I think that this may be withdrawn in view of the promise of the Minister to alter the word "employ" in Section 9. The intention was to make clear what was meant by the word "employ."
DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924—THIRD STAGE (RESUMED).
Amendment 51 not moved. Amendments 52, 53 and 54 are outside the scope of this Bill. They concern conditions of labour rather than the intoxicating liquor problem.
Do you rule that they do not imply the conditions under which the licence holder may employ persons? The intention here is to impose certain obligations upon the licence holder in regard to the employment of his assistants. These amendments were put down in the belief that they were imposing another obligation upon the licence holder, to those obligations embodied in the draft of the Bill. Am I to take it you rule that these conditions respecting the employment of labour on premises, hours and such like, are outside the scope of the Bill?
Yes; they have no counterpart in the draft of the Bill.
Amendments 52, 53 and 54 ruled out of order.
Amendments 55 and 56 are out of order, for the same reasons as amendments 52, 53, and 54.
I beg to move Amendment 57:—
In sub-section (1), line 15, after the word "licence" to insert the words:—After the date of the next Annual Licensing Sessions in his district at which sessions it shall be lawful for said licence holder to obtain in lieu of any licence for the sale of liquor for consumption off the premises, a licence for the sale of liquor for consumption on the premises.
I move this amendment, not that I expect it will be carried, but because I want to seek an emphatic decision from the Committee against the advisability of any further extension of spirit grocers' licences. There are over 300 of them in the annual return of the 26 Counties for 1881. I have not got the figures as to how they have increased since, but I think it would be desirable, when we come to deal with the licensed trade as it must be dealt with after the temporary extension of this measure we are now passing, to regulate it in the interval, that we should have one register to deal with, and one status for licence holders. I think that would facilitate us very much in our dealing with the trade generally. On the other hand, I feel that nothing is gained to temperance by compelling those people to sell only for consumption off the premises. We all know that that is a condition that is not observed. The only way to have it observed would be by sufficient supervision, in the way of police or otherwise. That, to my mind, would require one of the Gárda Síochána to be almost all the time in the spirit grocer's premises, so I do not see that it is advisable to continue those people in this position. I think it would be much better if they had the facilities that are suggested in this amendment to come before the court and obtain a regular retail liquor licence. I am putting it to the Committee that I do not think that it does anything except improve the position for us, and leave us free to deal with this trade in the way it would have to be dealt with on a common basis for all licence holders, and with that object in view I move the amendment.
I hope the Deputy's pessimism with regard to this amendment is well founded. His proposal is to enable three or four hundred people in the Saorstát, who at present hold spirit grocers' licences for the sale of drink for consumption off the premises, to blossom out as fully-fledged licensed traders. And the Deputy gave as his reason for that that the condition under which they hold the limited class of licence which they do hold are in practice frequently violated, so that the punishment, for the violation of the conditions on which the present licences are held, is to be the granting of a much more comprehensive, and much more valuable licence. I cannot agree with that view. I should say that the proper course to take, when the conditions on which a licence is granted are habitually or seriously broken, is to withdraw such licence, and if the Deputy will bear with us, for a little time, I trust that police efficiency will so improve that it will not be possible for people to continue holding licences of this kind who habitually break the conditions on which they got them. In the meantime I would ask for the rejection of the amendment.
In sub-sections (1), (2) and (3), lines 17, 26-27, and 34, after the word "highway" where it occurs to insert the words "lane or byeway."
Sub-section (1) reads:—
If any purchaser of any intoxicating liquor from the holder of a licence to which this section applies drinks such liquor on the premises where the same was sold to him or on any highway adjoining or near such premises, such licence holder shall, if it shall appear that such drinking was with his privity or consent, be guilty of an offence under this section, and upon summary conviction thereof shall be liable, in the case of a first offence, to a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds, and in the case of any subsequent offence shall forfeit his licence.
I think that unless there is a very clear understanding that "highway" includes "byeway, lane and path" we should add something to ensure that the intentions of the section shall not be evaded, and therefore my proposal is made in the hope that it would cover all that would be required.
I will accept the Deputy's amendment. I am inclined to think that it is an improvement to the Bill. The word "highway," as far as I can gather, appears to be a technical term meaning road or way going from one inhabited place to another over which all citizens have the right to pass, and I take the view that if the off-licence holder is to be expected to prevent people drinking in the highway outside his shop it seems reasonable to make him exercise the same supervision over lands, or byeways adjoining his premises.
I move that the section be deleted. It seems to me that Section 12 is going to replace Section 13 as far as its being an unlucky number is concerned. In this country nearly 70 per cent. of licence holders carry on a dual business, and if you take away one of the businesses you may as well take away the two, because it takes the two to give a living to the publican, or the grocer, whichever you like to call him. In addition to that he would require to have two assistants and two tills, and the publican's fatherly eye could not be on both ends of the shop. In the towns where you have a chain of shops the house space is so small and the houses are so long and so narrow, as any of us who go into publichouses know, that you cannot divide them. Generally, the publican's business is at one end of the shop and the grocery at the other end, and it is an impossibility to divide them. I am certain that nearly every Deputy, at any rate every fair-minded Deputy, will vote to reject this clause, knowing the hardship that it would inflict on the publicans, the traders if you like, and the country in general. We are told that after this Bill we will have another very soon, so that it would not be worth our while to pass this terrible clause. I am sure from what I know of the Dáil and from the number of Deputies to whom I have been speaking, that this stands a twenty-to-one chance against, and for that reason I will not waste time by saying more, but I ask you to reject it. I think the Minister for Justice knows that it does not stand as good a chance as Charley's Mount did, and for that reason he very wisely told us, in Deputy Johnson's own words, to go our own way, and I think our own way will be for once in the course of a week to stand to the publican.
I also wish to support the amendment. The principle reason which I put forward in doing so, is the financial position in which the persons interested in this trade are, especially in the small towns. At present owing to the non-circulation of money, the very bad trade, and also to the fact, which is a good one, that this country, no matter what may be said about it, has improved immensely for the past few years in connection with the amount of drink sold, I say, without going into any of the details with regard to the impossibility of carrying out the structural alterations, that these people will not be in a position financially to carry out any alterations, because they are only struggling to exist.
Under these circumstances that is the principal plank that I stand on, that this proposal, at present anyhow, is an absolutely impossible one, and I hope that the Dáil will unanimously reject it. With regard to the carrying out of the alterations, even if the financial position were all right, from my knowledge of various small licensed houses it would be practically an impossibility to carry it out. You would require to have in each of these houses two entrances, and you would also require to have a double staff. At present the publican's son or daughter, or perhaps an assistant, is able to carry on the very small business that he does. If the alterations suggested in the Bill were to be carried out the person who would be attending in the grocery would not be able to attend in the bar, and it would mean that the license holder would be obliged to engage more help. In the circumstances, then, that I have pointed out, that people in that trade are mostly only struggling, I certainly ask the Dáil unanimously to strike this out of all engagements.
I beg to support the last two speakers. When this Bill appeared I made it my business to go to a great number of districts to find out what difficulties would arise. There is not this great trade in small houses in villages. They are barely able to exist, and if they are called upon to alter their buildings, as is proposed, the greater number of them will be very nearly "broke." It is not a question of selling drink so much as of supporting their unfortunate families. Taxation at present is extremely high in order to meet the demands of the country, and so long as these demands are there it is our duty to meet them; but you cannot get all the flesh off a body, because the body will not exist when it all disappears. You cannot live on bones, and this is a plea, not for the sale of intoxicating liquor, but by the unfortunate families who have embarked upon this business to keep their children going. Under these circumstances I have very much pleasure in supporting the amendment.
I am not particularly optimistic about the fate of this section. I was aware that there was quite a considerable volume of opinion outside the Dáil and in the Dáil against it. I was aware of that when the provision was inserted in the Bill. I left the provision in, not so much as a Governmental or party measure, because however strong one's convictions, one must have a sense of proportion, and the fate of a Government could scarcely be jeopardised on an issue of this kind, but because I wanted to ask Deputies to get back to first principles in this whole question of the licensed trade and the conditions in which licensed traders ply their trade in the country. They are unlike other traders —I said this frequently in the course of this Bill, and I will repeat it—they are unlike the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker; they are monopolists. People are not allowed, now at any rate, to rush freely into competition with the members of the licensed trade. They hold their licence on certain conditions, and hedged around with certain safeguards, which the State, otherwise the people, thought fit to apply from time to time according to the changed needs. The people, through their fabric of Government, have a right at any time to say what these conditions shall be, how they shall be served by this particular trade, and I submit seriously for the consideration of Deputies that it is time that the people should say with regard to this particular trade, the time has come when the man who wants to run it jointly with some other business shall at least run it as a separate Department if under the same roof, or at least run it with structural separation between it and whatever other business he chooses to carry on. I would ask the Dáil to take the view that the people of the country have that simple right from these monopolists—have the right to say that their wives and children going in on other business shall not be put into the position of having to force their way into a shop through men drinking their pints, and even this —that men going in on other business shall not be subjected to the temptation of prolonging their stay and spending more time and more money than they had intended to spend by being subjected to the temptation of refreshing themselves, perhaps with friends and neighbours whom they may meet there.
On another amendment I sketched the development in this particular trade for the last forty or fifty years. I showed how our own people, honorary magistrates of the past, had, so to speak, cut a rod to beat the back of the community, had in an unthinking, short-sighted way added licence to licence in a land which was already overstocked with licences of the kind, with the result that we have now certainly twice and probably three times the number of publichouses that are genuinely required. The men who never attended the ordinary Petty Sessions Court to fulfil the functions of their office trooped in periodically to these quarterly Licensing Sessions to deal out licences to their friends and neighbours in a light-hearted, irresponsible, foolishly genial kind of way. That was corrupt; that was jobbery; that was favouring the individual at the cost of the community, and there was a development from that, the development being that the man who got the superfluous licence quickly discovered it was a superfluous licence, quickly discovered that he had not struck a gold mine, that he was superfluous in that particular trade, that even already, before his advent, the position in that trade was that there was scarcely enough legitimate business to go round. He called in the local carpenter, knocked up another counter, and proceeded to traffic in other commodities, and there you had then the phenomenon of a man eking out one business with another, superfluous in both. You have had a steady multiplication of petty distributors in the necessaries of life with consequent increased cost to the consumer. The consumer always pays. He pays for the luxury of having, perhaps, twice the number of distributors in his village that are necessary. Competition is too often a mockery, a delusion, and a snare; something that is non-existent. It is far more likely that instead of competition ruling prices, that prices are ruled for the weakest link in the chain to enable the most superfluous and the least efficient of the petty distributors to maintain himself and his family. Now, the people should think seriously whether the time has not come for a reversal of engines on that whole process. We have heard of hardship, terrible hardship, on individuals by the proposal embodied in this section.
In the past favour was done to the individual at the cost of the community. Without wishing to lay down any very grim doctrine, we should consider whether we are not prepared now at this hour, having learned our lesson, to do a favour to the community at the cost of the individual. Goldsmith's lines might be adapted, and we might speak of
A land to hastening ills a prey,
Where pubs accumulate and men decay.
No one wants to see this country overridden as it is with licensed establishments for the sale of alcoholic liquor. Everyone would like to see a reversal of engines on that mad, foolish process of the past, by which the country was sown with establishments of the kind.
I ask the Dáil to say now, speaking as they should on behalf of the people as a whole, that they are entitled to take the view that one of the conditions on which licences of this kind shall be held, henceforth, shall be, that this business will not be run in conjunction with another business and without complete structural separation between this and any other business. Let the man who is superfluous in both trades run both if he is able to run both, but let him not run them as one concern. Let the people who want to go in for groceries, for the ordinary necessaries of their home, go in without having to force their way through men standing over their drinks. The man who wants a drink should go in to that particular department in which drink is sold. But this trade should not be carried on pell-mell, mixed up with any other business, of whatever kind.
We are told that if we persist in this section it will give more employment. I had not regarded that as a disadvantage. I was surprised to see that others did so regard it. Certain shibboleths are ringing in my ears—"One man, one job." I ask you to say that the man who chooses to ask the people yearly, as these traders ask, for a licence to run this particular trade, shall run it as a distinct business. Is it an evil if he must employ another hand to run some other business at the far side of the partition? Is that a hardship? Is that a serious thing to put up against the case, which there genuinely is, for separation between this trade and another? Is it a hardship that a lathe and plaster partition will have to be erected at the cost, say, of £15, £20 or £25?
The case against this thing has been over-stated—entirely over-stated. People should have some sense of their own dignity, some sense of their own self-respect, and should realise that people who go into a trade of this kind go in for their service, to meet their convenience, to meet their requirements, and are only entitled to survive when they meet these, and meet them adequately, and in a way in which they should be met. If the people care to say now through their Parliament that they shall be served in a particular way and not otherwise, that licences shall be given only on specific conditions, and not given haphazard as they were in the past, and without proper conditions, are we to be told that it is a monstrous thing, involving hardship to the individual? Always here the tendency will be to do the favour to the individual and to do hardship to the community; because the community is a vague, collective thing and will not come up and reproach you, and the individual will be thankful for the little job and the little favour, and thankful that you did not inflict the little expense on him. But the people, the long-suffering community, who were wronged in the past by this multiplication of licences, whose interests were trampled on in the past by this multiplication of licences, have seldom a spokesman. If we are going to consider, and I hope we are going to consider, a very drastic reduction in the number of licensed houses in the country, surely this leads to it: to put the onus on people who are at present carrying on a mixed business to opt for one of these businesses or the other, or, if they care to attempt to continue the two, then at least to continue the two under proper, decent conditions, with adequate separation as between one and the other.
I have no expectation whatever that this section will be passed. It is being left to a free and non-Party vote of the Dáil. I well understand the pressure to which Deputies are subjected when a matter of this kind arises. I well understand how much more easy it is, how much more pleasant it is, to give way to that pressure than to dig down to the stark merits of an issue and stand on those. With no optimism whatever, with as much pessimism with regard to the fate of this section as Deputy McGoldrick had just now with regard to his amendment, I ask the Dáil to say that this trade in alcoholic drink, if carried on by a person who runs some other business, shall be carried on as a distinct and self-contained business, with adequate structural separation as between one and the other. It is not right that children of tender years, women and girls, going in for the needs of their households, should be asked at this hour of the day to go in through the atmosphere and environment of a publichouse. If not now, some day people will recognise that they are entitled to be differently served.
I have listened to the Minister with much earnestness, and I may say I am not at all influenced by any such pressure as he refers to from outside. I feel that the proposal in the section would not be a helpful one, even to temperance. Things that have any kind of semi-secrecy thrown round them increase their power for temptation. That, I think, will be generally agreed with. The removal of observation tends to protect the drunkard, rather than to prevent him from drinking. I think it is obvious that in indulging to excess he will feel relieved from notice by those whom he would fear most might see him if he was not shut off from view. Of course in this section the Minister wants to protect and screen him, but I want him to be brought under the public gaze.
Put him outside the door.
There is no reason why he should be very anxious to screen him. The object of the Minister, and I suppose of most Deputies, would not be served by the section.
Might I ask from what newspaper is the Deputy reading?
I am not reading from any newspaper. I never read in the House. I refer to notes. I think what the section entails would be impossible in a big proportion of the licensed houses. For the 10,000 houses that, I suppose, the section would affect in the Saorstát, I do not think you would be able to find an architect who could design the structural alterations that should take place. Certainly, if the Minister for Justice goes into a house to make a partition he must bring the Minister for Finance with him. Otherwise it would be very unfair to the Minister for Finance as he keeps constantly telling us about the low condition of his profits. If this section should pass, thousands of those people would have either to relinquish their licences or relinquish the supplementary trade by which they manage to make a livelihood for themselves and their families. Instead of helping employment, as the Minister suggests, I feel that the section would very seriously interfere with employment, as it might deprive many people of their means of existence. In the Six Counties they were impressed by and gave a certain allegiance to this fad of anti-dual trade. It is purely a fad and I do not think it has any influence whatever on the cause of temperance. They now see the error of their ways. In houses where these structural alterations, that entailed considerable expense, were made, they had to bring the Minister for Finance into the matter and they had in many cases to face the question of compensation.
We are facing the problem that at least half of the licences in the country must be done away with. That is certain, so that we will require to have the problem carefully examined and arrangements made for providing compensation. I believe that compensation can be arranged without any loss to the State if the question is approached in the proper spirit. In the interval during which this Bill is supposed to operate, before we approach the real solution, and the really sensible and considered method of dealing with this trade, I think it is very foolish to ask these traders to undertake the expense of making these impossible structural alterations. While Deputies may be advocating the same thing as the Minister wishes to secure, on this ground I ask the Dáil to reject this section.
Deputy McGoldrick has harped upon the word "impossible" and has urged that the structural alterations suggested in the Bill are out of the question. He comes from the north-west corner of the country and no doubt he passes through the Six County area. In doing so he has, no doubt, been able to test his statement that this kind of structural alteration is impossible. If he has not done so, I suggest that he should spend a little time, if he dare, enquiring into what has been done in the Six Counties. As a matter of fact, that which is impossible in the Twenty Six Counties has been done in the Six Counties. At any rate, the word impossible should be crossed out.
It is generally accepted in the Dáil I think, that at some time in the near or distant future the number of licences held in the country should be reduced. Deputy McGoldrick assents to that. He goes further and says that the number should be reduced by half. I do not know whether he is postponing that reduction to any distant date, but I hope that the majority in the Dáil agrees that the reduction should take place at an early date. If there is to be such a reduction, and the Dáil is agreed that the number of licences held in the country is over-large, the reduction should take place within a reasonable time, within the next year or two.
I suggest that this method of reducing licences is one which would be effective and would do least harm. It would hurt fewest people. I wonder would Deputies who oppose this Section, Deputies who have spoken on behalf of the licensed trade and others, say if there is to be a reduction in the number of licences, that it should be at the expense of those who only hold licences and who have no other business. From the point of view of the licensed traders, I think if there is to be a reduction of licences it is preferable that the reduction should take place in the number of houses in which is conducted only partially a licensed trade and partially another trade, so that persons holding licences only would not be absolutely deprived of a means of livelihood. The hardship of this provision has been argued, and if it were intended that structural alterations should take place within a very few months I agree that there might be ground for such opposition. The Bill suggests the 25th September, 1925. In view of the delay in the passing of this Bill the Minister, no doubt, if pressed, would agree to postpone that date for a little time longer.
I have an amendment down making the date 1926, and a further amendment which I think would go far to remove any hardship and meet any reasonable objection to the section—that where there is special difficulty in making structural alterations, where the body of business conducted on such premises makes the matter difficult of accomplishment because of financial resources, there should be even a further period allowed on application to a District Justice. So that from the point of view of hardship I do not think that there is much to be said. The real question that faces the Dáil, assuming that there is a possibility of compromise regarding the dates, is whether we favour the reduction of the number of licences in the country, whether we approve of maintaining the number of licences. A second issue is whether we desire to continue in perpetuity a system of mixed trading, the publican business and the others, in the same premises.
I am sorry that the Minister in defending his clause is running up the white flag. I am sorry that while proposing it and urging that it should be passed, he has said that he does not believe that it was going to be passed, and rather hinted that it was only put forward as a signal that, if he can manage it, there will be legislation in the future in this direction. I know, and I am sure he agrees with me, that the section, as it is in the Bill, is not by any means popular. Some of us have already heard from our constituents, and others, of the danger we are running by supporting any legislation which interferes with the vested interests of the licensed trade. That, of course, is well understood. It has been the experience everywhere, and we have to bear with it and ask them to do their worst. Unfortunately, people on the other side who profess loudly their temperance principles generally forget at election times that they have had any friends at all. That, again, we can bear. The section as it stands, I intend to vote in favour of, and I intend, if it is passed, to move the two amendments that stand in my name—one postponing the date, and the second making it possible for a District Justice to extend further the date where special factors would warrant such extension. The proposals in the Bill are really very mild, and are, I think, very reasonable propositions to put to the trade in view of all that has been urged in the last few years. Everybody, I think, who has spoken has admitted that some changes in regard to the liquor trade in this country are required.
The conditions in the Twenty-Six Counties are similiar to those which had to be met in the Six Counties. They have been met in a much more rigorous way in the Six Counties than is proposed in this Bill. Of course, there has been very severe opposition to the action of the North-Eastern Government and I suppose that all the vigorous agitation which has supervened on the passing of the North-Eastern Act will be brought to bear on the members of the Government party and others if this Bill, with this section, be passed. Everything that has been said by Deputy Shaw, Deputy Beamish, and others of that ilk, has been said with even more vigour in the North. We have even poems, dedicated to the heroes of the bar, circulated. One verse of such a poem runs:
You have read in song and story of the man behind the gun,
How he battled for his country and the victories he won,
But there's one whose praises I would sing, and sing both near and far,
He's the hero of all heroes, he's the man behind the bar.
That expresses the sentiments, apparently, of the opponents of this section, but I will ask those who think that the man behind the bar is not entitled to all this praise, and those who think that the number of licensed houses should be reduced, and that it should be done by easy gradients so as not to inflict excessive hardship on the present holders and to give them due notice and allow the people who can manage two businesses to carry on the two businesses, and, incidentally, to employ more labour in carrying on those two businesses—I ask those persons to support the section in the Bill. That is the only way we can try to reduce any hardship that may be involved in the section as it stands.
I propose to vote against this section, on the ground that, so far as the small towns of Ireland are concerned, it is not a practical proposition. It may be possible with regard to large shops to divide them and to allot one portion to drapery and groceries, and the other portion to drink, but in the villages and small towns that is practically impossible. It is impossible, first, from the point of view of finance, as in order to make ends meet both are needed to make the thing a favourable proposition. If you increase the amount of labour, in view of the fact that the balance of the margin of profit is so small at present, you will sink the ship. It is also physically impossible as regards nearly three-quarters of the small shops in the West of Ireland. Anyone who knows these small shops in the West knows that some of them are so small there is only one door and one window in front, and there is not three feet of wall in addition. You could not possibly have two businesses conducted in those places, as the size of these little houses would not allow of two entrances and two windows. The thing is practically impossible for that reason; and because, financially, it would ruin these little businesses altogether. I do not think that this is a practical way to deal with the matter. The Minister told us that there would be a Commission to inquire into the entire licensed trade. A question like that of the bona fide traveller has been held back and will be dealt with by that Commission, and I think that the question of the reduction of the number of licences is another serious question that might be referred to that Commission with a view to having the whole matter reviewed. Nine out of every ten men in Ireland are in favour of the reduction of the number of licences, but it should not be done in a haphazard, cruel fashion like this.
If you go in to a small publican at present in the West of Ireland and say: "If you are not able to continue this arrangement, give up the licensed part of your business and you may then increase your groceries," if there was any guarantee that he would increase his groceries he might surrender the licence, but there is no guarantee. The hardship on the ordinary customer who wishes to go into a grocery establishment without passing a drinking bar is not so great when you consider the fact that in nearly every little town there are houses that deal only in groceries; and there such people can find their wants supplied. Then, again, we all like instead of increasing the number of people handling and making money out of drink, to see the number diminishing. We would like to see reform in that direction, but this section is going in the opposite direction. The Minister in one of his speeches looked forward to the time when the number of people handling and making money out of drink would be reduced. We all agree with that, but this section is dealing with the question the other way. I think if you reduce the number of publichouses by this section, you will be doing so in an unfair way. If there is a question of reducing the number of publichouses there should be compensation. There is no compensation here; it is a question of sink or swim. I am in favour of reduction in the number of publichouses, but I am not in favour of approaching the question in any very harsh way. Many estimable people have succeeded to public houses, and are conducting their businesses on the best possible lines, though they are publichouses. I know men who close their publichouses at 8 o'clock in the evening, when, according to law, they might keep them open until 9, and on fair days they close them at 6. There are a number of people like that, and they look to the State, even though the drink trade is not very popular, for fair play, and they should get fair compensation if you diminish their facilities for carrying on that trade.
For the first time on this Bill I find myself in agreement with the Minister for Justice. I do not say that I find myself in complete agreement with all his arguments, but I find myself in agreement with his main proposition. I do not agree with his argument that at all costs you must keep women and children out of places where drink is sold. I do not believe that we will solve this problem until publichouses are made fit places where women and children can go. Follow the example of France and Germany, where the working man, when he goes out in the evening, takes his wife and children with him to where they can have alcoholic refreshments on reasonable conditions rather than tread in the footsteps of the United States. On the general principle, I agree with the Minister very largely, because he has stolen one of my ideas, unconsciously I am sure. Fifteen years ago I was approached on this problem. I had a series of demands from temperance reformers put before me and I was asked if I would vote for them. I think I said I would not vote for any of them. I approached the problem from my own point of view, and looked into the question to the best of my ability. I said there were two reforms I would support, one that all licensing cases should be tried by the County Court Judge, and not by a bench of unpaid Magistrates, and the other was separation between licensed premises and other premises. I gave that pledge. The Temperance Party were not satisfied. Teetotallers are never satisfied.
If Deputy Johnson received letters from those of his constituents who are interested in this question, I have received very acrimonious letters from those who are teetotallers. It may comfort him to know that they promised to remember me at the next election, and, no doubt, that will re-act to Deputy Johnson's benefit. In spite of those letters I am going to fulfil my pledge, not from a sense of pride, but because I believe there is something behind this. The Dáil has accepted the principle that in dealing with this matter of intoxicating liquor we must legislate for the exceptional individual. I contended against that principle last week, but I did not get a word of support from Deputy Shaw, Deputy Beamish, or Deputy McGoldrick. I fought a lone hand. This week, when the whip and the muzzle are off other people displayed their true feelings.
The majority of men are undoubtedly entitled to take alcoholic drink, and are rather improved by it when taken in moderation; but there is a minority who know no moderation, with whom the consumption of alcoholic drink is a vice. If you want to legislate for the individual then you must protect these men against themselves. How can you best do it? How can you best reform the man from drinking too much? Is it not by keeping alcoholic drink out of his way entirely? Let him not see it, smell it, or taste it. Under the present system a man going into a shop to buy matches, boots, or paraffin oil, sees the drink on the counter, smells the drink, and it is thirty, forty, or fifty times harder for him to keep his pledge when temptation is put before him in that way. That seems to be the paramount argument for the retention of this section. I deplore the hardship on the individual, and I hope, if the section is retained, that Deputy Johnson's amendment will be accepted, for it will do something to lessen the argument, and we may possibly on the Report Stage consider other amendments. I think in view of the fact that we are considering individuals, we may consider the individual who drinks as well as the individual who sells, and I think, on the balance, we are entitled to say that the individual who sells drink should choose by which horse he declares to win. We should say to him, "Choose the trade you desire to get your living out of, under reasonable conditions, and we will make the transition as easy as we can for you, but in the long run you must choose."
In discussing this amendment we seem to be discussing a Bill of the future, and that is the drastic measure which the Minister has spoken about—the reduction in the number of publichouses. My attitude, and the attitude of those who are with me, in regard to this Bill is, that we have the greatest sympathy for the Minister, and we believe that there is embodied in this section an ideal that ought to be aimed at. But the necessity for this section is not the only consideration.
The Minister referred to the old system under which licences were granted, and the old methods that were adopted. The Minister and the Government are as much heir to the wrongs of that system as the general public is. It is true that those methods were adopted, and by means of those methods a good many licences were granted. I do not know how many were granted and I do not know if the Minister even could guess the number. Most of those licences are not of very recent growth. They were in existence for years and years. The present occupiers of those houses, the people who owned the business conducted there, have very little connection with the people who originally got those concessions, no matter by what method they obtained those concessions. You must deal with the existing positions altogether as distinct from the methods adopted in procuring those licences. The people occupying the business houses to-day, to which those licences were granted, are not the people who originally secured the licence; I suppose that 60 or 70 per cent. of the number did not originally secure the licence, though they now happen to occupy the houses.
If we are going to have drastic legislation under which the publichouses will be reduced, as Deputies seem to forecast by common agreement, to almost one half their number, then I say you have gone a very fair way to meet the whole question of structural alterations. If we are going to reduce the number of licensed houses by almost one-half, we will be approaching very near to the ideal that the Minister aims at, and we will be approaching it in an automatic fashion, altogether apart from this provision. That, I think, would almost settle the whole question; but I fancy it would be asking too much to be jumping from the present conditions existing in publichouses to the ideal the Minister has outlined. In taking that jump, I believe we would do very grave in justice, as many houses in the country do not lend themselves to this method of alteration. I have seen several premises in the country, some of them well-conducted. Houses with one door and one window are better conducted than houses with two or three doors and four or five windows.
An easy method of getting out the back way.
Quite so; when you see so many doors, you must assume they are there for a certain purpose. I have great sympathy with the Minister, but at the same time I do not think it is fair to adopt this section as it stands. I do agree if it were possible—but I do not think it is, having regard to equities—that a structural alteration should be made in those houses in order to separate the licensed portion of the premises from that portion where other business is carried on. That condition of things ought to operate in regard to what is known as the shop portion. Another matter that would meet a point raised by Deputy Daly—though it might be better discussed in connection with this drastic measure that is to be introduced—has reference to the inside of the counter. If there was a free passage inside the counter, so that the man attending could deal with the spirit and grocery or hardware requirements, it would get over a good deal of the difficulty that Deputy Daly talks about, and at the same time it would meet the Minister's ideal. Had an amendment been put down on these lines I would support it.
I could not support this section as it stands and I will have to vote against it. Possibly 70 or 80 per cent. of the people in possession are not those who got the concessions from corrupt benches, and the rest of it. They are people who came there in the ordinary way of business, and to do what is now suggested would be a grave injustice to those people. It would put some of them out altogether. Under this Bill the number of licensed houses will be reduced by one-half, or at least by one-third. With any kind of a judicious selection you can guarantee the Minister's ideal. The structure of the house must count, and I believe this thing will automatically adjust itself without having this section. That is apparently what the Minister forecasts in connection with a Bill that he intends to table and it will, no doubt, become legislation.
I desire to make a few remarks in connection with this section. The hardship on those who own those licensed houses has been dealt with sufficiently to render it unnecessary for me to add anything further. We have to recollect one important point. When those people were granted licences they were granted certain means of livelihood under certain conditions, and you cannot legislate away the rights of any section of the community without taking very great care that you are not going to commit an injustice.
I am absolutely with the Minister for Justice as far as the reduction of the number of licensed houses in this country is concerned. The number is far too much in excess of what it should be, and I believe every Deputy is in agreement on that point. I fear I differ with Deputy Gorey as regards the question of those houses that are allowed to carry on a mixed trade. You will find in many parts of the country that it is the better class of house that combines a grocery or hardware with a licensed trade. Most of those places that I know have spirit bars and there is no drink sold at the grocery counter. Elsewhere, no doubt, there may be exceptions. I do not know of them, and I am acquainted with a good part of the County Limerick and the County Tipperary— pretty nearly all of both.
Do you know Mary Willie's?
I do not know it. There is a certain type of house that possibly Deputy Gorey refers to, and I have never frequented it, even if I was either leading a dog, or if I was on my horse's back. It is the lower type of house that leads to all the trouble in Ireland. You will find that lower type of house in certain districts. Where you have this mixed trading you have not licensed holders breaking their licences and breaking the law. Deputy Johnson made a very good suggestion in the early part of the debate when he said every licensed holder should provide food, such as tea or coffee, or cheese and bread. Then a good many of these houses in various districts of the country would quickly get rid of their licences. There are many houses that are licensed that could easily be dispensed with. The question of certain licences that were granted has been referred to. At one time licences were granted by the landlord's agents who sat on the Bench. I remember the Land League days, and in certain districts where there was only one licensed house other people made application for a licence, and the men on the Bench at the time granted their application.
I remember quite well some of those who were on the Bench complaining that they did give the licence. They pointed out that they were quite as much opposed to drink as anyone else, but they knew quite well what was taking place in the district, and they thought it much better to have a licensed house, over which the police could exercise proper supervision, than have drink consumed in large quantities privately. That was one of their reasons. Before you have any drastic reforms, you must consider any possible injustice you may do to people who are large ratepayers and who pay heavy taxes. When trade is not too good in the country, to bring anything in the nature of hardship on people who are financially weak, and put them to any great expense, would not be treating the people properly. I quite agree with the ideas expressed by many Deputies, but I would ask them to consider that we ought not to do an injustice whilst we are endeavouring to support a measure which is certainly badly required in the country. The intention is a good one; it is to have less drink and to bring the licensed houses that will be in the country under greater control than they have been in the past.
I desire to repeat what I stated on the Second Reading, that it was my intention to support this section in the Bill, and I shall therefore vote against the amendment that is now being proposed, and that is under discussion. In doing so I think it right, after some of the things that have been said while this Bill has been under consideration in Committee, to say that I do it quite clearly on the merits of the Bill, and on the merits of the proposal, without the introduction of any of those personal considerations that one Deputy at least saw fit to charge on last Friday. Personal introductions have been made in this matter and unworthy motives have been attributed to Deputies. They have been attributed to two Deputies in the Dáil by Deputy Gorey. He stated here on Thursday that two Deputies who spoke had spoken, not on behalf of their constituents, but on behalf of their private profits. He said that they were not honest with the Dáil. He went on to say that it was their intention to take the young men of the country and to make drunkards of them, in order to swell their private profits. That same Deputy Gorey on the following day made an attack upon me, in a violent volte face, when he stood in defence of the very trade that he had attacked on the previous day. That did not greatly disturb me because it is obvious when a Deputy makes a violent attack of that kind he is executing some retreat in the far distance that he wants to mask from the Dáil. Deputy Gorey reminded me, when he spoke, of the famous telegram that was once sent by a traveller who had returned from his travels after he had lived amongst savage people for some time. On his return he was invited by a learned society to give an address before them on the manners and customs of the people amongst whom he had sojourned. The traveller was not willing to give a lecture, but he sent it in the form of a telegram which consisted of these four words: "Customs beastly, manners none."
In supporting the section and in opposing the amendment I believe that those who have put this amendment forward have had conscious to their minds some of the real difficulties that everybody knows exist in the country. Deputy Sears spoke about certain shops in the country that conduct this dual business. I am perfectly sure he is aware that this dual business is an unfortunate one, and I know, as he knows, that there are bigger difficulties to be faced. But there are bigger things to be faced than the difficulties of the trade. I refer to sights that I have myself frequently seen in the County that Deputy Sears represents in the Dáil. I have frequently seen, and every Deputy in the Dáil must have seen, children coming in to make purchases of groceries, and other matters, having drunken men stumbling over them. I have seen sights that ought not to be seen—sometimes children of four, five and six years coming into these shops. Now, that ought to be prevented at all costs. There is an injustice, unquestionably, likely to be done by the section in its present form, an injustice which, if the section were to be retained in the Bill and Deputy Johnson's amendment were accepted, would very largely be ameliorated.
There is a graver injustice, and it is this graver injustice that is present to my mind now. I believe the Deputies who have put forward this amendment have put it forward having regard to the utmost amount of justice that could be accomplished. But I would ask them to consider one further matter. They have seen what I have seen, and what everybody in the Dáil has seen, and they know that it is inevitable on such occasions as fair days, and market days, and other occasions too, that children are sent in to make purchases of ordinary goods in shops where this double kind of business is done. Often, as I say, on these occasions, they are stumbled over by men who are the worse for liquor, and anyone who has seen those sights must come to the conclusion that whatever injustice is done in one way, a greater injustice would be to have these dual businesses finished and to have the shopkeeper faced with the question of deciding which of the two businesses he proposes to engage in, in the future. Now, I take occasion to say this, and to make it quite clear, because we have had a very great deal of pressure brought to bear on us from outside. We have all had it made clear to us that if we do not stand for the abolition of this section, our defence of the Bill under this section of the Bill, will be remembered against us in the future. Therefore, I have taken this opportunity to make it clear that my attitude in this matter is the same as when the Bill was before us on the Second Reading, and has been for a great many years—that it is in common justice required to remove what is one of the worst sights in this country, and that is to see an ordinary shop being conducted under conditions that are not desirable because that shop is conducting a dual business and drink is being sold on the premises.
Listening to the discussions on this particular clause which took place when the Bill was under consideration previously, and also on this occasion, it appears to me that the objection can be practically focussed on one particular item. That is the item of the difficulty of making structural alterations that are necessary under this clause. Most of the speakers, and I have listened very carefully to them, who have objected to this clause, have advanced that argument in some form or other. Well, now, I take it that in a large business, where the structural difficulty is not so great, there is no real objection to this clause being put into operation. The real difficulty that arises in their minds is in the case of the small premises which have been cited so often this afternoon. The difficulty has been pointed out, over and over again, of the impossibility of making the necessary structural alterations. Well, I could not help feeling, as that argument was being advanced, what I had been told on many occasions on the other side of the water—that we Irishmen are a very illogical people. As I listened to the discussion to-day on that particular item I recalled several discussions that took place in the Dáil last week, and I could not help feeling the truth of that allegation, dislike it as one may.
What is the real similarity between the discussions that took place here last week and the illogical attitude adopted here this afternoon? As I have pointed out, it occurs entirely in the case of small premises that present a structural difficulty. Let us picture to our minds one of these premises. We have, in some of these small country licensed premises, on one side a woollen store and a general store, and on the other side, a counter separated by only a few feet, where the sale of intoxicating liquor is carried on. That is a fair illustration to take of small country premises. Let us keep that illustration before our minds and recall some of the discussions we had here last week. Arising out of those discussions there was general agreement as to the course we decided to take. On one section of the Bill, we refused to allow intoxicating liquor to be sold to young people of either sex under the age of 18, even for consumption off the premises. Many Deputies who are supporting this amendment and opposing the section were eloquent last week when speaking on behalf of these young people. They refused to have their minds trained by the associations they would be brought into touch with in the publichouses What is the attitude of these Deputies this afternoon?
In the small country houses that I have quoted the two counters are only separated by a few feet. In nine cases out of ten one of the counters is always crowded. We find that in most of these licensed premises: that the counter where intoxicating liquor is sold, particularly after certain hours, is always a very crowded counter. People come into these shops to make purchases of a general character, and they are only separated by a few feet from those consuming intoxicating liquor on the premises. They are obliged to listen to the conversations that take place at the drink counter, and they can view the objectionable features that are to be seen there. In other words, we allow them to come into contact this week with what we decided, almost unanimously, last week, was unfit for them. I would ask Deputies to calmly consider this matter. I have said that we are an illogical people. That argument has been used several times against us. I would ask Deputies not to let it be added to this afternoon. It is obvious if the amendment proposing to delete the Section is passed that we will allow not only young people but other classes of people to come into contact with those who enter small country shops for the purpose of consuming intoxicating liquor. We will allow a mother and a number of small children to go in there, and to wait for a considerable time in that particular company doing an injury to themselves that, last week, we would not hear of. I would ask Deputies to calmly consider these points. I am afraid that in a great many cases Deputies have come to the Dáil this afternoon with their minds made up, but I would ask them to consider this Section in the light of the decisions that we came to last week
During the discussion of the last hour it has become more manifest how unjust and how far away from fair play this Section is. This Section, if passed, would compel traders who are carrying on a mixed business to rectify their premises in order to comply with its provisions. After spending their money they may be put face to face with an order, in six or three months' time, telling them that they will have "to go" even though they have spent a considerable sum of money in altering their premises. I do not think that is fair. I think that the arguments put forward to-day by the Minister for Justice and those who think with him have only helped to ripen the case to such a pitch that it is now fit for the surgeon to operate on it and to clear it out altogether.
- Pádraig F. Baxter.
- Richard H. Beamish.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Louis J. D'Alton.
- John Daly.
- Máighread Ní Choileáin Bean Uí Dhrisceóil.
- Patrick J. Egan.
- Henry J. Finlay.
- Connor Hogan.
- Tomás Mac Artúir.
- Séamus Mac Cosgair.
- Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
- Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
- Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Pádraig Mac Ualghairg.
- Patrick J. Mulvany.
- Martin M. Nally.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Peadar O hAodha.
- Risteárd O Conaill.
- Partholán O Conchubhair.
- Aodh O Cúlacháin.
- Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
- Séamus O Dóláin. Peadar O Dubhghaill.
- Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
- Eamon O Dúgáin.
- Donnchadh S. O Guaire.
- Aindriú O Laimhín.
- Séamus O Leadáin.
- Fionan O Loingsigh.
- Pádraig O Máille.
- Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
- Tadhg O Murchadha.
- Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
- Seán O Súilleabháin.
- Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
- Patrick W. Shaw.
- Earnán Altún.
- Bryan R. Cooper.
- Sir James Craig.
- Darrell Figgis.
- Desmond Fitzgerald.
- John Good.
- William Hewat.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Eoin Mac Neill.
- Caoimhghín O hUigín.
- Liam Thrift.
The Section is accordingly deleted. That also disposes of amendments 62 and 63.
Section 13 agreed to and ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Where the holder of a licence of any description authorising the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail (whether for consumption on or off the premises) is convicted of an offence against any of the enactments mentioned in the First Schedule to this Act or any enactment for the time being in force relating to the adulteration of drink, the conviction shall be recorded on the licence of the person so convicted.
I beg to propose the amendment standing in the name of Deputy Redmond: In line 28 to insert after the word "convicted" the words "unless the convicting Justice shall otherwise direct." It will be observed that Section 14 states that whenever a licence holder is convicted of an offence against any of the enactments mentioned in the First Schedule, or any enactment for the time being in force relating to the adulteration of drink, the conviction shall be recorded on the licence of the person so convicted. The meaning of the amendment is that it will be within the discretion of the Justice not to do so should he wish. It will be observed in reference to Section 16, which deals with the forfeiture of licences, that "where the holder of a licence of any description for the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail (whether for consumption on or off the premises) on which two convictions are recorded is convicted of an offence the conviction for which is required by this or any other Act to be recorded, or is lawfully ordered by the court to be recorded on the licence of the person convicted thereof, such licence shall thereupon be forfeited." It appears to me that a suggestion that for one offence there should be an endorsment is unduly severe and the Minister, on reflection, would perhaps agree that the local Justice who has heard all the facts of the case and is in a position to decide for himself all the circumstances which led up to the event would be the proper person to decide—and it is right that it should be within his discretion to say—whether or not this offence is to be recorded on the licence. In practice, of course, a great many offences in connection with the Licensing Acts are committed by subordinates; very often the owner is not present at all, and it works out that a great many of these illegalities are carried out in circumstances over which the owner or manager of the business has very little direct control. Under these circumstances I think it would be unduly severe that the owner, who may have the best will in the world to conform with the licensing regulations, should be penalised for the act of a subordinate. Under the existing law he is protected to a very much greater extent against such instances.
I propose this amendment in the belief that it is fair. I have a good deal of knowledge as to how the trade is carried on and the various difficulties which owners, with the best intentions in the world, have to contend with, and I think that the amendment is reasonable and just. I hope, therefore, that the Minister, even if he cannot agree with the precise wording, will at a later stage do something to meet the points that I have raised.
AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE took the Chair.
I want to add one or two words to what Deputy Egan has said, because I believe that this section, as it stands, would cause very great hardship to certain people, perhaps the people who have no intention whatever of committing any offence, but through some negligence, perhaps of a very small character, allow themselves to contravene the provisions of this Bill. We all know that people are brought up on many occasions for mere technical offences, and the Justices use their discretion and, having heard all the evidence, do not record a conviction on the licence on that particular occasion. Whatever justification there may have been in the past for a section such as this when you had a number of magistrates who might possibly be influenced by a publican or his friends, that is now removed, and most of the Justices whom we have at the moment, whom I think the Minister has every confidence in, as far as we can see from the reports in the newspapers, are bent on carrying out the licensing laws to the fullest extent, so that the Minister need have no fear that the law will not be administered properly. I would appeal to him, with Deputy Egan, to reconsider this matter, and if he cannot accede to the amendment to see if he can find some form of words that will not be as drastic as those in the section, because I am convinced that the Minister's intentions might be defeated to a certain extent, because the Justice, knowing what would happen if he did impose this hardship, might possibly be inclined to dismiss the case where, otherwise, he might convict and fine a man 10/-, £1 or £2, as the case might be. We all know cases at present where a pensioner is taken up for an offence. Perhaps if he were not a pensioner he would get three or six months' hard labour, but if he gets hard labour he loses his pension, and we know that magistrates have taken that into account and have not imposed hard labour in cases of that kind. Taking these circumstances into account I would ask the Minister, if he does not now accept the wording of the amendment, to consider the matter with a view to dealing with it in the next Stage.
I have risen before the Minister expresses his views on this matter, because I fear that in view of the very persuasive and soothing way in which the two Deputies have spoken he might already have been persuaded.
That is not so.
I said I feared it. I am afraid that Deputy Hughes is assuming that he knows the Minister has not been persuaded. Then he has little faith in the strength of his argument. The Deputy who moved the amendment quoted the Bill, but he did not quote it all; he did not quote all the germane facts. Let me draw attention to the offences which Deputy Hughes says may be technical offences: permitting drunkenness on premises, keeping a disorderly house, harbouring constables, permitting gaming, selling drink during prohibited hours, and adulterating. Any of these offences surely are sufficiently serious to justify a record on the licence, and if they are repeated a second time there is forfeiture. Even then the licensee—and this is a point that Deputy Egan forgot to quote—has the right to appeal to a higher court to have the forfeiture order cancelled. When one realises all that, there is no justification for the deletion of this section, or the addition of the words proposed by Deputy Egan. I did hope, as a matter of fact, that there would have been amendments—and I think I have been guilty of negligence in not putting them forward myself—to make the forfeiture penalty, a certain penalty even on one conviction for some of these offences. However, there are two opportunities allowed before forfeiture is ensured and even then after the second offence, when the conviction is recorded in the licence the licensee may "within one month after such forfeiture apply, in manner to be prescribed by rules of Court to the High Court for the remission of such forfeiture" and the nature and the circumstances of the offences will be taken into consideration by the High Court. Any defence there may be will be taken into account by them. It seems to me that is not an unreasonable proposition and will not impose an undue hardship and if it is to be alleged that the licensee has employees who permit these offences, surely it is a good and valid charge against the licensee of being incapable of managing his business through subordinates. Surely we are not going to take the view that the licensee is not to be held responsible for the action of his subordinates. If that were so there is an easy way for the licensee to evade his liabilities under his licence. The licensee should surely be held responsible for the offence committed on his behalf by his subordinates, and I would urge the Minister not to agree to the amendment but to stand by the Bill.
I am not accepting this amendment. We should be able to say here whether in our opinion the repetition of certain offences should involve forfeiture of the licence, and we ought not take the course suggested in the amendment of putting on individual District Justices the odium of that decision. He will try the question of guilt, and all we are asked to lay down in this Bill is that if guilt be established clearly in connection with certain offences named in the first schedule, not twice, as Deputy Johnson seems to think, but three times, that there shall ensue thereon forfeiture of the licence with an appeal to the High Court, as provided in Section 16 in the form of an application, and "having regard to(a) the nature and circumstances of the offence, the convictions for which are recorded on the applicant's licence, and (b) the general character of the applicant and his fitness to hold a licence, it is just that the forfeiture of the applicant's licence should be remitted,” and it is open to the Court if it thinks fit on any ground that may be advanced, to strike off one of the convictions recorded on the licence, and enable the licence holder to continue to do business. Section 16 is, at any rate, extremely liberal, possibly over-liberal. Section 16 meets this peculiar case, which I cannot visualise, of the mere technicality—the inadvertence, the scarcely culpable negligence. There are four offences set out in the first schedule—permitting drunkenness on the premises, keeping a disorderly house, harbouring constables, permitting gaming, and selling drink during prohibited hours. There is another offence for refusing to admit police. These are very definite classes of offences, and before there can be any stigma imposed, any record on the licence, the guilt of these offences must be established beyond question to the satisfaction of the District Justice. I think this a very proper provision, that once guilt is established, that fact should be recorded on the licence, and that in the event of three such convictions being recorded the licence should be forfeited, unless, in the opinion of the High Court, that would be a harsh step, and not warranted by the nature of the three convictions. I am unable to accept the Deputy's amendment, and I ask the Dáil to reject it.
Amendment by Mr. T. Murphy—No. 65—to insert after the word "offence," line 28, the following words, "other than a first offence."
In view of the fate of Deputy Egan's amendment I ask permission to withdraw this amendment.
I also ask for permission to withdraw this amendment.
I beg to move:
Before Section 18 to insert a new section as follows:—
"(1) In order that any club may be eligible to be registered under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904, the rules of such club shall (in addition to the matters mentioned in Section 4 of the said Act) provide that no excisable liquor shall be supplied to any person (other than members of the club lodging in the club premises) for more than eight hours (which need not be consecutive) in any one day. The hours during which it is proposed to supply excisable liquor shall be notified at the time of application and shall be liable to be altered at the discretion of the registering authority.
"(2) Should any registered club be convicted of a violation of this section, it shall be liable to a penalty of not exceeding fifty pounds and shall be struck off the register of clubs."
We are now arrived at that section of the Bill dealing with clubs, and this amendment which I have on the Paper is to insert a new section before Section 18. It has two aspects.
In the first place, it restricts the hours of opening of clubs more seriously than the proposal of the Minister does. The Minister's proposal would allow clubs to remain open for thirteen hours a day for the sale of alcohol. It would allow clubs to sell alcohol for thirteen hours on an ordinary week-day. My amendment is that no club should sell alcohol for more than eight hours a day, but those eight hours need not necessarily be consecutive. It gives greater flexibility. It further provides that the registering authority can fix the hours during which the club is allowed to sell. If the club makes application to sell alcohol at an unsuitable time, the registering authority can refuse that application. I have further provided a very serious penalty in the case of any breach, namely, a fine of £50, and a striking off the register. This proposed clause is based on the code at present enforced in London, which allows for the selling of alcohol during certain hours, both in the forenoon and in the evening, and provides that there must be a certain period during which alcohol cannot be sold to any person in the club other than a person living on the premises. In Great Britain I think the hours are longer than I propose here. In London, to the best of my recollection, clubs are allowed to open for three and a-half hours—from 11.30 to 3 o'clock—and they are further allowed to sell alcohol from 5.30 to 10.30. That is, broadly speaking, nine and a-half hours instead of eight hours, which I suggest here. I am anxious to meet the Minister in this matter, as far as I can. I realise there is a certain evil of excessive drinking, and that there are bogus clubs which exist for the purpose of selling drink, and for no social purpose. I do not know whether the Minister, in his desire to exterminate those clubs, wishes to penalise the ordinary social clubs.
The ordinary social clubs exist for many purposes. There are some clubs that exist mainly to provide their members with lunch. There are other clubs in which the clientele come in the evening after their work is done. In golf clubs very little alcohol is consumed during the day. People would come out after their work is done, starting at seven or eight o'clock, play a round of gold, and would want a drink after 10.30. This proposal would give a certain flexibility, so that, in cases where the registering authority is satisfied that a case does exist, a club may be allowed to sell later than is provided for in the Bill. A case which comes to my mind, in London is the Press Club used by journalists and others who have to work late at night. It is allowed a special licence to sell alcohol at night, though it has not a licence to sell in the day, because its clientele are people who work at night and who, before they go home, have supper there in the morning, and may want a glass of beer or whiskey with it. I see no reason why we should not make a similar provision. It can be optional. If the registering authority disapproves of the opening of any club, it is in his power to suppress it. I do not think it is wrong that people who work at night should be able to have a glass of beer or whiskey, and I think I have put in sufficient safeguards in this suggested section to eliminate bogus clubs which do great harm. I am with the Minister in the proposal he has put down in Section 23 for the searching of clubs. I want to see the bogus club eliminated. I think this amendment will remove a sense of grievance which will be felt when this Bill becomes law. People, unfortunately, will not become interested in this until it becomes law. When it does become law, there will be a great outcry, and a provision of this kind, which makes it possible to make application to the registering authority for extended hours on condition that other hours are surrendered, is a fair and reasonable way to meet it.
As we are on the question of clubs, I was surprised for the last week during the Third Reading of the Licensing Bill, that we had not temperance clubs introduced in every village, and have State funds to assist young men and others in each district to build those clubs, so that they should have some place to go other than the publichouse. In the small villages you have working men who come home in the evening and have no place to go except into a thatched hovel.
I am afraid the Deputy is travelling outside the amendment.
I thought we were speaking about clubs, and I would suggest to the Minister to use his influence to get money put aside for every social purpose—bar drinking—in the different villages.
Deputy Daly would like to see his monopoly preserved. Deputy Cooper's amendment raises quite definitely the question of whether or not we favour the conception of night clubs, at which drink may be sold up to late hours of the night. Under its provisions, conceivably, this could happen. A person having availed himself very fully of the thirteen hours in which drink may be sold in the ordinary licensed shops during the day, from 9 a.m. till 10 p.m., might retire then to his club, which, for a further eight hours, can sell intoxicating liquor, so that a hard-working man might fit twenty-one hours' consumption of alcoholic liquor into the twenty-four hours of his day, or possibly, if he were a member of two clubs, he could work whole time. That, of course, is a caricature of what the amendment aims at, but it is a possibility under the amendment.
It is not probable that the registering authority would allow anything of that kind.
Given a pretty determined man, the registering authority might find it difficult to prevent it, because unless they were to say that an individual was not to be a member of more than one club he might, by a judicious selection of clubs, drink practically for twenty-four hours. The Deputy quotes the state of affairs that exists in London and Paris. He would not, I expect, say that because things exist in London and Paris it is a good and sufficient reason why they should exist or begin to exist here. I would expect that the proposals would be defended on their merits rather than by reference to their tolerated existence elsewhere. Fortunately we are in the position of being able to consider this question from scratch, so to speak. We are not faced with any very large vested interests which have to be considered. It becomes then simply a question of deciding whether we think that the night club, or a club in which members can remain until late hours of the night consuming alcoholic liquor, is in itself a useful social institution with beneficial reactions on the people; whether it would be a good thing that clubs of that kind should spring up in our country towns, and that young men who had been all hard at work during the day could unbend until the small hours of the morning.
That is the question which the Deputy's amendment raises. It is true that the Deputy branched off into the consideration of special cases and special circumstances, and spoke of the Press Club. If the amendment were confined to meeting such special cases as the Press, or the case of clubs for men whose occupation compels them to work until the late hours of the night, one could deal with it on that basis. To put down a general amendment which raises this question in a very comprehensive and general way and then quote in advocacy of it, the Press Club, is just a little ingenuous and insidious. I am prepared to consider very carefully an amendment framed to meet the special circumstances of men whose occupation compels them to be night workers, and to consider whether a club to meet their very special requirements could not be allowed to exist and still be hedged round with such special conditions and precautions as could fairly be considered a safeguard against abuse. I am prepared to consider that, but I will not accept an amendment which opens up a very different picture. You are asked to say that clubs may be registered and given licences for the sale of alcoholic liquor provided their hours of sale are not more than eight in the day. What hours are likely to be selected? Not the hours of the day in which ordinary licensed establishments are open. I venture to say that the number of clubs that would. choose the particular eight hours running concurrently with the sale in licensed establishments would be found in practice quite small and the number of clubs that would apply for a stretch of hours that would not be concurrent with the hours of the ordinary licensed trade would, in fact, be found quite large. Do we want that?
I take the view that the hours that this Bill proposes for the ordinary licensed establishments, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. are very reasonable and very liberal. A man who takes reasonable advantage of these hours ought not to require drink into the late hours of the night, or into the morning, London and Paris, to the contrary, notwithstanding. A man in his own home may keep whatever drink he requires and consume it there. A guest in a hotel may order any refreshment he requires, or thinks he requires, and consume it there. What we are faced with now is whether men can foregather until the late hours of the night, possibly for other purposes —certainly it would be always nominally for other purposes—but, incidentally, to consume intoxicating liquor. Would that, in its social reactions, be a good thing here in Dublin? Would it be a good thing for the provincial towns? I feel quite certain it would not; I feel very certain that institutions of that kind would not be long in existence before there would be complaints of abuses and excesses, complaints from peaceful people who retire early that their hours of slumber were disturbed by unseemly noises in the streets at night, and so on, by people turned out from these clubs.
There would perhaps be complaints from parents and others that their sons and those with whose welfare they were concerned were not exactly benefited by the establishment of clubs of this kind. Generally, I feel that in taking this step we would be taking a step not at all in the interests of the country or of the people of the country. The Deputy may think that a very narrow view-point and say that they exist in other capitals, other more brilliant capitals, and sigh for the same latitude here as may be enjoyed there. I think the average man is of opinion that there is too much drink being consumed in this country and that the opportunities for the consumption of drink are too great. Further, I think we have to advert to the fact that just now we are passing through a period when the tendency to abuse, the tendency to excess is at rather a high-water mark. Periods of transition, periods of revolution, are generally marked by manifestations of that kind and it is undeniable that throughout the country, perhaps to a decreasing extent just now, there is a tendency to fight against bounds, to fight against restrictions, to fling restraint to the winds and plunge into excesses or abuses of one kind or another.
Now, if we agree, or agree substantially, that that is the situation and that that is the tendency, is this just the time to come along with a proposal which would enable the young men of the towns, and of the country for that matter—for the Deputy's amendment contains no geographical restrictions— to foregather in clubs of this kind after the hours at which ordinary licensed establishments are closed and drink there until what Bobbie Burns called the "sma' wee hours"? I think it would not be making for good order or for an improvement in the social order or for social decency in the country. I am fairly certain that it would lead to an increase in the number of night scenes and night outrages of one kind or another. Men, turning out from these clubs after their neighbours were abed, would have the opportunity and temptation which the prospect of immunity offers, of perpetrating an offence or outrage of one kind or another, perhaps reprisals for some wrong, real or imaginary. That is not the kind of picture one likes to contemplate. This is a time rather for restricting opportunities than for extending them. The general mentality calls for that rather than for extension. On those grounds I ask for the rejection of the Deputy's amendment. I would view proposals of this kind always in the light of existing conditions. I would grant that changed times and circumstances might call for relaxations which would not be considered wise or desirable now. It is not that as a general hard and fast dogma I consider that people ought to stop drinking alcoholic liquor at 10 p.m. but that I consider that an extension of opportunity, beyond the opportunity which the Bill offers, and which I consider reasonable, will be bad in its reactions in all the existing conditions of the time.
I am really rather amazed when the Minister tries to brand me as being insidious because I put forward a special case. That is exactly the thing which he has done on more than one occasion and which he has done very forcibly just now in the course of his speech. He has taken the case of a man who in order that he may be able to drink at any hour in the twenty-four will join three clubs, carefully selected. I say that if there is a special case, that is a special case. Such men are very rare and do not live long. As for night clubs, I am not an expert on the subject. The Minister may know more about them than I. I have not been in them. I have been in a restaurant until 2 a.m. dancing—I suppose the Minister would call dancing a social pretext—and occasionally I have had a glass of wine when I was heated. I do not believe that that did me any harm or that it would do anybody any harm. I would be almost appalled at the Minister's excessive virtue if it were not for the fact that it is too good to be true. I remember a social occasion, on a Saturday evening after 9.30 o'clock, when the Minister got up and asked us all to drink the health of the visitors. That was at the opening banquet of the Tailteann Games. I am glad that the Minister in his last remarks did not indicate that drinking alcohol after 10 p.m. was a crime but was merely inexpedient in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I disagree with him. I believe that this country needs more gaiety and more enjoyment and not less. It has been on the rack for a number of years. We have had curfew and there was a time when it was dangerous to go out after dark. We have had every sort of trouble and our spirits were almost broken. I believe that though the Minister be virtuous there should still be cakes and ale to use Shakespeare's words. The Minister has approached this question from the wrong end. If you multiply restrictions and if you lay down the formula that everybody should be in bed by 10 p.m. and if they are not, and if they go along the street and their neighbours complain that they cannot sleep, I think you are reducing things to an absurdity.
The Minister showed one ray of hope when he said that if an amendment were put down for dealing with special clubs for night workers he would consider it. It is a misfortune that the Minister has not been in opposition, because if he had he would know how hard it is for Deputies who have not the benefit of expert advice to draft amendments dealing with complicated cases. It is all very well for a Minister when such an amendment is proposed to say that it does not provide for this or does not provide for that. We are amateurs in these matters and very often our amendments are bad and we should be entitled to ask a little more help from the Government and to ask the Minister to indicate more broadly the lines on which he would consider an amendment. I do not want to prejudice the case in the mind of the Minister, but if he will consider an amendment dealing with a special case I will ask the leave of the Dáil to withdraw my amendment.
I beg to move Amendment 74, which is as follows:—
"In sub-section (1) to delete paragraphs (a) and (b) and substitute therefor—‘(a) Before the hour of noon or between three o'clock and six o'clock in the afternoon or after the hour of half-past ten o'clock on any day not being a Sunday.'"
The Minister, on Second Reading, challenged those who disagreed with him to put down amendments. I hope he will recognise that some people, at any rate, do not run away from their amendments. This is an amendment to provide, instead of the hours for opening clubs laid down in Section 18, the hour which I have indicated, and it provides that no club shall serve alcoholic liquor to any person other than a member of such club except between the hours of 12 noon and 3 p.m., and between 6 and 10.30. I think that the words "in the evening" should be added after the words "10.30," that is, if this amendment passes. This is again an adaptation of the law prevailing in London. I cannot altogether accept the Minister's view that Dublin is such an entirely different place from London. Dublin is full of people doing business just as people do business in London. It is the seat of the legislature just as London, and the only difference is that people in Dublin, both in business and in the legislature, usually work shorter hours. I am prepared to meet the Minister half way and say that this should only apply to the city and county of Dublin. I did not contemplate that this or the other amendment should apply to scattered rural districts. What I was considering was the case of a man who probably wants a glass of wine or a bottle of beer with his midday meal, and something with his evening meal, and who desires to sit on for a game of cards or billiards for two or three hours after finishing his evening meal. This amendment would meet that case. It has not produced any evil effects in London, where the hours are longer. I have not heard of any orgies in the Athenæum, and I have not seen any club members getting drunk or conducting themselves in a discreditable way. If they did, there is always the remedy. We are asked to give increased powers of search in the Bill, and I presume we shall. I think that this is a moderate proposal, and it is one which has proved workable elsewhere.
Not only in this amendment, but in several others, including the following one, eleven o'clock is suggested as the closing hour. I want the Minister to be very careful about hours, and not to be led away by Deputy Cooper. These clubs are patronised by what is known as the better class of the community, and it is complained that the rich man can get what he wants at these clubs and the poor man cannot. I think it is a bad policy to give more facilities to one than to the other; what the poor man cannot have the other should not have. I am very glad of the attitude taken up by the Minister on the previous amendment, because if he departs from the custom in one case he will have to depart from it in all the others. Deputy Cooper made a case for his particular club. If Deputy Figgis were here he could make a case for the club he projected starting in the suburbs of Dublin some years ago—a new Hellfire Club which he proposed organising and making attractive. Attractive in the modern sense would mean providing facilities for gambling, drinking, and leading the Bohemian life, Paris life, and the rest. We do not want Continental playgrounds introduced by Deputy Figgis or anybody else. We want to make it impossible to bring these things into the country. I was attacked by Deputy Figgis on another clause on my treatment of two other Deputies. I have been speaking to these Deputies since, and they rather resent Deputy Figgis championing their case. In fact, I think they are insulted at Deputy Figgis's interference as an attempt to bring them to his level. He said he had got a letter. I wonder will it be broadcasted?
I am afraid Deputy Gorey will have to speak to the amendment.
I was speaking to the amendment in connection with these clubs. I was wondering if that letter was signed by Kaid Belton, or any of those other friends of his. I am sorry the Deputy is not here; he ran away in time. I would ask the Minister not to make a precedent in one case, as he may have to run away from it in others. Clubs keep people away from their homes until all hours of the night. I do not know if they are properly supervised. I hope the Minister will have machinery for doing so, and that they will be supervised carefully, and I hope in future the clubs will have as much attention paid to them as the publichouses.
"In sub-sections (1) (a) and (1) (b), lines 20-21 and 23-24, to delete from the word ‘nine' to the word ‘o'clock' inclusive, and substitute therefor in each case the words ‘noon or after the hour of eleven o'clock,' and in sub-section (1) (c) to delete from the word ‘one,' line 26, to the word ‘o'clock,' line 27 inclusive, and substitute therefor the words ‘noon or after the hour of eleven o'clock.'"
My reason for asking the Minister to accept this amendment is that in some of the cities and larger towns there are a number of long-established clubs and institutes, the membership of which is chiefly made up of industrial workers, who are engaged during the day and who frequent those institutions during the evening for the purpose of enjoying the games provided in these places—the gymnasium, dancing, etc. I think 9.30 in the evening is rather early to prohibit the sale of liquor in those clubs, having regard to the fact that the few hours in the evening are the only opportunity that the members have for recreation. A good deal has been said, and perhaps rightly, about abuses in connection with clubs, particularly where drink is the primary attraction. For my part, I do not plead on behalf of clubs of that kind. On the contrary, I am with the Minister and others who are making an effort to make this country more temperate than it has been, but I think some of the restrictions that are being made are not going to bring about the desired effect. I know of long established, well conducted clubs, some of them thirty years in existence, and during that period there has never been any complaint of abuse in regard to drink. I think that what is asked for in my amendment is a reasonable request.
Deputy Doyle in moving his amendment said that he knows a few very good clubs of long standing, perfectly blameless institutions. I know of not a few but many of a very different class, and I know that in legislation we have to consider simply the general effect, the general probabilities of what we enact. I suggest to Deputies that the general effect and probability of enabling clubs to sell drink at a later hour than the publichouses are enabled to sell it will be greatly to increase the membership of clubs, so that people leaving their favourite licensing establishments will simply move on for an extra hour to their club. One hears very strong views on this question of clubs. People have said, and said with emphasis, strong temperance people, that if they had their choice between closing a club and five or six licensed establishments they would close the club.
I do not know whether that is an exaggeration. It may have been a remark made with special advertence to one particular club. But we would need to be careful about a provision which would enable people simply to go from one place after it had closed to the other. People speak of clubs that are eminently sound institutions, got up for social purposes—gymnastics, dancing, or some other purpose. And yet the suggestion underlying all that sort of thing is that at the stroke of ten you strike the cigar or the cigarette from the man's mouth, snap the paper from his hand, and tell him he is to go home to bed, or cut him off in the middle of some interesting and instructive discussion with a friend. You do not do anything of the kind. I think here we come down to the bedrock of this whole contention. You simply say that after 10 p.m. alcoholic drink shall not be sold for consumption on the premises. If a club exists for all these very laudable purposes that people name when talking on this subject, if it exists mainly for the social benefit of its members, possibly for their instruction, possibly for their physical culture, why, then, all this trouble about having to cease the sale of intoxicating liquor at 10 p.m.? If, as is suggested, the sale of alcoholic liquor is the merest sideshow and not the main purpose for which the club exists, being merely accidental and incidental to its existence, why this outcry, and why the suggestion of some great hardship or wrong if they are asked to conform to the hours for the sale of drink that are imposed upon the ordinary licensed trader? It does suggest that the sale and consumption of drink figure more largely in reality in the programme than people are willing to admit. It does suggest that the real life of the club ends at 10 p.m., if you make this provision. "What is the use of staying on; we cannot have a drink." It practically means that the club is closed down, and dancing, gymnastics, and instructive discussions have all got to end because "we cannot have drink at 10 p.m." The soul has gone out of the club.
This legislation that is proposed in the Bill never struck me as being particularly rigid or puritanical or reactionary. Deputy Cooper seems to think it is, and that all these things are intolerable restrictions on the liberty of the individual: that there is nothing in the general temper of the times calling for this restriction: that what the country needs is more gaiety and presumably gaiety of a particular kind, the kind of gaiety that is induced by heavy consumption of alcoholic liquor. These are irreconcilable points of view. The Deputy is of course strong in his views and eloquent in the advocacy of these views. I feel that in that respect I cannot vie with him at all. But it does seem to me that the responsibility on me is to put forward legislation which I believe is sound, and in the interests of the people, and which will make for better social order, of a general character which the nature of the times we are passing through seems to demand. On that basis I believe that it is adequate, and that it ought to be adequate to say to the individual: "You have got to make the most of the hours which lie between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m."; and to say to him that he cannot have this luxury or privilege, which Deputy Peadar Doyle asks, to move from his publichouse to his club and to order there further drinks. It is not saying that he cannot go from his publichouse to his club. Certainly he can. He can go there, and possibly he will talk more eloquently and more amusingly there by reason of having been at his publichouse. Possibly the divine spark will be all the brighter for the manner in which he has spent the few hours before. The only thing is that he cannot go there and be sold more intoxicating liquor.
I do not believe that it is an intolerable restriction at all, and I am not roused to any great emotion, or any great sympathy, by the talk that is put up around this subject. I know what the clubs are through the city and through the country. I have a very fair idea of the amount of drink that is consumed in these clubs. I have formed a very fair opinion as to whether the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor are or are not the backbone of their existence. I believe that this restriction is called for and I recommend it to the Dáil. I am not prepared accept Deputy P. Doyle's amendment. If there is a special case, the case of men whose occupation calls for work through the night when other men are in bed, and who could reasonably put up a case that the night is their day, that they must be out and doing late into the night, and that they should have facilities, then let that case be made, and between this and the Report Stage, I will endeavour to say whether a very circumspectly worded section or sub-section could not be inserted to meet that kind of case. But I do not think it is a hardship to the ordinary man, and to the ordinary club member to say that his consumption of liquor must be crowded into thirteen hours, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., the hours of the ordinary licensed traders in the country.
I wish to support Deputy Doyle's amendment. I am afraid the Minister has given an exaggerated and perhaps a rather sarcastic view of the possibilities of the consumption of drink in clubs. I do not think he is putting a fair case to the Dáil. He may know of such clubs. Perhaps some of us know a good deal of country clubs. I have had experience of clubs for many years. I have been a member of a club myself for many years. Possibly, like most married men, since I have been married I have retired to my home and have not attended a club. But there are numbers of men who do not marry, young men in banks and other places, and they generally have a club to go to. You also have numbers of men in country towns, who have hardly been five times in their lives inside a licensed house. I am aware of many such. These men close their business house in the country perhaps at 8 o'clock.
They may have a certain amount of writing to do which could not be attended to earlier in the day. That takes them up to 8.30, and then they may desire to go for a walk. They enter the club about 9.30 and they may meet there men of their own age who may be attending to somewhat the same business. Perhaps a game of cards may be suggested or they may go to the reading rooms to look over the papers. Afterwards a game of cards may be started. It would be very unreasonable in the case of those men, who cannot get to the clubs earlier, to have the clubs closed down at the suggested hour. I do not think it is fair. It would not be any great advantage in the case of young men who frequent clubs. If they are not in clubs they will go to cinemas. In my opinion it would be infinitely better for the country as a whole if there were decently run clubs, so as to avoid young men having to visit cinemas and see the kind of pictures that are sometimes screened. I believe that there should be an extension of time and I would suggest to the Minister to consider that and arrange a closing hour at 10.30 p.m.
There are clubs that I know of, and possibly other Deputies know of, that remain open until 1 a.m. That is wrong, and it is a bad thing for the young men going there. I speak, perhaps, somewhat with the weight of years, but in my opinion if the closing hour were arranged for 10.30 p.m., men like Deputy Sir James Craig, Deputy Johnson and myself could go to our clubs and speak on one matter or another, read a paper, or perhaps have a game of cards, and we could then have a little drink if we wished, and the club would be closed at 10.30. I would not approve of the closing hour being made so late as 12.30 a.m. or 1 a.m. In this country we are very much inclined to run to extremes. Clubs, as Deputy Gorey has suggested, should be conducted just as properly as licensed houses. Where drink is supplied up to 1 a.m. the law should be brought into force, and if any drink is given after 10.30, which I suggest should be the future licensing hour, the licence should be taken away. Why should business men be deprived of the possibility of having one or two drinks when they have finished their work in the evening? That would be the case if the present proposal is adhered to. In the event of the closing hour suggested by the Minister being carried out, no business man could enjoy his stay in the club unless he were to rush in to the bar, order two or three drinks, and then sit down to drink them until about 11 o'clock. If the closing hour were fixed for 10.30 p.m. it would be infinitely better, and I would press that suggestion on the Minister.
I rise to oppose the amendment. I must say that the arguments put forward in favour of it seem to me to be very trivial. The Minister's Bill is or is not wanted by the country. Either the country, and the members of the Dáil, are satisfied with the conditions as they exist, or they aim at improving the outlook. If they are satisfied, as some of the Deputies seem to advocate, or if they advocate an extension of facilities for consuming alcoholic liquor, they must take that responsibility as people voicing the opinions of the people they consider they represent. Surely, if there is a need for this Bill, if, as many people think, there is an urgent need for this Bill, and if, as a great many more people think, this Bill is a very modest contribution to a very big subject, then when Deputies come along here and advocate the lessening of restrictions for the sale of alcoholic liquor in any direction, they are, I think, advocating that the Bill should not pass into law at all.
Deputy D'Alton and other Deputies have spoken about clubs, and they speak with a pathetic interest in the man who goes to his club at 10 o'clock, and who wants a drink. They envisage men going to their clubs to get a drink, as if it was life or death to those men to get that drink, and they speak as if the need for an extension of the licensing hour to 10.30 p.m. constitutes some terrible grievance that is going to injure the health of the individual or affect his happiness. I quite agree that the average man who goes into his club and wants a drink of something or other at 10.10 p.m. is not possibly going to do either himself or anybody else very much harm. True, but is he going to be done any harm, or would not the mass of the people benefit by a general restriction of hours in which drink can be sold? Surely, if it is for the general good, the hardship inflicted on that man is a very modest hardship, and one that I think he ought to be very willing to undergo, if, by undergoing it, he is going to extend the operation as a general operation, rather than ask for privileges which really must be class privileges in the one case, or at all events, privileges as extended to a number of men in the case of objectionable clubs, where the sole object is to supply drink.
I really do not think there is any foundation for bringing in this amendment. Some Deputies have referred to the effect of this on the elections. Possibly some Deputies may be influenced in that direction. I am in the fortunate position that nobody has written to me on the subject beyond the circular letters that have gone around. The Dáil has indicated that it is not going to accept the Bill in its entirety, by reason of having struck out the previous section. If the Deputies are not in real earnest that a reform in the direction of the Bill is necessary and desirable, then, in the name of Providence, drop the Bill altogether; do not let us legislate except on the broad lines that it is desirable to restrict in every direction privileges—we will call them that—that we all know are desirable in some directions at all events.
I would like to understand a little more clearly what is the real argument for this amendment. The amendment proposes to substitute, as the closing hour, 11 o'clock for 10 o'clock on week days other than Saturdays, and 9.30 on Saturdays. The argument used by Deputy Doyle, and by the supporters of the clubs is that workmen, very often working late, coming from a distance sometimes into the town, require a social evening, and if the clubs are to be shut at 10 o'clock on an ordinary night and 9.30 on a Saturday night they have no time for that conviviality which they deem necessary for their happiness. Let us suppose that that is the real case and that the object is to allow the workmen a reasonable time for those social associations with their fellows in the way of an occasional drink together. Will the Deputy, speaking on behalf of those who support clubs, say that he would agree to the closing up of the clubs on Sundays except for meal hours? The argument for the evening's relaxation for the workmen does not apply, at least, to the Sundays. Will the Deputy therefore, agree on behalf of the clubs, to support a proposal to close clubs on Sundays when the argument for the evening's relaxation does not prevail? I think the answer to that will test what is the real purpose of the amendment.
I am surprised that the spokesmen, for the licensed trade proper, have not given expression to their views upon this matter. I said, when the earlier Bill was being discussed, last year, that I really could not see any good reason for giving extra facilities, either on week days or Sundays, to the members of clubs which I was not prepared to give to the customer of the publichouse. I have not yet heard any argument to shake the opinions I then expressed. I can understand the spokesmen for the breweries, for instance, taking a different line from the spokesmen of the publicans, but I really would like to hear what the publicans or their spokesmen have to say in respect of giving clubs privileges over and above the privileges that they themselves enjoy. I hope the Minister, when we come to the discussion of the section itself, will justify the long hours of Sunday opening for clubs, but that, no doubt, will arise when all the amendments have been disposed of. Perhaps it would help the Committee to a definite conclusion if Deputy Doyle, before we close this discussion, would tell us what his attitude would be in regard to the Sunday opening of clubs.
I look upon this as the most important section in the whole Bill, and, as a matter of fact, I think so strongly upon the matter that if the Minister were to bring forward a section in the Bill to close the licensed portion of clubs on Sundays altogether he would have my full support. We have heard a lot here as to the question of social entertainments in clubs. I do not think it is necessary at all that we should have bars in clubs in order to have proper social entertainments. I think it will be admitted that many people join clubs simply and solely because a bar is attached to them. I think that goes without saying. Now, the system up to this, whereby clubs have been allowed to keep their licensed portion open all day on Sunday, has been responsible for bringing down more than one unfortunate man—
On a point of order, does not this arise on the section, as a whole, and not on this particular amendment which does not refer to Sundays?
I am afraid I am out of order to that extent. At any rate I agree thoroughly with the proposal of the Minister to shut these clubs at the same time as publichouses. In the first place I do not see why a club should be enabled to keep open any longer than a publichouse. I believe it is not the function of a club, at all, to sell drink in the first instance, and for that reason it should be closed at the same time as the publichouses, and I say the fact that there are bars in clubs has been responsible for bringing down more than one young man. I say that wives and mothers in this country have cursed clubs because of that. I have heard complaints, from wives and mothers in my own town, because of the fact that there are bars in clubs that these kept these young men drinking night after night until the early hours of the morning. I heartily support the section as a whole.
I beg to move amendment 77:—
In sub-section (1) to insert after the word "premises" and inside the bracket in line 19 the words "for consumption on the premises."
The proposal, in the amendment, is to do what I think must be the intention of the Minister. It provides that no excisable drink shall be provided to any person other than members of the club lodging on the club premises, "for consumption on the premises." I do not know whether it is necessary to argue the matter.
I accept the amendment.
The question before the Committee now is: "That Section 18, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Before the section is put, I would like the Minister to deal with a point I raised a moment ago respecting paragraph (c). That paragraph gives a privilege to clubs to open their bars for the sale of intoxicating liquor on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., while public-houses in most parts of the country will be closed entirely, the only exception being the 2 to 5 opening in the four cities, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. The arguments that have been used already in respect to the amendments moved apply with added force, I think, when we come to deal with clubs on Sundays. We know, as a matter of fact, that very many people simply resort to clubs on Sundays for the purpose of obtaining drink, not merely drink for refreshment and not merely a drink or two for social intercourse, but for continuous drinking on Sundays. People may say that we are making allegations against this class of man and against that class of man, but whether we are making allegations or not, we are saying what is true to our own knowledge: that men, not of the working class alone—unfortunately too many of the working classes do it —but men of another class perhaps to a greater extent proportionately to their numbers, simply attend clubs as drinking places—for the purpose of drinking, day and night. Under this section we are going to continue the right of a member of a club to do that for hours on a Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., while we, at the same time and in the same Bill, say that the person who is not a member of a club shall not have the right to have any drink on Sundays. I cannot see the consistency in that.
It is not quite right for the Minister to say that we must deal with the existing situation, and modify it one way or another, recognising social habits and, to some extent at least, vested interests. It seems to me there might easily be a recognition of social habits, within reason, and of the reasonable requirements of club life, without making such a great exception as this will mean. There is no amendment to this. Deputy Murphy, who should have moved the last amendment, was not present, and I think possibly it should have been moved by permission in his absence. However, it seems to me that the Minister has the right to defend the section, as it stands, containing this sub-section(c). I hope the Committee will express itself on this matter, so that something may be done on the Report Stage to modify this privilege which clubs are obtaining: a privilege which is denied to publicans, and, mind you, denied to the public who are not members of clubs, and that the Minister will bring in something that will be more in keeping with the general intentions of the Bill, and with, I think, the wishes of the people.
I am glad that I have been asked to explain this discrimination between the club and the licensed establishment on Sunday. The position of the club on Sunday is a little difficult. It would be impossible to insist on the sale of drink being restricted in clubs to the hours during which licensed houses in the neighbourhood are allowed to open. Outside the cities of Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick, that would involve a complete closing of clubs for the sale of liquor during the hours that public-houses in the neighbourhood are free to sell tobona fide travellers. It would seem unsound to insist that a person who visited his club, some miles outside of Dublin, could not obtain a drink there, although he could obtain it at a publichouse in the neighbourhood of the club as a bona fide traveller. It would also be impossible to insist, in practice, on clubs recognising the distances which their members had travelled. The hours suggested in the Bill apply both to Sundays and weekdays. I would like Deputies to understand thoroughly the reasons for the discrimination.
If you take, say, a golf club at Rathfarnham, and say that there shall not be intoxicating drink sold there on Sundays, then it means that the man going to Rathfarnham golf links—to his club—cannot get a drink at his club though he could get it at a publichouse in the village, provided he were from a certain part of the city, and provided he were abona fide traveller. If you say that the club shall only have the same right to serve drink on Sundays as the publichouses in the neighbourhood, then you are laying down a rule which, in practice, would be impossible to enforce; you are asking a club to discriminate as between member and member, and you would really be embodying in your law a provision that would become absolutely nugatory and a dead letter. There would be no such discrimination in practice, and it would be impossible to enforce it. That is a difficult kind of case to meet and to answer.
I have been dealing with cases other than the cases that would exist in the four cities that have the 2 to 5 opening on Sundays. Let us come then to the City of Dublin and take the case there. It might sound a reasonable thing there to say that club hours should be confined to the hours of the licensed traders in the neighbourhood, that is to say, would be confined to the 2 to 5 opening hours. If I thought that abuses existed on a scale which called for it, that could, perhaps, be considered, but you would still have the difficulty that certain members of a club, provided they had come from a particular distance, would be entitled to get intoxicating liquor and would be entitled to get it in a publichouse. I would like to have quite clear what the opponents of the section think ought to be embodied in the section, and perhaps the matter could be further discussed on the Report Stage. I am wondering what form the amendment would take—whether it would take the form of suggesting that in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, where you have the 2 to 5 opening on Sundays, clubs would be confined to those hours, and that outside those hours, clubs would be subject to the same restrictions as publichouses in the neighbourhood, which would mean that they were restricted in the sale of drink to persons who had travelled a distance of more than three miles.
I think that the latter provision would be, as I say, very difficult to enforce, and I do not know that there is abuse in the form of excessive drinking on Sunday which calls for reform. I would look into the matter between this and the Report Stage and would be prepared to deal with an amendment on the Report Stage. When I say "deal with" I do not mean of necessity to accept it, but probably I would be inclined to take the view that it was a matter that the Dáil should consider freely and without party division, and decide upon it that way.
While the Minister is considering the matter would he also bear in mind the case of those clubs which are absolutelybona fide clubs that supply meals, that have dining rooms, and so on? There are not a very large number of them, but there are certainly a dozen in the city and county of Dublin. I know a good many people—I sometimes do it myself— who, in order to save their servants on a Sunday evening, are in the habit of taking a meal at their clubs instead of at their own houses. If they were in their own houses they could drink what they liked. But the hours from 2 to 5 would be very bad hours for these people; they would be the worst possible hours. If Deputy Johnson wanted to have only three hours I would prefer one to two and seven to nine. The whole thing is very complicated and I think we should be unwise to proceed without deliberation. be cause that would be a gratuitous and unnecessary hardship to impose on people. It would simply mean, say, if I came up to Dublin, instead of having my meal in my club, if I wanted to have alcoholic liquor I would go round to the Shelbourne Hotel where I would be a bona fide traveller. These things must be taken into account when you are dealing with a complicated question of this kind. The truth is that we could do more by regulation and by police work to stamp out the bogus clubs altogether, but the legitimate club which exists for many other purposes, which pays heavy rates and is obviously existing for the general convenience of members, not merely to supply them with alcoholic liquor, should not be harassed.
It seems to me that one of the difficulties of this whole question of clubs is really to define what is a club in the ordinary meaning of the word, and what is something that is not exactly a club. The Minister has given an instance of a golf club. Of course such a very obvious concession to a club of that sort is not likely to be abused. On the other hand, to use the bald word "club," it seems to me that you bring into the range of vision things that are not golf clubs, and things that are what I am afraid Deputy Cooper would not consider clubs in his meaning of the term. It seems to me that the real difficulty there is the line to be drawn. I agree with Deputy Cooper that in the case of a club that was regularly supplying meals and was discharging the social functions of a home to a great many people, it is in a different category altogether from the club which is also called a club, but which is really only a bar. If it were possible to distinguish between them it would help us very much.
I think the difficulties are increasing. We have first tried to make a distinction between the club and the pub. Now we are trying to make a classification of clubs. I think if you made a stipulation that food shall be supplied in a club to enable them to have special privileges you would be likely to have all clubs taking advantage of the opportunities. I feel that the position as regards the Bill that regulates that 2 to 5 shall be the hours of opening for the pub, and that clubs shall be open for nine hours is unfair. I do not see what logic can be brought to sustain the discrimination between the two. I confess that I am at a loss to find out where it lies. Then, on the other hand, the Bill seems to provide that clubs can be opened outside the cities mentioned all through the country for the same number of hours. That would be a total absurdity, and some provision must be made. But the duty of the Minister, in drafting something to suit the Bill on Report, and making it equitable and fair, is to see that he keeps the balance fairly between the club and the publichouse, and that no preference should be given to the club as against the publichouse. All the difficulties that we have in the licensed trade arise from the fact that allegations are made that people of a certain status who comply with certain regulations are able to get anything they want at any time, and that these regulations are being forced upon democratic people who are not able to afford these things. These are the difficulties you have to contend with. No logic can sustain it, the people will not stand it, and it is creating the difficulties that we have.
This is one of the cases in which I sympathise most with the Minister, because it is within everybody's knowledge that if there is abuse at all in the use of drink this abuse takes place in the clubs, and especially on Sundays. Anybody in any country town who happens to go into the hallways of some of these clubs cannot help seeing the results of Sunday drinking in them. There are clubs and clubs. There are clubs started with the deliberate intention of being social clubs, of being clubs in every sense of the word, but there are others which comply with these regulations, or nominally comply with them. There are rooms set apart for reading, billiards, and other things, but the one and only essential of these clubs is drinking. Deputy Corish referred to them a few minutes ago, and the same class of club is in my mind. They are nominally supposed to close at 10 or 11 o'clock, but they go on right through until Monday morning in many cases. The supervision has not been proper supervision at all. These clubs only nominally come under the regulations, and people are kept there all night. I have heard most astonishing details of people being kept all night in clubs near where I live. That cannot be done under this Bill. I think that Deputy Cooper's suggestion ought to be acted on; it ought to be done by strict police or Civic Guard supervision. I do not know how you are going to get at it; I cannot suggest the remedy, but the difficulty is there, and the abuse is there. It is a most glaring abuse and this Bill will largely have failed in its object if we cannot deal with drinking in clubs on Sundays.
I will consider the matter very carefully between this and the Report Stage.
I put down this amendment not quite certain what the position is of a club which is not a club selling intoxicating liquors. I think, but I am not sure, that there are clubs which are registered under this Act which do not sell intoxicating liquor, and I want, under the amendment, to continue the fee of 10/- for these clubs while agreeing to the increase to £2 in the case of clubs which sell intoxicating liquor. Perhaps the Minister would make it clear to me whether it is a fact, which I assume to be a fact, that there are clubs which do not sell intoxicating liquor but which are registered under this Act.
The position is that there is no such thing as a club licensed to sell intoxicating liquor. Under the Registration of Clubs Act, 1904, there is a provision for registering clubs whose rules comply with a certain statutory model. The only object of registration is to enable excisable liquor to be sold and supplied to the members of the club. It is an offence to sell or to supply liquor in an unregistered club. Every club which supplies liquor to its members must be registered. No other club need be registered under the Act, nor is there any advantage in registration except the power to supply liquor. There is, therefore, no need for the amendment and nothing could be effected by it.
After the explanation I will withdraw the amendment.
In connection with this section I would like to know what the power of the Civic Guard is in regard to the supervision of clubs. Are they empowered to go in at any time they like? I do not know anything about the law governing the application of clubs for registration, but what is the power of the civil authorities in connection with the club? I would like to know that.
The powers of the police at present with regard to clubs are considered inadequate. The present position is that the police can only visit clubs on warrant, secured from a magistrate and after having satisfied him that there are reasonable grounds for believing that abuse has taken place. In operation that means that practically the club is immune from police supervision.
I may say and I should say perhaps that several responsible people in the management of clubs here in Dublin have told me that so far from resenting the provision that enables the police to inspect clubs, they welcome it. It is right that I should say that publicly.
Does the provision whereby the Civic Guard will be allowed to go in there, exist apart from being contained in this Bill?
It exists in Section 23.
Section 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Section 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) If any officer of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or the Gárda Síochána, not being below the rank of Inspector, is of opinion that there is reasonable ground for supposing that any club registered under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904, is so managed or carried on as to constitute a ground of objection to the renewal of its certificate under that Act, or that any offence under that Act as amended by this Act has been or is being committed in any such club, or that any excisable liquor is sold or supplied, or kept for sale or supply, on the premises of a club which is not registered under that Act, he may issue an order in writing (in this section called a search order) to any one or more sergeants, constables, or guards under his command to search the premises of such club.
(2) A search order issued under this section shall authorise the sergeants, constables, or guards named therein to enter the club at any time within twenty-four hours after the issuing of the order, and if need be by force, and to inspect the premises of the club, to take the names and addresses of any persons found therein, and to seize any books and papers relating to the business of the club.
(3) In the event of any person or persons found in such premises refusing to give their respective names and addresses when requested by any such sergeant, constable, or guard or giving false names and addresses, such person or persons so doing shall be liable severally on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.
Does the Minister think it is necessary to have in the second line "not being below the rank of an inspector"? Generally in the provincial towns there is only one inspector and thus a provision would confine it to one man in these provincial towns. Outside of the four cities that would apply, and perhaps, even in these four cities, but I think you are restricting it to a very small number when you are restricting it to one inspector.
The order is confined to officers of a certain rank but the visit may be by people of a lower rank.
I am quite satisfied then.
Is it too late to ask the Minister if he could make any statement in reference to the present situation in the country in connection with this question? I think if he were in a position to do so it would be of some interest and perhaps of some value to the country—if he could give us some assurance and perhaps on the next section also.
I take it that the Deputy would like something in the nature of a general statement as to the extent illicit distillation is still carried on in parts of the country. While I am satisfied that the distribution in practically full strength of the Guards, distributed as they are now in over 800 stations, has made this traffic difficult and dangerous, I am far from satisfied that it is anywhere near elimination at the moment. It is carried on successfully in many counties in the West, and there is no lack of evidence that for the last 3 or 4 months dealers in poteen have been equipping themselves against this section of the Bill by laying in large stores of raw material. For that reason I was rather sorry that we were not able to get this Bill through in the last session, because I recognised that the delay and the suspension of the Bill would have the result that the people engaged in this illicit traffic, noting this section which enables us to schedule areas and to control raw materials of poteen within such areas, would take their precautions.
They have been taking their precautions as large orders for barley and malt have come to dealers in the midlands and have come from quarters that permit of only one explanation. That cannot be helped and I am still satisfied that the provisions of this Bill with regard to this subject will be very useful and are likely to be effective in operation. I am strongly of opinion that nothing short of a rather drastic control of the raw materials, extended over a long period, will have an appreciable effect in stamping out that traffic.
"In sub-section (4), line 59, after the word ‘of' to insert the words ‘not exceeding,' and in line 60 to delete all words from the word ‘section' to the end of the sub-section."
This amendment deals rather with the question of the principle on which penalties should be imposed. The Bill empowers a magistrate to impose a penalty of £50, which is capable of being mitigated, I presume, by the magistrate himself. That is a kind of a penalty which always seems to me to run foreign to any reasonable conception of the law, and the amendment is designed to change it. That is to say, to put in the words, "penalty not exceeding £50," and to delete the words "which are capable of being mitigated under Section 39 of the said Act." I am not strong on the matter, but it seems to me to be an undesirable practice to continue this method of imposing a penalty, and then to tell a magistrate that he may mitigate it.
In the Illicit Distillation Act of 1831 there were maximum penalties, and these were considered satisfactory with this qualification that, owing to the changed value of money it was thought proper to double them, as has been done under Section 28. It was thought that this was too low when the new section was inserted. All the penalties mentioned in Section 31 of the Illicit Distillation Act are maximum, with powers in Section 39 to mitigate to a minimum of £6. Whether minimum penalties are good things or not is questionable, and the Deputy's amendment deserves consideration. It seems to single out one of many offences of a similar class for special treatment; that is the offence of signalling. The only offence under the Illicit Distillation Act which would be covered by the amendment is the penalty of £10 on persons giving notice to smugglers of the approach of Excise officers. It would not seem a case for special treatment of that particular offence.
I did not know that the other offences were punishable in the same way, and, having drawn attention to what I think is a fault in the method, I will not press it if the Minister gives it consideration between now and the Report Stage.
I want to say a word on the Title. The Bill says: "This Act may be cited as ‘The Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1924.'" There is already on the Statute Book "The Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1924," and I think we may be in for some confusion. No doubt that will be "31, or something, of 1924," and this will have some other number. I think it would have been a good thing if, in this Bill and other similar cases, like the Local Government Bill, of which there are two, the later Bill were differentiated as No. 2 Bill and the Intoxicating Liquor Bill as No. 2 of 1924. Otherwise there is bound to be some confusion. I would have put down an amendment but that did not occur to me before. Perhaps the Minister will put down an amendment on the Report Stage.
Yes, the point the Deputy raises needs attention. The Act at present in operation will probably be repealed, and even though repealed it will have its present name and it is advisable that this particular piece of legislation should have a different name.
The Minister will consider that on Report?
The Minister mentioned repealing an earlier Act. That would be considered on Report, and would require a repeal section.