HC Deb 13 June 1890 vol 345 cc863-946

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, line 17, to leave out sub-section (ii.), in order to insert the words—"(ii-) the sum three hundred and fifty thousand pounds shall he applied in England for the purposes of agricultural, commercial, and technical instruction, as defined in section eight of 'The Technical Instruction Act, 1889', and in Wales either for the said purposes or for the purposes defined in section seventeen of 'The Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889.'"—{Mr. Arthur Acland.)

Question again proposed, "That the-words '(ii.) The sum of three hundred, and fifty thousand pounds shall be applied for such extinction of licences in England' stand part of the Clause."

(4.45.) MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)

Your ruling, Sir, of last Tuesday has virtually made the Debate on this Amendment a Debate on the Second Reading of the objectionable-provision of this particular Bill. As-I have already explained in the-Debate on the Second Reading, I confine my objections to the Bill to the three clauses and three sub-sections which provide for the extinction of licences by purchase. I give the Government full credit for a desire to promote temperance, and only take exception to the very mistaken manner in which they endeavour to carry out their excellent intentions. I will take this opportunity of expressing my regret that the Government have not before bringing in this proposal, taken steps to find out what is the real opinion of those who have for many years been engaged in promoting the temperance cause throughout the country. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board is more or less a novice in temperance reform; but if the right hon. Gentleman had asked me or the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth, we should have warned him that, so far as the main body of the Temperance Party is concerned, any proposal that can be either remotely or directly calculated to establish a vested interest in a licence which is only granted for 12 months will be resisted. If the proposal of the Government only gave £10 for the extinction of one single licence, we should oppose it as vehemently as we oppose the whole proposals of the Government. We are fighting a principle, and we must see this question settled once for all. We are determined to go on with our opposition; and if the Bill becomes law, the Temper and Party must initiate a movement to promote its immediate repeal. I venture to make one more appeal to Her Majesty's Government. There have been meetings of the various sections of the Unionist Party to see how the business of the House can be proceeded with, and it is clear, from yesterday's proceedings, that divided counsels prevail amongst the Party opposite as to how progress can best be obtained. I submit that the best and quickest way would be to withdraw from the House these particular clauses of this particular Bill. I do not for a moment wish that the Government should abandon all their proposals, but only this small and contested portion of them. The taxes dealt with by the Bill amount to £1,400,000, while this particular money which has been thus ear marked is only £440,000. On the Second Reading of the Bill I referred to the Whip issued by the Church of England Temperance Society, in which Canon Ellison urged his friends to vote for the Second Reading on condition of certain Amendments being brought forward. I did not, however, press the matter very far on that occasion, because the right lion. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board distinctly promised that he would bring forward certain Amendments and put them upon the Paper when the House was in Committee. Here we are in Committee, and still no Amendments have been put down by the right hon. Gentleman; all that we have received for that pledge is the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby. That Amendment is harmless enough in its way, but rather the sort of colourless Amendment we should expect from the source from which it comes. One of the points in connection with the Church of England Temperance Society is that compensation should be on a limited basis put forward by the Society, and restricted to a period of 10 years.


I do not want the hon. Member to be under any misunderstanding. I indicated before that, although unquestionably in their letter the Church of England Temperance Society stated as one of the conditions of a final settlement of the question, that com pensation should be limited to a term of years, that condition had been expressly withdrawn by Canon Ellison and those who accompanied him as being one of the points upon which they did not desire to press any Amendments to the present Bill, recognising that this Bill is not a Bill to set up any question of a scale of compensation.

(4.52.) MR. CAINE

I think it well that this particular point should be cleared up. I want to know what Amendments the Government intend to propose. There has been a distinct suggestion that there are to be Amendments introduced, and I understand that my right hon. Friend accepts the suggestion that no new licence shall have any force beyond the premises for which it is originally granted. [Mr. RITCHIE assented.] Then there is the existing power of the Licensing Authority to refuse a licence. Now we understand what Amendments the Government intend to support; the only one is that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby.

(4.54.) MR. RITCHIE

My hon. Friend must not assume that there are not others of a minor character, which the Government might be prepared to accept.

(4.54.) MR. CAINE

Those are the main proposals as far as the Church of England Society is concerned. I would point out that the Government has rendered clear its intention to transfer the Licensing Authority to the County Councils, which will be already complicated by these purchase clauses; and when the Licensing Authority and the County Council become one, this Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman will become absolutely useless for the purpose for which it is intended. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board will take this matter into account, and consider whether he cannot himself draft some Amendments which will really make it quite clear to the House that any Licensing Authority, whether existing or one hereafter to be called into existence of a different character, shall possess the same powers as those now enjoyed by the Magistrates. If the right hon. Gentleman does not amend the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby, some of the Temperance Party will have to do so. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board said yesterday that the attention of the Government had been forced to this particular aspect of the temperance question by the great increase of the consumption of strong drink. For my own part, I admit that. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the measure was not a large one. There, I think, the right hon. Gentleman was wrong; it is one of great magnitude. The right hon. Gentleman made a statement as to the opinion of the Temperance Party that the number of houses affect the proportionate consumption of drink. We do not hold any such 'views. The view which I have always held is that the amount of drunkenness in the country rises and falls with the consumption of intoxicating liquor, and it makes no difference whether the drink is sold in 10 houses worth £100 a year each or in one worth £1,000 a year. The other day a deputation went to the Watch Committee of Liverpool, a body similar to that to which appeals will be made under this Bill. The deputation called attention to certain licensed houses which foster prostitution, and asked that representations should be made to the Licensing Authorities with the view of getting rid of the houses. In one of the streets there were four of these houses. Suppose the authorities entered into negotiations to get rid of one of these houses; they could not afford to deal with more; the whole of the customers of the suppressed house would swarm to the other houses. If they could reduce the number of public houses in Liverpool from 2,000 to 1,000, I have no doubt it would be an important step in the interests of temperance; but to say that, by reducing 2,000 public houses to 1,998, the cause of temperance will be advanced is manifestly absurd; it is childish. I admit that a large decrease in the number of public houses would have some appreciable effect; but a trivial reduction of the number would only mean that the trade of one house would be transferred to another house close by. The right hon. Gentleman has said a good deal about public; opinion. He quoted the meeting at Gateshead. Well, I read a letter this morning giving me the facts as to that meeting. The voting was declared by the Mayor to be equal, so that the meeting tells as much on one side as on the other.


I said so. MR. CAINE: Then it was hardly worth while to quote it. I need not pursue that subject further. I have had some experience of public meetings since this Bill was brought forward. The other day I was in Wigan, a town known as a great place for the consumption of intoxicating liquors. There are 220 fully licensed public houses to a population of less than 50,000. The town is represented in this House by a Conservative. A public meeting was convened— the largest ever held in the town. An agent of the licensed victuallers attended. I refer to Mr. Hicks, who, for the last 10 or 12 years, has been the plague of our lives, and who has great experience in the organisation of opposition to our meetings. On the top of the ordinary attendance there were 60 or 70 tipsy ruffians. An amendment was moved by Mr. Hicks, who spoke for 20 minutes, and seconded by a local solicitor, in favour of the Bill; but, out of 2,500, only about 50 hands were held up in favour of the amendment. I went to my own constituency on Wednesday. I hold a unique position, as I have been censured by every political organisation in my constituency. The meeting was the largest we have had there. About 1,400 people were present. An amendment was moved, but only two hands were held up for it. At a meeting in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, not one hand could be found held up against resolutions condemning the Bill. It is quite clear that public opinion is with us and against the Bill. It has been asked—Where are the Petitions in favour of this Bill? My experience of the licensed victualler is that he is as well able to get up a Petition as anyone else. Why has he not done so in this case I For the reason that it is clear the old publican who was to a certain extent the friend of his customers has vanished, and that in his place there is the manager for the big brewer. I hope a note will be taken of the Liberal Unionist opinion in regard to this Bill. I tell the Government frankly that the opinion of Liberal Unionists in the country—of the rank and file—is against this Bill, as the Government will find out to their cost if they alienate some of their best sup porters, by insisting on a Bill which no- body cares twopence about. I know something of the inner working of the Liberal Unionist Party. Public opinion has been roused on this question as I have not seen it roused for 25 years. I am, perhaps, more of an agitator than a Member of Parliament, but I tell the Government I have never seen the country so deeply moved as it is on this question. The Government may, if they please, go on to their destruction. They may carry their Bill, but they will find a large number of their followers are gone. The Government profess to care a great deal more for the Union between England and Ireland than for any other subject. I care a great deal; but it is because I believe that the line of action the Government have taken will result in their absolute defeat and rout that I beg them to re-consider their decision, and withdraw these clauses while they may. So much for public opinion. The real issue before the House is: shall we take some steps to bring down the number of public houses to the wants of the locality, or shall we leave them as they are until agitation ripens and sweeps them away altogether? I would adopt the latter course rather than the former, for I think the effect of the Government Bill will be to block the progress of temperance reform. A short time ago, when the respected father of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester was sitting on the Bench in Liverpool, an application was made for a new licence, and in refusing it he said there were so many houses already that unless the whole neighbourhood were drunken he could not understand how on earth the publicans made a living. Well, they do make their living out of drunkards. The right hon. Gentleman said he could not understand why the Temperance Party were fighting this Bill. In the three days' Debate on the Second Reading we endeavoured to explain our reasons. We oppose it because, for the first time, it introduces the principle of vested interests in licences. As a Liberal it has been part of my business to resist vested interests and to get rid of them, and I am not now going to establish one. What will be the operation under this Bill? I believe the greater number of the County Councils will receive such pressure from their constituents that they will refuse to put it in force, and it will be come a dead letter. Once a single public house anywhere is bought out the principle of the money value of the licence is successfully established. The Bill is to be used to buy out the disorderly and rotten public houses, houses which are the resorts of thieves and prostitutes; and if they are to get com pensation, when it comes to a question of reducing the number of public houses generally, it will be urged that the better houses shall be compensated still more.


I must correct the hon. Member. The Government have never said it was their object to get rid of bad houses, but the unnecessary houses. It would be quite within the power of a County Council to refuse to buy a bad house.


Of course I accept the right hon. Gentleman's contradiction, but certainly the right hon. Gentleman said that one of the grounds on which the Government have pressed their Bill on the public is that they would be able to get rid of these houses.


I used the words "small fry."


The right hon. Gentle man spoke of houses that did not pay without committing a breach of the law.


I said there were many public houses that did not pay, and that the only way in which they could be made to pay was by doing what they ought not to do.


If there are public houses that cannot be made to pay with out breaking the law, it is quite clear they have no claim for compensation, and the only way they can establish a claim is by making themselves a nuisance to the public. The Bill is, de facto, a measure to buy out the black guards in a respectable trade, and the opponents of the Bill will not consent for one moment to allow that which is public money as distinctly as money raised from any other source to be devoted to getting rid by money com pensation of men who are an evil to the community and a danger to society, and who ought to have been long since got rid of by the Magistrates. If the Bill becomes law it will amount to a deliberate censure by the House of the administration of the Licensing Law by the Magistrates of the United Kingdom. I cannot understand the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth voting for a Bill which is a censure on himself. The opponents of the Bill intend to resist this Bill to the uttermost, and if they are beaten in the House they will go to the country. I believe the Government would have found it quite difficult enough to carry the country on their Irish policy. Now, I am quite certain they will do nothing of the kind. Their work is cut out for them, and they have laid upon themselves and the Unionist Party throughout the country a task they will never be able to fulfil, and they will be beaten hip and thigh at the next General Election if they persevere with the Bill. I believe the Unionist Party is running down a steep place into the sea, in regard to this particular proposal, and, so far as I am concerned, I am going to remain at the top and see the Government go down alone.

(5.23.) MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, &c.)

I have to ask the indulgence of the House in addressing it for the first time. I may say that the Car narvonshire County Council have passed a resolution condemning the proposals of the Government, and very few of the Conservative members of the Council ventured to oppose it. I have not the slightest hesitation in declaring that were there an election in Wales at the present moment a clean sweep would be made of all the members who registered their vote in favour of this Bill. I object to the Bill in the first place, be cause it establishes a new principle in the Licensing Laws. It affirms that you cannot extinguish a licence even if the house is not required for the locality. My second objection is that you are giving £350,000 as compensation to the publicans, without providing that they shall only be compensated on the basis of the profits of legitimate trading. There were 166,000 convictions for drunkenness last year, and there were no doubt many thousands of cases of drunkenness in which there were no prosecutions. If you are going to com pensate the publicans you should com pensate them on the basis of profits on legitimate trade. Every case of drunken ness really represents a breach of the law committed by a publican, and it also represents an increase in the profits of a publican. If this proposal is carried, the House will be capitalising profits made by a gross and wholesale infringement of the law. We have heard a great deal about law and order in Ireland. I think there ought to be a Coercion Act for publicans armed with all the modern appliances, such as Star Chamber inquiries, informers, "shadows," and Removable Magistrates. Why not punish the publican for an infringement of the law, with the same amount of zeal as the Government display in punishing the Irish Members? If there were such an Act, I believe that very few publicans would survive the inquisition, and the £350,000 would form an ample sum to compensate those who remained. Another objection I have to make to the Government proposal is that the sum of £350,000 is grossly inadequate for the purposes set forth in the Bill. We are all agreed that a reduction in the number of public houses will promote temperance, but this money will not suffice for any appreciable reduction. Take instances in my own constituency. Eifion, a small town, is infested with licences, and if this sum is to be distributed over the whole of Carnarvon shire, it would take more than £1,000,000 to reduce the number of houses to a point at which they would be sufficient for the wants of the inhabitants. We have been told by the hon. Member for Barrow that it will require £250,000,000 to compensate the whole of the publicans of the United Kingdom. We must reduce the number of public houses by 50 per cent, before we attain the object we have in view, and for that, £125,000,000 will be necessary. Yet this £350,000 is offered to do it all. There never was a more puny attempt made to grapple with a great evil since the days of the Liliputian King who drew his hanger to attack Gulliver. But that is not all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was very profuse with his sympathy for temperance, and the President of the Local Government Board was equally profuse. What has been the outcome of all this profusion? This Local Option, which I venture to declare, as far as Wales at least is concerned, will not have the slightest effect on the drinking habits of the people. It is only by the merest chance that this proposal can hope to succeed. This Bill will do nothing at all unless it buys out the most pernicious and worst class of public houses. The pernicious and worst class of public houses are the most profitable, and where they exist there is surrounding them the worst misery and desolation. Why should that class of publican sell? He has a good livelihood, and he could only be induced to sell by the offer of an extravagant price. The Government, in order to attain any success for this mea sure will have to depend upon the chapter of accidents. A very eminent writer has pourtrayed the world as governed by chance. It is only in such a world that fortuitous statesmanship of this order can ever hope to succeed. If the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington to purchase licences compulsorily had been accepted, this objection would not apply. The County Council then would state their case for the suppression of a licence which, in their opinion, did harm to the public. Unfortunately, the temperance ardour of the noble Lord has evaporated. Like many another temperance advocate the holidays seem to have affected his temperance principles. His, at the best, was a kind of mushroom teetotalism, which grew no one knew why, or when, and which has disappeared, how, no one exactly knows. But from the constant communications of the noble Lord with the licensed victuallers, the Temperance Party in this House have good reason to believe now that it was somewhat of an alcoholic fungus. The noble Lord and the right lion. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham seem now to have joined in the duty of praising compensation. It was only the other day that the right lion. Gentleman entertained a few of the brewers. So strongly was he in favour of the principle of compensation that he expressed great surprise that it was necessary for them to approach him on the subject. He could quite understand his Liberalism being doubted, but on this great question of compensating the publicans he ought to be above suspicion. But we simple people of Wales can hardly understand either the right lion. Gentleman or the noble Lord. They are to us a great mystery. The right hon. Gentleman not so very long ago, I think it was in Wales, promulgated the doctrine of ransom. Now, if we under- stand that great doctrine, it is the exact converse of compensation. Both the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord seem to be a kind of political contortionists, after the fashion of the American performers, who can set their feet in one direction and their face in another, and no one knows which way they intend to travel. My last objection to this proposal is that it delays the great work of temperance reform. There are obstacles to every great reform, and there is no necessity for creating fictitious and artificial barriers to combating this great evil. I believe it is in your power to do much to improve the habits and condition of the people by improving their environments. That is why I believe in this great question of temperance reform. It removes inducements to evil and substitutes incitements to good, and it is because the Government Bill delays that great work that I think the proposal is greatly to be deplored. I thank the House for the kind manner in which it has listened to me.

(5.40.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

The hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat, in his maiden speech, has stated his belief that it is in the power of this House to do a great deal for temperance reform. I believe exactly the same thing, and I think that after a life of 35 years spent in connection with the temperance movement, I can claim not to be a mushroom teetotaler, but to be, in the true sense of the word, a temperance man. If I thought that this Bill created a new vested interest for the publican, I would oppose it to the utter most, but it is because I believe it does nothing of the kind, and because I am anxious that something should be done for temperance reform, I am not willing to go on waiting, but desire to do something at once. I have been constantly referred to during the Debate, and have been reproached for the position I have taken up on this Bill, and I, therefore, want to make my position clear. Why do I vote for this Bill? I vote for this Bill because I am anxious to see the adoption of the principle of equitable compensation, against which I have not heard a word from the Front Opposition Bench. The Member for Wolverhampton asked the Government why they persist in going on with a Bill that is opposed by the whole Temperance Party. I admit that the over whelming majority of the Temperance Party is opposed to this Bill, but I have had two occasions during the last 20 years to judge of the action of the temperance leaders with respect to public measures. In 1871 a Bill was introduced into the House that would have been of enormous service to the temperance cause. It was met by the Temperance Party almost in the same way as this Bill has been met. Because it pro posed to give a 10 years' lease instead of an annual privilege, it was declared to create a new vested interest, and the leaders of the Temperance Party gave away the grandest chance they had had during the century of effecting a legitimate and beneficent temperance reform. Mr. Bruce was forced to withdraw his Bill, not because the publicans opposed it, but because the Temperance Party folded their arms and refused to lift a hand to further it. I protested, and so did hundreds and thousands of moderate temperance men, but the leaders had their own way, and they have been 19 years wandering in the wilderness since. Now, I am not prepared to wander for ever and a day in the wilder ness. There is a Party in the House professing' to be temperance reformers, and their principle is that they would rather endure ail the nameless horrors of this drink traffic than pay a six pence for its extinction. I do not belong to that Party and I will not. I am prepared to pay a good many sixpences to get rid of such a gigantic evil, and I believe this Bill, by suspending the issue of new licences and establishing what I believe to be the sound and just principle of equitable compensation, is a beginning that will lead to better things. Another occasion upon which I had an opportunity of testing the wisdom of the temperance leaders, was in 1878, when the Irish Sunday Closing Bill was carried. The Government of the day proposed to introduce certain Amendments which exempted five of the large cities and towns in Ireland from the full operation of the measure. When these Amendments were placed upon the Order Paper the whole Temperance Party denounced them; they would rather the whole Bill was sacrificed. But those in charge of the Bill did not take their advice, and so the Bill passed, and if it had not passed then it would not have been passed now. I will not, therefore, for the sake of an abstract principle, consent to abandon possible good for a greater problematical good in the future. I am also influenced by another motive. This Bill applies to Ireland. I plead for the principle of equitable compensation in England, but I submit that the law is in such a state in Ireland that it goes a good way beyond this. It has been decided that once a licensed publican in Ireland gets his licence, he may sell it, and the Licensing Authority cannot refuse to transfer, except the applicant is of bad character, or conducts his house in an improper manner. The Queen's Bench, in 1877, set up a legal vested interest for the Irish publican, and since that time interests have been created and settlements made, so that in Ireland you must either compensate these men or confiscate their property. Therefore, I was largely influenced by the state of the Irish law in the vote I gave on this question. But while I say this, I wish also to say that I have not the slightest enthusiasm about this Bill. I am not going to rob the publican, but I am not going to fight his battle. The lion. Member for Barrow has said that this Bill is going to be the ruin of the Liberal Unionist Party, and I notice that he was cheered from this side of the House. He had supposed that was their supreme ambition. Then why not pass this Bill, and do it. My hon. Friend does not seem to believe that the reduction of public houses on a small scale affects the thing one way or the other. My experience in the City of Dublin has been entirely different. During the last 10 years the Recorder of Dublin, who is the sole Licensing Authority, has absolutely refused to grant any new licences, and what has been done is this: Where there is a new district, and where the want of a public house is pleaded, the Recorder has insisted upon the new applicant buying up either one or two old houses, and the invariable custom has been to buy houses in the lanes and back streets, which could not be superintended by the police, in exchange for a new licence in a new district. That was exactly the way in which he thought this Bill would work, and that is one of the reasons I am glad to support it. My position is this: I am a temperance man, and work for the reform of the drunkard; but I do not understand that it is necessary to attach to that the ruin of the publican as well. The publican is a creation of the law, and we cannot possibly get rid of him, and I submit that, taking the Front Bench utterances, we never shall get rid of him without the acceptance of the principle embodied in this Bill. Because I think this is a measure that points to larger and better things in the future, I am supporting it.

(5.55.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

I shall not enter on the very tempting matter of considering the consistency of the vote which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is about to give with that which he gave in 1888. There are wider matters be fore us. I shall notice briefly one or two of the allegations of the hon. Gentle man. It has been asserted confidently and boldly on the other side of the House that this Bill does not sanction the principle of compensation, and that has been a main ground, I may say the main ground, upon which Her Majesty's Government have commended it to the acceptance of the House. But the hon. Gentleman, whose support as that of an independent Member is valuable for other reasons than the rarity of such support in this Debate, has given as his main reason for supporting the Bill that which absolutely contradicts and oversets the fundamental principle of the Government, because he has supported the Bill on the ground that the Bill embodies the principle of compensation, which they maintain it does not establish. And those contradictory declarations are, not withstanding, to result in one and the same vote in one and the same Lobby. I agree more with the hon. Gentleman on that point than with the Government, except in this, that I contend we are not now discussing the question of compensation at large—very many Members of the House have the strongest opinion upon that subject—but what we are discussing now, as was defined by the hon. Member for Barrow, is the principle of that compensation which is actually before us. The hon. Gentleman then went on to challenge the judgment of the temperance leaders. He challenged their proceedings upon two occasions and on one of them I will make a remark. His want of confidence in their judgment leads him to vote against the course they recommend. He refers to 1871—and here I have the pleasure of agreeing with very much of what he says—and he-says the Bill of that year would have done a world of good and effected a vast reduction in the number of public houses. I am net indisposed to accept that statement, as I was one of the Government responsible for the formation and introduction of that Bill. What is the respective guilt of parties in respect of that Bill? That Bill, no doubt, failed in some degree, owing mainly to one particular cause—the opposition of the publicans; but, combined with that opposition, to the indifference and luke warmness of the Temperance Party. But the opposition of the publicans was-the opposition of hon. Gentlemen, opposite, and the Gentleman who is so shocked at going with temperance re formers, because they were lukewarm in the cause of what he considers a good measure, has no scruple at all about acting with those who, as he says, were in full cry against the Bill, with the principle of which he says he agrees. The hon. Gentleman says he will vote for the Bill mainly on account of the Irish portion of it; but is that the main portion of the Bill? Am I to look into every corner of a Bill, and, disregarding its main scope and purpose, if I find some particular nook or cranny where there is something I approve of, such as the operation of the Bill in Ireland, then to say that on that account I will accept the whole Bill? The public houses in Ireland are for the supply of 5,000,000' persons, and those in England for the supply of 35,000,000. Is it rational, when you are dealing with a Bill which affects 35,000,000, to overlook all the considerations that can be urged against the Bill in respect of its operation on the 35,000,000, and to say "I will look only at the effect it has on the 5,000,000 of Irish people?"


My position is that I consider the Irish publican has a legal right and the British publican an equitable right, and I am anxious in the interests of temperance to do something by which that right may be recognised as speedily as possible.


The claim made in the interests of temperance I wish by-and-by to bring to the test. My complaint is that the hon. Member said he was greatly governed by the operation of the Bill in Ireland, and I say that the operation of the Bill in Ireland is of necessity a secondary and subordinate operation of the Bill, which it is quite possible to subject to separate treatment. If there is a legal right in Ireland, it constitutes no reason for voting for a Bill which is to operate disadvantageously as regards public houses in England. The hon. Member reminds us that the hon. Member for Barrow had said that Bill would be fatal to what he termed the Unionist Party, which I believe to be the disunionist party, but which, out of courtesy, I will call the Unionist Party, although that involves a contradiction of my convictions and feelings. The hon. Member for Barrow, in the course of his able speech, has defended himself against being supposed to be a lukewarm sup porter of the present Government, and of the so-called Unionist cause; but my hon. Friend might have spared himself that trouble, seeing the amount of valuable matter he had to produce. We have all had quite sufficient experience of his zeal on behalf of that Party to believe firmly in his sincerity. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said—"If the Bill will have the effect, as you allege, of ruining the Unionist Party, why do you not vote for it and ruin that Party?" No doubt the hon. Member thought that in offering that suggestion he had made a great coup. We believe this Bill to be of vital consequence, and we believe it to be as ruinous as it is important, and, that being so, it is totally against our principle to vote for this Bill for the sake of ulterior objects. I am not surprised at the argument of the hon. Gentleman, be cause, as I understand him and the body of Members with whom he has been acting, they have become habituated to this practice of continually voting for measures they disapprove of, and refraining from the support of measures of which, they approve, simply because of that ulterior object which the hon. Gentleman recommends us on this occasion to keep exclusively in view. The hon. Member will understand that I cannot accept the advice he has kindly given us. I was obliged to intervene in this Debate, although the House has kindly heard me before, on account of my responsibility for the use of a particular term. Before I advert to that, I wish to say a word upon the Amendment. I am able to support what has been said in the able speech of the hon. Member for Glamorganshire. We do not admit this Bill to be a step in the direction of temperance. The principle is perfectly sound that you should not insist upon achieving at once your whole object and ultimate aim when you have not the force that is necessary for that purpose, but you should be content to arrive at it step by step. This is all very well; but, according to our view, and especially according to the view of the Principality of Wales, it is true that this Bill takes a step, but it is a step in the wrong direction, it is a retrograde step that leads us a great deal further from the purpose aimed at than we were before. I believe the people of Wales especially look upon this Bill as poison, while they regard as food the provision for education proposed by the Amendment; and they say, "Take away the poison and give us the food." In Wales there is a much stronger desire for inter mediate schools than can be satisfied with the funds that are available for the purpose. You may tell me, and I admit, that people are ready enough to put their hands into the public purse when it costs them nothing; but it is not so in Wales, for there the people, with laudable public spirit, make immense efforts to provide these schools for themselves. It is in these circumstances the Welsh people ask that this money may be diverted to a purpose of inestimable good, of which they approve, from one which will not only not be valuable, but will be mischievous and ruinous to the country. The President of the Local Government Board said that some one had irrationally spoken of this Bill as a public house endowment Bill. I have a strong opinion that there is no more objection able practice in politics, or one to be more carefully eschewed, than an eschewed to disparage a good cause by affixing upon it a bad name. The right hon. Gentleman thinks it is a practice I have indulged in. I accept the full re sponsibility for the quoted description, and I have not heard any other name which so adequately describes the purpose and operation of the Bill. But a slight mistake has been made; if it be called a publican's endowment Bill, in my opinion, that would not be at all a just description. There are many faults in the Bill, grave faults, and it is difficult to determine their order of procedure, but, undoubtedly, among the faults of the Bill not the least is the exceedingly small regard it has for the interests of publicans as compared with the interests of others concerned. I have received a communication from a respectable publican, who expresses his strong objection to this Bill, and declares that it is brought in, not in the interest of his class, but in the interests of others more powerful than they. I do not know if I originated the name for the Bill, I do not know whether any of my hon. Friends claim the authorship. I am almost disposed to compete for the honour of the responsibility. Accepting the full responsibility for the description of this Bill as a public house endowment Bill, I will say why it cannot be fairly described by any other name. The hon. member for Sheffield, in an able and telling speech, referred to the operation of the Bill upon purchase transactions, and contended that the giving of public money for the extinction of licences invested licences with a value which amounted to endowment. In my opinion that is not a tenth, nor a twentieth, nor a hundredth part of the sense in which the Bill is an endowment. The mode in which it is an endowment is this. From the moment the Bill has become the law of the land every interest in every public house will be worth more money in the market, and cannot be acquired except at a higher price. That, I think, is not an unfair mode of stating the case. I want the proposition to be tested. I challenge opposition. Unfortunately this business of vast investment by large proprietary interests in public houses, as far as I know, has been a monstrous evil, the growth almost entirely of our own time. Within our own time it has swollen to gigantic proportions, and now constitutes the enormous, the almost insurmountable difficulty in the way of dealing satisfactorily with the public house question. That evil, which is in constant progress, depends upon this, that a certain expectancy of the renewal of the licence leads gentlemen interested in the manufacture of liquor, and makes it worth their while to invest largely in public houses, and to compensate themselves by binding the publican to buy the liquor they manufacture, irrespective, in a certain degree, either of quality or of price. You are now going to add to that expectancy. To that expectancy, which has been declared to rest upon no legal basis whatever, and the whole value of which may be enormously and detrimentally affected by many conceivable proceedings that could be taken under the present law without raising any claim for compensation, you are now going to add the establishment of this principle, that the authority is to go into the market provided with public money, raised out of the public taxes, and buy up licences, irrespective of the further tremendous objection that the price is virtually to be fixed by the person interested. Will any man tell me that by the establishment of this principle by law, this act of legislative countenance given to the doctrine of vested interest in licences, an approach, at least, will not be made to the laying down an absolute rule that no licence can be touched—apart from offence against the law—except in consideration of payment of public money? Will any mail tell me that that will not at once upraise the value of every saleable public interest from one end of the country to another? If that is so, that is a public house endowment Bill. It does not matter——


We do not say that.


Do not say what?


We do not say that. We do not interfere in any degree with the existing powers of the Magistrates.


I am not indisposed to be corrected by-and-by. I will only say at this moment that, in my opinion, there never were more idle words than the words of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman evidently thought yesterday that he was making an announcement of importance to the House when he read out exultingly the terms of the Amendment which is to declare that the local powers of Magistrates shall remain intact. Now, Sir, if he were to multiply those Amendments, and plaster them all over his Bill, repeated a hundred thousand times over, laying them thick as leaves in Vallom-brosa, or till they were like the advertisements of Pear's Soap, they would not acquire one shade of value in the eyes of any one of the millions of people who are opposed to this Bill. For the prevention of enhancement of value they are absolutely utterly nugatory. I, therefore, say that this Bill is a public house endowment Bill, because it adds a value to every proprietary interest in premises that are now licensed for the sale of liquor. Now, Sir, it may be a long time before you arrive at the possibility of a comprehensive, sweeping, and conclusive measure with regard to the treatment of the liquor traffic, but I object to this Bill upon two grounds—first of all, that we have under the present law, and compatibly with the principle of the present law, great means and possibilities of good; and, secondly, that you not only take away those means and possibilities, but you also interpose a new and enormous obstacle in that increment of value which is to run throughout the country in connection with this Bill, to which I have just referred as the public house endowment Bill. The present law has in itself principles that are, at any rate, of some value. The present law rests unquestionably and strictly upon these grounds, among others, that public houses are to be absolutely limited to the wants of the district. Can any man say that they are so limited? No, Sir, they are known to be in multitudes of districts in the country very far in excess even of a most liberal estimate of those wants. Why are they not brought down to the measure of those wants? Because you have the licensing power in the hands of a body which is not well qualified to administer that portion of the present law with the stringency and firmness with which it ought to be administered. We always contended for the placing of that power in the hands of an Elective Authority, and we have been resisted in the endeavour to obtain that object. We are convinced, at least I for one am convinced, that if you got that power—not for the whole purposes of the Temperance Party, but for the purpose of acting on the acknowledged principle of the present law—once fairly lodged in the hands of an Elective Body, like the County Councils, to be exercised upon their responsibility, very great good would be obtained. I do not mean to say that County Councils would be justified in going to work upon what are called extreme principles of temperance. I will suppose, for the sake of argument, that there might possibly be a County Council with a majority in favour not only of Local Option, but in favour of using that Local Option for the purpose of the total extinction of public houses—it would be, in my opinion, an entire abuse of the power if it were to act upon that principle, because that is not the principle of the existing law which they are to administer. They are to examine in good faith the question of sufficiency. Examining in good faith the question of sufficiency, they would find immense room for reduction. How does it operate upon that room for reduction? How does it operate upon the possibility of reduction? I will suppose now that the Bill shall unhappily have been passed into law, and I will suppose also, what I have no doubt we shall see before many years are over, that the licensing power is placed under the control of an Elective Authority in a county. What is, then, to be the position of the Elective Authority? Will any man tell me that that Elective Authority can proceed to-day to pay probably a large sum of money to the person interested in one particular public house in a district overstocked, and can to-morrow go to deal with the case of another public house in their licensing operations, and withdraw the renewal of that licence without paying one farthing for it? We have no occasion in this matter to resort to figures of speech. The facts are too grave, too solid, either to require or admit of exaggeration or enhancement. My contention is, that this power which is already established in the law, and which might become a very vigorous and useful power when it was lodged in the hands of a body well fitted for its exercise, is to be reduced to absolute paralysis, and we are to go—I said one step, but I should have said many steps, backward in the way of temperance. In my opinion, the law is capable of immense improvement in ways that would not give the slightest claim for compensation. It is quite plain that if it were the view of Parlia- ment to introduce the public lease system which prevails in Sweden, that might have immense effect in destroying the money value of public house investments Very likely it would; but nobody would for one moment say it gave a claim for compensation to any body. The Member for Barrow made it a point to-night that the direct operation of this Bill must be to pay public money for buying up the licences, not of public houses merely, but of bad public houses. Now, this is a separate point in the indictment—a strong point and a capital point. Is it true or is it not true? The President of the Local Government Board has, this evening, used some words which I take to be of very high importance. He has indicated what it is to make a public house into a goldfield. It is misconduct. [Mr. RITCHIE expressed dissent.] The right hon. Gentleman never used the word "goldfield." No, I am quoting his sentiments in language which, I thought, would give it a true but lively expression. To be correct in syllable and letter, the right hon. Gentleman said that— There were a number of public houses which did not pay, but which can be made to pay, by doing what, perhaps, they ought not to do. I do not think that is far from saying that by misconduct a public house can be turned into a goldfield.


What I alluded to was this: I was accused by the hon. Member for Barrow of having said that the public houses which the County Councils under these powers would buy out would be the bad public houses. I denied having said so; and in answer to a further challenge, I said that the words I had used in connection with the incident were "the small fry." Then, again, I was challenged upon the point as to whether or not I had said that the same smaller public houses were unprofitable unless they had done something which they ought not to have done. I said that many of the owners did get a living in that way. But I never indicated that that was the class which I expected or believed would be bought up by the County Councils.


The right hon. Gentleman was entitled to interrupt me if he thought I was misrepresenting him; but he has not said a word which contravenes the effect of what I attributed to him. The charge against the right hon. Gentleman of his having said that this was the class of public house which would be bought up by the County Councils is a charge which I did not make. I have made no reference to it. I have not heard the right hon. Gentleman say that, and, therefore, I must leave the matter to be dealt with by those who may be inclined to contest the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not enter into the matter, because I have not the necessary knowledge. [Mr. J. MORLEY handed the right hon. Gentleman a newspaper.] But, perhaps, as it is a matter of public interest I may read from a newspaper what the right hon. Gentleman is reported to have stated to a deputation— We are, however, persuaded that there is an enormous amount of harm done by the smaller houses—houses of comparatively little or no market value; and they probably would be of no market value if they were conducted in such a way as we should wish to see them conducted. In referring to the language of the right hon. Gentleman I do not at all wish, to use a vulgar phrase, to put him in a corner. I have no such intention. I rather wish to compliment the right hon. Gentleman on having made a declaration which was absolutely true, and which was of great value and of great importance in reference to the present subject. I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman has said that the ill-conducted houses will be the ones which the County Councils will be placed under the strongest pressure to purchase. I do not know whether he has stated so, but I take the liberty of saying it myself. I found the argument on the Bill as it stands. It invests the County Councils with funds for the purpose of purchase. The Bill as it stands and the Government's declarations have properly encouraged the public and the Local Authorities to make representations to the County Councils for the purchase of licences. What representations will be the strongest? Why, the representations which point out that public house A or B is a nuisance to the neighbourhood, that it catches all the people—as we have heard of a particular public house near the dock gates in Liverpool—on the way to their work; a house that would be valueless as an ordinary house, but which is a true goldfield by reason, not so much of its position, as of the manner in which that position is used. The County Councils may, and I think very probably will, decline to be the agents to act under this Bill. I believe it to be most highly probable that large bodies of public opinion will be put in motion in several localities to prevent the County Councils from laying out the public money in a manner so improvident and so ruinous. But there is a possibility that in some cases opinion will act upon the County Councils to stimulate them to purchase; and, again, I invite contradiction or challenge of this assertion—that where there is this action of extraneous opinion on the County Councils to move in the exercise of powers of purchase, local public opinion will infallibly point, not to the good and well-conducted public houses—which everyone, even the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth, will desire to keep alive—but to those public houses, of which there are a certain number, known as a common nuisance to the districts, although the Magistrates have not thought themselves in a position to withdraw the licences, or have thought that the offences were not sufficiently grave to warrant so extreme a punishment. I do not know what flaw there is in that argument; I do not know how to resist that contention. Anyone on the Government Bench who follows me will not, I hope, omit to show that our apprehensions on this ground are ill-founded, and that there is no fear of the operation of the Bill putting a premium on the misconduct of public houses for the purpose of attracting the showers of gold which are to descend on this interest in the extinction of licences. I venture to say that the community will before long be endowed with the power of dealing, through the instrumentality of Local Option, with the existence of public houses in particular districts; but I exclude for the moment all questions of mode of extinction. I look strictly at the present amount of evil with which we have to deal; and I am not speaking of the moral evil, but of the amount of the obstacle which we have to surmount. That is the enormous pecuniary value connected with these public houses. I look at the amount of that obstacle and the good that may be done under the present law. In my opinion, very great good can be done under the present law as long as you use it, as you ought to do, without delay. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) is so full of the evils of delay let him promote and accelerate the creation of an Elective Body to deal with this subject. There is considerable good to be done under the present law. There are great obstacles in its way. This present Bill paralyses entirely all hope of effecting good, and, at the same time, enormously magnifies the evil or obstacle before us by adding tens of millions, and probably scores of millions—and I believe scores of millions—to the already huge value of the mass of proprietary interests which have unfortunately come to be clustered around these houses. These, Sir, are the grounds, and I think that they are strong, broad, and clear, upon which we intend to vote against this Bill, and we vote against it believing that, while every judgment and voice on this side of the House is given in expression of a clear, conscientious conviction, there are many of the voices on the other side of the House, even if they form a majority, that are reluctant; many that betoken divided minds; many that have reference to a general loyalty to the Government, and not to the merits of the measure. Could we have a true poll in this House—aye or no—on the single and separate question whether this measure is good or bad, we on this side have not a doubt as to the result. Having said that and having made these objections, I admit frankly the great value of this measure to us as a Party. I am extremely reluctant—I am half ashamed, but I cannot help it—to draw Party gains from such a subject. But as to the existence of them, there cannot be a doubt. Opposing this Bill with all my heart and soul, as a political and public measure, and firmly convinced that it is a retrogressive step and one of the most fatal kind, I do not for a moment question that every candidate at a bye-election who goes to the country on the Liberal side will profit largely by your unfortunate persistence in this ill-conceived measure. I am compelled to accept that gift; though I would avoid it if I could. I would neutralise and destroy it even now by beseeching the Government, while there is yet time, to withdraw a measure with respect to which everyone is puzzled to know why in the world they ever introduced it, and with respect to which the President of the Local Government Board himself has explained that the confident expectations which they entertained of meeting, to a large extent, the views and desires of a vast body of their countrymen with whose intentions and aims they sympathised, have been miserably disappointed.

(6.45.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

The right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech, Sir, by saying that he would not devote any time to analysing the consistency of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), interesting as such a discussion might prove. As I believe that both sides of the House are anxious to come to a Division on this subject—[Opposition cries of "No, no"]—I will not prolong my remarks to any great extent. Otherwise I might be tempted to say that there does attach very considerable interest to the question of the consistency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian in this matter. I think that before I sit down I shall be able to prove that if there is this vast amount of capital embarked in this trade, which my right hon. Friend has now denounced and spoken of with such horror, there are few men in the country who are more responsible than my right hon. Friend, during the last 10 years, for the investment which has been made of such capital. For the right hon. Gentleman, in the clearest terms, has laid down on previous occasions doctrines of compensation which would have contributed far more to the increase in the value of all kinds of public house property than the present proposals of Her Majesty's Government could possibly do.


I have never spoken one word on that subject, except with reference to the supposition of Local Option and the total extinction of public houses under that system, which those who applied for licences could never foresee.


No person whatever has ever before been able to read that qualification into the utterances of my right hon. Friend. He has said that this interest has grown up under legislative sanction. He has spoken of it as a vested interest.


What is the right hon. Gentleman's authority for those words? I am not prepared to admit them. I have never seen any thing which would enable me to know whether I spoke such words or not.


Very well. I will quote some words of the right hon. Gentleman. Other words of his have been quoted by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board in a previous speech, and I do not know that any hon. Members opposite have called special attention to them. The right hon. Gentleman said— Considering the legislative title they (the publicans) have acquired, and the recognition of their position in the proceedings of this House for a long series of years, they ought not to he placed at a disadvantage on account of the particular impression we may entertain in many cases but too justly—in relation to the mischiefs connected with the present licensing System, and the consumption of strong liquors as it is now carried on. I wish particularly to draw the attention of the Committee to the words "legislative title." What is the meaning of "legislative title"?

MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

The annual licence.


The legislative title to an annual licence! If these are the arguments of hon. Members opposite, if this is the way in which they speak of the legislative interest, I do not know to what point this argument has come. Let me emphasise the right hon. Gentleman's argument. The right hon. Gentleman said that the publicans ought not to be disturbed on account of the trade which they carried on. Then, why does the right hon. Gentleman to-night alter his tune? Other speeches can be quoted against the right hon. Gentleman. The speech in which the words "vested interests" occurred has been already quoted. Indeed, the speeches which he made in reference to the position of the publicans may be called "public house endowment" speeches with far more propriety than that term can be applied to the pre sent measure of Her Majesty's Government.


Will you tell me where I said "vested interests."


It was quoted by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, and, therefore, I have not brought the quotation down with me. What I wish the House to understand is this—that not only the right hon. Gentleman, but all those who have been in a position of responsibility during the last 10 years, have held language which would entitle the publicans to believe that their licences could not be withdrawn without compensation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, for example, delivered an address at Oxford.


Can the right hon. Gentleman point to any speech in which I, as a Minister from that Bench, stated on the authority of the whole Government that there was any claim to compensation?


Perhaps, then, the right hon. Gentleman had changed his opinion. This is what he told the publicans on the occasion to which I refer, and there was a time when he was not so hostile to the interests of the publicans as he is at present. The right hon. Gentleman said— Some people want to meddle with the rights of the owners of public houses; others to invade the rights of the owners of private houses. The form is different, but the error is the same. Unless we set our faces against the whole system, liberty itself will suffer. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman sets his face against this invasion of the rights of the publicans.


What are their rights?


I suppose the right hon. Gentleman was not then alluding to the right of a publican to apply for an annual licence. Then there is a letter, published in 1880, from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley), who said— I may add that I should strongly oppose any legislation which should overlook the fact that immense capital has been embarked in your trade, in the ordinary expectation that the trade would not be interfered with. I do not know whether the views of Mr. John Bright will have any influence still with hon. Members opposite, but I will quote what he said at a time when he enjoyed the full confidence of right hon. Gentlemen opposite— To shut up in Birmingham—I do not know how many persons there are in your trade (A voice: Two thousand)—if there are 2,000 houses, and there are, perhaps, no less than those in Liverpool and Manchester, it is impossible that you should shut up all those without compensation. It would be unjust if the populations of those places could, even by vote, shut up all those houses and turn those families into the streets. I say the thing is incredible, be sides being unjust; and, therefore, I could not agree to a proposition of that kind I should say that, whether the magistrates, whether the Corporation, or any elective Board or Authority of any sort that Parliament might substitute for the Authority which now exists, if it under took to close those houses which are not closed on the ground of their infringement of the law, that in those cases, as a matter of course, fair compensation would be paid to those who were so dealt with. I presume that hon. Members opposite wish to diminish the number of public houses. There are two ways of doing so, either by paying for them or by not paying for them. If their licences are taken away the publicans would be turned into the street, according to the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman says that the magistrates have proceeded much too slowly in reducing the number of licences. If you diminish the number of public houses without any kind of compensation you will, in Mr. Bright's language, do what is incredible as well as unjust. We are for the first time introducing a measure which will enable the number of public houses to be reduced in substantial proportions, and we are entitled to say that we are acting upon principles which used to be accepted by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) just now expressed a doubt whether he ever used the words "vested interests." On March 5th, 1880, the right hon. Gentleman said— We ought not to allow our prejudices with regard to this particular trade, or our sense of the enormous mischiefs associated with its work, to cause us to deviate by one hair's breadth from the principle which Parliament has always acted upon in analogous cases, namely, that when a vested interest has been created the question of compensation should be considered when such vested interests are pro posed to be dealt with by Parliament. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will now acquit me of having in any way misquoted him or exaggerated the statement he has made. Now, the point between us is very small. Why is this Bill resisted to this fanatical extent? It is the first attempt that has been made for a great many years seriously to grapple with the number of licences in existence. The leader of the Opposition asks us why the Magistrates have not reduced the number before, as the County Councils are expected to do; but when he comes to speak of the County Councils he distrusts them equally with the Magistrates, and suggests that they will not do what the Magistrates have not done. Well, the Magistrates have not acted otherwise because they have been acquainted with the views held by leading politicians on both sides that they could not reduce the number, except by infringement of the law, without the payment of compensation. The Magistrates have been taught this by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, and now, after this eloquent teaching from the right hon. Gentleman, because the Magistrates are not acting up to the more modern view, are they to be denounced, and told they are not doing their duty? We do not hold that they have not done their duty, but we admit that the reduction made in the number of public houses has not been as large as we could wish. We introduce the Bill because we desire to diminish the number of public houses. We have been told that the prevailing intemperance bears a proportion to the temptations offered by the large number of public houses, and we wish to diminish the temptations to drink. This principle was embodied in the Bill of the present Lord Aberdare, for which the right hon. Gentleman opposite was partly responsible. That is the motive of the Bill; we wish to reduce the number of licences, and it is a little unjust—and it is only part of a gigantic course of misrepresentation—to say the contrary. The Bill was even denounced before its provisions were known. ["No, no!"] Yes. Hon. Members who say "no" have perhaps not been favoured with such a correspondence as I have had. I received many hundred letters even before the Bill was printed protesting against principles which it did not contain. That is the sort of misrepresentation which has been made. We are anxious to diminish the number of licences; and it is really unjust that no notice has been taken of our proposal to forbid the issue of new licences. The right hon. Gentleman thinks we have been foolish in meddling with this question. But the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, who are now fighting for the first time under the banner of the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth, notwithstanding their present feeling as to the iniquity of allowing so many licences to be issued, during the time they held office made no serious attempt to grapple with this evil. The right hon. Gentleman was too much afraid of the various interests that would be touched on all sides by any attempt to grapple with this question. It may have been foolish on our part, but we have attempted to grapple with it, and we intend to carry out our proposals, as we believe them to be in the true interest of temperance; and even if the result is to damage us as a Party, we think we shall have done in the cause of temperance something more than those who allowed these vested interests to grow up and yet took not the slightest step to put a stop to their growth.


Hear, hear; 1871.


From 1871 to 1890 is 19 years. During that time the right hon. Gentleman has been in office many years. He has had many opportunities, but there were other purposes which he deemed far more important than dealing with this tremendous evil, which now we are not to be allowed to touch. The right hon. Gentleman challenged me on another point which I thought the strongest point of his case. The right hon. Gentleman thought the County Councils would take the wrong houses—houses that ought not to be bought; he distrusts the discretion of the County Councils; he considers that they will be open to such influences from outside that they will not wish to use this money at all; but almost in the same breath he says that if they use it at all they will buy out the wrong houses.


Bad houses.


If they are bad houses, does the right hon. Gentleman think they ought not to be stopped? [Several hon. MEMBERS: Not bought.] Exactly, that is my point. There is the discretion the County Council will exercise. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite do not seem to trust the County Councils in this matter, but fear they will buy up or give an indemnity to houses the licences of which ought not to be renewed at all. The right hon. Gentleman scoffs at the idea that we leave the discretion of the Magistrates unfettered; but he did not attempt to argue that point and to prove his own case. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with the case of the publicans, and, alluding to a letter which he had received, thought that their particular interests would not be safe-guarded, but that only the big brewers and owners of houses would be dealt with. That is a misconception that has been raised in many quarters; but I can assure the Committee that the desire to secure the interests of the publicans inspired the particular words used in the Bill, which are that all who are interested in the licensed premises shall have their interests recognised. If it is not perfectly clear that the interests of the publican are safe-guarded, words must be introduced so as to make that part of the Bill thoroughly satisfactory. Personally, I consider that just as the owners of the houses have derived a certain equity from the renewal of licences from year to year, so those who have served in the houses have equally acquired an equitable interest, which ought to be taken into consideration in any new arrangement. One bugbear by which it has been attempted to frighten the country is, that the amount involved is two or three hundred millions, as the value of public houses would be enormously increased; but there is no force in the argument. What is the value of a calculation of what is the aggregate value of public houses as a whole, if nobody intends that the whole should be bought up? Neither the present Government or our successors have, or will have, any intention of the kind. No person in his senses ever dreams of such a consummation, not even the jovial prophet of the Temperance Party. What is the object of telling the country there are so many hundred millions at stake? It is in order to mislead public opinion. When the meeting was about to be held in Hyde Park, I saw notices calling upon the people to come in thousands to the Park to protest against "thumping additions to their rates." Now, who pro poses any thumping addition to rates for this or any similar purpose? These are the misrepresentations by which public opinion is worked, and then hon. Members say, "Look at the attitude of the country!" The hon. Member for Barrow spoke of a meeting having been invaded by the organised friends of the licensed victuallers; but there has never been more complete organisation than that of the opposition to this Bill. The expenditure under it has been magnified. It has been said that licences would continue to be issued as at present, and in that way people have been deluded as to the effect of the Bill. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton said that the introduction of the Bill had given additional value to shares in breweries; but I have before me a list of the prices of the shares in several large breweries on April 16 and at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman made his statement in perfect good faith to influence the judgment of the Committee; but what are the actual facts? The quotations for April 16 and the quotations now are the same. I need not go down the list—the Bristol Brewery, Hodgson's, Carter's, the Lion Brewery Company, in all the shares are now at the figure they were at on April 16. In the case of M'Ewans' Company there is a slight increase of 1 or 2 per cent., and so also in Messrs. Guinness' shares; but, if there had been a general increase, that increase would be as likely to be the consequence of an increase in the flourishing condition of trade as to any considerations in connection with this Bill. Messrs. Guinness have no "tied" houses. I am sorry to have detained the Committee on this point; but I wished to show hon. Members the necessity for examining all the statistics that are brought forward on this question. I hope that hon. Members will judge for themselves to what extent the allegations made against our measure are justified. As I have said, there is no case, within my recollection, in regard to which so many misrepresentations—so many organised misrepresentations—have been made against a measure as have been made against this one. I trust, however, that notwithstanding this we shall succeed, and that we shall be able to carry this measure into law.

(7.15.) MR. WADDY

(on rising was interrupted with, continued cries of "Divide!"): I desire to speak in quietness, and with that calmness with which a Debate of this kind should be conducted, and am ready to wait for the opportunity of doing so. A good deal of the argument on either side has consisted of the bandying about of well-worn tu quoques, and this with some hon. Members now seems to form the staple of debate. The course adopted seems to be for the Member who proposes to take part in a discussion to set one or more clerks at work to hunt up speeches on cognate subjects and to pick out certain things that may answer his purpose, and by reading these extracts at length to contribute a patch work speech. I do not think I should have intervened in this discussion but for the fact that last night the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board read to the House a letter from a gentleman well-known to myself, of the name of Chubb. I may be repeating myself, but it is desirable that I should lay down, as I shall lay down whenever the performance is repeated, what is the fact and the truth with regard, not to this gentleman alone, but to everyone who is a member of the Church to which I have the privilege to belong. I have been in the House for many years, and it has been my duty on more than one occasion to refer to this subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), the junior Member for Leicester, other hon. Members, and myself, who was born and brought up in that Church, have as much right as anybody, if any body has a right at all, to speak for members of that Church. But, Sir, no man has a right to do anything of the kind. If any man, be he a Member of the House or not, presumes or pretends to speak on behalf of that Church, he commits an impertinence. We have a distinct and definite way of representing our views; we do it by Committee of Privileges, and the statements of that Committee have been as strong as can be against the Bill. We do it in the legitimate Constitutional way, by the presentation of Petitions, and for days past the House has been flooded with Petitions against the Bill from all parts of the country. I challenge the Government to show one single Petition signed by Wesleyans in favour of this abominable Bill. I daresay I know more of the feeling and opinion in the Church than the Gentleman whose letter was read here last night. I support entirely what was stated last night by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, that through the length and breadth of the country nine-tenths or more of our Members are indignantly opposed to this Bill, and even those who at the last General Election were led astray into becoming Liberal Unionists are returning to their true political position. For this reason I may thank the Government for the course they have adopted, and I hope other Members of my way of thinking may endorse what I have said. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said just now, "We have introduced this Bill because we wish to reduce the number of public houses." Now, I am justified in saying—the language must be Parliamentary, for the right hon. Gentleman used it himself—that that statement was made in order to mislead. If it be Parliamentary, I say that any statement made in the House, or anywhere else, that this Bill was introduced because the Government wish to reduce the number of public houses and promote the cause of temperance, is made in order to mislead, and that no man in his senses believes it. The Bill is to provide for a certain expenditure of money in a particular way, and this is justified because the money is raised in a particular way—by means of Excise. Has the money been raised by taxation fairly or unfairly? If it has been fairly raised it belongs to the nation as much as if you had put on a tax; but if it is unfairly raised, that taxation ought to be struck off at once. We have no right to continue unfair taxation on the one hand, and no right to deal unfairly with taxation that is raised fairly on the other. The excuse that the money is to be spent in a particular way because it is raised in a particular way is inadmissible. It is no more ear-marked for a particular purpose than an extra penny on the Income Tax. I have no wish to detain the House at length, because I know many Members desire to speak, but I wish to refer to a theory stated in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, in doing so, I will take care to avoid other Amendments on the Paper. It is now urged boldly—for some time it was only put forward tentatively—that there really is a vested interest in a licence. Now, whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian used the expressions attributed to him or not, the mere quotation of words or phrases from a speech made in 1880 does not in the slightest degree affect us in 1890. Let us deal with the position as it is. It was said for a long time "We do not say that there is a vested interest," but now, in the most careful way, the admission is going to be made in this Bill, and in the new light we have it is about the most absurd addition to a Bill I have heard of since I have been a Member of the House. You are going to put in a clause to the effect that this Bill shall confer no more rights or powers beyond those now possessed, and you do not say what those rights and powers are. Why? Because the objection was that you were going to give vested interests that are not now possessed according to the decision of a Court of Law. Yon have no justification, and so with a straight face you are going to say nothing of the sort is to be done. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer urges there may be vested interests after all; if so, what is the meaning of the clause? I will confine myself strictly to the point, but I want to draw a contrast, which is instructive. We have heard a great deal lately of another country, not far away, where the people are said to have, not vested interests, but simply a sort of customary right. When we have complained that those people and their children have been turned out of the houses they had themselves built, we have been told that those people had no legal right, that they were told and knew that they were liable to be turned out, and that they should not have spent their money in building houses in face of this. We are told that these people ought to have kept themselves strictly within the law, and have governed their conduct by it. Now, apply that illustration to the case of the public house in the present matter. It is admitted that the publican has no legal right; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer turns round and says that, nevertheless, there is a custom, that we ought to be bound by that custom, and that we would never be wicked enough to turn out into the street people who have calculated upon that custom, and spent their money in the faith that it would be observed. Well, I wish that in the other case there had been a little of that same kind of spirit displayed. It is suggested that this is an important measure from other points of view. Now, I have received an intimation from the County Council of North Lincolnshire, a part of which is in the Division that I represent in this House, objecting to this Bill, and I believe that if we can only get the opinions of County Councils throughout the country an exactly similar opinion will be expressed by the great majority of the Councils. Although these bodies are composed, as we think, to an undue extent of the Tory element, yet as the County Councillors are not Members of this House, they are not bound to vote according to order, so as to save the life of the Government. I have also received a Petition against the Bill from the members of a Primrose League.

(7.30.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

I beg to move that the Question be now put.


I think that an expectation has been formed as to the continuance of this Debate which it would be rather improper, without notice, to falsify. At the same time, I think it right to say that, in my opinion, the respect which should be paid to the rights of minorities must in every instance largely depend on the advantage which the Members of the minority take of the opportunities of discussion, and if, by hanging back and neglecting to offer themselves to take part in the Debate, they lose the opportunity, no complaint can be raised. I have observed on some occasions a neglect in this respect, and I think it most desirable that it should not be repeated in future. Certainly, if Members, Representative Members, do abstain in this way from offering themselves to the eye of the Chair, they will in future understand that they may altogether lose the opportunity of speaking.

(7.33.) MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith)

The Government are greatly exercised because their measure has been called a public house endowment Bill. But it seems to be their wish to create a statutory vested interest in the liquor traffic, and that we absolutely decline to recognise. You propose in your Bill to take public money for what we hold to be illegitimate purposes; money, too, which we desire to apply to the relief of urgent and pressing public wants. What is this but a public house endowment Bill? Licence holders, brewers, and publicans, are practically to have by this Bill fixity of tenure conferred upon them. If the owners of licences choose to retire from business, they will only do so on terms fixed by themselves, or by a Liquor Trust, into the hands of which the whole trade is likely to fall. I hold that this is a sort of endowment which will satisfy the most greedy pensioner of the State. The President of the Local Government Board said that this was not a final settlement of the question. I agree with him. I maintain that the Government proposals constitute no settlement of the question, and that the £350,000 allocated will be but as a drop in the bucket of compensation which will be needed. If you deal with this matter in a fair and square manner, you will need hundreds of millions for the purpose. The Government, under cover of this Bill, seek to figure as supporters of temperance. The extra duty on spirits and beer will, no doubt, be accepted as good on this side of the House, but, after all, that is merely a question of finance, and the burden will fall on the consumer. As to the question of the prohibition of the licences, that can be discussed on its own merits, and it certainly benefits present holders of licences to refuse applications for new licences. The liquor interest is placed by this Bill in an unassailable position. An enormous monopoly will be constituted by it, and this monopoly will be formed into a Trust, or ring, on the most approved American model, recognised and supported by the law of the land. I may say that, so far as Scotland is concerned, it is certain that if the Bill passes into law, it will remain a dead letter. In Scotland they hear much of a plébiscite as to the Church, but I should like to see a plébiscite taken as to compensation for the publican. The Government would not have a Representative returned on that principle. If the proposals of the Go- vernment are not understood now, they will be understood when the occasion arises to put them in force; and I trust that before long it will be the duty of another Government to reverse the policy which we are opposing, and intend to oppose by every means in our power.

(7.45.) MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)

The hon. Member for South Tyrone has twice stated in this House that when Mr. Bruce, now Lord Aberdare, brought forward his Licensing Bill in 1871, the Temperance Party were opposed to it. The hon. Member's words were:—"Mr. Bruce's proposals were scornfully rejected by the friends of temperance." I entirely deny the accuracy of this assertion—the Temperance Party did nothing of the kind. I will give one instance to the contrary within my personal knowledge. When Mr. Bruce's Bill was brought forward in 1871 the publicans and brewing interest convened a great meeting in Paradise Square, Sheffield, for the purpose of abusing the Bill. The Temperance Party took counsel together as to what course should be taken, and determined to move an amendment. They did me the honour of asking me to introduce it; it was seconded by another temperance man, and supported by the leader of the Temperance Party in Sheffield, who, since that time, has in two successive years been Mayor of the borough of Sheffield. The amendment which I moved was— That this meeting, deeply impressed with the appalling ravages of intemperance, hails the introduction of the Government's Intoxicating Liquors Licensing Bill as an earnest effort to grapple with the gravest problem of our domestic legislation; and whilst this meeting cannot approve of all the provisions of that Bill, it rejoices that the Cabinet and Parliament are now pledged to accomplish one of the greatest and most urgent social reforms of the age. Our amendment was distinctly in favour of the Bill, and for our action we were attacked on the platform, and my friend, who has since been Mayor of Sheffield, was obliged to escape by a back door under care of the police in order to avoid the new friends of the Member for South Tyrone. The same conduct on both sides was very common in other places. The hon. Member for Barrow convened a meeting in Liverpool, and was similarly opposed by the brewers and publicans. Indeed, a reference to the records of the United Kingdom Alliance will show that meetings were constantly being broken up by the friends of the publicans. The hon. Member for South Tyrone boasts that at that time, when he sat in that Gallery, he took some course distinguished by its wisdom; but I have conferred with other gentlemen who sat, and still sit, in that Gallery, and they do not agree, nor do I agree, with the hon. Member in his statement as to what took place. The President of the Local Government Board complained that many of the Petitions sent to him emanate from one source. Everybody knows that organisation in these matters is necessary. I hold in my hand a printed letter—50 copies of which, I believe, have been received by one Member of this House—purporting to come from a constituent, and asking me to support the Compensation Clauses, and to secure them being carried without amendment. One argument which has been used in favour of this Bill is that in the valuation of the effects of a deceased publican account is taken of the value of the licence beyond the period which it has to run. On the Second Reading of this Bill the President of the Local Government Board said— It was sufficient for him to know that the value of the licence was taken upon the value for more than one year. But four valuers, whose letters I have here, say they make no such allowance. One firm says— We should not in valuing for probate the effects of a deceased publican include anything on account of the licence beyond the proportion of its cost to the next date of payment, and the others say the same. Now as to the "goodwill" in a licencs as between one tenant and his successor. In a great majority of cases of tied houses, there is no goodwill whatever. In a number of applications for transfers of licences at Sheffield it transpired that none of the applicants had paid anything for the goodwill, with the exception of one, and in that case there was a grocer's shop attached. For that £50 was paid. The effect of the sum of money given for the purpose under this Bill will be very small, and in Sheffield it has been calculated that it will only get rid of eight public houses a year; whereas, without a penny being paid, the number of public houses there has been reduced by 78 in the 10 years from 1879 to 1889, in spite of the growth of population. From 1869 till 1879 the number of licences was only reduced by 32; in the next 10 years it was 78; and now that the case of "Sharp v. Wake field" has been decided it is likely to go on at a greater rate. I wish to show the truth of what I have said about the Bill being for the benefit of the brewer, and not of the bonâ fide publican. Nine-tenths of the licensed houses in Sheffield are tied houses, the tenants of which the brewers can turn out at a short notice without compensation. I asked a publican if he could show me a copy of the agreement between the tenant of a tied house and his landlord; but he writes that it is quite impossible to obtain one, as they were not handed to the tenant, who merely had it read over to him, and signed it in the brewer's office.

He adds— Brewers, also, put people into houses with out paying all the valuation, but they must find personal security for the balance and pay 5 per cent. per annum on the amount. The valuation always is fraudulent and fictitious. There are other brewers who require a bill of sale to be given for the balance owing for valuation…the tenants will not be benefited one iota by the present Bill. It is only the public house property owners and brewers that will receive the compensation money. I have seen a copy of one of these agreements. The tenant is compelled, under a heavy penalty, to buy all his beer from one brewer; he is also made to take over all the fixtures, while if he commits any act likely to cause the loss of the licence, that immediately puts an end to the tenancy. Again, the brewer can bring to an end the tenancy if his tenant is censured by a Chairman of Quarter Sessions, or by any person in authority, for the commission or omission of any act forbidden in this agreement. In another agreement which I have seen, the brewer claims the right to distrain for the value of the beer supplied, in the same way as he could distrain for rent. We have heard the argument of respectable publicans being turned into the streets without compensation; but, as a matter of fact, the brewers have the publicans so tied up that they can and do turn them into the streets by means of the stringent provisions which they insert in their agreements with the occupiers of these tied houses. I repeat that the bulk of the houses in our district of the country are in this condition. The bonâ fide tenants will get nothing of the money unless material changes are introduced into this Bill. They cannot get any of the money, and it is not intended, I believe, that they should get any of the money. They are put forward to excite public compassion and sympathy, but the money will go to the brewers and distillers, who have grown rich upon the misery and degradation of the people, and of the occupiers of tied houses. I am bound to say that the strongest feeling exists in various parts of the country against these proposals. I have had to-day a letter from an intimate friend of mine, who, although a Liberal, is opposed to our Home Rule policy; yet he writes just as strongly on this matter as anybody can. He is one of many who do not usually agree with us who feel most strongly on this question. I hope we shall have the courage and perseverance to persist in our opposition to the Bill to the very last moment.

(8.2.) MR. R. A. ALLISON (Cumberland, Eskdale)

Mr. Courtney, I must confess that it is matter for great regret and disappointment that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have passed over the recommendations now before the House, and treated them almost with contempt and derision. The President of the Local Government Board, no doubt, last night made a strong attempt to show that popular opinion was on his side; but all will agree that the attempt was a lamentable failure. Even the hon. Member for South Tyrone said he could not view these proposals with enthusiasm. I believe that is the prevailing opinion on the other side, although they will vote in the majority. I have observed, in several letters which have been ad dressed by hon. Members opposite to their constituents, that they wished the Government had left this matter alone. Even the hon. Baronet who represents the City of London wrote to the Times that it would have been much better to leave the question alone; but since it had been brought forward he, as a faithful follower, must support the Government. In times of difficulty like the present we naturally look in the Times for the letters of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth), and we have not been disappointed. It is noticeable that the hon. Member urged the Government at all hazards to pass this Licensing Bill at once, and thus prevent the agitation that will arise in every hamlet during the Recess if the question is left unsettled. That does not look as if Her Majesty's Government believe that this is a popular measure. I think the Government will find that this agitation will not go to sleep again, and even though we may be defeated in this House, we will carry the question from one point to another, and no doubt the Temperance Party will take a prominent part in fighting the County Council elections. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken hardly any notice of the proposal to devote this money to education—a proposition which, I venture to say, would be received with acclamation by the whole country. I remember how gladly we received the paltry sum of £5,000 for agricultural education a Session or two ago, and if that sum had been followed by a larger sum, as pro posed in a previous Amendment, I believe it would have done much more for the good of the country than is likely to be done by these proposals. An hon. Member argued the other night that if this money were devoted to education a man would have to drink in order to educate his child. That is the precise proposal which the Government have made. Either we shall have to drink more or further taxation will have to be imposed upon liquor in order to carry out to the full extent the proposals of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he began to perceive symptoms of agitation even before his proposals were laid on the Table of the House. To that statement I can offer an emphatic contradiction. I know that the Organisation to which I belong, the United Kingdom Alliance, distinctly abstained from holding a meeting until they had the Bill in their hands. They held their meeting, studied the Bill, and then commenced the agitation. If there have been misrepresentations, certainly they have not been all on one side. The Chief Secretary wrote a letter in which he stated that this Bill, at all events, prevented the issue of new licences. I think the same claim was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is absolutely untrue to say that. It does not prohibit the issue of new licences. It prevents the issue save in certain excepted conditions, and I venture to say those excepted conditions cover all cases in which licences are now granted. Why, all new licences would come under this clause. The hon. Member for Barrow gave the celebrated instance where a new licence was granted in the town of Bootle, where it was granted against the popular wish. I wish to say a word upon the second part of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby, which says that no right or privilege is given to the holder of a licence other than that now enjoyed by him. But we know that at the present time, in the opinion of the Government, the publican has the right and privilege of having his licence taken away only on the ground of compensation. Would not that be brought forward in the case of the publican, whose licence was proposed to be taken away by the County Council? That would be a right or privilege now enjoyed, and for the purpose of which the Chancellor of the Exchequr has provided the funds. We have been told that no compensation is embodied in this Bill; but the speeches which have been addressed to us from the other side have been entirely upon compensation, and nothing else. The President of the Local Government Board last night said that compensation was pure justice. Therefore, the Government now consider that the publican has the right and privilege of compensation, and what is the use of the Amendment, which declares that he has no right or privilege save that which he now enjoys. I think, myself, that the whole of the system is founded upon fraud and misrepresentation. Let me point out how tied houses exist on a system of fraud and misrepresentation. A Brewing Company takes a house from the owner, and pays him £25 or £30 a year for it. He is put in as occupying tenant at a charge of £18 or £19 a year. That sum is entered on the rate book of the parish. That is a double fraud to to begin with. It is a fraud upon the ratepayers and a fraud upon the Inland Revenue, because if the real rent were made known, an increased Licence Duty would have to be paid. Yet these men, with their hands steeped in fraud, come forward for compensation. No more preposterous claim was ever made upon the British public. I think, myself, that they are entitled to no compensation. Something has been said, very plausibly, I confess, about Public Bodies having bought up public houses and paid compensation for goodwill. That is entirely a different case. It is the case of Public Bodies buying properties which they want to use for the purposes of public improvement. But in this case we are purchasing licences which we do not want to use, but which we wish to put down for the sake of the public morals—which is an entirely different case. Paying compensation for goodwill where a man's business premises were taken for a public improvement is totally different from the present case. This matter was discussed for many years in the United States, where the Supreme Court at Washington held, by a majority of seven Judges to two, that a brewer who had bought his business just before prohibition was enacted was not entitled to compensation from those who had pre vented him carrying on his business. They held that the State had the power of prohibiting such a use by individuals of their property as would be prejudicial to the health and morals of society, and that persons so using their property had no right to compensation when prohibited from doing so. Well, Sir, we have had a very long Debate on this question, but I do not think it has been too long. I think that hon. Members opposite will hear a great deal more of the matter before the question is settled. We have been accused of obstruction; but the Government, who, at a time they have on their hands extensive measures for the pacification of Wales and Ireland, suddenly throw this burning question on the floor of the House, are the true obstructors. I am not at all sure that there is not a majority of the House behind the opposition to this Bill; but, at all events, its opponents mean to make it as difficult as possible to pass this noxious measure. The Government have beaten us on the previous stages, but it will not be so easy for them to do so in the shoals and quicksands of Committee; and if they succeed in doing so, the question will continue to be fought in the country, and in the end, I feel confident, the views of the Opposition will prevail.

(8.20.) SIR R. LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)

With regard to a letter which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brigg Division (Mr. Waddy) has alluded to as having been written by Sir G. Chubb, I may say that I happen to know something of Sir G. Chubb and his family, and I think the remarks of the hon. Gentleman were entirely unwarranted. The hon. Gentleman said Sir G. Chubb was not a representative man, and he thought fit to add remarks which, I think, were unworthy of him. Sir G. Chubb is one of the acknowledged leaders of the Wesleyan Body, and the grandson, or very nearly related, to that famous leader of the Wesleyans, Dr. Bunting. I quite admit there are some Wesleyans who object to the Bill, and some, I know, in my own constituency; but, on the other hand, I know of a considerable number of members of that body in my own constituency and elsewhere who are in favour of the Bill. Unquestionably, whatever else the Bill may do, it clearly must conduce to temperance, because it will extinguish a large number of licences which could not be extinguished by any other means. Indeed, I challenge hon. Members opposite to assert that this Bill will not tend very largely to reduce the temptations to drink which now exist in the country. It is admitted that there is a public necessity for dealing with the evils brought about by this traffic, and that a considerable number of licences ought to be extinguished; but it seems to me that they cannot be extinguished except by some such proposal as is contained in this Bill. Another reason why I give my adhesion to the Bill is that the money for the extinction of licences comes from the drink traffic. There has been a good deal of misrepresentation used by the opponents of the Bill, and one of the most flagrant instances of this is a card which has been circulated by one of the leading Organisations which is working in opposition to the Bill. It is addressed "To the Ratepayers of England," and goes on to say—"Are you prepared to pay a thundering big rate to endow the publicans?" That is not only nonsense, but most pernicious nonsense, for it misleads those who read it, and induces them to go to demonstrations against the Bill in the belief that if the Bill were passed their rates would be raised to endow the publicans. That, I say, is a misrepresentation of a very serious and flagrant character. I wish to speak of the demonstration in Hyde Park with respect. I went there myself, and admired the good conduct of the demonstrators. I may say that the inscriptions on some of the banners struck me as a little commercial in their tone, and as hardly referring accurately to this particular Bill. One of them, for instance, said, "Read the Alliance News. Price, 1d. weekly." I do not see that this had anything to do with the question of this Local Taxation Bill. There is another point to which I wish to call the attention of the Committee. I regretted to see that some of the demonstrationists displayed a spirit that I cannot help describing as vindictive against a class of our fellow-citizens, who, whatever be their failings, are carrying on a legal and legitimate trade. I have here a card on which occurs this curious rhyme— No rates for bloated Bung, We'd sooner see him hung.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

Was that on a banner?


It was on a card; but on many banners I myself saw similar sentiments displayed. I remember one very fine banner which bore the inscription: "Compensation to the publicans—not a bit of it." I could go with the demonstrators to a certain extent there, because this is not a question of compensation, but a question of extinction of licences by purchase for the purpose of promoting temperance. With reference to the vindictiveness to which I have referred, I would appeal to the hon. Member for the Brigg Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Waddy), if he were in his place, to say whether the question has been approached in a Christian spirit. I really do think that a proper spirit has not been displayed; and I would appeal to the Temperance Organisations to drop the excessive vindictiveness against classes which is sometimes displayed in these matters. The hon. Member who spoke last referred to the publicans as men whose hands are steeped in fraud.


The brewers.


Well, either the brewers or the publicans.


I gave an instance of fraud.


Well, I presume that there is no class in this country of which it could not be said that one individual here and there had been guilty of fraud, but to say that, for that reason, the class as a class is guilty of fraud is grossly unjust. It is not the case that either the publicans or the brewers, as a class, are guilty of fraud. They form a class from which we have derived large revenues, and which we have recognised by our laws. I do think that the attempt to stigmatise classes in this way is an attempt which will recoil upon its authors. This method of extinguishing licences has been devised by the Government as an additional means of promoting temperance; and the right possessed by Magistrates at the present moment, with regard to houses which are conducted in a disorderly manner, or licences which are distinctly not for the good of the neighbourhood, is not prejudiced in the slightest degree by this Bill. (8.35.)

(9.10.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway)

I am not going to follow the hon. Member for Kensington (Sir R. Lethbridge) into a description of the banners carried in last Saturday's procession. No doubt a great many of the inscriptions were more humorous than logical. But the hon. Member's main argument was that the processionists and the Temperance Party have been falsely trying to persuade the British taxpayer that they have been taxed to compensate the publicans. There, I think, he was wrong. If, however, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. A. Acland) is carried, the education rate will either be lessened or the people will be able to give their children a better education; while, if the money is spent in the way the Government suggest, the ratepayers may not have to pay the money directly, but they will lose it by an extra education tax, or on their children getting a worse education. But I approach this subject from the point of view of an Irish Member. This is purely the English part of the Bill; later on we shall come to the Irish part. Still, it is to a certain extent appropriate that we and the Scotch Members, whose constituents have to find the money for your Bill, should have a voice in the matter. The money we are now disposing of is wrung from the Irish and Scotch people by the tax on whisky: the tax on whisky is most extravagant, compared with the tax on alcohol on wine and beer. We are asked to decide how this money shall be spent. It is something like the case of the lady who asked the ducks whether they preferred to be boiled or roasted, and the ducks did not wish to be killed at all. I object altogether to the tax on whisky; but if it is levied, and I am asked how the money shall be spent, I prefer it to be spent on English education, instead of upon compensation under this Bill. Therefore, as an Irish Member, I am quite willing to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rotherham. But I look upon this subject from a different point of view than that of hon. Members on this side of the House who have spoken in the Debate. I do not profess to be an extreme temperance man, and I think that if you spend this £350,000 in the compensation of publicans you will injure the publicans themselves. Publicans will not be abolished altogether. No Liberal Government would dare to make any such proposition, and no Conservative Government dare make it without the accompaniment of compensation. As I have said, this compensation will do the publicans the greatest possible injury. £350,000 cannot compensate an interest which is valued at hundreds of millions. Men who have watched the proceedings of the House of Commons know how compensation generally works. Generally if the interests to be compensated are small they receive large compensation; but if the interests are large they get compensation to an infinitesimal degree, and that, I believe, will happen in this case. Again, if we appropriate this money in the manner suggested we shall injure the British public. In the first place, it is proposed that we should abolish a certain number of public houses. It is a very objectionable thing to prevent a man getting a glass of beer or whisky. But you are going to make him pay for the prevention, and therefore you injure him twice over. It seems to me, too, that under this Bill we shall have to go on compensating for ever. Suppose there are 40 public houses in a town and that 10 licences are abolished forthwith. The 30 houses which remain will rise in value. In five, six, or 10 years, unless there is a reaction in feeling, you will abolish 10 more houses, but they will have increased in value. As you go on with the abolition so will the value of the remaining houses rise in value, and you will always be giving the same compensation, even though you reduce the number of houses in number each year. I believe that some people drink too much alcohol, and that others drink too little. It would be an enormous advantage if we could get the consumption equalised, so that people would not take more than is good for them. It appears to me, however, that this Bill will rather tend to an irregularity in the consumption of drink by individuals. Public houses will be improved, and I have no doubt that, in some respects, they will be pleasant places in which to pass the evening. We are all bound to look after the public first, and when we see £350,000 being wasted instead of being applied to educational purposes we must protest against it. I object to this attempt to abolish public houses. I quite agree that no great harm would arise from stopping the issue of new licences, but I object to this attempt to make people sober by Act of Parliament.

(9.21.) MR. J. C. STEVENSON (South Shields)

It cannot be said that this Debate, however protracted, has been overdone. Indeed, the more the Debate is continued the more the Bill in its different aspects is seen through. I shall endeavour not to repeat arguments which have been already advanced, and to approach the matter in a manner in which I think any measure introduced by the Government should be approached. I do not see why the Bill should have been introduced at all. It is an in soluble mystery why the Government should have entered into this knotty and difficult subject, and especially have done so with a light heart. Why did you not leave the question alone? To that question I should be glad of an answer. It is said that this Bill is condemned by temperance advocates, al- though it stops the issue of new licences, except under certain conditions. One of the great evils of the present system is that people who happen to be lucky enough to obtain from magistrates a new licence immediately become possessed of a very valuable property. If the granting of a licence to a house gives the house an increased value, why should not the public get the benefit? Why should not licences be put up to public auction, and given to the highest bidder? The difficulty in which we are placed is that by the negligence of the State a licence, which ought only to be a permission, has become a property of value in the market. Here was an opportunity for the Government. If they had wished to take a step in the right direction, namely, of curing this anomalous system whereby a licence becomes a property, they might have done as Mr. Bruce did 19 years ago, that is, laid down the principle that a new licence should be bought by the licensee from the public, and that the value of the licence should become public property. We shall never settle this licensing question unless that principle is given effect to. Again, we are told that this is an instalment. What is it an instalment of? What is to follow? Not to tell us what is behind shows that the Government have not grasped the whole of this difficult problem as Mr. Bruce did in that statesmanlike measure of 1871, which, unfortunately, did not pass into law. It is said a great public improvement will be effected by the Bill. You can effect a great public improvement by the existing law. In the borough I have the honour to represent a great many old-fashioned public houses lost their trade, and became very miserable places. One licensing day we took away about 40 licences with a stroke of the pen, and not a penny of compensation was given. Some of the licence holders appealed to the Quarter Sessions at Durham, and a good many of the licences were renewed. But the Quarter Sessions refused to renew some of the licences. There was not a penny of compensation given. Why is this not done new? Because Quarter Sessions do not generally sustain the decision of the Local Magistrates. If the Quarter Sessions would do their duty you could effect an enormous public improvement under the present law. I maintain that any Government attempting to touch this question should do away with the anomaly of a licence being a property. It was not so at first. The State regarded the trade as dangerous, and, in the interest of the Revenue, also public houses were licensed. What reason is that that the licence should become a property? As soon as the State saw that; a licence was becoming a property, it ought to have interfered, and said— "If there is any property in a licence, that property belongs to the State." I am much indebted to the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) for reminding us of the history of Mr. Bruce's Bill. I welcomed most heartily the provisions of that Bill as a really statesmanlike attempt to settle the matter. The fact is, that Bill was too good to pass. It is 19 years since it was introduced, and if it had passed, the whole system of licensing could have been cleared away nearly twice over, and with a clean board we might have been enabled to make any provision we thought fit with regard to the question. Let me remind the Committee of what that Bill proposed to do. In some respects, I dare say, my hon. Friend (Sir W. Lawson) and his friends did not like it. It proposed that at the next renewal day every licence if renewed should be renewed not for one year but for 10 years, and that then all expectation of renewal should come to an end. I know extreme men of the Temperance Party said—"Why should we commit ourselves to a continuance of an accursed trade for 10 years, let an end be put to it at once." Well, we have waited 19 years since that time, and we are no nearer the desired end now. Licences were, sup posing the holders conducted their business in a proper way, to be held for 10 years, and to absolutely come to an end, and the State was then to say what should be the proportion of licensed houses to population, and the limited number of licences should be sold, so that the State would have had complete control over the number of licenses, and there would have been an end to arbitrary or capricious action on the part of the Licensing Authorities. The hon. Baronet the Member for Manchester (Sir W. Houldsworth) the other day gave the Temperance Party a warning and said—"Do not repeat the mistake you made with Mr. Bruce's Bill which you rejected and have been sorry for since." If Mr. Bruce's Bill were before us we would welcome it for the principles I have mentioned contained in that statesmanlike measure. The hon. Member for South Tyrone has taken the same line, and says clearly a mistake was made in rejecting Mr. Bruce's measure. In that Bill there was nothing of compensation, which is an unpopular word, and is carefully avoided in the present Bill; but under Mr. Bruce's Bill licenses would have quietly expired by lapse of time, and this irritating point, the payment of public money to buy out interests, would not have arisen. The question naturally arises how many years absolute enjoyment of a licence should be granted instead of what, I think, has been correctly described as the certainty of a year's renewal and a speculative chance for the future. It was never, certainly, anticipated that Parliament would pass an Act bringing all licenses to an end at next renewal day. It is acknowledged there has always been the expectation of a renewal, and Mr. Bruce's Bill settled that the expectation should be converted into 10 years' enjoyment. Now, this was in the nature of a notice to the trade that something of the kind might be expected in the future, and that this was the best allowance they were likely to get. I do not commit myself absolutely to saying what should be the term of years, but it is right there should be a compromise of the kind, and the grand thing is it involves no payment of public money, but provides that at the end of a given term a vicious system shall come to an end, and Parliament shall be free to act. For a period of 10 years there are precedents in analogous cases. In 1867 our Foreign Office had correspondence with the French Government in reference to the unequal treatment of French and English shipping in French ports, and the Foreign Office called upon the French Government to put an end to this. In the course of a considerable correspondence the French Government represented that they had cause for complaint, in as much as in our ports there was a certain privileged class of citizens called freemen, who did not pay any duties at all, and they called upon our Government to put an end to this anomaly. So in the end our Government brought in and passed the Harbour Dues Exemption Abolition Bill. In the case of a New castle collier owner the abolition of the exemption amounted to a loss of £40 a year on each, ship, so that on a fleet of 10 ships it meant a trade loss of £400 a year. How did Parliament deal with the case? An average was taken of the amount saved by the exemptions over three years, and Parliament said, "If you live so long we will allow you that amount of exemption for 10 years, and no longer. Now, that, you may say, was a case of confiscation. These traders were en titled to the exemption all their lives, yet Parliament, in the interest of International trade, thought proper to put an end to the privilege on the basis of a 10 years' compromise. Surely these persons had an infinitely stronger claim than the mere expectancy and probability of an annual renewal of a licence. Then, again, in reference to the harbours of refuge at Bridlington and at Ramsgate a similar course was pursued, and when the privilege of exemption from tolls was abolished, those who enjoyed the privilege were allowed a 10 years' enjoyment before it was brought to an end. Yet another instance is furnished in the case of pilotage dues. Up to 1871 pilots had the right to charge double fees on foreign ships, but when, in 1861, Government put an end to the anomaly, pilots had to submit to an end of these double fees in 10 years, although the right was, undoubtedly, secured to them for their lives. Another case of Parliamentary interference with vested rights is supplied in connection with the town I represent, where Parliament stepped in and abolished a system of 21 years' leases with renewals that had become so much a certainty that 23 years' purchase was given for a 21 years' lease. Lessees who had devoted their capital to the construction of docks, quays, and ware houses, had to face the refusals of leases. Parliament in this case also compromised the matter by allowing a fixed period of possession in lieu of perpetual renewal. I mention these as analogous cases—which are yet not analogous, because the claims of the possessors of these privileges were infinitely stronger than mere expectancy in the case of licence holders—as indicating the lines upon which legislation should proceed, lines such as were laid down in Mr. Bruce's Bill. It would be far better to let things go on for some time longer, waiting until some Government shall come into office and approach this subject in a permanent and statesman like way.

(9.40.) MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

As it is not possible for me to vote for the Government proposal, I take this opportunity for a few remarks in explanation on the Amendment, as it involves the main principle of the whole Bill. When it is alleged that the Bill is brought forward in the interests of temperance I should like to know a little more of the circumstances under which the Government have embarked on the enterprise, and who it is that really claims the paternity of the Bill. I have not heard any Member of the Government speak of it as his child at all. If it is really brought forward to promote the cause of temperance a greater mistake was never made. I do not believe it is in the power of this House to strike a fatal blow at the cause of temperance, for I do not believe it is possible for anybody to do that, but it is a question whether a more disastrous blow could be struck at that cause than by this Bill becoming law. I notice that the President of the Local Government Board expressly stated yesterday that the Government have not, at any time, professed that this Bill could be considered in any proper sense as a proposal for the complete settlement of the liquor question. Then why make the proposal at all? I do not know if there exist conditions under which this vexed question can be settled. I do not lay the blame upon the President of the Local Government Board; I know that the blame lies at the door of the leaders of the Temperance Party. If they would make a fair and reasonable offer, the question could be settled without such a Bill as this. Even now, I venture to hope they may consider some alternative, which it rests with them to propose, for if this Bill passes, and remains operative, few of us will live to see any real reform in the way of temperance legislation. It is, I believe, quite possible to re-model the Bill in a way which would, in the lives of most of us, lead to a complete reform, and give to the communities the power of controlling the whole of the public houses of the United Kingdom. It is said the Bill pledges the country to an expenditure of something like £200,000,000. [No, No! I do not care whether it is £200,000,000 or only £20,000,000; that is a question of degree in what I am bound to call the folly we are exhibiting. The real question is, Need we pay the publicans any compensation at all? I venture to think it would be easy to come to terms with the publicans, and get the public houses into our hands within a reasonable time, and without the payment of any compensation at all. Have the publicans, in fact, any sort of right to make such a claim, and have they ever made it? Well, I do not know that publicans have made any claim, other than that their property should not be recklessly confiscated. They say:—"We have been induced by the law to invest large sums in property of this character; and what we ask is, if you alter the law you should at least give us time to make other arrangements." I am not entitled to speak for them, but I think they would be satisfied with the continuance of their licences for 20 years. As the hon. Member for Shields has said, since the last proposal was made we have waited nearly 20 years for reform. May we not reasonably expect that we may have to wait another 20 years for the realisation of a reform now? If there is any force in that argument it is only common wisdom to meet the inevitable, and secure to the community the interest in licences at the end of that period of 20 years. This is a matter the leaders of the Temperance Party would do well to consider—I mean the possibility of an indefinite postponement of any settlement. I know no reason why publicans should not be thus fairly dealt with. I am astounded at the way I hear that body spoken of, not so much by hon. Members in this House, as elsewhere by the more rabid leaders of the Temperance Party. For a series of years publicans have carried on their trade under the conditions imposed upon them by the law, and have invested large capital in the expectation that their licences would be renewed year by year. I would call the attention of the hon. Member for Shields, who spoke of the number of licences refused in one small town, to the fact brought out by statistics put before us that only in the proportion of one house to 2,000 has a licence been refused renewal on the ground that it is not required in the neighbourhood. The chances, then, are 2,000 to one that if a publican has conducted his business properly, he will have his licence renewed.

MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)

In Great Britain?


Yes. From the Returns furnished I find that is about the pro portion. Now, what will be the effect of the present clause? The district which I represent would receive about £3,000 a year from the amount proposed to be allocated to London for the purpose pro posed, and I need scarcely say that that is not sufficient for the purchase of even one large public house; I say that it would take 40 years to extinguish one quarter of the licensed houses in the district, with the sum of £120,000. It must be within the knowledge of every Member of the Committee that not one London public house in six is the property of the publican, and in not ten instances in a hundred have the publicans 10 years' interest in their occupation. I will venture to say that of the £120,000 which would be expended in extinguishing licences in Camberwell under this clause, £119,000 would go into the pockets of brewers and distillers, who have the deepest interest in this Bill. I do not know what claim they put forward. They have chosen to invest their money in a particular class of property, in order to promote the sale and manufacture of a particular article in which they have no monopoly, and I take it that, if they are sensible men, they will be satisfied with a 20 years' vested interest. I ask the Committee to consider how different the position would be if the Government, instead of bringing in this halting Bill, which will take 160 years to bring about an extinction which could be accomplished in 20 if the Government were not restrained by timidity, had brought in a Bill dealing equitably with the interests of publicans and of the general community. How much better would it be for all but the brewers and distillers. As it is, I am not quite sure that much is going to be done for anybody. I do not know in what final form this Bill may be passed, bat, taking it as it stands, will it last for 40 years, or even 10 years? I do not think it will last for five years, and, inasmuch as it will be considered a Bill to secure the perpetuation of the rights of brewers and distillers, I think it will be followed by an Act for a general confiscation of the rights of the publicans. The Bill cannot be said to be likely to do much good, while it is likely to introduce further troubles and obstructions in the way of a final settlement. I am in the unfortunate position that I must vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rotherham, because I believe the public will gain little or nothing under the Bill, and that while it may be intended to advance the cause of temperance, which we all have at heart, it will deal not a fatal, indeed, but still a most disastrous blow to that cause.

(9.52.) SIR H. SELWIN-IBBETSON (Essex, Epping)

I am puzzled by much that has fallen from the hon. Member who has just spoken, puzzled because at one moment he seemed to be blessing the publicans altogether, and at the next moment to be cursing them from his inmost heart. The 20 years he proposes looks as if he does not agree in the views of the Temperance Party on the other side, and the adherence he expressed to the doctrine based upon the uncertainty of tenure by publicans looks as if, on the other hand, he agreed with the assertions made above the Gangway opposite. I have been mixed up, if I may use the expression, with this subject for many years, and one of the things that has astounded me more than anything else in this discussion is the change that has come over Members' minds in regard to this question. I remember when I first introduced a Bill in 1869, at that time beer houses with "off" licences were under the control of the Excise, not of the Magistrates. They were free from all police control, and the Excise were interested in granting the greatest possible number of licences, and my effort was to place them under the Magistrates and the control of the police. Mr. Bruce sent for me just before the time when my Bill was coming on for Second Reading, and put before me the proposals of the Government and four conditions which I felt forced to accept, and which practically gave to a large part of the trade that perpetual tenure which is now so much objected to on the other side. It was pointed out, and very properly argued, that even in regard to whole licences their actual legal position was that of holders of licences from year to year, and that is argued now But people who use that argument forget the long-standing custom which has over-ridden the actual law—a custom which has been recognised by statesmen on both sides of the House on more than one occasion. In the Bill brought in under the auspices of Mr. Bruce, if Members will refer to the 44th section, I think they will find support for the argument I am trying to put before them. In that section a publican is not legally required to come before the Magistrates to make application for the renewal of his licence, and can only be obliged to appear personally to obtain renewal if he has misconducted himself, and opposition to renewal has, in consequence, been lodged against him. Surely, this is distinctly a point in favour of the position that custom has so far become a fact in regard to these licences that, having practically persuaded men to invest their money in them, it is not considered fair that they should be deprived of their licences, except for misconduct in carrying on their business. In my judgment, this Bill does go far to promote the cause of temperance. By the check to the issue of new licences and transfers the number of licences will be reduced in the near future. The tendency of the Bill, I venture to say, will be to put the trade into good hands. Good conduct will be promoted in the houses which remain, and in that way it will do more to carry out the views advocated by the Temperance Party than they would themselves succeed in doing in the coming generation by carrying out the violent crusade advocated by the advanced section of that Party.

(9.58.) SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

The right hon. Baronet, than whom no one is better able to speak of the successive changes of the public mind on this question, and no one appreciates the efforts he has made in the cause of temperance, more than I do, has spoken with truth of the change in the public mind upon this great question during his time, and the reason, I think, is not far to seek. When he and I entered the House the liquor interest was enormously over-represented in Parliament, while the people who suffered from that interest were hardly represented at all. The change in the representation is the real cause of the change in the public mind. But, to whatever cause we ascribe it, the change has been immense. I do not congratulate the hon. Member for Camber-well (Mr. Kelly) on his independence, because I think this is a question upon which it is every man's duty to be independent, but I do congratulate him upon having thoroughly studied this subject, though some of his conclusions differ from mine. I agree with him that the passing of the Bill will be a disastrous blow to the aspirations and hopes of the Temperance Party, which have been growing for so many years. More than ever do we know that. Till the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening, up to this time, in the Debates on this question, the downright defence of the publican's absolute vested right in his licence has been chiefly confined to hon. and learned Gentlemen, whose business it has been so often to argue the question before the Courts that they have, perhaps, forgotten its broader aspect. I am glad to say that many of my hon. and learned Friends have now taken a broader view. This evening, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has delivered a plain, unadulterated speech against the right of the nation to make reduction without compensation. That speech was nothing less than a blow struck straight at the present right of the Magistrates to take away licences at the annual Licensing Sessions. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is right, what is the use of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Grimsby, which has been accepted by the Government, and which provides that Nothing in this Act shall he construed as altering the existing law affecting the renewal of licences, or giving the holder of any licence any right or privilege other than that which he now enjoys. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is an absolute reply to those who charge us with having calumniated the Government by saying that this is a compensation Bill. It fully justifies the brewers and distillers, in their official organ, terming it an official recognition of compensation. This is the very worst compensation Bill which was ever brought before Parliament. The hon. Member for Cirencester has well illustrated that. Here is a village with six public houses—one of them, doing a business of £300, is bought up by the County Council. It is paid for on the basis of the net profits, which are-represented by the difference between the gross receipts and the working expenses, and the profits also constitute the difference in value between a licensed house, and one without a licence. Well, the business of the house which is bought up is absorbed by the remaining five houses, the profits of which are consequently increased; so that if the County Council subsequently tries to buy them up it will have to pay, not merely for the amount of the business which they did at the time the first house was bought, but also they will have to pay over again for the business of the house which was first purchased, because it will have been added to the business of the remaining houses. And, as those houses will have their staff and working; machinery in existence, what was gross profit to the extinguished house will he net profit to them, and their value will be raised very much beyond the value of the compensation given to the extinguished house. And so the process would continue with all six houses. I think that argument is absolutely unanswerable. What happens in a single locality will happen all over the country. If the liquor interest is worth £200,000,000, and if we spend £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 in buying up public houses, we shall have more than £200,000,000 still to buy up. It has been truly observed that this is a worse case than the case of the Sibylline books, for we shall not only have to buy up the books which remain, but shall also have to pay the price of all those which are destroyed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian said this was a payment out of public money in a manner most improvident and most ruinous. It is, in fact, an elaborate arrangement for the nation to make a bad bargain; for the worst bargain which can be made is a bargain with several people. When one man has been settled with, No. 2 will step forward to take advantage of the position. Another reason why we have such an intense feeling against the Bill is, that it will open an immense field of jobbery for the benefit of the brewers. I was shocked to hear the other day that six or seven brewers had already obtained seats on one County Council, and we may be sure these Gentlemen have in anticipation the day when they will be able to induce the County Councils to buy up certain public houses, and thus increase the value of the remaining ones. Public houses are already falling into the hands of the large brewing companies. Take the case of Samuel Allsopp & Co. I will just read one sentence from the Report of the gentleman who was making the case for Allsopp's Brewery at a meeting reported in this morning's papers. No power on earth will convince me that Allsopp's brew bad beer. That is not the reason why the firm is not so prosperous as it might be. This is the explanation of the Chairman— We have also considered the altered circumstances of the brewery business in regard to the tied trade, and we think it is necessary in the interests of the shareholders that the policy of tying houses, as regards this business but recently commenced, shall be continued and increased. That means, what many of us knew long ago, that honest brewers who brew good beer, and try to sell it in the open market, can make little or nothing of it on account of the manner in which these houses are in the hands of people who do not appear before the Bench of Magistrates to get the licence. The Secretary of the Local Government Board is an admirable debater, and he rallied us on our feeling against the publicans. The truth is we are now beginning to understand the question of the liquor traffic in a way it has never been understood before. The pamphlet of Mr. James, the President of the Ply mouth, Devonport, and Stonehouse Spirit, Wine, and Beer Trade Protection Society, gives us a perfect revelation on this question. It is one of the most striking pamphlets ever written, and any one who reads it will find that there has been existing in our midst a system of white slavery. He gives us striking in stances of publicans who are in such a position that, in order to pay their rents and the interest on their mortgages, they have to conduct their houses under circumstances which no honest man or woman could possibly approve, and which, in many cases, are almost indescribable. It is bad enough for a man to have to do forced labour for the profits of others, but it is still worse when that labour consists in ruining innocent homes and in corrupting the morals of their fellows. I will just read one short story which will show what we mean when we say we are voting against the brewer and not against the publican. According to this pamphlet there stood within the limits of the Plymouth garrison a fully-licensed house, belonging to a brewery, and which in five years was let to no fewer than five different persons. Each of the first three on finding out the class of business he had been induced to take, got out as quickly as possible, a sadder and wiser, if not a richer man. The fourth determined somehow to make a living, and established a singing-room, which females of the class likely to visit such places were encouraged to frequent. The house was described as a horrible den of debauchery, and the police becoming aware of the character of the business warned the publican that if he did not alter his conduct the licence would be in jeopardy. The tenant left the house, and was succeeded by another person, but at the annual Licensing Session evidence was given of the disgraceful manner in which the business of the house was conducted, and the Magistrates refused to renew the licence. What was the result? An appeal was made to Quarter Sessions, ostensibly on behalf of the tenant, but really on behalf of the brewers, and the licence was renewed. Now, the owners of this house must have known perfectly well how the business was conducted, but they evidently did not care so long as the profits of their trade were increased to a considerable extent. It is the brewers we are really called on to compensate and not the publican. There are many, of whom I am one, who would willingly settle this question, giving the publican some sort of compensation for disturbance, but that would be to pledge the House to thousands and hundreds of thousands, whereas under this Bill we shall be pledged to millions and hundreds of millions. This is not a question of temperance fanatics. The great mass of the people of this country feel strongly. They do not see why monopolists, who have made so much money by their monopoly, should not only be allowed to keep their gains but should be paid their capital value as well. My own belief is that there has been no expression of public opinion in favour of this measure outside the House except from interested people. The right hon. gentleman read across the table a telegram stating that 2,000 people at Bridgeton-cross, in an open-air meeting, carried a resolution in favour of the Government proposals. Now, the open-air meeting was advertised by the Temperance Party. It came on to rain, and the meeting was held in a large hall, where resolutions were carried enthusiastically, and almost unanimously, against the Government proposals. Afterwards, when the weather had cleared up, the people went outside and again passed the same resolutions, but in the interval, while it was raining, some 20 or 30 people made some demonstration in favour of the Government, and that is all the ground upon which these leaders of the people telegraphed up to the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman quoted Liverpool as being in favour of the Bill. It may be so, because Liverpool is the most unhappy of all great cities in being the most publican ridden city probably in the world at this moment. It is a city where, under this odious and hateful system, the property has got into a very few hands—I might almost say into the hands of one man. I do not deny that much of the income obtained from it has been so used as to identify in Liverpool the liquor interest with ideas of magnificence and public spirit, and even of religion. But I feel certain that the public see through this thin veneering of public spirit on the part of these rich monopolists, not because they are temperance fanatics, but because they are citizens with a sense of equity—a sense of what is due to them selves and to their fellow citizens, and they are therefore heartily in sympathy with us in voting against these clauses which will give sanction and permanence to this indefensible privilege.

(10.30.) MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Stockport)

This Amendment is a remarkable one; on its negative side, it goes to the root of the principle of the Bill; and on its positive side, it devotes £350,000 to the purposes of education, without the recommendation of a Minister of the Crown. The Debate is even more remarkable, for anyone coming into the House accidentally would imagine that we were engaged, if you were not in the Chair, on the SECOND READING, for the discussion has wandered over every part of the Bill, and has chiefly turned on what is not in the Bill at all. While the Bill does not in any way what ever lead to depriving a man of his licence, with or without compensation, the whole Debate has turned upon the propriety of giving the man compensation who has been deprived of his licence. It has been contended that you have no right to compensate a man un less he has a legally vested interest. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian laid down distinctly that a publican—he evidently meant the wider statement, that a man—is not entitled to be compensated by reason of his suffering from a contingency which is existent under the law at the time when he enters upon his occupation. He takes the occupation subject to the risks attendant under the existing law. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman laid down that he cannot be entitled to compensation. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman will not say that one law should be applied to the publican and brewer, and another to other men in a similar position. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's conclusion is based on the general premise that the publican should not be so compensated. But the right hon. Gentleman himself has set a remarkable precedent. In 1870 he took up the case of the Irish tenant for the first time. Now, the Irish tenant was liable under the law, as it stood, to be dispossessed of his holding on six months' notice; he took his tenancy subject to that contingency; and, therefore, on the broad principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman he could not be entitled to compensation if he were deprived of his holding by legal process. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman, supported by a large number of hon. Members opposite, carried a law under which an Irish tenant thus dispossessed of his holding should receive compensation. Surely that was fatal to the principle he now lays down. Let us take another case—the abolition of purchase in the Army. There was a large number of officers in the Army who bought their commissions with the knowledge that those commissions were really for one year only, because unless the Mutiny Act be renewed every year—and it is quite within the discretion of Parliament to refuse to renew it—the Army would disappear and the commissions would be worthless. The officers bought those commissions, giving larger sums than the legal cost for them, subject to that contingency; but when the right hon. Gentleman put an end to the system of purchase he gave to those officers as compensation the illegal value of their commissions. With these precedents, which are surely on all fours with the present case, how can hon. Members, and least of all the right hon. Gentleman himself, now contend that those who are interested in public houses are not en titled to compensation if their occupation is taken from them through no fault of their own, because they hold only for the year, and the Magistrate has absolute discretion as to renewing. As regards "absolute discretion," that does not mean an arbitrary discretion; the discretion must be used judicially. I will now deal with the three points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton as well as I can. The right hon. Member for Bridgeton has said that under this Bill the County Councils would get nothing for their money, but that they would rather sustain a loss. The hon. Gentleman took the case of a village in which there were six public houses; the County Council bought one of them at which £300 a year was spent, and asking what would be the result to the other five, said the £300 would then be spent in them, and thus the value of the remaining houses would be increased. He further pointed out that the £300 would be spent in the remaining houses, the proprietors of which would not be required to engage extra servants to meet the extra demand; so that in their case the £300 would be a net profit, while it had been only a gross profit in the case of the house purchased. But the right hon. Gentleman protested too much. If the result of putting an end to one house is that the money spent in that house will be spent in the others that remain, what is the use of diminishing public houses at all? To do any good at all in the cause of temperance in that case it would be necessary to do away with every public house in the country. But is that feasible or desirable? I do not think the argument will commend itself to the senses of the House. The next argument of the right hon. Member was that the Bill is an elaborate arrangement for the County Councils, or the country through them, to make a bad bargain, because there are at least two or three persons interested in every public house, and when one has been bought out the others will be able to raise their prices. Well, there is scarcely any property whatever, either in London or out of it, in which several persons are not interested. The County Councils would, of course, engage good business men to carry out the work of purchase for them, and no business man would be guilty of the folly of dealing with any separate owner unconditionally. They would approach them as nearly as possible simultaneously. They would begin with the freeholder, or long leaseholder, and, having got the whip hand, they would be able to deal very shortly with the publican. If a publican takes a house and conducts it badly, the Magistrates do not refuse to renew the licence of the brewer, if he puts in a man to conduct it respectably. But the right hon. Gentleman says he would not compensate the brewer who built the house or valued the property; he would compensate the publican. But is a man who has so conducted his business as to jeopardise the property of another to be compensated? He is just the man that ought not to be compensated, and the suggestion that such a scoundrel should be compensated comes from the right hon. Gentleman himself, and is not to be found in this Bill. He complains that the Quarter Sessions have upset the decisions of the Local Licences Committee. That may be a good reason why we should alter the law with regard to Quarter Sessions; but it is no reason why a publican should not have the value of his property, if it is taken away from him, just as everybody else has under similar circumstances. When I hear these things said about property, I am reminded of what Macaulay wrote of the Puritans' dislike to bull baiting. He said they put an end to bull baiting not because they cared for the bull, but because they hated the Cavaliers who engaged in the sport. So in this instance, it seems to me, that opponents of the Bill are actuated more by hatred of the brewers than by love of the cause of temperance. This Bill is going to give a moderate sum of money year by year to County Councils to enable them to improve the moral aspect of our towns as they are now enabled to effect physical improvements. If the County Councils pull down property, including public houses, for the purpose of affecting street improvements, they have to give full compensation and 10 per cent. added. If they wish to get rid of a publican to improve the moral aspect of the town at present they are powerless. This Bill gives them the power and the money to make a fair bargain with the owner of a licence, and, of course, unless they can make a fair bargain, they will not deal with him. I know of a very strong case which occurred in a village of Scotland where the inhabitants of two towns on either side of it could go to drink on a Sunday. The people asked the Magistrates to get rid of it, but they were unwilling to deprive the owner of his means of living. ["Name."] I shall not give the name. I am giving the instance. The name is immaterial. I say that if these Magistrates could have given the man £100 to start some other kind of business; they would have been able to get rid of the house. You may depend upon it, Sir, that there is a great deal of kindly feeling among people, even with regard to publicans, and they would be very loth to deprive a man of his livelihood without compensation. By the proposal of the Bill you would get rid of a considerable number of public houses which, though not bad enough to come under the censure of the Magistrates, are yet such as could be very well dispensed with. I will not, detain the House. [Cries of "Go on."] As I am so earnestly desired, I will say one word more. It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman that if the County Councils included brewers it would be a very shocking thing, as if brewers were beyond the pale of humanity, and that it would only open the way to jobbery. For years the efforts and aspirations of the right hon. Gentleman have been devoted to the cause of Local Government, yet he cannot trust the County Councils because the people, who have a right to return whom they like, may return brewers, and that, therefore, these bodies cannot be trusted to prevent jobbery. They must not have this small sum, because they cannot use it in an honour able and upright manner. I have not the same distrust of County Councils as the right hon. Gentleman, and I have a great deal more faith in them than he has. I hope the House will carry this clause by a large majority.

(10.50.) SIR W. HARCOURT

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who has just sat down has observed that this Debate has turned entirely upon the question of compensation. That is so, not merely upon this side, but on that side of the House. Every hon. Member who has defended this Bill has found it necessary to defend the principle of compensation. Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer founded his argument upon the propriety and necessity of compensation; if this measure has nothing to do with compensation, why should the right hon. Gentleman have thought it necessary to take up the cudgels for the principle of compensation? But then there is the great temperance authority, who is also a supporter of this Bill—the hon. Member for South Tyrone—who says that he will support the Bill, because he wishes to see the principle of equitable compensation affirmed. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian that we need not trouble ourselves very much about the consistency of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. I will refer to some of the tu quoques of the Chancellor of the Exchequer directly. I am bound to say that when I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer rise, except with his Budget, I know that four-fifths of his speech will be founded on that convincing argument the tu quoque, and he has become such a master of that argument that he scarcely employs any other weapon. As to the hon. Member for South Tyrone, my hon. Friend the Member for the Cockermouth Division quoted his speech of two years ago denouncing the wickedness of the Bill of 1888; but that Bill was also, I presume, a Bill for equitable compensation. I am quite sure that he would not deceive his friends and allies by introducing a Bill for any compensation if it was not equitable. Why the hon. Member thought it necessary to oppose so vehemently the Bill of 1888, and to support with equal fervour the Bill of 1890, they both being Bills providing for equitable compensation, I am unable to understand or explain. But that, after all, is not a matter of very great consequence. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought fit to make an attack upon the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and also upon a much more humble individual, myself; and he stated, as other hon. Members opposite up and down the country have stated, that I have made speeches in favour of compensation. But one thing I have remarked, that none of those hon. Members have quoted a single line from any of my speeches in favour of compensation. I have never learned the law as it has been laid down by the present Law Officers of the Crown. I have always understood the law to be—and I took it seven years ago upon the authority of the then Law Officers of the Crown—as it was laid down in the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield," and I then stated, speaking for the Government of that day, and standing where the Chancellor of the Exchequer stood when he charged me with maintaining the principle of compensation, that no ease had been made out for giving compensation on the extinction of licences. There is my answer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's tu quoque. As far as I can recollect, I defy the right hon. Gentleman to show that I have ever said any thing inconsistent with that statement. I am not going on the present occasion to enter into the details of this Bill, which have been very fully discussed; but I think that it will be of some little interest to speculate and to conjecture as to the real origin of this Bill. I confess that throughout these discussions I have felt a certain sympathy for the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board for having the conduct of this Bill. I confess I do not attribute the origin of this Bill to the right hon. Gentleman. I have always observed a sort of popular fibre about him which has always led me to feel that he is a Liberal accidentally gone astray. Therefore, I do not attribute the origin of this Bill to the right hon. Gentleman. I think it originated in a more ingenious and subtle brain, and I should attribute the origin of it rather to the right hon. Gentleman who sits near him, and who I should describe as an accidental Liberal, who has now returned to his natural fold. But the right hon. Gentleman has entered that fold as a sort of Sinon, and he has landed in the middle of the Tory camp a wooden horse, which his Colleagues will find to be rather a troublesome gift brought to them by the perfidious Greek. This Bill appears to me to be a sort of a thoroughly Liberal Unionist scheme, and what I mean by that is that it is not a Liberal scheme, and not a Tory scheme, but that it is a Liberal Unionist scheme, which pretends to be one thing and actually is another; and I do not know anyone more likely to have invented and perfected a scheme of that kind than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No doubt it has been devised for the purpose of aiding the cause of temperance. But it is so devised that, in the opinion of all who have studied the temperance question, it will produce exactly the opposite effect. But if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is too modest to assume to himself the whole credit of this plan, I daresay he may have been assisted also by his fertile and ingenious Colleague who generally sits on these Benches—I mean the right hon. Member for Birmingham. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham has so many plans I think it possible this may be another. Then, in order to complete the system, there is always the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who is ready to be godfather to this or to any other misbegotten progeny, I think, then, that I have attributed the origin of this Bill to the proper quarter. I think that we should be rather interested to know what that combination has determined in secret conclave to-day as to its future course. We have heard of one meeting which had a disastrous result, and now there has been another meeting to determine what those who were present at the first meeting shall do at the third meeting. That my contention was not altogether unfounded has been proved by the statement to-night that the Government are prepared to amend their Bill, and are going to accept an Amendment, and that Amendment comes from the Gentleman who sits at the end of this Bench—another illustrious genius—my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage). He is the only person equal to the task of amending the Bill. It happens that one of the chief questions under discussion in this Bill is whether or not the proposals of the Government will interfere with the jurisdiction of the Magistrates, or, if they do not interfere with it legally, whether they will so operate as to give a claim to licensed houses which, in fact, they do not at present possess. Well, Sir, there were several Amendments to meet that on this Paper. There was an Amendment which I took the liberty of putting down. I will say nothing about that. But there was the Amendment put down by the hon. Baronet opposite, the Member for one of the Divisions of Manchester (Sir W. Houldsworth), who speaks in this House as a representative of the Church of England Temperance Society. That is an Amendment which, if any Amendment were of avail at all, certainly declares that— Nothing in this Act, or any agreement made there under, shall he deemed to recognise any right or claim of any person to receive compensation.

VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, N.E., Darwen)

I rise to order. I wish to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is speaking to the Question?


The right hon. Gentleman is garnishing the subject, but he is not out of order.


It is a subject that requires some garnishing, I think, although the noble Lord does not seem to like the sauce with which I am dressing it. Now, I venture to say that what I am about to observe is perfectly germane to what the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has said. He referred to the Amendment of my right hon. Friend on this Bench as the Amendment which was to give security against the fears we entertain of the consequences of this Bill. I may say that there was an Amendment in strong, plain, definite terms on this subject put down by the hon. Baronet the Member for Manchester (Sir W. Houldsworth) as showing the arguments of the Church of England Temperance Society, and that Amendment the Government have rejected.


What right has the right hon. Gentleman to say that?


I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why I say they have rejected it. They cannot accept two Amendments on the very same subject; if they accept the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby, they cannot accept the Amendment of the hon. Baronet opposite.


The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby was the first Amendment on the subject on the Paper, and it seemed to the Government fully to carry out the intention of my hon. Friend behind me, of whom the right hon. Gentleman has spoken; but if the Amendment of my hon. Friend will reconcile the right hon. Gentleman to the Bill, I think there will be no difficulty in our accepting it.


I am delighted that I am going to rob my right hon. Friend of the honour of amending the Government proposal. I have taken the precaution, as the right hon. Gentleman will see on the Paper, of amending my right hon. Friend's Amendment by striking out his words and putting in the words of the hon. Baronet the Member for Manchester. I am very glad, therefore, to hear that we have got rid of the weak liquor of my right hon. Friend, and that we have made a little better blend of it. So far, so good. Well, now, a great deal has been said upon a matter which is of great importance—upon the operation of this Bill as it will affect the brewer and the publican. That is a very material question. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed an intention of making pro vision for the publican as distinguished from the brewer; but I think it is a very great pity, if he intends to do that, that he has put down no Amendment on the Paper. Gentlemen opposite complain of the length to which these Debates go; but, surely, if the Government wish to shorten them, they should put upon the Paper those Amendments which they intend to press by argument. I got a letter the other day upon a case, which is not an imaginary case such as the hon. Member who has just sat down has spoken of. There was a woman who kept a small free public house. The owner sold it to the brewer, who gave a considerable sum for it. The whole of the money was divided between the brewer and the owner, and the woman who kept the house was turned out and got no compensation. If the brewer and the owner give no compensation to their tenant, it seems to me that they are the last persons in the world who ought to set up a claim to this compensation. With reference to this Bill, I complain of the conduct of the Government in this respect. They complain that we are wasting time over this Bill. Well, Sir, I am very sorry that we are spending time over it; I would much rather have spent time over other Bills which were mentioned in the Queen's Speech. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), in a lucid interval of indignation against the Government, asked the other day whether it was intended to proceed with Bills not mentioned in the Queen's Speech before Bills which were mentioned. I would much rather we were discussing the Employers' Liability Bill, or a Bill relating to the public health of the Metropolis, or to the dwellings of the working classes, or Friendly Societies. All these were in the Queen's Speech, and yet here we are dis- cussing a Bill sprung upon us in a Supplementary Budget by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Government complain of the opposition we are offering to this Bill. They have received counsel from outside that they should force this Bill through the House by means of the Closure and all other available resources I am bound to say to the best of their ability they have followed that advice. Night after night and time after time we have seen the leader of the House getting up to move the Closure, and he has been met by the rebuke—the deserved rebuke of the Speaker or the Chairman. ["No, no!"] It is no use to deny it, because it is entered upon the Journals of the House. It has happened on former nights—it has happened to night. What are the reasons that are given for rushing this Bill through the House? ["Oh!"] Yes, you have not succeeded, and you will not, but it is not for want of trying. The reasons given for forcing on this Bill and endeavouring it to get it out of the way have been most frankly and even cynically avowed. It is said that it is so unpopular that you must get rid of it as soon as possible. That is quite true in regard to its unpopularity. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill has read us some extracts from a newspaper. I will read an extract from the leading organ of the Liberal Unionist Party in the West of England, the Western Morning News. That organ of the Liberal Unionist Party says:— It is becoming daily more evident that the details of the Bill, as it stands, are creating profound dissatisfaction. Liberal Unionists feel that they are especially responsible for the flagrant omissions and imperfections which characterise the Government measure. It is they who sustain the Government in office. It is they who will have the power at any future election to sway the fate of Parties. This sense of responsibility has prompted decided action. The temperance men of Devon, and Cornwall are in arms against the measure as now framed. They believe it to be an honest but misguided attempt to deal with the liquor question. So manitest has this become that the executive of the Liberal Unionist Central Organisation for Devon and Cornwall have-been impelled to adopt vigorous measures. They have represented to Lord Wolmer, and through him to the Government, that they cannot allow themselves to be made responsible for the Hill in its existing shape. They have urged the grafting into the measure of the modifications and amendments so well set forth by Mr. Powell Williams, liberal Unionist Member for South Birmingham in a recent letter to the Times. They have pointed out that unless some proposals are adopted, or the Bill be withdrawn, the Liberal Unionists of the West will be so alienated as to endanger the cohesion of the Party. Now, this is why I say it is extremely interesting to know what were the conclusions come to at the meeting held this afternoon on the subject of this Bill. This Liberal Unionist writer puts it in this way:— It is possible that the Government might even force the Bill through Parliament, but they would do so at their peril. The next General Election, and any bye-election which may occur in the interval in the Western Counties would show that, in taking up such a position, they were disastrously misguided. Well, on account of the unpopularity of this measure, it is thought extremely desirable that the Bill should be got through the House as soon as it possibly can be. I think it is a test measure, because if you can get your majority to swallow it, it is certain you can get them to swallow anything else. But Gentlemen opposite will, of course, consider their own policy and judge of their own interests. We also have to judge of the course we ought to pursue. We are determined to offer to the very end every resistance which the law of Parliament allows us. You are determined to press it on. We are determined to oppose it. You will try on the Closure over and over again, as you have tried already. But in our opinion, in employing such methods to pass such a Bill as this, you will only increase the indignation and disgust with which the country regards this measure and your conduct in forcing it on. We believe, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has said, and as one of your own supporters has said, that this Bill strikes a fatal blow at the future hopes of temperance. You have heard the views of your own supporters—you have had a Balaam from Stepney, and the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Kelly) has announced his intention of voting against the Bill. What independent support have you received for your measure? The right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill thought it necessary to parade such authorities as he could. I do not think he made much out of his Wesleyan friends. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) and my right hon. Friend the Member for the Brigg Division (Mr. Waddy) have disposed of those Wesleyan allies. You say that this measure is misunderstood. You say that it is condemned only by people who are ignorant of its true character. You may attribute to us that we are actuated by Party motives. You may attribute to the masses of the people who are collected together on this subject that some of them have not studied all the clauses of the Bill. That may be true, but can you pretend, or is there the smallest foundation for saying, that the non-political, the non-partisan advocates of the temperance cause are not overwhelmingly against you? I hold in my hand a letter written by Archdeacon Farrar. He is not an ignorant man. He is not a partisan. He is not a political man. The Under Secretary jeers at Archdeacon Farrar. I do not know what right he has to jeer.


The right hon. Gentleman accuses me of jeering at Archdeacon Farrar. I did nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman said that Arch deacon Farrar was not a political man, and I did smile at that remark. I certainly did not jeer at Archdeacon Farrar, for he is a man for whom I have always had a most unlimited respect.


All I can say, then, is that if the right hon. Gentleman has an unlimited respect for Archdeacon Farrar he will probably believe the statements in his letter. He begins by saying, "I dislike to meddle with questions which assume a political aspect." The letter is, we may say, prefaced by the declaration that he has never been actuated by political prejudice. What does he say on this subject? He says he adopts the phrase of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, that this is a plan for "establishing and endowing" the liquor traffic, and then he says this of it, and I think it as good a definition as I have seen:— And this will be done by a side wind. It will be done in an accidental and indirect way, which nevertheless involves a decisive recognition by Parliament of a bad principle, and which will perpetuate on our necks and the necks of our children's children a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. And this, we are told, is a scheme devised to help those who are battling with intemperance.…It is all very well for those who support these most deplorable proposals to declare that they leave the principle of compensation un touched for future decision. They may rail at our ignorance and obtuseness, and set it aside as due to the pig-headedness of 'temperance fanatics.' If such language amuses them, let them indulge in it. But let them remember that the supporters of the drink interest and their own most ardent defenders in the Press take exactly the same view of the meaning of these clauses as ourselves. He then ends in this way:— Is this, then, the time at which the nation should cease to make that trade more irresistible by helping to perpetuate the deadly fascination which it exerts over the weak and the miserable? Is this the time at which to pamper still further its bloated and ominous prosperity? Doubtless the Government may use its Parliamentary majority to pass these obnoxious clauses; but history has taught us that there are some victories which are more disastrous than defeats, and some defeats or withdrawals which are safer and more honourable than victories. If these clauses are passed in the teeth of the remonstrances of such multitudes of earnest temperance workers, who in this matter are guided by motives absolutely patriotic and disinterested,"— —[Ironical Ministerial cheers.]—You deny that the motives of the temperance workers are patriotic and disinterested? ["No!"] What, then, is the meaning of your cheer? it may, I think, be safely prophesied that the Conservative hopes of return to power after the dissolution of this Parliament will hang upon a spider's thread. The Under Secretary says lie has a great respect for Archdeacon Farrar, therefore I am sure he will be glad to have heard his sentiments on this matter. Sir, I adopt those sentiments, every word of them. Those are the sentiments and principles which animate the opponents of this Bill. Holding those sentiments, believing them to be well founded, you may depend upon it that to the end we shall, by every means in our power, resist and endeavour to defeat this Bill. We believe, nay, we are confident, that, in doing so, we have the support of the great majority of this nation. We accept the issue you have joined upon this matter. You may overpower us by your majority to-day; but you may depend upon it that in the appeal which must, sooner or later, be made to the judgment of this country, you will receive its final condemnation.

(11.28.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight

I confess it is somewhat disappointing to say a word after such a speech as we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman. In the course of that speech the right hon. Gentleman has not advanced one single argument in support of the Amendment before the Committee. His speech is, no doubt, an excellent indication of the kind of opposition which he has twice over told us is going to be presented to the passage of this Bill. By every means in their power the passage of the Bill is going to be opposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Well, Sir, if that means that time is to be wasted ["No, no"]—as effectively wasted—by those who support the right hon. Gentleman as it has been wasted by himself during the last half-hour, I think there will be a very large majority of Members who wilt think that the time for putting on the Closure will very soon arrive. [Cries of "Order!"] Having ventured, with all respect, to remind the House of the character of the speech to which we have just listened, I should like to say a word with reference to the observation he made to the effect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer indulged in nothing but what the right hon. Gentleman called tu quoque. Those who heard and those who read that speech will judge whether the criticism is a just one. I confess I am always amused at the querulous tone in which the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the subject of tu quoque. I feel that when his epitaph comes to be written I should put it in five words "Consistency, thy name is Harcourt." I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why he objects to tu quoque. If he can find out that some Member of the Government is not quite of the same mind that he was two or three years ago, he thinks it quite fair argument to quote some speech against him.


I have not quoted any speech.


I am not referring only to the present occasion. But if any one quotes a speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself, or of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, it is a different matter altogether, and the opinion they expressed a short time ago is altogether an accident. I will ask the House to note the difference between the speech to which they have just listened, and that of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. Whatever may be said of the utterances of the right hon. Member for Derby, I do not suppose that the followers of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian will suggest that everything he has said on this subject during the last 10 or 15 years is to pass for nothing. There have been made: by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and by Members speaking with his sanction and concurrence, and by advocates of the Party entitled to great respect, utterances, some of which were referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which amount to this—that the trade we propose to deal with by this Bill has been told, over and over again, that their business is being carried on under legal sanction, and such speeches and statements have been made by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, not hastily, not for the purpose of occupying time, but with the view of indicating a definite and distinct policy, statements under the sanction of which has grown up a trade on the strength of which capital has been spent which ought to be respected. I put it as a practical question to hon. Members opposite, who desire to approach the question fairly, and not in the spirit of the speech we have just listened to—Are you prepared to close every public house? Is it within the range of practical politics that any scheme should be entertained for closing all public houses? The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) would say it would be absurd to introduce a Bill for that purpose. Such a proposal could be made only by those who are looking forward to some Utopia, and it could not possibly receive legislative sanction. If once you recognise you cannot close all public houses it is absolutely necessary that in any scheme you should abstain from doing injustice to those whose business is taken away, while taking care that you do not raise the cost of acquiring the public houses that remain. Any scheme for reducing the number of licences, subject to those conditions, must approach this question from the stand point taken by the Government in this Bill The right hon. Gentleman has repeated the statement that the law of the subject, as now laid down by the Law Advisers of the Crown, is different from the law received from those officers seven years ago, I am utterly unaware of any difference between past and present Law Advisers on this particular question. I have never stated my opinion on this matter in the House before, and I now say most distinctly that the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield" was decided upon special and particular grounds, upon which, if ever that case comes to be argued in the House of Lords, it must be decided in the same way; and I say it is no authority whatever upon the question of what would be the duty of the Magistrates if they called upon a person who was entitled to the renewal of a licence to come before them and thought fit to refuse the renewal of the licence. [Opposition cheers.] Hon. Gentleman may cheer, but I am not giving an expression of opinion simply for the purpose of endeavouring to gain an advantage in argument.


Of course everybody knows the Magistrate must call the applicant before them.


The right hon. Gentleman forgets that in nine cases out of ten, if not in 99 out of 100, the licences are renewed without the holders or applicants being called upon to appear, and without there being any power in the Magistrates to call them before them. I am dealing with the question as a matter of practical experience. I freely admit, and I have never said anything to the contrary, that the Magistrates, having before them the applicant for a licence, are entitled to exercise a discretion as to whether it should be renewed; and that discretion, if exercised on proper grounds, is absolute. I have not stated anything contrary to that at any time or place; but if the Magistrates decline to renew the licence simply on the ground that there are too many licences in the neighbourhood, they are not exercising a judicial discretion, and they would not be warranted by their position in arriving at such a conclusion. The right hon. Member may shake his head, but I am bound to state my view that if ever that question comes to be examined, the Courts of Law will not support the Magistrates who take that position. I am well aware that there are obiter dicta in "Sharp v. Wakefield" which may be thought to point to a contrary conclusion; but the case was decided with reference to a particular fact, and the decision was not intended to lay down any general principle of any kind. I rose for the purpose of pointing out that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby afforded no argument which ought to in duce the Committee to support the Amendment. That speech contained many graceful flowers of oratory, which, however interesting to hear, did not add much to the enlightenment of the Committee. Treating the proposals of the Government as they are entitled to be treated—as a straightforward and honest attempt to deal with this question on a basis of equity and justice—I submit that the Amendment ought to be rejected by a large majority.

(11.40.) Mr. RITCHIE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 279; Noes 238.—(Div. List, No. 133.)

Question put accordingly, "That the words '(ii.) The sum of three hundred and fifty thousand pounds shall be applied for such extinction of licences in England' stand part of the Clause."

(11.54.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 275; Noes 243.—(Div. List, No. 134.)

It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

Is this Bill to be the first Order on Monday?



MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

I wish to ask whether, after this extremely significant Division, the right hon. Gentleman intends to persevere with this clause?

SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)

Do the Government intend to proceed with the Bill day after day?


The hon. Baronet will remember the declarations made by the Leader of the House, and to those declarations we, of course, adhere.