Deputies will observe that there have been tabled at least four schemes dealing with the hours of trading in licensed premises. Many of these amendments cut across each other and it is obvious that if each of these schemes and the subsidiary amendments thereto were to be discussed and decided separately there would be inevitable repetition with unsatisfactory results. I suggest, therefore, segregating the different points. The first 18 amendments, excluding, I think, Nos. 1, 5 and 6, fall into four main categories. No. 1 category is the extension of week-day trading hours, which might be considered on amendments Nos. 2 and 3. I shall have something to say about amendment No. 2. The second category is the equation of Saturdays with other week-days, which might be considered on amendment No.4. The third category—Sunday opening outside the county boroughs— might be considered on amendments Nos. 8, 17 and 18. The fourth category, dealing with the alteration in Sunday hours, would arise on amendments Nos. 10 and 11. If that proposal is not quite clear. Deputies might so inform the Chair. Amendment No. 2 on this sheet of amendments—or perhaps we should more properly call it this booklet of amendments—includes two paragraphs dealing with Sunday trading. These are paragraphs (e) and (j), and I suggest that Deputy McMenamin might omit these from that amendment, or, alternatively, that a decision be taken on amendment No. 3. The House, I feel sure, would permit the deletion of paragraphs (e) and (j), as the question of Sunday trading would be considered later.
Intoxicating Liquor Bill, 1942—Committee Stage.
I presume that that refers to paragraphs (e) and (j) in amendment No. 2.
Yes. To introduce the question of Sunday trading there, I suggest, would confuse the issue. Then the House can consider the extension of week-day trading on amendments Nos. 2 and 3. and abide by the result in connection with the other amendments.
I move amendment No. 1:—
Before Section 3, page 2, to insert a new section as follows:—
Section 1 of the Act of 1927 is hereby amended by the insertion in sub-section (1) after the word "licence" in each of the definitions of the expressions "licensed premises", "on-licence" and "off-licence" of the following: "(whether granted on production or without production of a certificate of the Circuit Court or the District Court)".
This is a drafting amendment. Its purpose is to remove any doubts which may exist as to the meaning of the expressions: "licensed premises,""on-licence" and "off-licence" in the 1927 Act. I am advised that a licence, such, for instance, as a wine retailer's licence, which is granted without the production of a certificate from the courts comes within the definitions of these expressions. Doubts have been expressed as to the correctness of that view, however, having regard to the definition of "licence" contained in the Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1874, and the Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1902, and I propose that this opportunity should be taken to clarify the position. If premises to which a wine retailer's licence is attached, were not licensed premises within the meaning of the 1927 Act, Section 2 of the Act of 1927 would not operate to prohibit permitting consumption of intoxicating liquor on such premises during prohibited hours.
The amendment will make it clear that the provisions relating to prohibited hours apply to all premises licensed for the retail sale of intoxicating liquor. Restaurants holding wine retailer's "on-licences" will be entitled to the same exemptions as restaurants with ordinary publicans' licences if they obtain restaurant certificates under Section 6 of the Bill.
Amendment No. 2, to Section 3, deals with the question of the extension of week-day hours.
I move amendment No. 2:—
Before Section 3 to insert a new section as follows:—
Section 2 of the Act of 1927 is hereby amended as follows:—
(a) by the deletion in paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of the words "ten o'clock in the evening" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "eleven o'clock in the evening";
(b) by the deletion in paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of the words "half-past nine o'clock" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "eleven o'clock";
(c) by the deletion in paragraph (a) of sub-section (2) of the words "ten o'clock in the evening" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "eleven o'clock in the evening";
(d) by the deletion in paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of the words "half-past nine o'clock" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "eleven o'clock in the evening";
(e) by the deletion in paragraph (c) of sub-section (2) of the words "on any Sunday or" and in lieu thereof to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
"(c) on any Sunday, before the hour of one o'clock in the afternoon or between the hours of two o'clock and four o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of seven o'clock in the evening";
(f) by the deletion in paragraph (a) (i) of sub-section (3) of the words "ten o'clock in the evening" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "eleven o'clock in the evening";
(g) by the deletion in paragraph (a) (ii) of sub-section (3) of the words "nine o'clock in the evening" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "ten o'clock in the evening";
(h) by the deletion in paragraph (b) (i) of sub-section (3) of the words "half-past nine o'clock" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "half-past ten o'clock";
(i) by the deletion in paragraph (b) (ii) of sub-section (3) of the words "nine o'clock in the evening" and the substitution in lieu thereof of the words "ten o'clock in the evening";
(j) by the deletion in paragraph (c) of sub-section (3) of the words "on any Sunday or" and in lieu thereof to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
"(c) on any Sunday, before the hour of one o'clock in the afternoon or between the hours of two o'clock and four o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of seven o'clock in the evening".
The reason I put down this amendment is that on the question of time, in connection with Licensing Acts, we are completely out of gear with modern conditions. We are now about an hour and a half out of time, so far as the sun is concerned, and that means that people in the rural communities, who come into a town to do some shopping on a Saturday night, are suffering what amounts to total prohibition, so far as they are concerned. Facilities are granted to people in the boroughs for getting drink on Sundays and at other times, but the people in the country are denied such facilities. I regard that as class legislation, and I cannot see any reason for class legislation of that kind. I do not know what its origin was, but the fact is that people in the cities can get a drink at any hour of the day they want it, whereas the people in the rural areas have not got that accommodation. It may be said, of course: "Oh, well, that provision was here in previous Licensing Acts, and there must have been some reason for putting it in," but if there was a reason for it I should like the Minister to show it to me, because nobody has given me any cogent reason for it. As I have said, I look on it as class legislation in favour of the people in the urban and borough areas. I do not see why these people should have that facility. They can have a drink at practically any hour of the day they want it, whereas the people in the country, who have been working hard all the week, and who come into the local town, perhaps only once a month, on a Saturday evening, to do some shopping—buy clothes or boots, or something like that—cannot get a drink.
With regard to this Bill, and Licensing Acts in general, I am not so much concerned about the hours. Some of the present hours, in my opinion, are unreasonable. I think it would be far better to have the hours made more reasonable and to have the law enforced. However, "I do not want to dwell on that, because it might be touching a thorny problem and might ruffle some tempers, and I think it would be better to avoid that, but I suggest to the Minister that he should take his courage in his hands, because I feel that there is no reason why the rural population of this country should be completely ostracised in this respect. Take an analogous case; Licensed premises are open on every Church holiday in this country, and I do not think the Minister, even with all the reports that are available to him officially, can state that there are abuses of drinking on Church holidays. I have never witnessed any such abuse, at any rate, and I should say that any abuse that takes place occurs after the official closing hours, and that it is due to the non-enforcement of the law as it stands at present.
That is, briefly, the purpose of this amendment, and I should like to hear the Minister tell us what justification there is for this. I put it to him that the advance of hours in the summer time should be taken into account, and that the rural population, who are working to feed the urban population —and there is no question but that they are doing that, and doing it very well —should receive some consideration. There are two points in the amendment. First, there is the obstracisation of the rural community, and the class division in favour of people living in urban districts. In my opinion, there is no justification for that, and I have never heard any put forward. If the Minister has any justification for it, I should like to hear it.
Deputy O'Loghlen has proposed a differentiation between summer and winter hours, which will arise later. Amendments (e) and (j) deal with Sunday hours.
I think the amendment put down by Deputy McMenamin covers most of the points that were put down by other Deputies from country districts as regards the hours on week-days. As the Ceann Comhairle says, we can deal with Sunday afterwards. Deputy O'Loghlen and a number of other Deputies and I had a number of similar amendments down, and while there may be slight difference of views as regards the hours expressed in the amendments, I think we would be all agreed that the principle of Deputy McMenamin's amendment is what we want and what we would ask the Minister to give. The real position as far as country districts are concerned is set out by sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the 1927 Act, which fixes the hours. The Minister will see that the period there, during the period of summer time, is from 10 to 10. That means, of course, in country districts, from 9 to 9 old time on ordinary week-days. Nine o'clock old time in country districts is an utterly ridiculous hour at which to compel the public houses to be closed because, as far as country districts are concerned, people who are working during summer periods, not necessarily even people living in the country, but people in the towns— tradesmen, small shopkeepers and people like that who are not confined to business hours as people are in the city—do not shut their premises at anything like the early hour one might expect from the viewpoint set out in the 1927 Act. The hour of 10 o'clock old time all round is not an unreasonable hour to ask for in the rural areas, and I think, as far as weekdays are concerned, 10 o'clock all round is what is suggested by all the amendments that have been put in, that is, 11 o'clock summer time and 10 o'clock when the period of summer time is not in force. There is still a stronger case for Saturdays in rural areas. Saturday is the one day in the country when people may relax in the evenings and it is utterly ridiculous to say that public houses would have to close at what is approximately 8.30 old time, particularly now, when the period of summer time is in force the whole year round. As far as I am concerned, while I did not go as far in the amendment as Deputy McMenamin went, as regards Saturdays, I would be quite prepared to say that I can see a perfectly strong case for an extension of hours on Saturdays, and I think it is vital that an extension of hours should be given on Saturdays. The people I represent and the people who approached me in this matter feel that, whatever about other points in the Bill, it is absolutely necessary that there should be extended hours on Saturdays.
That would be amendment No. 4.
I beg your pardon, Sir.
The amendments covered in this discussion are Nos. 2, 3, 7, 9 and 12 to 16.
I forgot you had taken out Saturday as well. As far as the ordinary week-days are concerned, I think we would all be satisfied if the Minister would be prepared to make it 11 o'clock in the period of summer time and 10 o'clock when summer time is not in force.
There is no good in having any shadow boxing about it. As far as the equalisation of the hours in the towns and the country is concerned, I think there is a case for that all right, but I do not see that there is any case for extending the hours. My attitude would be that, for week-days, 10 o'clock is late enough. I think it should be 10 o'clock in the country, too. I am prepared to concede that much.
Would the Minister not consider extending that in the country to 11 o'clock during the summer time period?
Deputy McMenamin suggested that, too, but he must have forgotten that summer time was in operation when the 1927 Act was going through and I am sure that was all debated. Of course, the House is entitled to debate it now, but I feel advertence was made to that fact when the 1927 Act was going through. Summer time has been in operation for a long time. There is nothing new in that.
We have double summer time now.
I think the Minister is overlooking one point. When the 1927 Act was being debated here, that point may have been raised but people are inclined to overlook the fact that in the country districts summer time is not recognised by the ordinary people. They still carry on their lives by old time and I think there is a lot to be said for the suggestion made by Deputy Lynch that, even if you keep to the hour in the urban areas, in the country districts at any rate 10 o'clock old time would appear to be the natural hour because the time people come into the town or village in the country is the time between 8 o'clock old time and 10 o'clock old time and not earlier than that. It is really unfortunate that the whole cause of the criticism arises from the fact that people have not adapted themselves to summer time and now, when it is in force the whole year round, matters are still worse.
I wish to support this amendment. Like Deputy Linehan and other Deputies who live in the country and who understand the hours of working of the agricultural community, I feel the Minister should extend the time on ordinary week-days to 11 o'clock summer-time. Summer-time is not recognised by the agricultural community at all. They work by old time. They work until 8.30 old time in the summer, that is 9.30 new time. A man may be working two miles from the village or town and may want a drink. By the time he gets to the village or town it is after 10 o'clock new time and he is not entitled then to have a drink; the public houses will be closed. If the Minister and the Government were really in earnest about making this an Act that would be upheld by the people and the authorities, they would extend the hours. I believe if the hour is extended in the country there would be no abuses. If people come in from the fields and want a drink and if the public houses must close at 8.30 old time, the Act will be abused, but if the hour is extended to suit the conditions in the country there will be no abuses. I would appeal to the Minister to consider this point. After all, the agricultural community deserve something from this Government and from the country because they are the hardest working section in the community. They are the food producers. It is unreasonable at the moment that the hours of closing during the period of summer-time should be 9 o'clock old time and 8.30 on Saturday evenings. I would appeal to the Minister to have these hours extended in this Bill.
The purpose of the amendment has been very clearly stated to the Minister and the Minister has accepted the principle put forward by the mover of the amendment, that a uniform hour should be fixed for the sale of intoxicating drink wherever drink is sold in this country. It is difficult to find any substantial reason why the distinction was ever made as between county boroughs, urban county districts and towns and other places not so described. Under the 1927 Act, as has been pointed out, later hours of trading were permitted in the county boroughs than in places not described as such. In the county boroughs and the urban county districts the time observed is the official time. One of the essential considerations that prompted the mover of the amendments is that official time is observed in the county boroughs and urban county districts and large towns whereas official time is not observed in the other parts of the country. Notwithstanding that official time is observed in the cities and large towns, you give increased hours of trading there and later hours of trading, although work is terminated at a given time in these places.
The daily work ceases at a given time, and they are permitted to obtain reasonable refreshments. In the country, men working in the fields or bogs do not carry on their work by official time. They do not terminate work at a given time. When shorter hours of trading were fixed in country districts people were deprived of the opportunity of getting a reasonable amount of time for refreshments or procuring goods. In the amendment it is suggested that there should be uniform hours for trading on week-days.
I cannot understand why there were shorter hours on Saturday than any other day. The main reason for that, I understand, was that men were paid their weekly wages in industrial centres and large towns on Saturday, and that the provision was deliberately inserted for the purpose of preventing them spending their wages unwisely, perhaps. The position is completely changed now. Wages are not now paid at all on Saturdays in industrial centres; they are paid on Fridays or Mondays. Assuming that that was the reason why Saturday trading hours were shorter, it no longer exists. In order to understand why 11 o'clock has been set down as the maximum hour for uniform trading I suggest that that proposal should be read in relation to amendments Nos. 42 and 43.
Amendment No. 42 indicates that it is proposed to extend thebona fide trading hours. On the Second Reading it was indicated here that most of the abuses occur when persons leave the city and proceed to licensed premises outside, because the break in the hours permits them to do so. In future, if trading in the city is permitted until 11 o'clock, and the hours for bona fide trading extended to 12 o'clock, no such inducement will exist. By permitting trading in the city until 11 o'clock and bona fide trading until 12 o'clock, the inducement to persons in the city to travel to outlying places will disappear. That is an additional reason for allowing trading within cities and county boroughs and other large towns up to 11 o'clock. This amendment should be read in conjunction with amendments Nos. 42 and 43, so as to have a complete grasp of the reason 11 o'clock is suggested. I am satisfied that the reasons I suggest are substantial ones and that the time should be extended to 11 o'clock on all week-days during the summer period and until 10 o'clock in the winter period. The change really means that the ordinary time will then be 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock. I do not think the proposal is unreasonable as its acceptance, taken in conjunction with amendments Nos. 42 and 43, will remove one of the evils to which the Minister pointed when introducing the Bill.
I put down amendments Nos. 7 and 9 for the purpose of endeavouring to persuade the Minister that there should be uniformity of opening and closing hours in provincial towns and all areas outside the county boroughs. I did not hear any good reason given why there should be different opening hours in winter in urban towns with a population of 5,000 or over and towns with a population of 1,000 or over. It is possible under present conditions to have different opening and closing hours inside the same Gárda area. There should be uniformity of opening and closing hours whatever these hours may be. I share the views expressed by Deputy O'Loghlen and Deputy Linehan that there should be uniformity of opening and closing and I hope the Minister will agree to that. If not I should like to hear his reasons to the contrary.
I stated that I agree to have uniform hours on week-days, including Saturdays. I am prepared to agree to uniformity during six week-days in urban areas and in the country. During the debate on the Second Reading I must admit that practically every Deputy who spoke advocated extra facilities for drinking. There is no question about that. But I am conscious of a very strong feeling which was not given expression to here. This is the Parliament of the country in which we should hear different views expressed. We all know that there is a very strong feeling abroad against giving extra facilities. If I were to agree to an extra hour in the evening or at night I think that would have very serious reactions, and Deputies who advocate that must have full regard for the views held by a very responsible section of the community, views which were not expressed except by Deputy Allen who warned the House against general opening on Sundays. He was the only Deputy who issued that warning, and that reminded me—although I did not need to be reminded—of the powerful influence of very responsible people who are against the giving of extra facilities. I think there should be reasonable facilities but I heard no case at all made for giving the extra hour to 11 o'clock.
Does the Minister not see that in practice he is making a distinction of an extra hour against the country? When it comes down, not to what is put on paper, but to what concerns the lives of the people, there is a difference of an extra hour already.
I found it there.
I suggest that there is a certain amount of experience of the working of the Act of 1927. Has there been an increase in the violation of the law since the Act was passed in comparison with the previous years? Rightly or wrongly there is a general impression that there has been more evasion of the law. That may be. One of the grounds for that impression may be that facilities have been interfered with. I presume that the Minister has occasionally, if not as a Minister, certainly, as a private Deputy, attended what are called chapel gate meetings on a Sunday. Has he ever had any difficulty in knowing the hour at which the meeting was to be held? Did he not recognise the extraordinary difference there is between what is down on paper and what is there in practice? Did he ever turn up too early? The Minister says that he sees no case for making a difference of an hour.
I do not.
The best case that could be made for it has been made by the Minister himself. He is making a difference of an hour so far as the lives of the people are concerned. There is no use in pretending that 9 o'clock in the country is the same as 9 o'clock in the towns.
The Deputy is not only pushing up the time by an hour in the country, where they keep old time, but he is pushing it up in the cities as well.
I am dealing with the facts as they are. Does the Minister know any town in the country with a population of under 4,000 where, apart from the trains and the post office, new time is kept? The Minister should remember that the ordinary country people live by the sun, independent of any time. In practice, that means a difference of one and a half hours. Therefore, what, in fact, you are saying is that on Saturday, after 7 o'clock by the sun, no one can get any refreshments after his week's work. I maintain it is the Minister who is really making the difference of an hour. I put it to him, in all seriousness, that he ought not to substitute paper legislation for the actual facts of the lives of the country.
I am afraid I cannot agree with Deputy O'Loghlen that the position in the country has been changed with regard to the time at which wages are paid. Speaking from my own experience, I should say that the vast majority of workers in the rural areas and in a great many of the provincial towns, are not paid until they finish their work on Saturday night. We all know that during the present emergency farmers and their workers are engaged on the land as long as they have daylight. When a farm labourer finishes his work on a Saturday night at 8, 8.30 or 9 o'clock new time, he is handed his week's wages. He goes home with the money to his wife, and she rushes out to the local shop, which is also the local public house, to procure her groceries. That, unfortunately, is the position at the present time. Personally, I cannot see any reason why those workers should not be paid on a Friday night so that their wives might be able to procure the household needs at an earlier hour on Saturday. That is one reason why the present licensing laws are being broken. By the time people reach the local village or town the shops are closed, but, in present circumstances, no shopkeeper is going to refuse to allow them to enter to make their purchases.
The Deputy might remember that on amendment No. 4 a decision is to be reached on that specific question of the hour of Saturday closing.
I am not going to pursue it. I believe with Deputy O'Loghlen, Deputy Linehan and Deputy McMenamin that there should not be any distinction made with regard to the opening hours for the sale of drink as between the county boroughs, the towns and the rural areas.
I take it that the Minister is agreeable to have uniform opening hours from Monday to Saturday night, and that he is prepared to do away with the 9.30 closing on Saturday night?
I am agreeable to that, leaving out Sunday.
Deputy O'Loghen in his amendment is seeking to have the four county boroughs, the cities and towns in the country put on the one level. One Deputy spoke against that. I suggest to the Minister that the arguments he advanced were very poor. He claimed to be speaking for a responsible section of the people, and said that there were going to be abuses and excesses in the cities and rural areas if there was to be any extension of the present hours. I am more interested in the rural areas than I am in the cities. I think the Minister should have a uniform hour of closing at 11 o'clock. In the County Dublin you can see men working in the fields up to a late hour on Saturday nights. If a bad spell of weather is followed by good weather, and a farmer appeals to his men to work for a few extra hours, it is always responded to. I think the Minister should agree to have the public houses remain open until 11 o'clock. On the Second Reading of the Bill he referred to thebona fide abuses.
In Dublin City and County.
And in other places, too.
That was a matter that various Deputies expressed an opinion on. I appeal to the Minister to accept Deputy O'Loghlen's amendment so that there may be a uniform hour for the county boroughs and the rural areas. Let it operate from the 1st May to the 30th September. Many workers in rural areas do not finish work until 9 o'clock on Saturday night. Why, therefore, should not their wives and themselves be given an opportunity of doing business after that hour in the local shops? I am sure the Minister would not get up and advocate that a man who has been working hard all the week is not entitled to have a few pints on a Saturday night. No member of the House, I imagine, will say that there was anything criminal in taking a drink. The acceptance of the amendment would also get rid of this sort of thing. At the present time when people arrive in some villages after closing hour on a Saturday night, they are told that the sergeant is away, and that they can get a drink as Guard So-and-so, who is on duty, is a terribly decent fellow. It would be well if that kind of thing could be done away with. Keep the public houses open to a reasonable hour so that any decent man can go in and take a drink without being worried as to what Guard is on duty. I suggest to the Minister that a 9.30 closing on a Saturday night is farcical. It was introduced during the period of the British régime. At that time the majority of workers were paid on a Saturday night, but now, so far as industrial workers are concerned, most of them are now paid on a Friday night. I think, in spite of what Deputy Morrissey has said, that a big number of workers in the country are also paid on a Friday night. There is no necessity at all for this 9.30 closing on a Saturday night. As the representative of a rural, constituency, I hope the Minister will accept the amendment.
I do not believe that Deputy Fogarty understands what the full implementation of his suggestion, that there should be uniform opening and closing hours in the county boroughs, urban districts and rural areas, would mean. I gathered from his remarks that his suggestion, if adopted, would, so far as the City of Dublin is concerned, mean that the hours of work for those employed in city premises be extended to 11 o'clock at night. The Deputy in making that suggestion was not, I am sure, conscious of the hardship that it would involve on grocers' assistants. If he were conscious of it, I would remind him that it would be a retrograde step to take at this time, a step which even a foreign Government agreed it would not be in the interests of those engaged in the business, or of the community itself, to take. Whatever may be said for varying the hours in the rural districts, I am absolutely and completely opposed to any extension of the hours of opening in the City of Dublin.
I support the amendment proposed by Deputy McMenamin for the reasons explained by other Deputies. Deputies who represent the rural areas are not concerned with Deputy Hannigan's problem. We are concerned with the people who sent us here. As other Deputies mentioned, to confine the trading hours from 10 o'clock to 10 o'clock in rural areas means, in effect, to confine trading to the period from 9 o'clock to 9 o'clock by watches in the country. Along the western seaboard, it means that, measuring time by the sun, you are closing down the public houses at about 8.30.
I do not want to stress the points which have already been made. It is something gained that the Minister has accepted the proposition that there should be no differentiation between the rural population and the city population as regards the cutting down of hours. Whatever action may be taken as regards the people for whom Deputy Hannigan speaks, I hope the Minister will grant the extra hour to the rural areas. Whatever way the Dublin problem be handled, I think that the Minister ought to accept the principle that 11 o'clock be the closing hour so far as all the rural areas are concerned. Men in the country do not finish work until considerably later than Deputy Daly mentioned. He mentioned 8.30 p.m. My experience is that, during the summer, they work until dark and that is usually later than 8.30.
8.30 old time.
Deputy Daly made a mistake when he mentioned that they finish work at 8.30, new time, and have still half-an-hour to rush in to the local grocery establishments. If he meant that they finished at 8.30, old time, they would not have that half-hour at all.
I was referring to old time.
If the Deputy referred to old time, then the local grocery establishment is closed by the time they cease work. A man using his scythe cannot, in these circumstances, go in and have his pint at the end of his day's work or his week's work. I appreciate what the Minister has said and I know how he must be pressed by the voices of persons who were not able to get many spokesmen here. They are a very important and very influential body but they have a habit of attempting to regulate other persons' lives and there has always been a great deal of pressure in this House to make us do things which we were not entitled to do. There has always been an inclination by these people to get the House to legislate so as to impose on the Gárda what is really the duty of the Churches. It is not the duty of the Gárda Síochána to prevent people from committing sin and that is really the duty which these persons are putting us into the position of imposing on the Gárda Síochána. The job of keeping people from committing sin is, with all respect, the job of the Churches and not of the Gárda Síochána. It is the job of the Gárda to prevent people from committing crime and we must not be over-influenced by those persons, no matter how important they may be in the community, into imposing restrictions on the lives of the ordinary citizen.
I spoke on another Bill here last week on which Deputy Dillon waxed wroth about interference with family life. I refer to the School Attendance Bill. I am sorry that Deputy Dillon is not now present. The School Attendance Act might as well not exist at all so far as 90 per cent. of the population is concerned. They would have carried out the duties imposed upon them by the Legislature in any event. But, in this case, because of a few drunkards or a few "hard-chaws", every member of the population is restricted by licensing legislation. I do not blame the Minister for that; it was his inheritance. There is a good deal of unnecessary restriction on people in connection with what should be an ordinary, essential portion of their freedom. Now that the Minister realises that there should be no differentiation between town and country with regard to reduction of licensing hours, I hope he will go a step farther and extend the time in the country to 11 p.m. to meet the needs of the people there. Further, I hope that he will give the same facilities to every portion of the country in respect of Sunday as the boroughs enjoy at present. However, that matter will be discussed on another amendment.
If the Minister is accepting either of these amendments, I ask him to accept amendment No. 3. I have an open mind on the question, and I sympathise with many of the arguments put up regarding facilities for reasonable refreshment. But there is a grave danger that the extension of the hour will be to the disadvantage of employees in the country. Deputy McMenamin does not specify when work should begin in the morning.
Take the case of a mixed house in the country, carrying on grocery, distribution of newspapers and the liquor business. That class of house employs a number of apprentices. In some just after leaving school. At present, they are working a 14-hour day. They meet the bus at 8 o'clock in the morning and they are selling papers until the pub opens at 10 o'clock.
In country villages.
In your area?
Why do you not look up the Shops Act?
Do you want me to do police duty in all these matters?
Somebody is paid for doing that duty.
I want to get back to the point I was making. If you extend the hour in the evening, the danger is that, in cases where the law is not being carried out as Deputy Davin and we all would desire, apprentices may find themselves working 15 hours instead of 14 hours. If I thought that this amendment would involve these apprentices in greater hardship, I would vote against it if there were a free vote. The Minister for Justice would require to consult the Minister for Industry and Commerce with a view to preventing these abuses if he accepts the amendment. Deputy Davin has been talking tommy-rot. In villages in his own constituency, and up and down the country, he knows that apprentices are being overworked, and he has just as much responsibility in his constituency as I have in mine. His interruption does not take from the arguments I have advanced.
I do not know if Deputy Hannigan, who now sits on the Labour Benches, has taken upon himself the responsibility of making a case for the employees in the licensed trade in the city. If he has taken on himself that responsibility, I should like to ask Deputy Hannigan and any member of his Party who claims to speak on behalf of labour and organised trade unionism whether it is their policy to propagate the limitation of hours in any particular industry or trade? That is entirely different from the question of a working week for any particular section of workers. As a member of this House and a member of the Government Party I made a statement on the Second Reading of this Bill which I repeat—that, having got the 48-hour week, for which this Government is to be thanked, I now look to the men who made that organisation. They are pretty old men now, many of them, and if you limit the hours in that particular trade the men who made that organisation are going to suffer. That is my answer to the young men who may have approached Deputy Hannigan and other Deputies. From the general point of view, I think the licensed trade in Dublin is doing a service in agreeing to operate those hours. Why are they agreeing? Mainly because they hope that the Minister will allowbona fide traffic to operate outside the county borough for at least one hour after the city houses close.
It is because the city traders are concerned with the interests of other property owners outside the county borough that they agreed to operate those hours. So far as the employees are concerned, as I stated on the Second Reading I was president of the employees' organisation, and I always advocated the 48-hour week; it is now the law of the land, and not merely an agreement between employers and employees. I am not prepared to play Party politics on a matter like this which I think is of grave importance to the community. Our main purpose should be to endeavour to bring in legislation which the Guards can operate and, if you oppose this amendment, Deputies on all sides of the House know perfectly well that you are encouraging illegality; you are making a law which we know perfectly well cannot function in practice. I appeal to the Minister to accept one or other of those amendments, preferably of course Deputy O'Loghlen's amendment. I am perfectly sure that Deputy P.J. Fogarty is just as concerned with the interests of the city trade and the city workers as Deputy Hannigan or any other Deputy.
As Deputy Cooney is adopting the line of advocating additional hours of work so far as those assistants are concerned, and has made reference to the 48-hour week, perhaps it may be well to explain to the House how that 48-hour week works. On four days a week those young men work from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with three hours off for meals. On the fifth day they work from 12 noon to 10 p.m., with three hours off. On the sixth day they have a half day off, and on the seventh day they work from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. They have only two evenings off in the week as compared with other shop assistants, who are free every evening from 5.30 p.m. as well as having a half day during the week. I am absolutely amazed at the attitude of Deputy Cooney. I thought he would be the last Deputy in the House to advocate any type of legislation which would injure the young men employed on this particular work.
So I am.
He owes every opportunity he ever got—and I am not suggesting that the Deputy has made the best of his opportunities—to those young men whom he now seeks to injure by advocating this type of retrograde legislation.
I have no experience of the liquor trade, and I am afraid I have as little experience as the Minister himself of public house business; the Minister knows that. We are from the same constituency, and I would appeal to the Minister as a colleague. I am not appealing even on the grounds that the farmer or the agricultural labourer needs a drink after his work. I am not appealing even on that score, although I am not averse to taking a drink myself, an occasional one. But I would appeal to the Minister to consider whether it is fair that the farmer or the farmer's wife or the farmer's son who wants tobacco or a bottle of castor oil from the local grocery shop should find that shop closed at 10 o'clock, summer time. Summer time is not recognised in the country. They do not go by the clock in the country; they go by the sun. They have to save their hay by the sun; they cannot save it by the clock. If the Minister was living in the country himself, and he or some member of his household wanted something urgently from the local grocery shop, would he consider it fair that they should find the shop closed at that hour?
As various Deputies have pointed out, if it is closed at that hour you are going to have illegal trade. I am not saying that the farmer or the agricultural labourer is not entitled to a drink, but I am not making any pleas on that score because I do not think it is really a necessity; but if he does go there for something which he urgently requires, and finds the shop closed, I think it is a very great hardship on him. I do not want to ask the Minister to do anything that is very embarrassing from the legislative point of view. I do not know whether it would be embarrassing in that sense to have different hours in the country, but if he could do it I think it is a reasonable thing to ask, because country hours of work are not at all the same as town and city hours. As Deputy Professor O'Sullivan and various other people have pointed out, by that alteration you are in fact merely leveling up the city and country workers and giving them equal opportunities.
I should like to say to Deputy Cooney that, so far as I know, there is nobody sitting on these benches who wants a discussion on the proposals contained in this Bill for the purpose of playing Party politics. Let him get that out of his head right away. I think he has misunderstood, I suppose unconsciously, the remarks made by Deputy Hannigan. I am very glad that the Minister has agreed, without stipulating hours, to accept the proposal that there should be uniform opening hours in the areas outside the boroughs on week-days, including Saturdays. The only difference there is between the Minister and members, I think, on all sides of the House is in regard to the hours that are to be fixed. I agree with Deputy Brennan, Deputy O'Loghlen and Deputy Linehan; I do not want to repeat what they have said. They have expressed what appears to me to be the viewpoint of reasonable people in the country. Many Deputies in this House would not be able to express so well as Deputy Fionan Lynch has done the viewpoint of perhaps the majority of members sitting on every side of the House. He has said things which we could not say as well, things which are quite correct.
The Minister—this is where I do not agree with him—in speaking on a previous occasion here said that he was not prepared to face up to increasing the facilities for drinking purposes under the terms of this Bill. Mind you, that statement is in conflict with what is contained in the Bill. This Bill, if I have read it correctly, proposes to give increased facilities for drinking purposes to the people who live in the borough areas. In Dublin City, as plainly shown in the Bill, it is proposed to have a split hour, and to increase the number of hours from three hours on a Sunday at present to five hours under the terms proposed in the Bill, while at the same time the Bill in other sections proposes to restrict facilities for drinking in rural areas. I am not prepared to accept that line of policy and I do not think anything that has happened in this country between the passing of the 1927 Act and the present time would justify the Minister and his supporters in restricting drinking facilities in areas outside the boroughs. I think the proposal contained in the amendment of Deputy O'Loghlen which was supported by Deputy Linehan and others, should receive the careful consideration of the Minister. I hope he will give an undertaking to give it such consideration between now and the next stage of the Bill.
I have very deep sympathy with the views of the Minister in regard to extending facilities for drinking generally. I think there is a very big volume of opinion in the country which is opposed, and rightly opposed, to drinking, particularly drinking to excess. It must be remembered, however, that this amendment in one sense does not increase drinking facilities because, at the moment, we have drinking facilities in connection with thebona fide trade and these facilities the Minister intends to continue under this Bill up to 11 o'clock, as he proposes to amend the Bill. Therefore, drinking facilities will exist up to 11 o'clock, even when this Bill is passed, as the Minister visualises it, but these facilities will not be as satisfactory as if public houses were completely open. Much has been said about the viewpoint of those who stand for increased temperance in the country. I have taken the opportunity to consult one of the ablest advocates of temperance in the provinces and his viewpoint might be summed up briefly in these words: “Give those who require drink reasonable facilities and reasonable hours, but if you have the public houses open during reasonable hours, when they are closed, let them be closed completely.” In other words, his viewpoint was that the bona fide traffic should be completely abolished.
I think the Minister has agreed to extend the hours under this Bill up to 11 o'clock, in as much as he is allowing facilities forbona fide travellers up to 11 o'clock. I think it would be in the best interests of all concerned, the trade and the public, and it would also prevent abuses to have public houses completely open up to 11 o'clock, instead of having one hour from 10 to 11 o'clock when the shop door would be closed while drinking was still taking place inside. To have the public houses open when they are supposed to be open, and closed when they are supposed to be closed, is the reasonable solution of the problem. The whole question is what constitutes reasonable hours for opening and closing. I think the reasonable hours for opening are those when people are out and about. That would be, in the summer time, up to 11 o'clock, official time. After that, let the public houses be completely closed during the hours when normal people are in bed. I think that this amendment, therefore, is quite reasonable, and will make for more satisfactory conditions and less abuses.
Might I suggest that as the Minister has expressed his intention of fixing uniform hours, the discussion is now more or less in the air until the Minister's proposals take definite shape; and that amendment No. 2 might be withdrawn and the others not moved? Of course when the Minister's proposals have been tabulated, Deputies could——
Could the amendment be considered in Committee?
That is a question for the Minister.
Listening to the debate, I expected someone to come to my help but I have got no aid at all. The only Deputies who objected to the extension did so, not on principle, but because the people engaged in the trade themselves, those working in it, did not want to have to work late hours. Being a Minister in a democratic Government, naturally I have to take some notice of what has been said on both sides of the House. I was hoping that we might get a compromise. If I agreed to a closing hour of, say, 10.30 p.m. and to have that general throughout the country, would Deputies accept it? In respect to the viewpoint expressed by Deputy Lynch, I fully appreciate that what he said was largely right.
We all realise that we cannot legislate the people into sainthood but he must bear in mind that other Governments, which had no intention of doing that, found it necessary to impose restrictions on the sale of intoxicating liquor. I have found a certain code, which I thought was a very good code, in the 1927 Act. There were a few small things in that Act which required adjustment but my one big aim was to wipe out abuses. That could not be done without amending the provisions in that Act in regard tobona fide travellers. If it were only genuine travellers were concerned, I would not have attempted to restrict the facilities provided for them but we are all aware that, not alone in Dublin and Cork, but in every town in the country these facilities had been abused. People left the public houses in a town at the closing hour and then went a few miles outside and started drinking again. I say that was never legal but the Gárda could not prove that these people went outside merely for the purpose of getting drink. That was the reason that prompted me to attempt to restrict facilities for bona fide travellers.
Even if I have got no support here on principle, I have got some support for other reasons. Deputies have expressed concern here about the interests of employees in the licensed trade if the hours are extended. I think Deputy Cooney answered that point very well when he said that if the employees had a 48-hour week, they did not appear to have very much grievance. On that point I should like to make a reservation as regards Sunday work. It may be prejudice on my part, being an old hurler myself—I think I am entitled to have my prejudices as well as everybody else—but I am impressed by the statements that these employees could not have a game of hurling in Dublin or other cities if the new hours were put into operation. I think that would be a very bad thing. Apart from that, nobody has supported me in my stand against an extension of the opening hours. Seeing that there is a demand for it I offer the House half-an-hour on the hours proposed in the Bill, namely 10.30 p.m. If Deputies would accept that, I am prepared to bring in an amendment to give effect to it.
There is just one point I should like to put before the Minister, that he might add half-an-hour to Saturday nights and make the hours uniform for every night.
I would make the closing hour the same on Saturday night as every other night in the week, except Sunday.
Does the Minister mean 10.30 p.m. the whole year round?
I would say so.
Does the Minister intend that that should apply to Dublin as well?
I think we should have it general. There is such a demand for an extra hour that I feel I must give way on that. I mean to have the whole country on the same hour. It would be too difficult otherwise. There are boundaries everywhere at present and there are places on the very border line, no matter how far out the border is pushed. I think the House agrees with me in this. The debate has been a healthy one and Deputies have not been afraid to say what they think. I agree with Deputy Lynch that it is a pity some people would not realise that we are making some effort to stop very grave abuses and give us credit for that, instead of expecting impossibilities.
Does the Minister, then, intend to bring in an amendment to make the hours 10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.?
I could not fix the wording now.
I move amendment No.8:—
Before Section 3, in page 2, to insert a new section as follows:—
Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of the Act of 1927 is hereby amended by the insertion therein of the following paragraph:—
"(bb) on any Sunday, before the hour of two o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of six o'clock in the evening".
This amendment has been put down in an effort to remove the abuses which most of us in rural areas know have existed for a considerable time in regard to the sale of drink on Sundays. I expressed the view here in the House, during the discussions on the 1927 Act, that it is intolerable that there should be an exchange of populations on Sundays, to enable one section to get a drink. We all know that that has been going on for a considerable time. The people who want to get drink on a Sunday will get it by the back door or the front door of the nearest public house to the place where they reside; or, if they do not wish to break the law, they will travel by cycle or bus to the distance laid down by the law, to get whatever refreshments they require. I want to see that system done away with. I believe the Minister wishes to have it done away with. The only way to do that is to allow the houses in rural areas in any part of the country to be open for a reasonable period on Sunday, not cutting across Church hours. I am surprised to see Deputy Joseph Kennedy looking at me with an expression which makes me feel that he is going to lash me for making such a suggestion. The same abuses have been going on for a number of years in my constituency as I know to exist in his and in every other constituency throughout the country.
If the Minister can see his way to agree to a general opening for a limited period on Sunday, the only question left for decision by the House is as to what is regarded as a reasonable period and what are the most suitable hours. I have heard some Deputies—colleagues of my own who sit on the opposite side of the House— suggest Sunday opening between 12.30 and 2. Personally, I believe that anybody who wants a drink should take it only after the day's work has been done. I try to live up to that myself and I am not speaking here as a teetotaller or as one who would deprive anybody of what I think I would be reasonably entitled to get myself. It appears to me that, in the rural areas, the people go on Sunday to early Mass at 8 or 9 or to late Mass at 11 or 12. In their own interests, I would give these people an opportunity to go home and look after their business—and in the rural areas people have business to do on Sundays as well as on week-days. Then, if they require refreshments and if they have time to go and look for them, it would be reasonable for them to do that between 2 and 6—the hours I have mentioned in the amendment standing in my name and in that of Deputy Keyes. I know it is the Minister's intention to provide hours of that kind for those who require refreshment in the borough areas. The Minister has proposals in this Bill making it possible for public houses in borough areas to be open between 1 and 2 and between 3 and 7, thereby increasing from three to five the number of existing drinking hours on Sunday.
In the rural areas there are football and hurling matches and other forms of amusement on Sunday afternoon, and it is only reasonable and right—though Deputy Allen may disagree—that the people who gather to attend such sporting functions should have the same rights as the people who attend such functions in the borough areas. I have gone to almost every hurling and football match held in Dublin for the past 35 years and I have taken part in the games played in city and country; and I challenge anyone listening to me to say that, either in the City of Dublin or in provincial towns like Thurles, Waterford, Kilkenny, Portlaoighise or Tullamore, or in other areas where hurling and football matches are played, and where the public houses are open for more than three hours— sometimes for five and six hours—there has been any excessive drinking. Of course, the Minister has information over a long period from the Gárda authorities on this matter. May I ask him to say whether, on the basis of the information in his possession, any serious reports have been submitted to him since the passing of the 1927 Act to justify an allegation that excessive drinking has taken place in provincial towns where hurling and football matches were played and where licensed houses were open for four, five or six hours on a Sunday? Licensed houses are open on Church holidays and I have never seen any excessive drinking, or any sign of it, in the towns, villages or cities on Church holidays.
I am delighted that the Minister accepts the proposal of uniformity of opening in regard to week-days, including Saturdays. I am asking the Minister to accept the same kind of proposal in regard to Sunday. If there is justification for the opening of licensed houses in the borough areas between 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock, and 3 o'clock and 7 o'clock, or whatever hours are finally agreed upon by the House on Sundays in these areas, I do not see why the people in provincial towns and in rural areas should not get the same facilities.
There is another reason that I am prepared to give, but perhaps Deputies may not agree with me in this matter. If you have Sunday opening in the areas outside the boroughs. I believe many people who now have to do shopping on week-days and who, perhaps, by so doing, waste valuable time in the summer months and in the busy periods of the year, would do their shopping on Sundays instead of being compelled to do it on the week-days as at present.
Deputy Allen, who has a one-track mind on this question, is laughing at me, but I think he knows as well as I do that in his area the houses where drink is sold in the rural districts are houses that will fit in with the description given by Deputy Kennedy, houses where they carry on a mixed business, including the sale of drink. If the farmer or his wife or any member of his family wants to do shopping, less time will be lost by doing it on Sunday if facilities of the kind suggested are agreed to.
I make the case in favour of this proposal that it will do away with existing abuses in the rural areas which we all deplore. I am not speaking for other members of the Party when I say that I would be prepared to wipe out thebona fide traffic on Sunday for the purpose of getting an amendment of this kind accepted. I believe if the suggestion contained in the amendment were adopted, it would be easier for the Guards to administer the law. I believe the law would be administered in a more efficient manner if you had a general opening on Sunday of the kind suggested in the amendment. I hope that the Minister, having agreed to uniformity of opening on week-days in every part of the country, will accept the same principle in regard to Sundays. I hope that he will accept this amendment. Whether the opening be for three or four hours is a matter of indifference to me, so long as he agrees to the principle of uniformity and allows a reasonable period of opening to accommodate those people who are entitled to reasonable refreshments on Sunday.
I am very grateful that the Minister took the line he did as regards general hours of opening. It got over the first great obstacle that this Bill represented in the minds of most of us. Now, I shall ask him to weaken a little bit further, to give way a little bit in regard to Sundays. I fear he is somewhat adamant in regard to Sundays.
I think I have reached about the end of the slippery slope and I do not think I could go any further.
There is a strong case to be made for Sundays. It is not so much a question as to whether we should get an opening on Sundays as well as the boroughs; it is the way the Sunday openings have been utilised in the country. Under Section 16 of the 1927 Act, if a football match, a carnival or any other function, was to be held in a country town on Sunday, the Gárda superintendent was entitled to go to the district justice and say that in his opinion the Gárdaí might not be able to cope with the situation properly, and in order to enable the Gárdaí to carry out their duties an area exemption order would be necessary. Such an order would then be given for that area. In three towns in the western portion of my constituency, Millstreet, Kanturk and Newmarket, it has invariably been the habit of the local superintendent on such occasions to apply for an area exemption order and the public houses have been allowed to open for certain hours on Sundays. I do not think the superintendent or any of the Gárdaí or even the justice could ever say they were sorry over the granting of the facilities asked. Conditions were much more orderly because of the permission granted to open the public houses. If you had not those facilities for opening on Sundays on such occasions, what would it mean? I suggest that instead of people going into the public houses for a couple of hours, the 5,000 or 6,000 people who would attend the football match or other function would be chasing each other up every laneway and in every back-door, looking for a drink, and get it they would.
The chief point I want to make in connection with this amendment is that we should, in this Bill, aim at framing legislation that the people will be prepared to obey. I believe that reasonable facilities should be given in the country districts. One of the greatest advancements in social legislation in this country would be to get the idea out of the heads of people that there is nothing wrong in breaking the licensing laws. Unfortunately, there are many people who feel that no harm is done if they break those laws. If you can insert provisions in licensing legislation that will make the people feel that when they go beyond the code they are definitely doing something wrong, then you will have made a good step forward. I should like the Minister to consider the experience of Gárda superintendents in cases where they have obtained exemption orders. He should ask them whether they are satisfied with the results that have been achieved.
There ought not to be differentiation between the rural areas and the boroughs. There are certain small towns that do not come under the classification of boroughs or towns with a population over 5,000. They are towns situated in the tourist areas, small seaside resorts, shooting or fishing centres. The people who go there have not the same facilities in the matter of drinking as they would have in Dublin or Cork. It is unreasonable to expect that these areas would be so restricted when their opposite numbers in the boroughs have facilities. I doubt if it can be contended successfully that, if the Minister grants the opening hours on Sundays, it will lead to increased drinking in the rural areas. I suggest that if there is Sunday opening in the country there will, in fact, be less drinking. The case has been made that on holidays, such as the 29th June, the 15th August and 1st November, days on which the people in the country normally do not work, they never seem to bother about going into the public houses, although these are open. On the other hand, when the public houses are closed on Sundays, there are many people who will succeed in some way in getting drink.
I doubt if there will be any excessive drinking if country public houses are allowed to open on Sundays for a reasonable period. I suggest it will improve the status both of the public houses and the people who go into them if you have reasonable hours of opening. It will certainly remove one objectionable feature. Everybody knows that people who are anxious to have a drink will get into the public houses in the country on Sunday. There may be four or five men together. They will have an eye on the public house door and also an eye on what may happen if they do not get out in time. Five or six of them enter the public house and they have five or six drinks in a very short space of time. If the public houses were open, five or six of the them would not go in together; one or two might, and they would spend half-an-hour over a few drinks and then they would leave. The existing practice is definitely bad.
As regards the Sunday opening, it is hard to find people in agreement about the hours. Deputy Davin mentioned that we should not interfere with Church services. Some people would like an hour in the morning, others an hour at midday, and there are more who would favour a few hours in the evening. I think 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock in the evening, speaking in terms of summer time, would be suitable. I do not approve of the suggestion of opening from 2 o'clock to 6 o'clock. When hurling or football matches are held in the cities, I would be as well pleased to see the public houses closed for ordinary trade during that period, from 3 o'clock to 5 o'clock. I think the natural hours would be the hour before dinner and a couple of hours before people have their tea. If those hours were given in the country districts, I think there would be fairly general agreement. I have an open mind as to what the opening hours should be. I would be satisfied if some hours were granted on Sundays. I would not like to press the Minister if I thought he would move further down the slippery slope in regard to Sunday opening.
I put this last plea to the Minister. He has gone a long way already in his agreement on the question of hours to make this Bill a good one, and he has now the opportunity of making it a very good one. He has now the opportunity of getting everybody in the country with the possible exception of cranks to agree that in general this will be a very good licensing Bill if he gives way on the question of Sunday opening. The Minister said that the cranks have nobody to raise his voice for them in the House—these people who, as Deputy Lynch said, would regulate everybody else's life—but I do not think these cranks could make a case against Sunday opening. I should be much happier in making my case for it if there was somebody in the House who represented these people and who was prepared to say why they would not give Sunday opening in the country.
If there is any Deputy who thinks there is anything wrong in rural Sunday opening, I should like to hear his reasons. I can see only two reasons. One is that it might increase drinking in the country and I should be prepared to meet any Deputy, or anybody else, inside or outside the House, and argue that point. The only other objection would be an objection from the point of view of religious services and if the hours are arranged in a reasonable manner there could be no such objection. But if there is still a type of mentality inside or outside the House which believes that because you give people in the country reasonable facilities they will get drunk, I say that is utter nonsense.
I do not believe that will be suggested; my reason for making the point is that you will get an undercurrent of criticism outside the House from people who are probably quite pleased because the concession has been granted, but who will go around saying: "It is a great pity they made this concession, because there will be murder in the country." I think there is a great case for Sunday opening, and I believe that if the Minister agrees to move further down the slippery slope or, as I would put it, agrees to progress still higher up the ladder of proper licensing legislation, he will make the Bill quite a good one.
I propose to make the case against Sunday opening as one who was reared in the trade and is still in the trade, and I am delighted to be up against Deputy Davin in making that case. I was computing, while Deputy Davin was speaking, the number of assistants behind the bar in the small village I come from. They number eight, and Sunday opening, in effect, will mean that, instead of going to their hurling match or other recreation, these eight assistants will be behind the bar during the hours of sunshine from January to December. For that reason alone, I am opposed to Sunday opening. There are ten public houses in the village I come from and six of them do not open at all forbona fide trade on Sundays. In the case of the others, it is the man and his wife, or the son and daughter, who deal with whatever bona fide trade comes along. What will be the result of an acceptance of this amendment? You will pin down every assistant behind the bar for the seven days of the week. There will be no 48-hour week for them and no trade union in a little village to look after their rights.
What is the Deputy's authority for that?
Common sense and the common knowledge of the country. These assistants will have to work on Sunday as well as on Monday. Deputy Linehan has said that there is less drinking on a Church holiday than on a Sunday. That is all ráimeis and rubbish.
I did not say there was less drinking. I said there was no excessive drinking.
I am sorry; I thought the Deputy said there was less drinking. I have made the point that the majority of these public houses do not open on Sunday. They open on a Church holiday and the aggregate drinking in the village is much greater on a Church holiday than on a Sunday. From my own personal knowledge, we have a far bigger turnover on a Church holiday than on a Sunday—you are going all the time up to the hour of closing at night. That is the case generally. I would far sooner see Deputy Allen's amendment, although I profoundly disagree with his view, by which the Guards would have the right to oppose the licensing of a premises which was abusing thebona fide traffic accepted, than to see this amendment accepted, by which every public house on a Sunday will be open. I said on Second Reading, and I think Deputy Davin will agree with me in this respect, that I would not like to see a trek from the church or chapel to the public house. That is one of the worst things that could happen.
This amendment does not provide for that.
Deputy Linehan said it was immaterial to him what hours were fixed.
I say: "Go home first and get your dinner, and then do your drinking."
I am quite satisfied that the people will do that, if they get the hours.
I say that whatever abuses of thebona fide trade exist—and abuses do exist—they are nothing to what will occur if you open every public house in the rural parts of Ireland on Sunday. In these districts there are not the amenities or recreations which exist around the cities, and instead of going out to the fields, to the lake or to the countryside, men will go into the public house when it is open. On the occasion of a big match in the big towns the public houses have special facilities in respect of opening.
In every town.
Generally it is only those towns of an urban size which apply for the facility. In my county, Mullingar and Athlone are the only places which apply for it. I quite agree that they should get that facility, but what will you do to all the assistants in Mullingar, all these people who go out to Cusack Park for recreation on a Sunday, if you accept this amendment? You will pin them down behind the bar from Christmas to Christmas, and they will have no recreation at all. I therefore oppose the amendment. Bad as the abuses of thebona fide traffic are, they are nothing to what will occur if the Minister accepts it.
I am in entire agreement with Deputy Linehan in supporting this proposition, which is also contained in Deputy McMenamin's amendment, the discussion on which was deferred to this amendment. I have been trying to find out the origin of this differentiation in treatment between the people residing in the boroughs and in the country areas. I cannot understand what the origin of it was. The only thing that occurs to me is that it must have been due to the old feeling with regard to the Pale —that all the people outside the Pale were wild natives, but that inside the Pale you could give facilities which could not be given to the natives outside.
If the Ceann Comhairle were here, he would remember an incident that occurred when the first party was going across to penal servitude after the Rising. The Ceann Comhairle was in my bunch, and I remember as we were passing through some English town, the people rushed up to the escort to ask whether the rebellion had been suppressed, and so on. One young English soldier said in reply to the question: "Yes, it is all right now, but some of the 'ill tribes have not yet been brought in." The attitude of this legislation is to deal with the rural population of this country as "'ill tribes." There can be no case made for it except the fact that it has been in our legislation for a very long period. There is no reason whatever for the differentiation between the boroughs and rural districts. If anything, a better case could be made for these facilities in rural areas than can be made for the boroughs. I think the time has now come when we should cut out the differentiation. In the part of the country to which I belong, quite a number of persons are paid on Sundays. I refer to the fishermen who are paid by the buyers largely on Sundays, and I think that fishermen, after their week's toil, are as much entitled to their bit of relaxation as anybody else.
Apart from that, I entirely agree with Deputy Davin that it would not tend to increase the amount of drinking. It would stop the ridiculous flow, which other Deputies referred to, from one town to another in order to becomebona fide. It would provide facilities for the person who wanted a drink to get a drink in his own neighbourhood and then go home about his business. It would ease matters very considerably for the licensed trade. If the licensed trade in the rural areas had a few hours' opening on Sundays, they could serve the people who wanted a drink and then let them go. I would be inclined to think that a great many traders would refuse to open at all after these hours for any bona fide traffic.
As to the point made by Deputy Kennedy, and also by Deputy Hannigan in reference to the last amendment, I think that in a trade of this kind which is carried on under public legislation and which is to a great extent a public service, the assistants must accept the position that they are public servants, just the same as railwaymen and bus men. These men have to work on Sundays and, so far as I have ever heard, there is no agitation against their hours of work. Any adjustments that would be required with regard to hours could easily be made. But I think the principle of differentiating between the residents in boroughs and the people outside the boroughs is wrong. As we are settling this legislation now for many years to come, I think we should put an end to that differentiation between the rural population and the population in the boroughs.
I want to support the amendment moved by Deputy Davin. I do so, not with the desire of providing additional facilities for drinking on Sundays, but in order that the whole question of intoxicating liquor legislation shall be put on a basis which bears some relation to realities. The present position in respect to the opening hours of public houses in rural areas in relation to the position in the county boroughs is entirely anomalous. This is national legislation. Yet you have a situation arising in which, for instance, a person can get refreshments in Dublin, or in Cork, or in Waterford. But persons living a small distance from these cities are not able to get refreshments in their own towns and must therefore travel by some means into the county boroughs where these facilities are provided for them and for the citizens of these particular cities. Will the Minister say why, for instance, a person can get facilities for refreshments in Dublin on a Sunday and cannot get them in Naas? Is there any reason why persons living in Naas cannot be trusted to conduct them selves in a public house on a Sunday?
Why is there the assumption underlying this legislation that it is only in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick you can trust the people to conduct themselves in a public house on Sunday? I think the present differentiation against persons living in rural areas is entirely indefensible and I should like the Minister to indicate what grounds he considers exist for preventing a person in a rural area from getting facilities for refreshment on Sunday. I am sure the Minister will claim for his own constituents in Roscommon that if the licensed premises in that county were open on Sundays his constituents would behave themselves with just the same propriety as the citizens of this city. Yet the Minister attempts to stand over a piece of legislation which unfairly penalises the residents in rural areas and provides special refreshment facilities for people living in the large cities.
The Minister may try to argue that the opening of licensed premises for four hours on Sundays in rural areas will provide additional drinking facilities. The Minister is surely living in the clouds if he imagines that these licensed premises are not opened on Sundays at present. The Minister can go to any town in Ireland on a Sunday and he will find persons frequenting the public houses in these towns; not between the hours of two and six, as is suggested in the amendment, but that they go into these public houses after Mass. He will even find people in these public houses late on Sunday evening as well. Everybody with eyes in his head knows perfectly well that that happens in provincial towns all over the country and in rural areas.
The amendment seeks, however, to put the legislation on some kind of an equitable basis. It proposes to provide four hours' facilities in these rural areas, and I do not believe that there is any likelihood that our people will abuse the facilities which would be made available during that short opening period. I think the Minister ought to recognise that, by allowing licensed premises in rural areas to open on Sundays for the short period of four hours, he is really providing a facility which he admits is necessary in certain cities. If the Minister were to provide that facility in the rural areas, I think he would do much more to regulate thebona fide traffic and to put our intoxicating liquor legislation on a sound basis than he will by refusing to provide that facility for the people in rural areas.
Look at the anomaly which exists at present. If, for instance, a person in Newbridge wants to get a drink on a Sunday all he has to do is to cycle into Naas where he can get all the drink he wants. If a person in Naas wants to get a drink on a Sunday, all he has to do is to cycle to Newbridge. In that way you have a change-over of the population in order to get behind the present stupid restriction on opening in rural areas on Sundays. I think the Minister might very well recognise that there is a strong case for opening for a short period in rural areas on Sundays. If the Minister meets that demand, which I think is founded on reason and equity, and which seeks to eliminate the present differentiation to the disadvantage of the rural dweller, I think he will be taking a more effective step in the way of improving thebona fide and licensing legislation, than by ignoring the strength of the demand which exists at present for a short opening on Sundays.
On the Second Reading of this Bill I supported Sunday opening for the rural districts, and I say, frankly, to the Minister that if he is not prepared to give the same facilities to the rural population as are given in the Cities of Dublin and Cork, to enable them to have a drink on Sunday, he should close down the public houses in Dublin City and Cork City. Let us have an end to class legislation here in this country. We have had too much of it. I do not know what is wrong with Deputy Kennedy, but I can understand his attitude. I spent a couple of days in the County Westmeath, and the men there do not want a couple of hours on a Sunday to drink at all, because they drink the whole time. They only work for about two months in the year, saving a crop of hay, or something like that, and they have the rest of the year to drink. They have no trouble there. I should say that the publicans in Castlepollard would probably get more trade than the publicans in Mullingar on a Sunday in the course of ordinary trade.
However, what I want really is to see some fair reason being given that entitles any Minister in a national Parliament in this country to class the rural population of the country as some kind of highwaymen who are not to be trusted, whereas the civil servants in Dublin City must get their drink. According to this kind of legislation, the people of Dublin City and Cork City are allowed to come into the scheme, but the rest of us are not to be trusted, and that is what has turned the licensing laws of this country into a joke—an ordinary, common joke. I will guarantee to the Minister that he cannot show me one Gárda station in the rural portions of any of the TwentySix Counties where the Gárdaí are able to enforce the liquor laws, and the reason for that is that it is practically impossible for a man to enforce a law that he himself knows to be wrong, and where the people will not co-operate with him. After all, there is little enough drink now left for the country people, without having the city topers coming out when they are finished drinking in the city. I am saying this as one who does not drink.
I say that this is an unjust law and, frankly, I will not vote for any Bill that casts such a slur on me or my constituents, because I think that they are just as much entitled to a drink on a Sunday as the city people are. Quite frankly, I could not stand for such legislation, so far as my constituents are concerned. Can the Minister give me any reason why a loafer, living in No. 40 of some particular street in a city, can walk in next door, to No. 41, and get all the drink he wants? That man can leave at 2.30 and then come back at 3.30 and stop in the pub until it closes, whereas the countryman cannot get a drink at all. The ordinary, hard-working farmer or farm labourer in the country has to get up on his bicycle and cycle a few miles, or walk it, in order to get the same facilities.
I understood the Minister to say, on the Second Reading of this Bill, that one of the reasons for this was that these people should be able to get a drink in their own district, and I am asking him now to give the ordinary farmers or farm labourers, who are working, not for the 48 hours a week that the city workers do, but the whole week long, including Sundays and Church holidays, the same facilities as are given to the city workers. I am referring to the unfortunate fellow who, with the spade and shovel, the plough and the harrow, and so on, is producing food for the drones of this country, and I think that such people should be given the same facilities as the Minister is giving to the drones by this legislation. We are entitled to a fair crack of the whip and to fair play. I can make that plea as a teetotaller, as one who does not drink, but one who knows what his constituents require. Men have to come to milk the cows on a Sunday afternoon, and they have no way of getting a drink in peace and comfort.
There are two sides to this picture, and that is definitely one side of it. That is the side of the rural population, and we will not stand for class legislation here, because we had enough of that before. This country is bigger than Dublin City and bigger than Cork City, and we should consider the rural population, because they are entitled to consideration. The Minister has told us that he is a democrat and that this is a democratic country, but surely to heaven, if the Gárdaí are giving him any reports at all as to the operation of the licensing laws in the rural areas, he must realise that, so far as Sunday trading is concerned, these laws are just an ordinary, common joke. They are not observed, and nobody expects them to be observed. Is the Minister going to perpetuate that kind of thing? I would say that if this were left to a free vote of the House, there would not be 20 men voting against the rural population not being entitled to the same facilities as the city population. The Minister must know that, and if this is going to be democratic rule, let him enforce it and give us those facilities. If it is right that a city public house should be allowed to remain open from 1 to 2 o'clock and from 3 to 7 o'clock on a Sunday, then the same facilities should be given to the countryman, and he should not be asked to cycle or walk three or four miles on a Sunday in order to enjoy a pint of porter in peace. It is unjust and unfair, and I am sure that the Minister is the last man to impose an injustice on any man if he could avoid it. I appeal to him to consider the whole position and not let the little whispers of nine or ten cranks in this country prevent him from giving fair play.
I am not a drinking man myself, but I have sympathy with the man who wants a pint, and who wants to have it in peace and comfort, and, incidentally, they will get their drink in spite of all the Guards, whether they come down through the roof or any other way. This thing is only nonsense, and it is only making the Guards unpopular in the areas where they try to enforce the law. It is creating a situation in which the laws of this country are held in contempt and ignored. That is what is happening, and I appeal to the Minister to give fair play and abolish this idea of class legislation. Goodness knows, it has been going on long enough, and I suppose it could be traced back to this matter of the hill tribes, to which Deputy Fionán Lynch referred, where the citizens of cities like Dublin and Cork were specially favoured, and the so-called hill tribes were outside the law. Let us have an end to this thing of having special laws for one section of the community. It is unfair and unjust, and nobody wants it. If a plebiscite were taken in the morning, not 5 per cent. of the people in this country would vote for the total closing of the public houses on Sunday. This is only perpetuating a rotten law. Evidently, when the 1927 Act was brought in somebody was too lazy to remove this injustice from the Statute Book. It is an injustice on the rural population— a rotten injustice—and the time has come when it should be wiped out, once and for all.
I would appeal to the Minister to make up his mind that whatever law is put on the Statute Book will be obeyed. I am sure the Minister, if he reflects on this matter, will see that the law will not be obeyed and cannot be respected if public houses in the country are closed by law on Sunday. In spite of all laws, it has been the practice, at least as long as I remember, for people to do a good deal of shopping on Sundays, especially after 12 o'clock Mass. Even though there was not much drink served, some drink was consumed. The woman might have a bottle of lemonade; the young fellow might have a bottle of lemonade; somebody else would have a bottle of stout or a pint. The shopkeeper was always afraid of his life, while that was going on, that the Gárda would come long. Sometimes, the person who was doing that trade was brought to the court. There has been a lot of confusion about it. But if you do not allow public houses to open on Sunday you will have that sort of thing going on all during the whole day on Sunday. In regard to about 40 or 50 per cent. of public houses there has been illegal trading. Perhaps the other 50 or 60 per cent. of publicans were well-to-do, who did not depend entirely on the drink business and did not do an illegal trade. Forty or 50 per cent. did an illegal trade and drink was served during the whole day on Sunday, perhaps from 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning until 10 or 11 at night, in spite of anything the Guards might do. The Minister can help to do away with that by allowing public houses to open on Sunday. I do not altogether agree with Deputy Davin's suggestion that it should be a four-hour opening, from 2 to 6 o'clock. I am looking at it from the point of view of what happens in my part of the country, and I hold that there should be an opening from about one to two, after last Mass, in all the small country towns and villages, so as to give the people that I have referred to a chance of doing their shopping.
Then there should be a break so that the people—especially the young fellows—will go home to their dinner; and then have a three- or four-hours' opening later on. That would also serve the purpose as regards hurling matches and any other amusements. It has been my experience—and I think every other Deputy in the House will admit it—that if you go to a strange parish on Sunday to see some people, the first place you are invited to is the public house. The publican gets afraid and is told it is all right when there is a Deputy present, that the sergeant will not want to see him. If the public house is allowed to open for an hour, and afterwards for a few hours, it would do away with all these illegalities and it would give the Guards a chance of doing their duty. It would also give every decent publican a chance of doing his duty. A publican must try to oblige his customers even though it is against the law, especially when it has become the rule, as it has for a number of years. I think it was Deputy Kennedy referred to Church holidays and said that the turnover on Church holidays in public houses was greater than on other days. Naturally, it should be, because on Church holidays nearly all farmers go into the village or town to do their business, and naturally they spend a good few shillings here and there. Closing on Sundays does a lot of harm to the poor labouring man or the poorer sections of the farming community who have only a few shillings to spend on Sunday. He has no time before 10 o'clock at night during the week to have a drink. Perhaps he has not the price of it. He tries to have a few shillings for tobacco and drink on Sunday. He has no means of going to pictures. He does not want to travel a mile or two to see his neighbour. His only chance of relaxation is to go to the public house on Sunday, where he can get a couple of pints and have a chat with his friends. If he is not allowed to do that under the law, he will go to the public house and, as I think Deputy Corry mentioned, he will get his pint while somebody is at the door watching the Guard. He will swallow that pint and get another. That does him much more harm than if he could sit down with his friends and have a few drinks. I am not concerned about Dublin, but I would appeal to the Minister to grant the same facilities to the country as he grants in Dublin. I think he has gone a good way in the Bill but unless he allows some opening on Sunday he is not going to have the law observed. The law will be broken, no matter what the Guards do. The Guards will not feel like enforcing the law. The decent publican will not be able to have the law observed and it will give a chance to the tippler and the fellow who loves drink to continue breaking the law.
I presume you are dealing with amendment No. 17 as well as amendment No. 8. Is that so?
Amendment No. 17 is in my name, and is to the effect that the facilities in the city should obtained in the entire country. Having listened to the discussion here, I do not propose to proceed with that amendment, but to support amendment No. 8, simply for the reason that I was influenced by the attitude of the shop assistants in the City of Dublin, and the fact that the hours that are set down in amendment No. 8 for opening on Sundays are straight hours, from 2 to 6 o'clock. I believe that to satisfy the consumer, the publican and the assistants, the hours in the City of Dublin should be 2 to 6—a straight run, with no break. I appeal to the Minister to have the same hours in the country. He has made provision in the Bill forbona fide trade between the hours of 1 and 8, but the amendment means that the facilities that exist in the four county boroughs should be granted in the country areas. I maintain—and I have maintained on the Second Reading of the Bill—that the Mullingar man is as much entitled to have a drink in Mullingar between 2 and 6 p.m. as the Dublin man is to have a drink in the City of Dublin.
The only person who put up some argument against Sunday opening was Deputy Kennedy. I had the good luck to be in Deputy Kennedy's premises in Castlepollard where, if I mistake not, he has a hotel. Hotels have greater facilities than other premises, as local people can go into them to have a substantial meal and all the drink they want. I am not saying that that was the case in Castlepollard.
The Deputy is misinformed. I have no hotel.
Well, I ate and drank in a hotel.
Then the Deputy was breaking the law.
In country districts there has not been any abuse of the licensing laws. An increased amount of money may have been taken by licensed traders, but no Deputy can say, and the Minister cannot show by statistics, that there has been excessive drinking in villages. I am sure the Minister realises what a farce it is to have men walking from Rathcoole to Tallaght to get a drink on Sunday, and meeting men half-way from the other end on the same errand. The natural inclination of some people, with present drinking facilities, is to try to get drink. They will know that a certain Guard is on duty, that the sergeant is away, and that the Guard will walk to the other end of the town while they slip into the public house. When dinner is over on Sunday the incentive is for people to take a bus, or to cycle to some place over the border line and to stay there until 8 o'clock at night. The ordinary man, when he is finished his dinner, should be able to go to a public house for a drink, and perhaps play a game of darts. Why should a man in Donabate who can afford to pay a subscription of three guineas to a golf club, or a man in Killarney who can afford to pay a subscription of three guineas to a golf club, be able to go to these places and to bring in lady friends to have a drink, while the ordinary working man is not permitted to go into a public house? I suggest that there would be less drinking and less abuse if people in the different localities were permitted to have a drink on Sundays between the hours of 2 and 6 o'clock, which I hope will be the hours for the city houses. The Minister has, I hope, learned a good deal since the Bill was introduced. If some Deputies would not feel comfortable at a public house bar that is no reason why the ordinary countryman should not make himself comfortable. I hope that people will be able to have a drink in their own districts, if they want it, and not have to walk three miles to get it.
Unless legislation of this kind is very carefully handled it may lead to very grave abuses. I consider the restrictions already in force have gone too far, and that our attitude generally towards the sale of intoxicating liquor is too strict. The proposal to differentiate between inhabitants in large centres of population and those in other places is an illustration in point. I have not had an opportunity of looking at the Constitution, but certainly it is an infringement of the spirit of the Constitution to prohibit a man in the country from having a drink at the same time as a man in the city can have it. Another illustration would be if a book was in question and if censorship would only operate in a country district. That is similar to the present proposal. It is something like imposing one kind of taxation in the country and a different form of taxation in the city. I am altogether opposed to making any differentiation between people living in the city and the country. An additional point, as regards my constituency, and I am sure there are other constituencies also affected, concerns what I am glad to say is the growing holiday traffic. Many of our holiday resorts which are becoming more important are situate in rural areas. There is no reason why persons who go on holidays to these places should not have facilities for having a drink on Sundays, particularly on a wet afternoon. Such facilities would add to the attractiveness of these places. I do not think there is any argument in favour of suggesting preferential treatment for one place and not for another place.
I will support the amendment. I fail to see why there should be any differentiation in the treatment of citizens of the State in one district more than another. I have always resented the attitude of people who look upon rural residents with eyes of suspicion and as being inferior beings. There is that type which looks on rural residents as not being at all on a par with city dwellers. It is also quite common to regard the agricultural labourer as not being a skilled worker.
When preparing legislation for the country generally I do not see why there should be preferential treatment for one class of citizen as against another class. So far the amendment has met with support with, perhaps, one exception. Is the Minister prepared to accept the amendment now? All the arguments have been in its favour. Many Deputies referred to the inability of the Guards to enforce the present licensing laws. Everybody knows that the Guards are unable to do so because the laws are ridiculous. Laws that cannot be enforced should not be on the Statute Book. If we had a regiment of people they could not catch the culprits who break the licensing laws, and accordingly it is hopeless to expect a few Guards to do it. Everybody knows that the law is being flagrantly broken. There is every inducement to break it, when it differentiates between residents in rural districts and town dwellers. In the case of Dublin, Limerick or Cork there is every inducement for a person who wants to get drink illegally on Sunday to go three miles to get it. The local publican says to himself that he might as well have that man's shilling as the city publican, so that what he is prevented by law from doing he does underhand. It is human nature. He reasons that the law is unfair to him, and that, if it will not do him justice, then he is going to do justice to himself.
There is another point to be considered, the effect that the present law has on the man who wants a drink. I hold that a man in the rural area is just as well able to conduct himself as the city dweller, and if the law considers that it is a good thing for the city dweller to be able to have a drink on a Sunday, I do not see why the man in the rural district should not be entitled by law to the same facility. No evidence has, so far, been produced that the man in the rural district is not able to conduct himself as well as the city dweller when he takes a drink. In fact, everything points to the contrary. One of the main reasons, so far as I know, why this Bill was brought forward was because a certain section of city dwellers were not able to conduct themselves. Because of that it has been found necessary to propose that certain disabilities should be inflicted on the rest of the population. That was the argument that was made when this Bill was brought forward, that city dwellers were not able to conduct themselves.
I never said city dwellers. I said that what I had to complain of was general all over the country. I repeat that now, and, what is more, every Deputy knows it to be so. When I made that assertion I saw heads nodding all around.
I unhesitatingly accept what the Minister says of what he intended to say or did say. I know that he would not wilfully mislead the House in anything. We all know that if a local man wants a drink he will get it somewhere. If he can get it locally he will go to the local "pub" for it, and will take one or perhaps two drinks if he is accompanied by a friend. If that is not possible he will go to the nearest city. On the way there he will probably be joined by some others, so that there will be several rounds of drink, all of them coming home in the best of humour in the evening. They will have left all their money with the city publican. That is an unfair and an unjust law. We ought to recognise it as such. No case has been made for the retention of that section in the original Act in this Bill. I hope that in this measure we are making a final attempt to draft legislation to control the drink traffic. We should make the law such that it will be obeyed. To the knowledge of everybody the present licensing laws are being flagrantly violated. The framers simply laid down conditions that were an inducement to people to break the law. I support the amendment.
I would like to see in operation here a set of licensing laws that would have the approval and support of the average citizen, and that would then be ruthlessly carried out by the officers in the service of the State. What is happening at present, and what has happened in the past is this: If the police in town or village are to do their normal job efficiently as policemen, the job of preventing and detecting crime, they have to be on good terms with the public in their area. The common sense of the Guards and of the ordinary citizen would regard it as unreasonable to have a person, who got into a licensed house on a Sunday and had one drink, taken into custody and brought before the court. The Guards feel that. As well as the Guards, every reasonable person in that area would say: "Ah, could you not have let him in for a drink; what is the harm in a man having one drink?"
There is no use in talking about the law, since if that man lived in the city he could drink for three hours on a Sunday afternoon, and do that within the law. People are not fools. They could never see any just case for that differentiation between the country and the city. The view of the Guards, men of common sense, coincided with that of the average man, and when they saw a man trying to get a drink on a Sunday they just walked the other way.
If the Minister, by sticking to the present legal position, is under the impression that there is no drinking going on in the country, or that there is no drinking going on all over the country on Sunday, then he does not know the country. Whether or not the Minister legislates to have an opening all over the country for two or three hours on Sunday will not affect, by one bottle of stout, the amount of drink that is consumed in the country on Sunday. If people are going to consume drink on a Sunday, or on any other day, I would rather see them consume that drink in the local house where the proprietor will know them and their wives as customers in his shop. He will have some interest in those individuals. He will also be interested in not antagonising their wives and losing their custom. What is happening, as things are, is that people who want a drink go to the next town for it, and simply because they have cycled three or six miles they say to themselves that it was never worth while doing that just to take one drink or two. They make a whole day of it, and sometimes a whole night of it. I believe that for those who want a drink the present laws are an inducement to take drink to excess. No man is going to travel seven or eight miles just to take one drink and go home again. If he goes that journey then, according to his lights, he is going to get value for the journey. If the local public house were open on a Sunday for a reasonable time it would prevent all this transfer of population, of men going from one town to another to get drink.
I would not quite subscribe to the full terms of the amendment. If there is to be Sunday opening, taking into account that Sunday is an idle day, and that in the country you have not the same amount of counter attractions on that day that you have in the cities, I think that a set term of four continuous hours of opening would be overlong. Some reasonable concession should, I think, be made in regard to the country. Now that the point has arisen there is, I believe, a responsibility on the Minister to justify the differentiation between the town and the country. There is a responsibility on him, in piloting this Bill through Parliament, to justify historically, or on class or conduct lines, why it is perfectly legitimate for anybody living in certain zones of the country to walk into a licensed house and drink there, within the law, for a defined number of hours, and why a man living outside that zone is breaking the law by doing likewise. There has got to be justification for that discrimination. It may be said that you have a number of people going to and coming from the city. Those people have been met by the hours forbona fide traffic. They were always in a position to get a drink. I cannot see justification for the discrimination. I do honestly believe that if people are to drink—and the man who wants a drink will get it in spite of any law—it is better they should drink in their home area, where they are known to the proprietor and to the shop assistant and where it is in the interest of the man who owns the house and the man who works in the house to see that the customer does not go home in such a condition as to bring the wrath of the woman of the house and other members of the family down on the place where he was drinking. I should far rather see people drinking in their own area than doing as they are doing at present, and as they have done in the past—taking a bus, a tram, a car or a bicycle and going off to the next town where nobody has any interest in them and they are, comparatively speaking, unknown. I think that there is a sound case for some facilities for the people living in the country. I think that the demand for four hours is slightly too much, but there is a case for a reasonable opening period on Sundays in the country. There will, then, be more public opinion behind the Gárda in dealing with the trader who infringes the law.
Many Deputies mentioned that anybody who wants a drink after late Mass will get it. The Minister may not feel comfortable standing against a public house counter, but he never got where he is without occasionally standing against a public house counter after a meeting down the country. I am sure that the Minister never experienced any more difficulty than I did in treating a few friends after a country meeting on Sunday.
Strange as it may seem, that never happened in my case. I do not say that I object to it.
The Minister will not go so far as to say that it never will happen.
It never did happen.
The Minister knows as well as I do that if he meets a few friends down the country and desires to stand them a drink, he has no difficulty in doing so.
I have never tried it.
That is so in every village, and the reason is that members of the community and members of the Gárda Síochána regard the restrictions on the country as against the city as unreasonable. The Gárda feel that public opinion would not be behind them in carrying out the present law. It has been stated here that anybody who wants a drink after late Mass is able to get it. I should rather see people having their midday meal and then having a drink or two than having a drink before their midday meal —provided that the hours available for drinking on an idle day be not long enough to permit of their doing themselves any harm. There would be little harm in anybody's drinking at any time if he had food down before the drink. What did harm and what caused grave scandal on fair and other days was the fact that unfortunate people, before taking quite a moderate quantity of drink, had lost their normal amount of sleep and were starving since perhaps 6 o'clock the night before. Quite a moderate amount of drink put them, in these circumstances, into a very bad state. I should like to see a reasonable opening period in the country as well as in the city on Sundays. I do not see any reason for discrimination, and I should rather see people drink in their own town or village than go to the next town or village to do so.
This amendment is on all fours with amendment No. 10, and the effect of the combined amendments would be to secure uniform opening hours for licensed houses in city and country. That is an end which, I understand, the Minister is anxious to secure. It has been definitely indicated in the debate that the granting of the facilities which this amendment suggests would go a long way to eliminate the abuses existing under what are termed thebona fide laws. I urge the Minister not to be too strongly impressed by the views expressed by Deputy Kennedy. He regards this matter from a very narrow angle—the interest of the hotel proprietor as opposed to the interest of the owner of licensed premises.
I should like to take this opportunity of correcting the misunderstanding that seems to have arisen with regard to the grocers' assistants so far as this matter is concerned. It would appear from some of the remarks made that these were a body of men who were entirely concerned with their sectional interests. That is far from being the case. They are not so much concerned with their own interests as they are with the requirements of the public. They hold—I think, rightly—that they are in as good a position as anybody else to know what the public requirements are in this regard. I am almost certain that the hours suggested in this amendment would be acceptable to these people because it would eliminate the disadvantage under which some of them already suffer in having to work all day on Sunday. That is a point of which the Minister should take serious note. Under the existing law, men have to work all day on Sunday. I am sure that nobody would condemn that more strongly than the Minister himself. On the Second Stage of the Bill, the Minister stated that he would give earnest consideration to the views expressed by Deputies. I think that the speeches delivered show that the House is overwhelmingly in favour of this amendment.
I support the amendment. As a member of the licensed trade myself and on behalf of the members of the licensed trade in my constituency, I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment. I must say that we were met very fairly by the Minister with regard to the every-day opening. He has done a good day's work for the licensing laws in granting the extra half-hour, because that will stop abuses in the rural areas. With regard to this amendment, I would say to the Minister that if he accepts it he will be doing away with a lot of abuses which are taking place on Sundays in rural areas. If the people are given facilities for having a drink at a reasonable time on Sundays—say at the same time as in the cities, from 2 to 6 p.m., those abuses will disappear. I believe that the members of the licensed trade would be very glad of that. Listening to the speeches made by some of the Deputies here to-day, one would think that those of us who are members of that trade are all the time breaking the law. I would remind the House that we are a very respectable section of the community. I was born and reared in a public house, and I am proud of it. The best people in this country came out of public houses.
I would also remind the House that the ordinary people who go into a public house to have a few drinks are the best people of this country. I have never known a man who could take drink moderately ever to commit any serious crime—any serious crime against the community, at any rate. I move to report progress.