The Ashburaton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1888. SUNDAY DRINKING.
The Rer E. A, Scott addressed to us the other day a letter m which he declared it to be " a well-known fact that Sunday drinking is systematically carried on, m several, if not all, the hotels m Ashburton," and he appealed to suggest, if possible, a remedy for this state of things. The rev gentleman sajs that he "has been to several of the Justices of the Peace, and they say nothing can be done — to the police, and they tell him that the law is so framed as to leare innumerable loopholes for escape and to render a conviction almost impossible. They say ; too, that the sympathy of tbe pnblic is with the breakers of tho law, and that when a case, however strong, is brought before the Bench it almost invariably breaks down." There is- a good deal of truth m this, no doubt, but so far as the law goes it is difficult to see how it could be made more explicit. Section 154 of the Licensing Act, 1881, provides that all licensed premises shall be closed from 10 o'clock (or if the licen&e is for extended hours then from 12 o'clock) on Saturday night until six o'clock on ) Monday morning, apd £he following section imposes a (maximum) penalty ! of £10 for a first offence and of £20 for any subsequent offence upon any licensee who keeps his premises open during such hours or allows any liquoraj even though purchased before the hour of closing, to be consumed on his premises during tboee hours. It is, however, specially provided that this is not to preclude an inn keeper from Selling liquor to bom fide travellers or
persons lodging m bis house. Now it is precisely m connection with this saving clause that most of the difficulty arises. The Legislature has taken a good deal of pains to set out tbe matter as explicitly as possible, it being expressly declared that "a person, for tho purposes of this Act, shall not be deemed &bona fide traveller uuless the place where bo lodged during the preceding night is at least three miles distant from the place where he demands to be supplied with liquor, such distance to be calculated by tbe nearest public thoroughfare." When a licensee has taken all reasonable precautions to ascertain whether tbo pur chaser is a bona fide traveller and believes him to be such, he cannot be convicted of illegal sale it it prove that he has been deceived, but the person falsely representing himself to be a bona fide traveller is liable to a penalty of £5. As regards lodgers m hotels there is no difficulty m proving them to be such, and we believe that the best way of putting a stop to Sunday drinking m hotels- would be to repeal that part of tbe clause which makes an exemption m favor of " travellers." The three-mile limit m a large city simply means that those who live at one end can drink at the other, and vice versa. The real bona fide traveller, that is to say a person journeying from town to town, could obtain his wine, beer, or spirits at the hotel at which he lodged for. the night, and no other sort of traveller needs to be provided for, and with the disappearance of this " traveller " exemption the stopping of illicit drinking on Sundays would be much easier than it now is. Our temperance friends might do worse than seek an amendment of the law m this direction.