§ Order for Second Beading read.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that it was drafted very much upon the lines of the Permissive Prohibitory Bill introduced by his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who, more than anyone else, had urged him to bring in this measure, and said that it was one after his own heart. It had been asked why he limited the Bill to Scotland? He did so for three reasons. First, because temperance legislation and public opinion were more advanced in that country than in England or Ireland. The second reason was, that in the Local Option Division, out of 60 Scottish Members 46 voted for and only 2 against it; and though out of those 46 some Members might attach a different meaning to what Local Option was, there could be no doubt of the fact that they voted for that Motion as it was framed and explained by the hon. Member for Carlisle. But, more than that, at least 11 Members voted for the Permissive Prohibitory Bill, of which this was merely a transcript. The Scottish Members who did vote for that Bill were the hon. and gallant Members for East Aberdeen-shire (Sir Alexander Gordon) and Kincardine (General Sir George Balfour), the hon. Members for Dumfries Burghs (Mr. Ernest Noel), Glasgow (Dr. Came- 1596 ron), Greenock (Mr. J. Stuart), the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), Inverness (Mr. Fraser Mackintosh), Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell), Leith Burghs (Mr. A. Grant), Orkney (Mr. Laing), and Wick Burghs (Mr. Pender). Therefore, he thought he was justified, having such good men and true at his back, to introduce a Bill which embodied the principle of Local Option. The third reason why he limited this Bill to Scotland was that his hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, in his address to his constituents some years ago, complained of the difference of opinion which prevailed amongst the temperance reformers, and called upon them to formulate their demands, because, he said, it was impossible for any Government to introduce a a measure unless they knew what these demands were. That, he thought, was very proper advice, and now the temperance party had formulated their demands. About two months ago a resolution was passed by the representatives of 17 temperance organizations that there should be a convention held in Edinburgh, and the meeting declared, amongst other resolutions, that any legislative measure for the sale of intoxicating liquors would not be satisfactory which did not confer on the ratepayers in parishes, burghs, and other districts the full power of controlling the drink traffic, and also the prohibiting of it where the majority should consider it meet. This was what the convention was agreed upon, and this was the principle of the Bill now before the House. They further declared that, while believing that all attempts satisfactorily to regulate the liquor traffic had failed, they were of opinion that any legislative measure which merely superseded the present Licensing Courts by Town Councils and County Boards would not be in accordance with the wishes of the community, and would fail to remedy the evils caused by the drink traffic. This, then, was what the temperance reformers in Scotland desired, and he might state that it need not excite any surprise if there should be opposition offered to any measure which did not contain the principles of these two declarations. Now, what did the Bill propose to do? It did not propose to abolish all licences directly and immediately on its passing. It was not a Licensing Bill; it was not to be called so; but what the Bill did propose 1597 was this—to give power to the majority of the ratepayers of any parish, burgh, or district to abolish all licences which they deemed meet. The Bill would be inoperative until that majority was obtained. In fact, it had been properly said—"Until the breath of life be breathed into the Bill by the people it remains a dead letter." He divided his remarks into four parts—(1) The necessity for the Bill, (2) the objects of it, (3) the principle, and (4) the machinery. He would first speak as to the necessity for the Bill. The measure had not met with much favour in the country. All sorts of depreciatory epithets had been applied to it. It had been called "dishonest." ["Hear, hear!"] It had been called "a huge joke" and "a great blunder," and it had been called "tyrrannical." ["Hear, hear!"] He found his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) agreed with these epithets. In the Preamble to the Bill it was stated—That the traffic in intoxicating liquors was the main cause of poverty, disease, and crime, depressed trade and commerce, increased local taxation, and danger to the safety and the welfare of the community.There were hon. Gentlemen who said it was not the traffic; it was the abuse of drink. It was the consumption. He was not going to quarrel with those hon. Members, and he would admit at once that the abuse and consumption of drink were the immediate causes; but they would admit that where the evils existed there was the traffic. It was idle to say that the traffic was not the cause of those drunken riots which they saw before the public-houses, or those quarrels between husbands and wives or starving children, of the diseases in the hospitals, of four-fifths, or nine-tenths, of the crime, and of seven-tenths of the pauperism of the country, when they saw those men and women attracted by the glare of the public-house, hovering about the door, and then darting into the house as a moth was drawn into a flame to its own destruction. In a publication called The Fruits of the Liquor Traffic, we found detailed some of the accidents and crimes due to the drink traffic that occurred in the last week of 1883 and the first week of 1884:—Twenty-five perilous accidents through drink, 13 robberies through drink, 5 cases of drunken insanity, 62 1598 drunken outrages and violent assaults, 20 drunken stabbings, cuttings, and woundings; 5 cases of drunken cruelty to children, 72 assaults of women through drink, 13 cases of juvenile intoxication, 72 drunken assaults on constables, 94 premature, sudden, or violent deaths through drink; 18 cases of suicide attempted through drink, 15 cases of drunken suicide completed, 12 drunken manslaughters or murders. With such a category of crime before them, need they be surprised at the words of the late lamented Duke of Albany—"Drink, our terrible enemy, the only terrible enemy we have to fear in this country?" Archdeacon. Farrar, in a recent sermon, also said—We have heard much in these few days of 'Horrible London,' and of the bitter cry of its objects. What makes these slums so horrible? I answer with the certainty and confidence of one who knows—Drink. And what is the remedy? I tell you that every remedy you attempt will he a miserable failure; I tell the nation, with the conviction founded on experience, that there will he no remedy till you save these outcasts from the temptations of drink. Leave the drink, and you might build palaces for them in vain. Leave the drink, and before a year was over your palaces would still reek with dirt and squalor, with infamy and crime.It was self-evident that the traffic was the cause of the increase in local taxation, and also of the dulness of trade, if they were the cause of the pauperism and the crime. If the £130,000,000 spent on drink was spent on clothing and food, they would see a difference in the trade of the country. The Chief Constable of Liverpool had said—Shut public-houses on a Saturday night, and you will not have provisions enough for the people of Liverpool.Let the House pass this Bill, and he would venture to say trade would not only be improved, but they would permit the people to improve their dwellings. At present they were entirely at the mercy of the licensing authorities. The poor man must inhabit any house he could get, even though it was surrounded by public houses; while the wealthy man, by the influence of his wealth, was able to prevent any public house being set down near his dwelling. They knew of many cruel cases where a working man had left a large town to avoid the turmoil and bustle, and all the horrible scenes which existed about the 1599 public-houses, and had gone to some neighbouring village where he might have peace and quietness. He had not been there anytime when some publican fixed upon a house, the licence for which was granted by the Justices. Thus, there was forced upon the locality what Lord Cairns called "traps for the working man," by which the peace of the neighbourhood was disturbed, the decencies of society outraged, and the sanctity of home violated. Having spoken of the necessity for the Bill, he came now to the object of the Bill. The object of the Bill was to enable owners and occupiers of property in burghs in Scotland to prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors within such areas. If the Bill was passed, and if it was found that a majority in any district were in favour of adopting the Act, then the Act should be adopted, and after that there would be no sale and no exchange whatever of liquor in that particular district. It was mentioned in the Bill "by a majority." There was a great difference of opinion upon that point. Some spoke of a majority of one, and he did not blame those who read the Bill in that light. Others spoke of the majority as three-fifths, two-thirds, and seven-ninths. He only wished to acknowledge the principle of the majority. His own opinion was that it was in vain to attempt to change the social habits of any people unless that attempt was backed by a strong public opinion, and he was quite prepared, if the Bill should ever reach Committee, to vote for a large majority. At present he left it open for the Committee to say what majority they thought proper. He was aware that when the hon. Member for Carlisle introduced his Bill many Members did not approve of a two-thirds majority; they wanted a much larger majority, and they only voted for the Bill with the knowledge that the majority could be altered in Committee. They could do the same with this Bill, and he himself was prepared for a much larger majority. Sundry objections were taken to this Bill. One was that it limited the power of the people to prohibition, and did not allow the people to control at the same time. He admitted that the Bill was directed to prohibition. It was not a Licensing Bill, and therefore he was not going to interfere with the licences at all. He left the licensing authorities to do as 1600 they pleased. He said to them—"Go on licensing as you please; all I want is that if the people want to put down public-houses they should be allowed to do so." It was a mistake, however, to suppose if the Bill was passed that it would have no controlling power. He believed it would have a great moral influence on the Justices in dealing with the Licensing Question. Let the Justices not attend properly to the conducting of the traffic, or let them not reduce the number of houses, and the people would at once say—"If you do not reduce the number of these houses and pay more attention to the control of the traffic, we shall at once call a meeting and take steps to forbid the traffic altogether." The moral power and influence of the people would be as great as if they had a legal power. He had no hesitation in saying that. No doubt, a great deal of good had been already done by reducing the number of public-houses; but he thought there was far too much said of the good that had been done in this way; because, while there had been a reduction in the number of public-houses, there was still a great amount of drunkenness in certain districts. He would give a few figures to show what he meant. In 1858, in Glasgow, the number of public-houses was 1,622; the rent of these houses averaged £40 16s., and the gross rental was £66,000. In 1883 the number of public-houses had increased to 1,778, and the rents had risen from £40 16s. to £104, while the gross value of the houses had risen from £66,000 to £185,000. What they did when they reduced the number of public-houses was to increase the accommodation of the existing houses, and so to create a monopoly. He decidedly objected to that. He thought it was quite right to put down public-houses; but that could be carried too far. If they were to have public-houses at all, it was better to have a reasonable number, and still better to have none at all. Another objection had been raised to the Bill, to the effect that it prohibited manufacture and importation of intoxicating liquors. No doubt, if the Bill were carried out in its entirety that would be the case; but they would require to have a great majority of people in favour of it. Suppose that the Bill never passed, and the majority of the electors were so impressed with the evils of drunkenness that they 1601 determined to put down all public-houses and do away with the manufacture and importation of intoxicating liquor, and supposing that became a question at a General Election, what would be the effect of it? The effect of it would be that a majority would be returned to that House pledged to carry out that reform; and the Government would at once introduce a Bill to put down the importation and manufacture of drink throughout the country. His Bill would only do that by a slower process, but under similar circumstances, if a large majority of the people were in favour of it. The measure was wide in its scope, but limited in its operation; and what he considered one of the great merits of the Bill was this—that it allowed a small community, not numbering less than 300 inhabitants, to take advantage of the Bill and put down public-houses in their immediate neighbourhood; whereas under a more general scheme it would be necessary to deal with the whole country at once. There were about 200 parishes in Scotland that had no public-houses. Why should they debar the other 800 or 900 parishes from having the same privilege if they desired? At present the proprietors of the land had the power to remove public-houses on their property; why should they not give the same privilege and power to the proprietors and tenants of houses in their immediate neighbourhood, seeing that they had far more interest in the question than the proprietors of land? This was essentially a working man's question. It proposed to confer upon him the same rights which were possessed at the present time by the landed proprietor, and the same privileges which the wealthy man now enjoyed, of having a public-house put down near his residence. They had abundant proof that wherever there were public-houses there was drunkenness, and where there were no public-houses there was a greater reduction in drunkenness, and sometimes no drunkenness at all. That was the case in the 200 parishes to which he had alluded. There were some statistics, thanks to the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), to which he desired to call attention. From a Return moved for by that hon. Member they found that from 6 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday till 6 o'clock in 1602 the morning on Sunday, during the greater part of which licensed houses were open, the number of persons arrested for drunkenness in 1882 was 12,254; while those arrested during the same year from 6 A.M. on Sunday to 6 A.M. on Monday, during which licensed houses were closed, was only 1,492. Dr. Millar, one of the surgeons of the Edinburgh Infirmary, stated that the average number of cases due mainly to drink which were brought to the Infirmary from 12 o'clock on Friday night to 12 o'clock on Saturday night was, on the average, 9.4; the number admitted from 6 P.M. on Saturday to 6 A.M. on Sunday was 6.11; and from 6 A.M. on Sunday to 6 A.M. on Monday the number admitted was only 3.88. It appeared from the evidence given to the Lords' Committee on Intemperance by Captain M'Call, the head of the Glasgow Police Force, that the average number of drunken and incapable persons taken up on each Saturday in October in 1873, from 6 A.M. on Saturday to 6 A.M. on Sunday, was 192; while the average number of the same class taken up on each Sunday, from 6 A.M. on Sunday to 6 A.M. on Monday, was only 14; thus proving that when the temptation was removed by the closing of public-houses there was much less drunkenness. Another objection had been taken to the Bill, on the ground that it only abolished licences or the traffic directly and immediately, and not through the mediation of a Board. A great many people thought this should not be, and he was not surprised at it. He was of the same opinion a few years ago. In fact, one of the objections that he had urged to the Bill of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) was this very thing, that he did not approve of the plebiscite, but was in favour of a Board. But they all got wiser as they got older. He now confessed he had been in the wrong; and the further experience he had had, and the observations he had made, not only in this but in other countries, had fully convinced him that if they really wanted to put down this great evil they must have the direct veto of the people. He saw no other way for it. He had once voted for the Bill of the hon. Member for Carlisle as a protest against the Government for not introducing any Licensing Bill; but the late Liberal Government did introduce 1603 a Bill, and after that lie ceased to vote for tie Bill of the hon. Member for Carlisle, because he did not approve of the vote being given directly to the people; and when the Local Option He-solution was before the House he spoke in favour of its being given to a Board; but, as he had said, he had changed his opinion entirely, and he now came to the House as a humble penitent, confessing that he had been wrong. They all knew that a Board was a very expensive thing. People in Scotland were beginning to groan under the burden of so many Boards. She now had School Boards, Road Boards, and Parochial Boards. In fact, as the hon. Member for Carlisle had said, they were "Bor'd" to death; and yet it was proposed to force another Board upon them. A Board was far more apt to be influenced by people outside than would a vote of the people. He had confidence in the people in this respect, that they would do their duty thoroughly. If they were not in favour of the traffic being kept up they would say so; and if they were in favour of it they would maintain it. By the right of veto under the Bill, they would allow any district having a population of not less than 300 to abolish licences if they thought proper. Supposing a Board was elected for the City of Perth, and that one ward in that city wanted to have no public-house, if the representatives of the other wards wished them they debarred those people from having what they wished. If they adopted the principle of a representative Board he should not object; but until that was done he could not resign the position he had taken up. Another objection to the direct appeal to the people was that it was unconstitutional; and it was asked why not allow the people to vote, as they do now through their representatives? The answer to this was that they already had a number of Acts under which the people voted directly. For example, there were the Police Act, the Free Libraries Act, and the Borough Funds Act. Under the last-mentioned Act the people had power to prevent a Town Council going to Parliament with a water or gas scheme; and if they allowed a plebiscite in these cases, he did not see why they should not allow it in the case of public-houses. If the people were allowed to decide by plebiscite 1604 whether they should have pure water, why should they not be allowed to decide in the same way whether they should banish from their midst a traffic which produced so much social misery and moral depravity? It was further said that it was unconstitutional, inasmuch as it gave the majority the power to dictate to the minority what they should and what they should not drink. [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] There was nothing about consumption in the Bill; and he could assure the hon. and learned Member for Bridport that he might buy his glass of whisky elsewhere and bring it with him if he pleased. The Bill would not prevent that. It would only do what the Legislature had done in passing some 400 Acts restrictive of the liquor traffic. Mr. Stuart Mill said that the dealers in strong drinks were interested in their abuse and in promoting intemperance— a real evil, which justified the State in imposing restrictions and demanding guarantees. The Bill did nothing else than that, and it did it for the reason stated by Mr. Stuart Mill. Then it was objected that it would interfere with the liberty of the subject. Now, living in a state of civilization as they did, the liberty of the subject was always interfered with. What was civilization? It was made up of restricted liberties; they could not, as individuals, do what they liked; and if they gave the majority the power of doing away with licensed houses in their particular districts, where they produced so much evil, they would only be acting in accordance with the principles adopted in every civilized country, and with the spirit of the legislation which had been passed during the last 20 or 30 years. They now, for example, had compulsory Education, Vaccination, and Sanitary Acts, all interfering with the liberty of the subject; and the present Bill was a small interference with that liberty as compared with those other Statutes. He had addressed himself to the general objections to this Bill; but there was one clause about which he would like to say a few words. It was the clause dealing with what was called compensation. He did not call it that. He called it the Reimbursement Clause. He was found fault with for going too far, and he was found fault with for not going far enough. He simply proposed 1605 to reimburse anyone who had laid out any money on structural alteration of his premises to meet the requirements of the Licensing Justices. He should like those gentlemen who went in for compensation to explain what they wanted compensation for. Licences were only granted for one year, and no man had a right to a renewal. This restricting of licences to one year had existed for a long time. The Legislature had, no doubt, good reasons for restricting them to a year. One of these reasons, no doubt, was that they wanted to preserve the control of the traffic; and another might be that they did not want a publican to establish a claim for compensation. As a set-off to this restriction, there were the enormous profits that were made in the trade. These profits were enormous. Only the other day two cases came under his notice. One was that of a man who had only an ale and beer licence. The original rent of his house was £15; immediately after he got a licence he was offered £30 rent and £270 down for a lease of seven years; and a man must be a fool to make such an offer unless he expected to get his money back. The other case was that of an hotel proprietor who died, and whose widow was offered £1,050, in addition to rent, for a lease of four years. How could publicans expect compensation for goodwill? Everyone who had had experience as a Licensing Justice must have had cases in which their sympathies were excited for some poor widow who had been left destitute, and who had no other way of living, because she had never learned any. In the business of a publican there was very little to learn, and very little capital was required; and, therefore, he did not see what they could expect compensation for. Did they ask compensation when the Sunday Act was passed, and one-seventh of their profits were taken from them? Certainly not. Did they ask compensation when the licences were reduced from hotel licences to public-house licences? Certainly not. He found that the Glasgow Justices had taken away licences from some of the public-houses without any rhyme or reason, and the publicans did not demand compensation. They had appealed to the Licensing Committee, and, supposing that Committee confirmed the decision of the Justices, he understood the 1606 case would be taken to the Court of Session. In cases of that sort the question would be removed from the arena of the House of Commons to the arena of the Court of Session, and that Court would decide whether compensation should be given or not. For his own part, he could not see any reason why compensation should be given. In the Grassmarket in Edinburgh there was a public-house which was rented at £19 10s., and when it got a licence the rent was raised to £60. The house was then sold for £1,400, and the rent was raised to £95. On the new tenant applying for a licence the Justices refused to grant it. The man then refused to pay the £1,400. The case was taken to the Court of Session, and the Court decided that it was a bonâ fide transaction, that the licence was not a marketable commodity, and the man was obliged to pay the £1,400. "With regard to the machinery of the Bill, in the first place the Bill defined districts; but before that could be done the Sheriff must require the people of the district to produce some responsible person who would be surety for expenses; and, further, one-tenth of the people who voted must send a memorial to the Sheriff requiring a house-to-house poll; and then, if a majority of the votes decided in favour of the adoption of this Act, it should be adopted. The machinery of the Bill was, in fact, exceedingly simple in its operation; but it might be asked whether the Bill would be practicable? He could adduce the Maine Law and the law of Canada. These laws were of two kinds—the purely prohibitory, and the permissive prohibitory. The Maine Law, which was at first purely prohibitory, was, in a measure, semi-prohibitory even now. He had heard different opinions expressed as to the success of these laws. He had heard hon. Members who had visited Maine say that it was a complete failure, and that they could there get as much drink as they liked. But think of any Justice of the Peace standing up in that House and deliberately saying that he had broken the law of this country by drinking in a she been; and what better was it that he should have broken the law of a foreign country and boasted of it there? That the law was quite efficient in Maine they knew by the results. In those places where the prohibitory law did not exist 1607 61 cents per head of duty was paid; but where it did exist only 6½ cents per head was paid. Further, he might mention that in a population of 750,000 there were only 22 prisoners in the State prison, 16 of whom came from places where the Maine Law was not strictly enforced. In some counties of Maine there were no poor rates whatever. What a millennium that would be in Scotland! Coming to Canada, they had a prohibitory law in the North-West. Last year another Act was passed giving the licensing power to a few gentlemen nominated by the Government, but, at the same time, introducing into the Act exactly the principle of the Bill now under discussion. It allowed a three-fifths' majority of the people to put a stop to the drink traffic in the district to which they belonged. That was the present Canadian Act. The Canadians did not proceed by haphazard, but began by appointing a gentleman who was a teetotaler and in favour of a prohibitory law, and another who opposed it, to make inquiries in Maine on the subject, and the non-abstainer returned to Canada perfectly convinced; and, after hearing the evidence placed before it, the Canadian Parliament, by large majorities, adopted the Maine Law. If the English House of Commons were in any doubt on that matter, let them also send out a similar deputation, consisting of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and some other gentleman, even a licensed victualler. It was asked whether a measure like the present one was practicable. Well, in Scotland they knew that there were about 200 parishes in which there was not a public-house. Many other facts showed that it was perfectly practicable. He was told that the burgh of Dumbarton was one of the most drunken in Scotland; but a plebiscite was taken there recently, and 3,719 voted for doing away with licences, and 243 against. In Motherwell, 1,393 voted for doing away with hotels on Sunday and 93 against, and 1,344 for closing public-houses, and only 131 against; in Stornoway 3,495 voted for doing away with public-houses, and only 32 against it; in Rothesay, while 957 voted for a change in the present system, and 157 for permanent licences, 1,101 voted for the liquor traffic being directly under the control of the people, and 167 against. He wished to say a 1608 few words about the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. Parker). It was a very curious Amendment. Like a chameleon, it was always changing its character. As the Amendment stood yesterday, it "fully recognized the great evils of the drink traffic;" but now that was struck out. He hoped his hon. Friend still recognized those evils. The Amendment recognized "the urgent call for legislation to give to local communities effectual control over the drink traffic;" but it objected to a Bill "which offers to ratepayers no other remedy than total prohibition." He presumed that his hon. Friend thought that remedy was good; but he wanted some other remedies besides. It was a very Irish way of giving effect to the urgent call for legislation in the direction of local control to put a spoke in the wheel of the only Bill that dealt with the question. His Bill did deal with local control, with the addition of local prohibition. He regretted that his hon. Friend had put down this Amendment. The hon. Member had voted for the Local Option Resolution of last year, which was defined by the hon. Member for Carlisle to be the principle which was embodied in this Bill. The hon. Member had voted for an abstract Resolution; but he would not vote for a Bill by which it was attempted to carry that Resolution into effect. There was a great similarity between the tactics of his hon. Friend and those of the Opposition on the Franchise Bill. His hon. Friend was throwing an obstruction in the way of temperance legislation, and must take that responsibility upon his own shoulders. The necessary effect of his action was to divide the Party, and give the Government an excuse for not bringing in a Bill. He never expected to pass the Bill—he meant this Session; but he thought a great deal was gained by this discussion upon it; and perhaps next year, when he should introduce it again, it would be passed. If the Amendment were carried it would recognize the principle of the Bill. [Mr. C. S. PARKER: Hear, hear!] Why, if that were the case, had his hon. Friend put this Amendment on the Paper? he now came to the attitude of the Government. He regretted to see that the Home Secretary had left; but he appealed to the Lord Advocate whether the necessity for this Bill was not re- 1609 cognized? Nothing had given him greater pleasure than to read the speech delivered by the Home Secretary on the Sunday Closing Bill. That speech contained within it the germs of a good measure; and he would be satisfied if the right hon. Gentleman only turned into a Bill what he had stated in that speech. He would not throw any obstruction in the way of the Government on this question. If they would embody in another measure the veto which was the principle of this Bill, all temperance reformers in Scotland would be satisfied, and do everything to pass the Bill. He would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that their late Leader gave householders a right to vote for Members of Parliament. If he had been there now he would not have opposed that Bill. To Members on his own side of the House he could only say—"Trust the people." He might appeal even with confidence to the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) and the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan), and say to them—"Have confidence in your customers." Was it not better to carry on the trade with the full approval of the great majority of their neighbours than to force it upon people who objected to it? He was not one who used the harsh expressions he had heard used against licensed victuallers. They were conducting a trade which was sanctioned by law; and if anybody was to be blamed it was not they, but the Legislature, and it was the duty of Parliament to put them in a better position than they were now in. He would not say that the hon. Member for Perth was the friend of the licensed victuallers; but he was doing the work of the licensed victuallers. A licensed victualler had himself said that—It is intoxication or the liquor traffic that fills our gaols, that fills our lunatic asylums, that fills our workhouses. Were it not for this one cause, pauperism would be nearly extinguished. The struggle of the school, the library, and the Church, all united against the beer-house and gin-palace, is but one development of the war between heaven and hell.He had only to express his earnest hope that some Member of the Government would give them the assurance to-day that they would, as far as the Public Business would allow, introduce and pass a measure embodying the principle of Local Option as defined by the hon. Member for Carlisle, and thus put an 1610 end to the present state of matters, of which the memorable words were used by the late Mr. Charles Buxton, one of the firm of the largest brewers in Britain—Add together all the miseries generated by war, pestilence, and famine, and they do not exceed those that spring from this one calamity, the drink traffic.The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. M'Lagan.)
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
, in moving, as an Amendment—That this House, while fully recognizing the urgent call for legislation to give to local communities effectual control over the drink traffic, does not deem it expedient to proceed with a Bill which offers to ratepayers no other remedy than total prohibition,said, the change in his Amendment, on which he had been challenged, was not a change of substance. His hon. Friend knew pretty well the reason for it. The hon. Member had come to him and said that he and his Friends could accept the Amendment as not being hostile to the Bill. It was not exactly hostile to the Bill; but it was intended to set aside the Bill; and, therefore, he had sharpened the Amendment to make that plain. He had inserted the words "the House does not deem it expedient to proceed with the Bill," and had left out other words, only because they were not needed. He could go two steps with the promoters of the Bill, but no farther. He recognized the evils of the drink traffic, and the necessity for a remedy on the principle of Local Option. So far, he was at one with his hon. Friends. But when they came to the work of defining and applying Local Option, then they parted company. His hon. Friend had not in the least exaggerated the urgency of the case; the call for legislation was general from all classes and from all parts of Scotland. Had time permitted, he could have offered proofs of this, perhaps as telling as those already given. But he would rather deal more closely with the question. They had to do no longer with a Resolution, but with a Bill. The House had affirmed three times the abstract Local Option Resolution. But now there was at last before them a definite proposal, or rather 1611 two proposals, for legislation. The Government had promised in the Queen's Speech to introduce a measure enlarging the powers of the ratepayers through the representative system, and including among their powers the regulation of the traffic in intoxicating liquors. Unfortunately, that promise had of late dropped out of sight. The House had been so much engrossed with the Soudan and with the cattle disease that they had found no time to think of that more fell disease which was attacking men, women, and children, driving them to poverty, to shame, to crime, and even to death. It was only through the energy and good fortune of a private Member in the ballot that a Wednesday's Sitting was secured for this important question. Let them, then, make good use of the time to examine the principles of his Bill, as compared with those laid down in the Queen's Speech. His hon. Friend had spoken of the principle of his Bill as being that of Local Option; but there were in the Bill no less than three principles—Popular Control, the Plebiscite, and Prohibition. On the first he need not dwell; the majority of the House were pledged to popular control. But with the second principle came divergence between the Government proposal and that of the Bill. The Government proposed to work through the representative system; his hon. Friend preferred the plebiscite. The one form of popular control was favourably known by long experience in all affairs Imperial or local; the other was comparatively untried. His hon. Friend, no doubt, had reminded them very properly that the plebiscite was not entirely new to our legislation. He had spoken of three cases where the plebiscite vote was taken— the case of Town Councils wishing to promote a gas or water scheme at the public expense, the case of free libraries, where the electors voted for an additional rate to be paid out of their own pocket, and the case where consent of the ratepayers was necessary before expenditure of borough funds. But surely his hon. Friend must admit there was a long stride between any such plebiscite as those and a plebiscite that should deal with the interests of an important trade, especially by sudden prohibition. The control of the liquor traffic was not, as some had said, a judicial function; but 1612 it was an administrative function of much delicacy; and it would be a very serious departure from the representative system, if they were to transfer the control to the whole mass of electors at the polling booth, not hearing arguments, nor inquiring into facts, with patient, just, considerate action. And then came the third principle of the Bill, the point on which he wished to concentrate the attention of the House. In giving, for the first time, popular control over the trade, his hon. Friends proposed to allow no other choice then that of total prohibition? Was that wise, or unwise? Ought they to place limits on Local Option, and if so, what limits? Some hon. Members would impose both a higher and a lower limit on the number of licensed houses in proportion to the population. In a former debate his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster)— whom he was sorry not to see in his place—was understood to give his vote for Local Option, with the explanation that he would not be a party to absolute prohibition; he would always maintain some accommodation for the minority. The Prime Minister went further. He would give a Local Option so wide as to permit total prohibition, but also to leave it open to a great town like Liverpool to make another experiment in free trade under licence; and he believed the Secretary of State for the Home Department was of the same opinion. For his own part, he should not think it necessary to place any upper or lower limit upon the number of licences. If only he was satisfied that they had got a fairly representative authority, he should be willing to give them the same power that licensing authorities had now— power to refuse any or every licence. But any limits proposed by the right hon. Member for Bradford, or by others, were as freedom itself compared with the narrow option offered by this Bill. If the promoters of the Bill called upon the House to trust the people, why on earth would they not trust the people with larger powers? Why so jealously restrict them? Why cabin and confine them to one single choice, and that the most extreme, the least likely to be generally adopted, the most likely to provoke reaction? They might have given other powers. For instance, in the City of Perth the general opinion 1613 was that no new licences were needed, and he fancied many of his hon. Friends from Scotland could say the same with regard to other districts. Why, then, should not the Bill empower the ratepayers to say there should be no new licences granted?
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
said, that he was not aware there was any power by law by which the ratepayers could say there should be no new licences. But why should not the ratepayers have the power to veto even one new licence? In some of the Colonies these powers existed. By the Act in force in New Zealand, the electorate could vote on each kind of licence separately; and if the majority expressed the opinion that there was a sufficient number of licences already of the kind in respect of which the vote was taken, that number could not be increased. Why should not the ratepayers of Scotland have similar powers under this Bill? If they wished to have no more grocers' licences, or no more drinking bars, why should they not have power to vote for this? Why not for shorter hours of sale? The Secretary of State for the Home Department the other day, in reference to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday Bill, said he thought it was a question that might be safely left to the community in each case to decide, instead of Parliament laying down one rule for the whole country. On the same principle of liberty, would his hon. Friends who were promoting this Bill consent to introduce these various powers, or did they intend to stand or fall by total prohibition? No doubt, if they were willing to put these various powers in the Bill, they would have greatly to alter its character. They must change the Preamble; they must change the title; and, he thought, they must change the machinery also. It was possible by a plebiscite to vote on total prohibition, on prohibition of new licences, or of a certain class of licences; and it was possible, also, to vote on the hours of closing; but there were many regulations beyond that which it would be most desirable to 1614 enforce if approved by local public opinion, and which, he thought, could hardly be submitted to a direct popular vote. For his own part, he had far more confidence in the representative principle to deal with all these matters. Nor did he expect that his hon. Friends would put these powers into the Bill; because many of their supporters would lose their enthusiasm if the Bill were only for the suppression of intemperance, instead of being for extinction of the whole trade. To please such supporters, the Bill was purposely made extreme in its provisions. When such a Bill was first proposed, it was strongly felt there must be a large amount of popular support to justify it. He believed Mr. Charles Buxton was the original author of the Permissive Bill, and he required that five-sixths of the voters should be united. Then came his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who was content to have a two-thirds' majority to prohibit; but now, after six years' interval, during which public opinion had marched forward, his hon. Friends produced a Bill by which a majority of one might put an end to the trade. His hon. Friend, however, had not quite the courage of his Bill. He asked the House to save him from his Friends by altering the majority in Committee, and he even angled for the vote of the hon. and gallant Gentleman behind him (Sir Alexander Gordon), who suggested a majority of seven-ninths. But the larger the majority required, the fewer places would adopt the Bill. Its character as an extreme measure was well seen in the one exception it made. In Canada, where they had total prohibition, the Act made two exceptions, one of which the hon. Member adopted, and the other he did not. The one he did not adopt was the permission to buy wine for Sacramental purposes. In Scotland, among the extreme Party who supported the Bill, the feeling ran so far that they actually complained of Christian churches for using wine in the Sacrament, because reformed drinkers, when they had tasted the Sacramental wine, had got back their craving for drink and been entirely lost. That was the view taken by some of the supporters of his hon. Friend, and their reason for withholding this exception. Then there was the medicinal exception. If anyone 1615 got from a legally qualified practitioner, not a general certificate of leave, but a prescription suited to his particular malady, he might obtain drink from the druggist. Medical men would be well off under such a Bill; because he supposed they would be allowed to prescribe for themselves and their friends, and therefore they would become very popular. But he could have wished there had been appended to the Bill a Schedule giving the form of the prescription. Perhaps his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) would tell them what it ought to be. He did not know much of doctors' Latin; but he supposed it would be somewhat in this form—"Recipe aquœ vitœ," or "spiritus vulgo dicti whisky," so many ounces, or so many drams. Or if the patient were allowed a little "toddy" on going to bed, then he supposed it would run "Fiat mistura spiritus et aqua ferventis" and "Sumat cochlearia ampla tria," or "quantum sufficiat, horâ somni." Armed with that prescription they might get drink within their own district, otherwise they must go beyond, which, though it might be a trifle in these modest beginnings, would soon become serious, as it might come to sending for supplies outside Scotland. It was commonly said, at the age of 40, every man was either a physician or a fool. He was so especially in matters of diet. Yet, under this Bill, he was to go to a legally-qualified practitioner to obtain a prescription for what he knew from his own experience agreed with him; otherwise he could not obtain it in his own district. Suppose a man found that it promoted his digestion to take with his dinner a glass of bitter beer; unless he got a medical prescription, or went outside a prohibited district, he might be driven to ginger beer; or if a lady should require refreshment, without the prescription she could not procure a glass of claret, but must take something more like raspberry vinegar. He wished to ask what was all this for that they were going so far? He did not think most of his hon. Friends who had brought in this Bill would say that they thought it necessary to protect the moderate drinker. What they wanted to deal with were the serious and grave evils arising from intemperance. Could they not deal with them in a more practical way than this? Could they not 1616 diminish the temptations flaunted at every street corner without going so far as to say that, even in an hotel, lodgers should not have what they were accustomed to take at home with their meals? It was said that among the warmest supporters of the Bill were many of those who drank most. He hoped there was much truth in that. But if so, would it not be possible to accommodate them without total prohibition for everybody? At present we had only an Habitual Drunkards Act, which enabled habitual drunkards to shut themselves up in retreats; but the Colonies had more than that. In the last Canadian Act, Section 92 gave power to Justices to forbid the sale of liquor to habitual drunkards; and Section 93 entitled a parent, guardian, husband, or wife to make application for such purpose. The names on the forbidden list were sent to the liquor bars of the neighbourhood, and heavy penalties were imposed for serving such persons with liquor. Of course, that plan was easier to work amongst a scattered Colonial population than it would be in this thickly-peopled country; but if they were going to interdict people with a view to temperance, he thought it would be more rational to get a list of those who drank to excess and interdict them only, rather than all who had not prescriptions from a physician. These were arguments that weighed with his judgment in favour of a different Bill from that now before the House, a Bill that should give a much larger and more effective Local Option. But this was not a question for argument only. His hon. Friend had impressed upon them that they had the opinion of the country to reckon with, and had been kind enough to warn him (Mr. C. S. Parker) that a special responsibility would rest upon his shoulders for throwing out the Bill. He was not afraid of that. He knew that, public opinion in Scotland ran strong for Local Option, but not for such a Bill as this. The best proof of that would be the votes of the Scotch Members; and he trusted they might be allowed to go to a Division. One of the London papers said that the majority of Scotch Members were in favour of the Bill. How much truth there was in that their speeches, if not their votes, would soon reveal. In the meantime, where was the evidence of public opinion in favour of the Bill? Take Petitions to Parliament. 1617 There were some; but his hon. Friend had not relied on them. And rightly, for the number who petitioned against the Bill last year was very considerably larger than the number who petitioned for it last year and this year put together. That, he thought, was a remarkable fact; because no one went out of his way to petition against a reasonable temperance measure. Again, take plebiscites. He would only refer to the one that his hon. Friend had put first. His hon. Friend held up Dumbarton to reproach as the most drunken town in Scotland, and he understood him to say that Dumbarton had passed a vote in favour of the Bill. [Mr. M'LAGAN: No.] Well, then, in favour of total abolition of the liquor traffic. Now, he happened to hold in his hand the exact question that was put to Dumbarton. It was this—" Whether the inhabitants are in favour of Local Option?" But that was after the Scotch Members, almost unanimously, had voted for Local Option; and, lest Local Option should be taken to mean total prohibition only, the Circular went on—Local Option is a law that will give the people power by their votes to prevent the issue or renewal of all or any licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors.That being so, the present was not a Bill that would satisfy the good folks of Dumbarton, for it would not enable them to stop one licence without stopping all. Again, what said the newspaper Press? Were the leading organs of opinion in the great cities of Scotland in favour of the Bill? Was The Scotsman, The Glasgow Herald, The Dundee Advertiser, or, in his own county, The Perthshire Advertiser? They were all against it. Then take public meetings. In Dundee, a town in which there was a great deal of intoxication, the meeting for the Bill was anything but a success, being thinly attended and carrying no weight at all; and in the Dundee School Board a motion in favour of the Bill was opposed by Provost Moncur, a well-known temperance reformer, and did not find a seconder. In Glasgow a Conference of 256 ministers declared for "Local Option vested in Local Boards;" the Scottish Temperance League asked for "power by Local Representative Boards or otherwise to prohibit all or any licences;" a larger Conference of Temperance and Social 1618 Reformers, presided over by a late Lord Provost—Sir William Collins—pledged itself to "Local Boards;" and the Liberal Six Hundred resolved that —The entire control of the licensing system should be placed in the hands of the ratepayers through Local Representative Boards.But then there was the great Edinburgh Convention, two months ago, at which, as his hon. Friend said, "the Temperance Party had formulated their demands." He must say he was astonished to hear his hon. Friend quote the resolution passed by that meeting as furnishing the principle of his Bill. The resolution was specially addressed to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, who wanted to know what was considered a practical measure, and the answer was as follows:—No legislative measure on this subject will be satisfactory which does not confer upon the ratepayers the full legal power of controlling the drink traffic, and also of prohibiting it where a majority shall think fit.Two things, not one; control, and prohibition. The Bill gave prohibition; why not also "full legal control?" But now let them take the authorities who had practically to do with the working of the present system. The licensing magistrates had not expressed any opinion in favour of this Bill; nor the Commissioners of Supply; nor the Town Councils; nor the Convention of Royal and Parliamentary Burghs. And were the Churches of Scotland in favour of the Bill? A London newspaper said so; but his hon. Friend knew better. One of the largest Churches—the Free Church—had had for years a Committee specially dealing with temperance, and year after year they had petitioned in favour of Local Boards. Such facts as these gave some indication of public opinion in Scotland; but, after all, the truest test of it was through the Representatives of Scotland. By their speeches, and by their votes, it would be seen how many of them were opposed to this Bill, how many stood neutral, how many gave it a half-hearted, and how few a whole-hearted support. He would appeal then to Scottish Members to have the courage of their own true opinions. If they took the sensible view of the matter—the view which commended itself to their own judgment— they need not be afraid that their con- 1619 stituents would be hard upon them. To the Government he would say, he knew the difficulties with which they were surrounded; but he asked them not to delay, if possible, in dealing with this question; and when they did bring in their Bill, let it not be a disappointment. He had been sorry to see that in their London Government Bill this question was passed over by a temporary arrangement, allowing the present state of things to remain till Parliament should otherwise provide. If the Government would create in each district an authority that should, on the one hand, be truly local—not dealing with too large a district—and that, on the other, should command the confidence of the whole community, the amplest discretion, he thought, might be safely left in the hands of such a Body. These Boards would make mistakes at first, no doubt; but they would soon gain experience, both from their own proceedings and from those of other Boards; and he believed they would be able to deal satisfactorily with the whole of this difficult but most important question. Lastly, he would ask of the House as a favour to Scotch Members that the Bill should not be talked out. He hoped, also, the Bill would not be merely negatived, but that the House would adopt the Amendment, which had been drawn up with a view to placing on record that, while the House declined to accept under a new name the old Permissive Bill, it did not fall back in any way from the position it had taken upon three former occasions by passing Resolutions in favour of Local Option, or, as he preferred to call it, local popular control.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, that when his hon. Friend the Member for Perth gave Notice of his first Resolution in opposition to this Bill he had taken the liberty of pointing out to him that as it was drafted it by no means necessitated the throwing out of the measure, and that, if it were not amended, it might lead to false hopes on the part of its supporters. But the Resolution as it was now moved he felt quite at liberty to second, as his hon. Friend had requested him to do, because he thought it fairly expressed the sense both of the country and of the House. He was not going to make a speech, for two reasons. In the first place, what they now wanted 1620 was not long speeches upon the temperance question, but a general and varied expression of the opinion of Scotch Members on this particular measure. In the second place, he would not detain the House, because a supporter of the Bill had told him in the Lobby that it was highly desirable it should be talked out. That meant that his hon. Friend the Member for Linlith-gow (Mr. M'Lagan) and his supporters were very desirous indeed to avoid a Division. He, on the contrary, was most anxious that the opinion of the Representatives of Scotland should be expressed by them upon this most extraordinary measure. He should be very sorry that his hon. Friend, who had made such an eloquent and interesting speech that day, should have thought it necessary to introduce a Bill of this kind into the House of Commons at all. His hon. Friend had quoted a number of epithets which had been applied to it. He was not prepared to adopt every one of these epithets; but this he did say—that he entirely agreed with the expression of the deputation from one of the great public bodies of Scotland which said that this was an impracticable and unworkable Bill. If he had had any doubts upon this score the speech of the hon. Member for Linlithgow would have removed these doubts. His hon. Friend had no expectation at all, either this year or any other year, of passing such a measure as this. Several hon. Gentlemen had said in his hearing that they would vote for the second reading of this Bill, because they knew that would be a very safe vote—it would please a large number of the most ardent friends of the measure, and there was not the most remote possibility of it ever taking a place on the Statute Book. He had never felt it his duty to take such a course as that in the House of Commons. If his hon. Friend had not moved this Amendment he should have considered it his duty to move that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months. He would have done so on this general principle— that a sweeping measure of this kind occupied the time and wasted the energies of philanthropic men, and prevented them from devoting attention to measures of practical temperance reform. He wished it to be distinctly understood that he did not oppose the consideration of this question from any hostile point 1621 of view towards the temperance movement. There were hon. Members who had often quoted in that House the aphorism—"You cannot make men sober by Act of Parliament," and said that, therefore, they did not believe in legislation of this kind. That was not his view at all. On the contrary, his firm belief was that a very great deal of good could be done by cautious, practical, progressive legislation in the restriction and the regulating of the drink traffic, and preventing the extension of increased facilities and temptations to intemperance. If anyone doubted that, he could cite the working of the present law in Scotland. The Act of Parliament, commonly called the Forbes Mackenzie Act, which was carried through this House by Mr. Forbes Mackenzie— although it was well known the real author of the measure was the late Lord Kinnaird—had worked so well, and had the confidence of the people of Scotland to such a degree, that, although it was now between 30 and 40 years since it came into law, not a single Scotch Member had been got, though he believed strong influence was brought to bear upon them by the publicans at one time, to alter its provisions, far less to vote for its repeal. On the contrary, all legislative proposals and attempts made since that time had been to go further in the same direction, to make still further restrictive laws to regulate the traffic. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had a Bill now before the House for materially restricting the hours at which both publicans and grocers in Scotland might be permitted to sell liquor. That Bill had been supported not by Temperance Lodges and small Committees only, but by Representative Bodies in Scotland. It was a Bill which might require alteration; but he should be surprised if, in its main provisions, it did not become law. What he was anxious to impress upon the House was that legislation of this kind should not go too far ahead of public opinion. His hon. Friend (Mr. M'Lagan) had acknowledged this; but he asked him this question—Was he prepared to say that there was anything like a strong popular opinion of the people of Scotland in favour of this Bill? If they legislated in this manner in advance of public opinion, they immediately brought about evils much greater than those they 1622 were trying to remedy. He should be very glad to see the day—which would probably come, though he might never see it—when they should have no such things as shops in which spirituous liquors would be sold in glasses to be drunk over the counter. But they could not do this by violent changes in the law. The very first effect of the passing of a Bill such as this would be the opening of innumerable she beens and backdoors, and a system of illicit drinking, such as was now doing great injury in places where a too prohibitory law had been adopted. His hon. Friend had animadverted on the conduct of certain Members of the House who had made themselves acquainted with the manner in which the law was evaded in the United States. He had insinuated that they went to the secret bars in order to drink. He was not ashamed to say that, when visiting the States where the Maine Law existed, he had been extremely anxious to find what was going on there, and he had witnessed scenes at those back door entrances that he should not like to describe to the House, all caused by the attempt to go ahead of public opinion. He shared the objection against a plebiscite. He held that it was very undesirable to refer so many questions directly to the ratepayers to vote without any representation. He put it to his hon. Friend whether, admitting that the principle of this Bill was a good one, this was a good time for bringing it forward? He had a distinct pledge from the Government to carry into effect the Resolutions which the House had passed in the direction of Local Option. They had a promise that the Local Government Bill would contain provisions dealing with the whole question. He hoped that Bill would take away the whole power of licensing from irresponsible magistrates, and give it to the representatives of the people in the town and country, who, he was sure, would be able to give full expression to the wishes of the body of the people. For these reasons, and believing that this Bill was standing in the way of real effective legislation, he cordially seconded the Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, while fully recognizing the urgent call for legislation to give to local com-
munities effectual control over the drink traffic, does not deem it expedient to proceed with a Bill which offers to ratepayers no other remedy than total prohibition,"—(Mr. C. S. Parker,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ORR-EWING
said, he repudiated the idea that there was any real foundation for the charge which the hon. Member who had moved the second reading of the Bill had brought against Scotland. Statistics proved that England, taking the population of each country, drank 50 per cent more alcohol than Scotland, and that the Scottish people were as sober as those of any country in Europe. Ireland nominally consumed less alcohol in proportion than Scotland; but this was accounted for by the large number of illicit stills—sometimes amounting to 800 in a year—that were discovered in the former country; whereas in Scotland there were rarely more than two or three. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill had made a particular allegation in regard to the town of Dumbarton. Well, he had not the honour of representing Dumbarton, for it was included in the group of burghs which the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Dick-Peddie) represented. He was not going to say that the hon. Member's statement was not based on some foundation of truth. All he could say was that Dumbarton was a proof of how little they could do by legislation to restrain the drinking habits of the people, especially when they were making high wages, and were very hard-worked people. It had been one of the favourite arguments of teetotalers that it was a great advantage to a country or to a town that they should limit the number of public-houses. The most sanguine supporters aimed at one public-house for 500 of the population. Well, Dumbarton had gone far beyond that, because it had only a public-house to 750 of the population, and the result was that a complete monopoly had been created. It was the most money-making trade in Dumbarton, and he ventured to say that the habits of the people were not one bit improved. There was another matter in the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. M'Lagan) which he felt that he ought to take notice of. The 1624 hon. Member had tried to make it out that the publicans had no right to any compensation for being deprived of their business. The argument of the hon. Member was that licences were granted for a year, and had to be renewed every year, and that business so conducted had no ground for compensation. He must look, however, at the custom of the Licensing Courts. He had sat now for a very long period as a Justice of the Peace and a magistrate, and he had never known a case of a man being deprived of his licence unless he had been convicted of having broken the law; and even then it was not done for the first offence, but only after a second conviction. So much was that the case, that at every Licensing Court upon which he had ever sat the list of the renewals of licences was read over and passed as a matter of course, and in regard to every name that was objected to due notice had to be given to the applicant, and the case was heard along with the applications for new licences. He thought publicans had a just right to compensation if ever Parliament resolved to put down licences. He did not think the House, and especially Scotch Members, ever had a greater surprise than when this Bill—in an even more stringent form than it was in now—was introduced last Session, because previously the hon. Member had been so moderate in all his views, so just and reasonable on every question, that they naturally looked on him as fairly representative of Scotch feeling, so much so that there were very few Select Committees or Commissions of which they did not find him a Member. He was appointed a Member of a Commission that inquired into this very subject—the Commission on Grocers' Licences-—which sat in 1877. That was not very long ago, and yet, in the Report of that Commission, he found the Commissioners saying that—All the law can do without touching upon the liberty of the subject is to see that the trade which Parliament has recognized is carried en within the prescribed limits founded on common sense and considerations of public order. It is expected that the influence of education and the moral tone of the community will be more effectual than the extension of restrictive legislation in leading to improved habits of decency and moderation.He (Mr. Orr-Ewing) agreed with every word he had quoted from that Report. The hon. Member (Mr. M'Lagan), how- 1625 ever, although he was a Member of that Commission, last year brought in a Bill, the most drastic and the most unjust that had ever been presented on this subject. He believed, moreover, that his hon. Friend had been a consistent opponent of the Permissive Bill, which was moderation itself compared with the Bill of last year. The Permissive Bill required a majority of two-thirds before the liquor traffic could be stopped; but here only a bare majority was required. No doubt, the hon. Member had said today he might extend that; but there was a strong power behind him composed of men that he (Mr. Orr-Ewing) did not hesitate to say were most unreasonable, and they would compel the hon. Member to do that which he himself did not approve. The present Bill was in a certain sense an improvement on the Bill of last year, because under last year's Bill, if permission were once given to put down the liquor traffic, they could never go into the same area again and ask the people to reconsider the matter. Now, if he understood the Bill aright, each area was to have an opportunity of reconsidering whether licences should be renewed or continued; but there was no provision in the Bill for compensation, except for what had been expended on the glasses and the counter over which the liquor was consumed. That, he thought, was a most serious objection to this Bill. He thought it had been acknowledged by the Leader of the Government that he never would be a party to putting an end to this legitimate business without giving ample compensation to the persons deprived of it. It was as legitimate a business as distilling or brewing; and if Parliament ever decided to put a stop to brewing and distilling it would not do so without giving ample compensation to these great interests. Why were they to treat this trade differently from these other trades, merely because it was less powerful and less wealthy? It would be most inconsistent for this Government to do anything of the kind. It was further to be noticed that the Bill, as pointed out by the hon. Member for Perth, would not only put down public-houses, but grocers' licences and hotels. What, then, would be the result in a town like Oban, if, in an enthusiastic moment, the people were to adopt this Bill? Where would the visitors from 1626 England, Ireland, and other parts of the country go to who visited that beautiful place if there were no hotels? This, he thought, was legislation run mad. The Bill of this year gave power to reconsider the question of licences every three years. Did they think any respectable man would go into a trade with such conditions? The thing was impracticable. His hon. Friend brought forward a chapter of horrors, and talked about Monday as being the woman's day for getting drunk. He was sure there was no district in Scotland where such a state of things was to be witnessed. [Mr. M'LAGAN: I said in Westminster.] He (Mr. Orr-Ewing) thought they were dealing with Scotland. Were they to pass a stringent measure of this kind for Scotland because of evils in Westminster? Surely Westminster could look after itself? He would like to call attention to the real reason of the hon. Member for bringing forward this Bill, which he gave to his constituents. The reason the hon. Gentleman gave was that he had lately himself become a teetotaler. He had long been in the habit of taking drink; but he found himself so much better without it that he was anxious every other person should follow his example. It was the case of the fox and the tail over again. He did not object to any hon. Member changing his views, but he should do so in moderation. If a man advancing in years lost confidence in himself—if he saw the errors of his youth—if he had been ordered by his physician to change his habits of life, and take water instead of whisky, he was quite entitled to do so; but why not allow society in general to change their views also, rather than compel them to do so by such a drastic measure as this? There were great influences at work in favour of temperance. It was nearly 50 years since he entered business, and at that time it was not uncommon on Mondays to have some departments of their works stopped through the drunkenness of the employés; but he never now saw a drunken man in his premises, nor did he meet one in the neighbourhood, except on the occasion of some great market. That condition of things had been brought about by Temperance Societies, by greater intelligence, by the change of pay-day, by the people being more intelligent, and seeing more clearly the evil of 1627 excessive drinking, and he also thought it had been effected, to a great extent, by the improved habits of the upper and middle classes. He believed in persuasion and example; he believed very strongly in the improvement of workmen's dwellings, of which he was sorry to say many masters thought too little; he believed in the establishment of workmen's public-houses, where young men could go who had not room at home to bring in their friends or to amuse themselves—houses where they could enjoy the advantages of a library and have games of draughts and chess— where they would have comfortable rooms, and get drinks of other than an intoxicating character. By these regenerating influences he believed they would work a great revolution in the habits of the people. No doubt, in a town like Glasgow, where some miserable people lived in dwellings where they rarely saw the sun, they were driven to the gin shops, and drunkenness was the result; but, taking Scotland as a whole, the sobriety of the country districts was not to be excelled in any country in Europe. It was excessive drinking they ought to endeavour to cure, and he did not believe that could be done by compulsory legislation. Were they to degrade the whole inhabitants of a country for the misconduct of a few? Was this Bill trusting the people? Was it true liberty? No. It was downright tyranny, and the very worst of tyranny, because it was the tyranny of the mob. He admitted that drunkenness was an offence against society, and that the law could not be too stringent in punishing such an offence. He admitted, further, that the people of this country were of opinion that drunkenness was a curse; but if the people of Scotland were of opinion that drink was such a curse as was stated in the Preamble of the Bill, lie thought it was not such a Bill as this which the Government ought to support. They rather ought to bring in a Bill to take away the power of distilling, brewing, and importing drink in any shape or form whatever. That was the only way in which they could attain the end which it was the object of this Bill to reach. If the Government intended to support this Bill he thought they must be prepared to go much further. They must be prepared to destroy the power of 1628 producing the drink which was doing so much harm. He hoped the Government would not support this Bill, because, if passed into law, it would destroy a legitimate trade in which a large amount of capital had been invested; and it would raise strife and turmoil in every parish in Scotland without doing a particle of good.
I must congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M 'Lagan) on two things in connection with this Bill. First, in having roused the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr-Ewing) to unwonted flights of eloquence; and, in the second place, in eliciting from the hon. Member for Perth a brilliant coruscation of wit. However, I may say in regard to the speeches of these hon. Gentlemen, as was said by Chatterton of the sermons of a certain clergyman—His sermon had no argument, 'tis true;Would you have sense and pretty figures too?The speeches of the hon. Members contained very little of argument, or, at any rate, very little that could not be easily demolished. Now, the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire has said that the hon. Member for Linlithgow has cast an imputation of excessive drunkenness upon the people of Scotland. I do not think that my hon. Friend led anyone to believe anything of the sort. What he said was that the people of Dumbarton were held to be the most drunken people in Scotland. I do not know whether it is so or not; but I believe the statement was made on the authority of a previous statement made by the hon. Member (Mr. Orr-Ewing) himself. In Dumbarton there is a good example of what can be done in the cause of sobriety by legislation; but the hon. Member told us that nothing has been or can be done by legislation to make the people of Dumbarton more sober.
The hon. Member mentioned a great number of things that had been brought to work to promote the sobriety of his neighbours in Dumbarton; but, curiously enough, he omitted to mention the legislation which had taken place for Dumbarton as well as for other parts of Scotland, in the shape of the Forbes Mackenzie Act. The result of that Act in Dumbarton is that, whereas 1629 the average arrests there are 67 daily, the number on Sunday is only 5. Now, I think that if you want a striking illustration of what can be done in the way of securing sobriety by legislation, you need not go further than to Dumbarton.
Well, if everyone admits it, then the hon. Member admits the advantages of legislation in promoting sobriety. He stigmatized the Bill of my hon. Friend as drastic, unjust, and tyrannical. Now, my hon. Friend proposes to do no more than place in the hands of the people power which in the hands of the landlords has been exercised with great benefit to the country for an indefinite number of years. But I suppose one may say, taking a slight liberty with the words of the great poet—"What in the landlord's but paternal care, is in the people's hands rank tyranny." I would go the length of placing in the hands of the people everything that is now placed in the hands of the landlords. In the hands of the landlords the power of suppression and control has done nothing but good; and I maintain there is no earthly reason why you should intrust these powers to the landlords—to a single class of the community—and refuse them to the people. That is what I call trusting the people. The hon. Members for Dumbarton and Perth alluded to the question of compensation, and on that question I will point out that the prohibitory system is already at work in Scotland wherever the landlords choose to enforce it. A landlord might put down every public-house on his estate; and, if he did so, what provision have you for compensation? A landlord can put down every grocer's licence and every publican's licence; a landlord has unlimited power in that respect, and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgowshire (Mr. M'Lagan) has told the House that in 200 parishes in Scotland the landlords have exercised their power of putting down licences.
§ MR. ORR-EWING
The hon. Member is not correct in that. Landlords have only reserved to themselves power of preventing houses being converted into public-houses.
I am perfectly correct. As a matter of fact, many landlords 1630 have prevented anything in the shape of a public-house being set up on their estates. I myself have for years lived in a district where such a provision has been inserted in the feus, and I venture to say most of the Scottish Members in this House are in the same position as myself. I repeat that, as a matter of fact, in 200 parishes in Scotland this power of suppression on the part of the landlord has been exercised, and, it is admitted on all hands, with the most beneficial results. With regard to compensation, I am not particularly against compensation; indeed, I am as liberal-minded on that subject as the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who only considers it a question of detail. I regard it in the same light. It is wonderful how tender in some respects hon. Gentlemen are on the question of compensation. Officers in the Army had been breaking the law all the days of their life in selling their commissions; and it was deemed absolutely necessary to compensate them when the power to sell commissions was taken from them. Last year we abolished every toll in Scotland. The toll-keepers, who had been engaged all their lives in a legal and honest occupation, were thrown without employment upon the world. Yet what compensation was given to them? The Bill in reality proposes exactly that form of compensation which has been thought good enough for agricultural tenants—namely, compensation for unexhausted improvements, precisely on the same basis as that on which it was given to tenants. My hon. Friend (Mr. M'Lagan) referred to various cases in which plebiscites had been taken; but he omitted to mention an important fact in regard to Stornoway, although he told the House how many were in favour and how very few were against public-houses. I have received a letter from an inhabitant there, stating that in order to find out the feeling of the people on this subject a plebiscite was taken, which resulted in 3,495 people voting against all public-houses, and only 32 voted in favour of keeping them open. The figures were placed before the magistrates the other day; but their honours, in their wisdom, thought fit to renew every licence. "Before that," writes my correspondent, "the people were under the impres- 1631 sion that licences were granted for the public convenience, and that the public were the best judges of their requirements." But Stornoway was an out-of-the-way place, and that accounted for the people harbouring any such ingenuous idea as to the object of their licensing system. Now, the hon. Member for Perth said that what we want is Licensing Boards. I am in favour of Licensing Boards, local veto, or anything else which will grapple with this evil; and it is because I am in favour of one and all that I will vote for and support one and all. That seems to me a much more rational way of promoting the cause of temperance than to say, as the hon. Gentleman does, because I would like some other means adopted than is proposed in this Bill I will move a hostile Amendment to it. It strikes me the hon. Member will have to take up a firmer attitude if he wishes to escape the fate of the man who tried to sit between two stools. I hold in my hand a telegram stating that a Liberal meeting was held at Perth last night, at which those in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) were in such a minority that a resolution in favour of this Bill was carried unanimously—the supporters of the Amendment having left the room when they saw what was about to happen. The hon. Member's course will not, I believe, please the temperance members of his constituency; and with regard to his intemperate constituents, they are not likely to give him any effectual support which will enable him to do without the support of the Liberal Committee. He says he would like to see greater liberty allowed to ratepayers, and he asked whether we intended to allow ratepayers to veto any particular class of licences. Certainly we should. This is not a Licensing Bill, and we should be most happy to allow the people, as the landlords are allowed at the present moment, to suppress any particular kind of licences, leaving all others untouched. Then the hon. Member for Perth went on to speak of injustice and absurdity, and complained that the Bill did not contain provisions as to sacramental wine, and he drew a terrible picture as to what would result in regard to sacramental wine if the Bill were passed; but there are nearly 200 parishes in Scotland under the prohibitionary law put in force at the instance 1632 of the landlords. What about the sacramental wine there? Is there any saving provision in that respect in the general law? It is also the same with regard to medicines. There are 200 parishes in Scotland where you have a prohibitory law in force; is there any difficulty in obtaining spirits for medicinal purposes there? The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire spoke of strangers arriving at Oban, and being unable to obtain liquor; but there are many beautiful places in Scotland where prohibition is in force, and if tourists want liquor they must carry it with them or do without it. We do not propose any untried experiment. What we propose is that the power that already exists in the hands of the landlord, which has been attended with beneficial results, should be extended also to the people. I think my right hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment (Mr. Baxter) said that the Bill stood in the way of the Government carrying out their intentions. Well, I should like to see the Government display a little more vigour in carrying out their intentions. If they cannot carry a Bill through the House, they might, at least, enforce the law as it at present exists. At Peter-head recently the confirming magistrates recommended the granting of certain licences, although there was not the statutory quorum present. The magistrates and the Excise authorities conspired to allow liquor to be sold without a legal licence, and when I called attention to it the Lord Advocate winked at their proceedings. Other cases of the same kind have been brought to my notice. It is not only the Lord Advocate who will not enforce the law in. the interests of temperance. I have called the attention of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) to the subject. The law lays it down that the Controller of Licensing, the gentleman in charge of the Licensing Department in Scotland, is subject, under Act of Parliament, to a penalty of £500, and to incapacitation from holding office, if he wilfully allows persons without proper licences to sell drink. But when the Secretary to the Treasury was asked, what action the Government intended to take upon the case I have just mentioned, the reply was that no action at all would be taken. Well, is this not suspending the law against the interests of temperance and in the interests of intemperance? It makes me very 1633 doubtful about any speedy prospect of the Government carrying out any intentions they may have. I have heard of a certain place which is paved with good intentions; and much as I admire Her Majesty's present Government, and much as I respect the late Government, I believe that both Governments have contributed not a little to the pavement of that place. Therefore, I think that my hon. Friend has acted wisely in bringing forward this Bill now and trying to push on the Government and stimulate them to do something; and I wish them to understand that until they take up this question they shall have no peace. I do not tie myself to all the details of the Bill; but I am willing to back almost any Bill for the sake of protesting against the inaction which has characterized two successive Governments in dealing-with the burning question of intemperance in Scotland.
§ MR. COCHRAN - PATRICK
said, that, while he agreed that his hon. Friends had proved an overwhelming case in favour of legislation, he was not altogether sure whether they had touched the point now really under the consideration of the House—namely, whether the measure introduced was the only measure, or even the best measure, for producing the effects which they all desired to see. He ventured to think the public opinion in Scotland was very strongly in favour of legislation upon this subject, and he thought that they had arrived at the stage when it was absolutely necessary that the matter should be dealt with by legislative interference. But, with regard to the particular measure now before the House, he thought there were some reasons which made it very doubtful whether it would really, if passed into law, have the effect which his hon. Friend expected. Experience had shown that prohibition not only failed in many cases to produce any effect, but in some cases, by the natural law of reaction, it actually had the effect of stimulating that which it was intended to suppress. The proof of that proposition existed in almost every volume of the Statute Book with regard to Scotland. His second objection to the Bill was that it created a large number of new crimes. It added very largely to the statutory offences at present existing in the country, and made criminal offences out of acts which were 1634 not in themselves prejudicial to the community. If the measure were passed, it was perfectly certain that various harmless acts would be made statutory offences, punishable by penalties, while it would create offences in one part of the country out of acts which in another part, perhaps only half-a-mile off, would not be offences, and would be perfectly harmless, thereby introducing very considerable confusion in the mind of the people as to what were or were not offences; and from that point of view he thought it would be very unsatisfactory. He had several objections to matters of detail in the Bill with which he would not trouble the House. He hoped that the Lord Advocate was in a position to say that Her Majesty's Government would accept the obligation which was laid upon them by the vote of last year. If they would supplement the promise in the Queen's Speech, and say that they were going to deal with this question as a part of Local Government, in which way alone it could be dealt with satisfactorily, he should be content to accept their promise. On the other hand, if the Lord Advocate was not in a position to give the promise, he felt that he would not be justified in opposing this measure, which would be the only measure between them and the great evils now existing.
§ MR. A. GRANT
said, he thought the Bill contained so much that was objectionable and otherwise unwarrantable that he was obliged to withhold his support on the second reading. He could not go so far as this Bill, and insist that steps should be at once taken to place in the hands of what might be a bare majority the power of total suppression of the sale of liquor in any locality. At the same time, he was of opinion that some Parliamentary interference had become necessary in order to check and discourage the drinking habits of so many of the people, which were the fruitful source of so much misery and crime, and by which the industrial classes of this country were so heavily handicapped in their competition with other countries. While he could not approve of the method which his hon. Friend had taken of dealing with the difficulty, he was bound to say that he fully recognized that his aim was a desirable one; and he was not prepared to say that the extreme temperance party, 1635 who were the promoters of this measure, were wrong from their point of view in taking their stand upon total suppression as the object to be aimed at, because it was often very useful to establish a high ideal, although there might be almost insurmountable difficulties in its being realized. Local Option, or local control, as he, and, he believed, the great majority of hon. Members understood it, did not mean, as the Bill expounded it, the right of a majority to say to a minority they should not drink, but it meant the right of the inhabitants of a district, by means of Boards elected by a majority of the ratepayers, to control and regulate the liquor traffic within the bounds of their districts; and if they thought that a public-house was, or was likely to become, a centre of temptation and of demoralization — in fact, a public nuisance—that they should be entitled to say they would not have it set down in their midst. But then came the question for the practical politician. Taking things as they are—"How far is Parliament likely to go, and how far is Parliament likely to have the support of public opinion in meeting the views of the temperance reformers?" Was it wiser to insist upon the right of total suppression, and nothing less than total suppression—to insist upon the whole of the Bill, and nothing but this Bill—or to limit their claims to what Parliament was more likely to grant, and to accept that as a step in the right direction, remembering that, if the assumptions of the temperance party were true, every step gained made the next step more easy. He did not believe that public opinion in Scotland, notwithstanding what had been said on the subject, was prepared to give the right of total suppression even of public-houses in any locality, far less the right of total suppression of the sale of any stimulants whatever. Public-houses, no doubt, with the attractions which they offered, did lead to misery and to abuses. He quite admitted that in many localities they were far too numerous; but their total suppression must necessarily involve a very considerable amount of inconvenience and of hardship upon those who at present made use of them, and who had no other intention but to make use of them in a moderate and temperate manner. He dared say that that view would not approve itself to the supporters of 1636 the Bill, and they would think it unreasonable and heterodox; but it must be remembered that it was the duty of Parliament to give consideration to the wants and wishes and interests of others besides those in favour of total suppression, even although they might be in a minority in some particular parish. This Bill was framed on the lines of the Permissive Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, although he might say in passing that in many of its provisions it was much more drastic than that formidable measure. The last time the Permissive Bill was discussed in Parliament was in 1878, and the result of the discussion was that 84 Members voted in favour of the second reading and 278 against. They had been told to-day, and he frankly admitted it, that upon that occasion he formed one of the minority; but he must say that the result of that Division, accompanied with his observations since of public opinion throughout the country, had convinced him that the time had not yet come for such drastic legislation, and that public opinion in Scotland was not ripe for the acceptance of such a Bill. They could not at one stroke, by an Act of Parliament, all at once revolutionize the tastes and habits of a community. It was no use to legislate ahead of public opinion. Legislate abreast of it it they liked; but all measures to anticipate it as this did must inevitably end in failure. He might be asked what he had to suggest, as he admitted legislation was necessary; and his answer was that it seemed to him that a scheme with a basis of Licensing Boards to be elected periodically by the inhabitants of each locality, the localities to cover the whole of Scotland, would probably meet with some acceptance. Of course, the locality, to be of any use, would require to be of considerable extent. Probably the burghs and counties would be the limit; but these limits would have to be fixed by statute. These boards, he thought, also might have allotted to them the funds arising from the issue of licences, and they might be allowed even to fix the amount of the licences, subject to a prescribed maximum, in order to prevent its being fixed at a prohibitory figure. They might also be trusted with the duty of reducing the number of licences when they thought it was to the public advantage, 1637 subject to a fixed minimum to be laid down by Parliament. There was then another matter that might very properly be left in the charge of these boards, and that was the regulation of the hours during which public-houses should be left open. Any curtailment of the hours during which they were allowed to be open must result in a corresponding curtailment of the temptations which open houses afforded; but a curtailment of hours would do more than that. Nothing came out more clearly in the evidence given before the Lords Committee on Intemperance than the fact that it was in the late hours far into the night that the greatest mischief was done; and he believed that any movement for shortening hours would meet with the support of large numbers of the community who were by no means willing to go the length of the extreme and heroic remedy proposed by his hon. Friend. Further, it appeared from the evidence on intemperance taken before the Lord's Committee that many of the publicans themselves viewed a restriction of the hours of opening with favour; they were not all fiends in white aprons, as temperance lecturers were so load of describing them. Many of them were respectable citizens, anxious to do all they could to keep themselves and their business as respectable as possible. He would not occupy the time of the House by criticizing the details of the measure; but he might point out that the proposal for arbitrary stoppage of the liquor traffic by a small majority was far in advance of the present measure; and he might also point to the expense that would be required for the additional police superintendence that would be necessary, which it was proposed should come out of the police rates, although these might be contributed to by districts outside which had no desire to adopt the Act. The sketch he had put forward might be good or bad, but certainly it was not reconcilable with the method proposed by his hon. Friend, though both their objects were the same. It was because his hon. Friend's method was unreasonable, unsound, and unworkable, because the provisions of the Bill were far too arbitrary, because the Bill, if it became law, would defeat its own object by its stringency, and lead to constant violations and evasions of the law, and, what was as bad, would create 1638 a sympathy with the law-breakers; and last, though not least, it was because he was certain that the Bill had not the support of public opinion throughout Scotland that he was compelled to refuse to support the second reading, and must give his vote in favour of the Amendment.
§ MR. J. A. CAMPBELL
said, he believed they all felt the greatest sympathy with the general object of the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this measure. They all recognized the evil which the hon. Member endeavoured to grapple with; but their objection to this Bill was that upon the whole it would not work to the interest of temperance reform. That was his own conviction. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) expressed approval of the Bill, and his readiness to support other Bills in addition; but he thought that in dealing with a question of this kind they ought to be careful what legislation they favoured. The greater the evil which had to be dealt with, the more care they ought to exercise as to the remedies they supported, and they ought to see that those remedies were likely to prove successful. The question really before the House was whether this Bill was worthy of support? The principle of the Bill was that, where the Act was adopted, there would be the absolute prohibition, of the sale and disposing of alcoholic liquors within the district for a period of three years. That was a great step, and if the Bill did not take that step, it did nothing whatever. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow said that what this Bill proposed was not an untried experiment; but he thought he was mistaken in saying so. It was true there were districts in Scotland where there were no public-houses; but that was the case in parishes where there were but small populations, or where the population had only recently become considerable, and the prohibition that was there exercised was, he thought, against new houses being licensed, rather than against old ones being continued. It was also said that landlords had done in their own parishes all that was proposed to be done by the popular veto under this Bill; but he was not aware that in any part of Scotland landlords had taken so great a step as was proposed under this Bill. Exercising one's own judgment 1639 on the probabilities of the case, he should say that, if this Bill were carried, the law would be sure to be evaded, that reaction would certainly set in, and that the result would not in the long run be favourable to the cause of temperance. For one thing, the community which adopted this Act would never have confidence that it would continue to be adhered to. However large the majority that was required, they could quite understand that the Act might be adopted by a close vote, and in such cases there would be the feeling that at the end of the three years the vote might be reversed. When the vote was reversed what was to happen? Were all the public-houses which had been closed three years before to be reopened? Reference had been made to the moral effect of the Bill; but the Bill was not a practicable measure, and if it was not practicable he did not see that it would have that moral influence which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan) predicted for it. He would prefer some legislation which would be more certain to effect some measure of good, even although the change was not nearly so great as what was proposed under this Bill. He agreed that great good might be effected by a reduction in the number of licensed houses. He did not exactly understand the position taken up by the hon. Member who moved the second reading of the Bill when he said that if there was not to be a total abolition of public-houses, then there ought not to be a few only, but what he called a reasonable number of them. There was need for more popular control—popular control to support, and in some instances to guide, the action of the magistrates. He could not agree with the right hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Baxter) in regard to the representative local bodies being intended to supersede the magistrates. He would look upon the representative body as supporting and co-operating with the magistrates, but by no means superseding them. He hoped that this extension of popular control, which was really wanted, might be secured by some measure of the Government, under such conditions as would promote temperance without attempting anything so impracticable as was proposed by the Bill now before the House.
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR)
I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan), who submitted this measure for the consideration of the House, owed us any apology for bringing under our notice a Bill relating to Scotland alone. He gave us some very good reasons for following that course, and others might be added. It is undoubtedly the fact that in the matter of temperance legislation Scotland has been very materially in advance of the other parts of the United Kingdom—at least, so we think in the North. We have had for over 30 years a Sunday Closing Act, which, I think, it is agreed upon all sides has worked' exceedingly well, while it was only two years ago that Wales obtained a similar Act. Ireland lately succeeded in securing a like provision of partial application, and is seeking to have it in full; while England seems a considerable distance from getting such a measure even now. That is only one instance, and others might be given, showing that this matter is very well fitted for being dealt with for Scotland apart from the other portions of the United Kingdom. There is another reason which, to those of us who are supporters of the principle of Local Option, would be sufficient for the course which my hon. Friend has taken in submitting a Bill applicable only to Scotland, and that is that the regulation of the liquor traffic is eminently a local question. It is a question which the House has more than once affirmed may very well be dealt with by local or territorial communities very much smaller than such a unit as the Kingdom of Scotland. So far I should entirely go with my hon. Friend in holding that it was right to bring under the consideration of the House a measure dealing with Scotland alone, if it was not possible to comprehend other parts of the United Kingdom in it. I would, further, go with him in a very great deal that he said in the earlier part of his able and very interesting address. He repeated what is set out in the Preamble of the Bill in regard to the consequences, if not strictly of the traffic in intoxicating liquors, at all events of the excessive consumption of them, and, beyond all doubt and question, there is a very close relation between these two things. I quite agree that the vast mass of the crime of the 1641 country is due to that cause. No one whose duty it has been for a long time to take part in the administration of the Criminal Law of Scotland can doubt that this is the fact; and although I never compiled any actual statistics on the subject, I cannot suppose, from my observation, that my hon. Friend is far wrong in saying that nine-tenths of the crime of the country is due to that cause. It is a most melancholy experience for anyone who is concerned in the administration of the Criminal Law to observe the criminal offences of all sorts and kinds which are clearly, and I think I may say exclusively, traceable to drink; not only the crimes committed under the influence of drink— crimes of violence—but crimes of stealth and of fraud, and of all sorts. Stealing to obtain the means of drinking, and offences of every description, are committed by persons whose moral sense has been degraded and debased by indulgence in drink. So that I entirely assent to what my hon. Friend has said in regard to the necessity for legislation on this matter. This is a point upon which the Government have already very clearly announced their opinion, because on the occasion of the discussion on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), last year, it was declared in most emphatic terms. But we have not only to be agreed in regard to the desirableness —I might say the necessity—of legislation with respect to such a matter as this; we must be 'further satisfied, before assenting to a particular measure, that it is the best that can be devised for carrying out the object as to which we are all at one, and that it is not accompanied with unnecessary drawbacks or defects. Now, while agreeing with a great deal that my hon. Friend has said, I must, on the part of the Government, say that we are not able to assent to his Bill as it stands; but that, on the contrary, we shall give our support to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker). It is quite superfluous at this time, when the Bill has been so fully discussed and so long in the hands of Members, to point out what it does. It has been shown that, by a direct plebiscite or popular vote, it proposes to do one thing, and one thing only— that is, totally to prohibit the sale 1642 of liquor within the area over which the vote is taken. Now, that would appear to be a very strong thing, viewed by itself, apart altogether from the means by which it is intended to be brought about. It is a very singular—one would say almost an anomalous—result that, without arming either the people, or any board intermediate between them and the holders of licences or traders in drink, with any power of diminishing or regulating the number of houses, there should be but one thing offered without alternative—that is, total prohibition. The objections to that have been so well pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth, that I should feel it altogether superfluous to repeat what he said. But it has been expected, and quite rightly, that some declaration should be made on the part of the Government as to the view that they take of this matter, and the course that they propose to adopt with respect to it. Now, Sir, a declaration of that kind was made last year in as clear terms as it was possible to use, and to that declaration the Government still adheres. The Prime Minister, on the occasion of the debate which took place in April last year, following the Home Secretary, said that—The views of the Government are settled in this matter. We are not in favour of deciding Local Option by means of a plebiscite, and we are not in favour of creating a separate local authority for the purpose of settling that question and no other But we are strongly in favour of creating all over the country—as is already done to a considerable extent in municipal boroughs—trustworthy representative bodies, commanding the confidence of local communities; and to those trustworthy bodies, so chosen for local purposes, we desire to commit the high and important function of determining this question."—(3 Hansard,  1365–6.)Now, Sir, that is as clear and distinct a declaration of the view of the Government as can possibly be given, and that is the view which I hope and believe the House will agree to accept, as expressing and giving effect, in the fullest manner, to the true principle of Local Option. Some of us may think that that view involves a fuller, freer, and more Constitutional trust in the people, and a more proper mode of ascertaining the wishes of the people, than is contemplated by this Bill. We are familiar in all other Constitutional relations, both 1643 Imperial and local, with representation — with ascertaining the views of the people, and then giving effect to them through representative bodies, greater or less, from this Parliament downwards to the different local boards, which we hope to see increased throughout the country. This being so, a very strong case will have to be shown by those who propose to depart from the familiar and Constitutional mode of ascertaining the popular sentiment, and giving effect to the popular will. Now, has any such case been shown here? I submit it is quite the other way. It has already been pointed out that this Bill, so far from providing for doing a great many things—because a great many things may be necessary to be done in respect to the liquor traffic—provides only for one; whereas if you have your popularly-elected board, elected by exactly the same constituency as would vote in a plebiscite, you have the mind, the will, of that body quite as truly reflected, and if that will be for total prohibition, then the action of the board would be in accordance with that will. If it were not, a restriction of numbers might be desired, and if so, then the board would carry that out. A regulation of hours might be required, and if so, that would be carried out by the board. In short, you would have, by means of such a board as I have indicated, the power of doing everything exactly in the way the popular will desired, and it would not be limited and restrained by one hard-and-fast provision such as exists in this Bill. It would be flexible, manageable, and familiar. I know the objection has been urged against a board of that kind, that unless it were chosen for the sole object of dealing with the liquor traffic it would not be satisfactory. In short, it has been urged, even by those who differ from my hon. Friend, and say we do not want a plebiscite, that we must have a board elected for this purpose, alone; because it is suggested that there might be considerations which would lead to the electors voting for particular persons other than how they would act in the question of the liquor traffic. Now, that is quite an intelligible argument; but I venture to submit that it has no real substance and force. A great many duties are confided to popularly-elected boards such as town councils and the local boards which many of us— 1644 probably most of us—-would desire to see in the counties ere long. They have to deal with every other matter regarding the health and morals and general well-being of the people. This has been quite rightly represented as largely a sanitary question, and as a moral question also. It is just one of those things in which the community may very well desire to be governed according to its own views. There seems to be no reason why in this matter it should not be governed, according to its own views, by a body which it had itself chosen. As to the argument that there might be other considerations coming in to dictate the selection of candidates, I think it pays a very poor compliment to gentlemen who hold strong temperance views. I am sure those who use that argument do not mean to say that an advocate of temperance is likely to be a worse man of business than anybody else, and, therefore, less eligible than others for discharging the general duties of the board. One would expect that it would rather be the other way. Therefore, I cannot doubt that in the case of any popular election there would be no lack of candidates who would be quite in harmony and sympathy with the prevalent popular opinion in regard to licensing, and yet capable of discharging all the other duties confided to local bodies. Men would be none the less capable of looking after the lighting, drainage, and paving of their locality because they had views in harmony with the popular mind on this particular question. Therefore, there does not appear to be any ground for separating this particular matter of local self-government from the other matters of local self-government, and I put it to the House whether the view expressed by the Prime Minister as to the mode of accomplishing the object which we are all anxious to achieve is not the most practical one. Something has been said on the subject of delay, and it has been remarked that the Government should be stimulated. If the Government needed stimulus it would be quite right to apply it; but I hardly think that passing a Bill which did not commend itself to the judgment of the Government, or, as I believe, to the House, would be the proper kind of stimulus to apply. Discussion is quite a proper thing—such an interchange of opinion as we have had to-day; but it 1645 would be better, although all of us should regret delay even for a Session, to have a good Bill, even at the expense of that delay, rather than to have a Bill now which is not a good Bill. These are the main considerations. I wish, however, to recall to the recollection of the House on this matter of alleged delay what was said last year by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the discussion to which I have already referred. He said—We are all agreed that this is a matter that ought to he dealt with, and ought to be dealt with without delay."—(Ibid. 1307.)But the House knows very well that there are forces of delay too strong for the Government to have combated—so far, at all events, as to have enabled them to present their Bill this year. For this they are not responsible, and I can renew the assurance given a year ago that the Government have this matter still before them, and that they will not allow any avoidable delay to elapse in presenting to the House a measure which shall, in their judgment, be the best kind of measure for giving effect to the large principle which underlies my hon. Friend's Bill—that is, the principle of allowing the popular voice really to control, and to control in the largest sense, the traffic in intoxicating liquors. In support of his view as to a plebiscite, my hon. Friend who moved the second reading of the Bill referred to plebiscites which had been taken, with reference to proposals relating to gas, water, burgh funds, free libraries, and the like. Some people seem to think that there is magic in the word plebiscite; but, after all, it simply means a popular vote. Here my hon. Friend proposes to confide the vote to the electors—that is, to the same people who would vote in the election of such a Board as I have indicated, so that if he likes the term there would be nothing to prevent his calling it a board elected by a plebiscite. But there are great differences between the cases of free libraries and the others to which reference has been made, and a case like the present. These are all cases, I think, speaking from recollection, in which the question is put to the community—Shall you, or shall you not, bring a particular measure into operation in your locality—for example, shall you adopt the Free Libraries Act? That is a thing done once for all. But 1646 that is not the proposal of this Bill. It is a thing to be done from time to time. It is not a plebiscite to bring a local board into existence which shall deal with this matter. There is not to be any local board; but every three years a vote is to be taken on this matter, so that I think the hon. Member will find it not easy to discover Constitutional analogies for dealing with a matter of this kind, which eminently affects the well-being of the community in a different way from that in which all other similar matters are dealt with. My hon. Friend spoke of trusting the people, but I need say nothing more about that, because the proposal of the Government is eminently to trust the people not only in this, but in all matters affecting their welfare; so that it is not a conflict between an exclusive or despotic and a popular mode of regulating a particular traffic. Both the methods proposed are popular. The Government are in entire harmony with my hon. Friend in regard to the large principle, although they are unable to go with him in regard to what I may called the secondary principle which he has endeavoured to carry out by this Bill. I think it important that we should have a Division upon this Bill. It is of great importance that the voice of the House should be expressed in this matter, and that such an opportunity as the present for ascertaining the views of Representatives from Scotland should not be allowed to go by. I shall not detain the House further; but I may say that it does appear to me that the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) was not quite happy in the analogy he sought to draw between the existing licensing authority or the licensing authority contemplated by the Government and an irresponsible and non-elected body. If the Government had been proposing an irresponsible or non-elected body, his criticism would have been intelligible; but it is not a question whether it is to be an elected body or not. It is a question—How should the popular will be ascertained; what is the best mode of ascertaining it, and giving effect to it? There were some criticisms upon the existing law which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow also passed, which were, perhaps, not very germane to this discussion. He made some remarks with regard to the case at Peterhead, in which 1647 he must have forgotten himself for a moment when he said that I had winked at shebeening, and refused to enforce the law. I am sure, on further consideration, my hon. Friend would not have wished to make use of such language.
I did not wish to say anything offensive. What I wished to convey was that a breach of the law had been committed, and the law was not enforced.
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR)
I am quite sure my hon. Friend did not mean anything offensive; but if I recollect the case aright, it was by no means a case calling to be dealt with by the Criminal Law. It was not a case in which any crime had been committed. It was a question whether a particular licence had been duly confirmed—a question proper to be tried by a civil, not by a criminal, proceeding. In regard to the prevalent opinion in Scotland on this point, I should say that opinion is all in favour of having local control applied in this matter, probably even to the extent of total prohibition if a particular locality should desire it. At all events, the propriety of allowing total prohibition would be very fairly within the range of consideration in settling the provisions of the Government Bill. But, on the other hand, there is not a prevalent consensus of opinion in favour of the particular measure advocated by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgowshire; and, therefore, on this occasion we would do well to adopt the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth, which recognizes very clearly the urgency of the call for legislation directed to give local communities an effectual control over the drink traffic, but declares that the House does not consider it expedient to proceed with a Bill which gives no other remedy than total prohibition.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had been much pleased by what they had just heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, not only as to his intention to oppose this most un-' reasonable and absurd Bill, but as to the intention of the Government to bring in legislation of a more reasonable kind. At an early period of the day he had proposed to speak on this question; but at this time he only wished to make a few remarks, as he wanted to see the Bill voted upon. He wanted to 1648 see a measure so unreasonable as this not hung up before the country another year, and permit the fanatical section of the temperance party to say—"The Bill is quite a reasonable one, and the House of Commons has not ventured to oppose it." He wanted it to be shown that the House of Commons was not prepared to accept a measure of this kind at all. A great deal had been said during this discussion about 200 parishes in Scotland, and that this Bill was intended to do nothing more than what the landlords were doing for these 200 parishes. There could be no greater delusion than that. It was well known that grocers' carts travelled the country and delivered liquor at houses to whoever asked it; but if this Bill were carried they would be unable to do anything of the kind. The Bill compelled the Sheriff to draw a cordon of 10 miles around a district. After that cordon was drawn it would be possible for 10 per cent of the householders to compel the Sheriff to take a plebiscite. Now, in a population of, say 800, there might be only 60 householders, and 10 per cent of these 60 meant 6. Supposing the plebiscite was decided by a majority of 1 — from that moment there was no more selling of liquor in the district or bartering or disposing of it. He would like to know what "disposing of liquor" meant? It could not mean selling it. because that was provided for already. It could not mean throwing it away in the streets, because that would be an infringement of existing laws. Under this Bill as at present drawn all measures and utensils used in the liquor trade could be immediately confiscated upon its becoming law. It would be possible, therefore, for a small population in that way absolutely to stop a great brewery or distillery. If the owner attempted to sell any of his large stock of stuff it would be immediately seized and confiscated under this Bill as it was drawn. That was a very different thing from what was done in the 200 parishes in Scotland which had been talked about. He would not go further into details, but he might say the Bill was very unjust in a great many matters. It drew a distinction in which the advantage was all on the side of prohibition and the disadvantage on the other side. But what he principally desired to point out was what the public opinion on the matter was in Scotland, 1649 English Members of the English temperance party might be induced to vote for this Bill because they imagined the Scotch temperance party wanted it. He would tell them what took place last year when the Bill was before the House, but the day was never reached for discussing it. The promoters of the Bill, who were a fanatical section of the temperance party in Scotland, deluged the House with Petitions; they deluged Members with Memorials, with letters, and with post cards, he might say almost by the bushel—threatening Members that if they would not vote for this Bill, or if they ventured to vote against it, that-no vote of theirs would be again given to them. They endeavoured in every way to convince Members that it was the wish of the people in Scotland to have that Bill. Well, after all this had taken place, and the public excitement had been got up about the Bill, no day was reached for discussing it, and the Bill was withdrawn. What happened then? The hon. Member for Linlithgow would do' well to consider this. No sooner was the Bill withdrawn than a new deputation came up from the temperance party in Scotland, not for the purpose of singing Jeremiads over the lost Bill—quite the contrary— they came here to denounce the hon. Member for Linlithgow and all his works. They told Members that that Bill of the hon. Member for Linlithgow and the agitation that had been got up about his Bill had done immense harm to the temperance cause in Scotland. [Mr. M'LAGAN: No, no.] They told him so; perhaps they would not tell the hon. Gentleman (Mr. M'Lagan). They would, no doubt, like to make things as pleasant as possible for the hon. Member for Linlithgow. They told him plainly that the hon. Member for Linlithgow had done great harm to the temperance cause in Scotland, and he believed the present Bill was calculated to do so. He, for one, did not want to do any harm to the temperance cause in Scotland, for he was as much in favour of it as any of the fanatical members of the party. All he wanted was a reasonable measure, and as the one now before -the House did not come up to that standard, he was compelled to oppose the secend reading.
§ MR. ERNEST NOEL
I will not detain the House but for a very few moments, 1650 because I am very anxious to come to a Division. My chief reason for desiring a Division is because I think that if the Amendment which is now before the House be carried, it might have as strong an effect as if the Bill itself were passed. This is a Temperance Bill, and though I am not a teetotaler myself, I am one who wishes to see the temperance cause prosper, and I believe the passing of the Amendment would do a great deal of good, because the Resolution moved by the hon. Member for Perth is really a strong Temperance Resolution. If we are able to understand one single word in that Resolution, we must draw this conclusion from it, that it asserts that there ought to be given to the different localities an effectual control over the liquor traffic. Now, I want to ask, Sir, what is meant by an effectual control? Whenever we have to deal with the question of Local Option, I find everywhere the same haziness as regards what is meant by the term. Local Option, as I understand it, means giving to the inhabitants of a district the power either to control or withhold the sale of intoxicating drinks. That seems to me to be the ordinary meaning, and I am sure that is what the hon. Member who has moved this Resolution means. The hon. Member intends to give to the people of a district the power to say whether they will withhold altogether or only restrict the sale. That being so, I am perfectly content with the Amendment, for that is what I want to give them. I care not one fig for the Bill itself. My name is on it, and I shall vote for the second reading; but, at the same time, I do not care the least for the details of the measure if I can get some-tiling else which will carry out my views and give to the people a control over the liquor trade. I do not kow whether I should not be prepared to vote for a measure brought in even by the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) himself, if he would undertake to give to the localities an effectual control over the liquor traffic. I advocated at one time the appointment of Boards for that purpose, but that proposal was not accepted. People said—"We are boarded to death; we will try something else." I noticed that there was a certain vagueness in the speech of the Lord Advocate on the question of Local Option; but the hon. and learned Gentleman did say that 1651 it might be possible that, in arranging the Government measure, permission would be given to go so far even as prohibition. Let the Government say that definitely, and I, for one, will counsel my hon. Friend to withdraw this Bill and to accept frankly and fairly the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perth, it being always understood that effectual control means the power of the localities to prohibit the sale of liquor. That is, in fact, all we want. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr-Ewing) has talked about the terrible nature of the proposal to give such a power to the majority, or of handing it over to the mob, as he terms it. I can only say that I was not aware that the majority of all the ratepayers could be called a mob. All we wish for is that a locality itself should have the real and effectual control, as regards prohibition as well as restriction of the liquor traffic, and if we gain this we do not care by what precise means our object is accomplished.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he considered the question was a very difficult one. He understood the Lord Advocate to say that the Government Bill would give to the existing local authorities the power of control, and even that he would go the length of giving them the power of total prohibition. There already existed in Scotland in the hands of the Justices some large measure of local control to the extent, he believed, of refusing to give any licence whatever. But if they gave to the local authority the power of going the whole length of total prohibition, they would upset the whole community in regard to matters of equal importance. If there was a question of total prohibition, what he might call liquor politics would run so high that they would overwhelm everything else. The man who did not take the popular view with regard to that question would not be allowed to serve his country in any other way whatever. He, however, thought the principle underlying the Bill of his hon. Friend was a good one, because it did not favour partial prohibition, but proposed to touch rich and poor alike; and he should therefore vote for the second reading as supporting the principle of the measure. At the same time, he admitted the Bill was open to a good many objections. In the first place, he did 1652 not think public opinion in Scotland was yet ripe for a measure like this, and even if it were passed he feared it would be some time before it came into operation. It would be totally impossible to deal with small localities under the Bill. Not only burghs, but whole counties, would need to be embraced to make it work efficiently. He could not help thinking that lodgers were liable to suffer an injustice if they were not allowed a vote in conjunction with the householders, and he also felt it was highly inconsistent to totally suppress public-houses, and at the same time to allow grocers to sell wine, beer, and spirits in any quantity. He was himself in favour of total prohibition, and was quite prepared to sacrifice his own glass of whisky for the benefit of the community.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he was glad a Division would be taken, because, no doubt, the House would then throw out this ridiculous Bill. He disliked both the Bill and the Amendment; but the former was supremely absurd. The renunciation of intoxicating drinks did not appear to have had a very beneficial effect upon the mind of the hon. Member for Linlithgow, judging from the terms of this Bill. The word "district" was freely used in the Bill, and he should like to know what it meant? He feared that under this measure it would be possible to form the boundaries of the districts according to the localities in which the prohibitionists principally dwelt. They were to have some sort of chequered division—the black, the districts where drink was to be sold; and the white, the districts where it was not. It had never entered into the minds of the supporters of the Bill that there might be coterminous districts, and that an unfortunate man who happened to want a drop of whiskey would be unable to get it outside his own district because he would find that the districts overlapped one another. Whether they considered the geography or the unsocial propositions of the Bill, the case was supremely and ridiculously absurd. The important matter before them now was what was the policy of the Government? What had been the policy of the Government? They announced in the Queen's Speech their intention of bringing forward some grand scheme of Local Government, in which the regulation of 1653 the traffic in intoxicating liquors was to be included. But they had entirely changed their minds, and in the Address to the Throne they carefully eliminated any reference to this question. Then they found the Lord Advocate put forward to make excuses. It was cruelty on the part of the Government to use so good a man for making excuses on such a Bill. He was put forward to say that some embodiment of this Bill would be brought forward this Session. The Government knew that by bringing in a ridiculous Reform Bill and a London Government Bill they had blocked the way of bringing in a County Government Bill; and, in fact, that they never intended to deal with the liquor question at all. The Government had shown so many changes of front on this question that they would have a good many people to account to when the General Election came. He (Mr. Warton) had been charged in some mysterious way with being the advocate of the licensed victuallers. He was prepared to protect the rights of individuals, no matter to what class they belonged. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, just before the last General Election, wrote a letter in which he almost promised compensation to the licensed victuallers. He should like the right hon. Gentleman to recite that letter with the statement now made by the Home Secretary. The licensed victuallers had all along considered themselves entitled to the goodwill of their business, and the hon. Member for Linlithgow had shown that that goodwill was of considerable value. The licensed victuallers were as respectable a body of men as any in the country, and when they saw the course the Government were now taking they would consider the sort of Government that was to reign over them in the future. He was very glad in the meantime that the Lord Advocate had torn the Bill to pieces to a certain extent, and had said the Government could not support it. He regretted, however, the sanction the Lord Advocate had given to Local Option. The House had now to choose between two evils, and they must choose the smaller, and therefore he would support the Amendment.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
I hope I may be allowed to say one word with reference to this Bill, especially as I am 1654 the first Englishman to take part in the debate.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
I beg the hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon for forgetting his nationality. I was at the moment under the impression that I myself was the only English Member who had risen. I agree very thoroughly with the remarks which have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ernest Noel) to the effect that what is wanted is that the inhabitants should have an effectual control over the liquor traffic. We do not care how this is brought about. We are not going to quarrel with the Government, or with anybody else, as to how it is brought about, so long as this effectual control is obtained by the people, and they are not compelled to have the traffic thrust upon them when they do not want it. Let me just point out how the case stands with regard to the Government. The House will remember that it has three times passed a Resolution in favour of the people being invested with the power which the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan) desires to give them. The first of these Resolutions was to the effect that this was a desirable thing; the second was considerably stronger than the first; and the third was to the effect that the House considered the matter one of urgent necessity. This Bill is simply the supplement of those three Resolutions. The House has decided the matter to be urgent; but unfortunately the Government, who alone can carry a Bill of this nature through the House, have not yet seen their way to bring in a measure to carry that Resolution, and those which preceded it, into effect. I am not going to blame them on this occasion for their delay, although I think the country is very much dissatisfied to see that delay. No one can say that I have hurried the Government. I have not even asked a single Question about the liquor traffic all this Session, but I have left them alone to carry out their scheme for dealing with the liquor traffic. After I have waited so patiently, and after the country has waited so patiently, I think there will be considerable surprise that the Lord Advocate did not say he would support a Bill which would simply carry out the Resolutions I have referred to— 1655 which would simply and solely and clearly carry out those Resolutions. [The LORD ADVOCATE dissented.] I see that the hon. and learned Gentleman shakes his head, but he cannot deny the propositions I have stated. We looked to the Government simply to support the principle of the Bill, leaving the details to be arranged as they liked in Committee; but the Government say they cannot find it in their hearts to do this. I am sorry for it, and I think the country will be sorry for it also when they road his speech. But, whatever happens, the friends of temperance in this country may be well satisfied, because if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) is carried, the House will thereby declare it to be of the utmost importance that local communities should obtain an effectual control over the liquor traffic. The hon. Member for Perth asks for large and comprehensive measures. He wants something more than a Bill of this kind; he is a glutton. I do not blame him for that; only I think he is rather like a dog in the manger, in that he will not let us have our little measures because he cannot get his big measure. I shall certainly support my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan), who has brought forward the most honest and straightforward Bill on this liquor traffic ever introduced into the House of Commons; but even if the Amendment is carried, the friends of temperance ought to be satisfied, because the House will then declare that the localities ought to have that effectual control which has so long been asked for by the people of this country.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
observed, that the arguments against the Bill had been so conclusively put that he need not try to add to their force. But he wished to ask the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) to have the courage of his opinions, and to ask his constituents whether they approved his support of a Bill which, if passed, might deprive 487,000 of his constituents on the 1st of next September of all means of procuring liquor. The hon. Member had had his name on no fewer than nine Liquor Bills during the last few years. Would he go and tell them what he had done, and see whether they would give him their assent?
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 148: Majority 83.—(Div. List, No. 87.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
said, after the Division he hoped the House would not be asked to proceed further. The Amendment was a very objectionable one, as it was virtually the Resolution, or something like it, which was proposed on a former occasion by the hon. Member for Carlisle. It was impossible to ask the House to agree to it without discussion, and only five minutes remained before the hour at which the debate must stand adjourned. Under these circumstances, he had no alternative but to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Mr. Thomas Collins.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 113: Majority 49.—(Div. List, No. 88.)
§ Question again proposed; "That those words be there added."
§ And it being after a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.