HC Deb 12 March 1891 vol 351 cc757-8

I beg to ask the President, of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the case of "Police v. Cannon," in January last, at Barrow, by which great inconvenience was caused to the defendant and the Cambrian Vinegar Company of Leeds; whether the prosecution was based entirely upon the analysis of the Barrow Borough Analyst, which was proved to be erroneous; and whether he will consider the advisability of amending "The Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875," by providing that no legal proceedings shall be taken under Clause 20 upon a single unsupported analysis?


My attention had not been directed to the case of "Police v. Cannon" prior to the notice given by the hon. Member. I have made inquiry as to the facts, and I find that proceed- ings were instituted against the defendant with reference to the sale of certain vinegar. The proceedings were instituted entirely upon the analysis of the sample by the public analyst of the borough. The vinegar was considered by him to be adulterated with 22.4 per cent. of water. The Magistrates deemed it desirable to cause a sample to be analysed by the chemical officers of the Inland Revenue Department. The conclusion at which those officers arrived was that the sample was genuine commercial vinegar of low quality and the Magistrates dismissed the case. As regards the question of legislation, I am not prepared to propose that no legal proceedings should be taken under Section 20 of "The Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875," upon a single unsupported analysis. Section 22 already gives power to the Justices before whom any complaint is made under the Act, upon the request of either party, to cause an analysis to be made by the chemical officers of the Inland Revenue Department of the article of food alleged to be sold in contravention of the Act and to obtain a certificate as to the result. This power was conferred upon the Justices to enable them to obtain ah independent analysis whenever the circumstances appear to require it.