§ 48. Sir ARTHUR FELL
asked the Prime Minister if there is in this country at the present time an amount of whisky sufficient to last between nine and eleven years at the ordinary rate of consumption; and if, under these circumstances, he will explain the action of the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic)?
I have been asked to reply. There is no information as to duty-paid stocks, nor are there available separate records of stocks of whisky in bond as distinguished from other homemade spirits. The quantity of home-made spirits in bonded warehouses of the United Kingdom on 31st January last was 1580 113,788,000 proof gallons. Before the War requirements for consumption in this country, exports, ships' stores, manufacturing purposes, etc., amounted to about 50,000,000 proof gallons per annum. It would therefore appear that, exclusive of spirit manufactured since 31st January, 1919, the stocks are equal to about two and a quarter years'requirements for all purposes at the pre-war rate. As, however, the rate of duty has been doubled, and prices are much higher than before the War, it is not possible to say what the rate of consumption will be in future, when the present restrictions on clearances have been withdrawn. It must also be remembered that, under the Immature Spirits Act, not all the spirits in bond are available for immediate consumption.
§ Sir A. FELL
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that it is fair that spirits should be exported in large quantities when old people in this country cannot get them?
An hon. Member asks whether this includes the figures for Ireland. It does. The other question is a matter of opinion.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Could the right hon. Gentleman inform us why there is any restriction on the taking of whisky out of bond at the present time, seeing that the War is over?
Sir J. D. REES
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how extremely unpopular it is to have a lot of liquor locked up?
§ 50. Colonel ASHLEY
asked the Prime Minister why the promise made by the Government in November and December last that spirits should be released for use in case of sickness when ordered by a medical man has not been carried out; is he aware that the chances of recovery in some cases of influenza and pneumonia is greatly diminished where stimulants are 1581 unobtainable; and whether, in view of the present serious increase of influenza and pneumonia cases, he will at once take steps to fulfil the promise given by the Government?
I have been asked to reply. As regards the first part of the question, I must refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply to his question on Thursday last. I am glad to say, however, that the Cabinet have since decided that spirits shall now be released up to 75 per cent. instead of 50 per cent. of the quantities released in 1916, and that considerable additional quantities will, therefore, be available.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
May I take it that steps will be taken to see that sick people are able to get whisky, and that publicans and others do not hold it up?