HL Deb 28 July 1854 vol 135 cc890-2

Bill read 3ª (according to order).


explained the Amendments of which he had given notice. The first Amendment would enable public-houses to be open on Sunday from one o'clock to half-past 2 P.M., thus giving an extension of half an hour beyond the time fixed originally in the Bill. The next Amendment would allow them to open again at 5 o'clock P.M., and remain open till 10 P.M. in the winter and till 11 P.M. in the summer, but requiring that no liquor should be served after 10 P.M. The object of the latter alteration was to meet the case of those persons who sought recreation in the neighbourhood of London on Sunday, and required refreshment. Whilst locomotion on Sunday was allowed, it must of necessity be accompanied by some provision which would secure to persons travelling the means of obtaining refreshment. Refreshment was an incident to locomotion, and he did not see how the two were to be separated. He hoped that with these Amendments the closing of these places of public entertainment would be secured in the summer at 11 o'clock P.M. at the latest, and at 10 P.M. in the winter, which he thought would be a material improvement, and one that would considerably promote public order and decency on the Lord's Day.


said, he considered that while 300,000 persons went out every Sunday upon pleasure excursions, it would be difficult to interfere with the means of providing them with refreshments. Their object should be to combine as far as possible consideration for the necessary requirements of these people with regard for public order. There was, however, this difficulty in dealing with this matter—that while in the large towns from which the excursionists proceeded in the morning, and to which they returned probably late at night, the hour of 10 or 11 o'clock P.M. might not be too late to allow refreshments to be supplied to them, it might be altogether too late in the country.


moved his first Amendment, that 5 o'clock P.M. be substituted for 6 P.M. as the hour at which public-houses might open in the afternoon.


said, that he would make no objection to the first Amendment of his noble Friend, for allowing public-houses to be open from one to half-past two on Sundays; but to the second Amendment he could not agree. The Bill as it originally stood proposed to limit the sale of beer on Sunday evenings to the hours between six and nine o'clock, but to meet all reasonable demands the time had been extended to ten o'clock, and with that provision the Bill received the sanction of the other House, and came up to their Lordships. Now, however, his noble Friend proposed to extend the hours to from five to eleven o'clock, instead of from six to ten—making a difference of three hours as compared with the first Bill, and allowing these places to be open for six consecutive hours. Thus the positive gain to the better observance of the Lord's Day, after all the exertions that had been made, and the strong and general feeling that had been expressed on the subject, would, if this latter alteration were adopted, only amount to two hours and a half, namely, the closing of public-houses from half-past 2 to 5 o'clock P.M. The demand of the country was not merely for a modified restriction, but for the closing of these places during the whole of Sunday, the immense body of the evidence taken before the Select Committee of the other House from witnesses belonging to all classes most emphatically supporting that more stringent regulation. Therefore, the mere closing of public-houses for two hours and a half more than was the case at present would be a very inadequate and most unsatisfactory adjustment of this matter. When the people were most anxious to see this great social reform introduced for the benefit of themselves and families, he thought their Lordships should render every assistance to the carrying out of an improvement so ardently desired; and nothing could give him more pain than to see Amendments proposed in their Lordships' House which would defeat the Bill that had been sent up from the House of Commons; because it might be said that their Lordships had not so much sympathy for the improvement of the social condition of the people or so much consideration for their wishes, or so much knowledge of what concerned their welfare, as the Committee of the other House, who had taken evidence on this subject, and sent up this Bill. He would therefore certainly take the sense of the House against the second of his noble Friend's Amendments, and endeavour to have the Bill adopted as it came up from the House of Commons.


would support the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) in his opposition to the second of these Amendments. The alterations now proposed would go very nearly to destroy the whole value of the measure. He had been the humble instrument in inducing their Lordships to agree to the existing law, which closed public-houses in London till one o'clock on Sundays, and the most beneficial effects had resulted from that regulation. Subsequently when a Police Bill for Liverpool was proposed, their Lordships consented, at his suggestion, to insert a clause closing public-houses in Liverpool also till one o'clock on the Lord's Day; and influential individuals in that town, who had remonstrated against the provision when it was first proposed, had since frankly confessed to him that their opinion had since then been entirely changed by actual experience of its salutary and beneficial operation. The four hours from six to ten o'clock at night was surely a long enough time for any one to spend in drinking at a public-house on the Lord's Day, and to restrict them to that time would be doing no injury to the working classes, but a real benefit to them, and especially a benefit to their wives and families. He had no wish to prevent the people from enjoying proper recreation, and he admitted that they could not compel them to be religious by law; but Parliament had in its power to remove from them strong temptations to violate the precepts of morality and religion. Protracted habits of intemperance tended not only to the ruin of their own souls, but to the impoverishment of their wives and families; and he therefore hoped their Lordships would not consent to relax the fair and moderate restrictions contained in this Bill, in the shape in which it came up from another place.


said, that it would be a great hardship to artisans and others who were obliged to live all the week in crowded neighbourhoods, and who wished to pass the Sunday, or part of it at least, in the country—at Windsor, Hampton Court, or some similar place—to be debarred from obtaining the comfort and refreshment which were needful for them. The real question contained in this Bill turned on the want of a proper definition of the word "traveller;" and though he had no objection to see public-houses closed in the large towns, yet he believed that great discomfort and hardship would he occasioned to excursionists and others for the want of a proper understanding as to who were and who were not to be considered "travellers."

On Question that the words fixing the hours from 1 P.M. to 2 P.M. be omitted for the purpose of inserting words extending the period to 2½ P.M.; Amendment agreed to.

On Question that the words fixing the hours from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M. stand part of the clause.

Their Lordships divided:—Content 24; Not Content 15: Majority 9. Amendment negatived; Amendments made.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.

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