HL Deb 17 July 1874 vol 221 cc200-3

Bill read 3a (according to Order) with the Amendments.


rose to move an Amendment, that the time for closing public-houses on Sunday nights in the Metropolis be altered from 11 to 10. He regretted that he should have been prevented by circumstances over which he had no control from moving that Amendment at an earlier stage of the Bill. He was unable to understand why in this matter the Metropolis should be dealt with in a manner different from that which was thought best for all other places throughout the country, however populous they might be. Was there any necessity for public-houses to be open until 11 o'clock in the Metropolis, when 10 o'clock was sufficient for the wants of the people elsewhere? He could not see why there should be any difference, or that there were any circumstances to justify such a course. The noble Earl (Earl Beauchamp) had said that a large number of persons generally went into the country on Sunday, and. that they required refreshments on their return to the Metropolis. That might be quite true; but he was not aware that these persons were in the habit of making excursions to places where refreshments were not to be had, and he knew that on their return to London they did not always present the appear ance either of persons requiring refreshments or of bonâ fide travellers. There were, no doubt, numerous excursionists on Sunday; but he ventured to say that the proportion of excursionists from London on that day was much less than that from many of the large towns and other populous places throughout the country—amongst which he might mention Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield. Again, it was said that persons attending Divine Worship on Sunday evenings sometimes required refreshments afterwards, and that, therefore, public-houses must be kept open for their accommodation. That position, he thought, was not meant to be serious: the services of the churches and chapels of London were generally over at 8.30; and he was not aware why public-houses should be kept open to 11 o'clock. He thought that 10 o'clock would be a sufficiently late hour. The noble Duke had used strong arguments in favour of keeping the houses open to 11; but there were very strong arguments against it. With regard to the wants of the labouring classes, his opinion was that they were not different from those of the same class in the large towns; and he did not believe that the people of London required to have the public-houses kept open later than those of other large populous places. With respect to Petitions, a very large number, most numerously signed, had been presented in favour of closing the public-houses uniformly at 10 o'clock, and praying, not only for a limitation of time, but for restriction of the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays. He asked their Lordships to consider the position and case of the servants engaged in the trade. His right rev. Brother (the Bishop of Peterborough) said in the debate the other night that the word "licence" implied restriction; but in the publican's case there were two species of restriction—the one, that he must keep his house open to a certain hour, and the other, that he must not close it before that hour. Under the proposed arrangement the publican closing at 12.30 and opening at 5 o'clock in the morning would have only 4½ hours for rest; and the same would be the case in respect to the barmaids and other persons in his employment. To the publican, Sunday was no day of rest. He certainly had some hours of rest on that day, but they were very limited, and here the Bill proposed to take from him another hour. He was not entirely speaking from imagination on this point, inasmuch as he had received a letter from a missionary who laboured chiefly among the publicans, and that gentleman informed him that it was the general desire to shut their shops on the Lord's Day, and that where they could not do that they were of opinion that by keeping open from I to 2.30 P.M., and from 8 to 10 in the evening, they would be able to satisfy the legitimate wants of the public. There were, it was calculated, 50,000 persons in the Metropolis employed directly and indirectly in the sale of intoxicating liquors. Those persons all through the week worked on an average 19 hours a-day, and they had only some seven hours' rest on Sunday. He hoped, under those circumstances, their Lordships would make the small concession of substituting 10 o'clock for 11 o'clock as the hour of closing on Sunday evenings. It would remove a great deal of unnecessary temptation, and give a wholesome rest to an overworked portion of Her Majesty's subjects.

An Amendment moved in Clause 3, p. 1, line 25, to leave out ("Eleven") and insert (" ten "). (The Lord Bishop of London.)


regretted that he could not accede to the right rev. Prelate's appeal. It was necessary that there should be a difference made between Sunday and the week-days in respect to the hours of closing, and the Legislature fully recognized the right of the publican to rest and relaxation. He did not deny that if they were dealing with an ideal state of things the Amendment might be accepted; but they had to deal with hard facts, and the experience they had had of the riots in Hyde Park, when Parliament closed the houses at 10 o'clock on Sunday nights, was a warning to them not to impose undue restrictions on the habits of the people. In 1868 a Select Committee of the House of Commons fully inquired into the subject, and took a vast quantity of evidence in reply to 8,808 Questions, and the Committee, without naming any hours, reported that all such legislation had a tendency to create discontent and to lead to evasion. The present measure was framed with a full know ledge of the opinions that had been expressed for and against its provisions, and, as their Lordships knew, the habit and manners of the people of London were much later than those of the inhabitants of other places. Because one or two Sunday excursionists might, on arrival in the Metropolis, exhibit signs of inebriety, that was no reason to suppose that all the others had largely availed themselves of the opportunities of refreshment presented to them as bonâ fide travellers while in the country. Under those circumstances, he hoped their Lordships would maintain the clause as it stood.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

House adjourned at a quarter before Nine o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.