ADDITIONAL AND SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES INTRODUCED. - TOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924—FOURTH STAGE.

I beg to move the following amendment:—

In page 2, before Section 1 (2), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

"(2) Where any business other than the sale of intoxicating liquors is carried on in any licensed premises the whole of such premises shall be closed during the hours in which the sale of intoxicating liquor is prohibited by this section, unless the portion of such premises in which such sale is carried on is structurally separated from the remainder thereof."

The effect of the amendment is that where mixed trading is carried on in a licensed premises, no portion can remain open for any purpose, even for the sale of commodities which are otherwise than intoxicating liquor, after the hour prescribed by the Bill, unless the portion of the premises in which the intoxicating liquors are sold is structurally separated.

I would ask that this amendment be postponed. It would inflict great hardship on the poor people in the different localities in the country who have to call to some of the public houses on Sunday mornings or Sunday evenings for their new milk. They cannot do so if this amendment is carried. Apart from milk, they call for other necessaries of life. It is very easy to laugh at that, but I assure you that I am quite serious. It would be a great hardship on poor people who have no other place to go for milk and other commodities. They would be dealing in that public house during the week, and they would not get even a pint of milk in any other house in that village. My experience of the law as that what is now proposed is nearly the law already; but formerly, realising the necessity of the thing and seeing that it would inflict hardship, the English Government did not enforce it. With the Commission staring us in the face, we ought not to proceed with this amendment now. We are told that in a couple of months we will have different public houses, regulated to meet the requirements of all. Let this amendment be postponed until the new Commission is set up. When we reach that period we will be making little saints of all the publicans in the country.

I would like to ask the Minister if the amendments submitted here are carried, what will be left for the promised Commission to do? The Minister for Justice promised that Commission some time ago. If all those amendments are carried, there will be nothing left for it to do. I suggest that those amendments are embarrassing on both the traders and the people, and they should be left over pending the Commission's decision.

The Deputy asks when, and if, these amendments are passed, what will be left for the Commission to consider? The main business of the Commission will be to consider the large excess of licensed establishments in the country beyond the reasonable requirements of the people; but there will be other matters. There will be, for instance, such matters as thebona fide traffic, which this Bill does not touch upon at all, and a good many minor matters arising in one way or another from the drink trade in the country. This amendment is scarcely worth the time we are giving to it. When it passes, people who run a mixed business will have, for the purpose of such business, thirteen hours for every day in the week excepting Saturday, and twelve and a half hours for Saturday. It is a small thing to say that the people who run, under the one roof and in the one room so to speak, a trade in intoxicating liquor together with some other business, shall confine that other business to the hours in which it is legitimate to deal in intoxicating liquors; in other words, the hours are from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the ordinary week-day, and 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. on Saturday evenings.

It would be wrong, and it would make matters extremely difficult for the police, from the point of view of supervision, if a mixed shop could be kept open after the hours in which it would be legitimate to keep an ordinary licensed establishment open, so that people could be in that shop, professedly to buy bacon or butter, or new milk, as the Deputy suggested, and the onus would be on the police to show that those people had actually consumed drink there. Nothing short of a policeman stationed in the shop would secure that, as the Deputy knows.

The Deputy has already made a speech.

Very well, sir.

I will vote against this amendment. I think it is an amendment that should be withdrawn. If it be passed there will be many cases of hardship. Of course, we all appreciate that public houses are open thirteen hours of the day, and that period is quite long enough for anybody to consume all the liquor he requires. It may, however, happen that people who reside a mile or two from a town may not get paid early on Saturday, and that when they come in to town on a Saturday night after being paid, they would be unable to get the goods they would require. I think the withdrawal of the amendment should be agreed to. If it is pressed the Deputies will have to vote against it. As Section 12 was deleted on last Tuesday, that ought to be enough to convince the Minister that the structural alterations principle is knocked out. It would seem now as if the Government were trying to bring in by the back door what had been kicked out through the front door. If this amendment is agreed to, I would not be surprised to find, later on, amendments to the effect that the publicans should be permitted to sell nothing except liquor, and that they should have to provide a separate shop in order to sell groceries.

I fail to understand why some of the Deputies in these Benches laughed when Deputy Daly mentioned the sale of new milk. These Deputies who live in the city know nothing about the country. Deputy Daly is perfectly right. In many parts of the country the publican in a town or village is the only milk vendor for miles around. Naturally it is to his house people have to go for milk, and they have to go there before and after closing hours. As far as I am concerned, I will vote against this amendment, and, if no other Deputy calls a division on it, I will.

On a point of explanation, I just want to say that I know that this is the law already. But I wanted to point out that even the British Government did not enforce the law, and they allowed their police discretion in this matter. I would not divide the Dáil on this amendment, but if the Minister for Justice cannot accept it, I would ask him to issue regulations to the police not to be too strict in enforcing this section, and to say to them that wherever there was a genuine case of a poor person looking for milk not to prosecute. Of course, if the policeman saw a hardy annual walking in with a pint vessel under his arm it would be a different thing, and he could nail him. I will not press for a division on this amendment.

I do not think it would be right to oppose this amendment. I am partly in the trade myself. The publican has got practically 13 hours per day in which to sell milk or any other commodity that he likes. I do not think, if it is only milk the publicans sold, that the profits that would accure from the sale of that milk would run much danger or risk from this amendment. I am supporting the amendment.

Purely on the grounds of restriction of shop hours and the employment of assistants within certain limits of hours I support the amendment. I would urge on that ground, if on no other, that the amendment should be carried. To open shops before nine o'clock in the morning for the sale of groceries or milk is going against the general trend of modern legislation for the hours of sale of commodities in shops. It is desirable to restrict the hours, and not have people resuming the practice that was common years ago, of keeping shops open and assistants employed for 14, 15, and in some cases 18, hours a day. On that ground and no other I ask the Deputies to support this amendment.

As regards Deputy Johnson's argument——

Deputy Lyons has spoken already on this amendment.

I only want to speak on a point of explanation.

It must be a point of personal explanation.

It is on a point of personal explanation, because it concerns myself. In reference to Deputy Johnson's appeal to the Dáil to support this amendment, I want to make it clear that by going against the amendment I was not advocating longer hours for shop assistants. But we know that under the terms of their employment shop assistants work a certain number of hours per week. If any extra work is to be done it must be done by the owner. Consequently, Deputy Johnson's argument about long hours falls to the ground.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I beg to move:—

In page 3, Section 1 (3), line 37, to delete the word "licensed," and in line 38, after the word "amusement" to insert the words "licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor."

The sub-section, as it stands, would apply to theatres and other places of amusement which are not licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor. It is not intended that it should so apply.

Amendment agreed to.

I move:—

In page 4 to add at the end of Section 1 a new sub-section as follows:—

"Nothing in this section shall vary or impair the rights enjoyed by the holders of licences for hotels and restaurants within the Dublin Metropolitan Police district under the Hotels and Restaurants (Dublin) Act, 1910."

That particular Act is one in which I am interested, because it is my only legislative effort. It was brought in by the members for the City and County of Dublin in the British Parliament. It empowers the proprietor of a hotel or restaurant in the Dublin Metropolitan Police district, after giving due notice to the police, to apply for an extension of hours for a particular purpose. It is under this Act that I think the St. Patrick's Day banquet is able to be held, and the Tailteann Games banquet was able to be held. It is not, I think, at all clear in the Bill as it stands. On the Second Reading I asked the Minister whether the right would still continue, and he said it would. But, of course, what a Minister says is not necessarily the law. What the Dáil passes is the law, and in this case I thought it desirable to put down an amendment. Even among lawyers I found some conflict as to whether the passing of this Bill would not repeal the provision. I would like to have a statement from the Minister as to the exact position.

It is proposed to accept the Deputy's amendment so as to remove any doubt as to the exact provision.

Thank you.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move:—

In page 4, before Section 2, to insert a new section as follows:—"Section 29 of the Licensing Act (Ireland) 1874, shall be construed and have effect as if the words ‘in any part of such house other than the part in which such sale usually takes place' were added at the end of that section."

Under the Act of 1874 there was an exemption in favour of licence holders entertaining friends on their premises at their own expense. The object of this amendment is that that exemption shall still apply, but only when the entertainment takes place in that portion of the premises in which drink is not usually sold; in other words in the private portion of the house.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move:—

In page 4, before Section 2, to insert a new section as follows:—

"(1) Section 2 of the Licensing Act (Ireland), 1874, shall from and after the passing of this Act be construed and have effect as if the principal Act referred to therein were this Act.

"(2) The holder of an early closing licence within the meaning of Section 2 of the Licensing Act (Ireland), 1874 (whether such licence was granted before or after the passing of this Act), shall close the premises to which such licence relates at night one hour earlier than the ordinary hour after which the sale of intoxicating liquor is prohibited by this Act, and the provisions of this Act shall apply to such premises as if such earlier hour were the hour after which the sale of intoxicating liquor is prohibited by this Act."

The effect of that amendment is that holders of early closing licences shall continue to close their premises one hour earlier than the holders of ordinary licences.

Will the Minister say what is the position of six-day licence holders under the present Act? Is there anything in the present Act that forces them to close earlier than the seven-day licence holder?

When the Deputy speaks of the present Act, does he mean the Act now in operation in the country? Under the Act in operation they are obliged to close earlier.

Under the present Act?

I think there is a mistake. I have a letter from the Minister's own Office, dated the 3rd November, in which it is stated that the six-day licence holder is not required to close his premises earlier than the holder of the seven-day licence. That would be at variance with the information the Minister gives.

The Deputy does not realise that there are two distinct things. There is the ordinary six-day licence and the six-day early closing licence.

Are there two sorts of six-day licences then?

Can the Minister make them all one in the new Act?

That is what I was going to ask the Minister. In view of the unfair competition will he promise at a later date to introduce an amendment to govern present licensed holders, so that these people may have their licences reviewed?

I will not promise anything of the kind, but the Commission may consider matters of that kind if they are brought under their notice. It is idle to talk of unfair competition. These were licences given on easier terms than full licences and simply because we are passing a Bill now dealing with hours we should not be asked to add considerably to the value of the thing that was given out of a vague desire for uniformity.

Will the Minister see that the terms of reference of the Commission are wide enough to include cases of that kind?

Yes; I will see that the terms of reference of the Commission are very wide.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move—

In page 4, Section 2, lines 8, 9, and 10, to delete all words from "a" to the word and figures "of 1924,)" inclusive.

The Act referred to in these lines is already in operation, and there is no necessity to have the words included.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move—

In page 4, Section 2, lines 15 and 16, to delete the words "District Justice" and to substitute the words "Justice of the District Court."

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:

In page 4, Section 4, line 36, after the word "trains" to insert the words "to passengers who have travelled or hold tickets entitling them to travel on those trains for a distance of not less than ten miles to or from such railway station."

The object of that amendment is to put an end to the abuses that exist of persons, perhaps, purchasing a penny ticket and availing of it not for the purpose of travelling but for the purpose of getting drink at prohibited hours.

Can the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary give us some information as to why 10 miles was selected? I agree that the abuse of people taking a ticket from Westland Row to Lansdowne Road, going into the station to have a drink and travelling no further, should be put a stop to. Is there any particular reason for the figure 10? It will practically cut out the whole of the Dublin suburban traffic. Unless people live as far away as Bri-Chualann they will not be able to get a drink at a railway station going home. I think it might be argued that a man working late and going, say, to Dun Laoghaire, or possibly Blackrock—the Minister might not like it—is a bona fide traveller. Would it not be better to fix some limitation of price and say that the ticket must cost more than 6d., or something of that kind?

I wonder if I made it 9, would it suit residents of Dalkey? The idea underlying the provision was that there might be a case of people undertaking a journey or coming off a journey being unable to get reasonable refreshments. When a man goes into a station and buys a penny ticket and then consumes drink out of all proportion to the price of his ticket, that is in fact an evasion of the provision. Ten miles was arrived at simply as a round figure. It is, at any rate, abona fide journey, and I do not know that there is very much to be said for any lower figure—I mean in matters of that kind you can never make a case for one figure. If I said 12, it could be said “Why not 11, why not 13?” and so on. Ten seems a reasonable figure to establish the genuine nature of the journey, and I think a small suburban trip of three or four miles is not the kind of journey to meet which the provision was originally inserted.

I would suggest to Deputy Cooper that he should consider the possibilities, supposing his idea was carried out. I can imagine, for instance, the directors of the new amalgamated railway establishing rather sumptuous hotel and drinking accommodation at Dalkey, and selling tickets at 1d. to the residents of Dublin to encourage traffic on the railway and to recoup themselves in the bar.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

In page 5, Section 5 (5), lines 21 and 22, to delete the words "District Justice in the Court District" and substitute the words "Justice of the District Court in the Court Area."

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

In page 5, Section 7 (1), line 47, to insert after the word "Minister" the words "for Justice."

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

In page 5, Section 8, line 56, to delete the word "eighteen" and substitute the word "sixteen."

This is an amendment put down in reply to a challenge of the Minister's. He asked me when I proposed to allow boys under eighteen years of age the comparatively harmless drink of ale or cider, why instead of trying to defend drinking by a boy I did not attack the question of age. I never refuse the Minister's challenge. So now I am taking the question of age, and I shall be interested to see what case he proposes to put up, because he proposes himself in Amendment 12, or rather he has got Deputy Duggan to propose, that a boy over 16 years of age may serve behind a counter in a bar. The Minister's own proposition is that a boy over sixteen, and under eighteen, may serve behind the counter in a bar. There he will have all the harm that has been suggested by other Deputies of the environment of a publichouse. I think myself they exaggerated their case, but there is no doubt if he wants a drink he will be able to get a certain amount. It is practically impossible to prevent a boy behind a bar occasionally helping himself by pouring out short measure, or something of that kind. At the same time, as the Bill stands, if this amendment of mine is not carried, a boy over sixteen and under eighteen would not be able, if dining in the most respectable restaurant in Dublin or Cork to have a glass of beer.

I think if you are going to allow boys of seventeen to serve behind bars you may allow boys of seventeen to have a glass on the other side of the bar, or with a meal. I do not think that this is a provision that will make for increased drunkenness. The average boy of that age does not care for drink, but I have known boys of sixteen to drink beer and they were none the worse for it. In fact I have seen the husband of the lady who was responsible for a provision of this kind in the British Parliament, when he was about seventeen years of age drinking beer and he seems to have been none the worse for it. I do not think this is a provision that will make for drunkenness. It is certainly consistent with the amendment Deputy Duggan has immediately following.

Are we in order in discussing this amendment? On a point of procedure, I understood that it was not possible to raise an amendment on the Report Stage that had been the subject of an amendment in Committee, and had been settled in Committee.

What was the amendment in Committee?

The amendment concerned the age at which boys could serve in a bar. There was a good deal of discussion as to the age at which boys could obtain drink.

There was no amendment in Committee to make this age eighteen in the draft, sixteen. That is certain. Therefore this amendment is in order.

Certainly the question of sixteen was mentioned but it may not have been put forward as an amendment.

We can only go by definite amendments. We cannot go by things mentioned in discussions, unfortunately.

Deputy Cooper has, generally, an orderly kind of mind. He suggests that he has confronted me with a great difficulty, something that it will be very hard to make a case for, because there is a provision in the Bill by which a small number of the youths in the Saorstát, possibly not more than a couple of hundred, may start their apprenticeship in this trade at the age of sixteen. The Deputy suggests that it is impossible, or very difficult, to square that with a refusal to allow all the youths in the Saorstát, between sixteen and eighteen years of age, to drink freely on licensed premises. I do not think the Deputy burned very much midnight oil over that particular question. It is a question of the proportion of the thing. As I say, in the one case it is confined to a small number of youths of a certain class, who desire to enter the trade, and wishing to commence their two or three years' apprenticeship at the age of sixteen. In the other case we have to face, generally, the question of whether we consider it a desirable thing that the boys of the country, even between sixteen and eighteen years of age, should be enabled to get drink in publichouses, and consume drink in publichouses.

And hotels and restaurants?

And hotels and restaurants, certainly. The Deputy says he has seen boys taking beer and ale without any very terrible results. I have no doubt you cannot legislate in that way. You have got simply to take broad facts, and ask yourself whether it would be a good thing that the boys of the country, generally, of school-going age should be enabled to drink in publichouses or hotels. I do not think it is. The youth of eighteen years of age will probably be able to look after himself if he is the kind of person who ever gets to the stage of being able to look after himself. But the couple of years below that, the years of sixteen and seventeen, are not quite the same; they are more formative years, and slight influences one way or the other may affect the whole trend of the person's life. I think it is right to insert in the new legislation a provision to the effect that boys from eighteen years downwards may not buy drink freely in publichouses and restaurants, and consume it there. If in their own homes their parents, or guardians, consider it a reasonable or a proper thing that they should be allowed to drink beer, wine, whiskey or any other drink, that is one thing, but it is another thing to say that they may go freely into publichouses, hotels and restaurants, and buy and consume drink there.

I do not agree that it is in any way inconsistent with, or in any way repugnant to that, that we feel that we must allow youths of sixteen to begin their apprenticeship to a particular trade. It is, perhaps, regrettable that boys so young as sixteen should be employed in that trade, but the case has been made here of the hardship it would mean to prevent that, as it might mean a boy hanging around idle or being dependent on his parents for a year or more after he left school, before he could begin his apprenticeship to this trade. Possibly, later on, if the school-going age itself is raised, there might be a strong case for raising the age at which boys may commence their apprenticeship to this trade.

This is a matter which particularly affects, or at least so it seems, the representatives of the County Dublin. I think the Minister has been very lenient with Deputy Cooper, whose proposition is, that not merely boys of 16 should be free to enter public houses and buy whiskey, but that girls of the same age should be free to enter public houses and buy beer, gin or wine, or any other kind of intoxicating liquor. Deputy Cooper agrees that girls under 18 should not be allowed to sell intoxicating liquor.

I have heard it ordered for girls by doctors.

Deputy Cooper not merely suggests, but wishes the Dáil to enact, that a girl of 16 may be served in a public house with spirits or beer. Possibly Deputy Cooper knows persons of 16 years of age to be ordered by doctors to take intoxicating liquor, but I defy him to produce any case where a doctor ordered a girl of 16 to go into a public house and buy intoxicating liquor. The proposition, coming from Deputy Cooper, is very retrogressive, and I do not think he will find very many to support him. The Minister, as I have said, was very lenient in dealing with Deputy Cooper, and assumes that only boys of 16 are referred to in the amendment. But I would point out that Deputy Cooper does not make any restriction in respect to sex. He includes any person, boy or girl, and the effect of his amendment, if carried, would be that it would be lawful for a licensed person to sell intoxicating liquor to any person, boy or girl, of 16 years of age and upwards. I hope that the Dáil will not accept Deputy Cooper's lead in this matter.

I find that this is the only section in the Bill that I agree with. I think it is wrong to allow youths to be served with drink at a public bar. If boys and girls, under 18 years of age, are allowed to be served with drink in public bars, then, when they reach the age of 24 or 25, they will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to give up taking intoxicating liquor. If they are not allowed in their youth to take drink publicly, I am sure that their parents or guardians will exercise sufficient control over them in their own homes to see that they do not get intoxicating liquor at home. I am opposed to Deputy Cooper's amendment. In fact I would go so far as to say that young people under 20 years of age should not be served with drink at a public bar. If boys and girls get accustomed to taking drink in their youth it will be hard to prevent them from continuing to do so when they reach manhood and womanhood. I hope the Dáil will reject an amendment which proposes that, I might say, children of 16 years of age should be served with drink in publichouses. The point which Deputy Cooper raised about a boy going to serve his time to business at the age of 16 years has no bearing on this at all, for the reason that control can be exercised over an apprentice by the publican or his foreman. They will see that the apprentice will not get any intoxicating drink, and if he is caught taking it he should be dismissed immediately. In fact, if a provision to that effect were inserted in the Bill I would be quite satisfied. If the Bill is to achieve any useful purpose at all, it ought to be to prevent boys and girls from being afforded facilities for taking intoxicating drink.

If this section is passed it will almost become obligatory on publicans to take out some kind of a medical degree. It would be almost impossible for a publican to tell the age of a boy of 16, 17 or 18. You might get a boy of 17½ years of age almost twice as big as a boy of 18 years. He might have an older looking face than the boy of 18, and how, I ask, in such a case is the publican to know whether he is 17 or 18? The publican, of course, might do what is done in the case of persons who present themselves as bona fide travellers. A youth say, comes in and asks for a drink. He is asked if he is over 18, and of course if he wants a drink he will say "yes." How is the publican going to refuse him? What mode of procedure will the policeman adopt when he takes the alleged offender to the court? On whom will the onus of proof lie? It will put the publican, the boy himself and the policeman in a very awkward position, while the District Justice will be put in a terrible position. I am of opinion that this section will lead to endless trouble. When the case comes to the court the policeman may be put in a very awkward position if he is asked by the District Justice to say on his oath whether or not the boy is 17 or 18. Personally I may say that I am very much against any young fellow of 17 going into a publichouse and calling for drink. I do not like it, and I am as much against that as any Deputy here. If only the truth were known perhaps I am more against it than any Deputy here. Though I speak for the licensed trade, I do not want to say that I am the patron saint of it. At the same time I desire to point out that publicans will be placed in a very awkward position if this section is passed. How are they to know whether a boy is 16, 17 or 18? In late years you cannot get boys at that age to tell you a word of the truth.

The speeches delivered by Deputy Lyons and Deputy Johnson were so irresistible that I will ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

I object.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment 12.

In page 6, Section 10, lines 32 and 33, to delete the words "any female person under the age of eighteen years" and substitute the words "or permits—

(a) any female person being his sister, step-sister, daughter, step-daughter or sister-in-law residing with him and being under the age of sixteen years, or

(b) any other female person being under the age of eighteen years, or

(c) any male person under the age of sixteen years."

This amendment is introduced as a result of the discussion in Committee. The effect of it is that a licensed trader will be allowed to have the assistance of certain immediate female relatives over the age of sixteen and of any other female person over eighteen and any male person over the age of sixteen.

On a point of order, I desire to ask whether it is competent to have amendments moved without notice at this stage. These amendments have not been in our hands very long. They have not given sufficient time to allow the ordinary amendment procedure to be observed and I would desire to move, if it is in order, that paragraph (c) be deleted. I just raise that as a matter of order.

The Deputy wishes to move as an amendment to the amendment that paragraph (c) be deleted. I will take that further amendment.

I would like to ask the mover of the amendment a question—

There is another amendment to be disposed of first.

It can only be taken by the general leave of the Dáil; is that not so? If objection is taken, can Deputy Johnson move his amendment?

Is not the other point equally true, that if Deputy Johnson wished to take objection on the grounds that these amendments only came into our hands this morning they would have to be postponed so that due notice of them might be given?

The amendments were circulated in type last week.

I think that when an amendment is proposed and another Deputy desires to move another amendment to that amendment, and when the latter amendment is accepted by the Chair, then it is accepted. I do not think that the unanimous leave of the House is necessary.

In any case, I was not going to object.

May I ask exactly what the matter before the House is? Is this amendment accepted and has it become substantive in order to enable Deputy Johnson to move a further amendment to it?

I will not move in the matter.

Amendment 12 is before the Dáil.

If this amendment is accepted, in what way will males under sixteen, who may probably have served three or six months of their apprenticeship, be affected?

Under the Act, I think the position would be that persons presently so employed and under the age of sixteen would have to leave until they attain the age of sixteen. There may be hardship in that, perhaps, that ought to be considered. I would consider whether it would not be advisable to have inserted in the Seanad an amendment meeting that position.

Then I am satisfied.

May I suggest that any boy under sixteen employed in a shop of this kind could possibly find plenty of occupation within the establishment without breaking his agreement, beside the selling of liquor. When we have lowered the age so much, as compared with the female person, there surely is no need to make exceptions below the age of sixteen. There are very few shops, I think, except those carrying on mixed businesses, which have boys under sixteen, and in any such mixed businesses I think certainly they would be able to find plenty of employment in the other departments without requiring to sell liquor. There is nothing to prevent their continuing their apprenticeship and doing other work besides selling liquor.

That may be all very well for cities or large towns with nine or ten thousand population, where there may be large premises and where there may be sufficient work for boys in selling groceries at one particular counter until they have reached the age of sixteen. But in small towns there may be only one boy employed in a very small business. He would have to sell everything and if such a boy was not sixteen years of age, if this amendment was adopted, he would not be allowed to go inside the bar to sell a drink, although he would not have sufficient to do at the other counter. In some shops both counters are together. There are shops in country towns where there is hardware and grocery and licensed business all in one shop and at the same counter and if a boy is behind that counter he cannot keep a certain number of feet for groceries and a certain number for licensed business. I raise no objection in this case as the Minister guaranteed to bring in an amendment in the Seanad with a view to enabling those boys of sixteen who are already in apprenticeship to remain at their business.

I do not want the Deputy to be under any misapprehension. I undertoook to consider whether I would cause to be inserted in the Seanad a provision meeting the case he puts up. I did not undertake to cause such a provision to be inserted, but simply to consider whether there was a case for its insertion; so that the Deputy ought not to accuse me of breach of faith later on if the Bill comes from the Seanad without such a provision in it.

I think it is well to find out whether the same thing might not occur here as occurred in the case of female members of a publican's family. What is to be the position of a lad of fifteen-and-a-half years, the son of a publican assisting his father, if some provision of this kind is not brought in? I think it is absolutely necessary in this case, as in the case of a daughter or a step-daughter, to bring in the publican's son, and in that case I think the Minister ought to say he will have this matter put right in the Seanad. It will cause great hardship to many people who have sons of that age if they cannot be of assistance to them.

The only guarantee the Minister can give is to propose it, in the Seanad. He cannot bind the Seanad to accept it.

I do not ask the Minister to bind the Seanad, but I think if he uses his persuasive powers with the Seanad it will be accepted.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

In page 9, Section 17, lines 4 and 5, to delete all words from the word "from" to the word and figures "of 1924" inclusive.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

In page 9, Section 18 (1), to delete all from the word "supplied" in lines 17 and 18 to the end of line 19, and substitute the words "for consumption on the club premises, to or be consumed on the club premises by any person (other than members of the club lodging in the club premises)."

Under this section as it stands it would be possible for members of clubs to consume drink after closing hours if supplied to them before closing hours, and it is to close up that loophole that the amendment is introduced.

Does it not also close up another loophole? This amendment is rather loosely drafted, but probably it is drafted as well as I could draft it myself. But I think it will also prevent a member of the club living on the premises ordering a drink for a friend. Under the provision originally drafted it was possible for a member of the club who is living there to order a drink for a friend as well as for himself, and I think this is shutting the door. It is rather drastic, but on the other hand it may be necessary because there may be clubs where you have a person such as the secretary living on the premises. He might order drink for anybody. But is that contemplated or not?

It is contemplated. There is a definite intention to stop the loophole to which Deputy Cooper refers in addition to that to which Deputy Duggan referred. The intention is that no one except abona fide lodger on the premises, a person staying in the club, should be able to buy and consume liquor on the premises after the legal closing hour. We are not entirely out of touch with practical facts and we are aware that there is such a thing as a club locker in which drink is stored which has been bought before the closing time and is simply put into the locker and is available for consumption after closing time. The intention is that the club shall be placed in this respect on all-fours with the licensed establishment and that drink shall not be consumed there into late hours in the night. The only mitigation of that, is in the case of a man for whom the club is for the time being, at any rate, a home—a man who is staying there and who could reasonably claim he is entitled to as much freedom there and as much liberty as he would probably have in his home. He can get drink but he should not be free to take advantage of his temporary residence there to enable some other person who is not residing there to have a drink after the legitimate hours.

I would like to know if I would be in order in moving an amendment under this section to delete "10" and substitute "10.30."

Is that an amendment to the amendment or a new amendment altogether?

An amendment to the section.

To what section?

Section 18.

We are not in Committee.

The Deputy cannot amend Section 18 at this stage, independent altogether of this amendment. We could take something arising out of this amendment but not a new amendment altogether.

What I wanted to do was to get a little extra time for the clubs.

That should be done in Committee.

I had an amendment down, but unfortunately I was not present to move it, and I suppose it would not be accepted.

Let us dispose of this amendment first.

Amendment put and agreed to.

On the Committee Stage the Minister for Justice promised that club opening on Sundays would be restricted to the same hours as publichouses. That is not being done on the Report Stage. The same would apply also to Saturday evening, but that is not being done on the Report Stage; and I would like to know from the Minister why this understanding was not met.

I think the Deputy is overstating the case. I undertook on Committee to consider whether it would be practicable to make a provision of that kind for clubs on Sundays, and in so far as I gave the undertaking I have fulfilled it, because I have given careful consideration to the matter, and I am not satisfied that it is necessary or practicable to change the existing position with regard to clubs on Sundays, namely, that drink may be consumed between the hours of 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. As the Sunday position and the bona fide position stand at the moment, an attempt to alter the hours for the sale and consumption of drink in clubs would simply lead you into a morass and lead you into a state of affairs in which it would be impossible to enforce or administer the law which you would pass. You would simply be courting a position in which a man could not get in his club what he could get by leaving the club and walking round the corner to a publichouse.

Take the case of a golf club in Rathfarnham. If you say that people there are restricted during certain hours, say from 2 till 5, then outside of those hours you simply drive the members of the club down to the licensed houses in the village where they may get all you seek to deny them in the club. As long as the existing Sunday provisions, and as long as the existing bona fide provisions last, I am satisfied you would gain nothing by attempting to interfere with the existing club hours on Sunday. It does seem, perhaps, a bit liberal that members of clubs under this Bill, when it passes, will be free to obtain drink between the hours of 1 and 10 p.m., but having looked into the thing very carefully, I do not agree that anything would be gained by attempting to impose restrictions in view of the present bona fide facilities, and I think you might very easily run the danger of simply increasing such abuses as do exist in connection with the bona fide traffic.

I move:

In page 9 to add at the end of section 13 (1) the following words: "Provided that it shall be lawful for a Justice of the District Court on application from a club, whose members are compelled by their professions or avocations to work at hours other than the usual hours of work, to vary by Order the hours during which excisable liquor may be supplied to members. Any application for removal of such Order shall be made annually at the time of the renewal of the certificate of registration of the club."

In this amendment there are two misprints. The first misprint, which is an obvious one, is "13" instead of "18," in the first line. The other, which is less obvious, is in the last line but two. "Any application for removal" should be "any application for removal." I am afraid that my bad handwriting is responsible. But in effect it makes little difference, because if the club is to apply for this Order to be renewed annually, it is open to the police or to any persons who have objections to state their objections against it. It is an attempt, not, I am afraid, a very successful attempt, to draft an amendment to meet the case which the Minister promised to consider. I would like to say now that a promise of consideration does not mean a promise of favourable consideration. I am not suggesting that if the Minister turns this amendment down he will have committed a breach of faith. But he promised to consider the case of people who work at night, the case like that, for instance, of the Press Club in London. I believe there are in the Saorstát two clubs now used by railway workers, which are allowed to keep open at night, and this is an attempt to say that when such a club—I do not like using the word bona fides in connection with liquor—has proved its good faith, we will translate it, a District Justice may, by order, fix a time and have the hours varied during which liquor may be sold.

There are one or two things in this amendment which I do not like myself. and I will anticipate the Minister's criticism. The first is "whose members are compelled by their professions or avocations to work at hours other than the usual hours," is perhaps rather loose. I know that it is, because I came up against the difficulty that in many of these night jobs there is a day shift and a night shift, and the workers are transferred from one to the other. The consequence is that if you say "to all whose members" or, "whose members are exclusively employed at night work," the result would be that people would have to resign from a club when they were put on the day shift and join the club when they were put on the night shift, andvice versa, and that hardly seems a tenable proposition. If the Minister considers that the amendment would not be too loose, I hope he will accept it. If he does not I suppose the amendment will meet the fate of very many other amendments.

I think the Minister should give a little extra time to the clubs on week nights, particularly Saturday nights. Clubs do not require to be opened at 9 o'clock in the morning. A little extra time ought to be given on week nights so that people who were in business all day could get refreshments when they came to a club at night. I would suggest an hour or an hour and a half longer than the licensed premises.

The reason that I asked the question with regard to Section 18 was because I believe that the Bill will fail in the object which the Minister intends if the clubs are allowed to keep open on Sundays to 10 o'clock. Dublin is in a different position from the provincial towns, or from most of them. I am not talking about Dublin, its golf clubs, and its club facilities, but about the provincial towns where there are no golf clubs and where the clubs are purely drinking institutions on Sundays, without any supervision up to now. It is there the abuses I complain of exist, and if these clubs are allowed to open until 10 o'clock on Sunday nights in provincial towns, where there is no question at all ofbona fide travelling—

Why is there no question of it?

Because there is no such thing as golf clubs or any other clubs; they are merely drinking clubs, pure and simple.

This is Amendment 15, and not Section 18.

I am not accepting the Deputy's amendment. I have considered it, and my reason for not accepting it is that I am not satisfied that there is any present need for a provision of this kind. I think the amendment, even as it stands, would be construed more strictly than the section. I think that "whose members are compelled by their professions" would be construed as applying to all the members. If you take the amendment in that way, it suggest a club entirely composed of members who are obliged to work at night, or whose work lies outside the hours in which intoxicating liquor may normally be obtained. I do not think that there is any such club in the Saorstát. There are probably clubs of which a few individual members may have to work at night, or may have to work occasionally at night, but even the number of those, I should say, would be very small, and generally the dimensions of the hardship, in so far as it exists at all, are not such as to call for special legislative provision. That is the result of the consideration that I have caused to be given to the matter, and that is the attitude I take on the Deputy's amendment.

If life here in the city were to alter very appreciably and a situation developed in which quite an important section of the city's population would be compelled to work at night in various avocations, there probably would come, and I think there certainly should come, an alteration of the law to meet that state of affairs. But I am entirely satisfied that the most circumspect amendment that you could insert to meet the little hardship that exists on an almost infinitesimal scale in Dublin would simply be seized on and exploited, and would in the course of time inevitably become simply an evasion of the spirit of your legislation, would simply become an opportunity for a great number of people to sit up into the small hours of the morning consuming intoxicating drink. In its origin and in its intention the amendment would, no doubt, be an attempt to meet the reasonable claims of a very limited number of night workers. In practice it would become simply a kind of illicit night club where people straying around at night could drop in for a drink, and that is an objectionable kind of establishment. I would ask the Deputy to believe that as much consideration was given to the matter as could fairly be expected, and that what I am saying now is not merely just the traditional negative to his amendment, or to amendments of this kind generally, but the result of a good deal of examination.

I accept that, and I will withdraw the amendment, if leave is given.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move:

In page 9, Section 19 (1), lines 33, 34, 35, 36, to delete from the beginning of the sub-section down to the word and figures "of 1924" inclusive.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:

In page 9, Section 21 (1), lines 54 and 55, to delete all words from the beginning down to the word and figures "of 1924)" inclusive.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:

In page 11, Section 24 (4), (5), (6) and (7), lines 7, 13, 22 and 29, to delete the words "Home Affairs" and substitute the word "Justice."

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move.

In page 12, Section 30 (1), line 60, before the word "Act" to insert the word "(General)".

That is to distinguish the present Bill, when it becomes an Act, from the existing Intoxicating Liquor Acts.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move the following amendment:—

In page 13, at the end of the Schedule, to add the following figures and words:—

6 Edw. VII. c. 39.

The Intoxicating Liquor (Ireland) Act, 1905.

Section 2 from the beginning of the section to the word ‘building.’

No. 28 of 1924.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1924.

The whole Act.

It may be necessary to explain the meaning of the repeal of portion of Section 2 of the 1906 Act. That section made provision for the closing of public houses in towns of a population of less than 5,000 at 9 p.m. on Saturdays. The present Bill makes provision for uniform closing on Saturday evening at 9.30 o'clock, irrespective of population. It was thought better to make that clear.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move: "That the Bill be received for final consideration." In doing so, I would like to make a few remarks with regard to Section 7 as it stands. I seem to have occasioned considerable consternation by accepting in Committee an amendment moved by Deputy Johnson providing for the use of standard bottles to be prescribed by the Minister. In discussing and stating my intentions to accept it I said very casually and tentatively something to the effect that, possibly, the standard bottle would be a bottle of 14 to the gallon. Since then I have had considerable correspondence, the general tendency of which is to point out that a standard of that kind would be extremely inconvenient and undesirable, and that, in fact, 90 per cent. of the bottles in use are 16 to the gallon. That of course is an important consideration that would be adverted to in the fixing of a standard, but I may, perhaps, have been somewhat hasty in accepting an amendment in the exact words in which it was put up because the words are mandatory rather than enabling, and are very comprehensive in their scope. Sub-section (1) of Section 7 reads: "It shall not be lawful for any licensed holder to supply any intoxicating liquor in bottles unless such bottles are of standard sizes to be prescribed by the Minister." That sub-section, as it stands, puts the onus on the Minister of prescribing a standard sized bottle for every class of intoxicating liquor, including wines and liqueurs. That would be somewhat of an undertaking, and it is an undertaking at which I would be inclined to shy a little. I would prefer therefore something in this form:—

"The Minister for Justice may from time to time by order prescribe a standard size of bottles in which intoxicating liquor may be sold. Every licence holder who shall sell or expose for sale any intoxicating liquor in bottles of a size other than that prescribed by the Minister in the manner aforesaid shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence to a penalty not exceeding £5 and in the case of any subsequent offences to a penalty not exceeding £10."

That would give all the power that is needed and the operation of that power would take place, from time to time, according as there may seem to be a case for it. In the exercise of that power, it seems to me that there would be a case for a rather full consultation with the Department of Industry and Commerce as to the exact reactions of the fixing of a particular standard.

I think the wording which I suggest is preferable to the sub-section as it stands, and it would be my intention to secure in the Seanad an alteration in that direction, making the first sub-section permissive and enabling, rather than mandatory, as it is at present. I think that this announcement will probably calm a good deal of the apprehension which is being aroused by the suggestion that we were going to have in the immediate future a standard size of bottle, prescribed of 14 to the gallon. The position under the Bill, or certainly under the Bill with the proposed amendment, will simply be that, from time to time, the Minister for Justice may prescribe a standard. The Bill contains no suggestion as to what the standard will be, and before the power is exercised very full consideration will be given to all the reactions of the fixing of any particular standard.

According to the statement of the Minister for Justice he reserves to himself a lot of power to review these things at any time. I think that a better and more practical way would be to drop the whole section, for the reason that it would involve the destruction of hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of bottles throughout the Saorstát, and it would not be worth that. Take the case from a working-man's point of view. He does not go in very much for drinking bottles of stout, but, if he did, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the publican putting another halfpenny on the bottle. There is no protection at all for stout, even though it is looked upon as a food. When Deputy Johnson handed in his amendment I raised an objection on a point of order, and the Minister for Justice pointed out that in his opinion it was really a matter concerning weights and measures. I agreed with him, and I still agree with him, and I ask him to stick to that, and it will remove all the trouble. What good is this proposal going to do to a person getting a dozen of stout when he will have to pay 4d. or 5d. more for it? Is it going to do any good to a man who gets a bottle of stout with another halfpenny added on to the price? There is no protection from the Government, nor is there any reduction in duty. We would all agree with the Minister for Justice if he said: "I am getting £5 a barrel out of this much-abused stout, and it is nearly time that I reduced it to £3." The consumer would then get his pint of porter cheaper. That would be a step in the right direction, although the publican will only have the same profit. You may be sure that the Minister for Justice does not leave it optional to the publican. He says to him: "You have to sell stout 14 bottles to the gallon, but I do not care how much you charge a workingman for it." There are three or four hundred thousand pounds' worth of bottles going to be smashed if this proposal goes through, and I think it would not be worth the whole of it. I appeal to the Minister to withdraw the section, and leave it to the famous Commission which is coming off. I have been written to by several bottlers throughout the country —I will not hide that fact—and they will have to destroy, as I have said, hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of bottles if this section is allowed to stand. I ask the Minister to withdraw this section, because otherwise he will be doing no good to the consumer or anybody else, but will be doing a considerable amount of harm to the bottlers.

There is another serious side to this bottling question. I would be glad if the Minister would make it clear to traders in the country that if they give orders now for their Christmas bottling that the bottles will not be confiscated or destroyed in the near future. The standard bottle is 16 to the gallon, and it is an imperial half-pint measure. When the Minister for Finance in his last budget put a tax on bottles, the bottling companies put on extra pressure and started to accumulate stocks of bottles of 16 to the gallon. Within the past week, since the announcement about the standardisation of bottles, travellers have been refused orders, with the result that the bottling works will either be stopped or put on short time. If it is not made clear that any orders given now for bottles of 16 to the gallon will not be interfered with there is a great danger that the bottles now manufactured will be left on the hands of the bottle factories. I ask the Minister to make it clear that no serious loss will result from orders given now, and that there will be no necessity for bottle works ceasing while waiting for any decision which may be arrived at in the near future.

As the Deputy responsible for the amendment inserted on the Committee Stage, I would like to say that the trouble publicans in the country seem to have got into has arisen out of a very casual, and quite obviously unconsidered statement by the Minister, which he threw out, that possibly 14 to the gallon might be the standard. That was certainly not taken by any Deputy as a considered figure, and I, for one, am quite satisfied that on consideration the ordinary bottles in use, 16 to the gallon, would be the standardised bottle, in so far as porter or stout is considered. The reason for the standardisation lies in the fact that a number of people here and there, not by any means a great number, have adopted 14 to the gallon. I think it was stated, whether justifiably or not, by representatives of the licensed trade at a Commission that they were filling 12 to the gallon. Whether that is true or not I cannot say, but it was stated on behalf of the licensed trade in Dublin. It is necessary, however, to have a standardised bottle for stout. Obviously the standard bottle will be the one which fits in with the general system of weights and measures.

If one wanted to argue from the point of view of the bottle makers, it is desirable that they should have a standardised bottle for the purposes of their own industry, so that they will not have to provide new fitments for their machines and to break what is called the straight run in the making. I do not think that there is any likelihood of any standard other than 16 being adopted, but it must be borne in mind that the Minister said, and it was generally agreed, and quoted in the newspapers, that there would be no change for twelve months. That period would be required to enable the present stocks to be exhausted, so that Deputy Byrne's query regarding the present Christmas trade should be set aside at once.

On a point of order, I must remind Deputy Johnson that occasionally bottles last for five years.

Yes, occasionally. The matter, possibly so far as stout is concerned, would be met by a prohibition on the import of other sized bottles or their manufucture. I think the standardised bottle is made not only for stout, but for other kinds of liquor, and it fits in with the general regulations regarding weights and measures. The temptation to adopt as a form competition variation in the sizes of measures, as of weights, is a temptation which should be removed. It is a temptation on the one hand to reduce the size of the bottle, and thereby deceive the consumer; on the other hand to increase the size of the bottle by way of offering a larger dose, if I may so call it, to the prospective consumer. I am glad the Minister has made it clear that there is no intention to prescribe the bottle to be outside the size in common use without due notice. Nobody, I think, ever suggested that any such action would be taken by the Minister.

As regards the suggested variation in the form of the section, it probably is a better form, and I would be quite prepared to advise any person I can influence in the Seanad to agree to it, because I believe it will secure that at some date in the future bottles shall be standardised. I would call attention to this possible defect in the phraseology of the Minister's proposed draft—the use of the words "from time to time" may suggest the possibility of frequent changes, and that is very undesirable. Until weights and measures generally are altered I do not think there should be an alteration of the standard size of the bottles, and once the standard is fixed I think it should be understood as fixed for quite a long time, until there is a recasting of the whole system of weights and measures.

I think that we should have some definite standard in regard to the capacity of bottles. It is no use for us to talk about bottles in dozens. We have to take them in hundreds and thousands, and even hundreds of thousands. The question as to the standard of size is of vital importance. We have heard it suggested, I think, by Deputy Johnson, that there should be fourteen bottles to the gallon, and if that is so we should have a period of years in which to make the change.

I did not suggest fourteen bottles to the gallon.

Well, it was under discussion and I think Deputy Johnson spoke on the matter. It was suggested that the period of the change should be left at one year. I say that one year would be too short. Those in the trade in a wholesale way have much capital invested, and if there were a change in the standard size of bottles I do believe that five years would scarcely clear out the present standard. I have to deal with very large numbers of bottles and I am giving you, from my own personal experience, what I think is reasonable. What I am suggesting comes largely because of the experience I have had in the business. Variation of size is another question. At the present time the general size of bottles in the country, and bottles in the city, is undoubtedly such that sixteen would go to the gallon. An alteration from that standard would take over five years to carry out, if a large loss is not to be incurred by those in the trade. If we fix the standard definitely at sixteen, and if we hold to that standard, then there will not be too small a bottle, and possibly we might be able to tempt Deputy Johnson, regardless of the proposal to have fourteen to the gallon.

Deputy Johnson did not mention at any time any such thing as fourteen to the gallon.

I have not said that you did. Possibly we might not keep you all the time so temperate as you are. As I have said, the general standard over the country is sixteen to the gallon; that is the standard that a great number of the bottlers have worked on. If that standard is altered, it would mean a very serious loss in capital. It would mean a lot of money being lost if those in the trade have not time gradually to buy in the standard bottles of fourteen to the gallon, and get rid of their standard bottles of sixteen to the gallon. If the Dáil does not make some provision in that respect, the bottlers will suffer. I am sure the Dáil do not want any loss in the bottling trade; I hope not. It is a very serious matter for bottlers. If we do not get at least five years it would be a very serious matter, and there would be considerable capital lost. I know it is a very nice thing to have sixteen bottles to the gallon; but perhaps competition would arise, and one publican might give fourteen bottles to the gallon in order to capture the trade of a rival. Possibly Deputy Johnson, or any other gentleman, would take the standard of fourteen to the gallon. Naturally that would be so. It should be stated definitely whether fourteen or sixteen to the gallon is to be selected as the standard. I know that the fourteen to the gallon would be a better bargain, but in the country at the moment the standard is sixteen.

How long?

Do you mean is the drink long? The standard of the moment is sixteen bottles to the gallon.

I would like to ask Deputy Beamish how many years has the standard been sixteen bottles to the gallon, and how long has it been acknowledged by the publican as such?

It has been the standard very many more years than would allow us now to correct it to fourteen to the gallon. It is a distinct standard. No doubt the Deputy is another pleader of the fourteen to the gallon standard. I would be satisfied to give it to him with the greatest of pleasure, provided he will allow me time. A very vast capital sum of money is sunk in the present standard, and it would take considerably more than one, two, or three years to substitute the fourteen to the gallon standard for it.

Who wants to substitute fourteen?

The Deputy is again harping on the fourteen to the gallon standard. I am sure that the trade as a whole is quite content to accept sixteen to the gallon.

Who wants fourteen?

We have now with us a temperate Minister, and he is a reasonable Minister. We might later on get a Minister who would be very fond, like Deputy Johnson, of fourteen bottles to the gallon. We do not want to encourage that Minister to break up the careful arrangements that our worthy Minister now is making with a view to keeping the country reasonably sober. On the other hand, there should not be introduced a standard which would mean an unfair loss to the trade and which would be to nobody's benefit. If we could persuade the Minister for Justice to accept a standard of sixteen to the gallon, the country on the whole would be agreeable to it as a reasonable and fair verdict.

I was very much amused at the discussion that has taken place. I happened to serve on the Commission to which Deputy Johnson refers. I would like to deal for a few moments with the evidence put before us there. The evidence given was that before the war the standard was twelve bottles to the gallon. Counsel appeared for the licensed trade and presented certain figures of a very unsatisfactory character to show what the profits made before the war and at the present time were. I asked Counsel what number of bottles to the gallon his figures were based upon, and he said fourteen. I pressed very hard, pointing out that the standard was sixteen and not fourteen, and the licensed vintners present prompted him to insist that the standard was fourteen. I pointed out that as far as the figures were concerned, if sixteen bottles, as I maintained, were the standard, then out of the 32 gallon barrel they were getting 64 bottles more than they were claiming, and they had an extra profit of £2 2s. 8d. on the barrel. What became of the twelve to the gallon bottles and the fourteen to the gallon bottles? The point I put to Counsel at the Commission, when he was very uncertain as to the size of the bottle, was: "Did he not think it right that the public should know the quantity of stout they were paying for?"

One of the very few recommendations made by the Commission was for the standardisation of bottles; that was made on the evidence before us. I do not care a jack-straw whether the standard is sixteen or fourteen to the gallon, so long as we know what it is. I do maintain that the trade gave evidence that the standard was fourteen to the gallon, and insisted upon it. Deputy Beamish now states that it took years to establish the sixteen to the gallon standard. I would be sorry if the Minister would weaken with regard to the standardisation of those particular bottles. I say quite clearly—and we saw at the Commission—that it would be impossible to have a standard as far as wine and other bottles of that sort are concerned. I hope the Minister will keep in mind what I have stated now in regard to the evidence at the Commission. What was stated there in evidence was what the trade considered they were taking credit for in the returns they made with regard to profits.

Mr. EGAN

I am inclined to agree with Deputy Daly that this clause should be deleted altogether, because I do not think that in practice it will be found possible to carry it out. The amendment proposed by Deputy Johnson was rather sprung on the Dáil on the Committee Stage. Very few of us knew anything about it.

The usual notice was given.

Mr. EGAN

The Minister has now said that he is prepared to alter the clause in order that the power will be permissive rather than mandatory. Well, that certainly is an improvement in the right direction. At the same time, the Minister has not indicated what standard size of bottle it is proposed to put in force. There has been a good deal of discussion as to whether the standard size should be fourteen to the gallon or sixteen to the gallon. Personally I agree with Deputy Johnson, that if it is a question of adopting a standard, it should be Imperial measure, and it should be sixteen to the gallon. In other words, the bottle should contain a half-pint. But under the clause, as amended now by the Minister, the Minister may establish either a standard of twelve, fourteen, or sixteen, or anything else he likes, to the gallon. As a businessman, I certainly object to too much Government interference with business. We all know what Government interference means. If the Minister definitely states that he is going to put in force sixteen bottles to the gallon, then we know precisely where we are. But if he takes power to prescribe whatever size of bottle he wishes, then we do not know where we are.

There are a great many practical difficulties in connection with the operation of this section, which may not appeal to the general body of the Dáil. Take the case of a wholesale bottler. He may have forty vans going all over the country, delivering stout and beer. His men may have to take back any empty bottles they get in return. These bottles are brought into his bottling store, filled, and distributed again by him. Now it seems rather severe that if one single bottle were taken by the Gárda Síochána, and found not to conform to the regulations of the Minister, that that would be sufficient cause for a prosecution and a fine of £5, and in the case of a second conviction, £10. As Deputy Beamish pointed out, there is a very considerable amount of capital involved in the bottling trade. I would hesitate to put a figure upon it. But it would run into a considerable sum of money—considerably over a million pounds, speaking offhand. Undoubtedly, if the Minister is going to prescribe any standard size, he will certainly, in reason and justice, have to give a considerable time for the operation of the clause. Furthermore, it is going to give him a great deal of bother in other respects. It will be necessary for him to set up machinery to examine every single consignment of bottles coming into the country, in order to see that they conform to the standard. Those are some of the considerations I would like that the Minister would give his attention to, before he decides that the clause is to stand as it is. On the other hand, if he definitely puts before the Dáil that he proposes to establish the standard at 16 bottles to the gallon, I do not think that the trade as a whole would have any tolerable objection to that, provided that they would be compensated for the large quantities of bottles that would have to be destroyed, and that sufficient time would be given to them in order to make their preparations.

Before the Minister concludes. I would like to ask a question as to whether this proposal will include whiskey and wine bottles, and Baby Power bottles? If it does, it will be, of course, a great inconvenience to a lot of people. Now, in a country town it may happen that one might send for a drink and get it in a bottle that would not be the suitable size for the drink required. For instance, if you sent for a naggin of whiskey, they might not have a naggin bottle. Would this proposal mean that all these bottles would have to be destroyed, in favour of a special standard? If a publican is caught putting a glass of whiskey into a mineral water bottle by the Gárda Síochána, will he be liable to a prosecution?

There is one thing I would like to impress upon the Minister. It is that he may be doing a great hardship to a considerable proportion of men all over the country, and to traders generally here in the City of Dublin, where you have a bottle-making concern, if he does not specify here and now, the size of the bottle that he is going to prescribe. It will be a source of inconvenience to traders and the public generally, if they are kept in a state of uncertainty as to what the size of the bottles will be. I think it would be better for the Minister if he dropped this section, or to state now that he will prescribe sixteen to the gallon, thus fixing the number at what everybody will be satisfied with. If that is done, it will ease the situation, and the trade and the public will be satisfied. I think the Minister should amend the draft he has, and state that the standard bottle for beer and stout shall be sixteen to the gallon.

When this matter was on in Committee, we took exception to the method. We believe that the public are hood-winked with regard to the value they are getting for their money. It has now been proved by the statement of Deputy Sir James Craig, which was not contradicted, that at the recent Commission on Prices an attempt was even made to hoodwink the Commission, and that it was, in fact, hood-winked. I do not know whether it was a Commission on oath or not. That Commission was hoodwinked, just as the public had been hoodwinked by the trade all those years. This standard bottle of sixteen to the gallon is sold at eight pence. It contains an Imperial half-pint, and that works out at 1/4 per pint.

I think that in respect of these bottles of stout, or whatever is sold, they should have displayed in their windows that the bottles were sixteen to the gallon or whatever amount they will now contain, and so let the public know what they are getting. Deputy Beamish referred to the grandmotherly efforts of the trade in introducing sixteen bottles to the gallon. It was an effort, I think he said, to keep the country sober. It is a very laudable ambition and a very laudable effort on the part of the Deputy and the people in the trade. Incidentally, when you come to look at the thing from the other end you will find that this effort to keep the people sober incidentally guaranteed bigger profits, at the rate of something about £2 2s. 8d. per barrel, as Deputy Craig pointed out. So this effort to keep the country sober meant very, very swollen profits for the people in the trade, including Deputy Beamish.

On a point of explanation, the Deputy knows that evidence was given with regard to the city of Dublin, but not the country generally. Prices are quite different in the city of Dublin to the rest of the country.

I am aware that it is 8d. in Dublin and 7d. outside it.

Five pence or 4½d. in Manchester and Liverpool, I believe.

The Deputy is drawing on his imagination, as he usually does in matters of this kind.

It is not imagination.

Mr. EGAN

Is the Deputy aware that they pay £1 a barrel less in duty in England?

I am not. I do not believe in this grandmotherly effort to keep the country sober. It does not cut any ice. It is well that the country should know the two sides. I think, in justice to the consumer of either stout or ale, or of any intoxicant, they should display at the counter the measure the customer is getting for the price. Price ought to regulate the size of the bottle. Whatever the bottle contains, the price ought to be made plain.

If the section is carried, I would like to say that a big loss will be incurred through the country, as all the existing bottles will have to be smashed.

The price of the stuff will regulate that.

The price of the stuff is all right. What you described as 8d. is 6d. The Deputy does not know the price as he does not drink. In the country the price of the stuff is 6d. I think the grievous sin the Minister is committing against the trade is, as Deputy Egan pointed out, that bottles to the value of £1,000,000 will have to be destroyed. Deputy Sir James Craig pointed out that he attended a meeting—I believe it was of a food committee to provide food for the poor, and it included stout as food, and that food is taxed to the hilt. I would like to impress on the Minister for Justice that he should do justice to the people in the trade and not confiscate £1,000,000 worth of bottles by one stroke of the pen. I would ask him to delay the proposal until other times would do justice to his character.

There seems to be substantial agreement as to the desirability of a standard. Without going into the question of what the standard should be, what is proposed is that power be given to fix a standard size of bottle. I have said that if such power is given I would consider it the duty of my Department, and my own duty, to consider very carefully all the reactions of the fixing of any particular standard in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Quite casually, in a discussion on this matter in Committee, and quite tentatively, I made some mention of a standard of fourteen to the gallon. I have already explained that I was not committing myself to any particular figure. Since then I have received substantial evidence that a very different standard would be more suitable. But I cannot here, when the question is whether or not power should be given at all, commit myself to the fixing of a particular standard. That was what Deputy Egan seemed to expect. First of all, no power has been given. It is simply a proposal that power be given. Deputy Egan invites me to say straight off what the standard would be that would be fixed in the event of the power being given. It would show a poor appreciation of the responsibility of fixing the standard if it were to be fixed simply hastily in the course of discussion here. Up to date, and from the facts before me, I incline to the view that the most suitable standard to fix is sixteen to the gallon half-pint standard bottles, at present in use, probably to the extent of 90 per cent. throughout the country.

And the price also.

I do not want to be drawn into the question of price, except that, probably, when a standard bottle is in use throughout the country it will be easier to arrive at a uniform price throughout the country. People calling for a reduction of price will not be met with the plea: "Oh, how can we sell fourteen to the gallon; we sell twelve. The man down the road sells sixteen. Get him to reduce it." If you have uniform standard bottles, the question of price can be looked at in the uniform way, and people will know exactly what the profits are and what the profits are not; you are discussing something that can be known, that can be ascertained and got to grips with. At the moment, I seem to be simply forcing an open door. There is agreement that there ought to be a standard. Someone should have the responsibility of fixing that standard. It is proposed in the Bill to give it to the Minister for Justice, and if it is thought necessary, it can be inserted in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Would the Minister also give an assurance—I think it would satisfy a great many inquiring minds—that before fixing the standard he will consult the persons interested, meaning the bottling trade and the consumers?

Surely; or, to put it this way, I would consult the Department more directly responsible for matters connected with industry in the country and take their advice as to what the standard ought to be.

On the expectation that that Department would consult the trade concerned?

Would consult the trade concerned. There would and should be adequate notice. I cannot say at the moment what the adequate notice would be. There again, it is a matter for consideration and inquiry. But I fully agree that you cannot simply slap an order of this kind into effect some day next week or next month. I think there is general agreement as to the desirability of the thing. There was, not unnaturally, apprehension, as to its immediate reactions. I hope I have allayed any fears or any doubts that arose on that.

Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Fifth Stage fixed for Tuesday, November 11.