House Of Commons
Wednesday, 9th July, 1873.
MINUTES.]—PUBLIC BILLS— First Reading—Exchequer Bonds (£1,600,000)* .
Second Reading—Sale of Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) , put off; Municipal Boroughs Extension , negatived; General Police
and Improvement (Scotland) Acts Amendment* ; Civil Bills, &c. (Ireland)* ; Revising Barristers* .
Committee—Burials , debate adjourned.
Committee—Report—Elementary Education Provisional Order Confirmation (Nos. 4, 5, and 6)* [208, 209, 210]; Local Government Provisional Orders (Nos. 4 and 5)* [211, 212]; Married Women's Property Act (1870) Amendment (No. 2)* .
Third Reading—Tramways Provisional Orders Confirmation* , and passed.
Withdrawn—Land Rights and Conveyancing (Scotland)* .
Sale Of Liquors On Sunday (Ireland Bill—Bill 52
( Sir Dominic Corrigan, Mr. Pim, Mr. O'Neill, Vicount Crichton, Mr. M'Clure, Mr. William Johnston, Lord Claud Hamilton, Mr. Dease.)
Order for Second Reading read.
in rising to move That the Bill be now read the second time, said: I do so with every hope of success, for we have advanced so far that in the Licensing Bill of last year the principle has been recognized that the drinking of intoxicating liquors on Sunday is attended with more injury to the people than on week days, and therefore the hours allowed for drinking on Sundays were curtailed under that Bill. This is a great point for us who advocate the complete closing of public-houses during the whole, not a part of the Sunday. It is admitted on all sides that much good has been done by the partial closing of public-houses on Sunday; let us now complete the good work by closing them through the whole of the day. I know it is argued that as we have done so much good we ought to be content with it; we ought to "leave well enough alone;" but I cannot, Sir, assent to that principle; we do not apply it to the commonest affairs of life; we do not apply it to mechanics; we are never content that in mechanics we have attained a certain amount of efficiency, and that we should then be content with the progress we have already made. Are we to be content with the progress we have made in morals, and not try to better ourselves or our people? Surely there is no need to answer the question. Much good has been achieved by the partial closing of houses for the sale of whisky throughout all Ireland on Sunday; much greater good will be done by their total closing; and let us now do it. If we have now only 75 drunkards by the partial closing of the public-houses, where we had previously 100, let us go on in the same course, and we shall have only 25 drunkards, where we had previously 100. I think we can attain that if we adopt this Bill. I do not expect that we can altogether obliterate drunkenness by it, but we can, I think, obliterate it, or nearly so, on Sundays in Ireland. On other days men in Ireland are scattered through the country at their farm and other labours. They cannot and will not leave them to go half a mile into a town for whisky. But Sunday comes round. It is their only day of recreation. They assemble at the public-houses; they are exposed to all the temptations and bad example around them. They drink in rounds—that is, each of the party treats his companions in turn. Then comes waste of wages, the madness of drunkenness, the awaking of bad passions, assaults, and murder. In the last sessions in an Irish county—Clare—only last month—June —the Chairman said the calendar was a disgrace to Ireland. "It contained a larger amount of savage assaults than on any previous occasion," and these assaults he attributed in nine cases out of ten to drink, and Sunday is the day in Ireland when these terrible temptations most abound. Mr. Blake, J.P., County Kilkenny, writes this month—July, 1873—
Twelve months have elapsed since I last brought this question before the House. I was then beaten by a majority of 33. For the sake of our people give me a majority the other way to-night. I do not want to interfere with England—give us what they have in Scotland. For 20 years the public-houses have been closed by law in Scotland. During that whole time there has not been—I am told by a Scottish Member who sits on my right—a single Petition to repeal the law, to re-open the public-houses in Scotland. We were once similarly circumstanced in Ireland. Up to the year 1833 our public-houses were all closed in Ireland, as they are now closed in Scotland. I appeal now to English Members. If drunkenness—and particularly Sunday drunkenness, with its train of vice, fighting, and murder—has become a national disgrace in Ireland, who inflicted it on us? Not an Irish, but an English Parliament. A year had not elapsed after 1833 when the Corporation of Dublin prayed that you would repeal the law and again close the public-houses on Sunday. Retrace your steps now, and give us the boon you have given to Scotland. A year has passed over since I last addressed the House on this subject, and how does public opinion now speak? The first Petition on my list to day for the total closing of public-houses on Sunday is from 215 deputy lieutenants and magistrates. The second is from eight Archbishops and Bishops, and from other dignitaries of the Catholic Church. The third is from the clergymen of the Catholic Church in Dublin and its vicinity, headed by Cardinal Cullen, whose name stands first on the list. The fourth is from eight Bishops and other dignitaries of the Protestant Church of Ireland, and the fifth is from the clergy of the Protestant Church in Dublin and its vicinity. Yesterday I presented several Petitions from the Presbyterian and other denominations from various parts of Ireland, all praying for the same—close up public-houses on Sundays. As nearly as I can calculate, in addition to the multitude of Petitions presented in the last Session, there have been presented this Session, up to the present, not less than 60 Petitions with at least 3,000 or 4,000 signatures, exclusive of many officially signed, each of which has, of course, only one signature. And now let me turn to tell the House after another year's trial and consideration of the question, how many Petitions from Ireland have been presented to keep open public-houses on Sunday—not one. I inspected the Report of the Committee of this House on Petitions yesterday, and on its Paper not a single Petition is recorded against the Bill. You will perhaps hear something in the course of this debate as to the hardships inflicted on the working men of their going to their houses of worship and coming from them not being able to get whisky to "keep their devotion warm on their return home." But have the working men of Ireland appealed to this House to keep open public-houses on Sunday? Not a single Petition has been presented from them; not a single meeting of them has been held to object to this Bill. Workmens' clubs are now established in Dublin and are being established in other towns through Ireland. Most warmly do I wish them success. They are conducted by most intelligent men. Has a single Petition emanated from any one of those clubs? Not one. Who are to be benefited, I may here ask, by keeping public-houses open on Sunday? Not those who drink whisky, for they ruin their health and beggar their families, and fall into crime. Not the licensed vintners and spirit grocers who keep their houses open, for the Sunday drinker soon becomes incapable of earning wages, and the profit of the sale is gone, and the licensed retailer of spirit and grocery who would hope to continue in receipt of money from the Sunday drunkard will be as much disappointed as the man in the fable who killed the goose to get all the golden eggs at once. There is only one Department of the State that can derive benefit from the continuance of selling whisky in Ireland on Sunday, and that is the "Excise," but of that I will only say that there exists not, and never will exist, in any Government or in the United Kingdom a single individual who would ever allow such a thought—a consideration to enter his mind. I will not take up the time of the House with the nonsense that is occasionally put forward on the subject that persons going on country excursions on Sunday cannot take recreation without the opportunity of purchasing whisky as refreshment. Those who are led into drinking on Sunday in Ireland are not those who go into the country for fresh air and exercise, but those who turn their steps from fresh air and country walks into unhealthy towns to fall into bad company and intoxication and crime. One word more as to the supposed necessity of whisky drinking on Sunday as refreshment. In the Bay of Dublin there are from 50 to 60 trawlers, each with a crew of five men and a boy, and 200 or 300 herring boats with similar crews. And what is their rule? They do not allow any intoxicating liquor on hoard, although they are out for several days or a week each time, at hard labour and exposed to rough weather, and if they can bear so many days continuously without whisky, surely the well-fed excursionist may pass one day without the opportunity of buying whisky; and, moreover, the Bill now before us does not prevent excursionists carrying with them as much whisky as they like. Some who call themselves philosophers, and deal with abstract platitudes, would denounce the Bill and its provisions as interfering with the liberty of the subject. Every law is an interference with individual liberty, and so we need not, I think, dwell on that objection. It is again objected to as "class legislation," and the rich man's private club has been denounced and contrasted with the poor man's public-house. I went so fully into an exposure of the fallacy of comparing "club-house" and "public-house" together in my observations on the Bill of last year, that I do not think it necessary to repeat them now. Another objection made to the Bill is that if it pass into law, and that the ordinary houses for the sale of whisky be shut up, it will increase "illicit drinking." The reply to that may be very short. There are several districts in Ireland in which voluntary closing for the whole of Sunday has taken place, and the evidence of the Catholic Bishops and clergy is that this result has not occurred; indeed, it is manifest that it has not occurred, for the towns in which the voluntary closing has taken place are described as most orderly in the evenings, whereas before they were scenes of riot and disorder. This improved order could not exist if illicit drinking had increased. Its bad fruits could not be concealed in the shades of night. Moreover, if this Bill pass, the honest trader, the police, and the constabulary will all be combined against the illicit dealer, and he must cease his mischievous trade. I will only trespass now on the House with a few short extracts from authorities who command our respect on the question, and they are all written within the last month or two months. The Most Rev. Dr. Furlong, Bishop of Ferns, writes this month from Wexford—"Nearly all the cases before us at petty sessions are drunkenness or fighting therefrom, and the greater number are from drinking on Sunday."
G. J. Barry, Esq., J. P., Kilmallock, County Tipperary, writes as follows last month:—"I am happy to inform you that the Sunday closing observance, inaugurated in the Diocese of Ferns 17 years ago, has been productive of the happiest results. We have no longer to deplore those frequent scenes of riot and disorder, which formerly it was so painful to witness. The County Wexford presents on Sundays those features of quiet and repose, and exemption from all disturbance, so well suited to a day specially devoted to the divine worship."
R. J. Hamilton, Esq., J. P., County Tyrone, writes thus, also last month—"A portion of this petty sessions' district being in the diocese of Emily, the 'Sunday temperance law' is in force. No drink can be had on Sundays, consequently there is a complete absence of fighting and drunkenness; but from that portion of the district where the Sunday closing is not observed, drunken cases, riots, fighting, &c., crop up pretty abundantly at petty sessions. I find a pretty general feeling in favour of Sunday closing, even among the publicans. The latter don't complain of any hardship where this 'Sunday temperance law' is in force, and decidedly the public have no reason to complain, as the gain is altogether on their side."
Mr. Fitzmaurice, J. P., says—"It would be a great blessing to this country if the public-houses were closed. I cannot tell you the amount of drink that is sold in Dromore, near me, on Sundays; and it is a disgrace to this neighbourhood to see so many people coming home scarcely able to walk from the effects of intoxicating drink. Most of the drunken cases brought to Firlick Bench by the constabulary happen on Sundays."
Mr. Rolleston, D. L., J. P., County Tipperary, writes as follows:—"Having been nearly 30 years in the Commission of the Peace, I can confidently state that most of the clime committed in our district has arisen from Sunday drunkenness and intoxication."
Mr. Hale, J. P., County Sligo, writes that he"I was opposed to this (closing public-houses on Sundays) movement, but I have heard so much of the beneficial effects of Sunday closing in the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cashel, promoted by the Archbishop, I am now as much in favour of it as I was opposed to it."
Mr. Disney, J. P., Curragh Camp, writes that—"Believes that a great deal of crime is caused, and a great many poor families driven to ruin and the poor-house by Sunday drinking. By all means let us have public-houses closed on Sunday. It will be a blessing to Ireland."
I will now leave the matter in the hands of the House. I wish it had fallen into the hands of an abler advocate. That could have easily happened, but it could not have fallen into the hands of one who has seen more of the sad effects of intemperance than I have, and who well knows that among the agencies that perpetuate the vice of intemperance, there is not one that is more fruitful in all the evils that follow habits of intemperance with all their bad consequences than "Sunday drinking in Ireland.""The restrictions of the hours for the sale of intoxicating drinks has materially improved the morals of the people in this locality; nevertheless, nothing but the entire cessation of the liquor traffic on Sundays will obtain the requisite decorum."
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—( Sir Dominic Corrigan.)
in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, he did so neither as an advocate of the licensed vintners nor because he was in favour of the unrestricted sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays. He opposed the Bill on principle, because he disliked all such compulsory prohibitive legislation, and believed that the passing, of such a Bill would lead to the creation of evils of much greater magnitude—in the shape of "shebeens" and irregular houses—than those which the promoters of the Bill professed it was intended to remedy. He hoped that the House would deal summarily with the Bill, and that by its prompt rejection they would show that Parliament disapproved of those irritating discussions, which could not by any possibility have any practical or beneficial result. He denied, from his own personal knowledge, that there was that unanimity in favour of the measure which the hon. Baronet alleged, and asserted that it was only a small and active minority who were in favour of Sunday closing. He pointed out that a Bill for regulating the sale of fermented and distilled liquors by retail on Sundays in Ireland, which was prepared and brought in by the hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly), the noble Lord the Member for Monaghan (Lord Cremorne), and the senior Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim), read a first time and ordered to be printed on the 18th of February 1868, extended the prohibition of the sale of liquors to be consumed on the premises to the entire of Sunday, but permitted their sale for consumption off the premises from 2 o'clock to 4 o'clock, and from 8 o'clock to 9 o'clock, and by eating-house keepers to their customers at meals. After considerable discussion that Bill was referred to a Select Committee consisting of 15 Members—1 English, 1 Scotch, and 13 Irish Members, all still Members of the House, with the exception of Mr. Pollard-Urquhart, Mr. Leader, and the noble Lord the late Governor General of India, the then Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Committee sat 13 days, extending over a period of more than two months, examined 22 witnesses, representing almost every class and district in Ireland, and their unanimous Report and recommendations appeared in the shape of the Bill "as amended by the Select Committee," brought in by the same bon. Members, on the 26th of May of the same year, which merely restricted the hours for sale of liquors, whether drunk on or off the premises, from 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock in rural districts, and from 2 to 9 o'clock in cities and towns of over 5,000 inhabitants, giving power to the magistrates in petty sessions to licence hotels in rural districts to remain open to 9 o'clock, and power to local boards to restrict the hours in towns of over 5,000 inhabitants to the hours fixed for rural districts. The Bill was not persevered with but was re-introduced in 1869, and withdrawn on the representation that the subject would be dealt with by the Government Bill when introduced; that promise was fully redeemed last Session when those restrictions, recommended by and embodied in the Bill of the Select Committee, were adopted and enacted by the Bill of last Session. He asked what ease had been made out to justify an interference with the existing Act, which he asserted had been found to work satisfactorily, or what evidence had been brought forward to displace that given before the Select Committee? The hon. Baronet had produced no evidence as to the necessity of the Bill. He had quoted the opinions of private individuals in favour of the movement, but he had produced no Report or statement in support of his views from the magistrates or the police, who were responsible for the good order and government of the country, and the accuracy of which could be tested. On referring to the evidence taken by the Select Committee of 1868, he found that all those who had the largest experience of the working of the Acts regulating the liquor traffic were opposed to the total closing of public-houses on Sundays. What said Mr. O'Ferrall, the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dublin, speaking from large experience?—that "total closing on Sundays would not be desirable." Inspector Corr—well known, he was sure, to the junior Member for Dublin, as he was to many hon. Members of the House, as one of the ablest and most experienced officers in the force—gave strong evidence against total closing or absolute prohibition; as did also probably the best known police magistrate in Ireland, Mr. Frank Thorpe Porter, for upwards of 20 years the chief divisional magistrate in Dublin. The Mayor of Cork considered that "it would be utterly impossible to stop the sale of intoxicating drink on Sundays," and considered that "the people, while in favour of increased restriction, were totally opposed to entire prohibition;" and Canon M'Cabe, one of the most able and eminent dignitaries of the Catholic Church in Dublin, while most favourable to temperance and increased restrictions, "could not recommend total closing on Sundays." The hon. Baronet referred to Scotland, and to the encouraging results there of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act. He (Mr. Callan) knew very little of Scotland, but if there was no drunkenness and gross immorality in the lower quarters of the large towns of Scotland on Sundays, then all he could say was that they were the most maligned and calumniated people on the face of the earth. If the feeling in favour of closing public-houses on Sunday in Ireland was so universal as alleged, why not leave the matter to the spontaneous action of the people and lend their aid to the clergy in their effort to promote amongst and by the people a voluntary temperance law, which they would observe with fidelity? He objected to the Bill as "class legislation" which would press vexatiously on the artisan and labourer, and leave untouched the "club of the rich man," where the hon. Baronet and other supporters of the Bill could indulge in their "sherry and seltzer," whilst the poor man who came out for a breath of fresh air after working all the week could not get a "drop of drink"—even a glass of beer. He had often wondered at the remarkable absence of the name of the hon. Baronet from the division lists on the many Coercion Bills for Ireland; but perhaps the present Bill afforded the ex- planation that the hon. Baronet was in favour of restrictive and coercive measures for his country. If his recollection did not fail him, the hon. Baronet in one of his canvassing harangues, spoke pathetically of the injustice and hardship of a law which would restrict the people of Ireland from being allowed to have and enjoy their glass of whisky or beer on the Sunday. Yet the hon. Baronet now wished the House of Commons to pass a Bill which would impose restrictions on the people, and debar them from obtaining on the Sunday that which was necessary for them. He (Mr. Callan) thought they had quite enough of restrictions in Ireland, without the hon. Baronet coming forward to aid in imposing further restrictions on its people. He recollected that one of the most eloquent speeches that had been made against closing public-houses on Sundays was made by the hon. Baronet. [Sir DOMINIC CORRIGAN: No, no; that is quite a mistake.] He thought, as he said before, in referring to it, that he remembered the hon. Baronet saying that if he landed at Kingstown on a Sunday from his yacht, he might go to his club or to an hotel and have a glass of sherry and seltzer-water, or a "brandy and soda," and that it would be a hardship that his boatmen, who might be wet through and exhausted by their exertions, could not get even a glass of "grog" at a public-house. The hon. Baronet seemed to sneer at those Members who had expressed their sympathy for the working men, and said they were a class of persons whom he did not trust. Very probably the mistrust was mutual, and he (Mr. Callan) should be surprised if the working men of Dublin did not at the coming General Election show in a very marked manner their mistrust of the hon. Member. The hon. Baronet had asked by what authority the opponents of his Bill spoke on behalf of the working men of Ireland, and called upon them to show their "credentials." Well, he (Mr. Callan) required no credentials of the kind. In every movement having for its object the advancement of, or the interest of, the working man, he had, in the county to which he belonged, taken his part, and on their behalf and in their name he objected to this most vexatious Bill. He could not understand why the hon. Baronet persisted with it unless, indeed, he wished to leave it as a parting bequest to his constituents on his leave-taking, now on the eve of a dissolution. If the hon. Baronet introduced a Bill of a permissive nature, giving the power of closing public houses on the Sunday to a substantial majority of the inhabitants of the district, say three-fourths or four-fifths, he would support it on principle, as a logical sequence to the demand of the people for Home Rule, and also because such a power, whilst it would never be exercised against respectable and properly conducted houses, would act as a salutary check and deterrent on parties otherwise disposed. The reason why Sunday closing had succeeded so well the dioceses of Cashel and Ferns was because it was done with the concurrence of the people. And he could confidently assert that such an arbitrary Bill as the one before the House would never meet with the concurrence of the people, but on the contrary would act as a repellant and seriously injure, rather than serve, the voluntary movement in those districts. Before sitting down, he must express his surprise at the character given to the people of Dublin and suburbs by their Representative. If he (Mr. Callan) were a stranger, he would, after hearing the hon. Baronet, leave the House under the impression that the principal Sunday characteristics of the hon. Baronet's constituents was drunkenness and disorderly "rowdyism." Well, he could, from personal knowledge, assure the House that the people of Dublin, the artizans and working classes, were most exemplary—creditable alike to themselves and their country. Such a Bill as this could not work without the consent of the people, and no evidence had been produced to the House by the hon. Baronet to show that the people of Ireland had consented to accept the measure, therefore he felt justified in moving its rejection.
ventured to second the Amendment at the risk of incurring the censure of the hon. Baronet, who said he could not approve the gratuitous champions of the working men in this matter. He (Mr. Lowther) strongly objected to the view of some supporters of the measure, that it should be passed because bodies of persons outside were loud in their advocacy of it; and he could not understand why in a matter of that nature, the working classes of Ireland should be legislated for in an exceptional manner. He regarded the individual opinion of Members of Parliament, as opposed to the moving impulse of the mere delegate, as an element of Parliamentary government which should be jealously guarded. Nothing could be more harmful to the influence of the House than the propagation of an opinion, that no one should be listened to unless he could prove for the occasion that he was the delegate of others outside. That would be destructive of the very essence of Parliamentary government. But after all, what was the hon. Baronet but a gratuitous champion in this matter—the amicus curiœ of those whose views he advocated? He could not, however, but recollect that the hon. Baronet had been a party to the Licensing Act of last Session, and therefore he could not understand why he should come down to that House, in the second week in July, and ask them to disturb that arrangement, which, whatever might be its defects, or whatever might be its merits, had been generally accepted as no unfair settlement of the question. The hon. Baronet, who had very much overstated his case, must be fully aware that that was a question on which considerable difference of opinion existed. He was, he was bound to confess, much struck at the success of the hon. Baronet in getting a House together; but, at the same time, he would venture to observe that if a vote of the House were now taken on the Bill, it would represent rather the opinion of Irish Members than the pronounced decision of the imperial Legislature. Great stress had been laid upon the fact that Petitions numerously signed had been presented in favour of the Bill; but they all knew how Petitions of that kind were got up, and therefore he attached no importance to them. The hon. Baronet had, however, urged another and a better argument in favour of his Bill. He had told the House that all the rows and riots in Ireland, nay, he went further and included sedition, were to be traced to the use of whisky-punch in public-houses on Sundays. Now, if the hon. Baronet could assure the House that Ireland would become quiet, peaceful, and loyal, if the Bill were passed, he (Mr. Lowther), although he differed from it in principle, would be inclined to support it. That, indeed, would be a strong case made out in its favour, and the measure itself would be an agreeable substitute for Coercion Acts and Arms Acts and for Acts suspending the constitutional privileges of the subject. Still the Bill would only provide an immunity from outrage and disloyalty on one day out of seven, so that his statistics and facts went beyond the scope of his Bill. Then as regarded the settlement of last year, he (Mr. Lowther) was not going to say that it was to be considered a final one; but he would say that the hon. Baronet had not made out any case for disturbing that settlement in a way which would only apply to Ireland. He objected to such piecemeal dealing with a particular subject, and thought it better than have three Acts dealing with the same subject, they should be all consolidated in a sense which would render the application of the combined Act universal throughout the United Kingdom. He hoped that when they did come to amend the Licensing Act, the measure would be framed in a considerate spirit, and made capable of universal application.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—( Mr. Callan.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
supported the Bill. There was, he said, a growing feeling in favour of it throughout the county which he had represented for the last thirty-eight years, and his experience led him to believe that it would be acceptable to the working classes of Ireland. That feeling was evident from the number of Petitions presented in favour of the Bill signed by the clergy and laity of all denominations. They bore testimony that drunkenness was the curse of the Irish peasantry,—and that by preventing it, they would go far to alleviate the evils of Ireland. There was no question whatever, that the greater the facilities for obtaining drink, the more the prisons were filled. Anyone who doubted what would be the result of passing this measure, he would refer to the evidence taken before Mr. O'Reilly's Committee, where he would see how wide-spread had been the blessing attending the Christian and pa- triotic efforts of one Roman Catholic Prelate, who had got the publicans within his diocese to close their houses upon the Sabbath day. Again, he would mention that in the first year after Forbes-Mackenzie's Act came into operation in Scotland, crime and outrage abated, and that in the City of Glasgow a vote of £12,000 for the enlargement of the prison, made by the municipality the year before, was declared unnecessary. It had, however, been stated that the closing of the public-houses drove the people into illicit houses, and that there was a great deal of clandestine drunkenness. So persistently had that been stated that a Royal Commission, presided over by Sir George Clerk, had been appointed to inquire into it, and their Report gave it a full contradiction.
said, the Bill proposed that there should be a total stoppage of the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sundays. Now, he did not deny the extreme value to society of checking intemperance, but there was some danger in attempting to do so—they would deprive some men of their fair and just rights. The human frame was so constituted that men got hungry and thirsty on Sundays as well as other days, and he therefore thought it extremely unfair to tell the labouring man who took one glass of beer upon Sunday, that he would no longer be permitted to do so because his neighbour took ten. Again, under this Bill a bonâ fide traveller was defined to be a man five miles away from home. Now that was too short a distance where they had a railway, and it was too long a distance where a man was making a journey on foot. The effect of it in Dublin would be to turn all the Sunday drunkenness of that city loose upon Kingstown, which was more than five miles distant. He could not deny the great evils that arose in Ireland from habits of intemperance, particularly as regarded Sunday drinking; but he did not think that such au extreme measure as that proposed was necessary to meet those evils, whilst it was likely to interfere with the convenience and legitimate wants of many persons. They ought, if possible, to prevent the intemperance of those who indulged in excesses in such a way as not to interfere with the moderato and perhaps necessary use of certain refreshments to the thirsty or weary traveller. The great majority of people believed that the moderate use of spirituous and fermented drinks was both healthful and beneficial, and it was an opinion founded upon common sense, and therefore he did not see the necessity for bringing in a Bill to prevent men supplying what was a natural want. If they wished to be consistent they would have to extend the prohibition to all classes of the community, and then they would have in Ireland an agitation as extreme as that which took place in this country some years ago on the occasion of Lord Robert Grosvenor's Bill. These were reasons which induced him to hesitate before giving his support to this Bill. As to the opinions of the working classes on the subject, he was bound to say that although he presented a Petition from a large number of his constituents last year in favour of the Bill he had not been asked to present one either for or against the measure in the present Session. Under such circumstances, he thought he was justified in supposing that his constituents were still favourable to the object of the Bill. He should therefore vote for the second reading, being willing to give the Bill a trial as an experiment, and believing that a large number of the working classes desired it. At the same time, in case it should prove to be inconvenient to a majority of the people, he reserved to himself the right to move for its repeal on some future occasion.
said, he advocated this measure in the interests of the largo number of persons—men, women and children—who were employed in the public-houses in Ireland. He had obtained a Return last Session, which showed that there were in Ireland more than 18,000 houses licensed for the retail sale of spirits or beer, and he thought it was not too high an estimate if he assumed that the attendants and servants in these 18,000 houses were at least 50,000. These persons, many of whom were under 18 years of age, were employed in Dublin from 7 o'clock in the morning until 11 o'clock at night, during six days of the week, and from 2 o'clock to 9 o'clock on Sundays, making in all 103 hours of weekly toil, while factory hands worked for only 60 hours, and were now seeking a reduction to 54 hours a-week. Parliament had legislated as respected factories and mines and workshops, and he (Mr. Pim) thought that similar care ought to be given to the case of those who were employed in public-houses. These young men and young women and boys were kept for 103 hours in Dublin and other large towns, and for 95 hours in country places, serving out beer and whisky, and on their account he asked for at least one clay in the week as a holiday—a day of rest from toil, of religious observance and of rational and healthful recreation. The employment might not be very laborious, but it was continuous, and the time occupied was long. They were, moreover, exposed to the handling, and sight, and smell of that which was a strong temptation, and their very fatigue increased the inducement to indulge in it. He would himself wish to go farther, and to prevent anyone under 21 years of age from being employed in a public-house for more than 10 hours on any day; but the closing of public-houses on Sundays would do something in this direction. The loss of the Sunday trade would have important compensations for the owners of public-houses. They would save the Sunday expenses, which were considerable, and they and their families would enjoy a weekly holiday, which many of them never had now. He knew that many of the most respectable vintners would gladly close their shops on Sundays, if their neighbours in the same trade would close their shops also; but while others kept open they thought they must do the same or that they would lose their week-day customers. In the year 1867 he had presented a Petition to the House signed by 235 spirit grocers and vintners, praying for the closing of public-houses on Sundays, and he had no doubt that very many others would support closing on Sundays but that they feared that illicit trade would be carried on, and that drink would be sold notwithstanding the legal prohibition. No doubt it was impossible wholly to prevent the illicit sale of strong drink. Our laws and punishments did not wholly prevent robbery and other crimes. But he thought the police ought to be able to secure the practical observance of the law, and the Act of last year had given them much greater facilities for doing so. If the shutting up of the public houses lessened drunkenness, the police would have more time to devote to this object. For whose benefit, he would ask, were the public-houses to be kept open on Sundays? It was said to be for the benefit of the working classes; but if this were so, it was strange that there were no Petitions from the working classes against the present Bill. Almost all the Petitions forwarded to the House were in its favour. He maintained that the working classes in Ireland were favourable to Sunday closing, and he would refer to one fact in proof of his assertion. In the spring of last year a meeting was held in the City of Dublin—he was not sure whether in favour of the Permissive Bill or of Sunday closing—at which a person presented himself, claiming to speak for the artizans and tradesmen of Dublin, and stating that it would be unfair to them to close the public-houses on Sunday. The result of the declaration so made was that a meeting of the artizans and working men was held in the large room at the Mechanics' Institute. He (Mr. Pim) was informed that the room was crowded — more than 1,000 persons being present, and the meeting very enthusiastic. The resolutions were almost unanimously adopted, and a Petition signed by the chairman was presented to this House, praying that the Bill for closing public-houses on Sunday might become law. This was the only meeting of working men which he was aware of having been called to express an opinion on the subject; but he challenged the opposers of the measure to get up such meetings in Dublin and elsewhere, and thus ascertain what the wishes of the working men really were. Let meetings of working men be held, not under the influence of those who were opposed to Sunday closing, nor of those who were its advocates, but meetings impartially conducted and free from constraint, and the decision of these meetings, whether for or against the proposed measure, would have great influence, and would go far to decide the course which ought to be pursued. There were difficulties in the way of closing public-houses on Sunday in England which did not exist in Ireland. In England, beer was an article of diet—it was consumed by almost every family at dinner; but it was not so in Ireland. Very few of the artizan class in Ireland used beer at their meals, and therefore they would not be inconvenienced in this respect by the public-houses being closed on Sundays. The trade was a dangerous one for all who were concerned in it. It exposed them to a great, a most seductive temptation, and many fell victims to it. The long hours and continuous work increased the danger. He would appeal to the owners of public-houses themselves whether this was not true. Would any man in the trade bring up his children as attendants in a public-house, if he could possibly avoid it? If the trade must be carried on, we ought to try to reduce its danger to a minimum. He believed it would be a great blessing to those engaged in the trade, as well as to their families and servants, to get at least one day in the week free. He would be glad it it were possible to prevent any young persons from being employed in a public-house. Men might withstand the temptation, even with the constant sight and smell and taste, but it must act fearfully on the young. Pass this Bill, give them one day of freedom in each week—one day for innocent and healthful enjoyment in common with the other classes of the community and they would have done something to strengthen them against the temptations of the other six. He was convinced that the proposed measure was fully justified by public opinion in Ireland, and he had no doubt that if it could be submitted to an Irish Parliament it would be adopted without much hesitation. He should therefore give his cordial support to the second reading.
said, there was one argument used by the hon. Baronet who moved the second reading, and repeated by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, against which he must enter his humble protest. Both hon. Gentlemen referred to the circumstance that a great number of Petitions had been presented in favour of the Bill, while none were sent in against it; and they alleged that that was a conclusive proof that the people of Ireland were in its favour. Now, so far as the Petitions in its favour went he had nothing to say; but he must protest against the conclusion arrived at that because no Petitions were sent in against it the people of Ireland were in favour of a measure of this description. For his own part, he was personally opposed to legislation like that, and against being put down as a supporter of such restrictive regulations. Whenever the people of Ireland saw there was a probability of a Bill of the kind becoming law, then he had no doubt they would exhibit their feelings in a manner not to be mistaken. The fact was, that in conjunction with the people of England, the Irish nation were very careful in seeing that the privileges they already possessed should not be interfered with or curtailed, but, however, they could not always be petitioning in favour of what they had already obtained. It was not his intention to go into the arguments for or against the Bill, for he could add nothing to them; but he must object to the suggestion thrown out by the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Bruen). The hon. Gentleman said that it was meant as an experiment; but that was not the way to deal with important interests that would be seriously affected by its provisions. They ought to make up their minds as to what was right, and if Parliament thought the people of Ireland were in favour of some such measure, it would no doubt adopt the same course it did in the case of Scotland. In that case, it was represented that great advantage followed the adoption of the Forbes-Mackenzie Act as regarded that country; but he was informed that great differences of opinion existed as to the working of that Act in Scotland. Although the majority of Scotch Members in the House were in its favour, there was, he repeated, a great difference of opinion even among Scotchmen themselves, as to whether it promoted the cause of morality and sobriety. The circumstances of the two countries were, however, extremely different, for it was not the custom in Ireland to observe the Sunday with that degree of strictness with which it was kept by the Scotch people, who were Presbyterians; and he was by no means satisfied that any attempt to enforce the closing of public-houses on Sunday would be received in Ireland with anything like that unanimity which should justify the House in adopting such a measure. Moreover, that was not the time to proceed with the trial of another experiment of that nature. If it were to be done at all, it ought to have been proposed when the Government introduced a Bill dealing with the whole system of licensing. The opinions of the Government were clearly expressed; the Bill was debated fully in the House, and it was not then considered that public opinion in Ireland was in favour of prohibiting the sale of liquors on Sundays. If the House on that occasion differed from the promoters of the Bill, they ought to have said so. The opinion of the House was not that public-houses should be closed on Sundays, but that the hours of sale should be more restricted on Sundays than on other days both in England and in Ireland. Under that Act the trade had been regulated; much more severe penalties had been enacted for every violation of the licensing laws; the hours of sale were restricted, and the distinction between Sundays and other days of the week was rendered more marked by shortening the hours of sale on Sundays, and if the subject was again to be opened up, it must necessarily be attended with very serious evils. He knew there were hon. Members in that House who looked upon publicans as enemies of the human race, to be crushed and put down as soon as possible. He for one did net look upon them in any such light. They were a respectable class of tradesmen who supplied one of the necessities of the community; whose business that House had a right to regulate in the interests of law and order; but, giving their trade the sanction of that law, they were not at liberty to interfere with them by continual attacks like the proposing of a Bill of this description. He believed that such a course went far to justify them in assuming the aggressive attitude they had assumed. The House must be aware that their character and respectability was a matter of great public interest, and they ought not to be continually exposed to attacks on their trade and the large vested interests which were involved in it. On the part of the Government, therefore, he could not give his sanction to this Bill. His own opinion was entirely adverse to such legislation as class legislation, and as a most unnecessary interference with trade, and especially one in which a large capital was vested. If it were the prevailing opinion that public-houses should be closed on Sundays, the duty of the Legislature would be clear and distinct, and such a course ought to have been insisted upon last Session when the Licensing Bill was before the House; but until that time came and a stronger feeling prevailed in its favour than now existed, he should, on the part of the Government, give his vote against such a proceeding.
differed entirely from the conclusions arrived at by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He knew that in his own district in the North of Ireland the strongest possible feeling existed in favour of closing public-houses on Sundays, and in that part of the country, the people of whatever religious denomination joined in strongly advocating every possible restriction on the consumption of spirituous liquors and the temptation to indulge in them. He did not see why something like the Forbes-Mackenzie Act should not be applied to Ireland. As an Englishman, however, he thought it was impossible to enact such a law for England, the tastes and habits of the people being so different. It must be remembered that in England beer was what might be generally termed the national beverage, but in Ireland spirits were generally drunk, and he need hardly say that in many cases, the worst consequences followed, even among otherwise well-conducted persons. No one could be better adapted for bringing forward such a Bill than the hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading, inasmuch as, belonging to the medical profession, he knew the fatal effects produced by the consumption of intoxicating liquors. Perhaps the best result of the present debate might be that some measure of a tentative nature would be introduced. The Committee of 1868 suggested a reduction of the hours during which public-houses should be permitted to remain open on Sundays, and he thought it would be well to carry out their recommendations. To close public-houses entirely was a serious step to take, as it would certainly lead to great agitation, and would have to be followed a year or so later by the modification or the repeal of the Act by which the change had been effected. He did not wish to detain the House with longer observations on the subject, which involved important questions of a philosophical nature. He was as anxious as were any of the advocates of the Bill, but he hoped his advice would be taken. If the Motion went to a division, he should support the second reading, but only in the hope that the measure would eventually take a purely remedial form.
observed that the hon. Baronet who had just spoken founded his argument on the fact that beer was the common drink in England, while whisky was the common drink in Ireland; but the Act prohibited also the sale of beer in Ireland within the specified limits. In his opinion, legislation against the drunkard, and not against the victualler, should be the principle upon which Parliament should act. He was opposed to all coercive legislation to enforce abstinence, for if they proceeded upon that ground with what consistency could they allow their clubs to remain open? In Switzerland it was against the drunkard that they legislated; and he had seen in a tavern in that country a notice that a particular individual, therein named, was not to be served for two years, under penalties which, for a third offence, involved imprisonment. It was true that in some districts of Ireland public-houses were closed on Sundays in consequence of the influence exerted by the clergy, and there could be no objection to such a proceeding, because it was perfectly voluntary; but he was unwilling to bring about such a result by coercion, and therefore he should record his vote against the second reading of the Bill.
said, he should certainly oppose the Bill unless he received the assurance that it would receive a considerable modification in Committee. He could see no reason why a man, because he happened to be poor, should not be entitled to the refreshment on a Sunday which he was accustomed to have on a week-day. He should only support the second reading of the Bill if that privilege were reserved to the poor man. As to clubs, they were very different from public-houses kept by persons whose interest it was to sell as much drink as they possibly could. In clubs, whether frequented by the rich or the poor, it was quite different, because there the interest of the persons concerned was that the place should be quietly and respectably conducted.
said, that in his opinion the people of Ireland were decidedly in favour of this Bill. He did not pretend to say what would be its fate in any English Parliament; but of this he was certain, that an Irish Parliament sitting at College Green would undoubtedly give effect to the public wishes, by passing it into law. It was, he thought, a good measure, and had his cordial support.
said, that in the year 1856 he had been a Member of the Committee of the late Mr. Berkeley, when feeling ran high in this metropolis and when a Gentleman, then a Member of the House (Mr. Dundas), had stated that such expressions of opinion could best be arrested by the "trail of a six-pounder." At that time public opinion was against the then legislation, and he had in consequence supported Mr. Berkeley. It might appear strange that he should take a different course upon that occasion, but circumstances were changed. Now, however it arose, he had no expression of opinion from his constituents against this Bill, on the contrary, many Petitions were forwarded to him in its favour, many, strange to say, from spirit dealers. Under such circumstances he did not feel justified—no matter what was his own opinion—in going against the opinion thus expressed by a section of his constituents, and finding no movement on the opposite side, he therefore should not vote on that occasion.
said, he was a promoter of the Permissive Bill, but nevertheless deemed it his duty to vote against the present measure. In the course of the debate on the Licensing Act a proposal was made to give two-thirds of the magistrates power to close public-houses on Sundays, but only 25 hon. Members voted in favour of it. If all the clergy of the different denominations were united in the desire to carry out the object of this Bill they could easily do so without any legislation whatever. That had actually been done by an Irish Prelate in the county of Tipperary, through his own individual exertions, and what had been done there might be done elsewhere. It was, however, found that that did not prevent drinking, and the small number of publicans who had taken six-day licences showed that the trade was not in favour of Sunday closing. He was entirely opposed to the principle of the Bill. He thought it a cruel thing to attempt to harass persons in a humble sphere with restrictions that could not affect those who were well off. How was the publican to know whether a man was five miles from his home; and what sort of evidence was to be deemed sufficient to satisfy him? And if a man were to be allowed a glass of beer or of spirits after walking five miles, could it be refused to one who had walked only four and a-half? Persons coming from their places of worship in the mountains should certainly be allowed that privilege; and he hoped the hon. Member for Dublin would see the matter in the same light. He contended that Irishmen drank much less than Scotchmen or Englishmen, and denied that there was anything like unanimity of opinion in Ireland in favour of the Bill.
said, he took great interest in the success of the measure, and therefore could not but express his regret at the slight interest taken in the matter by the Members of Her Majesty's Government. He was sorry to hear the speech of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, the more so as the noble Marquess's share in the Government of Ireland during the last three years had given great satisfaction. Fenians, Home Rulers, and other rebels assembled in public-houses on Sundays to plot against the country, and that was a reason why the Home Secretary and the noble Marquess should have urged on the House the importance of passing the Bill.
said, that was not a question affecting Ireland only; but even if it were, he denied that there was any such unanimity in Ireland on this subject as had been represented. Many of, indeed, nearly all, the magistrates or persons exercising jurisdiction in the larger towns and centres of Ireland, who were examined before the Committee, stated that it would be a bad thing if public-houses were wholly closed on Sundays. It was unfair to the publicans of both countries to assume that they desired to carry on their business—subject of course to their own reasonable profits — from any other motive than that of affording a legitimate public convenience. It was all very well to say that the cases of public-houses and of clubs were entirely different; but no view that could be held on that point could justify the proposition contained in the Bill. He could not see how they could legislate for particular individuals by depriving others, who committed no offence, of what was their right. The principle of the Bill was applicable not only to Ireland, but to England also; and he believed that it would be a bad thing absolutely to close all public-houses on Sundays, because it would be monstrously unfair to do so, as it would work much hardship in individual cases. How often, for instance, did it happen—as the hon. Member for Dublin must know full well—that spirits were wanted on Sundays for medical purposes; and had he no regard for what might happen when, by the legislation he proposed, it would be denied? He should oppose the Bill.
in reply, said, he had no desire to stand by the traveller's clause or by the limit of five miles; but to leave those and other details to be determined by the Committee, preserving, however, the principle of the Bill as one for closing on Sundays.
The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 140: Majority 57.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Second Reading put off for three months.
Municipal Boroughs Extension Bill—Bill 48
( Mr. Henry Samuelson, Mr. Wykeham Martin, Mr. Staveley Hill.)
Order for Second Reading read.
said, that at the present period of the Session it was quite impossible to go on with the Bill with any chance of success. He had, however, reason to hope from a statement made to the House by the Secretary to the Local Government Board during the debate on the question of appointing the Select Committee on Boundaries, that the Government were in favour of the principle of the measure, and he hoped that they would bring in a Bill embodying the main principle of his Bill if not he should certainly re-introduce his Bill next Session. He therefore moved that the Order be discharged.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Order be discharged."— ( Mr. Henry Samuelson.)
wished to know, before the Motion was agreed to, whether the Government agreed in the principle of the Bill, which might be introduced again next Session.
said, he had not had an opportunity of consulting his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Stansfeld) on the subject, but he might say that, although the question was deserving of attention, the details of the present Bill were faulty, and if it went to a division it would be his duty to vote against the second reading. What the Bill proposed to do, must he done in a different way.
under the circumstances, objected to the Motion for the discharge of the Order, until the House had an opportunity of discussing and expressing an opinion on its principle. They ought to have some formal statement of the views of the Government on the subject.
moved that in the absence of the President of the Local Government Board, the debate be adjourned.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—( Mr. Robert Fowler.)
regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board was not in his place, to state whether the principle of the Bill was to become that of the Government measure.
said, that the statement that the Government would consider the question with a view to legislation arose upon discussion of an Amendment moved by him, that the boundaries of Municipal Boroughs should be considered in the Committee on Boundaries. He could not help thinking that hon. Members on the Opposition Benches found it convenient to discuss the withdrawal of his hon. Relative's modest little Bill in order to prevent the Burials Bill from coming on.
in reply, said, that it might with quite as much reason be said that the Bill was being withdrawn unexpectedly, and without Notice, in order that the Burials Bill might come on. The present measure was brought in at an early period of the Session, and then, when an opportunity was afforded for discussing the Bill and justifying it, the hon. Member proposed its withdrawal.
said, that he failed to understand the utility of occupying the time of the House by a discussion of the details of a Bill which there was no chance of passing so late in the Session. He had put the Bill on the Paper for second reading on a Wednesday in the middle of the Session, and had not the House been adjourned over that day in consequence of the Ministerial resignation he would have been quite prepared to discuss and justify the measure. He did not assert that the Secretary to the Local Government Board had promised to legislate in the spirit of the Bill, but that he had expressed his approval of some such method of relieving municipal boroughs from expense in procuring an extension of their boundaries. He would introduce the Bill next Session.
said, he did not concur in the Bill, but could not join in the unusual course of refusing to allow the Order to be discharged.
Motion agreed to.
Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be adjourned till this day three months."—( Mr. Henry Samuelson.)
The House divided:—Ayes 185; Noes 91: Majority 94.
Burials Bill Bill 9
( Mr. Osborne Morgan, Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Mr. Hadfield, Mr. M'Arthur.)
Order for Committee read.
in moving that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, in order that the House might go into Committee on the Bill said, that but for the extraordinary and unprecedented course which had been taken in regard to it, he would have contented himself by merely raising his hat when the Order was read. He found himself confronted by two hostile Amendments which had been put on the Paper by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) and the hon. and learned Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes). He, however, knew the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge too well. If he once got on his legs to deal with a subject of the kind, no human power would ever bring him down before the time fixed by the rules of the House for closing the debate. Having no wish that the hon. Member should have the whole of the talking that day, he hoped the House would hear him for a few minutes. He desired to explain that as a private Member, he had found it impossible under the rules of the House to bring on his measure on an earlier day, and that he had applied to the Government to help him. Wednesday had been all along his only day. The House had sat 15 Wednesdays, and on those occasions had had 104 Bills to deal with, giving an average of 47 minutes to each Bill. A glance at those figures would show how impossible it had been for him to get on faster. First let him say a word as to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Chester, who desired fuller information on the subject before the passing of a Bill like the present. His thirsty soul yearned for more knowledge and more light; but it so happened the House was in possession of information fuller and more accurate than any ever placed before it in preceding Sessions while with regard to the one placed on the Paper by his hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, it had had the effect of preventing his bringing on the Bill, because the Government had been unable to afford him any assistance in the matter. A House of upwards of 500 Members—the fullest that had ever divided on a private Member's Bill—had, after a long and eloquent speech against the measure from the Leader of the Opposition, resolved by a majority of 63 to read the Bill a second time. Did the hon. Member think that his ingenuity and his eloquence would prevail where the ingenuity and eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman had failed? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire was very different in opposition from what he was in power, and when in office he might come to consider the Burials Bill was even a Conservative measure. The object of the hon. Member was evidently to gain time, thinking that that being the last Session of the present Parliament, it would be a gain to his cause to put it off until another Parliament should have been elected, and that strong Ecclesiastical spirit by which, according to the Leader of the Opposition, the artizan classes were penetrated, had had time to come into play. Well, he could assure the hon. Member that the supporters of the measure could afford to wait, though it was desirable in the interests of humanity that the question should be settled once and for ever. But delay which was irksome to them was fatal to their opponents. Every debate on this Bill was another nail knocked into the coffin of the Church of England. It would be truly said that a Church which held that Nonconformists should take their choice between being buried like a Churchman and being buried like a dog was no true national Church. He wished his hon. Friend opposite to learn that if the Church of England—which after all was but a creature of compromise—was to be saved at all, it would be saved by timely concessions, and that the most sweeping revolutions were those which were brought about by obstructing moderate reforms.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Osborne Morgan.)
believed that, as time went on and that question was better understood, that Bill met with less and less acceptance from the country, and it was moreover quite impossible that it could be properly discussed at that period of the Session. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan), that the question should be settled once and for ever, though not exactly in the way the hon. Gentleman himself proposed; but in the way desired by those persons who wished to see peace and quietness reign among the inhabitants of our country villages. Since the debate on the Bill would only be of a perfunctory character he moved that the Order be discharged.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the said Order be discharged,"—( Mr. Pell,)—instead thereof.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the compliment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) in saying that when once I am on my legs no power on earth can get me down again. If, however, he thinks that by that sort of indirect compliment he will lead me either to lengthen or to shorten my remarks he is mistaken. The question of the Burials Bill has, even since the 26th of March—to which my hon. and learned Friend has referred —vitally changed its character. Still more has it gone through many phases from the first time that my hon. and learned Friend obtained a Select Committee upon his original measure in one of the earliest Sessions of this Parliament. At that date the question was in its romantic or Idyllic stage. It professed to relate to a simple isolated grievance, the removal of which, so we were told, was desired by the kindness of the Nonconformists as a means of strengthening the Established Church of England. It is in the recollection of both sides of the House, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Mr. Morley), to whom we may look as the representative of the more moderate and tolerant section of Nonconformity, said that if the removal of this grievance, as he deemed it, were granted, and if the University tests were repealed, Dissenters, as such, would no longer have any grievance left. Well, Sir, University tests have been repealed, so that the only grievance which now remains, according to the statement of the hon. Member for Bristol, is this of dissenters burials. Now, let me take the words of my hon. and learned Friend. He has argued that these pieces of ground are not properly churchyards but graveyards, and he said that they were the property of the parish, and that every parishioner had a right to be buried in them. Without entering into the verbal controversy, I most cordially agree with his second statement. It is the right of every parishioner to seek burial in these yards, and those on this side of the House who think that this Bill is superfluous, were, nevertheless, prepared during the last Session to support a measure which came down to us from "another place," reaffirming the common-law right of all persons to be buried in the parish graveyard, and, further, giving facilities to those who desired to be buried in some peculiar, sectarian, or exclusive manner, to obtain possession of graveyards, in which they could lie free from the contamination of having the bodies of Churchmen for their neighbours. I be- lieve that on this very evening my hon. and learned Friend will carry through Amendments originated in that "other place" giving effect to the last named remedy. So of the two grievances, then, one has by the voice of Parliament been removed, and as to the other, if it does exist in face of the Bill so soon to become law, and in face of the common-law right of parishioners, which no statute, I believe, can make really stronger, we are prepared to meet all reasonable claims on the part of our Nonconforming So much as to the ostensible state of the case in reference to the shape in which it was presented to the Select Committee; but what is the aspect of the matter now? My hon. and learned Friend has great experience in addressing mixed audiences; but with all his ingenious ability, can he argue that the question stands now in the same position as that in which he himself put it when he brought in the Bill this Session? Still more does it stand in the position the hon. Member for Bristol placed it in that former year. He cannot say that it does. He knows as well as any of us that since that time the whole question of the Church of England Establishment has passed from the platform and the lecture-room, and has become a matter on which parties in this House have been formally asked to vote. The disestablishment question having come to the fore, and been taken up by a certain section of the House as the burning question of the day, it is impossible for us to disentangle this so-called grievance from that transcendent issue. It has, even ostentatiously, become a part of the question of disestablishment. We all know that the Liberation Society is the authorized mouthpiece of the disestablishment party. And what said the Liberation Society on the subject of Church property before the period of Irish disestablishment? I claim particular attention to the passage which I am about to cite, and to its date. Before the Irish crisis, the Liberation Society had put forward its "platform," and in that I find these words—
You will observe, Sir, "the application to secular uses ….. of all national property"—national property, without doubt, being intended to include not only tithes and other endowments, but the churches and the churchyards of the Established Church, which we contend are the private property of the Church of England, as Church of England; but which, the hon. Mover contends, are national property. Now, by the Irish Church Act, while life interests only were regarded so far as its monied property was concerned, the buildings and the churchyards were allowed to remain the individual property of the community which had hitherto had the use of them for the purposes of worship and of burial. That is the principle which was sanctioned by the Irish Church Act, and the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire is too good a lawyer not to agree with me upon the value of the precedent as to the use of these buildings and grounds remaining in the hands of the body to whom it had heretofore belonged, instead of a concurrent user being created on the part of other denominations. Well, the Liberation party—which has now become the disestablishment party—encouraged by the success of Irish disestablishment, to make a similar raid upon the Church of England, but anxious, at the same time, if it carried its point in England, that it should be carried on terms more unfavourable to the English Church than to its Irish compeer, has constructed reasons why the churchyards, if not the churches, should be removed out of the category of property which might rightfully remain in the hands of the body who now use them, and should be treated in the words of the programme of the Liberation Society as "national property." Under these circumstances, and whether we like it or not, the question has assumed a totally different position by the movement of the disestablishment party on one side, and by the precedent of the disestablishment of the Irish Church on the other. But there is another contingency which has occurred previously to Irish disestablishment, but which must be taken into consideration as immediately affecting the question. I refer to the abolition of the compulsoriness of church rates, and the transformation of the church rate from a tax recoverable by legal process to a mere free-will offering of the congregations. The church rate having been thus changed into a free-will offering, the maintenance of the parish churchyard fell to the share of those who eared for it; hut, at the same time, the common-law right of every resident parishioner to be buried in it remains just where it was before. For the sake of peace, Churchmen held out the olive-branch to their Nonconformist fellow-citizens by abandoning the compulsory church rate; but, whilst they did so, was any single whisper raised in favour of making the churchyards more exclusive than they were? Was it ever proposed to shut out any man from burial in a churchyard who, as a parishioner, had a right to be interred there? Quite the contrary. In short, the surrender of the compulsory church rate, viewed by the light of fact, and not by the glare of party, was not only the surrender of a claim, but the positive gift of valuable and pre-existent property made in the interests of peace. Churchmen voluntarily took upon themselves to maintain the ground for the joint use of their Nonconformist brethren and themselves, although previously they had a right to call upon those brethren to bear their share of the cost in what was au equal benefit to them; but throughout all the agitation which this burial question has occasioned, and in all the debates which have taken place in this House respecting it, one thing that has struck mo as singular is that I have never seen any suggestion on the part of those who are most zealous in their support of my hon. and learned Friend to take upon themselves any portion of the burthen which they shuffled off, and which we willingly consented to their shuffling off in the cause of peace a few years ago when church rates ceased to be compulsory."The application to secular uses, after an equitable satisfaction of existing interests, of all national property, now held in trust by the United Church of England and Ireland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and concurrently with it the liberation of those Churches from all State control."
In my first Bill I introduced a clause throwing the maintenance of the churchyard upon the parish, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope) was instrumental in having it rejected in the Select Committee.
I accept my hon. and learned Friend's reminder. The fact is, that he is too good for the party he leads. No doubt, it was his natural instinct of equity which led him to make the proposal, but to that proposal I felt objections which I am not ashamed of. If we had ac- cepted it, we should have thrown away our property in the churchyards. We should have seen them, theoretically, slip through our fingers, in case the question of disestablishment ever becomes more than the means of giving us occasional exercise in the lobbies. In that suggestion my hon. and learned Friend judged wisely for those on whose part he was acting, and who, I must observe, have never shown the least inclination to renew the offer. But it also showed the wisdom of Churchmen in rejecting, at an earlier date, the various compromises by which it was once proposed to settle the church rate question by compulsorily rating all the parishioners for the maintenance of the fabric and the ground, and leaving the expenses of worship to be defrayed by voluntary contributions. If a fabric rate had been conceded, or if the clause, of which my hon. and learned Friend once advocated, should ever form part of a settlement, there could be no doubt that the Nonconformist body would have established a reasonable ground for their claims. But what is the grievance after all? We are all of one mind that every parishioner has a common-law right to be buried in the churchyard of his parish, with a form of words or with no form of words; and the grievance is that, if a form of words is used, it is to be a specified form, and is to be used by a specified man—namely, the parish minister or the chaplain of the cemetery. Well, if there be any grievance in this, it is one that equally affects Churchmen and Nonconformists. If the words contained in the Burial Service of the Church of England were such as could irritate the conscience or pain the feelings of any man, then you would have a grievance; but I do not understand that it is alleged by the most virulent opponents of the present state of things, that there is any conscientious objection to that service. Quite the contrary. It is generally admitted to be a beautiful and scriptural form of words. Then, where is your grievance, I ask? It is simply this—that at a burial taking place in the churchyard, one form of words, and one only, has to be used, and that the persons who use that form of words must be one particular set of officers of the Church of England. Let us take the case of a member of the Church of England who happens to be of an ecstatic, an impulsive, or poetical turn of mind. He thinks that the appointed form of words is not sufficient to express his feelings at the interment of some much loved friend. He covets a funeral oration, or he might desire the cadences of some favourite hymn; or, perhaps, he belongs to a section of the Church which likes to give a more than usual emphasis to the ceremonial arrangements of the service, and would therefore wish to have the funeral service of the Church of England conducted with some unusual pomp and circum stance. That man after death, and his surviving sympathizers, have a grievance identical with that of the Nonconformist. It is as great, if not greater. He cannot be buried in the churchyard in the precise manner which he had directed on his death-bed, or in the way in which his friends, knowing his temperament, might is the grievance, such as it is, of the unconventional Churchman not less than of the Dissenter—namely, that if any form of words be used, that form of words is prescribed according to a particular order, and must be recited by a particular man, and at his discretion in the accessories. I confess that I am totally unable to see any conscientious grievance wrapped up in this limitation. Of course, it is always most pleasant to do a thing in one's own way and in nobody else's. That is human nature. No doubt, for example, the forms of this House are often felt to be onerous by hon. Members, who would like, when the Mace is on the Table, to have the privilege of speaking as frequently as they may do when that Mace occupies inability to do so can hardly be called a-conscientious grievance. In the graveyard everything cannot be said which everyone wants to say, or in the way in which he wants to have it said. Good order and decency require that there should be a limit somewhere; some boundary and some restriction are indispensable; and, by going through one or two points in the able to show that the present system does give the maximum of licence and liberty. The hon. Mover, in the exercise of his rights, spoke ad invidiam, and described a silent burial as "the burial of a dog." A body is gravely, solemnly, and silently placed in the ground. Weeping and uncovered relatives and friends stand around, and gaze with the sadness that must naturally accompany such a ceremony upon the descending coffin. They have already assembled for prayer at the residence of their deceased brother, or in the place in which he formerly worshipped. If you call that the burial of a clog, I assert that you indulge in a licence of speech which no one in this House could with any self-respect attempt to justify. We know that, among Roman Catholics, that form of burial to which my hon. and learned Friend has applied that contumelious expression is the rule. The depositing of the body in the grave with a form of service is a very old and peculiar English custom, that existed long before the Reformation, and so we have inherited it; but in modern churches in communion with the Church of Rome the contrary custom of the Continent has prevailed, and it is now the characteristic practice of Romanists to perform the religious service at the church to which the body is borne, while all that ever occurs at the grave is the occasional utterance of a funeral oration of a secular description. On the other hand, among the Scottish Presbyterians the religious exercises occur at the house of the deceased, and the interment is a silent act. Therefore if putting the body silently into the ground is the burial of a dog, then the burials of those wide sections of Christendom which continue in the communion of the Romish See, or which adhere to the Westminster Confession, are all burials of dogs. I am sure that the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire will not stand by so monstrous an assertion. Let me now give a view of the question from another side, and call upon my hon. and learned Friend, if he can, to justify that view. Here is a statement of the present system of burials which has been sent forth by a gentleman of great authority and well-earned eminence, whose name I will give when I have read his opinion. This gentleman says—
And I call the particular attention of Gentlemen on the Treasury bench to this—"Is the priest, with his one communicant"—whatever that means—"for ever to be quartered upon us as an ecclesiastical dragoon, and for his insult to be fed with tithes and offerings? If there be justice amongst our statesmen—"
I must apologize to the House for reading the words that follow. I would not do so, indeed, if they came from an obscure writer; but the name of the writer will be my justification for reading these words, which I assure the House fall unwillingly from my lips—"they cannot allow such wrong to be perpetual. Since there is justice with the Most High He will not suffer them to go unpunished."
That is another view of the case; and that is signed with the initials "C. H. S." They are the words of Mr. Spurgeon, and I take them from a publication of his called The Sword and Trowel, of April, 1872. Well, this inflated language—which I dare not characterize as I should wish—comes from a man who, of all others, I suppose may be regarded as the representative minister of the religion of the party for whom this Bill is intended; from a man who has collected and holds together and rules the largest and most enthusiastic Nonconformist congregation in London or in all the country. And this man, this Mr. Spurgeon, dares to use the great influence of his eloquence, his labours and his work, to put forward a charge like that; to arraign the Eternal Wisdom and Justice—aye, and to denounce the Eternal himself as unjust if He does not punish—what? The Church of England, for having in every parish in the land a man of God to counsel the simple, to preach to the broken-hearted, and to perform the offices of religion in the Church and the churchyard. These are the words of Mr. Spurgeon recently used, and I could have quoted many strong expressions which were indulged in some 20 or 30 years ago by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) and other well-known individuals before they had seats in this House; but I will not revert to them. I quote words which were used only last year—several years after this Burial Bill was brought before the House—as they express the feeling at present entertained by a Nonconformist minister of vast influence who has made himself prominent in the ecclesiastico-political arena among the teachers and preachers of disestablish- ment. The presence of the minister of the parish to perform the burial service is "an insult." It is an "insult" that he should be "fed with tithes and offerings." Does Mr. Spurgeon know what he means? Tithes he may object to, because they are a debt due by the law of the land; but an "offering" I have always thought was a free-will gift. So that actually the Almighty is called upon to pour out his vengeance on a person because Christians out of good will are pleased to make offerings to sustain their own pastor! Again, what is the thunder storm which is gathering in the political atmosphere now? It is the rage of the political Nonconformist body at being called upon to recognize the rights of conscience on the part of the poorest of men when that poorest of men is required to invoke the aid of his richer neighbours in procuring education for his children. Then the rights of conscience are to be as nothing when the power of tyrannizing over a man who is too poor to resist is placed in the hands of the clique who howl at Liberation meetings, and who conspire in the committee rooms of the League. There is I again most confidently assert no grievance to the conscience since the repeal of the compulsory church rate in calling upon the Churchman out of his own pocket to pay for the maintenance of the churchyard; there is no grievance to the conscience in calling upon us Churchmen to put our hands into our pockets and go on sustaining our graveyards, in order to restrain your Mr. Spurgeons, or whoever else it may be, who use such inflated and almost blasphemous language from entering there, and under the pretence of making extemporaneous prayer, denouncing the worship of the great majority of his countrymen, and almost arraigning the wisdom of the Almighty. My hon. and learned Friend, early in this Session, said that he had made a great concession to Churchmen by adopting some words which are the only difference between the Bill of this year and that of last year, and which were suggested by an hon. Friend of mine in this House (Mr. J. G. Talbot) My hon. Friend is one with whom I generally agree; but even he is not infallible, and I must point out to him that his words, which were suggested with the best intentions, and have been adopted by my hon. and learned Friend, are very much the reverse of that palliative which they were intended to be. They occur in the 4th clause of the Bill—"To the Eternal God the Nonconformists appeal against the tyranny of that Popish Church which now lords it over us. O Lord, how long! How long!"
When we do get into Committee on the Bill—which we shall not this year—but, speaking hypothetically, when we do get into Committee—I shall call upon the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh-shire to explain, what he will not be able to do, the difference between taking part in a service and officiating in a service. Surely a man who takes part in a service must open his mouth and utter audible sounds of seine kind or other, and that is very like officiating. But I come now to the Proviso, which is in these words—"At any burial under this Act any person or persons who shall be thereunto invited, or be authorized by the person or persons having the charge of or being responsible for such burial, may take part in any service or other religious act thereat: Provided always, that no person shall officiate at any such religious service who is not a minister or member of some religious body or congregation, having a registered place for public worship: Provided also, that any service, if not according to a published ritual, shall consist only of prayers, hymns, or extracts from Holy Scripture."
Very well; and in a preceding clause it is laid down that in the summer months these funerals shall be between the hours of 10 and 6, and in the winter months between 10 and 3. Now the names of sects are Legion. There is a sect called the "Particular People." There are sects of Positivists, Bible Christians, Negative religionists, and others constantly turning up. In short, the meaning of the term "religious bodies" is simply bodies who have taken out a licence to meet together and to perform some common act of mutual agreement in faith or scepticism in some particular place, while the provision in the 5th clause "no service, nor any part thereof under this Act, shall be other than of a religious character," is equally futile from the non-existence of any definitions of religions in which all can agree. The first thing to do at a burial is, as the French minister lately told the Assembly, to get your body. The funeral has then to be announced according to certain provisions contained in the Bill; but there is not a word in it to say that only one person shall officiate at any one funeral, or that it shall be a man rather than a woman. In fact, any number of both sexes may officiate. Now, let us take some sect—say the Positivists—who already possess chapels so-called in London, and I believe elsewhere. Some one belonging to that body, or to some other extreme knot of thinkers, dies, and a list is sent to the incumbent of the parish of certain ministers or members of that community who will take part in the funeral. They have no published ritual. And so what happens? The body of the deceased person reaches the tomb, and seven or eight gentlemen or ladies appear there, every one of them prepared to take his or her part in the funeral. The service must consist only of prayers, hymns, or extracts from Holy Scripture. Well, we all know what the power of prayer is. We know how much may be pressed into a prayer. There may be a minatory prayer. There may be a prayer which denounces the Almighty, as Mr. Spurgeon did in the extract which I have read, if He does not act on the eternal laws which Mr. Spurgeon lays down for His guidance and direction. There may be also the compassionate prayer—"Provided always, that any service, if not according to a published ritual, shall consist only of prayers, hymns, or extracts from the Holy Scriptures."
Sir, I rise to Order. The question before the House, I apprehend, is the Motion for going into Committee on the Burials Bill.
ruled that the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge was in Order, and that what he was saving was relevant to the matter in debate.
Being permitted by you, Sir, I shall continue my observations. I was engaged, when interrupted by the noble Lord, in analyzing a clause of this Bill, and showing how it was likely to work. The word "prayer" is a word which actually occurs in that clause; and I was pointing out that there may be a minatory prayer, a denunciatory prayer, and a compassionate prayer. A prayer of this last description would be one that the poor sinner who so unworthily fills the pulpit of the adjacent church, and feeds his benighted flock with husks may be brought to see the error of his ways, or that his partner in life, and daughters, may no longer set the bad example to the parish of flaunting in ungodly ribbons and silks on the Sabbath day. Then there may be a prayer that Her Majesty's Ministers may see how they are vexing the souls of the righteous by an Education or Endowed Schools Bill, or by voting against some measure proposed by the hon. Member for Bradford, or perhaps by giving to their Nonconformist supporters that lukewarm support of which my hon. and learned Friend has so pathetically complained this evening, with regard to the present Bill. There may be many things, then, wrapped up in a prayer. But one prayer may not be deemed sufficient. Look how the service may be protracted, when there is no question of time involved, or rather, when the sitting is not from 12 until a quarter to 6, but from 10 to 6, as laid down in the Bill. Number one stands up, rails at the clergyman's doctrine, and prays for his enlightenment; number two prays at the rev. gentleman's wife and family; number three prays at the squire or the patron; number four prays at the Archbishops, Bishops, rural deans, and the Establishment generally; and others will come in their turn to attack Her Majesty's Ministers, the Opposition, and every institution in Church and State—the whole being cheerfully interspersed with extracts from Scripture and appropriate hymns. I believe that an eminent gentleman (Mr. Brad-laugh), who lately went upon a. political mission to Spain, has published a hymnal which has had considerable circulation since attention was called to it in high literary quarters, and this little work may possibly be found useful on the occasion. But, then, as I said, there are also extracts from Holy Scripture. What does that mean? Does it mean that there are to be continuous passages selected and read for the edification and consolation of the mourners? There may be such a thing as stringing together a good many incongruous passages of Scripture—passages relating to priests of Baal—passages referring to Eli's neglect of duty, and his sons' misdeeds, or to the Pharisees and Sadducees. There is no doubt that an ingenious collection might be made of short texts of Scripture, which being brought together would have a meaning and an import very different from that which they carry with them when taken with their own context. My hon. and learned Friend is too good a scholar not to know what is meant by the word "Cento." He knows how passages may be made to carry a meaning which they were never intended to bear. What then, is there in this Bill to prevent some Positivist minister—I will not speak of a Christian minister, but the minister of some sect not Christian, but still "religious" in the sense of this Bill—from following the learned example of Ausonius, and framing his unpublished Ritual accordingly? I meant to have said something upon the subject of conducting burials, as the next clause requires, in a "decent and solemn manner;" but the House will, I am sure, fell what an absurd pleonasm it is, when after the loop-hole which is given in the preceding clause for the introduction of everything that may be most offensive to the conscience and the feelings of right thinking men, you come in with this pompous platitude, that the burial shall be conducted in a decent and solemn manner. I have, however, a very few more minutes at my disposal. I shall devote that time to an invitation, most sincerely offered, and which they had better take to heart, to those Members of the more moderate Liberal party who voted against the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) some time ago, but who are now prepared to vote with the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire on this Bill. They may think that in so doing they remove a grievance. I grant, Sir, that they might have laid that unction to their souls two or three years ago; but I put it to their common sense—I do not put it to anything else, but simply to their common sense as men of the world—whether, after the disestablishment party has mad this question its watch word and ranged itself under this banner, they can as common sense English and working politicians fail for one moment to see that the time has come when they are bound to take one side or the other. I presume that, as moderate Liberals, they do not want the Nonconformists to break up the Liberal party. I suppose they wish that it should continue one of the great historical parties of the State, and I trust it will do so. Although I am a party man, I am not a partisan. I look upon party conflicts, in which there is a tolerable balance of interests, as best for the commonwealth; and I tell hon. Members opposite that, if they yield to the Nonconformists upon the Church question, of which this burials conflict is an integral element, they will break up the Liberal party, and then in face of rampant Radicalism they will have to cross the floor and join us. So far I should not grieve, but the old Liberal party will be a thing of the past.
And it being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.
Then the remaining Orders of the Day being gone through, it being Six of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House till To-morrow, without putting the Question.