HC Deb 06 July 1916 vol 83 cc1686-90

(1) The maximum barrelage shall be-determined by the Commissioners in the case of each brewery and shall be, as respects any quarter, the standard barrel-age as defined in this Section with the addition as respects any quarter after the first quarter of the surplus barrelage as so defined.

(2) The standard barrelage for the purposes of this Section shall be—

  1. (a) in the case of a brewery which was working during the corresponding quarter in the year ending the thirtieth day of September, nineteen hundred and fifteen, the number of barrels which appear to the Commissioners to have been brewed at the brewery in that quarter; and
  2. (b) in the case of a brewery which was not working in the corresponding quarter of that year, the number of barrels which appear to the Commissioners to be reasonable having regard to the average number of barrels brewed at the brewery during the time the brewery has been working; and
  3. (c) in the case of any special brewery where the Commissioners are satisfied that, owing to the transfer of a brewing business or any other change in the circumstances of the brewery taking place after the thirtieth day of September, nineteen hundred and fourteen, the standard barrelage as ascertained under the foregoing provisions does not afford a proper standard of comparison or affords no standard of comparison, such number of barrels as the Commissioners think just having regard to the special circumstances of the case;
reduced in each case by fifteen per cent:

Provided that if a brewer gives notice to the Commissioners before the first day of August, nineteen hundred and sixteen that he desires that the foregoing provisions of this Section should be applied to his brewery with the substitution of the year ending the thirtieth day of September, nineteen hundred and fourteen for the year ending the thirtieth day of September, nineteen hundred and fifteen, and of thirty per cent, for fifteen per cent., those provisions shall be applied to his brewery with those substitutions, subject to the power of His Majesty by Order in Council to withdraw this privilege as from a subsequent date to be fixed by the Order in Council or to substitute any higher percentages pro rata if, at any time after the expiration of six months from the first day of April, nineteen hundred and sixteen, it appears that the rate of the total output of beer in the United Kingdom is not reduced to below a rate of twenty-six million barrels a year.

(3) If any licensed premises shall after the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and fourteen, have been or be sold, transferred, mortgaged, or leased to any brewer, the brewer shall be entitled thereafter to supply to the licensed premises the same quantity (less fifteen per cent.) of beer as has previously been supplied to those premises, and if the beer has previously been supplied by another brewer the maximum barrelage of that other brewer shall be reduced by the amount of such supply, and the maximum barrelage of the brewer to whom the premises shall be so sold, transferred, mortgaged, or leased, shall be similarly increased. The transfer of a mortgage on any licensed premises shall be deemed to be a transfer of licensed premises within this Section.

(4) For the purposes of this Section the surplus barrelage shall be, as respects any 'quarter, the number (if any) of barrels by which the aggregate number of bands brewed during the previous quarters to which the Act applies is less than the aggregate standard barrelage for those quarters.

Amendments made: In Sub-section (2) (a) leave out the words, "thirtieth day of September, nineteen hundred and fifteen," and insert instead thereof the words "thirty-first clay of March, nineteen hundred and sixteen"; with corresponding Amendments in remainder of Sub-section. — [Mr. Pretyman.]


I beg to move to leave out the word "thirty" ["thirty per cent, for fifteen per cent."], and to insert instead thereof the word "twenty-five."

On the Committee stage I called attention to the fact that the basis now agreed upon with regard to the standard period for the reduction in the output of beer inflicts grave hardship on the small brewers in various parts of the country. Their position as compared with that of the large brewers who have taken very extensive contracts for the supply of can teens, and who are to reduce their out put by only 15 per cent., seems to me to be very anomalous. The main object of the Bill is to get a substantial and agreed reduction in the output of beer. The whole output of these small country brewers, whose customers in many cases have left them owing to the movement of population in connection with the War, is a very small fraction of the total out put of beer in the country. The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out in the Committee stage that the reduction first agreed upon was 28 per cent, upon the 1914 standard. I am informed by the small brewers that that was agreed to with a good deal of reluctance, but they accepted the statement that it was necessary in the national interest. They subsequently found that, owing to representations by, the brewers who had a very large share of the canteen contracts that the troops could not be supplied with beer to a reasonable extent if 1914 were taken as the standard, because these large can teen contracts could not then be executed, the period was altered to 1915. To show the position of these small brewers I will give one typical case in which the reduction in the output in 1915 as compared with 1914 is 24 per cent. If the hon. Gentleman insists on his 30 per cent., the only option for that small brewery, which is working almost at a loss owing to the diminution of its output, will be either to make a further reduction of 15 per cent, on the 1915 standard—I am speaking of the Bill before the period was altered to March, 1916—


It is practically the same total.


Yes. This small brewery will either have to add 15 per cent, to the already ascertained reduction of 24 per cent., making 39 per cent., or to take the 1914 standard and make a reduction of 30 per cent, on that. Instead of having to make a reduction of 15 per cent., as in the case of the larger breweries, the only option before this small brewery will be to make a reduction of 30 per cent, or 39 per cent., according to the period they adopt. This particular brewery during the spring of this year obtained a share of the canteen contracts, but it will be perfectly impossible for them to supply any canteen beer at all if they have to reduce their output by either 39 per cent, or 30 per cent. The effect of the Bill as it stands will therefore be to throw the small share of the canteen contracts obtained by the small breweries into the hands of the large breweries, and thus create a practical monopoly, which may affect both the price and the quality of the beer supplied to the troops. I do not think that that is a desirable effect to produce. The hon. Gentleman said that 28 per cent, was originally agreed Upon. I ask him to reduce that 28 per cent, by three instead of increasing it by two. As the Bill stands, the burden upon these small breweries will be such that in many cases they will be unable to pay anything, even to their debenture holders; therefore I ask the hon. Gentleman to accept this very moderate proposal.


I beg to second the Amendment. I hope the hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept this very reasonable proposal. By the Bill as drawn he cannot reduce below 30 per cent., but he can always increase. If he accepts the Amendment and then finds he does not get the total reduction desired, he can always, by Order in Council, put on an extra 5 per cent, increase. If the Bill goes through as it stands his hands will be tied. He may get a greater reduction and still be unable to give relief to the small brewers. As this measure is going through practically by consent, and everyone is endeavouring to assist the Government by all the means in his power, it is very necessary that the Government should be as just as possible, and see that no harm is done to the small brewers, who are the least able to help themselves in times like the present.

4.0 P.M.


I have every sympathy with the spirit of the suggestion made by my hon. Friends, but I think they have omitted to note that the standard on which the Bill was based was the 1915 standard. That has now been altered. The standard is not the 1914 standard at all. The 1914 standard is merely an alternative put in for the very reason advanced by my hon. Friends, namely, to remove the extreme hardship caused to the small brewers. The reason why we could not adopt the 1914 standard as a whole was that it is not a question of the brewers only; it is a question of the consumers also; and we were obliged, as I explained in Committee, to take a standard which approximated as nearly as possible to the present distribution of population. If we had taken the 1914 standard, we should have been forcing beer to be brewed according to the old distribution of population, and it would all have had to be conveyed by rail — thereby adding to the congestion on the railways — to the munitions centres and the places; where there are assemblages of troops. It was absolutely necessary to fix that standard. It was then pointed out that this was a hardship to the small brewers. To meet this case we have given them the alternative percentage. We are quite aware whichever way it is looked at that the brewer will suffer some diminution of his trade. It is, however, quite impossible for me to accept this Amendment, for we should lose our reduction—


A very small fraction!


I know! It is "the-very small one" argument that is constantly put forward. But we have definitely, in the national interests, to bring the manufacture and consumption of beer to 26,000,000 barrels, and we cannot depart from that. Everybody has been treated on that basis, and it is quite impossible for us to depart from it. I gave no sort of suggestion to my hon. Friend that I should accept this Amendment, or consider it, nor had I any notice that my hon. Friend proposed to move it again on Report. It is not down on the Paper. Therefore, I really think the point was completely answered in Committee. My hon. Friend must not think that the Government have not got full sympathy with the small brewer. It was for that reason we inserted this provision giving him the alternative, and I do not think it is very gracious having given the alternative to minimise the hardship—or quite fair—to-found on it further demands which would completely alter the whole basis of the-Bill.

Amendment negatived.