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THIS LICENSING COMMITTEES., Issue 7946, 29 June 1889, Supplement
THIS LICENSING COMMITTEES.
TO TIIK KDITOU. Sin,—l must not be outdone- in courtesy by !>r Diysd.ile, and I thank him for the compliments paid mc by him in your r«mc of this evening. It is not often that writers on the opposite sides of tho drink question can thus" exchange courtesies, Who u responsible for this 1 do not care to inquire. I fear that on this point l)r Drysdale and 1 hold different opinions. Having said so much, permit me now to correct tho doctor in particulars. First, T drew no inference such as he suggests; I but pointed to a "coincidence." If we arc permitted to see tho results of the coining year's experience wc may be better able then than wo are now to compare notes on the influence of the bottle license on the social habits of the people. I should have been glad if Dr Drysdale had given us the statistics of the drink ahop3 at the Port during "the last five or six years," the number of houri thoy were open during each year, with tho population of the borough and tho number of " convictions for drunkenness " during the same periods. With such information as I have suggested we would be in a betle* position to judge of the correctness of the conclusions to which Dr Drysdale has arrived as to the causes which induce more or less drunkenness.
Then, sir, Dr Drysdale tells us that he has been a "licensing commissioner for many years." If from this the doctor wishes us to infer that he still is a " licensing commissioner," then tho doctor is wrong. He is now a " member of a licensing committee." Perhaps the doctor uses the former term to signify tho samo thing ; but they do not mean the Bame thing, they express a difference as well as a distinction, and it is as well to be accurate in the use of terms.
I note that Dr Drysdalo is a magistrate as well as a member of the Licencing Committee. He is also, I believe, Health Ollieer at Port Chalmers. When I remember this I am surprised that the doctor should anticipate with satisfaction "an increase in the number of ' drunks'" at the Port, even though these Bhould be accompanied by some improvement in the general well-being of the community. Permit me very respectfully to suggest to Dr Dryßdale that such a sentiment does not appear to me to be consistent with a due appreciation of the domestic unhappiness, the personal debase-
ment, the social demoralisation, the physical deterioration, and the serious wrong to the body politic which an "increase in the number of' drunks'" signifies. But 1 will now revert to Dr Drysdale's " few remarks" as chairman of the Licensing Committee. The doctor is of opinion that " no person who is notoriously pledged to do his utmost to abolish the traffic should be eligible for a seat on the Licensing Bench." Why not? The Act which provides for the election of the Licensing " Committee," not "Bench," was, I think, obviously designed to put the "liquor traffic" under popular control. The granting and the refusing of licenses arc at tho absolute " discretion" of the licensing committees, and it is my contention that, aocordiug to the provisions of tho Act the committees have to carry out, they have no rljhl. to grunt any sort of license uulesa they arc satisfied " there is a necessity for the publicbouse or other establishment for tho sale of intoxicating liquors, for which the application is made." Then the licensing committee who are to c. v crcise their discretion and judge of this necessity are to be elected by tiio ratepayers ; and who aro better able than these to judge of tho necessity for drinking shops in their midst? If they are of opinion the drink shops are not necessary and wish that no licenses should be granted, have they not a good right to give effect to that opinion by electing candidates pledged to refuse licenses, or, to use the words of Dr Drysdale, to do their utmost to abolish the traffic ? But if those who aro opposed to the continuance of the traffic arc ineligible to sit on licensing committees, are not those who arc interested in the continuance of the trade equally disqualified ? If -not, why not ? Then if those who wish to have the trade abolished and those who desire to have it continued are alike ineligible, who are eligible for seats on the committees? Perhaps Dr Drysdale will kindly tell us. Then the doctor complains that the liquor traders have to submit to treatment to which " no other trade or industry is subjected." It is quite true the liquor trade is placed under conditions to which no other trade has to submit; but the reason is obvious—there is no other trade like the liquor trade. If Dr Drysdale knows of any other trade in New Zealand at all analogous to the liquor trade, will he be good enough to point it out. But the doctor says this liquor traffic is an "occupation which is directly countenanced by the State." I am not quite sure in what sense Dr Drysdale uses this word " countenanced." If he means by it, as from the context I fancy he does, that the State " encourages" the liquor traffio, favors and fosters it, then I join issue with the doctor, and ask how can this be said of the relations of the State to a trade which Ims been placed under all the limitations
and disadvantages involved in tho operation of tho Licensing Act? If, however, Dr Drysdale means by the term used that the State recognises tho trade, notes its peculiar character, observes its effects, and therefore feels under the necessity of /naking special provision for its conduct, then I am at one with him. The State recognises this trade as an extremely dangerous one—so dangerous as to bo permitted only where men specially elected to consider the question deem the trade to bo nccesEai'y fi.r the convenience of the people. Not, Ij-j it.observer', where some man thinks lie cau e.xrry <>n tho trade for his own individual profit, but where it is necessary for the convenience of the public. It is worthy of special note that the State nowhere eonaiders the profit of the publican, but tho necessities of the public. This is a view of the case of which Dr Drysdale appears to have altogether lost sight. I could culargo on this important phaso of this licensing question, but fear to extend this letter, already too long. There aro other points in Dr D.ryadale's "few remarks" deserving of comment, but I for the present forbear. I shall await with somo interest Dr Drysdale's reply to, or comments on, tho sevoral points I have already raised.—l am, etc., Vebitas Vincit. Duncdin, June 22.
THIS LICENSING COMMITTEES., Issue 7946, 29 June 1889, Supplement
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