§ MR. LANE (Cork Co., E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the following statement in the Grocer of this week:—Nurdin and Peacock v. Hornet.The Falaise Tribunal sentenced Vitard to one month's imprisonment and a fine of £40, and Hornet, his accomplice, to a fine of £8, the Judgment to be inserted at their expense in several newspapers, and to be posted at the Town Hall, and also on the doors of Vitard's and Hornet's residences;whether he is aware that this sentence was inflicted (at the prosecution of the French. Authorities acting upon evidence given at Bow Street Police Court) for having sold adulterated French butters as pure butters to an English firm; is he aware that a merchant was fined £10 and costs, at the Westminster Police Court last Thursday, for selling butter adulterated with 25 per cent, of foreign fat, though the Magistrate admitted that he proved to the complete satisfaction of the Court that he had bought and paid for it as pure butter, and that every package was imported direct from 64 Belgium, branded, and guaranteed pure butter; is he aware that the value of British and Irish dairy produce has been reduced this year by about 30 per cent, under its normal value, owing to this unfair competition with adulterated foreign butter; and whether, under these circumstances, he will co-operate with the French Government in suppressing this traffic, by instructing the Custom House officials at the various ports where foreign butters are landed, to enforce the powers conferred on them by section 8 of the Margarine Act of 1887?
§ MR. JACKSON
The attention of the Board of Customs has been called to the statement made in the Grocer in regard to certain persons having been convicted in France for adulterating butter and to the proceedings at Westminster Police Court, but they have no official knowledge of the circumstances. Large quantities of margarine are imported into this country from the Continent, and the Board are not aware that it is described as butter. I am unable to say whether there has been such a reduction as the hon. Member describes in the value of British and Irish dairy produce or that it is due to competition with adulterated foreign butter. The powers conferred upon the Customs Officers by Section 8 of the Margarine Act, 1887, is limited to the taking of samples, and the officers would have no authority under that Act to detain the goods. The examination by analysis of all imported butter by the Customs Officers would not only involve a large increase in the present staff, but it would also cause much delay in the delivery of a perishable article and lead to much friction and inconvenience to the trade. I am, however, sending a copy of the hon. Member's question with a copy of this reply to my right hon. Friend the Chairman of the Select Committee on Merchandise Marks. It may be that his Committee has taken evidence on the subject.