HC Deb 25 March 1889 vol 334 cc700-1
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

asked the Secretary for the Home Department whether he could state why the Return No. 391, of September, 1888, entitled "Drunkenness on Sunday (Convictions)," for the first time included drunkenness associated with more serious and flagrant crimes, whereas previous Returns of this nature were confined to cases of a simple nature; and whether the discrepancy in the Returns from some of the Welsh counties was to be attributed to a misapprehension on the part of those whose duty it was to supply the information of the questions submitted to them?


It is not correct to say that the Return No. 391 of 1888 includes for the first time cases of drunkenness associated with more serious crimes, whereas previous Returns of this kind were confined to cases of a simple nature. The Return of 1888 included all cases of simple drunkenness, unaccompanied by disorderly conduct. Many of such cases were not included by the majority of the local authorities who made returns in obedience to the orders of the House in former years. The Returns granted annually in many Sessions prior to that of 1888 are, I regret to say, valueless. A reference to that of 1884 shows that it purports to give information as to the number of convictions of persons arrested for drunkenness on Sunday. The request for information addressed to the local authorities was, unfortunately, ambiguous, since it left it doubtful whether cases of simple drunkenness (for which nobody can be arrested) ought to be included, as well as cases in which the delinquents could be and had been arrested. Some local authorities reported (in accordance with the exact terms of the Order of the House) those cases only in which persons were arrested and then proceeded against to conviction, while some included all cases of convictions for drunkenness. In granting the Return for 1888 it was thought well to state clearly the Acts under which Returns were asked for, and by the wording of the address to make it clear that all convictions were to be included, not only in cases where the law allows arrest, but also in those where it does not; also to make the Return include the years 1885, 1886, and 1887. In the case of Wales the total of convictions for Sunday drunkenness for 1885 and 1886 are considerably larger in the return of 1888 than in the Returns made for those years. This is due to the later Return being framed on a wider basis, and invariably including all Returns of convictions for simple drunkenness.

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