moved that the Sale of Beer Act part Repeal Bill be read a third time. He admitted that the opposition to the measure was conducted in a spirit of great fairness, and he thought it would save their Lordships' time to take the discussion on the amendments which the noble Marquess (Salisbury) intended to move, rather than on the question of the third reading.
said, that unless their Lordships were prepared to say, that the present Beer Bill was absolute perfection, as had once been said of our constitution, he hoped they would hear the proposed amendments. He would therefore now move the third reading, and would reserve any remarks he had to make until he heard the objections against the measure.
§ Lord Wrottesley
had wished to have made a few observations on the second reading of the bill, but was prevented by its being sent to a Select Committee. That was a bill of very great importance, it being neither more nor less than whether beer may be sold on the premises in any but licensed houses. The licensed victuallers viewed such a power with considerable jealousy, and laid many informations against the beer houses, but that power was granted after along and patient inquiry, before a Committee of the House of Commons, who recommended it by a considerable majority. The noble and learned Lord charged much of the crime of the country upon the beer-houses, but so far as his experience went, and he spoke of his own neighbourhood, the keepers of 310 beer-shops were more respectable than the licensed victuallers. If their Lordships agreed to that Bill, they would create a great increase in the pernicious custom of gin-drinking. If their Lordships really meant to prevent abuses, they ought to take the means of appointing a proper police force. It would be far better that they should encrease the metropolitan police force, than appoint a rural police. Detachments of the metropolitan police might be sent by railroads, within a very short time, to the disturbed districts, and then brought back to town again, when their absence was no longer called for. The staff of the militia was also at this moment absolutely useless. It was merely a burthen on the country. It might be made very efficient, and by dividing it into battalions, it might be of great use to the police. But while the country was left in the state in which it was, and especially the metropolis—very little improved, indeed, he believed, since the days of Alfred, when any old man might be a constable, and he believed that a woman had been one—what could they expect but abuses? It was admitted, that under this bill there were 45,000 beershops in the country, and it was not the fact, that many of them had only a chair and a table in their houses. A great many of the persons occupying them, had built the houses in which they sold beer; many of them had leases of the premises, and most of them had embarked a great deal of money in their concerns. Most of them had been faithful servants, who had saved a little money, and this was the only way they had of employing their little capital, with a prospect of being able to support themselves and their families. When they embarked their property in their concerns, they had a right to expect that the Legislature would protect them in what they had invested. It was to be remembered, also, that the time and labour of those persons constituted their property; and, upon the whole, he hoped their Lordships would pause before they adopted this bill, the adoption of which would be an act of the grossest injustice.
The Marquess of Salisbury
would not follow the noble Lord in his observations about a rural police, or the militia staff. In saying that that staff was not effective, the noble Lord had forgotten to say how it had become so. The noble Lord, now at the head of the Government, had, six 311 or seven years ago, when Secretary for the Home Department, promised to introduce some measure for the purpose of making that staff a police force, but had not followed up that promise by any act on the subject. He did not regret it, for as an old colonel of militia, he should not like to be at the beck of the Home Secretary, as an inspector of police. With respect to the bill before the House, he had stated his opinion on the introduction of the former Beer Bill, that it would be difficult to prevent its abuse in distant parishes, and though he did not object to an amendment of the present law in several respects, he should object to any measure which would have the effect of depriving the poor man of a wholesome beverage, instead of that pernicious liquor which was almost forced down his throat in many of the licensed houses. He would not put down the present houses, but his amendments would go thus far:—First.he would move a clause to the effect, that no new licence for the sale of beer should henceforward be granted, except by the magistrates. Next, that certificates should be granted to parties paying a rental of 10l. instead of 6l., as heretofore. The third amendment would be, that the sureties required by the Acts 11th George 4th., and the 1st William 4th., should be resident in the same parish with the party for whom they became sureties. By this plan, the occupiers of houses of bad character would be unable to obtain any sureties whatever, while respectable houses would still get them. He should be sorry to see the law brought back to what it was before the Beer Bill was established, when the sale of beer was entirely confined to the licensed victuallers. He wished to enable the poor man to obtain his beer, and discourage the drinking of spirits. His fourth amendment was, that "from and after this time, justices should be empowered to grant licences for the sale of beer and cider only." Under the existing act, the moment a magistrate's licence was granted the party was entitled to a spirit licence from the excise. There was also another amendment which he should be very happy to move, "that the price of the licence should be raised," which would put an end to all those beer-shops, the occupiers of which had no capital whatever. A man who had to pay for an 8l. or 10l. licence must expect to sell a considerable quantity of beer to meet that expense. He 312 submitted these amendments to their Lordships, and should be very happy indeed if their Lordships would adopt them; they should then succeed in getting some measure; on the contrary, if they passed or rejected this bill, he was confident the present law would continue to another Session.
Lord Brougham had wished that his noble Friend
(the Marquess of Salisbury) should propose his alterations on the third reading; and, if those alterations were adopted, then reject the bill on the motion "that this bill do pass." His plan was to persevere in hearing everything that was said on the subject, and if he were convinced that the bill ought to be rejected, he should vote against it; but if he were convinced that the bill ought to pass, he should vote for it.
The Marquess of Westminster
said, his noble and learned Friend certainly did not agree to the amendments of the noble Marquess. The noble and learned Lord must be aware that it was impossible the amendments could be brought under discussion now, and it was impossible to postpone this question for ten days or a fortnight. It was evident the noble and learned Lord was determined to persevere in his bill. He (the Marquess of Westminster) was thoroughly convinced that this measure would be a most pernicious, harsh, cruel, and unjust one, to a class of people most deserving. He should, therefore, propose to their Lordships not to pass it. He thought it far better that a question of this sort should be left to the House of Commons. By the mistake of having introduced certain financial clauses into the bill in that House, it was impossible that it should pass as it was. He thought the beer-houses were the last class of houses of the sort that ought to have been meddled with. The houses that did the most mischief were those who kept what were termed "gin palaces." The next class of houses in producing mischief was the public-houses; and the least mischievous class of these houses was the beer-houses. It had been stated, that the beer-houses did more mischief in the country than in towns. He had a good many of these sort of houses about him in the country, but he never heard of any mischief arising from them. It had been stated that the brewers were hostile to the Beer Act; that they had suffered by it. He was sorry that the brewers 313 were hostile to this measure, because he did not think it did them great credit. Since the Beer Bill had passed into a law, the consumption of malt had been considerably increased, and he was of opinion that the brewers had not been injured by the bill. The quantity of malt consumed had been increased in England one-third, in Scotland one-fourth, and in Ireland one-half more than before the bill. With regard to the number of presentments of grand juries which had been made throughout the country against this bill, of which much had been said, what would their Lordships suppose their number to be?—100?—50? What would their Lordships imagine were the returns for three years throughout the whole country? It did so happen, that these returns showed that the presentments throughout all England for three years amounted only to twelve. Another return of the cases which had been decided in petty sessions, in a population of 14,000 people, showed an average of four and one-third cases in a year, and the last three years the number had been decreasing. The beer-sellers were anxious to disprove the assertions of his noble and learned Friend, and to prove the truth of what he stated. He knew that there was great reluctance to hear evidence on such a subject; that their Lordships would not be much disposed to hear such evidence at the Bar, but it was the best and most just plan. He had had letters from all parts of the kingdom, complaining extremely of the way in which the question had been treated by his noble and learned Friend. The noble and learned Lord's comments had certainly been very strong; but the persons who had written were, generally speaking, more offended at him for undervaluing their property, than for the very severe comments he had made on their morality. He had certainly, on a former evening, given his opinion in favour of some further restrictions being added to the Beer Bill; but he had since altered his opinion. He was perfectly satisfied, that the law, as it stood, laid sufficient restrictions on the beer-sellers. He thought it would be a very hard thing if the bill should pass into a law, and he should take every opportunity of giving it his opposition.
§ Lord Dacre
thought it was of great importance, in as far as the House was bound by their former legislation to con 314 sider the various interests which were involved in this measure. He would state to the House why he differed from the whole of the bills which had been brought forward. The noble Marquess said, that the present Beer Act was a perfect measure. On that point, he could not agree with the noble Marquess, because it had been his misfortune to see a boundless increase of drunkenness, debauchery, and immorality of every description springing from beer-houses. But though he differed from the noble Marquess in thinking the Act not perfect, yet he scarcely differed less widely from those who advocated the total and absolute repeal of that enactment, and he differed from them upon considering the vast amount of capital which was engaged not only in the retail beer trade, but also in the manufacture of beer. One of the great objects anticipated from the operation of the present law was to raise a competition in the manufacture. The system which that measure was introduced to correct, placed both sellers and buyers too much under the brewers. It was found that the adulteration began with the victuallers, and thus the consumer was obliged to take an inferior, and often pernicious, article, for the same price that he ought to have paid for the genuine one. The remedy for this was the existing beer law. The source of many of its evils arose from the facility with which persons could obtain licences. Now, if the number of beer-houses were proportioned and limited to the demand, the evils hence arising would be corrected, and he thought that some measure should be adopted for ascertaining the demand, and apportioning the number of beerhouses throughout the country accordingly. It struck him, that the magistrates were not the proper persons to make this estimate of what number of these houses would be sufficient for any given district. It ought to be done by the consumers themselves. He should, therefore, be inclined to propose, that no more than a certain number of beer-houses should be established among a certain amount of population; for instance, one beer-house to every 500 persons, or, what was the same thing, for every hundred heads of families. Certificates might be called for from the rate-payers for the purpose of insuring the character and good conduct of the keepers of the houses. In that case, they would have no instances of 315 persons going to keep beer-houses at the remote corners of lonely heaths, when they must look for their livelihood to the custom of considerable numbers of persons. He thought the amendments of the noble Marquess objectionable, inasmuch as they did not meet the evil. The alteration of system which he had indicated would, on the contrary, meet the evil, at the same time that it would not interfere with the due supply of the wants of the poor, for wants he maintained they were, and they ought to be considered and provided for. But, said some persons, let the beer-houses be governed by the same regulations as those of the licensed victuallers: this, however, would be most unjust: for the objects of the victualling-house and the beer-house were totally different; the one was intended for the accommodation of travellers, and therefore must be kept open to a late hour; the other was for the reception of the labouring classes—tippling-houses they would have been called in old English; and though there was no need for keeping them open to such late hours, yet he would say, that the poor ought to nave a place where they might get a wholesome beverage and enjoy the warmth of a good fire after a cold day's work in winter. For these reasons, he felt inclined to vote against all the amendments.
said, that it was his impression, that the House of Commons for some time past, and certainly not less so since the Reform Act, had shown a disinclination to receive very favourably bills which were sent down to them from their Lordships' House. The House of Commons appeared not to like their Lordships to take the initiative in any measure. Hence he thought it was not improbable that this bill might be rejected there. Whether or not the bill were an interference with the privileges of the Commons he would not take upon him to say; he was told that, strictly speaking, it was not, but it might, and very likely would, be so represented to the House of Commons, and therefore the bill might be at once rejected. Any amendments and improvements which any of their Lordships might feel inclined to make, ought to be made as speedily as was convenient as their Lordships might not have another opportunity. With regard to the measure itself, he confessed he thought, that his noble and learned Friend opposite 316 (Lord Brougham) was somewhat too hasty, he was going too rapidly to work in putting an end at once to the present Beer Act. But then on the other hand he could not agree with all the amendments which had been suggested. It would be better it was said, to have a more efficient system of police. He did not think, that any such measure could be efficient. There might be riotous conduct exhibited in some of these houses occasionally, but to this he did not feel disposed to attach a very great degree of importance. It was not the riots in beer-houses, but the resort thither, that was ruinous to the morals of the peasantry. Every comfort which attended them there was bought at the expense of the comforts of their wives and families. If the labourer went to the beer-shop daily he must spend there more than the price of his firing, and more than half the amount of his rent. It was the resort, therefore, that was ruinous. No police measure would prevent it. But he begged to submit to their Lordships whether they would read this bill a third time and pass it together with the amendments of the noble Marquess (Salisbury), for those amendments in fact were an entirely new bill. The noble Marquess's bill was a bill of regulation; his noble and learned Friend's bill was a bill of enactment. Under these circumstances, if their Lordships were not disposed to adopt the bill and the amendments at once, he believed, the proper course would be to recommit the bill, which would give time and opportunity for consideration. Before he concluded, he must beg to observe that he thought it remarkable that the noble Viscount opposite had not stated what were the intentions of Government on this subject. The noble Viscount had indeed said, that he could hardly believe his noble and learned Friend was serious in bringing in a measure for the alteration of the beer law, but that was said of the former measure, not of this. He would say, that this question was one of immense importance to the morals and happiness of the people; and the Government were bound to form an opinion upon it, and to express that opinion when called upon.
§ Viscount Melbourne
agreed with almost every word of what had fallen from the noble Baron on this occasion. He felt very much the great, the paramount importance of this question; he felt that he could not look to the great body of evidence 317 which had been drawn together in relation to it—he could not consider the generally expressed opinion of the people, represented, as it was, by the voice of such respectable bodies, who had had the best means of obtaining information, and who possessed abundant experience on the subject, without his being compelled to admit the evils of the present measure—to admit, indeed, the failure of the present measure. He was compelled to admit, that there were great evils attaching to the present law; but he could not believe that its enactment and operation had changed the whole morals of the country—made a quite different scene of the whole land, and altered, as it were, the whole nature of man. As to those who used such language, enthusiasm carried them away. At any rate, it was impossible for him to think that so great a difference existed between the operation of the small victualing houses upon the morals of the people, and that of the beer-houses; he could not think that the step between being licensed by the Excise, and being licensed by the magistrates, could be so different. Licensing houses for the sale of spirits was, he believed, a matter of antient regulation, but their Lordships ought to remember, that after all they could do, after a long experience of the working of the system, there were still evils arising out of it. After all they could do, there ever would be scenes of disorder in such places. This arose from the nature of the case, Crimes ever would be planned and brought to maturity in those places; but this was, because they were places of meeting, not because liquor was sold there. Where were thieves to meet? They must meet somewhere to concert their plans; and the most convenient places were houses of this description; there they went, ostensibly for other purposes, where their real intentions could not be questioned. Do what their Lordships would, legislate as they would, these things in these places would always subsist; no changes which might be made could alter the nature of the thing; but, in his opinion, it would be a nugatory act on their Lordships' part, if they passed the bill of his noble and learned Friend. Indeed, his noble and learned Friend had proposed it, apparently, without much confidence in its success, and in a faltering manner. [Lord Brougham—" No, no!] Yes; his noble and learned Friend certainly spoke without 318 confidence of the ultimate success of the bill; his noble and learned Friend said, "We will send this bill down to the other House; but if they find anything to add which will make it more effectual, we will be very glad to receive it at their hands, but as it is, I don't place much reliance upon the measure." This bill, he was disposed lo think, dealt in too rough and hasty a manner with property. Their Lordships might remember, that they had dealt very roughly with property, when they passed the original Beer Bill; because, by adopting the system of beer-houses, they had greatly deteriorated the value of the public-houses of the licensed victuallers, on which great sums had been laid out; they had deteriorated property of this kind to a very considerable extent. Noble Lords who were conversant with the country knew this well. They had lately conferred a great boon on the trade, by taking off the beer duty, and now they were asked to interfere with the property which had been invested under the arrangements then made, without giving any equivalent advantage to the trade. The number of the beer-sellers was about 45,000, that of the licensed victuallers, 55,000; the amount of revenue received for the licences of the beer-sellers was 133,000l. in 1837; the amount arising from those of the licensed victuallers for the same year was 91,000l. The quantity of malt for which duty was paid, had incredibly increased under the present system; but that result, he admitted, was chiefly to be ascribed to the reduction of the duty, and the growth of the population and consumption of the country. The number of vituallers occupying houses rated under 12l. appeared by the return to be 18,378, that of beer-sellers was 15,515, which, he apprehended, considering the relative numbers of the different classes, placed them much upon a par. The number of beer-sellers, brewing their own beer in 1837 was 16,800. As to the penalties for the adulteration of beer, there had been fewer convictions among the beer-sellers, he understood, than the licensed victuallers. On the whole, it appeared to him that it would be very unwise and imprudent to pass this bill, which he thought a rash and hasty measure. There was a great deal also in what had been said by the noble Lord opposite, with respect to the impolicy of originating this bill in their Lordships' House, He did not wish to say much on 319 this subject, but he apprehended there could be no possible doubt that this was a bill which, if sent down to the House of Commons, that House would not pass, and he appealed to their Lordships to pronounce whether, under these circumstances, it would be wise and prudent to send it there. There was another reason why he thought they should not send it to the other House. From all that he could learn, and he had spoken with persons who had made careful enquiry, there was not one man in the House of Commons in favour of it. From all he could understand, there was no beer-reformer in that House, who was for going all the lengths of this bill, and therefore no very sanguine hopes of its success there could be entertained. This was altogether a subject of the greatest importance, which well deserved the care and attention of Parliament, upon which they should well consider what steps should be taken, and whether they ought not to establish one uniform system of legislation. The real point of the question, which had been touched upon by several noble Lords, was this—whatever rules you establish, unless there be the means of enforcing them, they will, to a certainty, be totally useless. The noble and learned Lord had well shown, in his speech on the second reading of the bill, that it was vain to complain of laws or magistrates, if there did not exist sufficient means to put the laws into execution. Their Lordships might depend on it, that the real cure for the evils of disorder and irregularity in the administration of such laws as the beer law was, to arm the magistracy with greater power for enforcing the due observance of those laws. They might depend upon it, that until this was done, not all the laws they could pass in that House would be of any service. It was not necessary to have so large a machinery for that purpose as was generally thought to be required; the measure would not involve such great expense. It had been well observed, that very little alteration had taken place in the constabulary since the time of Alfred. It was true, that that force had become inadequate to the necessities of the present times. A very few men in the country, who were really to be relied on—firm, and resolved to do their duty—could do a great deal in carrying the law into effect. It did not require so great an expense, or so large an establishment, as was supposed 320 necessary to put the constabulary force upon an efficient footing. Very strange prejudices were afloat upon this subject; it was supposed to be connected with the liberty and constitution of the country. He never could understand what connexion there could be between liberty and licentiousness, between liberty and impunity for crime. He had always understood, that liberty was best secured by a regular and firm administration of the law, and in his conscience, he thought that was one of the great objects to which the attention of Parliament, and the country, should be directed. But it did not appear to him that it would be wise, or prudent even for the objects their Lordships had in view, to pass this bill.
said, he had never heard a speech from any person that betokened so entire and dark an ignorance of every part of the subject to which it related, as that which had just been delivered by his noble Friend near him. His noble Friend had told their Lordships, that there could be no possible difference between the behaviour of a man licensed by the magistrates, and that of a man licensed by the Excise. Why, there must be all the difference in the world. A mere name seemed to have the power of taking in his learned Friend—he begged pardon, his noble Friend—God knew he could not call hint learned, at least on this subject. Well, then, his noble and ignorant Friend. The magistrate gave the licence during good behaviour, and if the good behaviour, ceased, the licence ceased also. The only condition of retaining the Excise licence, on the contrary, was the payment of 3l. This had the effect of making the public-houses well-conducted, and the beerhouses ill-conducted. He was sorry to see from the aspect of the House, that the present critical hour had had the effect of sadly thinning their Lordships' numbers. Their Lordships liked the Beer Bill little, but they liked remaining in the House after half-past seven o'clock less. Their Lordships liked to see a good state of morality in the country—the tranquil order of society they dearly loved—it was the very apple of their eye; but there was another affection operating upon certain delicate organs in the constitution of noble Lords, still more intimately than those connected with the peace, order, and purity of society, and reminding them of what had been called the most important event of 321 existence—that of dinner. "I am glad to find," said the noble and learned Lord, turning to the episcopal bench, "that my observation is not confined to the lay Lords, it extends equally to those who are the appointed guardians of public morals and virtue. How often have I heard the beer-houses denounced by the right rev. occupants of that bench. There is hardly a bishop whom I have not heard imploring your Lordships from this very place—for God's sake to apply a remedy to that which makes all our preaching and teaching vain, to reform those nests of drunkenness, to remove these moral plagues. And now that I come forward at their instigation, that I lend myself as their coadjutor, that I put myself as an humble instrument in the hands of the guardians of morality and religion, but two out of six-and-twenty right rev. Prelates will sacrifice their dinner, their regard to their belly, which is their God—"
The Marquess of Salisbury
. I rise to order. I move that the noble and learned Lord's words be taken down.
. That they may be taken down correctly, I think I had better repeat them. I was saying that the bench of bishops—
. I rise to order. The moment the words are objected to, no time should be lost in taking them down.
. I am just repeating them—that the clerk may be at no loss—The bench of bishops, more than all the lay peers of the realm, have expressed their strong sense of the evil effects of beer-houses to the moral effects of the people under their care; and it is chiefly at their instigation, that I have brought forward a measure as their coadjutor, and an humble instrument in their hands, for the purpose of putting down what they abominate as prejudicial to the morals of the people—
. Allow me to finish the sentence; I am getting on:—" But I find that the whole twenty-six Prelates—"
. I rise again to order. A noble Friend of mine has called the noble and learned Lord to order, and he must state the reasons why he did call him to order.
. The words must first 322 be taken down. [Considerable confusion ensued, two or three noble Lords speaking at once.]
, after some time said, the opportunity of taking down the words had now passed. The rules of the House required, that the words should be taken down instanter.
—Well, well, my Lords, to oblige my noble Friend, I will say this, that the bench of bishops, at whose instigation I brought this subject forward, have—out of their earnest regard for the morals of the community—have sacrificed all personal considerations—and have attended—during this discussion—by two of theirbody—I can't go further. And I, having the greatest veneration for the bishops—a respect for them—in which I don't yield to my noble Friend opposite—I felt peculiar pain in not seeing more than two out of the twenty-six present on this occasion. But my noble Friend is content with two only—I, on the contrary, would fain see the whole twenty-six here, for if they were here, they would all vote for the bill. My Lords, I have heard nothing to induce me to depart from my present course. It has been said it would be better, that the measure should originate with the House of Commons. I quite agree to that; and hence it was, that on a former occasion I postponed the bill, that the other House might have time to consider such a measure. I waited for months—the other House originated no measure on the subject—were we to remain with our hands tied, and do nothing? If the House of Commons neglected their duty, are we to neglect ours? It has been said again, that the other House is not favourable to this measure. My Lords, I do not believe such to be the case. I know the country gentlemen are against the present system—as well as the lawyers and judges—and how the majority of a House pretending, purporting, to represent the Commons of England, should do otherwise than speak the sense of the country, I am at a loss to imagine. I do not believe the House of Commons would reject this measure. But it is for your Lordships' consideration, whether you ought not to discharge your own duty. I have no objection to an intermediate kind of beerhouse—between the publican's house and 323 the present beer-houses; and have framed a clause allowing the magistrates to license houses for the sale of beer, though not for the sale of spirits, thus uniting the comfort of the poor with magisterial control. Capital is said to be invested in the beer trade. Will not that be attended to by the magistracy? To hear noble Lords talk, one would suppose the bill would prevent the magistracy from licensing, whereas, under this bill, the magistrates may, if they please, license every one of the 45,000 beer-houses to morrow. The bill is not to put down the beer-houses, but to put them under the inspection of the magistrates. My noble Friend says, they might as well be put under the control of the bottomless pit—at least my noble Friend looks that, though he did not say it—my noble Friend has not so much respect for the magistrates as I have. My Lords, I am determined to do my own duty on the present occasion. I have brought this subject forward, prompted by a regard for the people, and a desire to see their morals and habits improved—I have moved the third reading of the bill; I now wash my hands of it. If it be thrown out by the non-attendance of those who pushed me forward to introduce it, I may regret having taken the trouble to introduce it, but I shall not be sorry for having done my duty; the evil will no longer lie at my door; I have felt the necessity of bringing the subject forward. It has been said, that only twelve presentments have been made against the present system. But let it be recollected, that these are from twelve different counties; no inconsiderable number; and let it also be remarked, that grand juries seldom present against a legislative enactment. My Lords, I now leave this bill in your Lordships' hands. It is opposed by the Government. I hope they have at least made it an "open question." Perhaps, as it only regards the morals of the people, they have not. I shall certainly not bring ridicule upon my proposal, by making it what is called an "annual motion." I entertain, however, the most sanguine hope, that the bill will not be rejected by your Lordships—of this I am quite sure, that if I fail now, I shall never hereafter succeed. I said, that the bench of bishops, at whose instigation I have brought forward this measure, and in whose hands I have been an humble tool, out of their great regard 324 for the morals of the people, had sacrificed all personal considerations, and had attended by two of their body upon the present occasion; and having the greatest veneration for the bench of bishops, I felt peculiar pain that no more of them were here. That was all he had meant. His noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury), with that generous ardour which distinguished the Saxons, had hastened to interrupt him. His noble Friend, perhaps, thought two quite enough of the bishops, and did not care so much about them, but he would fain have had the whole of the twenty-six here. He should certainly, said the noble and learned Lord in conclusion, now take the sense of the House, and if it were read a third time, he would do all in his power to remove the objections of detail thrown out against the bill by one or two noble Lords, by the addition of clauses embodying their suggestions.
§ The Duke of Wellington
observed, that on the second reading of this Bill he had stated, that he had voted three or four times for other Bills, of which the object had been to amend the present system of beer laws; but the friends of that system had always had power in the House of Commons to defeat all measures for that object. Their Lordships were, therefore, at last brought to this stage, in which they were under the necessity of having recourse to a bill which repealed all the existing system of beer laws. When the noble and learned Lord opened this bill to their Lordships, he stated what was perfectly true, that there was considerable capital invested in this trade in different parts of the country; and, he further said, that his object was to propose a measure which would give security to that capital. Indeed, the original principle of the measure, which allowed the sale of beer on the premises, but did not allow it to be drunk there, would have given security to that capital; but the bill which was sent to a select committee had come out of it without the clauses introduced for that purpose by the noble Lord, and, therefore, without any security for capital. He should be glad to see this measure coupled with some such sort of proposition as had been made by his noble Friend below him. He thought that that object might be accomplished either by recommitting the bill with a view to amending it, or else by taking certain. 325 clauses of it into consideration after the third reading was passed. He was of opinion that if the latter course were adopted, their Lordships would be more likely to come to an agreement on his noble Friend's amendments, and to render the bill more like that which was originally introduced by the noble and learned Lord opposite. He confessed that there was one proposition of his noble Friend which appeared to him well worthy of consideration, and that was to enable the magistrates to license these beer houses. The noble Viscount, however, could not see the difference between a beer house licensed by the Excise and a beer house licensed by the magistrates. Now, there was a very material difference between them. The licence of the Excise went on for ever; but the licence of the magistrates must be renewed periodically, and would not be renewed unless the man who kept the beer house conducted himself as the magistrates thought that he ought to do. He concluded by asserting, that in passing this bill, with the amendments proposed by his noble Friend, they would be more likely to meet the wishes of the other House of Parliament, and so to achieve that good which all of them had in view.
The Bishop of Chichester
rose to repel the most uncharitable and unchristian attack that had been made on the Bench of Bishops.
rose to order. If the right rev. Prelate wished for peace, he was not taking the best means to procure it.
The Marquess of Salisbury
was sure that the noble and learned Lord would withdraw the expression which had given such offence to the right rev. Prelate.
had given, as he thought, a satisfactory explanation of what he had already stated. If, however, the right rev. Prelate was anxious to enter into debate, he was quite ready to repeat his expressions.
The Bishop of Chichester
—I am the last person in the world to place myself in this position with your Lordships, but, if—
rose to order. It was with great regret that he interrupted any of their Lordships who sat on the Bench of Bishops; but he was sure that if the right 326 rev. Prelate would only turn his mind to the practical results which must arise from his present course of observation, he would see that they could not tend to the preservation of order: for it was a rule never, he believed, departed from in that House, that when a noble Lord retracted an expression, he should be considered as not having made use of it. It was, therefore, not competent for the right rev. Prelate to pursue the strain of reflections on which he appeared to be entering.
The Bishop of Chichester
said, that as far as he himself was concerned, he had only meant to say that the right rev. Prelates, whose absence that night had been impugned, had been employed, one and all, for five or six hours that day in committee upon the Church-building Bill, and also upon the Church-discipline Bill. He knew that not one of them had dined at seven o'clock, and he believed that they had all of them been employed that day from nine o'clock in the morning on public business.
did not wish any person to stand in the way of the castigation which the right rev. Prelate seemed anxious to bestow on him. This, however, he must say—if the right rev. Prelates had been employed in committees all day, so too had the laity, and he himself had no more dined at eight o'clock that day than their Lordships had dined at seven. No expression that he had used was so disorderly as that which had come from the right rev. Bench. He had only quoted an expression from Milton.
§ Lord Portman
said, that his only object in rising at that moment was to request their Lordships to decide that night on this bill one way or the other; and the best way in which they could decide on it was to give their votes in its favour. If their Lordships should recommit this bill, they would have new propositions made to them night after night, to which some three of their Lordships might agree, but which could never meet with anything like general concurrence.
§ The House divided—Content 36; Not-content 19:—Majority 17.327
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Winchester (Bishop of)||Clarendon|
|Chester (Bishop of)||Cornwallis|
§ On the question being again put,
§ The Earl of Chichester
addressing the House, said, he should be sorry to see all kinds of beer shops abolished. He also thought it would be inexpedient to supply their place by an increased number of public houses where spirits would be sold. The evils now complained of would, he believed, be best corrected by retaining a certain number of beer shops, and placing them under stricter regulations, under the direction of local magistrates. With the view of making provision to that effect, he begged to move that the bill be recommitted.
apprehended there would be some objection in point of form to recommit a bill which had been read a third time.
The Marquess of Salisbury
contended that the question of the third reading had not yet been put, and, therefore, it was quite competent to his noble Friend to move the recommittal of the bill.
§ To be recommitted.
§ House adjourned.