§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for the Second Reading read.
§ MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said that the question of the closing of the public-houses on Sunday was so well understood that it would not be necessary for him to trouble the House with many observations in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. It was sometimes suggested that this Bill had not behind it any very large body of public opinion; but he would venture to point out that no petition had ever been presented to this House signed exclusively by working men, and no Resolution had ever bean passed during the last fifty years by any trade organisation or trade federation directly representing the working classes, against a Sunday Closing Bill.
§ MR. GRETTON (Derbyshire, S.)
called attention to the fact that there were not forty Members present.
After an interval, numbers were counted and forty Members being present,
§ MR. PERKS
resumed his speech. He said that the history of this measure was well known. For fifty years Scotland had enjoyed the benefits of absolute Sunday closing; and not only had no proposition come from Scotland backed by any section of political or religious opinion in favour of the abolition of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, but every Royal Commission which had had to deal with the licensing question had pointed out the great benefits which Scotland had derived from the adoption of that measure. In Ireland since 1878 there had been a successful working of the universa Sunday Closing Act, subject to the exclusion of five of the large cities in 1538 Ireland. In passing he might point out that the exclusion of these five cities was adopted on an Amendment moved in Committee on the original Bill. In Wales, since 1888, there had been Sunday closing in operation, and that had met with the approval not merely of the temperance party, but of the whole population in Wales, and of all the political representatives of that country with the exception of two. The Royal Commission appointed to investigate this very question of the application of Sunday closing to the big cities of Cardiff and Swansea in 1890, declared that they had found an almost complete absence of any desire for an amendment of the law. The most recent Licensing Royal Commission endorsed that decision, and there was nothing in either the Majority or Minority Report which suggested an amendment of the existing law in Scotland, Ireland, or Wales. In the Isle of Man there was universal Sunday closing; and so also in most of the British Colonies. And in every State in the United States, with one exception, the public-houses were closed on Sunday. He cited these facts for the purpose of negativing the theory that the working classes in our great cities would not accept such a Bill as was now proposed, on the ground that it would be an interference with public liberty and the rights of adult labour.
Passing from that point to the efforts made from time to time to pass such a measure as this the Second Reading of which he was now moving, in 1888 a measure of a similar description was submitted to the House by the then Conservative Government. The Local Government Bill of 1888, which was endorsed by the right hon. Member for Croydon, Mr. W. H. Smith, Mr. Matthews, and the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, contained clauses providing for Sunday closing at the option of the county councils. For some reason, into which he would not further inquire, the clauses in that Bill dealing with licensing and Sunday closing were withdrawn, but, at all events, he pointed out that that was a clear and distinct proposition from the then Conservative Government—one of whose members now sat on the Treasury 1539 Bench—that the county councils should have the power of Sunday closing. The next attempt made to deal with the subject was in the Bill introduced by the late Sir William Harcourt, who proposed to give to the local ratepayers, by a direct vote, the absolute right to close public-houses on Sunday. The Royal Commission which had to deal with this subject more recently did not recommend universal Sunday closing. The minority, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and four Members of this House, recommended the closing of the public houses on Sunday except for one hour in the middle of the day; and for two hours in the evening. The Majority Report stated that—''To enact complete Sunday closing throughout England would be, in our judgment, at the present time, a step far in advance of public opinion. We are, however, prepared to recommend the further curtailment of the time of opening to two hours at mid-day and two hours in the evening as a maximum. It would be advisable to leave London and the principal cities outside of the operation at least for a time.That clause had been carefully prepared by the majority of the Royal Commission, of which two of the members were immediately connected with the liquor trade; and it clearly and manifestly contemplated the possibility of public opinion being in favour of Sunday closing in the early future. The Minority Report, went a little further and said that—Some districts in England would probably be in favour of entire Sunday closing while others would strenuously resist.It was not, he thought, necessary for him to refer to the various arguments which, for many years past, had been adduced in support of this measure. There had been an increasing tendency to curtail the hours of labour in all classes of the community and in every branch of commerce and industry; and that ought to find some recognition on the part of traders connected with the sale of intoxicating liquor. It did not seem to him reasonable that the owners of these great establishments and the shareholders who benefited so considerably from them, should not contribute their fair share towards the hours of relaxation which the employees in this country were obtaining in an increasing degree. It was clear, from the figures adduced before 1540 the last Royal Commission, that the hours of labour of the employees in the 180,000 public-houses in this country were, on the average, very much longer and more arduous than those of the average employees in other industrial and commercial undertakings. There were cases in which people employed in public-houses were kept on duty from 100 up to 115 hours per week.
Now, this was a trade which was almost the last to be entitled to claim a preferential treatment, either on economic or commercial grounds. There was very little doubt, although they could not expect the men who were closely identified with the trade to admit the proposition, that the excessive taking of alcoholic liquor was the main cause of poverty, crime, and physical deterioration in this country to many thousands of our fellow-subjects. Therefore, ha could see no reason whatever why the owners of distilleries, breweries, and public-houses should come to this House and claim preferential treatment for the sale of their goods over the baker, the grocer, the butcher, and every other trader. Experiments in other parts of the United Kingdom had proved Sunday closing to be an undenfable success, and, as the liquor trade was a monopoly, the nation was entitled to apply to it far more rigid conditions than it should apply to the ordinary trade which claimed from the State no such monopoly. Should the Bill pass the Second Reading, it would be open for any hon. Member to suggest limitations of the hours or of the cities to which it should apply. Having regard to the frequent declarations of the predecessors of the Government that they were ardent supporters of temperance reform and the overwhelming body of public opinion which was behind this measure, he hoped that the Government would support it or leave their followers to support it as they thought proper.
§ MR. CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston),
in seconding the Second Reading of the Bill, said that the consumption of whisky had diminished in Scotland, comparing the seven years before and the seven years after the passing of the Sunday Closing Act, from 37,000,000 gallons to 27,000,000, or a fifth of the 1541 total amount of consumption. This might have been due to some extent to the increased duty on spirits during the latter period; but all authorities were agreed that the reduction was more greatly due to legislation. The statistics clearly showed that the amount of Sunday drunkenness was reduced in Scotland to an extraordinary extent. In Edinburgh it was less by one-fourth, and in other cities the reduction was even greater. The Royal Commission of 1860 said the improvement in large towns had been most remarkable; that the employers and employees were unanimous in testifying to the great improvement in the regularity of attendance of workmen at work on Monday mornings, and that the cessation of business on Sunday was regarded as a great boon by publicans. The Report also stated there was no evidence that home drinking had increased, and that if there had been drinking elsewhere than in the public-houses the total amount of consumption of whisky could not have diminished by one-fifth. No section of the Scotch community now advocated the Sunday opening of public-houses. There was far too much theorising as to what would happen in considering this question, and far too little done in the way of examining what had happened. The Commission reported that the improvement in the great towns had been most remarkable; and that, whereas previously on Sunday mornings a number of persons in every state of intoxication were seen to issue from public-houses to the great annoyance of respectable inhabitants proceeding to church, now the streets were quite orderly, and few cases of drunkenness were to be seen. There was the most complete evidence as to the beneficial effect of the Sunday Closing Act in Scotland. Opinion in Scotland was absolutely in favour of it. Hon. Members representing Scottish constituences might vote against a Bill applied to England; but not one hon. Member would vote for the repeal of the Act in Scotland. If it were possible to increase industrial efficiency, to reduce the hours of that section of the community which worked longer than any other, to diminish drunkenness, and to bring comfort into miserable homes by this Bill, 1542 any hon. Member voting against it would incur the gravest responsibility. If the Bill were given a Second Reading, it could, if necessary, be modified in Committee; but in the circumstances he could not imagine any hon. Member voting against it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said there were reasons of no partial character why the House should not adopt this proposal. In making that statement he spoke as a sincere advocate of temperance and of due restrictions on a trade which for a long period had been recognised to require careful regulation. As a county magistrate in Scotland, a former Scotch Member, and later an English Member, he had taken an active interest in the passing of measures intended to prevent the mischief which had attended the trade. Therefore it was without fear of misconception, but with a sincere belief that it was undesirable to carry restriction too far, and, in the interest of social reform, to interfere too much with the liberty of the subject, that he opposed the Bill.
Undoubtedly the supporters of the measure were actuated by the highest motives, but the analogy between the working of a similar measure in Scotland and in this country might be carried too far. It was not the case that there never had teen objections to the working of the Scotch Act, or petitions for its abolition. About twenty years ago a Royal Commission inquired, into the working of the Act and arrived at the conclusion that its operations should not be interrupted. The evils of Sunday drinking in Scotland had been very great, but in Scotland the use of the public-house was different from what it was in England. The public-house in this country was the cellar of the working-classes, who could not keep a supply of liquor in their houses as wealthier people did, and consequently were dependent on the retailer. For many years he had represented an English constituency composed mainly of working people, and 1543 he knew how the public-house was regularly used for the supply of the family beer for dinner or supper. He thought it was better for a working man to send for a jug of beer and drink it in the midst of his family than to sit in a public-house. If the drinking of beer was an evil per se, he believed that far more mischief was caused to the race by the excessive use of tea than of beer. In his own district in Scotland a doctor had told him that the deterioration in the race, and especially the premature decay of the teeth, was mainly attributable to over-indulgence in tea. If he were going to interfere with, the liberty of the subject and put a restriction on their daily drink, he would prohibit the infusion of tea for more than two minutes and the drinking of more than a certain quantity per day.
It had been said that the British Colonies nearly everywhere had adopted Sunday closing, but when he went as Governor to South Australia he was amused to find that the Licensing Act provided that, whereas the front door of a public-house must not be open on Sunday, the back door might be. He admitted that good had come from the limitation of the hours of opening on Sunday, and if the measure had simply proposed to further shorten the hours he would have been glad to see it obtain a Second Reading. But this was a hard-and-fast Bill, which they must take or leave.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said a further limitation in the number of hours that public-houses might be open on Sunday. The limitations, the right hon. Gentleman continued, must differ in accordance with the requirements of particular localities. There was no doubt a serious responsibility attaching to any one who voted against the Bill. Well, he was prepared to undertake that responsibility, and one need not shrink from it when the results of Sunday closing were examined. Take the case of Wales. The chief constable of the county of Monmouth last year stated to his standing joint committee that in the neighbouring counties where 1544 the sale of beer was prohibited on Sundays the drunkenness was in excess of that in the counties where there was no such prohibition. Again, the quinquennial averages showed that the number of convictions for drunkenness on Sundays in Scotland, where prohibition prevailed was greater than in England where there was no prohibition. Only on the preceding day they were told by an hon. Member from Ireland that there was a greater preponderance of crime in Ulster than in other parts.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said he did not. know whether it was the fact, and indeed he did not care to use it as an illustration in order to say that there was more drunkenness in Ulster where there was prohibititon than in England where there was none.
§ MR. CORBETT
As a matter of fact the number of convictions is less than before prohibition was introduced.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said he opposed the measure because he thought it would prove oppressive to many people to whom the accommodation of public-houses on Sunday was perfectly harmless, and he believed that an undue increase of restriction would do more harm than good.
§ MR. MOON (St. Pancras, N.)
sincerely respected the views of hon. Gentlemen who were promoting the Bill and hoped that they would give him credit for equal disinterestedness. He, as much as they, desired to promote temperance, and last year he supported the proposal that there should be imposed on successful applicants for new licences the duty of providing suitable refreshments at the risk of having their licences taken away. He was also in favour of movements like the public-house trust movement, but he was forced to confess that the measure now before the House did not derive support from the result of the working of a similar measure in Scotland. One difficulty was as to the providing of beer for Sunday drinking, and he did not think there could be any reasonable 1545 objection to the Sunday sale of beer during a limited number of hours, or even to its consumption in the public-houses during those hours. He agreed with the recommendation of the Royal Commission in favour of a curtailment of the hours of sale. Let them have a maximum of two hours in the day and two hours in the evening, with a proviso that London and other large cities should be left out of the operation of the measure. It was a mistake to introduce a drastic measure of this kind, and he wondered why hon. Members opposite had not brought in a more moderate measure. He would not dwell on the pernicious effect of tea as compared with beer. He remembered that on that point some very remarkable evidence was given before the Physical Deterioration Committee.
§ MR. MOON
said he believed that excessive tea-drinking conduced to lunacy. He feared that the Bill would produce a great deal of secret drinking, and another point was that people would take home for Sunday consumption more powerful alcoholic drink than beer. The tendency would be to drink spirits. As he believed the Bill would not conduce to temperance, he seconded the Motion for its rejection.
To leave out the word 'now' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Sir J. Fergusson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N.W.)
supported the Bill, and said that the manner in which its rejection had been moved and seconded marked a considerable advance of public opinion in its favour. The quotations made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester from the recommendations of the Royal Commission were really in support of this Bill, because the Commission reported in favour of the continuance of the 1546 Scotch and Welsh Acts. It seemed as if this question resolved itself into a question of bottled versus draught beer. If it could be shown that the working classes, for whom the mover of the rejection claimed to speak, could obtain their beer as cheaply, and that it would keep as well obtained on Saturday night as on Sunday, then the opponents of the Bill gave up the whole position. He was not a sufficiently good judge of the qualities of beer to know whether beer purchased on Saturday night would keep until Sunday dinner, but he was sure that if the problem reduced itself to that infinitesimal point the case had gone altogether, because the overwhelming advantages of Sunday closing in other respects would not be denied.
He declined to follow the argument whether or not the excessive use of tea was more injurious than the excessive use of alcoholic liquors, because it had been reduced to a point of absurdity. The pertinent question was whether the use of tea produced poverty, crime, and other evils which undoubtedly followed the use of intoxicants. It could not honestly be contended that there was any comparison whatever between the excessive use of tea, which no doubt produced injurious physical effects, and the excessive use of alcohol, which produced a variety of crime.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
I never said that the excessive use of tea was worse than the excessive use of beer. I said it was worse than the habitual use of beer.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE
said he was not defending the excessive use of tea, therefore the argument appeared to have no relevancy whatever.
The position in this House was far behind that of public opinion in the country. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had entirely failed to show why England should be at a disadvantage as compared with Scotland and Wales with regard to a law of this kind. There was no difference between England and Scotland as far as the conditions and needs of the people were concerned, and the gin palace was equally a temptation and an evil whether 1547 it was in the streets of Glasgow or of London. But they were accustomed to seeing given to the northern part of the Kingdom advantages and privileges which were denied to England, and he was really jealous that Scotland should have enjoyed for nearly half a century advantages in this matter which, although demanded by a large majority of the people, could not be secured for England. Almost without exception those who specially represented the working classes in the House were in favour of a measure of Sunday closing, but their testimony was absolutely ignored or set aside as of no value. Personally he had a great deal to do with working men, meeting some hundreds weekly, of whom probably not ten per cent, were total abstainers, but he had found scarcely one respectable artisan who desired the continuance of the Sunday opening of public-houses. Those who waited so earnestly for the opening of the public-house doors on Sunday were the men who had been the victims of excessive drinking on Saturday—the section of men who were destructive of the industrial pre-eminence of the nation, a burden upon the class to which they belonged, frequently the main instrument in breaking down their trade union efforts, and in other ways a detriment to the general advancement of the working classes. Why should advantages accruing from Sunday closing be foregone at the instigation of this small section of the population, while the great majority of the respectable artisan class were in its favour?
It was said that the trade demanded no special treatment. But they already had special treatment, and it was of that that he and others complained. Moreover, Sunday closing was demanded in the interests of labour, it having been shown that this was one of the most deadly trades in the country, and that those who were engaged in it had shorter lives than almost any other class of the community. He had been surprised that the large body of working men who demanded shorter hours for themselves had not raised a great outcry against the long hours worked by barmaids and barmen; and the addition of a certain number of hours of Sunday 1548 labour constituted a hardship against which, in the interests of labour, a protest should be made. Although he did not expect great things from the present Parliament, he thought it was right that this question should be kept before the public, and therefore he hoped the Bill would be read a second time, if only as an indication that the House still reflected to a certain extent the opinion of the nation.
§ *MR. HUGH SMITH (Northumberland, Tyneside),
in supporting the Second Reading, said the promoters of this Bill had been twitted on the fact that they had not brought in a measure for curtailing the hours of Sunday opening rather than one for entire closing, and the mover and seconder of the rejection had indicated that they would have supported a Bill drawn on those lines. He would point out, however, that at the beginning of the session many Members ballotted for the purpose of bringing in such a measure, but were unsuccessful, and therefore they had to support, as they willingly did, the present Bill. Early next week a Bill would be introduced in another place dealing with the curtailment of Sunday hours and the earlier closing on week nights, which was almost, as necessary as Sunday closing. As a supporter of the Government he had on many occasions defended what they had done in the way of licensing reform. In 1901 the Government gave their support to a Private Bill introduced by the other side, and it was solely through their agency that the country secured the beneficial provisions of the Child Messenger Act. Then, too, there were the Licensing Acts for Scotland and this country. Although possibly in the English Act they did not get all they wanted, still it was a great measure, and the consciences of the justices having been awakened, there were at present a number of public-houses being closed in centres of population which would not have been closed but for that Act. Therefore, whatever else might be said against them, he thanked the present Government for what they had done in the way of licensing reform.
The question had been asked whether the public really wanted Sunday closing. 1549 Statistics had been circulated showing that 85 per cent. of the people canvassed were in favour of entire Sunday closing as compared with 15 per cent. against, so that a vast majority of the working classes were in favour of the proposal before the House. Many. also, who were inside the houses themselves would be in favour of such a measure. The employees in receipt of a weekly wage would be only too glad to have the Sunday rest, and many men engaged in tied houses would be entirely in its favour. He admitted that there was a considerable body of opinion in favour of public-houses being open the whole of the day, and many people felt that they could not support the entire closing. But the opponents of the Bill had expressed a willingness to accept a limitation of Sunday hours, and the mover had promised that in Committee any suggestion of that sort should receive favourable consideration. There was a consensus of opinion on both sides that some reduction of hours was necessary, and if they were drawing closer one to another there ought surely to be some via media by which the Hill might become law. He therefore supported the Second Reading, because if the Bill did not pass nothing in the way of limitation could be done, whereas if it did pass there would be a chance of some limiting powers being inserted, of which perhaps he was more in favour than entire Sunday closing. He was not sure that the country was yet ripe for entire Sunday closing, but it was ripe at any rate for a limitation of Sunday hours, and therefore he gladly supported the Second Reading of the present Bill.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
said his hon. friend who had just sat down appeared to have developed an argument which showed that he was only a half-hearted supporter of this Bill. [Cries of "No, no."] The hon. Member had stated that it was impossible to close wholly on Sundays. He could not see how that tallied with his statement that 85 per cent. of the people were in favour of total closing. He did not think that the 85 per cent, who were said to be in favour of this measure would contradict themselves to such an extent as to go to a public-house on Sunday; therefore there was only 15 1550 per cent. of the population who desired to go to public-houses on Sunday.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said that the figures really meant 85 per cent, of those who had taken the trouble to record their votes and not 85 per cent, of the population. There were a large number of people who did not declare their opinion either one way or the other. He did not think it was fair to say that the majority of the people were infavour of Sunday closing. One objection to this Bill was that it had only been printed on Wednesday last, and it had hardly been possible for hon. Members to get up any statement of facts against the Bill. No doubt the promoters had been able to get all their statements and facts ready, but those who were opposed to legislation of this kind had not been able to look into the matter.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said he hoped that the effect of the few remarks he was about to make would be that this Bill would share the fate of former Bills of this kind, and that it would not be allowed to pass into law.
There were really only two arguments that could be brought forward in favour of this measure. The first was the argument of those who thought that Sunday trading in all its forms was objectionable. He was not in favour of the Continental Sunday, and perhaps they were getting a little too much towards that. The old English Sunday was perhaps as good as they would wish to keep, and as good as could be devised. But the object of hon. Members actuated by that feeling could only be obtained if they extended this Bill to other drinkables. If the milkman could sell his milk on Sunday, why should the publican not be allowed to sell his beer? The hon. 1551 Baronet the Member for Camborne was, no doubt, animated by a totally different state of mind, because he thought that drinking was wrong and ought to be stopped.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said that hon. Members opposite would not gain their object by voting for this Bill, because for six days of the week people would still be able to go to public-houses. The supporters of this Bill seemed to have caught the Sabbatarians, and they were trying together to pass a measure which would be the thin end of the wedge, and that would be advanced as a reason for further legislation in this direction. It had been said that the public-house was the cellar of the working man, whilst hon. Members of this House had mostly cellars of their own. He believed his hon. friend behind him had a cellar of his own, although he had not had the good fortune of being entertained at his house. He understood, however, that his hon. friend in front of him, the Member for North Ayrshire, had dined at the hon. Member's house and had been supplied with some very good liquor of an intoxicating nature.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said he did not see why working men unable to keep a sufficient quantity of beer in their houses should be prevented from going to the public-houses during reasonable hours on Sunday to obtain what they desired. Because some people made beasts of themselves, were they going to prevent sane and reasonable men from taking what was really good for them. He believed that alcoholic liquors in moderation were a good thing for people. He remembered a test which was made in the hayfield during harvest time. A certain number of men were put to the task of seeing how many loads they could carry and they were allowed to drink water only; a similar number of men were given beer to do the same task, and the people who drank the beer did a great deal more work than those who drank water. He 1552 agreed with all that had been said about the evils of excessive drinking, but those were not evils connected With drinking in moderation. There appeared to be an ever-increasing desire to regulate everything by the State, but if they wanted to make people sober, industrious, and hardworking they should leave them to work out their own salvation in this respect. They could always do very much more by example than by continually putting forward measures to compel people to do something which they did not want to do. Thirty or forty years ago it was a common thing for people amongst the better classes to be found in a state of intoxication after dinner, and at that time it was not considered a very disgraceful thing. But now things had changed and they very seldom saw anything of the kind, and young officers in the Army seldom got into that state. The people had become more sober because the forces of education and example had shown that they were much better off by drinking in moderation.
He thought the statement that Sunday closing in Wales and Scotland had been successful was not altogether borne out by the facts. On January 11th, 1895, the stipendiary magistrate in Cardiff, speaking in reference to a number of cases of illicit drinking which were brought before him, said that if the cause was the harsh and too arbitrary limitation of the time during which liquor could be obtained, the Legislature might so relax the law as to lessen the temptation to resort to unlicensed premises. He further stated that if the difficulties in suppressing the liquor traffic were due to defects in the law which could be remedied without interference with the comfort and liberties of the people, it was to be hoped in the interests of good order and the removal of a public scandal that a remedy might be found and applied. Those were the opinions of one who was well able to judge of the results of Sunday closing. They did not go to show that Sunday closing had been a success. On a general holiday recently in Glasgow the public-houses were closed, and a very large number of people went to a neighbouring place where they could 1553 obtain drink. They drank all the drink that was to be had in the public-houses, and the publicans were obliged to close their premises because they were no longer able to sell drink.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
I thought it was because the people were so disappointed that they cou'd not get more drink.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
thought what occurred on the occasion referred to showed that the closing of the public-houses was not altogether a success. He admitted that what had been said in regard to privileged travellers who obtained refreshments was rather a good point. The closing of public-houses did tend to encourage people to travel in order to get drink. Perhaps that might be good for the railway companies, but it had been stated that the facilities given by the railway companies for taking people away from the public-houses had advanced the cause of temperance. It appeared that the railway companies might also take people to places where they could get drink if they travelled a sufficient distance. The Return for 1903, the last which was available, showing the number of convictions for the illicit sale of intoxicants, stated that in England there were 280 and in Wales 124, which, taking the proportion of population into consideration; meant that there were nearly seven times as many convictions in Wales, where as in Sunday Closing Act was in force, as in England, where Sunday closing was not in force. These facts and figures showed that England was in a better position than Wales, and he thought it was in a Letter position than Scotland. The best thing they could do in England was to remain as they were.
He did not think this Bill, if passed, would do what the promoters desired. He associated himself with the right hon. Gentleman who moved 1554 the rejection of the Bill in crediting everyone who supported it with being actuated by the best of motives. He hoped they would in return concede to those who opposed it that which was conceded to them. It was a very great mistake to attempt to force people to do something which, so long as they did not do it in excess, was not only not harmful, but good for them. He did not go quite so far as his right hon. friend in saying that the drinking of tea caused people to lose their teeth. It seemed to him that the tendency of all this grandmotherly legislation was to bring about an absurd state of things. If they were never to be able to do what they liked without being inspected by the county council, or temperance associations, or other bodies, however legitimate and good their aims might be, they would do a great deal to destroy the self-reliance and sturdy nature which had always been attributed to Englishman. He was sorry that he had not been able to bring forward any more weighty argument, not that he did not think those which he had advanced were weighty. If he had had more time to look into the subject he might have brought forward other arguments, but there had been some delay due to hon. Gentlemen opposite in the printing of the Bill. He was not so sanguine as to believe that his arguments would convert hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ *MR. HUGH SMITH
May I be allowed to give the hon. Baronet another reason? Under the new Licensing Act the magistrates have full control in the granting of new licences as to opening and closing on Sunday.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said he considered that a strong argument against the Bill. What was the use of bringing in the Bill if the magistrates had full power to do what they liked? He thanked his hon. friend for giving him that argument. It was so strong that nothing further need be said.
§ On the resumption,
§ *MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)
said that in Scotland they all knew what a blessing the Sunday Closing Act had been there, and they 1555 wished to give their brethren in South Britain, otherwise called England, a similar benefit. He would challenge the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, who represented North Ayrshire, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester, who, like himself, had represented South Ayrshire, to attempt to condemn the Act in Scotland. He hoped the House would give the Bill a Second Reading. Scotland would not be prepared to return to the state of affairs before the passing of the Act. It was stated that the state of teeth was due to the drinking of tea. He himself had a painful interview with his dentist yesterday, and he was assured that the trouble in connection with teeth was not caused by tea. His dentist asked him if Scotchmen, suffered from their teeth, and he was informed that it was the absence of lime in the water that to a certain extent accounted for their bad teeth. The tannin in the tea was good for teeth. He, himself, was not a total abstainer, although he was a promoter of temperance. They had been told during the debate that the public-house was the poor man's cellar, and if that were so the poor man ought to be allowed to keep it. The hon. Baronet the Member for Peckham stated that a labourer working at haymaking was more successful if he drank beer rather than water. Lord Roberts, on the other hand, stated that men who were total abstainers marched farther and better than men who were accustomed to take alcohol even not to excess. He was quite certain that neither the Member for North Ayrshire nor the right hon. Member for North-East Manchester would move the repeal of the Scottish Act. He accorded the right hon. Gentleman credit as being earnest in the cause of temperance reform.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Peck-ham spoke of disgraceful scenes which had occurred at Paisley, but that had no reference to the Bill before the House because the event did not occur on Sunday. The incident was very grossly exaggerated, as he personally knew. From his experience in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, Sunday closing was a success. The hon. Member also said if 1556 people were allowed to sell milk on Sunday they should be allowed to sell beer. It was evident the hon. Member was not acquainted with the Shorter Catechism and could not distinguish between works of "necessity and mercy" and other works. A servant in Scotland objected to any work on the Sunday other than that of milking the cows, because they could not milk themselves and the milk had to be sold when it was fresh, while beer improved with a little age. An hon. Gentleman opposite said that babies were better brought up on beer, but in his opinion that was ridiculous. He supported the Second Reading of the Bill, and in Committee Amendments might be made which would meet any reasonable objection. Having regard to the advantages which the Forbes-Mackenzie Act had conferred on Scotland, he hoped the English Bill would be given a Second Reading.
§ *MR. SHARPE (Kensington, N.)
said that as a temperance reformer he had no hesitation in supporting the rejection of the Bill. He looked upon prohibition as a dangerous thing which was apt to defeat its own object. Restriction and control were desirable, particularly in regard to the number of houses and the hours during which sale should be permitted, but no Government had the right to attempt to prevent grown-up persons, acting on their consciences, from providing themselves with what they desired. He therefore opposed the Bill without any regard to the arguments that had been used. He, himself, was for many years engaged in administrative work in Ceylon, and he had learned that temperance administration and legislation should be conducted on temperate lines. Compulsion and prohibition would not suffice. Certainly control was desirable, especially as regarded the number of hours of employment, but the attempt to prohibit men from providing themselves with what refreshment they desired should not be encouraged. It was extremely inopportune to propose the Bill at the present time. At a time when locomotion was increased by motor and cycle, refreshment was absolutely necessary for the persons concerned. The working classes had not 1557 declared in favour of legislation of this kind, and he believed that no Party in the House would be satisfied with any interference with the freedom of those classes.
§ SIR CARNE RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
thought the country was rather tired of grandmotherly legislation. If the promoters of the Bill were logical they ought to make the Bill apply to clubs as well as to public-houses; but they did not do that, because they knew perfectly well that no Members of the House would vote for them if they did. He did not believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite were actuated by any burning desire for temperance. He believed they only desired to hamper and impede a trade which was already hampered. Surely, if they were really reformers, they would have done something during the last twenty-five years in the cause of temperance. But they had done nothing except to introduce grocers' licences. He had no axe to grind. He was no brewer. He wished he were. He was a moderate drinker, or what the hon. Member for Camborne called a moderate drunkard. He never would be a party to putting this intolerable nuisance on his constituents. He would never try to make drunk people sober by keeping sober people thirsty.
§ SIR WILLIAM TOMLINSON (Preston)
said he doubted whether, if a true comparison could be drawn between Scotland under the Forbes Mackenzie Act and England with Sunday opening, the balance of sobriety would be in Scotland's favour. There was a good deal of room for improvement in both countries, but it did not follow that rash remedies should be adopted. Beer was more difficult to keep in good condition for drinking than spirits. He should be sorry if restrictions in the supply of beer led the English people to substitute a taste for ardent spirits for their taste for beer. Tea was doing far more injury to the health of the public than beer could do. Legislation must take into account the habits of the population. The time had not yet arrived for such drastic legislation as the Bill proposed. An Hon. Member informed him that the rector of a certain parish who had a controlling influence favoured 1558 a six day licence. It was adopted, but he was informed by his hon. friend that the rector discovered that a seven-day licence was more beneficial, and he acted accordingly in the interests of temperance and moderation. According to statistics it was difficult to ascertain if the Scottish Act conduced to sobriety. In any event there was a difference between England and Scotland. As regarded tea, the time had arrived when its excessive drinking should be considered. Many medical men were of opinion that excessive tea-drinking was more injurious than the drinking of beer. He considered that instruction in the schools in connection with the poisonous results of excessive tea-drinking should be given. No such drastic proposals as were contained in the Bill should be accepted by the House.
§ COLONEL LOCK WOOD (Essex, Epping)
said that those who had advocated, and consistently advocated, temperance for many years past had apparently not thought it worth while to come to the House to support this measure or to place their views upon it before the House.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present, House counted, and forty Members being found present,—
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
said he was glad to observe that some of those Members who did take an interest in the question of temperance had at last arrived to take some part in the debate. He admitted that a great deal had been done by intemperate enthusiasts who had all along consistently supported the principle of depriving a man of the opportunity to drink when he was thirsty, and the hon. Baronet the Member for Camborne had done a very great deal for the country in this way. The hon. Baronet opposite had for years past consistently advocated principles with which no one could agree, but what he had done had resulted in good to the people of England, who were not now so intemperate a people as they were. The question now was whether, in view of the improvement which had taken place in the drinking habits of the people, a Bill of this kind was at all necessary. Was it 1559 not a slur upon the working classes to say that they, and they alone, should be prevented from enjoying themselves in a moderate way on a Sunday while the wealthier classes could have all they wanted on a Sunday afternoon? He could never be a party to any such proceeding as this. It was quite true that the Bill exempted so-called bona fide travellers, but there were a good many travellers who were not bona fide. Where they to be exempted too? His own opinion was that education had done more, and was doing more, for the temperance of the country than any Bill of this kind could be expected to do. Such a Bill as the Government recently passed would exercise an enormous influence, for it would teach the people that enjoyment was not to be found in drinking beer and spirits or in doing anything of that sort, and they would find their pleasure in other ways. The hon. Member for Louth, who was as liberal a minded man as himself and others on both sides of the House who could see both sides of the question, was as fond of taking a modicum of refreshment in the House as anybody else, and no doubt would be glad to do so even on a Sunday if it was open, and he was sure that the hon. Member would be the last to deny to the humblest of his constituents the enjoyment which he took in moderation. Habits of temperance were growing in this country. The upper classes, who were the greatest sinners in this way in olden days, had become much more abstemious, and we were now one of the most sober nations in the world. He hoped after what had been said that the hon. Member for Louth would withdraw the Bill.
§ SIR ERNEST FLOWER (Bradford, W.)
said it appeared to him that the discussion was rather of an academic character, since it was obviously impossible for the Bill to make further progress that session. Besides, he did not think it would be generally acceptable to the class which would be chiefly affected. An aspect of the question which always seemed to him very important was that with regard to the enormous number of clubs which were frequented by the working classes, and which were such a growing feature of the social life of our 1560 cities. In Bradford, in January this year, something like 150 clubs had been registered, and in that city he believed there were more than 40,000 members of clubs. That represented a very considerable percentage of the working classes in Bradford. This Bill did not deal with clubs, and he supposed it was quite impossible that any Bill of the sort could deal with clubs, because they could not have one kind of legislation dealing with working men and another kind dealing with clubs like the Carlton and the Reform. As far as the prohibition of the opening of clubs on Sunday was concerned, that must be regarded as outside the sphere of practical legislation. The clubs that were associated both with the Unionist and Liberal Parties in his division in Bradford did not open on Sunday, but there Were a large number of clubs that did open on Sunday during hours when the public-houses were by law obliged to be closed. He had an experience of that himself in Bradford a winter or two ago. A publican in his constituency spoke to him about the trouble which he was getting into with the licensing authorities because it was alleged that people coming from places of worship on Sunday morning were annoyed by the spectacle of persons the worse for liquor coming out of his premises. The publican asked him to go with him one Sunday morning to see what was taking place. He went, and he saw a large number of men going into workmen's clubs at ten o'clock in the morning. These men remained there, he was told, until half-past twelve or one o'clock. That was a very deplorable evil, which the present Bill did not touch.
The Bill, he thought, inflicted the maximum of inconvenience upon the working people with the minimum of progress towards temperance reform. In the East End of London, too, Sunday clubs played a very remarkable part in social life. In one which he was invited to visit, the card-tables were going all the afternoon, and in the evening smoking concerts or theatrical performances were organised. It seemed to him that this Bill, if carried, would inflict a certain amount of hardship on the working classes, and that, though a curtailment of the hours during which public-houses might be open was 1561 desirable, it was rather on Saturday than on Sunday that that curtailment should take place. But this was not a Bill to curtail the hours, but to shut up public-houses altogether. When the Children's Bill was before the House they heard a good deal of the evil effects of children fetching beer from public-houses. He opposed that Bill and he should oppose this, because he thought this sort of sentimental legislation did not have, any good effect. This Bill, if passed, would only have the effect, in his opinion, of multiplying the sort of clubs which no one desired to see multiplied, and for that reason he should vote against it when the division took place.
§ *MR. GROVES (Salford, S.)
said that in the past Sunday Closing Bills had been introduced which were admitted to be a compromise, but the present measure was of a different character, and proposed total Sunday closing, and admitted of no compromise whatever. If by any stretch of imagination one could conceive that it was the desire of those who introduced the measure to strike at a social evil in an effective manner, and if they really had the interests of the working classes at heart, he would have expected them to go the "whole hog"—that was to say, to have brought in a Bill to prevent drinking at any time by anybody during the whole of Sunday, commencing with the Members of the House of Commons itself. It had been said that one of the main objects of closing public-houses on Sundays was to secure for the employees at least one day of rest out of the seven. If that were so, why was not the Bill extended to clubs? If they really desired to prevent people from working on Sunday, they must protect those who had the dispensing of liquor in clubs just as much as they did those engaged in public-houses. If they desired also to "protect" the British working man they must follow him into the places where he went when the public-house was closed all day on Sunday—into the club or the shebeen, or to some other place where he might, surreptitiously perhaps, obtain a drink on Sunday. It was clear that to be effective, legislation of this kind must not be partial, as the present measure was.
1562 The habits of the population were improving as the result of education and other things, but if they attempted to force through the House drastic legislation of this character the effect would be absolutely the opposite of what they were attempting to bring about. This was not a question to be settled by brewers or publicans. The manufacture of alcoholic liquor was in the hands of the wholesale trade, but Sunday closing affected the social habits of the people, and it was right that the people should have a voice in the settlement of the matter. Had any attempt been made to ascertain the opinion of the working classes? Almost invariably when an attempt was made in large centres of population to get the opinion of the electors on this question the bulk of the people, nine out of ten, entitled to vote did not trouble to express an opinion either one way or the other. Therefore the figures quoted from time to time were absolutely misleading and entirely without value as showing the feeling of the country. Figures of that kind, given from time to t me, were incomplete and absolutely unreliable as showing the real feeling of the country on the matter. If one could select a constituency in which the two great political Parties were about evenly divided, he would undertake to say that if he, or anyone opposed to Sunday closing—and he would prefer it should be somebody unconnected with the trade—could take a straight issue from the voters without any extraneous influences being brought to bear, he would secure a majority of at least five to one among the working classes against the principle of total Sunday closing, because it was one of the worst examples of class legislation that could be cited. White the cellar of the rich man was protected, while his club, too, was protected, this was a proposal to interfere with the personal liberty of the subject, and it would, as he could show by statistics if he had time, have very bad consequences, indeed.
He thought they had good cause for complaint that the Bill was only placed in the hands of hon. Members that morning.
§ *MR. GROVES
accepted the correction and apologised. Still, he thought the promoters ought to have issued it earlier than they had done. There had been some talk of compromise, but the issue before them was a plain one; it was whether public-houses should be closed during the whole of Sunday or not. It was surprising to see what a fatherly interest hon. Members opposite took in the bona fide traveller. If ever there was a bona fide humbug it was the bona fide traveller. Why should he always be taken under the wing of the Temperance party?
§ *MR. GROVES
asked who invented the bona fide traveller? It was hon. Members opposite, who also invented the bogus club, or rather it was their repressive legislation which did so. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley, who, he believed, was honestly endeavouring to carry out what he considered to be for the amelioration of mankind and to remove what he thought was a social evil from every standpoint, would surely agree with him that bogus clubs were a serious factor which had been absolutely created by repressive legislation, and which would continue to exist so long as they interfered with the reasonable social habits of the working classes. He supposed it would not be denied that the result of the operation of these repressive measures in Wales for many years had been anything but satisfactory, especially in that part of the Principality which adjoined England. The growth of bogus clubs, these subterfuges against the law, had increased enormously. The amount of Sunday drinking, also, had increased in Wales; whereas on the other s de of the border, where repressive legislation did not exist, and where reasonable hours for obtaining refreshments were legal on Sundays, they found that the number of arrests and convictions for drunkenness had decreased instead of increased. He gathered from the silence of hon. Members who were promoting the Bill that they admitted this was the result of repressive legislation. He did not propose to trouble the House with a lot of statistics, but he thought it could be 1564 clearly demonstrated by figures that in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, where Sunday closing prevailed Sunday drinking was on the increase, while England, where it did not prevail, was yearly becoming more and more a sober nation.
§ *MR. GROVES
Perhaps not the whole of Ireland. Then I withdraw Ireland for the purpose of this argument.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
Will the hon. Gentleman withdraw Wales and every part of England, except Manchester and Salford.
§ *MR. GROVES
replied that Manchester and Salford, according to his information, were parts of England. He had already stated that statistics proved that the drinking habits of the people on Sunday in England, including Manchester and Salford, were improving year by year. But drunkenness was increasing in Wales and in Scotland, because repressive legislation obtained in those countries. Had they forgotten the case of the Clyde steamboats?
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
May I say that there is no liquor whatever sold on the Clyde steamboats on Sunday.
§ *MR. GROVES
said liquor might not be sold on the boats. But still it was consumed there. However, as he appeared to be trenching on personal matters he would, to oblige his hon. and gallant friend, ''withdraw the steamboats." But he desired to stand by the main argument with which he started, and he would like to know the views of the hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs as to the effect of the repressive legislation in Wales. Could he deny that it had caused an increase of drinking? That 1565 was the whole basis of his opposition to the Bill. It was not a question which affected very seriously the publican or the brewer, for, after all, the brewer would, still have to brew the beer which was sold in the clubs, hundreds and thousands of which had been established purely to evade the operation of repressive legislation. He hoped they would give him credit for honestly believing that this certainly was not a step in the direction of temperance, but that it would rather lead to an increase in the facilities for evading the law
§ *MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire, W.R., Spen Valley)
thought it was characteristic of the debate that every speaker had claimed to be a temperance reformer. The difference between those who supported the measure and those who did not might well be described by saying that the latter took up the attitude: "Not now, and not thus." When legislation was proposed to be applied to the country as a whole, hon. Gentlemen who were opposed to this Bill were very anxious to insist on having local opinion respected; but when the promoters of temperance reform proposed some method of taking local opinion, they at once raised the objection that the minority in any locality ought not to be tyrannised over by the majority, and that, therefore, matters of this kind should not be left to local opinion but should be decided by the House itself, which ought to have the courage of its opinions. It was always "Not thus, and not now." There was great anxiety shown with regard to the bona fide traveller and to clubs, but when the Act of 1902 was under consideration in Committee, and a proposal was made to stiffen its requirements with regard to clubs, it was the representatives of the liquor trade who offered the most opposition. If the promoters of this Bill endeavoured to get rid of that bona fide humbug the bona fide traveller, would the liquor trade support them? One of the hon. Members had spoken about public opinion, and had said he would like to begin with Members of that House, and ask them were they prepared to be abstainers on Sundays? This Bill, however, said nothing about making anybody an abstainer on the Sunday. It 1566 did not touch individual habits or practices. It proposed to deal solely with the question of the public sale of drink on Sundays, and that was altogether independent of the private habits of the individual.
What were they to do in the face of what was admittedly a very great evil? They all knew that Saturday was the great drinking day of the nation. One-third of the cases of drunkenness occurred on Saturdays, and the drinking was continued over Sunday into Monday. Well, the promoters of the Bill wanted to do something to make a break. Before Lord Peel's Commission they had some very instructive figures as to the number of convictions for drunkenness in Liverpool. In the ten years ending 1895 there were 17,000 convictions on a Monday, 12,000 on a Tuesday, 10,000 on Wednesday, 9,000 on Thursday, 10,000 on Friday, and on Saturday, the great drinking day of the working classes, there were 35,000, with 6,000 more on the Sunday. These were instructive figures. But why was the total so small on Sundays? Was not the answer clear, viz., that there were less facilities for drinking on that day than on any other. Well, this Bill proposed to altogether abolish the facilities for public sale on Sundays, and they believed that the result would be to largely diminish drinking on Sundays
Precisely the same speeches as they had heard that day were delivered against the Sunday Closing Act for Scotland more than fifty years ago. That Bill had now been in operation for half a century, and in regard to that Bill and the Welsh and Irish Sunday Closing Bills he would like to ask, was there a single Scotch, Irish, or Welsh Member, belonging to any Party in that House, who would get up and move the repeal of the Act for either of those three countries. Although there had been many in that House representing Scotland who were interested up to the hilt in the liquor trade, not one of them dared to take that step, and, what was more, they could not get a single public body in either of the countries to pass a resolution praying for the repeal of these Acts. With such testimony to the success of that legislation he hoped that 1567 the hon. Member who was about to speak on behalf of the Government would give them his personal opinion with regard to the Act in Scotland, and he hoped, too, that as a Scotch Member he would not refuse to England the boon which his own country had enjoyed so long.
He would just quote one or two figures to show what had been the effect of the Act in Scotland. Let them take the case of Aberdeen. The average arrests on week days from 1890 to 1896 were 332 a year, but in the whole seven years there were only twelve arrests for drunkenness on Sundays, whereas the total would have been 385 had they been in the same proportion as on week days. Then, again, the consumption of spirits had been enormously reduced. He knew they were sometimes told that the consumption fell immediately after the passing of the Sunday Act in Scotland because the duty on spirits was raised. But, curiously enough, the duty on spirits was raised again in 1862 by 2s. per gallon, yet the consumption did not go down. It went up, in fact, so that when they had an increase in the duty apart from any additional closing, they did not get any reduction of consumption, whereas when they had it jointly with the Sunday Closing Act they did get a reduction. Were they not justified, then, in contending that the diminution of consumption was owing, not to the increase of duty, but rather to Sunday closing? This question of the effect of an increase of duty in reducing the sale of drink was an interesting one. When Budgets were discussed the trade said the taxes on drink were a burden on them. Hon. Members interested in the trade could not have it both ways; they could not claim that the increased duty caused the decreased consumption by raising the price, and at the same time contend that the trade paid the tax. If it did pay it, then the public did not, and the consumption could not be affected by it.
With reference to Ireland, two and a-half years before the Sunday Closing Act was passed the Sunday arrests for drunkenness numbered 11,800; in the two and a-half years after the Act came into operation the total was only 4,200.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER,
continuing, said this was a practical experience which had convinced the people of these countries of the value of such legislation, and which had closed the mouths of those of their representatives who would have liked to move for the repeal of the Acts, but had not dared do so.
Hon. Members who had spoken against the Bill that day had used what he might call the trade ''brief." They had told them that under the Acts there had been more drunkenness on Sundays in Wales, in Ireland, and in Scotland than in England. But even if that were true—and he did not admit it for one minute—it was nothing to the point. The real point was that there had been less drunkenness in all these countries since the Sunday Closing Act was passed than there was in those countries before it became law. The habits and conditions of the people varied in different places, but it was undoubted that there was more drunkenness before Sunday closing was enforced than there had been since. Wales and Cardiff had been specially referred to, but had there been a Member for Cardiff who would get up and propose to exempt that town from the operation of the Sunday Closing Act? Would the Cardiff Corporation pass a resolution with a like object? Of course they had trouble over the border, but that was only a reason for extending the Act to England. There always would be a thirsty lot who would go anywhere to get drink, and, instead of going over the border, if this Bill were passed, they would have to go further to the sea-coast, and then there would be no trouble at all. The hon. Member for St. Pancras had suggested that the Bill would lead to an increase of private drinking. That was the old story. He did not think he was doing an injustice to the trade if he ventured to suggest that their opposition to the Bill would not be so strong if they did not think it was going to diminish their trade. If they believed they would sell as much liquor in six days 1569 as they now did in seven, he was sure they would support it. But the consumption of liquor had fallen off in the countries where Sunday closing obtained, and what was another good result was that men returned more regularly to their work on Monday morning and there were fewer arrests for drunkenness. Where, then, was the evidence of more drinking in private?
Let them consider, too, the condition of the people engaged in the, trade. It was the deadliest trade a man could engage in. Every ten years the Registrar-General published a Report showing the rates of mortality in the principal trades of the country, and these Reports proved tint the death rate among those engaged in public-houses was higher than in any other occupation. There were deadly trades in which people engaged—in the Potteries, where deadly chemicals were issued; in Sheffield, where the saw-grinder breathed steel and stone dust—but no occupation was so deadly as that of the liquor retailer, and on that ground alone they might do something at any rate to brighten their lot, to give them one day's rest in seven, to give them a chance of breathing fresh air one day in the week. Not only were they tempted by their very calling to take too much alcohol, but the liquor shops themselves were most unhealthy places, badly ventilated and frequently crowded by the least satisfactory specimens of humanity, who scattered the germs of disease all about the place.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester had told them that drinking tea was worse than drinking beer. But did he think that teetotallers specially drank tea? He did not think they did, but one thing he did know, and that was that tea-drinking never caused a man to kick his wife, or assault the police, or neglect his children, or stay away from his work and become a charge on the community either as a criminal or as a pauper. If a working man wanted his beer on a Sunday he could answer for it that the business capacity and ingenuity of the liquor trade would ensure the adoption of means which would enable his requirements to be supplied. He 1570 would be able to have it as fresh for his dinner on Sunday as on any other day. They were always told that working men were opposed to the Bill, but the working men representatives in that House were all in favour of Sunday closing. No, the opposition to the Bill came from a very different class, and it was noteworthy that every one of the names on the whip sent out against the measure was that of a Member financially interested in the liquor trade right up to the hilt. At the very beginning of that debate a count was moved by the representative of one of the biggest brewing firms in the country, and later on another count was moved by one of the largest Irish whiskey blenders; and who had been prolonging the debate lest a division should be taken? Not the working men, but men interested in the liquor trade.
There had been some talk by those opposed to the Bill about Amendments. The mover and seconder of the Amendment had intimated their willingness to accept amendments of the law. And it was urged that they should have been in the Bill. But what Amendments?
§ MR. WHITTAKER
What curtailment? Was it to be a curtailment of hours or was it to be left to the discretion of the justices? Were the houses to be open only for "off" sale, to sell only dinner beer, or were they to be open to sell to those who entered the public-house simply to booze? It was not the bona fide traveller who need be considered: he would be able to get his alcohol, at all events. What were the Amendments they required?
§ *MR. WHITTAKER
said the hon. Member was only one of the opponents of the Bill. Was his view accepted by all his friends? This was essentially a matter for discussion in Committee. Let the Bill go to a Committee and let them 1571 see what the House wanted. The promoters were willing to accept such reasonable Amendments as the House wished. The proper plan was to send the Bill to a Committee and let Members put down their own Amendments and have them considered, discussed and decided upon. To vote against the Second heading would be to throw the question out entirely and render Amendments impossible. If a Sunday Closing Bill were passed for England there might be disturbances for a week or two. The liquor trade would see to that. They were at the bottom of the business at Cardiff, in order, if possible, to discredit the Act; but the police put the disturbance down and there was an end of it. The attempt would be made here and it would fail. The debate had not proceeded on the highest lines. They were face to face with a great evil, and they had had little petty matters of personal inconvenience put forward—and that from the Party that talked of patriotism and Empire, and the making of sacrifice to maintain it. Surely, if there were some little personal inconvenience, in the face of a gigantic evil and a national degradation like this it would be worth while to risk it in order to secure a more sober nation.
§ *THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPAETMENT (Mr. COCHRANE, Ayrshire, N.)
said he had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for the Spen Valley with very great interest, because no doubt the hon. Member and his friends hoped and trusted that by legislation of this nature they would be able to do some good to their fellow-men. He had suggested that if the Second Heading were agreed to, the Bill could be amended in Committee in the way some hon. Members desired. But was it open to a Committee so to amend the Bill? What was the title and scope of the Bill? It was a Bill to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday. Could it be amended so as merely to limit the number of hours of sale?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The Irish Sunday Closing Bill bore the same title, but an Amendment excepting from its operation five cities was carried in Committee.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
repeated that it was. They might except certain districts, but obviously an Amendment altering the Bill into one to limit the hours of sale might be ruled out of order by the Chairman of the Committee.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
still maintained that he was perfectly right, especially as the proposer had refrained from giving any undertaking. It was extremely inconvenient that the Bill was not in the hands of Members yesterday. Surely a criminal had a right to know by what rope he was to be hanged. The hon. Member for Salford had found the difficulty arising from that. He had been obliged to withdraw his statement about the Clyde steamboats.
§ *MR. GROVES
I simply withdrew the statement that liquor was sold on the steamboats. It is consumed on them in enormous quantities.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
said that everybody who had been on a Clyde steamboat was aware of the mysterious bottles produced by passengers. The limited number of Members who had spoken in favour of the Bill was some measure of the little zeal felt for it. He did not think they believed in their hearts that a measure such as this was ever likely to be passed into law. It was a very familiar Bill. They had had it before them for thirty or forty years and it had never made any real progress, and so long as it embodied such extreme provisions it was not likely to. Its object was to entirely prohibit the Sunday sale of intoxicating liquors; and to except whom? the privileged classes of lodgers, in hotels, and bonâ fide travellers. Why should a lodger in an hotel be more entitled to get a glass of beer on Sunday than a lodger in some other house? Or 1573 a man might lodge in a temperance hotel, but would he be less thirsty than if he lodged in another hotel? Why should a man living at home with his wife and family be debarred from getting his glass of beer when a man living at a hotel was allowed to do so? A working man had told him that morning that he was very fond on Sunday afternoon of taking a walk in the parks and listening to the lectures there—some of them temperance lectures—and, after that, he said he would be very glad indeed to get a glass of beer. No doubt the intentions of the promoters of the Bill were excellent. They desired to promote temperance and the observance of the Sabbath. But good intentions were not sufficient. They all knew the place which was said to be paved with good intentions. When a Bill restrictive of public liberty was brought forward it must be shown that there was a reasonable prospect of its being a success and that it would do some good. This the proposer of the Bill had failed to do. The hon. Member for the Spen Valley no doubt set an admirable example which, if followed more generally, would render such Bills as this unnecessary.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said the hon. Member had the courage of his convictions, and instead of going to his brother in the street and telling him he was a poor working man, unfit to govern himself, and that therefore he should not be allowed to get a glass of beer if he wanted it, he expressed his disapproval of liquor itself and denied himself the pleasure of taking it. Other hon. Members did not go that length. They were prepared to place obstacles in the way of the man who had been toiling all the week, knowing that they themselves had their own cellars or their clubs, and could get their liquor on Sunday if they wished it. Nobody denied that acts of violence, crime, and insanity were caused by excessive drinking. But insanity was not always caused by beer-drinking.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
stated that quite recently one of the greatest experts on insanity had said to him, "I am coming to the conclusion that drinking is not so much the cause of insanity as that insanity is the cause of drinking." [AN HON. MEMBER—Excessive drinking!] Were teetotallers never insane? Some of them thought a proposition that they were never insane could not be sustained. He hoped excessive drinkers were in a great minority, and that they were a diminishing number.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
That was too many, and he would take every reasonable step he could to reduce the number. The Government had, in fact, done so. The measure passed last session would, he hoped, go far in that direction. It had been recognised by the Royal Commissioners that most people in this country still regarded a certain amount of alcohol as an ordinary article of diet, yet this Bill would prevent any alcohol at all, whether taken in moderation or excess, being sold on Sunday. He could not see on what ground. It was not a wrong thing to drink a glass of beer any more than it was to drink a bottle of ginger-beer; and if it was a wrong thing to drink a glass of beer on Sunday, it was wrong to drink it at all.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
said he would deal with Scotland later. The logical conclusion of the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill was total prohibition, but he did not come to that conclusion in his Bill, because he knew the country would not stand it for one moment. With regard to Scotland, Sunday closing had there been in force for fifty years, and personally he preferred the evils they has 1575 to flying to those lie knew not of. He knew the state of Scotland.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
replied that there was a time for all things. The difference between England and Scotland was a difference of national character. In Scotland they preferred their alcohol in whisky, which he himself thought more wholesome than beer. Whisky could be kept from Saturday till Monday, but stale beer, he was informed, was an abomination. There was too much drunkenness in Scotland, and he feared that by Sunday closing they had to a certain extent done in Scotland what they might do here—driven out legitimate drinking in the public-house and encouraged illegitimate drinking in the shebeen, and to the creation of fictitious bona fide travellers. That it was no idle fear had been substantiated by the result of the Welsh Sunday closing, which had been but a modified success. The Chief Constable of Monmouthshire had stated that there was a great deal of drunkenness on the border, and that if Sunday closing was extended to that county drunkenness would increase and the whole county become as objectionable as the Welsh border was.
§ SIR ALFRED THOMAS (Glamorganshire, E.)
said that was not the opinion of the County Council of Monmouthshire, because they had passed a vote in favour of the inclusion of Monmouthshire.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
said the evidence to which he had referred was perhaps somewhat out of date, but he had mentioned it as an instance in support of the point he was making—namely, that by prohibiting legitimate means of refreshment they often drove people to avail themselves of illegitimate means. He then quoted evidence of a number of witnesses to the effect that at Cardiff there had been an improvement in the main streets since
§ the Act had come into force, but a contrary tendency in the back streets, and an increase of drunkenness in private houses.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
said he had not had time to refresh his memory with their recommendations. His point was that, at any rate in the early part of the period which followed the passage of the Act, a danger was shown of driving drinking into the back streets and private houses. If hon. Members who were making efforts to secure greater temperance had their way they would run the risk of creating greater evils. The Royal Commission on Licensing did not recommend entire closing. The majority thought that would be a step too far in advance of the public opinion of the day. He thought the Commission had reported too recently for a great change of opinion to have since taken place. If the House were to go the length of preventing any man getting a glass of beer on Sunday, they would open the way to the possibility of a great reaction which would probably throw back the cause of temperance. The view of the Government was that hon. Members should vote on this Bill exactly; as their opinions might guide them. Personally he regarded the danger of reaction as very real. The Bill could not be modified in the direction which the proposer had suggested, because it seemed to him that would be out of order. ["No, no!"] If hon. Members voted for the Bill they would be voting for a Bill which would deprive the citizens of this country of a very large measure of their liberty and freedom. He would have no hesitation in voting against the Second Reading.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:-Ayes, 108; Noes, 114. (Division List No. 182.)1579
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barlow, John Emmott||Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Boland, John||Burns, John|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Bright, Allan Heywood||Burt, Thomas|
|Caldwell, James||Horniman, Frederick John||Roche, John|
|Cameron, Robert||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Jacoby, James Alfred||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Cawley, Frederick||Johnson, John||Russell, T. W.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Joyce, Michael||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W.||Slack, John Bamford|
|Cremer, William Randal||Kilbride, Denis||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Crombie, John William||Lamont, Norman||Smith, H. C(North'mb, Tyneside|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Delany, William||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Sullivan, Donal|
|Denny, Colonel||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Leng, Sir John||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Dunn, Sir William||Levy, Maurice||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Edwards, Frank||Lewis, John Herbert||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Lloyd-George, David||Wallace, Robert|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lough, Thomas||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lundon, W.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lyell, Charles Henry||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gilhooly, James||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Grant, Corrie||Moss, Samuel||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Norton, Capt, Cecil William||Wilson, J. W.(Worcestersh, N.)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Woodhouse, Sir J. T.(Huddersf'd|
|Hain, Edward||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Parrott, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Hammond, John||Paulton, James Mellor||Perks and Mr. Cameron|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr'Tydvil)||Rea, Russell||Corbett.|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Flower, Sir Ernest||Morgan, David J (Walthamstow|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Forster, Henry William||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Garfit, William||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Austin, Sir John||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Greene, Sir EW (B'ryS Edm'nds||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Gretton, John||O'Brien, Kendal(Tipperary Mid|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Bond, Edward||Groves, James Grimble||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex||Gunter, Sir Robert||O'Dowd, John|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King'sLynn||Harrington, Timothy||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N|
|Brassey, Albert||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.)||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Percy, Earl|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hope, J F(Sheffield, Brightside||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Hunt, Rowland||Pym, C. Guy|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Rankin, Sir James|
|Coddington, Sir William||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Crean, Eugene||Kimber, Sir Henry||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Knowles, Sir Lees||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Robinson, Brooke|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C.||Lawson, John Grant(Yorks N. R||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Long, Col. Charles W(Evesham||Samuel, Sir Harry S(Limehouse|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Macdona, John Cumming||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E(Wigt'n||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. W.||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Mooney, John J.|
|Valentia, Viscount||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H (Yorks.)||James Fergusson and Mr.|
|Walker, Col. William Hall||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R.(Bath)||Moon.|
|Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Young, Samuel|
Words added. Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.