INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924 (SECOND STAGE). - DEBATE RESUMED.

On Friday last I listened to the debate on this Bill. I have come to the conclusion that the Minister for Justice, in company with many of the Deputies who delivered speeches in support of the measure, seems to have become convinced that he and they are dealing with a nation of drunkards, and that Ireland is the home of drunkards. If that is their opinion it is certainly not mine. I do not believe that Ireland to-day is as bad as the Total Abstinence Association and other organisations of that kind would like to make us believe that it is. From my travels around I have come to the conclusion that drunkenness has diminished, especially during the last seven or eight years. Therefore, I do not believe for a moment that any man is justified in supporting a measure of this kind. Drunkenness has been reduced by, I believe, fifty per cent. in this country, and as far as I am concerned I do not believe that Ireland was ever a very drunken nation. Section 1 of the Bill prohibits the opening of licensed houses at particular hours, and specifies their closing at particular hours. Under this section a very grave and unjust hardship will in my opinion be entailed on a very large number of people who compose the marketing community. For many years, and at the present day we have what are known as a number of night houses. These houses are open to people coming to the city with market produce. They are on practically every road leading to the city, and the people who take advantage of them travel in some cases distances of from 30 to 35 miles, and in some instances as far as 40 miles. It has been customary for a great many years, and the custom prevailed under the existing licensing law, to allow these houses on the main roads leading to the city to remain open until 5 o'clock in the morning. That was allowed for the purpose of affording men travelling with farm produce to the city an opportunity of getting refreshment, not only for themselves but for their horses. It was customary for these people to take the horses from the cars and to give them food and drink, and also to give the animals a couple of hours' rest. Such a custom is observed in Clonee, which is about twenty-seven miles distant from Dublin. Some of the people who put up there for a few hours during the night travel from near Delvin to the city of Dublin with farm produce. They do not arrive at Clonee until about 3 o'clock in the morning. They stop at this house and get refreshments for themselves and also give their horses a couple of hours' rest. That rest is necessary for the animals as well as for the men themselves.

As I read Section 1 of this Bill, that custom is going to be abolished. If these people open their houses now at that hour in the morning and allow men going to the market in to have refreshments, they can be prosecuted if the Civic Guard come along and catch them on the premises. Therefore, I oppose this section, because I think it is a bad one. There is another point in this section to which I wish to direct attention. We all know that in country villages and in provincial towns people drive in on Sunday mornings from the country to church. Up to the present it has been customary with them to put up their horses in the yards attached to licensed premises while they were away at church themselves. If they were to leave their horses and cars on the public streets, without anyone in charge of them, they would be liable to be prosecuted on the charge of the animals not being under proper control. Under this section these people, whether bona fide travellers or not, are forbidden to enter licensed premises, even to the extent of putting up their horses and cars while attending church. Under the Act the yard is part of the licensed premises, and hence people will not be allowed to enter the yard for the purpose of stabling their horses. That will impose a great hardship on people, and I suggest it is a matter that deserves consideration from the Minister.

If the Deputy would excuse me, I would like to intervene for a moment. In the course of his speech he has made two points, and I am wondering whether he has read the memorandum which deals with the position as to bona fide travellers. I would like him to tell me under what part of the section you are prevented from putting up your horse in a yard during certain hours.

It is not definitely specified in the Bill, but I take the position to be as I have stated it, that if people put up their horses and cars in a yard attached to a public house, which, was I understand it, is part of the licensed premises, they will be liable to prosecution if found there during prohibited hours. Even the publican himself will be open to prosecution for opening his yard gate to allow these people in with their horses and cars. That is the construction that I put on the reading of this section.

Did you read the memo?

Probably I am wrong, but if I am the Minister will correct me. I now come to the section dealing with mixed trading. I believe that this, too, will impose great hardship on people in this country. I do not want to dwell too long on it, as the majority of Deputies spoke at some length on the section. Its chances of passing are, I think, very poor, and I intend to oppose the Bill on these two issues. The hours for trading on week-days are from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. I cannot see how the Minister can reasonably ask the community, as a whole, to accept this particular clause of the Bill, because on every morning in the week there is a fair being held in some part of Ireland. Many fairs start as early as 3.30 in the morning, but the majority start business at about 4 a.m. I know that in the Co. Meath several fairs are held at 4 o'clock in the morning. I do not think it is reasonable or fair to ask men who have been walking all night with cattle, and who arrive at a town where a fair is held, to stand on the fair from 4 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock without an opportunity of getting some refreshments. I think that is most unreasonable, and I think the same remark applies to closing on Good Friday, as that is also a fair day and a general working day in the country, where it is not observed in the same way as in the city of Dublin. I intend to oppose the Bill on that issue also. I am not of the same mind as some Deputies on the Labour Benches as regards the employment of female assistants under eighteen years of age in public-houses. I believe that if a girl is going to take up employment as a barmaid that she ought to be allowed to go into the business house in which she proposes to serve her time at sixteen years of age, so that she may be able to draw a salary when she reaches the age of eighteen. Under this Bill a girl is denied that opportunity, because under this section she must be eighteen years of age before she is allowed into licensed premises to serve her time, and then she will be twenty years of age before she is entitled to draw a salary.

I know many publichouses in which female assistants are employed, and I do not see anything very wrong happening. I do not see girls going to the bad from all the wild talk and dirty language that it is alleged is heard in publichouses. As far as my experience goes, I do not think employment in publichouses corrupts girls' morals in the least. If some Deputies who have supported this particular section in the Bill would give us some facts where a particular female shop assistant has gone wrong as a result of the bad things she heard in publichouses, I might be inclined to agree with them, but I do not think there is a Deputy in the Dáil who could give us a concrete statement on that. All their talk on that was pure theory, and they were merely expressing their own feelings as to what they would do with their own daughters. Some of them told us that a publichouse is no place for the employment of a girl, but if this section goes through where are the thousands of girls at present employed as barmaids going to find employment if they are not allowed to work in licensed premises. I do not think it is fair either to prohibit a publican's daughter from serving behind the counter while her father or mother may be absent for ten or fifteen minutes at their tea. If she is under eighteen years of age she will not be allowed to go behind the counter while her parents are at their tea. That would impose a very great injustice, especially on country traders, many of whom are very poor men, and are not in a position to employ assistants. If this section goes through it will mean that they will have to close up their business altogether.

I know some publicans and they have to go out and work by the day because the business they do would not be sufficient to support them otherwise. In fact, I know some publicans and they are members of the Transport Union. I, like Deputy Hogan, do not agree with the section which prohibits a publican from giving credit. I do not see why we in the Dáil should protect the publican any more than we protect any other class of trader. I believe that under the common law as it exists at the moment, if a publican serves drink to a man so that he gets blind drunk every day in the week in his shop that he cannot recover the cost of the drink if the man gets drunk by running into debt in his shop. I ask why the publican has not the moral courage to protect himself by refusing to give drink on credit to such a man as that. I think the publican should turn over a new leaf and do a cash trade, but at any rate I think we are not here to protect him if he does give credit.

I think that Deputy Davin, speaking in support of late opening in the morning, went further than he really might when he found that the worker was the strongest pillar to rest upon in support of his argument. If he did not exactly say it, at all events he left it to be inferred that no one entered a public house for drink before nine o'clock in the morning but the working man.

I did not say that at all.

I have drawn that inference anyway, and I certainly say that there is a good deal less drunkenness amongst workingmen than there is amongst wealthy people. The reasons why they are not drunk in the morning before they go to work are there for anyone to see. There are many reasons. In the first instance, they have not sufficient pay to purchase the necessaries of life for their households, and, secondly, if they go in to work drunk, to Deputy Good, for instance, I guarantee that they will not go in the next morning; he would dismiss them at once. We have not heard of many of these cases——

We are not discussing the working or any other class, but the Bill.

We are discussing references that have been made, and I say that this argument is not an argument that should be entertained, because it goes no distance in building up support for this Bill. I have never seen a man going drunk to his work, and I know very few men who have been in the habit of resorting to the public house before going to work. Arguments like this are, I think, uncalled for. I never noticed it, and I was surprised when I heard a Deputy on these Benches making that declaration.

I think that anyone who ventures on this thorny subject of licensing enters on a very difficult path; in fact, it would require a superman to satisfy the contending factions in this dispute, the extreme temperance people and the licensed trade, and he is a lucky man who can draw a happy mean between the two. I think this Bill is an honest attempt, so far as it goes, to do that. There are certain things in it which are open to amendment, but the value to be obtained from the Bill is far in excess of its faults. I think the section dealing with poteen is very important. There is no doubt that there is nothing that does more damage to the country and to the minds of the people than this abominable stuff. The licensing of clubs is also a most valuable thing. I do not see any reason why they should not be on exactly the same status as the public house, and it is only reasonable that they should be well under control. I think that the part dealing with the sale of methylated spirits is also an extremely valuable addition. There is no doubt at all that in many parts of the country this pernicious spirit has been drunk extensively, and I am glad to see that the Government is going to stop it. There are, of course, as there are in every Bill, things that one would take exception to. There is the division of the licensed premises into two parts, the separation of the licensed part from the part where other goods are sold, and I think that in the present state of things it would be extremely unfair to ask licensed people to do that. It would involve enormous cost to carry it out, and it would be obviously most unjust to ask the holders of licenses to do it, except they were to get compensation from the Government, and the Exchequer is not in a state to stand that. Therefore, I cannot support that section, and I understand that the Minister will not insist on it. I am almost a total abstainer; I am afraid that I would not be accepted by the unco' guid as belonging to them, but nevertheless I hold for the encouragement of temperance as much as possible. But one thing I noticed during the thirty years or so that I sat on a bench of magistrates and tried to administer justice after a sort, was that the majority of cases in the country districts that came before one were cases of drunkenness on Sundays—and that with the public houses all closed. It showed that something must have been very wrong. Of course, we hope, in these days, with an efficient Gárda Síochána, that such a thing will not prevail, but undoubtedly in the old days it was the case. Certainly before the different courts in which I have been, there was a great deal more drunkenness to be found on a Sunday, when all the front doors were shut, than there was on any other day of the week.

I came to the conclusion, therefore, that it would be much better to be honest about the thing, and to have the number of houses largely reduced in the country districts, so that they could be under control, and to have them open on Sundays for about two hours, just as they are in the towns, and have it done openly and above board, because it was done. But we hope that with the new regime that will not be necessary. I see that the Minister still seeks to allow houses to be opened in certain towns on Sundays for a certain number of hours, but not in the country districts. Let it be so; we will see how it acts. A wand may be swept over the scene and everything may be altered for the good. I hope it will be so. But my idea is—and I hope that in the next Bill it will come to pass—that a large number of licences will be extinguished by payment of compensation, and that there will be greater and better supervision over those that will remain. I think that that is the fairest way to deal with what is a reasonable and a right trade that should have its chances, like any other trade, but should be under strict control. I hope that it will be on these lines that licensing in the future will be carried out. I intend to support the Bill. Those of my constituents who have approached me on the subject are of my opinion, that the Bill ought to be supported, with the exception of Section 12. Of course, a good many think that an extra hour on a fair morning, as the Deputy who has just spoken instanced, might be allowed, and I think there is a great deal in it. Perhaps the Minister might consider that on the Committee Stage. But, with this and the other exception that I have mentioned, I think the Bill is a very fair attempt to try to improve a very difficult situation, and I hope that it will be improved upon later on by a Bill that will finally settle the question.

I think that the Minister deserves credit for having produced a Bill that has met with such a fair reception from the Dáil, whether from members like myself who object to many clauses, or members who support it and think that it has not gone far enough. The Minister has made a good case for the Second Reading and deserves to get it. Many speeches would have been better delivered, I think, on the Committee Stage. I will confine myself merely to two aspects. Clause 12 has been largely commented on. I listened very attentively to one of the observations by the Minister when presenting the Bill for Second Reading, and that was the one ending up with the village blacksmith going for a shilling's worth of nails into a mixed house who was liable to be tempted to spend his money in liquid refreshment instead of buying the nails. That was a valid but very farfetched excuse. The second, shall I call it apologia, was that the unemployed question would be affected, and that unemployed would get employment in altering the structures of the houses that would be dealt with under the Bill. I do not know whether or not that would tempt Deputy Johnson to support the Bill. I am sure that outside that he will give it consideration, but I think that a clause which has only that recommendation is one that should be left out as unsuitable. The general voice of the Dáil is decidedly against Clause 12, and I trust when it comes up in Committee that the Minister for Justice will take that into consideration and drop it entirely. Another matter which, as a resident of Dublin, I should like to call the attention of the Dáil to is the question of the added areas in this city. I have looked into the case presented by people in these areas who wish to be relieved of their grievances, and I think they have made out a strong case.

I trust sincerely when the Bill comes up in Committee that the Minister will give favourable consideration to their claims. Some of the other clauses are very necessary from my point of view, but from the point of view of the temperance advocate the Bill does not meet the question at all. The Minister referred to the sociological aspect of it, but the Bill does not meet that aspect completely. Having found the views of the Deputies, and of those they represent in the country parts, I make the suggestion to the Minister to drop the Bill, and set up a commission representing the divergent interests to thrash this question out, and bring in a complete Bill that will be accepted throughout the country as a whole. I wish to refer to only one other portion of the Bill, and that is parts 4 and 5, dealing with illicit distillation and methylated spirits. It seems to me, from my knowledge of these subjects, that if the Minister made these two offences so that they could be dealt with under the criminal law he would have the support of the Dáil. Certainly he deserves the thanks of this Dáil for having dealt with them in the manner he has done. I support the Second Reading.

I do not intend to prolong the discussion much, but I wish in the first place to enter a protest against having the Bill introduced at this stage. We in the Dáil who have endeavoured to keep in touch with the legislation passing through find it almost impossible to become really conversant with the Bills poured on us from day to day. The result is that Bills pass through with which we are not thoroughly acquainted. I believe it is the duty of any Deputy who wants properly to perform the work for which he is sent here to be conversant, as far as is in his power, with the details of the Bills passed through the Dáil. This is a highly contentious measure of social reform for which there should be ample time given, not only to the Dáil but to the people of the country, to discuss and hammer out what they consider would be the best system of temperance reform. I do not know why the Bill was introduced at this stage. The Minister probably has his reasons for doing so, but I think the reforms advocated in it are not sufficient to justify the time of the Dáil being taken up at this stage of the sittings when Deputies are tired perhaps of poring over the different Bills, and when this measure will not get the proper consideration which it deserves.

As far as the Bill itself is concerned, I am inclined to think that it is only right to give a measure of support to any reforms which will tend to improve the social life of the country, as far as the use of intoxicating liquors is concerned. I am not at all sure that the reforms are of any great importance, and that there will be any wonderful change in the conditions of the country as regards the consumption of drink. My knowledge of the country is, as far as intoxication is concerned, that the people have improved enormously within recent years. I know it was quite a common thing at one time to see many drunken men in the streets of Dublin. Now it is very rare to see such a thing happen. It is a saying down in the country that Lloyd George was the greatest reformer that ever attempted to deal with the temperance question. His system was by the increase of taxation on drink; he made it almost impossible for the average man to get more than he could bear. This Bill evidently is an attempt to deal with the problem to a certain extent. I think it is the duty of those who are endeavouring to secure a measure of temperance reform to give it a conditional measure of support. I am prepared to do that, but there are certain sections I do not approve of, and which I think capable of amendment in Committee. In particular I refer to section 12, which has been so much discussed. My objection to that section is not that the idea in itself is not a good one, for I believe it is, but I do not believe that it is feasible or just to carry it out in the existing circumstances. I think the ideal the Minister is aiming at is a correct one, but as the Bill stands it will be inequitable and it will hit the people who should not be hit. The poorer publicans will be forced to carry out these reforms, while the larger and richer publicans will not.

They will be forced to carry out these structural alterations in houses which are not, in many cases, architecturally suited to such alterations. I know myself of a public house which, perhaps, corresponds to the Minister's example, where nails can be purchased at one side of the house and drink at the other. It is a long, narrow public house, with buildings at each side, and, as far as I can see, it would be a physical impossibility to make the alterations which the Minister demands even with the thinnest possible partition. Such being the objections to that section, the support which I give to the Bill is conditional on amendment of that section.

With regard to the prohibition of the employment of girls under 18 in a bar, I have no objection to that section provided it does not forbid the employment of the members of the family of the owner of the premises. If that is the intention I think it would actually be impossible to carry it out. It would be quite impossible for the owner of a public house to avoid having his children attend at the bar on rare occasions. If that section is not eliminated, at least, amendments ought to be put forward which would have the effect of allowing the members of the family of the publican to attend in the bar when required.

Mr. O'CONNELL

I intend to support the Second Reading of the Bill, because I agree with most of its provisions—not all, but practically all. I think that the hours which are proposed in the Bill are reasonable. The demand, if there is a demand, ought to be for reasonable refreshment and facilities for reasonable refreshment and no more. I maintain that under the provisions of the Bill such facilities are available. It has been said with some truth that to introduce a Bill of this kind at this stage of the session is not treating the matter fairly, or as it should be treated. We cannot fail to remember, however, that a Bill somewhat on these lines was introduced this time last year and dropped. Certainly the question in all its bearings has been before the country for a considerable time. In any case, it is quite evident on the face of it that this measure proposes only to deal with the fringes of the question, and does not purport to be by any means the last word in licensing legislation. Even if this Bill is passed now there will still, in my opinion, be a necessity for a Commission to go into the whole question of our licensing laws.

As I stated, I think the hours of working are reasonable. I do not profess to be intimately acquainted with the licensing laws, but I do believe there are provisions whereby exceptional licenses may be obtained for exceptional purposes. In such cases as those mentioned by Deputy Hall I do not think there is any great grievance. If the Deputy tells me that a fair starts at 3.30 or 4 in the morning, and that, therefore, it is necessary to open the publichouses to accommodate the people who come to the fairs, I would retort that it is far more reasonable to arrange that the fair would not open at such an unreasonable hour. I never could see the reason for having fairs at such unseasonable hours as 3.30, 4 or 5 a.m. Undoubtedly that was the practice in the old days, but it has died out to a considerable extent. Even under the present arrangements a man has to wait until 7 o'clock before he can get a drink, and if he has patience to wait that length he will not have a very great grievance if he has to wait for another hour or two.

There is one provision in the Bill which I strongly commend, and that is the section which prohibits the sale of drink to young persons under eighteen. I also approve of the regulation to prevent young girls under eighteen being employed in a bar. I have doubts as to whether that should not be extended to young boys under eighteen. Indeed, I think it would be advisable. If it is wrong to sell drink to children under eighteen, it is wrong to have such children selling drink, and I make no distinction whatsoever in the case of the owner's children. If it is wrong to have a young girl employed at that work, it is wrong for the publican to put his own daughter to that work. It has been said that the publican might find it necessary to leave his daughter in charge of the shop while he was having a cup of tea. The sacrifice will not be very great if that is all the sacrifice he will have to make, because he will be able to find someone to look after the shop while he is away.

I approve of the proposal with regard to clubs. I never could see the reason why there should be special facilities given to clubs for the sale of drink. A club is supposed to be an establishment for a purpose other than the sale or consumption of spirituous liquor. I am greatly afraid that there are, at least, some clubs that seem to have quite misconceived that idea. If one can draw conclusions from practice, the sole object, sometimes, seems to be the consumption of liquor. I quite agree that a club, such as a golf club, might be in a different position from some clubs established for indoor amusement. In neither case can the claim be made for an extension of facilities for the sale of drink. Reasonable facilities are allowed under the provisions of this measure. I have grave doubts as to the wisdom of licensing clubs at all. I do not suggest that drastic measures should be taken to prevent the licensing of clubs, but I have very grave doubts of the wisdom of that practice. If men cannot come together for social enjoyment without feeling compelled to purchase intoxicating drink I think there is very little to be said for them. I have yet to find a club, and it is not a popular club, I am sure, where refreshments, other than intoxicating drinks, are supplied. If the supply of drink at clubs is purely as refreshments, that is a genuine reason, but one would naturally think that other forms of refreshment would sometimes be substituted. We know that that is not the case. I do not pretend for a moment to be in favour of total abstinence. I believe in reasonable facilities being provided for reasonable refreshment. I do not believe in anything more than that. We heard one or two Deputies saying, and we have often heard it outside, that you cannot make people sober by Act of Parliament. Even people who use that argument here will readily vote for the sections prohibiting illicit distillation, and dealing with methylated spirits. They believe that you can prevent the abuses under that head by Act of Parliament. I hold that you can equally prevent, by Act of Parliament, the other abuses which, undoubtedly, occur under other heads.

As the section dealing with mixed trading stands in the Bill, I cannot support it, not because I do not agree with the principle, but, as Deputy Heffernan stated, because I think it would be an undue hardship on people at present engaged in that business. There is also the fact that the construction of very many of these houses makes it almost impossible to make the structural alterations suggested in the Bill. That does not say that the principle is not a good one. It is a good one, and, I think, something might certainly be done on the lines suggested by Deputy Corish; that some kind of temporary partition of the place where drink is sold should, as far as is reasonable, be insisted upon. In a great many cases, I believe that could, and should, be done. The suggestion made by Deputy Johnson, that longer time should be given than is suggested in the Bill for making these alterations, is also one that I think the Minister might consider. I think that no new licences should be granted in future to any houses in which mixed trading is carried on. That should be insisted upon. In the remodelling of houses, and in cases where transfers of licences are applied for, perhaps, it would be possible to insist that some such provision as this would be inserted in the Bill. As I said in the beginning, I think the Bill is a reasonable attempt, and no more than reasonable, to bring about better conditions in the sale of intoxicating liquor.

I move that the sitting be suspended until 7.15.

Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.,AN CEANN COMHAIRLE in the Chair.

This Bill has been rather fully discussed, and I am wondering what was the net effect left on the mind of the average Deputy by the discussion. In a matter of this kind I am not claiming to be unbiassed or unprejudiced. I am naturally prejudiced in favour of this set of provisions which I bring forward after very full investigation of the subject, and after very full inquiry of all channels available to me, but I am asking myself the question as to what exactly is the net effect left on the mind of the Deputy who is not placed as I am, and who has listened here in the last few days to the discussion on this Bill. Certainly the effect left in my mind is that the discussion shows how very, very little of substance, how little of pith or reality can be urged against the set of provisions and the proposals which the Bill contains. Some Deputies spoke, quite obviously, not having read the Bill or even the explanatory memorandum which is prefixed. There is a rather striking unanimity on two parts of the Bill—Part 4, dealing with illicit distillation, and Part 5, dealing with methylated spirits. I think one would be justified in drawing from that the conclusion that we have in the Dáil no Deputy who has fallen a victim either to poteen or methylated spirits, and so far as it goes that is eminently satisfactory. There was not anything like unanimity with regard to the other three parts—Part 1, dealing with the question of hours; Part 2, of a rather general nature, and Part 3, embodying certain regulations with regard to clubs.

Deputies will find in the memorandum, and I think it natural to refer to it again, the exact changes proposed with regard to hours. On week days, other than Saturdays, the existing hours are from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in cities and towns with a population over 5,000, and elsewhere in the country from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. That means really that for the greater part of the country on these week days the proposed hour of closing is not any earlier than the existing hour of closing. Its real effect is an alteration of one hour, in cities and towns with a population of over 5,000. When Deputies start slinging adjectives about, and waxing rhetorical it is always well for some one to bring them back to actual facts, and the actual proposals, and I am going to go through this memorandum briefly. As I say, that is the effect on weekdays other than Saturdays—an earlier closing by one hour. On Saturdays what is the effect? The existing hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in towns and cities with a population of over 5,000, and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. elsewhere, so that the result of the proposal in the Bill will be that cities and towns with a population of over 5,000 will close half an hour earlier than under the existing law, and elsewhere in the country there is an extension of half an hour. On Sundays there is no change except the change referred to lower down in the memorandum, namely, that during the period from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. drink may not be sold. On the Committee Stage if any Deputy has the hardihood to put down an amendment dealing with that I am prepared to discuss it very fully. I think it is an admirably proper provision and a provision that the members of any and every church in the country should agree with—that these morning hours in which Divine Service takes place in the various churches ought to be hours in which the public houses would not be open for the sale or consumption of intoxicating liquor.

With regard to those days in which complete closing is proposed, there again, there can be discussion. On Good Friday, of course, I think there will be very little comment or controversy. There was always complete closing on Christmas day, so that there is no change in regard to that. Any little comment there was turned on the question of St. Patrick's Day. There are two points of view there. Many people in the country hold the view which extended for a long time back that there ought to be complete closing on St. Patrick's Day if only as a matter of sentiment. Deputies have said that drunkenness is not prevalent in the country at the moment. If it is agreed that there was a time when drunkenness was prevalent in the country then a complete closing of licensed premises on the National Festival would at any rate, mark the turning of backs on such a state of affairs and give some expression to that sentiment which we all mouth freely enough, that we are in favour of a sober and temperate country and that we have no future along any other path. The number of Deputies who managed to combine strong temperance views with an advocacy of unlimited facilities for drinking, rather surprised me and disappointed me in this debate.

We are told that drunkenness is not prevalent in the country. That, of course, is a question of standards. It is somewhat a relative question. In the course of the year 1923 there were arrested in the metropolitan area for drunkenness 674 men and 734 women, a total of 1,408 persons. That marks an increase on the year 1921 of 150 arrests. Now there is drunkenness and drunkenness, and Deputies know that the Metropolitan Police, in practice, only make arrests for drunkenness where a person is obviously incapable of taking care of himself and making his way home in safety. Yet in the last year there were 1,408 arrests for drunkenness in the Metropolitan Police area. In the month of May in the current year there were 137 arrests as compared with 150 in April.

Deputies may have their own points of view about these figures as to whether they are good, bad or indifferent, but I do submit that, remembering that arrests are only made of persons obviously incapable of looking after themselves, those figures reflect badly on the sobriety of the city. There are stages of drunkenness. I saw somewhere that a person is only theologically drunk when he is in that condition that he would go to light his pipe at a tap. You can take it that those arrests are arrests of people who would very nearly go to light their pipes at a tap. Deputies should be quite clear on the question of restrictions and hours as to the exact effect of the proposals. If they keep that in mind we should have an end of the extravagant language used in the Second Reading of the Bill. Moving on to Part II. of the Bill, you had a few sections on which there was some slight comment. You had Section 8. Very little exception was taken to Section 7. I am aware of the views that exist about Section 8. You have on one side the picture of the working man coming home to his dinner, his wife busy preparing and laying his dinner for him, and his son or daughter of fourteen or fifteen years of age being sent out for a pint of porter or a bottle of stout. That is one aspect of the thing. Some Deputies spoke to me about that section, and from the trend of what they had to say I gathered that the objection lay in the possibility of children taking some of the liquor on the way back between the shop and the home. I do not think that that is the objection of the temperence people. It is not what I gathered from them. I think the objection is to familiarising growing boys or girls with a public house. They get to know the habits and the lie of the place, and when the boy of 14, 15 or 16 grows into a youth of 18 or 19 he will go there on his own business where he formerly went on his father's business. I think that is the gist of the objection, and it is for Deputies, when we come to consider this section more in detail, to weigh well whether there is substance or reality in that objection.

I think Deputy McGoldrick is the only Deputy who took strong exception to Section 10, which deals with the consumption of liquor on premises which are only licensed for consumption off the premises. Deputy McGoldrick thinks that is harsh, and that when people have been granted a particular kind of licence on condition that they will sell only for consumption off the premises, it is a great hardship that when those conditions are thrown to the winds, smashed and trampled upon, there should be a removal of the licence. That is a matter of opinion, too. I do not know whether many Deputies will share Deputy McGoldrick's opinion on that matter. It seems to me that when the conditions are broken the only and obvious remedy is the withdrawal and forfeiture of the licence. Coming, then, to Section 12, Deputies had, of course, as I expected, a great deal to say about Section 12, and will, no doubt, in further stages of the Bill have a great deal to say. I am not objecting to that. On the contrary, it is a section that would need very full consideration and discussion. I have my own strong and definite views, and because I wish to put those views to the Dáil I have left that section in the Bill, although I am assured that it is not a section which meets with the approval of the Party which supports the Government. I am in the position that I will simply put that section to an open vote of the Dáil. It is a matter that has more aspects than one. I stressed some of the aspects on speaking previously on this Bill. I think the public are entitled to be served other than in this manner at this hour of the day. I think people who are carrying on this business have done well enough out of the public to justify the public in demanding that there shall be a change for the future.

Remember, this is all on a basis of service to the community, and the community is, I submit, entitled to take this stand, that they shall be served somewhat differently in the future, that their children, boys and girls, going in on household messages, shall not be in the position of having to go in through beershops. Then there is the other point of view, the point of view of the temptation to the man of the house himself, going in on household messages—that there should be some little partition, some separation, so that if he were to decide to have a drink that would be a decision rather than simply a yielding to irresistible impulse or temptation. There is still another aspect, and it is this; that the previous administration here, the British administration, simply dealt out licences through the country in a very reckless and very haphazard manner, with very little consideration of the real interests of the country and of the people of the country. That is admitted upon all sides. It is admitted by the traders themselves. No one contends that 15,000 public houses are needed for the reasonable refreshment of the Irish people, and there is a further result. It is not merely the question of the superfluity of public houses. You have all through the country this system of one business eking out the other, and it has been contended time after time, that neither can survive alone. What does that point to? If it is true, it simply means that you have in this country an utterly unsound economic position; that back through the last twenty, thirty or forty years there has been a steady multiplication of middlemen out of all proportion to the real requirements of the citizens. There is much talk of profiteering and the high cost of living.

Deputies should try to get down to the pith of the matter. You can have very high prices and profiteering in the technical sense without anyone making huge fortunes out of it. Take the average town or village in Ireland depending for its business on a catchment area of a four or five mile radius, and what is the picture? Dotted from one of the main streets to the other you have people dealing in substantially the same commodities. They all have to live on that catchment area, a rural area, a four or five mile radius. The moral is obvious. The talk of competition is a myth, a fiction. Prices are ruled for the weakest link in the chain, and yet Deputies say that it is not right to say that the public are entitled to be better or differently served in the future than they have been in the past. If you say there must be separation between one portion of a shop and another you are saying something that is harsh, unjust, and confiscatory in its effect. Licences were dealt out in a reckless, haphazard fashion here by the British administration, and it is that situation we are facing to-day. Because one business was not sufficient another counter was opened and it was eked out with another business. The net result is that you have had that multiplication of distributors, that multiplication of retailers, going on in the country, and all those must live on the producers. That is why producers are down at bedrock to-day fighting for their very existence. If we are only to tell the truth when it is palatable, and if we are only to tell the truth when we are quite sure we are not walking on anyone's corns, we are not going to get anywhere in dealing with the social and economic evils of the country.

Part 3 of the Bill deals with clubs. The proposal is that clubs shall not sell intoxicating liquor later than 10 p.m. on an ordinary week-day and 9.30 p.m. on Saturdays, and not between the hours of 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. That again, of course, has been branded as tyrannical in the extreme. I have been charged with "undue rigidity" because I did not leave loopholes through which Deputy Figgis might slip in and out. Reasonable refreshments we are told are denied to members of the clubs after 10 p.m. Such liquids as water, tea, coffee or minerals do not count in the vocabulary of the clubmen, if we are to believe all that has been said here.

Especially golf clubmen.

It is not a harsh or tyrannical provision. The point has been made that for a few weeks in summer golf may, with good sight and good luck, be played up to 9.30 p.m. or after it. That is true, but you cannot base legislation on the circumstances that prevail for a week or two weeks on each side of the longest day. Anyone that would set out to frame a measure by taking stock of special cases of that kind would not have much to congratulate himself on by the time he would be through. The fact is— and everyone knows it—that if things went on as they have been going on, the tendency would be that these clubs would become less and less golf clubs and more and more just late-night drinking dens, from which people would go home uproarious in the small hours of the morning.

They might not come home at all.

Killing Deputy Gorey's stock, maybe, with their motor-cars on the roadside on their way home. On a Bill like this I much prefer the Committee Stage to the Second Reading. On Second Reading people can get up and talk generalities in perfervid rhetoric and they have never to come down to the bedrock thing of saying what is exactly wrong or what the alternative should be. I look forward with a certain zest and with certain pleasure to the Committee Stage of this Bill. I want, for instance, Deputy Hall to put down amendments on the lines of the speech he made here this evening, which showed that he had not even read the first page of the memorandum which is prefixed to the Bill. He spoke as if there were no such thing asbona fide traffic.

I did not make any such statement.

Or as if, by this Bill, it was proposed to abolish it. Staring him in the face, on the first page of the memorandum, were these words:—

Under the existing lawbona fide travellers—

I presume the Deputy knows what that is—

may be lawfully served by publicans at any hour upon any day of the year.

Day there includes night. The only restriction which the Bill imposes upon that latitude is that

Bona fide travellers may not be served—(1) at any hour on Christmas Day, Good Friday, St. Patrick's Day; or (2) during the period 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Sunday.

Therefore, Deputy Hall's interesting travellers coming from 40 or 50 miles, with farm produce, tired and weary and, incidentally, thirsty and with their horses in the same condition, may knock up any wayside publican at 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning and get reasonable refreshment for man if not for beast.

The system at the moment is not as the Minister explained. The public house owners have not to be knocked up.

As I said, in connection with this Bill, I had to take stock of many conflicting views, and I had conferences in which interests that were radically opposed were represented. My own considered opinion is that, of all the interests that were represented, the people who have the most real grievance with the provisions of this Bill are the temperance advocates. That is simply because they have to face the fact that, unfortunately, they are ahead of the country, ahead of the times, ahead of the electorate and of the representatives of the electorate. But to brand this Bill as a harsh measure or a sweeping infringement of anybody's rights, is simply absurd. When subjected to any kind of scrutiny or any kind of analysis, it is no such thing. It is as moderate and as mild a measure of reform on this question, which clamours for reform, as any Minister in my position could conscientiously bring forward. Other questions were mentioned which are not dealt in the Bill, but certainly this year I want to see a commission set up that will get to grips with many bigger questions that the Bill does not purport to deal with; that will get to grips with this question of the enormous excess of licensed establishments in the country to the real requirements of the people, and that will consider such special local problems as may be found to exist— the problem, for instance, in Cork, where you have these tied houses. The Terms of Reference of such a commission ought to be drafted as broadly as possible, to permit of the commission making any representations to the Government which they might think fit to make in connection with this traffic which plays an admittedly important part in the life of the country. Deputies who advocated and urged the immediate setting up of this commission ought not to quote that intention as a sufficient reason for doing nothing at all in face of the situation which confronts us. A commission of that kind might take five or six months or perhaps more on its work. By the time a Bill would be brought forward here for the consideration of the Dáil and Seanad it might be as long again. All this Bill purports to do is to deal with certain matters which call for immediate attention, pending a fuller investigation of the whole question by a competent commission. In Committee I am prepared to give reasonable consideration to such amendments as may be put down. Certainly, every amendment put down will be closely considered, but I am going to make no extravagant promises, no promises that will creat in Deputies' minds the idea that the Bill, as it stands, is something in the nature of a try-on and that we are prepared to throw out a lot of ballast in Committee. Certain minor matters may be discussed and may be more fully considered but, substantially, the Bill is as mild and as moderate a measure as could be sponsored by any responsible Minister. If there is anything big asked for, or anything big pressed for, then I would sooner the whole Bill should go overboard than that it should be nullified by amendments to sections which do not bear amendment.

Motion put. The Dáil divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 12.

Earnán Altún.Earnán de Blaghd.Seoirse de Bhulbh.John J. Cole.John Conlan.Bryan R. Cooper.Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí Dhrisceóil.Patrick J. Egan.Darrell Figgis.John Good.John Hennigan.Alasdair Mac Cába.Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.Liam T. Mac Cosgair.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Tomás Mac Eoin.Patrick McGilligan.Eoin Mac Néill.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Liam Mag Aonghusa.James Sproule Myles.Martin M. Nally.

John T. Nolan.Próinsias O Cathail.Tomás O Conaill.B. O'Connor.Aodh O Cúlacháin.Liam O Daimhín.Eoghan O Dochartaigh. Séamus O Dóláin.Peadar O Dubhghaill.Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.Eamon O Dúgáin.Donchadh O Guaire.Mícheál O hIfearnáin.Aindriú O Láimhin.Séamus O Leadáin.Fionán O Loingsigh.Pádraic O Máille.Séamus O Murchadha.Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).Caoimhghín O hUigín.Patrick W. Shaw.Liam Thrift.Domhnall O Mocháin.

Níl

Seán Buitléir.John Daly.Henry J. Finlay.David Hall.Tomás Mac Artúir.Séamus Mac Cosgair.

Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.Seán Mac Giolla 'n Ríogh.Ailfrid O Broin.Domhnall O Muirgheasa.Tadhg O Murchadha.Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).

Motion declared carried. Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, July 2nd.

Will that be before or after the adjournment?

I could not answer that question.

When are amendments to be in by?