James Nicholls / “Central Control: War and Nationalism” / The Politics of Alcohol / 2009

David Lloyd George, UK Prime Minister 1916-1922

1906 Liberals won landslide general election victory. 1908, Asquinth (UK PM 1908-1916) introduced Licensing Bill. Restricted licenses to 1 per 1,000 inhabitants, 14-year time limit on compensation for suppressed license. Local option for new licenses, ban on women working in pubs. Bill passed in radical-minded commons, scuppered by Tory-dominated house of Lords. 1909 constitutional crisis, unelected Lords refused to confirm Lloyd George’s (UK PM 1916-1922) “People’s Budget.” 1911 Upper House power curtailed, 1911 Parliament Act. Socialist temperance campaigners identified drinks trade as industry that conspired to disenfranchise and exploit forking people. 1908 Last Astor’s Children’s Act included section banning younger than 14s from licensed premises. 1910, Lloyd George’s Budget passed with taxes on the drinks trade. August 1914, weeks after hostilities with Germany, DORA passed, Defense Of the Realm Act, allowing emergency legislation. Gave naval and military authorities power to set closing hours in and around defended harbors. Rules controlling drinks for servicemen. October 1914, Lord Kitchener appealed to citizens to avoid treating servicemen to drink (see “The New Army. Appeal to the Public” by Lord Kitchener, Times, 25 October, 1914, p.4). February 1915, at Bangor, Lloyd George said “Drink is doing us more damage in the war than all the German submarines put together.” Previously, 1907, had said, liquor traffic was “a greater handicap to our trade, commerce, and industry than all the tariffs of the world put together.” One contemporary said Bangor speech “made history… It changed the perspective of the question… From the morrow of the speech, for nearly three months, the drink question was the main subject of the debate in the Press and in private circles.” Memorandum to create Central Control Board, May 1915. Britain’s two key allies had acted: Russia had banned vodka, and France had banned absinthe. By next July, in ten shipbuilding areas, open hours had dropped by up to 2/3, treating was banned, buying drink on credit was banned, spirits were sold diluted. By 1916, the Central Control Board orders were in force across virtually whole country; entire country was militarized (total war). The constructive approach of the CCB was unique. Enfield Lock, North London, 1916, CCB at Royal Small Arms Factory lacks proper canteen, so CCB buys four nearest pubs. Repeated on a large scale, April 1916 around Cromarty Firth in Scotland Coast. July 1916, CCB in Gretna converts post office into a pub. Second = London Tavern. Third = in Longtown. Gretna Tavern pub built. The Globe. Gracie’s Banking, with restaurant, bowling-greens, billiard room, cinema. CCB board consisted of temperance people, also two of countries leading brewers, Sydney Nevile and William Waters Butlers. Excluded people sympathetic to the Alliance. Allowed for unique combination of restriction and development. Hearkened to public improvement model, 20 years prior by Bishop of Chester.


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