16 AUGUST 1957, Page 6

IN THE Spectator eighteen months ago, Dr. Donald McI. Johnson,

MP, ridiculed the State- owned pubs in his constituency, Carlisle; they were an example, he thought, of what Professor Toynbee had in mind when he referred to 'civilisations which have not been abortive, yet have not developed either, but have been arrested at birth.' The main object of the Carlisle State Management Scheme, founded in 1916, was to make the sale of liquor disinterested, and thus to prevent drunkenness; but the Old Adam, Dr. Johnson admitted, has not been banished from Carlisle. No, indeed!—to judge by last week's headlines. 'Yard Fraud Men In,' the Cumber- land News announced : 'Probe into State Pub Finances.' The national press was even more dis- respectful, referring to 'a £20,000 fiddle.' What- ever the truth behind the allegations, it has long been obvious that the State pub scheme in Carlisle is a failure; indeed, that conclusion was implicit in the Southborough Committee report of 1925, which advised against extending the scheme. Evidence enough has accumulated since to suggest that there is no need of a further committee— except, perhaps, to decide how best to return the pubs to private enterprise.