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The consumption of spirits fell from 16 litres per inhabitant, in 1833 and the few following years, to 10 litres in 1843, the number of stills being reduced from 9,727, in 1833, to 1,387 in 1840.
2. Manufacture of Brandy since 1845. During the forties important reforms were introduced with regard to the manufacture, as well as to the sale, of brandy.
As regards the manufacture, a law of 1845 put a definitive stop to the small country stills, prescribing a minimum limit for all stills. In 1848 an important reform was introduced relating to the manufacture tax, which had formerly been imposed on the stills, but was now laid directly on the output. Since this time the Government officials have kept strict supervision over the distilleries. The production tax, which in 1849 was 13} öre (nearly 2d.) per litre at 50 per cent. of alcohol, has been constantly, and by considerable degrees, increased—being thus raised many times between 1850 and 1890—in 1894, from 80 to 95, and in 1895 to 120 öre (1s. 4d.) per litre.! The aim of this increase is, to a great extent, to make the price of brandy higher, and thereby to diminish its consumption. (The revenue from the brandy tax is about one-tenth of the State revenues from taxes of all kinds, and from customs.)
The law now regulating the manufacture of brandy is dated June 28th, 1887 (with several supplementary acts). This law directs in plain terms that the said liquor may only be manufactured in distilleries placed under public control; the minimum capacity for a still is fixed at 100 litres.
The number of stills which, as mentioned above, had decreased from 9,727 in 1833, to 1,387 in 1840, was further reduced to 40 in 1850, the production being limited to factories only. In 1865 the number of brandy factories was 27, at present it is 23.
The annual production of brandy was reduced from 3 million gallons about the year 1843, to about 11 million since 1860.
3. The Sale of Brandy since 1845. The development of the regulation of the sale of spirits and the bar trade in the same during the last sixty years is mainly marked by three important laws, viz., those of 1845, of 1871, and of 1894. All these laws, by means of increasingly narrow restrictions and partly by prohibitions, aim at the reduction, or at any rate the regulation, of the consumption of spirits, in order to diminish, and as far as possible to abolish, intoxication,
1 For brandy afterwards exported this tax is refunded. In the years 1896-68, the export has been very considerable.
The law of 1845 introduces the system of special licence, and authorises the establishment of local prohibition in the country.
The law of 1871 authorises the introduction of the company system in the towns.
The principle of the law of 1894 is: company monopoly or prohibition (local option by plebiscites).
a. The Law of 1845: Special Licence and (in the country) Local Option
Before the passing of the law of 1845, merchants had the right to sell brandy, retail as well as wholesale ; this law provided that the retail sale should be limited to special licenses to persons not dealing in general merchandise. In the towns the council and representatives should determine how many persons at most might be granted retail and bar trade licenses in spirits. In the country no license of these kinds might be granted to any one, unless the local governing body (which is elected by the people) had recommended the establishment of such places.
In consequence of these and other provisions of the law of 1845 (e.g. a consumption tax), combined with the national interest in the promotion of sobriety, most of the bar trade and retail selling places in the country were soon abolished, and in the towns the number of such places was considerably reduced, viz., from 1,101, or one per 138 inhabitants, in 1847, when the law came into force, to 500 (one per 591 inhabitants) in 1870, the year before the beginning of the company system, under which the number has been further reduced ; in 1893 it was 227, and in 1898 only 143 (of which 26 were only selling places, not bars), i.e., one per 3,900 inhabitants.
The wholesale trade-in quantities of 9 gallons and over-was, however, unaffected by the above-mentioned provisions of the law of 1845.
b. Introduction of the Company System.
The law of 1845 may be said to form the basis for the Norwegian System, as far as the bar and retail trade in spirits are concerned. To this frame, in 1871, the next joint was added, viz., legal authority to the municipalities to grant some or all of the above-mentioned brandy licenses to companies that bind themselves to devote their profits to objects of public benefit. This system had at that time already been carried on for some time in several cities in Sweden, whence it has obtained the world-known name of the Gothenburg System.?
1 Merchants established before 1845 have, however, retained their rights, unless expropriated according to a law of 1881 (now the brandy law of 1894, sec. 17), against compensation.
· The system was introduced in the city of Gothenburg in 1865, being recom
The first Norwegian brandy company (“ Braendeviñs-samlag') was established in Christiansand the same year that the law permitted it (1871). In 1876, the number of brandy companies in Norway was 20, in 1881, 41, and in 1889, 51, or in almost all towns where brandy traffic was carried on.
In 1895, the companies were in possession of a monopoly of bar and retail trade of spirits in all the said 51 towns, except Christiania and Drammen. In Christiania, 4 licenses for the retail sale of spirits, founded on the legislation prior to 1845, are still in existence, while nearly all bar trade was monopolised by the company on its establishment in 1885, a number of older rights being redeemed at great expense. In Drammen the company bad the monopoly in 1896. On the other hand, the company at Skien being discontinued after January 1, 1896, two former licensees (widows) have recommenced their business and carry on a joint retail sale of brandy, employing the former company manager, and devoting part of their profits to the public benefit.
One material defect in the Norwegian system was that until 1896 the company monopoly was not extended to quantities of 40 litres (about 9 gallons) and over; the sale of these quantities not infrequently led to abuse, as mentioned in the American Fifth Special Report of the Commissioner of Labour, page 242, and the Report of the Commission appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to investigate the Gothenburg and the Norwegian systems (House. ... No. 192, Commonwealth of Massachusetts), pages 137–138. The extent of the wholesale traffic has been calculated in different manners, and amounted at least to one-third, possibly to over a half of the whole consumption. By the law of 1894, however, the direct wholesale trade has been reduced to a minimum. mended by a committee appointed to inquire into the causes of pauperism. The little town Falun had, however, established the same system as early as 1850.
There are some differences between the Swedish and the Norwegian company system ; thus it may be mentioned that in Sweden the bar trade in brandy is partly ip connection with eating-houses for workmen, and that the profits of the Swedish companies are divided between the city, the “landsting,” the public treasury and agricultural societies (for Norway see page 106). The wholesale limit in Sweden, as also in Norway after 1894, is 250 litres.
In this connection it may be mentioned that, in 1855, Sweden, having during a long period of rather unrestrained manufacture of brandy, suffered to a still greater extent than Norway from the evil of intoxication, introduced reforms of a kind similar to those of Norway in 1815, in accordance with which most of the Swedish country districts soon forbade all non-privileged brandy traffic. (For particulars see the American 5th special Report of the Commissioner of Labour, pages 13-38, quoted from a work by the Swedish Dr. Wieselgren). The number of Swedish abstainers is about 200,000.
Finland has also adopted the company system for most of its towns (through local option prohibition also may be established), and for its country districts an almost absolute prohibition of the brandy traffic.
1 A Bill, “ To establish the Norwegian System of selling intoxicating liquors,” was laid before the Senate of Massachusetts in 1894, but was not passed.
For particulars as to the company system, the reader may be referred to the above-mentioned American reports. It may, however, be here mentioned that all sale and bar trade by the companies is only to take place for cash, and that the managers have no profit from the sale of spirits. In the Massachusetts report, pages 149, 150, mention is also made of an attack on the Norwegian system (in 1893) by the British Consul-General at Christiania at that time, and replied to by Mr. H. E. Berner, on behalf of the Norwegian Home Department.
The present main regulations relating to the companies are mentioned in the following section.
c. The existing system—in the country still prohibition ; in the towns,
as far as possible, either company monopoly or prohibition (plebiscites).
The law now in force governing the sale of spirits and bar trade in the same, bears the date of July 24, 1894 (with a supplementary Act of 1897). This law is another important step in the direction of the restriction and control of the brandy traffic, which has been the aim of the State powers for more than half a century. The most important changes, as compared with the former legislation, are, on the one hand, a considerable extension of the company monopoly, especially by the raising of the limit for the retail sale from 40 to 250 litres, and on the other hand, that the existence of the company in each town is made dependent on the votes of all male and female inhabitants of upwards of twenty-five years of age.
In the country districts, prohibition, established by the local option system introduced in 1845, continues to prevail; at present only 15 spirit licenses are in existence, 12 of these having been granted before 1895, and 3 according to the law of 1894, which only permits bar trade licenses for sanatoriums, hydropathic establishments, and hotels (to visitors), while it entirely prohibits the establishment of new sale places.
In the towns the brandy traffic, if permitted at all, is on the principle of monopoly by companies whose bye-laws are approved of by the local board, and sanctioned by the king. The appointment of managers under the companies is subject to the approval of local authorities. Shareholders in companies must not receive higher interest tha 5 per cent. (a regulation previously voluntarily fixed). Sixty-five per cent. of the profits shall be paid to the State, after the year 1900, the State placing it in a special fund, 15 per cent. to the community, and the rest to abstinence societies and other institutions and societies for public benefit, in the town and its neighbourhood. (For the years 1896-1900 transition provisions.) Before the above-mentioned approval of the bye-laws of a brandy company is given, it shall be decided, by the votes of all men and women of upwards of 25 years of age living in the town in question, whether the establishment or continued working of the brandy company shall be allowed. Electors who do not vote are considered to be voting for the existing state of things. The votes are binding for five years, the same period for which the bye-laws were also formerly sanctioned.
1 But to no object which the municipality is obliged to take care of.
In accordance with these provisions, during the years 1895-1898, the abolition of the companies has been voted for in 23 towns with a total of about 125,000 inhabitants (among them being Stavanger, Fredrikstad, Skien and Arendal), and their retention in 22 towns with a total of about 210,000 inhabitants (e.g., Bergen, Trondhjem, Drammen, Christiansand and Fredrikshald ). In Christiania and 5 small towns (together about 220,000 inhabitants) the votes are to be taken in 1899.
This popular voting is interesting in several respects. In the first place, it shows the strength of the abstinence movement and the active interest of the people in the promotion of sobriety and the struggle against intoxication; this interest is evinced not least among women, so many of whom have suffered from the inebriety of their husbands or other relatives. Of 155,000 inhabitants of upwards of 25 years of age in the voting towns, nearly half have met in the voting-rooms, most of them for the purpose of banishing spirits from the town. (Non-voters have, in these cases, been considered as voting for the maintenance of the companies.) The interest and excitement at such plebiscites is said to have been greater than at political elections.
In the next place, it must be observed that the number of votes against the company system has steadily decreased in proportion to the number of company advocates, the percentage of the adversaries of the companies being, in 1895, 59.3; in 1896, 52-6; in 1897, 42.2; and in 1898, 41.2.
In 1897 a new brandy company has been allowed by plebiscite (and in 1898 established) in two small towns formerly without companies, but with brandy traffic. (In 1896 the establishment of a new brandy company was rejected.)
One important reason for the fact that the votes of 1897 and 1898 were more favourable to the company system than before, is, that the partial replacing of companies by prohibition does not seem, on the whole, to have been attended with good consequences only. In some prohibition towns, indeed, the condition of sobriety is said to have improved, and in Norway generally the brandy consumption has decreased, but in other prohibition towns the condition is said to have
1 The companies of Bergen and of Fredrikshald would, however, have been abolished, if a number of votes had not been rejected, owing to informalities in the voting.
2 In 1895, out of 14,100 prohibition votes, about 9,000 were women's—two thirds of all the women above twenty-five years of age in the voting towns of that year.