SIR,—Pubs are giving way to clubs, it is suggested, because
they do not all stock a certain brand of tonic water and—allegedly—'national' beers. If this really were the case, why should so many 'free' houses have gone under in recent years? The others, the brewer-owned pubs, do in fact stock 'national' beers if they are likely to be in demand; and they are not, as far as anyone can judge, dwindling.
Of course clubs are growing in number, although many have short lives and although between 1953-54 and 1955-56, the last year for which figures are available, the proportion of the liquor trade handled by clubs actually decreased.
But why do they tend generally to increase? The Royal Commission on Licensing had no doubt that it was because the licensing law gave clubs great advantages over the pub. The thing is obvious enough. How can clubs in Wales, for example, fail to increase when they can open on Sundays and pubs cannot? It would make no difference even if the clubs sold only one brew while the 'locals' were stocked with every sort of beer and soft drink. This is admittedly the most flagrant advantage the licensing law gives to clubs. There are others less apparent but equally unfair in their way.
Faced with this competition, brewer-owned pubs could not have survived with their total undiminished in recent years, if it were not that in Mr. Graham Hutton's words 'many brewers arc sensible, give wonderful service . . . and genuinely strive to serve what is wanted.'—Yours faithfully,
R. L. SCOONES
National Trade Development Association, 42 Portman Square, WI