HC Deb 02 March 1880 vol 251 c148

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, seeing that there is an appeal to the Chemical Staff of the Somerset House Laboratory in cases where the analysis made by public analysts is disputed, If he will explain why there is not a similar reference to that laboratory in the case of a merchant who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Customs officers?


Sir, it is not quite correct to say that there is an appeal from the verdict of public analysts to the laboratory at Somerset House. What the Act of 1875 says is that upon the request of either party in a case, the justices, or Court of Appeal, may in their discretion cause any article of food to be sent to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue for analysis. And I understand the object of this clause to have been to provide the Courts with the means of obtaining an independent scientific opinion, rather than that they should give a verdict against the opinion of a public analyst. At any rate, it gives no absolute right of appeal. In respect of tea, the Act puts the Commissioners of Customs in the position of a Court of Law. Their discretion is absolute and final; and as it is important that they should exercise that discretion promptly and without delay, it was probably thought right to keep the machinery by which they arrive at their decisions as simple as possible. So far as I am aware, exception has very rarely been taken to the decisions of the Board, and the present arrangements seem to me to work satisfactorily.