The History of Leith

April 12, 2012

CONCLUDING PART OF SERMON PREACHED IN SOUTH LEITH PARISH CHURCH ON SABBATH 22ND JANUARY 1922, BY REV. WILLIAM SWAN, B.D.

CONCLUDING PART OF SERMON
PREACHED IN SOUTH LEITH PARISH CHURCH ON
SABBATH 22ND JANUARY 1922, BY REV. WILLIAM
SWAN, B.D.
The Employment Question.
The following is the concluding portion of the’
sermon :—” How would you find employment,” is next
asked, “for the millions of people in the liquor trade
and those connected with the trade, such as coopers for
casks,, packing-case- makers for cases, bottle manufacturers
for bottles, stationers and printers for labels,
advertisements, etc., and others too numerous to
mention here?” My answer to that is short and
emphatic. I would cut out every one from the answer
beginning with the coopers. The coopers, the boxmakers,
the printers, the stationers, will all find at
once more employment. Whenever the drink traffic
disappears there will be plenty of other things for them
to make which will be a far greater benefit to the
community. As to those engaged directly in the liquor
trade, one has got to say this, that in proportion to the
money invested in it, this trade employs fewer people •
than any other trade turning over anything like the
same amount of money and again, even suppose they
had to be dealt with bit by bit. It won’t displace
millions. There is not one million in the whole trade.
They will be displaced gradually, and they will find
other means of employment just as men have to do in
other trades. What has happened to shipbuilding ?
The Washington Conference with one stroke of the pen
has wiped out the present employment of hundreds of
thousands of people, because the world no longer wishes
to have, if possible, in the future huge and bloated
naval armaments. What is happening to these people ?
There is no proposal to go on building warships simply
to keep them employed. In spite of the present
unemployment which has struck the Clyde, Barrow,
and the Tyne most disastrously, I am told that some
of Tickers’ establishments are turning to the making
of sewing machines. So, if trades like that are displaced
and dislocated, the answer plainly is ±hat when
for the good of the community the- liquor trade is
dislocated, those who are put out of employment are to
fend for themselves in getting employment. Changes
are always painful, but the future good soon blots out
the critical period of transition. The next question
that I want to deal with is that about the Government.
“How is the Government going to maintain their
revenue if they lose the. millions of pounds from the
liquor trade?” I won’t spend any time at all in
answering this question. A great deputation of brewers,.
distillers, etc., went to Mr. Gladstone on one occasion
and they made the same plea as my correspondent.
Here is his answer to the argument:—”Gentlemen,
you need not give yourselves any trouble about the
revenue. The question of Revenue must never stand in
the way of needed reforms. Besides that, a sober
population not wasting their earnings, I shall know
where to obtain a revenue.” Sir Stafford Northoote, in
his budget speech of 1874 referring to reduction of
revenue due to widespread abstinence from the use of
ardent spirits, said:—”The amount of wealth such a
change would bring to the nation would utterly throw
into the shade the amount of revenue which is now
derived from the Spirit Duty.”

source-South Leith Magazine 1922

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