HC Deb 22 February 1916 vol 80 cc582-3W

asked the Minister of Munitions (1) whether in all centres in which the Control Board's Regulations have been applied, a general consensus of opinion Has concerted in the statement that home drinking had greatly increased, with very prejudicial effects upon the rising generation; whether he will appoint a Departmental Committee to inquire into the working of the Orders and report promptly on the matter; and (2) whether his attention has been called to the statement of the secretary of the Police Court Mission to the effect that the Central Control Board's Regulation that spirits could only be purchased by the bottle has had a bad effect by inducing home drinking of a worse character than public-house drinking, and that it was inducing persons to club together to buy bottles of spirits; and whether he will now advise the Central Control Board to permit the purchase of spirits by the quartern or half-quartern?


As I told my hon. Friend on 23rd December, these matters are being carefully watched. The time of the operation of the Orders at present is insufficient to provide reliable data as to their effect on home drinking, but the Board is not aware of any such consensus of opinion as that referred to by my hon. Friend.


asked the Minister of Munitions whether, seeing that, on the passage of the Defence of the Realm (No. 3) Act, dealing with liquor restrictions, he gave an undertaking that the Government would not proceed with anything which could be regarded as controversial and that action would not be taken without the support of local sentiment and that there should be as little disturbance as possible with existing arrangements, and that, in regard to the Control Board Orders for London, Manchester, and Hull, controversy has arisen on the advisability of imposing the Orders, that in each case local sentiment had decided so definitely against the Orders that the Control Board refused to publish or even submit to Parliament the evidence on which the Orders were based, and that many persons had been prosecuted in the Police Courts and disturbance created in consequence of the impositions of the London Order, he proposes to take any action in the matter?


The matters referred to in the question cover so much ground that they do not appear suitable for dealing with by way of question and answer. I may say, however, that I cannot endorse the suggestions of my hon. Friend, especially that local sentiment is on the whole against the Orders. The question of the appropriate action to be taken depends upon a variety of considerations of which the most important is an increase of efficiency in munition output.