§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the purpose of the Bill, which had come up from the House of Commons, was to make permanent the Act of 1879. It was not necessary for him to dilate upon the misery and distress resulting from habitual drunkenness. He would merely observe that the attention of medical science had been increasingly applied to the malignant and relentless character of what might rightly be described as the "disease of inebriety," and the verdict of medical science was unquestionably in favour of such legislation as that contained in the Bill—only it would go a great deal further. Parliament, however, was wisely jealous concerning any measure which appeared to afford the slightest risk of undue interference with liberty. The Bill was, therefore, limited to 10 years. Two 1514 things were apparent from this experimental legislation—first, the complete sufficiency of the safeguards proposed for the regulation of the homes for habitual drunkards provided under the Act; and, secondly, the extensive need of, and also the extensive benefits conferred by, those homes. Those benefits would be extended if the Act were made permanent, because the temporary character of the Act of 1879 necessarily hampered the good work such homes as those now existing were intended to promote, for the obvious reason that people were not willing to invest capital in institutions in which no permanency could be guaranteed. From the excellent results obtained in many of these establishments, they held a high place in public estimation. Persons in all conditions of life—doctors, lawyers, and clergymen—who had inherited or acquired a disposition to alcoholic excess sought their shelter. He would only add that ample provision was made for inspection. In the absence of such an Act as this there was a real danger of unauthorized establishments springing up where no such guarantee could be provided. He hoped their Lordships would read the Bill a second time.
§ Moved,"That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Aberdeen.)
§ EARL BROWNLOW
said, he should offer no objection on the part of the Government to the second reading of the Bill. He would only call attention to Clause 3, the wording of which was not, he thought, sufficiently strong to secure the object of the clause. He had conferred privately with the noble Earl in charge of the Bill, and believed that he would be prepared to strengthen the clause in Committee.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.