§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, the object of this Bill is sufficiently indicated in the title; it is to close public-houses on Christmas Day in Ireland. Noble Lords may be surprised at my introducing an Irish Bill, but having been requested to do so by the Irish Members who have carried the Bill though the House of Commons I thought I ought not to refuse. The Bill is supported by the Irish Members generally, by Home Rulers and Unionists, by those from all parts of Ireland, by both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Archbishops, and by the Grocers and Vintners Protection Association as representing the trade. It may be said that the number of publicans who open is few. That is true; but it is felt an injustice that a few should open while the majority close. Moreover, the number tends to increase. The Bill is generally approved in Ireland; there is no opposition in the House of Commons, and I hope it will commend itself to your Lordships. I move the Second Reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(Lord Avebury.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (The Earl of HALSBURY)
My Lords, I must say that it strikes me, without something more being said on the subject than has been said by the noble Lord, as a very strong order indeed for Parliament to be asked to enact that no intoxicating liquor of any kind shall be sold in Ireland during the whole of Christmas Day. I hesitate to assent to it.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, I understood the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading to say that the Bill was approved generally in Ireland, and also by the Irish Members of all sections in the other House of Parliament. I confess it does seem to me rather singular that a measure coming to us upon such authority as that should be summarily rejected in the manner 9 proposed by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. The present Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland commenced his Viceroyalty by stating that he desired that Ireland should be governed in accordance with Irish ideas. This appears to be an Irish idea, a measure desired generally in Ireland. If it can be shown that there are Irish objections to it, and that the noble Lord is mistaken in the view he takes on the matter, well and good. But your Lordships would, I think, make a mistake if you were to refuse to consider and summarily reject what I understood to be an Irish idea.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, my noble friend beside me who represents the Irish Office (the Earl of Denbigh), tells me that his attention had not been called to this Bill, and he is therefore not prepared to state how it is regarded by the responsible Department. In these circumstances, as the Bill deals with a question of some importance, I would venture to suggest that the discussion of it might be adjourned until another day.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
My Lords, this Bill could only have passed through the House of Commons with the assent of His Majesty's Government. If the members of the Government who sit in the other House had taken exception to the Bill it could never have arrived here; and for my part, I am prepared on this occasion to support the members of the Government in the House of Commons rather than those who sit in this House. In the circumstances, I hope your Lordships will give a Second Reading to the Bill.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, I feel I cannot resist the suggestion that has been thrown out by the noble Marquess the Leader of your Lordships' House that the discussion should be adjourned; but I should like most emphatically to repeat that the Bill was supported in the House of Commons by the Irish Members generally, by Home Rulers and Unionists, and by those from all parts of Ireland. There was absolutely no opposition to it 10 in the House of Commons. It was accepted by His Majesty's Government, and I had therefore hoped that they would give the Bill a favourable reception in this House. After the noble Marquess's appeal I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Moved, "That the debate stand adjourned until this day week."—(Lord Avebury.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly to Thursday next.