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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Personal Volume

"No-Licence" in New Zealand

page 23

"No-Licence" in New Zealand

The Hon. Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G.

The Hon. Sir Robert Stout, K.C.M.G.

Sir Robert Stout, ex-Premier of New Zealand, is a distinguished Scotsman, who at present occupies the position of Chief Justice of the Colony, and has done more than any other man to place the land of his adoption in the favourable position it now occupies on this question.

We much regret to say that since giving his consent to write for us, Sir Robert has been seriously ill. In the circumstances we are greatly indebted to Lady Stout, who has most willingly taken her husband's place and prepared for the National Council this very able and convincing paper.

It is with the hope that the following statements of fact of what has taken place in reference to the Drink Problem in New Zealand may be an encouragement to Y.M.C.A. men throughout Scotland, that this pamphlet is issued by the Temperance Committee of the Scottish National Council of Y.M.C.As.

In New Zealand there were many attempts made to minimise the evils of the drink traffic and to regulate the sale of alcohol, before the Local Option Bill became law. None of these measures, however, gave the power to the people to vote for or against the sale of intoxicants. The granting and refusing of licences was left in the hands of a Licensing Committee in 1881, who had the power to refuse licences in cases where the hotels were badly conducted or insufficiently provided with accommodation for lodgers, or on the petition of a majority of the residents in the neighbourhood. The Committee had also the option of refusing licences if they considered the licence was not required.

1893 And After

In 1893 the Local Option Bill became law and thus gave the power of regulating the drink traffic into the hands of the electors. In New Zealand page 2 there is adult suffrage, so the women who had been enfranchised during the previous session of Parliament had the right to vote for the "Continuance," "Reduction," or "No-Licence "of the hotels. The result of the poll in 1896 was that 139,580 votes were cast for "Continuance," 94,555 for "Reduction" and 98,812 for "No-Licence," showing a large majority for "Continuance." At the next poll, owing to the strenuous efforts of the Temperance Party, and the interest that had been awakened amongst the women voters, the "No-Licence" vote increased to 118,575. At the poll in 1902 the position of the parties was reversed, the "No-Licence" vote having secured 3075 of a majority. In 1905 the majority had increased to 15,984, and at the last poll, in 1908, the splendid majority of 33,331 was recorded. There is no doubt that

The Women's Influence and Vote

have been the means of securing the great success in Temperance reform that has been attained in New Zealand. The majority of women consider Temperance and social reform from the effect that it will have upon their husbands, sons, and children. When they have the opportunity they will always record their votes for the good of the community, except in cases where self-interest and financial gain make them ignore the promptings of their conscience. The feeling of responsibility which is aroused by the knowledge that they have the power to sway the destiny of their homes or country by their votes has even more effect upon women than upon men. Women have always been accustomed to leave the responsibility to others, so when they realise that the power is in their own hands they develop a new sense of personal responsibility in the exercise of their duties as citizens. When once that sense is aroused they must vote for what appears to them to be the best means of improving the conditions of social and industrial life. They must vote for removing the vices that have retarded human progress and brought misery and degradation upon those who were least able to bear the burden.

The Effect of "No-Licence"

in New Zealand has been that in twelve districts there is now no liquor trade. Since 1893 there has been a reduction of 462 in the number of hotel bars. At the last "No-Licence" poll 150 bars were closed. Some people might think that that meant a decrease in employment, but such is not the case. The expenditure of money in liquor tends to decrease efficiency, and also the expenditure on useful commodities

In the towns and districts where "No-Licence" has been carried in New Zealand the hotels have been turned into shops for the sale of all kinds of merchandise. The rents of the buildings, instead of being reduced, have been increased. The working men, having money to spend on their homes and families, encourage legitimate trades by their patronage. In Invercargill where "No-Licence" has been working for several years, I found in driving round the town that the workmen's cottages and gardens were clean and tidy and well cared for. The whole place has an appearance of order prosperity, and peace. There is a splendid free library and reading-room. A new town hall and good municipal theatre have been built since "No-Licence" was carried. In all the other districts where the bars have been closed the same conditions prevail.

There is still much to be done, as in the districts where the hotel-bars are open there is a good deal of drunkenness. The evidence of the evil effects of the drink traffic is found in the applications for charitable aid that are made by the wives and children of the men who spend their money in "keeping up the revenue." The people who think the revenue is in danger by the abolition of the drink traffic forget that these men are drawing upon the revenue not only by their incapacity to work, but by the help their families require from charitable aid grant. The statistics of

The Diminution of Crime

in the districts in which "No-Licence" has been carried prove that drink is, in New Zealand at least, the main cause of all crime, misery and degradation.

page 3

In spite of the efforts of the Temperance Party and the habits of the people, the drink bill for the Dominion was increasing per head until last year. Compared with older countries it is very small, being only £311s. 1½d. per head. The quantity consumed compared with the United Kingdom was—New Zealand 10 gallons of beer; United Kingdom 26 gallons per head. Wine and spirits were very much less than Britain, as they are not very much used. The decrease in the amount of liquor that is consumed by temperate people, and the large number of total abstainers, makes it appear as if there must be a good deal of drunkenness amongst those who are the main consumers of alcohol. The evidences of the diminution of crime in the "No-Licence" districts shows clearly the beneficial effect of the abolition of the drink traffic.

The following comparative statement will show the decrease in crime in the "No-Licence" districts.

Clutha.—The number of all offences, except in law cases, for the last ten years under "Licence," was 292, compared with 122 during the first ten years under "No-Licence"; while in the portion of Clutha likely to be more influenced by the drink the figures are respectively 251 and 81.

In Clinton (part of Clutha) all police offences for the last seven years "Licence" numbered 157, and for the first seven years "No-Licence" 41.


Last year "Licence" 1902. First year "No-Licence" 1904.
Drunkenness 91 23
Excessive drinking 26 0
Theft 28 4
Offences against the person 7 2
Miscellaneous offences 36 39
188 68

Nearly all of the convictions for drunkenness came from adjoining license districts.

Oamaru.—Under "Licence" for the last year the total offences numbered 352, whereas under "No-Licence" for the first year there were only 134. The striking extent of the improvement will be realised when it is mentioned that during the last eighteen months of "Licence" the total number of offences was 440, and that during the first eighteen months of "No-Licence" the number was 142.

Mataura.—Under "Licence" for the years 1902 and 1903 the figures were 124 and 78, and under "No-Licence" for 1904 and 1905, 28 and 39.

The chief magistrates and business men of all these districts affirm that "No-Licence" has been most successful from every point of view. The social conditions of the people prove that the closing of the bars has secured prosperity and happiness in families where formerly there was evidence of misery and degradation.

The "No-Licence" Vote

must be in a majority of three-fifths of the votes polled to carry "No-Licence" in any district. Under this restriction there is no chance of a vote for "No-Licence" ever being reversed, as the same provision is made for reversal to "Licence." The Temperance reform party are divided in their opinion as to the fairness of this provision. Some think that the "No-Licence" issue should be carried on a bare majority vote, and that there is no reason and great injustice in a different system being applied to the liquor question than to all other questions in a democratic country. There is a very strong movement to have the question settled by a bare majority, but whether that measure will be carried is doubtful. There is no doubt that justice demands the same treatment for this question as others, but expediency and the safety of a three-fifths majority makes it doubtful if the gain would be very great. There was a bare majority for "No-Licence" in fifty-three of the sixty-eight licensing districts at the last poll, but a three-fifths majority was only page 4 received in twelve districts, which are now under "No-Licence." This does not mean that all the people in these districts are total abstainers, but that no one is allowed to sell alcohol, and that all packages sent into the district for private consumption must be stamped and marked by the consignee. There are evasions of the law, but not to any great extent. Most of the evasions of the liquor laws take place in the districts and towns where the [unclear: bare] open. Hotel bars are all closed on Sundays, and most of them have to close at 10 P.M. on week days, though in some districts the closing hour is 11 P.M. On election days the bars are closed from 12 noon until 7 P.M. The "Reduction" vote ensures a reduction in the number of hotel bars in the districts where "No-Licence" has had a bare majority.

The New Zealand Alliance of Men and Women and the Women's Christian Temperance Union are very strong organisations, and have the help of non-abstainers who believe that the open-bar system is demoralising to the people, and especially to the young people. No respectable woman would be seen entering a public-house bar in New Zealand, nor is it allowable to Kell drink to young people under eighteen years of age.

The temperance sentiment is so strong and the practice of temperance so universal that one rarely sees any but non-alcoholic beverages at hotel or steamer tables.

The Y.M.C.A.

is very powerful in New Zealand, especially in Wellington, where they have a splendid new building fitted up with gymnasium, reading, and recreation rooms. The young men have worked well in the "No-Licence" campaign. The number of members is, I think, about 800 senior and 500 junior. Their debating club has been successful in securing the highest position amongst debating societies. They have also been successful in securing the championship in physical culture gymnastic competitions. Their football, cricket, hockey, and swimming teams all make good records. The young men are developing into splendid specimens of muscular Christianity, and set an example which might well be followed by other organisations of the same class.

The University students in Dunedin gave great assistance in the Temperance campaign, securing by their united efforts the return of a "No-Licence" candidate and a large vote for "No-Licence" in Dunedin. The "No-Licence" Annual Report to hand records a tribute to the work done by the University students, both men and women. The following passage is taken from the Report:—

" Particularly gratifying were the efforts of the University students in Dunedin, whose great gatherings, arranged and carried out by themselves, were the outstanding feature of the Southern campaign. Nor were the young women one whit behind them. From their ranks many of our most successful canvassers were obtained. A cause that can thus command the enthusiasm of so large a proportion of the best of the young men and women of the Dominion may face the future with the greatest confidence."

There appears to be much that the young [unclear: mern] Scotland could do to help the cause, and the example which the New Zealand young men have set should be an incentive to the young men in older lands. The Temperance cause can never flourish without the help of the women and the young people, just as the liquor traffic cannot flourish without the ruin of our boys and the degradation of our girls.

It behoves the members of an association such as the Y.M.C.A. to exert themselves to combat the evils that are incident to the liquor trade. This cannot be effectually done until the political right to vote for or against the closing of the bars has been put into the hands of the men and women of the country.

Published by The Scottish National Council of Y.M.C.As. and Fellowship Unions and Associations, and to be had from the General Secretary, National Council Office, 1 North St Andrew Street, Edinburgh. Price 1/6 per 100, or 10/-per 1000. Orders above 100, carriage paid.