HC Deb 04 July 1916 vol 83 cc1381-5

(1) A brewer shall not brew at his brewery during the first two quarters to which this Act applies more than the aggregate maximum barrelages for those quarters as determined for the purposes of this Act, and shall not brew at his brewery in any subsequent quarter to which this Act applies more than his maximum barrelage for the quarter as determined for the purposes of this Act.

(2) If a brewer acts in contravention of this provision he shall be liable in respect of each offence to an Excise penalty of one hundred pounds, and, in addition, to an Excise penalty of two pounds for every barrel of beer brewed by him exceeding the maximum barrelage.

(3) This Section shall not apply to brewers other than brewers for sale.

Amendments made:

In Sub-section (1), after the word "brewery" ["brewery during"], insert the words "or breweries."

Leave out the word "two," and insert instead thereof the word "three."

After the word "brewery" ["brewery in any"], insert the words "or breweries."—[Sir G. Younger.]


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3), to add the words "nor to beer brewed solely for export, if exported."

A very large quantity of beer brewed in this country is exported, and the restrictions embodied in the present Bill have been designed for use at home. A very large business has grown up during the last eight or ten months in connection with this export, and the effect of this Bill if forced on the brewing trade would be to cut off a very large part of that beer, which would be supplied through other sources. I am informed that in certain cases the export of malt for beer is going on, and I believe that to be the fact. There is also the fact that the Government, while restricting the output of beer for consumption by the troops in France, are not restricting the importation of foreign barley as malt which is to go on under this Bill, and though the beer is not brewed in this country, the malt is sent to France to ferment there. There is also this consideration. The supply of German beer to foreign countries has been very largely cut off, in fact, almost entirely cut off. This given our breweries an opportunity for trade which will be useful to this country at the termination of the War. If there is a restriction on export that trade will be lost and will fall back again into German hands. There are brewers in this country, of whom I am one, whose trade in beer for export purposes is a trade in old beer—that is to say, beer brewed in one season would not be exported from this country until the year after. For brewers in that position the supplies of beer brewed before this Bill was introduced will suffice for the immediate future, but looking ahead for a year or more, this Bill is going to impose most serious restrictions. I think that those points should be taken into consideration. I am not impressed by the arguments in reference to the tonnage occupied by beer that is exported. Beer is not exported in shiploads. It is only exported in small quantities, in comparatively small consignments, as part of a general cargo. The beer exported from this country goes to those particular foreign countries to which there is not a very large export of material at the present time, and where ships are constantly required to bring back articles which are urgently needed in this country, often by the Government, and nearly always for national purposes. I certainly think that this case requires some consideration by the Committee, and I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.


I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment, because the effect of it would be that whereas all the beer available for consumption in this country was to be reduced by 15 per cent, any quantity of beer might be exported. That would clearly defeat the object of the Bill. I think that I can answer the points that have been made by my hon. Friend. The export of malt is now prohibited. My hon. Friend shakes his head.


It is licensed.


It is prohibited. It cannot be exported without a licence. Licences are being confined to a quantity of lager beer malt which is already in existence in this country, and which it would be waste not to allow to be exported, because there are only two or three brewers of lager beer in this country, and without exception they prepare their own malt. I understand that the malt used for brewing lager beer cannot be used for brewing ordinary English beer. Therefore, if this malt were kept here and not allowed to be exported it would be simply wasted. The malting season is now over, and it is not proposed to allow this export to continue when the new malting season begins. Maltsters have been so informed. I assent to what my hon. Friend says, that the object of this Bill is not to prevent small parcels of beer or malt either being exported. The main object is to prevent the importation of large quantities of brewing materials. If we accepted this Amendment I am afraid that the object of the Bill would be defeated. I hope that my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment.


Perhaps my hon. Friend's Amendment goes a little further than he desires, because it refers to the export of beer to every part of the world, but the hon. Gentleman's answer with regard to the beer exported for our troops in France is surely not conclusive. The hon. Gentleman suggests that the malt which was going to be sent from this country to France to make this beer is lager beer malt, which would be of no use in this country. It would be of no use in this country at the present moment, but it can be made of use by putting it into the kilns and exposing it to a higher temperature than that to which it was originally subjected. But this is an argument which I take note of in order to emphasise, if I can, the almost idiotic way in which the Board of Agriculture has dealt with this matter from the beginning. I do not think that I am using too strong a word. More than a year ago it was brought to their notice that a certain amount of malt was being made by maltsters in certain parts of England and Scotland for the purpose of lager beer brewing in Holland and Denmark. The Board of Agriculture in Scotland showed conspicuous and somewhat unusual good sense by prohibiting its export altogether. But that policy did not find favour with the Board of Agriculture here, and it was hard lines on those in Scotland who had made this malt, without any idea that their trade would be interfered with, not to be permitted to export it, while in England they were exporting on a licence—this was a year ago—and there was no need whatever that they should go on making any more. The hon. Gentleman now tells us that they have made a great deal more, causing a repetition of the situation, which has been one of acute agitation ever since, and they should not, I submit, be put in the difficulty of having to ask the hon. Gentleman now for leave to do that which they had leave to do last year. I hope that the practice will be stopped now, and that a little more consideration will be shown than has been manifested in the past in this matter. If it be true that the malt can be utilised here, it is surely better to brew the beer here than to send the malt to France to be brewed there. In the first place they brew in France under very bad conditions, which cannot be compared to the conditions here with regard to cleanliness or in other respects, and I believe there have been very grave complaints from the military authorities as to the beer which is brewed in France. In any event, even if the bad beer were made in this country instead of in France, there would be the advantage of having it brewed here, and the money coming back to us.


This amount of malt I is additional, and, if the hon. Gentleman stopped it, you would not be able to export another gallon of beer.


I do not understand that last remark made by the hon. Gentleman. It is quite clear that there is power to export malt by licence, and it has been very plainly put by the acting President to the Board of Trade, in answer to a question the other day, that the, Department still intend, so far as they are concerned in the matter, that malt shall continue to be exported for the supply of beer to the troops. We are asking that the beer shall be brewed in this country as far as possible, but you are going to allow the malt to be brewed abroad, and you will not allow the extra quantity to be brewed in this country. The matter apparently does not seem to be very clearly understood, but I do not want to press it on the Government at the present moment. There are certain facts which I do not wish to discuss publicly at this stage, but which I may have to bring before the House on the Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.