WALES: ITS POLITICS AND ECONOMICS IT is, of course, evident that just as the development of our educational system is essential to intellectual efficiency in every phase, the physical well being and individual economic independence of the people are similarly vital to the life, usefulness, and prosperity of the nation. Without pronouncing dogmatically upon the vexed question whether intemperance is, in the main, the out- come of unsatisfactory economic conditions, or whether, on the other hand, poverty is largely the result of intem- perance, the existence in Wales, as elsewhere, both of destitution and of the excessive use of alcoholic liquors is undeniable, and their interaction and co-relation equally obvious. It is somewhat surprising and suggestive of some lack of practical acumen in the conduct of the movement for Temperance Reform in Wales, that no serious attempt appears ever to have been made to obtain reliable statistics as to the precise extent and character of the consumption of intoxicants in Wales-information always available with regard to Scotland and Ireland. While taking the country as a whole, the connection between the amount of liquor consumed and the aggregate convictions for drunkenness is tolerably clear, the practice of the police and magistracy varies so widely in different localities that the convictions cannot be regarded as an entirely conclusive guide, as is indicated by the following figures Convictions for Drunkenness per 10,000 population :· Boroughs. Counties. Cardiff 8.89 Glamorgan 87.93 Swansea 43.69 Newport 64.76 Monmouth 22.95 Carmarthen 74.36 Carmarthen 46.88 Carnarvon 125.00 Carnarvon 31.31 Cardigan 136.95 Cardigan 16.29 The relative degree of insobriety obtaining respectively in Cardiff, Swansea, and Glamorgan are most assuredly not accurately represented by the foregoing figures. In 1913, the figures for England and Wales respectively were as under:- Convictions Per Population for 10,000 in 1911. Drunkenness. Population. England 33,649,571 176,696 52.50 Wales 2,420,921 12,187 50.77 This would, of course, suggest that there is no material difference between the habits in this respect of the two countries-probably a very mistaken conclusion. The prosecutions for drunkenness during the same year are, however, stated to have been 195 per 10,000 in Scotland, and 145 in Ireland. That very wide differences of custom exist in the United Kingdom is also very clear from the following details of III. the average consumption of spirits in the United King- dom in 1913 and 1916:— England United and Wales. Scotland. Ireland. Kingdom. 1913 Proof gallons .58 1.34 .70 .67 1916 .67 1.44 .86 .77 The general average consumption of beer was in 1913, 27.82 gallons, and in 1915, 22.77 gallons and of wine in 1913, .25 gallons, and 1915, .22 gallons. It is perhaps instructive and advantageous to note the marked effect of taxation upon consumption, and here we are statistically upon much safer ground. From 1906 to 1909 the average quantity of spirits released for con- sumption in the United Kingdom per annum was 39,435,921 gallons. On the 20th April, 1909, the rates of duty were increased from lis. to 14s. 9d., the proof gallon on home made spirits, and on imported spirits in proportion. The average quantity released for consumption from 1910 to 1913 per annum was 29,629,576 gallons, being a diminu- tion of 9,806,345 gallons, or 24.88 per cent. The con- viction for drunkenness similarly decreased from in 1908 186.693 to in 1910-161,407, a diminution of 25,286, or say 13.50 per cent., consequences surely largely if not wholly attributable to the increased duty on spirits. Unhappily during the War, the consumption of spirits has again increased gravely, the figures for the two years ending March 31st, 1916 being as under 1915-34,345,434 gallons. 1916-35,597,283 with however some substantial abatement subsequently. It may not be inappropriate to indicate here how the differing forms in which alcohol is consumed, affect the contribution of the respective countries to the revenue. For the year 1911-1912, their contributions per head to Customs and Excise were as follows Custom Excise Total s. d. s. d. s. d. England and Wales 15 9 16 9 32 6 Scotland 15 1 22 10 37 1 Ireland 15 0 15 0 30 0 This discrepancy between the contribution of England and Wales and that of Scotland was brought before the Government on the 3rd March, 1914, in the following terms LIQUOR TAXATION. "Mr. John asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, seeing that Scotland contributes to Excise 22s. lOd. per head, and England and Wales only 16s. 9d. per head, he will consider the propriety in his coming budget, of so increasing the taxation upon intoxicants consumed in England and Wales, as to secure therefrom a full proportionate equivalent to the £ 1,400,000 per annum over- paid by Scotland, and whether such additional taxation would enable him to abolish the duties on sugar and tea. Mr. Lloyd George— am afraid I cannot adopt my Friend's suggestion."