§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ *MR. SPICER (Monmouth Boroughs)
In moving the Second Reading of the Sunday Closing (Monmouthshire) Bill, I am glad that the explanation of the actual Bill will not require many words. It is 824 practically a one lined Bill, and provides that the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881 shall be extended to Monmouthshire. It is the subject of the Bill upon which I will base my observations, and here again it is a portion only of the great subject of the drink traffic, which many thousands of people in this country are constantly considering with the deepest anxiety. To prove the truth of this statement one needs only to look at the opening pages of the recent Majority Report of the Royal Commission appointed by this Government on the Liquor Licensing Laws to find this comment on the drink traffic and drunkenness. They say that—It is undeniable that a gigantic evil remains to be remedied, and hardly any sacrifice would be too great which would result in a marked diminution of this national degradation.This is a sentence from the Majority Report, signed by seventeen members, of whom eight are representatives of the drink traffic. Then, again, I am not even touching the whole of what is known as the Sunday Closing Movement. That is a movement, definite, well-defined, distinctive, and complete in itself, and its support has come from a wider area than that covered by any distinctively religious or temperance society. The portion of the subject embraced in the Bill that I am about to ask the House to read a second time—namely, Sunday closing for the County of Monmouthshire—touches only one part of that great movement, but it is supported by such strong evidence in its favour, and by such strong recommendations, that I hope the House, irrespective of party, will give it its support. It is really in no case a party question, and though I see some signs of opposition from members of the Conservative party, many members of that party are, I know, strong and earnest supporters of the principle contained in this Bill. I confess I am just a little surprised at the circumstance that the rejection of the Bill is to be moved by the hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs, because his honoured father was one of the strongest and most eloquent advocates that appeared before the Lord Balfour Commission in favour of this Bill. I cannot complain of sons taking different views from their fathers; but another point surprised me more. The hon. Member has been in this House all 825 through the present Parliament, and I have never heard of his bringing forward a measure for the repeal of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. I think that before he opposes what Monmouthshire thinks would be for its benefit he should state his position in this House on a Bill for the repeal of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. May I at this point say that in occupying this position this afternoon I lay no claim to having worked in former years in the formation of public opinion on this subject. I have not had that opportunity. Many inside, and many outside, this House have been at work in connection with this movement before I was sent here in 1892 to represent the Monmouth Boroughs; at the same time, when last year the Report of the Royal Commission was issued, and we learned by that Report that both the majority and the minority had come to similar conclusions as regards Sunday closing in Monmouthshire, I felt it my duty to accept the invitation of friends in Monmouthshire to introduce a Bill on this subject. The proposal to add Monmouthshire to the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881 is no new matter. It was urged on the consideration of the House during the debates that led to the passing of the Welsh Act in 1881. It was again brought before the attention of Lord Balfour's Commission in 1889, and the evidence given before that Commission appears to me to be of the strongest character for the continuance of the Act and for the inclusion of Monmouthshire. With these preliminary observations I would say—First, the first justification which I venture to bring to the attention of the House for asking their acceptance of this Bill is that it is in complete harmony with the Majority and Minority Reports of a Commission that was appointed by the present Government to inquire into the whole subject of our Liquor Licensing Laws. I know that the House does not like quotations, but I ask their indulgence this afternoon, as I am very anxious to state the case fairly, and not to misinterpret words well considered before written down. Let us look, then, at the Majority Report, which was signed by seventeen members. That Report says, in regard to Sunday Closing in Wales—We see no reason to dissent from the general conclusions of the Royal Commission which inquired into this subject in 1890. We 826 are of opinion that in Wales, as a whole, Sunday closing has been a success, especially in rural Wales, and that if in some places, as in Cardiff, success has not been so fully maintained, improvement is discernible.There were four dissentients to these paragraphs, so that, whilst they all signed the Report, two dissented distinctly, and, if I understand correctly, there were two others who dissented also. Then as regards extension of the Act to Monmouthshire, the Report continues—There is a strong local desire in Monmouthshire to be associated with Wales in the matter of Sunday closing. We consider that this wish should be acceded to, especially as regards urban districts situated near the border. An important object is to get a border line where there is a sparse population, so that the special difficulties inseparable from the existence of different laws in adjoining localities may be reduced to the smallest compass.So much for the Majority Report. The Minority Report says—The Welsh Sunday Closing Act came into operation in the end of the year 1882. The Royal Commission on the operation of that Act in 1890 reported in favour of its continuance, and the Amendments which they suggested were made with a view of facilitating its enforcement. They had some doubts as to the wholly salutary effect of the Act in Cardiff and the mining districts of Glamorganshire, but they did not recommend a change, nor had they any doubt of the success of the Act in the rural districts where its provisions were in entire harmony with the opinion of the vast majority of the people.…We repeat that in Wales, as a whole, Sunday closing has been a success, and that if in some places, as in Cardiff, success has not yet been so fully maintained, a marked improvement is discernable, and we have no doubt that complete Sunday closing is entirely in harmony with the feelings and sentiments of the Welsh people.I want the House to observe that the Majority Report is even stronger on the border question than the Minority Report. Closely connected with Sunday closing in Wales is the proposal to give Sunday closing to Monmouthshire apart from the rest of England. Mr. E. Grove, chairman of the Monmouthshire County Council, showed by means of a map that the inclusion of Monmouthshire in the Sunday closing area would do away with many boundary difficulties now encountered. At present within four miles of the Glamorganshire border are 200,000 people, as it runs right through the coal measure. 827 But taking the eastern side of Monmouthshire as the boundary of the Sunday closing area, only 9,000 people in an agricultural district would be affected, taking a four mile radius along the line. He argues that Monmouthshire is already included in Wales for many purposes, and that public opinion there is strongly on that side. He says—There can be little doubt that Monmouthshire has a strong claim, and we are of opinion that the local desire should be acceded to in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Welsh Sunday Closing Act.My next point is that these Reports are the result not only of the evidence which the recent Commission took for itself—and I would especially refer to that given by Mr. Edwin Grove, by Mr. Maclean, by the Chief Constable of Cardiff (Mr. Mackenzie), in support, and by Mr. Lascelles Carr, who was in strong opposition—but they also had before them the evidence that had been taken by Lord Balfour's Commission in 1889. The two following extracts from the Lord Balfour's Commission give their opinion of the subject that is engaging our attention to-day—One of the suggestions most frequently made to us was the repeal of the Sunday Closing Act, or its modification in the direction of repeal by permitting the opening of public-houses for a short time in the middle and evening of Sunday, either for sale both on and off the premises, or for the latter only.In reading through the evidence I was struck with the fact that comparatively few witnesses went for repeal. What they asked was that the bona fide traveller question should be altered. But what does the Commission say in reply? They say—We cannot, after giving them the fullest and most careful consideration, endorse either of these recommendations. Had it been our duty to advise on the form of the original legislation we might have suggested that some facilities should have been given for obtaining drink in small quantities for domestic consumption. We are, however, convinced that a change in this direction would be so unwelcome to so vast a majority of the population in so large an area of the Principality, that we do not think it ought to be forced on this large area for the sake of a possible benefit to the rest of the country. Moreover we find an almost complete absence of evidence of a desire for such an amendment of the law on the part of those classes who would be most likely to require or use it.They also at that time had to deal with the border question, because, after all, 828 the Welsh Sunday Closing question can never be settled until the border question is settled. They go on to say—It was urged upon us that the present border between Wales and England is an exceptionally unfortunate one, because it happens that for a very large portion of the distance it passes through a thickly populated and mining district on the borders of Glamorgan and Monmouth. In our opinion, there is some force in the argument, and we think that the difficulties of carrying out the law in these districts have been accentuated and increased by that case. Upon this fact an argument was founded for the inclusion of the county of Monmouth within the provisions of the Act, but we regarded such questions as beyond the scope of our inquiry, and would not accept evidence bearing either upon the inclusion of particular districts or upon the special fitness of any particular line of demarcation.I am afraid that they were not quite consistent, for they did admit very strong evidence on that point—It is, in our opinion, sufficient for us to say that the special difficulties inseparable from the existence of different laws, can only be reduced to the smallest compass where the least populous border line attainable is chosen. And we think the best way of dealing with this difficulty is to make sure that in urban districts situated on the border one law should prevail. It could not be difficult, and, in our opinion, it would be right to decide either that the licensing authorities should have power to agree which law should be put in force or that, pending agreement, the law affecting the majority of the population should bind the whole.I have now stated the recommendations of the recent Royal Commission and also those of Lord Balfour's Commission, and I think from those recommendations and from the evidence on which they were founded I may make two or three general statements. First.—Sunday closing has proved to be a great success in Wales. It is true that they had in the early days—and existing even now to some extent—evils to contend with as regards she beens and bogus clubs in large cities like Cardiff. But it was also evident that these difficulties are being dealt with vigorously, and that the general condition of Wales on Sunday has undergone a great change for the better. The improvement has not simply been felt in the homes of Wales on Sunday, but it has affected those homes throughout the whole year. That is admitted on all hands by both employers and workmen. Workmen have gone to their work on Monday morning much 829 more regularly, and consequently their whole social condition has been materially improved. The school fees, where school fees have had to be paid, have been paid much more regularly, and in general life there has been far more peace and less quarrelling. There is, however, one leading difficulty which only the inclusion of Monmouthshire into the Welsh Sunday Closing Act will remedy. At present you have a large proportion in the mining districts of West Monmouthshire within a very short distance of Cardiff. The consequence has been that when the public-houses were closed in Cardiff on Sunday there has been a constant stream of people passing into this part of Monmouthshire in order to obtain what they could not legitimately obtain in Wales. So that as Lord Peel has stated in his Report, "Sunday closing in Monmouthshire would, in his opinion, lessen Sunday drunkenness in Cardiff." In confirmation of this opinion, may I read an extract from the evidence given by Mr. William Mackenzie, the Chief Constable at Cardiff? He was asked—Have you found any special difficulty in carrying out the Sunday Closing Act because of the border difficulty?—Yes, we have some difficulties in that way. We get most of our Sunday drunkenness through people going across the border on Sunday to get drink. Last Sunday, for instance, we had three cases of drunkenness, and they were all from that neighbourhood, coming back from Monmouthshire from Rhymney. There were three cases of drunkenness and one case of stabbing, by people all coming from that neighbourhood.So that if Monmouthshire were included within the Sunday Closing Act, from a police standpoint, it would much help you to carry out the law?—I think there would be very much less drunkenness in that part of the town.Again, the working classes, who are most largely affected, after seven years experience, testified most strongly before the Balfour Commission that they were in favour of the retention of the Act. I am bound to say that a great deal of this evidence was infinitely stronger than I expected to find it. I knew perfectly well what the opinions of all my Free Church friends were, and of all the leaders of all the various temperance organisations; but I was most surprised at the large amount of evidence given by working men, many of whom were not even themselves teetotallers, as to the advantages which they had obtained from the stopping of the drink traffic on Sunday. Having now stated 830 two justifications for my motion to-day, the question naturally arises, what does Monmouthshire say as regards this question? I think I can give a very satisfactory answer to that question. I presented yesterday to the House a petition in favour of this Bill from Newport containing 9,184 signatures. In addition to that, I have received sixty-one different petitions also in favour of the Bill. I have also received resolutions in favour of the Bill from the Monmouthshire County Council passed by thirty to twelve; from the Newport Town Council passed by sixteen to eleven; from the Newport Board of Guardians, which, if I recollect right, has only one against it.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire, E R., Holderness)
Will the hon. Member say what was the number of the members of the county council?
§ *MR. SPICER
I think there are seventy members on the council, but notice was given of the resolution. I have received resolutions from twenty-one different urban, district, and parish councils. Strange to say, the resolution passed by the Ebbw Vale District Council, so I am officially informed, was moved by a licensed victualler, and the seconder was also a licensed victualler. Then I have ten resolutions in favour of the Bill from school boards in Monmouthshire. You will notice that I am only giving at present information I have received from Monmouthshire itself. I have received 178 resolutions passed in public meetings held after the Sunday evening services in the different Free Churches throughout the county. In the case of about half of these meetings the numbers present were sent to me, and the total number for that half amounted to 19,587.
§ *MR. SPICER
No; I am informed that in all cases they only included the adults. These were confined also almost entirely to the votes of the working classes, and the very fact that these resolutions were passed in so many of the Free Churches shows the unanimity which exists. Perhaps, as one who knows the inside of our Free 831 Church life better than many, I may say that I should not have attributed the same value to these resolutions if they had been passed prior to 1886. Before, that time the Free Churches were mainly agreed on social and political questions, but that state of harmony was lessened by the introduction of the Home Rule question. From that moment some Congregationalists, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and Baptists found themselves sympathising with the Unionists, and the cleavage, once made, has existed to the present time. You may rely upon it, therefore, that only those questions are brought before the different churches in meetings after the ordinary Sunday evening services, upon which they are practically unanimous. I ask you, therefore, to believe me when I say that these resolutions are perhaps the best indications of the real public feeling of the earnest-minded men in the county. I would also refer to the canvassing that took place in the district of Nantyglo. The district contains 1,034 householders, and returns were obtained from 908—for Sunday closing, 763; against, 109; neutral 36. I confess that the figures that were sent me seemed so remarkable that I ventured to ask for a good many more particulars, and in response the secretary sent me a personal letter from the vicar, in which he vouches for the facts which I have already stated. There was also a canvass in Monmouth, when 252 voted in favour of the Bill; 140 against, and 43 neutral. Then the Llandaff branch of the Church of England Temperance Society conducted a canvass amongst the incumbents in Monmouthshire, when 50 voted in favour of the Bill, 16 against, and 3 were neutral. I might here mention that the canvass of Nantyglo bears out what has been the result of a good many canvasses conducted by the central Sunday Closing Association showing the wishes of the working classes, In purely working-class districts about one in ten are against the proposal; whereas if we take the district which includes some of the better class houses it is one in seven. That concludes the evidence from Monmouthshire itself. From outside the county I have received twenty-four petitions in favour of the Bill, and a great many resolutions. This morning I received a note in favour of the Bill from the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches of England, which 832 is meeting this week in Sheffield. This council represents 600 district councils, and reflects practically the opinion of something like two millions of members and adherents. Well, then, what about the opposition in Monmouthshire? We have had two meetings in Monmouth and two in Newport—one in each town of the licensed victuallers alone, and one public meeting, at each of which resolutions against Sunday closing were adopted. The Conservative party in the Monmouth district, as a party, have not taken any public part one way or another in this movement. The only exception is that of Lord Llangattock, who wrote a letter to be read at that public meeting at Monmouth. I fully appreciate Lord Llangattock's good services to the county, and the kindest criticism I can make of his letter is that I am quite sure he never would have written it if he had read the evidence and the reports founded on that evidence. On the other hand, I was agreeably surprised to find that at the public meeting held in Monmouth, with a Congregational minister in the chair, the vicar of Monmouth voted in favour of the Bill and acknowledged that he had not always been in favour of Sunday closing, but that, after looking into the whole question, he had come to believe that a Sunday Closing Act was one of those measures that would work for righteousness. Having dealt with the question of what Monmouthshire itself needs to-day, you will naturally ask, why should Monmouthshire be dealt with separately from any other county? In the first place, I must repeat here the recommendation of Lord Balfour's Commission and the recommendation of the Majority and Minority Reports of the more recent Commission, and in connection with both of these I would again lay special stress on the geographical question, which Mr. Grove explained so fully to both Commissions.Now, if you will permit me [said he in his evidence], I should like to explain this map. In the first place, that black border shows the coal basin of South Wales and Monmouth. There the small river Rhymney is the division of the two counties, and this coal basin comes right into the centre of our county of Monmouth. Therefore, all down that line of demarcation there are pits sunk, and a very large industrial population living actually upon this border line, which is a very small stream or river. Now, within four miles of this border line there is a population of something like, in round figures, at least 200,000. 833 If you come to the eastern side of our county there is the River Wye, which is a large, bold river, and forms a natural boundary and separation between this and Gloucestershire and a little bit of Hereford. You have only comparatively two small places to deal with. One is Monmouth and the other is Chepstow. There is a small place in between called Tintern, and probably the Commissioners have heard of or seen Tintern Abbey. The place is very small and hardly worth mentioning. There are only about 350 people. So that if Monmouthshire were included, the agitation now affecting 200.000 people on the western side of our county, and certainly a large number also on the northern boundary, would be brought to a line where only 9,000 people would be affected. That was our point before Lord Balfour's Commission, and we asked for the inclusion of Monmouth by amending the Sunday Closing Act.Then again, although Monmouthshire is technically an English count, it is often, for administrative purposes, and sometimes by legislation, treated as part of Wales. This has been due partly to the similarity of its development to that of the adjoining county of Glamorgan, and partly to the fact that a large proportion of its inhabitants are Welsh as to their origin, language, and habits. Monmouth was constituted into a county by 27 Henry VIII., c. 26, out of territory that was expressly stated to be part of the dominion of Wales. The position of the county at present is in many respects anomalous. In the division of the county into county court circuits, the whole of the county, along with Cardiff and Crickhowel (in Wales) and Ross (in Herefordshire) is grouped in what may be regarded as a Welsh circuit. Its inclusion in Wales for executive purposes has been general. It is so recognised by the Registrar General for statistical purposes, by the Local Government Board for poor law purposes, and by the Home Office for the purposes of the Mines Regulation, the Factory and Workshop, and Quarries Acts. In all matters educational Wales and Monmouthshire have been treated as a unit distinct from England. Both the Educational Department and the Charity Commissioners, in their superintendence and inspection of elementary and intermediate schools respectively, also include Monmouthshire in Wales, and reports specially dealing with Wales are printed in separate book form, from the annual general reports made by these two Departments. Lastly, may I deal for one moment with the objections that I have met with to this Bill? The first is that it is piece- 834 meal legislation; but in this I have the support of some who feel that there is a strong justification for this course in the present instance. For example, the Bishop of London, speaking a few weeks ago on the temperance question, said—He was always very modest in matters of legislation, and, therefore, he would be exceedingly glad to see a modest Bill introduced into Parliament which contained those points upon which the Commission were agreed. It would be impossible for the Government to refuse to give a kindly hearing to such a Bill, and one of the subjects he suggested was the question of Sunday closing.Again, it is called class legislation; but after anxiously studying the evidence which led to the Reports of the Lord Balfour's Commission, as well as the Reports of the Royal Commission, I am bound to say that the evidence given emphasises the fact that the vast majority of the working classes appear to wish for this legislation. Certainly nothing is further from my wishes than to do anything to prejudice the interests of the great working classes; but after the attention I have given to the subject, I earnestly believe that the great masses of the working classes wish to see the Bill passed. I know that there is a section of the liquor trade against it; but the most responsible leaders of the trade, after having gone into the evidence, have recommended that action like this should be taken, and, therefore, I say the House should be guided by the general feeling of the trade, rather than take the line of those who are still against the principle of the Bill because they think their interests will be affected. There has been no trade movement in Wales crying out that they have been ruined by the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881. Again, it is said that if this Bill is passed there will be an increase of shebeens and clubs. Judging by the evidence of such men as the Chief Constable of Cardiff, there seems no reason to fear that these evils will not be conquered. I say, deal with the matter as a whole, but do not decline to give Monmouth the advantage of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act because you have not dealt with these evils. And after reading the evidence before the two Commissions, and recent movements, I cannot help feeling the truth contained in the Report of the Commission of Lord Balfour, which I believe contained four members of the Conservative party, and 835 who, after hearing the evidence, came to the unanimous conclusion that "there is an almost complete absence of evidence of a desire for an amendment of the law on the part of those classes who would be most likely to require or use it." Under these circumstances I have no hesitation in asking Members in all parts of the House to give me their support in the Second Reading.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Spicer.)
§ MR. HOWELL
In rising to move the rejection of this Bill, I hope I may claim from my friends opposite the benefit of the opinion that I do so in no spirit of partisanship, but because I think honestly it is undesirable that the House of Commons should pass its Second Reading. My hon. friend opposite said in his case for the Bill that it was a very short one; but although only short in form, it applies the, whole procedure of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to the county of Monmouth. My first objection to the Bill is that, for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, a Bill has been brought in to apply a general legislative principle to one county alone. [An Hon. MEMBER: No; Durham.] We have been, I understand, protesting up and down the country that it is an undesirable thing to deal with separate countries with regard to legislation, but we have gone further with this Bill than advocating separate legislation for Ireland, Scotland, and Wales; we have got to legislation for separate counties. If we admit that principle, why should there not be legislation for separate towns and separate villages, and then, I suppose, for separate individuals?—and when that experiment is tried we shall have chaos. Apart from the liquor question and temperance reform, the principle of the Bill is a wrong principle. My hon. friend says that the county of Monmouth has a peculiar position assigned to it, and that although technically it is an English county, it is really part of the Principality of Wales. I object to the word "technically." It is an English county by the statute 27 Henry VIII., cap. 26. By that statute the county of Monmouth ceased to be a shire of Wales, and from that time it was enacted that it was to be 836 governed in the same way as the shires of England. At any rate, it was something more than "technically" a county of England. The argument for including Monmouthshire in Wales would apply in the same way to Cheshire, which is included in the Welsh circuits. The position of the county is, no doubt, anomalous, but that is no sufficient reason why it should be included now in the Act of 1881, which when passed expressly omitted Monmouthshire. The difficulty which my hon. friend pointed out as to boundaries running through large centres of population existed in 1881, and there was really no stronger case then than there is now, the same objections existing in 1881 as in 1900. My hon. friend went on to say that Monmouthshire wants this Bill. We heard a great deal from him about petitions which have been presented and public meetings which have been held. Petitions have been presented by both sides, as petitions always are, and yet, if my information is correct, the signatures attached to the petitions against the Bill number something like 20,000, all of them being the signatures of adults. Therefore a substantial minority in the county petitioned against the Bill. Take the question of public meetings. I do not think it is quite appropriate to call a meeting of a congregation which has just ceased to hold its services a public meeting. I do not think we are entitled to use the term "public meeting" in such a case. A public meeting is one that is called freely and to which everyone is admitted.
§ *MR. SPICER
If I used the words "public meeting" it was a slip of the tongue. I merely meant a meeting, not an ordinary public meeting.
§ MR. HOWELL
I accept the explanation of my hon. friend, but he did use the expression "public meeting," although he now says he did not mean it. After that admission a large part of the significance of my hon. friend's figures disappears. There are two great towns in Monmouthshire—the great commercial town of Newport and the county town of Monmouth. In those two towns two public meetings were held in the places where public meetings are generally held, and at both resolutions condemning this Bill were 837 passed by a large majority of the ratepayers and electors. In neither of these two towns have what I might term public meetings been held in favour of the Bill. I do not want to labour that point too much, because every hon. Member who sits in this House must have considerable experience of bombardment by petitions, and by resolutions passed at public meetings, which may have been full or more or less empty. I have learned to discount methods of that kind to bring pressure on this House. I will make my hon. friend a present of the fact that there is a majority in favour of this Bill in the county; but will he say because there is a majority that therefore we should pass this Bill? That would be nothing else than local option in disguise. Because a majority is in favour of this Bill, are we therefore to say that they are entitled to carry their will against the minority? That is local option. As regards the principle of local option it seems to me an extremely strange principle, because it affirms the right of the minority in the nation while denying the right of the minority in the locality. As a national movement you cannot carry certain measures of prohibition throughout the whole of the country, but because you are a substantial minority you ask Parliament where the national minority is a local majority to impose your will in a locality where you happen fortuitously to be in a majority. This is an inconsistent principle, because it affirms the right of the minority in the country generally and then denies it in certain districts. Apart from that objection to the Bill as being local option in disguise. I always have denied the right of the majority to impose their will with regard to the liquor traffic on the minority unless the matter is one vital to the commonweal. [Cheers.] I appreciate those cheers, and I know the point of issue between us is whether it is vital or not to the commonweal. Far from its being vital, there is very great doubt as to whether it would be any advantage at all. I must warn hon. Members against the confusion which has even found its way into the Report of the Licensing Commission. The distinction between the success of an Act meaning as enforced and the success of an Act meaning that the result of the Act has been successful must be kept carefully in mind. I admit where you have discipline the Welsh Sunday Closing Act has been successfully enforced; that is to say 838 the sale of intoxicating liquor in public-houses on Sundays has been prevented. But when you ask whether, in addition to the successful carrying out of the Act, the Act has had good results, that is a different question altogether. I have heard it often stated by many people of responsibility in Wales that the drinking habit has not been reduced even where the Act is successfully carried out, and what is more, that in some cases drink is taken from the licensed house into the home. When you come to think of it, that is the natural result of the Act, and I am therefore entitled to say that there is very grave doubt, even where the Act is successfully carried out, that it has been attended with successful results. Take the populous districts, which would be mainly affected by this Bill. In the populous districts you have not been able to carry out your scheme of legislation to stop the sale of intoxicating liquor on Sundays. Why? Because there is a demand for intoxicating liquor, and because it is to the great majority of people a necessary of life. The result is that where there is repressive legislation a citizen who wants to exercise his tastes sets about evading the law. How does he do it? The first thing that happens is that clubs are established. A large number of these clubs are what are called bogus clubs. They were prosecuted in Wales; the courts were continually engaged in cases sent up by the magistrates, where points of law were involved, and there were so many convictions in course of time that people interested in the clubs found out the technicalities of the law from continued judgments. They learned what they had to do to make the club and the club rules pass the test of the law, and although you do not get now that series of prosecutions of bogus clubs, because the clubs know how to evade the law, the same state of things exists. It is the easiest thing in the world to get a solicitor engaged in those cases to explain how the rules should be drawn up in order that the law might be evaded. Newport, being without the Act, has at the present moment only two clubs; whereas Cardiff, which has the Act, has a considerable number of clubs. Another result of applying the Act is that you get people who do not take the trouble to set up a club at all. They set up what is called a "shebeen," where liquor may be obtained. These shebeens are most undesirable places. I do not want to dogmatise, but 839 there is a gentleman in Cardiff, a stipendiary magistrate, who has been administering this Act for some years, and who knows all about it. I will trouble the House with one or two extracts from a very striking expression of opinion given by him. He had been trying the case of a bogus club, and on the 10th of January, 1895, after giving judgment, Mr. T. W. Lewis went on to say—Houses unlicensed for the sale of liquor are being resorted to in this borough, principally on Sundays, by such large numbers both of men and women, and the excessive drinking, disorder and crime attributable to the sale and distribution of liquor on unlicensed premises are so frequently disclosed in the course of the proceedings of this Court, that it seems expedient to add the following observations.Then he went on until he came to this:—In addition to the clubs, Cardiff, as is apparent from the prosecutions in this Court, abounds in illicit drinking places called 'shebeens.' 'Shebeens' are not unfreqnently the scenes of serious crime and of acts of savage violence upon the police. During my seven years term of office as stipendiary magistrate how many hundreds of 'she been' keepers have suffered each the maximum imprisonment allowed by law. Several have been convicted for perjury committed in defending themselves here. Many have attempted to bribe the police; many have been convicted for violent assaults in resisting the entry of the police upon their premises. In spite of the heavy penalties inflicted, in spite of the strenuous exertions and faithful discharge of their duties by a large body of police in watching, detecting, and prosecuting 'she been' keepers and bogus club keepers, the illicit trade in liquor continues, and is exercising a very corrupting influence over a large section of the poorer classes.This gentleman has more to do with this Act than anybody else. He holds a judicial position, and is not likely in connection with a matter of this kind to lose his judicial habit. His statement shows the existence of a terrible condition of affairs. Then Mr. Lewis continued:—With the very laudable object of diminishing drunkenness various social reformers are advocating various liquor licensing systems, and the Legislature has created stringent laws for the regulation of licensed houses. But the regulation and supervision required for unlicensed houses, when licensed houses are closed or in districts where licensed houses do not exist, are not appreciated by liquor law reformers, nor apparently have such regulation and supervision been contemplated or provided for by the Legislative as essential accompaniments of limiting the number or hours of trading of licensed houses. It is not my province to seek a cause for or to trace the origin 840 of the illicit drinking establishments of Cardiff. If the cause be a harsh or too arbitrary limitation of the time during which liquor may be obtained legitimately on licensed premises, the Legislature may so relax the law as to remove the temptation to resort to unlicensed premises.Although all these defects have been pointed out my hon. friend now proposes to extend the evils of the "she been" and the bogus club to the county of Monmouth. Why did not my hon. friend add to his Bill a couple of sections dealing with "shebeens" and bogus clubs? Then he might have said that the result of the Bill would not be to bring about these evils in Monmouthshire. Another evil connected with the Act is the bona fide traveller provision. You find respectable men travelling three miles to get alcoholic drink. They would not go to a bogus club, and they would certainly have nothing to do with a "shebeen." They have a notion of their own rights, and when they want a glass of beer on Sundays they travel three miles for it. That is a lawful evasion of the law as compared with the unlawful evasion of the bogus club and the "she been." The bona fide traveller provision has acted as a kind of safety valve, and if it had not been included there would have been a much greater agitation against the Act, and even if the three-mile limit is extended there will be very strong opposition to the Act as a whole. My hon. friend would like to do away with the bona fide traveller altogether. That is the position taken up by a section of the Royal Commission. I do not like to prophesy, but I think one of the results would be an explosion of public opinion if the safety valve were shut down.
§ MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W.R., Spen Valley)
Can the hon. Member refer us to the part of the Report of the Royal Commission in which that appears?
§ MR. HOWELL
If it is not in the Report it was given in evidence, but I will content myself with saying that some temperance reformers are in favour of the abolition of the bona fide traveller. If they succeed I prophesy dire results. By this Bill you will carry into Monmouthshire these bogus clubs, and clubs which are not bogus because they evade the law by proper rules and regulations, and "she been," and you will also introduce the 841 bona fide traveller. You will have in Monmouthshire, as in Glamorganshire at present, large bodies of men going about the country on Sundays and destroying peace and quiet. Why not leave Monmouthshire alone? At present it is in a very much better position as regards sobriety than Glamorganshire, which has got the Sunday Closing Act. I can quote figures, showing that where the Act is enforced drunkenness has increased, whereas it has decreased in districts to which the Act does not apply. In the quinquennial period 1878–82, the number of convictions for drunkenness per 100,000 of the population in Monmouthshire was 734; in the last quinquennial period, 1893–97, the figures were 634, showing that there has been substantial progress in sobriety. What is the condition of Glamorganshire? In the period 1878–82 the number of convictions per 100,000 was 771, and in the period 1893–97 it had increased to 1,314. Yet Glamorganshire is a county to which the Act applies, and Monmouthshire is with out the Act, and you now propose to introduce the Act into Monmouthshire in spite of the striking progress in sobriety which has been made there. My contention is that where this Act applies there are more bogus clubs and "shebeens" and the districts are more addicted to drink. I do not see what answer can be given to the figures I have quoted. Beyond that, this Act would be another interference with the right of the citizen. I would like to quote from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire—who of course is now deeply interested in this measure—which he delivered in Oxford in 1872. This question was then even more acute than it is to-day.
§ MR. HOWELL
The right hon. Gentleman then said—I heard it affirmed that crime, poverty, and disease were the results of increased and increasing drunkenness. When I come to examine the assertions I find they cannot be supported. There seems to be, day by day, a growing disposition more and more to invoke the interference of Government in every relation of social life. I believe this to be a most dangerous tendency and one to which it is necessary to offer an early and determined 842 resistance. The question is, can you or ought you to put down drinking by legislation? You might of course make it impossible for any man to get anything to drink, and then of course no man could get drunk. Just in the same way you might put an end to all crime by putting everybody in prison. But when you have put everybody in prison you will not have made your population virtuous.I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the figures I have quoted. You shut up the public-houses in Glamorganshire, and you have not such a good result as in Monmouthshire. The right hon. Gentleman further said—What really makes sobriety valuable is the voluntary self-control, the deliberate self-denial which resists temptation and leads a man for the sake of himself and of others to abstain from vicious indulgence, and this is a thing you cannot create by Act of Parliament. I am against the whole system of 'petty molestation' and irritating dictation whether by a class or a majority. I am against forbidding a man to have a glass of beer if he wants a glass of beer.Those were the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman. If he supports this Bill he is indulging in "petty molestation" of a substantial minority in Monmouthshire. If they want a glass of beer on Sundays they will be forbidden, if this Bill is passed, to have it. That, I submit, is a principle which the House should reject. It is "petty molestation" and irritating interference with the rights of the citizen. I move the rejection of this Bill because it is, I think, a wrong principle of legislation to ask this House to apply a broad principle of temperance reform to one county. In the second place, no case has been proved why this particular attention should be paid to Monmouthshire. Further, I say it is wrong to argue that because the majority of the county asks for this Bill it ought to be passed. That is local option. If you want local option the proper course would be to bring in a general Bill for the whole country which could be argued out before a full House. This Bill is wrong because, without trying to deal with the defects in the Act, it proposes to extend the Act to Monmouthshire and to introduce into that county bogus clubs, "shebeens," and the bona fide traveller, although Monmouthshire was expressly excluded from the operations of the Act. Moreover, this is a measure of class prohibition. The poor man's cellar is the licensed house; you are locking it; but I doubt if many hon. Members in 843 this House lock their cellars on Sundays, In conclusion, with regard to temperance reformers, I would say that it is a bad thing for their movement that they should attempt piecemeal legislation of this kind. I would say that until they learn to be just to the interests which are involved, and give greater weight to the rights and liberty of the individual citizen, they will delay the advent of that temperance measure which the vast majority of the people of this country desire to see. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.' "—(Mr. Howell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ *MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
The hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of this Bill has, as was to be expected, made out as plausible a case as possible. I will not dispute that there is a great deal of force in some of the arguments which he used any more than I will deny that there is considerable difficulty in dealing satisfactorily with questions of licensing reform. But although I listened to the hon. Gentleman with great care, I am bound to say he did not seem to me to answer in any satisfactory way any of my hon. friend's arguments. He stated that his chief objection to this Bill was that it extended general legislation to a single county, but he appears to have overlooked the fact that such extension has been very common. The very Act which he himself quoted from—the Act of Henry VIII.—which he says incorporated Monmouthshire with England, extends general legislation to particular counties, and you will find all through our statutes sections relating specially to Durham, Cornwall, and other counties. But more than that—it is within his personal experience that it is the practice now by Private Bill to extend matters of general legislation to particular districts. A Police and Sanitary Com- 844 mittee has been appointed by this House, and its duty is to deal with these various points of general legislation, and therefore it is idle now for the hon. Gentleman to tell us that this is an absolutely novel principle.
§ *MR. MCKENNA
Oh, no. There are many prohibiting clauses in the Bills which come before the Polices and Sanitary Committee, and even new criminal offences have been made in particular districts. There is nothing novel in the idea, and if the House is led to imagine there is, and that by passing this Bill it would be opening a now era of legislation, it would be entirely mistaken. The hon. Gentleman disputes the statement of my hon. friend that Monmouthshire is merely an English county technically, and he referred to the 26th Chapter of the 27th of Henry VIII. I have read that Act with some care, and there is nothing in it which directly asserts that Monmouthshire is in England. So far from there being such a direct statement, I find in a marginal note in which the shires of Wales are mentioned that Monmouthshire is included among them. So far as that statute is concerned the inference might be drawn either way, and if the hon. Gentleman is really impressed with the fact that the Bill proposes to interfere with an English county, and that the claim of England to have full liberty to get drunk on Sundays is being broken into, he may console himself with the reflection that it is really a very technical and disputable point as to whether Monmouthshire is or is not in England. The hon. Gentleman also objected to the Bill on the ground that it was local option in disguise. I suppose he would call it the thin end of the wedge. I do not stand here at all in the guise of a temperance reformer. I have been asked in my own constituency whether I would support a Sunday Closing Bill for England, and on several occasions I have refused to pledge myself to any such measure. In a measure of this kind what we have to look to are the sentiments, feelings, and habits of the people concerned. The hon. Gentleman proposes that legislation should not be devised in accordance with the convenience of the people, but in order to satisfy some abstract idea of legis- 845 lative uniformity. Whether it is local option or not it is immaterial if it is necessary or suitable for the people, and we are not going to be frightened away from any good measure by the idea that we are introducing some new principle of legislation. Whether Sunday closing would be as advantageous in Middlesex as in Monmouthshire is a very doubtful question. In Monmouthshire it would be welcomed; in Middlesex I very much doubt whether it would be acquiesced in. Nobody need fear that in allowing this Bill to pass he will be constrained by argumentative process into voting for Sunday closing in England. Then the hon. Gentleman referred to the interference with the liberty of the subject proposed by this Bill; but the whole of our licensing legislation is an interference with the liberty of the subject. Why does this particular matter suddenly strike the hon. Gentleman as new? If the British subject is to have full liberty to get drunk, why not after half-past twelve or eleven or half-past ten, according to the hour the public-houses are closed in different places? All the small measures of useful social legislation which the hon. Gentleman promised at the last General Election would be an interference with the liberty of the subject. why, then, refuse to give our consent to this measure because it embodies the very principle on which all our licensing legislation is based? The hon. Gentleman gave us some evidence as to "sheebeens". and clubs, and he endeavoured to make out the best case he could. I do not know whether he would say, for instance, that because there is smuggling we should have no excise laws. I do not deny that there are bogus clubs, "shebeens" and other abuses of the law, but that does not prove that the balance of advantage is not with Sunday closing in Wales. This House is not a good tribunal to try questions of fact. We have not time to bring out all the evidence; we have no means of cross-examination. We recognise that we are not the best judges of fact by appointing Royal Commissions. There was a Commission in 1890 appointed by a Conservative Government with the express purpose of inquiring into the very charges of shebeening and bogus clubs which have been brought before the House by the hon. Gentleman. This is not a new matter. It has all been discussed, 846 witnesses have been examined and cross-examined, and the Royal Commission, which was not appointed by any means to defend the Welsh Closing Act, reported on that matter—not as a matter of conjecture, but after nine years experience of the working of the Act—as to what Parliament should do. When I find the members of that Royal Commission—who might be expected, from a pecuniary or propagandist bias, to come to opposite conclusions—agreeing on a matter of fact I take it that we could not have better evidence that the fact is true. The Commission of 1890 reported upon three matters. They reported first on the improvement in the condition of the streets as the result of the Act. They stated that the condition of the streets had been a real grievance and had been largely improved. The second matter in the Report was in reference to the greater regularity of the attendance of workmen at their places of employment. Upon that matter employers had been practically unanimous, although many of the employers who gave evidence on that point were against the Act. They stated that greater regularity had been substantially proved. The third point dealt with was under the general head of the increased comforts of the people, and upon that head the Commission reported it might be fairly claimed that this great abstention on the first day of the week—the day of greatest temptation—had been a powerful factor of moral improvement. Theirs is not the language of temperance enthusiasts, but of men who were appointed to inquire into the weak spots of the Sunday Closing Act. Having heard all the evidence, and testing all the evidence, they reported that they could not, after giving it the fullest and most careful consideration, endorse either the recommendation to repeal the Sunday Closing Act or to modify it by permitting the opening of public-houses for a short time in the middle of the day and the evening of Sunday. This Commission, which had all the evidence before them, decided in favour of the continuation of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. My hon. friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill has dealt very fully and very ably with the Report of the second Royal Commission. In that Report only two gentleman can be found out of twenty-four who are adverse and report against extend- 847 ing the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to Monmouthshire. They, too, had everything before them, and, as the hon. Gentleman has said, they knew about the shebeens and the bogus clubs, and yet six out of eight of those who were themselves interested in the liquor trade decided in favour of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. Could there be stronger evidence of the facts in this matter? What more is there to be said on the subject when you have got so unanimous Reports of two Commissions? Why, it would not be proper to waste the time of the House in going into further evidence or to refer to the vast number of petitions, the number of letters and resolutions, and the correspondence of all sorts I have received, like, I assume, my hon. colleagues in the representation of Monmouthshire. I hold in my hand the whole of the correspondence I have received adverse to this Bill. They consist of representations coming mainly from representatives of the licensed trade. I have one letter from a man representing himself as a working man. I have two resolutions from public meetings called, I think, both in the same town, and the rest represent resolutions of the licensed trade. I have received seven or eight of them, as against petitions and resolutions in favour of the Bill I could number by the score. Opposition to this Bill in Monmouthshire outside the trade is very slight. Organised opposition there is none; individual opposition there may be. When the hon. Member says it has a bare majority in Monmouthshire I can assure him it is something entirely different. The people in favour of this are not only the temperance people. They include numbers of men who are accustomed to go to the public-house. They ask the House to give a real meaning to their prayer, "Lead us not into temptation." They are tempted to go into the public-houses, and it is in their weakness that they cry, "Close these houses from us." This is a Bill in conformity with the will of the people of Monmouthshire, and by passing it I feel that the House will be doing a wise act, an act which will lead to the greater happiness of the public, and which will better the condition of the people of Monmouthshire.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton)
I do not intend to go into the 848 particular merits of the Bill at the present time. I have never been able to support local option or Sunday closing. To a great extent my views were expressed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. What I am interested in at the same time is some advance in licensing reform, and that something should be done for temperance legislation. I complete this month thirty years experience in this House, and it is a humiliating fact that in looking back over that period next to nothing has been done in regard to temperance or licensing reform, and while, appreciating the object of my friend the hon. Baronet opposite and those who have worked with him, I lay it at their door very largely that it is so. They have lost opportunity after opportunity in a House which was prepared to pass measures which would greatly have promoted the cause of temperance. I think something like a modified Sunday closing might have been introduced. I think that at the time of the Local Government Bill an immense deal might have been done if the cry of the advanced temperance reformers had not been raised against the compensating of the publicans. If these clauses had been carried out there would have been hundreds of thousands of public-houses done away with. Still, from whatever cause the temperance cause has been hindered, there remains the fact that next to nothing has been done. This Government on coming in with a strong majority instituted a Licensing Commission, which sat for three years with great labour. I think that the credit of the Government and of this House is at stake if something is not done, in carrying out their recommendations, and if we simply sit down and allow them to become a dead letter, I say that it is a very serious imputation upon the credit of this House. I would deeply regret the fact. In 1890 there was a Majority and a Minority Report, but there are many points on which both the majority and the minority are agreed, and I take it that when they were agreed upon this occasion by twenty-two against two, I certainly cannot refuse to carry out their recommendations. I know how thorny a question this licensing question is. I know how many Governments have tried their hands and burned their fingers in attempting to deal with it. I cannot hope that my right hon. friend the 849 Home Secretary will do much this session, but I hope that he will feel that the Government are bound to take up those points on which the majority and the minority are agreed, and endeavour to pass legislation. This question which is before us to-day is one of those points on which there was most substantial agreement, and therefore I have no hesitation in giving my support to the Bill.
*MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
I may be allowed to express the hope that with regard to the points upon which the Commissions were practically united, the Government and the House will take the view that these points should be embodied at all events in a Bill and passed into law with as little delay as possible. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has indicated that he does not think it very likely that can be done this session. I hope nevertheless that that remark of his does not refer to the special Bill we are now considering. I think this Bill stands more or less by itself outside of the general recommendations of the Commission. It is a Bill in which the Welsh representatives take a keen interest, and owing to circumstances in the past the interest I take in it personally must always remain. I do not think it is necessary to reply in any detail to the speech of my hon. friend who has moved the rejection of the Bill. I agree entirely with the statement of my hon. friend that the case has been so fully and ably stated by my hon. friend the Member for the Monmouthshire District that it is unnecessary to occupy the time of the House in any further discussion upon the evidence which has been laid before the House in favour of the passing of this measure. But there are one or two points in the speech of my hon. friend the Member for the Denbigh District to which I wish to refer. I do not believe on an occasion of this kind in making personal references, but I think the House should be reminded of the fact that it is rather a strange thing in regard to this Bill, which is directly connected with Welsh opinion, that my hon. friend opposite should be selected to move the rejection of the measure, because it is a well known fact that my hon. friend some time ago announced his intention to leave at the next election. He has referred to the experiences we have gained up to now in regard 850 to the operation of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881, and he drew a distinction, and I think in many ways a fair distinction, between the result of that Act and the principle of that Act—or rather the intention of the Act when it was passed. He has pointed to the fact that in the populous districts, and especially in Cardiff, a number of difficulties have arisen which have been the means of securing the evasion of the Act in many directions. One of his complaints against the Bill now under discussion is that it deals only with the subject of Sunday closing in the county of Monmouth, and that it has no clauses within it for the purpose of meeting those practical difficulties which have arisen with regard to the general operation of the Act. I have only to reply to that in one word. As the House may be aware, I have for many years brought forward a Bill in this House to incorporate the recommendations of the Commission of 1890, with regard to the amendment and strengthening of the Act, and it is the firm belief of the large majority of the people of Wales, and of the Commission upon which I sat, that if these recommendations were carried out the practical difficulties he has referred to in regard to shebeening and bogus clubs in Cardiff would immediately disappear. But the House remembers that upon the only occasion when I had the chance of bringing forward that amending Bill here, it was the hon. Member opposite who talked it out. The hon. Member opposite has made reference to two special points in regard to the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Cardiff which he said would be affected injuriously by the passing of this Bill. The first point which he raised was the question of clubs. He pointed out that there had been, owing to the operation of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, an increase in the number of clubs in Cardiff. He went on to say that if we as a House sanctioned the principle of the inclusion of Monmouthshire within the Act these difficulties would be multiplied in the future. I would like, however, to remind the House of one or two facts in reference to this difficulty of the increase of clubs which is alleged to have taken place owing to the operation of the Sunday Closing Act. In the first place, I should like to make it plain with regard to clubs 851 in Cardiff that that town stands very much better than most English towns of similar population. The inference to be drawn from the speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite was that because of the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Cardiff there had been an immense increase in the number of drinking clubs there, and that the town therefore compared unfavourably in that regard to English towns of a similar character and population. I will just remind the House that there were in 1897 in Cardiff—I am giving from memory the evidence submitted to the Commission—thirty known clubs at which drink was sold. Now take two towns of similar population in England—Oldham and Bradford. In Oldham there were no less than sixty-nine—more than twice as many—and in Bradford eighty-one—almost three times as many. In other words, where you have not Sunday closing you have more drinking clubs, and where you have, Sunday closing you have fewer.
*MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
I have no note of that, but I can assure my hon. friend that the clubs in both these places were clubs of a similar character, and I should be very much surprised if they were larger in any material respect. Another point with regard to clubs is this. Evidence was placed before us when sitting on the Commission to the effect that the number of those who used these clubs for drinking purposes had largely increased since 1889. In 1889, so far as Cardiff was concerned, a return was made which indicated that from a census of those attending the clubs there were found to be drinking within the clubs in that year 2,600. In 1895 there were over 5,000. But the witness who made that statement—Mr. Lascelles Carr, the editor of the Western Mail, an able and persistent opponent of the Act—pointed out that this was due to an increase having taken place in clubs of the political complexion to which he belonged. The third point I wish to make is that, previous to the passing of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881, in the year 1877 no fewer than seventy-eight bogus clubs were suppressed by police proceedings. At that time the town of Cardiff had a population of 80,000. In 852 1895 there were twenty-four, and in 1897 the number was thirty when the population had increased to 170,000. The other point made by my hon. friend opposite was on the question of shebeening. I would be the last in this House to say that that does not exist in Cardiff as a real difficulty. This difficulty existed before the passing of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, and it is a thing which has been grappled with, and can be grappled with by the ordinary operation of the law. If the recommendations made in the Bill, to which I have already referred and which I have introduced many times in the House, were carried out, the difficulty would be almost entirely done away with. It is a fact that there have been, during recent years in Cardiff, a large number of prosecutions in connection with those illicit sales of beer in shebeens. In 1891 there were 120 prosecutions; in 1892, 360; in 1893, 220; in 1894, 216; in 1895, 196; and in 1896, 106; so that it is true, that with regard to the number of shebeens there has been of late years a steady diminution in the number of prosecutions. That has been brought about, no doubt, by a more effective and strict police supervision of them. I also have a note here of a loading article in the Western Mail for 28th January, 1897, bearing on this subject, in which these word occur—Probably we have shebeens in Cardiff, but what of clubs, and what of private drinking?I should say that the article was written decidedly against the policy and operation of the Sunday Closing Act, and the point which was made was that although it was true that there were fewer shebeens in Cardiff—what of clubs, and what of private drinking? I have already pointed out that, in regard to clubs, Cardiff does not stand behind but rather before similar towns in England. I have two other points to make in regard to shebeening—first of all, the point of their local distribution. More than one reference has been made in the course of the debate to the remarkable evidence given by the Chief Constable of Cardiff—evidence worthy of the most serious consideration of this House. What he pointed out was this, that in the year 1896, out of 106 prosecutions for shebeening, no fewer than ninety-eight came from one district, and that the lowest district in the town. He pointed out, 853 further, that the character of those who were prosecuted made it absolutely clear what kind of people frequented them. Out of the 106 prosecutions twenty-one were thieves, seventeen were persons who had been previously convicted, and forty were connected with houses of ill-fame. In other words, 75 per cent. of those prosecuted belonged to the lowest stratum of human society in the town of Cardiff, and I would ask the House whether it is necessary in the interest of people of this kind and character to, in any way, modify the Sunday Closing Act or to give them facilities for drinking on Sundays. The real question before the House, I take it, to-day is this: Will the granting of Sunday closing to the county of Monmouth lessen or increase the difficulties and the operation of the Act in Cardiff and the populous districts about Cardiff? There is no doubt about the desire of the county on the point. The only serious objection that can be urged to the Bill is whether, if passed, it would increase the difficulties of the operation of the Act in Cardiff itself. I submit that the evidence is overwhelmingly against that supposition. It was stated before the Commission of 1896 and the Commission of 1889 that there had been a distinct improvement in public order upon Sunday in Cardiff itself. The hon. Gentleman opposite seemed to make rather light of the opinion of the Royal Commission, but, after all, I do not think this House will agree with him in that. For three years we sat taking evidence on these points drawn from every possible quarter, and we were by no means of one mind on the question, but we were of one mind on this point. The Chief Constable, when asked whether Cardiff was worse than Bristol or Manchester, replied that it was not worse than either of them. Similar evidence was given by other witnesses. The Chief Constable also said they got most of their Sunday drunkenness from people coming over the border. The chief difficulty in regard to Sunday closing in Wales had reference to the border between Cardiff and Monmouthshire. The hon. Member opposite and those who agree with him seem to have made up their minds that whatever you do in regard to Cardiff the evils of Sunday drinking are bound to continue and are bound to increase. I am not one of those who are prepared to endow Cardiff with a double dose of 854 original sin. I fail myself to see how it is likely that Cardiff is bound to be permanently on the increase as regards Sunday drinking. What I say is that, given similar conditions as have existed in regard to this portion of the law in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and other large towns in Scotland, and I say the results will be and are bound to be the same. Cardiff, as my hon. friends on this side know, has of late shown that it is desirous of entering in fully with the national aspirations of Wales. I do not know whether it is not a fact that Cardiff dreams of some day being the capital of Wales. At all events it has made up its mind, so far as the great majority of the inhabitants are concerned, to do nothing to thwart or oppose the trend of national opinion in Wales, and that being so I do not think it expresses the real view of the place to say that it is desirous permanently to put itself behind Wales in regard to Sunday closing. If this Bill is passed I have no doubt it will be in accordance with the overwhelming opinion of the country. If passed, I feel sure it will make Sunday closing in Wales still more a success; and lastly, I believe it will be the means of enabling the people of Wales to go forward one more important step along the path of social and moral progress.
§ MR. MACLEAN
The hon. Member who spoke last made some pleasant remarks on the natural and legitimate aspirations of Cardiff to become the capital of Wales, and he seemed to think that if Cardiff identified itself with the Sunday closing movement that would in some way tend to strengthen her claim. But I must say from my own experience I do not think that Cardiff would be more likely to achieve her sublime ambition to become the capital of Wales if she put a stop altogether to the sale of strong liquor in the town. On the contrary, I believe that the Sunday Closing Act has only succeeded there because it is systematically evaded, and because anybody who wishes to get strong drink on Sunday can do so in a perfectly open and natural manner in spite of the Sunday Closing Act. Much stress has been laid in the debate on the fact that the Royal Commission which recently sat were unanimous in recommending that the 855 Sunday Closing Act should be extended to Monmouthshire. But too much importance should not be attached to that conclusion. We know a good deal about the history of that Royal Commission. We know that the members were constantly engaged for a very long period in quarrelling with one another and with their chairman, and I suppose that when it came to their making up their Report they looked about to see if there was any particular point on which it was possible for them all to come to some agreement, and at last they decided that they would recommend the extension of Sunday closing to Monmouthshire, on the principle de minimis non curat lex. Certainly the Report of that Commission has not attracted great attention from the Government of the day, and it has not made a very great impression on the country. The Government have not, so far as I am aware, attempted to introduce legislation based upon that Report. Supposing they were to do so, it would be exceedingly puzzling, because the Commission, by a very large—indeed an overwhelming—majority condemned local option, and then immediately stultified itself by recommending local option for Monmouthshire. That is what the present Bill comes to. If the Government proposed to bring in a large licensing measure dealing with the whole question, we should be prepared to discuss it, and possibly then the whole subject might be thoroughly threshed out; but it seems to me that as the Government has refused to have anything to do with the Licensing Commission, so far, we might wait until it takes up the Report before we are qualified to deal with one particular section of the subject. We have had a speech from one of the Members for Monmouth, who very frankly declares that he is not an advocate for Sunday closing for England; he says it is to be adopted in Monmouthshire simply because the people there happened to be in favour of it. That is a very strange proposal to lay before the House of Commons. It appears that English Members are asked to-day to indulge in an act of vicarious sacrifice; they are to go on allowing their constituents in all parts of the country to drink as freely as they like on every day of the week; but a line is to be drawn at Wales, and we are to enhance our own sense of morality and respectability and 856 temperance by compelling the people of Monmouthshire to abstain from having anything to drink on the first day of the week. I do not think that is a principle of legislation which ought to be adopted in this House. Clearly, if we are to have local option adopted in Monmouthshire it will creep along to Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, and then up the whole line of the Great Western Railway to London. You cannot have this principle adopted in one part of the country and not in the rest. I should like to know what line the Government itself intends to take with regard to this measure. Here is a piecemeal proposal of legislation inflicting a very serious burden upon a trade with which the Government is not at all anxious to interfere. Everybody who has interfered with that trade, as the hon. Baronet opposite knows, has burnt his fingers in the progress. The right hon. Baronet who spoke just now warned the hon. Baronet of the mistake he made in not allowing compensation to the brewers some years ago. Similar penalties are about to be inflicted upon the licensing trade. It is only a week ago we heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer come down here and state that he was looking about for money, and he immediately asked the beer and spirit trades to supply him with £2,500,000 in addition to the enormous revenue they already yielded to the Exchequer. Is it an opportune season, immediately after the sacrifice the trade has so willingly made, for the Government to say, "We are going to impose fresh penalties upon the trade"? We have had a good deal of discussion about the way in which Sunday closing is received in Wales. It was sprung upon the people there as a complete surprise, because English Members would not take the trouble to interfere in the matter. They did not foresee that the principle adopted there would ultimately be extended to their own country. It is said that the principle has been gladly adopted throughout Wales. It has not been so adopted in Cardiff, as has been proved over and over again. All the Commissions which have sat have agreed upon this point—that it is impossible to carry out legislation of this kind in any populous district. Why is it carried out, or said to be carried out, in Cardiff? Simply because there are an immense number of clubs there, so that everybody who desires a glass of beer or 857 spirits on Sunday can get it in a perfectly natural and legitimate manner. It does not require a she been or any illegitimate, means to evade the Act. So far as Cardiff is concerned, the Sunday Closing Act is a perfect delusion; it does not really exist. The Act has no force in Cardiff, because everybody who wants to drink knows where he can go to get anything he desires. But my main objection to this Bill consists in the fact that it is piecemeal legislation. The whole question of licensing legislation ought to be undertaken as one subject. A measure ought to be introduced by the Government of the day after careful consideration of the various Reports that have been presented by the recent Royal Commission. I contend that it is absolutely absurd that a small body of Members in this House should put forward one particular recommendation of the Commission, and say that it should be adopted in preference to all the other recommendations. I throw the responsibility on the Government of dealing with that Commission, and I protest against the notion that Wales is to be made the scapegoat in a matter of this kind, while England goes altogether scathless. I shall certainly oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, because I consider it is a perfectly unauthorised and unwarrantable attempt to interfere with the settled habits and enjoyment of the population.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
Of all the observations which have been made in the course of this debate, the last remark of the hon. Member who has just spoken strikes me, as a Scotchman having some experience of the subject under discussion, as the most extraordinary. It is said that Wales or Monmouthshire is to be made the scapegoat for dangerous experiments. I come from a country where we have had Sunday closing for forty-seven years, but we have not felt that our national independence has been in the slightest degree impinged upon or that in the matter of the liquor traffic our nation has been made a pack of scapegoats. I entirely agree that we must be taught and guided by experience, and unless we are to adopt the absolutely hopeless attitude of saying that if in liquor reform we cannot do everything at once we will do nothing at all, we must take the experience of one 858 locality or one country to help and guide us with regard to the application or extension of the experiment elsewhere. The last speaker has said some things not very complimentary about the Royal Commission. I lament that the Royal Commission on this thorny topic did not find its way to agree on many of the points that were put before it; but surely it is the duty of this House, however small the agreement of that Royal Commission may have been, if there are one or two or three points on which the majority and the minority are absolutely unanimous in recommending a certain course, to welcome and follow the leading which is given. The hon. Member for Cardiff has made one or two observations bewailing the inaction of the Government. Whether he did so in sincerity or in sarcasm the House can best judge. I had better confess at once that if on this topic of licensing reform we are to wait for the action of Her Majesty's Government, and if the policy of Her Majesty's Government is to do nothing until it can do everything, then indeed we may wait until the crack of doom. It is time that somebody should show what has been the experience outside England and Wales on this very important social topic. Since the year 1853 we have had the experience of Sunday closing, not in one district, not only in country districts or only in towns, but in the whole of Scotland, and we have now also the unanimous verdict of the Royal Commission on this subject. Anyone anxious for licensing reform can by plodding through the Commission's Report find not a few matters upon which we are able to say the majority and the minority agree. I would venture to put forward this broad proposition: There is no man of sense and experience in this House or out of it who has any responsibility for his utterances who would for one moment propose the repeal of the Sunday Closing Act of Scotland. Lord Peel's Report gives, only in other words to the same effect, the verdict of the Report of the majority. It says—The practical unanimity of Scottish opinion renders it impossible to question the success, and unnecessary to discuss the policy, of Sunday closing. No single class has asked for a repeal of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, and it is universally considered that it should be maintained.And yet I suppose we are the scapegoats! I would specially commend these next 859 sentences to those who care so much and speak so strongly for the interests of the trade—There is no person of experience and knowledge of Scotland who would think of going back. There has been no agitation among the members of the trade to repeal the Act. The re-opening of public-houses would not be listened to for a moment. There is no tendency in Glasgow to go back, but the very reverse. Not half a dozen publicans in Edinburgh would assist or encourage an agitation for the repeal of the Act; nor is there a constituency in Scotland which would return a member who announced himself as in favour of such a repeal. The success of the Act is so generally recognised that the Free Church has ceased to record it in their reports. Publicans would object to its repeal more strongly than any other body.There are three classes of opinion in Scotland on this subject. The first class of opinion I may call the representative, and I will take one sentence from the evidence of one witness—one of the most able, high-minded, and sincerely good public servants who have ever lived in Scotland, the Lord Provost of Glasgow. His evidence before the Commission was in the following terms—(Q.) Is there any tendency in Glasgow to go back on Sunday closing?—(A.) No, the very reverse.(Q.) Do you think that an extension of the opening of public-houses for a couple of hours in the day for the accommodation of bona fide cyclists and others would meet with approbation?—(A.) It would not; it would meet with very great disapproval.That is the opinion, in a word, of the public in general in Scotland. I will now take the opinion, not of the magistrates, not of the representatives of public opinion, but of those in charge of public order, because that appears to me to go to the root of the distinction which the hon. Member was good enough to draw. It may, or may not, be called local option, but the question is whether those who live in a district and suffer by the crime and disorder within the district should not have the governing of that district in regard to this matter. I therefore take the Chief Constable of Aberdeen as a fair exponent of this class of opinion. He has been chief constable for seventeen and a half years, and he was asked this question—Have you during your experience ever heard any desire expressed by any considerable section of the public to repeal Sunday closing?860 What is his answer?Never. I think the publicans themselves would object to it more strongly than any other body.I will now take the opinion of the publicans as given through the secretary of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, or a body of that kind, Mr. Purvis. This is his evidence on this question:(Q.) May I ask, on behalf of the association you are connected with, have you ever heard of any agitation among the members of the trade to repeal the Sunday Closing Act?Remember, this is an official, entitled to express the official and representative opinion of the trade. His answer is—There has been no agitation. (Q.) From a selfish point of view, from the point of view of their own interests and a desire to consult their own comfort, they do not wish the present system altered?—(A.) That is so. (Q.) They wish to have their places closed on Sundays?—(A.) Yes. You might get some, but very few, to advocate Sunday opening.I thought it right to interpose in this debate simply to say that it is quite a mistake to suppose that we are applying to one part of England or to a fringe of Wales a principle which has had only eighteen years experience in one part of these islands. We are applying a principle which has held sway in Scotland with universal approbation for forty-seven years, and unless experience is to go for nothing, we who come from Scotland, no matter on which side of the House we sit, are surely entitled to go into the lobby with our Welsh friends, and to say that by our experience we can aver and take our oath that they will benefit in Monmouthshire as we have benefited in Scotland by the application of this principle. It is altogether a mistake to say that it means a sacrifice on the part of the trade. It means nothing of the sort. The trade itself, having had this experience in Scotland, are the first to decline to go back. Not only have we a negative idea, but we have positive grounds for this view, which are most illustrative. Here are certain figures as to the number of people drunk and incapable. This is on the assumption that there may be something in the remarks of the last speaker with regard to clubs. I do not see much in the argument as to clubs. It would rather appear to me that the corollary would be to shut 861 the clubs, but not to open the public-houses. But, clubs taken into account, what are the actual statistics given by Mr. Wyness, chief constable for Aberdeen? He takes the whole apprehensions in Aberdeen for being drunk and incapable. The average for a series of years was 340 per annum. Will the House believe it, the number for the year being 340, the number on Sundays is two? We cannot reckon it in percentages. But there is more than that. According to last years Prison Report, the Prisons Commissioners went over the prisons and ascertained, without any process of selection, the days of the week on which crimes in general were committed, and out of the 245 instances inquired into, only ten were on Sundays. I think that ends the matter. It is not a mere matter of opinion cherished by those in favour of licensing reform; it is a matter of opinion held even by members of the trade, the public, local authorities, and the police. The entire expressed opinion of Scotland is that the person would be fit for confinement or having something done to him who would urge that we should go back upon Sunday closing. The long and short of it is, that if this House is to abdicate its functions in these matters of profiting by the experience of one locality and applying that experience beneficially elsewhere, we should throw out this Bill. If, on the contrary, we take a wiser and saner, and more prudent course, we shall with great unanimity pass this measure.
§ MR. ORR-EWING (Ayr Burghs)
As a Member representing a Scottish constituency on this side of the House, I should like to say a few words strongly in favour of this Bill. It is perfectly true that in Scotland we have had Sunday closing for the last forty-seven years, and it is also perfectly true that when that Act was being discussed it was opposed by some Members on the same grounds as this Bill is being opposed to-day, namely, that it was an undue interference with the liberty of the subject. What has been the result of the Act? It has been a most complete success, and the opinion of Scotland is unanimous in its favour. During the time which has elapsed since 862 the passing of the Act a generation has grown up and formed habits under its operation. I know that people say there is a difference between Scotland and England by reason of the fact that in Scotland whisky is the article of drink, while in England it is generally beer; that you can keep whisky without it deteriorating, while draught beer will deteriorate. All I can say is that I do not think the price of drinking bottled beer on Sundays is too high a price to pay for increased sobriety and order. The hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs says he is against this Bill because it will lead to local option, and he contends there is no stronger argument in favour of it now than in 1881. As regards local option he need not be afraid, for we in Scotland have had an Act similar to this for forty-seven years, but we have not yet got local option. As regards the other point, the very fact of the Act passed in 1881 having been such a great success in the rest of Wales is a very strong argument in favour of it being applied to Monmouthshire. What we have really to do is to decide between the merits of the arguments advanced in this House to-day against the Bill and the merits of the Report of the Royal Commission, which, although agreeing that Sunday closing for the whole of England would be in advance of the times, agrees that Welsh Sunday closing should be extended to Monmouthshire. I must say that in my opinion the whole of the question of temperance reform and legislation dealing with licensing is in a most unfortunate position. It is a most unfortunate fact that, speaking generally, what is called "the Trade" look upon Members on this side of the House, with a few exceptions, as their monopoly. It is also a most unfortunate fact that the temperance societies, who are in favour of very extreme views, look upon hon. Members on the other side of the House as their monopoly. It is very unfortunate that these societies give out that what they want is not reform, but abolition; and it is also very unfortunate that those who represent the 863 defence of the trade send out circulars bringing pressure to bear on hon. Members to vote against every measure of reform, however small and unimportant it may be. Such arguments as are sometimes put forward tend to make us who are in favour of such measures support more strongly the progress of those Bills. If the reforms which were suggested some twenty-five years ago had not been opposed by some and scouted by others, the position of the licensing laws and the whole of the temperance question would have been very different from that in which they now are. The position is all the more unfortunate because I believe there are a considerable majority of the Members of this House in favour of reforms which would confer an enormous benefit on the whole of the community. There are two of the recommendations of the Royal Commission now before the House in the shape of Bills; one is with reference to raising the age to sixteen years of those to whom intoxicating liquors can be sold, and the other is that now under consideration. Unless the House intends altogether to stultify the labours of that Commission, which would cause the greatest disappointment throughout the country, we should certainly pass those two Bills into law.
§ *MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
I have listened with some interest to the speeches of the two Members who have last addressed the House, and if any reply could have knocked into a cocked hat the arguments of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, it was that of the hon. Member for the Ayr Burghs—for this reason: The last speaker has told the House that the people of England drink beer, while the people of Scotland drink spirits, and he, being a spirit-drinker, has no earthly desire to consult the palate of the beer-drinker, who, as far as he is concerned, may drink flat beer which has been drawn for forty-eight hours.
§ *MAJOR JAMESON
Then perhaps the hon. Member will bring in a Bill to make bottled beer as cheap to the working man as draught beer. A great deal of this talk comes from want of knowledge of the trade. I recollect that when Sunday closing for Scotland was before the House some time ago the late Under Secretary for War gave a reason why Sunday closing was so very fitted to Scotland pretty much the same as that put forward by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs to-day—namely, that the commodity they used could always be kept in a bottle with a cork in it. I take exception to that, because I do not believe the Scotchman ever breathed who could keep the bottle and the cork together as long as there was any liquor in the bottle. The hon. Member for North Monmouth spoke of twenty-two of the twenty-four members of the Licensing Commission being in favour of this measure. He evidently has forgotten or has not read some very interesting remarks made by a gentleman well known for his probity and honesty—the late Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, Sir Algernon West. Speaking of the Report of the majority and the Report of the minority, he says that though the two Reports agree in recommending a reduction of the hours of Sunday opening, they do not agree that the country is prepared for total Sunday closing. You have this fact: that although, probably as a compromise—a compromise which was never allowed to be carried out—twenty-two out of the twenty-four members may have made such a statement, in the first place they had no rebutting evidence before them, and they absolutely report against their own decision. The ablest man who sat on that Commission denies that any such agreement as has been referred to was ever come to. He says—It is obvious that Lord Peel's proposals would have been defeated by seven to one.People talk about a majority of twenty-two out of twenty-four, but here you have as an absolute fact that the proposals which were practically the same as local option had seven to one against them. What are we asked to do to-day? We are asked to do by a private Member's Bill something the Government has not 865 yet decided. Is it fair to pass such a Bill? Would anyone credit that hon. Gentlemen opposite, who certainly more than we on this side have the support of the trade, would go out of their way to put an embargo on the trade which has paid all their war taxes? In this instance I should like the Government to support the licensed trade. You are quite ready to make them pay the piper and to take their money. The hon. Member for North Monmouth went back to the time of Henry VII. I should like to go back a little further. In the time of the Israelites the question of Sunday closing was in vogue. There were two classes of Israelites who were to a certain extent temperance reformers—one class were total abstainers, and were called Rechabites, while the other class were total abstainers during the week, and grew their hair long to show they were sober, but who on high days and holidays, and more particularly on the Jewish Sunday, gave way to drink, and took what they wanted. These were called Nazarites. I leave it to hon. Members on both sides to say to which class they belong, but I do not see on the back of this Bill the name of a single Member of the Jewish persuasion. They are good hard and fast men of business; they know the wants of the people. One of the names I do see is that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth, who is never tired of playing Darby to the Joan of the temperance societies; but though Darby always embraces Joan, Joan does not always embrace Darby, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware. I hope the House will not allow a serious Bill of this kind to pass without the Government having made clear to us what they intend to do on the subject. Private Members should not be permitted to pick out lines or words, and add and paste and put together little pieces of the three years work of the Royal Commission. Working men of this country do not want your grandmotherly legislation; they are perfectly able to take care of themselves. This Bill is a hollow sham and farce, and should be thrown out with the greatest possible expedition.
§ *MR. MALCOLM (Suffolk, Stowmarket)
I should be very unwilling to give a silent vote on this occasion, I am cer- 866 tainly a "conscientious objector" to the oppression of any trade whatever, and I hold myself perfectly free, whatever I may say or whichever way I may vote this afternoon, to vote as I choose upon the question of local veto or any other matter of that sort which may come before the House in the future. In common with many others on either side of the House, I feel myself in this peculiar difficulty. In 1896 we approved of the appointment of a Royal Commission. We thereby implied that we thought there were certain gentlemen in this country sufficiently unprejudiced, sympathetic and wise to discuss among themselves what should be done on this all-important licensing question. These gentlemen differed to a very considerable extent on many subjects, but on one or two matters they happened to agree. Are we, having delegated this important duty to that Commission, to nullify and make of no effect one of the few recommendations upon which they agreed? I am no enemy of the brewers; I do not suppose I should ever support a Local Veto Bill; but this afternoon I am animated the further by the strength of local opinion. The views of the locality are strengthened by the findings of the Commission. They say that temperance will be promoted by the extension of the present Sunday closing to Monmouthshire. That is the best local opinion; it is backed up by the recommendation of the Royal Commission, and I certainly do not feel myself strong enough to go against it. A great responsibility rests upon the House of Commons. We have to choose between seeing the present law nullified by these fortuitous and geographical circumstances which happen to exist, and having the spirit of the law and the spirit of the recommendation of the Royal Commission entirely carried out by this simple Act of extension. I feel that we ought either to accept with the greatest respect the recommendation of this Commission, which we ourselves appointed, or else altogether to abolish such useless and expensive institutions.
§ MR. WHITTAKER
In regard to this measure I desire to point out that the Royal Commission on Licensing were almost unanimous in recommending a Sunday Closing Bill for Monmouthshire, although they were not agreed that the country was ready for total Sunday closing generally. The Royal Commission by twenty-two votes out of twenty-four agreed that Sunday closing for Monmouthshire was desirable. The hon. Member who moved that this Bill be read this day six months objects to it because he sees in it some development of the idea of local option. He seems, however, to have overlooked the fact that the Conservative party proposed to give to county councils in 1888 the power to decide this question. Therefore his own party is committed to county local option upon this subject. The hon. Member was in error in saying that no Bill of this kind had ever been introduced in this House. I would remind him that Sunday Closing Bills have been before this House not only for Wales but for Monmouthshire, Yorkshire, the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and Durham. In regard to those Sunday closing measures which have been passed, every prediction made by the opponents of Sunday closing has been falsified by the facts. We have now Sunday closing in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and since those Acts have been in force no hon. Member representing any one of those countries has ever dared to move that one of those Acts be repealed. We have never had a motion from a single Member representing one of those counties to make one of those Acts less stringent. In fact all the motions which have been made have been to extend the operation of those Acts and make them more stringent. The hon. Member for Cardiff, who does not like the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, made a strong point before his constituency, and he persuaded himself that the people were against it. He has never, however, moved that the Welsh Sunday Closing Act be repealed, and when he was twitted with this in his own constituency what did he do? He told them that nothing could be done unless some public body passed a resolution to strengthen his hands, and he invited the Corporation of Cardiff to do this, but from that day to this the Cardiff Corporation has declined to respond to his 868 appeal. At the municipal election which followed, the number of members of the Cardiff Corporation returned in favour of Sunday closing was increased. We have had a number of Commissions appointed to inquire into the allegations as to the working of the Sunday Closing Acts in every country in which they have been enforced, and they have all reported that the allegations as to the failure of those Acts were unfounded, that they were a success, and that they were supported by a majority of the people to whom they applied. The last Commission reported unanimously in favour of those Acts. Upon that Commission there were eight members representing the liquor trade, and not one of them recommended that a single one of the Sunday Closing Acts should be repealed. I do not think a stronger proof that the trade admits these Acts are a success could be brought forward. The hon. Member who has, moved the rejection of this Bill suggested that Glamorganshire is more drunken because of the Sunday Closing Act. If that is so why does he not come down to this House and move the repeal of the Act? Why does not the County Council of Glamorganshire and the Town Council of Cardiff come forward and ask for the repeal of that Act? The Commission reported in 1889 that the Act was a great success. In that year eleven out of twelve county councils in Wales passed resolutions in favour of the continuation of the Act; seven town councils, including Cardiff, also supported the measure, and fifteen school boards, twelve local boards, and five boards of guardians petitioned in favour of the measure, and not a single local authority in Wales sent a memorial objecting to it. There were only three petitions against it, and two of them were from Cardiff publicans. We are told that Sunday closing has created shebeens in Cardiff, and caused the formation of a large number of clubs, and that the people who otherwise would have been drinking in the public-houses have been driven into the shebeens and clubs, and that there is in consequence a great deal of illegal drinking going on. I think it is interesting that we should ascertain who goes to the shebeens and who run them, and upon this point we have had the evidence of the Chief Constable of Cardiff, in which he gives us a list of the people who kept the shebeens and frequented them, 869 and here is the list. In the year 1896106 persons were convicted for keeping shebeens in Cardiff. Of those 106 persons twenty-one were convicted thieves, seventeen had been convicted for assaults, thirteen were convicted brothel-keepers, twenty-four were prostitutes, twelve were convicted beer sellers, and only nineteen were persons who had not been previously proceeded against. What were the characters of those found frequenting the shebeens? Although there were 106 convictions there were only 150 found frequenting them. Of this 150 thirty-six were convicted thieves, seven had been convicted of assaults, five were brothel-keepers, twenty-eight prostitutes, five were convicted beersellers, and sixty-nine were persons who had not been previously proceeded against. So that out of a total of 256 persons convicted for keeping these shebeens and frequenting them, two-thirds of that number had already figured in the police court. Do I understand the hon. Member for Cardiff to say that those are the class of persons who would have been found in the public-houses on Sundays had they been open?
§ MR. MACLEAN
Surely the hon. Member does not class those people as frequenters of legitimate public-houses?
§ MR. WHITTAKER
I am dealing with shebeens at present. The argument is that the people are drinking there in consequence of the public-houses being closed; but are we to keep public-houses open for such people as brothel-keepers, prostitutes, and convicted thieves? Are these the sort of people that public-houses are to cater for? Mr. H. L. Stephen, a barrister, and the son of the late Sir James Stephen, accompanied by the representative of a Conservative paper in Cardiff, went the round of these shebeens in Cardiff to visit them, and this newspaper was one which had been prominent in opposing Sunday closing for Wales. Mr. Stephen afterwards wrote an article in the Fortnightly Review, giving the result of his visits, and he said he was unable to find a single she been which was not a brothel. Cardiff is a seaport, and you 870 know the class of people who visit it. I may point out that out of the 106 convictions I have alluded to ninety-eight were in the docks district, and there were scarcely any in the other part of the town. It is clear from this that it was not the working men of Cardiff who frequented these shebeens, but it was the scum of the place who fattened on the sailors they could lay hold of. Therefore, there was no demand on behalf of the working men of Cardiff for liquor in these shebeens. My hon. friend the Member for West Denbighshire stated that in towns in England there were more clubs in proportion to the population than in Cardiff, and when he made that statement another hon. Member interrupted with the query—"What is the number of members? "I went out to get those numbers. My hon. friend quoted Cardiff, Bradford, and Old-ham. Now the number of members in the clubs in Cardiff is 15,000, in Oldham 17,000, and in Bradford 24,000. I deny the hon. Member's contention that clubs are the outcome of the Sunday Closing Act. During the last fifteen years clubs have spread all over the country with great rapidity, but to represent them as being the result of Sunday closing is totally wrong. We have been told that Cardiff is "honeycombed" with clubs, but, I find that in 1897 there were only thirty clubs in Cardiff, and I do not think you can honeycomb a large town with thirty clubs. Bolton has 34 clubs, Halifax 47, Huddersfield 59, Oldham 69, Rockdale 27, Burnley 30, Bradford 81, Leeds 69, and Stockport 34. Therefore, the number of clubs in Cardiff is not particularly large as compared with other large towns in this country, and the growth of clubs is not owing to the Sunday Closing Acts. London—where the hours for the sale of drink are longer than anywhere else in the country—has more clubs than the whole of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales put together, and this is certainly not caused by Sunday closing. The number of clubs in England has doubled in ten years, and that is not owing to Sunday closing. If Sunday closing is producing more clubs, how is it that there are three Welsh counties where there are no clubs, three counties with two clubs, two with four clubs, and two with five clubs? Besides these figures there are ten counties in Wales with only twenty-four clubs, and ten out of the twenty-four are not open on Sundays at 871 all. Therefore, to say that those clubs are for Sunday thinking is a fallacy entirely. Then again, eleven out of the twenty-four clubs have a subscription of£1 a year or upwards, and you cannot call such a club a working man's club for Sunday drinking. These figures prove, as all close examinations of the question have proved, that the allegations in favour of Sunday closing will not bear examination and are unfounded. There is one other reason why we should give Sunday closing. We ought to do a good deal for the regulation of the trade for the benefit of those engaged in it, to promote their well-being and their health. The publicans' trade is the deadliest known in this country, and there is no other trade in which the death rate is so high. The death rate of the potters of Staffordshire, and the workers amongst chemical processes is even lower than those employed in the publicans' trade. They are the most drunken class among the community, and the death rate amongst them is ten times greater in London than among the ordinary community, and in the industrial districts of the country it is seven times greater. Can we do nothing to lessen the pressure upon that trade and give them a clear Sunday? The objection has been raised that this is a piecemeal measure. In this respect I do feel it a difficulty, for we are grumbled at when we ask too much, and we are also grumbled at if we ask for too little. This measure is largely one of administration to facilitate dealing with a very difficult border line, which has been recommended by all the other sections concerned, and I hope that the Government will give their support to this measure. My hopes of temperance legislation from the present Government are not very great, but I hope they will give us something, and if they will not give us this measure recommended by the Royal Commission I am afraid they will not give us anything at all, although I am very unwilling to believe that. I hope a large majority of this House will support the Second Reading of this measure.
§ *MR. TRITTON (Lambeth, Norwood)
I find myself this afternoon in a somewhat novel position, for in regard to this Bill I am myself in complete accord and con- 872 cord with some of the leading representatives of the trade who were placed on the Royal Commission. They say that they do not approve of Sunday closing at the present time for the whole of the country, but that they are in favour of Monmouthshire being included in the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. Therefore, I find that I have no difficulty whatever to waive any little feeling I might have against total Sunday closing for England when I can quote such names as those of Mr. Buxton and other distinguished members of the Royal Commission in favour of this experiment. Finding myself in that position, perhaps I may be allowed to trespass upon the indulgence of the House this afternoon in order to give one or two reasons for giving my cordial support to the Bill before the House. I wish to back up the opinions expressed by the two younger Members of our party who have spoken in favour of this Bill this afternoon. I am glad that they have realised, as many other hon. Members are realising, what the trend of public opinion really is, and what a terrible state of things exists in the country. I hope other hon. Members on this side will not be ashamed to stand up alongside those two younger Members and give their voice and vote in favour of any proposals which will remedy the evil. I want to say a few words as an ardent admirer of the Report of the Royal Commission. Naturally, I attach much more importance to the Majority Report than to the Minority Report, because the latter is signed by earnest and enthusiastic gentlemen, who, like myself, are gentlemen whose views are known, and hon. Members know what we are likely to say; but when I saw what the leading trade representatives—and they were picked men who were known to be capable of fighting a good battle for the trade—said, my heart leaped with joy when I read the introductory paragraph to that Report. I was speaking to an hon. Member the other day who said he never took any interest in temperance questions, as a rule, and was not in favour of Sunday closing; but he said he had been reading the Report of the Royal Commission, and he had now altered his opinion. I therefore hope other hon. Members will take the trouble to read that Report, and especially the introductory paragraph. In that paragraph they describe drunken- 873 ness as a "gigantic evil" and "a national degradation," and I never said anything so strong as that upon a temperance platform. I think those words, coming from such a quarter, fully justify the existence of every temperance society in our land, and justify every temperance speech delivered on every temperance platform. I also think they justify every bit of work, be it great or small, that temperance workers have put themselves to in order to bring about a better state of things and redeem our national character. As an admirer of the Report of the Royal Commission, I want to support the Second Reading. I also want to support it as a loyal and sincere Conservative. There was one politician who in his time did more, perhaps, than anyone else in the dark days of the Conservative party to restore it to the proud position which it holds in this land of ours at the present moment—I mean the late Lord Randolph Churchill. In the first address he issued to the electors of Woodstock in 1874, he said—The principles of true Conservatism I hold to be those of gradual increasing progress, adhering strictly to the lines of a well-founded constitution, and avoiding all violent and unnecessary changes.This measure is not a violent or unnecessary change, but it is a gradual reform which, if carried, will be a great blessing to those it is intended to benefit. In November, 1888, speaking on social problems at Paddington, Lord Randolph Churchill spoke of the excessive sale of liquor as—the direct parent of more than one half the crime of this country, and of two-thirds of the poverty and misery, disease, and the vice which tarnishes and disgraces our English civilisation.He, being dead, yet speaketh, and I hope many hon. Members will be found on this side of the House who will echo those sentiments. I believe in promoting not only Imperial security but also national welfare, and I know nothing which casts such a blot upon our national escutcheon as the drink question. As a progressive Conservative who wishes to see the party he belongs to alter their views upon this question, and as one who regards this problem as one of the most important questions of social reform, I shall most heartily support the Second Reading of 874 this Bill. Lastly, I venture to support the Second Reading of this Bill as one who is strongly in favour of all just, fair, and equitable temperance reforms. I have never been in favour of extreme measures, and when in 1893 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire brought in his Local Veto Bill* I addressed a few words to the House in opposition to it. I may say also that I have never been in favour of the prohibitive proposals of the hon. Member for Cockermouth. We temperance legislators have been put off a great deal within the last three years, and we have been told from our front bench repeatedly in the past that Parliament cannot do anything until the Report of the Royal Commission is issued. But they cannot say that to-day, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government, at any rate, will not make this a party question. Let us take this great national question, which oppresses so heavily this land of ours, out of the range of party politics altogether, and see if we cannot do something to deal with it. There are many sad homes in England to-day upon which the dark cloud of bereavement is resting very heavily. Thank God, in some of them there is a silver lining, for although you may find in them sorrow and suffering, yet they find consolation in telling you how gallantly their lost one had fallen fighting for Queen and country on some South African blood-stained battlefield; and as we offer our words of sympathy to them we can say, at any rate, "Your loss is the country's loss, and we shall never forget that you gave your husband or your son in the country's hour of trial." But there are other homes in this land of ours in which you may go and find the dark cloud of sorrow and bereavement resting upon them, but there is no silver lining. They have taken his picture down, and they say to you, "Don't ask anything about him; it would be kinder not to mention him. He fell a victim to drink." They would rather draw a veil over him. There is no gallant record of a life laid down in his country's service, but only a sad record of disgrace, misery, and death. I have been behind the*See debate on motion for leave to introduce the Liquor Traffic (Local Control) Bill, 27th February, 1893. (The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. ix., page 476); Bill withdrawn 18th September, 1893 (Vol. xvii., page 1575).875 scenes upon this question, and many a sad story has come under my notice, therefore I speak strongly upon a subject in which I have taken a deep interest for over twenty years. Therefore, I am going to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, and as long as I am spared to be a Member of this House, whatever message I may get from outside parties, I shall always unhesitatingly give my vote and voice in favour of any good, reasonable, just and equitable Bills legislating in this direction, believing as I do that they will tend to the welfare of our land and promote the prosperity of our people.
§ MR. CHARLES MORLEY (Brecknockshire)
said he had no wish to trespass on the patience of the House, but as a Welsh Member, and as one who took a deep interest in the measure, he wished very briefly to press one aspect of the question on the consideration of hon. Members. While he cordially supported the Bill on what he might briefly describe as general temperance grounds, he desired specially to enlist the sympathy of the House on behalf of the large numbers of his constituents who at the present time, and, indeed, for many years past, had suffered great injustice. The House was, of course, familiar with the Local Government Act of 1888, and would remember that by one of its provisions portions of Brecknockshire were transferred for certain purposes to Monmouth, with the result that while from 1881 to 1888 the whole county had enjoyed Sunday closing, from 1888 to the present day portions of the county were deprived of those benefits to which the people believed they were morally and legally entitled. At the present time in Beaufort, an industrial centre, the public-houses, which used to be shut, are now open, and large numbers of persons flock into the town on Sundays to obtain the drink which they cannot obtain in their own locality. He had received large numbers of petitions in favour of the Bill, and while personally in favour of the principle of Sunday closing, though it might not be capable of universal application, he specially desired to see this Bill pass, as it would be of great benefit to Monmouth and an act of justice too long delayed to the county of Brecknock.
*CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devonshire, Torquay)
I am extremely glad to be able to give a vote on this measure, not only in accordance with my election pledges but also with my convictions. I said that I never would vote for it Bill that would tend to increase drunkenness, and on that ground I shall have no hesitation in going into the lobby against this Bill. The Bill under discussion aims directly at the liberty and free will of the working classes. It does not affect the richer classes, but it says to the working man, "You, whom we believe to be capable of deciding all the most important questions of Imperial and domestic policy, are, not fit to decide whether you will drink a glass of beer or not on a Sunday." I agree with the remarks made by the hon. Member for the Denbighshire district who moved the rejection of this Bill. He pointed out that it was bound to interfere with those who only wished to gratify their natural appetites, but that it would not prevent those that were inclined to do so from indulging to excess. I believe that this Bill will tend to promote secret drinking, which is, I think, in the opinion of everybody competent to form any judgment, the worst form of drinking that can occur. We hear a great deal about police reports, but I am not inclined to attach so much importance to police statistics as some people do, because, in the first place, the police carry out their duties differently in different localities. In some parts of the country a man is considered drunk and is arrested or summoned when he is only "slightly disguised in liquor." In other districts the police require almost that a man shall fall on the ground and stretch out his arms to feel if he can fall any lower before he can be declared to be drunk. I have seen in Scotland a whole town full of drunken people on a Saturday.
I have not got the date, but it happened to be a holiday at the conclusion of some Dundee excursion. I think this Bill amounts to a very strong condemnation of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. It is argued that the Welsh Sunday Closing Acts are evaded by a large number of workmen who trip across the border in order to get drunk, and return in that condition to their native county. That shows that a very large number of the working classes in the adjoining county do not appreciate the boon that we are told the majority of the inhabitants of Wales value so much. A few days ago during, the debate on the Queen's Speech, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin gave this House some very excellent advice, for he said, "Let us clear our minds of cant." Now, if there is one class of legislation more than another to which this advice is applicable it is questions dealing with temperance reform, because I hold most strongly that cant enters into debates on temperance questions more than upon any other subject. Hon. Members opposite who have spoken in support of this Bill contend that it is in the interest of working men; but how do they arrive at that conclusion? I gather from listening to the speech of the hon. Member who introduced the Bill that certain meetings had been held in support of the measure, but he was careful to explain, when his figures were challenged, that they were not representative public meetings, but were meetings held after evening service in certain free churches. I should like to know how many of the persons voting on those occasions were adult males, because those are the people for whom this Bill is chiefly intended. There is no doubt whatever that one result that will ensue from this Bill will be that those persons who do require liquor either moderately or immoderately will evade the law, and I contend that is bad for this country and bad for the cause of temperance to pass legislation which will be evaded by a considerable portion of the population. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire said he had learned a great deal since the year 1872, and I do not doubt it for one moment. I often wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his studies, has ever heard the 878 song called "The Vicar of Bray." In that song there is certain person who changes his opinions pretty freely to suit the occasion, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite seems to have changed his opinions very considerably. When my hon. friend the Member for Denbighshire quoted the speech of the right hon. Gentleman made in 1872, I thought I never heard a more eloquent or complete answer to the Bill that we are now invited to read a second time. I can only say that I will never vote for any Bill affecting the working classes primarily that I should consider unjust, unfair, or tyrannical if applied to myself. I am far too much of a Conservative for that, and I leave that sort of thing for hon. Members opposite who are prepared to treat the working classes of this country as if they were not fit to be trusted. In conclusion, I would only say that, to my mind, there is only one way to promote temperance in this country, and that is by promoting habits and ideas of self-respect. As this Bill is a coercive measure, and as I am opposed to coercion in any form, I shall oppose the Second Reading of this Bill.
*ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
It is a common occurrence for naval men to differ, and I do not agree with the reasons which the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has given for his own vote. I will not, however, pursue that question any further. Hon. Members may think I am embarrassed on this question, but I am not at all. I am opposed to total Sunday closing for the whole of this country. I have answered in common with every other hon. Member certain questions at election time, and I made no concealment of my views, for I stated that I was in favour of further restrictions on Sunday drinking, and yet the trade supported me. In this matter I only know of one, argument to be advanced against this Bill, and I admit that, logically, it is a rather strong argument. It is that this is a proposal for legislation by detachment, detaching one county from another. As a rule I should be strongly opposed to that kind of legislation, and I believe that on former occasions I have voted against measures of this kind, but under very different 879 conditions. The Government appointed a Royal Commission, presided over by Lord Peel, and I have been very much influenced by the Report of that Commission. If hon. Members are not to be influenced by Reports of Royal Commissions, in Heaven's name, why appoint them? We have a Minority Report and a Majority Report upon the many points connected with that Commissions, but we have a unanimous Report in favour of this proposal before the House. Am I to set my judgment against the unanimous Report of the Royal Commission, which has heard all kinds of evidence and witnesses, and which has been able to sift the question from top to bottom? I am opposed to legislation by detachment, and I am in favour of allowing this question to be dealt with by local authorities. I would oppose tomorrow with all my power the idea of Sunday closing irrespective of localities and surrounding circumstances. It would be impossible to have a total Sunday Closing Bill for seaports and garrison towns or for the metropolis of this Empire. It is, nevertheless, quite possible to legislate and grant this power in districts far removed from military or naval surroundings, where the people desire to have Sunday closing, and where they can carry public opinion with them. If that be so, then let the local authority representing that local opinion have the power to deal with this question. Here we have this Bill not only supported strongly by the Royal Commission in the Minority and Majority Report, but I am told that it is strongly supported by the County Council of Monmouthshire and all the local authorities. In spite of my former opposition to total Sunday closing, and holding as I do these views, I believe that this is a proper tribunal to set up. I feel very strongly that further restriction on the sale of liquor is necessary, a fact which you recognise on Sundays by closing public-houses during Divine service in the morning, and to be logical you ought to close them during Divine service in the evening. I have had forty years experience in licensing matters, and have initiated a good many reforms, and I would initiate this in every county in the country under similar circumstances. I shall warmly support the Bill.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I have listened with much satisfaction to the 880 recent naval encounter, and I congratulate my hon. and gallant friend who has just sat down on having successfully rammed the rather old-fashioned craft with which he has had to deal. This Bill stands, I think, in a favourable position. It is a measure which has been recommended by a Majority Report and by a Minority Report, and I am happy to say that in the discussion we have had this afternoon we have received from the majority side of this House as strong support as we have received from the minority side. Those who take an interest in the question of temperance must have heard with satisfaction, and, I think, with some emotion, the speech of the hon. Member for Norwood, whose devotion to that cause we have long known in this House. I confess I share with him the satisfaction at the speeches of two of the younger Members of this House sitting upon the other side—the Member for Ayr Burghs, and my hon. friend the Member for Stowmarket—and I am glad to think that it is among the younger Members that these principles are establishing themselves. I wish also to make it clear what this Bill is and what it is not. This Bill is not a general Sunday Closing Bill. I have never myself supported a general compulsory Sunday Closing Bill. It is a Bill for Sunday closing in a special part of the country. It has been said that we ought not to deal with special parts of the country, but that we must wait for a general universal measure. I very much agree with my hon. friend who said it was very difficult to please those who are against all temperance reform, because at one time they say you are attempting too much and at another time they say you are attempting too little. This is one of the occasions on which the attempt is a very limited one; but is it contrary to any principle of legislation that you should deal with parts of the country which were ripe for that legislation if you believe that legislation in that direction at all was beneficial to the country? You have the experience of nearly half a century of this legislation in Scotland, and there is not a single man, not even in the city of Perth, who would propose to repeal that Sunday Closing Act. So that, if experience is worth anything at all, if statesmanship is good for anything, you will judge of 881 the operation of such a measure where it has been tried in large communities like that of Scotland. There we have districts with great populations like Glasgow and Edinburgh, where this measure has been in operation for many years, and the testimony of the whole population is in favour of it. You applied to the same principle to Ireland, and has anybody proposed to repeal it in those parts of Ireland to which this legislation has been applied? The main opposition to this Bill has come from the hon. Member for West Clare, and he has made an appeal to Her Majesty's Government in favour of the trade. We have yet to learn the reason for that appeal. Such legislation for Wales, he said, did not allow a Bill of this kind to be properly dealt with by a Private Member's Bill. I would point out that the legislation already passed on this subject for the whole of Wales was a Private Member's Bill, and it was introduced by the father of my hon. friend who has spoken. Therefore those objections do not hold water. It is really difficult to make out what are the arguments against the Bill. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill we are told is about to remove himself from the representation of Wales. Therefore we are are not bound to take him as our spokesman. But he cast ridicule upon the meetings which have been held in support of this Bill, and said that they did not at all represent public opinion. But it is not meetings alone. I think I may say that the responsible representative bodies in the county of Monmouth, including its county council, corporations, and the urban councils in all those thickly populated mining districts, have expressed themselves in favour of the measure. Then it is said that, it is a hardship upon the working men and the miners. But only this morning I have received a resolution from the Ebbw Vale branch of the South Wales Miners'Federation strongly supporting the Bill, and therefore to say that it is a hardship on the working men in those districts is utterly untrue. If the miners of Wales are hostile to this Sunday closing, would they not have had a demand from them for the repeal of the legislation? There is no body of men more capable or more able to make their wishes known than the miners of Monmouthshire and the whole of South Wales, and where you have great industrial populations of this 882 character living under legislation of this sort, with which they are satisfied and which they would not for a moment allow to be repealed, we have the most conclusive evidence that the public opinion of the community is in favour of legislation of this sort. My hon. friend who moved this Bill mentioned a fact which concerns one of the principal places in my constituency, and here is the letter received from the clerk, stating that the motion was seconded and supported by two members of the trade. I think the House may take it on the assurance of those who have the means of knowing, who are the representatives of Monmouthshire, that the opinion of that county is almost unanimously in favour of this measure. That opinion is worth having, and the reason why the people are so much in favour of it is because they have had the experience of their neighbours. They have the experience of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to guide them, and so far as we can judge from those communities, Sunday closing has proved very satisfactory. Then we have a county which, practically speaking, is part of Wales. The whole sentiment of that part which I have the honour to represent in this House is Welsh, and a great number of the people speak Welsh only. For the purposes of education they are put on the footing of Wales, though for some other purposes they stand on an English footing. Why should they be cut off from legislation granted to their neighbours and with which they are satisfied? It has been objected that this is piecemeal legislation. Well, temperance legislation always has been piecemeal, but that is no objection to it in my opinion. Then we are told that it is an infringement of the liberty of the subject. That is the singular contention of the opponents of the Bill, but if it is an infringement of the liberty of the subject, in that case the liberty of Scotland was invaded, the liberty of all the counties in Ireland was invaded, and all the counties of Wales as well. A more ludicrous and preposterous argument was never advanced, because no one thinks that if the Bill passes the liberty of the subject will be infringed or invaded, and all we ask is that the liberty of the subject in Monmouth shall be put on the same footing as the liberty of the subject in Wales. There is one argument that has had some effect upon those not acquainted with the matter. It has been said Sunday closing 883 promoted secret drinking, drinking clubs, and shebeens, but that argument has been very fully refuted by the hon. Member for Denbighshire. It has been shown that those clubs are not the fruit of Sunday closing. In the large English towns drinking clubs exist mainly, it is said, because of the prescribed limitation of the hours of drink. Then take the shebeens. You do not propose to repeal the Excise Laws because shebeens exist. When one comes to look at the arguments against this measure there is nothing in them. The fact is there is no substantial reason for resisting the demand of the people of Monmouthshire in this matter. There is one appeal that I would make to the Members of the House of Commons, who for the most part profess themselves in this House, and universally outside it, in favour of temperance. Is there nothing you can do by way of statute in favour of temperance? One hon. Member made a vigorous appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in favour of the trade. I make an appeal, not for the same purpose, but one which I hope will have more effect, in favour of the people of Monmouth, who are, I believe, infinitely more deserving. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman knows, I am certain he must know, what I know—that drink is the most fertile source of all evil and crime in this country, and hundreds of thousands of people are asking you to assist them in defending themselves against that evil, and I hope that the English Government and the English Home Secretary will not stand in the way of its removal. The right hon. Gentleman has the power to pass the Bill if he chooses to exercise it. His is a great responsibility. It will be asked in the future what this Parliament, with its great majority and powerful Government, has done for temperance. This Parliament is drawing to its close, and will it be recorded of it in its later stage that when this request in favour of temperance was proposed this Government and this Parliament, with its great majority, refused to listen to that prayer? I do not believe that it will. We have had the Commission, a capable Commission, of men of all sorts and notions, and representing the liquor trade in considerable number. That Commission met and made a Report differing, it is true, upon many points, but agreeing upon the one 884 subject of the Bill. This question is now submitted to our consideration, and I do entreat the House and implore the Government to show the people of this country that their hearts are in favour of the cause of temperance, and that this small measure now asked for will not be refused.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir M. WHITE RIDLEY,) Lancashire, Blackpool
I will reply briefly to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, and explain the view I take. We have heard the appeal and the remarks made by my hon. friend behind me and other hon. Members on the general ground of temperance; but I venture to remind the House that this is not the particular subject before it. There is some doubt as to whether this particular measure would in effect be in favour of temperance. Many references have been made to the Royal Commission, and it was my special duty, as the Minister responsible for the consideration of the Report, to look into it with a view to seeing if legislation would be practicable under existing circumstances to carry out some of its recommendations. To the great regret of myself and my colleagues I could not see my way under the particular circumstances of this year to enter on a question the right hon. Gentleman will know from experience to be a very thorny one. Though much has been said of the agreement in the Reports of the majority and minority of the Commission, I have found that among the parties represented, and from the point of view of practical legislation, there is a wider difference of opinion now than when the Report was first presented. I only say this byway of excuse, if excuse be necessary, for the Government are fully sensible of their obligations, and desirous of doing something to promote the cause of temperance. I do not wish to go into all the figures put forward by the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, or into the question whether the Sunday Closing Act in Wales has been of the advantage to the general cause of temperance some of its advocates claim for it. I do not wish to go behind the Reports of Lord Balfour's Commission of 1889 and of the recent Royal Commission, which, in general terms, did say that the Sunday 885 Closing Act of 1881 was generally accepted in Wales, and that, in the rural districts at all events, it was effective, though there were difficulties and abuses in populous districts. I think we may take it as an accomplised fact that no party in Wales desires the repeal of the Sunday Closing Act. And certainly I do not believe any party in England desires to propose such a repeal. It was established for the benefit of the people of Wales, and apparently, though it has not given the same satisfaction as the Forbes Mackenzie Act in Scotland or the Act in Ireland, it is still perfectly true to say that no party desires to repeal it. Therefore I am not prepared to urge from the point of view of Wales the liberty of the subject argument, though I do attach some importance to that argument in England. I know that in some parts of the country in rural districts people are prepared to accept some kind of Sunday closing or a further restriction of hours, but I am sure that a Sunday Closing Bill for the whole country would be opposed to public feeling, and that it could not be carried out, for it would most distinctly be held to be a violation of the liberty of the subject. From the point of view of an English Member, taking the most judicial view I can, and being not in favour of the principle of Sunday closing I am not anxious to extend it to a county in England, for, whatever the right hon. Gentleman opposite and others may say, Monmouthshire is an English county.
§ *SIR M. WHITE RIDLEY
And when the Bill was before the House in 1881 a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman proposed to exclude Monmouthshire on this ground, and the House supported that view. But in Monmouthshire there is a considerable minority opposed to the Bill.
§ *SIR M. WHITE RIDLEY
The statements of the hon. Member who moved 886 the rejection of the Bill, which have not been contradicted, that in public meetings in Newport and elsewhere resolutions against the Bill had been carried.
§ *MR. SPICER
said that the two meetings held at Monmouth and Newport were composed entirely of licensed victuallers, and that the other two were public meetings arranged by the trade.
§ *SIR M. WHITE RIDLEY
I have no evidence that the population generally of Monmouthshire desire the Bill. On the contrary, the feeling in its favour seems to be far from unanimous. In view of the report of the Royal Commission I do not wish to labour opposition to the Bill, and, speaking for the Government, I do not desire to offer opposition to the Second Reading. Looking at the Report of Lord Balfour's Commission, which I do not read at length, it is, I think, scarcely right to say the majority and minority on Lord Peel's Commission were both in favour of total Sunday closing for the whole of Monmouthshire. The words of the Majority Report are—There is a strong local desire in Monmouthshire to be associated with Wales in the matter of Sunday closing. We consider that this wish should be acceded to, especially as regards urban districts situated near the border.The Report, of Lord Balfour's Commission was similarly qualified, e.g.—And we think the best way of dealing with this difficulty is to make sure that it, in urban districts situated on the border one law should prevail.Further observations follow, but I only cite those words to show that the majority in the Commission, although in favour of further curtailment of the hours for the sale of drink on Sunday, were not necessarily in favour of Sunday closing in Monmouthshire generally. I will not go into the question whether Sunday closing has been a success, although I have my own views on the subject. But I am willing to accept the views of the Commission which has inquired into the subject. I agree that when Parliament appoints Royal Commissioners it should do its best to accept their decisions; but I do not myself see in the recommendations of the recent Commissioners sufficient ground for accepting this Bill, and, personally, I shall vote against it. I do not agree with the 887 proposed absorption, for the purpose of Sunday closing, of Monmouthshire into Wales, or the extension of Sunday closing. It would not be right for the Government to offer any advice or to put any pressure on the House, but, speaking for myself, I shall vote against the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ *SIR J. LENG (Dundee)
desired to say a few words in support of the Bill. For forty-seven years throughout the whole
§ of Scotland the Forbes Mackenzie Act had been in force, and feeling was strongly in favour of its maintenance. Even the publicans would regard it as a serious grievance if any attempt were made to alter it. In Scotland the people would rejoice to see its principle extended all over the kingdom.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 188; Noes, 124. (Division List No. 66.)889
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Edwards, Owen Morgan||Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Ellis, John Edward||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. Edw. H.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Emmott, Alfred||Leng, Sir John|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Lloyd-George, David|
|Arrol, Sir William||Lough, Thomas|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lyell, Sir Leonard|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||M'Arthur, W. (Cornwall)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Fenwick, Charles||M'Crae, George|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Ferguson, R. C. Munro(Leith)||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||M'Killop, James|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin|
|Baird, John Geo. Alexander||Fitzmanrice, Lord Edmond||Maddison, Fred.|
|Baker, Sir John||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Balcarres, Lord||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co)||Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W.(Yorks.)|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Fry, Lewis||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Gilliat, John Saunders||Morley, C. (Breconshire)|
|Bethell, Commander||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Morley, Rt. Hon. J. (Montrose)|
|Billson, Alfred||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Birrell, Augustine||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Blake, Edward||Gull, Sir Cameron||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Gurdon, Sir William Brampton|
|Bousefield, William Robert||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Brown, Alexander H.||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Harcourt Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon James||Hardy, Laurence||Palmer, Sir Charles M. (Durham|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)|
|Burns, John||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Burt, Thomas||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hobhouse, Henry||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Hogan, James Francis||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Caldwell, James||Holland, William Henry||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Horniman, Frederick John||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Pilkington, R. (Lanes. Newton|
|Cambpell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Howard, Joseph||Pilkington, Sir Geo A (Lancs S W|
|Carew, James Laurence||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Plunkett, Rt Hn. HoraceCurzon|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Randell, David|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jacoby, James Alfred||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Colville, John||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw||Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg'w||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Joicey, Sir James||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Crombie, John William||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney|
|Jones, William (Carnarv'nshire||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Runciman, Walter|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardig'n)||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Denny, Colonel||Kilbride, Denis|
|Dewar, Arthur||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Kitson, Sir James||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Duckworth, James||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Dunn, Sir William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G.(Oxf'dUniv||Weir, James Galloway|
|Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Tanner, Charles Kearns||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Sinclair, CaptJohn(Forfarshire||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.||Williams, John Carvell(Notts|
|Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Souttar, Robinson||Thorburn, Sir Walter||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.|
|Stanley, SirHenry M.(Lambeth||Woodhouse, SirJT(Huddersf'd|
|Steadman, William Charles||Ure, Alexander||Woods, Samuel|
|Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Stewart Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Wallace, Robert||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Strauss, Arthur||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Stuart, James (Shoreditch)||Wason, Eugene||Mr. Spicer and Mr. Tritton.|
|Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Mount, William George|
|Arnold, Alfred||Gold, Charles||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Myers, William Henry|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gretton, John|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts||Greville, Hon. Ronald||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. W. W. B. (Hants||Hanson, Sir Reginald||O'Malley, William|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Helder, Augustus||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Henderson, Alexander||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Hoare, Edw Brodie (Hampstead||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Quilter Sir Cuthbert|
|Brassey, Albert||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Butcher, John George||Rasch, Major Frederic C.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.)||Kimber, Henry||Robinson, Brooke|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Knowles, Lees||Rutherford, John|
|Charrington, Spencer||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Coddington, Sir William||Laurie, Lieut-General||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Leighton, Stanley||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Spencer, Ernest|
|Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Stanley, Ed Jas. (Somerset)|
|Crilly, Daniel||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Macaleese, Daniel||Tomlinson, W. Ewd. Murray|
|Curzon, Viscount||Macdona, John Cumming||Usborne, Thomas|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir W. H.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Maclean, James Mackenzie||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Maclure, Sir John William||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Dermott, Patrick||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Tauntn|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon SirWilliamHart||Marks, Henry Hananel||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Faber, George Denison||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn W. F.||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J. (Manc'r||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Finch, George H.||Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. Jno.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Monckton, Edward Philip||Wyndham, George|
|Fison, Frederick William||Monk, Charles James|
|Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.||Mr. Howell and Major Jameson.|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Flower, Ernest||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.