HC Deb 09 May 1900 vol 82 cc1161-78


Order for Second Reading read.

* MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)

In moving the Second Reading of this Bill it will not be necessary to occupy much of the time of the House. The measure is simply an amending Bill, and has been on various occasions before the House of Commons. The main provisions are therefore more or less known to hon. Members. The Bill contains no question either of principle or of policy, but is simply designed to amend, strengthen, and make more effective the present Sunday Closing Act in Wales. I might briefly remind the House of events which have led up to the promotion of this Bill. In 1881 the Welsh Sunday Closing Act was passed. After it had been in operation for some years experience showed that it was ineffective in certain particulars, and an agitation was started —I believe in Cardiff. Pressure was brought to bear on the Government of the day, and a Royal Commission, consisting of five members, was appointed in 1889 to inquire into the operation of the Act with a view to securing modifications in its provisions. The House will see that the Commission represented by a very large majority the political views of the Government of the day, and it could not in any way be regarded as entering upon its inquiry in a spirit specially favourable to Sunday closing. In 1890 the Commission made certain recommendations, which were incorporated in a Bill, and from that time to the present that Bill has been introduced session after session into the House of Commons. I am glad to note that with regard to temperance legislation a very encouraging change has of late taken place in the attitude of the public. There has been shown on the one hand not only a wider and deeper interest in the question, but also a great readiness on the part of all sections of the public interested in this great social problem to recognise that under present conditions it may be necessary to proceed step by step towards the ultimate goal. The measure of which I now move the Second Reading is not a heroic measure, but I think that the House will come to the conclusion that it is a useful step in the right direction. I desire to refer to one or two of the principal difficulties to meet which the clauses in this Bill have been drawn. The difficulties which have arisen with regard to the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales can, I think, be grouped under three principal heads. First of all, there is the difficulty which has arisen with reference to that universal nuisance the bona fide traveller in country districts. Secondly, there is the difficulty which has arisen, particularly in large centres of population in South Wales, with reference to alleged illicit drinking on Sundays. And, thirdly, a serious difficulty has been created by the boundary line between England and Wales running through large urban districts. This last difficulty has been already discussed in the House, and a Bill has passed its Second Reading to extend the Sunday Closing Act to the county of Monmouth, so that only two main difficulties now remain. I should like to say just a word with reference to the nature and extent of the practical difficulties which have arisen with regard to the operation of the Act, and also to point out the remedies which are proposed in this Bill—remedies which I need hardly remind the House are the recommendations of the Royal Commission to which I have already referred. I will deal first with the very important question of the bona fide traveller. As the House well knows, that is a difficulty which is not confined to Wales. As a member of the Licensing Commission, I was recently in a position to hear a great deal of evidence on this subject, and it has been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that this difficulty does exist throughout the country. But what makes it more serious with regard to Wales is that Wales has by an emphatic majority demanded and obtained a Sunday Closing Act within its boundaries, but owing to certain defects in one or two of the clauses of that Act, so far as certain rural districts are concerned, the principle of Sunday closing has become largely a dead letter. That is a real and a pressing difficulty. I do not wish to detain the House with instances, but I will draw particular attention to the serious difficulty which has occurred in certain districts in Wales because of these defects in the law. Personally I am specially interested in the North Wales coast district in which I live, and, as many hon. Members know, owing to the great beauty of the scenery along that coast, great crowds of English visitors come to it, and it has lately become the practice for these visitors to be driven in brakes on Sundays from popular holiday resorts along the coast into the country. They go, as a matter of fact, into certain quiet villages and there make use of the public-houses and create, as I happen to know from personal knowledge, a considerable amount of disorder in many cases. I have not a word to say against the practice of driving in brakes on Sundays in Wales or anywhere else. It is a matter of taste upon which every one of us has his own opinion; it may be right or it may be wrong, but when we see that that practice results in Sunday closing in many country districts in Wales becoming a dead letter, then I say it is the duty of the House of Commons to consider what amendment of the present law is required in order to make Sunday closing a reality, and not a sham. How does this Bill propose to meet this diffi- culty? The clauses in the Bill, as I have already stated, are simply the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The Commission suggested in the first place an increase of the distance that must be travelled by the so-called bona fide traveller in order that he might earn the right to drink in a public-house on Sunday; the second recommendation referred to the necessity of keeping a minute and accurate record on licensed premises of all persons who take advantage of this provision in the Act. But the main recommendation in regard to this difficulty was that the only effective way of dealing with it was to apply to Wales the principle which is applied to Scotland, namely, that there should be granted a certain number of Sunday licences under the discretion of the licence authority, and that these licences should be granted in respect of premises of a certain rateable value, and which contained a certain amount of bedroom accommodation. In other words, the clause applies to Wales what by long experience has been shown to be a satisfactory and effective solution of the difficulty in Scotland. I hope the House will show that it sympathises with this recommendation, which is of the greatest importance, and which is the only effective remedy for the present state of things. I will now deal briefly with the second difficulty which we have experienced in Wales in regard to the operation of the Sunday Closing Act. One of the main points connected with that difficulty is that in Cardiff and other large populous districts in South Wales drinking clubs have, it is alleged, been formed as the result of the operation of the Sunday Closing Act. There is a recommendation on the subject in the report of the Royal Commission, and that appears as a clause in this Bill, but when the Bill is under discussion in Committee it may be found desirable to alter that particular clause in such a way as to bring it into line with the recommendation as regards clubs which was unanimously made by the recent Licensing Committee. As regards shebeens I do not think it necessary to go into that question at length, as it has been debated frequently in this House, but I will say this, that although some years ago it was no doubt an evil of some dimensions in Cardiff, it is now a declining one, and our experience of the last few years has shown that it can be and has been effectively met by more stringent police regulations. As regards the clause dealing with the wholesale beer trade, I will not weary the House with any details, but will merely point out that the clause carries out word for word the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the subject. What is the evidence in favour of this Bill? It may possibly be asked whether, as difficulties have arisen in regard to the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales, that Act has been on the whole a success. Happily, there is not the shadow of a doubt upon that point. Representative public bodies in Wales are united in stating in the most explicit terms that the Act is in harmony with the sentiment of the vast majority of the people of the country. Then we have the evidence that the great majority of the Parliamentary representatives of Wales in this House support the Bill, and in the third place we have the explicit Report of the Royal Commission, which stated that throughout Wales as a whole general feeling preponderated largely in favour of the policy of the Act, and when you consider the recommendations of that Committee it seems to me that the question of the success of Sunday closing in Wales is placed beyond all doubt whatever. Finally, we have the unanimous verdict of the Licensing Committee, the Majority Report of which states that in Wales as a whole Sunday closing has been a success. It will therefore be seen that there is overwhelming evidence in favour of the proposition we make, namely, that the Sunday Closing Act has been a substantial success, so far as Wales is concerned. Then it may be said: "Granted that the Act has been a substantial success, to what extent have we special evidence that the amendments proposed by this Bill will be effective?" I would first of all remind the House that the recommendations which are incorporated in this Bill are not the creation of a number of teetotalers, neither do they depend alone on the concurrence of the opinions of the vast majority of the people of the country. These recommendations have been tested by two Royal Commissions, and I would remind the House of the explicit statement made in the Majority Report of the Licensing Commission on this point. It states— We see no reason to dissent from the general conclusion of the Royal Commission which inquired into the subject in 1890. It seems to me that it would be difficult to imagine any Bill ever brought before this House which had behind it such a body of evidence in its support. It is beyond all doubt that Sunday closing is in harmony with the overwhelming sentiments of the people of Wales. It is also true that certain defects exist in certain clauses of the present Act. I think it is not strange that experience has shown the existence of these defects, because when the original proposal was discussed in 1881 it was a time of great Parliamentary pressure, and it was necessary to rush the Bill through in order that it might pass. A great many resolutions and petitions have been sent from Wales during the last few weeks to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House asking him to afford the necessary facility for passing the Bill into law. The Government have plenty of time, and no excuse of Parliamentary pressure can be brought forward. I would also point out that, so far as the Government in this House are concerned, they cannot logically oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. What is the principle they have laid down as regards temperance legislation? That principle is that any Bill which carried out the unanimous and not the sectional recommendations of the Licensing Committee should not be opposed in this House. I think also that we in Wales have some right to make an urgent appeal to the Government in this matter. It is quite true that at the present time the mind of the country is almost completely absorbed in the great conflict which is proceeding in South Africa, and I should like to remind the Government that, however much we in Wales may differ as to the causes of the war, there has been displayed in Wales a disposition, a readiness, and, more than that, a determination to afford the Government unstinted and ungrudging help in the prosecution of the campaign, and also that the Welsh soldiers have very conspicuously displayed their bravery for the Queen and country. We in Wales take a very deep interest in this Bill; we believe it is a reform which would be of immense moral value, and is it, after all, such a very strange thing that we should appeal to the Government for an hour or two in order that we may be able to pass a Bill which has the sanction and endorsement of two Royal Commissions and the undoubted support of the greater majority of the inhabitants of Wales? Is it such a great boon that we should be given the necessary time to pass such a Bill? We believe that if this time were given to us that it will be the means of making Sunday closing in Wales a complete success, and that it will enable the people of Wales to do what they have hitherto been unable to do—namely, to reap to the full the many benefits which now into the lives of the people by having at all events one day out of seven free from the inevitable accompaniments of Sunday drinking. For these reasons I commend this Bill to the favourable consideration of the House, and I trust that it will be given a Second Reading to-day. I beg to move, Sir.

* MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)

I have very great pleasure in seconding the motion. I was glad that my hon. friend closed his lucid and excellent speech on the key of nationality. I should like to point out to the House that if it be possible to have a complete national demand, the demand of Wales for temperance legislation fulfils that condition. The demand for the Amendment of the law comes from public bodies of all kinds, on which all parties and denominations are represented. The only dissenting view, so far as I am aware, comes from a section of one of the more important towns in South Wales which is largely influenced by an English admixture. I hope, therefore, that the Government— who have already given indications, in the case of the Roman Catholic University for Ireland, that at any rate a considerable number of their members are willing to give generous consideration to national claims—will take into consideration this national claim of Wales, which, as I said, approaches more nearly to a unanimous national demand than any demand which has emanated from Ireland. No doubt it may be said that we are forcing an open door in pressing upon the House the unanimity with which legislation of this kind is favoured in Wales. Still I think there is an impression abroad that opinion in Wales is divided to a greater extent than is really the case. It may be well, therefore, to state the facts. Take my own county. At the time of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Commission evidence was given by the chairman of the county council, who was also the deputy chairman of the quarter sessions, by two clergymen, by several local leaders of both political parties, who were all unanimously in favour of the original Bill. What was particularly remarkable about that evidence was that it was to the effect that there had been, since the passing of the Act, a distinct improvement in public feeling as regards temperance, and I can say with great confidence that as regards my own constituency that feeling has increased, and is increasing, and I have never heard one single complaint as regards temperance legislation during the whole time I have had the honour of representing the very large constituency for which I sit—a constituency which, for a considerable part of its length, borders on the adjacent English county of Shropshire; and though at the time the inquiry was held there were complaints of violations of the Act by persons going across the border on Sundays, I have not heard any complaints recently either from the police or otherwise. This is very striking evidence of what is known to many of us—namely, that you can by legislation alter the attitude of the people, and that the public, if the law is in advance of them, will level themselves up to it. That is what has happened in the case of Wales as regards a matter to which public opinion was at one time somewhat hostile. I cannot state it at first hand, but the impression which has been produced on my mind by all that I have heard and read with reference to South Wales is that the evils of illicit drinking have been very considerably diminished under the force of a vigorous administration of the law. Turning to the Bill itself, the first salient point refers to our old nuisance the bona fide traveller. I do not think the bona fide traveller trouble is increasing with us; still it does exist to some extent, and I feel sure that the magistrates and the police, as well as the inhabitants generally of my constituency, will welcome an amendment of the law with reference to it, and which will make evasion of the law more difficult than it is at present. The provision for Sunday licences is, I think, valuable. Of course, all rational temperance reformers recognise that the time is still far distant when everyone will be a teetotaller. At present a very large portion of the population are convinced that unless they get some alcoholic stimulant with their meals they are unfairly deprived of one of the enjoyments of life. That difficulty will be met to a great extent by these Sunday licences, which are only to be granted in respect to promises with a certain rateable value. I think the consideration which is shown to that feeling by these provisions ought to conciliate opposition if there is going to be any opposition on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite. As regards the illicit sale of drink in clubs, I do not suppose that there can be two opinions. The only objection I ever heard to such legislation was that it did not fulfil its object; but experience has shown that existing legislation has fulfilled its object by largely diminishing the illicit sale of drink in sham clubs. The provision in the Bill on that subject ought certainly to receive the favourable consideration of the House. I do not know whether I need appeal to the House on general temperance grounds, yet I do not like to sit down without saying a word regarding the terrible evils which are caused by drink. Scarcely a day passes without a case being brought to my notice of sorrow and ruin having been caused by the habit of drinking. Such cases are known to all of us, and I appeal, therefore, to hon. Gentlemen opposite, whose strong feeling in favour of the right of the individual may tempt them to offer unnecessary opposition, to reserve their opposition on this occasion and allow the Bill to be read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed— "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Herbert Roberts.)

MR. BRIGGS (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)

It may be thought that, not being a Welsh Member, I should not interfere in this debate; but I find that there are certain conditions which exist in the north of England which also exist in Wales, and which are caused by the intermingling of agricultural and urban populations. It must not in any way be supposed that I think the advocacy of this Bill requires outside aid, and there is quite ability enough among the Welsh Members to enable them to support the arguments in favour of this Bill. I merely desire to direct special attention to two points mentioned by the hon. Gentleman in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. The first referred to the bona fide traveller, as regards whom the conditions are now altogether altered. Originally it was proposed that when a man walked three miles he had a right to a glass of beer, but now the facilities for travelling both by rail and road have increased to such an extent that the three mile limit ought to be very considerably extended. The other point refers to the question of clubs, which is one of the most delicate questions which temperance reformers have at the present moment to face. I think the proposal in the Bill on the subject is in the right direction. I wish to say that I approve the Bill. We have had several opportunities lately of saying something on the temperance question, but whether there will be another opportunity in this Parliament for dealing with this question as a whole is more than I can venture to prophesy. I myself am content to do something, however small it may be, in the direction of limiting the evils of drink. I cordially support this Bill, because I believe it will reduce these evils, which are a disgrace to our country.

MR. MACLEAN (Cardiff)

I think that the present aspect of the House shows very clearly that the vast majority of Members feel how unreal legislation of this kind really is. For my part, I have always maintained that the Sunday Closing Act would never have been tolerated so long as it has been in the thickly populated parts of Wales, if it were not that the Act has become practically a dead letter in Cardiff and other populous districts in South Wales. It is very easy indeed for any man who wants intoxicating liquor on Sundays to procure it for himself and his friends, and that is the reason why the Sunday Closing Act has been regarded with comparative indifference by the people. It is a curious circumstance that we cannot come down to the House on a Wednes- day afternoon without stumbling upon some new Bill for still further restricting the sale of intoxicating liquor in Wales, promoted by a Member from North Wales, which contains only a small part of the population. These Bills are largely promoted for Wales by hon. Members representing North Wales and the less populous parts of the Principality. [HON. MEMBERS: No!] Well, that is my opinion, at all events. Hon. Members take advantage of what they call a great wave of public opinion, and petitions are got up and sent to this House in order to influence its judgment by showing there is a strong feeling in favour of certain measures. We all know in this House how easy it is to manufacture petitions, and how a spurious public opinion can be worked up. Within the last fortnight I have had to present petitions from fully one hundred Sunday-schools and chapels in favour of the Bill regarding the sale of intoxicating liquor to young children. But is it not absurd to say that there is a great force of public opinion at the back of that Bill when we see that these petitions are sent out from London on a regular form on a stamped directed envelope by the pastors and masters of the children? It is well known that these children are incapable of forming an opinion of the real question to be submitted to the House. I give that as an example of the way in which a spurious public opinion is manufactured in order to influence the judgment of the representatives of the people. We have been told by the hon. Member who introduced the Bill that Parliament is bound to give a certain favourable hearing to the Bill because the Royal Commission had reported in its favour. Well, that was ten years ago. How is it that the recommendation of the Royal Commission has never yet been acted upon? It is because public opinion would not tolerate anything of the kind. And now we have the opinion of the Licensing Commission thrust in our face. We all know what the head of the Government thinks of that Commission.* [An HON. MEMBER: But he is only one.] I suppose Lord Salisbury still commands some weight in his own Cabinet, and represents the Government of which he is the head. We know that he has spoken with regard to this very matter in an open and frank manner. He has spoken with the utmost freedom and great courage against the idea that the Government is bound to legislate on the lines laid down by the Royal Commission. It is delightful to read such sentiments in the present day; they are like a wholesome breeze of common sense penetrating the walls of this palace, and driving away the cobwebs with which our intelligences are clouded. Lord Salisbury deserves the greatest honour for the course he has taken on this question, and he says emphatically that the Government will not be bound to any conclusion of the Royal Commission. I ask what is the use of bringing a Bill of this kind into this House, and sending it up to the House of Lords? We all know what its fate will be there. Happily the Government is represented by strong-minded, conscientious statesmen, not by political hermaphrodites who call themselves Liberal Unionists, and who agree to every proposal that comes from the other side. We who follow Lord Salisbury may still follow him and have confidence in him. I owe no allegiance to those to whom I have alluded. That is the position in which we find ourselves at the present moment. I daresay that all idea of protecting personal liberty has been lost in this House. We saw that the other day when it was proposed to extend the Sunday Closing Act to Monmouthshire. I have no doubt that Bill will go forward to the doom which probably awaits it in the Upper Chamber, and the people of Wales will hear of it no more. We are told by the hon. Member who introduced this Bill that it represented no principle and no policy. That is a very candid *Refer to page 1023 of this volume. admission on his part; but at the same time he wants to proceed step by step. It seems to me as if he intends to make pretty long strides. The relations of the bona fide traveller it is proposed to alter by the Bill. We know that at present he has to walk into the country a distance of three miles before he can get refreshments at a licensed house; the new proposal is that he must walk for not less than twelve miles into the country before he will be entitled to obtain refreshments. It seems to me that no persons in future will be entitled to obtain refreshments in Wales on Sunday, unless, indeed, they are able to rival the Highland Brigade in their admirable marches in South Africa. Not only is it laid down that the traveller must take a walk of twelve miles before obtaining any refreshment, but he must be prepared to show that he had not undertaken the walk for the express purpose of obtaining intoxicating liquor. How on earth are you to find out from a traveller coming fainting to the door of a public-house whether he has struggled over twelve weary miles for the express purpose of obtaining refreshment? I should think by that time he must be anxious to obtain refreshments of some kind. But there is also the extraordinary provision in the Bill that no person shall be proved to be a bona fide traveller unless the evidence given on his behalf (there is to be evidence before he gets a drink) is corroborated in some material respect by a person or persons not interested. So that this unfortunate worn and weary traveller must raise a hue and cry throughout the neighbourhood, he must find someone with whom he is acquainted who will come forward and give disinterested evidence to show that he has not walked twelve miles in order to get a drink, before he can get a glass of ale. Those are the childish proposals which in these days are submitted to the House of Commons. I suppose that many hon. Members for Wales are now so preoccupied with greater matters that they will not take the trouble to look into this Bill. There are all kinds of other drastic provisions on which I will not detain the House; but that is the operative clause, and I maintain it is perfectly ridiculous to attempt to pass it on a Wednesday afternoon. No doubt it will be exceedingly interesting to hear what the opinion of the Government is on the Bill. Is the Government going to be bound by the opinions of Lord Salisbury and strike out a line of its own, or is the bona fide traveller to be prevented getting a drop of ale on a Sunday? I shall be curious to hear what the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Treasury Bench has to say on that subject. I am, however, glad to say that it is foredoomed to utter failure and extinction in the other House.


Speaking generally, this Bill follows the lines of the recommendations of the Royal Commissions. There are, however, one or two special clauses which are not in accordance with these recommendations; indeed they are in opposition to them, notably that with reference to the bona fide traveller. The Bill provides that no one should be supplied with liquor unless he has travelled twelve miles, and goes that distance with some other object than that of obtaining the liquor. The Commission of 1890 distinctly refused to consider the distance, and I think their recommendation was to leave out the bona fide traveller altogether as well as the question of distance, and to rely on some other safeguard as to who is really a bona fide traveller. If my memory serves me rightly, the Royal Commission which reported last year relied on ample safeguards of other kinds to deal with the bona fide traveller, and in these days of cycling, when undoubtedly bona fide travellers go into the country, it does seem an unnecessarily stringent provision to stipulate for twelve miles in addition to all the other stringent conditions and safeguards in regard to the bona fide traveller. In regard to the position of the Government, I should deprecate the speech of my hon. friend the Member for Montgomeryshire. He appealed to this side of the House, for what purpose I do not know, and said that we were opposed to temperance legislation generally.


My right hon. friend has misunderstood me. My argument was that there was on the other side of the House a strong feeling in favour of the rights of indi- viduals, and that that might lead them to offer an opposition to the Bill, which I should think unnecessary. I made no charge that they were opposed to temperance.


I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman has explained that. I thought he appealed more than once to this side of the House, as being opponents of temperance legislation; and I wish to say that those on this side of the House are as much in favour of practical temperance legislation as hon. Members on the other side, although we are opponents of impracticable legislation. If those measures proposed in times past in favour of temperance legislation, and which were opposed by the supporters of this Bill, had been adopted years ago, there would have been a great advance in the cause of temperance. Therefore if I were in the mood to discuss that question, I would say that it is the advocates of extreme temperance legislation, mostly to be found on the other side of the House, who are the greatest foes of progressive temperance legislation. Looking to the fact that this Bill is an amendment of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881, and that it goes on the lines generally of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, with one or two exceptions which may be dealt with hereafter, the Government are not going to offer any opposition to the Second Reading. I agree with what the hon. Member said about the personal liberty of those who think it necessary for their comfort to have the means of obtaining intoxicating liquor as refreshment. I am fortified in that feeling by the fact that some of us have always the power to command that refreshment in their own houses from more or less well-stocked cellars, and we should be very careful what we do to impose, without due cause, conditions which would make it impossible for those who have not similar facilities, but who yet have legitimate wants in regard to drinking, to gratify those desires. I mention that to show that hon. Members should have other considerations in view, otherwise they will let the cause of temperance fall into a position of intolerance, and the result will be a general rebellion throughout the country against such extreme temperance nostrums being foisted upon us. It is not for hon. Members who are abstainers themselves unduly to force their views on others. In regard to the clause dealing with bona fide travellers, Lord Peel's Commission rejected the twelve miles; they would not, in fact, recommend any distance whatever, but sought to rely on certain other safeguards. The Commission of 1890 were in the same position, so that in regard to the manner in which the bona fide traveller is dealt with this clause is in direct opposition to the recommendations of both Commissions. The Bill also proposes to repeal the clause in the Act of 1881 which exempts railway travellers, and the reason given is that a man might purchase a railway ticket for the purpose of obtaining liquor, and get drunk before the train starts. I suppose that for one man who travelled for that object, a thousand would not, and here again we must be careful that we should not put great inconvenience on the public generally because one or two persons may abuse the law. I think I shall have the assent of the whole House in that matter. The Bill is in opposition, if I remember rightly, to both the Minority and the Majority Reports of the Royal Commission of last year, which recommended that the railway companies should have regulations drawn up, which must be approved by the Board of Trade, to prevent men who travel simply for the sake of drinking, from obtaining it.


The clause carries out the recommendation of the Commission of 1890. Since that time the Licensing Commission has made a different recommendation. So far as I am concerned, I am willing to have the clause amended in accordance with the last recommendation.


The Minority Report of the last Commission was certainly not in favour of this restriction. Take the case of men and women travelling from London to Scotland, or other long distances: are they to be denied a glass of beer during the journey, and compelled to take instead a cup of tea or coffee? Different people have different habits and customs, but those, who desire it should not be precluded from obtaining reasonable refreshment I am a temperance man myself, but not a teetotaler. All my life I have been connected with temperance associations, until I found them such enemies of true temperance that I was obliged to withdraw my subscriptions. From the time of Home Secretary Bruce, twenty-five years ago, to the present day, I hold that not the real genuine temperance men, but the extreme men, men who get up agitations and have petitions signed by children, have really stood in the way of progressive, step-by-step temperance legislation. Therefore I speak as a friend of temperance against all extreme confiscatory measures. The reason why I have referred to this matter is solely from the observations which fell from my hon. friend opposite. The Government will give no opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill.

* MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)

desired merely to ask the promoters whether, in their view of what had happened since this scheme was laid down, it was their view that the Bill should go to the Committee untrammelled by the particular provisions it contained. If that was so there could be no reason for not allowing the Second Heading. If that was not their view, he could not acquiesce in the measure in its present form, and should oppose the Second Heading.


said that with regard to certain specific points it was desirable that amendments should be made in the form of the Bill as it stood at the present time. All the promoters desired was that the Bill should leave the House in such a shape as would make it a practical measure and attain the end they had in view.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Law, etc.