HC Deb 10 June 1857 vol 145 cc1491-537

Order for Second Reading, read,

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


, in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, expressed the reluctance which he felt in doing so, not because he was not convinced of the propriety of such a course, but because he was unwilling to appear to be an opponent of a measure brought in with the view of putting an end to intemperance. Without being a teetotaller, and still less a supporter of that great absurdity the Maine Liquor Law, he felt at the same time as sincere a desire to do everything to encourage temperance and sobriety as any hon. Gentleman present, and he was satisfied that his hon. Friend, in bringing forward this Motion, had been actuated by a deep conviction of the evils arising from drunkenness. That drunkenness was a vice which did prevail in this country to a considerable extent he could not deny, but he did not believe that it had increased of late years. On the contrary, the tendency of things was directly in the opposite direction; while, for the repression of that which remained, he would look rather to the improvement of the habits of the people than to the aid of increased restrictions. Many causes were in operation to diminish drunkenness in this country. First of all there was the greater influence of good example. Not many years ago the example set by people of position, by country gentlemen, and even in many cases by country clergymen, had by no means tended to discourage that vice; but now the tone of society had entirely changed in that respect. Then, again, there were other causes, such as the increased sense of responsibility among employers of labour, and consequently, an increased attention to the welfare of those whom they employed, improved dwellings for the working classes, sanitary improvements, the establishments of parks for the labouring classes, as well as the improved education of both the labourers and their wives, and other general causes of that description, which tended to discourage drunkenness; so much so, in fact, that he did not consider it Utopian to expect a time would come when a drunkard would be regarded with the same discredit by the labouring classes as he was now by the upper classes. Turning to the measure before the House, he thought the traffic in intoxicating liquors certainly required regulation, but not such as the Bill proposed. When it was first brought forward, he was sorry to observe the name of the hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. W. Brown) on the back of the Bill. He (Mr. Seymer) thought this must have arisen from mistake; and he was glad to know that his hon. Friend had found that he was so far mistaken as to the object of the measure that he was now going to second the Motion he (Mr. Seymer) had risen to propose. He thought it possible that his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Brown) might have been inveigled by the licensed victuallers of South Lancashire when the Committee which had been appointed to inquire into the licensing system had made their Report; that body had thought it so important that they were afraid it would not long remain a dead letter; they became alarmed, and issued a circular to Members of Parliament, which stated that licences of houses having now become a matter of settlement, a great disarrangement of property would ensue if the Report were embodied in an Act of the Legislature. Doubtless they might have some reason for apprehension, many of them having made large outlay upon their premises, and entered into entangling alliances with brewers, which afforded a reason for dealing cautiously with this question, but it did not furnish any reason for adhering to a bad system, and one which had been condemned unanimously by the House of Commons. Now, he had on a former occasion been called a young free-trader; that was true, but he was one of those who thinking that a system of protection to native industry was the true policy of the country, had fought the battle against free trade; but now that the cause for which he had contended was lost and the principle of unrestricted competition admitted, he wished to see that principle carried to its fullest extent. Even while the battle was going on, Dorsetshire had never asked for protection against Somersetshire, or Somersetshire against Wiltshire. All that he had contended for was, that they should have protection against those who worked under more advantageous conditions than they did. On the other hand, here were those Lancashire men calling for protection against those who sold beer, subject to precisely the same conditions as themselves. Now in speaking of the licensing system, let it not be said he was not addressing himself to the question. It was proposed by the Bill before them to extend to beer-houses the system of the licensed houses, while the Committee of which he had been a Member had condemned the licensing system altogether; and, indeed, primâ facie, the system was indefensible. Why should they allow any body of men, no matter how respectable, to determine what were the wants of a neighbourhood. Such a notion was not to be tolerated for a moment. He did not think the hon. Gentlemen were aware to what extent this public-house trade was a restricted trade. Two Sessions ago he had moved for some returns which threw a light upon that point, as far as the metropolitan districts were concerned. The returns were not complete, but they showed that during five years there had been 2343 applications for spirit licences, and of these only 493 had been successful, of which 73 were from the Tower Hamlets. So that nearly 2,000 applications were unsuccessful. He did not mean to say that 2,000 individuals had been refused a licence, for no doubt the custom was to apply more than once in the same district, but simply that there had been 2,000 applications rejected. He himself saw a man yesterday who had applied seventeen times for a licence without success, although his petition had been most respectably supported. Now, he had a right to assume, and he thought no one would dispute the position, that the great majority of those persons were of good character—certainly of as good character as the existing licensed victuallers, and that, therefore, their applications were not refused upon the ground of character. No; they were refused out of consideration for existing interests, and for no other reason. He himself had seen this case occur;—a respectable man having for some years kept a beer-shop, he applied for a licence to sell spirits, and he was supported by the clergyman of the parish, by the churchwardens, by the overseers, and most of the respectable inhabitants; but he was opposed by an attorney, of course on grounds of public morality. Was it public morality that retained that attorney? Was it public morality that paid him? No; it was private monopoly that retained him, and private monopoly that paid him. So that in England it was highly moral for A, B, C, the existing licensed victuallers, to have the privilege of making Her Majesty's subjects drunk with spirits as well as beer; but it was very much the reverse for D, E, or F to have the same power. It was literally a question of the "ins and the outs." The present system gave rise to great anomalies, and he would mention two cases of peculiar hardship which had occurred. When there was a prospect of the railway being carried as far as Weymouth, one of the oldest inhabitants of the town, thinking that more hotel accommodation was required there, bought one of the principal houses in the town for the purpose of fitting it up as an hotel. He accordingly applied to the magistrates for a spirit licence, but the magistrates refused him. Now, in that case there was no pretence of the applicant being an improper character; the application was simply refused in defence of existing interests. Fortunately, however, he was a rich man, and he was able to appeal to the Quarter Sessions against the decision of the magistrates, when the application was unanimously granted. But had he been a poor man, the effect of the present system would have been fatal to him, and a very useful project would have been defeated. The second case which he would cite was that of the refreshment room at the Southampton station. For some time only beer could be procured at that station, as the magistrates had refused to grant a spirit licence, until the inconvenience was felt to be so great that remonstrances were poured in from some of the first people in the land, and eventually the licence was granted. But the very idea of the thing being questioned amounted in his mind to a condemnation of the whole system. They had the strongest possible evidence of the connection between public-houses and beerhouses. The evidence of Mr. Hawes, of Southwark, a most respectable gentleman, and formerly a brewer, left no doubt upon the point. He stated distinctly that he believed a great number of the public-houses belonged to the brewers, both directly and indirectly, and that it was a very common thing for an understanding to exist between the person applying for the licence and the brewer. In some parts of England that connection existed to a much greater extent than in others. For example, Birmingham was quite free from it, while the eastern counties, Northumberland, and the metropolis, were completely under its influence. The brewers were a wealthy class, and he did not envy them their wealth; but at the same time he would never consent to that wealth being applied to the maintenance of an artificial system. Yes, the brewers were a wealthy body of men. He remembered that there was a story told to the effect that one of their body had been in treaty for the purchase of a house in Belgrave Square, but that he had been remonstrated with by three or four other brewers who were residing there already, and who told him it would never do to add to the number. The consequence had been that the gentleman in question had subsided into the comparatively obscure region of Eaton Place. The story, perhaps, might not be quite true, but he could only say si non e vero, e ben trovato. At any rate, he did not want to help these rich brewers to princely palaces in Belgrave Square, by perpetuating their monopoly in the supply of beer to the labouring classes. Still, with respect to the proprietors of the public-houses, it was his opinion that, as a class, they would suffer no injury if a complete change were made in the system by which they were now regulated. Their present position was not, at all events, of a very satisfactory nature, as was clearly demonstrated by the evidence which had been laid before the Committee, testifying to the fact that frequent transfers of those establishments were made from one person to another. Everything that was bad in the system which now prevailed must be traced to the restrictions which it established, and the House might depend upon it that, if that restriction were removed, the result would be, under the auspices of free trade, the sale of better articles in our public-houses, and the provision of better accommodation for the labouring classes, while no greater degree of immorality than at present existed would be found to prevail. Having alluded to the question of immorality, he might mention that Mr. R. Gladstone, who was well acquainted with Liverpool, had stated that, in Dale Street, in that town, a man might get drunk every day in the week, and yet never go into the same house for the purpose twice. He (Mr. Seymer) did not know Dale Street, and he was perfectly ready to admit that the houses referred to might be, for the most part, beer shops; but he thought he could point out streets in the metropolis where a person might got drunk every day in the month upon spirits, without being under the necessity of twice resorting to the same establishment. Indeed, no man could fairly contend that there was the slightest difficulty interposed in the way of a person, with a half-a-crown in his pocket, who was inclined to get drunk upon spirits in any of the large towns throughout the country. There were, he might add, public-houses in the metropolis which were, and always had been, conducted in the most disorderly manner. As he returned home from that House, he constantly saw drunken persons coming out of those places night after night, long after the hour at which beer-shops were obliged by law to be closed. When those establishments became so notorious as to attract the attention of the authorities, their licences were, as a matter of general practice, transferred, and thus the nuisance was perpetuated from year to year. From certain returns which had been laid upon the table of the House, it might be inferred that the great safeguard in such instances consisted in the power to refuse a renewal of the licences. But how, he would ask, did the system really operate? Why, out of the 6,000 public-houses in the metropolis there were but thirty-six which had not, during the last five years, had a renewal of their licences, and out of those thirty-six twelve were situated in South-wark. That statement, however, did not put the matter in its true light, for only fifteen public-houses had been permanently closed in the metropolis during the last five years, and of these twelve were in Southwark, so that in the whole of the remaining portion of the metropolis there were only three in the cases of which a permanent suspension of their licences had taken place. How, under those circumstances, could any one contend that the great safeguard against immorality was to be sought in the existence of a power to refuse to the proprietors of public-houses a renewal of their licences. That was a view of the question which, in his opinion, no man of common sense ought for a moment to endeavour to uphold. The next point to which he wished to advert was the large sums of money which were paid for public-houses, and which Alderman Wire, who was the advocate of the licensed victuallers, had accounted for before the Committee by stating, they were for the most part paid for the goodwill of those establishments. Now, he (Mr. Seymer) did not believe that to be the fact, inasmuch as some of the evidence taken before the Committee had clearly proved that the enhanced value, to which he alluded, was allowed to operate in very many instances before these houses had actually been built; and he, for one, was disposed to regard that enhanced value as the consequence of a restricted trade. It was said that the proprietors of public-houses were a very respectable class of men, but he had not the fear of Bell's Life so much before his eyes as to call that portion of them respectable, at all events, who, as prize-fighters, obtained a public-house, because they happened to have a good drinking connection amongst the "fancy." All those discreditable arrangements for prize-fights were made at such establishments. If any hon. Member, for instance, wished to ascertain by what steamboat he must go, in order to witness one of those encounters in the neighbourhood of the Essex Marshes, or by what train he ought to proceed with a similar object, and with a good chance of dodging the police, the best course he could take would be to frequent the public-houses to which he had just alluded, and got "the office," as it was called. He believed, indeed, that upon one occasion a train conveying Her Majesty's Justices of Assize had been shunted off its line, in order to allow a train bent upon one of those disgraceful expeditions to pass upon its way. Beer-shops were not sufficiently respectable to be frequented by members of the prize-fighting fraternity; they, therefore, congregated at the public-houses; and at the present moment two licensed victuallers were under an engagement to fight for £200 a side, and as meetings were held from time to time at various houses for the purpose of making £10 deposits, on the payment of each instalment there would be a grand carouse and a vast consumption of beer. The last thing, however, it would appear, which occurred to the authorities was to take away their licences from such places; and the result was that they were allowed to go on in the manner which he had just described. Now, he apprehended that when those circumstances were taken into account the House would find it extremely difficult to draw any very wide distinction between beer-shops and public-houses upon the score of morality. It was certain that in some low neighbourhoods magistrates had sanctioned, or at least winked at, practices which they would never have permitted in better neighbourhoods. From the evidence which had been laid before the Committee, he was happy to say it appeared that dangerous adulteration of the articles sold in either class of establishment did not in any very considerable degree prevail. The worst species of adulteration which was practised was the putting of salt into the beer, which accounted for the thirst which those who were in the habit of consuming that beverage frequently experienced. The chief mode of adulteration, however, was that of dilution by the use of water; and upon that head Mr. Caldwell, who, he believed, was a dancing-master rather than the proprietor of a public-house, had let the Committee into some of the secrets of the trade. In reply to a question which had been put to him that gentleman said, "We always dash the beer." "What do you mean by that?" Answer: "Why, we pump the New-river into it." It was but justice to the brewers to say that all their beer was sent out perfectly good; but there was not a single public-house in which, he believed, the beer was not adulterated. Mr. Hawes, who had been himself a brewer, in his evidence said, he had never tasted beer in a public-house that was not adulterated. Although the law strictly forbade adulteration or dilution, that description of offence was constantly practised. He might be told that there were also adulterations practised in the grocery trade, and no one thought of regulating that trade. His answer was, that the law was strong enough to punish such adulterations, when proved. He contended that if the trade were thrown open the public would have the best articles. Now, the House would perceive that, with reference to adulteration, the owner of a public-house stood in a different position from the proprietor of a beer-shop. The former could afford to sell his beer at a small profit, or, in other words, not to adulterate it, inasmuch as the sale of wine and spirits constituted the principal source of his income. The contrary was the case of the man who sold beer alone, because he could not hope to make up by the profits accruing from the sale of wine and spirits for a diminution in the price of that one article. The competition, then, between both stood upon a footing unfavourable to the latter. He wished next to make one or two observations with respect to the bearing of the subject generally upon the character and position of the magistrates. He, for one, must disclaim all intention of casting upon the magistrates the imputation of being influenced in the granting of licences by corrupt motives. It nevertheless very frequently happened that in those towns in which political feeling ran high at the elections a suspicion always attached to the conduct of a magistrate by whom a licence was refused, if the applicant happened to be a member of a different party. One witness who had been examined before the Committee, for instance, having stated that to be the case, had given it as his opinion that the circumstance was not productive of much evil where parties were pretty evenly balanced, but that when the contrary took place the licences were said to be granted all in one direction. The magistrates were also objects of suspicion, if they had even the slightest intimacy with a brewer, to those in whose case a licence happened to be refused. That, however, was to be attributed to the existing law which really suggested suspicion by enacting that no brewer should be upon the bench when licences were granted. Still that was a position, he should maintain, in which the magistrates ought not to be placed. He for his own part, as a magistrate, should wish to be relieved from the performance of a duty which he felt he could not satisfactorily discharge. The next point to which he was anxious to refer was the particular system by which beer-shops were regulated. That system was generally considered to be a failure, but that opinion must be regarded with some reservation. The history of those establishments dated as far back as the year 1830, when the Government of the day had determined to abolish the beer duty, and thus to sacrifice a large amount of revenue. But so strongly had the Government felt that the community at large would not be benefited by the reduction of the duty unless the restrictive system of the old public-houses was obviated, that they had deemed it expedient to legalize the opening of beer-shops. A strong opposition, however, had been offered in Committee by the great brewers to the passing of the Bill embodying that proposal, inasmuch as, although they had been favourable to the reduction of the duty, they had looked with disfavour upon any attempt to throw open the trade in beer to general competition. The Bill, notwithstanding their opposition, had passed into a law, and he might add that Mr. Calvert had stated it to be his opinion, on the second reading of the Bill, that its operation would lead to the absolute ruin of the great body of licensed victuallers, and to the destruction of the property of the manufacturers of the article to which it related. But to what property was it, he would ask, that that statement of Mr. Calvert referred? Was it meant that the operation of the Bill would be to destroy the plants of the great brewers? No, but their property as the owners of public-houses, which position was by no means legitimately connected with their business as manufacturers of beer. The measure, however, had not led to the deplorable consequences which Mr. Calvert had anticipated, because the great brewers, after all, were doing pretty well at the present day. Now, the reduction in the duty on beer having taken place, he was perfectly ready to concur in the proposal that for the two classes of houses which had since been in existence there should be but one licence. There was, indeed, a class of houses in which, as any hon. Member who went much about town must be aware, a glass of ale and a sandwich might be had for the small sum of 4d.—an economical species of refreshment of which he had in more than one of his walks in the outskirts of the metropolis availed himself with much pleasure. The proprietors of that class of houses did not, he believed, desire to have any other licence than that which they at present possessed, and he, for one, should not propose to force a spirit licence upon any person who did not require it. The shellfish shops came under the same category. There was, for instance, the very excellent oyster shop of Mr. Challoner, in Bell Yard, with which all those who were in the habit of passing by the short cut from Lincoln's Inn to the Temple through Bell Yard must be acquainted, and which was also a beer-shop. He did not think, however, that the attractions of oysters and gin would afford the young Templars in the neighbourhood any greater inducement to frequent the shop than at present existed, and therefore it might in that case also be considered that a spirit licence was unnecessary. He did not, therefore, wish that it should be forced upon the owners of such establishments; but he was fully prepared to carry out the recommendation of the Committee, and to give every man of good character who desired it, a beer and spirit licence. Mr. Pownall, the Middlesex magistrate, who gave evidence in favour of the licensing system, stated that the beer-shop keepers were not a respectable class, because of the small profits. But was not that the result of the system which narrowed the scope of their profits? With regard to drunkenness, he thought not much dependence could be placed on statistics, as bearing on the question, as that depended on other circumstances than the system of selling liquor. The evils which were complained of in the petitions which had been presented from the West Riding might, he thought, very fairly be attributed to the absence of an efficient system of police, and he might remind the House that the magistrates of the West Riding had offered the most strenuous opposition to the establishment of such a system. He might also observe that the number of instances in which the owners of beer-shops had transgressed the law by keeping them open beyond the legal hours was not a fair criterion of the mode in which they were conducted as compared with the public-houses, because the hours of keeping open were limited in the case of the latter only one night in the week, while in the case of the former there was a limitation every night in the week. As a Member of the Committee, he asked Mr. Wire, the able advocate of the licensed victuallers, whether he thought that a butcher who was compelled by law to sell only veal could compete with others who were allowed to trade in every kind of meat? Mr. Wire answered by saying he did not consider that a fair question. Now, he (Mr. Seymer) thought it a very fair question, inasmuch as it completely illustrated the position of the beer-shop keepers in relation to the publicans. Sir R. Mayne and other authorities had certified that the beer-shops in the metropolis were conducted quite as well as the houses of the licensed victuallers, and, taking them as a whole, he (Mr. Seymer) should maintain that no such difference prevailed between the two classes of establishments as would justify the House in supporting a system which was opposed to the general commercial policy of the country. The Committee had come to the resolution that the sale of intoxicating drinks should be subjected to one uniform licence, and that such licence should be issued by the magistrates. Now, as the magistrates were the best judges of the characters of the applicants they might very well be intrusted with a discretionary power in the matter; but he altogether objected to its being left to the magistrates to determine what were the wants of a particular neighbourhood. To that portion of the Bill before the House which related to coffee-shops he was disposed to assent, although he regretted that the question of their regulation had not been raised in a separate form. The Bill also proposed to extend the operation of the Tippling Act, but, he must say that, although he did not object to the proposal, he had no great confidence in its efficacy to put an end to the evil which it was intended to remove. The Bill, however, was open to objection upon the score of its omitting to deal with more than one subject of importance. Among them, for instance, was the question of the position occupied by the free vintners. That constituted a very anomalous class of persons who were nobody knew what, and whose licences were obtained nobody knew where. A notorious house, known as the Piccadilly Saloon, was, he believed, kept open for many years, under a free vintner's licence. There was also the question of the restriction upon the sale of spirits in any less quantity than two gallons, which he could not help regarding as a great absurdity. These were subjects with which he should wish that the Bill proposed to deal, but as he had occupied the time of the House at considerable length, he should not enter further into the discussion of those subjects on that occasion. He had only to say in conclusion, that he hoped the strong Government which it was said the country now possessed would exhibit its strength by dealing with the question under its notice, if not in the present, at all events in the next Session of Parliament. All Administrations were, he believed, somewhat afraid to encounter the licensed victuallers, who constituted a powerful body, thoroughly organized, possessing considerable influence at elections, and represented by an organ of large circulation in the public press, second, indeed, he believed, to The Times alone. They were therefore not to be despised; but still he would say to the Government, be just, and fear not; recollect there was a body still more powerful—the British public—who he felt assured, when they thoroughly understood the question, would be ready to support the views which the Committee entertained, and which he had feebly attempted to advocate. The hon. Member concluded by moving to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the question to add the words, "upon this day six months."


, (who was imperfectly heard) said, that he had been induced to put his name on the Bill which had been introduced by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hardy) under the impression that it was meant to be a move in the right direction; but the moment he had read it he had seen the mistake which he had committed, and had informed the hon. and learned Member that he should offer to the progress of the measure his most strenuous opposition. As a proof, however, that he was anxious to correct the abuses connected with public-houses and to impose a due check and regulation on places of resort of a similar character, he might state that he had moved for the Committee to inquire into the subject, and he might add that the magistracy of Liverpool had memorialized the Government, begging of them to take the matter into their serious consideration. He said that the Committee which sat on this subject in 1853–4 was a most able one. Mr. Lowe, Sir George Grey, and Mr. Villiers, were among its Members. After sitting two Sessions and asking 15,000 questions they agreed unanimously to a series of resolutions drawn up by the Chairman. The Committee were appointed— To examine into the system under which public-houses, hotels, beer-shops, dancing saloons, coffee-houses, theatres, temperance hotels, and places of public entertainment, by whatever name they may be called, are sanctioned and are now regulated, with a view of reporting to this House whether any alteration or amendment of the law can be made for the better preservation of public morals, the protection of the revenue, and for the proper accommodation of the public. With these powers they proceeded to examine witnesses, and they afterwards made a Report, a most valuable document and one which was amply borne out by the evidence taken before them. In the year 1817 a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the system of licensing public-houses in the metropolis. They thus described the practice which then prevailed:— It is in evidence before your Committee, and they understand it to be a common practice in the metropolis, for the beadle of the different parishes, for a small gratuity, to obtain the signatures of the number of inhabitants required by law, the clergymen and parish officers seldom offering their signature, or, if they do, they sign on the faith of the beadle's representation; the certificate so signed is then either delivered to the high constable, and by him to the clerk to the Justices (who, in the Tower division, is an agent to a great established brewery), and by him laid before the magistrates for their approbation. In one case that has been stated to your Committee the witness, who is a publican, did not attend the licensing magistrates at all; but the beadle of the parish obtained a licence, paying 5s. at the office to the justices' clerk, and receiving 5s. 6d. himself for his trouble. The Committee reported that the monopoly of public-houses in the hands of the brewers, distillers, &c., which existed in different parts of the country was very prejudicial to the interests of the community at large. They— Strongly implored the different magistrates in the country to lend their aid to break down a confederacy which is so injurious to the interests of the poor and middling classes of the community. Your Committee feel that it is not necessary to examine with minute detail the evidence that has been given to them of the influence which brewers have with the magistracy. A certain and clear primâ facie case is made out, and strong presumptive proof offered which has satisfied them that in different licensing divisions in the metropolis, a bias, to say the least of it, is felt in favour of particular interests. Mr. Han-bury has stated that his house employs Mr. Thomson, one of the clerks of the licensing justices, as agent, for the purpose of forwarding their views with regard to licences. The same firm also retained in the same manner Mr. Lush, a clerk in the police office, Worship-street. Your Committee cannot avoid remarking, that the principle of these retentions is obvious. Mr. Thomson is to stand their friend when a new licence is to be granted. Mr. Lush was to lend them his aid when informations were laid against those already licensed. It was clear from this Report of the Committee of 1817 that the licensing system was devised to protect the morals of the public, and that in this respect it utterly failed, worse still, that it demoralized all the persons connected with it. Magistrates, magistrates' clerks, high constables, beadles, brewers, distillers, wine merchants, and publicans, were all described in the Report as corrupted and demoralized by the licensing system, while at the same time the public were supplied with an adulterated article, at a much higher price than a genuine article could have been sold for upon free trade principle. The Committee of 1854, speaking of the evidence taken before them condemnatory of the exerceise of the magisterial power in granting licences, said:— The existence of a suspicion that licences are withheld and granted capriciously, and that the influence of builders and brewers is more potent than either the character of the applicant or the requirements of the public in procuring a licence, whether well founded or not, might afford sufficient ground for relieving the magistracy from duties which, however great their desire to do so, it has been impossible for them satisfactorily to discharge. It was impossible for magistrates to know the character of the applicants for licences, and there was grave reason to suppose that the power of granting licences was frequently used for political purposes. It was clear that the system did not protect the morals of the community, that it demoralized all connected with it, and that it was exceedingly injurious to the public. Mr. D. W. Harvey, the chief commissioner of the city police, said— A person intrusted with the power of granting licences should be independent of local interests, and responsible to a higher authority, the same as our police magistrates. I consider the applicant for a licence ought to produce bond as a guarantee for good conduct. It is no slight test of character if a man who proposes to have a house licensed can find two persons who will be his sureties. After a man has incurred two or three penalties there ought to be a summary mode by which he can be divested of his licence. I apprehend the licensed houses and licensed beer-houses in the city are abundantly sufficient to intoxicate the entire population. I am not aware there is anything in the price of the liquor or the access that the public have to it that creates any obstacle to drunkenness. If the people are so disposed they can have it under the present system. I do not consider a well-conducted house a nuisance. I do not consider the house next door to me a nuisance. I do not consider if the licences were doubled in the city it would require an addition of a constable. If the trade was thrown open the number of houses at first might increase, but I am of an opinion that experience would diminish the number afterwards. He hoped that hon. Members, before voting for this Bill would wait and see what the Government intended to do, and he must express a strong hope that the Government would themselves bring in a measure, and not leave independent Members to deal with this subject.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now." and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


expressed his thanks to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Hardy) for attempting to grapple with a great and acknowledged grievance. He could never subscribe to the doctrine that when Ministers had failed to remedy an acknowledged grievance, that any independent Member who endeavoured to abolish it should be deemed to be improperly interfering with the business of the Government. He regretted to hear one observation from the hon. Member for Dorsetshire who moved the Amendment. He alluded to that in which he warned the magistrates to avoid the discharge of those duties which the present Bill would impose upon them. There was a hackneyed phrase that "properly had its duties as well as its tights." It was his belief that the security of the rights of property depended upon the performance of its duties; and, as a magistrate, he should be sorry to see the country gentlemen or the magistrates for boroughs and cities shrink from the performance of those duties they were best qualified to discharge, merely from a desire of avoiding invidious remarks that might be made upon their conduct. Such a disposition as that was well calculated to destroy the principle of local self-government. If those who were in independent circumstances, and who were the possessors of property in either town or country, should shrink from the performance of the duties inherent to their position, they would be throwing upon the Government an amount of responsibility and of power which would be totally inconsistent with the independence and the freedom of this country. Hon. Members appeared to think that the principle of casting as much responsibility as possible upon the shoulders of the Government was the perfection of legislation, and that the adoption of such a principle in the present case would be to free the system of licensing from the slightest stain of political bias. That expectation, if sincere, was contrary to all experience, and unreasonable. He could not entertain it. Let them but look at what happened in the United States. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. Brown), who lauded the internal system of Government, but rejected the example of the commercial and external policy of the United States, in his admiration of American institutions, would devolve upon the Government of this country all the functions appertaining to internal administration. The present was an instance in which the hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to relieve magistrates from the responsibility attached to the licensing system. He appealed to the hon. Member whether it was not the great misfortune of the United States that the people had permitted the central Government there to gradually monopolize all the responsible posts in the country, until they had become mere political temporary appointments, shifting with the changes of the administration? And was not this the evil of which the United States complained—namely, that men of high character and respectability refused to undertake those duties which their position in society and their ability best fitted them to discharge. This was a growing evil in America. It was the direct consequence of the centralization of the responsibility for all functions involving patronage, power, or discretion, and the subordination of all officials to political objects alien to their proper functions. He trusted that neither the borough councils nor the borough magistrates would shrink from the responsibility which properly belonged to them. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire, in a humorous speech, would have them to believe that no respectable persons would be connected with public-houses under the existing system. He would have it that persons connected with the prize-ring were without exception the type of all that is degraded, and yet that they were so particular that they frequented public-houses only. He (Mr. Newdegate) must, however, beg to except to this sweeping condemnation of all connected with the prize-ring, and, moreover, thought that prize-fighters frequented beer-shops as well as public-houses. The hon. Member for Leominster was endeavouring to obtain the same regulation for beer-houses as for public-houses, while the hon. Member for Dorset was endeavouring to revive the old struggle between beer-shops and the licensed victuallers; but the real question was whether some mode of regulating the evils of the beer-house system should not be adopted. He did not bind himself to all the provisions of the Bill before them, but he was determined to vote for its principle, because he thought it was one calculated to remove a great evil; and he would ever stand by an independent Member of that House who applied his ability—his great ability, as in the case of his hon. Friend —to meet an acknowledged evil which had been long neglected by the Government.


said, that the question of protection and free trade would he found at the bottom of this measure. Now, he was favourable to the principle of free trade, and should support it on all occasions. On free trade principles, then, he should appreciate the opposition to the present Bill; but the moral element in, the question should of course modify the principle in this particular instance. He was not enamoured of the particular machinery by which the public-houses were regulated under magisterial jurisdiction, and he went with the principle of free, trade, so as to be willing to relieve the trade as far as possible from all interference on the part of the magistrates, so far as that could be done consistently with a proper regard to the necessary police restrictions on the score of morality and good order. If those who opposed the second reading of this Bill had been prepared with a measure of their own, in which the principle of free trade was recognised in a manner compatible with the necessary restrictions for the security and maintenance of good order, it would then be a fair question for their consideration which of the two measures it would be, most desirable to adopt. But the House was left no such alternative in the present instance. The present system of licensing was extremely anomalous and irregular. There were two systems of licensing, two classes of public- houses, one under magisterial control, the other under very little control at all. There were also two systems of inspection and police regulation. That state of things required alteration. He should therefore support the second reading of the Bill, though he was bound to say that he did so principally because there was no alternative measure before the House. If the Government would bring in a measure which gave greater commercial freedom while it provided the necessary police regulations which the protection of the public required, he should feel as much at liberty to support such a measure as he now felt to give his vote in favour of the second reading of the present Bill.


As an appeal has been made to Her Majesty's Government by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, who has moved an Amendment against the second reading of this Bill, I feel it due to the hon. Gentleman and to the House to take an early opportunity of stating the intention of the Government with regard to this subject, and more especially in regard to the Bill which the House is now asked to allow to be read a second time. I certainly cannot concur in the opinion that any hon. Gentleman who has spoken on this subject has found fault with the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Hardy) for having brought it under the notice of the House. On the contrary, I think that hon. Member has done good service by taking up this question, and that this discussion cannot fail to do good and to create a better understanding of all the bearings of this question. Nor can I agree with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) that the only question before the House is, whether we shall or shall not exercise a greater control over beer-houses. That is not, as I understand it, the question raised by this discussion, which involves the particular mode of exercising that control proposed by the hon. Member for Leominster. I ought, perhaps, rather to say that the hon. Gentleman considering prevention better than cure, proposes to put an end to the system under which Parliament opened the beer trade in 1830, and to revert to the system which existed before 1830, by which a monopoly of the sale of beer existed under licences granted by the arbitrary decision of magistrates acting for different parts of the country. This was a settled principle, different from that which now prevails, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leo-minster proposes to revert to this principle, and to lay down a uniform regulation by which the magistrates are to be guided—namely, that there shall be an inquiry into the circumstances of the population within which the licences are granted, with a view of ascertaining the wants of the population and how much beer they ought to drink. That I take to be the principle of the hon. Gentleman's Bill, and regarding this as an attempt to repeal the Act of 1830, by which the beer trade was thrown open, and to revert to the system which existed before the Act of 1830, restricting the permission to sell beer to persons licensed by the mere will of the magistrates, who are to be guided in the exercise of that will by the supposed wants of the population, I must say, that to such a Bill I entertain the strongest objection. I must remind the House that the Act of 1830 was not passed without due consideration. In the first place, a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the subject, and upon their Report a Bill was brought in by the Chairman of the Committee, which was afterwards taken up by the Government. The Bill was adopted by Mr. Goulburn on the part of the Government, and it was also supported by Mr. Huskisson, who spoke in strong terms of the evils of the licensing system. The report and evidence taken by the Committee were fully considered during the debate, and, after repeated divisions, the Bill passed the House of Commons by large majorities. The Bill was afterwards advocated by the Duke of Wellington on the part of the Government in the House of Lords, and became the law of the land. The operation of the Act of 1830 has since been inquired into by Committees of both Houses, and I will ask the hon. and learned Member for Leominster whether he can produce in the Reports of cither of these Committees any one recommendation upon which he has grounded the Bill now before the House. The Committee of the House of Lords, appointed in 1850, expressed, it is true, a strong feeling of disappointment that the Act of 1830 had not been attended with the beneficial results which were expected from it; but they were not prepared, looking at the advantages which the public had derived from the operation of the Act, to recommend its repeal. Adverting to the fact that many of the beer-houses were conducted by highly respectable persons, they were not only not prepared to repeal the Act of 1830 and to recommend that no licences should be granted except by magistrates acting arbitrarily; but they would not even go the length of recommending that the licences granted should be confined to the sale of beer not consumed on the premises, because they held that such a change would deprive the public of a great advantage, and they only suggested certain regulations by which they thought that the evils of the system might be remedied, such as increasing the rating of the houses at which beer should be sold, together with other minor changes. Therefore, in 1850, the Committee of the House of Lords, after a full inquiry, although they saw many evils in the existing law, and although they thought the system far from perfect, yet hesitated to recommend what would have been a less infraction of the principle of the Act of 1830 and less objectionable than the measure now before the House. A Committee of this House was appointed in 1853, which sat during that Session and a great part of 1854; of that Committee I was a Member in 1853, and although I was obliged on taking office in 1854 to cease to sit upon the Committee, and was not present during the latter part of the inquiry or a party to the Report, yet the evidence I heard produced a very great impression on my mind, and I thought the Report fully borne out by the evidence. That Committee took a great deal of evidence as to the effects of the licensing system upon public-houses as well as beer-shops, and this portion of the evidence the House will do well to consider carefully before they agree to the second reading of this Bill, That Committee, after examining many persons deeply anxious to promote the morality of the country, and after taking evidence from all parties and classes, arrived unanimously at the Report which has been referred to. I need not read it again, but it is diametrically opposed to the principle of this Bill. The House will do well, therefore, to be cautious in acceding to the second reading of a Bill which subverts the principle of the Bill of 1830, adopted after due inquiry by this House, and which reverts to a principle condemned by Committees of both Houses, and expressly condemned by the Committee of 1854, and diametrically opposed to its recommendations. But under what circumstances does the hon. and learned Gentleman ask the House to consent to the second reading of this Bill? The hon. and learned Gentleman said, most truly, that many evils arose from the extensive consumption of intoxicating liquors, that the beer-houses were in many places badly conducted, and were divested of proper checks and control; and, therefore, he proposed, that no licence should be given except by magistrates. But what are the facts with regard to the morality of the country? Evidence was given before the Committee with regard to many of the large towns in the kingdom—evidence, not only from those who wished to uphold the present system, but also from gentlemen anxious to see the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman carried out; and they agreed in stating that, notwithstanding the increase of beer-houses, drunkenness was greatly on the decrease. In certain places it was stated that drunkenness, from local causes, was on the increase; but the general opinion of the witnesses was, that drunkenness had much decreased throughout the country. Evidence was given on this subject from many of the large towns. Mr. Smith stated, with regard to Birmingham, that although there had been a great increase of the population, yet that he considered drunkenness had decreased, and that what drunkenness did exist was not caused by the sale of beer in beer-houses, but by the consumption of ardent spirits, sold by those publicans who had licences from the magistrates. If any hon. Gentleman will look to the evidence of Mr. Smith of Birmingham, he will find that that witness states in very strong terms his opinion, that the evil arising to the working classes from the drinking of spirits, is far greater than from the drinking of beer. He adds, that saloons, in which the enticements of music and dancing are held out, are licensed by the magistrates for the sale of spirits, and produce a great deal of immorality. The hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) also gave valuable evidence to that Committee, corroborating the evidence of Mr. Smith, and repeatedly declaring that drunkenness had decreased in Birmingham to a very great extent. Mr. Palmer gave remarkable evidence to the same effect in regard to Norwich; while in respect to Manchester, Dr. Hudson and Sir Elkanah Armitage stated, that there had also been loss drunkenness during the last few years. When, therefore, hon. Gentlemen ran away with the nation that the beer-houses have led to a great increase of intemperance, their opinions must be based on some limited local experience of their own; for certainly the evidence collected by the Committee was of a very gratifying nature as to the improved habits of the people, exhibited more particularly in the diminution of drunkenness, which unfortunately is the source of so much crime. It was also proved, that a great proportion of the evil connected with public-houses and beer-shops sprang not so much from defects in the law itself, as from its imperfect administration, in fact, from its not being put in force. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire has referred to the absence of a county police in the West Riding of Yorkshire; but the Committee found that much of the mischief under their consideration, arose not merely from there being no police to visit the beer-houses, but from the want of vigilance on the part of the magistrates in enforcing the law. The justices are at present empowered not only to impose the penalty attaching to any breach of the licensing regulations, but on a third conviction they can, if they please, absolutely disqualify the House in which the offence was committed from receiving a new licence for the space of two years, on certifying their decision to the Excise authorities. Yet, Mr. John Wood, late chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, deposed that he was not aware of a single instance in which such an adjudication had been forwarded to his department; and, consequently, that when licences were asked for there was no evidence to justify the Excise in withholding them. I will not waste the time of the House by going at length over the ground occupied by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire in his convincing arguments against the second reading of this Bill. As to the licensing system, I need only say, the evidence taken before the Committee proves that it has utterly failed to secure the morality of the country. It assumes that magistrates are competent to determine how much beer or spirits ought to be consumed in a given district, and can then limit the quantity to be drunk by prescribing the number of houses from which the supply is to be obtained. But, even granting that they can form a correct estimate—which I deny—of how much beer can be legitimately required for a particular neighbourhood, it is obvious that limiting the number of public-houses will not secure the end in view, because they cannot limit the quantity to lie sold in each house. There are also other motives which influence the magistrates in their decisions. The evidence of Mr. Pownall, chairman of the Middlesex magistrates, who was anxious to see the mode of licensing beer-houses put on the same footing as public-houses, is deserving of attention on this point. After stating that the crowding of a large number of public houses into any one district engenders immorality, Mr. Pownall gave the following answers:— Do you think that has been the case with respect to the particular districts you have mentioned in which there are more public-houses than are required, owing to the change of circumstances?—Decidedly. But, notwithstanding that is your opinion, do the magistrates on licensing day continue all those licences out of regard to vested interests, and being comparatively regardless of public morality?—The magistrates continue those licences partly, I believe, from their fear of vested interests, and partly not knowing whose licence they should take away when there is no complaint against any of them. Is it not the result, then, that the present system does not sufficiently protect public morality?—I do not think the present system does sufficiently protect public morality, as far as the old licences are concerned; there is too much weight given, in my opinion, to what are termed vested interests. In continuing old licences, I think it is done in deference to the opinions of the bench that has gone before them, and also in deference to the rights of property that are vested in public-houses. It was also shown that when applications are made for licences to magistrates they are regularly opposed, not, indeed, by standing counsel on the part of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, as has been alleged, but by solicitors retained by the existing publicans in the neighbourhood, not for the sake of public morality, but with a view to keep the trade entirely in their own bands. It is impossible to tell how many of these applications are refused from an exclusive regard to vested interests. When asked whether many licences were withheld on the score of diameter, Mr. Pownall replied, "I do not think there are many; occasionally there ire some." In answer to the further question, "Is it the case that public-houses are very seldom closed owing to the misconduct of the occupier?" the witness said, "Very seldom indeed; the licence is very rarely taken away." Moreover, when licences are withdrawn from a badly-conducted house, it is practically found that the temporary occupant is the only sufferer, and not the person really interested as the proprietor. If complaints were made, a transfer of the licence to another person was effected, and the same practices went on without the owner of the house being affected. Even before the Act of 1830; was passed, great complaints were made in regard to public houses, and the same complaints still exist in very many places. Everyman of experience knows that there are well-conducted and ill-conducted public-houses, just as there are well-conducted and ill-conducted beer-houses: but the true remedy for the evil is not to be found in a measure like this of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The evidence of Sir R. Mayne, Chief Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, shows that, having regard to the respective classes by which they are frequented, the beer-houses of London are not worse conducted than the public-houses. The number of public-houses licensed within the City of London is 625, of which, according to the evidence of the Chief Commissioner of the City Police, 575 are reported as well-conducted, and 51 ill-conducted, while the number of beer-houses is 138, of which 131 are well-conducted, and only seven ill-conducted. It would be a total mistake to suppose, on the one hand, either that the keepers of public-houses are kept from misconduct by a dread of the magistrates revoking their licences, or, on the other, that the beerhouses are the chief sources of immorality and crime. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire touched upon the influence of political motives in the granting of licences; and, without bringing any general charge against magistrates, it certainly appears that in some cases such considerations are allowed to operate; and it is a significant fact that application for licences are more numerous after a general election than at any other time. As the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Seymer) observed, the system may work very well where political parties are pretty equally balanced; but one may easily judge what will happen when the case is otherwise. Upon all these grounds I think the adoption of this measure, extending as it would the system of licensing by magistrates to all houses for the sale of beer, would be an injudicious step. Other means of correction must be found for the evils arising from the misconduct of the occupiers, whether of public-houses or of beer-shops. I can only say that the perusal of the evidence adduced before the Committee has strongly impressed me with the necessity of a more efficient control over both these classes of houses. I believe that Committee has in its Report laid down the true principle of legislation on this question; and, without pledging the Government as to the course they may adopt in reference to the general system of licensing, I think one object ought to be held steadily in view—namely, to make it the interest of the proprietors of these houses that they should be well conducted. I saw a deputation the other day from a body of brewers largely interested in the sale of beer, who greatly deprecated the Bill of the hon. Member, and stated that it would involve a heavy sacrifice of their property. I must say I found those gentlemen very reasonable. They were quite willing to subject beer-houses to very stringent regulations, and did not object to magistrates being armed with larger powers for closing houses, the occupiers of which violate the conditions of the licence. My best attention shall be directed to this question during the recess, with a view to the preparation of a measure calculated to improve the existing system, and to check the evils connected with all houses in which intoxicating liquors are sold. More immorality is produced in places where spirits are illegally sold than in those that are regularly licensed, and both classes of houses equally require to be dealt with. I do not pledge myself, however, to the details of the Bill which the Government may introduce. I have merely felt it my duty to indicate the very strong objections we entertain to the measure before the House.


did not think the Bill had been touched by argument on one essential point. From personal experience as a magistrate in a populous district, he was convinced that something was necessary to be done on the subject, as he could trace almost all the crime in his neighbourhood to beer-houses. He wished to call the attention of the Government to an impression which prevailed in some parts of the country that anybody who hung out a board over their door had a right to sell beer. These persons often set the excise officer and the police officer at defiance, and created great difficulty. He hoped that in any Bill introduced by Government a clause would be inserted which should have the effect of doing away with this mischievous impression.


said, that although he had served on the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, he had been in no way a party to their Report. He believed, indeed, that that Committee had received evidence in relation principally to the metropolis, while the hon. Member for Leominster had made his observations in the rural district. The condition of things in relation to the beer-shop question, in the metropolis and in the rural districts, was entirely different; and he trusted that if the present measure were not accepted by the House, and the Government brought in a Bill on the subject, that difference would be provided by two distinct measures being provided—one for the metropolis, and the other for the rural districts.


said, he rose under very great disadvantage after the eloquent and ingenious speech of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, whose ability he could not hope to imitate; but he rested his claim to the attention of the House solely on the facts and arguments he was about to lay before it. The address of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), whatever satisfaction it might have given to other hon. Gentlemen, had certainly given him none, nor had it led him to expect that any legislation would he founded on the Report of the Committee, to which such frequent reference had been made, by which this question would be very speedily dealt with in a made that would reach the root of the evil. If this Committee had so strong a conviction of the mischiefs attendant on the sytsem of licensing public-houses, why had they remained silent for three years after they made their Report, or only made themselves heard in the proposal of restrictions which the public threw off in disgust; or in the offer of Sunday recreations, which were rejected with scorn? Not until a private Member came forward to grapple with the subject did they hold out this vague prospect of some future attempt to a mend the law. He had not taken up this question at the instance of the licensed victuallers; and the hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Brown) had no right to say that those who promoted this Bill were actuated by interested motives. [Mr. W. BROWN had not meant to say anything of the kind.] The hon. Member stated that the petitions in favour of this movement were got up by an organization of licensed victuallers. That assertion was not founded on fact, because those petitions bore the signatures of men whom the licensed victuallers could not influence—namely, clergymen, dissenting ministers, guardians of the poor, and persons of every shade of religious or political feeling, who all concurred in the opinion that the evil—the drunkenness and immorality arising from the present system—had attained a height that demanded the interposition of Parliament. He regretted that the matter had fallen into the hands of so humble an individual as himself, instead of being taken up by the Government; but it certainly was his intention on that occasion to go to a division; but before doing so, he would offer a few observations in reply to the objections which had been urged against the measure. In the debate which had taken place the House had not had put fairly before it what the Report itself contained in regard to the existing system; while, as to the magnitude of the mischief which that system engendered, the mass of facts which had crowded in upon him was so great that his only embarrassment arose from the abundance of his materials. The right hon. Baronet accused him of the folly of wishing to make the magistrates of any locality determine how much beer or spirits should he consumed within its limits, He attempted nothing of the kind. As far as Parliamentary restrictions went, he sought to prescribe no bounds to the quantity of liquor which any man chose to swallow, and the right hon. Baronet knew as well as he did that a large quantity could be obtained from a few houses as easily as from many. But it was admitted in the Report that the beer-house system was a failure, that it had been established in the hope that it would improve the quality of beer, an expectation which had been entirely disappointed. The Committee also said that the consumption of ardent spirits had not diminished, and that the main cause of crime in this country was drunkenness. The effect of the Report was that unrestricted competition lay at the root of the disorders which we now suffered. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. K. Seymer) was for free trade, and the hon. Member for South Lancashire for restriction. [Mr. BROWN dissented.] At least the hon. Member was for such high sureties that nobody would be able to obtain them; while, on the other hand, magistrates would not inflict, nor would the people endure, heavy vicarious punishments. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Seymer) talked of free trade, but he (Mr. Hardy) denied that the principles of free trade were applicable here, for free trade was expansive in its nature, and those who supported it desired to extend the consumption of the commodities dealt in. If the object of the hon. Gentleman and those who acted with him on the Committee was to promote the spread of drinking, they were taking a course fraught with disaster to the country. On the other hand, the attempt to restrict this traffic by the methods which they proposed, would be wholly ineffectual. There were two classes of beer-houses—one in which the article was sold on the premises, the other off the premises. The second class acted as a check on the first, and he wished they were more numerous. A return made by the Board of Inland Revenue showed that the operation of the existing law, instead of increasing the number of houses for the sale of beer off the premises, was gradually diminishing them. In the year 1846 there were 34,067 houses for the drinking of beer on the premises, and 3,625 for drinking it off the premises. In 1855 the number of houses of the former class rose to 40,179, and the latter fell to 2,837. Many Gentlemen had been anxious that a wholesome beverage should be sold across the counter, like any article of grocery, to the poor man for consumption at his own home with his wife and family, in order to lead him away from the scenes of immorality incident to houses in which beer was both sold and drunk. That hope had, however, been sadly disappointed. In the beginning of the reign of Henry the Seventh ale was as freely sold in this country as any other article of consumption. The first Act which was passed gave the justices a negative power —a power "to reject the common selling of ale." In the reign of Edward the Sixth the system of licensing first began. In the reign of James the First more stringent measures were resorted to and continued. In the reign of George the Second the licensing was placed in the hands of the justices resident in the neighbourhood, and supposed to be conversant with its character and requirements. The licensing system continued in force until 1830, when the Beer Act was passed, and the "common selling" of ale again made legal. The same evils resulted. He wished to see the power of the justices of the vicinity restored as a means, not of prescribing the amount of beer or spirits to be consumed in a given district, but of checking demoralization and discouraging the degrading enticements practised under a system of competition. When the Act of 1830 passed, the number of public-houses in England and Wales was 51,482, being one for every 269 persons. The beer-shops, which at first numbered 24,342, went on increasing, until the number rose to 45,000. The number was somewhat checked, in consequence of an Act passed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, which increased the respectability of the houses. They had since increased, however, and at the last return, in 1855, there were 62,570 public-houses, 43,648 beer-shops, and 521 cider-shops. There was one house to every 164 persons, including women and children, and the members of temperance societies. There was one beer-shop for every thirty-eight males over twenty years of age, one for every eighty males and females over twenty-one years of age, and one for every eighty-seven males of all ages. The public-houses had declined with regard to the population, but the beer shops had brought up the numbers as he had stated them. The most unrestricted competition, of which some hon. Gentlemen were such warm advocates, could not bring us to a better state of things if the spread of drunkenness was to be regarded as an advantage. In some towns the number of public-houses was much greater relatively to the population. Thus in Norwich it was one to 126 of the population, and in Manchester one to 149 persons, or one to every twenty houses. If such was the effect of free trade as applied to beer, what was its effect in relation to spirits? In the reign of George II. spirits became exceedingly cheap, and the people rushed upon them with the greediness of savages. They were freely sold in the streets of London, and personal licences were given to men to go and open dramshops wherever they liked. Spirits were also sold in wheelbarrows, and placards were to be seen in many places with the words "Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence, and clean straw for nothing." The strongest language was used in regard to such a state of things in the debates of the House of Lords of that day, and Lord Chesterfield and other speakers enunciated sentiments as to the necessity of restrictive legislation, which almost went the length of the Maine Liquor Law. In an Act which was then passed the selling of spirits in wheelbarrows was specifically prohibited. What had been the result of the unrestricted sale of spirits in other countries? In Sweden, according to the authority of Allison's History of Europe, a very small licence fee was charged, and the consequence was that there were no fewer than 150,000 distilleries in the peasant's houses, which annually produced 30,000,000 gallons for the consumption of 3,000,000 people. What followed? There was move drunkenness, vice, and crime, and a great number of illegitimate children in proportion to the population, in the rural districts of that country than in the larger towns of this country, or even—with respect to the number of illegitimate births—than in Paris. The proportion which the illegitimate births bore to the legitimate was as one to thirteen; while in Stockholm, the capital, it reached the astonishing number of 1 to 2 and 3-10ths. Mr. Laing called the Swedes the most drunken of all people. In Norwich they had an instance of the evil results of unrestricted granting of spirit licences. In Liverpool, with which of course the hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. W. Brown) was most conversant, there had been an attempt by the magistrates to carry out almost a free trade in spirits. And what was the consequence? Forty-seven per cent of the apprehensions in Liverpool were for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. He would not enter into the statistics of other places where there had been an unlimited sale of spirits added to the beer-shops; but he would simply observe that in these places there had been an immense increase in the number of drunken and disorderly persons compared with other districts in which a different system prevailed. He foresaw at once that it might be objected that as the magistrates had permitted that state of things under the existing law, they were as likely to misuse the powers which would be given to them by this Bill; and it was for that reason that he wished to introduce into this Bill some general directions, as it was impossible to lay down any stringent rules as to the number of houses that ought to be permitted in any district. Every man had a right to drink as much beer, wine, and spirits as he pleased; but the public had a right to demand that when permission was given to multiply the places at which those beverages could be procured care should be taken against the possibility of their becoming the pests of the neighbourhood in which they were situate. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, who had had great experience in the criminal courts of this country, must have been constantly struck in trials, for robbery by violence with the manner in which the unhappy victim was brought within the power of those who had robbed him. His drunkenness was never completed at one public-house. The victim, after having Sold his cow in a market town, went to take a glass of beer. He was followed to the place where he got his refreshment by men who had watched the sale of his cow; they entered into conversation with him, and after some time he turned into the Green Dragon for some more drink, and so they kept turning into the Blue Boar, the Rose and Crown, and one dramshop after another, until twelve o'clock at night, when the houses were closed. Then it was that he was pounced upon and robbed of the little all that he had acquired. That was one of the strongest proofs that the multiplication of beer-houses was an evil in itself. He (Mr. Hardy) could not learn from the observations of the hon. Member who had defended the Report of the Committee, nor from those of the hon. Member for Lancashire, in what the duty of the magistrates should consist with respect to the granting of licences. Was the magistrate to have a discretion or not? Was he to give a licence to every man who had not been convicted of crime?—for every such man was, according to one of the witnesses (Mr. Robertson Gladstone), a person of good character, and ought, therefore, to be entitled to a licence. A person, however, who had been convicted of crime might open a grocery or a bakery, and, as the hon. Member for Lancashire was anxious to have free trade in licences, why ought not even such a man to have a licence to sell beer, wine, and spirits? It was said that free trade would give us pure beer; but free trade in the sale of grocery and provisions had not secured the public against adulteration. The hon. Member for Birmingham, who sat upon the Adulteration Committee, must have been convinced by the evidence which he took, that the beer was no more adulterated than the articles in which shopkeepers dealt, that there were as nasty things put into cayenne pepper as into beer; and those who were so anxious for free trade would find on examining the Report of that Committee that the public were more likely to get an inferior instead of a better article under a system of unlimited competition. But it was said that the brewers had great influence with the magistrates. That influence would remain whether this Bill passed or not. Under the present system the magistrates were powerless with regard to the granting of licences for beer-shops. By a most extraordinary anomaly any man who could get a few £6 householders to certify to his character could obtain a beershop license, whereas great difficulties were put in the way of obtaining permission to conduct a respectable tavern. The system of certifying to the character of applicants for beer licences had failed absolutely and egregiously. Could his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire say that it had not? Then, with respect to the brewers, he (Mr. Hardy) could say that he had no connection with any brewer. In bringing forward the Bill he was not influenced in the slightest degree by any brewer; but he was convinced that if the report of the Committee on public-houses were carried out in its integrity, it would put into the hands of the brewers a most absolute and complete monopoly, because the brewers and distillers would be the only persons who could give those high sureties which the hon. Member for South Lancashire said should be required from beer and spirit sellers. The whole of the trade therefore would be thrown into the hands of a few capitalists, and consequently there would be a state of things, in the view of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, worse even than at present. But what were the great evils arising from brewers being connected with public-houses? He had read the whole of the evidence of the Committee (although the hon. Member for South Lancashire assumed that he had not), and he was convinced by it that the great brewers had been mainly instrumental in preserving order in those houses, and if they could not bring the brewing into the cottage of the poor, it was well to have the beer-shops in respectable hands. He did not by any means wish to perpetuate a monopoly, to curtail the legitimate amusements of the poor, or to prevent their association; but what he did object to was the mischievous associations into which the working classes were brought in the beer-shops conducted under the present competitive system. He wished that the conduct of one whom he might call a model country gentleman, and who was one of the greatest chemical farmers in this country, to the working classes was largely imitated. That gentleman had granted nearly 100 garden allotments, and had established a club-house in the centre. The members of those gardens subscribed a halfpenny a week for the fuel and light required in that club-house, and they saved about a halfpenny in every pint of beer which they there consumed. Each member had in his turn to take charge of the barrel of beer which was kept for the use of the members. They had newspapers and periodicals, and a room for smoking and drinking beer. He should be very glad to see such men compete against the beer-shops to the utmost extent. But as long as the working classes were compelled to resort to the beer-shops for beer, they would be exposed to the demoralizing practices of the beerseller. He (Mr. Hardy) had proved to the House last Session that the conduct of publicans was infinitely better than that of beersellers in the management of their respective houses. The chief constables of several places and Sir Richard Mayne himself (who admitted that the check on public-houses might be advantageously extended to beer-shops in the metropolis) distinctly showed that fact to the Committee; and instances that had occurred recently corroborated their evidence. In Leeds, a few days ago, out of seven cases brought before the magistrates, six were against beer-shops and only one against a public-house. All of those six cases against the beer-shop keepers were for offences of a very bad description. In Northampton and Blackburn also there had recently been similar charges against beer-shop keepers. A great number of beer-shops were simply brothels. In Bradford there were twenty-seven such houses, and he knew not how many in Leeds. Of the 360 beer-shop keepers in Leeds, 150 had formed an association embracing all beer-shop keepers, the only qualifications being an annual payment of 6d., the moral character of the member, and the good conduct of his house; thirty had to be expelled for immoral conduct. The result, therefore, in Leeds was this—that, putting aside the 120 who had expressed a deep interest in this Bill, there were at least 200 beer-house keepers there who did not keep their houses in a respectable manner. In Bradford the state of things was the same. He was not surprized at the evidence which Mr. Clay, the chaplain of the House of Correction, had given, Mr. Clay had shown that in Blackburn the beer-houses ware the source of almost innumerable crimes, far and away out of all proportion with those which could he traced to public-houses. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had spoken of the restrictions, regulations, and other means of police supervision as remedies against these admitted evils. But all these means had been tried, and that not merely in the rural districts, but in towns in which there was a most efficient and active police, and yet they had lamentably failed. It was manifest that unless they had control over the initiative —unless they put a check to the granting of licences to these houses, the evil would continue to increase. He should be very glad to have the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman in an attempt to make the existing supervision more stringent; but he was convinced that it was only in the adoption of a system which in the initiative would secure the respectability of the applicants for licences that an effectual remedy was to be found. The police knew very well that it was useless to complain year after year of the conduct of beer-shop keepers, for when they found themselves so hard pressed by convictions for improper conduct that they could not carry on their pestilent business a new licence was taken out by some member of their family, or one of their friends, and that process was frequently repeated again and again with regard to a single beer-shop. In Derby, very recently, a publican was tried for receiving stolen goods, and he was sentenced to six years' penal servitude. His son immediately applied for a continuance of that man's licence, the house being on the very night before that application as full of persons of bad character as before the trial; but the magistrates very properly refused the application. The son thereupon said, "Oh! I don't care; I shall get a licence from the Excise." The House would find the Public-houses Report of 1854 full of such instances; and when the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) said that the magistrates had not done their duty, he (Mr. Hardy) admitted that they had not administered the law with that severity which would have been justifiable in many cases. But, at the same time, the right hon. Baronet would excuse him for calling his recollection to the answer that was given to him by a deputation that waited upon him the other day, when he (Sir G. Grey) urged that the magistrates had neglected to exercise the power which the law gave them of shutting up a badly-conducted beer-shop for two years. The right hon. Baronet was then very properly told that the magistrates could not exercise that power, because it was impossible to obtain a third conviction against the same beershop-keeper, for immediately on a second conviction the man transferred his beer-shop to some member of his family or a friend. And with respect to Mr. Wood's statement before the Committee, that the magistrates had never sent information of such conduct to the Excise, he (Mr. Hardy) found that many magistrates and magistrates' clerks declared that they had forwarded such information continually. But the most dangerous description of beer-shops were those which were opened in rural and secluded districts by those who, owing to their misconduct, had been discharged from their employments—by discharged gamekeepers and other servants. Those beer-houses truly became the pest and curse of the neighbourhood in which they were situated. He should like to sec the Secretary of State for the Home Department write to some of the magistrates on the subject of these beer-houses in secluded districts in the same spirit in which Lord Keeper Coventry addressed the Judges in 1635, as to tippling in such places. Lord Keeper Coventry said to the Judges:— I account ale-houses and tippling-houses the greatest pests in the kingdom. I give it you in charge that none be permitted unless they be licensed; and for the licensed ale-houses, let them be few and in fit places. If they he in private corners and ill places they become the dens of thieves—they are the public stages of drunkenness and disorder. In many places they swarm by the default of the Justices that set tip too many. I once did discharge two Justices for setting up one ale-house, and shall be prepared to do the like again it the same thing occur. He (Mr. Hardy) would give the right hon. Baronet and the Lord Chancellor power to act in a like summary way with all Justices who "set up" beer-shops in villages or elsewhere without any regard to the evils that might flow from them. In refusing to vest in magistrates the power of dealing with applications for licences the Legislature deprived them of a power which they ought to exercise. Magistrates were already intrusted with powers to deal with all the crime of the country. They were the conservators of the peace and good order of the community, and it was idle to say that they were not competent to judge of the respectability and fitness of persons applying for licences. Their proceedings were conducted in open court, in the face of the country, and under the eye of the press. There were "thirsty souls" on the one side, and "leading articles" on the other. The press in London and in the provinces was ever ready to make public the complaints of the people. It would not fail to comment upon any abuse of power on the part of the magistrates. He himself was not an acting magistrate, but he had had frequent opportunities of witnessing the fairness and impartiality with which they discharged their duties. It was to their credit that, notwithstanding all the libels and slanders cast upon them by venal newspapers, it was only now and then that you could find an instance in which a magistrate had really neglected his duty. The slanders almost always consisted of vague charges against the magistrates universally. He appealed to the hon. Member for Dorsetshire whether the complaints against individual magistrates, when they came to be investigated, and the parties brought face to face with the magistrates, were not found to be unfounded. He (Mr. Hardy) knew that magistrates, like other men, were liable to be influenced by prejudice and other unworthy motives; but if they acted improperly let them be removed from the bench. Still, if not in the magistrates, in what tribunal would the House vest the power of dealing with licences? As a body they were of unimpeachable character, and to them appeals might be made without fear of injustice. But, said the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, "I shrink from the duty which this Bill would impose upon me as a magistrate, because it is too onerous." Now, he (Mr. Hardy) thought that the magistrates ought to be ashamed of putting forward such a plea. If they took upon themselves the sending of people to prison for slight offence, of summarily convicting persons without any appeal in many instances, and thus breaking up their families and households, surely they were well qualified to take steps whereby to limit, as far as possible, the number of those places in which crime was nurtured and extended, and thus make their district free from crime. He knew that to deal with property was a very different thing from dealing with crime; but had not the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act empowered magistrates to deal with questions affecting property, and to award compensation, and that although the owner of the property might be their neighbour? The objection as to magistrates having a discretionary power with regard to licences applied for by their neighbours therefore fell to the ground. In spite of all that had been said by the hon. Member fur Dorsetshire (and it could not have been better said)—in spite of all that had been said and promised by the Government to consider this subject during the recess, he thought it was his duty to persevere with this Bill. The speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) indicated that all that he intended to do during the recess in this matter was to consider the unsatisfactory scheme shadowed forth by the Report of the Committee, which could not change the present anomalous state of things. He wished to call their attention for a moment to that state of things, because it had rather been kept out of sight. At present there were two systems, one of which acted as a check upon the other. That duplicate system had proved to be a failure. All the Committees that had sat upon this subject admitted that it was. The right hon. Baronet had challenged him to point to the recommendation of his (Mr. Hardy's) proposition by any of those Committees. Well, he admitted that he had no such recommendation to support him. He would not say that he was as well qualified as those Committees to express his opinion upon the matter, but be might at least say that he had a right to exercise his judgment upon it. The evidence taken before those Committees was published in order that it might be seen whether they were justified in their conclusions. He admitted that they had some strong evidence in their favour, but there was also strong evidence the other way. Mr. Henderson, the Recorder of Liverpool, Mr. Maude, the stipendiary Magistrate of Manchester, and Mr. Hill, the Recorder of Birmingham, had expressed strong opinions against the scheme of the last Committee that sat upon this subject. The Committee said that the existing evils were entirely owing to the competition between those houses which had and those which had not spirit licences, and they therefore proposed a plan to increase that competition, and recommended that beersellers should be allowed to compete on equal terms with the licensed victuallers. With the greatest deference to the Committee, he must say that that argument was one of the most extraordinary that he had ever heard of. In his opinion no scheme could have been propounded so likely as that to increase the existing evils. He was unable to say whether drunkenness had increased or decreased of late in this country, because there was no statistical information on which he could rely. But, whether it had increased, or not, there could be no doubt that, juvenile crime especially had increased, and that it was fostered by beer-houses Tie meant, of course, the mass of these houses, for he must admit that there were many beer-houses, both in town and country, which were well conducted. While those schools of crime were permitted to exist it was of little use to establish reformatory or industrial schools. It was his wish to check the growth of juvenile crime. In pressing this Bill on the attention of the House, he was acting in unison with the magistrates, the clergy, and the chaplains of gaols throughout the country. He held in his hand the reports of forty-four chaplains, in which they expressed their belief that beer-houses were the greatest nurseries of crime. Lord Althorp in the year 1834 said he could never have conceived that the beer-shop system could have produced such enormous evils as it had. The present system was proved three years ago to be a failure, and yet not the slightest I effort had been made to alter it. Surely it was important that the law should be in unison with the opinions of the better class of society, but what do the Commissioners of Inland Revenue say to the working of the present system. Their first Report was presented to the House at the close of the last Parliament, and he did not see it till the other day. In it they said:— Although we refrain from pronouncing an opinion on the effect of beer-houses on the morals of the labouring classes, we are bound to say that in administering the law on this subject we are constantly finding ourselves placed in opposition to the clergy and magistrates, who consider the licensing of these houses a great evil. To their applications we can give but one answer, namely, that the law does not allow us any discretion. The working man was as much interested in this matter as the rich man; and he had received letters from working men urging him to press forward this measure, in order that they might be relieved from the temptations to which they were exposed by beer-shops. He had also received a letter from an incumbent stating that working men had complained to him of the enormous amount of evil produced by the numerous beer-shops in their neighbourhood, and of the temptations which they held out to them and their children. The time, then, had arrived when the Legislature itself should act in unison with those various classes of society who had urged him to bring forward this remedy for great and acknowledged evils. The crimes consequent upon drunkenness were increasing to a most alarming extent, He had inserted a clause to prevent taking clothes in pledge for liquor. A case had happened (he believed at York) where a woman had parted with every article of clothing she had on. She give them to the publican for drink, which having imbibed, she was turned into the street stark naked. There was one point of the Bill to which he wished to refer, though it was only a matter of detail, and that was the provision to prevent ale scores being sued for. County Court Judges had complained of the ruin which was brought upon many families by beerhouse-keepers suing for payment of their debts in the County Courts, and he, therefore, proposed to provide by this Bill, that no such debts should be recoverable unless sued for within a short specified time. By the old Courts of Requests Acts (and he had an instance in that of the Halifax and Bradford Court of Requests) such scores were not recoverable in those courts, so that he introduced no new principle. Again, the law was by the Tippling Act still more stringent in the case of spirits. He hoped that hereafter something would be done to pot a stop to the sale of wine and spirits by what were called free vintners" in the cities of London and Westminster, who seemed to have the privilege of selling those articles, and who had often no direct connection with the houses over which their names were placed, and which were in many cases used for the worst purposes. There were more than one of these houses in the neighbourhood of the Haymarket. The coffee-shops should also he dealt with, and treated as places of public refreshment; for it was certain that there were very-many improper houses kept open under the guise of coffee-shops. This was a matter which the House would have to consider. Admittedly it was a growing and a very dangerous evil. He could assure the House that he had no desire to interfere with legitimate trade; all recognised the necessity of some restriction, and the question was of what kind it should be. He only wished to do that which he was sure every hon. Member was anxious to effect; namely, put an end to a system that led to immorality, and bade defiance to all efforts to reform juvenile offenders. He had no personal interest in the matter, but brought it forward at the request of others whose sole object was the promotion of morality, public decency, and order.


said, he should not have risen to address the House but from the circumstance of his having acted as Chairman of the Committee which had been so much referred to. Having been so, however, he could not allow the hon. and learned Gentleman to represent the Report of that Committee to this House in a light not warranted by facts. The hon. Member seems to imagine that it had no other view than to give effect to a theory, and the greater part of his speech has been devoted to battling with proposals that have not been made. Now, the object of the Committee had been to inquire into the evils connected with the sale of intoxicating liquors, which the hon. and learned Gentleman had brought before the House, and to inquire further whether the present law which regulated the houses for the sale of liquor could not be amended with a view to the better protection of public morals, and the better accommodation of the public. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, spoke as though the Committee had been utterly regardless of those considerations, as if their only object had been to establish what he is pleased to call free trade in spirits, utterly reckless of the consequences, which he professed to detail at much length, and upon that assumption has argued in favour of his own measure. If the House did not adopt this most erroneous view of the labours of that Committee, he (Mr. Villiers) could not conceive that they were likely to support this Bill in the very face of the evidence collected by the Committee, and now in their possession; and, further, in disregard of the assurance given by the Secretary of State (Sir G. Grey) that the Government would take up the subject, and be ready to propose a measure in the course of next Session. The hon. and learned Gentleman had in view, he presumed, to raise the character of houses for the sale of intoxicating liquor, and, if possible, to impose limits on their number. But how could he attempt to lead the House to suppose that the Committee had been indifferent to these objects, and had taken no precaution whatever for the future conduct and character of these houses, or indeed, as he had implied, that their object was merely to multiply them indefinitely? Why, the first proposition made was that no man should get a licence without the certificate of the magistrate as to his being a fit person in point of character to receive it. Again, at this time any man might go to the Excise and claim a beer-house licence without his certificate of character on payment of £1 2s., while the proposal of the Committee was that the lowest payment should be £6, and should increase gradually in proportion to the population. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman, very conveniently for his own measure, ignored altogether the evidence as to the working of the present licensing system, and its inefficiency in checking the evils of which he complained, because he had proposed a measure which, in direct opposition to that evidence, purported to extend that system, and that without venturing to dispute the accuracy of the evidence. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had ever read the evidence he must have observed that the two things which were proved to be most objectionable, was first, the sort of compulsory division of the business of the publican into the sale of beer only, and the sale of all other things in which a publican usually dealt; and secondly, the present licensing system, and yet he had adopted them both as the basis of his plan. The present system of separating the sale of spirits from the sale of beer was found to be most unsatisfactory, for it was almost impossible for a man to live by the sale of beer alone, and the evidence taken before the Committee showed that this was the occasion in many cases of the disreputable practices adopted in these houses of various irregular attractions being resorted to to procure custom. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, proposed to perpetuate this artificial distinction occasioned by law between the two classes of houses, and the only difference in his scheme from the present would be that the persons who were to sell beer alone in future would get their licence from the magistrates, which, as a system, had been shown to work so ill in the case of the publicans. The hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have told the House how he intended to meet the proved evils of the licensing system, or to have told them that the evidence was untrue. He proposed to extend the jurisdiction of the magistrates in this respect, and he chose to ignore altogether the evidence of the uncertain and irregular manner in which the licences were now given. The hon. and learned Member said the Committee wished to attack the magistrates, and he seemed to think it enough for him generally to defend the magistracy as a body, as if they had been so attacked. Now, the fact was, that this part of the subject was purposely referred to with great carefulness and moderation in the Report, but the evidence teemed with statements made as to the manner in which these licences were granted, the system being shown to be of the most irregular and unsatisfactory kind. Nobody attacked the magistrates as a body. The Committee did not feel called upon to make any reflections on the magistracy, because they had good reason to believe that the great body of the magistrates were as little pleased as others with the irregularities of the licensing system; that it was a task that usually devolved upon a few of their body only; and that generally speaking they would gladly be relieved of a duty which they deemed it difficult and odious to perform. It was, indeed, one which appertained rather to the police than to men having judicial functions, and it was felt by some that suspicions which attached to them in this matter tainted their character in the administration of justice. But the evidence as to the caprice and irregularity that existed in the granting of licences to public-houses could not be disputed; it was so full, so complete, and so damnatory. In consequence, however, of the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he would direct the attention of hon. Members to the evidence of the Recorder of Yarmouth, who spoke from an experience of seventeen years, acting as a magistrate, and who was equally acquainted with the towns of Yarmouth, Norwich, Lynn, and Ipswich. That gentleman even stated that there was favouritism and corruption of every description; that many of the licensed houses were of the lowest description, but that it was vain to complain against them on account of the interest which the owners of them had with gentlemen on the bench—in fact, that the magistrates were every year drummed up on the licensing day in such a manner as almost to preclude any respectable person from obtaining a licence: it was stated that there were licensed houses which had been brothels for forty-five years, and that the fact was known to the magistrates. Such was a sample of the evidence; and that evidence, though well known to have been given, was the next year wholly uncontradicted. For it was mainly on account of the startling evidence exposing the evils of the licensing system that he (Mr. Villiers) advised the Committee not to report in the first year of the inquiry, in order that this evidence should circulate through the country, and that if anything untrue had been stated that it might be contradicted, and that the Committee should only make its Report upon the truth. Now, he called upon the House to remember that the main Point involved in the vote they were about to give was this, whether the licensing system, as it existed at present, should be extended or not. That is what the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed, not admitting himself, and expecting, he supposed, that the House would ignore altogether, the evils shown to exist in connection with the licensing system. The difficulty which was felt at present in dealing with this subject was the enormous value which had artificially been given to property by the licensing system. "Vested interests" presented themselves in this matter; yet the hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to the House to increase these difficulties by his plan, which would, of course, work with respect to beer-houses precisely as it had done with the other houses. They must not forget, moreover, that the licence is usually considered as a favour conferred by the magistrates, and that if the beer-houses were to be licenced in the same way, it would greatly add to that kind of patronage. He (Mr. Villiers) did not say a word himself against the conduct of the magistrates. He only referred to the evidence which had been given, which was credible. He had no interest in the matter. They were magistrates themselves that had come forward to speak against the system, and ask to be relieved from the duty at present imposed upon them; and it was a remarkable fact, that the hon. Member who had proposed the postponement of the second reading of this Bill for six months, was a county Member and a magistrate. But he begged to say there was evidence in the Report to show that it was not the magistrates alone who were to blame in this matter, and that there were other people of station in society, or possessing peculiar property, who had interest in the houses that were ill conducted, and who interfered with the magistrates to protect them; and if they would turn to Mr. Palmer's evidence, they would see how the magistrates were sometimes told that they were injuring property when they were about to suspend a licence. The hon. and learned Gentleman, or some other Members who had preceded him, attempted to dispose of the evidence against the system, by saying that it referred only to the metropolis; but if the Report was referred to, they would see that in all other parts of the country it was shown that there; is an absence of all rule in granting or withdrawing the licences. The solicitor of the Victuallers' Association at Liverpool was sent up to the Committee to give evidence in favour of the system, but when he was asked upon what rule he thought the magistrates proceeded in granting licences, replied, "None at all," and was obliged to admit that it was very much determined by the varying humour of the justices who attended, and that he thought many persons applied and got licences by that means who could not otherwise do so. Now, when evidence of this kind was submitted to the Committee, they were compelled to notice it, and in considering what amendment they would recommend, it was utterly impossible that they could pursue the course of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and advise this faulty system to be extended further. But, far from justifying what the learned Gentleman implied, that the Committee had no views of its own, and therefore, that his scheme should be adopted, he might see by their Report that their opinion was, that a matter so important as that of the sale of intoxicating liquors should not be left to the mercy, or caprice, or interest of any set of men, but that ample security should be taken for the character and conduct of a person engaging in the business, and that the conditions on which he might enter that business should be defined and known, and that it should be left to some responsible public officer to determine whether he had complied with those conditions, and whether he was entitled to a renewal of his licence. He believed that a system of that kind would give more satisfaction than to leave the matter to the discretion or fancy of so varying a body as the justices of the peace. The hon. and learned Gentleman had no right, therefore, in only proposing an experiment that had failed, to claim for himself the merit of having alone devised a remedy for great and admitted evils, while the Committee had proposed nothing in lieu of what they intended to derange. He (Mr. Villiers) had only risen to vindicate the Report of that Committee from some of the charges which had been made against it; and he should not at present go farther into the subject, especially as his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had told the House that it should receive his best attention before the next Session. At all events, he hoped the House would not consent to support this measure without minutely examining the evidence upon the whole subject now before them, which had been collected with great care, and which, as he believed, would lead them to the conclusion that the plan proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, however well meant, would be no security against many evils, and would in some respects be an aggravation of the mischievous system at present existing.


said, that the question for the actual consideration of the House was, whether the subject would be better in the hands of the Government, or of the hon. Gentlemen opposite; and knowing the diversity of opinions entertained by his own constituents, he would go with the Government.


said, that as a member of the Committee referred to, he felt it his duty, upon the ground that he held the opinions stated in the Report, to vote for this Bill, and thus attempt to remedy the evils arising from the admitted failure of the beer-house system. The question of free trade in beer was one to be decided when the House went into Committee. He agreed in thinking that the Report which had been animadverted on contained no imputations upon the magistrates, and seeing that, he confessed he was a little astonished at the tone of the right hon. Member (Mr. Villiers) in respect to those gentlemen. For himself, he believed the conduct of the magistrates to be above suspicion.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question."

The House divided:—Ayes 180; Noes 213: Majority 33.

Words added; Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Bill put off for six months.

List of theAYES.
Adair, H. E. Gilpin, C.
Adams, W. H. Glyn, G. C.
Adderley, C. B. Goderich, Visct.
Adeane, H. J. Greenwood, J.
Akroyd, E. Grenfell, C. W.
Althorp, Visct. Griffith, C. D.
Bailey, C. Grogan, E.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Ball, E. Gurdon, C. B.
Barrow, W. H. Hackblock, W.
Baxter, W. E. Haddo, Lord
Beecroft, G. S. Hadfield, G.
Bennet, P. Hamilton, Lord C.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Hanbury, R.
Bernard, T. T. Hanmer, Sir J.
Bernard, hon. W. S. Harris, J. D.
Biggs, J. Hassard, M.
Black, A. Hayes, Sir E.
Bovill, W. Hildyard, R. C.
Bramston, T. W. Hodgson, W. N.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Holford, R. S.
Brocklehurst, J. Hopwood, J. T.
Brown, J. Horsfall, T. B.
Bruen, H. Hudson, G.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Ingham, R.
Burghley, Lord Johnstone, hon. H. B.
Bury, Visct. Johnstone, Sir J.
Butler, C. S. Jones, D.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Kendall, N.
Carden, Sir R. W. Kerrison, Sir E. C.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Kershaw, J.
Cavendish, hon. G. King, J. K.
Charlesworth, J. C. D. King, E. B.
Cholmeley, Sir M. J. Kirk, W.
Christy, S. Knatchbull, W. F.
Clay, J. Knightley, R.
Close, M. C. Langton, W. G.
Cobbold, J. C. Langton, H. G.
Cole, hon. H. A. Laurie, J.
Collins, T. Legh, G. C.
Cooper, E. J. Lovaine, Lord
Cotterell, Sir H. G. Lowther, hon. Col.
Cowan, C. Luce, T.
Crook, J. Macartney, G.
Cross, R. A. Macaulay, K.
Crossley, F. Maguire, J. F.
Davison, R. Mainwaring, T.
Du Cane, C. Malins, R.
Duncombe, hon. A. Manners, Lord J.
Duncombe, hon. Col. Maxwell, hon. Col.
Dundas, G. Miller, T. J.
Du Pre, C. G. Mills, A.
East, Sir J. B. Montgomery, Sir G.
Ebrington, Visct. Moody, C. A.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Morgan, O.
Egerton, W. T. Naas, Lord
Egerton, E. C. Newdegate, C. N.
Elton, Sir A. H. Packe, C. W.
Ewart, J. C. Pakenham, Col.
Farnham, E. B. Palk, L.
Fenwick, H. Patten, Col. W.
Finlay, A. S. Paull, H.
Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W. Pease, H.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Pennant, hon. Col.
Forde, Col. Pevensey, Visct.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Galway, Visct. Powell, F. S.
Gard, R. S. Raynham, Visct.
Garnett, W. J. Repton, G. W. J.
Gilpin, Col. Ridley, G.
Robartes, T. J. A. Verney, Sir H.
Robertson, P. F. Waddington, H. S.
Rolt, J. Walcott, Adm.
Rushout, G. Waldron, L.
Sandon, Visct. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Shirley, E. P. Warre, J. A.
Sibthorp, Maj. Westhead, J. P. B.
Smollett, A. Whiteside, J.
Spooner, R. Whitmore, H.
Stafford, A. Wickham, H. W.
Steuart, A. Wigram, L. T.
Stewart, Sir M. R. S. Willoughby, J. P.
Taylor, Col. Willson, A.
Taylor, S. W. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Thesiger, Sir F. Woodd, B. T.
Tite, W. Woods, H.
Tollemache, J. Wrightson, W. B.
Trefusis, hon. C. H. R. Wynn, Col.
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Vansittart, G. H. TELLERS.
Vansittart, W. Hardy, G.
Verner, Sir W. Headlam, T. E.
List of the NOES.
Alcock, T. Dalgleish, R.
Anderson, Sir J. Davey, R.
Atherton, W. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Ayrton, A. S. Dering, Sir E. C.
Bagwell, J. De Vere, S. E.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Devereux, J. T.
Barnard, T. Dillwyn, L. L.
Bass, M. T. Divett, E.
Bathurst, A. A. Dodson, J. G.
Beach, W. W. B. Drummond, H.
Beale, S. Duff, G. S.
Beamish, F. B. Dunbar, Sir W.
Beaumont, W. B. Duncombe, T.
Berkeley, F. W. F. Dundas, F.
Blackburn, P. Dunlop, A. M.
Bland, L. H. Dutton, hon. R. H.
Booth, Sir R. G. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P. Ellice, E.
Bowyer, G. Elphinstone, Sir J.
Brady, J. Ennis, J.
Brand, hon. H. Estcourt, T. H. S.
Buchanan, W. Evans, T. W.
Buckley, Gen. Ewart, W.
Buller, J. W. Farquhar, Sir W. M.
Burke, Sir T. J. Fergus, J.
Buxton, C. FitzGerald, rt. hon. J. D.
Caird, J. Foley, J. H.
Calcraft, J. H. Foley, H. J. W.
Calcutt, F. M. Foster, W. O.
Castlerosse, Visct. Fortescue, hon. F. D.
Clifford, C. C. Gaskell, J. M.
Clifford, H. M. Glyn, G. G.
Clive, G. Goddard, A. L.
Cobbett, J. M. Grace, O. D. J.
Cogan, W. H. F. Greaves, E.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Greene, J.
Collier, R. P. Gregory, W. H.
Colvile, C. R. Gregson, S.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Grenfell, C. P.
Coote, Sir C. H. Gray, Capt.
Coningham, W. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Copeland, W. T. Grey, R. W.
Corbally, M. E. Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.
Cox, W. Handley, J.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Hankey, T.
Crawford, R. W. Harcourt, G. G.
Cubitt, Mr. Ald. Hastie, Arch.
Hatchell, J. Ramsay, Sir A.
Hay, Lord J. Ricardo, O.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Rich, H.
Heard, J. I. Roupell, W.
Henchy, D. O'C. Russell, Lord J.
Holland, E. Russell, Sir W.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Scholefield, W.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Sclater, G.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Shafto, R. D.
Hutt, W. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Jackson, W. Sheridan, H. B.
Jermyn, Earl Slaney, R. A.
Jervoice, Sir J. C. Smith, J. A.
Johnstone, J. J. H. Smith, J. B.
Ker, R. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
King, hon. P. J. L. Smith, A.
Kinglake, A. W. Smith, Sir F.
Kinglake, J. A. Somers, J. P.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, E Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Stanley, Lord
Levinge, Sir R. Stapleton, J.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Steel, J.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Stirling, W.
Lygon, hon. F. Stuart, Lord J.
Macarthy, A. Stuart, Col.
M'Cann, J. Sullivan, M.
Mac Evoy, E. Tempest, Lord A. V.
Mackie, J. Thompson, Gen.
Mackinnon, W. A. Thornely, T.
Marsh, M. H. Thornhill, W. P.
Martin, C. W. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Martin, P. W. Tottenham, C.
Massey, W. N. Townshend, J.
Matheson, Alex. Traill, G.
Melgund, Visct. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Mills, T. Trueman, C.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Tynte, Col. K.
Morris, D. Vane, Lord H.
Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Mowbray, J. R. Vivian, hon. J. C. W.
Mulgrave, Earl of Vivian, H. H.
Napier, Sir C. Walter, J.
Neate, C. Warburton, G. D.
Newark, Visct. Watkin, E. W.
Nicoll, D. Watkins, Col. L.
Nisbet, R. P. Weguelin, T. M.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Whatman, J.
O'Brien, P. Whitbread, S.
O'Donaghoe, The Willcox, B. M'G.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Williams, M.
Palmer, R. W. Williams, W.
Paxton, Sir J. Willyams, E. W. B.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Wise, J. A.
Perry, Sir T. E. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Philips, R. N. Wood, W.
Pilkington, J. Wyndham, W.
Power, N. Wyvill, M.
Price, W. P. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Pryse, E. L. TELLERS.
Pritchard, J. Seymer, H. K.
Puller, C. W. Brown, W.