HL Deb 11 June 1861 vol 163 cc901-2

begged the attention of their Lordships to a petition which had been put into his hands by a very large body of their fellow-subjects, the inhabitants of Plymouth, on a most important subject, the evils of intemperance, and the necessity of discouraging and, if possible, preventing these excesses, which all Judges and all inferior magistrates had so often declared to be the cause of crimes as well as of pauperism. In most instances habits of intoxication had this 'dreadful tendency, and in many cases intoxication was the direct cause of offences. Their Lordships were appealed to as the highest Court of criminal judicature by that meeting, over which the mayor presided, and the prayer of this petition was that considering the evils of the present system of licensing, there should in any measure which received the sanction of the House respecting the sale of intoxicating liquors be inserted a provision conferring upon two-thirds of the inhabitants of any district the power of preventing the granting or renewing the licences within the district. There had been a canvas carefully made of all the inhabitants of the great town whence the petition proceeded, and nineteen in twenty had de- clared in favour of the Permissive Law—four in five of the Parliamentary voters. It was remarkable that these proportions were not the same in the highest and lowest classes, but in the class of working men the vast majority was much the largest. The petition to the other House was signed by nearly 12,000, the largest number that ever signed a Plymouth petition. In other great towns the result of a similar canvas had been the same. Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield might be mentioned as entirely agreeing with Plymouth.