HC Deb 18 February 1898 vol 53 cc1151-71
*MR. H. E. KEARLEY (Devonport)

Sir, I beg to move the following Amendment to the Address:— And we venture humbly to represent to Your Majesty the urgent need of a measure for checking the widespread adulteration of food products, and to express our regret that no assurance is given that such a measure will be proposed to this House during the present Session of Parliament. I move this Amendment because, Sir, I believe that legislation should be introduced on a subject that is pressing, and that has been urged upon the attention of the House by me on three previous occasions. I am aware that there is a reference in Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech of the intention of the Government to legislate on this important matter this Session if time permits. But as the Leader of the Opposition reminded us, these promises are what he termed "uninsurable lives," and, as I regard this question as of the most pressing importance, I felt that I should lose an opportunity unless I put down an Amendment with the object of ventilating the subject once more. But there is another reason which actuated me, and that is that last year, at the end of the Session, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, in fulfilment of a pledge by the Leader of the House, introduced a Bill, which, instead of proceeding on the lines of the recommendations of the Select Committee, which sat three Sessions, and collected most voluminous and important evidence, and made 23 important recommendations, ignored the majority of these recommendations. Sir, I think I am correct in saying that that Bill was remarkable, not for what it recommended, but for what it failed to recommend, and, though not desiring to be disrespectful to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, I am entitled to say that he, in that Bill, was trifling with a great national question. He not only disregarded the bulk of the recommendations of the Select Committee, but he seemed to go specially out of his way to disregard the most important of them, and things upon which we were unanimous. It was pointed out to the Select Committee that the administration of the present Acts was altogether most faulty, and it was also proved by statistical facts that there was an intimate connection between the amount of adulteration which existed and the number of samples taken throughout the country. For example, in Somersetshire, one sample was taken for every 379 inhabitants, and the percentage of adulteration disclosed was 3.6. In Bedfordshire, one sample to every 821 inhabitants disclosed 7.1 of adulteration. In Oxfordshire, one sample to every 15,000 revealed 41 per cent. of falsification. In Marylebone, where the Acts are rigorously enforced, the percentage of adulteration in milk was only four per cent., but in St. Pancras, a parish where the administration is most lax, the amount of adulteration went as high as 43 per cent. In the face of these figures it would have been thought that a provision would have been put into the Bill compelling Local Authorities to undertake prosecutions for adulteration, but the right hon. Gentleman thought it sufficient to declare it to be their duty to put the Act into force. Well, it is the duty of every man to be honest, but I doubt very much whether the percentage of dishonesty would be as low in this country as it is if there were not Acts of Parliament to enforce honesty. Local Authorities will not carry out those Acts, as is proved by the figures I have quoted, unless there is some power to force them so to do. In the Report is sued by the Local Government Board every year, hon. Members will find tabulated a list of defaulting Authorities not in connection with the administration of Acts dealing with our food supply, but in connection with the administration of the Public Health Act. The Board have repeatedly taken action against local authorities for neglect, of their duties in such matters as the provision of pure water, sanitary drainage systems, and so forth. I confess I cannot differentiate between the duty of a local authority to supply its inhabitants with pure water, and its duty to see that they are supplied with pure food; and I am encouraged to hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see the necessity of taking some action to compel enforcement of the Acts dealing with food by the fact that I find that where the Public Health Act is enforced the result is most satisfactory. If the local authority has been dilatory, and, the Local Government Board has applied for a Mandamus, there is not a single case in which the local authority has dared to refuse to enforce the Act after a peremptory command by the High Court. I will venture to quote to the House a few additional figures to show the different results between a vigorous administration and an apathetic administration of these Acts. I will take the case of two great towns, London and Manchester. London has a, very bad reputation as regards adulteration, and the reason is, because the Acts are not enforced. Manchester, on the other hand, has a great reputation in the contrary direction, having spent large sums of money in the provision of Inspectors to watch over the interests of the community. I will take the figures with regard to the adulteration of milk, and I will deal with six parishes of London as typical of the whole. In Clerkenwell, the number of samples inspected was 148, and no less than 37 proved to have been adulterated. In Hackney 177 samples were taken, of which 52 were adulterated; in St. Olave's 51 per cent. were found to be adulterated; in St. Pancras 39 per cent.; in St. George's, Hanover Square (perhaps that will touch some hon. Gentlemen in this House more closely than the outlying parishes, because a great many of us live there) no less than 36 per cent.; and in aristocratic Kensington 31 per cent. Those are the figures given in the last Local Government Report as affecting London. Now, what are the figures as affecting Manchester and Salford? A far larger number of samples were taken, proving the argument I used just now, that the larger the number of samples taken—the greater activity shown in enforcing the Act—the less adulteration is found. In Manchester, out of 1,167 samples taken, the percentage of cases of adulteration was as low as 3 per cent.; in Salford, out of 421 samples taken, there were only 10 ćases of adulteration, under 3 per cent. These are not figures I have myself collected; they are found in the last Report of the Local Government Board. But I think it is fair to point out that these figures do not in any way represent the true extent of the adulteration, for this reason: The public analysts of this country have resorted to a very low standard for the testing of milk, and their justification of that is this: They have discovered that the Official Analysts at Somerset House have set up, and have continued to maintain for some years, a very low standard. Now, a public analyst has a reputation of his own to maintain, and it is not surprising that he will not advise a prosecution based on the standard of purity which he himself might think proper to adopt, when that prosecution would be certain to be defeated by an appeal to the lower standard of Somerset House. This brings me to my second criticism of the Bill that was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman last Session. There were some points of difference between the Members of the Committee, but on this one question to which I am about to refer there was absolute unanimity, and that was that, seeing the various technical and scientific questions that had to be determined in connection with adulteration, it was impossible for public analysts to satisfactorily discharge their duties unless there was some Board or Court of Reference, consisting of experts competent to give an unbiassed opinion on these various questions, such, for example, as the standard of purity in milk, the amount of water to be allowed in butter, the amount of "preservatives" to be allowed in butter and milk, and other articles. The Committee unanimously decided that those were questions to be settled by a Technical Board, and they therefore unanimously recommended that this Court of Reference should be appointed. I will not trouble the House with the details; but the right hon. Gentleman in his Bill absolutely ignored that recommendation altogether. It was extraordinary that he did so, inasmuch as the Report that the Committee agreed to was drawn up by the responsible officials of the Local Government Board. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman himself drew it up, but it was drawn up by one of the permanent officials of the Department. Now, if that Report cannot be accepted by the Local Government Board for whom it was drawn, we are entitled to ask the reason why. I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone, who gave so much attention to this question when he was Chairman of the Committee, as well as my hon. Friend sitting below me, what explanation they can give? I want to know why, in spite of the labours of this Committee during three Sessions, which resulted in a practically unanimous report, we should have proffered to us a Bill which not only ignores the majority of the recommendations of the Committee, but also absolutely ignores those in which we were absolutely unanimous. It is suggested that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Board of Agriculture is responsible. I will never believe that till I hear him say it. That the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Agriculture should desire that we should not get the benefit of the labours of his friends who were so active upon that Select Committee seems to me most extraordinary. Now, I want to show the necessity of this Board of Reference by instancing the matter of preservatives. It has become the custom to introduce preservatives into milk, and butter, and cheese, and other articles, to keep them fresh for a longer period than would otherwise be possible. I am not competent to express a scientific opinion upon the matter myself, but in the last Report of the Local Government Board it is pointed out that in Birmingham there were cases in which samples of milk contained no less than from 50 to 70 grains of boracic acid per gallon, and in Glamorganshire the practice of putting preservatives into milk was so common that, as the milk naturally passed from hand to hand, each man who handled it thought he would like it to keep fresh, and added an additional dose of this compound, until in some cases a distinctly poisonous dose was reached. All this evidence came before the Select Committee, but they were, of course, not competent to deal with it; we were not analysts; we could not say whether boracic acid was good or not; but we unanimously agreed that we should recommend the appointment of an expert Board, and I am anxious to know what reason the right hon. Gentleman can give for ignoring that recommendation. This matter was referred to in the course of the evidence by representatives of the Corporation of Manchester, the Corporation of Glasgow—I forget whether the Corporation of London did not also recommend it—by farmers, importers, distributors, public analysts, and, above all, by the Official Analyst of Somerset House. In spite of all that important evidence, the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman introduced last Session failed to refer to it, or to introduce the provisions that we worked for so hard. Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to delay the House, but there is one aspect of this question that I must refer to before I sit down. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House in his place, because last year he gave a promise that we should have a Bill which should satisfactorily deal with these matters. No Bill will be satisfactory that does not embrace at all events, the main recommendations of the Select Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said that he feared that this was a contentious question, because it might resolve itself into a question between town and country. Now, I say it is not true to suggest that this is a question of country against towns, at all events in the sense suggested. I maintain that the question is a consumers' question, and this House ought to view it independently of any supposed conflict of interest between country and town. I know that the influence of the Agricultural Party in this House is not always discreetly used, but, in this case, what is demanded has nothing to do with the Agricultural Party. I take up the question purely in the interests of the consumer, and I hope the House will so regard it, whatever particular interests may have to say. If I were asked to go into this question of the respective interests involved, I should be obliged to say that this is more of a townsman's than a countryman's question for this reason: The towns are the field of operations of the adulterater. It is to the towns, in the main, that the goods that are adulterated are sent; and, while I decline to be drawn into a controversy between town and country, I do make this definite statement; that, while we want to stop adulteration, we should strongly resist any attempt on the part of any interest to interfere with the free importation of foreign food into this country. Adulteration must be stopped, but there must be no attempt to make this a lever for interference to the importation of food from abroad. I have referred chiefly to milk, and I am not going to weary the House now with statistics as to butter and other things; but I should just say this: So persistent has this evil become, and so apathetic are many local authorities in dealing with it, that it has been found necessary, in the large towns of England, for consumers to combine together, and start what is practically their own police, to hunt down the offenders, and put a stop to this great evil. I have here a list of convictions obtained by one of these bodies—a very influentially supported association formed in London. The first case I have marked is one of a vestryman in Hackney—a member of the very body entrusted with the administration of the Acts under the present system. There are no less than eight members of one of our London vestries who have been convicted of adulteration; and these convictions, the House will remember, were secured, not by those whose duty it is to see that the law is obeyed, but it was simply by the organisation of this kind of private police that these men were run to earth. In some of these cases milk was found to have been adulterated with no less than 50 per cent. of water. Hon. Members may think of the iniquity of finding that what is left at their doors as milk consists of half milk and half water; but, of course, this fraud is carried on principally in the poorer districts; it is not the wealthy, but the poor districts of London and other great cities that are the happy hunting-ground of the adulterater. Sir, I sincerely hope that we shall have some satisfaction to-night, in the shape of a promise that a Bill will be introduced at an early date in the Session—not, as it was last year, on the expiring day of the Session. What we want is immediate legislation, and effective legislation. And I, again, ask why a Bill should not embody the proposals recommended in the admirable report of the Select Committee, which worked so hard upon this matter. There were some Amendments proposed to the Report by my agricultural friends below me, with which I had no sympathy whatever, and I did my best to defeat those proposals, but I hope to hear before the discussion closes my hon. Friend explain why it is that, in spite of the fact that he drafted a most admirable Report, he lent himself to bringing in a Bill which absolutely ignored the best of the recommendations unanimously made by the Committee. Sir, I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.

*MR. G. LAMBERT (Devon, South Molton)

Sir, I beg to second the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. While he speaks so well for the consumer, I have a tender feeling for the producer, representing, as I do, an agricultural county, which produces a very considerable amount of dairy produce. There cannot be any doubt that a very large amount of fraud exists in regard to the sale of articles of food, and especially in regard to the sale of margarine for butter. It is a remarkable fact that while the largest amount of margarine imported into this country is from Holland—no less than 93 per cent. of the margarine coming into this country is imported from Holland—there is, at the same time, a great increase in the importation of butter from that country amounting to 165,000cwts. in 1894 to no less than 275,000cwts. in 1897. For my own part, I have a strong suspicion that this so-called butter is adulterated with margarine. In most countries on the Continent they will not allow the sale of this stuff as butter; there is very stringent legislation against it; but this country is made the dumping-ground for this refuse, and we want to stop that, not only in the interests of agriculturists, but in the interests of consumers as well. It was brought out before the Committee that this stuff is sent over here in packages so marked as to lead to the impression that it is pure and genuine butter. This is the kind of thing we want to put a stop to. I am very glad indeed to have been instrumental in inserting in the Report, the very admirable Report, of that Committee (and I am glad to say that I received the support of some hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House) a paragraph prohibiting the colouring of margarine, or the marking of it so as to make it resemble butter. You may have as many inspectors as you like, but if you wish to put a stop to this fraud you must make the buyer his own inspector. We are told that the working classes would suffer by any restrictions on the sale of margarine. Well, I do not for a moment believe that the working classes are dying to be deceived in this way, and all we desire to do is to protect them against deceit and fraud. I will not further detain the House, but I may just say this: The Bill introduced last Session by the right hon. Gentleman proved abortive, and we cannot be surprised that it did. It was condemned by all agricultural bodies, who expressed an opinion upon it. At a recent meeting somewhere in the Eastern counties of the National Agricultural Union, one speaker said he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Local Government Board had even seen the Bill which he himself had introduced. Sir, agriculturists have a very great faith in the right hon. Gentleman; he has grown thin, I might almost say, in working for agricultural interests; I do hope that he will not allow his great reputation with agriculturists to be shattered, and it will be shattered unless he will bring in a really good and thoroughgoing Measure dealing with this subject. All his efforts in the way of reducing rates, and all the other reforms by which he has endeavoured to benefit the agricultural interests, will be overlooked, and he will find that his reputation will be sunk in a mess of margarine. I beg, Sir, to second the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Questions, to add the words,— And we venture humbly to represent to Your Majesty the urgent need of a Measure for checking the widespread adulteration of food products, and to express our regret that no assurance is given that such a Measure will be proposed to this House during the present Session of Parliament."—(Mr. Kearley.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added:"


I am aware of the great interest which the Lon. Gentlemen opposite have for a long period taken in this question, and I can assure them and the House that I am quite as anxious to introduce and proceed with a Bill upon this subject as they can be. I entirely agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, in his desire to prevent fraud, and to prevent the importation of adulterated articles of food. Now, the hon. Member, who moved the Amendment, complained that no promise had been given to the House on the part of the Government that this question would be presented for the consideration of the House. Sir, the subject is mentioned in the Queen's Speech, and although I frankly admit that there is only a qualified reference to it in the Speech, yet hon. Members must remember that no assurance that could be given could be absolute, unless, indeed, it was an assurance that this should be the first Measure undertaken by the Government. Well, the hon. Gentlemen opposite know just as well as I do that, considering the business which is at present before the House, it is impossible that we could give any assurance of that kind. But short of that I can say this: that I am, and have been for some time, busily engaged in the preparation of a Bill dealing with this question, in the hope of amending soma, at all events, of the evils of which they complain. Although it may be possible that I should find some things in the Report of the Committee, to which the hon. Member has referred, with which I am unable to agree, yet I am as anxious as he is to make progress with this Measure, and to introduce a Bill on the subject, which I hope will be met, if not with complete satisfaction, at all events with no hostile feelings on the part of the hon. Gentleman and his friends. They must remember that, in spite of what the hon. Gentleman has said, the interests involved in this question are extremely conflicting. If I were to introduce a Bill modelled precisely on the lines of the Report of the Select Committee that Bill would have no earthly chance of passing into law in the course of the present Session. I could not imagine anything that would be more contentious or likely to give rise to great differences of opinion. But, short of that, I think a Measure may be produced which ought to have a reasonable chance of giving satisfaction, and of making progress during the present Session. I hope to be able to introduce a Bill, and if it be found impracticable to send it, in the ordinary way, to a Select Committee—because, of course, a Measure of that kind must be full of technicalities—it might be sent to one of our Grand Committees. Sir, I have listened to everything which the hon. Member has said, but it is impossible in a matter of this sort that I can follow him in the discussion of all the details into which he went so fully, nor am I for a moment going to be inveigled by him into a defence of the Measure introduced last Session. I hope the Measure, upon the preparation of which we are now engaged, will be more satisfactory to the hon. Gentleman and his friends.

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has only given us a repetition of the qualified assurance contained in the Queen's Speech. I had hoped that he would have seen his way to go a little further. I had for two years the honour of presiding over the Committee to which reference has been made. The inquiry extended over many long and tedious sittings, and involved the taking of a vast amount of evidence. There is no doubt that the result of that inquiry was to demonstrate the existence throughout the country of a very widespread evil, affecting a large number of articles of food. It is the duty of the State, where the public are not able to protect themselves against frauds of this kind, not only against their pockets, but against health, to step in and do something to put down the frauds. That being the case, one naturally inquires why this large amount of adulteration is allowed to go on. This brings us to the second thing that the Committee were convinced of. They were convinced not only by evidence, but also by discussion, as shown by the Report which they finally made, that a large amount of this adulteration was due to a lax administration of the law, and, thirdly, that this lax administration was favoured by the difficulty in securing convictions, owing to the fact that there was no authority to fix standards of purity. Those three points having been brought out thoroughly by the evidence before the Committee, and endorsed by the Committee in their Report, there naturally ought to have been in any Bill presented to Parliament some endeavour to meet these three great evils. I am sorry to say that, in spite of the goodwill of the Local Government Board, the Bill of last year was not a satisfactory Bill, when we consider the evidence taken by the Committee and the report they made. I hope that we shall have some assurance that in the Bill to be introduced this Session the Government will deal with the matter more boldly. I am quite aware that this is a very difficult question, one of the most difficult, perhaps, that any Government could have to tackle, affecting both private and public interests. My hon. Friend behind me, who seconded this Amendment, has referred in some detail to the adulteration of butter, and the importation of margarine. Perhaps I may support the case he was making by mentioning a little story I heard the other day, which illustrates the position of margarine under the present defective administration of the law. Two commercial travellers got into a dispute as to the pronunciation of this word, one arguing that it should be pronounced "marjarine," and the other arguing for "margarine." Ultimately they wrote the word on a piece of paper, and handed it to the shopman at a place where the stuff was sold, and asked him what he called the stuff described on the paper. His answer was, "Well, I call it 'butter'; it would be as much as my place is worth to call it anything else." There is no doubt that margarine has won its way into use in this country as an article of food, and we had plenty of evidence before the Committee that it is not unwholesome or injurious, and it is a cheap substitute for butter. I regret to say that it is often brought into this country and sold largely mixed with butter. The importation of margarine is, however, on the decrease. There is another substance infinitely more important from the point of view of adulteration than margarine, and that is cheese. There is an enormous amount of so-called cheese coming into this country which consists of certain milk products mixed with a lot of fat; if it is kept for a few days it becomes putrid. Last year we imported nearly £6,000,000 worth of cheese—some of which is called filled cheese—and is unfit for human consumption. The House will agree that, in the interests of consumers, and in the interests of our own producers of wholesome cheese, this should be put a stop to. I do press upon the right hon. Gentleman, and the Government generally, the necessity of dealing thoroughly with this subject. I do not think any Measure will be satisfactory which does not provide for compelling local authorities to properly administer the law. I also agree with my hon. Friend in urging the appointment of a Court of Reference of the kind contemplated by the Committee—a body of experts who will fix standards of purity and decide other technical matters. Unless some such authority is created there will always be difficulties in enforcing the provisions of the Act.

SIR MARK J. M. STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

Although there can be no doubt that this is rather a thorny and difficult question to deal with, the Government themselves must know that there has been a very great advance in public opinion in regard to it within the last few years. A very few years ago you could hardly find (with, I think, one exception) in England or Scotland a single agriculturist who would have anything to do with analysis. I took a somewhat prominent part in this matter, having had, I was going to say, many hundred samples analysed, and succeeded in bringing many farmers to book—farmers who did not intend to deceive, but who sold stuff of the most disgraceful character. With regard to margarine, it must be remembered that it is not an unwholesome food, and it is one which a large portion of the community like. What we have to contend with is the adulterated butter which is sold in such large quantities. I quite agree with what has been said with regard to the necessity of a Court of Reference, consisting of fair and reliable analysts, to whom samples could be sent, and whose analyses would have weight and authority. At present, if I send a sample of butter or cheese to one chemist, and another sample of the same stuff to another chemist, the chances are that I get two irreconcilable analyses; because they have not one uniform standard to be guided by; and the same thing holds good with regard to another and a very vital question—the question of condensed milk. There is another agricultural subject about which the greatest possible care should be taken, I mean in relation to our dairies. When you visit the places out of which the milk comes that is sent to us from Denmark and other parts of the Continent, no one could believe that that milk comes into this country in a wholesome condition. For these reasons, Sir, I do ask the Government to bring in a good strong Measure. We, on this side, want to stiffen their backs, because, unless we can have a really effective Measure we had better have no Measure at all.

*MR. W. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)

I hope that the First Lord of the Treasury will be able to give us a more definite assurance than we have had from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. All the right hon. Gentleman gave us was a qualified assurance that a Bill of some sort would be introduced in the course of the Session. That is exactly what was said by the Government last Session when this subject was raised on the Address, and my hon. Friend did not press the matter to a Division. I hope that, having that experience, my Friend will now act differently, unless he has some absolute assurance. Some of us will not be satisfied except by the assurance that a Bill will be brought in and sent to a Grand Committee. If, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the Bill will be so full of technicalities that it must be sent to a Grand Committee, let it be brought in immediately, so that the Committee may set to work upon it; do not, as you did before, wait till the last days of the Session, when it is impossible for it to be passed into law. I certainly think this matter, in which the producers of this country, as well as the consumers, and last, but not least, the retailers, are so deeply interested, should be no longer trifled with. Hon. Members who represent agricultural constituencies will agree that this is a question on which the farmers of this country feel very strongly indeed. They consider it most unfair that their own products should be handicapped by the sale of adulterated cheese and adulterated butter from abroad; and while I, for one, shall always advocate the free importation into this country of articles of food, I do strongly object to the free importation of adulterated articles of food. It is all very well for local authorities to prosecute (and they are very lax in even doing that) people who sell adulterated foreign stuffs; I consider that that is beginning at the wrong end. We should stop these adulterated stuffs from entering the country at all. I hope that my hon. Friend, unless he receives a more satisfactory assurance from the Government, will press his Amendment to a Division.

SIR F. G. MILNER (Notts, Bassetlaw)

I should like to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that there is an intense feeling in agricultural districts in favour of this Amendment. The Secretary of the Agricultural Union, which includes an important body of my constituents, has written, urging me to support this Amendment if it should be pressed to a Division. Having regard to the sympathetic answer given to the hon. Member opposite by the President of the Local Government Board, I do not think there would be any advantage in going to a Division, but I venture to say that if the Government bring in a Measure carrying out the principle of this Amendment, such a Measure will meet with no serious opposition from any quarter of this House. I think the time has come when this question ought to be grappled with, and in dealing with it vigorously the Government will have the support of the agricultural population of this country.


I do not in the least complain of the Debate which has taken place on this subject, and I thoroughly sympathise with the views of my hon. Friends who have spoken from this side of the House and from the opposite Benches: but I must be permitted to say that a great part of this argument is absolutely academical. In the Speech from the Throne there is reference to a Bill upon this subject, as one which the Government are desirous to bring in, but the hon. Members opposite who moved and supported this Amendment are not satisfied with it; they ask for some pledge of a more specific character. No pledge of a more specific character could be given by any Government in a Speech from the Throne. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment complained that the paragraph in the Speech relating to this and other Measures only promised their introduction "if time permitted." Sir, that is a qualification which is now almost common form. I believe, by the way, that I was the person who first introduced that particular way of enumerating Measures which must of necessity occupy other than premier place in the Government programme. Every Government is bound by limitations of time. No Government in the world can control the time of the House. ["Oh, oh!"] I repeat, that no Government in the world ever can or ever has controlled the time of the House. No Government in the world has been able to pass all the Measures in a Session which it has desired to pass. And, having regard to the evidence which the Government have given of their desire to deal with this question, it seems to me—I say it with all respect—that this Debate is simply well qualified to spend our time, and not qualified to increase the probability of our having time to spare for dealing with this subject. Sir, I can only repeat what has been said by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. We are most desirous of dealing with this question; we have stated that desire in the most explicit terms in the Queen's Speech. Further than that neither can we go, nor could any Government which might be substituted for us. Why, therefore, we should further debate this question; why even we should divide upon it, I confess myself wholly unable to understand. This is, I think, the first time in the history of the British Parliament in which a Government has been reproached for not dealing with a question which is specifically mentioned in the Queen's Speech as one which it is intended to deal with.

MR. WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)

I do not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman is in the least satisfactory, The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has told us that his Bill will not be brought in until the end of the Session——


I said nothing of the kind.


At any rate, he gave a very qualified assurance, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury did not go any further. Clearly, the Measure, whenever it be introduced, is to be relegated to a backseat, and I hope my hon. Friend will press his Amendment to a Division, in the hope that we may secure for the Measure a more prominent position in the programme than it would now appear likely to have.

Question put:—

The House divided; Ayes, 66; Noes 171.

Asher, Alexander Griffith, Ellis J. Nussey, Thomas Willans
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Austin, Sir John (Yorks) Hayne, Rt. Hn. C. Seale- O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)
Brigg, John Healy, Maurice (Cork) Paulton, James Mellor
Brunner, Sir J. Tomlinson Healy, T. M. (N. Louth) Phillipps, John Wynford
Caldwell, James Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H. Price, Robert John
Causton, Richard Knight Holburn, J. G. Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Cawley, Frederick Jordan, Jeremiah Randell, David
Clancy, John Joseph Kilbride, Denis Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) Knox, Edmund Francis Vesey Robson, William Snowdon
Clough, Walter Owen Lewis, John Herbert Souttar Robinson
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lough, Thomas Stevenson, Francis S.
Crean, Eugene MacAleese, Daniel Strachey, Edward
Daly, James MacNeill, Jno. Gordon Swift Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Doogan, P. C. M'Cartan, Michael Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)
Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.) M'Ghee, Richard Tanner, Charles Kearns
Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan) Maden, John Henry Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Mandeville, J. Francis Weir, James Galloway
Finucane, John Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Milner, Sir Predk. George Wills, Sir William Henry
Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.) Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonp.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Gibney, James Moss, Samuel Mr. Kearley and Mr. Lambert.
Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Murnaghan, George
Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.) FitzGerald, Sir R. V. Penrose Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden Fletcher, Sir Henry More, Robert Jasper
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Flower, Ernest Morrell, George Herbert
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Forster, Henry William Morton, Arth. H. A. (Deptf'd)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Garfit, William Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)
Baird, Jno. Geo. Alexander Gedge, Sydney Murray, Col Wyndh'm (Bath)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r) Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) Newdigate, Francis Alex.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald (Leeds) Goldsworthy, Major-General Nicholson, William Graham
Banbury, Fredk. George Gordon, Hon. John Edward Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bartley, George C. T. Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E. Northcote, Hn. Sir H. S.
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bris.) Goulding, Edward Alfred Pollock, Harry Frederick
Beach, W. W. B. (Hants) Graham, Henry Robert Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Beckett, Ernest William Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Pryce-Jones, Edward
Begg, Ferdinand Faithful Green, Walford D. (W'dn'sb'y) Purvis, Robert
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury) Pym, C. Guy
Beresford, Lord Charles Greville, Captain Rentoul, James Alexander
Bigwood, James Gull, Sir Cameron Richardson, Sir T. (H'rtlep'l)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Gunter, Colonel Ridley, Rt. Hn Sir Matthew W.
Bond, Edward Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. W. Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson
Broderick, Rt. Hon. St. J. Hanson, Sir Reginald Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hare, Thomas Leigh Round, James
Butcher, John George Haslett, Sir James Horner Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin) Heath, James Sharpe, William Edward T.
Carlile, William Walter Helder, Augustus Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.) Howell, William Tudor Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Cecil, Lord Hugh Hutton, J. (Yorks, N. R.) Smith, Abel H. (Christch'rch)
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Johnston, William (Belfast) Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Bir.) Kemp, George Stanley, Lord (Lancashire)
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)
Charrington, Spencer Kimber, Henry Stephens, Henry Charles
Clare, Octavius Leigh King, Sir H. Seymour Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Cochrane, Hn. T. H. A. E. Lawrence, Sir Edw. (Cornwall) Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Lawson John Grant (Yorks.) Strauss, Arthur
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Colomb, Sir John C. Ready Llewelyn, Sir D-. (Swansea) Thornton, Percy M.
Compton, Lord Alwyne Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Tollemache, Henry James
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray
Corbett, A. Cameron (Gl'sgw.) Long, Rt. Hn. W. (L'pool) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Cranborne, Viscount Lones, Hy. Yarde Buller Wanklyn, James Leslie
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) Lucas-Shadwell, William Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Webster, Sir R. E. (I. Wight)
Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W.) Macartney, W. G. Ellison Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Macdona, John Cumming Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Dane, Richard M. Maclean, James Mackenzie Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)
Davenport, W. Bromley- M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool) Willox, Sir John Archibald
Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P. M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph M'Iver, Sir Lewis Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh N.)
Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers- Malcolm, Ian Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Maple, Sir John Blundell Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Fardell, Sir T. George Martin, Richard Biddulph Wyndham-Quin, Maj. W. H.
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E. Milbank, Powlett Chas. John Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne Milton, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Fisher, William Hayes Monckton, Edward Philip Sir William Walrond and
Fison, Frederick William Monk, Charles James Mr. Anstruther.

Main Question again proposed.