House Of Commons
Friday, 12th May, 1876.
The Naval Discipline Act—Flogging In The Navy—Question
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is his intention to bring in a Bill this Session to amend "The Naval Discipline Act, 1866"?
, in reply, said, he did not propose to bring in any such measure.
gave Notice that on an early day he should move, That, in the opinion of the House, the time had arrived when flogging in the Navy should be abolished.
Poor Law (Ireland)—Clifden Union—Question
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If the Local Government Board have received a statement from Mr. Rody Mollen of Clifden, to the effect that some of the votes recorded at the late election of the Brecon division of the Clifden Poor Law Union were invalid, the election having been determined by a single vote; and also does the Local Government Board intend to inquire into this matter?
I am informed that Mr. Mollen, a defeated candidate in the late election for Guardians in the Clifden Union, has impugned the validity of some votes given at the election, and is now prosecuting a person for forgery at the petty sessions. The Local Government Board have withheld their decision as to whether there should be any inquiry until the result of the proceedings to which I have referred is known.
Queen's Colleges (Ireland)
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the statement in the "Athenæum" of this week is correct—
and, if so, whether he will state what were the objects and scope of the inquiry?"That a Treasury Commission has been appointed to inquire and report on the Queen's Colleges in Ireland;"—
The statement in question is correct, and the Commission is now pursuing its inquiry, which is confined to certain points connected with the Queen's Colleges, and does not extend to the Queen's University. The points referred to the Commission are as follows:—The constitution of the College Councils, the present mode of appointment to offices in the Colleges, the distribution of the work of teaching among the Professors and Lecturers, the remuneration of these gentlemen and other officers of the Colleges, and the arrangements in regard to the class fees paid by the students.
Criminal Law—Untried Prisoners—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, in consideration of the fact, evidenced by the Return, No. 171, recently made to Parliament, that no less than 117 prisoners were kept in gaol in England and Wales for periods varying from eight to four months, between the Summer Assizes of last year and the Spring Assizes of this year, before being brought to trial, he will take such steps as may be necessary, either by the introduction of a Bill this Session or otherwise, to enable all prisoners who, after the Summer Assizes, are committed for trial to the gaols of towns in which no Winter Assizes are held, for offences triable only by Her Majesty's Judges, to be conveyed to the nearest town where Winter Assizes are held, and tried there at those Assizes?
in reply, said, that in his opinion the time had come when the practice referred to should certainly be done away with. He wished it had been so long ago. It would be remembered that on the 28th of March last, he informed the House that it was his intention to introduce, on behalf of the Government, a Bill for the purpose of avoiding delay in criminal trials during the present Session. Since that time he had been in communication with the learned Judges as to the best means of securing the end in view. They had not come to a final decision as to what particular form the Bill should take, but it was the intention of the Government to deal with the matter before the present Session concluded.
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If his attention has been called to an article in the evening papers of Wednesday, purporting to be from a correspondent of "The Daily News," written from Malaga, as follows:—
and, whether he can state that an immediate and searching inquiry shall be made into the allegations, with a view to indemnification by the Spanish Government, of the owner of the "Clementina" and the relatives of the unfortunate seaman, and an ample apology to the British Government for repeated insults to her flag by guarda cost a in the vicinity of Gibraltar?"That the recent capture of the British schooner 'Clementina' by a Spanish revenue cruiser has created great excitement here. The schooner, on her way to Gibraltar, grounded while in the waters of Almeira, and the master not being able to get her off, proceeded to jettison part of the cargo to lighten the ship; while so employed a revenue cruiser came in sight, boarded the vessel with an armed party, and ordered the master and crew down below. One of the guarda cost a crew deliberately shot a seaman of the 'Clementina,' who fell mortally wounded on deck, and, notwithstanding the entreaties of the master, they allowed this poor man to be on the deck for two hours, until at last he died, from loss of blood. Instead of taking the 'Clementina' into the port of Almeira, as the Spanish law required, they took the vessel to Malaga, whore inquiry was held to which the British Consul was, in the most insulting terms, refused admittance, and the vessel condemned, the booty being divided between the captors and the judge and assessor, who declared her to be a lawful prize;
in reply, said, the attention of his noble Friend, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, had been called to statement in The Daily News, and he was of opinion that the statement was correct. From two Reports which had been received from Her Majesty's Consul at Malaga, and one from Her Majesty's Minister at Madrid, it appeared that the account in the newspaper was substantially correct, except that they had heard nothing of any insulting terms having been used to the Consul. A representation was immediately made by Her Majesty's Minister at Madrid to the Spanish Government, and in consequence of that representation the sale of the vessel had been postponed, and, also in consequence of that representation, the prisoners were allowed to go on bail; at least they were told they might go on bail, provided bail was obtained. Whether bail was obtained or not he was unable to say. Representations also had been made further on the subject by Her Majesty's Minister, the answers to which had not yet been received; but a full inquiry would be demanded of the Spanish Government into the matter. The course which Her Majesty's Government would pursue after that inquiry had been made had not yet been determined; but much must of course depend on the Report that was made as the result of that inquiry. He did not think it would be prudent on his part to say more at present; but he would say this, that if the Report was true, that one of the seamen had been shot and allowed to bleed to death without assistance, it was one of the most gross and wanton outrages which could be conceived. He must say further, in order to relieve the anxiety of those persons who might have friends on board vessels touching the Spanish coast, that none of the crew of the Clementina were British subjects. Both the master and the mate were Italians, and all the rest of the crew, including the murdered man, were Spaniards.
The Egyptian Debt—Mr Cave's Report—Question
asked the right honourable Member for Shoreham, Whether his attention has been drawn to a discrepancy of £16,000,000, between the Estimate as to the Khedive's indebtedness in his own Report and that given in the Khedive's Decree of May 2, for a proposed unification of his liabilities; and, whether he has any reason to apprehend that he was misled when he put at £75,000,000 the whole indebtedness of the Khedive?
Yes, Sir, my attention has been called to this apparent discrepancy, but the hon. Member does not state the case quite accurately. If he will refer to my Report he will see that the amount of £75,000,000 does not include three loans nearly paid off, amounting altogether to £5,000,000. The difference is thus reduced to £11,000,000. He will also see that I estimated the cost of conversion of the Debt, according to my own plan, at £2,000,000; but I calculate that the cost of conversion under the new scheme will be £7,000,000, by far the larger portion of which is given in the form of a bonus to the holders of Treasury bonds—for the purpose, I suppose, of floating the Debt. This difference will account for another £5,000,000, leaving £6,000,000 to be accounted for. Now, if we take £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 as the excess over the Estimate for the Abyssinian War—which is, of course, merely conjectural—we shall still have between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 unaccounted for; and I cannot tell without further information whether this is due to any error in the information given to me or whether it is due to increased expenditure since that information was given.
Parliament—Order Of Public Business—Questions
said, he did not know whether there was any Member of the Treasury Bench present who could give him any information as to the course of Business for next week. He had understood that the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill would be the First Order on Monday; but he did not know whether it was the intention of the Government to take any important Business in case the debate upon the second reading of that Bill should terminate at an early hour. He also understood last night that the Commons Bill would be fixed for Thursday; but he should like to know whether it would be brought forward as the First Order of the Day. It would also be for the convenience of the House to know when the Government intended to introduce the Education Bill.
in reply, said, that he was not quite sure as to the arrangements, but he thought that this was the idea of the Government at present. On Monday it was proposed to take the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, and they had not anticipated that that Bill would pass its stage at a very early hour of the evening. If, however, it should pass at an early hour, then he anticipated that the Government would have some other measure ready to proceed with. He would mention in the course of the evening what measure it was that they would in that event take second. As to Thursday the proposal was, that they should, before entering upon the Orders of the Day, proceed with the notice for the introduction of the Education Bill, and next to that they proposed to take the Committee upon the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, and after that the Second Order would be the Commons Bill.
inquired when the Government would take the Report upon the Merchant Shipping Bill?
On Monday week.
regretted that he omitted to ask when it was intended to introduce the Prisons Bill? It might be well for the convenience of the Government, as well as that of the House, that he should give them Notice that the proposed arrangement that the Commons Bill should be taken the Third Order on Thursday next might not be thought satisfactory; and the Government must not be surprised to find that that arrangement was objected to.
said, that he would not bring on the Commons Bill at a late period of the evening.
inquired whether any of the numerous Bills affecting the administration of justice in Ireland were likely to be taken this Session?
in reply, said, he could not at present say when the Bills relating to the administration of justice in Ireland would be laid before the House. The Government had already several Bills of pressing importance on hand, and it would be impossible to say anything definite in reference to further Business until these were disposed of.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Public-Houses (Ireland)—Sunday Closing—Resolution
I rise, Sir, to move, in accordance with the Notice which I have placed upon the Paper—
I think it possible that some hon. Members who may be favourable to this proposal in substance may yet hesitate to support it, because it is presented to the House in the form of an abstract Resolution. Well, I have to explain that I did all I could to get a place for my Bill, but the Ballot went against me, and I did not think that there was any use in keeping a Bill as a mere dead-letter on the Order Book during the whole of the Session, when there was not the slightest chance of getting an opportunity to discuss it. But I do not know that there is much difference in the ultimate fate of an opposed Bill and of a Resolution in the hands of a private Member. If a non-official Member succeeds in carrying the second reading of a Bill, that is usually the end of it for the Session. Indeed, I may say it is invariably the end of it, if it is vigorously opposed. It amounts to no more than an expression of the opinion of the House to pave the way for future legislation on the part of those who have the time of the House at their command; and for this purpose a Resolution does just as well as a Bill. If, however, there are hon. Members who on principle object to all abstract Resolutions, who have never voted for them, and who never will vote for them, I cannot expect that those hon. Gentlemen will support the proposition which I now make. But, as for others, I trust they will treat this Resolution with the same candid and earnest consideration as if it was a Motion for the second reading of a Bill. I have no wish to draw a darker picture of Ireland than it deserves; but I am bound to state that the prevalence of intemperance in that country is very deeply moving the public mind, and is causing much anxiety among all classes of the population. In proof of this, I need only refer to some of the statements made by the Irish Judges when going circuit at the last Spring Assizes. The Judges are not agitators, or enthusiasts, or ascetics. They are sedate gentlemen, who hold themselves aloof from all fantastic theories, and are not given to take alarm readily at what they see going on around them. Now, what do they say about the condition of Ireland? Lord Chief Justice Whiteside, after referring to the increase of drunkenness in King's County, observed that he—"That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that the Law which forbids the general sale of intoxicating drinks during a portion of Sunday in Ireland should be amended so as to apply to the whole of that day."
Mr. Justice Keogh said, in County Tyrone—"Was not surprised that there were so many associations of people in the country trying to grapple with the vice of intoxication."
Mr. Justice Fitzgerald said, in County Kerry—"I have been told that the majority of the cases with which you will be troubled are attributable to the excessive consumption of ardent spirits."
Judge Battersby, in County Mayo, dwelt on the evil arising from drunkenness, and added—"He had been 16 years on the Bench, and he did not exaggerate when he said that 19–20ths of the crime of the calendar was produced by drunkenness. The results of intemperance were pauperism, destitution, gaols, lunatic asylums, workhouses, and the grave."
Mr. Justice Barry said, in County Waterford—"It is difficult to know how to deal with this state of things, or how it is to be remedied."
Mr. Justice O'Brien, in Roscommon, said—"The increase of intemperance was very much to be deplored."
Mr. Baron Dowse, spoke strongly in Westmeath, Queen's County, and Kildare, saying, among other things—"It was needless to comment on the ruinous consequences of the vice of intoxication."
["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but wait for what follows—"He was not a believer in men being made good by Act of Parliament."
The Inspector of the gaol of Londonderry, a gentleman of great intelligence and experience, told me during the late Assizes, that if were not for whiskey the gaol of Derry would be large enough to accommodate all the criminals of Ireland outside the City of Dublin. But the statements of individuals need not be further quoted, when it is notoriously the opinion of the vast majority of well-informed and thoughtful men in Ireland—Judges, magistrates, clergy, grand jurors, Poor Law Guardians, merchants, traders, farmers, and even the wording classes themselves—that the Legislature has not yet done all that it may do, and that it ought to do, in order to curtail the temptations which beset especially the younger portions of our population. There may be honest differences of opinion about the way of applying a remedy, and it may well be admitted that votes will be recorded against the proposal now before the House by hon. Gentlemen who are as sincerely anxious to promote temperance as any who will vote for it. We are very far from saying that the closing of public-houses on Sunday will be anything like a panacea or a complete cure for the evils which we see around us. At the best it can only be a palliative; but if, as Baron Dowse observed, it should prevent foolish young men from doing wrong a seventh part of their time, it would have done something. We are encouraged to have good hopes from its operation, when we take into account the experience of Scotland, for it is now put beyond doubt that the measure has been a success there. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) obtained a Return recently, showing the number of arrests for drunkenness in Scotland during the year ending June, 1875. This Return distinguishes the arrests made between 8 a.m. on Sunday and 8 a.m. on Monday from those made on the other days of the week. The arrests for the year in the whole of Scotland were 61,173, which would give an average of 8,739 for each of the seven days. But, instead of this, we find that the Sunday arrests were only 2,379, whilst the average for each of the other days was 9,782. When these figures are taken, along with the fact that in England and Ireland the arrests on Sunday are about equal to those made on the other days of the week, it amounts to a positive demonstration that the Forbes-Mackenzie Act, as it is called, has wrought successfully in Scotland. It may be asked why are there any Sunday arrests at all in Scotland when the public-houses are not open at all? But they are open for bonâ fide travellers; and I am informed on excellent authority that the persons who are arrested on Sunday evenings are generally those who have not considered it too great a hardship to walk three Scotch miles to put themselves in order for getting drunk. Again, we are met with an allegation which we find it hard to rebut—namely, that Ireland is not Scotland. For this one night in the House of Commons I am sorry that it is not. It was once suggested that the best cure for Ireland would be to put it at the bottom of the sea for a short time; but I am inclined to think that if it could only become Scotland for one Session of Parliament, the advantage to us would be very great, for then we should have no difficulty in carrying a remedial measure like this, which is supported by four-fifths of the people of Ireland. Not that we grudge to Scotland her good fortune in getting whatever she wants in this House. We have no reason to do so, for I am bound to acknowledge that Scotch Members have done everything in their power to get for Ireland the same concession which Parliament made to them 23 years ago. I frankly own that, no matter how well the law may have wrought in Scotland, we should not be justified in extending it to Ireland unless the opinion of the country was decidedly in favour of such a step. Now we have taken every means that can be thought of to elicit Irish opinion on the question, and the result of those inquiries I shall now lay before the House. Petitions from Ireland alone in favour of this Motion have been presented, signed by about 230,000 persons; whereas, against it, the signatures amount to only 50,000, and it may be of importance to observe that these adverse Petitions have all emanated from public-houses. It has become the fashion to throw cold water on Petitions, and I have even seen it asserted that the healthiest opinion of the country is that which is neither expressed in Petitions nor at public meetings. But I do not suppose that Members of the House of Commons will be disposed to judge of the opinions of their constituents by what their constituents do not say; for in that case we could always assert that a nation was in favour of any measure we proposed, if we could only show that the nation in question was politically dumb. I still believe in the old-fashioned way of making popular opinion known by Petition, and by public meeting. Multitudes of crowded public meetings have been held in Ireland during the year in support of this Motion, and I am aware of only one against it, which I will now describe. The publican interest in the town of Strabane, in County Tyrone, a prosperous town of 4,500 inhabitants, took alarm at the progress of the Sunday closing movement, and resolved on a counter demonstration. A public meeting was projected, placards were posted, and the promoters made most laudable efforts to have an imposing assemblage to protest against the Sunday Closing "Coercion Bill." The evening and the hour of meeting arrived, when a great many people gathered around the door of the hall, but would not go in. At length a house was made; a gentleman was moved to the chair, but only two publicans and no sinners appeared on the scene. The chairman, waiting for fresh arrivals, which never came, rose and said that there had been resolutions prepared, but if the trade did not think fit to look after its own interests, it was none of his business."Sunday closing might do some good, as it kept a man from doing wrong the one-seventh of his time."
which he did amid the hearty cheers of the people outside, who laughed to their hearts' content at the result of this great anti-Sunday closing demonstration in the town of Strabane. It is the same all over Ireland. There is no popular opinion which could stand the ordeal of a public meeting against the closing of public-houses on Sundays. Another test was applied last winter. The Executive Committee of the Irish Sunday Closing Association caused voting papers to be left with every householder in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Londonderry, these being the six principal cities and towns in Ireland. Great care was taken to get a perfectly free and unbiased expression of opinion, and the following are the results. In Dublin there were 25,077 in favour of the measure, and 3,104 against it; Belfast, 23,277 for, and 2,809 against; Cork, 9,172 for, and 1,499 against; Limerick, 5,292 for, and 632 against; Londonderry, 3,082 for, and 649 against; "Waterford, 3,425 for, and 195 against. The aggregate vote of the licensed traders in all these towns (for they were also asked their opinion) was 830 for, and 735 against. The Irish Government, being startled by these figures, set to work to have an investigation of their own. They employed the constabulary to watch the public-houses in these same cities and towns on a certain Sunday to see how many people used them. I suppose the object of the Government was to prove, if possible, that things were not nearly so bad as we represented them to be; that we were exaggerating the evils of Sunday drinking, and that the outcry we were making was unreasonable. But, whatever the object was, I hear that the result was very curious. They have found out, it is said, that the evils are immensely greater than we ever supposed. They have not made known their figures, which, indeed, the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary has admitted that he cannot quite stand over, and this hesitation on his part will at once be explained when I state to the House that, as I understand, in one town the police reported that more persons entered the public-houses on Sunday than the whole grown-up population of the place. It is like the supper which Sir Boyle Roche was at in London. He told a friend that every kind of drink in this world was on the table, and several others that he could not remember the names of. The Irish police have outdone their countryman, for they, it is said, reported that every man in Dublin entered a public-house on Sunday, and a great many other Dublin men besides. The result of this Sunday tippling Census will not, I am persuaded, be used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but the figures will be kept in the pigeon-holes of Dublin Castle, to be used by some future novelist, who will be writing fictions not founded on facts, being traits and stories of Dublin Castle administration. Of course, the same people were counted over and over again, for a party of six generally stand treat all round in six different public-houses. But, Sir, we never denied that the public-houses were largely used on Sundays. That is our case. And I will tell the House what sort of people do use them on that day. They are not the heads of families at all; but in 9 cases out of 10 they are young persons from 17 to 21 years of age. Let me give one illustration. At the recent Assizes at Londonderry three young men were convicted of a shocking outrage upon a young woman on a Sun- day evening. It came out in evidence at the trial that they had spent the Sunday afternoon drinking in several public-houses. One of the young men was the son of a respectable widow. He was not a habitual drunkard, but he fell into the temptation of the Sunday tavern, and he and his companions were sentenced by Judge Keogh to 15 years' penal servitude. It is for the accommodation of young men of this stamp that we are asked to keep the public-houses open on Sunday afternoons. We can easily reconcile the figures furnished from the house-to-house canvass with those supplied by the police. The heads of families among the working classes, who see their children going to ruin by Sunday drinking, have been eager to sign the canvassing-papers in favour of the measure I am now advocating, and they have done so for the very reason that their sons and daughters use the public-houses on Sunday. Now, if you intend to govern Ireland, not through the opinion of the householders of Ireland, but through the practices of their children, then the sooner you sweep away the present suffrage the better, and let us have a plebiscite of the whole population over 16 years of age. If the majority of the heads of families among the working classes in Ireland were in favour of Sunday taverns, I would not stand here to propose a measure to coerce them, but I would try to create a better opinion outside before recommending Parliamentary action. But as I find that an overwhelming majority of those who are or ought to be responsible for the government of Ireland—that is, the voters—are in favour of protecting the young from the temptations of the public-houses on Sunday, I, will continue to urge Parliament to give effect to their wishes, and to make some earnest attempt to do what they believe will be of great service to the sobriety and morals of the people. I need not occupy the time of the House with answering the Sunday beer argument. Irish Members only use that to catch English ears. In Ireland it has no meaning whatever. No doubt some of the more prosperous of the Irish working classes drink bottled porter; but all hon. Gentlemen who indulge in that beverage know that Dublin stout keeps very well as long as the cork is allowed to stay in the bottle, but not many minutes longer. Then as to shebeens taking the place of licensed houses on Sunday, I am sure the Constabulary, who have shown themselves so efficient in counting the men and women in Ireland who drank whiskey in houses other than their own on a certain Sunday, will not have much difficulty in picking up a man coming out of a shebeen. I think too well of the Irish police to suppose for a moment that they would fail to get on the scent of a shebeen. We may dismiss that fear. I understand that a deputation from one-third of the trade associations of Dublin have waited recently on the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin (Sir Arthur Guinness) and the hon. Member for Drogheda (Dr. O'Leary) to expostulate against the measure for closing public-houses on Sunday. I have no wish to underrate any expression of opinion of this kind, but I should like to know how many persons attended the meetings which appointed those trade delegates, if they were delegated at all. It is easy to get a hole-and-corner meeting to pass a resolution; but it would be interesting to know what is the legal quorum at these trade meetings. I know a board of trustees, con-of 21 gentlemen. By some oversight in the Act of incorporation, there is no legal quorum of the board's committee; the consequence is that one member can transact the business, and often does. The occasion on which there is only one member present is almost the only occasion on which the board is perfectly unanimous. I should not wonder if these trade meetings in Dublin had nearly as good a reason as this for their unanimity. A certain amount of odium has been thrown upon the Sunday-closing movement by calling it a teetotal movement. If that were true, it could easily bear the odium. Teetotallers are not the most troublesome people in the country; but I am sorry to say the teetotallers are not quite unanimous in favour of this measure. I am informed that some Good Templars and Rechabites refused to sign the canvassing paper in favour of Sunday closing, because they regard the demand as too small. Like the hon. and gallant Member for Waterford (Major O'Gorman), they are willing to spill all the drink and swill the streets with it; but they do not see their way to join in an effort merely to limit its use. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Waterford made a speech last Session in favour of knocking all whiskey barrels into staves, which rejoiced the teetotallers, and made the hair of the publicans stand on end. It is said that a Good Templar Lodge has had the hon. and gallant Member's speech printed and framed in their lodge-room, and that they have his likeness wrought in beautiful needlework on their flag, and yet the hon. and gallant Member, notwithstanding his alliance with the extreme section of abstainers, has hitherto been adverse to the Motion now before the House. I should hope that to-night he will become an advocate for moderation. Another objection against conceding this measure to Ireland is, that if you allow Irish opinion to predominate, it is really the principle of the Permissive Bill. Now, this argument, whatever it may be worth in itself, is very hard upon the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan), for he is against Sunday closing, but is quite fanatical in favour of the Permissive Bill, and I believe has voted for it ever so many times. He can see no connection between the two propositions; but, lest the hon. Member's logic might not be accepted as conclusive on all sides, I beg to submit, most respectfully, that the national opinion of Ireland is not exactly the same thing as the local opinion of an English village. Ireland is something more than an English parish, and any attempt to obliterate the national sentiment of Ireland in matters which concern that country only would, I venture to think, be a great blunder in English statesmanship. Some one said in the debate of last year—I am not sure that it was not the Chief Secretary himself—that if these propositions were carried into law, there would be riots in all the large towns. The right hon. Gentleman has still something to learn of Ireland and Irishmen. An Irishman is always ready for a riot when he has got drink, but no man ever saw an Irishman creating a riot in order to get it. The four great arguments against the Motion—namely, those drawn from dinner beer, clubs, shebeens, and riots may be taken as practically dead. The heads have been wrung off them long ago. The great argument in favour of the measure is growing from day to day, and that is Irish opinion. I do not need to wait for the publication of the division list to-morrow to tell what Ireland is going to say to-night. Four-fifths of all the Irish votes to be recorded this night will be in favour of the Motion, and yet I am sensible that Ireland is fighting a hard battle. There is a formidable power arrayed against her in every county and borough in England. The licensed victuallers are against us, and anyone who reflects on the political history of this country for the last few years will at once understand what momentous meaning is involved in this admission. It is easy to deal with Irish publicans. They are divided on the question; and even if they were not, they know that we who advocate this measure are not their enemies, while we try to be friends to the country; but the English publicans are to a man against it, and we cannot appease them. I am not so unjust to English Members of this House as to say or to think that their votes will be controlled by this vast power, whose pretensions are becoming a danger to the country. Indeed, I know there are some who are determined to emancipate themselves from it, and who, if the worst came to the worst, would rather be independent Englishmen than servile Members of Parliament. It is seldom that the people of Ireland come before you as they come now. Political animosities are laid aside; but is it come to this—that England is more afraid of the union of Irishmen than she is of their divisions? What harm this measure can do to England I cannot understand; it is for English Members to judge. I have still a hope that the decision of the majority will be that no selfish interest, however powerful, shall be allowed to stand any longer in the way of this measure of justice to Ireland and her people. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution."In fact," said he, "my own sister keeps a public-house, and she has a six-day licence; that is all I have to say, and I dismiss the meeting,"
in seconding the Resolution, said, he felt he was unable to add anything to the force of the arguments addressed to the House by the hon. Member who had just spoken, but he wished to say a few words in answer to the objections which might be urged to the measure embodied in his hon. Friend's Motion. He had never said, and he did not believe, that any legislative action would put an end to drunkenness in Ireland, or even wholly prevent Sunday drinking, for there were everywhere, unfortunately, persons who would get drink in spite of any legislation. He was prepared to admit that if the public-houses were closed on Sunday, a certain amount of illicit drinking might possibly go on, especially in some of the large towns. But that was not a sufficient argument against the Motion. The question was rather one of degree than one of principle, and what the House had to consider was, whether under the present system a greater amount of drinking and its attendant evils did not exist than would be the case if the Resolution were adopted. He thought the dangers anticipated from shebeens had been exaggerated, and what he wanted to do was to diminish as much as possible the temptations to drink presented to the people on Sunday, their day of leisure and rest. He was far from believing that the Bill would put an end to drunkenness in Ireland. It would, however, largely diminish it, and would in that respect far more than counterbalance any evils that might result from some illicit drinking. Much of the whiskey sold in licensed houses was as bad and as maddening in its effects as that vended in the worst of the illicit houses, and if a certain amount of illicit drinking went on, it would produce results very little, if any, worse than the drinking in licensed houses in proportion to the amount consumed in each. The Bill was spoken of by its opponents as a bad and arbitrary proposal—a kind of Coercion Act—and the closing of these houses on Sundays was spoken of as an evil as great as the deprivation of the personal liberty of the subject. But it was for those who said so to prove the assertion; as they appeared to have overlooked the fact that the publicans were really seeking to perpetuate exceptional laws in their own favour. Was it not the fact that every other trader had his house closed on Sunday? It was for the trade of the publican alone this exceptional legislation was permitted—that trade which led to the commission of nearly all the crime in the country. It was alleged that If the public-houses were closed on Sundays, it would not diminish the amount of liquor drunk on that day, because the people would provide themselves with drink on Saturday and consume it on the Sunday. The man's wife and daughters would then partake of it, and it was said that the whole family would be debauched by drink. His answer was, that he did not believe it, nor did the publicans themselves, and the proof was the strong opposition they waged against the Bill of his hon. Friend. It had been represented to him by some of the most intelligent representatives and leaders of the trade that the closing of the houses on Sunday would so seriously affect the receipts that many in the trade would be ruined, and others would be obliged to leave it. This could not of course be so, if the liquor were bought all the same on the Saturday; on the contrary, such an alteration in the practice of the consumers would add considerably to the net profits of the trader, for if he would do as much business in one day as he now did in two with the same establishment, it must be evident that there would be a clear and undoubted gain to his pocket. But the trade did not think so. They knew that there would be no additional purchasing of liquor on Saturday, and hence they resisted the proposal as one most seriously attacking their incomes. He agreed with the trade in this. He believed with them that the passing of a Bill in the spirit of the Resolution of his hon. Friend would most seriously diminish the amount of liquor consumed, and it was on that account chiefly that he supported the proposal. There could be no doubt that the preponderating opinion in Ireland was in favour of the Motion. It had been shown by Petitions, by the resolutions of Boards of Guardians, Town Councils, and every public body in Ireland, and he trusted that the division would show that the Representatives of the people in that House were equally favourable to the principle of the Resolution as the other representative bodies in Ireland. In the country parts of Ireland the closing could be most easily enforced, and would be an unmixed benefit; and although in Dublin and in the other large cities greater difficulty would be experienced in enforcing the law, and some evils might arise from it, yet he believed those difficulties were not insuperable, and he felt the greatest pleasure in seconding the Resolution which had been so ably placed before the House by the hon. Member for Londonderry County.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that the Law which forbids the general sale of Intoxicating Liquors during a portion of Sunday in Ireland should be amended so as to apply to the whole of that day,"—(Mr. Richard Smyth,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
thought that perhaps as an English Member who with great care had endeavoured, as far as he was able, to master this difficult subject with regard to the wishes and views of the Irish people, it was desirable he should state his opinion as to what hon. Members on that side of the House should do with regard to the question. He was bound to say that the hon. Member for Londonderry had stated his case clearly and decidedly, and brought forward cogent and urgent reasons on behalf of his Motion; but there were many considerations with regard to this question beyond what was desired by the hon. Member, and he for one, while most anxious to do everything for his fellow-countrymen in Ireland which they most desired, had to look beyond that consideration of the question. Whatever the views and wishes of those in Ireland might be, and whatever decision the House might come to, the circumstances of the case, so far as they had been stated by the hon. Member for Londonderry, should not be taken in any way as a precedent for what might be done on the same subject in England. The circumstances of the two countries were different. He desired to call the particular attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite to the fact that in this country they were not at all in the same position as they stated they were in Ireland, and therefore when any question of this kind arose with regard to England, he ventured to hope they would give to the question the same candid consideration which he should endeavour to do on the present occasion. Always up to the present time he had voted against the Bill brought forward in that House to carry out the principle enunciated in the Motion they were now discussing; but last year he recollected that many statements were made in that House, though they came to no division, in favour of no restrictions being put on the liquor traffic. A strong speech was made on the subject by the junior Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy), and an equally strong speech was made by the hon. Member—the only Member now, he was truly sorry to say—for Cork City (Mr. Murphy). Well, he recollected weighing all these arguments, and they did not convince him that the great majority of the people were in favour of the Motion before the House; but he was bound to say now that it appeared to him there was a large majority of the Irish Representatives sitting on both sides of the House, and of every shade of politics, who were in favour of the Motion. He was not sure, however, that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. R. Smyth) had advanced his case by making use of declamation against the publicans of this country; for whatever might be his opinion of that body, he (Sir Walter Barttelot) believed that they were as respectable and industrious as any other class of men in this great community. Therefore it was most unwise to introduce matter of that kind into this discussion. The friends of the Motion, also, though they had urged their case moderately, had been a little too zealous. It was wrong, very wrong, in his opinion, that any societies should come to that House, and urge hon. Members to vote in any particular direction. He never would be bound by anything of the sort, and he had always, as far as he had been able, cut short any interview of the sort. Hon. Members, in his opinion, should not allow any persons to interfere with them, but ought to give their votes to the best of their understanding and belief. Now, there was one thing he desired to know. What would the hon. Member do, if these public-houses were shut up entirely on Sundays to meet the requirements of those who wanted refreshment? Where there no single men in towns and villages in Ireland who would require some provision or refreshment on Sundays? Again, take, for instance, the great towns of Cork and Limerick. In the former city the people went out on Sundays in large crowds to Cove and other places, and it would be hard to restrict them or rather to prohibit them from obtaining refreshment. He rose principally to say that, having carefully considered this matter, he thought, after the statement made by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland last year, something ought to be done by the Government. The plan shadowed out last year was not absolutely in the right direction, because it dealt or rather proposed to deal with places in the country as distinct from or against large towns. That was hardly the way to deal with the question. Viewed from North to South, Ireland might be said to be almost entirely an agricultural country, and though no doubt there were some very large towns in Ireland, they were few and far between. As the matter must be dealt with, he thought it would be far better to restrict the hours of remaining open on Sundays to the smallest possible compass than to make any distinction between town and country. He hoped that the question would be dealt with in that manner, and that such a concession to popular feeling in Ireland would be acceptable to hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House.
said, that the evidence taken before the Select Committee which had considered the subject showed that the opponents of Sunday closing relied more on the difficulty of putting such a measure into operation than upon any objection founded on principle. He thought the hon. Baronet who had just spoken (Sir Walter Barttelot) had misunderstood the drift of the observations made by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth)respecting the publicans of England. For his own part he (Mr. O'Reilly) desired to speak of that body with respect; and in saying what he did his hon. Friend did not mean to say anything disparaging of the publicans personally, but he spoke only the truth when he said that the publican interest was a power in this country, and had made itself practically felt not only at elections, but in that House. What he would rather say to the English publican interest was—"Be not so alarmed in this matter. Look on it fairly and justly, and it concerns not you. It is a question not of abstract principle, but one of practical utility, and it is in that view only you ought to look at it. It may be that we in Ireland can adopt Sunday closing with advantage, whereas you cannot do so in England." He would therefore ask English Members to vote on this question as one affecting Ireland alone, and not as affecting any question concerning England that might arise in the future. The traffic in intoxicating liquors had always been subject to restrictions, and why, if the country wished it, should not those restrictions be increased in Ireland? Eight years ago, when he withdrew his Sunday Closing Bill, he did so on the promise of the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, that the hours of remaining open would be restricted, and that pledge had been honourably fulfilled by his successor in office. The hours in the country had been greatly shortened, and closing at 7 o'clock in the evening had given the greatest satisfaction. Undoubtedly opinion in Ireland was in favour of Sunday closing, and it was their duty to respect that opinion, especially as the proposed measure was one calculated to effect much good. There were, however, some practical difficulties in carrying out the measure which he should wish to see dealt with and overcome. It was stated that in the large towns, such as Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, a large number of the population would resent the total suppression of the liquor traffic on Sunday. The excursion difficulty was even more serious. There was no more legitimate demand than that of the excursionist, and some provision should be made to supply it. There were many places where excursionists swarmed on Sundays; and even if this law passed, under the bonâ fide traveller clause, the public-houses would be open all day and thronged with persons who were supposed to have travelled three miles, while at the same time they would be theoretically, though not practically, closed to residents in the neighbourhood. If they were closed altogether, a great hardship would be inflicted on the respectable tradesman who went on an excursion with his wife and children, carrying his dinner with him, and who would naturally want to get a glass of beer. He would rather see limited hours for opening established in such exceptional cases; for afterwards the public-houses would be closed during the remainder of the day against the pretended bonâ fide travellers who so frequently resorted to them. There was a third difficulty, and that was with regard to certain small towns in Ireland where fleets of fishing boats arrived during the summer, and produced an enormous fluctuating seafaring population. No doubt these people did require some accommodation on the Sunday, and he believed that, looking at the matter practically, they were a class who would resent more strongly and vehemently than any other the closing of public-houses against them on Sundays. The difficulty might be met by treating these places exceptionally in the same way as the large towns and the places where there was a large excursion traffic. These were the only three difficulties of any importance. The remedy he suggested was not to attempt to schedule by an elaborate series of clauses the regulations which would meet such exceptional cases, but to leave to the local authorities of the district a discretionary power, subject to whatever control might fee deemed desirable. In this way the will of the people of Ireland would be given effect to without any fear of that which he should very much regret, a re-action against a law too rigid at the commencement, which might imperil the continued existence of the repressive legislation which they asked for. It was desirable that this power of meeting exceptional difficulties should admit of elasticity in the regulations. If necessary, public-houses might be opened for an hour in the middle of the day in particular cases, or for a couple of hours in the evening. That would have the effect of checking drunkenness, which was the result of continued drinking. People went to public-houses not intending to remain, and ended by stopping there as long as possible. It was a question whether it was better for this House to frame the exact terms of the rules in special cases, or leave that duty to the local authorities. He preferred to leave it to the local authorities. In the Bill of the late Government, some discretion was left to the local authorities as to the hours of opening and closing. The present Government came in, and the Home Secretary stated that he was entirely against this discretionary power, and that he would rather have one universal set of hours laid down by Parliament, and, with that view, he fixed one hour for closing in populous and another for closing in non-populous places, leaving it to the local authorities to decide which were populous and which were non-populous places. Having carefully considered the question he (Mr. O'Reilly) thought there need be no great practical difficulty in the way of meeting the exceptional cases which might arise. He, therefore, had no hesitation in supporting the Resolution.
said, he agreed in the opinions expressed by the hon. Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot), and could not see his way to support the Resolution in its present form. The arguments used by the supporters of the Motion was, that there was a larger amount of drunkenness in Ireland on Sundays than on any other day. If they were to close all public-houses on Sunday on that ground, on the same principle they might be asked to pass a law to prevent public-houses from being open on Mondays, which day was in many parts of the country kept almost as a holiday, and there was probably more drunkenness on that day than any other of the working days. He should, therefore, oppose the Motion. They had in that House legislated for the purpose of restricting the hours which licensed houses should be kept open, both on Sundays and other days, and without at all wishing to adopt the principle of the Permissive Bill, which would always have his most determined opposition, he should be glad if Her Majesty's Government could see their way to restricting the hours still further on Sunday, in order, as far as possible, to prevent the evils which were complained of. At the same time, he could not help thinking, that if they entirety closed public-houses on Sundays they would bring about a reaction which would be a worse evil than any that at present existed. He did not think they were prepared for so strong a measure as that proposed, but concurred with the hon. Baronet that they should do all that they could to assist their fellow-countrymen in Ireland to carry any legislation which they believed to be for the best interests of that country.
said, the question before the House, as propounded by the supporters of the Motion, was, that there was such an enormous excess of intemperance in Ireland as to call for legislative interference. That seemed to be taken for granted by the supporters of the proposition, but he had not yet heard any proof in substantiation of that position. General declarations had been made, and the opinions of some Judges and others in authority had been cited; and although these were highly respectable members of society in their professional walks of life, yet they were not a whit better authorities than any other persons who thought and spoke and had their being in Ireland whose assertions were unsupported by facts. It was taken for granted that not alone was there a great amount of intemperance in Ireland on Sundays, but that it was such as called for the special legislative interposition of that House. He had not heard any statistical statement or any proof whatever that the amount of intemperance, if there were such general intemperance at all, was such as to call for that special interposition. Only a very general statement had been made that there was such intemperance, but those who made that charge were bound to lay some proof before the House. Then, again, it was taken for granted that the closing of public-houses on Sundays would have the effect, the ultimate effect, of stopping that intemperance, assuming it to exist, and of doing away with it altogether. [Mr. R. Smyth: No, no!] Well, at least of so decreasing it, that it would be a great benefit to the country. It was perfectly useless for hon. Gentlemen to get up and apply arguments founded on the general declarations of other people unless they stated as fully as possible the case which they wished to make out. There were three things which, in his judgment, it rested with the promoters of this proposition to prove—first, that intemperance, as a rule, existed; secondly, that the closing of public-houses on Sundays would repress or ultimately extinguish such intemperance; and lastly, that the mass of the people for whose use and convenience those houses existed called for their compulsory closing, and as they had not yet proved any one of them, perhaps he might take the liberty of making out his case in a contrary direction—not by quoting the opinions of gentlemen who were no doubt able, good, pious, and learned, but by referring to facts and to evidence which was recorded through the instrumentality of a Select Committee appointed to inquire into the subject. He had a right to ask the House to judge that evidence impartially, and not upon the quasi-sentimental feeling with which it appeared to him the Motion was brought forward. In the first place, to apply himself to facts, he would take his own locality, which would be about as good an instance as he could bring before the House without boring them with detailed statistics. The city of Cork was comprised of a population of nearly 80,000 inhabitants, and he had procured a return from the authorities there showing the number of charges of drunkenness which were brought before the magistrates for the years 1873, 1874, and 1875, and also a return of the number of persons charged with being drunk on Sundays. He admitted that if it could be shown that the number of cases arising from drunkenness on Sundays was larger than on any other day of the week, there might be some ground for the Motion to close public-houses on Sundays; but, on the other hand, if it was shown that the number of persons charged with being drunk on that day—not merely committals—were infinitely less than any other day in the entire week, he thought a good case would be made out against the Resolution, which was based on the assumption that there was a great excess of drunkenness on Sundays. The return he had obtained from the clerk of petty sessions in Cork showed that the total number of persons charged with being drunk in that city during the year 1873 was 2,680, in 1874 it was 2,531, and in 1875 it was 3,026. The number charged with being drunk on Sundays was, for 1873, 242—a proportion of a little over 4 persons for each Sunday in the year; in 1874 the number was 204, and in 1875 it was 261. The average daily number charged with drunkenness for the three years was 7 2–3, and for Sundays only 4 1–3. That being the fact of the case, he failed to see on what ground the argument of his hon. Friend was based. The facts proved the exact reverse of the arguments which had been used in support of the proposition. He had taken out the average daily number of persons charged with being drunk on Saturdays, and compared it with the number charged with being drunk on Sundays, and he found the average for Saturdays was 12¼, and for Sundays it was only 4 1–3. He merely adduced these facts as a guide to hon. Gentlemen who might take part in this discussion. There was another very striking return which he had procured, showing the total number of committals to Cork City Gaol for drunkenness for the years 1872, 1873, 1874, and 1875, distinguishing the men from the women. The total number of individuals committed gave a yearly average for the four years of 418. The total number was for men 1,674, giving a yearly average of 418; and the number of committals for women was 1,125, giving a yearly average of 281, or little more than one-half of the number of men. But when they looked at the total number of committals as distinguished from the total number of individuals committed the case was absolutely reversed; for in those same years the committals of men were 2,304, as against the committals of individuals 1,674, and the yearly average was 576. But with regard to the women, although there were 1,125 women committed to gaol in those four years, yet the number of committals was 2,814; showing a yearly average in the case of women of 703 and in the case of men of 576. It was not easy to account for that. But, be that as it might, he thought the figures he had given proved that in a city of 80,000 inhabitants, with a migratory population—for there was no season of the year when people were not entering and leaving the port—and being a garrison town, the number of persons charged with drunkenness was comparatively small, and it was smaller on Sundays than on any other day in the week. He submitted, therefore, that, so far as that part of the case was concerned, the supporters of Sunday closing had no case. Now, he thought it rested with the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Resolution to show that public opinion in Ireland was in favour of the measure. No doubt a great many Petitions had been presented from Poor Law Guardians, magistrates, and other quarters; but what was the history of those Petitions? This was not a new question at all. Did the House hear now for the first time of the machinery of the Irish Sunday Closing Association, which, he ventured to say, was nothing more or less than an offshoot of the United Kingdom Alliance in this country? When the measure of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) was brought forward in 1868, he (Mr. Murphy) took the liberty of moving that it be referred to a Select Committee, and although the hon. Member opposed that, it was supported by the sense of the House, and a Select Committee was granted. Evidence was taken, and he would presently refer to the evidence given by the Chief Commissioner of Police in Dublin on the question of Sunday closing. In the same year Mr. Abel Smith brought in his Sunday Closing Bill for England, and that also was referred to a Select Committee. After very copious evidence had been taken a Report was issued, a portion of which was so perfectly germane to the question of what was called "public opinion" in the present day, but which he called the counterfeit presentment of the reality, that he would read an extract from that Report. The so-called public opinion was produced by the organized system adopted by the Irish Sunday Closing Association, which had excellent machinery and funds, and there was not a town or district into which their agents did not extend. They had a stereotyped form of Petition which they sent down to every Poor Law Board, and were perfectly zealous in their vocation of getting signatures to the Petitions so distributed. He did not say that they had not a right to do that if they chose; but he must say that this emanation of paper opinion did not carry that significance which this House might suppose. These Petitions did not represent the spontaneous emanation of opinion of the country out of which they arose. Petitions to be of weight should arise spontaneously in the districts from which they came, and should not be sent down from an organized centre ready prepared for signature. The same system was adopted in 1866, when the question of Sunday closing in England was discussed, and the evidence given before the Select Committee in 1868, which was equally applicable in the present instance, showed how "public opinion" was at that time got up. Having taken the evidence of witnesses as to the state of public opinion, the Select Committee issued a special Report, in which they spoke of the returns of many canvasses made in large towns with a view to ascertain the sentiments of the inhabitants upon this question, and added—
He thought that the expression of opinion as embodied in that Report was very applicable, and it was evidence procured on the very nature of the proposal now before the House. He protested, however, against its being taken to be the opinion of Ireland—those artificial signatures procured by canvassing, and against the result of a house-to-house visitation being taken to be the spontaneous opinion of the land which that House ought to pay attention to. He utterly denied that the compulsory closing of public-houses on Sunday would cause the cessation of intemperance where it might happen to exist, and asserted that such a measure would be an uncalled for attack on the comforts and habits of the community, and on this point he would further quote from the Report of the Select Committee—"Your Committee would observe that great caution must be exercised in affixing a value to the results of any such canvass. Although no imputations of dishonesty rest upon the canvassers, it has been proved to your Committee that in many instances the canvass has been of a partial nature, and does not adequately convey the real sense of the community whose opinions it professes to represent. Moreover, it is evident that a canvass conducted by persons whose object is to obtain a particular expression of opinion is not of a character to command such implicit confidence as one conducted by more impartial persons."
Evidence upon that subject was given, and he thought any person impartially reading it would agree that the preponderating weight of evidence showed that the proposed limitation, so far from abating the evil, would rather intensify it. There could be no doubt upon that evidence that illicit and surreptitious drinking would go on. Was it not notorious that a comparatively small minority of the population only were intemperate? If they closed every public-house in the land, those were the class of persons who still would get drink, and those were the very persons whose conduct had met with such just reprobation. He did not believe that the warmest advocate of that measure would make such a charge as that Ireland, as a whole, was intemperate. God forbid! He should blush for his country if he thought that of even the most enthusiastic supporter of the Bill. He believed that those who advocated that measure did so with all sincerity. But he should blush for his country if for one moment those persons would say that the whole of Ireland was intemperate. Yet let him ask if they did not do that, what justification had they for coming to the House at all? Must they not prove general intemperance was the rule, and not the exception, of the land, before they could ask the House to close all public-houses on Sundays, and thus interfere with the use, comfort, and convenience of the masses. There was another paragraph in that same Report, which he thought applicable, and he hoped the House would pardon him while he read it—"For however beneficial may be the results of restriction within certain limits, its enforcement to such an extent as to cause any violent interference with the habits of the people has a tendency to create a discontent which is sure to be followed by evasion; the law is brought into disrepute, and effects are not infrequently produced the very reverse of those intended."
The custom in Scotland had been much spoken of, but every one knew that in Scotland the question was much more of a Sabbatarian one as applied to that country, and that it did not arise so much from the idea of wishing to repress intemperance, as to preserve the sanctity of the Sabbath. The same Committee, in its Report, went on to say—"Your Committee would further observe that the proposed restrictions do not afford any hope of the settlement of the question upon a permanent basis. Most of the advocates of the measure openly avow that they would accept it only as an instalment, and many of them desire to put a stop to the whole retail trade in exciseable liquors. In that trade a very large amount of capital is embarked, and so long as the licensed victuallers and keepers of beer-shops stand in the position of men carrying on a recognized and legitimate trade, and one, moreover, subjected to heavy taxation, it would be unjust that their operations should be embarrassed, and their property depreciated in value by constant attempts to impose upon them restrictions which do not appear to be demanded by any urgent public necessity."
There were many other reasons which he could give the House, only he did not desire to weary them upon the subject. He thought he had shown them them, at all events so far as regarded Sundays, there was not that amount of intemperance and drunkenness which called for the interference of that House. The Act of 1872 was taken as the final settlement of the licensing question, and the proposals of the Bill of that year were not only the result of the Committee of 1868 upon the English Bill, but of the Committee of 1868 upon the Irish Bill also. He was a Member of that Irish Committee, as also was his hon. Friend the Member for Longford County. The Committee was equally composed of the advocates and opponents of Sunday closing. That Committee came to an unanimous opinion against Sunday closing, and recommended the hours of closing which had since been embodied in the Act of 1872. That a very beneficial change had been the result of that measure he candidly confessed, and if his hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry had brought forward a measure to consider the advisability of making further restrictions in the hours, he should not have felt constrained to vote against the Motion. Therefore, so far as the Resolution was concerned asking the House to affirm the proposition that it was expedient that the total closing of public-houses in Ireland should take place, he did not think the House had any evidence before it to justify that following. He thought also it would be a very crying evil to the trade who had embarked their capital in it to sweep away one-seventh of their earnings. He protested against the Resolution, because it was not in his opinion called for by the class for whom the public-houses should be kept open. If the House passed the Resolution it would be introducing class legislation, and class legislation of the worst character."The beneficial working of the Public-houses (Scotland) Acts 1854–62…does not establish any proof that a law similar, or approaching it in strictness, would be either acceptable or expedient in England. For even those witnesses who spoke to the success of the Scotch law admitted that there was so remarkable a difference in the habits of the English and those of the Scotch people in their use of public-houses, that your Committee are of opinion that no trustworthy inference could be drawn from the fact of that success."
said, that the House was called upon by the Resolution of the hon. Member for Derry (Mr. R. Smyth) to deal with a very difficult question and one which affected the social habits of the people without having any very large amount of knowledge as to what were the wishes on the subject of those who would be most affected by the proposed legislation. Under these circumstances, the least they could do before they committed themselves to the Motion of the hon. Member was to satisfy themselves that it was sound in principle, that it would be universally, or nearly so, acceptable to the people of Ireland, and that it would be likely to result in the good which the hon. Member hoped would flow from it. The subject had been on many previous occasions before the House, and very different opinions with regard to it had been expressed by those who had good opportunities of ascertaining the probable effect of the legislation asked for. Hon. Members had heard the Motion ably recommended by the hon. Member for Derry, and they had heard it seconded in much more guarded tones by the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don). From the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly), although he spoke in its support, they had heard proposals for considerable alterations in the terms of the original Motion; while the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy), who represented one of those large constituencies in which the application of total Sunday closing would be peculiarly difficult, had laid another view of the question before the House. He might say, at any rate, that so far as the Irish Representatives had spoken in that debate, they had expressed very varying opinions; and he found the same differences when he referred to such expressions of opinion as had been obtained from the people of Ireland. A memorial had been presented to the Prime Minister, to which the hon. Member for Derry attached much importance. It was, no doubt, signed by gentlemen who took great interest in the subject, and who did so from philanthropic motives of the best kind, with the sincere belief that their proposal would effect what they desired; but, at the same time, few of those who had signed that memorial would be personally affected by the legislation which they asked for. That memorial for the total Sunday closing of public-houses in Ireland was signed by 7,000 or 8,000 of the clergy, magistrates, landowners, physicians, Poor Law Guardians, town councillors, and employers of labour—the representatives, no doubt, of the opinion of a very large number of that class of persons. But when they remembered that very few, if any of those gentlemen would be affected in their personal and social life by the legislation in question, they ought not, he thought, to attach so much importance to that memorial as to make it virtually decisive of the question at issue. Let them ask what was the opinion of the class in Ireland who would be really affected by this proposal. The hon. Member for Derry had quoted to the House some figures which purported to show the result of a house-to-house canvass in certain large towns in Ireland, with the view of proving that a large preponderance of the population in those towns were in favour of the total closing of public-houses in Ireland on Sundays. But on analyzing those figures he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) found that they did not represent the views, even of the majority of householders, to say nothing of the rest of the population. Take, for example, the City of Dublin. He found that the total number of householders who had been canvassed in Dublin was put down in round numbers at 28,000, but he found in the official Returns of the Census of 1871, which were open to any Member of the House, that there were no fewer than 62,000 families within that city, and that, therefore, whatever might have been the opinion of the majority of those 28,000 householders, there must be another 25,000 or 30,000 whose opinions had not been ascertained. He found, taking the City of Cork, that the total number of householders voting was16,000, but from the Census Returns it appeared that there were more than 20,000 separate families. He found that in Limerick 5,900 voted, and the Census Returns showed 14,000 families, whereas in Waterford there were 3,600 voters upon the subject, but it contained 6,200 families. [MAJOR O'GORMAN: Hear, hear!] He expected that the hon. and gallant Member (Major O'Gorman) represented the feeling of a considerable portion of his constituents. At any rate, before they could decide that the result of that canvass could be relied upon by the House they were bound to consider how many thousands of families in the cities comprised in it had not been consulted at all in reference to it. They had also been told that the public-houses were much used by young persons, in the proportion of 19 out of 20. He did not know upon what statistics that assertion was based, but he had been unable to discover anything of the kind. No doubt the population of these cities was 10 or 15 times in excess of the number of householders who had petitioned in favour of Sunday closing, and he dared say that some of the young of both sexes did to some extent use these public-houses; but there could be no doubt that the great majority of the persons who frequented the public-houses were labouring men on their Sunday holiday—men who, perhaps, were lodgers and not householders—men who were thoroughly ignorant of the proposed legislation, and whose real opinion could never be ascertained until this proposal, if it were to become law, was in actual operation. The hon. Member for Derry had also referred to statistics which had been collected by the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Constabulary on this subject by the direction of the Government. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) would have laid these statistics on the Table before now, if he had intended to rely on them in speaking on the question; but the fact they proved was not in any way disputed. What the Government desired to obtain when they ordered those statistics to be collected was merely a rough calculation of the great numbers of the population who used public-houses once or more times during the course of the Sunday. He could quote figures to show that in Dublin and these other cities thousands visited public-houses on Sundays; but these figures only proved what was admitted by the hon. Member for Derry, that these houses were used by a very large proportion of the population on Sundays for the purpose of moderate, and sometimes of immoderate, drinking. But since the subject was discussed last year in the House there had been another expression of opinion which ought not to be without weight. The hon. Member had referred, in terms of depreciation, to a deputation of trades which had waited upon the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of Dublin (Sir Arthur Guinness). From all he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), however, had heard, he was compelled to believe that the deputation which waited upon his hon. Friend on that occasion represented a very large amount of opinion among the working classes of Dublin, as well as of other large towns. If he wanted proof of that, he would refer the House to the undoubted fact that in dealing with this question the hon. Member for Derry had not, with the exception of those northern cities of Belfast and Derry, which must be regarded in this matter as rather Scotch than Irish, received the support of the hon. Members for the large towns in Ireland. Now they were told that Irish opinion was unanimous on this question; but he had endeavoured to show the House what grounds there appeared to be for doubting that unanimity, and he would go further, and dispute the argument which was based upon it—namely, that if Irish opinion was unanimous, they were bound to give effect to that opinion. When he spoke on this subject last Session he was somewhat misunderstood, owing doubtless to his own fault. Certainly, he never meant to convey to the House that he was then prepared to accept the principle of total Sunday closing in town or in country. What he suggested on that occasion was, that if they were to alter the present law on this subject they should proceed tentatively. They should proceed first of all by restriction, in the present hours of closing, and if that restriction proved successful, the hon. Member for Derry, and those who thought with him, might then come again to the House, and press their views as to the total closing of public-houses on Sundays further upon its consideration. But he drew a broad distinction in principle between the two proposals. Restriction of hours was one thing; the total closing of public-houses on Sunday or on any other day of the week was another. Whether in town or country, the total closing of public-houses on Sundays would mean that for the sake of preventing drunkenness in the comparative few who were disposed to that vice, you were prepared to interfere with the moderate enjoyment of the many. If that were really a question of principle we ought not to agree to it merely because Irish opinion desired it. The argument that Ireland ought to be allowed to decide this question for herself might well be acceptable to those who supported Home Rule, but he could not understand how such an argument would commend itself to right hon. Gentleman who sat on the front bench opposite, because in the last year of office of the Government of which they were Members they prevailed on the House to reject this identical proposal when it was supported by the votes of four to one in number of the Irish Representatives who voted on that occasion. Nor, from another point of view, could he understand how this proposition could receive the support of Members of the Home Rule Party. Remembering the debates last Session on a measure which only coerced the few for the benefit of the many, he was surprised to find those hon. Members supporting a measure to coerce the many for the benefit of the few. This House had never given to any local assembly the right to decide whether public-houses should be totally closed; but if the House adopted this proposal because the Irish Members supported it, there was no reason why, on the same grounds, we should not be called upon to enact next Session that there should be Sunday closing of public-houses in Wales, or in an English county, or possibly in an English borough. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, that logically carried with it the principle of the Permissive Bill. That had, at all events, been admitted by one of the chief supporters of the present proposal. At a meeting held in Dublin, the hon. Member for Louth was reported to have said that "the day on which Sunday closing passed for Ireland would see the Permissive Bill for England more than half carried." In dealing with this question he had always endeavoured to argue it solely with reference to Ireland, but this had not, at any rate during the last twelve months, been the policy adopted by its advocates. An agitation had been commenced in the English constituencies on its behalf. The advocates of this kind of legislation for England saw plainly that if the measure proposed by the hon. Member's Resolution were enacted for Ireland it would be the strongest possible argument in favour of a similar measure for England. They were openly told by the hon. Member for Derry that the law ought to be the same on this question in the two countries. Irish Members urged the example of Scotland in favour of a Sunday closing Bill for Ireland; but they forgot the difference between the views of Irishmen and Scotchmen with regard to the rigid observance of the Sunday. The hon. Member for Derry argued that it would be no hardship to Irishmen if public-houses were closed on Sundays, because the working man would get his whiskey on the Saturday night and drink it in the company of his family on the Sunday. But would not a far greater amount of demoralization be thus brought about than if he took a social glass with his friend in the public-house on Sundays? Again, it was pretty generally admitted, even by the advocates of compulsory legislation, that in endeavouring to put down drunkenness you must look mainly to moral suasion. Which country was the more favoured in this respect? In England there was no class who had such an influence with the people as the Roman Catholic clergy had in Ireland; and, to their honour be it said, the Roman Catholic clergy had always been foremost in attempting to put down over-indulgence in intoxicating liquors. The House had been told that 864 Roman Catholic priests had signed Petitions in favour of the Motion. But this was comparatively a small proportion of all the Irish Roman Catholic clergy; and rather tended to prove that most of them did not believe in the efficacy of the legislation which the hon. Member proposed. Thrown into more intimate connection with the people than any other class, they knew this law would be evaded and would not have the effect attributed to it; and therefore, though more numerous than any class of ministers in Ireland, only 864 favoured this legislation. The question could not be considered as solely an Irish question. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had observed that the agitation in Ireland upon it was so much akin to that got up in England for the same purpose, that in some, at any rate, of the English Petitions that had been presented to the House in favour of it, the language, the handwriting, and the signatures, were identical with those in Petitions for the same object in England. He had received such Petitions in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill in Ireland, and seen the identity of handwriting to those for the same object in England; and the class who got up those petitions were one and the same. In a printed paper which had been circulated among hon. Members the same arguments were used in behalf of similar legislation in both countries, and the results were given of recent inquiries in several English boroughs, showing a total of 479,766 householders in favour of entire closing on Sundays, while the opponents only numbered 63,847. The proportion of householders in favour of Sunday closing was alleged to be much the same in England and in Ireland. From this statement English Members would be able to judge how much importance to attach to the public feeling alleged to exist in favour of Sunday closing among the householders in Irish towns. For was it not certain, that in spite of the 479,766 English householders who were stated to be in favour of total Sunday closing in England, such legislation for England would be at once scouted by the House, as opposed to the feelings of the vast majority of the English people. He was opposed to total closing on Sunday, because he thought it was clear that you would thereby cause immense inconvenience to a large majority of those who used the public-houses with moderation on Sundays. The Returns showed that on a particular Sunday 122,000 persons entered public-houses within the municipal limits of Dublin. An immense proportion of those persons visited the public-houses for moderate and necessary refreshment. That was clear from the fact that during the whole of 1875 only 1,410 persons were arrested by the police in Dublin between the hours of 2 and 9 o'clock on Sundays, as drunk and disorderly. He did not assert that the 122,000 visits paid to the Dublin public-houses on a single Sunday were paid by separate persons. No doubt, a large deduction must be made for repeated visits. Still, whatever deduction must be made on that score, many thousands did frequent the public-houses on Sundays, while a very small proportion caused themselves or anybody else any harm by so doing. It had been said by the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) that the law made an exception in favour of public-houses by allowing them to be open on Sundays, while other places of business were closed. The fact was, however, that the closing of other houses of business was not due merely to the law. People did not wish to transact business of an ordinary kind on Sundays, and therefore such places were closed; while public-houses were open in order to meet the convenience of the public. This proposal was supported as likely to put down drunkenness. He had already shown how large a proportion of those who used public-houses on Sundays could not be considered as drunkards; but did the House suppose that drunkenness would be stopped if the public-houses were closed on Sundays? What had happened in Scotland? Fewer persons were arrested by the police on Sundays in Scotland than in England, or probably in Ireland. But Returns before the House showed that the consumption of liquor in Scotland was in no way diminished by Sunday closing. In Scotland the consumption of spirits per head of the population was nearly twice what it was in Ireland, and was increasing more rapidly. Take, again, the dioceses in Ireland in which the Prelates and clergy had established voluntary Sunday closing. It did not necessarily follow that, because voluntary closing was successful in Ireland, a compulsory law would be successful also; for persons who willingly obeyed their clergy, and were proud of their self-denial, might fight against coercive legislation, which might be represented to them as imposed, if not by a Saxon Parliament, perhaps at the instance of a section of their countrymen who were not in sympathy with themselves. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Derry had referred to the Charges which had been delivered by the Irish Judges, but he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) found that they had felt themselves obliged to make as strong remarks with respect to the increase of drunkenness in those places in which voluntary Sunday closing was now carried out as in any other parts of Ireland. An additional proof was, he thought, thus afforded that if the public-houses were to be universally closed on Sundays, drunkenness would not be abolished, but that, while a certain number of persons would be inconvenienced, those who desired to obtain drink would procure it under infinitely worse conditions than those under which it was now supplied to them. He was afraid that, instead of stopping drunkenness by Sunday closing, people would get drunk in places which were not under the ordinary supervision of the law, and that thus the evil would be greatly aggravated by the attempts which were made to mitigate it. In conclusion, he had endeavoured to show why the House ought, in his opinion, to doubt the statement which had been made as to the unanimous feeling of the Irish people in respect to this proposal. He had pointed out the objections which he entertained on principle to it, and the reasons why he thought that even if it were to become law, it would not be followed by the results which were predicted by its supporters. He had, however, at the same time, listened with great interest to some of the suggestions which had been made in the course of the debate. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy) referred to certain proceedings which had occurred in that House 1869, and to the fact that in 1871 the Legislature had adopted the recommendations of the Committee of 1869 that public-houses in Ireland might be open in the country from 2 to 7, and in towns with a population of over 5,000 from 2 to 9. Now, he had made a careful inquiry into the working of that law, and he found that the limitation of the hours previously in force had been beneficial to all concerned. He had endeavoured to ascertain, also, how far it might be possible still further to restrict them with benefit to the community and without inconvenience to those whose interests the House was, he thought, bound to take into account. The result was, that if the present Motion were withdrawn, he should be prepared in the present Session to recommend to the House that the hours of the Sunday opening of public-houses in Ireland should be still further limited in the case of the country from 2 to 5, and in the towns from 2 to 7; and he would venture to suggest that the hon. Gentleman would, by accepting that offer on the part of the Government, do more to forward the views of which he was the advocate than by pressing to a division an abstract Motion, which even if successful, could lead to no practical result, at any rate for some time to come.
After the statement which has just been made by the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary, I should like to say something on this subject. Last year he led us to suppose that if sufficient evidence could be given that a great majority of the Irish people concurred in the desire that the public-houses should be altogether closed on Sundays the Government would take measures to close them, at all events in the country districts, even if they should keep them open in the towns. Now it appears that the proposal so made last Session has been abandoned, and the idea seems to have suggested itself to the right hon. Baronet that it would be a convenient settlement of the question to impose the restrictions he has just mentioned; making the hours during which public-houses may be open on Sundays from 2 o'clock until 5 in the country districts, and from 2 o'clock to 7 in the towns. Now, Sir, it appears to me that there are grave objections to our thus dealing with this question. I will not say that it would prolong an agitation which is not desirable; but it would cause a great deal of inconvenience, and perhaps some disturbance of the capital invested in this business, without really and finally settling the question. I therefore fear, Sir, that the offer which has just been made is not one that can be accepted by those who are in favour of this Motion. With respect to part of the argument just addressed to us, I would observe that the right hon. Baronet seems to have been mistaken as to the nature of the house-to-house canvass, the result of which he has described to us. He seems to think that in Dublin, for example, none were asked their opinions except the 28,000 people who gave answers. Why, Sir, as I understand the statements made, voting papers were left at all the houses in Dublin, and not merely at all the houses in the ordinary sense of the word, but at all the apartments occupied by separate families. To suggest to the House, therefore, that only some28,000 out of 60,000 families in Dublin were asked their opinions would be misleading. So far as those who undertook this inquiry could do, they had a paper left to be filled up by the head of every family in Dublin. The balance simply consists of those who did not take the trouble of answering the question one way or the other, and the same observation may be made as to the other large towns. All were asked, and all the answers obtained are given. It is not too much, then, to say that those who did not choose to answer the question may be left out of the account; and when out of some 28,000 answers, we find 25,000 one way and only 3,000 the other, it is not unreasonable to regard this response as fairly representing the view of the whole community. But there were other matters in the speech of the right hon. Baronet, which were still more surprising. First, as to his statistics. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, does not regard the statistics which he has procured through the police as very reliable—if he had thought so he would have laid them before the House—but he tells us that in Dublin alone the police found 122,000 people going into public-houses on one Sunday. He says—"Of course that does not represent the number of people, but only the number of visits paid by them." Now those who are acquainted with Irish life in the towns know that by far the greater part of Sunday drinking is carried on by wandering people who stroll from one public-house to another, drinking, probably, in all, not observe for refreshment, but either from want of something else to do or to gratify a vicious appetite, until at last, perhaps, they are taken in charge by the police. But the right hon. Baronet, it appears, has got other Returns which satisfy him that there is little excess after all in Irish Sunday drinking. He tells us that in the whole of the year 1875 there were only 1,410 people taken up in Dublin on Sundays for drunkenness. But between what hours? Between the hours of 2 o'clock and 9 o'clock. Why, these are the very hours when, of course, drunken people would not be taken up. If he had procured a Return of the numbers arrested after 9 o'clock, when the people are turned out of the public-houses, he would have given us some reliable information. Arrests of course are made after the public-houses are closed, and when their occupants thus lose the shelter which conceals them from the police; but in fixing on these hours for their Return the police stopped just where the drinking stopped.
The hours for which the Returns were taken were between 2 o'clock and 12 o'clock, not between 2 and 9.
Well, of course, that somewhat alters the case; but I certainly understood the right hon. Baronet to say the time covered by the Return was between 2 and 9. What, however, do we find even taking the hours as from 2 to 12—that is less than half of the 24 hours? Now Dublin has a population of 267,000. Let us compare it in this respect with Glasgow, where Sunday closing is in operation, and which has a population of 477,000, being very nearly double the population of Dublin. Well, Sir, the total number arrested for drunkenness in Glasgow within the whole 24 hours, from 8 o'clock on Sunday morning to 8 o'clock on Monday morning, amounted to 445 only; or less than one-third of the number arrested in Dublin. That is to say, the arrests for drunkenness in Dublin, with half the population, and returned for only half the day, are three times as many as in Glasgow; or, in other words, the Sunday drunkenness in Dublin is 12 times as great as that of Glasgow. If this satisfies the right hon. Baronet, I can only say he is very easily satisfied. To me, Sir, I own it appears that, so far as these figures of the Chief Secretary go, they tend to prove the contrary of what the right hon. Baronet attempted to establish. It is said, however, that by closing the public-houses you would induce a much worse kind of drinking; but that, I confess, is an argument of which I cannot see the force. If you have less attractions, less temptation, and less convenience for drinking, if people have to seek for drink with the police watching and ready to arrest them, I do not understand on what principle it can be supposed that more liquor will be consumed or worse results ensue. Nor do I see how it is, if the police can now easily watch and count 122,000 visits to the public-houses in Dublin on a single Sunday that they will be unable to watch the unlicensed and less attractive houses to which it is alleged the people would resort for drink if Sunday closing were carried out. But, Sir, the answer to all this is, that the thing has been done for many years in Scotland, and that without being followed by any such evil consequences. What, I would ask, is thereof difference between these two parts of the United Kingdom which makes a measure of Sunday closing applicable to Scotland and not to Ireland? What difference is there between Dublin and Glasgow, where you have a large population of working people, and where we find Sunday closing has been carried out easily and with the best results? Hon. Gentlemen know very well that there is in Glasgow a very large Irish population; and therefore the argument of the Chief Secretary founded on the difference of race—that this is a matter of race or of religion, is wholly untenable, Of course, you can always get differences when you want to find them. It was the year 1853, for example, when the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed, and it is the year 1876 that this Resolution is brought forward; and so forth. You can always find differences. But is there any difference on which, as politicians, we can rely to show that what was possible in Glasgow is impossible in Dublin. No, Sir, none such has been found to exist, nor do I believe any such will be shown during the rest of this debate; and the establishment of Sunday closing in Scotland for the last quarter of a century supplies an argument, which, under present circumstances, is, I submit, irresistible in favour of the like system for Ireland. Now, Sir, coming to the general question, I own I have always been surprised that those in favour of this and similar Motions did not rest their case chiefly on the ground taken to-night by my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don)—namely, that there is no reason why the publican should have any special exemption from the law which forbids all other traders to carry on their business on Sunday. This exemption, too, would seem to be comparatively modern. For a long period prior to 1833 it was illegal in Ireland to sell spirituous liquors on Sunday. The right hon. Baronet, indeed, on the last occasion of discussing this question, seemed to be under the impression that a Sunday Closing Act was passed in 1808, but that because it did not work well it was repealed in 1815. That was a misapprehension. The Customs Act of 1808, which was in this respect substantially the same as several of its predecessors, was no doubt repealed in 1815; but then, the provisions forbidding the selling of spirits on Sunday were re-enacted in the new Customs Act of that year. At this time, indeed, it seems to have been the law throughout the United Kingdom, as it certainly was in Scotland and Ireland, that no spirits should be sold on Sunday. However, for some reason or other, which I have been unable to discover, the Legislature thought fit to make a change about the year 1828. Acts were then passed for England and Scotland which, as far as the latter at all events is concerned, for the first time gave publicans the power to sell drink for a certain number of hours on Sunday. This was effected in a way that did not attract notice at the time; and when the Act produced its natural consequences, the Scotch people thought there must be some mistake, and in the year 1832 they questioned the propriety of such a construction of its terms by submitting a case for the decision of the High Court of Justice. Well, Sir; they found that by reason of the form in which the measure had been drawn up, it was necessarily implied that public-houses might be opened for certain hours on Sunday, and what then followed? Why, remonstrance and some agitation, and at the end of 20 years, which appears to be about the usual time required to get any popular measure carried in Parliament, the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was at length passed in 1853. Now, Sir, from that hour to this no Scotch Member has ever had the temerity to put even a Notice on the Paper of this House asking for any alteration of this law, much less for its repeal. Many things have been attempted to which small support was given; but it is a remarkable thing that a change of the character and importance of that effected in 1853 has never been called in question in this House. No Scottish Member has ever ventured even to express an opinion in this House that Sunday closing was of doubtful benefit to Scotland. I therefore, Sir, venture to repeat that we have very strong grounds indeed for asking that what we believe to be the wishes and feelings of the people of Ireland in this matter should be acceded to. The right hon. Baronet truly tells us that Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and he refused in one part of his argument to discuss Ireland separately from the rest; though he adopted a different course in other parts of his speech. He asks, has there ever been an instance in which Parliament has given up its control over any of the parts of which this United Kingdom is composed? Well, Sir, I take issue with him on this point. I say there is such an instance. I say we deliberately did so in 1853, when in answer to the demands of the Scottish Members, this Imperial Parliament, though retaining for the rest of the United Kingdom the exemption of the publicans from the general law against Sunday trading, passed the Forbes-Mackenzie Act to meet and effectuate the presumed wishes of the people of Scotland. So much for the Imperial argument of the right hon. Baronet. Allow me, however, Sir, to say a few words as to this exemption of the publicans. By the general law of the land all other trades are prohibited on Sunday, whilst an exception is made in favour of the publican. Now a friend who has counted them in Thom's well-known directory tells me there are over 300 different trades carried on in Dublin, every one of which is stopped on Sunday except that of selling intoxicating liquor. Nor, I would add, Sir, is this a mere paper prohibition. It is carried out by prosecutions and convictions. Last year I find there were 277 people prosecuted and convicted for breaches of the Lord's Day Act, while probably in many cases their next door neighbour, the publican, was driving a roaring trade with the sanction and encouragement of the law. In honour of Sunday and the Lord's Day Act we punish people who venture to sell beef or bacon, tea or sugar; but in honour of intoxication and its consequences we encourage them to sell wine, brandy, beer, and whiskey. Can anything be more preposterous than this? Is it that whiskey will not keep? Having regard to the poisonous stuff, which we find from a recent debate is carefully prepared for us, I should say that the longer it is kept the better—and even the best whiskey is, as we all know, the better for keeping. Now, Sir, I want to know for what intelligible reason an exception is made in favour of the publican in Ireland? I make no charge whatever against the publicans; they are just as respectable men and as honest traders as others, and have to live like other men; but I should like to see the absurd anomaly to which I have referred corrected. It is on this ground mainly that I desire to support this Motion. I cannot explain to the grocer, the baker, or the butcher why he is properly convicted for selling his wares on Sunday while his next door neighbour can sell as much whiskey as he likes. Nor can I give any satisfactory reason to the workman's wife or children why the law should prevent their buying the necessary and wholesome food upon a Sunday, whilst on the same day it allows and facilitates the expenditure of the last week's wages in intoxicating liquors. It is remarkable, Sir, that when the Irish Licensing Act of 1833 was passed and public-houses were accordingly opened on the Sunday, there followed next year, as I am informed, a Petition from the Corporation of Dublin asking to have the Act in this respect repealed. There was, in fact, considerable discussion upon these matters about that time. Probably the action of the Scotch and the discussion which followed the decision by their High Court of Justice in1832 may have had something to do with it; but, however that may be, we find that in the month of June, 1834, a most important Committee was appointed by this House to inquire into the extent and prevalence of intoxication among the labouring classes, its consequences, and what steps should be taken to prevent the further growth of so great an evil. That was no ordinary Committee. It consisted of 36 Members, and upon it we find the names of Lord Althorpe, Sir Emmerson Tennant, the late Sir Robert Peel, and a number of other eminent and experienced statesmen. They presented an unanimous Report attributing the then prevailing increase of drunkenness to the increased number of temptations placed in the people's path, by the increased facilities for obtaining drink; they reported that the drunkenness which prevailed was destructive to the health of the population, that it excited their worst passions, and was the efficient cause of much of the crime of the country; that amongst its results was the loss of much valuable shipping as well as other evils of great magnitude; and what did they recommend? They recommended that various restrictions should be placed upon the sale of beer and spirits; and amongst these, that the houses in which beer was sold should be closed entirely on the Sunday, except for one hour in the afternoon and one in the evening; and that houses where spirits were sold should be closed for the whole of the Sunday. Perhaps, Sir, a more important or influential Committee of this House never sat than that to which I have just referred; but the result of their labours and of the very valuable Report they presented was that nothing was done, and the several Acts dealing with this matter remained upon the Statute Book without alteration for some 20 years. Things, in fact, remained practically unchanged until the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was tried in Scotland; and now we find that, notwithstanding all that was gloomily prophesied as to its effects, it has produced no evil consequences, caused no rioting or disturbances, and even in the great towns, such as Glasgow, with its teeming population of working men—and a large proportion of these Irish working men—has produced results which, under the circumstances, must be regarded as very satisfactory. As to the evil consequences which are dreaded by the right hon. Baronet opposite, if Sunday closing were tried in Ireland, it is to be observed that these are mere conjectures. For myself I entertain quite contrary opinions, and feel very hopeful as to the result, having regard to the state of public feeling in Ireland upon this question. I confess, Sir, I am surprised to hear those who profess to treat public feeling with respect taking the view they do. We have on this point almost absolutely overwhelming evidence in support of the Motion now before the House. If public meetings are to be taken as any test of public opinion, they have been held. If Petitions are to be regarded as expression of public wishes, they have been abundantly poured into this House. On the other hand, we have not seen a single public meeting called in opposition to this proposal. In fact, it is only opposed by those who have some direct or indirect interest in the continuance of the Sunday liquor trade. What foundation, then, I should like to know, is there for the statement that, in Ireland, there is a feeling against the Motion, that there is a strong under-current of opinion against it, but which cannot be proved, or, for that matter, even perceived? Only one so-called public meeting of its opponents has been held; and, considering the account we have received of the proceedings, I think we cannot be asked to regard that as a very satisfactory expression of public opinion. Again, take the meeting which was held the other day in the Phœnix Park, Dublin, presided over by the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan). That was a meeting of working people, and I am told that there was full opportunity for any dissentients to express their opinions. Over 10,000 persons, I believe, attended it; and yet of all that multitude of working men there were only about 150 who expressed any objection to the Resolution then and there proposed and passed in favour of complete Sunday closing. Now, Sir, if what I have stated be not a sufficient proof of public feeling in Ireland, I should be very glad to know what evidence of it will satisfy Her Majesty's Government. I also, Sir, must take leave to dispute the allegation of the right hon. Baronet opposite that this is to be regarded as an Imperial question. It is, I submit, a purely social question affecting the people of Ireland, and them only, and wholly unconnected with Imperial politics. It is pretended that Imperial interests require public-houses to be opened on a Sunday, when every other kind of shop is closed? If so, what are the Imperial interests that are so involved? Scotland can have nothing to say to them, for her public-houses are already closed. Imperial interests then must mean English interests. But we all know that even in England there is much division of opinion upon this very subject. I admit, indeed, that there is a large and influential class of persons—namely, the publicans of England, who support the Government, and have the support of hon. Members who sit opposite; but I shall not readily believe that these are the interests that are called Imperial, and to be promoted in disregard of the united voice of Ireland any more than of Scotland. Public meetings have been held, Petitions have been signed, and presented to the House—the Irish, and I hope Scotch Members too, are all but unanimous; and yet all this is to count for nothing, and why? Is it because proper measures are to be conceded only, to borrow the language of a late Proclamation, so far as conveniently may be? I cannot believe that any disturbing element will be allowed to operate with the Government; and if the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that this proposal has the concurrence of the great majority of the Irish people, I do not believe he will allow his judgment to be biased by any such foreign consideration. But then, Sir, it is said we cannot make men temperate and moral by Act of Parliament, which is no doubt true; but it is equally true we may do some good by removing all needless temptations to vice. Just consider for a moment how the matter stands. We have a law which gave rise to some discussion here last year, and which prohibits the opening of places for public amusement on Sunday. We have again, as I have already stated, laws in operation to prevent all work or sale of ordinary wares on Sunday; and whilst we put those Acts in force, punishing those who violate them, we deliberately keep public-houses open on Sundays. Now, if you will not let people go to the Brighton Aquarium without inflicting penalties on them, why, I would ask, do you keep open houses which lead people, not to places of harmless amusement like the Aquarium, but to the police-station, if not to gaol? It may be said, all such restrictions are survivals of antique legislation. Well, if so, repeal them all. Be reasonably consistent; and, as long as you maintain these laws unrepealed, and fine one set of people for breaking them, do not encourage their infraction by others, and those not the most innocent. In order to prevent temptation, the Legislature has put down lotteries, prohibited and shut up gambling-houses and betting-houses, and on the same principle there would seem to be every reason for discouraging drunkenness in Ireland by closing its public-houses on Sunday, as desired. It has often been shown that a large proportion of the drunkenness is attributable to drinking on Saturday night and Sunday. It is but natural this should be so, for the weekly wages have just been paid. Publicans, however, have the same right as other traders to sell their goods; and therefore, I say, let them be free to sell their whiskey and other liquors on the Saturday. What I submit is, that whilst they should have the same, they should have no more extensive privileges than other traders, and therefore, like the rest, they should close their shops upon the Sunday. Much of the mischief, too, of drunkenness in Ireland arises almost accidentally. Our people do not go out on a Sunday for the purpose of getting drunk; or, in many cases, even for the purpose of drinking at all. They casually meet their friends, go to the public-house for a social glass, and again to another, and so on until they are landed, perhaps, in gaol for some unpremeditated act of violence, which would never have been done if the publican had been prevented from tempting them with his drink at a time when the butcher is not suffered to sell his meat. Now, why should this be so? Is it that whiskey drinking is supposed by the Government to be conducive to the morals of the people? That, at least, will not be said. In fact, Sir, nothing forces the evil of the present system upon my mind so much as the distressing way in which crime is often, I may say, casually produced by casual Sunday drinking. We find people casually dropping into public-houses, casually drinking, casually falling out, and casually attacking each other in a way that would be wholly unintelligible, if we had not this wretched whiskey drinking to account for it. Permit me, Sir, to call attention for a moment to the way in which crime in Ireland is connected with drunkenness. It is very remarkable how assaults and other breaches of the peace rise and fall in proportion to the facilities afforded for drinking and drunkenness. Thus, in 1867 the number of cases of drunk and disorderly was, speaking in round numbers, 76,000, and the number of assaults was 30,000. In 1870 the number of drunk and disorderly cases had risen to 96,000, and the assault cases rose 3,000 in number—namely, from 30,000 to 33,000. In 1872, owing to the passing of the Licensing Act, restricting the hours during which drink could be obtained, the number of cases of drunk and disorderly fell to 83,000, and the assaults again to about 30,000. I repeat the admission that we cannot make people temperate by Act of Parliament, but we can at least avoid creating exceptional temptations to drink. Why did we put down betting houses, gambling houses, and rookeries? Not because we wanted to make people moral by compulsion, or even to save them from the loss of their shillings or pounds; but because the temptations which such houses presented led to crime. It is said, however, that sufficient good may be effected by restricting the Sunday hours to 5 instead of 7; but, Sir, it appears to me that it would be much wiser, having regard to the strong public feeling of the country, to settle this matter once for all; for it will in the end be done, and in the meantime a great deal of mischief may be caused. It is far better not to keep the publican subject from year to year to these discussions, which certainly do him no good and can have but one termination in the ultimate passing of a measure closing public-houses altogether on Sundays, as demanded by public opinion in Ireland. I observe the chief objections are from the large towns; but, as has been said, there are not many of those in Ireland; and, on the other hand, nearly all the crime of the country comes from these very towns. The crime of Dublin, for example, is 92 per cent as compared with 8 per cent in the surrounding country containing the same amount of population; and though the proportion elsewhere is less, still there is the same great preponderance of town over country crime all through Ireland; whilst it is admitted that a large portion of that crime is closely connected with intemperance. So said the Committee of 1834;so said men like the late Lord Althorpe and Sir Robert Peel. Again, this is the view which has been taken by the Judges who for several years have discussed the question. The grand juries of Ireland, the Boards of Guardians, the magistrates, the town councils, and other public bodies have passed resolutions in favour of Sunday closing; and if anyone says this is not enough, perhaps he will suggest a more efficient way of testing public opinion than has been adopted, and I am sure the supporters of the movement would only be too glad to try it. Nor, Sir, do I believe that there would be any insuperable difficulty in putting an Act such as is suggested into force. Why, I again ask, could we not do in Dublin and Belfast what has been done without difficulty in Glasgow and Edinburgh? Much, no doubt, depends on the measure being supported by such an amount of popular opinion, as will facilitate its enforcement. If the Government are not satisfied that the people of Ireland wish for the change, let them themselves adopt some mode of ascertaining what public feeling is upon the point; but if the testimony which we have already received will not move the Government, I am very much afraid nothing will. It may be that they have some reason entirely beyond our comprehension for not yielding to the demand; but it is desirable that at least some intelligible reasons should be assigned why we may not now follow the precedent set by this House with respect to Scotland 20 years ago; and why, whilst Scotland has been permitted to settle the matter for herself, Ireland cannot be allowed the same privilege. This matter, Sir, involves no question of high politics—it is purely a social question relating to the Irish people, and Irish people only. I, therefore, earnestly hope that notwithstanding the attitude assumed on the subject now, as well as last year, by the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, this concession will be made by Her Majesty's Government, and the Motion of my hon. Friend and Colleague be accepted by them and by the House, in accordance with the practically unanimous wish of all classes of the Irish people.
said, he wished to offer a few words on the Motion. At first, when he heard of the proposal of closing public-houses on Sunday not merely in reference to Ireland, but to the United Kingdom, he entertained a favourable opinion of it, but having since thought a good deal on the matter he had come to entertain doubts of its expediency. No doubt, many Petitions had been presented in favour of the closing of public-houses on Sunday; but although he was ready to admit that they were offered in good faith, he believed that many of those who signed them had very little idea of what they attached their names to. Last autumn he had made some inquiries on the subject of Sunday closing in England, and when talking to some of his own constituents on the question, he learned that when they eagerly desired a Sunday Closing Bill for England, they really meant a Bill for shutting public-houses against all persons whatsoever, not excepting the bonâ fide traveller. But that was very different from the legislation proposed by the Resolution, for its framer had expressly guarded against that interpretation by using the term "general sale of intoxicating liquors," which would not exclude travellers. For his part he took neither the side of the teetotaller nor that of the publican on this question; but, at the same time, he deprecated any attempt to harass the publican, though he admitted that his trade was one which should be regulated. He could see many arguments for closing up public-houses altogether on Sunday, but there were great difficulties in the way of settling the question. The "bonâ fide traveller" question was at the bottom of those difficulties. In one part of England there was a practice among a certain class of people of forming an omnibus club, the members of which paid so much a-week; and, in order to get drink on the Sunday, they rode out of the town for some three miles, then get out of the conveyance, and enjoyed themselves at the first public-house they came to. Then they passed on to the next, and the next, and the result was the most abominable debauchery. He believed that if the Resolution were carried, that system would be extended; while the evils which arose from private drinking would counterbalance any good that might arise from the passing of such a Resolution.
said, that he had never before voted on proposals similar to the one before the House, because he had always felt great objections to a system of legislation which appeared to be directed, against a particular class, so as to restrict the general enjoyment of privileges because some were in the habit of abusing them. But year after year he had become more and more impressed with the serious evils which had arisen from the drinking habits of the people. He felt that these evils, indeed, were so great that it was necessary for legislation to step in and save the people from themselves, and he could not, therefore, any longer refuse to vote for the Resolution of his hon. Friend. No doubt this would involve a certain sacrifice of individual liberty; but that must be made, if it was necessary for the public good. The evils which had already been adduced, and especially the opinions of the Judges on the question—opinions so strong that no words he could use would add anything to their force, especially when so calm a Judge as Mr. Justice Fitzgerald stated that nineteen-twentieths of the crime and poverty of Ireland arose from excessive drinking—showed, he thought, that it was absolutely necessary for the Legislature to step in and protect the people against these evil drinking habits. Nor was it only that the Judges and the clergy of all denominations bore testimony to the necessity of a measure like that contemplated by the Resolution, but they had numerous Petitions from working men praying that they might be protected against themselves. At the same time he did not desire to see an ascetic, Puritanical observance, such as that which prevailed in Scotland, and which he believed contributed largely to increase the drinking habits on that day. On the contrary, he thought it desirable to provide innocent methods of recreation for the people on that day, and to encourage them to resort to them. Although, however, he thought they ought not to stop short with that Resolution, he thought that it was a step in the right direction. It was, moreover, a measure which had the support of the great mass of the intelligent public opinion in Ireland. Entertaining these views, he must say that he was very much disappointed with the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Last year he appeared to be favourable to the principle of the measure, provided only that the large towns could be excluded from its operation; but all he had done now was to propose a reduction of a couple of hours in the time during which the public-houses might remain open on Sunday. That was a compromise which would satisfy no one—neither the friends nor the opponents of closing on Sundays; it would only keep agitation on the subject alive. He could not think that desirable, and so thinking he must support the Resolution, although, as he said, he had never done so before.
admitted that this was a subject that had greatly engaged the attention of hon. Members from Ireland, and he had great respect for their opinions. However, some of the arguments which had been used would show that there was a very large class of persons in Ireland who wished to have public-houses opened on Sunday. He did not doubt but that the hon. Member who brought forward this subject did so with the best intentions; and having supported the Coercion Bill of last Session, on the assurance of the Government that it was necessary for the good of the country, he had come down to the House prepared, for the same reason, to support a Trades Coercion Bill this Session. But since he had entered the House the Government had made a concession to the feelings of the supporters of the Motion which he thought ought to be accepted. He asked hon. Gentlemen if they had ever visited the homes of the poor? Were they aware that many working men preferred the six working days to the Sabbath day because they had no home comforts to enjoy; and were they, then, prepared to deprive them of that they might now obtain? He knew of cases of men in the manufacturing districts, three or four in one room, without fire or any comfort, and that they appreciated the warmth of the factory or the mill on week-days; but if they closed public-houses on the Sunday they had no home where they could rest and enjoy themselves. He therefore thought that the concession which had been made in this matter ought to be accepted, and in this way much of the evil complained of would be got rid of. Looking at the information they had received from Ireland, he should rather walkout of the House than vote against the Resolution. Had it been, however, proposed for England he would have given to the Motion a decided negative, the more so as he remembered that when similar legislation was applied to London it led to riot and destruction of property, and the Act had to be repealed. He believed the Government proposed to deal with the question fairly and promptly, and that the concession they had offered to the party who promoted it was at the same time both right and the most reasonable that could be given on the subject.
said, with regard to what had been said by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hermon), who had expressed great fear of the evil result to the comforts of the people if they closed public-houses on Sunday, he could assure him, and he assured the House, their great motive in that Resolution was to promote the happiness and comfort of the family fireside, and to increase and secure those home comforts at present too often endangered by the absence of the father of the family, squandering his money which he should keep for those comforts in the public-house. If they closed the public-houses first, the people would see that the attractions there were not such as to give comfort. The hon. Member had told them that the people who frequented public-houses on Sunday were a large number of the working men, and they represented the general opinions of the class. No doubt, if people did not go to the public-house on Sunday, it would not be necessary to come there that night in order to obtain an enactment to prevent them from doing so. But what they did was not what they hoped to do, or what they ought to do. When they wished to test the feelings and desires of the country, they adopted the best means to ascertain the opinions of both parties. They had taken their decision, and they asked the House to grant them their claim. Why was not a similar form of Petition to Parliament adopted by those who challenged that opinion—that large number of people who frequented public-houses on Sundays? Why, when the house-to-house canvass went round, did they not come forward and express their opinions and take advantage of that high privilege they all enjoyed of petitioning Parliament? But one-tenth out of a population of 80,000 took that method; 69,000 out of 80,000 came forward and wished to have the Sunday liquor trade abolished. He asked hon. Members to which of those expressions of opinion they ought to give most accordance. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton) had spoken of the sort of public pic-nic that would be carried on if public-houses were closed. He had told them of people going out in waggonettes—a vehicle not much known in Ireland—with a supply of beer in barrels—an article still less known in that country—and having a general jollification. He thought the hon. Member in that sketch was rather telling them of his past experience of Lancashire, than predicting what would follow in Ireland. It was certain that Sunday drinking was not the fixed habit of the people of Ireland. Let him impress upon hon. Members to whom the people of Ireland had been represented as being very fond of their liquors and attached to their native whiskey, the Irish were not habitual drinking people at all. When temptation came in their way they drank, not otherwise. The Irish peasant, in many parts of Ireland, did not drink at all. Unlike the English peasant in the same position, he would not dream of drinking something every day; but when temptation fell in his way he succumbed to the temptation and got drunk; but he was not a habitual drunkard. Most of the people in the agricultural districts of Ireland were as sober as they could be. It was only upon such occasions as going to market or visiting the towns that temptation fell in their way. On Sunday after morning worship they had little or nothing else to do; and, after loitering about, what was more natural than that they should go to the public-house? and then, unfortunately, they drank away their wages and their wits. If this temptation was removed, from no one would Parliament have more hearty thanks than than from these people themselves. It was not only what was spent on Sundays, though that made a considerable difference in the wages; there generally followed a fine at the petty sessions. The wage of the Irish labourer left little to spare to dress and rear his children; and justice to the families was enough to call for the suppression of the Sunday drinking. Something had been said of coercive legislation; but there was this difference between the coercion law of last year and the present. In the first, the people did not want it; but here they asked for the coercion law. They had heard all sorts of prophecies and evil forebodings of what would happen if the Act to close the public-houses on Sunday became law in Ireland. What would happen had been told them in a very clever manner. But clever as these conjectures might be, he must with all respect give more weight to experience. They had experience in Scotland. There they had their own way in this thing; and could anyone say that we in Ireland should not have our own way. What had been the result in Scotland? The same predictions were made in the last debate as in this debate. That increase of drunkenness and all sorts of evils would follow. The actual figures showed them that the consumption of whiskey was immensely less than before the Act was in operation, and that the arrests had been also immensely less. But there was a stronger proof than that in the fact that every Scotch Member voted for them to give this to Ireland. He had the greatest possible respect for their Scotch fellow-subjects, and he did not believe that the Scotch would hold with the thing, if it had turned out to work badly. The Scotch were a shrewd, practical people, and would they have submitted to live for 20 years or more under a law, if they found a deplorable result? It was puerile and absurd to suppose they would. They knew enough of the Scotch to be sure that if they had, they would have got rid of the Act long ago. Nor had they been without some experience in Ireland of Sunday closing. It had been tried to some extent in that part of the country in which he resided. Under a voluntary system they had had Sunday closing for20 years, and he thought that was a sufficiently long time for a test. During that time the merits and demerits of the system would surely come to the surface. If any of the prognostications referred to were to come about they would have heard of them in 20 years. The magistrates of the county had, however, heard nothing of the increase of drunkenness, or rioting, or other evils. The system introduced into Wexford was a voluntary one, and it was introduced by the late venerable Bishop. Struck by the miserable scenes of Sunday drinking, and after some discussion in his diocese, he appealed to the publicans to abstain from selling liquors for that one day. He was supported not only by Catholics, but by Protestants of all classes in the diocese, and the public-houses were closed, and with the best results, for, in 1872, some 14 years after the Sunday closing had been established, the venerable Prelate said that in all cases of drunkenness and disorder there had been a marked diminution. Besides the testimony of that good and holy man he would give that of another witness, whose name would command the esteem and respect of every hon. Member of the House—the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, his Grace the Duke of Abercorn. In the autumn of 1874 there was a meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland in Wexford. At the annual dinner—and a very capital dinner it was—his Grace attended, and his speech was looked to as an exposition of his views upon events and topics of the day. In the course of that speech he alluded to the Sunday closing and gave his high testimony to the good results in the most emphatic manner. He (Mr. Redmond) quite admitted this voluntary system of closing could not be carried out everywhere. In some places, and especially in large towns, there would always be some unruly and unaccommodating spirits, and here the strong arm of the law was required to enforce the system. But let them remember when they asked them to make that law to extend those benefits to Ireland, they had it in evidence that it was in accordance with the strong feelings and wishes of the people.
said, he was not in favour of the unrestricted sale of liquor; but he stood forward to oppose the Motion on the same ground as he had opposed it before—namely, that it was a Coercion Bill. They had been favoured with a great deal of sentiment and oratory that evening, but they had not heard any statement of facts the accuracy of which they could test. The Committee who examined this subject most fully in the year 1868, when it sat 13 weeks, made certain recommendations which were embodied in the last Licensing Act for Ireland. Many men of great eminence in Ireland were examined before that Committee, whose evidence was distinctly opposed to the principles now advocated by the hon. Member for Derry, and he (Mr. Callan) knew that the opinions then expressed by those gentlemen were retained by at least several of them, who had lately had occasion to refer to the subject. Next to his Eminence Cardinal Cullen stood in the possession of rank and ability the very rev. Canon M'Cabe, the vicar general of the archdiocese of Dublin, and what had that rev. gentleman declared? Why, that from his experience of Dublin, he could not recommend total closing, but he was in favour of a restriction of the hours, and suggested a different time of closing for the different seasons of the year, declaring that it would be a great blessing if the public-houses were closed as far as possible in full daylight, because if a man got drunk at a late hour he went home, and was protected by the darkness of the night, and very few noticed him; but if he were obliged to go out drunk in full, clear daylight, he would be noticed, and would create a scandal among a people who regarded intoxication as a very great vice. The magistrates had not made a formal representation to the Government demanding a change in the liquor law, and no alteration in the hours or increased restrictions had been recommended. He (Mr. Callan) had been rather surprised to find in the course of the debate that not one single hon. Member who had spoken had suggested an earlier hour for closing on Saturday night, for every man who had carefully considered the subject would admit that Sunday drunkenness was chiefly owing to the late hours at which public-houses were allowed to close on Saturday nights. He maintained that concealed Sabbatarianism was at the bottom of the whole of this agitation, and in that view he would refer to the evidence of Mr. Robert Lindsay, of Belfast, who he wished to quote as a specimen of the intemperate language used by temperance advocates. Mr. Lindsay declared that he did not regard spirits as any refreshment at all, and he laid down the extraordinary doctrine that the opening of public-houses on Sunday and the selling of whiskey on Sunday was a gross breach of the Seventh Commandment, and that one might as well violate the command which forbade murder, adultery, and theft, as the command which forbade the selling of these articles on Sundays. Two other testimonies from Belfast gave a striking example of the manner in which the question was treated. One was the testimony of a reverend Professor whose religion, to judge from his speeches, did not seem to include the virtue of charity, for he declared that public-houses were dens of infamy. In connection with that he (Mr. Callan) would refer for a moment to the last lenten pastoral of the Bishop of Down and Connor, in which that Prelate directed the attention of his flock to the increasing use of alcoholic drink; and, speaking of the use of Parliamentary legislation on the subject, he declared that he was not one of those who thought the closing of public-houses was a cure for the evil. Coercive means, the right rev. Prelate went on to state, would never cure, but the will must be acted upon, and our blessed Lord had left us a religion which was not so barren of remedies that physical compulsion need be used as a remedy. With reference to his own town, he (Mr. Callan) had had the honour of presenting a Petition to the House from it shortly before Easter, which was signed by 2,104 persons, 788 being men, and 1,316 being women, and he had made it his business to consult with a borough magistrate of the town on the subject, and that magistrate had written to express, in strong terms, his disapproval of the Bill, and his opinion that it would work very prejudicially, by leading to the substitution of shebeens, in the place of more respectable houses. Nothing, that gentleman went on to say, could be worse than legislation which would induce people to take home bottles of spirits on the Saturday night to be consumed on the Sunday. The result would be deplorable, and would set a very dangerous example to families; and he (the writer of the letter) regarded the Bill as an attempt at vexatious legislation with regard to poor men, who were deprived of clubs, while it would leave the rich man untouched in a country where there was too much class legislation already. He (Mr. Callan) had heard no observations made to-night with reference to the opinions of the Corporation of Dublin, but he had received a letter from Alderman Redmond, who was one of the most respected members of that body, who expressed a strong opinion that a reasonable time ought to be allowed on Sundays to enable the working classes to provide themselves with refreshments. Another instance in which he had to complain of the intemperance of the language indulged in by the advocates of Sunday closing, occurred in the case of a certain Dr. Lees, who spoke at a recent meeting in Dublin, and who for the last 10 years had been connected with the United Kingdom Alliance—[An hon. Member: No, no!]—he was glad to hear that repudiation—had declared that in Parliament hon. Members who opposed the measure were the Representatives of the corruption and of the ignorance of the country—they were men who might have liberty in their tongues, but they had corruption and tyranny in their hearts. That was said of Irish Members in the presence of an Irish Member. As to the proposal of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he (Mr. Callan) had been about to make a proposition as a compromise, which, he believed, would be accepted by the licensed victuallers, although he did not speak on their behalf. The proposition was not exactly to define the hours of closing by a hard-and-fast line, but with reference to the seasons of the year, and to make the hour of closing 7 o'clock in summer and 5 o'clock in winter. It had been openly said that if this measure were carried for Ireland a similar measure would before the lapse of five years be carried for England. Well, if English Members wished to prevent that being done with regard to England, let them now help to prevent it being done with regard to Ireland. He denied that the feeling of the people of Ireland was in favour of the entire closing of public-houses in that country on Sunday. The subject was not alluded to in the addresses of Irish Members to their constituents at the last General Election, excepting in one instance, and he believed that, if there were another General Election to-morrow, it would not be made a test question in a single Irish constituency.
said, he was very much surprised at some of the arguments which had been used by the opponents of the Motion. If not powerful, they were at least singular. One of the chief was that even if public-houses were closed on Sunday, it would not diminish the amount of drink consumed on that day. If so it would not be such a heavy blow to the privilege of the poor man as represented. Another argument was that because some other people could drink on Sunday, the working man ought to have also the opportunity of drinking whiskey on that day. It would also appear that "refreshment" meant exclusively spirits. Tea, cocoa, or coffee were out of the question, and they were also told they must think chiefly of the young men, the bachelors. But in Ireland the young working man generally went out on the Sunday with the young woman whom he intended to make his wife, and was he to treat her to spirits? Was that the way to treat the future mother of his children? The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Murphy) astonished him by saying that there were only four arrests for drunkenness during the day in that city. [An hon. Member: On a Sunday.] He meant on a Sunday; they were talking about Sunday. The inhabitants of Cork must be very different from the people of the North of Ireland, for he could name a small place there with only 400 inhabitants which would produce more cases a day than Cork. He denied that the hon. Members for Cork and Waterford represented Irish feeling on the subject, and he believed he could state that only two Irish Conservative representatives would vote against this Bill. This, however, was not a Party question. It was not a movement to upset the Constitution or divide the countries, but an effort to improve the moral condition of the people of Ireland, and he trusted the House would allow it to be successful.
hoped, although the bonds of Party were strong in that House, he might, on this question, which was not a Party one, appeal in the case of every Conservative, Liberal, or Home Rule Member to the voice of conscience. He trusted he was not violating Parliamentary usage if he appealed upon this question to the conscience of England. He put it to English Members how long they would perform the task that must be odious to conscientious men of coming into that House and, by force of an English majority, trampling down upon a moral question the almost unanimous vote of Ireland. It was in vain for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to disguise from themselves the fact that Ireland spoke that night on this question. They were not unanimous, he admitted, but what Act of Parliament could they pass, if the condition of its passing was that there should not be a single "No" against it? Would they arrest constitutional action in England, and forbid every benevolent effort of legislation until 99 per cent of the English people demanded it? What right had they, then, to put conditions on this country which they did not put upon England? Was an English majority on such a question to overpower nine to one of Irishmen? Let them look the state of things in the face. If the Irish demanded political enfranchisement, English Members might take refuge in what they considered to be the spirit of self-preservation and hold their grasp of political power; but when Ireland came almost unanimously to the Bar of that House, and asked that her voice might be heard, what was the reply? They could not concede this measure to Ireland, because they were not ready to grant it to England. The answer was—What about Scotland? "Oh'" said the Irish Secretary, "the reason was this"—and he must have been sorely pressed for an answer when he resorted to such a one—"it all lies in the Westminster Confession. The Irish believe in the Council of Trent, and the Scotch believe in the Westminster Confession, and we will allow the votes of Scotch Members to stop Sunday drinking in their own country, but we will not allow Irish Members to do the same, because the Irish are followers of the Pope of Rome." The right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland did not put the matter so nakedly; but in Ireland, where they were in the habit of examining matters somewhat closely, that was the interpretation that would be put upon his speech. The right hon. Baronet taunted them with their figures, and gave the House an idea of correct statistics from Dublin Castle. But the Castle statistician had misled the right hon. Baronet upon this subject. They were asked to explain how Dublin, with 60,000 families, gave only 30,000 votes, and the Chief Secretary taunted them with this, forgetting that he gave the families within the Parliamentary boundary, whereas the canvass had been confined to the municipal circuit, which was much narrower; forgetting that in the Census the soldiers, the paupers, the criminals had all been counted, and that these had all been left out in the canvass. The house-to-house canvass of Dublin and the other large cities on this question had been far more exhaustive than the Government supposed. There were no means known to the Constitution of manifesting the popular will, sentiment, or determination upon this question which they had not resorted to. Did they refer to votes in that House? They were told that would not do. Did they quote the opinions of magistrates? Oh, they did not want public-houses themselves. The opinions of the clergy? Oh, they took an exaggerated view of a moral question. The opinions of Poor Law Guardians? Oh, they were elected to look after the rates. The opinions of corporations? Oh, they ought to mind their own business. Would any commentator on the British Constitution tell them what resort was left to them in order to complete their demonstration of the popular will? Was it house-to-house canvass? Manhood suffrage? Womanhood suffrage? Universal suffrage? Public meetings? Within the last year they had resorted to public meetings, and not only house-to-house, but room-to-room canvass. Nothing else remained, unless they were to erect barricades in the streets or break down Hyde Park railings. They were not going to do that. Upon this question he would not indulge in exaggeration. He would endeavour to state as fairly as he could the position of affairs in Ireland on this question. He was not impartial, and made no pretence of being so; but he had no desire to delude himself, and no ambition to deceive the House. The mournful dozen or 15 hon. Members who from time to time voted against them represented pretty fairly the state of affairs in Ireland. Most of them came from two or three large cities, and were to a great extent returned by those connected with the liquor traffic, who were the only section in Ireland that might be trusted to vote by their pockets, irrespective of Party considerations. The right hon. Baronet had taunted them with the fact that the large towns in Ireland returned hon. Members against this movement. It was, in fact, only from two or three great cities in Ireland that antagonism to Sunday closing proceeded. He believed that if the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of Dublin (Sir Arthur Guinness) were persuaded that the feelings of the working men were in favour of the measure, he, too, would give it his support; for there was no man in Ireland who did not do the hon. Baronet the justice of believing that he would not allow personal considerations to influence him in respect of it. The hon. Baronet suggested that an open-air or large public meeting should be held to test the opinion of the working classes. The Lord Mayor of Dublin accordingly convened such a meeting. The opponents of the movement attended as well as the friends, and moved their amendments. They advocated their views and, in the result, were utterly outnumbered. Well, that meeting was held in the daytime, and its opponents suggested that it was not a fair test, because the working men could only attend in the evening, whereupon he (Mr. Sullivan) at once suggested that a night meeting of the working classes should be convened at the Rotunda, if their opponents would bear half the expense. The reply was that the supporters of Sunday closing had plenty of money, and that the poor publicans had very little. He immediately said that they would bear all the expenses, and a night meeting was convened at the Mechanics' Institute, which was largely attended by the working classes; and the question having been fully discussed, none but genuine artizans spoke, and the majority was still greater than it had been at the former meeting. What remained? It was suggested that a great open-air meeting should be held, and over such a meeting, held in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, last Sunday, he had himself presided. He supposed he was asked to preside, because it was known that if there were an attempt to impose tyranny on his fellow-countrymen, he was not likely to be its advocate; and he believed that his humble name was thought to be a guarantee that no blow would be struck at the ordinary liberties of Irishmen. It consisted of from 10,000 to 15,000 persons, of whom probably 2,000 or 3,000 were present from curiosity. What was the verdict of that meeting? It was this, that while 8,000 persons held up their hands in favour of Sunday closing, 150 was the highest estimate that was formed by the newspapers of those who were opposed to it. The working classes of Dublin had therefore expressed their views on this subject in an unequivocal and decided manner. He and his friends had been taunted, because at the last General Election they did not put forward certain test questions. It was the policy of politicians to minimise the points of difference. The question of Sunday closing of public-houses was not a political or election test in Ireland, but those who thought with him could point to such a combination in that House as had never been since Ireland had a representation there. He called upon the Government, if they had any respect for the views of Ireland, to consult to-morrow the vote of that night. In the first Division which had been taken on the question, 8 Irish Members voted against Sunday closing; 27 for it. The question was then carried against Ireland by the votes of English Members. In the next Division there were 42 Irish votes against 10 opposing; in the next, 34 to 10. They would see Irish Members that night of every shade of political opinion—Home Rulers, staunch Conservatives, and genuine Liberals—going into the Lobby in favour of the Resolution of his hon. Friend, and yet they might be told that they did not know what was for the good of their country. The right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland spoke of the evils which he believed would follow from such a measure as they advocated, and which Irishmen of all political complexions and of all religious sentiments earnestly called upon them to pass. But the right hon. Gentleman, towards the end of his speech, forgot all about the evils of which he had spoken, and declared that the restriction of the hours of remaining open had been attended with the best results. It was asked, where were the opinions of the magistrates and Judges? Well, it was for magistrates and Judges to administer the law, and not to advise legislators how they ought to change it; but this he could say, that often and often Judges and magistrates appealed from the Bench to that House to remove that source of temptation from poor people which was the prime source of so much crime, degradation, and misery. But it was said that shebeens would arise and domestic drinking would ensue. A noticeable fact in this discussion was the different ways in which the same thing was spoken of by the opponents of the measure. Obtained in the public-house, drink was refreshment; in the she been it was a source of demoralization. Why should that which was so excellent and wholesome when sold at the tap, be demoralizing when administered across the table at home? "Oh, but the wife and children would be ruined!" Ruined by what? If this were good for the husband, and so innocent that the law must provide it for him conveniently, why was his wife to be debarred from this good thing? And if it was such an exceedingly rare refreshment, why should it be poison to the little boys and girls of the family? He knew of no question debated in that House in which so much unsound logic was talked. Shebeens were places in which the working classes, according to the opponents of the present proposal, were more frequently to be met with than in the gin palaces. If that was so, and the liquor supplied was properly regarded as refreshment, why not increase the number of beer-houses, instead of taking a course that could only lead to an increase in the number of unlicensed drinking places. The experiment of Sunday closing had already been tried in some parts of Ireland, and no results had followed which would in any way justify the gloomy prophecies as to the results likely to follow from the extension of restriction over the whole country. The feeling of Ireland was strong upon the question, especially the religious feeling. As they had recently seen on the part of Protestants, they knew how strong was the feeling on the part of the Catholics; and he could scarcely think that the Government would attempt, with the assistance of English Gentlemen having seats in that House, to stifle the aspirations of the people of Ireland.
thought the experience of England, where with regard to attempts at restricting the hours during which public-houses should be open on Sundays had been so unfavourable, ought to prove the necessity of extreme caution in dealing with the question before the House. In 1854 an Act of Parliament was passed fixing the closing of public-houses from 2.30 p.m. to 6, and again at 10 p.m. That Act, however, was so unpopular that it was repealed after one year, and the closing hours were limited from 3 to 5 and 11 p.m. It had been urged that the Government having suppressed gambling houses should also suppress drinking houses. He could not regard the cases as analogous. Gambling was bad in its every aspect, but drinking was only bad when carried to excess. The evil complained of was on the part of those who consumed liquors to excess, but they had no right to touch the privileges of those who drank in moderation because others proceeded to excess. The duty of the Government was to ascertain the feeling of the people on such a question, and no doubt it was one of the most difficult tasks for a Government to perform. They might guide themselves in this matter by the opinions of the Press, and by the sentiments of individuals. In order to ascertain those sentiments, it had been proposed there should be a house to house visitation, but he objected strongly to this, as a proceeding calculated to interfere with the personal liberty of the people. The Government had offered further to restrict the hours during which public-houses were open on Sundays, and he thought hon. Members opposite would do better to accept this proposal than to support an extreme course that must inevitably result in a re-action.
A large number of hon. Gentlemen who are now in the House were, I think, present during the speech of right the hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I listened to his speech with great regret. It seemed to me that he was one of those unfortunate scholars who had made no advance, and who since last year had, in point of fact, gone considerably backwards. To my mind his speech was laboured to the last degree, and he evidently spoke under great difficulty, as any man must, I think, who has to meet the evidence which has been offered on this question. Now, he had not only to deny or to depreciate that evidence, but he had also to back out, as it were, from what he said last year, and to make a proposal which is at a distance that one cannot calculate from the proposition before the House as compared with that which he apparently with some show of freedom proposed to the House a year ago. What is the evidence that we have? I am astounded—that is the only word I can use—that a Minister, or that any follower of a Minister, however devoted, who has heard the evidence on this question, should deny that it is conclusive and overwhelming. I put it to the oldest Member on this side of the House, or to the oldest on that—to the most experienced Member of Parliament—if he ever heard more conclusive evidence offered to the House of Commons in favour of any great public proposition, that the House was called upon to debate. Magistrates—I forget the number—I will not go into statistics—magistrates have been quoted; and nobody is more willing to take the opinions of the magistrates than the Home Secretary, when those opinions coincide with his own. The magistrates on these occasions are described to us as persons who live amongst the people, who see them continually, and particularly that class of persons among whom the drinking habits of the country have been most inveterate, and who suffer most from the temptations which we seek in some degree to remove. Unfortunately the clergy do not generally act well together. One Church has suspicion of another, and they are too apt to forget the common Christianity which they profess to teach. But on this occasion there is no difference whatsoever. You might have a thousand ministers of what was the Established, and what is now the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland, a thousand ministers of the Catholic Church, and probably an equal number of the Presbyterian Church, and some hundreds of the smaller Churches, and for might see them all in procession, and all in one meeting, and voting unanimously in favour of the proposition now before the House. Then I understand that other persons—Professors, medical men, lawyers, merchants, manufacturers, great employers of labour—come forward also to give their testimony in favour of this measure; and—I do not know how many there be in Ireland, but there have been also Poor Law Guardians to the amount of about 2,000;town councillors to the amount of nearly 600—and town councillors are not nearly so common or so numerous as they are in England; but surely this shows an amount of opinion, a preponderance of evidence, in favour of this proposition such as was never obtained from Scotland or from England in favour of any proposal submitted to this House. And, besides all that, we have had from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), who has made so interesting and convincing a speech to the House, an account of the public meetings held on the subject. There are no public meetings against the proposition. There is no evidence whatsoever that the workmen in Ireland are against it. In point of fact, it is a matter perfectly well known to all those connected with the temperance reformation in this country that there is no class when appealed to in public meeting or in private conversation so anxious that measures should be taken by Parliament to lessen the temptations to drink as the great mass of the working people of this country. And then with regard to Petitions—I do not know the exact number—but I think more than 250,000 signatures have been appended to Petitions. Last of all, we have the grand expression of the opinion of Ireland in the Representatives which she sends to this House. Why, if these Representatives do not represent a class low enough—I mean low enough in the social scale, it is not their fault, but partly the fault of right hon. Gentlemen opposite who opposed the extension and reform of the franchise which was lately proposed to the House. Besides all this evidence, which we had for the most part last year, there is also evidence that the demand is one which continues to grow in strength, and I believe every Irish Member, probably even those who will not vote for this proposition, will admit, if the House to-night should reject this proposition, that next year it, or a Bill, will come before us fortified by even stronger demonstrations on the part of the Irish people. Now, one of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman was a very curious one. He argued that some people had not signed, and that probably a great many people had not been asked, and that probably some people preferred the present system. I do not doubt there are persons in Ireland, a good many, who prefer the present system, and there never has been to my knowledge a system so bad that some people did not prefer to retain it. Absolute unanimity has never been known probably, and to my knowledge it has never before been sought for. Scotland has been referred to in respect of this legislation; but there was no unanimity in Scotland when the Forbes-Mackenzie Act was passed. I believe it was discussed several times in this House, and there were many persons in Scotland who were greatly opposed to it. But there is this great satisfaction, that if there were no unanimity in Scotland in demanding the Bill, there has been, I believe, a most perfect unanimity in Scotland in approving it after they have had experience of its operation. The right hon. Gentleman said, too, that there was a great question of principle involved, that we were dealing with Ireland, that Ireland was a portion of the United Kingdom, and that you could not overlook the fact that this was a principle of some magnitude and importance, and that if you dealt with it at all in Ireland, as a matter of course it might probably cross the Channel and cause some trouble in England as well. But all that is gone by. That is not an argument that is admissible. No man who argues fairly and logically, and with any respect for the intelligence of his audience, will offer an argument like that, because it was, of course, disposed of when a Bill of this kind was adopted for Scotland. Surely if the Imperial Parliament thought it wise to pass such a measure for Scotland, it is not open to a Minister now to say, especially when that measure has been so successful, that there is a difficulty in principle in applying a similar measure to Ireland. Besides, I admit—I do not deny at all—what the right hon. Gentleman said—that in adopting this principle, and in advocating it, its advocates are joining with certain other advocates of other propositions, with those, for instance, who advocate the Permissive Bill. It is quite true there is a certain kind of co-operation amongst all the friends of temperance in the Three Kingdoms. Some are pursuing one plan and some another, and there is much groping in the dark on this question; but we will hope that, by constant discussion out-of-doors and frequent discussion in this House, light may at length break upon us, and redeem the country from the greatest discredit which appears to attach, to it. But then I should say to the right hon. Gentleman that, if the time comes when hon. Members for England, or any considerable number of them, shall be able to offer to Parliament the same evidence on behalf of the same proposition for England which is now offered from Ireland, not one single Session of Parliament would pass before a Bill based on such proposition would become the law of the land. The hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan) delivered a speech which, if my recollection does not deceive me, is the same speech which he delivered last year. I observed that nearly all his quotations were the same, and nearly all his witnesses were the same, and he did not seem to be conscious of the fact that certain police officers, or Bishops, or Judges—I forget, and it does not matter, who were the witnesses—whose evidence was honest and good evidence in the year 1868 as to the state of opinion and as to what was best to be done, may be very bad evidence indeed in the year 1876. He must know that this question has grown within the last eight years, grown continually and enormously, until now it has become that great question to which all the people of Ireland are looking, and which, I venture to say—I might almost say it of the voting of this night—that this House will not disregard. And all those gentlemen, I dare say, whom he quoted as having great fears in regard to this matter, if they were now brought to the Bar of this House, might have opinions entirely different, and in all probability we could enrol them amongst the supporters of this Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, I think, forgot some of the transactions of the Session when he objected to deal with Ireland, unless he were allowed to deal with the United Kingdom. During the present Session he has refused, for instance, to deal with the Irish Franchise Bill. It may be he will next year take a different view of that. He refused also, I think, to deal with the municipal franchise, and he refused also to deal with the question of correcting and improving the Irish registration of voters; and then he objects to this Resolution, on which, no doubt, a Bill would be founded if it were accepted by the House; and it is most unfortunate that the only time when he is able to depart from his principle is when he has a Bill to pass for Ireland which in some degree contracts the liberties of the country. I do not say the Bill passed for Ireland was not necessary; but, if his principle be a good principle, it appears very unfortunate also that in all those things which the Representatives of Ireland most unanimously wish for in this House he refuses to agree with them, but abandons his principle and opposes them in the very things which they do not wish to receive from it. I came to the conclusion during the course of the right hon. Gentleman's speech that he himself was conscious that the stream was too strong for him, and that it would be absolutely impossible for him to resist it; and so it seems, because towards the end of his speech, adopting his plan of last year, he suggested a compromise. Last year I was very much pleased to hear the proposition he made, because I think it was, under the circumstances, not an unstatesman like one. He said—"The difficulty is in the great towns." But the difficulty in Scotland has not been found to be in the great towns at all. It is a very curious fact, and a very interesting fact, that in Scotland, the diminution of the number of persons who have been apprehended for drunkenness on Sunday, as compared with other days of the week, has been greater in Glasgow and in the largest towns than in the smaller towns and in the country districts. Therefore, in Scotland, there is no difficulty in the great towns; and remember that Glasgow has an Irish population equal to half the population of Dublin, and exceeding, I believe, the population of any other city or town in Ireland. Then the compromise which, the right hon. Gentleman offered last year was not an unfair one. I understood him to propose that the Government might agree to the Bill of last Session, or to a similar Bill, if it excluded three or four of the largest towns in Ireland. [Sir Michael Hicks-Beach: A certain number.] A certain number, but I think the certain number was felt by the House to be, after the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, three or four of the largest towns. There are only three or four of what we may call large towns. Well, that was a very fair proposition, because if the Bill had passed for the rest of the country, in all probability— at least, it would have been my sanguine expectation—the results would have been so favourable, that in the course of another year or two those three or four large towns would have asked almost unanimously that they might be placed under the operation of a similar Bill. What does he come to now, however? He says—"We will not have any of your Bill for Sunday closing at all. We are against your Bill for the country, as we were last year against your Bill for the great towns." But he admits the evil of the long hours to which the public-houses are open on Sunday, because he proposes to shorten them, I suppose, by about a little more than one-fourth. I think the House, if it will follow this question as one for the consideration of Parliament, as one on which we are going to vote in a way that some may think unpleasant, will see at once that the proposition is in some degree absurd. It admits that so long as public-houses are open temptations are given to drink. It admits that the people of Ireland desire to have them closed on that day. Yet it says we will refuse to have them closed, we will nibble at this great evil, and will show how much better we can treat this great question than all the cultivated and educated inhabitants in Ireland who have applied with one voice to our wisdom in this matter. I say the course the right hon. Gentleman should have pursued is, that he should have opposed the Resolution, opposed the Bill, and opposed every proposition of the kind. If it be unwise, he should not have interfered at all, unless he was able to accept the proposition as a whole as it stands. I say the case we have submitted to Parliament, is a case that justified the Bill brought in last year, and which will be brought in again, if the House accepts the Resolution now before it. I say the Bill should be founded on this Resolution, and that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman will not meet the case that has been submitted to the House. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Smyth) has asked the House in a solemn manner whether it will listen to the voice of his countrymen. There is great difficulty, no doubt, as we all feel. The right hon. Gentleman the First Minister feels it as keenly maybe as he feels anything. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman feels, as we all feel, that the Government are in somewhat of a difficulty with regard to this matter. The Government, the Ministry, Members of Parliament, are sometimes almost compelled, I am sorry to say, to give pledges and enter on obligations which it is difficult for them either to get rid of, or to submit to. In this case there is a difficulty which I think everybody must see, and which I ought to mention. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the Irish Members and the Irish Sunday Closing Association—at least, he commented in a tone which seemed like objection—coming over to England to speak on this matter. But having convinced everyone in Ireland, what was more natural than that they should come over to their fellow-countrymen in England; for we are your fellow-countrymen yet, and I hope will long continue so—what could be more reasonable than that they should come over and reason in favour of a measure which they thought so valuable for people in their own country. Let these motives prevail upon you to escape from these bonds and pledges. The Irish people plead in no uncertain voice; but say distinctly what you should do on this occasion. Those who resist are not the people of England, but the publicans of England. An hon. Gentleman spoke of the papers that were left at houses. Have we not all received papers from English publicans and their associations? Do they not tell us what we should do in this matter? Have they not told Her Majesty's Ministers in no insignificant voice, what they ought to do in this matter? It has come to this—Government must choose this day whom ye will serve. Will you serve the conspiracy of the vendors of drink in England, or will you obey the will and the eloquent voice of the whole people of Ireland?
said, that as his name was on the back of the Bill which was in the earlier part of the Session introduced by the hon. Member for County Derry (Mr. R. Smyth),he thought it only right, in the present state of the debate, to explain in a few words the opinions which he entertained. He could not but confess that he was greatly disappointed, in common with many other Members of the House, at the tone of the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He thought it contained the strongest possible evidence that the interest the right hon. Baronet was desiring to protect was not the public interest of Ireland, but the publican interest of England, and he for his part, as Member for an Irish constituency, could see in that the greatest motive for giving the best assistance he could to this Resolution, because he thought if anything could discredit the position of the Party which he usually supported in that House, it would be this—that in a question purely Irish, upon which they had the most abundant testimony as to the feelings of the great majority of the people of Ireland—the wishes of the intelligent people of that country—their interests should be subject to the opinions, not of the English people generally, but of the English publicans. If there were any defect in that testimony, he would admit there would be a flaw in their argument. He wished, however, to state one or two facts which had not yet been communicated to the House bearing upon that most important point—namely, whether the House had not before it at the present time, the most ample testimony that all the respectable and intelligent opinion of Ireland was in favour of the Bill which was shadowed in the Resolution. He had been into the Public Petition Office in the House while the debate had been going on, and he thought he was entitled to say to their opponents this, at all events—that if they would not believe the testimony of those who opposed them, they would at least believe the testimony of those who supported them. He found that although the question had been before the House of Commons and the public for so long a period, up to the 5th of May, the persons who petitioned against this Resolution from Ireland were only 3,357 in number, in seven Petitions. Now, their Friends on the other side were not satisfied with the affirmative evidence. He did not know what more affirmative evidence could be tendered than that which had already been alluded to, but what was the negative evidence? The utmost amount of interest and agitation on the part of the publican interest of England and Ireland had produced Petitions with only 3,357 signatures. He hoped his hon. Friends who sat on his side of the House would believe that that was not only a serious question, but that it was a serious Party question. Would they believe him when he said that it involved this—whether the 30 Members who came as Conservative Members from Ireland should at the next Election dwindle clown to 10. ["Oh, oh!"] Would they allow him to say this—that every Irish Conservative Member of that House felt that his position was undermined, that the interests of his constituents and Party were being imperilled by the conduct, in this matter, of the Government he was sent there to support? And would his hon. Friends behind him, who seemed shocked at his views, remember that he was an Irish Member, and that he had a right to represent the views of his constituents? He had been a Member for the city of Derry for nearly four years. That question had been before the public during the whole of that period. He had presented many Petitions in favour of the Resolution. There were 260 licensed houses in the comparatively small city he represented, and during the present Session, and during the last Session of Parliament, he had not had a single application from any of his constituents to oppose it. If they wanted negative evidence as to the state of public opinion upon the question, what could they have better than such a fact as that, considering they had been told by those who opposed this Resolution, that all the steps that had been taken for the purpose of eliciting public opinion were to be taken as nothing, because they could not have a regular poll of the whole population under Government superintendence? It was not his intention to detain the House upon the subject; but he thought it right with reference to the question of public opinion to say this—it had been said over and over again that they had not had the opinion of the working classes. He begged to say that he had looked at several Petitions which he had the honour of presenting and he knew the class of persons who signed them; and so far from being magistrates, clergymen, doctors, solicitors, or persons of a higher degree in life, they for the most part came from the lower middle class and the working class of the community who were the very persons said to be socially and individually affected by the provisions of the Bill; and he should beg to point out that in a paper circulated amongst Members of the House no later than the 18th of April that year, a challenge was given by an association of working men of Dublin to hold a public meeting for the purpose of testing the opinion of the working men on this subject. What he wanted to put to the House was this—that they on that side of the House who came from Ireland—he believed he was stating it fairly and truly—would be found almost universally voting in favour of the Bill, except the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Taylor) who was Member for Dublin County, and who was also a Member of the Government, and his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland. He feared he might also say—and he should lament it as a deep loss—the noble Viscount the Member for Enniskillen (Viscount Crichton), whose position in that House had been changed since the last Session of Parliament. Had they not the fact that the almost unanimous opinion of the Irish Members on the Conservative side was in favour of the Bill, and that a large majority of those from Ireland on the other side were also in favour of it? That was the supplement, or in fact the apex, of all that great mass of evidence they had had that the intelligent public opinion of Ireland was in favour of the Bill. Well, then, what remained? This remained. There was one thread which they found throughout the whole speech of the Chief Secretary—"If you do this for Ireland, you will be bound to do it for England." Well, he was not prepared to say that he would subordinate the great social and moral interests of Ireland upon that subject, and place them under the heels of the British publican. He protested that there never was a greater slander—though perhaps the evidence of that night might suggest it to the mind—than to say that the Conservative Party in 1874 came into power by the votes of English publicans. But if the social and moral interests—if the social and moral elevation of the Irish people were again to be sacrificed—last year, it was by talking out the Bill—to-night, by voting against the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Ireland, of all classes—if that was to be the way in which Irish interests and Irish moral and social elevation were to be treated, then would they give the best and the most convincing proof that the great Conservative Party in this country did not stand upon its high and noble traditions, upon the work that it had accomplished for the people of the country, but that its Leaders were prepared to stand upon the beer barrel as the representatives of the publicans.
said, he intended to vote against the Motion, which had been supported that night by a greater number of fallacies than he had ever heard in any previous discussion. He had heard nothing in its favour which he had not heard when the question was before the House three years ago. Much had been said about the working men of Dublin being in favour of this Bill. He knew the working men of Dublin well, and he was familiar with their views upon this question. Many of them told him that they never entered a public-house themselves, they were aware of the evils of intemperance, and were most desirous of promoting habits of temperance; but they said what they feared was, that if public-houses were entirely closed on Sundays, it would make temperance unpopular, and create hostility against the law which deprived the working classes of the means of procuring needful refreshment. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had, as a proof that the working classes of Dublin were in favour of the Resolution, told them that he had presided at a public meeting in the Phœnix Park so lately as last Sunday, and that there were 15,000 persons present. Well, Sunday was a day when people were at liberty, and the announcement that the hon. Member for Louth would be present and address the meeting with his well-known eloquence was quite enough to attract a large assemblage. He should not have been surprised to hear that 50,000 persons were present; but that was no proof that all who were present approved of the movement or of the resolution which was submitted to the meeting, even though there were few women or children present at it. Much had been made of the fact that there had been no Petitions against the Motion of the hon. Member for Derry. He thought that fact did credit to the publicans in Ireland. The trade possessed a most perfect organization. They had at command large funds, and by their social and individual capacity could have influenced teachers of Sunday schools as others had influenced them, but they preferred to let the question stand upon its own merits so far as they were concerned, and to trust to the independence and judgment of the Legislature. On the other hand, the Sunday Closing Association were equally well situated, and had made extensive use of the influence it possessed in obtaining the signatures of young ladies and children in Sunday schools and all those whom a minister of religion could induce to sign a Petition. With respect to the working men, he was prepared to say that it was a delusion to suppose that they were in favour of this movement. They looked upon it with great contempt. They said it was promoted by people who never entered a public-house for refreshment themselves, who never had a glass of wine in their own houses, or gave their servants a glass of beer. As to the closing of public-houses altogether, that would not prevent people from getting drunk on Sundays. A police Return which he held in his hand showed that on Sundays, before the public-houses were opened, the normous number of 1,040 drunken persons were arrested by the police, and there was little doubt that they had obtained their liquor in "shebeens." He also understood that as much as £140 worth of drink had been traced to shebeens on Saturday night and Sunday. As things were, therefore, there was a considerable amount of illicit traffic in liquor, and if the present proposal became law that evil would no doubt be largely increased. One word more. The Irish people were much distracted by politics and by Party questions. He asked the House not to add a new element of discord by pressing forward a question which would add to their division and create great bitterness of feeling.
said, he thought he had observed that the House was anxious to divide, and he rose not for the purpose of delaying the division by any lengthened remarks, but mainly with this object—The speech which was delivered by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland in the early part of the evening was perhaps not heard by many hon. Gentlemen who were now present; and he was anxious, therefore, on behalf of the Government to say in a few words the substance of what the right hon. Gentleman had stated to the House. What his right hon. Friend said really reduced the question at issue to this—The House had now to choose between adopting the abstract Resolution which was proposed by the hon. Member for Londonderry, or to accept the proposal which was made by his right hon. Friend on behalf of the Government—that if they would entrust the matter to the hands of the Government they would in the present Session introduce a Bill for the purpose of limiting the hours of public-houses opening in Ireland on Sundays. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham remarked that the alternative they had before them, if they rejected the proposal upon the present occasion, was that they would have upon some future occasion some Motion or Bill on the same lines brought before them. He did not wish the House to look at the matter in that way. The alternative which was offered, if they rejected the Resolution, was not to wait until it was brought forward again, but at once to accept a proposal of the character mentioned by his right hon. Friend. Now he would ask the House to consider the matter as fairly and dispassionately as they could, and to believe that the Government, in dealing with the question—which was one, by the confession of all who had spoken, of much delicacy and difficulty, were actuated by no other desire than that of doing their duty to the country, and especially to Ireland, which was so much interested. This was not a question of a mere Party character, or one in which they were guided by the influence of the one or the other influential body of persons in the country. They were told, on the one hand, that they were influenced by desire to conciliate the publicans; and, on the other hand, his hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. C. E. Lewis) told them that if they voted in another way they would lose the support of a large number of their Irish friends. They must set one of these considerations against the other. All he could say was that he hoped the House would believe him that they were in the matter endeavouring to act from a principle of duty. They believed they owed their position to the confidence felt generally that they would consult the general interest of the country, and that confidence they were not likely to forfeit upon this question. That it was not a Party question was shown by the fact that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition three years ago opposed a Bill of this kind when he was in the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bright) was a Member, and he opposed it on similar grounds to those which had been urged by the Chief Secretary to-night. They must all have at heart the important object of diminishing intemperance, but they must recollect that although it might be easy to pass abstract Resolutions like that before the House, perhaps easy, too, to pass Acts of Parliament, they had to consider what might be the effect of hasty and imprudent legislation touching the interests and the feelings of a certain portion of the community. They had been told that there had not been any Petitions presented against the proposals embodied in the Resolution, but that was not any evidence on which the House could rely, because some years ago, when those Acts were passed which created so much sensation in this country, there were not any Petitions presented to the House against them, and it was not until those Acts were passed, and the people came to see how they were affected by them, that the resistance was offered to them which led to the reaction which caused their repeal. If they wished to make progress in the matter, they must take care they did nothing which might create a reaction and so defeat the object which they had at heart. The attention of the Government had been directed to an example of the facility with which a measure like the present might be carried in certain districts in Ireland, and they had found that it was true that through the influence of the ministers of religion and such worthy persons the system of voluntary closing had been adopted, and worked well in Ireland, but that was no reason why the system should be made compulsory elsewhere. The whole difference was this—that if they could persuade the inhabitants of a place to be sober it was easy to obtain their concurrence in the closing of the public-houses, but that if they attempted to force that system upon them, they would provoke a resistance which would defeat the very hopes they founded on the success of the voluntary system. It was said that his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary had gone back from the proposal which he made last year, when he suggested that the system might perhaps be adopted in country districts; but it would be recollected that that proposal did not meet with much favour from the supporters of the Resolution. To-night, however, the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly), speaking with great authority, pointed out some of the difficulties which might attend the compulsory mode of dealing with the question—that those difficulties would be found not only in the large towns, but also in the small fishing towns, and he would recommend the hon. Gentleman's arguments to the attention of the House. He would repeat that the proposal which was now made by his right hon. Friend was made in no antagonistic spirit to the Resolution of the hon. Member for Londonderry, but in a spirit of caution, that they might work gradually towards the object they all had in view—namely, the promotion of temperance and sobriety, and not to provoke a reaction against it by interfering with the legitimate comforts of those classes who desired, and he might say required, access to those places. That was the position of Her Majesty's Government, and it was not a question of a simple refusal of the proposal of the hon. Member, or its acceptance; but it was a question whether the House would adopt that proposal, or accept the assurance of the Government that, if the proposal was set aside, they would endeavour, as he had said, in the present Session to pass a Bill for the purpose of limiting the hours.
Sir, I had not intended to take part in this most important and very interesting discussion, but the reference that has been made by my right hon. Friend who has just sat down to the language of the Representative of the late Government on the subject induces me to rise mainly for the purpose of removing a misapprehension to which, I think, his language might possibly give occasion. It is perfectly true that in the year 1873 my noble Friend the Leader of this side of the House did, on the part of the late Government, oppose the Bill which corresponded in general to the object of this Resolution, but he opposed it under circumstances, and he opposed it in language totally different from that which has been held upon the present occasion, and to the circumstances which now prevail, and I will venture to say that if my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland would only now adopt the language then used by my noble Friend the course taken by them would substantially give perfect satisfaction to the promoters of the Resolution. For what was that language. Allow me to say, in the first place, that my noble Friend spoke when not one full year had elapsed from an important alteration in the Irish Licensing Acts, and which had already introduced considerable restrictions into the trade. But I do not dwell upon that. I dwell upon the language of my noble Friend, in stating his general objections to strong restrictive legislation of this kind. I concur in those objections. I think it requires a very strong case to warrant our overlooking them, and the whole question now is whether we have before us that strong case. What did my noble Friend say in two very short passages? He said—
Let us contrast that with the language which we heard to-night from the Chief Secretary for Ireland, language which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been judiciously careful not to repeat. We were told that there was a principle involved in the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Smyth) which the Government felt themselves bound to resist, and that principle was that legislation was about to be adopted in Ireland which might find its way across the Channel into England, and that, therefore, with the Government, it had become a matter of conscience to resist such legislation, entirely forgetful of the fact that if it was easy to cross the Channel, it was far easier to cross the Border, and that legislation of the same kind had already been granted to the people of Scotland which now, on principle, he desires, and is determined to refuse to the people of Ireland. In closing his speech my noble Friend spoke in still fewer words, and he said—"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.''—[3 Hansard, ccxvii. 114.]
At that time, I apprehend I am perfectly correct in saying there had been no manifestation—no general or conclusive manifestation—of feeling in Ireland on this subject. But all the years that have since passed have been years each of which has added to the remarkable indications which have testified a degree of force and a union of sentiment which would be most remarkable, most noteworthy in any country, but are above all noteworthy, in a country like Ireland, which, unhappily, has so long been the victim of sharp feuds and animosities. Sir, what is it that induces my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham to take a great interest in this question? I have not been in the habit of troubling the House at great length in matters of this class, because I own I have felt the immense difficulties which beset us in efforts of well-meant legislation. When we have had to discuss a question of this kind for England we have continually felt when any measure of a strong or decided character was proposed that we were beset by such differences of opinion that we could not count upon obtaining for any strong legislation that amount of public confidence and approval which is absolutely necessary to secure its beneficial operation. But let me call the attention of the House, in seriousness and earnestness of purpose, to the extraordinary state of the evidence in this case. The Chief Secretary for Ireland says there is no distinct indication of the feeling of the people of Ireland. Will he allow me to ask him if in the nature of things there can be any possible test or criterion by which the feeling of the country can be tested which has not been tested, and successfully tested, in relation to the matter? You have had the opinions of every class represented before you. We talk of Petitions; you say they are of little consequence. We talk of meetings; you say they are of little consequence. It is shown that in Dublin and other large towns the people have been visited from house to house, and an overwhelming majority of favourable voices has been obtained, and then an hon. Gentleman of experience in this House is to rise and say—"Whatever you have in the way of indicating public opinion, for Heaven's sake don't talk to me of house to house visitation." But then we have public meetings—do they give satisfaction? How is the remarkable statement of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), to which I listened and the whole House listened with the greatest interest, of proceedings in Dublin, met by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin (Mr. Brooks), who lately spoke and undertook to oppose this. His case—the case of the man who is denying the manifestation of public sentiment—is this, that 8,000 people were at a meeting, and 150 of them in an open public meeting of the labouring classes were opposed to the measure. Well, Sir, I ask, if we are not to speak of popular manifestions of sentiment, what other imaginable form is there for a people to show its opinions, except those varied forms to which I have referred? If rising upwards from the masses of the country we are to speak of its more educated and, as some may think in some respects, more enlightened opinion, we have had that opinion testified to the House in a manner which as far as my experience is concerned is perfectly unexampled. The figures, unequivocal and undisputed, setting forth the number of those belonging to the most important classes in the country, which have been laid before this House are figures such as, for my part, I have never known produced in relation to the discussion of any question before the House. We have the magistrates, representing that description of influence which comes from above, representing in the main the aristocratic element and the landed power of the country. We have municipalities representing the popular feeling of Ireland in those centres where more of political activity prevails; and for fear one might be supposed, when one speaks of political activity, to use the term in a Party sense, I may point to the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. C. Lewis) who, speaking with the same earnestness on this occasion as he has testified on former occasions with regard to this subject, tells us that those who feel with him in Ireland are minded in the same way with respect to this important question as those who are opposed to him, and he menaces his Party with loss of influ- ence and power there in case this measure continues to be opposed. We have then the highest and most conclusive manifestation of all, of public feeling—namely, the votes of a largo majority of the Representatives of Ireland, and finally, let me point to this, that majority not one of homogeneous composition, but largely made up of hon. Gentlemen who sit upon both sides of the House. I am really ashamed to trouble the House upon the matter, but when we remember the distinct and deliberate statement made to-night, that there has been no authentic or unequivocal manifestations of Irish feeling and opinion, I am compelled to revert to these various indications that have been brought before us, perfectly undeniable and unprecedented, I think, in their amount and character, before establishing the contrary position. These manifestations raise a serious question for the consideration of the House—happily, not a Party one. I will make my appeal simply on two points—namely, the interest we feel in the promotion of temperance, or the suppression of intemperance, and what is due to Ireland as one of the great incorporated members of this United Kingdom. With respect to the question of temperance, I have always entertained that general desire which is universal in the House, to make every practicable progress in the work of the repression of mischief, and the encouragement of sober habits, combined with a very great fear of raw and crude theories, and of extravagant and ill-con-considered measures which might lead to reaction. The consequence of this feeling in the House has been that, though we have done something here and something there, it has been but little, and we have almost apparently been undoing with one hand what we have done with the other; and upon the whole such very little progress has been made, as almost fills the mind with despair when we consider how difficult it is in the first place to fix upon what is reasonable in itself, and then be assured that in support of such supposed reasonable proposition there will be an amount of public feeling and approval adequate to secure its success. For once we have got before us a measure of a strong and decisive character as far as it goes, and yet it comes before us authenticated by such extraordinary signs of public desire and approbation, as I have declared to be almost unexampled in former experience. I do not attempt to make my sentiments the measure of other men's minds; but I have felt that when such a measure comes forward so supported in Ireland as this is, the question of supporting it in this House comes really to be a sort of test applied to the reality and sincerity of that general desire to which I have referred. I know not how we are to make out to the satisfaction of the nation our sincerity in this matter if, when we obtain a situation so singularly felicitous as that we possess with respect to the present subject, we allow the opportunity to escape us, and resort to expedients for the sake of avoiding issues, because we have not the courage to grapple with them. Now, certain expedients have been resorted to. There is no necessity to raise up the associations of Party, and I do not wish to raise in detail associations of any kind that can be disagreeable to anyone. At the same time I may be justified in reminding the House, or that portion of it which was present last Session when the Bill was discussed, that it was got rid of, and a division was avoided, by those peculiar means which are much more efficacious than they are ostentatious, which are perfectly well understood by certain experienced and scientific professors in this House, and which, on that occasion, prevented us taking the declaration of the judgment of the House, which at that time it was well known, from very intelligent signs, would have been in favour of the Bill. Well, it is not desirable that those expedients should be resorted to, and my hon. Friend has pursued a wise and sagacious course in so framing his proposal this year as not to expose himself to similar tactics. We have now got offered to us a compromise, which consists of a reduction of hours as opposed to total closing on the Sunday. I wonder if the Chief Secretary really believes that the proposition he has offered, even if it were adopted by a narrow majority in this House, could possibly extinguish the sentiment which prevails in Ireland? It appears to me that, among other things, this proposition comes a great deal too late. The proposal made last year was a much better proposal than that the right hon. Gentleman makes this year; but it was made without any of the indications of a practical intention to carry it into effect. We have now got this question before us, and it is one which will be treated extensively, perhaps, as a test of the sincerity of the professions we continually make of a desire to repress intemperance and to promote sobriety, provided only we can carry the people along with us. In respect to that great bugbear with which we are intimidated—namely, the phantom of a scheme of this kind in crossing the Channel, and bringing about similar legislation in England, I protest against its introduction into this debate. In the first place I think it is far too improbable to warrant either the fears of those who may dislike it, or the hopes of those who may with quite as much reason desire such a consummation. It may be difficult to determine what are the measure of local interest in which each of the three countries has some equitable title to be heard for itself; it may be difficult to determine that question on any general rule; but this principle has been determined for us here in practice beyond all doubt and dispute by the fact that we have adopted it for Scotland; and I say that if, after having adopted it for Scotland, the Members of the Government are to rise in their places and to say—"This is a matter of principle," and to ask the House to join with them in refusing it for Ireland, lest it should enter England, such conduct and such policy become little less than an insult to the people of Ireland, and I, for my part, will be no party either to inflicting such an insult, or to putting into the power of those—few I hope—who may still desire to dissolve the connection of Ireland with this country such an excuse, such an apology, such a useful and valuable pretext, aye, and perhaps something more, as they must necessarily obtain from such language on the part of the Government. Its adoption on the part of the Government is, I am sorry to say, a great calamity, and I am glad it was not adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech, although it was put forward by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. But it would be a very much greater calamity if the same language were to be adopted by the House, or to be incorporated in the acts of the House; and what I do venture to submit to the House is this—that the desire of Ireland being clear and unequivocal, it is one of those desires that if we really admit the people of Ireland to have any title at all to be heard specially and peculiarly upon the regulation of their own affairs, it is one of those desires to which we are reasonably bound to give attention. The very fact that you have given it to Scotland proves it to be one of the cases which may be justly regulated and decided according to local sentiment and feeling; and if after giving it to Scotland you withhold it from Ireland, you lay down the principle of inequality in your dealing between the three countries, the adoption of which principle, in my opinion, makes those who adopt it far more deadly enemies to the union of the two countries both by law and by sentiment than are any of those who recommend the dissolution of the Union as a mere abstract opinion of politics, or may attempt to recommend it to any portion of the United Kingdom, provided only they are unable to support their arguments by clear evidence and demonstration that inequality governs the policy of Parliament in dealing with the respective sections of the United Kingdom."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."—[Ibid. 115–16.]
Sir, I feel that I am specially unfortunate in having to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone); but I think that I should not be performing my duty if I did not resist the Motion of the hon. Member for Londonderry. There is no man who is more anxious for the sobriety of the Irish people than I am. Hon. Members may remember that last year I declared, and I declare the same now—that you cannot make a nation altogether sober, unless you destroy the means by which they get drink. I then told the House that if they wanted the Irish people to be sober—if we had statesmen who would care about making them sober, instead of draining their pockets to meet Army and Navy charges at a moment of profound peace, they might first destroy this liquor traffic, which is unquestionably the curse of the country. The hon. Member for Londonderry tells us that the Judges of Assize in Ireland have in almost every town told the people that all the misfortunes of Ireland are attributable to drunkenness. I acknowledge that, but that is not the question before this House. The question is not the crime, but the cure, and that cannot be effected except in the way that I recommend. You cannot do it by stopping the drinking of liquor for a few hours on Sundays. The hon. Gentleman would allow the people to drink as much as they liked on six days, but on Sundays they must not drink at all. Up to 2 o'clock they cannot get any drink now on Sundays, and they may begin again at 7 and keep on till 9 in the evening. Surely that is limitation enough when people are allowed to drink for six days previously. Why on earth are you to prevent them from having even one glass on a Sunday? Do you make them virtuous by it? I affirm that you do not; but that, on the contrary, you provoke them to drink more. The speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland has pleased me very much. I think his proposition is an excellent one. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham told him that he was a very bad scholar. I do not know whether he is or not. I rather think he is not. The right hon. Gentleman was astounded, I think he said, at something the Chief Secretary had stated. But the right hon. Gentleman is always in extremes, and told the House the other day that on the occasion of visiting a school, he did not know whether to laugh or to cry. For my own part, I am glad the right hon. Gentleman did not cry, because weeping is infectious, and I and other hon. Members might have found ourselves sympathetically blubbering. I, however, will tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham what the Chief Secretary for Ireland did not do. He did not plead the cause of the English women in this House on one occasion, and then turn his coat, and not do it the next. With respect to obtaining whiskey on the Sunday, there can be no mistake whatever that that can be done either in Ireland or Scotland. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) stated that if the people were so fond of she been-houses, why do they not go to them. Is not the hon. Member aware that these places are illegal, and that Her Majesty's subjects could be sent to prison for going to them to obtain drink? A man should not go to illicit houses for whiskey, and if I were a magistrate I would punish anyone who did so for breaking the law. I know the habits of the people of Ireland as well as any man. There is a large number of respectable farmers in Ireland who every Sunday of their lives, after they have performed their religious duties, sit down in the public-houses with their friends to have a glass of beer, or whatever it may be, and to talk about the occurrences of the week or month, and compare notes about stock, the price of corn, and one thing and another. There are hundreds of these farmers in Ireland between 50 and 70 years of age, who have never been known to get drunk. They go to the public-house, take a small quantity of liquor, or a large quantity—it depends altogether upon the state of the man, and what he can carry; a man has a perfect right to drink what he can go away with, he does no harm to the republic or the kingdom by doing so—and after staying an hour or two they go home to their families and sit down with them at their meal. Now, Sir, what will the closing of public-houses on Sundays do to such a man? It is not true to say that the people of Ireland are acquainted with this Resolution. It is not true to say so, The men I speak of are respectable farmers, responsible men, men who love their landlords, and whom their landlords love—men who have been 50 or 60 years upon their farms, against whom no complaint has ever been brought, and whose lives might have been written by a Plutarch. I am perfectly in earnest; I could produce them in twenties in my own immediate neighbourhood. These men are by the Motion to be deprived of their usual glass of liquor on Sunday, and supposing they get it at the she been, and are discovered by the police, they will be brought up before the petty sessions, they will lose their day's labour, perhaps be sent to the Assizes for trial, and they may get a month's imprisonment. When a man who has been so sentenced goes back to his farm, what does he find? That his horse instead of being fat is lean. We say in Ireland—"It is the master's eye that fattens the horse," and that is perfectly true. The firkins in his dairy should be full, but they are empty. What becomes of that man? Why he abandons himself to despair. He says—"I will go into the town. I will pay my landlord no more rent, and I will spend all my money in drink." That will be the effect of this abominable law, brought in by a few "Praise God Barebones Irishmen." English Members have been asked not to take part in this division. If they do not, upon the same principle, they must not take part in the Home Rule debate, for the rule applies equally to the one as the other. I implore English Members not to leave without voting against this Resolution. If you carry this Resolution here to-night, you will have a revolution in Ireland. [Laughter.] I will tell you more—if you do not, you ought.
The House divided:—Ayes 167; Noes 224: Majority 57.
|Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C.||Elliot, Sir G.|
|Allsopp, C.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Allsopp, H.||Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.|
|Ashbury, J. L.||Emlyn, Viscount|
|Assheton, R.||Eslington, Lord|
|Barne, F. St. J. N.||Floyer, J.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Folkestone, Viscount|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Fraser, Sir W. A.|
|Bass, A.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Bates, E.||Gardner, R. Richardson|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.||Goldney, G.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Gordon, W.|
|Bective, Earl of||Greenall, Sir G.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Greene, E.|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Gregory, G. B.|
|Beresford, Colonel M.||Guinness, Sir A.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Hall, A. W.|
|Boord, T. W.||Hamilton, Lord G.|
|Bourke, hon. R.||Hardy, rt. hon. G.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.|
|Bright, R.||Heygate, W. U.|
|Brooks, M.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Brooks, W. C.||Hill, A. S.|
|Brymer, W. E.||Hogg, Sir J. M.|
|Bulwer, J. R.||Holford, J. P. G.|
|Buxton, Sir R. J.||Holker, Sir J.|
|Callan, P.||Holland, Sir H. T.|
|Cave, rt. hon. S.||Holmesdale, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Hood, hon. Captain A. W. A. N.|
|Chaplin, H.||Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.|
|Chapman, J.||Isaac, S.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Johnstone, Sir F.|
|Corbett, Colonel||Johnstone, H.|
|Cordes, T.||Jones, J.|
|Cross, rt. hon. R. A.||Kennard, Colonel|
|Cust, H. C.||Kirk, G. H.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Knowles, T.|
|Deakin, J. H.||Learmonth, A.|
|Denison, C. B.||Lee, Major V.|
|Denison, W. B.||Legard, Sir C.|
|Denison, W. E.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Lindsay, Col. R. L.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Lindsay, Lord|
|Duff, J.||Lloyd, T. E.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Locke, J.|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Lopes, H. C.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Egerton, hon. W.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Scott, M. D.|
|Lowther, J.||Scourfield, Sir J. H.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Marten, A. G.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Mellor, T. W.||Sherriff, A. C.|
|Merewether, C. G.||Smith, W. H.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||Somerset, Lord H. R. C.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Sotheron-Estcourt, G.|
|Muncaster, Lord||Spinks, Mr. Serjeant|
|Murphy, N. D.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Naghten, Lt.-Col.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Starkey, L. R.|
|Newport, Viscount||Starkey, J. P. C.|
|Noel, rt. hon. G. J.||Sykes, C.|
|Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.||Taylor, P. A.|
|O'Gorman, P.||Thornhill, T.|
|O'Keeffe, J.||Thwaites, D.|
|Onslow, D.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|O'Sullivan, W. H.||Tollemache, hon. W. F.|
|Paget, R. H.||Tremayne, J.|
|Pell, A.||Turnor, E.|
|Peploe, Major||Walker, T. E.|
|Phipps, P.||Walsh, hon. A.|
|Powell, W.||Watney, J.|
|Power, R.||Welby-Gregory, Sir W.|
|Raikes, H. C.||Wellesley, Captain|
|Repton, G. W.||Wheelhouse, W. S. J.|
|Rodwell, B. B. H.||Williams, Sir F. M.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Ryder, G. R.||Wroughton, P.|
|Salt, T.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Samuda, J. D'A.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Sanderson, T. K.||TELLERS. Dyke, Sir W. H. Winn, R.|
|Sandford, G. M. W.|
|Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Campbell, C.|
|Adam, rt. hon. W. P.||Campbell, Sir G.|
|Agnew, R. V.||Campbell-Bannerman, H.|
|Alexander, Colonel||Carter, R. M.|
|Allen, W. S.||Cave, T.|
|Anderson, G.||Cavendish, Lord F. C.|
|Anstruther, Sir W.||Cavendish, Lord G.|
|Antrobus, Sir E.||Chadwick, D.|
|Archdale, W. H.||Chaine, J.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Chambers, Sir T.|
|Backhouse, E.||Childers, rt. hon. H.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Cholmeley, Sir H.|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||Clarke, J. C.|
|Beaumont, Major F.||Clifford, C. C.|
|Beresford, G. de la Poer||Close, M. C.|
|Biddulph, M.||Cogan, rt. hon. W. H. F.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Cole, H. T.|
|Birley, H.||Cole, Col. hon. H. A.|
|Blake, T.||Colman, J. J.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Conyngham, Lord F.|
|Brady, J.||Corry, hon. H. W. L.|
|Brassey, T.||Corry, J. P.|
|Briggs, W. E.||Cowan, J.|
|Bright, Jacob||Cowen, J.|
|Bright, rt. hon. J.||Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Bristowe, S. B.||Crawford, J. S.|
|Brocklehurst, W. C.||Cross, J. K.|
|Brogden, A.||Crossley, J.|
|Brown, A. H.||Dalrymple, C.|
|Brown, J. C.||Dalway, M. R.|
|Burrell, Sir P.||Damer, Capt. Dawson-|
|Burt, T.||Davies, D.|
|Davies, E.||Lloyd, M.|
|Dease, E.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Dickson, T. A.||Lubbock, Sir J.|
|Digby, hon. Capt. E.||Macartney, J. W. E.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Macduff, Viscount|
|Dixon, G.||Macgregor, D.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Douglas, Sir G.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Duff, R. W.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Dunbar, J.||Maitland, J.|
|Dundas, J. C.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Edwards, H.||Marling, S. S.|
|Egerton, Adm. hon. F.||Martin, P.|
|Ellice, E.||Meldon, C. H.|
|Esmonde, Sir J.||Middleton, Sir A. E.|
|Evans, T. W.||Milbank, F. A.|
|Ewing, A. O.||Moore, A.|
|Fay, C. J.||Morley, S.|
|Ferguson, R.||Morris, G.|
|Fletcher, I.||Mulholland, J.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Mundella, A. J.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.||Mure, Colonel|
|Foster, W. H.||Nevill, C. W.|
|Gibson, E.||Noel, E.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Nolan, Captain|
|Gordon, Sir A. H.||Norwood, C. M.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||O'Byrne, W. R.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||O'Callaghan, hon. W.|
|Gourley, E. T.||O'Clery, K.|
|Gower, hon. E. F. L.||O'Conor, D. M.|
|Grieve, J. J.||O'Loghlen, rt. hon. Sir C. M.|
|Gurney, rt. hon. R.||O'Neill, hon. E.|
|Hamilton, I. T.||O'Reilly, M.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Parnell, C. S.|
|Hamilton, hon. R. B.||Pateshall, E.|
|Hankey, T.||Pease, J. W.|
|Harcourt, Sir W. V.||Peel, A. W.|
|Harrison, J. F.||Pender, J.|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Pennington, F.|
|Havelock, Sir H.||Playfair, rt. hon. L.|
|Hayter, A. D.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Herschell, F.||Praed, C. T.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Praed, H. B.|
|Hill, T. R,||Price, W. E.|
|Hinchingbrook, Visct.||Ralli, P.|
|Holms, J.||Ramsay, J.|
|Holms, W.||Rashleigh, Sir C.|
|Home, Captain||Redmond, W. A.|
|Howard, hon. C.||Reed, E. J.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Richard, H.|
|Ingram, W. J.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Jackson, Sir H. M.||Rylands, P.|
|James, Sir H.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|James, W. H.||Sheil, E.|
|Jenkins, D. J.||Sherlock, Mr. Serjeant|
|Jenkins, E.||Shirley, S. E.|
|Johnstone, Sir H.||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J.||Smith, A.|
|Kenealy, Dr.||Smith, E.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Stafford, Marquess of|
|Kensington, Lord||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Stanton, A. J.|
|Laverton, A.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Law, rt. hon. H.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Taylor, D.|
|Leeman, G.||Temple, rt. hon. W. Cowper-|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-|
|Leslie, Sir J.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Lewis, C. E.|
|Verner, E. W.||Whitworth, B.|
|Vivian, H. H.||Whitworth, W.|
|Waddy, S. D.||Williams, W.|
|Wallace, Sir R.||Wilson, C.|
|Walter, J.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Ward, M. F.||Yeaman, J.|
|Watkin, Sir E. W.||Young, A. W.|
|Whalley, G. H.||TELLERS. O'Conor Don, The Smyth, R.|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient that the Law which forbids the general sale of Intoxicating Liquors during a portion of Sunday in Ireland should be amended so as to apply to the whole of that day.
Parliament—Privilege—Public Petitions—Irregularity Of Signatures
I rise to ask the indulgence of the House, Sir, whilst I offer an explanation with regard to a matter which is personal to myself. It is perfectly right and justifiable on the part of the hon. Member for Bury to have given the Notice of opposition to the Motion, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan), so as to prevent that Motion coming on at an unreasonable hour of the night, since the Notice involves a wide issue, which ought not to be carelessly treated in an exhausted House. But I have been placed in a very anomalous position. It will be in the recollection of the House that, on the 6th of April, I moved the discharge of the Order for a Petition from Chatham, which bore my name, or on which what purported to be my name was endorsed. The hon. Member for Dundalk then gave Notice, and he had a perfect right to give Notice, of the Motion to inquire into my conduct with respect to that Petition; but the effect of that Notice standing upon the Paper from the 7th of April till the present day, with the exception of one day only, has been that I have been unable to answer Questions, which have been put to me with respect to the appearance of my name as endorsed upon the Petition from Chatham, upon a Petition from Broad stairs, upon a Petition from Avebury, upon a Petition from Kensington, and upon a Petition from Leicester. Three of the Petitions I have mentioned are similar in substance with the Petition from Chatham, and have been discharged. When the Question as to the Petition from Chatham was before the House on the 6th of April, I declared my belief that my name had been improperly endorsed upon that Petition, and the House, upon my Motion, on the ground of Privilege, ordered the discharge of that Petition. On the next day I was asked by the hon. Member for Dundalk, in the debate which arose upon his Motion for the discharge of three other Petitions, whether my name had been, with my authority, attached to the Petition from Broad stairs, to the Petition from Avebury, and to the Petition from Kensington? The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) also put the same question, and I replied that, from want of Notice, I could not answer these questions. Afterwards, on the 10th of April, the hon. Member for Dundalk gave Notice of his intention to question me with regard to the appearance of my name on a similar Petition—the Petition from Leicester. That question was put whilst the Notice for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the circumstances connected with my name having appeared upon the Chatham Petition stood on the Paper for that day. Both Notices were adjourned until the following day, Tuesday, the 11th of April, when you, Sir, ruled that my answering the question which was then put to me by the hon. Member for Dundalk with respect to the Petition from Leicester was irregular. I now, Sir, claim the indulgence of the House while I read a letter from the only person to whom I have ever entrusted authority to endorse my name upon any Petition—namely, my private secretary. Sir, I have been betrayed by my private secretary, who was himself deceived with respect to these Petitions. I expressed my strong opinion that, although not irregular, the allegations in those Petitions were impolitic and imprudent, and I stated to the House that they were such as I had beforehand remonstrated against being inserted in any Petition that I might be asked to present in support of an inquiry as to Monastic and Conventual Institutions. This letter is from the only competent witness who was absent on the 6th and 7th of April when, the questions were first put to me with, respect to the Chatham and the other Petitions. In his absence I could not, for want of information, answer those questions. The letter is addressed to myself, and is as follows:—
"3, Arlington Street, Piccadilly,
"April 25th, 1876.
"Sir,—I beg to inform you that the Petitions from Chatham, Broadstairs, and Leicester came into my hands late in the afternoon of Tuesday, March 28th, just before you were about to present Petitions. I certainly did not give them so much attention as I otherwise should, because I had, by your directions, been in communication with the persons from whom I received them and had their assurance that the recommendation I had sent them by your orders as to the form, according to which these Petitions should be prepared would be attended to. In looking over the Petitions before affixing your name I noticed several of the leading paragraphs to be in accordance with the forms I had by your direction forwarded to the promoters, and I too hastily concluded that the assurance I had received meant that your recommendation had been observed throughout. I extremely regret to find that in this I was deceived. Had I not been pressed for time I should certainly have given as much attention to these Petitions as I have habitually given to others, and I should have called your attention to anything which appeared tome remarkable or objectionable in them. I believe that the Petitions from Avebury and Kensington were with the others I gave you on Tuesday, the 28th, but it is possible that these may have been reserved for presentation till Thursday, the 30th.—I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, "Wm. Hobley.
"C. N. Newdegate, Esq., M.P.,
That letter, Sir, is from the only person who ever had authority from me to attach my name to any Petition. I admit that it was irregular that any one should attach my name to any Petition; but for six or seven years I had employed this person, whenever there has been any large number of Petitions sent to this House for me to present, particularly with reference to the subject of Monastic and Conventuial Institutions, to bring these Petitions to my house, where we have examined them together, and I never knew him before fail to detect any objectionable matter in Petitions, or fail to inform me of it, if I did not see it myself. It is through this person having been deceived by the assurances he received from the promoters of those Petitions, that I, among other things, was betrayed into saying that I did not present the Chatham Petition. I did pre- sent it, but without being aware of its nature; and to this cause is attributable the fact that my name appears as endorsed upon Petitions to the substance of which I had beforehand most strenuously objected."3, Arlington Street, Piccadilly."
said, he had been anxious to afford the hon. Member for North Warwickshire an opportunity for explanation, and, while accepting the explanation, he must say that the hon. Member had only to thank himself for any unpleasantness which had occurred. The hon. Member was entering into the details of the occurrence, when
called him to Order.
gave Notice, that on Monday next he should move for the discharge of the Petition that had been presented from Newark.
wished to know whether any hon. Member had a right to authorize anybody else to sign his name for him in a Petition?
wished to know whether it was not an Order of the House that hon. Members should personally examine Petitions before they presented them?
said, the Order of the House in reference to Petitions was clear. Petitions presented by hon. Members must be signed by themselves; and they were bound to acquaint themselves with the terms of Petitions before presenting them, in order that they might be certain that the language contained in them was guarded and respectful to the House.
Waterford, New Ross, And Wexford Junction Railway (Sale) Bill
On Motion of Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, Bill to enable the Great Southern and Western Railway Company and the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway Company to purchase the Waterford, New Ross, and Wexford Junction Railway from the Public Works Loan Commissioners, and to raise money for such purpose, ordered to be brought in by Mr. William Henry Smith and Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 148.]
House adjourned at One o'clock till Monday next.