The Bishop of Bath and Wells
presented Petitions from Yeovil, and Wells and Stockport, praying for the repeal or alteration of the Beer Bill. In case it should not be thought proper to repeal the Bill, the right reverend Prelate suggested that the beer houses should be placed under certain regulations. He suggested that it should not be allowed to consume beer on the premises in the new beer houses, and that they should be placed under the superintendence of the Magistrates and Police. He supposed that there would be no serious objection to preventing the beer being consumed on the premises, as the noble and learned Lord had not proposed originally that the consumption on the premises should be allowed.
The Lord Chancellor
would repeat what he had before stated, which was, that he had not originally proposed in his Bill to allow the consumption of the beer on the premises; but that he had given up his own opinion to that of the Committee, which had taken evidence on the point. He did not agree with the right reverend Prelate, that there would be no objection to put an end to the consumption of beer on the premises; on the contrary, he thought that this would be the principal point of difference. The Bill, however, as it at present stood, had not had a fair trial, and this being the case, it certainly was not fitting that it should be repealed or altered 261 in its principle for the present. But he had the satisfaction to inform their Lordships, that the noble Secretary of State for the Home Department had prepared a Bill on the subject to add some regulations, which, it was to be hoped, would remove all reasonable objections.
cordially agreed with the noble Baron on the Woolsack, that permission to drink beer on the premises of the seller, was the very best part of the Bill, and if that clause was repealed, all the benefit and advantages of the measure to the labouring classes would be lost. There were, doubtless, imperfections in the Bill, and some evils arose from its operation; but the great advantage was, the certainty of the abolition of the injurious imposts on malt and hops, which it would effect at no distant day. He should decidedly oppose the repeal of the clause allowing beer to be drunk on the premises.
§ Lord Bexley
was of opinion, that the Bill had been of the greatest advantage to the public, for the public had had the whole benefit of the reduction of the duty, which was not the case with respect to the repeal of the duty on leather. The amount of tax taken off was about 3,000,000l.; but owing to the reduction in the price of beer, the saving to the public was at least 5,000,000l. per annum. With respect to the consuming the beer on the premises, it had been the practice in Rome, previous to the time of Pius the 7th to consume the wines sold in the wine houses on the premises: but that Pope put an end to the practice, on account of some irregularities with which he conceived it to be attended; and by that act he made himself exceedingly unpopular. His successor altered the plan, and allowed the wine to be consumed on the premises; but in order to prevent any bad consequences from this indulgence, he added, by way of regulation, that, there should be no seats on the premises; and consequently the possessors of these wine shops were obliged to remove all their seats, so that the guests who chose to drink their wine there, were forced to drink it, standing. The result was, that the Pope was almost as unpopular on this account, as his predecessor Pope Pius had been.
§ The Petition laid on the Table.