HC Deb 06 April 1950 vol 473 cc1346-8
35. Mr. Remnant

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that the increase in proceedings and convictions for drunkenness in Carlisle from 35 proceedings and 30 convictions in 1948 to 68 and 64, respectively, for 1949 are higher than the average increases throughout the country; and what steps he is taking in view of these facts.

Mr. Ede

Over a period of years Carlisle in the matter of convictions for drunkenness has a favourable record compared with other county boroughs of similar characteristics and population. It is true that in 1949 the figures in Carlisle showed a considerable increase over those for 1948, but the figures for 1948 were themselves comparatively on the low side. The whole situation has recently been reviewed by the licensing justices in consultation with the Chief Constable and the general manager at Carlisle, and I do not think that any special steps are called for on my part.

Mr. Remnant

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that during the period when his Department published statistics in connection with Carlisle, the State management area was never in the better half of the 85 county boroughs? In view of that, and the figures I have given, will the Home Secretary agree that the State management system is no more successful than any other system in establishing that standard of sobriety which we all desire?

Mr. Ede

It has to be borne in mind that the State management brewery supplies beer of a slightly higher specific gravity than beers supplied by the ordinary brewers. I am certain of this, that the system has worked well and that it is not fair to compare last year with one of the lowest years.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what is the meaning of "characteristics" within the context of his first answer?

Mr. Ede

The kind of occupation and the number of people who live in what might be called residential centres in a district, the prevalence of clubs, and so on.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it significant that this increase in drunkenness in Carlisle coincided with the passage of the Licencing Bill last year, and is probably due to the customers in the State public houses getting drunk in sympathy with the forthcoming fate of those in the new towns?

Mr. Ede

No; the curious thing is that nearly all the arrests for drunkenness take place after 11 o'clock at night, and that public houses under the State management system close at 10 o'clock. It would appear that the drunkenness is derived from some other source.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Does the State beer take an hour to work?

Mr. Chetwynd

Is it not more likely that in this case the increase in drunkenness was among people from outside, who went in to see what it was like and could not take the strong beer?