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except as an absolutely necessary measure of urgent social reform. Personally, I admit the strength of the consideration, but I do not think it quite decisive.
But there is a further aspect of National Prohibition to be considered in its relation to personal liberty. As I have stated already, if prohibition is to prohibit, if it is to be something more than a name, it must put a ban, not only on the sale and manufacture, but also on the importation of intoxicants. Now consider what this means when it comes to the enforcement of the law. Since importation is banned it is, presumably, an offence against the law to have intoxicants in one's possession at all for use as beverage. If, then, the law is to be satisfactorily enforced, the State officials must have the right—and this right must be often exercised—to search any individual at any hour and in any place. They must have the right, furthermore, to invade the privacy of any man's dwelling and search the house from roof to basement in the pursuit of contraband. To commit such power to public officials, whether they represent a foreign or a native Government, seems to me, considering all the possibilities of corruption and victimization involved, to be justified only by pressing national necessity. And therefore I, for one, would not give my vote for National Prohibition, except as a last desperate remedy for an otherwise incurable disease. And I refuse to believe-indeed there is no evidence to prove-that such a crisis has been yet reached in Ireland.
There is a consideration extrinsic to the ethics of the question which should incline us very strongly to adopt an attitude of reserve towards a movement for National Prohibition. The Catholic Total Abstinence Federation is a national religious body, and represents a Catholic nation. To compass its ends it depends on organization and education, but, above all, on supernatural motives
1 In the Prohibition Enforcement Measure passed by the United States House of Representatives on July 22nd, what is called the Search and Seizure Clause is framed thus, as regards lawful possession of liquors : ‘But it shall not be unlawful to possess liquors in one's private dwelling while the same is oocupied and used by him as his dwelling only, and such liqour need not be reported; but such liquors must be used for the personal consumption of the owner thereof and his family residing in such dwelling, and his bona fide guests when entertained by him therein.' But, “The burden of proof shall be upon the possessor to prove that such liquor was lawfully acquired, possessed ard used.'
and aids. It has not asked the State to help its efforts positively and directly, it only demands that the State, by act or omission, shall not unduly hamper them, that the State shall allow its efforts fair play. Then, it was born only the day before yesterday. İt has only begun to find its feet. It has not yet got into its stride, has not yet had time or opportunity to realize even a small fraction of its beneficent possibilities. It is day by day growing in numbers, in compactness, in influence and in conscious strength. Even in the short span of its existence it has shown fair and growing promise. Would it not, then, be doing an injustice to itself, to the faith which it possesses, and to the nation which it represents, if it declared itself in the early morning of its life, not only bankrupt in achievement, but bankrupt even in hope ?
We may indeed fairly and consistently claim that the State will not allow the multiplication of drink licenses to such a degree, or authorize the sale of intoxicants in such circumstance or under such conditions as must almost inevitably lead to serious abuse. Also, we may well claim that public drunkenness be considered a grave social offence, and punished accordingly, and that its aiders and abettors, especially if they are gainers by the offence, be not considered less guilty than its victims. We may consistently even claim that the State give the people in local areas a voice in the control of the drink traffic. But we should be very slow to throw up our hands; to shift bodily on to the shoulders of the State the responsibility which we have so recently and publicly taken on our own; to confess before all men that voluntary effort and supernatural means are likely to be found wanting, and that Catholic Ireland has little or no hope of freeing itself from the thraldom of the drink evil except by the help of the strong arm of the law.
The limits of time at my disposal will allow me to say only a brief word about
II-LOCAL OPTION Local option, in its restricted sense, is a Gladstonian phrase, and means an option or choice given to local communities as to the sale of intoxicating drink within their respective areas.
In order to give a definite idea of Local Option I cannot do better than bring under your notice the Temperance
(Scotland) Act, 1913. In the main it is a local option measure, and though passed in 1913, its local option provisions do not come into force before June 1, 1920. The reason for suspending the operation of the Act for seven years seems to have been to give license holders at least seven-years' purchase by way of compensation ; there is no formal mention of compensation in the Act. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not introduce this measure necessarily as a head line for imitation, but merely as a text for consideration and discussion.
As a Local Option measure it is described as an Act to promote Temperance in Scotland by conferring on the electors in prescribed areas control over the grant and renewal of certificates (license certificates). What is an area ? It may be a borough or a county
In the case of a borough divided into wards-if the borough has a population of not less than 25,000each ward of the borough which has a population of not less than 4,000 is an area. If the population of the borough is less than 25,000 the whole borough is an area. In the case of the county, the parish is the area.
Who are the electors? In a borough every person, registered as entitled to a vote for Town Councillors ; in a county area every person entitled to a vote for Parish Councillors.
It is the duty of the Local Authority to carry out all arrangements in connexion with voting ; and the Local Authority for the borough is the Town Council ; for the county it is the County Council.
The chief provisions are the following :-
If a requisition demanding a poll (to be taken by ballot) is found by the Local Authority to have been duly signed by not less than one-tenth of the electors for a particular area, the Local Authority shall cause a poll of the electors to be taken.
The questions to be submitted to the electors shall be the adoption of (a) a no-change resolution, or (b) a limiting resolution, or (c) a no-license resolution. A nochange resolution means that the powers and discretion of the ordinary licensing court shall remain unchanged. A limiting resolution means that during the period the resolution is in force the licensing authority cannot grant more than seventy-five per cent. of the licenses in existence when the resolution was carried. A no-license resolution
means that during the period this resolution is in force no license shall be granted in the area-except that the Licensing Court may grant one or more licenses for an inn or hotel or restaurant, which, however, shall be granted only on condition that there shall be no drinking bar on the premises, and that exciseable liquors shall be sold by retail only, and to none but persons residing in the hotel or inn, or persons taking a meal at a restaurant for consumption with such meal.
What majority is necessary ? If fifty-five per cent., at least, of votes be recorded for a no-license resolution, and not less than thirty-five per cent. of all votes in the area, such resolution shall be deemed to be carried. A bare majority of the votes recorded, which is not less than thirty-five per cent. of the whole register carries a limiting resoluton. A bare majority of the votes recorded, without qualification, carries a no-change resolution, or if no other resolution be carried.
No elector can vote for more than one resolution, but if a no-license resolution be not carried, the votes recorded in its favour shall be added to those for limiting resolution, and be deemed to have been recorded in favour thereof.
The decision of the licensing authority in refusing or reducing licenses in pursuance of a no-license or limiting resolution shall not be subject to appeal.
When a poll has been taken, a further poll shall not be taken before the month of November in the third year from date of last poll. Such poll may be taken to repeal a no-license resolution, if in force; if limiting resolution is in force, for its repeal, continuance, or for a further limiting resolution, or a no-license resolution. If no-change resolution is in force, for further no-change or for limiting, or for no-license resolution.
These are the chief features of the Act. I do not deem it necessary, even though I had time at my disposal, to discuss its provisions in detail, for a reason which will appear in a moment. But one general observation is immediately suggested by our inspection of this measure. It is that Local Option is not a very drastic measure of reform, and, therefore, from the point of view of individual liberty, is much more easily justified than National Prohibition. Indeed, ethically considered, Local Option, embodied in the Temperance Act for Scotland may be fairly regarded as “Passed by the Censor.'
As to its effectiveness, it has in it big possibilities for social betterment. But it is very seriously self-handicapped. For instance, it is not at all unlikely that the exercise of the vote may, by proper manipulation, result in a nochange resolution in an area which is specially drink-sodden and drink-cursed. Then again, suppose that a no-license resolution has been passed. This means, at most, that only the sale of intoxicants is forbidden in the area. But it does not prevent any thirsty soul who lives in the area from slaking his thirst at the nearest bar beyond the border. Nor does it prevent him from ordering his supply from beyond the border and drinking his fill at home. An evident comment on this double possibility of evasion is that, in order that even a no-license resolution may give promise of anything like satisfactory results, the units of area must not be too circumscribed, and the area in which no-license resolutions
carried must substaxtially predominate.
What, then, should be our attitude towards Local Option?' I am strongly disposed to think that it should be an attitude of waiting. And I am led to that conclusion briefly by the following reasons. First, Ireland is scarcely ripe for a Local Option campaign. A more widespread temperance organization and a more educated public opinion on the drink question seem to me to be necessary to ensure for such a measure reasonable hope of success. It would injure rather than serve the cause of temperance to have secured a Local Option Bill if, in the majority of electoral areas, the voting favoured a continuance of existing licensing conditions. Second, it would, I fancy, be helpful to us to wait and watch the outcome of the experiment in Scotland, and learn wisdom from its or failure.
Third, and this I would emphasize strongly, our demand has been already mademand with fair hope of successful issue—that our shameless and most baneful overstock of public-houses be scrapped, their surviving brethren, in the first instance, to foot the bill of compensation. Now the starting of a Local Option campaign would clearly compromise this demand ; and we should gain more by the closing of eight thousand, than by the problematical success of a Local Option Bill. And, even when our demand shall have, as we hope, borne fruit, Local Option should still have to bide its time, for otherwise the incidence of compensation would be very