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THE SUNDAY CLOSING QUESTION. MERTHYR AND ABERDARE OPINION. COUNCILLOR THOS. THOMAS, MERTHYR. In reply to inquiries made by our reporter, Coun- cillor Thomas Thomas said that he didn't think there was more drunkenness in the town on Sundays since the Act came into operation than formerly. He did not think there were many shebeens in Merthyr, but he was told there were many in Dowlais. The only suspicious spot where shebeens were believed to be in Merthyr was the bottom of the town. Although Councillor Thomas opposed the Act at first, he was now of opinion that there was no necessity to repeal it, and he did not think that if the working men were ballotted to-morrow there would be a majority in favour of a repeal. Those who looked after themselves did not want drink on Sundays, but there were a few who travelled from place to place who persisted in breaking the law. Councillor Thomas, proceeding, said that the Act must be doing good, for they could see the effect of it on the public streets on Sundays. There was a lot less drunkenness, and all the Sunday drunkenness now noticeable was concentrated in the side streets, whereas before the passing of the Act it was more scattered and public. Some people seemed to harbour the idea that because drunkenness was concentrated in this fashion there was more of it, but it was a great mistake. As far as the publicans were concerned, the majority of them would not favour the repeal of the Act, because they wanted a day of rest. The people who were to blame were those who kept and frequented shebeens. MR. G. GEORGE, J.P.. ABERDARE. With a view of ascertaining how the Sunday Closing Act worked in Aberdare our representative called on persons who have taken a great interest in it, and watched its working since it came into force. Care was taken that no persons directly affected by the Act should »iv« their opinion. In all cases, whether teetotalers or not, they agreed that so far as Aberdare was concerned the Act had done its work well. Mr. Griffith George, J.P., said I can speak on this matter from experience. I lived in Aberdare for some time before the Act came into force, and there- fore ought to know a little about what it has done. The difference between the streets on a Sunday now to what they were before the passing of the Act is simply marvellous. It was then a common thing to see, in the course of about half a mile, dozens of drunken men early on Sunday morning, and they used to bump up agaiowt respectable people going to chapel and church. It was a disgrace. However, since the Act has come into force, drunkenness has almost entirely disappeared. That clearly demon- strated what good the Act had done. The change was noticeable immediately after it cmie into O[H>ra- tion. What makes the Act of less value in Aberdare than what it might be is the fact that there are drinking clubs open on Sunday. The Liberal Club is not open for"the sale of drink on Sunday, and in eon- sequence it is not patronised to the extent it would be if such was not the case. If these drinking clubs were closed I am sure Aberdare would be almost entirely free from Sunday drunkenness. The cases of publicans bfing tined for permitting Sunday drunken- ness are few and far between. The Act is well observed by publicans so far as Aberdare is concerned. It has undoubtedly done good in Aberdare, and I should be very sorry, very sorry indeed, to see it repealed. The only thing required to be done now is to grapple with these drinking clubs, and the only fault I find in the Act is that it nas not put the clubs on the same footing as public houses. 1 should like to see all clubs licensed and placed under police super- vision in exactly the same manner as the public- houses. As regards the question of preventing the poor working man having his glass of beer, all I have to say is, Why does he not provide for it as he does for all the other necessaries of life If the poor working man wishes to sret drunk on Sunday then I object to it most emphatically. MR. ISHMAEL HARRIS, ABERDARE. Mr. Ishmael Harris said he thought the Sunday Closing Act had been a success in all parts of the country with the exception, perhaps, of Cardiff. Cardiff would compare favourably with any town of its population. He had not lived long enough in Aberdare to pass an opinion as to whether there was less drunkenness in Aberdare now than before the Act was passed, but according to hearsay there was by far less. He would say it had been a great suc- cess. He most decidedly would not like to see it repealed, and to do that would be taking a retrogres- sive step. Referring to the cry of preventing the working man from having his glass of beer on Sunday, Mr. Harris said it was all moonshine. He felt confi- dent that if the working men were appealed to they would be in favour of the Act, at least a large majority. One proof of its success was the strong I opposition that the publicans and brewers offered to the repeal of the Act. There was more beer drunk now than there was before the passing of the Act. He did not agree with granting grocers' licences, because it had been the means of increasing drunken- ness amongst women and in the houses. They had greater facilities for getting drink by that means. He advocated the abolition of grocers' licences. Then again he thought the Sunday drinking clubs had a lot to do with the diunkenness to be seen on a Sun- day at present. He thought these should be some system of registering them, so that they should be under police supervision. He did not agree with putting them on the same footing altogether as public-nouses, but he agreed with preventing the sale of drink on Sunday. It was unfair to the publicans, who had to pay a he;ny license. He believed that apart from the Worldngmen's Club and the Constitu- tional Club there was very little Sunday drinking in Aberdare. MR. D. DAVIES, CANON STREET, ABERDARE. Mr. D. Davies, Canon-street, did not believe that the Act had worked well in Aberdare, and he was not inclined to think that people could be made sober by Acts of Parliament. If they closed the public-houses people would find some means of getting drink. Since the Act had come into force these drinking clubs had been opened. People who could afford it kept what they wanted in the house. He believed it would be better for Alxsrdare if the Act was repealed. Since he had been on the Bench he had found that people went to Hirwain, Merthyr, and Rhigos simply for the sake of getting drink. The amount of drunkenness on a Sunday on the Abernaut-road after the arrival of the last train from Merthyr was euonnous. He believed that it was only fair that the public-houses should be on the same footing as the clubs. He had noticed about two years ago, when the Constitutional Club was opposite his place, no less than 150 persons going into the club in a quarter of an hour. The club was opened at about 7.30 p.m., and the people simply came from chapel or church and went in and had a few drinks. There was no good forcing people to be teetotalers. The very thing they tried to prevent them getting would be the thing they would have by hook or by crook. There was no doubt that under the old rcj>\nc tliiuga were better than they are now. MR. JOHN ROGERS. Mr. John Rogers, the secretary of Messrs. Craw- shay BioCyfai thfa Limited, and the chairman of the Vaynor and Penderyn Rural District Council, said I have not given the matter much considera- tion, but it should be borne in mind that the popula- tion of Merthyr is a staying one. It is not a, floating population like that of Cardiff and Swansea, where sailors and others come to the town and naturally require refreshments on Sundays. I do not believe that our people (meaning the Cyfarthfa workmen) desire to have the Act repealed, for since it has been in operation its effect has been most beneficial to the employers and employed. The former can now depend upon their men coming to work early on Monday morning the same as on other days, whilst the men earn more money and feel more disposed to work. Without going into the pros and cons of the ques- tion, I thoroughly believe that the men do not want the Act repealed, and I am certain that it has a bene- ficial effect all round." INTERESTING REMINISCENCES BY MR. W. L. DANIEL. A Tin*s reporter called upon Mr. W. L. Daniel at his residence on Tuesday evening, and obtained an interview, which is not only instructive and throws much light upon the question, but which also contains matter of the most interesting character. Mr. Daniel has taken an active part in the advocacy of tem- perance principles in Merthyr for the past 30 years, and not only has he proved himself a great reformer. and made himself an authority on temperance matters, but he has for many years occupied some of the most important public positions in the town. He has been an overseer of the poor for about a quarter of a century, a guardian of the poor, and a member of the Local Board of Health for many years. He sat for 15 years on the School Board, and presided over that body for two triennial periods while his name is closely assooiated with the famous South Wales Sun- day Closing Association, for which he acted as secre- tary. It can therefore be seen that if any individual person's opinion is valuable on a question of such magnitude, the views held by Mr. Daniel certainly are. You are aware, of course," said Mr. Daniel, "that the opening of public-houses on the Lord's Day was condemned first of all by the representative bodies of the different denomination! The Wesleyan Conference, for instance, held in Birmingham in July, 1879, passed a strong resolution in favour of Sunday Closing, and the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland in October, 1879, at its meeting in Glasgow passed a similar resolution. Then the Congregational Union of England and Wales, at its meeting held in Cardiff in October, 1879, unanimously passed a reso- lution, proposed by the Rev. W. Emlyn Jones, of Morriston, and seconded by myself, condemning the sale of intoxicants on Sundays. Then, as an outcome of the expression of opinion on the part of the great religious denominations, and probably owing to the expression of public opinion at conferences which had been held in different parts of Wales, a great con- ference was held in the Music Hall, Swansea, on Wednesday, the 19th of November. 1879. This was one of the most representative conferences ever held in Walefe. It was constituted of members of Parliament, county and through magis- trate, the clergy, and ether representatives of the various denominations, town councils, boards of guar- diane, school boards, boards of health, and the repre- sentatives of trade and philanthropic societies. Mr. Henry Hussey Vivian (afterwards Baron Swansea) presided, and Mr. John Roberts, M.P. for the Flint Boroughs, attended. In the evening a freat public meeting was held, under the presidency of the late Mr. Henry Richards, M.P., and addresses were delivered by the late Mr. John Roberts, M.P., the late Mr. Dill wyn, M.P., and some of the most pro- minent men of Wales. Both the conference and the public meeting unanimously pronounced in favour of a Sunday Closing Bill for Wales. This was in many respects a most exceptional gathering, and the con- veners represented all shades of public and religious opinions. They were the Rev. John Griffiths, Arch- deacon of Llandaff the Rev. Thomas Thomas, late Principal of the l'ontypool Baptist College Rev. John Morris, Principal of the Brecon Congregational College; Rev. G. Vance Smith, Principal of the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen the Rev. D. Phillips, chairman of the South Wales Cahinistic Methodist Association Rev. D. Evans, chairman of the Wesleyan South Wales District; and the Rev. ,T. W. Rogers, canon of the Roman Catholic Church at Swansea. Then followed the tremendous upheaval throughout the whole of the Principality in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill for Wales. A circular was sent to the different boards by the chairman, treasurer, and secretary of the South Wales Sunday Closing Association formed at Swansea, and I have before mn this (showing a bulky volume) tremendous number of petitions from all parts of the country and from public boards, and which contains hundreds of thousands of names in favour of the Bill. The result was that an Act to prohibit the salejof intoxicating liquors on Sun- day in Wales was passed on the 27th of August, 1881. "Of course, there was a good deal at first in the putting of the Act in motion, owing to an unfortunate slip of the draughtsman. It appears that in Clause 3 of the Act it states This Act shall commence and come into operation with respect to each division or place in Wales on the day next appointed for the general annual licensing meeting for that division or place.' But eventually it was settled, and the Act came into operation throughout the whole of the Principality. Before the passing of the Act the public streets in Merthyr and in Dowlais were, on a Sunday, the scene of great drunkenness. In fact, it was almost dangerous for people to be out on a Sunday nijjht, owing to the annoyance of drunken people in the public streots. The very first Sunday after the Act came into opera- tion, there was an entire absence of that. It is true that repeated attempts were made to evade the Act, and to take advantage of the bona-fidc traveller clause which is contained in the Act, and with regard to the application of the Licensing Act of 1872 and 1874, which provision is embodied in Clause 2 of the Sunday Closing Act, 1881. There was also consider- able trouble experienced in connection with the arrival of those who came by train. But there was almost an entire absence of public drunkenness, and it was remarked by everybody what a marvellous change had taken place. Soon after that, during the early spring and summer of the year after the Act came into force, a lot of brakes used to run to Cwmtaf and elsewhere on Sunday afternoon, in order that people might obtain drink as bono-jidi travellers. And undoubtedly many people who came by train to see their friends, by some means got drink, and occasionally a staggering, drunken man was found in the public streets as people returned home from Sunday Schools. There can be no doubt that the Act has been a marked success, and that many benefits have arisen from the passing of the Act. The Superintendent of Police for this borough would 1*3 able to supply very valuable information as to the decrease of drunkenness on Sunday. So far as shebeens are concerned, I do not think we have been troubled with them in any appreciable extent. Of course the Sunday Closiug Act may be evaded, as all Acts of Parliament are evaded. If it were not that Acts of Parliament were being evaded continually, there would be no need of the Stipen- diary magistrates in this place. But it is manifestly unfair to blame the Sunday Closing Act for the estab- lishment of shebeens. It has always been the proud boast of the Englishman and" elshman that his house is his castle, and as far as drink is concerned in any Welshman's house you cannot very well inter- fere with it, unless you have reason to believe or to suspect that the law is tieing evaded. My opinion is that if shebeens, where they are established, are dealt with vigorously by the police and the magistracy, we should soon hear of the end of shebeening. It appears to me that on this very point hinges the whole thing. If you find an inability or an unwillingness on the part of the authorities to grapple vigorously, and in an uncompromising manner with those who violate the law, there must of necessity be drunkenness. But as far as the Act is concerned, it certainly is uot responsible for it. The great bugbear has always been the bona fide traveller, but as all those acquainted with legislation know, the bona fide traveller has not been created by the Sunday Closing (Wales) Act, but by the Licensing Acts of 1872 and 1874. Why then should the Sunday Closing Act be blamed for the provisions of that Act ? To be consistent, those who blame the Sunday Cloving Act should be prepared to vote for the abolition of the provisions of these Acts, and support the punishment of those who are guilty of keeping shebeens. With regard to, the 4th clause, which provides that nothing in thisAct contained shall preclude the sale at any time a.t a railway station, of intoxicating liquors to persons arriving at or departing from such stations by railway,' ateat care had to be exercised, because there mightJJe an outcry on the part of those who were away frfMn home, and who had to wait for trains at railway stations, against their being pre- cluded from having what they considered reasonable refreshments. Consequently the clause, which, I daresay, has been very much abused, was allowed to remain in the Act. There were suggestions made by me before the Commission at its sittings in Merthyr with regard to the bona fide traveller and other diffi- culties which had cropped up in connection with the working of the Sunday Closing Act, and I am still of the same opinion as I was then. I am satisfied that, so far as Wales is concerned,it would be impossible for any person to successfully contest an election in any division of either North or South Wales, who declared that he was opposed to the Sunday Closing Act." The suggestion which has been made for the taking of a plebiscite needs very careful considera- tion. I contend strongly that not only should the men have the privilege of voting, but that the women also, who suffer so much from the effects of drink and drunkenness, should be permitted to vote as to whether or not the Act should be repealed. And as to the suggestion of partial opening, say for an hour at dinner time and an hour in the evening, I am satisfied that they would not be attended with any good results, but on the contrary, they would be very much abused, and the gratification that would confer to those who have dry and thirsty throats would be far outweighed by the serious inconvenience which it would cause to those who for many years have worked so hard to try to secure 'piiet and peace over the Sabbath." One word as to clubs. Clubs should be placed on the same footing, and carried on in precisely the same manner a j public-houses on Sundays, and with the exception of these who are really living on the pre- mises, I would not on any consideration advocate allowing them to make use of the club for the pur- poses of drinking. In fact, while I would be quite prepared to allow the clubs to be opened for the ordinary purposes of a political or social nature, I should close the bar and prevent any intoxicants being sold or consumed on the premises on Sundays."





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