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100 years ago: Ban on ‘beer in the bottle’?

16 February 2024

February 15th, 1924.

THE Bill for the more thorough protection of children, introduced as a private Member’s Measure by Mr C. G. Ammon and other Labour ministers, so far as its principal proposals are concerned, demands the support of all Christian people. Common sense justifies the clauses that make illegal the marriages of boys and girls under sixteen, that ensure drastic punishment for evil women who debauch young boys, that prevent boys and girls under sixteen leaving the country for the purpose of performing in public. The proposal that children under ten should not be regarded as competent to commit crime is a step further on the path of humanitarianism. We have, however, doubts about some other of the clauses. It is, of course, bad for young people to smoke cigarettes, but we regard with suspicion the proposal that policemen and policewomen should have the power to stop any boy or girl whom they meet in the street and search them to see if they have cigarettes or cigarette papers concealed in their pockets. To do this thoroughly would mean a large addition to the police force, and even then boys would contrive to smoke. Children ought not to drink beer, but to fine a mother five pounds for giving her baby one sip of beer seems almost farcically severe. Such a law would be difficult to enforce and would certainly lead to tale-bearing and many similar evils. Most women love their babies, and education in mothercraft is a far better protection against “beer in the bottle” than either the policeman or the policewoman. Over-legislation is an evil, and generally defeats its own end.

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