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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 36

Legislation and the Permissive Bill

Legislation and the Permissive Bill.

A man of science trusts, naturally, to the development of truth and to progress out of natural growth of scientific labour. He feels but secondary sympathies with the mere legislator who so often, in the present grossly empirical phase of his labour, legislates in darkness and in backward movement towards ages darker than his own. My mind, therefore, has been more directed to the educational part of the alcohol question than to the legislative. Yet I could not close this address without recurring a moment to what I have already said, viz., that the time has come when the Parliament of this country must in earnest legislate for the suppression, at least in part, of that national folly and disgrace,—the raising of national funds from national degradation. It cannot surely be long now that a free Government will extract its resources from the graves of its people!

It is impossible to ignore these truths, and so, as legislation is forced on the attention, we who are in the forward ranks as teachers must guide the uninformed to that legislation which we consider wisest for the moment, most practicable, and most possible. For my part, at the present moment, while keeping up perfect freedom to accept any other measure that may be suggested or may occur to one's self, I sec nothing better in the way of proposed legislation than the Permissive Bill. Were I in the House of Commons, I should, in the absence of a better and more comprehensive measure, give it my most earnest support. It would, as the law of the land, do more to remove temptation than anything else I can conceive possible; and what this means let all who are influenced by temptation declare. Those who are not influenced need not vote: they will do no harm.