§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [20th June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that, on the last occasion when the Bill was before the 1584 House, they had the unusual honour of the Prime Minister coming in late in the debate, having no doubt been necessarily detained elsewhere; and, in a few earnest words, urging very strongly upon the House the importance of coming to an immediate decision. Being anxious, as he (Mr. Warton) always was, to treat every suggestion of the Prime Minister's with all possible respect, he might be permitted to remark that the right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, had not heard the extraordinary arguments and the strange figures put forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He (Mr. Warton) was quite sure that the Prime Minister was as anxious as he was that the House should not come to a conclusion on that very important question hastily; that it should not come to a conclusion under a misapprehension; and that it should not come to a conclusion based upon figures which were misleading, if not absolutely false. It would be within the recollection of the House that the Chief Secretary for Ireland made use of a most extraordinary argument. It was this—that, where the Act was in force, there was only one case of Sunday drunkenness against 17 on week days. That constituted a specific allegation which he (Mr. Warton) wished to take this opportunity of challenging. The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman did not represent what was actually the case. Anyone who had read the Returns would see that a misapprehension existed in the mind of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was, no doubt, led into the mistake by starting from a perfectly erroneous assumption—that erroneous assumption being, that the number of persons who had been taken up for drunkenness in the year ending April 29th, 1883, was 2,923 in the exempted cities; whereas, in truth and in fact, the number so taken up—-as shown in a Return ordered on the Motion of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Ewart)—was not 2,923, but 1,248.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
On a question of fact, I stated that my figures were drawn not from the Return which the 1585 hon. and learned Member quotes, but from the Return of persons arrested for drunkenness, for being drunk and disorderly, and for crimes connected with, drunkenness. That makes the whole difference.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he accepted the correction of the right hon. Gentleman, but only to a limited extent. He protested against that new set of figures being sprung upon the House simply because of some complication that existed in the mind of the Chief Secretary for Ireland in mixing up arrests for drunkenness with arrests for crimes connected with drunkenness. It was a little too bad for the right hon. Gentleman to avoid dealing with Returns officially laid before Parliament, which perhaps he feared to face, and to spring upon the House a set of perfectly new figures which were not based on a correct standard. He was, therefore, perfectly correct when he said that the right hon. Gentleman proceeded upon an entirely false basis. He had no right, when dealing with the question of arrests on Sunday for drunkenness, to mix up with that question some imaginary number, derived he (Mr. Warton) knew not whence, and crimes connected with drunkenness. He should therefore stick to the test which he considered a right one—namely, that of arrests for drunkenness. He should proceed upon approved figures and upon acknowledged facts. The Chief Secretary had startled the House by drawing an alarming comparison between the one to 17 cases of Sunday drunkenness in the country with the one to six cases in the exempted cities. That was an utterly fallacious comparison; and the results could only have been obtained by the extraordinary process which the Chief Secretary for Ireland had now had the fairness to reveal. Taking a fair comparison of the figures, it proved that the proportion of arrests for Sunday drunkenness in the excepted cities was but one in 17 arrests, as against one in 15½ in the districts to which the Act applied. Therefore, the contrast was not very alarming. Moreover, the comparison was in itself somewhat unfair; because in the cities there were readier means of arrest than in the country. A man might be drunk for hours in a country place before he was taken notice of by the police; but in a city like 1586 Waterford or Limerick he would very soon be arrested. The difference in the ratio of arrests was more than accounted for in this way. In Scotland, where Sunday closing prevailed all over the country, the proportion of arrests for Sunday drunkenness was one in 680 of the population in the towns, and only one in 8,333 of the population in the country. Therefore, the chances of arrest in a Scotch burgh were about 12 times as great as in a country district; and, looking at the Irish statistics from that point of view, he held that the comparison was really strongly in favour of the cities. He would now institute a comparison between the state of Ireland 10 years ago and the present time. He was sorry to trouble the House with the figures; but those figures which had been already quoted by the promoters of the Bill were false both in then-sources and in their application. He would compare the years 1872–3 with the years 1882–3, which would show the real results of the Sunday Closing Act, and the figures he should give would be perfectly authentic. In 1872 the total number of arrests outside the five cities which were now excepted from the operation of the Act was 55,775, and in the cities 27,514. In 1873 the numbers were 62,516 and 33,107. The total for the two years in the country was 118,291 arrests. In 1882 the arrests were 68,482 in the country, and 19,015 in the cities; and in 1883 there were 68,903 in the country, and 20,623 in the cities. These figures gave a total for the non-excepted portion of the country during the two years of 137,385, as compared with 118,291 in 1872–3. The startling fact was here disclosed that there was an increase of 19,094 arrests under the operation of the Act. On the other hand, in the excepted cities, where drink was obtainable in an honest and honourable way, drunkennes had decreased. The arrests in those cities during the two years 1872–3 numbered 60,621; but in the two years 1872–3 they diminished to 39,638, showing a decrease of 20,983. The result of this Sunday closing legislation, therefore, had been what every student of human nature would expect—namely, that whilst there had been an increase of drunkenness in places where prohibition prevailed, there had been a decrease where the same interference was not permitted. Nothing 1587 disposed him more to be angry than to think of the utter ignorance of human nature which was displayed by those who brought forward these Bills. They knew very well that "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant," and that when men were forbidden a thing, that was the very thing they proceeded to want. He recommended hon. Gentlemen to study the fables of their youth. There was, for instance, the fable of the chicken, who was told by its mother not to go near a well, and, of course, did so on the first opportunity. In dying accents the hapless chicken exclaimed—"Had it not been for the prohibition, I ne'er had been in this condition." The result of the prohibition of Sunday drinking was, that instead of drinking in proper and decent licensed houses, men were driven to get the drink they wanted, and for that purpose would have to resort to unlicensed and ill-regulated houses. That had been the case in Scotland, where shebeens had increased by many dozens, and in Ireland, where he believed the increase was even greater. Therefore, when hon. Members talked about the arrests—strong though that argument was—they must look carefully at what was known to be generally going on—namely, the determination of those who were not allowed to get honest liquor in an honest way, to get dishonest liquor in a dishonest way. Of course, people did not get such good liquor in the shebeens, because the keepers of those places, being subject to prosecution, must make great profits, and would not be likely to keep good liquors; and thus Parliament was creating, for no good purpose whatever, except the folly of some amiable enthusiasts, a class of men who were compelled to be law breakers. He had always admired the merciful spirit of our Criminal Law; but nothing could be more unmerciful than imposing extreme and unnecessary restrictions of this kind, which compelled people to break the law in defence of their honest rights. The House had been flooded with 13 or 14 county Bills for Sunday closing; and, in the debate on the Cornwall Bill, he gave a number of extracts to show how Sunday closing had operated in Wales. He would now boldly assert that the great majority of local and representative bodies in Wales, and all the associations entitled to re- 1588 spect, had testified their abhorrence of Sunday closing wherever they had experienced it. Town Council after Town Council had passed resolutions to that effect. Many who were ardent supporters of Sunday closing in Wales when it was only in prospect were now its determined opponents; and, when the next General Election came, many hon. Members who thought to retain, their seats by the aid of Sunday closing would find it necessary to reconsider the matter, and to recognize that public opinion had changed. In Cardiff there had been a great establishment of spurious clubs since Sunday closing was instituted. He (Mr. Warton) was not opposed to honest and respectable working men's clubs, and did not see why working men should not have clubs as well as other people. But he did object to clubs that were merely irregular and unlicensed drinking clubs, with a 6d. subscription, and power to take in any number of friends at any hour of the day or night; and that was the sort of club which had been established in Cardiff and Swansea since Sunday closing came into vogue. The police in those towns knew all about it, and Inspector after Inspector would tell you the same. Talking of Inspectors, he mistrusted the reports which were made by Inspectors in Ireland to the Chief Secretary for Ireland as to the results of Sunday closing. When it was known that the head of a Department was so strong and bigoted a partizan, he would be sure to get reports of the nature he wished for. Moreover, it was not likely that these Inspectors would throw dirt at themselves by admitting that drunkenness had considerably increased in their districts. However, the Chief Secretary for Ireland would not be able to upset or explain away the figures which he (Mr. Warton) had given, and which showed that, whilst drunkenness had increased in the prohibited districts, it had decreased in the excepted cities. It was, however, just possible that in the whole of Ireland there was a large temperance population. Well, he wished to see a decrease of drunkenness everywhere; but he observed that there was more hope of that in the removal than in the imposition of absurd restrictions, and in letting people get their liquor quietly and without any fuss and intrigue. He hoped to live to see the 1589 day when, amongst the humblest classes as amongst the highest, it would be considered a disgraceful thing to get drunk; but Bills of this kind would not advance that end one jot. In fact, this kind of legislation had a very bad effect. It inculcated the notion that a man need not look after his own morals, but must have them attended to by a grandmotherly Government, who would keep him straight under all circumstances. That feeling crippled the moral strength of a man and degraded him. The principle was that adopted by the mother of Mr. Verdant Green, who wrote to the Vice Chancellor of the University, asking that her son should be always in bed by 9 o'clock. In the same way these Sunday closing people said—"You must not drink on Sunday, because we think it wrong for you to do so. In our superior wisdom and sanctity we shall dictate to you and make you feel our power." Surely, it was a very moderate thing to have the public-houses shut from 2 to 7 on a Sunday; but all these matters were subject to compromises. There were extremists belonging to every Party. On one side, in this matter, there were many virtuous and high-toned, but narrow-minded men. On the other side, there were many who were dissolute, unthinking, and careless. But between the two extremes were the men of moderation. They were neither saints nor sinners, and they generally got their way. Personally, he was as much opposed to the attempt of the saints to inflict their notions upon him as he should be to any attempt of the sinners; he liked to steer with an even keel between the two classes of fanatics. He hardly knew whether the well-meaning fanatics did the most harm, or the evil ones. Now, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had given the House some figures, and he (Mr. Warton) had given them some others, which he believed to be worthy of more attention. The fair and proper thing would be to investigate the matter fully and carefully. An experiment having been made, it would be more statesmanlike to appoint a strong Committee to inquire into its working and its results, than to precipitately legislate with a view to its extension and permanency again before the facts were thoroughly known. He was altogether opposed to Sunday closing; but, as a compromise, he would 1590 agree to have the experiment tried a little longer; but he objected to have this iron measure rivetted on Ireland until it was fully proved to be for the good of the country. He objected also altogether to the proposal to include the five hitherto exempted cities. Doubtless, there had been some agitation in favour of the measure; but that was an age when agitations were very easily got up. Men herded together in societies and associations; and very few took the trouble to think for themselves, and to carefully examine both sides of a question. They believed what they were told by a few active and unscrupulous agents, and so a popular cry was worked up. This Bill had been hastily concocted to gratify those who did not take the trouble to think, and who were anxious to press upon others regulations to which they did not conform, and to lay upon others burdens which they did not themselves have to bear.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that, as an English Member, he must apologize for interposing in the discussion, because he considered that an Irish local question should be settled by Irish Members themselves. He would, therefore, have left all the talking upon the Bill to them; but to his surprise, however, he found that not only were the Irish Members not unanimous on the question, but a large majority who had spoken in the debate were going to vote against it. [Mr. GIBSON: We do not want to talk it out.] The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond) said he would vote for the Bill, not because he was in favour of it, but because he had promised to support it.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, the hon. Member was under a misapprehension, and he was not opposed to the Bill.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that from everything he had heard, and considering the fact that a majority of the Irish Members were about to vote against the Bill, he thought he was justified in assuming that they were opposed to it. Were they or were they not in favour of it? [An Irish Liberal MEMBER: In favour of it all over Ireland.] Then he wanted to know why the Irish Members were not in favour of it? He was bound to say that he had seen no evidence of the measure being desired by the Irish people. On the contrary, although Peti- 1591 tions signed by many influential persons had been presented in favour of the Bill, he doubted whether, if the question was put to the vote of the Irish people to-morrow, they would find a majority in favour of it. He understood the hon. Members for Dublin were opposed to it, and the hon. Members for Cork and Limerick were not in its favour. He heard a great deal in favour of Sunday closing; but what he wanted to know was, why there should be a difference between closing public-houses on Sunday and on any other day of the week? He could quite understand the position of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who was opposed to drinking at all times. The principle of the hon. Baronet was straightforward and plain; but he was at a loss to understand what principle there was in preventing all drinking on Sunday; and much less could he see why, if such a principle was good, it should not be applied to the whole Empire, and especially to England. In London they knew it had been tried, and they also knew with what result. If they were in earnest in putting down drink, the way to do so was by setting a good example. Let them begin in that House by putting down the bar and withdrawing from their clubs. Why were the Lords and Bishops and rich men, who had well-stocked cellars, to enjoy their wine on a Sunday, and the poor man not to have the right of obtaining a glass of ale? The prohibition then should apply to the club of the gentleman, and no private drinking should be tolerated. He could see no reason whatever in favour of the measure; and if the hon. Member proposed his Amendment he should certainly vote with him.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
said, that in Ireland there was a general anxiety that the Sunday Closing Act should be made permanent. There had been no change of opinion on this subject. ["Oh, oh!"] He believed he was right in saying that fully four-fifths of the Irish people were in favour of Sunday closing, and that a majority of the Irish Members would be found voting in favour of the Bill. ["No, no!"] He had attended scores of public meetings in Ireland, and found that the working classes were thoroughly in favour of Sunday closing. He would ask the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), 1592 and others who opposed the Bill, to allow a Division to be taken upon it, so as to test the feeling the House. In that case he believed that the Irish Members would not go into the Lobby against it. Indeed, he doubted if 10 Irish Members would vote against it, if they were allowed to go to a Division. It was absurd to say that the Irish people were not in favour of the principle, seeing that it had been in partial operation during the last six years, and that it had been admittedly a great success in repressing drunkenness. He would not waste time further in discussing the Bill; all he asked was that the House should be allowed to express its feeling upon the question by going to a Division.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he must complain that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had taken good care not to give an opportunity to the Irish Members to express their opinions. If the Bill had been in charge of a private Member, he (Mr. Leamy) could have understood that he would seize any opportunity of bringing it under discussion; but this was a Government Bill, and he thought it was not fair that it should be taken at a time when the right hon. Gentleman knew very well that those who were opposed to it were absent, and had not, on account of the short notice, an opportunity of being present. The hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. T. A. Dickson) had stated—and he (Mr. Leamy) would like to know how he obtained the information—that four-fifths of the Irish people were in favour of the measure; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland also stated that the Government had investigated the matter, and also found that the people were in favour of it. They were now made aware how the Government had arrived at that conclusion. The Chief Secretary for Ireland said the Executive had made inquiry of the Resident Magistrates and of the Local Government Board. He also spoke of the Report of Dr. M'Cabe, who said he had spoken to many persons well acquainted with the feelings of the artizan classes in Dublin, and Dr. M'Cabe said the artizans and labourers might be divided into three classes, one of which he described as an honest class, and he said the honest working men were in favour of it. The Chief Secretary for 1593 Ireland had stated that he did not approve of that description; but the Report went on to say that there was a certain portion of the working classes of Ireland, hard drinkers, who desired to have public-houses open, and who would get drunk whether the houses were closed or not. Of that there could be no doubt. Upon that the right hon. Gentleman remarked that the Bill would certainly put difficulties in the way of such people. Did the right hon. Gentleman not think that there were many people in England suffering from the same temptation, that he should go to Ireland in order to teach them not only how to obey the laws of England, but also the laws of God? The right hon. Gentleman quoted statistics in regard to Sunday arrests for drunkenness before and after the passing of the present Act. What he (Mr. Leamy) should like to know was, whether there was any means of ascertaining at what hour these arrests were made? "Was it quite clear that some of them were not the results of Satin-day's drinking? The arrests on Sunday were really no test at all, because arrests made after 12 o'clock on Saturday might be set down as Sunday drinking—whereas, as a matter of fact, the drinking took place on Saturday. He would submit that they should be arrests made after the time of opening public-houses on Sunday; because, if they did not, they must include a number of arrests which could not have been produced during the five hours the public-houses were open. He believed it would be found that this had not been done, and the Return was, therefore, worthless for the purpose it was quoted. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Scotland as an example in favour of the Bill. All he (Mr. Leamy) could say was that he saw a statement made a short time ago, that, in Scotland, they were doing a roaring trade on Sunday, not in public-houses, but in mock clubs. He saw a statement the other day, that the police had been occupied lately in arresting the people who made use of these clubs as they went out. Then, in regard to Wales, he saw that at a meeting lately, the Mayor, he thought, of Wrexham, stated that there had been more drunkenness in Wrexham since the passing of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales than on any other day of the week. The right hon. Gentleman had 1594 asked the question, if Sunday closing would lead to a decrease of Sunday drinking; and, out of 74 who answered, 25 were in the negative and 20 in the affirmative, and there were a good many answers which could not be classed as either affirmative or negative. It was clear that there was no unanimity on the subject. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that Sunday closing gave rise to unlawful drinking houses; and, if so, what was the good of the Act? Then the right hon. Gentleman asked if the closing would be likely to lead to illicit distillation; and on that question three answered in the negative; but he (Mr. Leamy) found that while illicit distillation in England and Scotland was very small, there being only 16 in England, and 14 in Scotland, in Ireland no fewer than 883 cases were reported last year. He thought that was not very satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman had hardly treated the House fairly in regard to this question. He knew very well that when the Act was first passed, it was only passed for a certain number of years, in order to see how it would work. Now it was proposed to make the Bill perpetual, not only in regard to the country embraced in the former Bill, but also in regard to the case of the other five cities. That was surely entirely unfair. Before they proposed to make the Act perpetual for the five cities they ought surely to see how it would work, as they had done in the counties. Then the right hon. Gentleman, who had professed his desire to carry out the wishes of the Irish people, might have waited until the Franchise Bill had been extended to Ireland. At present, the franchise was not such as to indicate the feeling of the people of Ireland on this matter. The people who now gave an opinion were, to a large extent, those who would not be affected by the Bill; but the majority of the people who would be affected had no means of giving effect to their opinions. It had been said that the priests of Ireland were in favour of the Bill. Now, he could never understand the attitude of the Irish priesthood on the subject. If the publicans were such bad people as they sometimes heard painted in sermons, surely they were as bad on a week-day as on a Sunday; and then the Irish priests, to be logical and consistent, should call upon the Government to close 1595 public-houses not only on Sundays, but also on holidays. These days were quite as holy as Sundays, and there was certainly more temptation on those days than on Sundays, because the people were all idle and crowded into the towns. In fact, holidays were of all days those in which he would have thought restrictions on drink might be required. He thought he was justified, also, in saying that if the priests were opposed to Sunday drinking in public-houses, it was open to them to come forward and set up in every village a good national club; and he hoped the Bishops and priests would set to work to found in every village a good national club and library, where they could meet, so as to give the people some means of intellectual enjoyment. In that way they might, perhaps, learn something of the sort of Government under which they lived. Another matter that he did not understand was the action of Tipperary and Wexford in this matter, and why they should he so anxious for the Bill. These two gallant counties for many years passed a voluntary law closing the public-houses on Sunday within their limits, and the Tipperary and Wexford people obeyed that law, as to which he made no complaint, because they made it themselves. However, they did not seem to be satisfied with their own laws, and so they came over there to have them ratified by an alien Parliament; and not only that, but these two counties, having passed this law for themselves, were not content until, contrary to all their principles of Home Rule, they forced it on other places like Waterford, that did not want it. He thought the Chief Secretary for Ireland had acted unfairly in bringing forward such a measure as this without due notice to Irish Members. He knew that to hon. Members in Dublin 24 hours' notice was not sufficient; and those who were not opposed to it in principle were opposed to the manner in which it had been brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman said they must take this measure before they would go on with any other Irish Business, and he charged them with keeping back the Purchase of Land Bill by opposing the present measure. He (Mr. Leamy) told him that, when resolved to oppose a Bill, he would oppose it without any regard to what Bill might come after. 1596 The Government had tried the experiment of such a Bill as the present in England, and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had inquired if such a Bill would be likely to lead to disturbance in the large towns in Ireland. He found that they were a law-abiding people, and not likely to create a disturbance; but it was an extraordinary announcement that one of the reasons put forward in favour of the Bill by the Chief Secretary for Ireland was, that the Lord Lieutenant was satisfied that there would be no disturbance in Dublin if it were passed. Did the right hon. Gentleman know what he was saying? Was it to be laid down as a principle that a good law could not be passed for Ireland without a fierce agitation, and a bad law could not be averted without riot and disturbance? It was quite ludicrous that Lord Spencer should feel such a concern for the souls of the people of Dublin. They were making an experiment on the people of Dublin, and he did not believe it would be possible to enforce the measure without great discontent. There had already been great reason to complain in Ireland of the way in which the present Act was administered as a kind of political engine, and so they would be sorry to see it extended. Public dinners to Members of Parliament were entered by the police, and people taking part in them were prosecuted. Only the other day that took place at New Ross, though he could hardly say that he was sorry for New Ross, as on Friday they had its Representative (Mr. J. Redmond), who was so insulted, calling for the extension of Sunday closing to the rest of Ireland. It was true that the Chief Secretary for Ireland stated that he had given instructions that it should be discontinued; but so long as it could be used as a political engine he did not think Irish Members would help the Government in passing it. A great deal had been said of the popularity of Sunday closing in Scotland; but Irishmen were not like Scotchmen, although he believed the Scotch people came originally from Ireland, although they had not the humour of the Irish about them. They were strict Sabbatarians, and therefore Sunday closing was, to a great extent, germane to their disposition. The Irish, on the other hand, went in for amusement upon Sunday, and marched about 1597 to the music of the fife and drum. They went in, too, for a great deal of excursion, and therefore it was not fair to them to offer them a Scotch Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had been asked to put into the Bill a clause to prevent the Bill being applied as it had been to prevent gentlemen of the same politics dining together at an hotel, and also to give the magistrates no discretion in granting exceptional licences on the occasion of such gatherings; but he would make no concession whatever to the wishes of the Irish Members. As he had said, they were told practically that until the Bill was passed, no other Irish legislation would be taken up. "Beggars cannot be choosers." That was the spirit in which they were to be treated. Well, whatever the Government threatened, he would oppose this Bill; and he thought his Colleagues, although some of them were in favour of the principle of the Bill, would oppose it also, because of the unfair manner in which its opponents were treated. He could not understand why Government should be so anxious to have the Bill passed now, especially as they could obtain, for another year at least, all they wished for by the passing of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. The country, too, would have full opportunity of understanding the measure before irretrievably committing themselves to it, for everyone knew how extremely hard it would be to get it repealed if it once passed into law. He hoped the Bill would not pass this Session, and he was perfectly convinced that it would not.
§ DR. LYONS
said, he wished to offer a few observations upon the Bill, as he had given close attention to the subject of it for a large number of years, and had likewise done all he could to ascertain the feeling of his constituents, the people of Dublin, in respect to it. Here he wished to say he considered the Irish Members had a good right to find fault with Her Majesty's Government. Some weeks ago, Tuesday and Friday nights were given to the Government, in trust, for the special purpose of enabling them to pass one or two great measures; and it was now particularly inconvenient to find them departing from that honourable engagement, by forcing this Bill upon the time of the House, while measures far more urgently called for were set aside. The Irish Members wanted 1598 to see the question of Poor Law Administration and the Law of Settlement disposed of. These matters had been pressed upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but all that could be got from him was the promise that Bills dealing with them would be brought in without delay. He certainly would have great cause to complain if the promised measure was made to give way to this one, on which there was such a wide difference of opinion in Ireland. Both he and his hon. Colleague had warned the right hon. Gentleman against bringing forward such a measure as this; but he regretted to say that the Members for the City of Dublin were on that occasion treated with scant courtesy both by the right hon. Gentleman and the Lord Lieutenant; and here they had a Bill brought in in direct opposition to their wishes, and in the very teeth of the advice they had given the right hon. Gentleman. His experience told him. that there was a strong feeling in Dublin against closing the public-houses in the City of Dublin; and although the right hon. Gentleman might succeed in inducing the House to pass this Bill, he would fail to carry with him that general consensus of opinion on which the success of a measure like that entirely depended, and the Government would go on manufacturing artificial crime without in any way forwarding the cause of temperance. This, too, was the opinion of a most illustrious individual, the wisest Prelate in Ireland, than whom no one ever upheld the character of his high office in the Church with greater dignity. He alluded to his Eminence Cardinal M'Cabe, whom he had consulted on this question of Sunday closing, and from whom he had received the following letter:—4, Rutland Square, Dublin, Feb. 18, 1884.My dear Dr. Lyons,—On the receipt of your letter of the 15th inst. I communicated with the parish priests of the city with the view of obtaining their opinions on the Sunday closing question. I need not tell you that these clergy-men have had their attention frequently called to the subject, and that their intimate relations with their parishioners give them abundant opportunities of studying the question in its relations to the advancement of temperance. Were it clearly proved that the closing of public-houses in Dublin on Sunday would have the effect of guarding our people from the dangers of intemperance there would not be the slightest difference of opinion amongst the clergy. But as there are very strong arguments for and 1599 against the measure, the parish priests are divided on the subject. On one point they are unanimous, that the hours during which public-houses are now open might be profitably restricted. On the question of earlier closing on the evening of Saturday there is perfect unanimity also, as all are convinced that excessive drinking on Saturday night is most provocative of drunkenness on Sunday. My own private opinion on Sunday closing has never undergone any change. On one occasion, a few years ago, I was waited on by a small deputation of gentlemen, for whose experience and judgment I entertained the highest respect. They pressed me very strongly to sign a declaration in favour of Sunday closing in Dublin. As the question resolved itself into a matter of mere opinion, which involved no principle, and as the deputation stated that they spoke with the authority of very largo experience, I complied with their request. I did not care to insist upon my own opinion, which possibly might be erroneous now, as it was founded on the experience of other times when, happily for myself, my duties brought me into constant communications with the classes for whom the contemplated legislation is intended. I feel now that I should not have been persuaded to sign the document in question. Reviewing the whole subject, and keeping in view the danger to which in the present state of our people the closing of public-houses all day on Sunday is likely to lead, I would be sorry to see it enforced by a stringent law. From what I have heard within the last few days I am inclined to believe that a compromise between the contending parties might be effected. I think if these houses were allowed to be open between the hours of 2 and 6 o'clock p.m. on Sunday their owners should agree to close at 10 p.m. on Saturday night. This latter arrangement would, in my opinion, do the greatest good.—Believe me, yours sincerely,E. Card. MACCABE.He had forwarded that letter to the right hon. Gentleman, and had commended it to the attention, of the Government, as it would be practically impossible to enforce such legislation as was now proposed. He had been connected for the last 25 years with one of the largest hospital establishments in Dublin, and he was sorry to say that amongst the most painful cases treated there were those of intemperance, and many of those cases were admitted during the time when public-houses were closed, and when the presumption of the law was that there was no possibility of getting drink—namely, on Sunday mornings. There were several cases he could bring forward in support of his statement, and he would refer to one in particular, in which a child, only six years of age, was brought into the hospital insensible from the effects of porter. He had taken great pains to inquire 1600 into the matter; and there could not be the smallest doubt that a vast quantity of drink was consumed within the hours when the public-houses were closed on Sundays; and they had this result—that the wives and children of early age were made to participate in the drinking, and the children had become drunkards at an early age. The clergymen who had had practical experience had assured him that the foundation of drinking habits was most conspicuous in those places where private Sunday drinking was common in consequence of the regulations in force against Sunday trading. The class of clergymen of whom he was speaking were constantly in the habit of visiting houses where it was suspected secret drinking was going on, and they told him that in numerous houses which they visited they found quantities of drink stored. In one house, in particular, was a small room in which several dozens of porter were consumed on a Sunday morning before 10 o'clock. He was speaking to one of the unfortunate people who happened to be a victim of drink, and he asked him—"Where on earth he got the drink on the Sunday?" He replied— "I have not the slightest trouble in getting drunk six times over on the Sunday before 10 o'clock in the morning." He then asked him—"How about the police?" and he explained that it was impossible for the police to check this evil of secret drinking, for those who were in the habit of drinking did not frequent the same place, but went from one house to another on different days. Similar testimony had been given him by the police themselves. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland chose to glean a little practical experience on the subject, and of the working of the Act in Dublin, and to act the part of Haroun-al-Raschid, he (Dr. Lyons) would undertake to be his guide, and he could not imagine any more useful function that he could perform than this. He (Dr. Lyons) would guarantee the right hon. Gentleman's safety among the working classes of Dublin, who he confidently asserted had no sympathy with lawless violence. He was quite sure of this—that he would be convinced that any attempt to deal with this question by prohibitory legislation, or by multiplying regulations, would be perfectly useless. Reform 1601 must come in a totally different way from that of legislative action. They could not legislate so as to coerce men into sobriety; for nothing they could do, nor would any amount of ingenuity, keep men from drinking if they wished to do so. He had had pointed out to him in Dublin no less than 70 private places in which drink was to be had; and it was perfectly impossible to deal with this evil by any direct system of legislation. The hon. Member was then proceeding to refer to the case of Scotland, when—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman has certainly spoken at great length on this subject, and the House has shown symptoms of impatience. I cannot, however, say that so far he has transgressed against the Rule in question; but, possibly, the hon. Member may see his way to curtailing his remarks.
§ DR. LYONS
, resuming, said, he was speaking on behalf of the citizens of Dublin and as their Representative; and he respectfully submitted that, on a question of that kind, he was fairly entitled to make any comparisons that were fail-and pertinent to the case. He was not ready to admit that he had repeated anything he had said; and if he had given instances which he thought necessary for the enforcement of his views, after the recent experience they had had of Cabinet Ministers talking for four hours on particular subjects, he did not think the House would consider that he had been speaking too long on this matter.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the hon. Gentleman is in Order, in discussing the question before the House, in referring to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade?
§ DR. LYONS
, again resuming, said, the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine) had evidently come there not to hear argument, but with a settled determination to vote in a particular direction, and all argument, therefore, was 1602 wasted upon him. He had confidence in the good sense and fairness of the House, and should address his observations to the numerous other hon. Members whom he saw around him. He should be sorry indeed to see the City he represented submitted to the stringent system of legislation that existed in Scotland, and which was productive of a vast amount of demoralization. He deplored most deeply the demoralization which followed the indulgence of illicit drinking. He claimed to be as strong an advocate of temperance as anyone; and he would venture to say that by inculcating temperance principles, whenever he had had the opportunity, he had succeeded in making many converts to temperance —he would not say teetotalism—in away that many hon. Gentlemen might not imagine. He always believed that the better mode to keep people from excessive drinking would be to teach them to use those drinks for the purpose of enjoyment and refreshment which they could with safety employ. For instance, he would refer to a case in which he had succeeded in inducing a number of workmen to substitute tea for porter and whisky during their work by persuasion. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I am bound to say with regard to the remarks which the hon. Member is now making that they do not appear to me to bear upon the subject before the House.
§ DR. LYONS
said, he was coming to the point. He was merely pointing out how it was perfectly easy, in a case like that to which he was referring, to insure the conversion of people to temperance, and he was going to say that these men became substantial temperance men. They did not drink again after having had this experience of the value of tea.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I was waiting to see whether the hon. Gentleman was speaking to the point. I confess that the remarks of the hon. Gentleman do not seem to apply to the subject before the House, which is that of drinking on Sundays.
§ DR. LYONS
again resumed, and proceeded to observe that he believed if more facilities were given to the labour- 1603 ing classes on Sundays for using non-intoxicating drinks there would not be so much drunkenness. That was a point in the urging of which he did not yield to his hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Caine).
§ DR. LYONS
proceeded. He thanked the hon. Member for Scarborough for his interruption. If the hon. Member was enthusiastic on this subject in his way, he (Dr. Lyons) was also enthusiastic in his way; and he hoped the hon. Member would give him credit for speaking his real sentiments on the subject. He was going to refer to the results, which he was fairly entitled to do, of Sunday closing in Wales. A very remarkable meeting took place in Wales not long since, at which two Roman Catholic clergymen spoke, and their testimony was that the result of Sunday closing had been most disastrous to the cause of temperance. They had themselves visited localities where drink was illicitly sold, and they gave a horrifying picture of the scene. Men and women and numerous children were congregated together in close rooms, with large quantities of porter before them; and large supplies were in the houses; and these clergymen expressed the greatest possible regret that they had been advocates of the measure, not knowing the demoralizing-effects to which it unquestionably led. With this evidence before them, he must say to ask the House to vote in favour of Sunday closing was to ask them to do something which was extremely wrong. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to prove that Sunday closing was capable of reforming the evil. He had to apologize to the House for speaking so long; but the question was one which so vitally concerned his constituents that he had felt bound to do so. His experience was that the large majority of the people of 1604 Dublin were opposed to the measure. The right hon. Gentleman had favoured them with a number of figures bearing on this subject. He (Dr. Lyons) regretted that there was not sufficient time to discuss them at length. He ventured to think his right hon. Friend would not question the independence, judgment, and great ability which distinguished the Irish Bench. Now, a very considerable number of the members of that Bench had particularly remarked upon the great increase in the number of arrests for drunkenness in the districts in which the Sunday Closing Act was in force. He (Dr. Lyons) had carefully avoided questions which had previously been discussed in this debate; but, if the House wished it, he was perfectly ready to go into the figures at length, and he had a large supply of figures with him which he might quote to them. He could only promise them, that if the Bill stood over to another day, he would then venture to lay those figures before the House; and he believed he should be able to show that the figures so triumphantly given by the Chief Secretary for Ireland were based on pure fallacy.
§ It being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Debate stood further 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.