§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This is the second occasion on which I have had the privilege of moving the Second Reading of a Bill of this character. The first occasion was on the 20th April, 1923. At the outset, I will briefly describe the Clauses of this momentous Bill. The first and second Clauses are intended directly to determine the date at which the renewal of licences and the issuing of fresh licences would cease, and also to make final the operation for the manufacture, sale and importation of intoxicating liquors and beverages. The third Clause makes provision for the use of such a commodity for scientific or industrial purposes. The fourth Clause lays down penalties for a violation of the prohibition law. The fifth Clause provides for the repeal of all licensing legislation, sometimes termed temperance legislation, but referred to in the Statutes as Licensing Laws. Clause 6 settles the question of the definition of the term "alcoholic liquors," Clause 7 applies the Act to the whole of the United Kingdom, and Clause 8 gives the short title as the Liquor Traffic Prohibition Act, 1930.
In 1876, the well-known pioneer of temperance political movement, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, speaking in this House on his own permissive Bill, pointed out thatThe Bill is not antagonistic to any of the Bills I have mentioned"—they were Bills proposing certain methods for regulating the liquor traffic—or any scheme of licensing reform which anybody may think right to bring before this House; it is only intended to supplement them.Writing in the "Times" newspaper in July, 1894, with reference to the Gothenburg disinterested management system, which was then being nationally supported, he said:Give the licensing reformers a free hand. Let every district be allowed to work out its own salvation. Trust the people, as Lord Salisbury says. That is all which I have ever advocated.760 I wish to make the point clear, as an emphatic confirmation of the case which I submitted in 1923, as to the marked distinction and contrast between this Measure and other temperance proposals. On this question, we have had in this House and in the country deliverances in most emphatic condemnation of the liquor traffic by statesmen of bygone days, as well as those who are representative of our political forces to-day. Among the illustrious names of those statesmen of the past I might mention Gladstone, Lord Randolph Churchill, Mr. Balfour, Lord Rosebery, Sir William Harcourt, Bright, Cobden and Joseph Chamberlain.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I would not guarantee that. That emphasises the importance to my temperance friends of being sure about the position of those who make condemnation of the liquor traffic. I will give one illustration representative of such deliverances against the liquor traffic. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, speaking in Sheffield on New Year's day, 1874—a very important day in Scotland so far as this kind of business is concerned—said:If we could destroy the desire for strong drink in the people of England, what changes we should see. We should see our taxes reduced by millions. We should see our gaols and workhouses empty. We should see more lives saved in 12 months than are consumed in a century of hitter and savage war. We should transfigure and transform the face of the whole country.Mr. Chamberlain was not among those who could be described as a fanatic on this question, whatever may have been said about him with regard to other questions. We have had a stirring time in the House this week on the question of economy, and very important deliverances have been made as to what can be done regarding wastage in one direction or another. There is the most emphatic and unchallengeable evidence that this particular traffic is a national wastage. I am glad to be able to speak to-day on this question from this side of the House instead of the Opposition side, as on the last occasion. I do not say that the Government will adopt my position, but I am able to say on the authority of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland that he is very sorry that he will not be here to-day; otherwise, 761 he would have spoken and voted for the Bill. I should have liked to have heard a Prime Minister from the Treasury Box supporting the case, and one day I know that he will do it, for the carrying of a Measure of this kind. It is only fair to the Under-Secretary to say that he prefers the taking of a national plebiscite.
I have sought to ascertain the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has made some very slashing attacks upon the liquor traffic and has made criticisms of his own party in so far as their support of the liquor traffic and participation in the use of intoxicating liquors, is concerned. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he did not vote for my Bill on the last occasion and that he could not have done so had he been present to-day. He, too, is for the line of the national plebiscite. I want to say on that score that no statesman or politician must think that he can get round the difficulties of this question by talking about a national plebiscite. If we are to have a national plebiscite, some party or parties will require to take up the proposal, to push it, and to carry it through this House. The conflict will be waged then. In the meantime, I suggest that it is hardly fair that those who want to have a plebiscite should make observations as to the prospects of a plebiscite without taking the initiative in leading the country to obtain what is desired. The Prime Minister, in dealing with the question of industrial depression, made an important statement in a New Year message to the "Daily Herald" last month: He said:Catastrophe has come upon us from finance, from that complicated system of credit and currency, which, in its relation to production, has been dislocated to an alarming extent. A few financiers in London, or Paris, or New York, pursuing their own ends and looking after their own fortunes, are able to destroy the fruits of good harvests and the productive accomplishments of human energy.That is an appalling international situation which I want to see brought to an end. In regard to this question, I have been in correspondence with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I have not yet got much satisfaction. The whole difficulty is being dealt with by other nationalities, with very effective results, and it can be and 762 ought to be tackled in our own country. I am urging to-day that the Bill gets right down to business and is an economy in the interests of the country. The Prime Minister, in his famous speech at Blackpool as quoted by the "Northern Daily Telegraph," said:If our people sacrifice strong moral rectitude for the flashy enticements of the day and the hour, as did the people of Rome, then we are ruined as Rome was.The editor's comment on that was:We further advise the Minister of Transport, to turn up a certain deliverance wherein the Chancellor of the Exchequer pictured democracy on the roundabouts and getting off exactly where it got on. And as a last exercise he might look up one of his own speeches of last year in which he dealt with the waste of wealth in improvident consumption, like drink and betting, and declared that if only a portion were wisely spent the country would have gone a long way to settle the unemployment problem.The Royal Commission which was appointed on April 24th, 1896, and which reported in 1899, presented a Majority Report which was signed by 17 members, eight of whom represented the liquor interests in which they said: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.I stress the fact that eight representatives of this huge licensing octopus, which is sucking the life blood out of all sorts and conditions of our people, described it as bringing about a national disgrace and degradation. Evidence was submitted before the sitting Royal Commission to this effect, that in four London brewing companies there were amongst the shareholders 46 peers, 20 peeresses, 161 lords, ladies and honourables, 47 baronets, 106 knights, 17 members of Parliament and a large number of lawyers, Army and Navy officers and over 100 doctors, all engaged, on the authority of the representatives of the business itself, in producing national degradation. Do not let us hear anything more about extreme language used by temperance people or prohibitionists. The Scottish Temperance Alliance submitted evidence before the Scottish Commission and actually suggested a maximum scale for the number of retail licenses similar to that proposed in the Peel Minority Report of 1899—namely, one licensed house for every 750 persons in town and for every 763 400 persons in country districts. That is a most unsatisfactory proposal from the standpoint of the temperance movement. The President of the Board of Trade, speaking under the auspices of a National Commercial League in London, in October 1928, referred to the fact that something like £600,000,000 was spent yearly on intoxicants and gambling. He said:Let them get the expenditure to which he bad referred vastly reduced, if not obliterated, and they would bring hope where there was now despair, and over a term of years urge forward to a great material and moral prosperity.The right hon. Member and the Chancellor of the Exchequer united with other of their Parliamentary colleagues in cabling to comrades in New Zealand in 1928 the information:If we were in your position we should unhesitatingly cast our vote in favour of the total prohibition of the liquor traffic.No doubt this opportunity will be seized by these right hon. Gentlemen with enthusiasm. The hon. and gallant Member for Hull—
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) said in an article in "The Fortnightly Review":If the Liberals came out boldly for prohibition and no half measures about it they would rally an influential body of religious and social reforming opinion and would throw an apple of discord into the Labour party.That was in the days when he was a member of the Liberal party. It is to be hoped that the hon. and gallant Member will give practical evidence of his objection to-day to the influence of cider in all three parties. The late Lord Pontypridd, a distinguished politician, a leader of the Liberal party, in a speech which was made some years ago at a garden party said that if he had the power to give his party a slogan he would give them the cry of "Total prohibition of the Liquor Traffic, no local option, no half-way house," and Sir George Paish has said that if he had control of the money spent on the liquor traffic he would bring about such a change in our unemployment situation that practically there would be no unemployment within the next 12 months. That is a strong statement from a man of great authority 764 in these matters, and it certainly confirms the statements made by other similar authorities. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty is quoted on temperance posters as declaring:Alcoholic drink is the strong enemy of democracy and the staunch ally of reaction.The hon. Member may, therefore, be expected to support this afternoon this advance we are making against such a foe. The right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) has said:The case for prohibition is overwhelming in the interests of the children of the future and of humanity. It ought to become the law of the land.I hope he is going to support the Bill this afternoon. A strong representative of the liquor trade in Dundee, Mr. Charles Hay Marshall, Chairman of William Murray & Co., Ltd., Brewers of Edinburgh, gave evidence on behalf of the Whisky Association before the Royal Commission on Licensing, on the 20th November last, and he defended the trade on the triple score of helping to finance the Government, the expenditure on the purchase of material required for the production and distribution of liquor, and the payment of salaries and wages to those engaged in the licensed trade and its allies. He stated that the net receipts of Customs and Excise for the United Kingdom for the year ending the 31st March, 1929, amounted to £130,512,000, which he said was more than half the total Customs and Excise collected for the year. This vast sum, he said:was collected practically without any cost to the country. It was certainly the most cheaply collected of the country's revenue.In countering the argument regarding the indirect cost Mr. Hay Marshall submitted that the saving by the abolition of the police force and prison officials, of asylum officials, law officers and legal officials of every description would amount to £38,976,000, or not much more than one-fourth of the State revenue from alcoholic liquors. He left out entirely the greater aspect of the argument, and that is the almost incalculable estimate of the most costly collected revenue obtained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir Josiah Stamp when giving evidence before the Royal Commission in answer to the question as to whether it is a good bargain for the nation to spend £300,000,000 in this way, said: 765No, it is a very bad expenditure from an economic point of view. I am sure it is bad; but it could be directed in such a way that a large part of it would give very much greater gain. I am quite clear on that.Sir George Newman, of the Ministry of Health, when before the Commission said:The excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, whether excessive in dose or continuance, produces sooner or later certain definite results in the human body. There is a greater or less degree of physical and mental degeneration, usually beginning insidiously without the conscious knowledge of the person affected, and showing itself in modification of the functions and even of the structures of the body. There is liability to accident owing to diminution of the powers of control excited by the central nervous system on the nerves and muscles and the sense of equilibrium. There is increased liability to venereal disease.That is a disease on which it is very difficult to speak in public. The Commission also pointed out the indirect relationship between the effects of these poisons and this horrifying disease. Sir George Newman also referred to pneumonia and tuberculosis, and said:It is believed that there may be some impairment of the reproductive cells of the parent, and there arise various forms of social deliquency, such as decline in personal respect and conduct, and the neglect of home, children, etc., including suffocation of infants by overlaying. There is also definite disease leading not infrequently to premature death.Sir George Newman commented on the fact that death certificatesonly very imperfectly represent the actual sum total of mortality due directly or indirectly to alcohol.On the question of statistics I would refer to my Debate recently with the very notable author, Mr. G. K. Chesterton, who said:My objection to the statistics of convictions for drunkenness is that they never apply to anybody but the poor. The is not an honest, sensible, ordinary man who came to 40 years of age without having been drunk at some time or other. I have drunk and been drunk; I have known my friends, occupying admirable positions in society, who have been drunk. And the ordinary habit of the educated classes was that when a man was hopelessly drunk he was put into a cab and sent home. He did not become a statistic.You do not always get the facts stated so frankly by those who are identified with the other side.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Of course, when a man is in that state he is not particular as to whether he is a statistic or anything else. Let me now refer to the hon. Member for Reading (Dr. Hastings), who took part in a discussion in Manchester, in October last, under the auspices of the United Kingdom Alliance. He said:In the old days it was said that you have only to give people better conditions, better surroundings, better lives, and they will not succumb to drink. The facts are against that. It is not so. To-day we are sacrificing to drink, not the worst people of our nation, but some of the best. The Registrar-General arranges in some 154 classes those who die of alcoholism and associated diseases. As everyone would expect, those who come first are the publicans and brewers. But this is a serious thing, that among the first 30 of the 154 classes are the professions—doctors, solicitors, architects, bank managers, a great many journalists. All the professions are included except schoolmasters.He gave the Sons of Temperance death rate figures for 1921–25 as 10.2 per thousand men at the age of 55, against the general rate of 24.7. I have facts and figures here concerning patients admitted to Dalrymple House, Rickmansworth, a home for inebriates. Records have been kept of 1,645 patients, 629 of whom were admitted under the Inebriates Act and 1,016 as private patients. Persons of no occupation number 380, and the most numerous other groups were: Merchants 178, medical practitioners 130, military officers 91, clerks 88, manufacturers 82, farmers 79, solicitors 63, distillers and brewers 36, clerks in Holy Orders 35, Civil servants 35, Naval officers 14.
Dr. T. H. Craig Stevenson, late honorary secretary of the Royal Statistical Society and of the Registrar-General's office, states:Alcohol contributes to innumerable deaths for which it is not immediately and primarily responsible. Deaths from pneumonia and other instances could be multiplied indefinitely.Sir Frederick Moss, a distinguished neurologist, in addressing the annual Congress of the Royal Sanitary Institute, at Birmingham, said:Alcohol, like syphilis, is a rare poison and affects every organ and tissue of the body. Alcohol and syphilis work together in undermining the constitution. Alcohol plays an important part in the spread of venereal disease.The 59th report of the Lunacy Commissioners describes alcohol as a brain 767 poison. The Government book "Alcohol—Its Action on the Human Organisation," in referring to the direct effect of alcohol upon the nervous system, says that it is from first to last a narcotic drug. Sir James Crichton Browne, one of the trade's most eminent defenders, with whom I had also the honour of conducting a controversy years ago, has admitted:The misdeeds of alcohol are conspicuous enough. It is obviously responsible alone, or in combination with other malign agencies, for much poverty, misery and sorrow, for matrimonial wreckage and the neglect, starvation and ill usage of children, for dirt and disease of body and mind, for crime and disorder, for self-contempt and suicide.The late Lord Lansdowne said, on 30th June, 1924:Surely it is not too much to say that if this tremendous indictment of alcohol be sustained, we ought to make it our business to extirpate the evil, to give no quarter to the enemy, and at any cost to put an end to so pernicious an attack.Mr. Arnold Bennett, the novelist, said:I look among my acquaintances in various spheres, in business, literature, the stage, Bar, politics, and I see everywhere men whose lives are obviously clouded and their careers imperilled by continued indulgence in alcohol, and I would say further that the decent majority of people who drink anything at all would be far more interesting companions, more lovable helpmates, more efficient citizens, if they cut down their consumption by one half. The majority of them would gladly do this, but cannot of their own accord; they simply can't. Are the majority of drinkers slaves to alcohol in the sense that it controls them more than they can control it? They are.Mr. Hannan Swaffer has given similar testimony. Doctor Courtenay Weeks, having made careful inquiries about the temporary teetotalism of the drivers and conductors of public motor vehicles, got statistics of about 80 per cent. of the public vehicles on the road, and found that 95 per cent. of those public vehicles are driven by men who are compelled to be teetotallers, at any rate while at their work. Accidents on the road are not caused so much by these public vehicles as by private motor cars, and we all know how prolific is drink as the cause of such accidents. Marshalling here the facts against Dundee's defender of liquordom before the Commission, we have to remember the still further incalculable cost to the State in collecting such immoral revenue.
768 The hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor), writing in the "Daily Herald" on 23rd December last, advocated Parliament being asked for power to purchase goods on a sufficiently large scale to provide every family on Poor Law relief, or pensioners, and others who could prove necessity, with a regulated supply of clothing, boots, and coal in addition to the monetary assistance now received. The hon. Member then admitted:A labour Chancellor will have to be persuaded to depart from the conventional views of national expenditure.It is therefore most reasonable that I should urge a Labour Chancellor to depart from the conventional views as to drawing revenue from the ill-gotten gains of the liquor traffic which involve robbing poor people of every home comfort. The Chancellor himself has said that he would willingly forgo the income so received if he could escape from the national expenditure incurred by excessive drinking.
Speaking in the House on a former occasion when the Board of Trade reports were under discussion, I summarised the industrial employment statistics given in the census of production returns as contained in the "Board of Trade Journals" from 1927 to 5th January, 1928. The totals of 80 legitimate trades revealed employment of 5,418,677 workers on production of a net value of output amounting to £1,217,307,000, with an average net value of output per person employed of £235, and 4,262 persons employed per £1,000,000 value of output, whereas the brewing and malting trade return the net value of output at £121,812,000, and the number of persons employed as 67,069, giving a net average value of output per person employed of £1,844, and a number of workers, per £1,000,000 value of output, of only 550. Where brewing and malting employ 100 persons, the 80 trades enumerated for an equal expenditure employ 775 persons. Where the 80 trades enumerated employ 100 persons, brewing and malting, for equal expenditure, employ only 13 persons.
Yet here are some recent records, showing the great contrast between legitimate industries and this national wastage, known as the licensed liquor traffic. The "Economist" gave a list of nine brewery companies that had declared for 1929 net profits amounting in 769 all to £7,655,459, an increase on the preceding year of £578,884, as against the profits divided by nine coal, iron, steel and shipbuilding companies, amounting in all to only £92,916. These are the staple trades of the nation and six of the nine are paying no dividend at all, and yet they employ 5,690 persons per £1,000,000 commercial value of output, whereas the liquor companies employ only 550 persons per £1,000,000 commercial value of output. The Guinness profits alone run regularly from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 annually. Their latest net profit included in the aforementioned brewery companies was £2,500,000 and "Johnny Walker" was still running at £1,799,000 in 1925. Mr. A. G. Gardiner in the "Star" of 31st July, 1930, writes:Fortunes beyond the dreams of avarice and without any parallel in our history have been made out of beer in the darkest years of our industrial history. One illustration, based on the 'Brewery Manual' will suffice. Before the War, Watney Coombe Reid and Co's. deferred ordinary stock, nominally worth £796,000 was valued by the market at £44,000 or £5 10s. for each £100 of stock. To-day that £44,000 is valued at £9,875,000 plus £4,000,000 of dividends received in the interval. In other words the purchaser for £5 10s. of £100 of stock in 1913, to-day holds a security valued at £1,400, having in the interval received dividends to the amount of £520 on his original outlay of £5 10s. It is not surprising that the trade is not anxious to have such figures shouted from the housetops in the midst of an impoverished world.With such amazing results in the midst of all our industrial depression, I submit that we are in urgent need of protection—not the kind of Protection of which hon. Members opposite are always speaking, but some other plan of protection of our home market against this evil. Here you find your own home markets being deprived of the opportunity of doing business, and yet your own people are engaged in the very trade which is cheating home markets out of business. I submit that we should undoubtedly be protected against so appalling a national wastage.
Another outstanding proof of the incalculable loss the State suffers through the exaction of national revenue from the liquor traffic was demonstrated by Sir Thomas Middleton, K.C.B., a scientific expert who holds a high position in the Ministry of Agriculture. Revealing the measure of the loss of foodstuffs to the 770 nation by their sacrifice to drug production, he took as an example the produce of an acre of good land. The product of the land which, through the miller, will find a man in all essential food for 126 days will, through the brewer, only find him in that food for 10 days, and that 10 days may only prove to be five days in the end. All this relates to brewing. Distilling does not even leave this narrow margin of undestroyed foodstuffs. What is the acreage to which these factors apply? Sir Alfred Hall, K.C.B., another of the experts at the Ministry of Agriculture, has stated that the land devoted to beer and spirits in Great Britain amounts to 1,500,000 acres, and, as our wheat land yields 32 bushels per acre, at that rate, you should get a product of 48,000,000 bushels of wheat yearly from that land now given to the production of drug alcohol. Sir William Crookes, another Government expert upon agriculture, tells us that the nation needs, for food, six bushels of wheat per head of the population yearly, which means that the acreage given to brewing and distilling in Great Britain would grow Hour for 8,000,000 persons, whereas by its present application, the 1,000,000 acres given to brewing provides a so-called food for only 427,000 persons. The Leader of the Opposition has been promising an import duty on malting barley, in the expectation that more of our best acres will be called for by the brewers for drug production, and to feed only 1,000 persons instead of 18,735, and he is the statesman whose Ministry of Agriculture formulated the slogan:The land should yield its highest economic possibilities in the way of food for the nation.Then we had the Minister of Agriculture putting through the Land Drainage Bill last year involving an expenditure of £4,000,000 over 10 years in reclamation of land, while the 1,500,000 acres of our best land are so misused. That land now feeds 427,000 people, while the Ministry of Agriculture says it should feed 8,000,000. Employment was given in 1924 in brewing distilling, bottling and so forth in Great Britain to 91,078 workers. Distilling is of no importance as a provider of employment. The wholesale price received at the breweries for the beer, etc., made was £159,273,000, which included £75,826,000 beer duty, but the whole labour in brewing and dis- 771 tiling was employed in order to destroy valuable foodstuffs—in 1897 barley, 811,000 tons: corn 88,200; rice, etc., 41,200 tons; sugar 90,800 tons, and was therefore worse than wasted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself declared:The liquor traffic does not produce wealth. It destroys wealth in order to manufacture pauperism, crime, disease, lunacy, poverty and death. The country will be far better off if it kept in pensioned idleness all those who are employed in the liquor traffic. There is no need to do that, because were the liquor traffic removed there would be not less employment but more employment.Again the right hon. Gentleman says:Working men spend as much on drink in a week as they subscribe in a year to trade unionism and political purposes. They complain about the tyranny of the 'capitalist press,' and they spend as much on drink in a day as would capitalise three great daily newspapers. The working classes are their own worst enemies. If they used their powers and opportunities to the best advantage, no other power could avail against them. Drinking, on the other hand, is the greatest asset the capitalist has in maintaining his position of domination over labour.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I am glad to hear those cheers, and I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here. He would perhaps feel ready to buck up and get on with the business.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
In consequence of the marked disparity as regards employment provided by the liquor trade compared with legitimate industries, the wages bill also stands out in contrast. A Government return in 1891 showed that out of each £100 value produced, 55 per cent. was paid in wages in the mining industry, 29 per cent. in agriculture, 29.2 in cotton manufacture, 23.2 in iron and steel manufacture, and only 7.5 in brewing. Notwithstanding all the unscrupulous Press misrepresentations concerning Prohibition in America, I would quote the "National Liquor Dealers' Journal" of September 10th, 1913:To us there is the handwriting on the wall, and its interpretation spells doom. The liquor business is to blame. It seems incapable of learning any lesson of advancement or motive but profit. To perpetuate itself, it has formed alliances with the 772 slums … It deliberately aids the most corrupt political powers … There are billions of property involved … But when the people decide that the truth is being told about the liquor traffic, the money value will not count.As for the repeated assertion that the lawlessness prevalent in America is due to Prohibition, Senator William E. Borah wrote in "Collier's National Weekly," of 8th June, 1929:Long before the 18th Amendment was adopted, the late Chief Justice Taft said: 'I grieve for my country to say that the administration of the criminal law in all States of the Union—there may be one or two exceptions—is a disgrace to our civilisation.Senator Borah, continuing, added:Long before the adoption of the 18th Amendment there were 12 murders in the City of New York to one in London. There were 20 robberies in Chicago for one robbery in all England and Wales combined.The "Dundee Advertiser's" special correspondent investigating Prohibition effects in America—
§ Mr. HANNON
On a point of Order. May I ask whether continuous reading of prolonged quotations from newspapers and other sources is not equivalent to the reading of a speech in this House? Cannot the hon. Member make a speech and not waste the time of the House?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
On a point of Order. Is it not quite customary in this House for right hon. Members on the Front Opposition and Government Benches to read copious quotations; and, further, is it not a fact that the House is listening with very great interest to the speech of the hon. Member?
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I do not think it comes with very good grace from any hon. Member opposite to complain, particularly in view of the fact which we all know, that Ministers of State stand at the box and read, read, read, and much of it is all prepared for them too!
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I have a special reason for giving this particular quotation. The "Dundee Advertiser's" special corespondent investigating Prohibition effects in America reported his interview with Judge Kavanagh, who declared:The passing of the Volstead Act had nothing to do with the increase in what is termed 'big crime,' and the Judge was most emphatic that Prohibition had resulted in a very large decrease in crime. Lesser crimes had fallen away to a very great extent, and the increase in the 'big crime' such as murders and armed hold-ups was due to other causes. His experience, spread almost over a quarter of a century on the Bench, is that the big criminal of to-day is not a man who takes strong drink. The men who perpetuate the 'big crime' in the United States to-day are clever, alert criminals who require all their senses and have no use in their gangs for men inclined to gargle'.The same special correspondent also says:I am convinced from what I have seen that Prohibition has been a good thing for the United States. It has been good for the children, for the women, and for the men. It has been a good thing for industry, in that output has been increased and that workmen can earn higher wages … It has had a marked effect on the improved conditions of living and on the health of the teeming millions of workers. The man who says that Prohibition has been a bad thing for America is prejudiced.I might say that I asked the Leader of the Liberal Opposition the other night to see whether he would not come along to-day, in view of his remarkable declaration that we were at one time fighting three great enemies, namely, Germany, Austria, and drink, and that the greatest of the three was drink. He said he was to be seeing the Bill, and I suppose he is looking into it now.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Yes. So much for a great statesman. As for the question of American national revenue, a comparative study was made of the assessed valuation of 48 properties on Broadway, New York City, which in 1916 housed saloons, but which were discontinued. The increase in valuation between 1916 and 1923 was sufficient that a tax of only one per cent. on the increase alone would supply about five times the State and local revenue paid by the former saloons. In 774 1924 motor vehicle taxes alone amounted to nearly one-and-a-half times the maximum ever received from liquor, national, State, and local revenues combined, except in the war fiscal years 1918 and 1919. Experience under Prohibition has proven the soundness of Gladstone's famous statement: "Give me a sober nation, and I will find the revenue." In an analysis of the report of the United States Comptroller of the Currency, W. Copy Albig, deputy manager of the American Bankers Association, savings bank division, says:The year ended June 30th, 1928, registered over the previous year the largest gains in savings deposits in banks and trust companies of Continental United States ever recorded in the history of this country.I want to say now that it is a case of thoroughly serious conviction with me. I would probably never have been in this House had I not been led along by this line by a beloved Father concerning the results of the trade, about which He knew so much, and of which we have evidence in connection with the Dundee Prison Aid Society. What happened during the War? Did we not have the business interests of this country coming together and describing themselves as the "Strength of Britain" movement—a fine title—and saying that this thing was a national wastage? The whole of their case was concentrated exclusively upon the materialistic aspect, though they were supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they pointed out how the liquor trade was utilising the space on our ships and in our trucks, in road transit and in rail transit. They concentrated, as I say, exclusively on the material aspect, and what did they put before the country? They put this in particular: They said, "We do not want any temperance legislation." I especially like that, and I commend it to the temperance people of our country. It did not take long for the business men of this country to determine, what Royal Commissions have sat and are still sitting to adjudicate upon; and the result of their adjudications will be practically nil so far as drinking is concerned.
The business men of the country decided the thing straight away. They knew the thing and they said, in confirmation of what the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) said at an earlier stage, "Some of us are 775 not even teetotallers." All the better for my case. We want this thing stopped entirely—now. Who in this House can smile and sneer at me for putting into a Bill that which the business men put on the posters all over the country, not because of any moral case beyond what was declared as "The War for holiness"—and anyone who likes can believe that; very few do now—but they said that this thing must stop—no half measures. There were the posters; the huge advertisements in all our papers. One man who welcomed my arrival here in 1922 said he put as much as four figures into the business. I have been asking him since why he has not been putting it in now. He replied, "Because we want something bigger; there is no money in this today." The business forces to-day are crying for economy. There is not a man entering into the ring now for this. "Oh," it is said, "that was for the period of the War." There is nothing now about the breaking of the marriage ties, or broken hearts, or the agonising of men, women and children. It was sheer, blind materialism, and the whole of our churches rose to the occasion, including the Wesleyan Methodist body, of which I happen to be a member, which years ago passed a resolution for total prohibition. But the church, as well as political parties, goes in for window-dressing. All the churches stood for business men, because the business men had the money. You cannot serve both God and Mammon. No wonder we are in the throes of misery, when we play fast-and-loose with Almighty God.
I ask hon. Members to keep a House to-day. I know many are not coming with us—I do not mind. Every man and woman, of course, is entitled to his or her opinion, but I ask hon. Members to keep the House to-day. Do not cheat those whom you represent and who are offering prayers in this country, this very hour that some further step shall be made in advance. Believe me, a voice is speaking to you. As a practical man, I say, "Why are we still producing these results?" I have found it out. 12 n. It is the national policy of licence for manufacture and supply, the revenue from which goes into the Exchequer. I am asking the House to give us a chance to-day, and to let us have a Division. I want to know those 776 who are going with us. I ask you to give the largest possible vote, even on the other side. Let them have it, but give me a Division. Do not let the House be counted out. Do not cheat me out of that. I ask for the chance to get any additional men and women to go with us. What we are striving for, what we are aiming at, is the consolidation of those forces which, for nearly a century, have endeavoured in this country to bring about the one thing needful which we are putting in the Bill to-day. We are going forward in the strength of the Lord, and we leave with Him the result.To banish want and pale-faced care,To wipe the tear from misery's eye;Is such a bliss Os angels share,And tell with joy beyond the sky.
§ 12 n.
§ Mr. BARR
I beg to second the Motion.
As the Seconder my first duty, I think, should be to congratulate the Mover on the heartfelt and moving speech he has made. I should like to congratulate him, and to recognise the singleness of purpose, the devotion, the energy and, shall I add, the courage with which, for many years, he has propagated his cause. It does need some courage to stand forth to defend a Bill like this, for if we are to accept the press of this country in many of its quarters, we should believe that Prohibition in America, and in other large countries where it has been attempted, has proved a deadly failure, and is about to be repealed. In the Autumn I saw a headline in our own public press:The 'Wets' marching to victory in the United States Elections. A big blow to Mr. Hoover and to prohibition.When the mist of that election had passed, and the real figures came, we found that the "Dry" forces did not lose a single seat in the Senate. They had lost, indeed, nine seats in the House of Representatives, leaving 135 supporters for the "wets" and still over 300 "drys," that is, four to one in the Senate, and more than two to one in the House of Representatives—a larger proportion of support for the "dry" law than they had in December, 1917, when they submitted the Prohibition Amendment for ratification. We were not surprised a few days after when we found the "Times" and other leading papers declaring frankly that it was evident the repeal of Prohibition was a 777 long way off, and that gave point to the wet "Citizen" of Ohio which last summer declaredProhibition can he defeated everywhere except at the polls.The first act of the newly elected Senate and House of Representatives was to secure an appropriation of 543,000 dollars in order to add 130 prohibition agents for the enforcement of the prohibitory laws. On the 7th January last there came the report of the Wickersham Committee which was composed of men who had leanings, judging from their own declarations, towards the "wet" side. In that report they gave a long statement—and it is right that we should recognise it—of the numerous evasions of the law, especially in the Eastern States, and the grave abuses that obtained in administration. Their report, however, is directed towards a new and stricter enforcement of the prohibitory law. I will indicate four main propositions which the report puts in the forefront. The first point which the Committee make is that they are opposed to the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. They say that to repeal it would be a backward step and would fail to conserve the admitted and significant benefits that had been evident under the prohibitory law, and that it would land the country in greater difficulties than those from Which they were seeking to escape. The second proposition is that the Committee are opposed to the restoration in any manner of the legalised saloon. They say:The licensed liquor traffic and open saloon were abolished, and few desire their return.They put their second main proposal in this way:Hence the first desideratum in any constructive plan is to keep closed the saloon and its substantial equivalents. Public opinion, almost if not quite everywhere, would sustain keeping the saloon closed as a permanent achievement for good order, good working conditions, good morals and improved domestic life.The Chairman of the Commission said that substantially all the bitterest opponents of Prohibition declared that the licensed saloon of the past must never again be restored. The third declaration is that the Commission are opposed to the Federal or State Governments, as 778 such, going into the liquor business. They say:No modification should be permitted which would allow either the State or Federal Governments, as such, to go into the business of making or selling liquor in any form.The fourth of these main propositions is that they are opposed to any modification of the Prohibition Act which would allow of liquor being manufactured and sold, and beer particularly being sold which had not more than 2.75 per cent., by volume, of alcohol, instead of one-half of one per cent. which is allowed by the Volstead Act. They say that this was put before them strongly by the American Federation of Labour and other organisations, and was presented to them with great ability. The reason that they declared against what might, they say, well be argued to be a non-intoxicant beer, is that they fear that it would lead to the opening again of beer saloons and a loss of the benefits which have been obtained by national Prohibition. They define these benefits, social and industrial, in these words:Increased production, increased efficiency of labour, elimination of 'blue Mondays', decrease in industrial accidents, increase in savings, and decrease in demands upon charities and social agencies.This report of the Commission was borne out by two books issued, the one in 1926 and the other in 1928, by Professor Irving Fisher, who is perhaps one of the greatest authorities on statistics in the United States. He is professor of Economics in Yale University. One book is called, "Prohibition at its Worst," and the other, "Prohibition still at its Worst." He makes elaborate calculations on the figures supplied by those interested in the liquor business, and he comes to the conclusion—which is significant—that the total consumption of liquor as compared with the "wet" days is at most only 16 per cent. of what it was, but, he thinks, not more than 10 per cent.
§ Mr. BARR
Of what is was before Prohibition came. I cannot give the exact year before 1920, but he takes a series of years, and he reaches that conclusion. His other conclusion is more important. He holds that there has been an economic benefit to the extent of 10 per cent.—5 per cent., he said, in respect 779 of effort not being put on wasteful objects, and another 5 per cent. in the increased productivity of labour.
I wish to speak to-day on this subject largely from the labour aspect, and to refer first to the attitude of organised labour in the United States of America. They had a preparation for the coming of Prohibition in respect of the attitude to be taken up by the trade unions. A large number of the trade unions in America have laws of their own, in which they deny benefit, and membership even, to those who either indulge in excess or to those or their wives who take part in the sale of liquor. In some cases a union will go so far as to lay a prohibition upon themselves and upon all members. In the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers the use of intoxicating liquor, either on or off duty, is prohibited. I want to be perfectly frank as to the attitude of the American Federation of Labour for many years. Their attitude has not been one of support for the Volstead Act. It has been one of general support to the movement for the sale of light wines and beer of not more than 2.75 per cent. content of alcohol. This was reasserted at a great conference of the American Federation of Labour in October at Boston last year. I wish to emphasise that this is not in opposition to the general prohibitory law. This was their declaration at Boston:The executive council wishes to state clearly that it is in no way demanding the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. We stated in our declaration in 1923, which declaration was endorsed by the delegates in the convention by a practically unanimous vote, that 'it is our contention that the Eighteenth Amendment under a reasonable and proper legislative interpretation would be beneficial to our country and would have the support of the great majority of our people.' We are of the firm opinion that the Volstead Act may be amended without violating the provisions of the Eighteenth Amendment.I wish to give a few testimonies from some of the most prominent Labour leaders in the United States of America. For a long time the name of the late Samuel Gompers was always quoted as one who was against prohibitory law. He was said to be allied with the "wet" forces in the United States. He was a strong supporter of the 780 policy of the American Federation of Labour, to which I have referred. He was a typical man, much quoted in this country, but on whisky prohibition he spoke with no uncertain sound. I give you this quotation from the late Samuel Gompers:No-one with whom I am acquainted, or whom I know, will defend whisky drinking—the drinking of spirituous liquors; and whether that was secured by legislation or by constitutional amendment, or whether it has been brought about by a better self-control of the people, is immaterial, the fact is, that there is scarcely a division of opinion that the elimination of spirituous liquors from our lives in America has been a wise and a practical contribution to a better life.I could reinforce that by the strong testimony of John B. Lennon, a former treasurer of the American Federation of Labour.To the trade unionist there is no redeeming feature in the saloon. The purpose of the trade union is to raise the standard of living. What about the saloon? Is there a man who will dare to say there is any influence of the saloon except to lower this standard and make men less manly and women less womanly? I do not know a solitary principle for which the Labour movement stands but that the saloon is on the other side of the question.I will quote next the leader of one of the greatest trade union associations, the former President of the United Mine Workers of America, Mr. Thomas L. Lewis:If you want to know where the miners of America stand upon the temperance question, I'll tell you. In our constitution we have a Clause which forbids any member to sell intoxicants, even at a picnic. That's what we think of the liquor traffic. Some people say the saloon is a necessary evil. I don't believe in that kind of doctrine. Because the liquor traffic tends to enslave the people, to make them satisfied with improper conditions, and keeps them ignorant, the leaders of the trade unions are called on to fight the saloon.My next quotation is from a member of another large organisation, one of the largest, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. John S. Cooper, a Congressman of Ohio, a member of the brotherhood, said:We men in the railroad game know that the Eighteenth Amendment has been the greatest blessing we ever received; we know that we are better off morally, financially, intellectually and in every other way by the outlawing of the booze business.I might have quoted, it would have been more to my point, from Labour leaders 781 who were opposed to the bringing in of Prohibition, but have come right over to the other side when they saw the effects of Prohibition. I will quote only one of them, though I will mention one or two:
Otto R. Harwig, former President of the Oregon State Federation of Labour, J. F. Grier, former President of the Louisiana State Federation of Labour, and Louis Nash, Labour leader in Seattle. The last-named tells us he was changed from his former opinion by seeing the difference between Seattle drunk and Seattle sober.For 30 years I fought Prohibition on the stump and through the Press as relentlessly as my ability would permit, solely from the personal liberty standpoint. My views on the subject changed as the result of witnessing the wonderful contrast between a city drunk and a city sober … In my opinion the Labour movement will progress a thousandfold faster without booze than with it.I will close this series of quotations by one from a leading Labour paper in the United States.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
Is there any city in this country which the hon. Member would refer to as a city drunk?
§ Mr. BARR
In response to the interjection, I will turn aside to say that I recognise the wonderful change and advance there has been, but there is no reason for us to stand still. I recognise the point made by the hon. and gallant Member. I was about to quote from a Labour newspaper on the 1st of January, 1927, the Union Labour Advocate of Chicago:—As a whole the labouring people in general have been more than satisfied with the adoption of the Volstead law. No single class of our people has benefited more than the labouring people.To this policy there are three main objections. The first objection is taken on the ground of personal liberty. To us 782 who believe in a new and better social order on the lines of ordered freedom I do not know that that argument has very great weight. Every social advance in this country has been resisted in the name of personal freedom, but only to bring out more clearly that private right must bow before the common weal. Even the liquor people themselves, in America and elsewhere, recognise this. I will quote from the "American Brewers Review" in 1919, just on the eve of Prohibition coming in:The so-called personal liberty argument on behalf of alcoholic drink loses more and more of its force. Consideration of the public welfare continues to grow and overshadow the rights of the individual. The drink question must be fought out upon the ultimate foundation of morals, hygiene and social order—in other words the public welfare. If the public welfare requires the suppression of the alcoholic drink traffic it should be suppressed.I ask hon. Members to go back in memory as far as 1893, when the Direct Veto Bill was before the House, and when a manifesto was signed by all who then spoke for Labour in this House and by hundreds of trade union officials. They said then, and it is true to-day:The opponents of the Veto Bill profess to be intensely interested in the protection of the liberties of the working classes. It is a fraudulent profession. The liberty which most of them really desire to maintain is the liberty of privileged monopolists to exploit the working classes and to draw or suck from them their money by subtle and indirect means.In 1907, in connection with a similar Bill, 21 Labour members in this House declared:The establishment of public control over the liquor traffic is an extension and not a curtailment of the people's liberty.Another argument to which my hon. Friend referred, but which I will take the liberty of mentioning again, refers to the national income from the liquor traffic—£130,000,000 a year. He touched on the answer given by Mr. Gladstone when approached in regard to the revenue in connection with some temperance reform.Gentlemen, give yourselves no concern about the revenue. Questions of revenue must never stand in the way of needful reforms. Besides, with a sober population not wasting their earnings, I shall soon know where to find my revenue.In case anyone thinks that I am quoting from one side only, I will quote from another great Chancellor, Lord Iddes- 783 leigh, who was Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1874. In that year, Lord Iddesleigh, when he was submitting the budget for the year, or speaking at a later date, said:If a diminution of revenue is due to a material and considerable change in the habits of the people and to increasing abstinence from ardent spirits, hen I venture to say the amount of wealth such a change would bring to the nation would utterly throw into the shade the amount meantime derived from the Spirit Duty.Lord Iddesleigh further stated:And we should not only see with satisfaction a diminution of revenue from such a cause, but we would learn that the State would not suffer from any sacrifices it might incur in this direction.In the celebrated Kansas Case, the National Supreme Court of the United States of America laid it down:If the States in the progress of temperance reform should suffer loss of revenue they would yet be the gainer a thousand fold in the health, wealth and happiness of the people.Another objection raised to Prohibition is that it would mean depriving of employment a vast number of people in this country, such as saloon keepers, barmen, barmaids, and a large number of people who are engaged in the manufacture and sale of liquor. I might have contented myself with the reply of Dr. Charles Stelzle, who said, in reply to a statement that a million men would lose their jobs if saloons were closed in America:More men lose their jobs because saloons are open than will lose their jobs when saloons are closed. Better that the bar tender should lose his job, and get a better one than that dozens of his customers should lose their job, and become unfitted for any other job.There was a census of production in 1912 from which we gather that the capital invested in fruit and confectionery concerns was £54,970,000, finding employment for 170,903 persons, as against £58,926,000 invested in liquor production employing 91,732 persons. In the third census of production in 1924 the Board of Trade returns give the figures for 80 trades, and they show that 4,262 persons are employed per £1,000,000 value of output, while in the brewing and malting trade, taking the same value, only 542 persons are employed. Therefore while a certain sum of money invested in those 80 trades would give employment to a thousand persons, if the same amount 784 were invested in the brewing and malting trade it would only find employment for 127. If this Bill should be passed, if and when the vast sums spent on liquor are withdrawn and put to industrial purposes, they will make a demand for goods which will call for labour far out of proportion to the number who may be displaced by the cessation of the liquor traffic. I have quoted largely from the United States of America, and I would like to call to my aid now one of the greatest Socialists—I should call him the greatest Socialist—on the Continent, Emile Vandervelde, who in October, 1919, in passing a Measure prohibiting the on-sale of spirituous liquors, said:Frankly I see no reason for waiting for the morrow of the social revolution before we stop poisoning ourselves. We should prohibit the manufacture of alcohol for the mouth, and turn the power of darkness into the power of light by making distilleries producers of industrial alcohol.At an International Congress in Europe against aleoholism—I think it was in 1920—the same authority said:I have unlimited faith in the future of the workers. I am unshakeably convinced that the domination of the world is to belong to them, head-workers and hand-workers. But it is just for that very reason that I attach such infinite importance to the war against alcohol. They who aspired to rule the world must first of all show that they control themselves.There is possibly one point of difference between the mover of the Second Reading and myself. I am one of those who believe that we shall attain our end as they did in America by doing what we are doing—I admit it is being done in a very imperfect way—by appealing to local areas. We have very limited powers and there are very imperfect provisions under the Temperance (Scotland) Act of 1913. No licence districts have been formed in industrial areas such as Kirkintilloch, Kilsyth, Stewarton, Wick, Lerwich and other places. In four typical years before No-Licence in Lerwick there was an average of 187 Police Court cases per annum; for the last four years, 1926–1929, there was an average of 26 cases. In all the parishes of Shetland 65 per cent. of the people voted no licence. It was the duty of the Chief Constable of Shetland to make his Annual Report after the first complete year of No-Licence. He was set to make a Report with no materials—only a few cases, and only two or three of them in any way 785 connected with drinking. He did two things. He said:There has been a complete collapse of crime in Shetland.He also said:I was opposed to the Temperance (Scotland) Act and its application to Shetland. You can understand that I have now changed my mind.In taking this stand to-day I feel that I am following in the steps of those who laid the very foundation of the Labour movement in this country and especially in Scotland. That is what was written by the late Mr. Keir Hardie, who was throughout his life, a prominent and most consistent supporter of the cause which we are advocating. Mr. Keir Hardie edited a paper called the "Miner" and in his first article in that journal in 1887 he wrote:The agitation for the suppression of the liquor traffic and the nationalisation of the land will have our heartiest support.In his election address to the people of Mid-Lanark in 1888, Mr. Keir Hardie declared for the direct veto of the liquor traffic, and explained that he was claiming for the community the right to declare the liquor traffic a public nuisance and as such to be voted out of existence.
When the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party was formed, James Keir Hardie was asked to draw up its programme, and, as Item No. 10, he set down the direct veto of the liquor traffic. When, however, the first conference of the Scottish Labour Party met, he and others thought that they had not gone far enough, and so they introduced a clause, on the 25th August, 1888, in the very foundations of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party, calling for the total abolition of the liquor traffic. It is in keeping with these facts that the Independent Labour Party in Scotland—the Scottish Divisional Council—for twelve years, without faltering and with increasing insistence, has called for the total abolition of the Labour party—[Laughter]—the liquor traffic. I think that, after all, my little mistake is not so far from the truth. There is a movement in the Independent Labour Party for the abolition of the Labour party, and I am not sure whether it is not reciprocal on this side of the House in some respects. I want to say, however, that in this matter I am in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. 786 Maxton), whose name is on the back of this Bill. I will only quote two of the resolutions which have been passed by the Scottish Divisional Council. In 1923, they passed this resolution:This conference of the Scottish Divisional Council of the Independent Labour Party declares its antagonism to the liquor traffic as an insidious factor in social degradation, and reaffirms its belief in its total prohibition.Again, at the Dundee Annual Conference in 1927, the following resolution was carried, with only 14 dissentients:That the Conference reaffirms its belief in the total prohibition of the liquor traffic, and calls upon all I.L.P. Members of Parliament to press for a plebiscite of the country on the question.One word more as to my own position. There is no more convinced Socialist on these benches than am I. I believe in the socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. But, while I stand for the socialisation of public utilities, I am opposed to the socialisation of public perils and the socialisation of public iniquities. I say this, that, no matter how perfect be the social commonwealth or the social system that you put up, if you leave this dark river of death flowing through the land, it will corrupt the best social State that ever entered into the dreams of man. It will poison its communal life at its source: it will besmirch our noblest ideals; it will turn our rising sun into darkness, and it will eclipse for us our new millenial dawn. But, with the liquor traffic removed, we shall rear a generation ready to step in and possess the promised land—children of the new day, "with light of knowledge in their eyes," a loftier race, a virtuous populace that will rise the while and stand guardian over our new social commonwealth, keeping it pure and unsullied and handing it down ennobled and enhanced to those who shall come after them.
§ Sir WILLIAM WAYLAND
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."
Probably never within recent times has this House had presented to it a Bill so crude, so vindictive, and so unfair as the Bill which is being debated to-day. It seems hardly possible to treat it seriously. It begins:Whereas the inherent evils arising from the production, importation and sale of 787 alcoholic liquors as beverages are intolerable.That is the opinion of the promoters of the Bill; it is not the opinion of the great majority of people in this country—
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
It goes on—And whereas the traffic in those liquors is opposed to the best interests of the nation.That has not been proved—[Interruption.] There again the consensus of opinion is against the promoters of this Bill. [Interruption.] But, with the Christian spirit—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We have had two long speeches in introducing this Bill which were listened to in perfect silence. I hope that the opposition to the Bill, similarly, will be heard without interruption.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
The Bill goes on to say, in Clause 1:From and after the fifth day of April immediately succeeding the passing of this Act it shall not be lawful to grant any new licence for the manufacture or sale of alcoholic or other excisable liquors.There is no mention of compensation here, no touch of generosity, no thought of the wine merchant who will have to shut up his business on the 5th April next year, with ruin staring him and his family in the face. Is that the Christian spirit of which the hon. Member boasts? Then, again, every licensed victualler will have to close his premises. There is no compensation for him, there is no compensation for the men who will be thrown out of work, there is no compensation for all the brewers' employés, there is no compensation for the hundreds of thousands of investors—I am not one—who have invested their money in a legitimate trade. The wording of the Bill would lead one to suppose that fanaticism has dominated its promoters and shut out any thought of fairness from their hearts.
Then we come to something which is rather funny. The Bill lays it down that under certain conditions alcoholic liquors can be sold by a chemist. But, whatever alcoholic liquor is placed in a bottle, 788 that bottle must bear the label "Poison." [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Fancy a bottle of old crusted port with a label "Poison" on it, or a bottle of old liqueur brandy with the word "Poison" on it, or a bottle of good old English beer with the word "Poison" on it. It is an insult. It is too funny for words. I suggest that something has been left out. The promoters do not add that the said liquor shall be placed in green or blue bottles.
Then we come to the penalty Clause, Clause 4, and here again the hon. Member shows his Christian charity. The Clause provides that anyone contravening the Act shall, for the first offence, be liable to a fine of not less than £25, or, in default, shall suffer imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and not exceeding six months, while upon a second conviction the penalty is to be imprisonment with hard labour. No contented with that, for a third or any subsequent conviction the penalty-shall be that which is generally meted out to forgers or men who have committed a most serious crime, namely, imprisonment with penal servitude for a term not less than one year and not exceeding five years. In addition to the foregoing penalty ail goods, plant, etc. shall be confiscated.
I think I have proved my case of vindictiveness and crudeness in this most ridiculous and extremely unpopular Bill. One would imagine that we were in the same position in regard to drink as 40 or 50 years ago. The Mover mentioned the name of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, a name which is very much honoured, but he did not mention that when Mr. Chamberlain gave expression to those views it was about 50 years ago. I admit that the alcohol that was consumed then was excessive. There was a considerable amount of drunkenness, and it would perhaps have been true to say that we were then a drunken country up to a point, but it is entirely different to-day. The seconder has admitted that there has been a very great improvement. The figures of convictions for drunkenness in 1914 were 183,838, in 1922 they were 76,347, in 1925, 75,077, in 1926, 67,126, in 1928, 55,642 and in 1929 they dropped to 51,966. That proves that there has been a gradual reduction in the number of convictions, but not because of any legislation passed in this House. I do 789 not believe that has altered by one iota the amount of drink consumed. The reason why less alcoholic drink is consumed is the alteration in the habits of the people. Thirty years ago there were no cinemas. To-day there is a cinema in every small town. Before then the only place of meeting worst the public-house, and that is perhaps the reason why an excessive amount of drink was consumed. To-day our younger generation are growing up temperate, and I am confident that year by year those figures will be found to be less and less convictions for drunkenness and, in comparatively a few years' time, the arguments which have been adduced to-day will have no material facts behind him.
Has crime increased during the last 20 years owing to drink? Decidedly not. We are shutting up our prisons owing to the lessened number of convictions. Have diseases due to drinking increased? I hope that those who are better able to deal with that subject will speak at length upon it. I would only quote Lord Dawson, who within the last few years has stated that, in his opinion, the moderate consumption of beer, wine and spirits tended to improve and not to injure the health of the individual. Lord Dawson is physician to His Majesty and is recognised as one of the leading physicians in the world. The late Sir Henry Thompson held the same views. He was considered a very great physician and he said it was his opinion that more people died over the age of 40 through over-eating than through over-drinking, and I think that is true.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
We will talk about beating afterwards. I am speaking now about health. If you cast your looks among your friends, study the health statistics and read the accounts that are officially issued of the diseases that cause death, you will not find anything like the number of diseases to-day causing death by over-drinking of alcohol that we know was the case many years ago. Most people to-day over 40, as Sir Henry Thompson stated over-eat, causing a certain condition in their bodies which proves more fatal to their health than the consumption of drink.
790 Reference has been made to the state of our streets, and I, having passed many years of my life in an industrial area of London, can bear witness to that. When I first went there, I used to tumble over drunken men when I left the works on Friday and Saturday night. I can say with truth that I have not seen a drunken man there for two or three years. I have made that remark to a member of the police, and he said he had been there a number of years and the change had been remarkable. That goes to prove the sober habits of the people of to-day. Forty years ago the consumption of beer was excessive. We stand to-day in Europe probably in the same position as we did then. Germany led the way, as she does to-day, in the consumption of beer, Belgium followed and England was third and is third to-day. At that time in Germany they consumed 42 gallons of beer per head of the population per annum, in Belgium from 38 to 39 gallons, and in this country 36 gallons. I do not know what the figure is in Germany to-day, but I know that it has fallen considerably in Belgium, and in this country it has fallen by more than half. It would appear, as beer is the common drink of the working men, that the working-class in Great Britain to-day are far more sober than they were 50 years ago.
I come to prohibition in the United States. Before the war my business carried me to the United States very frequently and the first visit which I paid was nearly 40 years ago. The conditions in New York at that time were very different from what they were in 1914. I admit that I have passed many hours in the saloons in New York, and at that time I had an intimate knowledge of restaurants, saloons, and the general drinking habits of the American people. It was the custom when you called upon a man of business at the lunch hour for him to ask you to go to the saloon. If he happened to be there with some friends, those friends at once joined up, and, instead of having one cocktail, you probably were induced to have more. That was the curse of the American system of drinking.
What I observed particularly in the homes of my friends in the United States was the entire absence of wine, spirits or beer on the dinner table. The usual practice was that a man would ask you 791 to dinner, and he would arrange to meet you in his club. He would there have, perhaps, a drink, or two drinks. He would take you home, but there would only be water on the table. Cast your minds back, those of you who visited the United States before the war, and dined at the hotels, and you will remember that in those dining rooms very little wine or beer or alcoholic liquor was consumed. There was one thing you would have been bound to notice, and that was the practically entire absence of drinking by women, whether it was the working-class or any class in America. Prohibition has altered all that. To-day, instead of the women of America being abstainers, they are non-abstainers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which women?"]. It is one of the curses of Prohibition in America.
I will tell you another thing. The Mover and Seconder of the Bill built their arguments upon certain expressions of opinion by prominent men in the United States, but they left out the fact, known to all who have any knowledge of the States at the present time, that, although the large wine makers in California had to shut down owing to the Prohibition Act, more grapes are being grown in the United States to-day than were grown in 1914. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]. Wait a minute. I am coming to my argument. Those grapes are not consumed as grapes, but as home-made wine.
§ Dr. SALTER
Is not the hon. Member aware that the export of grapes from the United States has nearly trebled during the last few years?
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I do not doubt that. I am only showing that the consumption in the United States has increased and that the increase is due to the fact that enormous quantities of wine are made in the homes of America at the present time. In addition, there is an enormous sale in the United States of a substance made up of certain constituents, and all that they have to do is to add water to it at a definite temperature. They buy at the grocery store a yeast tablet and they add it to this stuff, which is, I believe, largely composed of malt extract and hops—and brew beer themselves at home in enormous 792 quantities. That may be good or bad, but I want to prove that although you have Prohibition in the United States, the people are drinking in the aggregate, under very bad conditions, more than they drank before. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!" and "Rubbish!"] I am not going to read more than is necessary because time is getting on, but these are all official figures.
§ "TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF PROHIBITION IN THE U.S.A.
§ "The tenth birthday of Prohibition was celebrated in the United States to-day (January 16) by the publication of statistics disclosing that this 'noble experiment' has cost the Federal Government alone:
§ "£600,000,000 loss in revenue.
§ "£18,000,000 for measures of enforcement.
§ "200 persons at least killed in 'law enforcement.'
§ "At least 500 slain in gang wars and causes directly attributable to illicit liquor.
§ "Over 550,000 persons arrested for violating the 'dry' law.
§ "230,000 citizens sent to Federal prisons."
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
This information was obtained from United States Government figures. I quote this from the "Daily Telegraph" of 19th January.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I go on to quote the opinion of Mr. J. M. Beck, a Republican representative of Pennsylvania, who throughout the Harding Administration was Solicitor-General of the United States. Mr. Beck is a "moderate dry" and a constitutional lawyer of the highest standing. He said:To many this plenary exposition may have seemed as enigmatic as the Delphic Oracle. But if the Prohibition leaders had caught its full significance they would have rent their clothes and sat themselves down in sackcloth and ashes. … The time-honoured traditions of the English-speaking peoples constitute a damning indictment of the 18th Amendment. That amendment marred the symmetry of the constitutional structure. It was an illegitimate amendment, because it was of doubtful parentage and alien in blood to the traditions of the American people.Sir Hugh Turnbull, Commander of Police for the City of London, who visited the United States in order to study crime and police methods said: 793One great trouble in the United States, giving rise to many crimes of violence, is the situation caused by prohibition. At any rate, much of the time of the police in the east of America—I did not have time to visit the west—is taken up in dealing with breaches of this law or crimes arising from it.It has been stated that owing to prohibition the savings of the United States have greatly increased. Here is a letter which has been published, giving official figures:From your report of the Rev. Mr. Toomay's speech yesterday on American prohibition, it appears that he claimed that savings in banks had risen 400 per cent. since its introduction. It is a pity that such misleading statements should go unchallenged. I happen to have the official figures for the annual increase in savings after allowing for interest on the gross amount of savings in each preceding year. They tell a very different story. In 1917 savings increased by 970 million dollars, while in 1928 the increase only amounted to 830 million dollars, and in 1927 it was as low as 297 million dollars.We have also the statement of an American bishop, Bishop W. A. Morland of Sacramento, California, who took part in the Lambeth Conference in London, has been staying in Belgium with the well-known Socialist Senator, Mr. Francois before returning to the United States. The Bishop advocates the reform of Prohibition:Prohibition," he said, "has created a new set of evils. The profit to be gained from the unlawful sale of liquor has created another type of criminal. They are men with large offices, and agents in every big city, earning more money than the Government itself, like spiders spreading their webs all over the country, with police, guards and magistrates in their pay. The safety of the Government itself is menaced. Such a bad example has been set that people think the law need no longer be obeyed. Other gangs have sprung up, such as the 'racketeers,' who have representatives in every trade.I have any number of quotations from public men in America, but I do not want to bore the House with them. What I say to hon. Members opposite is this: If you are going to base your demand for prohibition on the experience of the United States you are never going to build upon a more rotten foundation. Prohibition in the United States, just as it has been in Finland, is not merely a tragic failure, but, it is more than that because it has demoralised and lowered the moral tone of the American nation.
794 In regard to Finland what is the position?During last year 23,000 persons were sentenced for drunkenness in Helsingfors, that is to say, roughly one-tenth of the whole population of the Finnish capital. These figures lend some truth to the saying that every Finnish taxicab driver is a bootlegger. It is almost impossible to keep prohibition in force in Finland, which, owing to the thinness of its population, its many lakes, islands, and forrested stretches of land, makes bootlegging an amateur's game.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
Here, again, the quotation is from one of the London daily newspapers [Laughter]. Hon. Members laugh, but it must be remembered that in these articles official figures are quoted. It is nonsense to suggest otherwise.
Does the hon. Member realise that the drink trade spends £800,000 a year in advertising in the newspapers of this country alone.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I am not going to deny that; probably it does, and to the benefit of British industry. If they do spend £800,000 a year in advertising their goods, I should say that the temperance party spend considerably more than that in advertising their opinions.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
I deny the right of the hon. Member opposite to prevent me from having my glass of beer, just as I should deny myself the right to prevent him from having his bun and glass of milk. This Bill is a direct attempt not only to deprive the individual of ordinary liberty but to deprive him of that liberty in a way which has always been resented to the last degree by the British workmen and women. He mentioned in his speech that he was certain that one day a Prime Minister would come to the Box to introduce a Bill of the kind that has been introduced to-day. He is prophesying. Let me prophesy. I prophesy that the day following the coming into law of such a Bill British democracy will pay a tearless farewell to this House and to constitutional Government. I am perfectly confident that, fanatical as the hon. Member is in his opinion on this question, he knows perfectly well that 795 although we may enact laws of the same character that has been enacted in the United States, when those laws are unpopular they are not going to be obeyed. We in this country are law abiding, but there is a limit, and when you try to take away from the people of this country that which 95 out of every 100 people consider legitimate refreshment, you are entering on such a dangerous game that I should be very sorry to see any Government attempt to force the people into it in this country. I am confident that they would regret it very much afterwards.
The Exchequer derives enormous sums from the sale of intoxicating liquor. On every pint of beer sold 2½d. goes to the Exchequer, and for every gallon of proof spirit that is sold the Exchequer derives benefit to the extent of £3 15s. 5d. Even the lightest wine sold in this country pays 3s. per gallon duty, and the heavy wines 8s. per gallon. The total amount that the Exchequer received on these duties in 1929 was £114,616,447. There has been a great reduction in the consumption of spirits in this country. In 1914, of proof gallons of spirits 51,802,000 gallons were consumed, compared with only 34,785,000 gallons in 1929. I hope I have proved that this is an unwanted Measure. It is a vindictive Measure, absolutely alien to the British character, and I believe that this House will reject it with the contempt it deserves as a Measure which should never have been brought before the House of Commons.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
I beg to second the Amendment.
In doing so, I want at once to express my great respect and admiration for the intense enthusiasm of the Mover and the Seconder. They have made a brave and straightforward attack upon the evils of excessive drinking, and I ask them to recognize that those who oppose this Measure are equally determined to do what they can to limit and to extinguish excessive drinking and the evils attaching to it. The proposals in the Bill, however, are not only impracticable but would put a brake upon those useful, successful and efficient measures which are slowly bringing this excess to an end, and would introduce other untold evils instead. We are the true temperance party, the supporters of this Measure are the greatest 796 foes to the extinction of excessive drinking. We are the crusaders in this matter. I am well aware that I have a certain responsibility, in speaking on this question, as a physician, surgeon and medical officer of health. I have been accustomed by my professional training to consider quite frankly and truthfully the effects of any particular evil in the nation and the most practical way of getting rid of it. I am not going to burden the House with long statistics and figures, which hon. Members would perhaps not be able to follow, but to express quite frankly the position, with which I am certain all my colleagues in the medical profession will agree.
There is no question about the terrors and horrors of excessive drinking and its effects. It accounts for 12 per cent. of the admissions to mental hospitals. We all want to abolish the cases of admission to mental hospitals and, therefore, we want to abolish excessive drinking, if not direct at any rate to abolish the causes of excessive drinking. It is a symptom of inherent neurotics and in periodical inebriates it is found that 42 per cent. give a family history of drink, insanity or epilepsy. Moreover, the habit of excessive drinking lowers resistance to disease and even in moderation, in constant moderation, it is liable to impair mental efficiency. As regards ulterior troubles it would be too long to enumerate them, but the essential figure which appeals to us is the figure given by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In 1922 they reported 38,000 cases of cruelty to children, and over 5,000, or 15 per cent., were attributed to strong drink. That appeals to those who have personal and detailed contact with the homes of the poor more than anything else.
There is no question as to the unanimous feeling of hon. Members in all quarters of the House about the evils of excessive drinking, but so extreme a Measure as this is unthinkable except for an extreme danger. It is a Measure of the order of the Ogpu in Russia, the Prussians before the War and Mussolini in Italy. I admit that such extreme Measures may be necessary in times of extreme danger, but is this a case of extreme danger? Here again we must look at the facts. In dealing with the real 797 dangers to the nation I am dealing with the physical, the moral and educational dangers come afterwards. This is not one of the great physical dangers of the nation. In a review I recently made of the health of the nation I gave one chapter to the four scourges. The first great scourge is tubercular, accounting for 40,000 deaths, the second cancer, accounting for 53,000 deaths, the third venereal disease, the greatest scourge of all, but probably the most hopeful if we get to work upon it, and the fourth, alcohol and drugs. This fourth scourge differs from the others because it is obvious, the cause is obvious, universal and widespread. It is attractive, leading to a habit of abuse.
The effects of alcohol make it the least dangerous of the drug habits because it is an open enemy; it is not a concealed enemy. Its effects in themselves are a deterrent, punitive, leading to preventive measures and restrictive action. Any person who has got drunk one night has in himself an incentive and still more in his family, his friends, his business and his surroundings, to prevent a recurrence. That, in itself, minimises or reduces the danger of the trouble. Alcohol takes little hold of the physically and morally strong, and we are all agreed that it is commonly associated, both as the cause and effect, with ill health and mental deficiency. It is a moral and educational problem, and also a factor in the public health, and as a factor in the public health let us consider what we must do.
The number of deaths due to alcohol, of course, is inconsiderable, as shown by the Registrar-General. The deaths due to alcohol are something like 150 in the year. The deaths connected with alcohol are 562. Of these about two-thirds are men and one-third women. But the total has been gradually coming down. In 1913 there were 1,800 deaths; in 1916 there were 950, and in 1918 only 296. At the end of the War, for reasons which we know, there was a much smaller return of mortality and sickness. If we calculate the number of deaths per million inhabitants, the number before the War was 18, but it has come down to only two in the year 1918. It went up to six in 1920, but it is now rather under four per million inhabitants. The trend towards a reduction since before the War continues.
There is one point I would bring to the notice of the House, because it is a 798 point on which people are liable to be misled. Those on the other side, especially those in favour of teetotalism and prohibition, make their statements in perfect good faith, but it is very difficult to convince them that it is unfair to give the figure of difference between the general mortality of abstainers and non-abstainers. The National Provident Institution prepared a remarkable set of figures covering the years 1891, 1896 and 1901. They analysed the lives on their books and compared the death rate of total abstainers and non-abstainers. The death-rate of total abstainers was 17, and of non-abstainers 24. But we have always to realise that the abstainers in such a category would obviously include the most prudent and careful, and that the non-abstainers would include the more reckless and the more casual living among the people. The non-abstainers are people who expose themselves to risk and probably do not take as much care of their health in other matters besides the consumption of alcohol. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that hon. Members recognise that those figures are not a fair measure of the difference between drink and non-drink, but are only a measure between those who are prudent and careful and those who take a more happy-go-lucky view of life.
Is action necessary at all? Is excessive drinking dying of itself? We have all to recognise that undoubtedly excessive drinking is passing away, is being reduced very rapidly. I shall not measure it by figures, except to repeat what seems to be the most important and definite estimate of it, that is the figure of arrests for drunkenness. One figure has already been given. The figures that I have here show that in 1900 the arrests were 200,000, and in 1928 they were only 60,000 throughout the country. That shows a very remarkable diminution. As regards actual consumption of drink, again we have to guard against figures showing simply the value of beer or spirits consumed and not the volume. The actual volume of beer consumed now, compared with the year before the war, is only 59 per cent., and of spirits only 47 per cent. That is compared with 1913, and of course there has been a great diminution of strength in the drink. What is the action to be taken? It is obvious that we cannot expect this House to take any action pending the report of the Royal Com- 799 mission. We all know in our hearts that that report will be a little more than an encyclopaedia of drinking statements and figures from every side.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being present—
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
When we come to the question of action we come to this Bill and the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Second Reading. Of one thing I am perfectly sure, and that is that the speech of the Mover did not face the difficulty. Nor do I think that the speech of the Seconder faced it either. It was largely confined to the question of what has been the effect of Prohibition in America. But there obviously the conditions are so different as to be no basis for legislation here. The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) did me the honour to recognise the fairness of an interruption by me, but when he talked about the city being drunk he could not apply that to this country; he could only apply it to sections or particular streets or particular occasions. A very large part of his speech dealt with the question of the saloon. But we have never bad the saloon in this country. To make his argument of any use at all he would have to show how far the inn and public-house of this country can be compared with the saloon of America. Where in this country are the hip-pocket pistols of the American saloon? Where are the conditions of life responsible for the saloon? Where is the extraordinarily cosmopolitan life which found its focus in those saloons? Before we can get any argument from America we must have it laid down how far the inns and public-houses of this country are comparable with the American saloon. Most of us agree that if we had that appalling trouble of the saloon anything would be better than a continuance of the saloon.
We can understand the Americans with their forceful methods taking hold of this matter, grasping the nettle and deciding to deal with the situation there and then by a measure of prohibition, not realising how difficult it would be to enforce such a measure even in America. We can understand that the fear of returning to the saloon is the overwhelming factor in the minds of those who are alive to the moral, educational and physical dangers 800 of excessive drinking. Even so, we have to recognise the existence of the evasions of the law dealt with by the hon. Member opposite. I do not wish to recur to the instances already given, but the fact remains that we have a most authentic review of the situation by the commission of eleven whose report is now in the hands of Congress. Of the eleven Commissioners, one is for immediate repeal of the Volstead Amendment, six are for revision, three are for a further trial of the existing law and one only is not convinced that the present system would not be the best. Even this one dissentient believes that if any amendment is to be made in the future it should be as the other Commissioners recommend. The others all favour immediate revision, or admit the possible ultimate wisdom of such action, and even the one dissentient joins in. recommending that if the Volstead Amendment is revised, Congress should have the power to "regulate" or "prohibit."
Everybody knows who has seen anything of America in recent times, or is acquainted with American opinion, that the probability is, now that the ball has been set rolling in that direction, that there will be some revision and that power will probably be given to the States to make their own respective decisions. That would be local prohibition with all the difficulties and disadvantages of local prohibition, and not total prohibition as proposed by the Bill. There is another reason why we cannot compare this country too closely with the United States. I have already mentioned the difference as regards the saloon, but there is also the difference as regards law. The late President Roosevelt, who was known so well in this country for his thoroughness of action, was asked about this matter after he had been President, and he said:In this country we pass a law to please one-half of the population and leave it un-enforced to satisfy the other half.That statement sums up the position of the law in America, but in this country we do not pass a law in order to satisfy merely one-half of the people. I hope we shall not do so, although we seem to be in danger in this Session of passing laws to satisfy less than one-half the people. I hope, however, that we shall keep to our tradition of serious legisla- 801 tion for the great mass of the community. I wish to quote, on this point, from one who was known and respected by many hon. Members, the late Mr. St. Loe Strachey, editor of the "Spectator," who in a very remarkable and delightful book called "American Soundings," gave this summary of the position:The great lesson for the world from the experiment made in America is that you must never prohibit absolutely unless you have something like an eighty per cent. majority in favour of your action, and loyally in its favour. I mean by that, not willingness to give a vote or lip-service on a moral proposition, but willingness to enforce as well as to pass it.He added:This Kingdom of Heaven must not be taken by violence, but by moderation and a proper study of human nature and how men's instincts act and can be controlled.I will not go into the results of local prohibition in Scotland, where out of 1,215 areas only half were polled, and only 41 decided in favour of no licence and 35 for limitation, and on a second poll five of the 41 went "wet." The real point is: would Prohibition work in this country? There is a sense of liberty in this country which forbids prohibition except in the most vital circumstances. It forbade prohibition even in the midst of nation-moving sentiments at the beginning of the late War as regards compulsory service. It certainly would forbid limitation and prohibition in what most people regard as a matter of minor importance to themselves. The great mass of people consider that they have a right to refreshment, and who would deny it? Who can assert that the fact that we may have a glass of sherry or a glass of beer with our meals is going to damage the nation? I ask those who are so enthusiastic about Prohibition, whether, in any debating society in this country, not limited to their particular outlook, they will not find a large number of people to dispute the idea that it is possible or just to deprive people forcibly of their right to moderate refreshment?
I ask hon. Members to cast their minds back to all the trouble of the past 10 years in connection with the regulations known as D.O.R.A. That lady was introduced during the War with the consent of everybody to deal with a national emergency, but when that emergency passed there was a tremendously strong outcry for sweeping away all those re- 802 strictions on the life of the people. We know the pressure which has been brought to bear on successive Home Secretaries to abolish what remains of D.O.R.A., and I think that the hon. Members who are present will give credit to Lord Brentford for the way in which he, when Home Secretary, resisted that pressure in connection with such things as the early closing of shops and Sunday closing. Hon. Members know that there is tremendous pressure at the present time on the Home Office to relax Sunday observance, and open the cinemas—and then, possibly, there would follow the opening of theatres, the holding of athletic contests and so on, and by degrees it would come to railway travelling, post office opening and all the rest of it, and a gradual lessening of the observance of the seventh day of rest prescribed for everybody. It is a dangerous and difficult thing, and successive Home Secretaries have done their best to maintain what is left of those measures of restriction.
It is inconceivable, however, that any Home Secretary would be able to stand up against the whirlwind of fury which would be directed against any such measure as that proposed in the Bill. I ask hon. Members to imagine the headings in the newspapers if such a Measure as this were passed. Not a single newspaper would refrain from headlines of the most glaring kind; correspondence would be showering into all the offices, and in every club and in every centre it would be the one subject of conversation. People would say, "These politicians are worse than ever," and this question would throw all other questions into the shade. National economy, marketing, education—all the rest—would be nowhere. It would be this one question of the restriction of the vital liberties of the people which would overwhelm everything and any Government that allowed it to pass.
We are dealing with a perfectly unthinkable idea. The prospect before us is not so serious as some might have taught us to think. Those of us who feel so strongly against excessive drinking are not feeling that our one real hope is taken away from us by the points which I have put forward. On the contrary, moderation, self-restriction, has been gradually and steadily increasing all 803 through our life during the past 10 years. It has been one of the minor blessings following upon the War, with all the horrors that it produced, that it opened people's eyes to the real, practical needs, requirements, and possibilities of the times, and to the immense national and personal value of health; and it promoted the whole scheme of health by innumerable measures and local and voluntary societies and efforts, so that nowadays everyone thinks it a natural part of his being to think of what is a healthy and what is not a healthy life.
It is seen in the extraordinary improvement in the habits of our fighting forces. With schemes generally for encouraging temperance, not by insisting on it, but by encouraging dry canteens and giving all opportunities for healthy recreation, and, above all, encouraging athletic fitness through athletic concepts and encouraging the ideal of the healthy life and the healthy body, we have now a position where the common demand in the military canteens is not for alcoholic liquor but for lemonade, tea and coffee, and other soft drinks. It is the same among other bodies of men who previously mainly acquired the habit of drink and used to take strong alcoholic liquor. I believe that if you introduced anything like a restrictive Bill, you would have a setback to all that. All the bright young spirits in this world have that in them that it is a real delight to them to break a law that they feel to be unjust, to break any kind of restraint that is unjust, and even many restraints that are just.
Last night I was at a theatre at which we saw a terrible instance of the horrors of the perfectly impossible attitude of the autocratic father towards his family of eight, and eventually, after terrible torture, one or two of them kicked over the traces. We know that that natural tendency is not limited to peculiarly spirited children against particular tyrannical parents. It is the natural instinct of all children against all parents in all classes at the present time, and it is the same in life generally. The general tendency after the War has been to knock over conventions and to try to substitute individual action. Facing such an undue danger as that of alcohol or drink, the only thing we can rely upon is the intelligent, enlightened habits of the indi- 804 viduals who compose the nation, and not upon any coercive law.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), who has just sat down, made so persuasive and reasonable a speech, and showed himself so fully conscious of the evils of excessive drinking, that I regret very much that he should have put himself in the position of seconding the rejection of this Bill. He seemed to find some comfort in the thought that the English public-house was something very different from the American saloon. I wish I could believe that.
§ Mr. JONES
I have been to both, in both countries, and I see the strongest resemblance between the two institutions. I hold in my hand Mr. Wickersham's report to Mr. Hoover upon the enforcement of Prohibition in America, and as the Commissioners are at some pains to describe the saloon, I would like, for the information of my hon. and gallant Friend, to read what they say about it and the reasons which led the whole of the Commission and the witnesses that appeared before it to declare that nothing shall induce them to allow the saloon to come back in America. This is what the Wickersham Report, signed by all the Commissioners but one, says about the saloon:Probably the institution which most strongly aroused public sentiment against the liquor traffic was the licensed saloon … In general, they were either owned or controlled by brewers or wholesale liquor dealers.Very like the English public-house.The saloon keepers were under constant pressure to increase the sale of liquors. It was a business necessity for a saloon keeper to stimulate the sale of all the kinds of liquor he dealt in.The saloons were generally centres of political activity, and a large number of saloon keepers were local political leaders.That is not unknown of public-houses in this country.Organised liquor interests contributed to the campaign expenses of candidates for national, state, and local offices. They were extensive advertisers in the newspapers. Laws and ordinances regulatory of saloons were constantly and notoriously violated in many localities.805 Not unknown in this country.The corruption of the police by the liquor interests was widespread. Commercialised vice and gambling went hand in hand with the saloons. When proceedings were taken to forfeit saloon licenses because of violation of the law, it was a common practice for the brewers to procure surety company bonds and provide counsel to resist forfeiture. The liquor organisations raised large funds to defeat the nomination or election of legislators who opposed their interests. The liquor vote was the largest unified, deliverable vote. The result of advertising by the brewers was a substantial increase in the consumption of beer, which was followed by some increase in the consumption of whisky.That description of the Amercan saloon by the latest inquiry into the doings of the liquor trade in America is not a very inaccurate description of the working of some of the public-houses in this country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
If the right hon. Member compares the worst public-houses, he will get comparisons, but we want to get an average comparison.
§ Mr. JONES
There is the Report, for what it is worth. If the hon. and gallant Member was reasonable and understanding, the Mover of the Amendment was very much more full-blooded in his onslaught. He had the audacity to charge the temperance panty and the Mover and Seconder of the Motion with fanaticism. That is the last charge Which can properly be brought against the temperance forces of this country. The temperance case is not based upon fanaticism. They present a carefully reasoned case, founded upon facts and arguments, against the doings of the liquor trade in this country, and the charge of fanaticism much more properly lies against the drinkers of the country, who, entrenched in old habit, tradition, and custom refuse to inform themselves of up-to-date knowledge in regard to the whole question of liquor, welcome every prejudiced statement they cam find in the newspapers, or rumours about what is happening in far-off countries, accept them for facts, and retail them to those who are willing to listen to them.
It is most difficult to obtain the truth as to what is happening in America with regard to the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment; it is as difficult to find out about that in America as it is to find out what is happening about 806 timber in Russia. I would only say to all those who genuinely want to know what is going on, that they should absolutely distrust all that they read in the newspapers from any other country. There is an absolute manufactory of lies for the consumption of credulous people over here, and it is surprising to me to hear a Member of the House, like the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, quoting these newspapers as if they should be accepted as facts.
I should like to congratulate the introducer of the Bill on his courage in presenting this Measure to the House. I am not surprised at it. The hon. Member is an independent Member of the House. He has been elected by his constituency, not because of the associations of his party, but for his own personal independent qualifications, and he has fully earned in this House the reputation which his constituents gave him of being an independent man of strong individual views, who does not shrink from putting them forward in their strongest form. I am bound to say that I feel as if the weight of the hon. Gentleman's character had made him Member for Dundee rather than actual sympathy by his constituents with the views which he put forward this morning, because although Scotland is in the enjoyment of the Temperance (Scotland) Act, Dundee has never shown any readiness to go "dry" itself.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Of course, the explanation, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, is that they do not agree with the local option system.
§ 2.0 p.m.
§ Mr. JONES
That may be the hon. Member's explanation. It is for him to justify his constituents, but I should feel more confidence in their endeavour to impose Prohibition on the whole country if they showed an earnest desire to use their present opportunities of making Dundee "dry." But I do congratulate the hon. Member on his directness, and on his bringing forward the proposal in this Bill. Such directness is rare in this House of compromises, and personally, I welcome the opportunity of supporting the Measure, and stating my own personal position in regard to it. Perhaps the House will forgive a personal reminiscence. It is 45 years since I saw light on this question and joined a 807 society, of which the first principle was total abstinence for the individual and prohibition by the State, and I have never seen any reason to modify the view I took when I joined that society. I still think that every wise man to-day, fully informed as to the effects of alcohol and alcoholic drink, would do well to be himself a total abstainer. I know the whole medical profession has not yet assented to that position. [An HON. MEMBER: "And never will."] They go a very long way towards it. I must remind my hon. Friend that the medical profession is very largely dependent upon the public opinion of the patients whom they have to attend, and I think that if they made their returns as to the causes of death absolutely frankly, if they told their patients the whole truth about the consumption of liquor, there would be very different practices and very different returns of the causes of death than what are prevalent to-day. I make no charge against the medical profession, for whom I have the highest respect, and would do every honour, but it is not very easy for them to be absolutely outspoken as to the effects of alcohol upon their patients.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
The right hon. Gentleman probably will not agree, but, as a matter of fact, the effects of alcohol are very difficult to diagnose. You could not, however honest you were, give many more deaths as being definitely attributable to alcohol than at the present moment. It is a combination of circumstances, and the question of honesty and being under the thumb of the patients and their friends in respect of death certification, has really not a substantial bearing on the figures.
§ Mr. JONES
I must maintain what I have said. It is not easy for the medical profession to pick out alcohol as the operative element in these cases. But we are really not concerned to-day with the position of the individual abstainer, although I rather wonder, with so many debates upon the economic position of the nation, we do not hear more of the annual expenditure upon drink. The drink bill last year approached very nearly the figure of £300,000,000. I do not forget that part of that goes in taxation to the State, but if it were not 808 spent upon drink, the need for that taxation would be largely removed, and I do not suppose that we are putting the figure too high in saying that the expenditure of the nation upon drink is, as a matter of fact, nearly £300,000,000. That figure means 1,200,000 man-years in the language of yesterday's and Wednesday's debates. There is money enough there in a single year to pay for all those development schemes which have been talked about in the debates in this House. We are, however, discussing to-day rather what should be the action of the State. I have the honour to be the President of the United Kingdom Alliance, where I succeeded Sir Wilfrid Lawson, an old Member of this House, a quarter of a century ago, and that society 77 years ago laid down what the founders considered to be the attitude of the State upon this question. I do not think the wording could be better. I accept it word for word.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.I do not think that anyone can say that those words are exaggerated. They add:That the history and results of all past legislation in regard to the liquor traffic abundantly prove that it is impossible satisfactorily to limit or regulate a system so essentially mischievous in its tendencies.That is the position of the Alliance. That is the position which is laid down by the mover of the Motion, and I shall have great pleasure in following my hon. Friend into the Lobby in support of that principle. I can do it quite freely, not alone because it represents my personal view, but because I know I have the support of my constituents in this matter. I am quite satisfied that if I could get a vote of the electors in my constituency on this question—I would not say this of many constituencies—they would vote "dry," and I attribute my return very largely to the strong temperance sentiment of my constituency initiated by John Wesley 150 years ago, and lingering so strongly, that they have sent me to Parliament and enabled me to inflict this speech on the House. I am reminded that the constituency has the record of having returned Mr. Caine and Sir Wilfrid Lawson.
In the Alliance we have never contemplated the imposition of Prohibition upon 809 an unwilling nation. We have always believed that in a matter of this kind we cannot go ahead of enlightened public opinion, and the effort which we have made is to bring about the suppression of the liquor traffic by the operative will of an enlightened people. During all the years of their existence they have endeavoured to enlighten the people, and to pass Measures through this House which would enable the people to give effect to their enlightenment by casting their vote for or against the question. It is forgotten in the speeches which have been made from the Conservative benches that we live under a prohibitory system. The common sale of liquor in this country is prohibited, except in certain places by certain people at certain times. Therefore, all the talk about Prohibition as a gross interference with the liberty of the people, and as a matter in which Parliament has no right to meddle, is beside the point, for that was settled centuries ago by the action of Parliament.
Year after year Measures have been passed limiting the liberty of the subject in this matter, and the method chosen has been to prohibit the common sale of drink. The licensing system under which we live is a prohibitory system. None of us is allowed to sell liquor, and I doubt if any hon. Members above the Gangway is allowed to sell liquor. It is a valuable privilege conferred only on people in the highest plane, and can only be done by people who can carry on this difficult trade without demoralising the neighbourhood in which it is carried on. A man must produce a certificate of character and give warning to the police before he applies for a licence. He must give notice to the Poor Law authorities, so that they may be prepared with measures to deal with the fresh poor who will come if the licence is granted. He must advertise in the local paper and on the churches, so that they may know that a new rival to their ministrations is coming into their midst. After all that is done, the magistrates may, if his character be suitable and the premises of the right kind, grant a licence.
That is the prohibitory system, and these licences are granted because it was supposed by Parliament that it would be going too far to have absolute prohibition, and that there should be exceptions granted by the magistrates to meet the 810 local needs; they were to act in the interests of the people. The licensed publican was allowed to sell liquor in the interests of the locality, and the magistrates were to act in the interests of the people, standing between the people and the licensed liquor trade. Therefore, it is not a question of liberty that we are called upon to answer. It is too late in the day to do that. The only people who can use the liberty argument are those who proposed to abolish the licensing system, and the last people—
§ Mr. JONES
The Noble Lady has said it. The last people who would want to abolish the licensing system are the members of the liquor trade, for on the monopoly created by the system depend their huge profits, which they enjoy no matter how other trades may be depressed. We find ourselves face to face with the licensing system—a prohibitory system in which the magistrates are able to grant exceptions where it is to the good of the people, and we think that the people themselves are the best judges upon that question. Why cannot we have a vote of the people in order to tell the magistrate whether they want exceptions in their district or not? That is the meaning of our local option Measures, which I still believe is the right method of approach to this question. I am bound to agree with a great deal that was said by the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans, who pointed out the difficulty of Parliament attempting to enforce this upon a people who do not wish in the great majority to have such a Measure. It is of the essence of legislation of this kind, touching as it does the daily life of the people in their homes, that we should have the support of popular opinion behind our laws.
I have always held that local option was a necessary accompaniment of a just licensing system. I had the honour of carrying a local option Motion in this House by a majority of over 200 in 1906. Mr. Asquith's Bill in 1908 would have given effect to local option in 1922, and it is a great misfortune to this country that this Bill failed to pass the House of Lords. That is the road that we should traverse, and I would remind the hon. Member for Dundee that that was 811 the very road traversed in America. They began with local option; they had it in 1777. They had it in many States, and the townships voted whether or not the annual sale of liquor should be carried on. The Maine law came 70 years after that. It spread from the smaller areas to the larger areas, from the townships to the counties, and from the counties to the States. Maine took it up, and then Kansas took it up, dropped it and took it up again, and before the Prohibition Amendment was carried, 33 States had already gone "dry" on their own initiative. It only wanted three more States.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the local option plan was devised by the liquor interest to check the progress of Prohibition through three-quarters of a century?
§ Mr. JONES
I have always found the liquor interest to be exceedingly blind to—[Interruption.] They may have made some such suggestion. We have heard a good deal of the position of things in America, where, on my birthday in 1919, they went dry. I had the honour to be born on 16th January, a notable date in the history of Prohibition. The difficulties which have been experienced in America have been, I think, almost entirely due to the effort to enforce Prohibition in those parts of the country where the local population is not in favour of the law. I do not see how anyone who reads the Wickersham Report can doubt that that is the case. There are certain parts of America where opinion is strongly behind the dry law and where there is no difficulty in enforcing it; but there are other places, like the cosmopolitan city of New York, where very few of the population are native-born Americans, or much interested in the welfare of the American people, where the law is notoriously broken and the mischief which we must all recognise exists. Mr. Hoover very wisely appointed a Commission to look into the matter. I know nothing about those who composed the Commission except their findings. I have read the report through carefully, and it becomes abundantly clear that the difficulty of enforcement is due almost wholly to the lack of support of public opinion behind the law.
§ Mr. JONES
The graft system is associated with the liquor traffic everywhere, and it is not wanting in America; but it is important to remember what are the recommendations of this Commission, after a full investigation and a very full admission of the evils that go along with it—what Professor Irving Fisher calls "Prohibition at its Worst." The first recommendation is—The Commission is opposed to the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.Those who support liquor in America and in this country had better recognise that it is practically impossible to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment. I do not think they realise what had to be done to pass it. It had to pass, first, through the two Houses of Congress, and then it had to pass through both Houses in 36 different States—three quarters of the States of the United States. Actually, it passed through 46 States, and though some of them have shown some desire to change, it seems to me an idle dream for anyone to think things can reach such a position that 36 States of the United States will be willing to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment. I think all Americans really recognise that. The second recommendation is—The Commission is opposed to the restoration in any manner of the legalised saloon.That is the important thing which they have got rid of in America, and which they are not going to have back, and it is the public houses in this country—the public common sale of intoxicating liquor—that we desire to get rid of in those districts which are ready to avail themselves of the opportunity. The report stated that under no conditions were the licensed saloons to be restored, and that it was necessary to educate and enlighten opinion in the United States. We are in a similar position here. We have a licence system and have not at present the power of local option, but the Government must not think that because there has been a great change for the better in recent years, which I most thonkfully recognise, that this question can much longer be deferred. In dealing with that improvement, it ought in fairness to be recognised that for 100 years the temperance societies of this country have been working to teach the truth 813 about alcoholic liquor and its effects; and the change is partly due to legislation, and partly—and mainly—due to the enlightenment that has come to public opinion from the teaching of the temperance societies and the changed attitude of public opinon.
§ Mr. JONES
And the schools. There is teaching in the schools, but it is very far from being as systematic and definite as I think it ought to be. I think there is still a great deal left to be done, and I suggest that to the representative of the Government as a field for their operations. I do not suppose the Government are gong to promise us legislation until they see the report of the Royal Commission. Royal Commissions are very useful bodies, but already there is in existence a very good report of the Peel Commission, which has never been acted upon in its main recommendations. I hope when the new Report comes that the Members of the Government will read it, and give us the legislation for which, I think, public opinion is far riper than the Governments of the past few years have shown themselves to be, riper, even, than the House of Commons has shown itself to be. Public opinion would, I believe, welcome drastic legislation on this question. I thank the hon. Member for Dundee for giving us the opportunity to have this discussion and this vote today, and I hope those who are friends of the temperance cause will nor vote against this Bill. There are only two Lobbies into which they can go, and I ask them to think whether they will go into the Lobby with the representatives of the drink trade—
§ Mr. JONES
—with those who are moving the rejection of the Bill, or whether they will go into the Lobby with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour), who may be anxious to go faster and further than they are willing to go. There is no doubt in which direction the two votes will tend. I hope those who are members of the Temperance Committee of this House and those who are sympathetic to the cause of temperance will throw their weight on the side of the hon. Member for Dundee and go into the Lobby with him. I would say to 814 the Government that they cannot long postpone dealing with this question. The report of the Royal Commission will come, and they will be called upon to legislate, and I hope they will seize the opportunity to rally to themselves the great mass of opinion which supports temperance legislation. They can do it in the confident belief that nothing will do more to raise the standard of life right throughout the country than the disappearance of the drink traffic from our national life.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Short)
I shall detain the House only a few moments upon the very interesting issue involved in the consideration of this Bill. I would join with those who have paid tribute to the sincerity and consistency of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) which I think is equalled only by that of the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones). We have had some very interesting and informing speeches, but it is clear from those speeches that there is a great divergence of opinion upon the issues involved in the provisions of this Bill. That divergence is accentuated by the difference of opinion in the camp of the temperance party, as has been illustrated by the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Dundee and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne. I have no doubt that, if this Bill should find a place in the arena of politics, it would arouse in its present form a great deal of violent opposition and give rise to much controversy. In these circumstances the attitude of the Government is clear. The Government in its wisdom—
§ Mr. SHORT
The Government, in its wisdom, has decided that this is a question which ought to be dealt with by a Royal Commission. That Commission has been appointed, as far as I know, with the consent of the House. It has received and listened to all kinds of evidence submitted to it, and I believe, if my information is correct, that it is now proceeding to the preparation of its report. In those circumstances, I do not think that the House will expect me, on behalf of the Government, to say anything that would give encouragement to this Bill until such time as the Royal 815 Commission favours us with a, report, because the issues involved are those which the Royal Commission has been appointed to consider.
§ Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE
Does the Under-Secretary recommend the House to vote for the Amendment against the Bill?
§ Mr. ATKINSON
We have been asked to-day to accept a very revolutionary Measure. I would like to remind the House that, when America changed its liquor laws there had been a definite issue placed before the country. At the present moment, we are asked to pass a revolutionary Measure which has not been demanded by the country in any shape or form. I do not think that the most extreme temperance reformer will suggest that in a single constituency in the whole country this issue was raised as a matter to be considered at the last election by those who were casting their votes.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
Then we may take it that my hon. Friend is here solely for that purpose and no other. [Interruption.] I do not think hon. Members opposite will suggest that this question has been an issue before the country, and I do not think it appeared in the election addresses of hon. Members opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, it did!"] In America, they had not our licensing system, and they had a method of administration of justice which does not appeal to us. Even in regard to the law dealing with this question which has been adopted, it is notorious that very little attempt is made to enforce it; and they have also a very serious problem to face, namely, the black problem. There is not the least doubt that the road they were treading was the road away from temperance, and things are getting worse. In 816 America, they got afraid of this problem, and they had to deal with it. I think it is admitted that this country is going in the direction opposite to what is suggested by this Bill. We know that everybody agrees that we are becoming a more temperate country every year, and yet the peroration of the hon. Member for Dundee was based on this theme: "If you do not pass this Bill, the country will rapidly be in hell." That was the picture he painted, in very poetical language. My view is that we are treading a road in the opposite direction which will not bring us to the place which the hon. Member for Dundee has just described.
Let me summarise, quite shortly, certain defects in this Bill. There is not the slightest doubt that it is a tremendous interference with liberty. My right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne has told us that already there are many restrictions on the liquor trade. At any rate, there are a good many things which we can get. We can obtain what we want at our clubs, and public-houses are open during certain hours. All those privileges are to be taken away by this Measure. What is the use of suggesting, after you have done that, that you are not interfering with the liberty of the people? As a lawyer, I hate any interference with liberty unless a very strong case can be made out for it. An interference with liberty must be the inevitable result of this Measure, and no one can deny it.
The next result is that this Measure would deprive people of a great deal of pleasure, which, I suppose, in 999 cases out of 1,000 is perfectly harmless. In any case, the country is going to be made a much sadder place by this Measure. Another inevitable result of the passage of this Measure would be that you would destroy a large source of employment. That point has already been referred to. Distillers, brewers, those engaged in transport, bottle manufacturers, and all sorts of subsidiary trades would be terminated as sources of employment under this Bill. Figures have been placed before the House comparing the amount of employment which would be found by a certain sum of money invested in ordinary trades and a similar amount invested in the liquor trade. In that comparison, no 817 consideration was given to the subsidiary trades such as bottle makers, transport workers, and people who grow the law material for the brewers. Be that as it may, a great number of people would be thrown out of work by the passage of this Measure, and their permanent source of employment would be put an end to. I think that is beyond question. Besides this you would terminate an import trade of some value, and free traders still believe that for every pound of stuff you import you have to export something of an equivalent value. There is no doubt that this Measure would close a very valuable source of revenue in that way. It may be said by the supporters of this Measure that we do not want the revenue. It seems to me, after what we have heard this week from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that we want every source of revenue we can think of.
On the top of that, I think it will be agreed that you would be inflicting a tremendous injustice upon those whose money has been invested in these undertakings. You may say that you do not mind inflicting injustice, that it may be necessary; but that you will inflict an injustice is beyond all question. You will at once deprive people of what is theirs as rightfully as the property of anyone else, and at the same time there is going to be a most wanton destruction of millions of capital. It is not merely that you are depriving people of it; you are destroying it, wiping it out, utterly destroying something the value of which amounts to many millions. Inevitably, also, you would introduce into the country all sorts of illicit trading. It is no use shutting our eyes to that. This traffic, to which you object, you would drive underground. That there will be illicit trading, many breaches of the law, and many punishments, which will have to be very serious ones, nobody can deny. You would introduce a great deal of misery and suffering in that way, and certainly you would drive out of the country that tourist traffic which you are so keen on inducing to come here.
There was a very amusing, and, indeed, true article in the "Daily Mail" this week by, I think, Mr. Beverley Nichols, drawing a picture of what would happen if Paris and London could exchange their governing bodies. Supposing that the London County Council were sent to 818 govern Paris, and the municipal authorities of Paris were brought over here to govern London, what would be the result? He painted a very amusing picture of how London would be brightened up and would become more attractive, while Paris would gradually, under the dead hand of the London County Council, become a city of the dead; and his final conclusion was that there would be a rush of Americans and other tourists from Paris to London. Certainly a Measure such as this would interfere with that.
There is a number of results which I think everyone must feel would be more or less inevitable, and the question is whether any case has been made out for asking the House to bring about such results. It is all very well to begin by painting a picture of the country which is tremendously exaggerated. You may quote what was said by people 40 or 50 years ago, but, for my part, I would pay no attention whatever to any pre-War description of this country. After all, we have our own eyes to guide us. No one of us, of course, knows every part of the country, but we know a good deal about certain parts, and, as far as I am concerned, I feel sure I have not seen a drunken man for the last two or three years. Certainly I have no recollection of it, and no doubt a great many other people can say the same. To suggest that this picture which is painted is a true picture of England to-day is, I venture to say, a fallacy of the first magnitude.
An argument was used about wastage. People say, "Look at all this money that is being wasted." I do not know what is meant by wastage. You might say that the money could have been better spent. Perhaps it could, but is that to be a reason for putting an end to this trade? What about tobacco? Is the money spent on tobacco wasted? In the same way, what about the cinemas? Is the money spent by hundreds of thousands of people every day on going to cinemas wasted? When they come out of the cinemas, what have they done? They have had some innocent pleasure, but their money has gone, probably, to support some American film producer, for, as far as the cinema industry here is concerned, the amount of employment involved is a minimum. Again, take foot- 819 ball matches. How many millions of people pay their shillings to watch football matches on a Saturday afternoon? Have they wasted their money any more than if they had had a pint of beer instead?
May I just ask a question? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that he would rather that young people should go to public houses and drink than that they should go to cinemas?
§ Mr. ATKINSON
The Noble Lady asks a question which has as much to do with the point I am making as the moon has. I am on the question of wastage, and I am suggesting that, if wastage means that the money could have been better spent, that could be said of a great deal of perfectly innocent expenditure in this country. I have referred to tobacco, to the cinema and to football; and then what about those great dressmaking establishments in London? Is there anything in the wide world in which more money is wasted? After all, a part of what has been spent has gone in revenue. I quite agree that that is almost the worst wastage that one can conceive, but still the Government will not take that view. Part of it, again, has gone in providing employment for someone, and the rest, I suppose, has gone in providing some pleasure for the person who has enjoyed the drink. I cannot conceive that this question of wastage affords any argument at all for putting an end to this industry, because, if it does it is an argument for putting an end to a great many others also.
Then the health plea is raised, and all sorts of lurid accounts are read of what someone has said about the effects of drink. It will not be contradicted by anyone that there is some very small percentage of people whose health is the worse because of the excess in which they indulge, but any suggestion that the health of this nation as a whole is prejudicially affected by drink I do not accept for a moment. There is not a particle of evidence for it. After all, the great bulk of the people who take alcoholic drink do so 820 with very great moderation, and those who drink to excess are just the people who would insist on getting drink whatever legislation we may pass. They are the people who will go on adopting underground methods, who will get what they want in some illicit way, and you will not stop them, but to say that a whole nation should be handicapped in this way because some very small percentage drink to excess, and so injure their health, is, I suggest, an argument of the very weakest kind.
We have heard something about fanaticism. I think that most temperance reformers really come within that description. I remember very well that, when I was on the Commission which inquired into the question of disinterested management, we heard a great deal of evidence from these extreme reformers, and one could never understand why they were so opposed to disinterested management and to the making of public houses more respectable. I remember that I put this question to one of their representative witnesses:May I take it that if angels from Heaven were sent down to manage public houses here, you would be against the change?
§ Mr. ATKINSON
I should not like to think that, when the Noble Lady gets to Heaven, she will not find some perfectly well-conducted public houses there. The question that I put was:If angels from Heaven were sent down to manage public houses here, you would resent the change?And the answer was,Yes," because of the added respectability that it would give to the public houses.I call that fanaticism. There is only one other thing to which I desire to refer, and that is the recital in this Bill that:All legislative and other efforts to regulate this traffic satisfactorily have failed.A good deal has been said about America, but I do not think that anything has been said about Canada. I was only out of the House for about 20 minutes, and certainly while I was here nothing was said about Canada. In Canada you have a half-way measure which, if it can be described as a satisfactory regulation of the traffic, at all 821 events contradicts most emphatically the recital which I have just read. I dare say some hon. Members do not know, though of course most will, that in the nine States of Canada the rules differ a, little, but in the main, I think at any rate in eight, there are no such places as public houses where you can go and get a drink; but you may order what you like to be sent to your home; and certainly I think everyone would agree that there is no drunkenness in Canada—[Interruption]—and that it would be quite hopeless to say that in Canada the inherent evils arising from their system were intolerable, or anything of that kind. It would be quite impossible to say their legislative efforts had failed. There they have this sort of half-way house where they abolish the public house and where people are free to order what they require for their own houses. That is a Measure which conceivably might be accepted by a great many people who would not accept total prohibition. At any rate, it is a method of control which you cannot rule out.
Before you can advocate an extreme measure you have always to prove that any measure less extreme will necessarily be a failure and, if there is any well recognised and well-tried system which would satisfy temperance reformers, certainly you have no right to ask the House to take an extreme step of this kind. If we passed this Bill we should be inflicting the greatest blow possible upon the true interests of temperance because, whenever you take an extreme step, you always have a tendency to send those who are, as it were, hovering in between the other way. The moment you do something which a reasonable person feels is an interference with just rights and liberties, you make enemies where you did not have enemies before. The House will be very well advised to reject the. Bill from whatever point of view they look at the question of temperance.
I want, first, to congratulate the hon. Member opposite for the spirit in which he introduced the Bill. It is really a tribute both to him and to the House of Commons that he could introduce a Bill so controversial and so unpopular and yet, by the very force of his spiritual nature and 822 his moral courage and earnestness, he could still the House of Commons. On this occasion, we have all the Members on both sides of the House who are most interested in the drink trade here watching its interests. I myself cannot vote for the Bill. I am sure the hon. Member will not think I am lacking in courage. I must do what I think is right and, if I voted for Prohibition, I should not be doing what I thought was right, because I believe in a different method. I believe we ought to have local option first. We ought to have free option. I want a Bill more of the order of the Oxford Bill, which would give the people of the country free option in drink. I think, if you had a Bill like that, the first, thing that people would do would be to get the drink trade out of private hands and vested interests, because they would realise that, when a thing is as dangerous as drink, the best thing you can do is to get it out of private hands. Hon. Members may say, If you feel like that about drink, why not about other things? If I wanted more drink turned out I would not have it owned by the State. It is because I want less drink turned out that I think it would be far better in the hands of the State. Lord Rosebery said some years ago that the State will never press for a thing which is against the interests of the moral, spiritual and social welfare of the people, and no one can say that drink is good for the moral, material and spiritual interests of the country because, if it was, it would not be controlled. Drink and opium are the only industries that we have to control. If it was not good for the country, the State would not control them.
That is what hon. Members seem to forget. They talk about the liberty of the subject but there is no such thing as the liberty of the subject. If the subject did what he wanted, there would be no House of Commons. Hon. Members only use that expression when they are frightened of the people of the country having the right to vote whether they want drink or whether they do not. I think it is really an extraordinary thing that, after all the pressure that has been put, they still have not the right to have local option and say whether they want drink or not. The reason is that the vested interest of the drink trade is powerful enough in this House but much 823 more powerful in the other House. It has well been called the "beerage" instead of the peerage, and a very good name for it too.
I withdraw, but, seeing how many peers there are, I thought it was rather appropriate. I am glad the hon. Member has brought the Bill forward, because it is a good thing that we can talk about this question of drink. It is very difficult for anyone to talk about it, because the leaders of the different parties are so timorous on the subject. I have always maintained that drink is not a party question, and I can truthfully say I think the leader of our party is by far the most honest about drink. I believe, if he had made such passionate speeches on the subject of temperance as the Prime Minister or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), he would go further. He would put it into practice. He would have the courage of his convictions. If I am asked why I belong to a party that is so interested in the drink trade, I say I know where I am in my party. Other Members in other parties cannot possibly know where they are. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been the most ardent temperance reformer in the country but he has never given a lead to the nation. When he was talking the other night about the terrible condition in which we are, there was not a word about drink, and yet no one knows better than he does what the country is spending on drink and what that expenditure is doing in lowering the moral and material efficiency of the people who take it. All parties have a "wet" section. The Liberal party has a less "wet" section than any other, but they have never had a "dry" leader. There are 50 Members of the Labour party who vote how they tell them.
§ Mr. HAYCOCK
On a point of Order. Is it in order for the noble Lady to sug- 824 gest that I am in any way connected with the liquor trade?
There was a sad spectacle when we had in this House a Welsh Local Option Bill. We saw it defeated by Members of the Labour party. We knew then that all parties had their "wet" sections. That is really why the drink question is so difficult for any party to handle, but it ought to be handled. We are spending £288,000,000 a year in drink. It is true that £130,000,000 of that goes into the Treasury, but £158,000,000 goes to the trade. The hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded me spoke of the tragic condition of whisky dealers and brewers if the Bill went through. We have only to look at their wills, and then we shall not feel very sorry for the men who deal in drink. They are the most prosperous people in the country. I do not think it is the concern of the House of Commons to waste any pity upon hon. Members who are engaged in selling drink.
What the House of Commons has to do is to face the drink question from the national point of view. Is drink helping the nation? Is it making us more efficient? We heard yesterday the Prime Minister talk about the competitive markets of the world, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have talked about America. Anyone would think that this was a Bill to deal with America and not with England. When we go into the competitive markets of the world. hon. Members know perfectly well that the man who is drinking cannot compete against the man who is sober. Anyone knows that; right in this House we know it. We have not to go to the competitive markets of the world to see what drink does. We have only to look around among ourselves. None of us is improved by drink. We can fool ourselves and make ourselves think that we are improved, but no one else will think so. We have to think of the drink question from a really national point of view. The drink trade does not want you to do that. It spends £800,000 a year upon advertisements in newspapers alone, and yet hon. Members get up and quote from newspapers. Can we 825 ever hear the truth about the drink trade from the newspapers? There is hardly a paper in the country that dare tell us what it thinks about drink. Eight hundred thousand pounds is a good deal to go in advertisements in respect of drink.
We hear about Prohibition in America, but we do not hear the truth about it. Before the last election you might have thought that there was going to be a tremendous "wet" wave go over the country, but it did not do so. I am not now dealing with America, but with England. The drink trade spends that enormous sum in advertising drink. Think what we spend in advertising milk. Only £20,000 a year goes in advertising milk. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says that it is a beastly drink. It is a more healthy drink. It may be a beastly drink in the hon. Member's opinion, but it would be far better for the children of the country if they could have more of that beastly drink. After all, the first concern of the House of Commons should be for the children of the country and not for the appetites of grown men and women. In this country we drink per head half the quantity of milk that is drunk in Canada, one-third of what is drunk in America, and one-quarter of what is drunk in Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. In spite of the low consumption of milk, only £20,000 goes towards advertising milk, and yet £800,000 is spent in advertising drink in the newspapers, to say nothing of the hoardings, where you see:Guinness is good for you.Guinness is very good for Guinness. I always think that those advertisements, where you see the sailor swimming for a bottle of beer, are misleading. We all know that if he got that beer he would not be swimming. Then you see the picture of a strong athlete—that handsome fellow. Athletes who are really strong do not drink. Why were we beaten at cricket? The Australian players did not drink. Athletes know better. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that if his own child wanted to do anything he would not tell him to drink beer but to keep as sober as he could. This is all out of date; so many hon. Members are thinking of times past. We have to think of present day conditions, and we have to face the drink question.
826 The Labour party set up a Royal Commission. I thought that it was a wonderful get-out. [Interruption.] it was a get-out all right. There is no one in the Labour party who did not realise that fact. They were frightened to face the question. I believe that if someone came forward and told the truth about drink, not about Prohibition, but as to what we are spending and how by means of this great expenditure on drink we are keeping money from going into productive channels, we should get a great following from the people of the country.
All that is wanted is a lead. There is no lead from any of the leaders of the parties when it comes to the question of drink. When we hear hon. Members talk about the Empire, do we realise that there is not one member of the Empire which has not got local option? We the heart and soul of the Empire, are not allowed to have local option. [An HON. MEMBER: "You do not want it."] I am not frightened of the will of the people. I believe in the will of the people. We have waited too long for local option. I wish that the Bill was one to bring about local option, free option, and then I would vote for it with my whole heart and soul. I should never vote for those who are interested in drink and drink alone Nearly everybody who has spoken against this Bill, except my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle), who really made a most instructive speech, has talked as though in curtailing drink you would be doing something which would be bad for the country. When I think of the country, I think of it in the spirit of sacrifice. I think we have to do what we did in the War. We then had to face up to the drink question, not because of the temperance point of view, but from the national efficiency point of view. We realised that unless we controlled the drink traffic we could not get national efficiency. We are just as much in need of it to-day as then.
I am sorry that I cannot vote for the Bill, and I am also sorry that I had to listen to the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson), when he gave us his idea of Heaven and spoke of angels coming down and us finding fault with them. I look upon Heaven as a state of consciousness, and I think that most of us 827 realise that to be spiritually-minded is life, and that to be carnally-minded is death. Drink does not help men and women to be better. It lessens their moral control and pulls them down a little lower than they themselves in their sober moments would wish to do. I am not a fanatic. I do not want to force my will upon the people of the country, but I do want, by preaching, teaching, and example, to awaken them, so that they may see that England would be a far better place if we could get the men and women of the country not to think of 'themselves or of their appetites, but of their children.
This matter affects thousands of children whose lives are the poorer and made more miserable because we, the leaders, the politicians of the country, have not the courage to come out and face the drink trade and see what we can do in some way to curtail the appetite far drink. I am sure that we could do it if we had a Bill before the country to give people local option. I am hoping that when our leader, who is the only leader yet who has not failed to keep his promises—he has never failed—comes into power, he will do something. I am sure that if he said he would give the Bishop of Oxford's Bill a chance he would be able to push it through and would not be frightened by the drink trade. I can assure my right hon. Friend that the Labour party and other parties have as much to contend with as our party, but I think that the drink trade has ceased to have such a hold over the country since the women have had the vote.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for having borne with me, but I had to speak to-day, because I do not want anybody to think that by not voting for the hon. Member's Bill I am frightened. I am not in the least frightened, although no woman has had to suffer more from the drink trade than I have had to suffer. I fought against the drink trade. They came to me in all sorts of disguises, sometimes as Imperial Conservatives—we called them "Imperial pints." The last time I had to fight a Labour man who was the only one in my constituency who went over to the drink trade. I did not mind fighting the drink trade, because I felt that, in fighting this vested interest, we were thinking of the welfare of the country. My trade is my politics. That is their 828 motto. My politics is my country, which I am here to serve, and I hope that hon. Members will think of their country when they are thinking of drink, and not simply of the vested interests of the drink trade.
§ Dr. HASTINGS
All those who art interested in the social welfare of the people must feel indebted to the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) for bringing before the House the important question of the use and abuse of alcohol. I do not think there can be any question whatever that this country would be happier, healthier and wealthier if this Bill became law, and if it was carried out. The trouble is, that there are so few people in this country who think as the hon. Member for Dundee does. If by any chance this Bill became law, I do not think that it would be a great success. I am very much afraid that what happened in America would be repeated here, and there would be many and serious attempts to disobey the Act.
I want to deal with the question from the health and efficiency point of view. The other day I passed a hospital that is undergoing rebuilding, and on the hoarding which had been erected I read the following:Buy the articles advertised on this hoarding.Adjoining that statement and actually contact with it were these words—Guinness is good for you.A short time ago could be read a statement which appeared on the hoardings in different parts of the country that—Whisky is the best protective against a remedy for influenza.The unfortunate thing is that the people who read these advertisements really believe them. There is no evidence of the truth of the statements, no scientific evidence whatever. I know of no evidence that alcohol improves and increases health. I know of no evidence that alcohol will protect from any single disease, but I know of very clear evidence that a certain number of diseases are due directly to alcohol. I know, further, that there are diseases and affections from which people who take alcohol suffer much more than do the general population. Certain forms of cancer and Bright's disease are examples of that. Lastly, there are affections to which we are all prone but from which those who take alcohol suffer more severely and 829 succumb to a very much larger extent than do the members of the population generally. When I say this, I admit quite frankly that alcohol can be a very useful drug in the treatment of disease. It is less used than formerly, but as a narcotic and sedative it has unquestionably its uses.
A good deal has been said about the decrease in drunkenness. It is a matter certainly for national congratulation, but from the health point of view occasional drunkenness, if the individual concerned does himself no injury and inflicts no injury upon others, is less serious than the regular taking of what some people would consider a relatively small quantity of alcohol. I would like to say to the hon. Member for Dundee that if he determined solemnly to get drunk two or three times a year, and took the precaution of going to bed or locking himself in a padded room, I do not think he would suffer very seriously, but I do say, on the contrary, that all the evidence I know shows that the regular taking of alcohol is not in any way productive of good health, in fact, quite the reverse. Figures have been quoted comparing the death rates of different classes of people, and a comparison has been made between the death rates of publicans and clergymen. That is not a fair comparison, because you are comparing people of a different social class, engaged in different sorts of work in which one vocation may be a very much more thirsty one than another. If you want to get at the truth as regards alcohol you have to compare a series of individuals of the same class in large numbers and doing the same sort of work. That has been done in connection with one organisation, the United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution, which, since 1866, has had two sections, a temperance section and a general section, and the experience of that institution from the first has been that the mortality in the general section has been higher than the mortality in the temperance section.
I will not weary the House with figures, but it has been shown that while the difference in the mortality of the two glasses is most marked in the early stages, right up to the latest year, 1926, of which I have information, the difference in mortality still holds. The same thing applies to other temperance organisations and friendly societies. In the con- 830 stituency which I have the honour to represent there is an organisation known as the Rechabites. They often have teas and I sometimes get invited. What impresses me most on these occasions is the large number of virile, spare old men with white hair who attend these functions. Indeed, I understand that some temperance friendly societies have been a little embarassed by the long lives of their members. A superannuation allowance has been provided and these old gents go on living year after year to the embarrassment of the funds of their associations. Let me give the House a figure regarding the Rechabites. According to the valuation for 1921 to 1925, we find that the expectation of life of a Rechabite of 20 years of age is 1.7 years more than that of the population generally of the same age and the expectation of life of a Rechabite of 50 is 1.1 years more than that of the population generally.
Perhaps the most serious indictment I have come across concerning the action of alcohol is contained in a volume which was published a day or two ago. I have here the Registrar General's Statistical Review of England and Wales for 1929. From this review I would like to bring up to date the figures quoted by the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle). According to this volume, in 1929 there were 134 deaths directly due to alcohol, and 832 deaths due to alcohol and other associated conditions. Let me explain to what the last figure refers. In a certificate the doctor concerned does not always put in "alcohol", but puts in "alcohol" and some other condition, for instance "alcohol and pneumonia". In this statistical return there is a very instructive table to which I want to refer. The Registrar-General shows, for the years 1871 to 1929, in a series of curves, four things: Deaths from alcohol and associated conditions, deaths from cirrhosis of the liver, deaths of infants from overlying, that is death from the pressure of the mother's body on the child in bed at night—and the amount of spirits retained for home consumption in this country.
It is a very instructive table, because all the curves go up and down in the same way; they run parallel. We find that all the four conditions increased to 1900, and after 1900 they decreased, with a rise about 1920 after the War, and a 831 fall again. I would like to lay stress on the peak about 1900, because I understand that wages, real wages, tended to rise till 1900 or thereabouts, and that since they they had been falling. It seems to me that tile correspondence of these figures with the rise and fall in wages is a very strong point for the prohibition party, showing the people purchase alcohol and use alcohol if their circumstances permit them to do so.
I do not want to detain the House any longer, but it would be possible to show that from the point of view of efficiency of work the use of alcohol is not a help but a hindrance. I raise these points because, although I feel diffident about supporting the Bill, there can be no question that the more the subject of the use and abuse of alcohol is ventilated, the better for the country at large.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
The last speaker gave some figures about the number of people who have died from alcohol in this country. It was an astonishing small figure. I am quite sure he could have told us that the number of people who die of boredom in this country is very much larger. The figure the hon. Member gave was 187, I believe. Is the whole community to be subjected to the state of confusion which has come about in the United States because of this trifling total? To suggest so only goes to show how utterly irrational are the suporters of this particular Bill and this cause. I go further. Both the Mover and Seconder of the Motion for Second Reading are used to the pulpit. It is true that one preaches in an orthodox pulpit, and that the other preaches more or less outside in the open air, but there is a tendency on the part of those who are accustomed to preaching to become a little dramatic and overstrained, and this is especially so if one takes up a cause and pursues it to the bitter, and shall I say the fanatical end, and if a man has been preaching a particular tenet in vain for 40 or 45 years like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones)—
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Because they have been doing it in vain. There is a strong sentiment against them in the country. I wish that the temperance 832 party only understood how grossly unpopular they are and how the people realise what a miserable world it would be if it were peopled exclusively by the kind of people represented by the temperance party. We would all want some strong drink then to console us, but Providence has been kind enough to spare us more than one example of that kind of thing. These gentleman, who are all comparatively polite gentlemen in their individual lives, do not realise what prohibition, en masse means. Supposing that the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr), the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne and, for that matter, the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) were to come to me when I was having a refreshment, and, in the exercise of what they believed to be the right of prohibition, were to endeavour to take it from me it would be an unpardonable breach of good manners in the first place and it would only end in hospital cases. It does not make it any the less bad manners because they multiply their objectionable selves for this particular object. They are still guilty of a grave breach of good manners.
The extent to which they are prepared to go can be seen from the action of one of them who only a few months ago, proposed to deprive of their certificates the captains, mates and engineers of steamers who knowingly carried alcoholic liquor for the bootleggers of the United States. Mark you, it was the wretched officers who were to suffer and not the owners, who may be prominent Liberal shipowners getting high freights for carrying this objectionable cargo and able to say to these officers and engineers "If you do not carry it we will give you the sack." But that did not matter. These officers were to lose their Board of Trade certificates for knowing that they carried it. That is the idea which some of these gentlemen have of justice and fairplay. It shows what happens when this particular obsession gets into their occiputs. Like a wax moth into a bee-hive there is nothing left of ordinary human sanity. Yet these two reverend gentlemen, if I may so term them, speak of their cause as "going forth for the Lord." Are they so ignor- 833 ant of the foundations of Christianity as not to know that the great Christian rite of Holy Communion originally was a daily feast where the wine was provided for the poor by the rich, and where all who participated brought their own bread only? Do they believe in the view expressed by a Glasgow town councillor who was a fierce prohibitionist? When he was challenged with the fact that Our Lord made water into wine at the wedding at Cana in Galilee, this arrogant and blasphemous wretch said "It was the only mistake He made in His life." That is the attitude of these gentlemen, and I submit that their view on this question is blasphemous and contrary to the whole of Holy Writ, both in the Old and the New Testaments. There is no good in their coming here and testifying as religious men when they allow this particular fanaticism to take so deep a hold upon their consciousness.
Reference has been made to the extraordinary waste of food in connection with liquor manufacture, and we were told about the amount of grain used for brewing and distilling. Of course there is, and always has been, and that has been one of the securities of civilisation in our world. The first time that mankind discovered that he could save and store anything was when he discovered the processes of distillation and fermentation. If you have a country where the masses of the people do not have access to some kind of alcoholic liquor you are always liable to famine and plague, because they only grow as much grain as will feed them for One particular year, but when the masses of the people have access to some form of liquor, there is an immense crop sown and reaped for the purpose of brewing and distilling, with the result that when there is a shortage of supply in any particular year, there is no brewing and distilling done in that year. In the old Scots statutes it was enacted: "There shall be nae brewing nor distilling this year because of the short crop," and right down through the ages you find it.
Undoubtedly liquor in some form or other is of great use against certain diseases. Near the time when the Roman Empire became a Christian Empire, the Christians had always drunk wine, and tit was only the heathen who were tee- 834 totallers. The Lord's Supper was a wine feast. The early Christians were all wine-drinkers in those days, and when the plague swept across the Roman Empire it was, just as in the case of influenza, those who were the teetotallers, the heathen, who were swept away in such terrible numbers. At one time there was a frightful plague, and the principal surviving inhabitants of the Roman Empire were in the main of the Christian persuasion, which was the cause of the Roman Empire becoming a Christian Empire.
These facts are ignored by the temperance people. They do not possess beliefs in temperance; beliefs in temperance possess them. They are almost like one possessed of a devil, if this particular fad gets them. It is a psychological condition of certain human beings. In the old days it generally took the form of determination to bend their fellows to their own particular religious views by persecution, but since the belief in religious persecution died cut, since the devil is no longer the subject of perpetual denunciation from the pulpit, they had to turn their attention to something else, and so they took to the drink trade. Sometimes it is the cinemas. sometimes the football fields. The desire to denounce and inflict their will upon somebody else is inborn in them. It is a psychological problem, and the ordinary, balanced, intelligent people in all countries have got to resist it.
One hon. member on my own side talked about the splendid way in which Lord Brantford, when he was Home Secretary, withstood the attacks that were made upon what is known as "D.O.R.A.", but I was very indignant with Lord Brentford and thought he did an immense amount of harm in the last election with his continuing cry of "D.O.R.A." Look at all the absurdities. The House will remember the treating regulation. All sorts of self-righteous old footlers said, "Oh yes, put it down." It paid me for I went from one end of Scotland to the other, and was paid grossly excessive fees, which were thrust upon me, quite unwillingly, to defend people charged with committing the terrible offence of treating. A lot of people would have compelled others to do anything in the war—even to crawling on their hands and knees if they thought 835 that that was patriotic. I remember telling one of the local judges that he seemed to think that if he fined a publican very heavily for treating, he could go home with the self-congratulation of having done his bit to win the war, just as if he had shot down a Zeppelin or sunk a submarine.
There were scores of cases. But I killed the goose, for I got two constables reluctantly to admit that one day, between the afternoon and nine o'clock at night, they visited 44 public houses and purchased 44 half-glasses of beer. I said to them, "Did you drink it?" and they replied, "No, we poured it on to the floor". I then extorted from them, with great difficulty, that this particular beer was paid for out of the funds of the ratepayers, that the chief constable instructed them and that he was going to refund the money as expenses, whereby he and the constables were guilty of infringing the treating regulations. The county court judge tried to cover them up when I pointed out the illegality of the proceeding. I went to another court in another case of 15 half-pints where one judge had the courage to denounce the thing, and the free beer was stopped. After that, there was never another case of prosecution. The police lost interest when the free beer ceased. That sort of humbug went through all these regulations. Then there were the men who came forward on behalf of prohibition—the moneyed men "the strength of Britain men"—gentlemen with wine-cellars at home. These are the gentlemen who are always willing to put prohibition on the working classes. I am reminded or a story, which I read about, the leading politician who got a very eminent person in this country to announce that he was going to be an example, a total abstainer, and it was discovered the same evening that the politician in question was having a convivial function in the Savoy. In the War, supplies were scarce and people had to do without alcoholic drink. Butter was scarce, but some people like myself had the commonsense to buy a cow and make butter for themselves. But because we had only one ounce of butter there is no reason for having too little now.
The extraordinary thing about this matter is that when evidence is taken 836 before Royal Commissions, it is always taken from chief constables, brewers or teetotallers. None of them is in the least bit disinterested and their evidence is of no worth. You want to take the evidence of the dock-labourer sweating off his ship, and the miner who comes up to the surface sweating some of the essential salts out of his body and who wants a pint of beer in order to replace them. The important thing about the liquor question is that the wealthy person and the person who lives a sedentary life do not need any liquor at all, because their bodies are never exercised, unless they are playing golf, when they go to the 19th hole; and even under a system of Prohibition they will get it. The poor sweating workmen is the man who is penalised.
I agree with two hon. Members on the other side and with the noble lady, the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor), that Prohibition will not be repealed in America. The reasons are patent. It has been a great naval advantage to the Americans; it has made them acquainted with the sea, and for the first time they have become a maritime race. All those great ships with steamers going round the world are all due to Prohibition. The American wants to turn his back on the statue of Liberty, and so he goes on the sea to get the liberty that is denied him in his own home country. Then there are the Prohibition agents. They say that it is much better to be a Prohibition agent than to be President of the United States. It is much more remunerative. One of the steps that has been taken by Mr. Hoover is to appoint 132 new enforcers. There is a problem to some extent settled in the United States—what to do with our boys; make them prohibition agents.
Then there is the enormous army of bootleggers who have taken the place of what used to be called the legitimate trade. No doubt many of them are the same people who were engaged in that trade, only they have not a licence. There is a colossal army of them, and I can tell you something about them, because I know some quite well. I have been asked to go to the United States and superintend some of their business, but I said I would not go unless I was allowed immediately to expose all I had done, because it would be doing a good turn to Americans to introduce good 837 Scotch whiskey in place of the poisonous stuff they get. The 12-mile limit was conceded by Great Britain at the instance of the bootleggers, because with the three-mile limit everybody could go in for bootlegging, while beyond the three-mile limit they would be able to get the unauthorised agents out of the way. Then, of course, there is an enormous body of the clergy who make a very substantial addition to their incomes through going about preaching Prohibition. They do very well at it. It is making a great many churches that were declining, and the funds are largely provided by the bootleggers. We have only a mere £130,000,00 worth of miserable revenue in the liquor trade here, but in America it amounts to £400,000,000, and there is all that revenue lying loose for the prohibition agents, the police, the bootleggers and the clergy. It was the same with the Betting Duty in this country, when the bishops and bookmakers joined together in one brotherhood.
It is just the same in the United States, where the Prohibitionists and the bootleggers are twin brothers, on different sides of the same shield. It is necessarily so; and if hon. Members have any logic in their minds they must see that it is inevitable. We do not need proof or evidence, or to go to the United States to see such things happen. Look at the racketeers! What about Mr. Capone, the multi-millionaire? I am told that there is a wireless waiting for me to say that if I oppose this Measure he will "put me on the spot," because if Prohibition is introduced he is thinking of coming over here and starting business. It gives a financial basis to the criminal classes! They have always been much more numerous in America than here. Naturally, among a mixed population they are always much more numerous. After all, we ought not to take America as an example. Most of the Americans are not sufficiently civilised to be trusted with strong drink. They are like the African natives, or the Red Indians, or the Australian aborigines, who drank themselves to death in one furious bout. Most of the members of the temperance party could not be allowed any strong drink, because their heads would not stand it. I could pick out half-a-dozen here, who, if they were to sit down to drink a bottle of whisky, would die, be- 838 cause they would never stop till they had finished, once they bad started.
Referring to what the last speaker said, supposing there are a few people in this country who are highly neurotic or have so poor a nervous disposition that they die from time to time on account of drinking too much. What is it, after all, but a form of postponed birth control?—a much more intelligent form of birth control than that usually advocated, and of which I entirely disapprove, joining hands there, in support of the hon. Member for Motherwell. The former system is more intelligent, because at least they have been weighed in the balance, and we do find out that it is hardly worth while keeping them alive. Then as to doctors. We have had the usual medical opinions, but, after all, most men when they reach 40 or 50 are their own doctors, and have not a very high opinion of what the medical profession says. I have read of an old Irish laird in the county of Connaught who lived till he was 114 and for the last 94 years of his life drank a bottle of whisky and a bottle of rum every day—and those were die days when whisky was whisky. At the age of 111 he was shooting blue hares on the hills of Connaught. At the age of 80 he married a girl of 14 and begat 24 sturdy children.
An attempt has been made to talk about Local Veto in Scotland. Of course, it was a complete washout there. It was put into operation in Kirkintilloch, where the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland comes from, but that was because the local people had fallen out with the local publicans during the War. The inhabitants thought the publicans had not distributed the beer evenly, but had given it as a special favour to certain customers for special prices, and had sold their whisky at 30s. a bottle when the price was 12s. 6d. The result was that their own customers voted against the publicans, and then when Local Veto came in, char-a-banc services were started to licensed houses elsewhere, and people like the Local Veto because everyone is more or less interested in the running of the chars-a-banes. All that Local Veto has done there is to promote road transport to some extent. In Shetland, I should like to know the Chief Constable's figures as to how many shebeens have been started. Why is it that there you can get drink in places if you know where to go? 839 It is like Norway where the people who voted against the repeal of Prohibition are the people who live along the shores and do the bootlegging.
The suggestion of State and disinterested management is founded upon this fallacy that a pint of beer handed over in very good condition across the counter by a civil barman—civil because if he is not he will be sacked—is a means of destruction, but, if it is beer probably in a bad condition made in a State brewery by a brewery which has a State monopoly, and handed across the counter by an impudent civil servant who knows he cannot get the sack, it immediately becomes a kind of consecrated draught. In regard to the Carlisle enterprise, we have been told by the late Member for Smethwick that they had to make up their returns as if they had sold so much food. I know from the evidence of some people of the village of Wigton that the experience of the working-classes is that if you want a really good drink in the place you cannot get it at the bar, but you can get it at the back of the premises where the people in charge sell their own stuff and not Government stuff. Then you will get something really decent. It is a Government enterprise, and, once you put Government officials in, they will never let go. It is like the passport system.
We have been given figures about deaths from consumption, but far more people have died from tuberculous milk than ever died of drink. But on that account I do not advocate the prohibition of cows; I advocate the elimination of tuberculous cows just as I advocate the elimination of the bad public-house and inebriates. The hon. Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) stated that we do not use a quarter of the milk which is used by the people in America, but I think the explanation of that is that the price of rum in America is very much less than it is here. The real explanation of the hon. Member for Dundee being here is not so much that they wanted to put him in as they wanted to put the present right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) out, and to get rid of him. That was one of their ways of expressing disapproval of the House of Commons. The hon. Member's presence here is a little like what was reported of a certain Conservative baronet in Dumbartonshire. He was re- 840 turned to the House of Commons by a radical constituency. One of the workmen was asked why they returned him, and he said, "Well, Sir Archie is a tiresome body about the works, and we thought it far better that he should worry the folks in the House of Commons than he should go on worrying us."
By this Measure the only people you are going to endow are the illicit liquor sellers. That is all that is going to happen. If the public and the police and the revenue have no interest in prosecuting cases through missing revenue there will be no zeal for prosecutions. A friend of mine once told me how they distilled spirits in Ireland. It is the simplest thing in the world. I will give an explanation of it, and all you teetotallers can take out your notebooks and write it down. You simply take a cup of coarse brown sugar, a cup of treacle, and half an ounce of yeast, mix it with water at 84 degrees into the wort, skim the top of it, put it through a chemist's retort slowly, and you have a very nice palatable drink, though there is only a small quantity of it. I am assured by a distiller that making whisky is far easier than making a scone. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire (Duchess of Atholl) told us in the Scottish Grand Committee that one of the reasons why smallholdings have fallen off in the Highlands is the fact that it is no longer possible for the smallholders to distil their spirits as they used to do. That, of course, is due to the Government, who for hundreds of years have made regulations and interfered in this matter purely for the purpose of getting their share of the swag.
Are there not other things that might be taxed? What about all those dressmaking establishments which tempt women to waste their husbands' wages, and deprive their children of bread in order that they may decorate themselves? Far more young women are led into lives of shame by the lure of dress than by drink. Why is not legislation passed to regulate that traffic? Why do you not put all women in uniform? Again, what about the vegetarians? There is far more to be said for vegetarianism than there is for the prohibition of liquor. Think of the enormous number of poor dumb animals that are sacrified, even if the are humanely killed, to satisfy our 841 bloodthirsty flesh needs. Vegetarians could advance any of those arguments which have been used to-day to show that the use of butcher's meat was the cause of all wars, and that all wife-beaters eat red steaks. Again, take the number of homes that are devastated in well-to-do circles by the curse of bridge. There are people who would be prepared to forbid card-playing, and I myself sympathise with them. I believe that card-playing was invented several hundred years ago for the amusement of an insane king, and I have noticed that it is largely people who are only partially equipped mentally who go in for it.
Then what about horse racing? I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth is not here to listen to what I am saying on this subject. If ever there was an organisation for promoting gambling and betting, it is the racing of horses. Dog racing is not in it. Think of the enormous sums that are spent on it, and think of the ruined homes that it causes. For one man in a year that is ruined by drink, 50 are ruined by betting, and no legislation can prevent it. Nevertheless, this particular industry, which keeps many of our farmers and other people going, is to be singled out. We take our lessons from America, but why not go to the country which is just across the Channel? That is a country where you have no restrictions and no drunkenness, where the people are prosperous and there is no unemployment—[Interruption]— where they have actually had to import labour and everyone is prosperous, and yet you can vet wine there at any hour of the day or night. There is no drink question really in this country.
Prior to the time of the Revolution—I have told my Ulster friends this before, and they do not like it—prior to the Revolution the well-to-do classes in this country used to drink claret, and a little French brandy. In the Highlands of Scotland they drank usquebaugh, that is
§ to say, whisky, but we were the only people with sufficient grey matter in our heads to stand it. You Sassenachs cannot drink whisky, but the Highlander can, and there was no drink question then at all. William of Orange came over and, for the purpose of injuring the French, forbade the importation of French wine and brandy and brought over Dutch gin—and the gin palace started—drunk for a penny, blind drunk for twopence, and for threepence you could sleep it off in the shed. That is when the drink question started, but we have gradually eliminated it.
§ There has been a tremendous change. People drank a century or two ago through sheer boredom. There is no drunkenness among the middle-classes. Commercial travellers 30 or 40 years ago always took their customers out to get a drink. If they ask a customer to go out now for a drink, there is no chance of getting an order. In Glasgow:50 years ago the bosses used to ask if any clerk was sober enough to write a letter. The Inland Revenue Office was a regular inebriates' home. All that has stopped. There is also the state of the House. With one exception I have never witnessed drunkenness. This is a perfectly sober institution. There is an entire change. These gentlemen are whipping a dead horse. They are whipping a mediaeval superstition which has passed away. If you passed this Bill, you would create the revolution that has been created in the United States, where the young people of the well-to-do class have all taken to carrying liquor about with them. I adjure these reverend gentlemen to remember that righteousness must proceed from within and not from outside or from compulsion. The old book says, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you," and it will not be brought about by legal compulsion.
§ Question put, "That the word 'new' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 18; Noes, 137.843
|Division No. 148.]||AYES.||[3.59 p.m.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)||Richards, R.|
|Ayles, Walter||MacLaren, Andrew||Salter, Or. Alfred|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Sandham, E.|
|Foot, Isaac||Matters, L. w.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Muggeridge, H. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Pole, Major D. G.||Mr. Scrymgeour and Mr. Barr.|
|Albery, Irving James||Gossling, A. G.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Arnott, John||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Atkinson, C.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Pete, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Potts, John S.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hall. Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Bellairs, Commander Cariyon||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Harbord, A.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Harris, Percy A.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hartington, Marquess of||Romeril, H. G.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hayday, Arthur||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayes, John Henry||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bracken, B.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R., Wentworth)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Hurd, Percy A.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Isaacs, George||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Iveagh, Countess of||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Butler, R. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Knight, Holford||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Lathan, G.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Lawson, John James||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Birm., W.)||Leach, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Church, Major A. G.||McElwee, A.||Toole, Joseph|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||McEntee, V. L.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Macquisten, F. A.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Compton, Joseph||Markham, S. F.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Marley, J.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Marshall, Fred||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Daggar, George||Meller, R. J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Middleton, G.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ede, James Chuter||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Mr. Wells and Major Carver.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Naylor, T. E.|
Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
§ Words added.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.844
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3
§ Adjourned at Seven Minutes after Four o'clock, until Monday next, 16th February.