§ MR. J. H. M. CAMPBELL (Dublin St. Stephen's Green)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to a decision reported to have been given by three of the Dublin metropolitan police magistrates a few days ago, whereby, if it is correct in law, it will henceforth be possible for any householder in Ireland, provided his character is good, and his premises are suitable and above a 587 certain low valuation, to convert his house into a beer shop; whether he is aware that for the last seventeen years the law has been differently interpreted throughout Ireland, namely, as giving to magistrates at licensing sessions an unqualified discretion under the Beer Dealers' Licences Amendment Act, 1882 (45 and 46 Vic. c. 34), to grant or refuse beer licences, and that so recently as the year 1894 the then law officers of the Government in Ireland, in a letter to the licensing magistrates at Belfast, expressed their approval of that view of the law; and whether, in consideration of these facts, and of the enactment by which the Executive Government alone can appeal from the decision of the Dublin magistrates referred to, the Government intend either to take that course or to propose legislation on the subject.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
My attention has been called to the matters referred to in the first paragraph. I believe the facts are stated in the second paragraph with substantial accuracy. It has recently been decided by the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland in effect that the Act of 1882 does not apply to Ireland, and the magistrates, as they were bound to do, followed that decision. It is under consideration whether it may not be desirable for the Crown to take steps to have the point decided in the Court of Appeal.