Saturday, 6 January 2018

Over-taxed Beer

One of the effects of WW I was to turn beer into a highly-taxed producr. A situation which still endures today.

Obviously, the brewing industry like to complain about the level of taxation. This article is basically one lone whinge. Though, when you compare the taxation on other commodities, he does have a point. And there was a reason beer was picked out for special punishment: temperance bastards. Who still had considerable influence in some political parties.

"Effort Ought to be Made to Save this Industry"

In April of last year, Mr. Nevllle Chamberlain, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated it was his opinion that beer was overtaxed. That statement contained the germ of the whole of the position regarding the beer trade, declared Sir Edgar Sanders, director of the Brewers' Society, when speaking at a luncheon of the Fellowship of Freedom and Reform at the Savoy Hotel, London, yesterday.

The comparison of the taxation on beer before the war and to-day showed that it had increased out of all proportion to any other taxation. While the taxation was 7s. 9d. per standard barrel before the war it was now 114s., nearly 15 times as much.

Compared with other taxation, the increase was stupendous. The tax on tobacco had been increased three times, on cocoa half as much again. Coffee was unchanged. Tea was actually one-fifth less.

The result was reflected in the consumption of these beverages. The consumption of beer had fallen by more than one-half, tobacco had increased by one-half, tea by more than one-third , coffee by one-fifth , and cocoa by two-thirds.

The beer consumer-was traditionally without a spokesman, but he had a habit of making himself unpleasant when he had an opportunity at election times of saying that he thought that he had been unjustly treated.

For many years beer had produced nearly one-tenth of the whole of the national revenue. At the same time, sinco 1925 receipts for beer duties had never reached the Budget estimate. Speaking generally, it might be said that for every 3d of beer to-day, 3d. was added for tax , making the price 6d. At the rate at which the beer consumption was falling as the result of penal taxation, it could not on the present scale of duty hold its place as a revenue producer for long.

A real effort ought to be made by Parliament now to save this purely British industry, and to keep alive a remunerative form of taxation rather than wait until it was killed by the burden of the present taxation.

The Chancellor estimated that for the year ending March 31 1933, the total yield in beer duty would be £80,000,000. From official figures already given it was clear that the yield would not be much above £74,000,000. In consequence, the Budget would be thrown out by £6,000,000 on this head alone.

If it could be brought home to the public that it was bad national business to tax beer so heavily that its consumption was falling away to such an alarming extent it would be so much easier, for the Chancellor to formulate in the Budget that policy which he evidently wished to pursue. If the Budget contained a bold reduction in the present duties it would be the first step towards the re-establishment of beer as our national drink. Unless an adjustment was made by means of which beer could be reduced by a penny a pint, we were going to hear a great deal of discontent.

Mr Frank Whitbread said, the Government suffered from an unfortunate delusion that the purse of the brewer was obviously bottomless, but the brewer could not continue in the future to carry the retail licensed victualler as he had so often in the past.

The report from the Prison Commissioners, he said, supported the view that our expert criminals were almost invariably teetotallers. Why should the Government desire to give preferential treatment to criminals? Criminals were a rapidly increasing body, while the community of beer drinkers were decreasing. It was clear-that somehow the power of the beer drinker should be increased and that of the criminal should be checked."
The Scotsman - Thursday 16 March 1933, page 13.
 This article was written at an interesting moemt in time, just before the 1933 budget. Where the disastrous tax increase of 1931 was reversed. The tax increase wasn't just disastrous for brewers and drinkers, it was disastrous fron the government, too. Because rather than increasing, the revenue gathered fell.

We'' be looking at the numbers for tax and revenue next.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I love the subtext at the end; creating more tea drinkers will create more criminals and thus more crime.
The more beer is drunk, the less crime will be a problem.
Love that logic!