I explained the position yesterday evening with regard to this, and I suppose it is unnecessary for me to rehearse it to-day. In the matter of explanation the Minister for Justice made mention of one fact which would leave Dublin people under the impression that we grudged them this 2 to 5 opening on Sundays. I do not. It is such a success in Dublin and such a necessity, as we are human beings in the country just the same, I ask that we get the same facility for opening the public houses. You would think there was no one in the country drinking but the working man. There are a lot of young men who come into the different towns and villages on Sundays seeking amusement. Those chaps generally like a drink. If they do not get it they do not come back again unless there is some other attraction, and there generally is. The Minister boasted that he was giving the same facility in the country as in the town, namely, the 10 o'clock closing. We would like that he would give us the same opportunity now of opening at 2 o'clock on Sundays and closing at 5.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924.—THIRD STAGE (RESUMED).
Would you insist on the shutting at five?
I will observe it as a publican myself, but I am certain it would work out well in the country, and put a stop to shebeening. If they cannot get drink around the village, they will shift out to some house in the country where there are five or six cases of stout and some drops of whiskey, methylated spirit or whatever you like to call it. There is no protection, and the wise and fatherly eye of the publican is not over them there. The publican has got to be an honest man before he gets his licence. I am a sample myself. For that reason I think the Minister for Justice would be very well advised to allow a free vote as on Section 12. I am certain that a lot of members on my righthand side support me. Some of them say they would support me right or wrong.
The Minister, in replying to this amendment yesterday, did not, in my opinion, deal with the question or make any attempt to justify why he, as a Minister for Justice, who is here to deal out justice alike to all citizens, should attempt in a Bill of this kind, to give to Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and the people in the neighbourhood of those cities, a privilege, concession or right, as it is a right when embodied in legislation of this kind, that he was not prepared to extend to others. He made an admission that his Department was not responsible for this anomaly, and that anything that was wrong in the Bill, including the matter under discussion, could be remedied by a Commission or Departmental Committee he was thinking of setting up. I cannot understand why the Minister should say that his Department has no responsibility for this anomaly. His Department, and he as Minister in charge of this Bill, are responsible for remedying anything which may appear as an anomaly, and I take it he is standing over this clause of the Bill on behalf, not only of his Department, but of the government of the party that supports him.
May I ask the Deputy a question that I think would clear matters? Is the Deputy advocating a universal opening on Sunday from 2 to 5, or is he not?
I will develop that argument if the Minister will give me a certain amount of latitude and more time. Dealing with Commissions or Departmental Committees, as one who has witnessed the setting up of many such Commissions or Committees by the Dáil, or by the different Ministers, since I became a member of the Dáil, I have very little faith in the solution of any problem that may be referred to such bodies. Why? Simply because these Commissions or Departmental Committees are agreed to so that some agitation may be got out of the way when it is organised by some particular section of the community. Speaking from memory I will say that only one Minister, the Minister for Justice, has been responsible for giving effect to the findings of a Commission for which he was responsible. That was with regard to the Rent Restrictions Act, and I suppose he was obliged to do it in that case as it was made a necessity to carry on the existing law in such a way as to meet a new situation. I dislike seeing any question affecting the public policy of a Minister referred to a Departmental Committee, as the very name Departmental Committee conveys to me the idea that a body of that kind is overloaded with officials from the different Government Departments. This is a question of public policy, and not a question of administration. That being so, it should be by a Commission appointed by the Minister, with the approval of the Dáil, and not composed of officials who are always under the thumb and at the beck and call of the Minister.
It is well known, and perhaps it is known to the Minister, that there is a move on at present by the temperance organisations. I have been told that signatures have been asked by the temperance societies, asking for a referendum in connection with certain matters concerning the licensing laws of this country. I ask the Minister is that the real reason why he is postponing coming to a definite conclusion on this contentious question, whether licensed houses being open in certain cases according to his proposal should be open at the same time throughout the country. It appears to me if the Minister is waiting for such a referendum on his policy in this matter—and it is a very delicate matter—he is pursuing a policy of safety first.
Which is the Deputy advocating?
I will tell the Minister briefly what I am prepared to advocate. I am prepared to advocate any section in any Bill the effect of which will be that what will affect a very large body of licensed houses will equally apply to all licensed traders, so that all will be dealt with in the same way. On the question of where I stand, I am prepared to vote for any reasonable measure that will do away with the bona fide traffic. If the Minister is prepared to extend to licensed traders in certain areas the right to open from 2 to 5 on Sunday, I will vote for a very large extension of the present bona fide limit, if I am not prepared to vote for its abolition altogether as a way out of the difficulty. I am prepared to vote for the abolition of the limit if the Minister will extend the opening hours on Sunday in the country from 2 to 5, as I believe in that way those in charge of the administration of this Bill will have a greater control over the licensed houses of the country, and we will not have the ridiculous position that we now have of populations being exchanged so that they may get drink after the legal hours. Look at the County Dublin, which the Minister knows better than I do, where any person living in the city can on Sundays, after drinking from 2 till 5, get on a tram, a bus, or a train, and go to several towns outside the Dublin Metropolitan area, and drink as long as he likes, or at any rate until the last tram or train will bring him home. You can take a tram from Dublin to Lucan, a 'bus to Clondalkin and Tallaght, or trains to Howth or Bray, and, after satisfying yourself in the city, you can drink in these places. At the same time the public houses in these places are not open to the people who live there. People from Lucan, Clondalkin and Tallaght can come to Dublin, and between the hours of 2 and 5 can get drink that they cannot get where they live.
I suggest that the Minister for Justice should justify the existence of such an anomalous position and see whether or not at a later stage he is prepared to remedy that evil, as I believe he will admit, as a temperance advocate, that that is an evil and should be wiped out. I have told the Minister, and I hope I have satisfied him, as to what I am prepared to do. I have no brief and do not claim to represent any interest, either individual interests or those of licensed vintners, in this matter. As a matter of fact, as the result of some things which I said on Second Reading, I have received two or three threatening letters warning me, if I did not vote for the Bill as proposed, that in the case of one titled gentleman who claims to have great interest in my constituency, he would see, so far as he was able, that I would be turned out at the next election. Realising that, the Minister will see what a delicate matter this is for me. I would ask him in all fairness to the citizens, to whom he is supposed to deal out justice in a fair and equitable manner, to say how he stands in regard to the opening hours from 2 to 5 on Sundays in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, why he puts a premium on licensed houses in those towns, and why he is not prepared to concede the same rights in other towns.
As the mover of the amendment, on a point of explanation, I desire to say that Deputy Davin has pointed out that he is prepared to swop the hours of 2 to 5 for the bona fide traveller business. That, however, is not the way I look at it. I am not like Lord Birkenhead, saying black and having blue in my mind. I want the hours from 2 to 5 applied, and there is nobody better entitled to a drink, if anybody is entitled, than the bona fide traveller. Deputy Davin, so far as publicans are concerned, is a wolf in sheep's clothing. We want all the hours that we are entitled to. The bona fide traveller is entitled to his drink.
Without any desire to intrude on an interesting domestic quarrel between the proposer and the seconder of this amendment, I want to point out to the Dáil that Deputy Davin's most recent speech on this matter has been rather wide of the amendment which he was supposed to be seconding. The greater portion of his address was devoted to the subject of the existing laws in connection with bona fide travellers. The amendment which stands in his name makes no mention of that but simply proposes an extension throughout the entire State of Sunday opening from 2 to 5 p.m. The Deputy was a little shy of standing definitely over the proposal which is embodied in his own amendment.
I explained yesterday evening, if the Minister will search his memory, that I was supporting the amendment in order to discover the reason why the Minister justifies his own proposal.
That is very interesting, but Deputies are entitled to take it, when a Deputy puts down an amendment embodying a particular proposal, that he really wishes to see that proposal embodied in the Bill. I take it now that the Deputy does not approve of the extension throughout the country of Sunday opening from 2 to 5 p.m., and that he merely wished by putting down this amendment, to draw attention to an inequality which exists——
Whereby in four cities licensed establishments are enabled to open from 2 to 5. The Deputy should really endeavour to make up his mind. He should have put down an amendment embodying his ideas. If he is not in favour of the extension of Sunday opening from 2 till 5 throughout the entire country, and if he objects to the inequality, then logically it would appear that he is in favour of the abolition of the existing facilities in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick, for the consumption of intoxicating liquor on Sundays. If the Deputy has convictions he should endeavour to have the courage of his convictions and put his mind on paper in connection with this matter about which he feels so deeply. I had endeavoured yesterday—it would appear fruitlessly, so far as Deputy Davin is concerned—to state the position of my Department in connection with this matter. I am not, as the Deputy suggests, granting facilities to certain towns in Ireland which are not extended throughout the country. That is something which exists and at the moment I am not prepared to interfere. Neither am I prepared at the moment, as Deputy Daly would wish, to extend those facilities throughout the country. That is not a step which I would be prepared to take lightly, or without much closer examination than my Department has been able to give to the matter so far.
In this quarrel between Deputy Daly and Deputy Davin as to the advisability of the abolition of the bona fide traffic I am rather inclined to back the seconder of the amendment. I think if any extension throughout the country of the facilities at present given in the case of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford were to be considered it would only be in consideration of the complete abolition of the existing bona fide regulations, and it might be worth considering on that basis. Deputies will, however, recognise that there is a difference between the position that exists in certain large towns, well lit and fairly well policed, to the position that exists throughout the country where you have cross-road and wayside house with licences. Facilities might be given in the one case that could not wisely or safely be given in the other. I certainly shrink from the picture that is opened up by the prospect of every licensed establishment in the country being enabled to fling open its doors on Sundays, nominally for three hours but in reality, probably in a great many cases and in a great many places, for very much more than three hours. I am not at all satisfied that that would be in the interests of the people of the country or in the interests of those who profess to feel a grievance by the inequality that exists at the moment.
Deputy Davin tried to give the impression that we were dealing with this matter in vacuo, so to speak, that we were starting from scratch, and that we were proposing that certain facilities be given in four cities of the country, and that these facilities be not extended through other areas. I wish to stress again the fact that that is not so. The existing law contains that inequality. I am not interfering with it under the provisions of this Bill, but equally I am not creating it.
But you are taking responsibility for its continuance.
The Deputy can be as subtle as he wishes. I am not creating. I would like to have considered the questions raised by that particular state of affairs, and many other important questions in connection with the licensing trade, by a committee. This anomaly, or inequality, which has existed for so many years, ought not really to keep the Deputy awake at night if it has to continue for some months. In the meantime we will endeavour to prepare for the Deputy's consideration really wise and sound provisions on this whole question, provisions that perhaps will be wiser and sounder by reason of having been carefully examined.
I think the previous speakers have not quite discriminated regarding the position of bona fide travellers. Bona fide travellers consist of two classes—the genuine bona fide and the non-genuine bona fide traveller. A great number at present belong to the latter class. The cry for temperance is reasonable, and I would heartily endorse it if the effort to promote it is carried out with reason and fairness. I am on the side of the people who preach true temperance. But if I, owing to indigestion, cannot drink, that is no reason why I should prevent everybody else from drinking and cause them indigestion. If we take the country as a whole, the labouring classes are the principal consumers of intoxicating liquors, when they have sufficient money. Neither Deputy Johnson nor our admirable Minister, whom I admire exceedingly for trying to control the consumption of drink, will prevent the labourer from drinking. Under present conditions he is apt to injure his health in qualifying to be a bona fide traveller. The unfortunate man will go through the storms of winter time a distance of three miles to get a drink, and will, perhaps, bring influenza or some other ailment home. He will consume drink in spite of any law, and it is, therefore, better to give it to him under the best circumstances, and to afford him reasonable facilities. If people are too drunk, arrest them, and stop excessive drinking in that way, but do not prevent a man from satisfying his reasonable demands.
Are the gentlemen in the various privileged cities to be considered more sober than others? I have seen instances in hotels where people who can afford it drink more than they ought to do, and are intemperate to a very great extent even on Sundays. The question that really arises, if we look at it from a commonsense point of view, is that the labouring man at present does not earn sufficient to be seriously drunk, owing to the high price of the drink, unless he gets it from somebody who is doing very well. In former days, when porter was sold at 2d. a pint, he could order a gallon of it and walk home on his head, but at present he does not even stagger home on his feet. I honestly think that he likes a pint or two, that is what he takes now where formerly he drank a gallon, and a gallon is excessive, while one or two pints is a fair and reasonable allowance for any working man. After all those who are better off can afford magnificent dishes for their dinner, while the labouring man considers his pint is a reasonable requirement, and we know that he cannot get drunk on that or on a glass or two of ale.
If the law is stringently observed, the publichouses ought to be open on Sundays from 2 to 5. I do not think if that reasonable demand is met it will be followed by any unreasonable consumption of intoxicating liquor. I am connected slightly with the trade, and I think that from 2 to 5 is a reasonable time for the consumption of drink. If you do not grant these hours on Sunday those who want drink will get it elsewhere by becoming bona fide travellers. It is better to afford that facility than to have a man ploughing along three miles of a muddy road to get a drink, and perhaps, as I have said, coming home with influenza which might spread to his wife and children.
I would be glad if we could persuade the Minister, who is always trying to do justice, to agree with our views. The proper thing is to give a man reasonable facilities for drink; if he abuses it arrest him, and arrest the publican if you like if his doors are open after 5 o'clock.
I think we are greatly indebted to Deputy Beamish for his speech. It has been most illuminating, and really explains what many of us have been wondering at for a long time, that is to say, the prosperity of the brewing and distilling industry in this country. We know now that it is based on exact science. Hitherto we have been frequently told that the laws of political economy were immutable and inexorable. You might try to alter them here and there, but they will have their way, and you cannot interfere. Now we find the laws affecting intoxicants are immutable and inexorable. There is a certain number of people in the country, each of whom must have a certain quantity of drink, and no matter what you can do by legislation they will have their drink. The Deputy suggests, to me at any rate, that the industry in question has perceived this scientific fact, and has conducted the organisation of that industry on the assumption that the average man in this country will get a certain quantity of intoxicating liquor. You may legislate if you like, and if you like you may leave legislation aside, but that quantity of drink will be consumed, and there is nothing more to be said. I wonder will the Deputy persuade the Ministers to carry on other Departments of their administration in the same way? For instance, two pints is a reasonable minimum, and I suggest that the Deputy really meant to say an unalterable quantity, to be taken—
On a point of order, I do not think that is fair—
Two pints a day at 9d.
What I wish to say is simply this: I think that the imputation that has been made should not be made against me. I have not made any statement such as is suggested. The argument that our friend Deputy Johnson is using is no doubt a very able one from his point of view, but it is very unfair to say that I have been insinuating what has been suggested.
Is this a point of order?
It is an excellent point of order.
Two pints per day per person, at 9d. each pint, comes to 10/6 per week. There you have the basic item in the week's budget, food, rent and clothing to follow; but you must begin with two pints of stout per day at 9d. per pint.
I never said that.
I hope the Deputy will tackle the Minister for Local Government and Public Health on this point, and insist that in any suggestions he may make in future regarding rates of wages, that of two pints per day shall be the starting point and everything else shall be added on to that.
I notice that when this Bill is being discussed here and spoken to in the interest of the people of the country, it is not representatives of the people of the country directly who talk about it; it is representatives more or less of the trade. We all know Deputy Beamish is connected with the brewing industry, and we know that Deputy Daly is connected with the trade, being the owner of a public house.
He admits it, too.
He is quite honest in that matter, whereas Deputy Beamish is not. All the arguments that certain Deputies have put forward are presumably on behalf of the people of the country, and they are directed in favour of giving facilities to the people of the country to get more drink. If Deputies were quite honest and if they told us the truth, their arguments are directed to giving the people of the country facilities whereby their coffers and dividends would be increased. If they told us that they would be taking us into their confidence.
That is rot.
It is not.
It is awful rot.
Reference has been made to amusements of the country, and we are told that every young man should have facilities not alone for amusement but also for having a drink after or before that amusement. We are also told that if they have not legal facilities for getting the drink they will get it illegally. In other words, what is at the back of the minds of Deputies who speak like that is not the interest of the people of the country. We are told that young men going to coursing matches, as Deputy Daly pointed out, and going to football matches and other things, as other Deputies pointed out, should have facilities for getting a drink. Inducements are being held out to the younger generation so that the youth of the country may be trained to be topers and to acquire a taste for drink. When the youth of the country would have acquired that, the dividends out of the brewery and the public-house would be secure. That is the real meaning behind all this talk. If we had less facilities for our young men in the matter of drink, even in Dublin or any other city, it would be all the better. It would be better if we could prevent them from acquiring the drink habit.
Drink does not make better men or healthier men. It is a pernicious habit that should be stamped out. We all know what takes place at the crossroads public-house in the country. Anybody who lives in the country and who sees what is happening there will agree that it is time some improvement was introduced. We are aware that because law and order was not in operation for the last three or four years, quite a considerable amount of money was spent in the public-house. Look at all the poverty that has been brought upon the people in consequence. Drinking was not so marked a few years ago when there was plenty of money in the country. It is very marked now when there is not half or quarter as much money amongst the people. People cannot get out of the bad habits that they cultivated. Once the drink habit is acquired it is not easy to lose it. I hope that the Minister has not any intention of extending the 2 to 5 o'clock opening facilities to the country. It is doubtful if he ought not to withdraw the facilities from the cities.
On a point of order, in reference to the remarks of the last speaker, does he not ever drink between 2 and 5 on a Sunday evening, or perhaps he does earlier or later? If he does that, why should he not allow other people to do it?
I understood from the discussion of this amendment that if the publichouses were allowed to be open from 2 to 5 on a Sunday it would do away with all the illegalities that prevail. From the amendment I understood that a person would be entitled to get any liquor he required whether or not he resided three miles from a town. Yesterday, speaking against the amendment, the Minister painted a beautiful picture of the Irish character. He spoke of persons leaving a city like Dublin and going out in a motor car, by way of experiment, in order to see how they would feel when intoxicated. He said people in such a condition usually come back a danger to the public at large, their cars going from one side of the road to the other, and that they constituted themselves a danger to the public on the roadway. They might even knock down people.
I quite appreciate the Minister's idea to try and make this country more temperate. I really think from a temperance point of view that it would be much better to have the publichouses open from 2 to 5 on Sundays. It certainly would do away with a very large amount of abuse. When men go for a walk, or on an excursion, or to a hurling or football match, if they enter a publichouse, naturally one drink follows another, and in the afternoon they may find they have too much taken. That would not happen if they could remain at home, because they would not meet so many friends in the publichouse, and naturally there would not be so many friends drinking together.
From the speeches made here it is clear that the worker is not the only person who drinks. If I were not a worker I certainly would have the idea that it was the workers of Ireland who were keeping up the revenue because of the amount of drink they consumed. I am sure every Deputy realises that a man with a wage of 25/- or 30/- a week and four or five in family—not-withstanding what Deputy Johnson has said about 10/6 a week—cannot afford to spend two shillings on liquor. If he does some of the children will want.
Speaking of early closing, Deputies mentioned here that a worker, when he received his wage, usually went into a publichouse and remained there until the publican told him it was time to clear out as the time was up. It was only then, we are told, that he thought of going home to give his wife the remainder of his wages. If that was to happen on Saturday night, surely he would not have a great deal of money to spend on Sunday? I doubt if there is any worker in the Saorstát who spends money in the publichouse without first giving his wife the amount of his wages that he should give her. What he can afford to spend is not much out of the scanty wages he is receiving. Deputy Daly admits—and, personally, I think it is honest of him— that he was pleading his own case.
I did not do that.
I understand when a man stands up to speak about a business he is running himself that naturally he is pleading his own case. I would be quite prepared to support this amendment, as honestly I cannot see why, if we are to give certain facilities to one portion of the community, we should refuse them to the others. I think when laws are made they should be made for the masses and not for the classes. Why give the citizens of Dublin and Cork, Limerick and Waterford, facilities that the people are not to be given in the other towns? Why should the citizens of Dublin and Cork get a privilege that is denied to the other workers of the country? The Minister for Justice used an expression yesterday evening about watching-boys—the crows in the bush, I think he termed them. The Minister for Justice is of the opinion that where there is not a station of the Gárda, and where there happens to be a public-house that there certainly will be abuses. I am sure the Minister knows that if there is a public-house 10 miles from a town, there has to be a Civic Guard barracks built up against it; and the Gárda have nothing else to do but to watch that publican. I say the Gárda watch them too closely. Furthermore, not alone do they watch them too closely, but I think with reference to this matter of Sunday drinking, and the visits by the Gárda that there should be some instructions given to the Gárda that on entering a public-house when they are in civilian dress they should exhibit their badge or something to show that they are Gárda. I have received complaints from publicans in Mullingan, Longford and Athlone of the Gárda visiting their houses on Sunday afternoons, and not being in the uniform of the Gárda. They knock at the door and say "Police on duty." They are admitted. They are not known to the publicans. They do not know whether they are police or not. They have nothing to prove that they are police. They have neither a badge nor a warrant, and before leaving they search the house from ceiling to cellar. Now, if it so happened that these men were not policemen, but that they went in there for the purpose of stealing or robbing, how is the publican to know? I have received information of such things happening. Now, I think the Gárda Síochána should have something to prove that they were Gárda when raiding publicans of that kind who would not know them.
The Deputy is travelling away from the amendment.
I am talking, sir, on the amendment. I understood at first that this amendment, if accepted, would do away with the bona fide traffic. Now I am led to believe by you it will not. But I think I am in order in asking the Minister for Justice to have the Gárda supplied with a badge ——
The Deputy is not in order in discussing the Gárda Síochána under this amendment.
I ask the Minister to reconsider this question, and give the same facilities in the other towns of the Saorstát as are given in Dublin and Cork. If he does that he will find there will be far less abuse in the way of Sunday drinking. I am sure that Deputy Daly, who is a publican and who understands the business at which he has worked for a number of years, knows exactly the position. If the Minister for Justice has seen any people who live in the City of Dublin going out on lorries for the pure purpose of experimenting and ascertaining how they would feel after getting intoxicated outside, well all I can say is that nobody else has seen those people. In the first place it is not necessary for these people to leave Dublin to get drink, for the public houses in the city are open, and I think it is making very little of the citizens of the Saorstát to accuse them of being almost perpetual drunkards.
I want to say very briefly, for the information of the Minister for Justice, who has questioned my views on this matter, that I have very definite views on this particular point. If the Minister insists upon the clause, as it stands, for these four cities, and if the amendment is put to a division I shall be forced to vote for it. I will do so, because I believe that all the citizens are entitled to the same consideration and treatment as are the people of Dublin. If that amendment were carried I would bring in at the next stage of the Bill an amendment for the abolition of the bona fide traffic.
I hope the Minister understands my views on the matter. I do not want to leave him under any delusions on the point. I must say that in this debate I got a good deal of information from the Minister. It was very useful and it gives us some insight into his views. I have also to say that as there is no urgency with regard to this Bill, and as there has been given an indication by the Minister that he will appoint a Commission to consider and make recommendations inside three or four months, I would advise him to postpone the consideration of the further stages of this Bill until the Commission has enabled him to make up his mind as to whether there will be a general extension of the 2 to 5 limit or the complete abolition of the bona fide traffic.
On a point of order I think there is a misunderstanding about this swopping of the 2 to 5 Clause, and I want to clear up that as Deputy Davin has mentioned it. Now, the reason I mentioned this matter at all was when I handed in the amendment there was a clause embodied in the Bill that the bona fide traveller would be prohibited up to 1 o'clock. The Minister for Justice will bear me out in that.
When they are prohibited up to 1 o'clock. I think the people should be allowed from 2 till 5 in order, as Deputy Beamish has put it, that they may not have to travel 3 miles away and carry their birth certificates with them to prove that they are bona fide travellers.
- Richard H. Beamish.
- Seán de Buitleir.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- John Daly.
- Henry J. Finlay.
- Tomás Mac Artúir.
- Alasdair Mac Cába.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
- Patrick McKenna.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Liam O Daimhín.
- Eamon O Dubhghaill.
- Seán O Laidhin.
- Domhnall O Mócháin.
- Tadhg O Murchadha.
- Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).
- Pádraig F. Baxter.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Séamus de Burca.
- John J. Cole.
- John Conlan.
- Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí Dhrisceoil.
- Patrick J. Egan.
- Darrell Figgis.
- John Good.
- John Hennigan.
- William Hewat.
- Connor Hogan.
- Seosamh Mac 'a Bhrighde.
- Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
- Risteard Mac Fheorais.
- Patrick McGilligan.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Eoin Mac Neill.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
- James Sproule Myles.
- John T. Nolan.
- Seán O Bruadair.
- Risteárd O Conaill.
- Tomás O Conaill.
- Partholán O Conchubhair.
- Conchubhair O Conghaile. Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
- Aodh O Cúlacháin.
- Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
- Séamus O Dóláin.
- Peadar O Dubhghaill.
- Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
- Seán O Duinnín.
- Donchadh O Guaire.
- Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
- Aindriú O Láimhín.
- Séamus O Leadain.
- Fionan O Loingsigh.
- Pádraic O Máille.
- Risteárd O Maolchatha.
- Séamus O Murchadha.
- Seán O Suilleabháin.
- Caoimhghin O hUigín.
- Nicholas Wall.
The next amendment, No. 17, will need some change in view of the passing of amendment No. 5.
I beg to move amendment 17 in its altered form:—
In sub-section (2) to delete in lines 33 and 34 the words "Good Friday" and substitute therefor the following words, "nor before the hour of 2 o'clock nor after the hour of 9 o'clock in the evening on Good Friday."
The effect of this amendment will be to leave the arrangement in regard to Good Friday as it used to be, that is to say, that public-houses can open in the afternoon at 2 o'clock and remain open until nine o'clock. The arguments advanced in support of other amendments put down to this Bill have gone over the ground so thoroughly that I do not intend to enter into a discussion of the matter. The arguments that have been advanced in regard to other amendments put down to the Bill apply equally to the one that I have put down. My reason for putting down this amendment is this: that at the present day things are very bad with the average small trader in the country, and in my opinion if this provision in the Bill were to stand unaltered it would make things still worse for him. I believe that the average small trader in the country is hampered enough as it is without making things worse for him. I think that the privilege of allowing him to open for a few hours on Good Friday should be conceded, in view of the fact that the Dáil has already deleted the provision with regard to St. Patrick's Day. That provision was deleted by the Dáil, and hence I think licensed traders should be allowed to open for a few hours on Good Friday. I believe that this Bill, as it stands, and without amendment, is unnecessarily harsh, and in view of the arguments submitted for its amendment in other respects, I suggest that my amendment is a reasonable and proper one.
The Deputy's amendment would mean for country districts an extension of the existing provisions. Under the law as it exists the Good Friday position is, that in cities and towns where the population is over 5,000, there is opening from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and elsewhere from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Deputy asks for a general exclusion, that is to say, a general opening on Good Friday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. The proposal in the Bill is that licensed houses be closed everywhere throughout the day. The provisions regarding Christmas Day, Good Friday and St. Patrick's Day are not so much, strictly speaking, provisions with an eye to public order. They were not inserted from that angle at all, but rather as an attempt to interpret what would be the collective mind or the collective wish of the people of the country concerning matters that are partly religious and partly sentimental. The St. Patrick's Day provision, for instance, was a combination of both factors. I am prepared to leave the question raised by the Deputy's amendment to the vote of the Dáil and, of course, to abide by that verdict. Personally I would have thought that the general feeling of the country would be in favour of the complete closing of licensed establishments throughout the whole of Good Friday, and I inserted that provision in the Bill on that basis; but, if the majority of the representatives of the people here in the Dáil record a different view, that is something that should be taken notice of, and I would be perfectly prepared to leave the question to the decision of a non-Party vote of the Dáil.
I can appreciate the attitude of the Minister on the ground that this is not a matter affecting public order, and that, therefore, he would not ask the support of his Party as representing the opinion of the Government to back him in the proposition contained in the Bill. I am going to add my voice to his and to those who are in favour of closing the whole day on Good Friday, and I hope that as many Deputies will take that view as will constitute a majority and maintain the Bill in this respect as it stands.
Good Friday is a Christian memorial day, and I suppose one might say that in Ireland, more particularly in the twenty-six counties, it is recognised and taken notice of to an extent more than in any other country, perhaps in Europe, perhaps in the world. Anybody who is familiar with Belfast or British towns or cities knows that it is regarded rather as a Bank Holiday. The only recognition of Good Friday in the North is that by law publichouses are restricted to some extent, if not wholly. Otherwise everything goes on as usual. In England it was once a Christian holiday, but it has become in the main a day for football matches. I could understand the desire to keep open the publichouses if it was the intention to keep Good Friday a holiday of the festival kind. That would be quite consistent. I do not think that is the intention, and I think that when the higher mind of the country is thinking of the better side of life, it would be more in keeping with that higher mind, that Good Friday should not be turned into a day of festival, and therefore a day when facilities for drinking should be extended rather than reduced. I think that the proposal of the Bill is more likely to fit in with the wishes of the people when seriously contemplating their religion than any extension of the opening, or even the maintaining of the present hours of opening on Good Friday, and I think the majority of the Dáil will support complete closing on that day.
I move:—In sub-section (2), line 36, to delete the words "to a lodger in the hotel." This is a comparatively minor amendment, which is intended to provide that a man going into the country on Good Friday or Christmas Day shall be entitled, if he has a meal in an hotel, to order a bottle of wine or a glass of beer with his dinner, although he may not be a lodger in the hotel. The Minister has already made a concession that a lodger in a hotel may have intoxicating liquor with a meal. The amendment is intended to extend that, which is a reasonable privilege, to those who may not actually be lodging in the hotel but who have gone away from home for a day's excursion, and it is only intended to apply to those who take a meal; it does not allow any bar trade of any kind whatever. It is merely that a man having a meal may order a bottle of beer, a whiskey and soda, or a bottle of wine, and drink it with his meal. I do not think that a concession of that kind could cause any serious abuse. It has sometimes been argued by temperance reformers that it is difficult to define a "meal," but in practice the Minister has already inserted a definition in the Bill in more than one place, and there is a regulation now in force in London allowing intoxicating liquor to be provided with supper after closing time, and there has really been no difficulty in defining a meal there. The greater difficulty is the difficulty that the Minister has to face, that is, the defining of an "hotel," but I take it that under the provisions of this section an hotel will be a place that has a definite dining-room in which meals are served, and if my amendment is carried intoxicating liquor will only be allowed to be served under the conditions that I have specified. I think it is a reasonable concession to ask. I do not think it will lead to any drunkenness or any abuse.
The amendment which the Deputy has introduced as a very minor amendment would be a very substantial removal from what is aimed at by the sub-section, and that is that you start from the conception that drink shall not be sold at all, and you qualify that to the extent that a person living in an hotel should have the rights and facilities that a person would have living in his own house. You meet that to the extent of saying that at any rate at a meal he ought to be enabled to get drink. The Deputy's amendment opens up a very different vista, and that is of people coming into the hotel for a drink and having a meal for the purpose of complying with the law. The Deputy evidently has no terror of having a mouldy sandwich in every hotel in country towns which would go down to history as "Cooper's Meal," having done service on successive Christmas Days and Good Fridays for every thirsty soul who dropped in for a drink. Inasmuch as the amendment opens up the prospect, I submit the certain prospect, of evasion of a kind that would simply make the law a dead letter, I am opposed to it. There are enough shams and fictions in connection with this whole matter of the licensing trade to make us hesitate to add one more.
It is a reasonable thing to say that persons whose home for all practical purposes is an hotel, at any rate for the time being, should have the rights and the facilities that they would have in their homes, and we have met that claim up to a point. The amendment is simply a wedge whereby a completely different vista is opened up. The thing takes this complexion: two people meet in the street and one says: "Can we get a drink to-day?" The other replies: "Oh, yes, you can, under the law, provided you have a meal." The first says: "Then we will risk the meal," and they go in and order their drink and have a biscuit or a sandwich, or one is before them on a plate. Perhaps it is before them on a plate for a very long time, and the consumption of drink would be out of all proportion to the consumption of food. I have a kind of objection in a personal way to taking responsibility for legislation that simply opens up absurd possibilities of that kind, and I oppose the amendment on those grounds.
The Minister's argument is as mouldy as his sandwich. I have been familiar with it for fifteen years, and in practice it does not work out that way. I believe it did at one time work out in that way in certain saloons in the United States, where, when such regulations were put in force, they employed a celluloid sandwich, but I do not think there is so much altruism on the part of Deputy Daly's clients, the publicans, that they will serve sandwiches gratis in order that people can buy drink. If it will meet the Minister's view I am quite prepared to add after the word “meal,”“which must be consumed before the drink is served.” I am as reluctant as the Minister to open the door to evasion, but there is the genuine case of a man who spends his holiday on Good Friday in going down to Glendalough on a motor bicycle. It is a little unreasonable that that man should not be allowed a limited amount of alcohol. I am quite willing to limit it to one drink with a meal if the Minister will consider that case. It is not an unreasonable or excessive case. If on Report he will promise to take it into consideration or to see if there is any means of meeting that genuine case —it is not excessive or unreasonable—I shall be very glad to withdraw my amendment now. I think there is a certain case to be met there. He has met the case of the lodger in the hotel who apparently by ordering a sufficient number of sandwiches can order as many drinks as he likes. All I ask is that he should meet the case of the man who makes a day's excursion on Good Friday. I do not want to put in the provision of bona fide travellers, but there are people who spend their holiday on Good Friday and it is rather hard that they should be debarred from having refreshment with their meals. I do not wish to see the Act evaded any more than he does. If the Minister would take that into consideration I would be very glad to withdraw the amendment.
The Dáil seems to have got into a rather extraordinary state of mind in regard to this Bill. Deputy Cooper's amendment seems to me to be not unreasonable, if it stood by itself, but the last amendment we had was defeated in an extraordinarily quiet manner. It was not voted on, and as we have not adopted the previous amendment I think it would be entirely illogical for the House to pass Deputy Cooper's amendment. Frankly, if the mover of the last amendment had put it to a vote. I would have a very considerable amount of difficulty in voting one way or another.
Good Friday comes at a time when, in the ordinary way, the weather is not very attractive for these excursions that Deputy Cooper outlines. If it is going to be the law, as it now is, that nobody, workingman or otherwise, can get drink in a publichouse on Good Friday, I think it is not too much to extend that operation to the individual who may wish to evade it by going down the country, if he is well enough off, in his motor car or by train, or at all events going to a place where he can make use of the facilities of hotel accommodation really to get intoxicating liquor. I hope the Dáil understands that there will be a very considerable difference of opinion as to depriving everybody of any right to get drink on Good Friday. From my point of view I have no hesitation in saying that would be no great deprivation. On the other hand, we will have to realise that there will be a great many people who will not agree to that and who will consider that the law in this respect is particularly arbitrary. If it is good law to prevent a man in any part of the country who wants to enjoy a pint of porter or a glass of whiskey from doing so, I certainly think it would be a very bad law to make any differentiation in regard to the man who is able to pay more and add to that privilege by getting any drink he wants in connection with a meal, and in fact perpetuating a system that has been denounced in the Dáil to-day in another direction and which is generally denounced throughout the country. It would be practically another way of extending the bona fide privileges in a direction that would be unjust if it were confined to a limited number of people and refused to the great majority who will not, or cannot, go a distance to get a meal.
In sub-section (3), line 39, to insert after the word "amusement" the words "which is licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor."
I understand this amendment is more fortunate. It refers to the prohibition of admission to theatres, music-halls, or licensed places of amusement, after 9.30. That provision is, I think, wisely inserted in the Bill to prevent people from coming into a theatre for the purpose of drinking. It is quite unreasonable that the provision should apply to places like the Abbey Theatre and the Father Mathew Hall, which do not sell drink. There is no fear of people going in there after hours to get drink, and in places like the Abbey Theatre, where they have sometimes more than one item for the night, people do not go there very often until after 9.30 because they may want to see only the last item on the bill. I think this amendment only asks for a reasonable concession.
I am accepting this with some slight drafting amendments. For instance, I would propose to delete the word "licence" before "place of amusement" and leave out the words "which is" in the Deputy's amendment.
Will you deal with it on Report or now?
On Report, if you like.
Will the Minister bring it in on Report?
Then I withdraw the amendment.
I move to delete sub-section (4). I would agree with the Minister if he proposes to increase the mileage the bona fide has to travel, but I certainly do not see any reason to take away the rights they have as far as hours are concerned. Certainly in my constituency it would militate against many people, such as hotel proprietors, who earn what I may describe as their living during the tourist period. The result of this sub-section would mean that those people would pass into other districts. I do not see any reason for this sub-section, and therefore I move its deletion.
The effect of the Deputy's amendment would be to remove any limitations imposed by the Bill on bona fide traffic. The limitations which the Bill imposes on that particular trade consists of Christmas Day, Good Friday and the period from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Deputy says he would not object to an extension of the mileage for the bona fide traffic. The people who, for the most part, constitute bona fide travellers in Co. Wicklow leave Dublin in motor cars in the forenoon and come back late at night. So the Deputy would be quite safe in that. First of all there are the two days, Christmas Day and Good Friday, and then there is the question of a particular six hours on Sunday morning from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. I find it hard to believe that there is any considerable amount of genuine bona fide travelling between these hours on Sunday morning. There was the view put forward by one Deputy, Deputy Daly, in which few people will agree, and that is that it was a hardship, a tyranny, and a monstrous thing to expect people to walk to Mass in the morning without a drop. That view, I think, is wrong. It is not too much to say that during those five or six hours of Divine Service on Sunday morning there shall be no traffic in alcoholic drink. I am asking the Dáil to agree to that. In so far as the Deputy's amendment seeks to change that and remove the limitation with regard to Good Friday and St. Patrick's Day, I must oppose it.
took the Chair at this stage.
I am quite willing to give the Minister Good Friday and Christmas Day. I only meant it so far as ordinary Sunday trading was concerned. I do not think there is any genuine traffic in the morning. My own experience is that it would be much better if he could put it off until 6 o'clock in the evening.
This is consequential on an amendment of mine which has been defeated and therefore I withdraw it.
I beg to move Amendment 25:—
To add at the end of sub-section (4) the following proviso:—
"Provided that in the case of a person who has travelled ten miles he shall be entitled to purchase or be supplied with intoxicating liquor at any hour."
I am sorry to blame the Deputy for seeking special legislation for his constituency. I am not accepting the amendment. The amendment obviously is designed to suit the particular conditions of a county where the bona fide traffic consists, for the most part, of people who have travelled a considerable distance, 15 or 17 miles. We see no particular case for making any concession in that case.
Before the section is passed I want to ask the Minister to give an assurance that the Bill does not allow, or rather will remedy, the evil which arises, I think, under the existing law, whereby a plea on the part of a publican that persons found on his premises were only getting a treat, exempts him from liability. I think the Minister knows that that has been quite an effective defence, and has enabled very generous-minded publicans to save the lives of their many visitors without risk of punishment. I do not think visitors should have their lives saved by this means, and I do not think publicans should be allowed to ride off with that kind of defence. I want to know whether the Minister has secured himself, or secured the public welfare, against the continuance of that kind of defence. I think there is a defect in this section unless the position is covered by some other section. Where a person goes into a house, even a publichouse, and receives a treat from the publican, as long as he is not actually on the premises where sales are taking place, the publican is not liable to any penalty. I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to that, and to get some assurance from him that he has not overlooked the necessity for amending the law in that respect.
I would undertake to look into the point raised by Deputy Johnson. I am sure he realises the difficulty. The evasions of the law which take place in this way occasionally and successfully depend to a certain extent on the credulity of the magistrate. Practically the alternative is that you should say that a person who has a licence to sell intoxicating liquors must abandon and must agree to forfeit and forego the right to give guests in his house, or friends who may call upon him during the prohibited hours, any intoxicating liquor. If we were satisfied there was wholesale abuse, we really could not feel very apologetic if we were to bring in such a provision. That would not be a very substantial thing to ask, and if, by wholesale abuse, or by very general abuse, it were necessitated, it would be bound to be done without much preamble or apology. I will examine the point.
I am aware that the plea, the utterly hollow and false plea, has been advanced from time to time, when prosecutions were brought for breaches of the law in connection with the sale of drink during prohibited hours: "Oh, this man was a friend of mine, and dropped in and no money passed. It was simply a treat as between myself and him." That kind of plea has been put forward, and put forward at times successfully, with the result that the police prosecution failed. I will see whether there is any suitable provision that could be inserted to meet that case. Failing any such provision, I will see whether the police consider that the abuse exists on a scale which would call for the definite insertion in the Bill of a provision forbidding the licensed persons to treat their friends under the same roof, so to speak, as the licensed establishment.
Will the Minister say, definitely, in view of the confusion that exists over the Act at present in force, that the hours which are laid down in Section I. will apply to licensed establishments, irrespective of the population of towns? Under the 1923 Act it is stated that the hours shall be from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. on six days of the week. Notwithstanding that, the Gárda Síochána are making publicans in towns with populations less than 5,000, close at 9 o'clock on Saturday nights, although there is nothing in the Act to say that they shall close.
I was amazed a few moments ago when I was confronted with the prospect of being prohibited from inviting any friends into my house on Sunday. Under the British laws publicans get that privilege. Deputy Lyons, a short time ago, stated that I was speaking for myself. I am not. I believe I am speaking for the publicans of the Saorstát, who are a most respectable body of men. I hold it is an abuse of publicans to say that they cannot invite their friends in to have a drink. Statistics will prove to the Minister the number of cases that come before the courts in the course of a year, and will show in how many of these such an excuse was put forward. If the Minister finds that such an excuse is the prevailing one and that it is being abused, it will be time to challenge it then. Without any cause whatever, to remove the privilege that the licensed trade of the country hitherto enjoyed is, I think, to cast a slight on the trade in the country.
As you look on me as a kind of advocate for the publicans, I, on their behalf, resent this very much. We should be allowed ordinary citizenship, and we contribute, or at least those whom according to my friend, Deputy Johnson, we might decoy into licensed premises, more to the State than any other body of men. I did not hear anybody suggest that we should come to the rescue of the working people, who are put down as the real boozers of the country, and reduce the price of porter. That would be a step in the right direction, and these people might not then drink as much as they do. I think that that should be our first duty as regards the licensing law. If we reduce the price we might then agree to avoid any divisions such as we are having on this Bill.
I would like to support Deputy Daly in his desire to see that publicans, if they so wish, can have a friend on the premises after closing time. You do not want to make real misers of them, and I am sure the Minister does not strive to make absolute saints of them either. You might as well say that when a publichouse is closed the publican should remain inside and that he should not associate with anybody. It is going too far to prevent a publican having a guest or friend on his own premises after business hours.
I think the arguments put forward by Deputy Daly and Deputy Lyons are unanswerable. Deputy Morrissey asked me to say whether this Bill secures absolute uniformity for the entire country both on ordinary week-days and on Saturdays. The position under the Bill is that throughout the area of jurisdiction of the Free State Government the hours will be from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on ordinary week-days and from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. on Saturdays. There have been references to the action of the Civic Guards under the Act that is in force at the moment, and it would appear that some misunderstanding arose with regard to the position of Saturday night. That Act did not alter the provisions with regard to Saturday night and did not purport to extend the hour to 9.30 in any town where the existing law provided that there should be 9 o'clock closing. The Guards were right and were acting strictly under the law in insisting on 9 p.m. closing in towns of a population under 5,000. I agree that the misunderstanding was understandable, if I may put it that way, that there was some slight ground for confusion on the matter, but at any rate no such confusion can occur in connection with the Bill which we are now considering. It appears clearly on the face of it that those hours will be uniform throughout the entire State, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on ordinary week-days, and from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. on Saturdays.
I move to delete the section. This section gives power to an Inspector or Superintendent of the Civic Guard to apply to the District Court or to the District Justice for an order to close the publichouses in any town on any particular day. I cannot understand why so much power should be given to an Inspector or Superintendent of the Civic Guard.
On a point of order, is this an amendment, strictly speaking, or is it a proposal to delete the section?
It is a direct negative to the section.
Yes, but could not that be decided by a vote on the section?
Am I in order in speaking on it?
I have not much to say on this amendment, but I think it is too much power to give to any one individual to apply to a District Justice and on the signature of that Justice to decide that every publican in that town must close down on any specified day. I think that will cause great hardship. Surely the country is more peaceful now than it was a hundred years ago when the British Act was passed. Surely we have more respect for one another and surely we are not going to cause unnecessary rows or endanger the lives of people. I think that if this power is given to one individual it is more likely to lead to a breach of the peace than if the Inspector applied for that authority. If people who go to a football or hurling match or to horse races cannot get a drink I do not think that they will be on good terms with themselves or anybody else and I think that that will only encourage liquor to be got in another way. I ask the Minister, if he cannot delete the section, to amend it in some way, for instance, to say that at least two Justices should give the authority.
As the amendment is a direct negative I will put the motion.
In line 24 to delete the words "to sales of intoxicating liquor to lodgers or."
The object of this amendment is, either to have it accepted so that there shall be no sales of intoxicating liquor to lodgers, or that we should understand exactly what is intended. I think that the phrase is altogether too loose, at present. "Nothing in this Part of this Act shall be construed to apply to sales of intoxicating liquor to lodgers." If I happen to lodge in the house of Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, and I go to a public house for a drink, I still may be called a lodger, and under this phraseology I think no punishment would be applicable to the publican who broke the law. I take it that is not intended, and that there must be some definition of "lodger" such as "lodger on the premises" or "lodger on the establishment." I want to draw the attention of the Minister to that, and that is my chief purpose in putting forward the amendment.
I have not adverted to the possibility which the Deputy indicates, that a person who is a lodger in an hotel or boarding house in a town might go to a public house and demand to be served under the terms of this section. I will undertake to have it looked into, and possibly a better drafting might be arrived at. I do not know whether the Deputy questions the merits of what the section at any rate purports to allow, namely, that guests in hotels, persons staying in a bona fide way in hotels, may be served with drink there, and served after the ordinary closing hours. That is based on the theory that the hotel is the person's home for the time being, that if he were living in his own home there would be nothing to prevent him having a drink at 10.30 or 11 at night, and, in the absence of any substantial evidence of abuse, we are scarcely entitled to say that a guest in an hotel ought not to be entitled to that liberty. Consequently we have put in that exception. We will take care to see that the terrible possibility which the Deputy suggests will be guarded against.
I do not desire to prevent any person living in an hotel from getting drink in that hotel, even on Christmas Day, but I want to draw attention to the fact that the phraseology would allow a lodger to get drink in any place provided he was a lodger. If the Minister will look into this matter, and make the section water-tight, I would withdraw the amendment.
I will endeavour to make the amendment whiskey-tight.
"In lines 27-29 to delete the words ‘or shall preclude the sale at any time at a railway station of intoxicating liquor on arrival or departure of trains.'"
This amendment is more likely to be contentious than the last. That is to say that "nothing in this part of this Act shall preclude the sale at any time at a railway station of intoxicating liquor on the arrival or departure of trains," so that on Christmas Day or Good Friday, night or morning, or at any time, a refreshment house at a railway station can be open, and apparently to anyone, on the arrival or departure of trains. Any person could go into that refreshment house and get drink any day of the year at any hour of the day or night. I think that is an extension which is not desirable, and I hope that the Minister will agree with the amendment, or failing that that he will take the next amendment, and make certain limitations in the use of railway refreshment rooms. Perhaps it might be well if I discussed the next amendment with this.
Yes, that can be done.
One is connected with the other very closely, and I am assuming that the Minister will not agree to delete these words.
On a point of order, surely if the amendment we are now discussing is carried, the following amendment will be out of order.
I am willing to discuss them separately. I thought it would save the Deputies time to discuss them together.
Deputy Johnson should let amendment 29 be defeated if he wishes to keep in order.
I made some discreet inquiries as to whether there was any abuse in connection with the privilege at railway stations, and there does not seem to be any evidence of abuse, and consequently we do not propose to interfere with the existing position. The Deputy referred to the possibility of all comers being served at these bars at railway stations, regardless of whether they were travelling or intending to travel. The issue was tried in 1903 in the case of Reilly v. Keogh, and the right to supply liquor on the arrival or departure of trains was found not to extend to all comers, but confined to persons arriving at or departing from a station by railroad.
Is the wording in the Act the same as this?
The effect of this is simply to preserve whatever the existing law is. It says: "or shall preclude the sale at any time at a railway station of intoxicating liquor on arrival or departure of trains, or (save as otherwise expressly provided) the sale of intoxicating liquor to bona fide travellers within the meaning of the Licensing (Ireland) Acts, 1833 to 1905.” I am fairly sure that the only effect of that wording would be to leave the existing law in operation governing the question of the sale of drink at railway stations for a period before or after the arrival or departure of trains. I will look into it, and, if that is found not to be the case, I will see that at any rate no extension of the existing law takes place. As I have said, the existing law is governed by that particular case, in which it was decided that the privilege did not extend to all comers but was confined to travellers or intending travellers.
If the Minister will satisfy himself and tell us that there is no loophole from this wording, I am quite satisfied, and with permission I will withdraw the amendment.
If Deputy Johnson is in the habit of taking a drink at a railway station he would know that at the present moment the law is being enforced, and at least at one railway station if you order a drink, even at a time when publichouses are open, the attendants will ask you if you are a traveller by the train and they will get you to show your ticket. I do not think that would be weakened by anything in the Bill. I think Deputy Johnson's next amendment meets the case.
I know from my own experience of the country that people do leave their homes to go to the railway station to meet a train and to get a drink when the train arrives. I know that from my own experience, as a matter of practice if you like, and I think it is fairly common in the country. I believe the wording of this section in its present form leaves the matter open; but the Minister assures me that there is no intention, and he thinks that this phraseology does safeguard the present position and does not widen the opportunities. With that assurance I am quite satisfied, having called attention to the weakness of the present section. If the Minister will look into the matter before the next reading. I will be quite satisfied.
Would it be possible to put a limitation there in regard to the distance the traveller is going? It so happened in a case that came to my knowledge, that a person who wanted to get some drink took a ticket to the nearest railway station, which happened to be only a very short distance away. Thereby that person came under the Act and he qualified for——
What did he qualify for?
The right to get intoxicating liquor. That is a case that ought to be met under such a clause as this, so that in order to qualify what Deputy Cooper has referred to, a traveller would have to travel some reasonable distance and could not defeat the object of the Act by taking a ticket to a station that might be only half a mile or a mile away, and thereby qualify for the drink.
The Deputy may feel that if the object of amendment 30 is not already achieved by the law as it stands I would be prepared to put in something on Report, and I will have the matter considered between this and the Report Stage.
Will the Minister consider the question of distance? We have some suburban railways, as he is aware, coming within the operation of the clause.
I will remember the Deputy's point.
I beg to move: To insert before Section 5 a new section as follows:—
(1) All the provisions of any Act now enforced whereby the sale or exposing for sale of intoxicating liquors or the opening or keeping open of any premises within the Dublin added area for the sale of intoxicating liquors is prohibited during any hours or times on Sunday are hereby repealed and within the said area the said hours or times shall be the hours or times prescribed by the Sale of Liquor on Sunday (Ireland) Act, 1878, as amended, continued and extended by the Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Act, 1906, in respect of the Metropolitan Police District of Dublin Metropolis and the Cities of Cork, Limerick, and Waterford.
(2) In Section 61 of the Dublin Corporation Act, 1900, the words "or alter the provisions of any Act now in force with respect to the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday or the keeping open of any premises for that purpose" shall be and the same are hereby repealed.
(3) The expression "the added area" means the area added to the City of Dublin by the Dublin Corporation Act, 1900, and in the said Act particularly mentioned and described.
This amendment is supposed to do away with an anomaly that exists in Dublin. It refers to an area of the city that stretches from a mile above Glasnevin to a mile east of Dollymount. It is an area stretching about five miles between two points and about a mile back. Under the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900 that area was brought within the Dublin City area, and it was stipulated in that Act, by an amendment introduced as a result of the influence of the Lord Mayor at the time, that the Sunday licensing facilities that existed in the city would be prevented from extending to that area. As to the licensing facilities in Dublin, under an old Act in 1878 it was arranged that there could be opening in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick, and in what people had the temerity to call the town of Belfast; publichouses were opened from 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock. That continued until 1906.
During the passage of the 1906 Act endeavour was made to do away with the anomaly that existed in Clontarf, Glasnevin and Drumcondra and a clause was inserted which it was understood would do that. The Act was passed and the houses were licensed to open on Sundays in Clontarf, Glasnevin and Drumcondra. They enjoyed the same facilities for opening as the other seven-day houses in Dublin. They continued to open until May, 1908, when, not because of the action of any public body or the police, but because of the action of a private prosecutor who detected a flaw in the Bill, an action was brought in the King's Bench Division and a ruling, by a majority, was made, from which Lord Chief Baron Palles dissented, declaring that the clause was faulty, and the licensed premises were closed down on Sundays.
This amendment is intended to remove the anomaly which exists in that area. The position is that for upwards of 50 years in the city, for, no doubt, considered reasons, publichouses have been allowed to open for certain hours in the middle of the day. For, no doubt, considered reasons in the Bill before us, the same facilities are being continued. The actual intent of the 1906 law was that the same facilities should extend to Clontarf, Drumcondra and Glasnevin, but owing to what was simply a flaw in the drafting of the clause that it was intended would establish that, the intent of the law is inoperative. The area concerned is 28.2 per cent. of the municipal area and 10.3 per cent. of the D.M.P. area. It is an area in which the greatest increase in population and the greatest increase in the number of houses built has taken place between the years 1901 and 1911. These are the years for which the particulars are available and those who know the locality are aware that as far as building operations go, since 1911 it was the area in which there has been very great extension of the pure city area.
The particulars with regard to the increase in houses and population in that area are rather striking. As compared with the Dublin municipal area, of which it is a part, and of which it is 28.2 per cent., the increase in population in the years 1901-11 was 60 per cent. of the total increase, and the increase in the number of houses built in the area during that time, as compared with houses built in the municipal area as a whole, was 80 per cent. of the total. Compared with the D.M.P. area as a whole, which extends to Killiney, the increase in population in the area in question was 44.7 per cent. As regards houses, the number built in that area as compared with the D.M.P. area is 41.2 per cent. These figures only run to 1911. Very considerable additions have been made, I am sure, both in regard to population and the number of houses built, since the last census. Admitting that for considered reasons it is right or reasonable that there should be a short opening in the middle of the day for certain licensed houses in the city areas, there is no reason for denying it to those houses in these areas. There are in all fourteen licensed houses affected, and they pay a seven-day licence fee, and have been paying it for some time. They have been paying it on the understanding that the intent of the law was that they should be allowed to open. But owing to faulty draftsmanship they were not permitted to open. I think it is only reasonable when passing this Bill here that we should remove that anomaly.
I suppose there is scarcely a Deputy in the Chamber who has not had brought under his notice from time to time the problem of what is called the "added areas," or, to put it more accurately, the problem of the licence holders resident in the "added areas." That matter has its roots in the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900, by which certain additional areas were taken into the Metropolitan area. Under the terms of that Act—no doubt for sufficient reason—there was an express provision that the licence holders of those areas would not be entitled to the privilege of opening from 2 to 5 o'clock on Sundays. Now there was no oversight there. There was an express advertence to the position of the licence holders of the areas. There was explicit provision that these licence holders would not share the privileges of the publicans in the old Metropolitan area. If it were decided to-morrow to take outlying townships into the Metropolitan area, it might be, in the same way, decided that the privileges of the publicans of the City proper would not extend to the areas newly brought within the Metropolitan area. That seems to have been the mentality in 1900 when the Dublin Corporation Act was being passed. It is true that when the Intoxicating Liquor Act was being passed through the British House of Commons in 1906, a Dublin representative—Mr. John Clancy, I think—endeavoured by an amendment to that Bill, to extend the privilege of the concession to the publicans of the areas that had been brought into the Metropolitan area by the Act of 1900.
He moved an amendment which he hoped, and which those behind him hoped, would have that result. Unfortunately, his draftsmanship, or the draftsmanship of those he consulted in the matter, was deficient, and it was found that the amendment did not achieve the purpose which it aimed at. The matter was tested before the courts. The publicans had opened during those hours on Sunday on the assumption that they were legally entitled to do so, and it was found that they were not entitled to do so under the law. Whether we, at this hour of the day, should consider that there is any obligation on us to correct, so to speak, the faulty draftsmanship of Mr. Clancy is an interesting question, as is also the question whether we should set ourselves to achieve now what Mr. Clancy failed to achieve in the British Parliament in 1906. At any rate, it is a thing that should not be done lightly, and it is a thing that should not be done without full advertence to its reactions and to its equities.
I made very detailed inquiries as to the existing position, and I find that there is scarcely a survivor of the publicans who had been brought within the Metropolitan area by the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900. You are now dealing with new men. You are dealing with people who bought their premises under the existing conditions, after the law had gone against them on the test case which followed the Act of 1906. You are dealing with people who, because of that fact, bought their premises very much cheaper than they would buy them if the 2 to 5 issue had gone in their favour. Whether we ought now, by a stroke of our pen, in a light-hearted, genial, generous way, substantially alter the values of premises in that area, is a very open question, quite apart from the views that we may or may not hold as to the desirability or otherwise of increasing facilities for drinking on Sundays. And remember that it is not merely a question of increasing the value of particular premises. If it were merely that, then in a moment of generosity we might be swept off our feet into such a course. But there is that other aspect of it. You cannot increase the value of premises in that way without to some extent decreasing and depreciating the value of other premises in the neighbourhood—if not in the exact locality, at all events, in the neighbourhood. You are asked to come in now in a haphazard way and make a wipe at this question which was specifically adverted to when the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900 was passed. It was attempted to be effected by a loosely-drafted amendment by Mr. Clancy in 1906, and you are asked to take a step that will have most far-reaching reactions on the value of premises in those added areas, and in the value of other premises that are not in the added areas, but in the immediate confines of the old city boundaries. I suggest that we ought not to do it. I suggest that, quite apart from the question whether we consider it desirable to give out there in that locality increased facilities for the sale and consumption of drink on Sundays, we ought not to adopt this amendment. Ninety-seven per cent. of the owners bought their premises after the law had gone against them, and they bought them cheap on that account. Now, by pathetic circulars and memoranda addressed to Deputies during the last five or six months, they are seeking to get what would be fifty or sixty per cent. improvement in the value of their premises. It would be hard to form an estimate of the exact improvement that this would add in value. Recently a public house in Ballybough Road changed hands for a sum of £16,000, because it happened to be a public house that was entitled to open on the Sunday. If it were not entitled to open on Sunday it would not have fetched that figure, nor anything like that figure, and now by a casual amendment, put up in a desultory way, in the course of the discussion here on Committee, we might take a step that would have the effect perhaps of adding fifty per cent. to the value of certain premises in these added areas and of subtracting twenty-five per cent. from the value of other houses on the confines of the old city boundaries. It ought not to be done.
I am not going at all into the question of whether it is desirable from the social point of view that there should be in those areas, out from the heart of the city, and further out from police headquarters and so on, those facilities for the sale and consumption of drink on Sunday. I do not really base the case against the amendment merely on that ground. I base it on the fact that this question was fully considered and adverted to in 1900 when those areas were being brought into the Metropolitan area, and there was explicit provision that the licensed houses in the areas brought in should not share the conditions in regard to Sunday sale that obtained in the city proper. And we ought not now deliberately and with malice aforethought, so to speak, do what Mr. John Clancy failed to do in the English Parliament in 1906, or what he thought he was doing by his amendment in that Parliament in 1906. I oppose the amendment and I ask the Dáil to reject it.
The Minister would appear to put the case that any amendment that comes up here on this Bill, simply because it can only be discussed for a brief time, must be casual and desultory. I do not think that that is quite the position. Nor do I think he is convincing when he banks upon the great consideration that was given to the matter in 1900 in the passage of the Bill through the British House of Commons. There is quite as much ground for thinking that as much consideration was given to the matter in 1906, and, whatever may have been Mr. Clancy's mistake, the intent and intention of the Parliament that passed the 1906 Act was that these facilities should be extended to these particular areas. I do not know that the Minister would suggest that the whole question of whether houses should open in the city on Sundays is a matter that you can consider based on the consideration with regard to the traders pure and simple, or whether it should be considered from the point of view of the general population. I feel that it is a matter that concerns the general population quite as much as the trader who is there simply for the convenience of, and minstering to, the population. If his main objection to this amendment is that if it was accepted it would change the values as between houses on different sides of the Tolka, I think that is getting away from the point too. You have a definite city area here, and you have certain facilities and, through a flaw, the facilities which it was intended to extend to the growing portion of the city have not been extended to it. Areas which enjoyed these facilities for fifteen or sixteen months are at the present moment deprived of them. The anomaly is one the removal of which I think we are quite justified in considering under this particular Bill.
I had better explain that there is a distinct contrast between what happened in 1900 and what happened in 1906. In 1900 you had this Dublin Corporation Act passed through the British Parliament. One may assume that it was an Act that, in its provisions, was given a good deal of consideration by persons acting on behalf of the municipality. There was in that Act an explicit advertence to the question of the future position of publicans resident in the areas which were to be included, and it was decided that they should not share the privileges which the publicans in the City proper exercised and, presumably enjoyed. What happened? There was there a specific advertence and an explicit prohibition. In 1906 Mr. Clancy did not go before the House of Commons and say: "We think that what you did in 1900 was wrong when you did not allow publicans that you had brought into the Metropolitan area to open from 2 to 5 on Sundays, and I suggest that you ought to reverse your previous decision in that respect." He did not do anything of the kind, but he attempted, in an oblique and furtive way, to secure the object he was aiming at without any explanation to the Commons that he hoped to achieve that object. He brought in an apparently innocent amendment to the Act which he believed would achieve its purpose, but he avoided most carefully any reference to the added areas or to the publicans in the added areas, and his amendment was accepted by the House of Commons. Mr. Clancy came home and told his friends, the publicans, that he believed they were now quite safe under his splendid amendment so cleverly carried through the House of Commons, in opening on Sundays, and they accordingly proceeded to open on Sunday. Certain enthusiastic temperance people got busy. One gentleman brought a test case before the courts, and asked for a decision as to whether Mr. Clancy's amendment achieved the object which was secretly aimed at. The courts decided that the object was not achieved. That is the history.
Now after twenty years—twenty years in which these houses have changed ownership and have changed hands at reduced values, at lower values because the law had gone against them, and because it was beyond question that this 2 to 5 privilege did not and could not extend to them—we are asked by a simple amendment here to add 50 per cent., and possibly more, to the value of these premises, and to detract, to some extent if not to the same extent, from the value of premises out there on the confines of the old city boundaries where there is a 2 to 5 opening legalized. I think we ought not to do that. I think that all this talk and all this writing of circulars about something that Mr. Clancy and the British House of Commons meant to achieve in 1906, and which was not achieved only by a slip, is not quite candid. That is not the true picture. The case of these added areas was not brought before the British House of Commons, and they did not solemnly decide to reverse and cross out the decision that was embodied in the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900. In an oblique and furtive way the amendment was thrown in, in a very innocent way, which some people hoped would achieve that result. It did not achieve that result, and now Deputy Mulcahy, more candidly, of course, than Mr. Clancy in his treatment of the British House of Commons, comes openly to the Dáil and says that we should do now what Mr. Clancy did not do but tried to do in 1906. I think we should not do that. I have gone most carefully into this question. I had deputations from these people, and I had memoranda put in by their lawyers. I have looked into the equities, and I have completely satisfied myself that the equities do not lie towards the acceptance of the Deputy's amendment.
I approach this question from the point of view of a juror, and I intend to give my opinion on the matter after listening to the statements of the case that we have had from both sides. It seems to me, in the first place, that we are not dealing in this Bill with equities. That must be quite plain, because the Bill proposes to enforce structural separation of some houses, but it does not propose to enforce the same kind of thing upon others that have no need for it. Therefore, houses bought and that now require structural separation and houses that have no need of structural separation, are placed on a totally different footing as regards value, so that equity does not come into the question at all as regards this Bill. If it did, there would be no such proposal put forward as the proposal to penalize one particular house on one side of a street and at the same time to let free another house on the other side of the street. It must be obvious that we are not dealing with equities in this Bill. The question of equities has been put forward by the Minister. I submit that the circumstances must have changed very much since 1900. The Bill that in 1900 proposed to take full cognisance of everything, to anticipate everything that was going to take place, and made provision for it, that counted upon what it believed were going to be the conditions that were to exist and continue, has been largely falsified according to the statements of Deputy Mulcahy, because the population in this area has increased to a very large extent, and the housing accommodation there has increased to an abnormal extent compared with other portions of the area. That is a changed circumstance altogether, I think, in relation to that particular area. It appears as if the arguments that were submitted in 1906 must have convinced an assembly elsewhere. That assembly, I suppose, was fairly capable of weighing and understanding the equities, and it must have been convinced that the arguments then put forward were fairly sound.
May I intervene for a moment to say that in 1906 there were no arguments addressed to this particular issue. The object was sought to be achieved in an oblique and furtive way and without any reference to the added areas or to the publicans in the added areas.
That may be. I have not the arguments before me, and I am only approaching the thing dispassionately from what I think to be an independent view of the situation, absolutely unprejudiced by any other consideration. I see that even Chief Baron Palles dissented from the decision of the other Judges who ruled that these publicans were not entitled to this advantage under the 1906 Act. The Chief Baron was himself a Judge whom everyone looked to for light and leading, and one whose decisions were regarded with very great weight, and rightly so, by the whole community. People attached very great importance to his decisions on questions of law, even on occasions when very able Judges disagreed with him. The fact that the Lord Chief Baron dissented from the decision of the other Judges on this question is, in my opinion, a strong argument in favour of the people in these areas. I think it is not wise, even from the point of view of expediency it is unwise, to have partition as between two classes of houses in your own Metropolitan area here. I do not think that there is any necessity for it, and it cannot inflict such terrible hardship if this advantage is conferred on the fourteen houses concerned in the added areas.
I think they ought to be co-ordinated with the others. Such a step should only be regarded as simple fair play. I do not see why you should keep this source of contention alive in your midst, and have different classes of houses in the same Metropolitan area when there is no argument that would justify you in retaining this anomaly, because it is an anomaly undoubtedly. It may be that the houses will become something more valuable. I dare say they will, but if they do it will not seriously depreciate the value of the houses in competition with them. I think the Dáil should, on this occasion, put the whole Metropolitan area into one single line of trading and give the same facilities to all sections. I do not see that any argument, beyond the argument of equity, could reasonably be addressed against this suggestion. It might be a very strict interpretation of equity to say that we could not do this, but I do not think we are dealing so much with equities in this Bill in the circumstances I have referred to.
I rise to repeat more briefly and more loudly what Deputy McGoldrick has said, because I want to get the essential facts. It does not seem to me to matter to the Dáil in the smallest degree what happened in 1900 or 1906. We are dealing with the year 1924. The Minister says that he has assured himself that in equity these people have no claim. I wish to enlarge more on that point, and leave 1900 and 1906, because I cannot see in equity any difference between the public houses in Clontarf and Drumcondra and those in Ballsbridge and Blackrock. They are one continuous area of houses from one end of the Dublin Metropolitan District to the other, and surely the same law prevails in that area. The Minister is concerned with the fact that some publicans will make a profit. There is very little legislation for which we are responsible but means a profit for somebody, and a man who happens to hold a licence in an area where it is decided to build houses under the Housing Act will find his property becoming more valuable. You cannot legislate without making it possible for somebody to get increased profits.
I think in this case the claim that has been made by Deputy Mulcahy that these people have been prevented from making a profit that they might fairly have made in the past, is a reasonable one, and as for the Minister's concern that the public houses in the older areas will suffer he could have relieved that by accepting one or two of the amendments that have been moved, and he can still relieve it by accepting one or two that will be moved in the future.
As the amendment refers to the constituency which I have the honour to represent as a junior member, it is desirable for me to express my views on this matter. In doing so I think it is necessary, more or less, to apologise for the conclusions I have come to. I think the case in favour of the amendment is quite strong. The Metropolitan area was enlarged by taking in the added areas, and to have one law for one portion of it and another for the rest is, to say the least, embarrassing. I endorse all that has been said as far as that aspect of the case is concerned. But one has to consider what the passing of the amendment will mean to the majority of the people concerned, and with apologies to the publicans in those districts I must vote against the amendment. There is no material hardship to the publicans in being left without privileges they have not possessed.
Right through the Bill the tendency has rather been to assume that there are only two parties concerned in this question: on the one side the man who sells the liquor, and on the other the man who consumes it. I say that there are a vast number of people outside these two whose views on this matter have not been voiced here. Assuming that this amendment was passed, the publichouses in Clontarf and Drumcondra could open in the same way as the publichouses in the city. From the point of view of the publicans in these districts that would seem to be a reasonable concession. On the other hand, how will the vast number of people living in Clontarf and Drumcondra view the matter? I say they will view with very grave dissatisfaction the application of this amendment to these districts. I believe that that is so.
The Minister has said that this whole question of opening the publichouses on Sundays requires grave consideration, and I agree. The man who goes into a publichouse for a drink on a Sunday does nobody any harm except perhaps himself, but I do say that the abuse of liquor stretches beyond the man that consumes or sells the article. I say that it is an offence to a neighbourhood to have even one drunken man peregrinating through it on a Sunday. That is an offence that is particularly applicable to the case of bona fide travellers. Everyone from time to time has seen the effect of the abuse of liquor in thoroughfares ordinarily used by the public, particularly down the country, and it is an offence for a man coming or going from his place of worship, or even enjoying the amenities of a Sunday afternoon, to be confronted with young men, who perhaps, through the temptation held out to them, have made themselves objectionable to the community. In some country places—of course this does not refer to this amendment—one would hesitate about going down the only thoroughfare, perhaps, in the place, under certain conditions which from time to time existed, and do exist at present. Therefore, I think that the case ought to be dealt with in the broad way that the Minister for Justice has indicated. Meanwhile, the publicans in the added areas have a grievance because they are not put on the same plane as the publicans within the city. But if there is any wrong, to put it right would, I think, mean an injustice to the people in those neighbourhoods. On those grounds I propose to vote against the amendment, even though I am voting against a responsible body of men in a constituency which I represent.
took the Chair.
It is rather a large question. Many of these questions that arise in connection with this Liquor Bill are large questions, and one can only come to the best decision that one can from one's own knowledge and belief of what is best in the interests of the people as a whole. In my judgment it would not be best for the people as a whole that a retrograde step should be taken in connection with any district, and that while the demand is for decreasing the facilities and temptations that are placed in the way of people who over-indulge they should be extended in any direction. The carrying of this amendment would be an extension of a facility which this Bill is out to curtail. I felt that I was bound to express my opinion on this matter. I would rather have remained silent, but I would not be discharging my obligations if I did not, whether other Deputies agree with me or not, express my opinion that the passing of this amendment would be a retrograde step on the road which the Bill is travelling.
It is rather refreshing to be in the position of having to apologise to Deputy Cooper for too much reference to Acts of the British Parliament. When I spoke of the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1906, I addressed myself to these Acts, because the case was sought to be put up by these people in their propaganda circulars that the British Parliament had intended in 1906 to redress the inequality and that it was merely an oversight—faulty draftsmanship—that had caused the failure to effect that purpose. I was anxious to show that there was no such purpose except in the mind of the mover of the amendment, that in discussing and considering the Act of 1906 the question of the added areas that had been brought into the Metropolitan Area by the Act of 1900 and of the licenced traders within those areas was not specifically adverted to at all and there was no intention on the part of the British Parliament to bring about equality. On the other hand, there was a specific intention in the Act of 1900 to ensure that there would not be equality, and I did think it advisable to point out these things clearly to the Dáil because of the fact that the literature with which we have been served by the people who are anxious this particular amendment should pass seemed to convey a very different impression. My anxiety is this: that we should not now decide, firstly, to increase very substantially the facilities for drink on Sunday in the neighbourhood of Dublin and in an arbitrary and haphazard way take a step that will appreciably dislocate values of premises, but that this question, together with other special problems arising from this drink traffic, might be very well left over for the mature consideration which a committee or commission would be in a position to give it.
There are other special problems in connection with the liquor trade. There is, for instance, the problem, rather special to the City and County of Cork, of the tied houses, and a great many other matters that would require to be gone into and carefully weighed up, with a view to legislation in the future. I would certainly regret very much if the Dáil were simply now, availing of the fact that a Bill bearing on the general question of licensing conditions and hours, is going through the Dáil, to decide to undo the effect of the Act of 1900. At that time, as I say, this problem was given specific consideration and a particular decision was come to, and now after twenty-four or twenty-five years we are asked to reverse engines on that decision. I think we should not do it—certainly not until after the question has been very thoroughly explored and considered. I would very much like that a commission or committee would consider this, together with very many other problems.
It is possible to press the argument of inequality too far. Certain new areas, for administrative convenience, were brought within the Metropolitan district in 1900. The position of the licensed trade was adverted to and a particular decision come to. Now we are told that inequality is bad, that there should be a fair deal for all, and that conditions should be the same for all. Very good. To-morrow or the next day there is a further increase. One hears rumours of a Greater Dublin and there are possibilities of outlying townships being brought within the Metropolitan area—a repetition of what happened 23 or 24 years ago. Now, is it to be equality and a fair deal for all —2 to 5 in Dalkey, Blackrock and Pem-broke?
They already have it.
In that case, that particular argument has gone sky-high, but the others at any rate seem to hold. I would ask that we would be content to leave this matter over as one that should be certainly brought under the attention of any committee considering the licensed trade and its problems and by-problems—that we should not ourselves now, with only the consideration that we have been able to give to it, or that the ordinary Deputy has been able to give to it inside the last half-hour, come to any decision on the issue raised. I see grave objections to the course which the Deputy recommends and I have endeavoured to state them, but I think that the general trend of feeling is not in favour of increased facilities for Sunday drinking. If Deputies like Deputy Cooper and Deputy McGoldrick are not alarmed at any dislocation of values or anything in that way, I fall back on what is after all the important consideration— that in the passing of this amendment we would be acting in a way directly contrary to what I believe the trend of public opinion is on this question of Sunday drinking and the consumption of liquor generally.
In the absence of the statement made by the Minister for Justice, the case made by Deputy Mulcahy seemed fairly strong. From the point of view of the licence holders or the persons who own the publichouses, they can make a fairly good case in their propaganda literature, but I would be much more impressed with the argument if Deputy Mulcahy, realising, as he does, that the true position of the publican is that of one who serves the public, could support the claims of the publican by evidence that the public in the locality require this extension of the hours of opening. He has not attempted to do that. The only other representative of the area that has spoken has rather taken the other line, that the public do not desire that extension of the hours of opening. I have heard from a number of people in that area, and so far as there is any organised public opinion in the matter, it is against an extension of the hours of opening. I do not know whether any of the four or five other Deputies representing that constituency can support or deny the contentions of Deputy Hewat, but it seems to me that before we can accept the amendment we shall have to be satisfied that there was a very loud and insistent demand from the public that their requirements would be better served by an extension of the hours of opening.
I think the Deputy who moved the amendment has failed to make a case except on the ground that publicans themselves think that their interests should be enhanced, even though publicans in the other part of the same constituency will be losers. Deputy Hewat, I think, has got a majority. There are more publicans who are being protected by his action than who will be hurt by it, but outside publicans altogether I would like to hear something from the public point of view before I would support the amendment.
I may appear as having made the publicans' case, but I have had representations from people in the area just as I had representations from the publicans. I can understand from Deputy Johnson that more has been heard of the representations from the publicans' side, which have gone by circular to the members of the House than of representations from the side of the people. The case appeals to me on the broad principle that you have a particular portion of the city which was not in the same position as other portions of the city with regard to these facilities. The Minister suggests that there has not been a sufficient attempt on the part of Deputies here to consider the matter, but the circulars that have dealt with this matter have been circulated for a long time. I take it Deputies have realised the question is theirs, and have thought something about the matter. I propose to leave the amendment to their vote.
There is one thing I would like to say. I look at the thing, not so much from the traders' point of view at all. I think we are only concerned with that in one way, and that is to say whether the Bill or amendment proposes to do any injustice to the trader or not, and to my mind the Minister has made his case on that quite clearly, that this Bill does not propose to do the injustice suggested to the traders in the added areas. The point I wish to make is that the Minister has suggested the time is not ripe yet for considering the general question of Sunday closing. That may be so. I think it is nearer than it seems to me he would have suggested. At any rate, I think it will come to be considered generally very soon, and I think we ought to be slow to do anything which would make our action in that matter any more difficult than it would be at present. The amendment suggested by Deputy Mulcahy would make matters more difficult than at present, and, therefore, I support the Minister's point of view that we ought to take no step which would go to pre-judging the question or making our action more difficult. For that reason I, for my part, would vote against Deputy Mulcahy's amendment. I think it is important that anyone who has views should more or less express them because of the need for showing that there is a growing public feeling in favour of Sunday closing generally.
I have to rule amendment 31 (a) out of order as not being within the scope of the Bill.
On behalf of Deputy Hughes, I move:
In Section 5 to add to sub-section (1), line 37, the words:—"Notwithstanding anything contained in section 3 of the Refreshment Houses (Ireland) Act, 1860, or any other enactment no person who shall keep a shop for the sale of any goods or commodities other than Foreign Wine shall be entitled to take out a licence to sell in such shop Foreign Wine subject to the conditions mentioned in said section unless he shall have previously made application for and obtained an order from a Justice of the District Court sitting in such Court for the district in which said shop is situated authorising such person to take out such a licence. Notice in writing of the intention of any such person to make such application shall be served upon the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána for such district not less than 14 days before the sitting of the District Court at which such application is intended to be made. Any person taking out such a licence for the sale of Foreign Wine shall not sell same, save on such days and within such hours as are prescribed and allowed for the sale of intoxicating liquor by section 1 of this Act.
As I understand the law as it at present exists, it is that any owner of a shop of £10 valuation is entitled to purchase or sell wines, and the amendment is to limit the sale of such wines to licensed houses.
I considered this amendment carefully. Section 3 of the Refreshment Houses and Wines Licensing Act of 1860 entitles a person who keeps a shop for the sale of any goods or commodities other than foreign wines to take out a licence for dealing in such wines direct from the Excise Authorities without any application to the court, for the sale of such wines in quarter or pint bottles only for consumption off the premises. For the most part people possessing licences of that kind are chemists, and the privilege has not been abused. I know it is customary on the part of licensed traders and their advocates to represent that all the abuses, or any such abuse, as may be said to exist in connection with alcoholic liquors, comes from the off-licence holders. No information I have been able to get points to that being the case.
This amendment asks us to chop the head off the off-licence holder, or, in any case, to prevent any such licence being given in future. I do not think the amendment is wise or necessary. It would mean this, for one thing, that any person wanting to buy a bottle of wine for household use would have to go to the ordinary publichouse or send his messenger there. It would be impossible to buy table wine from a grocer or a chemist, as the case might be. I would like if Deputy Hughes had been here to move the amendment, as possibly he would have enlarged on the reasons that prompted him to put it down, and the abuses which he considers exist in connection with off-licences. Such inquiries as I have been able to make through the police and otherwise do not confirm the view that this amendment is at all necessary.
Amendment 33 falls with amendment 13.
I move: "To delete the section." When the Bill was under consideration on the Second Reading, I referred to this particular section. I said that it was unnecessary and would lead to confusion. In the first place, I think it would be very hard to detect or discover cases where credit is given. I also think that the number of cases in which credit is given in public houses is very few. In addition, as I understand the law at present, where a licensed trader gives credit for drink consumed on the premises, he is not entitled to recover the money in court. I think that ought to be enough to meet the idea behind this section. I think there is a sort of coercion about the proposal. If publicans are willing to give a little credit, I do not see why they should be prevented from doing so. The argument will probably be advanced that it leads to drunkenness, but people who have not got money cannot expect to get credit.
The section was not inserted lightly, or without good reason. The Deputy is right in saying that as the law stands at the moment, if a publican gives drink across the counter for consumption, or lets a man run a bill with him, he cannot rely on the court machinery for the recovery of the amount. This proposal goes further. It makes it unlawful for a publican to give credit and provides a penalty in the event of a breach. In the case of a first offence, £5;
"and in the case of any subsequent offence to a penalty not exceeding £10. And, in any case, if the person convicted is a licensed holder, the conviction shall be recorded on his licence."
There is another side to the picture. After three, four or five bottles of stout, a man may see his future as a very rosy one indeed, and his prospects in a couple of days' time very great. He may run into debt with a publican to an amount that is a burden on him. We cannot consider this thing as if the publican were like a butcher, a baker or a candlestick-maker. He is a dealer in a very special quality of goods, which have a particular effect on the consumer if taken in large quantities. A man who has indulged for a couple of hours may fall into debt to the detriment of his own interests as well as those of his family. There is a case for saying that this kind of goods must not be sold across the counter "on tick," that it shall be unlawful to sell these goods on credit. You may say if a man has no money to-day, but expects to have money to-morrow, it would be too bad that he could not quench his thirst, that he had to carry it over-night. I do not know. He would do better to borrow the money from his friends or from his neighbours to quench his thirst, rather than start running a bill in a public house.
This is a trade that practically since the time of Noah has had to be hedged round with restrictions and regulations because of the nature of the goods sold. The restrictions would not be reasonable in the case of flour, tea, sugar or sausages, but in the case of the special nature of this class of goods, you have from time to time as abuses crop up— and they are not the same abuses to-day as long ago, and will not perhaps be the same abuses in five, six or seven years time as they are now, but just a change of requirement in a day or a year—fresh legislation. Remember this man is a monopolist. You do not allow everyone to rush into his trade in competition. You issue to a limited number of people licences to deal in this particular class of goods, and you are entitled from time to time—the Parliament of the State is entitled, from time to time—to legislate in accordance with its conception of the requirements.
Now, I believe that many Deputies on the Labour benches, and many Deputies on other benches, will agree with the view embodied in this Bill, that it is a proper thing to make it unlawful on the part of a publican to give credit, and that it is a proper thing to prohibit the sale of drink across the counter without an exchange of cash. It is not framed or conceived in any spirit of tyranny or coercion, but it is framed in the spirit of a desire to protect people with strong appetites and weak wills from the consequences to themselves and their families of running into debt.
If this amendment is not passed the Bill will remove the last vestige of discretion vested in the publicans. Up to the present all the arguments put forward would point to all the publicans as nearly rogues, but this one comes out at last and says that we are too innocent, and for fear that we would give away drink for which we would never be paid, this is a special Act of Parliament to save us from ourselves. I hope that the public will read the provisions of the Act, and that they will come armed to the teeth with their money and not put the poor publicans into the position of saying that the Minister for Justice would not allow them to give drink without cash. We do not know what his reasons for it are. I think that the publican should be allowed that discretion, and decide whether or not he can give a man drink without cash. For instance, a man might have left his purse at home, and in that case what could he do in a village where there is, perhaps, no loan bank or where he has no friends? He would have to go dry, and if there was no water supply he would drop dead. Deputy Johnson tried to impress on the Minister for Justice that we should not be allowed to invite guests on our premises, so that there is no use in coming to my place on Sunday or Sunday week or whatever day you intend to come. This amendment should be made unnecessary by the Minister. I cannot find a word to describe how the publicans feel about this, because you must be looking on them as fools if you have to save them from themselves. The general public will say that the publicans squared the Minister for Justice to put this provision in in order that no more tick would be given.
Deputy Daly again exemplifies the difference between the ordinary citizen in trade and the publican. I think that probably 95 per cent. of persons in trade would be very glad if there could be some legislation to prevent the giving of credit to retail buyers. The publicans, evidently, if Deputy Daly is their spokesman, are in favour of giving credit and running up a slate.
That is dangerous.
It is, but the publicans apparently risk it, because they know that they can count upon the frailties of thirsty citizens to come back and pay up their account. I think, notwithstanding what Deputy Daly says, that the majority of publicans will be rather glad to be able to say, "I am prohibited from giving you credit." I am not interested in that side of the case. I know as a matter of fact that where a publican is prepared to take the risk of a debt he will give credit to a drinker, and the man, and the woman, in too many cases, will come into the house day after day, get credit, and then will either have to hand over the wages when work is available; or, in the case of a woman, too often to pawn the furniture and clothing to pay off the publican.
They need not pay him.
No; but unfortunately the traffic gets hold of the minds of people, and for fear that they will not get further credit they will pay up. There is a kind of honour among drinkers as there is amongst another section of the public. I believe that this is a very desirable provision to make. It would prevent the giving of credit when drink is being supplied. I believe there are few publicans with any regard for their position in the community who will be hurt by it, and I believe that the public will be greatly protected by it. I think it would go far to strengthen the will of hesitating drinkers. I think Deputy Daly would probably admit that if he were pressed in confidence, and certainly no publican and no one who has any experience of drinking in cities will deny, that very many people indeed, having the habit of drinking but not having the money to pay on the nail, take drink, and drink far beyond their ability to pay, and thus deprive themselves of reasonable food and clothing. Too often, as I have said, they have to pawn their belongings for the sake of paying off the publican; notwithstanding that they need not under the law do it, the fact is they do it, and they would be prevented to a very great extent, I think, by the incorporation of this provision in the Bill. I am sorry that the amendment has been moved from these benches, but that cannot be helped. We have a right to our own views. My views are strongly in favour of the incorporation of this section in the Bill.
This is a rather extraordinary section from the business point of view, and it just emphasises how peculiar legislation is in connection with the licensed trade. Obviously this restriction is a right and proper one under the circumstances. I do not think that the publican is, as represented by Deputy Daly, damnified in connection with this provision. Rather, I should have thought he would have considered it an asset, but I would like to emphasise the point of view Deputy Johnson has put before the Committee as to the peculiar code of honour amongst the very poorest people in the city of Dublin who discharge their liability, even where that liability is a crushing burden on them. We all know that that extends beyond the sale of drink, and that in a great many parts of the city the poor people are harassed by high prices for commodities, because they buy from hand to mouth and get credit from the small dealers. That, as applied to the ordinary necessaries, is a somewhat unfortunate state of affairs and increases the cost of living on the portion of the community that is least able to bear it. We know that, and we know the extraordinary honesty of these people. Whether it is actual honesty, or whether it is through force of circumstances, they go on paying these exorbitant prices, paying off their debts little by little, but leaving with the small trader, or what is called the gombeen man, a very excessive profit for the goods he is supplying. Applying that state of things to the licensed trade, we know that there is a particular temptation to the people I have referred to to drown their sorrows and troubles in a way that is very expensive indeed, but which is temporarily very successful.
This Bill throughout is an advance on the idea of trying to protect the people who are not very well able to protect themselves. I do not think there is any more valuable provision in the Bill than that which would prevent these poor people making use of the credit which they might get from the publican to run up a bill, which might alleviate their troubles for the time being, but would only grossly add to them in the future. I do not think that the question of credit, as applied to the vast proportion of the community, would be so oppressive as it is to a large number of the poorer class, and it is in their interest the value of this prohibition of credit lies. The amendment, in my opinion, is not well considered, and I hope the Committee will reject it and accept the principle of the Bill.
I, too, oppose the amendment, for the reason that I think the provision it deals with is one of the best in the Bill. I can understand a customer going into a publichouse with a shilling or two to spend. I can understand him also going into a butcher's shop. As the Minister for Justice has said, liquor is a very peculiar type of goods, and the difference between it and other commodities can be shown by an illustration. If a man goes into a butcher's shop and asks for 1½ or 2 lbs. of meat, and consumes it on the premises, very well, but I cannot understand if he then says "Give me another 1½ or 2 lbs." I can very well understand the position of a man going into a publichouse and buying a half-pint or a pint of whiskey, and when that is consumed asking—as it is the most natural thing in the world —for more. That is what he would do from the nature of the goods he consumes. Deputy Daly's concern is not for the consumer but for the man who sells. I hope the Minister has no intention of departing from this provision, and that he will have the support of the Dáil. He certainly will have my support, and that of every Deputy on these Benches.
To insert before Section 7 a new section as follows:—
(1) It shall not be lawful for any licence holder to supply any intoxicating liquor in bottles unless such bottles are of standard sizes to be prescribed by the Minister.
(2) Every licence holder who shall supply any intoxicating liquor in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof in the case of a first offence, to a penalty not exceeding five pounds, and in the case of any subsequent offences to a penalty not exceeding ten pounds.
The object of this is to ensure that liquor that is sold by publicans in bottles shall be in bottles of standard sizes. Complaint is made, and I think is very widespread, that you may have stout sold in bottles ranging from 12 to 16 to the gallon, and by one means or another in the manipulation of the sizes of the bottles the consumers are somewhat deceived, and I think very often robbed. In this case I am supporting the claims of the consumers of liquor, and I am asking the Dáil to agree that the publican should not be left in the position to exploit the consumers, and that he should be obliged to sell any liquor in bottles of standard sizes, so that the public will know exactly what they are getting when they ask for a bottle of stout or whiskey, and that it shall not be smaller or larger at the whim of the publican.
I should like to support this amendment that Deputy Johnson has so feelingly moved. I wish Deputy Sir James Craig were here, because when the Commission on Prices was sitting this was a matter on which he specialised. Deputy Hewat was also a member of that Commission, and he will remember that a great deal of evidence was taken. It was quite obvious that in a large number of cases publicans were taking advantage of the different sizes in bottles to perpetrate what was very little less than a fraud on the consumer. I hope the amendment will be adopted by the Minister. I imagine it will not prove exactly an easy matter of administration, but it will not prove an impossible matter. I urge that it be adopted in order that when the consumer buys an article he will know exactly what measure he is getting.
I would like to urge upon the Minister the necessity for adopting this amendment. Like Deputy Johnson, I am speaking in the interests of the consumer. I am sure this matter will have the support of Deputies Daly and Beamish. It is quite apparent that a good deal of the business profits and the huge dividends that come into the balance sheets of our big firms might be traced to the size in bottles, or rather the discrepancies in the size of bottles. The consumer is given the impression that he is getting what he really is not getting at all. I hope the Minister will see his way to adopt this amendment. I do not know if it will have the support of Deputy Daly; I hoped it would. At the same time, even that ought not to be a blot upon the amendment.
I think the Minister for Justice should treat this matter lightly, coming as it does from such inexperienced gentlemen as Deputies Johnson, Gorey and Figgis. They have been proclaiming to the world that they know nothing about drink, and I believe them. Publicans were described at one time as rogues; now, apparently, we are double rogues, because we are accused of cheating people in the size of bottles. A few months ago certain Deputies were telling us that the public at large were getting too much drink; now they are saying that the public are not getting enough drink at all.
Not getting value for the money.
In the Gospel there is a story relating to a poor publican, but I may tell you that the publicans at that time would be only trotting after the publicans of to-day. It seems to me that everybody is now on top of the publicans. I do not know whether we are in order in receiving this amendment at all. That is a point that I would leave to the Minister. I would like to tell you that we are giving fair, honest value as far as bottles of stout are concerned. I may also add that I am sure Deputies Johnson, Gorey and Figgis were not cheated in their lifetime by the smallness of the bottle of stout.
Deputy Johnson has told us that evidence was given before the Food Prices Commission that the number of bottles to a gallon varied from 12, which was the standard pre-war, to approximately 16 to the gallon now.
AN CEANN COMHAIRLE resumed the Chair.
Neither the one figure nor the other was exact, because the size of the bottles in use at any time varies very considerably. That, on the face of it, is undesirable. It certainly does seem clear that some form of standard should be introduced. Deputy Daly, perhaps, put his finger on a weak point when he questioned the propriety of dealing with the matter in this particular Bill. It might be held that a Weights and Measures Bill would deal much more appropriately with a question of this kind. I would be prepared to accept the amendment. I am rather inclined to the view that a period of grace would be necessary, possibly as long as a year, to replace the bottles at present in use by a new standard bottle which might reasonably be 14 to the gallon. In any case that is a matter which could be looked into and could be dealt with, perhaps, by Order, and penalties in the event of a breach would, of course, have to be prescribed also. If the general feeling is in favour of the insertion of an amendment on these lines, perhaps an amendment could be brought forward on Report, or possibly to test opinion on the matter, if this amendment were put, such amendments as are necessary in a consequential way could be brought forward on Report. I do accept the amendment.
"After the word ‘liquor,' line 28, to insert the words ‘other than ale or cider.'"
We are now dealing with Section 7, which refers to the sale of liquor to young persons for consumption on the premises. The words of the section are "every licence holder." The section deals with hotels and other places and not merely publichouses; therefore I have put down an amendment which I intend to construe in conjunction with Amendment 37. Those two amendments combined will have the effect of making it legal for a licence holder to sell, to a young person under 18 years of age, ale or cider for consumption with a meal, and only under those circumstances.
I am sorry to find Section 7 in the Bill, because it shows the Minister for Justice is running in double harness with a noble lady—a member of another Parliament, who brought in a Bill on this subject two years ago, and succeeded in passing it into law in the British Parliament; and I am inclined to think that it is almost grandmotherly legislation to say that a boy of seventeen is not to have a glass of beer on occasion; it is stretching the power of the State and regulating the lives of individuals rather too far. I know when I was a boy at school there was always a jug of beer placed on the table there, and you were free to decide whether you liked it or not. I decided I did not, and it was a valuable element in education. Cider is a very inoffensive drink. I believe legally it is an intoxicating liquor, but it is a drink that many boys drink in the summer. I have never heard of anybody being the worse of it. I, therefore, suggest that we would be pressing the desire for temperance too far if we were to apply this section either to ale or cider. Therefore, I beg to move Amendment 35.
It seems to me that if we are to legislate on this matter at all it becomes a question of making up our minds what we are going to regard as a young person, and to erect in front of that young person a complete barrier. If you attempt to discriminate on the basis of a distinction between one class of intoxicating liquor and another, I think such a provision in the law would be almost impossible of administration. Now, I could understand the Deputy cavilling at the age, saying that it ought not to be eighteen, that it ought to be seventeen or sixteen, and other Deputies, coming along and suggesting that it ought to be nineteen. But to distinguish between one form of alcoholic liquor and another for the purpose of this particular kind of legislation is difficult, and almost impossible in practice. Now the Deputy proposes an exemption in favour of ale and cider. I was not always a teetotaller, but I am not sure exactly what kind of liquor would be covered by the term "ale." Take Bass, for instance. Bass's ale is sought to be exempted.
What is commonly and vulgarly called beer.
I do not know what the case is then for such exemption. It seems to me that beer is just about as influential a drink as stout and has pretty much about the same consequence, quantity for quantity. The Deputy did not explain just the basis of his exemption. I do not know what it is. If he means that certain liquors are practically harmless or nonintoxicating I would not agree with him. From experience I would not agree with him in the classification of ale or beer as coming within that category.
What about cider?
Cider is practically a non-intoxicant. But then the question arises of light wines. port and so on, until practically you come to this that he could be served with any form of drink except spirits—say whiskey, or possibly stout. Now, it is a question of commonsense as to whether we should have an age limit at all. What should that age limit be? I submit that below that age limit discrimination as between one form of drink and another is impracticable. The Deputy will no doubt tell me when he comes to reply that legislation of this kind should not be regarded chiefly, or even mainly, from the point of view of the facility in administration, or facility in operation. But we are entitled to say that a particular proposal would render the spirit, the whole principle, the whole object sought to be effected, nugatory. I consider this amendment would make the provisions, by which you endeavour to deal with the question of young persons drinking on licensed premises, entirely nugatory.
One of my quarrels with the Bill is that it would be a very difficult Bill to administer. I agree with the Minister in that. But when we discriminate between one form of alcoholic drink and another I think I am entitled to ask him has he made any study at all of the liquor legislation on the American Continent. I ask that because there has been a movement—I think he knows all about it, because he uses the term ale and light wines, which has been the term used in Canada and the United States—there to exempt ale and light wines from Prohibition; and I think cider is also included in the exemption. It was pushed forward successfully in Canada. I have not asked that light wines be exempt, because light wines might include champagne. I would put down as a reasonable proposition that a boy of sixteen or seventeen years of age is not likely to be intoxicated by getting the amount of ale hat a boy in that class would be likely to get by reason of the money he has. Of course people may say that he is likely to be intoxicated on that, but that is not the kind of drink that he is likely to get drunk on. The number of people getting drunk on beer is comparatively small. It is the drinking of spirits and wine that causes drunkenness. It is easier to get drunk on than on ale. Ale intoxicates only very mildly, and cider intoxicates hardly at all. If the Minister prefers an amendment reducing the age limit to sixteen, I think I can promise him that he can have it on Report. I would not be in favour of an age limit of fourteen, but if he wants to make it sixteen years he will have such an amendment from me on the Report Stage. In the meantime I will allow this section to come before the Dáil for discussion.
I think Deputy Cooper, in dealing with Section 7, lost sight of the object of the section. If he will look at it again he will see that the marginal note is "Sales to young persons for consumption on the premises." That, as applied to the premises, means a publichouse. I think it is very wide. I think Deputy Cooper will agree that certainly it is quite desirable that young people should not be served on the premises.
Amendment 37 deals with that.
I quite agree with what Deputy Cooper's intention is— that it should not apply to licensed houses in the ordinary sense of the word. His mind is directed to people who go to a hotel. Take the case of a boy of seventeen or eighteen who is at an hotel perhaps with his parents. I do not think the question would ever arise as to the age in that case. No matter what is in the Bill, nobody is going to question supplying him with a certain amount unless it is particularly obvious that he is not entitled to get it. I do not think the Minister for Justice would imagine his Bill is going to be observed to the extent that every young man who comes into an hotel is going to be questioned as to whether he is over eighteen or not. Even assuming a young man does look very young for his years, I do not think the waiter is going to ask him his age before supplying him with a drink.
The essence of the Bill is to prevent a young man from going into a publichouse on his own initiative to get intoxicating drink. Whatever age the Minister takes, it ought to be a reasonable age. Perhaps eighteen is too old. There are some young men of the present day who think they are quite grown up long before they reach eighteen. At all events, the principle of this section is a good one; that is to say, it will be a safeguard against young people going into publichouses to take either ale or porter or anything else.
I was not here for the beginning of this discussion, but, in my view, this amendment is quite unworkable. Deputy Cooper has given the House a definition of the term "ale" which is entirely misleading and wrong. The intoxicating property of any kind of beverage depends upon its strength, and you can have, in the case of what is known as Bass's No. 1, a very considerably higher intoxicating strength than in Guinness's Stout or in Bass's Ordinary Pale Ale. You can drink ale of such strength that it will have almost as high an intoxicating power as whiskey, if it is brewed strong enough. Therefore, for that reason, I do not think the amendment is at all workable.
At least I can agree with the Minister for Justice when he says that beer would knock you out as soon as stout. The only difference between them is that beer is the drink of the rich people, and stout, even according to Deputy Johnson, who pointed out a few moments ago that this thing was mentioned at the Food Commission, is the food of the poor man to a great extent. But stout and beer, as far as making one drunk is concerned, will run a dead heat.
One explanation of that may be that in the Licensing Acts of the past beer was held to include stout.
As Deputy Murphy's amendment was not moved, I think it very desirable that we should have an opportunity of discussing the age, and not definitely confining ourselves to the age in the Bill. Whether that could be better done on the question that Section 7 stand part of the Bill or on an amendment on the Report Stage I do not know, but if the Minister thinks it could I should be prepared to meet him. Possibly an amendment on the Report Stage setting out a specific age instead of merely voting against this section as it stands, would be the better way. I think the Minister might consider, in the meantime, the consequence to some of his colleagues of the passing of this Bill as it stands, because in that event I think the Minister for Lands and Agriculture, or the Minister for Local Government and Public Health would have very great difficulty in obtaining any alcoholic liquor from publicans who desire to be on the safe side.
I beg to move Amendment 42:—
In sub-section (4) to delete paragraph (a) and substitute therefor as follows:—
(a) the sale for delivery of intoxicating liquor at the residence or working place of the purchaser.
We know that in the City of Dublin, amongst other places, when people come home at meal-time that stout, as I am tired of saying, is portion of their food, and some person in the house, over eighteen years of age, as they would have to be under the new Bill, would have to be sent with a jug in hand to the nearest "pub." for porter for the dinner.
When there is no one in the house over eighteen with the exception of the father or the mother, and when perhaps the mother is engaged cooking the meal, she has to send a little boy of ten years to the publichouse. She rolls up the money for him in a piece of paper and sends him off with it to the publichouse. The publican will have an assistant who will take the order from the child, and the child will walk out again without seeing the porter that has been ordered. The porter will be sent by the publican's messenger to the house of the working man. The youngster will not see the porter in the publichouse, but he may see it at home. The child would see it if the woman of the house went out for it herself. On this occasion I take to myself the honour of speaking for the public and the working people, perhaps, of Cork and Dublin. I would ask the Minister in all fairness to accept this amendment—which I am sure he will not—for the reason that it would save trouble and inconvenience to the woman of the house to send out a messenger boy for the liquor. That messenger boy will never see the liquor. It will be sent back by a paid hand, who will be over eighteen years of age, to the house of the working man. I think this is a fair case, although I am certain of defeat, but after all he is doubly brave who faces defeat like this. I am in earnest when I say that you will be saving trouble and inconvenience to the husband or to the wife, or to a grownup young man, who perhaps would be ashamed to go out with his jug for the porter. I am asked by the licensed trade of Dublin, and as I do not like to tell a lie, I may say that I am asked by nobody else to move this amendment. At the same time I think it would be only fair to the poor people that this amendment should be accepted. Even Deputy Gorey, I am sure, would not object to it.
The Deputy is a true prophet. He has more or less prophesied that his amendment would not be accepted, and I do not intend to disappoint him in that respect. The effect of the amendment would be to defeat the whole object of the section, and to that end it is cleverly enough framed. The object of the section is to prevent children under thirteen years of age from being used as messengers to publichouses. Now, that may be right or it may be wrong, but beyond question it is the object of the section. The object of the Deputy's amendment is to enable that to be done, so that at any rate there is a direct conflict of view as between the Deputy and myself which the Dáil will have to determine. Temperance advocates generally, and I speak of temperance advocates in the strict and proper sense of the word as distinct from prohibition advocates, have been always strong in urging this question, that young children should not be used as messengers in this way to the publichouse, that they should not be taught their way to the publichouse in their infancy or childhood, and that it is a wrong thing to accustom them to the atmosphere and environment of publichouses. If they are used in that way at the age of twelve, thirteen and fourteen, if they are habituated to go to the publichouse on the business of their fathers, their brothers or their uncles, as the case may be, in a very short time and by a quite natural and easy gravitation they will go there on their own business. From the Deputy's point of view, and the point of view of the people for whom he speaks, his amendment is a very practical one. He is not averse to children becoming habituated to the atmosphere and environment of licensed establishments, he is not averse to their learning their way there and the ways of the place. Why should he? He hopes that when the child of twelve, thirteen or fourteen reaches sixteen or seventeen years of age he will be a promising customer, but that is a point of view, I submit, that is not the point of view of the general public, and if we were to accept the Deputy's amendment and enable children of tender years to be used as messengers in the way he suggests, we would be running counter to the very definite trend of public opinion on this matter.
It is one thing for the young man of eighteen or nineteen years of age to make up his own mind as to whether he has any particular taste for alcoholic liquor, and if he has whether he means to indulge in it or not. It is another thing to send little innocent children as messengers to push their way in through drinking crowds in a publichouse to give their order and fetch it home, or even to go there with an order. I know that the case can be put up, in fact I know that the case is habitually put up, of the woman in her home preparing her husband's dinner, and of having no one to send out except this child of twelve or thirteen for a bottle of stout or a can of porter for the dinner, and that people wax eloquent on that score. It is a question of weighing disadvantages or desirabilities, whether on the whole it is a greater gain to cater for the inconvenience of this imaginary housekeeper or so to legislate that it will be unlawful to use children as messengers in that way, and for that purpose. A child in a publichouse is out of place. The Deputy himself knows that. He knows that in most publichouses children will see and hear things which if it were possible children ought neither to see nor hear. It is that point of view that is embodied in this section. The Deputy's amendment runs completely counter to the section, cleverly framed and cleverly worded as it is. The net effect of it is to destroy the object aimed at in the section, and for that reason I oppose it, and ask the Dáil to reject it.
I beg to move Amendment 43:—
"In sub-sections (4) (b) and (c), line 59, (page 7) and line 1 (page 8) to delete the word ‘thirteen' in each case, and substitute therefor the word ‘fifteen.'"
There is not much need, I think, for my advocacy of this amendment after the speech that has just been delivered by the Minister for Justice. The only question that arises is whether a child is still a child at thirteen or fifteen years of age. I want to alter the age below which it will be illegal to send a child for intoxicants in corked or sealed bottles containing not less than a pint, from thirteen to fifteen years of age. The arguments the Minister used about the undesirability of allowing children to get accustomed to going to publichouses is the argument that I will use, and I want to make that apply to children under fifteen instead of thirteen as in the Bill.
I think the number of messengers for intoxicants in corked and sealed bottles, containing not less than a pint, for the ordinary consumer, would probably not be very great. I do not think the average child of the average worker would be sent for a pint bottle of stout or spirits. But I think that what is probably aimed at in these paragraphs of the sub-section is to allow messengers employed in shops and establishments to go to public houses or licensed premises and obtain for their employers intoxicants in bottles. If that is the intention, I want, if possible, to prohibit the employment of children under 15 years of age for such purposes. All the arguments that can be adduced in favour of prohibiting children going to a publichouse or licensed premises for intoxicants are as valid with respect to a child of 15 as with respect to a child of 13, and I ask the Dáil to agree with me that 15 is the lowest limit that we should allow such children to be engaged in acting as messengers for this traffic. I think the Minister has made a very good case for the amendment, and I ask the Dáil to substitute 15 for 13 in these two paragraphs.
There is one point I would like to urge in connection with this amendment. The school-leaving age at the moment is 14, and one of the difficulties that the Minister for Education has to contend with is that these boys and girls in many cases are used as messengers at home instead being at school. One hopes that in the Bill that the Minister for Education has promised to introduce many of these difficulties will be done away with, but we hope on the other side to do away with the attractions that keep these boys and girls at home, and for that reason I would like to support the amendment. Also I think what the Minister has said is quite true, that there is a strong feeling amongst the public in these days that the associations of the publichouse are not the associations that the boy or girl of 13 years of age should be in contact with, and I think any one of us who has experience of work amongst these boys and girls thinks that the age ought to be raised at least to 15 years, and, therefore, I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment.
We had better be clear about the exact tenour of the proposal. If the proposals in the Bill are adopted a young person of over 13 years of age may receive intoxicating liquor in a corked and sealed vessel, and only a person over 18 years of age may get drink in an open vessel, so that the question of temptation on the part of the messenger actually to consume some of the goods scarcely arises, or is only there to a very small degree. It is a question really of the fixing of an age below which you take the view that that young person ought not to go inside the door of a publichouse at all, and what we are discussing and are about to decide is whether the age ought to be 13 years or 15 years.
We fixed the age at 13, feeling that you would have put forward this plea about the child in the house of the working person used as a messenger, and probably used of necessity as a messenger because the mother was perhaps minding a younger child, and preparing the husband's dinner, or something of that kind. Up to a point these arguments can be urged effectively. And yet it seemed desirable to fix some age and say: "Here is an age below which the young person should not be so employed, no matter what the need is, and no matter what the urgency or the excuse." We thought it right to fix that age fairly low, and we fixed it at 13. The Deputy suggests raising that by two years. I have no very pronounced view about it. Following my own personal inclination I would agree that people ought not to go into publichouses below the age of 15 years, even as messengers, but I would not ask to have that voted on in a party way. I will take this position on the matter, that if the Dáil, voting freely, wishes it to be raised to 15 years, I will certainly accept it, and accept it very willingly indeed. But I did not think, in putting forward this Bill and standing over it in a Ministerial capacity, that it would be wise or right on my part to fix an age any higher than the age that is in the Bill.
I would like the matter to be discussed in a realistic way. As far as I can imagine the case it must be borne in mind that we are dealing with messengers going to licensed premises for intoxicants in corked and sealed vessels, containing not less than a pint. As far as I can imagine, the majority of cases that would come within that definition would be persons, perhaps workmen, sending a boy to a publichouse for a pint of stout in a bottle, or the father or mother sending a boy or girl to a publichouse for a pint of stout in a bottle. The ordinary bottle of stout would not come into it, and not very many bottles of whiskey would be called for in that way, except perhaps where there is to be a jollification. Then certainly I think a child of any age should not be a messenger. The common demand will be for the pint of stout in a bottle. The child messenger has to go to the publichouse, and though there is no temptation, or very little opportunity without detection for the child to take the drink, that is not what I am seeking to prevent particularly. I am seeking to prevent a younger child being used as a messenger. Possibly in many cases the child will be kept from school for the purpose, but at any rate for the child being used as a messenger and coming within the influence of the publichouse, I think 13 is too young. I think 15 is too young, but I believe 15 would meet the case and not be too arbitary. I cannot imagine a very great demand for children to be sent for such a purpose outside either the trader who has boy messengers and wants to get spirits in bottles to send to other customers, or the cases such as I have mentioned where the mother or father or a group of workmen send messengers for stout in bottles. In such a case I think that 13 is too young, and I cannot see any good reason why we should not limit the age to 15. Unless there is some argument against my proposition, I would ask the House to accept it. I do not think there is anything yet said that would warrant my withdrawing it.
I think the practice of sending for stout in a pint bottle is a very dangerous practice from the workingman's point of view. If the bottle fell it would be all gone. It would be better to have the old practice of a tin can. Even if the age be fixed at fifteen, as Deputy Johnson suggests, I will not oppose it, because I know it is no good for me.
I am not quite clear whether the section is meant to apply only where the female person is in the relationship of employer to employee, or whether the wording of the section could be taken to cover the case of permitting members of the publican's own family to assist in the business. I am not quite clear about that. I wish to know from the Minister what is his interpretation of that.
I suppose the words "any female person" would certainly be taken to cover even members of the family of the licensed holder. That is my understanding of the section.
In that case I shall move the amendment, because I think that we must make provision for the protection of the licensed holder. In a large number of cases owing to the housing qualities of the place and the kitchen being so convenient, it would be absolutely impossible for any licensed holder to ensure that female persons under the age of 18 should not go behind the counter on some occasions and assist in the management of the business. Even in the case of women who are widows and who cannot afford or who have not sufficient trade to enable them to pay for help in the place it will be an enormous hardship. It will virtually mean the extinction of the licences if they are not allowed to let the female members of the family in cases like this assist in the business. All the amendment means is that it shall not apply if the female person is a member of the license holder's family, and I am sure the Minister will accept it.
A good deal would turn on the interpretation that would be given to the word "employs" in the first line—"any licensed holder who employs any female person to sell any description of intoxicating liquor"—but generally there should be some ground for discriminating as between a relative of the licensed holder and a person for whose character and future he cannot be said to have any particular interest. The amendment following this on the paper might perhaps be a reasonable compromise; it confines it to a sister, daughter, step-daughter or niece of such licensed holder who resides in the house, but even in that case I submit that in the case of the class of persons excepted, there should be an age limit; I mean that we ought not, by legislation, to say that the daughter of a publican of any age may be used to serve in the shop, and the acceptance of amendment 46 that a proviso that the persons excepted shall not act in that capacity, say, below the age of 16 years, would, perhaps, be generally acceptable. There would be then the provision that no person under the age of 18 was to serve in that capacity except she is the daughter, step-daughter, or niece of the licence holder, and that persons in that relationship to the licensed holder shall not act in that capacity under the age of 16 years. That might possibly be a suitable arrangement.
I would like if the Minister for Justice would include, say, my wife's nieces—I am a publican—as my nieces. Those children call me uncle. I am not speaking for myself, but in general. I am the uncle, in a way, of those children and because my wife is not the licence holder, those children are not entitled to be on the premises. I would wish it to be included that the publican who is the uncle by adoption of these children should look upon these children as his nieces. I hope the Minister for Justice understands me, and as he has given away nothing else to me that he may give this to me.
I assumed when I read the clause as originally drafted, that the reason for the insertion of the age limit here, that the person who was to be employed in this way should not be employed below the age of eighteen was because the Minister was inclined to look upon it as demoralising and degrading on any female to serve a person on licensed premises. If that is what was in the mind of the Minister when the clause was originally drafted, is it not equally degrading for the sister, daughter, step-daughter or any of Deputy Daly's many nieces to be employed in the same capacity?
They are all employees, because they render service. I am anxious to find out if the objection is that they should not be employed under the age of eighteen, as it is degrading and demoralising. I cannot see, so far, why exemption is made in the case of amendment 46, which the Minister says he is inclined to accept.
The fact that these persons are related to the licensed holder will give him an interest in seeing that the conduct and behaviour of his customers to these persons is what it ought to be. Further, the fact that they are not merely relations but reside on his premises has a certain weight when considering the question. It may be said that it would be unreasonable that the 17 year old daughter of the house could not help her parents in the shop. I quite see certain weight in an argument of that kind. I believe where there is close relationship with the licensed holder, and where the licensed holder has a family interest in seeing that a young person is treated decently and respectfully by clients, the position is different from the relationship merely of employer and employee, where the licensed holder would not bother his head about what conduct or talk went on in the bar between a young person and the customers. I now move to report progress.