§ As amended by the Standing Committee.
§ MR. CULLINAN (Tipperary, S.)
said he understood an arrangement had been made between the promoters and the opponents of the Bill, which would save the House a prolonged contest on this occasion.
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
said he was in charge of this Bill and he knew of no arrangement having been made beyond 585 the compromise made in the Committee upstairs. With the compromise he had nothing to do. He was prepared to accept it, but said that under the circumstances, as he had not been consulted in any way, he should reserve to himself the right to oppose the Bill at its further stages. For any other arrangement he took no responsibility whatever. So far as he was personally concerned the arrangement or compromise originally made had been accepted reluctantly by some in order to get the contents of the Bill as now amended and he trusted the Bill as amended would now be passed without any other compromise being entered into.
In page 1, line 6, to leave out from the word 'until,' to the end of the clause, and insert the words 'the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred and ten and no longer unless Parliament shall otherwise determine, and on the said day all the provisions of any Act now in force regulating the hours of opening or keeping open of any premises for the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday, and shall come into operation and take effect as if this Act had not been passed.' "—(Mr. Cullinan,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said the hon. Member for Belfast had correctly explained what had occurred. The compromise was unanimously accepted by the Standing Committee. It was quite true that the hon. Gentleman did not approve of it, and that a great many of his temperance friends did the same thing, but there it was. Within the last hour he (Mr. Russell) had had some conversation with certain of his friends and with some of the opponents of the Bill, who were prepared to let it go through if the limit for bona fide travellers was made five miles outside the five exempted cities instead of six. Having regard to the period of the session and with the prospects of a stormy night before him— because he remembered twenty-eight 586 years ago when the House sat up all through the night to pass the original Bill, and when Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright specially sat up to assist in carrying it—he consulted the right hon. Member for South Dublin, the right hon. Member for Trinity College, the hon. Members for East Clare, the hon. Member for West Meath and others. The hon. Member for South Belfast was not in his place, or he would also have consulted him. Looking at the period of the session and believing as he did that there was not very much difference between making the limit five, and making it six miles, so far as the five exempted cities were concerned, he had consented to that arrangement. He was willing to accept the compromise. While he was perfectly willing to accept the arrangement come to, he could bind nobody but himself. It rested with his hon. friends opposite to say what they thought about the matter.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said he wished to appeal to the hon. Gentleman who introduced this Bill, the hon. Member for South Belfast, to fall in with the suggestion which had been made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone. After all, this was a great opportunity for dealing with a question which had been very warmly discussed for the last twenty or thirty years. He thought this was an opportunity that ought not to be thrown away. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone had said, the Bill as it now came before the House was a compromise. They knew perfectly well it was impossible by a compromise to please everybody. There would be extremists on both sides, who would declare themselves quite unsatisfied. The hon. Member for South Tyrone and others had been attacked for accepting this compromise by the extreme temperance party in Ireland, and those interested in the licensed trade in Ireland had been assailed for having consented to the compromise. They could not possibly please everybody, and the only thing they could hope to do was to satisfy the great bulk of people upon both sides. It was quite true to say that this Bill represented a compromise which had the support of the great 587 bulk on both sides in this question in Ireland. The only thing which had occurred that night was that a further extension of the compromise had been proposed by those who still opposed the Bill. That further extension demanded the reduction of the limit for the bona fide traveller around the large cities in Ireland from six miles to five miles. As the hon. Member for South Tyrone had said there were a great many districts in the country where the bona fide traveller question was not a strong one. When it was proposed in Grand Committee to reduce the original limit from seven miles to six miles it was objected to from both sides. There were those who got up and said that six miles was too small a limit to fix, and others got up and said that six; miles was too great a limit. So that it was impossible to do more than arrive at a figure which commanded general support all round. The figure six was in the Bill, and it was now proposed by those Gentlemen who still opposed the Measure, and whose opposition was entitled— although it represented a minority—to the greatest possible respect and attention —that the compromise should be further extended by making the figure five instead of six. The Member for South Belfast had said he did not like the compromise at all. In Belfast the extreme temperance reformers bitterly attacked the compromise, and the only large public meeting held in reference to the Bill was held by the extreme temperance Party, who protested against the compromise, In view of these circumstances he thought he might appeal with great confidence to the House not to allow that opportunity to pass of doing something which was really desired by the vast bulk of the Irish people. There were extremists on both sides, those who thought the Bill went too far and those who thought that it did not go far enough; but taking the general mass of public opinion in Ireland, represented in this House and outside of it, and judging it by every test they could apply, the vast bulk of the Irish people did ask for this Bill. He would earnestly appeal to the hon. Member for South Belfast, in view of the time of the session and the extreme difficulty of dealing with matters of this kind, to further extend the compromise so as to allow the Bill to leave the House 588 and go to the people of Ireland with the unanimous assent and approval of the different Parties concerned. He admitted that the good effect of the Bill would be spoiled if it left the House after heated discussions and after some recriminations had been indulged in. This was a genuine and honest attempt to deal with what had been regarded as a need in Ireland. An opportunity was given of having an unanimous decision, and he appealed earnestly to the hon. Member for South Belfast to accept the compromise, to recognise that it was the general sense of the House and to make the best of it. The hon. Member for South Belfast and himself did not agree on many other questions, but on this question they did agree, and he again asked his hon. friend to join with him in promoting in Ireland a genuine measure of reform.
§ MR. SLOAN
said the hon. Member who had just sat down had made a very strong appeal to the House, and especially to himself as being technically in charge of the Bill, to agree to this compromise. The hon. Member for South Tyrone, when this Bill was in Committee, had regarded with the utmost contempt any suggestion of making the limit five miles instead of six. The Committee agreed to the limit of six miles, although one or two Members protested against it. They had been fighting for this Bill for thirty years. Two Royal Commissions had approved of the Bill, which had passed the House of Commons on two or three occasions and had also passed the House of Lords. It was desired to get Sunday closing in the five exempted cities under the Act of 1878, to get nine o'clock closing on Saturday night in those cities, and to have the bona fide traveller limit extended from three miles to six miles. If the hon. Member for South Tyrone was correct in what he stated that the bona fide traveller did not matter very much in the country districts, why was it that the hon. Member for East Clare was anxious to have the country towns exempted from any extension under the Bill? The present limit was three miles, and his hon. friend wanted it to remain that. The Grand Committee agreed to the compromise arranged between the licensed trade 589 and the Member for South Tyrone, and in that form the Bill had come down to the House. Three hours ago there was not in this House a stronger opponent of any further compromise to the bona fide traveller than the hon. Member who had just sat down.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said the hon. Gentleman was perfectly right in saying that he was prepared to stand by the arrangement made in Grand Committee, and he was prepared to do so still if necessary, but he recognised that it was an important thing for the future of the Bill and its good work-that it should leave the House if possible with the unanimous assent of all parties. He thought he was promoting a good spirit and doing a good work in making this further concession. He asked his hon. friends not to send the Bill to Ireland from this House after it had caused heat and discussion.
§ MR. SLOAN
said he was not guilty of recriminations, but at the same time he wished to point out that they who were in favour of the whole Bill had sacrificed a considerable part of it. Although they did not care for the Bill as amended they accepted it in the spirit in which it had been given. They were not prepared to make further concessions at two hours notice, and if these concessions were made they would break down the original compromise. He asked those hon. Members who were prepared to do their best to support him to give him what was reasonable and fair. He asked the House to consider, in view of this further compromise, the great concessions they had already made, and having made these concessions they should certainly get the Bill without any further compromise or any further concessions. He was sorry he could not give way to the strong 590 appeal by the hon. Member for East Clare, but on the ground of principle he could not do it.
§ MR. J. P. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)
said that as one of those who led the opposition to the Bill when it was first before the House he was willing to withdraw his opposition in view of the compromise arrived at. As to the suggestion that there was to be-no finality in this question of temperance-legislation, he thought the time had arrived when a proper trial should be given to the compromise arrived at here before any other legislation of the character suggested by the hon. Member for South Belfast was attempted. He was therefore prepared to accept the compromise referred to by his hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone-and on his part to withdraw further opposition to the Bill.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.J)
said he would only interpose for a moment or two. It was quite true, as the hon. Member for South Tyrone had said, that that hon. Gentleman was good enough to approach him in regard to a compromise. Since then he had heard from time to-time what had been the negotiations in progress. He could quite sympathise with his hon. friend the Member for South Belfast in the view he took, namely, that after many years of hard labour, with a very clear perception in their minds of what they wanted, the hon. Gentleman and his friends had got, as they believed, within reach of their goal; and now they saw that under the compromise, if they accepted it, they must consent to take-something less. He therefore quite sympathised with him in the view he took, that he was unable at present to agree to the suggestion before the House. Might he point out to him that there was no question upon which legislation proceeded so entirely by compromise as this question of temperance legislation? Going back in memory twenty-five years to the legislative proposals made in this House in regard to temperance legislation affecting England, he ventured to say that the advocates of temperance would have been wise if they had accepted the 591 compromise that might then have been made instead of rejecting it because it did not go the length they desired. What was the position at the present moment? If his hon. friend, in the desire to get all that he wanted, refused to accept this compromise, and invited the House to a prolonged contest which night be wasted, he would abandon and render fruitless all the work which had been done up to the present time, and for what? After all, the concession was not a very great one. He believed it was quite true to say that the bona fide traveller question was only really important in the towns. The difference of one mile was not a very serious difference, and he would appeal to his hon. friend to consider whether, in the interests of the cause of which he was an advocate, and on behalf of which he had laboured so hard, it would not be better to take only half a loaf—even if he regarded it so—than to reject it, and to leave the question where it was; which possibly meant a postponement for two or three years, or even more, before they got any satisfactory settlement.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said his hon. friend remarked that he had already taken the half loaf, but he had not, because if the concession was not agreed upon now the half loaf would have to be thrown aside. But if he made that concession he would pass this Bill, which still went very far, and would be a great deal better than nothing. It was to take upon himself a great responsibility if he rejected this proposal, which had been made in the interests of peace, and in the interests of temperance. It was better to compromise, and to make that large advance in the cause in which many of them were interested, and which certainly in Ireland occupied a position, quite different from that which it occupied in. England. There was much more general agreement there, and there was, he believed, a general consensus of opinion that they ought to proceed on the lines now proposed.
§ MR. CULLINAN,
on behalf of those who had very strongly opposed 592 the Bill, desired to say that they had given way to a great extent and they had been anxious, if possible, to meet their opponents half way in an arrangement of this kind, with the object that had been explained by the hon. Member for East Clare, namely, that this question might be se tied in a manner to make for peace. Under these circumstances he begged leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
moved, "Clause 1, page 1, line 8, at end to add 'notwithstanding anything in any public or local Act."' He said he proposed this Amendment really to give effect to the intentions of the promoters. That intention, as expressed in the Bill, was that this first clause should extend to the whole of the metropolitan police district, and the clause actually said so. It said that this Act of 1878 should extend to the whole of the metropolitan police district. The intention there was perfectly clear, but unfortunately the words chosen did not carry out that intention. The reason was that a local Act, passed for Dublin in the year 1900, contained a section which excluded a small area then added to the City of Dublin from the law regulating the rest of the City of Dublin. What he proposed to do was simply to repeal by implication the section to which he had referred, and thus to put the whole of the metropolitan police district upon the same footing. If that Amendment was not carried a very great anomaly would be created. They would have two different laws regulating two different parts of the City of Dublin—two different laws within the same municipality. He hoped that, after this explanation, his Amendment might be deemed a fair and reasonable proposition.
In page 1, line 8, at end, be add not-withstanding anything in any public or local Act.
§ Amendment agreed to.593
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
moved—In page 2, line 2, at end, to add the words, ' nothing in this Act shall in any way interfere with the rights of any licensed person who is the owner or lessee of a theatre, music hall, or other place of public amusement; and all such persons shall have the same rights and privileges as they now have under the existing licensing law, as if this Act had not been passed.'
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. COGAN (Wicklow, E.)
moved to Insert—In page 2, line 10, after ' person,' ' residing or lodging in the metropolitan police district of Dublin, and the cities of Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Belfast.'
In page 2, line 12, to leave out ' six ' and insert 'five.' "—(Mr. Cogan.)
§ *MR. BARRIE (Londonderry, N.)
said he hoped this Amendment would not be persisted in. Knowing the strong feeling there was in Ireland in favour of Sunday closing—a feeling not confined to the north of Ireland—he had ventured to put down an Amendment reinstating the clause relating to Sunday closing. In view, however, of the approaches made to him by hon. Members below the Gangway, and being anxious that the passing of this Bill into law should not be Jeopardised in any way, he consented to withdraw the Amendment which stood in his name on the understanding that they would have the help of their friends below the Gangway in adhering to the compromise which was unanimously arrived at upstairs. He ventured very respectfully to submit to the House that that compromise should be loyally adhered to. It was a unanimous compromise. Those in Ireland who were anxious for Sunday closing felt that the country was ripe for it, but they 594 decided to waive their objections, and withdraw their Amendments, believing that the Members below the Gangway would loyally adhere to the arrangement made upstairs. He therefore submitted, as a matter of fair play, that these Amendments should not be persisted in, and that the Bill as approved and amended upstairs should be accepted by the House in the same spirit as prevailed in Grand Committee. He would only say further that he and his friends believed the real gain of this Bill, as originally framed, was total Sunday closing. All the other gains, which they were now getting were very small, comparatively speaking, but they accepted the arrangement made in view of the compromise, and in the spirit of that compromise, and for these reasons he did very sincerely hope that the Amendment would not be persisted in.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he was delighted to find that the hon. Member was so strongly in favour of the Bill in the form in which it had been left by the Standing Committee. There were great differences of opinion in Ireland upon the subject of the five or six miles. He did not like it. He would have liked the original Bill. But none who had spent twenty years in this House could fail to learn one lesson, namely, that he could not get everything that he liked. It was one of the finest places for smashing or destroying ideals to be found in the whole world. He had given way that night and consented to substitute five miles for six in order not to jeopardise the Bill. He had done it because he thought a man who would travel five miles for a drink on Sunday would travel six, and that the difference would not be much, after all. He was told it would cover frequented places round Belfast, it would cover nearly the whole of those round Dublin, and it would cover the other exempted cities. At all events, under the arrangement they would get something, and they had previously got nothing for the past twenty-eight years. When they consented to this compromise, it was also agreed that there should be a round table conference during the autumn, at which every outstanding question of temperance 595 legislation should be discussed between the temperance party and the trade, and that if possible an arrangement should be come to that would permit an agreed [Bill next session. That was a very great matter to anyone interested in temperance reform, and he thought, upon the whole, the reformers would be able to meet their friends in Ireland. Probably they would agree with him before they were much older that the best thing had been done under the whole circumstances of the case.
§ MR. SLOAN
said his opinion was that, if the hon. Gentleman, and those who supported the Bill, had stuck to their guns, those whose support they sought in this House would have been prepared to sit the Bill out, and to see it right through. And therefore it was wrong to say that that compromise was made for the purpose of getting the Bill. He could not understand why his hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone had agreed to the compromise of taking a mile of the limit around the large towns, and leaving the country districts alone. He would like some explanation from his hon. friend why the country districts were to be left alone.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he had stated that the real difficulty of the bona fide traveller question centered round the largely populated cities. Everybody who knew Ireland was well aware that that was the case. The bona fide traveller was a nuisance wherever he went, but the 596 nuisance was a comparatively small one in country districts.
§ MR. SLOAN
said his information was altogether different from that. He did not know what the feeling of the House was now after the speeches which had just been delivered. Whether it would be necessary on some other occasion in the future to agitate for the whole Bill he did not know. He hoped the Conference which it was proposed to hold in the autumn would be more considerate to temperance reformers' views than the present compromise.
§ MR. FETHERSTONHAUGH (Fermanagh, N.)
said the limit fixed by the compromise was going very low. He would much rather have the Bill as it came from the Grand Committee, and he was against any further tampering which would tend to weaken the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.