HL Deb 13 August 1860 vol 160 cc1169-76

moved to Resolve, That, inasmuch, as the Money to be paid under the said Bill is a Grant of Supply, and the other Enactments of the Bill are only for providing certain Regulations which are necessary in connexion with the granting of the said Licences, the said Bill may be read a Second Time as a Bill of Supply.

Resolution agreed to.

Then the Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill should be read a second time that day three months. The Bill, he said, was very imperfect, and would require a great deal of consideration. A Wine Licences Bill in 1660 had been opposed in the House of Lords, and more time had been given for its consideration. He earnestly implored their Lordships not to extend this Bill to Ireland, as the Bill for Scotland had been withdrawn, and petitions against it had been presented from Wales. He referred to an Irish Act, which gave the magistrates power to refuse licences on the grounds of distance from other houses, and read two clauses of that Act—one as to the powers of magistrates, and the other as to appointing inspectors of all houses licensed for the sale of liquor; and he hoped the Government would introduce a general measure for England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and insert ("this Day Three Months").


said: My Lords, I pray you to bear with mc for a few moments, for this is a question, as I view it, so unpopular, except among the working classes, so unfashionable, too, that no one of note would undertake the discussion of it in this House. My Lords, I have ever been a friend of free trade, but I object to the police portions of this I Bill, more especially to the increase of the public-houses, for it is a known statistical fact that the greater the number of public-houses the greater the drunkenness and the greater the number of crimes. My Lords, Mr. Gladstone has passed this Bill through the House of Commons as a measure calculated to promote sobriety—that is to say, a Bill that is intended to flood the country with wine to promote peace with France, that increases the publichouses thousands, that does not diminish the consumption of spirits, and still less of beer; such a Bill is intended to sobriety England and Ireland ! My Lords, like Mr. Gladstone, and in his words, I have in past days occasionally "indulged in no illiberal potations of wine;" he for his health, I for my pleasure; but I never yet discovered that those "no illiberal potations" had a soberizing quality. Lest I should misrepresent Mr, Gladstone I will now quote his words:— I am not going to propose this to the House of Commons as a measure essential to lowering the wine-duties commercially considered. I wish that it should be tried, and stand or fall according to the conscientious judgment of Parliament upon the question whether it will not tend to promote sobriety." Following the example as regards the Gin Bill of some of your Lordships' famous ancestors, I have opposed and protested against a similar Bill to this on a former occasion. Permit me, now, to recall to your Lordships' memories some of those great historical statesmen who distinguished themselves in the discussion of the Gin Bill in 1743. The temporal Lords wore Chesterfield, Harvey, Lonsdale, and Talbot; the spiritual Lords were Oxford, Salisbury, Sarum, Canterbury, St. Asaph, London, Norwich, Gloucester and Bristol. My Lords, I entertain profound respect for the spiritual Lords of this House. I admire them for their charities, for their profound learning, and above all, for their sacred office, as the great heads of our Protestant Church. It is for these reasons that I have ventured to bring to their notice an example worthy to be followed, the conduct of some of their saintly predecessors. I do so the more readily because it might be supposed either that the Bishops did not take the same interest in the Temperance movement that is taken by the working classes, or that they had been bit by Mr. Gladstone in considering this as a soberizing Bill, or from prudential motives that they did not agitate the question, regarding it in the light of a Money Bill. My Lords, this is a mixed Bill, partly fiscal and partly of a public character. It is, therefore, quite within the constitutional sphere of the Peers of this House, and especially it is the sacred duty of the Bishops to discuss the Bill, and to make such Amendments in the police portions of it as they may deem necessary. I speak with confidence, because I have the authority of Mr. Gladstone for what I state. These are his words:— If the House of Lords make any alterations in the police portions of the Measure, the House of Commons, though it would not accept the Bill so altered, as it was technically a revenue Bill, yet if it approved of the alteration, might send up to the Lords another Bill, embodying the Amendment. In contradiction to what I have stated, it may be said that this is a wine Bill, not a Gin Bill. Yes, it is far worse than the Gin Bill. The promoters of the Gin Bill did but get their wedge in. Now, Mr. Gladstone, with an iron will and an iron arm, has driven it homo to free trade, or something nearly approaching free trade, and which, if not checked, must lead to it, and be a saturnalia of drunkenness. My Lords, we have the high authority of Mr. Gladstone that the measure is to lead to sobriety. Against his authority, I set that of a king of France. Up to the day of his fall, he was considered one of her greatest monarchs. Louis Phillipe said "he wished every vine in France was rooted up, except those devoted to the food of man." I will now state a still higher authority, that of the greatest and wisest of mankind. Lord Bacon said, "Of all things known to mortals, nothing excites and influences the passions like wine. It is, indeed, the common fuel of them all." Let me point out the relative strength of beer, of Mr. Gladstone's wines, and of gin. Beer contains eight per cent of proof spirit. Mr. Gladstone's light wine has 10 per cent of proof spirit; so it is stronger than our delicious Derbyshire ales. It is composed of the skins and stalks of grapes, of the sediments of the first brewing, mixed with a small portion of water, and trodden out by dirty feet. His strong wine is 40 per cent of proof spirit, just five times the strength of beer. Strong gin has 6G per cent of proof spirit, but as it is sold in the gin-palaces it contains not more than 50 per cent of proof spirit. It is, therefore, nearly on a par with the 40 percent wine, which is a sort of gin in disguise. My Lords, I call these Gladstone wines, because no pure juice of the grape, when fermented, contains 40 per cent of proof spirit. Do not, my Lords, imagine that this Bill will diminish the consumption of spirits or beer. No! These are Mr. Gladstone's words:—"I do not believe that the extended use of wine will act very powerfully in limiting or restraining the use of spirits; still less do I believe that it will act powerfully in limiting or restraining the use of beer." Conceive, my Lords, if you can, the beneficial effects that would have been entailed on future generations if those illustrious statesmen and bishops whom I have named had succeeded in their opposition to the Gin Bill. Further reflect on the benefits that would have followed if the Free-traders had been thwarted in carrying the Beer Bill, with its 42,000 pot-houses. Then, judging from old experience, you may prophesy the results of this third curse. Permit me, my Lords, to give you a slight sketch of Frederick the Great's mode of soberizing his motley legions. It was not on the Gladstonian principle, by increasing the consumption of light or of strong wines, or of light or strong schnapps—such, for example, as the "creme d'amour," or "mother gin" that he soberized his soldiers; nor did he lead them into temptation by increasing the number of his public-houses, but rather delivered them from evil by his preventive justice and the rigour of his laws. By Frederick's code, for every crime committed in a state of drunkenness the punishment was double. Thus for the highest of military crimes—cowardice—an officer would be sentenced to be beheaded; but for the same crime, if drunk, he would be sentenced to the ignominious punishment of being hung. Permit me, my Lords, to tell you what Mr. Gladstone has not told you—namely, how this Bill will, in no sham language, lead to sobriety. It will do so by leading to the poor-houses, the mad-houses, the ragged schools, the penitentiaries, the reformatories, the jails, the penal settlements, and finally to the gallows. Now, mark well, this is no claptrap, that in all these places an absolute system of teetotalism is rigidly observed. My Lords, there are two noble Lords in this House—namely, my Lord Llanover (an ex-minister) and the noble Duke of Argyll—who have shut up the public-houses on their estates. I understand that great benefit has arisen from this measure. I therefore ask the noble Duke why a measure which has proved so advantageous on his estate should not prove equally beneficial on every estate in the kingdom? My Lords, these two noble Lords are not the only Peers who have shut up the public-houses on their vast domains. Twenty other Peers have, I understand, done so likewise; and among the rest the Prince Consort, who represents Her Majesty the Queen in all Her virtues. Add to these that great minister, Lord Palmerston. My Lords, I see no reason why that which has been carried out by the Prince Consort and twenty Peers of this House with such marked success, should not be adopted in the towns by the people or the ratepayers in the way of a permissive Bill.


complained that the Government had made the present a Bill of Supply, with the purpose of compelling the House to pass it, or reject it as a whole. The two or three clauses which made it a Supply, might very well have been embodied in a separate measure, and then their Lordships could have made such alterations as they thought desirable in the other provisions, which were not of a fiscal nature. The measure was simply a police regulation; and there were no circumstances which required it to pass at this part of the Session, when the Standing Orders must be suspended for the purpose. In Ireland, there were no beerhouses, and, in consequence, no such machinery existed for the working of the Act as in England. In consequence of the Ribbon plots still planned in Ireland, it was necessary that public-houses in which these lodges met should be under the constant supervision of the magistrate; but one of the principal points in the present measure took away their control over wine-licensed houses. As he had no other plan of opposing such objectionable machinery as he complained of, he felt there was no resource open except to vote against the second reading.


really thought it would be unnecessary to reply to the arguments used by the noble Lord who had moved the rejection of this Bill, as they were exactly the same arguments as were used by his noble Friend on a former oc- casion against the first Bill, and which their Lordships had refused to entertain. He trusted the Motion would be withdrawn.


hoped the Government would pause before proceeding with a measure which disarranged the entire police arrangements on which the tranquillity of Ireland depended; more especially at a period when it was notorious that Ribbonism was rife throughout the country.


felt it was impossible to exclude the sale of spirits from these refreshment-houses. He had no objection to the second reading, provided the Government allowed changes to be introduced in Committee, whereby the magistrates should retain the jurisdiction they at present possessed over public-houses. Should the Bill not receive the changes himself and other Lords wished, he would resist its progress at later stages; but the period at which the Session had arrived scarcely justified their expecting the Commons to pass another on the same subject, to which its rejection now must lead.


trusted his noble Friend would persevere in his Motion. This was a Bill of a very serious character when viewed in connection with the peculiar, state of things in Ireland. Nine-tenths of the Ribbon conspiracies were hatched in public-houses, and, therefore, he looked upon the measure as one of the most dangerous ever laid on their Lordships' table; for it was impossible that the police could have an efficient superintendence over houses of this description. It was an unfair and unjustifiable proceeding on the part of the Government to force such a Bill on at the fag-end of the Session, and when there were very few Irish Peers in town.


thought the Bill was very defective; but if the noble Earl (Earl Granville) would give a pledge to amend it in Committee, he should not be disposed to vote against the second reading.


thought that Her Majesty's Government must have found out by this time that there was no noble Lord in the House connected with Ireland who did not view the provisions of the Bill with the most serious apprehension; and he trusted, therefore, that his noble Friend the President of the Council would not persevere in the attempt to pass the measure in its present shape. No doubt the effect of the rejection of the Bill would be that this particular tax would not be levied in Ireland, but there were a great many clauses of the Bill which had nothing whatever to do with fiscal matters—in fact, there was one clause among the police clauses which had no reference whatever to the subject matter of the Bill,—and it would be most unfortunate if, because there was one clause in a Bill referring to fiscal matters, their Lordships should, therefore, be debarred from considering the other parts of the Bill which had reference to subjects on which their Lordships ought to have coordinate authority with the other House. Nothing was more common, when a Bill of this sort had been altered by their Lordships, than to drop that particular Bill altogether and introduce a new Bill containing those enactments only on which both Houses were agreed. That had been done over and over again, and, unless some course of the sort were adopted, it would be obviously impossible, in a great many instances, for their Lordships to exercise any discretion in matters which had no connection with finance. If he understood from the noble Earl opposite that by consenting to the second reading they would not be precluded from submitting Amendments in Committee, even though at the risk of the Bill being dropped and a new one brought in, he had no hesitation in saying that he should be quite ready to support the second reading with a view of giving to those noble Lords most conversant with the subject an opportunity of stating their views and proposing their Amendments; but, on the other hand, if his noble Friend thought the position of matters to be such that no alteration-whatever could be made in the Bill, and no understanding come to between the two Houses, but that their Lordships must either take the Bill as it stood or reject it altogether, then, though very unwillingly, he should be obliged to support the Amendment. He asked the noble Earl opposite whether ho considered that their Lordships were at liberty to exercise a judgment upon this Bill in reference to moving Amendments, not of a financial character, but such as were purely technical as regarded the police. He should certainly vote with reluctance against the second reading of the Bill; but he hoped, at all events, that they would not be tied down by a declaration of the Government that no alterations whatever could be made by their Lordships in the measure.


was not prepared to say that this was a Bill which their Lordships could not amend, if they thought fit. He did not think that it would be at variance with practice, or unconstitutional, for their Lordships to amend any parts of the Bill, which did not relate to financial matters. He could not, however, pledge the Government as to any particular course in the event of such amendments being adopted. At the same time, as their Lordships knew, it was the practice of the House of Commons to reject Amendments in a Bill of Supply. The Bill had been well considered in the other House, and all the objections he had heard stated tonight were objections to its principle, and not to its details. Ho should regret, therefore, if their Lordships should deem it their duty to introduce Amendments, though he could not pretend to say that it would he contrary to their usual practice to do so, as far, at all events, as police regulations were concerned.


said, that after the answer of the noble Earl, and as they would have an opportunity of considering the details of the Bill hereafter, he thought the House should not be inconvenienced by a division on the present stage. He thought it would be an ungracious course for the noble Lord to persevere in his Amendment.


said, he was extremely sorry he could not acquiesce in the suggestion of the noble Earl, as he felt himself compelled to divide their Lordships upon his Amendment.

On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion?—their Lordships divided:—Contents 27; Not-Contents 5: Majority 22.

Resolved in the Affirmative.

Bill read 2a accordingly; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.