The Free Breakfast Table was the demand of British working-class Liberalism from the 1860s to the early twentieth-century. It entailed abolishing duties on basic foodstuffs as these were indirect taxes and therefore regressive. It was as a result of the abolition of Protectionism.
The National Agricultural Labourers Union held the Free Breakfast Table as "an article of faith" and the idea helped to safeguard Liberal Party support in rural areas after the Representation of the People Act 1884.
In his first Budget, the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Snowden, claimed the Budget went "far to realize the cherished radical idea of a free breakfast table". Snowden had lowered duties on tea, coffee, cocoa, chicory and sugar. As late as 1938 a Labour MP (George Ridley) was condemning the Conservatives' budget due to its "harsh and inhuman" increase on the tax on tea and thereby betraying the ideal of the free breakfast table.
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