On the Order Paper there are two amendments standing in my name—No. 1 and No. 3. These two amendments are only parts, I consider, of the same amendment, and with your permission, to save time, I shall discuss the two together.
INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924. COMMITTEE.
I think that would be more convenient, Senator.
The two amendments which I beg to move are:—
Section 1, sub-section (1).—To delete the word "Saturday" in line 21.
Section 1, sub-section (1).—To delete all after the word "evening" in line 23 to the end of the sub-section.
I shall read the section as it stands; it says:—
"From and after the passing of this Act it shall not be lawful for any person to sell or expose for sale any intoxicating liquor or to open or keep open any premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor on any day not being a Saturday, Sunday, Good Friday, or Christmas Day, before the hour of 9 o'clock in the morning or after the hour of 10 o'clock in the evening, or on any day being Saturday, before the hour of 9 o'clock in the morning or after the hour of half-past 9 in the evening."
Now, the effect of my amendment will be this: the section would read:—
"From and after the passing of this Act it shall not be lawful for any person to sell or expose for sale any intoxicating liquor, or to keep open any premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor on any day not being a Sunday"—leaving out Saturday—"Good Friday or Christmas Day before the hour of nine o'clock in the morning or after the hour of ten o'clock in the evening."
The sub-section would end there; there would be a full stop there.
What do you propose to do with the remainder of the sub-section?
Your amendment says nothing about that, it makes no provision for Saturday.
That is dealt with in the second amendment.
Oh, I see, that is the second amendment. I quite follow. Do you make any provision for Saturday at all?
I think that will come out in the course of a few remarks I have to make.
The only reason I intervene at all is that it seems to me that if your amendment is carried, Saturday is left unprovided for.
That is not so, Sir.
Very well, you will explain that.
This amendment sets out that there shall be a uniform hour for opening in the morning, namely, 9 o'clock, and a uniform hour of closing, namely, 10 o'clock. That will, of course, apply to the six days of the week and will include Saturday, that you, Sir, wish to have included. The hours in this Bill, as it now stands, are entirely different from what the ordinary person expected them to be, and from what I, also, think the requirements of the trade demand. In the ordinary course of events in country towns of the Free State, 75 per cent. of the public-houses close at 7 o'clock. For five days of the week the large majority of these houses close at 7 o'clock and about 25 per cent., or perhaps a smaller proportion, take advantage of the extreme limits that the law allows them. In one town I go to, and that I know personally, myself, New Ross, for the last thirty years the public-houses have closed at 7 o'clock, wherever assistants are employed, and the assistants go away—there is no back door or entrance of that kind which would permit the sale of liquor after 7 o'clock. These places close at 7 o'clock on five nights of the week, but on Saturday nights they open for the sale of groceries and other things to the limit that the law allows them.
These are people, I think, who should know their own business. They are not theorists. They are people who are in the practical life of the country. They know what is required by the people, and these are the arrangements that they make. Further, I would like to point out to the Minister that this practical experience is a much superior thing to any theory that can be advanced as to closing public-houses earlier on Saturday night. In the rural districts labourers generally are not paid until late on Saturday evening. The labourer goes home with his wages, and he is not in a great hurry. Tomorrow is a day of rest, and he does not mind. He goes, perhaps, accompanied by his wife, to a shop in town, and they buy their groceries. It may happen that he takes a pint. It is a faint heart that never rejoices. If he finds that for five days of the week the public-houses are closed at 10 o'clock, and that on this night, the one night he has to himself, the one night that he can call his own, that there is a law which curtails his pleasure by half-an-hour, he will regard it as an intoxicating curfew. I think the Government should not legislate in that way.
I do not think they pay sufficient attention to the fact that in their frenzy for legislation they are coming into conflict with many business interests in the country. They ought to remember that they are the barrier that should stand between order and disorder in this country, and it is up to them, without considering any personal matters whatever, to feel that they have a sacred trust confided to them, and they ought not to arouse in the country feelings of hostility to themselves, at least for the next four or five years, until things revert back to normal conditions. Now, with regard to this question of the closing of public-houses at ten o'clock, I may say that I am almost a teetotaller, and I have viewed this thing not entirely from the interests of the trade, as it is called, but from the interests of the country, and taking into consideration what the feeling of the country will be upon the matter. The position, as I regard it, is this: a workman comes home on a Saturday night, after getting paid his wages pretty late; he has his evening meal, and having a few hours' leisure he goes into the neighbouring town, a couple of miles away, and if he is shut out from the ordinary sources of enjoyment he attributes it to legislative difficulties placed in his way.
That is, of course, a principal objection to these hours; there are a number of other sundry objections. I think legislation ought to be an exact science. I think it ought to be as simple as possible, and all matters of legislation should be easy, so that the people generally called upon to observe the laws would know them very explicitly. Therefore, I would say there are certain specific hours, such as from 9 o'clock in the morning until 9 at night on weekdays, that might be prescribed, and leave the public-houses open until 10 o'clock on the Saturday nights. As this Bill refers to the country as well as large towns and cities you have to strike a mean. I do not think it would be well for people coming to Dublin to find publichouses closed at an hour which would lead them to think that the Government was putting the people of Ireland in a sort of temperance strait-jacket. We want reason and reasonable consideration, and I certainly believe that not only for the people of the city, but also for people of the country, the closing hours on Saturday should be extended to 10 o'clock. You must remember also, owing to Summer Time, that 10 o'clock is really half-past eight. Farm labourers and other people work until the sun sets, and therefore if they want to have a pint to counteract the vitiated atmosphere they are working in all day I do not see why the Government in the exercise of too much parentalism should stand in the way. There are other secondary reasons. It would help the Civic Guard very much if there was a uniform hour of closing the publichouses. They would know the exact time, and they would know the hour at which shops and public-houses should be closed. For these reasons I hope the Committee will accept this amendment.
The short effect of your amendments, Senator, is that they would place Saturday on the same lines for hours as that of other week-days.
Yes, from 9 o'clock to 10 o'clock for six days in the week.
I beg to second the amendment, and while I do not join with my friend in his reflections upon the Government, at the same time I would represent to the Minister that 10 o'clock on a Saturday night for country people would be a reasonable hour at which to close the public-houses. I would ask him to take that into consideration. In the country, in general, people do not leave off for a half-day on Saturday; they generally work full time until six or seven o'clock, and some of the workers and small farmers do their shopping afterwards, so that ten o'clock, if it is reasonable for any other day of the week, is more reasonable for Saturday night than any other night. Nor can it be said that as far as the labourers are concerned, they will be incapacitated by reason of ten o'clock on Saturday night, because Saturday is followed by a day of rest, and on which they are not asked to work. I know the argument is advanced that the extra hour will induce the labourer to spend his extra few shillings. At all events I think it would be only reasonable for farmers and labourers in the country and the rural districts to get the half-hour on the Saturday night, because their hours of labour do not end until about 7 o'clock, and then perhaps they may have to go two or three miles into the nearest town or village. I think it would be worth the Minister's while to give the matter further consideration.
There is the additional reason in favour of this amendment, and that is that if you close places at half-past nine in a great portion of the country where summer time is adopted, that really means half-past seven or eight o'clock. In the summer, where the people work up to half-past eight, it means that they will not be able to go to a place of refreshment at all, for that would mean half-past nine in summer time.
It might be possible to argue in favour of a differentiation of time for certain parts of the country. I do not propose to deal with that, but personally I hope the committee will support the Government in the hours which they have inserted in the Bill. There is another side to it. I do not propose to deal with it from the point of view of Senator McEvoy, though I might point out to the Seanad the desirability of people not being late for Church on Sunday morning. I am putting it from the point of view of my friends who have spoken on the other side.
There is a strong movement, which I personally support, to try and get earlier closing on Saturday night in a great many other businesses besides that of the licensed trade. It has been one of the greatest difficulties in the trade with which I happen to be personally connected to get earlier closing hours, and the reason given is that in working-class districts you are actually competing with the licensed trade. Saturday is the day on which the wages are paid to the men. Now a man will spend a certain amount of money either on intoxicating liquor or on clothes. He may be tempted to spend more than his wages entitle him to spend in the licensed houses if the hours are long. At any rate it is extremely difficult to get early closing on Saturday nights in the drapery trade, and in other business, so long as long hours are allowed in the licensed trade. At the present moment, and for quite a number of years, employees in the drapery trade have been trying to get shorter hours. In Dublin this affects a large number of employees in the smaller houses. At present the licensed houses stay open until 9.30 on Saturday night, and these drapery houses say that it would not be fair to ask them to close down at 7.30, which is the demand which has been made on them. I do not suggest for a moment that 9 o'clock is going to solve the difficulty. What I do suggest is that at the present time to extend the closing hour on Saturday night to 10 o'clock would be a great mistake and a retrograde step, and for this reason I hope the Seanad will support the Government in this matter.
It might be worth while, in considering the amendment, to have a glance at what the position was before this legislation was introduced, under the law, as it then existed. On Saturdays the statutoty hours for cities and towns with a population of over 5,000 are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and elsewhere from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Therefore through the proposals in the Bill, by far the greater part of the country has not a restriction but an increase of half an hour on the statutory time as it existed before this Bill was introduced. Cities and towns with a population of over 5,000 are restricted by half an hour. Senator McKean spoke mainly as an advocate for the rural areas. Now the position under the Bill is that the rural areas have had their statutory time increased by half an hour on the time that existed before the Bill was introduced, and any restrictions effected by the Bill are confined to the large cities with a population of over 5,000. I think that there are five of them in the area of the jurisdiction of the Free State Government.
Presumably, therefore, in legislating in the past, it was recognised that there were factors in favour of an earlier closing on Saturday nights than on the ordinary nights of the week. Just what they are it would be difficult to say. Probably the legislation was based on police experience and police reports. Probably the fact that great bodies of the population received their weekly wage on that night would have something to do with it. Generally, perhaps, that kind of week-end holiday spirit which is apt to prevail had something to do with it, but we have it at any rate, that the hour on Saturday differed by one hour on ordinary week days in past legislation. So that the suggestion that the difference ought to be continued, if only the difference of half an hour, is not just a brain-wave of the theorists, but had some precedent from the past to support it. The Senator knows as well as I do that in country towns and villages, Saturday night is a night on which there is a greater tendency to looseness and disorder than on the other five nights of the week.
That experience and the experience of police and others and the statistics of the number of arrests on Saturday nights, as compared with other nights, favour the suggestion that there should be some slight distinction at any rate between the time for closing on that night, and the time for closing on other nights. I do not think it is an unreasonable restriction, and this matter of half an hour is scarcely worth the eloquence we are wasting on it. It is, perhaps, worth remembering that the Bill actually increased the time by half an hour for the greater part of the country, and, in so far as the Bill contains a restriction, the effect of that restriction is confined only to the five cities. I would ask the Seanad to recognise that there is a great deal to be said in favour of this slight differentiation between Saturday nights and other nights; and they ought not to reject the provision that is based both on the experience of the police in the present and in the past, a differentiation which was considered sound in former legislation on this matter.
I notice that the Minister makes a point that this Bill increased the hours during which a public-house can be open in country places. It gives, it is true, increased hours as compared with the Bill which he himself passed over our heads last year, but it does not give an increase in the hours that existed before that.
Pardon me, it does. The hours I was quoting were the hours previous to the introduction of any legislation in the Oireachtas of the Saorstát. These hours were from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on ordinary week nights in cities and towns over 5,000 of a population, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. elsewhere on these nights. On Saturdays the provision was from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. where the population was over 5000 and from 7 to 9 elsewhere.
I stand corrected. My mistake shows how little I frequent publichouses.
I do not know what the recent regulations were, but I know that in rural areas in the country it was 10 o'clock every night, and if there was any reason for remaining open longer than usual any night, there was particular reason for remaining open on Saturday nights.
I would like to say that I disagree with the Minister when he says that this is a matter on which we should not waste our eloquence. It may be a matter on which we should not waste our eloquence, but it is a matter on which we should apply our common sense. The principal thing that strikes me as regards these hours is the fact that on the other nights of the week publichouses are allowed to be open until 10 o'clock and no one wants them open. In fact, 80 per cent. of the trade close their houses voluntarily. It is on Saturday night that people have a feeling of relaxation, when they know that they need not have to get up at an unearthly hour the next morning and go to their work. If I thought that this extra half-hour would add one per cent. to the expenditure on spirituous liquors to what is at present spent I would not support it. But I know the people want it.
I believe the people in the country come into the towns on a Saturday night for a little enjoyment. Life is very dull and drab in the country, and a man after working in the mud and dirt all day naturally likes to pay a visit to the local village on a Saturday night, much in the same way as people at the seaside go to the local railway station to watch the arrival and the departure of the two trains that arrive each day. The workman in the country, accompanied by his wife, likes perhaps to go into the local town and look at the shop windows. When he is in the town he may have a pint. I think it is extremely hard on him if the extra half-hour which is now given to him for his enjoyment is to be taken away from him. He has the extra half-hour on the other nights of the week when, because of his occupation, he cannot afford to go into the local town to enjoy himself. That is an anomaly in the Bill which, I think, should be remedied. No one engaged in the liquor trade wants anyone to get drunk or to spend more money than he can afford. In considering the Bill these are considerations that ought to be taken into account. The question is whether these regulations suit the public. After all, if a man likes to take an extra pint more than his means enable him to take, well, that is a matter for his own personal liberty. We ought not to interfere too much with people's liberty. On this question of interfering with people's liberty I fear that our Government is getting itself into a little disrepute by its efforts at interfering too much with individual liberty in legislation. It has been suggested to me that I should withdraw my amendment, but for the reasons I have given I do not propose to do so, and, if necessary, I shall force it to a division.
I represent the rural labourers in whom Senator McKean seems to be so much interested. I know the rural labourers intimately, and for years past I have never heard them make any objection to the 9 o'clock closing on Saturday nights that has existed up to the present. This Bill proposes to extend by half-an-hour the time that has existed for a number of years past, and I cannot see how the Government can be held to be in fault in any way for what Senator McKean states. The Bill gives an extension of half-an-hour on Saturday nights as far as country towns are concerned, and to my mind if there is anything wrong with the Bill it is that the closing hour on the other nights of the week is not earlier than it is at present. I would like to see a provision in the Bill to the effect that the closing hour on ordinary week nights should be 9 o'clock, and on Saturday nights, 9.30. To say that we are losing some of the liberty which we have enjoyed up to the present by the Saturday night closing proposed in this Bill is certainly not the case. For years past in the rural districts the closing hour on Saturday nights has been 9 o'clock, and now, under this Bill, it is proposed to extend the time to 9.30. Therefore, I do not see any necessity for the Senator's amendment.
I beg to move the following amendment, which stands in my name:—
Section 1, sub-section (1). (a) To delete the word "or" in line 22. (b) Immediately after the word "Day" in line 22 to insert the words "or St. Patrick's Day."
The object of my amendment is, I think, reasonably clear. It is to reinstate in the Bill a provision which it contained when it was introduced. In other words, the amendment proposes to have all licensed houses in the Saorstát closed all day on St. Patrick's Day. My reasons for bringing forward the amendment are these. Some years ago there was a strong national movement, which, as far as Dublin is concerned, embraced a large section of the licensed traders in the city, started in favour of an entire closing of licensed premises on St. Patrick's Day. That was about the year 1905, and without any enforced legislation, but owing to the pressure of the Gaelic League organisation and with a strong support of the late Archbishop Walsh, who was then Archbishop of Dublin, the majority of the licensed traders agreed to close on St. Patrick's Day. The general effect was by common consent excellent. The Archbishop referred to the matter in his pastoral letter, and pointed to the great success which the closing had been. The reason, I understand, why it was not continued was because there was no method of enforcing it in the case of a certain number of the smaller traders who employ no assistants and who insisted, in spite of the general agreement to close, in keeping open. Therefore, it seems to me that there is a clear case for an entire closing on St. Patrick's Day. In view of the attitude adopted by the small traders, it was difficult to continue to enforce it since, owing to the fact that we had no legislature of our own. It is a clear case, I say, for reinserting the provision with regard to St. Patrick's Day. The agitation that was carried out in 1905 for an entire closing on St. Patrick's Day was largely the work of the Keating Branch of the Gaelic League, of which some of us have a good deal of knowledge.
I find in the pastoral letter of his Grace the late Archbishop Walsh, published in 1905, a very strong appreciation of the results of the closing on St. Patrick's Day. His Grace admitted, in the course of his pastoral, that the results had been so satisfactory that he felt the closing had been an honour to our country and to our national holiday. It seems to me a great pity, that having been the national attitude preliminary to having a National Parliament of our own, that the first act of this Parliament should be to strike out the provision for an entire closing on St. Patrick's Day. These are my arguments in favour of the amendment, and I hope the Seanad will agree with them.
I have much pleasure in seconding the amendment moved by Senator Douglas. St. Patrick's Day has been described as a holiday, and I think it should be kept with much the same ceremony as Christmas Day. I think it is due to the Patron Saint of Ireland, who did so much for this land during his lifetime, that temperance and the best possible conduct should be observed in this country on that day. What Senator Douglas says in regard to the national observance of the feast about fifteen years ago or more is quite correct. As a result largely of the agitation then started by the Gaelic League, all the principal licensed establishments in the city closed for the entire day on St. Patrick's Day. That excellent custom was observed for about three years in succession, but it subsequently fell through when the proprietors of the larger establishments in the city found that the smaller men in the business were keeping their houses open and that there was no legislative power to compel them to close. I think that we should do all in our power to see that St. Patrick's Day is observed in this country in the same way as Christmas Day is to be observed, in the future, and that is to make the observance a truly Christian one.
I have only to say that I entirely agree with the views expressed on this matter by the last two Senators. I remember the circumstances distinctly when the Gaelic League in the city started an agitation for the purpose of getting the people engaged in the licensed trade to come to an agreement to close their business houses all day on St. Patrick's Day. As a result of that agitation, practically every licensed house in the city closed on that day for a few years. There were a few publicans in the city who did not close, and I remember that their refusal at the time aroused great indignation because of their defiance of public opinion. That was the general feeling in the country at the time, and I think that we now should carry out what was then the general feeling of the country on this matter.
I desire to say that there is a special reason for closing public-houses on St. Patrick's Day in this country. All holidays, of course, are days that are supposed to be devoted to some form of relaxation and enjoyment and to attendance at religious ceremonies and the like. So far as Patrick's Day was concerned, we looked upon it as the holiday of the year. It has been the custom to celebrate it not only in this country but in other countries. It was considered a duty on the part of an Irishman to drown the shamrock as a sort of compliment to his patron Saint.
In some circles it was looked upon as an insult to, and an absolute neglect of the Saint, if a person did not drown the shamrock in his honour. The unfortunate part of it was that in this country the shamrock took a terrible lot of drowning, in some cases with very disastrous results both to the peace of the community and otherwise. It is about time, instead of drowning the shamrock, that we should give the unfortunate plant a chance of survival. From every point of view which you approach this question, I think the least desirable method of marking the day is by the consumption of intoxicating liquor. It is a direct insult to the Saint and does not make for any particular good. I am sure that every Senator who has at heart the good name of his country will, by recording his vote, seek to obliterate a blemish which has hitherto been attached to St. Patrick's Day.
I would like to support the amendment. I agree with all that Senator Douglas has said. My memory goes back even further than 1905. In 1901, when I was in London, efforts were made there amongst young Irish people to have St. Patrick's Day celebrated in a more serious manner. I remember it was a joke amongst the young men employed in Government and other offices in London, that when they arrived late at their work on the 18th March the excuse they put in the book was simply "St. Patrick's Day." That was accepted by their English employers. I have a pamphlet still, showing the religious celebrations, concerts and other entertainments which took place at that time. Our motto then was: "Chun Glóire Dé, onóra Phádraig agus na hEireann"—"For the glory of God, the honour of Patrick and the good name of Ireland."
The point I wish to make is that afterwards, when a similar movement took place in Ireland, representative people were called together from every national body, and these people agreed to ask the licensed traders to close their houses on that day, so that it was really a representative body, not only the Gaelic League. The response was most general, proving that the traders themselves really had no objection. What spoiled our effort then was that a few selfish people kept open and, in the course of time, the movement more or less lapsed. If we had legislation at that time I am certain there would be no objection to closing the public-houses. Moreover St. Patrick's Day is a Bank Holiday now, and why should all the assistants in the licensed houses be deprived of their holiday? It is the only holiday we have that belongs solely to Ireland.
Hitherto I felt a little bit of a hypocrite when I had to vote for the curtailing of the hours for the sale of drink, but when the Minister pointed out that it was really an increase of half an hour I felt I could support the Government. I visited many taverns in the city in my youth, and I did not see any extraordinary occurrences such as would warrant their being closed. But to be perfectly fair, I try to put myself in the place of St. Patrick. What would he say to it? He visited Ireland at a time when there was no word in the Irish language to explain the condition of sobriety. I believe that is a fact. I do not know that there is any Irish word for "sober." Although he could not have been extraordinarily shocked at the hilarious reception and subsequent entertainment he must have received in the houses of the chieftains, I am not perfectly certain that he would agree for a moment to close these houses compulsorily. We have heard from Senator Douglas of the sentiments of the late Archbishop Walsh, but I will quote the sentiments of an Archbishop on the other side, the late Archbishop McGee, who said: "Temperance is an excellent thing, but human liberty is more important." As we hear the publicans are so extremely anxious to shut the public-houses, I think that this invidious decision ought not to be left to the Seanad, but to those very anxious people who ought to be given freedom of choice.
There is another consideration. The Government, we are told by Senator McKean, is getting the name of being, shall I say, rather censorious. If we are not very careful we will find ourselves, as America finds itself, in the hands of a rigidly righteous, puritanical set of cranks—not that I want to return to that extraordinarily regrettable time which I spent without any injury, apparently, to my health, but I would like that we should return to the normal condition of liberty of choice to the subject. If the assistants in the public-houses wish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a holiday by closing their master's shops, let them make representations to the masters, but do not thrust on the Seanad the necessity of ordering every house of entertainment in the country to be shut on St. Patrick's Day. You would think there was no such thing as New Year's Day in Scotland. Senator Mrs. Costello explained how the excuse of St. Patrick's Day was taken as sufficient for leave of absence in London. Why should we take away from England any excuse or any opportunity of enlarging its sense of liberality and generous treatment of this country? I think we might well leave this matter to the choice of the country itself, and exempt Senators from it.
I cannot vote for this amendment. I think the Seanad ought to consider a class of person who has not been considered very much in this debate hitherto; that is the man who is fond of a glass of alcoholic liquor, but does not take it to excess, to the detriment of himself or other people. There was a time, we all know, when St. Patrick's Day was a very drunken day in many places. There has been a marked improvement, and the whole country has become very much more sober. I do not think it can be said that on St. Patrick's Day there is now widespread drunkenness. There are a certain number of people who will drink too much, no matter what restrictions you put on. The majority of the people wish to enjoy themselves on St. Patrick's Day, and I think it is a great mistake to prevent them doing so in a legitimate way, for the sake of preventing a small minority doing themselves harm.
I desire to support the amendment. All Senator Douglas has said about the position in Dublin is perfectly correct. For a number of years, through the agency of the Gaelic League, the licensed establishments in Dublin were almost wholly closed. All the decent traders voluntarily agreed to close their establishments on St. Patrick's Day, but a few of the lower-class houses kept open. I think it is no hardship on the licensed trade to ask them to do now by statute what they agreed to do voluntarily before. They closed voluntarily for a number of years. Like Senator Gogarty I have tried to imagine what St. Patrick would say if he came to Ireland, saw the drowning of the shamrock, and the manner in which honour was supposed to be done to him. I have an idea that if he was back in Ireland again, and was not a saint, he would drown fellows who were drowning the shamrock. That is not the way to honour the national Saint. In saying that, I am not speaking from the point of view of temperance. It is not doing honour to the national Saint or the national holiday to celebrate that day in the manner in which it was celebrated in years gone by. Surely we ought to be able to devote at least one day in the year to a national holiday, when all the licensed premises should be closed.
It seems to me that to close the public-houses on St. Patrick's Day would be to turn the day from a feast day into a fast day. I must vote against the amendment.
Amendment put and declared carried on a show of hands, 18 voting for and 9 against.
Section 1, sub-section (3). To delete in line 38 the words "Christmas Day or Good Friday" and to substitute therefor the words "Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday, or St. Patrick's Day."
This amendment does not deal with the country. It deals entirely with the five exempted cities, in which I propose there should be total Sunday closing. I may say that, as far as Sunday closing in concerned, I have received from a very considerable number of organisations—ten or eleven different organisations—representing different bodies, requests that some amendment of this kind should be moved. I do not propose to take up the time of the Seanad about this as it is an old subject of debate on which there is a certain amount of honest difference of opinion. The position is this: in 1878, Sunday closing was adopted for the whole of Ireland, with the exception of five exempted cities. In 1906 that Act, which I think was an annual Act previously, was made permanent, and the hours in the cities were reduced from 2 till 7, to 2 till 5. At the present time you have Sunday closing in the Free State with the exception of five cities in which there are three hours opening in the afternoon. There is a very strong anti-partition argument in this. In the Six Counties, as far as their one exempted city was concerned, in recent legislation they provided for total Sunday closing. I do not think the argument need be debated at any great length. My main case is that if it is reasonable in the country districts where people, as far as it is possible for them, ought to spend Sunday afternoons out of town, there is no reason why they should be kept in town in order to be able to go to a public-house between the hours of 2 and 5.
In 1882 an organisation, I think it was one of the Catholic Temperance organisations, made a house to house canvass in the five exempted cities, and they received an over whelming majority in favour of falling in with the rest of the country. Although I would prefer to see the bona-fide traveller,— if there is really such a thing— abolished, as far as the Bill is concerned, the fact is, nevertheless, that he is retained. It seems to me with that retention there is no real reason why traders in the five exempted cities should be placed in a favoured position as compared with traders outside. My amendment would place them, if I understand the matter correctly now, in the same position as those outside. For that reason I hope the amendment will be adopted. I have included in the amendment as it is a necessary consequential part of the amendment previously carried, the words "St. Patrick's Day."
Perhaps before the Seanad proceeds to discuss this amendment, it might be well if I gave the view which I hold on it and the view of my Department. You have at the moment, as the mover of the amendment has explained, four cities in the jurisdiction of the Free State Government in which publichouses can be open from 2 o'clock till 5. Elsewhere you have no such facilities, though you have what is known as bona fide traffic. You have a great divergence of view on this matter. You have the view put forward by the mover of the amendment in favour of complete closing and you have another view, strongly held and plausibly enough supported, that there would be on the whole less drinking and certainly less abuse if the facilities which obtain in these exempted cities were extended to the country, and if throughout the country you had opening for a couple of hours like that in the afternoon. When people who argue along that line hold out as an inducement to you, the possibility of a complete abolition of the farce of the bona fide traffic, then that becomes certainly a proposal that one would like to have examined closely and weighed carefully.
I have not attempted, in this Bill, to deal with the question of the Sunday hours beyond removing the bona fide facilities between the hours of 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. I have not attempted to deal further nor to deal at all with the question of bona fide traffic. It is not because I think that these matters do not call for attention, but because they call for more attention and more consideration than I or my officials have been able to give them. I mentioned here on the Second Reading that it is hoped to set up in the near future a Commission to examine the great excess of licensed establishments beyond the reasonable requirements of the country, and it is hoped to bring before that Commission certain other problems and anomalies in connection with the trade and to ask for a considered opinion on them. There would be, for instance, such things as the question that was raised in the Dáil of the added areas, Clontarf and Drumcondra, and these other places, and, perhaps, the tied houses question which is peculiar to Cork City and County, but among the things I would like the Commission to consider carefully is the question of the bona fide traffic as it exists, and this question of facilities for drinking on Sundays.
I do not want to pronounce one way or another on the thing now. It has occurred to me that one should be prepared to bid high for the complete abolition of the farce that is known as the bona fide traffic. It is undoubtedly a glaring abuse and a source of a great deal of excess. You have that kind of floating population for the purposes of drink. You have people "road hogging" out of Dublin in charabancs in what is simply a "pub crawl" round the County Wicklow and returning late at night, riotous and abusive, along the roads. That is a scandal and an abuse, and the whole question of the bona fide traffic will have to be gone into very carefully. I do not want to prejudice whatever view might be put to me by the Commission on this matter, by declaring dogmatically or strongly in favour of the particular view I hold myself on this question of Sunday opening. I do declare strongly, however, my own view that the bona fide traffic is in all respects a farce and an abuse, and it should be ended once and for all. What provision should be made, if any, in substitution or consideration of such removal is something I would not like to pronounce on just now. I am very glad that the last amendment was carried. I will have much pleasure in asking the Dáil to reconsider its former decision on that matter, but for reasons I have given I certainly would not view with any pleasure the passing here by the Seanad of this amendment, which advocates here and now, and without any attention to the bona fide traffic, the complete closing of licensed establishments on Sunday.
In laws of this kind, in social legislation, the one thing you have to keep before your mind is the possibility of effective enforcement. Personally, I believe that a law completely closing the licensed houses of the country on Sunday would be very largely broken. There would, of course, be constant prosecutions and that kind of thing, but the breach would be constant and on a large scale, and the problem that legislation of that kind would present to a police force would be a considerable one. It may be that eventually the wisdom of the Oireachtas will be rather towards an extension to the entire country of such facilities as exist in the cities in consideration of that complete abolition of the provisions with regard to bona fide traffic.
I should state that the reason I would like to see the House vote on the amendment is that because in considering this matter it should be made clear here that there is a very strong feeling in the country on the matter. The Minister has based his argument against this amendment on the possibility of doing something in the future which would be a great deal better. As far as that is concerned, for my part, if he made the offer basing the extension of these facilities to the country on the abolition of the bona fide traffic I should take it. I make no secret of that. I believe it would be a thousand times better to allow these facilities in the country than to continue this bona fide traffic. He is going, however, to refer the matter to a commission, but commissions do not always mean action. I think myself the arguments of the Minister were in the main directed towards the amendment rather than against it. There is just one thing that the Minister stated—that it would be more difficult to carry out the law in the country generally if this amendment were accepted. Obviously he is in a better position to express an opinion. As far as I am concerned, I should like the House to express its opinion on this amendment, and I do not think I should withdraw it. My own view is that it represents a very strong feeling in a considerable part of the country.
I feel bound to vote against this amendment. I consider that a certain amount of restriction on the conditions under which intoxicating liquor is sold is necessary, and always has been. I think this is a reasonable Bill, but I think this amendment is going too far. If you pass this amendment you will be driving underground and making much more dangerous and serious any evil there is in the sale of liquor on this particular day. I do not believe in restricting a thing beyond a certain point, because if you go too far against the opinion of a very large number of people they will get what they want, and they will get it in a way which you cannot control in the same way as if you allowed certain things to be done. I think this amendment interferes with the liberty of the subject, and I am against it. I do not believe in trying to make everybody sober by legislation; that you will never do, because people would only take to drugs, and that would be far worse still.
I should like to intimate my opposition to this amendment. I think there is danger of going a little too far if this amendment were passed, and there is just the chance that it may be passed. We must not get it into our heads that by legislation we are going to make the whole of the Irish people a lot of saints, going to church on Sunday evenings and to the Rosary every night, and living good lives through the Sunday simply because you close the public-houses during the hours that they are open at present. You are not going to make either men or women saints by legislation. There must be a certain amount of individual liberty, no matter who rules the State, if freedom is to be anything but freedom in name. There are people who have no day off in the week except Sunday, and if they feel that their one source of amusement is to have a drink, I do not think it is right that you should make it necessary for them to travel to the Dublin mountains for that purpose. The Minister has pointed out one of the results of passing this sort of amendment would be a weekly migration of the population from Dublin travelling to the townships and to Dun Laoghaire in order to secure a certain amount of drink, and people from these townships journeying here to Dublin for the same purpose. Temperance by legislation can only be promoted by prohibition, and the Government is not in a position to enforce prohibition.
I do not think there is any evidence of any grave abuse of the licensing laws during the three hours that the public houses are open in the four cities on Sundays. The principal abuses are the selling of liquor in shebeens and houses selling liquor at hours when these houses should be closed. I am informed that shebeening is on the increase as a result of recent legislation, and that it is growing up all over Dublin. I have been told of certain districts in which shebeens may be found, and I hope to have the pleasure of enabling the police to ascertain whether that is true or not. But I believe you are not going to strengthen the law by closing the houses entirely on Sunday. There is danger of letting the Oireachtas be influenced by persons of puritanical notions.
We can help to elevate the mentality of the country by other means than by ready-made legislation, and from a thousand and one other sources than by merely denying people something they desire. They will commit greater crimes on Sunday by cursing the law that prevents them getting the drink they want than by having the facilities they desire. An amendment just passed has expressed disagreement with the other House but we always find that when such an amendment is sent back here again this House just collapses before the other like a house of cards. We have passed an amendment to-day, and I venture to predict that if that is sent back here to us again it will not be insisted upon. For that and for many other reasons I shall certainly vote against this amendment.
Amendment put and negatived.
It will be necessary to insert in consequence of the other amendment the words "or St. Patrick's Day."
I was going to call attention to that. In view of the amendment adopted in the first sub-section it will be necessary to leave out the word "or" before the words "Good Friday" in this particular sub-section (3) and to add after "Good Friday" the words "or St. Patrick's Day." The amendment therefore is:—Section 1, sub-section (3), line 38, omit the word "or" before "Good Friday" and insert after "Good Friday" the words "or St. Patrick's Day."
The next amendment on the paper in the name of Senator Douglas is:—Section 1, sub-section (5).—Immediately after the word "liquor" in line 4 to insert the words "at any time on Sunday, Christmas Day or Good Friday."
In view of the decision on the last amendment I do not propose to press this or the following amendment but in asking leave to withdraw them I would like to say that the tendency of some of the speeches is not, I think very helpful.
I am afraid you are not in order, Senator, in that. You can ask leave to withdraw but you cannot avail of that to denounce your opponents.
I said before asking leave to withdraw.
Is it necessary in regard to this amendment also to have the insertion of the words "or St. Patrick's Day"?
If the Committee wishes to put them in I do not object.
But it does not follow as in the previous one.
I do not think so. As a matter of fact, when I was out of order it was that very point I was going to explain.
Then we will pass on.
The next amendment is amendment No. 6, "Section 1, sub-section (5) to delete lines 5-7 inclusive." It would be in order in moving this amendment dealing with questions which affect the Sunday closing and other closing that we should reach a reasonable understanding in the House.
I thought you were not going to move this amendment.
I move it in order to put myself in order. The point I really wish to make is that there is nothing to be gained by either assuming that anyone in this House represents a trade outside, which I personally do not hold or suggest, or to suggest that others who may represent another section, and who think that a certain section of the Bill, such as Sunday closing, ought to be extended to the whole of the country, are simply puritanical. I do not object to be called a crank, because I always am on certain questions, but when it comes to being called puritanical it is a different matter. Let us deal with this Bill or the amendments on one side or the other in a proper way, remembering in the first place it is not a prohibition measure, that we are simply discussing what are reasonable restrictions. I do not desire to press this amendment, and ask leave to withdraw.
The amendment as it appears on the paper here is not the amendment that I asked to be put down at all. The amendment I asked to be put down has been very badly represented here. I wrote to the Secretary of the Seanad asking, "Will you kindly have tabled the enclosed amendment on the Liquor Bill; please put it into proper form, and I will propose it."
The amendment I sent to our Secretary was as follows:—
"That the licensed vintners in Clontarf, Drumcondra and Glasnevin be allowed the same facilities as other licensed vintners in the Dublin Metropolitan Police area."
The amendment which is put down in my name on the Order Paper to-day is as follows:—
"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, shall be and are hereby extended to the holders of such licences within the districts of Clontarf, Drumcondra and Glasnevin."
Now, as far as that amendment is concerned, I do not know of any hotels in the district at all, and I think it is a monstrous thing that the Secretary of this House should translate the amendment I sent to him in that way.
Are you referring to the Clerk?
I am referring to the amendment put on the Order Paper in my name.
In the course of your remarks you made a reference to the conduct of some secretary.
I simply stated that the Clerk in your House got a certain amendment to put in, and the amendment he put in is not my amendment at all. I think that is a monstrous way of treating me. I sent him my amendment, and it is something else that appears on the Order Paper.
I know nothing whatever about this. I have not seen your original amendment, nor had I anything to do with the drafting of the amendment which appears on the Order Paper.
But someone had.
I will now give you full permission to move your own amendment in your own way.
Before this matter goes any further, I desire to know whether it is the duty of the Clerk to prepare amendments for members of this House. I understand from Senator Fitzgerald that he asked the Clerk to put down an amendment for him and that he merely sent some rough particulars of his amendment to the Clerk. I do not think it is the duty of the Clerk to prepare amendments for people in cases where they are not able to do it themselves. I certainly would not like it to go forth that it is the duty of the Clerk.
I was going to intervene later and call attention to the fact, in all fairness to the official, whoever he may be, that the letter of Senator Fitzgerald apparently asked the Clerk to frame an amendment for him. If the Senator did not like the amendment in the form in which it was framed, I think, before he made any attack on the official, he should have seen him and ascertained how the mistake occurred, because, am I not right, Senator, in saying that you did write and ask the Clerk to frame an amendment?
I did not. My letter was very plain and very distinct. It was as follows:—
"Would you kindly have tabulated the enclosed amendment on the Liquor Bill. Please have it put into the proper form and I will sign the proposal."
The amendment is very distinct and very clear, and if Senator O'Farrell had listened a little better to me, he would not have made an attack on me, but rather would have endeavoured to protect the Seanad.
I will try and do that.
You have always done it. No one recognises more than I do that you have always tried to protect every member of the Seanad. The amendment I asked to have put down was this:—
"That the licensed vintners of Clontarf, Drumcondra and Glasnevin be allowed the same facilities as other licensed vintners in the Dublin Metropolitan Police area."
That is an excellent amendment, as far as the framing of it is concerned.
But it has been altered to read in this way——
Do not trouble about that. You can now move the amendment in the form in which you have just read it.
Very well. I now move the amendment in the form in which I have read it. I desire to point out to the Seanad that these added areas of Clontarf, Drumcondra and Glasnevin, were taken into the City of Dublin under the same rates and regulations that prevail in the city, and the result is that the licensed traders in these added areas are obliged to pay the same rates and the same licence duties as the traders within the city. These added areas have been largely extended within recent years. Within a very short period at least 1,500 houses have been built at Marino in the Clontarf area. The populations are being largely increased in the Clontarf and Drumcondra areas, and, as I have pointed out already, the licensed traders in these added areas have to pay the same rates as the people in the City of Dublin. Therefore, I think they can legitimately and rightly claim similar advantages to those enjoyed by licensed traders in the city when it is remembered that they have to pay the same rates and licence duties as city traders. I put it to the Seanad that it is very unfair and unseemly that, so to speak, these added areas should be disfranchised.
I would like to explain my attitude with regard to this amendment. An amendment was moved in the Dáil to the same effect as the Senator's amendment and I felt it my duty to oppose it. The history of this question of the added areas is briefly as follows:—The boundaries of the Metropolitan area were extended by the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900, and by a special clause of that Act it was provided that the licensed traders in the area that was newly brought in would not enjoy the same facilities for the sale of drink on Sundays as the traders within the old city boundary. So whether the thing was right or wrong, wise or unwise, there was at any rate specific advertence to the position of licensed traders within the area that was to be newly brought into the Metropolitan area. The case has been put on behalf of these people that by the Intoxicating Liquors Act of 1906 it was sought to extend to them the same facilities and privileges as the traders within the old city boundary enjoyed, and that the intention failed through faulty draftsmanship. I find that a great many people in the Dáil, and possibly in the Seanad, have been led to believe that that is the case, that when the Act of 1906 was going through there was specific advertence to the unfortunate plight of the traders in the added areas, and that the British Parliament, in its righteousness, decided to come to their aid and failed only through a technicality or through faulty draftsmanship.
That is not the position, and it is not a fair or accurate description of what occurred. What did in fact occur is that one of the members for the City of Dublin put in a very harmless-looking amendment to the Bill which he believed would in its effects have the result of enabling the traders of the added areas to open on Sunday. But he did not go to the Britsh Parliament and say: "In 1900 you passed an Act bringing new areas into the City of Dublin, and you explicitly refused the licensed traders in that area the privilege of selling drink between two and five o'clock on Sundays, and I want you to reconsider that latter decision. I think it was wrong and unjust, and the passing of this Act gives you an opportunity to review it."
There was not, when the Act of 1906 was going through, a single reference to the position of the licensed traders in the added areas. An amendment was put in—a subtly-drafted amendment was put in—which was believed would in its effect enable them to open, and for some time, after that Act was passed, they did in fact open, relying on the advice they got that this amendment to the 1906 Act would enable them to open. Some strong temperance person took advice and was informed that it was extremely questionable whether the amendment did in fact enable them to open.
The matter was decided in a court of law and the decision went against the traders in the added area. From that day they have been compelled to remain closed. I just want to stress this, that it is not true that in 1906 there was a definite specific advertence to the position of the licensed traders in that area, and that an attempt was made to enable them to open on Sunday, but that the attempt failed only through a technicality or a blemish in the draftsmanship of the amendment. What was the position? These people came in a deputation to me; they were represented by a very able counsel, very ably represented indeed. He put their case with all the strength and eloquence he could command, but when we came down to close grips on the matter, and when I asked how many survivors were left of the owners in 1900, I found there was not one. When I went further and asked how many survivors were there amongst them who were owners in 1906, I found there was not one. The position is, therefore, that all the existing owners in this area have bought since 1906, since the legal decision went against them, and they bought at greatly reduced prices because of the fact that the legal decision went against them. By a stroke of the pen we are asked to do something which would probably add 50 per cent. to the value of their premises, with, mark you, consequent reactions on the value of the other premises that are in or about the confines of the old city boundary.
Now, I am speaking of what I know. A publichouse at Ballybough Road changed hands recently for the sum of £16,000. That price was paid, I submit, largely because of the particular position of that establishment and the facilities it had for the sale of drink on Sunday. These people who want special provisions made for them in this Bill, and who have been propaganding on that for some months back, have bought their premises with full advertence to the fact that they were not allowed to open in the way in which the traders in the old city are allowed to open, from 2 to 5 on Sundays. To grant this concession, which is now sought, would mean a very considerable increase in the value of their premises. I do not want to declare in any flat-footed way against their claims for consideration. But I do say, at a time when the whole question of the hours and the other facilities for drinking on Sunday is about to come under review for examination, with the question of the bona fide traffic and so on, that we ought not now simply take advantage of the fact that this Bill is in the course of consideration; that we ought not now take steps by special legislation in favour of licensed traders of this particular area, remembering that when the Act of 1900 was going through, there was advertence to their position, and there was specific and explicit provision that they were not to share the advantages of the licensed trader within the old city proper, the old city boundaries.
If, later on, possibly supported and reinforced by the advice of the Commission, the Oireachtas were to decide to extend to the entire country, facilities for the sale of drink between the hours of 2 and 5 on Sundays, that would be another matter, but I would ask the Senate not to say, now, at this stage, that these facilities should be extended to the particular area that was brought into the Metropolitan area in 1900, with advertence to the position at that time against the traders of the area. I do not say that there is any particular claim in equity. The people bought their premises knowing what the position was. You may take it that the price they paid was largely regulated by that consideration, and I do not think they can advance any really strong or equitable claim that we should now, in a hasty or inconsidered way, double, perhaps, the value of their premises.
I think I must say, in reply to the Minister, that his arguments are the most extraordinary arguments I ever heard put forward anywhere. I have been listening to arguments for some years. I have heard you, sir, yourself very frequently, and I have heard you speak very ably. One argument that was used by the Minister was that a public-house in Ballybough Road was sold for £16,000. Has he given us the least little thing about that public-house? Has he given us the least little idea who bought it and who sold it and where the money came from? Now, of all the sales that I ever knew in Dublin that is the one bogus one I ever knew. To put up a claim about a house in Ballybough Road being sold for £16,000 to two shop assistants, who never got a penny from the bank, goes beyond me entirely. That argument entirely neglects the fact that these people who own licensed property in the added areas are what we may call citizens of the city of Dublin. They are paying the rates and are paying their licences, and I have here a licence to one of them by Sir George Fottrell, the Clerk of the Crown and Peace, and he charges them absolutely for a seven-day licence. The man pays for a seven-day licence and is not allowed to open on Sundays.
The people of Clontarf must go beyond Ballybough Bridge to get a drink. Now, the population is very largely increased of late years up there, but the people up there get no consideration at all. If they want to get a drink on Sunday they must go to this publican who pays £16,000 for a licensed house. They must go across the bridge. I was living once in a city where there was entire prohibition and you could not get a bottle of porter without a doctor's certificate, but when you went across the bridge you could get blind drunk. At the present moment that is what the Minister wants here. You may get drunk in Dublin, but you must be sober in Clontarf. I have never heard such a statement in my life. The idea that a man should pay full rates and should pay full licence duty and do everything that a citizen of Dublin should do, and yet not get the benefit of citizenship, is, I think, putting a penalty on citizens of Dublin that should not be allowed.
I have listened to the remarks of the Minister for Justice with close interest. I do not think he has given us the full particulars of these facts to enable us to form an independent judgment. To do so he should also deal with the assessment values of these respective properties. Can he tell us the full valuation, and are the rates fixed in the outside areas by virtue of the fact that they have not the same Sunday facilities, and therefore cannot provide the same trade, and are therefore lower than within the old metropolitan area? If that is so, his case will be very much strengthened. I do not think in the debates in the Dáil that I have read any information on that particular point, and it is a very important particular, because we have in the city of Dublin this curious rating provision by which the valuations are not automatically revised at stated periods. In the absence of any other information one is justified in assuming that all these licensed houses in or outside that old area are valued on the same basis, and if that is so there is undoubtedly an injustice on licensed houses outside the old area.
We could not form any sort of reasonable judgment from the particulars given by the Minister about the £16,000 paid for the public-house. We had no particulars as to the class of structure or the extent of it; whether it was a freehold or a leasehold interest that was purchased, and what the unexpired term was. All these factors govern the purchase price, and without these you could not get any useful pointer from the bald statement that certain premises were purchased for £16,000. It might be an excessive price, or the premises might be cheap at the price.
Senator Sir John Keane asked a very pertinent question as regards the valuation of the property in Clontarf and the other districts which are under discussion. I know from information that since they came into the city the valuation has increased by 25 per cent. That is a point which the Minister should not ignore. The rates and taxes were lower before they were brought into the city. Now they exercise doubtful privileges in the city, and the taxation is increased by 25 per cent., while they do not get the privileges which they are entitled to— being placed under the same conditions as the licensed houses in the city.
The Minister made a very remarkable statement when he said that the people in those districts were conscious of the disabilities under which they would labour when they came into the city. He says that the people in the older parts of the city were entitled to certain privileges which the people in these districts should not infringe upon. Yet, on account of the injustice done to the traders in Clontarf, he told us of the enhanced value placed on a public-house in Ballybough. I do not see how he can justify that. I think it is a very serious matter. All the citizens of Dublin are entitled to the same privileges. One would think that having been brought into the city under certain disadvantages, and against their will in a great many cases those people should at least enjoy the same privileges as the other traders in the city. Apparently, that is not going to be so under this Bill. I think it is a very reasonable proposition. It is never too late to do justice when you have been doing injustice. An injustice has been done to these people and I ask the Minister, even at the eleventh hour, to do them the justice to which they are pre-eminently entitled.
It is rather unfortunate that I made the statement about the public-house in Ballybough Road because it has proved somewhat of a red herring. Suppose we approach the matter from a different angle and simply ask, why should licensed traders in these particular areas be allowed facilities for the sale of drink between 2 and 5 on Sunday? The reply probably would be "Because they are in the city." My reply is that in the Act by which they were brought within the administrative area of the City of Dublin there was advertence to the position of licensed traders in the new area that was being brought in and it was solemnly decided at that stage that these traders would not enjoy the facilities of the traders within the old city. Senator McKean talks about injustice. Let us assume that that was an injustice—that the Dublin Corporation Act of 1900 should have allowed to traders in these added areas the same facilities as traders in the rest of the city. To whom was the injustice? Presumably to the traders— to the traders at that time. But they are gone; there is not one of them left. There are other traders now who bought their establishments with full advertence to the fact that they were not being allowed to open from 2 to 5 on Sundays. At any rate let us think clearly about the thing and let us not talk about rectifying injustices of twenty-four years ago, because the people to whom those alleged injustices may or may not have been done are not there now.
We are now considering the case of new people who at various dates from 1906 onwards have bought licensed premises in that area. We are asked to do something by a casual stroke of the pen which will at one and the same time add considerably to the value of their premises and probably deduct considerably from the value of other premises on the confines of the old city boundary. That is the case. You are asked to do all that, for what? Is it in the interests of the public or in the interest of the publicans? Let that question be faced up to and answered. No demand has come from the public. No deputations of the public resident in that area have waited on me. Any deputations that waited on me were deputations representative of the publicans of that area with paid counsel to put their case as plausibly and forcibly as it could be put. And their case was thoroughly well put. But, on examination, it did not seem to hold water. There was talk, just as we have it now from Senator McKean, of a rankling sense of grievance and injustice, of people who were brought into the city against their will and so on, and were not given the facilities of the city. But these are not the people who were brought into the city.
It was suggested also that in some way the British Parliament had been smitten with remorse in connection with what it did in 1900, and that in 1906 it had made a frantic but unsuccessful attempt to redress the injustice. That is not so either. The British Parliament did not advert and was not asked to advert to the plight of the traders in the added areas when the 1906 Act was going through, but simply an ingenious and subtle amendment was put in in a harmless way without any reference to that, and certain astute people believed the effect of that would be to enable the licensd traders in that area to open. In fact, it did not. Twenty years later now, I am asked to rectify the faulty draftsmanship of Mr. John Clancy. If I am to do it, I must be shown why I should do it and in whose interests I should do it. There is no use talking about injustice to these traders, because they are not the traders who were there when that area was not in the city. They are not the traders who were brought into the city. They are other new traders who bought their establishments at reduced rates, with full advertence to such inequalities as exist. If it is in the interests of the residents of the area, let that be stated, and let it be shown. The residents of the area have been strangely silent on the matter.
I put it to the Seanad that the question of reasonable facilities for the sale of drink on Sunday is about to be considered, that the claim that one does meet here and there, that the people of the country generally are as much entitled to reasonable facilities in that direction as the people in the five cities, is about to be considered; that it ought and will be considered in conjunction with the very big question of the existing bona fide traveller regulations. I ask the Seanad not to say now in a casual haphazard way, simply because a Bill of this kind is before it, that there shall be special provision made for the residents of a particular set of square miles there, on the outskirts of the city, when it was solemnly decided not to make such provision when the Act was going through that brought them within the administrative area of the metropolis.
In face of what the Minister has said, and in view of the consideration that the Government is going to give to licensing facilities generally, I think the Seanad should take a very strong view on this matter. The Seanad had not an opportunity of knowing what my amendment was until I spoke. The amendment on the Orders of the Day is not my amendment. It was never intended to be. My amendment was as unlike the amendment on the Orders of the Day as black is to white. With the permission of the Seanad I suggest that this matter might be left over until the Report Stage so that the Minister might consider it. The Minister spoke about people who held these houses 20 years ago. He should read the book, "Twenty Years After." Many people who were carrying on business then are doing so still. People who buy stocks or shares, if the stocks go up, are entitled to the advanced price. If the stocks go down they lose. The Minister's argument was very absurd. These men built up their business and if they were not good business men they would have gone down. Owing to the way the amendment has been tabulated, I suggest, with the permission of the Seanad, that it should be adjourned until the Report Stage.
It is in your own hands. If you wish you can withdraw the amendment now and put it down on the Report Stage, unless someone objects.
I think the time of the Seanad need not be taken up again with this amendment. It is quite true that the mover wishes to move something different to what appears on the Orders of the Day, but I think Senators understand what he wishes to have carried. We have had a good deal of argument on the subject, and in order to save time I suggest we should decide it now. I do not know that we would know any more about it on the Report Stage. I think the Minister has got the best of the argument. There is something illogical and something that appears to be anomalous, but on the whole, when there is a Commission, I think it is pre-eminently a question that should go before that Commission.
It appears to me that there are a number of public-houses in this particular area with six-day licences. I think I am correct in saying that these are not the only six-day houses in the City of Dublin. There are other six-day licensed houses in the old city area, so that it would appear the object of this amendment is to give seven-day licences to six-day houses. As to what Senator McKean said about the people in the added areas being taken in and done for in the city with high rates, some of us who have some experience in the management of the city think that the people in the added areas did pretty well.
In connection with the section generally, there is one matter on which I did not put down an amendment but which was brought before me that I would like the Minister to consider. Pending a decision on the question of bona fide travellers, which the Minister has stated is going to be referred also to the Commission, and as we are continuing the bona fide traffic in this Bill, I would like him to consider if it would not be possible to make provision by which houses serving bona fide travellers should keep a register on which each traveller should sign his name, and also show that he had travelled a certain distance. The reason I suggest that is partly because it was put to me by a deputation, and partly because I think it would be very much fairer to the licensed trader himself, if he got a statement which would exonerate him, and make the person who signs responsible in law. My own belief is that some such provision of the kind would form a check. At any rate it was suggested by persons who thought it out, and I mention it for the consideration of the Minister.
There does not appear to be any legislation altering the existing law with regard to bona fide travellers.
Sub-section 5, Section 1.
That is curtailing the time. That does not deal with his right of admission. I understood the Minister to say that this is one of the matters he would refer to the Commission to report on.
My impression was that the whole question was going to be reported on. I only mentioned it and am not moving anything now.
This is a section to which I have not put down an amendment, but there is a verbal amendment which I would like to suggest, because I think it would be important in the construction of the section. The section, I think, is one which will be welcomed and, I think, will go a good way towards making the enforcement of the present law more easy for the police. The words of the section are: "In any part of such house other than the part in which such sale usually takes place." It seems to me, if the words were to read "In any part of such house other than the part of the premises which is licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor," it would be clearer, because possibly the cellar, which is not a part of the premises in which a sale usually takes place, but which is, nevertheless, a part of the licensed premises might be a place where such sale takes place. I think what is wanted here is to make it clear that nothing in this section will prevent the holder of the licensed premises, living in the house, from entertaining his friends.
It is a fact, is it not, Senator, that licensed premises do not include the entire house? They do not include the private portion occupied by the licensee and his family?
So I am informed, Sir.
My information is that generally the entire premises are licensed.
I remember in the old days they were very particular because they were entitled to have exempted, for the purpose of duty, portions of the premises on which they did not propose to sell drink. The only portions that they need pay duty upon are the portions they intend to use for the sale of intoxicating drink and it makes a very substantial difference in the duty. It may be that the matter has come to such a pass that they license the whole premises now.
If the Minister will look into the matter I will not pursue it further now.
I will have the wording of Section 2 considered more carefully.
As it stauds at present it is open to a good deal of evasion, that is as to the wording. Who is to determine where the sale usually takes place? Supposing there is a snuggery attached, or a number of snuggeries, would they be places where the sale usually takes place? As it stands at present I think the section is open to a very great deal of evasion.
I will have it looked into, sir.
Before I move an amendment to this section I should like, with your permission, to impart a little information in regard to what we were discussing a moment ago. There was a reference to the licensed houses in areas that were under discussion as being six-day licensed houses. I want to tell you that all these houses are seven-day licensed, therefore there was no attempt to turn these houses into seven-day licensed houses. The amendment I wish to move to this section is as follows:—
Section 3, sub-section (2).—To delete all after line 21, and substitute therefor the words "after the passing of this Act on the payment of increased licence duty shall have all the privileges of the holder of an ordinary six-day licence."
The paragraph or sub-section to which the amendment refers reads:—
"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 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."
There are 103 such licences in the Free State — early-closing licences. They are generally conducted in conjunction with grocery and provision stores, and the liquor business would not form 10 per cent. of the sales of such establishments. These establishments are under a decided disadvantage on Saturday nights. I know several of these establishments myself —there are three of them in Dundalk. They close at 7 o'clock five nights in the week—that is, they close voluntarily an hour or two before they are legally bound to do so, but on Saturday night as their customers come to call at the last moment, they open to the latest legal limit. They are put at a great disadvantage by the fact that rival houses can keep open to a later hour. Many of these are high-class grocery establishments and their customers are credit customers. They have book accounts. Consequently on these Saturday nights the heads of these families will go to the shops to make their purchases of groceries and provisions, and they will not have cognisance of the fact that there is a difference of one hour in the closing time as compared with other licensed premises. These shops are, therefore, placed at a great disadvantage.
There are only 103 of these shops, and as their case forms an anomaly in the licensing laws I would ask the Minister to give them a little special consideration, and by permitting them to pay an enhanced licence duty allow them to keep open to the same hour as other premises. At present they pay a duty which is not as high as the ordinary licence duty. I understand that they are quite willing to pay the full licence duty, even more if they are allowed the privileges that I claim for them. I think that is a reasonable demand. There are only 103 of these houses scattered over the 26 Counties, and, of course, they constitute a special difficulty for the Gárda in administering the licensing laws. There are three of them in Dundalk and they have to close at a different hour to premises in other parts of the town. These people are very respectable, high-class shopkeepers, mostly dealing in groceries and provisions, and the liquor trade is only a mere adjunct to their business. I would ask the Minister to consider the possibility of allowing them on the payment of a bigger licence duty to remain open till the same hour as other licensed houses.
I would impress upon the Minister not to increase the facilities for the consumption of drink in this country at all, for they are vastly too many already. Even though 103 of these houses seems a small number scattered over the country, apparently four-fifths of their business is not in liquor at all. Why, then, should we give them increased facilities for the sale of drink? I can see that eventually this question of superfluous facilities for drinking must be dealt with, and I can see that compensation claims, which it will be very hard to resist, will be made in respect of them, which poor John Citizen will have the privilege of paying. In such circumstances I would ask the Minister not to entertain any idea of increasing the already too numerous facilities for obtaining drink.
I would like to give Senators the elements of this problem so far as a problem can be said to exist. There are in Ireland roughly three kinds of licences at the moment.
There is the full seven-day licence which enables people to open every day, including Sunday in the four exempted cities, and for bona fide traffic every day, including Sunday. Then there is the six-day licensed house, at which no sale of any kind can take place on a Sunday, either for bona fide traffic or otherwise, and there are those licences to which the Senator has referred — the early-closing licence, which may be characteristic of either of the two classes of licence I have mentioned, that is, seven-day or six-day licences. The early-closing licence is a particular kind of licence which involves the closing of the houses an hour earlier than the ordinary statutory closing hour. These were brought into existence by an Act passed in 1874; that Act created the early-closing licence and permitted licence-holders to apply for the insertion in their licence of a condition of closing their premises an hour earlier than otherwise they would close, and in consideration of that a remission of one-seventh of the licence duty was allowed.
The 1902 Act restricted the creation of new licences, and under the provisions of that Act the converting of an early-closing licence into an ordinary licence is equivalent to the creation of a new licence. The 1902 Act, then, stereotyped the position for people who, under the 1874 Act had opted for earlier-closing licences, and had got the remission of one-seventh of their licence duty in consideration of that. So what the Senator is seeking is relief from the rigidity of the 1902 Act in favour of the one hundred odd licensed traders throughout the country who have early-closing licences. Remember that either they or their predecessors definitely availed of the Act of 1874 and sought this particular kind of licence with the remission of one-seventh of the duty. There again, to some extent, you have the question that was raised by Senator Fitzgerald's amendment. There are two possible cases; either a man himself took this step voluntarily, or else he bought a premises to which there was attached this restriction, that is, the kind of licence which necessitated the closing of the premises an hour earlier than the rest of the publichouses.
We can at any rate see the idea underlying the 1874 Act. There was, perhaps, a reluctance to impose upon the trade a general early-closing hour, but there was a feeling that an earlier closing hour was desirable, and a kind of compromise was effected to give facilities to traders to apply for a kind of licence that involved earlier closing and the inducement held out was the remission of one-seventh of the licence duty. Apparently, it was not much availed of in this country, because I think the Senator is right in his figures when he says that roughly only a hundred of such licences exist under our jurisdiction in the Free State. Taking these hundred, we have to ask ourselves whether there is any strong reason for coming to their relief. They may have bought their premises with this limitation attached; they may have paid a lower price upon that account. Wherever that is not the case either the man or his father took this step voluntarily and of his own accord; it was not a matter of compulsion. I think there is a good deal in what Senator Dowdall has said. The feeling in the country generally is that the 15,000 public-houses is a number grossly in excess of anything like reasonable requirements. I think the trade themselves are rather of opinion that the struggle for existence within their own ranks is too keen. I certainly have formed the view that a great deal of the irregularities and abuses that exist, exist because of the keenness of the struggle for existence in the trade.
We are hoping, therefore, to take steps towards a very substantial reduction in the number of licences, and that raises immediately the question of compensation. When you are considering the question of compensation, the question of the value of the premises necessarily arises, and I do not think we ought to take a step that enhances the value of premises even if the number is only 100, or 103. Why should we? This number, or some of them, may be the very premises which the trade themselves, with possibly some question of State assistance, will be buying out and closing down, as surplus to the real requirements of the area. I do not see the case for adding to the value of the premises. The Senator has not met that. His argument was based entirely upon the evidence of uniformity and that it would make things much easier for the police if every place in an area had to close at the same hour, and that it was inconvenient that the police should have to pay attention to a number of people closing at one particular hour, while their neighbours did not close until another hour. If on behalf of the police I can say that for the good of the State they are prepared to put up with that inconvenience, and that instead of taking the attitude the Senator indicates, I can point to the fact that we would be raising the value of the premises which may well be the very premises that the trade later on would be buying out, perhaps then we will hear a little more from the Senator.
Amendment put, and negatived.
Sections 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 agreed to and added to the Bill.
(1) It shall not be lawful for any licence holder to supply any intoxicating liquor for consumption on his premises or for any person to consume any intoxicating liquor on the premises in which it is purchased unless either—
(a) the intoxicating liquor is paid for in ready money before or at the time at which it is supplied and before it is consumed, or
(b) the intoxicating liquor is ordered and consumed at the same time as a meal is ordered and consumed, and is paid for at the same time as such meal is paid for.
(2) Every licence holder who shall supply, and every person who shall consume, any intoxicating liquor in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof in the case of a first offence to a penalty not exceeding five pounds, and in the case of any subsequent offence to a penalty not exceeding ten pounds, and in any case, if the person convicted is a licence holder, the conviction shall be recorded on his licence.
I beg to move Amendment 9:—
Section 8, sub-section (2). To add at the end of the sub-section the words "Provided that when the intoxicating liquor is consumed before it is paid for without the consent of the licence holder he shall not be guilty of an offence under this section."
I suggest there should be some alteration. This amendment needs alteration, because it is not quite clear whether it is to be consumed or whether it is to be paid for with the consent of the licence holder.
It should read: "Provided that the intoxicating liquor is consumed without the consent of the licence holder before it is paid for."
The amendment which I wish to propose appears on the Order Paper, but I am prepared to adopt the suggestion which you, A Chathaoirligh, made, so that it should then read:—
"Provided that when the intoxicating liquor is consumed without the consent of the licence holder before it is paid for he shall not be guilty of an offence under this section."
The object in giving a licence to the publican is for the benefit of the public and not primarily for the benefit of the publican. I take it that under that licence he is bound to supply every person who demands refreshments in his premises. My amendment is moved with the object of providing for the very few cases which may occur, where a person enters licensed premises and demands intoxicating liquor, consumes it, and does not pay for it. I am informed that that sometimes happens. In a case such as that it would be very unjust that the licence holder should be subject to these very drastic penalties that are mentioned in this section, and as a result of action to which he gave no consent and which was done against his wishes. I put it to the Minister that that is a matter which ought to be altered in the Bill. If the words in my amendment do not sufficiently meet the Minister's views I would be quite satisfied to have any words which would make it clear that the licence holder will not be punished for an action for which he was not responsible, and which he could not prevent. I would go so far as to say that even if it were necessary to throw the onus on the licence holder of proving that he did not consent to this being drunk before it was paid for, I would be satisfied then.
I think the amendment exactly as it stands may lead to a considerable amount of abuse. At the same time I think it is reasonable in a Bill of this kind that the proprietor should not be placed in an impossible position. It seems to me that as far as sub-section (a) is concerned the amendment would be open to abuse because it is made perfectly clear here that the drink is to be paid for before it is consumed. In the case of sub-section (b) in the same section, the publican is bound to supply the drink before it is consumed or paid for. It is quite usual to supply drink before it is paid for. Therefore if it were possible to apply this to (b) and not to (a) I would be very much opposed to it. If it applied to (a) I think it would be reasonable.
Senator Douglas and Senator Linehan seem to be in agreement on this. The only thing is that Senator Linehan is proposing this in his effort to try and get the publican out of an impossible position and to meet his obligations under this section. I feel certain that the Minister himself having heard both Senator Linehan and Senator Douglas, will see that there is a necessity for giving some protection to the publican more than to the person dealt with here. I am satisfied that he will do the needful in that respect.
The publican can always protect himself by requiring to be paid at the time the drink is supplied.
He can protect himself by not supplying drink at all.
It is not the custom when a person goes into a shop to purchase an article, to be asked by the shopkeeper to put down the money before he is supplied with the article he asks for.
I think it is rather usual in the case of drink.
I do not think so. I do not think you would have any customers if you were to ask them to put down the money before you supplied them with drink.
Under the law as it exists, if credit is given by a licensed trader, he has no remedy in law. He cannot recover for drink consumed on the premises. He is in the same position as the bookmaker who makes a bet and is deprived of the machinery of the courts to recover from the debtor. It is considered desirable to go further than that and to make the giving of credit by a licensed trader for drink sold and consumed on the premises an offence. This particular section was debated in the Dáil and it was significant, perhaps, that the Labour representatives were warmly in favour of it. I think that probably the majority of licensed traders will themselves welcome it because it puts them in a stronger and better position to be able to say definitely and quite truthfully that they are debarred from the giving of credit, that it is now an offence and that it is something which involves, perhaps, the risk of the loss of their licences, and so on. As long as it is not an offence, then the whole thing is on the basis of the good nature and generosity of the licensed trader, and he is open to pressure and persuasion with regard to it. We think it a bad thing that poor men should be going into licensed establishments and running up debts there out of proportion to their means. At a time when a man has had three, four, or five drinks, his future financial prospects may look to him extremely rosy-that he will have lots of money the day after to-morrow—and the tendency would be to have credit given easily so that he would pile up against himself a very serious debt which would be a millstone to him in his future.
If we could be clear, first of all, whether it is right and advisable to make this an offence, to make the giving of credit by a licensed trader an offence, we would have very much ground cleared. We could then move on to Senator Linehan's amendment. I am inclined to ask the Seanad to reject the amendment on the grounds that it is impracticable; that if you were to insert it, it would then become a matter of proven knowledge almost. A prosecution under this section, if it had the Senator's amendment included in it, would be a most difficult thing. There would practically be placed on the State representative the onus of proving a state of mind on the part of the publican, or proving that he knew that the particular drink was not going to be paid for at the time of the sale. I think that for practical administration you must take the other line, that the publican himself has a duty to see that he is paid across the counter for the goods he sells, and if in a particular case an illegal thing is done by a person going in and ordering a drink, of throwing it off and walking out, then that is something that must be established to the satisfaction of the District Justice before whom the prosecution is brought. It becomes a question of fact and of credibility.
If you leave in the Bill the loop-hole that is suggested in the amendment it practically places on the prosecution the onus of showing that the publican knew that this was a matter of credit and that there was no cash forthcoming at the time of the sale—that he was going to have to wait for his money. I ask Senators to put themselves in the position of a police officer or of a State Solicitor conducting a prosecution and endeavouring to prove a condition of mind on the part of the licensed trader. The licensed trader will get up and state with emphasis that he believed he was going to be paid. There has been known such a thing as complicity between a customer and a licensed trader to defeat the law and to defeat a prosecution. The case will be put up that this man walked in and ordered his drink, that he hurriedly drank it off, and that he had no money and said "I will pay you to-morrow." What remedy had the publican, and how could he possibly keep the law, and so on? I think it would be a matter of considerable difficulty to enforce this section if the amendment were accepted.
I would make a suggestion which, perhaps, may comfort the consumer and the publican, which may give the protection Senator Linehan requires and which would still make this a practicable section. Supposing sub-section (2) were to read in this way: "Every licence holder who shall wilfully supply and every person who shall consume," etc. Now, "wilfully" is a well-known legal term, and the prosecution could always prove, at least in nine cases out of ten, that the liquor was given on credit, that he went away without paying for it, and that would be an offence of wilfully supplying drink on credit. I would suggest, if Senator Linehan would withdraw his amendment, and if the Minister would agree to the inclusion of the word "wilfully," that both would gain in the matter.
That leaves the matter in the position pointed out by the Minister. How would a person prove he did it wilfully?
Once he allows him to go away without paying he is doing it wilfully.
But unless he takes him by the neck, what is he going to do?
In nine cases out of ten the mere fact that he went away without paying would be sufficient to establish "wilfully supplying" on credit.
I am entirely in favour of the provision in the Bill to prevent any credit being given to persons who frequent licensed premises. I wish to point out that as the section now stands, even though it is proved before a District Justice that a person went in and ordered drink and drank it off in the way mentioned by the Minister, the District Justice would be bound to convict the publican. The fact that he proved that it was done without his consent would not free him from the charge unless you put in some words such as are suggested in my amendment to cover cases of drink being consumed without the consent of the licensed holder. As regards the difficulty of proof, I suggested when moving my amendment that I was quite willing that the onus should be put on the licensed holder of proof whether he did or not consent to the consumption of liquor before it was paid for.
As regards sub-sections (a) and (b), in the case of (a) the onus is thrown on the publican to receive payment for the actual drink consumed. Under (b) you can have a drink with a meal and, as we all know, it is not the practice to pay for a meal until after you have taken it, so that you really have consumed the drink with the meal before payment is made. There is a different principle involved in sub-sections (a) and (b). If in sub-section (a) you leave out the last four words, "before it is consumed," the sub-section would then read: "the intoxicating liquor is paid for in ready money before or at the time at which it is supplied." The four words which I suggest should be deleted form the impracticable part of the sub-section. In practice you cannot withhold drink from a person, that is, if you bear in mind what the practice is amongst those engaged in the trade in the country. It has been stated here that if a publican were to hold on to the glass after he had filled out the measure of drink and were to say to the man outside the counter, "Give me your money," it would simply end that man's business. It would be a very discourteous thing to do, because it would be impugning the man's bona fides and his honesty, and it would be a direct insult to him. Our legislation must be of a practical kind. If you eliminate the words "before it is consumed" in sub-section (a) I think that would overcome the difficulty.
It occurs to me that if a proviso to this effect were added at the end of the section it might meet the case: "Provided that no licence holder shall be liable to conviction under this section if he satisfies the court that the failure to pay for the intoxicating liquor was not caused by his privity or consent."
I am quite satisfied to accept that.
That certainly meets my difficulty about proving a guilty state of mind on the part of the licensed trader. It rather puts on him the onus of proving the non-guilty state of mind, which is better, and perhaps if we could get an amendment drafted on these lines and inserted on the Report Stage it would be well.
In the circumstances I am prepared to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment withdrawn; the matter to be considered on Report.
(1) It shall not be lawful for any licence holder to supply any intoxicating liquor in bottles unless such bottles are of standard sizes to be prescribed by the Minister for Justice.
(2) Every licence holder who shall supply any intoxicating liquor in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a penalty not exceeding five pounds, and in the case of any subsequent offences, to a penalty not exceeding ten pounds.
On Section 9, I would ask the indulgence of the Seanad to have moved in substitution for the section, a section somewhat different. The only effect of the alteration would be to make this section permissive rather than, as it now stands, mandatory, as regards the powers of the Minister for Justice to prescribe standard bottles. Senators reading Sub-section (1) will notice that, as it stands, it would leave no option for the Minister but to prescribe standard receptacles, at any rate, for all kinds of intoxicating liquors, including whiskey, wines, liqueurs, and so on. A section on these lines would probably be better:—
To delete the section and insert in lieu thereof the following section:—
9.—(1) The Minister may by order prescribe the sizes of the bottles in which any specified intoxicating liquor may be sold, and where any such order is in force it shall not be lawful to sell or supply the intoxicating liquor specified in the order in bottles of any size other than one of the sizes prescribed by the order.
(2) Every person who shall sell or supply any intoxicating liquor in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable, on summary conviction thereof, in the case of a first offence, to a penalty not exceeding five pounds, and in the case of any subsequent offence, to a penalty not exceeding ten pounds.
That would leave it open to the Minister for Justice from time to time to avail of the section where he considers that availing of it would be of practical benefit to the public. But it would remove the present position which, inadvertently, is the result of the drafting of the section as it stands, namely, that there would be obligation on the Minister to proceed to state the standard receptacle for every class of intoxicating liquor, which is not really what is desired. As a matter of fact, the only thing there was any particular advertence to when the section was being inserted, was the present position with regard to stout, where you have bottles in use through the country differing fairly widely in the amount of liquor which they contain; differing, I understand, as much as from twelve to the gallon to sixteen to the gallon. The sixteen to the gallon bottle is the one most widely in use in the country, I understand probably to the extent of about ninety, or ninety-two, or ninety-three per cent., and would be obviously the most suitable one for standard purposes, inasmuch as it is the half-pint measure. The same standard is obviously desirable in the case of drink like that, that is largely consumed in the country. People ought to know just what they are getting. I think a permissive section, as distinct from a mandatory one, would be a useful section in the Bill, and I ask the Seanad to accept the substituted section.
Would the substituted section leave things exactly as they are, unless the Minister chooses to move in the matter? I take it that is the intention.
It is the intention to move in the matter of stout.
In the hands of the Minister, to move or not to move, as he thinks fit? Otherwise things will remain as they are.
I beg to move the amendment read by the Minister. I was thinking of putting down an amendment myself, but I decided not to do so.
In putting this amendment I may mention that, in view of the fact that it is not on the Order Paper and no notice has been given of it I shall receive any amendment to it on the Report Stage which any Senator chooses to put down.
I beg to move:—"Immediately after the word `supply' in line 5, to insert the words `or who shall allow any person to supply.' "
My reason is to make the position in Section 10 much more clear. The amendment is really taking a provision from Section 11 in a similar matter. My object is to have uniformity in the matter, so that the publican will be responsible for his assistant, just the same as in Section 11.
The amendment is quite acceptable, but I had a doubt as to the need for it. I was inclined to the view that the licensed trader was in any case accountable, and legally responsible, for his agents. If the Senator has any doubt of that, I do not think any harm could be done by removing any doubt and inserting the words proposed. I accept the amendment.
I beg to move:—
"Section 11, Sub-section (2). To delete in line 22 the word `knowingly.' "
In that matter I should like to draw attention to the difference between the meaning of the word "knowingly" in Sub-section (1) and in Sub-section (2). In Sub-section (1) the onus is placed on the trader that he shall not supply intoxicating liquor to any person under the age of eighteen, and it provides that he shall not do so knowingly. Although I admit that that might lead to some abuse, I am not proposing to delete it there, because the trader may not have the opportunity of knowing the age of a person whom he supplies. In the case of Sub-section (2), however, it refers to the person who sends the child. I suggest that if any child is sent, it is the business of the person sending to know the age of the child. In that case, it does not seem that the word "knowingly" has any value; in fact, it might lead to abuse.
"Section 11, Sub-section (4). To delete all after the word `purchaser' in line 36."
This amendment would have the effect of preventing persons of the age of fifteen being sent, even provided that they were only supplied with intoxicating liquor in closed vessels. I put down that amendment for the purpose of calling the Minister's attention to what seems to me to be a certain amount of inconsistency. For my part, I would prefer to have the age eighteen, but it seems absurd to say that a person under eighteen must not be sent, while it is provided that a person under that age may be supplied in a sealed vessel. I think that if the principle of Sub-section (2) of Section 11 is correct, there is no reason why it should be supplied under that age, as provided in (b) and (c). As the section stands, I doubt if the words "except as hereinafter mentioned" would meet the case. I think I have made my position reasonably clear, and I hope the Minister will consider the matter.
The Bill provides that persons over fifteen, but under eighteen, may take delivery of liquor, provided it is in sealed vessels. There is, of course, no restriction at all over the age of eighteen years. As between fifteen and eighteen, persons may take delivery of liquor, provided the liquor is in sealed vessels. The Senator disapproves of persons between fifteen and eighteen being allowed to take delivery, even in sealed vessels. That raises the whole question of boy messengers and the question of the woman at home with growing children with, perhaps, household duties detaining her, sending a boy of fifteen or sixteen years of age for stout or porter for the husband's dinner. That is the kind of case usually put in connection with this provision. It is a matter for argument really, and I have no very pronounced views on it. If the amendment is carried, I will put it to the Dáil.
I do not think the Minister has quite understood my point of view in the matter. If sub-section (2), which provides that they shall not be sent to the premises under the age of eighteen, is to be carried out, I think it is absurd to provide the second clause, on the grounds that it would be practically impossible to carry out the law and decide what they were sent for. I doubt if the provision for sending them does not really prohibit them going and getting it, unless it was handed to them outside. Section 12 provides that you cannot employ a female person under eighteen, or a male under 16, so that there is a certain amount of inconsistency in the whole position. I would be prepared to leave the matter over until the Report Stage.
I do not quite understand the meaning of the words "corked" and "sealed." Is the ordinary bottle of stout to be corked and sealed? I gather it is only corked, and if that is the case it would prevent the person referred to from accepting delivery of an ordinary bottle of stout.
You could not very well seal it unless it was corked.
I must say I cannot get the Senator's argument as to the inconsistency between the two provisions in sub-sections (2) and (4). The purpose of sub-section (4) is to lay down certain exceptions to the general effect of the foregoing sub-section.
Sub-section (2) provides that they shall not be sent to any place where it is sold.
Later on certain exceptions are provided.
"Except as hereinafter mentioned." It provides an exception to the portion for sale, but not an exception for sending. I am not inclined to quarrel about it, but it reads inconsistently.
Sub-section (4) (c) is obviously an exception to sub-section (2). It is inconsistent with sub-section (2). but the inconsistency is noted. Sub-section (2) provides that except as hereinafter mentioned any person who knowingly sends any person under the age of eighteen years to any place where intoxicating liquor is sold is guilty of an offence. Sub-section (4) (c) says—
the sending of a person over the age of fifteen years to obtain intoxicating liquor, if such liquor is delivered to such persons in a corked and sealed vessel containing not less than one reputed pint——"
Is there any objection to leaving out the word "sealed"? Is there any magic in it?
I think there might be. It must be worked in a manner that the cork cannot be readily extracted. I imagine that what is intended is: it is to be corked in a manner so that you would have to use a cork-screw or some apparatus to extract the cork, and so that any person would not be readily able, between the house of supply and the home to which it is being brought, to open it.
I think if you could extract the cork the fact that there was a seal would not make much difference.
In the 1901 Act these terms are defined, and one of the amendments I propose asking the Seanad to accept is one defining these words. It would be as follows:—
Section 11.—To add at the end of the section the following additional sub-sections:—
(5) In this section the word "corked" means closed with a plug or stopper, whether it is made of cork or wood, or glass or some other material. The word "sealed" means secured with any substance without the destruction of which the plug, cork or stopper cannot be withdrawn.
Will you let your amendment, Senator Douglas, wait over until the Report Stage?
I have failed to make my particular point. My point really is that you cannot send to a place where intoxicating liquor is sold anyone under 18 years, even for the purpose of buying it, and we have not got the structural alterations done yet. However, as the Bill stands, there seems to be a certain inconsistency in it, because it looks to me as though if you want to send a child to buy tea you must tell him to get liquor also in a cork-sealed bottle. I would like the Minister to look into that. Otherwise I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.
You see in sub-section (2) of Section 11 the person to be sent, under the age of 18, to the place where intoxicating liquor is sold must be sent for the purpose of obtaining liquor.
The Minister was dealing with the administration of the law. My point is that while you have that section there it will be practically impossible to administer sub-section (2). However, I think it is better to withdraw this amendment for the present without prejudice to bringing this matter up again.
The Minister proposes to insert a new paragraph before paragraph (b), and perhaps some Senator would move it. The new paragraph reads:
"The employment by a licensed person of a member of his family or a servant or apprentice as messenger to deliver intoxicating liquor in sealed or corked vessels."
I beg to move the amendment.
Perhaps the Minister would explain the effect of it.
The effect of it is to make another exception to the general effect of Section 11. The exception would be that it would be lawful for a licensed trader to avail of the services of a member of his family or an employee or apprentice to deliver intoxicating liquor in sealed or corked vessels even though such person might be between the ages of 15 and 18.
The wording in this connection is "sealed or corked," and in another part it is "sealed and corked."
It applies to different places.
The idea of sealing is to enable those who sent the child to detect afterwards whether the child had tampered with the cork. But if they did not put on the seal he could tamper with the cork and draw it, and perhaps extract some of the liquor and put the cork back again.
This only applies to cases where the licensee employs a servant or member of his family to deliver intoxicating liquor.
Then there is the amendment that the Minister has already read out defining the meaning of the expression "corked" and the meaning of the expression "sealed." Will some Senator kindly move it.
I beg to move it.
Then it is proposed to add an additional sub-section at the end of Section 11, to read:
"(5) In this section the word `corked' means closed with a plug or stopper, whether it is made of cork, or wood, or glass, or some other material. The word `sealed' means secured with any substance without the destruction of which the cork, plug or stopper cannot be withdrawn."