§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that he did not intend to commend the 1209 spirits of one country more than that of another, neither did he intend drawing any invidious distinction between one make of spirits and the other. He would merely try to improve all spirits, treat the all on the same ground, and then let each stand on its own merits. This was not a question of trade in any sense of the term, as the trade was not financially interested either in the defeat or the success of the measure now before the House; but, from a humane and morale point of view, he believed that the fair traders throughout these Kingdoms would view with satisfaction the passing of such a Bill, as they were well aware of the injurious effects of whisky of all kinds whom used in its new and unmatured state. It was not the maker of spirits, nor the dealer in spirits, or the retailer of spirits, who would reap any benefit by the passing of the Bill; but, simply and solely, the consumers of spirits in all parts of these Kingdoms, and more particularly the very poor portion of the consumers, as the wealthy consumers took care they got what was well matured. He would endeavour to show, from several eminent authorities, the injurious effects of new spirits both on the health and sanity of the consumer, and he would Then expect the passing of the second reading of the Bill without a Division. He would, in particular, ask the support of his temperance Friends in the House for the Bill, for he believed that their wish was to prevent the manufacture of spirits of all kinds. That they could never expect to accomplish in that enlightened age of liberty; but whom they-could not do that, they should try to make the article as pure and as harmless as possibly could he done. He would impress upon the House the fact that it was fusil oil which caused the greater part of the ill effects of drinking whisky. If mixed with tea, it would produce the same effect, so that the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had only to pour fusil oil into his tea in order to produce the same effect as if he had taken whisky. He might be met by the Government, who might say it would be an inconvenience to rectifiers if the Bill were passed. In answer to that, he would admit it might cause some inconvenience to rectifiers; but they were a very small class, and their objections could be 1210 easily met by allowing the to rectify in bond under the supervision of the Excise. He believed if the Bill passed into law, as he hoped it would, it would do more for real temperance and moderation than all the Temperance Bills brought before the House during the present Parliament. He did not expect the House would be led into voting one way or the other by his opinion on the subject; but he would be able to quote for the House the opinions of some of the ablest analysts and Professors of the present day in favour of the Bill, which, he trusted, would prove to the House the necessity there was for such a measure. He might further add that he believed such a step as he was about to propose had been recommended by the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intemperance. In giving his authorities in support of his Bill, he would first give the opinion of analysts and Professors, as he thought that the most important evidence to rely on. Professor Estcourt, whom writing his Report to the Corporation of Manchester, in July, 1877, on the subject of food sold in the City of Manchester, on the subject of whisky, wrote as follows:—In Manchester the whisky was found to be genuine, in the sense that it contained no added impurities. I, However, found that it contained, as in all other towns, a large proportion of new, raw grained spirit. This crude spirit is, no doubt, largely responsible for the evil effects so strongly pourtrayed by recent speakers upon drunkenness. I would call your attention to the fact that the remedy for this state of things is in the hands of the general public. An Act compelling distillers to keep all spirits in bond for at least one year would at once care the evil so far as the quality of the spirit is concerned.Then he went on to condemn the practice of blending, with which lie (Mr. O'Sullivan) would not trouble the House, as it was outside the scope of the Bill, and he added—The distillers, on their part, fear to move in the matter, lest the privilege they at present enjoy of turning the burning, poisonous, raw spirit (not more in some cases than a week old) into the market should be taken from the.On that point, he must differ from the writer, as he was aware, as a fact, that the very large majority of the respectable distillers, both in Ireland and in Scotland, were in favour of the Bill. He Then continued—In this state of things, these who take a prominent part in the prevention of drunken- 1211 ness, frequently caused by the fiery quality of the spirit rather than the quantity taken, have here presented to the something tangible to work for. An Act compelling distillers to held spirits in bond at least one year after they are manufactured, would be a most important step in the right direction.He Then wound up—In a country whore so many millions are annually spent upon ardent spirits, it is advisable that the article sold should be rendered as little poisonous as possible.He would now read an extract from a letter which he received from Professor Cameron, of Dublin, on the 23rd of this month—15, Pembroke Road, Dublin, 21st June, 1879.My DEAR SIR—Many thanks for the copy of the Bill relating to the storing of whisky in bond. I hope it may become law. The popular notion that whisky is largely adulterated with bluestone, oil of vitriol, and other articles is wholly unfounded. Last year I made several examinations of whisky taken from all parts of Ireland by the Constabulary, and only found one sample adulterated. Most of the specimens were, However, far too new and fiery to be fit for use. They contain fusil oil in large excess. Such whisky must prove injurious whom drank even in not very large quantities. Should your Bill become law, the sale of such whisky as that will no longer be permitted, and great good will result there from. The ill-effects produced upon the body and mind of man by fusil oil can hardly be exaggerated. The Government should have power to disallow whisky to be used before being a year old.—Yours, my dear SIR, very truly
§ CHARLES A. CAMERON.
W. H. O'Sullivan, Esq., M.P.
He would also refer the House to the same gentleman's evidence given before a Select Committee of the House in 1874, on the Adulteration of Food and Drugs Act, which showed that the Professor was in favour of such a movement as the one under notice at that time. J. Emerson Reynolds, M.D., Professor of Chemistry, Trinity College, Dublin, said—
I have always attached great importance to the practical freedom of whisky from fusil oil, as the latter is an organic mixture, which exerts a distinct poisonous action on the animal organism, and I am well aware that now whisky too often contains this noxious body in considerable quantities,
Professor Burrell, of Rotterdam, writing to him (Mr. O'Sullivan), said—
I have for a long time occupied myself with the hope of checking the evils arising from the consumption of newly-made spirits, and have thus become acquainted with many others who have great weight and authority on such matters. The starting point is that alcohol
purified from its fusil oil is perfectly harmless; but, on the contrary, it is rank poison when taken in its newly-made state. I am ready to prove that the matter extracted from it by a simple mechanical process will, if added to tea or coffee, produce every symptom of drunkenness, madness, delirium tremens, and even death.
In France, he would state that, according to Mr. Jarell, out of 15,866 cases of madness, 3,445 arose from drinking new-made spirits. Having given the House the opinions of the different Professors and analysts in favour of his Bill, he would now give the opinion of the Press on the subject; but, before quoting from the Press in favour of the Bill, he would show them, by reading a short extract from a report in the Freeman's Journal, of the evil effects of this new-made spirit on the consumers. At Magherafelt Quarter Sessions, in January, 1870, the Bo'ness Distillery Company of Scotland sued one John Magee for the price of a cask of spirits supplied to him, and for which he refused to pay on account of the badness of its quality. The defendant proved that he opened the cask the day he got it, and gave about a glass and a-half to a boy named Bradley. Immediately after drinking it, Bradley leaped clean off the ground, and Then threw himself down with his mouth and nose against the ground. Whom lying on the ground, he attempted to eat the flesh of his arms. Four men had to held him to prevent him injuring himself. Ultimately, he got an emetic which relieved him. When he recovered, he had no remembrance whatever of what occurred. The defendant took a sample of the whisky to Dr. Hedges, Belfast, to be analysed, whom he received the following certificate:—
I certify that the whisky placed in my hands by John Magee is contaminated by the presence of a large amount of fusil oil.
He could bring many more cases like this; but he did not wish to take up the time of the House. The first extract he would read from was The Sanitary Record, which must be looked on as an authority on such a subject. It said on the 2nd of March—
An analysis and report of spirits purchased as Irish whisky in the Whitechapel district. Eleven samples purchased at so many different houses, largely patronized by workmen about the docks, labourers out of employment, and dwellers in the houses about the river. The general result of analysis is that they are deficient in genuine proof spirit, yet they are
more fiery and biting than genuine Irish whisky, We met two old acquaintances, fusil oil and silent spirit, so well known from the blending process alloyed in the stores of Her Majesty's Customs.
He would next refer to a leader in The Irish Times, which went to show that the Bill was a step in the right direction. He would lastly quote from an article in The Hornet, which wrote—
It is a fable to say that publicans in London use vitrol or turpentine; but they corrode the throats and stomachs of their customers quite as surely by using raw new spirits, which, like Cape brandy, eats the mucous membrane as nitric acid eats a copper plate. In the first place, they buy German spirit, which is made from all sorts of things, wood included, which can be purchased in London at ls. the proof gallon. They Then improve the poison with prime wine, honey, pine, &c., and sell it as whisky. More of the save themselves the trouble by getting so-called Irish whisky at 2s. 6d. per gallon from Belfast. Such spirit whom new is rank poison.
He could quote from several other papers recommending the terms of the Bill; but he trusted he had shown sufficient proof that such a measure was badly required. His Bill did not prevent the sale and re-sale of spirits in bond of any and every age; but it prevented spirit being sent into consumption at a time whom it was unfit for human use. The present system of allowing an article into consumption, containing a certain amount of injurious ingredients, must entail a very serious responsibility on the Government, should they refuse to check such a practice whom the remedy was in their own hands. It was no exaggeration to say that at least two-thirds of the drunkenness of the country arose from the use of inferior new spirits made from rice, molasses, damaged Indian corn, and potatoes. The Bill really offered a premium to make a good article, because the bad article, if retained in bond for 12 months, would become useless; whereas sound and fairly-made whisky would improve and increase in value. It would be to the interest of the trade to support the Bill, and he confidently asked the House to read it a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, " That the B111 be now read a second time."—(Mr. 0' Sullivan.)
§ MR. KAVANAGH
said, that if the proposal to read the Bill a second time 1214 had required a seconding, he should have been very happy to fulfil that duty towards it; because, as far as he understood the question, he believed the measure would forward the object that he had in view in supporting the Sunday Closing Bill. He did not propose to occupy the time of the House at any great length, because, as he said, he did not understand the question as thoroughly as he ought— and, indeed, he owed the House an apology for venturing to trespass on their time on a subject with which he was not as fully acquainted as he should be. Although the Bill was a very short one, containing only three clauses, yet the question was, on the whole, a largo one. It involved two sets of interests. In the first place, it involved directly the interest of the distiller of spirits, and the importer of the. He need not touch upon that interest, because the distillers and the gentlemen engaged in the trade of importing spirits were quite capable of taking care of themselves. If they had apprehended any bad results to themselves from the passing of the Bill, it would not have been allowed to reach its present stage without an Amendment for its rejection being put down on the Paper. Therefore, he assumed from that fact that there was no objection raised to the Bill by the traders or distillers. The only interest, Then, upon which he would touch was what he might call the interest of the consumer; and, considering it from that point of view, they were immediately brought face to face with the grave and important question of intemperance. Nobody would deny the importance which that question was to England, Ireland, and Scotland. Intemperance was one of the most costly crimes, if he might so call it, from which the country suffered. Their goals, their hospitals, and their workhouses were filled with the effects of drunkenness. Poverty, want, and crime were its inseparable companions; and if they could in any way, directly or indirectly, manage to abate the evil, the House should not grudge a little time for that purpose. So far as he understood the question, he must tender his thanks to the hon. Member who had brought forward the Bill. In what he was now going to say he did not wish to make any reflection upon his own countrymen; but it had often been to him a cause of great surprise 1215 why, in Ireland, intemperance should be so very frequently attended with deeds of violence. He had often wondered whether there was anything peculiarly constitutional in the poorer class of his countrymen who used whisky to drive the to commit deeds of violence. Nobody who had had experience in Ireland of largo fairs and other places, whore whisky was the chief thing consumed, but must know that drunkenness had the effect of driving the unfortunate victim mad. It had not that effect in other countries whore beer and porter were used; for, in these cases, the extreme stage of drunkenness was torpor and stupidity. But the effect of whisky drinking was the exact opposite. That pointed directly to the fact, either that in the lower classes who used whisky there was some constitutional peculiarity, or that the spirits themselves were bad. He need not say that there was no constitutional peculiarity, and, as a matter of fact, it must be that the spirits supplied were not as pure and as old as they should be. He had been told that the real cause of all this was that the spirits were adulterated with vitriol, and he did not know how many other horrible things. That might be so; but that view was not supported by the opinions which the hon. Member had read to the House. He did not think that adulteration was practised so largely as they were led to suppose. He believed the real cause was the newness of the spirits. At present, the spirit being sold almost immediately after it had been made, its evil nature could not be discovered; but if it were kept for one year in bond, it would become so bad and deteriorated as to be utterly unsaleable, and, therefore, in passing the Bill, they would make it the object of distillers to distil nothing but real and pure spirits. That, of itself, would be a great gain. But whom they knew that age divested spirits of a very great deal of this deleterious quality, there was an additional reason in favour of the Bill. He considered that these were quite reasons enough to warrant him in supporting the second reading of the Bill. He was not disposed to raise any objection to the Bill; he only feared that, by detaining all spirits in bond for 12 months, the effect of immediately passing it might be to raise the price of the article and thus offer a premium to adulteration. Therefore, some safeguard 1216 in that direction was necessary. Perhaps some objection might be taken to including all spirits in the Bill, and that might not be necessary; but the measure was deserving of support.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he was glad to find that the hon. Member who moved the second reading of the Bill (Mr. O'Sullivan) went so far along with him, that he professed a great anxiety to get rid of fusil oil. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was a co-worker with the hon. Gentleman, for he had done so himself in 1872. There was a clause in the Licensing Bill inflicting penalties on these who adulterated drink; a number of articles were specified, but he did not find fusil oil among the, and he tried to get it inserted, in consequence of representations Which had been made respecting the dreadful effects produced by its use. He applied to the Home Office, Then to the Local Government Board, and he was referred back to the Home Office, but without success. He hoped the hon. Member would be more successful in his crusade against it than he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had been. The hon. Member was inconsistent in one matter; for, whereas he had often talked in the House about the impossibility of making people sober by Act of Parliament, he was now engaged attempting that alleged impossibility, for, after all, this little Bill was an attempt in that direction. It was a philanthropic measure to prevent the use of fusil oil by Act of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman had, further, made copious reference to his temperance Friends. Now, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson; objected to be called "a temperance Friend," or to being specially identified with a "Temperance Party." He was not more in favour of temperance than the hon. Gentleman, and he did not profess to belong to the Temperance Party any more than the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse). The hon. and learned Member for Leeds believed, just as he did, that drunkenness was a great evil; but, while the hon. and learned Member was of opinion that the existing law checked drunkenness, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was deSirous of introducing certain alterations into it. He was anxious to know what the objections to the Bill were. He had asked the Secretary to the Treasury what he intended to do 1217 with regard to the Bill, and was only told that his hon. Friend intended to wait until he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) spoke. For his own part, he saw no harm in the Bill; but, like all other Bills, he thought it might be improved, and, with that view, might, perhaps, propose some little alterations in Committee. For instance, in the clause providing that spirits should be kept in bond one year, be might move to leave out " one," and insert "a hundred." If the alteration were made, Then indeed, there would be some chance of a good result. He thought the hon. Member was a little too sanguine in his hopes that the measure would cure drunkenness. He said if they could only get rid of the fusel oil the spirit would be harmless. He said if he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) put fusil oil in his tea lie should be made drunk. But if lie put alcohol into his tea, would not that also niche him drunk? He did not understand that fusil oil was found, at any rate, to any appreciable extent, either in beer or wine—[Mr. SULLIVAN: Yes.]— he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) did not think it existed to any great extent; and yet, from inquiries which had been made in Liverpool, it was shown that the greatest amount of drunkenness was caused by the consumption of beer. There was something more than fusil oil in spirits to make people drunk. The hon. Member lied for once hit the right nail on the head, whom he said there was not much in the outcry about adulteration of spirits. That was his (Sir Wilfrid Lawson's) own belief. It lied been very much his mission to defend the publicans of this country. He seldom made a speech without doing so. He said the publicans were among the best of men—if he did not say that, he should lie told—" Oh, you must get a new set of publicans, and that would cure the evil." On the other hand, he maintained that the publicans were selected for their high moral properties and carrying on their business according to law. He did not believe that they adulterated to any great extent. Indeed, they did not adulterate— they only diluted; they added a great deal of water, and the more the better. It was the alcohol, not the fusil oil, that was the real evil. SIR William Gull heel told the Lords, in the Committee on Intemperance, that alcohol was the most destructive agent in the country. Another 1218 great medical authority had told the that the greatest amount of disease, not among poor people only, but among the upper classes also, flowed from the moderate and daily consumption of alcohol. He would conclude with one observation. If the hon. Member who brought forward the Bill thought there was so much evil in fusil oil, why did lie and 10 or 11 of his Friends keep the House up for so many nights last Session, whom an effort was made to put down the sale of such mischievous stuff on Sunday all over Ireland? He had more hope of him now that he had joined the ranks of temperance reformers. The hon. Member had said, eloquently, that society, religion, and humanity called for the suppression of the sale of new spirit. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) agreed with him, and he said that society, religion, and humanity called for the suppression of the new and old spirit. He was not without hope that, after this favourable commencement of his career, his hon. Friend would, on the next occasion that a Bill was proposed for checking the sale and consumption not only of fusil oil, but also of alcohol, prove himself, instead of a staunch opponent, one of his heartiest supporters in his endeavour to promote one of the greatest reforms that could be introduced for the good of the people of this country.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
thought the measure was one which, so far as it went, would effect some good. He should not have thought it necessary to take any part in the debate had it not been that the observations of the hon. Member for Carlow County (Mr. Kavanagh) might give rise to an erroneous impression, both inside and outside the House, as to the sources of intemperance in the United Kingdom. He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) agreed with the hon. Baronet who had just spoken (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that the inordinate consumption of alcohol, in whatever form, was the great evil against which they had to contend. Taking the whole alcohol consumed as being represented by the figure 100, only 3 out of the 103 parts were consumed in wine, 26 to 28 per cent were consumed in the form of spirits, and 67 to 69 in the form of beer. The injurious effects of alcohol were in the ratio of the alcohol itself, wholly irrespective of the vehicle in which it was 1219 conveyed; and he was equally in favour of taxing alcohol according to its volume, whether in wine, spirits, or beer. Let alcohol, whether regarded as an enemy or a friend, be dealt with fairly and equally wherever found. With respect to Ireland and Scotland, whore the consumption of alcohol principally took place in the form of proof spirits, diluted more or less with water, lie ventured to say that the criminal statistics of these two countries, relatively to population, would compare favourably with the criminal statistics of England. The proportion consumed in Ireland was as 5 to 7 in Scotland, and between 11 and 12 in England, and yet the English paid less in taxes on the alcohol they consumed than did the Irish or the Scotch; and lie was in favour of abolishing the distinction in that respect. The Englishman had a climate ands was engaged in occupations which were favourable to indulgence in beer, and had the advantage of being able to get twice as much alcohol in that vehicle at about half the cost that the Irishman or Scotch-man paid for the beverage more suited to his climate.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he had hitherto, on many occasions, taken a different line to that adopted by his hon. Friend who introduced the Bill (Mr. O'Sullivan); but he was happy, in reference to the present Bill, to support his proposal. He agreed that the provisions of the Bill were very important, and lie believed that the carrying of it would go a long way towards diminishing drunkenness. He, as a magistrate, had seen the extraordinarily injurious effects of raw spirits. In his district the magistrate had often ordered the analysis of spirits from a belief that they must have been adulterated, in consequence of their extraordinary and maddening effect upon these who partook of the. But, in the great majority of cases, no adulteration was discovered, and the evil could only be traced to fusil oil. It was the duty of the Legislature to guard the public against the deleterious effects of fusil oil, as well as against the adulteration of whisky, for the consequences were as injurious as if they were produced by adulteration; and, therefore, it was equally the duty of the State to prevent the, if it were possible, by such a simple measure as keeping spirits in bond for a year. No one had yet 1220 opposed the Bill, and he hoped the Government would abstain from doing so, and that they would see their way to allowing the Bill to pass.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
said, he should not have risen, but that his name had been mentioned by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) under circumstances conveying something approaching, to a sneer on a subject upon which he (Mr. Wheelhouse) was probably as much interested as even the hon. Gentleman himself.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
rose to explain. He said he quite believed the hon. and learned Member for Leeds was a strong advocate of temperance, quite as much as anyone else. He did not sneer at him.
said, he was quite willing to accept that view, but could not help noticing the way in which the hon. Baronet had compared his own ideas with these which he (Mr. Wheelhouse) professed. While the hon. Baronet knew perfectly well that However necessary they might both consider temperance and moderation in most things, one of the went much further than the other on this particular point, the hon. Baronet practically declaring that there could he no moderation in reference to alcoholic drink at all. Therefore, it seemed unnecessary that he (Mr. Wheelhouse) should be challenged as being just as much an advocate of temperance as the hon. Baronet, and that his name should be placed in juxtaposition with the view the hon. Baronet took immediately afterwards. He made these remarks for this reason— he should really do injustice to himself and to his own feelings — he should do even a greater injustice to the feelings of a very largo majority of the people of this country— if he did not re-iterate at this moment a view about which, whatever might be thought of it either here or elsewhere, there could be no doubt— namely, that while a very large body of persons in that House and in the country generally felt that moderation in all things, whether in drink or in anything else, was the only line and rule permissible to human conduct, these people said as strongly and strenuously as anyone could that they disliked drunkenness in all its shapes and forms just as much as the hon. Baronet himself disliked it. But whom, because certain 1221 Gentlemen felt that alcohol in every form was objectionable, they were told that no intoxicating drink ought ever to be taken by anybody, he contended that was a doctrine which could not be accepted. Every man should exercise his own discretion, as long as he did no harm to anybody. With regard to the Bill before the House, he apprehended there could not be two opinions. Even supposing it did no good, it would be difficult to point out any harm it could do — none, so far even as the distiller himself was concerned. Distillers usually made so much spirit that they had an opportunity of keeping it such a length of time as to make a year's probation a matter of no consequence. If, by any accident, the Bill should damage the small manufacturers, of whom there were very few, that ought not to stand in the way of passing such a measure as this, the object of which was to get rid of matter that was admitted to be deleterious in raw spirits. The removal of that objectionable matter, by insuring spirits being kept in bond until they were mellow and ready for drinking, would do a great deal to stop drunkenness in its worst form— namely, that maddening effect of which mention had been made. There could, therefore, be no doubt that it was deSirable such a measure should pass. He understood it might be looked upon as a tentative operation, and if it were found not to answer its intention, it might be repealed, or, better still, amended so as to admit of exceptive treatment with spirits from abroad, if thought necessary or deSirable; bat, at any rate, if they passed it to-day— which lie was glad to feel was more than likely to be the case— they should have done something that was beneficial according to the opinion of these who best knew the effects upon the population of the practice of drinking raw spirit. They would soon know what good had been effected, and if they once set their minds to work upon questions of chemistry on these matters other beneficial measures might follow. He thought they might do very much indeed by taking away the deleterious material from home-made spirits; and he was one of these who believed that if it was possible it was their duty to remove from people who were in the habit of drinking spirits to any extent whatever the possibility of being mad- 1222 dened by that deleterious matter. He was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) call attention to the fact that in Ireland especially, in Scotland to a very considerable extent, and in England to some degree, they had a class drinking spirits, who very possibly could scarcely afford to drink anything else but spirits— he meant the poorer artizans of the other Kingdom especially. If they could do anything— he eared not how little—but if they could do anything at all to provide that what was taken by the wage class of the three countries should be less deleterious, he considered they were bound to take the necessary steps in order to insure that what they took was as good as it possibly could be. If they could make any improvement in any article of consumption, whether it was ardent spirits, or beef, or beer, or anything else, Then they ought to do so; but it would be unreasonable to say that the use of beer, or beef, or anything else ought to be abolished because the use was abused in some cases. Under the circumstances, he, for once, should be very happy indeed to find himself, not in the same Lobby—for lie understood there was to be no Division upon the measure--but following the same tone of thought, to this extent, as the hon. Member opposite (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and lie had great pleasure in supporting the Bill.
§ MR. MURPHY
said, he was glad to find that, not with standing the passage of aims between the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), an occasion had arisen on which these hon. Members, like brethren, "could dwell together in unity." The Bill was an exceedingly simple one in its nature, but if they could secure the object aimed at by it, it would prove to be of muck value; and although there might possibly some question arise as to the framing of it, he thought that could be easily settled whom they got into Committee. The object of the measure was a most desirable one. There could be no matter of question whatever that age, and age alone, was the thing which destroyed the fusil oil in spirits. It had been objected that if the Bill became law it would affect the supply of whisky in the United Kingdom for at least one 1223 year, and thus affect the Revenues of the country; but he thought it was well known that the stocks of whisky in the United Kingdom were much more than sufficient for one year's consumption, and, therefore, no inconvenience could possibly be felt from passing the measure. He did not think any serious objection could be taken to the measure, and hoped that Her Majesty's Government would, at all events, allow it to pass a second reading.
thought the Bill seemed to involve one rather important principle, and that was whether the Government were responsible for the quality of an article which was very largely consumed, and from which the Government itself derived a profit by taxation? The question arose— Did the Government undertaken any responsibility for the quality of an article which it taxed? The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) seemed to think that that question had been answered in the affirmative; but he (Mr. Bruen) (did not think that that was the case, and wished to guard himself against giving assent in any way to the proposition. It appeared to him that the position which the Government had taken, upon passing the Adulteration of Food Act, was that of preventing a fraud upon the purchaser by the trader, which was an entirely different matter. In this case there was no question of fraud, and it was important to consider how far the principle of improving the quality of an article should be carried by legislation. With regard to the Bill itself, he thought it was of a character which commended itself to the House, and he should, therefore, give it his support. The Government were only asked to do a very small thing—namely, that they should undertake the custody of spirits in bond for a certain time, and that was a thing he thought they might easily consent to do. He presumed there was no doubt that storage could be found for the quantity of spirits that would have to remain in bond; but the storage would increase the cost, and he wished to know who was to pay it, and whether it was likely to increase adulteration? He believed, However, that the latter was not a probable result, and that the improvement in the whisky would more than compensate for any additional cost to the consumer.
§ MR. WHITWELL
said, he should give the Bill his support, as the object of it was one in which he entirely concurred. He contended that fusil oil was a natural impurity, which might occasion as much harm as over-preserved meat, and that it was an evil to bed got rid of. He denied that the Bill was a small one, and pointed out that, if it passed a second reading, it would require very careful consideration in Committee. The debate had turned principally upon whisky; but the Bill dealt with all spirits, and it would not lie desirable that imported French brandy, perfectly matured, should remain in bond for 12 months, seeing that it was generally sold with a certificate of age. It would, therefore, be necessary in Committee to take care, on commercial grounds, that foreign spirits, properly purified and duly certificated, were not needlessly kept in bond. He hoped the Government would see their way to accept the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. YEAMAN
said, that in the great manufacturing towns of Scotland the effects of immature spirits had been frequently observed. It must have been proved to the satisfaction of the House that the poisonous ingredient in such whisky had a bad effect upon the people. The Government might have some objections to the Bill; but he did not think the want of storage could be properly urged as one of thee, because there were close on 40,000,000 gallons in store and in bond now, or a quantity about equal to three years' consumption. There was, therefore, no fear that the effect of the Bill would be the failure of spirits to meet the demand. The loss to the rectifiers could be avoided by allowing new spirits to go into the rectifying process at once, and thereafter to be kept in bond for one year, same as to whisky. He was satisfied that the measure could be licked into shape in Committee, and converted into a very good Bill. He would, therefore, vote for the second reading.
§ SIR HONRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he felt great pleasure in being able to congratulate the hon. Member for Limerick County (Mr. O'Sullivan) on having brought about a sort of Parliamentary Millennium, in which the hon of temperance had laid down with one whom he had always looked upon as the pet lamb of the publicans. It 1225 would certainly not be in accordance with his (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson's) own views and wishes if he was found there to-day as an absolute opponent of the Bill. He thought it would certainly not be the first time that he had stated in that House how completely crime depended upon the consumption of ardent spirits; and whilst expressing his own feeling in favour of any measure which might tend in any way to diminish that crime, or bring about a better state of things with regard to the quality of these liquors, he could not help pointing out to the House that there were sonic difficulties in the way of passing the Bill in its present shape. One hon. Member had told the that he looked upon the Bill with favour, because he said that they had legislated for adulteration; and, therefore, it was only fair that they should deal with what the hon. Gentleman called the adulteration of that particular article. He would ask the House to remembers what was the real history of the bonding of spirits. There was a duty upon spirits, and spirits were therefore bonded, in order to collect the Revenue from the. Hence the necessity for bonding-houses. But if the duty should be taken off spirits, the necessity for bonding-houses would cease to exist; and, therefore, if the Bill was passed, the Government would be passing a Bill by which they compelled the bonding of spirits for a certain time whom the real reason for bonding the might have ceased to exist. That seemed to him one of the difficulties which they had to encounter in this Bill. In other respects, he was ready to admit that the objects of the measure were sound; but still there were many difficulties in the way of it. They had been told that the Bill would practically stop a very large amount of importation of spirits. For instance, there was something like 35,000 gallons of spirits imported annually from Germany. He thought thee House ought to remember that, although a good deal of cheap spirits, no doubt, came in, which would, if kept in bond, by the effect of time be practically destroyed, by not being able to compete with the honest spirit made in this country, there was also a large amount of spirit which came from abroad, which was in no way entitled to such censure. In fact, he believed that the spirits which were imported from 1226 Germany were largely used for rectifying whom they came to this country, and that the spirits were kept a long time in Germany before they were sent here. Therefore, a large proportion of the 35,000 gallons which came from Germany was in no way to be classed with the bad spirits. A very large amount of it was kept a long time in Germany before it was sent to the market here; and he did not think it would be fair that such spirits should be forced to be kept in bond for the space of one year before it could be put in the market. No doubt, the Bill might affect the Revenue, because He supposed it would be necessary to increase the staff of officers; but he did not mention that as an objection to the measure. He thought, However, that its effect would undoubtedly be to throw on the foreign trader a certain amount of expense, inasmuch as his capital would be locked up for a year, and that expense must necessarily, sooner or later, conic out of the consumers' pocket. Before they closed the discussion on the second reading of the Bill, there were a good many other points which he should like to bring to the notice of the hon. Member for Limerick County (Mr. O'Sullivan). There was one especial point which really affected the trade. At the present moment a very large proportion of the 5,000,000 gallons of proof spirits now delivered direct from the distilleries and warehouses were above proof, and were used almost immediately by the rectifiers for the purpose of improving foreign brandies. If these spirits were to be kept for a year in bond, as they would have to be under the Bill, the rectifiers would be unable to use the at once, the strength by keeping would be reduced, and the rectifiers would have to use spirits of a strength they did not want. He merely wished to call the attention of hon. Members to that, because if the went into Committee, it would be necessary to amend it after consultation between the rectifiers and the Board of Inland Revenue. Another objection which he had to make to the Bill was this— He did not see why the Bill was merely to affect spirits containing 60 degrees of alcohol. He objected to the word "alcohol," and lie objected to 60 degrees, because he did not see why they should apply that limitation. There was another point in the Bill to which 1227 he wished to direct the attention of the House. As the measure was drawn, it was hardly clear that the bonding-warehouses belonging to private individuals, and not in any way licensed, but merely approved by the Inland Revenue, would come under the operation of the Bill, and if that were the case, the Bill would become practically a dead letter. These were the objections which seemed to strike him on the face of the measure; but if some alterations were made in the direction he had pointed out, lie should not, on behalf of the Government, oppose the second reading of the Bill, the object of which seemed to be the very laudable one of destroying the traffic in spirits of an injurious character. It would be a matter of congratulation if its adoption would ultimately remove the evils that were complained of, and which might tend to a diminution of drunkenness.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
briefly replied, expressing his willingness to amend the measure in Committee by exempting old spirits from the operation of the Bill. The reason for not going below 60 degrees of alcohol was, that there was a great deal of wine imported into this country which contained 40 degrees of alcohol, and he did not wish to interfere with wine. As to rectifiers being interfered with, he certainly thought that if they sent a bad spirit they ought to be interfered with. However, alterations could easily be made in the Bill in that respect whom they got into Committee, if the House thought fit, and also in the direction which had been pointed out by the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson).
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he was extremely sorry to hear the hon. Baronet's (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson's) observations, for he (Mr. Ramsay) thought it was his lack of acquaintance with the history of bonding spirits and the laws affecting distilleries that had caused him to make the concession he had done. The effect of the Bill on the makers of spirits would simply be to require the to provide warehouse accommodation for the total quantity manufactured for the next 12 months after the passing of the Bill. Did the hon. Gentleman know what that implied? The best of motives might have animated the hon. Member who introduced the Bill (Mr. O'Sullivan); 1228 but more than 25 years ago, whom he (Mr. Ramsay) was well acquainted with the details of the working of distilleries, he remembered capitalists among the distillers proposing that they should have a law of this kind enacted, and its being attributed to the that they did so for the purpose of monopolizing the trade. He was sorry the milk-and-water statement of the hon. Baronet should have been made to the House. The Government had justly complained of the waste of time in that House; but he (Mr. Ramsay) thought legislation on a matter of that kind, so completely within the control of the people themselves, was a waste of time and nothing else. He could not see why it should bed passed, especially as it had been admitted by the hon. Gentleman himself that its terms were objectionable in principle and in detail. After that, he hoped there would be no more complaint by the Government of waste of time.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.