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SIR J ALLEN'S, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9582, 9 April 1919
SIR J ALLEN'S
VIEWS ON PROHIBITION.
NO ANXIETY ABOUT REVENUE.
INCREASE IN PRODUCTION CAN BE EXPECTED,.
LIQUOR IS A NATIONAL MENAGE
PROHIBITION ESSENTIAL FOR EFFICIENCY.
(Press Association Telegram.) WELLINGTON, April 6. A few days ago Sir' James Allen wrote to friends in the Bruce electorate, giving his private views on the liquor question, and at their suggestion, he has now handed these views on to the Press for publication. Sir James wrote:—
"The issue to be decided on the 10th of this month is so important that I feel compelled, to place before you my views on the liquor question, arrived at after, many years of public life, and especially owing to my experience since the war began. I do not write as a member of the Government, but as a citizen who is entitled to give expression to his opinions, in the hope that good may result. "There are two arguments used in favour of continuance of the liquor traffic: (1) loss of Customs revenue; and (2) interference with the liberty of the individual. I have no anxiety about the revenue. The Customs revenue from alcoholic liquor and beer during the last ten years has averaged £8(57,ti96 per annum. For the year 1918 it amounted to £816,828. There are several sources from which to make this good:—(a) Customs revenue from dutiable goods imported in larger quantities owing to the expenditure of an additional 1 tuur or hve innlions ; ana probably more, that was previously spent on liquor being diverted to other channels; (b) additional revenue from incomes which will be greater because of increased earnings due to greater etficiency, and an expenditure of the large sum of money now spent on liquor. From personal knowledge of the coal industry, 1 am in a position to state that, after pay day, there is a falling off in production. I am informed that this is true of other industries also. (c). The taxation sources of revenue indicated in (a) and (b) will, in my opinion, be ample to meet the loss of Customs revenue from liquor.
"Interference with liberty appears to be the chief argument used uy thoso in favour of the continuance of the use of intoxicating liquor. There are many who enjoy a glass of wine and probably more who prize liberty to do as they like within the bounds of the lq,w. I can enjoy a glass of wizie, and liberty which the law allows is dear to me, but I am willing to give up pleasure and part with a portion of my freedom, in order to remove from my fellow man a temwtation which lie cannot resist, and which is a menace to him.
"The evidence which appeals to me is: (1) The evil effects on those who indulge, and' the ruination, in many cases, of family life. It is not my purpose to comment on the general evil effects which are apparent, but there are sad stories which the public do not know of. During the war it has been my duty to deal with separation allowances to wives, and especially to wives living away from their husbands. In maiiy cases drink was the cause of the break-up of the homes. By way of contrast 1 draw a comparison from my own experience. Some years, ago certain coal miners moved to a no-license district to take up farming. When visiting the district a few years later, I had a meal at the home of one of thesß men. Round the table sat a happy family. The district was somewhat isolated, and I asked the wife if she felt lonely, and whether she did not at times wish to be back at her own home. Her reply was: 'There is no puke here.' 'Puke' was the shortened name of an hotel near the coalmine from which the family had moved, ' It needs little imagination to understand the full meaning of the wife's answer. (2) The menace to some of the returned soldiers, both fit and medically unfit. It is unfair to discriminate between the soldier and the civilian. The closing of hotel bars when a transport arrives alongside a wharf, and six o'clock closing, apply to soldier and civilian alike. AVlll any civilian argue that he is not prepared to put up with tliese curtailments of his liberty in the interests of the soldiers and their kith and kin. These curtailments of the personal liberty of the soldier and the civilian have not in many cases prevented the supply of too much liquor to the returned men. No one with eyes to see can deny this. So-called friends—not real friends—of the soldiers have found means to evade the regulations and the Act, the result often being heartrending. Affection and time will, it is hoped, repair sad hearts, but is there not a clear call to prevent such things in future, even if it does demand some sacrifice ? Necessity did, however, demand some discrimination, which has taken the form of regulations to prevent the supply of liquor to troopi trains and to sick and wounded soldiers, whilst undergoing hospital treatment. Under the present law this discrimination could not be avoided. On the lUth of April there will be an opportunity to get rid of this discrimination, and to make effective regulations which were devised to protect the soldier and to assist the sick and wounded to a speedy and more certain recovery. (3) Immorality and venereal disease —I do not desire to comment on these unsavoury subjects myself.' A British Royal Commission not long ago reported on venereal disease and I quote from its final report:—'Relation between alcohol and venereal disease. —Abundant evidence was given as to the intimate relation between alcohol and venereal 1 diseases. Alcohol renders a man liable to yield to temptations which he might otherwise resist, and aggravate the disease by diminishing the resistance of the individual. The facts point to the conclusion that a decrease in the use of alcohol will be an important factor in diminishing the prevalence of venereal diseases. General conclusions (page 65)), —Our evidence^ tends to show that communication of the disease is frequently due to indulgence in intoxicants, and there is no doubt that the growth of temperance among the population would help to bring about amelioration of the very serious conditions which our enquiry has revealed.' (4) National efficiency.—This aspect of the question has been fully discussed, and nothing further need be added" except to ask the questions, 'Why have America and Canada become dry ?' The an-
SIR J ALLEN'S, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9582, 9 April 1919
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