§ Order for Second Reading read.
*MAJOR E. R. JONES (Carmarthen, &c.), in rising to move the Second Reading of the Bill, said, there was cause to regret that the fortunes of the Ballot should have placed a Bill of such deep interest and far-reaching importance in his prentice hand. He had only one qualification for moving the Second Reading of the Bill, and stating the case on behalf of his countrymen: he was in earnest in the business. Indeed, he was depressed by the thought that the principles of national temperance and popular control, which were wrapped up in this Bill, might suffer from his want of experience, and the rest. On the other hand, he was encouraged by the remembrance that he was addressing the most generous Legislative Assembly in the world, and that the principles, and even the very terms, of this measure had found acceptance, advocacy, and endorsement from both sides and from all sections of the House. It was always good in a contest to get behind some one bigger than yourself: he was one of the few men in the House who could do that; and he would do it during the course of his remarks. They were all agreed in deploring the evils of intemperance; they only differed as to its extent, its influence upon the national life, and how to deal with it. While he would desire to avoid as far as possible the introduction of controversial matter, it was only fair to say that some of the best thinkers and best men condemned the use of any alcohol whatever as a beverage. Sir William Thompson said—
Of all people who cannot stand alcohol, the brain workers can do so least.
And another eminent authority, Sir Andrew Clarke, said—
Good health will always be injured even by small doses of alcohol, injured in the sense of its perfection and loveliness. Alcohol, even in small doses, will take the bloom off, and injure the perfection and loveliness of health, both
mental and moral.… When I think," added this great medical authority, "of all the terrible effects of the abuse of alcohol, I am disposed to give up my profession, to give up everything, and go forth upon a holy crusade, preaching to all men, 'Beware of this enemy of the race.'
These are the opinions of men of science, accurate thinkers, whose mental vision is not likely to be blurred by sensation or mere sentiment. From every profession and department of life came convincing proofs and arguments of the evils which flow from intemperance. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill), speaking of the licensing system of the country in the House three years ago, said that—
It was difficult to over-estimate the magnitude of the evils which arose from the excessive consumption of alcoholic liquors by the people.
The noble Lord continued—
Crime, poverty, and misery of every kind have been authoritatively and directly traced to the excessive consumption of alcohol.
And the allegations were proved up to the hilt by extracts from the various Reports of Committees appointed to examine into this question. It had been stated by a painstaking authority that two-thirds of the pauperism, three-fourths of the crime, and one-half of the insanity of the country—not to speak of the suffering and privation which are on the borderland of pauperism — and the cruelty and brutality which escape criminal prosecution—are due to drink. This was a result owing largely to the haphazard licensing system, for which the thrifty taxpayer had to pay, directly or indirectly, £25,000,000 a year. Again, those facts and figures took no account of the time that was lost to excessive drinkers which might be devoted towards educational work and general culture, through the aid of extension lectures and evening classes in town and country. No computation was made of the loss of strength and energy and superior skill to the producing power of the country. He asked the attention of hon. Members, especially those who were engaged in the over-sea trade and in great home industries, for a few minutes. Every now and again the claims of what was called Protection were advanced in that House and in the country in the supposed interest of British commerce. The competition with this country in the markets of the world was becoming more keen and formidable every
day. He, too, was in favour of Protection, not in the form of a duty upon Canadian wheat, and Hungarian flour, and Spanish ore, and American beef, but in the shape of a Ballot that would enable the workmen of the country to say, "We will do away with the pitfalls of drunkenness which lie across our paths." We will curtail the operations of the liquor traffic, and keep it, when needed, in the hands of respectable men; we will protect our minds and bodies from the insidious influence and the brutalising effects of drunkenness, and respect ourselves, and families, and children; aye, and enter the competition with our Continental rivals upon even terms." That, he humbly suggested, was the only protection that the people of this country were at all likely to accept from any Leader or any Government of this country. Now, let them examine for a moment how did they compare as a people in the matter of sobriety with the great manufacturing nations of the Continent. Germany, as hon. Gentlemen were aware, was one of their keenest competitors in foreign markets, not only in respect of a large variety of manufactured articles, but even as ocean carriers. The German vessels came to their very gates for freights and for emigrants. What were the habits of the people of that country? He quoted from the Special Reports of American Consuls, made a few years ago, and covering every country in the world. The Report said—
The excessive amount of beer consumed by the working men and their families undoubtedly does tend to stupefy and make them sluggish; yet it is seldom you see one exhibiting symptoms of intoxication.
Unfortunately, the word "seldom" did not apply to any part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, it was not necessary to single out Wales in the application. Belgium was another of their formidable competitors, not only in foreign markets, but in London and everywhere throughout the country. Well, what said the Consul at Brussels? He said—
As a rule, the labouring classes of this country are sober, industrious, and economical. They certainly drink a great deal of light beers, but rarely to intoxication.
Drunkenness is rare—almost unknown,
said the Consul for Marseilles. Let them now turn to their own country for
comparison, and see themselves as others see them. The Consul for Manchester, in a comprehensive Report, from which he was quoting, said—
I am satisfied that drink leads to more suffering than any one cause among operatives, or, in fact, more than all other causes combined. Its evil effects, socially and morally, are very disheartening to all philanthropic workers among the labouring class.
Well, they wanted to lift this great question out of the domain of philanthropy, and hand it over to the apostles of self-respect and self-reliance. And now he came to his last quotation from these valuable Reports. The Consul for Wales that was, stated that—
At the monthly and other periodical fairs, held for the sale and purchase of agricultural produce and a great variety of wares, as well as for the purpose of hiring and engaging servants for the ensuing year, there is a great deal too much drink taken, with consequent immorality. Again, in the mining districts, and among the iron workers, drink has been a social curse and a national loss.
"National loss" was a significant expression; it meant loss of time, loss of skill, loss of energy, loss of strength, loss of self-respect, and a serious loss in quality and in quantity to the producing power of the country. No responsible thinker would pretend to deny that the facilities for drinking were too numerous. Lord Aberdare, when Home Secretary as Mr. Bruce, after the most conscientious, fair and painstaking inquiry and consideration, provided in the Bill which he introduced that in boroughs there should be one public-house for 1,500 people; for under 3,000 inhabitants, two houses; under 4,000, three houses; and one public-house for each additional 1,000 inhabitants. In counties, for what many would consider to be good reasons, Mr. Bruce provided for one public-house for 900 people; under 1,200, two houses; under 1,800, three houses; and one additional house for every 600 people after 1,800, Unfortunately, the Bill, which provided for the reduction of houses, did not pass into law; and the conditions were practically unalterable. There was a public-house for every 250 of the inhabitants; and when they deduct the total abstainers, who were numerous, the number of inhabitants to each house would be still fewer. For upwards of 300 years the magistrates had exercised the power of grant-
ing licenses; and they had gone from bad to worse under this irresponsible authority. Drunkenness and poverty and crime had gone on increasing; and, with the possible exception of Russia, they were the most intemperate people on earth. The magistrates in counties were appointed by the Lord Lieutenant (a most irresponsible authority) generally for political service; and the Great Unpaid passed the favours along for corresponding reasons. This, of course, would be denied; but in their secret thoughts, hon. Members would know that he was stating the case fairly. When introducing the Corporation Reform Bill of 1835, Lord John Russell stated that the Town Council or Committee of that Body—
Would be less likely to abuse the power of granting licenses than magistracy, in whose case the robe of Justice is sometimes employed to cover a great enormity of abuses,
And Lord Howick, the present Earl Grey, spoke equally strongly to the same purport during the Debate on the Bill of 1835. He said—
If the distribution of alehouse licenses were left in the hands of the magistracy, it might be made a vehicle of a great political power, which would probably be exercised for political purposes.
Well, what these illustrious noblemen dreaded in the towns was really what took place in the counties. Why the appointment of magistrates was a piece of unparalleled tyranny? He was not for blaming one party more than another so far as this Kingdom was concerned. But so far as it concerned the Nonconformist Liberals of Wales it was a petty tyranny which humiliated and exasperated the people to the verge of riot. Well, it was proposed by this Bill to give the people, the Electorate, supreme control over this licensing question, and make the authority, whatever it might be, the mere execution of the people. It would be competent for the Town Council in the case of a borough, or for one-tenth of the rate-payers in any vetoing district, to demand a poll for or against the adoption of the following resolutions: First, "That the sale of intoxicating liquors shall be prohibited." To carry and give effect to the first resolution a two-third vote would be required. The second resolution provided "That the number of houses shall be reduced." A majority of votes would be sufficient to give force to
that resolution. And the third proposition was "That no new licences shall be granted." This also might be carried by a majority vote. He would not at this time go further into the details of the Bill. It was tolerably well understood by friend and foe. It was carried in the last Parliament by a majority of seven votes; 187 voting for it, and 180 against it. He certainly counted upon a larger proportional majority to-day. They were not asking the House of Commons to make experiments. The principle of Local Control was in practice in several of our colonies, as well as in many of the United States, where Local Control was the rule and the results beneficent. He was of opinion that the second resolution, that which provided for a reduction of the number of licenses, would be the one most generally put in force in the Principality when this Bill became law. And it would result in retaining the licenses of honourable licensed victuallers and in cancelling those held by people of questionable repute. Surely that was what all of them would desire. It was a fiction — an audacious fiction—that licenses were granted to supply a public want. Surely the people—the inhabitants—best knew their own requirements; and should be allowed to pronounce upon them. He had said that they were not asking Parliament to make experiments. They knew the beneficent results which had followed prohibition in a thousand instances in parishes and on estates in this country. But surely if the individual landlord might by an act of well-meant tyranny prohibit the sale of alcoholic liquors upon his estate, then the great bulk of the community should have a right to determine the question for themselves. The representatives of the Welsh people were practically unanimous in asking for the Second Reading of this Bill by such a majority as would give it the necessary momentum to carry it on to the pages of the Statute Book; and in this, at all events, they faithfully reflected the wishes of the constituencies. He appealed to English Members not to defeat them upon a question of local concern. Liberal Unionists, Tories, Nationalists, and Liberals had abundant points of difference. Let them unite in conceding the demand of Wales for an opportunity to promote sobriety, thrift, self-
interest, and commercial prosperity. They might safely trust the people to act with fairness and generosity. There was no safer foundation whereon to risk legislation than the common-sense and matured judgment of the people. They had never betrayed their country; even in industrial contests it could not be fairly maintained that they had crippled enterprise or ruined trade that was wisely and well established. And if in foreign affairs, through their public meetings and influence, they had brushed away the fantastic cobwebs of diplomatic error, and had saved the Government and the country from blunder and its humiliating consequences—if their instinct and common-sense had been right in foreign affairs, surely they could be trusted to deal with a question of a purely local character. He had great pleasure in moving the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Major Jones.)
§ MR. EDWARDS (Radnorshire)
said he rose to support the Motion for the Second Reading. The first question they had to ask themselves was whether there was a demand for the Bill in the Principality of Wales? Well, they knew that 31 Liberal Members out of the 34 Members for Wales and Monmouth were pledged to support the measure. Behind the 31 Members there were innumerable Tory voters in the Principality who were most anxious that the Bill should pass. Temperance societies were numerous and powerful in Wales, and their Members consisted not only of Liberals, but of Tories. There could be no question about the demand for the measure in the Principality. It was asked, "If there be a demand, should it be granted?" It seemed to him they had already admitted the principle of the Bill in other matters. If the people of a neighbourhood so wished they could give themselves Free Libraries, Public Baths, and other local improvements. If the majority in a neighbourhood signified their desire for these boons they could have them. The people were permitted to decide that they would establish Free Libraries to improve their minds. Then why should they not be allowed to say that they would abolish public-houses 100 to prevent the ruin of their minds? It might be said that the existence of drinking establishments did not compel them to destroy their minds, but it might as well be argued that men might improve themselves without Free Libraries. The question was one of facilities. It was much easier to avoid ruin when there were no facilities for it. On what ground were licences granted? They were not granted because the Magistrates required them, because it was well known that Magistrates took good care that licences were not granted for houses very near their own houses or in places where they would injure their our property. Surely, whether licences were wanted or not was a matter on which the people were better able to decide than the Magistrates. The Magistrates might be very excellent men. He had nothing to say against them, but it must be remembered that the Magistrates owed their official existence, so to speak, to the Lord Lieutenant's action, and not to the choice of the people, and, that being so, he maintained that Magistrates did not represent the people in respect to licensing. In Radnorshire, which he (Mr. Edwards) represented, there were about 105 Justices, of whom only three were Liberals resident in the county. That was a pretty good proof that the Licensing Authority did not represent the public, for nobody needed telling that Radnorshire was thoroughly Liberal. This Bill would give the people power to say whether they would have public-houses in their localities or not. If they wanted them, then no harm would be done by the Bill, but if they did not want them they would be able to say so, and to close them. The promoters of the Bill did not quarrel with the publicans. The publicans were carrying on a hard trade to the best of their ability; but it must be borne in mind that public-houses were supposed to exist for the public convenience, and, if that were so, let the public settle the question. There were three alterations under the Bill—public-houses might be reduced in number, the granting of future licences might be done away with or public-houses might be entirely closed in a given neighbourhood. No doubt the Bill would curtail the liberty of some people; but that was nothing new. Liberty was curtailed in Wales by Sunday Closing, 101 and by the shortening of the hours during which public-houses might remain open. If there was Sunday Closing at the will of the people, why should there not be Monday closing at the will of the people? It was the fashion to say that Sunday Closing in Wales had been a failure, but that he most emphatically denied. He could take the hon. Members to a mining village in South Wales which, before the Sunday Closing Act came into operation, was the scene of the most disgraceful and drunken spectacles, but where now Sunday was soberly and decently observed. He did not wish to labour the matter. He had risen in order to support the Bill, believing as he did that it would prove a great boon to the Principality.
§ SIR WILLIAM MARRIOTT (Brighton)
I rise to move—That this House declines to read this Rill a second time as no compensation is provided for those who may be deprived, under its operation, of their licenses without any judicial decision as to their disqualification to continue their lawful business.No exception can be taken to the speeches of the two hon. Members who have just spoken. I am sure there is a great deal in both those speeches with which every hon. Member of this House will entirely and cordially agree. We are all fully aware of the evils of intemperance, but we are not here to-day to discuss the evils, but how to combat them and diminish them. There, I think, we come to the dividing lines of opinion upon this subject, and as it seems to me the division appears to be this, that according to one party, that to which my hon. Friends belong, the only way of curing the evil is to take away temptation; and that according to the other party, to which I belong, the way is to give people facilities and the means and teach them to resist temptation. I think I can show the House that the attempt to remove temptation has failed, and that we must rather look to the resistance of temptation than to any such drastic measure as the one now proposed to be read a second time, and which, in my opinion, would defeat its own purpose. During the latter end of the present century drunkenness has enormously diminished among all classes. It is not too much to say that at the beginning of the century drunkenness was a fashionable vice, and that 102 the rich people were more addicted to excesses than their poorer brethren. At the Universities, also, drunkenness then prevailed to a very great extent, but now I think it will not be denied that a drunken undergraduate is somewhat rare, and that drunkenness as a vice has practically ceased amongst the upper classes. Why is this? I think that the reason can be found in the general advance in this country of civilization and education, and that greater facilities are now given for sports and healthy games. It may be asked, does this apply to the poorer classes? To a very great extent it does, but one great factor which has led to the diminution of drunkenness is the better dwellings which have been provided for the working classes. I venture to say that in this respect the Conservative Party have done a very great deal. [A laugh.] The hon. Member may laugh, but I can show that what I say is correct.
§ MR. ARTHUR WILLIAMS (Glamorgan, S.)
I laughed, because I am bound to say that much as I approve of better dwellings I do not think that 30 years of the opposite Party has provided them.
§ SIR W. MARRIOTT
I think the hon. Member is mistaken. I may refer to the Artizans' Dwellings Act, which was brought in and supported by this side of the House, and to the first working men's dwellings, opened in person by Mr. Disraeli. One great thing for the working classes is to give them comfortable and healthy homes. Lord Iveagh himself has given the noble sum of £250,000 in providing better homes, and Mr. Peabody and Mr. Waterlow have also contributed liberally —more than £2,000,000 having been spent in this manner. I only wish that a great deal more could be done in this direction, for I have always advocated that one great thing towards making people sober is to give them pleasant homes. Suppose a man lives in one room with a family of four or five children. The place cannot possibly be always kept clean and comfortable. When he conies home from work in the evening he wants the same thing that people in our position want—he wants recreation, and if he cannot find that in his own home he will seek for it in the glaring gin palaces and public-houses 103 where every comfort is provided, and where he can go in and get drink and find amusement. The counter attraction to this is to be found in better homes and in greater facilities for amusement. I think if we go back 30 or 40 years we shall find that the working classes had very few games indeed. Cricket was almost the only game in which they took an interest, but now on Saturday afternoons thousands and tens of thousands may be found either engaged in or on-looking at a game of football. Facilities for such games as this will, I am convinced, do much to lessen the excess in drink. I think the facts show that drunkenness in England has diminished; certainly in England in proportion to the increase of the population, but I am not so sure that it is not on the increase in Wales. [Cries of "No, no!"] This diminution had been brought about, as I have said, by the provision of better homes, by the advance of education, and by further facilities for amusement; but the hon. Members who had just spoken desire a far more drastic method for stopping the evils of intemperance. The Bill they have introduced is certainly a more drastic measure than even the Government Bill, the First Reading of which has passed this House, and which extends to the whole of the United Kingdom. I should like to call the attention of the House to two or three clauses of the proposed Bill. By the second clause a two-thirds majority of the inhabitants can prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors entirely in any given area, a bare majority can reduce the number of licences, and another bare majority can say that no new licences shall be granted. By Clause 13, if the first resolution is adopted, it must remain in force for five years whether the people get tired of it or not, the second resolution may be altered in two years. If a resolution be passed in favour of the reduction of licences that decision cannot be reversed, but, two years afterwards, another resolution may be passed declaring that there must be a still greater reduction. If a third resolution be adopted no further poll can take place. Therefore, if, say, a town with 2,000 inhabitants decides that no new licences shall be created, and that town increases in population to 10,000, which is quite possible in a manufacturing dis- 104 trict, no new licences, however much they are required, can be granted. Unless the Act be absolutely abolished the same state of things would prevail even if the population increased to 100,000. I should like know if the drafters of this measure have had their attention directed to this clause, which practically introduces a prohibition law? Wales has already tried her hand at legislation on this subject. The Sunday Closing Act for Wales was passed in 1881. One hon. Member who spoke in support of the Second Reading of the present Bill said that that Act had proved a success. That may be true in one way, but I think the result of the Commission that sat in Wales was to prove that it had been an absolute failure—["No, no!"]—I do not know what hon. Members mean by success, but I conclude that success means diminished drunkenness in places where the Act applies. So far from drunkenness diminishing, I think I shall be able to prove that there has been far more drunkenness in Wales on Sunday since the passing of the Act than before. From 1877 to 1882—the six years before the Act came into operation—the total number of convictions for Sunday drunkenness was 4,068, whilst between 1883 and 1888—the first six years of the Act's operation—the number was 6,008, or an increase of 47 per cent. These figures, which are given in a Return presented to this House, speak for themselves, and they have never been challenged. Of course, it may be said that the increase is due to the extra vigilance of the police, but that will not explain it away. But there is another evil which has arisen out of the Sunday Closing Act, and it is one which, to my mind, threatens to become more widespread if the Bill now proposed becomes law. This Bill proposes to do away with licensed houses, and the consequence will be that, for every licensed house you do away with, two or three unlicensed ones will spring up. I know the danger of clubs. No rational man will deny that clubs, when properly conducted, are excellent things for working-men, as they are for richer men, but they must be governed on the principle that no profit is made by individuals out of what is sold for eating and drinking, and that any one who drinks too much is excluded. 105 But there are clubs which have been got up simply for the purposes of drink. In Wales there has been an increase in the number of convictions in respect of these bogus clubs, and also in respect of what are known as ''shebeens," which the police have the greatest difficulty in putting down. In the year 1882, the first year that the Sunday Closing Bill was in force, the number of convictions throughout the whole of Wales was 218, but in 1891 the number had risen to 349. If you take the three years from 1880 to 1882, the average number of cases was 230 a year. If you take the three years from 1888 to 1890, it was 356, being an increase of 54 per cent.
§ MR. CAINE (Bradford, E.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Commission reported in favour of the repeal of the law or ill favour of its continuance?
§ SIR W. MARRIOTT
I have not the Report before me, although I have the statistics. The hon. Member may bring the Report forward. But whatever the Commission reported they could not alter these facts, and the Report may not correspond with the evidence. I do not think the Reports of this House will always be taken as founded on the evidence.
§ SIR W. MARRIOTT
Oh, quite so; and I have not the slightest doubt that it was a perfectly fair Commission. Well, there was one town which was specially affected by the Act—the town of Cardiff. I find that in 1881, the year before the Act came into force, there was only one conviction, whilst in 1892 there were 397, the numbers having risen steadily every year. I am also told by travellers in Wales, that judging from what they see, drunkenness generally has greatly increased since the Sunday Closing Act came into force. I am told that people living near the borders go to places in England where the Act does not apply, and go back to their homes in anything but a sober condition. They are sometimes so drunk that they are unable to walk, and are found lying by the sides of the 106 roads. I will give the opinions of the Chief Constables of Cardiff and Glamorgan. The Chief Constable of Glamorganshire says—The Act was passed to reduce the extent to which Sunday drunkenness prevailed, instead of which it has produced quite the contrary effect. There is now more drinking on Sundays than there was before the Act was introduced. I certainly believe the increase in Sunday drunkenness disclosed by the Parliamentary Returns is a real and not merely an apparent increase.The Chief Constable of Cardiff was asked what had been the effect of the Welsh Sunday Act in Cardiff, and his answer was—It has greatly increased Sunday drunkenness. Councillor Sanders once asked me the same question at a meeting of the Watch Committee, and my answer then was that, while I could not then say what was the exact extent of the increase as disclosed by the Police Returns, I thoroughly believed it could not be less than 50 per cent.I could also read similar evidence given by ministers of religion and others and all tending to show that up to the present time, whatever the Sunday Closing Act has done it, it has certainly not succeeded in diminishing drunkenness in Wales. Personally, I have much greater faith in enabling men to resist temptation than in attempting to force upon them habits they do not like. I think that in such cases force will fail. It is far better to give facilities for being virtuous, than to try and make people virtuous by Act of Parliament. I cannot sit down without calling attention to what I think is the chief object in this Bill. It is all very well to be virtuous, and all very well to try to make other people virtuous, but we ought not to do it at the expense of third parties; and yet in this Bill there is not a word to show that any compensation whatever will be given. I am by no means sure that, if this Bill were to pass, it would do much harm to the brewers. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Gentleman who cheers seems to think that it would not make much difference in the sale of drink, and I think so too. I believe as much beer would be drunk as is drunk now; but it would be on unlicensed instead of licensed premises. The people who would suffer would be the publicans of Wales, and the question which arises is why they should suffer. We have had many great reforms passed during this century in Great Britain and Ireland, 107 but whenever a reform has been effected the principle adopted has always been that if individuals who are in a legitimate business and have a legitimate trade suffer for the good of the public they ought to be compensated. That was the ease when slavery was abolished, and this country, as we all know, paid £20,000,000 in compensation. Three of the earliest speeches delivered by the present Prime Minister in this House were in support, and very properly in support, of the giving of compensation to the slave-owners. It was in 1834 or 1835 that those speeches were delivered. Again, when purchase was abolished in the Army, the greatest care was taken that the vested interests of officers should not suffer, and that principle had, rightly, the assent of the whole of this House. Once more, when the Irish Church was disestablished, every care was taken that no vested interest should suffer, and no clergyman who had taken a living in reliance upon the existing law being carried out did suffer. Even when cattle are slaughtered, for fear that the public might suffer if they were kept alive, proper compensation is always given. I ask why the publicans are to be left out for the operation of this principle, and to have no compensation when they suffer in this manner. I will not rely entirely upon my own opinions; I will quote words which ought to have great effect in this House. Speaking on this question in the year 1880, the present Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said:—We ought not to allow our prejudices with regard to this particular trade, or our sense of the enormous mischiefs associated with its working, to cause us to deviate by one hair's breadth from the principles on which Parliament has always acted in analogous circumstances—namely, that where a vested interest has been allowed to grow up, the question of compensation should be considered when such vested interests were proposed to be interfered with by Act of Parliament.I know that some hon. Gentlemen entertain no such feelings, but that was the view of the Prime Minister in 1880, and it is not likely that he has changed it. The right hon. Gentleman also said on the same occasion:—When Parliament enacted negro emancipation, it was preceded by a preliminary resolution, in which the principle of compensation was recognised. My hon. Friend says we must wait till a claim for compensation is made. Parliament does not act on that principle. Where 108 the facts presented the possibility of such claim, the recognition of the possibility has, I think, taken place in the original proceedings of Parliament.Unless the Prime Minister has changed his opinions, I say he is bound to condemn the Bill which is now before the House. I do not think hon. Members opposite can have reflected on the amount of misery that would be entailed on hundreds and thousands of householders in this country if this Bill were carried. Why is the publican to be punished. He had done nothing but act according to law. If he transgresses the law, he can be punished, and nothing against that punishment will be said on either side of the House. But if he has, perhaps, as a young man, entered on his business believing that if the law is changed he will be treated as all other people have been treated under similar circumstances why should he now be thrown absolutely adrift without a business and without prospects? And it must be remembered that be himself will not be the only sufferer. Publicans marry and have families the same as other men do, and if this Bill be passed we shall have thousands of women and children starving because their means of livelihood will have been taken away. I am sure hon. Members opposite do not realise the feeling which is now growing up in the country against this Bill— not so much against this Bill, because this Bill is a comparatively small one, but against the Bill of the Government. But though this Bill affects a smaller number of people, it is much more drastic in its proposals, for the Government. Bill does at least allow the publicans three years' grace. I do not know whether much attention is being paid to the petitions which are being presented against the Government Bill, but they are coming in by thousands and tens of thousands. I myself, before coming into the House, was asked to do what I could in reference to the presentation of a petition signed by 12,000 people in Cardiff, over 6,000 people in Swansea, and thousands of people in other places. We also see the meetings which are taking place in London, and I wish to quote the words of a man who for many years was a highly respectable Member of this House, one of the most unswerving supporters of the Prime Minister, and a great personal 109 Friend of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said only yesterday—The present Bill is one for the confiscation of public-houses. Its clauses are conceived in a spirit of the harshest tyranny, and are unworkable and absurd.Those are the words of Lord Burton, who, like his father before him, long sat on the Liberal side of the House, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will bear me out when I say that there was no stronger supporter of the Prime Minister. I know what is in the minds of hon. Members opposite. They think, "Oh, he is a brewer," but I would point out that the brewers will not suffer even if this Bill should be passed. It is the publican who will suffer; and Lord Burton, in attending yesterday's meeting, was acting, not in his own interest but in the interests of the publicans. Lord Burton is a man of enormous wealth, and I do not think any Bill you can bring in will interfere much with it, but, being in that position, he is not willing to stand selfishly alone. I beg to move the Resolution which stands in my name.
§ BARON F. DE ROTHSCHILD (Aylesbury)
said, he rose to second the Amendment. He regretted that he was unable to support the Bill, for both as a landlord and as a Member of that House he was as strongly in favour of the promotion of temperance as he ever had been, and as ready to support any measure which would reduce the evil done by intemperance. There were two reasons why he could not support this Bill. In the first place it seemed to him that the Bill was inopportune, because it proposed to deal with only a part of the United Kingdom, while the Government had one affecting the whole of it. He held in consequence that this Bill ought not to be pressed forward until the House had been able to express its opinion on the merits or demerits of the greater Bill introduced by the Government. Then he had to point out that although the Bill had been ingeniously drafted it had been even more ingeniously drawn. It actually practised deception, if not upon the public at any rate upon those Members who were supporting it. He found on examination of the provisions of the Bill that one clause entirely overruled the other clauses. One clause 110 provided for the total closing of public-houses by a two-thirds majority, while another clause provided for partial restriction, for which a bare majority only was necessary. Supposing there were 50 public-houses in a borough, was it likely that when the ratepayers met they would vote for the total extinction of those houses, when by a bare majority they would be enabled to have 49 out of the 50 closed? In this regard the Bill was a perfect sham. Without entering into an argument on the subject, he declared that he was, and must always be, in favour of the principle of compensation. He looked upon the trade in beer or spirits as a legitimate trade. Even if every public-house in the country were closed the sale of beer would be carried on by the brewers, and would be a legitimate trade. The mere fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer taxed beer, and had an Excise duty on spirits proved that this was a legitimate trade. The talk about licences not being vested interests was mere words. It would be a shame and an injustice to close public-houses without compensation in the form of time or money. He opposed this Bill because he had the interests of temperance at heart. The capital sunk in the trade was enormous, as was proved by the fact that £ 120,000,000 were annually spent in drink, and if they wished to diminish the number of public-houses and remove temptation from the general public, they must in some way induce the persons most interested in the trade to come round to their views. If they closed public-houses without compensation they would have, as they had just now, the whole of that colossal trade excited in opposition to the proposal, and they would never be able to carry any temperance legislation.
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words ''this House declines to read this Bill a second time, as no compensation is provided for those who may be deprived under its operation of their licences without any judicial decision as to their disqualification to continue their lawful business,"—(Sir William Marriott,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."111
§ SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)
I only rise to say a word or two about the part which Cardiff experience usually plays in discussions on Sunday closing in this House. I venture to point out that the case of Cardiff has no bearing at all on the general effect of Sunday closing, and for these reasons: In the first place, Cardiff, which is by far the largest town in Wales, is situated absolutely upon a frontier line, or within a mile or two of the limits beyond which drink can be had to any extent, and every hon. Member will see that when a town is so situated, persons interested in breaking down a law like that of Sunday closing can easily set up arrangements, for working great mischief by promoting drinking immediately beyond the border. That I happen to know was done by persons opposed to the principle of Sunday closing and their action had a very bad effect. There is a far stronger reason why Cardiff is not a case that should be quoted in order to influence the judgment of the House in this matter, and that is that it is a very large seaport, containing within its limits a large number of foreign seamen. These men in many cases desire to obtain drink, and will obtain it by some means or other, and so shebeening arose and drunkenness occurred in the town. Cardiff also happens to have been made the centre of a not very fair agitation against the Bill; very special means were taken to excite public feeling against it, and I am sorry to have to say, in my opinion, to promote Sunday drinking by insidious methods for the express purpose of discrediting the Bill. Therefore, I do say that in this discussion the case of Cardiff ought not to be cited as proving ill-effects from Sunday closing in the principality. My right hon. Friend quoted statistics which, according to his version of them, tended to show that Sunday drinking had greatly increased under the operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales, but I am surprised that the acumen of my right hon. Friend did not enable him to see that his figures might be used for an opposite purpose. What he quoted were not cases of Sunday drinking, but of convictions for Sunday drunkenness, and the two cases are very different. When the Act was passed a good deal of opposition to its operation was shown in Cardiff and in other large towns in South Wales. 112 Great pressure was consequently put on the police to suppress attempts to get past the law, and the increased number of convictions in Cardiff has been due to the fact that the law has been enforced with greater stringency, and not, because there has been any increase of drinking. That is proved by the very first figure my right hon. Friend quoted when he said that in the year before the passing of the Act there was only one conviction for Sunday drunkenness in Cardiff, which shows that drunkenness was not attended to and convictions were not sought. It is not to be supposed that only one case of actual drunkenness occurred in a seaport town of over 100,000 inhabitants. It was not till the Act was passed that a lively interest arose on the subject and a demand was made that the police should perform their searching duties. It is for this reason, and for this alone, that the subsequent convictions for Sunday drunkenness were obtained in enormously greater numbers. I therefore suggest that if the House wishes to form a fair judgment, it should, for the reasons I have given, treat the case of Cardiff as exceptional, and not attach weight to it as an example of the normal effects of Sunday Closing in Wales.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
said, the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke had asked them not to use Cardiff as an argument in this Debate for two reasons; one, that it was a seaport town; and the other, because there had been a great effort there to create an agitation against the Sunday Closing Act. He insinuated, if he did not directly state, that drinking was got up to give a bad effect. Of course, he spoke with much greater authority than any outsider could possibly do.
§ SIR E. J. REED
What I intended to say was that organised facilities were given to promote drinking outside the town after the Act had come into operation.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN
said, he had no intention to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. He quite understood that that was the contention, but he would remind him of the fact that Lord Aberdare, who was strongly in favour of Sunday closing, inquired into the question thoroughly, and came away saying that he was bound to admit that 113 Sunday closing, so far as Cardiff was concerned, was a failure. Another reason why they were told that they should not select Cardiff was that it was close to the frontier. But that entirely gave away the whole case for the Bill. If this measure were passed it would create an enormous number of frontiers, which they believed would be subject to exactly the same inconveniences as Cardiff. He regarded this admission as a most valuable contribution to the Debate. He had read all the speeches made upon the licensing question during the last 10 years and had heard many of them, and he noticed that speakers supporting Bills of this kind appealed not to their reason, but to their sentiment, and assured them that intoxicating liquors were responsible for untold suffering. The Member for East Bradford (Mr. Caine) told them that drink was responsible for all the crime in the country. Their lowest estimate was that it was responsible for nine-tenths of the crime. If that was true, why not boldly grasp the nettle and abolish the use of alcohol altogether, instead of making these attacks upon the trade? Again, they had the wretched picture of squalid homes and starving families. No doubt intemperance led to those evils, and none more deplored their existence than he, and those who thought with him, did, and it was only because they doubted the efficacy of these measures that they opposed this Bill. The hon. Member for Carmarthen admitted that local option, or prohibition as they called it, had been tried in the United States. He would read an extract from a book written by a great authority. It was The American Commonwealth, of which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was the author. The passage would be found in Vol. III., p. 227, and was as follows:—It is the privilege of these unconscious philosophers to try experiments with less risk than countries like France or England would have to run, for the bodies on which the experiments are tried are so relatively small and exceptionally vigorous that failures need not inflict permanent injury. No people is shrewder than the American in perceiving when a law works ill, nor prompter in repealing it.This Bill was, as the hon. Member had pointed out, virtually a prohibition; but, as the right hon. Gentleman had written, no people were shrewder than the Americans in perceiving when a law was 114 bad. Prohibition had been repealed in nearly every one of the States in which it had been tried. The following figures, taken from the Foreign Office publication, No. 154 in the "Miscellaneous Series," might prove of interest:—Connecticut.—Proposed prohibition amendment to the Constitution defeated. Votes—for prohibition, 22,379; against, 49,974; majority against, 27,595.Massachusetts.—Similar amendment defeated. Votes—for prohibition, 81,724; against, 125,689; majority against, 43,965.New Hampshire.—Similar amendment rejected.Texas.—Vote taken at end of 1887; enormous majorities against prohibition.Pennsylvania, — Prohibition amendment rejected by 484,644 to 296,617. Writing before the vote, Her Majesty's Consul said: ' In view of the universal discussion of the question which has taken place, an adverse vote will crush for ever the idea of total prohibition in the State. Public sentiment has increased from day to day in opposition to all laws which may vex the citizen, and interfere with individual liberty of action.Rhode Island.—This State adopted prohibition as an amendment to its Constitution in 1886 by 15,113 votes out of 24,343. After three years' trial of the system, it has repealed it by 28.407 to 9,852."With regard to the Scott Act in Canada, the hon. Member for South Tyrone, speaking from personal knowledge, told them that—The general result of the recent elections was large majorities in favour of repeal in counties which had before adopted the Act, and that "where the Act had been tried, there appeared to have been the substitution of an unlicensed and unregulated for a licensed and regulated trade.These facts amply proved that in America prohibition had been a failure, and that they were quite right in protesting against the introduction of it into the legislation of this country. Precisely the same Bill was introduced two years ago, and they had been somewhat taken to task for the criticisms then passed upon it, as they wore told they should have been reserved for the Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley), in voting for the Bill on that occasion, said he did so only on principle, and left himself an absolutely free hand upon the questions of machinery and detail, by which the principle was to be applied. He noticed that the majority by which the trade was to be suppressed was two-thirds. Was not the noble Lord the Member for Paddington 115 far wiser when he required a majority of two-thirds of the ratepayers on the register, and not merely of those who voted, as proposed in this Bill? To show the spirit of animus in which the Bill was drawn, he would instance the provision by which, if the Bill was adopted in any locality, the decision could not be appealed against for five years, whereas if the decision in the locality was against adopting the Bill, that decision could be appealed against at the end of two years. This conclusively proved the animus actuating the framers of the Bill, and clearly showed that it was meant merely as an attack on the liquor trade. But there was another provision, clearly demonstrating how entirely and utterly unfair it was. It was argued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle that the people ought to have the right to exercise the power which many landlords used on their own estates, but he challenged hon. Members to give the name of a single landlord who treated his yearly tenants in the harsh manner suggested without compensation. In the case of the Irish tenants, it was argued that though they might be turned out of their holdings for the nonpayment of rent, it was a matter of the gravest injustice that they should not be fully compensated. The case of these tenants was advocated by many people in this country; but why should a different treatment be accorded to them than was proposed to be accorded to the publican who was to be turned out, simply and solely because he was a publican, without any compensation whatever? The right hon. and learned Member for Brighton had quoted the dictum laid down on the subject of compensation by the Prime Minister, given 10 years ago. It might be argued that the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to change his opinion in such a considerably long period, but he was the happy possessor of a letter, written so recently as November, 1891. Mr. E. V. Jones, of the Brunswick Arms, Reading, having, as a Liberal elector, written to Mr. Gladstone asking him some questions on the subject of licensing received the following reply:—Dear Sir,—I think you will understand that I am unable to correspond with all electors, or even all Liberal electors, on the subjects in which I am interested. I am compelled to refer them 116 to my public declarations; and, in so doing, at present I may add that I have never said anything which precludes me from considering the claims of the holders of licences to some allowance, if they are deprived of their licences in virtue of some power not within the scope of the existing laws.Your faithful and obedient,W. E. GLADSTONE.November 2, 1891.E. V. Jones, Esq., Brunswick Arms, Reading.He thought that, in view of such a declaration as that, the publicans were well within the scope of the right hon. Gentleman's consideration, but, unfortunately, they knew what the idea of the Government was upon this matter of compensation. It was three years in which to contemplate his ruin. The present Bill would not give him the shadow or an iota of compensation. After writing such a letter to an elector, the right hon. Gentleman, had he been in the House—and they all regretted the cause of his absence—must have voted against this Bill. The Bill was introduced solely as an attack upon the publicans. No one had as yet given them any figures or statistics, showing how, and to what extent, restrictive legislation had diminished drunkenness; and in the absence of these they were entitled to regard a Bill containing these unjust proposals simply as an attack on the trade. He was not interested in that trade, but it was because he believed that this was an attack upon the trade that the Bill was not conceived in a spirit of justice, and that those engaged in it were entitled to be treated justly, that he should vote against it.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, &c.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff had dealt with what the Mover of the Amendment had said about the effects of Sunday closing in Wales, and he intended only to add to what had been said on one or two points in connection with that branch of the subject. He believed that when the Report on Sunday Closing in Wales had been placed on the Table it was discovered, by a series of questions addressed to the Home Secretary of the time, that the figures were unreliable for several reasons. In the first place, a totally different form of statistics was used in different counties, and a fact which also affected the authenticity of the statistics 117 was that not only prosecutions for drunkenness on Sunday but prosecutions for Sunday drinking were included in the figures. Sunday drinking was an offence that had been created by the Act itself, and it was no indication whatever of the effects of the Act on the population of Cardiff that there were a number of prosecutions for Sunday drinking. The same thing had occurred in connection with the Coercion Act in Ireland. That Act had undoubtedly created new offences; these new offences committed had been added to the old offences, and consequently there had been a greater body of convictions. Then there was another reason for the increase in the convictions in Cardiff which had been lost sight of by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton. That was the enormous increase in the population of Cardiff. It had nearly doubled during the years to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded, and the increase had been greater in that class of the population which was least amenable to temperance influences. The old Welsh population of Cardiff were well under the influence of religious and temperance organisations, but another class of population had come into the town which was not under the influence of any organisation for the promotion of temperance. But what struck him with most surprise in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton was the fact that the right hon. Gentleman referred to all sorts of evidence given by witnesses before the Sunday Closing Commission which had been repudiated by the Commissioners themselves; but not a single line from the Report of the Commissioners was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. There had been a very relevant interruption of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in which it was pointed out that the increase in the convictions for drunkenness in several of the counties was attributable to the vigilance of the police. "I do not know anything about that," said the right hon. Gentleman. But he might have known about it. The right hon. Gentleman should certainly have read the Report of the Commission appointed by his own Party when they were in power. That Report, not only once, but twice and thrice, referred specifically to the increased vigilance of the 118 police as the reason for the increase in convictions. Instead of reading extracts from pamphlets written for the purpose of impeaching the Act, and based on rotten information; and instead of quoting cooked statistics, the right hon. Gentleman would have done better and more justly and fairly by simply quoting the Report of the Commissioners. One would have thought that the most important fact in connection with the Sunday Closing Commission was the recommendation of the Commissioners themselves. The question referred to those Commissioners was whether prohibition, partial or otherwise, was justified by the experiment already made in Wales. But the right hon. Gentleman never referred to the recommendations of the Commissioners on that point. So far from condemning the partial prohibition which had been already tried, the Commissioners proposed to extend prohibition in many respects. They desired to extend the principle to shebeens, clubs, and thebona fide traveller, so that the Report of the Sunday Closing Commission, so far from being damaging to prohibition, considerably strengthened it. He was perfectly amazed by the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. When this identical Bill was before the House before, the hon. Member went into the Lobby in support of it; yet the hon. Member condemned it to-day as a sham and imposture, and a deception on the public. Conduct of that description would be conduct of a very remarkable character were they not accustomed to hon. Members constantly preaching their sympathy with Liberal convictions and constantly opposing Liberal measures. That was what the hon. Member had done. The noble Lord the Member for Brixton had pointed out that the Bill of two years ago was identical to the Bill before the House, and yet the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had supported the one and condemned the other as a sham. But the action of the hon. Member in supporting the Bill was a complete refutation of his arguments against the present Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton had said that it was better to teach people to resist temptation than to remove temptation from their path. He (Mr. Lloyd-George) could not understand why they should not do both. The Bill included 119 both policies—it taught people to resist temptation and it removed temptation from their path. He found that the very men who talked about removing temptation were those who did the very least to enable people to resist temptation, while the men who devoted the whole of their lives to persuade people to resist temptation were the men who came to the House to ask for the removal of these temptations. If the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was driven to its logical conclusion, it came to this: that no legislation of any kind could possibly assist in the promotion of public morality. If they could assist in the promotion of common honesty, or any other principle of morality by legislation, why could they not assist in the promotion of temperance as well by the same means? The argument of the right hon. Gentleman simply led to anarchy, and nothing less. It was the principle on which anarchy was based—that they should appeal to the honesty of the people; to their self-interest, to their common sense, and not to the terrors of the law. But whenever a question arose which affected the interests of the class to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged, did the right hon. Gentleman then depend on the moral suasion—on appeals to the good-sense of the people, or did he merely ask them to resist temptation? No; in that case the right hon. Gentleman brought in a Coercion Act to carry out his object. The case of Ireland was very much in point here. In Ireland hon. Members opposite went in for coercive legislation to force the people to pursue the paths of honesty and morality. What distinction could they draw between morality so far as it affected honesty and morality—so far as it affected sobriety? All they contended for was this, that where they could get the co-operation of a majority of the people in the forcible removal of temptations to intemperance from their midst, they should avail themselves of it. Something had been said about America and the effect of prohibition in that country, but it was not necessary to go to America to see how the principle of prohibition acted. America was a new country that had not been completely organised, and new countries were not a fair test of how the principle would work in a country like this. In the district 120 in which he lived there were 15 parishes in which there, was no public-house. Each of those parishes would constitute an area within the meaning of the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. How did prohibition act in those parishes? Comparing them with contiguous parishes in which there were public-houses, he found that whereas; in the prohibition parishes there was only one pauper to 41 of the population; in the parishes with public-houses the proportion was 1 to 18. He had made inquiries, and was informed by the Superintendent of Police in a prohibition district, that there had not been one conviction of drunkenness of a resident in the parish during the 10 years he had been in charge. He had tried the prohibition parishes by every test, and he found that there the workmen were better off, that the farmers were better satisfied with the work done, that the population generally was more orderly, and that the material prosperity was much higher. He did not want to go to Maine or Canada, for within a day's journey of this House hon. Members could, test the effect of prohibition. In the immediate vicinity of the Penrhyn Slate Quarries were two parishes principally inhabited by quarry-men. In the one parish there was no public-house to 3,000 inhabitants, and two miles distant was a parish with 20 public-houses to 4,000 or 5,000 inhabitants. The contrast was most marked. The late Lord Penrhyn was once asked by a publican whether he would permit him to get a licence for a certain house in his district, and the reply received by him was, "You want to starve thousands of your fellow-workmen's children in order to keep two of your own. I will not do it." Much had been said about depriving publicans of their property, and the £20,000,000 paid to slave-owners was a favourite illustration. But there was the important distinction that the slaves were the absolute legal property of the owners. There was also this to be said: that the slave-owners fed, clothed, educated, and looked after their slaves; but what did the publicans do for the slaves of drink? Stripped them, despoiled them, destroyed them body and mind, reduced them to beggary and starvation! The slave system was maintained for the development of the cotton. 121 and sugar industries in our Colonies, and undoubtedly the slave system did build up those important trades. But was the drink traffic essential to any trade? The publican could remain in his house with bar and fittings, and all that the Bill would do would be to allow his neighbours to say the licence should not be renewed. In the "Sharp v. Wakefield" case there was a declaration of the law by three successive Courts that it was in the absolute discretion of the Magistrates whether licences should be renewed or not, and 28 years ago John Bright declared the same thing in opposing such a measure as this. There was no proposal to alter the law. As a fact, publicans had speculated on a succession of chances. Returns before the House showed that in the years 1890 and 1891 Magistrates did, in 525 instances, refuse to renew licences, and in three previous years they refused 401, and in a great many instances simply on the ground that the licensed houses were not required. He found that in Sunderland 10 and in Salford 14 licences had been refused on the ground simply that they were not required. Neither in law, practice, nor custom could the publicans establish their claim to compensation; they had nothing but the chance of renewal of licence annually; and if a class of traders speculated on chances, they must abide by the result either way. The principle of equity was invoked; but there were two equities—the equity for the public as well as for the publican. Where two equities were equal the law must prevail; and, assuming the equality of equity in this case, the law was a year's licence and no more. Besides, he who came with a claim for equity should come with clean hands; but how stood the case with the publican? The law had entrusted him with the responsibility of selling refreshments in a way not injurious to the people, and what had he done to discharge that responsibility? One hundred and sixty thousand convictions for drunkenness, 50 per cent. of our pauperism attributed to drink, and nine-tenths of the crime. The publican had chosen deliberately to break faith with the law; his hands were not clean, and his claim must be rejected. The Magistrates had not realised their duties in this matter; they had not administered the law as it was, and they had 122 imposed public-houses where they were not required. As the late John Bright said, "If a class fails, try the people." Let the Welsh people grapple with this evil, which had been the despair of the past, and which casts a gloom over the future of democracy.
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE (Sussex, N.W., Horsham)
said, it appeared to him that one of the greatest difficulties that must always beset any question of what was called local option was that they must have coterminous areas, with possibly different administration of the law in different areas. They must have a borderline somewhere. In one district they might have no licensed houses at all, and in an adjoining district they might have a superfluity of houses, and the experience along the whole of the Welsh border tended to show that those who wished to obtain intoxicating drinks would cross the border in bands and in great numbers for that purpose. He had said, and he repeated, that he thought that must always be one of the greatest possible stumbling blocks with regard to local option of any sort or kind. But he rose to support the Amendment in favour of what was known as compensation, and he did support that most heartily because it was a principle which had prevailed for years, that wherever the public advantage was sought at the sacrifice of an individual the public should make good what that individual suffered. It was a principle which they had seen again and again carried into effect. Where land was taken—where landed interests were interfered with for the public advantage, or for the creation of a railway or buildings necessary for a School Board were acquired, and, in fact, wherever the interests of the individual had suffered, he might look for some reasonable or fair compensation from the public. If the premises and the trade of the publican were to be interfered with for the public advantage on the ground that the house was no longer necessary for the requirements of the neighbourhood, then it appeared to him that the case came within the principle which he had endeavoured to enunciate, and which had been adhered to for many years. A bare majority in a particular vetoing area, as it was called, a majority of 50 to 49, might close all the houses but one, and that to him appeared to be a particular case where 123 compensation should be paid. He saw by the 3rd clause of the Bill that after 28 days' notice a ballot of a vetoing area might be taken. In six weeks the storm might break, and a man's livelihood be suddenly stopped. He thought that was a matter which should be paid for by those who were willing to promote such an object. It was true they did not compensate a man, whose occupation or lease of a house was only from year to year, on the same basis as where a man had a lease for 14 years, but they certainly most legitimately and lawfully took into consideration the prospect of his lease being renewed. What he contended was that the publican who admittedly held an interest that might be brought to a close at the end of any one year should be compensated on the footing that he might reasonably expect his licence to be renewed, and that he might reasonably hope to carry on his business without interference. In going into the question of the amount of compensation, and in looking to the requirements of the house, it was reasonable to take into consideration not only the wants of the inhabitants, but the wants of those who might reasonably use the house for business or pleasure. If the house was not reasonably required, the fact could be easily ascertained and tested by the man's books. If the house was doing no trade, then of course no compensation could be asked for or paid. That, he contended, put an end to the argument about the houses not being required. If the house was not required by inhabitants, or by passers-by, they had only to look at the books and see the takings, and they would then see that if compensation at all should be paid it could be only a very nominal figure. The hon. Member who preceded him (Mr. Lloyd-George) talked of compensating the publicans at their own figures and buying them out at their own price. But he was sure that no hon. Member who urged upon the House the justice and fairness of compensation being given to men who were deprived of their livelihood would suggest that it should be calculated upon any other than a fair and equitable basis. They readily admitted that every claim should be investigated, and that the compensation should be the measure of the real loss to the man, and not simply his own estimate of what he would lose. 124 Another further argument he wished to urge upon the House. If publicans were to hold their position by such a precarious tenure as the possibility of a vote being taken within a period of six weeks to suppress the hours, what class of men would they get to embark upon this trade? Was it not in the interest of everyone who sincerely desired to forward temperance in this country that public-houses should be kept by men who had a character and something else to lose? Ought they not to make it to the interest of the man to keep his house respectable, to encourage him to put down drunkenness, and to conduct his house so that it might be an advantage to the neighbourhood instead of a place that would do harm? If they legislated so that a man's livelihood might come to an end at a moment's notice by the vote of a bare majority, depend upon it they would not get a good class of men as publicans, but they would get men who would go into the business simply to make money in the shortest possible time, and be not very particular as to how they made it. To that class of man it would really not matter whether he was brought before the Magistrates and his licence endorsed or whether he was deprived of his licence by the vote of the people. Those who advocated temperance ought not to lose sight of that. One word more on the Bill itself. He most strongly objected to having two conflicting Local Authorities established in the different areas. In some places they would have the Licensing Authority hampered in every way, for they would be told what number of licences they should grant and what they should refuse. He contended that if the responsibility of deciding as to what houses were required by the necessities of the neighbourhood was to rest with the Licensing Authority they should not be hampered by a vote which practically said they should close 30 houses out of 50, leaving them to decide which houses should remain. If the popular vote was to decide that a certain number of houses should be closed it should also decide which houses should be closed, and they should not throw upon the Licensing Authority that invidious task. He should certainly oppose the Bill, which he considered exceedingly crude, most unlikely to work harmoniously and satisfactorily in the cause of temperance, and most decidedly unjust and 125 inequitable, from the fact that it proposed to deprive men of their livelihood without making them the slightest compensation for the ruin that would be brought upon them.
MR. J. H. ROBEETS (Denbighshire, W.)
said he very heartily supported the Second Reading of the Bill. He might remind the House that this was the first time he had had the privilege of addressing it, and although he was well aware that it had of late been called upon to dispense the prerogative of mercy very liberally, he was, nevertheless, sure that it would grant him that indulgence which it always afforded those in his position. He knew that in this Debate, as in all Debates, time was of the essence of the contract, and he would not even briefly have intervened in the Debate that day had it not been for the fact that he represented a large agricultural constituency, where a deep—he might almost say universal— interest was taken in temperance, and particularly the measure now before the House. It seemed to him that in discussing any temperance reform, either in the House or out of it, in these days the ground was materially cleared by the practical admission of two facts: First, the enormity of the drink evil; and, secondly, the cause of it. No one denied that the drink evil was the national curse of our country; that it permeated every nook and cranny of society; and that it was impossible to exaggerate the terrible consequences which flowed from it. Further, there was a practical consensus of opinion as to the main cause of this state of things—namely, a multiplication out of all proportion to the legitimate wants of the people of drinking shops in the length and breadth of the country. Commission after Commission had sat and inquired into this evil, and every Report issued had upon the face of it the recognition of the fact that public-houses were far too numerous, and must be greatly reduced before any material progress could be made in the direction of sobriety. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, in 1854, gave evidence before the Lords' Committee appointed to inquire into this question, and stated that— 126The enormous number of public-houses, which were out of all proportion to the legitimate wants of the people, must tend to increase the temptation.Here, therefore, they had the cause and the effect of the case in a nutshell, and the only solution of the problem lay in an immediate and a great reduction in the number of public-houses throughout the country. It remained, however, to be decided by what method or principle that reduction was to be brought about, and the answer by this time given by all parties and from all quarters was—by the principle of local popular control; and that was the principle embodied in the Bill before the House. Before referring, by way of emphasis, to one or two points upon the case of Wales as regarded this Bill, he would point out how this idea, or principle, of the direct popular veto stood at present from a general standpoint. It was a principle which, though held a few years ago by only the extreme section of the Temperance Party, had gained ground enormously of late, and it was difficult nowadays to find anyone who would oppose it on theory. Of course, the whole Temperance Party were pledged to it, and had been for years. The great Liberal Party had also recently adopted it, and made it a leading plank in its legislative platform, and the Government had boldly and bravely redeemed the pledge of its Party by introducing the Local Veto Bill for the whole country—one of the most important measures, he ventured to think, ever introduced into Parliament. And not only were the temperance workers and the Political Party favourable to them and pledged to this principle, but, strange to say, the other Party—a Party not renowned for its partiality to the temperance cause — was committed to the principle of the direct veto, if, indeed, its sentiments could be supposed to be expressed by its ornament and late Leader in the House of Commons the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. For what did the noble Lord say in 1891 in bringing in his valuable and very able Licensing Bill?—If in any parish two-thirds of the ratepayers on the municipal registers voted for the prohibition of the granting of licences, that vote should be operative against the issue of retail licences. On the face of it, it is not unfair when you find a large and preponderating majority in 127 any restricted area who desire to live under conditions which they believe conduce to order and morality—it is hard that a comparatively small minority should prevent them having their way.As to the application of the principle of the direct veto, to which the noble Lord so argumentatively pledged his Party, there seemed now to be no two opinions, and the only danger it appeared to run was that, from its astounding popularity, it should come under the imprecation, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you." But however rife public opinion might be generally upon this point, it was certain that the sentiment of Wales was far in advance of the sentiment upon it in any other portion of the Kingdom. How did the case stand in Wales? The case of Wales was not one of recent conversion. It had held this opinion as to the direct veto for many years. He had an able pamphlet written by one who was then—1866: 27 years ago—as happily now, a leader of Welsh thought and a fully-qualified exponent of the sentiment of the Principality. This pamphlet was a letter written to the United Kingdom Alliance in 1866, commenting upon the proposals embodied in the Permissive Bill then before Parliament, and pointing out that Wales was fully ripe for the application of the principle of popular control. The opinion of almost all Local Bodies, Town Councils, County Councils, and every kind of Local Association had been given in favour of this Bill. Also— and this was most important—the unanimous opinion of all the Dissenting Religious Bodies had been over and over again expressed in favour of the measure. And here they had the true cause of the exceptional maturity of temperance sentiment in Wales—namely, that it was and had been closely associated with religious work accomplished by the Nonconformist denominations throughout the Principality. What did the Census taken prior to the introduction of the Bill of 1891, of house-owners in Wales, prove? Take a few North Wales counties. In Anglesey, 89 per cent. were for the Bill, and only 7 per cent. were against it, the rest being neutral; in Carnarvonshire, 10,000 were for the Bill, and only 500 against it; in Denbighshire, 84 per 128 cent. were for the Bill, and only 9 per cent. against it; in Flintshire, the proportion was the same; and in Merionethshire, 83 per cent. were for the Bill, and 9 per cent. against it. Surely it would be difficult to beat this record of overwhelming public opinion in favour of any measure ever introduced into the House. He thought, too, the fact that this very Bill passed its Second Reading in 1890, in the late Parliament, in itself was a strong argument in favour of the Bill, for it seemed to mean that Parliament had made up its mind, whatever Party was in power, to treat Wales upon this question differently from any other portion of the Kingdom. Was it not a tribute to the strong case made by Wales at that time for this measure that this House, under the old dispensation, should pass such a Bill as this; and if that was done under the old Parliamentary regime, what will be done under the new? "If these things were done in the green tree, what will be done in the dry"? Lastly, they had the verdict of the polls at the last Election—31 out of 34 Members returned pledged themselves to support the principle of the Bill now before the House, or nine-tenths of the whole Parliamentary Representatives of Wales being cast in its favour. Before concluding he had only to emphasise what had been already said with regard to the action of the Welsh Members in pressing this measure to a Second Reading under the present circumstances. It had been hinted that this course showed a want of confidence in the proposals of the Government. Not at all. Their only object in pressing for this Debate had been to strengthen the hands of the Government in this matter. And for these reasons he contended that the almost unanimous desire of the people of Wales to exercise the power of this popular veto in itself went some way in commending the proposals of the Government to apply this principle generally. It was substantial proof that at all events one of the four Kingdoms was ready to receive the boon. It might be that this measure would pass into law before the general measure. If that were so—he stated it hypothetically— Wales would be a most convenient experimenting ground for England. This was the view of the hon. Member for 129 South Tyrone. Speaking in the Debate on this Bill in 1890, he said—I prefer voting for a sectional Bill rather than a general Bill, because we wish to see the experiment tried before we commit ourselves to a larger area. It has been tried with Sunday closing, and I am prepared to proceed in a similar way with this. The other night I voted with the Welsh Members in favour of letting the Welsh people have their way as to the Church establishment, and I should be inconsistent if I did not vote with them with regard to the establishment, or disestablishment rather, of public-houses.They all admired the love of the hon. Member for South Tyrone for consistency, and they did wish that this love of his for consistency had not a few days ago, when the Suspensory Bill was before the House, suddenly taken unto itself wings and flown away.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (interposing)
I had not intended to take part in this Debate; but allow me to say in regard to that vote that I did vote for the Resolution in favour of Welsh Disestablishment, and I am prepared to vote for a Bill to disestablish the Welsh Church, but I am not prepared to maim and cripple a Church which the Government do not intend to disestablish.
was glad to have brought out the intention of the hon. Member to vote for Welsh Disestablishment, which he would no doubt consider as a pledge which he would loyally perform. He might point out that this Bill was in some respects stronger than the Government Bill, for it proposed a third alternative in regard to local popular control—namely, the power, not only of refusing to grant more licences and to prohibit all facilities for drink, but also the power to reduce the number of public-houses in the districts. And some of them thought that without that provision it would be impossible to carry into effect the powers granted in the Government measure. In conclusion, he asked the House to pass the Second Reading of this Bill by a large majority, and by so doing it would express its intention of granting at the earliest date to the people of Wales a reform they had long and ardently longed for, and at the same time, he believed, take an important step for the promotion of the cause of temperance throughout the country generally.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
I think we English Members ought to be much obliged to the last speaker for the admission he has made. Up to the present time we have been told that this was a Welsh Bill and that we ought to consult entirely the opinion of Wales. But now we have it on the authority of the hon. Member that the object of discussing the Bill this afternoon is to strengthen the hands of the Government for the Bill they have brought in; therefore, every English and Scotch Member has as much interest in this Debate as the Welsh Members, who have taken 30 large a share in it. If that is the case, we have to look at the Bill and see what is in it. I do not believe the House desires to have an academic Debate on the subject of temperance. We are all agreed it is desirable that everything should be done to promote temperance throughout the country; what we are not agreed upon is whether this Bill is the right way to promote temperance, and more than that most of us, I hope, are of opinion that this Bill is both unfair and inequitable. I therefore object to it as affording an objectionable precedent and for other reasons; but I will endeavour to deal with the Bill as a whole. First of all, I object entirely to the consent of the House being given to the principle—or what I should call the want of principle—underlying the whole of the clauses of this Bill. We have been told that we have no right to discuss the clauses; that that is a matter for Committee; but after the admission of the hon. Member who has just spoken that they have no hope of getting into Committee [Cries of Oh, oh!" and "No!"] Well, then, hon. Members, I think, must have very sanguine ideas of what may happen after Whitsuntide. The Government have already taken private Members days—on Tuesdays and Fridays; they have suspended the Twelve o'Clock Rule, and taken Saturdays; so what regard art they likely to show to a Private Bill after Whitsuntide? Then, having regard to these circumstances, I think we are entitled to look at the Bill and show its faults and abuses on the Second, Reading. What is the opinion of the country with regard to this Bill? The hon. Member for Bradford—I refer to the ex-Liberal Unionist Member for 131 Barrow (Mr. Caine)—went down to my constituency and there endeavoured to obtain the suffrages of the constituency for Mr. Broadhurst on behalf of the great advantage of the Local Veto Bill? I do not think that gentleman obtained much advantage from that advocacy. At any rate, if he did he was most ungrateful, for in returning thanks to his supporters at the close of the poll he said he had been deserted by the temperance vote. We have also had another instance. We hare had the Gladstonian Member for Kennington (Mr. Beaufoy) declining to vote for the Government Local Veto Bill. One would have thought, when he offered to resign, that the Front Bench would have been so desirous to have tried to obtain some comfort after the Grimsby election that they would have sent there a Gladstonian without guile, and that they would have endeavoured to get one of their own supporters elected to support not only the Home Rule Bill, but the Local Veto Bill. But what did they do? They begged and implored the Member for Kenning-ton to retain his seat, although he could not vote for the Local Veto Bill. I think that shows votes are to be got for the Home Rule Bill whether the men are willing to vote for other measures or not. I wonder what the hon. Member for Bradford has to say to that? That is my reply to the remarks made by the boa. Members below me. But now I wish to turn to the Bill. Will hon. Members only look at Clause 13 of the Bill? What might be done under that clause? A poll might be demanded about six weeks or two months before the next licensing day, and that poll being taken, and the entire prohibition of public-houses being agreed to—a most improbable event—every one of these men would be deprived of his licence on the next licensing day, although they would all still have to pay the full rent for these houses as public-houses until Lady Day or rent-day next year. Now is that fair? Take, again, the second resolution which requires the reduction of public-houses. Why, it could be put in force at a week's notice, which would not allow time to the magistrates to obtain the information necessary to arrive at a decision as to what particular public-honses should be dispensed with, so that you would allow 132 the reduction to be made in a haphazard way. The Member for Aylesbury has pointed out a great blot on the Bill. He has pointed out he could not vote for the Bill because the first resolution required a two-thirds majority, whereas 99 per cent. could be abolished by a bare majority. Then the third resolution provides that there should be no new houses. This operates very harshly upon growing towns—towns that have sprung up during the past number of years. I have the honour to represent one of them. Thirty years ago Grimsby had a population of only 8,000; it now had 56,000. Is it right that what are practically new parishes should be denied the right of having a public-house because at some previous time this resolution had been carried? Then, again, the owners of existing licences where the number has been reduced might join with the extreme teetotallers in order to prevent new licences being granted that might lessen the value of their own privileges. The Bill is also very unfair in its provision for a fresh poll. If a resolution is carried to abolish all the public-houses no fresh poll can be taken for five years, whereas if the resolution is rejected the matter may be re-opened in two years. I want to know in common fairness if it is fair to make this distinction? I do not believe that the general body of the people of a town, or a county, constituency would be in favour of the total abolition of public houses. I believe this Bill and the Bill of the Government if carried —if both these are carried, temperance reform will be postponed for another century. The rejection of the Bill of 1888 postponed it for a generation. If that Bill had passed there would be now no temperance reform required. What would be the effect if the first resolutions in this measure are passed and we had a total closing of public-houses in any borough? Why, you would be certain to have a great reaction in five years, and they would spring up anew in all quarters. The men who, under the sanction of the law, have invested their money in the trade would be ruined, and others would enter She business without having to pay anything for the goodwill of their premises. Some mention has been made of the fact hat certain landed proprietors refuse to allow public-houses on their estates; I 133 venture to say that is a particularly unfortunate allusion for the supporters of the Bill for the proprietor who refuses, injures nobody but himself. He merely denies himself the increased rental he would receive from the public-houses, and on the same principle, if the general public put down public-houses, they should pay something out of the rates to compensate the unfortunate publicans for the loss they must sustain. Another thing is: the Bill will be very unequal in its operation. In one place it will be in operation, and in another it will not. I may be taxed with the fact that I have voted for Sunday closing and voted for the Bill of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. I would like to remind the House of the reservation I made in supporting the Bill of 1888, which was that though publicans might have no vested interest, they were entitled to compensation for disturbance, when that disturbance was made in the interests of the health and prosperity of the people. In supporting the Amendment now, I am, therefore, acting in strict accordance with the course which I followed in 1888, and what I said then I founded on what I learnt in my younger days from the present Prime Minister. All that, and those with whom I act ask is that licensed victuallers and brewers should be treated with the same consideration that would be shown to any other trade.
§ MR. DIAMOND (Monaghan, N.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby had fulfilled his promise of doing something for the publicans of his constituency, who had returned him to the House. The right hon. Gentleman had not forgotten that the public-houses at the recent election were turned into electioneering booths against the Government. He (Mr. Diamond) would like to do something to counteract such influences as that of the publican. He believed the Welsh Members were ready to give way in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, and he was, therefore, prepared to assist them with this Bill. [Laughter.] He did not know why he should be laughed at for desiring Home Rule for Wales as well as for Ireland; for Scotland and England, too, so far as that was concerned, if they 134 wanted it. He would like to see Home Rule all round, and it was because Wales by a majority of its people and its representatives wanted this measure that he would like to see them getting it. He must congratulate Wales on the unanimity that prevailed on this subject and on the fact that Wales was included in the Government Local Veto Bill. He regretted that the Government had not seen their way to include Ireland in the larger measure, for the majority of the Irish Members would support them. They heard it said that the alteration of the law meant the confiscation of property; but the question arose did they compensate those who cried out that they would be ruined by the change in the law in the Corn Law days? No; but by the change then made they increased the wealth of the country, and he felt sure that this Bill if passed would have a like effect. They were told also that this was entirely a publican's question. But if that were so, what about the "tied houses" that existed all over the country? It was well known that the publican was only a man of straw in a very large number of instances. Reference had been made to a noble Lord who was a large brewer, and it was said that he had no interest in the Bill. He (Mr. Diamond) should like to know how many of these "tied houses" he was interested in. It was also said that the publicans might go to the workhouse if this Bill passed. He would be sorry to hear of any man going to the workhouse, but the publicans had done a great deal to make workhouses necessary and to foster pauperism, and it would be but poetic justice that they should have to go there themselves, just as the man who built a lunatic asylum was the first who was taken to it as a patient. But there was no reason why the publicans should go to the workhouse. He failed to understand how it was that a publican could not earn his living like any other man. In regard to the statement that the closing of public-houses would not diminish drinking, would they apply that argument to any other case that might be brought forward? Put not temptation in the way of the people. Putting goods outside shops on the footway was looked upon as a temptation to people to steal. 135 The total absence of public-houses would do a good deal towards removing the temptation from the people. There was a difficulty in reconciling the temperance professions of the Tory Party with their desire to give full facilities for drinking; but the Tory Party was the publicans' Party, as it had been the Party of slavery, and the support and defence of every monopoly. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but the loud laugh which proclaimed the vacant mind proved nothing. The Tory Party should be ashamed of the attitude which they had taken on this question; but they would be defeated now as they had been before. They took the benefit of the £100,000 spent by the publicans at the General Election, but he felt that they would never be able to give value for so much money. They (the publicans) had given the country its pauperism. They had given them crime. He wondered that the hon. Member for South Tyrone urged a like liberty was not to be accorded to Ireland—the benefit of Home Rule—as was to Wales in this matter. The class of men who were going into the trade to-day was not an improvement on former years. No respectable man now wanted to go into the liquor trade; the tendency of the respectable men who were in it was to get out of it. He spoke as an Irish Member in some way interested in his countrymen who were living in England and Wales and Scotland, and he was satisfied these three countries would endorse the temperance legislation that had been introduced by the members of the party of reform.
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said, he wished to state in a very few words the position he had taken on this question of local option, for the licensing question was one which for many years he had studied with anxious attention. It was a question so difficult that he thought they were bound before legislating to have before them the most complete, accurate, and reliable information, especially on the results of the legislation on this subject, which for 30 years or more had been carried on in America in various forms, and in various States of the Union and in Canada. And though he had had somewhat 136 exceptional opportunities, from his connection with America, of obtaining such information, he felt that they had no such accurate and complete information as to his mind was necessary before they again attempted to legislate on this most difficult subject. Look at the utter and disgraceful failure of the present system of licensing. It had created enormous monopoly fortunes, and much of the wealth thus placed in the hands of the licensed victualler had been used to tempt and corrupt, to carry on business unprofitably while creating the pernicious demand and craving for intemperance; and it had made the laws against permitting drunkenness, as administered, absolutely of no effect. But this was just the reason why they should proceed with every care not to enact laws which would continue ineffectual and block the way for efficient legislation. Feeling this strongly, when he saw at the beginning of last year, that temperance legislation was likely again. to come to the front, and that there would be no time after a General Election for the Government who might be placed in power by it, to obtain by Commission or otherwise, the information which ought to precede legislation, he determined to try to do for the temperance question what Sir R. S. Wright (now one of Her Majesty's Judges) did some years ago for Local Government, at the request of Mr. Whitbread and himself. And, after consultation with his friend Sir R. S. Wright and some of the ablest and wisest friends of temperance, he determined, if he could find an able lawyer, uncommitted and unbiased for or against any special principles or forms, of temperance legislation to ask him to proceed in the first instance to America and Canada for him, and inquire in to the legislation that had been tried there, at once in the large towns and populous districts of the east, and west, and south, and also in the rural and less populous districts of the country, to obtain not only an accurate Rreport of the different laws and their results, but also of the different circumstances of the States and districts in which they had been administered: also the effects of the experiments on the different classes of those who drink. For instance, on those with confirmed habits of intemperance 137 bent on evading the laws whatever they were, and also on the part of the population whom it was sought to protect from excessive temptation. It was important also that they should have information how far public opinion in the different States, where varying laws had been in operation, had been strengthened for or against them by experience. It might be difficult to judge of this, except where votes had been taken, after local experience. He was fortunately able to obtain the assistance of a gentleman who had aided him with legal advice on Parliamentary matters for the last eight years, and he had for the last seven or eight months been with the greatest industry, skill, and impartiality, pursuing these inquiries. They both hoped to be able when Parliament met to lay the result of the inquiries before the Government, and subsequently before those interested. But the task had proved a much heavier one than they anticipated, and it might be some little time yet before he could bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. He (Mr. Rathbone) requested him to spare neither time, as far as he was able to give it, nor expense in making the inquiry as thorough as possible. It would be quite premature to express or form a decided opinion upon the facts hitherto collected. The results of different forms of legislation had been different under different circumstances and in different places. Possibly, before this Bill came into Committee, or the Government Bill came before the House for a Second Reading, he might have obtained and be able to lay before them the completed information. One or two things came out very clearly. One was that if prohibitory laws were to be applied in any part of this country, it could be only in the form of Local Option. To attempt to apply arbitrary laws, where there was not overwhelming public opinion in their favour, was not only absolutely useless, but most pernicious in its effect both upon the population and their law-abiding habits and on the administration of the law. Another was the great importance of absolutely separating all connection between the administration of the law affecting the liquor traffic and the municipal and other local government of the country. To mix up politics with the liquor traffic was corrupting and demoralising in the 138 extreme, and if they were to put in force stringent Local Option or licensing laws, it must be by the direct vote of the people, or of a body chosen for that purpose, entirely apart from local government or polities, and the enforcement of the law must be in the hands of a body of the highest character, and the most independent of local influences that could be found. Hut it was perhaps unwise to go into these matters till they had the whole subject before them. He was placed in considerable difficulty with respect to this Bill. He distinctly refused to pledge himself to any opinion on local option till he was better advised. He had received a good deal of information since then, and some of it showed that local option seemed to have worked well in certain districts in America, and might not improbably work well in the constituency which he represented, which he was bound to admit was overwhelmingly in favour of local option. Before this Bill got into Committee the necessary evidence might have reached him to enable him to form a clear opinion on the subject, and he wished it clearly to be understood that if he voted for the Second Reading he did not bind himself to the principle of local option or as to his votes in Committee, or on the Third Reading, which would be determined by his opinion when he had received and considered the whole information on the subject. His vote was given simply to keep the Bill alive until he had got that information.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said, that for 20 years he had taken great interest in temperance legislation, and he was not surprised, after being eight years in the House, to find hon. Gentlemen who had lately come from the platforms showing an uncommon interest in the subject of temperance, nor was he surprised to find an hon. Member from Ireland (Mr. Diamond), who presumably had been advocating the Plan of Campaign, now thinking that they might do evil that good might come by such a Bill as this. He was opposed to the Bill, because it seemed to him to be a new version of the decalogue, which might be shortly stated as "Thou shalt not drink but thou mayest steal." The hon. Member for the 139 Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) assumed to think that the property of the publican and the other great interests represented in it depended on a yearly license. What would he say to the fact that 44 per cent. of the places where beer was drunk were really beerhouses under the Act of 1869, and were not subject to the magistrates' license? What about the mortgagees, who might not be publicans at all, but might be living in London, and who might have been rash enough to have advanced money on public-house property in Wales? Under this Bill, assuming that the licensing year ended at Michaelmas, the mortgagee might find one fine morning that his property had ceased to exist within five weeks without any notice whatever to himself. That was a perfectly accurate statement of what might happen by a decision given under the Bill. Therefore he held that the Bill was unjust. He contended that the Bill was indefinite, and so far as Clause 13 was concerned, tyrannical. It was "heads I win, tails you lose." That was the deliberate policy of the Temperance Party. It was a mockery of justice and a travesty of temperance, that temperance people should endeavour to promote public morality while they disregarded the principles of common honesty. He was perfectly ready to vote against this Bill, con amore, as he believed that they would not advance morality by doing an injustice to any class. While he regarded the measure as preposterous and unjust, he was prepared to say what he thought would be a fair scheme of legislation. He was prepared to say that a majority of the people who had votes could fairly decide whether or not there should be any new licenses, not for the rest of time, as the Bill would foolishly enact, but for, say, 10 years. Two-thirds of the people he would agree might vote for the reduction of licenses, subject to a provision that those who were knocked off the list should be compensated by a tax upon those who remained. As for the millions of money which the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs affirmed would come out of the pockets of the ratepayer, the compensation under this scheme would come out of the pockets of the poor sots who went to 140 the public-houses for drink. No doubt the public-houses that remained would have increased trade, for restrictions would never kill the habit of drinking, but the money got on the enhanced licenses that remained would go to compensate the others that were abolished. If the community believed, which he did not think they did, that total abolition would promote universal sobriety, then let them be honest and pay something out of their pockets to advance that missionary cause which he heartily sympathised with but did not believe in. If they were willing to do this, let the experiment be made, but let the polls be taken at intervals of five or ten years. If they took 1863, 1881, and 1891, and bore in mind the increase in the population, they found this interesting fact — that while the consumption of alcoholic drinks per head remained practically the same, in 1863 there were 5,639 more criminals than there were in 1881, and 9,390 more criminals than in 1891. Then in 1863 there were 339,498 more paupers than there were in 1881, and 367,619 more than in 1891. There were also now 82 fewer prison governors, 292 fewer prison warders, and 58 against 115 prisons. These facts showed that the masses were gradually improving, that Parliament was solving this great question of temperance by improving the education, increasing the interest, and widening the minds of the people. The Bill would seek to promote the highest aims of public men by stooping to do by public bodies the things which in private life they would he ashamed of, and he must oppose the measure, believing that they would only retard the principles of self-help and self-reliance and control if they endeavoured to put everybody in a strait waistcoat.
§ SIR GEORGE OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Lawrence) had made one important concession. The hon. Member was in favour of giving to the ratepayers the power of refusing new licences. He (Sir G. Osborne Morgan) was not sure that the hon. Member, notwithstanding the severity of his criticism on the Bill, ought not to vote for the Second Read- 141 ing, and endeavour to amend the Bill in Committee. The same might be said of the speech of the right hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage). All his objections were objections on detail. His right hon. Friend said that the Bill would be nugatory. If that were so, he did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should have thought it necessary to expend so much energy against it, unless it was, indeed, to pay off a debt to a particular class of his constituents who were largely instrumental in sending him back to that House. The right hon. Gentle-man the Member for Brighton (Sir William Marriott) had attacked the Welsh Sunday Closing Act. He (Sir George Osborne Morgan) had some share in promoting that measure, in conjunction with Mr. John Roberts, who was no longer in the House, but who was ably and worthily represented by his son. The best answer to the attack of the right hon. Member for Brighton was given by the Report of the Commission appointed by a Government of which the right hon. Gentleman himself was a Member. The Commission practically found that if the Sunday Closing Act had been a partial failure, it was so because it was not prohibitory enough. The Commission traced the failure of the Act, so far as it had failed, first to the inability of the law to put down bogus clubs, and, secondly, to the bôna fide travellers clause. The Act had made the public-house the bourne from which no bôna fide traveller returned—or, if he did return, it was not in his sober senses. With regard to the Bill before the House, he was very glad to find that no Member had raised the argument employed against the Sunday Closing Act, that they had no right to legislate separately for a part of the Kingdom like Wales. They had a Welsh Sunday Closing Act, a Welsh Intermediate Education Act, and they hoped before long to have a Welsh Disestablishment Act. It seemed to be generally admitted that if an experiment was to be made in this matter, it ought to be made in favourable circumstances, and on a congenial soil; and where could they find more favourable circumstances or a more congenial soil than in Wales? He believed that the result of a plébiscite had been to show that the advocates of local option were as 20 to 1. 142 He believed that, with the exception of one or two who would absent themselves in the Division, every Member returned for Wales would vote for the Bill. In the course of the Debate, which had lasted for more than four hours, there had not been a single Member from the Principality or Monmouthshire who had ventured to get up and oppose the Bill. The hon. Member who spoke last complained that no compensation was provided in the measure. He (Sir G. Osborne Morgan) should have thought that after the fate which befel the Bill of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the question of compensation the less said about compensation the better. Was any compensation given when Magistrates refused to renew a licence? Not a penny. Then why should it be necessary when the ratepayers took the same course? As for the rights of the minority, what right had they to inflict on the majority all the evils which public-houses caused? In a much more Conservative House two years ago a similar Bill to the present was carried by a substantial majority, and he asked the House now to put the right of dealing with licences in the hands of those who were interested in the subject, and who suffered from the demoralising consequences of the present system. The men who wore the shoe knew best where it pinched.
§ MR. CROSFIELD (Lincoln)
said he had listened with extreme interest for four hours to the speeches which had been made on this Bill. He had not attempted to take part in it because he felt it was a Welsh subject, and that there were Welsh Members in the House who were more competent to deal with it than those who had the misfortune to represent constituencies in England which had not had the benefits of the restrictive legislation which Wales had now possessed for some years. It was the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool which had tempted him to rise to his feet. The hon. Member had challenged them to specify localities in which a restrictive policy had been beneficial. He (Mr. Crosfield) should not have been surprised to have heard many hon. Gentlemen who were present 143 ask that question, but that the hon. Member should have asked it was, indeed, a surprise. In answer to the hon. Member's question, he (Mr. Crosfield) would specify the hon. Member's own constituency and the adjoining constituency of Toxteth. In the Toxteth Division of Liverpool, thanks to the exertion of a gentleman who was at one time a Member of that House, there wore vast districts where a restricted policy against public-houses operated. There were some hundreds of miles of streets in that district without a public-house. He did not wish to be understood to say that the people who resided there were beyond reach of public-houses, for the restriction dealt only with leasehold property, and there were freeholds in which public-houses were established; but he ventured to say, in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Toxteth (Baron H. de Worms), that there was no part of Liverpool which was so orderly, which needed so little supervision by the police, and where the inhabitants were so respectable and well-behaved, as the division which the right hon. Gentleman represented. This condition of things had been brought about by what some gentlemen would consider an arbitrary power, if it were placed in the hands of a bare majority. But the restriction was not so exercised; it was exercised by a minority—a minority of two persons, Lord Sefton and Mr. John Roberts, who took upon themselves the serious responsibility of saying that there should be no public-houses in this neighbourhood, over which they had control. They, their tenants, and the city at large were reaping the benefit of that wise regulation. He had to differentiate between the Division of Toxteth and the Division of Abercromby, for the benefits derived in Toxteth did not obtain in the other Division. He thought the hon. Member (Mr. Lawrence) would agree with him when he said that, whereas fewer police were required in the restricted districts of Liverpool a much larger proportion of police supervision was required in very many of the districts which he had the honour to represent. It was in those divisions of the city where police supervision was most required that there was a plethora of public-houses.
§ MR. MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
I hardly think it necessary to notice in detail the argument of the hon. Member who has just sat down. It is something of this kind: because the action of two landlords has been beneficial to a certain district in Liverpool, therefore the action proposed by this Bill, which is of a totally different character, will be beneficial also. That may be an argument which carries conviction to the hon. Member's mind, but, I must say it does not to mine. I cannot assent to any such proposition, nor do I propose to say much about the provisions of the Bill itself, which have been totally lost sight of by the hon. Member. The House ought to be grateful to the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs for putting his support to the Bill on the ground he did. He has fairly stated the view of himself and his Party with reference to the liquor trade. He has treated the publicans of the country as worse than slaveowners; as persons who bring upon the country nothing but ruin and destruction, and are themselves responsible both for its pauperism and crime, and whom, therefore, it is proper to treat in the drastic manner proposed by this Bill. I should like to point out the inconsistency of the hon. Member. If these assertions are true, or bear even the most remote resemblance to the truth, you should not refer a great question of public policy like this to a chance majority of ratepayers. You should deal with it in this House and by direct legislation, not by a chance majority here and there. This wicked band of persons who are causing so much pauperism and crime should be dealt with in this House, and I ask why you do not propose to legislate to stop the drink traffic altogether.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Yes; but you want to shift the responsibility for that which you dare not do yourselves upon the ratepayers. Let hon. Gentlemen venture to propose legislation of that sort in this House, and they will see whether the proposition will obtain a 145 majority here or support in the country. They show their want of sincerity by the terms of the Bill, because they select the electors whose interest in the question may possibly, they think, swell the majority, but who have not got the real interest that they ought to have if their voice and opinion are to be invited in the matter. The hon. Member for Carnarvon argues why should not two-thirds of the population have the right to put an end to the liquor traffic as well as a landlord on his own estate. It is as well to point out that the right of an owner on his own estate is a right somewhat different from that of the ratepayers. It is a novelty to hear the right of control of a landowner over his own estate compared with the control of two-thirds of the ratepayers in any district over the choice that a man makes as to his own habits and rules of conduct. But it is not two-thirds of the ratepayers, it is simply two-thirds of those who happen to vote on a particular occasion. They have not ventured to require that it shall be two-thirds of all the ratepayers or municipal electors in the locality. I do not mean to waste many words upon the Bill itself, but I cannot help noticing that so envenomed is the spirit of those who have framed the Bill that they have not made provision for the commonest and most necessary cases that will arise under it. Hon. Members are aware, I suppose, that the publicans hold under leases and covenants, binding them to carry on their business on the premises; yet the promoters of the Bill are going to stop that business altogether, and have not thought it worth while to put into the Bill the slightest provision to relieve these men from the onus of those leases and covenants. Again, we had only the other day the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech of vast weight which made a great impression on the House. In the right hon. Gentleman's Bill he introduced a variety of exceptions — railway stations, hotels, refreshment rooms, and proprietary establishments of that kind were excepted. Why are there no exceptions in this Bill? Is it a censure upon the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Are these Welsh apostles of temperance so much wiser in their generation that they could afford to leave 146 out these things which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his more statesmanlike mood, inserted in his measure. I should like to hear some explanation of this from hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. Then there is the poor bonâfide traveller, the real bonâ fide traveller. I should like to know whether that personage conies under the same ban as the publican? Then we have heard of such persons as cyclists, who, it is said, are a great support to public-houses in rural districts. Is there any exception in their favour? Not a word. I do not wish to go into the details of the Bill, but the point I particularly wish to take issue upon in this Debate is the point raised in the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. Are the Government going to resist an Amendment which declares that some kind of compensation is just and proper? That is the broad issue on which I want to challenge the judgment of the House. If the hon. Members for Carnarvon Boroughs and for the Denbigh Boroughs will permit me to say so, they have both misstated, I think, the recent decisions of the Courts of Law. The Courts of Law have not held that the question of the renewal of a licence is arbitrary. It has been stated that the renewal is in the absolute discretion of the magistrate. But the discretion is to be a judicial discretion, which means that it is to be governed by considerations of what is fair and right in each particular case. Does this Bill discriminate between one case and another? Not in the slightest degree. There is not the slightest exercise of the judicial faculty in regard to what the operation of the Bill will be. Therefore, it goes beyond the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield." If legal rights are necessary in order to entitle to compensation, there are legal rights. Beer-houses under the Act of 1869 have legal rights. They are absolutely entitled to a renewal of their licence, if they have not violated the conditions imposed by that Act. Why does not the Bill provide compensation in that case? The House of Commons has never acted upon such a narrow doctrine as not to recognise those moral rights which have arisen from the action of Parliament, itself, and from the action of those whom Parliament has chosen to administer the law. You have had for 147 many years a licensing system, and you have committed the administration of that system to the magistrates; you may say that the magistrates are wrong, and blame them as much as you please; you may assert that they have not obeyed the spirit and intention of the law, if you please, but they have administered it in a way that has caused a universal expectation, shared not only by the publicans, but by the general public—that the renewal of licences may confidently be expected. Can it be supposed that any man in his senses would lay out under a provisional licence thousands of pounds in the improvement of his premises, not according to his own plans, but according to plans prescribed for him by an administrative tribunal created by Parliament, merely for a precarious tenure to be terminated at the end of the year. It is well known that in other cases than those of provisional licences, Magistrates frequently prescribe considerable alterations of the premises, even structural alterations, for the convenience of the public, and that upon condition of those alterations being made, the licences are granted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that the Succession Duty and Probate Duty have been levied upon the interest of those persons, upon the understanding that they are not tenants from year to year only, but are likely to be permanent, unless there is bad conduct. Not only has the impression universally prevailed in the construction and administration of the law with regard to compensation, but proposed legislation has admitted the principle several times. The Prime Minister, in 1879, said that if Parliament thought it wise to introduce any radical change in the working of the liquor laws in such a way as to break down the fair expectations of persons which have grown up under the shadow of the law, they have a fair claim to compensation if they can make out a case for it. All such claims have been conceded by the wisdom and liberality of Parliament. In the Bill of Mr. Bruce in 1871 a 10 years' grace was given to the publican whose business was taken away. What was that but compensation in another shape? Even the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives three years' grace to 148 the publican, and that, again, is a recognition of the principle of compensation. Was it a monstrous thing on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give that term of three years' grace? Why has the hon. Member omitted it in his Bill? Why has he not recognised the fairness of compensation as the chiefs of his Party have done? Nothing was stronger than the language used by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington as to the necessity and justice of giving compensation, and he only abstained from embodying it in his Bill because, as he said, no private Member had power to suggest taxation. This is the issue upon which we now stand, and upon which I intend to vote in favour of the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. We say we are not laying down any rule as to the amount of compensation to be paid. I should be sorry to deal with such a question as that in these few hurried words. But we do take our stand against the proposal to sweep away a whole class of traders which the Legislature has created in its presnte shape, and in which it has vested privileges that it would be eminently unjust and dishonest to take away. If the Bill is passed we shall take away business which the House has encouraged, and deprive men of their legitimate expectations. That is the issue on which the judgment of the House will be taken—as to whether it shall deprive a class of men of their chances of earning money in life without compensating them for their loss.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
It is always difficult to canvass the merits and the charms of a rival. No doubt this Bill differs in some material particulars from that which I submitted to the House some days ago. As the right hon. Gentleman has very truly said, this Bill contains no exemptions. It would close all hotels and all public-houses. That is a proposal the Government did not think it right or wise to make in their Bill. It also applies —which is going a great deal further than the Government in their Bill— to wholesale as well as to retail traders. It 149 would prevent not merely the sale of liquor in public-houses, but it would also prevent the sale of beer by wholesale brewers. The Bill, moreover, gives no time or period of grace between the suspension of the licence and the ballot. The Bill, therefore, differs very materially from any recommendation which the Government felt at liberty to make. But when I have to ask myself what vote I am to give upon the Second Heading of the Bill I must answer that I regard the Second Reading, as I have done that of former Bills for which I have voted, as affirming the principle of local option. All the matters I have referred to are matters which are capable of being dealt with in Committee. ["Oh, oh! "] I am applying what, in my opinion, is the only true test of a vote on the Second Reading. I certainly could not consent to the passing of the Bill on different principles from those which the Government have recommended, but as far as the Second Reading is concerned, I am prepared to vote for it, and I am prepared to vote against the Amendment. Gentlemen opposite have asked what is the position taken up by gentlemen who sit on this side of the House with reference to this great temperance question. I may ask them, what is the position they take up with regard to it? Are they exactly where they were in 1888 on the question of compensation? This Amendment, as I understand it, is intended to raise precisely the question that was raised in 1888. In my opinion, the people of this country are as determined in their opposition to the principle of pecuniary compensation set up by right hon. Gentlemen opposite in 1888 as they were then. To propose any temperance reform founded upon the principles which were then rejected is equivalent to saying that there shall be no temperance reform at all. That was the result of the proposals made in 1888, and that will be the result of any similar proposals that may be made hereafter. The right hon. Gentleman says compensation is a matter of course, because you have been in the habit of giving licences. I have never heard, however, that because it is the general practice to renew annual leases of land, you cannot terminate such a lease without giving compensation. I can give another illustra- 150 tion to gentlemen opposite. Not only public-houses, but places for dancing and music-halls were until lately licensed by magistrates. The power of licensing such places has been transferred to the County Councils, and, as a result, many of the licences have been extinguished. Has there ever been a question of compensation in any of these cases? Certainly not; in spite of the fact that the pecuniary interest involved is quite as large as in the case of the average public-house. But there should be consideration shown towards the publicans in this matter I admit, and we have endeavoured in our Bill to show consideration towards them. I see my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Bonsor) laugh. The fact is, Sir, that for the most part, the public-houses are not the property of the publicans. We hear people talk about the "permanent interests" of the publicans. What permanent interests have they in the great majority of cases? Is it a permanent interest or is it an annual interest? In many cases is it not merely a quarterly interest? No one knows better than my hon. Friend opposite that the publicans who hold under the brewers are liable to be turned out at very short notice indeed.
§ MR. BONSOR (Surrey, Wimbledon)
I beg pardon for interrupting, but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that in London at least 75 per cent. of the houses are absolutely the property of the publicans. Indeed, I am sure I am understating the percentage.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
My hon. Friend confines his observations to London. Certainly in the districts with which I am acquainted in the country that is very far from being the case, and it is becoming less and less the case. The system which the brewers have adopted of buying up public-houses and making the publican nothing but a tenant-at-will and the servant of the brewer is growing day by day. I wish to put a question to gentlemen opposite who always think it is necessary to preface the defeat of a practical temperance measure by professing an interest in temperance and a desire that something different from the practical thing proposed should be done, and who always take care to oppose the par- 151 ticular measure brought forward. What is it they have to propose? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton (Sir W. Marriott), in the very moderate speech he delivered earlier in the day, said he relied upon improved dwellings, and referred to the opening of Shaftesbury Park by the late Lord Beaconsfield as one of the great works of the Tory Party. I ventured at the moment to point out to him that when the great Leader of the Tory Party opened Shaftesbury Park he was aware that one of the fundamental principles on which that Park was based was that there should be no public-houses at all. That I think throws a little light upon the question as to what should be the proper accompaniment of social reforms of that character. When I come to look at the wording of the Amendment, I confess I find it not very easy to understand. It is surprising to me that such an Amendment should be brought forward by a right hon. Gentleman who usually displays so much acuteness and accuracy. One right hon. Gentleman asks the House to decline to read the Bill a second time because—No compensation is provided for those who may be deprived under its operation of their licences without any judicial decision as to their disqualification to continue their lawful business.In old days it was understood that the judicial decision must be founded upon some personal misconduct of the licence-holder, but ever since the case of "Sharp v. Wakefield" was determined it has been understood that the decision may be based upon the fact that there are too many public-houses. That is not a judicial decision in any sense of the word but a social decision. The magistrates are not the best judges as to the proper number of public-houses. There are many people who are of opinion that it is very desirable to have voting not only on the question of total prohibition but on the question of the reduction of the number of public-houses. The Amendment really pronounces against the determination of the question, which, as I have said, is not a judicial question at all, by the magistrates. A general direction to reduce the number of licences must not, according to the right hon. Gentleman, be given under the conditions referred to in the Amendment. 152 The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman apparently amounts to this: We stand upon compensation, as we demanded it in 1888; we stand upon the Magistrates as the body who are to determine the question of temperance for the people. That is the issue on which the Government are prepared to meet them. I have never said, and I do not desire to say, anything harsh with reference to the jurisdiction and administration of this question by the Magistrates; but it is generally admitted that there is an evil to be dealt with, and that the system of administration by the Magistrates has failed to deal with it. The present condition of the licensed houses has in a great degree been the creation of the Magistrates. No doubt the Magistrates in many cases would be very willing to undo the work of their predecessors, but their hands are too weak. This question is, in the opinion of the Government, the question above all others in which the people ought to have their own voice. If I were to attempt to describe in this Debate what is the real issue raised by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman I would say it is this: Is the great cause of temperance to be placed in the hands of the people or is it to be left for the future, as it has been in the past, in the hands of the Magistrates? I take it that that is the exact issue. I differ from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton in thinking that it is impossible to continue to rely altogether upon the administration which has created the existing condition of things, and that it is absolutely necessary to allow the people of the community to have some voice and some weight in a matter which most deeply concerns their fortunes, and those of their children and their children's children. Consequently, upon ever opportunity when the question of local option is raised, I shall give my vote for it.
§ MR. W. H. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)
I do not propose to stand between the House and the division which is impending for more than a few minutes. I have risen for the purpose of accepting the challenge which has been thrown down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to one of the issues upon which, according to the definition of the 153 right hon. Gentleman, the Division is to be taken. The right hon. Gentleman has told the House plainly that the issue between the two Parties on this particular occasion is. whether or not compensation is to be paid for the appropriation of licensed houses. The right hon. Gentleman told us that if the attempts which the Conservative Party made in the House in 1888, and subsequently, to carry certain compensation proposals had been carried through, the temperance cause would have been interfered with and put back. I am here to say that if the Government succeed in carrying their measure—and I do not believe they will succeed—without a compensation clause, they will put back the temperance movement to an indefinite period. I am not going to argue the question upon its merits. Time does not permit of that—I wish it did. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the time has come when the power should pass from the hands of the magistrates, and be placed in the hands of the people. He seems to think that the magistrates will not do, or will be afraid to do, what the people will be willing to do. Whatever may have been the effect of the decision in "Sharp v. Wakefield," no practical man acquainted with the history of this question can deny that from many points of view the property in public-houses has been recognised as an actual, bonâ fide. property. Has the State not recognised that property and valued it for the purposes of taxation? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton has reminded the House that on no single occasion has the State confiscated property for its own purposes without payment of fair compensation. Is the State now going to make a new departure for the first time? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, posing as he does for the time being as a great temperance reformer, gave his country experiences. We are always interested in hearing anecdotes of his country experiences, but I am afraid we often find that they do not concur with the experiences of most of the rest of us. No doubt his neighbourhood is a peculiar one. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] Is there any objection to the word "peculiar?" The right hon. Gentleman may very well be left to defend himself. All I said was that Sir 154 William's country experiences do not coincide with those of many of us. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon has told the House that in London 75 per cent. of the houses are the property of the occupiers, whereas the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby says that in the country it is not so, the houses being mostly in the hands of the brewers. Let us have the issue clearly defined. Do the Government mean to promote temperance and sobriety, or are they making a combined and sordid attack upon men who are either brewers or publicans? The right hon. Gentleman says the matter is one that affects the brewers. The hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs has told the House in an eloquent speech what, in his opinion, the real issue is. I am glad to welcome his admission. He told us that the publicans had sinned in the way in which they had carried on their trade, and that therefore they were to suffer. If it is the publicans who have sinned, why punish the brewers? Which is it? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House says it is the brewers. Then why inflict a penalty on the publicans for wrong done by the brewers? [Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] I can very well understand the impatience of hon. Members opposite at hearing' anything that does not coincide with their views. That does not augur well for their impartiality or fairness in putting such a Bill into practice. If those who have to put such an Act into practice are animated by the same spirit of intolerance and injustice as hon. Members opposite show, then such a Measure should be opposed to the utmost, even if it were not opposed on general grounds. If the Government wish to promote real temperance reform and increase sobriety, they must make practical and equitable proposals on the subject, and they will then have the support, of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and then probably we shall see legislation which will produce good results. We say that without these equitable proposals, your legislation, even if passed, will not be effective. I should have liked to have heard some hon. Gentlemen opposite speak on the floor of the House of Commons as they are accustomed to 155 speak at meetings of their constituents concerning those who are connected with the liquor traffic. They there use language that is most offensive and unjust, and hold up those engaged in the liquor trade to ridicule and obloquy, and speak of them as social lepers; but they dare not do so inside the House. There is nothing practical about this Bill. Experience has proved that a few weeks after the closing of a public-house a club has sprung up, and everyone knows that in these clubs drinking is carried on to a larger extent and in a worse way than in licensed houses. Is that the way to promote temperance? Will you benefit the people by enabling them to drink at all hours of the day and night—on Sundays and on weekdays. I look upon the measure as unjust and impractical, and if it is passed the improvement thereby in the condition of the people will be practically nil. We oppose the Bill because it is not a practical measure, because it declines to recognise for the first time what is actual property, and because it invites the State to confiscate and take the property away.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: — Ayes 281; Noes 246.—(Division List, No. 31.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.