I move for permission to have printed and circulated a Bill entitled "an Act to amend and in part consolidate the law relating to the sale of intoxicating liquor, to enable the number of licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor to be reduced by the abolition from time to time of certain such licences, and to amend the law relating to the registration of clubs."
PRIVATE BUSINESS. - INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1927—FIRST STAGE.
Is the Deputy opposing the motion to introduce the Bill?
Then I will have to allow a statement from the Minister if he desires to make a statement.
I oppose the introduction of the Bill on the ground that the Government got no mandate from the electorate to introduce such a drastic measure, and I will ask the Minister to give us a free vote of the House, especially in regard to two clauses— those dealing with compulsory endorsement and with compensation.
Where is the Bill?
We got no mandate from the electorate. I think the Bill should be hung up until we do get a mandate from them and before we impose such confiscatory measures as those on any section of the population.
I regret very much to see so many Deputies in such good humour to-day on this question. The Deputy who moved the rejection of this Bill has no doubt read the report of the Liquor Commission upon which this Bill is to be drafted. Having read that report, I think the Deputy is perfectly right when he asks because of the two sections that are about to be placed in the Bill to have this proposed drastic legislation rejected, or to have these two sections deleted from the Bill. It is well known that for the past four years, since the first Bill was introduced by the Government, the number of cases of drunkenness has not decreased. If this measure becomes law, you are going to do injustice to a large number of citizens. You are compelling a large number of them, if you adopt the report of the Liquor Commission, to forfeit their means of livelihood. Compulsory endorsement means confiscation of a man's property. If the Bill is drafted on the lines of the report of the Liquor Commission, I will oppose it. I am satisfied that there are a lot of Deputies here who received their education through the licensed trade.
This is a debate on a motion for leave to introduce a Bill which has not been seen. The Standing Order says: "The Deputy giving notice shall move for leave to introduce the Bill. If such motion be opposed, the Ceann Comhairle, after permitting an explanatory statement from the Deputy who moves, and a statement from a Deputy who opposes the motion, may, if he thinks fit, put the question thereon." Having heard Deputy Lyons, I think I should put the question.
Would you permit me to remove a misapprehension?
Any misapprehension which Deputy Lyons suffers under will not be removed by a speech. If the Minister for Justice desires to make a statement, I will hear him; if not, I will put the question now.
On a point of order, in view of the Standing Order you have read, is it not necessary for the Minister to make some statement?
There is nothing in the Order which makes it mandatory on the Minister to make a statement. The Order says: "After permitting an explanatory statement...." If the Minister desires to make a statement he may; if not, he may reserve it for another stage.
It is permissive, not mandatory?
I think so. In my experience up to the present there is only one type of a Bill upon which, in certain circumstances, a debate should be allowed on the First Stage. Deputy Redmond reminds me of it now. I refer to a Bill introduced by a private member and opposed by the Government on its First Stage. In that case, the Chair would have to allow the promoters of the Bill a good deal of latitude, because of the risk that they might have no further opportunity for debate. In this case there is no such position.