A very influential deputation waited on the Colonial Secretary on Saturday, and urged the retention in the new Licensing Bill of the bottle license, so far, at least, as the Provincial District of Otago is concerned. They contended that the bottle license was a discouragement to. intemperance, rather than a- fostering agency, and denied that there was any foundation for J the assertion that the bottle ' license aided intemperate women in obtaining drink from stores without their husbands’ knowledge, urging that this cry had been artfully started by the publicans. They farther stated that,-were there any truth in the cry, the abuse could easily; be prevented by a judicious system of watchfulness, and by increasing the license fee from its present amount ,of LlO This increase, the deputation 1 said, would practically confine, the, trade to respectable shops, not likely to be guilty of improper practices, nor of conniving at deception. We are rather surprised to find the .names tf the Hon. W. H. Reynolds, * M.L.0., Mr.; Barron, M. H. R., and: Mr.. f Driver, M. H. R., on the list of those who composed the deputation to advocate the retention of any such pernicious -system as the bottle license. To their denial of the assertion that dissipated . women use the - opportunity the' 1 bottle license gives them to supply themselves with liquor without their husbands’ knowledge, and have it entered in' the household accounts as some other and less harmless commodity, we have only to answer that it is no use denying what is an ascertained fact, and that in places where the grocer combines ; ■ with his grocery.trade that of retailing;spirits the fact that such practices are; common has been abundantly proved in open Court, and though we have no certain knowledge that such tricks are played in Otago, we have no doubt, from the catholicity to a greater or less degree of avarice and selfishness in human nature, ; that “grocers and spirit dealers” cofild be found in Otago quite willing’to ■ make a pound of butter appear in the household bill when the article actually supplied was a shilling’s worth of rum or gin. The publicans may perhaps be tempted to giro more prominence to this objection to bottle licenses than it really deserves, and to make a cry of it, but there can bo no question that it has foundation in fact. Another reason why the grocer ought not to be allowed to conjoin the sale of liquor in small quantities with the retail of grocery goods is the door the system opens to tippling. It is scarcely within the bounds of possibility for - the police to exercise proper surveillance over, all the licensed houses that would fall to their care were the bottle license general, and a high license fee would, we think, only tend to increase the retailer’s temptation., We do hope Government will be firm; and strenuously refuse t 6 admit the' -bottle license into their Licensing Bill.
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