HC Deb 01 April 1881 vol 260 cc494-525

in rising to call the attention of the House to the effects of the unrestricted importation from the United States of various spurious compounds resembling butter, which exposes British dairy farmers to an unfair competition, and consumers to imposition unavoidable under the present system; and to move— That it is desirable that such steps shall be taken by the Legislature as will insure, as far as possible, that such of these compounds as arc harmless shall only be sold under distinctive names, and that the importation and sale of those which are hurtful or dangerous to health be prohibited altogether, said, he regretted that he should have to bring that subject forward immediately after the debate just concluded, for some hon. Members might think it was not a very important one; and he believed also that there existed outside the House a certain feeling that the subject of butter was not worthy the attention of the House. That morning he had received a cutting from what seemed to be one of the so-called Society journals, in which it was stated that politicians were making merry over the proposed debate in the House of Commons on the subject of butter. Well, he was very glad to have been able to afford any subject for the legitimate mirth of politicians. He did not know what the nature of the mirth might be; but he knew that his constituents, who were interested, to a considerable extent, in dairy farming, were inclined to regard it, if as a joke at all, as rather a grim one. But it was not to be supposed that he introduced this subject in the interest of any particular class. He had no desire or intention of posing as the farmers friend. It was quite true that the question did intimately affect the profits which the farmer drew from his occupation; but he felt that he was also acting for a very much larger interest. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) claimed the other day to represent specially the great consuming bulk of the population of this country, those who were, in a literal sense, fruges consumere rati, and so did he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) now, in this matter. But take the lesser interests of the farmers first. It would be admitted that there was no source of food supply more important than the supply of milk and its products. His hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) the other day quoted the Earl of Derby as saying that the agricultural produce of this country was capable of being doubled. His hon. Friend said he could not agree with Lord Derby, and thought such a statement showed considerable ignorance of fact. Well, he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) agreed with that criticism, so far as arable produce was concerned, and so far, perhaps, as feeding cattle was concerned; but as regarded the dairy produce of the country, it was not only capable of being doubled, but trebled, and multiplied almost infinitely. Not only was that the case on account of the physical capabilities of this country; but there was an enormous demand for dairy produce. He spoke from memory; but he believed that the expenditure of the country upon imported dairy produce during 1879 amounted to no less than £11,000,000. In conversation not long ago with a firm of importers in the City, he was informed that upon consignments from one firm in France they received last year upwards of £5,000 commission. That was to say, that that sum, representing a commission of £5 per cent, showed that there had been imported by one firm alone dairy produce amounting to £100,000. He thought those figures showed that the question was of sufficient importance to merit the consideration of hon. Members on both sides of the House. Taking next the larger ques- tion of the consumers of the supply, the Legislature had already recognized the importance of purity and of genuineness in the supply. By the provisions of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1878, powers were given to inspectors of markets and police constables, acting under the authority of the municipal authorities and justices of the peace, to inspect milk in transitu between the purveyor and the purchaser—that was to say, that anyone who sold milk was bound to hand over a sample to the officer who asked for it at any time during business hours. That imposed a very irksome restriction upon our home trade, though he quite recognized the necessity for it; but he wanted to point out that there were no similar powers given for the inspection or testing of similar articles coining from abroad. The terms of the Resolution he had put on the Paper were of the most general kind. All that he asked for was an extension of these regulations which at present affected our home trade, so that they might also affect the foreign producer. It was mainly in consequence of the unsatisfactory answer which he received from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, at an early period of the Session, in reply to a Question in reference to this matter, that he had brought the subject forward that night. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to regard with equanimity and tolerance a state of matters with regard to this traffic which he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) could not but look upon as altogether objectionable and lamentable. He held in Ins hand a drawing or caricature which did not unfaithfully represent the nature of this traffic. It was published as a Supplement to The Provisioner, on the 18th October. It contained two pictures. Ono was labelled "Butter-making as it used to be," and the other "Butter-making as it now is." The former represented a dairymaid, neatly dressed, churning butter in a beautiful dairy all in order, a cow looking in at the window, and a pastoral landscape in the background. "Butter-making as it now is" was represented by a personage who was intended to represent the father of lies, who was stirring up all sorts of compounds—lard, tallow, soap, grease, slush, butterine, fat, and axle grease in a huge cauldron, from which were pouring forth volumes of noxious smoke. Well, he did not consider that an exaggeration of this industry. He did not, of course, mean to say that the individual represented in one of the drawings was personally occupied in the manufacture; but he must say his impression was that he might, consistently with his other duties and avocations, preside over that manufacture. The materials of the butter imported from America were not of a genuine character. He believed the trade in dairy produce with America began at the time of the Civil War in that country. The consignments at that time were of prime quality. Since then, adulterations had obtained to a large extent in America as elsewhere. Exception might be taken by some persons to his classifying one of the substitutes for butter, which was imported in large quantities, as an adulterated article, for it was a product of remarkable ingenuity and chemical skill. It was imported either as oleomargarine—that was, in the state of raw oil or extract of fat, or in the ultimate form of butterine or margarine, which he believed were synonymous terms. To such an extent had the traffic increased. in America that the farmers themselves had approached Congress to protect themselves against the injury done by the sale of this article as a substitute for butter. The consequence was that the American Legislature passed a law by which it was rendered illegal to export oleomargarine or butterine except in casks branded with the real name in full. But that order had been evaded. Nothing was easier when the casks were shipped than to erase the brand, and it was found that other names bearing a distinct commercial value in the butter trade were substituted. The penalty inflicted upon persons exporting this substance without branding, or fraudulently exporting it, was so very slight as to make it worth while running the risk of incurring that penalty, and accordingly the risk was run constantly. He might be asked to show the extent to which oleomargarine or butterine was taking the place of real butter in importation from America into this country. It was very difficult for a chemist or au expert to detect the difference between butterine and butter. He had a letter from a gentleman who had been engaged in Glasgow for the last 35 years in the butter trade, and he told him he had practically inspected hundreds of casks of American butter sold to his customers, and found that 40 out of every 100 were not genuine. In the casks one or two layers were found of a darker colour than the genuine article. There was no doubt about the enormous consumption of it in this country. The exports from America had largely increased during the last few years. In 1879, taking Glasgow as the nearest port to his own constituency, there were only 274,0001bs. exported from New York to that city; but in the nine months of 1880 there were nearly 1,500,0001bs. imported into Glasgow. The same rate of increase held good throughout all our other ports. Now, he wanted to know whether that was sold as butterine? He must confess he had not seen a advertised as such. They had all seen popular and wholesome articles of food, such as Epps' Cocoa, Horniman's Tea, and Colman's Mustard advertised so much as almost to cause one sometimes to wish the advertisers in the bottom of the sea; but he had never seen anything like—"Try our celebrated rich Oleomargarine," or "No breakfast table should be without butter on a Soapstone basis." His suspicion was therefore aroused, and the facts he had elicited had justified this suspicion—that this article was not sold under a distinctive name, but sold as genuine butter. This nefarious traffic, as he considered it, was encouraged by the action of our carrying system in this country. Oleomargarine was carried from New York to London at the same price that genuine butter could be brought from Liverpool to London. For that, of course, we bad only ourselves to blame. He might be told that if they insisted upon oleomargarine and butterine being sold by their proper names nobody would buy them. He did not think they need show any tenderness for spurious and base articles sold under false names. Then it might be said that the Sale of Food and Drugs Act was sufficient. He knew the good that had been done by that Act; but it did not meet the case, not from any fault in the Act itself, but because the machinery was wanting to carry out that Act in these instances, and its evasion was so easy. Section 6 prohibited any article being sold that was not of the nature, substance, and quality of the article demanded by the purchaser. That was comprehensive enough; but, as a matter of fact, it was frequently evaded. Could it be expected that a working man, or his child, perhaps, sent to buy half-a-pound of butter, would draw a nice distinction between what seemed to be butter and what really was butter; and if the good wife was the purchaser, would she not be tempted to prefer an article that could he offered her at 4d. or 6 d. per pound cheaper than genuine butter? This compound called butterine was frequently filled into Irish cases. It was made up into rolls of the same size as Irish butter, and he had seen himself in shops quantities of these rolls with really no distinction between the genuine article and what was confessedly the spurious one. Beyond that there was this to consider. Without dwelling on the damage that had been inflicted upon the British producers by this traffic, he might inform the House that last week he had a letter from a gentleman of great experience and standing in the butter trade, stating that whereas last year at this time good Irish butter was selling at 134s. to 140s. a cwt., the highest price obtained for the best brand now was only 90s. a cwt., while 2nd and 3rd qualities could not be sold at all, and this fact was entirely owing to the manner in which the markets were glutted with spurious compounds. An objection which might be raised to interference with this traffic was that oleomargarine was not in itself an unwholesome compound. He was ready to admit that if it could be taken as a scientific fact that raw animal fat could be swallowed without any injury to human constitutions; but what guarantee had they as to the sources from which the fat was drawn? In America so great was the sale of oleomargarine that a sufficient quantity of fat could not be obtained from proper sources to supply the demands of the trade. Of course, the proper fat for the manufacture of this composition was the best caul fat of healthy animals; but statements had been made that fat was taken from diseased animals, and they had no safeguard against that. The manufacture of this compound was not confined to America; it had taken root in this country. He cut from a newspaper the other day some details of a rather interesting trial which took place before the magistrates at Birkenhead. The summons was for a nuisance caused by butterine works, and during the hearing of the case it was sworn by several witnesses that various vapours and sickening smells emanated from this establishment; that the residents in the neighbourhood had to leave their dwellings in consequence; that, on one occasion, during the visit of an inspector, a cask of nasty fat was smuggled away from his notice; and the magistrate, being of opinion that the nuisance was fully proved, fined the defendant £5. Well, then, if this article, in favour of which so much had been said as a wholesome, cheap, and economical substitute for butter, was drawn from such sources as that, and went through a process which caused a nuisance to the community, it was not asking too much that the article should be sold under its propel name, and that the public should know that they got butter when they asked for butter, and not oleomargarine. That was all he asked in regard to oleomargarine; but there were two compounds of a quite different nature, with respect to which he asked to have more stringent regulations. Ho could not say that he was practically acquainted with either; but about the first he had made every possible inquiry, and he believed it was made from the fat of pigs, and was called scene. It was not made from cooked fat, but from raw fat; and in the case of the compound, as well as in the case of oleomargarine, he was told. that heat in excess of 95 degrees spoiled the manufacture, as it imported it a tallowy flavour. Therefore, any germs of parasite or poison which might be in the fat of these animals was not subjected to sufficient heat to destroy them. No less than 700,000 swine died in Illinois from hog cholera; and, to show the possible effects of these things, he mentioned the case of one man who died with worms in his flesh, that were actually eating him up, and who was supposed to have caught the disease from eating sausages. He had no wish to make his statement too highly coloured; but this fact was described in a letter to the Home Office from the British Consul at Philadelphia. He had also heard that the winter cholera, which caused so much mortality in Chicago, was attributed by physicians to the use of that sort of butter. He therefore urged that every possible precaution should be taken to prevent the introduction of hog-fat butter into this country. The third substance was of a curious nature. It was called soapstone, and was a mineral which could be ground into the finest impalpable powder. It was used for the purpose of adding weight to almost every article of food sold, and could be added in a manner which rendered detection difficult. He asked, in regard to these two substances, suene and soapstone, that steps should be taken entirely to prevent their introduction into this country. It was not alone from America that they received supplies of bogus butter, but from France and other Continental countries. There were also manufacturers of the articles in this country—he knew two or three of them—and he thought some system of inspection and regulation should be carried out in their cases. He bad brought forward the subject in no polemical spirit, but rather to direct the attention of the Government to a matter which seemed to him of great importance, not only to the farming interest, but to the whole community; and he hoped the fact he had adduced would suffice to show that he had not raised it without cause. He was not asking for protection for the farming interest, for the British farmer had already shown himself able and willing to meet all competition fairly brought against him; but he asked that the Legislature would no longer connive at the production and sale of spurious and base articles under false names, articles whose very baseness enabled them not only to compete unfairly with the production of the farmers, but tempted the ignorant and unsuspicious purchaser to prefer them to the genuine article. He could not regard with approval legislation that had for its object the cheapness of our food supply, if it did not take sufficient precaution against the too frequent corollary of nastiness. He would conclude by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


in seconding the Resolution, said, it would not be easy to bring before the House a matter of greater importance to the agricultural interests of this country and Ireland than that was. They came before the House that night, not asking for protection for a specific interest, as the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had clearly pointed out, but with a request for, at least, fair play. A few words would give the House an idea of the important interest with which they had to deal. The export of butter from Ireland had been a staple trade for many years, the quantity sent over last year from Cork being 400,000 casks; from Limerick, 200,000 casks; and from Tipperary, 200,000 casks, making a total of 800,000 casks from these three places alone, the sum represented by these exportations being from £2,500,000 to £3,000,000 annually. A great deal of this butter was of such high quality that it was absolutely above all competition on the part of spurious vendors; but, at the same time, there were many poor farmers who were unable to produce the high-class butters, and who, in consequence of the unfair competition to which they were subjected, could not dispose of their butter as readily as their neighbours, and who, consequently, required some measure of protection. What they Lad a right to complain of was that the spurious articles that had been spoken of should be sold under false names; and, not only that, but that they should be sold greatly above their value to British tradesmen, to the manifest robbery of the workmen and persons of that class who were induced to purchase them. He might state that he had himself gone among the dealers in the articles, and had purchased what was called butter at 1s. per pound, and the article purchased was not value for the money. Therefore, unless they took steps to prevent that, this spurious article would continue to be sold at a price greatly above its value, and under a false name. Though some of these products were not deleterious to health, they had no possible guarantee that they got an article sound and wholesome, neither could they say what they were going to receive, seeing that these compounds sold under any other name than their own. It was not easy to get information as to the exports of these spurious articles. The British Customs and Board of Trade had not yet got their statistics tabulated under heads that would be sufficient guide. The United States gave no information, and we on this side of the Atlantic had no means of watching the imports of these substances; but he would give the House a few figures he had been enabled to obtain, and they were of a somewhat remarkable character. From the year 1869 to the year 1879, he found that the exports of butter from the United States increased 38 times its original quantity—namely from 1,000,000 to 38,000,0001bs. Butter was the name under which these spurious articles wore first exported from America. None of them came from America under the name of oleomargarine. There was also the name of lard. Well, although the export of American butter increased from 1,000,000 to 38,000,000 lbs in 10 years, the cows did not increase in anything like the same proportion. There had been a certain increase in the number of cows in the United States; but, taking the years 1875–6–7–8, the figures showed only a steady and gradual increase among the cattle, and a more rapid increase in the population, the increase in cows being only from about 10,000,000 to 12,000,000, while the increase in butter exports went on by leaps and bounds. Besides this, the statistics only mentioned "cows," they did not specify "milch cows;" so that, in these figures, he had given the American producers the benefit of whatever the difference might be. With regard to the exportation of lard from the United States, the increase had been enormous. In the 10 years he had mentioned, the exports of this article from America had increased from 41,000,0001bs. to 326,000,0001bs. He had obtained these figures from the Report of Mr. Bateman, of the Board of Trade. In 1880 the exports of this article, from the port of New York alone, were 15,750,0001bs., of which 12,250,0001bs. went to Rotterdam, and it was from Holland that the larger portion of the butterine sold in England was imported. They naturally expected during the same period a great increase in the Dutch exports, because it was from Holland that we obtained our principal butter supply; and, accordingly, we found that the imports from that country had jumped at one bound from 28,000,000 kilos, to 36,000,000 kilos, a kilo being about equal to two English lbs. weight. Consequently, we had the means of tracing the sources from whence these products came. Since the Notice of the Motion before the House had been given, he had made it his business to visit some of the poorer districts of the West End of London. He went out one Saturday afternoon, when the wives of the artizans were visiting the provision dealers and grocers to make their weekly purchases, and he found that there was being sold—and he had purchased some himself—under the name of butter an enormous quantity of the spurious products that had been spoken of. These substances were on the same counter with the genuine butter, without any label to show the difference. In many places the butter dealer confessed that that was so; but there were no means by which the ordinary customer could obtain any knowledge as to the real nature of what he was buying. The butterine was actually side by side with the genuine butter, and the same wooden knife that was used for severing the one was used immediately afterwards for severing the other. The spurious article was, he found, being sold in large quantities, and at very excessive prices. In his opinion there were not many of the very inferior butters in the shops he visited, the general price being ls. 4d. per lb. for the butter and for the butterine. In some cases where he had made purchases the vendor confessed to him, possibly under the fear of the Adulteration Act, that they were butterine. Some of the samples were very offensive, others were by no means offensive; and to give an idea of how far the competition in this substance was carried, all were beautifully done up, in muslin rolls, and packed in boxes, just as if they had just arrived from Normandy, like the finest French butter. There was an absence of odour in this class of so-called butter, and an absence of definite taste, except that there was a strong taste of salt; but in one shop he saw a cask of most beautiful butterine of perfect fragrance and absolutely indistinguishable from the ordinary butter. The cask, he was told, had just arrived from Holland. Well, then, he thought there was not the slightest doubt that these spurious substances were being sold as butter; and if the Legislature allowed these things to be sold under false names, there was no guarantee to the purchaser as to what sort of article he was buying. This country was being flooded by enormous quantities of these spurious products, of the purity of which there was no guarantee. Some of these substances were not injurious to health; but they were being sold by a class of tradesmen such as the Commercial Manufacturing Company of New York, and who were themselves the loudest in begging for legislation that should provide for the enforcement of a distinct brand on the exports from foreign countries, so that the spurious articles should not be mixed up with the genuine, so as to detract from the good names of our dealers or subject them to unfair competition. What was now asked was that butter should be sold under its own name. He held in his hand a circular issued by a Company started in London, offering butter at 50s. per cwt., which would be about 5½d. per lb. It was simply robbing the working man to allow such a product to be sold except under its proper name, for there was very little doubt that for this material the working man was charged ls. per lb. The gentleman who offered this "butter" at 5½d. per lb was rather drawn out by one of his (Mr. A. Moore's) constituents, who happened to be in the trade, and who wrote to ask on what conditions he could have the oleomargarine, and the answer was—"In reply to your letter, our present price is 50s. for oleomargarine." The tradesman described the different modes and weights in which the substance was packed, and added—"If you wish to have it packed in Irish firkins it can be done." Unless the Government took some steps to protect the community they would leave no chance to the farmer, who could not produce butter at such a price, nor to the respectable dealer, who was undersold by the man selling a spurious, and perhaps unwholesome, article. It was time for them to be up and doing. He did not ask for what was termed Protection, and if he thought he was depriving the teeming population of this country of one pound of wholesome food he should hesitate to do what he had done in seconding the Resolution; but he thought he had a right to ask fair play, which he did not think the honest producer had at present. He hoped the Board of Trade or the Local Government Board would let the House have all the statistics of the exports and imports of these products, and that the Adulteration Acts would be put in force, so that the substances referred to, if injurious, should be prohibited, and, if not deleterious, should be sold under their proper names. He thought that the name "Butterine" ought to be abolished, as it was misleading to the artizan, who probably thought the substance going by that name had some connection with butter, whereas it had none. He thought that the thanks of the House were due to the hon. Gentleman who had brought the question forward. It was one of the greatest importance, and concerned one of the chief staple productions of Ireland. The discussion that had taken place on this subject could not but have a salutary effect, as it must have taught the Irish farmers a lesson that they would all lay well to heart—namely, that the true remedy for the competition to which they were subjected in this particular trade was to be had by setting themselves with renewed energy and redoubled vigour to the task of producing the very highest class of butter.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is desirable that stops he taken by the Legislature to ensure that of the spurious compounds resembling butter, which are imported from America, those only which are harmless shall be permitted to be exposed for sale under distinctive names, and that the importation and sale of those which are hurtful or dangerous to health shall be prohibited altogether,"—(Sir Herbert Maxwell,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that he sympathized with the object of the Resolution the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had brought before the House; but it was not so easy of achievement as he seemed to suppose. It would be difficult to strengthen the laws dealing with this question of spurious butter; and one illustration given of the American Government showed that they had found a difficulty in carrying out laws which they had made to put down the imposition complained of. He had been a Member of a Select Committee which sat in 1875 to inquire into the law relating to the sale of food and drugs. Previous to 1872 there had been a considerable stir in the country in regard to the fraudulent sale of articles of food and drugs, and that led to the passing in 1872 of the Adulteration of Food and Drugs Act. That Act, having been in operation for three or four years, was found to have worked most grievous and great injustice, and a Committee was appointed in 1875 to take into consideration the whole of the law relating to that subject. In 1875 the Sale of Food and Drugs Act was passed, and by Clause 6 of that Act it was provided that no person should sell to the prejudice of the purchaser any article of food or drugs which was not in its nature, substance, or quality the article demanded by such purchaser, under a penalty of £20. Now, anybody who sold butterine or oleomargarine under the name of butter sold an article which in substance, quality, or nature was not the article demanded by the purchaser; and, therefore, if anybody went to a shop to buy butter, and was served with butterine or oleomargarine instead, the seller was liable to a penalty of £20. The Act also provided for the appointment of skilled analysts in every county and borough in England and Ireland, by whom samples of articles could be examined; and there were officers to watch whether the law was carried out or not. By such means the Legislature had done a great deal to check the improper adulteration of food and drugs; and it was scarcely possible, unless they prohibited the sale of those compounded articles altogether, to go any further. He understood that the hon. Baronet, by his Resolution, did not propose altogether to prohibit the sale of butterine and oleomargarine, provided they were sold under their proper names. The whole question was one of considerable difficulty, and he could not well see how they were to amend the law, or to make it stronger than it was at present, without going the length of total prohibition, and it was hardly desirable to go so far as that in the case of articles which were not hurtful to health and were expressly sold under their true names. The more stringent Act of 1872 had to be repealed after three years' working. What the Act of 1875 practically laid down was the principle that nothing should be sold under a false name and character. What, therefore, was sold as butter must be butter; and if it was butterine, the purchaser must be expressly told that the article was a compound. In those circumstances, he hoped that the hon. Baronet would not press his Resolution to a division, but rest content with the discussion he had raised, which might do some good in warning the public.


said, he also thoroughly approved the object of the Resolution; and he believed the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had, by introducing the question, done good service to the poorer classes in this country. Hardly a day passed without the prosecution of some dairy proprietor for mixing water with the milk he sold. They did not so much complain of that; but it was an innocent transaction compared with the selling of adulterated butter, which, as they had heard, was often made of raw and bad pork. He wished the authorities were as zealous in putting down the injurious adulterations of beer as they were the comparatively harmless adulterations of milk. The feeling outside the House was that the beer interest was too great a one for the magistrates to punish; at the same time, they apparently delighted in prosecuting the poor milk sellers. He trusted that, in the interests of the poorest class of butter consumers, the Government would accept the Resolution of the hon. Baronet, and do something to stop the importation of the article.


in supporting the Resolution, said, he thought it was really too bad to the farmers of this country and of Ireland to allow such things to be sold. Ho could not imagine what position the Government had taken up in opposing the Motion, which was simply one for inquiry into the matter, and for taking steps to prevent injury by the sale of such stuff. When it was sold as a compound merely, and as long as it was pure and not injurious to the health, there was no harm in it, and there could be no objection to its sale; but it was clearly often sold to deceive, and to make people believe they were buying butter. It was made up, not of butter, but of fat; and now the Americans could not get the price they wanted for their pork, they had lowered the price of the butterine, and increased the quantity they sold. He had drawn attention some time since to the sale of silent spirit as genuine whisky; but the Government of the day protected the persons who sold the silent spirit in working out their fraud, and the result was that the trade in the article was much injured. There was no attempt to interfere with free trade in the matter; the only aim and object of the Resolution seemed to be to detect Land. Let them make and sell the butterine its a compound; but what he objected to a large constituency, to show cause why was its being called butter. If they allowed a spurious article to come from the United Sates which was made up of lard and beef fat to be sold as butter, they were doing an injustice to the manufacturers of the genuine article, both in this country, in Ireland, and in Scotland. He hoped the Government would not oppose such a Motion, which was simply to detect fraud. There could be no doubt that these compounds now thrown upon the market were highly injurious to the health of the people; and for that reason, as well as to protect the farmers against a most unfair competition, he should vote in favour of the Resolution of the hon. Baronet.


said, as the Representative of a constituency which was largely interested in the making of butter, he rose to join in the appeal to the Government to accept the Resolution of the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell), and to return the thanks, not only of the Irish consumers, but of the great mass of the consumers of butter in that country, to him. His hon. Friend the Member for Wenlock (Mr. A. H. Brown), in opposing the Resolution, had enumerated the provisions of the Act of 1875, and showed that those provisions, if carried out, would have been vary effectual. The fact remained, however, that in spite of the Provisions of the Act, those spurious substances were sold under the name of butter; and that conclusively proved that the hon. Baronet was justified in calling the attention of the Government to the subject, and to ask that the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board should take steps to prevent such substances from being sold as butter. He (Colonel Colthurst) did not think the farmers, either of England or Ireland, would stand up against anything like fair competition; but this was a most unfair competition The farmer had now to compete with an American article which was not butter at all. He hoped the Government would see their way to give the subject the benefit of a Parliamentary inquiry by a Select Committee; and, if not by that, at least by a Departmental inquiry, in order to see how the Act of 1875 was carried out for the object for which it was passed.


said, he much desired, as the Representative of a large constituency, to show cause why the Government should not accept the Resolution of the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell). There were two ways of approaching this question, one in which the people have a deep interest. There was the Protectionist way, and the mode applicable to the general system of free imports adopted in this country. It seemed to him that the hon. Baronet had adopted the Protectionist view of the matter. He (Mr. Arnold) had risen for the purpose of calling the attention of the Government to an important amendment of the law which he thought it would be necessary to make, and which he hoped would meet, to a considerable extent, the views of those who supported the Resolution before the House. He had himself seen in Holland and elsewhere the manufacture of this oleomargarine butter, and he could only say that the result of his observations of the process of manufacture was not such as to make anyone unwilling that the product should form a part of the food supply of the people of this country. His own opinion was that these products afford the supply to the poor of this country of an article of food which was of very considerable value. The hon. Baronet proposed to deal with the matter at the ports of this country, and in doing so his Motion exhibited, at least, an affinity to that of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) with reference to our supply of meat. There was a dangerous affinity between these two Motions. He (Mr. Arnold) could not conceive that any interference with the imports of this country at the ports could be anything but of a more or less Protectionist character. He yielded to no hon. Member in desiring to protect the consumer in regard to articles of food purchased for consumption. It was, in this matter, desirable that every precaution should be taken in the locality where the article was consumed to protect a person from buying an article which was not butter. He was told that the law was protective as regards real butter. He could show that that was not the case. In the Public Health Act of 1875 butter was not mentioned at all. If sufficient care was taken in the markets of this country to protect the people from buying an article under an assumed name, then, he thought, all that could be done would have been done for the protection of the people. But that was not the case at the present moment. He held in his hand a letter from the Superintendent of the Manchester Produce Market, in which it was stated that that market was one of the largest centres for food distribution to the working community in the world. The gentleman in question had turned his attention particularly to the article of butter, and he said in the letter— In 1875, I seized 13 tubs of butter at a wholesale confectioner's bakery. It was the most filthy stuff imaginable, stunk fearfully, and was of many colours. It was admitted for the defence, when I brought the owner before the magistrates, that the stuff was intended for use as food, but that as it was butter, and butter did not come under the heads mentioned in the Act, the case must be dismissed, and the butter returned to the owner. The case was dismissed, the butter was returned to the owner, and I know that it was by him used in his pastry. Tons of this stuff is used by many of the wholesale confectioners in all the large towns. I believe it consists of the scrapings of butter from the grocers' shops, mixed with the inevitable dirt, and such as has become rancid, and altogether too bad to be used in the ordinary way. Thus a valuable public servant was unable to interfere, not only in that case, but in others of a similar character. Public officers were unable to deal as they ought to with this question of butter, because in the Public Health Act of 1875 the word butter, in the long enumeration of articles of food, was omitted. He presumed that omission was attributable, perhaps, to the fact that when the Act was framed oleomargarine and substances of that nature were not invented. At all events, the 116th and 117th clauses of that Act—and he would direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to the fact—dealt with this matter in the following words:— And the person to whom such animal, carcase, meat, poultry, fleck, fish, fruit, vegetable, &c. (no mention of butter), belongs at the time of the exposure for sale, or in whose possession or on whose premises the same were found, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £20 for every such article so condemned, or at the discretion of a justice of the peace, without the infliction of a fine, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding snore than three months. He (Mr. Arnold) had shown that by the simple omission of the words the officer whose duty it was to look after the health of the people in matters of food could not apply the law in regard to bad butter. He begged of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain), who, he presumed, would take part in the debate, to give his particular attention to this matter; and he would ask him, or anyone representing the Government, whether opportunity would not be taken to introduce such an amendment of the Public Health Act of 1875 as would protect the people's interests in this concern? Instead of adding the word butter to the long enumeration of articles contained in the 117th clause of the Act in question, they should strike out from the clause the whole of the list of articles, and simply insert words making it applicable to any article sold, or exposed for sale, for the food of the people.


thought that the suggestion just made by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) was worthy of the attention of the Government, as this was a matter which affected the producers and consumers in this country. The farming interest was not fairly treated when this spurious article was allowed to be imported and sold as butter. He should support the Resolution of the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) on the ground that it would be in the interest alike of the producers and the consumers that all articles of food sold should be sold under their proper names. He did not object to the importation and sale of these articles sold as butter as long as they were of pure manufacture; but it was only fair to ask Government to make provision that the people of the country, when purchasing their food, should know what they were buying.


Sir, the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigtownshire (Sir Herbert Maxwell) is naturally alarmed at the competition which British dairy farmers experience by the great development in the manufacture of oleomargarine. This increase arises from various causes, loot especially from two, the first being the greatly increased consumption of butter among our population, and, second, from the improvements made by chemistry in the manufacture of those fatty bodies which are known to us under the name of butter. The increased consumption leads to an increased supply, and the augmented demand naturally stimulated invention as to new sources of supply. These alarm the hon. Baronet and others interested in dairy farming. The quantity of butter consumed per head of the population is rapidly growing. Even the consumption of foreign butter increases quickly. Not many years ago the foreign butter imported was only 1½lb. per head of the population; now it is about 6 lb. The exports of butter from Holland were 20,294,000 kilogrammes in 1869; but in 1879 they had increased to 36,451,000 kilogrammes. During that time Holland has been largely importing oleomargarine from America. Her imports of fats were only 9,374,000 kilogrammes in 1869, while in 1879 they amounted to 37,461,000 kilogrammes. I understand that 12,000,000 lbs. of oleomargarine were imported into Holland last year from America; and, in all probability, a good deal of this oleomargarine comes to us in the excellent butter which we get from Holland. This oleomargarine, no doubt, comes to us directly under its own name as a butter substitute, though also in concealed admixture with American, French, and Dutch butters. The acknowledged oleomargarine exported from New York is already half the declared value of butter, though doubtless there is a good deal of concealed oleomargarine in the butter which is imported as dairy produce. The declared value of butter exported last year from New York was $5,179,071, and that of oleomargarine was $2,581,317. But the manufacture is not confined to America, for France, Holland, and England are actively engaged in making oleomargarine. Undoubtedly, this artificial butter is rapidly pushing inferior butter out of the market. But this sort of competition is not new to agriculture or to industry generally. Let me give an illustration. Both Turkey and Holland used to grow large crops of madder as a dye stuff for calico printing. For centuries these crops were most valuable; but a few years ago chemists learned how to make the colouring matter of madder from one of the products of coal tar, and these agricultural crops of Turkey and Holland have greatly fallen off in demand. Yet the hon. Baronet would not think it a fair subject of complaint that the artificial production of alizarine, the colouring matter of madder, should in any way be restricted to favour the agri- culturists of Turkey and Holland, who suffered so seriously by the competition of this coal-tar product. I think I shall be able to show that his present complaint in regard to butter is precisely of a similar character, except that, in the present case, the competition is not so severe, because oleomargarine simply consists of butter fats got from an ox, instead of butter fats from a cow, and, therefore, is simply one form of agricultural product interfering with another agricultural product. The fats which constitute butter, for the main part at least, can be got from different sources, and are not even restricted to animals, for such fats are found abundantly in plants as well as in animals. The chief solid fat in butter is the principal ingredient in palm oil, while the chief liquid fat of butter abounds in olive oil: even the soluble aromatic fats which give to butter its peculiar taste and flavour are found abundantly in cocoanut oil. If we could extract butter fats economically from vegetable oil, and give a sound, healthy butter from them at a cheap rate, it would be a matter of indifference to the public whether the butter came from the cow or from the vegetable. Let me give an illustration of my argument. Milk contains 4 lb. of cheese for every 100 lb. of milk. But pease and beaus contain nearly 20 lb. of cheese for each 100 lb. The Chinese, who are a great experimental nation, actually do make cheese from peas, and sell them in their markets. These cheeses are highly esteemed in China; but to our palates are insipid, because they do not contain butter fats. But I look forward to the day when cheeses will be made from beans, peas, and lentils, and after being mixed with good oleomargarine may form palatable and very economical cheeses. Would the hon. Baronet stay the progress of chemical invention, and prevent the manufacture of such cheeses from peas, simply because they would interfere with dairy produce? Now, to come to oleomargarine—that substance is prepared by purifying the more fusible parts of beef suet, and separating from it the less fusible fats and cellular tissue, which exists in all fats. The product consists of true butter fats, with the exception of about 5 per cent of aromatic soluble fats, which give to good butter its delicious flavour. But that 5 per cent makes all the difference as regards flavour and taste between good oleomargarine and good butter. The two cannot come into competition any more than inferior American cheeses can compete with our best Cheddar and Cheshire cheeses. The American cheeses do knock our bad cheeses out of the market, and so certainly good oleomargarine will and ought to drive our bad qualities of butter out of the market. Much of the butter sold to the poor is reduced in nutritive value by salt and water, and readily becomes rancid. Such inferior butter ought to be substituted by oleomargarine, which, if carefully prepared, has little tendency to rancidity. Although oleomargarine cannot compete with good butter, yet I am sure it will so thoroughly compete with bad butter that dairy farmers will be compelled to improve the quality of their butter. Unless thorough cleanliness is observed in the treatment of the milk, in the churning, and in the washing of the butter, the aromatic fats, which give superiority to good butter, become the source of rancidity to inferior butter, and render it positively unwholesome. But even when butter is not rank, it is so often brought into the market adulterated with so much salt and water that its nutritive value is much deteriorated. Natural butter may contain from 12 to 16 per cent of water, and from 1 to 2 per cent of salt. But many of the inferior butters contain 20 to 25 per cent of water, and from 5 to 10 per cent of salt. Such butters are a fraud upon the poor, and are far inferior in nutritive value to well prepared oleomargarine, which rarely contains above 12 per cent of water. It is with poor butter of this kind that oleomargarine will and ought to compete. Bad rancid butters are quite as unwholesome as bad specimens of rancid oleomargarine. Only it is rare to see oleomargarine rancid, because it is manufactured on a large scale, and with the care which large operations receive by skilled superintendence. There are other butter substitutes called "suine" prepared from the fat of hogs. I have no personal acquaintance with their mode of preparation, and reserve my opinion in regard to them. The hon. Baronet is afraid they may contain trichinæ; but I do not think that probable, as they lodge in the muscular and not in the fatty tissues. As to the relative wholesomeness of good butter and good oleomargarine, I do not think there is anything to choose between them. It has been said that, as oleomargarine is not heated above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it may contain the germs of disease in the animals; but so may the fats constituting butter which. have not been heated above 99 degrees Fahrenheit in the body of the cow. So far as we know, when the fats derived either from the cow or the ox are not rancid, they are equally wholesome. In both cases, when they are rancid, they are equally unwholesome. Surely, carefully prepared wholesome butter fats called oleomargarine are much better to the poor at 1s. per lb. than badly prepared and dirty butters at ls. 3d. or ls. 6d. per lb. How does the hon. Baronet propose that Government is to carry out his Resolution? The law already provides that an article of food sold under a name to which it is not entitled is punishable at law. Oleomargarine should certainly be sold as an artificial butter, and not as dairy butter. But how are you to enforce the law in this case, when the products of the cow and of the ox only differ in five parts out of the 100? I should be very sorry to decide upon a sample of artificial butter, whether it was from the cow or the ox. And when it is used for admixture with dairy butter the case is still more difficult. Very few chemists would be prepared to swear that a butter made half from the cow and half from the ox was unquestionably an adulterated article. It is not like chicory and coffee, for chicory is chicory and coffee is coffee. But oleomargarine and butter are practically identical, except as to their source and the absence of 5 per cent of aromatic fats, which probably before long may be added from cocoanut oil or other sources. The Resolution goes on to say that such artificial butters as are hurtful or dangerous should be prohibited altogether. Certainly rancid oleomargarine is a nasty and hurtful compound; but not any more so than nasty and rancid butter which abounds in many markets. Both are unfit for human food, although both may be purified by well known processes. The farmer has a much better method than legislation to protect his dairy produce from cheap substitutes for butter. Let him cultivate improved methods of preparation, strict cleanliness, efficient washing of the butter, and fair treatment. Let him send such butters to the market without being laden with salt and water to increase the weight; and his superior and well flavoured butter, with little tendency to rancidity, will keep its own position in the markets in spite of the equally salubrious but less well flavoured oleomargarine, which will certainly drive bad butters out of the field, but cannot compete with really good butters.


thought the House had been rather carried away from the question. The Resolution of his hon. Friend (Sir Herbert Maxwell) was to the effect that it was desirable that such steps should be taken by the Legislature as would insure, as far as possible, that spurious compounds resembling butter should only be sold under distinctive names. That it did not appear to him (Viscount Folkestone) would be a very difficult thing to do. They had been informed that there were Acts which provided for that necessity; but those Acts did not do what was required in that direction. The Resolution went on to say that the importation and sale of those compounds which were injurious to health should be prohibited altogether. It was all very well to say that good oleomargarine, or whatever it might be, was as good or better than bad butter; but that was not the question before the House. The question was this—that the butterman or the shopkeeper who sold oleomargarine or butterine in place of butter should call it by a distinctive name, and not sell it as butter. His hon. Friend who brought this Motion before the House said he did so in favour of the consumers, and he put aside the agriculturists altogether. His hon. Friend, he (Viscount Folkestone) thought, was right in doing so; but this question was of very great interest to the producer of butter. What was happening now in England? On account of bad seasons, bad weather, and for other reasons the agricultural interest was at a very low ebb. It was a curious fact that in the last few years a vast quantity of arable land in this country had been turned into pasture, for, in 1879, there were about 30,000 acres more of permanent pasture than in 1878. He presumed that had been done for the purpose of growing cattle and cows, and of making butter and cheese, and producing milk, and beef, and mutton. He did not be- lieve that the increase of butter making corresponded with the increase of permanent pasture. He believed, on the contrary, that the making of butter had decreased in this country. But what was the reason for that decrease? He thought we might fairly say that one reason, at any rate, was the importation of butter, and butter substitutes that were sold as butter, which made it impossible for any agriculturist to compete with the foreign market. The Report of Mr. Bateman, of the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade, said it was almost impossible to obtain accurate figures of oleomargarine and butterine; but it appeared that the present production of oleomargarine and butterine in the Eastern States was, at any rate, nearly 10,000,000 lbs. per annum. The increase of the production of oleomargarine, in the past year, was owing to the higher price of natural butter. By the supply of the market with these spurious substances, the manufacture of real butter was being gradually driven out. A cry of Protection had been raised against the Resolution by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold); but the hon. Member, though intimating his intention to oppose the Resolution, really used words which supported it. He acknowledged the public needed protection, and that was exactly what the Resolution proposed. He (Viscount Folkestone) claimed the support of the Government for butter against oleomargarine and other compounds like butter in appearance—'tis grease—but living grease no more. In conclusion, he would only say that the majority of the speeches that evening had been in favour of the Resolution, which, he could truly assert, was in the interest of the consumer, as much as of the producer, inasmuch as it left him free to buy, according to his taste, either good butter or the adulterated article.


thought that, except on a few points, it was not necessary for him to supplement the interesting and conclusive speech of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Lyon Playfair). The hon. Baronet who had moved the Resolution wished to avoid any impression of seeking to re-introduce Protection, and was animated by a desire to protect the consumers of the country against deleterious products, which were being forced upon them. Without in the least doubting his good faith, he must say it was somewhat curious to find assurances of this nature coming from those who represented the producers. Within the last few days there had been two or three questions raised, all from the other side of the House, all running in the same direction. There was a Motion that, if accepted, would have led to the absolute prohibition of all imports of live cattle; and there had been questions put pointing in the direction of absolute prohibition of all pork from the United States, and now here was another proposal which would lead to the absolute prohibition of butter imports from foreign countries. How enormous was the trade with which it was proposed to interfere might be gathered from the statement o the hon. Baronet himself that 11,000,00 lbs. of dairy produce were annually imported into this country. Well, that showed the enormous importance of the trade with which he proposed to make so great an interference; and though he declared he was so much interested in the consumer, the noble Lord who had just spoken contemplated with some alarm the effect these productions would have on farming industry. Well, he could not help thinking that he and his constituents were alarmed without reason. There was not the slightest proof that these things had any effect in lowering the price of butter. At present, probably the price of good butter was higher than it had ever been before; and if the price was the only stimulus required for the production of good butter that stimulus existed. Now, as to the nature of the foreign butter products, although the hon. Baronet had given an almost thrilling account of the dangers he apprehended, there was no evidence of any real danger from their use. The hon. Baronet seemed to rely chiefly on a caricature he exhibited contrasting the artificial with the natural production. Mr. Bateman, of the Board of Trade, had shown that, as regarded oleomargarine, it was, at least, as wholesome as butter itself; but, of course, as his right hon. Friend had said, the product was unwholesome when bad, just as bad butter was unwholesome. Mr. Bateman said he had visited the manufactory of the largest Company for the manufacture of the article rather late in the afternoon, so as to see the premises in their least attractive aspect, when the day's work was over. Beyond the floor being very slippery in places where oil was spilled, there was nothing to disgust the eye, and all possible care was given to the cleanliness of the plant and manufacture. Scientific witnesses had given evidence in its favour in the United States, where, by the way, the competition of this material with butter had been felt as keenly as in our own country. In reply to an application of the Health Department of New York City, Professor Chandler had said— I have satisfied myself that it is quite as valuable as butter from the cow. The material is fresh suet; the processes of manufacture are harmless, and are conducted with great cleanliness. An official Report had also been made to the Legislature of the State of New York that "there was no objection to the manufacture and sale of this substance." He could quote many more passages to the same effect, all of them conclusively proving the wholesomeness and utility of good oleomargarine, and it would be most unjustifiable to interfere with the importation of this article of food of so great importance. Another matter which had been referred to was the substance known as "suine," which was made from the lard of pigs instead of from the suet of oxen. The special danger supposed to attach to pork arose from the presence of a parasite in the muscles of the animal, and not in the fat. At the present time hog's lard was an article of common food to large numbers of the working classes, and sold as hog's lard, and not as butter. In the poorer parts of Birmingham, and in many of the districts around, there were poor people who never saw butter on their tables from one year's end to another. They found hog's lard a good substitute, and bread covered with hog's lard was common food at every meal. Were they to prohibit the importation of lard of all descriptions? ["No, no!"] But the hon. Baronet proposed to prohibit the import of these articles that were injurious. [Sir HERBERT MAXWELL: As butter?] As articles of food. He stated that seine was only hog's lard under another name; but was it injurious as food? It would be monstrous to prohibit this article of food so largely consumed without much more complete evidence than had been offered. There was another substance referred to—butter on a soapstone basis. If the hon. Member was of opinion that the Americans were able to manufacture butter out of stone he would find himself mistaken. As he understood it, soapstone or steatite, a very heavy substance, was used to adulterate butter, and to add to its weight. To a certain quantity of genuine butter a certain quantity of this substance was added entirely for the purposes of fraud. This was neither less nor more than akin to the practice which was adopted in this country of sanding the sugar, and it was carried out precisely for the same purpose. But it was not true that soapstone was in any way injurious to health. It was, no doubt, a fraud to pass it off as butter; but Professor Church informed him that if they were going to eat minerals at all they might as well eat soapstone as anything else, and they would not suffer any bad consequences from it. However, the fraud on the purchaser was admitted; but it should not be forgotten that on that subject they had already very stringent laws. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) raised a rather different issue, and seemed inclined to turn the tables upon the agriculturists, and assumed that there was as much adulteration with the natural as the artificial butter, by reason of there being no such power of seizing butter bought for food, as was the case with milk, meat, and other articles of food. He had spoken of what was an undoubted defect in the law, the omission of butter in the Public Health Act, as an oversight; and whenever that Act came up for consideration that omission would probably be supplied; but the hon Member referred to rancid butter, which, though unfit for food, was still butter, and could not be the subject of prosecution as an adulteration; but the Sale of Food and Drugs Act gave every protection. Section 30 prohibited any person from mixing injurious ingredients with any article of food with the intent to sell under a liability of £50 for the first offence, and subsequently he would be liable to be convicted of a misdemeanour, and to a punishment of six months' hard labour. By the 6th section, if anything was sold to the prejudice of a purchaser which was not of the proper substance and quality, the vendor was made liable to a fine of £20. He thought the subject more properly belonged to his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. But from what he personally knew, he believed the Act had proved efficient when properly put in force. There was thus power to punish fraud in such cases. He thought, therefore, with reference to the first point mentioned by the hon. Baronet—namely, that such compounds as were harmless should only be sold under their proper names—sufficient security already existed. With reference to the second question, which concerned importation and sale, he would say, in the first place, that it was not proved to the satisfaction of any reasonable person that any of the compounds in question were dangerous to health. There was no evidence to that effect; secondly, the compulsory examination of those articles at the Custom House, in order to determine their character, could hardly be carried out, as they were of a perishable character; and to insist on such an examination would amount to the prohibition of the importation of foreign butter. Such a measure would really be prohibitive; and its effect would be to raise the price of an article of daily universal consumption. He could not, therefore, support the Resolution of the hon. Baronet.


said, he had hoped that some suggestive comments would have been made by the right hon. Gentleman on the subject before the House. But it appeared that in the Returns of the Board of Trade those articles were not tabulated, and no satisfactory entry was made of the large importation of butterine and oleomargarine. He trusted steps would be taken to tabulate those substances. He thought it was hardly fair to insinuate that his hon. Friend intended his Motion to be of a protective character. His hon. Friend knew, as everybody knew, that an attempt of the kind would be utterly hopeless. He would advise his hon. Friend to make an alteration in his Resolution by leaving out the last two lines, which referred to the importation of these articles. He would be sorry to prevent the importation of all articles that were dangerous to health. In that case many kinds of dyes, drugs, and medicines would be excluded. He would say one word on behalf of butterine. When he was in America, ho had visited a manufactory of butterine. It would have been im- possible to distinguish the different processes—all of which were perfectly open to the inspection of anyone—from those carried on in the case of real butter. The compound consisted of 45 per cent of cream, and 55 per cent of animal fat. It was, after mixture, churned, made up into pounds, stamped, and sold as butterine. It was sold under its proper name, and was very popular among the people; and when the price of butter fell ruinously in America towards the close of 1879, butterine maintained its price of 22 cents—11d. a pound. He should be sorry to see that excellent article excluded from the English market. As to chemical examinations, no analysis would be really efficient where the differences were so subtle. If a chemist were to take a pound of his flesh and analyze it, and then take and analyze a pound of the flesh of the hon. Member for Salford, no such difference would probably be detected as to indicate that one was a Tory and the other a Liberal. He hoped that the President of the Board of Trade would see his way towards practically giving effect to the purpose of the Resolution, and that his hon. Friend would agree to the modification which he had suggested.


said, he hoped the hon. Baronet would accede to the suggestion of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). He did not wonder that the Government had some suspicion of Protectionist tendency in the Motion; but he did not think that the hon. Baronet had any purpose of the kind in his mind. The subject was one of great interest to Irish Members, as butter was a main staple of industry in that country, especially in the South. The value of the butter passing through the Cork market equalled the value of all the butter and butterine which, according to the statements made in the debate, were exported from New York. In that part of Ireland the making of butter was an extensive domestic manufacture, and employed a class of people who would otherwise not be employed. If the Mover of the Resolution acceded to the suggestion which had been made, and omitted all reference to prohibition, he hoped it would be accepted by the Government. Everything should be sold for what it was, and not for what it was not. He knew that in England a large quantity of butterine was being sold as butter, and that was a fraud on the consumer. It was all very well to say that there were certain clauses in an Act of Parliament under which this might be prevented; the question was why they were not enforced, and why there was not machinery for detecting the fraud on the consumers? Chemists might find it difficult to distinguish between natural and artificial butter; but there were experts who could do it without hesitation. He had not the slightest fear of American competition. It had been beneficial in cheapening food when prices were becoming exorbitant; but, still, he always told his constituents that if they would produce the best butter, and the best beef and mutton, they could hold their own. In this competition, however, people should be able to know exactly what they were buying.


said, he thought that the Mover and the debate had scarcely been treated with fairness by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who imported into it the suggestion of Protection, which was not justified by the facts. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed to the Sale of Food and Drugs Act as containing stringent provisions, which were effective so far as they enabled the consumer to require that the retailer should guarantee the genuineness of what he sold subject to penalties. It would be an additional safeguard to the public if the system could be more widely recognized and adopted, and if care could be taken that in wholesale importation oleomargarine and butterine should not be admitted under the name of butter.


But the Resolution asks us to prohibit importation altogether.


replied, that all lie wished was that only those articles should be prohibited which were injurious to health. He did not say that oleomargarine was injurious to health; what he said was that it should not be sold as butter. He could not see why Government should hesitate to accept the Resolution. These articles should not be imported with a view to defrauding and imposing upon the public.


said, he should desire to move an Amendment to the Resolution when he was in Order.


said, the Resolution was an Amendment, and if the House consented to its being withdrawn, another could be moved.


said, that the country was under a considerable obligation to the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) who had brought forward the Resolution. The subject was one of deep interest to two important sections of the community. It closely affected the great dairy farming interest, which must, together with that of market gardening, greatly develop in this country as the production of corn decreased. It was also of vital importance to the whole of the labouring classes. They were, as it had already been clearly shown, seriously injured in two ways by the pernicious compounds which were sold under the name of butter. In the first place, they paid a price for these articles which was two or three times their worth, because they imagined they were purchasing butter; and, in the second place, they and their families were injured in health by the effects of the deleterious substances. The Government were asked to take a very simple and necessary step—namely, to cause all such manufactured compounds that were not butter to be sold under their proper names, and to prohibit the sale of suine and soapstone, which were pernicious to health. But this the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain), most unreasonably, refused to do. In opposing the Motion of the hon. Member for Wigtownshire, the Government had acted as they generally did in their foreign policy—as the friends of every country but their own.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 75; Noes 59: Majority 16.—(Div. List, No. 177.)

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."