HC Deb 28 April 1884 vol 287 cc753-5

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, seeing that his proposals on Thursday did not enable the House to arrive at any decision on the Irish Sunday Closing Bill, he is now prepared to name an early day for the Second Reading?


asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in view of the fact that the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill was not reached on Thursday or Friday last, he will state what arrangements he proposes to make in order that the House may have an opportunity of arriving at a decision on the Second Beading of the Bill?


Before answering these Questions, will the right hon. Gentleman permit me to ask if he has seen the report of a public meeting of the St. David's Temperance Society, held at Cardiff on the 15th instant, under the chairmanship of the Roman Catholic Bishop, at which the Rev. Father Richardson made the following statement respecting Sunday closing? He said:— It had become a practice for women to get in on Saturday night as many barrels of beer as they could smuggle past the police, and that such places existed all over the town. Yet the police did not, or could not, or would not, or dare not, find them out. A more terrible sight could not meet the eyes of a clergyman than the scenes which were to be found in such places. The room was full to suffocation; there was a cask in the corner of the room, another stowed under the stairs, and probably another elsewhere. The neighbours handed their jugs over the backyard walls, and they were supplied more freely than they could be in a public-house. They saw young girls sitting on the knees of young men, with their arms round their necks, and both the girls and the young men the worse for drink. Not only that, but little children were taken into the room and dosed with beer until they became drunk. A more abominable effect of closing public-houses he could not conceive possible. It was one of the most terrible things that afflicted the town. This was the result of Sunday closing. And the Rev. Father Butler added his testimony to the like effect, as follows:— Father Butler, in seconding the resolution, wondered that the Sunday Closing Bill for Wales had not been called Sunday opening. Whereas there were only five clubs before the Act came in force, there were now 30. In his district, the place was infested with them. They were paying, and consequently increased. They promoted drunkenness among young people, and caused people to drink who never drank before, and people who did drink before to drink more. If the Act were repealed, and repealed it must be, things would get better. He thought it was a misfortune that the Act ever passed. There was now more drunkenness, more sin, more iniquity of every kind committed in Cardiff than ever there was before. And whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that great haste is required for legislation to place Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Belfast under a Sunday Closing Law similar to that which, according to the testimony of the Catholic clergy of Cardiff, has produced such evil results in that town?


My attention has not been called to the various statements referred to by the hon. Member for Waterford; but it is a fair subject for discussion on the Bill in question; and I hope, therefore, it may be the means of making us still more desirous of providing time for the discussion of it. With regard to the two other Questions, the House is aware that, on Friday last, owing to a proceeding in which the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) took a principal part, not only was the Bill not reached, but the Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Bill was not finished. I am extremely disappointed with the proceedings, because the effect was not only to make it impossible to proceed with the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill, but also to render it doubtful whether any good can be achieved either for that or any other Business, at a Day Sitting, by an exact repetition of those proceedings. The Government will, therefore, carefully look out for the first opportunity that may offer itself to call the attention of the House to the Rule whereby Bills are prevented from coming on again.