§ (Mr. T.W. Russell, Mr. Johnston, Mr. Lea.)
§ SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. T.W. RUSSELL (Tyrone S.),
in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said: I am glad to say that I need not trouble the House at any length in moving the second reading of this Bill. It is a question of great simplicity, and upon which in Ireland there is a considerable consensus of opinion. Within the last 10 years two Committees have sat, one in this House in 1877, and one in the House of Lords in 1733 1878, and have inquired into the general question of the curtailment of the hours for the sale of intoxicating liquors in Ireland, and before these Committees a large amount of evidence was given applicable to the object of this Bill; and in not one single instance, either in 1878 or before the Committee of this House, has a witness given evidence hostile to the earlier closing of public-houses on Saturday night. All the witnesses have agreed that the reduction of the hours for the sale on Saturday night would be an unmixed blessing. I take the City of Dublin first. Since I became a citizen of Dublin we have had three Chief Commissioners of Police—Sir Henry Lake, Colonel Talbot, and Mr. Harrel—and each of these three officers is strongly in favour of early closing on Saturday night, differing as to the exact hour of closing that should be recommended, but agreeing in the principle of this Bill. Colonel Talbot, in his evidence before the Lords' Committee in 1878, closes his remarks by strongly advocating the closing of public-houses at an earlier hour. Mr. O'Donel, the Chief Police Magistrate of Dublin, gave evidence before the same Committee, and the House will find that in answer to Question 2,069 he expressed an opinion on earlier closing on Saturday, and had no hesitation in saying it would have a great effect in improving the moral condition of the population, removing the temptation to waste wages, and the consequent impoverishment of the working classes. More damage was done, he said, by drunkenness, violence, and disorder of every description between 6 and 11 on Saturday evening than in the whole of the rest of the week put together. Mr. Woodlock, another magistrate, gave similar evidence. I find in answer to Question 1,629 he said—On Saturday night drunkenness reigns supreme in Dublin, and wages are spent in the most degrading manner,and he goes on to recommend closing not later than 7. So, whether you take Police Commissioners or Police Magistrates that have had charge of the affairs of Dublin during the last 25 years, there is not the slightest difference of opinion as to the propriety of closing at an earlier hour on Saturday. There is another witness I will call, and I am sure he will not be called a par- 1734 tial witness on my side. Many hon. Members will remember Mr. Michael Dwyer, late Secretary to the Publicans' Society. He says in his evidence—I think that many persons even engaged in the trade—who, after all, are not so callous to the evils that exist in connection with it as may be supposed—know that there is an immense waste of wages and consequent misery caused by the excess of drinking on Saturday night.Then, when asked—Do you consider that the Saturday evening state of things is an imaginary evil?" he replied, "I do not; it is a real evil.I will not hesitate to say that, in addition to this evidence I have cited from magistrates, officials, and the Secretary of the Publicans' Society, you will not find a Catholic or Protestant clergyman in the whole City of Dublin who has not agreed in the reality of the evil, and warmly expressed an opinion in favour of the change proposed by this Bill. Next I go to Belfast, the next town in importance and population, and I give the evidence of Mr. Thynne, before the same Committee. He was then District Inspector; he is now Deputy Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary. There is his evidence, found under Question 3,902.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I beg pardon. From what is the hon. Gentleman quoting? I did not catch the reference.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I am about to read the evidence of Mr. Thynne, given before the Committee of 1878. He says—The drinking on Saturday nights in Belfast is something frightful. They keep the public-houses open until the last moment, and the working classes make their marketing generally on Saturday nights, when they spend a great deal of their money in public-houses. It is a most melancholy sight to see the working classes getting home after the public-houses are closed on Saturday evening. The arrests are no index to the extent of the drinking that goes on, because for every man arrested hundreds go home in a half-drunken state, and the police do not interfere with them if they can get them to go home. The drinking on Saturday night is very bad indeed.Then the wituess goes on to say—It is not only possible but advisable to shorten the hours of sale on Saturday. I would say that they should close at 9 o'clock at the furthest, but I would be more inclined to say 8 o'clock. I think one of the greatest boons that you could confer on the working classes of Belfast would be to close the public-houses early on Saturday night.1735 Then I could quote to you the opinion of Bishops, Catholic and Protestant, fully and entirely in favour of Saturday early closing, though some of the Catholic Bishops are opposed to Sunday closing. Next I take a witness from the City of Cork. Some hon. Members will remember him—Mr. Nicholas Dan Murphy, who once represented Cork in this House, and who fought the Sunday Closing Bill in 1878 in the most pertinacious fashion. Mr. Murphy was examined before the Lords' Committee in 1878, and, in reply to a question from the Duke of Westminster, he said—Speaking generally, I would be in favour of shortening the hours on Saturday.When we get this from Mr. Murphy, when we put him in the box, I think we may fairly say—" Saul also is among the prophets." Then I quote a witness from Limerick—Mr. William Spaight—a magistrate, and I think twice Mayor. He says—I would like to have closing at 7 o'clock on Saturday, closing on all Sunday, and not opening before 9 on Monday. I believe, if that were done, very rarely would people lose their work on Monday, as now they do.In closing my references to the evidence, I desire to say that police opinion is unanimous throughout the country; that a great majority of the clergy, Catholic and Protestant, are in favour of the principle of the Bill; and amongst the representatives of working men who before the Committee supported or opposed Sunday closing there was a general opinion in favour of earlier closing on Saturday. To put it in the words of the Secretary of the Brassfounders' Society, "I do not think they would oppose it." Practically there is no opposition to my proposal, save and except from a certain class of licensed traders. I claim for the Bill that its proposal is very moderate. I do not propose to close public-houses on Saturday night all over Ireland at 9 o'clock. I take towns of 10,000 inhabitants and over and there apply this hour of closing on Saturday. I do not think that the evils of Saturday night drinking are equal in the country and in towns, and I confine the Bill to those places where the evil has principally to be dealt with. I am very anxious to hear the objections that will be urged against the Bill. I know we 1736 shall be told that the Corporation of Dublin have petitioned against the Bill. Of the Corporation of Dublin this much I may say—it is a very important Body, and I am not going to underrate its authority, but they were never elected upon that issue, and they passed their resolution for a Petition against the Bill before the Bill was printed, before they knew what it was. I saw the Petition presented at the Bar of the House by the locum tenens of the Lord Mayor, and I confess that gentleman played an appropriate part, for, divested of his robes, I discovered in him one of the biggest publicans in Dublin (Alderman O'Connor). He presented a Petition against the Bill from the Corporation of Dublin—not a disinterested Body entirely, seeing that 21 of its members are more or less interested in the drink trade. I know they are not all publicans, but every man who sells drink, one way or another, or who makes it, is interested in the trade. Members of Public Bodies all over Ireland are largely interested in the drink trade. I am not complaining of it, but only stating the fact, and the mere fact, that one or two of those bodies have presented Petitions against the Bill must not delude the House as to the merits of the question. I may be told that this earlier closing will be a serious inconvenience to working men who have to do their marketing and shopping on Saturday night, and I quite admit that there may be something in that argument, because the publicans in Ireland are often grocers and provision sellers as well. That is a great misfortune, but it is a fact. I am not underrating the objection, but this much I may say: that it is not a great objection; that in many cases wages are paid on Friday night, and, therefore, abundant opportunity is presented for shopping. Other wages were paid at 2 o'clock on Saturday, and, again, there was ample time to make purchases. In Dublin shop hours are late, and it would be a good thing to try and make them a little earlier. I advocate no violent social revolution. The change can do nobody any harm, and it will do a great deal of good. There is another argument I confess I approach with regret. It is an argument advanced by the Licensed Victuallers' Society, and I am told in the ordinary channels of information that it is adopted by the hon 1737 Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), and so I treat it with all respect. I am told that Irish social questions are not to be further meddled with by this House—they ought to be left to be dealt with by an Irish Parliament or by Local Government Boards. I will dispose of the last reference first. So far as the Local Government question is concerned, I may point out that even if the present English Local Government Bill were applied to Ireland. it would not touch Saturday night closing at all, because the Local Authorities get no power to deal with the liquor traffic on any clay but Sunday. Therefore, the Local Government Bill does not touch the principle of my Bill. Then I am told by the Dublin Corporation and the Licensed Victuallers' Society that all these questions are to be left over for an Irish Parliament. I do not pretend to enter upon the political aspect of that question at all. There may be a good deal to be said for it, but it is unfortunate that it is an argument that is sprung upon us for the first time in connection with this Bill. There are on the Order Book of this House 25 or 30 Bills proposing to deal with education in Ireland, with national schools, with lunatic asylums, and everything known to Irish public life. These Bills are entered on the Order Book in the names of Irish Members, and I have never yet heard that they do not propose to ask the House to deal with these questions, but to leave them over for the decision of an Irish Parliament. I detect where the argument comes from, and, speaking as a politician, I should rejoice in what it contains. It would furnish me such an immense lever to appeal to the Temperance Party, and to show them, and prove up to the hilt, that the Irish Parliament would be dominated by the public-house interest, and that Irish Members are afraid to have this subject settled here—but I hope the argument will not seriously be put forward. As a politician, I should rejoice at it; but as a social reformer I should be heartily sorry if that argument is pressed. But what does it mean, the asking that the question should be relegated to an Irish Parliament? It emanates only from Irish drink-sellers. I challenge anyone to show me any authority, police, clerical, magisterial, or working men, to show there is any demand for the postpone- 1738 ment of this question to the Greek Kalends or an Irish Parliament. No; I say, in default of any other argument, the publicans are driven to this line of defence. It is not a bonâ fide opposition that has been raised—it is a trade appeal to the National sentiment to stand by them in this matter. We hear much—not too much—of the woes of Irish tenant farmers, and hon. Members below the Gangway have done their best to mitigate the woes and relieve the hard lot of Irish tenants, and I have done what I could to help them; but I want to know this distinctly—are Irish tenant farmers the only class in the community to be relieved from real evils, from real grievances? The Irish tenant farmers have votes; they can fight their own battles; but the people I stand up to plead for to-day in my place in the House of Commons have no votes. I stand here to plead for the women and helpless children in our large cities and towns who are defrauded of their support from weekly wages by the public-houses being kept open till 11 o'clock. Let hon. Members think of the City of Dublin alone with its 30,000 families, or 150,000 human beings, living on an average in a room and a half each family, and of the public-houses blazing up brightly to an hour before midnight, and crowded with working men and labourers spending their money that ought to go to feed, sustain, clothe, and educate their children, and to make the lives of their wives and families happy and joyous instead of being a curse. I plead on behalf of these women and children who are without help or hope. I ask you to think of these deserted children without a chance in life. Are you not prepared to help them? Surely the House has not expended all its sympathy in helping tenant farmers, and will not refuse to help those who have not votes, but who plead for protection against the temptation of this most terrible of all curses. I have had experience that has not fallen to the lot of all hon. Members during the 25 years I have given earnest attention to this subject. I have been into the lanes and alleys. I have seen the men reeling home drunk. I have seen "the vitriol madness flashing up in the ruffian's brain." I have heard the filthy bye-ways "ring with the yell of the trampled wife;" and I say now, when there is no 1739 case for opposition, when the principle is sustained by public opinion, and even by those who have opposed Sunday closing—I say, when the moderation of my proposal is seen, I do not think the House will be disposed to put this aside to wait for an Irish Parliament. I will not say a word against an Irish Parliament now, nor discuss the propriety of this being settled by a Local Authority in Ireland better than here. I am not going to deal with that question at all. The House of Commons is here to legislate for the United Kingdom, and I think it is not likely to abrogate its rights until it has solemnly resolved to do so. Certainly, it is not likely to do so on a side issue like this. I ask the House to do something to mitigate the evil—to stay this plague of Saturday night drinking in our large towns. I shall be no party to postponement. I shall ask the House to give its decision to-day. If the House grants a second reading, I propose that the Bill should be sent to the Select Committee upstairs which is inquiring into the working of the Sunday Closing Act, and that the Committee be authorized to report upon it. Hon. Gentlemen who are Members of that Committee know that Saturday and Sunday drinking are inextricably mixed; that it is impossible to inquire into one without taking evidence on the other. To that Committee I would refer the Bill, and in the light of the evidence they will report to the House upon it. I am sure that if the House reads the Bill a second time it will be supported by public opinion in Ireland.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, he rose for the purpose of moving the Amendment which stood in his name—namely, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months; and he would also ask the House, if it should accede to the request of the hon. Member who moved the second reading, not to send the Bill for consideration to the Select Committee which was sitting upstairs. It was well known that he (Mr. J. O'Connor) had, to some extent, opposed the constitution of that Committee. He had opposed it on the ground that it was unfairly constituted, and he had 1740 endeavoured to show, by a criticism of its component parts, that those who were in favour of the views of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down were largely in the ascendant in the Committee, which made that body incompetent to deal fairly with the subjects placed before it for consideration. The hon. Member who moved the second reading had indulged in some very severe criticism of those who wished to postpone the consideration of this very important question until Ireland had the management of her own affairs, and he had said that there were other subjects brought before the House for consideration and decision, such as the education question. But the hon. Member must be aware that the Bishops of Ireland had postponed the consideration of the subject of education—he must be aware that they did not agitate that question for many years past, because they entertained the hope that it would be relegated to an Irish Parliament.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, the hon. Member shifted his position, of course. He now stated that he was speaking of the National School teachers; but even with regard to the National School teachers it must be pointed out that that body had done nothing for the past few years, except to apply to the House for grants of money to supplement their small salaries until such time as a Parliament on College Green had had an opportunity of deciding upon the justice of their claim. The hon. Member had also said that the publican element would dominate an Irish Parliament; but he (Mr. J. O'Connor) would venture to assert and to remind the lion. Member that there were those to-day who would take up a position in opposition to him (Mr. T. W. Russell) who were just as independent as he was, who were just as independent of domination as anyone else, and who would bring to the consideration of any subject which could be brought before this Parliament minds as free from bias, and as capable of deciding on the justice of the case, as the hon. Member himself. The Irish Members had other reasons, however, for asking the House not to decide on this important question. In dealing with the licensing question in England, it had been proposed to leave it to the 1741 Local Bodies about to be formed under the new Local Government Bill. The House very properly postponed the consideration of this matter in which large interests were involved, and placed it in the hands of those who were best able to deal with it—namely, the Local Bodies about to be formed, and all that the opponents of the Bill asked for was that the consideration of this subject should be postponed until Local Bodies either of a national or other character were established in Ireland, for those Bodies would best understand the interests at stake, and would be best able to legislate on the matter on principles of justice. The hon. Member who moved the second reading had said that there was a consensus of opinion in favour of the measure; but had the hon. Member brought before the House one expression in favour of the curtailment of the hours of opening on Saturdays? Had the hon. Gentleman given them any evidence of that consensus of opinion? None whatever, because there had been no expression of opinion in favour of the Bill; but, on the contrary, there had been expressions against the Bill, and very decided expressions too. He would endeavour to place these expressions of opinion before the House. First and foremost, they had an expression of opinion from the leading Local Body in Ireland—namely, the Dublin Corporation, which had been criticized so very adversely by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). The hon. Member had said that that Corporation was dominated by the publican element; but he had failed to state that the resolution which was passed, and the Petition which was agreed to by that Body almost unanimously, had been moved by a man who had been once a Member of this House, and who had no connection whatever with the interests at stake, and that it was seconded by another gentleman who had no connection with the trade whatever—he referred to Alderman Dawson and Alderman Dillon. That resolution was also supported by Mr. Doherty, a man who occupied a very high social position in Dublin, a man who had been a teetotaller all his life, and who was engaged in large transactions in the building trade, where he employed a large number of hands. That resolution was passed by a Corpo- 1742 ration the majority of whose members were not connected with the liquor trade. The fact was that there were comparatively few publicans voting on that occasion, and the vast majority of those who passed the Petition had no connection with the trade, as the hon. Member very well knew.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that he had not stated that this Petition was passed by persons connected with the trade.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, the hon. Member should not have made any statement concerning the matter. He had failed to point out for the information of the House that two-thirds of those who signed the Petition in the Corporation were connected with the trade. What was that Petition? He would read it to the House. After several paragraphs of an introductory character, it said—That inasmuch as the supply of drink is not confined to what is sold on licensed premises, your Petitioners fear the result, should the public be driven to resort to those illicit and other sources for procuring drink which are, unfortunately, so numerous in Dublin and other large cities. That measures granting increased facilities for the better housing of the artizan and labouring population of cities and large towns in Ireland would be better calculated than any restrictive measures could be to create a steady, decided and progressive improvement in the morals and manners of the people. And your Petitioners trust that such measures will be introduced speedily, and respectfully submit that under the operation of such measures of social improvement the vice of drunkenness will gradually disappear, without the necessity for further coercive measures on the part of the Legislature. That no city having a population of 50,000 in the United Kingdom is at present subjected to a measure for the closing of licensed premises on Saturday evenings earlier than the hours at present in force in Dublin; and your Petitioners respectfully submit that no justification exists for passing into law a measure of so dangerous and novel a character as the Public-Houses Earlier Closing on Saturdays (Ireland) Bill.That was a very strong Petition. It was a Petition addressed to that House by the first Municipal Body in Ireland—the Corporation of the Metropolis—and he trusted that it would have due weight with hon. Members. The hon. Member had also said that he knew no Catholics in Ireland but those who had expressed opinions in favour of the Bill.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he had stated nothing of the kind. What he said was that he knew no Catholic 1743 Bishop or Catholic clergyman in Ireland who did not support the Bill.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
The hon. Gentleman knew of no Catholic Bishop? There were 26 Catholic Bishops; and how many of these, he should like to know, had expressed an opinion upon the matter?
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
No; only 10; and he would defy the hon. Member to produce to the House any evidence that would go to prove that a larger number than that had made any statement bearing upon the matter. But he (Mr. J. O'Connor) was not going to weary the House with the statements of the Bishops, although he could, if he chose, produce before the House for its information and enlightenment a statement, on the part of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, where they expressed the opinion that if the public-houses were closed and were restricted in any further manner greater evils would arise. What they had to bear in mind was that, in considering these matters, some hon. Gentlemen always had the drunkard in their minds, and never had any regard to those who made a proper use of the public-house. The hon. Member had spoken about a consensus of opinion in favour of the Bill; but he had produced no evidence whatever in support of his assertion. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) had given the opinion of the Corporation of the City of Dublin. The Cork Corporation had, in like manner, passed a similar resolution, and the united trades of Cork had passed a strong resolution on the subject, as also had the congregated trades of Limerick. This was the resolution of the tradesmen of Limerick—That this meeting of the congregated trades of Limerick emphatically protests against the present Bill before Parliament, for the total closing of public-houses on Sundays, or any curtailment of the existing hours on Saturdays and Sundays. We are strongly of opinion that if such a Bill becomes law, its result will be to encourage illicit trade, lead to the system of introducing drink into the houses of the people, and spread very extensively the contaminating vice of intemperance.Here they had the very people who would be affected by the legislation protesting against the curtailment of the hours of opening. A strange fact in this controversy was this—that those who were affected by the legislation 1744 protested at all times against these restrictions. Those who made a proper use of the public-houses protested against the restriction, and for very good reasons, as he would explain to the House by-and-bye. Talking about tradesmen, in the very limited case the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had put before them, he had read out the opinion of one tradesman—a brass founder—from Dublin, who gave his evidence long ago; and here he would remind the House that all the evidence produced by the hon. Member was a matter of ancient history. They were dealing with the present time, and they would have to judge the question by the effect of the restrictive legislation already in force in Ireland—of the effects produced since the period of which the evidence the hon. Member had quoted referred to. What was the use of evidence given in 1887, when the present Sunday Closing Act was not in operation? It was all guesswork, and even this brass founder, whose evidence had been quoted, did not seem to have a very decided opinion upon the matter. The tradesmen to whom he (Mr. J. O'Connor) had referred were the men whose opinions were entitled to due weight from the House; and, as he had said before, it was strange that those who opposed the restrictions were the people who would be injured by continued long hours for the sale of drink, if any injury were done at all. But the fact was that in this matter the more the restriction the less the effect, and that was proved by official figures. What were the figures in this case? He would give a few to the House; and he trusted the House would pay considerable attention to this branch of the case. They had contended all along that the operation of the Closing Acts already in existence had resulted in evil effects; and what he now desired to point out to the House was that on Saturdays and on every other week day there had been a decrease in the number of arrests and convictions for drunkenness, and the only day for which there had been no decrease was the day upon which the houses were closed. In the 40 weeks, from the 12th June, 1877, to the 12th March, 1878, the number of persons arrested in the Dublin Metropolitan Police District for drunkenness on Saturdays, according to a Return issued 1745 at the time by the promoters of Saturday closing, was 4,332, being an average of 108 each Saturday. Now, as the right hon. Gentleman on the Government Bench (Mr. Matthews) knew, these figures were not changed, and the evidence taken recently before the Committee sitting upstairs showed that the figures at the present moment were exactly the same. The following figures would illustrate the decrease which had taken place. In 1877–8, as he had stated, the number of arrests each Saturday were 108; whereas, for 1884 and 1885 taken together, the average number of arrests each Saturday was 60, the decrease in Saturday drunkenness in seven years from 1877–8 to 1885 being 44.5 per cent. In the years 1884 and 1885 in Dublin, on what teetotallers called the most drunken day of the week, the ratio of arrests for drunkenness to the population was as 1 to 5,900, showing a decrease since 1877 of nearly 45 per cent. Those were the figures as to the past. He had some other figures to put before the House as bearing upon this point. In the three years 1878, 1879, and 1880, the total arrests on Saturdays were altogether 15,269, and in the years 1883, 1884, and 1885 the total number was 9,155, showing a decrease of 6,111, or over 35 per cent.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The fact is, the hon. Member for South Tipperary—[Cries of "Order:"]—I rise to a point of Order, and I say the fact is, the hon. Member is quoting figures given upstairs before the Select Committee, which Committee has not yet reported, and I wish to take your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as to whether it is in Order for an hon. Member to quote figures under such circumstances?
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, he thanked Mr. Deputy Speaker for his ruling. The House would, no doubt, take these 1746 figures for what they were worth, and he submitted to hon. Members that they were worth a great deal. If they were not valuable, the hon. Member for South Tyrone would not object to their being introduced to the House. These were the figures with regard to Dublin. That was a large statement, but they found on examining into the matter that the fact was the same all over the country. He would now take the case of a town of smaller dimensions—namely, that of the town of Clonmel in Tipperary, and what did they find there? Why, that in 1882 the number of Saturday arrests were 120; in 1883, they were 129; in 1881, 125; in 1885, 122; in 1886, 107; and in 1887, 76; a most remarkable decrease in Saturday arrests. Now let them take other week days. In 1884, there were 477 arrests; in 1885, 463; in 1886, 395; and in 1887, 233. Therefore, they saw that on Saturday and on every other week day there had been a gradual decrease in drunkenness and arrests for drunkenness, but what was the case with regard to Sunday closing in Clonmel? Why, that during the few years before the passing of the Sunday Closing act the arrests on Sunday were 368; whereas for the 9¼ years since the passing of the Act, that was up to the present, the number was 305, and if an addition were made, taking the general average, for the three-quarters of a-year, in order to make 10 years to complete the comparison, the number would be brought up to 344. Therefore, he had shown that there was a very substantial decrease both in Dublin and Clonmel in Saturday drunkenness, and the only figures they had with regard to Sunday drunkenness showed that there had been little decrease worth mentioning since the passing of the Sunday Closing Act. Well, the same story was told by a town of another character—he alluded to the town of Sligo in the West of Ireland. In the year 1880, in that town there were 35 arrests and 37 convictions for drunkenness; in 1881, there were 38 arrests and 45 convictions; in 1882, there were 67 arrests and 72 convictions; in 1883, 41 arrests and 43 convictions; in 1884, 68 arrests and 71 convictions; in 1885, 49 arrests and 51 convictions; in 1886, 74 arrests and 78 convictions; and in 1887, 68 arrests and 70 convictions. That showed a large increase in the arrests and convictions for drunken- 1747 ness on Sunday between the years 1880 and 1887. A gradual increase until the number of arrests and convictions became really appalling. These figures should bring conviction to every reasonable mind that, where restrictions were placed on legitimate trade, the result was the increase of arrests and convictions for drunkenness. The hon. Member for South Tyrone was not the first Member of the House who had proposed legislation upon this subject. There was an Irishman, and a patriotic Irishman, who introduced a Bill into this House some years ago—he referred to the late Mr. A. M. Sullivan, and had at that time predicted that if the Bill he introduced did not pass, there would be an appalling increase of drunkenness in Ireland on Saturdays. Had the House consented to Mr. A. M. Sullivan's request, and had these figures been produced here to-day, they would be said to be the result of Mr. Sullivan's Bill. But no restriction had been placed on the trade on Saturdays or any other week day, and this was the result—a decrease in the number of arrests and convictions for drunkenness; whereas on the only day on which restrictions were applied there was a gradual and appalling increase in the number of arrests for drunkenness. Such were the figures. They entirely proved his (Mr. J. O'Connor's) contention. Now, what were the opinions of those who were entitled, to speak on the subject of this Bill? This was the opinion of the Mayor of Sligo. He was asked—What would be the effect on the minds of the majority of the people of Sligo if the houses were closed at 9 on Saturday nights?and his answer was—The closing of the shops at 9 on Saturday nights would be a social revolution in Sligo; it would be changing the habits of the people altogether.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
rose to Order, and asked Mr. Deputy Speaker, if the hon. Member was entitled. to quote the exact evidence given by a certain witness before the Committee upstairs before that Committee had reported? He had not understood that the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker went that length.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, he would not press the point. He would merely state that in public meeting assembled, and in meetings of Corporations, tradesmen and others whose opinions were to be considered as valuable by this House, and also the mayors of cities and others who came into close contact with the people, had stated that legislative restrictions of this kind were calculated to increase intemperance. The evidence of such persons was much more valuable than that of officials, such as had been quoted by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, for officials, as they knew, were always asking for more extended powers, and took nothing into consideration but the question of the ease with which they could carry on their avocations. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) protested against the acceptance merely of the evidence of police officials without putting side by side with it the more valuable, because the more likely to be true, opinions of the mayors of cities and of the representatives of trades. The opinions of magistrates in Dublin had been quoted in that House with regard to the closing of public-houses on Saturday nights. But what was the opinion of Mr. O'Donel with regard to what went on during the hours when public-houses were closed? This gentleman had also made this statement—speaking of what happened before 2 o'clock on Sunday, the hour at which public-houses opened—In the low, squalid districts there are known houses, known to the police also, carrying on illicit trade, where crowds of people congregate and get drunk, but there is no getting legal evidence of the fact.If that were so in the green wood, what would it be in the dry? In the darkness and turmoil of Saturday night, with the police kept busy in the crowded open streets, what would the masses do after their week's toil, with all their wages in their pockets? Let Mr. O'Donel tell them—Can I believe that, like good little boys; it school, grown up men—men with plenty of money in their pockets after their hard week's work, and earning good wages from 15s. to 20s. to £2 10s. and £3, and some of them more—if they have a desire for drink, will refrain because you pass an Act shutting up public-houses If they can get it, will they refrain from drinking? My opinion is that they will not.What a glorious harvest for the "she- 1749 beens" the author of this Saturday Closing Bill was preparing! At the present moment in Dublin, according to the Blue Book issued by the Commissioner of Police, there were 188 houses known to the police engaged in illicit trade in alcoholic liquors. A pathetic appeal was made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, in which he spoke of the widows and the orphans; but he (Mr. J. O'Connor) could raise his voice, if he had the same ability, in terms as passionate and pathetic as the hon. Member had made use of, on the other side of the question. He would appeal on behalf of the widow and the orphan, and on behalf of men's families who would raise their voices against the respectable houses being closed against their husbands or fathers, and their being driven, as the figures he had quoted proved that they were driven, to illicit drinking houses, to the shebeen, and the low, squalid public-house, the owner of which was willing to run a risk and to cheat the law for the purpose of traffic. He would appeal on behalf of these people, who had over and over again expressed their desire that nothing should be done which would tend to increase the temptations of working men to frequent the shebeen and bogus drinking clubs. Those were the dangers and the evils which had been pointed out in the past, those were the fears which had been expressed in the past, and such was the realization of these fears, as that day had proved. The figures proved to the hilt the case brought against these restrictive laws, and the hon. Member who moved the second reading of the Bill knew it. Not only had convictions and arrests for drunkenness increased, but, according to official figures, the number of convictions against those who had indulged in illicit trading in Ireland had also increased beyond measure. Mr. Deputy Speaker had ruled that he (Mr. J. O'Connor) could not quote the evidence given before the Committee upstairs. The hon. Member for South Tyrone knew very well why he had objected to that evidence being used in the House.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
wished to say that he had consulted Mr. Speaker as to whether he could use such evidence in this debate, and the right hon. Gentleman had replied to him that he could 1750 not. That was the reason, and the only reason, why he had risen to Order.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, the reason he had made any reference at all to this evidence was the attitude the hon. Gentleman had himself assumed. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) had objected as the hon. Member knew, in Committee upstairs, to the use of this evidence in the House; but the hon. Member had declared that it was his intention to use this evidence. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) had been misled by the hon. Member. If the hon. Member had told him that he was not going to use the evidence given before the Committee, he (Mr. J. O'Connor) should not have troubled himself with preparing any extracts to give to the House, and should not have troubled the House with the statements he had made. It was the hon. Member's own conduct which had led to the present position. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) must express his regret that he could not give the House all the facts he had prepared, as some of them were of a very strong and interesting character. But there could be no harm in stating this, because it was a fact well known—and these were figures which Mr. Deputy Speaker had ruled it was quite proper to give—that in Derry, from 1872 to 1881, there were no prosecutions for shebeening; whilst from 1882 to 1887—that was to say, in five years—there had been six convictions. They knew it was a very difficult thing to detect shebeening. It was a very difficult thing to say who were entering a person's premises in order to cheat the law in Ireland, as elsewhere; and when there had been no less than six convictions for the offence of shebeening, it was only reasonable to suppose that there were 10 times that number of shebeens which had never been detected. He believed that the question had to be decided on entirely different grounds to those laid down by the hon. Member who had moved the second reading. They had it on the evidence of the Petition of the Dublin Corporation, and they had it stated on the authority of Mr. O'Donel, the Dublin magistrate—an opinion he expressed years ago, and which he reiterated very recently—that the true solution of this question was not to be found in restrictive legislation, but in the development of those various schemes which had been already adopted for the purpose of improving the social status 1751 of the working man, and for the purpose of improving the dwellings in which he was compelled to live. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) had heard it over and over again stated by mayors of cities and magistrates, and men who had studied the question, that improvements in artizans' dwellings—improving the working man's home—would have a greater effect in keeping him out of the public-house and in promoting temperance than any restrictive legislation which they could pass in that House. He thought the facts and opinions he had laid before the House would, as he thought they ought to, induce the House to believe with him that such legislation as that which was proposed by the hon. Member was tantamount to trying to get in the wrong end of the wedge. It went entirely on wrong premises. It was flying in the face of facts. When they proposed a remedy which had already failed in Ireland—and the Sunday Closing Act had unquestionably failed, as was proved by the figures—["No, no!"]—yes; as was proved by the figures he had given to the House. ["No, no!"]—yes; as was proved by the figures he had given to the House. Well, he contended, at any rate, that the facts and figures he had put before the House would leave no doubt in the mind of any reasonable man that these restrictions had failed, as all restrictions of the kind must fail. ["No, no!"] An hon. Member for Wales said "No." Well, if it were germane to the subject, he (Mr. J. O'Connor) could produce before the House facts and figures and statements from clergymen in Cardiff and other parts of Wales to prove that the Act in operation there had been a failure as well as that in operation in Ireland, and that it had led to the introduction of what these people termed" drinking hells." Aye, and if it were germane to the subject he could bring forward the opinion of the Provost of Glasgow, who, the other day, raised his voice against the Sunday Closing Acts in operation in Glasgow, on the ground that they had led to the establishment of bogus drinking clubs which the people were crying out against. The people were condemning the Acts because so many of their number were ruined and demoralized by being driven into these horrible dens. Well, he (Mr. J. O'Connor) opposed the second reading 1752 of the Bill because, as he said, it was flying in the face of the facts, because it was a remedy which had failed everywhere it had been applied; he opposed it because he believed in the figures he had quoted and in the opinions he had stated to the House, and because his own experience of the people who would be affected by the measure led him to believe that the Acts already in existence had been failures, and that any similar measure would also fail if passed into law. It was for these reasons that he opposed the Bill and begged to move the Amendment which stood on the Paper in his name.
§ MR. P. M'DONALD (Sligo, N.)
said, he had noticed some remarks made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) to most of which he took very strong exception. In the first place, the hon. Member had said that every Catholic clergyman and every Catholic Bishop in Ireland had pronounced in favour of the measure which he had introduced. Now, it was a fact that only 12 of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland had spoken at all on the subject, whilst 14 of them had remained silent; and as to the latter, he supposed it was to be inferred that they remained neutral on the question. Two Bishops he admitted had declared in favour of the measure, or rather in favour of total Sunday closing; whilst one of them had pronounced strongly against it, and the other partially so. Now, what he (Mr. M'Donald) stated with regard to the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, he could with equal confidence and equal certainty assure the House was the feeling amongst the Catholic clergy. They were largely divided upon the subject, though he believed that if opinions were individually and collectively taken, it would be found that the great majority were against any restrictive legislation in the matter. The hon. Member who moved the second reading of the Bill also said that there were no opponents of the measure but those connected with the trade. To that statement, also, he (Mr. M'Ponald) took strong exception. He could say, as hon. Members on the other side knew, that the only promoters and advocates of the measure and of restrictive measures relating to the subject were temperance advocates, of which body the hon. Member for South Tyrone was a member—according 1753 to his own declaration he had been a worker in the cause for 25 years, and he had not always, as the House knew, been a disinterested one. The hon. Member had also referred to the Corporation of Dublin, and on that subject he (Mr. M`Donald) could supplement what had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor). The constitution of the Corporation of Dublin was entirely different to what it had been more than once represented to be in that House. The Corporation consisted of 60 members, and, since the hon. Member who moved the second. reading of the Bill had spoken, he (Mr. M'Donald) had gone carefully over the official list, and had made a pencil mark against the name of every member of that body who was connected directly with the liquor trade, and he found that the total number was 12 out of 60—in other words, only one-fifth of the entire number. He must, at the same time, admit that there were a few others who were indirectly connected with the trade—that was to say, there were some few manufacturers of soda water, and so on, though it was hard to see the interest they had in the trade. He could supplement the statement of his hon. Friend, that at the meeting at which the resolution to which attention had been directed was passed, the great majority—at least two-thirds of those present—and who were in favour of forwarding the Petition to that House, were entirely unconnected with the trade. He (Mr. M`Donald) opposed this measure on several grounds, and he would trouble the House with a remark or two upon each of his objections. In the first place, he considered the measure totally uncalled for. And why did he say that? Because no public Bodies in Ireland had pronounced in favour of it, and no considerable portion of the Irish community had declared for or had asked for it. Nobody had pronounced in favour of it, but the professional advocates of temperance, who were the speakers at this meeting to-day and at that meeting to-morrow, and at another meeting the day afterwards—gentlemen who were merely the promulgators of temperance ideas—pale-faced gentlemen who, simply because a certain amount of drink was not suited to their constitutions, like the dog in the manger 1754 thought that no one else should have anything to do with it. Now, that attitude he took strong objection to, and he maintained that in this free country, and at this time of day, it was not at all consistent with the requirements of the general public and with the requirements of freedom that people should be coerced and interfered with in doing that which they had a perfect right to do, as they had so often heard from the Government Benches. His second objection to the Bill was that it was a piece of class legislation, and why did he say that? Why, because only a fractional portion of the community asked for the legislation, and desired to tie down to their own views and habits others who differed from them, perhaps constitutionally and physically, and in many other respects. It was, to his mind, utterly unfair that any limited or sectional portion of the community should coerce the majority in a matter of that kind. He would also ask why, if this Act were good for Ireland, they did not also introduce it for England? Why had not such a movement as this been made by the temperance advocates in England, and why had no movement on the subject been made by the present or any past Government? The first he had heard about any Government dealing with this question was in the County Government Bill, the provision introduced therein, with which he thoroughly and entirely agreed, being that the decision in this case should be left to the people themselves; and that brought him to the question of Local Option. He was no opponent of Local Option. He considered that if the community felt they were entitled to a certain privilege or duty, or to have a certain law made and carried into effect, their wishes should be complied with; but he would not narrow the area of Local Option within any small limits. He would. say, let the whole county or the whole borough, as the case might be, decide; but do not let a particular ward in a borough or a particular parish in a county decide for all the rest, or even decide for themselves, as that would be totally inconsistent with common sense. Now it had been mentioned, and mentioned very truly, that all the Corporations in Ireland but two had declared strongly by majorities and by Petitions against this measure, and the two to 1755 which he referred were Belfast and Londonderry, and neither of those had pronounced either one way or the other. Consequently, it must be conceded that the great majority of corporate and representative Bodies in Ireland were opposed, and strongly opposed, to this measure; and as to the statement that these corporate Bodies did not represent the wishes of the majority of the people, he declared that unquestionably they did. The same might be said of the Poor Law Boards and other representative Bodies, and he would ask the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) whether he could point to a single representative Body in Ireland which had declared in favour of this Bill? Not one; and, in the face of these facts, he would ask the House to consider seriously before they expressed an opinion by vote or voice today on that subject. He was not surprised that the public Bodies in Ireland had expressed themselves in the manner in which they had done. He had with him some figures which were not taken in recent evidence. They were official, and he could in confidence give the name of the person from whom he had obtained them if it was required; but he would not state it in public. These figures showed the number of arrests on Sunday arising out of Saturday night drinking in the City of Cork. In 1874, before the passing of the Act, the number of arrests was 230; but in 1885, long after the passing of the Act, it was 378, or, in other words, 148 more, or about 50 per cent more than before the passing of the Act.
§ MR. P. M'DONALD
Yes. The evidence of the senior Divisional Magistrate in Dublin, Mr. O'Donel, had been referred to. Well, that gentleman strongly objected to any earlier closing on Saturday night than 10 o'clock. That gentle- man said his former opinion was different, but that he had modified and changed that opinion in consequence of his larger experience, and he quite felt that it would be detrimental to the interests of the people, and injurious in other respects, if the people were deprived of the privilege of buying their necessaries at an earlier hour than 10 o'clock. Now, as he had already stated, 1756 he (Mr. M'Donald) would not rely upon any expression of opinion on the part of any professional witness in the present or the past. He would take the opinion of the people themselves, and if the people themselves were consulted, as he hoped they would be before any legislation was proposed, he could assure the House that the great majority would vote in favour of the continuance of the existing system for the exempted cities and partial Sunday opening elsewhere. If they did make a change in the law, there would be another question they would have to consider, and that would be the question of compensation. They would not deprive the traders of England of those vested interests which, according to public opinion in this country, belonged to them, and if they did not do that in England, why should they do it in Ireland? He only asked for equal legislation for the two countries. Unfortunately, they had not equal legislation for the two countries. He had noticed in his time, before he came into the House, through reading the public papers, that every measure of a restrictive character was first tried in Ireland. It seemed as though Ministers were anxious to try their 'prentice hands in Ireland, and to see how their legislation worked there before bringing it over to England. If they found their restrictive measures worked in Ireland, they very soon brought them over to England. But he also noticed that in the case of an ameliorative measure it was always introduced first in England and denied to Ireland for a time, if not altogether. It was only after there had been strong and persistent agitation that they could get such measures as were passed for England extended to Ireland. He called to mind at present a measure in which he (Mr. M'Donald) was particularly interested, and which the hon. and learned Gentleman sitting opposite (Mr. Madden) was perfectly familiar with—he meant the measure dealing with the Law of Bankruptcy. That measure had been denied to them in Ireland. They had called out for legislation on the subject, but goodness knows when they would get it. And so it was with all measures of a like nature. He would appeal on this question to English Gentlemen sitting on the opposite side of the House, and to other Gentlemen opposite who 1757 might be interested in this question. He would appeal to them to hesitate before they voted in favour of this Bill that day. If they did vote for it, and sent it to a Committee, they would break down the outwork of the trade in Ireland, and when they did that he promised them that it would not be difficult to attack the English citadel afterwards. Therefore he warned hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side to be careful what they did. In any case, he would strongly urge that even if the Bill were read a second time it should not be sent to the Committee upstairs, for, looking at the manner in which that Committee was constituted, the result would be a foregone conclusion. How could a small minority hold their opinion in the face of a strong majority opposed to them? He had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—:(Mr. John O' Connor.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand. part of the Question."
§ COLONEL. WARING (Down, N.)
said, he should not have intervened in the debate at all but for the challenge of the bon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. M'Donald) in stating that the agitation in favour of the Bill had been got up entirely by the temperance advocates. Although he (Colonel Waring) had always been a temperance advocate, he did not come under the designation given by the hon. Member, of persons who went about from platform to platform advocating the abolition of the sale of liquor. He had never been a total abstainer, either in theory or practice; but, nevertheless, he desired to express his own opinion, and that of his constituents in the North of Ireland, that the Bill would be one of the most beneficial measures which could be suggested in the interests of the labouring classes. He had two objections to the measure. One of them was the objection which applied to almost every measure introduced for Ireland—namely, that it extended to Ireland only; the next was, that its operation was confined to towns with over 10,000 inhabitants. He could not for the life of him see any reason 1758 why that limit should be chosen. If the Bill were read a second time, and sent to the Committee upstairs, he hoped that that limit would be struck out, and the measure made to apply to the whole country. He believed that a larger proportion of drunkenness and squandering of the wages of the people took place on Saturday night than in the whole of the rest of the week. No doubt, sonic figures had been quoted by hon. Members who had spoken on the other side, carefully culled and selected, to show that in one or two towns there had not been any large amount of increase in Saturday drinking. He believed, however, that if the statistics for the whole of Ireland were given in full, the result would be altogether different from that which had been given to the House. With regard to Sunday closing in Ireland, he was able to speak from his own experience in a very unbiassed manner; because, when the Bill was first proposed for enforcing Sunday closing, he was an opponent of it, thinking that it would increase the number of shebeens, but he confessed that in the district in which he resided his anticipations in that respect had been entirely erroneous. The shebeens had not increased, and the consumption of illicit drink had diminished. He had strong reasons for holding that view, and he did not think that the district of which he spoke could be taken as more than a specimen. Lurgan, the principal town in the County of Armagh, near which he lived, stood at the head of the list in all Ireland for the small number of public-houses it contained in proportion to its population, and he took credit to himself for that fact as one of the magistrates who were required to decide the licences granted at the Licensing Sessions. His experience of the change, so far as the question of intemperance was concerned in Ireland, was that the amount of drink consumed had been enormously reduced, and a less portion of the wages of the working classes was dissipated in the public-houses than was formerly squandered in that way. Hon. Members who opposed the Bill had referred to the opinion of some of the public Bodies in Ireland. Now, he did not think that the opinion of public Bodies who were elected for a totally different purpose ought to have much weight, 1759 The Boards of Guardians, it was stated, were opposed to the Bill; but what had the Boards of Guardians to do with the question? They were not elected for the purpose of licensing public-houses, or looking after the liquor traffic at all, and he thought that if they would confine themselves strictly to their own legitimate business it would be much better for their own country. As for the opinion of the Corporation of Dublin, he certainly did not possess that intense respect for it which appeared to be entertained by some hon. Gentlemen opposite. It had been suggested that bogus clubs had been increased since the traffic had been restricted. Now, if bogus clubs had sprung up, surely that was a reason for increasing the stringency of the Act applied to public-houses, and applying it to clubs also, rather than for allowing public houses to remain open at undue times. It was certainly no reason, because an Act was evaded, that a similar Act should not be passed to enforce the provisions of the law in the direction in which they had been allowed to fail. He had no wish to delay the House upon the question. He thought it was likely that they might come to an early decision. All he had desired was to say a few words to show that it was not only total abstainers who were supporting the Bill, but also those who took a very moderate view of the question.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said, he desired to protest with the greatest sincerity against the tone of the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down, and of other hon. Members who had expressed themselves in favour of the Bill. He thought that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had gone much further even than the advocates of temperance. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, as a non-teetotaller, confessed that he went much further in the direction of restrictive legislation than teetotallers themselves in regard to two very important points—namely, in confining the provisions of the Bill to Ireland, and limiting their application to towns of more than 10,000 inhabitants. As to the first part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's observations, the view he had expressed was exactly one of his (Mr. Flynn's) reasons why he objected to the Bill. If they were to pass a measure of this 1760 kind as an experiment, why confine it to Ireland? Why should Ireland be the only place—the corpus vile—on which to try measures of a restrictive character? If there was any principle which ought to be brought out prominently in connection with the Temperance Question, it was the principle of Local Option. He agreed with the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. P. M'Donald), who spoke a few minutes ago, in his remarks as to Local Option. It was quite true that the Local Government Bill did not deal in the Licensing Clauses with the shortening of hours. It only gave to the new Boards power to restrict or diminish the number of licensed houses. But it would not be difficult, if they were prepared to apply the same principles of legislation to England and. Wales as the Bill sought to apply to Ireland, but would be a matter of extreme simplicity, and he would commend the suggestion to the attention of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who took such a philanthropic interest in the Temperance Question, in Committee upon the Local Government Bill, when dealing with the Licensing Clauses, to give the new County Councils or Local Bodies power to deal with the question of Saturday closing. In that way they would ascertain the opinion of the House in regard to the whole of the question. At present the Government went out of their way, both on platforms outside and in that House, and they had actually inaugurated a new principle in dealing with vested interests in licensed public-houses. What did they do, however, in regard to Ireland? The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), in a speech of great ability, had moved the second reading of the Bill. Two or three speakers followed the hon. Member, and what were they prepared to do? They wanted to know especially what the Government were going to do. That was a matter of very important consideration. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had marred an otherwise excellent speech by introducing into it observations which had really nothing to do with the question. That was an unfortunate habit of the hon. Gentleman, and he (Mr Flynn) trusted that in future he would eliminate such remarks from the speeches he was accustomed to make, One of 1761 the observations of the hon. Member was that practically there was no opposition to the measure in Ireland, except from the licensed victuallers. There were two mis-statements in that assertion. In the first place, there was a division of opinion on the question among the people generally; and, in the second place, there was a great division within the ranks of the Irish Party. Further, a good deal of opposition came from those who, like himself, viewed the question impartially from a disinterested point of view, and were prepared to consider it on its merits as it affected the interests of the people. He claimed to be as strong an advocate of temperance and as strongly opposed to the great evils of drunkenness as any professed advocate of teetotalism in that House; but instead of adopting restrictive legislation, he should be prepared to proceed on different lines, and should be inclined rather to look to the extension and improvement of artizans' dwellings, the establishment of public libraries, and other conditions that were likely to elevate the working man and remove him from temptation to go to the public-house. Those were the lines on which they should endeavour to proceed, and he maintained that legislation of that character was of that grandmotherly character which all sensible men deprecated, but that it would fail to accomplish the object at which it aimed. The hon. Member for South Tyrone often reminded him of a fac-simile of a famous piece of statuary which was exhibited in the Paris Exhibition in 1878, in which an old woman, getting hold of a very dirty boy, proceeded in a somewhat rough and violent manner to scrub him clean. The hon. Member for South Tyrone was desirous of getting hold of every man who was not a teetotaller by the scruff of the neck, and addressing speeches to him as a very dirty boy. He maintained that the Irish people were not such very dirty boys, after all, and that intemperance did not prevail in Ireland to such a degree as some hon. Gentlemen believed. Certainly it did not exist in Ireland to so large an extent as in Scotland, and undoubtedly it did not exist to the same amount as in certain parts of England, and he, therefore, protested altogether against the character of the Irish people being taken away in this hasty manner, 1762 and he did not believe that any good result would follow from legislation of that character. The hon. Member for South Tyrone, in moving the second reading of the Bill, made a statement which was open to great exception—namely, that a general consensus of public opinion existed in Ireland in favour of the measure. He (Mr. Flynn) believed that every hon. Member who listened to the speech would recognize that the hon. Gentleman entirely failed to substantiate that very strong statement. The hon. Member quoted the opinion of the Roman Catholic Bishops, but any argument derived from that fact was very weak.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. FLYNN
resumed. He said that when an hon. Member moved that the House be counted, he (Mr. Flynn) was proceeding to question the statement of the hon. Member for South Tyrone when he said that the public opinion of Ireland was in favour of Saturday closing. He (Mr. Flynn) maintained that the hon. Member had already failed to substantiate that proposition, and the evidence which he brought forward in support of it was of the most unsatisfactory character. He would not say that the opinion of 10 or 12 Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland were not opinions of the greatest possible value, but what expression of opinion did the hon. Member bring forward from those classes who would themselves be affected by the measure? He had not given even one. He had referred to the evidence given before the Committee many years ago as to arrests for drunkenness in Dublin on Saturday nights; but he quoted no evidence whatever from those who would be affected by the measure. His (Mr. Flynn's) objection to the Bill was that it was essentially class legislation of the most oppressive kind. Those who were above the working classes, those who belonged to clubs and kept good houses, could afford to have their own wine cellars, or could drink at any hour they liked at their clubs. A working man could not do that, and the whole question involved was whether Saturday night closing would benefit the working classes or not. He respectfully urged 1763 that that was the entire question. But earlier Saturday night closing would, or might possibly, lead to an increase of illicit drinking—to an increase of what were known as shebeen houses, and all these means of dishonourable, illegal, and unlawful practices which might lead on the working classes to their ruin. That, to his mind, was the whole gist of the contention in regard to Saturday night closing. It could not be proved that there was any demand for it by the working classes, and, therefore, he maintained that a strong argument had been made out against the view of the hon. Member for South Tyrone as to the current of public opinion. He would now take the other side. The hon. and gallant Member who just spoke (Colonel Waring) had cast a sneer against the opinion of the Dublin Corporation; but hon. Members would know how sneers against the Dublin Corporation were coloured by certain political antipathies. He would, therefore, pass by those sneers with the contempt they deserved. The view entertained by the Corporation of Dublin in opposing the Saturday night closing was not confined to the Dublin Corporation, but the Corporations of Waterford, of Limerick, and of Cork had also petitioned against the principles of the Bill, while both in Limerick and in Cork the associated Boards had passed resolutions against the provisions contained in it. Then he would ask did they intend to consult the opinions of those most interested in the matter or not, or would they insist upon giving this grandmotherly legislation? Was the House of Commons such a superior Body that it knew better than the people themselves what was good for them? If there were any merit in the principle of the Bill, the hon. Member who introduced it and those who supported him were bound to prove to the satisfaction of the House that there was a strong opinion in its favour on the part of the working classes who would be affected by it. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had referred to the inquiries of two Committees which sat upon the question of Sunday closing some years ago, and said that a large body of evidence was given in favour of Saturday closing. He (Mr. Flynn) believed that that was so; but since that time the people of Ireland stood in a 1764 more advantageous position in regard to restrictive measures of the kind than they did in 1860. He hoped that fact would not be disputed by those who advocated the Bill. In the metropolitan district of Dublin, upon which the hon. Member for South Tyrone relied as justifying the measure, the Return as to Saturday drunkenness showed a steady decrease. From 1877 to 1878, the average number of arrests for drunkenness in the City of Dublin on Saturday were 108 in a population of 350,000. In 1883–4 the average was 60, in 1884–5 it was 56, and in 1885–6, 65; that was to say, that there had been a large decrease in the last 10 years in the average number of arrests on the Saturday in the Dublin metropolitan district, which district had been made the chief argument in favour of the measure. Indeed, the decrease amounted to from 40 to 45 per cent. Surely, those figures proved that there was no necessity whatever for that legislation. The hon. and gallant Member for North Down (Colonel Waring) said, in reference to another branch of the question, that restrictive legislation of that kind would not tend to introduce bogus clubs, shebeen houses, and illegitimate drinking. He (Mr. Flynn) quite disagreed with what the hon. and gallant Member said, and that was one of the reasons why he was strongly opposed to legislation of that character altogether. The Chief Police Magistrate, Mr. O'Donel, in speaking on the question of law drinking and unlicensed houses, commonly called shebeens, said that in the squalid districts of Dublin it was well known that there were houses carrying on an illicit trade in which people congregated to get drink. That occurred before the Sunday opening at 2 o'clock, and, if such things occurred in order to avoid the operation of Sunday closing, surely it was only natural to expect that on Saturday nights the same thing would prevail to a much larger extent. He would, therefore, urge upon the House that it would be far wiser to leave the matter as it stood at present, than to take what would be practically a leap in the dark, with the possible consequence that instead of promoting temperance, sobriety, and thrift, they would in all probability increase illicit drinking. Again, he took issue with the hon. Member for South 1765 Tyrone with regard to his contention that the opposition to the Bill was confined to those who had an interest in championing the cause of the Licensed Victuallers' Association. He had no connection with that association whatever, and he claimed to be as unbiassed and as impartial as the hon. Member for South Tyrone himself, even if not more so. He opposed the Bill on the distinct ground that it would not be to the advantage of the working classes, nor to the advantage of the people, who would be chiefly affected by it, and he asked the House to reject it upon that ground. He had asked the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland a few moments ago to give his attention to the suggestion he had ventured to throw out with regard to Local Option, and the possible introduction of certain principles into the Licensing Clauses of the Local Government Bill in. England. He strenuously protested against the two main cardinal lines of legislation to which the House seemed to be committed more and more as years rolled. by. The first was that restrictive legislation of all kinds, whether dealing with the great question of temperance, or with combinations, or agrarian societies—that restrictive legislation of all kinds and character the House was prepared to adopt for Ireland, and to pass against the protests of the Irish Members, while ameliorative legislation only of reforming and expansive character was passed for England, but never granted to Ireland at all, or only after years of strenuous, persistent, and incessant agitation. If hon. Members voted for this Bill, they should be prepared in consistency to support the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) in his proposal to develop the Licensing Clauses of the Local Government Bill in the direction which the Temperance Party thought desirable. If, on the contrary, they did not, but gave themselves a free hand in reference to the matter, they would be applying two distinctly opposite sets of principles to Ireland and England. He contended that they ought to be consistent, or prepared to give up legislation altogether. He apologized for having detained the House so long; but ho had wished, above all things, to make his opinions in regard to the measure clear, and to show that he and a largo number of 1766 Irish Members were opposed to a measure of the kind, because they believed that it would not be good for Ireland, or for the working classes of the country whom it would principally affect.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
said, that they had had ample experience in Scotland of the excellent effects of restrictive legislation of the character which it was proposed by this Bill to extend to Ireland. It was a remarkable fact that when a Bill of so much importance to Ireland was under discussion, only one Representative of an Irish constituency was at that moment present in the House, while not more than five or six Irish Members had been present during the whole of the debate. A great deal had been said with regard to the dangers of restrictive legislation. Now, his experience had not been that restrictive legislation, carried out to a reasonable extent, had had the effect of increasing the evils of illicit traffic in any proportion in comparison with the benefits which had resulted from that legislation itself. He was quite certain that no Scotchman in whatever part of the House he sat, or whatever views he might take on any other question, would hesitate to concur in the statement that restrictive legislation in Scotland had had a most beneficial effect upon the community. The hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) said that the greater the restrictions were, the less their effect was. He (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) challenged the accuracy of that assertion, for which there was no foundation whatever. The hon. Member also said that all restrictions of the same kind would fail, as he alleged that the restrictions on Sunday trading had failed. He (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) was not in a position to say whether the suppression of Sunday liquor trading in Ireland had failed or not; but this he would say, that no measure passed for the abolition of Sunday trading in any part of the United Kingdom could be tested as to whether it had failed or not, until it had run a far longer course than the Irish Sunday Closing Act had run. All Sunday trading in intoxicating liquors had been put a stop to for many years past in Scotland with the most beneficial results, and he was satisfied that no man in Scotland, who valued the moral eleva- 1767 tion of the community and had regard for the sacredness of the day of rest, would for one moment suggest that it would not be a great mistake to remove the restriction as regarded that country, and to revive Sunday trading. He was Quite certain of this—that any such attempt would be met with practical reprobation on the part of the whole community of Scotland. He might be asked what about Glasgow? Whatever the Lord Provost of Glasgow might have said about the establishment of bogus drinking clubs, he (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) was perfectly certain that no suggestion proceeded from that gentleman in favour of the re-establishment of the opening of public-houses in Glasgow on Sunday. He would venture to say that no burgh magistrate in Scotland would have the least chance of retaining the position he occupied, or of being elected on any Town Council, who would be prepared to make such a proposal. No doubt, those who desired to carry on excessive drinking would endeavour to carry out their efforts in spite of any legislation. But those efforts must be met by counter efforts on the part of the Legislature and of the He was quite certain that the bogus clubs in Glasgow, however much harm they might do, could only affect an infinitesimal portion of the population out of all proportion to the evil of restoring the old state of things under which public-houses were open in that country. It was said that the number of arrests in Ireland for drunkenness had increased since the passing of the Sunday Closing Act. He should like to know whether that did not arise from this fact—that whereas the police had now only a limited number of drunken people to deal with, they arrested them all; whereas in former years, when Sunday trade was carried on in Ireland, there were so many persons drunk on Sunday that the police were compelled to make a choice of those who made themselves most obstructive to the peace of the community, and dealt only with the worst and most hardened offenders?
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the assertion was that there had been an increase in the number of arrests and convictions for drunkenness on a Sunday. What he had represented was 1768 that there had been no increase, but a decrease.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
apologized for having misunderstood the hon. Member. He had thought that there had been an increase.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, there might have been an increase in regard to certain places; but if the right hon. and learned Gentleman thought there had been a general increase of drunkenness since Sunday closing was introduced into Ireland, he was entirely mistaken. There had been no such increase.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, that there was nothing more certain than this—that if they had drunkenness to any great extent in any place, the police could not cram the gaols with drunken men, and they were obliged to deal with those who caused the greatest commotion. On the other hand, when a measure was passed by which drunkenness had been enormously reduced—and there was no doubt to his mind that it had been reduced by the passing of the Irish Sunday Closing Act—it was not only possible, but reasonable to expect that the number of arrests in a particular town might be as large as it was before the passing of the Act, because, all illegal and illegitimate temptations having been removed, the police naturally used their efforts to take into custody all persons who were found in a state of drunkenness on that day, in order by that, as well as by other means, to discourage drunken habits. But, however that might be, he would only say that on that matter their experience in Scotland did not bear out the prophecy of the hon. Member for South Tipperary—that the greater the restrictions the worse the effect. It had been said also—and it was that which had led him to intervene in the debate earlier than he would otherwise have done—that the earliest attempts at restriction were made in Ireland. He thought what he had already said plainly indicated that that was not the case. The suspension of Sunday traffic in Ireland followed at a very long interval, indeed, the suppression of the Sunday traffic in Scotland. There was one other 1769 matter which had not been referred to which he desired to mention, and that was what he understood to be now the law in Ireland—namely, that publicans supplying liquor to be consumed on the premises also carried on the trade of grocers and provisions dealers. He did not propose to make a long speech; but he wished to make two or three suggestions to those who were in charge of the Bill, in the event of the Bill being read a second time and being sent to a Committee. He was certainly very much astonished to find that this was still the law in Ireland, as it had not for a long time been the law in Scotland. Anything more pernicious than such a custom he could not conceive. By the Act which was passed in 1853 it was made illegal to allow licences in Scotland for the sale of liquors to be consumed on the premises to any person who dealt in other articles of food or drink. He was sure that no one could object to the prohibition of such a custom as that, although, no doubt, the provision ought to be carried out in a reasonable way, and not done all of a sudden. Everyone who was in favour of temperance knew the temptations that were offered to persons who, when they went to shops, to buy a supply of non-intoxicants for their families, were brought into contact with drinking in places where drink was allowed to be sold on the premises. The danger of such a custom could not possibly be exaggerated. It exposed the public to the most aggravated temptations, and it was a traffic which ought not to be permitted. Then it was urged that prohibition always led to the increase of shebeening. That had not been found to be the case in Scotland. There could be no doubt whatever, that if they passed such a measure as this for restricting the hours during which public-houses were to be open; for a time, there would be a hot and severe struggle between the illicit dealers and the police; but with efficient arrangements and an efficient police they would be able to reduce shebeens to the lowest possible limit, and would be successful in preventing illicit drinking to a very large extent. No doubt, whatever was forbidden by the law led to illicit attempts to break the law. He did not suppose for one moment that even the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would 1770 suggest that if his theories were expressed in legislation, it would be possibly wholly to prevent persons from having their glass of grog, or prevent every human being in the United Kingdom from getting some alcohol for consumption. As a matter of fact, he presumed the hon. Baronet was of opinion that it was practically impossible to put down all liquor traffic. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: No.] He was sorry for that, because he had always imagined the hon. Baronet to be a reasonable person. His contention was, that if they adopted that principle—and he hoped they would adopt it for England too—they would do a great deal to put down shebeens. In Scotland, if the magistrates had reasonable grounds for suspecting on credible testimony that the sale of liquor was being carried on in an unlicensed place, they could cause that place to be searched, and if more than one gallon of spirits were found, the persons found there could be arrested, and all the spirits and other intoxicants found on the premises were liable to be seized. He thought that would be a legitimate arrangement, and of great benefit both to England and Ireland. There was one other suggestion he desired to make, and it was this—that if the House considered it desirable to restrict the sale of liquor in Ireland to the hours mentioned in that Bill, there could be nothing more pernicious, or dangerous, or uncalled-for, than to confine the operation of the measure to certain towns. With the means of locomotion now enjoyed, it would be a most fatal mistake to have a sharp line drawn just outside a large town, beyond which liquor might be sold and within which it could not be sold. By a limitation of that kind, what would they do? Every person who, knowing that he had a day of rest before him, went out into the country for purposes of recreation would be exposed, as he approached the town on his return, to the temptation to have a good drink before he got back. He thought that that drawing of a line within which a certain thing might not be done, but outside which it might be done, would be most dangerous. Furthermore, it would tend to an undue accumulation of public-houses around all the large towns and cities just outside the area of restriction, instead of pro- 1771 viding that, as the public went outside the town into the suburbs, they should meet with fewer and fewer temptations of the kind. In Scotland it had been proved conclusively that the indiscriminate granting of licences to all persons who applied for them, invariably led to au increase of consumption; whereas, on the other hand, the restriction of the number of places in which liquor might be sold, always had the effect of reducing the consumption. Nor must it be forgotten, in that connection, what a long string of public-houses on the way home meant to a man. He went into one, and if he were not exposed to any further temptation, it was all very well; but if, after the exercise of the virtue of self-denial, he was induced to pass three or four, there might still remain a fifth, and, turning another corner, he would be undoubtedly exposed to a new temptation. Therefore, he thought there was something they could do, with a view of preventing drunkenness, short of this absolute prohibition of which he believed the House would strenuously disapprove—[Sir WILFRID LAWSON: Oh, no!]—it was certainly his belief. He had at first considerable doubt as to the course which he should take on the Bill; but after hearing what had been urged against it, lie had come to the conclusion that he should vote for the second reading. Ito believed the Bill would be, on the whole, beneficial in its effects if it were properly worked out in Committee, and he might say of the greatest possible benefit to the community. The question of the hours at which public-houses might be open was one not so much relating to the general principle as to the special circumstances of the localities. If it were true, as he believed the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had shown, that there was a vast and apparently increasing evil in consequence of the present hours of closing on Saturday nights—[Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR: No figures.]—then he thought that restrictive rules might well be applied, and that some reasonable change might well be made. They had taken a step last year with reference to Scotland which could not be otherwise than beneficial—namely, to close public-houses in some places at 10 o'clock. He should vote for the second reading of the Bill, and he hoped 1772 that in Committee it would be carefully considered whether the hour proposed for closing was not rather too strong a step to be taken at once. He doubted whether it was not unreasonably early, and he thought that, as in the case of the Early Closing Act for Scotland passed last year, the exigencies and requirements of each case should be left to the magistrates to decide.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
said, the political course of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) was so distasteful to him that he would excuse him for saying that he could have wished this Bill had been in the hands of another sponsor. That, however, would not deter him from supporting, the measure by following the hon. Member into the Lobby. He understood that some of those with whom he usually acted did not intend to follow that course, and he wished, therefore, to say a few words as to why he differed from them. He understood the objections of those hon. Gentlemen were not to the measure itself, but that their view was that, whether it was good or bad, they were disposed to wait until a Home Rule Parliament could settle the question. Having himself a very strong hope that Home Rule was in the near future, there was a great deal to be said in favour of that view; but there was one thing which to his mind was conclusive against the argument. It was said that this matter ought to be decided by the Irish people. But he did not quite understand the logic of that position. His hon. Friends, day by day and week by week, were introducing measures dealing with all kinds of topics, social and political, covering the whole field of social life. They were asking the consent of the House of Commons, so that they might be passed into law; and, that being so, he had some difficulty, as he had said, of seeing the logical force of saying that this, of all other conceivable topics, was to be excluded from the jurisdiction of the House. But there was another position which could be fairly taken up on this matter, and which would appeal to him with far greater force. He had heard some of his hon. Friends say—and if what he read in the newspapers were true, the view was taken by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell)—that this question of closing public-houses 1773 was of so angering and embittering a nature that it was inexpedient to raise it at the present time because of the effect it would have on the Party to which he belonged, and destroy amongst them the union which then existed. That, of course, was an argument which could not but have weight with the Members of the Irish Party, and he confessed that it had considerable weight with himself; on that view he proclaimed himself absolutely in accord with his Leader. He said it was a wrong step to take now; but the responsibility lay on the shoulders of the publicans, and not with the supporters of the Bill. He felt on the question of temperance as strongly as any Member of the House; but, notwithstanding that he felt that some legislation was required, he had suppressed his own views in the interests of the Party to which he belonged. If the understanding arrived at between the Members of the Party generally had been observed, he, for one, would not have been heard raising his voice in favour of the Bill. But that had not been the case. The truce had been deliberately broken last year by the publicans, who had themselves raised the whole liquor question. No one had attacked them or introduced any measure which could have done them any harm; but, notwithstanding that, they invited the House to appoint a Select Committee to consider the Sunday Closing Question; having done that, they could not expect those who thought differently from themselves to restrict the discussion to any particular point, and must be prepared for the discussion of the whole matter. With regard to the merits of the Bill, he said, with all seriousness and solemnity, as well as with the strongest sense of responsibility, that the question of Saturday Closing in Ireland was practically a non-contentious question. There was in Ireland no difference of opinion on the subject. There was on one side the publicans only, and on the other the whole of the rest of the population. It was natural that publicans should object to a measure of this kind, and he did not blame them for doing their best to thwart legislation of this kind; but what they must understand was that they had no backing of public opinion behind them. He had himself been conducting a little agitation in the City 1774 of Cork within the last few months, and he felt it his duty to do that in consequence of the line which the publicans and their friends were taking. It seemed to him that it would be a bad thing for them to have all the talking on their side; and as they had passed resolutions in Ireland, it seemed right to him to show that everyone did not agree in the views expressed. As a preliminary to public action on the matter, he took some steps towards getting a requisition signed in the City of Cork for the purpose of calling on the Mayor to summon a public meeting of the citizens on the question. It had been asserted that this was a packed meeting, but he said it was nothing of the kind. It was, no doubt, called in support of Sunday Closing, but it was absolutely free. They were not, of course, going to call a meeting which would end in a row and other disturbance. Meetings of the kind were for the public discussion on certain matters, and those who differed in their views should call their own meetings. The meeting was, therefore, called to consider the question of Saturday and Sunday Closing. Five-sixths of the clergymen of Cork signed the requisition, which was a very striking circumstance, because it was only to be signed by persons in favour of Saturday Night and Sunday Closing, and he believed no one would contradict him when he said that upon this question the opinion of the Protestant clergy did not differ from that of the Catholic clergy. The meeting which they held was at the largest hall that could he got for the purpose in the City of Cork; there was a large and influential platform, and the body of the hall was filled, not with the upper classes, but with the working men of the City, and it was on behalf of the latter that he claimed to speak.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
said, it was estimated that the hall would contain 1,200 persons, and there were 1,000 working men present. He had not seen a better attended meeting. Now, the publicans had been circulating a document setting forth their reasons why Irish Members should vote against this Bill, and they would excuse him for saying that the document was not by any means compiled in a candid manner. He would only deal with that statement 1775 in it which related to matters within his own knowledge—namely, that which affected the City of Cork. It was said that the Mayors of Cork and other places were of opinion that this question was to be settled, not by direct but by indirect legislation, dealing with the improvement of the condition of the working classes. But, so far from that being the case, the Mayor of Cork came over to London, and before a Committee of that House declared himself strongly in favour of direct legislation; and not only there, but in Cork, in the Corporation over which he presided, he had over and over again, in public and in private, declared himself in favour of Saturday Night Closing. He (Mr. Maurice Healy), therefore, found it difficult to understand why a document should be circulated which might induce that House to think that public functionaries like the Mayor of Cork were opposed to this measure. There was also a statement in the document referred to in reference to the Corporation of Cork. The publicans there said that the Corporation had passed a resolution against Saturday Night Closing. He denied that they had done so. They had done nothing of the kind; and there was no resolution on the books of the Corporation dealing with the question at all. The Corporation had passed an illegal resolution on Sunday Closing, in consequence of which he waited on them with a deputation, and asked on the part of the citizens of Cork to rescind that illegal resolution. They called a meeting, at which the whole question of Saturday and Sunday closing was raised and considered, and the majority of the Corporation of Cork voted in favour of that principle; but, notwithstanding that, the publicans had the audacity to circulate the statement that they had voted against it. He thought that a cause which was supported by a statement of that kind could not be a very strong one, and he recommended the gentlemen who drew up that document to be a little more cautious in future as to what they put forward. But he asked the House to consider what was done. The Corporation of Cork passed an illegal resolution dealing with the question of closing, and the publicans provided that every newspaper in Cork should insert it as if the Corporation 1776 had decided against Saturday closing. These were the tactics by which it was sought to show that the feelings of the people of Ireland generally were opposed to the principle. He had gone about a good deal in the City of Cork, he had talked with all sorts and conditions of men in that city, and he could say that the difficulty was to find anybody who was against Saturday night closing. His hon. Friend the Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) had not been in Cork lately; but in answer to him he might say that the Trades had not officially pronounced on the question. The President of the Trades, however, had given notice of a motion in favour of this proposal of Saturday night closing; and, therefore, he repeated that the difficulty was to find anyone in the City of Cork who was against Saturday night closing, except it were someone directly or indirectly interested in the trade. He ventured to differ from the opinion which had been expressed by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, because he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not gone far enough. This Bill was restricted to 19 towns in Ireland. He quite admitted that in those towns the want of Saturday closing was most felt; but his own opinion, and that of most people in Ireland, was that this measure, which was a beneficial one, ought not to be restricted to them. For his (Mr. Maurice Healy's) own part, he was in favour of the principle of the Bill being extended throughout the country. He had taken some trouble to ascertain the feelings of persons in Ireland upon the subject, and he had been struck with the statement made by a reverend father that no measure would be of use that did not close public-houses at 8 o'clock. What was the case now? Publicans generally had their premises open every day from 7 o'clock in the morning until 11 o'clock at night, or for 16 hours a-day. For six days a-week a publican had his house open for no less than 96 hours, and he pointed out that no trader of any sort or description had his shop open for two-thirds of that time. All the Bill asked was that two hours only should be taken from that number of hours—although his demand would have been that three hours should be 1777 taken. That was a proposal which certainly ought not to fill the publicans with apprehension. It was a fact well known to all who had studied the question that there was ten times more intemperance going on from 7 o'clock to 11 o'clock than, he might say, during all the rest of the week. It was not for the purpose of legitimate trade that these four hours were wanted. It was ridiculous to suggest that anything in the shape of the legitimate sale of drink could not be carried on in the time which the Bill would leave untouched; it was idle to suggest that persons who wanted drink for legitimate purposes, and not for the purposes of debauch, could not get what they wanted before 8 o'clock in the evening. He declined to argue this question as one of statistics, and he believed that if the figures given were examined they would be found to be on the side which he represented. The value of statistics as to the number of arrests for drunkenness depended entirly on whether the activity of the police was a constant quantity, and in Ireland it was well known that that was not the case. For the last few years, unfortunately, the police in Ireland had had something else to do than arrest people for drunkenness; and, moreover, he declined to admit that arrests for drunkenness were any indication of the amount of drinking going on. They wanted to put an end not merely to drunkenness, but to wasteful drinking, by preventing working men from spending in the public-houses the wages which ought to go to their wives and families. An enormous amount of drunkenness went on with which the police could not in any way interfere, and therefore he declined to take the number of arrests into the question. The test in this matter was to walk the streets of Cork or any other great city on Saturday night, to hear the blasphemies resounding on all sides, and to see the working man's wife waiting at the public-house door to try to induce her unfortunate husband to come out before he had spent his last penny. He had heard a magistrate say that such was the state of things that the wives of working men had to wait until the public-houses were closed at 11 to buy the provisions necessary for Sunday, and that for that reason the provision shops 1778 were kept open considerably later than the public-houses. Everyone knew that, and also that the pawn shops were kept open longer to enable the people to take out their Sunday clothing, which could not be done until the men had been turned out of the public-houses at the last minute. He could only repeat that he should cordially co-operate with the hon. Member for South Tyrone, or anybody else, no matter what might be his political views, in the endeavour to obtain from that House a measure that tended to put an end to this condition of things.
§ MR. MAHONY (Meath, N.)
said, he had great difficulty in making up his mind on this question. He saw great force in the argument that this Resolution should come from an Irish Parliament, and he had no doubt whatever that it would in that case have greater strength and efficiency. But he found himself face to face with the question—Will this measure, if passed, do any good at all? Would it save any unfortunate men from some of the evils from which they suffered? He could not deny that he believed it would do some good, and therefore, although he perfectly understood the position of some of his Colleagues who could not vote for the measure, notwithstanding that they were favourable to its principle, he could not accept the responsibility of voting against the Bill. But there was one point in connection with the subject advanced by the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Bill which he could not allow to pass unnoticed, and that was the way in which he had adverted to the argument that this legislation ought to be reserved for an Irish Parliament. The hon. Member put before the House, very properly, the great importance of this legislation as affecting the interests of the working men of Ireland. But he wanted to call attention to the action of the hon. Member a year ago at the Burnley Election. The hon. Member was well known among the advocates of temperance in Burnley; but when he went down there, did he support the temperance advocates? He asked and implored the temperance people to vote against the temperance candidate, and that had been his action at other Elections in this country.
§ MR. MAHONY
said, he intended to vote for the Bill, because he believed that although it would not do anything like the amount of good which it would do if it came from an Irish Parliament, it would effect some little good for the people in Ireland.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
said, he desired to take exactly the opposite course to that which his hon. Friend was about to follow. He believed, and he said it with a full sense of responsibility, that every effort of legislation made in that House against the wish or over the heads of the people of Ireland at the present time, was an indication to them of a motive for making common cause with the publicans. Every move in that direction was really against the aims of those who had the best interests of the cause of temperance at heart. He knew that those Gentlemen who treated this matter from what he must call the ferocious advocacy standpoint, would not concede that men who voted against such measures would at all wish to see the working men sober or cared for. He believed there were in that House men who wished to see themselves and others kept within the bounds of sobriety, and there were many men who, although themselves abstainers, did not believe in this sort of coercive legislation. The result of this legislation would be, that while the working men were allowed to be employed till very late hours, the provision shops would practically be closed against them, because it must be remembered that the men who sold drink also sold bread, flour, and other necessaries. It was a bad arrangement, no doubt, but it produced a state of things which it was necessary to face. They would have men's wives going to these licensed houses to buy provisions, and then the police would be coming down upon the owner, especially if he were a Nationalist. If the House knew how those things were worked by the police, he did not believe there was a Member of the House who would vote for the Bill. Ho would be one of the first to vote for the measure in an Irish Parliament; but he had seen how the Sunday Closing Bill was allowed to work. The man who was in any way 1780 in the confidence of the Executive was allowed to do a roaring trade on Sundays; the police might see hundreds of men drinking in his shop, but he would never be prosecuted. But it was only the other day that the Local Government Board, at the head of which was the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, refused to appoint a man to the position of clerk in a Union because there had been a record against him as publican many years previously; and there were some 15 men now in Kerry deprived of their living, merely because they were members of the National League, by the local magistrates for political motives refusing them licences. He should not have any hesitation in voting against the Bill; as he believed the Act would be worked to the detriment of honest men pursuing a legitimate trade, he did did not think he need apologize for the vote he was about to give, and he hoped, therefore, that the House would reject the Bill. Until the matter was dealt with by an Irish Parliament, he thought that they should try to provide the people with some recreation which would be an inducement to them to stay away from public-houses, and then he, who was now greatly opposed to this measure, would be as strongly in favour of it as the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) and the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy).
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, they were asked to agree to the second reading of a measure which did not meet the views of a single Member of the House. He thought they were entitled to some explanation as to why the Bill was in this particular form. One reason for that was no doubt that the advocates of restrictive measures wore not at all at one on the nature of the restriction they required; and, although the hon. Member for South Tyrone had mentioned the names of several different Bodies, as far as he knew he had not mentioned one that advocated the exact restrictions imposed by the Bill. In opposing the second reading of the Bill he was entirely in favour of strictly regulating the sale of intoxicating drinks. He did not intend to refer in detail to the evidence put before the House by the Sunday Closing Committee, but he thought he was entitled to say that it had strongly impressed on his mind the belief that a great deal more might be done 1781 to promote sobriety by carefully framed regulations strictly enforced than by a system of repression. His complaint was that a Bill framed as this was should, so to speak, be thrown at their heads, and that they were then to be told that it was not the Bill that was wanted, that it was in a crude state, and that it was to be sent to a Committee appointed for a different purpose to be moulded into something useful. As a Member of the Committee referred to, he had no right to object to any work put upon it; but he feared that if the committee had to go into all the evidence on this subject, in addition to that already before them, it would be impossible for them to report this Session. If any change in the scope of the Committee were made, he could not help expressing a hope, after the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would become a Member of the Committee.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said, he was not prepared to justify nor was he concerned with the consistency of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) in using the argument he had against the claims of Irish Members at the General Election. The hon. Member for North Cork (Mr. Flynn), who addressed the I Louse a short time ago, had said that hon. Members who voted for the second reading of the Bill must be prepared to accept responsibility for all the Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cocker-mouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) in connection with the Local Government Bill. He was prepared to accept his share of that responsibility by voting for the second reading of the Bill. The hon. Member also, in his closing remarks, challenged them to say that the principle of the Bill if accepted, by the House and carried out would be to the interest of the working classes. It was precisely because he believed that a limitation of the hours for the consumption of drink on licensed premises would benefit the classes in question that he rose to support the second reading. The ridiculous statement put forward on platforms, and in the House of Commons, was to the effect that the working men were only to be benefited so long as they had easy 1782 access to the beer barrel or the whisky cask. He had seen it, too, stated in newspapers that if the working men drank less their wages would be less, but as a Representative of the working men he gave a flat and direct denial to the statement. It might not be in the knowledge of hon. Members that the estimated amount of money spent on drink was equal to 27 per cent on the wages earned by the wage-earning classes. Therefore he held that a restriction of the hours during which drink could be sold was most desirable, and that it was a most absurd statement to make that the working classes would not be benefited by this measure. The hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor). who moved the rejection of the Bill, spoke at considerable length on what he was pleased to term the legitimate sale of drink; but throughout his whole statement he was careful not to state what he considered to be the legitimate sale or trade in drink. Surely if there was such legitimate trade it could be confined within reasonable hours, and he held that the number of hours during which drink was now sold were anything but legitimate. The State had already protected young persons and women engaged in dangerous operations in factories and workshops; it had interfered to limit the hours of work to 56 in the week, but they had it stated—and it was well known—that barmen and barmaids were engaged in the sale of strong drink for 96 hours a-week, and in some cases for 108 and even 123 hours. He was perfectly correct in stating that the worst cases which came into the hospitals, especially in London, were those of the unfortunate persons who were engaged in the sale of drink for 16 and 18 hours a-day; and it was because he believed that the passing of this Bill would be of untold advantage to the working classes, and especially to those immediately engaged in the sale of drink, that he had no hesitation in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. If the provisions of the Bill could be secured for the people of Ireland, he hoped they might regard it as an indication of the desire to extend them to the rest of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
said, the hon. Member who had just spoken seemed to think that the average of 1783 working men spent money on drink which should go in support of their families. He quite agreed with him in that argument; but, on the other hand, he thought there was the danger that if drink were taken away from them, the money which now went in drink would go to the employers. He believed it was admitted by political economists of all classes that it was the interest of capitalists to keep the working classes on as low a mode of living as possible, and that being so, he believed the working classes would not in the end find that they were, so far as wages went, benefited by the measure. Many observations had been made by the advocates of the Bill to the effect that nobody in Ireland was against the Bill but the publicans, and he believed, so far as its object was concerned, every man, woman, and child in Ireland would be in favour of it; but while there was a very strong feeling in Ireland against excessive drinking, there was also an equal, if not much stronger, feeling against rash legislation of this kind, and certainly there was a most widespread objection against giving further powers to the police to interfere with their wants. He did not know that he had ever been more divided in opinion on any measure than he was upon this. But the argument of the hon. and learned Member for West Kerry (Mr. Edward Harrington) with regard to the way in which the police used their powers had made a strong impression upon him, and on that ground he regretted to say that he should lie compelled to vote against the Bill. He would ask his hon. Friends, however, why it was that they had begun their work at the bottom of the scale instead of at the top? It seemed to him rather strange that the advocates of temperance should not turn their attention to the suppression of the manufacture of strong drink by putting such an amount of taxation upon it as would have been in the nature of a prohibition. They seemed to take that part of the matter very easily, and the Government themselves dealt very lightly with the great drink manufacturers. After all that had been said and done with respect to public-houses, the Government got the larger portion of the profit, and allowed what was going on in them for the sake of the Revenue; and then to turn round upon the poor 1784 working man as well as the publican, was, he maintained, going the wrong way to work. He asked how it was that the majority in the country invariably supported the drinking system in this way. The reason was, no doubt, that they would interfere with the Revenue.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Has the discourse of the hon. Member, Mr. Deputy Speaker, anything to do with the Bill before the House?
§ MR. HARRIS
That was because it was a very large subject. He recognized in the interruption only another instance of the intemperance of the temperance advocates. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) would, of course, say that a large amount of money had to ho made up; but he believed that if the injustice of that revenue were explained to the people, and the reasons why the aristocracy of the country supported the present system, this very long discussion would have been saved. It would have been settled that for the purpose of Revenue, land and capital should be properly taxed, and then the benefit of the drink taxes would have really been handed over to the working classes. It was a principle of political economy that labour should not be taxed at all, and it was, in his opinion, a great injustice to put a tax in any shape or form upon the wages of working men. Another principle was that consumption should not be taxed, and, therefore, looking at the present question, he said that the tax on drink was on the one hand opposed to Free Trade, and on the other that it was a taxation of labour. For these reasons he should vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
I wish, before the Division is taken upon this Bill, to have the opportunity of saying a few words to explain my personal position, and also the course I intend to take. I say my own personal position, because I am only speaking for myself, and I do not, in any way, represent the views of any of my hon. Friends, who will vote according to their own views and judgment. I suppose I may assume that at this time all Members of the House, and Members on both sides of 1785 this question, desire to increase temperance among the people, and that they desire to promote and support well-considered measures towards increasing sobriety and temperate habits among all classes of the people. That, at all events, is my strong desire. I think I came into Parliament as a supporter of Sunday Closing originally. I have watched the different phases of the Parliamentary struggle on this question, both in England and Ireland, for 10 or 12 years, with the utmost interest. I at first used to take part in this struggle. I voted, I think, at its first introduction, in favour of the Irish Sunday Closing Bill. But I came to the conclusion, after a time, that the true interests of temperance were not likely to be served by the way in which that measure was accustomed to be brought forward; that it was attended with greater evils than those which it sought to cure, and that the effect of the Sunday Closing Act of Parliament of 1874 was not such as would be likely to increase the desire of the people of Ireland for temperance, or to force them to adopt temperate habits. I am still most desirous that there should be greater temperance, greater abstinence from drinking. I believe it is a very great evil. I am, with, perhaps, a single exception, the largest employer of labour among the Irish Members of all Parties, and it has been brought constantly to my notice that the question of intemperance is undoubtedly a very great impediment to the progress of the industries of Ireland, and to the success of manufacturing and other operations, as well as to the welfare and well-being of the people; but I am firmly convinced that the measures proceeding from the House for the promotion of temperance will not have any chance of fair play in Ireland; that the backs of the people would be put up against them in advance; that there will be defects in the administration which will largely increase that disposition, and largely nullify the good intention of the Legislature in passing such measures; and that the result, so far as the spreading of temperance is concerned, will be disappointing to those advocates of temperance who have so conspicuously proved their good faith and their earnestness in their constant advocacy of temperance in both this country and Ireland. Believing this to 1786 be so, and also considering that the question of temperance is a matter of grave moment in Ireland, though not graver than in England or Scotland—because I cannot admit for a single moment that the Irish are a less temperate people than the English or the Scotch—I will not draw any comparison, because comparisons are always odious, but certainly the balance is not against us, and may be in our favour—I cannot see that any good is likely to result from the passage of this Early Closing Bill at the present moment. What would be the advantage of the measure? Delay is what I should advise—postponement, but not abandonment. Your Local Government Bill for England proposes to assign the question of Sunday Closing to the Local Authorities, and also assigns other extensive powers under the Licensing Act with reference to the closing of public-houses, compensation to their owners, and so forth. The Government and the Conservative Party, in their programme at the General Election, announced that they were in favour of Local Government for Ireland and England; and at the commencement of this Session it was announced from the Front Government Bench, with all the weight and authority of a Cabinet decision, that Local Government for Ireland should go, as far as possible, pari passu with Local Government for England. There has been some change, unfortunately, in the councils of the Government in that respect since then, and they now say the matter must be postponed. How long we do not know; but what I would suggest is that, as you are going to have a Local Government Bill for Ireland, you should wait until you are in a position to pass it, and that then you should assign to the Bodies constituted the same powers with reference to this question that you now propose to give in the English case, or that experience in it meanwhile in England may induce you to give to them hereafter. If you insist upon passing a measure of this kind now, it will be exceptional treatment as regards Ireland. You not being the Representatives of Ireland, but the great majority being Representatives of England, Scotland, and Wales, will interfere with the decision and direction of the question which you have expressly handed over to the charge of 1787 Local Bodies in the case of England, because I presume you do not consider Parliament is the best authority to deal with it in regard to England. When your position is so much less advantageous in the ease of Ireland, why should you persist in dealing with it? I care not what system you leave the superintendence, arrangement, and direction of this question to in the future—whether to County Boards or to the larger system of autonomy proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). In the hands of either such Bodies and any such system, the question is safe. I believe that Irishmen acting at home, discussing this question amongst themselves, free from your interference, will decide this question much more advantageously and much more suitably and justly than you can ever hope to decide it here, and their decision will be attended with much better and happier results for the people. The question is that is most intimately connected with the subject of local self-government. It is most exactly suited for the superintendence of local Bodies, which I hope you propose to set up in Ireland. By your own admission it is not suited for Parliament in the case of England. Much more so, I contend, is it unsuited for this Parliament in the case of Ireland. If you pass this Bill you will grievously hamper the efforts of social reformers in Ireland, and you will strike a blow against them, you will prejudice the section of the Irish people—that greater section of the Irish people who desire to see large legislation—in all probability, legislation going beyond the limits of this Bill—you will take away from the strength of the great section of the Irish people, and increase the strength of the smaller section representing the spirit trade in Ireland, who offer resistance to the passing of this measure. I believe, conscientiously and from the bottom of my heart, that no greater blow could be dealt to temperance in Ireland than the passage of such a measure as this; and I am convinced, also, that the working of the Sunday Closing Act has not been so successful as people imagined. It has not diminished drunkenness as it ought to have diminished it. It has not increased temperance, and I believe that since its passage there is less disposition 1788 on the part of the Irish people in favour of temperance, less public enthusiasm for temperance and temperance principles, than there was before the measure was passed; and, therefore, because I am a temperance man, and because I believe as strongly as the hon. Member who introduced the Bill that one of our great works in the future must be to make the Irish people more sober than they are, to make them co-operate with their governors—that is a matter of most vital importance—and their lawgivers on this question, I am convinced that only in this way can you secure your object to spread temperance among the people by voluntary action among themselves and by their own Representatives. For these reasons, I must decline to take the responsibility on the present occasion of voting for the measure.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down commenced his speech by telling us that he spoke not for his Party but for himself. Perhaps he will allow me to imitate him, and explain that the position which I now intend to take on this question is my own, and that I do not commit any of my friends to the views I lay before the House. I have listened to the debate with great interest. It has been marked by several speeches of considerable ability and great eloquence. These speeches have not all been on the same side, although I am bound to say that the palm, on the whole, lay with the advocates of the measure. It has been stated that wages would be reduced if they were not spent on drink, and that the greedy employer would be the only person to benefit. This singular travesty of the doctrines of political economy surprised me not a little.
§ MR. HARRIS
If the right hon. Gentleman had been John Stuart Mill, he would not have been surprised at some of my arguments.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not in the least wish to enter into any rivalry with the hon. Member as to the principles of John Stuart Mill, or any other distinguished political economist, of whom I have heard for the first time to-day the hon. Member is a devoted creased temperance, and I believe that student. The hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. E. Harrington) advocated in a far 1789 less plausible form what I took to be the main contention of the hon. Member who has just sat down. He was of opinion that if this Bill were passed by this Parliament, the working men of Ireland would insist upon getting drunk.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
I never said that. The right hon. Gentleman must be dreaming about my speech. There was nothing that could be taken as even approaching to the right. hon. Gentleman's statement.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As to the exact purport of the hon. Member's observations, my friends near me assure me that they took them in the same sense as I did; but I have no desire to misrepresent him, and if he says I was mistaken I will withdraw the observation.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
I stated a case where the Local Government Board, of which he is the head, refused the section of a Nationalist's appointment merely because his licence was endorsed. As the law was used by the police for the prosecution of Nationalists, I said I could not give them any further instrument of coercion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
One moral, I think, may be drawn from the controversy on this question to-day, and that is the extreme difficulty of collecting from Irish Members what really is the state of Irish public opinion. I constantly have it thrown in my teeth that I disregard in this or in that particular the "undoubted desire of the Irish people;" but we have heard the Representatives of Ireland give entirely different versions of what is the "undoubted wish of the Irish people." There is not merely a difference of opinion between Irish Representatives; that is perfectly natural and legitimate; but each side has asserted on its behalf that it had behind it practically the undivided opinion of the Irish people. That being so, it illustrates what I have all along said—namely, that it is by no means easy, by a mere survey and consideration of speeches delivered in this House, to determine what is or what is not the unbiassed wish of any section of the Irish people.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I never mentioned the hon. Member's name. Another point which I think deserves attention, is the most remarkable statement which fell from the hon. and learned Member for Cork City (Mr. Maurice Healy). He made a most eloquent, impressive, and interesting speech in favour of this Bill, and he warned some of his Friends sitting near him not to vote against their convictions by opposing this Bill on account of the fact that it was brought forward in Parliament of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member, when he made that statement, knew, I presume, what he was talking about. He had reason for believing that there were some of his Friends who desired to see the object of this Bill effected, but who, because it was a Bill brought before the united Parliament, and would be carried by a united Parliament, would be prepared to vote against it. I think, again, that that is a fact which ought not to be lost sight of by those who try to ascertain the precise value of the opinions of the Representatives of Ireland given in this House. I do not say that the procedure is not legitimate, and I am not complaining of it. It may be perfectly legitimate, from their point of view, to vote against measures which, under other circumstances, they would approve of; but it would qualify very materially the estimate which we should form of the opinions so expressed. I ask the House to take note of it, and to bear it in mind, when the unanimous opinion of two-thirds of the people of Ireland is cast in their teeth. It cannot, I think, be doubted that the evil which the hon. Member who introduced the Bill desires to redress by this Bill is a very great evil. Nobody who listened to his speech, or who is acquainted with the condition of those towns where large sums are paid away every Saturday afternoon in weekly wages, can deny that a vast amount of money is spent in the most lamentable way before the Saturday evening has closed. The evil to be dealt with is undoubted, and no one will deny that if it can be redressed without 1791 creating greater evils we ought to take the work in hand. I confess I have always entered into the controversies on the drink question with a very cautious and doubtful spirit. I am one of those who greatly distrust any effort made by the Legislature to forcibly make the population—or any portion of the population—more moral. I think we ought to approach this, and any proposal of a similar character, not with our eves constantly closed against the truth, but in an extremely critical spirit; and I think we ought to have all the facts on which a judgment can be based very fully before our minds before we come to any final decision on this question. I, perhaps, take a stronger view than many hon. Members upon two or three questions which are closely connected with the controversy at issue. I hold that it is a perfectly legitimate thing for the working men of this country to desire to take a fair proportion of alcoholic drink. No one denies that privilege to the upper classes, and I cannot see why it should be denied to the working classes. While I regard the desire for drink as a perfectly legitimate desire, and that it is perfectly ridiculous to try to crush it out, I also regard the liquor traffic as legitimate. I decline to stamp with any special mark of infamy or disgrace the body of men engaged in this traffic—a traffic which always exists in every community allowed free play in this matter. I also think it absurd to legislate on this question against the manifest desire of the majority of the people. You must carry with you the moral sense of the people whom you seek to reform before you try to reform them; and I further feel that before any restrictive legislation is adopted, very full inquiry should be instituted, and very full knowledge obtained before this House commits itself to deal with this matter. Under these circumstances, I should not have voted for the second reading of this Bill in the present state of my own knowlege of the subject if it were not that I understood that the hon. Member who introduced the measure desires that after the second reading is passed the Bill should he referred to a Select Committee. There is, as the House is aware, a Select Committee sitting at this moment on the Sunday Closing Question, and I understand from Gentlemen on that Committee that a very 1792 large amount of evidence has been given on the collateral and closely cognate subject of Saturday closing. I think it would be a great misfortune if the evidence thus collected should be rendered wholly useless when it could be used for the purpose of coming to some kind of opinion upon the merits of the Bill now before us. I desire to see the scope of the inquiry of that Committee extended so as to include Saturday closing, and the Committee empowered to take evidence with the view of considering Saturday closing, not as connected with the Sunday Closing Question, but on its own merits. If that object is carried out, and this House does consent to refer this Bill to the Select Committee, I believe that the results of the labour of that Committee will be to give us in no considerable time a vast amount of useful information upon the subject, which will really enable us to do that which—in the face of the conflicting testimony given from the various parts of the House by different Irish Representatives—we are unable to do at present—namely, to give a definite opinion founded upon evidence, the value of which we can test. I hope, therefore, that the House will not refuse to grant the second reading, on the understanding which I have stated. I think that we should wait for the evidence which the Committee may collect before we gave a final decision upon one of the most difficult social questions which the House can have to decide.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he had only a few words to add. The hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), in his weighty speech, had practically pleaded for delay; did not understand the speech delivered by the hon. Member to be a speech against the Bill. On behalf of those who were supporting the Bill, he could not take the responsibility of further delay in the matter. Whilst they were delaying. men, women, and children were dying and being destroyed, and he could not possibly consent to have any further delay in the matter. The hon. Member for Cork further declared that he did not believe the Bill would achieve the results that were aimed at. He would put against the hon. Member's opinion, not his own opinion, but an opinion which the hon. Gentleman was perfectly certain to respect very highly—it was 1793 the opinion of the hon. Gentleman's own constituents. At the meeting referred to by the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy), which was presided over by one of the warmest supporters of the hon. Member (Mr. Parnell)—namely, the Mayor of Cork, and addressed by many clergymen, strong advocates of the political views of the hon. Gentleman, this resolution was passed—That we are convinced that enormous benefit would result from the closing of public-houses at 7 o'clock on Saturday evening.
§ That resolution was moved by the Rev. Canon O'Mahony; and he (Mr. T. W. Russell) had no doubt the hon. Member for Cork would recognize in that rev. gentleman one of those who was decidedly competent to express an opinion on this question. They had the hon. Member for Cork with his fears, and they had his own constituents passing this resolution. [Mr. J. O'CONNOR: No, no!] The meeting was composed of the constituents of the hon. Member for Cork. [Mr. J. O'CONNOR: Only a section.] Well, suppose he said a section of them. At all events, the meeting was presided over by the Mayor of Cork, an ardent supporter of the hon. Member for Cork; and the resolution he had read was moved by another strong supporter of the hon. Gentleman. As he (Mr. T. W. Russell) had said, he could not possibly take the responsibility of delay. He did not know when they were to have a Local Government Bill for Ireland. The sooner it came the better he would be pleased, but that was an entirely different thing. He could not act upon any assumption. He said he did not know when that Bill might come; but he knew that so far as the Local Government Bill now before the House was concerned, it gave no power to the Local Authorities to deal with the hours during which public-houses shall be open on week-days. He could not wait for a Local Government Bill, much less could he wait for an Irish Parliament; and he begged now to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 195; Noes 97: Majority 98.—(Div. List, No. 100.)1794
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 178; Noes 102: Majority 76.
|Acland, A. H. D.||Firth, J. F. B.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Asher, A.||Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Austin, J.||Fry, L.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Fry, T.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Godson, A. F.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Baring, T. C.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Barry, A. H. Smith-||Graham, R. C.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Hamilton, Lord E.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Hankey, F. A.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Bickford-Smith, W.||Heneage, right hon. E.|
|Biggar, J. G.|
|Bolton, T. D.||Hingley, B.|
|Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.||Hoare, E. B.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Houldsworth,Sir W. H.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Hoyle, I.|
|Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Bryce, J.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Jacoby, J. A.|
|Burt, T.||James, hon. W. H.|
|Caldwell, J.||Joicey, J.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Childers, rt. hon. H. C. E.||Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Leighton, S.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Lewis, Sir C. E.|
|Coghill, D. H.||Lewis, T. P.|
|Collings, J.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Colman, J. J.||Lubbock, Sir J.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.||Lyell, L.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.|
|Corbett, A. C.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||MacInnes, M.|
|Cossham, H.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Maclean, F. W.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Craig, J.||M'Arthur, W. A.|
|Craven, J.||M'Calmont, Captain J.|
|Crawford, W.||M'Donald, Dr. R.|
|Currie, Sir D.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||M'Lagan, P.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Madden, D. H.|
|Dixon, G.||Mahony, P.|
|Duff, R. W.||Makins, Colonel W. T.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.||Montagu, S.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Morgan, right hon. G. O.|
|Elliot, hon. H. F. H.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Esslemont, P.||Morrison, W.|
|Ewart, Sir W.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Mundella, right hon. A. J.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-||Neville, R.|
|O'Connor, A.||Stokes, G. G.|
|O'Neill, hon. R. T.||Summers, W.|
|Parker, C. S.||Sutherland, A.|
|Pease, A. E.||Swetenham, E.|
|Pease, H. F.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Pickard, B.||Thomas, A.|
|Picton, J. A.||Thomas, D. A.|
|Plunket, right hon. D. R.||Thorburn, W.|
|Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.|
|Portman, hon. E. B.|
|Powell, W. R. H.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Priestley, B.||Vernon, hon. G. R.|
|Rankin, J.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Rathhone, W.||Waddy, S. D.|
|Reed, H. B.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Reid, R. T.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Richard, H.||Wayman, T.|
|Richardson, T.||Wiggin, H.|
|Roberts, J.||Will, J. S.|
|Roberts, J. B.||Williams, J. Powell-|
|Round, J.||Williamson, S.|
|Rowlands, W. B.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Rowntree, J.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Samuelson, G. B.||Wilson, I.|
|Seton-Karr, H.||Winn, hon. R.|
|Shaw, T.||Woodhead, J.|
|Sidebotham, J. W.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Sidebottom, W.||Wright, C.|
|Simon, Sir J.|
|Sinclair, W. P.||TELLERS.|
|Stanhope, hon. P. J.||Healy, M.|
|Stevenson, J. C.||Russell, T. W.|
|Stewart, M. J.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Fulton, J. F.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Addison, J. E. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Ainslie, W. G.||Gunter, Colonel R.|
|Allsopp, hon. G.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Hanbury. R. W.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Harrington, E.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Harris, M.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Havelock - Allan, Sir H. M.|
|Bective, Earl of|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C||Hayden, L. P.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer||Healy, T. M.|
|Herbert, hon. S.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Boord, T. W.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Brookfield, A. M.||Holloway, G.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Hunt, F. S.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Compton, F.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|Crilly, D.||Kenyon - Slaney, Col. W.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Kilbride, D.|
|Douglas, A. Akers-||Kimber, H.|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.||King, H. S.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Lafone, A.|
|Ellis, J.||Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.||Leahy, J.|
|Followes, A. E.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Field, Admiral E.||Legh, T. W.|
|Finch, G. H.||Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-|
|Fletcher, Sir H.||Lethbridge, Sir R.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Lowther, hon. W.|
|Foley, P. J.||Maclure, J. W.|
|M'Donald, P.||Robinson, B.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Ross, A. H.|
|Mowbray, right hon. Sir J. R.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Muncaster, Lord||Stack, J.|
|Muntz, P. A.||Sullivan, D.|
|Murdoch, C. T.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Nolan, J.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Norris, E. S.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|O'Brien, P. J.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|O'Keeffe, F.||Trotter, Colonel H. J.|
|O'Kelly, J.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Paget, Sir R. H.||Wardle, H.|
|Parker, hon. F.||Whitley, E.|
|Power, R.||Wilson, Sir S.|
|Price, Captain G. E.|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.||Campbell, H.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||O'Connor, J.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.|
§ Main Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Select Committee on the 'Sunday Closing Acts (Ireland).'"
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was characterized by all the vices of this Administration. The right hon. Gentleman had made it appear that the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy) had said that although some Members of the House might be in favour of the principle of certain measures, they would not vote for those measures because they came from this House. There was nothing said upon which that observation could be founded. He (Mr. T. M. Healy) approved of the early closing of public-houses on Saturday night; but he feared that such a measure as this would not be fairly and honestly administered. That was one of the reasons why he hesitated to support the Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). He found that in everything relating to temperance legislation, the Nationalist was oppressed, while the Orangeman and the licensed ex-constable of police was allowed to keep open as long as he pleased. Notwithstanding this, he should have supported the Bill had it not been for the Closure Motion. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had given them another proof that measures such as this, which 1797 were presumbly intended to promote the cause of temperance, were only to be carried in the House of Commons by practically shutting up the voices of Irish public men. If the application of the law was not put into other hands than those of the Resident Magistrates and those interested in the carrying out of the law at Dublin Castle, he should offer the Bill the most strenuous opposition. He had only another observation to make, and that had reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. That speech was full of sarcasm against his (Mr. T. M. Healy's) Colleagues, and he had heard it with the greatest indignation. It was a speech that was thoroughly characteristic of the manner of the right hon. Gentleman, and one which the Irish Members would not forget. He considered that these proceedings, which might have ended well, were certain to terminate in an unfortunate manner.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, he moved the rejection of the measure which had now been read a second time, because he believed Parliament to be incompetent to deal with the question. With regard to this particular Motion, he had to say that the Committee to which it was proposed to refer the Bill was utterly incompetent to give it a fair and impartial consideration. How was that Committee composed? The great majority of the Members of the Committee representing Irish constituencies were in favour of the Bill, and in favour of any drastic legislation respecting the liquor traffic in Ireland. Although he supposed the Bill would be referred to the Committee now sitting upstairs, he had no fear of the result. The figures he had quoted to the House to-day were official figures, and so far he had no reason to complain of the result of the labours of the Committee. Therefore it was that, though he was utterly devoid of any confidence in the capacity, or the competence, or the impartial character of the Committee now sitting upstairs, he did not wish to offer any very determined opposition to the present Motion. They were at present investigating early Saturday night closing in connection with Sunday closing. They were taking evidence upon the point, and he did not think it would matter much if they extended the scope of the investigation of 1798 the question as regarded early Saturday night closing upon its merits, and for that reason, though he must again pronounce his want of confidence in the Committee, he would offer no opposition to referring the Bill to the Committee upstairs.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider the subject matter of the said Bill, and report thereupon.