Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Treating, the Long Pull and Cameron advisor

Cameron's 'nudge' advisor, Chicago academic Richard Thaler, is probably completely unfamiliar with the Liquor Control Orders introduced by the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) of almost a century ago, yet has managed to arrive at exactly the same solution to binge drinking as did Lloyd George's government - the banning of buying rounds of drinks.

The Telegraph reports that Thaler recommends that groups of friends out drinking should instead 'run a tab' that would result in each individual paying only for the drinks they had themselves consumed. Clearly this would only work with certain groups and in certain establishments. Lloyd George was more proscriptive. Drinks had to be paid for when ordered - no credit. And buying a drink for another person - 'treating' - was also illegal and punishable by up to six months imprisonment with hard labour. It applied to prohibit even men buying a drink for their wives; each had to order and pay separately. The 'long pull', the over-provision of a regulated quantity of beer or ale, the 1915 equivalent of two-shots-for-one, was similarly banned. The wording of the Orders was comprehensive;
No person shall either by himself or by any servant or agent sell or supply any intoxicating liquor to any person in any licensed premises or in any club for consumption on the premises unless the same is ordered or paid for by the person so supplied; nor shall any person order or pay for or lend or advance any money to pay for any intoxicating liquor wherewith any other person has been or is to be supplied for consumption on the premises; nor shall any person consume in any licensed premises or club any intoxicating liquor which any other person has ordered or paid for or lent or advanced money to pay for.
Did it work? Yes, in a way. It helped to prevent lighter drinkers in a group from being trapped in a 'race' with beer gluttons, and it's always the gluttonous drinker in a group who benefits from rounds. However it didn't help at all the person whom Cameron would like to target - the gluttonous drinker. It stayed on the books until the 1960s - or at least the 'No Treating' notices survived until then. Widely breached by men entertaining women, whether their wives or not, it fell into desuetude and like the law about bicycle bells was forgotten even by policemen.  


Anonymous said...

An interesting but wholly uneforceable law. Laws have to "make sense" to the enforcer and the public and also, the benefits must be very clear. Think Rocks and Rivers. Throw a rock into a river. Does the river suddenly stop? No of course not, it just finds a way round the rock in the blink of an eye. So it is with useless laws, people find a way of circumventing them, and they do so collectively and thus the populous do not appear to be criminals. The unenforceable rule, then falls into disrepair.

Suddenly I can think of a lot of useless laws, rules and regulations brought in by Labour that could and should fall into disrepair. Hopefully someone with sense will hasten their demise (but don't bank on it).

Coney Island

Rossa said...

May explain the Govt bringing in new, smaller measures in pubs such as the Schooner.


Edward Spalton said...

Another Lloyd George innovation was the Carlisle state brewery scheme. (There were large munitions factories near Carlisle and workers were tending to over indulge themselves with consequent effects on production).

I can remember that scheme being finally laid to rest - I think by the Thatcher government but it may have been earlier.
It just shows how regulations persist when the need for them has long evaporated.