§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he rose on a point of Order. He found in the Order Book that leave was given on the 9th of February—the second day of the Session —for the introduction of a Bill intituled "Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill, for the regulation of the sale of Intoxicating Liquors in Ireland," and the same day the Bill was read a first time. It was necessary to call attention to the fact, that in the Session of 1874 a Bill was introduced by the same hon. Member, intituled "Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill," the Preamble of which ran thus—Whereas, it is expedient to amend the Laws relating to the common sale of Intoxicating Liquors in Ireland.That Bill was not read a second time; but in 1875 an exactly similar Bill was introduced, the only difference being a Schedule which corrected an omission of the draftsman, who had not altered the date of the Bill from 1874 to 1875. Without any intimation whatever as to the provisions of the Bill, leave was this year again obtained for the introduction of the Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill. Now, the practice of the House on these points was worthy of attention. When a Bill was introduced and read a first time it was not generally printed, but the Clerk at the Table took the title from the hon. Member introducing it, and it remained a dummy, until it was 1425 convenient to have it printed. Technically speaking, he believed the hon. Member who introduced the Bill was within the strict rule of the House, but he would ask the Speaker whether he thought it was not desirable that the practice of introducing Bills under a title which tended rather to mislead than to enlighten the House should be allowed. The second reading of the Bill was fixed for the 18th July, and the printed Bill was not delivered at the Public Bill Office till the 10th of July. [MR. FAWCETT: Hear, hear!] He was glad to hear that cheer from the hon. Member for Hackney, who probably had a vivid recollection of the debate on a Bill of his own on a somewhat similar point. He had heard rumours in the Lobby; but the first distinct intimation he received that this Bill was substantially different from the Bill introduced under the same title in previous Sessions was conveyed in a telegram sent to him on the 12th of July. It was as follows:—The Irish Times of this morning publishes a Bill introduced by Mr. Sullivan for closing public houses from 7 o'clock on Saturday evening, and the second reading of that Bill is fixed for "Wednesday next. No Notice whatever has been given of any such Bill. Is it not an abuse of the forms of the House to conceal the real object of a Bill under a misleading title?The delivery of the Bill on Friday last came upon him with the same sort of surprise as experienced in youth when opening the well-known toy called "Jack-in-the-box;" and remembering that a different Bill with the same title had been introduced in 1874 and 1875, he thought it worth while to consider whether it was right that such a Bill should be launched upon the House for the first time within a month of the end of the Session, and five months after its introduction and the Order made for its being printed. I was a serious question in the interest of the House generally whether the practice should not be restricted; and he thought that the ruling of the Speaker would be such as would, while maintaining the privileges of private Members, at least prevent their abuse. They remembered the question, under which King, Bezonian, &c.? He might ask, under which of the three Bills was the real object to be found? But, perhaps, he should rather say that another illustration would apply more aptly—namely, that of the three thim- 1426 bles and the pea, and it might be asked under which of the thimbles was the pea? He thought that the practice of the House was laid down as long ago as 1850, when the then Speaker ruled that it was not competent for a Member to make other than a clerical alteration in a Bill that had been read a first time; and in the case of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), a bold and straightforward avowal had been made by the hon. Gentleman, that between the first and second readings a series of material alterations had been made in the Bill; so that was a difference in the two cases. In March, 1873, it was ruled by the Speaker in the case of the hon. Member for Hackney, that there was no principle more clearly laid down in that House than that when a Member had introduced a Bill into that House, it ceased to be in that Member's hands, and passed into the possession of the House. No essential alteration of the Bill might afterwards be made except by the distinct order of the House. It was clearly established that no alterations could be introduced into a Bill that were inconsistent with its general character, and the proper course to take when it was desired to make an essential alteration in a Bill, was to ask leave of the House to withdraw the Bill and to proceed with another. The hon. Member for Hackney, accordingly, had to follow that course. The Daily News said that nothing would have been heard, at least this Session, of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Louth, but for the obstructive conduct of those who had succeeded in arresting the progress of the Bill of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth). The hon. and learned Member for Louth had not stated that his Bill was not substantially the same as it was when introduced, or it would have come within the rule already quoted; but as it was, he had sprung a mine in the House in a manner which, though it might be technically correct, induced him to call attention to the peculiar circumstances of the case, and to ask, whether what was done was consistent with the Rules of the House?
said, he would dispose of what he had to say in a few minutes, though it had taken the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan) 20 minutes to make a speech to show that he had been taken by surprise. The 1427 House, he hoped, would bear with him, for it knew that he never troubled it to answer a speech of the hon. Member for Dundalk. Now, in what had the hon. Member been surprised? He did not say whether it was pleasurable or otherwise; but he considered that this was an extreme measure, and one of severity, and that he (Mr. Sullivan) had cut the Bill to a single issue.
§ MR. CALLAN,
interrupting, said, he had made no such charge. He conceived that the Bills of 1874 and 1875 contained no reference to Saturday closing.
said, he expected the hon. Member to writhe and try to interrupt. The Bill did not go beyond their Order of Leave. If it did, he would withdraw it, and apologize for having unwittingly erred. Every Bill must have a heading, and in heading this Bill no surprise had been intended, and no misuse of the Forms of the House had been made. It was observed that during the late discussions on the Bill of the hon. Member for Londonderry, a suggestion constantly made by its opponents was that the houses should be closed earlier on Saturdays, and that was all the Bill proposed. He was himself prepared to support a deeper and broader measure. He had been under the impression that before printing the Bill, any alteration which was not inconsistent with the scope and object of it might be made in it. It was said, why was it not printed earlier? Well, the fact was he did not wish to print the Bill until he saw whether the Sunday Closing Bill would pass or not, and when he saw there was no chance of that being done, he pursued his own course with this Bill. He denied that the Forms of the House had been infringed in the least.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he wished to call attention to the inconvenience of the course pursued by the hon. and learned Member for Louth in withholding the printed copy of the Bill until the 10th July, the Bill being introduced on the 9th February. That was not the only instance of a Bill relating to Ireland which had been read a first time at the commencement of the Session having been kept out of the hands of the printer until the Session had virtually come to an end. It would, he thought, be admitted that 1428 such a practice was calculated to give rise to a great deal of inconvenience, and ought to be discontinued. The hon. and learned Member for Louth, in his explanation, had not touched the main objection of the hon. Member for Dundalk, which was not that the Bill was different from that of 1874 and 1875, but that it was not the Bill which was read a first time in February last, and it was for the Speaker to decide the point, and to say whether the hon. and learned Member was bound by that title. The fact was, that in preceding Sessions a Bill had been introduced which might be described as an Irish Permissive Bill; but the present Bill was one of which the main clause shortened the hours during which public-houses were to be open on Saturday nights. The other nine clauses were copied verbatim from clauses introduced into the Sunday Closing Bill by the Select Committee; and as those clauses were not in existence in February last, it might be safely inferred that they were not part of the measure as then introduced by the hon. and learned Member, as he could not possibly have been acquainted with them. If that were the case, then it was a question whether the hon. and learned Member was now in Order in moving its second reading.
said, the clauses referred to had been introduced for the convenience of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary, who had suggested that they might be desirable for police purposes, for the purpose of putting a stop to drunkenness.
§ MR. CALLAN
submitted that the hon. and learned Member for Louth, in the statement he had just made, admitted that he had altered the framework of his Bill since it had been read a first time, and he therefore submitted that he came within the Speaker's ruling in respect to the hon. Member for Hackney's (Mr. Fawcett's) Bill laid down in March, 1873. It was clear that these clauses were not in the Bill when it was read a first time in February last.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, there was an essential difference between the present Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Louth and that of former years. The former Bills repealed all the licensing laws, so that any old woman who kept 1429 an apple stall might sell intoxicating liquors. This Bill, however, was most restrictive. Under it no one but a licensed person was to sell intoxicating liquors, but not after 7 o'clock in the evening. Hon. Members opposed to such restrictions had been taken by surprise, and it could not be called treating the persons affected by the change fairly, without giving them an opportunity of expressing their views on the subject, which could not be done if the Bill was forced on this Session.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
rose to Order, and asked that the discussion should be terminated by the announcement of the Speaker's ruling.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, that though this practice in printing Bills had obtained, yet that was the first time that a Member of the Government had complained of it. It would be a matter of regret if the decision were in favour of the hon. Member for Dundalk. He was sorry that such tactics should have been resorted to to defeat a measure which had been so long before the country. ["No, no!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
called the hon. Member (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) to Order. He said, he found that the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) obtained leave to bring in his Bill on the 9th of February, and that it was not delivered into the hands of hon. Members until the 12th of July—five months afterwards. The attention of the House having been drawn to this delay, he was bound to say that every hon. Member who obtained leave to bring in a Bill was bound without loss of time to lay it before the House as soon as he reasonably could. That so long an interval as five months should have been allowed to intervene between the first reading of the Bill and its delivery to hon. Members was a practice much to be deprecated. His attention had also been drawn by the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan) to the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Louth having obtained leave on former occasions introduced Bills with the same titles as this, and that the present measure differed from them as introduced. He was bound to say that if the hon. and learned Member for Louth thought, while retaining the title, that by the alteration proposed he might make his Bill more acceptable to the House he was entitled 1430 to do so. Having regard to the whole of the circumstances of the case, he did not see that the hon. and learned Member for Louth was out of Order in submitting his Bill to the House. At the same time, he felt that it was his duty to decidedly mark the objectionable practice of so long a delay occurring between the introduction and the delivery of a Bill.
§ MR. NORWOOD
said, the question involved was one of great importance to the House. All the irregularity had arisen from the practice of hon. Members introducing measures without any explanation of their drift or purpose, a practice which did not exist when he entered Parliament.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
rose to Order, and asked if it were competent for the hon. Member for Hull to raise that question?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that, having given his decision, it only now remained for him to call on the hon. and learned Gentleman who had charge of the Bill to proceed with the Motion for the second reading.
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: I am sorry that the Bill has been encountered by the obstructive tactics that have already consumed half-an-hour of the time of the House. But before I proceed to state the nature of the Bill, I wish to call attention to a circumstance that has taken place this afternoon with respect to it. There are several hon. Members in the House at the present moment who have complained that not alone moral persuasion, which might have been fair, has been used to prevent their entering the House, but that hands have been laid upon them in the Lobby in order to prevent their coming in to make a House, so that the Speaker might take the Chair. A number of hon. Members were standing outside in the Hall, and two of them were Members of the Government, right hon. and otherwise. I did not see the face of the Home Secretary at all until the Speaker had taken the Chair, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman was in the Lobby; neither did I see the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland in his place, until after the House had been made, though he was also in the Lobby. It is not my intention to occupy the time of the House at 1431 any length in describing the nature of this Bill. During the debates that have lately taken place in reference to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors in Ireland on Sundays Bill many of the Irish Members who opposed the proposal to close altogether on Sundays asked why the promoters of the Bill had not gone in for a measure to shorten the hours of sale on Saturday evenings. Again and again statistics were cited to show that that was the point where the evil really lay, and that those who supported the Bill were starting at the wrong point. In dealing with such arguments, one plan is to assume that they were mere pretences, and the other is to assume that those who used them were thoroughly honourable and sincere. It occurs to me that it would be the wiser plan to take the brighter view of human nature and to assume that those who recommended Saturday evening closing, though opposed to Sunday closing, are sincere in that recommendation. Indeed, I feel bound to say that nearly every one of the few Irish Members who have in this House opposed the Sunday Closing Bill have expressed their concurrence in the principle proposed in the present Bill—namely, the making of some alteration in the hour of closing on Saturday evenings. I take this opportunity of saying that I am not wedded to the hour proposed by the Bill; I am willing to have that discussed in Committee, and to hear what experienced Members have to say—first, as to whether the hour should be universal all over Ireland; or, whether it should be earlier or later in the towns and cities as compared with the country districts. I repeat that this Bill is a compromise, in the sense that it does not represent my views, and theories, and convictions as to the complete way of settling the question in Ireland. I have only heard of two Irish Members who are really opposed to the principle of the measure, and I only have to say that if any considerable number suggested that there really was any popular objection to Saturday evening closing in their localities, as I have always been an advocate for allowing an option, I would support any Motion they might introduce by the way of giving localities an option on the subject. The evidence taken before the Select Committee of the opponents to Sunday closing was all in favour of 1432 closing public-houses on Saturday nights. Captain Talbot, the Assistant Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, told the Select Committee that he would strongly recommend the closing of public-houses on Saturday night at an earlier hour. The Chief Secretary asked Captain Talbot if his recommendation to close on Saturday at 9 o'clock was based not only on the drunkenness which went on that time, but on the fact that it was continued until the Sunday morning on account of the houses being kept open so late on Saturday night. Captain Talbot replied that he was satisfied of that, explaining how Saturday night was the main cause of most of the Sunday drunkenness. Captain Talbot said—A man drinks until 11 o'clock on Saturday night, then he must have more, and he goes to the night house, and being rather weak on the Sunday morning, he follows the same course.All the witnesses concurred that the only way to arrest the squander of the weekly wages was to close earlier on the Saturday night. Inspector Corr, of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, a man who was always opposed to Sunday closing, said—I think if the hours wore curtailed on the Saturday it would have a good effect.The Secretary of the Publican's Association in Dublin, Mr. Dwyer, who was also examined before the Committee, gave important evidence. I should be sorry to complain of the vituperation he has devoted to me in discharging the duties of his office. A public man must not be thin-skinned, and although Mr. Dwyer published a letter in the Licensed Victuallers' organ of London, which was undoubtedly a breach of privilege, charging me with trickery, I do not complain, as I regard it as only the publican's way of putting or showing an argument. Why is Mr. Dwyer so sore? It is because he never expected to be taken at his word. He said his opinion was in favour of earlier closing on Saturday, and now his friends and employers turn round and say—"You have allowed the enemy to get through the Balkan pass." Mr. Dwyer said—I can say so much for them (the publicans of Dublin), that the intemperance and excessive drinking, which undoubtedly does exist, occurs more on Saturday night than at any other time, and if it could he put a stop to, I would almost undertake to stop it at any sacrifice.1433 The gentleman, after this, however, was in an awkward position, and I think hon. Gentlemen who opposed the Sunday Closing Bill to-day find themselves in a critical position with respect to my Bill. They are brought to the proof whether the suggestions of Saturday closing have been made in good faith or not, and it remains to be seen whether they will now oppose the proposal which they have made all along. My hon. Friend the Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. Brooks) ought to have brought in the Bill, for he claims the credit of being the Member who has been trying to establish earlier closing on Saturday. In a letter to one of his constituents, he says—If there are to be other restrictions on the sale of intoxicating drinks than those which now exist, it is clearly shown they should not he confined to Sundays, nor to the unenfranchised classes of society.He further says—I cannot understand those who take so much interest in this Bill and who so persistently refuse to join in my efforts rather to restrict the hours of sale on Saturday.
My hon. Friend proceeded to say—The evil arising from the abuse of drink cannot be overrated. May we not hope that the efforts of those benevolent persons who promote this Bill may be directed to the spread of religion and education as means of reform more truly efficacious than this bald and naked measure of police?That is contained in a letter creditable to my hon. Friend, and thoroughly consistent with his support of Saturday evening and Sunday closing. [Mr. BROOKS: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman in that letter complained that he was not supported in his efforts to close the public-houses on Saturday nights, but I am prepared to give him my support, and I claim the hon. Member's vote on this Bill. This is a Saturday closing Bill, and I hope you will not class me among the fanatics who refuse to strive for anything which is not a settlement of the whole question. Mr. Dwyer, as I have said, gave evidence before the Committee in favour of closing at an earlier hour on Saturday evenings, and Mr. Charles O'Donel, a police magistrate of the City of Dublin, 1434 who ought to know something about this subject, says—I am against Sunday closing, but I unhesitatingly say, close by all means earlier on Saturday. At present the hour is 11, and as it would be better not to do the thing too violently, I should say 8 o'clock in summer and 7 in winter.I think I can satisfy the House that unless these suggestions are insincere, and simply meant for the purpose of diverting us from doing anything I ought to have a unanimous vote. [Mr. MURPHY: Will the hon. Gentleman read more of Mr. O'Donel's evidence?] No one is better able to make a good speech than my hon. Friend, as we had an ample illustration the other day, though unfortunately it was on the wrong side of the question; but, perhaps, he will allow me to make my own statement without interruption. The Publicans' Association of Dublin brought forward witnesses from some of the trade societies —only some of them, most of whom said—"Although we won't have Sunday closing, we ask you to deal with the question of the earlier closing on Saturday night." Monsignor M'Cabe, who had since been raised to the Episcopal purple in the Roman Catholic Church, gave evidence before the Select Committee in 1868, to the effect that, whilst opposed to Sunday closing, he was strongly of opinion that a great deal of the misery due to intemperance was to be attributed to the Saturday evening drinking, and advised that the public-houses should be closed at 9 o'clock on Saturdays. The Mayor of Limerick stated that he would not have the public-houses open later than 6 o'clock on Saturday evenings in winter and 7 in summer. Dr. O'Shaughnessy, the father of the hon. Member for the city of Limerick, advised the closing of public-houses at 8 o'clock. Mr. Barry, inspector of Constabulary at Cork, Mr. O'Halloran, and others, were all strongly in favour of the restriction of the hours of closing on Saturday. No single witness suggested that it would do harm to close earlier than at present on Saturday night. Therefore, the present measure is brought forward broadly on its merits. It is no substitute for a Sunday Closing Bill. It will be entirely for those who believe that this would cure the evil to show that having passed the measure there would be no necessity 1435 for Sunday closing, and that it would take the life out of that agitation that is about to be prosecuted in Ireland during the Recess with regard to Sunday closing, and in reference to the challenge as to what evidence the Irish people will give between this Session and next. I believe the Irish people will be intelligent enough to understand the attitude taken by hon. Members. They will scrutinize the various suggestions which have been made to close earlier on Saturdays, and will make a frank acknowledgment of the good faith of hon. Members who intend to support the Bill to-day. I can only say that the Sunday Closing Association would be blind to its own interest if it did not know how to turn to good account in the Recess the attitude taken by those who have obstructed us hitherto. We have endeavoured, some hon. Members may think in a wrong direction, to grapple with this question Session after Session, and although we are called fanatics and monomaniacs, and charged with being impulsive, I admit that I myself may sometimes indulge in strong language. We ought to have credit given to us of being able to see a terrible evil wasting our people, tracking our countrymen all over the globe, pursuing them in foreign lands, robbing their wives and children of the sustenance that ought to be theirs, taking the shoes off their feet and the pence out of their pockets that ought to pay the school fees, and keeping poor people day-labourers and hodmen, who ought to be equal to any of the men with whom they are brought in contact. We maybe wrong, but there are some of us who have entered upon this agitation from motives of patriotism, and who feel that the emancipation of the people will only be half accomplished until they are rendered sober and temperate. Every year we come here asking relief—now, in one direction; and then, in another. This is the smallest modicum of relief that has yet been asked for, but I hope the House will consent to pass it. I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Sullivan.)
§ MR. SHAW,
in moving that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, he hoped the House would 1436 not conclude that those who opposed the measure were at all indifferent to the evils of intemperance. They were all as anxious as the hon. and learned Member who brought it forward (Mr. Sullivan) to promote temperance and to secure the comfort and well-being of the people; but they took the liberty of differing with their Friends as to the means by which that object ought to be accomplished. They had a strong opinion that legislation was not the only way, and legislation should not be resorted to, except in aid of moral force. They had on the Paper to-day two other Bills on the same subject referring to England. It would be a pleasing variety if they were to hear their English Friends discuss the question. So far they had nothing but Irish Sunday closing, Irish Saturday closing, and Irish temperance for the whole Session. They were thoroughly wearied of it, and should like the introduction of some variety. His principal objection to the present Bill was as to the time it was introduced. He attached no importance to the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan), that they had been taken by surprise. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth had a perfect right to improve his Bill and make it more acceptable to the House. At the same time, he was not prepared to say that a Bill introduced on the 9th of February, and circulated only on the 12th of July, might not have been a surprise for some people. It was no surprise, however, to him, but he could not help saying that this measure would affect a very large interest, and that many persons representing that interest did not expect that ever a measure would be introduced under the title of this Bill. It was, therefore, on that ground a very great surprise to many people in Ireland. The feeling of the House was, that vested interests should be fairly dealt with, but that could not be done now. Another objection he had was, that there was not the slightest possibility of passing the Bill into law that Session. Was that a time of the Session when they could expect to pass such a Bill? If the Government took it up and adopted it, he did not think they could possibly pass it that Session. He did not really object to the principle of the Bill. As a large employer of labour in Ireland, he 1437 believed that the efforts which had been made to shorten the hours on Sunday had been attended with great benefit. He also thought that there would be advantage in shortening the hours on Saturday; but it was impossible at that period of the Session, with the present accumulation of Business, to go into the question and weigh and balance the various interests affected by the Bill. He would, therefore, appeal to his hon. and learned Friend not to press the Bill that Session, and in that case he thought it would be the duty of the Government to take up the question next year, and deal with it as a whole—though he did not suppose it was their duty to do it, as perhaps they preferred to see Irish Members worry themselves and each other upon the question. They occupied a position which was not possessed by private Members; and although personally he was in favour of shortening the hours both on Saturday and Sunday, he would not violently legislate against the habits and feelings of the people. Whatever measure they proposed must be tentative. Undue haste would only create more evils, and if they put off the question for another year, the Government in the Recess would be able to consider the subject, and propose a satisfactory settlement next Session. The Petitions which had been presented in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill came from very good people —the cream of them, he might say; but the same people would petition against the payment of any money to Maynooth, and in favour of closing monasteries and nunneries. The question with which the Bill proposed to deal was a most important one. It was one that affected the interest of the poor, and was for the benefit of the poor; but he was not in favour of any legislation that would deprive a man of his good and healthful glass of beer. A proper measure on the subject could not fail to do a great deal of good to the country; but he could not concur in any measure which would shut the poor man out from Saturday to Monday. He maintained that the question was one that should not be left in the hands of an amateur. There were other reasons, too, why this Bill should be withdrawn. He appealed to the Government to bring in a Bill next Session dealing with the whole subject; and as he believed there was no possibility of 1438 bringing the present Bill to a successful issue this year, he felt bound to oppose it, particularly as he considered that a question of such magnitude ought to be dealt with by those who were responsible for the peace and good order of the country, and not by an amateur statesman.
§ MR. M. BROOKS,
in seconding the Motion for the rejection of the Bill, said, he did so, because he believed the measure, if passed, would be found inoperative for the purposes for which it was introduced. It was stated in evidence before the Select Committee that at present, in spite of the supervision of the police, there were a great many illicit drinking-houses in Ireland; he believed the effect of passing this Bill would be to increase the number, and that people would go to them after the licensed public-houses were closed, and would not only be drunkards, but law breakers. Such a measure as this ought to be under the charge of the Government, and he hoped they would bring in a Bill dealing with the whole subject of Sunday closing next year. Should they do so, and the measure be calmly deliberated upon by that House, he would gladly support it. As for the Bill under notice, he believed, if it passed, that worse evils than now prevailed would ensue.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Shaw.)
§ MR. CALLAN
denied the statement which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), that hon. Members had been prevented from entering the House in order that no House should be made. Now, if that were so, it would not only be disrespectful to the Speaker, but a matter for the consideration of the Serjeant-at-Arms. Nothing in the way of force occurred, and all that was attempted was a little gentle persuasion. The hon. and learned Member selected passages from the evidence given by Canon M'Cabe before the Select Committee; but Canon M'Cabe, in answer to a question put to him as to what hour he thought would be desirable to close the public-houses on Saturday night, said, in his opinion, 9 o'clock would be a reasonable hour. But what did the hon. and learned 1439 Member propose in his Bill? Why, he went far beyond what Canon M'Cabe thought a reasonable hour, and proposed 7 o'clock as the hour for closing the houses. The hon. and learned Member also left out the evidence of Captain Corbett, who thought that public-houses might be kept open on Saturday nights to 9 o'clock, and it was considered by other witnesses that half-past 10 o'clock was the most desirable time at which to close the houses; and none of the witnesses recommended that they should be closed at so early an hour as the hon. and learned Member named in his Bill. In conclusion, he would say, that as the subject had been so fully discussed on former occasions, there was not now any necessity for him to mention anything further than to hope that the Bill would be rejected.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING,
in supporting the Bill, said, there was one part of it in which he was entirely with his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), and that was the closing of public-houses early on Saturday evening, and shortening the hours on Sunday. If his memory did not fail, he thought that several hon. Members, both English and Irish, had indicated in their speeches on this subject, on a former occasion, that they were prepared, if any hon. Member brought in a Bill for shortening the hours of keeping public-houses open on Saturday and Sunday, to support it. Now, if that were so, he was at a loss to understand why those hon. Members should not have the courage of their opinions, and act up to them on the present occasion, by supporting the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Louth. He should be surprised to hear any hon. Member speaking against the Bill. His hon. Colleague (Mr. Shaw) had not done so, and the only reason he put forward why the Bill should not now be read a second time was that the House had not sufficient time to discuss and pass such a measure. That undoubtedly would be so, if the Bill were obstructed; but there was time enough, if hon. Members were sincere in their desire to see the Bill become law in Ireland, where the people were in favour of it. He denied that the people of Ireland were a drunken people; but the drunkenness that there existed was in a great measure due to the drinking which, commencing on the 1440 Saturday night, was carried on to the Sunday, and Monday found the artizan unfit for his work.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
resumed, and expressed a hope that the evil which his hon. and learned Friend proposed a remedy to mitigate would be met in a fair spirit. As regarded the possibility of passing it that Session, there was a Bill in Committee, of which he was a Member, and it was only reported yesterday, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland hoped that that and another measure, which were delayed in progress, would pass that Session. The principle of the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend being admitted to be a right one, why, he asked, did hon. Members hesitate to support it? If there was not an expression of opinion in this country in favour of the Bill, there was a strong one in Ireland. By shortening the hours in which public-houses in Ireland were kept open, they would confer a great benefit on the working classes in Ireland. His hon. and learned Friend had quoted from the evidence given before the Committee, and in a most succinct manner he had quoted from the evidence of the witnesses brought over by the opponents of the Sunday Closing Bill, and there was not one of those witnesses who did not say that early closing on Saturday would be a great benefit to the community. Now, effect was given to that opinion in this Bill standing now for second reading on the 18th of July. He did not know when the House was to be dismissed by Her Majesty; but if the Bill were met in a fair way, there was no difficulty in the way of its becoming the law of the land. But he doubted if the Executive in Ireland, or the Government in England really desired the Bill. If they did desire to pass the Bill, it would be passed; but he apprehended there was some fear that to support the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Louth would offend a large portion of the constituents of this country. Vested interests was the cry, and vested interests must not be tampered with. But what were these vested interests? No man under the Bill would be deprived of his 1441 licence and no additional tax was placed upon him. It was merely this—that the law would not allow him to keep his house open as a snare at a time when he and his family should be in bed. His hon. Friends from Ireland had as much experience upon the subject as he had; but it had been his habit to sit for some time as a magistrate in his county, and he could say that out of a bench of 16 magistrates, there was not one single difference of opinion as to the advantage of closing early on Saturday. Their views differed as to entire Sunday closing. In the small towns of his own county the market day was usually Saturday, and the country people came to the towns in crowds from the surrounding districts to sell their agricultural produce and other commodities. Their goods being sold, the money in their pockets, and the public-houses being before them, they could not resist going into them, and it was then, during the late hours of market day, that the people drank to drunkenness. Both as a magistrate and a grand juror he was able to say the crimes attributed to drunkenness did not arise from drinking in the early part of the day, but from the night drinking, when men after leaving one public-house were on their way attracted by the brilliant lighting up of another. Stop this drinking on Saturday night—confer a boon upon the people of Ireland. The people desired it. It would remove temptation. They would go early from market to their homes and their wives with their money in their pockets. Sunday would be a happy day, and on Monday they would be ready to resume their work. But by public-houses being open in country towns till 10, and in cities till 11, there was a sure snare ready for the unwary countrymen who came into town, a snare set for the injury of his body and mind, as well as an injury to his family. A man who went to bed drunk on Saturday night did not go to a place of worship on a Sunday. While he was opposed to Sunday closing, he gave the Bill his support, and he hoped that English Members would join with Irish Members in offering facilities for its passing, and that the Chief Secretary would prove the sincerity of the Government by doing all he could to ensure its becoming the law of the land.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
said, he was glad to see the hon. and learned Member for Louth 1442 (Mr. Sullivan) in his place, as he was about to suggest to him the advisability of not taking a division upon this Bill this year, but that he should wait till next year before doing so. That counsel had been given by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) and by others, who said that hon. Members from Ireland had not had an opportunity of consulting their constituents on the question, and he was in the same position. This was just one of those Bills on which he should have liked to consult those who sent him there, in order to discover whether it was a Bill which had their general approval or not. The Bill was introduced early in the Session, under the title of the Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill; but that title might mean anything. If a Bill with such a title had been introduced under the auspices of the hon. Member for Limerick county (Mr. O'Sullivan), it might be supposed to be a measure regulating the mixing or blending of spirits, or to keep Scotch spirit out of the Irish markets; while from the hon. and learned Member for Louth the Bill might have been supposed to be one prohibiting the sale, or taking off all restrictions in the trade—for he had favoured both propositions. If he (Captain. Nolan) had been asked what the Bill meant, as to either, he could not have given any information from the title. Upon the original introduction of the measure, the only idea conveyed to him was that it might mean anything. About a week ago he learned, and probably he was one of the first Members of the House to do so, that it meant the closing of the public-houses in Ireland at 7 o'cock on Saturday evening. What was he to do in that case? He might have scattered copies of the Bill as well as he could, and have written to ask his constituents' opinion upon it; but it would have been thought a strange thing to give them only a week's consideration, and they would naturally have returned the answer—"Why did you not do so a week ago?" On the other hand, had he asked the opinion of his constituents as soon as he became aware of the nature of the measure, he might have got an expression on one side from the teetotallers, and one of a contrary character from the publicans, but the moderate people in his county, whose opinions were worth having, would not have made up their minds on the subject. It was not always an easy matter, 1443 especially in the counties of Ireland, to find out what people wanted, and as this was a Bill peculiarly for the constituencies, he did not know how he should vote on the merits of the question. He considered the Bill, just as the Sunday Closing Bill, one on which they were bound to get the advice of those who would be affected thereby. Hon. Members probably would not have to loiter in public-houses on Sunday or Saturday. They might do so, perhaps, as he had occasionally, but, as a rule, hon. Members would not find any inconvenience from either Bill passing, so far as they were personally concerned, so it was more necessary to get the opinion of the class who, as he had said, would be affected—the farmers, the labourers, and the populations of towns. There was one class of the community which he should have liked to consult on this question—the guides of the people—the clergy. He had not the opportunity of discussing the subject with the Catholic clergy. The opinion there might be in favour of or against the Bill; but as a measure affecting the moral habits of the people, he should like to ask the clergy what they thought about it before giving his vote; so also with the views of the magistracy, who, as having a larger acquaintance with crime, and that which led to crime, than he could possibly possess, were better entitled to express an opinion. He should have liked to have asked all these parties how to vote. They could only have been arrived at by letter, and he had certainly sent letters by post to persons in the county which he represented, but, as they all knew, letters sometimes went astray—and it must be said that communication, in some parts of Ireland, was rather intermittent. The result was that at the present moment he was absolutely without instructions. It would be a different thing if the question were a war Estimate, where a Member had to make up his mind one way or the other on the spur of the moment, and vote hastily either for or against a proposal of that kind without there being time to consult his constituents; but this was a Bill which might have been brought in 10 or 20 years ago, and might as well be introduced next year as this. It was dated to take effect from the 1st October. He had never taken a prominent part in this liquor question, 1444 though there were few Irish questions he did not have something to say upon; but upon this subject he had not said a word, and he had no wish to give his vote. If compelled to go to a division, he should probably vote against the Bill this year, but next year he might, perhaps, after consulting his constituents, vote in favour of the Bill, and he did not wish to expose himself to a charge of inconsistency by so doing. Suppose that on the 1st of October people were to find that the Bill had become law, what would happen? Why, in the market town in which he lived, where— as was the case in that part of Ireland referred to by the hon. Member for the county of Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) —the market was held on Saturday, they would be unable to get anything after 7 o'clock. Publicans who had laid in their stores, not expecting a measure of this kind, would naturally feel aggrieved, and they would look upon him in a nice way, if they found he had voted in favour of the measure. Had the question been one of closing the public-houses on Sunday, that would have been different, because the question had been before his constituents for years, and he bad seen some 500 or 600 people with reference to it, and had a very fair idea of how his constituency required him to vote, though neither on that, nor on any other subject were they particularly unanimous. However, he had not the faintest notion how they wished him to vote with regard to this Bill. Therefore, he was of opinion that it ought to be laid by till text year, and then, if he found his constituents wished it, he would vote for it with far more pleasure than he should upon the Sunday Closing Bill. He had only one objection to the Sunday Closing Bill, but that objection did not hold in this case. His objection to the former was that it pressed hard upon a portion of people, some 50 or 60, in his county, where it was the habit to set up public-houses near the chapel, and where—he did not know whether it was so in Protestant communities—people, after attending to their religious duties, went not only for refreshment, but in a great number of instances to purchase their week's groceries and small stores. If the public-houses were shut up—for these were generally stores as well—not only would the tradesmen be ruined, but the public 1445 would be very greatly inconvenienced. This was his chief objection to the Sunday Closing Bill, but that was not the question here. No particular class, so far as he was aware, would be very much incovenienced by this measure, and he, personally, had no objection to it. They must give the promoters the credit of saying that they had pushed it forward with great energy and judgment, though, in his opinion, it would not be a proof of good judgment were they to press it to a division now, because they would force hon. Members to follow the temperance men, and they might find themselves obliged to vote against it this year. But even if it was pressed to a division, he questioned very much whether the second reading would be agreed to. And what was the extraordinary reason given for pressing the Bill forward this Session? He doubted whether, because three or four hon. Members happened to say, in the heat of debate, that public-houses should be closed on Saturday evenings, this Bill would meet the necessities of the case. It would be bad policy on their part to allow this Bill to be passed, as it would establish a precedent which they might have cause to regret hereafter. It would be a precedent for the Government to propose a Bill on any occasion, and ask them at a few days' notice to pass judgment upon it. The House did not want to be asked to pass Bills at a week's notice, without any opportunity being afforded them of consulting their constituents, and asking them to pronounce upon them. They would injure their cause enormously if they asked the House to pass this measure. He hoped his hon. Friends would consent to postpone it till next year, and then the whole subject being before them, they could decide upon the merits of the case. The Sunday Closing Bill affected the rural part of the population, but this Bill would affect the town populations, and it would be easy for the Representatives of towns to ascertain the feelings of their constituents upon it. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. and learned Member for Louth and the junior Member for the county of Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would not press him to the necessity of voting against the Bill.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
Sir, I wish to say a few words on this occasion. you, Sir, have ruled with regard 1446 to the point of Order that has been raised, and if you had not so ruled, I should certainly now have raised the question. I am bound to say, first of all, with all respect to the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), that it is a most irregular practice for any man in this House to ballot at the beginning of the Session and to get his name put down for a Bill, which he fixes for some particular day, when at the time that ballot takes place and he puts his name down for a Bill, he has not a notion what the contents of the Bill are to be. That is one of those unconstitutional things that ought not to be tolerated in this House for one moment. I venture to think that when a man intends to bring a Bill before this House, he is bound to know exactly what he intends to bring forward. If I am rightly informed, the hon. and learned Member for Louth has placed in this Bill many clauses which he has copied from the Report of a Select Committee upstairs upon another Bill. But what does the hon. and learned Member do? This Bill is not delivered to hon. Members till the 12th of July, and now, upon the 18th of July, it comes on as the First Order of the Day. That, I think, is absolutely wrong and improper. The hon. and learned Member takes every opportunity of stating the necessity that exists for preventing drunkenness in Ireland, and I, like him and every other hon. Member in this House, are most anxious that drunkenness everywhere should be suppressed; but it cannot be done by law. There must be something far beyond law to suppress drunkenness. Far greater influence must be used over the people of this great country than law to prevent drunkenness. The hon. and learned Member for Louth, although he has spoken often and strongly on this question — although no hon. Member has used stronger language towards the Government than he has done for not giving him what he wanted —has most signally failed in understanding the necessity there is, when any man attempts to bring in a Bill interfering, as this Bill will do, not only with the rights of publicans—because they might be put on one side, if they are in direct opposition to the interests of the people—but, interfering with the rights of the people, he is bound to consider, and ought to have considered, how 1447 such a question as that could be fairly dealt with. Nobody knows better than he does the inconvenience of bringing in Bills of this fragmentary character. First, we are told that Sunday closing is the panacea which is to set everything right in Ireland; but when they are told that it might be advisable to try Sunday closing in certain districts, provided the large towns are left out, they eay—"Oh, no; we will not have that at all," and, finding they cannot get what they want, they say they will close on Saturday night, and that that will meet the case. I ask, whether that is not the deliberate opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Louth and those who are acting with him? [Mr. SULLIVAN: No.] The hon. and learned Member shakes his head, but that, at all events, is the course of their action, and therefore I have a right to say that is their deliberate opinion. But look at what will happen now. The hon. and learned Member for Louth, clever as he is, sharp and astute as he is, when investigating and looking into all manner of things, yet fails to appreciate public opinion. Public opinion, so far as I have been able to gather it, is veering round in Ireland, and I will venture to say, whatever the hon. and learned Member may think, that next year he will have far less chance of carrying the Sunday Closing Bill in this House than he has had this year. He thinks the House is not going to pass the Sunday Closing Bill, and so now, at the fag-end of the Session, he will try to close public-houses a greater portion of Saturday evenings. Well, I say, this is not a wise proceeding. If you are going to deal with this question deal with it in a statesmanlike way. At the beginning of next year, bring in a Bill dealing with the liquor question in Ireland, taking Saturday, if you please, with Sunday, and let us discuss it in this House, and deal with it as we may be advised will be for the advantage of those who will be affected by it. I venture to say that the hon. and learned Member for Louth will not find that Englishmen are unprepared to give every attention and consideration to the subject which has been so repeatedly brought before this House. There are many men who have determined to sacrifice a certain portion of their individual opinions because they believed a majority of the Irish people 1448 were in favour of Sunday closing. When the supporters of the Bill are treated in that way, is it fair at this, the eleventh hour of the Session to bring in a Bill of this kind which deals so strongly with the rights of the people of Ireland? The hon. and learned Member for Louth is Member for a large agricultural constituency. Has he consulted that constituency, as to whether it is wise or desirable to bring in a Bill of this kind? Is he going to ride over them rough shod, and see if he can get a majority of the House of Commons to pass his measure, because he thinks it will be for their advantage? And does he not know perfectly well that the great cry in Ireland has been that the people can get whiskey, which is their main drink, upon Saturday, so that there is no occasion to go to the public-house on Sunday? and, notwithstanding this, he now turns round and says that in these very hours, when people are leaving their work, they are not to be allowed to go to the public-houses at all. If he had put the hour of closing at a more moderate time we might have considered something about it. But he says—"No; 7 o'clock. No man is to go to a public-house after 7 o'clock; while he, and all those like him may go when and where they pleased." There is another thing. Many of them forget that the consumption of beer is growing greater, and I hope will grow greater every day in Ireland, and one of the great reasons for not closing these houses may be that people ought to be able to get their beer not only upon Saturday night, but also for a certain time on Sunday. I venture to hope that the practice of drinking beer may increase, much to the detriment of the whiskey traffic. But it is a grave consideration for the hon. and learned Gentleman, whether when he comes at such a time to bring in a Bill of this kind, which can only recommend itself to some few, who, at the cost of harassing the Government and harassing this House with legislation which they know cannot pass, will not damage that cause which they profess to have at heart, and remove to a considerable extent any chance of passing a good Bill for Ireland.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, he should not have taken part in the discussion had it not been for a remark made by the hon. Member for the county of Cork 1449 (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), who said that this was a Bill on which the English as well as the Irish Members ought to pronounce an opinion. That being the case, he, as an English Member, and as one who desired to the utmost of his power to guard the privileges of the great body of the people, thought it his duty to enter his protest against such a Bill as that before the House. The hon. Member for Cork pleaded in a most effusive way as to the necessity of passing the Bill, and he made use of a most humiliating statement in respect to a section of his own countrymen as a proof of the necessity for doing so. He wished this Bill to pass—for whom? Not for the working classes, on whose behalf such illiberal and unwise professions were made, all in the way of depriving them of their personal liberties, but for the farmers coming to market with their produce. This Bill was to prevent them from obtaining drink on Saturday night, and preventing them from the misery of recovering from drunkenness on Sunday. This legislation was wanted for the farmers who came to the markets and sold their goods on Saturdays. Now he (Mr. Macdonald) should be very loth to believe that the farming class in Ireland were so wretchedly low in their moral habits as to require such legislation. He should be very loth to believe that in the case of that powerful body, the clergy of Ireland, to which Irishmen, wherever they were, paid the highest attention, and for which he respected them, although not a member of their Church—
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
rose to a point of Order. He had never said anything at all reflecting on the moral character of the farming class. He merely alluded to them as one class of persons affected by drinking late on Saturdays. He included artizans and labourers, and meant no reflection on the moral character of any person.
§ MR. MACDONALD
submitted that he was perfectly in Order, and that the hon. Member had just confirmed exactly what he was saying—that the farmers were liable to drink. He had not said a word about immorality, although the hon. Member no doubt looked upon drinking as immorality. He was saying that he did not believe that the influences which had been brought to bear upon the population were of such 1450 a character as to lead them into the rioting and disorder to which the hon. Member had referred. But what would be the effect of this legislation if it should take place? Would it cure the evil of which the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), and those who supported him complained? He ventured to say it would not. If the farmers had tasted a little in the afternoon, would the result not be that before the houses were closed they would have recourse to purchasing a quantity of drink and carving it along with them, and instead of drinking it where they desired to have it, they would be driven to take it at their homes amongst their children and in the domestic circle. If drink was an evil—and he believed it to be a serious evil—it should not be driven into the houses of the poor. He opposed the Bill on this further ground, that if those hon. Gentlemen who promoted measures of this kind were to succeed in getting it passed for Ireland, they would try to get it passed for England as well. He did not believe in perpetrating the slightest leaven of injustice; and so long as he was in that House he would do his best to prevent it. If the hon. and learned Member for Louth, and those who supported him, were really desirous that the Bill should be just in its character, they would, besides preventing the poor farmer, the artizan, and the labourer from getting drink, put in a clause enacting that every person who had a cellar, and a key to that cellar, should deliver the key into the hands of the police by 7 o'clock on Saturday evenings. They would then be pro-vented from drinking as well as the middle and poorer classes throughout the country. If they were so desirous of having people sober and correct in their habits let them be just, and close all the clubs in Dublin and elsewhere. A measure of that kind should be made applicable to all classes. He had been in Dublin, where he had observed the upper classes, and if he might use the expression, he should say that it had cost more to paint one of their faces that he saw with liquor than would supply the wants of the working classes of a whole county for several months. In conclusion, he would say that he had a strong desire for the temperance of the people, but he did not believe it could be obtained by restrictive measures. The only hope 1451 was to raise the people by other means, to elevate them by higher objects of a more enobling character than mere coercive laws, which said in effect that they should not be permitted to drink, whilst others might drink as much as they chose and when they thought fit.
in supporting the second reading of the Bill, said, it was exceedingly difficult to meet the various views of those who took an interest in this question, and especially its opponents. When Sunday closing was proposed, they urged earlier closing on Saturday, and now that that was proposed, they resisted it. There was not a single authority in the Constabulary, the Dublin police, or amongst the magistracy, who was examined before the Select Committee on Sunday Closing, that did not propose the alternative policy of this Bill, and the shortening of hours, if not total closing, on Sundays. They also knew that the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, on several occasions, had intimated that if the supporters of the Sunday Closing Bill would be satisfied with the shortening of hours on Sunday, and the shortening of hours on Saturday evening, he would be prepared to consider it, and he certainly left the impression that the Government would take up the question. But they were now told that to attempt by law to make a man sober was an infringement of his liberty. When Bills had been before that House for preventing men and women from working as long as they liked, or for preventing parents from making their children work as long as they liked, had the House ever hesitated to adopt them on the ground that they would be restricting the liberty of the subject? Hon. Members now seemed extremely sensitive about the liberty of their neighbours and of the lower classes; but whenever Bills had been passed in that House in which their liberties and interests were severally attacked, they had had to submit when it was proved, that their doing so would be for the public advantage. Surely the advantage of having a nation as sober as it could be made by legislation would be an immense gain, and worth trying for. Very recently a summary appeared in one of the evening papers, and it stated that the convictions for drunkenness in Ireland had increased from 6,000 a few years ago to 17,000 1452 last year. If the convictions had increased nearly 300 per cent, it might be supposed that the unconvicted drunkards had increased in a similar ratio; for any one observing the conduct of the police must know that out of 20 men who were tipsy, not more than one was arrested, no notice being taken of a drunken man so long as he walked quietly along the street. The returns of summary convictions for drunkenness before the magistrates, therefore, did not represent the amount of drunkenness in a country. It had been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan), that he took objection to the Bill, because it interfered with the vested interests of some people who kept licensed houses near to chapels.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
I said that was my objection to the Sunday closing, and that the objection did not apply to this Bill.
begged the hon. and gallant Gentleman's pardon for having misunderstood him. He could only say that if other hon. Members bad had the trouble in clearing of public-houses that he had had as a magistrate, they would vote in favour of the Bill. He lived near to a village, and the police had asked him from 30 to 40 times to go and shut up the public-houses, because there was such a row going on. One objection to the Bill was, that Saturday was the market day, and it was the day on which the monthly fairs were held, but the business done at these markets was generally over by 1 o'clock. Surely there was sufficient time for any number of persons to get as much as they possibly could between 1 and 7 o'clock; and it was not necessary to keep public-houses open till 10 o'clock. The respectable class did not want them kept open, and it was only the rowdies who drank in them till late at night. This late drinking, too, was often the cause of factions and religious fights, and it was very often arranged by one party drinking in one public-house to lie in wait for another party drinking in a different public-house. He thought any reasonable man in the country could supply himself with what he wanted before 7 o'clock. He was in favour of the Bill, and hoped that it would be passed; while as to the hours, they could be arranged in Committee. The right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary 1453 for Ireland had frequently thrown out the suggestion for the shortening of the hours on Saturday and Sunday, and it would possibly lead to the solution of the question if he would undertake to bring in a Bill next Session dealing with it on the part of the Government.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he, like many other hon. Members who had spoken that day, felt himself somewhat embarrassed by the suddenness with which he was called upon to vote on the Bill. If he believed for one moment that there was a probability, or even a possibility, of the Bill becoming law that Session, he should feel coerced by the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan); and although he sympathized with the principle of the Bill most decidedly, and although his convictions were not likely to change, he would vote against it. They must remember that the people of Ireland had not been sufficiently consulted with regard to it; and even good law, if forced upon a people without having allowed public opinion to mature, was not at all palatable. However, he had not heard from the opponents of the Bill a single argument against the principle of shortening the hours on Saturday nights. Therefore he thought that, taking into account the suddenness of the introduction of the Bill, some compromise should be come to, whereby the scruples of those who would vote for and against the Bill might be met. He believed that it was not an uncommon practice to permit a Bill to be read a second time, on the understanding that it should be carried no further that Session. Many hon. Members who had spoken on the question, and had spoken against the second reading, did so on the ground that they not ascertained the views of their constituents. The effectual way to meet the matter was to place the Bill in exactly the same position as the Sunday Closing Bill, and let it be read a second time, on the understanding that it was to go no further that Session. Those two Bills might then be re-considered during the Recess. The attention of the Government would be far more forcibly called to the subject after a second reading than before; and he, for one, would hope that during the Recess the Government would be able to deal with the question by meeting the views of moderate men. By doing so they would best 1454 carry out the object of all Members of that House—namely, the promotion of temperance. He thought that that could be best met, not by having a complete closing on Sundays; but by a shortening of the hours on Saturdays, and providing for a considerable shortening of the hours on Sunday, leaving on the latter day some time for necessary refreshments. He had entered that House a pledged supporter of Sunday closing; and if the matter came to a vote now, he should vote for total Sunday closing. But he had learnt a good deal lately about Sunday closing, and he did not think there was so much feeling in favour of total Sunday closing as he once was led to believe, and he believed it was tainted with the Sabbatarian element, to which he objected. He hoped that during the Recess the Government might see its way to the framing of some Bill which would settle the question in Ireland for some time to come; and he believed that the feeling of prominent men who were not extreme, either in the view of publicans or Sunday closers, would be best met by the shortening of the hours on Saturdays and Sundays. He could not support Saturday closing at 7 o'clock, and he did not understand that the hon. and learned Member for Louth was pledged for that hour alone, but a rational hour of, perhaps, 9 o'clock. He would suggest to the hon. and learned Member, that if the Government would hold out any hope that they would consider the two Bills, with the view of introducing a Bill on the question next Session, he should be content with the present Bill being read a second time, and go no further with it. If that was done, he (Mr. Gray) should vote for the Bill; but if it was to be rushed through this Session, much as he sympathized with the Bill, because he did not think that the people of Ireland had had quite sufficient opportunity of considering it, he would vote against the measure.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
said, although in favour of some restriction in the matter, he could not vote for the second reading of the Bill for early closing on Saturdays, and he hoped the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), seeing the feeling of the House, would consent to its withdrawal. A measure of this kind ought to be very carefully considered, because it proposed to establish a principle which, so far as he knew, had 1455 never been seriously discussed, either in that House or in Ireland. It was probable that the Government might take the matter in hand next Session, and in the meantime the feeling of the country could be ascertained, and the whole subject dealt with on a broad and equitable basis, whereas the attempt to rush the Bill through at the fag-end of the Session would neither settle the question, nor satisfy anyone. He should therefore oppose the second reading.
§ MR. KIRK
said, he was one of those who had always opposed Sunday closing, believing that no good would result from it; and with regard to the present Bill, though he was in favour of its principle, he did not think there had been a sufficient expression of opinion on it in Ireland to justify him in giving it his support. He believed that the Sunday Closing Bill would not prevent drunkenness or immorality, but had no doubt that it would be the means of vastly increasing illicit drinking. It was on this ground that he had opposed Sunday closing. But with regard to the Bill for shortening the hours on Saturday, he had a different opinion. He was as anxious to guard the liberties of the people as the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald), but there was a want of education in Ireland, by which the bulk of the people were not able sufficiently to protect themselves against the temptations they were exposed to on the Saturday night when they received their wages, and until this was removed, it was absolutely necessary to do something on Saturday nights. He, however, agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Galway, that this proposal had come upon them with surprise, and he hoped his hon. and learned Colleague would consent to withdraw it until next year, and then some proper understanding with regard to a modification of the hours, might be arrived at which would, perhaps, put an end to this dreadful liquor matter for some time in that House. He was of opinion that 8 o'clock closing would meet the necessities of the case.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he would oppose the Bill. He would ask the House if it was fair or reasonable that a Bill proposing such a restriction of the liberties of the people should be brought into the House with only one week's Notice? It was true that they 1456 had a week's Notice of the Bill in the House; but the people of Ireland had no notice whatever, they would know nothing about it until they read the debate in that House. Was it fair, he asked, that such a Bill should be introduced at the tail end of the Session? If he thought that the passing of this Bill would finally settle the question, he would warmly support it; but he feared it was only one of the many Bills that the Sunday Closing Society had in preparation. The Government were in possession of the evidence that had been given before the Committee, and they ought to be well prepared to bring in a Bill which would finally settle the question next Session. They regarded the reduction of the hours on Saturday evening as a most legitimate proposal; but they objected to the Sabbatarian proposals to close entirely on Sunday. The hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had named 7 o'clock as the hour for closing on Saturday night. Now, while it was true that a good many of the working men left work at 1 o'clock, and had time to get their provisions for the Sunday, as a rule, the labourers in the country did not leave work until 6 o'clock, and they were often two or three miles from homo. Therefore, if this Bill were passed, not only would they be unable to get a drink, but they could not get their provisions for the Sunday—and it was well known that in Ireland the publicans were provision dealers as well. It was true that the question of hours might be considered in Committee; but if the House passed the second reading of the Bill, it would be admitting that 7 o'clock would be the proper hour for closing on Saturday evening. It was, therefore, advisable to say now that they were opposed to 7 or 8 o'clock as the hour for closing, although they were prepared to agree to a reasonable hour, that would enable people to get refreshment and provision for the Sunday. He objected to the Bill, because it was only the thin end of the wedge, and that many such measures would be introduced by the Sunday Closing Society. This Bill, if passed, would leave the hands of the Society free as regarded Saturday evening, and they would endeavour next to secure the total closing of public-houses on Sunday. He would ask the Government to bring in a Bill on the subject, 1457 so that an important question like that might not be dealt with by private Members, but that it might be dealt with in accordance with the rights and privileges of the people, and with a due regard to the large amount of property involved in the question in Ireland. He hoped that in the event of a division the Bill would be rejected by a large majority.
said, the Bill affected Imperial quite as much as Irish interests. It was not long since the Government dealt with the whole licensing question, and the House was now asked by a private Member to re-open it. First, they had the proposal for Sunday evening closing. Now, it was Saturday evening closing, and he was sure that if the Bill were passed they would have a proposal next Session for closing public-houses on Saturday morning. Then they would have a proposal to close them on Friday evening; next on Friday morning, and so on, so that ultimately they would get back to Sunday again, and in that way bring about absolute repression. That might be all very well for those who were in favour of preventing their fellow-subjects from having any liquors at all; but he maintained that the working man, like others of Her Majesty's subjects, had a right to take a reasonable quantity of beer or spirits. This Bill was one of a series which interfered with the liberty of the subject, and it behoved every hon. Member, whether Irish or English, to oppose it, and prevent its passing. If such a Bill were carried for Ireland, those in favour of equal legislation would say they could not oppose the application of the same principle to England and Scotland. He objected to the practice of bringing in Bills which were to apply to only one portion of the country. If they wished to make this country a united country, the best plan was to take care that their legislation should be applied to each country alike. He denied that drunkenness was on the increase, either absolutely or relatively, and must again say that the Bill was an improper interference with the liberty of the subject.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
said, that when he rose to speak on this subject before, he called it a Sabbatarian subject. He thought he was perfectly right in doing so, and the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) was not only 1458 attempting to keep the Christian Sabbath holy, but he now wanted them to return to the Jewish Sabbath and keep it holy also. He thought the hon. and learned Member was in too great a hurry to get into "the Valley of Jehoshaphat," and he would be quite as well to be content with this world as it was. For his own part, and he thought hon. Members would agree with him, he (Major O'Gorman) would say—You may rail at this life. From the hour I was in itI've found it a life full of kindness and bliss;And until you can find me some happier planet,More full of enjoyment, I'll stay upon this.He did not know if the hon. and learned Member felt it so, or not; but he would accompany him to the last verse—As for those chilly orbs on the verge of creation—He supposed that meant Londonderry and Drogheda—Where sunshine and smiles must he equally rare,Do they -want a supply of cold hearts for that station,Heaven knows we have plenty on earth we could spare.What was he to say with respect to the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson)? He had actually given a day over to the Irish people, and no doubt he thought he would be requited for his generosity; but he (Major O'Gorman) could assure the hon. Baronet that he could never expect any gratitude from the Irish people— never! They could not be grateful. They were not educated for it. They never got anything they demanded, and he asked, therefore, how could they be grateful? They asked for Home Rule —refused. They asked for the borough franchise—refused. They asked for the municipal franchise — refused. They asked that fair compensation should be paid to occupying tenants—refused. He was not at all certain even that they would be allowed to have their letters delivered in Waterford on the same day, when they arrived before 3 o'clock— at present they were detained until 9 next morning. He believed it was perfectly impossible for them to be grateful, and therefore the hon. Baronet had thrown away his day. When he went home in the evening of the day which he lent to Irish Members, he must have 1459 felt something like the Emperor Titus, and said—"I have lost a day." He would strongly recommend to the hon. Baronet, particularly when he had to do with the Irish people, the advice which Polonius gave to his son Laertes—Neither a borrower nor a lender be,For loan oft loses both itself and friend,And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.Now, the Bill he would introduce on this subject would be really a good Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] Whether those cheers were ironical or not did not matter; but his principal evidence was the hon. Baronet himself, who had quoted a speech delivered by him (Major O' Gorman) on the 5th of May, 1875, very much to his surprise, for he did not know that he was an authority upon anything. It had been more than insinuated that he had been in favour of drinking in Ireland by the people. There was never anything so utterly contrary to the truth, for no man in that House was more desirous of seeing every man in Ireland thoroughly sober. He would prove that by the speech which he had delivered on the 5th of May, 1875. In that speech he said—If you close public-houses on Sunday in Ireland you will clearly establish illegal sale of Spirits, and most likely its illicit distillation.There could not be a doubt that the people would get drink.The consequence will be that the police will be perpetually employed in the detection of that which was not crime before. The Petty Sessions Courts will be crowded every week or every fortnight with defendants losing their valuable time, and the whole land will swarm with Corydons and Talbots, who will first induce the people to violate the law, and then inform against them, to the great delight of the backstairs of Dublin Castle. I think that that consideration alone ought to put an end to this Bill this day. But I can give you reasons stronger. I look upon this Bill as a puling, miserable thing, a particular thing; nothing universal about it; nothing holic—I dare not, I suppose, say Catholic—about it; an emasculated, mile and a-half sort of thing. If we had a statesman who would do the right thing because it was right — if we had a statesman who would do the virtuous thing because it was virtuous, and not because it might affect prejudicially the pocket of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—if we had an old Irish Brehon sage here, how would he proceed P He would approach the question somewhat in this fashion. He would say—'This whiskey is the destruction of my people. It ruins their health. It deprives them of their reason. It lowers them in the scale of creation even lower than the brutes 1460 in the field. It is manufactured of that which should provide food, not poison, for my people. Let it end. Sunday and Monday alike. Let it never appear in our sacred island again. Go, my officers, to the bonding warehouses, drag out the puncheons, the pipes, and the hogsheads of this poison; swill the streets of my cities with it; and as the very dogs lap it up and fall prostrate under its influence, let Irishmen learn what a foreign nation has provided for their destruction.'"—[3 Hansard, ccxxiv. 114–15.]There was something statesmanlike in that speech. [Laughter.] There was positively, although he said it—and he did not claim to be a statesman. The Bill before the House was a miserable 60 minutes' sort of thing, and discussion was carried on from 1 o'clock until nearly 4, as to what Irishmen should drink from 7 to 8, from 7 to 9, or till 10 o'clock. That was a miserable thing to be introduced by anyone having the smallest pretensions to be not merely a statesman, but even a Member of Parliament. It must be acknowledged that there were a great many Members of Parliament who were not statesmen, himself among the number. Referring to his speech of 1875, it continued thus—Here would be lawgiving; here would be impossible drinking Sunday or Monday; here would be wisdom; here no class legislation could show its detested face; here would be Lycurgan severity, but Lycurgan severity, Sir, chained to Lycurgan justice. Here all would stand equal in the presence of respected, not despised laws." —[Ibid., 115.]What he had indicated in that speech would be a proper Bill to bring in for Ireland. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) had some weeks ago talked about the Maine Liquor Law. In that State the sale of liquor was utterly stopped, but they had to open the houses again. They found it would not do, that people would not submit to it. Here was an extract from an American paper, which would be useful reading to some hon. Members. It was from the special correspondent of The Boston (Massachusetts) Post—In the year 1873 there were in Maine, whoso population was only 629,915 at the last Census, 17,818 arrests for drunkenness, more than for all other crimes put together. And yet there are some who persist in saying King Alcohol does not reign in Maine. I wish it did not; but I assure you if some night you could hang out a red flag at the door of every rum shop in Maine, the people would wake up in the morning and think the small-pox had broken out all over the State. Facts show that the prohibitory law has been a failure, worse than that, a curse. That it has rendered the means of drunkenness more 1461 costly, it is true; that in some instances it has added somewhat to the difficulty of obtaining liquor may he admitted; that in some places it has lessened the number of places of sale may be; that it has also tended somewhat to influence public opinion. All this may be true, still facts show that the prohibitory law has not lessened the evils of intemperance, but has increased it by producing other and collateral evils. It has driven young men to the formation of clubs, and the establishment of club-houses, causing an excess in drunkenness and ruin. It has more extensively introduced the rum-jug into the family circle. More than ever do men buy liquor now in kegs and demijohns, and keep it and drink it in their homes in the presence of their children; and while the law has made liquor more costly in price, it has made it also more poisonous in quality. And old and reliable physicians throughout the State now report a four-fold increase of cases of delirium tremens. To-day a man with four inches of Maine whiskey in him is not less dangerous than a wild beast.It would be precisely the same in Ireland if this Bill were passed, which he hoped it would not. He wished to refer to the harassing nature of such legislation. They were told by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth) that there was no harshness in Sunday closing, inasmuch as people could on Saturday provide themselves with any quantity of liquor for the Sunday. Now, if this Bill passed, it would be impossible for the people to get either liquor or provisions, and in consequence of the late hour at which they left off work, they could not get those things on the other five days of the week unless they absented themselves from their labour. He (Major O'Gorman) was utterly opposed to it; no Petition had been presented in favour of it, and it had come upon the House entirely by surprise, no one being aware of it. The county Tyrone, perhaps, ought to be excepted. That seemed to be an atrocious county, for the hon. Member who represented it (Mr. Macartney) said the gaols were full of people who were arrested for drunkenness, and as only 1 in every 100 was arrested, it might be suggested that all the rest of the population must be drunk too. They were a very peculiar people in the county of Tyrone. They drank there by hands. They were not at all pleasant fellows, if the hon. Member was to be -credited; and they only became agreeable when they had consumed three hands—every hand consisting of five tumblers of punch. The hon. and learned Member for Louth had publicly stated that Mr. Dwyer, the secretary for 1462 the Publicans' Association, said before the Committee that he was in favour of the closing of public-houses on Saturday—[Mr. SULLIVAN: I did not say so; I read the exact terms of his answer.] He was obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for correcting him. The hon. and learned Gentleman read the evidence of that witness; well, he would read it too. The hon. and learned Member for Louth put the following question:—Do you think it would have a very good effect upon the order and sobriety and general morality of the City to close earlier on Saturday—do you agree with all the other witnesses who said that it would?The answer was—To a certain extent I would agree with them; but with this very great difference, that I do not see how such a thing could be done; I believe that the essential element of all these things is that the law should he not only administered impartially so far as that is possible in Ireland, because it is scarcely possible to administer the law quite impartially in Ireland; and that these persons whom we call the better classes should submit to the law. I think that there is very great difference between (to a certain extent) the upper classes evading the law and actually passing a law, and stereotyping the thing by passing one law for the poor and another for the rich, which you would if you close the public-houses earlier on Saturday evening, for surely you are not going to send the whole population of Dublin to bed at 8 or 9 o'clock on Saturday evening, and shut up the the theatres.But the Bill was not for the better classes, it was for the poor, who were not consulted. Why, hon. Members knew there were a great many things besides liquor that people wanted after the theatre. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) would tell them that there were crabs and lobsters to be got, and there was no hour in the day when people were so pleasant as after the theatre. The next question put was—When you speak of the upper classes not obeying the law for early closing on Saturdays, do you mean the upper classes of publicans?That was a very cunning question. But the old man was not to be taken in that way. He answered, "Certainly not." The next question was—How could people who are not publicans and in the upper classes be called upon to close the public-houses. I am talking of closing public-houses on a Saturday, and you speak of the upper classes not closing their houses?1463 The answer was—I do not say not closing their houses, but not being satisfied with having the licensed houses they use closed.Another question was—Then if the hon. Member for Dublin brings in a Bill for closing the public-houses three or four hours earlier on Saturday, do you think that he will have the support of your trade?The answer was—No; for this reason, if you will allow me, he will not have any of our support. We are perfectly convinced that if you pass a law to close the public-houses on Saturday evenings you would merely transfer the trade from one place to another" (a she been, no doubt). "We do not believe it possible that you could by any law, or any administration of the law, no matter if there was a Committee of the House of Commons who sat here permanently to enforce it, stop people from drinking, or could change the habits of a whole population in a short time.Further on he was asked—About what hour in the evening, according to what you call the habits of the people of Dublin, are the public-houses required for the purposes of counter refreshment by the bulk of the people on Saturday night?The reply was—According to the present habits of all classes of the people, high and low, the present hours are the right hours. I do not say that there may not be any improvement hereafter, and that we may not hope for better things.He (Major O'Gorman) asked any hon. Member if that evidence did not contradict the evidence that had been brought forward by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Sullivan) and he would like to know with what face such a Bill could be brought forward? He had no objection to the House being hoodwinked; but it was very hard to do it. He must record his decided objection to the Bill. It would, if passed, trample upon the rights of the people of Ireland. They would not dare to carry such a Bill for England. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial Benches.] No; the English Tories had some gratitude, if Irishmen had not. He saw some Tories opposite. They understood all about the publicans and the parsons. The publicans and parsons placed hon. Members opposite in the position they now filled, and they had not forgotten that, for what did they do? As soon as they got into power they showed their gratitude to the publicans by extending the hours of closing in London and all over the country to half-past 12 instead 1464 of 12 o'clock, as hitherto. [An hon. MEMBER: In London only.] Well, there were 5,000,000 of people in London. Hon. Members knew perfectly well that they could not pass such a Bill as that for England, although there was considerable dread on the part of the publicans of England that something of the sort would be attempted. It was a Bill trenching upon the liberties of the people; it would deprive the people of an indulgence which at present they accepted in a very proper and sober manner. It was not true that the Irish people in country districts were addicted to drunkenness, and he never knew people so sober as they were in his own neighbourhood. He had seen the two public-houses in the village near which he lived filled, but he never saw a drunken man there—never. He did not pretend to say that they were all in the same state as the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who drank like a fish, for the hon. Member never drank anything but water. The people drank something stronger, and to deprive them of it would be the greatest piece of cruelty that could possibly be imagined. He hope the House would reject the Bill. If it was carried, it would be a great calamity, and a slur on a people who knew how to use their privileges.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he need not detain the House at any length, and would only refer to those clauses of the Bill relating to the closing of public-houses on Saturday evening. The clauses dealing with the supervision of refreshment houses and extension of pealties upon the sale of intoxicating liquor without a proper licence had been recommended by the Select Committee on the Sunday Closing Bill. These would have been necessary in the event of the total closing of public-houses on Sunday; but he did not think they would be equally necessary in the event of the shortening of hours of opening on Saturday. At any rate, a discussion upon them might be very well postponed, until it was decided whether the public-houses should be closed earlier on Saturday evening or not. He would be bound to admit that the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), in moving the second reading, very fairly said that he did not attach paramount importance to the hour of closing which he himself named in the Bill. He understood the 1465 principle of the Bill was this—that the hours during which public-houses were open on Saturdays should be shortened, and that the hour of 7 o'clock, or any other hour the House preferred, should be adopted in lieu of the present hour. Therefore, it was unnecessary to dwell on the hours the hon. and learned Member had selected, further than to say that he agreed that it would be impossible to close public-houses in large towns on Saturday at 7 o'clock with any regard to the convenience of the people. That, however, would not affect the desirability of some curtailment of the hours, and the acceptance of the general principle of the hon. and learned Member for Louth, supported as it was by a large body of the evidence taken before the Select Committee on Sunday closing. He found evidence given before the Committee in favour of shortening the hours from officers of police, from magistrates, from the Recorder of the City of Dublin, and from witnesses of almost every class in Ireland; but great, no doubt, as the importance of that evidence was, it did not afford sufficient grounds for agreeing at present to the second reading of the Bill. It must be remembered that the evidence was only given incidentally in regard to the closing of public-houses on Saturday, the real question being the closing of public-houses on Sunday. It must be remembered, also, that the subject had not yet been fairly brought under the consideration of the people of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Louth and his supporters approached the question from a narrow and, in his opinion, mistaken point of view. They argued that drunkenness was a great evil; that public-houses were the cause; and that if they were closed, or the hours of their being opened shortened, the evil would cease. The proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Louth was mainly based on that argument. It was not a Bill for closing public-houses altogether, but for closing them during those hours in the week when it was proved by statistics, and by the evidence of magistrates and the police, that the greatest amount of drunkenness existed, and when the people were most able to resort to them. Now, he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was bound to say that he looked at this question, and on all proposals dealing with the licensing laws, 1466 mainly with regard to the habits and the convenience of the people of Ireland, for he believed that in a matter of this kind whatever law Parliament might enact could not be carried into effect, unless it was in accordance with the habits and feelings and convenience of the people. Therefore it was necessary, that the utmost publicity should be given to proposals on the subject, in order to ascertain the view the people might take of those proposals before passing them into law. It appeared from the evidence taken before the Committee that, especially in Dublin on a Saturday evening, owing to the payment of wages and the shops being open to a later hour than usual, the people who went to market or pursued their various avocations on these occasions, required refreshment on that evening perhaps at later hours than on other evenings. That being so, the House ought to know what these people whose liberty it was proposed to curtail, thought, of the proposal before them before they proceeded to pass it into law. He was not aware that any suggestion of the kind had been made in Parliament for some years. When the licensing question was last settled in 1874, no Amendment was proposed in favour of shortening the hours on Saturday, although the hon. Member for Derry (Mr. P. Smyth) raised the question of closing on Sunday; and although Sunday closing had been thoroughly canvassed in Ireland for the last three years, he did not think the question of shortening the hours on Saturday had been placed before the people at all.
§ MR. RICHARD SMYTH
begged to correct this statement. He did not in 1874 raise the question of Sunday closing in reference to that Bill; but he did raise the question of shortening the hours on Sunday.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
That practically confirmed his argument. Then the question they had to consider—whatever might be their opinion as to the shortening of hours on a Saturday—was, whether on that occasion they should sanction the principle of that Bill. Now, he had listened carefully to the debate, and he did not think, from a single hon. Member he had heard any very great desire expressed that the Bill should become law during the present Session; and from several hon. Members he had heard the 1467 statement that, while they approved generally the principle of shortening the hours on Saturday, they thought nothing could be done during the present year, and, therefore, they did not think it desirable that the Bill should be pressed beyond a second reading. His own feeling was, that no useful purpose would be served by proceeding further with the Bill at present. He did not think the question ripe at that moment for legislation. He thought there was much to be said in favour of shortening the hours on Saturday night, and the discussion showed a general feeling that the question was very much mixed up with that of closing on Sunday. The hon. and learned Member for Louth himself must agree in this, because the supporters of the Sunday Closing Bill always argued that it would not inconvenience the people, because they could get what liquor they wanted on Saturday. But if you shortened the hours on Saturday, you might affect very much this argument in favour of Sunday closing. It had been suggested that it would be very desirable the Government should deal with this subject. Well, he did not think it necessary because a certain Resolution had been adopted by the House of Commons on any particular subject, that, therefore, the Government should take that question out of the hands of all other Members, and propose legislation upon it. But he was ready to admit that the initiation of legislation upon the licensing system had been generally, though not always, in the hands of the Government. He did not like, with respect to any subject, to promise legislation for future Sessions. He thought there were material objections to such a course, because it was desirable before making promises, to be pretty certain of being able to fulfil them; and the experience of that Session afforded an additional warning against promises of the kind. But he would undertake to consider the matter together with the subject of Sunday closing during the Recess, and to bring it before his Colleagues, dealing with the question as a whole; and in giving that undertaking he wished it to be understood that he thought the question must be treated as it were de novo— that it would be necessary not only to bear in mind its past history as well outside as within that House, but also, 1468 that it could hardly be settled without something in the nature of a compromise, for there had been unquestionably signs of a considerable change of opinion in Ireland on the question of Sunday closing during the past year. With regard to the Bill now before the House, he thought that although it was one of which the principle should be carefully considered, yet the time was not ripe for that House to assent to it; and he trusted, therefore, that under the circumstances, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Louth would not press the measure to a second reading, but would be content with the lengthy discussion which had resulted from his Motion.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH
said, the statement of the right hon. Baronet would, be received with satisfaction in Ireland. As he (Mr. Smyth) was one of the opponents of Sunday closing referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Cork, he wished to state he was equally opposed to Saturday closing. The manner in which the Bill had been brought before the House ought, in his opinion, to condemn it for this Session at least. That was not the way in which legislation affecting great interests and important classes ought to be conducted. In considering the Bill, the point to be determined was not whether there was more drunkenness on a Saturday evening than on a Friday evening, but whether the cities and towns of Ireland presented on Saturday evenings scenes of drunkenness, tumult, and disorder unparalleled in the cities and towns of other portions of the Empire. If that point were determined in the affirmative, there was a primâ facie case for exceptional legislation; but, if otherwise, the Bill was an insult to the Irish people. He could speak for the City of Dublin, and he affirmed that life and property were as secure there on Saturday nights, and all other nights, as in any city in the world. He condemned this measure as affixing a stigma on an entire nation, and he would oppose it at every stage.
said, he had heard with great astonishment and regret the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland. As far as any expressions of opinion had hitherto emanated from him, they had all been in favour of shortening the hours on Saturday. If he had accepted its prin- 1469 ciple, he (Mr. Sullivan) should have been perfectly willing to allow the right hon. Gentleman to mould the Bill in his own way. Hardly any speeches had gone further in opposition to the second reading than that he ought not to try to proceed further in the present Session. But now the Chief Secretary for Ireland had gone much further, and, to his sorrow, he recognized the Government in their true light. They were evidently opposed both to Sunday closing and to shortening the hours on Saturday, and that being the case, he felt it his duty to press the second reading. He did not expect to have been treated—indeed, he had reason to expect that he would not be treated—as he had been by the Government. Taken, as he was, completely by surprise, he must press his Motion to a division, although he was convinced and was quite aware of the result of the division—although it might, it would be impossible, under the circumstances, for him to proceed further with the Bill now before them during the short remainder of the present Session.
§ MR. BUTT
said, that he must resist the second reading of the Bill; for he thought that when they came to its consideration next Session, they ought not to be bound by any previous assent to its principle. How, he might ask, could they separate this question from that of Sunday closing? If they accepted Sunday closing, they must modify the hours of closing on Saturday; therefore, he said that the two questions must be considered together. He objected to a Bill of the kind being introduced for Ireland alone. Moreover, it had not been brought in deliberately. It was an afterthought, and had been founded on scraps of evidence given for another purpose. That was not the way to legislate. The present Bill, he must add, was brought before the House in a way to which they ought not to lend the slightest encouragement. It had been brought in as a dummy Bill early in February, and had remained until recently in that state, contrary to the ancient and good practice of the House, to which he must say that he thought it would be well to resort. If he was anxious to adopt the principle of early closing on Saturday, he should not, with the information at present before them, know how to fix the hours of closing for any town in Ireland. They must 1470 have further inquiry and evidence. Therefore with great reluctance he said the Chief Secretary for Ireland had done right in not committing himself to any Bill; but he had promised to give the matter the fullest consideration, and perhaps next Session the Government would be able to propose some legislation which would check drunkenness, and at the same time avoid putting the people of Ireland to unnecessary inconvenience and insult.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he thought that the House ought to take time to consider the Bill, which, as his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butt) had said, was an afterthought. Although the hon. and learned Member for Louth was technically in Order in pursuing the course he had, yet the Bill was evidently brought in en revanche as a matter of retaliation upon those hon. Members who had opposed the Sunday Closing Bill. It appeared to him to be a crude attempt to force down the throats of hon. Members a principle which would be found to be utterly impracticable. However favourably disposed he was to shortening the hours of labour and of early closing on Saturday night, he could not approve of the Bill without evidence that it was in accordance with the habits and contributed to the convenience of the people. Moreover, he had no evidence of its practicability. In the evidence given before the two Committees which sat in 1868, reasons were given why, in certain localities, restriction of time might be advantageous, yet there was abundant evidence to show that this rule should not be of universal application. It was monstrous to suppose that the hard-and-fast line of closing public-houses at 7 o'clock should be adopted. The hon. and learned Member for Louth in 1874 and 1875, brought in Bills with exactly the same title, and the names at the back of those Bills were those which now appeared at the back of the present Bill; but the latter Bill was totally different in principle and detail from the former. The Bill of 1875 repealed every restriction on the sale of liquor by everybody; but this Bill, although introduced in February, was not printed till last Thursday, and then hon. Members found to their surprise that it was a Bill to close at 7 o'clock all the public-houses in Ireland. He objected to that sort of hey presto—jack-in-the- 1471 box legislation. Last night he (Mr. Murphy) received a communication from his constituents to oppose the Bill in every possible way he could. This Bill was brought in late in the Session, without the slightest possibility of its passing, and evidently for no other object than to enable its promoters to say to the advocates of the Sunday Closing Bill—"We have been beaten on that measure, but on the Saturday Bill we shall go off in a blaze of fireworks." In the Committee to which he referred, Captain Talbot said public opinion was decidedly against closing public-houses before 11 o'clock on Saturday night. Inspector Corr expressed the same opinion. Their evidence was to be had in the Blue Books. But quite apart from any evidence on the subject, it was utterly idle to expect that at that late period of the Session the House would be disposed to adopt the second reading of such a Bill as this, introduced as he might say without Notice, and involving in its issues an undoubted source of inconvenience and injustice. If the subject was to be discussed by the Legislature and the outside public, let it be done with due deliberation. For his part, he did not deem it necessary to take up the time of the House by any further expression of his views, but would leave it to their good sense and judgment to deal with it on the division.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for three months.