SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - INTOXICATING LIQUOR BILL, 1924 (THIRD STAGE—RESUMED).

I beg to move:—

Immediately before Section 12 to insert a new Section 12 as follows:—

(1) From and after the 25th day of September, 1926, it shall not be lawful to carry on any business (except the businesses hereinafter expressly authorised) in the same building as that in which the business of the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises is carried on, unless the portion of the building in which such sale of intoxicating liquor is carried on is structurally separated from and has no internal communication with any portion of the building in which any other business (except as aforesaid) is carried on.

(2) From and after the 25th day of September, 1926, the renewal of a licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises may be objected to on the ground that some other business (not being one of the businesses hereinafter expressly authorised) is carried on in the same building as that in which the sale of intoxicating liquor under such licence is carried on and that the portion of the building in which such sale of intoxicating liquor is carried on is not structurally separated from or has an internal communication with the portion of the building in which the other business aforesaid is carried on.

(3) Every licence holder who shall carry on the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding one pound for every day on which the offence is continued.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, it shall be lawful to carry on all or any of the following businesses in the same premises or portion of a building as that in which the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises is carried on, that is to say, the sale of tobacco, matches, and table waters, and the sale or supply of food for consumption on the premises.

(5) This section shall not apply to the sale of intoxicating liquor in any premises structurally adapted for use and bona fide exclusively used as a hotel, refreshment house, restaurant, or railway refreshment room, or to any theatre, music hall or other place of public amusement.

(6) No premises shall be included in the lists for revision under the Irish Valuation Acts merely on account of an alteration made to such premises, before the 25th day of September, 1926, solely for the purpose of enabling the provisions of this section to be complied with in regard to such premises.

I am afraid we have a very small House to discuss this amendment, but I suppose it cannot be helped. The object of my amendment is to make a division between the place of sale of groceries and other provisions and the place where drink is sold. I would like to point out that this section was not drawn up by me. I merely copied it from the original section that was brought before the Dáil by the Minister and thrown out on a free vote by the Dáil. The only change I have made is that I have changed the year to 1926 instead of 1925. The object of that is to give traders reasonable time to make the necessary changes in their houses and not to press them too hard. I would like also to point out that the rule that is intended to be enforced by this new section has been enforced for many years in England, and nobody would think in England of allowing drink to be consumed at the same counter as groceries. It is also the rule in the North-East of Ireland. A Bill was brought in the other day and passed through the Parliament of the North-East of Ireland, in Belfast, with practically the same object. I do not know why there should be a different system in the South of Ireland unless, of course, the system in the South was better. If it were a better system, of course, we would all agree to it, but, as far as I know, everybody in Ireland for years back, as long as I remember, has condemned this system. I never heard anyone say a word in favour of it except those who have licensed houses, and, of course, I do not blame them. Naturally they want to stick to whatever they have, and make as much money as they can, but I never heard anyone else in any part of Ireland say it was a good thing.

The object of this amendment is not to prevent people from drinking, or to prevent them from drinking at particular times. It is to enable people who want drink to go to a place specially provided for drink, and not to place other people in such a position that they will be persuaded and coaxed to drink and find it very difficult to refuse drink. Everybody, at least a person who comes from the country, knows perfectly well that when you go into a shop which is also a licensed house to buy groceries or necessaries of any kind, down at the end, or at the back, there is a counter where drink is sold, and if a customer is an old customer and is well known, he is generally taken down and given drink. I, myself, have often been asked to take a drink in such a shop. I suppose everybody has. Not only would they be asked by the owner of the house, but other customers coming in there to make bargains after fairs and markets invite such people and others accompanying them to have a drink. If they like to have a drink, let them go to a place labelled for such purpose. There is nothing to stop them. But very often people who do not want drink are coaxed and persuaded to have drink and they are frequently ashamed to refuse because, unfortunately, in this country people have an idea that it is a hospitable thing to offer drink and an unkind thing to refuse it. Why they should do that I do not know, but there it is. Too many people, who would sooner do without it, drink in such places.

Of course, as I said before, the licensed traders are against this section. Many of them have shops which they find it difficult or expensive to change. I do not want to conceal that. It is a fact, and their opposition is based on the injury which they see to their own personal interests. But what are the rest of the people of Ireland to do? Is their position improved or are they damaged in their pockets, in their health, or in their business by this method? I think that is what we should look at. Everybody knows perfectly well that this system is a bad system. Persons going in there to buy groceries are persuaded to go down and have a drink at the end of the shop. If they had to go into a real drinking-bar they would not care to do so. The Bill, as at present before us, aims at preventing children from coming into contact with drink. But that is not so easy where you have a mixed trade in a shop, as it is where the bar is separate. It is a difficult matter to prevent children coming into contact with drink where you have a shop in which a mixed trade is carried on. You begin by giving the children a taste for drink long before they should have any taste for it, and you lay a foundation which saps the manhood of the child in after years. That is responsible for ruining the trade and the industry of the country.

I ask Senators are they going to vote for the interests of a certain class of trade, or are they going to vote for the interests of the people of Ireland, men, women and children, not only the present generation but the future generations? Are they going, at the dictates of a certain trade, to vote for the continuation of a system that is admitted by everybody to be a disgrace to the country, and which is in force in no other country that I know of? I think Senators will hesitate before they do that. I know that the political and social influences of the trade are very great indeed. Numbers of people tell me —and of course I am not speaking of the Seanad now—that they would like to stop these influences, but they do not know how. The force of the trade is too strong. Are we all cowards in this country? Are we not to do what is right because there is a great force, not of public opinion, against us—because that now is in our favour—but because people belonging to a particular trade are against it? Some people will say that damage has been done to them already, and they do not think it would be fair to put certain traders in a particular difficulty; they might have to spend money, and so on, and they do not think that that would be fair.

What happened to the landlords in Ireland when they were considered to be an incubus to the country? The landlords, of course, were very few and very influential, and the result was that laws were passed practically confiscating their land, and confiscating half their incomes, perhaps more than half. I myself lost more than half my income. I am not complaining of that. I was always in favour of that. It was a necessity. It was necessary that the people of Ireland should come into the land, but here again why should we do it to one class and not to another. Is it because they are more influential in the country and that that may stand for something at elections when they come about? Is that going to be the reason? I hope not, and I do not think it is so. I hope that Senators will join with me in this. I have put off the date for making this change by a year, and I would be willing to put it off further, even to the year 1927. I would do anything to get sanction for the abolition of this system as soon as possible.

Some people say there is going to be a Commission, but that is the usual way when there is a difficulty. We will not do to-day what we can put off till to-morrow. That is what usually happens. If anything disagreeable is proposed, a Commission may not force us to do it, and somebody else will have the blame, so "let us put it off." Let us be strong. Let us do what everyone in the country wants done and which even the publicans themselves think it right and proper to do. I do not think it necessary to read through this long amendment which is on the paper, and you all know as much as I do about it. You all know that the present system is bad. I do not think there is anyone here who can deny that proposition. I appeal to the Seanad to do this one great thing for Ireland—possibly the greatest thing that has been done for Ireland since the Seanad came into being, and perhaps the greatest thing done for Ireland in the last 100 years.

I wish to second the amendment, from the women's point of view, because I think it will do more to promote temperance amongst women than all the other clauses put together. Few women, except indeed their craving for drink is an overmastering thirst, will quite deliberately go alone into a publichouse where every passer-by will see them and know that the only thing they can buy there is drink. It is, however, a different business where they can go into a grocery or provision store where nobody but the vendor is any the wiser of what they are doing. There the young housekeeper, be she wife or sister or daughter, when ill, or wet, or perhaps tired or heated, is tempted by the totally unnecessary facilities for drink afforded by licensed grocers, and general stores. In nine cases out of ten it is possibly out of sheer good nature and through a perverted idea of good-fellowship for others, some one offers a glass of something comforting, refreshing or invigorating, and the first fatal step is taken, almost unwittingly, on the downward path of intemperance and possibly the habit of drinking strong drink between meals is contracted. Nobody would be the worse for having these facilities withdrawn. We all know that it is only the first step that is difficult and that when they cannot get these things so easily a lot of women would not think of taking such a step on their own account. Whether we have the welfare of the family at heart or the rights of the country, when we see the section of the original draft of the Bill we realise what kind of want it was that it was meant to meet. We bitterly regret that the Minister consented to its deletion in the Dáil, but we hope it will be reinstated now and make the Bill what it ought to have been, because we all know how often the temptation to do ill-deeds results in ill-deeds being done. I hope the Seanad will pass this amendment so emphatically and so unanimously that it will hearten the Minister to see that it is carried in the Dáil later.

I am sorry I cannot agree to Senator Colonel Moore's amendment to this Bill. I suggest to Senator Colonel Moore that he should be satisfied to leave the matter open until the commission has reported on the question of giving compensation to publicans who would not be in a position to make these alterations. Otherwise you will drive them compulsorily out of business, because that is what will be done if a man cannot afford to make these alterations. In that case you would be creating enemies against the State. That is what happened in the United States in 1919. There were men in the trade at that time who were loyal supporters of the Government, and who were willing to do anything they could for the good conduct of the trade. In that year a Bill came along which actually confiscated their property. Some of these people had paid as much as one hundred thousand dollars for their property, but they were wiped out by a stroke of the pen. The result was that they were driven into illegal distillation and into illegal trade. The same thing would eventually happen here if we were to drive people out of trade without any form of compensation. It does not matter how small a man's trade may be, if he is driven out of it compulsoritly it will make him very dissatisfied. If people are driven out of the trade in this way in Ireland, we will only be making enemies for the State. At the same time you will have people keeping the bottle hidden in some place where it is not allowed to be kept by law. You may be sure that some of these people will find a way to carry on an illegal business. Hence, I think it would be better if we left this matter over until the commission went into it and provided some form of compensation for those who will be obliged to go out of the trade.

This is a subject on which I am sure a great many of us have strong opinions. Personally, I am a moderate drinker myself. I do not like to interfere with the liberty of the subject. This liberty, however, to serve drink in the same shop and to go in for it by the same entrance as that in which other goods are sold is, I think, a great scandal. I have known most estimable characters who, for one reason or another, have become addicted to drink, and I also know the great struggle they have made to resist the temptations offered them. You can imagine the difficulty of a man keeping to his pledge when he goes in to buy, it may be a package of groceries, and if, at the same time, he meets some of his old friends who bring him to the bar in the shop which is, perhaps, only five yards away. We all know how difficult it is for a man to resist temptation of that kind. I have known many relapses that have occurred for that reason.

There is many a man who would pass the door of a public-house, but when he has to go in for goods, such as groceries, to a shop which has a drinking bar as well as a grocery counter, he finds it impossible to resist the solicitations of his friends. I cannot see that it is a great hardship on general traders who carry on mixed trading if they are to be obliged to put up the structural alterations which were originally provided for in this Bill. We all know that the drink portion of their trade is the most lucrative part of it, and all they are asked to do is to have a separate entrance to that portion of their premises which provides them with the most profitable part of their trade. The public, especially those who are trying to keep away from drink, have temptations put before them when they go into some of these shops to buy ribbons or tin tacks. They meet a friend in the shop, and in order not to offend him they go to the bar in that shop and take a drink with him. On this matter I think that nothing should prevent us from giving a vote according to our consciences. No fear of political results should deter us from doing so. Fortunately we never consider these things in our position as Senators. I would strongly urge on Senators who think with me and who must realise that this mixed trading offers too many temptations in the way of drinking, to vote strongly in favour of the amendment.

On the general principle I entirely agree with the last speakers. Incidentally, I desire to congratulate Senator Molloy on placing his point of view so moderately and reasonably before us. I think that one of the reasons why it was not possible to carry this section in the Dáil was due to the fact that the time given for its consideration was comparatively short. For my part, if the Seanad would be more ready to insert this principle in the Bill in, say, two years, I am sure Senator Colonel Moore would agree, and I would welcome that if it were to meet the difficulty. At any rate, I think it would be better to show that we are prepared to recognise the practical difficulties that may exist. The principle, I believe, is an absolutely right one. I believe, too, it is one which the trade, at least the section of the trade which represents the very large number who are really anxious that their trade should be carried on in the best possible way, would wish to see carried. I believe, too, that two years is a reasonable time to allow for the making of the structural alterations in the premises. The point has been made that there may be many traders who have not the means at the present moment to carry out the alterations.

If this change were to be made suddenly, say in a week or two, I think there would be legitimate cause for complaint in certain cases, but if a reasonable time is given, then I do not think that argument will hold water, for the reason that we all know perfectly well that a licence of itself is of value. It would be comparatively easy for the licensed trader, if he is given reasonable time, either to raise the money necessary on the value of his licence to make the alterations himself, or if he does not wish to do that, then he can sell the licence to someone who has the money and who is prepared to carry on the trade under the conditions provided in the Bill. I hope, however, that the Seanad will enunciate the principle which is in this motion, because I believe it is one that is absolutely right. I do not know how Senator O'Farrell feels on this particular amendment. Yesterday he suggested-I do not know whether he fully meant it or not-that we should not express our opinion on this, for fear that when the Bill came back from the Dáil we would not insist on our opinion. I emphatically dissent from that point of view. It is not undignified for either House to compromise afterwards, but it would be undignified for either House not to state what its convictions were, just because of the fear that the other House might send back the Bill. Though there may be sections which we might give way on, I certainly hope no Senator will vote because of the fear that afterwards we may give way.

One small matter overlooked in this Bill is that in many small public-houses in the country the premises are so situated that it is impossible to divide them into two parts. On the other hand it is perfectly possible for the publicans to give up the non-licensed part of their business, and be publicans only. So that their great objection to the Clause falls to the ground. I do not want to do any injustice to the publicans, but on the whole I think if the amendment were made to read as coming into force in 1927 it could be supported by the Seanad.

The motion of Senator Colonel Moore is one that I have very great sympathy with. But I do not think it is practicable. There are many thousand such houses in the West of Ireland. It has been said that the licensed portion of the business is the most profitable in these mixed businesses. I do not believe that. But in any case I do not believe a change could be made at present. The financial position of many of the country shopkeepers I know is very bad at present. They are not able, regularly, to pay their accounts, and they are not certainly able to spend £100 or £200 in making structural alterations in their premises. It would be a great thing, I admit, if it could be done, but I do not think that the time is yet opportune for it. If the Minister would say that in this commission which he is going to set up, he would bring in this very subject as one of the principal terms of reference, I think it would be far better than passing the class of amendment now before us, and which could not be given effect to or put into force for two years. If it were to hang over the property of the publicans for that period it would have the effect of depreciating the value of these premises all through the country. There would be hundreds of these people who in the meantime would have to sell their places and get rid of them before the term would elapse, and this clause would depreciate the value of their property by 50 per cent. It would meet Senator Colonel Moore's case eminently well if the Minister would say that he would make this very subject one of the principal terms of reference for the commission which he has promised to set up.

This amendment, as the Senators know, and as has been pointed out, was simply copied from the original draft of the Bill. It embodies the principle which was rejected after a good deal of discussion by a free and non-party vote of the Dáil. I was impressed to some extent by the considerations that were advanced in the Dáil, but mainly by the consideration that Senator McLysaght has mentioned, that there are some premises so small that they are incapable of being partitioned off and suitably divided. There are considerations of space, and light, and so on, entering into the question. Yet the thing is undoubtedly an evil. I asked that instead of simply negativing the principle, that amendments would be put down in the Dáil purporting rather to meet the cases in which the application of the principle would cause undue hardship or inconvenience or expense. But the matter was met by a simple bald negative. Personally, I do not believe that there is a prospect of getting the Dáil to accept the principle embodied in the amendment at this stage, and I would be sorry to see the Bill hung up for the period of suspension which is in the power of the Seanad, for the sake of that principle.

There is an aspect which has scarcely been touched on and which I would like to touch on briefly, and it is this, that for the last 30 or 40 or 50 years, you had licences dealt out in a haphazard, irresponsible way by our own honorary magistrates, who did not attend the ordinary petty sessions courts and perform the ordinary duties of their office, turning in to a licensing session to vote for licences for friends and neighbours with a minimum of advertence to the real requirements of the particular area. One result of that is that the newly-fledged publican who started out in the belief that he had struck a gold mine, discovered very soon that he had not struck a gold mine, and soon afterwards discovered that it was going to be a difficult business to make ends meet. He found, perhaps, that he was superfluous in the trade. And finding that, he gets in the local carpenter and knocks up another counter, and opens out in another and distinct line of business. The fact is that he is superfluous in both; and we have had here for the last 30, 40 or 50 years a steady multiplication of petty distributors, and distribution has outrun the real requirements of the people. And the people all the time pay for that superfluity of distributors.

The position is that you have in a little town to-day 50 or 60 small distributors, and the people of the district have, in increased prices, to pay for them and their families, when, perhaps, 20 years ago the people were paying for half that number. A very credulous person might believe it was all to the good, that the increased competition would keep prices down. If there is anyone in the country who believes in that particular myth, I would like to meet him and to congratulate him on his credulity. I believe that the ordinary person will hold the view that the prices are ruled by the weakest link to allow the least efficient of the distributors sufficient to maintain himself and his family. The consumer pays in high prices, and the producer pays in low prices. There is that evil very widespread to-day, and what I have urged in the Dáil and what I would urge here is the necessity of a reversal of engines in that process which led to the multiplication of the small distributors in the country.

Whether we are dealing with that matter now or whether we take the view expressed by Senator Molloy, I think that the Commission should rather advise us how best to reverse the engine on the question of the excess of licences beyond the real requirements of the country. The view I take is that there is a problem there which must be dealt with, and that it is ridiculous to think in this country that you can have a public-house for every 200 head of our population, men, women and children. Without perhaps any reduction, an attempt might be made to meet it by the elimination of the small houses which do not conveniently admit of structural separation, and the people in that position should opt for one trade or the other at any rate. The licence attached to a house which is not capable of being conveniently divided structurally should be one of the licences marked down for the extinction or extermination which would be aimed at. It may be thought when a reduction of one-third or one-half of the licences in the country has been effected it would be easier to enforce on the remainder a division of their premises so that the liquor trade and the other trade now done in these premises might be kept quite distinct and separate from one another.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Senator O'Dea asked whether the Government were in a position to say that this matter would form the subject of special reference to the Commission.

It would certainly be one of the big questions that would need to go before the commission, seeing that there is not a disposition in the Dáil to deal with it in the present Bill. On the general question of the amendment, personally I would not consider that its passing here to-day would be a tremendous gain, for the simple reason that its prospects of being accepted elsewhere are small, and if there came a conflict between the two Houses, the net result would be the suspension of the Bill for nine months, which, naturally, I would not like, and which I do not really believe the licensed trade in the country would like, although collectively they may say something different. I believe that they recognise that the Bill is a reasonable, moderate and proper measure, and that they would be sorry enough to see it suspended.

The mover of the amendment has put the case that these licences are held from the State, which means from the people. Licence holders have in fact a monopoly in the sense in which no other traders have a monopoly. People are prevented by law from entering into competition with them; and the people are entitled to say in what manner they shall be served, and are entitled to say that, if this particular trade is carried on, it shall be carried on separate from any other trade, and that their wives, sons and daughters going in for groceries shall not have to go through a place where men are standing about drinking. I believe that if the Dáil were to take a different view of it, the people are entitled to say, through their representatives, that the state of affairs which has existed up to the present shall end, and that business of that kind should be carried on separate from any other business.

I am not very much impressed by the talk of expense; that it would run to hundreds of pounds. Simply a lath and plaster partition in any house would not run to anything like that figure. Where I would be impressed is by the consideration that certain small houses could not be divided because of space, light, or some such difficulty. The expense would be a small thing, and the people—from whom these licences are held—through their governmental fabric, through their State, are eminently entitled to say they shall be served under better and decenter conditions. I do not agree that it raises or should raise the question of compensation. The only aspect of the matter that impresses me in the least is the practical difficulty, and I think the small houses, in which practical difficulties of space and light exist, are the houses in which we should aim at an extinction of the licence, when reductions in the number of licences are being effected.

I would like to correct the Minister's impression when he says that prices are ruled by the weakest link. The carriage on a waggon of Guinness's porter from Dublin to Roscommon is £10 2s. 6d. In Roscommon you can buy a bottle of Guinness's stout at 6d., while in Dublin it is 8d. to 9d. A pint of XX is sold at 8d. in Roscommon, while I suppose it would cost a shilling in Dublin.

I was speaking generally rather than with special reference to the price of drink. I was speaking on the question of whether generally with regard to commodities of every kind, it can be truly said that competition fixed prices.

With the permission of the Seanad I would like to alter the date to 1927.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I was going to suggest that you should alter the last four lines so that they would read in this way:—

"No premises shall be included in the lists for revision under the Irish Valuation Acts merely on account of an alteration made to such premises, before the 25th day of September, 1927, if such alteration has been made for the sole purpose of complying with the provisions of the section."

That is what is meant by your amendment. This does not alter the sense in any way.

Leave given to alter the amendment.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 8.

  • J.G. Douglas.
  • William Barrington.
  • Mrs. Costello.
  • Countess of Desart.
  • Sir Nugent T. Everard.
  • Thomas Foran.
  • Benjamin Haughton.
  • C.J. Irwin.
  • Edward MacLysaght.
  • Col. Moore.
  • Mrs. Wyse Power.
  • Dr. Sigerson.

Níl

  • Peter de Loughry.
  • Thomas Linehan.
  • J.C. Love.
  • Edward MacEvoy.
  • William J. Molloy.
  • Michael O'Dea.
  • J.T. O'Farrell.
  • Bernard O'Rourke.
Amendment declared carried.
SECTION 12.
Any licence holder who employs or permits—
(a) any female person being his sister, step-sister, daughter, stepdaughter, or sister-in-law residing with him and being under the age age of sixteen years
(b) any other female person being under the age of eighteen years, or
(c) any male person under the age of sixteen years
to sell any description of intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises of the licence holder 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 the conviction shall be recorded on the licence of the licence holder so convicted.
Government amendment:—
Section 12; paragraph (c), line 51, immediately after the word "years" to insert the words "other than an apprentice under an indenture of apprenticeship made before the 1st day of November, 1924."

I beg to move the amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section, as amended, put and agreed to.
Section 13 put and agreed to.
SECTION 14.
(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Expiring Laws Act, 1923 (No. 47 of 1923), the Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1902, as amended by this section shall continue in force until the Oireachtas otherwise determines.
(2) In the construction of the Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1902, the expression "increase of population" shall, from and after the passing of this Act be taken to mean an increase of the population according to the last census of not less than twenty-five per cent. over the population according to the census taken in the year 1901.
(3) In this Act every other Act of the Oireachtas, whether passed before or after this Act, the expression "The Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1833 to 1905" shall include the Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1902.

I move:—

Section 14, sub-section (3). Immediately before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section (3) as follows:—

(3) Section 5 of the Licensing (Ireland) Act, 1902, shall be construed as if the same applied to applications for transfer, assignment, or renewal of licences under the Licensing (Ireland) Acts, 1833 to 1905.

This amendment is carrying out a recommendation of the Commission on Licensing Law in 1902, just after the Act was passed. I should like that the words "on and after January 1st, 1928," be placed in front of the amendment. Section 5 of the Act prevents the creation of new licences where the valuation of a house is under £10 in the country, and £30 in the cities of Dublin and Belfast. We are not now concerned with Belfast. In other words, that Act prevents the creation of new licences of a tiny character. I believe that was proposed at the time by the licensed trade. It was the recommendation of the Commission that it should be extended to all licences, including transfers, after five years. Although it is considerably more than five years since then, it was not carried out. My suggestion is that it should be carried out on and after the 1st of January, 1928. It will be suggested possibly that as the question of licences is being considered it is not correct to make an amendment of this kind, and if the Minister is very strongly of that opinion, I would not press it. At the same time I would suggest that there would be ample time between now and the 1st of January, 1928, for the Commission to meet. There is very little question that this kind of licence is not desired by the trade, by the temperance party or by the public generally and it would be desirable that there should be no transfers of licences, unless to sufficiently large premises where business could be carried on under better conditions than is possible in tiny premises. The effect of my amendment would be to so construe the Act of 1902, Section 5.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

You said Senator, that you wished to transfer the date, 1st January, 1928, to the beginning of the section, but it is not in any part of the section.

I said that I should like it to read as though the words "On and after the 1st January, 1928," were at the beginning.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I understand your point now.

The Senator will gather from what I said on Senator Col. Moore's amendment that I would be very much in favour of confining licences only to premises with a substantial valuation, and that very small premises are, I think undesirable, in the interests of the public, but I do think that the amendment is rather foreign to the scope of the particular Bill under consideration, and I would not welcome its insertion on that account. The effect of it would be, practically, that after the time suggested by the Senator, the 1st January, 1928, any licence which had not complied with the requirements of the Act of 1902, would be gradually abolished on sale, transfer, and so on. I would undertake to bring before the Commission the principle and the substance of the Senator's amendment, but I would prefer that he would not press its insertion in the present Bill.

I have already stated that if the Minister took that view I would not wish to press the amendment. The only reply I wish to make to the Minister is that if the Minister, in a sub-clause, construes part of the Act he is liable to get another sub-clause construing another part of the Act. It is not quite foreign to the scope of the Bill, therefore.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 put and agreed to.
SECTION 20.
(1) In order that any club may be eligible to be registered under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904, the rules of the club shall (in addition to the matters mentioned in section 4 of the said Act) provide that no excisable liquor shall be supplied for consumption on the club premises, to or be consumed on the club premises by any person (other than members of the club lodging in the club premises)—
(a) before the hour of nine o'clock in the morning or after the hour of ten o'clock in the evening on any day not being a Saturday or Sunday, or
(b) before the hour of nine o'clock in the morning or after the hour of half-past nine in the evening on any Saturday, or
(c) before the hour of one o'clock in the evening or after the hour of ten o'clock in the evening on any Sunday.
(2) This section shall not apply to any club which at the passing of this Act is registered under the Registration of Clubs (Ireland) Act, 1904, until the expiration of the certificate of registration of such club, which shall be in force at the expiration of two months from the passing of this Act.

I beg to move:

Section 20, sub-section (1). To delete in line 28 the word "ten" and to substitute therefor the word "eleven."

The effect of this amendment would be to give clubs the right to sell intoxicating liquor up to the hour of 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., as provided in the Bill. One feels a bit timorous in moving an amendment of this kind lest they might be accused of encouraging intemperance or debauchery, but I can assure the House I have no such intention. I do not belong to a single club that boasts a licence, and probably I am the only member of the House in that plight. At all events, I think that the suggestion in the Bill that clubs should be placed on the same level as public-houses is not a quite proper or reasonable one. The position at present is that legally, at all events, clubs have the right to sell drink, or at least—it is not a case of selling for profit—they supply drink or refreshments to their members at any hour of the day or night, subject to their rules. Public-houses can only supply within restricted hours from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. The promoters of the Bill, at all events, seem to think there should be more time allowed for the consumption of drink in public-houses, and consequently they have increased the hours to 10 o'clock. On the other hand, clubs are such villainous places of drunkenness and vice that it is sought to take off all the hours between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. that they have enjoyed hitherto. I am strongly in favour of restricting the hours and keeping them within certain limits, but I do not see why, if you allow a theatre, music hall, or other place of amusement to sell drink up to 11 p.m., or to whatever hour the performance continues, a similar concession should not be extended to clubs. I know the Minister will come forward with an awful picture of the villainies enacted in these clubs. We have heard him on another part of the Bill in regard to that. I have no experience of these clubs, and I do not suppose the Minister has, and it is merely on the second-hand knowledge he has got that he says these clubs are badly conducted.

Probably some of them are badly conducted, very bady conducted, but there are also very badly conducted publichouses and very badly conducted music halls and theatres, and one of the reasons why clubs, that are badly conducted, have been allowed to drift into their present condition is because the authorities have never exercised the legal powers with which they were invested for the regulation of any abuses that might occur within these clubs. It is easy to see what would happen even in the best conducted publichouses if they felt that they were free from all interference on the part of the authorities. Now, the police authorities are given very extensive powers in this Bill in respect of clubs, and I do not know why they should take them unless they intend to exercise them. I am in favour of very strong police vigilance, at all events for a time, and the infliction of very severe penalties for any infringement of the rules, and if necessary after a second offence, that the registration of the club should be withdrawn. In that way you will either eliminate the badly conducted club completely or you will force it to be properly conducted, but to come out at one sweep and bring clubs down to the level of public-houses is, I think, advancing rather too rapidly. We have had numerous examples of the wisdom of proceeding by evolution rather than by revolution, as proposed in this Bill. I know it has been suggested here to-day that we, as a Seanad, should really ignore public opinion. It is said that the Seanad is and should be independent of public opinion and public requirements. That is not my conception at all of the duties of this House. I think we should have every regard for public opinion, because after some years this is going to be purely an elective chamber. Some of us simply got here by nomination, and others got here through a very restricted franchise, but that is no reason why we simply should disregard public opinion, because in the wisdom of our own will, we think something is good for the community while the majority of the community think otherwise.

I think Senator O'Farrell has misinterpreted statements apparently made by me and somebody else. What I said and somebody else I think repeated it, was that we should not be intimidated by a small class but that we should go by the general opinion of the country— not by that of a clique or class which wants to carry its own view.

I was not referring to anything Senator Moore said. I was referring to a statement that doing a certain thing might have certain political effects, and that we in the Seanad should not be thinking of things which would have an adverse effect and which public opinion would resent, and emphasise its resentment in a practical way. I do not think that that admits of any two interpretations. My proposal is merely that these clubs should be allowed the same facilities and privileges as theatres, music halls, and so forth. In the North of Ireland there has been a very intensive temperance movement, and a rather drastic Bill has been introduced to deal with the intemperance evil. Nevertheless, in regard to clubs, their provisions have not been at all such as is provided in this Bill. Here is the main provision in that Bill in respect of clubs:—