§ MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the large and increasing importation into British ports of foreign mixtures of margarine and other substances purporting 1370 to be butter; in how many cases have the officers of Her Majesty's Customs or Inland Revenue exercised the authority conferred upon them by Clause 8 of the Margarine Act, 1887, to take samples at the ports of entry from any package suspected of containing fraudulent substitutes or mixtures, and in how many cases have prosecutions been instituted; and whether he will issue a circular calling the attention of Customs officers at the ports of entry to the necessity for a more stringent inspection of the stuff imported by foreign margarine manufacturers and sold as butter?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT, Derby)
said, he was informed by the Customs authorities that they had no information as to a large increase in the importation into British ports of margarine and other substances purporting to be butter. If trustworthy information was furnished in respect of the importation, the Customs authorities would take such action as is in their power, but they were not the persons primarily responsible for taking action under the Margarine Act.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
asked whether it was not the duty of the Customs officers to take action themselves? Was there not a rule that, before the Customs authorities would interfere, the person giving information as to a suspected matter was obliged to lodge one and a-half times the value of the package? Would the right hon. Gentleman inquire into this matter, and see whether that rule ought not to be abolished as a great discouragement to persons giving information?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
said, he would inquire; but he understood that the Customs were not the authority who primarily took charge of those questions under the Margarine Act. There were other authorities under that Act. The Customs had the power to take samples to be examined, and they looked into the information laid before them?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
There are several local departments possessing the authority to inquire into the subject.