§ 47. Colonel ASHLEY
asked the Prime Minister what was the gist of the Report presented to the War Cabinet by the unknown Committee lately appointed by the Government to report on the activities of the Liquor Control Board?
53. Major NEWMAN
asked the Prime Minister whether the War Cabinet has now decided to terminate the life of the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic); and can he say when an account of the activities of the Board, alike in matters of finance, administration, and propaganda, for the year 1918 will be available, together with a statement of the public money it has expended without the sanction of Parliament?
§ 60. Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
asked the Prime Minister whether he is in a position to announce the Government's permanent policy respecting the restrictions on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The Government have come to the conclusion that some of the powers with respect to this industry hitherto exercised by the Ministry of Food may now be safely modified. The Cabinet has decided that all restrictions should be 959 removed as to the quantity of beer which may be brewed. They are, however, of opinion that restrictions on the gravity ought to be continued—[Lieut.-Colonel THORNE: "Oh, rubbish!"]—but they have decided that the gravity of beer in each grade should be increased by four degrees, that the permitted average gravity of the output of any brewer should be raised by a like amount, and that the price of beer of a gravity under 1020 should be 2d. per pint. The effect of these changes will be that the increased rate of profit derived by the brewers from the larger output of beer will be spent in improving the quality of beer supplied to the public, and consequently the Government does not propose to levy the additional duty which it would otherwise have been able to secure by reason of the increased barrelage.
With respect to the Central Control Board, it is the intention of the Government to terminate the existence of this body, which was created to meet the emergencies of war, and has rendered great service to the country, and to replace it by a Commission under a Minister responsible to Parliament. A Bill to this effect is being prepared and will shortly be introduced.
May I ask if it was not the unanimous opinion of the Liquor Control Board that the low gravity of beer has been the means of driving people to drink whisky, and that the beer of 1020 gravity proposed by the right hon. Gentleman is not so strong as ginger pop?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
What I have just stated as the intention of the Government is to improve the quality of the beer. All that I have said about the 1020 beer is that if it is sold it has to be sold at a very low price.
Sir J. D. REES
Is it proposed that the gravity mentioned shall be retained permanently, and may the public look forward to having as good beer as they had before the War, because that is their expectation?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have said nothing about that, but, of course, the House understands, I am sure, that it is not intended to remove at once all restrictions, and I am sure no section of the country desire it.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
As Question 60 refers to what is described as "intoxicating liquors," may I ask the right hon. Gentleman what he understands by that phrase, and whether it means if you take too much it makes you ill, and does not that apply with enormously increased force to what are ironically called temperance beverages?
§ Mr. BILLING
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that no teetotaller shall be appointed on this Commission?