HL Deb 30 June 1966 vol 275 cc780-3

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Motion that appears in my name on the Order Paper. Your Lordships may recall that Part VI of Schedule 4 to the Weights and Measures Act 1963 has the effect that draught beer or cider can be sold by retail for consumption on the premises of the seller only in a capacity measure of the quantity in question. In practice the liquor is sold either in a brim glass or mug—that is, in a vessel to contain only the exact amount sold—or else in a glass marked with a line to show how high up the liquor must come. Neither type of vessel may be used before an inspector of weights and measures has duly tested and stamped it.

Since the passage of the 1963 Act, the Board of Trade have examined and approved a number of patterns of beer-measuring instruments which dispense a measured quantity of liquor. Last year the Board made the Measuring Instruments (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1965 (S.I. 1965 No. 1815), which prescribed these instruments under Section 11 of the Act with effect from the end of July of this year. Thereafter it will be unlawful for a licensee to measure out liquor by means of any instrument of this type unless it has been made to an approved pattern and has been tested and stamped by an inspector. These instruments have been and are being introduced at a number of licensed premises, but as the law stands the liquor has still to be delivered into a stamped and tested capacity measure.

Now that these instruments have been found to be reliable, and now that their use for trade is being brought under control it is desirable to permit full advantage to be taken of the benefits that can result. With a brim mug there is always the likelihood that some of the liquor will spill over on to the bar counter or the table. A bigger glass or vessel for serving the liquor would be much more hygienic. In the case of a line glass it is not always easy for the seller to see quickly when the right quantity has been drawn—that is to say, to see when the liquor has come up to the line. The measuring instrument will, however, dispense the right amount automatically. There is also the point that unstamped glasses will cost less than stamped ones and their use will result in the saving of inspectors' time devoted to testing them.

Subject to certain conditions, therefore, this proposed Order will permit beer or cider which has been dispensed through a stamped measuring instrument to be sold in drinking vessels which are not capacity measures. The exemption is limited to those cases where, after the customer has ordered the drink, he or the licensee's other customers in the same bar or other part of the premises can watch the liquor being discharged directly into the glass. The exemption therefore does not apply where, for instance, a waiter brings the drink from a back room. In theory there may be some objection to the proposed order, on the ground that the customer will no longer be able to verify the quantity delivered by eye. But the decision in the case of Marshall v. Searle has weakened the protection of the stamped glass, since the High Court decided in that case that the froth on Guinness could legitimately be counted as part of the pint or half-pint. If a dispenser is used the scope for giving the customer less than the quantity he ordered is reduced, because the regulations for testing the dispensers require the proper quantity of liquid—excluding gas in froth—to be delivered.

Another plea that I would put for speedy acceptance of this very valuable Order is, that a recent development has now introduced a new element of urgency. The licensing justices in a certain city, Manchester to be precise, have granted a licence for selling liquor on the football ground of Manchester United, where World Cup games will be played next month, on condition that the liquor is sold in light-weight plastic containers. We estimate that if these containers, which are to be used once only, had to be tested and stamped, the cost would be at least 9d. a container. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Weights and Measures (Exemption) (Beer and Cider) Order 1966 laid before the House on 14th June 1966 be approved.—(Lord Rhodes.)

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for his explanation, which I think all your Lordships have enjoyed. Certainly the noble Lord enjoyed himself. I am certain that the safeguards that have been devised in connection with this Motion will be thought to be adequate. Indeed, I think I am right in saying that the only reason why provision was not made in the Act at the time was because the instruments, as the noble Lord described them, were not yet perfected and were not yet thought to be fully reliable. As he has assured us that they can now be tested and are fully reliable, I am sure that the House will not wish to oppose this Motion in any way. It may be that when these new instruments are first introduced into public-houses, they will give rise to a certain amount of argument, until the public becomes accustomed to them, but we hope that in this case seeing, at any rate, will be believing.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question on paragraph IV of Article 1? Does this imply that the measuring instrument must be installed in such a position that it can be seen by the customer who has actually ordered that particular drink; or is it in order for it to be installed in such a position, say in the saloon bar, that customers in general can see?


My Lords, both.

On Question, Motion agreed to.