§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD RHAYADER
My Lords, I have a Petition from the Grand Lodge Executive 411 of the International Order of Good Templars to present in favour of this Bill.
§ Petitions ordered to lie on the Table.
§ LORD ARNOLD
My Lords, I have always regarded it as a great privilege that any noble Lord can introduce a Bill on any subject at any tune in your Lordships' House. I at any rate cannot be accused of having abused that privilege, because I have been a member of your Lordships' House now for eleven years and this is the first occasion on which I have presented a Bill of my own, though I have from time to time put down Motions for discussion. Indeed, on the last occasion when I did that, a few weeks ago, I was so fortunate as to secure unanimous assent for the propositions which I then advanced. I am afraid that with every desire to look on the bright side, it would be too much to hope that there should be equal harmony to-day.
I am fully aware, speaking from some experience, that any question or discussion touching the drink problem is highly controversial. Nevertheless, this Bill is urgently demanded. It is demanded by the great growth of drink advertisements in the last year or two. Drink advertisements are not new, and advertisements for the sale of beer are not new, but there has been a great growth in them recently, and particularly in advertisements for the sale of beer. Some years ago, in 1932, the Royal Commission reported that drink advertisements amounted at times almost to a public nuisance. Since the beginning in December, 1933, of the brewers' campaign for advertising beer, they amount, in my submission, to a public danger. Consider the position. It is common ground that the sale of drink ought to be controlled and restricted. There is no disagreement about that. That is because of the danger to the community if this trade were left uncontrolled and unrestricted. Hence we have our licensing system. No one can sell drink without a licence, and the licences themselves are subject to severe restrictions and regulations. It is quite inconsistent with and antagonistic to this state of things that those in the trade should be allowed complete liberty to push the sale of drink by unrestricted advertising appeals, many of which are specious and many of which are also— 412 and here I am quoting the words of the Royal Commission—"palpable scientific untruths."
As I have said, drink advertisements are not new. They are by no means new; but the latest development of them through the brewers' campaign constitutes a new feature and a new danger. The psychological effect of persistent mass advertising is well known; by it you can sell almost anything at any time. The brewers are advantage of this new weapon in taking campaign. This mass campaign of advertising was commenced, as I have said, in December, 1933, largely at the instance of Sir Edgar Sanders, who had shortly before then become director of the Brewers' Society. Tubes, omnibuses, trams and hoardings, wherever you look, on every hand, are plastered with advertisements asking people to drink some intoxicating drink or other, mostly beer. Anyone waiting for a tube train and looking at the opposite platform can see the wall plastered with drink advertisements. Sometimes nearly every other advertisement is an appeal to drink something or other.
What was the reason for this brewers' campaign Why was it started? It was started because the temperance cause was making too much progress to please the brewers. Year after year of temperance propaganda, the improvement in the standard of life of the people, better education, temperance teaching in schools, a large reduction in the licensed hours—these and similar factors were having their effect and drunkenness was steadily decreasing. From 1913 to 1932 there was an enormous reduction in the prosecutions for drunkenness. In 1913 such prosecutions numbered 213,188, and by 1932 they had fallen to 35,407. The brewers became alarmed; they felt that something must be done to stop this fall in drunkenness and in the sale of beer. That they were alarmed, and that these were the reasons which led to that campaign, does not admit of argument. I can prove it, so to speak, to five places of decimals.
Sir Edgar Sanders himself, in a recent letter to the Brewers' Trade Association, asked for subscriptions to the brewers' campaign, and, dealing with the inception of that campaign and referring to 413 the declining sales of beer at that time, said this:With the increase of the population there should have been a continuous rise in the sales of beer since the War, whereas the contrary has been the fact, and it was felt that the position had become so serious"—those are his words—that it was urgently necessary to make a great national effort to arrest the falling consumption.So, my Lords, the campaign was started. It was felt in particular by the brewers that the young people coming to adult years must be got to drink, because the rising generation was not drinking in anything like the same degree as previous generations. There again, it will not be disputed by anybody that that was one of the main objects of the brewers' campaign: to get young people to drink. To prove that I will give two quotations, from a speech which Sir Edgar Sanders made.
These sentences, which I will read to your Lordships, have often been quoted before and will no doubt often be quoted again. They are sure of a lasting and unenviable notoriety in the history of the drink trade. The first quotation is from a speech made by Sir Edgar at one of the meetings launching this campaign:Unless you can attract the younger generation to take the place of the older men, there is no doubt that we shall have to face a steadily falling consumption of beer.That is the first quotation. The second quotation is this:We want new customers. We want to get the beer-drinking habit instilled into thousands, almost millions of young men who do not at present know the taste of beer.So the intention of this campaign is perfectly clear. It is designed to make people" and especially young people, drink and drink more, and to do this as a matter of ordinary business. Just as we have had in this country the "Eat more fish," the "Eat more fruit" and the "Drink more milk" campaigns, so we are to have the "Drink more beer." campaign. Beer is to be treated just like any other saleable commodity or article.
This vast expenditure which has since taken place is to push the products of an industry of which Lord Buckmaster, speaking from that Bench, in one of those eloquent speeches which he delivered in your Lordships' House, used these words:This industry stands by itself. There is no other industry you can think of whose 414 prosperity must be measured in terms of national thriftlessness and in terms of national degradation.It is because of considerations like those, so powerfully put forward by Lord Buckmaster, that the drink trade is restricted by law with the object of reducing the amount of drink sold. Yet those engaged in that traffic are at the present time—and they are taking full advantage of the fact—at liberty to spend immense sums of money to increase the sale of drink. That means, as I will show your Lordships, increased drunkenness. My contention is that this is an untenable state of things, that it ought to be stopped or at any rate checked, and that this Bill will check it.
Before I proceed further, I would like to call attention to a noteworthy circumstance, and it is this, that five years ago, Sir Edgar Sanders adopted a totally' different attitude towards drink advertisements. Two or three years before he became a director, or the director, of the Brewers' Society, he did not approve, or organise, drink advertisements. He thought that they were a bad thing, and he said that they were a bad thing. Before the Royal Commission in 1930 he was asked:What is your view about the amount of advertising that is done now—recommending the purchase of alcoholic beverages?His definite reply was:I think it is a bad thing.''So there you have it on record that the man who became later largely responsible for this campaign, gave it as his considered opinion, before the Royal Commission, that drink advertisements are a bad thing. After that, I do not think very much more argument is required.
I will proceed to give your Lordships examples of the misleading, not to say untrue, advertisements which this Bill would stop. I admit that in advertising a certain amount of overstatement seems to be one of the fundamental principles, if principle it can be called. Dr. Parker used to say that it often required an over-representation to make an adequate impression, and advertising seems to proceed on that principle. But some of these drink advertisements go far beyond what is permissible, making all allowance for the ethics, if that is the word, of advertising. I will give your Lordships three or four specific examples of advertisements to which the strongest 415 exception should be taken. I will begin with an advertisement which only comparatively recently appeared on the hoardings:For an A1 Nation Beer is Best.Those words imply that in order to achieve maximum health and strength beer should be the staple drink; in short, that really there is no better beverage than beer; that it is a better drink than tea, and, I suppose, better than milk. Also, if it is the best drink, it is the best drink for women as well as men, and for young men and young women.
What is beer when you analyse it, and 'how much nourishment is there in a half-pint glass of beer? Sir Edgar Sanders—he is really about the most useful witness the temperance cause has got—before he became director of the Brewers' Society, was asked what are the real qualities of beer, and to this he replied: "Alcohol chiefly." In answer to a further question, he said that alcohol is the staple ingredient of beer, yet in not one of the advertisements is there the remotest reference to alcohol, and still less any suggestion that it is the staple ingredient of beer. When we are told that "For an A1 nation beer is best, "surely that implies that there is much nourishment in beer. Indeed, one of the advertisements says there is, for it reads: "Rich Nourishment in Every Glass.'' The truth is that there is practically no nourishment in beer. Beers vary a little, but there is only about as much nourishment in a half-pint glass of beer as there is in about three-fifths of an ounce of bread, costing about one-sixteenth of a penny, and for the same expenditure there is about twenty-two times as much nourishment in milk as there is in beer. I ask your Lordships, is it right, in these circumstances, to plaster the hoardings with these advertisements, urging people—and we are told it is specially designed to get young people—to drink? To deceive people who do not know the facts, and who are told again and again that "For an A1 nation beer is best"?
I come next to an advertisement equally well-known:Guinness is Good for You.In fact this advertisement is better known, because it has been before our eyes for years now. It has been so drilled into the public mind that a widespread illusion has been created that stout has 416 some beneficent qualities not to be found in other intoxicating liquors. As a matter of fact, apart from water, the principal ingredient of stout, as of beer, is alcohol, and generally speaking, though they vary a little, there is not much difference from the temperance point of view between stout and beer. The rich colour of stout does not mean any additional nourishment. The figures which I gave with regard to beer apply, generally, to stout. There is about as much nourishment in a half-pint glass of stout as there is in about three-fifths of an ounce of bread, costing about one-sixteenth of a penny, and for the same expenditure there is about twenty-two times as much nourishment in milk as in stout. Is it right to deceive people with these advertisements, and with these pictures of men pushing down Waterloo Bridge and carrying huge girders, when in fact the amount of nourishment in stout is what I have stated?
I come next to an advertisement of Bass. Amongst other things it is said that Bass strengthens and Bass fortifies. Against that let me quote Sir George Newman, who was, until recently, head of the medical side of the Ministry of Health. He said:I know of no scientific evidence in support of the view that alcohol increases or fortifies the natural powers of the body or that, alcohol strengthens the tissue of the body.There you have the highest available medical testimony in direct contradiction of that advertisement. The last advertisement of this kind which I will give is one relating to gin. I suppose following a well-known advertising device, this has been evolved:Gin is the Origin of Good Health.Gin is one of the most intoxicating of liquors. It is one of the main constituents of many cocktails, which are largely condemned by the medical profession. It contains practically no nourishment at all, and the statement in the advertisement is about as far from the truth as it can be. I do not know what your Lordships' views may be, but for my part, I can see but little difference between some of these advertisements and getting money by false pretences.
Before I leave advertisements, let me call your Lordships' attention to another point. These things do not stop at advertisement posters. There are also 417 devices such as button-hole badges, and you actually have instances of children going to school with button-hole badges "Guinness is good for you." On the other hand, it is now recognised that children at school should receive definite instruction about the nature and effect of alcohol. The Board of Education not merely sanctions that, but has a syllabus about it, and I believe I am correct in saying that in more than half the elementary schools of the country now instruction of this kind is given to the children, a good deal of it at the public expense. In certain areas there are whole-time teachers going about doing nothing else. It is entirely wrong that the good which is being done in this way should be undone by these hoardings covered for these children to see with these alluring advertisements, and by these button-hole badges given to the Andrea. In this connection I think. I could not do better than read from a. letter which I received yesterday in support of this Bill from a British Women's Temperance Association. This letter says:As an association specially concerned about the welfare of children and adolescents we know of cases where posters and other forms of liquor advertisements are proving to be channels of temptation to the latter, and they also, very naturally, are, sources of great perplexity to the former, as the teaching on the hoarding is in direct conflict with the teaching in the class room.I will leave that there.
I wish next to say something about drink advertisements in the Press because that is a very big feature of this campaign, though drink advertisements in the Press are not new. But particularly since this brewers' campaign began, huge sums of money have been poured by the drink trade into the coffers of the Press. Now, two or three years ago, before the campaign started, the Royal Commission had reported about the drink advertisements in the Press and said this:As regards Press advertisements, it has been contended that certain sections of the Press are likely to shape their policy so as at least to give no offence to an industry which supplies them with much advertisement revenue.Then, in giving their general conclusions—I do not say this related only to Press advertisements—they say this: 418Our general conclusion is that there is cause for some alarm in this flow of advertisements.That was before the brewer's campaign began. My own opinion is that if the Royal Commission were reporting now, after this very extensive campaign, they would have said more than they did.
On this point Sir Edgar Sanders, at a meeting in 1933, said this:While I do not wish to say anything disrespectful of the Press I know that they had seine idea that we were contemplating a large advertising scheme if we got a reduction in the Beer Duty. As the Press, particularly the commercial side, came and asked me all sorts of questions about this, I said that we had first to get a reduction in the duty, and T think there is no doubt whatever that this had some effect, because the commercial side are always pestering the editorial side. In the same way if we begin advertising in the Press—this was a little before the Commission began its sittings—we shall see that the continuation of cur advertising is contingent upon the fact that we get editorial support as well in the same paper. In that way it is wonderful how you can educate—educate!public opinion generally without making it too obvious that there is a publicity campaign behind it all.It is not surprising that that statement called forth protests. It was protested against by the Newspaper Society and it was condemned by the most reverend Primate, and not long after his speech—really in response to it—the Brewers' Society really repudiated their own director. Yes, but as far as I know he has never withdrawn what he said, and it is certain that vast sums continue to be poured into the Press.
Before I conclude this review of the brewers' advertising campaign I would call attention to one objection which has been taken to it, not by teetotallers at all but by people who are offended by these advertisements. These advertisements are not artistic, they are crude, and this constant appeal on every hand to drink and drink more is an offence to the eye. One sees them at very turn and they are an offence to many people who are not abstainers.
So much for my review of the advertisements. Now what about the effect? The object of the brewers' campaign was to sell more beer, and more beer is being 419 sold. The sale of beer is going up; and drunkenness is going up, and of course the prosecutions for drunkenness are going up. Here may I emphasise a point which is perhaps not commonly known. Because the amount of alcohol in beer is less than in whisky and spirits a good many people seem to think that beer can be drunk with impunity so far as drunkenness is concerned. That is not so. So far from that being the case the fact is that, speaking broadly, the degree of drunkenness in the country varies in accordance with the consumption of beer. Even the Brewery Trade Review admits that. Just as drunkenness goes down if the sale of beer goes down, so also drunkenness goes up if the sale of beer goes up. And the sale of beer has been going up.
In some towns in 1934 the prosecutions for drunkenness were 50 per cent. higher than in 1933, and in a few towns even much more than that. In some, of course, the increase was less, and in some very substantially less. But taking some of those with an increase up to 50 per cent., in Sheffield the increase of prosecutions for drunkenness in 1934 over 1933 was 40 per cent., in Sunderland it was 27 per cent., and in Salford it was 21 per cent. The increase of drunkenness as a whole will, of course, be substantially less if the country districts be included, for there not much advertising has yet been done. But it should be remembered that the brewers' campaign has so far only been operating for less than eighteen months, and it is agreed by many advertising experts that the cumulative effect of this kind of mass advertising does not fully materialise under three or even four years. So that if it goes on as it is doing, there is every prospect of drunkenness increasing, and probably increasing considerably.
Now I do not say that all the increase in drunkenness is due to the brewers' campaign, but unquestionably the brewers' campaign has been a large factor in bringing about the result. Other causes have been the reduction of the Beer Duty in 1933 and some improvement in economic conditions; but as regards the increase in 1934 over 1933—and those are the figures I have been giving—there was not, so far as the workers were concerned, any great improvement in economic conditions, and the Beer Duty had been reduced long before that. Obviously the 420 brewers' campaign has helped to increase the consumption of beer. That must be so in the nature of things. The brewers are not fools. They would not go pouring out these vast sums of money unless they were getting a return for them. And indeed it is on record in a letter from Sir Edgar Sanders asking for contributions for the second year of the advertising campaign, in which it is affirmed that the campaign has helped to increase the consumption of beer.
Well, what is the position? The fall in the consumption of beer and in prosecutions for drunkenness which was taking place from 1913 to 1932—a reduction in prosecutions from 213,000 to 34,000—has been arrested and reversed. Drunkenness is increasing. The official figures are not yet procurable, but in all probability, when all the figures are available, it will be found that the prosecutions for drunkenness in 1934 were in the neighbourhood of 45,000. Of course that is not the end of the story. For every drunken man who falls into the hands of the Police, it is no exaggeration to say there are several who get drunk and do not actually come into the police courts. Surely the expenditure on drink was high enough before this brewers' campaign, and it ought not to be made still higher by lavish expenditure of the kind of which I have been speaking. This mass advertising is being used to induce those who drink already to drink more, and those who do not drink to begin drinking. The brewers admit that they want people' who do not drink to begin drinking. As a matter of fact they want both, and the effect of this campaign will be to bring that about.
I repeat that the expenditure on drink is surely high enough and is making a sufficiently great economic drain on the country. Averaging the licensed hours during which public-houses are open, it has been calculated that the drink bill amounts to about £1,200 a minute. In other words, during a sitting of your Lordships' House, from a quarter past four until seven o'clock, if the public-houses were open, the expenditure on drink would be nearly £200,000. It has been estimated, and-it is probably not far wrong, that the wage-earners have to work six weeks in each year in order to pay the wage-earners' drink bill. Think of the economic drain! Statements were put in 421 before the Royal Commission that the drink expenditure in some families was equal to a quarter or even nearly one-half of the family expenditure. No doubt the latter represent exceptional cases, but statistics like these were the cause of "Scrutator" in the Sunday Times saying that "These are dreadful figures." They are dreadful figures, and they are being made worse by the brewers' campaign. What I have been saying proves that, contrary to the view of many people who seem to think the drink problem is a thing of the past, it is a very urgent and menacing social problem. I maintain that this greatly strengthens the case against the drink advertisements.
I have nearly finished, but I must outline the provisions of the Bill and make a few more observations about the Bill itself. I submit that there is a very strong case for this Bill, more particularly as it is based upon an important precedent—that is, the precedent of the Moneylenders Act of 1927. Your Lordships will remember that that was a measure brought in by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson. It was supported by the Conservative Government of that time and passed on to the Statute Book. It was felt in the case of the moneylenders that something must be done to restrict their advertising and similar activities, and under that Act of 1927 advertising circulars were stopped and canvassers were stopped. This Bill proceeds as nearly as possible on the same lines. Advertising circulars will be stopped and canvassers will be stopped. As regards general advertisements, this Bill follows the precedent of the Moneylenders Act of 1927 as nearly as possible.
The Bill is in your Lordships' hands. Advertisements will not be prohibited altogether, but such advertisements will be allowed to containparticulars of the name and address of the manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer of such intoxicating liquor or liquors, the name of the products offered for sale, or the name and address of licensed premises.This Bill, I repeat, does not prohibit drink advertisements. It restricts them on the lines of this important precedent of 1927. The brewers can still advertise the name of their product, the names of the wholesalers or retailers, and the addresses of licensed premises. But all these "palpable scientific untruths," as 422 the Royal Commission calls them, would be stopped.
I have observed that some of the trade papers, in their desire to discredit this-Bill, have been cavilling at the drafting, and they have said that, under it, it might not be possible to ask somebody even to come to dinner without committing an offence. I have to tell your Lordships that that is not so. This Bill has been carefully examined by one of the highest legal Authorities in England, and I am assured that it is in order and that its meaning is perfectly clear. But even if that were not so, a word or two in Committee would put the matter right. It would only bring my Bill into line with the majority of Bills introduced in your Lordships' House, including Government Bills where the services of the Government draftsmen have been available. I have known private Bills introduced in this House which have had to be withdrawn altogether because they were so badly drafted that they could not go to the Committee stage. I have no apology to make for my Bill. I am informed on the highest authority that its drafting is in order.
The noble Lord, Lord Askwith, has a Motion for the rejection of the Bill, and I shall be very interested to hear off what grounds he bases his opposition. If he takes the view that, as the drink trade is up to a point legalised by the State, its advertising activities should not be curtailed or interfered with, the reply to that is very simple. It is that, although this trade is up to a point legalised, it is very severely curtailed and controlled by the State under the licensing system, and it is impossible to reconcile the restrictions of our licensing system with unrestricted drink advertisements. The two things are mutually inconsistent and destructive. If the State has a right to restrict and control the trade in one way, it has the right to do it in another way. There is nothing whatever in that point.
Moveover, it is too late to talk like that after the precedent of the Moneylenders Act. There you have an occupation legalised by the State, but there the State stepped in and restricted its advertising and similar activities. When that was being done, when that measure was before your Lordships' House, there was not one syllable of objection taken, not an atom of criticism of what was 423 then being done. What, then, becomes of all this talk in the literature put out against this Bill, that something is being done which is an attack on the liberty of the subject and the freedom of the Press? It is sheer nonsense. All law is a curtailment of the liberty of the subject if you choose to use language of that sort, but it does not bear any real relation to fact. This Bill is merely doing what has been done before, and surely it is a more serious thing to set up a precedent than to follow a precedent. This Bill is merely following the precedent of the Moneylenders Act of 1927.
And there is not only that precedent, there is the precedent of the Betting and Lotteries Bill, which passed through your Lordships' House only last year. We did not hear then any talk about interfering with the freedom of the Press, although in that Act the Press was forbidden to do certain things. We used to read stories about a costermonger coming into £30,000 and some broken-down labourer getting £10,000 because of the Irish sweepstake. I am not a great authority on these things, but I believe the Grand National is nearly due. But for the Bill which your Lordships passed last year we should have had all kinds of particulars published about the Irish sweepstake. But now that is not allowed. Your Lordships stopped that and I have not heard, and I did not hear then, any talk of curtailing the freedom of the Press. Not only so, but that Bill prohibited certain forms of newspaper competitions. They are not allowed now, and certain newspapers have had to change their policy. I say it is ridiculous to suggest that my Bill interferes in any way with the freedom of the Press or in any way establishes a precedent. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, will have very hard work to build up a case against the Bill on those lines, and there is certainly no case against the Bill on practical grounds. It will be simple to carry out. There is no difficulty of that sort.
In conclusion, I wish to say that since I introduced this Bill, now some weeks ago, I have received a great many messages of support, and these are by no means confined to teetotallers. I have found that a great many people who are 424 not teetotallers and who are not particularly interested in the temperance question feel that this advertising campaign has been carried altogether too far, and they want something done to stop those activities; and that is the object of this Bill. If there is some better way of doing it, let that be done, but let something be done. That is my plea to your Lordships. I am asking you to support the broad principle incorporated in this Bill by voting the Second Reading. As your Lordships know very well, a Second Reading vote does not commit any noble Lord to all the details of the Bill. If, in some respects, your Lordships think it goes too far, or think it does not go far enough, those are matters which can be dealt with in Committee. This is the Second Reading of the Bill. I do submit most earnestly that the question is one which ought to be considered by Parliament, that this is a real issue. I would ask those noble Lords to vote for the Second Reading who hold that the unrestricted advertising which is going on must be a danger to the State, is inconsistent with the restrictions which the State has imposed, and with what I may call the accepted State policy in regard to the drink trade. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Arnold.)
LORD ASKWITH, who had given Notice that on the Motion for Second Reading he would move, That the Bill be read a second time this day six months, said: My Lords, I rise to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months. I understand from the Order Paper that another noble Lord has got the same Motion down. He will doubtless reinforce any arguments that I may make, and probably add new ones. The noble Lord, Lord Arnold, spoke of this Bill as his own, and said it is the first Bill which, during eleven years, he has introduced into this House. One cannot but admire the power and strength of speech, and almost of aggression, with which he can enforce his arguments before your Lordships' House; but this particular Bill seems to be based upon statements in a Minority Report of a Royal Commission written by that well-known advocate of temperance, the Reverend Henry Carter. He said:
I recommend that the publication and the display on any hoarding, vehicle, or
other public place of advertisements of intoxicating liquors should be declared illegal.
The noble Lord goes further than that. He brings in a great many more people than the advertisers, or even than the brewers.
§ He truly says that his Bill is drafted upon he Moneylenders Act, and some of the clauses seem to be taken from that Act word for word. I would point out that the Moneylenders Act did not deal with large production of goods, nor with the employment of thousands of people. It was limited in its action and dealt with one particular class of evil in this country. The noble Lord said that the drafting was not to be complained of. I am afraid that I must criticise the drafting. I formed my own opinion about it, and I also consulted very eminent Counsel. They told me that I was quite right—that the short title, Intoxicating Liquor (Advertisement Regulation) Bill, was wrong, and that the full title of the Bill, "An Act to amend the law with respect to persons. carrying on business as manufacturers or distributors of intoxicating liquor," was wrong, because the contents of the Bill went far beyond what was said to be its scope, and was not so limited as its title stated. It applies to newspaper proprietors, printers, advertising agents, makers of signs and any device whatsoever, and to numerous other trades, either directly or indirectly, and also to the public at large.
Let me look at the wording of some of the clauses in the Bill, which the noble Lord says can be so easily changed in Committee. If the Bill were changed and those parts were eliminated, the whole pith of the Bill would have gone, and it would not fulfil the noble Lord's purpose. I take Clause 1. Subsection (1) says:
No person shall knowingly send … to any person, except in response to his written request any … document … containing an invitation to … consume any intoxicating liquor, or to go to any place with a. view to consuming any intoxicating liquor.
In the next subsection we read:
… no person shall … cause to be … exhibited to the public for the purposes of advertisement any … film … containing any invitation or inducement to consume the same.
Those are extremely wide words. They affect other industries and the public at
large. An invitation alone is enough. Publication is not required. If the noble Lord was giving a sherry party—I do not suppose he ever has—and sent out invitations to that sherry party, he would come within the purview of this Bill.
§ LORD ASKWITH
I did not interrupt the noble Lord, but I do not quite follow the reason of his argument. The word used is not "and" but "or." I was saying that if the noble Lord gave a sherry party, he would be liable, but if he was asked to a sherry party he could run in the person who invited him for three months imprisonment or a fine of £100. Really, put in that way, the thing seems to be quite absurd, and the Bill could not be amended in Committee without losing the pith of it. Further, there are the words "any illuminated sign" on licensed premises. That would cover grocers' Christmas advertisements. Auctioneers giving the contents of the wine cellars of a house, and films showing persons in a good humour after a meal and wine, would also be included because they might be taken as an "inducement to consume the same." Those are some instances of the way in which this Bill is worded. Further, a menu setting forth the liquor available, or a. dinner ticket showing that the price was inclusive of wine, would be covered by the words because they could be an "invitation to consume" as stated in the Bill. As one angry advertiser put it to me, the Bible would have to be expurgated, Omar Khayyam banned, Keats withdrawn from publication, and Horace quoted with very great care. I hope that this Bill will be thrown out by your Lordships' House as being not a practicable Bill but a Bill which, if it was passed, could not possibly be enforced.
True it is that Parliament may pass anything. It may pass prohibition within the next week, but it would not be able to carry out prohibition when legislation went so far beyond anything that the people would stand. The real point is that the Bill is a side attack, a step towards prohibition. It is not an amending Bill. It makes an entirely new law affecting a large number of people who have never before come within the liquor laws and makes them subject to 427 a penalty for a new crime. It is an indirect attack upon a legal trade specially authorised by Parliament—a trade that is certainly controlled, but that is by no means to be controlled in the manner suggested by attacking other trades. Advertising liquids for the public to consume is a perfectly legitimate trade, and that trade objects—I have a mass of documents sent me from all parts of the country—to an outside body having the right to control legitimate traders who have controlled, and are controlling, and can manage, the industry of advertising in the interests of the public at large. They are not quack advertisers. They are responsible business men to whom complaint can be made. There is no precedent for doing what is proposed in this Bill—the Moneylenders Act and the Betting and Lotteries Act are not in the same category—and the Bill is considered to be both unreasonable and unnecessary and a Bill in restraint of trade. There is no reason why the noble Lord with, as I understand, twenty-eight journals devoted to temperance, should use the printed word and deny the use of it to another person who is also selling things legally.
Lastly, this Bill is a restraint upon the public at large. The public are not to be allowed to ascertain the quality of the liquors that may be put before them. They will have the bad and the good put before them, but information of the quality of the goods is to be withheld from them. In the old days various brewers put all sorts of different roots into beer but the advance of science showed that that was of no value to the beer. The investigations of Pasteur revolutionised the whole trade, and the Peel Commission stated that adulteration scarcely existed. In 1873 and in the years shortly following most of the Acts relating to adulteration were repealed. There is a further danger in regard to this Bill. It will really put a bonus upon inferior liquors, and I am not at all sure that if it passed it would not result in some very unwholesome liquors getting on to the market. Certainly no new kind of liquor would get any market at all; it would be unknown. For instance, at the present moment Empire wines are advertised, but if this Bill had been in operation it would not have been possible 428 to introduce them into the market of this country.
For myself I think this Bill is a bad one. I have no interest in the slightest degree either in the brewing trade or in the advertising trade. Perhaps that is unfortunate for me, but it is a fact. I hope that this Bill will be thrown out in the same way as Bills introduced in 1893 by the late Bishop of London, the late Bishop of Chester and the late Sir William Harcourt, Bills far more happily conceived than that of the noble Lord, were rejected. I do not know whether the noble Lord has thought at all of the great amount of unemployment that would be caused if this Bill were passed. I am advised that twenty-seven different trades would be affected by it.
It is admitted that very large sums of money are spent every year in advertising and that an increase of advertisements does increase the amount of liquor consumed, but I question very much the noble Lord's deduction that drunkenness has increased. I do not remember seeing a drunken man for the last five or ten years, and among the millions of people in this country the number of convictions for drunkenness is not large. The fact is that there are many other factors than temperance advocacy which have caused a reduction in the amount of beer taken by individuals. I have said on other occasions that the drunkard and the regular toper are the brewers' worst enemies. I repeat that because I think it is entirely true. The number of people in this country has increased and therefore there may be more people who are taking beer and perhaps spirits in moderation, but habitual topers are decreasing in numbers. Of that I feel convinced. Some of the trades that might be mentioned are the caterers, the transport workers, the barrel and bottle makers, the shop assistants, and above all the farmers, who have been asked to grow barley. The brewers were urged to take more home-grown barley in order to help agriculture. This was urged upon them by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day; they agreed to do it and they have done it.
Further than that, there is the great crop of Kent, a county which depends upon the brewing of beer. In fact, the noble Lord's Bill would cause a great gap in the amount of employment and a 429 great gap in the material progress of the Revenue and of agriculture. In the Revenue there are all sorts of expenses, which are met from the receipts of the brewery and the liquor trade. I am informed that of the total Exchequer receipts in 1934, same 8.7 per cent. came from the brewing trade and 13.9 per cent. from the liquor trade. A dislocation of that revenue would mean that adjustment must be made by heavier taxation in other respects. Further, a restriction of advertisement would mean an adjustment in the great newspaper trade. It would mean that if journals were to keep alive they would have to raise their prices to other kinds of production, including the very temperance drinks which the noble Lord advocates so strongly.
A great deal was made by the noble Lord of a speech by Sir Edgar Sanders. I am afraid I have only met Sir Edgar Sanders once, but I am informed that, not being either a brewer or a wine-merchant, or having anything to do with the liquor trade except that he had been the governing head of the experiment at Carlisle, he was appointed to be chairman of the Brewers' Society. He made a speech at Birmingham, a single speech by a single man, for circulation among his own trade. Of this speech 400 copies were circulated. A copy was purloined and typewritten copies were made from and the speech was made use of in some pamphlets circulated in the country, a proceeding which was denounced by a famous temperance advocate, Mr. Arthur Sherwell, as not a fair thing to do. From that arose this attack upon Sir Edgar Sanders. I have read Sir Edgar Sanders's speech all through. The intimation or suggestion that it was an attempt to "collar" the Press was denied by the Newspaper Society, and also repudiated by the Brewers' Society as a baseless exaggeration.
So far as the speech itself is concerned, he was speaking to his own trade and, as anyone might do in trade, he pointed out that the brewers were not getting—as he considered—a fair share of the amount which was spent on amusements. He stated the very obvious fact that if those engaged in the trade wished to keep up the amount that they were selling or to improve upon it, particularly as they had been asked to use home-grown 430 barley, advertisement was the only thing. He suggested the advantage of collective advertising over advertising by single firms, and cited as examples the way in which the use of fruit had been extended by means of advertising, and how "Eat more fish" had led to greater consumption of fish. He spoke of how electricity had had to advertise because gas was advertising to such an extent; he instanced how sherry had come into fashion. again, and spoke of Ovaltine and Lux as great examples of the success of advertising.
Now the noble Lord has attacked advertising. It seems to me that the advertisements have been getting better and better every day. That much harm could be done by seeing an advertisement that "Guinness is best"; or "For an A1 nation beer is best," is difficult to conceive. Nor can I conceive that the noble Lord has much humour if he cannot see the joke in "Gin is the origin of good health," or in the badges which school children make and stick in their buttonholes, just as they would a flower. The fact is, too, that the trade was alluded to in these terms in Sir Edgar Sanders's speech. This was the whole pith of his speech:Unless steps are taken to say to him that England's beer is the best and the healthiest beverage he can consume, and to bring before him all the good will and contentment that the public-house imports in England, and to carry on his good will, we shall certainly see the trade on a declining basis.That was the point of Sir Edgar Sanders's speech.
I have said already that there is not the excuse of adulteration, and I further say that the same sort of attack might be made by a vegetarian to whom meat was anathema. I even knew a man—a noble Lord who sat in this House—who had never eaten an egg in his life and who hated the idea of anybody eating one. Further than that, there are people who say that tobacco is a harmful narcotic; you might have a crusade against that. The noble Lord, for that reason and because of his particular views, would out-Dora "Dora"; he would upset the whole of the Revenue, he would send thousands of people into unemployment, and he would do harm to. agriculture. For that reason he is seeking the aid of the Legislature—and is not content with his twenty-eight papers, 431 which would then presumably have a free field, except for the very limited number of names and so on which he would allow in his Bill to the liquor trade—in prohibiting the brewers from making the best, as an advertisement is entitled to do, of goods that they are allowed to sell by law. To my mind, also, he would infringe the liberty of the subject. I have concluded the observations I wished to make and I dare say we shall hear some remarks on the other side. Those, however, are the salient points which appear to me to be contained in this Bill. It is a Bill which would fail in its purpose and would be impossible to work, and one which I hope that this House will reject by a good majority.
Leave out ("now") and at the end of the Motion insert ("this day six months").—(Lord Askwith.)
§ LORD RHAYADER
My Lords, you have heard the case set out for the Bill by my noble friend Lord Arnold, and the case against the Bill stated by the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, who has just sat down. I think your Lordships will agree that Lord Arnold presented a strong case, from the point of view of the public, for dealing with these advertisements, which are, I think, an eyesore throughout the whole country, and he has brought in a Bill which will deal with this growing evil, which Lord Askwith seems to regard not as an evil at all. Lord Askwith will forgive me if I say that I was greatly disappointed in the case which he presented against the Bill. He started with a rather narrow criticism of the drafting of the Bill. I have not had anything to do with the drafting of the Bill, and I cannot say that I have studied it very closely, but if there are faults of drafting it seems to me that they can be very easily dealt with in Committee, should your Lordships decide to read the Bill a second time. Therefore I venture to ask you to put on one side any criticism of the drafting of the Bill, if it is defective, because if the Government adopt the Bill they can amend its drafting and correct its title, provided they will give effect to the purpose which the mover of the Bill has in view.
If I may continue to deal with Lord Askwith's objections to the Bill, he takes the position, as I understand him, that because this is a legal trade therefore 432 the advertising of its wares should not be interfered with. But this trade is only a legal trade in a peculiar sense. It is certainly a legal trade, because the law stepped in to prohibit it generally, and to allow it only under certain conditions. In that respect it occupies not a privileged position amongst trades, but a limited position. Other trades are free to be carried on without interference by the law, but this trade has a general code of laws which regulate it in the community, and in dealing with it as a legal trade Lord Askwith was really putting forward reasons for this House to consider the laws which regulate the trade. I venture to remind your Lordships that for four hundred years Parliament has been regulating this legal trade, and regulating it almost entirely in one direction—limiting it, restricting it. The code of laws which has to be obeyed by the purveyors of liquor in this country is a very strict one. The general law of the country is a prohibitory law. The majority of the people are forbidden to sell, or deal in, intoxicating liquors. So far as the retail trade is concerned, you can only deal in it by special permission obtained from the magistrates who are appointed to stand between the trade and the public for the protection of the public.
That is the legal position, and the question we have before us to-day is not whether this is a legal trade, not whether there is an interference with liberty—the question of liberty does not come up in discussing the drink trade. I know that the advocates of liquor are fond of talking about liberty, but until they are prepared to advocate the repeal of the licensing laws, it is futile to think of devoting themselves to talking about liberty. The only point before us in this Bill is whether a proposed restriction of liberty is one which it is desirable in the public interest, and only in the public interest, to make. The attitude of the law is, and has been throughout the ages, that this trade is a dangerous trade, which must be controlled and restricted. The challenge of the temperance movement to the trade is that they regard it not as a beneficial trade in moderation, but as one which, in its results, is injurious to the community from every point of view. The real issue is between those who regard alcoholic liquor as beneficial, used in moderation 433 and under regulations, which I do not understand the noble Lord to attack, and. those who challenge the whole position, as our temperance movement does. That movement is one hundred years old in this country. The challenge issued by the founders of the movement was a direct one. One hundred years ago drink was regarded as a kind of panacea, a -great benefit to the consumer, a refuge in sickness and in trouble, a universal medicine, always at hand, a comforter at any time. That is challenged -by the temperance movement; and they say that this drink is not a friend of mankind but an enemy; that it is not the friend of the downtrodden, suffering working classes, but their enemy; that it is an anodyne which enables them to endure evils which otherwise would be intolerable.
In a hundred years the movement has convinced the thinking people of this country that in general its view is right. It has dethroned drink from the pinnacle it occupied, and to-day the only good reason which any of your Lordships can give for consuming alcoholic drinks is that you like it. That is a very good reason, if there are not arguments on the other side to change that view. The method by which the temperance movement succeeded in doing that was three-fold. They began by endeavouring to rescue drunkards, and by preaching against drunkenness. They met with great success, but they found very soon that while they were rescuing some victims of drink there were new recruits coming in from among the young, to take the places of the older men whom they rescued. There began then the second phase of the temperance movement, which was the education and instruction of the young people of this country in the truth about intoxicating drink. But even that was insufficient. Bands of Hope sprang up all over the country, education in respect to the effects of drink got into the schools, and after a hundred years we have now the Government syllabus, which is used in many of the schools of the country and which, of course, ought to be used in all of them. But those two things were insufficient and there followed a legislative movement for the restriction of the operations of the trade, reducing the numbers of the public-houses and 434 in every way limiting the operations of the trade as far as was possible.
The point I want to make is this. It was only when these three forces were at work together, when you added legislative restrictions to the training of the young and the rescuing of the victims of drink—it was only then that the forces of sobriety in this country succeeded in really making headway against the intemperance which prevailed so largely during the first three quarters of the nineteenth century. Since that legislative restriction great progress has been made. I do not overlook the other forces which are in operation—the open air life, the changed conditions of modern life, the outdoor sports. All that has contributed. But I do want to point out that not to maintain a firm grip over this trade does mean a reversion to the evil conditions of the past in some degree. The noble Lord, Lord Arnold, in his comprehensive speech, pointed out how the lowering of the tax two years ago, followed by this campaign of advertisement, has set the nation in the other direction. More beer is being consumed, drunkenness is increasing, and the number of convictions for drunkenness is going up. That is moving in the wrong direction, and this Bill is an attempt to stop that progress, and if possible to cleanse our hoardings from all those preposterous advertisements which figure so much in the public eye.
This campaign of the brewers has come because they had felt the effects of those cumulative forces of which I have been speaking in diminishing the consumption of liquor. Lord Askwith complains that we have made too much of Sir Edgar Sanders's speech. Well, it is not very often that we are fortunate enough to know what passes in secret gatherings of brewers, when they are considering how to attract the public, and Sir Edgar Sanders has admitted that the speech that was published was the speech which he delivered, and I think it justifies to the full everything which Lord Arnold said about a conspiracy on the part of the brewers to seduce the younger generation of this country.
It is not unimportant that this great trade, dealing in a dangerous substance, limited by the law in every direction for the protection of the public, should have set out to gather in the young. I am not sure whether 435 Lord Arnold referred to that particular passage but I will venture to do so. Sir Edgar Sanders knows the public-houses well. I think myself it is rather a tragic position which he occupies. He was the distinguished clerk of the Liverpool justices, endeavouring to protect the people of Liverpool against the mischiefs caused by the common sale of intoxicating liquors in their midst. He was selected as the man of ail others who, when the Government decided for the first time to try an experiment in selling liquor, was considered most suitable to safeguard the public from the evil effects of drink in Carlisle. And that is the man who goes from being clerk to the Liverpool justices, and from managing the Carlisle experiment, to conduct a campaign for the brewers to seduce the younger generation in this country. My Lords, I think that is not promotion for Sir Edgar Sanders, and it is not surprising that we should therefore quote his words.
The Freedom Association said that we are attacking the liberty of the Press. Did not Sir Edgar Sanders attack the liberty of the Press, when he put it plainly before the brewers that if they gave advertisements to the newspapers, then, unless the editorial columns contained puffs and approval of the liquor business, the advertisements would cease? Was that not an attempt to interfere with the free expression of opinion by the Press? I quite admit that the Press resented it, but it is for your Lordships to resent attempts of this kind, made by a particularly dangerous trade on the liberty and straightforward action of the Press. This campaign has for its object the one great purpose of getting new customers for the liquor trade and increasing the sale of liquor. It is not too strong to say that many of them are lying advertisements, and the public has no protection against them. I see advertisements all over the place—"Guinness is good for you."
§ LORD RHAYADER
Well, I have no doubt that if I did that I should be liable to a libel action and I should have to justify every word that I said. It is not quite equal treatment between us. I can, of course, denounce drink in general, but if I denounce the drink manufactured by a particular manufacturer then I am in danger of judgment in a libel action. The public have no protection against the statements made in these advertisements. I say that it is not right that these advertisements, especially those dealing with health, medicated wine and things of that kind, advertisements to which no respectable doctor would put his name—it is not right that advertisements containing these misstatements of the scientific position, so calculated to mislead the unwary, should disfigure our hoardings. These people are suffering and looking round for some easy remedy that will not be too dear—though I gather that liquor is not particularly cheap just now—and it is not fair to place these allurements before these helpless people.
This Bill has been brought in to endeavour to secure the help of the Government in protecting the public against such proceedings. My noble friend Lord Arnold gave a number of precedents which I think have not been disposed of at all by the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Askwith. The Act passed quite recently dealing with betting, and the Act dealing with moneylenders, are precedents for the Bill of my noble friend. The Bill aims at protecting the public, particularly the young and impressionable members of the community, from a dangerous conspiracy to spread false statements about this admittedly dangerous trade, and therefore I sincerely hope that your Lordships will see your way to give it a Second Reading.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I have only five points to put forward on this controversial matter, and they will not occupy more than a few minutes. First of all, this is not a Teetotal Bill. If you want a Teetotal Bill you can have it. I was speaking to the Church Assembly the other day and I tried to show them what a very broadminded teetotaller I was, and I said that when I saw a friend with a glass of wine I did not, like some teetotallers, hope it would choke him. Instead I hoped it would warm the cockles of his heart. A doctor got up and said, "There are no 437 cockles in your heart, and every drop of wine paralyses the lining of the stomach." That man is a teetotaller, a fanatical one, and if lie brings in a Bill I shall call it a Teetotal Bill. But this is not a Teetotal Bill at all.
The second thing I want to say is that we object to the "palpable scientific untruths" published on the posters. I have been brought up for years to understand what alcohol is and what it is not, and my authority is not a temperance publication, it is the Report of the Royal Commission. When we think of all these children going to school, and lads who have been brought up to have nothing to do with alcohol at all, it makes our blood boil to see this advertising going on, and destroying everything we have been trying to do for forty or fifty years.
The third thing is, why not tea? I was asked that question in that silly pamphlet which came to me from the Freedom. Association, which told us that "You ace butchering the freedom of the Press to make a teetotal holiday."I wonder they are not ashamed to write such silly things." Why not tea? "they went on. When I see 33,000 people taken up for drinking tea I shall join them in a Bill for restricting that. According to our own Commission £2,000,000 a year is spent in advertising of this kind. I had a little experience of it the year after the War, when I proposed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he agreed, that I should try and re-establish the Church of England Temperance Society in different parts of the country. The Church of England Temperance Society is the most broad-minded temperance society in existence. We have all kinds of people in it. I have been a teetotaler for fifty years, but I am only one. I spoke in thirty-five dioceses for, I think, five weeks, and in every single one of them during that very modest temperance campaign the brewers paid agents every night to oppose me; it cost them about £2,000. I spoke twice on week-days and three times on Sundays.
I do not think the agents were very clever men. In North Walsham the representatives of the trade asked me, "Why were the winning crew in the Boat Race trained on old beer?" I asked at once, "What was the losing crew trained on?" and they were fools enough to say, "Old port." I said, "Then of course 438 they lost, because old port has nine times the alcohol of old beer. "Then there was another question," Can you name a single man of genius who is a teetotaller?" I had the Bishop of Norwich, a Double First, in the chair, and I replied, "He sits in the chair." Then I was asked, "Give us another name," and my reply was "That is getting too personal. "Two thousand pounds was spent on that effort by the brewers, and it was money very badly spent for them. But it only shows they are ready to oppose every effort, even the smallest effort, of this kind, and it has been the same ever since I have known the trade.
In point of fact I have come to the conclusion that, although members of the trade sit in this House who are personal friends of mine, upright, straightforward men, the trade in itself justified what the late Lord Rosebery said, and he was no teetotaller: "Unless the nation throttles the trade, the trade will throttle the nation." Mr. Lloyd George, with whom I do not always agree, said at the beginning of the War: "We are fighting three enemies—we are fighting Germany, Austria, and the drink, and the drink is the most dangerous of the three. "I assure your Lordships that I am not at all a fanatical teetotaller. I do not want at all to convert Lord Askwith, although I believe if he took me on in the sports court at the Bath Club, the fact that I am a teetotaller would give me a great advantage over him, although he might beat me on other grounds. I attribute my extraordinary health at 77 years of age to being a teetotaller. As to prohibition, I have opposed it over and over again in any way at temperance societies. This Bill is a mild attempt to prevent a very great mischief, and it is on behalf of the children and the young people whom we have brought up as far as we can not to use alcohol, that I ask your Lordships to give the Bill a fair hearing, and, if you can, a Second Reading.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
My Lords, this Bill has been opposed on various grounds. It has been opposed on the grounds that it is unworkable, that it is badly drafted, and that if it is passed into law in its present form I shall be liable to three months imprisonment or 439 a fine of £100 if I ask any of your Lordships to a cocktail party. I believe that is true; but, after all, Bills can be amended in Committee and we are now dealing with the principle of the Bill. It has been said that it will hurt the Press through the loss of advertisements. That does not affect me very much. I regard that with calmness. It has been said that the brewers will suffer. I do not mind that very much. After all, if it is right they should suffer, then they must suffer. But the reason I want to put to your Lordships is not a particular reason, it is a general reason, and it is this.
Thank God this nation at the present time, as a whole, is more sober than it has ever been. Drunken men are seldom to be met with. People who drink to excess are infinitesimal in number compared with our fathers' and grandfathers' time, and the effect of the Education Act of 1870 has been marvellous. In my view, that Education Act did more for temperance than all the lectures of teetotallers or all the other Acts of Parliament. We are now at last seeing the full effect of that great Act. The people of this country are not fanatical teetotallers. The vast majority are moderate drinkers, as they are entitled to be. It is only fanatical people who see but one side of the question who would prevent them from being moderate drinkers. If a working man or woman or a rich man or woman wish to spend a little money on drink, why should they not? I totally dissent from the proposition that alcohol in moderation is harmful. I think beer is extremely healthy, and a very good drink.
Should we not think thrice before we pass a Bill of this kind, which is, after all, an instalment of prohibition, whatever you like to say, because the noble Lords And the organisations at the back of this Bill are prohibitionist organisations? If we pass this Bill restricting the right to advertise, next year we shall have a more drastic Bill, until at last we shall find ourselves in the position of the United States ten or twelve years ago when, slowly, one State after another adopted prohibition. They woke up one morning to find that three quarters of the States had voted for prohibition, so that total prohibition was obligatory in 440 the whole of that great Republic from East to West over 3,000 miles. There are many other noble Lords who want to speak, and therefore I will not detain your Lordships. I only ask you, before you vote on this Bill, to remember the result to the United States of total prohibition and the insidious way in which it was brought about.
This Bill, which is supposed to be a little one, is only the forerunner of far more objectionable measures. At long last, after corrupting the public life to an unbelievable extent in the States, after costing thousand of millions of pounds through prohibition agents, and, above all, after having taught the people of that great Republic that the law was something to be condemned and not to be obeyed, they have had to do away with prohibition and go back to moderate drinking such as we have in this country. In my humble opinion, the drink question ought to be regarded as settled in this country just as the education question ought to be regarded as settled in this country. Rich people in London complain that they cannot drink champagne at three in the morning. That leaves me cold. Certain clubs say that they ought to be open for more hours, and public-houses would like extensions, but I say, for heaven's sake let us remain roughly as we are. Compromise is the essence of public life in this country, and if we stay as we are we shall find that gradually, year by year, the consumption of alcohol per head will decrease, and we shall be a free country and a sober country.
§ LORD CLWYD
My Lords, I do not intend to speak for more than two or three minutes in this debate. I think it would be a mistake if the House were to come to a conclusion that there is not a very strong body of opinion in support of the principle of this Bill. When I sat on the Peel Commission a long time ago, the business of advertisement had not reached anything like its present position, and at that time we had not evidence with regard to the ill effects of drink advertisements in the Press. Later on, when the recent Licensing Commission sat, there was evidence submitted upon this point, and although the Commission were not able to make any definite recommendations upon it, they at all events recognised that it was a danger to the public. That being so, 441 whatever our opinions may be upon the particular issue of this Bill, it is not, I think, open to us to take the view that it is a question without seriousness in the public eye. I think it is very desirable that we should keep our eyes upon the real point at issue. It is really not a question whether the Bill, if it were passed in this or in any other form, would materially affect the prospects of any business body. My noble friend seemed to think that it would have a serious and injurious effect upon the great advertising organisations in the country. That may be important from their point of view, but if it can be shown that a large body of opinion thinks that the publication of these advertisements in the Press has unsatisfactory consequences in the public interest, then I think the interests of particular business organisations should take a second place to the public interest.
There is one other point of which I should like to remind the House. The possible evil which flows from drink advertisements in the Press is recognised in other ways. I happen to know that a number of important municipalities in the country prohibit drink advertisements in the Press. There is the case of Cardiff, which I know very well. Glasgow also takes that view. Therefore, it is not open to us to say that it is not a question of real public interest. Speaking as I do upon this question with a special knowledge of my own country of Wales, I have to say that there, at all events, the overwhelming body of opinion is very strongly in favour of the Bill, the Second Reading of which has been moved by my noble friend Lord Arnold. I therefore hope, whatever may be the decision we reach upon the Second Reading to-day, that we shall not take the view that there is not behind this Bill a very considerable body of public support. Speaking for myself, I am very glad that my noble friend has moved its Second Reading.
§ LORD HUTCHISON OF MONTROSE
My Lords, I only want to offer one or two thoughts on this Bill. May I congratulate Lord Arnold on the very able way in which he put his arguments for the Bill? I am sorry to say that I was surprised to find an ex-Minister of the Socialist Party bringing in a Bill of this far-reaching effect when there is, I am certain, no demand for such a Bill from the people of the country, and, if I may 442 say so, certainly no demand from the working class in this country. I cannot believe that such a Bill could have been brought forward except at the instance of those people in the temperance movement who are continually and ever-increasingly attacking those who take a different view from them. I hold the view of the ordinary man in the street that I am entitled to take in moderation any liquor that I choose to take. Therefore, I do not see why those who take an opposite view should continue to attack us.
My noble friend Lord Rhayader, says that he disagrees with the type of advertisements, and with the slogans attached thereto, because they are untrue. He says that the advertisement that "Guinness is good for you" is not true. What is truth? I say that if I take some Guinness it is good for me. Those on the other side say it is not good for me. I cannot conceive that there is any value in an argument based on the view that certain statements in advertisements are untrue when they are not also untrue to those who take an opposite view from them. You might as well say that those who advertise pink pills for pale people are saying something which is untrue, or that the various types of advertisement of different food products and so on are untrue. An advertiser must exaggerate in order to get the right effect upon those he wants to approach, but I cannot think that the freedom of the individual in that respect ought to be curtailed by legislation.
§ LORD RHAYADER
Will my noble friend forgive me? Does he make no distinction between the advertising of an admittedly dangerous article and one which is generally recognised as harmless? Liquor is admittedly, in our whole system of law, treated as a dangerous article to handle.
§ LORD DANESFORT
Would the noble Lord say where beer is treated in the Statute Book as a dangerous article
§ LORD HUTCHISON OF MONTROSE
To continue, may I point out also that it seems very unfair, and I think not in keeping with our ideas of liberty, to say that one legal vendor of a product may 443 advertise freely while the vendor of another product cannot do so? After all, they are legitimate traders and, although Parliament has passed strict legislation to deal with the conditions under which their trade can be carried on, still it is a legal trade. There is no reason why they should not advertise their products. It seems to me all wrong to say that because you restrict the trade therefore you ought to carry that restriction into the advertising world. I certainly do not see the logic of such an argument.
There was another argument used by my noble friend Lord Rhayader. He said that if he counter-advertised that "Guinness is bad for you" he might be sued for libel. But might he not say that "All drink is bad for you"? There is a story told of a man walking past one of the City churches and seeing there a placard inscribed "Love your enemies," A little further down the street he saw another placard "Drink is your greatest enemy." There you have a man being told to do the very thing which you do not want him to do. It seems to me that this tendency towards restrictive legislation interfering with the habits and wishes of the people is definitely wrong. If you want to improve the habits of the people from your point of view you have got to do it by education, you have got to do it by argument and not by prohibition. I remember when I was quite young that the things I was prohibited from doing were the very things I wanted to do. I know of several cases of people, who were prohibited by their parents from taking any form of intoxicating liquor when they were young, going to excess when they got the chance. It is in human nature to do that. Therefore I think this type of legislation is bad. I think it is uncalled for, I think it is unfair, and I hope your Lordships will not give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ LORD SNELL
My Lords, I do not intend to take more than a few moments of your Lordships' time and what I have to say will be for myself alone. I am not a member of any temperance society and therefore I am not influenced by any organised body in favour of any par, titular opinion. But I do believe that the issue which has been raised by my noble friend Lord Arnold is one which your Lordships' House should consider very seriously. The noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, said there was good 444 reason to believe that, taking the population as a whole, there was an encouraging increase in the sobriety of the people. That coincides with my own observation for many years. Whatever the statistics of the moment may be, I think there is no doubt that since some of us were boys a blessed improvement in the sobriety of the people has taken place. That in many ways is the most encouraging factor in our social life.
The noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, placed the reason for that upon education and I would not underestimate the influence of education upon the minds of people generally. But that influence is not spread equally over the whole population. If you have education making one section of the people more sober, the question arises whether you may have any moral responsibility for that minority of weaker brethren who succumb to the old evils of excessive drinking. If you feel you have any such responsibility, that responsibility must extend to the possible influence that advertising may have upon their minds. What is the purpose of advertising? It is to induce an increased consumption of any particular commodity. The methods of the advertiser have been immeasurably increased in subtlety during recent years. I do not know how true it is in English business, but in American business psychologists are employed—to use American phraseology—"to break down the resistance of the consumer." That is to say to use all the arts of appealing to the mind to increase consumption of a particular commodity.
The noble Lord, Lord Hutchison, said that he likes to have the liberty to renew his spirits on occasion. After a long acquaintance with the noble Lord I want to tell your Lordships that I have never known his spirits to droop or to be in need of stimulus. But we are not here passing any special criticism upon the managers of a particular trade. For the time being the brewing and the distribution of liquor is a legal trade and they have as much right as the managers of any other industry to try to increase the consumption of their particular commodity. We all of us know men connected with the liquor trade who as citizens and as personal friends are everything that they ought to be in those connections. That, however, does not 445 alter the fact that possibly in regard to a particular commodity the community ought to have some control over the methods of offering inducements to people to consume that commodity. When I first became a Member of Par-Lament I received a great shock. I never knew that I had sixpennyworth of credit in the world; but directly I became a Member of. Parliament I received circulars from kind-hearted gentlemen who were anxious to lend me£10,000 without inquiry. Now almost every morning circulars come to me urging me to buy somebody's whisky or somebody's wine or something else. These circulars are an annoyance to me, whatever they may be to any other person, and I think I ought to be protected against being subjected to this avalanche of, circulars asking me to consume a particular commodity.
I do not think there is anything more to say upon that. I only wish in conclusion to repeat that, as I know the working classes—and perhaps my acquaintance with them is as close as that of any of your Lordships—their increased sobriety is a matter of very great thankfulness to everybody concerned in their welfare. If we have made that advance, let us be quite careful that no subtle influence robs us of the progress we have made. That is my purpose in rising. I wish also to say this final word. Wherever the welfare of a community requires that consumption in any commodity should be reduced to a minimum, that commodity ought to be taken out of private interest altogether. Private profit-making should be taken out of the distribution of alcoholic liquor, and such distribution and manufacture as are required should be in the hands of those responsible for the welfare of the whole community, under such conditions as will preserve all the sobriety that we have gained.
My Lords, I am afraid I cannot say, like the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, that I have no interest whatever in this Bill. I have a very distinct interest in it. He may be a teetotaller; from his words I imagine he must be, but I personally want to know where I can get good wine at a. reasonable figure, and if the wine merchant who has got it may not tell me, how am I to find out? Particularly do 446 I want to know where I can get a good beer. I am afraid I only want to know where I can get a good stout when I am not feeling very well, but then I, fortunately, have a good doctor who makes me drink it, so there seems to be some good in stout after all.
Apparently the chief argument in favour of this Bill is that it would prevent the advertising of a dangerous article. If we are going to do that, I suggest that we must be logical. If we are going to prohibit one dangerous article being advertised—and I do not admit the danger of beer—we must certainly prevent other and more dangerous articles being advertised; and of course we shall start with tea. About ten times as many people die from tannin poisoning annually as die from alcoholic poisoning. Then, of course, another little thing that will have to be forbidden is any advertisement about motor cars. Motor cars must most certainly not be advertised, and I suppose we shall also have to stop advertisements of tobacco, because a good many people suffer from nicotine poisoning, which I believe does not do them very much good. Also, of course, we have to realise that a certain step to control the advertisement of intoxicating liquor has already been taken in this country: it has been taken by Punch, which I believe will not advertise whisky and kindred things. But may I remind your Lordships that Punch is meant to be a laughter-provider, and I cannot see why its action should be any reason why we should make ourselves a laughing-stock.
If I may, I will finish by quoting a very short poem which applies, I think, to the majority of people in this country. It was written by a member of your Lordships' House, but he is not here, so I will not give him away:Pure water is the best of drink,'The Temperance Party sing;But who am I, that I should haveThe best of everything?Let statesmen revel at the pump,Peers with the pond make free;Whisky or beer, or even wine,Is good enough for me.While I hold those views, I maintain that I am entitled to know where I can get the best whisky, the best beer and the best wine. There is only one way in which I can be told, and that is through advertisements, and I shall therefore support the Amendment.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I think that most of the noble Lords who have spoken in favour of this Bill so far have been teetotallers. I am not quite sure whether they all have, but certainly most of them have. I was not quite sure about the right reverend Prelate; I thought he might have been a boon companion, but he told us that he has been a teetotaller for fifty years. I think, therefore, that I may, as a life-long drinker, be allowed to say a word in support of the principle of the Bill. After all, what we are discussing to-day is the principle, and I venture to point out to your Lordships that neither of the noble Lords who put down Motions for the rejection of the Bill really directed himself to the principle at all. The noble Lord, Lord Askwith, told us a good deal about the consequences which would happen in connection with unemployment and other things, and the noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, made a speech against prohibition. They did not deal with the only question which is really before your Lordships: whether or not the unrestricted advertising of drink is a good thing.
The noble Lord, Lord Arnold, in his first speech asked, "What is beer?" but the question with which I have been more concerned during the course of the debate is "What is truth?" That is a very old question, which was asked a good many hundred years ago and will be asked a good many times in the future. Of course, the fact is that truth is a very relative matter. While I am quite prepared to agree that in certain circumstances beer is a good thing—I have very excellent uses for it myself—in other circumstances, and in excess, beer is a very bad thing.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
"Bad beer," the noble Lord says. Lord Askwith told us, "There ain't no such thing as bad beer." The real question is with regard to this unrestricted advertising. The object of the advertising is naturally, of course, to increase the sale of beer, and its object is therefore to make a lot more people drink a lot more beer. I am afraid that my view is that if that object is achieved it will not be a good thing. That is the whole point: Is 448 it a good thing that a lot more people should drink a lot more beer in this country, or is it not'? The noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, said in effect: "Thank God the nation is more sober than ever it has been. Let us remain as we were, and year by year the consumption will decrease." That is not quite what is happening. I agree that you must not attach too much importance to year-by-year fluctuation, but the figures are just a little bit ominous.
The lowest point of convictions for drunkenness was reached in 1932. Then came the reduction in the Beer Duty and the advertising campaign. I am not going to try to attribute the change which took place to either, but I think that they both had something to do with it. I have before me the Home Office figures for convictions for drunkenness in 77 county boroughs in those two years. Whereas, in 1932, there were 26,000 convictions, in 1933 there were 31,000, and in 1934 the figure had risen to 33,000. That is only for a part of the country, and I am informed that when later figures for the whole country are available, if history is any precedent, they will reflect that increase, or possibly to a larger extent. Nobody can deny that that is rather ominous, and I am very much interested in this question from my rather close connection with the housing problem. I know what this increase of convictions for drunkenness means in the lives of the various people for whom I am occupied in trying to get houses. I know it means that for every 1,000 convictions for drunkenness, in a great many other unnumbered thousands of cases there will be a much larger expenditure on liquor than the family resources really justify.
Perhaps the noble Lord behind me thinks that is not any business of ours, that it does not matter to us as individuals what any individual working man chooses to do with his money. I think the social consequences of an increase in convictions for drunkenness—and an increased consumption of liquor always means an increase in convictions for drunkenness—are serious. Lord Ask-with pointed out quite truly that if you prohibit advertisements it entails much less money spent on printing, and so forth, and people being thrown out of employment. He said that twenty-seven trades would be affected. I am sure that if the money were diverted into paying for 449 boots and shoes, you would get increased employment in other trades, and I believe it is the fact that the liquor trade employs fewer men per £1,000 of output than any other trade. I should not be afraid of the social consequences of restriction. I think they would be good, and I regard the prospect of an additional increase in the consumption of liquor, followed by an increase in convictions for drunkenness, with some alarm.
As to the advertisements themselves, I think some of them are very amusing indeed, and some are excessively vulgar. As I think all advertising is vulgar, I make no particular complaint about that. I am quite sure that they are excessively skilful, and I think they will achieve their object. This is a legitimate trade, but it is admitted to be a trade which is a danger, and it is for that reason controlled. It seems to me to be a logical consequence, if it is right to control a trade, and if evil consequences are seen to be flowing from unrestricted advertisements, that it may be right to consider controlling those advertisements. It is more logical to say that than it is to say that this Bill is the thin end of the wedge of prohibition. Lord Mount Temple said that this is the thin end of the wedge of prohibition. That is a legitimate argument. I am not afraid of prohibition, and I am not afraid of its coining; but it is just as logical to say that this is a controlled trade, and if these dangers are coming from uncontrolled advertisements then they ought to be controlled.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, my noble friend said that these advertisements are intended to increase the consumption of beer, and the Bishop of London laid stress on the fact that two million pounds was spent annually on advertisements. I regard these advertisements for the most part, not as being inducements to consume more beer, but as a means of dealing with trade competition. I agree with my noble friend that some of the advertisements ought to be condemned, and I suggest that those interested in the trade should come together and form a body like the one, of which I read in to-day's paper, being formed by retailers, to secure certain standards of goods. In the same way, I think there ought to be a standard of 450 advertisements. For the most part the advertisements are amusing, and some are very picturesque, and quite pleasing to look at; but there are two or three exceptions which are vulgar and undesirable, and I think they cause the enemy, not unnaturally, to blaspheme. I am not going to add to the many arguments adduced against this Bill. Lord Hutchison asked quite truly: What about all these other advertisements for drugs and food and such things? How much ill has been caused to the public by indulging: in the various nostrums put before them? I think it would be very unfair indeed to stop a trade advertising its goods—a trade in which the Government is definitely interested. Therefore, I trust that this House will refuse a Second Reading to a measure the introduction of which was refused altogether in. another place. It would be a rather strong order if we were to give a Second Reading to a measure which was condemned by the House of Commons.
THE EARL OF FEVERSHAM
My Lords, we have listened to a very interesting debate on an aspect of what I might call the perennial liquor problem which has not, I believe, previously received much attention in Parliament. Your Lordships have, I think, now heard all that is to be said for and against the Bill, and the observations which I have to offer will be brief. Speaking on behalf of the Government, while I would pay my tribute to the skill with which the noble Lord and his supporters have argued the case in favour of his proposals, I must range myself with those who consider that the Bill cannot be regarded as a practical or justifiable proposition. As your Lordships have already heard, the Royal Commission, while not unimpressed by the case put before them, could not see their way to recommend the statutory prohibition or, except on one minor point, restriction of liquor advertisements. It may be true that since the date of their Report the volume and force of liquor advertisements have been intensified, but I cannot agree with Lord Arnold when he said that the Commission, if they had been sitting to-day, would have come to a different conclusion. On the contrary, I think it would have been as difficult for the Commission to make a 451 recommendation for a statutory prohibition or restriction as it was at that time.
It is perfectly true, as Lord Rhayader said, that the sale and supply of intoxicants have already been subjected, in the public interest, to close statutory restriction. That, however, is not to say that there is any warrant for such further drastic restraint of trade as is proposed under the Bill. The law definitely recognises and allows private trade in intoxicating liquors, and so long as that is so the trade can, I submit, reasonably claim freedom, within the law, to push the sale of their goods. But I would not go so far as to say that there are no possible circumstances in which some restriction of liquor advertisements might have to be considered. This Bill, however, does not seek merely to restrict what are regarded as the most objectionable methods of advertisement, but to prohibit all effective forms of liquor advertisement. It is, I suggest clear therefore, that no case has been established for such a proposal and that the Bill, stands no present chance of acceptance by public opinion throughout the country. In the circumstances my recommendation to your Lordships is that the Bill should not be accorded a Second Reading.
§ LORD ARNOLD
My Lords, I have listened to the statement of the noble Earl with profound regret. I think it is a matter for great concern that the Government have nothing more to say about this very grave matter than he has said this evening. Apparently the Government do not mind in the least what palpable scientific untruths are put before the public day after day, inducing or, as my noble friend Lord Rhayader said—and he is a very careful man in the use of words—seducing young people to take drink, which inevitably means in course of time that a certain proportion of them will become drunkards. The noble Earl said that the measure is not practicable, but he did not develop that argument in the least. There is not the slightest difficulty in carrying out the measure. Some noble Lords do not seem to have understood the elements of the measure. It does not prohibit advertisement. It merely says there shall be so much and no more. There is no practical difficulty whatever.
452 I should like to refer to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, in moving the rejection of the Bill. Let me first of all take his point about the drafting. I definitely stated that as there had been an objection to the Bill, I had submitted that to very high authority, and I had been informed that the drafting was clear and in order. The idea that under the Bill you could not ask anybody to a cocktail party is sheer nonsense. The governing words in Clause 1 (1) are "any circular or other document. "Those are the words which precede the word "invitation" a little lower down. How could a "circular or other document"—quite apart from the fact that the word "advertising," which really governs the whole subsection, is used—be used to cover an invitation to a cocktail party? What is a circular? The dictionary says it is "a business notice or advertisement printed in large numbers for distribution." That does not sound very much like an invitation to a cocktail party. What is a document, which is put in as alternative to a circular? A document, according to the dictionary, is "something written, inscribed, etc., which furnishes evidence or information upon any subject, as a manuscript, title-deed, etc." How could you possibly, by any conceivable misconstruction, put an interpretation upon that as meaning an invitation to a cocktail party? The thing is preposterous. I have no doubt there is no more in the other objections of the noble Lord—because I could not catch them all across the floor of the House.
The drafting has been most carefully done and, as I said before, I do not believe that any alteration is necessary. But if it were it could undoubtedly be made clear beyond a peradventure in Committee by the alteration of a word or two. And if that had to be done it would only put this Bill into the same category as nine Bills out of ten which come before your Lordships' House. I remember a Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Danesfort, dealing with plumage. It was so badly drafted that it had to be redrafted and brought in again in a different form before it could go to Committee. Those of us here who introduce Bills have not the Government draftsman at our disposal. But if the noble Lord will look at the words I think he will see that the governing words are those which I have indicated. 453 He made other observations about the Bill to which it is scarcely worth while to reply. Unemployment has been referred to. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh put that very clearly. There is hardly any trade which employs so few people in proportion to capital as the brewing trade.
I will not discuss the effect on the Budget. I could prove that there would not be the smallest difficulty in balancing the Budget if the whole of the drink traffic were done away with. It has been estimated that at the present time the workers have to work six weeks each year to pay the workers' drink bill. It must be remembered that the Budget consists of revenue and expenditure, and if the drink trade were done away with the expenditure of the country would be enormously reduced, both nationally and locally. I will make one final observation about the noble Lord's speech, and that is on the question of buttonhole badges. He said they were pretty things to give to children; like flowers. Does he seriously tell your Lordships that brewers and other people have these badges manufactured to be given to children just like little presents without any ulterior motive? The idea is preposterous. They are a form of advertisement. That is what it is done for and that is its effect. I do not think there are other points that I need deal with. Other noble Lords—and I thank them very much for their support—have, I think, dealt with everything else which it was really necessary to deal with. I submit that this Bill raises a real issue which calls for the intervention of Parliament.
§ On Question, Motion negatived: Amendment agreed to, and Bill to be read 2a this day six months accordingly.