§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. STORER,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, it was a very short Bill, but it had excited approval in many parts of the country. It proposed to remedy a grievance which had been long felt by the consumers of beer. He need not say that it was a very important measure, inasmuch as beer had been held by no less an authority than the late Prime Minister to be a necessary of life to the working man. No doubt, brewing of beer had not increased at all of late years; but in spite of the efforts of toototallers, beer still held its own. In the opinion of the great majority of the people of the country—[Cries of "Move!"] He merely wished that some little reason should be given why the Bill should be read a second time. The Bill provided that persons who sold beer brewed from or containing any ingredients other than hops and malt from barley, should show that the beer was so brewed, and that in default of giving such notice they should be subjected to certain fines. Some of the ingredients now used made very inferior beer, and it was to prevent adulteration that this Bill was introduced.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Storer.)
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR)
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not press the Bill at that time. He sympathized with the object the hon. Gentleman had in view, which was to prevent the adulteration of beer; but the Bill appeared to go on the assumption that beer which was composed of other materials than hops and malt was necessarily adulterated. Different opinions were held on the point, and he believed that by an existing Act of Parliament the use of sugar in the brewing of beer was already allowed. Moreover, it was not possible by any test known at present to detect whether sugar had or had not been used in the production of beer. He thought that those facts would cause his hon. Friend 1937 to pause before he asked the House to accept the second reading of the Bill. Besides, the subject was one of a controversial character, and therefore it was questionable whether it should be considered at that time of the morning (1.45).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Arthur O'Connor.)
§ MR. HICKS
said, he thought he could adduce reasons why the debate should not be adjourned. The question had been before the House and the country for some time; it had arisen in consequence of the action taken by the late Prime Minister in the year 1880 in changing the Malt Duty into a Beer Duty. It was perfectly true, as was said by his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. A. J. Balfour), that sugar had been allowed to be used in the production of beer.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question before the House is the adjournment of the debate, and therefore the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to discuss the Main Question.
§ MR. HICKS
said, he was endeavouring to show the House that in consequence of the importance of the subject it was desirable that the debate should be continued; but, if he was not allowed to do that, he could only say, representing, as he did, a large agricultural constituency, and knowing how very much that interest suffered by the very Bill which was professedly brought in for its benefit—for the price of barley had fallen 3s. to 4s. a-quarter in consequence of that Bill—he hoped the Government would undertake to consider the question most seriously during the Recess, and at the beginning of the next Parliament to bring in a Bill of their own to relieve the agricultural interest from the great injury which had been inflicted upon them, and to protect the consumers of beer from having deleterious compounds imposed upon them.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD
said, that as he gathered that his hon. Friend (Mr. Storer) was quite ready to drop the Bill if the Government would promise to consider the question, and if they would bring in a measure of their own, he 1938 thought the best course to pursue would be to give such a promise.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Bill withdrawn.