18 MAY 1929, Page 19


go the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—Your correspondent, " Prudens Futuri " is at one with practically all those temperance reformers whose idea of reform stops short of prohibition, national or local, in desiring the extinction of what he calls the lowest form of public house, and the improvement of those remaining by appropriate structural changes and by the provision of facilities for reason- able recreation. This is precisely what was done and is still being done in Carlisle.

" Prudens Futuri," says that Lord D'Abernon condemns State purchase because it would introduce more evils than it is designed to remove, and mistrusts a " complete " (by which presumably is meant" national ") monoply, but would approve regional monopolies, brought about by sunalgamation within the Trade. What the suggested evils are, or why trade mono- polies should not involve them whilst State monopolies would, he does not say ; but the Bishop of Liverpool and" Experientia Docet " supply cogent argument in the other direction.

Even with D.O.R A. powers, it was impossible to control the trade in private hands " ; "It is the business of the brewer to make and sell drink . . . and it is his duty to his shareholders to sell as much beer as he can."

This duty must always operate against measures that tend to diminish sales. " Prudens Futuri " makes much of the fact that in late years brewers' profits have increased whilst sales of drink have diminished ; but this arises from changed conditions and circumstances. In these changed circum- stances, larger sales would have meant still greater profits, and we cannot surely assume that the decreased sales have arisen through the brewers deliberately endeavouring to restrict them or refraining from efforts to increase them. The first step the Control Board_ took in Carlisle was to close about half the public houses in the place as being either redundant or unsuitable—" the lowest form," in fact. Is it likely that under, a local trade monopoly, with the shareholders in mind, this could be done in the same drastic way ? I greatly doubt it.

But what has been done in Carlisle could equally be done in other places if the Bill, promulgated by the Temperance Legis- lation League, were to become law. Under this Bill the citizens in any defined area could decide by a sufficient majority on a poll to do away with private ownership of the liquor 'trade, and substitute disinterested management, generally on the lines of Carlisle. . A Central Board of Management would be created (under which then Carlisle as well as other areas would work) which with a Local Advisury Committee would control and direct the trade in the area; Compensation for interests and properties acquired would be paid out of a central fund created for the purpose and administered by the Board, and into this fund would be paid all trade profits and money derived from sales of redundant properties, as has been done in Carlisle : and the experience of Carlisle, where the whole of the money originally advanced has been repaid out of profits, testifies to the financial sound- ness of such a scheme.

The details of the Bill, for which there is no space in your correspondence columns, but which safeguard every possible interest against injury, and provide for repeal if that should in any locality be desired, can be studied in literature obtain- able from the Temperance Legislation League, and I commend them to your readers. The initiative would always be with the localities themselves ; the scheme would not be forced on them ; and a measure which would at least permit localities which think the work at Carlisle has been beneficial to set to work in a similar way and secure the same advantages, is surely one which ought to have the sympathy and support of all • temperance reformers. If one may judge from the experience of Carlisle, a locality establishing its" Regional Monopoly " under the provisions of the Bill is never likely to wish to retrace its steps.—! am, Sir, &c., J. T. DUNN. 10 Dean Street, Newcastk-on-Tyne.

[The insuperable objection to a privately owned drink trade to our mind is that, in common with all other commercial enterprises, it must seek increased sales and increased profits. The writer discussed this problem with the late Mr. Strachey on many occasions, and it was this immutable fact which was and is responsible for the Spectator advocating some form of public control of the sale of alcoholic liquor. Have any of those who wish the drink trade to remain in private hands ever suggested a method by which the shareholders in dis- tilleries and breweries could be persuaded to welcome reduced sales and smaller dividends ?—En. Spectator.]