§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I think it was with the general assent of the House that I postponed the Second Reading of this Bill from a time of considerable political excitement to the calmer atmosphere which we have to-day. Indeed, I feel that I am introducing an uncontroversial Bill. I look to the Ministerial side of the House, and I know that the Bill which I am introducing was part of the much larger measure which was introduced by the Government in 1908, and therefore I anticipate with confidence their support. And when I look to the other side of the House I see many important members whose support I think I shall receive. The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition was kind enough to write in 1908 to the Secretary of the Central Sunday Closing Association a letter in which he said—The question of Sunday Closing is, no doubt, one which might perfectly well be dealt with apart from what you properly describe as 'the very different and much more contentious proposals of the Licensing Bill.' You will probably have observed from the reports of the debate in the House of Lords that a suggestion has been made, and favourably received in all parts of the House, for the introduction of a Bill which might deal with these comparatively non-contentious matters.900 Then the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken on the subject, but as he will no doubt address your Lordships in support of the Bill I will not quote anything that he has said. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Halsbury, said in your Lordships' House in 1908—If it is possible for such a Bill as the right rev. Prelate has foreshadowed to be brought in and to be the proper subject of discussion, my impression is that it would be received with open arms on both sides of the House.This is the very Bill which I am now bringing in. The noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldywn, said that the reform of Sunday Closing was valuable and useful, and he did not think there would be any serious opposition in your Lordships' House. He went on to say—What is to hinder the Government, what is to hinder the right rev. Prelate himself, from bringing in these clauses as a new Bill next week, and passing it through your Lordships' House? I have no right to speak for any but myself, though I may probably speak for others when I say that I believe any such action would be welcomed by many on this side of the House.Then I have an expression of opinion in favour of these proposals by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, but I will not quote it as no doubt the noble Lord will, if necessary, speak for himself.
Then I turn to the chances which this Bill might have in another place. If your Lordships are good enough to pass it through its various stages here, the Bill has a favourable chance elsewhere, as it has obtained the ballot for May 8. There is in the House of Commons wonderful unanimity in favour of this Bill. The Prime Minister said in the House of Commons on October 30, 1908—In Scotland for fifty years there has been absolute Sunday Closing; and I can say with some assurance, having represented a Scottish constituency for twenty-two years, that I have never heard in my own constituency or in any other part of Scotland any complaint of that law or any agitation in any responsible quarter to secure its repeal or its modification.Mr. Balfour said in the same debate—I will at once make the admission that the right hon. gentleman was right when he said that in Scotland a great value was attached to Sunday Closing as it has existed in that country for more than fifty years. I understand that the Welsh representatives—and I think very likely the majority of the population—take the same view in Wales.The Labour leaders also give the Bill their support. Mr. Arthur Henderson, speaking in Leeds in October, 1908, at the time 901 when he was chairman of the Labour Party, said—Sunday Closing appeals to me with great force, because I believe it would assist in removing one of the greatest hindrances to the universal cessation of labour one day in seven. … My experience justifies me in saying that if we could but secure the curtailment of the hours on Saturday and the entire closing on Sunday, this reform would result in diverting thousands of pounds of the wages of the workers into channels that would produce greater economic and social good.Now, what is the scope of the Bill which I am bringing forward this afternoon? I will put it very shortly. First, it would reduce the hours of sale on Sunday at midday from two, as at present, to one, and in the evening from five to three in London, and four to two in the Provinces. The hours of sale would be fixed by the justices, but one of them must be between 12 noon and 3 p.m. Secondly, it would increase from three miles to six, the distance a traveller must go before being entitled to be supplied with liquor. Thirdly, the Bill would empower licensing justices, on the grant or renewal of any licence of an hotel or restaurant, if satisfied that the public convenience so requires, to permit the supply of liquor on Sundays during the hours during which the premises might have been open but for the passing of this Bill, to any person taking a bona fide meal in a room set apart for meals; but no room exclusively or mainly used for the supply of liquor on week-days is to be deemed a room so set apart. Fourthly, the Bill would extend the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to the County of Monmouth. Fifthly, it would empower the justices, on the renewal of any licence, to attach conditions (a) of complete Sunday Closing and (b) further restricting the conditions under which liquor might be supplied to travellers. These conditions would be subject to seven days notice, to appeal by the licensee, and to abrogation by the justices themselves at subsequent Licensing Sessions. Sixthly, the Bill would empower justices to any general Licensing Sessions, by a general order, to declare that all licensed houses in their district should be entirely closed on Sunday, subject to the provisions for bona fide travellers and lodgers in licensed houses; such general order to be in force until rescinded at subsequent sessions. And, seventhly, the Bill would apply only to England, except the regulation as to travellers, which would apply also to Wales.
902 Your Lordships will naturally expect me to give what I may call the case for Sunday Closing. I took the, perhaps, unusual course of circulating to your Lordships a summarised case for Sunday Closing, because it contains so many facts and figures. If your Lordships have had time to read the circular it will have enabled you to understand more clearly the case as it stands to-day. May I then trouble your Lordships with a short historical account of how Sunday Closing has grown, and the wonderful results which have come from it? During the latter half of the 19th century Sunday Closing became law over the whole of the British Empire except England, also over nearly all the United States of America, thus illustrating the truly British and practical character of the movement. The first Acts of Parliament which really restricted the Sunday sale of liquor were promoted by the London magistrates and Police, who, by the Metropolitan Police Act, 1839, secured the closing of all public-houses within fifteen miles of Charing Cross from Saturday at midnight until 1 o'clock midday Sunday. The results were so beneficial that in 1842 Liverpool, in 1845 Manchester, in 1846 Newcastle and Sheffield, and in 1848 the whole of the rest of England obtained the same restriction. In 1854 the Forbes Mackenzie Act closed public-houses throughout Scotland on Sunday. In 1878, during Mr. Disraeli's Administration, the Irish Sunday Closing Act closed liquor shops in Ireland, except in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, where the hours were reduced to five, viz., 2 to 7 p.m. It was passed for four years as an experiment, but at the end of that period was renewed annually for twenty-four years by being included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, until 1906, when Sunday Closing was made permanent and the hours of sale in the exempted cities reduced to three. In 1881, during Mr. Gladstone's Administration, Sunday Closing became the law all over Wales. The Licensing Acts of 1872–4 reduced the hours of sale on Sunday in England, and fixed them as they now stand—two hours at midday (12.30 to 2.30 or 1 o'clock to 3 o'clock) and four hours (6 o'clock to 10 o'clock) in the evening. London has an extra hour in the evening, the hours being 6 to 11 o'clock. In 1888, during Lord Salisbury's Administration, Mr. Ritchie proposed in his Local Government Bill to give borough and county 903 councils the power to impose total Sunday Closing. In 1893–4 Sir William Harcourt brought forward Sunday Closing proposals, and in 1908 Mr. Asquith included in his Licensing Bill the proposals of the Bill which I am now presenting to your Lordships. On each occasion the proposals were well received and were only overthrown because of their connection with very different and much more contentious proposals. In 1909 the present Bill passed its Second Reading—Ayes, 246; Noes, 59; majority 185—and went through Committee.
Naturally we ask when we look into the history of Sunday Closing, What has been the result of it? Has it done any good? I have here some facts and figures which appeal very strongly to me as answering those questions. That these laws are beneficial is proved by the fact that every Parliamentary inquiry has resulted in a favourable Report. These investigations have been made at the instigation of opponents of Sunday Closing, usually persons having pecuniary interests in the sale of liquor. In 1860 a Royal Commission reported in favour of the Forbes Mackenzie Act. In 1888 a Select Committee of the House of Commons reported that the Irish Sunday Closing Act was a success, and recommended that the Act should be made permanent, that it should be extended to the exempted cities, and that public-houses should be closed at 9 o'clock on Saturday nights. The Royal Commission on Welsh Sunday Closing (1890) recommended that the Act should be retained and extended to Monmouthshire. The Royal Commission on Licensing (1899) reported strongly in favour of Sunday Closing in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and recommended its extension to Monmouthshire and reduced hours of sale in England. The Majority Report—and the majority included representatives of the trade—said—We are of opinion that in Wales, as a whole, Sunday Closing has been a success.I submit that the permanence and popularity of Sunday Closing laws in communities conspicuous for their love of personal freedom and the favourable reports following judicial investigations completely and unanswerably establish the success of Sunday Closing.
But there are additional facts illustrating its good results. One allegation fre- 904 quently made is that Scotland with Sunday Closing is more drunken than England without it. This is disposed of by the fact that there are no complete official figures available for such comparison. The Prison Commissioners of Scotland say that they have no figures showing the apprehensions for drunkenness in Scotland. The Scottish figures are for "arrests"; in England they are for "convictions." A former Home Secretary (Sir M. W. Ridley) said in the House of Commons—The Scottish law as to drunkenness and its administration differs so much from the English law and its administration that it is difficult to draw any trustworthy conclusion from a comparison of the two countries.The allegation, therefore, is based upon a false comparison. I should like to put before your Lordships what seems to me a true and useful comparison—the one that may be drawn between the number of arrests in a given period immediately preceding, and those for a corresponding period immediately following, the coming into force of Sunday Closing in the same country. All the available figures of this kind are conclusive as to the good effect of Sunday Closing in reducing drunkenness. Statistics prove that, notwithstanding an enormous increase in the population, Edinburgh and Glasgow are to-day far more sober than they were before Sunday Closing came into force, and that Sunday is by far the most sober day of the week. In Edinburgh before Sunday Closing the average of arrests for drunkenness between Saturday midnight and Sunday midnight in the year 1852–3 was 708; under Sunday Closing, in the year 1855–6, the number was reduced to 412, showing a decrease under Sunday Closing of 296. In Glasgow the result has been precisely the same. Before Sunday Closing the arrests for Sunday drunkenness averaged over 25 per Sunday. and after Sunday Closing the number averaged 6½ per Sunday. The figures show that Sunday is now the soberest day in Glasgow. The number of arrests for drunkenness on weekdays largely exceeded in each case a thousand, while the Sunday arrests were 337, and we must attribute that Sunday drunkenness largely to the fact that there are eighteen hotels there open to travellers. It is to these open houses, not to Sunday Closing, that the Sunday drunkenness which takes place must be attributed.
905 Then we come to the consumption of spirits. The Sunday Closing Act of Scotland, 1854, was followed by a reduction in the consumption of spirits of nearly 7,000,000 gallons during the next five years. The consumption of spirits for the five years ended December, 1853, was 36,039,712 gallons; the consumption for the five years ended March, 1913, was 30,496,368 gallons. This decrease of nearly 6,000,000 gallons is the more remarkable because during that period of sixty years the population had increased from 2,896,015 to 4,760,904. I will put it in another way. In 1852, when spirits were sold on Sunday, the people of Scotland consumed nearly 2.5 gallons of spirits per head, whilst in 1913 they consumed only 1.3 gallons per head. That this reduction is largely due to Sunday Closing is proved by the greater reduction in arrests on Sundays than on week-days. When we turn to Ireland we find again the same enormous success. Taking the figures for the last two and a half years under Sunday opening and those for the first two and a half years under Sunday closing, there has been in that country a decrease of arrests under Sunday Closing of 7,618. I turn to England. It was estimated by the late Dr. Dawson Burns that £17,000,000 per annum was spent on liquor on Sunday. That a very large proportion of this sum is spent by the working classes is shown by a statement made by Mr. John Burns in the House of Commons on February 17, 1909, when he said that he had been told by a gentleman opposed to him in politics that while he was manager of a bank in a North of England town he used to pay out from £50,000 to £60,000 in wages on Friday to engineers, boilermakers, shipbuilders, etc., and that on Monday between 9.30 a.m. and 4 p.m. he received from the publicans alone from £12,000 to £16,000 which he had paid out on the previous Friday.
When I come to the moral and religious reasons for putting this Bill before your Lordships, I would first of all quote what was said by the chairman of the Leicester Licensing Sessions. Sir William Vincent expressed his strong regret that on Saturday and Sunday evenings in particular some of the large public-houses in the town were "crowded with young men and young women not much beyond childhood." He added that—The most crying need of Christianity and morality is that something should be done that should take them away from the public-houses.906 Sunday school teachers complain that many scholars are late or absent altogether from Sunday afternoon school through the parents being in public-houses. Let me give your Lordships a little experience of my own within a mile of this place. I could not go on Sunday, but I went at midnight on Saturday with a large band. I went round a square mile of Westminster and collected out of the public-houses in from half-an-hour to three-quarters of an hour about 200 young men between the ages of 18 and 30, all half drunk, and although it was a very sad sight it had its elements of humour, for when one of my officers began to sing "Nearer my God to Thee," these men commenced to sing "For he's a Jolly Good Fellow." It was sad to look upon in such a state young men whom we would like to see trained to defend their country. It was a spectacle of how the manhood and virility of the nation is being undermined. If I could take my band round on a Sunday I should doubtless see the same faces and witness the same sad sight.
I turn to the experience of my brethren of other denominations. I have an interesting letter here from the Rev. F. W. Newland, the superintendent of the Claremont Central Mission, Pentonville, one of the poorest parts of London. In it he says—I write to say how thankful we are that the Second Reading of the Sunday Closing Bill is to be moved to-morrow, and how much we hope and pray that your efforts on behalf of it may be crowned' with complete success. I am requested to intimate to your Lordship that at our men's meeting on Sunday and at our women's meeting yesterday a resolution was unanimously and enthusiastically approved, begging that this long delayed measure of relief may be passed this session. The women's meeting represents a membership of about 1,000 very poor women, and both meetings come from a district terribly devastated by drunkenness, but where the people are, to a very large extent, intensely anxious to have their temptations diminished. On the last two Sundays we have had the number of children—This is a point which I do not think would occur to any one who had not lived in the slums, as some of us have—we have had the number of children carefully counted who came to afternoon Sunday school without having had dinner; and we found that in the girls' school one-third had come dinnerless, and in the boys' school one-quarter. These proportions would, of course, have been greatly higher if all our children had come from the poorest homes. I have also had two public-houses near by counted for the few minutes before turning-out time at 3 o'clock, and found that in one case there were 98–74 men and 24 women—and in the other 105–66 men and 39 women. Larger houses would have yielded greater numbers, 907 but these two houses, neither of them in a main street, indicate the terrible ravages of the two hours drinking in the middle of the day, for the soaking between 2 and 3 o'clock has no relation to dinner beer.I myself have for nine years lived in one of the poorest parts of London, and I can bear out what my friend Mr. Newland says. If you saw the public-houses turn out at 3 o'clock you would see men, not at all persons who had gone in to get their dinner beer but men who had been sitting there for two hours, coming out very often in a most distressing state.
I come now to the labour reasons why your Lordships should pass this Bill—the unnecessary labour thrown on 300,000 people engaged as employees in the liquor trade. The need for Sunday Closing is shown by the long hours of labour and the consequent impaired health and shortened lives of those engaged in the liquor trade. The mortality tables of the Registrar-General reveal that the death-rate of publicans is nearly double, and that of their employees more than double, that of other shopkeepers. Sunday rest or at least reduced hours of Sunday labour is imperatively needed for the estimated 300,000 persons engaged in the trade. In a trade circular which has been sent to your Lordships it is stated that I have no justification for saying that such a change would be welcomed by the publicans. Of course, we clergy who move among the publicans cannot give them away. They say things to us, but we could not name the men or they would get into trouble; but we know how much they would welcome a shortening of the hours of labour. Here is a letter from a country clergyman—In my parish at least, publicans are as desirous, if not more so, of coming to church as any other class. Nearly all the publicans here would prefer complete Sunday closing, and all, I am convinced, would like closing during evening service.The writer of this letter points out that public-houses were originally intended to be closed during the hours of divine service, which are still supposed to be 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., though the change for evening service from 3 p.m. to 6 or 6.30 or 7 p.m. is now almost universal. He goes on to say—In our large village of more than 1,000 population the hour is 6 p.m. in the church and in the two Nonconformist chapels. The public-houses, of which there are nine, open at the same hour, thus preventing attendance at church for all those engaged in the liquor trade.908 We have also the testimony of the Salvation Army. We are all working side by side in this cause in London and all over the country. A Salvation Army officer says—I visited in all 58 public-houses, and although Sunday Closing is not a matter that publicans will talk freely on, approximately 75 per cent. of those I interviewed gave me to understand that they would welcome the closing of public-houses on Sunday.This Salvation Army officer furnishes some samples of the replies made to his question. "If," said one, "all houses were to be closed I should be the first to do so." "Yes," said another, "I am quite in favour of Sunday Closing. I want a day of rest as well as others, but the public is to blame. Let people stop buying on Sunday and I should be only too pleased to shut up." "To my mind," said another "the majority of publicans are in favour of Sunday Closing; that is, if all were treated alike. However, we are not our own masters and cannot express our opinions freely."
Then there are the barmaids. Although naturally they cannot any more than the other employees speak out publicly without losing their employment, it is worth while taking the opinion given by a barmaid to a special commissioner of the Daily Sketch on January 14. This gentleman, who had been interviewing a number of barmaids engaged in better-class houses, speaks of "monstrous long work for meagre pay." One barmaid said—The public knows nothing about us. I start at half-past eight and go on, with two hours' rest in the afternoon, till closing time at half-past twelve. Then cleaning up, etc., takes at least another half-hour. … I get 13s. a week.The special commissioner says—Before the coming of the compulsory weekly half-day's rest it was the custom for the girls to be allowed a week's holiday a year. Since the half-holiday was imposed that holiday has in many cases been knocked off."But it is the Sunday work that is really killing," said one barmaid. "I don't think public-houses ought to be open on Sunday. If people want drink, then they ought to have to get it in beforehand, as they do with groceries and everything else." Mr. Burt, the Labour M.P., says—I have been surprised, when associating with the working people of this country, to find how thoroughly advanced they are in favour of the Sunday closing of public-houses, not only teetotallers but moderate drinkers, and some who do not drink moderately. I have again and again met with men who occasionally go to excess who 909 are thorough-going advocates of Sunday Closing, and who are anxious to be delivered, at least for one day in the week, from the temptations of the traffic.I should like, my Lords, to insist upon the labour reasons for passing this Bill, because those who are in the trade cannot in present circumstances speak for themselves.
There are two more points—first, the demand for Sunday Closing; secondly, the evil we still have to surmount in the amount of drink that is consumed in England. The demand for Sunday Closing is backed up by many pieces of evidence. For instance, a National Convention to appeal for Sunday Closing legislation this year, held last November under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was supported by the Bishops and the other leaders of all the religious bodies, including the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the Methodist, Congregationalist, and Baptist Presidents, General Bramwell Booth, and the Chief Rabbi—an assembly of influential persons who had come from over 100 places in all parts of the country to represent all the great religious bodies. In these respects the National Convention was almost, if not quite, unique. The representatives came from over 120 cities and other places, including New castle-upon-Tyne, Exeter, Liverpool, Norwich, Manchester, Eastbourne, Leeds, Southampton, Birmingham, Brighton, Lincoln, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Bristol, Wakefield, Bradford, Oxford, and Bath. The one hand held up against the chief resolution only served to emphasise the unanimity and enthusiasm of the assembly. The Free Church Council and all the leading Nonconformist bodies pass resolutions in favour of Sunday Closing every year; the Lower House of York Convocation also passed a resolution in favour of this Bill; and a clerical memorial to the late Lord Salisbury was signed by 11,008 clergymen of the Church of England and 7,720 Nonconformist ministers. In plebiscites taken from 1866 to 1907, 1,501 places being canvassed, the votes of more than a million householders gave the following results—For Sunday Closing, 893,652; against, 129,503; nearly eight to one. And with regard to the opinion of liquor traders I may state that Colonel Hall Walker, a director of the Peter Walker Brewery Co., informed the House of Commons on March 12, 1909, that—If the consumption of drink through other channels was also stopped by Act of Parliament 910 the whole trade would acquiesce in any measure of this sort because it would give them a period of rest which they do not now possess.Now I have to justify my proposal to extend the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to Monmouthshire. This is based on resolutions passed by the Monmouthshire County Council and by many other public bodies in that county, and upon the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Welsh Sunday Closing, 1889, and the Royal Commission on the Licensing Laws presided over by Lord Peel in 1899. And this proposal is backed up by a really interesting statement by Mr. Thomas Richards, Labour M.P. and Miners' Agent for West Monmouthshire. He said—I hope every effort possible will be made to secure an early extension of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to Monmouthshire, and thus remove the border line from the thickly populated districts where it is at present. With respect to Sunday Closing generally, the unique experience of the inhabitants of Beaufort, who for a period enjoyed the blessings of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, is a striking example that the open public-house on Sunday is destructive of all that is best in the Sunday life of the people. Upon the passing of the Sunday Closing Act for Wales, the whole of the public-houses of Beaufort, Rassau, and Dukestown were closed, and from that time forward it was a rare occurrence to see a person under the influence of intoxicants, although being on the border of Monmouthshire and open houses within half a mile or so to our neighbourhood. But upon the passing of the Local Government Act, 1888, and our being transferred to Monmouthshire for administrative purposes the publicans thought they had a right to again open on Sundays, and they did so; and although the Temperance Party secured a test case before the local magistrates, they (the magistrates) disagreed upon the matter. No further proceedings being taken, these public-houses have been open ever since, with the result that what was for a considerable time, under Sunday closing, a peaceful, quiet village—an ideal of the sweet repose that the Sabbath day was intended to confer upon our toiling masses—is now transformed on some Sundays into a perfect pandemonium. The number of public-houses thus affected is about twenty. It has been said that a poor man should not be deprived of his beer, but my experience shows that it is far worse to deprive him of his Sunday or to give him temptations to spoil it.I must say one word upon what I know is the weakest part of my Bill, and that is the omission of clubs. All I can say with regard to that is that if both sides of the House would agree to put in a clause with regard to clubs all of us who support Sunday Closing would be ready to accept it. What I would urge your Lordships not to do is to reject this Bill on the plea that clubs ought to be dealt with. If a Second Reading is given to the Bill it will 911 be perfectly possible in Committee to introduce a clause with regard to clubs. I feel strongly, as your Lordships do, the harm which clubs are doing. It is not a fact that the advocates of Sunday Closing seek to close public-houses and leave rival clubs open on Sundays. Their object is to stop the unnecessary sale and supply of intoxicating liquor on Sunday anywhere and everywhere. They give their approval so far as it concerns Sunday to the principle of placing clubs under the same restrictions which the law imposes on licensed houses. The figures show that England with public-houses open on Sunday, has more clubs in proportion to the population than the Sunday Closing countries of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. In England, for instance, the number of clubs in 1912 was 7,991—that is to say, 23 to every 100,000 of the population; in Scotland the number of clubs was 628, or 13 to every 100,000 of the population; in Ireland, 250, or 5 to every 100,000 of the population; and in Wales 298, or 14 to every 100,000 of the population. It is not right, therefore, to say that the more you close public-houses the more clubs spring up.
It only remains for me to lay stress on the harm that the drink traffic is still doing to the national life. I would illustrate it from the Majority Report of the Royal Commission on the Liquor Licensing Laws, 1899, and I again emphasise the point that among those who signed the Majority Report were representatives of the trade. The Majority Report states—Most persons who have studied the question are of opinion that actual drunkenness has materially diminished in all classes of society in the last 25 or 30 years. Many causes have contributed to this. The zealous labour of countless workers in the temperance cause counts for much. Education has opened avenues to innumerable studies which interest the rising generation. The taste for reading has multiplied many fold within a comparatively brief period. … Yet it is undeniable that a gigantic evil remains to be remedied, and hardly any sacrifice would be too great which would result in a marked diminution of this national degradation. Nor is Parliament likely to rest satisfied with leaving things as they are.It is one of those practical ways of which the Majority Report speaks which I have ventured to lay before your Lordships this afternoon, and it is in the hope that it may do something to remove this gigantic evil that I move the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Lord Bishop of London.)912
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, I hope I shall not be thought presumptuous in saying a few words in opposition to the Bill that has been brought forward by the right rev. Prelate, and in doing so I trust that the House and the right rev. Prelate will acquit me of being in any way anxious for one moment to prevent any well considered measure for in any way putting a stop to the gigantic evils of intemperance in this country from being dealt with. I am perfectly certain that every noble Lord in this House is a strong advocate of any well considered measure that can be brought forward and passed into law with that object. I only have risen to say a few words in opposition to this Bill because I cannot consider that this is a well considered measure with that object. There have been of late years considerable strides made by legislation with a view of putting down the evils of intemperance, and I think that the Licensing Act passed, if I remember rightly, when the late Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister effected a great deal of good in that direction. It is inconceivable, to my mind, how Parliament can have allowed the enormously unnecessary number of licences for public houses ever to have been granted in this country. Your Lordships will remember that the main point of the last Licensing Act was gradually to reduce the number of licensed houses, and I think any of your Lordships who have studied the question at all will admit that in all parts of the country the gradual suppression of superabundant licences has had a very good effect.
The right rev. Prelate quoted a considerable number of authorities in favour of this measure, and I am sure your Lordships will not dispute the weight and the authority of those persons and public bodies. But your Lordships at the same time will not forget that there are thousands, tens of thousands, of excellent and well intentioned people in this country who think that all public-houses should not only be closed on Sundays but on every other day in the week. I do not know that I can be numbered among those members of your Lordships' House who have been in the past the strongest advocates of what are called very democratic measures, but I oppose this Bill for one reason, in that I cannot help thinking that it is a distinctly undemocratic measure. If the 913 right rev. Prelate were to treat all classes alike he would have introduced clauses in this Bill whereby not only the opportunity was given to close all public-houses on Sunday, as Clause 2 gives the power, but to close all the coffee-rooms in clubs and to render it impossible for private individuals to avail themselves of their cellars. If this Bill becomes law you are treating merely one class to Sunday closure—namely, those who are unable to obtain intoxicating liquors if they require them except in a public-house.
But another strong objection that I see to this Bill is contained in Clause 2, which provides that licensing justices may attach to the renewal of any justices' on-licence any condition which they think fit to attach in respect of the closing of the licensed premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises during the whole of Sunday. I think that that clause puts a very unfair responsibility on the licensing justices, and I can see the most practical objections to such a clause being included in any measure passed by your Lordships' House. Just think what might happen in rural districts where petty sessional divisions are comparatively small. In one petty sessional division you might get the justices attaching this condition, but in the adjoining division the justices might take a different view. You would arrive at a most strangely variegated condition of affairs.
Then there is the fact—I am not sure that the right rev. Prelate did not himself refer to it as a blot on his Bill—that the Bill does not deal at all with the question of clubs. When I speak of clubs, I mean those places which, though they may have some other ostensible object, are nothing else than drinking shops. This Bill, if passed into law, would not only perpetuate the present evils in regard to these clubs, but would increase them tenfold; and I venture to think that without the matter of clubs being dealt with a Bill of this kind would prove practically inoperative. I dare say other speakers far more competent than myself to deal with this question will take part in the debate, and, I hope, speak against the Bill. But for the reasons I have stated I am quite prepared, if any other noble Lords will support me, to go into the Lobby against the Bill. Before I sit down I will again express my regret that I have been obliged to take this 914 course, and I hope the right rev. Prelate will allow me to say what I am sure the whole House recognises, that the objects which he seeks to attain are most beneficent but I do not consider that this Bill is best calculated to attain those objects.
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD STRACHIE)
My Lords, the right rev. Prelate began his speech by saying that he claimed the support of His Majesty's Government, and, I also understood him to say, the support of the members of the Front Opposition Bench in favour of this Bill. The right rev. Prelate is, of course, quite right in claiming the support of His Majesty's Government as regards those clauses of his Bill which are taken out literally from the Government's Licensing Bill of 1908. There is no need to assure the right rev. Prelate that the Government are quite as anxious as he can be to see those clauses adopted which were only defeated in this House because they were attached to another and very much larger measure dealing with the question of temperance. The object of these clauses is to prevent excessive drinking on Sundays, and also to relieve the working-classes especially from the temptation of spending many hours in a public-house, while giving them the opportunity to get their dinner and supper beer. I was rather surprised at my noble friend Lord Hylton's statement that he was very doubtful as regards legislation of this sort being of any advantage to stop excessive drinking. On the other hand, he seemed to think that it was a great advantage to have suppression where there were too many licences. Well, I have always understood that the argument for suppressing a large number of public-houses where they are in excess of the requirements of the population was to put away temptations and opportunities for excessive drinking. But Lord Hylton thinks that if you reduce the hours in which a man can drink it will not have the same effect. I should have thought it was really a distinction without a difference; because if you reduce the number of hours in which people can drink it is just the same as reducing the number of public-houses.
The Government, as I say, thoroughly and heartily support the right rev. Prelate in all those clauses which are practically the clauses of their own Licensing Bill which met with such an unhappy fate in this House some years ago, but not, I am 915 glad to think, upon the question of Sunday Closing. As regards Clause 1, that is mostly taken from the Government's Licensing Bill. But in subsection (3) there is a provision which seems to me to restrict the powers of licensing justices to a larger extent than the Government restricted them in their Licensing Bill in 1908. But, of course, in Committee the Government would have to consider their position as regards those points. I ought also to mention that there is a provision in Clause I, subsection (3) which prohibits the supply of liquor with meals except with the sanction of the licensing justices. That is making a very great alteration from the proposals of the Government, and it seems rather a large order to say that the justices in a particular district may prohibit a man who goes for bona fide reasons into an hotel or public-house from having a glass of wine or beer with his meals. That seems very unreasonable. The Government proposed in their Licensing Bill that a man could have a glass of wine or beer with his meals on a Sunday upon licensed premises.
As regards Clause 2, that is also similar to a large extent to the Government proposals, except that I notice there is a new subsection introduced—subsection (6)—-which gives power to the justices at the annual Licensing Sessions to make a general order by which they could close every public-house within their area on Sunday. There, again, I think great consideration will be required as to whether it is desirable that such a proposal should be introduced giving these new powers to the justices in this matter. The right rev. Prelate has already said that these particular clauses where they are like the Government's Bill of 1908 were received with very little opposition in the House of Commons, and were carried there by a majority of 289 to 39, showing that for all practical purposes the House of Commons approves of regulating the hours of Sunday opening and giving greater powers to the justices to make conditions upon these points. I think I have said enough to show that His Majesty's Government heartily welcome all those proposals in this Bill which carry out their own provisions in the Licensing Bill of 1908. They hope this Bill may have a Second Reading, reserving to themselves complete right to make any alterations in Committee in regard to points which seem to them inconsistent with their own policy.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sure that all your Lordships listened to the right rev. Prelate's speech with the greatest sympathy. We are all aware of the great work which he has done in the worst parts of London and the successful efforts which he has made to better the lot of the unfortunate population in the slum parts of this metropolis. Therefore everything which he says upon a subject like this ought to be, and is, listened to with the most profound respect. I hope he will realise that if I criticise his Bill in some respects it is not from any want of appreciation of his position or of his great services.
There is no objection to the principle of Sunday Closing. That is, of course, accepted by all parties and in all parts of your Lordships' House. As the right rev. Prelate has said, Inquiry after Inquiry has recommended the principle of Sunday Closing—that is to say, the curtailment to some extent of the hours of opening on Sunday. But your Lordships will observe that the Report of the Royal Commission to which the right rev. Prelate alluded—the Majority Report—did not recommend total Sunday Closing. They recommended a further curtailment of the hours, but they said that "opinion was not ripe for complete Sunday Closing." They went on to say that they thought the wants, wishes, and desires of bona fide, excursionists ought to be considered. Therefore I do not think the right rev. Prelate can quote—I do not say he would wish to for a moment—or that anybody can quote the Majority Report of the Royal Commission as in favour of any very drastic change in the law with regard to Sunday Closing.
Perhaps I may be allowed, for the sake of historical accuracy, to correct one observation of the right rev. Prelate, because he said that the representatives of the trade on the Royal Commission assented to this. I think he will find that there were a considerable number who dissented at the end of the Report. I think four members of the Commission differed on the recommendation as to Sunday Closing. However, it is a very small matter. The real point is the case made out for further curtailment of the hours of opening on Sunday, and with a view of satisfying your Lordships on that point the right rev. Prelate quoted a number of statistics. I am sure he will forgive me 917 if I express myself as having been too slow to follow in all respects all the statistics which he quoted, but I think I noticed one rather significant omission. The right rev. Prelate quoted the results of, as he thought, temperance legislation in Scotland and in Wales and in Ireland, all of them more or less connected with Sunday Closing. But he did not quote the corresponding statistics in England, which has no total Sunday Closing. Now, it is a remarkable fact that the improvement in sobriety in England is at least as great as in any of the other portions of the United Kingdom. That is a remarkable circumstance which seems to show that there are other causes at work besides legislation which are responsible for this most valuable and important improvement in the habits of the people.
I am not able to quote statistics with any great confidence for I have not verified them myself, but I believe it to be true that if you take the total offences for drunkenness in England during the last twenty-five years you will find that the annual average has diminished from eight per thousand to a little over five per thousand. That is a very substantial change. Supposing that anything like that progress were to continue we might expect in another twenty-five years that it would be reduced perhaps to between three and four per thousand, which would be a very small number comparatively speaking. It is also a striking circumstance that neither Scotland nor Wales can show anything like that progress upon the figures which have been submitted to me. During the same period Wales seems to have fallen from seven per thousand, which was less than England, to 5.6 per thousand, which is more than England is now, so that though Wales started rather better it has ended up rather worse, notwithstanding that during the greater part of that period Wales had the assistance of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act.
I do not wish to trouble your Lordships with any more statistics. I believe that quite as striking a case might be made out in respect of Scotland. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh is an authority on that point. It will be found that Scotland does not show anything like the figures England does, notwithstanding the fact that England has no Sunday Closing Act. I wish I could give 918 —I wish anybody could give—the figures for Sunday offences. Unfortunately apparently the statistics do not exist. Up till about fifteen or twenty years ago figures were regularly collected for offences against the Licensing Laws on Sunday, but for some reason with which no doubt many members of your Lordships' House may be more familiar than I am those statistics were dropped. Therefore it is not very easy to make a comparison as regards Sunday itself. I cannot say that there has been any very great improvement in respect of Sunday. According to the figures submitted to me there has been no very great improvement in England with regard to Sunday offences, and a similar statement may be made in respect of Wales. I do not know how far that may be, but that is what I have been informed.
These are not conclusive reasons by any means against the right rev. Prelate's Bill, but they are reasons for approaching the subject with a considerable amount of caution. I should like to say, in passing, that though I would not yield to any man in your Lordships' House in my desire to diminish the awful evils of intemperance in this country, yet I am not very much struck with the figures which tend to show the large amounts of money spent in drink in the course of the year. The working-classes spend a great sum of money in drink. So do we, and so do all classes of His Majesty's subjects. And not only in drink do the upper and middle classes spend much but in every conceivable luxury, and I should doubt if you calculated it up whether the total figure, proportionately, of money spent by the upper and middle classes on luxuries does not greatly exceed what the working-classes spend. Of course, I am not speaking of intemperance. There is nothing to be said in mitigation of the awful evils of intemperance. But when it is a question of how much this vast body of men spend in enjoying themselves I think we should be careful in what criticisms we make lest people should say, "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
I think there is a great deal to be said for the first subsection of the right rev. Prelate's Bill. That is so especially in respect of the hours of opening in the middle of the day. I do not know whether your Lordships felt like I did, but I was very much struck with the account which 919 the right rev. Prelate gave of his own personal experience of watching what happened during the open hours in the middle of the day in London. I can quite conceive that the right rev. Prelate is right, that in that respect the hours are too long. There must, however, be some sort of opening in the middle of the day in order that people—I mean the people who are in no way anxious to drink to excess, and do not drink to excess—should have what beer is necessary for their midday meal. But it might be right and proper that the hours should be curtailed and that there should not be so big an opportunity as there is at the present moment.
Then I turn to the bona fide traveller subsection. If I may make a confession to your Lordships, I have never been happy about the bona fide traveller. The original conception of the bona fide traveller was, I suppose, a person, who, moving about with considerable fatigue upon his business or his pleasure, even on Sundays, finds it necessary in order to recruit exhausted nature at perhaps one period in the day to have a modest glass of beer. But it has never had any correspondence whatever to the fact. The bona fide traveller is, in fact, a fraud, and always has been a fraud, and he has become much more of a fraud since he was instituted. In the old days there was something to be said for a distance measure in order to define a bona fide traveller. But since he first dawned upon our jurisprudence there have been various inventions. The first invention was the bicycle, and the second invention is the motor-car; and these two between them have simply knocked the bona fide traveller into a cocked hat. He really ceases to have any relation in reality to the original conception. I cannot see why you should permit a bicyclist to have a drink and not allow a man who is walking to have one, because that is what it comes to. The right rev. Prelate says, "Let us turn the three miles into six." But is it really worth while to make a change of that kind? If I get on a bicycle I more often go six miles than I go three; and I think it very unlikely that many bicyclists would be weeded out by the distance. Any one who lives, as I do, upon the Great North Road and sees what goes on on a Sunday, knows that the public-houses are quite full of bona fide travellers—ordinary persons doing what they are fully entitled to do, using their 920 Sunday opportunity to have an enjoyable afternoon. I am very glad they should, and I think it would be a profound hardship if they are not allowed to have what they require to drink in the course of the day. But the fact of the public-houses being open for the supply of this number of persons renders the whole law a farce. I do not think for a moment that the dealings of these public-houses are confined to bona fide travellers on Sunday. How is it possible with the masses of people going in and out to suppose that they do not supply people in the immediate neighbourhood? I do not think the bona fide traveller provisions are worth passing into law.
I then turn to Clause 2. My noble friend Lord Hylton has already made observations about Clause 2, as also has the noble Lord who represents the Government. That clause proposes to give the licensing benches a power to do two things—either to take individual houses and say that they shall not be opened on Sundays, or to take the whole of the houses and say that none of them shall be opened on Sundays. There are two different subsections which make those two different changes in the law. There is something to be said for the first of the two. I can quite conceive that there may be individual cases where, because of there being an undue amount of turmoil on the Sunday, it may be found by the magistrates a useful provision that they should be enabled to diminish the number of open houses. I think, though, that some direction, if I may say so, should be given on the face of the Act of Parliament as to the kind of reasons upon which the magistrates ought to act. There is nothing said here about that. It is left to their absolute discretion. Some sort of suggestion should be given to them, that "where they find in the interests of public order"—or some phrase of that kind.—"it is necessary to diminish the number of houses on Sunday in a particular locality," then these powers should apply. I think the general power would make it very difficult for the magistrates to act, as my noble friend Lord Hylton has said.
I should like to remind the right rev. Prelate on this head that this applies more to subsection (6)—that is, to the larger powers of closing all public-houses in a district on Sunday. The magistrates ought 921 to act in a judicial spirit; they ought not to act simply in order to carry out what they happen to think is good for the locality in which they live. That is really not their business, and the whole frame of mind which ought to surround a magistrate is really inimical to that power. He sits there as a judicial person trying to arrive at what he ought to do to carry out the law; not to interpret his own particular fad or the fad of any one else, but simply to do his best to interpret the law. Therefore I should very much object to giving magistrates a certain roving power to close public-houses completely in any district. I do not say that to close the public-houses in any district on Sunday is necessarily a wrong thing to do. Perhaps it might be right if the people want it, but then the people must say so. In that respect I agree more with noble Lords opposite and the Government, than I do with the right rev. Prelate. I think no such decision should be come to except by the wish of the people. I do not mean to say that I think it would be a judicious proposal that the people in any small licensing district should have the power to close all the public-houses in their district, but some popular authority ought to act in that matter and not a judicial authority. It is a question of policy, and a question of policy should not be left to the magistrates, who ought to approach any matter in a judicial spirit. Therefore I think subsection (1) of Clause 2 will require additional words giving the magistrates some indication of the lines on which they ought to act; and I am afraid subsection (6) ought to disappear altogether.
I have ventured to make those criticisms on the Bill. I will not say much upon the biggest criticism of all, because it has been mentioned by every speaker and has been already anticipated by the right rev. Prelate himself. But I am sure that no such Bill of this kind ought to pass into law unless you deal at the same time with clubs. It would be really in the highest degree absurd. The clubs are growing every day, and they are much less controlled than the public-houses. To propose to close the public-houses in order to turn all the persons who want to drink into clubs seems to me not only futile but retrograde. Therefore I hope the right rev. Prelate and those who advise him will turn their attention to the very difficult task of preparing clauses in respect of clubs. I can assure him that it is a very difficult task. We had some experience of 922 that in the debates on the Scottish Temperance Bill last session. But if he wishes to satisfy the conscience of the people he must deal with clubs. It is no good trying to deal with public-houses and leave the clubs out. I hope the right rev. Prelate will not think that I have been too drastic in my criticisms, but subject to these criticisms for my part I would be quite ready to assent to the Second Reading of the Bill. I think the right rev. Prelate will find in the subsequent stages—if I may use the expression—his work cut out for him; but I am sure your Lordships will feel that in any work he undertakes he is only animated by the highest principles, and we all wish him success.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I hope your Lordships are going to give a Second Reading to-night to this Bill. The principle which underlies the Bill and pervades it has received practically no opposition at the hands of any speaker this evening. I am particularly grateful to the noble Marquess who has just sat down for the emphasis with which he has asserted the fact that there is no objection to the principle of Sunday Closing—that is, to the curtailment of the hours of opening on Sunday. I am still more grateful to the noble Marquess for having in a masterly fashion carried out what many of us have been trying to do for many years—what he has himself described as "knocking into a cocked hat" the fallacy of the bona fide traveller. As far as I know the bona fide traveller is the only public character who is described by an epithet, and that epithet is, I venture to think, a singularly inappropriate one. He may be a traveller, but that he is a bona fide traveller in the vast majority of cases where he claims some privilege on that account I venture most cordially to doubt.
The principle of this Bill has been accepted by your Lordships to-night, and that is not wonderful because for years past alike on the part of Liberals and Unionists in both Houses of Parliament and on the part of the Labour Party in the other House this Bill has received enthusiastic support. And I venture to remind the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, with regard to his criticism that the Bill is undemocratic, that as far as I know the Bill has received the overwhelming support of the Labour Party and has certainly had that support for a great many years. Reference was made 923 by the right rev. Prelate in introducing the Bill to a conference over which I had the honour to preside which was held in Caxton Hall a few months ago. I do not think he exaggerated when he spoke of the remarkable character of that gathering. I have had the honour of presiding over many meetings of different kinds, but I do not remember, with possibly one exception, ever presiding over any meeting which was of so cosmopolitan a character. There were representative men there of every section of the population; every creed and every political opinion. They were practically unanimous in saying, not merely that it is a good principle that the magistrates should have power to curtail the hours of Sunday opening of public-houses, but that something of the kind is at this moment urgently and by general consent required if the popular wish is to become effective. It is not wonderful that that should be felt, for we are not speaking, as has been already said to-night but it requires reiteration, of an untried fad. We are speaking of something which has proved valuable in Scotland for sixty years, in Ireland for thirty-five years, and in Wales for thirty-three years. In some of those regions the provisions are more drastic than anything we are asking for here, and as far as I know no one would desire to go back on the matter now.
The noble Marquess criticised the figures quoted by the Bishop of London as failing to show that the improvement in temperance habits was really to be connected in any way with Sunday Closing. I did not altogether understand my right rev. brother to be quoting the figures in that way. I understood his figures to point to this, that if you take the years immediately preceding and the years which immediately follow Sunday Closing in Scotland, you will find that an extraordinary change came about, not gradually but suddenly, as regards the matter. And when we are told that the introduction of Sunday Closing will necessarily produce a large addition to the number of clubs, he showed that, instead of clubs being larger in number in proportion to the population in the regions where Sunday Closing exists, they are smaller than in the regions where it does not exist. No one will dispute for a moment the noble Marquess's contention that it would be fallacious to speak of Sunday Closing as we have it in different parts of the United Kingdom as having been the main cause of temperance improve- 924 ment. No one would suggest that for a moment. In England it is true there has been, even more markedly than in Scotland, Wales, or Ireland, a great improvement in temperance so far as statistics show; but I venture to think that the particular purposes for which those statistics were brought forward by the right rev. Prelate are perfectly good, and the statistics are valid for the argument for which he used them.
In the first place, I say that we have a practically unanimous opinion in favour of something of this kind being wanted. In the next place, we can say that the proposals in the Bill as here drafted, with the exception of certain particular clauses which I quite agree require reconsideration and very possibly amendment, if carried into effect would be in the result not hurting any one except those we want to help and not to hurt—namely, those who misuse opening on Sunday for purposes which cannot be called healthy purposes in any sense of the word. I expected to hear the argument to-night, and it came early from Lord Hylton, that many of us who support this Bill do not go far enough; we are wanted to go very much further. We certainly do not ask you to go very much further. But the fact that the Bill does not go far enough is not an argument against the Bill as it stands before your Lordships. I think we should be widely misled if, because there are many people who desire to go very much further than this House is inclined to go in the way of temperance reform, we should not take this particular step.
There are grave difficulties to be met in this matter. The first and foremost has been referred to by every speaker—namely, the question of the clubs. The noble Marquess who has just sat down hopes that the Bishop of London will before the Bill leaves the House introduce clauses dealing with that subject. I agree that that subject must be dealt with if this Bill is to be effective in its operation; but whether it is to be done by clauses added to this Bill or not I am not so sure. Why did the clauses about Sunday Closing perish on former occasions? Because they were combined with others which the House was not prepared to accept, because the subject was too complicated, too difficult, and too large. But we do urgently require legislation dealing with clubs if we take this step. 925 But I am not convinced that it should be by adding clauses to this particular Bill rather than having a separate measure on the subject of clubs. I am not prepared to say that the second method would not be a better proposal than the first. That is not a matter of principle but of detail, after all. Everyone who advocates this Bill feels that its provisions ought to be accompanied, either in this Bill or in another Bill, by legislation in regard to clubs, because the possibility of advantage being taken of additional Sunday Closing to multiply the number of drinking clubs is too palpable to require to be asserted. It goes without saying. We have to bear in mind the qualification of which the Bishop of London reminded us. Clubs are not more frequent in the regions where Sunday Closing prevails than they are in the regions where it does not. But I agree that we ought to have legislation of that kind either within this Bill or outside it.
This Bill deserves our support because it falls in so largely with the movement, wholesome in every respect, for additional security for the rest day for great portions of the population. It is appalling if any one will look into these statistics to see what are the hours now being worked by those concerned in the liquor trade as compared with corresponding workpeople in other trades. There are said to be 300,000 employees—I have had no means of testing the figures myself—in what may be called the public-house industry to-day. Almost all of these people are deprived to a very large extent of their Sunday rest, and they have the right to ask that they shall not be left out of consideration when we are dealing with a subject of this kind. Reference was made by the right rev. Prelate in introducing the Bill, and has been made I think by others, to the question whether or no the actual holders of licensed premises are themselves to any large extent in favour of this measure. I do not believe it would be possible to obtain figures to prove that matter. Licensees in almost all cases are far from being free agents, and it is difficult for them to express their desire for legislation of this sort. But no one can be familiar, as some Bishops are, with many of the men and women engaged in this trade without being perfectly certain that, although probably they may refrain from outward expression, they are themselves amongst the most cordial supporters of measures of this kind. It is not wonderful 926 if one thinks what the hours are, and sees what such a change as is proposed would mean for them.
The only question which startles one is that this Bill, which we all say is so much desired, has not become law already. I said in this House a little while ago that anything which has unanimous support runs a risk for that very reason of not having effect given to it. General unanimity of desire, as was instanced in the case of the reform of the Poor Law, is one reason why there has not been the fuel for the engine to press it forward in the ordinary give-and-take of Parliamentary affairs. I believe that after the welcome which has been given to-night in general terms—beyond reservations as to certain details—to the Bill which has been introduced by my right rev. brother, we may expect to see the principle at all events which this Bill contains made the law of the land before very long. I most cordially give the Bill my support, and hope it will receive a Second Reading.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
My Lords, I rise, not for the purpose of continuing the debate, but merely for the purpose of putting a question to the right rev. Prelate who has brought forward this Bill. I agree with what was said by the noble Marquess on this side of the House and also by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that it would be quite useless to pass a Bill of this sort unless there were also included regulations with regard to clubs. The most rev. Primate said just now that it might be objected that regulations with regard to clubs is a subject which is not entirely germane to this Bill. That may be quite true, but in the Scottish Temperance Bill of last year there were included stringent regulations with regard to clubs. If I recollect rightly, it was done on the motion of Lord St. Aldwyn. Certainly those clauses were regarded by this House and by the other House as being quite compatible with a Bill relating to temperance. But the question which I wish to put to the right rev. Prelate is this. Does he or does he not intend to insert such clauses? and further, is it or is it not a fact that at the present moment clubs are included in the first subsection of the first clause of the Bill? Because the other day I read a statement which was published apparently in favour of the Bill in which it appeared that clubs were included, or 927 were intended to be included. If the right rev. Prelate will look at the subsection he will see the words—all premises in which intoxicating liquors are sold or exposed for sale by retail.Well, a club surely is premises in which intoxicating liquor is sold by retail. What I wish to know is this, Does the right rev. Prelate imagine that under that subsection clubs are included, or does he not?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Salisbury has so exactly expressed my feelings with regard to this Bill that I do not think I should have troubled your Lordships with any observations upon the matter had it not been that the right rev. Prelate who moved the Second Reading made a rather pointed reference to me at the opening of his speech, in which he quoted a short letter that I wrote to a correspondent in November, 1908. With all respect to the right rev. Prelate I think he read rather more into my letter than the text contained. In my view it amounted to little more than this, that I recognised that the subject of Sunday trading was one which could be best dealt with apart from the other much more controversial matters which we were then discussing. I also conceded that it was less controversial than those matters. At any rate, the right rev. Prelate must not regard my letter as a kind of blank cheque which I can allow him to fill up in favour of this Bill, or of any other proposals. I thought the right rev. Prelate was rather sanguine when he described this Bill as an uncontroversial measure. I venture to think, on the contrary, that it contains some extremely controversial proposals. For myself I always regard these proposals for the reduction of the liquor trade from this point of view. We have none of us ever admitted that the consumption or the sale of liquor is a crime. When, therefore, it is proposed to pass laws which have the effect of interfering either with the sale or with the consumption of liquor, we cannot disguise from ourselves that we are really interfering, and interfering in a very drastic manner, with, on the one hand, a lawful trade, and, on the other, a consumption which is perfectly legitimate and which has never been otherwise regarded by the law.
We have therefore in a case of this kind, in the first place, to prove that the abuse is there; 928 and, in the next, to prove that the remedy will be an effectual remedy. That there is a certain amount of abuse in connection with Sunday trading none of us will, I think, dispute; but I am on the whole under the impression that it is a diminishing and not an increasing abuse. I am under the impression that the individual in this country is becoming more sober with every year that passes, and the community as a whole more decent and orderly than of old. I also think that we ought not to lose sight of the fact that there are other agencies at work from which we may hope much will be done to mitigate the evils not only of Sunday drinking but of all drinking. The right rev. Prelate admitted with great frankness that there was a weak point in his Bill, the failure to deal with the all-important question of clubs. He told us that the two questions were not strictly connected. I cannot entirely agree with that contention. It seems to me that you cannot keep out of sight the fact that if difficulties are put in the way of those who sell liquor and those who consume liquor at public-houses, you do inevitably and automatically stimulate the sale and consumption of liquor at the so-called clubs which are now growing apace all over the country. These clubs seem to me now to parade attractions more seductive than of old. They axe under little or no Police supervision, their hours are unregulated, and they are often little more than mere drinking places. I was sent the other day a copy of a journal called Club Life, which I dare say the right rev. Prelate has seen. I find in it column after column of advertisements of these clubs. All of them, almost without exception, publish an intimation that they will be open at different hours on Sunday. There are lists of the artistes who appear. I will not read them. A good many of the clubs appear to have some political connection. I see there is the Mildmay Radical Club, the Hackney Liberal Club, the Mile End Reform Club; but all are able apparently to produce an extremely attractive variety entertainment, and at all of them I understand liquor can be freely obtained and consumed.
My noble friend behind me reminded the House that when we had to deal with the question of the liquor trade in Scotland we made it our business to deal with the clubs as well as with the public-houses, and that does seem to me to be a strong argument for the suggestion that has been 929 made that the right rev. Prelate should do the same. I observe that he quoted the testimony of Colonel Hall Walker, who speaks with knowledge upon the subject and who expresses himself favourably to these proposals, but only upon the condition that the consumption of liquor through other channels should be checked. That seems to me to be an eminently reasonable view of the case. With the question of the bona fide traveller my noble friend Lord Salisbury has dealt sufficiently. I was shown a few moments ago one of those cartoons which now play so large a part in our public life, in which there was portrayed a motor car travelling in a cloud of dust along the road heading straight, no doubt, for the nearest hotel or public-house, and two pedestrians smothered with the dust and unable to slake their thirst. I venture to say that legislation which allows that kind of discrepancy of treatment to take place is very mischievous legislation. I certainly hope that the right rev. Prelate himself, before this Bill goes to the Committee stage, will feel that it is incumbent upon him rather than upon us to produce clauses dealing with the club question.
The right rev. Prelate did not mention at all, I think, the question of the authority by whom this legislation is to be set in motion. I venture to think that it is very undesirable that the magistrates should be entrusted with the duty of deciding how this question is to be treated in the different areas for which they are responsible, and I am fortified in that opinion by the Majority Report of the Licensing Commission, in which I find a sentence to this effect—Many temperance reformers advocate that the question of hours should be placed within the discretion of the licensing authorities; but it would lead to public inconvenience, and is in other respects objectionable, that the regulations as to the hours of closing should vary according to the views of each licensing authority, in some oases exercising their powers within small areas. For instance, within the Metropolitan Police area there might be twelve or more different sets of regulations as to hours. We therefore recommend that all such regulations should be laid down by statute as heretofore.I think that is an argument which appeals very strongly to one.
I have risen not for the purpose of throwing any difficulty in the way of this Bill. We are, as my noble friend reminds 930 us, pledged to the principle of the limitation of hours on Sundays; and I think I a m more moved than by any other argument by the argument of the most rev. Primate who made a strong appeal to us on behalf of the 300,000 persons employed in this trade. We should all of us, I am sure, be glad to see their heavy burden mitigated. But, my Lords, while I do not desire to throw difficulties in the way of the Second Reading of the Bill, I do think that it is only fair to warn the fight rev. Prelate that some of us may take perhaps more interest than he would like in the Bill during its progress through Committee, and that we shall in particular ask to have the question of clubs dealt with in a manner satisfactory to us.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.