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THE BEER QUESTION. I MEETING AT CHESTER. 1 SENSIBLE SPEECH BY ME TOLLEMACHE. Under the auspices of the Chester Farmers' Club, a public meeting was held in the Town Hall, on Tuesday, to consider the beer question. Dr. Stolterfoth presided, and a meagre attend- ance included Mr. Henry Tollemache, M.P., Messrs. J. Beecroft, P. Allen, J. Prince, E. Dean, W. Fryer, J. Dickson, J. R. Rae, C. G. Haswell, J. W. Hincks, T. J. Dutton, G. Mullock, W. E. Phillips, M. Kennedy, George Roberts, W. Williams (Hoole), R. Jones, A. P. Smith (secretary), &c. Apologies for absence were received from the Hon. Cecil T. Parker, Messrs. George Barbour, Robt. Yerburgh, M.P., Joseph Hoult, M.P., Harry Barnston, who wrote that the question of pure beer was of such immense importance to the community that any effort which the club made to strengthen the hands of the community would, he was sure, receive the support it so fully deserved Geo. Dickson, J. R. Thomson, Lord Kenyon, who wrote that he thought they must all be in favour of having pure beer, but he believed the question was a much more complicated one than it appeared to be; James Tomkinson, M.P., Dr. Mann, and Dr. King. The latter, referring to the statement that arsenic was found in malt, wrote that the highest authorities agreed that the amount of arsenic that could be absorbed by growing plants was infinitesimal. The Secretary explained that the meeting was called by the request of the Central and Associ- ated Chambers of Agriculture. He called the meeting with some diffidence lest they should, in their public zeal, as well as their zeal for the farmers, interfere in any way with those who might be, or who had been, their patrons. That diffidence had, however, been entirely dispelled by nothing so much as by the action of the brewers themselves, and the course they had adopted. The assistance they had given in every inquiry, especially in Manchester, had proved that nobody was so anxious to get at the root of the question as they were. Whatever might be the result of the agitation now being pursued with reference to beer, this result would remain, that it would be shewn how inseparably the interests of the British public were bound up with the interests of the British farmer, and how dependent the health and prosperity of the country were upon the oldest and one of the largest industries in the country. (Applause.) MR. BEECROFT AND THE BREWERS. Mr. J. Beecroft proposed:- That in view of the recent serious epidemic attributed to poison in beer. this meeting desires to urge strongly upon Her Majesty's Government the necessity for passing, at the earliest practicable date, a Bill to secure purity in beer and the legal definition of beer as the product of barley malt, hops, water, and yeast. This meeting also desires to urge strongly upon Her Majesty's Government that, in the interests of the public health, brewers of fermented liquors intended to imitate beer, as above defined, should not be allowed to use more than a fixed percentage of malt-substitutes, and that those substitutes should be defined by law And, further, that the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Inland Revenue should be requested to direct forthwith that (in addition to malt and substitutes for malt now entered) entries be made by all brewers of the quantities of hops and hop- substitutes used, and that in the return relating to brewers' licences the name of each and every brewer for sale be given, together with the materials used of every class and the quantity of beer produced by him, and that these particulars be published quarterly. He explained that on the previous Saturday he happened to meet the member for Chester and had a short corversation with him. He put it to Mr. Yerburgh whether he thought it was desirable to call that meeting, and Mr. Yerburgh replied that he thought they would be making a great mistake if they did not call a public meeting, as the question was ripe for discussion. In 1896, through the instrumentality of Sir Cuthbert Quilter, a beer materials com- mittee was formed. The committee consisted of six gentlemen, and it sat for three years. When their report was issued it appeared that five of the gentlemen thought there was no need for any change in the system of brewing, and one gentleman—Mr. Clare Sewell Read- stood out by himself and said he believed beer was not so pure as it ought to be, and was hurtful to the public health. The Government had appointed another commission to enquire into the matter, but he hoped they would not have to wait another three years for the report. This was a vital question, and it was high time the Government took it in their own hands before appointing another commission. He saw it stated that beer con- sisted of 16 or 17 ingredients, and he thought those who used so many concoctions in beer ought to be called mixers and not brewers. (Laughter.) Years ago it used to be a common thing in Chester to see carts coming from the breweries laden with grain, but they did not see them now. They know there was no grain coming out of breweries unless malt was used, and if malt was not used it followed that they must be brewing on some other system. Mr. Walter Long had gone so far as to say that everything bad been done that possibly could be done to prevent this poisonous matter from going into beer, but he very much doubted it. Mr. Long had just become President of the Local Government Board, and he said that the Pure Beer Bill was no use to him. He said before we destroyed the Free Mash Tub we must consider our position as taxpayers. He (Mr. Beecroft) bad no doubt we derived some- thing like £ 12,000,000 from the taxation of the brewers, and if we destroyed the Free Mash Tub, he took it we should expect to find some of this taxation from another source. They knew that when a public-house that probably was worth 91,000 unlicensed, when it came to be sold would realise RIO,000 because of its licence. Who paid that £ 10,000 ? The public—(hear, hear)—they gave so much for their beer, and they had to pay for the house. The public would not mind losing this twelve millons, and paying threepence a glass for their beer, if they could get pure malt and hops. It had been stated that the public had not a taste for beer made of pure malt and hops, and that they preferred these thick sort of concoc- tions, but he thought that if a gentleman asked for a glass of beer he ought to be supplied with a glass of beer, and that the ingredients of beer ought to be defined by Government. (Hear, hear). If he sold milk adulterated with water, or boracic acid he was fined, and he did not see why equally strict rules should not be enforced with reference to beer. (Applause.) Mr. P. Allen seconded the resolution. MR. TOLLEMACHE ON PURE BEER. Mr. Henry Tollemache, who was cordially greeted, said he had some hesitation in coming there that evening and appearing on the plat- form, but he was very anxious to know what the feelings and wishes of his neighbours at Chester and district were on this question of pure beer. He did not like to propose the reso- lution or to second it, for the simple reason that he thought this question was not nearly such an easy one as many people seemed to imagine, and he very much doubted whether the lines on which the present agitation was being conducted were the most practical and the best that could be devised. However, there could not be too much discussion on subjects of that nature, and he was very glad to hear what his friend Mr- Beecroft bad said, as he was a practical man. They had got to consider this important question, and it seemed to him that they had to find out first of all what they had got to com- plain of, and what was the best and most practical remedy for what they were suffering under. What they were suffering under was a very sad infliction it was a widespread out- break of arsenical poisoning, and as far as they could judge at present there was little doubt it was due in a very large measure to beer. It had brought misery and woe to hundreds of households, and it was quite evident it was time to stop it now and prevent its re- occurrence. That was a grievance that was perfectly simple, but the question of, what was the best remedy was a very much more difficult one. He spoke with diffidence on the subject, because at present it was sub judice, but he felt that if the law was not strong enough at the present moment to prohibit the use of these dangerous materials in the brewing of beer, the law ought to be strengthened, and strengthened at once. (Applause.) The remedy proposed was one that had been honourably connected with the name of Sir Cuthbert Quilter for a considerable number of years. It was first looked upon as a sort of harmless fad, but in view of the epidemic it was being taken 4p all over the country, and the object which these gentlemen put forward, and with which he thoroughly sympathised, was that the beer sold to our people should be a pure article. (Ap- plause.) As to the means by which under r the Pure Beer Bill of Sir Cuthbert Quilter and others, the Government were to be asked to carry out that most desirable object, it was, so far as he understood, to say that anyone who sold beer should be bound to sell a mixture simply made out of malt hops, yeast and' water. The effect of that would, undoubtedly, be to cut out nine-tenths, or more, possibly, of.the beer brewed in this country at the present moment. Mr. Beecroft would say, A very good thing too," but he (Mr. Tollemache) rather doubted it. Mr. Beecroft contended that thick glutinous mixtures under the present system of brewing were foisted on the public. His (Mr. Toilemache'a) experience of beer was distinctly the Reverse he thought ? tendency 'f lat? y?ars h? been to m?g Titiriiiifi lighter beers, and they might depend upon it that what the brewers would put on the market was the beer that the public demanded and wanted. Sir William Harcourt stated in some Budget Bill in the House of Commons that he did not think. it was practicable to brew these lighter beers without the use of sugar. Sugar was cut out under this resolu- tion and no man would be allowed to use it and call the product beer. The growth of the use of sugar in brewing had been enormous, and if they were going to say by a stroke of the pen that no more stuff brewed with sugar should be sold as beer they would be absolutely starting a revolution in the brewing trade which would knock out any enterprise in that quarter. The object they ought to have in view was not so much to prohibit the use of wholesome articles in the brewing of beer, as to insist that whatever articles were used in beer should be pure and wholesome. (Hear, hear.) He quite believed that if the Commission to which Mr. Beecroft re- ferred, and which sat for three years, were to sit again now and take some further evidence, and hear the list of abominable acids which Mr. Beecroft had quoted as being used in the manufacture of beer, they would certainly modify their views, and Mr. Clare Sewell Read would not be in a minority. They had to consider that what had been called the Free Mash Tub was the result of a compromise, and an arrangement honourably suggested and agreed to by both parties to the controversy, and that could not be upset by the mere stroke of the pen without entirely re-modelling the whole of the great question of taxation in relation to beer. The use of sugar in beer had been recognised since 1847; there had been no dispute about it, and it had worked extremely advantageously, possibly for the brewer and certainly for the consumer of beer. In 1880 the Malt Tax was done away with and the Beer Duty was sub- stituted, and Mr. Gladstone, as the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in moving the resolution, made use of the words that the brewer would brew from what he pleased, and would have a perfect choice of his materials and methods. They could not go in the face of that compromise, which was accepted and had been loyally acted up to without revising the whole scale of the taxation of beer. In 1880 the tax put on beer amounted to an equivalent of 22s. a quarter of barley used for malting purposes. Since then successive Chancellors of the Exchequer had gone on adding to the tax until at the present moment brewers were paying an equivalent of 32s. a quarter for the barley used for brewing purposes. As Mr. Long said that produced an income to the Treasury of something like twelve millions a year. He was not sure if Mr. Beecroft realised that Mr. Long in his speech about this Bill said not that it went too far, but did not go far enough, because he said as a guar- dian of the public health he would like to see legislation applied not only to beer but to other articles which might contain injurious sub- stances. If they were going to make it impossible for brewers to brew at a profit, one of two things would happen, either there would be a large deficit in the Budget or the working- man would have to pay a very large additional sum for every pot of beer. Therefore he did not want to see brewers prevented from using cheap and wholesome substances, so long as these substances were of a wholesome nature. At the same time he thought these detestable acids ought to be done away with at once. (Applause.) He was not at one with the Chamber of Agri- culture in wishing to see the use of sugar, maize, rice, and other articles rendered impossible in the brewing of beer. They must remember that under the present circumstances it was quite possible to have a pure and wholesome beer brewed, but under Sir Cuthbert Quilter's pro- visions it would be perfectly possible to have an impure article foisted on the public. They wanted to see that the ingredients should be pure and wholesome, and so long as these conditions were carried out, he did not think they ought to trouble themselves unduly as to particular articles such as maize, or rice, or sugar being used in the brewing of beer. For those reasons he did not feel justified in going to the whole extent which he was asked to do in the resolutions put forward. There was one matter apart from the question of justice to the brewers which could not be put on one side; if they entirely altered the whole system of the taxation on the brewing of beer, they would raise a great fiscal revolution which it would take months and months for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to master and control. He did not think it possible for effect to be given to any such resolution as that now proposed during the ensuing session, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to settle the details of the very unpleasant Budget which must come before them soon. He was thoroughly in favour of pure beer, but he would like to see that purity obtained by the use of wholesome articles, no matter if they called them sugar, or maize, or rice. He was most anxious, to further the object they bad in view, and that was that their people should have pure beer when they asked for it. (Applause.) I U T A SCENE. iur. J. K. itae (local agent and secretary to the National Trade Defence Association) rose in the body of the room to speak, whereupon Mr. M. Kennedy, who was on the platform, said: This gentleman is representing the brewers' interests, and I do not think it is in order. This is not a debating society. You should put the resolution, Mr. Chairman, as Mr. Beecroft has to catch a train. The Chairman: Well, I must put the resolution then. Mr. Rae: I beg your pardon; this is a public meeting. The Chairman: Be short then, and say what you have to say. Mr. Kennedy: I insist he has no right to speak. Mr. Rae: I beg pardon; this is a public meet- ing, and I have a right to speak. (Applause.) Proceeding, he said he was quite in agreement with the gentleman who moved the resolution that they ought to have pure beer, but after all what was pure beer? Mr. Beecroft took them back to 1896, but he would go back to 1880, when Mr. Gladstone gave a definition of what pure beer was to be in future. Mr. Rae was proceeding to refer to the bargain made by Mr. Gladstone with the farmers of the country, when Mr. Kennedy interrupted by remarking: I think this is altogether out of order. It is open ing a question which does not affect the Farmers' Club. (Cries of "No, no.") I do not think you are invited here to detain this meeting. Mr. Tollemache has gone over your ground. I do not see why you should detain these farmers here; they want to catch a train. Mr. Rae said he was only emphasising what Mr. Tollemache had put before them, and letting them see what the effect of the passing of such a measure as they had put before them that even- ing would be. It was said that the growing of barley in the country had decreased in conse- quence of the passing of Mr. Gladstone's Free Mash Tub, but he maintained that it had not. The growing of wheat and oats had also declined in a considerable way, and the whole of the farming interest had gone down together, but the singular fact about it was that the decline of wheat and oats had been greater than that of barley. The whole thing came tumbling down together, and they must admit that it was not entirely due to the Free Mash Tub that the far- mers' interests had declined during the past ten years. If the farmers of the country passed such a resolution as that proposed that evening they would be driving trade away, and would be forcing brewers to use more foreign barley and less English barley than in the past. Brewers were only too anxious to meet the public in the matter. He was sure they were all there to do the best they could to prevent the introduction of any deleterious matter into the beer, and to do the best they could to provide the British public with pure beer. (Applause.) The proposition was carried, and on the propo- sition of Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mr. Prince, a vote of thanks was accorded the chairman for presiding.


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