Are these hours controlled by Statute?
INTOXICATING LIQUOR ACT (NORTHERN IRELAND), 1923.
No, I understand it is merely for themselves to say what the hours of sale shall be; at least, that is how I am advised. If where the temperance movement has made more progress certainly in a legislative sense than here, they consider that is sufficient, I think we should try to adopt an 11 o'clock rule. If there is abuse of that, I would prefer to support legislation which would not only restrict the hours to the hours in the Bill but further. There is a tremendous amount of opposition to this Bill, as it now stands, in respect of clubs, and there is a chance that there will be an organised attempt to try to evade the provisions of the Bill as applied to clubs. That opposition will be completely disarmed if an 11 o'clock rule is introduced instead of the present conditions. In the interests of administration and the good example which observance of the law always sets, I think the proposal in my amendment should be accepted. Eleven o'clock is a fairly popular hour. Most places of amusement are closed down at that hour; theatres and music halls and dance halls and so forth close, and it is the hour just before which most of the trams cease running. It is not an extravagant demand. I do not think that temperance will suffer by conceding it. It will be the only way to eliminate a lot of abuse that deserves to be eliminated, and it certainly will be far easier to work, and to observe than a 10 o'clock rule. It will eliminate many of the abuses now said to obtain in badly conducted clubs, largely because the police do not exercise the powers of the law as it stands. It will be said that clubs have 13 hours per day in which to supply drink, but it was pointed out in reply to that, in a letter which, I dare say, most Senators have got, that the clubs were prepared to surrender the 9 to 12 and the 3 to 5 hours. Most clubs have rules that they do not sell drink at all within these hours. That surrender would be taking about 5 hours off the 13. I move this amendment simply because I think it is a reasonable and fair way of meeting the demand. I think there is a demand for it, and I think that that demand should not be ignored if strongly supported, if we are to pay any attention at all to public opinion or unless we believe that we here are the only people competent to decide what is best for the country as a whole.
I am struck above all by the fact that many of the people most intemperate in their language in respect of drinking facilities are people who encourage both by precept and example what in many respects is a far greater evil—that of horse racing and betting. I cannot understand the state of mind of a person who supports the one wholeheartedly and intemperately condemns the other.
I am a member of a club, and a club that has a licence. I think we should have an opportunity of offering some hospitality to our visitors and friends, especially now as the provisions of the Bill curtail the opportunities of doing so in other ways. This Section 20 introduces a new principle altogether. Previously there was no restriction upon hours except what was made by the by-laws of the clubs —that is duly registered clubs. As has also been said, the remedy for badly-managed and improperly-run clubs is in the hands of those who do not exercise the powers they have. What is a club after all? I was going to say a collection of persons with tastes in common, but I am afraid that would be misunderstood by some people. A club is certainly not a trade or drink institution run for profit. The question is: If there is any such club? I dare say there may be. Then if so it would be desirable that legislation should be brought in to put an end to it. In any case the rules that were necessary for clubs before they were registered contained various stringent provisions, including amongst others that excisable liquor shall not be supplied at clubs or club premises to any person not a member, except on the invitation of, and except accompanied by a member, who shall enter his name and the visitor's name on the book. If all these rules were kept, these shebeening clubs would not exist. There is another point not mentioned by Senator O'Farrell, although he mentioned most of the points, and that is that under this section as it stands residents in clubs can continue to get drink after the prohibited hours. I am perfectly certain that will lead to evasion, as I am afraid the whole Bill will tend to lead to shebeening.
I do not propose to advert to the Senator's fears that the whole Bill will lead to shebeening beyond saying that I cannot understand how a Bill, the effect of which is to increase facilities for the consumption of intoxicating liquor in public-houses is likely to lead to shebeening. But coming down to the question of clubs, the point arises why we consider it necessary to limit at all the facilities for the consumption of drink even in licensed premises. The remarks of one Senator almost suggested that it was because someone was making a profit out of it, and that it was undesirable that men should be allowed to make a profit for more than 13 hours in the day. That is not the point, and that is not the objection. It would not matter in the least to the Government generally, or to a particular Government Department, if a man made a profit for 24 hours of the day. The necessity arises simply from the considerations of public order and public decency and from advertence to the desirability that people who have oeen engaged in the consumption of intoxicating liquor should turn out of premises where drink is sold and be on their homeward way at a time when most of their neighbours are about. When you ask yourself what cause there is for any longer hours for the sale and consumption of drink in clubs, as distinct from public-houses, it is difficult to find an answer. I am not going to paint any very appalling picture. I am aware that the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor in many clubs far exceeds the sale and consumption in the average prosperous public-house, and I am personally aware of a great many clubs in the country where it is simply not the case to suggest that the sale of liquor is simply a side-line or only incidental. Senator MacLysaght almost lapsed into a true description of a club as a collection of people with tastes in common.
There are clubs in the city of which that would be quite a true description. The members join and remain members because of the greater facilities they enjoy for the consumption of drink. You cannot just discriminate. You have to take the thing in the bulk. We are not dealing now with particular clubs, and it is impossible to deal with particular clubs. You have got to take the club question through the length and breadth of the country and see whether it is an unreasonable thing that the bars in these clubs at any rate will be closed down at 10 p.m. It is not exactly bundling the members out of doors. It is not preventing a continuance of social intercourse, and if there is anything in the suggestion that the consumption of intoxicating liquors is simply the merest incidental to the club's life, then we are not attempting to interfere with the clubs in any aggressive or tyrannical way. We are simply asking that the sale of drink shall cease at that hour. Is it unreasonable? We are saying to the great bulk of the citizens of the country who frequent publichouses rather than clubs that their liberty must be curtailed to the extent that they cannot obtain drink for sale after 10 o'clock p.m. And what is the basis of the advocated distinction between the man who goes to a publichouse and the man who is a member of a club? Now, one thing I have recognised throughout this Bill, and it applies, to some extent at any rate, to this question of the distinction between the club and the publichouse, is that it is a bad thing to have a shifting population in search of drink, that it is advisable to have uniform hours throughout the country. If you have people moving out from Dublin to get down to the County Wicklow because of greater facilities there for drink, that leads to excess and abuse. Similarly, people coming from the country to the town to avail of privileges for drinking there, leads to abuse also. Now, if you continue the distinction between a club and a publichouse you will inevitably have a situation where people have been in a publichouse, and, having developed something of zest there, will, when the publichouse closes, move on to the club, either on the strength of their own membership or the membership of a friend, and continue to enjoy themselves there till a late hour.
Senator O'Farrell speaks of catching the last tram and so on. And he speaks as a city man. This legislation will not apply merely to the city. It will apply to scores of clubs up and down the country in provincial towns and so on, from which people will be turned out to travel home along the roads at a late hour at night. I do not see anything wrong or unreasonable or aggressive or tyrannical in the suggestion that the sale of drink at any rate should cease at 10 p.m. There is no limit on a man in his own home. He can drink there during the 24 hours of the day if he wishes. But the public sale of drink should be confined to a reasonable hour, and I suggest that the hours in the Bill, from 9 o'clock in the morning until 10 at night, are reasonable.
It is said that the existing law was all right if it were enforced. As a matter of fact, the position of the police with regard to clubs at present is one of extreme difficulty. Personally I do not see how they could have done anything at all under the present law. Before they get the powers of inspection they had to know that there was an abuse taking place. I do not myself fully realise how the police could know there was an abuse taking place. But they had to make an affidavit to that effect before the magistrate gave them a warrant to inspect the club. That was a sham, and a sham which it is proposed to remedy by the present Bill. I have not heard here or in the Dáil as yet a real case put up for a distinction between a number of men who bind themselves together and call themselves a club—I have heard no reasonable distinction between them and the ordinary clientele of a public-house. Why should we bundle one body of men out in the street at 10 o'clock and say to the other: "Go ahead for an hour"? If we do this, does it not mean that sooner or later the people who are bundled out from the public-house at 10 p.m. will take steps to acquire membership of a club so that they may have the advantage of an additional hour? Looked at broadly, I see no case for the distinction, and if the club is really a wonderful institution meeting for the social and moral upliftment of its members, and the improvement of their minds and bodies, well, then, we are not interfering with that aspect at all at 10 p.m. They can keep that up all night. There is no undue interference at all.
Having regard to the times we are passing through, to say that the sale of intoxicating liquor should cease at 10 o'clock at night is not a hardship. In a different situation, when the general outlook is somewhat improved, and the general sense of responsibility and security somewhat improved, and a different code, somewhat different social legislation might be possible. But I think it is an eminently reasonable thing to say—in a time when disorder is somewhat still too near to be normal — that, at any rate, we will not have a situation existing with regard to the sale and consumption of drink calculated in any way to add to that, and to give an incentive to it; we will not have people going home late at night under the influence of drink, at an hour when their neighbours are in bed or going to bed. That is the case I put up for this legislation, and I want to hear the reason why I should discriminate as regards facilities for the consumption of drink between the club man and the pub man. It was never certainly in my mind or in the mind of anyone in my Department that the objection lay in the fact that in the one case there was a man making a profit, and in the other case there is not any profit being made. It does not matter at all whether a profit was being made or was not being made. That is not the factor in the situation. Putting that on one side, what is the case for discrimination? Drink is as intoxicating in the club as in the pub. The effect is the same when taken to excess. The danger of disorder occurring by people going home late at night from a club is just as great as from persons in that condition who have left the public-house.
I want to say at the outset that, when yesterday I referred to shebeening I was referring to shebeening during the operation of the present hours, which were a restriction on those previously obtaining. The Minister saw the danger and agreed to extend the hours. He asked why clubs should get longer hours than pubs. I answered that by asking, why should places of amusement have longer hours than clubs? Is there any reason why a theatre and music-hall bar should not close at 10, and allow the amusement to go on undisturbed? The Minister will have to justify the reason why he discriminated in that case, or in any place of public amusement, before he can ask me to say why it should be given in the case of the club. He seems to argue that clubs are merely formed for the purpose of consuming drink. There may be entertainments going on in clubs up to 11 o'clock at night, and the suggestion is a reasonable one that they should not be debarred from having reasonable refreshment up to that particular hour.
After all, public-houses are there merely for the sake of selling intoxicating liquor for profit. They provide no amusement. They provide no accommodation worth talking about. In clubs there is provided accommodation, amusement and entertainment. It may be that it is of a different kind to that provided in theatres, but it is something in the way of entertainment. The Minister admits that the police had not sufficient power previously to regulate the sale of drink in badly conducted clubs, but they have the power and will have the power to remedy that abuse. Consequently, he will have an opportunity of remedying the abuses to which he draws attention. Why give the residential club an unlimited extension in perpetuity? As Senator MacLysaght said, that can be abused and the police will never be able to remedy it. The Minister evidently thinks that the members of the Kildare Street Club and of the Stephen's Green Club do not require any police supervision or restriction: that they can be relied on to look after themselves in that respect. These are really the only clubs which will be able to benefit from the provision in this Bill which gives them unrestricted limits for drinking. It will be very difficult for the police to go into one of these clubs and ascertain whether a man is staying for the night or not. If he were to obtain that information he would have to examine the number of beds in the club, as well as the accommodation and the number of people staying there. He might have to ask, perhaps, whether there were two or three people sleeping in the one bed. I say that to give these clubs facilities for the sale of drink is, to state in effect that you are giving them unrestricted facilities for the sale of drink during the whole twenty-four hours. Evidently there is a fear that if the clubs were left open the "pubs" may be injured.
There is no need for the Minister to have fear in that respect, because a man who wants a drink if he is a member of a club will, in all probability, go to the club. As a matter of fact, he could probably get the drink cheaper in the club, even before 10 o'clock, than he could get it in a publichouse. There is no need at all for such a man to go to a publichouse before 10 o'clock, because the club is a more desirable and more enjoyable place than a publichouse. The Minister anticipates a lot of danger from people going home from clubs. In my opinion the greater part of the damage and mischief done in Ireland during the last few years has been done, as a Minister of the Government stated recently, by people who had not the "manliness to take a drink." I do not indulge in drink myself, but I hope I am broadminded enough to know and to realise that if you want to find a really narrowminded individual you are bound to find that such a person is one who never took a drink in his life and who probably never smoked in his life. Such a person is usually found to be intemperate in his language and intemperate in his outlook on others. In the main he is intemperate in everything except in that one thing for which he had never had any particular desire, and that is—drink. You will find if you examine the records of a number of the malefactors—malefactors from the Minister's point of view —who during the last four or five years brought damage and destruction on this country that they were people who certainly were not addicted to drink. Let us not for a moment try to terrorise the Seanad into thinking that you are going to restore ordered conditions in the country simply by a stroke of the pen and simply by closing down the bars in clubs at 10 o'clock. I hope the Seanad does not take that narrowminded view. I think it must go out as a whole-hogger to try more or less to change the people's hearts instead of using the axe. Father Mathew did more by appealing to the hearts and sentiments of the people than all the legislative enactments that have been passed either by the British Parliament or that will ever be passed in this Parliament.
On a show of hands the amendment was declared lost—by 16 to 6.
As a result of the vote on the last amendment, I do not propose to move amendment 6, which also stands in my name and which deals with the same matter.
With regard to this amendment which stands in my name, I desire to say that in spite of the fact that the Seanad is evidently an extremely unreasonable body and cannot appreciate the speech of the last Senator, I nevertheless do not propose to move my amendment. With regard to the provision in the Bill which affects clubs, I desire to draw attention to a suggestion which I made yesterday on the matter. I have not put down my amendment, but I would like the Minister to consider the points I put forward between this and the Report Stage of the Bill. My information is, that certain of these clubs which have been so eloquently defended by the last speaker have an arrangement of what is called "honorary membership" by which a person pays a membership fee of 1/- and is allowed to go to the club bar. I am informed that that is the case in two or three clubs in the city of Dublin. I suggest that under this Bill it should be made clear that a member of a club is a person who gets all the facilities that a club likes to give him, but that at any rate this farcical membership enabling persons to go to the bar of a club should be abolished. I do not propose to move amendment 5 which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
I believe that while I have a very good case for doing away with what I suggest in my amendment that still, in view of the fate of the last amendment about "11 o'clock," there is no use in wasting the time of the Seanad on this. I, therefore, ask for leave to withdraw the amendment.
The effect of this amendment would be to prevent children under 14 from being in or about licensed premises. I am just in this difficulty that the passing of the previous amendment with regard to mixed trading on premises renders this unnecessary. At the same time it equally renders it no harm to abolish this clause, as the clause will be of no effect whatever if the mixed premises amendment is allowed to stand. I may say that that particular section of the Children's Act was inserted for the special benefit of mixed premises in Ireland, and while there may have been an apparent case for allowing children under 14 to go to mixed premises for groceries, nevertheless the fact is that it has been rendered extremely difficult to carry out the clause with regard to children going to licensed premises in the city of Dublin. Although they are not for practical purposes mixed premises, still other articles are sold in them.
I think that the wisest thing for the Seanad, if they agree with me, would be to add this to the Second Schedule. If the previous amendment is adhered to it will be quite in keeping and will be the natural section to be repealed. If, on the other hand, it should not be adhered to, through weakness, which would be heartily disapproved of by Senator O'Farrell, I think this section ought to be abolished, because it would add very much to the carrying out of, I think it is, Section II., sub-section (2).
I do not know very much about the amendment, but if it is anything that protects children from the danger of becoming intemperate, I am whole-heartedly in support of it. I indicated that in moving one amendment we might be accused of ravouring intemperance. That is evidenced by Senator Douglas's statement just now. I am whole-heartedly in support of the general principles of the Bill, and I have so voted. I do not want anyone to go away with the impression that I am out for any further facilities for intemperance. For that reason I wish to correct any misapprehension that might be in the minds of the Seanad, because of what the Senator has said.
What I stated was not that Senator O'Farrell had any such views, but that he whole-heartedly disapproved of the Seanad not sticking to its amendments, which is quite a different matter. Senator O'Farrell and I are too good friends seriously to misunderstand each other, on this or any other matter. In view of what he has said, perhaps it would be better if I read the section of the Children's Act which I propose to repeal. Section 120 of that Act provides that the holder of the licence of any licensed premises shall not allow a child under fourteen to be any time in the bar of the licensed premises except during closing hours, under penalty of a fine of £2 for the first offence, and of £5 in respect of any subsequent offence. In this section the bar of licensed premises means any open drinking bar or any part of the premises exclusively or mainly used for the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor.
Section 133 provides that in the case of Ireland, Section 120—
"Shall not apply in the case of any child going to or being upon licensed premises if a substantial part of the business carried on upon the premises is a drapery, grocery, hardware, or other business, wholly unconnected with the sale of intoxicating liquor, and the child of the person (if any) in whose custody the child is, goes to or is upon the premises for the purpose of purchasing goods other than intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises."
Therefore the repeal of Section 133 would leave Section 120 applicable to Ireland.
My view of the amendment is that Section 133, and the relevant sub-section thereof, scarcely cuts down the effect of Section 120, which is confined to the bar of licensed premises, as distinguished from the licensed premises as a whole, and that the sub-section, coupled with the definition of the bar in Section 120, merely supplies a guide to the Court as to the intention of the Act. To repeal the sub-section would be anticipating, in a mild way, the question of structural alterations. On the whole, I do not consider the amendment is a necessary one, and I am not sure that it will serve any particularly useful purpose that is not met by the law as it stands.
There is a small amendment I would ask the Seanad to insert in the second Schedule.
Second Schedule, in the third column, to delete the word and figure "Section 2" where they occur opposite the words "Intoxicating Liquors (Sale to Children) Act, 1901" in the second column, and to insert in lieu of the words so deleted, the words "The whole Act."
It is purely a drafting amendment.
Yes, because practically the entire substance of the Act of 1901 is incorporated in this Bill.