§ Powers of County Council.
§ Clause 8 (Transfer to county council of powers of certain Government departments and other authorities).
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
moved, as an Amendment, in page 6, line 27, to leave out "such Order in Council," and insert "Provisional Order under this section."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 27, to leave out the words "such Order in Council," and insert the words "Provisional Order under this section."—(Mr. Chaplin.)
§ Question, "That the words 'such Order in Council' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question, "That the words 'Provisional Order under this section' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
, in moving, in page 6, line 30, to insert—Provided that, in the constitution of any such joint committee, the number of county aldermen appointed to serve thereon shall in no case be more in proportion to the number of councillors so appointed than the number of aldermen in the whole council bears to the councillors,said, he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) was disposed to accept this Amendment?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, that, under those circumstances, it would be necessary to explain the reasons which induced him to propose this Amendment. He maintained that it was a reasonable and proper Amendment, seeing that it simply provided that, in the constitution of the joint committee, the number of County Aldermen appointed to serve should in no case be more in proportion to the number of Councillors than the number of Aldermen in the whole Council bore to the Councillors. It had already been decided that the nominated Aldermen should be one-fourth of the County Council; and, that being so, he thought it would be undesirable, when a committee was formed to represent two County Councils, that there should be upon that committee as members more than one-fourth who were Aldermen. He took it that the duties of the joint committee would be very important, as the clause now stood, since the passing of the Amendment which had been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). There might also be at any time a transfer to the Council of very important functions now exercised under different Acts of Parliament, and it seemed to him that the more these matters of business affected two different counties the more important they were likely to be. It was, therefore, highly desirable that nothing further should be done than had already been done by the Reactionary Party connected with the passage of this Bill to deprive the elected representatives in the County Council of their just right of control in this matter of public business. Their rights had already been much curtailed and limited, and it was possible, unless some such provision were adopted as was suggested in this Amendment, that a joint committee of two County Councils might be composed of the unrepresented section of such Councils—that was to say, that the elected representative might be altogether excluded. In order to avoid such a case as that, he thought they ought to provide that the proportion laid down in the Act as being the proportion to be observed in the constitu- 1576 tion of the Council itself between the Aldermen and the elected representives should be observed on the joint committees it was proposed to constitute. He had no wish to waste the time of the Committee by making unnecessary remarks; but be confidently asked for the support of the Committee upon this Amendment.
In page 6, line 30, to add the words—"Provided that, in the constitution of any such joint committee, the number of county aldermen appointed to serve thereon shall in no case be more in proportion to the number of councillors so appointed than the number of aldermen in the whole council bears to the councillors."—(Mr. Conybeare.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that, of course, the Government could not accept the proposal of the hon. Member, which really placed a limitation upon the power of the County Councils which did not exist in any of the Town Councils elected under the Municipal Corporations Act. The hon. Member was probably aware that the Town Councils, as a whole, elected their committees. It was, therefore, desirable that the County Councils should also be left to choose their committees as they thought best; and, as three-fourths of the County Councils would be elected representatives, the hon. Member might have every confidence that they would be thoroughly well able to wield their just weight and influence.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
said, he wished to point out, as the right hon. Gentleman had compared this case with the appointment of committees by the Town Councils, that in this instance powers were absolutely delegated to the joint committees of the County Councils, who would, therefore, have far more authority than committees elected by the Town Councils. In the case of committees appointed by Municipal Corporations, they were not responsible for the exercise of the powers they enjoyed; but those who were responsible were the Town Councils which appointed them.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
said, his right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) must have forgotten his experience of Municipal Councils. In the case of 1577 Watch Committees, when they were once appointed they had independent power.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had stated reasons why he could not accept the Amendment. One was, that he did not wish to make an invidious distinction between County Aldermen and elected Councillors. He (Mr. Conybeare) had no desire to establish a distinction, but a distinction had already been established by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Hon. Members on that side of the House had contended all along for the principle of popular control by the popularly elected representatives of the people; but the Government, while pretending to grant that principle, had persistently withheld it, and had taken care to make their Bill a sham and a farce by the institution of County Councillors. Having done so, he thought they were bound not to raise invidious distinctions between the County Aldermen and the elected representatives. It was only right they should see that in all respects the proper limitations and the proper proportions, as laid down in the Bill, should be maintained wherever committees were constituted, and wherever it was possible that too great a proportion of the nominated members might be appointed at the expense of the elected representatives. He had not such great confidence in the class from which the nominated Aldermen were likely to be taken as to believe that in all cases the elected representatives would be properly considered, and for that reason he had ventured to place the Amendment on the Paper. The other argument of the right hon. Gentleman was that there was no provision of this kind in the Municipal Corporations Act. He would venture to remind the right hon. Gentleman that there was nothing in the Municipal Corporations Act in regard to the constitution of joint committees such as were proposed to be constituted here. If the right hon. Gentleman could show him a case where, under the Municipal Corporations Act, it was proposed that two boroughs should appoint a committee for the purpose of joint control, there would be something in his argument; but he was raising a false issue based on an entire fallacy. There- 1578 fore, there was no force in his argument; and he hoped that the Committee would not think he was needlessly obstructive if he asked for a Division to be taken upon the Amendment. He did not wish unnecessarily to waste the time of the House, but he really thought it a point that was worthy the attention of the Committee.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, he hoped that his hon. Friend, having placed his argument before the House, would not take a Division upon the Amendment.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he wished to say one or two words upon this clause before it was passed. He had no desire to go back to any of the matters that were discussed under the clause; but it must be remembered that this was the only Decentralization Clause of the Bill. In regard to the powers hitherto given, they were not strictly decentralization powers, because the magistrates were a Local Authority, and it was simply transferring power from one Local Authority to another. But this clause was intended to be decentralizing, because it gave powers that were now exercised by the Executive Government to the County Councils. He regretted that in the clause they were about to pass so very little was done in the nature of decentralization. As a matter of fact, nothing was done actually, but whatever was to be done hereafter was to be a matter for future legislation. As the matter was to be considered in future, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman, when he came to frame his Provisional Order, to endeavour to amplify the powers conferred by it. He would speak of an Office with which he was familiar—namely, the Home Office. He believed that there were powers now vested in the Home Office far more important than those which had been placed in the Schedule, and which might with great advantage be transferred to the County Councils. He had always felt, and the present Home Secretary must feel, that the Home Office had no proper staff to deal with such questions as the inspection of mines and the provisions of the Factory 1579 and Workshops Acts. Those duties were thrown upon the Home Office without providing the Office with any means of dealing with them. The consequence was that the staff was most imperfect, and the duties were not satisfactorily performed. He could not conceive questions more appropriate for the Local Authorities to deal with than mines, the circumstances and character of which varied in every locality. For instance, the mines in South Wales differed from those in Durham, those in Durham from those in the central counties, and those in the central counties differed again from those in Lancashire. He was deeply convinced of the utter inability of the Central Authority to deal properly with these questions; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman, when he came to frame his Provisional Order, would consider the propriety of transferring these powers to the Councils, so that they might be under the supervision and control of persons fully acquainted with, and chiefly interested in, the subject.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said he wished, before the clause passed, to call attention to the operation of the clause upon the Burial Laws. The whole condition of the Burial Laws was very unsatisfactory, and even discreditable. The intention of the clause, as it was originally drawn in the Bill, was to confer upon the County Councils all the powers now exercised by the Home Office under the old Burial Acts, and also the powers exercised by tile Local Government Board under the Public Health (Interments) Act, 1879. That, at least, was the view of the President of the Local Government Board, as expressed in an answer given to him (Mr. Morgan) 10 days ago. To that he had no objection; but, as a matter of fact, he found that the clause would have no such operation, for several Acts by which important duties which were now imposed upon the Home Secretary were not mentioned in the Schedule; and, moreover, several sections, both of the Burial Acts and the Act of 1879, which ought to have been included in the Schedule, were omitted therefrom. What he wished to point out was that, unless more care was taken in framing the Provisional Order Bill, they would find themselves landed in further difficulties; confusion 1580 would become more confounded, and instead of having, as at present, to deal with two Bodies, it would be necessary to deal with three.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that every care would be taken to provide adequately in the Provisional Order Bill for the administration of the Burial Law. He promised that the matter should be carefully considered before the Provisional Order Bill was drawn up. In reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), of course, like the right hon. Gentleman, he had no wish to enter into any previous discussion as to the proposals which were made originally and the proposal which was submitted now. At the proper time it would be open for the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether or not some further powers which now existed might not be transferred. The right hon. Gentleman had referred specially to the inspection of mines. As the clause was originally framed, the Government were anxious to decentralize as far as possible. They not only provided at once for the transfer of many powers to the County Councils, but in the clause they took powers of an extensive character to make further transactions of business by an Order in. Council. That had arisen from a desire to provide work for the County Councils when they were set up, and also to deal as lightly as possible with the whole matter in a decentralizing spirit. Although they had adopted now another proposal which had been pressed upon them from more than one quarter of the House, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman it would be their duty, and their willing duty, to consider the suggestions or observations he desired to make in reference to the matter. He hoped, when the Provisional Order Bill was laid on the Table of the House, that the right hon. Gentleman would feel satisfied that the Government were as anxious as ever to bring about a satisfactory and effective decentralization.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (, &c.) Kirkcaldy
said, that the clause, which was to be passed in its present emasculated condition in deference to the desire of that House to have further legislation next Session, was worth little or nothing. All that it did was to give a promise on the part of the Government 1581 to bring in a Bill in another Session. The only distinction between it and an ordinary Public Bill was that it was to be brought in in the shape of a Provisional Order Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was much too sanguine if he expected that his Provisional Order Bill would be at all like ordinary Provisional Order Bills, and would be passed without difficulty. Ordinary Provisional Order Bills were dealt with under certain circumstances; but this would effect so great a change that it was impossible to suppose that it could be introduced and disposed of in that House in the course of a few hours. He trusted that it would be a liberal Bill.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause 9 (Powers as to closing public-houses on special days).
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, he desired to make an appeal to hon. Members who had given Notice of Amendments to this clause. As the Committee were aware, it was within the right of hon. Gentlemen who had Amendments on the Paper to move those Amendments before they came to consider the question whether the clause should stand part of the Bill. Looking, however, to the fact that the Government proposed to omit the clause, he would press upon them not to propose their Amendments. In the event of the Committee coming to the conclusion that the clause should be omitted, of course their Amendments would be unnecessary. If, on the other hand, the Committee should conclude that the clause should stand part of the Bill, hon. Members would not be prevented from moving their Amendments on the Report. He hoped, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen would not move their Amendments, as that course would be very greatly for the convenience of the Committee.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, he was sure that the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would be the most convenient one, and he, therefore, hoped that it would be adopted.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 9 stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he had to ask the Committee to omit this clause from 1582 the Bill. They would be aware that originally the Government proposed to deal, not only with this phase of the question, but with the whole question of licensing and matters of that description. He did not propose—in fact, it would be out of Order—to enter into discussion of the matters touched upon in the various clauses which affected the liquor traffic. The Government made those proposals in the hope that both sides of the House would find in them, at least, a basis for a satisfactory settlement of this great and difficult question. Unfortunately, the Government had been compelled to come to the conclusion that their proposals were not likely to find acceptance from that Party in the House which had identified itself for so many years, and so honourably, with the cause of temperance. The Government had, therefore, come to the conclusion, that, as far as time was concerned, it was impossible to deal with the question. They perceived that if they determined to proceed with those clauses it would only be done after a most protracted discussion, and in the face of very great opposition. They felt that, looking to the period of the Session, it was impossible for them to hope that they would be able to discuss this question adequately, and to deal with all the Amendments, which filled several pages of the Notice Paper, and also with the other various important matters in connection with the Bill. With considerable reluctance the Government came to the conclusion that, so far as time alone was concerned, even apart from other considerations, it would be impossible for them to deal with this, and likewise with other questions in the Bill during the present Session. But it was not merely a question of time. They felt that, not-withstanding the good intentions of the Government, there had been a very considerable amount of feeling created out-of-doors upon this question. He did not propose to discuss whether that feeling was justifiable, but the fact remained that an enormous amount of feeling had been excited upon the question, and that it was likely to continue to be excited. Therefore, the Government considered that even if they were able in point of time to carry these clauses they would have been face to face with this enormous difficulty—that the first election of the County Councils 1583 would have been prejudiced by the feeling created throughout the country on this question. They were desirous that all the County Councils should be chosen simply with a view of selecting the best men, and they felt that it was most essential the first Council, looking to the great importance of the duties which would devolve upon them, should be free from the excited public feeling which would, undoubtedly, have been excited if these clauses had been pressed. Therefore, both in regard to time and the efficiency of the first Council elected, they felt it was extremely desirable that these matters should not be proceeded with. He knew some hon. Members thought the Government might, at least, have dealt with this particular question of Sunday closing under the 9th clause. But the Government did not shrink from the position they had taken up. They had always contended that these matters might be dealt with locally in a satisfactory manner; but both the considerations which had prompted them to ask the House for leave to abandon the Licensing Clauses applied also to this particular clause. If hon. Gentlemen would look at the Notice Paper, they would see that there were a large number of Amendments on the clause, and that if the clause were pressed it would probably be discussed at great length. But the other considerations he had already named also entered very largely into the question. It would be very unfortunate, he thought, if the first election of County Councils were to be complicated by any question of Sunday closing. With reference to the views of the Temperance Party, he believed there was a strong desire—as was apparent from resolutions which had reached the Local Government Board—that that Party did not desire that Sunday closing should be referred to the County Councils and dealt with in the way proposed by the clause. There was hardly a single resolution upon the question which had been sent to the Board which did not commence at once by saying the question of Sunday closing was not one that need be referred to the County Councils at all. Therefore, the Government felt that in abandoning this particular clause they were not going against the views of the Temperance Party of the country. He thought he had stated, very fairly 1584 and very frankly, the reasons which had actuated the Government in asking leave to withdraw these clauses. He had also stated the reasons which rendered it undesirable that the Committee should deal with one part of the question only. He hoped the Committee would recognize in the reasons he had given sufficient justification for the proposal the Government now made, that Clause 9 should be omitted from the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he recognized the fair and frank spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman had approached this subject, and that he himself would endeavour to deal with it, so far as he could, in the same manner. He had no desire to bring any charge whatever against the Government. He would say nothing that could ruffle the equanimity of even the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) on this subject, which he should separate entirely from the question of licensing and compensation, with which it had nothing whatever to do. He wished, however, to make one remark on that part of the question. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that some difficulty might arise and some strong feeling be developed in the County Councils, owing to the difference of opinion which undoubtedly existed throughout the country with regard to the liquor traffic. But he pointed out that if the right hon. Gentleman meant the County Councils to be living Bodies they must be given some work to perform. Unless they gave the County Councils something to do in the interest of the community which they represented, they would be absolutely worthless Bodies. They would be worthless Bodies if the Government were going to confine their work to questions on which society was neutral, such as main roads and bridges. Therefore, he thought the matters to be referred to them should be such as were of interest to the community, and on which public opinion was largely divided. He regarded the County Councils as Bodies which ought to be guardians of that which concerned the health and morals of the community over which they were placed, and, therefore, he thought that questions of a local character which affected the interest of the county communities ought to be placed in their hands. He believed that this question of Sunday closing was eminently one 1585 which ought to be dealt with by the County Councils. He desired not to occupy the time of the Committee more than he could help; but he would, as briefly as possible, remind the House of what had been the history of this Sunday closing question. Many years ago, before he was in Parliament, Sunday closing had been enacted for Scotland, and since that time it had been enacted for Ireland and Wales. Sunday closing had not, therefore, been hitherto carried out by any general compulsory law; but Parliament had felt its way step by step when it had felt certain of acting in accordance with the wishes of the people with whom it had to deal. They knew that in Scotland the great majority of the people were in favour of Sunday closing, and that in Ireland, also, there was a great predominance of feeling in its favour. They had given Sunday closing to Ireland in consequence, and when they found that the same feeling existed in Wales they had given it to the Principality, and he was convinced that if they found the same feeling to exist in England, they must, to be successful, proceed on the same lines. Besides the Sunday Closing Bills which had been passed into law, Bills had been brought forward from other parts of the United Kingdom. These were Bills brought forward with respect to Durham, Cornwall, Monmouth, and other counties. He remembered a remarkable scene occurring in connection with the Durham Sunday Closing Bill. That Bill was supported by all the Members for the county, except his hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Sir George Elliot), who said that although he did not agree with the Bill he knew that his constituents were strongly in its favour, and he could not record his vote against it. He reminded the Committee that although the Durham Bill was confined to one county it went through the House of Commons and passed a second reading in the House of Lords despite the opposition of Lord Salisbury. Up to the year 1885, there was no doubt that the Conservative Party had been opposed to these measures in their various forms. He remembered that when Viscount Cross—then Sir Richard Cross—was sitting in the House he took the line that there ought to be one rule in this matter for the whole country. He (Sir William 1586 Harcourt) had never taken that view, and he thought that experience showed that what the noble Lord advocated was not a wise way of proceeding. In his view the proper principle was that each locality should judge for itself in this matter, for he believed the greatest mischief that they could do in a case of the kind was to attempt by Parliamentary enactment to impose reforms of this character upon communities which were not prepared for them, and did not wish them to be imposed. That mistake had been made a few years ago in connection with the Bill of Lord Grosvenor, and was not likely to be repeated. He had for many years contended for the principle of Local Option in this matter as against universal compulsion, because it gave the power of applying this reform to places which required it, and saved them from the danger of imposing it on places where it was not desired. He wished to define exactly what he meant by the term Local Option. He meant the right of each section of the community to determine this Sunday closing question or any other question according to its own wishes or the wishes of the public. As he had stated on a former occasion, the matter was mainly a question of areas, and he believed the smaller the areas which enjoyed Local Option the better, because the feeling of the people with whom they were dealing would be more certainly represented. He would willingly have accepted a smaller area than the county, because he conceived that one part of the county might wish this rule to be enforced, while other parts of the same county might have a different opinion, and he should have been very glad if Local Option could have been given to parishes. The difficulty which had been raised in reference to this matter, and the reason why the principle of compulsion and not Local Option had been adopted, was because there existed no Body within the county which could adequately represent the feeling in different parts of the county and determine on the matter. They had been extremely glad, and had looked forward to the Local Government Bill as a proper means of creating an authority which would be able to come to a determination on the question. He had spoken on the views which two or three years ago were taken as between 1587 different sections in reference to this question, although he gladly acknowledged that it was not now a Party question. There were undoubtedly good friends to the cause on both sides of the House. Lord Salisbury's celebrated Newport speech in 1885 contained a declaration on this subject however, which gave great satisfaction. He need not remind the House that Lord Salisbury stated that—Looking at it from an impartial point of view, it was impossible not to see the difficulty of a uniform system for the whole country, and if the Government were not afraid of running against some rather antiquated views and doctrines they would have adopted the simple practice of leaving each locality to do what it liked in the matter.The noble Lord went on to say that he ventured to think that in the few words he had said the idea would rush to the minds of those who heard him that he was proposing Local Option. The noble Lord certainly was proposing Local Option, and he went on to say that he did not think Local Option was bad where it could be legitimately applied, and that they had adopted it with reference to the closing of public-houses on Sunday where it was in accordance with the views of the population, and was regarded as a legitimate action to take place; and the noble Lord said he would therefore be inclined to entrust the Local Authorities with this difficult question of Sunday closing, but always on the understanding that they should not be entrusted with the power of dealing finally with the subject. They were satisfied with that declaration, and he (Sir William Harcourt) ventured to say that when it was put into practical shape in the 9th clause of the Bill all Members considered it decidedly satisfactory. [Cries of "Certainly not!"] He was sorry to hear that; but, at all events, they had always looked forward to the Local Government Bill as the measure in which the principle should be embodied. If that was not in itself the most practical proposal, it had, at any rate, one very great recommendation, to which Lord Salisbury himself referred when he said in 1886 on the Durham Bill—I remember that the late Government expressed their opinion that the matter ought to be left to the judgment of the localities acting through freely-elected representative Bodies, and that that view was generally 1588 accepted on all sides of sides of politics throughout the country."—(3 Hansard,  18)He (Sir William Harcourt) entirely agreed with that. It was the view accepted by the leading Representatives of both Parties in the State, and, as Lord Salisbury had said, it was the view accepted on all sides of politics throughout the country. Well, if that were so, why was this clause to be withdrawn? Who opposed it? The Government did not oppose it, because it was their own clause. The Opposition supported it cordially. Why, then, was it withdrawn? It was said that it was connected with other clauses; but he ventured to say it was not connected with the clauses the right hon. Gentleman had referred to. The objection to the other clauses was with respect to the proposal of the Government for compensation, but the question of compensation had nothing whatever to do with the clause. As the clause had nothing to do with compensation, why was it to be abandoned? As regarded Clause 10, the Government were entitled to say that they regarded compensation as part of that clause; that the two clauses were inseparably united; and that they must be taken the one with the other; but with reference to this clause they could not say anything of the kind. It had never been so treated. At no period of the discussion of the Sunday closing question had the matter been so dealt with. The two questions were treated in the speech of Lord Salisbury at Newport as entirely distinct. Then, he asked, why should they abandon the clause, and why should it be withdrawn from the consideration of the Committee? The Government had admitted that they could deal with one kind of traffic without compensation. For these reasons they asked the Government seriously to consider whether there was any ground on which the clause should be withdrawn, and why they should not agree with Members on that side of the House to carry out what Lord Salisbury called a policy that had been frankly accepted by both Parties in the State? An hon. Member of the House (Mr. Caine) had come forward to make a bitter personal attack upon him because he had requested that the clause should be retained. The hon. Member was a great classical scholar, and he seemed to have borrowed a Latin grammar in order to 1589 assist him in denouncing him as a traitor to the Liberal cause, for proposing that the policy accepted by both Parties in the State should be carried out. The hon. Member held him up as a traitor, and charged him with having invented the County Sunday Closing Bills for Durham and Cornwall. The hon. Member's assertion on that point did not happen to be true, but perhaps he did not think that material. For his (Sir William Harcourt's) own part, he had had nothing to do with inventing the Durham and Cornwall Bills. They came before the House without his knowledge, and he supported them because he thought the proposals which they contained were good; indeed, he should not wonder if they were supported by the hon. Member for Barrow himself. The hon. Member, with admirable consistency, charged him, who, he said, was the inventor of the County Sunday Closing Bills before the House for many years, with having now, for the first time, taken an interest in the temperance cause. The hon. Member said that he had taken up the 9th clause, which he (Sir William Harcourt) had contended for for years, in order to make with it a stick with which to beat the Tory Government. The hon. Member went on to charge him with having taken that course with the object of betraying the cause of Sunday closing. He confessed that He had not been very deeply wounded by these accusations, coming from such a quarter. If he were so in any degree, he had been happily supplied with a salve in the form of an application made to him to preside over a great annual meeting at Manchester of the United Kingdom Alliance. As the hon. Member for Barrow was the Vice President of that Association, he should be happy on that occasion to preside over him. But he would not go on with this subject. There were more things that he could say; but the hon. Member for Barrow knew perfectly well the reasons that withheld him from stating what he thought of his conduct on the present occasion, and from stating facts which might have justified him in pronouncing oven a more severe sentence upon the hon. Member. Should he state his reasons? [Mr. CAINE: Certainly.] Then he would do so. His reason was that the hon. Member for Barrow himself advised him to take this 1590 particular course, although it was not the advice of the hon. Gentleman which he followed.
§ MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)
Do I understand rightly the right hon. Gentleman to say that I advised him to take the course he is now taking with regard to this clause?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, all he could say was that he did not put that Notice upon the Paper without endeavouring to ascertain the views of hon. Gentlemen who took an interest in that matter. He went to persons whom he regarded as sincere supporters of the temperance cause and of Sunday closing, to obtain their opinions in regard to the proposal to retain the clause. He confessed he did not go to the hon. Member for Barrow. ["Hear, hear!"] No; he did not go to the hon. Member for Barrow, but the hon. Member came to him. He did not consult the hon. Member as a rule; that hon. Member came to him and offered him his advice, and he listened to it with the greatest pleasure. That advice was, that he should propose the retention of the 9th clause and acquiesce in the abandonment of the 10th clause.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he must leave the matter there. There were others who knew that what he was stating was accurate. He must apologize to the Committee for having occupied so much time with the hon. Member for Barrow. But it was impossible for him to pass over the statement he had made without notice. He would merely state further in reference to the hon. Member for Barrow that, having offered him that advice, he went to one of those secret meetings whose proceedings were always published, and having changed his opinions he sat down without one word of communication with himself and denounced him as a traitor to the temperance cause. Now, that was the real position of this matter. What they had to consider was not what the hon. Member for Barrow had said, but what was the best thing to be done in the interest of the Sunday closing cause. Now he ventured to point out that the 9th clause stood upon its own merits apart from 1591 all other questions—that was to say, from the Questions of licensing and compensation. If the Temperance Party were united they could unquestionably carry this clause, and it was only through the operation of that powerful engine of Caucusing—that piece of political machinery which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) so much advocated—that the clause was in danger. Of course, if the clause were passed the Government would not abandon their Bill. Why should they, merely because their own clause had been passed which they necessarily approved of and which the rest of the House approved of? Therefore, as they would not abandon the Bill, those who desired it would get the clause and the provisions which it contained. The question was, what was going to happen if they did not pass the clause? They had heard something of people not supporting the proposal because they were offered something else. They were offered a debate on the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. J. C. Stevenson). He wished to speak of his hon. Friend with that respect which he deserved from everybody who had the interest of temperance at heart. His hon. Friend was the veteran of Sunday closing; he had brought forward his Bill over and over again. They knew very well what was meant by all that; it meant that a certain number of hon. Members wanted to give a bogus vote; that it was highly inconvenient to them that a genuine, honest vote for the temperance cause should be given; and it was on that account that the injurious machine of the Caucus had been devised. He would now inquire what was to be substituted for the clause, which hon. Members could carry if they wished, and which if they did carry would have this effect—that Durham, Cornwall and all the counties that wanted it would have Sunday closing at once under the operation of the Bill now before the Committee? To carry the clause was to carry the Durham Bill and the Cornwall Bill. He had shown what might happen if they were earnestly endeavouring to further the temperance cause, and how easily they might forward that cause by keeping this bird in hand. But he asked what about the bird in the bush? They were going to have a debate on the Bill of the hen. Member for 1592 South Shields, as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had graciously promised. His hon. Friend the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) who was a cautious man—and it was quite right to be cautious on these occasions—had asked whether the Government were going to support that Bill? Were the Committee to understand that Her Majesty's Government were going to vote in favour of the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields? They would like to have some information on this subject before they accepted the offer of the right hon. Gentleman as a substitute for this clause. Again, no one could speak with greater authority on the liquor question than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). Was the right hon. Gentleman going to support the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Very well. Would the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that the Government, whose mainstay he was, would carry that Bill through the House of Commons, and through the House of Lords? If he would say that, then he would withdraw what he had said at once. He would like to know whether the noble Lord the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) would also go bail for the Government? This was an important case, and they had a right to two bails. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale would go bail for the Government that they would carry the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields through during the present Session, he thought they might well agree to drop the 9th clause on that understanding. But the difficulty in his own mind was that the principle of that Bill was the very thing that Lord Salisbury said he could, under no circumstances, agree to. There were various other proposals that Lord Salisbury would consent to, but he said that under no circumstances would he admit universal compulsory Sunday closing for England. That being so, be thought that the bird in the bush stood in a very uncertain position; it appeared 1593 to him that it had already flown away, and that they would be foolish beyond all comparison if they were to accept such a substitution for a proposal which, if adhered to, might be carried into law during this Session. He was entirely against the proposal for giving a bogus vote in a matter of this kind. Let the Committee have a genuine downright temperance vote on this clause, and then they would know where they stood. They had seen the ingenious device before of pretending to do one thing when it was intended to do exactly the opposite. This clause had to be voted against, because it was known that if it were carried the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields would have to be supported. The people of England, and even the Temperance Party, were not so stupid as not to see through a device of this character. They knew that it was not in the cause of temperance that the hon. Member for Barrow had written the letter he had referred to; it was for a very different object, and they thoroughly understood that ho was the instrument of a very different policy. He, therefore, entreated the Government to have nothing to do with this Caucus. It was not their affair—they were entirely guiltless in respect of it. They had, he believed, proceeded in a perfectly fair manner in this matter, and they had nothing to do with this device of hocus-pocusing. What he pressed upon the Government was that they should allow this part of the Bill to stand. By doing so they would carry with them the greater part of the Temperance Party in the country; and they would give to each part of the community power to deal with a matter of great interest to itself in a manner most conducive to its interests. It might be said that there would be a law in one place different from the law in another. That would be so; but he pointed out that they had a different law in Scotland from that which obtained in Wales, and it was a very good thing that it was so, because if the clause were retained, and Cornwall, for instance, should wish for Sunday closing, it could have it, while if, on the other hand, London did not wish for Sunday closing, it need not have it. They should not attempt to impose an inflexible law of this kind upon an unwilling people, thereby destroying a principle to which a great deal of im- 1594 portance was attached. He hoped the clause would be supported on this occasion, and he could not conceive why the Government should object to it, because the question had not only been dealt with in the Bill, but Lord Salisbury had treated the question of Sunday closing as being entirely separate from the questions of licensing and compensation; and it was upon that footing that he ventured to suggest that this question should be dealt with. He made no other proposal; he did not desire to press the Government with reference to the subsequent clause; he admitted the fairness of the argument that its provisions were inextricably mixed up with the question of compensation. He did not raise that question; he desired to confine the matter solely to the principle of Sunday closing; and, for the reasons he had stated, he hoped the Committee would agree to his proposal to retain the 9th clause of the Bill.
§ MR. CAINE
said, the Committee would not be surprised that he should endeavour to follow the right hon. Gentleman and give some explanation as to the charges brought against him. He had noted his own record in this matter with some care ever since he took up the agitation against these clauses. He had not the slightest recollection of ever having consulted the right hon. Gentleman with regard to Clause 9; and he must say that if every chance conversation which took place was brought forward in the House of Commons and used as a means of discrediting opponents, it seemed to him that a fresh terror had been added to the debates in that House. He could only give the right hon. Gentleman's charge the most unqualified contradiction. There had been only one occasion on which he had ever wavered in the least with respect to this particular clause, as well as the rest of the Licensing Clauses of the Bill, and that was at a meeting of the Temperance Committee of the House of Commons, at which 24 Gentlemen were present out of a Committee of 120. The Committee met a week or two ago and discussed this question. His hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had expressed his intention to strongly oppose this clause. His own views were perfectly well known to hon. Gentlemen upon the Committee, and he had then stated that if it could be shown 1595 that there was a consensus of opinion on the part of the Temperance Party in favour of the retention of this clause he would sink his own views and support it on its own merits. That was the only occasion on which he had given a hint that he should support the clause. He did not pretend to be the equal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, either in debate or in invective; but he would like to refer to the attacks which he and other hon. Members, as well as the newspapers of the right hon. Gentleman's Party, had made upon him personally, and various Members of the Liberal Unionist Party, saying that they had made a bargain to sacrifice Sunday closing in the interest of the Government and the Party to which they belonged. The right hon. Gentleman said that the country hailed the 9th clause with satisfaction. He opposed the clause on its own merits, and, in refusing to vote for its retention in the Bill, he had consistently adhered to the position which he had originally taken up. In taking that line, he maintained that he had been fully supported by the main votes of the Temperance Party, from John O'Groat's to the Land's End. [Cries of "No!"] In March last the annual meeting of the National Temperance Federation was held, at which there were 24 delegates present, representing a total membership of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 of persons, old and young. He was President of the Body, and many Vice Presidents of the organization present to-night in the House were present at the meeting. The Annual Report had been previously circulated, and it contained a paragraph in reference to the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields to the effect that the organization was against relegating this question of Sunday closing to Local Bodies, inasmuch as the country was fully prepared for an Imperial measure of Sunday closing. All those present voted for the adoption of the Report, and not a single one said a word against the recommendation contained in the Report. The Central Association for stopping the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays were very glad to welcome so distinguished a recruit as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. The right hon. Gentleman had not always been 1596 in favour of Sunday closing; he had been recently converted on this as upon a great many other questions; but, highly as he valued his opinion, he thought that the expressed opinion of the organization which had this particular question at heart was of much greater value. That Association had been holding meetings all over the country on this subject, and what did it say? In May, 1888, the Association passed a resolution, after the second reading of the Bill and before there had been any talk about withdrawing the clause, to the effect that it was most important that no opportunity should be lost of impressing upon Members of Parliament the fact that the country had long demanded total Sunday closing, and they protested against the delay and inconvenience which must arise from referring the question to the proposed Local Authorities. He would like to read a resolution which had been passed with regard to these clauses at every meeting throughout the crisis. It was to this effect—that it was a question which need not be referred to localities for decision as proposed in the Local Government Bill, inasmuch as public opinion was already ripe for Imperial legislation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby objected to the word "Imperial." He was not surprised at that, but the words "Imperial legislation" were in constant use as applied to Sunday closing, and signified the action of the Imperial Parliament as opposed to Local Option or the action of Local Bodies. The resolution also urged upon Her Majesty's Government—and he hoped that the Committee would note this—to give special facilities for passing the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. J. C. Stevenson), as it was in full harmony with other legislation which had been attended with beneficial results. He hoped that the hon. Member for South Shields was going to stick to this legislation and not throw it over. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby to hold him up to ridicule as a traitor to the temperance cause. He was loth to speak of himself, but he had been more active in his opposition to the Licensing Clauses of the Bill than any Member—perhaps he might say than any 10 Members in that House. He had attended 32 meetings, and in every 1597 one he had advocated the withdrawal of this 9th clause with the others, on the ground that the Licensing Clauses were a thoroughly bad Licensing Bill stuck into the middle of a good Local Government Bill, and that they ought to be withdrawn. But he had always pointed out that the Temperance Party demanded total Sunday closing by Parliament, and not the ridiculous sham of this clause. But it was now contended that the Temperance Party had changed their minds. The Temperance Party had changed their minds many times during the discussion of these clauses, and he was not surprised, because circumstances had changed, and as circumstances changed opinion changed also; but he denied that the Temperance Party were desirous of retaining the 9th clause. The Chairman of the Church of England Temperance Society—[Laughter]—hon. Members might laugh, but the Chairman of that society had rendered services to the cause of temperance second to none—the Chairman had stated that their strong support would be given to the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields, and that they had always held that Sunday closing was properly an Imperial question. He had himself presided last week over a meeting of the National Temperance Federation, at which most of the federated bodies had been represented; no one could be induced at that meeting to move a resolution in support of the clause lest it might work badly and impede the Bill which they hoped to secure. The Grand Lodge of the English Good Templars had met last Friday and declared against Clause 9, and in favour of the question being fought out on the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields, although nobody thought then that the Liberal Unionists could get facilities from Her Majesty's Government for the discussion of that measure. He would now read an extract from The Birmingham Daily Post of the 22nd of June. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was so far advanced as to be invited to the meeting of the United Kingdom Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman and the House upon that, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would stand firm upon that question, and not go 1598 through the same gyrations he had gone through with regard to Sunday closing. In The Birmingham Daily Post there appeared a resolution of the Birmingham branch of the United Kingdom Alliance, which was one of the most energetic in the country, and worked not only in Birmingham, but all over the Midlands. They had expressed their conviction that the provisions of the 9th clause were perfectly inadequate to meet the evils of the sale of liquor on Sunday, or to satisfy the already registered wishes of the people on this subject, and they therefore strongly urged Members of Parliament to support the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields. That resolution had been passed on the day before the Liberal Unionist meeting was held. He would like now to ask a question, to which he trusted an answer would be given. He pointed out that the agitation against the Licensing Clauses had been a purely non-Party agitation until the Government proposed to withdraw them, and now a new agitation had set in, conducted in the name of the Temperance Party, for their retention. How was it that the attempt to retain this clause had not been made by the hon. Member for South Shields, or the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland, or some recognized Leader of the Temperance Party? How did it come into the hands of that political lurcher, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby? The right hon. Gentleman had lately had a passion for posing as the leader of movements he was wont to oppose. The right hon. Gentleman had given an account of a fancy conversation in the Lobby with himself. He would now come to a real conversation which took place.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
asked, would the hon. Gentleman say that at a meeting of his Federation he did not report as the ground of his action his conversation with him?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he asked whether the hon. Member reported to that meeting the conversation which he stated he had with him?
§ MR. CAINE
said, he was endeavouring to explain, in the first place, what was his action at the meeting. If the right hon. Gentleman would not allow him to answer the question in his own way, he would not answer it at all. His action was, as President of that Association, to find out whether or not it was in favour of the 9th clause. He had expressed his own views clearly enough, and no one present could doubt what they were. He had no recollection whatever of having referred to the right hon. Gentleman's name. He did not deny that they might have discussed the subject, but he had no recollection of it. But, certainly, he had never taken the advice of the right hon. Gentleman as to what action either himself or anyone else should take. He had never consulted anybody; he had taken his own line, as he always did on political questions. He had pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman was in the habit of posing as leader of movements which he was wont to oppose. The other day he found the right hon. Gentleman heading a procession of those who were voting against Disestablishment; in fact, he was posing in his favourite character of Uncle Pumblechook. The right hon. Gentleman had the effrontery to come to him in the Lobby—who had been in favour of Disestablishment ever since he had cut his teeth—and congratulate him on having given a vote in favour of Disestablishment, and yet it was the first vote ever given in that House by the right hon. Member for Derby; and now the right hon. Gentleman threw his mantle of patronage over the Temperance Party. In June, 1880, the hon. Member for South Shields moved that in the opinion of the House it was expedient that the law which limited the hours of sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday in England and Wales should be amended and applied to the whole of that day. The right hon. Gentleman voted against that. On the next occasion, the 30th of May, 1883, when the County of Durham Bill was brought forward, he supported it. Now the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of Local Option, and he was also in favour of the question being referred to the new County Council which was to be elected for 20 other purposes, and which could vary and repeal their orders. As far as he was concerned, he had always stood by Im- 1600 perial Sunday closing. They had it in Scotland and Wales, and they intended to get it for England. He wanted to appeal to all true friends of temperance to allow this clause to go with the others. There was no finality in it; the Council might enact it, but they might rescind it; the fight would be interminable, and at every successive election. Rightly or wrongly, he believed that they were on the verge of victory under the old flag and on the old battle-ground; the Government had pledged to meet them on that battle-ground, and he asked nothing more from them. He believed that they would carry by a good majority the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields. He hoped that all temperance men in the House would resist the temptation of this dubious proposal, and let it go into limbo with the rest of the Licensing Clauses of the Bill. But, before he closed his remarks, he desired to point out that if this solution of Sunday closing was accepted and universally applied, and the Bill went through on other grounds, it will result in a loss of revenue to the County Councils of £300,000, in consequence of the publicans only having to pay for a six days' licence. This would give a very strong bias to many ratepayers in the selection of their representatives for the County Councils, and he warned the Government that the proposal to transfer the licence revenue from the Imperial to the Local Exchequer would meet with the uncompromising hostility of the whole Temperance Party. He was much obliged to the Committee for the patience with which they had listened to him. He was sorry he had had to enter into a collision with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. He had given, as well as he could, the purport of the conversation which took place between them, and he had nothing more to say upon it.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
said, he would not have trespassed upon the attention of the Committee did he not feel bound to corroborate the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) in the statement he had just made. The Temperance Committee of the House of Commons, of which he (Mr. Johnston) was one of the secretaries, held a meeting in one of the Committee rooms upstairs to discuss the Licensing Clauses 1601 of the Local Government Bill. The meeting was presided over by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cocker-mouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) was also present. The discussion was as to what should be the action of the Temperance Party in the House of Commons in regard to the whole of the Licensing Clauses of the Bill, and after a lengthened discussion, a resolution was unanimously come to that the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Howorth) should be supported in the proposition to omit all the Licensing Clauses, including Clause 9, which was considered to be the means of carrying out the views of the Temperance Party. What other meetings had taken place, what other decisions had been come to since that meeting at which he was present, he did not know. Armed with the decision of that meeting to which he had referred, he came here to give his most cordial support to the Government in withdrawing Clause 9, as well as the other clauses of the Bill dealing with licensing. He thought it right he should ask the kind indulgence of the Committee in order that he should make this brief statement, because, as a long and consistent advocate of Sunday closing, he entirely agreed with the recollection of the hon. Member for Barrow, and with the statements he had made as to the views of the Temperance Party. None was a more consistent or stronger supporter of Sunday closing than himself; but he desired to see an Imperial measure passed in order to carry out in England the same system that prevailed in Scotland, Ireland, and in Wales, and believing that this clause would not effect that end, he heartily supported the proposition of the Government to strike out Clause 9, as well as the other Licensing Clauses in the Bill.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY (Northants, S.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had indulged in that peculiar style of argument for which he was so justly celebrated; it used in former times to be called banter, but now-a-days it was called chaff. Personally, he failed to find in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman a single grain of solid reason why this clause should be re- 1602 tained. This clause unquestionably dealt with licensing, and it had been determined by the Government to withdraw the whole of the Licensing Clauses. This clause, therefore, must go with the rest. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) that if Sunday closing was good, and if it was to be adopted, it ought to be adopted for the country as a whole. The divergent decisions of County Councils upon the matter could not be viewed with complacency, and it seemed to him contemptible that hon. Members should endeavour to shift the responsibility of dealing with a complicated and difficult question from themselves to the new County Councils. The main objection he had to this clause was, that it would seriously affect the constitution of the County Councils. The great object they ought to have in view was, to obtain the very best men to serve on the County Councils. There were in many counties, he believed in every county, a certain number of men specially well qualified to transact the business of County Councils. If this clause were struck out, his opinion was that in the great majority of cases these persons would be elected to the Councils. But if this clause were retained, he defied an Archangel from Heaven to bring into relations of amity the teetotallers and the licensed victuallers. Many of the best men in the counties would not offer themselves for election because of the introduction of these questions, and the counties, therefore, would lose the benefit of their valuable services.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said, he must ask the Committee to allow him to say a few words in regard to the proposal to withdraw this clause, and with respect to the position in which they found themselves. His right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) put the matter exceedingly clearly before the Committee. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) considered that this clause was a most valuable clause in the Local Government Bill; it was a clause to give the communities of the country an opportunity of getting rid, for one day at least, of the evils of the drink traffic, where public opinion was strongly in favour of that course. He assured the Committee that, notwithstanding the 1603 opposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine), he should give the clause his most earnest, most hearty, and most strenuous support. In saying that, he hoped the Committee would understand that he did not support the clause on what was called Sabbatarian grounds. He believed the Sabbath was made for man, and not man made for the Sabbath. He did not believe the Sabbath was made for man to get drunk on. He agreed with the Bishop of Peterborough, who had said that in his opinion every day was the Lord's day, and, therefore, every day they ought to see that order and decorum was carried on. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was quite consistent in this matter. He remembered that very soon after he came into the House there was a Sunday Closing Bill introduced, and he ventured to make a speech upon it, one of the first speeches he ever made in the House. When he sat down, Sir George Grey, who was then Home Secretary, got up and opposed the Bill. Sir George Grey was good enough to say that his (Sir Wilfrid Lawson's) was one of the best speeches which had been made upon that occasion, and added that its logical conclusion was that the liquor trade ought not to be stopped on Sunday alone, but on every day. That was exactly what he wanted Sir George Grey to understand; but then it did not follow because he was right and logical that his view was carried or had been carried out. They must always remember the great maxim laid down by Mr. Disraeli, when he said—"We must remember that this country is not governed by logic, but by Parliament." He thought that to carry out the principle of saving the people from the evils of the drink traffic even for a very short time, was right and proper. He should prefer a clause allowing the trade to be stopped on Saturday, because he believed that there was more evil done to working people by drink on the Saturday, when they had money in their pocket. This clause certainly went a little way in the right direction, and he should follow the plan he had always laid down for himself in the House, and he thought it was a right plan—namely, to take what he could get. A good example of that sentiment was afforded by the case of a man who went to be married. When the man was 1604 asked, "Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife?" he said, "I am willing, but I would rather have had her sister." He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was not like the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine), who would not take either; he was willing to take this clause, although be would much rather take an Imperial Act if it were possible to get it. Now, how did they stand in regard to the history of this clause? When the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) brought in his Bill on the 19th March, he found it necessary to do something in the Bill to meet the general demand which had arisen in the country—to do something in the direction of what was called temperance legislation. What was the meaning of temperance legislation? It had no other meaning except to diminish the temptation to drink; it could have no other meaning, and they had been promised something in that line for years and years past. Right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, as well as those on the other side, had asked them to wait until the Local Government Bill was brought in, and then they would see what they would see. Right hon. Gentlemen had often said they were going to deal with the whole question; he was always suspicious of that. Whenever he heard any Statesman say he was going to deal with the whole question, he always thought he meant that he was going to delay the whole question. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had made an attempt to deal with the question—and he gave him credit for his attempt—according to his lights; they were not very good. The right hon. Gentleman brought in his Bill, and intimated that he intended to do something in the way of temperance legislation. Now, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had pointed out that temperance legislation meant diminishing the facilities for getting drink. On the 19th of March, however, the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House, and told the temperance men that he was going to do something for them; but then he said, with some show of triumph, that he intended to place the drink sellers on a more secure footing than they were at present. His (Sir Wilfrid Lawson's) friends were at once up in arms, be- 1605 cause every temperance reformer, philanthropist, and worker among the poor had for years past been trying to put the publicans on a less secure footing. The right hon. Gentleman had very temperately stated that the country rose against his scheme, and that he found it impossible to carry it out. The agitation had settled the question of compensation, for this Parliament at any rate; but he begged the Committee to remember that the principle of compensation had never been withdrawn by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite; they were only waiting the opportunity of adopting it; at least they had never said the contrary, and, therefore, temperance men must look sharp after them. He hoped he was not travelling over ground which had been already covered; it certainly was very difficult to say anything fresh upon the matter after the exhaustive speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, but let him point out again that this clause had nothing to do with compensation. Remember that it was intended that if this Sunday Closing came into force there should be an equivalent reduction in the duty paid by licence holders. And remember, too, that this clause came in the Bill long before the Compensation Clause. This was a separate clause altogether; it did not deal with licences, but it simply said that when the County Council was appointed it should have the power to deal in a certain way with what it might consider a nuisance. He was not speaking too strongly when he called a public-house a nuisance, because The Edinburgh Review, a most respectable paper, had described the drink traffic as a nuisance, socially, morally, and politically, and the right hon. Gentleman in this clause provided the community with power, through its representatives, to abate the nuisance when they wished to do so. What he had to ask the Government was this. If they considered the County Councils competent to take upon themselves the abatement of nuisances on the 19th of March, what had happened since that they should come here and say they were not now competent to abate nuisances? He thought there was more reason now than there was on the 19th March why the County Council should have this power. Everything had been taken out of the Bill; now it was only a skeleton 1606 Bill, and everybody was wondering what the County Councils would have to do when they were elected. It had got to be a laughing stock; the House devoured a bit of the Bill every day. He had been exercised in his mind to find out why the Government had changed their views upon this matter, and he had come to the conclusion—he did not think it was possible to come to any other conclusion—that they felt obliged to do it because they thought that if they left this clause in the Bill it would tend to the injury of the great drink interest. In order to retain the support of the great drink interest, the Government said—"We will abandon the provision which three months ago we said to be wise and just." He thought that the public were openly in the face of day sacrificed for the publicans. In order that the Government might retain the support of the publicans this Committee was called upon to reject the prayer of the working classes. The Government were about to abandon their own offspring, and refuse the petition of almost all the temperance bodies of the country. Now, his hon. Friend the Member for Barrow quoted some resolutions passed by different bodies. He (Sir Wilfred Lawson) desired to show that even what were called the least extreme temperance bodies were in favour of retaining this clause. For instance, this was what the legislative sub-committee of the Church of England Temperance Society passed some days ago—That this meeting of the legislative subcommittee of the Church of England Temperance Society approves the retention of Clause 9 of the Local Government Bill.Now, he would read a sentence which came afterwards, for the benefit of his hon. Friend the Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston). This was the sentence which appeared in The Church of England Temperance Chronicle—In any case it was understood that Members of Parliament could not be bound by any resolution of the sub-committee.What a splendid resolution was it not? They virtually said—"Let us go to war, only let us take care that no soldiers fight. No one else may fight except the people who have no opportunity of doing any good." He had with him a quotation from a speech of Lord Salisbury, but he would not waste the time of the Committee by reading it, because 1607 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby had read it at length. It was quite clear, however, that Lord Salisbury laid down the very principle of this clause in the celebrated Newport speech, in which he expounded the policy of the Conservative Party. He supposed that, in spite of all this, hon. Gentlemen opposite would very naturally follow their Leaders. The rank and file of the Tory Party had determined to throw out this clause; they would follow their Leaders, and the Leaders were acting according to the bidding of their masters. This was what happened a few days ago. There was an aggregate meeting of the trade held in St. James's Hall. Lord Burton was in the chair, and this resolution was passed—That this meeting earnestly protests against the Amendment placed on the Paper of the House of Commons by Sir William Harcourt asking for the retention of Clause 9, which introduces the principle of Local Option in respect to Sunday Closing.He had no doubt that no sooner was that resolution passed than it was sent off post haste to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith), and that then he got his marching orders and gave orders to the rank and file as to what they were to do. What Lord Burton and his friends substantially said, was—"Look here, we have assembled 3,000 drink sellers. Does not that compare grandly with all the thousands of rag-tag and bob-tail who assembled in Hyde Park the other day?" The Government agreed, and they said—"We will go for the Basses, and not for the masses." Now, he had done with hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, to whom he gave every credit for their motives, but there were other people in the House beside Tories. He had seen it stated, he believed correctly, that there were in the House 57 Liberal Unionists and Tories who had supported in some shape or other Sunday closing, and among them were his hon. Friend the Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) and his hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). He would not say anything about the hon. Member for South Tyrone, because he was not present; he was down in the Isle of Thanet supporting Mr. James Lowther in the interests of true temperance. He wondered his hon. Friend the Member for Barrow did not 1608 go with the hon. Gentleman; he thought that if they had both gone the Gladstonians would have won the election for a certainty. But what was the fight in the Isle of Thanet? Why, it was the old fight, the old issue, the National Church and the national beverage against national justice and national morality. If the hon. Member for South Tyrone was as successful as he wished to be with his promising temperance candidate, next week he would return, bringing his sheaves with him, and rejoicing the hearts of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and of the Bishops and of the Basses, and of the rest of them. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow had not gone down to Thanet; but he had stayed at home to write letters. The hon. Gentleman said, in his letter to The Times—If this clause becomes law, it will undoubtedly be considered a final settlement of the Sunday Closing controversy, so far as Parliament is concerned, until it has had a fair trial throughout the country.Who were going to consider it a final settlement? Not he; that was not his policy; he believed in no final settlement until justice was done. His policy was the policy of the old Scotch Member, who said to his son, when he asked what he was to do when he got into the House—"Tak a' ye can, and be aye complainin' ye canna get mair." Then in this wonderful and historical letter, the hon. Member went on—If the Government will give an honest and workable opportunity to Mr. Stevenson to take a Division on the second reading of that Bill, by which the Temperance Party has always stood, that Party will act wisely in its own interests to let this dubious 9th clause go by, and endeavour to get such a majority on Mr. Stevenson's Bill as will secure its passing into law next Session.Next Session! Where did the hon. Gentleman expect to be next Session? [Mr. CAINE: Here.] Then, again, he went on—We are asked by Sir William Harcourt to abandon those proposals for Imperial Sunday Closing.Nothing of the kind. They might be asked, but they would not accept it; they simply would accept this as an instalment. There was a great difference between a compromise and an instalment, and he thanked the Government very 1609 heartily for this instalment. Further, the hon. Member said—For myself, I intend to stand by Imperial Sunday Closing, and let the whole of the Government proposals in regard to licensing go into limbo together.And then, having exhausted his English, the hon. Member turned to Latin. He quoted two Latin sentences; one he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) did not understand; the other one he did, because it was one of the oldest established quotations. It was, "Ti-meo—or Tim-eo"—[Laughter.] He was quite prepared to admit that although he could read the sentence, he could not pronounce it. He believed the translation was—[Cries of "Read."] Well, he would try again—Timeo Dances, et dona ferentes." It was, at any rate, a very good quotation, and very applicable in many cases. He knew very little Latin; but he knew two words, and, after reading the letter, he was disposed to say, with reference to the hon. Member for Barrow, "Cave canem"—beware of him indeed! What did all this mean? What did all this talk about taking a vote on the second reading of the Sunday Closing Bill mean? There was no pledge to carry that Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was a wily man. He was not to be drawn by him (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) the other night. The right hon. Gentleman said—"I must wait and see what I shall see." He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) knew perfectly well what he should see. The hon. Member for Barrow was reckoning without his host when he talked about getting the Bill through the House; there was another Body to be reckoned with—the irremovables. His hon. Friend the Member for Barrow knew as well as he did that it was part of the very religion of "another place" to provide drinking facilities for the people on Sunday. The hon. Gentleman had given up a certainty—it would have been a certainty if the hon. Member and his Friends had voted for the clause—for a shadowy promise of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith). Now, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) looked upon this night as a great night in the history of the temperance movement. For the first time in the history of that movement they had one of the leading men of the real Liberal Party getting up at that Bench, and in an able speech 1610 making a movement in the direction of real temperance. When he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, he remembered what his right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) said many years ago at a meeting he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) attended. He had never forgotten it. The right hon. Gentleman said—It is written, and the writing cannot be effaced, that the Liberal Party must become the Temperance Party,and to-day they saw, for the first time, a promise of the fulfilment of that prophecy. If—because right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench did not go so far as he could wish them to go—he were to upbraid them because they were not up to his mark, he could not conceive a course more silly, more senseless, or more suicidal. Did not his hon. Friend know the maxim in the House, never lose a stage, because if you lose a stage of a Bill the chances are that you will never see it again. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby that a clause in the hand was worth any number of Bills in the bush. If he could believe that this proceeding, this piece of tactics on the part of hon. Gentlemen, was taken with the desire, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby hinted, that they might have an opportunity of seeming to be voting for temperance while they were really taking care it was not carried, he should think the manœuvre was clumsy and contemptible. But he did not make such a charge against them, because he knew the Unionist Party were pre-eminently men of honour. He never read their speeches without thinking that they were honourable men above all honourable men who had ever lived, and that they were going through a species of martyrdom in defence of principle, because these high-minded men sat here night after night, surrounded by Radicals and assassins, which they could only do because they were prompted by the highest sense of duty. That being the case, he was sure that they were taking a most honourable course; and all he said was, that their innocence of the ways of the world and their ignorance of the habits and proceedings of this House was perfectly appalling. He asked them, even now, to take a wiser, and more considerate, 1611 and more patriotic course; he asked them to listen to the entreaties of their fellow-countrymen that something should be done to mitigate the great curse of drink. He asked them to listen more to those entreaties than to the ukase of Lord Burton at St. James's Hall. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain)—he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would enlighten them in this debate—spoke noble words at a great meeting held at a time when the right hon. Gentleman and he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) tried to do right together. The right hon. Gentleman said—It is the right of the community to have absolute control over a trade which directly affects their moral, social, and physical interests.Was the right hon. Gentleman going to say now that these County Councils should not have even the limited power of control which was proposed in this Bill? The right hon. Gentleman also said in that speech—A priest-ridden nation is a nation very much to be pitied, but a publican-ridden nation is a nation very much to be despised.If he might give the right hon. Gentleman a little bit of advice, he would say that if a statesman despised a publican-ridden nation, it was just possible that the nation might despise a publican-ridden statesman. He thanked the Committee for having heard him so patiently, and he had only to say, in conclusion, that he believed that they would be only taking a wise and moderate and prudent step, if they retained this clause in the Bill, and thus entrusted the English communities with that power of getting rid on the "best of days of the worst of trades," a power which was now enjoyed by the people of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH (Manchester, N.W.)
said, he should not have risen to take part in the debate if it had not been for the reference the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had just made to the resolution which was passed by the legislative sub-committee of the Church of England Temperance Society. He understood the hon. Baronet to state that there was a large number of Members of Parliament present at the meeting at which that resolution was passed. As a matter of fact, there were only seven persons present, of those only three 1612 were Members of Parliament; the resolution, too, was only passed by a majority of one, four voting for it and three against it. That, he thought, completely answered the argument of the hon. Baronet founded upon that resolution. He was quite free to admit that the Church of England Temperance Society, if it was consulted as a body, would probably be divided upon the desirability of retaining this clause as compared with the desirability of supporting the general measure introduced by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson). But, as a matter of fact, he might state that that Society had never hesitated in supporting the general measure for Sunday closing, in opposition to any measure of Local Option, or any measure leaving the question to the Local Authorities to decide. In the opinion of that society, a general measure was very preferable to any measure which would act within a small area. He understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) to state that, in his opinion, the better area would be even such a small area as the parish. That was his opinion, but it never had been the opinion of the Church of England Temperance Society, for they believed that as they limited the area for Sunday closing they would increase the difficulties which would arise in the carrying out of the Act, and they would increase the number of scandals against the Temperance cause on the borders of that limited area. Frequent references had been made in the House to the scandals which occurred on the Sunday upon the border line between England and Wales. In Scotland, of course, there was no difficulty, because the border line there was a very small one, and the whole Kingdom of Scotland was under one law. There Sunday closing had acted well, and produced most favourable results. He regretted very much that the opportunity which had been presented to the house by the Government for dealing with Sunday closing in any fashion, and more especially in connection with the other valuable clauses of the Bill dealing with the Licensing Question, should be lost. He would not analyze the various causes which had contributed to that result, but, as one good reason was quite as good as 50, he thought that the want of time—the great amount of time which 1613 would have been occupied in discussing the Licensing Clauses to the detriment of the other parts of the Bill—was quite a sufficient reason for the Government withdrawing these clauses altogether. He did not wish to stand in the way of the Division, but he felt it his duty to state the exact position of matters with regard to the resolution of the Church of England Temperance Society. If, however, there had been an opportunity, he should have liked to have made some other remarks upon various other points bearing on the question.
§ MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk)
said, that the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), in his very able and interesting speech, asked a question which was at least deserving of an answer. The hon. Baronet asked what had happened to make the Government change their mind as to the competency of the County Councils to deal with the question of Local Option? Something had happened. It was well known that the Government had been urged to and had withdrawn the whole of the Licensing Clauses. That was the reason why the County Councils were incompetent to deal with the question of Local Option. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was in the habit of astonishing the House by his observations; but he doubted whether the right hon. Gen-leman had ever given the House more cause for astonishment than to-day, when he said that the 9th clause was not a Licensing clause. Why, Sunday closing involved the reduction of a seven days' licence to a six days' licence, and therefore, whatever might be said as to the merit or demerit of Sunday closing, it could not be said that a clause dealing with the subject was not a licensing clause. The hon. Baronet would not dispute the fact that he and those with whom he acted, had very strongly urged the Government to withdraw the Licensing Clauses. Of course the opposition of hon. Gentlemen was mainly directed against the Compensation Clauses.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
asked that he might be allowed to put the hon. Gentleman right. If the hon. Gentleman referred to the speech he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) made on the second reading of the Bill, he would find that 1614 he distinctly stated that if the Compensation Clauses were left out he should not be able to find fault with the Licensing Clauses.
§ MR. W. P. SINCLAIR
said, that what the hon. Baronet had said did not affect the point that it was urged that the Licensing Clauses, as a whole, should go. Clause 9 being one of the Licensing Clauses, it must go also. It had been stated in the Press that the House had already dealt with licensing in Clause 4; that they had already transferred certain licensing powers to the County Council. Although the word "licence" did occur in the 4th Clause, it merely had reference to the licensing of theatres respecting plays; it did not, in any degree, touch the question whether for the same buildings licences should be granted for refreshments. He had only one other observation to make, and it had reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that those hon. Members who were prepared to vote against the 9th clause being retained, and to vote for the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. J. C. Stevenson), were going to give a bogus vote. Speaking for himself and all those with whom he acted, he boldly stated that they meant to vote in the way stated because they thought it was the most effective vote they could give in favour of Sunday closing. They maintained that the analogy of legislation in the past was distinctly in favour of general as opposed to piecemeal legislation. Already Sunday Closing Acts had been passed for Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. It was true that in Ireland certain towns were exempted from the operation of the Act; but those were statutory exemptions, and if it was necessary to have statutory exemptions in England, there could be no difficulty in having such introduced into the Act. He trusted that the present proposal of the Government would be accepted, and that the question of Sunday closing would be dealt with upon the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields.
§ MR. T. FRY (Darlington)
said, that as he took some interest during the last two Parliaments in the Bill for closing public-houses in the county of 1615 Durham on Sundays, he would like to say a few words upon this clause. In the first place, let him say he did not consider the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) had any more right to speak in the House for the Temperance Party than any other Member of the Party who supported temperance legislation. He denied altogether the hon. Gentleman's assertion that the temperance associations throughout the country were in favour of the withdrawal of this clause from the Local Government Bill. The last two speakers seemed to think that this clause must be withdrawn because other clauses were to be withdrawn; but after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) they saw that that was an entire mistake. The question of Sunday closing was entirely and totally distinct from licensing and the question of compensation. The hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. W. P. Sinclair) made a great mistake in supposing that the Temperance Party had even as a Body asked that the power of licensing should not be transferred to the new County Councils. All that temperance reformers had asked was that the Compensation Clauses should be abandoned. The conduct of the Government in reference to this question was extraordinary in the last degree. When he first read these clauses he never expected they would pass; they were far too good to come from a Tory Government. He thought that nothing so good could possibly come out of the Tory camp. The change in the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) was very extraordinary. The right hon. Gentleman said the Government did not shrink from the position which it had taken up, and yet it was shrinking as far as it could. The right hon. Gentleman professed to be very much afraid of the excitement which the introduction of the question of Sunday closing into the elections for the County Councils would cause. It was strange he did not think of that before he brought in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board must bear in mind that, even if this clause were withdrawn, the question of Sunday closing would enter into the elections, because the people would feel sure that 1616 some day or other the County Councils would be called upon to deal with it. It seemed to him that by this Bill an endeavour was made to give the country hopes which could not be realized. He was reminded that this Government passed an Act for the relief of agricultural tenants, and then they gave power to the parties to contract themselves out of the Act. It was as well that certain Supporters of Her Majesty's Government should be reminded of the part they had taken with reference to the question of Sunday closing. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool (Mr. W. F. Lawrence), speaking on the 24th of March, 1886, upon the question of Sunday closing, expressed a strong opinion in favour of committing this question to the County Councils. The hon. Member for the Oxford University (Mr. J. G. Talbot) also spoke very strongly in the same direction. In reference to the County of Durham Sunday Closing Bill, the hon. Gentleman asked indignantly, what was to be done for the other counties? He said—"In the name of common sense let us have a comprehensive measure, one relating to the whole country." But now, when a comprehensive measure was introduced, no doubt the hon. Gentleman would be found voting against it. He (Mr. T. Fry) was especially interested in this clause because he had put down one or two Amendments to it. One of his Amendments provided for an earlier closing of public-houses on Saturday nights. There were several Members of the House who had spoken very strongly in favour of the early closing of public-houses on Saturday nights, and no one had done so more strongly than the hon. Gentleman the present Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Stuart - Wortley). Speaking on the 2nd of April, 1884, upon the question of Sunday closing, he said he thought it would be far better if their efforts were directed to earlier closing on Saturday when working men had their wages burning in their pockets.
The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to discuss his Amendment to the clause at this stage.
§ MR. T. FRY
said, he was only alluding to it as a reason why the clause should be retained in the Bill. 1617 The Committee would remember that measures had been introduced for the adoption of Sunday closing in three Northern counties possessing a population of 4,000,000. There could be no doubt that those counties were as much entitled to those Bills as Monmouth and Cornwall, and he was sorry that Her Majesty's Government had been restrained by the slightest shriek of opposition from doing the good proposed in the clause. He believed, as the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cocker-mouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had said, that it was fear of the publican party which had inspired in the Government a desire to take this clause out of the Bill. The newspaper sometimes termed the "leading journal," that was to say, The Times, some days ago had made the monstrous statement that the clause had been inserted in the Bill "for the sole purpose of injuring the publican." He (Mr. Fry) contradicted that altogether. None of them wished to injure the publican per se. No doubt the publicans were an honourable class of men, as honourable as other classes, and there could be no desire on the part of anyone to inflict an unnecessary injury upon them. The fact was, in this controversy they did not take any notice of the publican, their desire being to ameliorate the social condition of the people, and to obtain for a large number of persons—something like 300,000—who were now engaged throughout the country in the sale of drink on Sunday, their lawful rest on the Sabbath day. They were acting in this matter from a far nobler and higher motive than a mere desire to do harm to the publican per se.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, he should not treat the deliberate intentions of the Government with such disrespect as to assume that they were not worthy of the consideration of the Committee. The Government doubtless had put this clause in regard to Sunday closing, and the four subsequent clauses having reference to licensing, into the Bill with the intention if possible of carrying them through both Houses of Parliament. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had to-night stated, in his explanation of the withdrawal of the 9th Clause and the subsequent clauses, that the Government had a real 1618 substantial desire, which they still held to and which they wished to see realized at some more favourable moment, to transfer the licensing powers from the present irresponsible magistrates to the responsible Body, the County Council. If that were so, hon. Members had occasion to ask what could have induced the Government to run away in that extraordinary fashion from their own proposals? He thought the Government had somewhat misunderstood and exaggerated the meaning of the opposition which had sprung up out-of-doors. The whole crux of the matter was this,—he believed that there would have been no opposition whatever on the part of the Temperance Societies throughout the country to the present clause, which he did not regard as a licensing clause, or to the four following clauses, if it had not been for the introduction of the vexed subject of compensation. Now let him (Mr. Illingworth) ask whether it was necessary for the Government to abandon all these clauses? Could they not have made up their minds to abandon the proposal in regard to compensation simply? That was surely a reasonable question to put to the Government; for how did the matter stand as to compensation? It had been urged—at that moment it was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that the question as to compensation was sub judice—that recently decisions had been given by the Courts adverse to the claims of the publicans to compensation in the event of the closing of a public-house, but the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that it was likely that the decision would be made the subject of appeal, and for that reason he objected to the discussion of the question. Well, but surely in a Bill of this magnitude they were entitled to ask whether it was necessary for the Government to introduce so vexed a proposal as this with reference to compensation? If, as the law stood, the Government had confidence that the publican had every security he desired for compensation, and that had been the position taken up by the hon. and learned Solicitor General—[The SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir Edward Clarke) (Plymouth): No, no!]—if the Government thought the publican had security at present, why did they not leave him in 1619 his present safe position? Why should the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board in a Bill of this nature have introduced a proposal which would give the publican a new and increased security? If it did not give additional security, it was more mysterious still why the Government should have introduced this question of compensation, which was so embarrassing to the Bill. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board declared on the second reading, and stated it broadly as a comfort to the publican interest, that the intention of the Government in drafting the compensation provisions was to give new and increased security to the publican interest.
§ MR. RITCHIE
That statement has been often repeated during the debate, but has only a certain amount of foundation. The way it is put leads to an altogether wrong inference. What I said was that it had been stated that the effect of the proposals of the Government would be to give additional security—not that it was the intention of the Government to give additional security to the publican, but that it had been stated that such would be the effect. Subsequently I stated in answer to a question put to me in the House, that in the opinion of the Government there was foundation for that statement, because it would protect the publican from the local veto which is proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cocker-mouth Division of Cumberland without compensation. In that sense, no doubt, the position of the publican would be better.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, there could be no doubt whatever that it was very possible to put a wrong construction upon the statement of a Minister in charge of a Bill, but still he must hold the right hon. Gentleman to this—that being a man of common sense and of some experience, and knowing the difficulties they were about to grapple with in the measure, he had held out to the publican interest a superior security as emanating from this Bill to that which it possessed before. He (Mr. Illingworth) again asked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board this question, if the publican had a security under the existing law, why should the right hon. Gentle- 1620 man have complicated the Bill by placing these clauses in it? He sincerely believed that the right hon. Gentleman's desire was to see brought about a mitigation of the abuses of the liquor law in this country, The Government had been obliged to abandon some cherished clauses of their own. They on that (the Opposition) side of the House, he said, appreciated many of the clauses of the Bill, and would have liked to see them carried out without this unfortunate bar of gold driven into these unfortunate clauses. He would even at the eleventh hour make another appeal to the Government, and would ask them especially as to this 9th clause—and he would press a similar appeal upon them as to the other clauses it was proposed to abandon if opportunity presented itself—to take into consideration the possibility of again setting this clause on its legs. He did not hesitate to say that the Government would meet with such acquiescence on that (the Opposition) side of the House as would render it easy to do as he suggested, if there were a concurrence on the other side of the House, and undoubtedly there would be such concurrence, that the Government would never have brought forward a proposal of this kind without being first assured of the support of the main body of Gentlemen on their side of the House. He might say that there would be absolute unanimity on this question, with the exception perhaps of a few Gentlemen whose intellect he was bound to say was clouded at that moment, and whose conscience he was also bound to say was somewhat seared. He believed, however, that the Government would find this clause received as generously by their supporters in general as the other provisions of the Bill. Even if this clause were now omitted, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board must be perfectly well aware that the whole matter would have to be fought out again, and that the time of Parliament would have to be devoted on some future occasion to the threshing out of the matter. Therefore, there was very good reason why the right hon. Gentleman should adhere to his original proposal, and with the support of both sides of the House carry this clause through. There would be no protracted discussion upon it. They could, at any rate, give the right hon. Gentleman that 1621 assurance. But the right hon. Gentleman had stated a further objection. He had said that it would be an unfortunate thing that the new County Councils, as soon as appointed, should have put before them such a vexed and heated question as this of Sunday closing. Well, if the Government had left the Bill in its original form, he (Mr. Illingworth) could imagine the right hon. Gentleman saying that the County Councils would have had plenty of other subjects to occupy their attention; but as the Bill now stood, with the prospect of its being further lightened, he could not imagine for a moment how the right hon. Gentleman could expect men of business and men who valued their time, and objected to sacrifice it unnecessarily, to come forward and connect themselves with these local Councils at all. He was bound to say this—that if these Councils were to be of any value whatever, they must take up those burning questions that interested the constituencies by whom they were returned on the Councils. What were they for otherwise? It was said that that House had its hands burdened and overburdened, and no doubt that was the case; but they had to take up the question, and they would have in the future to discuss it on its merits, in order that some progress might be made with this Sunday closing question. He thought there was every reason in the world why the right hon. Gentleman should re-consider this point, and if the interval of the dinner hour induced him to say, "Very well, in view of the general concurrence of Members on both sides in favour of the retention of this clause, the clause should not be omitted," he (Mr. Illingworth) was sure that general satisfaction would be felt by all parties. As to the question of compensation, which was unfortunately such a difficult one in connection with this and subsequent clauses, he believed the question stood thus—a sort of bribe to gentlemen who were interested in the cause of temperance to bring about their acquiescence in the provisions which followed. Well, no doubt the great majority of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House were sincerely desirous of putting an end to the evils that arose out of Sunday trading; but the delusion that so many had fallen into in assenting to the proposal of the Government to strike out 1622 this 9th clause was that they were to have a discussion upon this question of Sunday closing generally on a Sunday Closing Bill. Well, he desired to know whether the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) had any security from the Government that they would give any facility whatever for the discussion of that Bill or any support to a Bill dealing with the subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) had said that it was his intention to support that Bill. Yes; but something more than that was necessary. If Gentlemen who were anxious on this Sunday closing question were to have any substantial comfort, and the question was to be at all advanced, they should have some undertaking from the Government that both in this House and in "another place" they would give the measure all the support in their power. He (Mr. Illingworth) was afraid they could not reckon very much on the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, because that right hon. Gentleman was in an unfortunate position. He had made it clear that he would not further curtail the rights and privileges of the publican interest without compensation being given to them. Well, if he were to vote for this Sunday Closing Bill, and the Bill became law, it was clear that one-seventh of the publicans profits would go. It was quite true the right hon. Gentleman did not act in that matter on Sabbatarian grounds, because he did not hold Sabbatarian views; but he was opposed to Sunday trading, because he knew that more drinking went on on the Sunday and that the evils of intemperance were more prevalent on that day. If Sunday closing were passed with the right hon. Gentleman's support, on the ground that the evils of drinking were greater upon a certain day, would he be prepared subsequently to adopt that argument as to another day in the week; because unquestionably there would be similar ground for such argument. The right hon. Gentleman was evidently in a difficulty in this matter, because while he did not wish to interfere with the publicans' rights and privileges in that way, their privileges would be whittled away by degrees. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow had given Notice of opposition to all the Licensing 1623 Clauses, but had not given Notice of any opposition to that clause. Reference had been made by the hon. Member for Barrow to the meeting of the Members connected with the Temperance Party upstairs, and as the subject had been touched upon in a candid spirit, and no reluctance had been displayed in dealing with it, he might mention the course the hon. Member himself took when the question of these clauses was considered at that meeting. It was evident from the outset that the hon. Gentleman was about to take a very peculiar course, and while some Members were urging that they ought to press the Government to stand by this clause, the hon. Member pointed out that the Government would put the closure on if it was attempted to discuss these clauses. Well, he (Mr. Illingworth) had far more faith in the sound sense of the Government than he had in that of his hon. Friend, and he declared at the time that he did not believe they would run very much risk in the matter—that the Government had given Notice of their intention to withdraw the clause, and, that being so, they were bound to allow the House of Commons to express its opinion on the subject of that withdrawal—and he was glad to be able to add that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, in moving the withdrawal of this clause, had left an opening for the fair and reasonable consideration of the proposal. He (Mr. Illingworth) could only add, in conclusion, that if the Government, weakly as he considered it, abandoned the clause at that moment, they would add to the embarrassment of Parliament in the future. Nobody expected that the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) would be carried this Session. It was to be relegated to next Session. The Government had been very careful not to overburden itself with obligations for this Session. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board and his Colleagues would not deny that next Session had in prospect for them an increased and greater variety of work than they had undertaken this Session. It was impossible that they could stave off many other important questions. What, then, would be the prospect of this Sunday Closing Bill in the hands of a private 1624 Member? Was it possible for the Government to take it it up and treat it from an Imperial standpoint? He had no such anticipations, and, therefore, it was that he would urge the Government to stand by this clause, and to let them have a bird in the hand rather than a bird in the bush which would have so many opportunities of eluding their fingering in the future. It was a matter for serious consideration on the part of the Government whether they would follow the wiser and better and more rational course on this matter of keeping in the clause, or whether they would yield to the clamour of the publicans' interest and strike it out. That was the difficulty of the Government. They had a large majority in the House of Commons ready to support them if they went forward with the clause, and he sincerely hoped that, in the interest of the well-being of the country, they would not allow it to be dropped.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
said, he had had an opportunity of attending the temperance meeting of hon. Members to which the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) and the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Illingworth) had referred, and perhaps he might be allowed to explain where the hon. Member for Barrow was wrong in the position he had taken up. No doubt, if there were a prospect of getting a Sunday Closing Bill entire, the temperance advocates in the House would be in favour of it; but there was not a very clear prospect of such a Bill being passed, and the hon. Member had no right to say that the Temperance Party were opposed to the present clause. They supported it as it stood, though, no doubt if they could get public-houses shut up everywhere on Sundays, the majority would be in favour of it. The hon. Member for Barrow had put down Notice of opposition to every one of the Licensing Clauses except this, therefore, the hon. Gentleman must be taken as holding that this clause was one which should not be got rid of. Unlike the hon. Member, he (Mr. Cossham) could not vote against the clause, which would go very far in the direction he desired to proceed. Ho admitted that the clause did not go so far as he should like, but it went in his direction, and he believed that the effect of its being passed would be to reduce very largely 1625 the evils of the liquor traffic on Sundays. He certainly did not understand how anyone, with the interest of temperance at heart, could go against the clause. He could understand the argument, that in voting for the clause some injury might be done to the Government; but that argument would have no weight with him, as he valued the clause far more than the Government. He was certainly grateful to them for having proposed it, but that gratitude was considerably tempered, seeing that they now proposed to abandon it. He was very sorry they had come to that determination. He did not think there was a question which had made so much progress in this country as Sunday closing, and whether the Government abandoned the clause or not, he was sure that in this country we were getting within reach of Sunday closing. He supported the clause, not only on the ground of Sabbatarianism, but because he thought if they prevented all other forms of trade on Sunday, they ought certainly to put a stop to that particular form which was most dangerous. Surely the sale of liquor was not more necessary than the sale of food and clothes, and yet the sale of food and clothes was prohibited, while the sale of intoxicating liquor was not. If they made an exception at all in this case, it should not be in favour of a traffic which was dangerous to the public safety. He desired to see the clause passed, because he recognized the great principle which the noble Lord at the head of the Government had recommended to the country. He could not understand how the Government could abandon a clause which its own Head had put before the country distinctly as a separate question. He should have thought it an insult to the Head of the Conservative Party to withdraw this clause from the Bill, seeing that the noble Lord had advocated this principle on more than one occasion. He (Mr. Cossham) advocated the cause, not because he desired to see a Party triumph secured, but he advocated it on its own merits, because he believed it would work a vast amount of good. He desired to add his appeal to that of the hon. Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) to the Government to reconsider the position. He could assure them that if they would give the country this clause, they would lay the whole 1626 community under a great obligation to them. They would be putting a check upon the tendency of the present licensing arrangements to demoralize the people, and the people would be proportionately grateful. Let them, in connection with this Local Government Bill, by all means retain one of its most important sections—namely, the clause which would put power into the hands of the people to control this drink traffic on Sundays. He should like to see it go farther, and give them not only Sunday closing, but closing on election days, and even the day after elections, if possible, as he believed in that way the interests of the public would be served and elections would be rendered much purer that at present. He appealed to the Government not to withdraw the clause.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
(who rose amidst cries of "Divide! Divide!") said, that when he read a telegram which he had received from one of his political opponents, hon. Gentlemen who cried "Divide!" would see he had some reason for desiring to speak. This was the telegram to which he had referred, and which he had cherished so closely that it had come to pieces. It was from a gentleman connected with the Cornwall Sunday Closing Association, and it was in these words—The Cornwall Sunday Closing Association Executive Committee. At a meeting now being held, urge your utmost efforts to get the 9th clause retained.Now, that mandate, which was only a few days old—not two years old, like that of the Government and the Unionists—had come to him, as he had said, from one of his political opponents in the division he had the honour to represent. That telegram, in conjunction with the fact that all his supporters were heartily with him on this question, entitled him, he thought, to say that his constituents were unanimous in favour of the retention of this clause, and he should be as false to his duty as those hon. Gentlemen who called themselves Liberal Unionists, but whom he called dissentients and violators of their principles, who now supported the Government in their proposal to abandon the clause, if he did not lift up his voice in support of an opposite course. He had noticed that throughout the passage of this measure 1627 the Government had been whittling away everything that was good in it, and that as there was very little of that commodity at the commencement, there was now very little left except what was bad. He would, with the permission of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, answer the interruption which had occurred a short time ago, and ask him whether he still adhered, in the face of the quotations which he (Mr. Conybeare) would make from his speech, to what he had said just now? When the right hon. Gentleman had heard these quotations, he (Mr. Conybeare) would not trouble himself to refer further to the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, and he would, therefore, be at liberty to go to his dinner with a clear conscience. It was true, as the right hon. Gentleman had said just now in answer to an hon. Member, that he had used this argument—It might be said, with some justice, that the publicans would undoubtedly be under a portion of the clause in a much more secure and favourable position than they occupied at present.The right hon. Gentleman asked them to believe that he was merely dealing with this argument, and that he did not in express terms admit that he was putting the publicans in a more secure position.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he begged pardon. He had said that the publicans would be placed in a better position.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, then he did not see the object of the right hon. Gentleman's previous interruption. It had been laid to the charge of the right hon. Gentleman that he was confessedly placing the publicans in a better position, and that he knew it, and he understood the right hon. Gentleman's previous interruption to mean that he disputed that assertion. He had gone on to say, after he had put an argument as he supposed others would put it—"We say to the trade we recognize your claim to compensation, and we give you practically a vested interest by the Bill." The hon. and learned Solicitor General would perhaps no longer adhere to the opinion that publicans had a vested interest in their business. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had said, "We give you practically a vested in- 1628 terest by the Bill, and we think that in consideration of placing you on so much more secure a footing than you at present occupy, we may fairly ask you to pay something more than you do at present for your licence." That appeared to him (Mr. Conybeare) a sentiment so straightforward, ingenious, and positive that he could not understand the right hon. Gentleman making any attempt now to explain it away. As he had said before, he (Mr. Conybeare) had understood, and he believed other hon. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House understood the right hon. Gentleman's interruption to mean that he did not express that sentiment in, at any rate, so positive a manner. But there was only one interpretation to be put upon that sentence. However, he (Mr. Conybeare) would not press that point further. He was more interested for the moment in dealing with some of those statements made by the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine), who seemed, with all his taunting of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), to be taking everybody and everybody else's interests under his own special patronage, and to think that no one had a right to speak on the Temperance Question but himself. The hon. Gentleman seemed to assume in the most patronising way imaginable the presidency and leadership of every Local Option organization and Temperance society, federation, or association in the country. He came down to the House, and in a most grandiloquent way, surveying the Empire from China to Peru, assured the House that he only was entitled to speak on behalf of the Temperance cause, when, as a matter of fact, whether they looked at Land's End in the South, or went North to John o' Groat's House, there was no Temperance association in the country which had not expressed itself in favour of the retention of this Sunday closing clause. If the hon. Member for Barrow supposed that the people of Cornwall were not in favour of the retention of the clause, he knew as much about their opinion as he did, when, some time ago, he went down to try to get a Dissentient Liberal returned in the county. There were some Members of the House who were black sheep in the Cornish fold. There was the hon. Member for the Truro Division (Mr. 1629 W. B. Smith), who possessed few friends, either among Tories or Liberals, and he challenged the hon. Gentleman to say whether he proposed, either by his voice or his vote, to try the sentiments of his constituents, or to support his allies on those Benches in their attempt further to emasculate the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman ventured to vote for the excluclusion of the clause, it would, he thought, take a great deal more than his eloquence to persuade his constituents to return him at the next election. Then there was the hon. Member for the Western Division of the county (Mr. Bolitho), who had declared himself very strongly against the Compensation Clauses. What he had said in particular with reference to the 9th clause he did not recollect; but he trusted he would state in the name of his Cornish constituents whether they wished the clause to be retained or not. He ventured to think the hon. Member would, to use a Cornish phrase, find himself in a very tight place if he did not speak in favour of the clause. One would have thought on an occasion like the present that the Tory Member representing one of the most temperate and sober counties in the country, and being specially commended—the Members for Penrhyn (Mr. C. W. G. Cavendish Bentinck) and Plymouth (Sir Edward Clarke and Sir Edward Bates)—would have taken sufficient interest in this important clause, which was regarded in Cornwall as more important than all the rest of the Bill together, to come down and see that the interests of their several constituencies were safeguarded by the retention of the clause. The Cornwall Sunday Closing Bill had been before the House before and since he had the honour of a seat in it, and it had only been prevented from becoming law by systematic obstruction. The right hon. Baronet the Member for North-East Manchester (Sir James Fergusson) had spoken on this matter, and had explained that the want of time amply justified the Government in throwing over the Licensing Clauses. That was a fallacious argument; want of time might have justified them in that particular, but this clause had nothing whatever to do with the licensing scheme of the Government. Moreover, it was ridiculous for the Government to take up that position, because they had 1630 entered into a contract with Members on that side of the House that if they would support them they should have a whole day for the discussion of the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson)—that was to say, they allotted a day of the Session to be used on a Bill which they had not the slightest intention of pressing forward. When the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury was asked the other day whether the Government intended to allow the Imperial Sunday Closure measure to go beyond the second reading, he said that he did not intend to do anything of the kind. They knew then that the whole thing was one of those little comedies which the Government were in the habit of getting up for the entertainment of light-minded people throughout the country, and that they had no intention of assisting the progress of the Bill if it was read the second time, or of advising their Friends in the Upper House to have anything to do with it. The hon. Member for Barrow, in the most candid manner, had said that the Bill was to be passed with his assistance; but he and his hon. Friends were not content with that—they intended to fight for the clause, and for the Imperial measure as well. They were not going to give up their first line of defence, and fall back on their second, until they were compelled to do so. If it were true that the Temperance Societies throughout the country had expressed themselves, as a whole, ready to give up the clause, he could only say that every one of them had been false to their principles. He would ask the right hon. Baronet the Member for North-East Manchester what the Church of England Temperance Society was going to do in this matter? They professed, as an association, to be in favour of Temperance principles; but when an election came, what did they do? How many parsons in the Isle of Thanet were going to vote for Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen, and how many of them were allied with the publican interest? If the right hon. Baronet were sincere and his Friends were the same, they would not merely support the Temperance Party on every occasion at the polls, but they would make use of the pulpits open to them to declaim and preach more than they did against the evils of intemperance. The 1631 hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston) was, at any rate, honest in his convictions and the manner in which he carried them out; and upon this matter of temperance he (Mr. Conybeare) always listened to him with the greatest respect. He had told the Committee that he was going to give his hearty support to the Government; but he would ask the hon. Member if he were prepared, in consideration of giving that support, to do what his Temperance principles should insist upon his doing—namely, to urge upon his Leader to carry forward the Imperial measure for Sunday closing which was to come from that side of the House? That, he thought, was the least the hon. Member could do under the circumstances. Then the hon. Baronet the Member for South Northampton (Sir Rainald Knightley) had advanced the argument that it would be cowardly to shift the burden of this question on the new County Councils. He (Mr. Conybeare) confessed that it had been his opinion that the County Councils should do something for the benefit of the people, and they were now told that they were to do nothing of the sort; but he would point out to the hon. Baronet that there was nothing cowardly at all about the proposal. The hon. Baronet was an advocate of the principle of Local Option, which meant that the locality should have the responsibility of deciding for themselves on the question, and it meant, consequently, that the County Councils should have the question to decide however difficult and thorny it might be. The Committee were now discussing a clause which provided that the elected representatives of the people should have the decision of these matters, and he was content that it should rest there; he was quite content that the County Councils should, in the first place, have the power of Sunday closing, and have afterwards the power of putting in force the general veto or disestablishment of public-houses in whatever form or by whatever methods they might choose to adopt. He would like to put forward a very pertinent argument. In one part of the Metropolis—and, he believed, in other parts of the country—as he had evidence to show, poor children were sent on Sundays to public-houses to get liquor for their parents, and paid or rewarded by the publicans 1632 with sweetmeats and other presents for bringing custom to their doors. That was a most scandalous state of things, and he advanced it as a strong argument for striking a blow at once at this nefarious system, which was so disgraceful that it ought to induce every honest man to vote for the retention of the clause. If the clause was passed, there was nothing whatever to prevent hon. Members on that side passing into law the measure which was to be discussed at a later day as the Government desired. They were so honest in their efforts to stay the corruption and demoralization of the people through drinking habits, that they were anxious to pass a double measure of security—that was to say, to pass the clause, and follow it by something more general or universal. Some hon. Members had pointed out what was not quite accurate—namely, that the clause was part and parcel of the whole scheme of licensing; but he had shown that that was not so. If the clause were so essentially a part of the whole Government licensing scheme which included the question of compensation, he asked the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) if he was going to introduce into the measure of the hon. Member for South Shields a clause giving compensation to publicans? Again, how was it, on the same principle, that the clause had not been introduced into the Irish, Welsh, and Scotch Sunday Closing Acts? Looking either to the past or the future, it would be ridiculous to suppose, on the one hand, that the hon. Member's Bill could pass with any Compensation Clause; and, on the other hand, experience had shown that there was no foundation whatever for considering the Compensation Clause in any way part and parcel of a Bill connected with Sunday closing. The only other argument they had heard against the clause was that excitement which the question of Sunday closing would cause at the poll. The Government were always asserting their trust in the people; but directly they were asked to put the settlement of this matter into the hands of Bodies elected by the people, they said it would produce too much turmoil at the elections. That seemed to prove that the supporters of the Government, the country squires, did not expect much success if they had to run against the 1633 popular vote on the County Councils. His excuse for detaining the Committee at such length was that all the Members for his county had disappeared from the Committee, and he had been obliged to roll all their speeches into one. He could not be accused of wasting time. It was the Government who were doing that—the Government which set up that ancient image of respectable mediocrity, who always found it his duty to save every precious second of the time of the House. It was the Conservative Party which wasted more time than hon. Members on that side ever took up in discussing the question. It was the bungling method of conducting their Business on the part of the Government which had necessitated their speaking at some length that night on this important question; it was their fault that he and his hon. Friends had to travel over the same ground, whenever the time came for the Government to carry out its contracts with their Dissentient allies in that House; and on those two grounds he hoped ho should not be unfairly treated by being accused of unduly taking up the time of the Committee.
§ CAPTAIN EDWARDS-HEATHCOTE (Staffordshire, N.W.)
said, that as on this occasion he was unable to support those with whom he usually voted, he desired shortly to state the reasons why he was unable to do so. He quite admitted the difficulties of the Government and the shortness of the time at their disposal for disposing of such a measure of Local Government reform as the present; but he did not think they had fairly made out their case for treating this clause and Clause 10 as Siamese twins, the death of one of whom involved the death of the other. It seemed to him that there was no reasonable connection between Sunday closing and what were commonly called the Compensation Clauses. Sunday closing in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland had been carried out without any recognition of the principle of compensation, and he was not surprised that there should have been no such recognition, because it would surely be as absurd to compensate a publican for shutting up his house on Sundays as it would be to compensate a butcher who was compelled to shut up his shop on Sundays. It would be indeed difficult to maintain that, although it might be beneficial to the health and 1634 morals of the people that they should be able to buy beer on Sunday, it would certainly be most injurious that they should buy beef on that day. He wished to see real Local Option; but hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to be in favour of giving Local Option in all localities where they were certain that the majority was in favour of Sunday closing and trust to Imperial Sunday closing to shut up public-houses in localities which were opposed to it. He wanted the option to be real—that was to say, he wanted the localities to be enabled to decide whether or not the public-houses should be closed on Sundays. He also wanted the County Councils to be able to change their minds, and have absolute freedom to reverse the decision at which they might arrive in the event of it being found unsuited to the wants of the localities. He thought that Imperial Sunday closing all round would be very objectionable; because it would treat all places alike. The circumstances, wants, and wishes of the inhabitants of localities differed very widely, and it was a very different thing to shut up a small public-house in the moorlands, where a Sunday customer was almost a phenomenon, and to shut up one in a village close to a town which might be considered as the Sunday lungs for a town population. In one case, he would consider the application of the principle desirable, and in the other very undesirable. These were not now views. He had been somewhat freely criticized for having, in his election address in 1885, stated that he was in favour of the establishment of County Boards, to which the interests of the different localities might safely be entrusted, including all matters relating to Sunday closing, Local Option, and the sale of intoxicating liquors. He was sorry that the whole of this was not in the clause under discussion; but he accepted it as at least a large instalment; and, therefore, although he regretted not to find himself in accord with those with whom he usually acted, he should, without the slightest hesitation, vote with the right hon. Gentleman for the retention of Clause 9.
§ MR. FIRTH (Dundee)
said, the remarkable phenomenon in this debate was that if the clause were lost, it would be through the action of those professing to be Temperance Reformers. It 1635 would be a most extraordinary thing, and one which the country would undoubtedly take note of. There had been since the introduction of the Bill delay after delay in order that the proposals of the Government to abandon their own suggestions might be discussed. There had been four important occasions on which the Government had marshalled all their Supporters for the purpose of voting for clauses, and they were afterwards told that they must vote for these clauses being expunged; and that was the position they were in that evening with respect to the Sunday Closing Clause, which he presumed was brought in after consideration, and after the Government had discussed it with their friends. It was one of the things which made hon. Members on that side look at the Bill with some amount of respect and esteem, and they thought that the County Councils were the proper Bodies to deal with the question. It was a clause of the Government which they had asked their Supporters to support, and now they were striking it out of the Bill. The hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) had talked about Imperial Sunday closing; but he must be aware that that was a very different thing to adopt as compared with Sunday closing by County Councils. The County Councils, it should be remembered, dealt with different classes of opinion. Having had the privilege of sitting for London, he could say that it would be perfectly impossible to vote for Sunday closing for London, because it would be contrary to the habits and wishes of the vast majority of the people. But it would be quite a different thing to have Sunday closing for Cornwall and Durham. Men who told them they had devoted their lives to the promotion of temperance were about to adopt the proposals of the Government, and to give up the clause which they admitted they could pass, so that the Bill of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. J. C. Stevenson) might be discussed. Did anyone suppose that the Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) would support that Bill? No. When the clause was struck out, and the Bill came forward, the Government would simply put it on the floor of the House and trample upon it. Then he said that the loss of the clause, which meant the loss of 1636 Sunday closing through the life of the present Parliament, would be due to Temperance men entirely, and they would have to square that matter with their constituents. The position of those who were in favour of the clause was that they had to stand up night after night to defend some excellent proposal of the Government, and the result of whose action would be that, in the end, there would be nothing left in the Bill worth defence. At present, there was something in it to strive for; but the Government were taking it away bit by bit, and putting Members on that side in a most anomalous position; they had come down to support the clause, but the time might come when they would be obliged to kick out the Bill itself. They had defended the Government proposal as well as they could, and yet the clause was to be struck out. But it was necessary that the country should understand that the men responsibile for this were those who had suggested to the country that they were in some way interested in the promotion of temperance.
§ MR. HOWORTH (Salford)
said, he would endeavour to limit the remarks he had to make to a rather narrow issue, and one which he thought was rather more germane to the discussion than a great deal of what they had heard in the House that night. They were not there to discuss whether Sunday closing was a good thing or a bad thing. That was a very large question, about which most of them had formed an opinion. They were there to discuss a very much narrower issue—namely, whether it be wise or unwise to load the first elections for these County Councils, which would be the most important and most critical experiment that had ever been made in revolutionizing local England, and its institutions, with a polemic which was sure to imperil the existence, the status, and the future of these Councils. It seemed that that was the question which was at issue that night, and he thought an example of the rancour and bitterness which this polemic would raise was afforded in the discussion only a few moments ago. If they could, with a light heart, take that as an example of what they would like to see imported into every hamlet and every village in England, before they sent these new County Councils on their way, he con- 1637 ceived that they must have a very fertile hope if they expected very much from the new Councils. It was contended that the Government had conceded the fact that it was wise and right that the County Councils should deal with the question of Sunday closing by inserting this clause in the Bill. The answer seemed to him to be both plain and clear. The Government, when they had to face the reorganization of these local County institutions, had, no doubt, before them the problem of trying to solve, if possible, by some rational and fair means, this great drink question which had been a terror to all hon. Members upon every platform and had pursued them in every election. [Opposition ironical cheers.] The hon. Members might cheer; but the shoe had not only pinched hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House, but had also pinched hon. Members on the other side of the House. In private conversations he had not met with one responsible man in the House who did not express the great hope and wish that this interminable question, which was a perpetual torment to them, should be solved by a measure which should have an element of finality about it. The Government did introduce in their Bill a number of clauses which they hoped would have been accepted as more or less a final and complete settlement of the question. Instead of being accepted as a final and complete settlement of the question those clauses had been repudiated as a settlement of it by one of the great Parties to the issue. Now, that being the case, the conditions were entirely altered. So long as the Clauses were accepted as a solution, it was pretty fair and rational that they should entrust the Local Bodies with the mere administrative duty of carrying them out, because the polemic would have come to an end. But so long as the question remained an open question they were merely acting a cowardly part in removing it from this floor, where they had a wide public opinion, and where they could have the question debated on a wide platform, to the small bodies which were under influences which were anything but generous and wide, and the election of which would be the occasion of quarrelling. They, who represented the larger towns in the North of England, and had had 1638 some experience of municipal institutions, had been told sometimes that it was not their place to take an interest in the discussion of this Bill, which provided for the application of the same municipal institutions to rural England. It was because they had seen these institutions working in the way they had seen them working in the communities in the North, where they had a great deal of active and a great deal of commonable public life, that they did not want to see the experiment, when it was tried in the counties, wrecked by what they knew and felt from their experiences would inevitably wreck them—namely, the importation into them of discussions upon questions which would inevitably degrade them. As it was they had at the present time the greatest difficulty in finding men who would contest the municipalities, and whom they felt to be men of judgment and men of capacity and men of position. Such men found the position exceedingly irksome—increasingly irksome—on account of the introduction of political questions which had little to do with real local life. And yet when they were going to introduce an experiment into an entirely unknown country and going to begin anew, as it were, with our country life, it was proposed by some hon. Members to tie round the necks of the new institutions a most perilous load which they could not possibly bear. There was no question which divided people so much in a great many of the northern counties as the question of drink, and he felt, speaking as an urban Member, the greatest possible dread that in many of our towns where the Corporations had not been composed always of the very best men, such as they liked to see on Corporations, the representative Bodies would be still further degraded, and perhaps there would be still further difficulty in finding suitable men to take office if these questions were entrusted, to them. But if this was so in towns it would be still more so in country districts. Surely all hon. Members were wishful, that if possible, the best men in the country should take their seats on these County Councils. They wanted, if possible, to have men with the greatest stake and the greatest experience and the greatest knowledge of affairs to take their seats on these County Councils. But many of 1639 these men, who were old men, who were men who had plenty of money and occupation elsewhere, would not be tempted to enter the arena, if that arena were made the place where fights were to take place, not upon local affairs, not as to the way to manage roads and prisons, or as to the way to do a great deal of the work which was now done by the Local Government Board, but upon the question of the drink traffic. This was the reason why he ventured to put down Amendments, the effect of which would be that the whole of the Licensing Clauses would be struck out en bloc. The more he thought of this question the more he thought that these considerations ought to have very great weight indeed with the Committee when it determined whether or not the drink question should be made one of the test questions at all the elections for the County Councils. He thanked the Committee for the patience with which they had listened to him. He felt that in stating what he had stated he had tried to bring the Committee back from those questions which were a long way from the issues before them. The real issue was whether the new County Councils should have the duty of deciding whether there should be Sunday Closing or not. Personally, he thought they would do the County Councils very great injury indeed if they imported into the elections of those bodies, not only an irrelevant, but a pernicious polemic.
§ MR LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth) had stated that they were not there to discuss Sunday closing. He (Mr. Labouchere) perfectly understood that hon. Gentlemen on the other side were exceedingly anxious not to discuss Sunday closing; but they, on the Opposition Benches, were there to discuss Sunday closing. They were anxious there should be Sunday closing, and they thought they found it in this clause. For that reason they were in favour of the clause. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Howorth) had trotted out the old Tory argument of a complete settlement of the question. They had heard that argument usque ad nauseam. Hon. Gentlemen opposite professed to be anxious for reform; but if the measure was a small one, they said they would not vote for it because it was 1640 small; but if it was large, they said they would not vote for it because it was not small. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford said he was anxious that the County Councils should not be degraded by discussions on the liquor question [Mr. HOWORTH: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member cried "Hear, hear!" but when were the questions to be discussed? Were they to be discussed in the House of Commons? Was the House of Commons to be degraded? [An hon. GENTLEMAN: Hear, hear!] Oh, it was. He confessed that if there was to be a degradation, if a subject must be discussed, and the discussion would degrade the Assembly, he should prefer that the County Councils, with all respect to the County Councils, should be degraded, rather than that the Imperial Parliament should be degraded. The hon. Member said they wished the best men to find their way into the County Councils. No; they did not. They wanted the best men in the House of Commons, and, therefore, if they had to choose between a course which would prevent good men coming to one or the other, let them take care that they come to the House of Commons. Now, let them look at the position of affairs at present. He thought it was very desirable that this discussion should not be too short, because hon. Members opposite were so exceedingly fond of puffing themselves on all occasions throughout the country, that it was well that, when they had them in the House, they should take the liberty of pointing out to them, and to the country, their short-comings, which were certainly very numerous. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board brought in this Bill in a very able speech, and with a great flourish of trumpets. It was a perfect Bill. It was a Bill which was to treat with everything, and if the right hon. Gentleman was proud of one particular thing in his Bill, he was proud of the liquor clauses which it contained. The Bill was read a second time; and on that occasion, if he remembered aright, the right hon. Gentleman made a very able speech, and again boasted of his liquor clauses. Withdraw them, not he. They would stand or fall by the liquor clauses. [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, he would certainly have fallen if he had stood by them. The 1641 House agreed to read the Bill a second time with the liquor clauses in it. They were now asked to say that the liquor clauses were so bad that they ought to be withdrawn, and by whom were they asked to do that? By the modest right hon. Gentleman himself. He perfectly understood that the right hon. Gentleman's Followers would accept what he said; they seemed quite ready, at the bidding of any Member of the Government, to vote on one day that black was white, and to vote on another day that white was black. But hon. Members on the Opposition Benches had some respect for the dignity of the House, and they did not approve of agreeing to a proposition one day and then voting against it the next day at the bidding or requisition of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman gave several reasons for withdrawing these clauses. He might have saved himself that trouble, for there was one reason which obliged him to withdraw his Compensation Clause upon which he dwelt so much. It was an excellent reason; it was that he could not pass it. The country had had time to understand what the clause was, and Her Majesty's Government ran away because they feared defeat. If the right hon. Gentleman had told them that, he might have saved them the rest of the reasons. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the clause must follow the rest of the Licensing Clauses, but this clause had absolutely nothing to do with the others. If it had been proposed that compensation was to be given in cases of Sunday closing, one clause possibly would have hung upon the other; but the Sunday closing was to take place without any compensation. Compensation was only to be given in the event of a public-house being deprived of its licence entirely. The two clauses were absolutely separate. He quite understood that the right hon. Gentleman did not accept that view. In the view of the right hon. Gentleman the one clause was a sort of quid pro quo for the other. The right hon. Gentleman wished to give the licensed victuallers a huge bribe. Licensed victuallers had at present a one year's licence; but the right hon. Gentleman wanted to give them a vested perpetual interest in their licences, and then to present them, at the expense of the ratepayers, with some- 1642 thing like £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 for taking away what was given to them. [Cries of "No, no!"] The figures had been supplied by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine). This might be a good argument, or it might be a bad argument; but it was one the right hon. Gentleman himself would hardly use, because his assertion always was that he gave the licensed victuallers nothing, but left them, so far as the law was concerned, precisely as they were at present. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman could not plead that he could not agree to Sunday closing, because the licensed victuallers were not to have a quid pro quo. It had been asserted by the hon. Member for Barrow that the Temperance people objected to this clause because they wanted Imperial closure. They objected to the clause in the sense that they would rather have Imperial closure, but they did not know that they could get it, and therefore they were willing to accept this clause. The hon. Gentleman set himself up as a Temperance leader, but the hon. Gentleman would excuse him (Mr. Labouchere) if he expressed the belief that the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) represented far better the views of the Temperance people than the hon. Gentleman did. They had it from the hon. Baronet that the Temperance people wished that this clause should pass. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: I did not say all.] Well, the majority of them. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Caine) professed to have great influence over the Temperance people. The hon. Member for Barrow had been deluding them; he had been telling them that a Bill for general Sunday closing would pass. Well, if they were told that, as the people were in favour of Sunday closing all over the country, they would prefer that that Bill should pass, but the hon. Gentleman had been an entirely false guide to the people, and they must therefore take in at one ear and let out at the other whatever the hon. Gentleman said. The hon. Member for Barrow had quoted as one instance of the feeling of the temperance people what the Church of England Temperance Society thought upon the matter. He (Mr. Labouchere) thought he was right in saying that according to the hon. Gentleman the 1643 Church of England Temperance Society was against this clause. Well, when the hon. Gentleman had mentioned the Church of England Temperance Society he (Mr. Labouchere) was one of those Members who raised the hon. Member's indignation by crying "Oh, oh!" That was an Oh, oh! of depreciation of this Church of England Temperance Society, because it appeared to him that they were people who were ready to say anything about different things at any moment. He held in his hand a Bill which had been extensively posted up in Ramsgate and Margate, signed by two clergymen of Ramsgate, who were members of this Society. These gentlemen seemed to disagree entirely with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow, for what did they say? They were entirely in favour of this clause, and what was more they were in favour of compensation—this remarkable Temperance Society. These two rev. gentlemen said—The only comprehensive scheme for effectually dealing with the temperance question has been that proposed by the present Government in the licensing clauses of their Local Government Bill which Mr. Chamberlain described as a generous measure of reform which ought to be welcomed by the Temperance Party.It seemed to him (Mr. Labouchere) that though the right hon. Gentleman might have described the measure in that way to the Temperance Party, it had met with the usual fate of these measures which the right hon. Gentleman has described as generous and good measures. The Temperance Society that the hon. Member for Barrow had quoted went on to say in this poster, to which he re-ferred—After a careful inquiry we have satisfied ourselves that the views of"—who did the House think?—The Right Hon. Mr. James Lowther were in hearty accord with the provisions of that Bill as modified by the suggestions of the most thoughtful of the Temperance Leaders.They went on to say—and he must allude to this to show how this Church of England Temperance Society perverted and distorted the truth—Should Mr. Gladstone return to power, the Irish Question will occupy the field; and, even if this were not so, the Parnellites would never allow him to introduce temperance legislation.["Hear, hear!"] "Hear, hear!" said hon. Gentlemen. Well, he must point 1644 out this—that the majority of the Irish Parnellite Party—
Order, order! I must say I am afraid the hon. Member is straying very far from the subject before the Committee.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would only add that it would be seen by the Votes whether or not the Parnellite Party were against temperance legislation; and he would now leave these two rev. gentlemen alone, having shown the Committee, he thought, that this remarkable society that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow had taken under his protection, as representative of temperance people, was not to be believed, when their leading authorities—rev. gentlemen of the Church of England—made assertions such as those he had quoted. The fact was that, in this matter, the Government wanted to give a great reward to the publicans. No doubt they did, and in a certain sense they were right in doing so. The publicans supported them, and they naturally supported the publicans. But now they wanted to persuade the House, though in giving this reward they were giving a bonâ fide reward, that they were giving them nothing. But they were detected, and they now desired to give a similar reward, saying—"We will save you from the chance of being deprived of the right of selling liquor on a Sunday." The Committee had a right to know what was the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board as to whether there ought to be an Imperial Bill, or whether there ought to be a local measure dealing with the question of Sunday closing. He had come forward originally in favour of a local measure, but he now withdrew it, and one of the conditions of the withdrawal was that the Government would give a day for discussing an Imperial measure. Was the right hon. Gentleman of the same opinion as his chief, Lord Salisbury? Was the right hon. Gentleman opposed to this Imperial Bill? If he was, he did not give up his own views for the purpose of supporting what was opposed to them. They might fairly suppose that he simply gave a day in order to have the power and opportunity of voting against the Imperial Sunday Closing Bill. Was that the case, or was it not? He (Mr. Labouchere) was very particular in using 1645 Parliamentary phrases, and he did not know whether the word "tricky" was Parliamentary; and, therefore, he would not use it in conjunction with this transaction. The great supporters of the Tory Party were the parsons and the pot-house keepers. The Tories were always afraid of doing anything against them when either the parsons alone, or the pot-house keepers alone, put down their foot. When these sections of the community put down their foot, right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not do anything—they were afraid to move, knowing perfectly well that if they did, they would lose their elections. It was all very well to talk of the policy and statesmanship of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Ministerial Bench, when, as a matter of fact, their policy and their statesmanship were merely electioneering tactics. He did not blame them—people, after all, did look after votes in this world—but it was a melancholy and discreditable thing that they should have a Government ready to turn round and round at the bidding of parsons and pot-house keepers. What was the equivalent the Government told them they were to expect? Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had pointed out that it was absolutely nothing. To tell them that they were to be given in lieu of this clause the possibility of discussing the second reading of a Bill in August was to offer them nothing. The right hon. Gentleman did not even tell them whether facilities would be afforded for the passing of the promised Bill next Session. They did not expect it to be a Government measure, but if there was to be any fair quid pro quo, and the simplicity of the hon. Member for Barrow was not being played with by the Government, the Government ought to give him an assurance that this year, or, at any rate, next year, they would give an opportunity for the carrying through in all its stages of this Sunday Closing Bill for the whole country. This equivalent was all the more suspicious seeing the circumstances under which it was offered. There was a meeting of Liberal Unionists the other day, and the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), as he (Mr. Labouchere) gathered from the newspapers—in that report which had come out after the noble Marquess had told his Followers that it would be dis- 1646 graceful and shameful for anyone to say anything as to what happened—it was said that the noble Marquess called upon them all to vote against this clause; to rally to the Government as part and parcel of their duties and obligations of honour. Then some of these Unionist Gentlemen got up, and what did they want? They were quite ready to obey the noble Lord, but they wanted some sort of salve for what they were pleased to call their consciences. They had easy consciences, and were satisfied with this very easy and absurd salve administered to them. Did the hon. Member for Barrow hope to deceive the Committee? He did not believe that the hon. Member had deceived himself, nor had the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), who had gone down to Ramsgate in the hopes of finding some further electors to be humbugged, although he had not been humbugged himself. His (Mr. Labouchere's) right hon. Friend the Member for Derby had said that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. Well, so far as he (Mr. Labouchere) was concerned, he did not see two or even one bird in the bush. They had this good, fat temperance bird, they had caught the bird, they had cooked the bird, all they had to do was to carve it and eat, and they were asked to give it up for this will o' the wisp in the wood. Why, they would be most foolish to do it, and, so far as their votes were concerned, they did not intend to do it. Like all apostates, the Member for Barrow went even farther than the Government. He told them that these clauses would be positively injurious to temperance. The publicans, however, do not think so, and Mr. James Lowther did not think so. The publicans were perfectly ready to accept the compensation, and would have stomached this clause in consideration of it; but now that compensation was struck out, and they were asked to agree to this clause, they joined the hon. Member for Barrow and the hon. Member for South Tyrone in their opposition to it. He should like to ask the hon. Member for Barrow and the Liberal Unionists who acted with him in this matter, one or two questions. Were they in favour of Local Option? They had said again and again that they were; yet if they were logical they would say, "We will not vote for Local 1647 Option, because if we did it might be that public-houses would exist in some parts of the country, and most assuredly if the Bill passed there would be no possibility of ending public-houses." The hon. Member for Barrow actually stated, as one reason for voting against the clause, that he could not entrust County Councils with the working of it, because they would not be a fair representation of the county, there being selected members on them. Well, was the hon. Member going to vote against selected members? Were the Liberal Unionists going to be ordered by the noble Marquess not to vote for selected members? Not a bit of it. The hon. Member for Barrow said that he considered the Bill a good Bill, and yet he would vote for the omission of this clause, because it would throw into the hands of the County Councils certain duties which he said they were too bad to perform. Then how was it that the hon. Member had voted for the Sunday closing Bills for Cornwall and Durham? If he entertained the views he seemed to hold now, he ought to have voted against them, for the reason that the more of these Bills that were passed the more difficult it would be to pass a Bill providing for Sunday closing over the whole country. The real fact of the matter was this, these hon. Gentlemen had only discovered that this clause was opposed to the cause of temperance after the Government had found it expedient to throw it over. It was not because they thought that it was against the cause of temperance that they voted against it, but because they were bound not to vote against it. The hon. Member for Barrow should have been more candid. He ought to have admitted that he must necessarily from his position be a hewer of Tory wood and a drawer of Tory water. He had not an independent soul, and he should understand that it was not possible to be at one and the same time an honest Liberal representative and a mere Tory hack. No doubt the hon. Gentleman was at liberty to enjoy his opinion, even if that opinion was that it was better to have a drunken England than a free Ireland. Holding that opinion, the hon. Member was perfectly at liberty to vote as he liked, but when he did that, he was very silly to tell them that he was acting in favour of the temperance cause. He (Mr. Labou- 1648 chere) had looked through the numerous Amendments of the hon. Gentleman to the liquor clauses, and he noticed that every other clause was covered with Amendments, there being at the end of each a proposal to eliminate the whole section, and yet the hon. Member, who was so strong against this clause, has not put down a single Amendment to it, nor had he made any proposal to strike it out altogether. Well, he (Mr. Labouchere) did not complain of the hon. Gentleman's views; but what he complained of was the wretched hypocrisy which led Gentlemen to sit on the Liberal side of the House, which led them to talk Liberalism and to swagger about it, and yet which led them to vote in favour of their Friends opposite being in power, and so preventing the Liberals from coming in. It was impossible to be a Liberal and support a Conservative Government, as it was impossible to hunt with the publican hare and run with the Liberal hounds. [Laughter.] Well, they could put it which way they liked; he always wished to oblige hon. Gentlemen opposite. He would recommend these Gentlemen, these temperance Liberal Unionists, to take example by their publican friends, who were far more honest, and who, when they kept a gin palace, did not call it a hall of temperance, and who did not call themselves priests of the temperance cause. He would ask them to take example by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), That right hon. Gentleman understood thoroughly the logic of his position. He (Mr. Labouchere) was glad this discussion had taken place, as it would place clearly before the country on which side the Government were in this controversy. He had no doubt the Government would get a great deal of the publican vote—they had always got it—but he very much doubted whether, with the exception of the hon. Member for Barrow, and these two remarkable Church of England temperance clergymen to whom he had referred, throughout the length and breadth of the land they would get one single vote from any person who was really in favour of temperance. He (Mr. Labouchere) held that this Sunday closing question was essentially a local question—it must in the nature of things be a local question—and he therefore greatly 1649 preferred the clause they were now discussing to a general Bill. Hon. Gentlemen knew that there was hardly a London Member who was in favour of Sunday closing—at any rate, if there was one who was prepared to vote for the closing of public-houses on Sunday in London and all over the country, let him come forward and state his opinion. He defied hon. Gentlemen opposite to find one single London Member who was ready to do this. They knew well that in passing this clause they would be passing Sunday closing according to the requirements of each locality, and that in proposing to put before the House a general Bill on the question they were proposing that which the House would never pass. He did hope that the Liberal Party on this occasion would have, he did not say a majority on the Division about to take place, for they never seemed to get majorities now, but he did hope that they would have a sufficient number of persons on their side protesting against the course the Government were pursuing, and he was perfectly convinced that the Division, whatever the result would be, would show the country that the Liberal Party was truly and solidly in favour of temperance, and that the Government and their Allies were as thoroughly opposed to it as the Liberals were in favour of it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CLARKE) (Plymouth)
said, the Committee seemed desirous of closing the discussion, which had now lasted for a very considerable time, and perhaps before the Division took place a few words from that, the Front Ministerial Bench, with regard to the course the debate had taken, might not be inappropriate. It had been a matter of much interest, on the side of the House on which he sat, to note the differences which seemed to exist amongst the ardent temperance reformers who sat in different parts of the Benches opposite. The hon. Member who had just spoken—and who was so anxious for the dignity of the House and the sacred cause of temperance—had denounced the hon. Member for Barrow, and looked down upon him from his own great height of virtue as not being really interested in the temperance cause; and he had also slightingly referred to the Church of England Temperance Society, about 1650 which he had not taken much trouble to inquire until he had received the poster which he read from Ramsgate. It had been suggested that the Government were anxious to withdraw the clause by way of compensation or by way of bribe to the publican interest, and that, the other clauses having been withdrawn, there was no reason why this also should be withdrawn, except that the Government desired to do something to please the publicans. The fact was, that this clause was put in as one of a number of clauses dealing with a particular subject, and as connected with the other Licensing Clauses, and, naturally, when the others were struck out there ceased to be a reason for retaining this. He was not going to enter into a discussion of the Licensing Clauses. They had practically disappeared, and for one reason he was rather sorry for it. He had looked forward to an opportunity of defending, in discussion, observations which he had made elsewhere, and he should have been tempted to say something about them because he believed the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had said the other day that he (Sir Edward Clarke) had buried his political reputation in the grave of the Licensing Clauses. He was naturally the person most interested in the dear departed, and would have liked to attend the funeral and make a few valedictory observations on the clauses; but at this moment they were dealing with one clause, and only one. As to this section, there was no sort of agreement between the representatives of the temperance cause as to whether this clause would do good or not. Some of them said it would, holding the opinion that it was desirable to remit the question of Sunday Closing to the Local Bodies appointed to deal with local affairs. He could understand that—he thought there was a great deal in that contention. The circumstances of different localities differed so greatly that the Government had been anxious to give the powers contained in these Licensing Clauses, referring to the liquor traffic, to the Local Bodies, including the settlement of the Sunday Closing question, but that could not be done after the speech of the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine), and after the quotations which had been made from the resolutions passed in different 1651 parts of the country on this matter. There could be no doubt that a great many temperance organizations believed that if the matter were relegated to Local Bodies there would cease to be any reason or excuse for Parliament addressing itself to the solution of the question. In some parts of the country, no doubt, there would be Sunday closing, but it was equally certain that in other parts of the country there would never be any chance of getting Sunday closing at all. Therefore, it was argued by some temperance reformers and advocates of Sunday closing that it would be better for the cause they had at heart that they should endeavour to get a general Bill passed applicable to the whole country, instead of leaving the matter to be dealt with in separate sections of the country. He was not going to express a definite opinion as to which policy was right, and for the reason that he was himself against entire Sunday closing. He had always said that there was very good reason for curtailing and limiting the hours during which public-houses should be allowed to remain open on Sundays; but he had always protested against the measure for closing public-houses altogether on that day. The question which policy was right was not one in which he took much interest himself; but there was this point to be remembered, and it was an important one. If they had been able to transfer from the floor of the House to the Local Bodies the discussion of the whole question of the conduct of the liquor traffic, and if they had been able to do it with such provisions as to compensation as would have prevented any strong antagonism with regard to the subject, and any great monetary interests being involved in the decisions of the Local Bodies, then it might have been a good thing to do. Parliament would have been relieved of a difficulty which would have been relegated to the Local Bodies; but what would be the case if they were to retain this clause, while striking out all the other Licensing Clauses? Why, the Local Bodies would have a harassing question thrust upon them, and the matter would not be removed from the consideration of Parliament, because they were told by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that he desired to retain this clause in order to give the 1652 Local Bodies power to close the public-houses on Sunday where the people were in favour of Sunday closing, and that then he and his Friends would come back to the House of Commons asking it to enforce Sunday closing elsewhere. So that the House of Commons would not get rid of the question altogether, and they would find the retention of the clause influencing all local elections. This question would be one of the leading ones as affecting election contests, as at each election a temperance campaign would be carried on, and on the one side there would be a candidate described as a temperance candidate, and on the other they would have a candidate described as a publican's candidate, and the result would be that a large number of men whom it would be desirable to have upon the County Councils would decline to enter into contests which would involve their being ticketed either as a temperance man or as a publican's man. If there had been any prospect of their being able to carry all the Government clauses, it would have been worth while sacrificing time and encountering difficulties of this kind; but as the other clauses were withdrawn, it was not worth while exposing the Councils to all these difficulties for the sake of this one clause. He believed that in years to come the advocates of the temperance cause would have good reason to regret the action they had taken during the last few months in having lost an opportunity of dealing reasonably and fully with this question. Having, however, refused to accept the clauses the Government proposed, and having caused the withdrawal of the greater part of the Local Government scheme as to licensing, there was nothing left but to withdraw the whole of it. As the Local Councils were not to be allowed to have the management of the whole question, at all events it was only right not to trouble them with the difficulties and disadvantages which would arise from burdening them with the carrying out of the powers of this particular clause.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, they had had a very interesting lecture on the policy of the Temperance Party from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General, who told them that he was opposed to Sunday closing altogether.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
No, the hon. and learned Gentleman had given no opinion upon it; he had given opinions enough one would think. The hon. and learned Gentleman had learned a lesson on the subject of giving opinions, and the Committee knew what his opinions were worth. If any person was responsible for having wrecked the provisions of this Bill affecting the temperance question, it was the hon. and learned Solicitor General who had just undertaken to lecture the Committee on the subject. But he (Sir William Harcourt) did not rise to speak again at any length upon this question. He only rose to say that he thought after the very interesting discussion they had had it would be well that they should now come to a decision upon it. There was only one thing he wished to say with reference to the opinion of the Temperance Bodies. He had received a great many communications from them on this subject. Something had been said to-night on the view of the National Temperance Federation of which the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) had said he was the president. Well, alter the hon. Member had spoken of that Temperance Federation he (Sir William Harcourt) had received from them a letter, which was meant to be made public, and was dated from 168, Edmund Street, Birmingham, and signed ay Joseph Malms for the secretary, representing the views of the federation, and recommending "that we should not press for the withdrawal of Clause 10," but not saying one word on the subject of the withdrawal of Clause 9. Now, as that was the federation of which the hon. Member for Barrow had spoken to-night, and of which he was chairman, and acting entirely in accordance with the opinion so expressed, the hon. Member had put down Notices of Motions to omit from the Bill every one of the other clauses relating to licensing; this Clause 9 was the one clause, and he one clause only, bearing upon the subject upon which he had not put [down such a Motion. Now, he (Sir William Harcourt) left the Committee to draw its own conclusion on the matter. In his opinion there was no doubt there was a large proportion of Temperance Bodies who would far rather see a uni- 1654 versal compulsory Sunday Closing Bill. That was a proposal which he, in common with others, thought would be a very good thing if they could get it. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, if the opinion of the country was such as to justify it, as it had been in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. He did not believe that the opinion of this country would justify or support such a measure at the present moment. Therefore, he did not think it wise to propose such a measure. That was why he was glad to see the proposal made which would give that power to all parts of the country that were prepared to accept it. That was what Clause 9 proposed to do. He was sorry that this should be regarded as a Party question. He hoped they would not regard it as such, but that each would vote on the Motion as he thought best for the interests of the cause he had at heart.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 213; Noes 275: Majority 62.—(Div. List, No. 180.)
§ Clause 10 (Transfer to county council of licensing powers as respects intoxicating liquors).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, that the discussion on Clause 9 had been necessarily limited to a very small portion of the whole question, and it had been impossible for the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill (Mr. Ritchie) to go into the whole case. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had been disposed to rise just before the vote on the last clause was taken, but had been prevented by a mechanical motion on his right. If they had not had from the right hon. Gentleman a speech which he had made in the early part of the evening, the Committee would have been left in doubt as to what was the present mind of the Government as to value and policy of the Licensing Clauses; but the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Government had not changed its opinion as to the value of the transfer from the magistracy to the County Council of the control of the licensing system. As he (Mr. Illingworth) understood the right hon. 1655 Gentleman the substantial reason that he gave was that such feeling and indignation had been raised throughout the country as to produce an effect upon the House which obliged the Government to consent to the withdrawal of the clauses. Well, he (Mr. Illingworth) had already stated that he believed the Government to be under a misapprehension with regard to Clause 9. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House were, he believed, entitled to speak on behalf of the majority of the temperance organizations in the country, and they could say that those organizations did not object to the transfer of the licensing power from the magistrates to the new County Councils. Well, if that were so, the right hon. Gentleman was really in a position to set these clauses upon their feet again. Undoubtedly, if the authority of the Government were exercised upon this point, if they were to declare in the face of the Committee and the country that they had not changed their opinion, but had been mistaken in their interpretation of the opposition to these clauses, and if they were to stand by the clauses, no doubt hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House would rally to their support, and the result would be that the clauses would be carried probably by a larger majority than any other arrangement or provision of the Bill. He would appeal to the Government, and especially to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, not to throw away this opportunity they had of advancing towards a final settlement of this question of licensing throughout the entire country. He did not suppose that, in the contests for the County Councils, this question would give rise to any permanent difficulty. No doubt it would have to be fought out. It had been argued, in objection to the course he was suggesting, that any candidate who presented himself for election upon the County Council would be ticketed either as a temperance supporter or as a supporter of the publicans. Well, he saw nothing to object to, even supposing this difficulty should arise. There were very few Members of the House who were not obliged to go through the same ordeal at every election. They were interviewed by persons connected with temperance associations, and by persons representing the publican interest. They 1656 were all ticketed, they were all recognized as favourable to either one side or the other. Well, if that was the experience of a Member of Parliament, he should like to know what objection there was to candidates to the County Councils being asked to undergo the same process? He did not anticipate that the discussion of the question would last any length of time; but he was satisfied that those who wished to see this measure of real substantial benefit to the country, were doing the best thing possible in asking the Government to re-consider their decision as to the withdrawal of those clauses. All they asked was that the Government should stand by their own project, and should not turn their backs upon themselves, and they might rest assured that if they dared to throw over the publican interest, they would find upon their side an overwhelming majority both in the House and in the country. He did not wish to delay the Committee. [Ironical cheers.] If he had originated the proposal which appeared to be delaying the Bill, he could understand those cheers; but when he was supporting a proposal which the Government had deliberately and from the outset set up as an essential part of the Bill, he did not think he was open to the charge hon. Gentlemen wished to convey by their cheers, that he was unduly interfering with the progress of the measure. What he complained of was that the Government was turning its back upon its own proposal, and that they should do this at a moment when the President of the Local Government Board declared that he was of the same opinion as to the value of this proposal as he was at the beginning. He thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to stand by the Bill as it was introduced.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, the hon. Gentleman wanted him to enter upon a discussion of the Licensing Clauses. The Government had announced their intention of asking the Committee to negative those clauses, and he thought it would be unwise, as well as unnecessary, for the Committee to enter upon a discussion which, if it were a full discussion, would certainly be long and might be acrimonious. He had no desire, on the part of the Government, however much he might feel 1657 inclined, to enter into a defence of a position which he thought was most indefensible. He would rather, looking to the large and important questions which they had still to discuss, and looking to the position the Government had taken up with reference to these clauses, submit to have these clauses negatived without that full defence which, if circumstances permitted, he would have been glad to lay before the Committee. Many of the points involved in the Licensing Clauses—for example, that of compensation, and others—had been discussed on Clause 9, and, therefore, he felt satisfied he would be acting in accordance with the wish of the Committee if he did not invite them to enter upon a long and acrimonious discussion. Having regard to the large number of important issues which still remained to be discussed, he hoped the Committee would support the Government when they asked that these clauses should be disposed of without the discussion to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bradford invited them.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
said, he rose for the purpose in the main of supporting the appeal which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman. It was, to some extent, a sacrifice on his part to do so, because he should certainly have been favourable to the transfer of the jurisdiction from the magistrates to the County Councils, even supposing they had been able to do nothing else. He should like, in conformity with the principle laid down by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) earlier in the evening, to make progress by means of that transfer. But as that could not be done, he did not wish to waste the time of the Committee by discussing the matter. He was bound to say he had looked forward to this occasion with considerable anxiety. He had looked forward to this occasion as a means of putting an end to the most needless, yet perhaps not inexplicable, correspondence with which he had been persecuted ever since the Bill was introduced, a correspondence all based on a quotation from a speech of his in 1880, when he said he should have been better pleased with the wide and general proposal of his hon. Friend if it had not contained some reference to the idea of equitable com- 1658 pensation. He really desired to put forward in every way the success of the Bill, and he would sacrifice what he had promised in that innumerable correspondence—namely, when a legitimate opportunity presented itself, to make a full statement of his opinions on this question. He would forego the opportunity. He would simply say that his opinions on licensing were not exactly in accordance with those of any of the great Parties in the country, but, such as they were, they had never changed in any way. This question was carefully examined about 1853–35 years ago—and the compensation which he had always looked to was to be understood from the measures he had at various times supported. The Liverpool Bill, about the year 1863, and the plan of Lord Aberdeen, about the year 1871, contained the idea of compensation such as he (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) conceived it. He need not say that that was totally and absolutely different from the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Ritchie's) idea of compensation. He felt, however, that he should be best forwarding the business of the Committee if he limited himself to that statement and forebore to go further into the question. They had all got in view a great public object; they were desirous of securing the affirmation of the principles which they thought of great value, and which were contained in the framework of the present Bill, although, undoubtedly, they could have desired that those principles had been much more fully and comprehensively applied. Under the circumstances, he did not think he would be satisfying the demands of public duty were he to do anything more than to say he thought, all things considered, the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman was a fair appeal. The manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had conducted himself at the various stages of the Bill gave him every title to all the assistance they could fairly give him. He desired to give the right hon. Gentleman assistance, and the best form in which he could render it was to at once resume his seat.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, that perhaps he ought to apologize to the Committee for interposing in the debate, because hitherto he had not been able to take any great part in the considera- 1659 tion of the Bill. When the measure was introduced he was compelled by sickness to be away from the country; he only returned in the month of May. He read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) when he was lying on his back between 2,000 and 3,000 miles from here. He must say he was not astonished at the tone and purport of the speech, coming, as it did, from the right hon. Gentleman; but coming from him as a Member of a Conservative Government, he was rather astonished at it. He accepted with the most implicit confidence the Liberal sentiments which the right hon. Gentleman there expressed, and he thought himself blessed that at last he had met with or heard of a Conservative Minister, an important Conservative Minister, who, on behalf of a Conservative Government, could propose a measure so Liberal, so Radical, so democratic in tone and substance. He determined to support the Bill. He was free to confess that when he came home and read the Bill he was not quite so satisfied with it as he was with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. But, still, on the only occasion on which he had interfered in the debates on the Bill, he took the opportunity of rather earning the condemnation of some of his political Friends, and the plaudits, the gratifying plaudits, of hon. Gentlemen opposite, by supporting the proposal of the Government and opposing the ideas of Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House. Now, he did not intend to intervene at any length in the debate that night; but he wished to put to right hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, whom, generally, he was happy to follow, the suggestion that, though they had been beaten on Clause 9, they should not without some protest, the strongest they could make in the House, lose the opportunity of asserting that, in their judgment, whatever might be the newest judgment of the Government, the power of licensing ought no longer to be in the hands of the magistrates, but placed in the hands of the elected representatives of the people. Now, if that involved any large change, or any question of compensation, he should most certainly decline to walk into the Lobby against the Government, and he would tell the 1660 Government why. He quite admitted that if any large question of compensation was to be discussed, if any important change was to be made, it ought to be discussed in a Bill as a whole and not as a clause of a Bill. But might he point out to the right hon. Gentleman, who he remembered when he sat on that side of the House developed Liberal tendencies that were rather extraordinary in a Conservative, with which Liberal tendencies he had in some degree succeeded in inoculating his Colleagues—might he point out to him that in Clause 10 no great change was proposed. He wished Gentlemen on that side to look at Clause 10 in itself, without reference to Clauses 11, 12, or the following clauses. Clause 10 in itself proposed a change which the right hon. Gentleman himself thought just and fair, or he would never have proposed it, and a change which they, on the Opposition side of the House, if they were true to their principles, must support. The clause proposed that—All such powers, duties, and liabilities with respect to licensing within the meaning of this Act, &c., &c., which now rest with the justices, shall, in future, be in the possession of the elected council.Mark the words, Mr. Chairman, "all such powers." He saw the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) in his place, and he knew he should have in him a willing adherent to his view, and he hoped a follower into the Lobby. He thought the hon. and learned Gentleman held that the justices had at present no unlimited power of refusing licences. No unlimited power? Their power was limited. Well, all Clause 10 proposed, was that the limited powers which according to the hon. and learned Solicitor General now belonged to the Justices, should in future belong to the elected representatives of the people. He did not pretend to agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. He thought the powers were unlimited, but he would accept, for the moment, the hon. and learned Solicitor General's proposition. If the hon. and learned Gentleman held that the powers of the Justices were limited, what valid reason could he give why the limited powers the Justices had should not be transferred to the County Councils? He hoped the Committee, in fact, he knew the whole Committee had studied Clause 10 much 1661 more than he had, but perhaps they had not done so from the point of view of its relation to the other clauses. He asserted, and he wished the President of the Local Government Board to deny it if he could, that Clause 10 without reference to Clause 11, 12, and the following clauses, amounted to this, and this alone, that all such powers as the magistrates legally had should in future be powers possessed by the elected Council. How could they say for a moment, how could a democratic Conservative Government say for a moment, that that proposition was not a just proposition? He could appeal personally, if he had the opportunity, to half-a-dozen Members of the Front Government Bench, whom he had heard assert these things again and again. He maintained that they believed, as much as he believed, that these powers ought to rest with the elected Councils. If there had been anything extra proposed, if there had been any proposal to extend these powers, he should not have got up to express the opinion that Clause 10 ought to be retained in the Bill; but he held distinctly there was no extra proposal in the clause; that, on the contrary, the clause was limited to conferring upon the County Councils the powers now vested in the magistrates. He stated at the beginning, and he repeated, he advocated no large change, but he should consider himself false to his constituents, and false to the principles upon which he was sent there, if he did not assert upon every occasion and certainly upon an occasion offered to him by a Conservative Government, that a proposal to transfer powers now held by unelected persons to elected persons was a proposal which ought to command the assent of every Liberal and Radical, every Liberal Unionist, and not a small section of Gentlemen opposite, who got into Parliament at the last Election, by proclaiming they were Tory secondly and democratic firstly. If, therefore, his hon. Friend the Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) divided the Committee upon the retention of Clause 10, he should be very glad to follow him into the Lobby.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 175; Noes 252: Majority 77.1665
|Abraham, W. (Glam.)||Harrington, E.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Harrington, T. C.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Harris, M.|
|Allison, R. A.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Asher, A.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Asquith, H. H.||Healy, M.|
|Ballantine, W. H. W.||Holden, I.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Hooper, J.|
|Barran, J.||Hoyle I.|
|Barry, J.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Jacoby, J. A.|
|Bolton, T. D.||Joicey, J.|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Jordan, J.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Kenny, C. S.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Kenny, J. E.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Kenny, M. J.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Kilbride, D.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Leahy, J.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.||Lewis, T. P.|
|Carew, J. L.||Macdonald, W. A.|
|Channing, F. A.||Mac Neill, J. G. S.|
|Clancy, J. J.||M'Cartan,|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||M'Carthy, J.|
|Cobb, H. P.||M'Carthy, J. H.|
|Colman, J. J.||M'Donald, P.|
|Commins, A.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Condon, T. J.||Mahony, P.|
|Conway, M.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Corbet, W. J.||Marum, E. M.|
|Cossham, H.||Mayne, T.|
|Cox, J. R.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Craig, J.||Montagu, S.|
|Craven, J.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Crawford, D.||Morley, A.|
|Cremer, W. R.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Crilly, D.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Crossley, E.||Nolan, J.|
|Davies, W.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Deasy, J.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Dickson, T. A.||O'Connor, A.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Ellis, T. E.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||O'Hea, P.|
|Esslemont, P.||O'Keeffe, F. A.|
|Evans, F. H.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Fenwick, C.||Parker, C. S.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Finucane, J.||Picton, J. A.|
|Firth, J. F. B.||Plowden. Sir W. C.|
|Flower, C.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Power, P. J.|
|Foley, P. J.||Power, R.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Price, T. P.|
|Foster, Sir W. B.||Priestley, B.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Provand; A. D.|
|Fry, T.||Pugh, D.|
|Fuller, G. P.||Pyne, J. D.|
|Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-||Quinn, T.|
|Gilhooly, J||Randell, D.|
|Gill, T. P.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Reid, R. T.|
|Graham, R. C.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Grey, Sir E.||Roberts, J.|
|Grove, Sir T. F.||Roberts, J.|
|Haldane, R. B.||Roe, T.|
|Rowlands, W. B.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Samuelson, G. B.||Thomas, A.|
|Sexton, T.||Thomas, D. A.|
|Sheehan, J. D.||Tuite, J.|
|Sheehy, D.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Sheil, E.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Sinclair, J.||Wayman, T.|
|Slagg, J.||Will, J. S.|
|Smith, S.||Williams, A. J.|
|Spencer, hon. C. R.||Williamson, J.|
|Stack, J.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.||Wilson, I.|
|Stevenson, F. S.||Woodall, W.|
|Stewart, H.||Woodhead, J.|
|Summers, W.||Illingworth, A.|
|Swinburne, Sir J.||Storey, S.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||Coghill, D. H.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Colomb, Sir J. C. R.|
|Ainslie, W. G.||Compton, F.|
|Allsopp, hon. G.||Cooke, C. W. R.|
|Ambrose, W.||Corbett, A. C.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Corbett, J.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Corry, Sir J. P.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Cotton, Captain E. T. D.|
|Baird, J. G. A.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Baring, Viscount||Cross, H. S.|
|Baring, T. C.||Crossley, Sir S. B.|
|Barnes, A.||Crossman, Gen. Sir W.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Curzon, hon. G. N.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Dalrymple, Sir C.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Darling, C. J.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Davenport, H. T.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||De Cobain, E. S. W.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Dimsdale, Baron R.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Donkin, R. S.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.|
|Biddulph, M.||Dugdale, J. S.|
|Bigwood, J.||Duncombe, A.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Blundell, Colonel H. B. H.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.|
|Bond, G. H.||Elliot, hon. A. R. D.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.||Elliot, hon. H. F. H.|
|Boord, T. W.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Borthwick, Sir A.||Elton, C. I.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Evershed, S.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Ewart, Sir W.|
|Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.|
|Brookfield, A. M.||Fellowes, A. E.|
|Brooks, Sir W. C.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Brown, A. H.|
|Bruce, Lord H.||Fielden, T.|
|Burghley, Lord||Finch, G. H.|
|Caine, W. S.||Finlay, R. B.|
|Caldwell, J.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Carmarthen, Marq. Of|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Charrington, S.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Fry, L.|
|Coddington, W.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Long, W. H.|
|Gedge, S.||Lowther, hon. W.|
|Gent-Davis, R.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Gilliat, J. S.||Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.|
|Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Maclean, J. M.|
|Gorst, Sir J. E.||Maclure, J. W.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||M'Calmont, Captain J.|
|Granby, Marquess of||Madden, D. H.|
|Gray, C. W.||Makins, Colonel W. T.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Mallock, R.|
|Grotrian, F. B.||Maple, J. B.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.||Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.|
|Gurdon, R. T.||Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-|
|Hall, A. W.|
|Hall, C.||Matthews, rt. hn. H.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Mattinson, M. W.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.||Maxwell, Sir H. E.|
|Mildmay, F. B.|
|Hamilton, Col. C. E.||Mills, hon. C. W.|
|Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.||Milvain, T.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||More, R. J.|
|Hankey, F. A.||Morgan, hon. F.|
|Hardcastle, E.||Morrison, W.|
|Hardcastle, F.||Moss, R.|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Mount, W. G.|
|Heaton, J. H.||Mowbray, R. G. C|
|Heneage, right hon. E.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Muntz, P. A.|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. T.||Norton, R.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Pease, H. F.|
|Hill, Colonel E. S.||Penton, Captain F. T.|
|Hoare, E. B.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Hoare, S.||Plunkett, hon. J. W.|
|Hobhouse, H||Pomfret, W. P.|
|Holloway, G.||Powell, F. S.|
|Houldsworth, Sir W. H.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Howorth, H. H.||Puleston, Sir J. H|
|Hozier, J. H. C.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Hughes - Hallett, Col. F. C.||Rankin, J.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.|
|Hulse, E. H.||Richardson, T.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Isaacson, F. W.||Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Robertson, Sir W. T.|
|Jarvis, A. W.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Jeffreys, A. F.||Robinson, B.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Robinson, T.|
|Johnston, W.||Ross, A. H.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Round, J.|
|Kenrick, W.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Ker, R. W. B.||Selwyn, Capt. C. W.|
|Kimber, H.||Seton-Karr, H.|
|King, H. S.||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|Knowles, L.||Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Kynoch, G.||Sidebottom, W.|
|Lafone, A.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Laurie, Colonel R. P.||Smith, A.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Lea, T.||Stephens, H. C.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Lees, E.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Legh, T. W.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Leighton, S.||Taylor, F.|
|Lennox, Lord W. C. G.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Vernon, hon. G. R.||Winn, hon. R.|
|Wardle, H.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Watkin, Sir E. W.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Watson, J.||Wood, N.|
|Webster, Sir R. E.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Webster, R. G.||Wright, H. S.|
|West, Colonel W. C.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Wharton, J. L.|
|Whitmore, C. A.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Wilson, Sir S.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
§ Clause 11 (Powers of Licensing Committee of County Council as to refusal of renewal of licences).
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Clause 12 (Compulsory refusal of renewal of licence in consequence of report from Justices).
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Clause 13 (Discretionary refusal of renewal of licence subject to compensation).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, this was the clause that provided for the granting of compensation to publicans whose licences were taken away from them, and the Government would find that, at all events on the Opposition side of the House, there was an absolute unanimity of opinion that the clause should be buried. He believed it would be buried never to have a resurrection, and his only object in rising was to pronounce a sort of funeral oration over a proposal to improve the position of an interest which an overwhelming majority of the moral and progressive people of the country thought ought to be weakened rather than strengthened. It must be remembered that the abandonment of the whole of the Licensing Clauses of the Bill was entirely due to the attempt of the Government to give huge compensation to the publicans of this country. The country could look with satistion upon the step which the Government had been obliged to take. [Interruption.] If he was not allowed to proceed with the few remarks he had to make, he should have no alternative but to move that Progress be reported. It could not be unfitting that a proposal which had forced the Government to make an 1666 entire change in the policy of the Bill should receive some notice at the hands of the Committee. The country would be gratified to know that the agitation against that proposal had been so completely successful. The abandonment of the clause would make the task of dealing with the Licensing Question infinitely easier in the future. The Liberal Party had the satisfaction of knowing that the attempt of the Government to hand over to the publican interest huge sums of money, belonging to all classes of the people, had been completely thwarted. The Government had been obliged to acknowledge itself thoroughly beaten. The minority in that House had come out triumphant. [Ironical Ministerial Cheers.]
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
Mr. Courtney, I wish very respectfully, on a point of Order, to call your attention to the continual interruptions of hon. Members opposite.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he should be very sorry to move to report Progress. It really would conduce to the progress of the Bill to allow him to make a few observations. He was about to say, that whenever the time came for making the measure complete in its character—and it would probably fall to the lot of the Liberal Party to make it worth something to the country—the task would be a comparatively easy one, now that this clause had been abandoned. The Government was afraid to proceed with the clause, and, in consequence, had had to withdraw from the Bill one of its main provisions.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Clause 19 (Power to purchase licence instead of paying compensation).
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Clause 15 (Entire maintenance of main roads by County Council).
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwick)
, in moving an Amendment, in line 7, to insert, after "1878," the words, "including any public footpath by the side of such road," said, that to those who travelled on foot, the highways were as valuable as they were to those who owned vehicles. It had been a matter of great astonishment to him, ever since 1667 he had been a Member of a Highway Authority, that those who had the care of the highways had no right to spend any of the public money upon the footpaths, It seemed to him that foot passengers had just as much right to be considered as those who drove, and he thought he should have the sympathy of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee when he asked the Committee to assent to his Amendment, which imposed on the Highway Authority the duty of providing for the footpaths on the sides of the highways.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 12, line 7, after "1878," to insert the words, "including any public footpath by the side of such road."—(Mr. Brunner.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, the Government could not assent to the Amendment, which would throw an enormous additional burden on the County Authorities. The Amendment would apply not only to ordinary footpaths alongside country roads, but also to paved footpaths on either side of main roads in towns. It was perfectly evident that the traffic on such paved footpaths was a local traffic. They were maintained at a much heavier expense than ordinary country roads, and the result of accepting the Amendment would be to throw an enormous additional burden on the county for the maintenance of footpaths with which the county had little concern.
§ MR. BRUNNER
said, he would be willing to amend the Amendment, in order to provide for the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, he knew of footpaths which were outside the hedges and yet ran parallel with the roadway. Such cases would come within the Amendment. Surely his hon. Friend never intended that footpaths of that kind should be kept up out of the county rate. If he did, he (Mr. Storey) should certainly vote against him. The objection urged against the Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) was a very strong one. He knew a town in the county of Durham which got nothing out of the county 1668 rate at the present time for roads, but paid £700 a-year to it, and of another town in the same county which got £700 a-year out of the county rate and did not pay anything like as much. Under the Amendment of his hon. Friend, all the flagged footpaths in both these towns would be paid for out of the county rate.
§ COLONEL HAMBRO (Dorset, S.)
asked the President of the Local Government Board what was to happen in the case of those footpaths which were on the sides of bridges?
§ MR. RITCHIE
replied that those footpaths which were at present maintained by the Highway Authority would still be maintained by them under the Bill.
SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLE-WORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had been quite right in pointing out that the effect of the Amendment would be out of all proportion to what its Mover intended, as it would throw upon the county rates the cost of maintaining all the footpaths alongside main roads in towns. Those footpaths were very properly paid for out of the rates of the towns. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR JOHN DORINGTON (Gloucester, Tewkesbury)
, in moving an Amendment, the object of which was to postpone the taking over of the management of main roads by the County Councils until the 1st of April, 1890, said that the County Council could not be elected until after the 14th of January, and could not meet until the 2nd Thursday after the day of election. It had then to select its county aldermen, and it would hardly be able to meet for business until somewhere about the middle of February. Yet on April 1st, it would, under the Bill, have to take over the control of the roads. The time given to the Council to prepare for taking charge of the highways seemed to him to be far too short. It would be necessary to select the proper persons to fill the office of county surveyors; because those at present existing did no more than inspect the roads, and, even if they were entirely in the employment of the county, they had other duties to 1669 perform. Certainly, special arrangements would have to be made when they came to manage the whole of the main roads. He understood the view of the Government to be that, under the operation of an Amendment to be moved subsequently by the hon. and gallant Member for the North-West Division of Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), the County Councils would have power to contract with the existing Highway Authorities for the management of the roads. But, even if that were so, the time given them for making the necessary arrangements was far too limited. Much correspondence and negotiation was bound to take place, and he thought that further time ought to be allowed. If the Government would assent to the principle of the Amendment, no doubt some earlier date than he proposed would meet the object he had in view.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 12, line 7, after the word "shall," to insert the words "after the first day of April, one thousand eight hundred and ninety."—(Sir John Dorington.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. LONG) (Wilts, Devizes)
said, he was sure that everyone would admit that everything that fell from the hon. Member who had just spoken on the subject of local administration deserved the attention of the Committee. At the same time, he hoped his hon. Friend would allow him to point out that if the Government accepted the Amendment they would be agreeing to a very serious postponement of the exercise of some very considerable powers conferred by the Bill on the County Councils. He really thought his hon. Friend somewhat exaggerated the difficulty which the County Councils would meet with in making the necessary arrangements for the maintenance of the highways. It was the intention of the Government to accept the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), under which power would be conferred on County Councils and District Councils to enter into contracts for the maintenance of main roads. At the present time, the Quarter Sessions had county surveyors, 1670 who, although they were not called upon to maintain the roads, were called upon to survey them; and it was only upon the issue of their certificates that the Courts of Quarter Sessions were able to pay the money required for maintenance. The only difference under the present Bill would be that the County Councils would have to make arrangement with the District Councils for the maintenance of the roads, and the surveyors would have power to point out where the local surveyors were in the wrong, and to demand that they should improve the roads in any direction the County Surveyors thought right. The Government were unable to accept the Amendment.
§ COLONEL HAMBRO
said, he should certainly support the Amendment. If the Government would not allow the roads to be managed by the present Highway Authorities, he thought they ought to grant an extension of time.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, there was one matter which rendered it extremely difficult to accept the Amendment, and that was in connection with the question of finance. At present the Government provided one-fourth of the cost of maintaining highways, and the County Authorities provided one-half. The Government grant was now to be discontinued, and the County Authority was to be placed in such a position that it would bear the whole cost of the maintenance of the roads. It would be extremely difficult to arrange the financial details of the changes proposed by the Bill, if the finance were to come into the hands of the County Authorities in the spring, whilst the roads were not to be taken over until some time afterwards. The Government had no reason to suppose that the time between the election of the Council and the date fixed for taking over the new powers was not sufficient to enable it to make all necessary arrangements.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
said, he thought it would be a wise thing to allow the maintenance of the roads to remain in the hands of those who were at present repairing them, until they could be properly transferred to the County Councils.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the Government did not intend to transfer compulsorily the repair of the main roads from the 1671 County to the District Councils, but merely to allow the County Councils so to transfer them if they thought fit.
§ SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
said, it would be very inconvenient for the County Councils to take upon themselves the management of all the roads within their areas; but the acceptance of the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would enable them to depute the work to the District Councils, which would be a very convenient method of dealing with the matter. It was obvious, however, that this could not be done at once, if this clause came into operation before the District Councils were elected.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
said, that at present the parish overseers maintained the roads under the supervision of the surveyor, and he wished to know whether it would be in the power of the County Councils to continue that arrangement until the District Councils were elected? If not, be thought it would be found that, in winter, when the roads were worst, there would be no one looking after them.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the Government would accept an alteration in the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for the North-West Division of Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), providing that until the District Councils were set up the County Councils might call on the Highway Authorities to maintain the roads.
§ It being now 12 o'clock, Progress was reported.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.