A PRACTICAL TEMPERANCE POLICY THE task of temperance speakers in these days is in one sense a pleasanter one that it used to be, but it is also a more difficult one. It is pleasanter inasmuch as one feels that there is at lasta propect of a definite measure of temperance reform emerging out of all this talk. But it is more difficult because at the moment temperance reformers are at sixes and sevens as to what that measure of temperance reform should be. The danger therefore is that, like the Russians, we should be more intent on fighting one another than on facing the common enemy. Is it not possible for us in Wales to agree on a common policy which all parties can unite in pressing the Government to accept, as far as Wales is concerned ? The Free Church Council programme which was recently adopted at Llandrindod is a very fair attempt to provide common ground upon which both State purchasers and prohibitionists might meet, and it was adopted as such by both parties as represented by that organisation. The compromise embodied in this platform is that both parties agree to State Purchase for the purpose of the extinction of licenses. This policy represents a considerable advance on the part of Prohibitionists. But it must be admitted that it does not cover the whole ground. What is to happen in districts which are not ripe for com- plete suppression ? The State Purchaser's panacea for such a district as that is this Buy up the houses and carry them, or some of them, on as State taverns under better conditions in the hope that a more educated public opinion will ultimately consent to their utter suppression as drink shops, and their con- version to better purposes. To this the Prohibi- tionist replies "You want me to do evil so that good may come thereout. No, never!" And that is just where the deadlock comes in, and the only way out of the difficulty that I can see at present is by way of further development of another point which is also in the Free Church Council programme- namely that Wales be treated as an autonomous area under whatever licensing measure the Government may bring forward. The development I suggest is that if the proposed licensing measure provides for State Purchase, the clauses enabling this to be done shall be adoptive as far as Wales is concerned, and that every County *The substance of an address given by Mr. Wm. George, Criccieth, at the Annual Meetings of the North Wales Temperance Federation held at Mold, October 10th, 1917. (or such larger area as may be agreed upon) shall have the right to adopt these clauses or not, as to such areas it shall seem right. There are, as is well known, plenty of adoptive acts of this kind upon the statute book at present; and it seems to me that an experimental measure, like the one which is now supposed to be finding favour in the eyes of the Government, is pre-eminently one to which the adoptive principle might be applied. In this way each district would be enabled to work out its own salvation according to its lights and the dictates of its own conscience, whilst every district alike would receive the benefit of the provisions which any Licensing Bill is bound to contain for the further- ance of the temperance cause generally throughout the land. This plan would also stimulate a healthy feeling of rivalry in sobriety and good government as between district and district, just as now exists between wet and dry states in the United States. In the interests of peace and goodwill, as well as for the sake of the temperance cause itself, I hope some such scheme as this will be agreed upon by all parties before the time for practical action has come and gone. The only other alternative that occurs to me is that Wales should make a stern fight for a local option measure on the lines of the Temperance (Scotland) Act of 1913, under the provisions of which the people of Scotland will in June, 1920, vote either for the prohibition or the reduction of licenses in a given area without the payment of compensation in either case. The objection to this course is that the Balfour Act has given licensed houses a status in this country which they never acquired in Scot- land. But as against this it may be urged- (a) that this act never had any moral sanction in Wales. It was passed in spite of the strong and practically unanimous protests of the Welsh people. (b) The claim of Wales to separate treatment in licensing matters has already been recognised, both by the passing of the Sunday Closing Act, and the recent orders of the Central Control Board, and the advanced position taken up by Wales on this question has been pressed on the attention of Parliament by the ever renewed attempts made to get a separate Licensing Bill for Wales passed. There is, therefore, much to be said for both those alternative suggestions, and in the end it will be observed that both schemes have this much at least