HC Deb 05 December 1912 vol 44 cc2501-3W

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he has been informed that the Weights and Measures Act, 1878, has not been generally enforced in the case of beer casks used as measures by brewers for sale, and that such measures are extensively of defective capacity and in others negligently filled, imposing loss upon all classes of purchasers, especially in the case of licensed retailers of beer in the United Kingdom and upon the public services of the country; and whether he will see that the local authorities of the country, who were prevented by the Board of Trade from making such tests by a letter of legal advice, issued by the Department on 26th January, 1895, are in future permitted to carry out the Weights and Measures Act in the areas under their authority; (2) whether it has come to his knowledge that licensed retailers of malt liquors, being tied tenants of brewers in a majority of instances in the country, are not able to complain of shortage in beer casks by lack of capacity in casks and by negligent filling of casks, as they fear the consequences by loss on removal at short notice, and have to bear any loss by such measures; and, seeing that inspectors of weights and measures in parts of the country say that they have difficulty in making tests of beer casks for shortage, whether he will say what action he proposes to take; and (3) whether his attention has been called to the fact that, on the 26th January, 1895, the Board of Trade, in their letter to the Warwickshire County Council, by paragraphs two, three and four, advised that council that brewers' casks not having any permanent mark of their capacity or measure of their contents the exemption in Section 22 applies to them; whether he is aware that this Section applies to beer glasses not used or offered as measures, that the Section 29 of 41 and 42 Vic, c. 49, states every measure whatsoever used for trade should be verified and stamped by an inspector with a stamp of verification under this Act, every person who uses or has in his possession for trade any measure not stamped as required by this Section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £5, or in the case of a second offence £10, and shall be liable to forfeit the said measure, and any contract, bargain, sale, or dealing made by such measure shall be void; and whether he will instruct the local authorities of the country to proceed to carry out the Act?


I will answer these questions together. The Board of Trade understand that beer casks are not customarily used as measures of capacity, but as carrying vessels, and they are therefore of opinion that the Weights and Measures Acts do not apply to beer casks generally. If casks are used as measures and are not stamped the users are liable to prosecution under the Weights and Measures Acts, and furthermore, in cases in which there is a false description of the quantity of beer delivered it is open to the persons aggrieved to take proceedings under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887. Licensed retailers consequently have their remedy when supplied with short measure, and I do not see that the Board of Trade can take any action in the matter. So far as the Weights and Measures Acts are concerned, the position as regards beer glasses is the same as that in regard to beer casks, but the Licensing (Consolidation) Act, 1910, provides that "all intoxicating liquor which is sold by retail and not in cask or bottle, and is not sold in a quantity less than half a pint, shall be sold in measures marked according to the Imperial standards." I have no power to instruct local authorities to proceed under the Weights and Measures Act, 1878.