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      Astor the Fairy Godmother: The Intoxicating Liquor Act 1923

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          Abstract

          Before 1923, a teenager could go into a pub at the age of 14 to buy and drink beer; aged 16, he or she could also buy spirits. The Intoxicating Liquor (Sale to Persons Under Eighteen) Act 1923 introduced the principle that people should be aged 18 to drink alcohol in bars, a situation which still exists today. The Act was the first successful private members’ bill from a woman MP, Nancy Astor. Although well-known as a temperance advocate, Astor’s role in this Bill is frequently underplayed, with her husband Waldorf often credited at her expense, and the significance of Parliamentary process not well understood. This paper will examine the background to Astor’s Bill, which emerged from ongoing wartime liquor restrictions, a changing discourse over alcohol and public health after the First World War, and a petition signed by 116,000 teachers. It will analyse the Parliamentary passage of the Bill in the face of die-hard opposition from many of Astor’s fellow Conservative MPs. Although amendments made in committee reduced the impact, this should not detract from Astor’s considerable success in the House of Commons. Astor’s Bill should be better recognised for its long-lasting impact on British society, as a success for temperance campaigners, and as one of the great achievements of Astor’s Parliamentary career. Astor’s Bill was also opposed by Edwin Scrymgeour, Britain’s only Prohibitionist MP, and the paper will consider how his extreme version of alcohol control assisted Astor’s more moderate approach.

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          Most cited references36

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          Drink and the Victorians: The temperance question in England, 1815–1872.

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            Demons: Our Changing Attitudes to Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs

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              Alcohol, Power and Public Health: A Comparative Study of Alcohol Policy.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                11 September 2020
                2020
                : 6
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Parliamentary Archives, UK
                Article
                10.16995/olh.567
                15b60f2c-4a9f-477b-a18f-17e0ef41a274
                Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Categories
                ‘An unconventional mp’: nancy astor, public women and gendered political culture

                Literary studies,Religious studies & Theology,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,History,Philosophy

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