HL Deb 05 July 1855 vol 139 cc445-6

put the questions, of which he had given notice:— 1st. Whether the Maine Law has passed the Legislatures of Canada and New Brunswick? A somewhat similar prohibition of the sale of alcoholic spirits was advocated by the foremost statesmen of this House in 1743, led by the Earl of Chesterfield, who said, "Luxury, my Lords, is to be taxed, but vice prohibited, let the difficulty of the law be what it will. Would you put a tax on a breach of the Ten Commandments? Would not such a tax be wicked and scandalous?" 2nd. Whether the enforcement of the Maine Law in Canada and New Brunswick was approved or disapproved by the Government of the parent State? 3rd. Whether both those Acts had received Her Majesty's Sign Manual? 4th. Whether the Maine Law can be put in force in Canada and New Brunswick without The Queen's Sign Manual? The noble Earl said he wished to remind their Lordships that at least two-thirds of the crimes committed in this country were attributed to habits of intoxication, and the Judges of the land regarded such habits as the most fruitful source of crime. Indeed, one learned Judge, in charging a grand jury, said to them, "If it were not for these drinking propensities you and I would have nothing to do." His conviction was, that ultimately the feeling of the people of England would be favourable to such a law as had been passed in the State of Maine.


said, that in reply to the question of the noble Earl, whether the Maine Liquor Law or any similar law had passed the Legislative Council of Canada, he begged to inform him that a Bill to that effect had been introduced into that assembly, but had been rejected on some technical ground. With regard to New Brunswick, he had to state, that a law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors had been passed in that colony in the year 1852, and had received the assent of the Crown. In the year 1854 a law amending that previous Act, and prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors by night, had been adopted, and bad also received the Royal Assent. He understood, however, that a Bill in opposition to that latter law had been passed this Session, but it had not yet reached this country; and he could not give the noble Earl any information with respect to its provisions. In answer to the question of the noble Earl, whether such a Bill would receive the Royal Assent, he had to state that that would depend on the fact whether or not a clause had been inserted in it reserving the action of the measure until it should have received the assent of the Crown.