HC Deb 16 March 1906 vol 153 cc1541-83
§ Order for Second Reading read.
MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)
in supporting the Bill, stated that in the constituency which he represented a number of people had died from drinking impure beer. What was still more important, for electoral purposes, a great number survived. So far as his memory served, something like this happened. When the friends of those who died from arsenical poisoning brought an action, the brewer said, "I am innocent. I used glucose." They then brought an action againt the glucose manufacturer. He said, "I am innocent. I used pure sulphuric acid." The sulphuric acid manufacturer said that there was "no more than the usual proportion of arsenic." Unfortunately there was, and by the use of these three different (or identical) substances used in the making of beer a large number of people suffered acute agony. He stood there for those people. Those who listened to the debate on the Address would know that they had all been returned for a large number of different reasons, but among the other questions was the question of pure beer. He wanted to insist upon the fact that they were a representative as well as a deliberative body, and there was not the slightest doubt that if they put this Bill to the votes of the people they would get an overwhelming majority in its favour. They were told that the populace did not understand the deep chemical mysteries by which the preparation of beer was ruled. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury had said with some force that it was impossible to tell the difference between beer brewed from malt and hops and beer brewed in other fashions. So far from that being the case, the hon. Member for Newport stated that he had been at some pains to obtain very good English beer by special contract. The hon. Member asked whether there was anyone else in the same circumstances. There was himself. He went to the town of Arundel, and he asked at the brewery whose honest and familiar smell he had known from childhood, "Can I have English beer made out of English malt and hops?" They said, "You can. It is a little more trouble, and you will have to pay a little more for it, but others are asking for it." Consequently he had it. It was not a question of chemical analysis. That would not tell them the difference between good beer and bad any more than mathematics would tell them the difference between a good picture and a bad. There were very few days when he could not say before he went to bed that he had drunk two pints of beer. Whether he drank beer made out of the elements of which beer had been made for hundreds of years or beer made out of chemical substitutes, made all the difference in the world to his health. No scientist in the world would persuade him out of his personal conclusions, as for instance, his religion, his taste in art, or his palate. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury had said that the Treasury could not enforce the Bill, that they would think it unwise in the interests of public economy to enforce it. The Treasury, he should have thought, existed for the people of England.
''Is there no Latin word for tea? Upon my soul, if I had known that I would have let the vulgar stuff alone.''