HL Deb 14 July 1908 vol 192 cc578-9


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have some confidence in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill, because it is one of the very few measures relating to Ireland which have been fortunate enough to pass the House of Commons with unanimous consent. I am informed that it has the approval of the temperance party, and also of the trade in Ireland. It is a Bill to amend the law relating to drunkenness in Ireland and for purposes connected therewith.

I need only mention a few of the most important clauses. The first clause protects the property of a woman where the husband has been proved to be a habitual drunkard, and the second clause does the same for the property of the husband where the wife is a habitual drunkard. Clause 4 prevents anything so protected from being sold, and the fifth clause gives a right of appeal when an order imposing a fine or inflicting punishment has been made under the Act. The seventh clause states that, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Employers and Workmen Act, 1875, where the breach of contract for which damages are awarded under that Act consists of or includes drunkenness, or was directly contributed to by drunkenness, the Court may award imprisonment in default of the payment of the said damages as if the same were a penal sum. The 8th Clause makes a person liable to a penalty who, being drunk while in charge of any person, or animal, or thing, endangers the life or limb of any person; and Clause 10 provides a penalty for persons found drunk in charge of children on licensed premises. There are one or two points, which, perhaps, may require Amendment in Committee, but I think I may recommend the Bill as a good one in itself. I therefore ask your Lord-ships to give it a Second Reading.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2."—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


My Lords, the noble Lord has given a very clear and concise account of the contents of the Bill, which has the approval of the Government, and to the Second Reading of which they cordially assent.


My Lords, it is impossible to read this Bill without seeing that it is aimed at meeting a great evil. It was piloted through the House of Commons by the Marquess of Hamilton the Member for Londonderry, and it deals with a matter which has attracted a great deal of attention in that part of the country with which my noble friend is connected. It provides for the grave case of husbands who become habitual drunkards and ruin their homes, and also with the case of married women who become habitual drunkards and wreck the happiness of their families. The Bill commended itself to general approval in the House of Commons, and I apprehend that your Lordships will be pleased to accord to it a rapid transit through this House.

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