I love the House of Commons. No, not for the bad jokes and childish behaviour. For all the useful information in its debates and reports. The article below is a good example. Which has provided me with an elusive statistic.
Though admittedly a good part of debate as reported is made up of bad jokes. Note the presence of Lady Astor, American born, teetotaller who was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons and the person responsible for raising the drinking age to 18.
"MERITS OF BRITISH AND FOREIGN LAGER BEER
Lively Debate In House of Commons
DUTY ON TEA
During the committee stage of THE FINANCE BILL IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, YESTERDAY, THERE WAS A LIVELY DEBATE ON THE MERITS OF BRITISH AND FOREIGN LAGER BEER ON THE CLAUSE WHICH IMPOSES A TAX ON THE IMPORTED BEVERAGE.
It was opened by Mr Benson (Lab., Chesterfield), who complained that this tax was merely a protection for the brewing industry increase their already large profits.
Sir Hugh Seely (L., Berwick-on-Tweed) agreed that the tax was pure protection for the brewing trade.
"Everyone knows,'' he said, "that lager beer is produced better abroad than in this country."
Lady Astor confessed that she could not tell which beer was best.
"If there is one thing in the world that we want to-day," she said, "it is not drink. If people have got to drink intoxicants the lighter beer is better, because if lighter beer were drunk, and less of it, it might decrease the number of road accidents."
Sir William Davison (C., Kensington S.) confessed that from time to time he drank lager beer.
"When I have glass of this foreign beer," he added, always feel a kind of guilt that I not supporting home industry. Now I shall be able to have half-pint or pint of this beer without feeling guilty." (Laughter).
NOT GOOD FOR HIM
Lady Astor: If he could be persuaded that it was better for the country drink milk would Sir William drink milk instead?
Sir William: I am very fond of milk and would like to drink it, but it is not good lor me. (Laughter).
Mr Bellenger (Lab., Bassetlaw) thought that foreign lager beer was very good.
"But," he added, it is probably better beer when it is drank abroad than when it is drunk at home."
Sir John Wardlaw-Milne (C., Kidderminster) said that the argument that the brewers were now making large profits might be an argument for cheaper beer, but it was no argument for drinking foreign beer. This tax might be one way of proving whether not we could produce lager beer this country good that brewed abroad.
Col. Gretton (C., Burton) pointed out that at present only six breweries in this country produced lager beer and the annual production was only about 100,000 barrels. Perhaps this tax might increase the production this year.
STRENGTH OF BEERS
Mr Chamberlain said that while the production of lager beer in this country amounted in 1935 to 114,000 barrels, that of other beers was 23,000,000 barrels. Apparently Lady Astor thought that light beers were less likely cause that cerebral disturbance which she set down as the cause road accidents.
"But," said Mr Chamberlain, "If she will try for herself the effect of lager beer and other beers she will find that the alcoholic strength less in the case of lager beer than the case of other beers."
It was because producers of lager beer had been put in a prejudiced position owing to the fact that they were not able to make the application to the Import Duties Advisory Committee which other industries were that he had had to make this proposal.
He saw no reason why the industry should be excluded from the general rule which applied to other imports.
The Brewers' Society had kept their promise and had very much increased their purchases of British barley. No doubt they would consider themselves just as much covered by this promise as the production of lager beer as in that of other beer.
Members need not be afraid that this would add unduly to brewers' profits. The clause was carried by 241 votes to 124. "
Western Daily Press - Wednesday 10 June 1936, page 12.
See the statistic I mean? The quantity of Lager brewed in the UK. Just 114,000 barrels in 1935. I hope assume that figure is right. Because the one for total beer production isn't. My source (Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 50) gives it as 20,864,814. Using my figure, I make Lager just 0.55% of total beer production. I thought it might have been even lower than that because in 1960 Lager still accounted for just 1% of consumption. Or about 450,000 barrels.
But what about imported Lager? Good question I happen to know the import figures for a year or two earlier:
1932-3 22,486 standard barrels
1933-4 32,480 standard barrels
(Source: Brewers' Journal 1934, page 324.)
Adjusting those to more useful bulk barrels (assuming a gravity of imported Lager of 1048), I make that 25,765 barrels in 1932-33 and 37,217 barrels in 1933-34. Of course, that's all imports from the Continent, but it's safe to assume the vast majority was Lager. Assuming all British-brewed Lager stayed in the country (not actually true) that's still less than 150,000 barrels in total.
The number of Lager brewers in Britain is handy to know, too. Six of them, eh? Let's see, there's Arrol, Tennent, Barclay Perkins, the Red Tower Lager Brewery in Manchester, the Wrexham Lager Brewery and Jeffrey of Edinburgh. That's an impressive three out of six for Scotland.
I'll be returning to the statistics of British Lager brewing as I unearth more.