§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Hardinge.)
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, if it is not inconvenient to His Majesty's Government it would enlighten the House if the noble Earl in charge of the Government Bill—Hops (No. 2) Bill [H. L.]—which I see was introduced in your Lordships' House yesterday and read a first time would tell us whether its contents have any bearing on the point of controversy likely to be raised between myself and the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill now before us.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (EARL CARRINGTON)
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for giving me an opportunity of saying a word. The Government Bill which was introduced last night, and which will be in your Lordships' hands in a few days, is more or less the same 869 Bill as was brought forward last year. Perhaps it would be convenient that I should say a word as to the course that we propose to take with reference to the Bill down for Committee to-day. I am sure the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill will acquit me and my colleagues of any want of courtesy in the matter, but I think it as well to state why it is that we do not propose to take any part in the consideration of his Bill in Committee this afternoon. The House will remember that the Government expressed great sympathy with the undoubted difficulties of the hop-growers under present circumstances, and they appointed a Select Committee in February of last year. It was a very strong Committee, of which Sir William Collins was chairman. The Committee reported in the following July, aid in December last the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced a Bill in another place to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee. That Bill, which was introduced, as your Lordships will remember, at the fag end of the session, was certainly more contentiously received than had been expected, and there was not sufficient time to reconcile the differences that arose. On February 26 of this year, with the approval of my colleagues, I stated, at a very large meeting of tenant farmers at Canterbury, that—If no unreasonable expenditure of Parliamentary time was required, the Government would reintroduce the Bill this session, as they were still of opinion that the grievance was a real one and one which called urgently for redress.Notwithstanding that promise the noble Viscount—I do not in any way complain of it—introduced this Bill in your Lordships' House six day afterwards, and it was given a Second Reading on March 31, when my noble friends Lord Beauchamp and Lord Fitzmaurice, on behalf of the Government, confirmed my Canterbury pledge. Owing to having been, unfortunately, in the grip of the influenza fiend, I had been unable to carry out this pledge until yesterday, when the Government Bill was introduced and read a first time in your Lordships' House. Though, of course, the noble Viscount's Bill could get through this House without much difficulty, there is such a place as the House of Commons, and in the present state of business and in view of the period of the session I honestly think it would have very little chance, as a private member's Bill, of getting through the other House. Moreover, I think the House will agree that 870 the Government could hardly be expected to thrash out to-day the details of this Bill when their own Bill has not been read a second time. I hope, however, that I may be permitted to congratulate the noble Viscount on the recognition that his efforts have received from the various agricultural associations, and I venture to express an earnest hope that that may be a happy augury for a favourable reception of the Government's Bill when it comes up for Second Reading. I have to thank the House for permitting me at his stage to state the intentions of His Majesty's Government.
§ EARL CAWDOR
My Lords, I am bound to say that I listened with some astonishment to the statement of the noble Earl. But may I first congratulate him upon his return to your Lordships' House? We are all glad to see him back again restored to good health. With regard to this Bill, it was only the other day that we read it a second time, and the noble Earl the Lord Steward, speaking on behalf of the Government on that occasion, said that the Bill was one on which we were all agreed. There was nothing, I think he said, with which he need deal at that stage, because the only points at issue were points which might be dealt with in Committee. We were, said the noble Earl, all agreed and working on the same lines. Now no one would have gathered from that statement that when the time came for going into Committee and dealing with those points His Majesty's Government would decline to take any action on the Bill. I think it is a most extraordinary proceeding, and at the present moment I do not understand the reason for it. The only reason, apparently, is that the Government as late as yesterday took the First Reading of a Bill which is not in print and of the contents of which your Lordships are ignorant. The noble Earl told us that his Bill is more or less the same as the Bill of last year. If the noble Earl could have told us in what way it was more and in what way it was less than the Bill of last year he would have been giving us some information. But we are in this peculiar position, that we are dealing with a Bill the Second Reading of which was agreed to by His Majesty's Government, whose spokesman stated that it was a Bill which only required some slight amendment in Committee in order to make it acceptable to His Majesty's Govern 871 ment, and yet we are told that His Majesty's Government are going to take no part whatever in the discussion in Committee of this Bill. I think we have some reason to complain of the attitude taken by His Majesty's Government.
§ * THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF CREWE)
My Lords, I am very sorry if the noble Viscount thought that we had shown any want of consideration to him, but I imagine that we are all agreed in desiring that a measure should be got through your Lordships' House in the best form, and that it should at a favourable time go down to another place for consideration. I think, perhaps, we do owe the noble Viscount a certain degree of apology for the course which has been taken, but it has really been due to the fact that my noble friend in whose charge this subject is has been absent from the House through illness. The most reasonable and convenient course, I think, would have been for both Bills to proceed pari passu; at any rate, that one should not be considered until both had been seen. I do not know whether the noble Viscount would now be willing to postpone the Committee stage of his Bill until he has seen ours; but I should like it to be clearly understood that my noble friend behind me did not mean that we should ostentatiously hold aloof from the consideration of this Bill, but that it seemed to him—and I think your Lordships will agree—that we could not to-day usefully develop our own proposals, whatever they may be, and I confess I have not seen the Bill and do not know what they are or in what respect they differ from those of the noble Viscount. I therefore think it would be more convenient to wait until our Bill is before the House.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I do not quite know in what position we find, ourselves. It seems to me that the utterances of the two noble Lords who have spoken from the Government Bench were couched in very different language. The noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture seemed to wish to convey to your Lordships that His Majesty's Government did not intend to take any part in the proceedings. Now we understand from the noble Earl the Leader of the House that that was not his intention at all, and that all that His Majesty's 872 Government ask is that the noble Viscount would be willing to postpone the consideration of his Bill in Committee until your Lordships have seen the Bill which the Government have laid upon the Table, but which, apparently, has not been circulated to other members of the Government, and of which the noble Earl the Leader of the House confesses himself to be as ignorant as we are on this side. It struck me when I heard the statement of the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture that there was, if I may say so, a somewhat undignified competition for the credit of the introduction of a Hops Bill, and that His Majesty's Government were rather sore with the noble Viscount who comes from Kent because he had run away with their clothes while they were bathing. However, if His Majesty's Government really do desire that your Lordships should consider both Bills together and are not entering into competition to show that Codlin is the friend and not Short, I have no doubt my noble friend would be prepared to consider any representation made from so important a member of the Government as the noble Earl the Leader of the House.
* VISCOUNT HARDINGE
My Lords, personally I would much prefer to proceed with my Bill. The hop industry is more or less on its last legs, and it is important that something should be done without delay to help it. But I am perfectly willing to do exactly what the Leader on this side of the House desires me to do in the matter.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is clear that your Lordships have been taken by surprise by the action of His Majesty's Government, and it appears that a most important member of His Majesty's Government has also been taken by surprise—I refer to the noble Earl the Leader of the House. Your Lordships have assembled this afternoon in the expectation that you would have to consider a Hops Bill, and I confess I should hardly like to suggest that we should delay our proceedings because at the very last moment the Government have taken a different view. I do not understand that the noble Earl who leads the House definitely desires us to postpone this Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE: Oh, no.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The 873 noble Earl is quite content that we should proceed with it, and as we are assembled to deal with this Bill in Committee I, for my part, see no reason why we should not go on. If my noble friend thought it well after this stage to wait until we were in possession of the Government Bill before proceeding further that might be a reasonable course, but at the very last moment, when we have assembled for one particular object, to postpone the proceedings would, I think, scarcely be treating your Lordships' House with respect.
On Question, Motion agreed to.
House in Committee accordingly.
§ [THE EARL OF ONSLOW in the CHAIR.]
§ Clause 1:
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH had a number of Amendments on the Paper to Clause 1, which ran—
§ "1.—(1) A brewer for side shall not use any hop substitute in the brewing or preservation of beer and shall not receive or have in his custody or possession on any entered premises any beer containing any hop substitute or in the brewing or preservation of which any hop substitute has been used or (except for domestic use the proof whereof shall lie on him) my hop substitute.
§ (2) If any brewer for sale uses any hop substitute in the brewing or preservation of beer or receives or has in his custody or possession any article in contravention of this section he shall incur an Excise penalty of one hundred pounds and the article shall be forfeited.
§ (3) For the purposes of this section—
§ The expression 'hop substitute' means any article substance or preservative other than hops capable of being used in the brewing or preservation of beer and includes any preparation of hops the use of which in brewing has not been previously sanctioned by the Commissioners for the time being having the management of the duties of Excise;
§ The expression 'beer' includes ale porter stout and any other description of beer and any liquor which is made or sold as a description of beer or as a substitute for beer and which on analysis of a sample thereof at any time is found to contain more than two per cent. of proof spirit;
§ The Amendments were to omit the words "or preservation" in each case where they appeared. The noble Lord moved, first, to leave out the words "or preservation" from the second line of the clause, and intimated that the decision of the Committee on this Amendment would rule the others standing in his name. The main 874 part of his case was that this Amendment was necessary to bring the noble Viscount's Bill into harmony with the Report of the Select Committee to which the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture had referred. No one denied that the hop industry was, in some respects, passing through a period of depression. That was frankly acknowledged in the Report of the Select Committee. That Committee went very thoroughly into the whole question, and made in its Report what he would venture to describe as a most masterly survey of the whole conditions affecting this industry. They proved, he thought to the satisfaction of any impartial person, that the main reason why the hop-growing industry was suffering depression was that the demand for hops had declined, while the supply, if. it had not increased, had not diminished at the same pace as the demand. Therefore, what was not unnatural in the circumstances, the price of the commodity had fallen. There was no doubt whatever, from the facts marshalled in the Report of the Select Committee, that less beer was being brewed, and that per barrel of beer less hops were being used.
Now came the point of controversy raised by his Amendment. No one denied, least of all did he or the Select Committee, that where substitutes of an improper or of a deleterious nature were used in place of hops, they ought, in the public interest, to be prohibited. There was no controversy on that point. The point of controversy appeared to be whether what were called preservatives and not substitutes should be regarded as so nearly substitutes that, along with other substitutes for hops, they ought to be prohibited. As he was informed, the chief reason why fewer hops were used was that a change had taken place in the public taste. That was strongly supported by the evidence before the Select Committee, whose Report contained this paragraph—
It is stated that the public taste demands a lighter, brighter, and therefore less heavily hopped beer than was formerly consumed; the substitution of glass vessels for pewter in the retail trade is said to have contributed to this result. The more aseptic methods of brewing adopted nowadays, and the practice of brewing beer for speedy consumption, have also rendered the use of hops for their preservative and antiseptic properties less necessary.
This Bill proposed to include, and to treat as substitutes, certain articles which the brewers said they used and valued not for
their substituting properties but for their antiseptic effect upon beer. They were not, therefore, substitutes in the strict sense of the term.
He believed the case for the hop-growers was this—and he wished to state the case as fairly as he could without raising the slightest unnecessary controversy—that, if used in sufficient quantities, hops, from their preservative qualities, would have the same effect as the other preservatives used by brewers. But in answer to that the brewers said that if they had to use hops in the quantity suggested by the hop-growers they would spoil their beer for the public taste, that the beer would not be so effectively preserved, and that it was an unfortunate circumstance that, so far as the preservative qualities of hops were concerned, foreign hops were better than English hops; and therefore, even if this Bill were to pass as it stood, it would not have the effect claimed by its promoters. No one, he thought, would deny that brewers were at least as likely to know the truth of the matter in their own interests as agriculturists; and they could quote not only the Report of the Select Committee which sat last year but also the Majority Report of the Beer Materials Committee which sat some ten years ago, and which, speaking of these preservatives, stated that—
None are used which are positively deleterious. There may be doubt, as to certain preservatives, whether they increase the wholesomeness of the beer or otherwise. But the importance of soundness in beer from the health point of view is so great that it would be most unwise to prohibit or discourage the use of preservatives generally. If it should be established that any particular preservative is objectionable we may trust to the vigilance of the Inland Revenue authorities, who have full power to prohibit the use of noxious or deleterious materials.
Unless it could be alleged that the articles used were in any way deleterious to the public interest it was unfair, even for the sake of doing a kindness to the growers of hops, to prohibit their use. There was no evidence whatever from anybody except those interested in the sale of hops that these articles were in any way deleterious; and his suggestion to their Lordships was that, however much one might sympathise with the unfortunate circumstances through which hop-growers were passing, it was not in accordance with sound practice or with good policy to dictate to those engaged in the manufac
ture of any article what materials they should use, unless it could be shown that the articles used were contrary to the public interest.
No one more regretted than himself the absence of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne. They were glad to know that the cause of his absence was likely to pass away, and that they would very soon see him in his accustomed place. He was confident that if the noble Marquess had been present he would have seen the point at issue, because it was perfectly clear that it was already more or less present to his mind when he made his speech on the Second Reading. On that occasion the noble Marquess said—
I confess that, in regard to the inclusion of preservatives—a point on which the Bill of my noble friend differs from the Bill of His Majesty's Government—I should like to hear a little more evidence before I commit myself to any definite view.
If the Amendment which he now begged to move, together with the others standing in his name on the Paper, were inserted it would bring the Bill back to the form of the Bill introduced by the Government in another place last year. That might or might not be regarded by the noble Viscount as a point in favour of the Amendment, but the real object which he had was to do what seemed right in the interests of everybody concerned; and they had behind them for that action not only the opinions of His Majesty's Government last year but the authority of the two Committees of the other House—the one which sat in 1908 and the one which sat in 1899.
In page 1, line[...]6, to leave out the words `or preservation.'" —(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
* VISCOUNT HARDINGE
opposed the Amendment. He did so for this reason, that any attempt to differentiate between hop substitutes and chemical preservatives was, to endeavour to assert that chemical preservatives were not hop substitutes, whereas every one knew that chemical preservatives were the principal substitute for hops in the man[...]uacture and preservation of beer. The large reduction in the quantity of hops consumed per barrel of beer was, he contended, mainly due to the use of chemical preservatives. How large 877 that reduction was it was difficult to estimate, for, as he stated on Second Reading, no Government Returns were kept with regard to this matter prior to 1901, which date, no doubt, was subsequent to the commencement of the reduction of the proportionate quantity of hops consumed. In 1901 the consumption of hops per barrel was 2.02 lbs., whilst in 1907 it had fallen to 1.85 lbs. per barrel. Those who felt so strongly the necessity of passing this Bill into law attributed the decreasing use of hops to the increasing use of chemical preservatives, and it was to the same cause that they attributed the decreasing popularity of beer as the national beverage and the consequent comparative depression in the brewing industry.
§ A large proportion of the British public naturally imagined teat what was intended by beer was a beverage brewed from malt and hops, and he maintained that it was the duty of that House to see that the consumer obtained the article for which he asked and paid. The advertisement columns of all the brewing trade papers clearly indicated the enormous amount of chemical preservatives used by brewers in brewing, and one could only wonder what an outcry there would be throughout the country if it were discovered that there was a similar traffic in chemical preservatives by dairy farmers. If any of our farmers were discovered using chemical preservatives in milk they would at once be prosecuted by the Local Government Board. Why should there be one law for the brewers and another for the farmers? If the use of chemical preservatives in milk was an offence against the law of the country, surely it ought to be equally wrong to add chemicals to a beverage so universally consumed as beer.
§ He claimed that the use of chemical preservatives in beer should be prohibited for three reasons. First, for the protection of the consumer, who imagined that when he asked for beer he was going to be supplied with a beverage brewed from malt and hops, and who was just as much entitled to receive that which he asked for as any other consumer who purchased an article such as, for instance, butter. Secondly, on the ground of public health, for if chemical preservatives in milk were injurious to health and undesirable, surely their use should be equally undesirable in beer. Thirdly, on the ground that all 878 preservatives used in beer were the most important of all hop substitutes; and it had already been decided, both by the Select Committee and by their Lordships in passing the Second Reading of this Bill, that the use of all substitutes for hops should be prohibited. The attempt to allow brewers to use chemical preservatives would, if successful, make the hop-grower purely a flavourer of beer instead of, as in the past, the flavourer and preserver of beer.
If chemicals were allowed to take the place of hops one of the very, foundations of the hop industry would be removed. Therefore, if they were content to stand by and see this great industry practically destroyed they would be driving more and more people away from the land; whilst if, on the other hand, they did their best to resuscitate the hop industry they would be furthering the movement of bringing the people back to the land. At the same time. by stamping beer with the Government hall-mark of purity they would be rendering a great service to the brewing interest. Beer would be brought back into popular favour, and the pernicious and growing habit of dram drinking among the working-classes would be checked. It was in the best interests of all concerned that the popular drink of the British public should be a good sound malt liquor, bittered and preserved by hops and absolutely devoid of chemicals and minerals, such as was brewed and consumed in Bavaria. Bavarian beer, though made from hops, was the lightest beer brewed, and this was the answer to the contention of the brewers that the exclusive use of hops would make beer too heavy. One witness, in giving evidence before the Select Committee on the Hop Industry—Q. 4857—declared that—
Hops do not give weight to beer or colour to beer; it is the malt that gives the gravity and colour to beer.
In the interests of agriculture and of all the trades allied to the hop industry—and there were many hundreds —he appealed to their Lordships not to mutilate the Bill but to reject the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK ,
while hoping that the Committee would not pass the Amendment, did not think that the Bill would be of very much advantage to the hop industry, the present position of which was such that much stronger 879 measures would be needed to set it on its legs again. If people were to be allowed to put anything into the beer that they liked to call preservatives things would be introduced simply for the sake of their cheapness and not for the advantage of the public. It had been stated that beer could not be preserved with hops without destroying its flavour. He remembered that when he was a boy at Eton sixty years ago he used to think Bass's pale ale was the best ale to be got in the kingdom, and that ale was brewed exclusively from malt and hops. Preservatives first began to be used in the early seventies, when there was a disastrous crop of hops in Kent. Brewers then found that they could get cheaper materials than hops, and from that time the use of hops had decreased. As to the argument that this decrease was due to the public taste requiring a lighter beer, he pointed out that some of the brightest beer in the world was brewed in Bavaria, where nothing but malt and hops was allowed to be used. He knew a firm in Maidstone which had no tied houses, and yet carried on an enormous trade, their beer, brewed from malt and hops, being more popular and lighter than any beer produced in the county. Their Lordships were told that they should not interfere with the brewers and their trade. He admitted that the brewers were in a very difficult position between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the consumer, or, in the words of the old proverb, "between the devil and the deep sea." Would it not be better for them to face all their difficulties at once, and while raising their price to the consumer to say they were going to raise the quality as well and give the consumer good malt and hops? Such a course would place the brewers in a much stronger position before the country. and would give gratification both to themselves and the consumers of beer. The noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture was constantly pointing out the importance of getting small-holders on the land. They were trying to do that in the county of Kent. In Germany a very large proportion of the hops was grown on land in the occupation of small-holders. He was a strong believer in the lucrative nature of hop-growing by small-holders who could do all the work on the land themselves, and he believed hops could be largely grown by small-holders in the county of Kent. He hoped their Lordships would reject the 880 Amendment, and in that way do something to facilitate placing small-holders in a favourable position in this matter, and not impede their sale of hops to the brewers by allowing in brewing adulteration which was not allowed in any other trade.
* LORD HARRIS
hoped the Committee would not accept the Amendment. It seemed to him that the proposition advanced by Lord Balfour was a very dangerous one—namely, that provided an article was not deleterious to the public it might be utilised apparently in any quantity in a manufactured article. Surely nobody would contend—he did not think the noble Lord him, elf would contend—that the public when ordering beer expected to get a composition of sugar and kalium metasulphite or salicylic and boracic acids. When they ordered beer they expected to get malt and hops. The Select Committee had clearly stated that hops were used to preserve beer. It was a tradition in this country, and up to a certain date it was founded on fact, that beer was brewed from malt and hops. The Select Committee of 1899 also stated that hops were used to preserve beer. Lord Balfour, in moving his Amendment, had made some extraordinary statements. One was that foreign hops were better than English hops. They knew where that statement came from. It came from Mr. Gretton.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said that what he stated was that it was borne out by some parts of the evidence given before the Select Committee that, so far as their purely preservative qualities were concerned, some foreign hops were more preservative than English.
* LORD HARRIS
did not think the noble Lord used the word "some" when he made his statement. It was quite true that there were some American and Bavarian hops which were actually better than the English for their preservative qualities, but they were grown in a very limited area; their quantity was very limited, and their price high; but for the bulk of the supply for the manufacture of beer in this country the English hop was, 881 and always had been, the best. For many decades in the last century it was the law that nothing but hops should be used as a preservative. The Act of 1816 laid down that any article or preparation used as a substitute for malt or hops could. be seized, and the brewer and retailer fined £200. That was the law for, he thought, seventy or eighty years until the free mash-tun was introduced. Since then preservatives had been used. He could quite understand that, from the brewer's point of view, it was a convenient exchange, as chemical preservatives were cheaper and could be handled more easily. But in giving up the use of hops brewers gave up something which improved the aroma of beer and made it a much more popular article than it was at present. On those grounds, he submitted that there was sound argument for the contention that the Bill should contain the provision which Lord Balfour sought to delete.
The calculation was that if about a ¼ lb. of preservative were used per barrel, it meant the total displacement of something like 78,000 cwt. of hops. That was quite a fair amount in the market sales of the year; and, having regard to the serious displacement that was taking place in the hop-growing counties as regarded labour, he trusted that the noble Earl who would be presently in charge of the Government Bill would take into serious consideration whether his Bill ought not to include this provision. He admitted that the Government were in an impartial position, because from their Budget proposals it appeared to be their desire to crush both the cultivator of hops and the producer of beer; but he suggested that if they wished to help the small cultivator and labourer as distinct from the farmer and the landowner they could do nothing better than to encourage the growth of hops. At the present moment cottages in the hop-growing districts were becoming vacant in large numbers, and families were being driven elsewhere, possibly into the towns; and, in addition, the urban population who secured healthful employment for a month or six weeks in the country each year hop-picking were finding this occupation going. On all the grounds he had stated, he appealed to their Lordships not to accept the Amendment.
§ LORD ADDINGTON
failed to see any reason why England should be behind 882 Bavaria in this matter. An official publication dealing with the common rules concerning the statutes and customs of the Principality of Upper and Lower Bavaria, and bearing the date of 1516, contained this enactment—Wheresoever in our towns, markets and rural districts, it is forbidden to employ other material beyond barley, hops, and water for the making of beer.This was renewed in an Ordinance of Beer dated 1616. This law was reaffirmed by an Ordinance of April 25, 1811, and by the law of November 10, 1861, which was still in force. Then there was the law of May 16, 1868, which, in Article 7, after repeating that beer should be made only of hops, malt, and water, added that it was especially forbidden to use barley that had not been converted into malt, or that was mixed, partly barley, partly malt. Then, again, the Select Committee of last year came to the conclusion that no substances having at once the aromatic flavour and preservative qualities of hops were known to science. It was, therefore, ridiculous to say that Parliament could not insist upon hops only being used for this purpose.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH ,
in reply, expressed the hope that some information would be vouchsafed by the Government as to whether or not their Bill dealt with this point. He thought the Committee were entitled to some guidance from the Government on this matter. Lord Hardinge had stated that the figures showed that the amount of hops per barrel had greatly diminished. Nobody denied that. His suggestion, in answer to that statement, was that it was not ad rein. According to those who instructed him (Lord Balfour), the diminution in the amount of hops used was largely owing to a change of taste on the part of the public, who preferred a beer brewed with less hops. He did not for a moment think that that would be agreed to by persons engaged in the hop industry, but that was the opinion of those who brewed the beer, and they were entitled to have an opinion of their own.
The question of preservatives in other articles, notably in milk, had been mentioned. He ventured to suggest that those articles stood on a different footing. Milk, after all, was not, or ought not to be, a manufactured article. The moment a preservative partook of the nature of 883 adulteration, or was contrary to public health, or was used in undue quantities it ought to be prohibited, whether the preservative was used in milk, beer, or anything else. But it was obvious that there was a wide difference between the use of preservatives in beer and their use in an article which ought to be sold absolutely pure if they were used in any sense more than was necessary to keep the article in its pristine state until it reached the consumer. If preservatives in milk were used so as to enable the owner to delay its consumption until its constitution was changed by processes of decay, that, of course, was contrary to the public interest. If it could be proved, or even suggested, that the articles which were called preservatives by the brewers were used for any purpose of that kind he would be the last to support the practice. It was no use to say that hops were preservatives, and therefore should be the only preservative used. The point on the part of those whom he was for the moment representing was that there were other articles which were not only in themselves absolutely harmless, but were better preservatives and were more agreeable to the public taste than hops.
The noble Lords, Lord Cranbrook and Lord Harris ,
speaking for the hop-growing section of agriculture, touched more nearly the real reasons behind this proposal. Those reasons were stated very clearly in a paper which he received the previous day from the Hopgrowers', Labourers', Pickers', and Allied Industries Defence League. That body put forward the statement that in the demand that the use of all hop substitutes, including preservatives, should be prohibited, the hop industry was supported by practically the whole of the organised bodies representing agriculture. They added that the Bill had also the warm support of very numerous and very large industries closely allied with the interests of the hop-growing section of agriculture, and that it was difficult for those not connected with hop-growing to appreciate how large and varied were the industries implicated. In its essence, their case was a plea for protection. Their Lordships were not dealing with a demand for a 40s. or 50s. duty per cwt. on foreign hops, but at the back of the minds of many noble Lords who were opposing his Amendment was the view that the Bill 884 as it stood would, in essence, be a measure of Protection. He hoped the Committee would accept his Amendment.
§ LORD HENEAGE
protested against the last statement of the noble Lord, and said that the measure was in no respect Protectionist in character. He had been connected in earlier years with members in the House of Commons who year after year brought in a Pure Beer Bill, and all those hon. members were Free Traders. He was not a Tariff Reformer, but was not such a hide-bound Free Trader that he could not see some value in a commonsense Bill like this. Without going again into all the questions dealt with by his noble friends behind him, he could see another reason why the Amendment should not be accepted. If their Lordships accepted the Amendment they would be reversing all that had been done in accepting the Second Reading of the Bill. In agreeing to the Second Reading I heir Lordships had accepted the principle of pure beer, but Lord Balfour's Amendment would, if adopted, make the Bill useless as a pure beer measure. Therefore he hoped, not only on the merits of the hop question itself, but in order to be consistent with their own action when they read the Bill a second time, their Lordships would reject the Amendment.
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
urged that the time had arrived when their Lordships should receive some indication from the Government as to their attitude with respect to the Amendment. In spite of what had been said by the noble Lord who had been said by the Noble Lord who had just sad down, personally he had never listened to a series of arguments of a more purely Protectionist character. Lord Heneage had declared that if the Amendment were adopted their Lordships would be stultifying themselves, because they had accepted the Second Reading of the Bill, the principle of which the Amendment would destroy. He did not think his noble friend could have heard the quotation read by Lord Balfour from the speech of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition on the Second Reading, because in that quotation the noble Marquess expressly reserved his opinion upon this point. It was, therefore, manifest that the noble Marquess was in no way committed to a view one way or the other on this point. Lord Lansdowne had assented to the Second 885 Reading leaving this point quite open, and he would, therefore, have protested against the suggestion of Lord Heneage that in entertaining the point now they were stultifying what was done on Second Reading.
Like his noble friend below him (Earl Carrington), he was unfortunately in the grip of influenza when the Second Reading of Lord Hardinge's Bill was taken, or otherwise he would have entered an emphatic protest against a Bill so thoroughly Protectionist in character. He desired to know what was the attitude of His Majesty's Government on this question. Here was an issue which nakedly raised the question, "Shall you prohibit the use of hop substitutes when the substitutes are not suggested to be deleterious?" Why should they prohibit the use of alternative preservatives in order to buttress the hop-growing industry? If it were a sufficient argument that this industry must be buttressed, then they were committing themselves to a purely Protectionist policy. Surely His Majesty's Government could not sit by and assent without a word to the determination of an issue involving that policy.
The noble Lord
opposite, Lord Harris, had said that what was now proposed was for many decades the law of the land, and that the law then prohibited the use of anything but malt and hops in the manufacture of beer. The fact that that prohibition had bee a removed surely raised some presumption that there was a reason for removing it—either that the prohibition was found to be impolitic, or that there was some reason existing when it was imposed which had ceased to be operative when it was dropped. He suggested that the prohibition against the use of substitutes in earlier years was adopted on account of the Revenue. The use of substitutes was prohibited when there was a malt and hop duty, the prohibition in that way protecting the Revenue; but when the duty ceased the reason for the prohibition no longer existed. It was obvious that hops might not be the only preservative which could be used in the brewing of beer. Why, therefore, should Parliament declare that hops should be the only preservative to be used?
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
said this was a question which could best be decided between the brewer and the consumer of beer.
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
said the statement had been made, in the course of the discussion, that there were still some brewers who brewed from nothing but malt and hops, so that the consumer had a chance.
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
said that if the consumer to-day preferred the light, modern mixtures of beer, in the making of which hops were little used, the consumer must be left to decide that for himself. As far as he knew, no pistol was placed at the head of the consumer of beer in the matter, and, in spite of tied houses, the consumer could make his choice. If the consumer had any clear views on the subject of preservatives the brewer would soon find it necessary to consult his taste. The reasons which had been given for the prohibition of other preservatives than hops were simply in the nature of a plea to buttress and to protect the hop industry. He felt sympathy for all interests affected by changes of fashion, of taste, and of conditions of life. It was a thing they had to face. Every step forward in the progress of society involved a diminution in the demand for some industry, if not its absolute destruction. But Parliament did not have resort to an Act to say that people should use hansom cabs and should not use motor cabs, or to say that ships should be made of oak or teak and not of iron.
There had been a growing public taste for the lighter form of beer which did not demand the use of hops, or at least which had caused a great diminution in the demand for hops, and here was an array of noble Lords—he was very sorry to see it, because he felt that it would affect seriously the respect paid to their Lordships' House in the country—reviving the old worn-out arguments in favour of Protection. The conduct of the debate had become a mere futility and nothing would come of it, because there were forces existing which would prevent this kind 887 of legislation from being carried into effect. He protested against it, not only because he disbelieved utterly in the policy which lay at the root of the legislation proposed, but because he thought it derogatory to the character of their Lordships' House to go back to these old arguments. Here they had the naked issue of Protection brought before the House. Were the Government going to say nothing upon it?
§ LORD JOICEY
said that, though he claimed to be as strong a Free Trader as there was in their Lordships' House, he took a different view of the subject from that of his noble friend Lord Courtney. He thought the subject of preservatives one well worthy of the attention of their Lordships. To-day preservatives were being used to an enormous extent in connection with our food, and he believed the question would be forced on the serious attention of Parliament before long. At breakfast they found doses of boracic acid in their ham and bacon, butter, cream, and milk; and he could not help thinking that the consumption of these preservatives among their food in constant small doses could not be otherwise than injurious to health. Individual consumers could not protect themselves, and many of them were perfectly ignorant of what they were consuming. Other countries had taken action in the matter, and Germany, he believed, would not allow bacon and ham to be imported if it had been cured by borax. He suggested that His Majesty's Government should bring in a Bill to deal with the question of preservatives as a whole.
§ LORD MARCHAMLEY
said that, as one who knew a little about the brewing of beer, he agreed with Lord Balfour of Burleigh that there was a great deal of confusion in the minds of noble Lords in regard to this question. The effect of preservatives was to put the beer out of condition for a short time, and therefore as a preservative nobody would use chemicals if he could possibly help it. He agreed that there was at the back of the minds of noble Lords who were supporting the Bill a good deal more than the question of the preservation of beer. He saw the cloven hoof of Protection, and, that being so, he would unhesitatingly 888 support the Amendment if Lord Balfour went to a Division.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
said the Committee had listened to a most extraordinary speech from Lord Courtney. They now understood that it was impossible to be a true and genuine Free Trader unless one was at the same time a firm believer in chemical beer. Lord Courtney had taken under his wing chemical ingredients, some of which tended to increase thirst and others to interfere with digestion.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
said that for ages past hops had been shown to be absolutely sufficient for the preservation of beer. In old days beer was kept more than twenty years, and was preserved entirely by the hops that were in it. It was also known that the purest and best light beer could be brewed entirely from hops. Indeed, in Bavaria it was absolutely penal to use anything but malt, hops, and water in making beer. Salicylic acid, one of the preservatives mentioned, was described in Squires' Companion to the British Pharmacopœia as, amongst other things—antiseptic and powerfully antipyretic; is rather irritating to the stomach; a good preservative of medical solutions; is very useful when applied to hard and soft corns.What its effect might be on hard and soft corns when taken internally was not stated, but, however beneficial, it was doubtful whether those who mere not suffering from corns hard or soft would care to take a remedy of which they were not in need. This was not a question of Free Trade or Protection. The question was, "What is beer?" Beer had always been acknowledged to be brewed from malt, hops, and water, and not from salicylic acid. It would be good for the brewer and consumer alike if the confidence in British beer were restored. He admitted that the brewer was suffering now and was going to suffer more, but he believed that when he raised the price of his commodity to find the taxes for the Government, if at the same time he would improve the quality of his beer he would extend his trade.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD ,
as a convinced Free Trader, supported the Bill as it stood. He could see nothing of a 889 Protectionist character in the Bill itself. What might be at the back of the mind of any noble Lord in voting for the Bill seemed to him to be irrelevant on the present occasion. It was the Bill itself which the Committee had to consider. He was opposed to the Amendment for two reasons. English people had hitherto understood beer to be a liquid composed of malt and hops. If the brewers were substituting other materials, he ventured to think they were stealing the name of the real beer. Just as he felt when having butter with his breakfast that he ought to have some security that it was not margarine, so with regard to beer—though he did not drink beer himself—he thought it only fair not to allow the name of beer to be given to a new material without properly informing the public what it was they were purchasing and drinking. He had in objection to brewers brewing whatever liquid they chose so long as they called it by another name. His other point was that if they were to forbid substitutes but to allow preservatives the attempt was perfectly futile. They could not do the two things. They must either prohibit these chemicals whether under the name of preservatives or substitutes, or else admit them freely without any restriction whatever. For those two reasons he would be compelled to vote against the Amendment.
§ EARL CAWDOR
said their Lordships were placed in a somewhat unfortunate position with reference to the action of His Majesty's Government. As the appeal of Lord Courtney had had no effect on the President of the Board of Agriculture, he could not hope that any words of his would extract an opinion from the noble Earl. He asked their Lordships to recall what was said earlier in the discussion. They first of all had a statement from the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture that, as far as this Bill was concerned, His Majesty's Government proposed to take no part whatever in the discussion. But when attention was called to that statement the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who he was sorry was not now in his place, stated that, on the contrary, the Government had no intention of standing aloof from the discussion of the Bill in Committee. He did not know what Earl Carrington's opinion of standing aloof was, but the noble Earl had been making a very good attempt at 890 it in the course of the present discussion.
What was the objection of His Majesty's Government to making any statement with regard to this Amendment? The Government had agreed to the Second Reading of the Bill and had stated, through their mouthpiece, that they were practically agreed on the Bill, except with regard to certain detailed Amendments. As far as he knew, the only difference between them and the Government was the question of preservatives. How did the noble Earl the President of the Board of Agriculture deal with it in his Bill? Did he deal with it at all? Was the Bill yet in its final shape? Possibly the reticence of the noble Earl was due to his being in the same position as his colleague the Leader of the House, who had stated that he had not the slightest idea what the Bill contained. Of course, if the noble Earl did not know what was in the Bill the Committee could not press him further. But he thought they were entitled to ask whether this matter of preservatives was the fundamental difference between the Government's Bill and Lord Hardinge's, and, if so, whether the Government were going to vote for Lord Balfour's Amendment or against it. Surely this was a simple question, and one to which they were entitled to a reply.
Hop substitutes generally in the manufacture of beer were to be prohibited by the Bill, and it was also proposed that that should extend to preservatives other than hops. If they were going to exclude all hop substitutes except a particular one for the purpose of preservation, surely they wanted a very strong case to be made out before making the exception mentioned in the Amendment. If they were to deal with this matter at all they should deal with hop substitutes right through, and so far no case had been made out for making a definite and clear difference between the preservatives and the ordinary hop substitutes. He would vote against the Amendment.
On Question, whether the words "or preservation" should stand part of the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 43; Not-contents, 8.891
|Wellington, D.||Falkland, V.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Hardinge, V. [Teller]||Desborough, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Hill, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Camden, M.||Hutchinson V. (E.Donoughmore.)||Forester, L.|
|Knutsford, V.||Harris, L. [Teller.]|
|Amherst, E.||Milner, V.||Heneage, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Joicey, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Hereford, L. Bp.||Lawrence, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Ludlow, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Abinger, L.||Muskerry, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Addington, L.||Newton, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Brassey, L.||Northbourne, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton).||Saltoun, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Waldegrave E.||Clinton, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Westmeath, E.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Balfour, L. [Teller.]||Glantawe, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Courtney of Penwith, L.||Haversham, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L. [Teller.]|
|Eversley, L.||Lochee, L.|
§ Amendment negatived accordingly.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH ,
in announcing that he should not move his other proposed Amendments to this clause, said that after long experience of their Lordships' House he ventured to say that anything less courteous to the House than the treatment of it by the Government that day he had never witnessed.
moved to amend the definition of "hop substitute," which ran—The expression 'hop substitute' means any article substance or preservative other than hops capable of being used in the brewing or preservation of beer and includes any preparation of hops the use of which in brewing has not been previously sanctioned by the Commissioners for the time being having the management of the duties of Excise.He moved to insert, after the words "The expression 'hop substitute' means any," the word "bitter." He explained that the subsection as originally drafted was open to criticism as regarded its wording. The intention was to prohibit the use of anything except hops to preserve and bitter and impart aroma to malt liquor.
In page 1, line 17, after the word 'any' to insert the word
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.892
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
moved to amend the definition of "beer," which ran—The expression 'beer' includes ale porter stout and any other description of beer and any liquor which is made or sold as a description of beer or as a substitute for beer and which on analysis of a sample thereof at any time is found to contain more than two per cent. of proof spirit,by inserting, after the words "and any other description of beer," the words "except black beer and spruce beer." He explained that the Amendment would not exclude porter, because beer was defined as including ale, porter, and stout. But black beer and spruce beer were always excepted in Inland Revenue Bills dealing with this subject, and the insertion of the words in the definition in this Bill was necessary from the drafting point of view.
Amendment moved—In page 1, line 25, after the word 'beer,' to insert the words 'except black beer and spruce beer.'"—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
had two Amendments on the Paper to subsection (1). The subsection ran—No hops shall be imported into the United Kingdom except in bags or packets having marked on the outside thereof with durable ink or paint in 893 plain and legible words and figures of not less than three inches in length and half an inch in breadth the particulars following (that is to say):—
He first moved to insert, in line (b), after the word "country," the words "and district and the parish or place." The object was to make it quite clear that the importer of foreign hops should be placed in exactly the same position as the home grower.
- The name of the grower of the hops;
- The name of the country in which the hops were grown.
- The parish or postal address of the grower;
- The year in which the hops were grown; and
- The gross weight of each bag or pocket; and if any hops are imported into the United Kingdom in contravention of this section the importer shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds for every such bag or pocket."
Amendment moved—In page 2, line 14, after the word 'country,' to insert the words 'and district and the parish or place.'"—(Lord Desborough.)894 On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
then moved his second Amendment, which was to delete line (c).
Amendment moved—In page 2, line 15, to leave out the words '(c) The parish or postal address of the grower;'"—(Lord Desborough.)
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
Remaining clause agreed to.
Standing Committee negatived, and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 55.)
§ House adjourned at ten minutes past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.