§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE BISHOP OF DURHAM (Dr. LIGHT-FOOT)
, in moving that the Bill be read a second time, said: My Lords, the Bill that I beg to propose for second reading is one of a very simple character, and it will not require many words from me. Its object is to close the public-houses in the county of Durham all day on Sunday to all, except our very old and very troublesome friend, the bonâ fide traveller. This measure has not been previously before your Lordships' House; but it comes recommended now by a preponderating majority of the other House—a majority of two to one—and I feel confident that it will receive the careful consideration of your Lordships. It involves no new principle, and it involves no new experiment. Sunday 704 Closing Acts are familiar to the Legislatures of other countries, as well as of our Colonies; and we have had experience of them far nearer home. Scotland has, for many years, reaped the advantage of such a measure; and, still more recently, Acts have been passed affecting Ireland and Wales. When I said that I asked your Lordships to affirm no new principle, I especially had the last-mentioned locality, Wales, in view; for, whatever may be said of Scotland or Ireland, in all such matters Wales is as much a part of England as the county of Durham. Nor indeed is the number of persons affected by the Bill so very different. The population of Durham at the last Census amounted to two-thirds of the population of the whole Principality of Wales, and probably it is increasing at a greater ratio. Well, my Lords, I do not think there is any risk in asking you to extend this measure to the county of Durham. Wherever it has been tried hitherto the results have been good. I am quite aware that adverse critics have referred to certain statistics with a view of disparaging the measure; but the broad fact remains that no community which has once had the benefit of such a measure has felt disposed to hark back or undo what it has done. In Scotland, where the measure has had the longest and the fairest trial, the results have been most beneficent. If any Member of your Lordships' House has any hesitation on this point, I would venture to recommend the perusal of an account, with statistic tables, given last year by Mr. Linton, for many years head of the police of Edinburgh, and the Public Prosecutor. Again, to those who are sceptical about the effect of legislation in this direction, I would say look at Norway. A generation ago travellers reported of Norway as a people of inebriates; but you may now travel there for weeks together without seeing the slightest sign of intoxication. This result has been effected, I will not say entirely, but very largely, by legislation; and in this legislation is included not only a Sunday Closing measure, but a festival closing measure—a measure which forbids the sale of spirits on Sundays and festivals, and on the eves of those days. The result produced in Norway has been surprising. But your Lordships will require to be assured 705 that this particular measure is approved in the localities and by the class whom it will chiefly affect, as it is not wise for the Legislature in such matters to be in advance of public opinion, and I trust I shall be able to give your Lordships the assurance which you will demand. This evening I have presented no fewer than 98 Petitions from divers bodies—some official, others representative of different religious communities, others advocates of the temperance movement in its different branches, others emanating from public meetings in the great towns and in the villages of the county. But these, after all, are only the efflorescence of the movement which was initiated three years ago. At that time the measure was first brought before the House of Commons, and it passed the second reading by an enormous majority; but somehow it got entangled in the quickset of obstruction and never emerged. Public meetings were then held in 133 towns or parishes throughout the county, and those meetings were reported to be practically unanimous on the subject. These towns and parishes comprised nearly the whole of the county which had not been canvassed in some other way. Then, again, a house canvass was undertaken in 25 different centres throughout the diocese, and of the voting papers returned 60,000 were in favour of Sunday closing, only 2,440 against it, and 2,144 neutral. Again, there were Petitions from every Board of Guardians throughout the county, and from every Corporation but one in its favour. There was also another test. When the Motion the other day was before the Commons, it was approved by not less than 15 of the 16 Representatives from the county. The remaining one, the hon. Member for the city of Durham (Mr. Milvain), has since found himself in conflict with some of his strongest and most influential supporters on this very ground. These are very striking facts, and, so far as my own observation goes, no one measure since I have been connected with the county of Durham has drawn to itself in the same degree persons of all opinions. It unites all religious Churches and sects—Churchmen, Roman Catholics, Nonconformists, Sabbatarians and non-Sabbatarians. It enlist both political Parties—Liberal and Conservative; it combines all 706 promoters of the temperance movement, the advocates and opponents of Local Option alike, abstainers and non - abstainers equally. But there is one remarkable fact; it is essentially a working man's measure. The tide of opinion is strongest in its favour just in those neighbourhoods which are inhabited chiefly by the working and poorer classes. In the city of Durham, for instance, in the household canvass, the proportion in favour of the Bill throughout the city was, if I remember rightly, as seven to one; but in some of the worst parishes where the poorest people dwell it was in one as 14 to one, and in another as 16 to one. I have presented this evening a Petition from a pit district in my diocese, a parish with a population of about 5,600 persons. It is signed by 1,646 men and women above the age of 18. My informant adds that it was got up in four evenings, and that only 4 per cent of those asked to sign had refused. In fact, the canvass of which I have spoken was chiefly conducted by working men themselves in their leisure hours. Sometimes an appeal is made by opponents to our feelings of generosity. We are told that it is an ungracious thing for persons who have their well-stocked cellars or their clubs to put these restrictions on their poorer and less favoured neighbours. However creditable these sentiments are to the hearts of those who use them, they entirely lose sight of the practical issue—the working man's view of the question. The working man looks at the question from a wholly different point of view. The climate of Durham, his arduous employment, the atmosphere of the mine, the heat of the iron foundry, all predispose him to the use of stimulants. The Sunday comes; he has his time on his hands to go where he wishes; he has money in his pocket, for he has been paid his wages the evening before. The public-house door is open to him, and it is the only door open to him. Are we surprised if he yields to the temptation? The working man looks upon legislation such as this as a helping hand stretched out to him when he is struggling in the seat of temptation; and it would be a sorry comfort to him to be told that we are actuated by sentiments of generosity in not stretching out that helping hand, and leaving him to be plunged into the abyss below. 707 This Bill, as affecting only a particular locality, is condemned by some as piecemeal legislation. Your Lordships have already embarked, as I have shown, upon piecemeal legislation, and the further we go in this direction the less piecemeal our work will be. I should very much sooner a Bill were introduced dealing with the whole of the United Kingdom; but we have been waiting year after year, until we have come to the conclusion that half a loaf is better than no bread. The vision of a hope of a whole loaf in the distant future, dangled before the eyes, is poor comfort for a hungry stomach. The value of the opinion of the Durham miners on any great Imperial question of wide and far-reaching issues may be differently estimated; but surely they are the best judges of what concerns the health and comfort of their own homes. No doubt, there is the question of the frontier, which presents great difficulties, and these we cannot altogether remove. But I feel sure that if you pass this Bill, the counties of Northumberland and Yorkshire will follow quickly in the wake of Durham. Movements have already begun in those counties in this same direction and your Lordships would stimulate them by passing this Bill. Then it is said that the intention of such a measure would be evaded through the clause which excepts the bonâ-fide traveller, and that it would encourage private drinking. I do not contend that this Bill or any other Bill would reclaim the inebriate. What I do claim for it is that it will keep the waverers straight, and will remove the initial temptation from many besides. It requires a deliberate act to store up drink on Saturday night for consumption on Sunday. It demands a certain effort to walk three miles in order to gratify a propensity for drink. I thank your Lordships very sincerely for the kind and patient hearing you have given me. I advocate the measure in all confidence, because I feel sure that I have at my back the very strong and enthusiastic approval of the mass of the working men of Durham. I advocate it in all earnestness, because I believe that it will confer a substantial boon on large classes whom, during a residence of seven years in Durham, I have learned to appreciate increasingly for their very sterling qualities. I cannot 708 expect that your Lordships will feel the same interest in the matter that I do; but I entreat you to hold out a helping hand to members of the community to whom you yourselves, directly or indirectly, are largely indebted for the comforts and necessaries of life—the miners and ironworkers, the artizans, and the shipwrights of Durham. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Bishop of Durham.)
§ LORD BRAMWELL
, on rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said: In asking your Lordships to read this Bill a second time this day six months, I do so reluctantly from my respect for the right rev. Prelate who brings it forward. But this Bill seems so wrong, so objectionable, and such an unwarrantable interference with the rights of persons, and so unlikely to bring about that for which it is intended—that is, more sobriety—that I feel bound to object to it. I am not insensible to the mischiefs of drink. I have had the opportunity of seeing some of the mischief which it brings about in my official capacity, and I have not lived to my present age without knowing privately the mischief that it has done. Whether £135,000,000 is the sum spent annually on drink in this country or not, I do not know; but even if a very large deduction has to be made from that amount, yet a very great deal too much drink is consumed, to the injury of health, thrift, and economy. I quite agree that the money spent on drink is far too much to be laid out upon it by the people who spend it; and I do not believe that they get in this way the greatest amount of enjoyment for their money. I do not seek in the least to disguise all this; but I must say that there is a very great deal of exaggeration. I will give your Lordships an illustration. We hear constantly of the number of people driven mad by drink; but it has been proved that in a very great many of these cases neither effect is the cause of the other, but that the same mental constitution alone is the cause of both drunkenness and madness. Therefore, it is an entire mistake to attribute insanity to excessive drinking in all the cases where they co-exist. I attribute this exaggeration to 709 over-zeal on the part of people who are trying to make the world better than it is. A great many people believe that drink is of great utility if used in moderation; and Sir James Paget has given it as his opinion that, for intellectual work, alcoholic stimulants are required. I would ask your Lordships whether those who support this kind of legislation are doing an altogether reasonable thing in asserting the evil of drinking without any consideration, on the other hand, of the enjoyment it gives? If not an invidious question, I should like to know how many of your Lordships entirely abstain from alcoholic beverages? We do not treat drink fairly. This Bill is to prevent the sale of "intoxicating" drinks in the county of Durham on Sundays. Wine, spirits, and beer are indeed intoxicating liquors if taken in sufficient quantities; but why is one particular property to be singled out? Why is no mention made of their pleasant and agreeable qualities? Would your Lordships speak of water as a drowning liquor? Yet it most certainly is. Intoxicating liquors give a great deal of enjoyment when taken in moderation and with reason, and it is a most unreasonable thing to treat it as an article so pernicious that it should be altogether done away with. There ought to be some little discernment in the matter, particularly when we consider that the objectionable quality of the article consists only in its being taken in excess. I ask your Lordships, therefore, to treat drink, and wine and spirits, fairly, and not to look at them unfairly. They are capable of considerable enjoyment by those who indulge in them reasonably and rationally. The right rev. Prelate has said that Durham is very much in favour of the Bill; but the matter to which I shall now have to call your Lordships' attention almost makes me think that there must be two Durhams. The right rev. Prelate has presented a variety of Petitions, and I have one which has been signed by over 60,000 people living in the county of Durham, and there are two or three other Petitions also from other bodies. Those Petitions were not sent to me in time to present to your Lordships earlier in the Sitting; but I will now present them. [The Petitions were brought in.] Those are the Petitions. Your Lordships will scarely think, therefore, that 710 the recital in the Preamble of this Bill is correct when it speaks of the people of Durham. Seventy thousand persons in the county of Durham, at all events, do not desire the extension of a measure of this kind to the county. One of the Petitions presented in favour of the Bill states that there is a strong necessity for the measure in the county of Durham, as drunkenness exists there among the rural population to a very large extent. If that is so, it is a very remarkable thing that such an enormous number of persons should have signed the Petitions presented by the right rev. Prelate. Then it is said that the Petitions are also signed by many publicans who desire to have Sunday as a day of rest. What is to prevent their shutting up their shops every Sunday if they wish to do so? They might do it, and would, if the people were as much in earnest as they professed to be, because there would be no customers on Sunday. I have always the greatest possible distrust about these Petitions. It is so much easier to say "Yes," than "No;" and by signing a Petition the signer hopes that the whole thing is done with, and that he will hear no more about the matter. Your Lordships know, however divided opinion may be, what influence a few persons with strong opinions have in turning the scale one way or the other. I admit in this matter that possibly there may be a majority of people in Durham in favour of the Bill, and I agree that where there must be action the majority should bind the minority; but in this matter I must protest against the majority binding the minority. I protest against the right of 99 men out of 100 to insist upon the 100th man not drinking if he wishes, or prescribing what colour or cut of coat he should wear. Where there is a necessity for action then the majority must prevail; where there is no necessity it is simply tyranny on the part of the majority to enforce their views upon the minority. Now, I ask your Lordships what this Bill is to do when it passes. Is it for the sake of those who drink too much, or for the sake of pleasing a very amiable class of persons, very earnest and very zealous, who would make the world better than it is at present? I must ask your Lordships to allow me to use an argument that I used when a similar Bill was before this House, 711 only Cornwall was then the place to be experimented upon. Your Lordships' rejected that Bill. I ask, what would your Lordships' think if a man were to come on a Saturday night and demand the key of your cellar, promising it should be returned to you on Monday morning; and when you said—"Have you any reason to fear I shall take too much?" he replied—"Oh, no; but there is a man half-a-dozen doors below who does?" What difference is there between that case and the present one? I do urge upon your Lordships that it is an unreasonable and unwarrantable thing to deprive persons of fermented liquors who take them in moderation because there are other persons who take them in excess. But I have said, and I repeat, that I believe this is a measure which, if passed, will not promote sobriety. I have several times said in this House that it is in vain to pass a law with which the public conscience does not go. I mean by that that it is not well to pass a law that right-minded and well-conducted men do not find so far in conformity with their conscience that they are willing to obey. If you do so, that law will be broken and evaded. There are two ways in which this law can be evaded. Provision will be made overnight, the drink will be consumed in private—no one seeing his discreditable condition if the man gets drunk—and not in the house of the publican, who is responsible for those he supplies. But, besides that, there is that troublesome person the bonâ-fide traveller, and travel he will in search of drink. I will give your Lordships a case. Wales has the fortune—I do not think good fortune, and as I show presently—to have a Sunday Closing Act. From the town of Swansea to the Mumbles there is a tramway, and this tramway is provided with bonâ-fide travellers on a Sunday, because it is beyond three miles from Swansea, and extra trams are also put on. They go there for drinking purposes only, and some of them become so drunk that they cannot find their way back to Swansea. Now that is one instance of the bonâ fide traveller. Another, and in my opinion a shocking case, is this. Clubs are instituted, a room is set apart, but it is perfectly well understood that no member of the club is to go there except on a Sunday. On that day the 712 members of the club assemble to drink at the house, and you cannot interfere with their doing it. I have here a paper in which it is stated that there are upwards of 60 of these clubs in Cardiff, which are contrivances for evading the law. That is another way in which it is done. You have, therefore, the bonâ-fide traveller and these bogus clubs. It is certain that as long as a man has got the money to command something that he wants, and there is another person who is desirous of supplying him, you may make what laws you like, but in some way or other they will be evaded and avoided. And that is why I believe that this is not a measure which is calculated to promote sobriety. The right rev. Prelate has said that this is indeed piecemeal legislation, but that there is precedent for it. But there is no reason why, because you have done one thing out of rule, or one thing that is quite abnormal, that you should do another. Why not bring the question forward at once? What objection can there be to its being enforced all over England if it is right in Durham? None. There is this to be said about Durham. Your Lordships probably know Newcastle. It has, I think, about 140,000 inhabitants in the county of Northumberland. Gateshead, which is the other side of the river, has about 50,000 inhabitants. Well, what will be the consequences of this Bill? If it cannot be evaded in any other way, as far as the Gateshead people are concerned, they will just cross the Tyne and drink their fill in the county of Northumberland. This Bill will, therefore, turn out to be a Bill for the encouragement of Newcastle publicans. The people of Darlington will likewise make an incursion into Yorkshire. They may be the most mala-fide travellers that ever travelled, but they have only to cross into the neighbouring county to get drink. Another remark I wish to make is this. Why shut up houses on Sunday? Why, if it is not wrong to drink a glass of beer on Saturday should it be wrong to do so on Sunday? Now, in my opinion, Sunday is the last day on which you ought to close a public-house, because on Sunday people recreate themselves with a walk into the country, and why should they be debarred from taking a glass of beer if they wish to do so? But the public-house is to be shut up 713 altogether, and a man cannot get a cup of tea or a glass of soda water. You will have that in Durham which exists now to a certain extent in other counties; you will have the publican selling beer on the sly, and there will be the usual perjury cases, several of which I have had before me. It is certain that the law imposing closing hours has given rise to a great deal of perjury. The right rev. Prelate said that wherever the experiment had been tried there was no desire to hark back. I know nothing of Norway, but I believe it is absolutely certain that the Sunday Closing Act in Wales has been a failure. Now, another thing I wish to say is this. When the Cornwall Sunday Closing Bill was under discussion before your Lordships, Lord Aberdare stated that all the Bill proposed to do was to put the publican upon the level of other traders, who were prohibited from carrying on their trade on Sunday. With great submission, that is not so. In the first place, the Act against Sunday trading is really obsolete. It is obsolete for this reason, that the construction put upon it by the Courts was, that the offence could only be committed once in the day; and if there were 20 different acts of trading on the Sunday, still it was only one Sunday trading, and the penalty was scarcely more than nominal. It is a totally different penalty to that which attaches to a publican. The latter is subject to a penalty of £10, and, moreover, he is subject to the forfeiture of his licence. These are the considerations on which I ask your Lordships not to pass this Bill. I have shown that it is, in the first place, an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of individuals to say that they shall not enjoy themselves with a rational quantity of drink, which is a source of great pleasure and enjoyment. I say also that it will not produce sobriety, and will be attended with mischief that I have endeavoured to point out—that is to say, there will be evasions and breaches of the law which it is very undesirable should take place.
§ Amendment moved, to leave out ("now,") and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months.")—(The Lord Bramwell.)
§ LORD NORTON
said, that he should vote against the second reading of the 714 Bill, because he believed closing public-houses, instead of converting them, was wrong in principle, and would not meet the object which the promoters had in view. It was an attempt to put down abuse by legislating against use. Public-houses had their legitimate and necessary uses for refreshment and rest, and it was wrong to say that those persons who wished to use them properly should be debarred from doing so because other persons abused them. To treat public-houses as necessarily places of drunkenness was the way to make them so. Whenever such legislation had been attempted it always excepted the bonâ-fide traveller from its operation; there was, therefore, only evasion under that character needed to keep up as much drunkenness as ever. The right legislation would be against drunkenness; and to make its permission on any premises forfeit the abused license to sell drink.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord HERSCHELL)
said, that, having represented the city of Durham in the other House, he thought that he ought to tell their Lordships what he had been able to ascertain about the sentiments and views of the county of Durham with regard to this question. He had had considerable means of informing himself upon the subject, even more than his noble and learned Friend who had moved the rejection of this Bill (Lord Bramwell). He did not intend to deal exhaustively at that hour with the whole of this subject, because the arguments which had been addressed to their Lordships against the Bill were very much those which had been used with regard to previous Bills; and, if he might say so without disrespect to the noble and learned Lord, were the stock arguments of that Society which was good enough to instruct them from time to time as to how they were to vote, and of which the noble and learned Lord was a distinguished member. He would confine himself to the necessities of the case, and especially to what concerned this particular Bill. He quite admitted that for a long time after he had gone to the city of Durham he had been indisposed to vote for any such legislation as this, as he had always felt that it was not a matter which affected himself or those who were able to live in the same way and provide themselves with refreshments, 715 and that it would be a monstrous thing from one's own views of comfort or morality to vote against the wishes of the class of the community that practically was affected and inconvenienced. But he could say, without hesitation, that these were the very people who were most eager for this Bill, and he could assure the noble and learned Lord that if he had mixed with the working men and talked with them as he had himself he would not have used some of the arguments which he had used tonight. It was true that there was in the county of Durham a great amount of drunkenness; but this was regretted not merely by the Temperance Societies, but by the people themselves, and those who had most impressed on him the expediency of this Bill had been men not particularly of the religious class or the tremely respectable class, but men of the working class who felt the strength of the temptation and the difficulty of resisting it, and who knew that when public-house after public-house was open in the street on Sunday they went in and drank in a way in which they never would have done if they had had to provide themselves with drink on Saturday night. The noble and learned Lord had spoken of Swansea and the Mumbles. No doubt, a certain number of people travelled by the tramway from Swansea to the Mumbles on the Sunday; but how many more would have been drinking in the public-houses of Swansea if they had been open? He had seen tramcars running to the Mumbles on Sunday afternoon, and could vouch that there was nothing like the male population of Swansea at the Mumbles, although some of the cars were well-filled; but it did not follow because certain persons went to the Mumbles for the purpose of drink that there should not be Sunday closing. He thought that the noble and learned Lord's argument went too far. It was really an argument against having any restriction at all in the hours during which drink was to be sold. It was practically saying that any man had a right not to have his liberty interfered with in the matter of getting drink when he wished. He was afraid, however, that all political Parties in this country were committed to the view that it was the legitimate function of Parliament to limit the hours in which intoxicating liquors might be sold. It was impossible 716 nowadays to argue that it was not so. It was thought to be in the general interests that certain restrictions should be put upon the sale of liquor. There was no new principle in a Bill of this kind; it merely extended the principle which did exist before to certain other hours, and this principle which was here extended was one which had long been recognized. An important question was what public opinion was on this subject in the county of Durham and how it was to be ascertained. The first, and a most reasonable mode, was to ascertain the views of those elected to represent the constituency. But it might be said that Parties were so evenly balanced that some crotchet would turn the scale. Nothing of the sort was the case in the county of Durham, and mere crotcheteers had no chance of turning the scale. He maintained that it would be rather dangerous for that House to disregard the views of the elected Members of a constituency as expressed in the House of Commons and to say that they would go behind those views because they knew better. As against those views, what did the noble and learned Lord say? He said that he had presented to-night a very extensive Petition. For his own part, he thought that it was perhaps fortunate that the Petition had arrived so late, and that there had not been any possibility of investigation earlier, because a great many Petitions which were presented as having a large number of signatures turned out upon investigation to be far less numerously signed. He must respectfully submit to their Lordships that no Petition should be considered as of importance against the evidence afforded by the views of every Member for the constituency except one, and, with one exception, of every Corporation. Then his noble and learned Friend said that this was piecemeal legislation. He confessed that, for his own part, he had not the same objection to piecemeal legislation as that held by his noble and learned Friend. He thought that there might be great advantage in such legislation, because it enabled them to try experiments which if unsuccessful did no mischief. They could not go far beyond public opinion in this matter; but in Durham public opinion went as far as this Bill, although that was not the case in every part of England. It 717 was not, therefore, expedient to pass such a Bill for the whole of England; but he hoped that the House would agree to the second reading of the Bill which was now before them.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I have listened with some interest to the noble and learned Lord laying down a doctrine which has found considerable favour "elsewhere," that the opinions of the Members for a particular district are to be taken as the opinions of the people therein. I am surprised that the noble and learned Lord, connected as he has been with the county of Durham, should not have detected the principal flaw in the argument which he used. The county of Durham, outside the city of Durham, has, undoubtedly, through its Representatives, pronounced in favour of this Bill; but the city of Durham, through its Representative, has pronounced equally emphatically against the Bill. Why is the city of Durham to be compulsorily sober because there are no cakes and ale in the county of Durham? The city of Durham has just as much right to be excepted from the county of Durham for this purpose as Ulster has the right to be excepted from the rest of Ireland for another. That is a small matter; and what I desire to explain is why, if the noble and learned Lord goes to a division, I shall follow him into the Lobby. My Lords, it is interesting, no doubt, to watch the growth of this particular feeling, which has acted so much upon the recent legislation of the country, and it is impossible to ignore its existence; but I must say that it does not inspire me with so much admiration as it inspires many other people. I do not know why a number of people who never go into a public-house should close them to the people who do. There is a Nemesis in store for those who are so ready to use the terrors of the law in order to make their fellow-subjects more virtuous. The effect of this legislation has been to multiply to an enormous extent clubs in various parts of the country, and these clubs are becoming more and more a nuisance, more and more demoralizing and injurious; and the complaints which come from the police, and from ministers of religion, are very imperious in their tone. I fully look forward to the necessity for Parliament dealing with the workmen's clubs; and when they 718 deal with the workmen's clubs will they not have to deal with the rich man's clubs also? I shall look with considerable interest to see if there is the same unanimity of opinion as to closing the rich man's clubs on the Sunday. I cannot take my stand on the high platform of theory which is maintained with so much ability by the noble and learned Lord; but if I were to theorize on the matter I should agree with the noble and learned Lord in arguing what is consistent or inconsistent with sound principle. But I have found that sound principle never has the slightest effect with either House of the Legislature. When questions of this kind come before them, all that is considered is what is the force of public opinion which will have to be followed and observed; and, undoubtedly, public opinion on this subject is so powerful that there is not sufficient force in either House to resist it very long. My own opinion is that, to save a part, we must give up all hope of saving the whole, for the hope of saving the whole has gone long ago. Scotland, Ireland, and Wales have already been subjected to this exceptional legislation; and I believe if we are to prevent a general Sunday Closing Bill for the whole country from being passed—a result which I should regard with anything but satisfaction—our best hope of doing so must be to provide some arrangement by which, where there is an overwhelming majority of opinion in a particular district, they may try this scheme and see how it will succeed. Perhaps noble Lords will say then, Why do you not vote for this Bill? My answer is that this Bill does not allow for a trial of the experiment, it allows no locus pœnitentiœ, and that when it has been found that this repression leads to numberless journies to secret clubs, they will not be able to go back to the state of things which now exists. I have before ventured to express an opinion that the proper way of dealing with this question is to hand it over to the Local Authorities, and to allow them to decide for their particular locality whether this measure shall be carried out or not, and to give them the power of going back when they find the experiment does not answer. I believe that that is especially necessary, because I have no faith in the permanence of this most unfortunate and unreasonable movement 719 I believe it is merely a temporary craze, which will pass away, as similar crazes have passed before. It was in the nature of man to try to use the authority of Parliament to force others to become moral or theological according to their own standard. Two or three centuries ago such a measure as this would have taken the form of forcing people to go to church, or to assent to some particular article of religion, and the right rev. Prelate would have used such means of compulsion as were in his power to give it Parliamentary force. But now he wants to force them to adopt that particular mode of ethics which he himself believes in, in order to force them to abstain from drunkenness or intoxicating liquors. Such persons as the right rev. Prelate will always exist among the earnest teachers of religion, and his is a weakness to which the teachers of religion have always been exposed; but that is not a view which they will be able, for any length of time, to impress upon their lay brethren. Though for a time, in view of some great scandal, they might carry the community with them, the public, in the long run, would cease to follow them. I look for a revulsion of feeling on this question, and I believe that, in the long run, we shall leave men to determine what they shall eat and what they shall drink, and that this paroxysm of paternal legislation will pass by. While, therefore, I recognize the necessity for giving effect to a certain section of dominant public opinion on this matter, I am anxious that the way shall be left open for retreat. I believe that this subject can best be dealt with in a general Local Government Bill, in which the Local Authority shall have power to do what it thinks fit; and it is because I believe that to be the only sound solution of the question that I shall follow the noble and learned Lord who has moved the rejection of this Bill.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of KIMBERLEY)
said, he was not going to trouble the House at any length; but he wished to make one observation on the particular part of the noble Marquess's remarks as to leaving it to the Local Authorities to make regulations. That was what they wished to enact under the Local Government Bill; but their great Local Government Bills never passed. Now, the 720 present outlook in political affairs was not particularly calm, and it was somewhat hard that these particular localities like Durham should have to wait until this great principle was adopted before they could give effect to their desires. He would suggest, as a perfectly easy way to meet the difficulty of the noble Marquess, that they should pass the second reading, and limit the operation of the Bill to three years.
§ On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 47; Not-Contents 41: Majority 6.721
|Canterbury, L. Archp.||Truro, L. Bp.|
|Herschell, L. (L. Chancellor.)|
|Aberdare, L. [Teller.]|
|Spencer, E. (L. President.)||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Northampton, M.||Coleridge, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Camperdown, E. [Teller.]||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)|
|Feversham, E.||Herries, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Houghton, L.|
|Morley, E.||Howth, L. (E. Howth.)|
|Onslow, E.||Kensington, L.|
|Saint Germans, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Lingen, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Monson, L.|
|Halifax, V.||Ramsay, L. (E Dalhousie.)|
|Bangor, L. Bp.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Chichester, L. Bp.|
|Durham, L. Bp.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Hereford, L. Bp.||Sudeley, L.|
|London, L. Bp.||Thurlow, L.|
|Oxford, L. Bp.||Winmarleigh, L.|
|St. Albans, L. Bp.||Wolverton, L.|
|St. Asaph, L. Bp.|
|Buckingham and Chandos, D.||Hawarden, V.|
|Grafton, D.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Bramwell, L. [Teller.]|
|Bristol, M.||Colchester, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Dinevor, L.|
|Ashburnham, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Elphinstone, L.|
|Iddesleigh, E.||FitzGerald, L.|
|Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)||Foxford, L. (E. Limerich.)|
|Lovelace, E.||Halsbury, L.|
|Manvers, E.||Harris, L.|
|Mar, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Northesk, E.||Leigh, L. [Teller.]|
|Ravensworth, E.||Lovat, L.|
|Lyveden, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|Norton, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Sinclair, L.||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)|
|Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.