THE " OXFORD " LOCAL OPTION BILL [To the Editor
of the SPECTATOR.]
Salvesen misunderstands the Oxford Bill when he says that it " does not attempt to introduce any reform of the existing system under which alcoholic liquors are sold." I would point out that the Reorganization Option provides a reform— and a very effective reform—by changing th6 existing system of selling drink for private profit, on a competitive basis, to a system of disinterested public ownership.
Lord Salvesen has attempted to draw deductions from his experience of the working of the Scottish Local Veto Act. But I would suggest that the Scottish Act, with its purely suppressive options and small experimental areas, can provide no data of value for the Oxford Bill, with its constructive option of Reorganization and large experimental areas.
In your own article you referred to the need of taking the Drink Trade out of politics, and commended the Oxford Bill for helping to effect this. Lord Shaw's Committee in 1917 reported on the urgency of this in Scotland, stating that the Drink Trade was " highly organized," " amply equipped with means," and played a " not unimportant part in political and municipal contests." It is largely because the Reorganization option would deal with this aspect of the problem that many of us support the Oxford Bill in preference to the alternative proposals supported by Lord Salvesen for converting a very limited number of " drink shops " into " improved " public- houses, whilst still leaving the trade in private hands.—I am,