. Of course, however, those three prevented the rest from doing it, because they were afraid that custom would leave them. In the face of these facts, and others which might be quoted of a similar kind, it was useless to say that the Licensed Victuallers were in any large numbers against the measure now before the House, or some measure in the same direction. Looking at the effect of this measure on other countries, he maintained that it could not be denied that it did diminish the consumption of liquor. That had been proved, at any rate, in Scotland. It also diminished the amount of crime; but he was not so convinced that it diminished the amount of drunkenness. It was perfectly possible that a more moderate amount of drunkenness might be extended through a larger population, and the amount of drink consumed diminish; and he was very much afraid that if this Bill were passed there would be more drinking in the homes of the poor, more drinking in the quasi-Club, more drinking in the shebeens, and more illicit sale of liquor in that way. Then there was the banâ fide traveller. He was sorry he heard no hon. Member point out how the evil of the bonvâ fide traveller might be mot; but he well remembered that when a deputation waited upon the Home Secretary last year, the Bishop of Newcastle said he hoped a Bill would not be passed for Durham without one for Northumberland, because the population of Gates-head would come across and drink at Newcastle. With regard to the relation between the closing of public-houses on Sunday and the opening of Museums on that day, he wished to point out that in one case they would be diminishing a convenience already enjoyed by the public, and that in the other they would be interfering with the rest at present enjoyed by the employés of Museums. He himself had no strong feeling one way or the other on this Bill; he would be guided chiefly by the manifest convenience of the population of this country. In the North of England the feel- ing was strong; but he could not say so much for the rest of England. He feared that the promoters of the measure were thwarting the attainment of their objects by the extreme position which they assumed. They had always asked for too much in legislation, and they had consequently done nothing. The hon. Member who had charge of the present Bill asked them to pass a measure for total Sunday closing; and he (Earl Percy) did not think he was likely to get it this year any more than in the past. The same might be said of the County Bills; they defeated their object, and put off the legislation that many desired to see. But he wished to put it to the hon. Gentleman whether he would not attain a good many of his objects if he were to adopt some such provisions as those of the Bill of the hon. Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease)? He (Earl Percy) was as anxious as anybody to see some measure passed which should restrict the opening of public-houses on Sunday; but he very much doubted whether a Bill for total closing would have much chance this year, or next, or the year after. Meanwhile, the excess of wretchedness and crime that prevailed would rise up against the advocates of the extreme measure, who would do better if they would, for the present, accept a compromise. He should vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, and for the Bill now before the House; but he should do so in the hope that some Amendments would be admitted in Committee which would make the measure a feasible and practical one. Unless this were done, he was afraid it would not become law for many years to come.


said, it was because he was unable to do what the noble Earl (Earl Percy) proposed to do—namely, to support the second reading of the Bill, that he must ask the House for their kind indulgence for a minute or two. But, although he could not go so far as the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) in voting for the total abolition of the opening of public-houses on Sunday, he had always advocated a great restriction upon the present hours; and, indeed, he would go farther, and say that he thought the House might fairly be asked to pass a measure for restricting the sale on Sundays to consumption off the premises. In that way they might practically do away with many of the evils which the hon. Member for South Shields sought to abate, and, at the same time, they would be keeping the door open to meet the objections as to the wants of the community which had always prevailed against his action hitherto. Some of the arguments they had heard on the present occasion seemed to him to be, to a certain extent, misapplied. They had heard a good deal about this being the only trade which was allowed practical freedom on the Lord's Day. But was this the case? So far as he knew, most trades—certainly in the Metropolis—for the sale of anything that was eatable were carried on on the Lord's Day. Parliament had always regarded the requirements of the public as the measure of its restrictions; and he much doubted whether these requirements called for consumption on the premises on the Sunday. A great number of publicans wished to be restricted to such hours as would not oblige them to keep their servants in the house the whole day. There would be throughout England a large consensus of opinion in favour of the further restriction if the hours of the law were made universal and obligatory upon all. The reason why closing was not voluntarily adopted in many places was that one or two publicans held out, and so compelled all the rest to keep open. The Bill passed in 1874 made some attempt to meet that question by introducing a six days' licence; but he was afraid that that had been a practical failure. He thought it would be long before a measure for wholly prohibiting the sale of liquors on Sunday would be passed into law. In conclusion, he said he should not like to vote against the Bill now under consideration, without explaining the reasons why he could not support it.


said, he would merely detain the House for a moment, in order to ask the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill why it was that none of the Amendments promised in the past were worked into the measure, so as to allow those who were in favour of partial Sunday closing to give their votes on its side? This Bill had for many years been introduced in the form in which they now saw it, and towards the end of the debate the introducer had always expressed his willingness to accept Amendments, though these were never found in subsequent years to have been introduced. The hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt), who seconded the Bill, had represented, he believed, that public-houses constituted almost the only trade carried on on Sundays. This, however, was hardly correct. The bake-houses—and this might be abundantly demonstrated in London—carried on a very large business for a class of the public who had not the means of cooking their own Sunday dinners. While he was ready to support a proposal to further limit the hours during which liquors might be sold on Sunday, he could not vote in favour of the present Bill.


I have risen thus early because I think there is a general feeling on the part of the House that, whether hon. Gentlemen are in favour of this Bill or whether they are against it, a decision of the House ought to be taken upon it to-day. The country would have the advantage of knowing what is the feeling of Parliament upon the question, and how far in that respect it represents the opinions of the country. We have had a very interesting debate unquestionably upon this subject. We have had statements, shortly and clearly expressed, from Gentlemen representing constituencies who are locally and in every way entitled to express their views upon the matter. Well, Sir, as regards the general question of Sunday closing, I have no hesitation myself in saying that I am entirely in favour of Sunday closing. I believe that it is no longer a theoretical, but that it is a practical question. We have had experience now for many years in different parts of the United Kingdom. We began with Scotland, and nobody, I believe, will be bold enough to assert that the experiment that was tried in Scotland has failed, or that there are any number of persons in Scotland who desire to reverse that legislation. We proceeded to Ireland, and what has been the experience there? Is the feeling a demand for reversing that legislation? Not at all. It is a demand for completing and going further in the direction in which we have already advanced. Well, with reference to Wales, our experience has not been, so long. I know there is considerable dispute on the subject of the opinion of persons in Wales upon that subject; I dare say there may be room for difference of opinion; but, as far as I know, it is not the case that the experiment has failed in Wales. I had a letter only the other day from a gentleman who is the Chairman of the Petty Sessional Division of the counties of Brecon and Glamorgan, which encloses to me the opinion of the stipendiary magistrate at Swansea, one of the most important and populous parts of Wales. He says— I send you the opinion of the stipendiary magistrate for the important district of Swansea with respect to the working of the Sunday Closing Act there, stated by him on the Bench on Tuesday. I may also add that the Act has been a great blessing to Wales. The opinion is this— The learned stipendiary characterized the offence—"which was a breach of the Sunday Closing Act—"as a very bold one, and said it was the duty of the Bench to inflict a substantial punishment. He added that his experience had been for many months past that the Sunday Closing Act was working very beneficially, because on Monday morning there was scarcely ever a case before him. Therefore, it is not the case to say that the last experiment in Wales has failed. Both my hon. Friend who moved, and my hon. Friend who seconded, this Motion stated, I think, the case extremely accurately. My hon. Friend who moved the Bill said that opinion was ripening on this question. Can anyone who views the attitude of the country on this matter, aye, and who views the attitude of this House, doubt that? How changed is the language that we hear with respect to the other side. How much support do Motions of this character receive, not only from this side of the House, but from that also, as we have seen by the speech of the Representative of Manchester (Mr. Houldsworth) and the noble Earl the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy)? Among the speeches we have just heard, my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt), who speaks with some authority on the part of those of the working classes who think with him, made a very wise and a very true remark—that it would be extremely inexpedient to go beyond the public opinion which has been expressed on this subject, and which, as he says, he has watched. To do so, he said, would be to defeat the objects we have in view. Now, I think the action on this matter has followed public opinion. It followed public opinion in Scotland many years ago; it has followed public opinion in Ireland, and it has followed it in Wales. Some of my hon. Friends here were desirous that it should follow public opinion in other parts of the country; and I supported, on behalf of the Government, the proposal to adopt the Sunday closing in Cornwall and in Durham. Why did I do so? Because I am satisfied—as the hon. Member for Morpeth has said he was—with reference to that part of the country specially, that public opinion was ripe and existed in an overwhelming force and majority in favour of the measure. The evidence that it was so in Cornwall was beyond dispute. People of every religious or political opinion were practically unanimous on the subject. The evidence, I think, was almost equally strong in reference to Durham. Well, what has been the course of legislation in this matter? The course of legislation has been to enact Sunday closing with reference to those communities in which the great majority of opinion was in favour of adopting it. That is what you have done, and I think yon did wisely in that respect. Now, if opinion in this country were as pronounced and as clearly defined in respect to all parts of it as it unquestionably is in respect to a great part of it, I think there would be no doubt whatsoever as to what we ought to do. It is a remarkable fact that most of the speeches we have heard to-day have been from the Northern parts of England. We have had speeches from Lancashire, Northumberland, and Durham; and if I may use a general geographical expression, unquestionably there is North of the Trent an overwhelming opinion in support of the principles of this Bill. I cannot say I am satisfied when you come to the Southern parts of England that there is an equal opinion on this subject. I am not now speaking of Cornwall, which has rather an exceptional position on the map. The case of the Metropolis has been referred to, and I have in my official capacity, no doubt, a particular responsibility with reference to that; but I have not heard anything like that expression of opinion from the Metropolitan Members that I have heard from the Members from Cornwall or Durham on the subject of general Sunday closing. Now, if you are to follow what has been the safe and successful method of dealing with this question, and dealing with it in a manner which shall avoid those dangers of reaction, and of defeating that which you wish to accomplish, it seems to me that you will proceed upon the same principle and in the same manner. In supporting those measures for the Sunday closing in Durham, Cornwall, and other places, I was acting upon a principle which I also, on behalf of the Government, supported when we voted for the Resolutions of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). We declared then our disposition to support the principle of Local Option, and to that principle I adhere. I believe these are questions which are best determined by—I was almost going to say, which can only safely be determined by—those who are conversant with the feelings and the interests of the particular community, and that, as I understand it, is the principle of Local Option. A difficulty that I feel about this Bill is in its present shape. It is not a Bill upon the principles of Local Option; but, on the contrary, it is a Bill adverse to the principle of Local Option. Because in so far as it is a Bill that gives Sunday closing to those who wish it, I am in favour of it; but in so far as it is a Bill which imposes Sunday closing upon communities adverse to it, it is a Bill contrary to the principle of Local Option. I believe you will only do mischief in these matters by endeavouring to force measures of this character upon communities where the majority would not support them. Yon hear it sometimes said—"Oh! this should be treated as an Imperial question;" but I think that is generally advanced by people who do not wish it to be done. They feel the difficulty of applying it everywhere, and therefore they say it must not be applied except it be made of universal application When objection is made in these debates to "piecemeal" legislation, I maintain that all the legislation that has hitherto taken place on this subject has been piecemeal; and "piecemeal legislation," though it may be regarded as rather a dissylogistic expression, is really a sensible phrase to adopt in regard to the principle of Local Option. On behalf of the Government, last year, I stated very clearly what we understood by that term, and what was the principle on which we thought these measures ought to be dealt with. We thought the right ought to be given to all the organized communities in the country, whether in the boroughs or counties, to determine these matters, which are so closely connected with their moral and material welfare. To that I entirely adhere. I believe that those communities like Manchester—which, by the voice of its Representatives, desire Sunday closing—should have Sunday closing; and that those communities like London—which does not ask for it—should not have Sunday closing, and that that would be far bettor than to pass a law which proposed to give it where it was not required. It seems to me that the principle of adaptation to the wants of each separate community, as expressed by those who understand and represent its interests, is the sound principle of dealing with these matters. My view is that each community ought to have the power of determining the whole of this question for itself—whether it should have these licensed houses at all; how many, if it had them; for what hours and during what days they should be be open; and, in point of fact, that the attempt to lay down a general Procrustean Law with reference to the days or numbers of hours for each part of the country, in which the interest and the desires vary according to the localities, is not a sound principle of legislation at all. If we mean anything by local self-government, we mean that separate communities should have a right to deal with questions of this character according to their several interests and wants. I believe my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle would approve of those opinions. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: Hear, hear!] I have said it was a question of areas, and I repeat it, and a question of areas is totally inconsistent with a universal law. But my hon. Friend, much as he might commend my opinions on this subject, might ask—"Why have you done nothing upon it?" Well, that is a very reasonable and justifiable demand; but if there be people outside this House who do not know why we have done nothing on this subject, there is no man in this House who does not perfectly well know why we have not, and why we cannot legislate upon questions so deeply interesting to the community. [Laughter, and an hon. MEMBER: The Franchise Bill.] Yes; the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition laughs. He smiles. I suppose, at his own success. But I would remind the House and the country—for it is to the country we have to look for relieving this—[Ironical Opposition cheers.]—yes; I am not speaking in the interest of one Party or another, or of one Administration or another, because you may depend upon it that those who have to succeed us will have to feel this matter quite as strongly as we do—that habits of this kind, when once created, are difficult to cure. I speak in the interest and in the credit of the House of Commons, and I ask what power there is in this House to accomplish any legislation upon very important subjects? we have now passed eight weeks of the Session of the present year—about one-third part of the Parliamentary time—and I think it will be nine weeks that will have expired before the Government will have been able to obtain the opinion of the House of Commons upon their first and principal legislative measure. Well, Sir, is it necessary, under these circumstances, to explain why it is that the Government have not been able, and are not able, to legislate upon matters of great importance—matters of such great importance as those which are raised by the Bill now before us? I should have been extremely glad—indeed, I am extremely anxious—that upon the responsibility of the Government a measure should be introduced upon the general subject—a subject which includes not merely Sunday closing, but the Liquor Question altogether. I think it ought to be dealt with upon the principles upon which I have spoken—that is to say, the principle of giving to each locality power of disposing of these matters according to their own interest and their own wishes; and it is our desire, as soon as it may be possible for us, in the difficulties with which we have to deal in legislative measures in this House, to propose such a measure for the acceptance of Parliament.


said, that the question was one which, apart from all Party feeling, was sure to raise strong difference opinion and excited feeling. The House had listened with great interest to the speech of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. As to his closing remarks, it must be remembered that the House spent six dreary weeks in November and December, 1882, in considering the Rules of Procedure, and it accepted nearly all the proposals of Her Majesty's Government which in their wisdom they intended and deemed sufficient to promote the successful conduct of Government Business in Parliamant. At that time they had been told that the majority would reign, that the co-operation of an Opposition was not required; and they were assured that a good time was coming, when, if those Rules were accepted by the House, they would restore to the House its ancient reputation for the discharge of public duties. The Opposition, at least, washed its hands of any responsibility for the failure of this anticipation on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He took it that the practical question before them was how they could best promote good order and morality, and effect improvement in social manners in all those matters which tended to give strength to the country. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had assorted, in reference to this subject, that a very remarkable symptom—he was going to say of that agitation, but he would prefer to say movement—was a gradual progress of public opinion. He had referred to a great unanimity of opinion in favour of the Bill on the North side of the Trent, and a great unanimity against it South of the Trent; and he said he could not express the same accordance in the views of the supporters of the measure as they had heard from the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Houldsworth). Speaking for an important Metropolitan constituency, he (Mr. W. H. Smith) would say he believed that all his Colleagues were as anxious to do what they could to help forward the object which the hon. Member for South Shields had in view as the hon. Member himself was. They desired to reduce the amount of intemperance; to reduce the consumption of intoxicating liquor; to promote the orderly observance of Sunday; and to encourage all the habits which were necessary to the welfare of society at large. But would the measure before them attain in the Metropolis the end they had in view? He owned, that from all the information he could possess himself of, it would utterly fail to secure that object in the Metropolis itself. They were dealing in the Metropolis with what might be described as a province of houses, and with a population closely approaching 5,000,000. They were dealing, then, with a condition of things which, in his view, was such that if they passed the Bill under consideration they could not stop there. There were in the Metropolis many Clubs and other Associations whose members had the undoubted right of consuming liquor independently of all supervision or control, and people had the equally undoubted right of visiting at each other's houses, and of consuming liquor; and that right might be exercised to an extent not realized by hon. Members who were not intimately acquainted with the Metropolis, and to a less extent it would be open to the members of Associations such as those he referred to and the Clubs to obtain any amount of liquor they desired during the whole of Sunday. He could not help saying that if the Bill before the House were passed into law, those rights remaining untouched, it would be absolutely impossible for Parliament to stop there. They would have at once to deal with the matters to which he had adverted, and first of all with the question of Clubs. Then there was another question they would have to deal with—that of the bonâ fide traveller. At present his constituents could go to Greenwich, or Hampstead, or Turnham Green, and could require to be served at any time on Sunday. London was, as he had said, a great province—a province of houses—and it was absurd to say that an Act could be useful that would open the door for any amount of evasion, and that would immensely increase the temptation to evade the law. He was told on authority, on which he could place reliance, that the bonâ fide traveller was a great nuisance to the respectable publican. He must examine a man who came to him representing that he had come from a distance and demanding to be served. He had to get the assistance of persons who were most likely to be able to detect the misrepresentations of the bonâ fide traveller, and the duty was one which there was often a great deal of difficulty in discharging. To suppose, therefore, that they could deal with the Licensing Law in the simple way the hon. Member for South Shields imagined he could was altogether a mistake. If they resolved to deal with the subject they must deal with it in a comprehensive manner, which would shut the door against evasion of the law, and support the honest and respectable publican, who endeavoured to carry on his business in a proper and respectable manner. But there was another tiling. At the present moment the police had a right—and it was their duty—to see that the law was obeyed, so far as they were concerned; but they could not go into a Club and interfere with what they might see there. Any such interference at a Working Man's Club would be as strongly resented there as it would be at one of the Clubs in Pall Mall. They had now a decision given in the highest Court of Law, according to which a member of a Club was entitled to supply himself at the Club with a bottle of beer or spirits, or anything else, and having paid for it, to carry it away, even during prohibited hours. That was the law at the present time, and it was a condition of things that opened the door to any amount of evasions for those who wished to drink, and which those must meet who wished to prevent them doing so; and it was obviously a matter of great importance to the community at large. There was yet another condition in connection with the Licensing Laws that required to be considered. Under the present law the lodger was permitted to have any amount of drink he pleased. Now, they know very well that at the East End of London, and he was sorry to say at the West End also, there were licensed houses not of the highest class, with lodgers not of the highest character, and they would have this peculiarity—under the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields—that the lodger of bad character, in a house of inferior reputation, might obtain any amount of drink he pleased, and that lodger might then sally forth and make himself the terror of the vicinity on a Sunday; while a respectable lodger in another and respectable house was not to be allowed to obtain the food or drink which, according to his habits, might be neces- sary for his proper sustenance. That was a condition which involved a man's liberty, and which must not be ignored. He believed the Metropolitan Members desired to go as far as they could with safety, without tempting to evasion or to illicit trading, or loading men to do that in the dark which, they would be prohibited doing in the light, in discouraging the habit of drinking, and lessening the number of hours during which drinking houses should be open; but they wished to approach step by step, rather than by one leap, to the end which the Bill had in view. Let them go on slowly and surely, and he was certain the success would be more real, and lasting, and beneficial to the community at large.


said, he thought the Bill enunciated a very large principle. It had been stated by many of its supporters that they would not insist on including the Metropolis in its operation; but the Metropolis was included in it. He did not suppose that those who brought it forward supposed it was at all likely to pass, or even desired that it should. He gave them credit for a wish to promote temperance; but he protested against its being imputed to those who were opposed to this Bill that they were in favour of intemperance. The Home Secretary said he could not see his way to including the Metropolis in the list of towns that should be closed on Sunday. He could well believe that; and he did not wish to see the right hon. and learned Gentleman charged with the responsibility of maintaining order in the Metropolis in the event of the Bill becoming law. He was not at all surprised at his saying, therefore, that he was not in favour of the Bill. But the Metropolis protested against being legislated for by the Northern portion of the country. The Gentlemen whose names appeared on the back of the Bill were all of them thoroughly amiable and respectable, and he had no doubt their intentions in promoting it were perfectly estimable; but if their Bill should pass, he told them they would find it impossible to put it in operation in London. The population of the Metropolis at present amounted to 5,000,000. In 10 years' time its population would be vastly larger even than that. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) re- ferred the other day to the number of splendid institutions that existed in London, which were centres of knowledge, and exercised a most beneficial influence, and he also said that the people of London were the most law-abiding people in the whole Kingdom. That was a very remarkable fact, because the state of things to which the right hon. Gentleman referred existed under the present law for opening and closing public-houses. It was not for him to say what might be most beneficial for the Northern towns; bat from his knowledge of the Metropolis he could say that if the Bill became law it would bring down upon the Government an immense responsibility. The measure would not carry out the objects which its promoters had in view; but it would cause a great deal of irritation, and would induce men to drink in secret more than they would be disposed to do in public, and to consume the vilest compounds. He protested against a majority ruling a minority in this matter. A large number of Petitions had, no doubt, been presented in favour of the Bill; but those Petitions were signed by people who did not use public-houses, and who wished to prevent other people having an opportunity of using them. He was most anxious, in every possible manner, to promote temperance; but he certainly did not think that the closing of public-houses on Sunday would have that result. They should be very careful how they restricted the liberty of the people; and he hoped the House would give a vote upon the Bill that afternoon which would settle the question for some time time to come.


The hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) represents a Metropolitan constituency, and though I have not the honour to represent a Metropolitan constituency, I have the honour to represent one that is very close to London, and in the South of England. If the Bill is passed in its present despotic form, utterly irrespective of those principles of Local Option which have been so frequently advocated in this House on both sides—if this Bill were passed in its present form, the pleasures of thousands of people who now seek the sea breeze at Brighton would be immensely curtailed, if not utterly destroyed. A good deal of reference has been made to the feeling of the Northern towns upon this question. I have great respect for the Northern towns; but if the Northern workmen have not sufficient control over themselves to take only a sufficient amount of alcoholic liquors, is that any reason why they should stop, or attempt to stop, workmen and other people in the South of England from taking them? I have heard that in some of the large towns, famed for their practical intelligence, there is an immense amount of drunkenness; but if their drunkenness thus goes hand-in-hand with their intelligence, are those who have less intelligence to be punished for those who have more, and are yet unable to keep sober? The subject that is brought before the House by this Bill is a very important one. With the object of the Bill there is no doubt that every person must cordially and heartily sympathize. Everybody wants to see temperance promoted and intemperance checked. The real question is, will not this Bill produce greater evils than exist under the present laws? I do not know what other hon. Members of this House may think; but I must say that I watch with very great anxiety the principle that is now finding great favour—that is, of State interference with the private affairs of life. The Liberalism which prevails at the present day is not, I regret to say, of the robust type of the Liberalism of 50 years ago, which had such exponents as Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Sir William Molesworth, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Richard Cobden, and the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright). The principle of that Liberalism was that the loss the State interfered with individual liberty, and the more it left individuals to control themselves, the better it was for individuals, and the better also for the State. This Bill proposes to take away the liberty of the country at a stroke, and interferes directly with the convenience of the entire working class of the country. That seems to me a very grave step for this House to take. Now, Sir, we know that before this restrictive legislation has been put in force that the habits of drunkenness and of intemperance have decreased enormously during the last few years in this country. What are the causes of drunkenness? Drunkenness, 50 or 60 years ago, was not con- fined to the lower classes as it is now. The higher classes were contaminated with the vice, find the youth of the country at our Universities were contaminated with it. The reason why it has since disappeared from thorn is, not that restrictive measures have exercised a beneficial coercion, but because young men have been able to cultivate better and move healthy tastes, through the agency of Associations for promoting sports and amusements, and innocent recreation. What applies to the gentry applies equally well to the working classes; and if we are asked what really are the remedies for drunkenness, I should say that the best remedy is to promote education, to promote recreation, and to open Parks and open spaces, where the poorer classes can have their cricket and other games and amusements of all kinds. We know that 25 years ago there was not a single Working Man's Club in the whole of the United Kingdom. At the present time I believe there are over 1,000, the great majority of which are non-political. The working classes meet there, and amuse themselves at billiards, or in other ways. At a number of them intoxicating liquors are sold. Drunkenness is never heard of at these Clubs, for the rules are against it, and the members enjoy the same privileges as the richer classes hare at their Clubs. These are the instruments which we ought to rely upon for decreasing the evil of drunkenness. I am aware that to spend money on educating the people is a more tedious thing than bringing Bills into Parliament which will have a compulsory effect; but it is a much more certain and a much more sure way of dealing with the question. There is no doubt that statistics show that in the last 50 years the condition of the working classes has improved in every way, and in a much greater ratio than the position of the upper classes. For these reasons, I think that we ought not to have regard to any of these compulsory measures. They are sure to fail, and there is one way in which they may fail and work an enormous evil. I have spoken of Working Men's Clubs, and there is no better thing than a legitimate Working Man's Club; but this measure is calculated to produce what I may call a bogus Working Man's Club, or a public-house without a licence, and nothing could be worse than this. All these, I think, are reasons why hon. Members should vote against the Bill. The hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who is much interested in this subject, had recourse to a Resolution in favour of Local Option, which I supported; but I know that Resolution was differently interpreted by hon. Members. I consider that the Local Authority should have power over the licensing of public-houses. In 1835 the power of licensing public-houses was given to Town Councils by the Municipal Corporation Bill; but that portion of the Bill was struck out by the Peers. In my opinion, it is a pity it was so struck out. I should like to see the control in this matter in the hands of the town authorities. I do not know that it would diminish public-houses; it may possibly increase them. As regards what was said by the Home Secretary when he asked what power has the House to deal with such legislation, I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman had recourse to that same retort, which, I am sorry to say, the Government have recourse to when they have not done that which they ought to have done. He cast his glances over to the Opposition side of the House, and intimated that those who sit there are responsible for what he culls want of legislation. I distinctly repudiate that. If there is any blame to attach to anybody it is solely and entirely to Her Majesty's Government. Instead of bringing in measures which would interest the whole people, they choose to bring in measures which are political engines for increasing political power, and which cannot tend to the amelioration of the condition of the people. There was one measure promised by the Government when it was returned to power, that was County Government; and if that Bill were brought in, the whole subject of licensing might have been dealt with. That course would have been far more acceptable to Members generally than to compel them to vote for measures dealing with only particular counties. If the Government had brought in a good Bill dealing with the Licensing Question it would have been supported by the majority of the House; but by the course they have pursued we are now compelled to wait for an indefinite period.


said, that, as it was not yet 5 o'clock, he could speak without incurring the suspicion of desiring to talk the Bill out. On behalf of the constituency which he represented (Sheffield), he would vote against the Bill now before the House. He believed that the majority of his constituents were opposed to the Bill. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] An hon. Member opposite said "No, no!" but he wished it to be distinctly understood that he had been returned to Parliament in spite of his having refused to give any pledge to support this Bill. He believed the feeling of the borough which he represented had increased against a measure of this character since his election. There existed in that borough a temperance party, which was not behind any other temperance party in any other borough in the extreme character of its action. Not only that, but he would remark, seeing some extremely large Petitions in front of him, that he had himself, two years ago, presented a Petition against the Bill which was a quarter of a mile in length, and which was signed by householders who gave their names, addresses, and occupations. Under these circumstances, he was opposed to the restriction which it was sought to impose on the liberty of the subject by the hon. Member for South Shields, he was aware that it was argued that there was a great public desire in favour of the Bill. That might be; but popular desire should not be allowed to control private liberty. It was only when private liberty was opposed to the public welfare that such restriction would be justified. It was only when the breach of self-regarding duties was carried to excess that the State had a right to interfere. To interfere with the right of private individuals to obtain refreshments was one of those instances in which the right of the State would be pushed to excess. With those views he should vote for the Amend merit. It was rather in the direction of restrictions that the House should endeavour to move. If the measure was good for Sunday it was equally good for every day in the week. Such legislation would, he thought, be better directed to the Saturday evenings, when the working man had his wages burning in his pocket. The Bill, too, if good for any time, was good for any place, and, therefore, was just as applicable to London as to any other part of the country. But the hon. Member found such a weight of public opinion against him on that point that he would not dare to keep London in the Bill.


said, he was opposed to the now custom of reading a Bill a second time on the understanding that a totally different measure should come out from Committee; and, as had been pointed out by his hon. Friend (Mr. Stuart-Wortley), the promoters of the Bill were prepared to excise from its scope something like 5,000,000 people within the Metropolitan area. He looked upon the Bill as an electioneering measure. He was an advocate for getting rid of the drinking habits of the people on Sunday, and allowing the publicans to have their Sundays to themselves; but, in his opinion, such an object should be attained by degrees—by gradually diminishing the hours during which intoxicating liquors might be sold. It was not merely on Sundays, but on week-days as well, that additional restrictions should be imposed upon the liquor traffic. He had always looked with disfavour on the alteration which had been made in Lord Aberdare's Bill. It was much more reasonable to close public-houses at half-past 11 than at half-past 12; and, therefore, the last Parliament committed an error of judgment in extending the hours of drinking on week days in the Metropolis. The whole Metropolis, which was seven miles by nine miles in extent, ought not to be made to conform to the tastes of the Strand, and throe or four other streets with an inconsiderable population. They should be very cautious in what they did, because instead of bringing about what they all desired—namely, a gradual shortening of the hours during which drink might be sold, they might produce a revulsion of feeling which would throw the matter back for years. Beer was the only good healthy beverage an Englishman could drink. An hon. Member (Mr. E. Collins) had said he drank nothing but water for the first 28 years of his life. He must be a remarkable exception to the general body of mankind, for milk was, he thought, the universal diet in early years. He admitted that there was a strong opinion in the North of England in favour of the Bill, irrespective of politics. But it was to be remembered that a few years ago a too stringent Liquor Bill had been passed, which Parliament was soon after obliged to repeal. He regretted that this Bill had been pressed forward instead of the measure for curtailing the hours during which public-houses should be open on Sundays, and which would have met with cordial support in all parts of the House. The Home Secretary had complained that the Government had not had an opportunity of dealing with many social questions, owing to the persistent Obstruction that they constantly met with. He regretted the absence of the Prime Minister; but could not refrain from saying that he was certainly the greatest Obstructionist in the House. Only a few days ago he occupied not less than 17 minutes in answering a simple Question. The right hon. Gentleman ought to take a lesson from the Home Secretary and abridge his remarks, thus affording the Government an opportunity of carrying out domestic and social legislation.


In the course of this debate a great many hon. Members have expressed their opinions as to what would or what would not happen in the event of this Sunday Closing Bill being accepted by the House and passed into law. I think it would, perhaps, be well, and might prove useful to the House, if those who have had some little experience in other countries as to what really does happen when similar measures have been adopted and put into force were to state to the House the nature of that experience. Now, Sir, it happened that in the year 1879 my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) and myself spent some six months in America; and I remember that on one occasion, when we were at a place called Dallas, in Texas, we went one Sunday evening to the Cathedral, and there heard a very eloquent discourse from the Bishop, who, however, like a good many other eloquent men, detained us for a very long time while he preached his most excellent sermon. The result was that when we returned to the inn where we were staying we found that the room in which the refreshment were usually served had been shut up and that we could not get any tea. On my suggesting to the waiter that instead of a cup of tea it would be possible that a bottle of lager beer or stout might be obtained at the bar, he informed us that the bar had been shut up all day; and, consequently, we were obliged to go thirsty and supperless to bed. Upon my mentioning to a friend at the breakfast-table on the following morning what had occurred over night, he said to me—"Are you not aware that there are always two doors to the bar?" I replied that I was not aware of that fact; and he rejoined—"On the next occasion when you are told that the bar is shut up, ask to be shown where the backdoor is." Well, Sir, it happened that on the very next Sunday my hon. Friend and I were staying at an hotel in a large town in the central portion of America, and we thought we would try the experiment which had been thus suggested by our friend at Dallas. Accordingly, towards the evening of that day, being in want of some refreshment, we asked where the back-door of the bar was, and, to our great astonishment, when we had been shown to the bar by that entrance, we found rather more persons regaling themselves in that portion of the hotel than were to be found there on other evenings during the week. On our happening to observe the singular fact that, although it was then still daylight, the window-blinds were all carefully drawn down and the gas lighted, I ventured to ask the reason for this, and was informed by the proprietor of the place that he had received a gentle hint from the police to the effect that if the officers happened to see that the bar was not closed it would be their duty to issue a summons, and in consequence of this the manager had considerately put down the blinds, so that the police might not be induced to take such a course. That, Sir, is what occurs in America; and I greatly fear that something of the same sort is not unlikely to prevail in this country should the House of Commons be induced to pass such a measure as this. In my opinion, it is the very worst mode of legislation to pass Acts of Parliament which may be thus evaded—laws that are merely called into existence for the purpose of satisfying the tender consciences of a few good men, but which are more or less repugnant to the feelings of the great majority of the people of this country. I may also inform the House—and I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Pell) will confirm what I am about to state—that in the town of Dallas, to which I have already referred, where such business is supposed to be put a stop to on a Sunday, we saw more drunken men than in any other town we visited while in America. I recollect that it was a very hot day when we were there, and early in the morning we saw a number of men on a common—or what we in England would call a common—just outside the city, regaling themselves with whisky, which they had, of course, secured overnight. Now, Sir, I am one of those who think that the hours during which the public-houses are open on a Sunday might be very usefully and properly curtailed; but I do object—especially in a country like England, where beer is the principal beverage of the people, and where it is impossible to get that beer on a Saturday night and keep it good and fresh until the Sunday morning—to the entire closing of the public-houses, which I think would be a very great hardship to the working classes. I shall, therefore, vote against the second reading of this Bill, and give my cordial support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot).


said, he had not heard a single argument in favour of the Bill which would not equally apply to every day in the week. He had been lately asked by a member of a religious body to vote against the Bill because drinking on Sunday was contrary to Divine law. If it was contrary to Divine law on Sunday, it must be so on every other day in the week. Some hon. Members might think it contrary to Divine law to cat hot meat on Sunday; others thought it contrary to Divine law to eat meat on Friday. He thought they might let alone the religious aspect of the question. Then, in regard to the question of drunkenness, it had been proved, beyond the possibility of doubt, that there were far fewer cases of drunkenness on Sunday than on any other day in the week. How was it possible, then, to deduce from that the necessity of passing this unjust law? The hon. Member hoped to carry the second reading by the votes of Members on his own-side, many of whom believed there was a strong political force at the back of the measure; and he (Mr. Bentinck) was satisfied that if they only had vote by Ballot in the House they would not get 50 Members to vote for it. The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) had obtained a Return which was very useful reading. He found that in Cumberland, where he believed there was no desire for this Bill, in a population of 115,000 the number of persons arrested for drunkenness in the year was only 116; but in the city of Carlisle, where the influence of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was paramount, out of a population of 36,000 there were 108 arrests, or nearly as many as in the whole county, with a population of 115,000. He also found that a vast proportion of those arrested on Sunday for drunkenness really got the drink on Saturday night, so that the drunkenness on Sunday was really very much less. There really was hardly time to get drunk on I Sunday. The houses closed at 11, and were not open again until half-past 12; then they were closed again at half-past 2, and open again at 6. It was impossible that any large number could get drunk within those times. Drunkenness had decreased among the middle classes, and would in time decrease among the lower. When he was at the University, cases of drunkenness were of every day occurrence; but now it was not so. He remembered being asked to join a Club, one of whose rules was that five toasts should be drunk, and a bottle of port consumed in drinking them; he did not feel that he could carry so much liquor, so he declined to join the Club. Matters were completely changed now, and he should like to ask the hon. Members for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and Drogheda (Mr. Whitworth) whether it was really intended that persons should not be allowed to obtain refreshment on Sunday? He could hardly believe that they would maintain that proposition; but if they closed the public-houses on Sunday he should like to know where men were to get even a morsel of bread—they might be starving and unable to supply their wants. Only last Sunday a man asked him for a penny to buy a bit of cheese, and he asked him where he was going to get it. He replied at the public-house. They were always crying about cheap bread, and were they really going to deny bread to the people on Sunday? If that were not so, he should like them to tell him where it was to be got aft or the Licensed Victuallers' houses were closed? But the most important point in the Bill was the injustice-winch it involved. Why did they deal with the Licensed Victualler only? Why did they not attack Clubs and private houses also? If they deprived the poor man of his enjoyment on Sunday, why did they not also attack the Sovereign in her Palace, or the great Duke in his Palace? Why were they to be treated differently from poor persons? He would put it to the hon. Member whether he did not know perfectly well that in London there were a great many proprietary Clubs; and he asked him if it was proposed by this Bill to close these houses? ["Divide!"] He did not wonder at Members desiring to divide. He was strongly of opinion that in this matter, as in others, force was no remedy. He was as much in favour of temperance as any man in the world, but the present Bill was not consistent; it was only a piecemeal Bill, and for the reasons he had given he should oppose it.


said, he wished to give in a very few words the reasons why he could not vote for this Bill. In the first place, it involved the tyranny of a minority over the majority of the country. Further, he felt that the measure which had been brought forward was only preliminary to a far wider measure—the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors not only on Sunday, but on every day in the week. If there had been an increase of drunkenness there might be some reason for the measure; but there was nothing of the kind, he was in the habit of going about a good deal in the country on Sunday, and he saw nothing but perfect order on that day; a case of drunkenness very rarely came under his notice. As to Petitions, they knew how they were got up, and the power that was behind the agitation. Sunday closing, where it had been introduced, had not produced any diminution in drunkenness. The Report of the Inland Revenue showed that in England, where Sunday closing was not in force, there had been a decrease in the quantity of spirits consumed of 1.73. In Scotland, where Sunday closing was in force, the decrease was only 0.7 per cent; and in Ireland, where it was also in force, there had been an actual increase. If these Returns proved anything, it was that in places where Sunday closing prevailed there was an increase in the con- sumption of alcoholic liquors. There could be no doubt that the influence of temperance was causing a diminution in, the drinking habits of the country. Why, then, was it necessary to interfere in the manner proposed by the Bill? He protested against the proposal to treat the working man as a child, by assuming that he could not pass a public-house without getting drunk.


said, he had been waiting in his place all the afternoon to catch the Speaker's eye, but had not succeeded. He desired to contradict the statement, which had been made by several hon. Members representing the Southern constituencies, that the reason why the feeling in favour of the Bill was strong in the North of England was that the people there were more given to drinking habits than others. That notion was quite unfounded. The working classes of Lancashire would compare well with the working classes in any other part of the country. With regard to his own constituency, he had been pressed by both sides; but he must bear testimony to their sobriety, for he had lately passed an evening with a large number of the working classes where there was opportunity to drink to excess, and the conduct, on the whole, would have done credit to an assembly of any social class. The intention of the Bill, as expressed in the Memorandum, was to make the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays illegal. But the Bill itself, instead of this, proposed that licensed houses should be closed on Sunday. He thought that in making that proposal they were going on a wrong principle. It would be better to seek to encourage the sale of non-intoxicating drinks by confining the prohibition during certain hours to the sale of alcoholic liquors. It must be admitted by hon. Members who supported the Bill that they were rather shy of referring to the experiment in Wales. The Home Secretary had obtained a somewhat favourable expression of opinion; but it certainly did not agree with the information which had reached him, which was of the kind to which other Members had access, and he believed that most of them had arrived at the conclusion that the experiment had been by no means successful.


said, his breakfast-table had been covered every morning with pamphlets on both sides of the question, and if he had read everything it would have taken the whole day. The conclusion to which he was driven was that anything could be proved by figures. There were, however, many enthusiasts in the good cause who thought no one ought to drink a glass of beer. He had himself heard it said in Exeter Hall that a moderate drinker was worse than a drunkard; and when he heard such a statement, he could not help thinking that the speaker had lost his own common sense by drinking too much water. The claim of the advocates of Sunday closing to place to their credit the diminished amount of drinking which took place was not well-founded. Other causes were at work, and especially the general tendency to sobriety which, existed. The lower classes followed the lead of the upper. In former times drunkenness was considered no disgrace; but if a man in society now exceeded the bounds of moderation, he soon found that he had made a serious mistake. If the House passed that Bill they would lay themselves open to the charge of making one law for the rich and another for the poor. The poor man, having no Club to go to, should not be deprived of his reasonable privilege. Let them punish the drunkard, and punish him heavily; but let them leave the sober man in possession of his privileges, so that he might be an example to his weaker brethren.


said, he hoped the Bill would not pass, because they were all in a false position with regard to it. The Mover, because he had brought in a Bill without any reflection whatever, which was clear from his willingness to exclude the Metropolis from its provisions. The Government were in a false position, because under an engagement to bring forward the question of Local Government, in which was to be included the question of Local Option; and the House was in a false position, because they had two propositions before them in regard to neither of which were they agreed. With reference to the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, he must say, without having time to go through them in detail, that his observations in the case of Wales were very slight indeed. He only quoted one opinion—that of the stipendiary at Swansea. He (Mr. Warton) could quote many cases to show that the Act had not worked success- fully there; but he would content himself with the case of Cardiff. In April, 1883, seven months after the Act had come into operation, the Chief Constable of Cardiff reported to the Watch Committee that the convictions for drunkenness on Sunday had increased 60 percent. The Home Secretary did not say a word about Cardiff. During those seven months there were established 12 additional Clubs, and the Chief Constable stated his belief that no fewer than 48 persons were engaged in carrying on an illicit trade. In October a; still further increase was reported.

It being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.

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