10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 18

[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—I do not expect

to convince Mr. H. B. Wilion, Hon. Secretary of the Temperance Legislation League, of anything which may be derogatory to State Control of publk-bouses, or nationalisation of the Drink Trade, the pet fad of the League, whose programme has been cunningly devised so as to harass the Trade as much as possible without alarming the customers. Mr. Wilson has not produced a tittle of evidence to controvert the facts I have adduced, and the jury of your readers will determine on which side the truth and the weight of evidence rests.

Temperance reformers are hopelessly divided, and are quarrel- ling over questions of methods for transforming public-houses in accordance with modem needs, with an intolerance and vehemence which are absurd and amusing when used in the cause of temperance, and lead away from; rather than to 7 permanent solution of the problem. State ownership is vehemently opposed by extremists. 'on the • temperance side, who shiver at the idea of the Government "going into part-

nership with the devil "—the . devil, according to these queer folk, lurking in the froth of a glass of beer ; by the confiscating Socialists, who denounce compensation for the owners of brewery, distillery, and public-house property ; by the Trade, because it is the open boast of its detractors that purchase by the State precludes compensation ; and by the average man because it means the trammels of bureaucratic government. . " I am not prepared," says the Bishop of Durham, "for State Control of public-houses. I think the State already too powerful, and if given this new influence the State would become an intolerable menace to individual liberty."

All that has been done at Carlisle has been done and is being done by private owners, and no Government department can provide as good a service to the public as can be offered by the retailer who takes a pride in his trade, and the value of whose property is dependent on the supervision he exercises, the initiative he shows, and the reputation for good fellowship which