§ MR. BANISTER FLETCHER (Wilts, Chippenham)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If his attention has been called to the fact that the Excise Officers have interfered with and stopped the sale of Herb Beer, and if he will state why there has been any interference with the manufacture and sale of this non-intoxicating beverage; and, if he 368 is prepared to propose such an alteration in the law relating to non-intoxicating liquors as shall place their manufacture and sale upon a more satisfactory footing?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
, in reply, said, he had had an opportunity of examining this question, and the fact was that, according to the law, no beer could be brewed under the name of herb beer which had more than two degrees of alcohol; but the Inland Revenue did not interfere if it was under three degrees of proof spirit—that was to say, that they did not take notice of the fractions between two and three degrees of proof spirits. If these liquors were brewed stronger than that they practically became beer in the ordinary sense of the word, and ought to be so treated. Some of these non-intoxicating liquors sold as temperance drinks had been found to be of considerably greater strength than London porter. He found that it was the fact that many of these temperance drinks were popular in proportion to the number of degrees of proof spirit which they contained. The consequence was that, for the protection of the Revenue, it was impossible to allow drinks of this character to be treated as non-intoxicating if they contained more than three degrees of proof spirit.