HC Deb 11 June 1890 vol 345 cc581-607

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

(12.30.) MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

I beg to move the re-committal of the Bill in respect of Clause 5. I have given notice of my intention to move the re-committal in regard to Clauses 4, 5, and 6; but I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for West Salford (Mr. Lees Knowles), who has charge of the Bill, consents to the striking out of Clauses 4 and 6, and, therefore, it is not necessary to trouble the House in reference to them. Clause 5 contains a considerable amount of contentious matter, and I think the quickest way of discussing our points of difference will be to do so conversationally in Committee. It will certainly obviate the necessity of making set speeches. There is this justification for the re-committal of the Bill in regard to Clause 5, that clause was never really considered at all. It went through Committee without discussion in about one minute after midnight.

Motion, "That the Bill be re-committed in respect of Clause 5,"—(Mr. M'Laren,)—put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


I have a series of Amendments to move in this clause, and the first is on page 2, line 2, to leave out "shall have reasonable cause to believe" and insert "is in the posses sion of evidence." The words which provide that the medical officer shall have reasonable cause to believe are much too vague.

Question, "That the words 'shall have reasonable cause to believe' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

Question, "That the words 'is in the possession of evidence' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.


I have now to move, on page 2, line 41, to leave out "or" and insert "and." My object in moving the substitution of "and" for "or" is to provide that the medical officer shall not in every single instance be able of his own motion to put the Act in force on a mere supposition. The Amendment will secure that the dairy farmer shall not be made the victim of a mere supposition.

Amendment moved, Clause 5, page 2, line 41, to leave out "or" and insert "and."—(Mr. M'Laren.)

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

(12.40.) MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)

I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment. If "and" is substituted for "or," it will let in persons outside the district in which action is to be taken by the Local Authorities. I hope the Amendment will not be pressed. see errata page 1


I should like to know what view the President of the Local Government Board takes of the Amendment.


I think there is great force in what my hon. Friend the Member for West Salford has said, that there might be disease outside a given area, and, in that case, the clause would be inoperative.


If the disease is outside one district, it would be inside another.


But there might be one district in which the Act is operative, whereas it would not affect another.

MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

I quite agree with the right hon. Gentle- man that the clause ought to remain as it is in this respect. The substitution of the word "and" for "or" would render it necessary for the Acting Authorities to prove that damage would be done by infection before they can take action.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(12.43.) MR. M'LAREN

The next question is one which deals with the employment of a Veterinary Inspector. My hon. Friend has accepted the principle, but there is a difference between us as to the extent of the powers to be conferred. I propose to move in line 3, after the word "power" to insert the words "if accompanied by a Veterinary Inspector appointed by the Local Authority of the district." My main contention is that the Veterinary Inspector should be present whenever the dairy is inspected. I am strongly of opinion that the medical officer ought always to take the Veterinary Inspector with him, and I hope my Amendment will be accepted. I have received letters from the Metropolitan Dairymen's Society, and the British Dairy Farmers' Association, strongly supporting that view, and the hon. Member for East Norfolk (Sir E. Birkbeck) asks me to say on behalf of the Chamber of Agriculture, which he represents, that he much prefers my Amendment to that of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill, which provides that the medical officer shall be accompanied by a Veterinary Inspector or some other veterinary surgeon merely when he visits the cattle. He feels, as those connected with the dairy interest also feel, that it is necessary to have the Veterinary Inspector always there. My own opinion is that the duty should be discharged by the Veterinary Inspector, and that it would be quite improper to bring in any veterinary surgeon.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 3, after the word "power," to insert the words "if accompanied by a Veterinary Inspector."—(Mr. Walter M'Laren.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I must ask my hon. Friend not to press this Amendment. The Amendment which stands on the Paper in my name goes, I think, quite far enough. The question is not so much the consideration of the health of the animals as of the persons who are liable to be infected. I am not inclined to lay much stress upon the inspection of animals in the dairies, and my proposition is that the medical officer should be accompanied in his inspection by the Veterinary Inspector, or some other veterinary surgeon. I do not think it is necessary to have two Reports, but one Report from the medical officer will be quite sufficient. Then, again, the question of time is of importance, and it is quite possible that the Veterinary Inspector might be unable to accompany the medical officer in his inspection at the proper moment.

(12.50.) SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

I quite agree with the hon. Member in charge of the Bill. I think that in many instances it would be found that disease has been disseminated without the animals having had anything to do with it. There are diseases which may arise from the condition of the dairy keeper's family, the state of the drainage, an imperfect water supply, and many other causes, and it is manifest that the opinion of a Veterinary Inspector upon the nature of the drainage or the water supply, or the state of the dairy keeper's family would have very little weight indeed. I, therefore, think that it would be undesirable to require the medical officer to be accompanied, in every instance, by a Veterinary Inspector. I hope that my hon. friend will withdraw his Amendment.

(12.51.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeen, W.)

I am of the same opinion, because I believe that in many cases the presence of a veterinary surgeon would be altogether superfluous. There are many questions in regard to the dissemination of disease by means of milk which can only be investigated properly by a medical man, and the presence of a veterinary surgeon would be of no assistance at all. I would, therefore, recommend my hon. Friend to withdraw the Amendment.

(12.52.) MR. ESSLEMONT

As one who has had a great deal of practical experience, I would also recommend the hon. Member not to press the Amendment. I think lie mis-apprehends entirely the view of infection being conveyed through milk. There are many cases in which the infection does not arise from the state of the animals themselves, but from the conditions of the dairy, the drainage, the water supply, and other circumstances, altogether apart from the animals from which the milk comes. Almost without exception the milk comes from the cow pure, and the infection arises from circumstances in regard to which a veterinary surgeon can have no knowledge whatever. In Aberdeenshire it was proved that although infection was conveyed by the milk the animals themselves were perfectly healthy.

(12.54.) MR. A. PEASE (York)

I hope that my hon. Friend will persevere with the Amendment. I believe that the objection to this part of the Bill originated with the Cleveland Chamber of Agriculture, and was ultimately adopted by the Central Chamber, which took into consideration all the points which have been referred to.

(12.55.) MR. M'LAREN

I think that the hon. Members who have advised the withdrawal of the Amendment have overlooked the Interpretation Clause of the Bill in regard to the word "dairy." If it provided that a dairy should mean a room in which milk is placed in large cans there would be no difficulty, and there would be no necessity for a Veterinary Inspector to go there, or to enter a shop in which milk is sold. Bnt "a dairy" is to include any farmhouse or cow shed, or any other place from which milk can be supplied. It is certainly my intention to take a Division upon the Amendment. I regard it as being of much importance, in view of the wide interpretation which may be given to the word "dairy."

(12.57.) MR. ESSLEMONT

In most of the cases in which infection has been communicated it has been proved that it arose from circumstances altogether outside the province of a veterinary surgeon.

(12.58.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

I am afraid that the adoption of the Amendment would render the Act absolutely unworkable. That would certainly be the case in Ireland, because in many cases it would be necessary to send 20, 30, or 50 miles before the services of a veterinary surgeon could be obtained. There are always plenty of doctors, but the properly qualified veterinary surgeons are very few in number.

(1.0.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

Just a word of correction on a matter of fact. It is not absolutely a fact that all diseases connected with milk arise from impurities introduced into the milk after it has left the cow. As a matter of fact, the latest investigations indicate that at least two dangerous and terrible diseases are capable of propagation by milk exactly as it is taken from the animal—scarlatina and diphtheria. This is a recent addition to our scientific knowledge. It has been ascertained that cowrs do suffer from scarlatina in a form identical with that in which the disease affects human beings, and it has been proved, on the strongest presumptive evidence, that milk from animals so affected may give rise to scarlatina in human beings, and be the cause of a serious epidemic. Researches carried on at the Brown Institute show, also, that the diphtheria poison can be communicated from man to cows, and the milk from a cow so infected did give rise to diphtheria in cats and other animals susceptible to the disease. But I do not say this is an argument for accepting the Amendment. The business of the Medical Officer of Health is to trace and control an epidemic, and his investigation would be directed to the milk supply, the drainage, the water at the dairy, and the persons connected with the dairy, and if he found nothing to account for it he would naturally look at the cattle, and, in doing this, ho would naturally supplement his information by applying to a competent veterinary surgeon. The medical officer would, in all probability, be a man of exceptional scientific knowledge, and he would not have recourse to the ordinary veterinary surgeon to be found in such districts as the hon. and gallant Member for Galway has referred to. An appeal from the medical officer to the ordinary veterinary surgeon would be a foolish and dangerous stop.

(1.3.) MR. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

Under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act veterinary surgeons, and especially in Ireland, have great experience in the examination of dairies, and I think in Dublin the inspection of dairies is altogether in the hands of veterinary surgeons. I think it is an extremely serious thing to entrust to a Medical Officer of Health the power to stop the sale of milk, not only from a dairy, but from a farm also. Of course the ease stated by my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Nolan) is altogether visionary, and probably the Act would not be in operation in the Union of Tuam. But there will be power in the Bill to call on the local veterinary surgeon, and I should imagine there is a veterinary surgeon there to assist the medical officer. It would be a serious thing to entrust the power to a medical officer, open sometimes to considerations apart from actual knowledge. It would be, I think, a dangerous thing to entrust him with the power of stopping a man's trade. There is no provision for compensation, and a man might be practically ruined by a single individual.


The mode of procedure would probably be this. When any epidemic is thought to be connected with a dairy, a medical man skilled in tracing the causes of an epidemic would, having exhausted all the more common causes of disease apart from the cattle, turn to the cattle, and then nobody has any objection to the intervention of the veterinary surgeon. This is a question of public administration. A locality having determined to adopt this Act, the putting in operation of the machinery for the preservation of health rests with the Medical Officer of Health, and we want to have this machinery put in operation without unnecessary delay or impediment. We have no objection to the veterinary surgeon in the case of disease of animals, but this is a question of human life and health; and if, in the course of investigation, no cause having been discovered, it is suspected that the cattle originate the disease, then the functions of the veterinary surgeon come in, and there is no objection. I hope my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press the Amendment.

(1.8.) MR. A. PEASE

There seems to be an idea that the opinion of the Veterinary Inspector will over-ride that of the medical officer, but that is not so; the latter may pass through the cow-shed and not observe that the disease is in the cattle. This Amendment will be a protection to 'the farmer and also to the public.

(1.9.) MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)

My hon. Friend has introduced an Amendment, adding the words "if accompanied by a Veterinary Inspector or some other veterinary surgeon." So the point at issue is not whether the medical officer is to be accompanied, but whether it shall be by a Veterinary Inspector or some other surgeon—

(1.9.) MR. M'LAREN

No; the point at issue is whether he shall accompany the medical officer on other occasions, or only when the visit is to inspect the cattle. The question as to whether it shall be the Veterinary Inspector or a casual veterinary surgeon, is a different point to be raised later.

(1.10.) MR. BAUMANN

But if the Amendment is carried, surely then it will be made obligatory?


Quite so, but other words might be added.

(1.10.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 42; Noes 82.—(Div. List, No. 128.)

(1.20.) MR. M'LAREN

I should like to know whether the Government approve of allowing the words "any other veterinary surgeon," to stand? My own feeling is in favour of Veterinary Inspector or officer. When the Bill was introduced, it provided that any doctor should make the inspection, but at the instance of the Government, I presume, any doctor was struck out. But now the same thing occurs in regard to veterinary inspection. It seems to me that when a public duty is to be performed it should be entrusted to a public officer. I entirely object to any casual veterinary surgeon being called in, whether qualified or not. I do not know whether it is necessary for a qualified veterinary surgeon to have a diploma, but, at any rate, I think we ought to limit the duties to a public official. I do not know what the view of the Government may be, but that is my impression. I beg, pro forma, to move the omission of the words.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words, "or some other veterinary surgeon."

(1.21.) MR. RITCHIE

This might lead to lamentable delay in the inspection, for the Veterinary Inspector might be engaged at a distance out of the district. There would be no objection to the addition of the words "approved by the Local Authority."


Something of that kind I should be willing to accept.

MR. C. ACLAND (Cornwall, Launceston)

Would not the approval of the Local Anthority be equally a cause of delay? Would a general approval be sufficient?

(1.22.) MR. RITCHIE

It would be competent for the Local Authority to nominate generally, not specially.

MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

There is danger in allowing the Local Authority to stamp with their approval, or mark with their disapproval, a man engaged in earning an honest livelihood. As a matter of principle, I strongly object to this.


It might bring us to an agreement if we inserted the word qualified" before veterinary surgeon.


Yes, the words "properly qualified" might be inserted.

MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N)

Why should we not throw upon the Inspector the responsibility of appointing a deputy? It would be easy to avoid delay, by adding the words "appointed by him."


In reference to another Bill the House universally expressed disapproval of one officer being nominated by another.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, after "other," to insert "properly qualified."—(Mr. M'Laren.)

Amendment agreed to

Amendment proposed, after "dairy and," insert "if accompanied by a Veterinary Inspector, or some other properly qualified veterinary surgeon, to inspect."—(Mr. Knowles.)

Amendment agreed to.

(1.23.) MR. M'LAREN

Is it possible to insert words to allow the Veterinary Inspector to make his Report in cases where he inspects cattle? I think he ought to make a Report on his inspection, and the Local Authority should have his opinion at first hand; it should not be communicated privately to the medical officer. For that purpose, I move to substitute the word "they" for "he" in line 5. I do not know whether the grammar is not a little confused; I have not had time to consider it.

Amendment proposed, line 5 omit "he" and insert "they."


Two Reports, I think, would be objectionable. I think it is sufficient for the Authority to have the medical officer's Report, in the preparation of which he may have had the assistance of the Veterinary Inspector.

(1.25.) MR. RITCHIE

It is quite clear the medical officer must be responsible in framing his Report, and must give his opinion as to detriment to health. It would be proper that this should be accompanied by a Report from the Veterinary Inspector, but the duty of framing his Report in reference to health must rest with the medical officer.

(1.26.) MR. M'LAREN

That is precisely my view. Will the right hon. Gentleman suggest words to carry that out, and I will withdraw my Amendment? The Report of the Veterinary Inspector might be sent under cover by the medical officer.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, line 5, leave out "or is likely to arise."—(Mr. Knowles.)

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed,

In line 8, after the word "dairy," to insert the words "to appear before them to show cause why an order should not be issued requiring him."—(Mr. M'Laren.)

(1.27.) MR. RITCHIE

To carry out my suggestion, I would propose an addition in line 7, thus— He shall report thereon to the Local Authority and his Report shall he accompanied by any Report the Veterinary Inspector may desire to make.

(1.29.) MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)

The grammar will then require correction.


That maybe done on Report stage.


I think the wording of my Amendment is rather better than that of the hon. Member's Amendment now before us.


I am quite willing to accept it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Other Amendments made.

The following Amendments were also agreed to:—Clause 5, page 3, line 10, after "by the Local Authority," insert— And if he fail to show such cause, then the Local Authority may issue such Order; Line 11, leave out from "local," to "district," inclusive, and insert "Sanitary Authority and County Council of the district or county;" line 15, leave out from "and," to "respectively," inclusive.


In page 3, line 18, after "respectively," insert— An Order made by a Local Authority in pursuance of this section shall he forthwith withdrawn on the Local Authority being satisfied that the milk supply has been changed, or that the cause of the infection has been removed I am willing to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member to insert after the word "Authority," the words "or the medical officers on its behalf."


The Local Authority may only meet once a fortnight, and it would not do for the matter to stand over for that time. I, therefore, move the insertion of the words "or the medical officer on its behalf."

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 26, at end, add— Provided also, that no occupier of a dairy shall be liable to an action for breach of con- tract on the part of any of his customers, if the breach be due to an Order from the Local Authority under this Act."—(Mr. Knowles.)


I beg to move that the words "on the part of any of his customers" be struck out. They seem vague and unnecessary.

Question, "That those words stand part of the Amendment," put, and negatived.

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.

Bill reported.

Bill, as amended, considered.

MR. STEPHENS (Hornsey)

I beg to move the following new Clause:— Whenever it shall he certified to the Local Authority by the Medical Officer of Health that it is desirable, with a view to prevent the spread of infectious disease, that they should be furnished with a list of the patients of any medical practitioner, the Local Authority may require such medical practitioner to furnish them with a full and complete list of the names and addresses of the persons such medical practitioner is attending or has attended during the past two months, and such medical practitioner shall furnish such list accordingly, and the Local Authority shall pay to him for every such list the sum of ten shillings. I think hon. Members will feel that we are dealing only with the fringe of the matter, while my clause addresses itself to the most serious risks of infection. It has not to do with minute causes of possible infection; these can never be wholly excluded while human beings are crowded in towns under the pressure of constant association for employment or other necessities of daily life. Hon. Members must be aware that doctors often come fresh from the sources of infection, where it is abounding and profuse, fresh and in highest vitality, and, notwithstanding, cannot decline attending patients highly susceptible to infection; and I think those who have the requisite knowledge and fortitude would do far better not to send for the doctor. Again, the doctor may be called in suddenly to attend lying-in women, who are highly susceptible to infection. I am bearing in mind, more than anything', the danger of puerpal fever. I might, perhaps, refer to an incident which occurred a short time ago. The superintendent of one of our cemeteries asked me why it was that whenever they had a burial from a lying-in hospital they always had a great number of burials a week or two afterwards. Sensible men cannot be beguiled by what is said about disinfection, because they know that there is nothing settled about what is called disinfection. I myself have experimented for many years with antiseptics, with a view of seeing under what conditions they would check the development or growth of germs, and I may say that everyone who knows anything at all about this subject is aware that the whole question is fraught with great difficulty. We know on the very best authority that analysis of water is almost useless for detecting what is dangerous or otherwise. You may have water which is full of organic matter, "but which, at the same time, may be perfectly innocuous, while, on the other hand, you may have water containing hardly any organic matter, but the little it does contain is likely to produce the most deadly results. Therefore, I say we ought to endeavour to get rid of these pretences, and try to get to the bottom and the truth. Of course, the doctor is, from the necessities of his occupation, in the very midst of whatever infection happens to exist. His hair and his professional black coat are mediums for the conveyance of infection. We know that cloth attracts and retains infection, collecting the deadly particles much in the same way as a cotton-wool filter collects and holds the London "blacks." Well, I ask how do you propose to disinfect the doctor? Certainly he ought to be shaved, because his hair is a sure medium for the conveyance of infection. Moreover, his woollen clothing cannot be disinfected, and if it were washed with alkalies it would soon rot and be destroyed. If we are to shrink from subjecting young and inexperienced, and, therefore, often reckless, men just emerged from the students' condition to wholesome rules and regulations, if we are to make them judges in their own cases instead of enforcing upon them some sort of tangible responsibilty, we practically leave them free to pronounce the verdict on their own proceedings. This is exactly what I wish to prevent. I do not wish to allow these men to cover up everything they do by a certificate of death, and in that way to close the chapter. I say that if the House assents to this measure, without dealing with the question I refer to in some such way as I have proposed, it will be straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Of course, we all know that great excuses are to be made for the doctors. They are constantly being sent for in crowded districts, where they must attend large numbers of patients suffering from every form of disease. In this way they carry contagion and infection from house to house, but, this being so, I say that we are bound to deal with the matter in a firm and sensible manner. I implore the House not to allow this Bill to pass without some legislation on this point. It is our duty to insist on imposing some sense of responsibility on those who are necessarily vehicles of infection. What the Sanitary Authorities may do when they get this Bill I cannot tell, any more than I can imagine what they will do when they get a list from the dairyman or from the laundry. All this seems to me to be merely intended to enable an interesting Report to be written after all the mischief is done. I want to stop the mischief, and I have no doubt that if the Local Authority possessed the power I propose to confer they would deal effectually with this matter. They certainly could deal with it effectually by requiring medical practitioners attending infectious cases to confine their practice to that class of disorders. That would be a sensible, a humane, and a common sense thing to do. Medical men ought not to be allowed to attend lying-in women and persons suffering from infectious diseases at the same time, but at present we have no means of preventing this. I therefore, with some confidence, commend this clause to the House as one well worthy of its acceptance.

Clause (Local Authorities may require medical practitioners to furnish list of patients,)—(Mr. Stephens,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


I cannot think that the hon. Gentle- man opposite has moved this clause seriously. There are, doubtless, a certain number of people who dislike the Bill, and this proposal would seen to have been put forward by them as a sort of reductio ad absurdum. I happen to reside in a dairy country, the vale of Berkeley, a very important dairy district, and I have endeavoured to ascertain the views of the dairy farmers in that part of the Kingdom on this subject, and in reply to what has already been said on this point I have to say that I have not heard a single word against the proposals contained in this Bill. On the contrary, all respectable people engaged in dairy farming appear to approve of the measure, and think that the only people it would hit are those who deserve to be hit. But I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite whether he means seriously to argue that medical men are to go about clean shaved and without any clothes? If so, I recommend him to bring in a Bill to regulate the Medical Profession. That, however, has nothing to do with the Milk Bill, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will not put the House to the trouble of dividing on a proposal which I really cannot look upon as anything but a joke.

Question put, and negatived.

(1.58.) Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, to leave out from the word "cowshed," to the end of line 18.—(Mr. John Kelly.)

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


I am sorry to say I cannot agree with the hon. Member's proposal.

Question put, and agreed to.


I have now to move the omission from line 22, page 3, of the word "two," in order to insert the word "four." I hope the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill will see his way to the acceptance of this proposal; as otherwise, seeing how generally the provisions must affect the poorer members of the community, they must commit' all sorts of offences owing to their remaining in absolute ignorance of these having been created by the Act.


I agree to the hon. Gentleman's Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)

I beg, Sir, to move that Clause 4 be omitted.


I must pretest against the omission of this clause. I have no doubt that in assenting to its omission the hon. Gentleman in charge of the -Bill has yielded to a pressure which is absolutely irresistible; but if he feels compelled to throw Jonah overboard in order to save his ship, it occurs to me that Jonah is, in reality, the best part of his cargo, and that if this clause and Clause 6, which I understand is also to be omitted, are both to be withdrawn, the Bill will be rendered practically useless. I should be glad if the hon. Member in charge of the measure would give us some reasons for the withdrawal of these clauses. Last year, on a Bill relating to notification of infectious diseases, it was predicted, as is predicted with regard to this measure, that the difficulties in the way of working the measure will practically render it inoperative; but that measure having been passed, the difficulties predicted with regard to it have altogether disappeared, and I have not the least doubt that if this measure were passed in its present form the objections now urged against it would also disappear. I think I may be allowed to say that I speak with some little authority on this matter, because, as a Member of a Committee dealing with matters of this kind for some years, it is within my knowledge that since the year 1882 something like 30 localities have adopted the provisions dealing with the inspection of milk outside of particular districts, while 19 other localities have adopted those clauses inside the districts. I should have liked to have heard some specific arguments or reasons of a practical nature showing that these provisions have pressed harshly and done harm to the milk trade. I do not desire to say more at the present moment, because I regard what I have already said as something in the nature of a funeral oration on this measure, should, these two clauses be omitted.


Having had some practical experience in regard to the question of milk supply, as furnished from carts perambulating the streets, I may state that a large portion of the milk thus sold is supplied to persons whose names and addresses dairymen know nothing of. To attempt to lay down a rule requiring that these names and addresses should be supplied by the dairymen to the Local Authorities would be to attempt an impossibility.


I think my hon. Friend has done well in proposing to omit this clause which, taking it as a whole, it would be hardly possible to work. An hon. Gentleman opposite has spoken of the omission of this clause as the throwing overboard of Jonah. Doubtless the hon. Member is well versed in scriptural history, and he will therefore remember that the throwing overboard of Jonah was not the end of that individual's career. We are in hopes of being able to insert hereafter some provision that will practically compensate for the omission of this clause.


I should like to add to what has been stated by an hon. Member opposite that not only do the milkmen's customers vary from day to day, but the milk supply itself is of a variable character, which fact alone would furnish a cause of considerable difficulty.

MR. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

I am quite convinced that in many parts of the Metropolis this clause would be entirely unworkable. In the poorer and more crowded districts the sellers of milk have not the slightest idea of the names or addresses of the persons they supply-Motion made, and Question put, "That Clause 4 be omitted,"—agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, to leave out Clause 6.—(Mr. John Kelly.)

Question proposed "That the words,

'Whenever it shall be certified to the Local Authority by the medical officer of health that it is desirable, with a view to prevent the spread of infectious disease,' stand part of the Bill."


I wish to point out that the Bill will be a much better measure if this clause were retained. If a person having scarlet fever in the house sends articles of linen to a public laundry without having disinfected them the disease may spread like wildfire; whereas if a doctor or Medical Officer of Health has reasonable suspicion that a person having an infectious disease in his family is sending clothes to a particular laundry he would warn the laundry proprietor not to admit them until they had been properly disinfected. Both the public and the laundry proprietor would benefit by this arrangement.


I think it would be much better if this clause were retained. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) say that he looked forward to the time when some such provision might be adopted. I do not like this tentative method of proceeding in matters affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and I must say that I regard it as unworthy of a strong Government. We ought, in regard to these laundries, to have the courage of our convictions; and, for my part, I cannot see that the difficulty of carrying out this clause is nearly as great as that which belongs to the case of the retail milk-dealer. As it is, many a laundry is ruined by the fact that infected clothes are sent to it by some unscrupulous customer. This clause might be amended, so as to prevent that kind of thing to a great extent, by giving the Medical Officer of Health reasonable control over the laundries. In omitting this clause the Government are showing a timidity which, I repeat, is unworthy of them, at any rate from a scientific point of view, however commendable it may appear to them from a political point of view.

MR. H. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

I desire merely to say that I gather from my constituents there is very little local opposition to this particular clause, at any rate the opposition to it is certainly not so considerable nor of the same character as that which was directed against Clause 4, which has already been struck out. I trust the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will stick to the clause.


I desire to point out that whatever may have been the reasons which have induced my hon. Friend to consent to the omission of this clause hon. Members opposite are hardly justified in reflecting on the action of the Government. I am glad the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir W. Foster) is of opinion that the Government is a strong Government; but I can assure him that the course he objects to has nothing to do with the action of the Government.


It is absolutely and entirely a private Member's Bill, and knowing the difficulty of getting a private Member's Bill through the House, and knowing that if I kept Clauses 4 and 6 in my Bill it would delay the measure, I agreed to throw them over.


The hon. Member has evidently not received so many communications as I have; perhaps, because the people touched are feebler persons. The Amendment which I have just put down upon the Paper would lock up the infected place and destroy the infection upon the spot. Infected clothes scrubbed and washed, the water passing through the sewers, all of which are leaky, would spread the infection. The object of my Amendment was to prevent that. I am very glad, however, that the hon. Member has had the wisdom to withdraw the clause.

(2.17.) DR. CAMERON

I hope there will be a Division against the exclusion of this clause, because laundries are on a different footing to dairies. Disease might be propagated from a dairy, and it would take a week before you could ascertain how the disease had originated. It obviously would be the duty of the Authorities, pending the obtaining of the information, to warn the customers of the dairy, and, therefore, the business of the dairy would be injuriously affected. I can quite understand the opposition of the dairy keepers. But the laundry is on an entirely different footing. The list of customers would enable the authorities to trace the disease. Take, for example, the disease of diphtheria. Its discoverer traced the infection to certain sores which had been thought to have nothing to do with diptheria. Let us suppose that the clothes of a person suffering from an almost chronic form of diphtheria go to the laundry, and an outbreak of the disease occurs among the people of the laundry. The medical officers hears of the outbreak, and he goes to the laundry and obtains a list of the customers, and in that way is enabled to focus the infection. Such a course would be for the benefit of the laundry people and of the customers. I hope a Division will be taken against the omission of the clause.

(2.20.) MR. BAUMANN

The hon. Member for St. Pancras, living in the centre of London, where there are not many laundries, may not have had so many communications on this subject as have Members representing the suburban districts of London. The person who is to be punished for the spread of disease through infected linen is not the laundryman but the individual who sends it. A laundryman might be absolutely ruined through the ignorance or carelessness of some householder if this clause were adopted. I can tell the House this, that there is great consternation in some of the suburban districts of London with regard to this clause, which, I am perfectly certain, would inflict very serious injury, if not ruin, upon a large number of my constituents. Therefore, I do hope that the House will support my hon. Friend in cutting this clause out of the Bill.

(2.22.) MR. LEVESON GOWER (Stoke-upon-Trent)

It is desirable to trace the infection to its place of origin, so that punishment may be inflicted and steps taken to prevent its spread. For these reasons I hope the hon. Member will proceed to a Division.


If you carry a clause of this sort it will press heavily upon a number of poor washerwomen, who would be much bothered if they had to supply a list of their customers to the Local Authority. It would have the effect of making this Bill, which is a good Bill, very unpopular indeed. Clause 7 (which it is not intended to withdraw) gives the Local Authority full power to cleanse and disinfect infected articles, and it could be better and more easily done under this supervision. Clause 6, therefore, is unnecessary and grand-motherly in its operation, and would have the effect of creating an agitation against the Bill.

(2.25.) MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

If there be a Division I certainly shall feel it my duty to vote for the retention of the clause, and I would point out that all these provisions are optional. Swansea, Scarborough, Newport, and Stockton, places wholly different from each other, have, last year, adopted this clause in their Local Acts. If the clause is kept in the Bill, it will be wholly within the discretion of the Authorities whether they adopt it or not. If they decide to do so, they can adopt it by the simple process of passing a Resolution, instead of being put to the expense of getting an Act of Parliament. I think the House ought to give the Authorities power to adopt the clause by resolution.

(2.29.) MR. KELLY

If this clause is passed it will do no good, and will cause the greatest difficulty among laundrymen. The laundrymen are entitled to be protected against the criminal recklessness of those who send them infected clothing, but this clause will not give them any such protection. A man told me only two days ago that he received some wet soiled clothes which he knew at once came from an infected house, and he found on inquiry that there was an infectious disease in the house from which they had come. It was necessary that laundrymen and their workpeople should have protection against reckless or ignorant householders who send infected clothes to the laundry. But this clause would not afford that protection, while it would ruin absolutely a number of laundries. If it be, in the opinion of the Medical Officer, desirable that he should have a list of the customers of some poor unhappy laundryman, he will obtain it as a matter of course. Having obtained this list, the Medical Officer may go round to these customers. He may go to a house, and, the husband being away from home, may see the lady, who may ask him, "To what am I indebted for this visit?" He would answer, "I am Medical Officer for Kensington, and I want to know if you have any infectious disease in your house?" The lady would say, "We have no infectious disease here; if we had we should have notified it in the regular way." And she will ask how the rumour could have been spread about that there being any one there suffering from infectious disease. She would learn that her name and address had been given by her laundryman, when to protect not only her children but also the servants and everyone in the house, she would instantly receive instructions that that laundryman was not to be employed again. I maintain that this proposal would certainly persecute some poor small laundrymen out of existence. The hon. Member for St. Pancras says he has received no communications from laundrymen on this subject. But the reason for that is obvious. Very few of these persons can read, and not one in a hundred knows that this clause is hanging over them. I would entreat the House not to rush blindly into this matter. This clause has never been considered. It was passed a few minutes after 12 o'clock in an empty House, and I would put it to hon. Members whether, at the instigation of the Member for Wigan, they ought to put the laundrymen all over the country to these terrible risks? It is all very well to say that these powers are given in local Acts relating to such places as Cheltenham and Scarborough. We have no control over these Acts. One of them has over 100 clauses, and I would ask if it can be reasonably expected of us that we should wade all through these Acts to find out if there are such proposals as these contained in them? We know that not long ago, in a private Bill, dealing ostensibly with the regulation of a port, there was a clause inserted to forbid processions through the streets, and that the insertion of such a clause in a local Bill of the kind was generally condemned. I submit that the principle under discussion should be resisted in the present instance, and I protest against the fact that it is already recognised in a private Bill, being used as an argument for its recognition in a public measure.


I deprecate the passing of this clause, because, unless it is compulsory and penal, it will be of no use whatever; and if you make it compulsory and penal it will be oppressive and tyrannical. It is not that we do not wish to see everything that is possible done to prevent the spread of infectious disease, but it is because we believe that it would prove embarrassing and irritating, and inflict injury on an industry, that we oppose the clause. What we have to do is to see that the medical officer shall compel parties to refrain from sending infected clothes to public laundries, and if he does his duty he can do that without exercising such tyrannous powers as those proposed upon the conductors of laundries. It would be an enormous tax on the time of the laundryman to have to supply lists of his customers from day to day. I trust that without a great deal more careful consideration and discussion this clause, which, after all, is not to be compulsory, will not be passed.

(2.40.) The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 166.—(Div. List, No. 129.)

Remaining words of clause omitted.

(2.49.) MR. KELLY

I would point out that this clause is the same as Clause 31 of the Public Health Acts Amendment Bill, which is down on the Orders for to-day, save that that clause is better and more perfect. I would, therefore, invite the hon. Member in charge of the Bill to withdraw the clause.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, to leave out Clause 7.—(Mr. John Kelly?)

Question proposed, "That the words 'where the Local Authority are of opinion' stand part of the Bill."


This clause applies to London, and the one to which the hon. Member refers in the Public Health Acts Amendment Bill does not.

(2.50.) MR. KELLY

The hon. Member is mistaken. The clause I refer to is not in that part of the Bill from the application of which the administrative County of London is exempted.


Supposing the hon. Member is right, if this clause is passed the Local Authority may not avail itself of its use. It may take its remedy under the ordinary law.

Question put, and agreed to.

Other Amendments made.

(2.53.) MR. KELLY

I now have to move in Clause 9, line 31, after the word "mortuary" to insert the words "or in a room not used at the time as a dwelling-place, a sleeping-place, or a work-room." It will be perfectly obvious to the House that men in the middle or upper classes will not have the slightest difficulty in getting a medical practitioner to give them the necessary certificate, and it seems to me to be very hard that the body of a poor child should be taken to the mortuary while the body of a child of rich parents should be allowed to remain in the parents' house. Have hon. Members any notion of what a mortuary is? I can only say that of all the horrid sights I have ever seen the sight that greets the eye in a mortuary is one of the most terrible. I cannot see why we should make any distinction between rich and poor. It will be very hard for the loving mother to allow the body of her child to go to the mortuary, and all the harder when she knows that her wealthier neighbours can easily avoid such a sacrifice.

Amendment proposed,

In page 4, fine 31, after the word "mortuary" to insert the words "or in a room not used at the time as a dwelling-place, a sleeping -place, or a work-room."—(Mr. John Kelly.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

(2.55.) MR. RITCHIE

I am bound to say I think this clause seems rather too stringent, and might operate in a way my hon. Friend would not wish, especially in the case of the poorer classes. On the whole, I think there ought to be some limitation in the nature of the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. There ought to be a duty imposed on the Local Authority to make persons ac- quainted with the obligations incurred under this Bill. It is clear that they are of an extremely onerous character, and, therefore, some provision should be inserted by which adequate notice is given to householders of the scope of the Bill, so that it may, as far as possible, be carried out without the penalty of a fine.


I think the Amendment should be enlarged, so as to provide that a room so used shall not be contiguous to any room used as a dwelling-place, a sleeping-place, or a working-place. The hon. Member says the Amendment is intended for the relief of the poorer classes; but they are exactly the persons who would not be likely to possess this accommodation. Though it is a very painful thing to send a dead relative to the mortuary, yet I do hope we shall never consent to have burials immediately after death, or what appears to be death, because we know that in Paris there have been many terrible occurrences, especially in cases of infectious disease, in consequence of the system of rapid burial.


I thank my right hon. Friend (Mr. Ritchie) for his speech, and will withdraw the Amendment. In the interests of the poor I do hope he will not lose sight of the promise he has made.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Other Amendments made.

(3.3.) MR. KELLY

With reference to Clause 14, I am afraid many poor people will commit offences under the Act without knowing it. In this clause a popular word of doubtful meaning is introduced. We know what infectious matter is; but we do not know what infectious "rubbish" is. In the Bill of the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. F. S. Powell) there was a clause about offensive matter, and I should be glad to know why that clause has been abandoned. I formally move the omission of this clause.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, to leave out Clause 14.—(Mr. John Kelly.)


I think the hon. Member's point about "rubbish" is rather a small one. It is not I but the Committee who are responsible for the word.


As to the clause which formerly stood in my Bill, it was struck out after the consideration of this Bill in Committee, in order to avoid having the same provision in two Bills, and for no other reason.


I would ask the hon. Member in charge of the Bill whether he cannot provide that this infectious matter or rubbish should be burned. There is nothing certain about the process of disinfection as now performed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(3.7.) MR. M. KENNY

I move to omit the word "rubbish" and to insert the word "matter." "Rubbish" is a word unknown to the law, and I would point out, also, that if it is previously disinfected it is not infectious rubbish. I think the best course would be to drop the clause altogether. At all events, it might be put into a proper and legal shape.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 14, to leave out the word "rubbish" and insert the word "matter."—(Mr. M. Kenny?)

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

(3.8.) MR. RITCHIE

I may point out that this is not by any means a new word in an Act of Parliament. In the Stockton-on-Tees Extension Bill, passed last Session, this very expression "infectious rubbish" occurs.


In any Bill of this kind it is very desirable that we should insist on the most perfect way of destroying infectious matter, and if some further provision can be made to this effect it will add greatly to the value of the Bill. We want the public to learn that the best way to get rid of infectious matter is to destroy it thoroughly by fire. If we insert such a provision we shall add vastly to the value of the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Other Amendments agreed to.


I hope the House will now allow the Bill to be read a third time.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a third time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.