*LORD HOBHOUSE moved "That this Bill be now read a Second time." He said: In introducing this Bill for Second Reading, I must first state in what shape it conies before the House. A similar Bill was introduced in 1895, and when the Second Reading was moved, Lord Cross moved, by way of Amendment, that the matter should be referred to a Committee to inquire what Amendments it is expedient to make in the Act which we seek to alter. I observe that our opponents adhere to calling it "The Lord's Day Act." That is not its title; it is only one of many Acts relating to Sunday, and is very far indeed from being the most important. It is better to call it the Act of 1781. Well, the Committee was appointed, and held sittings during the years '95 and '96, and it reported towards the end of '96. It consisted of 11 Members, and on the two important questions raised by the present Bill it was as nearly divided as a Committee of 11 can be. Five Members voted for the reforms we now propose, and six voted t he other way. There can be only one Report, and that, of course, is in the sense decided by the six and adverse to the Bill; but the actual division of opinion is as I state. Now, my Lords, I must explain the law which harasses me and those for whom I speak; and if I am tedious, as I shall be, I pray you to recollect that the subject is new to most who sit here; that it runs into many subtle legal details, and that without mentioning many of them I cannot make it clear what is the case that we have to present. The Act was passed in the year 1781, and its policy is apparent from its preamble and also from some memoranda left by its author, Bishop Porteus. I will quote a passage from those memoranda. The Bishop says:—
It imposes no other restraint than this— which is, surely, no very great hardship—that no one shall either pay or be paid for talking blasphemy or profaneness in a public room on the Lord's Day. It takes away, in short, no other liberty but the liberty of burlesquing Scripture and making religion a public amusement and a public trade.
And then he adds, with much self-complacency,
which I was inclined to think their Lordships would not consider essential marks of religious freedom.
No, indeed; and if the Act were what the Bishop states it to be, I should not be now speaking at this Table. But I will show to your Lordships what it really is. It enacts that if a room is opened for entertainment or amusement or debate, and if the public are admitted, and if they are admitted for money, the room shall be deemed a disorderly house. Then, having made it a disorderly house, it goes on to attach penalties. The keeper of the house is to forfeit £200 a day; and over and above that he is punishable as the law directs in the case of disorderly houses. The managers or conductor or chairman are each to forfeit £100. Every door-keeper and servant is to forfeit £50. Now your Lordships will see how very far the Act extends beyond its policy as stated in the preamble, and by the Bishop. There is not a word in the enacting part about immorality or blasphemy or profaneness. Any debate, however sober and serious, any amusement, however innocent or refined, given from any motive however good; all are struck at alike. Probably the belief that the Act was striking only at immorality, blasphemy and so forth, explains its savage character; otherwise it is almost inconceivable that the legislature of that day should have classed such innocent practices as I have referred to with odious malefactors, and have saddled them with enormous penalties not capable of mitigation, and for which any common informer might sue. Now I have referred to the expression "disorderly house," because the Act rests upon it, and I will make a few remarks on it and then dismiss the subject. The Committee's Report treats this expression as mere "inappropriate phraseology," and as if it added nothing to the terrors of the Act. But there is the express language of the Act to the contrary. It has only once, so far as I know, been the subject of judicial opinion, and that was in the Leeds litigation to which I shall hereafter refer at greater length. In that case the effect of the words was discussed. It was not necessary to decide it, for the case went upon another point. But in delivering judgment Mr. Justice Mathew expressed the opinion that it subjected the offender to imprisonment and hard labour. In the Court of Appeal the Judges did not repeat that opinion in so many terms, but they did refer
sympathetically to this expression as showing the caution with which it ought to be applied. Of course, anybody is at liberty to think that the Judges are wrong, and so my colleagues seem to have thought, though I do not. But is it fair that persons doing acts perfectly innocent except for an arbitrary law, should be left with these risks hanging over their heads, when the express words of an Act of Parliament, and the only judicial opinions that have been given on it are against them. It is not pleasant to find that you are the victim of "inappropriate phraseology." Indeed it is the very substance of the Act, and not its wording, that is inappropriate. Now, as I admit that if the Act were altered upon this point alone it would not be sufficient, I say no more, but pass on to show how the Act is now being worked. I shall hardly be contradicted when I say that for many years there has been felt profound dissatisfaction with the restrictions, legal and social, which prevailed against the free use of Sunday in the early part of this century. That feeling or movement has been going on all my life, and there is no symptom of its abating; and that for the most obvious reason, because where it has produced practical results they have been satisfactory to the sense of the community. Amongst other results, a desire sprang up for some refined and rational recreation on Sundays, apart from Divine worship or religious exercises; and societies, now well known as Sunday Societies, were called into being to meet that desire. They endeavour to provide such kind of recreation, for all classes, indeed, but mainly for the humbler classes; for those who cannot provide it for themselves, and who are too busy or too tired to enjoy it on other days of the week when provided by others. Some of these societies provide lectures, some music, some pictures, different things. But their mode of working is the same in each case. They have to pay for their machinery, when it is not provided gratuitously as sometimes it is—I mean the hiring of a hall, lighting, cleaning, attendants, a lecturer, singers, and so forth, and perhaps a secretary for correspondence. But the whole labour of arrangement, the whole risk of expense, and often some of the expense itself, falls upon the members of
the societies. None of them receive any profit except so far as the payment of a secretary or clerk, who gives up all his time to it, may be considered profit. Some of them are in such happy circumstances that they can admit their audiences without payment; but more of them find it expedient to make a small charge, and so to eke out their resources. Now it is the Sunday Lecture Societies, to one of which I belong, who are most hit by the recent decision, and are now being the most harassed by it; and it is of them that Ian now about to speak. Our Society clearly fulfils two of the conditions which bring it within the Act of 1781. We admit the public, and for payment, either by purchased tickets or by asking a. shilling at the door. If we open for entertainment, amusement, or debate, we are "a disorderly house." As regards debate, we have a peremptory rule prohibiting even the common and useful practice of asking the lecturer a question, lest the question and answer should lead to debate, or be itself considered a debate. As regards amusements, there have been lawsuits on the meaning of the term, and until within the last three years or so the general impression was that if the main scope and objects of the Society's lectures was a serious one, the law was not broken, although a particular lecture might have its amusing side. But then came the Leeds case. The Leeds Society employed a well-known gentleman called Max O'Rell to deliver a lecture. It was found that the lecture was instructive, but this gentleman has a vein of humour, and he sets his audience laughing. Upon that, certain persons were prosecuted for penalties, and it was laid down at the trial, and again by the Court of Appeal, that it was not the general scope of the Society's operations which determined the character of the lecture-room, but the incidents of a. single lecture. The jury were told that if the lecture was amusing the place was a place of amusement, and therefore "a disorderly house," and they found accordingly. In that particular case, indeed, the suit failed because the plaintiffs had the bad luck to sue the wrong man. But the law was laid down as I state it. Now just see in what a precarious position the Sunday Lecture Societies are placed. A single man may be jocose in a single
lecture, and because he is so, the innocent keeper of the hall, the innocent chairman, the innocent doorkeepers and attendants, who don't know what he is going to say, may all find themselves involved in setting up a disorderly house, and be ruined by penalties; or if the penalties are remitted (as now by subsequent legislation they may be) the same people may be ruined by costs which cannot be remitted. That, my Lords, is the law which we seek to alter. Now who are the people who set the law in motion against practices so innocent in themselves? Not the neighbours, not the people of the towns among whom the societies work. The evidence stands uncontradicted that those people do not oppose Sunday Societies, but favour and support them. There are, however, two societies which exist for the purpose of maintaining prohibitions on the use of Sunday. One is called "The Working, Men's Lord's Day Best Association." It is not a society of working mend; but it exists in perfect good faith for the benefit of working men, mid to promote Sunday rest and decrease Sunday labour. That Society has never attacked Sunday Lecture Societies. Its Secretary, Mr. Hill, a gentleman of long experience and great ability, regrets that Sunday Societies should address themselves to secular subjects on a Sunday, but he does not think that they ought to be interfered with by law. On the contrary, he has himself come forward to propose one of the reforms which this Bill seeks. The other Society, called the Lord's Day Observance Society, is worked on very different principles. It takes the theological ground; that there exist Divine commands against doing certain things on Sundays, our Sunday lectures being one: and they admit of no compromise or relaxation in any enactment which favours their views. It is they, and they alone, who harass the Sunday Lecture Societies. They go about now brandishing the Leeds decision in their favour, and frightening simple people from aiding good work. It happened to me not many weeks ago to be applied to by a friend of mine, a clergyman of the Church of England, who had undertaken to deliver a lecture for one of these societies. Directly that was notified, he received a letter from the Lord's Day Observance Society, warning him that
first the Courts of Law, and secondly the House of Lords, had held that the work of the Sunday Societies was illegal. Now, of course, that was not true, but it was quite enough to frighten an unskilled person—and, indeed, it is perilously near the truth. If the writer had said that a lecturer might, unless he were dull enough, trip over into illegality, and so turn a serious meeting into a disorderly house, and bring ruin on his unwitting employers, then he would have spoken the truth. My Lords, this is not a theoretical grievance; it is one of a very practical kind, and some of its effects are shown in the Committee's Reports. I will read the passage—"Sir Robert Ball has refused to lecture for the Sunday Lecture Society." That is my society, and I need hardly add that Sir Robert Ball was one of the most attractive of our supporters; but he is full of humour and in the habit of making his audiences laugh; and when he learnt that in that way his lecture room became a disorderly house, he refused to lecture any more. I go on with the Report—
Other lecturers have been equally frightened, and proprietors of halls have been vexed, and require guarantees. At Leeds the funds have been cut short. At Liverpool they are afraid of transgressing the law. In Norwich, the fear how the Act may be construed, apparently before the Leeds case, has stopped the society altogether. In Bristol, action has been stopped by the decision. In Newcastle, Dr. Watson says, 'some of them will not preside any more until the Leeds decision is removed. We are carrying on as we did before, but we always have the chance that we may have to fight an action about it; and that is not an agreeable state of affairs. It is not agreeable to be carrying on anything that has been held not to be according to the law.'
My Lords, I have never pretended that it is any very large section of society which is affected by this law. But it is not wholly inconsiderable even in numbers. There are many societies, and the smallest of them counts several thousands of people among its audiences between one year's end and the other. And I claim that those who avail themselves of these lectures are of the more thoughtful and refined members of the classes to which they belong, and that when they come to ask for the mitigation of an oppressive law they are deserving of attention and respect. Now I
pass to the remedies. And first I take that which stands second in our Bill, because it is the simplest. We propose that no process shall be commenced under the Act of 1781 without the consent of some public authority. The Bill specifies the Attorney General. That is my doing, because I followed the example which Lord Cross set some twenty years ago. Mr. Hill, of the Rest Association, proposes a local authority. I myself, and as far as I know the rest of us, are very indifferent as between these two classes of public authority. What we want is to be relieved from the oppression of private irresponsible individuals, who would take it as a compliment if I called them religious fanatics, and we feel confident that if any responsible public official has a voice in the matter, our societies will receive a large, even if not a complete, measure of protection from improper lawsuits. But in order to show the nature of the present issue, I must state what has been done on this subject. By far the most important of the Acts relating to Sunday is that of Charles II., which prohibits ordinary Sunday trading and labour. Some years ago a gentleman, very zealous for the sanctity of Sunday, thought fit to set on foot a number of prosecutions against costermongers and small tradesmen. That created consternation amongst the victims and indignation among their neighbours. And things came to this pass, that a Bench of Magistrates refused to hear cases unless brought before them by some public authority. However illegal their action may have been, it was universally felt that they had good sense on their side. And the matter was taken up in Parliament, not by way censuring the Magistrates, but in order that the course which they had adopted might be sanctioned by law. In the year 1871 the late Lord Aberdare introduced a Bill providing that processes under the Sunday Trading Act should not be instituted except with the sanction of certain local authorities. Lord Aberdare placed his action upon this principle. He said: "The offences are not against individuals, but against the public sense of decency and order; therefore, there should be some authority interposed between the common informer and the Magistrate." It would seem that everybody concurred in that view
and the Bill passed into law. Now, I ask why is that not a precedent for our case? The Committee's Report gives no reason whatever; it merely says that prosecutions for Sunday trading stand upon a wholly different footing from those under our consideration. But I ask why? Where is the distinction? I have not yet heard it stated. I assert that for all purposes affecting the present discussion the two cases stand on precisely the same footing. In both cases there was the indiscreet zeal of an individual causing disturbance of society. In both cases an old law was called out an put to an unexpected and harsh use. In both cases the offence, if any, was not against individuals but against the public sense of decency and order. I ask again, why should not the same remedy be applicable to both cases? Then the Report gives a reason for rejecting this remedy—viz., that the matter has been already dealt with by Parliament. It says, "When the subject was debated in Parliament in 1875, the course deliberately adopted was to pass the Remission of Penalties Act 1875, as a more suitable safeguard against the misuse of the Act of 1781." Well, then, let us see what was done in 1875. In that year the owners of the Brighton Aquarium were sued for penalties under this Act. The Judges who tried the suit, Blackburn and Field, expressed regret that the Act should be put to such abuse; but they found themselves obliged to give judgment against the defendants. Then there was a general desire, in which the Home Secretary, Lord Cross joined, that the penalties should be remitted. But they belonged to the informers, and the Crown bad no power to remit them. He therefore introduced a Bill for that purpose, and his Bill contained the very Attorney-General Clause which we propound in our Bill. But it was introduced very late in the Session, and though remission of penalties was not opposed, the Attorney General Clause was opposed by the Lord's Day Societies. On the 5th of August the present Lord Rookwood moved the Second Reading, and stated that the Bill was now unopposed because the Attorney General Clause was dropped! In the course of the proceedings Lord Cross said, "I do not pretend for a moment that this Bill can be looked upon
as a settlement of the general question." In Committee on the 7th August Lord Rook wood spoke of the Bill as a temporary Measure, and he held out the prospect of a future Bill providing regulations as to costs, and the protection of the Attorney-General's fiat. I can say, from my reading of "Hansard," that this view was taken by all speakers, including Lord Cross. Now, then, I think it will be admitted that to speak of these proceedings as a deliberate adoption of the, remission of penalties by way of more suitable safeguard is a misconception. The adoption was simply owing to pressure of time, and the more suitable safeguard, which would be not only against penalties, but against costs and vexation, was postponed to a more convenient season. Even that is not quite all. Lord Cross is reported to have used these statesmanlike words; that "those ho sought to enforce the Act as in the case of the Brighton Aquarium, were taking the strongest step possible to secure the repeal of the Act." I beg leave to borrow these words, and to say that lose who seek to enforce the Act as in the case of the Leeds Sunday Lecture Society are taking the strongest step possible to secure the repeal of the Act. In fact, the Leeds case is a more glaring instance of improper prosecution than the Brighton case. At Leeds there was a simple lecture, nothing in the way of what is commonly understood as entertainment or amusement. It was given at the expense of the Society, except so far as shillings at the door reimbursed them. The local feeling was so strong in its favour, that when the suits became known, public meetings were called. Contributions were made to meet costs; not by the adherents of the Society alone, but from a number of other quarters: because people felt that the principle of individual liberty was being infringed. When the suit came on it was strongly condemned by the judges and by the jury, who went so far as to recommend the repeal of the Act. And yet the will of the private persons prevailed; the suits were pressed, and they only failed by an accident. One can hardly conceive a stronger illustration of the necessity for a controlling public authority in this matter. My Lords, I submit that if this Bill contained this provision alone, it would call for a Second
Reading; and, even if in Committee, this House should think fit to strike out the other provision, it would remain a valuable reform, and a great safeguard against oppression. We do indeed seek a more complete amendment of the law and relief to ourselves. The second clause of our Bill proposes that the Act shall not apply to lectures or music, if the proceedings are undertaken fur the public good and not for the profit of the promoters. My Lords, I am very sorry that this proposal underwent no discussion in our Committee. I should have been glad of criticism, because though our principle is not new, it is applied to a new subject matter, and it may well be that we have not chosen the best expressions for our object. But the whole discussion was swept away because the majority thought that the law was entirely satisfactory and in accordance with the wishes and sentiments of the English people, and does not require any amendment at all. Now I think I have shown that the law is about as unsatisfactory as any law can well be; that it is uncertain; full of pitfalls; resting on purely arbitrary rules and not on any moral or rational foundation; striking innocent people; terrifying others from doing good work; and, when put in action, exciting hostility in both Houses of the Legislature, and among judges and juries and the neighbours of the people struck at. We do not, however, propose so sweeping a measure as repeal of the law. We propose a new dividing line between that which is legal and that which is illegal, resting on a sounder and deeper principle than the mere chance whether a lecturer does or does not make his audience laugh, or than the distinction between asking a shilling at the door as the price of admission, and letting people inside the door and then asking them for money. I said the principle is not new; and in fact it has been applied by the Legislature many times during the past half century. I will give some instances. Companies formed for purposes not of gain can obtain certain privileges which they value much. If children perform for profits in public, certain stringent provisions are made for their protection; otherwise, if not for profit. If labour is exercised in places for purposes of gain special restrictions are
applied; otherwise, if there is no gain. A person who takes charge of a lunatic for payment is guilty of a misdemeanour unless he complies with certain provisions; if not for payment he is free. The principle on which this criterion rests is a very obvious one; it is that people will not undertake laborious and expensive tasks with no intention of profit, unless it be for the good of their neighbours; and, at least, that no such tasks will be undertaken on a scale injurious to the community. That is not an arbitrary principle, but is founded on the ordinary workings of human nature; and I think that the persistence in it by the Legislature through fifty years without, so far as I know, any disaster or any objection, goes to show that it is a practical and a workable principle. Now, my Lords, I turn to objections founded on the supposed interests and supposed feelings of working men, which, I may observe, are now-a-days invariably called in to bolster up some law not other wise maintainable. And here it is said that if we reform this bad law there will be such an increase of Sunday societies, and with them of Sunday labour, that the principle of Sunday rest will break down. Well, now, in the first place that will not apply to the Attorney General clause. That cannot increase labour. In the second place, the question of Sunday labour is a question of degree. All of us except the Lord's Day Observance Society agree that a great number of persons must work on Sunday in order that others may enjoy a proper Sunday rest. In each case the question is whether the advantages do or do not preponderate over the disadvantages. Now, as regards lectures, the evidence is clear that the amount of paid labour, which I have before indicated, is quite inappreciable; and, of course, we are not talking about the amount of unpaid labour, the labour of love given by the members of the societies. The way in which the increase of labour is brought in is by suggesting that there will be some vast upspringing of Sunday societies all over the land, and so labour will be increased. Well, that is, of course, a conjecture, and I conceive it to be a perfectly wild conjecture. It is founded on the evidence of a single man; a very able man no doubt, I am speaking of Mr. Judge, an
ardent Sunday reformer, to whom we owe a great deal. But he is also a very sanguine man, and, indeed, if he had not been he would hardly have been so successful a reformer. In stating the opinion which is now treated by this Report as of such vast importance, though I do not observe that my colleagues attach any importance to the other opinions of Mr. Judge, he was careful to tell us that lie was giving us his personal opinion only, and not that of the Sunday societies at large. In point of fact the rest of us do not agree with him; we do not expect any growth but the normal growth to which we have become accustomed, and we do not ask to reform the law on that ground, but for the sake of justice, and of relief from oppressive litigation. With regard to music societies it is true that they require more paid labour, because for the most part the performers have to be paid, but that is still small as compared with the benefit conferred, and it is very small indeed as compared with traffic labour, with domestic labour, and other kinds of labour not impeded by law. I feel sure that this labour argument would never have been brought forward if the main opposition to Sunday reform were not grounded rather on sentiment than on any sober calculation of what is good for society. Well, then, it is said that there is a great amount of feeling among the artisan classes against any alteration of this law. My Lords, I deny that there is any feeling against the work of Sunday societies, or in favour of the law which impedes it. If there were it must have been shown; but, as I have said, we have evidence that it has not been shown, and that the societies are largely attended and supported by working men. There is a feeling against destroying the general principle of general rest on Sundays. With that feeling the members of Sunday societies sympathise as heartily as anybody. Our contention is that we do not impede but aid Sunday rest; that we give a large amount of mental recreation with a very small expenditure of paid labour. It is that feeling in favour of a day of rest which is represented as though it were an opinion on the point now in issue. My Lords, we were very familiar with that method of controversy with regard to the opening of museums. In that case
sweeping assertions were made and imposing petitions were got up, but when they came to be tested it was found that they were not opinions formed on the point in issue by any organised bodies or any accredited representatives of the working men; and though the illusion prevailed for a time it has now passed away. In the same way witnesses were brought before our Committee who protested in general terms against the relaxation of the law. But when they were brought to the point, when they were shown what the present issue really was, when they were asked whether there were any working men who wished to prevent other working men from spending a shilling in order to hear a lecture on Sunday evening no one could say that such a man existed. I was surprised when the majority of the Committee adopted that part of the Report which rests upon the evidence of an American gentleman named Nash. He was so clearly speaking, partly of American practices not governed by our laws, and wholly of the ordinary commercial trade in amusements, that in his case I did not even think it worth while to do as I had done with other witnesses, and bring him down to the point at issue. His evidence in the present matter is worth absolutely nothing. And then there is a petition put in, which the Report calls a weighty petition, from some 700 persons connected with amusement industries. It was put in after the evidence was closed; nobody was or could be examined upon it, and we have no means except from the petition itself of telling what was in the minds of those who signed it, or how far any one of them knew what is the point now in controversy. But all the petitioners say is that they—
hope that the law which prohibits the opening of places of amusement and entertainment for money payment may be upheld, so that the 500,000 persons employed in the amusement industry may be protected from the burden of Sunday labour.
Well, surely it is clear that these petitioners were, if they thought at all, thinking of the commercial trade in amusements for profit and not of this law at all. It is impossible that they could have used such language if they had present to their minds that the question is whether a serious lecture room
shall be turned into a disorderly house because the lecturer is funny, or because the providers of the lecture take money at the doors instead of asking for it inside; or whether the test of legality shall be the reasonable and intelligible one of motive or some of those miserable trivialities and technicalities which I have been painfully endeavouring to make clear to your Lordships. My Lords, we are not proposing to relax any of the Sunday trading laws. Those who trade in amusements will be left by us exactly as they stand now. We are not proposing to relax any of the laws under which amusements are regulated for every day in the week, Sunday included. We are not erecting Sunday societies into trade societies. We are proposing a moderate cautious step to avoid oppressive misuse of a Statute never intended to affect such work as ours, and to save the scandal which always conies of oppression. I move the Second Reading of the Bill.
*THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
rose to ask their Lordships not to give a Second Reading to the Bill. The noble Lord had with characteristic clearness mid care set forth the facts as to the existing law, and the Amendments he would desire to see made in it; and if he thought that the noble Lord had in his speech really covered the whole ground, his own opposition to the Bill would lie greatly diminished. But he did not think the noble Lord had done so. He might, perhaps, be pardoned for a personal allusion to himself. He could imagine that outside the House, and possibly even within its walls, the feeling might find expression that it was an obvious and natural thing that Bishops should oppose Measures of this kind. There was supposed to be in Bishops an ingrained Conservatism of an obstructive sort which incapacitated them from looking fairly at the two sides of any question in which religion was involved. Such was not, he hoped, his own plight, and evidence of the fact might be found in the part he had taken on this question, often, he was afraid, in opposition to most of his right rev. brethren. For more than ten years he had been strenuous and perhaps somewhat prominent in his advocacy of the opening of free libraries, museums, and picture galleries on Sunday. He did not know whether it would be out of place to mention that twice within the last 700 three years the Sunday Society, with full knowledge of his opinions, did him the honour to ask him to become its president; and although he did not feel himself able to accept that honour, he might claim at all events, to speak as one not altogether out of touch with some of the aims and endeavours of the society. It seemed to him that the religious question, though he should be very far from ignoring it, was not mainly to the forefront in this matter. At any rate it was not distinctively on religious grounds that he opposed the Bill. The noble Lord had, rightly, no doubt, from his point of view, dwelt almost entirely on the lectures that would be given if the Bill became law. The lectures, however, were a comparatively small matter. They imposed little labour and involved little cost. The noble Lord had not dwelt on the words in his Bill, which would render legal on Sundays the performance of music, for money payment, and he would like to show their Lordships of what extension that phrase was capable. His belief was that if the Bill became law there would be an enormous increase of Sunday labour imposed on those who, while they appeared to undertake it voluntarily, would be practically compelled to undertake it, owing to the overcrowded state of the musical profession, and the consequent competition for engagements. He believed that such a change in the law must lead to abuses of a grave character, notwithstanding the provision that no entertainment should be productive of pecuniary profit to the promoters. On this point he wished to refer to the evidence of a gentleman who, more even than the noble Lord, more indeed than any living man had been identified with this particular movement—and was in fact, its chief promoter —Mr. Mark Judge. That gentleman said that, in his opinion, if the existing restrictions were repealed,—instead of a dozen or twenty societies, we shall have these societies all over the country.And a little later he said that unless the restrictions which he recommended, and which, be it carefully observed, were not 701 inserted in this Bill, as to registration, etc., were stringently enforced—I cannot see, for the life of me, how you are to prevent any nigger entertainment or any other entertainment going all over the country, and the ordinary amusements of a week-day being continued into the Sunday, which we do not want.The noble Lord had told the House that they were safeguarded against these perils by the provision in the Bill that lectures and musical entertainments should not be undertaken for pecuniary profit to the promoters. But that safeguard would not have the effect the noble Lord claimed for it; for Mr. Judge had in his evidence very clearly pointed out how easy it would be for the nominal promoters of entertainments to be apparently, and perhaps really, free from personal pecuniary profit, and yet by the payment of the performers to make their entertainments such as the noble Lord had deprecated, such, namely, as were really carried on for profit. He had no hesitation ill saying that after weighing the whole evidence with the utmost care, and he hoped, without bias, he hail been led to the conclusion that the safeguard the noble Lord suggested would not prevent entertainments from being promoted which were totally different from anything their Lordships could desire to countenance. Who was, in such case, to ferret out who were the persons gaining pecuniary profit from an entertainment? The task of doing so was almost impossible. Important evidence was given on this subject before the Select Committee, and especially by one gentleman, who was engaged as a public entertainer and vocal comedian, Mr. Nash, who, on behalf of the profession, and especially on behalf of the huge body of instrumental musicians, deprecated in the strongest terms any interference with the existing law. Mr. Nash said:—In my visits to America, professionally, I have had considerable experience of so-called 'sacred concerts,' and I fear that similar results to those I have witnessed there would follow the establishment of Sunday concerts here. In New York the law does not interfere with sacred' concerts, and so, under the sacred cloak, it is possible to give a complete variety entertainment at the theatres. For instance, I have, I am sorry to say, appeared at no less than three theatres in New York on a single Sunday night in a regular variety show, to which the public were invited 702 in newspaper advertisements and bill boards announcing a grand 'sacred concert.' Not an item of sacred music was produced, except a short overture by the orchestra, introducing an excerpt from Mozart's Twelfth Mass, and a solo, with variations on the cornet, 'Rousseau's Dream,' all the rest of the programme being of the rollocking variety customary in the variety show. There was the serio-comic singer, the musical moke, the nigger team, the Irish comic, the Dutch comic, and your humble servant with his laughing songs and burlesque cornet solos; also the Sisters Powderpuffe and a trapeze performance. The concerts were given in no hole and corner, but at first-class theatres, specially let for the night.Such were the so-called sacred concerts which were conducted on the other side of the Atlantic, under auspices similar to those under which these entertainments, if sanctioned, would be given here.
*THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
was unable to state exactly the terms of the American laws, but he believed they differed in different states. Mr. Nash, be might add, explained that musical performers who worked for seven days in the week in America earned no more than would be given for six days, and he deprecated with all his might the change which their Lordships were being asked to sanction. A petition signed by 734 members of the dramatic and musical professions had been sent to the Select Committee expressing the petitioners' hope that the existing law would be maintained so that the 500,000 persons "employed in the amusement industry" might be protected from the burden of Sunday labour. To this petition the greatest weight ought to be attached. ["Hear, hear!"] No one, of course, could defend the phraseology of the existing law. That a place where lectures were delivered on a Sunday or music was performed should be called "a disorderly house" was ludicrous, and he would willingly support a Measure introduced for the purpose of getting rid of terms of that kind. The noble Lord had dwelt with legitimate indignation and scorn upon the use of such a phrase in such a connection. But be might point out that this was not the only old Act of Parliament in which the phraseology used was ludicrously out of place, while the substantial enactment was wholesome. He would give a single instance. Some of their Lordships, and more frequently 703 their wives, attended bazaars at which there were raffles. Did their Lordships know that those who were concerned in any way in such raffles could be prosecuted under the Act of George IV., and made to pay a forfeit of £50, and were to be deemed "rogues and vagabonds"? [Laughter.] The words of the Act were—If any person shall sell any ticket… in any lottery… except such as shall be authorised by Act of Parliament… he shall for every such offence forfeit the sum of fifty pounds, and shall also be deemed a rogue and a vagabond, and shall be punished as such in the manner hereinafter described.The language applied to lectures and other entertainments held for money payment on Sundays was, therefore, not the only hard language which the Statute Book contained. With regard to the Sunday Society's action in favour of opening museums, and the part he had himself taken in supporting it, he would point out that the supporters of the society had frequently declared that the proposals were confined to places of public resort belonging to the nation, and that there was all the difference in the world between private places of amusement and those in which, as National property, no money could be asked for with a view to anybody's profit. The change which the supporters of the Bill advocated might conceivably become advisable at a future time, but it certainly ought not to be introduced unless there was a great mass of public opinion supporting it, and at present there was no evidence of any such support. ["Hear, hear!"] He believed that if public meetings were to be held throughout the country, it would be found that there was an enormous preponderance of opinion against the change. The best worked Sunday lecture society was that carried on in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It had the advantage of the superintendence and management of Dr. Spence Watson—than whom no more popular leader could be found. Well, he had laid that evening upon the Table of their Lordships' House, a petition signed by nearly 2,000 inhabitants of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, deprecating in the strongest terms legislation of this kind. The petition was signed by the Member for the city of Newcastle, who presumably knew the bent of his constituents' opinion, and 704 by many other leading men. The Mayor of Newcastle had supported the Lord's Day Society in its protests. If it was the case that at Newcastle, where the work of the Sunday League had been so admirably carried on, public opinion was against this proposed change; might he not assume that the same views would be found on inquiry to prevail in the country generally if the proposal were submitted to the arbitrament of the popular voice? The truth was, this movement, well-intentioned as it was, was the movement of a handful of people. He did not deny that the lectures given were good, or that the desire for them was legitimate and wholesome in itself. What he feared was its indirect but certain consequence. Those legitimate needs could be supplied by voluntary effort through the agencies of clubs or societies, and their Lordships ought not to be asked on such insufficient grounds to remove the barrier of Sunday observance which was so necessary for the protection of people who could not protect themselves. This Bill, for the sake of removing a little grievance, would do a great wrong, and therefore he asked their Lordships to reject it. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *EARL COWPER,
as a member of the Committee which considered this subject, desired to say a few words upon it. The right rev. Prelate need not have begun his speech by expressing a fear lest some imputation might be cast upon him on account of the line that he took. The right rev. Prelate's opinions were known to be so just and liberal and conscientious that such an idea would never occur to any Member of that House. He felt sure that the right rev. Prelate's intentions were as pure as his speech was eloquent. Neither the right rev. Prelate nor anybody else who had spoken or written about this subject, could say that the object of the promoters of this measure was anything but a good one. No one had ventured to say that the lectures given by the societies referred to did anything but good, and he did not think that anyone had said that even the musical part had bad results. What the opponents of this Bill said in effect was that the present law prohibited a number of objectionable things, and also prevented the accomplishment of things which were good and beneficial, 705 but they were unwilling to repeal the law because, if it were done, they believed that whilst things which were innocent and good would be permitted, things which were bad would also be permitted. But surely it was a confession of inability to legislate and of weakness to say that it was impossible to frame a Measure which would sanction what was beneficial, whilst preventing what was harmful. In his opinion the Bill before their Lordships, with a few alterations, would do exactly what was wanted. He believed that originally the existing law was passed for the purpose of stopping atheistical and revolutionary discourses. He did not think anyone would defend the Act now on that ground. Certainly Atheists and Anarchists were energetic people, and generally they were fanatical. They were too fond of airing their views to be inclined to charge their audiences large sums of money to hear them speak and deliver their pernicious opinions. Therefore, prohibiting the charging of money at the door would not stop any of those gentlemen. It was said that if they once allowed payment to be made at the door it would be impossible to avoid going very much further, to prevent music-halls from being opened on a Sunday evening, to prevent theatrical entertainments from being established, and musicians and actors from being deprived of their one day of rest. It was difficult to imagine that this Bill would have the effect contemplated. It was asked, "How are you to find out that no illicit profit is being made by the promoters of an entertainment?" It would be very easy to do so, no profit worth mentioning would be forthcoming to induce unscrupulous managers surreptitiously to form a company. The question would probably come before a jury, and nothing would be easier than for the jury to find out whether this was the case or not by examining the gross receipts which were received at any of those entertainments, the expense of hiring the room, and the payment to the lecturer. A good deal had been said about the employment of musicians and that these gentlemen opposed the Bill for fear that they would be worked to death. But there was nothing to oblige musicians to give their services against their will. As a matter of fact, there 706 was more music heard in London on a Sunday morning than on any other morning of the week, and as far as fatigue went it did not matter whether it was in Church or in a public hall. Musicians had already temptations to sing and play on a Sunday, and if they refrained from singing or playing they did so because they preferred their day of rest. No musician would be in the power of a master who would be able to say, "If you won't work for me seven days a week you shan't work at all." The idea, therefore, that musicians would be overworked was a bugbear. Then it was said that it would be very difficult starting with the intention to give elevating and serious music, not to gradually degenerate until the music became more profane and perhaps frivolous. The plan, however, of only allowing performances by companies pledging themselves not to make a profit would perhaps be sufficient to obviate this possibility. But music was only one part of the question referred to in the Bill. If it were really thought that music-halls would be established indirectly through its operation, and that there were not sufficient safeguards, perhaps it would be as well to drop music altogether and confine the Bill to lectures and addresses on literature, science and art. He could not imagine any one objecting to anything which would relieve the intense tedium of Sunday afternoons in our large towns. This tedium was felt by many who were not indifferent to religion and who attended church regularly in the morning; while other members of the community were too often driven into the public-house or to other haunts of dissipation. If he thought that, as a result of the Bill, hundreds of these associations would be formed, and that bands of negro minstrels would be established for Sunday entertainment, he would not be in favour of the Measure. The right rev. Prelate had not even alluded to the third and most important clause, and he trusted that even if the rest of the Bill had to go the clause requiring the consent of the Attorney General would be accepted.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I think that the wording of the Bill points out its weakness in such a way as to leave no possibility of escape from the danger that must attend it if passed into law. It is quite plain that the Bill 707 contemplates the possibility of associations being formed for the purpose of Sunday lectures and Sunday entertainments of a character which would be altogether inconsistent with the character of Sunday. We have to consider what is the check that is to be put on these entertainments. The check is that these entertainments and amusements are to be undertaken by the promoters with a view to the public good, and not by way of trade or the pecuniary profit of the promoters. I should have thought, after our experience of the way in which trade penetrates into every conceivable channel in which there is room for it, that this would be a sufficient warning to us all that it is not possible to rely on such a check. It is certain, if your Lordships pass this Bill, that there will be no real power to check the gradual, I do not say the immediate declension of all those entertainments of whatever kind into the form which this part of the Bill is intended to prevent. I do not think that any one who knows anything of ordinary human nature, particularly with regard to the performance of music, where the competition is so exceedingly keen, can fail to acknowledge that it is hopeless to suppose, if once an opening be given, that it will not be taken advantage of. We are told on authority which cannot easily be set aside, that in, many cases the employers of musicians would positively decline to employ those who refused to sing on a Sunday, and who confined themselves only to the other six days of the week. There are so many persons seeking employment of this kind that, if musicians refused to engage for seven days, employers would find many others ready without hesitation to take the plates of those who preferred to engage only for six days. Everybody knows what is the effect of saying, "If this is to be done it must be done gratuitously; if you do this good for your fellow-creatures it must be at your own cost or of those who support and assist you; but you must not make a profit by inviting people to pay for admission." There at once you have a line that can be drawn unmistakably and can be enforced; but if you break that line and say payment may be taken, there is no definite line to be taken, for forthwith there enters the 708 question what is profit and how much money may be taken. People take trouble, and are they to be paid? It is no more than fair, it will be said, that they should be paid for their trouble. It is very easy for promoters to plead that they do not want profit, but only reasonable payment for services, and it will always be possible for those who do want to make a profit to persuade good people to be promoters who do not want to make a profit, and to make their profit under that shield. I mention these things as instances to show the ways in which such a provision could be evaded, and I have not the slightest doubt it would be more and more evaded as time went on. Of course, it is quite true that just at first you might succeed in keeping to what you are here saying, but to say in the long run this provision will keep out profit-makers appears to me so unfounded a dream that I wonder how it could ever have been put into the Bill at all. One definite line you can lay down, but if you draw any other you will find you cannot enforce compliance with it. One thing that would make the Bill tolerable would be, instead of the words "provided the proceedings are undertaken with a view to the public good," to substitute sonic suck words as "if no payment whatever were allowed to be made by those who attended such entertainment," then you would know what you are doing. This is, my Lords, a very real, a very serious question; it affects poor people in a way it does not affect men in our own rank of life. It does not touch us, but it touches poor people very closely. Among the poorer people those who are religiously inclined are very strongly opposed to such a Bill as this. I have been flooded with letters from artisans in all parts of England, begging me to oppose this. Bill, and I know enough of working men, certainly in London, to be quite certain that very considerable numbers of them who are really religious people would very earnestly deprecate the passing of any such Bill as this. But I would not rest opposition on what religious men might feel, though, of course, that is an important consideration; there is a real danger that if the amusement lovers gain the day the money lovers will certainly fol- 709 low, and the observance of Sunday as a day of rest will be very seriously imperilled indeed by the passing of such a Bill as this. I hope that the House, looking at all the considerations that ought to weigh with us in such a. case as this, will agree with the right rev. Prelate who has spoken, and pause until they have obtained something like a general consensus of public opinion among the classes that would really be affected in a most serious manner before passing such a Measure. I do not object to Sunday lectures as such, I am not considering whether any other Bill might not do what is wanted; but we have to consider what we have before us, and I do think that to allow such work as this to go on, and for payment, will break down the observance of Sunday more than anything else that can possibly be done.
§ *LORD FARRER
said the right rev. Prelate seemed to be extremely anxious for a different line to be drawn than that in the clause to which he had referred. His objections had been answered in anticipation by Lord Hobhouse, who pointed out how in many Acts such a line as was proposed had been drawn. Of one Act he could himself speak—the Joint Stock Companies Act—wherein a line of distinction was drawn as between associations carried on for profit and those that were not. The principle of laying down such a line had been recognised. But the right rev. Prelate was equally unhappy as to the existing line, and was anxious that it should be so laid down that nobody should pay any money, and he proposed that that should be inserted in the Bill. But if he did that he would make a large alteration in the present law. The law provided that no money should be taken at the doors, but though money was not taken at the doors, it would be taken in other ways, and was so taken. In the case of the Albert Hall, first of all money for admission was taken at the doors, but opinion being taken, and this declared to be illegal, money was taken for admission to a certain enclosure, but doubt being thrown on the legality of that practice, what was now done was, money was taken for seats and programmes, and with that money performers were paid. ["Hear, hear!"] And he believed exactly the same thing was being done in the parks. The right rev. 710 Prelate would find some difficulty in drawing the line he had indicated. He was anxious to prevent musicians and others from being asked to perform for money on Sunday, but how many were now paid for performing on Sundays in cathedral and other choirs, in the Albert Hall, and in the parks? The whole of the speech had been directed to this clause, and payment for profit. If a prosecution were to be instituted by a public authority, that authority would look into the question whether profit was made by promoters or not. He would not object to the safeguard of a licence before a performance could be given, and he believed that such would be obtained wherever it was a respectable performance under conditions that would enable the licence to be withdrawn should it be abused. The point was one that could easily be met. At the time when Lord Cross introduced the Attorney General into his Bill, there was not that development of local authority now existing. Now every district, every town, every parish had its local authority, representing the feeling of the place, and that feeling would be expressed at once. When the subject of music in the parks was before the London County Council, the question of what music should be played was discussed. Those who knew most about music were against making, any distinction, because they knew that a tune played in one time might be a merry jig, and in another time might sound like a psalm or hymn tune. The Council adopted a resolution preventing bands from playing dance music. He voted against it because he thought it foolish and illogical, but he was not so sure but that it was a sensible resolution to carry out the intention that the music should not encourage vulgar dancing on Sundays. The right rev. Prelate said he would not enter into the religious question, but that question did enter into prosecutions under the Act. There was striking evidence given before the Committee by a representative of the Lord's Day Observance Society. It was the evidence of a man who honestly expressed his convictions, but it was the evidence of a, man who would condemn the way in which almost all their Lordships spent Sunday. He would not allow them to amuse themselves; he would have them only go to church, visit sick friends, and matters of that kind. His 711 evidence would show what sort of a man he was, fully believing in his own Divine inspiration and knowledge of Divine law, and he would readily put in force this or any other Act against any amusement on Sunday, however innocent, however much it was desired. There was the evil of the Act—it was a two-edged weapon in the hands of those who did not know how to wield it. Whether the Attorney General or some other functionary or local authority should authorise a prosecution was a question for Committee. The right rev. Prelate had referred to petitions and letters he had received from innumerable people, but it was a. pity that similar evidence had not been produced before the Committee.
§ *LORD FARRER
said he perfectly understood, but he thought it a great pity that the Committee had not the benefit of that or of similar evidences. So far from the evidence given to the Committee supporting the statement twice repeated in the Report of the majority that the present law was in accordance with the feeling of the English people, there was not a tittle of evidence given to them to that effect. No such evidence was produced, because no such evidence could be produced. On the contrary, he himself asked every witness from places in which these amusements had been given, what was the feeling in his town about these amusements, and the universal answer was perfectly favourable—that everybody liked them and wished for them. Mr. Justice Mathew, in the Leeds prosecution, condemned the Act in the strongest way, and said he thought the prosecution was probably brought only with the view of making a case for repealing the Act, so unjust and so hard did he think it. The jury added to their finding for the plaintiff a rider that they thought the Act ought to be repealed. Was it a state of the law, which they thought it desirable to continue, that every Judge and every jury which had to do with the Act condemned it and enforced it reluctantly? It was nonsense to say that this Act was in accordance with the wishes of the English people or with common sense or with reason. For Heaven's sake let them send this Bill to 712 a Committee and there let them thresh it out and see what safeguards were necessary in order to make it work as they all wished it to work.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
felt he must express himself as strongly as he was permitted by the Rules of the House in opposition to some of the remarks which had fallen from the noble Lord who had just spoken. The noble Lord seemed to consider that there was in this question of the Sabbath no religious feeling at all on behalf of the working classes. He was quite certain the noble Lord was entirely wrong upon that question. He did not think there was really any genuine desire, on behalf of the mass of the working classes, in favour of this Bill. The only class he believed who would really benefit from this Bill were the gentlemen who lectured on Sundays. Many of these lectures were called "secular," but, having listened to some of them, he found that they were generally the occasion upon which religious and political questions were discussed—the former from the point of view of atheism and the latter from the point of view of revolutionism. Although the noble Lord opposite might consider that the question of the Sabbath was all nonsense, he ventured to say that it was not nonsense from the point of view of the working classes themselves. They could not afford amusement, as it had been rather euphemistically called, without employing labour. It was all very well for some noble Lords to say that they wished to be relieved from the tedium of a Sunday afternoon, but what was far more important was that the mass of the working classes should be secured a holiday on Sunday. Those who were to afford this amusement, the musicians and others, represented the very trades which were not organised, and, as had been very ably pointed out by the right rev. Archbishop, it would come to this—that those men who declined to perform on the Sunday would probably lose their employment. He did not want to enter into niceties as to whether they could or could not get out of the question of profit, or as to whether the Attorney General or a local authority was to administer the question. All he would say was that he believed that it was to the interest of the working classes that the present position of the Sunday should 713 remain as it was. He believed there could not be a greater misfortune to this country and to the working classes than that they should, by legislation, attempt to introduce the Continental Sunday. He should oppose this and any similar Bills which he thought would tend in that direction.
§ *LORD NORTON
said Lord Farrer attempted to define what were the sort of amusements or entertainments that should be legal on Sunday. What could be more absurd than to attempt to make any such definition? It was the general principle that must guide them, and would guide magistrates, in dealing with this subject. What did the Bill propose? It proposed, to a certain extent, to state what kind of entertainments might be allowed, lectures, music, and so on, if for the public good. Who was to judge of the public good? A great many people thought that prizefighting was for the public good. They might have an Attorney General, if he was to be the person to decide the question, who might say that it was a very good mode of training men in manliness and courage, and that that would be a very fair kind of entertainment for Sunday. He could not quite agree with the right rev. Prelate, who said he did not take this question as a religious question. He thought it was a distinctly religious question, and nothing else but a religious question. It was the wish of this country that Sunday should be observed as a holy day, and should not be profaned, and it was simply upon that ground that they maintained the existing law. The question of introducing labour on Sunday afforded no argument at all. Did the noble Lord (Lord Hobhouse) mean to say that that might be taken as a test of what was lawful on Sunday and what was unlawful? That argument could be stated against every Sunday service, particularly now, when Sunday services were very ornate, and when large sums of money were paid for musicians, and a great deal of labour was occasioned by Sunday services. Then there was the argument of profit. A great many services on Sunday, certainly with the Dissenters in lecture rooms, were done distinctly for profit. It was no test of what was a lawful occupation on Sunday whether it caused labour, or whether it was done for profit. The sole feeling of the country upon this question 714 of the Sunday generally was that they did not wish to introduce the mode of observing that day which was common abroad. By introducing little definitions of what might be considered lawful and what might be considered unlawful—definitions which were of no validity whatever—they were introducing the thin edge of the wedge which would end in the Paris Sunday—in horse racing, in theatres, and other amusements of that kind which they now considered, and which he hoped they would always consider, as unsuitable to the sacred nature of Sunday. He thought the decision of Lord Cross's Report was the right view to take—that though there might be phraseology in the existing law which ought to be altered, the general effect of the law as it now stood, and as it would be carried out, was in accordance with the wishes of the country.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
desired to explain his reasons for supporting the Bill. If he thought the Measure was likely to create a serious breach in the treatment of the Lord's Day in this country, and to cause its assimilation, as it was feared, to the mode in which men occupied themselves in many other countries, he should certainly not be in favour of its Second Reading. He agreed that this was a matter which very deeply concerned the working classes. He thought that so much the case when Bills were proposed in that House for the opening of museums on Sunday, that he never voted for their Second Reading, not because he thought there was any harm in opening museums, but because it seemed to him that it was a matter which closely affected the working classes of the country, and that there might be reason for their apprehension as to the effect of even such an alteration upon the amount of labour which might ultimately conic to be done upon what had been a day of rest. He sympathised with their apprehensions, although, at the same time, he confessed he did not entertain the same view as they did upon the subject. He was assured that the opposition of the working classes was intense and widespread, but the division in the other House, and what had happened since, showed that he was wrongly informed. He did not think any one was really competent to say what the views of the working classes were, but 715 he confessed that, in his opinion, nothing would be more likely to lead to the mischief which noble Lords had apprehended than to leave the law as it now stood. ["Hear, hear!"] If they left the enforcement of the law to whoever chose to enforce it, something would happen one of these days which would make it impossible to maintain this law a day longer. In the Leeds case the jury appended to their verdict a rider to the effect that they thought the law ought to be repealed. In the long run men would not be got to find a verdict in a case which was against the general sense of right and justice. This law was administered at the will of irresponsible individuals. If these entertainments and lectures ought not to be given, let them all be stopped, or leave it to some public official or body, in whom they could repose confidence, to put the Act into operation. Of all things the one which was most undesirable was that it should be left to the caprice of a common informer, to put the Act in force against whom he pleased. He hated the common informer, whom he regarded as a relic of a barbarous age. One reason why he should vote for the Bill, if there were no other, was that it contained a clause which fettered the common informer, and left the enforcement of the law to the discretion of a public official. There was a precedent for it in the Bill of the late Lord Aberdare. He did not care whether they put the power in the hands of the Attorney General or of a local authority his desire was that prosecutions should not be left to the common informer. He did not think there would be any danger in the matter. It was said that one Attorney General might be more ready to enforce the law than another; but what was the state of things now? It depended upon the common informer whether the law should be enforced, and as far as he could see there had been no principle in the enforcement of the law. At Leeds there was a lecture of a very 716 proper kind. Those who originated the lecture were beyond reproach or suspicion, and yet they were prosecuted. Notoriously a number of other lectures of no superior qualities, promoted by people of no superior merits, were left unchecked and unfettered. He objected to that sort of law, and to that sort of enforcement of it. As regarded the second clause, ho admitted there was a good deal to be said as to the possibility of maintaining it without evasion. He did not shut his eyes to the arguments used by the right rev. Prelate, and the most rev. Prelate on that point, and he thought the clause would require very grave and serious consideration. Personally he should like to see introduced in the Bill, even if the second clause were omitted, a distinct repeal of the provision subjecting the person who gave an entertainment of this kind to the liabilities of a person who kept a disorderly house, and in expressing these views he maintained that he was not showing himself in the slightest degree unfriendly to the maintenance of the Lord's day. [Cheers.]
THE ARCHBISHOP or YORK
said he did not think that amongst those who opposed the Bill there was one who would not be willing to see some modification or amendment of the Statute as it at present stood. If the noble Lord had confined his Bill to the clause requiring some local authority to sanction prosecutions under it, he did not believe a voice would have been raised against it.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
said he was speaking of those who were opposing the Bill here. It was because of the far-reaching consequences of the earlier clause of the Bill that they felt it necessary to oppose the Second Reading. He trusted the noble Lord would yet see it wise to withdraw the Bill, to present to them another Measure really amending the Statute and not making it null, and providing an authority to sanction prosecutions if prosecutions must take place. The consequences of the present Bill would be most serious and disastrous, and he believed the provisions of 717 the Measure were completely opposed to the feelings of the working people of the country.
§ *LORD HOBHOUSE
believed that if they could pass a Bill containing the Attorney General clause alone, a very large number of those who supported the Bill would be willing for the present, and it might be for ever, to drop the rest of the Bill. If that were the understanding, he was quite ready to accept the olive branch which the most rev. Prelate had held out.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
asked what was meant by "present?" Did it mean next Session or the Session after? With all respect to the most rev. Prelate, he did not agree with the suggestion just made. [A laugh.] He was anxious to say a word or two upon the subject of the Bill because he could not help thinking that a good deal had been said about something that was not in the Bill. His noble Friend who introduced the Bill argued against the existence of the Act of Charles II. as well as against the Act he proposed to amend. The noble Lord's whole argument depended upon the right of everybody to do what they liked on Sunday, and Lord Herschell wanted to get rid of the common informer. They were not discussing the general reform of the Statute, and the existence of the common informer.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
said he was speaking in favour of the clause, which put a check on the common informer.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said his noble Friend objected generally to the common informer. But if they passed this Bill they would not get rid of the common informer. All they would do would be to prevent the common informer interfering in this particular matter. He was glad to see Lord Fairer was in his place. He denied that any conclusion could be drawn from the evidence of the witnesses or that the evidence of the working classes was all in favour of this Bill. What was the Question their Lordships had to decide? This Bill pleased nobody. Those who were anxious for a repeal of the law were entirely dissatisfied with a clause still leaving it open to the common informer to interpose, and he thought they were quite right. He could understand a repeal of the law, 718 but this Bill was not for that. In fact, if ever there was a Bill produced calculated to promote litigation and render uncertain what the law was, he thought his noble Friend had accomplished it. There was no subject the discussion of which was excluded, for, after enumerating several, the Bill added, "or any kindred subject." Reference had been made to the opinion of Mr. Justice Mathew. This was a question of policy, and it was not for a judge to express an opinion on any Act. His duty was to direct the jury as to the law; it was not for him to decide as to the propriety or impropriety of an Act of Parliament. Lord Farrer had referred to "other judges." He did not know who they were, but, even were it true that all the judges entertained the noble Lord's view, this was a matter which Parliament must determine for itself. The learned judges were not in a better position to form a judgment than any one of their Lordships. If their Lordships passed this amending Bill it seemed to him that confusion would be worse confounded. Ho did not deny some of what had been said as to the state of the law. Any harsh enforcement of the law would probably cause its repeal, but he thought that those who were anxious to keep Sunday as it was would not harshly enforce the law. He hoped their Lordships would reject the Bill.
§ The House divided:—Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 50.719
|Ripon, M.||Glenesk, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Heneage, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Herries, L.|
|Cowper, E.||Herschell, L.|
|Haddington, E. [Teller.]||Hobhouse, L. [Teller.]|
|Kimberley, E.||James, L.|
|Morley, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount Earl.)|
|Strafford, E.||Monkswell, L.|
|Oxenbridge, V.||Northington, L. (L. Henley.)|
|Belper, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Boston, L,.||St. Levan, L.|
|Burghclere, L.||Thring,, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Dorchester, L.||Welby, L.|
|Farrer, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Lichfield, L. Bp.|
|Halsbury, L. (L. Chancellor)||London, L. Bp.|
|St. Albans, L. Bp.|
|York, L. Abp.||Winchester, L. Bp.|
|Cross, V. (L. Privy seal).||Ashcombe, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Abergavenny, M.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Colchester, L.|
|Hertford, M.||Colville of Culross, L.|
|Douglas, L. (E. Home)|
|Belmore, E.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|de Montalt, E.||Hampton, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Hillingdon, L.|
|Morton, E.||Ker, L. (Mr. Lothian.)|
|Nelson, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Orford, E.||Lawrence, L. (Teller.)|
|Portsmouth, E.||Lovaine, L. (E. Percy.)|
|Romney, E||Napier, L.|
|Stanhope, E. (Teller.)||Norton, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Poltimore, L.|
|Yarborough, E.||Robartes, L.|
|Shute, L. (E. Barrington )|
|Portman, V.||Silchester, L. (E. Long-ford).|
|Gloucester and Bristol, L. Bp.||Ventry, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative; Bill to be read a Second time this day six months.