§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I am fully conscious of the responsibility resting on one who seeks to urge upon the Members of this House the carrying of a Measure which has never before been introduced to it. That in itself, I submit, is one of the most remarkable features of this proposal to-day, that it should be the first Measure of the kind. In order to select, as I thought, the best authorities that would be most likely to appeal to the Parliamentary representation of our country, I propose to give excerpts expressing the views of those who have been Members of our Government, statesmen of a past day and statesmen of the present time, but before I do that there is one appeal that comes from the depths of those who have been agonising for years in regard to this great issue. it is a message. from a man at Burton-on-Trent, who says:Dear Sir..Just a line to wish you good luck in your temperance work. May God, in His goodness, be with you in your noble work. You will have a hard fight against the brewery millionaires. of which there are lots in this town, but you are for that which is right, and in the end it will prevail, even through jeers and perhaps insults. I am now.50 years of age. At the age of 12 I was taken by drunken parents to the workhouse, aria we never had a fair chance since. I saw a will in the paper a few days ago, the- owner of the pub' where my father used to spend his wages, who died and left £52,000. Some of this was the cause of my going to the workhouse. Go in mid win. With best wishes.I do not think anything could better deliver the message, that, in my mind, does not need to be emphasized, concerning the results of the drink traffic. I want, as I say, to give some excerpts from notable speeches that certainly are not being quoted for the first time, because some of them have been familiarised throughout the country from temperance platforms, but the unfortunate thing is that nothing has ever been done to apply the logical 2452 conclusion of the messages that have been delivered. Mr. Gladstone himself said:The evils arising from drink were worse than the combined ravages of war, pestilence, and famine,and that in reality was a quotation from Mr. Charles Buxton. Lord Randolph Churchill, at Walsall, on the 29th July, 1889, said:Imagine what a prodigious social reform, what a bound in advance we should have made, if we could curb and control this devilish and destructive traffic.Lord Balfour said:Intemperance at this moment is one of the greatest social scourges we have to undergo, for it is the parent and producer of countless evils, and if we could put an end to it by any means we should deserve the gratitude of posterity.Lord Rosebery, at Lincoln, on 20th September, 1904, said:The Government had to deal with a powerful and encroaching monopoly, which influences, and to sonic extent corrupts. every branch of our municipal and political life. What was their course? They fortified the monopoly against the public interest. … I say that the conduct of the Government, in promoting, at the expense of the public interest, and in fortifying.:US against the public interest, so great and so dangerous a monopoly as this. was little less than treason to their duty." And on another occasion he said: "If the nation did not throttle the liquor traffic, the liquor traffic would throttle the nation.The right hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd (Gorge.), during the time of the War, said that we were fighting Germany, Austria, and drink, and the greatest of those enemies was drink. The demand was being made at that time, not for temperance legislation, but for what we are asking to-day, that which seems so ridiculous emanating from this quarter, but with this exception, that it was only to be for the period of the war, but so far as my argument is concerned it was the demand and the appeal which we are urging upon you to-day. Their own declaration, some of the very gentlemen who were representatives of the commercial classes of our country, placed before the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time that it was essential for the business interests, for the safety of the nation, that there should he no temperance legislation regarding this business, but its complete cessation. When that sort of declaration was made in these days. there was no man on those benches nor in any part of the country in any respon- 2453 sible place, nor the man on the street, who was saying anything else, except those who represented the probihition party movement, than that we were going to get prohibition. We, as prohibitionists, however, said there will he. no prohibition, and sure enough the liquor trade exercising its paramount power, proceeded to metaphorically choke the statesman who made that. declaration. The liquor power then was predominant, and so was able, metaphorically, to choke the man who delivered this message, that we were fighting Germany, Austria, and drink, and that the greatest enemy of the three was drink. If that were anything approaching the truth, I submit that the Ministers were committing treason to the King by harbouring an enemy, licensing an enemy, to devastate the hearts and homes of the people. The only condition on which the business is done is that we say, "You can carry on your ravages upon our people, so long as you pay us something as a toll for the permission to early on the desperate work." The Right Hon. John Burns said:The tavern throughout the centuries has been the antechamber to the workhouse, the chapel of case to the asylum, the recruiting station for the hospital, the rendezvous of the gambler, and the gathering ground for the gaol.I am not surprised, as things go, at. the smile which rests upon the countenances at the very idea that we should even dare to suggest that we should be true to our reason, that. we should be just to our arguments, and say that we mean business. But not up to now has there been a party, however great in the State, capable, apparently, of giving a lead to the people. I do not count on numerical influence, and the facts I am giving the House now prove that numerical influence is of no use. Instead of determination to fight an adverse force, to contend against the enemy, we find this line of reasoning—" You cannot do it; you must be practical. You must recognise that you can only take people as far as they will go with you." Is that the guide which we are told to follow from that Table here every day. "The lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path?" Is not that the greatest factor in helping the soul and conscience to stand up against all men, and concerning which we find the message that one man standing with Almighty God is a majority'? God knows 2454 your majorities here do not proceed on those lines. It is often said that if we could only get away from the Whips, we might be able to exercise our conscience. I do not recognise majorities on that basis at all. I do not think it necessary to recite all the quotations I have here, but one I feel, I must not omit. Sir William Harcourt. produced a measure in February, 1893—a Pleasure which was one of many that. had in the form of a Resolution or Bill passed the turnstile of Second Beading, and been accepted on the general basis: just as you had that magnificent victory in this House of which I was told when a Second reading was carried by an overwhelming majority, and now the "fairy godmother" then etherialised away, is feeling that there is nothing left. On that occasion the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) suggested that it was an absurdity for a Member of this House to introduce a measure which there was no hope of passing. That is just the kind of measure that I feel is required. It is an easy kind of thing to get an apology for a man to go into the Lobby when he finds the crowd going along with him. In the solemn meaning of the words quoted on that occasion,Perish policy and cunning.Perish that fears the light;Whether losing, whether winning,Trust in Cod and do the right.I suggest in all humility—and the records of my political career can stand the proof—that we have been prepared to go under, and, as the same Book tells us, that if we arc prepared to lose our lives so far as the world is concerned, then we shall gain them. Sir William Harcourt said:Crime, though it is largely diminished, happily, in this country, is still a great blot upon our social system, and he who knows anything of the matter knows this: that of all the sources and causes of crime, the most fertile is to be found in drink. Now if these things are so—and I think there is no man on either side of the House who denies it—we who are representatives of the people, who are responsible for the well-being of the people, have to ask ourselves whether we have done anything in the past, or whether we intend to do anything in the future, to remedy those evils, to stay this plague which is amongst us.What do we see in our midst? Go to the flaring gin shop with the flaunting misery you will find there, and consider the men and women who make the congregation in these places, and ask yourselves whether Parliament has clone -what it ought to do to 2455 put a stop to such scenes as you behold. Go to the country villages, go amongst those pleasant spats of which there are so many in this fortunate land, and what will you see there? At one end of the village you will see the church and the chapel, and at the other end you will see the savings bank, and between the two you will see three or four, or it may be half a. dozen, public houses which upset the services of the church and which absorb the savings of the people.Is not that a state of things that we ought to do something to put an end to? And this is all the doing of the laws which you have made, because this is a traffic which exists by a. creation of the law. It is a regular monopoly of the law. It is not the people who license those houses, nor those who maintain them where they are. They cannot do away with them if they choose. They are planted there by authority, which is outside and independent of the communities whose welfare is so deeply affected by them. I venture to affirm that no man can say that Parliament has hitherto done what it ought to do in such a matter as this.I turn to Sir George Murray, Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, who, speaking at the Brewers Banquet. in 1897, said:Through your agency, I am enabled to extract from the pockets of the people a sum of money.… and to do this without their knowing anything about it at all.That is, as they consume the drink. They arc not conscious of what is happening otherwise—What the people pay to me, I think they generally charge to you, and that seems to me an extremely satisfactory result to both of us.— If the unfortunate taxpayer knows nothing about it, so much tile better for him, so much the better for you, and so much the better for me. Where ignorance produces such bliss, do you think it. wise to enlighten?A very fine message, which deserves serious consideration. I turn to the Royal Commission's Report of the 24th April, 1896, which was signed by 17 Commissioners, eight of whom represented the liquor trade—It is undeniable that a gigantic evil remains to be remedied and hardly any sacrifice would be too great which would result in a marked diminution of this national degradation. Nor is parliament likely to rest satisfied with leaving things as they arc, or to trust wholly to the influences we have described.Her late Majesty, known as "Victoria the Good," said, in addressing King Khama and two other great African chiefs when they visited this country—I feel strongly in this matter, and I am glad to see that the chiefs have determined to keep so great a curse from their people.2456 Here in this land we are supposed to have democratic rule by virtue of the ballot box, and yet what example do we set to those who came from a far-off land? Victoria the Good had to undergo the sad experience that her conscience was silenced by her Minister of State, her adviser—the adviser to the Crown! John Wesley, the representative of one of the largest religious bodies in England--indeed, in the world—described those engaged in the business asPoisoners-General murdering His Majesty's subjects wholesale—neither does their eye pity or spare. They drive them to hell like sheep, and what is their gain? Is it not the blood of these men? Who, then, would envy their large estates, their sumptuous palaces, for a curse is in the midst of them?I may say, however, that the Wesleyan body—of which I happen to be a member —has given no evidence of being interested in this particular Bill.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Well, that is my view, and I leave it with the hon. Member. I turn to the United Kingdom Alliance, which is perhaps the most representative body. Here is an excerpt from a letter they have, sent out in connection with this Bill:The Executive Committee of the Alliance have considered with sympathetic interest the terms of the Liquor Traffic Prohibition Bill, 1923, as furnishing a good opportunity for discussing the effects of the liquor traffic upon public welfare. Believing however that the principle of prohibition is the same whether the area of its operation is local or national, this Committee is of opinion that a measure for securing local veto yields for the moment the largest advantage to the cause of Temperence, inasmuch as while it does not prejudice the future it enables the advance of public opinion to be registered and at the same time secures to progressive localities immediate protection against the evils which inevitably attend the sale of intoxicating liquors.I at once challenge that. This is where all the trouble has come in with regard to the suppression and prohibition of the liquor traffic. It was the faithlessness of the leading forces of the organised temperance movement that nearly 70 years ago pulled down the flag of prohibition which we are endeavouring to put up at the top of the mast to-day. That organisation departed from that issue on that occasion. A very small minority of members of the United Kingdom Alliance 2457 came along with the demand that they should carry forward the same old call, and they made the old urgent appeal for drinks abolition. But meeting the same difficulties as we have. passed through they succumbed. We know the liquor traffic and we know the temperance organisations. What has been the trouble with the temperance organisations is that professing to work for prohibiting, professing the principles of prohibition, they have said first "We have got to find subscriptions." Subscriptions have been the prominent characteristic of the movement of the organised temperance bodies in our country. The sequence has been that they always acted under the embargo of political party forces, which their Members in this House and their representative people in the various constituencies of the country placed first their position as subscribers to a given political party, particularly the Liberal party, and the Liberal party, acting as the sort of screen, encouraged that sort of pretext.
The records of this House are one long catalogue of licensing legislation. The Members of this House who at that time specially represented the United Kingdom Alliance included the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson. So far as personal abstinence is concerned, of course, I pay my tribute, as any other man would do who knows about the movement, my sincere tribute to a man of that description. But to-day we are dealing with the general, the wholesale supply of drink, and I submit that the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson was a backer of the Liberal party, and the records of that Liberal party, and the established records of this House are one long trail of licensing legislation.
Every measure which has passed this House has been passed on the national policy of licensing the liquor traffic. Suppose I never had another opportunity of opening my mouth in this House I thank God that to-day I am here speaking, on behalf of the heart, soul, and conscience, not simply of the mass of the people who are personal abstainers, but of many of those who supported us in the Dundee elections, who were people who have been drinkers, and some of them even excessive drinkers. It may be that the point will arise in other people's minds how to reconcile this fact that such people did support us, but it is a very 2458 simple one. Their position has been this: "We will be taking the drink so long as it is available for us, but we do not like this tinkering licensing legislation, and we object also to this class legislation," the type of thing represented by the Temperance (Scotland) Act. This, they urge is unfair to the working classes, for the worker says: "I have a right to get liquor if I want it the same as any man who is well off." [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I knew, of course, that would find an echo on the opposite side of the House. But that will in no way cause me to depart from what I know to be the truth. My case is to stand by the truth whether it may please or displease, and I am saying what is my conviction. I declare against all corners on this statement to the United Kingdom Alliance. It is an impossibility to make one single part of Scotland now actually dry under the Temperance (Scotland) Act, and this for the simple reason that the Act itself states that it is a licensing measure. If you have an Act which makes a clear stipulation that it is a licensing measure, based on a national policy of licensing, then it is an impossibility to prevent anybody in any quarter of Scotland getting drink if they want it, and under the particular conditions in this Bill. It is a question of the variation of the licensing system. With the Temperance (Scotland) Act every brewery, every distillery, every wholesale house, every hotel, club, or restaurant, every pleasure steamer is free to sell drink, yet here you have the United Kingdom Alliance endeavouring to tell us that what they do, though they have taken precious good care to suppress the facts of this movement., which now baffles them and their temperance principles, and prevent the expression of truth of the great moral movement, which has been degraded for the sake of, and at the behest of political party politicians, along with the subtle, indirect influences of the liquor trade, just as in the 'United States of America.
The men who there represented the liquor trade have said that the best way to fight prohibition is to take local option, or high licence, and this sort of thing has side-tracked the question of prohibition. I do not say that there has not been a reduction of licences. I donotforgetthat; but the reduction of licences is not a new policy It is one of which Parliament is quite in favour. Let me say further that 2459 as a matter of fact the Temperance (Scotland) Act is a deal between the liquor trade and the temperance forces of this House. Sir George Younger himself, when he was taking a leading part, was in favour of reducing the number of licences because by it you could more successfully conduct your business, and at a less cost. Any man who applies his brains to this question can see through all this. The point is—is the thing an enemy? If it is, then I dare to say that we have no right to compromise with it. I am prepared to fight against it, and it is impossible to lose when you stand for what is right. This is the turning point. This is the crux of the whole thing. This is really the presentation of a demand to switch the temperance movement on to the main line of prohibition and lift it out of the sidings on which it has been left for so many years. The United Kingdom Alliance in their Declaration of Principles in 1853 for the suppression of the liquor traffic lay down:Then they go on to say:
- " 1. That it is neither right nor politic for the State to afford legal protection and sanction to any traffic or system that tends to increase crime, to waste the national resources, to corrupt the social habits and to destroy the health and. lives of the people.
- " 2. That the traffic in intoxicating liquors as common beverages is inimical to the true interests of individuals and destructive of the order and welfare of society and ought therefore to be prohibited."That rising above class, sectarian or party considerations all good citizens should combine to procure an enactment prohibiting the sale of intoxicating beverages as affording most efficient aid in removing the appalling evil of intemperance.All good citizens arc bound to support such a proposal and yet the United Kingdom Alliance send me a letter intimating that the nearest approach they can come to supporting my proposal is that in their opinion they think it gives a fine opportunity for discussing the question and emphasizing the evils of drinking. The man in the street is not asking for any arguments about the evils of drinking because he knows all about them. He is however asking, "What. is your lead." The United. Kingdom Alliance reply that they will give you a lead which you have not had by giving you power in your 2460 own localities to say how many public houses you want. What principle is there in that. How many public houses do working men want? One public house is sufficient for one man. If we go back to fundamental principles it is not a question of plurality or of so many public houses, it is a question of drink. It is a question really of whether or not drink is alcoholic poison which has been scientifically demonstrated by leading authorities who have declared that even when taken in moderate quantities it leads to the deterioration of the human system. If that be so then, of course there is no answer, no resonable answer. to the Prohibition demand. The only answer in favour of the liquor traffic is that there is money in it.
Those connected with this traffic say, "we. do not. drive people into the public houses." The answer is simple and it is, "You do not need to do ": once you give the supply then the demand becomes great and it becomes a craving and the man says, even against his own reason, "I must have it." Under those conditions nothing on earth or in Hell will stop him, because he says. "I must have it." The liquor trade plays upon that fact and they say, "Go on with your temperance movement; we do not mind although we allow some restrictions upon the trade up to the age of 16 or 18. So long as we have the power to manufacture and supply tinder any kind of licensing system we do not mind." You ought not to allow the supply of intoxicants in face of the evidence presented by medical men in recent years for they have given overwhelming evidence on this point. In face of these facts we ask, what is Parliament doing? There is only one answer. The reason Parliament is doing nothing is because there is money in it, and whenever money conies into the prohibition movement, what happens?
The question of prohibition became the most prominent factor in the national life during the war. At that time Ministers who never dared to breath the word "prohibition" before were reciting it like parrots. The man at the corner of the street was preaching it, and we ought to respect the men who preach at the street corners when we remember that the Man who gave his life on Calvary was a street preacher. The issue which we present is unquestionably explicit and plain. When we discuss in this House such questions as 2461 this which are deeply embedded in our great social system whether it be unemployment, the land question or any other question attempts are always made to evade them. This evil is not one which simply exists among certain sections of the people as is often suggested. It is not only found amongst the poor but amongst every class of society.
Do hon. Members possess no knowledge of "the trail of the serpent" apart from the fact of this being the fountain head where you have the liquor business going on without licence? Does this House not con gain records of those who have suffered under this terrible thing. Does not every section of life, in our Press Agencies, in the wells of our law courts, on the benches of our country and in all departments of the State agree on this point without distinction. In the heart and soul of every man and woman there must be some sort of conviction in the minds of those who have a voice given them to speak that they desire to sound a, trumpet call in regard to which there will be no misunderstanding, and who wish to respond by joining in the battle. In the past there has been an uncertain appeal but there is no uncertainty about it to-day. I turn to Sir Wilfrid Lawson himself on this point. He says:if we turn to the liquor traffic and trace its influence on the body politic we perceive that it is never doing that which law is ever seeking to do, and that it is ever doing that which law declares ought never to be done. What, then, is the judgment of patriotism and common-sense? Surely it is that the power of law should ho directed not to the defence, entrenchment and maintenance of the liquor traffic, but to its subversion and overthrow.That. is what Sir Wilfrid Lawson said in 1905. Yet the United Kingdom Alliance says, "Prohibition is the same whether it is local or national" Whereas if you have a national policy of licensing it is naturally impossible to have local prohibition. The men who are in the liquor business themselves pay the penalty. They die off more rapidly than those engaged in any other kind of business. They themselves labour under this particular difficulty, that to insure their lives with commercial concerns who are out for making a profit they have to pay higher premiums. I know men in the trade, and they say to me, "Scrymgeour, you are quite right, there is not a doubt about it: it is a bad business, but if I do not carry on some other body will do so." 2462 That is the proposition with which you are confronted. The brewer says to a man engaged in another avocation, "Come in here. Take up a position in the office. We do not want you to start on the business proper." Then he is drafted on as a traveller and later he gets drafted on to a tied house. I have had those under the tied-house system come to me, and protest against the gross injustice of the penalties imposed upon them. Let not hon. Members think that I do no know the inside as well as the outside of the business.
Sir Wilfrid also said—What then is the judgment of patriotism and common-sense? Surely it is that the power of the Law should be directed, not to the defence, entrenchment, and maintenance of the liquor traffic, but to its subversion and overthrow.I say that every measure which has been passed has been a measure safeguarding the liquor trade. It has been the entrenchment of the trade. You cannot join the business except with a permit, and with that permit you can go forward. That is the policy on which the business is carried out. Sir Wilfrid Lawson told you how it ought to be done, but it has never yet been done. Yet this is the encouragement given to a prohibitionist when he comes forward to do it. The United Kingdom Alliance regards with approval the Resolution passed at the World's Temperance Convention. Men who never dared to propose prohibition here have gone from this House to the World's Temperance Convent ion, and have been there acclaimed by members from other countries as being leading prohibitionists in this country—such men as Mr. Leif Jones. That is another leaf out of the same book. Here is the message of the United Kingdom Alliance which endorses the resolution passed at the World's Temperance Convention:We bid all be of good courage in their manly conflict. We appeal to all human Governments for protection from the traffic for the deluded and suffering. We ask a blessing of Him without Whom we can do nothing, that the time may soon come when the last bushel of grain shall be perverted to drink of the drunkard and the last miserable inebriate carried to the grave.Does not that sound splendid? It is magnificent language. You can almost see the procession. That is the sort of thing from which the Temperance Movement has suffered. I believe in facing this 2463 thing in its realistic fashion. You are never going to have the last drunkard interred in the grave unless you are prepared to carry out the execution of the assassin, and you can help that day by going into the Lobby and backing this Bill. I have statistics bearing on those who are in the trade, and who suffer from severe mortality by reason of being engaged in the trade, but I turn from that aspect. In 1922, we spent £360,000,000 on drink in the United Kingdom. The share of England and Wales would be £299,000,000. If we divert that money from unproductive to productive purposes, then every industry will be set going. If we apply one-sixth of that sum, or roughly £50,000,000, to solving the housing problem, we can build 165,000 houses yearly at. £300 each, not out of State Loans or borrowed money, but out of capital saved. Where 100 persons are employed in drink making, house building will employ 750.
At this stage, I turn to the United States of America, and make allowance for differences of opinion as to their statistics of convictions for drunkenness. We know how the convictions vary in various localities in our own country owing to the different degrees of pressure the police authorities may exercise under guidance of the Magistrates or to the control in some cases not being so exacting. In the United States, it is not only a question of substantial reductions in the convictions for drunkenness in all the leading cities, but the inebriates' homes formerly used for dealing with such convictions are now closed, and breweries—as in Peoria, one of the most important. districts in other days for production of liquor—. formerly used for the production of alcohol completely changed and are now used for the production of legitimate commodities and employing four times the number of men. In other parts of the States, where the same changes have taken place, as many as seven times the number of men are now being employed. Another remarkable feature is that the change was effected very rapidly. The Buesch Brewing Force got set going with those particular things so acceptable in the States, and which find a large demand, and they have succeeded in the most remarkable fashion in expediting their business in those various commo- 2464 dities. Then a reduction of something like 75 per cent. has been effected in the statistics of 21 of the leading charitable organisations of the United States, showing the immediate results that have been achieved. The most remarkable figures regarding tuberculosis and other forms of disease are presented, showing without a shadow of doubt that every section of the community in the United States has been given a blessing that is absolutely incalculable. I quite agree that drug taking is a very natural development.. When difficulty arises in obtaining that form of drink to which people have hitherto been accustomed, they naturally seek other concoctions. You find it to some degree in our own country, owing to the heavy cost of alcoholic liquors. You find people taking to other classes of production that are not as yet under the same licence control, and by the use of which a state of drunkenness and helplessness is much more readily obtained at a very cheap rate.
I was sorry to hear it suggested, especially as it came from this side of the House, the other night during the discussion on the Budget, that our heavy taxation upon alcoholic liquors has been the finest temperance blessing, or words to that effect, that has ever been conferred. I am positively amazed at such a suggestion, and especially when we find that the same spokesman, as representing the Labour party—the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden)—at the same time denounced, and I certainly endorse his statement, the degrading proposal of imposing taxation on betting. If it is degrading to impose taxation upon betting, surely it is equally if not still more degrading for us to be identified with the taxation of what John Burns described as associated with the anteroom of Hell. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Robert. Burns! "] I am exceedingly sorry that he did not comply with the principles that I am advocating here to-day. I think it would have been very much better for Scotland, and would many times have saved the memory of Burns from being desecrated in the public-houses of oar land. When you turn to other men through all the wonderful range of effort in enterprise, you find the same sort of result., but I am speaking of the question of taxation, and I do say that we ought 2465 not to impose any taxation on liquor at all. I have had men come to me lobbying here—not that they could have had any serious expectation of improving upon my position—and asking me to join them in appealing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a reduction of the duty, but I said to them then, "My position as a prohibitionist is that we should never be exacting taxation from that source of infamy at all."
In addition to the indictment that I have quoted here to-day, there are any number more of a similar character from our leading statesmen, and not only Mr. Gladstone but Sir Stafford Northcote, as Chancellors of the Exchequer, paid testimony to this point, about which we are challenged in the common thoroughfares of our country—" What about the revenue? "The answer of Mr. Gladstone was," I fear not any reduction, for I know I shall be able to find it all the more readily from other channels which will be more satisfactory," and Sir Stafford Northcote replied in the same way. What has happened in the United States is that they have not lost, but have gained something like one thousand million dollars on their revenue by scrapping this taxation from liquor; and on the returns as they stand now, and sustaining the progress which the United States are making now, they will be able to make substantial reductions in a very few years in regard to their taxation. I had a conversation with a business man after the election--I have had people speaking to me who had not cared to speak to me for many years until that result. This man is a very successful and wealthy merchant in Dundee, and has a very powerful influence, I believe, in the control of companies even in this great City of London, but I had recollections of him when we were boys. He came up to me, and said, "Seryingeour,"—
§ Mr. SHINWELL
On a point of Order. May I ask if it is proper for a Member to mention a Member by name?
§ 12 N.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I beg pardon. I was thinking, perhaps, that I had used someone else's name by mistake. I thought I could manage to risk mine. I was only giving, just in colloquial 2466 fashion, what this man said to me. He said, "Look here, I am not a teetotaller, hut we must go in for prohibition. America has done so, and we must do so for business reasons." That is the declaration of a man whose name I can give to any individual hon. Member who would like to have it. I know that there are those here who are, naturally, very much concerned about. the influence of this movement from the States, but I think it very unfortunate, to put it mildly, that forces in this country should in any way co-operate with adverse unconstitutional forces in the United States, and endanger our happy relationships with that country. We should do all that we can to safeguard the interests of another nation in making laws suitable for themselves.
In fairness to others I must be drawing to a close, and, therefore, I will turn to other aspects of the business. Taking the question of wages as against profit it is estimated that a fair average is about £1 of wages for every £5 of profit in the liquor trade, and it is estimated that just. about the reverse situation is correct concerning the generality of other industries, that is to say, there is about £5 of wages to every £1 profit. We have presented what we call the unanswerable case for prohibition, and I am very glad to find that a representative of the Labour party, in the person of the Editor of "Forward," the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston), has given considerable facilities and has done a very great deal to encourage the demand that we have been seeking to support throughout the country; and, as an outcome, there are a good many Members of the Labour party who individually have advocated this cause, and, indeed, have presented it in some cases in their own election programmes. Although I know that there are difficulties pertaining to the Labour party as a whole, these men are striving to find a way of helping. So far as I can gather, since we have come into this particular era, the idea has been promoted that, while this cause is worthy of support in a generalised sort, of way on principle, it is essential that it should only be carried through by a national plebiscite. I want to say, concerning that, that if that principle is to be followed out, I do not see how some of 2467 the big proposals of the Labour party are to be carried through unless the same force is adopted..If they go to their constituents and advocate, and get support for advocating, the nationalisation of the land and of mines or industries—[An HON. MEMBER "That is what we are doing."] Yes, I am saying that you do. Watch what follows.
You advocated it, and if you get support you come here, and say "We are going to push it. We are going to try to get it carried through." That emphasises my argument. If that is so, you are entitled not to evade this question but to follow the same line of reasoning. Follow your example in other issues, and do not seek to side-track this question, which depends on the body of electors in your constituencies. Present the case here as we did to the electors. I have heard the idea suggested that people have a power in Scotland that they have not got here. It is not true. We were operating before the Temperance (Scotland) Act. We used our power under the Municipal laws applicable to licensing, and we returned men to our town councils who were committed that they would not support a single man going on to the licensing bench to grant licences. Did we get the support of the temperance forces? No, we did not. The temperance men said "No, you cannot do that," and the result was that the temperance man was particularly favoured by the brewers, who sought to secure men who were Good Templars to go on the bench. I know what I am speaking about. I am presenting the case—[An HON. MEMBER: "For the brewers! "]—I do not care whether it is for the brewers or not. I will know whether you are for the brewers if you do not back this Bill. When I am presenting a Bill that includes breweries, distilleries and all forms of licensing, it is an unintelligent answer to say that I am supporting the brewer.
I am presenting the facts concerning those who have utilised the temperance men of our country. Every man and woman has a vote whereby he can say to his Parliamentary candidate "Are you going to back the Prohibition Bill? Are you going to back the demand for drink abolition? The answer may be "It is a desirable goal, and sometime we may attain it, but as a matter of practical politics I cannot see my way to support it." That is the average answer. I say 2468 to the man and woman who are sidetracked by that, that they are responsible. It is for them to say "I have my vote." What is it for? It is to use our influence for what we want. I say that man is entitled to use his vote and say, "If you do not come up to my standard, I refuse to go down to yours. I shall proceed to operate in my constituency and get as many of the voters as I can." The temperance forces ought to put up prohibition candidates. That is what we are urging. That is what the Bill is being pressed for. It is to call on the temperance forces, and if they call on the Labour party to come out. [An HON. MEMBER: "They will get better beer!"] If that satisfies those in the Labour club—the sort of club that Lord Younger was helping to finance—your Labour clubs are trash, and your Labour movement is absolutely futile. No man is going to stand up and talk about Socialism and the elevation of the people and at the same time suggest that he is concerned about getting beer for Labour clubs. [An HON. MEMBER "Who said it?"] The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) wrote it in "Forward." I am not talking about things I do not know. I do not want any jokes about pure beer and that kind of nonsense. This sort of thing has been joked about in the House for many years. I am not going in for humour. I can see the humorous element in certain ways, hut not in this responsible position to-day.
I have summarised the figures and statistics which I intended using, and I do not mean to bring these into the matter any further, but I should like to give the House an excerpt from a message which was exceedingly appropriate as being sent out to the Members of the House by the President of the World Prohibition Federation. It is worthy of our serious attention to-day. Mr. Guy Hayler, the writer, is not an American, but a well-known English representative of the temperance movement—When the question of the introduction of railways was before the British House of Commons, it was despised and rejected and its sponsors were ridiculed unmercifully. Sir Isaac Coffin, M.P., one of the strongest opponents of the Railway Bill, declared it to be a most flagrant imposition and what, he would like to know, was to be done with all those who had advanced money in making and repairing turnpike roads. What was to become of coachmakers, harness makers, coachmasters and coachmen, innkeepers, horsebreeders and horse dealers. Was the 2469 House aware of the smoke and the noise, the hiss and the whirl which locomotive engines, passing at the rate of 10 or 12 miles an hour, would occasion? Neither the cattle ploughing in the fields or grazing in the meadows could behold them without dismay. Iron would be raised in price 100 per cent., or more probably exhausted altogether. It would be the greatest nuisance, the most complete disturbance of quiet and comfort in all parts of the Kingdom that the ingenuity of man could invent.We feel the natural hilarity that those words stir in our minds to-day, but at that time I have no doubt it seemed to many perfectly reasonable. How are these things to be met? Let us think. The United States is a very great commercial power, and it is undoubtedly true that the business forces of that country came in and helped to forward the demand that became the concentrated demand of the churches and temperance bodies, permeating the political forces, dictating to them, causing them to face the business that this thing must be done. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are sorry for it now."] No, they are not sorry, as President Harding said. The young people who are growing up will be able to say they have never even seen a man under the influence of drink. The Emeritus Professor of Harvard University, Dr. Charles W. Elliot, gives personal testimony to the vast transformation which has already taken place and is extending its influence over the whole of the United States of America. In every phase of life this marvellous change, at one time indicated by the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, has already taken place. Are we going to face the issue? Are we going to make up our minds that we shall do it? Why did hon. Members go into the lobby a few weeks ago on the question of the terrible danger to the adolescent life of our country? "To think," we were told, "that our young people should get into the contaminating influence of the public house." What sort of illogical position is it, that hon. Members should walk into the lobby and attack the public house, and make out that it is such a contaminating centre and then to say that after 18 years of age it is paradise regained.
I am convinced that even among those who may be directly or indirectly interested in the drink trade here to-day—because I know that the feeling comes to every man and to every woman at some 2470 period of their life—there must be concern at the rapid passing of time, and of the things that are temporal. What of the victims of our social system'? I am not saying for one moment that the abolition of the liquor traffic is going to remove all the troubles with which we are afflicted. I am standing here as a representative of the Labour movement. I go into the lobby with the Labour movement. I believe in its ideals, and I am anxious to support its principles, although at times I differ on points. I think there is a consensus of opinion that I am striving to help in all the great questions that appertain to the welfare of the working people. When I have spoken to working men, and they have been complaining about this thing and the other thing, I have said to them: I do not care what it is that you have set your hearts and minds upon, if you cannot face this drink question honourably and firmly, and defend your home life from this formidable force that beats in upon you; if you will compromise in participation in liquor, and if you will compromise by casting your vote for the man who is going to continue the business, then you will surely have to pay the penalty." There is not a shadow of doubt about it that so long as we are beclouded by this issue we waste our energy and waste our mental strength and our spiritual fervour. How then can any Labour movement, how can any Socialist movement get a grip upon the hearts and conscience of the worker, if they are steeped in such conditions.
If we are to make our appeal we must make it on the high moral issues. If we want the money to carry forward our labour movement is it fair to expect the capitalist forces of the country to supply the money? Certainly not. Is it fair to expect the capitalist press to find the money? After all the condemnation that has been made on our existing social system, and after all the appeals that are made from labour platforms, we have to acknowledge that even the one daily paper of the labour movement has had a terrible struggle for existence. On the other hand, the workers are paying their money into these other channels with readiness in the midst of unemployment and dire distress. Even your high taxation does not prevent the working man from getting drink. He will find it and get it, and as a result the coffers of the Labour or any other movement seeking to 2471 upbuild the country are prevented from, gleaning those resources which they are entitled to claim from the workers. It may he said, "What can the worker do? He cannot go in for thrift." Can anybody tell me that if the working man goes into a public house he will get any thing for nothing? Certainly not. They have to pay on the nail and they do pay on the nail for drink and that side tracks the great purposes of the heart.
Are the masses of the workers going give serious attention to this business? Have hon. Members sought to lead them? Have you sought honourably to place yourselves at their disposal, not to exploit them for capitalism nor for any form of exploitation? Are you prepared to put yourselves in the position which Christ himself asks you, in order that they may rise? That is the issue. I should never have been in this House if it had not been for this question. I have been brought up to face the issue. I have seen the men come from Portland prison, the returned convicts. I have met them in my father's home, I have met the victims of this traffic in rescue homes, in the poor houses, training ships, in reformatories, and elsewhere. For years this thing has been impelled upon mc. It is a surging, moving influence in my life. God himself has taken possession of me. I say that in al' seriousness and fairness. Hon. Members may differ from me, but I ask them to believe that I am here pleading to-day because of these realities in life that I have seen, and because, on the other hand, I rejoice in having been brought up in a home where there was no such temptation, where I had the opportunity of getting hold of the faith in which my father sought to nurse me, to take an interest in this great social question and try to be of some service in the world. In commercialism, I had prospects of doing substantial business in this great city of London, but I found that you cannot carry on this kind of business and at the same time carry on a commercial career. That being so, cut my commercial career. I said, "I will be a man, whatever else I may be." I have sought to serve the purpose of Him who said:I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.He has brought me here to this House of Commons in the most marvellous fashion that anyone could have contem- 2472 plated, notwithstanding all the forces arrayed against me, including all the official forces of party organisation. I am here at the clear, expressed call of Him who has called me and Who calls you to-day to serve the masses who have gone down and to help in sustaining not merely the prestige of the country and to advance its interests but, better still, to advance the kingdom of Christ, to which every one of us should belong.
§ Dr. SALTER
I beg to second the Motion.
I do not believe that the machinery and the method of the Bill are good. Indeed, I think that the machinery and the method are bad, but I am speaking on behalf of the Bill, in order to make a demonstration in favour of the principle of the prohibition of a dangerous drug, namely, alcohol. Personally, I think the attainment of that end could better be achieved by the adoption of the methods of local option, district option, provincial option, gradually spreading, as has been the case in America and some of our Colonies. I think the Bill is bad so far as it provides for the complete expropriation of one set of property owners. I will put before the House what I regard as the real case for prohibition, namely, the scientific and socialogical case for the prohibition of alcoholic liquors. This House has recently passed a Bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act, and in the amending Bill terrific penalties have been imposed on persons who traffic in certain dangerous drugs. These terrific penalties are imposed on persons who merely possess a few grains of these dangerous drugs.
That Bill was passed practically unanimously by this House with the unanimous support of citizens of goodwill outside. I ask the House to consider for a moment on what ground it deliberately took away the right of an individual to gratify his own appetite. I can find only one reason for that drastic action. It is that these drugs, when consumed, have an injurious effect upon the individual, and through the individual upon society, and therefore this House has said that because society is likely to be injured by the traffic in and the use of these drugs therefore their sale and consumption must be prohibited. That is the only argument. How does this harm- 2473 ful effect come about? If a person commences to take morphia or cocaine the first physiological effect is to remove his power of inhibition as it is called, to reduce his self control, and his power to say no to the impulse of desire for a second dose. That is a definite physiological influence of the drugs on the human system. The destruction of the power of inhibition in the case of these particular drugs is so great that almost immediately there arises a craving for drugs. Very shortly the person concerned becomes a helpless slave to the drug. As he becomes more and more, a slave to the drug he tends to commit anti-social actions. Practically all these devotees of dangerous drugs do commit anti-social actions, which have a prejudicial effect on society.
The point about these drugs is that they affect in this way almost every person who takes them and that forms the conclusive argument, it seems to me, for their prohibition. It is only a very exceptional individual who can resist or overcome the craving once he starts to take morphia or cocaine. The position is precisely comparable with regard to other drugs which are not included in the schedule of Dangerous Drugs Acts, and in particular, M my judgment, the same position applies to the drug alcohol. Again it is agreed by most scientific authorities that the first effect which alcohol has upon the human system is to remove its power of inhibition or at any rate to diminish it, to reduce our power of self control and to reduce also our power to say no to a second glass. On this point I may refer to an official publication by the Government of this country issued by the Board of Education in a syllabus of lessons for elementary schools, and notes for the assistance of teachers. That document states that the effect of alcohol on the nervous system is to depress rather than to stimulate its functions. It says:The effect of alcohol on the nervous system is due to its depressing action upon the highest and latest developed power of the brain that which is associated with exercise of the intellect and will.… The emotions released from proper control are left free play to respond to the immediate environment in which the drinker finds himself. Successive steps include the blunting of self-criticism "—so that the person concerned has his power of inhibition reduced and is less able to say no to the next glass. In 2474 the case of morphia and cocaine it is agreed that practically every person is so affected and that the power of inhibition is practically destroyed. In the case of alcohol it is reduced but not completely destroyed with every person. But the position is that. with regard to some people, and by no means an inconsiderable number of people in this country and elsewhere, their nervous systems occupy in relation to alcohol the same relationship as the nervous system does in all normal people in this country towards morphia and cocaine. It is recognised that some forms of alcohol have exactly the same effect on almost all persons, as morphia and cocaine, in the way of reducing the power of inhibition. That has been recognised, so far as absinthe is concerned, to this extent that its manufacture, sale and consumption have been prohibited. The reason is that only a relatively few people who take absinthe can resist the craving which arises for the consumption of the drug. The large majority cannot resist this, only a small minority can.
You have recognised also this particular effect of alcohol so far as negroes, and what arc called the lower races, are concerned. There is no doubt that in relation to alcohol negroes for the most part are as susceptible to its effect in abolishing the power of self-control as most Europeans are with regard to morphia and cocaine. Consequently, in most of the British African Colonies the sale of alcohol to natives has been prohibited. I understand that in Northern Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, British East Africa, Uganda, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, British Bechuanaland the sale of strong drink to natives is prohibited. But the point is that in this country we have considerable numbers of people who are equally susceptible to alcohol as the majority of Europeans are to morphia and cocaine, and we have large numbers, certain types and classes of people in particular, who cannot help becoming slaves to drink if once they start to take any at all.
In 1907 the then inspector under the Inebriates Act, Mr. Branthwaite, delivered a lecture to the Society for the Study of Inebriety which was subsequently reprinted in pamphlet and which excited very great attention at the time. In it be 2475 pointed out that as the result. of an examination of all the cases of persons who were to be found at that time in inebriate asylums and lunatic asylums. as the result of alcoholism. There existed in the general population a large proportion of people of nervous or neuropathic inheritance who if they touched alcohol at all practically were unable to resist it. Their power of inhabitation was destroyed, they were practically unable to resist its effects and immediately they became slaves to the habit and, as a result, committed all kinds of anti-social acts which landed them in these institutions. That fact became gradually recognised as a scientific one, and among the medical profession a large body of influential and authoritative opinion to that effect has been expressed by leading medical experts.. There are throughout the whole country, here there and everywhere, people who cannot touch alcohol at all without becoming slaves to the habit in precisely the same way as almost everyone of the general population becomes a slave to the habit of cocaine and morphia if once they are started.
Let me quote one or two illustrations to show how many these people are, and where they are to be found. They are quotations from medical authorities. Dr. Bond, the Medical Superintendent of the Ewell Epileptic Colony, says:For epileptic and neurotic persons there can be no such thing as temperance in alcohol, for the smallest dose will destroy their nervous balance.The late Dr. Clouston, Professor of Mental Diseases at Edinburgh University, Superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum, a most distinguished author on nervous and mental diseases, himself a non-abstainer, says:A nervous man, be he Peer or workman, should not touch alcohol. How risky a thing it is to set alcohol circulating in the blood of such persons!I could give hundreds more such quotations, which are representative of modern medical opinion on the subject. How many of us in this House can say that we have not somewhere buried in our system this nervous element, this neuropathic element? How many of us can show a clean ancestral bill of health mentally? How many of us here, and how many of the general population, have 2476 not some progenitor who was eccentric and impulsive and erratic, excitable and crotchety? Nervous people are scattered all through the general population. None of us know whether there is or is not some alarming tendency to neurosis in our system. Many a man has reached a 'respectable age and has exhibited throughout his life evidences of complete self-control, has attained distinction in his work and impressed all those who knew him as a man of complete stability, and yet after the age of 50 or 55 he has suddenly succumbed in this way. I can call to mind the instances of five or six men, some of them quite distinguished men in my own profession, men who built up successful medical practices and were honoured and respected throughout their districts, who yet suddenly, after the age of 50 or 55, collapsed completely and became victims of the alcohol habit. I can call to mind at least three or four ex-Members of this House who have similarly fallen victims of alcohol after they have reached a position of responsibility, although throughout their lives they had appeared to be perfectly stable nervously.
To the man who appears to be a perfectly normal person there may come a time when the stress of competition, or worry, or over-work, or what not, releases the neuropathie element within him, and brings it to the surface-. That, man from that moment is in exactly the same position in regard to alcohol as the ordinary member of the population is in with regard to cocaine or morphia. The whole matter is one of relativity. We agree that practically no persons can resist the craving for morphia and cocaine, once they have taken it. We agree that very few negroes can do so. We agree that Frenchmen or Europeans generally, or very few of them, can resist the craving for absinthe once they have started to take it. In the general population there is quite a considerable proportion of people who, if the temptation come at an unguarded moment, will fall a victim in precisely the same way as people fall victims to the habits of morphia and cocaine taking. For their sakes, for the sake of this element—its numerical proportion unknown but by no means inconsiderable—we ought to prohibit the use of this drug.
2477 Among the sayings of Christ about himself, the most remarkable is that in which he says:For their sakes I sanctify myself.Many a good man in the country, witnessing the moral ruin and degradation around him as a result of the drink traffic, has said to himself: "For their sakes I will sanctify myself, and I will not touch this drink." In this Bill we suggest that. the time has arrived when the nation as a whole should take that attitude. The nation should say: "For their sakes we sanctify ourselves." To me that is the main case for the Bill. Let me deal with one or two of the stock arguments against prohibition. There is the great stock argument that prohibition of alcohol leads to an increase in narcotic drug taking, and that it has done so in the United States. Let us consider this statement in the light of theory and of fact. I believe it to be entirely fallacious to suggest that if a man has attained a craving for alcohol and if his supply of alcohol is cut off, he will thereupon immediately acquire a craving for morphia, cocaine, or some more dangerous drug. These cravings are known scientifically as specific. If a man is a morphia taker and suddenly has his supply of morphia cut off, he does not immediately acquire a craving for cocaine, nor can the provision of cocaine neutralise the craving for morphia. The craving for morphia is a specific craving, and that for cocaine is also specific: you cannot replace the one by the other. To a very large extent it is precisely the same with alcohol. If we turn to the actual facts about the substitution of narcotic drug taking for alcohol, we find that the whole position has been completely travestied by the propaganda which the drink traffic has undertaken during the past few months. I have here a pamphlet issued by the drink trade. It quotes a statement from the Bishop of Durham—The notorious growth of the drug habit, wherever the policy of prohibition has been adopted, proves the moral worthlessness of enforced sobriety. It is interesting to read that. the Americans are already crying out for stern action against those who use drugs.We have had a similar cry in this country for stern action against those who use drugs, and we have had legislation in this very Session of Parliament on the subject, yet there is no difficulty in getting alcohol here. It is not due to prohibition here. 2478 I ask the House where throughout the Continent of Europe is the place of all places in which the consumption of morphia and cocaine is at its greatest? It is in Paris, and Paris is the place of all places where alcoholic, drink is most easy to obtain and where there are no restrictions of any description. I think there can be no dispute upon that. I have here a cutting from a newspaper headed "The Week in Paris," "From our Special Correspondent."The habit of opium, that melancholy and fatal distraction, seems once again to have taken root in this country. Whether seized now as a solace in the darkness that has overcome many men's minds since 1914, or whether flourishing as an evil flower that has not been wholly uprooted, the deadly drag has once again come into very frequent use. Now in secret, now in defiant openness opium parties direct their feverish unhappy clientele and all the efforts of the police and of the propaganda of the Press seem powerless to prevent them.That is in a country where there is no prohibition.
§ Dr. SALTER
The "Daily Herald ". The article goes on to say that this habit is particularly prevalent among officers and civil servants who have returned from colonial dependencies, among Bohemians in the Latin Quarter and among maritime men in Marseilles and elsewhere. I do not think anybody who has travelled, and who knows anything of Continental habits can dispute that picture. Anyone Who knows anything of Paris knows that in Parisian Society to-day this habit of taking narcotic drugs has grown to a terribly alarming extent, and the prevalence of the habit there cannot possibly be attributed to prohibition or to lack of facilities for getting drink. [An HON. MEMBER: "Does the hon. Member understand that in Paris there has been abolition of the drinking of absinthe?"] Not of alcohol generally, as the hon. Member knows perfectly well. While reckless statements, are being made about the growth of the drug habit in America, as far as I can understand there are no official declarations whatever to the effect that there has been an increase in the drug habit since prohibition was enforced. On the contrary, all the official declarations are 2479 to exactly the opposite effect. One great central fact emerges on this point. Before nation-wide prohibition was in force in America, 38 States of Union had already been dry for a number of years and the wettest of all the wet States that remained was New York, and the wettest of all wet cities was New York City and that was precisely where, before the nation-wide prohibition was in force, the drug-taking evil was at its very worst. In 1917, long before prohibition became the law of New York State, there were official declarations that there were from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 drug addicts in that State alone, and there were from 50,000 to 100,000 in New York City. That was not due to prohibition; that was not due to inability to obtain alcohol. Alcohol could have been obtained at that time in New York as easily nay, more easily than in London to-day, and at a considerably cheaper rate. The official declarations are all in a contrary sense, that is to say they all go to show that while there is a great drug-taking evil in the United States, just as there is here and on the Continent of Europe, yet there is no evidence that such evil has increased since the enactment of prohibition. There is the weekly Bulletin of the New York Health Department, the reports of the Chief of the Bureau for Drug Control for Pensylvania; the Acting Marshal of the Baltimore Police Department; the Chief of Police of Cincinnati; the Commissioner of Health and Sanitation, Kansas; the Chief of Police of St. Louis, Missouri; the Director of the Mississippi State Bureau of Vital Statistics and many others which I could quote, all of which specifically and definitely say that there has been no increase in the consumption of narcotics since the enactment of prohibition. Finally, I would quote the report of Sir Arthur Newshalme, a most distinguished public servant of this country, a man of great scientific eminence, the head of the Medical Department of the Local Government Board prior to the formation of the Ministry of Health, a man of the trained mind, who is not only a medical man but an eminent statistician as well, and who paid a special visit to America, recently, in 2480 order to inform himself on this particular point. He reports:—There is no evidence whatever that prohibition has caused an increased consumption of drugs in substitution for alcohol.I am prepared to take Sir Arthur Newsholme's view against all the propaganda of the Trade Press on a subject like this. I wish to refer to the objection that prohibition has failed in the United States. That there is a partial failure I think is certain, just as there is a partial failure with your Dangerous Drugs Act here. Here in London any person who is absolutely determined to get hold of cocaine or morphia, and is prepared to pay, can get it, with difficulty it is true, but as administration is tightened up, as the machinery of prohibition of dangerous drugs in England, or alcohol in America is gradually extended, developed and improved, so the possibility of securing illicit drugs or liquor, as the case may be, will be reduced. Obviously you cannot get by legislation of this sort a sudden complete cessation of all the nefarious and illicit undertakings which are prepared to provide drugs for people with depraved tastes. It, is not to be expected that such can he done all at once, and so far as my information goes the United States Government at the present time is striking particularly at the great big wholesale smuggling schemes which have been organised during the past two or three years and are striking at them successfully, so that shortly it will be too risky for the big men to put money into the smuggling business. In that way the great supply and the real supply for illicit drinking will he cut off once and for all. On that point I am bound to say that it is a matter for astonishment to me that people in this country who profess to be constitutionalists and upholders of law and order should have, in newspapers, in public utterances and as Members of this House, appeared to gloat over this lawbreaking in America and its results. I say it is disgraceful, and I say more than that. We are told in the columns of the constitutionalist Press that hundreds of thousands of gallons of whisky are shipped from this count-,y to the Bahamas and elsewhere for into illicit importation America.
That can only be done with the connivance of the great whisky manufacturers in this country, some of whom sit in the House of Lords, and others of 2481 whom are represented in this House. It is a disgrace, and if the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, who is not on the Front Bench now, were present, I should like to say to him that I do not think the Government of this country has done all it could do, and all it should have done, to aid the Government of the United States in maintaining the law of that great country. There has been laxity on this side with regard to the despatch of these quantities of illicit liquor intended for smuggling purposes in the United States.
There is one other point, with regard to the consumption of alcohol in America, and that is that under the Prohibition Law, if a medical man desires to prescribe alcohol as a medicine, he has to take out a permit. We are told—I have endless newspaper cuttings here, in which it, is stated—that there is wholesale consumption of alcohol under the guise of medical prescriptions. As a matter of fact, the latest figures show that out of 152,627 doctors in the United States, who are empowered to take out permits to prescribe liquor medicinally, only 33,000, or a bare 20 per cent., have taken the trouble to take out a permit. The whole of the evidence from the medical Press of the United States is that medical men are not doing anything of that sort. That there are some scally wags and black sheep defying the law of their own country, and under this subterfuge of medicine are prescribing liquor, is doubtless true; but that it is done on anything like a wholesale scale, I repudiate absolutely.
The wild, reckless and grossly untrue statements that the trade propaganda is putting about on this question are simply amazing. I believe that a number of hon. Members have had a copy of the "Times" of Wednesday, 7th March, sent to them, containing a report of the annual meeting of Meux's Brewery Co., at which the chairman gave an address, in the course of which he spent a good part of his time in attacking prohibition. Here, you have a responsible man in the trade, whose address is reprinted at length, making the wildest and most incorrect statements about the position. For example, he says that wood alcohol is now being used as a substitute, in New York, for ordinary alcohol, and that the deaths from wood alcohol poisoning in December, 1922, were 34, the highest ever recorded. As a matter of fact, when I take the 2482 trouble to look up the official statistics, I find that that number of 34 referred not to the month of December at all, but to the whole year 1922. Even the statement that the 34 deaths was the highest ever recorded is untrue. The highest number ever recorded was 38, in the year 1919.
While the chairman of Meux's tells us this, he fails to tell us the whole facts of the case regarding deaths from alcoholic poisoning. If hon. Members will look at the official returns, they will see that whereas the total number of deaths from alcoholic poisoning, wood alcohol included, in 1914 was 665, the number in 1920—the year after prohibition had been enacted—dropped suddenly to 127. In 1921–22, the latest figures available, they were only 141, or between a fourth and fifth of what they were prior to the enactment of prohibition.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Dr. SALTER
The numbers dropped from 665, in 1914, to 127, in 1920 and to 141 in 1921–22. That is the total number of deaths from alcoholism from all quarters. I will not keep the House longer, but will summarise the argument for the case for prohibition, as I see it. Alcohol, exactly like morphia and cocaine, reduces or destroys the power of inhibition, and leads to demoralisation of many individuals, and the emmission of many antisocial acts. There is no difference in kind, there is only a difference in degree, in the effects produced by morphia and cocaine on the one band and by alcohol on the other. Ever since civilisation has been in existence the drink traffic has been recognised as such a danger to the State that it has had to be restricted, and kept down. The oldest code of laws in the world, the code of Hammurabi, made about 2,200 B.C., actually, in that stage of civilisation, had to provide for the restriction and regulation of the drink trade. So it has been ever since. People, recognising the greatness of the danger to the State, have felt that something must be done in order to limit the risks to the nation as a whole.
It is true that the present licensing system does interfere with the right of the trade to do what it likes, and with the right of the individual to do what he likes. It interferes, at the present time, with personal habits. So does the Dangerous 2483 Drugs Bill. A man may say, "I like cocaine. I enjoy taking it, and you have no right to interfere with me. What business is it of yours if I take it or not? I am entitled to gratify my appetite, if I so desire." You say to him, "No, certainly not, because it will injure you, in the first place, and because it will injure the State, in the second." Surely, that has always been the basis of constitutionalism in this country, that if any kind of habit or conduct on the part of any individual hurts other individuals of the State, that conduct must be restrained, and dealt with by the State as a whole. Without such interference you never would have had either your sanitary laws, or your education laws of to-day, nor would you have had the abolition of slavery. You would never have had compulsory Education Acts or any other outstanding reforms worth mentioning.
In effecting these reforms, the State has always been faced with the opposition of people like the present supporters of the drink traffic, who claim that their personal rights and interests are at stake and should have precedence over the rights and interests of the community as a whole. I would remind the House, in this particular connection, of the words once used by the great philosopher, T. H. Green, who said:There is no right to freedom in the purchase and sale of a particular commodity if the general result of allowing such commodity is to detract from freedom in the highest sense, that is, from the power of men to snake the best of themselves.The effect of alcohol is to deprive men of the power to make the best of themselves. It is our common knowledge and experience that the use and consumption of alcohol, for, at any rate, a proportion of our fellow-citizens, is to degrade them, and to reduce them from a condition a little lower than the angels to something very much lower than the beasts. I submit, in their interests, and in the interests of the nation as a whole, that this traffic should he prohibited, in precisely the same way as the traffic is already prohibited in other dangerous drugs.
§ Colonel Sir ARTHUR HOLBROOK
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months." 2484 I have listened with great care to the speeches of the Proposer and Seconder of this Bill. It seems to me somewhat amazing that neither of them referred, in any way, to the Bill; that is to say, that they gave us no particulars about it. It is an extraordinary thing, in a matter like this, that a Bill can be placed before the House without any attempt by either the Proposer or the Seconder to tell us what it is about. I think the Proposer, in his appeal, has rather discounted his case by the Preamble, which says:Whereas all legislative and other efforts satisfactorily to regulate this traffic have failed"—That is a full answer to the concluding passage of the speech of the hon. Member who seconded, because it shows that an attempt to interfere with the freedom of the individual must ordinarily fail. I thought the Proposer and Seconder would have put some facts before us to show that there was some real reason why in this country we should adopt Prohibition. I realise, of course, that they were conscious of the fact that, if they attempted to prove the necessity for it, they would have had a very poor case indeed, because no one will gainsay this, that England has been getting more sober for many years, and if you go about in any large town to-day. any industrial centre or any agricultural centre, I venture to say that the sight of a drunken man is an absolute rarity.
I was in London on Armistice night, and I went through all the main thoroughfares and was about. the streets among the crowds for three or four hours. I saw only one. drunken roan. [An HON. MEMBER: "You must have been blind! "] I was not blind. I was very much on the alert. If there was one occasion more than another when men might have been tempted to run into hilarity or extravagant conduct, that was such an occasion, and if, in this great City of London, on an occasion like that, only one drunken man was found, I say that that is a full answer to the demand for Prohibition in this country. I claim to he second to none in my desire to establish temperance. I have no interest whatever in the liquor traffic. I have never had any interest, financial or otherwise, in the traffic in my life, but I say that we can promote. temperance in very much better ways than by trying to destroy the freedom of the individual. We have got to educate 2485 the people, as they have been educated in recent years, in habits of self-control and self-discipline, and if we do that, we shall find that by degrees all desire for any extravagance in alcohol disappears. I could quote many cases to show that where young men have been brought up in their families with the sense of liberty, they have gone into the world and turned out steady, well-conducted young men, but where young men have been controlled by stern parents, and never allowed to go outside the door after nine o'clock at night, when they have got their freedom they have gone to the dogs. That is common knowledge to anyone who studies human nature.
Oftentimes, in our desire to gain a certain object, we destroy the very object we are aiming at by trying to coerce the individual to our point of view. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) made a very eloquent speech, and I am sure we all realise the zealous nature of his appeal to the House from his point of view, but I venture to say that when we come, as I hope we shall, to divide on this Bill, I shall find a large majority of the House will go with me into the lobby against this attempt to impose prohibition on this country and to destroy the right of individuals to free action. The hon. Member for Dundee, quoting one speaker, said he had made the remark that if the nation did not throttle the liquor traffic the liquor traffic would throttle the nation.. Despite the argument submitted by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), I think we have very great proof that prohibition it throttling America. I have got some statements, which I will give presently, which I think will convince the House that there is another side to the question, at any rate. President Harding, in February last, referred to the condition of affairs then prevalent under prohibition as "a nation-wide scandal." One of the hon. Members argued that President Harding thought prohibition had been a great blessing to America, but he called it" a nation-wide scandal."
§ Dr. SALTER
Did not President Harding, in making that statement about the scandal, refer to the illicit attempts at smuggling, and so on?
§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
The hon. Member for Dundee said that if you go to some places in this country, at one end you will find a church, and at the other end a chapel, and a good deal of infamy going on in between. I read the other day that an Englishman landed in America, and, knowing that it was possible to obtain liquor in an American town, spoke to a man in uniform asking where he could obtain drink. The man pointed to the end -of the- street and said, "See that church; well, that is the only place where you cannot get it in this town." It is a well known fact to-day that, although prohibition exists in America, there is a great deal of drunkenness going on. That, I think, is a sufficient argument to show that any attempt to interfere with the privileges and freedom of the individual will never attain the desired end. The two hon. Members who have spoken in favour of the Bill have produced certain documents sent to them by propagandists. It is a most extraordinary thing, seeing that it is pretty well known that some weeks ago I put down a Motion for the rejection of this Bill, that I have had none of these documents sent to me. I do not know why I should be neglected, but I think it points to the fact that some of these hon. Members have been looking for propaganda.
There was a meeting held a short time ago at the Mansion House. The hon. Member for Dundee gave some references as to the views of public men on that question. I saw that at this meeting the Earl of Lansdale wrote that no one regretted more than himself excess in any alcoholic beverage, but he did not see why the majority of temperate and clear-minded men should be dictated to in the interests of a minority. That is the line that I take. Professor Dixon, a very eminent scientist, gave some figures and quotations at a meeting with regard to the whisky distilled from wood, and he mentioned cases where, after taking a few drops of this stuff, men had gone blind. He also told -of many other cases where they had died very soon after taking this compound distilled from wood. I submit that it is far better, if a man wants spirit, to have a spirit that has been properly refined, than put him in 2487 the position of having to take this horrible compound which is going to destroy his sight and his life. Some people argue that cirrhosis of the liver is produced entirely by alcohol. Professor Dixon said:Cirrhosis of the liver was said on temperance platforms to be the result of alcohol, but from time immemorial it had been almost unknown in Scotland"—I make no reflection on Scotland, but it is a notorious fact that Scotland is noted for its whisky, and if cirrhosis is due to alcohol, you would be more likely to get it there than anywhere else—Cirrhosis had almost disappeared in London, and the only case in Cambridge during the last five years was that of a maiden lady who had been an abstainer all her life.So that when you quote medical facts, you have to take the other side as well. Sir James Crichton-Browne, I think it will be admitted, is quite as eminent an authority as the authority quoted by the hon. Member who seconded the Motion. In a pamphlet recently published, he said:The classification of alcohol as a poison cannot now be defended by any reasonable being, for alcohol is separated from the poisons by the cardinal fact that it is a nutrient, while they are not. Arsenic, strychnine, and prussic acid do not nourish the system, but alcohol does, and it is the food value of alcohol that must now be emphasised. Liebeg, that illustrious chemist, taught without other proofs than those of common sense, that alcohol is a food analogous to sugar, and that it is consumed in the system.The same authority quotes an opinion of Dr. Hammond, who refers to the great value of alcohol in cases of extreme and acute illness.He kept patients alive for many days during acute illness on nothing but large quantities of brandy, and found that they had not emaciated during that time nearly so much as they would have done had they been merely living on their own tissues.Another eminent authority, Dr. Robert Hutchison, who is referred to by Sir James Crichton-Browne as "our highest English authority on diet," said:We cannot deny to alcohol the right to be regarded as a food.And so you can go on. This book is full of these quotations, but I do not want to detain the House. I feel perfectly sure that hon. Members. will realise that while we deplore the fact that certain indi- 2488 viduals are not able to control themselves, and become so overwhelmed with drink that possibly they may die from it, if the medical faculties were appealed to, they would agree with me in saying that far more men die from overeating than from overdrinking. [An HON. MEMBER: "And some die from starvation."]
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
I must ask hon. Members not to interrupt. If a similar course were pursued on both sides of the House, debate would become impossible.
§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
I sat very quietly listening to the speeches in support of this Bill, and never interfered at all. It is the habit of hon. Members on benches opposite to interfere with speakers with whom they do not fully agree. I say that, undoubtedly, the proof is shown in all directions that intemperance in food, as well as intemperance in drink, is bad for the individual, but I do feel that no legislation should he put upon the Statute Book in this country if at the start it is known.to he futile in its action. What is the good of bringing in a system of prohibition in this country when we have the example of America The hon. Member who seconded the Motion very strong in his condemnation of what he called unfair propaganda against the result of prohibition in America, but it Is a well-known fact that in America to-day any man who carries with him a medical certificate, can go into a chemist's shop and get some of the vile compound they call whisky, and men are known to have carried these medical certificates about in their pockets for 20 years. The chemist never questions their bonâ fides, and when the certificate is produced, the holder gets his whisky. If he cannot get it in that way, every town has a snake, and he gets a snake bite, secures a certificate, and gets his whisky in that way. There is a town in Iowa where it is said an American got up early in the morning to join the snake queue, but there were so many candidates for a bite, that he did not get to the snake till after mid-day, and then the snake was too tired to bite him, and he got no drink at all. Do we want to follow that sort of conduct in this country? Surely we do not want to copy the example of America. The hon. Member complains that our Home Secretary is not supporting America in carrying out its laws, but why 2489 should we concern ourselves with the government of America. A few weeks ago Mr. Gilbert Vyle, Managing Director of the well-known Birmingham firm of Messrs. W. & T. Avery, went to America, and, on his return, gave his view as an observant Englishman of the situation there. He said:'Boot-legging ' was now the largest industry in the country, and that it would probably go on for ever, since there were so many people making such a lot of money over it. He never met a teetotaler during the whole of his stay, and the condition of affairs did not make for the moral well-being of America by any means. People who formerly drank only a light moderate wine, or beer, when they wanted it, to-day drank whisky, and it was a kind of national pose that everybody must have some whisky in his possession, or he was not a regular fellow.' The American practice seemed to be based on the idea, Drink whisky whenever you see it, because you do not know where the next drink is coming from.' The stuff sold to the poorer people was absolutely virulent poison, and in the papers they read case after case of people dying or going blind through its effects. Young people—boys and girls of 16 and upwards—were to be seen making the best of their opportunity. He felt that prohibition was having an effect upon the younger generation of America which would take many years to get over. The increase in private intemperance was such that no words would be too violent to describe it.That is the opinion of a very well qualified business man of Birmingham, after a short visit to America, and I venture to put that opinion against that of the hon. Member who seconded the Motion. Prohibition in America has produced more corruption than any law which has ever been introduced in that country. It is a well-known fact. Reference has been made to the smuggling of whisky that goes on to a very large extent. Of course there is profit in it. But a worse evil than that was the corruption of public officials which takes place in order to get this trade through. The New York correspondent of the "Times "—and I do not quote the "Daily Herald ", but the "Times" says in regard to the charges against the New York City Police in the matter of illicit liquor traffic:A member of the State Assembly has made an attack upon the head of the City Police and declared that he and his friends were 'boot-legging ' and growing rich on the graft.' No one who knows the conditions in New York, said the member of the State Assembly, will question my charge that booze is being sold both in wholesale and retail 2490 lots, with the connivance of the police. There are hosts of lawyers and other reputable persons, who from personal experiences can tell of police boot. legging,' of how good liquor has been illegally seized in many cases by the police and water substituted for the seized stuff, which later has been peddled by the police to saloons doing business under a highly organised bootlegging system which is in vogue in New York City.One would have thought from statements made that the introduction of prohibition into America had produced a great diminution of drunkenness. That is not the case at all. It is a well-known fact that there is more drunkenness in America to-day than ever there has been. I saw a statement by an eminent member of the English Church the other day to the effect that within the last few months, as a result of prohibition, 90 per cent. of the adult population of America were breakers of the law. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Name!"] That prohibition does not prevent drunkenness in America is shown by the fact that a few days ago the jury hearing the case at Philadelphia of a former prohibition director of the city and 28 others charged in a gigantic liquor conspiracy was discharged when the judge learned that the foreman of the jury was drunk on the day the trial started. That sort of thing is one of the results of prohibition. We read, too, that citizens of Gary, the steel centre of Indiana, were shocked at the verdict of the jury in the United States Court finding 55 of its most prominent residents guilty of wholesale corruption, and of entering into a conspiracy to violate the prohibition law. Amongst those convicted of the crime, for which two years' imprisonment and a £2,000 fine may be imposed, were the Mayor of the City, the Sheriff, the Prosecuting Attorney, the City Judge, and many of the most prominent city men. Summing up for the Government, the Prosecuting Counsel said that the evidence submitted proved that lawyers, the police force of the city, and country officials all worked together to obstruct the enforcement of the prohibition laws by seizing spirits from bootleggers not in the conspiracy and distributing them to other bootleggers, sharing the profits. As a result of official corruption, liquor could be bought openly at every soda water shop in the city until the Government agents arrived. What is the good of arguing in face of these facts that prohibition is doing well in America? I join with the 2491 hon. Member for Dundee in any desire he may have to see the people of this country temperate. So far as I am personally concerned, I claim to be a temperance reformer, and the way to produce temperance in this country is to see that the liquor shops are not little, confined, ill-ventilated places such as they are to-day, but to get other wide open places on the Continental cafe system. What have we found during the last 20 or 30 years. If a brewery firm appears before the Licensing bench and asks permission to make structural alterations in any of its premises with a view to giving better accommodation, more ventilation, and more brightness to its customers, the magistrates, or their officials, go round with a tape measure and if they find that the alteration is going to extend the bar 5 or 6 inches, they inform the applicant that the suggested alteration will increase the facilities for drink, and it cannot be granted. That is constantly going on. I say that no obstruction should be offered in the case of any brewery which wanted to improve the premises of any licensed house they may have. Not only would it give better facilities for the health and enjoyment of the people frequenting the place, but it would give work in building and so help to reduce the unemployment in the country.
I am the father of a large family, and, therefore, I claim to have a sense of responsibility. No one with any sense of responsibility desires to make the conditions such as shall encourage drinking. But I contend that the reform of the public house in the direction of a large place, well open, well ventilated, and if you like, open to the street. Such would be less likely to induce drunkenness than the present stuffy bars where men have to stand, and where all they can do is to drink. This would be real temperance reform. These are the lines on which my hon. Friend had far better conduct his campaign than try to stop drinking altogether. You will never make a man sober by legislation, and never stop the sale or consumption of drink by legislation. You cannot alter human nature by legislation, for if you tell a man that he shall not have any drink, he will at once want it.
In 1920 I went through. Canada, as a member of the Empire Press Delegation, 2492 the idea being to try to get the Canadian people to have a better service of English news than they get at present through New York. We went to many public entertainments, and at nearly all of these we were regaled with iced water. I never drank it. If I could not get a bottle of soda water I never drank the other, for I am under the impression that water which has stood for any length of time accumulates germs. At Vancouver one of our party bad to stay awhile, suffering from gastritis, the result of drinking the iced water. We found, however, that the Canadian people were most hospitable in their desire to take us to their homes. If we wanted to drink something a little stronger than iced water, I found throughout Canada there was no impossibility of getting drink. So far as I am concerned, I have no craving for drink. I have not arrived at that neurotic state that the hon. Member referred to, though I am much older than the age at which he put its appearance.
The hon. Member for Dundee said that in 1922 the drink bill of this country was £360,000,000. About one-half of that amount goes to the relief of the Exchequer. If we destroy the drink traffic we shall have to find that amount of revenue by some other means of taxation.
§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
I think it would be a serious matter to find how you would get the income. I hold no brief for the brewers, but I do not agree that they are getting all the plums. A large brewer, who is a friend of mine, told me in 1921 that the nation in the matter of duty and taxation took 12–13ths of his profits, and I think that is a very large share for the, nation to take. If that is a fair estimate of the usual taxation which the brewers are paying then they are doing a good service to the nation in that respect, and I do not think myself that by brewing beer they are doing very much harm. I agree that it is necessary to put some restrictions upon the sale of spirits. Young men do not require spirits, but I see no reason for putting restrictions on the sale of beer, which is the national beverage of the Englishman. If a man requires a glass of beer with his meal why should he not have it? By refusing him this right you are only 2493 driving him to the neurotic state of which we have heard so much to-day.
In America the cost of enforcing national Prohibition has been estimated by the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives at about 9,500,000 dollars, which is equal to about,£2,000,000, and that sum has been appropriated, and spent upon enforcing Prohibition, and, in addition, another 18,000,000 dollars has been spent in the preparation and trial of Prohibition cases, making the total amount about £6,000,000 sterling. Official statistics also show that the preparation of cases and the trial of offenders against Prohibition Laws take up some 44 per cent. of the time of the United States District Attorney, and that seems a very great. waste of the valuable time of this official. The Bill which has been introduced has not been referred to so far, and I should like the House to know what this Bill intends to do if it should be brought into operation. It proposes that it should take immediate effect on the 5th of April, after which the sale of alcoholic liquors is to be abolished. Clause 4 provides thatAny person or persons convicted of infringing any of the provisions of this Act shall be liable to a fine of not less than twenty-five pounds, and not exceeding one hundred pounds for the first offence; or, in default, stiffer imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and not exceeding six months. Upon a second conviction the penalty shall be imprisonment with hard labour for a period of not less than three months and not exceeding twelve months, without the option of a fine. Upon a third or any subsequent conviction the penalty:than be imprisonment with penal servitude for a term of not less than one year and not exceeding five years.
§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
The hon. Member for Dundee did not tell us that in his speech. This Bill infringes the British idea of freedom. In this country we have claimed for the last 1,000 years to be the most free country in the world. I have always adopted myself the motto of the late Lord Beaconsfield, "Trust the people." We have trusted the people in the past, and have we suffered for it? I say that we have not. The great bulk of Englishmen—I include Scotch-men, Irishmen and Welshmen—are not addicted to the overconsumption of strong drink. I know that when I was 2494 a young man there was a good deal of drinking observable in some of our large towns, but I ask hon. Members to observe now and see how many drunken men they can spot in their walks. It is a very rare thing to-day to see a man in an English street the worse for drink. Where, then, is the necessity for repressive legislation of this kind?
There are one or two other little points which I should like to mention. Hon Members opposite have been quoting Divine authority. Personally I never like to introduce Scriptural quotations in support of any argument, but hon. Members who have supported this Bill have referred to the attitude of our Saviour with regard to drink. Do they forget the miracle when our Saviour turned water into wine? A very eminent Churchman was asked a short time ago to preside at a temperance meeting. He took the chair, and said to his audience:I do not know why I have been asked to take the chair, because I am not a teetotaler, but T felt it my duty to see if I could support from Scripture any of my arguments. I have gone through the Psalms and I find there two references to liquor. The first is to wine that maketh glad the heart of man,' and the second is to water with which the wild asses quench their thirst.'It is no good arguing that there is any Scriptural authority for prohibition. With regard to what the hon. Member for Dundee said about the proportion of money expended in wages in connection with the drink traffic. I am afraid that he. does not take into account. the large number of auxiliary trades affected. Does he take into account the number of men who are employed making barrels and the men who cart the liquor, and the large number of men employed in erecting the buildings required and other labour involved. If he does not, then his argument proves to be very fallacious. Many references have been made to the United Kingdom Alliance. Hon. Members will recollect that a short time ago I put down a Resolution to abolish the State management of the liquor trade in the Carlisle district, and on that occasion I had some support from the temperance organisations of this country. I have had resolutions sent to me by the Grand Lodge of England of the Independent Order of Good Templars, by a Yorkshire Temperance Body, and by the Chairman of the United Kingdom Alliance who was very glad to see that I was try- 2495 ing to get the liquor trade out of the hands of the State. After all, some of the temperance people are not so violent in their ideas. They realise that you can by the present licensing laws obtain sufficient control to ensure that the distribution of liquor is carried out satisfactorily and not with the idea of driving people to drink. I know a very large number of men who come before me as a magistrate to obtain licences are ex-service men. They have to be men of the most exemplary character. They have to satisfy, first, the brewer, next the police, then they come before us and go through a rigid cross-examination as to their past, and, finally, they are put in charge of a licensed house. Do not you think that those men, who probably have invested their all in these houses, are out to do all that they can to keep people sober? It is not to their interest to destroy their own business. If a man running a licensed house should by any chance be convicted of an offence against the licensing laws, he jeopardises his living. There are, of course, black sheep in every fold, but the licensed victuallers of the country are a sound body of men who desire to promote temperance and I submit my Amendment "That the Bill be read upon this day six months" with the greatest confidence that it will be carried by a majority of the House.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
I beg to second the Amendment.
When I came into the House, I had no intention of taking part in this debate, but I was asked whether I would second the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member, and I gladly do so. I listened with the greatest possible interest to the, speech of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) who brought in the measure, and I am perfectly certain that nobody could listen to that speech without realising the very obvious sincerity with which he spoke every word, and, though I do not agree with him, I would respectfully ask to be allowed to pay my humble tribute to the sincerity of his speech and the matter of it. I was hoping all through his speech that he would have something to say about the Bill, but he addressed himself mainly to the question in the abstract and did not do anything at all to explain the Bill. The only allusion 2496 he really made to it was that it was the kind of legislation which had never before been introduced. I agree with him. I look upon it—I may be wrong—as a species of stunt legislation. The hon. Member was elected to this House, as he quite rightly and truly said, as an advocate of prohibition, and he has carried out his election promise absolutely in the letter by introducing this Bill. It might be better if other hon. Members carried out their election promises in the same fashion. I represent a great constituency in London, and I am not so far conscious of any supreme demand for prohibition. There is a demand for temperance—a demand which I share and which I really want to do all I can to meet—but I have not so far had any demand from my constituency—and I am sure my experience is not singular—for legislation of this description.
I listened to the hon. Member who seconded the Bill, and all he had to say about it—I took down his words for the sake of greater accuracy—was that the method of the Bill was bad and that the whole Bill was had. It struck me that that was rather faint praise for anybody bringing in a Bill to bestow upon it, and, therefore, I proceeded to devote myself to the measure itself. Like my hon. and gallant Friend who has moved the rejection of the Bill, I examined it and came to Clause 3. I suppose it is meant seriously, but it struck me as being rather humorous that all alcohol should be labelled as poison. Then I went on to Clause 4, and I saw that it applies toany person or persons convicted of infringing any of the provisions of this Act.Some of us have been engaged during the last few days in discussing another Licensing Bill before a Committee of this House, and one of the things about which we have been constantly arguing is to whom this class of legislation should apply. It is perfectly clear that this Bill, without any reservation as regards age or anything else, applies to any person or persons, and therefore anybody who committed an offence under the Bill would be liable to the penalties. Supposing a youth or a boy were to go and buy liquor or commit an offence under the Bill, he would at once become a criminal. On a second offence the youth would be consigned, for a period of not less than 2497 3 months, to gaol, and on a third or subsequent conviction the penalty would be penal servitude for a term not less than 1 year and not exceeding 5 years. Surely the hon. Member who brings in the Bill and those whose names appear upon it do not want to go about manufacturing criminals on the scale. You need have no doubt about it. It will happen here as it has happened in the United States. My hon. and gallant friend quoted President Harding, and I believe it was to this point that President Harding was addressing himself. This sort of legislation inevitably carries with it the manufacture of criminals, because it does not meet with the general consent of the majority. I do not like legislation which is going to manufacture criminals on such a scale.
It seems to me that you can only go in for prohibition if there be a widespread demand for it by the general mass of the population and by all sections of our people. Unless there be such a demand, you have no hope of getting this sort of legislation through. I do not believe that you can legislate people into temperance. I believe that you can secure what you want and what we all want much more by careful regulations such as we have under our existing licensing laws. They may not be perfect, and I do not think that they are, but they are always capable of amendment, and by careful regulations you can do something. But the greatest factor of all is to raise the moral character and habits of life of the people. I maintain that since the War you do not see the same amount of drunkenness as undoubtedly we used to see before the War. Supposing this Bill were passed into law, what would be the effect on the country Hon. Members have alluded only to the question of taxation. Surely it is much more than a question of money. It is true that an hon. Member opposite suggested a tax on land values to replace the money which the State now gets out of the drink traffic. That may be possible or it may not; we hold different views about it. But what of other industries that depend, so to speak, entirely or to a very large extent, on the drink trade?
With regard to agriculture, for instance, only to-day the Minister of Agriculture, in answer to a, Private Notice Question, said that the import of 2498 certain of the essential commodities used in brewing was going to be subject to a, duty. Agriculture grows barley, and also other things, like hops, which are used in the brewing trade. What are you going to do for agriculture to replace them? If legislation of this sort, creating what is really a revolution in the affairs of the country, is going to be passed, I maintain that it is not justifiable unless you have something to replace the displaced industries, and I do not see how you are going to provide for the future of the hop trade, or avoid dealing a most deadly blow at agriculture, if such a Measure as this is passed. There are also all the subsidiary trades which have been alluded to as being concerned indirectly in what is known as the drink trade. They have grown up as the result of the practice of years, and I rather share the view of the hon. Member who seconded the Bill, when he suggested that probably this object could really be better achieved by advancing towards it in short stages. If prohibition is going to come in this country, it will come in that way. The changes will be made gradually, and eventually, if it seems to be good to our people, we shall have it. Legislation of this sort, however, which is in advance of the wishes of the people, is bad.
The hon. Member who brought in the Bill stated, in regard to prohibition in the United States, that as a result there had been a most substantial reduction in the convictions for drunkenness. I am not disposed to place any great value on statistics, because I have always heard it said, and I think it is more or less true, that you can prove almost anything, according to your point of view, if you address yourself to figures. Recently, however, in common with every other member of this House, I received from the Temperance Legislation League a copy of their Monthly Notes of March—April, 1923. It was sent to us, I suppose, in connection with the Bill to protect the adolescent, but it also contained some very valuable information on the working of prohibition in the United States, and it included a reproduction of an article which appeared in the "Westminster Gazette" some time ago, dealing with the subject and giving very valuable figures. With regard to the question of statistics generally, the article says:Statistical evidence plays a large part in controversial discussion. That is inevitable 2499 but it is not convincing. Such evidence is variable in authority and in value; often indiscriminate and casual in collection; and dependent on administrative and racial and economic factors which arc not exposed in the figures themselves.It goes on to say:Further, it has to be admitted that the statistics which are most readily available, and, therefore, chiefly used on either side in argument—the statistics of crime and of drunkenness—are not decisive tests of the virtues of particular policies. They have a traditional value far in excess of their real value.It further says:Drunkenness statistics, for example, are not an accurate reflection of national habits, and they provide at best no more than a fragmentary suggestion of the problem to be solved. Where they are not affected by variations in administrative practice—as they notably are in America—they indicate little more than the confirmed debauchery or occasional relapses from self-restraint of a very small minority of a community. The average consumer of alcohol does not get drunk and does not come within the notice of the police.2.0 P.M.
That is a temperance tract, if I may so describe it, but I share those views absolutely. I do not believe that the average consumer of alcohol necessarily gets drunk. It is perfectly possible for a person to be a moderate drinker of alcohol in its various forms and not to suffer thereby, and I am sure that the hon. Member who seconded the introduction of the Bill would not for a minute advance the theory that everyone who arrived at a certain age, which he put, I think, at 50 or 55, was necessarily going to suffer through the consumption of alcohol. I am sure that he only meant certain persons and certain ages. The article to which I have referred went on to give some figures with regard to drunkenness which, it is true, are official. and were supplied to the writer by the Chief of Police in each of 26 cities which he chose more or less at random throughout the United States. The theory was advanced by one of the hon. Members who introduced this Bill that, of all the "wet" cities in America, New York was the "wettest," and, therefore, the worst. The article gives the number of arrests for drunkenness in New York in 1918 as 7,090, and in Chicago as 44,949, so it can hardly, be that New York was the, "wettest" city: in America.. That, how- 2500 ever, is, perhaps, a minor point. I should like to point out to the House that in 1918 there was no prohibition in America; it only became effective in 1920; and when we come to 1920 we find that in New York the arrests for drunkenness were 5,936, showing a reduction of a little over 1,000, while in Chicago they were 32,000. There was, therefore, on the immediate introduction of prohibition in America, a fall of 12,000 in the case of Chicago and 1,000 in the case of New York. When, however, we come to the year 1922, there were in that year in New York no less than 8,578 arrests for drunkenness, and in Chicago 53,061. That was under prohibition, and that is what happens. I will not weary the House by giving the figures for the other 24 cities included, but I have not taken the worst ones; I have only taken the first two on the table. To summarise the position, it is that in the whole of the 26 cities in 1920—the first year of prohibition —the arrests for drunkenness were 142,000, showing a reduction of 43 per cent. on the 1918 figures, but in 1921 they rose to 190,000, and in 1922 they rose to 256,000, or 4,000 above the figure for 1918.
These are figures given by a temperance organisation, so it can hardly he said that the working of prohibition in America has been exactly a success. It may be that, as time goes on, prohibition in America will be tightened up, but personally I have very grave doubts about it. We all know about the huge smuggling industry that has grown up around that country, and about the widespread evasion that. has taken place, and I say that we do not want that sort of legislation over here, for it will only have the effect of very largely increasing the number of potential offenders in this country. I am not going to put my opinion on the matter of drugs against that of the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter). T am sure the House can accept what he says on the subject of drugs, but there is no doubt whatever that one of the effects of prohibition in America has been enormously to increase the consumption of the very worst and rawest forms of whisky that can possibly be produced. I have met people who have come back from the United States, and they all tell me the same thing, that over there spirit is being drunk which really is poison, and there is no mistake about it.
2501 And if you prevent the production and consumption of drink over here it seems to me all you will do is to force the industry, which exists in this country and which you can regulate now, out of the country, either to Prance, where they will produce the most filthy stuff which, try to prevent it as you will, will get over here somehow, and very much to the real detriment of the health of those who drank it. The Seconder said one of the worst things about alcohol was that it created a craving. I do not believe he is correct in that. It may in some cases but I do not believe it is true in all. What I think is the greatest fact about this legislation and the arguments used in favouring it is that the people who want to increase temperance assume that everyone is a potential drunkard. We are nothing of the sort. English people, whatever we may think of them, have character, whether men or women. We know it well enough. I am convinced that the race is well able to withstand the temptations put before it by drink. I hope the House will support my hon. and gallant Friend in rejecting the Bill.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
I do not happen to agree with either the Mover of the Bill or his opponents. I agree with the testimony which has been already paid to the Mover for the courage with which he advanced an unpopular cause. He certainly has the courage of his convictions. No one could have listened to his speech without recognising the religious motives which animate him, but in this tangled and difficult business, which has baffled statesmen and reformers for so long, it is just as well to have a little judgment, and that I did not find either in the speech or in the Bill. I think the Bill is open to a very serious objection. It certainly carries things with a fine sweep. The penalty is tolerably severe—225 to £100 for a first offence. The unlucky chemist who leaves out the word "poison" from a bottle of alcohol he sells, or who sells without a medical certificate, is subject to that tolerably heavy penalty. There is no provision for the religious use of wine. The clergyman who buys for that purpose is subject to that penalty and his sacramental vessels will he confiscated. That may not be intended but that is what the hon. Member has pro- 2502 posed. I think he has included in the sweep of his prohibition a considerable number of beverages which I do not think he intends, for any beverage in which there is any admixture of absolute alcohol is included in the offence, and I think a good number of people selling ginger beer or ginger ale would find themselves subject to this penalty of 225 or £100. He sweeps away without a moment's consideration on April 5th next millions of capital. He repeals the Temperance (Scotland) Act, to which he has great objections, and he asks that this measure should be put upon the Statute Book without any provision whatever for a plebiscite or without any provision to ensure that the public opinon of the country is behind it.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
An election is taken on 100 different questions. While I think the Bill is open to very serious objection I disagree with the opponents of the Measure in the attitude they have taken up. They claim their alcoholic liberty and they think no one has the right to interfere with the liberty of anyone to drink as he likes and they are convinced that this measure of prohibition in the United States is a complete and absolute failure. It is not my business to defend American prohibition. I have made investigations for years past in the United States myself, and though I have the greatest possible admiration for that great nation I have no very great trust or confidence in their statistics, for they seem to me very rarely to distinguish between facts and snippets from newspapers. Therefore I distrust all those statements of visitors and travellers who come back. In these matters the eye sees very much what it brings with it the power to see. An hon. Member opposite quoted the case of a traveller who came back saying he had been unable to find a teetotaller in the United States. I can go one better than that. I have a friend who was six months in the United States and never saw a funeral and he came back saying Americans did not die. The extraordinary thing about it is that, according to a certain set of statements, if you go to the United States you can buy liquor everywhere without the least difficulty, and that clearly is the reason why it is so strongly objected to by the liquor trade. You find the whole place 2503 reeking in drunkenness according to these statements, you find that there is smuggling everywhere and all the doctors are engaged in a conspiracy, by means of.medical permits, to destroy the effect of prohibition. I have a calculation as to the total amount of liquor which could be supplied under the medical permits which have been given out. If all the medical permits given out to doctors were used to their fullest extent it would amount to 1 per cent. of the pre-prohibition drink trade. We are told of the terrible smuggling that takes place from England. If you take al] the exports of spirits from this country to all the places bordering on the United States from which liquor could possibly be smuggled in, it would amount to 1 per cent. of the drink Bill. But however that may be, on whatever side the justice may be of these discrepant travellers' tales which are brought back, there is one thing that is quite simple. There is no one single Legislature in the United States where you can destroy the case for American prohibition. You can do it in the British House of Commons, but in no one of 48 Legislatures in the United States could you do it. The people who live there and who know about it have been engaged in this business for 50 years. They have been passing this kind of legislation for village, township, county, state, and then for the whole continent. They have their annual, triennial and quadrennial elections, and the people who live on the spot and who have a democratic constitution apparently are not convinced by all these evils that are told to us by travellers who come back. From the last quotation I have seen of President Harding's views, it is futile to expect a repeal of prohibition there. I am content to leave it there, on the authority of the people who live in the country and who have to accept the responsibility.
In 1920 the United States were in the world slump of commercial depression. Everyone said that it was impossible to imagine that one country could get out of that slump by itself, and that the world had to get out of the abyss of depression together. What has happened? In America trade is booming. There is a shortage of labour, there is no unemployment, there is great commercial prosperity. What is the fact which differentiates us from them? If you turn the 2504 enormous river of gold which goes to an unproductive trade, a trade which is at best a luxury trade, and at worst a trade in a degrading poison, and you divert it into channels of productive industry you set in motion a force which makes for industrial and commercial prosperity and the economic welfare of the nation. That is the view which I take of American prohibtion or of what I think is very much more important, Canadian prohibition; the standard of law enforcement in Canada is a great deal better than in the United States. Anyone who knows the difference between these two countries will agree with that.
Why do I think that prohibtion has been successful in the United States? It is because the United States has gone through a state of preparation which the hon. Member for Dundee will not give to this country. You have in the United States a public opinion which has been prepared for measures of this kind. I do not believe it is possible to get that state of public opinion in this country unless you are prepared to go through that stage of preparation. The hon. Member for Dundee said, as if it were a triumphant argument in his favour, that under the Scottish Temperance Act you never get a district entirely dry. That is true, I think, but there is a real difference between nation-wide prohibition and a local system of no licence, such as that set up under the Scottish Temperance Act. The hon. Member has in his country an Act, I wish we had it in ours, under which each locality, each town, each village can choose whether it wants to have this drink trade in its midst or not.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
Under the Temperance (Scotland) Act, even when a parish or a burgh has gone dry by popular vote, the Sheriff can come in, without any appeal from his decision, and dump there as many club licences on the community as he cares.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
There may be, I do not deny it, some faults in the Act, but you will not get a perfect temperance Act of Parliament through the House of Commons at the present time. There are some localities in Scotland under the Act where the retail trade is practically nonexistent. If that is not so in Scotland, there are three-fourths of the rural 2505 parishes of Northumberland and half the rural parishes in Lincolnshire where this retail trade does not exist, and it works so smoothly that I do not think there are half a dozen Members in this House who know of it. If you are to get that, state of opinion you must in the first place have the assurance that there is public opinion behind the law. Where you are dealing with the long-established habits of a nation and the individual habits of people who do not like to be interfered with, it is a council of prudence and caution that you should be sure that behind your act you have the public opinion of the district. If you merely use the power you have by talking about socialism or unemployment and you carry a Measure through this House, and you have not secured that public opinion is behind you, you will fail. If you have a local system of no licence you manufacture opinion. It is obvious that the rural parishes in Northumberland or elsewhere are not simply inhabited by teetotalers, and you can get your drink in from outside. That is recognised and understood and expected. Then people say, "What is the good of it?" My reply is, that in practice you do cut down drunkenness by at least 75 per cent. That is a claim based upon widespread experience in Canada, New Zealand and the United States and I believe it is a stage through which we ought to go.
The no-licence system presents a very great advantage. On the one hand you get a large reduction of drunkenness. Opponents of this Bill say that there. is very little. drunkenness now, but if they bad been on the look-out for it last night they would have been able to see in the streets, as I did, several people who had evidently been celebrating the additional opportunities which the Government had given to them by cheapening the price of beer. Though there has been an improvement, there still remains a very considerable amount of drunkenness with which we have to grapple. Where a system of no licence prevails, you get a great reduction in the drink bill, and not only do you get that reduction in the drink bill in the localities, but by throwing the responsibility upon the people themselves you influence and create a public opinion which does not exist elsewhere. You find the publicans far more careful under this system, because they know that the 2506 conduct of the trade depends, not upon the judgment of licensing justices, who may or may not know the facts, but upon the opinion of the district. You get a very large increase of commercial prosperity as a result of the change by diverting the money from an unproductive and demoralising trade to a productive trade. It may be asked where agriculture is going to get advantage if the liquor trade has to go. It would get its advantage in the increased demand for agricultural products. People ask, "Where are you going to get revenue?" If the wealth of the country is increased the Chancellor of the Exchequer can easily find means of getting revenue. I cannot support the Bill, because I think we have to go through the necessary stages I have indicated. I believe it is more along these lines that real progress will be made. I and friends who act with me have put down an Amendment which cannot be moved in the Second Reading Debate, but which indicates, we consider, the real lines of advance. We cannot hope to get in one day to the stage which Canada and the United States have reached, and I do not say that this means advancing a stage to complete Prohibition. That all depends on public opinion in the future. It may or may not be. You may have a local option system or a no-licence system. You may carry it further as has been done in the United States and Canada, while, on the other hand, in New Zealand and Australia it has not been so.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the States of Maine and Kansas secured Prohibition by their own action without local option 70 years ago.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
Yes, and in the 'seventies in the United States there were some 17 States which tried the system of State prohibition, without going through that stage, and things simply broke down with the exception of Maine and Kansas, and the whole thing had to be built up from the bottom. It is trying to do what Massachusetts and other States tried to do in the seventies, and failed to do. My hon. Friend has got to realise that we who are temperance reformers have to play a long game. We cannot expect immediate results. We can only go forward step by step and I hope that the House will, on some other occasion, say that the steps 2507 which have been begun in Scotland are along the right lines, and though we cannot hope to get the full fruits of the Measure without amending legislation, and without a period during which its results will gradually reveal themselves in the improvement of the districts which adopt it, I believe that those are the real lines of advance which have been proved by the experience of other countries to be sound.
§ Mr. SNELL
It is not my intention to vote for the Bill before the House, but I think it extremely useful that a proposal to restrict or abolish the evils arising from alcoholic drinking should be considered very seriously by this House, no less so when the Bill is of the heroic character of the one now before us. Members in every part of the House will agree that if the evil of excessive alcoholic drinking could be abolished, it would be an extremely good thing for the individual, and perhaps even better for the State as a whole. The evils of alcoholic drinking have been described by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) and the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Dr. Salter). The facts are well known. All of us have known individuals who have fallen victims to temptations placed before them. We. have experienced it in our human relationships, and we see it in the records of crime, as also in the mental and spiritual demoralisation of great sections of our fellow countrymen.
We have been warned against attaching too much importance to the stories of travellers who come back from America with illustrations of the failure or success of the prohibition experiment. We need to be on our guard against that, but it may be possible that persons who have been to America, and examined the matter with the best attention which they could give have as much right to their views as we have to place reliance upon statistics which are sent over the ocean by the trade interests of America on the one hand, or by vehement abstainers 'on the other. It seems to me that a man who goes from another country, entirely detached from passions in the country which he visits, may see more of the trouble than those actually engaged in the strife.
My excuse for intervening in this Debate is that recently I have had two 2508 journeys to America, each of three months duration during which I paid close attention to this problem of alcoholic drinking. I was expected to believe before I went that I should find a wholesale and complete defiance of the prohibition laws. It is true that you cannot speak to an American for many minutes before the conversation veers round to the point that he knows where drink could be got. He is sure that everybody who wants it can get it, but when I pointed out to hundreds of people to whom I spoke that I came from a thirsty land where we had liberty to get alcoholic drink, and asked them where I could get it, I could never find anybody who would tell me, and I came to the conclusion on the whole that the American likes to think himself as a bit of a dog who could, if he would, lead the authorities a dance. Therefore I ask the House to give the very greatest attention to the statistics on this point on both sides that come from America. There is no price, in my judgment, which the drinking interest of America would not pay for a virile and an enduring fight against the temperance laws in that country. On the other hand I think that prohibitionists are not always willing to let righteousness be its own justification. Therefore you have two separate interests which in my judgment exaggerate the evils. There is between those two extremes something that is solid, there is the golden mean if we could only find it.
The failure of American prohibition is alleged to be due first, to wholesale disregard of the law. We must make certain allowances for that.. I hope that I shall not say a word against a friendly and a great nation, which I love and admire, if I suggest that their reverence for the laws which they pass is not equal to that which exists in our own country. They have not the same inspiring regard for politicians as people in our country have, whether with reason or not I will not say, but they do regard the laws of the States rather as pious aspirations than as something which is to be respected and obeyed. Therefore, when they disregard them there is in their minds no moral turpitude involved. it is their habit in the past to think of the law as something made by politicians, and not as something belonging to the nation as a whole. That is the greatest difficulty with which America has to contend. We must have reverence 2509 for the laws that the representative assembly of the nation passes.
It is alleged, secondly, that the laws which arc imposed in some States have not been a success. That is true. When hon. Members speak about the excesses that have taken place in New York, Chicago and other places, they should remember that these few cities are not America. It is, and always will be, difficult to apply prohibition in a great congested area where the legislation is imposed upon it. Apart from New York, Chicago and other places, there is a vast area of America which is more or less satisfied with prohibition. The system breaks down in certain of the big congested areas. Yet when it has broken down, and when full allowance has been made for the fact, an impartial observer must admit that it gets "better and better every day." The old "soaks," as they are called, will get drink in some way or other, if it is to be had. There is, too, the fact that evasion of the law was a very popular "stunt" for a year or two. I think that that will die out. Although these old drunkards who are poisoned by alcohol will get it, or a substitute, they will not give this atrocious stuff to their children or even to their wives. In a year or two America will have a population which has grown up without the acquired habit of alcohol drinking.
Too little is known of the good side of this prohibition measure. Its results are seen in the statistics of disease, of crime, of accidents, of health and of education. In 1920 a survey was made. of one typical city in the Middle West.. This city was chosen after a close examination of many. The suggestion was made by a member of the Supreme Court of America that one city should be chosen, and a perfectly impartial examination made by a body of trained investigators. The people who run the journal called "The Survey," devoted to this special industrial research, put this city under a microscopic examination. They found that the results were greatly in favour of prohibition from the individual and family point of view, and from the point of view of the social good. The old "lumber jacks," as they are called, used to come clown to the cities with their pockets full of wages. They were robbed, 2510 and very soon all their money was gone. It was found that prohibition had helped them. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I read one passage from a statement by the Chief of Police of that City—They tell you prohibition has increased drunkenness, but I say it is a lie. The records show that it is a lie. It is only the old soaks ' that we get for drunkenness, and crime that comes with drunkenness has been reduced too. Just to take an illustration. It used to be a frequent thing for lumber jacks to come to town and get rolled.' The jacks would come down out of the upper peninsular, and Grand Rapids would be the first big town they'd hit. They go in far a good time, having lots of money in their pockets, and when they got drunk, somebody would take them out of town a ways and rob 'em. We used to have four or five cases of that sort a week. We've had only one since prohibition. I tell you, my boy, prohibition is a wonderful thing, There's lots of families in town that are better off than they ever were before. Take a man like Jim Dart. Jim was the worst kind of old soak,' never had a cent., and new he's got 800 dollars in the bank. High wages alone can't do that. Most of these fellows would spend their money on booze if they could get it, no matter what their wages were.If you get men of that responsibility saying that prohibition has helped to sober a nation, we ought to be very careful before we take other advice from drinking interests in America. I would like to say a word of my own experiences during my visits to America. It happens that I saw three drunken people on each occasion. I did not find that there was wholesale evasion. Friends of mine who run social settlements in the poorer districts of New York assure me that they regard their responsibility as reduced by at least 20 per cent. as result of this restriction. It was said that it would lead to wholesale impoverishment and economic ruin. That has been refuted. The case of a famous American brewery has been mentioned. I had the privilege of going round that great institution, which covers a vast area, Before prohibition was introduced, it had produced beer and alcoholic beverages. All at once that trade was stopped. But the owners did not close the plant. They adapted it to the production of other forms of beverages, and I saw the operation of the alcohol being extracted. I was persuaded to drink some of the product. It is called "near-beer." Why, I do not know. Probably because. it was as near as possible, but not quite the 2511 thing. I tasted it, and my observation was that the man who called it that had a poor idea of distance. It certainly had not much to commend it.
Had prohibition in America succeeded completely, it would not prove to us that we could make it a success in this country. We are here to try to apply the highest principles we know in the form of legislative enactments. But those enactments have to be accepted by the people as a whole. You cannot impose upon a people something which their habits or their appetites resent, and carry it through with success. Therefore, the principle which, as legislators, we have to work upon is that we have to establish laws that will have their basis in the widest possible assent of the people. Would prohibition work in this country? I think it extremely probable that it would work in rural areas, and over a great part of this country, but I do not believe that it could be made to work in London or in Glasgow, or in any of those centres where the drinking evil is most to be. observed.
If you had heroic legislation of that kind you would get certain reactions which I for one would regret to see. I do not admire all the laws passed by this House by any means, but I believe, on the whole, that unless we get reverence for the law, our democratic civilisation cannot be maintained. It is our business to alter and improve and mould the law to our own desire, but I should hate in our country to see a law passed which we could not apply, and which would be defied, because in that way the law of the nation would be brought into contempt. That has been described as a timid view by the Mover, but I repeat that all law must be based on the assent of the people. It is the same with taxation. You may have a perfectly just scheme of taxation, but unless you can collect the taxes it will fail. We are always limited by the human material with which we have to deal. On the other hand, I am not greatly impressed by the criticism of prohibition in regard to liberty. All law is a restraint of human liberty, and I do not find hon. Members on the other side very anxious to preserve the liberties of the children of this nation in regard to 2512 good education, food or anything of that kind.
My feeling about it is that if the American experiment should prove an enduring success, its result would be seen in a better standard of health and education, with greater industrial efficiency; and if the profit making class of this country recognise that they can get more profit out of sober workmen than they do at present, they will not allow any question of personal liberty to stand in the way. We may before very long see prohibition imposed upon us by the capitalist class. A final word in regard to the Amendment which was put down, but which cannot be moved, dealing with the question of local option. Theoretically it is right that the people should have the right to decide whether they will have drink in their midst or not, but local option must not be merely coercive and restricted; it must be progressive as well, and allow people the right to decide whether they will make experiments. I want a local option which will not only give people the right to decide that drink should be restricted or abolished, but which will also give them the right to say whether they should not have disinterested management and other methods of meeting the evil. The practical way out of the difficulty is first the elimination of private profit making out of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic liquor—as long as the temptation to make profit exists it is dangerous—and secondly by the provision of houses, a better system of education, wholesome food and air and exercise for the people. Given all these natural and healthy counter attractions, that progress towards sobriety which has been commended this afternoon will go on by leaps and bounds, and, it may be, we shall get prohibition in that gradual natural way, when every man becomes the "captain of his soul."
§ Rear-Admiral Sir GUY GAUNT
I rise to speak on this Bill with some diffidence, because I know I am in for another dose similar to that which I received on the last occasion when I spoke on the liquor question. Last Sunday's "Observer" attacked me, and while they do not say I hold a brief for the liquor business, they accuse me of being the friend of men who may be mixed up with the liquor business. Well, I know some extraordinarily nice drunkards, but I know an 2513 awful lot of nice teetotalers too, and so I have some acquaintance with both sides of the question. I remember when I was a very small boy in Australia, our local paper came out with a ponderous heading—I am in the place wherein I am, commanded of conscience to speak the truth, and the truth I'll speak, impugn it who so list.I may say it was a Conservative paper. It is on those lines that I propose to occupy the time of the House for a few moments. The speech made by the hon. Member who seconded the Motion frightened the life out of me, because he went into the medical end of the question, and talked of the most awful diseases. I felt myself all over, and then I went outside and met a distinguished scientist whom I asked: "For goodness sake what is cirrhosis of the liver? "He said, "It is a thing that cats die of." I put it to him that all the cats I had ever known were prohibition cats.
§ Dr. SALTER
I did not refer to cirrhosis of the liver or to any disease throughout the whole of my speech.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I thank the hon. Member for the correction, and I am sorry I got them mixed up. I congratulate the Mover of the Motion although I profoundly disagree with in everything except his honesty. He meant what he said, and he went for it like a man. Both professionally and privately I have been to America a great deal, and know both ends and the middle of the game there—all I ought to. The last speaker who addressed the House referred to the law-breaking question, and said that the Americans did not evade the law. I disagree with him on that point. The American has always broken his State laws though he never broke his Federal laws, until prohibition was brought in. Again he said that the Americans advertised themselves badly and I agree with him entirely. I am fond of the Americans and before I first went, to America I wash under the impression that you got rudeness from the Customs people, that all your bags were smashed and that the 2514 policeman clubbed you before he met you. It is quite wrong. It depends entirely on the way you take these people. I expect people who treat them badly get the treatment which they deserve handed out to them. We have also been told of public houses in the streets and that a man was invited in and almost dragged into them. I can tell you from my experience that if you close these public houses the wretched man would be chased down the street by people trying to hand drinks into him and unless he was fast they would get him. It is very difficult to go over to America and to get the real point of view on this matter. You have to know the people. I will give you one case. I went to a farm just outside White Sulphur in Virginia. It was a very nice place and the old lady who ran the farm is a very capable woman indeed. She said that prohibition was a blessing, that there was no question about it at all, and that there never was a drunken man about the place. There were two daughters there, of about 26 or 28 years of age, and they had a very different view. They said that in every draft—I understand that draft there, means a dip in the hills—they knew that four stills were going full speed ahead at that time and that these stills were on wheels and that the hired man was usually drunk in the hay loft.
I want, if the House will bear with me for one moment, to explain why I enter very keenly into this question. I am interested in it because I think the root of practically all the evil is drink—taking too much of it. The reason that prohibition came into America was very largely this—I will say this, I believe that if you started the women of America to vote on prohibition, they would vote for it to-day, because they will not go back to the old things against which they voted before—the thing the women were up against was what was known as the "four corner saloon." Wherever there were four roads, there was a saloon at each corner. These saloons were controlled by a man, usually in New York, and not a very high class of animal, either. This man had in, as his agents, simply men of straw, who had no standing in the country, and were of no use at all except that they were political assets in the game and collected votes. One bon. Member has spoken of 2515 the Grand Rapids. I went to the Grand Rapids, and I support largely what he and the Chief Constable said about it.
There is exactly the same thing in Australia. I worked as a cattle man in Australia at one time, just to look at the thing. I confess that my name, at that time, was not Gaunt, but I wanted to see the game. For 12 months these men with whom I worked were sober. During all that time they never touched anything but tea, with no milk in it—just tea and sugar. Then they came down on a glorified fortnight's drunk, if the luck was in for them. I regret to say that the luck was not good to them. They used to go into these beastly places known as "lambing down" places. The men would say to the manager, "Here is my £70, look after it until it is gone." At the end of five days the men would be told that there was nothing more left out of their money. They would be put out to what they called the "dead house," then they poured water on them, and let them go. There was no proof that prohibition would stop that, whereas, if the police went in and cleaned out these "lambing down" hells, you would get much better results than from prohibition. The women in America went in for prohibition in order to try and stop the curse of the whole thing, which was these four corner saloons. They were really nothing more nor less than a political game. Each of these people collected so many votes, and had so many people on their slates.
One of the leading men in America, a very large business man, and one of the heads of a very big organisation, told me this story. He was very keen about Prohibition, being a rabid teetotaller himself. The scene of the story was down in Texas. The railway, when it came there, ran far clear of the town, and the whole town moved to the railway, except the schools, which remained where they were. The people wanted to move the schools to the railway, but T am sorry to say that it was church property. I tell this as it was told me, and if anybody wants to know more, outside, I will give him the name. When they tried to move the schools, I am sorry to say that a good many church people, who were mixed up with the land on which the schools stood, went to the man in New York who controlled some 16 of the 30 2516 votes, and said, "If you meddle with this thing we are going to vote ' dry.'" The schools are in the same place to this day, four miles from the railway station. It was not the liquor the women of America were up against so much as the political business of the four corner saloons.
Two hon. Members on the opposite benches—if they be present here to-day—will bear me out when I say that I met them quite by accident in America. We were staying in the same hotel. They will support me, also, when I say that numbers of bell-boys, waiters, and fellows of all sorts used to produce perfectly rotten liquor in the rooms, and try to persuade. one to take it. One hon. Member on the other side of the House said he thought that the whisky distillers, and those people, in England ought to be prosecuted. On the other hand, I would give them a medal, because they turn out jolly good stuff. When I was in an American hotel during the last 18 months, I was sent a. good deal of whisky, with polite notices, in which the senders said, "We know you will have a lot of people coming in to see you. We are terrified lest you will get something from one of the hotel servants. Do use this, it will be all right." When I left the hotel—the same maid looks after. me, always, over there—[Laughter] you are quite wrong; she is Irish-imported—when I was leaving, I tipped this woman very well. I was not used to breaking the law, and I pointed to all my empty bottles, and I said, "Can you do anything with them, to get them out of the way? She said," Are you going to give them to me, sorr?" "That is the general idea I started on," I replied. She answered," Heaven be praised, sorr! They are worth 1½, dollars each to me. They are all genuine Johnny Jamesons." The common thing in America is "hooch." Everybody makes "hooch." If a man wants a job as a gardener, his recommendation is that he makes "hooch," and makes it well.
You talk about prohibition in one place and not in another. When I was in Washington, I noticed a lot of people carrying small square bags, like doctors do. The trade in those small square bags, which held four bottles of whisky, was perfectly marvellous. Everybody bought them. Therefore, I say, people will get round prohibition, and it will not kill 2517 the drink. An hon. Gentleman near me, who is a prohibitionist, says he does not know what "hooch" is. It is a homemade beer, and you can get it practically anywhere you like all over the place. I am sorry that the last hon. Member who spoke did not get the luck, or else his face is more in his favour than mine was, or something like that. Over there the whole conversation is about liquor. You can get liquor anywhere. I wonder whether hon. Members remember a picture that appeared in "Punch," years ago, when landlord and agent shooting was rather fashionable in the West of Ireland? It was the picture of a land agent who had gone over there. He said to the Jarvey who was driving him, "after all, the other man was here for three years, wasn't he?" The Jarvey replied, "Well, Sir, what's everybody's business is nobody's business."
In America, it is the other way around. What is nobody's business is everybody's business. You can get liquor anywhere you like, everybody talks it; and I do not think for one moment that this Bill will prevent it. I know Judge Brand extremely well; he is a friend of mine, a very straight and honourable man in every way. I believe—it is rather unfair to say so—that he agreed with me, when I said, "You have got to have beer and light wines, certainly." I gathered, from what he replied, that that was his opinion of things also. I will give one other instance. There was a man in America who was anything but a teetotaler. He was running a big printing business, and when prohibition first came in he said it was the very finest thing they could possibly have. He said, "I have liquor enough to last for the next 50 years, and I shall not live more than 30, anyway." He said, "We have to write off for drunkenness at present about 3 per cent. Now that my workmen will not be able to get liquor, it will be a perfectly splendid thing." Last May, I asked this man about it. He said that since prohibition had come in his losses had been perfectly tremendous, because before when a workman came in drunk he would show it, and they would know what to do. He added that now he got fiery at any old time, and they did not find it out till afterwards." He told me also that outside there were merchants, peddling small whisk brushes. I went 2518 out and bought a perfectly good whisk brush, which I did not want, for half a dollar. I looked at it, and found, to my disappointment, that it was a whisk brush. A messenger was sent out, who bought one, the handle of which came off and was full of liquor. My friend said to me, "There you do not know where you are." I stand by that, and I can give any hon. Member chapter and verse for it.
§ Sir G. GAUNT
I borrowed it! The most ardent advocates of the "dry" designs in America at the present time are the "wets," because there are, of course, unscrupulous ruffians, making good money out of this thing. It would he hopeless to try and enforce this over here. I am only here to give some actual personal experiences on the troubles of prohibition in America. I quite realise that America is up against it. They have written the Eighteenth Amendment into the Constitution, and you apparently cannot blast it out with anything, but I believe they will get round it at no very distant date—[An HON. MEMBER: "No!"]—and then America once more will be a happy and prosperous country.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
We have just been regaled with two distinctly opposite points of view as to the results of prohibition in America, but T do not think either of those two hon. Members know the whole facts of the case in America to-day. I have received correspondence from friends of mine in America, and one friend says that prohibition is a great success and a great boon to the nation, while another friend says that prohibition has destroyed home life in America, and is responsible for a host of other evils. I do not think we ought to deal with this question from the point of view of the American experience or the experience of any other country. First of all I think we ought to try to determine whether the drink as we have it here to-day is an evil that should be suppressed, and I am convinced that there are innumerable reasons to be given for the suppression of this trade. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Sir A. Holbrook) asked for one reason why we should bring forward this Measure at the present time. Well, 2519 first of all, there is a financial reason. We spend in this country to-day an average of about £7,000,000 a week on drink.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
In 1921 we spent on drink £402,000,000, and in 1922 we spent over £350,000,000, and if that is not a sufficient reason for the suppression of this trade, I do not know what is. We have been discussing the Budget this o eek, and very grave consideration has been given to the financial difficulties which the country has to face this year, and yet we find that nearly half the amount that this country has to raise for purposes of national administration is being thrown away on what is neither in reality food nor drink, and on what does not help in the sustenance of our people. I do not know that it rests with me to detail the evil consequences of the drink traffic. We have had a speech from the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), who has, from a technical aspect. shown the effects on both mind and body of participation in drink. It is responsible for a great deal of poverty. It is responsible for a great deal of ill-health. It is responsible for a great deal of industrial inefficiency. If these three reasons are not sufficient reasons in condemnation of this evil, then I have to look for something else. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke said he had not been able on Armistice night to find more than one drunken person in London. He also said that he had not been able to discover a good reason for prohibition. Members Who cannot discover causes of complaint against the existing condition of the drink trade in this country have not paid as much attention as they should to the results of the drink trade.
I come from an industrial district where, I am quite sure, the conditions of life of the people would be much happier if no public houses existed. I know that a great many women and children are not looked after as well as they should be, because of the great attraction which the public house has for the head of the family. It is because of the children, and the wives and mothers, and because I want to save the men themselves from being victims of this habit, that I support this Bill. We in this country must be stirring on this question. We have 2520 the example of America, but we also have the example of our own Dominions, and we must not assume that all the people in the civilised world are wrong, and we. alone are right. I had the advantage, 20 years ago, of living in a prohibition district in Canada under an Act of Parliament passed more than 40 years ago. At that time 19 out of 22 counties in Nova Scotia were dry, and comparing the conditions of the working people, I say they lived ever so much more comfortably and happier in the dry districts. It is only a minority in New Zealand who maintain the drink traffic there. In Europe, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Esthonia, Iceland, Denmark, are rapidly arriving at the goal of prohibition, and we must be preparing the minds of our people as to the possibility of release from this great evil that has been responsible for so much misery. I am going to support this Bill, knowing full well that this is not the last word to be spoken on it. I am sure that every man who believes in sobriety, who is desirous of improvement in the homes of our country, has a duty and a great responsibility, and he must take his stand in this House and outside on the side of total abstinence, and compulsory abstinence for those who will not do it in their own way.
§ Mr. JAMES STEWART
I do not think there is anyone in this House who coming from an industrial constituency does not admit that drink is responsible for a great deal of misery, and accentuates in some degree the poverty of our people. In my city I am sorry to say drunkenness is not an uncommon thing. You cannot travel our streets without a feeling of grief and degradation at the sights you frequently see. While that is all true it is also quite true that some of us perhaps in all parts of this House can speak from experience as to the misery, worry and the anxiety that is caused by over-indulgence on the part of some relative or other. I daresay most of us will know something of that. But in spite of all that I cannot bring myself to believe that because a minority of people of this country take drink to excess, and are a curse to themselves and bring suffering to their children that the great majority who as I believe — perhaps erroneously, but honestly—do take a glass 2521 of beer, or, what is even worse in the minds of some people, a glass of whisky—do any injury either to the community or to the individual member of it. I believe that we are growing more sober year by year and that as the hours of labour have been shortened, and greater opportunities for recreation are being provided, by means of libraries, open spaces and so on, music in our parks, out-door recreations, all these elevating influences act in some degree to help to elevate the tone of our people.
At the New Year in my own city—and that is the time that is generally recognised as being the occasion when all the Scots indulge in liquor—though I am glad to say that that statement was never true, and it is less true to-day than it was perhaps 20 years ago. I attended a dance on 3rd January, where there was at least 400 young people. These ranged in age between 18 and 30. Not, one of these was under the slightest influence of liquor. That was without any restraint whatever on their actions. 20 or 30 years ago that would have been impossible. If I had attended, as I did, similar gatherings undoubtedly there would have been some persons under the influence of liquor. I smoke and I drink tea. There are sections of the community that tell me that I ought not to smoke and that I ought not to drink tea, that the one affects my general health and has an effect upon my nervous system, making me susceptible to other influences, and on the other hand that smoking is injurious. I deny the right of these to do this even supposing they were in a great majority.
§ Mr. STEWART
And I was only one. I deny their right to prevent me from exercising my freedom in this respect. But while that is true, I honestly have the opinion that the trade, conducted as it is at present, is a menace to the well-being of the people and of the State. Efforts ought to be made to control it not by preventing the people from getting a glass of beer, but by eliminating the question of personal profit. Public-houses are not conducted for the purpose of providing us with refreshment, but for the purpose of making profit. The more liquor a man sells the more profit he makes. Just as a man sells tea and sugar 2522 with the incentive to make a profit the publican is interested in selling liquor, and the more he sells the more profit he is going to make. I stand for the one way in which I think personal freedom can be maintained, while at the same time sobriety may be promoted and licence may be prevented, is by State ownership and municipal control of the liquor traffic.
As Carlisle has demonstrated I believe you can do both those things in that way and do them well. A great deal has been said to-day about the effect of Prohibition in America. Let me give my own testimony as to what I have seen in America. In 1920 I was in the States for six months and I travelled both in Canada and the United States as far north as Quebec. I went to Los Angeles and right north to Seattle and back to New York. There was no time on the whole of that journey from east to west from north to south and west to east but what drink could be bought and was bought in every one of the towns through which I passed. I was the guest at a number of functions, and on every occasion liquor was provided for the guests. Last year I was in the States for three months and I was in the City of Stamford, Connecticut, and the two liquor establishments that I visited there were just as openly conducted as the public-houses in this country.
Just before leaving, I attended a. Clam Bake given on the shores of Long Island Sound, where there was a barrel of beer out on the shore. There were orange blossoms, ad lib., as they were called, for the people who made up that party. The barrel of beer was placed on the shore, from which they filled their pitchers. People were passing to and fro and no one took any notice. Hon. Members may think that that is the kind of company I keep. It may be true that other hon. Members who have been to the United States have mixed with different society from the low company I associated with, and I am not prepared to dispute what they may give as having been their experience in America. I do not question it for a minute. I would like to conclude by reading some passages from two letters. One is from a son of my own, a boy of 17 years of age, who has just graduated from high school there. He begins his letter as follows:This, as usual is the third day of the new year. Many of our Ludlow folk were on the spree.2523 Ludlow is in the State of Massachusetts. It is not the Ludlow, for the result of the Election at which I am waiting.
§ Mr. STEWART
The date of this letter is 3rd January—There were plenty of young fellows here in Ludlow helplessly drunk on New Year's Eve, nothing being said about it. The Volstead Act seems to have had very poor effect upon the affected. The young fellows think that because the sale of intoxicating liquors is prohibited, it is great fun to drink like a man, and a. fool. Some of the most respected people here in Ludlow are illegally possessing themselves of the beverages wholesale and selling them at very high prices. Fortunes are being made in a few months. Perhaps you remember— I will not read the name; it might be. unfair—
telling us of the man who made 50,000 dollars in two months. Well, the game is still in its heyday, and the boot-leggers are reaping their harvest of the fools' labours. A Ludlow man got caught on the border.and got a 1,600 dollar automobile confiscated. He is back' at his old tricks getting his own back from some silly fools. The next letter is from a daughter of mine, in the same little township. The letter is dated 30th March, 1923. She says:I am getting now so scared to conic down the road when it is dark. Several times I have been accosted by drunken men. Last 'Saturday night I got the worst scare ever. I was alone on the road but for several drunken men. I knew I had to pass them as I had seen them coming. When I got near, they came in my direction, saying Hello sister and muttering something else. I hurried on as fast as could and did not dare look behind. I was so scared. I never had this experience until the country went dry. It is dreadful now. You cannot miss seeing drunks in the street now every night. In fact, it is worse instead of growing better. Just last week a young woman was rolling down the hill along with a man, and both were so druids. It was raining, and she was soaked through. The man was having a terrible struggle trying to keep her on her feet: I think this is the first woman I have seen in Ludlow in such a condition. If they were just plain drunk, it would not be so bad, but they are crazy with the stuff that the home brewers are selling.That bears out my own experience. I hate drunkenness, and I want to have our people sober, so that they may upset this hellish system that surrounds us. I believe that if we had a sober people we 2524 should much sooner reach an end of the system that makes for poverty. But it is not drunkenness, as Messrs. Booth and Rowntree have shown, that makes the mass of poverty that exists in our country. In 1903, 30 per cent. or thereabouts of our people were living on the poverty line, and to-day the condition is much the same; but I am convinced that if the people were sober, and absolutely denied themselves drink, and the conditions otherwise remained the same as they are, we should still have the horrible slums, the terrible poverty, the naked children, the hungry and overburdened mothers. It would only be that, if they were sober, they would realise, perhaps, the necessity for a change better than they do to-day. I want a sober people, but at the same time I want the same freedom for others that I want for myself, though I do not take strong liquor and have no desire for it. While I want that freedom for myself, I want. at the same time to see freedom granted to other people, not for licence, but for something approaching liberty.
§ Major PAGET
I think the Bill of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) has been hardly treated, because, although I have sat here through practically the whole of the debate, I have scarcely heard one word about the merits of the Bill itself. We have been taken to all parts of the world, but about the Bill itself hardly one word has been said. Therefore, with due humbleness, I should like to say a few words as to what I think about the Bill itself. I think it has hardly gone anything like far enough in its objects. For instance, Clause 1 deals only with alcoholic beverages, but it is a well-known fact that tea is a stimulant, and I know of a case of an aunt of an hon. Member of this House, the sister of a very old Member of this House, who held the same views as the hon. Member for Dundee. She worked very hard to further those views, and was a very strong tea-drinker, until one day she was found chasing imaginary rats up the curtains. You can get delirium tremens from drinking tea just the same as you can from drinking alcohol, and, therefore, I would ask the hon. Member for Dundee to include tea in his Bill. Then we know that tea is brewed, and I think there are some Members of this House who will agree with me when I say that 2525 half the trouble of this world is brewed by a lot of old women, some of them in trousers, sitting over a cup of tea.
There is also cocoa. Cocoa induces fatness, and fatness induces weakness of the heart. Therefore, I do not think any harm can be done by including cocoa also. Coffee, too, is a stimulant, and engenders biliousness, bad temper, and excitement; and I think the hon. Member may agree with me that possibly coffee is the cause of some of the heat engendered among his neighbours at various times, because it seems to be their standard drink. He has, of course. included in his Bill all taxable liquors, and mineral waters are taxed. I am glad that they are included, because I think it is generally known that mineral waters engender gas, self-righteousness, and intolerance. To Clause 5 we can take very little exception, but I had hoped such a stalwart would have ignored the few people who require it for medical purposes, and stood firmly on his two feet for total prohibition for any purpose whatever.
Now we come to Clause 4. The hon. Gentleman informed us that the people who get their living out of alcohol are deadly assassins. I do not think he has gone quite far enough if these men are what he makes them out to be. Think of the fate of a common or garden man who commits a simple murder, while these assassins who are killing their tens and hundreds every day are allowed to offend on three occasions before they get a mere paltry sentence of 10 years' imprisonment. It must be agreed that the proposition is absurd. We have seen what has happened in the country of the Noble Lady (Viscountess Astor). We are all sorry not to see her here to-day, and more sorry still that the cause which is keeping her away is the illness of her son. We have been told how inadequate are the penalties of the ordinary law, and I therefore suggest that the hon. Member should consult with the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Newbold), and get him to induce his Bolshie friends to lend him a few Chinese torturers, to invent suitable penalties for these criminals. I am certain the Home Secretary, who has been accused of dealing so strongly with mild men who only planned to commit murder and outrage against the peace of the realm, would assist in devising a proper scale of punishment. If the hon. 2526 Member would consent to a two-word Amendment to Clause 7 he would have very little difficulty in getting the Bill through all its stages. It is to substitute for "the United Kingdom" the words "Dundee" and "Glasgow."
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I think the House is to be congratulated that only one speech has been addressed to it in a flippant manner. Up to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down a very high level of debate has been maintained, and the subject has been treated seriously. I do not think much is to be gained by addressing ourselves to individual experiences in the United States. The outstanding fact about prohibition in the United States is that two-thirds of the representatives of the American people believe in this law. If what has been said here is a correct representation of what is going on amongst that 100,000,000 people across the Atlantic is it possible that the American people are ignorant of it? Is it possible that two-thirds of their Members of Parliament are ignorant of these facts? Before the Prohibition Act was passed, over three-fourths of the American people were living under prohibition. Were all these people ignorant of the facts. [An HON. MEMBER: "What has that got to do with this country?"] It has this to do with the question, that the argument has been put forward that because prohibition has been such a fiasco in the United States we ought not to have it here.
I am not supporting the Bill; I am opposed to it; The Mover said that alcohol is an enemy, and we must destroy it. Total abstinence is his aim; the Bill is only a means to that end. If he means that total abstinence is a desirable end, he ought to go about that end by converting the majority of the people to that view. Only a very small minority of the people of this country hold his view. There is another way in which he could do it.. He could use the armed forces of the Crown to enforce prohibiton but he is a pacificist and he would not do that. He can do it by teaching. There is more virtue in the man who is a total abstainer from principle than the man who is a total abstainer because he cannot get drink. It is best to persuade each individual that alcohol in itself is an evil. Drunkenness is only a trifling evil compared with the evil of alcohol. If we 2527 abolish drunkenness we shall still have the alcohol evil. The alcohol evil is represented by the figure 22.3 which means that 50 years ago alifeinsurancesocietystarted to divide the persons insured into two categories, one of total abstainers and the other of moderate drinkers. No drunkards are taken into life insurance societies. Doctors are warned that in examining applicants for insurance heavy drinkers should not be admitted. Two other life insurance societies started about 35 years ago to set apart the two categories of total abstainers and non-abstainers or moderate drinkers, and the result of their observations carried over the last 50 years is that the total abstainers have an advantage in life expectancy of 22.3 per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is not fair."] I am not concerned with their ultimate destination, but I am concerned with their death rate. The heaviest indictment you can hurl at alcohol is that it is the friend of all diseases. That figure does not mean that these insured people die of alcoholic diseases only but they die of other diseases aided by alcohol. There is not a disease to which the human flesh is heir that is not helped in its deadly course by alcohol. Alcohol in the body, as has been proved over and over again, assists disease by lowering the resistance of the body to disease. That means that every moderate drinker is more liable to disease, he is more liable to die of disease, his convalescence is liable to be prolonged because of alcohol. If you put him under chloroform it is worse for him if he has alcohol in his veins. If he has an accident or gets double pneumonia he is less likely to recover. He is more liable to all germ diseases. The greater liability to mortality of the moderate drinker is represented over 22 per cent.
Now as to prohibition and local option, I am against prohibition by Act of Parliament, and will vote against this Bill. You cannot enforce prohibition by Act of Parliament. But I am not opposed to prohibition by local option, because when a small community is ripe for this change, I would allow it to make the change without having the liquor traffic imposed on it by votes from outside. This is a local matter. If a particular community thinks that it suffers by the presence of saloons in its midst, it should be entitled to say by its votes, "We shall not allow anyone 2528 to sell drink in this community for the sake of profit." There is nothing revolutionary about that. If the people in my town, Dumfries, do not wish to have open bars in their town, they should be allowed by vote to close the bars, but I would not allow Dumfries to have its bars closed by the votes of people up in London. It is purely a matter of domestic administration. If you want to limit or prevent the consumption of liquor, the best thing is to allow these small communities to accomplish it for themselves. When they do that, each small centre becomes a demonstration centre. That has happened all over the world. People in other places would be watching the result, and that would be an education in itself. If it were not of advantage they would not accept it, and if it were of advantage they would accept it. That is why I am opposed to this Bill, though believing that ultimately prohibition will come by way of the local vote.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
I am exceedingly glad that I have not to give a silent vote. I propose to vote for the Second Reading of the, Bill, which I regard as an assertion of principle, the principle that the community as a whole has the right to prevent the circulation of poisons which are detrimental to the community as a whole. But, like many other speakers, I do not agree with the terms of the Bill, and if the Bill were to go further than a Second Reading, I should vote for the addition of a Clause which would insure that before prohibition became the law of this country, it should first be submitted to a plebiscite, because I do not believe that you can impose prohibition upon an unwilling people. I live in a town which "went dry "under the Scottish Temperance Act. I do not agree altogether with the denunciations of that Act, made in perfectly good faith by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour). Nor do I agree with the excessive praise of that Act this afternoon. I know that after a huge majority had been secured for wiping out the local alcohol traffic, after seven years' notice had been given, it was found possible for a sheriff sitting in a country town 30, 40, or 50 miles away, to impose club licences upon the community against the community's wish.
Obviously, that is not a test even of local option, in any shape or form; it is 2529 not a test of democracy in liquor legislation, but is a. farce which should be ended. I agree with the last speaker that the chief argument for the Bill is to be found in the medical evidence, on the evidence supplied by insurance offices. What do you find? That there are in this country insurance offices run for shareholders' profit, which actually give a reduction of 10 per cent. of the premium to any assured person who is a total abstainer from alcohol. I take it that the medical officers of these insurance offices are thoroughly satisfied that riot only drunkenness, but alcohol taken in moderation, increases the risk of death and makes a life more hazardous for the insurance company. I do not know anything about the prohibition experiment in the United States, but I do know something about the partial experiment under the Scottish Temperance Act. I know that whereas we used to have police courts sitting once a week or oftener, after we "went dry" under the Act our police courts began to sit monthly or every two months, and that we have reduced very considerably petty cases before the Courts. In a neighbouring town which also "went dry," it is the testimony of the manager of the local, co-operative society that, despite the lock-out of the miners—who desired to stick to their agreement while the masters did not want that agreement maintained —in an area that was in economic poverty for a period, trade has increased, and working class conditions are infinitely better than they were before the Act secured a verdict. There is only one further point to which I wish to refer.
§ [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide! "] The hon. Member for Dundee seemed not to be pleading so much for prohibition of alcohol as for prohibition of temperance organisations other than the one with which he is connected. I am not connected with any temperance organisation. I am not a member of any temperance society of any kind, lout we should accept the help of every agency that makes for sobriety and makes for that condition of affairs, without which in the first place prohibition could never have been achieved in the United States. America was three-fourths dry by local option before prohibition was possible. I do not believe it is possible to impose prohibition upon the people of this country by legislation unless you are assured that a majority of the people in these islands are willing that the experiment should be tried. By prohibitory measures you interfere not merely with economic arrangements, but with the personal habits—sometimes the ingrained habits—of a lifetime. I do not believe you can impose prohibition. You must first receive the consent of the people of the country before it can operate. Nevertheless, as a demonstration against the alcoholic liquor traffic and all it stands for, I propose to vote for the Second Reading.
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word ' now ' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 14; Noes, 236.2531
|Division No. 102.]||AYES||[3.59 p.m.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Jones, R. T (Carnarvon)||Weir, L. M.|
|Buchanan, G.||Maxton, James||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, O. R. (Glamorgan)||Muir, John W.|
|Hardie, George D.||Murray, B. (Renfrew, Western)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Richards, R.||Mr. Scrymgeour and Dr Salter.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Becker, Harry||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Betterton, Henry B.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Blundell, F. N.||Chapple W. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Bonwick, A.||Charleton H. C.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Clarke Sir E. C.|
|Astbury Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Brass, Captain W.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Baird Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Baldwin Rt. Hon. Stanley||Briant, Frank||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Balfour, George (HampstBad)||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Colfox, Major Wm Phillips|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood.||Buckle, J.||Coille Sir John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth. Abertillery)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Cope Major William|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Burgess, S.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page|
|Batey. Joseph||Butcher, Sir John Georoe||Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Hurd, Percy A.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Richardson, Lt. Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Irving, Dan||Ritson, J.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Dunnico, H.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Robertson- Despencer,Major(lsl'gt'nW)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Jones, T. l. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Ellis, R. G.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Lansbury, George||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lawson, John James||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Leach, W.||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.|
|Fildes, Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lorden, John William||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Lougher, L.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Furness, G. J.||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gates, Percy||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James l.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Maddocks, Henry||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Margesson, H. D. R.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Gosling, Harry||Mercer, Colonel H.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Gould, James C.||Middleton, G.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Greenall, T.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Sullivan, J.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Groves, T.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thornton, M.|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Mosley, Oswald||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murchison, C. K.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Harbord, Arthur||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Tout, W. J.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wells, S. R.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Paget, T. G.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Whiteley, W.|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Penny, Frederick George||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Leslie O.(P'tsm'th, S.)|
|Hiley, Sir Ernest||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Winterton, Earl|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. C.||Peto, Basil E.||Wise, Frederick|
|Hodge. Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Phillipps, Vivian||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hogge. James Myles||Philipson, Hilton||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Pilditch. Sir Philip||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Howard. Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Potts, John S.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hudson, Capt. A.||Price, E. G.|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hume, G. H.||Remnant, Sir James||Sir A. Holbrook and Captain|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.||Viscount Curzon.|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Words added.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.