HC Deb 24 March 1823 vol 8 cc661-3

The report of the committee on the Beer Duties acts being brought up,

Mr. H. Sumner

expressed his doubt that abuses might be practised under the provisions of the bill. A brewer making the new description of beer might keep a house in which persons could drink it; and thus, in fact, maintain a public house without holding a licence.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that no man keeping a public-house would be allowed to brew the new beer on his premise. There was a clause, providing that a bublican who wished to brew within a certain distance of the house which he used as a public-house.

Mr. Alderman Wood

said, that the bill professed to give the poor man a cheap beverage, while it subjected him to a charge from which the rich man, brewed his own beer, was exempt. He thought it hardship, that the publican, who paid high rent, was obliged to take out a licence, and was subjected to other burthens, should be prevented from selling the new sort of beer.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

approved of the measure, as he thought it would enable the poorer classes to get malt liquor cheaper than they could at present. This reconciled him to the bill; though he did not deny, that it might slightly affect the public brewers and publicans.

Mr. Alderman Smith

thought it was desirable to get the public houses out of the hands of the brewers.

Mr. Benett,

of Wilts, though he approved of the principle of the bill, thought it would be difficult to carry its details into effect. He preferred a malt to a beer tax; though his own personal interest would be affected by the former. He should be glad to find that the sale of beer was legalized, like that of all other commodities. This would promote the comfort of the labouring classes; who would thus be enconraged to send for their beer, and consume it with their families, instead of wasting their time, their money, and their health, in public-houses.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he did not bring forward this measure as one free from objections; but, as the principle of the bill seemed to be gene rally admitted, he hoped a fair trial would be given to it.

Mr. Grattan

wished the plan to be extended to Ireland, where a good beer, sold at a reasonable price, might, in some measure, supersede the use of spirits.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed, that there was no beer duty in Ireland.

Mr. Grattan

said, he looked to the effect of having beer sold, without the necessity of a public-house licence.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

thought the sale of beer, without a licence, in Ireland, was a matter worthy of consideration.

Mr. W. Williams

thought the provisions of the bill could be better carried into effect by an ad valorem duty on beer, than by the mode now proposed.

Mr. F. Lewis

thought it would be perfectly practicable to impose a duty, ad valorem, on beer. The late chancellor of the exchequer had had in contempla- tion such a tax. He himself (Mr. F. L.) was convinced, that such a tax could be very accurately adjusted. The monopoly of beer had arisen, in a great measure, out of the uniformity in the quality of beer, necessitated by the present inartificial system of duties, which was as old as the time of Charles 2nd. By means of the saccharometer, the quality of, beer could he accurately ascertained, and the duties apportioned accordingly.

Mr. F. Buxton

objected to the measure, on the ground, that it imposed an unfair duty on the brewers, whose capitals were already embarked in the trade, while a lower rate of duty was imposed on the new race of brewers, which the bill was calculated to encourage.

The resolutions were agreed to.