HL Deb 12 July 1904 vol 137 cc1327-9


Order of the day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, in asking your Lordships to read this Bill a second time it will not be necessary for me to take up your time with many remarks. A Bill of the same nature passed last year for Scotland, and the year before for this country, the object of all being to put an end to the so-called clubs which are really formed solely for drinking purposes. It has often happened that a man who has been refused a spirit licence, either on the ground of his career or the unsuitability of his premises, has promptly converted his premises into a club, with the result that there is established an unlicensed, irregular, and ill-conducted place of public entertainment. In order to prevent this state of things this Bill provides that all clubs shall be registered, that the registrar shall be the clerk of petty sessions, who shall enter the certificate of registration on this register, and that any application for registration shall be accompanied by a certificate signed by two magistrates of the district, and by two copies of all the rules of the club; also, notice must be given in a newspaper circulating in the district in which the application is made. These rules are set forth in Clause 4 of the Bill. I need not go through them beyond mentioning that they are practically identical with the rules in the Act relating; to Scotland which was passed last year, with one exception, to which I attach some importance; and which I will mention in a moment.

Objections can be raised before the Court of petty sessions by the Constabulary or the Metropolitan Police in Dublin, or by anyone resident in the district, on grounds set forth in Clause 5, and the magistrates, after considering both the application and the objections, can either give or withhold the certificate. Again, in the case of a renewal, the same course takes place, the same objections can be made, and the magistrates will then decide whether the club has been properly conducted according to the rules, and will only renew the certificate on those conditions. This Bill has passed the House of Commons with the approval of all Parties—a happy state of things which does not usually obtain in regard to legislation connected with Ireland. I understand that His Majesty's Government propose to insert some Amendments, one of which is of considerable importance, but the others are more or less of a drafting character.

In the Bill, as it stands, there is an absolute prohibition of the sale of excisable liquor to any member of a club to be consumed off the premises. This is an unnecessarily stringent provision, and it is not in either the Scottish or the English Act. It interferes with the liberty of respectable members of a club who would, for instance, be prevented, when going for a day's fishing or for a day in the country, from taking any alcoholic liquor with them to be consumed, say, with their luncheon. The Amendment which is to be moved by His Majesty's Government has for its object the sanctioning of this sale to members within limited hours—that is, between the hour of eight o'clock in the morning and the hour of ten o'clock at night. I think that is a very reasonable Amendment, and one which ought to be accepted. Although I approve of the terms of the Amendment to be moved on behalf of His Majesty's Government, I intend to move one of my own, which I like better.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(Lord Clonbroch.)


My Lords, I have only to say, on behalf of the Irish Government, that there is no objection to this Bill. I shall, however, have a few Amendments, many of a merely drafting character, to move besides the one referred to by the noble Lord.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.