HC Deb 14 March 1895 vol 31 cc1036-7
MR. W. JACKS (Stirlingshire)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he has received a petition signed by many farmers and graziers in Stirlingshire and other parts of the United Kingdom, requesting the Board to issue a set of Rules for the guidance of market authorities and auctioneers, indicating the sort of weighing apparatus which will be considered sufficient and suitable under Section 2 of the Weighing of Cattle Act, 1891, and also making certain suggestions as to requirements which should be insisted on in such Rules regarding size and decription of apparatus and the necessity of its being stamped in accordance with the Board of Trade Regulations; and whether the Board of Agriculture is prepared to adopt any of the suggestions so made?


I have received the petition to which my hon. Friend refers, and it has received my careful consideration. I do not think it would be desirable or practicable to issue a set of hard and fast rules, which would be applicable to all the various circumstances under which weighing machines are erected; but I have prepared a general memorandum on the subject, for the guidance of those by whom weighing accommodation has to be provided, which will, I think, be of service. It will be ready in the course of a few days, and I shall be glad to supply a copy to my hon. Friend.

MR. A. BIRRELL (Fife, W.)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture—(1)whether he is aware that many auctioneers have erected at their markets cattle weighbridges fitted with automatic indicating dials, the smallest, division of which represents 28 lbs., or one quarter of a hundredweight; (2) whether he is aware that, in many cases, no one is in charge of these machines during the holding of the sale to adjust the balance when this is from time to time required, owing to the accumlation of droppings &c., which sometimes weigh as much as 70 lbs.; and (3) whether the Board of Agriculture consider that auctioneers in these circumstances properly comply with the provisions of the Weighing of Cattle Acts, 1887 and 1891?


It is, the case that in some instances weighbridges have been erected with dials such as those to which my hon. Friend refers. Opinion on the subject of such machines is very divided, and I cannot say generally that they fail to comply with the requirements of the Acts. I should, however, be very willing to make inquiry as to the machines provided in particular instances, and to ascertain, and as far as possible give effect to, the wishes of the farmers and others by whom they are used. With reference to the second paragraph of the question, I would say that both market authorities and auctioneers are required by law to appoint proper persons to have charge of the machines, and if they fail to do so, an offence is committed which might be made the subject of legal proceedings.