§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that as no statement was made on introducing the Bill, it would be respect- 1000 ful to the House that he should make some remarks on the present occasion, although it was very seldom that so important a Bill as that, and one which excited so much interest, could be argued in so narrow a compass. The Bill contained two propositions—the first, to render the closing of public-houses on Sunday perpetual throughout those parts of Ireland where they were already closed; and the second, to extend Sunday closing to the five towns which were at the present time exempted. Those were propositions which could, to a certain extent, be argued together; because if it could be proved that the effect of closing public-houses on Sundays was advantageous, they should have a reason, not only for making it perpetual in the parts of Ireland where it was at present in force, but for extending it to those towns where it was not in force; unless some special reason could be shown to the contrary. Now, on the question whether Sunday closing had been a blessing to the community, there was certainly a difference of opinion; and the unfavourable view was expressed, as well as it could possibly be expressed, by a very important deputation which waited on him on January 27th last year. That deputation handled the case against Sunday closing very ably; and he promised not to put by their views lightly, and to make extensive inquiries as to the operations of the Act where it was in operation, and its probable operations in the parts where it was not already in force. He directed those inquiries with special reference to the arguments used by the deputation. He called, as he promised to call, for the opinions of a great number of Government officials all the country over, some of whom were responsible for the order of the various districts; and others, the Local Government Board officers, who were conversant with the social state of the country, and who had both of them considerable opportunity of collecting the public opinion of the country on subjects which could not be classed as political. He had studied the statistics resulting from those inquiries closely, in the light of the very broad combinations in which they had been placed by the advocates and opponents of the measure, and he had come to the conclusion that Sunday closing had been a great and almost 1001 unmixed benefit to those parts of the country where it had been in operation, and that it might be hopefully and confidently extended to the five exempted towns. The Sunday closing measure practically came into operation in the last quarter of 1878. It was supposed to come into operation immediately it passed; but the existing licences, running until the 18th of October in that year, 1879, was the first year in which experience was had of the working of the new system. In the four years preceding Sunday closing, the Sunday arrests for drunkenness were as follows: — In 1875, 5,200; in 1876, 5,900; in 1877, 5,600; and in 1878, 5,400. He was now referring to Ireland outside the five exempted towns. Late, in 1878, came the Sunday Closing Act; and, in 1879, Sunday arrests dropped at once to 2,400. In the towns that were exempted from the Act, except so far as it curtailed the hours of sale, the arrests for Sunday drunkenness were in 1878, 4,500, and in 1879, 4,300. Now, the diminution in one year of Sunday drunkenness by one-half of what it had been was, in itself, a gain to humanity of enormous magnitude. Sunday was the day on which the working classes had leisure, and the day on which the habits of the week, and often of the life, were formed. Therefore, the sudden fall of 50 per cent in the Sunday drunkenness meant that a great number of young working men and lads would never acquire drinking habits; and that a great number of homes would, in the future, be spared an amount of misery which it was scarcely possible to calculate. Many statistics had been adduced, and with considerable success, to show that, in the exempted towns, there had been a great falling off of drunkenness; but what those figures had not proved, and what they could never prove, was that it would not be a great benefit to Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick, if, between one year and another, the number of persons intoxicated on Sundays suddenly fell off to one-half what it was at present. This was a point which had, he thought, been passed over by the opponents of the measure. There was an immense margin for improvement in the amount of drunkenness in those towns; for, relatively to population, Sunday drunkenness was five times as great in 1002 the exempted as it was in the other parts of Ireland. In the exempted towns the population was 681,000; the Sunday arrests in last year were 2,923; that was, 1 in 230 of the population. In the rest of Ireland, the population was 4,650,000; the Sunday arrests were 3,736. That was, 1 in 1,220 of the population. If hon. Gentlemen could bring together any figures or arguments to shake that fact, they would do much to defeat the Bill; for upon that broad, simple, and significant fact, the main argument of the Bill stood, and he believed it stood safely. He would next take the proportion of Sunday and week-day drunkenness in the exempted and included towns respectively. In the non-exempted towns, there were 3,736 cases of Sunday drunkenness, and on week days, 64,800. That was, in the part of Ireland where Sunday closing was in force, there was one case of Sunday drunkenness to 17 of week-day drunkenness; while, in the exempted districts, the cases of Sunday drunkenness were 2,923, and of weekday drunkenness were 18,689, or one case of Sunday drunkenness to six of week-day drunkenness. That was to say, instead of Sunday being purer and better, it was in the non-exempted towns somewhat more disreputable and discreditable than any other day in the week. But, beside the evidence of figures, he wished to lay before the House the evidence of men who were well qualified to judge; and it was impossible to exaggerate the importance of the testimony he had obtained from the Bishops and clergymen of the two Churches, and of other denominations, doctors, Town Councillors, Poor Law Guardians, and other professional classes, all of which had been frequently quoted, and was well known. He wished also to have official opinion, and in considering the question he had determined to institute an inquiry which would cover the whole of Ireland and the whole case, and he accordingly addressed a number of questions to all the Resident Magistrates, the questions being almost entirely taken from the arguments upon which the opponents of the Bill relied for their opposition. The first question was—"Whether the Act tends to promote the peace of the country, and order and sobriety?" To this question, from Connaught, he got 21 answers, all of them favourable to the Act; from 1003 Munster, 26 answers, 24 being strongly favourable, one unfavourable, and one doubtful, or, at any rate, cold.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he was not able to supply the hon. Member with that information on the spot. From Ulster he obtained 12 answers, all favourable; and from Leinster 18 answers, all favourable. The next question was—"Whether the Act had led to an increase of shebeen houses." Sixty-two stated it had not led to an increase; six that it had; and six spoke in a qualified manner, stating it had not done so to any considerable extent. The next question was—"Whether it had led to unlawful sales, and drinking in unlawful hours?" It was obvious here a very favourable answer could not be expected; for, of course, a restricting law always increased the occasions for breaking the law. To this question, out of 74 Resident Magistrates 25 answered in the negative very decidedly, and 20 very decidedly in the affirmative. The others gave qualified answers, implying that the difference was not very appreciable; but it was plain that there was a considerable amount of drinking in unlawful hours and evasion of the Act on Sundays. The next question was—" Did it lead to an increase of illicit distillation?" Out of 74 Resident Magistrates, all but three were in the negative, and these three were to the effect that it might possibly have done so. On this point, the general figures showed that the number of illicit stills detected in seven years before the passing of the Act, was 840; while, in eight years, under the Act they only numbered 740. It should be remembered that last year there were only eight cases of illicit stills found in the whole of Scotland, and that was higher than in the nine previous years. But if the arguments of the opponents of the measure were valid, as Scotland had been for many years under the operation of the Act, the country should now be filled with illicit stills. Finally he asked—"What is the opinion as to the justice and expediency of the Act among the people whom it most affected?" Upon this point, the Reports of the Resident Magistrates, as to the public opinion of their districts, was most remarkably strong in 1004 favour of the Act. The result was virtually such as to settle the opinion and the action of the Government. The Executive might have left the matter alone, and might have remained in ignorance of the feeling about it; but when once they had inquired and satisfied themselves that the opinion of the people was favourable to the permanence and extension of Sunday closing, he maintained they could take no course but that which he now asked the House to take. Besides the inquiry of Resident Magistrates, they inquired of a few Inspectors of the Local Government Board. Two Reports he had got, and two only, from them. The first stated that in a very important town of Ireland there was a considerable number of publicans in favour of the Bill; and added that some of the leading publicans already closed their houses on Sunday, and that others would willingly do so if they were emancipated from the pressure and commercial danger of competition. The other Report was from Dr. M'Cabe, who stated that he had spoken to many persons well acquainted with the wishes and feelings of the artizans and labourers of Dublin on this question. The result of all the information he had gained, as to the wishes of the class who were supposed to make use of public-houses on Sundays, and who would be inconvenienced by the measure, might be stated thus—The artizans and labourers might be divided into three classes: first, the honest and hard-working men who devoted their wages to the support of their families; they did not resort to public-houses on Sundays, and were in favour of the total closing. If he (Mr. Trevelyan) had been making this Report, he should have left out the word "honest," because there was no question at all of the honesty of the artizans and labourers of Dublin. The Report proceeded to state that the second class, consisting of hard drinkers, was in favour of public-houses being open at all hours and in all places; and these people could get drink, whether the public-houses were open or not. The third was a very numerous class; including those who were weak of purpose and easily led by bad company to drink. These would be safe from temptation, if public-houses were closed on Sundays, and they were in favour of being spared a source of temptation 1005 which they had not always courage to resist. He would add that, with regard to the wives in all the three classes, they were in favour of total closure. That was the opinion, so far as it went, in favour of the Act, and it must be remembered that it was a growing opinion. As the Act became more and more familiar to the people, as a generation grew up, whose habits were formed under its influence, the class who resented it and tried to evade its provisions would become smaller and smaller. The experience of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act in Scotland was certainly in favour of a similar measure for Ireland. He had received a letter from an intelligent and influential Scotchman, who had a considerable acquaintance with Scotch working men, being one himself for a long period of his life, and who had raised himself from the position, and who had had great experience of the operation of the Act. His correspondent said that he could well remember the great amount of irritation which the closing of licensed houses at first caused; but, year by year, the law was becoming more and more accepted. Sunday drinking was almost unknown, and attendance at work on Mondays was much more punctual and regular. His correspondent even went so far as to say that the Scotch drinksellers themselves would hardly ask to have the Act repealed. It would be said that this was all very well for the country districts and smaller towns in Ireland; but it would not do for the large towns and for Dublin. His Excellency, therefore, thought it right to consult the Recorder and the Dublin Magistrates, directing attention especially to the probability of disturbance in consequence of the Act being put in force in Dublin. On this last point, their answers fully re-assured Lord Spencer and those who acted with him. With one exception, all the gentlemen who were responsible for the peace of Dublin were in favour of Sunday closing. Indeed, the position of the excepted districts was one especially disadvantageous to those who were responsible for the preservation of order, for it was not a good thing to have one law for one place, and another for another. The Dublin Metropolitan Police district was infested by roughs from the neighbouring petty sessions districts, who came into Dublin for the sole purpose 1006 of getting drink. But any question as to the difference between the large towns and the rest of the country was entirely disposed of by the evidence of Glasgow. Glasgow had twice the population of Dublin, and an Irish population very much larger than Limerick, and twice larger than that of Waterford. The Forbes-Mackenzie Act came into operation in 1854. During the three years preceding, the average number of persons arrested for drunkenness on Sunday in Glasgow was 26; during the three years following, the number was less than 10, and, as compared with week-days, there was now, on an average, nine or 10 arrests on a week-day and one on Sunday. The Chief Constable of Glasgow reported that the police-stations were now extremely quiet on a Sunday, especially the Central Station, and that there was often not a single arrest on that day. That immense advantage had been purchased without any detriment to the public peace. In Edinburgh the effect of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was that the Sunday arrests fell from an average of seven to an average of two. He also held in his hand a Return of the arrests for drunkenness in Scotland in towns of over 29,000 of a population. He took that number because it came as near as possible to the population of Waterford; and therefore the comparison with Irish towns, other things being equal, was perfectly legitimate. In Aberdeen, between 6 on Saturday morning and 6 on Sunday morning—that was to say, roughly, on Saturday, there were 413 persons arrested for drunkenness in the course of the year. On Sunday there were only 32. In Edinburgh, there were 935 persons arrested for drunkenness on Saturdays; on Sundays there were 98. In Glasgow, 5,956 persons were arrested on Saturdays; on Sundays there were only 427. In Perth, 77 persons were arrested on Saturdays; and only 6 on Sundays. In Greenock, which was a remarkable exception, 713 persons were arrested on Saturdays; and 36 on Sundays. In Paisley, 482 on Saturdays; and 71 on Sundays; and, if he took his own constituency, which grouped was about the size of Waterford, there were 74 people arrested on Saturdays; and only 6 on Sundays. These Returns afforded a pretty fair conclusive answer to the allegation that secret drinking would take the place 1007 of public drinking on Sundays. In his own house, a man was surrounded by wholesome influences, which prevented him from going wrong; but, in a public-house, he was served as long as he had money to pay, or people to treat him; and the company he met there was made up of the sort of people who were likely to lead him onward in the downward track. There was a great deal of talk about there being one law for the rich and another for the poor. In his opinion, they ought to have one law for the rich and another for the poor—[Laughter.]—he meant the same for the rich and for the poor. He was quite certain that if the poor, like the rich, drank only at home at their meals, there would be much less drunkenness among them; it would be a very good thing for the rich man, who frequented the bar of an hotel, if he could be made to desist from doing so; and if the poor man had not enough of self-control to have a stock of drink to suit his requirements, he must be a very poor man indeed. They were told that, by passing this Act, they would be confining these people to their wretched homes. Their homes would be wretched as long as they spent in keeping up the splendour of gin palaces the money which should make their homes comfortable. In arguing this question he felt sure hon. Gentlemen forgot how very large proportion of the working men's income went in drink. It was not an exaggeration to say that in numberless cases as much as 7s. or 8s.—or one-third—of the weekly wages of working men, earning a guinea, or 23s., or 24s., frequently went in this way. What would be thought of a landed proprietor or professional gentleman, who spent one-third of his income in drink? Why, he would be regarded as a fit person for a lunatic asylum. He wanted to pass this Bill in order that there might be one law for both the rich and the poor; for he was in favour of no distinction being made between them. That the poor might learn what was best in the habits of the rich; that they might take their Sunday meal in the company of those who looked up to them for assistance; and have enough left out of their weekly earnings to make that meal a much better one than it often was now; and to enable them to take Sunday excursions, with their children, which were much better for their health and happiness 1008 than all the public-houses in the world. In order to do that, they must abstain from public-houses, and from drinking in them on Sundays. He was convinced that an experience of five or 10 years, or a generation, would make the people almost unanimous in approval of the Act if it were extended, as the Bill proposed. It was for these reasons that he earnestly hoped that the House would give a second reading to the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Trevelyan.)
§ MR. M. BROOKS
said, he was sorry that the Bill had been sprung upon the House unexpectedly; and that, in consequence, neither of the hon. Gentlemen who had given Notice of their intention to move its rejection were in their places. He also regretted that someone more competent than he was had not risen to oppose the Bill in the interest of the working man. The working man, unfortunately, was not represented in that House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had dwelt at length upon the decrease in the convictions for drunkenness, and had given the House a great many figures, in order to prove—if they were correct and not misstatements made to him by the fanatics who had so great an interest in the Bill—that a great deal of good had resulted from the working of the Sunday Closing Bill in Ireland. Figures, it was well known, would prove almost anything. Although the right hon. Gentleman had shown—and, no doubt, it was correct—that, at the present, there were fewer convictions for drunkenness in Ireland in consequence of the working of this Act, he (Mr. M. Brooks) could assure the House that, although drunkenness might have decreased in the country districts, where the people had been prevented from following their ordinary and natural habits, the aversion and hatred towards the English people and the English Government had increased. He believed, indeed, that the administration of this law had been more disastrous in its results to the people than the drinking which formerly prevailed. He, for one, would rather see his fellow-countrymen free than sober. He believed that the Irish working man was not so free to indulge in social companionship 1009 as was his English or Scotch fellow-subject. From his connection, extending over many years, with the Irish working men, he had reason to know their opinions very well. He could say with great confidence, therefore, that, at least, a moiety of the working men of Dublin, if they had the power to send Members to the House to represent their opinions in regard to their freedom to indulge in social companionship on Sundays, would send Members who would certainly oppose the present Bill. He spoke in the interests of working men. He had no connection with brewers, or distillers of drink; neither had he any connection with the gentlemen whom the Chief Secretary for Ireland had described as fanatics, and who were the promoters of this Bill in Ireland. Dublin was the headquarters of that agitation; and, as between the so-called liquor interest on the one hand, and the practical Sunday closers on the other, he had maintained all through an impartial attitude on the question, and he intended to do so to the end. He was unable to concur in the views of the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of Sunday closing, and he could not support the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the good effect of Sunday closing in Scotland, and had read the opinion of a Scotchman upon the subject. He (Mr. M. Brooks) would read to the House, in the same way, the opinion given in a letter, by an ex-constable of the Royal Irish Constabulary, whose name for obvious reasons was not published, but which he would be willing to give to the right hon. Gentleman. The letter referred to the manner in which the Act was evaded, how she-beening had increased, and how this kind of legislation tended to give an impetus to the multiplication of infamous places of secret drinking. In reference to the answers which the right hon. Gentleman quoted as having been received from the county magistrates in favour of the Bill, he desired to point out that the great majority of these magistrates were Protestants and Sabbatarians. It would, therefore, be somewhat singular if they were not found to be in favour of Sunday closing; and that applied more especially to the North, where the people were almost Scotch in their habits and feelings. They would not permit the Catholics of Ireland to in- 1010 dulge in the harmless amusement and recreations which were common in all Roman Catholic countries as well as in Ireland; and he attached no weight whatever to the opinion of the county magistrates, who would prevent Irishmen from enjoying themselves in clubs or other places on Sunday. He did not quite gather whether the letter read by the right hon. Gentleman from Dr. MacCabe was understood to be from the Cardinal-Archbishop or from the Inspector of the Local Government Board of that name. He believed it was not the Cardinal-Archbishop; because His Eminence had not only spoken to him (Mr. M. Brooks) on the subject, but had written a letter to his hon. Colleague (Dr. Lyons), which he thought would have great weight. In that letter, which was written within the last few weeks, His Eminence had plainly expressed his opinion that total closing would be productive of evil results. Therefore, he had reason to know that Cardinal MacCabe was averse to the passing of the Sunday Closing Bill for Dublin; while with regard to his hon. Colleague, he would have been there that day to oppose it were it not for the sudden way the Bill had been brought on. As to whether there had been a decrease of drunkenness in Ireland since the passing of the Act, he should like to mention a few facts to the House. In 1882 there were five detections of illicit distillations in England, eight in Scotland, and 881 in Ireland. Last year the detections in England were 11; in Scotland, 16; in Ireland, 883. He asked the House what these figures meant? What was the use of shutting up public-houses when they were unable to shut up the shebeens? Nothing more dangerous to the people of a country could exist than illicit places for the distillation of spirits. Although 883 were discovered by the police, it was commonly believed that for every one detected there were five in existence. Many persons in Dublin knew that illicit distillation was common among the people, because they were prevented from obtaining their drink in a lawful manner. The result was, that the people were, not only poisoned by bad drink, but they were made lawbreakers; for the opinion prevailed among working men and others that there was no harm in breaking the law in this respect. The right hon. Gentle- 1011 man said that public opinion in Ireland was in favour of the Bill. He (Mr. M. Brooks) denied it. He believed there were not a dozen clergymen or laymen outside the "fanatics" who favoured the Bill. As he said, there had been a letter from the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin on the subject, in which he said that, if not disastrous, it would certainly be most imprudent. [Mr. BLAKE: Produce the letter.] It was not in his possession. ["Oh, oh!"] He supposed that the Dublin Corporation might be taken to fairly represent public opinion in Ireland, and they had expressed themselves in opposition to the Bill by presenting a Memorial to that effect at the Bar of the House. He would ask whether their opinion, and that of more than the majority of the Irish people, ought to have no weight against the opinions of English and Scotch Members? The law would not be the same for the rich as the poor. Clubs for the rich were open not only late on Saturday night, but through the whole of Sunday, while the public-house—the poor man's club—was closed; and he thought that the effect of the Bill would be far from advantageous to the mind of the working man, who saw these clubs open in all the best streets, while the public-houses were shut. The present occasion he believed to be inopportune, for within a few months the working men would have an opportunity of expressing their views under the new Franchise Bill through their elected Representatives in that House. He was clearly of opinion that if they were to have the Representation of the People Bill passed, they would have such a number of Members of Parliament opposed to the Bill sent to that House that they would oppose it successfully. Was there any urgency in the matter? He could see none. The Member who originally introduced this Bill was The O'Conor Don, and he, as well as his supporters, had been superseded by two Gentlemen who were both opposed to Sunday closing. He wished to mention that the constituencies in Ireland had rejected those who expressed themselves in favour of the Bill. This had been the case in Dublin both in 1874 and in 1880. In the former year Sir Dominic Corrigan, a man whose name was universally respected, and Mr. Jonathan Pim, put themselves forward as in favour of Sunday 1012 closing, and were both superseded. He believed that no candidate who had ever gone before an Irish constituency as an advocate of Sunday closing had been returned to Parliament. He, therefore, was warranted in saying that this was a piece of class legislation that would be rejected if the working men who would be affected by it could give their voice on the subject.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, the hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. M. Brooks) had made a series of most extraordinary statements, without giving a single fact to support them. He (Mr. Blake) denied that the last statement of the hon. Member was accurate. As a member of that Church to which the hon. Member, unfortunately for himself, did not belong, he could not allow him to state that one of its highest dignitaries was opposed to Sunday Closing. The hon. Member had stated, in the most distinct manner, that the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin (Cardinal MacCabe) had written a letter expressing opinions adverse to the Bill. He (Mr. Blake) held in his hand, however, a letter, which had been printed and published for some time, and which had not received any contradiction, purporting to be signed in 1882 by the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, and the Bishops of Limerick, Waterford, and several other dioceses, to the effect that they believed Sunday closing had diminished drunkenness, and that the Act should be made complete and effective, by the inclusion of the exempted cities. He took it for granted that the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, who wrote to that effect in 1882, would not write in the opposite direction in 1884. If his Eminence had done so in that short time where was the evidence? The hon. Member had further stated that the majority of the people were not in favour of this measure. The fact was that he (Mr. Blake) held in his hand declarations from a large number of Bishops in Ireland, some 19 or 20 in number, in favour of the Bill, including that of the Archbishop of Cashel, whose name would, he was certain, be received with great respect by many Irish Members, and who was anxious that the Bill should become law with as little delay as possible. There was therefore ample evidence in favour of the Bill; but he regretted to say that there was one 1013 Bishop in all Ireland—and he was so sorry for him that he would not mention his name—who had expressed himself not in unison with the other Bishops of Ireland. As to the argument of the hon. Member that the Corporation of Dublin were opposed to Sunday closing, the fact must be borne in mind that the vast majority of the Town Council were engaged in the liquor traffic, which was a very strong interest in the City of Dublin. It would, therefore, be an exceedingly extraordinary thing if they were to pronounce an opinion favourable to the Bill. The liquor traffic interest, indeed, was so strong now in the Council that it was a fact that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Meagher), for whom he had the greatest respect, was engaged in the liquor traffic, and was now Lord Mayor of Dublin. Another gentleman who was Lord Mayor elect was also engaged in the licensed trade; and the fact was, that no one had now much chance of getting into the Corporation who was not a publican. There could not be a stronger argument advanced for the lowering of the franchise in Dublin than this state of affairs in the Council; for, as the franchise stood at present, the public-house interest was in the ascendant. When that was done, he felt confident that the vast majority of working men would show themselves in favour of the Bill when selecting their municipal or Parliamentary Representatives. The hon. Member for the City of Dublin said that no Member who was an advocate of Sunday closing had ever been elected for an Irish constituency. Well, from the first hour, he (Mr. Blake) had been an advocate for Sunday closing, and had been four times returned for the City of Waterford, and had been returned for the county at the last Election, although, on this point, his sentiments were well known; and there were several other hon. Members in the same position. The reason the Bill was not extended to clubs was, that drinking was seldom carried on to excess in them, while the working man needed protection against himself. There was nothing which would afford such benefit to the country as a measure of this character. His own opinion went far beyond its proposals; and he believed that if a Seven-day Closing Bill was introduced and passed, 1014 and even every other statute in favour of Ireland, including Catholic emancipation, repealed, in 25 years' time the country would be in a far better state than it was at present. There was nothing for which the present Government deserved more credit, or more support, than their action on this question. He had understood that there was an intention on the part of some Members to talk the measure out; he would, therefore, abstain from quoting statistics. He could do so at length if he chose, and they would establish the fact that there was nothing so well calculated to add very materially to the peace, morality, and prosperity of the country as this measure, very inadequate though it was, for checking the greatest evil under which Ireland suffered.
§ MR. EUGENE COLLINS
said, he was sorry that on that, as on many previous, occasions, he should be obliged to oppose this Bill. He had given the subject involved probably as much attention as most men in his time, and the result of his most deliberate consideration was that he had not changed the opinion which he formed many years ago. He found no fault with the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had submitted that important Bill to the House. That right hon. Gentleman had dealt fairly with his main features; he had produced abundance of statistics from his own point of view, and he stated what he believed to be the opinion of the people of Ireland. Well, that was a very important subject. The measure had been before the House and the country for many years, and was very simple so far as concerned the principle involved. Instead of dealing with it upon its merits in general, he (Mr. Eugene Collins) preferred to take the challenge that had been offered to the opponents of the measure by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and to deal with it as shortly and as explicitly as it was in his power to do. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that, in his opinion, and in the opinion of the authorities he had consulted, the passing of this Bill would be a great blessing to Ireland. He (Mr. Eugene Collins) did not dissent from the doctrine that a limitation of intemperance would be one of the greatest blessings that could be conferred, not only on Ireland, but upon any country; and he would be the last man in the 1015 House to question the honesty, sincerity, and goodwill of those who advocated the measure—including, in the first place, that of the Catholic clergy who supported it. He respected that section of public opinion which he admitted to be in its favour, and he also respected those Colleagues of his in the House who honestly supported a measure of this kind. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had given a large body of statistics, derived from a certain source, and he had also consulted statistics. He (Mr. Eugene Collins) had had no opportunity, as the right hon. Gentleman had, of consulting the Resident Magistrates and other officials, who, no doubt, spoke their honest conceptions on the subject. But he had consulted the only public document at his disposal—one which the right hon. Gentleman would not be disposed to question—namely, the Criminal and Judicial Statistics of Ireland for the year 1883, and it had not borne out the results claimed for the Bill. By this document, he found that there had been a decrease of intemperance of 38 per cent in the exempted towns; whereas, in the rest of the country, there had been a decrease of only 7 per cent. And, comparing 1883 with 1873, he found there had been a decrease of intemperance of 40 per cent in the exempted cities, and an increase of intemperance to the amount of 20 percent in the rest of Ireland. He freely admitted that the amount of intemperance to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred was greatly to be deplored; and that the fact that one in 230 in the exempted towns was addicted to intemperance was an evil of a grave character; but the contention of the opponents of the measure was that, with facts before them such as he had cited, they could not shut their eyes to these facts and take up statistics such as those of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. There was an interesting matter—he would not trouble the House long with it—but it was that of the effect of Sunday closing in Wales. Taking the evidence from Wales, they would find not only that Sunday closing had not contributed to the diminution of intemperance, but that it led not only to intemperance, but also to evils of a grave character, which they would deplore still more. At a meeting in Wales, presided over by a dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church, who was a great advocate of temperance, he found 1016 some strong observations, which he should not read to the House, addressed to that temperance meeting by a Roman Catholic clergyman. He stated that the effect of Sunday closing in Wales was this — that it had become the practice, since the passing of the Bill, for women to get in on Saturday night as many barrels of beer as they could smuggle past the policemen. That existed all over the town. The same clergyman gave his own personal experience of those houses. He said—A more terrible sight could not meet the eyes of a clergyman than the scenes which were to be found in such places. The rooms were full to suffocation. There was a cask in the corner of the room, another stored under the stairs, and probably another elsewhere.He was unwilling to road the next sentence—[Cries of "Read!"]—though, probably, he ought not to pass it over—They saw young girls sitting on the knees of young men with their arms round their necks, both the girls and the young men smoking.This clergyman said that he signed a Petition in favour of Sunday closing in Wales; but experience had so changed his opinion, that nothing would induce him to do so again. Another Catholic clergyman who followed spoke in even stronger terms. His (Mr. Eugene Collins's) contention then was, that experience of this legislation, as well as information derived from the official statistics which he had received, strengthened the case of the opponents of this Bill, Another point which had always struck him was this—The people of Ireland, no doubt, had their faults, like others. No doubt, they had been more addicted to drink—["No, no!"]—more addicted to drink in some parts of the country, than some of them were elsewhere. But would anyone so malign the poor people of Ireland, as to say they were more addicted, in a general way, to the immoderate use of intoxicating liquors, than the people of other countries that most of them were acquainted with? It also occurred to him that there was no compulsion to use these drinks; people were not bound to go into public-houses. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had alluded to three classes mentioned by one of his informants. One class he called the honest, industrious classes; but, as the right hon. Gentleman had done, they would omit "honest" as being superfluous. 1017 As a rule, they were said to be in favour of closing. Then there were the habitual drunkards, who had the need of restrictive legislation, but would always find means for their indulgence. And, finally, there was a third class of weakly people, who gave way too readily to temptation. He would not touch the latter classes, but would deal with the honest, industrious population of Ireland. Whatever men's views might be, politically, morally, or in religion, he would say that, to restrain respectable men who were able to control themselves, who knew what was best for them, who went on a Sunday to a place of recreation with their respectable wives and their families—to deprive these men, by a severe legislative measure, of the opportunity of getting refreshments for their families seemed to him a monstrosity. It seemed almost a cruelty to impose such a limitation upon these poor people. Let hon. Members consider their own case if that were done to themselves; if they felt that refreshments of that kind were necessary and desirable for them, and they were told that they were not to have an opportunity of getting such refreshments; and if that were done by this drastic legislation, what would be the feelings of an independent Member of this House? The licensed victuallers and vintners of Ireland were a numerous body; and, taking them as a body, he believed they were as respectable, straightforward, honourable, well-living, and orderly a class of traders as you would find in any community. He challenged any Member of the House to dispute that statement, which was not a proposition, but an absolute fact. And if that statement could not be disputed, he should like to know why it was they were to be destroyed, in a sense—he would not say destroyed altogether—but damaged most certainly, without meeting them upon as fair and equitable a basis in the matter of compensation, as any other class in the community would be entitled to if they were deprived of a large portion of their business. This point deserved consideration as a matter of justice, equity, and right. On the 5th of March, 1880, he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, speaking in that House, upon a Motion introduced by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), make this statement— 1018I think we ought to go as far as this:—I am not prepared to say whether there is a case for compensation, or whether there is not a case for compensation, because that must depend upon particulars that are not now before us. We ought not to allow our prejudices with regard to this particular trade, or our sense of the enormous mischiefs associated with its working, to cause us to deviate by one hair's breadth from the principle upon which Parliament has always acted in analogous circumstances—namely, that where a vested interest has been allowed to grow up, the question of compensation should be considered when such vested interests were proposed to be interfered with by Act of Parliament. What I am prepared to say is neither more nor less than this—that the Licensed Victualler has the same right to fair consideration that is enjoyed by persons following every other trade or calling which is interfered with by Act of Parliament, and to whom compensation is awarded owing to such interference. We must not allow—I need not say that Gentlemen on this side of the House will not allow—any political feeling or prejudice to interfere with the rectitude of our judgment, or prevent us from giving the same measure of justice or indulgence to Licensed Victuallers that we should give to any other class in the community."— (3 Hansard,  469.)He would conclude with those just and equitable observations. He had submitted, as best he could, the case of the opponents of the Bill. If Government, with its strength, should pass the measure, he hoped they would give consideration to the points he had submitted to the House, on the authority of its Leader, as to the question of compensation to licensed victuallers. If he might venture to give advice, it would be this—that if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, after considering all the circumstances, while giving effect to the feelings of a large minority, or perhaps a majority, of the people of Ireland, could be induced to allow the licensed houses throughout the country to remain open for two hours on Sunday, he believed he would meet the case with a considerable amount of equity and justice; and he believed the measure would be accepted in a more friendly spirit than it would be now by a large section of those who were identified with the trade and by a large section of the public.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, the hon. Member for Kinsale (Mr. Eugene Collins) had endeavoured to make a good deal of capital out of the state of things in Wales, where Sunday closing had proved a comparative failure; but he (Colonel King-Harman) would remind the hon. Member that the Bill they were 1019 discussing now had reference not to Sunday closing in Wales, but to Ireland; and it had been shown, over and over again, that the circumstances of the two countries were totally different. He should like to make a few remarks upon the part he had taken, and which he was about to take, in regard to the question of Sunday closing in Ireland. In 1878, when The O'Conor Don brought in a Bill on this subject, he (Colonel King-Harman) had grave doubts upon the question. He doubted whether the proposed closing of public-houses on the Sunday would be for the welfare of the country or not; and, no doubt, many hon. Members would recollect the part he took in the discussion of the Bill. He doubted the wisdom of the proposal for two reasons. In the first place, he feared that, if the measure became law over Ireland, it would lead the people of that country into the pernicious habit of private drinking. In the second place, he feared it would lead to the multiplication of illicit drinking-houses, commonly known as shebeens. Eventually, however, he yielded to the enormous force of public opinion as shown by the enormous mass of Petitions from every class and creed; but he did so with an amount of hesitation; and, after a good deal of consideration, he moved that the Bill should be tried as a temporary measure for three years. Ultimately, a compromise was effected, and the Bill was passed for five years—a term which they considered would give it a full and fair trial. Well, he was bound to say that the result of the trial, and of the experience which had been gained, was that his doubts had been entirely removed. The evidence produced showed that the working of the measure had been entirely beneficial to the people and the country. There had not been any increase of private drinking, nor had there been an increase of shebeens, and the measure seemed to have done nothing but good. The consequence was, that he believed the immense majority of the people of Ireland were in favour of the measure before the House. He freely acknowledged, and he was glad to be able to do so, that there was a large body of respectable publicans in Ireland; but he had reason to believe that the majority of them were in favour of Sunday closing, provided that it was made universal. In conclusion, he would say that he 1020 should vote for the Bill; because, in doing so, he felt that he was voting for a measure which was wholly and entirely for the good of the people, and the prosperity of the country.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought it must be very gratifying to the supporters of temperance on this occasion to be supported by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel King-Harman). He (Mr. Healy) remembered, as a spectator in the House during the Session of 1878, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was to be found among the most bitter opponents of this measure, and he would be remembered as sitting up, night after night, and moving, in a most vehement manner, obstructive Motions against Sunday closing. At that time the hon. and gallant Member had grave doubts on the subject it appeared; but now he was the Father Mathew of the County of Dublin coming forward to vote for the Bill, yielding, as he said, to the force of public opinion.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
What I said was that five years' experience had induced me to vote for this Bill.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he would, of course, accept the explanation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but he must pardon him (Mr. Healy) for saying that, if lie were to put his construction upon the hon. and gallant Gentleman's change of views, he should put it as change of constituency. Autres' temps, autres maeurs. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman was Member for Sligo he opposed Sunday closing; but as the half-pay officers and the gentry of Rathmines supported Sunday closing, when the hon. and gallant Gentleman became their Representative, he stood forward as a supporter of it. The Irish Members had considerable fault to find with the administration of the Licensing Law as it stood at present. He had pointed that out previously, and he thought the Chief Secretary for Ireland would have done well if he had directed some attention to that aspect of the subject. He had pointed out that it was a notorious fact in Ireland that the Sunday Closing Act was made use of by the police as a means of persecuting licensed victuallers and others who held popular opinions, and that people of an Orange tinge might keep their houses open and sell drink galore. He, himself, was a 1021 witness three months ago of a proceeding by a Resident Magistrate, which completely overrode the Licensing Laws, That magistrate directed, on a Sunday, the publicans to keep their houses open; at least, he gave it to be understood that he would not allow his police to prosecute the publicans. Now, what power resided in that gentleman, which enabled him to override in this manner the provisions of an Act of Parliament? Then they had the fact of publicans, who dared to hang out green flags from their houses on National festivals, having their licences opposed by the police; and others, who closed their doors and hung out crape on the occasion of Mr. Parnell's arrest, treated in a similar fashion. Look, then, at the treatment of his hon. Friends (Messrs. Harrington and O'Brien) in Bandon and Charleville. His hon. Friend the Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) never tasted drink of any kind from his childhood, so that it would not be supposed that he would be a very great opponent of temperance; but when he and his hon. Friend the Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) were being entertained at Charleville and Bandon after a meeting the police broke in and took the names of those present, and they were fined. What did the Chief Secretary for Ireland do in that case? Did he remit the fines as he did in other cases? Not at all. Now, the Irish Members were not prepared to place themselves further at the mercy of every bumptious sub-constable, and every officious Resident Magistrate and District Inspector. Look, then, at the way the Government managed their business. They brought forward the Bill that day, knowing well it could not pass. Now, the Irish Members urged the Government to bring forward the non-contentious measures, and try and get them passed. There was the land purchase scheme so much desired. There was the Education Bill, to which, beyond some small details, there would be no general objection, and there was the Endowed Schools Bill, to remedy rankling grievances like that at Swords and elsewhere. What was the answer of the Government to these appeals? No; you first must smallow the Sunday Closing Bill. Was that the way Scotch Business was treated? Would the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate make such an an- 1022 swer to the Scotch Members if there was any Bill which they desired to have pressed forward in preference to another? Not at all. But they, the Irish Members, were to have the Bill pressed, whether they liked it or not, at the dictation of a few supporters of it. Now, he begged to tell the Government that, if they desired to pass Irish measures, they must consult the wishes, the feelings, and the opinions of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Why was Mr. T. W. Russell to be consulted, and the Irish Members not? Were measures of that sort to be settled in the Lobby and not in the House itself? He believed himself there was a strong feeling in Ireland in favour of Sunday closing in rural districts. So when they were asked to come down and support temperance, he said "Yes," and he was in favour of the principle of the Bill. He had voted for Local Option, and would do so again. But he objected, and the Irish Members objected, to the manner in which the Government proposed to deal with this and other questions. He was not prepared to see a measure pass which he believed was not honestly administered. The Government said—"You will have to pass this Bill, or we will not give you anything else." Well, they would see whether this Bill would pass. The question of Sunday closing generally was not at issue. That was secured by the existing Bill. There was great difference of opinion in the large towns, and in view of that he regarded the pressing forward of this Bill to-day as sheer waste of time. The Chief Secretary for Ireland quoted a remarkable set of figures in regard to Scotch towns of arrests for drunkenness. He (Mr. Healy) should like to say a few words in regard to these arrests. The Police Acts in Ireland were quite different from those of Scotland. In Scotland, and in England also, if people were seen going home, even if they could not stand perpendicular, the police left them to go. But in Ireland, if a man could not maintain his perpendicular, he was instantly taken and lodged in gaol. But the Chief Secretary for Ireland stated that the results of statistics, in regard to Scotch towns of over 80,000 inhabitants, showed the number of arrests on Sunday for drunkenness was very much less than on other days of the week, and added that this was a great argument 1023 in favour of Sunday closing. He (Mr. Healy) did not think it was conclusive; because, if a Scotch workman spent all his wages on Saturday, he would have nothing to spend on drink on Sunday. Then, again, as to the persons administering the Bill. He believed that if they wished to have temperance laws successful in Ireland, they should have a totally different class to administer it. It now lay with the police, who favoured certain individuals, and let others off; and even when they came to the police court the magistrates, as a rule, dealt with two publicans of different politics in totally different ways. They would let off with a fine publicans who were of the Government or Tory side of politics, and would not endorse their licences, while they took care to go to the extent of endorsing the licence of anyone convicted on the other side. He wished to know whether the Bill would be administered, like the existing Sunday Closing Law, by partizan magistrates, who were the curse of the country, and who did not do their duty impartially any more than the police. When they had in a town 20 or 30 Orange magistrates, and the publicans belonging largely to the popular Party, they must expect the magistrates to punish more heavily the men belonging to the popular Party than they did the others. In fact, he was not satisfied with the machinery, and he thought it was a question which might well be taken into further consideration. He would suggest that only two Resident Magistrates should have power of dealing with licensing cases and the jurisdiction. The Resident Magistrates, bad as they were, had, at all events, some official responsibility; and, for his part, he would entirely abolish the jurisdiction of the ordinary Orange Justices in such cases. If the licensing question was to be dealt with at all, it would be far better that it was to be dealt with by a responsible Government official than by distrusted partizans. A Castle official, even if he were a Clifford Lloyd or a Captain Plunkett, would be preferable in such cases to the ordinary magistrates of Ireland. Therefore, if the Bill was passed, the question of the endorsement of licences ought not to be left to ordinary Petty Sessions Justices. He objected to that or any other Bill being left to the adminis- 1024 tration of the ordinary Orange magistrates. They had groaned too long already under the influence of "Justices' justice" in Ireland. Nationalist publicans might expect something like decency from the responsible Resident Magistracy, but none from the ordinary Justices of the country. He knew a magistrate in the county of Cork who would give a decision for a glass of whisky. [Cries of "Name!"] If he were to name anyone, he supposed it would be said he was attacking an absent man; that he was exposing that person to intimidation; and that he was misusing the Privileges of the House in a manner he should not do. But he might say that, at Bantry, lately, in opposition to the wish of the parish priest, the magistrates trooped into the town, at the licensing sessions, at the bidding of one man, and. contrary to the opinion of the local Catholic clergymen and of all the respectable inhabitants, granted a publican's licence to be set up opposite the chapel door. He denied, further, that the constables in the City of Dublin administered the law firmly and impartially. It was notorious that those who were in high quarters in Dublin, presiding over the police, accepted bribes in many cases, in order to have the law evaded. It was notorious that ilicit drinking was winked at by means of bribery by many of the Police Inspectors of Dublin, and he did not believe those men would administer the law fairly. Unfortunately, in many other cities of the country the police were open to temptations of that character. Therefore, he should like to know how the Government proposed to deal with this question. He was strongly of opinion that a measure such as this should be tentative, and should not be made permanent without further inquiry. He was in favour of its continuance in the country places; but, as regarded the five exempted towns, he thought there was much to be said against the proposal, and that there ought to be further inquiry. He believed the Government was not serious in attempting to pass the present Bill. The fact was, they had made certain pledges with the temperance people of Ireland, and had put this Bill down for a Morning Sitting, at which there was no chance of passing it, so that they might be able to say—"We have kept our 1025 promise, and washed our hands of you, and the Bill must now drop." Instead of doing that, the Government should have considered the Irish legislation as a whole. Before he sat down, he could not help alluding to a statement of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake), from which it might be inferred that drinking was greater in Ireland than in England and Scotland. Statistics were opposed to that view, and he believed the proportion was smaller. He protested against the Bill, which had been put down only to redeem a pledge given to Members friendly to the Government, while they had not pressed forward the Bill dealing with the purchase of land, or the Education Bill.
§ MR. EWART
said, he would not follow the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) in the "cursory" remarks with which he had occupied their attention. The last half-hour and more he had inveighed against the Government for their management of the Business of the House; against the magistrates of Ireland for their alleged unfair and corrupt administration of the law; and he was especially heavy upon the Constabulary for partiality and misconduct. There appeared to be little in Ireland that pleased the hon. Member; but he (Mr. Ewart) felt that there was very little difference of opinion, that those classes did not come up to the standard of the opinion of the hon. Gentleman. At any rate, his speech did not touch the merits of the Bill. It was true he admitted that public opinion in Ireland was in favour of the Bill. That remark seemed to have been the only one pertinent to the subject in the hon. Member's speech. The speech was valuable in so far as it enabled time to be spent till the hand of the clock stood at 7. [Mr. HEALY: And so is your own.] Well, he would be as brief as possible. He would not imitate the hon. Member for Monaghan, but would condense his remarks into the smallest possible space, and he would first say, that he regretted very much that domestic anxiety caused the absence of his Colleague (Mr. Corry), and that the Bill would not have the advantage in debate of one who, from the time this question was first raised, had been a hearty and active supporter of it. But, really, the time for lengthened argument required in discussing the necessity for it in Ireland had passed. 1026 It was admitted, on all hands, that the monster evil of their time was intemperance, which brought in its train nearly all the pauperism and destitution of the country, and much of the disease, immorality, and vice that unhappily prevailed. In the opinion of the Judges, the clergy, and the physicians—and they could all confirm it by their own experience—intemperance filled their workhouses, their lunatic asylums, and their prisons. It made more widows and orphans than war and pestilence. It burdened the rates; and, in that way, oppressed all classes, including especially the industrious, struggling, worthy poor. As regarded Ireland, there was almost as much money spent in drink as would pay the rental of the land; and if it were possible at once to stop this expenditure, their country might well hope to prosper. Drink not only wasted the money, but unfitted the man for active, intelligent industry. Instead of draining and improving his land, the Irish farmer too often spent his time at the fair, or the market, needlessly; or at the Sessions, or at the "Bank," or in indolence; and he failed to perform his duty to his family, and brought discredit on his country. Well, the experience of the last five or six years in Ireland had shown—and he would not argue the question, or go into statistics about it, for it could not be denied—that there had been a great benefit to the country generally from, the existing law. It was a great point gained to have the temptation of the open public-house removed one day in seven. He would admit that they could not make men sober by Act of Parliament; but, by such Acts of Parliament as this, they could do something to bring about a better state of things; and, in doing that, they would be correcting another great evil—that of the secularization and desecration of the sacred day — and they would be aiding the ministers of religion in their holy work. Then, he would like to know why, of all men, publicans should be allowed the privilege of trading on Sundays, while those who supplied needful wants, such as butchers, grocers, and others, were prohibited, and properly so, from following theirs? He was happy to believe that a considerable number of publicans themselves who had seven-day licences would rejoice to have six-day licences all over the trade. In passing 1027 the Bill they would elevate the trade of the publican to a higher level. As far as the town he represented was concerned, there was a wonderful unanimity. All classes of men—and women too, for they and their children were the greatest sufferers—all ranks and creeds, all parties, were, for once, united in supporting the measure; and, instead of there being the disorder in the town which was once predicted, if such a Bill as this should be passed, the news which he hoped would era long reach them was that, notwithstanding the opposition of the hon. Member for Monaghan, the Bill had received the Royal Assent, which would be received with rejoicing there, on account of Belfast being included in the Act.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
I am one of those who are most anxious to see progress made with this Bill, and I have risen, principally, in consequence of one or two remarks which fell from my hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy). Speaking in a sort of halfhearted opposition to the Bill, my hon. Friend alluded to the action of the Irish Parliamentary Party with regard to it. Now, the Irish Parliamentary Party, as far as I know, are, as a Party, taking no action at all with reference to this Bill. Indeed, as a matter of fact, I believe the truth to be that a very considerable majority of the Members of the Irish Parliamentary Party are in favour of the principles of the Bill. What was the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan himself? Certainly it was not a speech in opposition to the principles of the Bill. He acknowledges that the Bill, as far as it relates to the country generally, has the approval of the majority of the people; and, as far as it relates to the five large towns, he does not venture to express an opinion at all. I sympathize very largely with many of the remarks of the hon. Member with reference to the administration of the Bill by some of the policemen in the country districts of Ireland; but I contend that that forms no reason why the passage of the measure should be delayed. I have a very strong opinion as to the interference of the police in these matters, and as to the granting of licences by magistrates. I should like to see the whole question of licences placed on an entirely different basis—the power of granting or 1028 withholding licences taken away altogether from the magistrates, and vested in some way in representatives elected by the people. At the same time, I do not think that the remarks of my hon. Friend ought to induce the House to delay the progress of the Bill. It is not often my fortune to agree with the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman); but, certainly, he made one remark to-day with which I do agree, when he said he believed that a large proportion of the publicans of Ireland were in favour of the principles of this Bill. I represent a constituency in which the publican vote is about one-third of the whole, yet, when I was elected, I was an avowed supporter of the principles of Sunday Closing; and I have never, since I have been a Member, received any representations on the subject from my constituents, except those of cordial approval of the course I have always taken upon measures of this character. My hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan himself recently represented a borough in which the publicans were a strong power, but which has always been true to the principles of Sunday Closing. I rose merely to make it clear that this is not a question on which the Irish Parliamentary Party are taking united action, and that it is one in which, individually, a large majority are in favour of the proposals now before the House.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he thought it right to say that his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had been misunderstood. It was only due to his hon. Friend to explain that the question of that Bill was considered by the Irish Parliamentary Party, and they passed a resolution, condemning the manner in which the Bill had been introduced, and the hon. Member for Monaghan only gave expression to that resolution, which was passed when the hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. John Redmond) was absent from the country. He (Mr. Harrington) had always been a temperance man; but, from his knowledge of the country, he did not believe they had materially advanced the cause of temperance by the Sunday Closing Act. Though the number of arrests might not be so large, the difference in cases of drunkenness was not very material, because a great deal of drunkenness was carried on, when they 1029 were not under the eyes of the police. He was quite satisfied that the hon. Member for Monaghan had correctly described the state of things, when he said that a certain class were favoured by the local police—he would not say by the local magistrates—and when a retired policeman obtained a publican's licence, he might keep open from Sunday morning until late on Sunday night, without anyone interfering with him. One reason why he could not vote in favour of the Bill was that it was enormously increasing another class of crime, quite as dangerous to the morality of the country as drunkenness. There had been an enormous increase in the number of cases of false-swearing. No one could attend a Petty Sessions Court, and hear there cases against publicans, without being made aware that the amount of false-swearing was simply alarming. He might appeal to magistrates sitting in the Northern parts of Ireland, whether the law, which gave the publican the right to take the oath in his defence, had not enormously increased the amount of perjury? He had himself attended cases in Petty Sessions, where two or three policemen had distinctly sworn to a breach of the licence, and the publican, his wife, and other people had sworn to what was totally opposite to their statement. Therefore, he did not think the Chief Secretary for Ireland was justified in resting his whole case for the Bill on the number of arrests for drunkenness. There was another point in the administration of the Act which he objected to—that was the portion of it which allowed certain houses to keep open as long as they liked to sell drink, such as hotels and clubs, whilst others were forced to close. In addition to this, in any garrison town in Ireland, any young man who desired to obtain drink had simply but to walk across the road to the nearest barrack, make the acquaintance of a soldier, and he could spend the entire day in the canteen, and with his friends, if there were 100 of them, get as drunk as he liked. Whilst they had not a strictly fair and impartial administration of the law, they could not expect that men who took up these questions, and who wished success to the cause of temperance, would be very warm advocates for another partial and patched-up measure. As the hon. Member for the City of Dublin 1030 (Mr. M. Brooks) had pointed out, the closing of public-houses in that City on Sunday would be the means of enormously increasing the number of shebeen-houses; and if the officials of Dublin were consulted, they would undoubtedly testify to the fact that one of the greatest evils in the City was these shebeen houses, as they were most repulsive in other respects besides the illicit selling of liquors which took place in them. He maintained that any enormous increase in those houses would be fraught with the greatest danger to the morals of the City; because, in sending young men to them in search of drink, they would be sending them to places where they would learn evils infinitely more hurtful. He should always give his support on the side of temperance, when he believed that a measure with that object would be fairly and impartially administered; but he certainly was not a warm supporter, if he could be a supporter at all, of the measure introduced by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, because of the manner of its introduction, and the undue prominence which had been given to it, and because, also, it was very little demanded by the people of Ireland. For himself, he believed that the public opinion of the country was utterly indifferent to the measure. They did not believe, in the first plane, that it would be administered impartially; and they did not believe it would achieve that which was promised of it; and, still further, they did not believe that the stigma of intemperance, which some hon. Members had endeavoured to fasten on the people of Ireland, could be justified.
said, he wished to explain why he should vote against the Bill. He scarcely liked to do so; but there was evidently a wide difference of opinion amongst those with whom he generally acted with regard to it. It was his misfortune to differ with the principle of the Bill, and also with the manner in which it was likely to be administered. He objected to the way it would be administered, for reasons which had been very fully set forth in the course of the debate, as the one great effect of it would be to divide the publicans into two classes — policemen's friends and policemen's enemies—and would result in this, that all the attention of the police would be devoted to 1031 watching the Nationalist publican, while those publicans who in any way had commended themselves to the favour of the police would be allowed by them to carry on any amount of Sunday trading without interference. After the remarks of the hon. Members for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) and Westmeath (Mr. Harrington), he did not think it necessary to enter into the controversy raised by the Chief Secretary for Ireland as to whether the Sunday Closing Bill had decreased intemperance. He believed that there was much, more Sunday tippling going on now than ever there was, and that it was more demoralizing in its effects than when carried on openly. The people, no doubt, kept out of the way of the police; but they must not suppose that there had been a decrease in Sunday drinking, because there had been no obtrusive Sunday drinking and fewer arrests for drunkenness. But what he maintained was this, that the advantage, such as it might be, was not sufficient to counterbalance the loss of self-respect among the people who regarded this measure as a kind of Coercion Act imposed on them, not by their own will, but by the propaganda of a small set of well-intentioned Sabbatarian foreigners who had settled down in Dublin, no doubt joined—as they saw they had been—by some Irish Members for whose opinions he had the highest respect. The people in some parts had debarred themselves voluntarily in this particular; and the hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. John Redmond) had spoken of the feeling in favour of this Bill in his constituency; but throughout County Wexford there was, no doubt, a very strong feeling in favour of Sunday closing; but this had existed for years before Sunday closing was ever heard of. It was so carried out in the diocese of Ferns, and in the archdiocese of Cashel, and that by the simple force of the religious feeling; and he ventured to say that it was carried out much more efficiently there now than it would be carried out under the sanction of an English Act of Parliament to enforce it. He maintained that this legislation was not demanded by any considerable section of the Irish people. If it were required by them, they would take a very easy and summary mode of making their feeling on the matter felt. On the contrary, he believed that there was a very 1032 strong feeling of resentment amongst the Irish people against this sect of Puritans, who wished to impose their own opinions forcibly on the Irish people, and who really desired to treat the Irish people as though they were dipsomaniacs, and required to be put under restraint. They objected very much to these men coming to the House in the name of Ireland, and asking the House to subject them to a law which the House dare not subject England to, and to a law to which the Members of the House themselves did not, so far as he could judge, by any means subject themselves. It was not by legislation of this kind that they could hope to find very much improvement in the moral condition of the Irish people. He believed that instead of drunkenness pausing pauperism, as the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Ewart) seemed to imagine, it was to a very large extent that poverty and misery were the cause of drunkenness. The lives of the Irish people were sufficiently joyless already; arid he thought that the Legislators of that House would be far better employed in doing something which would substantially improve the condition of the Irish people than by assisting in debarring them of one of the few enjoyments they had—an enjoyment which he maintained was partaken of by the great bulk of the people in the most perfect moderation. In every class there were people who ought to be treated by exceptional legislation; but the true remedy was to educate the people better than they were now educated, and to improve thereby their means of enjoyment. Unfortunately, there was an utter absence of anything like incentives to lives of sobriety; and, until some improvement was made in the material condition of the people, legislation of this kind would be perfectly worthless, and would be resented by the Irish people. The simple result of this measure would be to increase the attraction to drink by driving people into secret places, and thus to widen the gulf, which was already sufficiently wide, between the law and the sympathies of the Irish people.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he held the view largely shared by a large number of Members from Ireland, and it was this, that while thoroughly agreeing with the principles of the 1033 measure, he was firmly convinced that the administration of the measure in certain districts in Ireland had been most flagrant, and such as not to increase the confidence of the people in the impartiality of the Magistracy, or the Police. He would mention the case of a most respectable publican in the town he had the honour to represent, named Scallan. On the pretence of seeing if the Act was carried out, he noticed that the police forced their way into the house, and behaved in a manner which occasioned the family much annoyance. The police and the people were not on good terms in Ireland, and the enmity was likely, whilst such legislation had to be administered, to continue for a very long time. He did not think that, under the circumstances, it would be advisable to place further powers in their hands, which would enable them to interfere further than they already did with the interests and the liberties of the people. At the same time, as their Representative, he felt it his duty to support this measure, because his constituency was thoroughly in favour of it. He could not help remarking how ready the Government were to introduce a measure of this kind, when, only the other day, they offered the most strenuous opposition to an important Bill relating to the housing of the labourers in Ireland introduced from those Benches; and he found it extremely difficult to explain the action of the Government in giving prominence to this measure, and rejecting the other altogether. Personally, he did not like this Bill, or, indeed, any measure which restricted the liberty of the subject, and he believed that the great effect of it would be to increase drunkenness and the illicit sale of liquor. When in Portland City, in the State of Maine, having heard a great deal about the Maine Liquor Laws, and the freedom of the place from public-houses, he made inquiries and found that, although there were no ostensible places for the sale of liquor, there were over 80 places where liquor to any extent could be obtained; and, as a matter of fact, in that model city there was more liquor consumed and more drunkenness than in any other city of the same proportions in America. The tendency of this kind of legislation seemed to be to increase the desire of people for drink, no doubt, in accordance with what seemed to be 1034 one of the laws of nature prevailing with most people—to try and get the things that were denied them. They might call it obstinacy, if they liked; but people who, in the usual course would not care much about drink on Sunday, would, when prohibited by a British Act of Parliament, do all in their power to get it. He was firmly convinced that the publicans of Ireland opposed this measure in the most honest and straightforward manner, and that no opposition was given to it by them for interested motives. The publicans were as honest and as deserving a class as was to be found in the whole country. There were no people who more loyally supported the public institutions than publicans; and those in Ireland supported their country and religion, and had proved themselves over and over again in the various cities and boroughs of Ireland most capable citizens. He was perfectly convinced that their opposition to it was not because it might have the effect of taking a small sum of money out of their pockets, but that it was due to the fact that their experience had told them that it was not wise to interfere with the liberties of the people. He pitied the unfortunate men in Ireland who, if this Bill became law, required some stimulant on Sunday and were unable to get it. It was almost impossible for any man in that House to conceive the same experience; and if it was proposed to pass such a law with the view of making it impossible for hon. Members of that House to get stimulants on a Sunday, very few indeed would think of voting for such a measure. Much as he disliked the Bill itself, he was obliged to support it for the reasons he had given.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he was not disposed to see the Bill talked out, because he had always voted for a Sunday Closing Bill for Ireland; and he thought he had also voted in favour of Sunday Closing Bills for England. He admitted, however, that he did not like the present measure; and if it had not been for the fact that his constituents were strongly in favour of it, he was not perfectly certain how he would vote on the present occasion. His constituents had no particular interest one way or another in the measure now before the House. Before the Sunday Closing Act was passed, the people of the county of 1035 Cavan, irrespective of religion or politics, had agreed to put into operation, as far as they were concerned, Sunday closing. They thought that what was good for them was good for their neighbours; but he questioned very much whether they would take this view, if they knew that the effect of the Bill would be to increase secret drinking. In his own case, he knew that it would not be good for him to take six glasses of punch; it would be quite the reverse. But he admitted that "half-a-glass" would do him good. But there were others who could do with the six glasses; and he had known those who said that no material benefit was to be derived from, so small a quantity as half-a-glass of whisky, which they alleged would not warm the bottom of the tumbler. His constituents lived in a purely rural district, in which there were no large towns, and they had no knowledge of the wants of the residents in. large towns; but their personal observation induced them to believe that the present Sunday Closing Bill was required for populous places. They had no knowledge of what the bonâ fide traveller was; and, consequently, they saw no reason why all public-houses in Ireland should not be closed on a Sunday. He remembered being in Edinburgh on a Sunday, when the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was in operation, and there he saw more drunkenness than he had ever seen. The result of Sunday closing in large towns was that shebeens were established; and, from his own observation, in places where Sunday closing was in force, he had seen more young men staggering home drunk on Sunday, when strong drinks were supposed not to be sold, than on any of the other days when the drink could be obtained in any quantity. No doubt, that was due to the villanous stuff which was supplied at the secret drinking places. If the drink was obtained in the legitimate way, no evil consequences followed; and he could not help thinking that the advocates of teetotalism who wished to pass these very stringent laws were carrying their wishes in restraint of the liberty of the subject too far. Let them, look who these teetotallers were. They could tell such hon. Members by the colour of their faces; and, by the way, he observed that those teetotal Members who were supporters of this Bill had very little colour. If a medi- 1036 cal man was called in to examine them, one of the first things he would prescribe for them would be a limited amount of some stimulant which, he would tell them, would very much benefit their health. In the same way, if he (Mr. Biggar) were permitted to prescribe for these Gentlemen, he would suggest a little Irish whisky. His constituents were in favour of the Bill; and, whether they were right or wrong, he was disposed to vote in favour of their opinions.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he should vote for the Bill, because he believed the people of Ireland wanted it. A similar Bill had been very successful in Scotland, and had given great satisfaction to everyone, except in the matter of the bonâ fide traveller, who, he believed, was a very drunken party indeed. It seemed to him that if they should ever make a Sunday Closing Bill successful, they must abolish the bonâ fide traveller altogether.
SIR, JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, the hon. Member who had just spoken (Sir George Campbell) had been very unfortunate in his reference to Scotland in stating his support to the Bill. In the first place, he had occupied some minutes of the time of the House; and, in the next, he had made a reference to the presumed success of the legislation for Scotland which was altogether unfounded in fact. His very successful legislation on temperance lines in Scotland, as compared with the hitherto one-sided legislation in Ireland on the same lines, had eventuated in this—that every man, woman, and child in Scotland, from the navvy working on the railway to the infant at the breast, drank per annum a gallon more of whisky than sufficed for each head of the population of Ireland. Now, if that was a specimen of the success attending on the temperance legislation for Scotland, he (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) hoped no such success would attend such professed temperance legislation for Ireland. Notwithstanding the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, and the other so-called Temperance Acts, and the teachings of such teetotal luminaries from that land as sat in that House, Scotchmen continued to be, with scarcely an exception, one of the most drunken people in Europe. They did not drink as much, he admitted, as some other people of 1037 the Anglo-Saxon race. Statistics proved that the most alcohol in the year—per head of the population—was consumed in England and Wales; so he could fearlessly say that, in both these countries and in Scotland, more intoxicating drink was consumed in proportion to the population than was consumed in Ireland. In England, it averaged about seven gallons per head per annum; in Scotland, about five gallons; and, in Ireland, it was equivalent to about three and a-half gallons per head, converting the various liquors consumed into the equivalent of proof spirits. And yet, on the presumptive success of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, they were to have similar legislation commended to them in Ireland. He was not an opponent of temperance principles. He practised them in his own person, and recommended them to his friends; but he objected very much to this self-glorification of Scotland, which was held up to them as though it should be a model to Ireland. The Forbes-Mackenzie Act might have had some success in moderating, or lessening in some degree, the drunkenness which prevailed, or would prevail if no such Bill had been passed for Scotland; but it had not brought the consumption of alcohol down to anything like the proportions which prevailed in Ireland. Hon. Members who supported the Bill should bear in mind that no such measure had been ever introduced into England; and, notwithstanding the supposed success of the Scotch measure, the people there still drank every year a gallon of whisky more per head than they did in Ireland. He regarded it as most unfortunate that the other Government Bill for Ireland should have been postponed in order that this measure should be proceeded with. Ireland stood in a different position in this matter to Scotland and England. He would be very glad, indeed, if in Ireland the poorer classes of the people drank less whisky; because, of every Is. worth of whisky which Irishmen drank, nearly 10d. dropped into the till of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Irishmen paid lately in one year £3,500,000 for the same quantity of whisky as they paid £950,000 for in 1851. It was not so bad in former years. There was a time when it was only 3d. or 4d. tax on the 1s. expenditure; but while the 1038 duty on beer, the common beverage of the English people, measured by its strength in proof spirits, had been reduced from 12s. 6d. to less than 2s., per gallon, that on whisky, the common beverage of the Irish nation, had been largely increased—namely, from 2s. 8d. to 10s. He did not wish the duty on whisky to be reduced; but he desired that the additional money derived from that duty in Ireland should be applied to Irish purposes. [Cries of "Question! "] He could tell those who interrupted him, that the Bill would not be forwarded by. those means. He considered that the Bill was premature; in itself it might be a good Bill; but it ought to be left to the decision of the future Representatives of the enlarged constituencies in Ireland, as they would represent the classes of the people who would be most affected by it. He did not want to stand in the way of a Division, though he did not mean to take part in it himself; but he protested against a Bill of such a kind being forced through the House in such a way, when there were many far more pressing Irish subjects demanding attention, and notably that with reference to labourers' cottages.
§ MR. HICKS
said, that the question was in this position—that, for the great part of Ireland, there was a Sunday Closing Act, which had expired, and had been renewed, and would again expire, unless the ordinary course of renewing it was followed. As, no doubt, it would be perfectly independent of the Bill, Sunday closing in Ireland, therefore, was already provided for, and would continue. There appeared to him to be two reasons why the Bill should not be read a second time. One was, that, in principle, it was virtually in operation already in Ireland; and the other, that its effects had not been fairly and truly tested. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond) said that the Bill worked well in that town; but there the people were in favour of it, and it was, in fact, in operation before the Bill was agitated at all. The hon. Member below him (Mr. Harrington) said there was less obtrusive drinking in Ireland, but more secret drinking in private houses, and that statement had been endorsed by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar). Then, with regard to Wales, the evidence they had before them from the public 1039 meetings held in that country, was to the effect that the Welsh Sunday Closing Bill had failed. These circumstances ought to show the House that the subject was one that was open to a great deal of controversy; and that being so, it seemed to him reasonable that, seeing they had already an Act in operation from year to year, applying to all Ireland, excepting the five large towns, the promoters of the Bill should be content with that, until they had an opportunity of referring the subject to the consideration of the Irish people.
Sir, I do not intend to detain the House for more than a few minutes; but for a great many years I have taken an interest in this Bill; in fact, from the time that I began to be convinced, now 12 or 14 years ago, that the feeling of the people of Ireland was very strongly in its favour. I do not believe that that feeling has weakened since then; and, as far as I can understand the question, from the views of the Representatives of the country, on the vote on this subject, it will again appear, as it appeared on a former occasion, that a very large majority of the Irish people desire the passing of the Bill. The experience which has been gained from the experimental working of the Act already in operation, shows that the feeling in Ireland is ripe; and after that experience, extending over several years, it is not unnatural that an attempt should now be made to bring about the uniform operation of the law in all parts of Ireland. What I do think is reasonable is, that, after the whole of this Morning's Sitting has been spent in the debate, and after the subject has been as thoroughly thrashed out as any subject that comes before us, the suporters of the Bill should expect that on. Gentlemen opposed to the Bill should allow a Division to be taken on the second reading. They are, of course, entitled to speak on the subject. I do not say that, because the Bill was de-dated on former occasions, they are not entitled to the fullest opportunity of being heard; but the second reading of the Bill is very far indeed from the passing of the Bill. Both in Committee, and other stages, they will have opportunities of raising their objections to both the principle and the details of the Bill. What I do think is, that it is 1040 not fair to the people of Ireland—and it would be most unfair of all to the people of Ireland on the part of any of those who believe themselves to be especially the Representatives of the people of Ireland—if the votes of the House are not allowed to be given on, the second reading. Let us see what the feeling of Ireland is, as decided by the votes of its Representatives. That, I think, will be felt to be a fair appeal. After the debate that has taken place to-day, I cannot but hope that Gentlemen will reserve themselves for the opportunity they will have of renewing their discussion upon this Bill at a future stage. I will not myself in any way prolong the discussion, but content myself with making this appeal. I hope that those opposed to the Bill will have such moderation and equity in their manner of proceeding, as to allow us to pass to a Division on the Motion to read the Bill a second time, so as to test the sense of Parliament at large, and particularly of Irish Representatives, as expressing the sentiments of Ireland on this matter; because this, at any rate, is a subject on which it is right that Irish ideas should be heard.
§ MR. KENNY
said, he would admit that there was a majority of the people in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill; but everyone who knew anything of Ireland, knew also that there was a strong minority opposed to it. The right hon. Gentlemen at the head of the Government professed to have great regard for the opinions of the Representatives of Ireland on questions affecting Ireland, and had wished that the sense of the majority among them, should be permitted to prevail; but the fact was, that Irish Members constantly found themselves overwhelmingly outvoted by English Members on Irish subjects. There had been other measures before the House, in the course of this Session, upon which the opinion of the Irish Members was united, and which no Irish Representative opposed, yet the followers of the right hon. Gentleman came in and voted against those Bills and rejected them. He thought it a strange thing on the part of the Government that they should attempt to spring on the House a Bill of that kind, at a time when most of its opponents were absent. There were several hon. Gentlemen representing Irish constituen- 1041 cies known to be bitterly opposed to the Bill, who were absent. Of the opponents he referred to, the hon. Member for Dublin City (Mr. M. Brooks) was the only one who happened to be present. The hon. Members for Tipperary (Mr. Mayne), Waterford (Mr. Leamy), and Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) were absent. Some of them were in the House a few days ago; but they had not the slightest idea that the Bill would be brought on that day. He did not deny that, in the abstract, public opinion was in favour of the principle of the Bill; but he could not support it, because the licensing legislation had been used for corrupt purposes, and for the persecution of people who held popular views in the country. He quite agreed in the statement that the Government had thrown away a day which might have been devoted to the consideration of other measures upon which the Irish Members were united.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that the Prime Minister had come down to the House, at the end of the debate, to give the weight of his authority to an appeal to allow a Division to be taken; but it was his (Mr. Warton's) duty to complain, in answer to that appeal, that the Government made it a practice to put down an immense number of Orders of the Day—sometimes 20 or 30—and thus gave themselves the power, according to what they might select, to take the second reading of any measure they pleased on the following day. That was what had been done in the present case. He did not know whether the Government were aware of it or not; but some of the prominent opponents of the Bill, representing Irish constituencies, whose opinions the right hon. Gentleman professed to be very desirous of eliciting, were absent from the House, and had no idea that the Bill was going to be taken that day. As regarded the Bill under consideration, he thought the Act of 1878 should be regarded in its true light as a compromise. In this world we could not get all we wanted, and we ought to be content with what we could get. A contrast had been drawn, in the course of the debate, between drinking in a public-house and drinking in a private house. But that was a mistake. The true comparison was between drinking in a licensed house, and drinking in an unlicensed one, or shebeen, as it was 1042 called in Ireland. Since 1878 those shebeens had largely increased in number.
§ It being ten minutes before seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till this day.
§ The House suspended its Sitting at five minutes to Seven of the clock.
§ The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at five minutes after Nine o'clock till Monday next.