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spirituous liquors should again be sold at as low a rate as formerly; and forasmuch as the most effectual and speedy method of continuing the high price of spirituous liquors will be by laying a large additional duty on such spirituous liquors, be it enacted, &c. &c."
Your Committee, in contemplating the preceding narrative, derive consolation from the belief that, great and injurious as may be the present consumption of ardent spirits among the lower orders of people, it bears no proportion to the consumption at those periods when the legislature so feelingly deplored their excessive use, the universality of their exposure for sale, and the almost unbounded licentiousness which was connected with this deleterious indulgence. But your Committee cannot at the same time conceal their persuasion that the consumption of spirituous liquors is still excessive; that the facility of their purchase has been greatly increased by the setting up of new giv-shops, many of which do not even pretend to supply the public with beer; and the equally injurious and increasing practise of converting ale-houses into shops for the sale of spirituous liquors; which they now make their principal, if not their only trade.
Your Committee, deeply feeling the danger of a return of all those evils so emphatically pointed out and described by the legislature, and solemnly impressed with a sense of their duty as magistrates, if possible to prevent so calamitous a result to the health and morals of society, proceed to submit their ideas as to what steps the justices in sessions may take, with the best chance of success, consistently with a due regard for property and to local distinctions.
Your Committee hope it will not be inferred that the magistrates of this county have been insensible of, or indifferent to the evil now under consideration; on the contrary, it appears from various minutes of their proceedings, that it has at different times, particularly during the last twenty years, been a subject of most anxious inquiry; but if their endeavors have hitherto failed of any material success, it will not be imputed to a want of zeal in them, by those who have seen this moral gangrene baffling the skill of the legislature itself throughout so long a period of time.
It appears that in 1794 the magistrates acting in and for the East half hundred of Brixton and the Borough of Southwark, which district comprises infinitely the greater proportion of the population of the county, and of the public-houses which it contains, Resolved, " to take all reasonable, legal, and expedient measures to lessen the number of retailers of spirituous liquors," the consumption of which, if not checked, must, in their opinion,
corrupt the morals, destroy the health, debauch the principles, and loosen the bands of all social order, decency, and decorum in the rising generation." This resolution was followed by certain orders and regulations, devised with the hope of effecting this desirable check.
It appears, also, that during the years 1803 and 1804 the magistrates for the same divisiun gave great and serious attention to this subject, being alarmed by the still increasing number of liquor-shops. Among other steps, they laudably determined on a personal view of such houses as they bad reason to suspect were gin-shops rather than bona-fide ale-houses, or other description of victuallers. The result of this inspection was a report that upwards of one hundred out of the bouses licensed in that division were absolute gin-shops, or little better.
It appears from the proceedings to have been at one time in the conten-, plation of the justices to have with held their licenses from these houses altogether. A variety of regulations as to the size of rooms, and the local position of iheis end doors, were afterwards suggested; but from some apprehension of legal objection, or from the difficulty of at once carrying
into execution so many detailed resolutions, or some other cause which does not appear, the numerous discussions on that. occasion ended in agreeing to renew all the licences, after an address of admonition from the chair.
This tremendous evil still, according to the opinion of the Magistrates of the County, continuing to increase in magnitude and mischief, it has again been the subject of much and earnest deliberation during the last and the present year; the consequence of which was, that at the last General Quarter Sessions, held at Guildford on the 11th day of July, 1815, certain regulations respecting publicans were ordered to be exhibited in the taprooni of every public house in the County.
These regulations principally relate to the description of premises in which spirituous liquors shall be sold;
To the hours of opening and shutting ale-houses;
To the description of persons which publicans are permitted to harbor or entertain;
And to the hour beyond which no publican shall allow a pay-table to be kept open at his house.
The Magistrates for the division of the East Half-Hundred of Brixton and the Borough of South wark, conceiving several of these regulations not to be conveniently practicable in their district, from the character and extent of its population, represented the same to the last Quarter Sessions, held at Kingston, on the 17th of October, requestiog a re-consideration of the order, as far as respects the said district.
The said order of Sessions standing, therefore, for future and further consideration, your Committee will forbear to observe upon it at present, except as to the first of the regulations in question; which is immediately connected with the subject that your Committee is appointed to consider. It is as follows, viz. . “Every person having a victualler's licence is required to have a regular tap-room, and a bar either within such tap-room or as near thereto as may be, at which alone spirituous liquors may be retailed, and not in any room or shop fitted up for that purpose, or communicating with the street, or with some court or alley adjoining to it."
Your Committee will not now, for obvious reasons, inquire how far this regulation can be conveniently or legally enforced, according to its present terms, but agreeably to the instructions given to them, offer their opinion on the two propositions which they were appointed to consider.
With regard to the first, namely," the consequence which must follow an increase of gin shops," your Committee conceived that it could not better discharge its duty than by presenting to the Quarter Sessions an account of the consequences which are recorded as having arisen from such increase. If this historical view shows that almost every political, every moral, every physical evil wbich can befall society has hitherto followed the excessive use of ardent spirits, if facility and secrecy of access to them has hitherto seduced youth as well as age, females as well as males, the otherwise respectable of both sexes, as well as the grossly abandoned, to indulge in this mental and bodily poison, your Committee cannot but apprehend that these calamities will continue to increase in proportion to the increase of gin shops.
With regard to the second branch of their instruction, namely, “to report their opinion as to the best means of suppressing or regulating such shops," your Committee cannot but feel the difficulty of their task. After such a narrative of failure in rs, any opinion which they offer must be given with great diffidence; but they cannot help thinking, that some instances,
VOL. XXIX. Pam. NO. LVIII. Y
at least, of the failures described, have been owing to attempting too much in the first instance. Evils which have been so many years it might almost be said centuries) in their growth, and respecting which it may perhaps be justly imputable to the Magistracy of this and other counties, that they have been too lax, and in the very practice of which great sums of imoney have been allowed to be embarked without judicial animadversion, must be met with great cantion, and treated with as much tenderness as is consistent with a due sense of public duty; nor can there perhaps be a more enfeebling conduct in the discharge of the Magisterial function, or one more subversive of its dignity and authority, than the publication of rules and orders which cannot be, or at least are not enforced.
Your Committee therefore, after great deliberation, submit it, with all due deference, as their opinion, that the best and safest course would be, in the first instance, to adhere literally to the rule laid down by Parliament, and resolutely refuse to grant or renew licences but to such publicans as shall bona fide“ keep victualling-houses, inns, coffee-houses, and ale-houses;" meaning thereby, such as shall have fit and comfortable accommodations for those who shall prefer drinking of beer to spirits, and keep a stock suitable to the supply of customers of that description. What shall be regarded as fit accommodations, and suitable stock for this purpose, must, your Committee apprehend, depend on the judgment of those Magistrates who may be delegated to take a general view of all public houses within their respective districts, previously to the next annual period of granting of licences, at which time every publican will have been for several months in possession of the opinion of the licensing Magistrates, whatever it may be.
Your Committee are not so sanguine as to expect that this measure will do more at present than check the evil; but from the experience which it will afford, we think the Magistrates will be enabled to issue further and more particular directions, suited to the population and local circumstances of the different parts of the County. And if legislative aid shall be found necessary, they will by that time be in a situation to judge of its nature and degree.
Ås few facts are more notorious than that as the price of porter increased some time back, and its quality became materially deteriorated, the rage for gin-drinking increased in proportion, your Committee cannot but flatter themselves that in proportion as porter shall again become an acceptable article, good in quality and reasonable in price, the destructive passion for ardent spirits will abate, difficult as it may be to change the habits of a whole order of people. How far a restoration of that which for so many years formed the principal beverage of the English populace is practicable in itseli, or within the reach of legislative authority, is not for your Committee to say, although of the happy effects of such change we entertain no doubt. Given under our hands this 13th day of DECEMBER, 1815. (Signed) G. HOLME SUMNER,
ARTHUR C. ONSLOW,
J. M. CRIPPS,
Now on hearing the said report read, and on full consideration had thereon,
IT IS ORDERED BY THIS Court, that the same be, and it is hereby ratified and confirmed: AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that it be, and it is hereby recommended to the Magistrates of this County to carry the same into execution in their respective divisions, by such means as shall appear to them most effectual; and that they be and that they are hereby requested to report to this Court at the next Epiphany Quarter Session, what regulations they shall bave prescribed in their respective divisions for the conduct of victuallers : what number of licences or certificates shall have been granted in the year 1816, and what number of certificates for licences shall have been refused during the same period to persons applying for them, on the ground of contravention, or disobedience to the regulations now recommended to Magistrates to prescribe in their several
divisions. AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that notice be forthwith given to all licensed
victuallers in this County, of the determination of the Magistrates not to grant or renew any certificate for licence, but to such persons only as shall, bona fide, keep taverns, inns, coffee-houses or ale-houses, as directed by the Act of Parliament 16th Geo. Il. c. 8, and have sufficient room and accommodation for those who shall choose to drink beer, with a stock suitable to the
supply of such customers. Lastly, IT IS ORDERED, That these resolutions be printed and sent to all the
acting Magistrates of this County; and that a sufficient number of copies of such part of the resolutions as relates to the condition on which certificates for licences will in future be granted, be sent to the Clerks of the several Petty Sessions in this County, for immediate distribution among the victuallers in their respective divisions.
By the Court,
SURREY TO WIT.-At the GENERAL QUARTER SESSION OF THE Peace of our
Sovereign Lord the King, holden at St. Mary, Newington, in and for the County of Surrey, on Tuesday, the Fourteenth Day of June, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventeen.
To His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Surrey, in Genera
Quarter Session of the Peace assembled. WHEREAS, at the GENERAL QUARTER Session holden in and for this County in January last, a report respecting the increased number of shops for the sale of gin, and other spirituous liquors, was taken into consideration, and thereon ratified and confirmed; and it was then recommended to the Magistrates of this County to carry the same into execution in their respective divisions, by such means as should appear to them the most effectual, and to report their proceedings to the next Epiphany Sessions; Now we, whose names are hereupto subscribed, being Magistrates who act within the East Half-Hundred of Brixton and 'Borough of Southwark, do
report, that we met accordingly to deliberate on the best means of comply. ing with the said recommendation, and being of opinion that the most effectual mude of so doing would be to visit personally all the public houses within the said division, several Committees were appointed for that purpose, who proceeded accordingly to ascertain which of the said bouses were bona fide public houses, and which of them were fitted up, principally, for the sale of gin and other spirituous liquors; when it appearing on such in vestigation that there were a considerable number of mere gin shops, their occupiers were reminded of the determination of the Magistrates in “Quarter Sessions assembled, not to grant or renew any certificate for licences but to such persons as should bona fide keep taverns, ions, coffeehouses, or ale-houses, and have sufficient room and accommodation for those who should choose to drink beer, with a stock suitable to the supply of such customers," printed notices to that effect having been previously served on all the said publicans: many of the occupiers of the liquor shops in question altered their premises according to the order of Sessions as far as the size of them would admit, and laid in stocks of beer_others declined for a long period making such alterations, notwithstanding a repetition of notices and letters, and a renewal of admonitory visits. These persons having however at length complied, we now report that almost the whole of the publicans within this division did conform to the order of Sessions according to the best of their ability, by dividing off a part of their premises in order to constitute a tap-room, or by the introduction of tables and benchies into the shop in which they sold their spirituous liquors, in cases where the houses were too small to admit of such division; they also laid in suitable stocks of beer. We, considering the circumstances of the case, the long toleration of such houses, the tenderness which the said report só ratified and confirmed by the sessions expresses for property, and the caution with which it seems to recommend us to proceed in the first instance, have renewed the licensing certificates for all these houses for the ensuing year. At the same time, we feel it our duty to report, that the areas of many of those denominated liquor shops are much too small for boná-fide public houses in their present conditions; and we apprehend that no effectual reform can take place with respect to such shops, until the owners shall be obliged to have properly apportioned tap-rooms. This circumstance we submit as important for the consideration of the county, although we doubt the possibility of carrying this, or other material regulations into effect, but under some general legislative system, embracing the whole of the metropolis and its environs, without which it would be to little purpose the Magistrates who act for the East Half-Hundred of Brixton and Borough of Southwark insisting on such alterations and regulations, whilst perhaps other Magistrates might not enforce similar measures in the immediatelyadjoining or neighboring districts. We have further to report, that in the course of this year the Magistrates have granted eight hundred and thirtyone certificates for licences within this division, which is eight less than were granted in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifteen, and that we have not granted any new licence. We beg leave also to suggest the following regulations to the consideration of the Quarter Session, and as proper to be submitted to the deliberation of the Legislature, vis. The requiring that all publicans should bave tap-rooms of a sufficient size, and that such be situated in the front of their houses next to the street the stopping up of all side doors opening into lanes, alleys, or streets, except such only as shall be absolutely necessary for the carrying in of the stock in trade-that magistrates should have authority, at a session to be especially summoned for that purpose, to suspend, for a given time, between the