HC Deb 26 February 1890 vol 341 cc1309-11

(5.20.) Order for Second Reading, read.

MR. LANE (Cork Co., E.)

Owing to a lamentable event, the death of our beloved Colleague, the late Mr. Biggar, it falls to my lot to introduce this Bill. It is a Bill of two clauses, and proposes a very small alteration in the laws regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors in Ireland. It requires no speech to recommend it to the House, or to explain its provisions, so I content myself with formally moving the Second Reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

(5.21.) MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

I beg to second the Motion for Second Reading, and in doing so would join with hon. Members on the other side in regretting the very sudden loss sustained by the House in the death of one of its Members, who, differing widely from myself in politics, always was on kindly terms with his political opponents, and ready to co-operate with us on matters such as this. I will not occupy the short time we have by any observations. Mr. Biggar asked me to put my name on the Bill, and I did so with the greatest pleasure.

(5.22.) MR. P. McDONALD (Sligo, N.)

In rising to move an Amendment, deferring the Bill for six months, I, in the first place, express my entire concurrence with the expressions that have fallen from the Mover and Seconder in reference to the death of my friend, the late Mr. Biggar. I do not think there is a single Member on this side, and, I think there can be a very few on the other side of the House, who do not agree in expressing regret for the loss of our beloved Colleague. In reference to the Bill, I will only say that I do not think there is any serious intention on the part of its promoters to carry it further than the present stage. I look upon it as merely an anticipation of the Bill of the hon. Member for South Belfast; in fact, a pilot balloon sent up to gauge the current of public opinion on this subject. I can assure the hon. Member that the current of public opinion is not in his favour. I must admit there are a very large number of Gentlemen in the House who will give him their support; but I gather that there are a still larger number entirely opposed to any coercive legislation on this subject. This Bill proposes that licensed traders in Ireland shall close their establishments from nine in the evening until nine the following morning, while their fellow-traders in England are allowed to carry on business during 18 hours out of the 24. I do not see the equity or necessity for such a proposal; and I move that the Bill be read this day six months.

(5.24.) 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. Peter McDonald.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

(5.25.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)

In rising to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, I must also join with those who have preceded me in expressing' regret for the death of our late lamented friend and Colleague Mr. Biggar. As much as Mr. Biggar differed from the hon. Gentlemen opposite on many points, he and I differed on this question now occupying the attention of the House, but I must say in all these differences of opinion my late friend ever bore himself with a kindly, courteous demeanour towards his opponents and with respect for their opinions. I am surprised that the Party with whom my late friend acted should introduce a Bill of this character outside and beyond the scope of that inquiry instituted some few months ago and upon the result of which they base their hopes of legislation for restricting the sale of intoxicating liquors. Yet I must admit that I welcome the introduction of this Bill, because I believe the more drastic the measures proposed, the less chance have they of passing this House. The proposal in the Bill is so unreasonable that it is scarcely necessary to argue against it to secure its rejection by the House. However, if the measure is to be discussed, the Report of the Committee and the evidence taken by that Committee, which is before the House, will materially assist us to a decision.

It being half an hour after Five of the clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Monday, 3rd March.