Order for Committee read.
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 12 (Amendment of sects. 10. and 11. of 3 & 4 W. 4, c. 68.).
, in moving as an Amendment, in page 7, line 26, after the word "eleven" to insert—
said, that the fee demanded by the clerk of the peace was simply for the issue of a certificate for a renewal of the publican's licence. The clerk of the peace did not issue the licence, neither did he give a certificate for its renewal, as this was done by the magistrates in petty sessions, and the publican took it to the proper department, paid his money, and received the renewal of his licence; yet, while that was the course of proceeding, the clerk of the peace demanded a fee of 2s. 6d. For what? Absolutely for doing nothing. The amount was small; but the principle was important to licensed victuallers in Ireland. He felt the matter was a grievance, and no matter how small that grievance might be, he deemed it his duty to bring it under the consideration of the House of Commons. The 12th section of the Act said that a fee of 10s. should be paid every year for the renewal of a licence, in aid of the maintenance of the police within the Dublin district; but the clerks of the peace, who were not entitled to it, and who for many years never looked for it, now demanded and wanted to make it general. It was regarded as a grievance in all those counties in Ireland where it was enforced, it being looked upon as a species of black mail levied upon publicans, for which no service was rendered. In some of the counties such a fee was never asked for, which was a fair inference that the clerks of the peace were not entitled to it. For his part, he regarded it as a grievance, and he was resolved to try and have it removed by appeal to Parliament."That from and after the passing of this Act it shall not he lawful for any clerk of the peace in any county, city, or town in Ireland to demand a fee from any retailer of beer or spirits on the annual renewal of a licence; but nothing herein contained shall deprive any clerk of the peace in Ireland of his right to receive a sum of two shilling's and sixpence for registering every new licence or transfer of an existing licence as provided by the Act of the third and fourth years of William the Fourth, chapter sixty-eight, section ten,"
thought that as the law allowed the fee, the clerk of the peace should not be deprived of it without compensation.
, in supporting the Amendment, said, it was customary in some counties in Ireland to pay the fee of 2s. 6d. to the clerk of the peace, and in others not. In his opinion, the demand was clearly illegal. In some counties, the Chairmen of quarter sessions had recognized the claim, but in others not. It was, therefore, necessary, where doubt existed, to remove the doubt by amending the law.
said, he hoped the Committee would not agree to the Amendment. He objected to it on two grounds—first, it was payable both in England and Scotland, and was an insurance for the keeping of a correct register of licences. The fee was payable for taking out the certificate for a renewal of the licence. The question had been submitted to the consideration of a Court of Law, and the decision was that the fee was legal. If this House interfered, in the face of such an opinion, and decided that this fee should not be paid in future, compensation would be required by those who were deprived of it. It was only a small amount from each publican, but formed a considerable part of the emoluments of the clerks of the peace. In any measure for regulating the fees and salaries of clerks of the peace in Ireland such a question might properly be considered, but it should not be dealt with in that Bill.
thought the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland did not take a correct view of the matter. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) could give the House some information on the question. For a long time after the Act was passed there was not any fee required. The renewal of a licence in Ireland was obtained, not from the clerk of the peace, but from the magistrates in petty sessions. The clerk of the peace had nothing to do with the granting of it, and for the trouble he had in signing the certificate, he claimed 2s. 6d. In his own county—Cork—the case was brought on several, times in the Court of Petty Sessions, and the claim was dismissed. This was a claim not for the issue of a licence, but for the renewal of a licence. He, however, admitted that the matter came before a very able Judge—Mr. Justice Fitz Gerald—who decided in favour of the clerk of the peace.
said, he was quite willing to accept the issue on that ground. Supposing this was for the renewal of a licence, and that a fee was to be paid for it, it was improper to take the fee away. The object of the certificate was for seeing that the houses were kept in an orderly manner. He submitted that the clause in question was intended to put an end to a doubtful state of the law. The clerk of the peace performed services for which he received a fee. It should be borne in mind that a register was kept from time to time of the houses and the renewals of the licences, and if the House of Commons withdrew that requirement from the Bill, the result would prove most unsatisfactory, and the register would be kept in a slovenly and incorrect manner. He submitted that the clause ought to be maintained in its present state.
said, that the only work clone by the clerk of the peace was upon the original grant of the licence. Under the present Bill, the petty sessions' clerk would have to keep the register, and he, if any body, should have the fee.
said, he could not agree that clerks of the peace in Ireland took money to which they were not entitled. One of the most eminent Judges on the Irish Bench had decided that clerks of the peace were entitled to the fee in question. He (the Attorney General for Ireland), however, assumed that the clerk of the peace must do some work for the fee, or it would not be payable; but he was not aware of the grounds on which the judgment proceeded. The clerks of the peace had at present a right to the fee; and if the fee were abolished, it would involve a question of compensation. In the certificate given for the renewal of the licence, the task was imposed of describing the various duties required by the law, such as naming the house, for whom the renewal was required, &c. He thought it would be unjust to take away the fee from the clerks of the peace without compensation, and particularly after the decision of an eminent Judge that it was legal.
said, it was really too bad to hear the right hon. Gentleman so express himself. The right hon. Gentleman said there should be no objection to the clerk of the peace receiving 2s. 6d. for doing work; but he (Mr. O'Sullivan) must say the clerk of the peace had no right to receive a fee of 2s. 6d. for doing nothing. The right hon. Gentleman had made an appeal to the House, and in doing so had mystified the question, for he had not shown that the clerk of the peace had done one particle of work for the 2s. 6d.
said, the clerk of the peace was required to perform certain duties with regard to the certificate after it had been submitted to the justices at petty sessions, for which duties the fee was payable. A claim of the same nature made by the petty sessions clerks for entering in their books the decisions of the Bench with regard to publicans' certificates, had been resisted by the publicans, but unavailingly.
said, it seemed to him that they were making a new Bill for the clerks of the peace in Ireland.
said, the clerks of the peace had nothing to do with the justices in petty sessions. The law was in a state that required amendment.
said, the clerk of the peace must make some entry. He did not want him to be paid for doing nothing, but if he did something he ought to be paid. As that officer was about to have considerable further duties cast upon him by the Bill, it would be unfair to take away from him that small fee.
said, he knew from experience that the clerk of the peace did nothing. The magistrates at petty sessions gave the applicant a certificate, and he took it to the Excise Department. The clerks of the peace were levying "black mail" without any title in law to do so. He had been told that the House of Commons was always ready to redress grievances. Well, he hoped they would remove that grievance, For his part, he should do his duty. He maintained that it was a grievance, and he would divide the House upon it.
suggested to the hon. Member for Limerick County to withdraw his Amendment, and to the Government to give an assurance that they would look into the matter, with the view of taking away the fee if they found that no work was done for it.
said, there appeared to him to be great weight in the remarks of his right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, and influenced by them, and in conformity with the suggestion of his hon. Friend behind him, he would make inquiry into the matter before the Report, with a view of seeing whether any real work was done for the money; if not, he should have no objection to accede to the view taken by the hon. Gentlemen opposite.
hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn. If, as the Attorney General for Ireland had stated, the fee had been pronounced by an eminent Judge to be legal, then it ought to be maintained. It appeared to him that the matter ought not to be decided upon the mere question whether the clerk of the peace did any work for the fee, but whether it was taken into account in the settlement of the amount of his general remuneration. If they took away that which had been recognized as remuneration for the performance of his general duty, they would take away that which was declared to be legal and in accordance with the Act.
said, the Act was passed 40 years since, and it was only within the last 15 or 16 years that the clerks of the peace began to claim the 2s. 6d. Upon the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he would withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
On the Motion of Mr. C. E. LEWIS, Amendments made, in page 7, line 21, after "name," by inserting the word "address;" and in line 25, after "name," by inserting the word "address."
, in moving as an Amendment, in page 7, line 28, after "shall," to insert—
said, he did so with the view of making the register useful, and not with any intention of increasing the fees of the clerks of the peace."between the tenth and twenty-fifth days of December in each year, print the list or register of all notes in writing delivered to him after the preceding annual licensing petty sessions, and shall lay the same before the justices in every quarter sessions assembled, and transmit a copy thereof, signed by him, to the clerk of petty sessions of each petty sessions district within such county, city, or town, and in Dublin to the chief clerk of the Metropolitan Police Court, and shall also,"
thought the insertion of the words unnecessary, as the wish of the hon. Gentleman was fully satisfied by the clause as it stood.
said, that the clause as it stood provided only for the transmission of the list to the clerk of petty sessions, and not to the bench of magistrates.
thought the Amendment would occasion an expenditure which would not be compensated by the advantages to be derived from it.
also thought the Amendment would lead to doubt and uncertainty.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 (Register of licences to be kept).
On the Motion of Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH, Amendment made in page 8, line 28, by leaving out "Inland Revenue," and inserting "Excise."
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 (Mitigation of penalties), agreed to.
Clause 15 (Record of convictions on licences)
moved as an Amendment, in page 9, line 18, to leave out "or," and insert—
"which by such Act was to have been or might have been endorsed upon the licence or Excise licence, or of any Offence against this."
protested against any change in the present law regarding the endorsement of convictions on licences, and asked the right hon. Gentleman if he could state to the Committee the number of public bodies in Ireland which had asked for the endorsement of the licences.
said, he had not received any such application; but his wish was in this respect to assimilate the law in Ireland to that in England.
thought the vintners in Ireland were somewhat in the position of the boy at school who was birched for the offence of another. They could not understand the justice of the thing.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 16 (Constable to enter on premises for enforcement of Act).
, in moving as an Amendment, in page 10, line 2, after "constable," to insert—
said, he did so for the reason that the magistrates could not issue a warrant for the entry of any premises without a sworn information, and that being so, it was too great a power to vest in a constable suo motu."If he has reasonable ground for believing that any of the provisions of the principal Act or this Act, which it is his duty to enforce, are being, or recently have been, violated,"
said, that was the English law. The clause as it stood considerably limited the power given to the constable under the Act of 1872. He could not enter the premises, except to prevent a violation of the Act, and he must of course have reasonable grounds for doing so.
said, he preferred the clause as it stood. The constable had to prove a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion.
moved as an Amendment, in page 10, line 6, after "licence is in force," to insert "except the sleeping apartments of females."
Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 6, after the word "force," to add the words "except the sleeping apartments of females."—( Captain Nolan.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
objected to the Amendment as liable to encourage an evasion of the law. Every room in a licensed house might be called the sleeping room of a female.
said, that if an opening were given to females to defraud the excise, he feared they would avail themselves of it. In former years when Customs duties were heavy, and levied on many articles, females, even of the upper classes, had been greatly addicted to smuggling, and generally took delight in cheating the Revenue.
said, he had consulted the trade in Ireland, and they had not any objection to the clause as it stood, being sure that neither the Dublin police nor the Royal Irish constabulary would exercise their power unnecessarily or wantonly.
said, that if the hon. and gallant Member pressed his Amendment to a division, he should, though with regret, vote against him, as he had the authority of the licensed victuallers of Ireland for saying that they had no objection to the clause.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 179: Majority 152.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 (Search warrant for detection of liquors sold or kept contrary to law).
moved as an Amendment, in line 37, after "shillings," to insert, "provided, however, that every such person shall be a competent witness on the hearing of the complaint."
said, he agreed in the spirit of the Amendment, but objected to it being inserted in the clause which created the offence. He would not have any objection to introduce it into the clause regulating the procedure, and would do so on the Report.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 (Drunken person may be detained if incapable of taking care of himself).
moved the omission of the clause, by which a policeman was enabled to discharge from custody a person whom he had arrested without bringing him before a magistrate.
supported the Amendment. He submitted that it would be throwing a strong temptation in the way of the police when they came into contact with the "young gentlemen" class, to exercise this power liberally for the sake of a substantial consideration.
said, he thought that the objection to the clause would be removed if words were inserted making it compulsory on the police to bring the person arrested before a magistrate. He would propose the necessary Amendment on the Report.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 (Substitution of licensing justices for Commissioners of Inland Revenue as respects certain notices), agreed to.
Clause 20 (Penalty on person found on premises during closing hours).
moved, as an Amendment, inline 33, after "servant," to insert "bonâ fide guest entertained at the sole expense of the owner of the premises."
said, he had no objection, on the Report, to insert a provision on the subject of the Amendment corresponding to the one inserted in the English Bill on the same subject.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 (Saving as to bonâ fide travellers and lodgers).
, in moving as an Amendment, in line 28, after "Act," to leave out to end of clause, said he did so with the object of leaving it to the discretion of the magistrate to decide who was or was not a bonâ fide traveller, and quoted the decision of Chief Justice Erle, "that no rule can be laid clown for a definite distance, as what may be short for the vigorous may be long for the weakly."
thought that the legal test of a bonâ fide traveller in Ireland should mean the same thing as in England. The laws of the two countries should be assimilated.
said, he thought they should have one general rule for the whole of the country.
believed the clause as it stood was a very safe one, providing that a man should walk at least three miles before he should be deemed a bonâ fide traveller. Beyond that, the magistrates should exercise a discretion.
said, the limit proposed in the clause was really meant for the protection of the publican, who was supposed to be likely to know a person who lived within a certain radius of his house. Moreover, when an alteration which he intended to propose had been made in it, it would be identical with the clause on the same subject in the English Act.
said, the interpretation of bonâ fide traveller should be the same in both countries. In England there had been conflicting decisions on the subject; but the law should be made clear and definite, and applicable to both countries.
said, a traveller did not necessarily carry a geographical index on his countenance. He might travel many miles by railway in a few minutes, and be treated as a bonâ fide traveller; while the man who walked only a few miles might require rest and refreshment, but was denied it because he did not travel so far as the other. It was impossible for the publican to know which was the bonâ fide traveller of the two, and he thought, therefore, it would be better to leave the matter to the decision of the magistrates.
said, the magistrate should not be deprived of all discretion as to the definition of "traveller."
pointed out the inconsistency of the Irish Members who often complained that there was one law for England and another for Ireland, and yet were now wanting to have a different rule in this matter applied to their country from that which the House had lately adopted for England.
said, he was an advocate of the doctrine of the assimilation of the laws of the two countries only so far as the English law which it was proposed to apply to Ireland was good; but objected altogether to take from England a bad law.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause amended, and agreed to.
Clause 22 (Summons in police district of Dublin metropolis); Clause 23 (Licence to be produced in court); Clause 24 (Liability in respect of distinct licences); Clause 25 Evidence of licences, orders, and convictions); Clause 26 (Evidence of license); and Clause 27 (Definitions) severally agreed to.
Clause 28 (Repeal).
moved, as an Amendment, in line 7, after "licences," to insert "and sub-section four in section fifty-two." The hon. Member said, he did so with the object of proposing a new clause, for the words as they stood would not only imperil the liberty of the accused, but, under any circumstances, subject him to serious inconvenience. He would be liable to fine and imprisonment, put to the inconvenience of finding heavy bail, and the magistrate had the power of exercising a discretion as to whether the accused should appeal or not.
said, in such matters no discretionary power should be given to the magistrates. The word "shall" should be imperative.
said, if the Amendment were withdrawn, he would consider the matter on the Report.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
On the Motion of Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH, the following New Clauses were agreed to, and added to the Bill:—New Clause (Certificates required previously to grant of wholesale beer-dealer's licence) to follow Clause 7; New Clause (Temporary continuance of licences, or Excise licences forfeited without disqualification of premises) to follow Clause 11; New Clause (Record of conviction for adulteration) to follow Clause 15; and New Clause (Saving as to Section 9 of the principal Act) to follow Clause 21.
, in moving the following new clause:—
(Power to close and refuse to sell liquor.)
said, he failed to understand why they should put upon the dealer in intoxicating drinks a compulsion that they did not attempt to impose upon the vendor of any other article of food or drink. He could not see why the sale of intoxicating drink should be elevated into a Divine institution. On what reasonable ground should they compel a man to sell up to a certain hour? If his clause were adopted, the vendor would be at liberty to sell when he wished. Why should not tradesmen be at liberty to close their shops when they thought proper? What they were about to do in this country was to elevate intoxicating drink into a sort of Divine institution, against which he must enter his strong protest. He affirmed that all the respectable vendors of these drinks in Ireland would be glad to have this power conceded to them."A licensed person shall not be bound to keep the licensed premises open, nor to admit or allow persons to remain therein, nor to sell liquor to any person, but may lawfully close and keep closed the same, and refuse to sell liquor therein, whether closed or unclosed, during the hours during which the same may be lawfully open, or any part of such hours,"
observed that the clause went a great deal too far, for this result might follow from its adoption—that all inns and hotels in Ireland might be closed at any hour of the day or night, resulting in great public inconvenience.
said, there was yet another objection to the clause. The hon. Member had put it to the Committee that it was a great grievance to the publican that he should be compelled to keep open his house longer than he might wish. But the Bill provided that if a publican chose to close his house on Sundays, the cost of his licence, would be diminished in proportion, and a proportionate reduction would be made according to the diminished hours of business which the publican chose to adopt. The hardship on the publican should not be forgotten, but the hardship on the public must be remembered. When a man obtained a licence to keep his house open for certain hours for the accommodation of the public, there was an implied contract by which the publican was morally bound. He obtained his licence to keep his house open for certain hours for the accommodation of the public, and it was his duty to keep it open for that purpose.
said, he must again ask whether it was right to compel a publican to sell liquor when he did not wish to do so? Bread was a necessary article of human consumption, but they did not compel the baker to sell it if he did not think proper. He (Mr. Sullivan) must continue to protest against the superstition that drinking was a Divine thing, and that the sale of liquors should be invested with certain privileges not accorded to the sale of any other commodity.
, in moving the following new clause:—
(Appropriation of fines and penalties.)
said, the object of the clause was to alter the destination of the fines inflicted for drunkenness, Those fines had been placed to the credit of the borough funds up to 1872, but by the Licensing Act of that year they reverted to the Crown, thus increasing the local burdens of the ratepayers. The mistake had been admitted by the late Government, who were about to bring in a Bill to remedy it, when the change took place. He thought there was no sufficient reason why the old system should not be re-established; and the circumstances were such that the Government might undertake to effect the object he had in view, either by supporting his clause or by some other Amendment.From and after the passing of this Act all fines and penalties imposed and levied under section twelve of the principal Act, at petty sessions held in towns, which are under 'The Towns Improvement (Ireland) Act 1854,' shall be paid to the treasurer of the Commissioners thereof, to he placed to the credit of the General Assessment Fund, as provided by the ninety-second section of the said last recited Act, any Act or Acts to the contrary notwithstanding."
said, it was true that the Act of 1872 made a change in the application of these fines but they were never paid into the national Exchequer. They formed part of a fund administered for the benefit of the clerks of petty sessions, many of whom were very ill-requited for their services. It was desirable that the salaries paid to them should be enlarged if that could be done by legitimate means. They were given to the clerks of petty sessions by an Act passed in 1858; and an Act of 1854 gave to the towns commissioners, for the benefit of the ratepayers, the fines imposed in the Courts of the commissioners, for the purpose of providing police, and other duties which had not been discharged as they ought to have been. There seemed to be no reason why the petty sessions fines, because some town commissioners might sit at petty sessions as magistrates, should be applied to the public purposes of the townships, and to the relief of rates levied for sanitary and other purposes. He thought the present application of those funds was the best that could be devised. It was the wish of the Government to do something to improve the position of potty sessions clerks, by an increase of pay, but that would be difficult if the fines were to be diverted from the channel into which they now flowed.
saw no reason why fines inflicted within the jurisdiction of the towns commissioners should not be applied to the relief of the rates, but could not go the whole length proposed by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment.
observed that the Act of 1854 was a compromise. Drunkenness had its effect in increasing rates, and there was certainly some ground for the Motion of his hon. Friend. It was a mistake to say that the clause would take away from the petty sessions clerks the whole of their emoluments, for although their nominal salaries were small, the collateral advantages attached to the posts were so large as to make the appointments very strongly sought after.
said, he could corroborate the statement of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock) for to his personal knowledge there were petty sessions clerks in Ireland who were in receipt of as much as £300 a-year. It was only discovered in 1873 that the Act of 1872 had an operation that was never intended, by depriving the towns commissioners of the benefit of fines imposed for drunkenness. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kildare county (Mr. Cogan) asked the then Chief Secretary for Ireland a Question on the subject, the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington), said that that effect had not been intended, and that the Government would give their attention to the matter with a view to remedying it. He thought under any view, that the ratepayers were entitled to the benefit of the fines imposed for drunkenness within the limits for which the commissioners were responsible.
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) in the views he had expressed. He had received letters from several of his constituents, all approving of this proposal and not one against it. He hoped the Government would re-consider its view of this question.
said, there was great inconvenience in private Members bringing forward Motions of this kind, which tended to create financial deficiencies without showing how the Treasury would be recouped.
appealed to the Chief Secretary for Ireland to remedy a confessed error, and to place the country in the state it was in relative to this matter previous to the passing of the Act of 1872.
said, he had endeavoured to state to the Committee reasons which seemed to him valid objections to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman; but he confessed that the opinion which had been expressed on the subject on both sides of the House, and the strong feeling which it appeared to excite in Ireland, had made a great impression on him, and if by yielding to that desire he could satisfy public feeling in that country, it would give him great pleasure to do so. He therefore had a suggestion to make which he hoped the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Redmond) would think reasonable. It seemed to be a fair principle that fines inflicted in a Court should go to the support of that Court, but that if they were inflicted in towns, under towns commissioners, they should go to the towns; and if the hon. Member would limit his proposal to that, he would be prepared to consult with him about the matter on the Report.
pointed out some technical difficulties which would render that arrangement insufficient. He would urge upon the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland to enable the Courts of Petty Sessions to award the fines for drunkenness occurring within their townships to the towns, and then he would do something towards making it easy to govern Ireland.
said, that an error had been admitted, and that only the lateness of the period last Session at which attention was directed to the subject, prevented the late Government from carrying the Bill which it had prepared to remedy it. He hoped the Government would consent to restore the jurisdiction of the borough magistrates which the Act of 1872 had taken away, so that the fines accruing might be allocated to the towns in which these offences were committed.
said, that a mistake had been committed of which no Government ought to seek to take advantage, and in this case there was the less excuse for doing so, that it was only by the accident of the lateness of the Session last year that the mistake had not been remedied.
thought the clause of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Redmond) ought to be enlarged, and have a wider operation than its terms implied.
said, that the limitation proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would have the effect of excluding the greater number of these fines.
said, he must again beg to urge on the right hon. Gentleman the restoration of the jurisdiction of the borough magistrates as it existed before the passing of the Licensing Act of 1872.
hoped these fines would be paid in alleviation of the rates.
said, he would look into the Act to see whether their jurisdiction had really been taken away, and he would bring up a clause on the Report by which he should endeavour to meet the objections which had been stated.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
in moving the following new clause—
(Hours for sale of intoxicating liquors between Saturday evening and Monday morning.)
said, the question with which the clause dealt was not one of Sunday trading in intoxicating drinks. That question had already been decided by the House, and he had no intention of re-opening it, although he was convinced that no less than five-sixths of the drunkenness existing in Ireland, resulted from the opening of public-houses on Sundays. When he attempted to discuss the question some time ago, the only argument against Sunday closing was, that a person going out for a stroll should have opportunities of obtaining refreshment, and that persons on an excursion should have the same opportunities. But people did not go out for strolls on Sundays after 7 o'clock. He would call attention to the fact, that, while in England the hours for public-houses being open on Sundays were six, in Ireland they were seven. There was no reason why this difference should continue. The Irishman drank whiskey, and if he wanted to get drunk could do so quicker than the beer-drinker in England. He hoped the House, and the Committee, and the Government would agree to his proposal."From and after the passing of this Act it shall not he lawful for any licensed person or spirit grocer, in towns the population of which does not exceed five thousand, to sell intoxicating liquors between the hour of ten o'clock on Saturday night and two o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday, or between the hour of seven o'clock on Sunday night and seven o'clock on Monday morning; and in towns the population of which exceeds five thousand, it shall not be lawful for such licensed person or spirit grocer to sell intoxicating liquors between the hour of 11 o'clock on Saturday night and two o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday, or between the hour of seven o'clock on Sunday night and seven o'clock on Monday morning; Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall prevent such sale of intoxicating liquors to bonâ fide travellers or lodgers."
Clause (Hours for sale of intoxicating liquors between Saturday evening and Monday morning,)—( Mr. Richard Smyth,)— brought up, and read the first time.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
said, he could not agree to the Motion. He was sorry that the hon. Member for Londonderry had thought fit to propose it after the exhaustive debate and decisive division at an earlier period of the Session on the question of closing public-houses in Ireland on Sunday. No doubt, the total number of hours of keeping public-houses open was greater in Ireland than in England; but the time of closing was earlier in the former than in the latter country, and great public inconvenience might ensue, if the time were further restricted. He believed it would cause discontent throughout Ireland if public-houses in large towns were closed at 7 o'clock in the evening of Sunday instead of 9, which was the hour fixed after very full consideration.
hoped the Committee would adopt the proposal, though it might be possible to strike a compromise which would meet public convenience. He would suggest that the hour of 8 should be taken with that view.
said, that by comparison with England the people in Ireland would be much worse off. What was wanted was an assimilation to the hours of England.
, as the Representative of a large constituency in the North of Ireland, supported the clause.
said, the public-houses in large towns were kept open simply to enable drunkards to get drunk.
observed that the hon. Gentleman wanted to "go the whole hog," and to shut up public-houses altogether. He, and he believed the House, wished to go by steps. The compromise which was proposed by the clause was one which was in accordance with the public opinion in Ireland. He believed that if they polled the Irish people, they would find 99 in every 100 in favour of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry.
said, he did not propose to alter the law with regard to the hours of closing, which were fixed after careful inquiry by the Committee which sat on the subject in 1872. That Committee was composed of Irish Members fully conversant with the wants and wishes of the Irish people. He hoped that the Motion would not be carried, because it might in the end delay the passing of the measure. He was certainly opposed to the re-opening of the question under present circumstances.
said, he saw no reason why, when they had introduced a new Licensing Bill for Ireland in which alterations had been made, they should not take the opportunity of revising the Irish law also. He was willing to accept the suggested hour of 8 as a compromise.
supported the clause, which he hoped would be accepted by the Government as a fair and reasonable compromise of the question at issue.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 87; Noes 132: Majority 45.
, in moving the following new clause—
(Restriction on the grant of new licences.)
said, the object of the clause was to reduce the rapid growth of public-houses in Ireland, and he made the proposal in the interests of morality. The over-crowding of Irish towns with public-houses was shown by statistics, to which he referred. In the City of Dublin there were 2,000 such houses, in a population of 250,000, being about one public-house to 150 of the population; in Cork, 600 to a population of 80,000; in Limerick, 300 to 40,000; in Wexford, 87 to 11,000; in New Ross, 77 to 7,000; or one public-house to 90 persons; and in Tralee there was one to every 60 inhabitants, including women and children. Those figures showed that there was a serious disproportion of these houses to the real wants of the population. They could not shut their eyes to the fact that these houses were traps for drunkards, and he trusted that after the suspensory clauses had been granted to Scotland, the Government and the Committee would gratify the people of Ireland by allowing them to exercise this suspensory power. If not, it might be truly said that a majority of Scotchmen could get what they liked, but a majority of Irishmen could get nothing. He would further say that if the public opinion of the people of Ireland was to be overborne by the publicans of England, it must lead to results which would not be satisfactory to those who wished to see the union between the countries."From and after the passing of this Act it shall not be lawful for the licensing authority or Inland Revenue Department to grant any new certificate for a licence for the sale of intoxicating liquors—First. In any town or populous place in which the number of licensed houses shall at any time exceed the proportion of one such house to 700 of the population. Second. In rural districts, in respect of any premises situated within one mile at least of any other premises in respect of which a certificate has been granted: Provided, that the licensing authorities may, if they think fit, grant new certificates for hotels, containing in towns and the suburbs thereof not less than six, and in rural districts not less than four, apartments set apart exclusively for the sleeping accommodation of travellers,"
said, in resisting the clause, he had in the first place to say that the hon. Gentleman was under a misunderstanding, for there was no intention to grant any suspensory clauses to Scotland; and in the next place, he had distinctly to state that the English publicans were in no way whatever interested in this question, and had taken no action upon it. What had been done in this case was what had been done in England and Scotland. In the Bill precautions were taken to render the licensing tribunal more certain and regular in its action, and to enable it to look more strictly than heretofore to the conduct of the persons holding the licences. Those provisions, he thought, would answer all necessary purposes. New licences could not be granted exactly in accordance with population. Each special case must be taken into consideration on its merits; and under the measures for improving the licensing authority, he was satisfied no more licences would be granted than was absolutely requisite.
said, the clause appeared to be based upon an entire misconception, even of the statistics which had been quoted, and he hoped the clause would not be agreed to, for in his opinion it would increase the evil it was intended to mitigate.
Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.
And it being now five minutes to Seven of the clock, the House suspended its sitting.
The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.