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Methylated Spirits

Volume 161: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1923

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asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been called to the increase in the number of cases of intoxication due to the consumption of methylated spirits; and if he will consider what steps can be taken to render this class of spirits non-potable?

I have been asked to take this question. The matter is one which has received the attention of my Department for some years in connection with convictions for drunkenness, of which the cases believed to be due to the drinking of methylated spirits have shown a tendency to increase. It is not a matter as to which I have any powers, but I shall continue to study it in consultation with the proper authorities, in the hope of finding preventive measures. I understand, however, that it has not been found practicable to make the spirits more unpalatable than they are at present.

If the Government have no power to deal with this matter, can the right hon. Gentleman say who has power? Is he aware that only last week one constable at a London police court brought forward four of these charges of drunkenness in four days, and as there has been an enormous increase in the number of these cases, if he has not the power. can he say if there is any Government Department that has power to deal with them?

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that a reduction in the taxation on spirits is likely to reduce the consumption of this spirit?

Is it not true that the papers generally put it that methylated spirits are only consumed in countries where there is prohibition?