« AnteriorContinua »
in Favour of the Claule.
Anno 9. Geo. 11. our Streets as full of Objects of Pity and Contempt as ever. 1736.
For this Reason, Sir, I am for making an Experiment, a: least, for one Year, of the Bill as it stands at present: As it is a very extraordinary Regulation, we shall probably in next Session have Occasion to make some Alterations : By that Time we shall see what Effect the diminishing the Retail of Punch will have upon our People ; we shall likewise see what Effect it may be like to have upon our Sugar-Colonies. In the mean Time the Prohibition cannot be attended with any extraordinary bad Effect, and therefore I shall be against adding the Clause which the honourable Gentleman has pro
posed.' Farther Arguments To this it was replied by the Members, who were for the
Sir, " When the honourable Gentleman (Sir Joseph Jekyll ] was pleased to find Fault with the great Number of our Punch-Houses, I wish he had added Taverns and Alehouses, for I am convinced the great Number of the latter is as fenfible a Grievance as the former ; and have contrived more Temptations for People to loiter away their Time: But the unbounded Liberty so many Years given to setting up Publick Houses of all kinds, proceeds from an Error in Politicks, by which it was the Interest of those to multiply such Houses, who only had the Power to prevent their Increase. This, Sir, is the true Cause of that prodigious Number of Houses of Entertainment set up in every Part of this Kingdom ; and the Power of those, to whom we had given an Interest in such Houses, has been so considerable, that it was in vain for any Gentleman to propose a Remedy. Notwithstanding the terrible Outcry, that was universally raised against the excessive Use of Spirituous Liquors amongst the Common People, I doubt much if we could have applied any effectual Remedy, unless some Persons had found it their Interest to agree to it.
• I shall readily agree, Sir, that the present Number of our Punch-Houses is too great; but there is a great Difference between too great a Number, and none at all : By the Proposition now made, the Retailing of Punch will be confined to Houses where other strong Liquors are by Licence to be sold, which will of Course very much diminish the Number of our Punch-Houses ; and where Men are allowed to drink any other Sort of strong Liquor, I can see no Reason why they may not be allowed to drink Punch, for I am persuaded it is as wholesome a Liquor as can be found at fuch Houses. I wish, Sir, that effectual Methods had been taken, many Years since, for preventing our People from sepporting their Families by the Retail of Spirituous Liquors : I am con
vinced, that thereby the Labour and Industry of all our Peo- Anno 9; Geo. 11. ple has been very much diminished, and therefore I wish some effectual Reitraints had been laid upon those, who have the Power of granting such Licences. Though the publick Good certainly requires an immediate Restraint upon the 'excessive Use of Spirituous Liquors, yet I cannot think that a Prohibition of selling any such Liquors by Retail, especially when they are rectified by Water, or made into Punch, can be absolutely necessary : Nay, if such a Prohibition were necessary, my Concern for the Numbers of People who now live by that Retail is such, that I should rather be for introducing the Prohibition by Degrees ; by which Method a general Distress would be prevented ; because some would die in the mean Time, and the rest would have Time to provide a Livelihood in some other Way. • This Bill would, I believe, have met with
little Success, if it had not been supported by another Propofition which is now made Part of it. I shall admit, Sir, that Chose who find a private Interest in any publick Nusance, generally endeavour to oppose its Removal, even although hey are fully sensible that their Country must be ruined by ts Continuance. Of such Men, I am afraid we have too many in this Kingdom, but I hope not one in this House.
With respect to our Sugar-Colonies, Sir, I am surprised o hear such Reasoning upon that Subject. They may proably be ruined by prohibiting the Retail of their Rum in Great Britain ; but Gentlemen say, we may give them a full Compensation the next Session ; which to me seems the same s if I should say to a Man, I must now knock your Brains ut, but next Year I'll do something to bring you to Life gain : For God's Sake, Sir, let us consider the unfortunate Case of many of our Sugar-Islands, whose whole Subsistence -pends upon the Sale of that Moiety of their Rum, which e are by this Bill to deprive them of : The Produce
their whole present Crop of Sugars, and the other Moiy of their Rum, may be necessary for defraying the Charge
their next Year's Crop; and if we disappoint them in the le of what they designed for fubfifting their families, they uit break in upon the Stock necessary for producing another top; by which Means every Sugar-Planter, who is not be-rehand with the World, muft necessarily be undone : This am persuaded will be the Case of most of our small Planrs, and in them we know the Strength of our Sugar-Islands
nlists ; tho' the Regulations we are next Year to make may e a Compensation to those who can stand the Shock. here is no Pretence for saying that the Use of Rum when ade into Punch, for one Year longer, will deftroy the ealth or Morals of the People of Great Britain, therefore Vol. IV.
Anno 9. Geo. II. why should we do an Injury to our Sugar-Planters, 'till we 1736.
are ready to grant them a proper Redress ? Why should we prevent the Sale of their Rum in Great Britain, 'till we have made such Regulations as may enable them to sell it to Advantage at some other Market ?
• We are told, Sir, that our Sugar-Planters might sell their Rum much cheaper, and yet have a confiderable yearly Profit from their several Plantations ; but I wish that sort of Reasoning had been founded upon Facts known to the House ; for I believe, if we were to examine our SugarPlanters, they would give us strong Reasons for convincing us, that in their present Circumstances it is impoflible to sell their Sugars or Run cheaper. We all know how dear living it is in our Sugar-Islands, what Taxes they pay, and what monitrous Prices they give for their Slaves, and for every Thing else necessary for the Production of Sugars : We likewise know at what a cheap Rate both Sugars and Rum are fold upon the Spot where they are produced, and if we compare the Expence and the Profits together, the Impossibility of selling cheaper will fully appear. It certainly would be an Advantage to the Nation, to enable our Sugar-Planters to sell their Rum at foreign Markets rather than in Great Britain ; but it is not the Price the poor Planters fell it at, which prevents its being sold in foreign Markets ; it is the wife Regulations we have made here at home ; for we seem to have taken Care to prevent its being in their Power to difpose of their Rum at any foreign Market : In the firft Place, their Rum must be all landed in Great Britain, before it can be carried to any foreign Market in Europe ; fo that it must be charged with double Freight and double Commiflion, besides Porterage, Wharfage, and several other small Items upon the Importation and Exportation, all which, upon such a cheap and such a bulky Commodity, muft amount to more than the Value of the prime Cof: And in the next Place we know that, in order to make Rum palatable, it muit be kept in a good Cellar for several Years ; now there are but few of our Planters can spare to keep their Rum by them, nor would it be proper to keep it in those hot Climates ; and yet by obliging our Merchants at home to pay the high Duties upon it soon after its landing, we render it impoflible for most of them to keep it 'till it is fit for any Market ; or if some of them do, the Interest of the Duties upon it at home rises so high, that it becomes impoffible to sell it to Advantage at any foreign Market Both these Disadvantages might be very easily removed and when chis is done we may perhaps make free with our Home-Consumption of that Liquor ; but 'till then I ar convinced, the putting a Stop to our Home-Consum
tion, will be running the Risk of ruining intirely our Sugar- Anno 9 Geo. II. Colonies.
• It is said, Sir, that upon our prohibiting the Retail of Punch, our People will fall naturally into the drinking of Fine Ale, Strong Beer, and Home-made Wines. I with it may be fo ; and I am convinced the putting a Stop to the Use of Spirituous Liquors, will increase the Consumption of Beer and Ale, tho' this has been denied, or at least much doubted of, by the same Gentlemen in a former Debate on this Bill; but as for most of our Punch-Drinkers, they are generally the better Sort of our People, and most of them will fall into the drinking of foreign Wines, which Consumption will not be confined to the Wines of Portugal only; for the Spanish and Italian Wines will certainly come in for a Share, as well as French Clarets. As for our Home-made Wines, the Use of them will never become so general as the Use of Punch ; and unless this happens to be the Case, our Sugar-Colonies will suffer in the Consumption of their Sugars as well as their Rum.
• I will allow that by prohibiting the Retail of Punch, fome little Addition will be made to the Consumption of our Home-made Wines'; but I am convinced the chief Addition will be to the foreign Wines, which muft necessarily be a great Disadvantage to the Nation, tho' it will be a double Advantage to the Civil Lift ; for that Revenue will be confiderably increased by the great Number of new Wine-Licences, that will of Course be taken out, every Shilling of the Duties upon which belongs to the Civil Lift ; and it will besides get a great deal more by the Consumption of Wine, than it could have ever got by the Consumption of Rum made into Punch ; for as one Bottle of good Rum made into Panch, will go as far as four Bottles of Wine ; and as the Civil Lift gets at least 16 d. by the Consumption of four Bottles of Wine, and but 9 d. or 10 d. at most by one Bottle of Rum made into Punch, the Civil List will be a double Gainer by this Change of Liquors. 'Tis true, a confiderable Addition has always been made by Adulteration to foreign Wines after they are imported, so that we cannot suppose the Civil Lift will get 4 d. by every Bortle hereafter to be consumed : But then if the drinking of Punch be continued, we cannot reckon that the Civil Lift could get 9d. or 10 d. by every Bottle of Rum made use of, because great Quantities of Punch have always been made of Rum run in without paying Duty ; and the Quantity of Punch, made from such Liquors, will always be at least equal to the Quantity added by our Wine-Coopers to foreign Wines after Importation. Ee 2
Anno 9. Geo. II. · The Clause now offered is, in my opinion, Sir, drawn 1736.
up fo cautiously, that it is impossible to make any Handle of it for evading the Law. The Punch, to be retailed by this Clause, must be mixed with two third Parts Water at least, in the Presence of the Buyer, and must not be retailed in a less Quantity than one Pint, or at a less Price than after the Rate of 5 s. per Gallon : It will therefore be impossible to sell any spirituous Liquor under the Name of Punch, unless it be mixed with two third Parts Water ; and the not allowing it to be fold at a less Price than 5 s. per Gallon, or in a less Quantity than one Pint, will prevent Tippling as much as posible. To pretend that the Frauds cannot be discovered, because the Drinkers will always be Parties to the Evasion, is an Objection that will hold equal. ly strong against every Clause in the Bill; for the Drinkers must be Parties to every Fraud that can be committed, and yet it is to be presumed, that they will generally be the Informers : Nay, even with Respect to the retailing of Gin, it may safely bę fold and drank in a private Corner, without any Danger of Discovery, unless the Drinkers them. selves become Informers.
• The Bill now before us may indeed, Sir, very properly be called an Experiment: It is, I believe, one of the boldest Experiments in Politicks that was ever made in a free Country; and seems as if intended to try the Submission and Obedience of our People : Even, tho the Clause now proposed be added, like Saul, it will ruin its Thousands ; but if this Clause be not added, like David, it will ruin its ten Thorsands; and if by this Bill our Sugar-Trade should be destroyed, it will ruin the whole Nation at last. I truly, Sir, make no Question, but that the Bill will be found to ftand in need of some Amendments in the very next Session ; I do not know but a great Part of it may then be repealed ; but as for that Part of it which relates to the Civil-Lift, I doubt much if it will ever be in our Power to get it repealed : I am convinced, that before next Session it will be found neceffary to alter the whole Scheme of this Bill, and to contrive fome new Method for preventing the excessive Use of Spirituous Liquors among our common People ; but in the mean time Thousands of our People abroad and at home will be utterly undone : And as such Persons cannot be recovered, nor receive any Benefit, by those Alterations we may then think proper to make, I am for preventing the spreading of this Desolation as much as possible, and therefore am for adding the Clause now proposed.'
The Question was then put, Whether the above Claufe be added to the Bill; which pass’d in the Negative, by 203 to 98. And then the Bill was ordered to be engrofs'd.