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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

The Drink Bill For 1878

The Drink Bill For 1878.

To the Editor of the Rechabite Magazine.

Dear Sir,—The Excise returns are to hand this morning, whereby we are enabled to calculate the consumption of intoxicating liquors for the year 1878.

The following table gives particulars of the various kinds of intoxicating liquors consumed together with the money expended thereon. It also gives the consumption for 1877:— Gallons. 1878. 1877. British £ £ spirits (a) 29.358,715, at 20.s= 29,358,715 29 888,176 Foreign spirits (b) 10,438,637, at 24s= 12,636,364. 12,742,277 Wine (c) 16,272,295, at 18s= 14,645,066 15,904,146 Bushels Cwt. of malt. Beer: Sugar used (d) 1,128,226= 4,813,760 Beer: Malt used (e) . . . . . . . . . . 57,259,393 62,073,153 1878. 1877. Gallons. £ £ Equal to 1,117,316,754, at l/6=83,798,756..81,722,632 British wines, cider, &c., (estimated) 17,500,000, at 2/0= 1,750,000.. 1,750,000 Total.. £142,188,900 142,007,231

From these returns it will be seen that in 1878, with all the terrible depression that prevailed in trade, the money spent upon intoxicating liquors was £181,670 more than in 1877.

It will also be noted that whilst wine and spirits—supposed to be drunk mainly by the upper and middle classes—have fallen off nearly two million sterling, the consumption of beer, which is generally allowed to be the beverage of the working classes, has increased more than two million sterling.

During the last seven years the total expenditure upon intoxicating liquors in the United Kingdom has been' £987,320,071.

In the year 1860 Mr. Gladstone, avowedly to lessen the deplorable intemperance which then prevailed, introduced his Wine Bill. It may therefore be interesting to compare the consumption of intoxicating liquors now with what it was at that time. For this purpose I will take the 7 years ending 1863, and compare them with the 7 years just ended:—
1857 £92,319,147
1858 88,148 335
1859 92,892,557
1860 86,897,683
1861 91,942,107
1862 88,867,563
1863 92,058,185
1872 £131,601,402
1873 140,014,712
1874 141,342,997
1875 142,876,609
1876 147,288,760
1877 142,007,231
1878 142,188,900

From the above it will be seen that the increase in the expenditure upon intoxicating liquors during the seven years ending 1878, page 55 as compared with the seven years ending 1863, was £351,165,094, being an increase of over 55 per cent.

The population of the United Kingdom in 1863 was 29,433,918, and in 1878 33,799,276, being an increase of less than 15 per cent, in population, as compared with an increase of 55 per cent, in the consumption of drink.

The entire value of all our exports for the four years ending 1878 was £815,000,000, being £171,000,000 less than the money which the nation spent on drink during the seven years just ended. If to the drink expenditure we add the indirect cost and losses resulting therefrom, it would increase the drink bill by at least £100,000,000 per annum, and it would show a national loss far exceeding the total of all our foreign trade.

At the present time the anxiety of merchants and manufacturers is as to where they shall find a market for their goods. Efforts are being made to open out Africa, and to increase our trade in other directions. Would it not be well to turn our attention to our home markets as well, for when by our habits of drinking we squander, directly and indirectly, a greater sum than the value of all our foreign trade, we have a prompt remedy for the stagnation in our own hands?

The enormous burden of the drink expenditure is one that in the face of the world's competition we cannot continue to carry, and especially as it is accompanied by a deterioration of the workman, which makes the burden all the greater and outside competition all the more possible.

I will not further trespass upon your space, except to say that everyone who wishes to preserve our national status will be anxious to help all efforts for redeeming the country from the foul blot of intemperance, which paralyses its trade, corrupts its morals, and degrades its population to an extent that is beyond conception.

—I remain, yours truly,

Wm. Hoyle.

Claremont, Bury,