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Quarterly Journal 

of Economics. 


chap. paoi 

Introductory Note 1 

I. The Need for Reform 5 

England when Lioensing was establifihed — England 
Now — The Criteria of iLicenfling-i-The Law Permits 
Excess — Inadequate Police Supervision — Otherwise Good 
— It does not win Popular Confidence — It does not 
encourage Moderation — Monopoly Profits for the State 

II. Alternatives to Municipausation — High 

Licence 19 

The Five Forms of the Liquor Trade— Free Trade- 
High Licence — ^Verdict on High Licence 

I. Alternatives (continued) — Local Veto . . 29 

The Case for Local Veto — Local Veto and Prohibition 
— The Arguments for Local Option — ^The Bight of Con- 
trol — How Veto would "Work — In East-End Wards — In 
Artisan Suburbs — In West-End Wards — In Rural Dis- 
tricts — ^Vcto in Towns — Local Option for Rural Districts 
— The Rights of a Majority — The Law which failed — 
Prohibition— The Failure of Local Veto— British Law- 
Breakers— Our Rulers Object to It — The American sldv 
Colonial Rulers— Teetotalers in Politics— An Antiquateu 
Philosophy-^Summing-up against Veto 




Gravity and Beer — The Law of Beer- Drinking — 
Beer-Drinking likely to increase — Stationary Consump- 
tion of Spirits — Beer as a Temperance Beverage — Spirits, 
Prohibition and Drunkenness 

V. State Manaoemhnt Abroad . . . .76 

The Argument from other Nations — Norway and 
Sweden — The South Carolina State Dispensaries — Russia 
— The Swiss Spirit Monopoly — ^The Transvaal 

VI. PuBuc Management in Great Britain . . 94 

The Scotch Public House Societies— The People*8 
Refreshment House Association — The Public House 
Trust Companies 

VII. The Case for Municipausation . . .102 

It fulfils the Objects and Qualifications of the Law- 
Popular Control of the Trade — Perpendicular Drinking — 
Humanising the Public House— MunicipaUsation and 
the Drink Bill — Good Liquor — Municipalisation and the 
Bates — The Political Power of the Trade— Municipalisa- 
tion Acceptable to All — The Political Argument 

VIII. Problems in Municipal Management . .133 

Municipal Option — Municipal Monopoly and Competi- 
tion — What Municipal Success is — Pooling the Profits — 
Counter Attractions — ^No Local Veto or Free Trade- 
Compensation — Municipal Corruption 

IX. An Outune Scheme and the Conclusion . 154 

South African Simplicity — The Municipalising Autho- 
rity — Other Reforms — ^The True Temperance Policy 

Bibuooraphical Note 159 

Index l6s 




Introductory Note 1 

I. The Need for Reform 5 

England when Lioensing was established — England 
Now — The Criteria oif jLicensing-i-The Law Permits 
Excess — Inadequate Police Supervision — Otherwise Grood 
— It does not win Popular Confidence — It does not 
encourage Moderation — Monopoly Profits for the Ststte 

II. Alternatives to Municipausation — High 

Licence 19 

The Five Forms of the Liquor Trade— Free Trade- 
High Licence — ^Verdict on High Licence 

I. Alternatives (continued) — Local Veto , . 29 

The Case for Local Veto — Local Veto and Prohibition 
—The Arguments for Local Option — The Bight of Con- 
trol — How Veto would "Work — In East-End Wards — In 
Artisan Suburbs— In West-End Wards— In Rural Dis- 
tricts — ^Vcto in Towns — Local Option for Rural Districts 
— The Rights of a Majority — The Law which failed — 
Prohibition— The Failure of Local Veto— British Law- 
Breakers— Our Bulers Object to It— The American aot- 
Colonial Rulers— Teetotalers in Politics— An Antiquated 
Philosophy — Summing-up against Veto 




Gravity and Beer — The Law of Beer- Drinking — 
Beer-Drinking likely to increase — Stationary Consump- 
tion of Spirits — Beer as a Temperance Beverage — Spirits, 
Prohibition and Drunkenness 

V. State Manaoemhnt Abroad . . . .76 

The Argument from other Nations — Norway and 
Sweden — The South Carolina State Dispensaries — Russia 
— The Swiss Spirit Monopoly — The Transvaal 

VI. Public Management in Great Britain . . 94 

The Scotch Public House Societies — The People*8 
Refreshment House Association — The Public House 
Trust Companies 

VII. The Case for Municipalisation . .102 

It fulfils the Objects and Qualifications of the Law — 
Popular Control of the Trade — Perpendicular Drinking — 
Humanising the Public House— Municipalisation and 
the Drink Bill — Good Liquor — Municipalisation and the 
Bates — The Political Power of the Trade— Municipalisa- 
tion Acceptable to All — The Political Argument 

VIII. Problems in Municipal Management . .133 

Municipal Option — Municipal Monopoly and Competi- 
tion — What Municipal Success is — ^Pooling the Profits — 
Counter Attractions — ^No Local Veto or Free Trade- 
Compensation — ^Municipal Corruption 

IX, An Outline Scheme and the Conclusion . 154 

South African Simplicity — ^The Municipalising Autho- 
rity—Other Reforms— The True Temperance Policy 

Bibuooraphical Note .159 
Index l6s 




The somewhat controversial tone of this volume 
is due to the fact that it was written for the 
"Pro and Con" Series, now unfortunately 
suspended. Certain modifications have been 
made, but a complete revision was impossible. 

Only a few years ago students of the Liquor 
Problem were wont to complain that temper- 
ance reformers disregarded facts, and had no 
accurate knowledge of the experiments which 
have been tried so abimdantly in America and 
elsewhere. Hardly any book existed which 
treated of the licensing systems of the world or 
contained political data systematically arranged. 

But Messrs. Rowntree and Sherwell, authors 
of "The Temperance Problem and Social 
Reform," and other volumes, have effected a 
reform which has since perhaps gone to an 
extreme. Their admirable works are treasure- 
houses of quotations and statistics : they set out 


detailed calciilations of the profit on an esti- 
mated consumption of liquor, and the uses to 
which it could be devoted, with all the enthu- 
siasm of an " expert " forecasting dividends for 
the prospectus of a Jungle Gold Mine. Oppon- 
ents have attempted to replv with rival figures 
and opposition quotations, which again have led 
to crushing rejoinders, also highly statistical 
and quotational, from Messrs. Rowntree and 
Sherwell. Other recent writers have adopted 
the same positive method, and altogether the 
reading public has been bombarded with figures 
enough to last a lifetime. 

In this volume we shall be compelled to quote 
facts and figures, but we shall aim at modera- 
tion in their use. At best they are not conclu- 
sive. What has happened in Gothenburg or 
Bergen, in Portland (Maine) or in South Caro- 
lina, need not necessarily also happen in Leeds 
and Newcastle and Bristol. The historical 
method may be carried too far, although it is 
infinitely preferable, even in excess, to the 
absence of any scientific method at all. 

We must also say frankly that we cannot 
pretend to compete, in the matter of statistical 
knowledge, with Messrs. Rowntree and Sher- 
well. They have devoted years of research and 
months of personal inquiry and topical investi- 
gation to the preparation of their great work 
and the supplementary volumes they have since 
issued. Their writings, indeed, are for the 
student of the liquor problem already classics, 


much as is the lexicon of Dean Liddell and Dr. 
Scott for the Greek scholar. He would never 
dream of referring to the authors of that volume 
in any other style than " Liddell and Scott," and 
in the same way, for the sake of brevity and 
euphony, we shall venture to employ the phrase 
"Rowntree and Sherwell," and in our notes 
even to abbreviate it to " R. and S." 

We approach our subject as politicians, and 
must trust in the main to data provided for us 
by others. Moreover, like nearly all other 
temperance reformers, with the notable excep- 
tion of Dr. Arthur Shadwell, we cannot profess 
to an intimate personal acquaintance with public- 
houses, or even with the use of alcohol. Habits 
of many years' standing are not easily broken 
down ; the time at our disposal has not per- 
mitted us to make a first-hand study of public- 
house interiors, or to become expert in the use 
of beer and spirits. 

The line of our argument is this :~ 

We shall first show that the present system 
of licensing does not stand the tests of eflBciency 
which we lay down, and that therefore some 
drastic reform is called for. 

Only three general methods have been 
suggested : — 

High licence, which, with much to recommend 
it, is incomplete and politically impracticable. 

Local Veto, which we shall prove to be 
entirely wrong in principle and likely to be 
altogether futSe in practice. 


The third, municipalisation, by a process of 
exhaustion, is the only method left. 

We shall show that this plan fully meets all 
the tests of efficiency which we apply, that its 
immediate and obvious advantages are great, 
and its political prospects bright, whilst its 
dan^rs and difficulties are only such as are 
inevitable in any drastic reconstruction of an 
institution so closely bound up with everyday 
life, and so intimately connected with two 
ahnost universal passions, the desire for wealth 
and for stunulants, aa is the Drink Trade. 



England when Licensing was estabEshed — ^Eng- 
land now — ^The Criteria of Licensing — The Law 
permits Excess — Inadequate Police Supervision — 
Otherwise good — It does not win Popular Confi- 
dence — It does not encourage Moderation — 
Monopoly Profits for the State 



In the days of King Edward VI. England was 
inhabited by a nation of peasants, dwelling in 
hamlets scattered amidst forest and marsh and 
moor. At long intervals small market towns 
were to be found, and the cities, with an urban 
population of artisans and merchants, could be 
counted on the fingers. 

This people, just awakening to the self- 
consciousness of the Beformation, and to the 
national life of the Elizabethan era, was mainly 
ruled by customary law. The central authority 
in rural districts was chiefly represented by the 
Justices of the Peace, and in corporate towns 


the Justices, elected by the Burgesses, were 
among the chief civic authorities. 

When, therefore, it seemed good to Parlia- 
ment to deal with the liquor traffic, it was 
natural that the justices, who already had power 
to suppress ale-houses, should be appointed to 
license the inns and taverns of the day, and by 
the 6th of Edward VL, cap. 25, it was provided 
that one or two justices should '^ take bond and 
surety from time to time of such as shall be 
admitted and allowed hereafter to keep any 
common ale-house or tippling-house as well as 
for and against the using of unlawful games as 
also for the using and maintenance of good 
order to be had and used within the same as 
shall be thought necessary and convenient." 
The licence thus granted was to be recorded at 
the next quarter sessions, and the fee for it was 
twelve pence. Persons who had done acts 
whereby they had forfeited their recognisances 
were to be dealt with ; and any person selling 
without a licence was to be put in gaol for 
three days without bail, and then to give 
recognisances with two sureties not to oftend 
again. Free selling was allowed at fairs. 

Here then we have the outline of the licensing 
system exactly as it exists to-day. Later legis- 
lation has merely amplified the general principle 
thus laid down ; in form, of course, the Act has 
been repealed : in substance it remains the law 
of the land to this day. 



England of King Edward VII. is a very 
diflFerent place. "Hie population has grown 
from four millions to over thirty-two miUions ; 
its density has increased from 68 to 558 per 
square mile. Whole counties are now in law 
and in fact mainly urban districts. Agricul- 
ture is the business of a smaU minority ; the 
bulk of the people live in big towns, or in- 
dustrial villages^ and work in ketones and 
mines, or in the varied occupations of the 

Yet the Liquor Licensing Law of Edward VI. 
is in its essentials still the law of the land. So 
happy was the inspiration of the men who 
drafted the first Licensing Act that it has 
served its purpose through three and a half 
centuries of unexampled growth and change, 
and only in recent decades has it been found 

Now, however, by almost universal consent, 
the existing licensmg system is out of date. 
It was established, as the Act of Edward VI. 
says, to allay *Hhe intolerable hurts and 
troubles to the commonwealth of this realm 
caused through such abuses and disorders as 
are had in common ale-houses *' ; but now the 
law itself promotes these intolerable hurts, and 
has created new ones, necessarily unforeseen by 
Tudor law-makers. 



Let us first consider what are the objects of 
the Licensing Law, and what conditions it must 
fulfil in order to merit our approval 

The purposes of the law are :— 

(1) To prevent excessive consumption of 

(2) To secure adequate police supervision of 
public-houses, due enforcement of rules as to 
closing, &c., and the prevention of drunkenness 
and disorder. 

^3^ To raise a revenue for public purposes. 
4) To prevent the sale of untaxed liquor. 
5; To prevent adulteration. 
A good Licensing Law must attain these ends, 
and in addition : — 

(1) It should win popular confidence by 
responding, within limits, to popular control 

(2) It should directly encourage moderation 
in every possible way. 

(3) It should secure to the State the whole of 
the special profits which the regulation of the 
trade creates. 

(4) Finally, it must not only be desired by a 
majority of the people, but must also be 
acquiesced in by practically all classes closely 
concerned in it. 

The demand for a reform of the Licensing Law 
is based on the fact that the existing law does 
not properly fiilfil two of the five purposes 


named above, and does not possess any of the 
qualifications of a good law. 

The case against the existing system is as 
follows : — 


That it does not prevent excessive consump- 
tion of liquor. No doubt it is better than no 
licensing system at all. Free trade in alcohol is 
out of the question. But excess in consumption 
of drink is admittedly prevalent. Too large a 
proportion of the income of the working classes 
IS spent on what at best is a poor form of 
luxury, yielding doubtful gains to physical, and 
none at all to intellectual, artistic, or moral 
development, whilst at worst it is a terrible 
physical and social poison, destructive of health, 
character, social prosperity, and family happi- 

This national and individual excess in con- 
sumption , of liquor, due in part to the over- 
licensing of some districts, is not only permitted 
by the existing system, but is directly promoted 
by some parts of it. The trade, both wholesale 
and retail, is left in the hands of private under- 
takers (if we may use the word in a sense 
sanctioned by leading economists, and by recent 
Acts of Parliament), whose interest it is to in- 
crease their business. All the persons connected 
with the trade are concerned to promote the use 
of the wares they sell, in order to add to the 


profits of their business. They discourage indi- 
vidual excess, no doubt, both for better reasons 
and because licence-holders who permit drunken- 
ness get into trouble. But no one can deny that 
the brewer, the distiller, the manager of the tied 
and the licensee of the free house, all endeavour 
to extend their trade — that is, to increase the 
already too great consumption of liquor. 

On this count, therefore, the present system 
stands condemned. It does something, but by 
no means enough, to mitigate those " intolerable 
hurts and troubles to the commonwealth of this 
realm," for whose prevention it was established 
just three and a half centuries ago. 


That it does not secure adequate police 

On this head the administration rather than 
the letter of the law is to blame, except in the 
case of the privileged beer-houses, whose licences 
can only be refiised on statutory grounds. 
However, the fax^t remains that the sW regions 
of all large towns are crowded with small public- 
houses, the haunts of thieves and prostitutes, 
the meeting-places for the criminal classes, 
where all sorts of mischief is concocted, and all 
kinds of anti-social habits encouraged. These 
low public-houses are permitted by the law, and 
the law by their mere existence stands con- 



The other three objects of the law are on the 
whole attained : a revenue is raised by the 
excise licences ; no untaxed liquor is sold ; and 
adulteration by noxious ingredients is excep- 

But when we turn to the requisites of a good 
licensing system we find the present law alto- 
gether unsatisfactory. 


It does not receive popular confidence because 
its administration is entirely outside popular ^ 

The sphere of representative government has 
been vastly widened during the past twenty 
years. By the creation of County Councils, an 
elected authority was substituted for the ^ 
justices throughout England and Wales. Then 
properly organised parisn meetings and councils 
replaced the impotent annual vestry meetings. 
In Scotland and Ireland local government has 

* Water and sugar were the only adulterants discovered 
ih 1902 in 5013 samples of beer analysed on behalf of the 
Government (" National Temperance League Annual, * 
190s," p. 58). The Report of the Royal Commission 
states positively that adulteration of a hurtful character 
both in beer and spirits is ''practically non-existent" 
(p. 2S> 


been reformed on similar lines, whilst in London 
the simplification of the electoral machinery and 
the readjustment of areas, in addition to the 
creation of the London County Council, have 
given the citizens adequate control over their 
affairs, and a sense of corporate life which has 
been wanting for centuries. Finally, the Educa- 
tion Acts of 1902 and 1903 have placed in the 
hands of the Town and County Councils the 
control of a truly national system of education 
throughout England and Wales. 

In all that concerns his daily life the English 
citizen is now his own master, acting through 
his elected representatives, save only in the 
matter of the sale of intoxicanta Tet this one 
exception is deemed by a large section to be of 
first-rate importance. Hundreds of thousands 
of persons are bound together in voluntary 
societies whose object it is to give effect to a 
policy on this subject. It is a matter which 
touches, more or less closely, the dailv life of 
the majority of the people. Its administration 
can be and is aflEected by changes of poUcy in 
the administrators ; but these changes are made, 
not in response to the desires of the electorate, 
but in accordance with the personal opinions of 
the justices, a body of men appointed in the 
main for other duties, and selected, perhaps we 
should say co-opted, usually because they are 
the happy possessors of large landed estates, or 
because they have been successful in their 
private businesses. There are, no doubt, a few 



exceptions to this general statement. Some 
trade union secretaries have been made J.P.s 
of late years, and the chairmen of County and 
District Councils become justices ex officio. 
But these classes are but an insignificant fraction 
of the whole. 

The claim of the teetotal party that the 
people have a "right" to control the drink 
traffic is in our opimon perfectly vaUd, though 
the control we contemplate is wholly different 
from that which the teetotalers demand. Cer- 
tain it is that the law as at present administered 
by an irresponsible authority does not win 
popular conndence, because it is beyond popular 
control. The justices, who administer it in 
accordance with their own sense of the fitness 
of things, generally jog along on ancient and 
well-trodden paths, making little effort to 
remedy old abuses, but very seldom permitting 
new ones. Occasionally they strike out in new 
directions, to the astonishment of all concerned, 
when they are apt to be pulled up by the judges, 
or else scolded by the Premier of the day 
and threatened with new legislation to keep 
them in order. 

Governments, both Liberal and Conservative, 
have in yeajrs gone by tried and failed to remove 
this strange anomaly. 

The Local Government Bill of 1888, which 
created County Councils, proposed to make the 
councillors the licensing authorities in rural 
districts and the Town Councils in the towns. 


But the clauses had to be withdrawn, owing to 
Liberal opposition. Sir William Harcourt's 
Local Veto Bill was another attempt to 
disestablish the justices, but it failed, at any 
rate nominally, because Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman had not stocked sufficient cordite to 
satisfy the Opposition. 

The last Koyal Commission unanimously 
recommended that Town and County Councils 
should be empowered to appoint a substantial 
proportion of the licensing authority for each 
district, and this may be taken as evidence that 
no large section seriously defends a system 
which permits nominees of the Crow to 
manage an essential part of local government. 

If the justices had made more mistakes in 
their licensing duties, if they had exercised 
more thought, if they had reformed more 
vigorously, if they had caused more scandals, if, 
in a word, they had done anything else than jog 
along respectably on the beaten track, they 
would have been disestablished long ago. They 
themselves probably care little for work which 
is troublesome and wholly inglorious. They 
would not object to relinquishing their licensing 
duties, but no other authority is particularly 
anxious to take them over. Town and County 
Councillors are in no hurry to add a new danger 
to the security of their seats, and a fresh subject 
for election hecklers. Everybody admits that 
our system is unsatisfactory ; but the difficulties 
in the way of a change are great, and so 


the law of King Edward VI. still holds the 

But it &ils to secure the confidence of 
the people, and for this failure it must be 


The second essential of a good licensing 
system is that it should encourage modera- 
tion in every possible way. We have already 
shown that the existing law fails to prevent 
the excessive consumption of liquor, oecause 
in certain places it permits licensed premises 
to be far too numerous. We contena that a 
good system should aim at something more ] 
than a mere negation. It should be designed / 
on the plan of a compensating pendulum, 
carefully adjusted to the needs of each locality 
and the weaknesses of every class. In some 
districts and amongst some classes excess in 
drink is admittedly a constant and terrible evil. 
A good licensing system would take account of 
this fact. It might, for example, provide for 
any such locality a large, light, clean, airy, well- 
stfidBfed, and highly respectable public-house, 
with a first-rate manager, under instructions to 
obey the utmost letter and the fullest spirit of 
the law. Every effort might be made to dis- 
courage the incidental vices of public-house life. 
The slum-dweller must have his liquor, but 
there is no reason why the State should not see 


that he is given a lesson in decency and comfort 
every time he takes his glass. 

We shall return to this point later on. 
Meanwhile it can be stated without fear of 
contradiction that the present licensing system 
does nothing in the way of positively encourag- 
ing temperance. It provides no antidote to the 
evils which of necessity it permits. On this 
count it must plead guilty : it is not a good 
Ucensing system. 


The third qualification of a good licensing 
system is that it should secure to the State the 
wliole of the special profits which the regulation 
of the trade creates. 

On this count our present system fails utterly. 
The profits of the drink trade, wholesale and 
retail, notwithstanding the heavy duties already 
paid to the State, are enormous, and in so far 
as they exceed the ordinary profits of other like 
industries, it may be said with certainty that 
the whole of the excess is due to the monopoly 
created by law, and therefore in equity belongs 
to the makers of the law, that is, to tne people. 

There is nothing inherently profitable in the 
manufacture and sale of drink as drink. Tea and 
coffee and lemonade are also drinks : they are 
sold, wholesale and retail, in enormous quantities. 
Some coffee-shops yield big profits and others 
small. A few tea merchants are rich men, and 



even get into the House of Commons. But we 
may search the House of Lords long and dili- 
gently without finding a Lemonade Baron or a 
Cocoa Earl, whilst the number of Beer Lords is 

Fortunes would be made in tobacco or bread 
or meaty or any other commodity in general 
demand, if the law constituted it a strict 
monopoly, allowed only a limited number of 
licensed retailers, and so arranged matters that 
the wholesale dealers could secure hundreds of 
tied bakeries or tobacco-shops and thus defy 

The facts that prove the magnitude of public- 
house profits are so well known, and are to 
be found so fully set forth by Rowntree 
and Sherwell and in the Koyal Commission 
Report, that we shall not repeat them here. 
Any one who doubts these specialists can find 
their view confirmed by Mr, Charles Booth in 
the final volume of his " Life and Labour of the 
People in London,"* and his authority few would 
care to dispute. 

Li several Continental countries the licence 
to retail intoxicants is granted for a nominal fee 
to all comers, and means no more than our Ucence 
to sell tobacco. Where there is no monopoly 
there are no exceptional profits, and the average 
retailer of liquor is no richer than the butcher 
or the baker. A recent Belgian ordinance 
under the law of 1900, which grants old-age 

♦ Pp. 97, ei seq. 



pensions to persons over 65 whose total incomes 
do not exceed £14 85. Od., provides that 
licensed victuallers shall be assumed to make 
more than this income, that is more than 5^. 6d. 
a week, unless they prove the contrary. The 
law therefore contemplates licensees whose 
profits are so small that they may require to 
claim the somewhat trivial old-age pension of 
£2 12s. per annum which Belgium oners to the 
aged poor. 

Our present law which creates enormous 
profits Dy means of a close monopoly and 
confers them on private persons, instead of 
reserving them for public purposes, is clearly 

The present licensing system therefore fails 
adequately to fulfil the purposes for which it 
was enacted. It possesses none of the three 
chief qualifications of a good law, whilst the 
fourth, the acquiescence of all sections of the 
people, belongs to it merely by the right of 
antiquity. That which has existed for centuries 
is regarded as the established order : the con- 
servative majority necessarily accepts it, whilst 
the minority merely seeks to change it by 
poUtical methods. 




The five Fonns of Ldqaor Trade — Free Trade — 
High Licence — A Verdict on High Licence 


If then the cogency of our argument be admitted, 
that our licensing system is too antiquated for 
modern social conditions, and that it fans to pass 
the tests by which we try it, the conclusion 
seems to be plain that mere tinkering altera- 
tions are not enough, that we want a new 
licensing system suited to the needs of the 
twentieth century, designed in the light of the 
latest discoveries of political science, and adapted 
to play its part in the struggle for national 

Happily the choice before us is a fairly large 
one. Schemes in plenty have been devised 
during the past half- century. The fifV^ American '^ 
States devote no inconsiderable sKare of their 
legislative activities to passing liquor laws, 


sometimes for each separate hamlet within 
their borders ; they have thus tried nearly 
every method which the fertile wits of their 
politicians could devise, and, we may add, they 
have generally found their plans wanting in 
success for the desired end. 

Our Colonies have been much less inventive, 
but their experiences yield some results of in- 
terest. Years ago Scandinavia made a bold 
experiment which was crowned with remarkable 
success. More recently Russia and Switzerland 
have entered the field. And finally the yoimgest 
of communities, the Transvaal Colony, has 
adopted a municipalisation law, which is in 
advance on anythmg elsewhere reached, and 
which might weU be adapted for use at 

The methods of dealing with the liquor 
trafl&c can all be roughly grouped under five 
heads : — 

(1) Free Trade : licences granted for a small 
fee to all comers. 

(2) Private Monopoly : our own system : 
licences, closely limited in number, granted for 
a fee disproportionate to their value. 

(is) High Licence : that is, licences granted for 
a fee proportionate to ^eir value. 

(4) Local Veto and prohibition : usually an 
alternative to licences, dependent on a popular 
< /(5) State or public management. 



This prevails, in fact^ though not in form, 
amongst Continental nations of the Celtic 
stock, and in Germany. According to some 
recent theories the more southern of these 
peoples have attained through centuries of 
suffering to a happy immunity from the curse 
of drum:enness, and the problem of the Drink 
Trade concerns them no longer.* But in 
Northern France and in Belgium the results 
of Free Trade are now a matter of grave public 

As, however, no British party is mad enough 
to advocate Free Trade in liquor, we need not 
ftirther discuss it here. 

Our choice of reforms is, therefore, limited to 
three systems. High Licence, Local Veto, and 
State Management. We could, indeed, form 
any combination of these, all three at once, or 
any two together or one at a time. But there 
is nothing else. Unless we reform our licensing 
system out of existence altogether by National 
Prohibition, which is no doubt the ideal of not a 
few teetotalers, we must adopt one or more of 
these plans. 

The next step in our argument is, therefore, 
to consider the merits of High Licence and 
Local Veto. If they do not come up to our 

♦ See '* Alcoholism : a Study in Heredity." By Archdale 
Reid, M.B. Unwin. I901. 


standard of excellence, State management in 
one or other of its many forms is our only 


The neglect of High Licence by the Liberal 
party is something of a political mystery. On 
the face of it, the plan has every qualification 
likely to recommend it to the Bamcal of the 
old school It was approved by Mr. W. E. 
Gladstone, who wrote m 1895, "Free trade, 
with strict police and adequate taxation, was 
unfortunately refused a fan* trial." On the 
other hand, he had " but a poor opinion of the 
scheme of mere limitation by reducing the 
number of licences." * 

Mr. Gladstone, as the typical Liberal of his 
day, no doubt approved High Licence because it 
accords with the traditional policy of the party he 
so long led. It violates none of the principles 
of Free Trade; it seeks reform by means of 
sound finance ; it interferes not with the freedom 
of any man to do what he chooses provided 
always that he can pay the price demanded. 

Local Veto, on the other hand, is entirely 
foreign to Liberal principles ; it is consonant 
with Tory paternalism on the one hand, and on 

* Letter to Mr. T. Snape, read at the Chester Temper- 
ance Congress, October, 1895. It must, however, be 
admitted that parts of this letter can be quoted in support 
of any sort of licensing reform ! See also Morley's " Life 
of Gladstone," vol. ii. p. 390. 


the other with Socialistic disregard for personal 
liberty and private property, in face of the claims 
of the community ; but to the school of laissez 
/aire it can never be anything else than repug- 

Three forms of High Licence may be dis- 
tinguished : 

(1) A fixed licence duty roughly graded 
according to the estimated value of licences in 
large cities, in towns, and in rural districts. 

(2) Sale of licences by auction to the highest 

(3) A licence rate, or rental, charged on each 
licence according to its value. 

The first plan has the advantage of extreme 
simplicity. The licence fee is fixed by the State 
at a high figure for big cities, and at a low figure 
for rural villages. Any number of intermediate 
grades can be added, as seems best in the cir- 
cumstances. If the price fixed be high enough, 
the number of applicants will be small, and thus 
the number of licences will be automatically 

The licensees will be necessarily rich, and 
therefore, on the average, respectable from 
the point of view of public order. They will 
take every care not to forfeit by misconduct 
the privilege for which they have paid so dearly, 
and for the exploitation of which they have 
invested much fixed capital. 

From the point of view of police supervision, 
for the preservation of good order, strict obedi- 


ence to law, ease in collection of revenue, 
abolition of insanitary premises and disreput- 
able low public-houses, no better scheme could 
be devised, except, indeed, municipalisation. 

The Americans have long ago discovered that 
High Licence has, at any rate, financial advan- 
tages, and the practice seems to be well-nigh 
universal. New York State realised £2,329,791 
from licences in 1899 for a population of some 
sevenmillions(7,268,894 in 1900), which compares 
with £1,755,675, the revenue n^om licences for 
the forty-one million inhabitants of the United 
Kingdom in 1 90 1-2. Boston in 1 900-1 obtwned 
$1,459,236 (say £300,000) for its licences, of 
which one fourth was paid to the State. 
Chicago in 1899 received £625,480, and Phila- 
delphia in 1896 collected nearly two million 
dollars (say £400,000), about one-fifth for 
the State. But it must be remembered that 
the United States duty on spirits is only 55. 6d. 
per gallon (50 per cent, alcohol) against lis. 
charged by our Excise.* 

Our Excise licence fees are from £6 to a 
maximum of £60 for the full licence, £3 10^. 
for beer-retailers' licences, and various sums 
down to 5^. for permission to sell " table beer " 
oflF. The American rates are, of course, infinitely 
various : 81000 ^£200) is the figure in Penn- 
sylvania, Massacnusetts, and elsewhere. New 
York City has a maximum of $1200 ; and the 

* R. and S. '* Public Control/* p. 62. 


same figure is charged in Mississippi, while in 
Louisiana as much as $1500 is demanded. 

(2) Sale of licences at auction secures to the 
State a larger share of the value of the licence 
than the nxed fee system: But it leaves in 
greater degree to chance the selection of the 
ucensee. The successful bidder could not, in 
practice^ be refused his licence, unless definite 
charges could be made against him, although he 
might not be the man wno would otherwise be 
selected. The most reckless bidder is not 
always the best man for a position of responsi- 
bility. Licences can be sold by auction in 
Norway and Sweden, but, in practice, the 
great majority of them go to the Samlags and 

(3) A licence rental is recommended by the 
Minority Report of the Royal Commission, in 
the first instance for the purpose of raising a 
fimd for compensating licence-holders deprived 
of their licences in order to reduce the number 
to a statutory maximum, and after seven years 
as an Imperial tax. But the minority Commis- 
sioners say (in the clumsy language which thej 
often adopt) that they "womd not carry this 
[scheme] as far as it is carried in some of the 
United States of America." What is their reason 
for this singular tenderness for private ownerehip 
in the monopoly profits which elsewhere they 
condemn aa inequitable, the Report does not 

A more drastic proposal has been suggested 


by the Fabian Society, which could be easily 
adapted to our present rating system. If the 
value of any premises unlicensed be estimated 
at £100 a year, and the same premises \¥hen 
licensed are assessed at £250 a year, it is clear 
that the licence is worth £150 a year, K the 
Local Authority were empowered to rate this 
on the ordinary basis, five-sixths of the assessed 
value and claim 20^. in the £ on £125 as a 
licence-rate, the margin left to the licence-holder 
would be as large a gifb from the State as he 
ought to expect. Theoretically, the State should 
take the wnole of the special value conferred 
by its licence. In practice, it could take at 
most a large proportion. 


High Licence adequately fulfils all the objects 
of the Licensing Law, and one of the conditions 
we have named as necessary qualifications of a 
good law, namely, that of securing to the State 
the whole, or at any rate the greater part, of 
the monopoly value of licences. It could also 
coexist with a popularly elected licensing autho- 
rity, though it would not give that authority 
all the control over the conduct of the business 
which we desire. 

But it would not encourage moderation in 
any positive manner beyond the letter of the 
law, and, indeed, the payment of a high fee 
would force the publican to special efforts in 


pushing sales for the purpose of recoupmg his 
outlay. We fear, moreover, that it would not 
be acquiesced in venr readUy by a substantial 
minority of the people. 

It is obvious that High Licence might well 
become a part of our revenue system, in addi- 
tion to any other reform, since it is not in the 
least inconsistent with Municipal Management 
or Local Veto. The revenue thus raised 
would probably go to the Imperial Exchequer, 
and would be available for old-age pensions 
and the other social reforms which are ad- 
mittedly urgent and only await the discovery of 
permanent sources of national income sufficient 
to meet their cost. 

Were High Licence a plank in any recognised 
political platform, we should regard it with 
considerable respect. Its adoption would im- 
prove our licensing system out of all recognition. 
As a step towards our ideal we should accord it 
a hearty welcome. But it is at present outside 
practical politics. No doubt a strong body of 
temperance reformers has adopted the Peel 
Report with its licence rental as an immediate 
program. But the political parties appear 
to pay but little attention to their desires. 
Conservatives can hardly be expected to show 
enthusiasm over a plan so objectionable to 
the licensed victuallers, and the Liberal leaders 
seem to be frightened of the whole subject. 
Mr. Herbert Samuel, M.P., for instance, in 
his recent volume, " Liberalism, its Principles 



and PropoBals," * g^tly poms cold water 
on Local Veto; indicates a preference for 
*« mere redaction in numbers of Ucences/' which 
Mr. Gladstone considered, as a r^nedj, " little 
better than an impostore'* ; says no word about 
Licence Bental or any form of High Licence ; 
and, in a note, remarkis that he has *^ no space '* 
(in his 387 pages) '* to examine " the churns of 
municipalisation. From his dose connection 
with its central organisation, this studied 
n^lect of any plan ft>r increasing the public 
share in the profits of the liquor trade may be 
taken to represent the present policy of the 
Liberal party. 

The poUtical prospects of High Licence are 
therefore unpromising. Since, however, there 
is a more excellent way of reform, which has 
received the approval of the mififhtiest statesman 
of the day, wffch has made prfgress in isolated 
experiments, and has captured the intellectual 
acceptance of a large section of the people, it 
would be unwise to lay special stress on a 
method of reform based on a womout political 
philosophy, which, at best, could achieve far 
less of what we want than its alternative. 

♦With a preface by the Rt Hon. H. H. Asquith, 
K.C., M.P. Grant Richards, 1902. 



The case for Local Veto— Local Veto and 
Prohibition — ^The arguments for Local Option — 
The Right of Control — How Veto would work : 
In East-End Wards; in Artisan Suburbs; in 
West-End Wards; in Rural Districts — Veto in 
Towns — Local Option for Rural Districts — The 
rights of a Majority — The Law which failed — 
Prohibition — Fidlure of Local Veto — British Law- 
Breakers — Our Rulers object — American and 
Colonial Rulers — Teetotalers in Politics — An anti- 
quated Philosophy — Summing up against Veto 


There are many reasons why this method of 
reforming the licensing system should have 
attracted wide-spread support in England, and 
should still be a part of the officisd pro^m 
not only of the chief temperance organisations, 
but also of one section of the Liberal party, and 
even of such scientific experts as Bowntree and 

Its claims are based on the simplicity of its 
machineiy ; on its wide adoption in most English- 


speaking countries ; on' its apparent embodiment 
of the principle of local control of a local con- 
cern ; and, above all, on its meeting exactly the 
wishes of that earnest section of the community 
which regards the use of intoxicants as a sin, 
and works for total abstinence with religious 

With such advantages on its side, it is not a 
matter for wonder that Local Veto so nearly 
achieved political success in England. And yet 
even a superficial consideration of its program, 
and a brief examination of its working in other 
lands, are enough to convince any unprejudiced 
person that it would be both impracticable and 
useless in England, and that its results would 
probably be dSsastrous to the well-being of our 


The distinction between Local Option and 
Prohibition is chiefly one of area and of degree. 
Local Option permits a locaUty to reduce the 
number of its licences or to veto them altogether. 
Prohibition is veto for a wider area, in America 
for the State instead of the county or township 
or city. And of course Prohibition may be, and 
sometimes is, extended to cover the manufacture 
of and the wholesale as well as the retail trade 
in intoxicants, and, unUke Local Veto, it is 
not subject to periodic revision by ^ simple 


National Prohibition is avowedly the ideal of 
the militant teetotal party. They desire to 
stamp out alcohol as Mr. Long stamped out 
rabies. They regard all driuking of intoxicants 
as an evil in itself, as a sin, or a crime, or a 
disease ; they consider alcohol a poison, which, 
unlike other poisons, is never beneficial even as 
a medicine. Thejr would, therefore, prohibit its 
manufacture and its import. If their premises 
be granted, the conclusion. Prohibition, is logical 
enough, though logic is nowadays discredited 
as a guide in the maze of actual politics, because 
it so often leads its followers astray. 

National Prohibition is not, however, within 
the range of practical politics in England. The 
scheme actually brought before Parliament by 
Sir William Harcourt in 1895 went, indeed, to 
the opposite extreme. It selected for voting 
purposes the smallest governmental area known 
to lawyers, and known practically to no one 
else, except the little groups of eager politicians 
who work the actual machinery of local elections. 
It permitted any ward to take a referendum 
vote of the parochial electors on two questions, 
veto of licences or reduction of their number 
by one fourth : the latter decision was to be 
operative by a bare majority ; the former by 
one of not less than two-thirds. This scheme 
still pretends to a place in the program of that 
portion of the Liberal party which has not yet 
accepted the Clean Slate, and therefore it 
merits our careful consideration. 



Let us take the arguments used by its advo- 
cates and see how they work out. 

Mr. T. P. Whittaker, M.P., perhaps the ablest 
writer in the Teetotal party, gives three reasons 
for advocating Local Veto in his memorandum 
appended to the Boyal Commission Report. 
They are as follows : 

That the present system of licensing has 
proved a failure. This may be admitted, but it 
does not necessarily lead to Local Veto. 

That " the liquor trade being admittedly one 
that is dangerous to the public well-being, and 
no means of so regulating and restricting it as 
to prevent serious inconvenience, loss and injury 
resulting from it having been discovered, it ought 
not to be thrust upon a community against their 

The flaw in this argument lies in the assump- 
tion that the injury referred to is caused by the 
trade in liquor, whereas in fact it is caused by 
the drinking of liquor, and there is much evidence 
. to show that suppression of the legal trade may 
actually increase the amount of drinking. 

The third argument, quoted from Joseph 
Cowen, is to the effect that the ratepayers wno 
have to pay for the crime, pauperism, and in- 
^ sanity caused by drunkenness, have a right to 
control the licensing of public-houses, as payers 
of rates for municipal purposes control the 


municipality. This again may be admitted, 
but it points directly to municipalisation. 

The Minority Report itself gives no less than 
thirteen arguments in favour of Local Veto, but 
they contain only two additional points of im- 
portance, namely, that if the Local Veto Bill 
were passed it *^ would exercise a sobering and 
salutory effect upon the licence-holders " where 
veto was not adopted ; and secondly, that since 
landowners can and do exercise a right of veto 
on their property, and find the practice a success, 
the inhabitants should have similar rights. This 
is not the place to examine the revolutionary 
implications of the latter of these arguments 
and the former is not important. 


The substantial case for Local Veto is the 
claim that the people have a right to control the 
public sale of mtoxicants because of the social 
evils to which it gives rise. 

Pauperism, insanity, disease, and crime are 
all traceable to excess in drink, and in all these 
the ratepayer is directly concerned because he is 
compelled to pay for their alleviation and pre- 
vention. With this argument we do not quarrel. 
Its validity has been recognised since the days 
of Archbishop Dunstan, the first English tem- 
perance legislator; but it^is an argument for 
public control and not necessarily or exclusively 


for Local Veto. Reduction or veto of licences is 
only one form of control. 

What the community has an obvious right 
to stop, so far as it can, is such excess in drink- 
ing as leads to the social evils already indicated. 
The question then is this : Is Local Option the 
best method of reducing or preventing excessive 
drinking ? The answer is that reduction of 
licences does little to reduce drinking ; that veto 
in populous places probably increases drunken- 
ness ; and Local Option is a piece of machinery 
which in most places would not operate at all. 
The premises are sound enough ; the conclusion 
so frequently deduced from them is entirely 

If the people are entitled to control the liquor 
traffic we should devise some plan which will 
give them that control in fact, and not merely 
in name ; a plan which will not be a mere paper 
right, incapable, by its form, of wide application ; 
a plan which is likely to be adopted in every 
town and district and hamlet, and which will take 
effect in the drunken slums as well as in the 
sober suburbs. 


Let us consider for a moment how Local 
Option would actually work. For this purpose 
we may divide localities into four classes : 

(1) The "east ends" of the larger towns where 


the slums are and the poorest and rougehst of 
the people live. 

(2) The artisan suburbs, including industrial 
villages and most Urban Districts. 

(3) The west ends of big towns, the rich 
suburbs, and the pleasure towns of the southern 

(4) Eural Districts. 


In places of our first class public-houses are 
to be found at every corner, and beerhouses 
are thickly scattered in between. Here the 
evils of drunkenness and disorder are rampant; 
here licences, as a rule, might be reduced by one 
quarter for three or four years in succession 
with obvious benefit to the inhabitants. These 
are the districts where the poor spend far too 
large a share of their scanty earnings on drink, 
and far too little on proper food and decent 
housing and clothing. Here, if anywhere, the 
drink fiend should be most fiercely attacked. 

How then would Local Option aflfect such 
districts ? Every one knows that it would have 
no beneficial eflfect at all. No vote for reduction 
or veto would come within measurable distance 
of success. Where the publicans are strongest 
and the people most devoted to drinking, there 
the chance of a majority for temperance would 
be so infinitesimal that licence-holders would 
not even be " sobered " by the fear of it 1 


Experience abroad bears out this forecast. 
Local Option by wards is not usual in America,* 
so there is no exact parallel to be found in that 
country, but since large American towns never 
adopt Local Veto as a whole it may be inferred 
with some confidence that the temperance 
minority is not massed in their most Sunken 

All that Sir William Harcourt's Bill could 
have done for Stepney and Whitechapel, Bethnal 
Green and Soho, and their equivalents in Man- 
chester, Newcastle, and Cardiff, would have been 
to shut up public-houses in the surrounding dis- 
tricts, and thus to drive that section of the 
inhabitants which desires facilities for drinking 
to concentrate where drink could be most easily 
obtained. Local Option would make our slums 
f still slummier ; woiild drive the criminal classes 
\ into the already crowded courts and lanes of the 
( licensing areas. It would operate, if at all, in the 
/ direction of concentrating what all social experts 
' desire to scatter. It would render specially 
attractive to the submerged tenth those very 
districts which every municipal Health and 
Housing Committee desires to depopulate and 
to destroy. Local Veto, instead of remedying, 
would intensify the evils of drink where those 
evils are most acute, and their social effects most 

* But the vote is taken by wards, and an examination of 
the results in Boston and Cambridge, for example, con- 
firms the above inference. 



In the artisan suburbs the results of Local 
Option votes are more doubtful. Its advocates 
no doubt believe that many such districts would 
favour reduction or even veto of licences. The 
estimate of the average expenditure of working- 
class families on drink made by Bowntree and 
Sherwell does not, however, support this hope. 
If the average working-class household spends 
68. a week on intoxicants, it is scarcely likely 
that any large section of it will show a majority 
for diminishing the facilities of supply of a 
commodity so inconvenient to transport and to 
stock as is beer. Local Option, might, however, 
occasionally succeed in banishing licences from 
parts of such districts ."^ 


In wards of such districts as Kensington and 
Wimbledon, Haslemere, Weybridge, and Chel- 
tenham, where rich householders reign supreme. 
Local Veto would flourish abundantly. The 
stockbroker and solicitor, the retired officer and 
the rich widow, who dwell in such places do not 

* In a ballot taken recently at Port Sunlight, Cheshire, 
the model village built by the proprietors of Sunlight 
Soap, 472 householders voted for a licence, 120 against, 
and 28 abstained. ** National Temperance League 
Almanack, 1903;' p. 83. 


require public-houses. What intoxicants they 

r want they obtain in bulk, or consume at their 

= clubs and at city restaurants. As owners and 

' occupiers they object to public-houses, which 

attract the rowdy elements and lower the value 

of adjacent property. They are quite willing 

to inflict compulsory abstinence on the minority 

of cabmen and gardeners, tradesmen, street 

cleaners, and the like, who occupy by-streets 

or come in from surrounding districts to serve 

the wants of the aristocrats. 

This is no mere conjecture. It is what has 
happened in Massachusetts. The residential 
districts round Boston have vetoed licences ; 
the increase of population under no-licence 
between 1881 and 1894 "is solely attributable 
to the action of cities and towns within a radius 
of twelve miles or less of Boston ; in other words, 
of places where a no-licence vote removes the 
drinker a short but not seriously inconvenient 
distance from the base of supplies."* 

In such places Local Option is a class measure. 
It enables the rich to impose restrictions on the 
poor in a matter which directly concerns the 

Soor alone. It permits those who buy their 
rink from the wine-merchant to compel to 
; abstinence those who would like to buy at the 
' public-house. In form it may be democracy ; 
in fact it is a tyranny. 

*''The Liquor Problem in its Legislative Aspects," 
p. 227. 



In rural districts the landowners are supreme, 
and their will is law. Wherever they put on 
pressure enough they could secure a temperance 
vote, and no doubt in a few places village public- - 
houses would be closed. Veto prevails under ^ 
option and other laws over wide areas in the 
United States and Canada, and in New Zealand, 
where women now vote, the vetoed area is in- 
creasing. But the freehold farmers and small 
traders of these regions are totally diflferent 
from the labourers, tenant-farmers, and gentry 
of England. Occupation in agriculture is the 
only feature common to both groups. 

The country inn and the vDlage public-house 
no doubt harbour a few drimkards, and occasion 
waste of wages badly needed for other purposes. 
But no one would contend that the closmg of 
even a considerable number of these places would 
materially aflfect the condition of the British 
nation. It would tend, where adopted, to render 
country life less attractive to some people, and 
so might increase the already serious evil of 
rural depopulation. But there is no reason to 
suppose that any large proportion of the rural 
districts would veto licences. The active tem- 
perance party quite properly devotes its chief 
energies to the towns. Few squires, fewer 
farmers, and scarcely any agricultural labourers 
are teetotalers. Local Option polls would some- 


times stir the placid surface of village politics, 
and that would be about all the good or the 
harm they would accomplish. 


The conclusive argument against Local Veto is 
that it is useless, and worse than useless, for 
towns and crowded districts. For the proof of 
this statement we must refer the reader to the 
works of Rowntree'and Sherwell, or to any other 
detailed account of its operation, such as Mr. 
E. L. Fanshawe's "Liquor Legislation," and 
" The Liquor Problem in its Legislative Aspect," 
issued by the " Committee of Fifty."* Rowntree 
and Sherwell demonstrate with a wealth of facts 
and figures which defy contradiction :- 

That in the very wide areas where Local 
Option prevails veto is confined to rural dis- 
tricts and a few small towns, the only exceptions 
being suburbs such as Cambridge, Mass., which 
bears much the same relation to Boston as 
Gateshead to Newcastle, except that it is mainly 
a residential and relatively wealthy place. In 
many American counties, which are without 
licence, it appears doubtfiil whether the cause 
is the wish of the inhabitants for veto, or the 
want of sufficient inhabitants to support a 
public house. The same rule holds good for 
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 

* The argument is set out briefly in Fabian Traet 86. 
*' Municipal Drink Traffic." 


Secondly, that where the scattered farmers \ 
in their teetotal fervour vote State Prohibition 
and force Veto on the towns, the result is illegal 
selling openly connived at by the authorities. 
Portland, Maine, a place of some 50,000 inhabi- 
tants, after forty-five years of continuous pro- 
hibition, has one notorious drinkshop to every 
240 inhabitants, whilst London has one to every 
446. In 1898 Portland had 42 arrests for 
drunkenness per 1000 inhabitants against 
13 in New York, 23 in Chicago, and 7*9 (for 
1897-1901) in London. Portland drank at 
least 18 '6 gallons of beer per inhabitant in 
1899, which is 3 '3 gallons more than the aver- 
age of the United States. In the same year 
the Federal Government issued licences to 1339 
illegal liquor dealers (including 45 to brewers 
and wholesale dealers) in the State of Maine 
alone. It is one of the oddities of the American ^ 
State system that the Federal Government 
habitually issues licences to liquor retailers, 
who, by the laws of their States, are contra- 
band. The Federal oflficers, who strictly enforce 
Federal law, take no notice of State law. 

Such then is the result of attempted Prohibi- 
tion in the small towns of a State with a popu- 
lation, of 20* to the square mile, which is just 
one quarter of the density of the population in 
Westmorland, the least populous county in 

♦Density in 1900, 23-2, an increase; Westmorland in 
1901^ SU, a decrease. 


When their election pledges, or their con- 
sciences, or their wives compel American legis- 
lators to vote Prohibition they are sometimes 
reduced by the absurdity of the results to 
remedies even more absurd. Such is the Mulct 
Law of Iowa, passed in 1894 and apparently 
still in force. In the sixteenth section the Act 
states : " Nothing in this Act contained shall 
be in any way construed to mean that the 
business of the sale of intoxicating liquors is 
in any way legalised, nor is the same to be con- 
strued in any manner and form as a licence, nor 
shall the assessment or payment of any tax for 
the sale of liquors as aforesaid protect the wrong- 
deer from any penalty now provided by the law, 
except that on conditions hereinafter provided 
certain penalties may be suspended.'* And the 
conditions provided are that on payment of 
£120 a year, and complying with certain other 
somewhat stringent regulations, persons can 
open saloons and sell freely as much as they 
please. And Iowa, in 1890, had but thirty-four 
persons to the square mile. 

f Indeed, it would seem that Prohibition 
often increases drunkenness and crime where 
it has been tried in the American States, pro- 
bably because smuggled whiskey is the worst 
sort of drink, and, on the principle that stolen 

^ apples are sw:eet, it is specially prized. Any- 
way, arrests for drunkenness averaged for five 
years in nine towns in Prohibition States 20*94 
per 1000 against 13 '09 for seven larger licence 


towns in similar States, and general crime was 
51-31 against 37-07 per 1000.* 


For populous centres Local Veto has been 
non-suited ; its advocates no longer claim that 
they have a strong case ; but thej still put it 
forward as desirable for rural districts. 

Mr. Arthur Sherwell, in his " Drink Peril in 
Scotland," instances Sutherlandshire as one of 
the few coimties suitable for Local Option, be- 
cause it possesses but eleven persons to the 
square mile. We have every regard for the 
scattered inhabitants of those barren northern 
moors, condemned to an execrable climate, 
remote from civilisation, and only sustained in 
their adversity by that intense local patriotism 
which is the birthright of all dwellers in the 
desolate parts of the earth. But it is not prac- 
tical politics to attempt the enactment of a 
bitterly opposed law, involving considerable 
social reconstruction, and introducing an almost 
novel principle to oqr statute-book, on the off 
chance that the inhabitants of Sutherlandshire 
may avail themselves 6f it for closing a few of 
the wayside inns which at present offer rest and 
shelter to the crofter returning from the market 
or the southron fisherman wandering in pursuit 
of sport. The end does not justify the means. 
It is erecting a steam-hammer for cracking nuts. 

♦ R. and S. '' Temperance Problem/' 5th Edition, p. 131. 


^ Unless Local Option will benefit the mass of 
the people ; unless it will affect reform where 
reform is most needed ; unless it can be shown 
: that benefit will accrue firom it to the average 
<5ity and town and urban district, it is not 
worth the bitter years of political strife, the 
waste of national time and thought, and the 
expenditure of reforming energy, which such a 
measure must entail. 

Mr. Arthur Sherwell probably knows more 
about the drink problem than any man in 
England. He is now reduced to advocating 
Local Option for the benefit of Sutherlandshire. 
It is the last ditch. Surely he must soon 
acknowledge that even for Scotland Local 
Option is a lost cause, and that to himself more 
than to any other man in England is due its 
downfaU. Its poKtical prospects were blighted 
by the General Election <rf 1 895 . Its intellectual 
foundation was destroyed by the publication of 
" The Temperance Problem and Social Reform." 
No one can read that volume, unless he be a 
teetotal fanatic or a party politician, without 
acceding to the authors' contention that Local 
Option IS utterly inadequate as a remedy for the 
evils of alcoholism. And no one who under- 
stands the merest elements of politics would 
advocate an inadequate remedy, which provokes 
the " maximum of opposition," * which already 
has caused or, at any rate^ contributed to one 

* T. P. WhitUker, '' Some Frank and Friendly Words/' 
p. 6. 


political disaster, and which is almost certain to 
lead to another for any party which is foolish 
enough to fight an election on it. 


The most plausible rejoinder to a part of the 
case against Local Option is to this effect : A 
law, it is said, is not necessarily bad because it 
is often disregarded ; laws are made for law- 
breakers ; if there were no offenders there 
would be no need for laws. 

This argument is to a certain point valid. 
The question is one of degree. Theoretically 
there are no limits to the " right '* of a majority 
to coerce the minority by legal enactment. 
Practically there are very aefinite limits to the 
** right," fiuthough those lunits alter fix)m decade 
to decade and from century to century. The 
variations are in both dkections. A few cen- 
turies ago religion was held by all but an utterly 
insigo^oantXority of idealito to be anobvioi 
matter for compulsory law, and the legal coercion 
of dissenting minorities was carried on success- 
fully for a thousand years . Catholics persistently 
burnt Protestants, and when at length the tables 
were turned, Protestants hanged Catholics with 
scarcely less enthusiasm. Nowadays, outside 
Bussia, it is universally recognised that legal 
compulsion in religion is a mistaken policy. 

On the other hand, the innumerable sanitary 
regulations, which we enforce with stringent 


Senalties, would have been deemed in earlier 
ays an intolerable interference with the rights 
of the citizen to dispose of his refuse and to 
distribute his sewerage in whatever way seemed 
to him best. Or, to take another example, the 
elaborate factory code which orders bvery miU 
to open and close at no other than the appointed 
hour was regarded, less than a generation ago, 
by enlightened people like John Bright and 
Professor Fawcett as an illegitimate interference 
with the right of the manufacturer and the 
workwoman to buy and sell labour in a free 

The questions to be discussed in deciding 
upon any new restriction of individual liberty 
are purely practical. Does the majority con- 
sider it expedient to compel the minority, and 
can they effectively do so ? For if they try 
and, on the average, fail more harm than good 


Here is a statement of the results of the 
attempt at Prohibition in Maine, issued by 
the Committee of Fifty, a body of American 
economists and social savants associated for 
the study of the Liquor Problem, who appointed 
Messrs. Charles W. Elliot, Seth Low, and 
James C. Carter as a sub-committee on its 
legislative aspects. In the introductory chapter 
of their Report * they write : 

* Liquor Problem^ p. 4. 



"Prohibitory legislation has succeeded in 
abolishing and preventing the manufacture on 
a large scale of distilled and malt liquors within 
the areas covered by it. In districts where 
public sentiment has been strongly in its favour 
it has made it hard to obtain intoxicants, thereby 
removing temptation from the young and from 
persons disposed to alcoholic excesses. In pur- 
suing its main object — ^which is to make the 
manufacture and sale of intoxicants first im- 
possible, or, secondly, disreputable if possible, 
it has incidentally promoted the invention and 
adoption of many useful restrictions on the 
liquor traflfic. 

"But prohibitory legislation has failed to 
exclude intoxicants completely even from dis- 
tricts where public sentiment has been favour- 
able. In districts where public sentiment has 
been adverse or strongly divided, the traffic in 
alcoholic beverages has been sometimes repressed 
or harassed, but never exterminated or rendered 
unprofitable. In Maine and Iowa there have 
always been coimties and municipalities in 
complete and successful rebellion against the 
law. The incidental difficulties created by the 
United States revenue laws, the industrial and 
medicinal demand for alcohol, and the freedom 
of inter- State commerce, have never been over- 
come. Prohibition has, of course, failed to 


subdue the drinking passion which will for ever 
prompt resistance to all restrictive legislation. 

" There have been concomitant evils of pro- 
hibitory legislation. The efforts to enforce it 
during forty years past have had some unlooked- 
for effects on public respect for courts, judicial 
procedure. oatL, and law in general, and for 
oflScers of the law, legislators, and public 
servants. The public have seen law dened, a 
whole generation of habitual law-breakers 
schooled in evasion and shamelessness, courts 
ineffective through fluctuations of policy, delays, 
perjuries, negligences, and other miscarriages of 
justice; oflficers of the law double-faced and 
mercenary, legislators timid and insincere, candi- 
dates for office hypocritical and truckling, and 
office-holders unfaithful to pledges and to reason- 
able public expectation. Through an agitation 
which has always had a moral end, these 
immoralities have been developed and made 
conspicuous. The liquor traffic, being very 
profitable, has been able, when attacked by 
prohibitory legislation, to pay fines, bribes, 
nush-money, and assessments for political pur- 
poses to large amounta This money has tended 
to corrupt the lower courts, the police adminis- 
tration, political organisations, and even the^ 
electorate itself Wherever the voting force of 
the liauor traffic and its allies is considerable, 
candidates for office and office-holders are 
tempted to serve a dangerous trade interest, 
which is often in antagonism to the public 


interest. Frequent yielding to this temptation 
causes general degeneration in public life, breeds 
contempt for the public service, and of course 
makes the service less desirable for upright men. 
Again, the sight of justices, constables, and in- 
formers enforcing a prohibitory law far enough 
to get from it tne fines and fees which profit 
them, but not far enough to extinguish the 
traffic and so cut ofi* the source of their profits, 
is demomlising to society at large. All legis- 
lation intended to put restrictions on the liquor 
traffic, except, perhaps, the simple tax, is more 
or less liable to these objections ; but the prohibi- 
toiy legislation is the worst of all in these respects, 
because it stimulates to the utmost the resistance 
of the liquor-dealer and their supporters. 

" Of course there are disputed eflfects of efforts 
at prohibition. Whether it has or has not 
reduced the consumption of intoxicants and 
diminished drunkenness is a matter of opinion, 
and opinions differ widelv. No demonstration 
on either of these points has been reached, or is 
now attainable, after more than forty years of 
observation and experience." 

This is obviously ^ a case of an attempt at 
compulsion, which has failed, and its failure has 
brought disastrous consequences in its train. 


It is claimed that Local Veto does not give 
rise to such serious breaches of th^ law, because 


it is inoperative unless it is desired by a sub- 
stantial majority in the locality. But even 
under this form of veto much the same law- 
breaking has prevailed. Mr. E. L. Fanshawe, 
in his " Liquor Legislation in the United States 
and Canada," tells us that in the State of 
Michigan in 1893 seven counties only out of 
eighty-five had adopted veto, and in only two of 
these had it been enforced. In Georgia, also 
under Local Option, Fulton County, which 
contains Atalanta, a city which had 37,409 
inhabitants in 1880, voted for veto from 1885 
to 1887. In the latter year under veto fifty- 
seven persons took out Federal licences for the 
purpose of selling in violation of State law. In 
Independence, Missouri, in 1888 liquor clubs 
were tolerated in contravention of the law on 
payment of a monthly fine, and the only result 
was that Sunday selling was introducea where 
Sunday closing had prevailed. These, perhaps, 
seem to be trifling cases. The explanation' is 
that Local Veto only operates in rural districts, 
where violations of it, if they occur, are not 


It may be said, the examples of law-breaking 
are drawn from America, where lynching is a 
common practice, corruption reigns supreme in 
municipal government, and the law is regarded 
with far less reverence than in England. 

We admit at once that the argument must 


not be pressed too far. We have already con- 
tended that what happens in Portland, Maine, 
will not of necessity also happen in Leeds and 

But on the other hand it must be recollected 
that reverence for law is only skin deep even 
here. As soon as any party is persuaded that a 
law is imjust, that it offends their religious or 
moral or intellectual scruples, they defy it and 
break it with the utmost readiness. 

The most respectable of citizens marry their 
deceased wives' sisters. Anti-vaccinationists 
have erected a medical theorem into a religion, 
and by persistent defiance of the law have 
succeeded in obtaining legal recognition for their 

And in these later days the most moral, law- 
abiding:, and peaceful members of the community 
have £ no Inconsiderable numbei-s persuaded 
themselves that it is their duty to engage in 
** Passive Resistance " to the requirements of 
the Education Act of 1902. 

With these examples of incipient anarchism 
in their memories, with the success of the anti- 
vaccinators to encourage them, does any one 
believe that a local law (for the veto law in its 
operation would be local) would be respected by 
tne somewhat lawless class which is keenly 
desirous of obtaining liquor, and by the alto- 
gether lawless class which will take any risks 
for the sake of a good profit ? 



From a political stand-point Local Veto is a 
bad business. The leaders of the Licensed Vic- 
tuallers and the Brewers in Parliament have not 
sujfficient astuteness to abstain from opposition 
to a proposal which would probably promote 
their trade interests and at the same time satisfy 
their most determined opponents. 

If they knew their business, and could control 
their supporters, they would either oflfer a show 
of resistance just sufficient to give their enemies 
the confident joy of victory, or else they would 
affect the virtue of preferring the good of their 
country to the interests of their trade and would 
support the demands of the Teetotal party. 

Such political finesse is happily beyond the 
scope of the brewing inteUect, ^d, indeed, it is 
doubtful if the leaders could persuade their 
followers to adopt so subtle a policv. "The 
Trade," of course, opposes Local V eto because it 
supposes that licences would be cancelled, sales 
of liquor would fall off, and the whole business 
would suffer a serious injury. The direct political 
power of the Licensed Victuallers, used in 
accordance with this view, is no doubt consider- 
able, but it does not account for the greater 
part of the opposition which Local Veto calls 
forth. Its opponents are the ordinary citizen, 
the workman, the man in the street, the voter 
who does not read political speeches. This man is 


our ruler. He drinks beer, always ; he generally 
goes to a public-house when he is thirsty. He 
objects to people with ideas of any sort, because 
he has none hunself, and does not see the good 
of them. Especially he dislikes teetotal fanatics, 
and all their ways and works. He takes the 
obvious view that he doesn't see why people 
who don't want to drink beer should interfere 
with those that do. 

This sort of man is the average man in all 
classes of society. It is this man who deter- 
mines the fate of parties at general elections, 
and by whose will or absence thereof our country 
at these periods is really ruled. 

And in passing we may remark that herein 
lies the secSrity o^our empire and the certainty 
of its safe progress. If our destinies were 
actually controlled by brilliant politicians, by 
ardent reformers, by young men that see visions 
and old men that drean^ dreams, our fate would 
be extremely doubtful. The commonplace, or 
perhaps we should say common-sense, intellects 
of average members of Parliament, selected and 
elected as they are by an electorate even more 
commonplace, preserve our country from the 
projects of every sort and kind of faddist. When 
the electors areasked to decide on a policy, only 
that which is obviously desirable to the ordinary 
intellect has a chance of ultimate success. 

Thus we move forward, very slowly but very 
surely, and there is no reaction. 

Local Veto is bad politics, because the average 


man in England is always against it. He did 
not realise in 1892 that the Liberal party meant 
this business. He voted Liberal because Glad- 
stone was a Grand Old Man, and he thought 
Home Rule would put a stop to the endless 
worries about Ireland. 

But in 1895, when Gladstone was gone, when 
Home Rule was discredited, and Local Veto a 
live issue, the man in the street demonstrated 
very clearly that he preferred a change of 
Ministry ; and from that date onward Liberalism 
made no headway until Lord Rosebery cleaned 
the Slate. That has made a difference. No one 
believes that Lord Rosebery, when his party 
returns to power, will revert to Local Option ; 
he is far too shrewd a politician — once bit, twice 
shy. Mr. John Morley may urge Liberals to 
" stick to the creed of their party," but the man 
in the street takes no count of him. The 
cleaning of Local Veto off the slate has had 
more to do with Liberal victories at certain by- 
elections than the opponents of the Education 
Act chose to think. 


But it may be asked, how it is, if this view 
be correct, that Local Veto is the law in so many 
of our Colonies and in the majority of American 
States? Does not the man in the street rule 
also in these democratic lands? The answer 
is " No ; it is the man with the fai*m." The 


rulers of American States * and British Colonies 
are not workmen, nor any dwellers in towns and 
cities, but landowning farmers. Does anybody 
suppose that the City of New York has Sunday 
closmg because its people will it? It is the 
farmers of New York State who elect the 
Republican majority in the State Assembly 
at Albany that force Sunday closing on Demo- 
cratic New York City.t What is true m the 
Empire State is true throughout America and 
our Colonies. The freehold farmer is the con- 
trolling force in politics. He lives, as a rule, 
far away from public-houses ; he does not want 
them for himself, and perhaps objects to them 
for the occasional handjhe Lpio^ Hie wife. 
at any rate, is keen on Local Veto, because she 
does not use the public-house, and so he votes 
for veto, and, in New Zealand, she does so 

Norway and Sweden are in the same case. 
Scattered land-owning farmers are the largest, 
and by far the strongest, element in the popu- 

* In 1900 39'6 per cent, of occupied males in the 
United States were agriculturalists. In 1880 the per- 
centage was 48-3. The number of male " farmers, planters^ 
and overseers " in 19OO was 5,367,169, nearly all presumably 

t The people of New York are now endeavouring to 
obtain power to decide the question themselves by Local 



The electoral force of the Teetotal party is 
sure to be exaggerated.* Politicians seem to 
be constitutionaHy incapable of realising or 
recollecting that the people who pass resolu- 
tions at private meetings and ask questions 
at public ones, who write to the newspapers 
and frequent the Lobby, and exercise all the 
other arts of political persuasion, generally 
control a mere sprinkling of voters at the poll. 
We speak from an extensive and intimate 
acquaintance with such forms of agitation. It 
is a fair game ; those who play it are often the 
best and most devoted of citizens; but they 
must not be taken too seriously. At the elec- 
tion of 1885, when John Wiluams stood as a 
Socialist for Hampstead, it was reported that 
the Duke of Argyie, then Lord Lome, had said 
before the poll that he did not fear his Con- 
servative opponent, Sir Henry Holland, but 
he thought the Socialist would win. John 
Williams polled thirty-five votes, and Sir Henry 
Holland got in. Whether this tale be true or 
not is immaterial ; it accurately represents 
the effect which a few vigorous agitators can 
produce on the mind of the statesman. 

The teetotalers, to their honour, are tireless 
wirepullers ; they know all the tricks of the 
trade ; they have large crowds of non-electors 

See ShadwcU. "Drink/' p. 98. 


at their beck and call; but their value as a 
voting asset is not nearly so great as is commonly 
supposed. Moreover, the power of political 
group leaders to control their followers is 
generally very small. It is said that the Irish 
m England vote as they are bid ; the Licensed 
Victuallers may sometimes cast solid votes in 
accordance with their business interests ; closely 
concentrated trades, such as the miners, may at 
times resolve on and take collective political 
action; but other groups cannot be so con- 
trolled. The teetotal Liberal will not vote 
Tory at the order of any society ; in most cases 
he will not even abstain from voting. The 
bonds of party are mysteriously strong in the 
man who is interested in politics, and tern- 
perance reformers are nearly always ardent 

If the Liberal or Labour candidate (for the 
Labour men lack enlightenment on this matter 
as much as the Liberals) says "I must promise 
to vote for Local Veto or I shall lose the 
Temperance vote," we venture to assure him 
that he need not fear. Intellectual honesty 
often pays even in politics. If a candidate does 
not honestly believe in Local Veto, if he is 
convinced that there is a more exceUent way, 
let him say so boldly, and where he loses a few 
votes he will gain many more. 



The fact is, that Local Veto was devised in 

r the days when Individualism waa triumphant. 

j when the State was regarded as entirely a 

\ repressive force, and Radical thinkers aimed at 

^ confining its action to the negative work of 

prevention of ill-doing. ^ 

When reformers of this school perceived that 
/ the drink evil must be dealt with by the State, 
they could conceive of nothing else than nega- 
tive action ; they therefore proposed to invoke 
the machinery of government for diminishing or 
preventing what they regarded as an evil, the 
retail sale of liquor. 

But that poUtical philosophy and method is 
out of date. The community with its growing 
integration and differentiation, as the Spencer- 
ians say, has in these latter years attained to 
self-consciousness ; it has " found itself." Ex- 
perience has shown that the Municipality can 
serve the purposes of its constituents in both 
senses of that word, by supplying gas, water, 
electricity and trams, concerts, parks and bands, 
* milk for the babes, schools for the children, 
novels for the young folk, and newspapers for 
the old, houses for the living and crematoria for 
the dead, far better and more cheaply than 
private enterprise can. 

The thinkers have followed in the rear, as 
they always do, expounding the philosophy of 


accomplished facts, and enthusiastically applaud- 
ing what their predecessors unhesitatingly 
condemned. ^ 

Everybody nowadays (except, perhaps, Lord 
Avebury) realises that if any difficult or delicate 
work is to be done the community itself must 
take it in hand. 

This unquestionably is the spirit of the age. 
It may not be the final and eternal truth in 
social organisation. Our grandchildren may 
make some further discovery. But for this 
generation the collective organisation of in- 
dustry, of trade, of learning, of life, is the 
accepted method; this is the path which all 
progressive nations are treading, and the future 
IS clearly with those which follow it most 


Local Veto as a method of reforming the 
licensing system does not pass the tests we have 

It would not fulfil the objects of the law any 
better than the present system does. It would 
not prevent excessive consumption where excess 
chiefly prevails, and it would not facilitate 
police supervision and enforcement of the law 
where these are now most needed. It would 
not add to the revenue, and it would tend to 
encourage illicit sales and the adulteration which 
accompanies them. 


As for the requisites of a good law, it really 
has none of them. 

(1) The popular control it gives is of the 
I most superficial character, and in the greater 
/ part of the country would amount to a mere 

^ acquiescence in the present order of things. 

(2) Local Veto would do nothing positive to 
promote temperance. Its action would be purely 
negative. The profits of the trade would still 

^ be used for furthering its prosperity. In licensed 
areas the evils of the trX wJuld continue 

(3) The monopoly value of licences would 
remain in private hands. 

(4) The law would not be acquiesced in by 
• the minority. All experience shows that those 

who want drink insist on having it at all costs. 
Where they are scattered on remote farms in 
backwoods, or amongst the fiords and forests 
of Scandinavia, they cannot combine to defy 
the law, and they have to let it take its coursa 
But wherever Local Veto is attempted in towns, 
or even large villages, unless they are close to 
a licensed area, the law becomes a dead letter 
and illicit drink shops abound. 

Politically Local Veto is impracticable. Philo- 
sophically it is ill-founded. The time has surely 
come when politicians should explicitly and 
completely abandon it. 



Gravity and Beer — The Law of Beer-drinking — 
Beer-drinking likely to increase — Stationary 
Consumption of Spirits — Beer as a Temperance 
Beverage — Spirits^ Prohibition and Drunkenness. 


The law of gravity is universal in its application 
to physical phenomena in most of their aspects, 
and its relation through transport to the pro- 
duction and consumption of commodities is 
supposed to be obvious. But its particular 
application to the liquor problem has hitherto 
escaped adequate notice. 

Alcoholic liquor is nowadays manufactured 
wholesale and is carried to consumers from. a 
distance. Hence, it may be inferred that, other 
things being equal, a thinly populated country, 
where distances are great, will use less manu- 
factured drink than a thickly populated one, 
and of the alcoholic drink used a larger proper- 
tion will tend to be concentrated and a less 
proportion diluted. 


Beer contains from 4 to 5 per cent, of 
pure alcohol, and spirits as sold 40 to 50 per 
cent. The exact proportions do not matter for 
our present purpose, since it may be fairly said 
that the weight and bulk of beer is ten times 
that of spirits for an equivalent of alcohol. 

A scattered population of farmers is likely to 
consume scarcely any lemonade and but little 
beer ; even their use of spirits will be somewhat 
limited by the difficulty of transport. In towns, 
on the other hand, a man can always buy as 
much drink as he can afford, and, indeed, the 
wayfarer must buy something when he is thirsty, 
.^ unless he be content with the lukewarm liquid 
supplied by the occasional drinking fountain. 
In the country, on the other hand, he can often 
find, and always beg, water which, at any rate, 
is cold. 


If we now place the northern nations in the 
order of density of population, we find a close 
correspondence to the law that the denser the 
population the ^eater the quantity of beer 
drunk per head; whilst the consumption of 
spirits IS independent of any such rule, except, 
perhaps, in the case of very thinly populated 
countries, such as our Colonies. 


Density of 

Consumption per Head. 



Belgium . 




England and Wales . 




Germany . 




Denmark . 

• » 




Scotland . 










Sweden . 




United States , 

> • 




Norway . 

> t 




New Zealand 

1 • 








[Figures of consumption from House of Com- 
mons Ketum,No. 335, Aug. 12, 1901 (for years 
1898 and 1899), except those for England, Scot- 
land, and Ireland, which are deduced from esti- 
mates of T. P. Whittaker, M.R, given in his 
"Economic Aspects of the Drink Problem." 
Ideal Publishing Co. 1902. In regard to beer 
they are the only figures available, but they are 
admittedly based on guess-work.] 

Of course there is a large element of fallacy 

distributed over the area of a country. In 
Scotland, for example, one and one-third miUion 
of its four and one-half million people inhabit 
the one small county of Lanark. In the United 
States of America the North Atlantic group of 
States had in 1900 a density of 1298 and the 
Western States only 3 '5. 



The Australian colonies, with their very large 
cities and vast uninhabited areas, have been 
omitted ; also Holland, where no statistics of beer 
are to be obtained ; Russia, where beer, though 
drunk in ancient times, is now scarcely used ; 
and all wine-growing countries where wine takes 
the place of beer. 

Again, we find that as population grows denser 
beer-drinking increases, whilst spirit-drinking 
is stationary or even rapidly decreasing. 

The official figures for the United States are 
most remarkable : 

Consumption of Beer and Spirits per Capita in 
American gallons,* 



1840 . 

. 1-36 


1850 . 

. 1-58 


I860 . 

. 3-22 


1870 . 

. 5-31 


1880 . 

. 8-26 


1890 . 

. 13-67 


1896 . 

. 15-16 


The figures fi)r twenty years are given more 
fully in me " Encyclopaedia of Social Reform," t 
and from this we quote the following averages, a 
fairer mode of computation than the selection of 
single years : 

* Twelfth Annual Report. Commissioner of Labour, 
Washington, 1897. 

t Funk. New York, 1 897, p. 742. 


Annual Arerage. 




1876-85 . 

. 1-31 

... 0-48 ., 

.. 8-68 

1886-95 . 

. 1-33 

... 046 . 

.. 14-1 

We constantly hear of the great progress 
which total abstinence and temperance legis- 
lation is making in the United States, but 
in respect to beer the increasing density of 
population easily overtakes it. During twenty 
years the consumption of spirit scarcely altered : 
that of wine, chiefly used by the richer classes, 
actually decreased; that of beer increased by 
some 62 per cent. 


If this law be correct, and it appears not only 
to be a priori probable, but to correspond closely 
to the available facts, we may make several im- 
portant deductions from it. 

The first is that the use of beer is likely to 
increase amongst all beer-drinking nations, 
except where the population is already so thick 
that distance is no obstacle to any appreciable 
proportion of potential beer-drinkers. 

Accordingly we find from the Return (No. 
335 of 1901) just quoted, that an increase in the 
consumption of beer over the period dealt with 
is well-nigh universal. The following are all the 
countries reported on, for which a comparison 
between the years 1885 and 1898 or 1899 can 
be given : 




Per Capka Consumption of Beer in gallons. 




United Kingdom . 



Russia , 












France . 


— . 


Switzerland . 



Italy . 




Austria-Hungary . 



United States 











The latest year recorded is that given in each 
case. It will be noticed that Itafy, where the 
amount consumed is infinitesimal, is the only 
country showing a decrease, and that the 
average increase of the countries is over 41 
per cent. 

For our Colonies the return covers the years 
1888 to 1899 with the following results for all 
those given for the fiill period : 

Per Capita Consumption of Beer in gallons. 

New South Wales 
New Zealand • 
Canada . 

















These fibres on their face teU against our 
view ; but it must be observed that the Aus- 
tralian Colonies have passed through a pro- 
longed period of commercial disaster and de- 
pression, from which New Zealand was saved 
by the daring finance of its Labour Premier, and 
which did not touch Canada. Both these 
colonies show an increase of consumption. 


With spirits the case is altogether different. 
In the last seventy years the variation in British 
consumption has been inconsiderable. 

For ten years, 1831 to 1840, it averaged 11 13 
^lons ; for 1891-9 it averaged 1*021 gallons. 
The minimum period was 1861-70 with "941 ; 
the maximum 1871-80 with 1'173. In America 
in recent years we find the same steadiness. 

The Government return previously quoted 
gives particulars of the consimiption of spirits in 
eleven countries (including Holland and Den- 
mark and excluding Germany and Switzerland) 
over the same period of thirteen or fourteen 
years. Six of these countries show decreases 
and five show increases. On the average of 
countries consumption fell from 1*617 gallons in 
1885 to 1-592 gallons in 1898 and 1899. Our 
Colonies all show decreases between 1888 and 

Where free trade and low taxation have 
permitted a high rate of consumption, reforms of 


the law have been followed by great reductions. 
Hence the astonishing results of various en- 
actments in Norway and Sweden, and also in 

In Scotland there is room for a material reduc- 
tion in the consumption of spirits. In England, 
on the other hand, the figure is relatively low. 
All European countries outside the Mediter- 
ranean basin, and Portugal, drink more, most 
of them much more, with the single exception 
of Norway. The United States takes about 
5 per cent, less over a term of recent years, 
rather more (1'36 gal. to 1*05) in 1902, the last 
year recorded.* Our Colonies vary from double 
to one-tenth of our own consumption. 


It must be recollected that our earlier tem- 
perance agitations, in Parliament and outside, 
were exclusively directed against the use of 
spirits, and so recently as 1830 an Act was 
passed expressly " for the better supplying the 
public with beer " by means of freely granted 
licences at two guineas a year. The intention 
was to discourage the use of spirits, but in 
this respect the plan was not a success. A 
legacy of this legislation is the present im- 
munity from control by the justices of the 
ante- 18 69 beerhouses. 

♦ R. & S. " PubHc Control/' p. 62, and « Daily Mail 
Year Book/' p. 133. 


William Cobbett, the great Radical, held the 
same idea. In his " Cottage Economy " (New 
Edition, 1824) he speaks of the drink "which 
has caused a very considerable part of the 
mortifications and sufferings of [the labourer's] 
life," and adds, " thus he makes his miserable 
progress towards that death which he finds ten 
or fifteen years sooner than he would have 
found it had he made his wife brew beer 
instead of making tea " ! And he concludes his 
chapter on cottage brewing with the remark : 
" Surely we may hope that when the American 
farmers shall see this little essay they will begin 
seriously to think of leaving off the use of liver- 
burning and palsy-producing spirits ... they 
may have, and do have, very good beer if they 
will. ... I like the Americans very much, 
and that, if there were no other, would be a 
reason for my not hiding their faults." Happily 
his good advice has been followed, as the figures 
just quoted show. 

On the Continent this view of beer prevailed 
to a much later date. The Gothenburg sytem, 
established in 1865, still applies to spirits only, 
and the same is true, though perhaps not for the 
reason suggested, of the Eussian and Swiss 


Now the only thing likely to turn the English 
people from their weU-beloved beer to spuits is 


Prohibition, local or otherwise. For the second 
deduction to be drawn from the application of 
the law of gravity to drink is that if the retail 
seUing of drink is vetoed in any district, those 
► who insist on having alcohol will tend to obtain 
it in the more portable form of spirits. 

It is true that in Portland, Maine, 3*3 gallons 
more beer per head are drunk than on the average 
in the United States ; but on this statement IwLr. 
Sherwell says, "If we could add to these 
figures the consumption of spirits— the con- 
sumption of which, owing to their greater 
portability, is always stimulated by prohibitory 
legislation, it would be seen how great the 
consumption of intoxicating liquors in Portland 
really is." * 

^ It is hardly possible to over-emphasise the 
disastrous consequences likely to follow any 
such change of habit. All the worst results 
-of excess in drink are due to the use of spirits. 
The most serious pathological effects of alco- 
holism, the destruction of the digestive system 
and its concomitant evils, are caused by spirits. 

" Spirits and spirits alone produce the absolute 
ruin of body and mind which makes the true 
dipsomaniac." t 

Moreover, drunkenness and crime are due in 
far greater measure to spirits than to beer. 

If we compare England with Scotland and 
Ireland we find that the charges for drunkenness 

♦R. & S. "Tempenince," p. 157. 
t Dr. Shadwell. ''Drink," p. 31 . 


in English towns varied from 33*5 per 1000 in 
Tynemouth (where the Northumbrians go to 
take the air), 20 3 in Newcastle, 13*8 in SgJford, 
the three highest, to 2*1 in Bradford, 1*2 in 
Norwich, 1*0 in Cambridge, an average for 
thirty-eight towns, including London (7*9), of 
7 '4 per 1000. In Ireland the figures begin with 
63 '3 for Gal way, and average for seven large 
towns 24*8. In Scotland Ayr heads the list 
with 51*71, Glasgow comes third with 47*07, 
and the average of fifteen towns is 34*99.* 

What is the explanation of the extraordinary 
excess of criminal drunkenness in Scotland and, 
to a less extent, in Ireland ? The Scotch, at 
any rate, have the reputation of pious and law- 
abiding citizens. But they drink spirits when 
Englishmen drink beer, and this is probably 
enough to axjcount for their excess in drunken- 


According to Mr. T. P. Whittaker, M.P., 
the relative expenditure per family on intoxi- 
cants of the three countries is : 

£ s. d. 


. 22 12 S 


. 17 6 10 


. 15 10 9 

But, taking totals, England spends 95^ millions 
sterling on beer and about half that sum, 
48 J millions, on spirits; Ireland spends 7f 

♦ R. & S. " Public Control," p. 254. The figures are 
incomplete, but that does not affect our argument, 
t See ShadweU. " Drink/' p. 69. 


millions on beer to 6 millions on spirits ; whilst 
Scotland spends less than 5 millions on beer to 
over lOj millions on spirits. Whether these 
figures be exactly correct or not, the fact can 
not be disputed that the Scotch drink spirits 
when English drink beer, and the result is 
nearly five times as much urban drunkenness, 
three charges for crime for every two in England, 
and seven committals to prison for every three 
in England.* 

Yet in Scotland the ratio of licences to popu- 
lation is 1 for 360, whilst in England it is 1 for 
243 ; the expenditure per family on drink is 
much less, and Sunday closing has prevailed 
since 1853. From these figures it appears that 
for the purposes of drunkenness ninepence spent 
on whisky is five times more effective than a 
shilling spent on beer.t 

In the United States a similar comparative 
preference for spirits over beer still prevails, 
though in far less degree than in Cobbett's 
day; and it is impossible to say how much 
of it is due to the large area under veto, and 
how much to the magnificent distances which 
separate the breweries firom outlying farms and 

^ Report on "Judicial Statistics," Scotland, pp. 8-15. 
Cd. 878. 1901. It is more economical to go to prison 
than to pay fines, and this may partly explain the excess 
of Scotch committals. 

t These proportions do not profess to be statistically 



Considered in the light of our dense popula- 
tion our high average of beer-drinking is 
explained, whilst our spirit-drinking is by no 
means immoderate. The outlook therefore 
from the social standpoint is by no means so 
black as some writers depict it. Teetotalers 
speak as if the drink problem were gi-owini 
greater, and drunkenness, with the evils whicl 
It causes, were becoming more prevalent. 

But we find, on looking into the facts, that 
our country is steadily growing soberer. 
" Actual drunkenness has materially diminished 
in all classes in the last twenty-five or thirty 
years," says the Royal Comimission Majority 
Keport, and the Minority Report in no way 
contradicts the statement. Dr. Shadwell very 
carefully examines the evidence in his chapter 
on the " Decline of Drunkenness,"* and he con- 
clusively shows that drunkenness is decreafling. 
Mr. Charles Booth arrives at the same conclu- 
sion in his final volume, t though he believes 
that women drink more than they used to do, 
an opinion, however, on which Dr. ShadweU's 
investigation throws much doubt. | 

Then others say that our drinking habits are 
a naaonJ danger! that we are beln| beaten in 

♦ '' Drink/' chap. iii. 

t " Life and Labour," vol. xvii. p. 59. 

X " Drink,'* chap, iv., Female Drunkenness. 


the world-race by more sober nations. But who 
are our competitors? The learned Germans, 
who drink twice as much spirits and just as 
much net alcohol; or the Belgians, with their 
cheap iron, who drink twice as much spirits, a 
good, deal more beer, and 40 per cent, more net 
alcohol; or the Danes, whose agricultural pro- 
gress is our constant envy, though they take 
S^ gallons of spirits for our 1, and some 2^ 
gallons of pure alcohol to our 2*08 ? Americans, 
it is true, drink only half our amount of net 
alcohol, but they take rather more spirits per 
head, and, in our view, they abstain from beer 
because beer barrels are too bulky to carry to 
the scattered farms where so large a proportion 
of the people dwell. Indeed, a statistical 
brewer might fairly argue that America's ex- 
J ^ traordinary industrial progress of late years has 
been due to the rapid increase in the use of 

Teetotalers are alarmed at our great and 
ever growing habit of beer-drinking, because 
they have not realised that it is apparently an 
inevitable consequence of a dense population, 

We must, indeed, deplore the enormous share 
of wages which, as Rowntree and Sherwell de- 
monstrate, are spent, or shall we say wasted, on 
intoxicants ; and every thoughtful person must 
acknowledge the value of that constant preach- 
ing of temperance which occupies the scanty 
leisure of so many devoted men and women 
throughout the land. 


But we must face facts fairly; and, in our 
opinion, these facts show that whilst drunken- 
ness can be reduced, and perhaps even stamped 
out, by laws properly adapted to that purpose, 
moderate drinking, especially of beer, is a 
national habit only to be changed very slowly 
indeed. Some effect, we believe, would be pro- 
duced by the legislation we contemplate, though 
it may be more than counterbalanced by the 
growth of urban population. But we are con- 
vinced that they are mistaken who expect from 
any legislation whatsoever a rapid reduction in 
our national consumption of alcohol. 



The Argument from other Nations — Norway and 
Sweden — The South Carolina State Dispen- 
saries — Russia — The Swiss Spirit Monopoly — 
The Transvaal 


In many respects the civUised world is becomiDg 
a great commonwealth. Science, Art, and Litera- 
ture are already international, and, to a less 
extent, the social evolution of each State pos- 
sesses common features and obeys the same 
laws. At any rate, the governing principles 
of any period are common to all the nations. 
If it be granted that the Teutonic and 
Sclavonic races, at any rate, are still evolving 
towards a higher and fuller civilisation, then it 
is the business of the political philosopher to 
look ahead, to watch wnither other nations are 
tending, and to take care that his own is kept 
in the van of progress. 

This rule is valid even in so detailed a 
matter as the trade in alcoholic drinks. We 


need not necessarily copy other nations, but if 
we find manifested in various separate peoples 
spontaneous movements for adopting measures 
based on an identical underlying principle, that 
principle has at the lowest a claim to our most 
careful consideration. 

At the present day State management of the 
Liquor Trade is found, in one form or another, 
in such diverse countries as Norway, Sweden, 
Russia, Switzerland, the United States of 
America, and the South African Colonies. 
Sweden led the way in 1865, and the other 
countries' followed in the order named : Norway, 
1871 ; Switzerland, 1887 ; South Carolina, 
1893; Russia, 1895; and Transvaal Colony, 

The significance of this wide adoption of the 
same principle lies in its evident spontaneity. 
Norway, of course, copied Sweden, and the 
Transvaal Colony, or perhaps we should say 
Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Milner, acted no 
doubt upon information received. But the 
other coimtries clearly started on their own 
initiative, because their applications of the 
common principle bear little resemblance to 
each other. Norway and Sweden have philan- 
thropic companies for retailing spirits ; Switzer- 
land has a Federal monopoly for producing 
spirits ; South Carolina has a State monopoly 
for retailing all intoxicants ; and Russia a State 
monopoly for retailing spirits, which is a re 
version to the traditional custom of the country. 


We have only space for brief synopses of 
these systems. 


The famous Gothenburg system in these 
countries has attracted world-wide attention, 
and quite a literature exists specially devoted 
to it. The most recent and carefully critical 
account is given in Rowntree and Sherwell's 
" Public Control of the Liquor Traffic." We 
may remind our readers that the essence of the 
system is the grant of a monopoly of spirit 
licences in each town to a company formed for 
the purpose, which pays a fixed interest on the 
capital and hands over the balance of the 
profits for public purposes in proportions de- 
termined by law. Part of the funds are used 
for reading-rooms, and other substitutes for the 
saloon, as the Americans phrase it, and another 
part for subsidies to temperance societies. For 
fuller details of the system and its results we 
must refer the reader to the volumes mentioned 
in the Bibliography annexed, but we must make 
a few observations on points which have special 
application to our argument. 

The taking over of a municipal function by 
^ a semi-detached company is more closely in 
accord with Swedish customs than it is with our 
own, because the co-optive principle prevails 
extensively in their municipal affitirs. Hundreds 
of citizens are co-opted to the committees of the 


councils of large towns ; such members are often 
chairmen of committees, and it is a recognised 
practice to treat co- option as the first rung of 
the ladder in municipal politics; a co-opted 
committee-man who makes a reputation is 
selected as candidate for the council itself* 
The Bolags are therefore only somewhat more 
detached than the other municipal committees. 
Moreover, they have but little real autonomy. 
The Town Council decides on the number and 
localities of the Ucensed premises and appoints 
auditors for the accounts. The by-laws of the 
company must be examined by the magistrates 
and submitted by them to the Town Council, 
on whose report the Governor can reject them, 
and " the company is in duty bound to be 
governed by the orders of the Governor of the 
province concerning all changes [in what is not 
specified], and if the company decline the 
Governor is permitted to impose a suitable 
fine." t 

In Norway municipal control is even more 
direct and complete. In Bergen the Town 
Council appoints half the managing committee ; 
there and elsewhere the by-laws are subject to 
the approval by the Council, who also have a 
veto on the appointment of managers, and in 
addition powers of audit and control over 
licences as in Sweden. These companies, there- 
fore, both in Sweden and Norway, are nearly 

*See "Fabian News." October 1901. 
t Gould " Report," p. 47. 


as much subject to popular control as a 
statutory committee of one of our town or 
county councils. 

Another point of interest is that Sweden is 
tending towards the humanismg of its pubUc- 
houses. The buildings have recently been 
improved, and rules eSbrced in order to make 
them " elegant and clean." " In the press the 
introduction of music has been urged ; it will 
come in time." In Stockholm we learn that 
" the bars have been converted from dark dens 
to bright working-class cafis^ * 

The next point we would draw attention to 
is the effect of the company system upon the 
national consumption of spirits. In Sweden 
this was excessive in the early years of the 
century, but by various enactments it was re- 
duced to 8*8 litres per head in 1879. Since 
then it has not materially altered, the average 
for quinquennial periods being : 


. 7*8 litre? 

1886-91 . 

. . 6-9 „ 


. 70 „ 

1897-1901 . 

. • o*3 ^f 

On the other hand, the consumption of beer 
has increased almost yearly from 17*1 litres 
in 1882 to 377 litres in 1902. 

In Norway much the same thing appears. 

* Letter from Mr. Gustav Siosteen. See also his ob- 
servations. Journal Roj/al Statistical Society March 1901, 
p. 28. 


Consumption first fell below 4 litres in 1879 ; 
from 1880 to 1899 (the last year recorded) the 
quinquennial averages are : * 

1880-4 . . . .3-5 litres 

1885-9 . . . . S-1 „ 

1890-4 . . . . 3-5 „ 

1895-9 . . . . 2-8 „ 

Here the consumption of beer has also in- 
creased, but only slightly. 

The conclusion we draw from this is that the 
company system, after it has cured abnormal 
excess, must not be expected to eflfect any great 
reduction in national consumption. The fall in 
the last quinquennial period in Norway may be 
set against the rise m the last quinquennial 
period in Sweden ; in both countries the limits 
of legislative effect appear to have been reached 
some twenty years ago.f The normal rate of 
national consumption can only be altered by a 
change in the habits of the people apart from 
the licensing law. 

Another point to be noted is the Norwegian 
experiment m town prohibition. This was per- 
mitted by an Act of 1894, and Mr. Whittaker 
records with satisfaction that twenty-three 
towns had abolished the companies and the 

* R. & S. *' Temperance," p. 724. 

tThe fall in Norwegian consumption is stated to be 
due to an increase in the stringency of the law, but the 
movement is too recent and too slight for a confident 


sale of spirits altogether.* Mr. Whittaker 
should know that statistics, like whiskey, are 
most dangerous when they are new and ill- 
matured. But we also must take the risk, and 
mention that in 1900 out of eleven towns which 
had voted Prohibition in 1895 six returned to 
" Samlag " licences, and this is the more remark- 
able because all electors who do not vote are 
counted as supporters of the status quo. 


A typical southern State is so utterly unlike 
an English county that inferences from one to 
the other are of little value. Scmth Carolina 
has a population of 1,340,312 scattered some 
forty-four to the square mile, in rice swamps on 
the coast and backwoods farms amongst the 
hills. More than half the people are negroes, 
and in 1891 only three towns had over 8000 
population, and these contained but 7 per cent, 
of the whole. Presumably the negroes do not 
count for DoUtical purposes, because they are 
not counted. 

The extraordinary history of the State Dispen- 
sary Act can be read at length in " The Liquor 
Problem in its L^islative Aspect." Here we 
have only space for the briefest summary. The 
result of a long political conflict between the 
planter aristocracy and the farmers was the 

* Memorandum attached to the Royal Commission 
Report, p. 321. 


victory of the latter in 1892 ; a Prohibition Bill 
was introduced, but it would have cost the ft 
State the income from licences, and other 
political diflSiculties arose. 

Prohibition was therefore thrown out, and a 
Bill instituting the Dispensary system, which \ 
had been invented in 1889 by "Athens, Georgia," 
** was rushed through towards the end of the 
Session. The Lower House had barely time to 
read it ; it was whipped through in the course 
of two and a half hours at the last meeting." 

Riots against it, annulments by the Supreme 
Court, periods of uncertainty whether Free 
Trade or Prohibition was the law, re-enactments, 
amendments, " blind tigers," and other forms of 
illicit selling were the results in the next few 
years. Even wine for Communion was smuggled. 
But ultimately the system conquered. 

It is a pure State monopoly. Liquor is to be 
obtained, like stamps in England, only from 
State officials, who receive it, in sealed packages 
of not less than half a pint of spirits and one 
pint of beer, from a central store, and dispense it 
to purchasers in the same form for consumption 
off the premises. The buyer must bring a signed 
order form, written in ink or printed, giving his 
name, age, and residence, the quantity wanted, 
and for whose use. Unknown persons require 
to be identified. It is, however, needless to say 
that in practice these formalities are disregarded. 
One exceptionally clever section of the Act must 
be noted : it is provided that the taking out of 


a Federal licence to sell liquor shall be deemed 
prima facie evidence of (illicit) liquor-selling. 

Notwithstanding its extraordinary inception 
and troubled infancy, this queer system seems 
to have become highly popular. 

"The liquor interest (the blind tigers ex- 
cepted) is aemoralised and disbanded." Arrests 
for drunkenness have decreased, and even the 
blind tigers " live in a state of semi-captivity." 

The number of dispensaries establ^hed has 
been much smaller than that of the licences they 
replaced, and perhaps for this reason the financial 
results have not realised the expectations of the 
promoters, and at first the net profits were less 
than the proceeds of licences under the old 
system. As, however, the profits are between 
£60,000 and £70,000 a year, there is nothing 
from our point of view to complain of. 

The most important point about the system 
is its success. By 1897 it was accepted by all 
parties save the Prohibitionists "on principle." 
The true explanation is no doubt furnished by 
a local paper, which remarked in 1892 : "The 
great majority of our white voters reside in the 
country, and have no interest in sustaining the 
saloons. ... if they can procure all the whiskey 
required, and have the profits thereon returned 
to them, they will be content." The dispensaries, 
it is said, ari mainly used by the hhcL 

State dispensing has spread, even in Indi- 
vidualist America, both locally in the neigh- 
bouring parts, in Alabama, North Carolina, and 


Georgia, and even to the very remote and 
diflFerent State of South Dakota. 


State monopoly is no novelty in Eussia. 
From the earhest times the trade in alcohol 
had been a prmcely privilege, and when the 
Czar of Moscow became paramount, he regu- 
lated it according to his pleasure. In 1652, 
under the influence of the Patriarch Nikon, 
an ordinance was promulgated which enacted 
Sunday closing, including all fast days, strictly 
perpendicular drinking, prohibition in the rural 
districts, and the closing of all drink-shops save 
one in each town. This proved a complete 
failure : in 1658 Nikon retired, and next year 
orders were issued giving rewards for large 
sales, and special instructions not to turn 
drunken men out of the drink-shops ! A State 
monopoly seems to have been established in 
1677, but farming out was soon revived, and 
continued till 1817, when State monopoly was 
again introduced with disastrous results to the 
revenue owing to illicit distilling. Farming 
was therefore re-established in 1827. It was un- 
popular, and in 1859 a great temperance move- 
ment broke out, directed apparently against the 
spirit farmers rather than against drinking. 
Spirit-shops had to be closed, distilleries failed, 
and the revenue suflfered, notwithstanding the 
annulment by the Minister of Finance of all 


temperance resolutions adopted by local autho- 
rities. So in 1863 spirit farming was abolished 
and excise licensing introduced, a reform satis- 
factory in attaining its object of increasing the 
revenue of the State, but, at the same time, 
resulting in a rapid growth in consumption, 
owing to a great reduction in price from 2^. to 
7d. per litre ! Strictly perpendicular drinking 
and the exclusion of food from spirit-shops were 
tried as remedies for excess, but without result, 
so the excise was increased from 85. per wiedwo* 
in 1863 to 205. in 1874, and the fee for licences 
was also raised. This proved effective, as it 
nearly always does, and consumption fell from 
5.85 litres per head in the former year to 2.35 
in the latter. 

Reversion to State monopoly was mooted in 
1885. It seems that the excise system was 
practically free licensing, and, at any rate, it is 
stated that competition led to great abuse, and 
the traders resorted to illegitimate methods to 
increase their sales, whilst the officials con- 
cemed themselves about nothing beyond the 
collection of the duties. It was some years 
before the risk to the revenue of a change of 
system could be faced, but on January 1, 
1895, the monopoly was introduced into several 
provinces, and it proved so successful that it has 
since been extended over the whole of European 

The State buys the vodka from the makers, 

* A wicdwo is 4*7 English gallons. 


giving a considerable prefereiie& to thoae in 
rural districts (';brandeyineries agricoles," m 
opposed to ^'distilleries industrielles ")» ^^d to 
tne smaller as against the larger concerns. The 
spirit is rectifi^by the State done up in sealed 
bottles, and distributed to the retail dep6ts, 
which sell it in bottles as received. The system 
is like that of North Carolina, already described, 
except that a written order is not requu^, and 
that the customer on entering the shop is obliged 
by law to take off his hat ; conversation is not 
permitted ; the bottle may not be opened on the 
spot; '^when he has got his bottle there is 
nothing for the purchaser but to go away." 

Wine and beer dealers are permitted to retail 
State spirits, and certain restaurants can seU bv 
the glass ; but the commission allowed in boui 
cases is very smalL 

Local Veto is sometimes permitted, and over 
one hundred depdts have been closed by this 

The number of spiritHshops has been greatly 
reduced, and is now very small, one to 2&43 
inhabitants in thirty-five provinces in 1899, and 
the total number was 99,1 1 1 in that year (against 
150,069 in 1889), although the monopoly was 
in operation in only one half of European Ilussia. 
In twenty provinces where it was first intro- 
duced the reduction has been from 35,689 m 
1894 to 5091 in 1898. 

The authorities state that temperance was 
their object in making the change, and this 


sweeping reduction of licences, together with 
the Spartan methods adopted, seems to justify 
their claim. It must be remembered that the 
Russian peasants pay heavy direct taxes, which 
are frequently in arrears, and the State there- 
fore has an immediate interest in promoting 

Perhaps the most surprising part of the 
Russian system is the realisation of the 
" counter attraction " idea, on which Rowntree 
and Sherwell justly lay so much stress. The Go- 
vernment has organised in every town, and even 
in rural districts, subsidised committees for the 
purpose of supervising the administration of the 
law, promoting temperance by direct instruction, 
and providing coimter attractions. In Moscow 
most extensive schemes have been organised. 
People's palaces, music halls, concerts, theatres 
to which admission is free or at an almost 
nominal charge, summer f^tes, public libraries, 
reading-rooms, and, above all, very cheap and 
comfortable restaurants. In other towns the 
same sort of activities prevail. An admirable 
account of these committees can be found in an 
article by Miss Edith Sellers in the Contemporary 
Review for December 1902. Much of this work 
has proved to be self-supporting, but the State 
grant to the committees for these purposes was 
in 1901 * nearly £500,000. The work of these 
committees is said to be undertaken enthusias- 

^Skarzynski. ''L'Alcool/' p. 180. The passage is 

iU. '* Lt .AiCOOi, p. 1 tf U. 1 

year referred to may be 190S. 


tically by the educated and aristocratic classes 
in Bussia, largely, no doubt, because, while 
keenly alive to the urgency of social problems, 
they are debarred by the autocracy from the 
ordinary forms of poUtical and even philanthropic 

It is too early to give with any certainty the 
financial results of the monopoly. The excise 
revenue seems to show that consumption has 
not been materially reduced, since it averaged 
260,745,713 roubles for ten years up to 1898 
(say £26,000,000 sterling), and in 1899 it 
reached the highest point, 298,753,746 roubles, 
or nearly £30,000,000 sterling. The licence 
revenue naturally fell off as the monopoly was 
introduced, and was only 11,107,951 roubles in 

1898 against an average of 16,875,902 for the 
ten preceding years. On the other hand, the 
trading profits have increased as the monopoly 
was extended, and in 1899 they reached 
111,405,806 roubles, or over £11,000,000. 
The net profit has varied in different years 
and districts from 13f to 50 per cent. It 
has averaged, quite roughly, over 30 per cent., 
and is, as a rule, increasmg. 

It must be remembered that the Bussian 
population is growing quickly, and the excise 
revenue appears not to have kept pace with-it. 
Moreover, the increase in consumption of spirits 
took place chiefly in those provinces where in 

1899 the monopoly had not been introduced. 
In the provinces where it was begun in 1895 


there was a marked reduction for the years 1896 
to 1898, but in 1899, the last reported, showed 
a reversion to the old level If these provinces 
are taken by local (rroups. some show an 
increaae, even aUowing for &ie growth of popu- 
lation, whilst the majority give a decided 
decrease. We cannot afford space for the 
explanations offered for these figures. At 
present all that can be said with certainty is 
that the results so far appear to be favourable, 
but are by no means decisive. 

We have dwelt at some length on the history 
of the Russian monopoly, because we believe 
much of it is unknown to English readers, and 
because it explains that State management was 
no innovation but merely a reversion to the 
traditional custom of the country; for the 
farming system was but a form of Government 
monopoly, and indeed is to be found in Scandi- 
navia to-day as a part of the municipal mono- 
poly there; W eve^ during the excL period 
the licences were granted by the State, which 
retained the power to refuse them. 

How the enormous reduction of licences will 
work cannot yet be iudc^ed. It has thrown out 
of employment 8Cor4 of thousands of persons, 
since even for the drink-shops retaineTcandi- 
dates previously unconnected with the trade 
are always selected. Hence much dissatisfaction 
has arisen, and this is the explanation of many 
of the reports of the failure of the system. 

Drastic reductions in licences are generally 


effective in reducing consumption fot a few 
years, until illicit supplies are organised, or the % 
people get accustomed to the new arrangements 
tor procuring liquor ; and this appears to be the 
course events are taking in Brusaia. 

The peasants are not habitual drinkera 
They take little alcohol save in the form of 
spirits, and of this they drink scarcely more 
than ourselves. Their consumption of net 
alcohol is therefore nearly the lowest in Europe ; 
but the custom of the villagers is occasionally, 
on feasts and festivals, to "go on the booze," 
with childish irresponsibility and disastrous 
consequences. This is a form of drinking 
specially amenable to treatment by legislative 
and social methods. The Russian people, too, 
are accustomed to be ordered about in ways that 
nations bred up to personal freedom would not 
tolerate for a moment ; therefore autocratic 
measures in an autocracy may be successful, 
which would fail in a democracy, even though 
enacted in the most democratic of forms by a 
majority vote at a referendum. 


By the Constitution of 1874, which guaranteed 
freedom of trade, all restrictions on the sale of 
liquor were removed. The effect of this was 
a great increase in consumption and much con- 
sequent degradation amongst the people, and it 
was then decided by a two-thirds vote on a 


referendum that the Federal Government should 
take over the wholesale business of distilling 
and seUing spirits. The law came into onera- 
tion in 1887, when all domestic stills and the 
1400 distilleries were closed, except about 68, 
The result has been a reduction in consumption 
of about 30 per cent. In 1900 the receipts 
were just over 13,000,000 francs, and the net 
profit of 6,355,536 francs, say £254,221. This 
was about an average year, as the proceeds have 
varied from 7J- to 5^ million francs.* The 
Government has improved the quality of the 
spirits supplied and is presumably satisfied with 
tne substantial profits realised. It should be 
noted that the consumption of beer here, as 
elsewhere, is rapidly increasing, t 


The first fruits in actual legislation of the 
municipalisation movement in £ngland is the 
Transvaal Liquor Licensing Ordinance of 
October, 1902, | It is a codification of the 
whole law of the subject, and is remarkable in 
three respects. It permits Local Veto, for which 
the Transvaal, with its scattered population, is 
as an appropriate field as any ; it fixes a licence 
fee of £100 for licences in places with a popu- 

* '* Annuaire Statistique de la Suisse " (official). Beni, 
1901, p. SS5. 
t Sec F. O. Report, 1925, C. 8277, 14,3. June 1897. 
t Cd. 1365. 1902. 3d, 


lation of over 400 white men above 16 years of 
age, and £50 for places with less than that 
population, a decided step in the direction of 
High Licence; and finally the establishment 
either of simple municipal public-houses or of 
the Gothenburg system is expressly permitted, 
if the majority of the voters or male white per- 
sons over twenty-one years of age vote to that 
effect. When such a vote has been carried the 
local authority or company will have a 

Altogether it is clear that Mr. Chamberlain, 
Lord Milner, and their advisers in the Transvaal, 
are of opinion that experiments should be tried 
in various forms of licensing law. The Transvaal, 
with its large native population, is so widely 
different from our own country that the lessons 
from this comprehensive experiment may be of 
little use to us. Nevertheless, October 27, 
1902, is a noteworthy date in the annals of 
municipalisation ; since then, for the first time 
in the history of the world, the law explicitly 
gave permission to a local authority to conduct 
the business of liquor-retailing. 

In February 1904 no information that the 
law had anywhere been put into operation had 
reached England. 



The Scotch Public House Societies — The People's 
Refreshment House Association — The Pubhc 
House Trust Companies 

The case for municipalisation would be incom- 
plete without some reference to the spontaneous 
growth of three forms of public control of the 
Liquor Traffic in our country. 

But as two books, and numerous pamphlets 
and papers have been recently published dealing 
specially with these experiments, which are con- 
sequently familiar to all interested in the liquor 
problem, it is not necessary here to devote 
much space to them. 

They are, however, important because of the 
light they throw on the profits likely to be 
derived from public management of the retail 


The first actual attempt at public manage- 
ment in Great! Britain was made in June 1896 


l^ Mr. Charles Caxlow at the Hill of Beath in 
the kingdom of Fife, a mining village of 1100 or 
1200 inhabitants belonging to the Fife Coal 
Company which he managed. Before that date 
there were no licensed premises in the village. 
When the demand for a licence conld no longer 
be resisted Mr. Carlow, who is a Justice of the 
Peace, induced his colleagues to grant it to 
himself, and he forthwith, as agreed, handed it 
over to the control of a committee of five, three 
nominated by the company and two by the 
villagers. After the rent (£20) and 4 per 
cent, on the capital advanced by the company, 
had been paid the balance was to be used for 
public purposes. Various changes in the man- 
agement have been made, and in 1900 the con- 
cern was registered as a company under the 
Industrial and Provident Societies Act, with a 
maximum dividend of 5 per cent. The net 
sums available for public purposes have varied 
from £358 in 1901 to £562 for 1899. The 
takings in the latter year were £2216, so 
that the net profits were just over 25 per 
cent. These have been used for a reading-room 
and institute, a bowling-green, singing-class, 
football club, and for introducing electric light- 

Naturally the success of the experiment, from 
all points of view, attracted mucn attention in 
the district, and similar public-house companies 
have been formed at Armadale, Cowdenbeath, 
Dunfermline, Kelty, Kirkcaldy, and Standburn, 




the last of which, though managed by a com- 
mittee, is owned, as the Hill of Beath originally 
was, by a coal company. Other houses managed 
on the same system are mentioned, somewnat 
vaguely, by Mr. Walker in his volume, " The 
Commonwealth as Publican," and evidently the 
feeling in favour of the plan is strong amongst 
the working-classes in Scotland. 

The financial argument is the conclusive one. 
If £500 or £600 a year in net profits are to be 
easily made in a village, the villagers prefer 
keeping it for themselves to handing it over to 
a brewer or a publican. 

Unless it can be shown that serious evils 
result from the system, no further demonstration 
of its value is needed. Mr. Walker records a 
few complaints ; but as he tells us that the people 
regard these places as their clubs it is evident that 
they are moving in the right direction. Rown- 
tree and Sherwell, in their " British Gothenburg 
Experiments," are candid critics of these houses, 
because they have in some cases no monopoly, 
and theprofits are all expended locally. 

The Hill of Beath tavern, they say, does not 
materially differ from an ordinary well-conducted 
public-house. At Kelty, they tell us, it is im- 
possible to decide whether the new public-house 
has or has not increased the total amount of 
drinking. On the one side of the account for 
these two places is a negation ; on the other is 
£1000 a year taken from the profits of the liquor 
trade and secured for beneficent public purposes. 


This alone is ample justification for these 
Scotch pioneers. 



This Society was formed by the Bishop of 
Chester and others in 1896 for the purpose of 
introducing the Gothenburg system into this 
country. Its object is to acquire control of 
public-houses, manage them on approved prin- 
ciples — ^that is, salaried managers, paid a com- 
mission on all sales but those of alcoholic liquors, 
supply of good liquor, and decent arrangements. 
The company acquired one inn during 1897, and 
at the time of writing (February 1904) thirty- 
four are under its control. The great majority 
are in little country villages, an(f the business 
done is therefore small. On December 31,1902, 
the capital of the company was £9577, but as 
£3212 was held in cash or invested in consols 
the employed capital was only £6365. On this 
capital a trading-profit of £1541 was made 
aiter paying all expenses of the public-houses, 
that is nearly 25 per cent. The expenses of the 
Association absoroed some two-tmrds of this 
simi, but as the company is avowedly a propa- 

fandist body, and its houses are nearly all 
ttle village inns, scattered over the whole of 
England, these are out of all proportion to 
the normal cost of business management. Five 
per cent, is paid on capital, a reserve of £400 




has been formed, and grants of small sums, over 
£212 in all, have been made to philanthropic 
objects in the villages where the company's 
houses are situated. The Beport states that the 
sales of liquor were about the same in 1901 and 
1902, but both years show a reduction on 1900 
for houses managed during the three years. 

A new and promising development is the 
opening, on January 14, 1904, of the Water- 
man's Arms in Bankside, South wark, a poor 
and crowded district near London Bridge ; a 
large business is done in cheap meals and 
in the supply of tea, coffee, and cocoa for 


The origin of this most influential movement 
was dramatic. In 1900 Earl Grey, the owner 
of Broomhall, a mining village in Northumber- 
land, applied for an additional licence for that 
village at the desire of its inhabitants. When 
it was granted, he was forthwith oflFered £10,000 
for what he had acquired " without spending a 
single sixpence." 

Struck by the iniquity of this transaction 
Earl Grey took up the matter with extraordinary 
vigour. Not content with organising a trust 
company for Northumberland to take over this 
and other licences and manage them for the 
public benefit, he has created a network of 
county and other companies already covering 


almost every county of England and parts of 
Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. 

These companies have been organised by the 
Central Public House Trust Association, and they 
are all much on the same model. The council 
includes ex officio members, as, for example, in 
Northumberland, the Lord Lieutenant, the 
Chairman of the County Council, the Chairman 
of the Standing Joint Committee, the Mayor of 
Newcastle, the Principal of the College of 
Science, the President of the Northumberland 
Miners' Association, and the Chairman of the 
Newcastle Co-operative Wholesale. A viscount, 
two baronets, two knights, and three commoners 
(one of them the ex-General Secretary of the 
Boiler-makers) have been elected by the direc- 
tors, who themselves are bankers, ship-builders, 
and the like. Three trustees are appointed who 
will have the disposal of the surplus funds for 
counter attraction, educational, recreative, and 
other like purposes. 

The other companies are on similar lines^ 
except that outside Durham and Northumber- 
land the heads of working-class organisations 
are not included amongst the local magnates. 

Hitherto the movement has been confined to 
" the aristocratic elements of the community," 
as the Report for 1902 states, and rarely in these 
latter days have the aristocrats better justified 
their name. They have started a movement 
which is certain to make rapid progress in their 
hands, while in those of any other class decades 


of patient agitation would have led to little 

The obiects and methods of these companies 
are .bJns. and. we need not go into TtaOs. 
They seek to obtain the grant of all new licences 
which the magistrates decide to issue in their 
areas, and to procure by purchase, or more usually 
as tenants of friendly landovmers. any others 
which can be had at a reasonable cost. The 
shareholders are to receive no more than 4 or 
5 ner cent., and the balance of the profits is 
to DO expended on public purposes of the usual 
sort. The houses are to be managed on the 
approved methods, apparently with a general 
tendency towards the humanising rather than 
the perpendicular policy. 

By February 1904, 122 licences were under 
the control of these companies, and another 
hundred had been promised by the owners, as 
the leases fell in and other arrangements could 
be made. 

The Durham and Cambridge Companies have 
paid 5 per cent., and me Cheshire and 
Northumberland 3 per cent, on their paid-up 
capitals ; others are about to declare dividends 
for 1903, but in most cases the businesses have 
been started too recently to have yet earned 

Considerable difficulties, no doubt, stand in 
the way of this movement. The total number 
of licences in the country is steadily decreasing, 
and in recent years a new licence has been 


granted, as a rule, only in exchange for the 
surrender of one or several old ones. 

In England three licences out of four are held 
as tied houses by brewers and are never in the 
market. The companies are opposed to increasing 
the number of licences, and therefore they do 
not seek for openings to extend their businesses. ^ 
Under present conditions, therefore, decades 
and even centuries must elapse before a sensiUe 
proportion of the licences of the country could 
fall into the hands of these Trusts. 

Perhaps the greatest value of the movement 
is that it accustoms the aristocracy in the first 
place, and then the country at large, to the idea 
of municipal management. When substantial ^ 
profits are made from a few houses, municipalities ■ 
will awake to the idea of what might be done 
on aJarger scale. 

Th\( companies themselves, already formed on 
a semi-officfal basis. wiU no doubt gladly transfer 
their undertakings to any elected authority 
authorised by Parliament to accept them. The 
public spirit which animated the founder, Earl 
Grey, will assuredly continue to actuate his 



It fulfils the Objects and Qualifications of the 
Law — Popular Control of the Trade — Perpendi- 
cular Drinking — Humanising the Public House — 
Munidpalisation and the Drink Bill: Good 
Liquor — Munidpalisation and the Rates — The 
Political Power of the Trade — Municipalisation 
acceptable to all — ^The Political Argument 


Wb have argued that some reform of the 
Ucensing system is imperative, and that aU 
other methods suggested prove on examination 
to be incomplete or futile. State management 
remains to be considered, and the one torm of 
this which is possible for Great Britain, muni- 
cipalisation, will be found, on examination, to 
pass evenrtest which we apply, and, in addition, 
to furnish advantages which no other system 
can offer. 

It will be recollected that we set down the 
following as the purposes of the licensing law : 


To prevent excessive consumption of liquor. 

To secure adequate police supervision of 
public-houses, due enforcement of rules as to 
closing, &c., and the prevention of drunkenness 
and disorder. 

To raise a revenue for public purposes. 

To prevent the sale of untaxed intoxicants. 

To prevent adulteration. 

All these could obviously be fiilfilled to the 
letter by a law which placed the management 
of the retail trade in the hands of the muni- 
cipality. We added that a good licensing law — 

Should win popular confidence by responding 
within limits to popular control : 

Should directly encourage moderation in every 
possible way : 

Should secure to the State the whole of the 
special profits which the regulation of trade 
creates : 

Must not only be desired by a majority of ? 
the people, but must also be acquiesced in by %; 
practically all classes closely concerned in it. *^ 

Municipal management fulfils every one of 
the requirements. It is the only system which 
gives the public complete control over the trade. 
It alone, of all systems, can directly encourage 
moderation, because it is the only system which 
removes the conduct of the trade from private 
profit-makers- It alone secures every penny of 
profit for the State ; and, finally, we hope to 
show that it is more likely to be acceptable to 
all than any other proposal. We shall deal 



with each point in detail in the course of the 


Municipalisation alone gives to the public a 
complete control over the Drink Trade, and thus 
carries out the demand of the Local Optionists 
in a way that they did not anticipate. 

The merit of municipalisation is its infinite 
flexibility. Every sort of experiment in public, 
house management can be tried, for the widest 
latitude in details should be permitted to local 
authorities, subject only to the condition that no 
attempt at veto or free trade be made. Hours and 
methods of sale, special times for closing, number 
of licences, character of houses, and scores of 
other points should be left to the judgment of 
the representative authority. 

Different methods are probably needed in 
different localities. In drunken districts strin- 
gent regulations would perhaps succeed best, 
at any rate, for a time. Where drunkenness is 
rare, whether in the particular locality or in the 
part of the country, such measures might do 
more harm than good. 

Experience alone could give a decisive answer 
to questions which it is useless now to ask, 
because our cast-iron system offers no oppor- 
tunity for any variation in practice. 

Two opposite policies will no doubt be adopted, 
both of which have already adherents. 



The first notion of the temperance reformer 
when he abandons the idea of Prohibition is 
that public-houses should be rendered as dis- 
agreeable as possible to their frequenters. 

Abolish the siren barmaid; allow no music 
or dancing, games or gun dubs; forbid snugs, 
private compartments, and all the refinements 
of bar-room life ; reduce the whole thinff to its 
simplest elements, a plain, bare, severely clean 
dep6t, where people can obtain beer and spirits 
in exchange for money ; can drink at the counter, 
or, at the utmost, sitting on wooden chairs at 
wooden tables; and whence they are to be 
encouraged to depart as rapidly as possible. A 
railway Dooking-ofBce is the ideal aimed at by 
this school, and it is carried out to the full in 
South Carolina, where bottles of spirit are 
pushed through a lattice to the customer in 
exchange for a written order,* and in Kussia 
where conversation in the spirit dep6ts is for- 
bidden. Both these systems are for "off" 
consumption only. It has prevailed to some 
extent m Sweden, though food has always been 
supplied with the drink, chiefly in a separate 
room, and recently a movement in favour of the 
opposite policy has attained some success. 

In Norway the idea has been carried out more 
strictly ; m Bergen perpendicular drinking was 

* '^ Substitutes for the Saloon/' p. 41. 


actually enforced, since no seats were provided, 
and customers were not permitted to loiter ; and 
it must be said that the Bergen plan seems to 
be successful. Sales at bar have steadily de- 
creased, of course with fluctuations, from 2*45 
litres per head in 1887 to 0*87 in 1901, the 
lowest figure recorded. Even these bars have 
been recently abolished, and for two years past 
no spirits have been sold for consumption on 
the premises. 

It must, however, be observed that these 
systems, with a partial exception in North 
Carolina, where a little beer is sold, deal with 
spirits alone. In Sweden, and probably else- 
where, it is taken neat, and for such unsociable 
tippling the treatment appears appropriate. 

Undoubtedly this method should be tried in 
some of our towns, or parts thereof. In Scot- 
land especially, where a strong temperance 
movement exists alongside an extraordinary 
amount of drunkenness, where whiskey is the 
popular beverage, and where the prevailing 
puritanism of the people would render such 
methods congenial, the Norwegian drinking- 
baa-s might Be introduced bb an experiment. 
The same system might be adopted in Newcastle- 
on-IVne iA Tvne^uth, where dmnkenneee is 
ff^y in excJ. of the EngUsh averse and the 
Temperance party is powerful. 



Less drastic measures would probably be 
preferred in other towns and districts, and we 
cherish the hope that they might in the long run 
be even more successful. After all, the public- 
house is the poor man's club, and it is the only 
club open to the great majority. Man is a 
social animal, and the more social, on the whole, 
the better he is. In the country a man may 
sit with content under his own vine and fig- 
tree, or their local equivalents. In a town he 
cannot be expected to spend all his spare hours 
in the dismal quarters he calls his home. We 
regret the free, sociable city life of the Middle 
Ages. We envy nations with hotter summers 
their open-air cs£4q and beer gardens. Cannot 
our working classes, and other classes too, have 
some equivalent in a hmnanised municipal 
public-house ? Every reformer knows that the 
dark, dirty beer-house in a back street is the 
worst type of drink shop. It is the ante- 1869 
beer-houses which inteUigent magistrates vainly 
desire to abolish. The "flaring gin-palace," 
which temperance orators describe in glowing 
periods, is the most obvious, but probably least 
objectionable, of urban public-houses. 

This line of reform has been adopted by the 
Public House Trust Association. They propose 
to "improve and even to idealise the public- 
house, to supply every variety of refreshment ; 



to give facilities for games and recreations ; and, 
in a word, to make the refreshment-house some- 
thing more nearly approaching to a club or, at 
least, a caf6 as known in France." * 

There seems to be some intention of keeping 
the games for the tea-drinkers, and Bowntree 
and Sherwell endorse this idea, only objecting 
that "the alcoholic and non-alcoholic depart- 
ments " must be further apart than the sides of 
one house. 

This, we suggest, is the wrong principle. The 
moderate drinKors must have their games too. 
The last volume issued by the Committee of 
Fifty, " Substitutes for the Saloon," brings out 
very clearly the important social function which, 
in America, at any rate, the saloons fulfil. There 
the workman "meets his fellows, and is met by 
them, in the direct and personal way that breaks 
down reserve, and causes at once the springs of 
his social nature to act. The saloon is the most 
democratic of institutions. It appeals at once 
to the common humanity of a man. There is 
nothing to repel. No questions are asked. 
EespectabUity is not a countersign. The doors 
swing open before any man who chooses to enter. 
Once within he finds the atmosphere one in 
which he can allow his social nature freely to 
expand. The welcome from the keeper is a 
personal one. The environment is congenial. 

* Article in Wettmitutet Gaseiief May 2S, 1901, quoted 
by R. & S. '' British Gothenburg," p. 107. Official stete- 
ments of the Association are less explicit. 


It may be that the appeal is to what is base in 
him . . . The place may be attractive just 
because it is so little elevatmg. Man is taken 
as he is and is (riven what he wants, be that 
demaoid good or Etd." * ^ 

The account of the Chicago saloons, given by 
the Committee of Fifty in their "Economic 
Aspects of the Liquor rroblem " (p. 210), is to 
the same effect, and should be carefully con- 
sidered by reformers of the Puritan school. 

The freedom, democracy, inde^dence of the 
pubHc-house, are the qualities which can scarcely 
be replaced by any other substitute. Boys and 
youths, and even women, will stand a good 
amount of patronage, and for them the clubs, 
and classes, and institutes of Toynbee Hall, the 
People's Palace, and the thousand philanthropic 
and religious organisations of our towns and 
villages are admirable. But the average adult 
man wants no charity or coddling by superior 
persons ; and his independence is to his credit. 
He resents quite properly the feeling that other 
people, especially other classes, wish to take 
him in hand and unprove him. 

This is why counter attractions will not cover 
the field in England. They will cater for the 
patronisable portions of the community, but it 
will be extremely difficult to make them accept- 
able to the adult, secular man. 

Substitutes for the saloon and counter attrac- 
tions will never make much impression on the 

♦ P. S. 



habits of the people, if they are artificial in 
character — ^that is, if they are not only created, 
but require to be sustained by continuous con- 
scious altruistic effort. Let cheap municipal 
restaurants be started, like those in Eussia, but 
the test of their success will be the vulgar one : 
do they pay ? If they are so organised that 
the public regard them as a legitimate municipal 
enterprise fof the supply of a public want. tlJey 
will do well, and attract the class for whom 
they are chiefly designed; but if they are 
known to be subsidised counter attractions we 
believe they will fail to do their intended work. 

The demand of the consumer must be tbe test. 
It is futile in the long run to provide what 
no large number of people feel the want of. 

Now there is no doubt at all that an enormous 
class wants, and for long must continue to want, 
what the public-house provides, and this want 
the municipality alone can properly meet. 

The municipal public-house in some towns, 
at any rate, must oe both a drink-shop and a 
club. The counter attraction must be on the 
spot. The rich man in his club can play billiards, 
or cards, or chess, and can read his newspaper 
and magazine, with no restriction as to the sort 
of liquor to be served him. The artisan in his 
club can do the same. If the public club-house 
has beer in the bar, but only lemonade in the 
reading-room and at the billiard-table, the youth 
who wants to be thought manly will stick to 
the bar and to fhe drmk, and the older men 


who want beer will stay there too. The bar 
will be the club, and the rest of the premises 
will be regarded as the nursery. 

The average man wants beer, society, a good 
deal of amusement, and sometimes a little in- 
struction. These are the elements, with the 
occasional addition of politics, which make up 
the working-men's club of to-day. A public 
authority can deliberately discourage the beer 
and promote lemonade ; it can arrange for the 
society, improve the amusements, especially the 
music, and render the instruction, books, news- 
papers, lectures, and so on, as attractive as 

This combination, organised as part of a public 
undertaking, not ostenfibly pm Jed by su^or 
persons for the benefit of inferiors, will meet an 
inexhaustible public demand. In the hands of 
the licensed victuallers it is directed towards 
promoting the trade. Those who seek society 
feel bound to drink for the good of the house, 
as payment for their entertainment. A public- 
house provided by a public body would be a 
pubUc club ; its frequenters would drink if they 
wanted to, and abstain if they preferred, just as 
a man does in his own club. 

Many reformers, and some systems, make 
much of the provision of food and of non-alcoholic 
drinks in addition to the ordinary beer and 

This should be done, but we fear it will not 
amount to much. In English towns the public- 

.-J — . 


house is the place for drinking; Lockharts, 
A.B.C., Lyons, and innumerable coffee-houses 
of all sorts and kinds supply most of the demand 
for meals. Mineral waters are regularly sold 
in public-houses, and the profit on them* is 

greater than that on intoxicants; so the pub- 
cans already have every inducement to sell 
them. The attempts made in various public- 
houses managed by philanthropists to sell food 
have had very little success, t lu the saloons of 
American cities free lunches are a feature, and 
it is possible that the habit of eating in public- 
houses might be fostered here. But what would 
be the good of it ? The English workman does 
not go to a public-house, or to his club, for his 
meals, and why reformers should attempt to 
ween him from his domestic habits is not 

It is satisfactory to find that Mr. Charles 
Booth, most learned and most cautious of social 
investigators, sums up his views of the public- 
house problem decisively in favour of the policy 
we are advocating. " Some," he says, " and I 
count myself amongst the number, would make 
it their first object to improve the character 
of the places where alcohol is sold. • . . An 

* Charles Booth. Contemporary Review^ Sept. 1899* 
t Charles Booth. CotUemporary article, and accounts 
of the Kelty Public House Society given in '^ Among 
the Fife Miners'' by K. Durland (Sonnenschein, 1904)^ 
p. 170. A notable exception is the Waterman's Arms^ 
Southwark^ which^ however^ is as yet only a few weeks 


increase in the number of places in which under 
unproved conditions drink is supplied, or in the 
number of drinkers, or even in the total quantity 
of alcohol consumed, they would disregard or 
even welcome, if accompanied by self-control 
and good sense." And he concludes this 
department of his seventeen years' survey of 
London with this passage : 

" The ideal which I suggest that we should 
set before ourselves, and which it should be the 
object of this authority [a suggested London 
County Coimcil Committee for controlling the 
policy of licensing] to realise, would be so to 
improve the conditions under which alcoholic 
drinks are supplied to all classes of the com- 
munity that the standard of propriety in these 
public places should not only be set as high as 
possible, but should everywhere at least equal, 
and in poorer neighbourhoods rise above, that 
ordinarily obtaining in the homes. Eespecta- 
bility must rule." * 

Such then in brief is the municipal public- 
house we advocate, and we hope that it will be 
given a fair trial. Although the puritanical 
ideas of the temperance reformers have a great 
hold on the sfovemins: classes and their method, 
perpendical^ drinking, m greater or less degree! 
IS, with a few exceptions, the only one wbich 
has been adopted in publicly-managed drink- 
shops, and, in sphit, by English magistrates and 
American law-makers, intent on minimising the 

* '* Life and Labour," vol. xvii. p. 111. 



evils of the trade^ yet we feel confident that the 
other plan follows more closely the general lines 
of social progress. 

The only permanent remedy for alcoholic 
excess is improvement in education, in intelli- 
;encey in refinement, and in social hahits. 
^ublic drunkenness has ceased in good society, 
where it was universal a century ago. It is 
unusual amongst the middle classes, and the 
artisans are rapidly following their example. 
If we could reform the ethics of the public- 
house half the battle would be won. This, 
after all, is merely a grander way of stating the 
bald sentiment of Mr. Charles Booth, " Eespect- 
ability must rule." 

Thlk rule a municipality alone can inaugurate. 
We want real public control of our public- 
houses, to the end that they may be wholly 
ordered for the good of the public. ^ 


It may be asked how municipalisation will 
promote temperance; what evidence is there 
that it will materially reduce the excessive 
expenditure on intoxicants ? 

Let us consider what promotes excessive ex- 
penditure The chief causes are : 

(1) Eoccessive supply of liquor. — Examples 
of this are Scandinavia imder home distilleries 
when consumption was reckoned at 46 litres per 
head of spirits in 1829 against 8*7 in 1901 ; 


Switzerland before the Government monopoly; 
England under the Beer Act of 1830; France 
and Belgium to-day. 

(2) Abundant illicit supply of had spirits^ as 
in London under the "virtual prohibition " of the 
Gin Act of 1736, when there was, in 1742, one 
illicit drinknghop for every forty-seven persons ; 
and the towns in American Prohibition States 
at the present time. 

(3) National prosperity. — ^The Excise returns 
and the criminal statistics clearly prove that 
every period marked by a general rise in wages 
is followed by an increased consumption of 
intoxicants. This, of course, is no argument 
for low wages. It merely shows that as lonj 
as the mass of the people is not educated enougL 
to appreciate better forms of enjoyment, they 
tend to expend a part of their increase of wages 
in drink. 

(4) Increase of urban population^ especially 
in crowded slum districts, though such areas 
are not perhaps actually growing. The proof 
of this, especially in regard to beer, has already 
been given. 

(5) Cheapness. — A low Excise duty always 
means a relatively larger consumption. The 
moderate use of spirits in England may be 
largely attributed to the heavy duty, which is 
double that of the United States,* seven times 

^This refers to the Federal Excise only. The States 
have imposts called Excise, but they are of the nature of 
licences. The States tax the seller but not the liquor. 



that of Germany, and twenty-three times that 
of Denmark.* Other examples are: England in 
1743, when the Excise on spirits was reduced 
from £1 to Id. a gallon^ and Bussia between 
1863 and 1894. 

What, on the other hand, decreases con- 
sumption ? 

iS Bad trade and consequent low wages. 
2) Carefiil regulation of supply. 

[3) Increase of Excise duties, and so of 

The last of these is the surest ; there is one 
man in England who could instantly reduce 
the consumption of spirits, and perhaps of 
beer, by, so to speak, a stroke of the pen, and 
that man is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

Otherwise the general position is that ex- 
cessive consumption is promoted or permitted 
by too severe or by too lax restrictions : that 
it tends to increase as a nation becomes 
more densely populated : and, on the other 
hand, the growth of refinement and education 
tends to modify the rate of increase and 
to remove its worst features. In other 
respects legislation has but little effect on 

The table of the consumption of spirits and 
beer in Sweden, given by Rowntree and Sher- 
well, illustrates this admirably. 

Sec " Centralised Administration of Liquor Laws," 
Chapter L 

♦ R. & S. " Public Control/' p. 62, &c. 


per head. 

Under free trade, 1829 . . . .42 
Licence in towns, and prohibition in country 

districts, 1861-5 10-6 

Company system, sudden reduction of 

licences, 18ti6-70 8 8 

Good trade culminating in 1874 • . 13*5 

Bad times to 1878 105 

Worst harvest of century, 1879 ... 8*8 
Since then fluctuations downwards to 6*2 in 

1889, and ending in 1898 at ... 8*0 

Meanwhile, owing to free trade and increasing 
density of population the figures for beer have 
risen from 11-1 litres in 1861-65 to 377 in 1902. 

In view of these considerations no startling 
eflfect must be anticipated from municipal 
management. If it comes into operation 
during a period of declining wages, statistical 
town clerks wiU proudly pomt out^ its success. 
But if its adoption coincides with a boom 
in trade its apparent failure to reduce con- 
sumption may be confidently predicted, and 
its Prohibitionist opponents will " prove " that 
it is doing harm instead of good. 

We have shown elsewhere that our national 
rate of consumption of alcohol is moderate 
in comparison with Scandinavia before the 
Gothenburg system, or even Belgium, Denmark, 
and other prosperous and progressive countries 
to-day. That our people spend far too much on 
drink may be freely admitted, and we hope that 
a considerable reauction in this expenditure 


will ultimately come about. But it can hardly 
be anything else than gradual. 

A drastic cancellation of superfluous licences 
in our " East-End '* districts would, we believe, 
materiaUv improve our slums, and might have 
a noticeable effect on our statistics of drunken- 
ness. Liverpool has shown what can be done 
by wise methods of reform, and yet, as Rowntree 
and Sherwell point out,* the reduction in the 
consumption of liquor in Liverpool is inappre- 
ciable. The slum population is but a small, 
though fatally important, fraction of the whole. 
Anything which helps to remove such social 
sores will improve the health of the whole body 
politic. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
need not fear the sobering of the slums. It 
will have no appreciable effect on the Excise 
revenue or on the per capita consumption of 
alcohol. The pubhc-house may take 50 per 
cent, of the income of the very poor, but the 
total of those incomes is insignificant in com- 
parison with the rest. 

We are anxious to make good every possible 
claim for Municipalisation, but we cannot 
honestly argue that it will quickly reduce oiu* 
national drmk bill. 


There is another argument for Municipalisa- 
tion which we put forward with some hesitation, 

♦ " Public Control/* p. 208. 


because, as already mentioned, we have no 
personal acquaintance with the subject. Official 
evidence is conclusive that neither beer nor 
spirits are commonly adulterated with anything 
except sugar and water. But beer may be 
made of inferior materials or of chemical " sub- 
stitutes," which are alleged to yield a less 
wholesome liquor. Spirits are universally be- 
lieved to be less intoxicating and dangerous to 
health when they are properly matured. Age 
is necessarily an element in prfce. Cheap spi^t, 
newly manufactured from potatoes and other 
despised materials, is said to be bad from all 
points of view. The univereal testimony from 
countries that have adopted State management 
is that the quality of the liquor has been 
improved, and such bodies as the People's 
Befreshment House Association deliberately 
renounce possible profits by declining to buy 
a cheap article. 

Co- operative societies, clubs, philanthropic 
companies and the State are the only organisa- 
tions which can protect the consumer from this 
insidious danger. So long as the profit goes to 
the seller of liquor, nothing can protect us ^ 
from cheap spirit, unless, indeed, the State 
forbids its production and sale altogether. 

It is certain that a municipality undertaking 
the supply of beer and spirits would be com- 
pelled, by an electorate constantly critical, to 
supply nothing but the best. 

All those, therefore, and they are many, who 



attribute much of the drunkenness, especially 
of the Scotch, to the use of bad spirits, should 
come forward to support any form of municipal 
management of the trade. 


The decisive argument for the Municipalisa- 
^ tion of the Drink Trade is the financial one. 

The monstrosity of the present method of 

fiving away licences for practically nothing has 
een demonstrated by the Boyal Commission 
and must be obvious to everybody. Even the 
most doctrinaire of economists now admit that 
^ local monopolies ought to be administered by 
the local authority in the interests of locality. 
Every well-regulated town now owns its water- 
•^ worlds, its tramways, its electric light, its gas- 
works. When it is so ill-advised as to grant 
the " franchise " to a company, at any rate it 
^ obtains a rent, which secures the cream of the 
profits for public use. 

Drink-retailing is a monopoly as strict and 
as exclusive as water or gas. It is a local 
monopoly too, for the business must be carried 
on in the locality. Municipalities already supply 
two sorts of drinkables, milk and water — why 
should they not be permitted to supply also 
wine and beer ? 
^ The chief demand of the age is for increased 
municipal resources. New duties, educational, 
recreational, sanitary, medical, are constantly 


being thrust on the local authority; and its 
chief milch-cow, the unhappy ratepayer, is in a 
chronic state of protest, wmch in the bottom 
of his heart he knows to be hopeless. Hie 
Times tried to voice the ratepayer's grievances, 
but it gave him no comfort because its specialist 
got into his head that Municipal Trading was 
the root of the evil, whereas every burgess of 
an up-to-date borough knows perfectly well that 
the profits of his municipal gas and water- works 
and tramways are the sole alleviations of his lot, 
since they yield cash in aid of the rates, whilst 
his schools, and his drains and his parks, valu- 
able as they are, have to be paid for out of his 

The obUgations of the ratepayers must in- 
evitably and steadily increase, and the only 
remedy is the municipalisation of all profitable 
monopolies, amongst which the Drink Trade 
stands easily first. 

It is true that we do not propose that its 
profits should be applied to the relief of the 
rates. But what that patient ass, the rate- 
payer, has once borne, he will continue to bear 
without much grumbling. It is a rise in the 
rates that excites him to the letter-to-the- 
papers state of indignation. And it is just these 
new undertakings, concerts like those of Batter- 
sea, bands, such as those in the London County 
Council Parks, pianos in schools, on which a 
London School Board election was once fought, 
housing schemes, like that recently thrown out at 


West Ham — all new departures in the direction 
of making the life of the people happier, soberer, 
decenter, and healthier — which cost an alarming 
lot of public money, although everybody wants 
them, even the ratepayer himself, if only they 
could be got without a rise in the rates. 
It was the fear of a possible farthing rate 
that induced Parliament to refuse to London 
its County Council steamboats, Li every great 
town there are open spaces which would be 
bought for parks, if dread of rate-raising were 

Now most of these things are what Rowntree 
and Sherwell call counter-attractions to the 
public - house. Those which do not strictly 
come under this head, such as housing and 
education, are quite as important remedies for 
the causes of orunkenness. Anyway they are 
good things which we all agree in desiring: 

At present the profits of the trade go to the 
traders, who flourish exceedingly, and naturally 
invest their gains in further promoting their 
business. The profits indeed are so plentiful 
that sometimes they overdo this process, and pay 
too high prices for the properties they purchase. 
Hence the misfortunes of Allsopps, and other 
occasional disasters. 

It is significant that the gentleman who 
voices most strenuously the fear that the muni- 
cipalities may promote drinking in order to 
relieve their rates is Mr. John Walker, the 
advocate for the trade ! He shrewdly suspects 


the value of the argument we have been using ! 
He knows that the certainty of big profits is 
the one thing most likely to Wuce 1 Lsiness- 
like town council to undertake so great a 
venture as the municipalisation of its public- 

We have no fear of the collective cupidity 
of our municipalities in this matter. They run 
their trams for the benefit of the citizens in the 
first place, and profit is a secondary considera- 
tion. "^ A municipaUty when it takes over the 
tramways reduces fares, improves the cars, 
gives the employ^ better wages, and often 
Ipends enormous sums in inti^ucing electric 
traction. These reforms are imdertaken for 
the public benefit, and the public appreciation 
of them generally jields splendid cash returns. 

On the same principle we are convinced that 
municipalities will improve their public-houses. 
This may, perhaps, result in big profits, so long 
as municipal public-houses compete with private 
owners. It is desirable on every account that 
drink should be good in quality and sold in 
decent surroundings : if the citizens prefer 
their own public-houses to private ones, so 
much the better. When it comes to a monopoly 
the case is altered. But we are prepared to 
trust the representatives of the people in this 
matter. No pubUc or quasi-public body can be 
named that nowadays deliberately promotes 
excess in drink. Co-operative societies, demo- 
cratic profit-making concerns, do not deal in 


drink at alL Trade unions, which once always 
met in puhUc-houses, are steadily abandoning 
the practice. Public opinion is in favour of 
Temperance, and public opinion is the ruling 
force in public bodies. Local Vetoists, expecting 
substantial results from a measure which could 
only operate at all where the temperance vote 
was in a majority, must believe that it is 
powerful throughout the land. Surely they 
cannot argue with consistency that this in- 
fluential, if not preponderant, section of the 
electorate, with the support of all intelligent 
people of whatever shade of opinion, would be 
unable to prevent municipal councils from the 
suicidal madness of promoting excessive drinking 
for the sake of municipal profits ! 

Possibly there might be some danger if very 
small and poor authorities were permitted to 
run their own public-houses. A parish council 
often spends £5 or £10 a year, and sometimes 
much less. To such a body the parish inn 
would be a gold mine. Indeed, it might be 
said that the £400 or £500 a year which the 
Hill of Beath yields in net profits is so enor- 
mous an income that no parish council would 
want to increase it. The Swedish towns alleged 
to be guilty of the heinous offence of " carrying 
on the locaJ drink trade more or less for profit " 
— it is not pretended that they did more than 
this — are described as " small places," smaller 
no doubt than many an English parish.* We 

* R. & S. '* Temperance Reform," p. 468. 



do not insist on parish council public-houses, but 
every larger local authority we would frankly 
and freely trust. 


The advocates of Municipalisation claim as 
one of its foremost merits that it would destroy 
the political power of the Liquor Trade. This 
does not consist in the long purses of the 
brewing magnates, or on their centralised trade 
committees; such features are common to all 
large trades : coal and iron and cotton have 
their kings and their rings and associations for 
protecting trade interests^ The poUtical power 
of the Drink Trade lies in the network of 
licensed victuallers, each of whom, with his 
clients, is a ready-made conmiittee for the party 
the Trade prefers. Undoubtedly this local and 
universal organisation gives the Trade excep- 
tional political power, and trade control is 
always a national danger on general grounds, 
quite apart from the particular trade con- 
cerned. The idealism of politics is its saving 
virtue. Labour orators may deride the stupidity 
of the British working man, who is aeeply 
moved by the wrongs of Boer farmers or British 
Uitlanders, who is eager to promote the solid- 
arity of the Empire, or to avert the payment of 
rates bv one sect for the schools of another, 
whilst tor his own immediate interests, the pro- 
tection of his trade union, old-age pensions. 



municipal housing, and the like, he is careless 
or lukewarm. But off the platform, we cannot 
but admire this unselfishness. The British 
workman is not usually recognised as a political 
idealist, but the fact is beyond dispute. The 
Irishman, viewing everything from the stand- 
point of his farm and his religion, is far more 
successful in gaining his own ends ; but it may 
be questioned whether he does not lose his 
political soul in the process. 

British politics have for generations dealt 
with wider issues than those of, perhaps, any 
other land. Hence the electors have been 
educated to a dignity, a breadth of view, a dis- 
regard of personal interests, which is uncommon 
elsewhere. The one sordid element in British 
politics is the publican. He has much excuse : 
his whole livelihood is more or less at stake. 
He is voting for his own hearth and home. 

None the less, this influence is a bad one. It 
is unwholesome : politics will be purer when 
publicans are municipal employes, and parties 
no longer have any direct concern for them. 

There is one difficulty about this matter 
which must be faced. For many years past the 
Liquor interest has voted Tory. Kowntree and 
Sherwell recognising this, make what is in effect 
an appeal to the Liberal Party, by giving elabo- 
rate calculations to show how many seats that 
party may have lost on the assumption that the 
publicans influenced one or two votes a piece at 
the election of 1895. 


But we venture to appeal to a wider public. 
Party interests are the concerns of the smaller 
folk in politics. The statesmen who possess 
the magic power to direct public attention to 
one point or another, who are really leaders of 
the nation, and not mere mouthpieces of a 
faction, look beyond their party interests, and 
are careless of gaining a few more or a few less 
votes. Such men are found in both parties; 
for neither party has the monopoly of bold and 
beneficent legislation. A great measure of 
reform, such as we contemplate, could hardly 
be carried through save by general consent ; 
and we are convinced that the country is rapidly 
ripening for it. The statesman who undertakes 
it wiU not regard the loss or the gain to Us 

garty : his concern will be the national well- 
eing. The leader who appeals to the ideality 
of the British electorate, regardless of his own 
immediate interests, is he who presently 
becomes the leader of the strongest party of 
his day. 

[Note. — The " British elector " must not be 
confused with " The man in the street " ; the 
former is that section of the people which 
habitually attends political meetings, and thus 
represents popular political opinion. " The 
man in the street " is the section which stays at 
home (as the typical Irishman would say), 
which does not vote at all at local elections, 
and at Parliamentary abstains or votes irrespec- 
tive of party. The organisers are always in 


doubt about his opinions, but when he goes 
solid on any question, he decides the &te of 
parties, and the destinies of the nation.] 


We have said that no licensing law can be 
deemed good unless it is not only desired by a 
majority of the people, but is also accepted 
by practicaUy all classes closely concerned 
m it. 

In a democratically governed country where 
ma^trates share the Ipeelings, and j/ries the 

J)rejudices, of the crowd, law can only be en- 
brced when it is in harmony with the sentiments 
of the people as a whole. 

The objection to any plan of Veto is that it 
appears, and will continue to appear, to a large 
section of the community to be unfair, and the 
Liquor interest, whose autonomy will be unim- 
paired, must always resent it. A law which 
affects the different classes so unequally can 
never be permanently acceptable. Moreover 
the current referendums would keep opposition 
alive. The minority who favour licences in any 
district would persistently object to a law which 
interferes with what they consider their free- 
dom. The matter would be kept in perpetual 
agitation, except in those places where the 
m^ority on either side was overwhelming. 

Neither nationally nor locally would the 
question ever be at rest, and a law which kept 


the country in a turmoil could not be regarded 
as satisfactory. 

Municipalisation on the other hand would be 
a permanent settlement. The limits of diver- 
gence in arrangements would be fixed, and 
changes within them would be questions of 
municipal policy of a similar character to those 
already existing. Opinions would diflFer, and 
elections might be lost and won over the exclu- 
sion of barmaids, the provision of concerts on 
licensed premises, and the hundred other 
points of policy. These are matters of degree 
and of detail, and the losers would not feel their 
defeat as would the drinker deprived of his 
public-house, or the ardent Prohibitionist with a 
gin-palace fresh planted at his door. 

Municipal management, once introduced, 
would be accepted by all parties. The drinker 
would feel assured of his drink : the brewer of 
his market : whilst the temperance reformer 
would have a legitimate outlet for his energies 
in trying experiments for minimising ttie evils 
of the Trade, which everybody desires to see 


When two solutions of a problem are possible, 
that which is politically the more practioaUe 
has a marked advantage over the other. 

Now Municipalisation of the Liquor Traffic is 
assuredly more practicable politically than is 



Local Option. The reason is obvious. Munici- 
palisation is a plan for the supply of liquor : 
Veto is a proposal for stopping the supply. The 
Licensed Victuallers, taking the Temperance 
Party at their own estimate, believe they would 
not propose their plan, unless they were confi- 
dent that it would shut up public-houses and 
diminish the consumption of drink. The whole 
of the Liquor interest are, therefore, opposed to 
Local Option, and they are supported, for various 
reasons, by the "man in the street," who, as we 
have already explained, ultimately rules the 

The chances of a party fight once gave Local 
Veto a majority in the House of Commons, 
and might conceivably do so again. But the 
House of Lords would assuredly treat the Bill 
as they treated Home Rule, and we are con- 
vinced that the electorate would justify them in 
this case also. 

Municipalisation on the other hand can excite 
no such determined opposition. 

The Brewer and Distiller are more willing to 

^ sell their wares to a Municipality, with gilt-edged 

credit, than to the fallible publican. As owners 

of tied houses they know quite well that the 

present regime is doomed, and they will be 

^ satisfied, actually, though not professedly, with 

J a compromise plan of compensation. They 

will fight for the present system, of course, but 

they will accept defeat with good grace. 

Those Licensed Victuallers who are managers 



already, and they are many, will be as willing 
to manage for a Public Council as for a private 
company. The others, at any rate, will not so 
bitterly oppose this plan as any alternative to 
it. They, too, must recognise that something 
is going to be done, and this something is the 
least objectionable to them. 

The " man in the street " will not seriously 
trouble himself. There is no question of taking 
away his beer ; or, if he be not keen on beer 
himself, of taking it away " unfairly " from -i^ 
other people. He will not object to having a 
voice in the management of nis public-house, 
and in the quality of the liquor suppUed, matters 
on which he probably has vehement and irra- 
tional opinions. He will, moreover, like the 
idea of getting some of the profits for public \ 
purposes. But mostly he will not care^ one way 
or the other. The idea is too complicated for 
his simple brains ; the word municipalisation ^ 
has too many syllables to be intelligible to him. 
He may, indeed, get into his head that it is a 
plan for the provision of free beer out of the 
rates, at the expense of the landlord, and of 
the teetotaler too. A skilfully-worded election 
leaflet, which, subtly, without any actual mis- 
statement, conveyed this idea, might make the 
fortune of the political party adopting it. 

Any way, the " man in the street " will not rise 
in his might to smash Municipalisation. If it 
influences his vote at all, it will be^br the party 
which adopts it. 


As for the superior people, who are second 
only in importance to the " man in the street/' 
their view is shown by the Public-house Trust 
Association. Lords-lieutenant, bishops, trade 
union leaders, generals, admirals, bankers, and 
all the nobility and gentry, man the directorates 
and boards of trustees of these companies. 
They have agreed already to the principle and 
must approve its more extensive application. 



Municipal Option — Municipal Monopoly and Com- 
petition — What Municipal Success is — Pooling 
the Profits — Counter Attractions — No Local Veto 
or Free Trade — Compensations-Municipal Cor- 


For centuries England has lived under a cast- 
iron licensing system, whicli has been regulated 
by statute, from one end of the land to the 
other. The justices have been allowed but 
little discretion, and such powers of control as 
they possessed they have scai'cely used,* The 
time has come for a complete change. We 
want all sorts of local experiments, and our 
municipal bodies should be empowered to try 
them . Compulsory Municipalisation is of cotirse 
impossible. Each Town and District Council 
must decide for itself, and it should be allowed 

* For particulars of the wider exercise of powers by the 
justices a century ago, see Webb, '^ History of Liquor 
Licensing," cap. iU. 



the widest choice. Let us have experiments 
in municipal monopoly, municipal competition, 
high licence, farming out of licences (a bad 
plan, though possible under stringent regula- 
tion), sale by auction. Public-house Trust Com- 
pany, Norwegian Company (that is, a separate 
company largely controlled by the council), and 
the present system. 

The drafting of a Bill to permit so wide a 
variety of systems would be a difficult task, 
and it must be entrusted to a Minister with a 
strong will and an iron constitution. 

But the wider the discretion left to the local 
authority, the simpler will be the Act. Some 
twenty-seven words are all that the Transvaal 
Government found necessaiy to authorise muni- 
cipalisation of liquor retailing, except in respect 
of the referendum they enact for its adoption. 


A moot point in the matter of Municipalisa- 
tion is the question of monopoly. Must the 
local authority take possession of all licences 
at once, or shall it take them over one at a time, 
as choice or chance determines, make experi- 
ments with such as fall into its hands, and so 
go forward gradually ? 

Foreign precedents do not help us much. 
North Cai-olina has a State monopoly managed 
by State officials ; Russia has the same, but for 
spirits only. Scandinavia is often quoted as an 


example of the benefits of monopoly. But the 
monopoly is a partial one. Beer, as is well 
known, is not included ; only 60 per cent, of the 
spirits used in Sweden are sold by the Bolags, 
and out of 1018 licensed premises in that country 
in the year 1901, 155 were either old privileged 
licences or licences sold by auction.* 

Rowntree and Sherwell insist strongly on a 
complete monopoly, and they can claim the 
support of an acknowledged expert in Muni- 

Mr. Sidney Webb, in a debate with the 
present writer before the Fabian Society, argued 
that monopoly is a necessaiy condition for the 
Municipal Drink Traffic, because the criterion 
of success in trade is a big business ; the private 
public-houses would continue to push sales, 
whilst the most successful municipal public- 
house would be that which sold least. He 
said that Gresham's Law of Currency, that bad 
coins drive out good, applies to public-houses ; 
the disorderly and lax establishment drives out 
of business those houses which are reputably 
conducted. Rowntree and Sherwell quote this 
with approvaljt but is it true ? If so, public- 
houses must be becoming more disorderly ; the 
low beer-shop will yield the best profits. The 
high class "gin palace" must be a decaying 

* Private letter from E. Andr6 oi the Gothenburg 
Bolag, July 1903. 

t " British Gothenburg Experiments/' p. 133. 




In &ct, the oontrary is the casa Hie smaQw 
public-houses are being replaced by huge gin 
palaces. * Mr. Arthur Shadwell t brings weighty 
evidence to show how much more respectable 
and orderly public-houses have become. ^A 
large number of the worst class of beer-houses 
have been abolished '* ; " the improved character 
of licensed houses generally was everywhere 
recognised." This was the opinion of the Com- 
mittee of 1876. Twenty years later drunken- 
ness is found by the Boyal Commission to be 
decreasing, and public-houses are reported to 
be genersJly well conducted. 

On paper, the new Gresham's Law looks well. 
But it implies a pessimistic view, wholly foreign 
to its author's mind ; and no facts, so far as we 
know, have ever been adduced in support of it. 

If it be replied that it is the Licensing 
Authority and the police who repress the bad 
public- houses and so succeed in reversing the 
new Gresham's Law, the answer is that nobody 
proposes to abolish either the police or the 
Licensing Authority. What we advocate is 
precisely a means whereby the repression of 
disorder and drunkenness may be more easily 
and perfectly carried out. 

This supposed law is surely a deduction 
unfortifie/d by evidence. Until some statistics 
proving the decay of good houses be produced, 
we shjul continue to believe the evidence of the 

* R. & S., " Temperance Problem," p. 80. 
t " Drink," p. 43, &c. 


Blue Books, to the effect that the good public- 
houses tend to drive out the bad ones. 

It is, of course, incontestable that a municipal 
monopoly is preferable to competition, if only on 
the oWous principle that anybody can rule by 
martial law, but it needs an able man to govern 
a free country. A monopoly protected by law 
is clearly the easiest possible form of business 
to conduct, and if the commodity concerned be 
in wide demand, anybody can make it profitable. 
Therefore it was that the Stuart Kings granted 
monopoUes to courtiers, who were presumably 
incapable of earning an income otherwise. 
James I., for example, granted Sir Giles 
Montressor a monopoly of liquor licences in 
Bath, and he insisted on opening twenty ale- 
houses, when the sober inhabitants desired but 
two. We are all for municipal monopoly, as 
soon as it can be got. But how are we going 
to get it? Birmingham has 1620 on licences, 
Manchester 2222, Sheffield 1159, and so on. 
These big towns are the places where Muni- 
cipalisation is most urgently wanted. Is nothing 
to be done till ParKament consents to allow 
them to take over at one stroke of the pen the 
whole of the licensed premises in the area? 
Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, also no mean authority 
on municipal affairs, especially in 1877, proposed 
to spend ten yeaiB over his Birmingham purchase 
scheme. He would have had Municipal Public- 
Houses competing with privately-owned licences 
during this period. The Birmingham Corpora- 


tion approved the idea by 46 to 10, and the 
House of Lords Committee on Intemperance 
recommended it to Parliament because the plan, 
if a success, would benefit the whole country, 
and if a failure, would only injure Birmingham. 

A later precedent is that of the Public-House 
Trust Companies, which have already acquired 
licences in such centres as Glasgow, Sheffield, 
Newcastle, Preston, and Warrington, besides 
others in industrial districts where, no doubt, 
there is plenty of competition. The People's 
Refreshment House Association too has opened 
a public house in Southwark. These companies 
propose to manage their houses exactly as a 
municipality would manage them, and they are 
no doubt confident that they will obtain the 
moral and financial results which are their 

If a complete monopoly is to be made a sine- 
qua-non for municipal management, we must 
regard the proposal as scarcely less illusory than 
is Local Veto. Our County Boroughs would 
not have the courage to undertake so great a 
business as the management without experience 
of the whole of their retail liquor trade. 

Moreover, Parliament itself will be loth to 
permit an inexperiencd body to try an experi- 
ment on so large a scale. Sweden and Norway 
have done it, no doubt : but with few exceptions 
their towns are very small, and the chief of those 
exceptions — Gothenburg (130,702), Stockholm 
(274,611), and Christiania (203,000) — were 


scarce half the size when the system was started, 
twenty to forty years ago. 

London County Councillors know how un- 
willing Parliament has been to permit the 
buying out at full value of the London Water 
Works, and how slowly the Council itself made 
up its collective mind to municipal tramways. 
Yet these are ancient and well-established 
municipal appurtenances, and private owner- 
ship is almost an exception to a general rule. 

The catastrophic method of reform is not 
consonant with modern ideas. Those who per- 
sist in claiming the whole loaf, all at once, have 
to wait a long time for their bread, if they ever 
get it at all. 

The practical plan is for Parliament to 
empower local authorities to own and manage 
licensed premises. Then Town Councils must 
try their hands at the business. If they make 
a success of it, they will be encouraged to ex- 
tend their operations, and presently to apply for 
compulsory power of acquirement, which must 
sooner or later be provided, with a view to a 
complete monopoly. 


But here arises another objection. When is 
a municipal public-house successful ? It is said 
that success in municipal business is measured 
by the magnitude of the demand for the service 
supplied, whilst municipal public-houses, in 


competition with private ones, will be suc- 
cessful in proportion as their sales are smalL 

If it be merely meant that the success of a 
municipal tramway is more easily and con- 
clusively shown in figures than that of a 
municipal public-house would be, the argu- 
ment may be ad mitted. But plenty of municipal 
undertakings are not at present judged by any 
financial standard. The criterion of success for 
sanitary and scavenging work is decency, clean- 
liness, and order in the streets, and immunity 
from disease. Is it impossible to measure the 
success of a municipal public-house by the same 

Moreover, mere reduction of sales is not 
the one thing needful for a municipal public- 
house in competition with others. We have 
shown elsewhere that no rapid reduction of 
average consumption can be anticipated from 
any sort of legislation whatsoever. The experi- 
mental municipal public-house must aim at 
decency and order ; it must supply good liquor ; 
it must offer non-intoxicants freely, and food 
wherever required. It must endeavour to raise 
the standard of public-house life. 

We are confident, from the evidence of Scotch 
experiments, and in view of the general im- 
provement in manners and morals which is 
assuredly taking place, that the new Gresham's 
Law will be actually reversed ; the comfortable, 
decent public-house will thrive commercially, 
and the public authority which owns it will 


be encouraged to go on and provide more. It 
will thrive, not because it increases the con- » 
sumption of drink, but because it attracts 
customers from other inferior houses. 

In any case, there is no risk of loss. The .4 
public-house trade is a business so profitable 
that failure is impossible with even moderate 
commercial capacity. The somewhat unsavoury 
character of tne occupation makes it the resort 
of persons unfitted for posts where training, 
knowledge, or high character is required. 
Superannuated butlers, and men who have 
saved a small capital in some sporting or bet- 
ting, or other miscellaneous occupation, from 
which age or other circumstances have obliged 
them to retire, form a sensible proportion of 
the publican class. Such men are likely to be 
exceptionally incompetent as business managers, 
and their occasional appearances in the bank- 
ruptcy court are easily explicable. Moreover, it 
must be recollected that licensed premises fetch 
in the market extremely high prices, which were 
recently inflated much beyond their proper level, 
and very great returns are necessary to yield a 
fair interest on such outlay. Further, the con- 
ditions made by capitalist brewers and distillers * 
in their loans to publicans are often onerous. 

Failures of private licensees are therefore not 
infrequent, but there is no reason to suppose 
that a municipal public-house, even with a « 
relatively small trade, would not yield the low 
rate of interest on capital which is all that 


a municipality actually requires. Experiments 
could best be tried in industrial suburbs, espe- 
cially those established by local authorities them- 
selves under the Housing of the Working 
Classes Acts. Here would be a local monopoly 
at any rate, and the other conditions would be 
in every way favourable. 

A municipal monopoly is undoubtedly the 
ideal. Under a monopoly alone can experi- 
ments in reduction of hours, and reforms in 
many other directions, be fully and effectively 
carried out. But let us be content to begin in 
a smaU way, even in the matter of reforms. If 
a municipality has not the intelligence and 
capacity to run half a dozen public-houses suc- 
cessfully in competition with private owners, we 
confess we should question their ability to 
manage the supply of liquor to their constitu- 
ents m a manner which would give satisfaction 
both to the drinkers and to the Temperance 


We must return to the question of the spend- 
ing of the profits. It would seem to be obvious 
that the body which has the trouble of organising 
the Trade should reap the reward of its efforts. 
Spending money is always pleasant work, espe- 
cially when it belongs to other people. The 
municipal labourer wno gets no hire is worthy 
of his reward. 

Rowntree and Sherwell say, No. Their trust 


in the people, as represented by their Town 
Councils, is tempered with prudence which seems 
to us excessive. They therefore propose that all 
profits should be paia into the National Exche- 
quer, and a part doled out again, in propor- 
tion to population, to those districts which 
municipalise their licences or veto them alto- 

This complicated plan is defended on two 
grounds. It would make Veto as pecuniarily 
advantageous to a locality as Municipalisation. ^ 
That argument does not touch a plan which bars 
Veto altogether. 

The other reason is the fear that Councils 
will promote drinking, or at any rate abstain 
from discouraging it, in order to make profits ^ 
and, perhaps, to use them for the relief of rates. 
This point we have already dealt with, and we 
need not repeat our argument here. 

The administrative difficulties of any such 
pooling system its authors do not touch on. 
Probably they have overlooked the fact that 
every British tax-payer would have a direct 
interest in the profits of the Trade in each munici- 
palising district, because, if the profits were 
Eooled, he would be entitled to a share in the 
enefits of the pool. Therefore any town could 
not be allowed to waste its profits in reckless 
salaries, or expensive offices, or even in the 

Purchase of liquor of an extra good quality, 
'he Local Government Board, representing the 
collective tax-payers and beneficiaries, would 


have to sanction all substantial outlays, to fix 
salaries, to supervise contracts, and generally to 
interfere in every detail, far more minutely than 
it now does in Poor Law matters, because, after 
all, the Guardians spend rates paid by those 
who elect them ; but the municipal drink profits 
would belong to the nation, part being held in 
trust for localities qualified for a share. 

Such government control would altogether 
destroy that flexibility which commends muni- 
cipal management both toEowntree and Sherwell 
and to ourselves. Experiments would be im- 
possible without the unwinding of furlongs of 
red-tape. Slowly but surely one imiform stereo- 
typed method would be enforced throughout 
the land. 

The Guardians were bom and bred in this 
bondage ; they have never known, at least since 
1834, the joys of fireedom. But we are con- 
fident that Town Councils would not stand the 
inevitable interference on any consideration 
whatsoever. On such terms they would decline 
to municipalise at all. 

The strongest reason against this pooling 
system is that the incentive of profits is neces- 
sary to induce Councils to undertake the great 
labour and responsibility of organising the 
traffic. Councils, like individual, are often 
lazy, and more often still are afraid of difficult 
or unpopular tasks. The proposal to diminish 
to one-third the financial benefits of the scheme 
to each Council is likely to diminish to much 


less than one-third the number that are willing 
to undertake it. 


Anybody, even the stupidest of Town Coun- 
cillors, can spend money without expert advice, 
and we shall not devote space to detailed schemes, 
especially as the Hill of Beath has set a good 
example with the first of municipal drink profits 
ever earned in Great Britain. 

Rowntree and Sherwell give copious calcula- 
tions showing exactly how much each town 
would want properly to counteract the drink 
evil. Bumingham, for example, is to spend 
£11,495, and so on for each of the big cities. 
We are not disposed to think that the Bir- 
mingham Town Council will pay much heed to 
such limitations. In our view each Town 
Council must be left unfettered in the expendi- 
ture of its profits. Let them be earmarked for 
counter attractions. Let the Local Government 
Board send round inspectors to see if the city 
is properly supplied with free concerts and music 
halls, municipal dining rooms for the people, like 
those in Russia, plenty of scholarships or free 
technical schools, and a free university. Water 
might be supplied free of charge to the citizens, 
if they chose, though, perhaps, that could hardly 
be considered a counter attraction. Every town 
requires municipal housing for wage-earners, 
planned with more lavishness than the Local 



Government Board and the need for low rents, 
which yet must cover cost, have hitherto 

There is great virtue in reports. Let each 
Council be required to send to the Local 
Government Board an annual report showing 
how it has disposed of its drink profits. Let 
the Local Government Board be required to 
write a commentary, and to transmit it to the 
Council and to the local Press. It ought to be 
first-rate copy, and would be published in ftill. 
Then it would only need an mtelligent official 
with some initiative and a fair literary style to 
make things lively in every city in the land. 
The German Emperor, for example, with his 
vivid interest in all departments of life, and in 
all forms of art, would be the ideal man for 
such a post. 

If it be objected that senior Grovemment 
officials are rarely intelligent, and hardly ever 
possess a decent literary style, the answer is 
that up to now this has been true. The present 
race of senior officials began at the bottom ot 
the ladder in the days before the Civil Service 
was thrown open to public competition. They 
are the last vestiges of the nominee system. 
Their parents or guardians had some pull on 
the authorities, and so they got appointments 
expected to yield fair incomes for life at a low 
cost in brain power. But in a few years this 
race will be extinct. The new generation, now 
men of forty-five to fifty, are just beginning to 


reach the higher posts, and there is every 
reason to hope that the era of stupid officialism 
is nearly passed. The men who are now win- 
ning their C.B.s and C.M.G.S belong to the 
new type, and in a short time Downing Street 
and WhitehaU will witness some surprising 


One thing must be made perfectly clear in 
the measure we advocate. It is a scheme for 
the Municipal Supply of Intoxicants, and where- 
ever it is adopted, in place of the present system, 
intoxicants must be supplied. For this there 
are two excellent reasons : — 

The average sensual man, who rules our 
country, will not assent to any proposal which 
might be turned into Local Veto. He has an 
exaggerated fear of the teetotalers, and he is 
well aware that in places of authority (as, for 
example, on the London County Council) they 
are numerous and powerful. The brewers and 
their allies, too, would certainly be hostile to a 
Bill which gave power to Councils to abstain 
from supplying liquor to the public. Such a 
Bill would, in fact, be Local Veto in another 
form. In California and other American States, 
local elections are fought on this issue, and 
where the Veto Party wins, the "Board of 
Trustees" grants no hcences. This would be 
the obvious policy of the teetotalers, if the Bill 


permitted it, and such a possible result would 
be politically fatal to the plan. Any party 
which wants to win a Greneral Election with 
Municipal Liquor Traffic in its programme must 
positively bar Local Veto.* 

In the second place the Veto of licences to 
sell drink legally tends as we have shown to 
promote drinking and drunkenness and inci- 
dentally to create crime and to bring the law 
into contempt. Therefore we are opposed to 
the adoption of Veto in any district whatsoever. 
The minimum number of licences might be made 
very small indeed. If a Town Council thought 
one licence for 5000 people was enough, the plan 
might be tried, though we doubt if it would be 
a success. In this matter we would go back far 
beyond King Edward VI. and for rural districts 

Eermit the adoption of the idea of Ajrchbishop 
>unstan, who, a thousand years ago, suppressea 
all ale-houses except one in each village. 

It must, therefore, be provided in the Bill 
that any local authority acquiring the monopoly 
of licences in its district shall provide a supply 
of liquor sufficient to meet reasonable demands, 
and shall sell it at proper prices. A limit must 
also be put at the other end of the scale. It is 
perhaps incredible that any Council could be 

* The inclusion of the Veto as an alternative will, in our 
opinion^ spoil the political prospects of the National Tem- 
perance Manifesto, issued in the autumn of 19OS, notwith* 
standing the number of influential people who have 
signed it. 


so ignorant and short-sighted^ as to encourage 
drunkenness, povferty, and crime by reducing 
the price of liquor, or opening an excessive 
number of licensed houses. But the chance of 
this evil must be guarded against with equal 

Therefore, a maximum and a minimum of 
licences must be enacted, only to be exceeded 
in quite special localities, if anywhere at all. 
The Local Government Board alone should have 
the power to waive the maximum and minimum 
regulations, for good cause shown. 

It should further be required to frame rules 
in order to keep the prices of liquor at a proper 
level. Practical prohibition might be secured 
by the fixing of prohibitive prices ; excess could 
be encouraged by making them too low. The 
Local Government Board must have both the 
power and the duty to forbid either extreme. 


It is not necessary in the present volume to 
discuss the details of this thorny question. A 
general agreement has been reached that com- 
promise is the inevitable solution. Extreme 
men on one side no doubt profess to maintain 
that the letter of the law makes the licence an 
annual grant, and gives no tangible right to its 
renewal, except, of course, in the case of the 
ante- 1869 beer-houses. The exception, by the 
way, is more important than is often recollected. 



These houses are nearly one-third * of the total 
number of '^on" licensed premises, and are in 
many cases the worst structurally and the least 
necessary in respect of situation. In 1854 they 
were described by a House of Commons Com- 
mittee as ** the habitual haunts of the idle and 
abandoned, of thieves, prostitutes, and adepts 
and learners of crime." Theu- advantage is that 
they do not promote the use of spirits. As to 
the other licensed houses, the extremists take 
their stand on Sharpe v. Wakefield, and claim 
that a hcence granted for a year for a nominal 
siun should be allowed to expire if the grantor 
thinks fit not to renew it, and that the claim 
for compensation is absurd. 

On the other hand, the extreme partisans of 
the licensed victuallers assert that a licence is 
in law and in fact a valuable property, bought 
and sold freely for large sum?, ^n Jhichlhe 
heirs of the owner, at his death, are required to 
pay duty. They point out that local authorities 
which want to take licensed premises for clear- 
ances are required to pay the value of the 
licence, as well as that of the land and buildings 
purchased. On these ^unds thev ask that 
the State should pay fufl value for the property 
proposed to be taken away. Compromise, as 
we have said, is the certain solution of the 
problem. Neither party now anticipates that 
its views will prevail. The strict legal aspect of 
a licence is at most but one of the facts which 

♦ In 1892, 31 per cent 


have to be taken into account. Another is the 
power of the Trade, and the view of the man 
m the street. He considers some compensation 
to be fair, but he would strenuously object to « 
the payment, out of his own pocket at any rate, of 
the fancy prices which licences sometimes fetch. 

It is probable that something more will have 
to be paid than the five or seven years' notice 
which is advocated by the Minority Report of 
the last Royal Commission. Even in South Aus- 
tralia, where, presumably, the licensing system 
is less well established, as it is certainly less 
ancient, than ours, fifteen years' notice was 
given in 1891, and compensation has to be paid 
for cancelled licences up to 1906, but no longer. 
The Russian autocracy had to give twenty 
years' purchase for privileged licences established 
by what is deemed to be law in that lawless land. 

If ten years' purchase of the annual value 
of a licence were taken as a fair average, 
the local authority might be required to pay 
this amount for any licence taken over at once. ) 
Every succeeding year should knock oflf nine 
months* purchase. At the end of ten years the 
local autnority would pay only two and a half 
years' purchase. And after thu*teen and a third 
years in all; no claim for compensation could be 
made. Probably a special Court, on the lines of 
the Irish Land Commissioners, would have to be 
appointed to determine the value of licences. 

Of course, if any general system of high 
licence be adopted, the value of licences will be 


reduced in Droportion to the extent of the new 
charge made. In this connection it must be 
recoUected that whilst the State is debarred by 
general consent from annexing any form of 
private property without compensation, its 
right to levy taxes on anything is equally in- 
contestable. If a licence be admitted within 
the category of private property, the State 
must not confiscate it; but the fee for the 
licence may be altered to whatever figure the 
State thinks fit. 


It is said that public authorities cannot be 
entrusted with the control of the drink trade, 
because of the risk, or the certainty, that they 
and their officials wiU be bribed by the brewers 
and distillers, and there will be constant leak- 
age in the finances of the large transactions 
passing through their hands. 

No doubt there will be some bribery and 
corruption and leakage. That is inevitable. 
There is plenty of it in private trading to-day. 
Secret commissions, travellers' tips, and the like, 
are the subject of Parliamentary debates, and 
exhortations by the Judges of the High Courts. 

But the building trade is more notorious for 
its dishonest devices than the drink trade, and 
all public bodies are constantly spending public 
money in building, either through contractors 
or through their own works departments. The 


coal owners are almost as wealthy as the brewers, 
and Corporations are enormous buyers of coal 
for their gas works and other enterprises. If 
Corporations can deal in coal and building 
materials, and can make contracts with Electric 
Light and Power Companies, and Telephone 
Companies, and Light Eailway Companies, and 
the other monopolist concerns, run on the up- 
to-date American lines, sometimes by Americans 
with their native notions of municipal honour, 
and can conduct the business without serious 
reproach, why should their rectitude vanish 
when they have to deal in beer and spirits? 
This is a business in which the consumers will 
be keen critics, and if municipal beer is not up 
to the mark. Town Councillors will tremble for 
the safety of their seats. 

We grant that there is an element of risk. 
No reform is ever free from every danger. But 
there is no reason to suppose that the possible 
ill results in this case will count for anything 
appreciable in comparison with the benefits. 

Moreover, it must be remembered that, as a 
rule, better men, intellectually and morally, are 
attracted as the duties of public representatives 
become more responsible and important. Bribery 
and corruption m Parliament are unheard of; 
the corruption of the little London Vestry in 
old days was notorious ; it is the small Corpora- 
tion, the out-of-the-way Board of Guardians 
nowadays, where "jobs*' are frequent and 
petty bribery flourishes. 



South African Simplicity — ^The Municipalisiiig 
Authority — Other Reforms — ^The true Temper- 
ance Policy 


Magnificent simplicity is the note of the new 
Transvaal Liquor Licensing Ordinance, already 
referred to. Section 79 i. reads as follows : — 

" The sale of liquor by retail, save as herein- 
after excepted, in any village, town, or ward of 
a municipality may be placed under the sole and 
exclusive control of any local authority ... by 
a vote to that effect of the majority of voters, or, 
if there be none, of the white male persons above 
the age of 21 years residing in such village, 
town, or ward." 

The omitted portion provides as an alternative 
a "Gothenburg" company, and the exception 
appears to refer to power given to the Lieutenant- 
Governor to close public-houses in certain areas 
on certain days. Other sections give the local 


authority or company a monopoly (which, how- 
ever, may extend to only one ward in a town), 
and provide that the vote may be rescinded after 
three years. 

That is all. No provision is made for pooling 
profits, for using profits for counter-attractions 
only, or for the other safeguards on which 
Rowntree and Sherwell lay so much stress. 
Intoxicants are treated as if they were water or 
gas, and the local authority can manage the sale 
as it pleases, subject, of course, to the general 

Such unfettered liberty would not be possible 
amidst the complications of British civilisation, 
though perhaps the people of Johannesburg 
would resent the suggestion that their city is 
stm characterised by primitive simplicity. How- 
ever that may be, the policy of full local auto- 
nomy is unquestionably the right one. 

We do not propose in this orief essay to set 
out a detailed plan for the Municipalisation of 
the Liquor Traffic in England. But we must 
touch on one point hitherto passed over. 


A re-arrangement of our local government 
areas is one of the problems of the future. Mr. 
H. G. Wells * has shown the absurdity of the 
existing lack of system with his accustomed 
incisiveness ; but we must take the country as 

* " Mankind in the Making,'' Appendix. 



we find it, and make the best we can of existing 

The municipalising authority must be as far 
as possible the population unit. That is, for 
London, the Coimtv Council; for other urban 
areas, the Municipal and District Coimcil. For 
rural districts some system of devolution wUl 
probably be found necessary. The Parish is the 
centre of population, and should have much 
authority in the matter. But it would probably 
be necessary to give the District or even the 
County Council a voice in the management of 
the Parish Inn. The politics of a village where 
everybody knows everybody else are highly 
personal ; and an outside court of appeal would 
sometimes be required to keep things straight. 

Use might be made of the Public-house Trust 
Companies, which could be empowered to co- 
operate with any Parish Council by managing 
its public-houses on account of the local authority 
for a moderate commission or fee. 

But the important matter is the towns. For 
them we should propose the widest latitude. 
Save for a reserve power vested in the Local 
Government Board, for the restraint of any 
party of extremists which might happen to 
gain a majority on the Council, and subject to 
the general law against drunkenness ana regu- 
lating hours and conditions of sale, we would 
permit municipalities to reform the trade in 
every sort of way, and to try all kinds of ex- 
periments in public-house management* 


Later on some methods may prove so dis- 
astrous that they must be prohibited by law, 
but until we have experience to guide us, no 
one can say with confidence which roads lead 
to salvation and which to perdition. 

The municipality must have power to acquire 
and carry on any or all the licences in its area. 
Compensation will have to be paid to existing 
licence holders, and this will be fixed, probably 
on the lines we have indicated. The terms of 
the agreement will depend on the balance of 
political forces, and on the date of the settle- 
ment, as well as on other factors which cannot 
now be foreseen. 


It is quite likely that other reforms will be 
made, concurrently with, and possibly earlier 
than mj general ^tem of mnnlcipal U>age- 

There is a general agreement in favour of 
some ratio of licences to population, although 
there is little reason to believe that this will 
effect anj great reduction in drinking, except 
perhaps in Ireland. But, apart from the diffi- 
culty of selection, and the questions of compen- 
sation which it involves, the plan is open to no 

A licence rent on new licences is advocated, 
but is of doubtful expediency. New licences 
should always be granted to public-house 


trust companies as trustees for the com- 
munity, and the exaction of a rental from the 
new hcensees only might be taken to indicate 
that none could properly be asked of the old. 
The infusion of an elective element into the 
licensing authority is admittedly required, and 
it is dear that any local authority which muni- 
cipalises a substantial portion of its trade must 
have a voice in the issue of licences. It is 
perhaps debatable whether a municipalising 
town council should not be its own licensing 
authority, and thus be wholly responsible for 
the management of the trade within its area. 


Progress is said to be spiral, and to bring us 
back on a higher level to a point long left 
behind. Three-quarters of a century ago Parlia- 
ment passed an Act " for the better supplying 
the public with beer," but instead of improving 
the supply, the Act merely made it more 

We believe the phrase sums up the right 
temperance policy ; we want beer to replace 
spirits, and an improvement in the conditions of 

"Slf, through municipal .aaagement o>n the» 
reforms be readily, adequately, and universally 


The following are the best books dealing with 
the Ucensbg problem. 

"The Temperance Problem and Social Reform." By 
Joseph Rowntree and Arthur Sherwell. Ninth edition. 
London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1901. 6s, The best 
work on the subject. 

^^ British Gothenburg Experiments and Public House 
Trusts." By the same. Second edition. Hodder and 
Stoughton. 1901. 2s, 6d, A full account of British 
experiments in Public Management. 

" Public Control of the Liquor Traffic." By the same. 
Grant Richards. 1903. 2s. 6d, net. A reply to Mr. 
John Walker's volume^ named below, and a full and 
critical account of the Scandinavian systems. 

" Drink, Temperance, and Legislation." By Arthur 
Shad well, M.A., M.D. Longmans. 1902. 5s. net. A 
level-headed criticism of licensing legislation : contains an 
historical sketch of English Licensing history. 

''Life and Labour of the People in London." Final 
volume. Macmillan. 1902. 5s, net. Chapters on Drink 
and Public Houses of great value. 

" The Commonwealth as Publican." By John Walker. 
Constable. 1902. 2s, 6d. net. An adverse criticism of 
Public Management. 

'* The Place of Compensation in Temperance Reform." 
By C. P. Sanger, M.A. P. S. King and Son. 19OI. 
2s, 6d. net. Deals with the Compensation Question only. 


^ Alcoholism : a Stadj in Heredity." By G. Archdale 
Reid^ M.B.^ &c. Fisher Unwin. 1901. &. net. 

Final Report of the Royal Commission on the Operation 
and Administration of the Laws relating to the Sale 
of Intoxicating Liquors. C. 9379- 1899- Eyre & 
Spottiswoode. St. Sd. 

[In the text this report is referred to as The Royal 
Commission Report.] 

'' The Drink PerQ in Scotland." By Arthur Sherwell. 
Edinburgh and London : Oliphant^ Anderson & Ferrier. 
1903. Is. 2d. post free. 

^'The History of Liquor Licensing in England^ princi- 
pally fifom 1700 to 1830." By Sidney and Beatrice Webb. 
Longmans. 1903. 2s. 6d. net. A most valuable though 
incomplete history. 

Amongst innumerable articles in magazines 
the following should be noted : — 

Charles Booths Contemporary Review, September 1 899 : 
an account of five public houses managed privately on 
reformed principles. 

Miss Edith Sellers^ Contemporary Review, December 
1 902 : an account of Russian counter attractions. 

The number of pamphlets is enormous, but, 
contrary to the usual rule, their value in the 
estimation of the present writer is not great. 
The following exceptions may be named : — 

" The Economic Aspect of the Drink Problem." By 
T. P. Whittaker, M.P. London : Ideal Publishing Co., 
3S Paternoster Row. 1902. Sd, 

^^Some Frank and Friendly Words to Temperance 
People," &c., &c. By T. P. Whittdter, M.P. London : 
G. H. Farringdon. 1903. Id, An apologetic defence of 
the ''Manifesto*' of 1903, which includes Public Control 
of the trade. 



Licensing in the City of Birmingham. Birmingham 
Surrender Scheme." By Arthur Chamberlain. Birming- 
ham : Cornish Bros., 37 New Street. 1902. 6d, 

"Liquor Licensing at Home and Abroad" (by Edw. 
R. Pease) and " Municipal Drink Traffic." Being Fabian 
Tracts Nos. 85 and 86. The Fabian Society. London : 
5 Clements Inn. Published 1898. Id, each. 

Reports, Pamphlets, &c., of the Central Public House 
Trust Association, ll6 Victoria Street, Westminster, 
London, S.W. 

Reports of the People's Refreshment House Associa- 
tion, Broadway Chambers, Westminster, S.W. 


*'The Liquor Problem in its Legislative Aspects." By 
F. H. Wines and J. Koren. An investigation made under 
the direction of Charles W. Eliot, Seth Low, and James 
C. Carter, subrcommittee of the Committee of Fifty 
to investigate the Liquor Problem. Second edition. 
Boston : Houghton, Mifflin & Co. London : Gay dc 
Bird. 5s, A most valuable volume. 

"The Economic Aspects of the Liquor Problem." By 
John Koren. An investigation made for the Committee of 
Fifty under the direction of H. W. Famham. Boston : 
Houghton & Mifflin. 1899- London: Gay & Bird. 5s. 
Not so useful to English readers. 

"Substitutes for the Saloon." By Raymond Calkins. 
An investigation made for the Committee of Fifty undef 
the direction of F. G. Peabody, E. R. L. Gould, and W. K 
Sloane. Boston : Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1901. London: 
Gay & Bird. 5s. 

" Liquor Legislation in the United States and Canada." 
Report, &c., made by E. L. Fanshaw at the request of 
W. Rathbone, M.P. Cassel. (No date ; ? 1893.) 2s. 6d. 
Valuable, but superseded by Rowntree and Sherwell. 

^'Centralised Administration of Liquor Laws in the 
American Commonwealths." By C. M. L. Sites, LL.B. 
Ph.D. New York : Macmillan. London : P. S. King and 



Son. 1899* CMumbia University Studies in History^ &c, 
VoL z. No. 3. Somewhat technicaL 

''The Gothenburg Sjrstem of Liquor Traffic" By 
E. R. L. Gould. Fifth Special Report of the Commissioner 
of Labour. Washington: Government Printing Office. 

" L' Alcool et son Histoire en Russie : Etude Economique 
et Sodale." Par Louis Skarzjrnski, &c. &c Paris. 1902. 
Arthur Rousseau^ 14 Rue Soufflot A singularly useful 
account of the Russian system^ from which most of the 
facts given in the text are taken. 



rarity of, ii 

remedy for, 119 
Alcohol, consumption of by our 

competitors, 74 
Anarchism, incipient, 51 
Anti-vaccination, 51 
Auction of licences, 25 
Avebury, Lord, 59 


alcohol in, 62 

consumption of, in various 
countries, 63, 66 

in America, 64 

in our colonies, 66 

as a temperance beverage, 68 
Beerhouses, number of, ante 

1869, 149 
Belgium, old age pensions in, 17 
Birmingham, scheme for munid- 

palisation in, 137 
Blind tigers, 83, 84 
Booth, Charles, 73, 112, Z14 

lack of finesse in, 52 

political power of, 125 

attitude of, towards munici- 
palisation, 130 
British working man, political 
ideality of. 125 

Carlow, Charles, 95 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 77, 93, 137 
Chancellor of Exchequer, 116, 

Clean slate, the, 31, 54 


the poor man's, 107 

amusements in, no 
Cobbett, William, 69 
Committee of Fifty, 

on prohibition, 46 

on function of saloons, 108 
Compensation, 149 

in South Australia, 151 

in Russia, 151 
Consumption of liquor, 

Charles Booth on, 113 

causes of variation in, 114 

in Sweden, 116 

see Spirits and Beer 
Control of the trade, right to, 13, 

Corruption in municipal afifairs, 

Counter attractions, 

in Russia, 88 

limitations o( 109 

cost of, 122 

scheme for, 145 
Cowen, Joseph, 32 

of licensing law, 8, 60, Z03 

of mundpad success, 140 

in various towns, 71 
decline o( 73, 1x4, 136 
in Russia, 91 

Excess, permitted by ezistiog 

law, 9 
Ezdse duties, 24 



Excise duties — continued 

in Russia, 86 

revenue in Russia, 89 

efifects of, 115 
Excise licences, 24 

American, issued to illegal 
dealers, 41 

in Russia, 86, 87 

Fabian Society, 26, 135 
Factory Acts, 46 
Food in public-houses, 98, 11 1 
Free trade in liquor, 20, 21, 22 

German Emperor, ideal post 

for, 146 
Gladstone, Mr., 22, 28, 54 
Gothenburg system {see Norway 

a»i .Sweden) 
Government officials, revolution 

in, 146 
Gresham's law» the new» 135, 

Grey, Earl, 98 
Guardians, bondage of, 144 

Hampstbad election, 56 
High licence, 20, 22 

forms of, 23 

proceeds pi, 24 

useful effect ot, 151 
Hill of Beath Society, 95, 124, 

Humanised public-houses, 107 

Intbllbctual honesty, 57 

Iowa, Mulct Act, 42 

Irish politics, parochialism of, 


in early days, 6 

appointment of, 12 

administrative methods of, 13, 

attempted disestablishment o^ 

inaction o( 133 

Labour party, 57 
Lawbreakers, Bxitish, 50 

Liberal party, 

principles of, 22, 27, 54 

appeal to, 126 
Licence fees, 

in American states, 24 

in Transvaal, 92 

power to raise, 152 
Licensing law, 

origin, 6, 7 

criteria of, 8 
Licensed premises, 

ratio of, 72, 157 

number of, 137 

suggested ratio of^ 148 
Licence rate, 26 
Licence rental, 25, 27, 157 
Liverpool, effect of reforms in, 

Local Government Board, 

control of, 143 

proposed inspection by, 145 

reserve power for, 136 
Local option see Veto 
Local veto see Veto 

Man in the street, 

power of, 52 

definition of, 127 

attitude of, towards municipal- 
isation, 131 
Man with the farm, 54 
Moderation, failure to encourage, 

Morley, John, 54 

Mulct Act of Iowa, 42 

Municipal enterprises, 50, 120 

National temperance manifesto, 

Norway, company system, 79 

monoi>oly in, 138 
Nursery ia the public-house, zzx 

Passivb resistance, 51 
People's Refreshment House 

Association, 97, 138 
Perpendicular drinking, 

in Sweden and Norway, 80 

in South Carolina, 83 

in Russia, 86 



Perpendicular drinking — con- 

proposal for, 105 

I>revalence of idea of, 113 
Philosophy of veto, 58 
Police supervision, inadequate, 

under high licence, 23 
Popular control, 

of local government, iz 

of the drink trade, 104 
Population, density of, 7, 63 

growth in Russia, 89 
Portland (Maine), 

drunkenness in, 41 

beer drinking in, 70 
Port Sunlight, veto in, 37 
Private interest in the trade, 9 

of monopoly, 16 

of state dispensaries in South 
Carolina, 84 

of Russian monopoly, 89 

of Swiss monopoly, 92 

of Scotch publicohouse com- 
panies, 96 

of People's Refreshment 
House Association, 97 

of public-house trust com- 
panies, zoo 

of the drink trade, z2o, Z4Z 

of municipal public-houses, Z23 

of private monopolies, Z37 

pooling of the, Z42 
Prohibition, 30 

in Maine, 4Z 

in Iowa, 42 

effect on drunkenness, 42 

Committee of Fifty on, 46 

in Norway, 8z 
Publicans, business inability oi^ 

Public-house trust companies, 

description of, 98 

their humanised public -houses, 

attitude towards municipalisa- 
tion, Z32 

houses in large towns, Z38 

future scope of, Z57 

Ratepayer, his protests, i2z 
Rates, need for aids to the, Z20 
Reduction of licences, 

Gladstone on, 22, 28 

Herbert Samuel on, 27 

in South Carolina, 84 

in Russia, 87-90 

in public-houses, Z5 

under high licence, 23 

must rule, IZ3 

increase of, Z36 
Rights of a majority, 45 
Rosebery, Lord, 54 
Rulers, our, 52 
Russia, history of trade in, 85 

Saloons, function of Americant 

Samuel, Herbert, 27 

spirit drinking in, 68 

drunkenness in, 7Z 

licences in, 72 

public-house societies, 94 
Sellers, Miss. 88 
Sherwell, Arthur, 43 

in last ditch, 44 

adverse effect of veto on, 36 

in Liverpool, zz8 
South Carolina, 82 

consumi)tion of, 67, 71 

prohibition and consumption, 

disease due to, 70 

crime due to, 71 

consumption in Sweden, 80, z Z7 

consumption in Norway, 81 

in Russia, 89 

in Switzerland, 9Z 

danger of cheap, Z19 
State dispensaries {sse Soath 

Carolina, and Russia) 
Success, definition of municipal, 


Gothenburg system, 78 

consumption of spirits in, xzy 



Sweden — continiud 
towns making profits, 124 
partial monopoly in, 135 
monopoly in, 138 

Statistics, similarity of, to whis- 
key, 82 

Sunday closing, 50, 55, 72 

Sntherlandshire, 43 

Switzerland, monopoly in, 91 

Transvaal, 92, 154 
Teetotalers in politics, 56 

foreign to liberalism, 22, 29 
in East Ends, 35 
in America, j6, 38, 147 
in artizan suburbs, 37 

Veto — eonHnued 

in West Ends, 37 

in rural districts, 39, 43 

in towns, 40 

failure of in U.S.A., 49 

in Russia, 87 

must be forbidden, 147 

supposed power of, 124 

licensed victuallers' view of, 
Voting to order, 57 

Walkbr, John, 96, 122 
Webb, Si(mey, 135 
Wells, H. G., 155 
Whittaker, T. P., 32. 63, 81 

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