I think when progress was reported last evening that I was replying to certain questions addressed to me by Deputy Davin. Deputy Davin is not here at the moment, but I might perhaps finish what I had to say. I was invited to explain the reason for fixing an age limit of 18 for females who had undertaken the particular work of serving in a bar of a licensed establishment, and what was the case or reason for any departure from that as respects daughters, step-daughters, sisters or nieces of licensed holders. There is just the case that in this latter class of cases the licensed holder has rather more interest in seeing good order, moderation, and so on, is preserved than in the case where the person behind the bar would simply be an employee in whom he has no personal interest. It might be quoted as a hardship that the licence holder could not occasionally ask a daughter or a sister of sixteen years of age to help behind a bar at a busy time, or when he was called out on some particular business. I would be prepared to meet that by saying that persons coming within that category could be so employed, but not below the age of sixteen years. I think probably the view that there is a case for some such mitigation of the general provision would perhaps appeal to the Dáil generally.
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924—THIRD STAGE RESUMED.
I object to restrictions being put on the age, sixteen years or otherwise, of the publican's child. A publican's son or daughter would have easy access to the premises and could get behind the counter. That could not be prevented. Children might get into the bar accidentally, and if a policeman popped in and caught them there he would bring the publican before the court. We know what would occur then. For that reason I think this matter should be let stand, as the Minister for Justice intended yesterday, when dealing with the question of not allowing any person under the age of eighteen, except members of the publican's family, to be employed. I did not raise any objection to the age of eighteen, because I thought it was a reasonable thing. I do raise an objection now, and I think the Dáil will hold with me that it is very dangerous for a publican, with a family, to have restrictions placed against members of his family going into the licensed premises. As the Minister pointed out, the father and the mother of these children are looking after them, and I think they can do so, and that they have a greater interest in them, than the Dáil.
I would ask the Minister for Justice not to be led away by Deputy Davin or by other Deputies, who, perhaps, do not understand the circumstances. If a policeman entered the premises just at the moment when a young person of fourteen or sixteen years of age was in the bar he could prosecute the publican, and according to another section of the Bill, if that occurred three times within five years the licence will be wiped out altogether. I would ask the Minister to stand as firm in this matter as he did yesterday. It is easy to get him to stand firm, and for my part he is too firm. Deputy Davin, while supporting me yesterday, made a very elaborate speech. I thought I had a very great friend in him, but I found out that he was a wolf in sheep's clothing.
I think if the Deputy would read the section he will have some of his fears removed. The section refers to the employment of any female person to sell intoxicating liquor. If a child of nine years wandered by accident into the bar it would be all right as far as this section is concerned.
The child would not be allowed to sell.
The prohibition is against any female person under eighteen years being allowed to sell any description of intoxicating liquor. I think the Minister said yesterday that there was some possible doubt as to the implications of this section in view of the word "employs." I think it is necessary to have a clear definition of what is intended where the actual utilisation of the services of a female person under eighteen years, with or without pay——
I could use the word "allows."
That is much clearer. It is a question of family relationship. I would like to know also whether it is intended by the Minister that such a relation should be a member of the household.
Resident in the house.
Yes. I think some case could be made for that when we are dealing with sisters or daughters or mothers. Mother, by the way, is not mentioned in this. It is hardly likely she would be under eighteen years of age. I think it is going beyond the requirements when we include "niece." Deputy Daly has pointed out an obstacle there. In this country of wide families the niece may be a very far out friend, and the feeling of responsibility for her character may be a very attenuated one. I would urge, if the Minister is going to concede amendment 46 or a combination of amendments 45 and 46, that he should not extend to the extent of "niece," because that leaves a very wide range. It means that the invitation is to the publican to exchange with his own farout relatives and evade the law by bringing in a young person of sixteen.
If I were to insert a provision making this exception in favour of the sister, daughter or daughter-in-law of the licensed holder or his wife, would it meet the view?
If the Minister is adopting Deputy Hughes's wording with the exception of the word "niece" there is one omission which I am rather surprised that Deputy Hughes has made, and that is there is no mention of the licence holder's wife.
We take that for granted.
But a wife may be under eighteen. In that case it would be anomalous that her sister, perhaps a year younger, would be empowered to sell, while she herself would not.
We are not discussing the amendment of Deputy Hughes at present, but we are discussing amendment 45. The Minister, when dealing with this last night, made reference to amendment 46 and said that he looked on it rather more favourably. I feel that to stipulate the particular individuals is wrong in law. To say that they are to be members of the licence holder's family is, I think, broad and clear enough, and I do not see why we should have to particularise the relationship of the individuals who should comprise the family of the licence holder. I think everybody will agree that the proper term is "a member of the licence holder's family." The Minister said last night that he would be prepared to entertain a proposal to have sixteen years of age made the limit with regard to the licence holder's family. I would be prepared to meet that to a certain extent, but I think that the two years' difference between the employee and the member of the family is not much of a margin to allow. If the Minister would say fifteen years of age, which is a year over the school age, it would leave little room for complaint, and would not injure the Bill. All the people who hold the unfortunate position of being in this particular trade are agents for the State, and they should get some facilities for doing their work. I am as much against any liberty being given to them or against furthering the trade on lines that will be dangerous to the moral welfare of the community as any other Deputy, and I am inclined to have the trade cribbed, cabined and confined on that particular head. This, however, is a matter for themselves in regard to their own families, and I think a little liberty should be given to have the age made fifteen for a member of the family, so that if they are behind the counter instead of being in the kitchen the publican is not liable to be brought up and his licence endorsed. The licence holder is responsible for his family, and should see that nothing takes place that will interfere with their moral character of which the Minister is not the sole protector. I think that the man himself ought to be the sole responsible authority for his own family. If the Minister would accept fifteen as the age and allow the other portions of the amendment to stand, I would be willing to accept that compromise.
Deputy McGoldrick seems to be out for making work for lawyers, but I want to avoid that so far as I can by specifying the people who should be there. If amendment 46 is accepted I do not think it takes away from amendment 45 in any way. Amendment 45 says "a member of the said licence holder's family." I think that a sister, daughter, or step-daughter is a member of the licence holder's family. We know that in this country there are a great many people in the licensed trade who have relations, and I think that extending the relationship to a niece is not going outside the licence holder's family. I would ask the Minister when deciding between the two amendments to say that I have not gone too far by inserting the word "niece," as it would do away with the hardship that might otherwise exist. I would ask Deputy McGoldrick to withdraw his objection.
I would like to support the suggestion of Deputy McGoldrick and Deputy Hughes, because I believe a good deal of hardship would otherwise be inflicted on many licence holders. I would confidently ask the Minister to agree to that compromise.
I have heard the views expressed on amendments 45 and 46, and on Report Stage I will bring up an amendment embodying the considered view of the Department, and the matter can be further discussed then. My own feeling at the moment would be to accept Deputy Hughes' amendment, with the exception of the word "niece," and to insert also a provision that even those persons might not be allowed to serve behind the bar below the age of sixteen.
That would mean the withdrawal of amendments 45 and 46.
They can be discussed on the Report Stage?
Yes, the Minister's amendment will raise the question again on the Report Stage.
I ask the leave of the Dáil to withdraw amendment 47.
In line 6 to delete the word "eighteen" and substitute therefor the word "sixteen."
I think it is a great hardship on any girl to be deprived of the opportunity of earning a livelihood at sixteen years of age. It is specified in the Bill that no female is to be allowed to sell intoxicating liquors under eighteen. If the parents of a large family are deprived of the opportunity of getting employment for some of their girls in publichouses I think it will be a hardship. Girls are marriageable at the age of eighteen, and the majority of them get married at that age. If they do not earn anything up to the age of eighteen of course they make no return for the expense incurred in rearing them. If sixteen were specified as the age I would be quite satisfied. The girl of sixteen has as much sense as the girl of eighteen. According to law, a girl can get married at twelve years of age, and a male at fourteen. Surely a girl of sixteen should have a great deal more sense than a girl of twelve, and there could be nothing wrong in having her inside a counter. I think the Minister should accept this amendment and give an opportunity to fathers of families of getting employment for their children, if they are able to get into the good graces of Deputy Daly, and others, to take one of their daughters behind the counter. It would be only right to give them that privilege and afford them the opportunity of putting their children into a position to earn something for themselves at the age of sixteen.
I have agreed to eighteen years being the stipulated age, and I think it is only fair and right. Sixteen years is a bit too young. About publicans' wives at the age of eighteen being allowed to serve behind the counter, if a publican gets a good-looking wife of eighteen he will not allow her behind the counter at all.
"In line 6 after the word ‘years' to insert the words ‘or male person under the age of seventeen years.'"
This amendment, if accepted, will have the effect of preventing the employment of any person, male or female, except members of the family, under seventeen years of age. The aim is to prevent, as far as possible, the engagement of boys for the purpose of selling intoxicating liquor, and to restrict the number of boys of that age, and even a later age, if possible, from going into that business. The tendency has been to try to get into the publichouse business. We want generally to increase the number of years that boys will have to go to school, and the purpose of the amendment is in keeping with that general intention, to reduce the number of young persons in the publichouse business, and to encourage the retention of boys at school as long as possible. I think it is a bad proposition to employ for pay—that was the intention of the Bill at first—any boy or girl under seventeen years, and the amendments that have been spoken about rather effect the intention when this was first put down. To "allow" any person to sell is slightly different from "employing" any person to sell. The object of the amendment is to restrict the number of persons who would be employed, meaning employed for pay. I still think that allowing anyone up to seventeen, or under seventeen, to sell intoxicating liquor whether employed or not for pay, is bad, and I would ask the Dáil to agree to the amendment.
I think the amendment is a wise and good one, but at present there may be in existence legal obligations as between employers and employees affecting persons not up to the standard age laid down in the amendment. I think some provision will have to be made in regard to the existing situation in this particular matter, but it would be wise in future that no boy under seventeen years should be employed in licensed premises, in the interests of education and in the interests of the moral welfare of the community.
I would agree to the amendment if Deputy Johnson and Deputy McGoldrick could find other employment for boys under seventeen. Deputy Johnson says these boys should be kept at school until seventeen. I would point out that parents in receipt of small wages cannot keep boys at school until they are seventeen. When parents rear boys to the age of fourteen or fifteen they must put them at some sort of labour in order to help them to pay the rent and support the remainder of the family. If you accept this amendment you will have at a later stage in another Bill amendments introduced to the effect that no boy under seventeen will be allowed to get any employment, and that would be a great hardship. Take, for example, the father or five or six children, who is earning 30/- a week; how can he keep his boys at school until they are seventeen? It is impossible, and Deputy Johnson knows that it is impossible. As I have said, I would be satisfied if Deputy Johnson and Deputy McGoldrick can find suitable employment for those they deprive of getting employed in the licensed trade under the age of seventeen. I am sure neither of the Deputies is the father of a large family. If either was, he would not think of moving or supporting this amendment, because he would know what it is to rear a family with small wages, and that he could not keep his boys at school until they are seventeen. Some artisans may be in receipt of £3, £4, or £5 a week, and even they cannot keep children at school until they are seventeen.
I ask the Dáil to reject the amendment, unless the mover and supporter will find other means of providing employment for boys before the age of seventeen. In some cases children are taken from school at thirteen years of age to earn 1s. 6d. a week picking stones off the land, or running messages, and they have to do that owing to the small wages their fathers receive. I would welcome such an amendment if it were possible to find some means of helping a man to rear his children and keep them at school until they are seventeen years of age. Personally, I see no earthly means at the present time, with so much unemployment in the country and with the small wages that the working people in the country are receiving, by which a working man would be able to keep his son at school until he is seventeen years of age. I will vote against the amendment.
The average boy who is apprenticed to this business goes to school until he is about fifteen years of age. Now, if we accept this amendment, he will be two years knocking about after leaving school until he is apprenticed to the licensed business. You might say that perhaps it would be better that he was not apprenticed to that business at all. But as things are, we know very well that if you pass this amendment the boy will be unemployed for the two years after leaving school before he reaches the age limit, and in those two years he will be acquiring idle habits. His father and mother will not be able to cultivate in him the virtue of obedience, and when he gets inside the counter of the publican, or grocer with a mixed business, his employer will not be able to make anything at all of him.
There will be no mixed business under this Bill.
You might take it from me that 90 per cent. of them are mixed businesses, and it is at the mixed business that the boy will serve his time.
That is going to be stopped under the Bill.
Will you have a bet on it? I urge very strongly that this amendment be not accepted, on the ground that a boy of seventeen years of age would be too far advanced, and the publican or grocer would not be able to control him properly or to teach him properly the tricks of the trade.
May I ask the Deputy how many years has a publican's assistant to serve as an apprentice before he is a fully-qualified tradesman?
I think this amendment is a little too drastic. I say that because the age of seventeen is too high. If the Deputy would alter his amendment so as to reduce that limit, perhaps he might get general agreement for it. The age at the moment as the law stands for children leaving school is fourteen years. If a boy wants to look for a position, and, if he has a taste for that business of assistant to a publican, the position will be that after leaving school he will have no occupation for three years while he is waiting to reach the age limit. As things are, his parents would not be able to keep him at school after he had reached the age of fourteen. For that reason I think that fixing the limit at seventeen years of age is a little bit too severe, and I think that limit might be modified. I think if the figure were put at sixteen the case would be met and the amendment accepted.
Deputy Daly's answer to my question throws light on this proposal. Leaving the age limit at seventeen years, if at that age the boy is apprenticed for three years he is a fully qualified salesman at twenty. Of course, this business requires a great deal of apprenticeship! If you reduce the age limit to sixteen years he is then a journeyman, as he might be called in another trade, at the age of nineteen—earlier than in any other trade. I think that the proposition to make it seventeen years, leaving the apprentice,mar eadh, to be a fully qualified man at twenty years of age, is a very mild proposition indeed. I will ask the Dáil to agree that seventeen years is quite early enough in which to ask any boy to learn the art and craft of selling whisky or drawing corks from porter bottles. During three years the employer gets the advantage of that boy's services at a low rate of pay, and that is quite long enough. Then the boy is twenty years of age when he becomes qualified as a fully-fledged salesman. Bear in mind that there is another factor to be taken into account. Selling implies also, or carries with it, the act of receiving money. And it is very easy in this particular trade to refrain from handing up all that has been received. Perhaps Deputy Daly would know something of that. To leave a boy under seventeen with that temptation is not right. To leave a boy over seventeen with that temptation is bad enough, but let us keep the boy under seventeen out of it. That is an aspect that is very important. Anybody who has experience of the trade will agree with me that there is a great deal of that kind of pilfering. I would urge the Dáil to agree that a boy under seventeen years of age should not be employed in this business.
I object to Deputy Johnson's "Lead us not into temptation" policy. If a boy is going to be honest, he is going to be honest. And if he is going to be a rogue he will be a bigger rogue and a more accomplished rogue at seventeen or eighteen than at fifteen or sixteen. As one who would like to see plenty of wages going into a labourer's home and into any poor person's home, I say that it would be better if a boy were a fully-fledged clerk at eighteen rather than be waiting until he is twenty. In that way he would be able to carry home his wages to his mother instead of having him running around the country picking crabs or wasting his time in some other way.
If we are going to accept this as a business, we are going to accept it as a business because it exists and because people are employed in it. We must look at it relatively as at any other occupation. I do not know when boys go as apprentices to the business of drapery, grocery, hardware and such occupations. I take it, it is after leaving school at fifteen years of age. If we accept this amendment at all it must be approached in some other manner or from some other view point. I think we must approach it from the point of view of giving them the same facilities as the others. It is not fair to expect a young fellow going into this trade, having finished school at the age of fifteen years, should wait until he is seventeen years before he can go into a place of business. I think this is the one business to which you do not want to attract the worst class of young man but the better class of young man. It does not improve such a young man to have him hanging around for two or three years after leaving school. I think if you admit that a boy would go into this business in the same way as he would into any other business you will have to treat him in the same way as a boy going into any other business. I do not agree to this seventeen years limit. I think fifteen years would be a fair limit to fix, and if you fix fifteen years there will be general agreement.
Might I point out that behind this question there is a principle of very considerable importance. From the discussions we have had in the Dáil about the educational standard we have almost unanimously come to the conclusion that it is too low. The standard of education reached by those leaving our primary schools is too low, and it is essential, in the interests of the State, to raise that standard of education. One of the ways in which you could raise that standard, and indeed one of the essential ways in which it could be raised, would be to raise the school-leaving age.
You have raised it.
It has not been raised yet. The school-leaving age is fourteen years and it has produced a standard that is admittedly too low. In order to get a higher standard for those leaving our schools and going into our trades and in order that they might be able to enter into competition with those leaving school and entering trades in other countries that we have to compete with, the school-leaving age must be raised.
We must have amongst those leaving our schools a standard of education equivalent to the standard that prevails elsewhere. The only way in which that can be done is by raising the school-leaving age. The school-leaving age ought, in my opinion, to be raised to 16 years. It has been pointed out in this particular trade that we have under consideration that it is a special trade, differing very materially from other trades. You want boys entering that trade, in view of the surroundings and the temptations in it that do not exist in other trades, to have their characters formed much more than would be necessary in the case of boys entering other trades. Therefore you must have a higher age limit in the case of boys entering that trade than is essential in the case of other trades. I agree with Deputy Johnson that a boy in that trade is not fit to meet what he is called upon to meet at a younger age than 17 years.
The question of the age limit at which a boy would be allowed to leave school, and the raising of that age limit, is, no doubt, a very important one; but I do not think it is at all likely the age for leaving school will be raised to 17 years. In the country districts those who send their sons to the licensed trade are to my own knowledge mostly small farmers and in some cases artisans. Some of those people have fairly large families and naturally they are desirous of sending some of their boys out to work. Unfortunately, in this country we have not sufficient industries at present to send boys to. We have not the work that we would like to apprentice them to; they cannot be apprenticed to certain trades, unfortunately, because the development of affairs that should have taken place here has not taken place. I know farmers, and I know artisans also, who send their boys to be apprenticed to the licensed business. Luckily I have no connection, either directly or indirectly, with the drink trade; I have no connection with the trade in any form and I am not speaking on behalf of it.
As regards the boys who are apprenticed, I believe they leave school at the age of fifteen years. Of course if the school attendance laws are insisted upon, and the age limit for leaving school is increased, the boys will benefit by reason of gaining a higher education which will be an advantage to them. In those circumstances they are not likely to be sent to the licensed trade. I quite agree with Deputies who have spoken that many boys have to be taken away from school because their parents can no longer afford to keep them there; the possibilities are the parents are not in a position to continue the children's education beyond the age of fifteen years, as their means will not allow them. The parents are so positioned that they cannot permit the children to remain at school in order to reap the advantage of a higher education. In many cases in the country boys are apprenticed at an early age in order that they may be of some assistance to their fathers, as the fathers have more than enough to contend with. A man might apprentice only one of his boys; he might not want to have the second apprenticed.
I think it would be much better in those cases to have the boys apprenticed rather than have them joining the number of idlers that we have in the country, picking up vices and spending their spare time, perhaps, in places that I would not like to mention here. They are supposed to be places of amusement, but I may say that it is a very bad form of amusement for some of the boys. If the amendment were to be adopted it would mean that many boys who could be apprenticed would be doing an odd day's work, possibly for their fathers. In the meantime they are likely to forget what they have learned from their teachers at school, and the moral education they received there—the education that was to fit them for any work they might be called upon to do in their native country. All that education and training is lost by the time they reach seventeen years. They would have to be sent to a night school or else they are going to be of very little value. I object specially for that reason to Deputy Johnson's amendment. If those boys have to go to that trade, if you recognise it as a trade, let them go immediately on leaving school, when their education, moral and otherwise, is about as high as ever they are likely to attain.
I hope that the Minister will not be led away by the arguments of Deputy Good. He talked about the age at which children should leave school. We are not discussing the Education Act, or the school-going age. When you have amended the Act it is time enough to apply it in this particular instance. You have not amended it, and I do not see the use in applying it.
We are going to amend it in the near future.
When you have done so you can amend this, too. It would, in fact, automatically amend itself. If a young boy is kept at school until he is 15 years of age, and if he has to wait until he is 17 in order to be apprenticed, he is either doing something useful in his own home or otherwise going to the devil. It may be that he would be kept on at school, if his parents are able to afford keeping him there until he is 17 years of age; but then it is scarcely likely that he will go to the licensed business. The class of boy from which apprentices to the licensed trade are usually taken does not get a university education. I could not imagine a man with a higher education going behind a bar. I do not think the terms of this amendment could be agreed to. It would not be right, and it is not treating the community fairly.
It occurred to me in the course of the discussion that possibly a reasonable compromise in this amendment would be to fix the age at 16 years. There is force and point in two lines that have been argued. It has been pointed out on the one hand that people apprenticed to this trade do not earn anything for two years, and that the age of 19 or 20 years is rather advanced to have a young fellow earning no money. If we fix this age of 17 years it means, as has been pointed out, a period of waiting and idleness for a boy after he has left school, and that period of idleness or knocking about may not be for his advantage or for the advantage of his neighbours. On the other hand, Deputy Good was quite sound when he said this trade was not exactly like another. It is an occupation which involves dangers and temptations that do not exist in the hardware or grocery business, and that a boy going into that environment ought to go in with his character some way definitely formed. Now, weighing up those two lines, one would think that 16 years in the present circumstances would not be an unreasonable age to fix. If, later on, the school-leaving age is raised by law, then it seems to me that this thing, as Deputy Gorey remarked, solves itself. If boys are obliged to continue in school to the age of 16 they probably would not be going into this or any other occupation until, perhaps, they are 17 years of age. I would suggest to the proposer of the amendment that he ought to consider accepting sixteen as a reasonable compromise. It would, perhaps, need to be examined as to what extent existing contracts of apprenticeship would have to be specifically exempted by the Bill.
I am only concerned with keeping the Bill right. I think it is very inconsistent, having passed a Section under which no boy under eighteen years of age can be served with alcoholic drink, in the same enactment, to allow a boy of sixteen to go behind a counter to serve drink, and to give him facilities, which he will have, as regards the freedom of a publichouse. If the Minister preferred to have the age raised to eighteen to make the thing uniform, it would be much wiser than fixing the age at sixteen.
I agree with Deputy McGoldrick that it would be much better if this amendment specified eighteen years of age. I would prefer it, but I thought to make a compromise and to endeavour to get general assent by putting the age at seventeen.
I would point out that there are two classes of licensed houses. There is the licensed house that sells nothing but intoxicants of one kind or another, and there is another, which the Bill, as introduced, hoped to abolish, and that is the mixed house. I think that most Deputies who opposed this amendment, when speaking about apprenticeship, were thinking more about mixed trading, such as the grocery trade, the hardware trade, and the licensed trade. If there is to be abolition of the mixed trade, then we will be faced with the prospect of having boys apprenticed to the licensed trade pure and simple. If that be so, I urge that there is no case made out for putting a boy younger than seventeen to that trade. The question of attendance at school is mentioned. Leaving out the question of raising the school age altogether, we have made provision for evening classes, and we are hopeful to encourage the attendance at evening schools, continuation schools, and technical classes of one kind or another for boys. You are depriving the boy who goes into this business of that opportunity. If he goes into it at sixteen years of age you simply say to him: "You, at any rate, are going to be deprived of the opportunity of the evening classes." Seventeen is even too early, I admit, but that is the term in the amendment. In the cities, certainly, and in some of the towns, and possibly in the country districts, the purely licensed house is to one's very great regret, very largely, at the present time, the rendezvous for bookmakers and bettingmen. Put a boy under sixteen years of age into that environment, and you are destroying him. Let us then raise the age as high as we reasonably can.
Take the other proposition that the mixed trade is going to continue, and a question comes up before a father, whether his boy is going to learn the mixed grocery and drink trade. He goes to a shop at sixteen. Surely one year behind the grocery counter can be served before he touches the drink side. If he is going to learn the business, let him devote the first year or two to the general business of the grocery or hardware, or to the other business conducted in that mixed trade. We are not depriving that boy from going to such a business and learning it. The amendment simply asks that he should not be engaged in the selling of drink before seventeen years of age. I do not feel justified in agreeing to sixteen years as a compromise. I think seventeen should be taken as a compromise, or eighteen, and I believe seventeen is too low, but in view of the general conditions I put down seventeen as a reasonable proposition, and I cannot agree to withdraw from that position.
One point in the argument of Deputy Johnson was that all the houses in the country districts should have separate departments, and should have separate people to deal with each department. Deputy Johnson's ideas would be found to look very rosy on paper, but I would like to find the small trader in the country with the mixed business who would be able to put a boy into one particular department and say that he shall not leave that particular department for one or two years. We all know how business is carried on in the country. Perhaps it is different in the cities, where they can do that, but to say that it can be done in the country, where you have groceries and sometimes cloth business, is not in accordance with the facts, and the boy has to attend to the one as well as the other. It would be difficult to meet Deputy Johnson's suggestion. If a house was large, and had different departments, the thing could be done, but in the ordinary case in the country it would be absolutely impossible to do it, and for that reason I think Deputy Johnson is quite wrong on this occasion. If he agrees to the suggestion put forward by the Minister, I think he would be doing what is right.
I am beginning to feel now as if the publicans' case was being met with a certain amount of prejudice, and for this reason: why is there not a certain age laid down for a boy who is going to enter a chemist's shop, whether it be seventeen years or eighteen years? He is going to handle more dangerous things than whiskey and he might give you a dose stronger than whiskey, but there is nothing at all about that. This is all directed against the unfortunate publican. I think that there is no boy of seventeen who would knuckle down to going inside a counter for anybody. The boy of seventeen nowadays would be ashamed to handle a pen or to handle anything except a gun. I object to seventeen. I would agree to fifteen, when a boy would leave school and, as Deputy Dalton pointed out, with his education fresh upon him. Deputy Johnson pointed out that he cannot go to the technical school. As to that, the average business house in towns shuts up at 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening, and if a boy likes he can go to the technical schools or the Irish school or any other school. I object to this amendment.
The discussion upon this amendment has been quite interesting, and discloses a claim on behalf of the licensed trade which, if conceded, would reduce the age at which a boy can serve in a publichouse. On the other hand, I think Deputy Johnson has put the case very clearly and fairly. I would say, even supposing it may be a hardship and a difficulty on the licensed holder, that we cannot ignore the fact that, to-day, the claim of the country is on behalf of our young people: to protect them, as far as possible from unreasonable temptation, and if it can be secured, to start them in life with a better education and a better outlook than young people had in the past.
And the means of finding work for them?
If the means of finding work for the young people is going to prejudice parents in favour of putting their children behind a publichouse counter, then I say that is wrong. In the case of a boy of tender years, parents, in my opinion, had better put him to break stones on the road than to serve his apprenticeship in a publichouse, where his business would be to hand out drink. The Minister has put forward a strong proposal for a compromise. On full consideration of the matter, I would ask the Dáil to reject that compromise. In putting down the age at seventeen years we are not putting it any higher than the general opinion of the country would endorse. Let us, at the present time, ignore the question that has been raised by Deputy Daly about our young people going out with guns. Let us look forward to the time when better things will happen for our young people than to have them going out with guns. In so far as this Dáil is concerned, I think all of us ought to aim at a higher standard in the future than to put boys of fifteen to serve drink behind the publichouse counter, because certainly their characters are not formed at that age.
I am strongly in favour of Deputy Johnson's amendment, and I do not think that this is a question on which we ought to compromise. As the last speaker pointed out, we ought, in a matter of this kind, to regard first and foremost the interests of the boy, and hence I do not see how we can compromise on a matter like this. The arguments that have been used in defence of lowering the age might have been used to defend the retention of the child chimney-sweeper and the child factory hand. I do not think there is any real argument for this claim except the material one. I agree that the publican may have some claim for compensation, but that is a matter we will have to look into. We will have to see that injustice must not be done, but I think that we ought not to consent to anything that would lead to the deterioration of the youth of this country. They have temptations enough, as it is, in their way, and we ought not to consent to this one in connection with drink.
I am sorry that Deputy Hewat did not see his way to accept the Minister's suggestion, because I think that sixteen is a reasonable suggestion in this case. I would not even call it a compromise, because it has more of the elements of right about it than anything which suggests a compromise. If the age of seventeen is left in and a boy is to apprentice himself, for, say, two years without any salary or only a nominal salary, you will have that boy, when he reaches eighteen or nineteen years of age, seeing other youths resorting to licensed houses and spending money while he has none to spend. There is certainly a temptation there, and you are not treating the boy fairly in leaving him from seventeen to nineteen years of age in receipt of such a salary as will prejudice him in the eyes of other boys, such as trade apprentices, clerks, or youths in other occupations. The school age is fourteen at present, and the boy has got two years before he enters this business. There is not a lot of difference between sixteen and seventeen years of age, as far as the use of reason is concerned. A boy ought to be a sensible youth at sixteen, and to keep him from seventeen to nineteen without any hope of an increase in wages, having regard to modern requirements, is certainly unfair. It has been suggested that there are certain places in which it would be unsafe to put boys of tender years. I think there is fair discrimination exercised by those who send boys to these places. They are very particular about the institutions to which they send their boys. There is always a reluctance to send them to places where the boys would be open to temptation. There is no doubt that the ordinary small farmer cannot afford to keep a boy from sixteen to seventeen bringing in no money whatever. It is all very well as a headline or as a pious expression of opinion to say that boys should not be subjected to temptation, but you cannot alter the fact that, in the present economic situation, parents cannot afford such an interruption in the life of a boy at that particular period. I think that the age of sixteen is not a compromise at all, but a sound suggestion, and I think it ought to be accepted.
I desire, also, to support the suggestion that the age should be sixteen. As one who has had considerable experience in the various trades mentioned, I do not at all agree that the licensed trade has all the temptations that have been adverted to. A boy working in a licensed house does not get out until 10 o'clock at night, according to the terms of the new Bill. In other words, he does not get out at all, because if he is working in a proper house he will have to go to bed shortly after that hour. On the other hand, a boy engaged in the drapery, hardware or grocery trades is free every evening at about 6 o'clock, and after that he probably spends his time knocking about the streets or in the picture house. I suggest that such boys would be just as well off and perhaps better if they were working, as they would be if they were engaged in licensed houses. I consider that sixteen would be a fair age, and with regard to the other matter that has been referred to, I hope that we will soon see legislation introduced that will bring the school-leaving age up to sixteen. That would then cover the entire age limit with regard to all businesses.
I do not know what Deputy Johnson's intention is with regard to his amendment, but I hope he will at least put it to the House. I have heard the arguments used by the President and by Deputy Shaw, and I hope that the President will not think that I am plagiarising from his accustomed expression when I say that they did not greatly impress me. The President pointed out that the ordinary small farmer could not afford to keep his son between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, but I would have thought that it would have been accepted that the type of boy that would be put into a licensed trader's business would be the licensed trader's son, not the farmer's son. The majority of licensed traders in this country are admittedly not making a very bad business out of it, and the majority of them could very easily afford between those years to let their sons be more profitably employed than behind the counter. Deputy Shaw clinched home one of the very strongest arguments used by Deputy Johnson. I do not know whether he perceived it to be so or not, because Deputy Johnson had grounded his case on this, largely, that the boy who went into a publichouse or a licensed trader's business between the ages of fifteen and seventeen had during that time removed from him the opportunities of any extra education, and Deputy Shaw stated that the boy does not get out at all, because he would be kept there until the hour that the shop closed and then he would be sent to bed. That is exactly the case that Deputy Johnson has put, that during these years the boy ought to have his opportunity, in common with boys in any other trade, of seeking out of hours education if he desires to do so. I hope that Deputy Johnson will put his amendment to the House, and I do so chiefly for this reason. The Minister for Justice put it in this form, that when the boy had turned sixteen he had entered upon his seventeenth year, which was a very wily form of putting his argument. But we do know that twelve months at that time of life means a very great deal more in the life of a human being than twelve months at any other time of life. Between fifteen and twenty, a year can be reckoned in formative influence as equal to four or five years at any other time in a man's life, and that one year is probably as critical a year as any other year in the whole of a man's life. During that year it is desirable that the boy should not be brought into touch with the influences with which he would be brought into touch if he were in the habit of being behind a publichouse bar all the time.
There is another question. Deputy Daly referred to prejudices. There is no question whatever of prejudices, but there is, I think, a case of recognising the facts as we know them to exist. Whatever be the cause, we do know that very undesirable influences are in the habit of frequenting the publichouse. I hope that they are not the only people who are in the habit of frequenting the publichouse, but they are there, and those who will serve behind a bar are brought into contact with them. Deputy Johnson mentioned the question of those who made "books" and those who engaged in gambling.
Would they only go to the public house?
They certainly do go to the public house; they certainly will be found there, and they certainly come into contact with boys who serve in the public house, and the difference between sixteen and seventeen is not the small matter that is suggested. It is a very important year in a man's life, and I hope that Deputy Johnson, whatever the fate of the amendment will be, will put it to the House.
I would remind Deputy Figgis that you can also learn very good lessons in those particular institutions, great lessons in Christian charity, in kindness, in humanity, and in many of the other virtues which, perhaps, you would not find in another institution. Do not let it be assumed that these places are dens of vice. They are not. Some of them are dens of vice, of course. But nevertheless, there is brought home to young boys some of the realities of life that are very useful to them. I would like to tell the Deputy that an examination of licence-holders will disclose that very few of their sons go into the business.
I am not questioning in the least the substance of what the President has just stated. My argument was on the lines of the arguments of previous speakers, that there are temptations to be found in such places, and probably also these other lessons to be learnt, but the discrimination to pick between them is hardly likely to be attained by boys of sixteen.
I rise to support the suggestion that sixteen should be the age, and I take this opportunity of entering a protest against the atmosphere of prejudice that has been created by unrealities in this House against the licensed trader. I never heard such unreal talk in my life as I have within the past hour. One would think that the licensed trader was someone that was unclean, whereas in order to get a licence the man's character from the time of his birth until he applies for the licence, practically, is investigated by the police authorities to see if there is anything that should prevent him from getting a licence. I have known publicans when selecting apprentices, the majority of whom were small farmers' sons, requiring to be satisfied by the school teacher, by the parish priest, and by anybody that counted for anything in the country, that the boy was one of the best boys in the district. To hear the talk going on to-day about grocers' assistants, one would think that they had an unclean record. Will any Deputy show me any one case—I will ask for one case—of a failure in connection with grocers' assistants? Show me a case of a grocer's assistant with a bad character. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the boy coming into the business must show a pledge that he is a teetotaller, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred to-day they are teetotallers, and are of the best class in the community.
I was engaged in the licensed trade; I am out of it now for some time. I hold no brief for the trade, but I protest against the unfair atmosphere which has been created against it. In my time, at any rate, when a boy from the country came to the trade, the licensed trader looked after him, looked after his character in every way as if he were his own son, and entered into a solemn contract with the father that while he was a boy and under his control, he would see that he attended to his religious duties, and he would see, as far as lay in his power, that the boy would be a credit to the father and a credit to the house in which he served his time. I say this because of the number of boys that I knew in the trade, who came to the trade as teetotallers, and the number of boys who went through the trade for many years and remained teetotallers, a number of whom to-day own their houses, and are still teetotallers.
I now get away from the licensed trade, and I will put this point in support of the sixteen years. In the country districts the small farmer with four or five sons is able to keep one or two at home. He makes an effort to get another into the drapery business, and he sends another to Dublin to serve his time in the grocery trade. The grocery trade in Dublin carries with it the serving of drink behind the counter. I have seen a boy serving bread and butter at one counter, crossing to another and serving drink, and he served the drink without ever touching it, as if he were serving bread and butter and ordinary groceries. I think it is unfair to make such an attack, to say that these boys coming from the country have not been able to look after themselves, when you look round and see their success and the good class of young man that is behind the publichouse counter to-day. I very seldom speak here, but I hope that the suggestion of sixteen years will be accepted by the House, and that it will not ask those small farmers or those men in the country who send their sons to the grocery business in Dublin to keep them at home until they are seventeen years of age, probably walking about from the time they leave school at fifteen or fifteen and a-half years, until they are seventeen years. I think it is unfair to the boy and to his father, who expects something of him when he is about twenty years of age. They come to serve their time at very small wages. I have seen boys coming to serve their time, and in order to keep them right, in every way they merely got small pocket-money and were clothed, for the first year. For the second year they got a moderate salary, and for the third year a fairly reasonable salary. After that they were free to leave the house they served their time in, and look for a better position, and I am glad to say that the majority of them that I knew turned out a great success.
Like Deputy Byrne, I do not very often speak in the Dáil, but when I do, I generally talk about a matter of which I do know something. Other people take up a lot of time airing their views about every subject under the sun that a great many people listening to them know very well that they know nothing about. I have been twenty-five years in business, and I have put hundreds of apprentices through my hands. They have been engaged in various ways, and I always found that the percentage of assistants that went wrong was very small, and that there was a great deal more out of other trades, on the grounds I have explained, that they had a good deal of time to go round the town and get into more serious temptation than they would get into in a publichouse. There is an idea abroad, seemingly, that it is a place where there is a great temptation, but I am aware from my experience that if a boy is inclined to go wrong it does not matter if he is in the licensed trade or in any other trade, he will go wrong. My experience is that boys go wrong much more frequently in the case of other trades.
I do not want to rise too often, as I think I have spoken three times already, and Deputy Byrne said a good deal of what I wanted to say. Behind some of the arguments that are used here is the imputation that young men engaged in the grocery or spirit trade have gone and are going wrong and are likely to go wrong. I want to emphasize what Deputy Byrne said—that from my knowledge, and I have some knowledge of the young men in the trade coming from the country—many of them from the county I come from—they make as good citizens and as clean livers as there are in any other trade. I should say a lesser percentage of young men in that trade go wrong than in other trades. I will not say they are better, but they are certainly as good. Behind the whole thing is the implication that they are not. It is a lie, and it is uttered by men who do not know what they are talking of, and who merely get up to air their eloquence.
Who does Deputy Gorey refer to?
Perhaps I will make it plainer when I have finished. This is used as a wedge to raise the school-going age. Why not have the common pluck to face it and raise it without using this as a leverage? What are parents going to do with their sons between the ages of fifteen, sixteen and seventeen? Teach them to be poets and politicians? We have seen some of our poets and politicians, and they are not a credit either to this Dáil or to the general community. Talking about temptation, there is more temptation in any of the other trades in the city, more temptation outside on the streets, temptation in places all round the streets, and they are availed of as much, or more so, by men engaged in other businesses than by men engaged in the grocery or spirit trade.
It has been said there are black sheep in the flocks of men in the spirit trade. I suppose there are, but there are black sheep in every flock—black sheep amongst our politicians, men engaged in politics whose names stink in the nostrils of decent men, fly boys in every trade, fly boys amongst politicians, and fly boys amongst the spirit trade, and when we start making comparisons we ought to be quite honest about it. We should not try to insult the young men who are being brought up in this trade. If there are statistics to prove their accusations let them get them and prove them. Behind it all—I am sure it is intended by a good many Deputies—is the implication that these are the most dishonest and most immoral of our citizens. That is a lie and everybody knows it.
There has been a great amount of heat imported into this discussion. It is a wonder that the Dáil passed the proposition that a female person under the age of eighteen should not be allowed to serve drink——
Quite right, too. It is not an atmosphere for a girl.
Does the Deputy mean that it is right not to allow a young woman to be engaged in the sale of intoxicating liquor?
The Deputy means that no young woman should be engaged in that trade, that it is not a place for a woman. It is a place for men, but not for women.
That is exactly what I am trying to make out. These places are for producing the highest character of citizen that we have, and they are places where you should have no hesitation in sending your sons and daughters. There is really no reason why the child of four, seven, ten, and up to nineteen or twenty, should not be sent into these publichouses, boys or girls, so far as character-forming is concerned, and yet the Dáil has agreed that it is not desirable that a young female person should go into that business. Why? Because there is a feeling in every man's mind here that the influences surrounding that business are not productive of the best character from the child. The boy or girl arrives at a certain age, develops certain protective powers, and it may be quite safe, but the very arguments that are used by Deputies from convictions they have, that it is not well for women under a certain age to go into that business to sell intoxicating liquor, is the argument that I use for the boy under seventeen.
I am not charging people engaged in the business with being less moral, efficient, or reputable citizens than others. I am not charging the employer of an apprentice with any less character than any other employer. I am saying this, and I defy any person who has any experience to deny it, that the men who congregate at a publichouse bar relax very frequently, and get into the habit of speaking about things that they will not speak about before their own sons and daughters.
They do it everywhere.
Yes, but they do it more frequently when they gather in a publichouse. There is no man who knows anything about it, and is honest, but will accept that position. The case made by the President can be met if the employers in this business would pay the apprentices a certain wage instead of allowing them to go for the first year for nothing. We are asked to pass a proposition here allowing the boy of sixteen to be employed in a publichouse up to 10 o'clock at night, any time from 9 in the morning until 10 at night. For that two years he is receiving practically nothing.
There is a Shop Hours Act which prevents a boy of a certain age working more than a certain number of hours. They are generally let off in the evening at six o'clock.
We know how well the Shops Hours Act is evaded and how little it is enforced. The President and Deputy Shaw reminded the House, and I would ask the House to bear it in mind, that there is going to be a reduction in the number of licensed houses in this country for the future. The publicans who are able to ensure that the character of the house is of as high a nature as is suggested, will have an opportunity to send their children to work in it, and there will be no room for people outside to find employment in public houses in the future. Why is it that the publican does not send his boy to the business? I have known dozens of publicans who dislike the business, and say quite frankly that they would not allow their boys to be brought up in the business. It is not because the publican himself is of a bad character in any way whatever, but that he knows the influences the boy is subjected to are not good, and he waits until his boy is of an age to resist those influences to a much greater extent than a youth of sixteen can do. Deputy Byrne and others still talk about apprentices to the grocery business. I am visualising what the Bill tends to, that there shall be a distinction between the grocery business and the sale of intoxicating liquor. If you want to apprentice your boy to the grocery business, then this amendment will not interfere with it. The publican will then have the grocery business allied with the liquor business. The young apprentice can be maintained in the grocery until he is seventeen, and then finish his apprenticeship in the liquor side if he wishes. There is no charge against the character of the people engaged in the business, but there is this definite recognition that the surroundings and the habitués of very many public houses, particularly in the towns and cities, are not of a character with which we would like our own boys of sixteen to be associated. Deputy Byrne, I am sure, will admit that.
Associated with. If ten, twelve, or twenty men are round a publichouse counter, and if a boy of sixteen is handing out beer, whiskey, or stout to these people, hearing the conversation, and hearing them discuss matters that enter into the general atmosphere of the place, you know that the influence is not a good one on that boy. I would ask the Dáil to agree with the amendment.
I would like to know what bearing the Minister's suggestion will have on those already engaged in the business? It is a foregone conclusion that the amendment will be defeated if it goes to a Division. I would like to know if those already engaged in the trade, who are under 16 years, will be allowed to continue in their employment after the passing of the Bill, or will the section be further amended on the Report Stage to the effect that the Bill shall only apply from the date of passing?
Deputy Johnson and Deputy Figgis pointed out that there was a danger of bookmakers gambling in publichouses. Gambling is not permitted in publichouses. Even a game of cards is not permitted there. If a bookmaker was found transacting business on the premises the licence would be wiped out.
If the amendment passes, then clearly it will become illegal to have employed serving alcoholic drink a male person under seventeen years. If the amendment is accepted, and if we consider that the stringency of the regulations would call for any exemptions or exceptions, we would bring forward an amendment on the Report Stage. The amendment could conceivably take the form of exempting persons who are at the moment in bonds of apprenticeship with employers in the trade. Personally, I will vote for Deputy Johnson's amendment. As an individual I am in favour of it, and from the discussion that took place I thought that possibly sixteen years would meet the general view. If the amendment is put to a vote I will vote for it.
Deputy Johnson, Deputy Hewat, Deputy Good and Deputy Alton said that boys engaged as apprentices in licensed premises have no further opportunity for education. That is not correct. As a member of a technical committee, I am aware of the fact that the principal licensed houses in one district close at 8 p.m. That refers to houses in which there are apprentices. Other licensed houses where that does not apply will, possibly, soon be done away with. The sooner the better. Farmers' sons are not sent as apprentices to the latter houses. Out of an attendance of 70 at technical classes that I referred to, at least 35 of the boys were engaged at the licensed trade during the day.
Would the Deputy tell us if they were engaged at the grocery or publichouse end?
The business they were engaged in deals with both ends. In country towns you have the two businesses combined, and the apprentices are at both.
Under the Bill they will not be combined in the future, that is, if the Bill passes as it now stands.
It has not passed yet.
- Earnán Altún.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- John J. Cole.
- Bryan R. Cooper.
- Darrell Figgis.
- Desmond Fitzgerald.
- John Good.
- William Hewat.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Pádraig S. Mag Ualghairg.
- Tomás de Nogla.
- Tomás O Conaill.
- Aodh O Cúlacháin.
- Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
- Aindriú O Láimhín.
- Pádraic O Máille.
- Risteárd O Maolchatha.
- Caoimhghín O hUigín.
- Liam Thrift.
- Pádraig F, Baxter.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Séamus de Búrca.
- John Conlan.
- Louis J. D'Alton.
- John Daly.
- Séamus Eabhróid.
- Henry J. Finlay.
- John Hennigan.
- Connor Hogan.
- Tomás Mac Artúir.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
- Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
- Patrick McKenna.
- Martin M. Nally.
- John T. Nolan.
- Peadar O hAodha.
- Ailfrid O Broin.
- Criostoir O Broin.
- Seán O Bruadair.
- Séamus N. O Dóláin.
- Eamon O Dubhghaill.
- Eamon S. O Dúgáin.
- Seán O Duinnín.
- Donchadh S. O Guaire.
- Mícheál R. O hIfearnáin.
- Seán O Laidhin.
- Séamus O Leadáin.
- Fionán O Loingsigh.
- Tadhg P. O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
- Pádraig K. O hOgáin (Luimneach).
- Seán Príomhdhail.
- Patrick W. Shaw.
I will bring forward an amendment on the Report Stage making the age 16 years.
Would it be in order to bring forward the amendment, considering that this has been defeated?
An amendment making the age sixteen years would be different.
I know, but why is it not brought forward now and discussed at this stage?
It cannot be brought forward now.
Then it cannot be brought forward at all.
I move to report progress.