HC Deb 18 April 1866 vol 182 cc1584-99

Order for Second Beading read.


, in moving the second reading of the Bill, said, that as a new and inexperienced Member of the House, he almost wished that the measure had fallen under the care of an older Member; but as it interested materially the constituency which he represented, he had felt bound to give his best consideration to the question. He would shortly state to the House the object proposed to be attained by this Bill, in which no new principle was involved. The clauses of the Bill had been drawn up for the purpose of carrying out the intentions of the Legislature, and to adapt the regulations to the exigencies of the present day. The frauds it was sought to prevent were the substitution and sale of a poor quality of hops for those of a superior character, and to prevent the system well known in the trade of false packing, which consisted of inserting, along with hops of a good class, hops of an inferior and unmerchantable quality, as well as foreign substances which could not be described as hops. These practices had continued for a long time, and it had been found almost impossible to repress them. The temptation to resort to them was very great. It arose from the difference in the price which different qualities of hops would fetch in the market. The superior quality, for instance, grown in East Kent, where the soil was favourable to their cultivation, and where great attention was shown in rearing them, and the supply of which was sometimes scanty and varying, fetched £9 or £9 9s. per cwt., while the coarser quality of hops grown in the Weald of Kent or in East Sussex would fetch only £5 or £5 5s. per cwt. A great inducement was thus held out to the seller to impose upon his customer the inferior for the superior article; and, unfortunately, there were great facilities for the commission of the fraud afforded by the method in which hops were packed. In order to exclude the air from them as far as possible, they were carefully enclosed in a cloth or bag, and a sample was generally taken from the centre of the bags—for to examine any particular pocket in bulk, like barley or wheat, would be to render its contents almost un-saleable. But, beyond that, it was diffi- cult even for skilled persons to recognize the different varieties of hops, and, under all the circumstances of the case, the Legislature had by repeated Acts of Parliament sought to protect the public against imposition. The Acts which had been passed on the subject were five in number, one of which had been repealed, the other four being still on the statute-book, and it might be convenient to know what marks Parliament deemed it desirable to require for the purpose of preventing fraud in the trade. It was declared to be necessary that a pocket of hops should bear the name and the place of abode of the grower of the hops, of the parish and county in which they had been raised, as well as the year of the growth, and the true weight of the hops which the package contained. All that precaution had been rendered imperative by Acts of Parliament, the first of which had been passed in 1710, in the reign of Queen Anne, and the remaining four in the reign of George III.; and the object of such legislation was, no doubt, in the main, to protect the reputation and brand of a grower, and also of enabling the public to select from among the number of growers those whose hops they had by experience found to be peculiarly good. The year was required to be affixed to the pocket, in order that the public might know the age of the hops, for they became deteriorated as they grew older. But the mark which was found by experience to be the most essential was that which gave the weight, which was originally required to be affixed to the pocket by the statute of Anne. By its means the purchaser was easily enabled to compare the weight as given on the pocket and that which his own scales showed it to be, and would thus have his suspicions roused if the weight was either very much above or below that which the mark indicated. The check was also found to be of great advantage in preventing the use of a bag with the weight marked on it a second time, which might have fallen into the hands of a dishonest trader. If the purchaser found that there was great excess of weight over that marked, there would at once arise a suspicion that some foreign substance had been introduced to increase the weight, and he might remark that frauds of this kind were committed in various ways. Sometimes a crowbar was inserted into the top of the pocket, a great hole was made, and the cavity filled with substances to increase the weight. Sometimes in- ferior hops were inserted, and sometimes clay, dirt, and even metal was found to have been put in to increase the weight. If, on the other hand, the scale weights were much below the marked weight, the purchaser would know that the hops were of bad quality, or that they had been slack dried. The weight being marked caused also this advantage, that this fact might prevent the bag being used a second time for hops. In practice it was found that the pocket was so very much strained by packing the hops, that it was commercially useless for the packing of hops a second time; but sometimes the bags got into the hands of dishonest persons, who filled them with inferior hops, and thus committed a fraud, because they passed under a good brand. If, however, the weight of the first filling had been marked, it would be impossible to re-fill the bag so that it should weigh the weight originally marked. That being so, the marking of the weight was of very considerable importance. It was important that the House should know by whom these marks of the year and the weight were in the first instance required to be made on the bags. Originally they were all to be made by the Excise officers, but the 39 & 40 Geo. III. provided that the owner, planter, or grower should put his name, place of abode, parish, and county upon the pocket, and a subsequent statute said that this should be done in letters of a particular size. The putting of the year and the weight was left still in the hands of the Excise officers, and this state of things continued down to 1862, when the duty was taken off hops. When the duty was taken off there remained no person upon whom the obligation was imposed to mark the year and weight; and the practice, therefore, fell into disuse, and the public were deprived of the advantage of two of the most essential marks which had existed for their protection. This was a state of things which seemed to have escaped the attention of the Legislature, and he submitted that it was desirable that it should be remedied. The principal object of this Bill was to require that owners, planters, and growers of hops should mark upon the bags the year and weight; that they should perform the duty which previous to 1862 devolved upon the Excise officers. Now, there could be no hardship in this provision, for the grower had already in his possession the means by which this could be accomplished, for by the Act 39 & 40 Geo. III. he was called upon to have weights and scales on his premises under a penalty of £50, and was, indeed, accustomed to weigh his hops to protect his own interest as against the factor. Nor did he believe there would be found any practical objection to mark the weight on the part of the honest trader. Certainly no such objection had reached his ears, though he had been for the greater part of his life connected with the counties of Worcester and Hereford, and had in connection with this Bill been in communication with many hop growers and brewers. In the county of Kent he believed that there were objections from two quarters; one of those who objected being a highly-respectable person who was interested in the question, and the other quarter from which objection came was the Farmers' Club at Maid stone where the question had been discussed. He would refer to a letter from a gentleman who had had half a century of experience in the hop trade, and he wrote to the Farmers' Club that one fraud practised by unprincipled dealers was this—that, having sold hops by a good] sample, they rammed into the pocket a large quantity of inferior hops. Now, if the planters' marks were required to be upon the hops this would tend to the detection of the fraud. He (Mr. Huddleston) believed that that was the feeling of the majority of hopgrowers upon the subject. Before he left that branch of the question he might, perhaps, be permitted to remind the House that a Committee upon the Hop Duty sat in 1857, and examined a great number of witnesses, thirteen of whom spoke in reference to the marking of hops, and all of whom agreed in this, that the marking of hops was a very great protection to the consumer, though two differed in some matters from the others—one of them thinking that the practice, if enforced, would be a little hard upon the growers of inferior hops in Sussex. The hon. Member for West Worcestershire summed up the evidence in this way:—"The whole evidence shows that the marks on hops are valuable to the consumer, and ought to be maintained. The object of those who wish to abolish the practice can only be to sell to unskilled persons hops of good colour and appearance, but of poor quality as first-rate hops, they not being readily distinguished by unskilled persons." He (Mr. Huddleston) hoped that after this it might not be thought to be out of the scope of proper legislation, even at the present day, to remedy this evil. He did not think it necessary to call the attention of the House to more than three out of the twenty-one clauses in the Bill. The first of those was Clause 5. Clause 2 of 54 Geo. III., to which he wished to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, was to be found in the second page of the Bill, about the thirtieth line. That clause which had been in existence since 1814, inflicted a penalty upon any owner, planter, or grower who should knowingly put, or suffer to be put, hops of different qualities or of value into the same bag or pocket. The object of that clause was, no doubt, to prevent false packing. But, on consideration, that clause would be found to affect a number of gentlemen who had been in the habit of dealing in a manner perfectly honest and fair with the consumer. He believed that there was scarcely a grower in Kent who had not many more varieties of hops than one, and who was not liable to the accident of those varieties getting mixed up in the packing. Sometimes the proprietor of the hop garden in order to protect his hops of a superior and delicate quality from the effects of the weather, grew a coarser description of hops outside the former. Other growers, again, thought it sometimes necessary to use the long poles, which were applied to the better class of hops. Those poles becoming rotten at the bottom in the course of time, they cut the rotten parts off, and used the rest of the poles for the inferior hopes. It had then become the practice, without any intention to commit a fraud, to mix up in the bag or pocket the inferior with the superior hops; and when they were sold they were sold by sample which accurately described the bulk. In such cases it was ridiculous to say that any fraud had been intended or was committed by the owner. Nevertheless, this old section to which he referred would render a person liable to a penalty who had thus mixed hops of one quality with those of another. Now, he did not think it was ever intended that such persons should be held to be liable to a penalty for the commission of a fraud. He was bound to say that the 5th clause as drawn certainly did not afford that remedy which he thought so essential, and at the same time did not exempt from liability the honest dealer who had no intention whatever to commit a fraud in the packing of his hops, which of necessity was of a mixed quality. Having con- sulted with gentlemen of practical experience in the matter he was prepared to offer a suggestion in the framing of the clause which, if the House thought fit, might be carried out when the Bill was in Committee. There seemed to be a strange anomaly in the present law whereby the owner, planter, or grower was subject to the penalty for the offence of mixing hops, whilst there was nothing of the kind attaching to any other person who might be guilty of it. It appeared that very few frauds of this kind were committed by the planter or grower. They were chiefly committed by persons into whose hands the hops came after they had left the custody of the owner, planter, or grower, and yet the penalty under the old law would not reach them. It was suggested, in order to meet this difficulty, that the section should run thus— That any person who shall fraudulently pack, or suffer to be packed, hops of different qualities or value in the same bag or pocket shall be liable to a penalty. For such a provision as that would have the effect of exempting the honest trader, whilst it would reach the fraudulent one. In reference to the other clauses of this Bill, it appeared to him strange that whilst penalties were inflicted upon the forgers of marks, or upon those who omitted marks, there was no penalty whatever enacted against the aider or abettor who should assist a party in the perpetration of a fraud. It was therefore proposed to inflict a penalty upon any person who should knowingly sell hops that had not been properly marked or marked at all. Clause 9 required the vendor of hops improperly marked, upon demand being-made on him, to give up the name of the party from whom he had obtained them, with the view that the fraud might be traced to its source. There was one great difficulty in the detection of fraud—namely, the utter inefficiency of the machinery of the law to enable the authorities to enter the dwelling-houses of fraudulent persons, and thus to afford the opportunity to the police of capturing them in flagrante delicto. He had heard of cases in which, through the disaffection of servants, an entrance had been thus effected, and the very implements of fraud had been captured and produced subsequently in the Courts of Law. But as the law stood the only legal means of obtaining an entrance into the house of a man supposed to be guilty of fraud of this kind was by a bill of discovery obtained upon application to the Court of Chancery; such application, however, might be defeated even then, if the party accused were to deny upon oath the truth of the allegations made against him. It was therefore proposed by the present Bill, by an express provision, to enable a Justice of the Peace, on information being laid before him that there was good reason to believe there were on the premises of a certain party bags or pockets of hops improperly marked, to issue his warrant to enable the constabulary to enter the premises of the accused to search them, and if such bags or pockets were found therein, to take them in charge and detain them, with a view to instituting a prosecution against the guilty party. That was not a new suggestion. A similar provision was to be found in the 7 & 8 Vict. c. 82, relating to marks on gold and silver ware, and also in the Salmon Fishery Act in reference to the use of nets of an improper size. This was a question which did not particularly affect the grower, brewer, or consumer, but the public generally; consequently, petitions from all parties interested in the question had been presented to that House praying the enactment of the Bill of which he had then the honour to move the second reading.


seconded the Motion, and thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman for the able and lucid manner in which he had introduced the question to the House. All who had heard the hon. and learned Gentleman on that occasion would no doubt join with him (Sir Brook Bridges) in expressing a desire that he would turn his attention to other subjects as well as that which he had handled in so able a manner that day. Living in a district where the best hops were produced, he (Sir Brook Bridges) felt himself fully justified in placing his name on the back of that Bill. He believed that all persons would be anxious to prevent such frauds, and the question was, were they such as to justify exceptional legislation. He was aware that there were those who would say, leave it to the buyers, and the expression caveat emptor was often used in reference to matters of this kind; but there were several occasions on which the House had thought fit to pass express laws to protect the public from fraud, and he thought that such a case had been made out by the hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded him as would justify that course with reference to hops. He would only add that all parties came forward with a desire that legislation should pass the House on this subject. Both the growers and the brewers had sent petitions to the House; and if they combined in asking for legislation, surely the public must be interested also who drank the beer in which the hops were used. For his own part, he might say (and he thought he might say on the part of the other hon. Gentlemen whose names appeared on the Bill), if there was anything in the details of the measure that was considered objectionable, there would be the fullest desire to consider it carefully in Committee. Former experience had proved that the growers could do without inconvenience all that the Bill called on them to do, and as it would lead to the prevention of fraud he hoped the House would consent to the second reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Huddleston.)


said, he must join the hon. Member for East Kent in the commendation he had passed on the very able argument which the hon. and learned Member for Canterbury had used in support of this Bill. The only objection he could make to that argument was that it was one that might carry the House away with it, when the entire case had not been put before it. The case that had been brought forward was that certain frauds existed in the hop trade—frauds in quality, frauds in weight, and frauds of a grosser description—which the buyer, the brewer, and the drinker had a right to arm themselves against. That was, no doubt, true, but while it was very desirable to suppress fraud wherever it existed, it was at the same time necessary to be careful not to inflict or to perpetuate an injury upon any class. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to restore an antiquated penal enactment, while professing to deal with principles borrowed from the commercial legislation of late years. Did he lay down a new system—did he propose a new code of hop commerce suitable to the principles of modern commerce and free trade, which happily now prevailed in hops as in other articles? In this Bill were recited certain antiquated Acts of Parliament which were passed at a period when it was thought proper to place any restriction on commerce for the benefit of the Excise. The high duties on hops, after a long and arduous fight to get rid of them, were abolished; and the opposition to their abolition came almost entirely from the growers in East Kent, where the high-priced hops were grown, they desiring to keep their hops up at an artificial price in the market. One of the restrictions that had existed before the abolition of the duty was that the hops should be marked with the county and parish from which they came, so that the samples from the counties where the high-priced hops were grown obtained an artificial money value, whilst those from other counties went into the market with a prejudice against them. Was that meant for the protection of the consumer? On the contrary, it was really meant to maintain the reputation of East and of Mid-Kent, by the fictitious value which the brand might give. The present Bill did not try to remedy, it tried to continue that state of things, as by Clause 2 it was enacted that the pockets should have marked upon them the weight—which was very proper—and also the name of the parish and county in which the hops were grown. He said it was quite clear that there were two intentions in that clause—the ostensibly one to avoid fraud, and the other—the covert design—which he hoped the House would not endorse, to keep up a forced protection for certain growers to run their hops up to an artificial price. They were all anxious to avoid fraud in the hop or any other trade, and if the present laws were insufficient for that purpose, by all means let the House pass others; hut in doing so they should not ask the House to do something else that was sedulously kept out of its sight. Suppose a man had a hop garden one-half in West Kent and the other half in Sussex, under this Bill he would be compelled to mark one-half his hops as coming from Kent, and the other from Sussex. Well, that was just what he did not want, and it was a significant fact that the three hon. Gentlemen whose names appeared on the back of the Bill were East Kent representatives; there was not a single one of them from Worcester, West Kent, or Sussex. If the hon. Gentlemen promoting the Bill would consent to strike out the clause rendering it necessary that the place where the hops were grown should be placed on the pocket, so that the hops of certain places might not go to market with a prejudice stamped upon them, he would support the Bill; if not, he should be compelled to oppose it, and he would put the Mover and Seconder in order that they might state their intentions on this point, by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. If the hon. Gentleman would withdraw the provision to which he referred, he, on his part, would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Beresford Rope.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, that he represented an interest different from that represented by the Mover and Seconder of the second reading of the Bill. He stood there as the representative of hop merchants and brewers in the Borough, from whom he had presented a petition strongly in favour of the Bill. Hops did not come within the category of other articles of trade, and the principle of caveat emptor did not apply to them. He had been assured by some of his constituents that not even a person in the habit of buying hops could discover their quality until they were actually put into the copper, and it was only then that he could discover whether he had not bought a wrong article, and on that ground legislation not necessary in other cases was required in the matter of hops in order to prevent fraud. The numerous Acts which had been referred to on this subject had not been passed exclusively for Excise purposes, but for the very object contemplated by this Bill. The title of 54 Geo. III. c. 23, was— An Act to amend Acts 39th and 40th of the reign of His Majesty to prevent Fraud and Abuses in the Trade of Hops. Originally, the marks of the weight and year of growth on the pocket were Excise marks merely, but it was afterwards found that they were beneficial to the hop trade. It enabled dealers to tell what description of hops were offered for sale at a subsequent period by the change that had taken place in the weight. He believed his hon. Friend opposite did not object to these two branches of the weight and year of growth. The objection he raised was the old one made in 1857 to the provision, that the grower should not be entitled to sell bad hops as good hops. That really was the whole struggle in the Committee which inquired into the subject. The hon. Member opposite was quiet then, but he supposed the Weald of Kent had stirred him up. He was not aware that the evidence taken went to show that these marks were not beneficial. The witnesses stated as a reason why the duty should not be taken off that it would remove the supervision of the Excise, and that the trade would therefore be left open to every kind of fraud. They were in favour of retaining the duty, thinking that if they did not do that the marking would be got rid of. The Excise man was, under the circumstances, their great protector. The hon. Member opposite did not go the length of saying that no man should mark his hops, but he wished to do away with the marks as to the locality of their growth. Now, all that was asked for by the Bill was that, the old system should be continued, and that there should be no false marks. His hon. Friend's proposal was that he should have the power, supposing he had two fields, one in Sussex and one in Kent, of putting en the pockets marks denoting that both were grown in Kent. What was to be done with the unfortunate Sussex pocket? If it were to be sent to market with no mark upon it at all no doubt it might have some value; but the fame of East Kent and some other places where a better kind of hop was grown was so great, that the growers in other districts could not restrain themselves from placing the marks of East Kent and the other favoured districts on their pockets. This was to be prevented by preserving the old system, which was found to answer, of providing that all hops should be marked. The Exciseman at the time formerly superintended that, and there was no necessity then for a Bill of this kind, because the man who did not mark his hops properly was liable to an information, and to punishment by the Inland Revenue. But what had happened since the duty on hops had been taken off? Frauds innumerable had been committed, and they had not been detected. His hon. Friend had inserted clauses in the Bill providing that every person who had hops improperly marked in his possession, and could not give a satisfactory account of them, should be punished. Formerly, all that was necessary could be done through the Exciseman, who knew that he had the inte- rests of Government and of the revenue of the country to protect, and he protected the public as the buyers of hops at the same time that he protected the Excise. What objection could the Weald of Kent have to put on an honest mark? for that was the real question involved. Was it because his hon. Friend happened to live in a district that was not to be called upon to "brand" itself that he was to act as a person who had been already branded, not for the virtue of the place which he represented, but for its vices? The Bill really appeared to him (Mr. Locke) to be a simple continuation Bill. There was scarcely anything new in it, with the exception that two marks of the weight and the year, which were formerly put on by the Exciseman, should in future be put on by the grower, in addition to the other marks which he was required to stamp upon the pocket. At present, they could not compel the owner or the grower to put on marks without a roundabout and expensive action for penalties. That course was to be discontinued, and instead of actions for penalties, which were very har-rassing frequently to extremely hone3t persons, an information before a magistrate was to be introduced. If a fraudulent mark were put on, or if a person did not mark his hops at all, he might be brought before a magistrate and fined. That was undoubtedly new; but, at the same time, it was strictly in accordance with all recent legislation, which had got rid of the cumbrous, frequently unjust, and very dangerous system of leaving the matter in the hands of common informers. The Committee which sat upon the subject were unanimously of opinion that the marking of hops was absolutely necessary, and he could not therefore see what objection there could be to this measure, which merely continued that system in an efficient instead of an inefficient manner. In the Weald of Kent and in Sussex they might grow similar hops so far as name was concerned, but the produce would not be the same in reality. They might grow golding hops in Sussex, but they were not the same things as the goldings grown in East Kent. Was it fair, then, that the man who grew the inferior hops should compete on the same terms, and perhaps fraudulently, with the man who grew the superior quality? [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: I should make that penal.] His object was to prevent them from getting into these scrapes. They should all start by marking honestly, and by declining to be led into temptation; for in opposing the clauses of this Bill they would only create temptation for others. If these clauses were not passed he ventured to say that there would be a temptation held out to all the "branded districts," as his hon. Friend called them, which he was satisfied none of them would ever be able to resist.


felt that there was not much sympathy for the brewers in that House, but he thought they had a strong claim on the consideration of the House, inasmuch as they were the payers of the hop duty, which had been transferred by the legislation of the House from the hop-growers to the brewers. A man who understood hops might be able to tell one kind of hop from another; but, at the same time, it was impossible for him to tell on what soil those hops were grown, and that formed the whole gist of the question. Golding hops, for instance, which were grown in Sussex, would not, from the nature of the soil, impart those peculiar qualities either of flavour or of keeping which were essential to the ale for which they were used. None but those engaged in the business knew the disappointment and the loss, both in a pecuniary sense and in credit, which was sustained when brewers sent out a large quantity of beer for summer use, and were deceived in the hops they had used. It was also, in his opinion, due to the grower of the hops, as well as to the buyer and consumer, that they should be marked, for it was not right that a man paying a high rent in East Kent should be liable to competition with the growers of Sussex or the Weald of Kent, who would palm their hops off upon the public in unfair competition with his. The goldings and finer sorts of hops were more delicate and difficult to grow than the coarser qualities, and the grower was more liable to blight and short crops, and that also was a matter which should be taken into consideration. A good deal had been said about another Bill now in the course of discussion being an honest Bill. It might be so, or it might not; but he thought this Bill was essential to make men honest. He had no doubt that in the hop trade there were men engaged who were as honourable as any others in the world, but there were also a vast number who lived by trickery and fraud. The protection of this Bill was needed especially for the small brewers, on whom inferior hops were palmed off, greatly to the injury of their trade. With these views he certainly hoped the Bill would pass.


was sorry at any time to differ from his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southwark, but he should like to know why hops should not stand on their own merits just like any other article of merchandise. Suppose he went into Mincing Lane to buy tea, did he find that article branded by the Government? No; he was left to judge for himself. And why should there be special legislation in a case of this sort? Why ask the Government to brand hops in any particular way? Why not leave the trade to stand on its own merits? and, if a buyer had not sufficient capacity to understand the trade, let him give place to some one else who had. This was a kind of retrograde legislation, which he could not approve. What was wanted was a good supply of hops. Let a fair chance be given to every county. Let them produce a good article. Let that article stand on its own merits in the market, and there would be no occasion for any brand.


said, that hops were unlike any other article in this respect, that their comparative value depended on a certain aroma which they derived from the particular place in which they were grown, but which could only be discovered by the taste when they were manufactured into beer. The Sussex growers wished to force their hops upon the market as the best hops, but the growers in all the other districts in England wore opposed to that pretention, and that was the origin of all the contention that had arisen upon the subject.


said, it appeared to him that a clear case had been made out for the passing of some such Bill as that under the consideration of the House. He considered the case of hops very similar to the case of the trade-marks which a manufacturer had a right to place on his goods. It was manifestly desirable to know the soil in which the hops were grown, for their quality varied very much in certain districts. The quality could not be known till the article was used. At present great facility was given to fraud, and there was a corresponding necessity for guarding against it. All the security required would be given by the provisions of this Bill.


must express the cordial approval of his constituents with respect to this measure. He must, however, disclaim the plea of protection which his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent had brought forward with regard to this Bill. All that was asked was that the necessary securities should be given which would prevent the frauds which were now so frequently practiced. By losing the Excise mark one of the great securities which the trade possessed had been removed. The legislation had been most successful; but there was a residuum of grievance which this Bill would remedy.


was not competent to enter into the controversy between the hopgrowers of Kent and Sussex, but would consider this solely as a question of general policy. For his own part, he must say there was considerable force in the observations of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk), in regard to the compulsory branding or marking of any description of produce or manufacture. Certainly recent legislation had gone in the opposite direction. They had now before them a very able Report from the Fishery Commissioners, recommending the abolition of the branding of herrings. But then his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) said the hop trade was an exceptional one, there was something about hops so peculiar, and the buyer was in such difficulties as to the equality of the article he wished to purchase, that it was necessary for his protection to enact some compulsory system of marking. If that were so, it was a very peculiar case, and he should be the last not to defer to the unanimous opinion of a Committee which was no doubt competent to form a judgment on the question. The Bill contained the provision, that persons should be required to put on marks indicating the place where the hops had been grown, and that if these marks were false there should be a summary mode of enforcing the penalties against persons so deceiving the public. There was no doubt that if the marks were to be compulsory there must be some provisions of that kind to prevent purchasers being misled, and growers being deprived of advantages to which they were entitled. It might be said that the Merchandise Marks Bill already afforded a sufficient remedy, but he found that was not so; and in respect to the necessity of preventing fraud by spurious marks, further legislation would appear in the case of hops to be requisite. As lie understood, the place where the hops were grown was a very important indication of their quality, but the indications required by the Merchandise Marks Bill were limited to number, quality, measure, or weight, and there was nothing in it to restrain the false indication of place. He repeated, his own views and inclinations were against a system of compulsory marking of any merchandise; but as the buyers and growers of hops and others interested seemed, as it were, united in favour of compulsory marking, he did not want to set up his principle against their general wish. He would not, therefore, oppose the second reading of the Bill, thinking that they might fairly discuss in Committee the Amendments which had been suggested. Undoubtedly, the proposal was not new; the Bill was but an amendment of existing laws: but he had heard it whispered that it was rather an oversight, when the Excise duty on hops was abolished, that the laws which imposed the compulsory marking of the bags were allowed to remain upon the statute-books. Those laws were, however, upon the statute-book; and if there was a general desire that they should remain, there could be no doubt that they should be made effectual.


said, he would withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Wednesday next.