§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.),
in moving the Second Reading of the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill, said, he thought that the best argument he could put forward in support of his Motion was to lay before the House the history of this question. On the 6th May 1876, a Resolution in favour of closing public houses in Ireland on Sunday was carried in that House, in opposition to the views of the 1565 Government of the day by a majority of 56, and in 1877 a Bill founded upon that Resolution was introduced, and referred to a Select Committee of the House. That Select Committee, although nominated by a Government hostile to the principle of the measure affirmed the principle of the Bill, and in 1878 a Bill drawn upon the same lines passed through both Houses of Parliament. In its progress through Committee of that House it was only fair to say that Amendments were introduced by which five of the principal towns in Ireland—namely, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford—were partially excluded from the operation of the measure, and the duration of the Bill was limited to four years, and the measure was, therefore, passed as an experiment, and in a tentative form. It was a curious circumstance that of the four Irish Chief Secretaries who had held office since 1878, every one had given his opinion, most decidedly, in favour of the principle of that measure—a circumstance not usually found to occur in Irish legislation. Thus Mr. Forster, who was Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1880, in replying to a deputation that waited upon him with the view of getting the Bill made permanent and its provisions extended to the five excepted towns, said that—there was scarcely any doubt that the Act would be renewed, and that, as far as he could make out, public opinion in Ireland had gone entirely in favour of its principle.In 1883, the right hon. Gentleman, now the Secretary for Scotland, in introducing a Bill to make the Act permanent, and to extend its provisions to the excluded cities, said that he had come to the conclusion that the operation of the Act "had been an unmixed benefit to Ireland." Then he would refer to the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman, the present Leader of the Opposition, who, while Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1889, while replying to a deputation which waited upon him at Dublin Castle used very remarkable words. The right hon. Gentleman said that—it had become manifest to every man who had had the opportunity and the desire to examine into the results of this legislation that the operation of the Act had been of vast benefit to the 1566 population of Ireland, and that the Act should on no account be allowed to lapse.The right hon. Gentleman, the present Chief Secretary, speaking in 1892, had stated most distinctly that—both he and the Government were in favour of this legislation, and were prepared, if they could not introduce a Bill on the subject themselves, to give an entire and hearty support to a Measure having for its object to render the provisions of the Act permanent, and to extend them to the five excepted cities.There was, therefore, a perfectly unique consensus of opinion on the part of four Chief Secretaries for Ireland, representing both sides of the House in favour, not only of the continuance of the Measure, but of its being made permanent, and of extending its operation more widely. He would now pass to the opinions that had been expressed on the subject by Select Committees of that House. Two Select Committees had been appointed to consider the subject since 1877. The first Select Committee, which was nominated by a Government hostile to the principle of the Bill, had, notwithstanding that fact, reported in favour of its principle. In 1891 a second Select Committee had the whole question raised before it. At that time he had succeeded in carrying to a Second Reading a Bill dealing with Saturday early closing, and that Bill was referred to the same Committee. What happened? This Select Committee, on which was a Conservative majority, reported in favour of the Bill, and in favour of the extension of its provisions to the five large excepted cities, and it was unanimously in favour of early closing on Saturday. He would now come to the manner in which the House itself had dealt with the subject. In 1890, when the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, was the Leader of the House, a Bill of the character he had indicated was carried in that House by a majority of 242 for, against 78, and in 1891 by a majority of 248 for, against 94. That was the brief parliamentary history of the question, and it showed that four Chief Secretaries for Ireland, two Select Committees, and two divisions in that House had all been in favour of this proposal. The Bill had been before the House over and over again, and had been always carried. In such circumstances as these, the House 1567 would doubtless be of opinion that it would be an absolute waste of time for him to enter into arguments pro or con in respect of the Bill. He was happy to say that the vast majority of the representatives of Ireland, representing every shade of political opinion in that country, had been, and were still, in favour of the principle of the Bill. He was aware that there was a section of the Irish people who contended that this matter ought to be left to be dealt with by an Irish Legislature whenever that assembly might be brought into existence. He, however, did not know that those who put forward that contention were themselves very keen supporters of Home Rule. The question he should like to ask those persons was this: Why should the question of Irish liquor be reserved to be dealt with by an Irish Parliament while the question of Irish land, which involved matters of infinitely greater consequence to the people of Ireland, was reserved for the Imperial Parliament. None of the representatives of Ireland had suggested that the Irish Land Question should be reserved for an Irish Parliament, and therefore he could not understand the views of those who urged that the question of closing public houses in Ireland on Saturday nights and Sundays should be reserved for the determination of such a Parliament. The present Chief Secretary for Ireland, in answer to a deputation, stated that that argument was not one to which he was prepared to listen, and that as long as the responsibility for the Government of Ireland rested upon that House, that House could not shirk its responsibilities in connection with this subject. In his opinion, the only people who desired to reserve the question for the determination of an Irish Parliament were the Irish publicans, who were not very certain in their own minds when an Irish Parliament would come into existence to deal with the matter. What was the opinion of the various Churches of Ireland in reference to this question? Taking the Church of the majority of the population, the Roman Catholic Church, almost all the bishops and clergy were in favour of the principle of the Bill. And it was the same with regard to all the other Irish Churches. Who was it, therefore, who 1568 opposed the measure? It was the Irish publicans alone. The opposition to the Bill was a trade opposition, mainly promoted by the Irish Licensed Vinters' Association. He knew of no bonâ fide public meeting which had been held in Ireland in opposition to the Bill with the exception of one that was held in Limerick, on which occasion a Resolution in favour of the principles of the Bill was carried in the teeth of the promoters. The point had doubtless been raised as to the expediency of extending the provisions of the measure to the five large excepted cities in which at present the public houses were allowed to be open from 2 in the afternoon until 7 at night. He should not be acting honestly by the House if he did not say that some of the opponents of extending the operation of the Bill to those large cities were willing that the hours during which the public houses in them should be open on Sundays should be reduced and that the houses should only be open from 2 until 5 o'clock. He was not going to deal with such a detail as that in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, because the supporters of the measure would know how to deal with that proposal when the proper time arrived. All he could say was that two Select Committees of that House to which he had referred had given no countenance to such a proposal as that. The Bill also dealt with the question of the bonâ fide traveller. He believed that there were such persons in existence, but in his opinion the magistrates had taken an entirely erroneous view of the subject, they having held that it was sufficient to constitute a man a bonâ fide traveller that he should have travelled three miles from the place where he last slept. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the Local Veto Bill, had raised a hearty laugh by drawing a distinction between the man who travelled to drink and the man who drank to enable him to travel. What usually took place was that a man went a short distance out by either tram car or railway in order to entitle himself to obtain intoxicating liquor during prohibited hours on Sunday. The law in relation required Amendment, and the Bill proposed to extend the three mile limit to 1569 six miles, so that at all events a man should have to travel a substantial distance before he could get drink during prohibited hours. The other part of the Bill dealt with a matter of great importance, that of Saturday early closing. Early closing on Saturday night was really of even more importance than Sunday closing because it was on Saturday nights that men received their wages, and instead of taking them home for the maintenance of their wives and children, spent them in the public house, and got drunk, and therefore were the more eager for drink on the Sunday. The waste of money in this way on Saturday nights in the large towns of Ireland was something scandalous. The Bill proposed that all public houses in Ireland should be closed at 9 o'clock at night on Saturdays. It had been suggested that the result of the proposal if carried into law would be to promote the formation of drinking clubs, which would be a very grave evil, but surely it would be in the power of Parliament to prevent an abuse of that kind, and to deal with unlicensed as well as with licensed drinking places, if the former became a public nuisance, a public danger, and a public evil. In view of the history of the subject which he had laid before the House, and of the state of public opinion on the subject in Ireland, he trusted that hon. Members would agree to the Second Reading of the Bill, which would convey a good message to the Irish people, and would gladden the hearts of those who had so long toiled for their welfare. He begged to move the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. C. DIAMOND (Monaghan, N.)
said, that he rose to second the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill, in order to formally express his reasons for giving it his support. He entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite that the time for arguing this question had gone by. Even if all classes in Ireland were not unanimously in favour of the principle of the measure, there was, at all events, a substantial majority of them who were anxious that its provisions should become law. The bishops of Ireland regarded the Sunday Closing Act as a great blessing to the country, and were anxious that its provisions should be made permanent and extended to the five large cities of Ireland that 1570 were now partially excluded from its operation. The measure was opposed only by those who were interested in the sale of drink. Those who proposed that the question should be reserved for the determination of an Irish Parliament were the very men who had subscribed to the funds employed in preventing Home Rule being carried. It was evident, therefore, that their desire was that the Irish drink traffic should not be interfered with at all. The law prohibiting Sunday drinking in the large towns in Scotland had worked in a most satisfactory manner. He had read articles in the newspapers, written and inspired from what source he could not say, though he could make a pretty shrewd guess, showing that in the large Scotch towns a great deal of Sunday drinking went on. He had made inquiries upon the subject. Only last Sunday he was in a Scotch town, and spoke to a Catholic priest about the matter, and he said that there was no doubt of the good that was done by Sunday closing, and that if there could be early closing on Saturday night, it would be still more, apparent. As to Shebeens, he said:—Now and again a case arises, but such a thing is very exceptional.These facts spoke for themselves, and he left it to others to stand up in the House and speak on behalf of what they were pleased sometimes to call an industry. The testimony of the bishops of Ireland was that drink had done more mischief in every way than anything else, and, as an Irish representative, he felt bound, speaking on behalf of the vast majority of his constituents, to do what he could to see this Bill carried through, and therefore he gave it his most cordial support.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said if must strike everybody as a strange thing that in a purely Irish matter like this, the majority of the Irish Members were absent from the House, and had nothing to say on the subject. The hon. Member for South Tyrone would, he thought, have succeeded better in forwarding the, interests of the Bill, which everybody admitted that he had at heart, if he had adopted a different tone in his speech. No one, however, could for a single moment listen to 1571 the extravagant and exaggerated attack the hon. Member made on the publicans of Ireland as a class, without feeling that in this matter the hon. Member was certainly not an unprejudiced witness.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I am totally unaware of having made any attack on the Irish publicans. All I said was that they were the only opponents of the Bill when meetings were called to discuss it.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said it was a perfectly natural thing that men who were affected by legislation of this kind should attend meetings held to consider the subject. There were no people in Ireland more capable of giving proper opinion as to the effect of this legislation than the publicans, and they were, undoubtedly, quite as honest in their opinions as the hon. Gentleman or any of his friends. The hon. Gentleman, by his present attitude, showed that he was actuated by a bitter and prejudiced feeling against a class of men in Ireland who were as good citizens as any other class.
Attention being called to the, fact that 40 members were not present, the House was counted, and
Forty members being present,
§ MR. REDMOND
, continuing, said that the hon. Member for South Tyrone and the hon. Member for Monaghan, alluded to the fact that certain people in Ireland considered that this was a matter which ought to be left to the consideration of an Irish Legislature. In the first place, that view was held by the late Mr. Parnell, and the hon. Member for Kerry, who, when this Bill was last discussed in the House, was Member for West Belfast, said:—I see no reason whatever to alter the position I took up on this question when it was last before the House. I then stated that it appeared to me that the question of the further development of the restriction on the sale of liquor in Ireland ought to be reserved for treatment by an Irish assembly; in fact, that it was a question which only such an assembly could successfully deal with.That hon. Gentleman was not in the House at the present time, but he had no doubt whatever that if he were, he would reiterate the statement he then 1572 made. The late Mr. Parnell, speaking on this question in April, 1891, said:—If they wish to be consistent, they should leave to Irishmen the settlement of this delicate question, which is surrounded by difficulties, and the solution of which would demand all that is best and most experienced in Irish public life, when the time comes for the Irish people to make their own laws in an elective assembly in Dublin. If hon. Members do not wish to prejudice the question beforehand by their meddlesome interference and bungling attempts to legislate in reference to the wants of the people whom they cannot possibly understand, and in reference to a matter of which they are profoundly ignorant, then they will vote against the Second Reading of the Bill. If they believe that the time is near when Ireland will decide these questions for herself, if they believe their own platform declarations, they will vote against the Bill, knowing that no time will be lost by leaving the consideration and settlement of the question to the Parliament which we all hope to see soon established in Dublin.He commended those words to the consideration of hon. Gentlemen opposite who were supporters of the Government and of the national demand for Ireland, and he was sure they would receive them with the respect that was due to the words of the late Mr. Parnell. The hon. Gentleman who proposed the Second Reading of this Bill would, no doubt, give him credit for the honesty of the opinions he held in this matter. He was as much interested in the maintenance of temperance in Ireland as any other Member of the House. He had given support on previous occasions to Bills of this kind, and the hon. Member for South Tyrone would probably remember that his father was one of the promoters in the House of the Irish Sunday Closing Bill, a Bill which he was told had had a good effect in Ireland; but it was not dealing honestly with the House to ask them to believe that this Bill was the Irish Sunday Closing Bill which Irish Members supported in times gone by. It was nothing of the kind. It was far more stringent and extreme in every way, and it was perfectly consistent for men who voted in favour of the measure for Sunday closing in Ireland, to be altogether opposed to what was contained in the Bill now before the House. The Bill included within its scope the towns of Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, and Belfast. Was it a reasonable thing to expect that it should be found impossible in those large cities at 1573 any time of the day to procure alcohol, no matter how urgent the necessity? If it was thought that such a closing was necessary in country towns, it surely could not be maintained that it was unreasonable to ask that houses of refreshment should be open for a certain number of hours in large cities. He opposed the Bill principally on the ground that it was unreasonable to ask that the provision of Sunday Closing should be extended to the large cities named. He reminded the Chief Secretary also that one of his predecessors in office undertook, when a similar Bill was being debated, that if it was read a second time steps would be taken to exempt the large cities. Would the right hon. Gentleman make a similar declaration now? If the right hon. Gentleman did not do so he was certain that the Bill would be strongly opposed. With regard to the nine o'clock closing hour, he asserted that English Members did not understand the question in Ireland. Houses for the sale of liquor were also the shops where the necessaries of life were obtained by the people. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: "So much the worse."] If this Bill were passed, no poor woman would be able to go after nine o'clock on a Saturday night to purchase a single article of consumption, necessary for Sunday. It was, besides, impossible in these Irish shops to make any adequate structural alteration, and therefore the Bill would not only prevent the sale of alcohol but it would make it illegal for the people to purchase the common necessaries of life in the majority of Irish towns. They might speak about Coercion Acts, but in his judgment this Bill was coercion in an extreme form. With regard to the distance for the bonâ fide traveller being extended from three to six miles, it was said that people journeyed from towns in tramways specially for the purpose of obtaining liquor. Such language was extravagant and exaggerated. Young men made excursions into the country, it was true, but it was absurd to say that they should have to walk or ride six miles into the country before they could obtain a glass of beer. He was all in favour of temperance, but this was not the way to promote the cause. A Bill like this was calculated to arouse the indignation of the people and to make them think that they 1574 were being coerced. The experience of other countries was that where coercive legislation of this kind was in force people only became the more determined to get the article which was prohibited. In the State of Maine, for example, he endeavoured one day to get a glass of wine, but he was told that it was impossible to supply him. It was added, however, that if he stepped down to a cellar he could get what he wanted; so that instead of having drink openly served they could get as much as was needed in secret. The fact was that more drink was sold in this way in Portland, Maine, and other towns where Prohibition was in full force, than in any other State of the Union. Here hon. Members were endeavouring to introduce as stringent a law in Ireland, and its effect would only be to make the people more determined to obtain the liquor which was prohibited. The police authorities and the Corporation officials of Dublin and other large towns had declared against such a Bill as this, because it was well known that where they shut up the public houses, bogus clubs were at once started. The shebeen was infinitely a greater curse in Ireland than the public house. If this Bill was passed, great encouragement would be given to shebeening in Ireland, and unless they were prepared to put down shebeening with a strong hand there was not the slightest use in shutting up the public houses. The way to make people temperate was not to coerce them by legislation of this kind. Let them increase the supervision of the public houses in Ireland, take precautions to see that they were properly conducted, and take every care to relax no vigilance that the liquor sold was of good quality and not poisonous stuff. He believed that this was really the key to the Temperance Question in Ireland. He maintained, moreover, that this Bill had been sprung in a most unexpected way on the Irish Members. Many Members interested in both aspects of the question were absent, and he submitted that this was not the proper occasion on which to take a decision on the question. The Bill should be discussed fully and fairly, and a decision should not be taken in regard to a matter which was of great interest to many hon. Members who did not know that it was coming on 1575 that day. It might be said that they ought to have known, but he would point out that it stood fourth on the Order Paper last night, a Local Veto Bill for England and a Local Veto Bill for Scotland being then in front of it. Those Bills had been dropped and the Irish Bill had been brought to the front. Under these circumstances the Debate should be adjourned until the Members for several of the Irish cities included in the Bill had an opportunity of being present, and when it could not afterwards be urged that the Bill had not been fairly discussed. The Members for Dublin were engaged in election contests in Ireland; the Members for Waterford, Limerick, and Kerry were not present, and he appealed to the Member for South Tyrone that it would be more satisfactory that they should be there.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that this Bill had been discussed in former Sessions, when Irish Members were present in force, with the never-failing result that a majority of Irish Members supported it.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
pointed out that the Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton) opposed the extension of the Bill to the cities. Inasmuch as this Bill extended to the cities of Ireland and introduced fresh matter he would now oppose it, and it was not to be taken that the hon. Member for Kerry would have nothing fresh to say, merely because he had spoken on the subject on a former occasion. Under the circumstances, he urged upon the Chief Secretary that this Debate should be adjourned. The Mover and Seconder were no doubt actuated by the highest motives in bringing it forward. He quite agreed with them as to the enormous evils created by liquor in Ireland, though he could not concur in the sneers which one hon. Member cast upon the Irish liquor trade. The breweries and distilleries were the greatest industry in the south of Ireland, and, that being so, whether hon. Members approved of the liquor trade or not, they should not attempt to deny that it was a great trade, and that, if stopped, enormous misery would be brought upon numbers of people in Ireland. The subject ought not to be entered upon in any tone of bitterness against the publicans. He would support the Bill heartily if he thought that it 1576 would have any other effect than that of provoking the Irish people. It was because he thought that this coercion would provoke the Irish people and would defeat its own object that he opposed the Bill. He was ready now and at any future time to promote the real interests of temperance as he understood them, but he never yet knew coercion to lead to any good or to promote the cause of temperance. Every Bill passed by the English Parliament was looked upon with prejudice in Ireland, and if a message were sent to Ireland to-morrow that this Bill had been passed by this Parliament, the effect of that message would be very different to that which the promoters imagined. He moved that the Bill be read a second time upon that day six months, and he again appealed to the Chief Secretary to adjourn the Debate till all Irish Members were in their places.
On the return of the SPEAKER after the usual interval,
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (MR. J. MORLEY, Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
said, the hon. Member for Clare had made a point when he said that it was undesirable to discuss a question of this degree of social importance in the absence of certain important representative Members from Ireland, but that point had been met by the hon. Member for South Tyrone in an interruption, when he reminded him that these gentlemen had on previous occasions been present; the House knew their opinions, and if they were all present it would make no difference, and would not in any way affect the votes in the House in favour of the Bill. The hon. Member had also argued that this question was one of those which could only be satisfactorily dealt with by an Irish Legislature. He understood that this point had been, met by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, whose speech he regretted not having heard, as he had not supposed the Bill would come on so early. The hon. Member for Clare read a passage from a speech of the late Mr. Parnell bearing upon that point; he remembered very well hearing that speech, and Mr. Parnell did, no doubt, say that this control of the selling of liquoron Sundays, and various subsidiary 1577 proposals of this Bill, ought to be, and could be, better dealt with by an Irish Legislature than by the present Parliament. He entirely agreed in that as a general proposition, and he was beginning to think that not only such matters as the present, but possibly even the Irish Land Question could be better dealt with in an Irish Legislature than in the present Parliament. But, however that might be, since he had held his present post, he had always said that the desire of his political friends and himself to give Ireland a Legislature of her own, did not in the least impair their duty to lose no chance of conferring upon Ireland a benefit, which the majority of her population desired. While Minister for Ireland he had to see that the Government of Ireland was, at all events while the present system lasted, conducted upon principles which they could defend as principles of good government, and, in his judgment, the passing of the present measure would undoubtedly contribute to the cause of order and social advancement in Ireland. He stood to-day by the position which he took up in 1892, and in conformity with that position, on behalf of the Government, he would do his best to press this Bill forward. The hon. Member for Clare spoke with a frankness, and sometimes, he ventured to say, with a rashness which was pardonable in a person of his not very advanced years; but one thing struck him, and that was that the hon. Member did, in 1892, record his vote for a Bill identical with this one.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, that the great difficulty with himself and many others was the inclusion of five exempted cities in the Bill. On the occasion on which the Chief Secretary said he voted, he believed it would be found that an undertaking was given that in Committee on the Bill the exempted cities would be strictly exempted. If a similar undertaking were given now he and others would modify their views.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
asked who gave the undertaking to which the hon. Member for East Clare had referred?
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that perhaps he might be allowed to interpose at this stage, as he knew the history of this 1578 matter a little better than the Chief Secretary. This was precisely the Bill introduced in 1890 by the hon. Member for South Londonderry (Sir T. Lea). It was quite true, as the hon. Member for Clare said, that the Government, dealing with a private Member's Bill, said that if it went further they would have to move the exemption of five big towns and further limitations in the hours of sale. But those in charge of the Bill gave no such undertaking as the hon. Member for East Clare had referred to.
MR. J. MORLEY
, resuming, said, that as to the proposed inclusion of five exempted towns, during the three years he had latterly been Chief Secretary for Ireland, he had taken every opportunity for gaining all the information he could as to the views of those responsible for order in the large towns, and he found in their minds a doubt, such as might exist in the minds of those responsible for order and peace in the great metropolis of London, as to whether legislation which was desirable and satisfactory in its results in other parts of Ireland could be applied exactly as it stood in the Bill to places with large populations like Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford. On the other hand, with regard to Scotch Sunday closing, he remembered it was argued, just as it had been argued now, that Sunday closing was impracticable in cities like Glasgow, and that its consequence would be a tremendous amount of "shebeening" and illicit drinking. He had inquired carefully into the operation of this legislation in Scotland, and he understood that after the Forbes Mackenzie Act came into operation, there was shebeening in Glasgow. But he was told that for some years past, the extensive practice of illicit selling of drink had diminished, so much so that the police thought it normal, or not more than normal, and no discredit to the legislation the House was now discussing. At the same time, whether they were for Home Rule or not, every Minister of the highest standing was bound to move slowly and tentatively in legislation of this kind. For himself, in spite of the opinions of the heads of the police in some of the cities mentioned, he agreed that if the clauses of the Bill were once set going, though there might be a difficulty for a year or two, in the 1579 long run, under wise and judicious administration, it would be found that they could be worked well. At the same time he endeavoured never to go too far in advance of public opinion. Therefore, all he could say was, that if this proposal in reference to the five towns now exempted received some modification in the Grand Committee—to which he hoped the House would agree it should be sent—and the Committee thought the five towns should be dealt with, the Government would not consider that as a reason why they should withdraw their support—even their active support—from this Bill. He believed that was a fair, tenable, and judicious method of dealing with the views expressed. The hon. Member for South Tyrone, whose zeal in this cause was so well known, and who had worked this question for 20 or 25 years, probably shared the views he himself had given utterance to. What could be worked in Glasgow could be worked in the smaller Irish cities, and he hoped the hon. Member for South Tyrone and those with whom he acted would not be wounded by the Government taking the position they had. So much for a point which was of some difficulty, but not of so much difficulty as had been represented. He did not know whether the hon. Member for East Clare expected him to deal seriously with his contention that this was a Coercion Bill to prevent honest men and women from buying loaves of bread after 9 o'clock on a Saturday night. The hon. Member said truly that in Ireland the sale of liquor was conducted over a great part of the country in shops where the necessaries of life were also sold. From several years' close and responsible observation of Ireland, he could not think of introducing legislation which would result in too large interference with the rooted habits of the people. Still he confessed, that the sale of drink and the necessaries of life at the same place, was an amalgamation of callings which was not in itself favourable to temperance in Ireland. Be that as it might, the argument of the hon. Member for East Clare that this was a coercion Bill, was far-fetched and impossible. If the purchase of bread was delayed by house-wives until past 9 o'clock on Saturday night, probably the moral sentiment of their families next day 1580 when they found themselves breadless would be sufficient to prevent a repetition of the occurrence. The hon. Member for East Clare, though he said he was more or less a temperance man, had such a profound and deep-rooted aversion to anything in the shape of coercion that he felt it a point of honour to walk five or six miles to have the pleasure of defying the law and having an illicit drink. He shuddered when he thought of the use that might be made in America of the statement that a Member of that House had actually impressed on the House, as an argument, that he had gone down into a cellar in the State of Maine to have a glass of wine and make a protest against coercive legislation.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, he had no desire to defy the laws of Maine at all. He merely wanted a glass of wine, and he found there was as much drinking in Maine as in any other State he visited in America.
MR. J. MORLEY
But the hon. Member broke the law, and he had told the House that if this Bill was passed in its present shape it would be his duty to break the law in his own country. All he could say on that part of the matter was that Glasgow had a large Irish population, and if the people in Ireland were likely to resent this legislation and break the law which it was proposed to enact, how was it they acquiesced in it in Glasgow and other places in Scotland. Let the House look at former decisions of Parliament. As the hon. Member for South Tyrone, said four successive Chief Secretaries representing Governments of different political opinions had agreed that legislation of this kind was required. So it could hardly be said that this Bill was uncalled for. The inclusion of the Sunday Closing Act in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill was an admission by various Governments that continuous legislation was required. It was quite true there were in this Bill some extensions. There was no doubt this Bill would receive a Second Reading, and then it ought to go to a Grand Committee. His own position with regard to it was exactly that which was taken four years ago by the Leader of the Opposition, who said—The Motion for the Second Reading is not directly a Government Motion; but it must be 1581 recollected that the original measure was passed by the aid of the Government, and that it ought to be and must be continued annually by the aid of successive Governments. Therefore, it cannot but be concluded that this Bill ought not to stand in the ordinary category of a private Member's Bill, but it partakes in a modified sense of the character of a Government measure.That was exactly the view the Government took of this Bill. What the right hon. Gentleman promised on behalf of his Government he certainly would promise, with a more lively hope, perhaps, than the right hon. Gentleman entertained that the support of the Government might be effective. If the Bill came back from the Grand Committee without any such modifications as would transform it, but with reasonable amendments in the direction he had indicated, he should be disappointed if the Government were not able to press the Bill forward and to save it from the fate which would contribute to what he was told was to be the barren Irish record of this Government. Certainly no effort would be wanting on his part to do his best to forward the Bill, with every desire to give the fullest operation to Irish views in the stage of Grand Committee.
§ *MR. DAVID PLUNKET (Dublin University)
said, he joined heartily with the right hon. Gentleman in the regret he had expressed for the time at which this Bill had unfortunately come forward. The state of the House did not at all represent the great interest which was felt in the Bill by all parties in Ireland; but, as they all knew, there were various circumstances, both in the political and in the social world, which had that day the effect of thinning the House; and there were many Members, including both opponents and friends of the measure, who would have been in their places if it had not been anticipated that the Bills which stood before it on the Orders would have occupied the House for some time. Speaking for the Conservative and Unionist Members from Ireland, with whom he usually acted, he desired to say that they were unanimous on this subject, and heartily supported the Second Reading of this Bill. As had been stated, the Bill was the result of inquiry by a Committee in 1888, presided over by his late colleague, Mr. Justice Madden, who was then Attorney General for Ireland, and who was not prepared 1582 to go the same length as his Committee in regard to the modifications affecting the five great towns. This was a point on which opposite opinions were held by high authorities entitled to great respect, and it was one to be thrashed out in Committee. He would not follow the right hon. Gentleman into, he would not say his arguments, but his theories as to whether the Bill might or might not be better discussed in a Home Rule Parliament; but the reference of the right hon. Gentleman to his Land Bill sounded like a groan of the deep despair suffering extracted from his feelings by the position in which he now found himself and might hereafter find himself with regard to that measure. Passing away from that controversial subject, he would say that he had himself always felt strongly in favour of the principle of this Bill as affecting Ireland, and especially as affecting the country districts. He was satisfied from his own observation that, in the south and west of Ireland, at all events, the amount of unnecessary drinking brought about by the temptations offered on Sundays to the people was to be deplored. The social condition of the Irish people in country districts and their habits as to drinking were different from those of the people of England; and, therefore, in supporting this Bill, he did not wish to be taken as expressing any opinion upon the application of its principle to England. But he affirmed that in Ireland there was greater unanimity on this than on almost any other social question that had been brought forward in his time. There was singular unanimity, not only amongst laymen, but also among the clergy of all denominations. He counted among his constituents nearly all the clergy of the disestablished Church, and 99 out of every 100 of them joined most warmly and cordially with the Roman Catholic clergy in the desire that this Bill should be passed as soon as possible. He therefore trusted that on this occasion it might be allowed to go to a Second Reading without a division.
§ MR. W. E. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said he should be reluctant to divide the House against the Second Reading of the Bill; but the clause relating to the five large towns was one of deep 1583 importance. At the last election he had declined to give pledges to the trade, and he had refused to endorse, on the question of including the five towns, the views of the Irish Temperance League, who, therefore, spoke of him as the "drunkards' candidate." He now felt it his duty to ask whether the promoters of the Bill would give an undertaking, on the lines of that given by Mr. Madden, which secured many votes in 1890, and which was that an Amendment should be inserted providing for the closing of public houses in five towns at 5 o'clock instead of 7 o'clock. If the hon. Member for South Tyrone could give an assurance that such an Amendment should be favourably considered with a view to its acceptance, then he should be able to vote for the Second Reading of the Bill. There were one or two other points on which he would take the judgment of the Committee when they were discussed. Complaints were made that the extension of the limit to six miles would involve hardship, and he had no doubt that it would produce a race of Irishmen which would be unequalled on the six mile stretch.
§ *MR. ALFRED WEBB (Waterford, W.)
said, that he had always felt a great interest in this question. He regretted that there was not a larger attendance of Irish Members, but that was not the fault of the promoters of the Bill, and was no reason why it should not be proceeded with. The way the question had dragged on year after year without any solution for it being found was, in itself, an argument for Home Rule. If ever public opinion were secured for a measure, the public opinion of Ireland was secured for a Bill dealing with Sunday Closing. The country was thoroughly aroused on the question, and was entirely in favour of the proposed legislation. The very names of the Bill's backers were sufficient proof of this fact, and exhibited a remarkable combination of parties in support of the measure. It could not be said that the measure was in any degree coercive. The experience of other countries ought to have weight; and effects of Sunday Closing in Scotland had been most beneficial, as they had been in Ireland where the provision was in operation. If there were anything coercive in the provisions, 1584 the Scotch people would not have submitted to them. He was quite satisfied that there would be no difficulty in extending Sunday Closing to the five excluded cities in Ireland. Temperance reformers were always met with the request, on the part of their opponents, that they should do something other than what they proposed; but no specific alternative was suggested. He did not believe in the argument that all the evils of intemperance resulted from bad liquor. He had seen the worst results where liquor of the best quality was used. It was one of the shallowest arguments against temperance legislation. All restrictions on the liquor traffic were more or less coercive, and if coercion was an argument against the Bill, it was equally good against any restriction whatever. In 1882 a canvass was taken in the five excluded cities of Ireland as to the desires of the inhabitants in respect of Sunday Closing. That canvass was taken with the greatest fairness, and with a desire to arrive at the real facts. The result was that in Dublin 34,000 voted for Sunday Closing, and 8,000 against; in Belfast 23,000 voted for, and 2,000 against; in Cork 9,000 voted for, and 1,870 against; in Limerick 5,600 voted for, and 550 against; and and in Waterford 3,400 voted for, and 290 against. That was a strong indication of the drift of public opinion. Anything which would tend to separate the ordinary trade in Ireland from the liquor trade would be a great benefit. There were two customs in the country which greatly extended drinking. One was the unfortunate one of holding fairs in the streets of the towns, and the other was the practice of selling drinks in almost all shops of every description. He believed that the opposition to the Bill arose almost entirely from those who were interested in the sale of liquor. It was urged against the reform that it would be a very bad thing to injure one of the greatest industries in Ireland. Brewing and distilling were, in truth, some of the lesser industries of Ireland. He found from the census of 1891, that there were only 2,398 people engaged in them. He should cordially support the Bill.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
expressed his regret that the least voice of dissent to the Second Reading of this 1585 Bill had come from the North of Ireland. As one of the representatives of the great city of Belfast, he wished to inform the House that upon scarcely any other subject was there a greater consensus of opinion among the inhabitants of Belfast than upon the question of Sunday Closing. There was almost a unanimous feeling in Belfast in favour of the city being included in the scope of the Bill, and he hoped that, whatever alterations might be made, that feeling would be gratified.
§ MR. D. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
said that an hon. Member from the North of of Ireland had dissociated himself from this Bill, as had, also, the hon. Member for West Clare. He also desired to place himself in opposition to those who supported the Second Reading. The opposition to the Bill did not come entirely from the North of Ireland, and he hoped that the Chief Secretary and the hon. Member for South Tyrone would concede to those who opposed it, that they had as much at heart the sobriety and moral elevation of the Irish people as anyone else. The morality and the sobriety of the Irish people were quite as dear to the Nationalists as they were to their opponents, but it was because he, and those who acted with him, did not believe that the Bill would effect the laudable purpose the hon. Gentleman had in view that they offered opposition to it. In his opinion, the operation of the Bill would lead to the demoralisation of a section of the Irish people rather than to their elevation, and improvement. Personally, judging from the effects of temperance legislation in Scotland and in Wales, he thought a moderate amount of drinking which people could have under the existing law in Ireland, was better than a system under which a section of the people would be driven, as they inevitably would be driven if this Bill became law, to the secrecy of the shebeen or the bogus club, where they would only obtain the vilest and most deadly poison in the shape of drink. He regretted that the Bill should come before the House on the Second Reading when most of the representatives of Ireland were still holiday-making, because he was convinced that had they been present the majority of them would have been found to oppose the measure as 1586 they did when it was last before the House. The hon. Member for South Tyrone smiled, but that hon. Gentleman would not contradict him when he said that when the Bill was last before the House 20 Members of the party to which he (Mr. Crilly) had the honour to belong voted against it, and only 12 for it. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: "What about the Ulster Members?"] He could not answer for the conduct of he Ulster Members. All he knew was that when a popular measure wan proposed from the Nationalist Benches in the interest of Ireland the Ulster Members invariably opposed it, and for that reason he did not at all desire to be associated with Ulster Members in Irish matters. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said the House could, with its great power, as easily deal with clubs and shebeens as it proposed to deal with licensed houses in Ireland. But what would happen in the interim? A long time must elapse before the House could deal with the clubs which would grow up if public houses were closed on Sunday, and even if they were able to achieve the feat of closing the clubs, were they perfectly satisfied that other agencies would not crop up of a more dangerous and vicious kind? The hon. Member for South Tyrone taunted the opponents of the Bill with the fact that only publicans were opposed to the Bill. He agreed with the hon. Member for West Clare that, naturally, in a trade matter of this kind the publicans took an active share in the agitation; but why was it that of the 81 Nationalist Members none but fanatical teetotallers were found to back the Bill? He did not use the word fanatical in any offensive sense; he admired fanaticism; it had sometimes brought about most beneficial reform. The hon. Members for West Waterford, South Meath, South Mayo, South Monaghan, and North Kildare backed the Bill. All those Gentlemen were excellent colleagues and most earnest Nationalists, but they could scarcely be expected to take an impartial attitude on the question whether it was wise or not to sell a limited amount of—well, refreshment if they like, to the people of Ireland for six days of the week, and refuse to do so on the seventh day. The Gentlemen who supported the Bill were all county Members; 1587 they had Sunday closing in their constituencies. Why were they not content with the existing condition of things, and thus leave the five exempted cities alone? Where were the representatives of the five exempted cities? The House would look in vain for any public utterance on the part of the representatives of the five exempted cities, showing that the majority of the people of those cities desired to come within the purview of the measure. Where were the representatives of Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, and, he might almost add, Cork, although the name of one of the Members for Cork was on the back of the Bill? The non-appearance of the names of the representatives of the five exempted cities was due to three facts. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: "There are the names of the representatives of three of the exempted cities on the back of the Bill."] He excluded Belfast. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: "What about Cork?"] He had already mentioned Cork. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: "Dublin."] The name of one of the representatives of the city of Dublin appeared on the back of the Bill, but it would not be contended for a moment that that gentleman represented the great bulk of the working classes of Dublin. The absence from the back of the Bill of the names he had in view was due to the fact that the representatives of the exempted cities did not think the working people and the general public wanted the Bill, and that they were convinced the Bill would not work for the moral good of the towns affected. He would now turn to the Bill. [Cries of "Oh."] The supporters of the measure had had a hearing, and surely those who opposed it should have some little chance of giving reasons for the faith that was in them. The Bill might be divided, roughly speaking, into three parts. The first part proposed to close the public rooms in the five exempted cities and towns on Saturday evenings at nine o'clock; the second to extend the three mile limit for travellers to six 1588 miles; and the third to establish total Sunday closing of public houses throughout Ireland. He thought the Bill should have been divided into two Bills. If he were not mistaken, the hon. Member for South Tyrone and his temperance friends were originally satisfied to introduce a Bill dealing simply with the question of total Sunday closing by the inclusion of the five exempted cities in the law of Sunday Closing. But now they proposed to encroach upon the hours for the opening of public houses on Saturday by fixing the hour for closing in the exempted cities at nine o'clock. He believed it would be more logical and consistent for the hon. Member for South Tyrone arid his friends to propose that public houses should be closed altogether every hour of the week. If they closed public houses from week end to week end they might be able to wean people from their taste for drink; they might be able to establish a universal system of temperance, but so long as they kept the public houses open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it was futile for them to think they could make the people sober by closing the public houses from nine o'clock on Saturday night to Monday morning. People who liked drink would get it whenever they wanted it. With regard to the retention of the limit from three miles to six miles, it would be better from the point of view of the promoters of the Bill to fix the limit at 20 miles, for they would then make it absolutely impossible for any working man to get any refreshment at all on Sunday mornings. What would be the result of extending the limit to six miles? In Dublin many men of the general middle class, who had no desire for drink, were in the habit of taking country walks on Sunday, and he believed such men would be tempted to extend their walk to six miles, and being tired, and not liking the prospect of walking back another six miles to dinner, would get into some wayside public house, and meeting friends 1589 there, would stay there instead of returning to their homes. He therefore thought it would be far better if the limit were extended to something like 20 miles. But the part of the Bill to which he had the most rooted and fundamental objection was the part which proposed the total closing of public-houses on Sundays in the five cities that were at present exempted from the operation of the Sunday Closing Act. He should like the House to understand that there was a very strong feeling in Ireland against the Bill. From every class there had come the strongest and most emphatic declaration against the Bill, its principles, and its purposes. A strong minority of the Select Committee of 1880 reported directly against the Bill. Thousands upon thousands of the working-classes of Dublin petitioned against the Bill when it was before the House in 1893. The Trades Council of Dublin, a body whose right to speak on behalf of the artizans and labourers of Dublin would not be impugned, passed resolution after resolution against the Bill. Mr. Nannetti, their representative, opposed the Bill before the Select Committee. Public meetings protesting against the Bill were held in Dublin. The Corporation of Dublin presented a petition against the Bill at the Bar of the House in 1888, and passed Resolution after Resolution of opposition to it. He begged to controvert the statement of the Chief Secretary that the priesthood of Ireland desired to have this Bill carried into law. Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, and Dr. McAllister, Bishop of Down and Connor, were strongly opposed to the total closing of public houses on Sundays in Ireland. At a public meeting in the Father Matthew Hall, Dublin, and subsequently in a letter to the Press, Archbishop Walsh stated that where bogus clubs existed under present conditions he was adverse to any further restrictions of the liquor trade. In that he thought there was a complete answer to the statement that 1590 the priesthood of Ireland were absolutely in favour of the total closing of public houses in Ireland on Sundays. The priests were not in favour of anything of the kind. He could multiply instances of clergymen in Ireland who had set their faces against the Bill. A well-known Belfast priest said before the Select Committee on the Bill:—We are strongly of opinion that there are other means whereby the cause of temperance could be more effectually promoted than by this Bill. The improvement of the social condition of the working classes would do more for temperance than coercive legislation.Mr. O'Donel, a well-known Dublin Magistrate, who was thoroughly acquainted with the condition of the poorer classes in Dublin, said:—It is hopeless to expect by any change in the law to make the working classes more sober until there was an improvement in their wretched domiciles.In a matter of this kind, dealing with social reform, all sensible men ought to approach it not from the point of view of theory but from the point of view of experience. And what had experience taught them? The Chief Secretary, in his brief speech, in supporting the Bill, had instanced the case of Glasgow as one in which the later operation of the Sunday Closing Act had proved beneficial. He disputed this, and he contended that both in Wales and in Scotland up to this very moment the operation of the Sunday Closing Act had been a dead and dismal failure. On this very subject an article appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette of April 9th, in which it was shown that shebeening in Glasgow at the present hour was as strong, virulent, and poisonous to-day as it was when the Sunday Closing Act was passed. The article stated—This prohibition (Sunday Closing) has led to the establishment of hundreds of illicit drinking places known as shebeens, where whisky, ale, and similar delights could be purchased with very little trouble and risk of detection.He himself was prepared to quote 1591 statistics supplied to him by high authorities which fully supported this view.
§ MR. J. WILSON (Govan)
The hon. Member says he has information from high authorities. May I ask who these high authorities are? His whole speech so far as Glasgow is concerned——
§ *MR. SPEAKER (interposing)
Order, order. The hon. Member is not entitled to do more than ask for the authorities.
§ MR. CRILLY
said, the reason he forbore from quoting statistics as to Glasgow was because he was afraid of wearying the House. His point was that in that city the Sunday Closing Act, so far as the moral elevation of the people was concerned, was so great a failure at this hour as it was in the past. It was very difficult to get at the facts in connection with Scotland, but they were not so much at sea when they came to deal with Wales. In the case of the Principality they had got the high respectability and authority of a Commission sent down by Parliament, presided over by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and he thought that House should always receive the Report of Commissioners presided over by Members of the other House with all due respect, and without questioning their bonâ fides or the accuracy of the evidence they circulated. What was the effect of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales? He would take the evidence of witnesses from the three large towns of Cardiff, Swansea, and Merthy Tydvil. Mr. Hemingway, who was examined before Lord Balfour's Commission in April, 1889, produced a Report dated 1st December, 1888, in which he said—With reference to the Welsh Sunday Closing Act I may say that so far us Cardiff it concerned it has not been successful inasmuch as it has been the means of an increase in Sunday drunkenness. That drunkenness is traceable to bogus clubs, and other illicit drinking houses which have come into existence consequent upon the closing of public houses; but the figures given are by no means indicative of the extent of the evil, as a great many cases do not come under the notice 1592 of the police in the streets, the persons getting intoxicated remaining inside the houses until they recover.Superintendent Price of the Cardiff Borough Police was asked by Lord Balfour, the Chairman of the Commission—Do you consider the working of the Act up to the present time has been beneficial?—WITNESS: I do not consider it beneficial. The CHAIRMAN: In what respects is it not?—WITNESS: Owing to the wholesale dealers, bogus clubs, and shebeen drinking.In reply to a further question the witness said that those who visited the clubs and shebeens were chiefly working men.The CHAIRMAN: Residents in the town?—WITNESS: Yes, and those who work in the district and come into the town from Saturday night to Monday morning. The CHAIRMAN: That being so the actual quantity of drink consumed per head is larger now than when the public houses opened?—WITNESS: Certainly. The CHAIRMAN: Do you speak with confidence on that point?—WITNESS: I do.These were the opinions of two police officials, and from them he would appeal to the clergy of the district. The rev. Father Cormack, who was deputed to appear before the Commission as the representative of the Roman Catholic bishop and clergy of Cardiff, where he had resided for many years, in reply to the Chairman, stated:—Before the Sunday Closing Act I never heard of the existence of the drinking clubs in the town. I knew that shebeens were kept very few and were scarcely observable, but since the Act, and within a few months, clubs in Cardiff multiplied in all parts of the town. They became a familiar feature in nearly all the streets where there were resident masses of working men.Again interrogated by the Chairman, Father Cormack stated that—when the drinking clubs were put down between 1886 and last year, the shebeens began to multiply very fast in all parts of the town. Along with that increase came a great increase of drunkenness. I will not say in the public streets…. The superintendent estimates the shebeens at 103 in the town. I consider that below the exact number of shebeens.The rev. Gentleman then gave various statistics, and he went on to say that 1593 there was now an increase of drunkenness in private houses, the evil of which was very much aggravated by temptation to other crimes as well. The drinking in private houses (the witness continued) brought together persons of different ages, men and women, young and old, and there was no doubt whatever that a great deal of demoralisation had been caused by this repression of the evil, which drove it deeper into the body and spread it among private families. Children became accustomed to scenes of riotousness and drunkenness—and although I have no figures, I may say, if I may be allowed to, that I think there is an increase in illegitimacy since the Act came into operation.He (Mr. Crilly) thought that that was a terrible indictment to bring against the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales. The opinion of the priesthood of Ireland had been referred to. What did the Rev. Canon Richards, of Swansea, say with reference to the result of Sunday closing in Wales. Asked by the Chairman of the Commission as to the general effect of the Act, he said, the Act was demoralising all round, demoralising to the people who obtain drink surreptitiously, demoralising to the publican who had to run the risk of detection in breaking the Act or losing a part of his custom, demoralising to the children who generally were the agents for procuring the liquor, or were put in the streets to watch the police, demoralising to the police, who had to go through a series of dodges and adopt a system of espionage in order to discover illicit drinking, and demoralising to the bench, because a magistrate who on Sunday had sent his butler for a bottle of old crusted port would next morning on the bench condemn a poor man who had simply sent for a pint of beer. But he need not fall back upon the Catholic priesthood, upon the clergy of the Church to which he belonged. The 1594 Rev. James Allen Smith, the Vicar of Swansea and a Canon of Lincoln, in the course of his evidence said, the Act, speaking generally, had done some good, but in other directions it had not only not wrought good but there was the question whether it had not wrought much harm. Asked in what direction did he think the Act had not done good the rev. gentleman said—I think it has driven men away from their homes for the purpose of obtaining drink, and from observation and information which has been given me I think it has led to the establishment of clubs.The Police Superintendent, stationed in Swansea for 19 years, admitted that the convictions for Sunday drunkenness had increased since the passing of the Act, and attributed the increase to working men being prevented getting drink in a legal way. Mr. John Thomas, who was 48 years a member of the Glamorgan County Police Force, and for 21 years attached to the Merthyr Tydvil Division, gave evidence as to the increase of drunkenness in Aberdare since the Act was passed, and in answer to Sir Richard Harrington, said there was more general intemperance in the district since the passing of the Act than before. The Roman Catholic priest in Merthyr Tydvil was asked by the Chairman of the Committee if he wished to express an opinion as to the state of matters on Sundays at the present time. The witness said—It is difficult for me to understand how they could be worse than at present. In the back streets there is a very great amount of drunkenness.Again the rev. gentleman said—I do not think there is nearly so much drunkenness on the week days as on Sundays.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I hope the hon. Member will not continue to read extracts at much greater length, and that it will 1595 be unnecessary for me to put the question. There are only 50 minutes left, which time could not be profitably employed on any other measure.
§ MR. CRILLY
trusted the extracts he had read had had some influence on the House. He could read other extracts, but he did not want to take up the time of the House; he had no object in doing so. Judging from the result of the operation of Sunday Closing in Scotland and Wales, he was convinced it would be a mistake to apply the Sunday Closing Act to the five exempted cities of Ireland. He considered that the people of Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick and Waterford had as much right to be able to get refreshment on the Sunday as the people of London had. Why was not a Sunday Closing Bill brought in for London? If Ireland was to be muzzled why not London? He traversed everything said by the Chief Secretary, and because he believed the Bill would lead to the demoralisation of a section of the Irish people he intended to give it his strenuous opposition.
§ MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
said, that as the Bill would largely affect the working classes in Ireland he might be permitted to say a word or two from the labour point of view. He did not agree with all his hon. Friend (Mr. Crilly) had said. He did not take the view that a great amount of harm would be done by Sunday closing, but there were one or two points which deserved consideration. In the first place some consideration must be shown for the people who were employed in the public houses, and for that reason he was rather inclined to support the Bill. But he was not in favour of entire Sunday closing, because he had had considerable experience in Cardiff and in Glasgow. He found that the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Glasgow and Cardiff had not led to a diminution of drunkenness. The 1596 shebeens of Cardiff were a disgrace to the town, and they had largely increased in number in consequence of entire Sunday closing there. He thought a death blow might be struck at the shebeens by a partial opening of public houses on Sunday. If public houses were opened for an hour or two some opportunity of rest and recreation would be afforded the people who were employed in the houses, while the working men would be able to get what they required in the way of refreshment. There were more drunken people to be seen on Sunday morning in Glasgow than in any other town or city in the country. ("Oh") He spoke from his own observation. He had crossed many of the bridges in Glasgow early on Sunday morning and met 10, 12, and as many as 20 people struggling across. He had seen these things himself, and he was not going to take the word of any hon. Member as against the evidence of his own eyes. Such a state of affairs was not found in towns where the public houses were open for a certain number of hours. He did not think, however, that it was right to keep public houses open on Sundays for as many hours as they could be kept open now. It was a disgrace to working men that they should ask that public houses should be kept open so long for their convenience, for those who worked in public houses were thereby greatly inconvenienced. He hoped that the proposals made in this Bill would be modified, and that the temperance party would be satisfied with a limitation of the Sunday hours.
§ *SIR C. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
wished to refute the extra-ordinary statements which the House had just heard. A poet had said that some individuals "think all men are mortal but themselves." When listening to the observations of the hon. Member who had just sat down it struck him that some men thought no men sober but themselves. Statistics proved that in Glasgow, in the 24 hours 1597 between 8 o'clock on Sunday morning and 8 o'clock on Monday morning, the number of arrests for drunkenness amounted to only one-sixth or one-eighth of the number of arrests on any other day of the week. No one wanted the public houses to be opened on Sundays in Glasgow; even the publicans were perfectly satisfied with the present arrangement. Since restrictions had been put upon the opening of public houses in Scotland there had been a marked diminution in drunkenness. The experience of Glasgow and of all Scotland told in the most marked and powerful manner in favour of the Bill before the House. Statements such as those made by the hon. Member who had just sat down might express what he thought he saw in Glasgow, but certainly did not represent the real state of things.
§ MR. P. DUNBAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid)
said, that as the representative of an Ulster constituency he could not refrain from giving his vote in favour of this Bill, and he should vote for it in deference to public opinion in the locality which had returned him to Parliament. But he could not give that vote without some qualification. He was on the Board of Directors of one of the largest brewery companies in Ireland, and was in a position to know that allegations detrimental to the character of the publicans of Ireland were unfounded and unfair. They were an honest and honourable body of men, who had a very difficult business to carry on, and he believed that, on the whole, they carried on the difficult business with propriety and credit to themselves. Any excessive drinking that occurred among the Irish people or any part of them was due not so much to vicious habits as to convivial and social proclivities. The general charge of excessive drinking, sometimes made against the Irish people, was greatly exaggerated, if not groundless. He was of the opinion, shared by 1598 many Members, that in fairness to the working classes public houses ought to be opened for a short time on Sundays. He was, therefore, more in favour of a reduction of the hours than in favour of total closing. A reduction of the hours would not be open to the objection raised against total closing—namely, that it would lead to more drinking in private dwellings. However, as an Ulster Member, he felt bound to record his vote in support of the Bill.
§ MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN (Limerick, W.),
explained that he would gladly go into the same Lobby with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. T. W. Russell) if he thought that the Bill would effect the object that the hon. Member had in view. But he had listened attentively to the arguments adduced in support of the measure, and he had failed to discover that from the five exempted cities any expression of opinion had come in favour of the Bill. If he could think that the Bill would tend to the social elevation of the people he would heartily support it, but his conviction, arising out of personal observation, was that the Bill, instead of attaining the objects of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, would rather have a contrary tendency. It would be likely to increase the illicit traffic in drink. He inclined to the belief that if the hon. Member for South Tyrone would endeavour to diminish the number of drinking clubs in Dublin, the cause of temperance reform would be likely to gain far more than it would gain under this Bill, which would interfere with a trade which was recognised by the State. At present in Dublin, in clubs which were supposed to be open to members only, the law was violated every Sunday. Members were supposed to have tickets, but these tickets were never used, and a member could go to a club and take a dozen companions with him. He would prefer to see a man taking a drink in a public house openly and honestly, rather than see him getting intoxicated in a club. 1599 In Cork, many clubs would spring into existence if this measure passed, and the results would be disastrous to the working men themselves and injurious to their children. Instead of spending their time at home, working men would spend their time in these clubs, and the habit of drinking would increase. In Dublin, raids had been made upon clubs, and fines had been imposed ranging from £50 to £100, and yet people had not been deterred from carrying on this illicit traffic. Would the closing of public houses be likely to decrease the number of clubs in existence and to lessen the evil of drink? No; the unfortunate man who had the craving for drink would go to a club, and so the law would be defeated because there a man could sit and drink from morning until night. He opposed this Bill then, because he knew the evil results of these clubs, and he was supported in his opposition by the opinion of the people of the five exempted cities. The hon. Member for South Tyrone was in error in thinking that there was no expression of opinion from the working men of those cities. In Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Belfast there had been strong denunciations of this measure. At a meeting in Cork in 1888, which was open only to legitimate tradesmen, a Resolution was passed almost unanimously against the provisions of an exactly similar measure. He wished the House would realise that instead of tending to the increase of temperance, instead of abolishing the evil which the hon. Member for South Tyrone alleged existed, this Bill would have a contrary effect. Working men who in many places had not comfortable dwellings would resort to clubs, and knowing the evils of the club system, he declared that it was far better that a working man should go into a public house and take his drink publicly than that he should frequent a club. He did not think that the people who were 1600 employed in public houses had any great reason to complain of the hours of work. If public houses were closed throughout Sunday working men would drink in clubs or at home, where the child would see the father drinking. The idea of drinking would then become familiar to the child, who, in consequence, would very likely develop drinking habits in manhood instead of becoming a sober member of society. It was not the wealthy classes who would be affected by this measure, but those people who owing to their position in life could not go into hotels. On the class that resorted to hotels no observation was kept by the police. Those who composed it had free admission to hotels at all hours, for they had good clothes to their backs. The man who had an inferior coat to his back was the man whom the police watched. Whilst the hotels in Dublin and Cork were passed over by the police, severe attention was bestowed upon the public houses. He should like to see a Bill introduced for the purpose of doing away with the present club system. As long, however, as that system continued to exist a Bill such as they were now considering would do no good, for instead of diminishing the drink evil, instead of bringing comfort and happiness into the home of the working man, it would have the effect of extending the club system, and would encourage the pernicious practice of private drinking.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 168; Noes 69.—(Division List, No. 45).
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL Moved, that the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Trade.
§ MR. D. CRILLY rose to oppose the Motion.1601
said, that on a previous occasion the Second Reading of a Bill of which he was in charge was carried at a quarter past five, and he then Moved that it should be referred to the Standing Committee on Trade; but the House in its wisdom refused to allow him to have it so Committed, although in the previous week the Pistols Bill of the hon. Member for Brixton had been referred to the Standing Committee on Law. On this occasion, seeing that most of the men who were interested in this Question were away in Ireland, he thought the House should pause before it permitted a Bill of this character and scope to be transmitted to the Standing Committee. There was a great deal of difference of opinion upon this Bill, and he could not see for the life of him why it should be allowed to remain in the keeping of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. Those who were opposed to the Bill were not members of the Standing Committee. He had a great interest in this Bill, and had followed and pursued it for the last ten years, and not being a member of the Standing Committee, he could not see why the Bill should be withdrawn from his purview. He thought the House ought to protest against this trick of Moving, five minutes before the half-hour, that the Bill should be sent to the Standing Committee. Surely, if hon. Members had any consideration for their constituencies they would not allow a Bill, which affected the social condition of thousands of people, to go out of the control of the House. He could understand a technical Bill being sent up to a Standing Committee, but he could not understand why a Bill, which dealt with a large social question, as this one did, should be taken away from examination by the House and shunted upstairs. They all knew what happened in the Standing Committee, and therefore he strongly protested against the Bill being sent there, 1602 and he trusted that the hon. Member would not move that the Question be now put. This was a very large question. It had been before the House for years and years, and had raised strong opposition on one side or the other, and it was in his opinion trifling with the dignity of the House of Commons to attempt to send such a Bill to a Standing Committee.
§ LORD FREDERICK HAMILTON (Tyrone, N.) Moved "that the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 149; Noes, 69.—(Division List No. 46.)
§ Question put accordingly:—
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 151; Noes, 68.—(Division List No. 47.)