Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Question of Prohibition

Z760/11/13, unknown man drinking, c.1915 (Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service)
Sunday 4th February 1917: A meeting is held at the Salvation Army headquarters to consider the moral and economic arguments for prohibition during the war. The economic case focused on conserving the nation’s resources. The Rev W Haughton declared that drink was using up the nation’s food – since the war began, it had used up 3,000,000 tons of food and was using more sugar than the Army had access to. Millions of acres of land were being devoted to growing grain and barley for drink production, whilst the nation was being urged to use all vacant land to grow vegetables. Valuable grain was being destroyed for the production of drink. Much was also being preached on thriftiness so that spare cash could be donated to the war effort, yet an average of £3,500,000 per week was being spent in public houses. If only more people could follow in the footsteps of the King, Lloyd George and Kitchener, who had banned drink from their tables for the duration of the war.

Others highlighted the moral and spiritual arguments, including soldiers being affected by drink when off duty and men being prevented from rehabilitation into society by the effects of drink. A resolution was carried asking the government to prohibit the sale of alcohol during the rest of the war, until 6 months following the declaration of peace.

Source: Bedford Record 6/2/1917

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