§ Order for consideration of the Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), be now considered."
§ * MR. STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
I beg to move, Sir, that the consideration of the Bill be deferred for three months on the ground that it does not sufficiently guard the interests of the consumer and the producer, and only to a slight extent prevents dishonest trading. This Bill was sent to a Grand Committee in the hope that it might be improved. I admit it was slightly improved in two respects, but those two improvements were inserted against the wish of the President of the Board of Agriculture, and were carried against the Government. One was the question of the inspection of margarine factories, which was an important matter though small when compared with the many blots on the Bill. The Government never gave an adequate reason why they were so much in love with the idea that margarine should be coloured like butter. I cannot find that they are supported in their objection to 1040 the prohibition of colouring margarine to resemble butter by any society or association whatever. Let me take first of all the traders, both wholesale and retail. Certainly their organ, the Grocer, has condemned the sanctioning of margarine to be coloured. In a leader on the 4th of March on the subject it says:The Bill gives no assistance in the way of rendering the two articles distinct. It simply forbids and penalises. It will worry honest traders by more inspection and prosecution, while the real rogues will laugh at the law.The Bill would do little but worry the honest trader. In many respects also it would have a bad effect upon the consumer, who will have margarine foisted upon him as butter when coloured to look like butter. It is very remarkable to find that the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, which represents a great community, where five million pounds' worth of dairy produce are distributed every year, have, in a report on the subject, condemned the colouring of margarine to represent butter. Then, again, you have the wholesale traders objecting to it, as well as the retail dealers, and the Manchester and Salford District Grocers' Association. Honest traders desire that there should be a means by which the fraudulent sale of margarine coloured to imitate butter should be put down. I desire to secure the reconsideration of this Bill in the interest of the consumer. No doubt the President of the Board of Agriculture may get up and say that consumers who buy margarine coloured like butter will not be taken in, and that they will not pay a higher price for it than if it were not coloured to look like butter. On the other hand, I draw attention to the fact that my friend the hon. Member for Battersea, one of the most respected and representative of the Labour Members in the House, voted in favour of the Amendment for prohibiting the colouring of margarine, and he spoke strongly more than once on the subject. Again, I was supported in the Division in the Grand Committee on this subject by the hon. Member for Morpeth, than whom no one is more respected as a representative of the working classes, and whose opinion will carry greater weight than any other man on questions of this sort as affecting working men. I am indebted also to the hon. Member for Chester, who showed the attitude taken on the question by the organised associations of work- 1041 ing men, I mean the trades unions. No fewer than 288,099 members of these trade unions, including miners, masons, shipwrights, compositors, Lancashire weavers, and railway servants, expressed the opinion that it would be a fraud on the consumer to allow margarine to be coloured to represent butter. I have said enough from the traders' and consumers' point of view to show that there are many blots on the Bill. I need hardly say that if the consumers and the traders had not objected to the Bill I would not have attempted to move its postponement with the object of allowing the Government to bring in an unproved Bill. There is every reason to believe that if this were postponed the Government would bring in a better next year; for this is the third Bill, and every succeeding one has been an improvement on its predecessor. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that in the country the agricultural classes are to a great extent agreed in saying that they would rather not have this half-hearted Bill; they say it is worse than nothing, and I have resolutions from farmers' clubs stating that the Bill is not of any use at all. The opinion of the farmers in an agricultural county like that which I represent should have some weight with the Government compared with the half-hearted support of the Central Chamber of Agriculture. Why is it that the sale of margarine under false pretences is supported? Is it that the Government think that it could not be sold if it were not coloured, and that no one would buy this article unless their eyes were deceived when eating it? I venture to think that that argument is wrong. The only people who wish that the margarine should be coloured are the margarine manufacturers, who get larger prices for their margarine when it is coloured than its real worth. I agree that margarine is a perfectly wholesome food, but that is not the point. The point is, why should not the working classes be able to buy margarine at the lower prices when it is not coloured? The working classes buy as tenpenny butter what has been purchased by the retailer as margarine at 3d. or 4d. per lb. It is said that the prohibition of colouring would decrease the consumption of margarine, but in Denmark, where no margarine can be coloured, the consumption has not decreased at all, but has rather increased, and amounts now to 1042 12 lbs. per head. In Australia, also, where colouring margarine is prohibited, the margarine trade has largely increased since the prohibition of colouring. I am perfectly ready to see the sale of margarine increased in this country so long as it is sold for what it is and not for what it is not. There is no foundation for the assertion wildly made by the margarine manufacturers and those directly interested in the margarine trade that the trade would be killed if colouring is prohibited. It is absolute nonsense to talk in that way. I have dealt with the question from the consumer's and to a slight extent from the producer's point of view, but I wish to emphasise how the honest trader will be prejudiced by the operation of the Bill. It is a very serious matter indeed for him, because he will be responsible for the acts of his servants. A man might have a large number of shops, and a single servant who wanted to do him a bad turn out of spite or in revenge for some fancied grievance might purposely sell margarine as butter without difficulty, owing to it being coloured to imitate butter. And if that happened three times then the unfortunate, innocent man would be liable to imprisonment. Again, those charged under the Bill ought to have the benefit of trial by jury; but unfortunately the Government refused to permit that in Grand Committee. In conclusion I hold that in this Bill the interests of the consumer have been neglected, and the interests of the traders prejudiced in a most objectionable way for no useful purpose; and it is desirable, therefore, that it should be considered at a later date in order to allow the Government to introduce a better Bill. I beg to move that the Bill be considered this day three months.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Mr. Strachey.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
* MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
The form in which the hon. Member has submitted his motion to the 1043 House is, I imagine, forced upon him as a matter of Parliamentary practice, and I suppose he had no other alternative to moving the rejection of the Bill. In saying a few words on the subject, however, I desire to dissociate myself from any wish, at this stage, to arrest the progress of the Bill. As regards the particular question of colouring margarine so as to imitate butter, I am at a loss to understand how the Government have taken up the ground they have done; for if there is one subject which unites all the agricultural community it is this one. We have heard from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that this proposal was influentially supported in the Grand Committee. We have no authentic record of the proceedings of the Grand Committee. But I understand, from what the hon. Gentleman has told us, that certain hon. Members representing very important sections of the working classes supported this proposal in the Grand Committee. As to the colouring of one article to look like another, we are asked why persons should be denied the liberty of making the article they desire to sell as attractive as possible. Well, nobody is allowed to gild a shilling to pass it off as a sovereign, and I fail to see why anyone should be allowed to so disguise one article of food as to induce persons to mistake it for another. I said just now that the agricultural community was perfectly solid on this subject. I have been for a great many years associated with agricultural bodies, and it is very seldom they come solidly in a line on a subject. My right hon. friend was, in my judgment, wasting his time the other day when, through his natural courtesy, which he extends to all who approach him, he received a deputation representing the Central Chamber of Agriculture upon another subject. The chairman refused to introduce it; the vice-chairman took a similar course, and I for one, who have been for many years connected with the Chamber, and many others similarly circumstanced, would have nothing whatever to do with it. My right hon. friend was called upon to devote a very considerable portion of valuable time in hearing the views of a section of the Chamber on the subject brought before them, though there was considerable difference of opinion thereupon. But this is a question on which the Central Chamber of Agri- 1044 culture practically feels as one man. As a matter of fact there is absolute unanimity amongst the agricultural community throughout the length and breadth of the land upon this subject, and supported as the agricultural community on this occasion is by representatives of the working class communities, I think we have the right to urge our views very strongly on the Government. The Government may say that it would be dangerous to their Bill to adopt the course suggested to them. I know that a great many hold the view that the hon. Gentleman has just expressed, that so far as the agricultural interest is concerned they had better be without a Bill at all than have a Bill which omits the most important provision of all. I will not go the length of saying that this Bill may not have some useful provisions, but the most widespread disappointment has been created throughout the country amongst representatives of all sections of the agricultural interest by the omission of a provision preventing the colouring of margarine so as to imitate another article.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
The right hon. Gentleman seems to approve the method adopted by my hon. friend the Member for South Somerset in bringing forward his motion in this particular way. I certainly do not agree with that method at all, because the hon. Gentleman will have plenty of opportunities as the Bill goes on of bringing forward his pet fad—for really that is what he is contending for—that the prohibition of the colouring of margarines should be enforced. That is the be-all and end-all of his argument. But he has gone out of his way to suggest that the conduct of the Bill upstairs has not been such as to commend itself to the favourable consideration of the House, and he has suggested that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture, in charge of the Bill, really made no such thing as a concession. I really think that is unfair on the face of it. I paid particular attention to the proceedings upstairs, and the right hon. Gentleman made every concession he possibly could—as to which I am not speaking merely my own opinion, but that of many on this side of the House, who feel that the right hon. Gentleman conducted the Bill in an admirable manner, and made every concession he possibly could. The right hon. Gentle- 1045 man said at the outset that he was quite prepared to accept any Amendment that would strengthen the Bill, and therefore I think my hon. friend has taken an extraordinary course.
§ * MR. STRACHEY
I am sure my hon. friend does not wish to misrepresent me. I did not say that the right hon. Gentleman made no concessions, but that the two most important Amendments put in the Bill were resisted, showing that the Government did nothing to assist in carrying them.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I do not think that point is worth raising. It was thoroughly well-known to all of us that the Government had an open mind on the question, and they loyally accepted the Amendments which were carried in Select Committee. The hon. Gentleman could have objected there, but instead of that he satisfies himself by moving what practically amounts to the rejection of the Bill. That is why I disagree with him, and object to the course he has now taken. The Bill itself will go a long way towards repressing the frauds of which my hon. friend complains. The Government, acting upon the recommendation of the Select Committee, have determined to prohibit these margarine mixtures, which are at the root of the question; and they have taken powers under this Bill to make local authorities enforce the Statute as it exists at present. It was proved before the Select Committee that the main cause, almost, of all this licence to adulterate was because the local authorities did not act. The Government have taken very strong steps to see that the local authorities in the future enforce the Act. They have also taken steps for the inspection of goods at the port of entry, and by Order in Council can prohibit the importation of any goods which are not as they should be. They have also, acting again on the recommendation of the Select Committee, made provision for increasing penalties; and in the case of those persistent and fraudulent men who, in spite of ordinary fines, go on continuing this iniquitous system of imposing adulterated articles on the public, they have taken power to imprison. That will go a long way towards stamping out these frauds. My hon. friend says there are two classes of objectors—one the traders, who object because they are 1046 going to be subject to imprisonment. But nobody is going to be subject to imprisonment unless he is guilty of fraud; and because men who carry on dishonest practices are to be subject to imprisonment, are we to throw out the Bill? It is monstrous. Having taken considerable interest in the Bill, I think the Government have behaved well in the matter, and I intend, so far as I can, throughout these proceedings to give them my most consistent support.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
I must say that I listened with astonishment to the hon. Member, claiming as he does to represent the agricultural interest, when he asked the House to reject the Bill because it does not contain a prohibition of colouring. The abuses which have crept into the sale of food and drugs are largely owing to the fact that in some parts of the country the law is not administered at all, and in other parts only with laxity. But the change we have made in that direction, as the hon. Member for Devon-port has indicated, has been to strengthen the powers possessed by the central department; and I venture to suggest, speaking with full knowledge of the responsibility which I hold in this matter, that if the House sees fit to pass this Bill in its present form, and to give us the increased powers which we ask for, we shall be able, in no very long period of time, to deal successfully with the greater part of the offences. The main part of the hon. Gentleman's speech was devoted to the question of colouring. I do not think it is necessary for me to take up the time of the House more than to say that I adhere absolutely to the views I expressed on the Second Reading and upstairs, and I shall be prepared, when the time comes, to justify my view—viz., that it would be impolitic and unjust to introduce a prohibition of colouring in relation to one article of food, while leaving all the others untouched. But I will go further, and say that, notwithstanding the evidence the hon. Gentleman produced, I believe that if prohibition were made the law of the land in this country, it would do little good in reducing the competition between margarine and butter, while it would interfere materially with the production of an article of food which is wholesome and ought to be within the 1047 reach of those who desire to consume it. The colouring of margarine has nothing to do with price. The colouring is the same whether the margarine be cheap or expensive. The hon. Gentleman declared that the Amendment, if carried, would not interfere with this article of food, but, on the contrary, increase the production of a cheap article. That would not be the effect, either on the price or on the quantity, of the prohibition of colouring. The only effect would be materially to interfere with the production of a very valuable article of food which ought not to be interfered with unless it was injurious to health. I do not think it is necessary to give more reasons at present why the House should now proceed to the further consideration of the Bill, which has received most careful consideration at the hands of a very largely attended Standing Committee, and is now quite ripe for the further consideration of the House.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
I think it would both reduce and simplify the discussion on these clauses if for a short time we considered the very important principle underlying this Amendment. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet, while they agree in scarcely anything else, quite agree in letting us see what the intentions of this Bill are. The hon. Member for South Somerset said it would do no good to the agricultural interest, while the strong assertion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet was that upon this Bill the agricultural interest was solid and spoke with one voice. I observe that the right hon. Gentleman was present at a meeting of the Central Association of Chambers of Agriculture held since this Bill passed through the Grand Committee. A report was made to that meeting in strong terms in favour of the prohibition of the colouring of margarine, and also in favour of the limitation of the mixture of butter fat with margarine to 10 per cent. It is true that to a certain extent there was a chorus of approval of those recommendations, but there was one intelligent Scotsman at that meeting, and from an unusual lapse of memory the right hon. Gentleman seems to have entirely forgotten what Mr. Buchanan 1048 said. What that gentleman said was thatthey would never get the prohibition of the colouring of margarine through Parliament unless they could prohibit the colouring of all dairy products. It seemed to him that the colouring of dairy produce was a deception just in the same way that the colouring of margarine was a deception. surely when they put colouring into white butter to imitate good butter it was to make the public believe that it was a much richer butter than it really was. Why should there not be an all-round prohibition of colouring?
§ SIR JOHN LENG
He did not make a motion, so that no seconder was required, but he spoke words of truth and sense which did not appear to have been very acceptable to those who heard them. The right hon. Gentleman will see that in my objection to the limitation of the colouring of this particular article I am simply following the example of a member of the Chamber of Agriculture on that occasion. I am opposed to this Bill on diametrically opposite grounds to those which have been advanced. I oppose it because it betrays an almost insane hostility to an innocent, wholesome and nutritious article of food, and further, because I regard it as the child of a delusion of the agriculturists as to how they are to be benefited—how makers of one kind of agricultural produce may be advantaged at the expense of makers and dealers in another. The right hon. Gentleman has shown that the genesis of this Bill is from a Protectionist point of view. I sat upon the Adulteration of Foods Committee, and also took part in the discussions of the Standing Committee—and that is my reason for venturing to trespass on the attention of the House at this time—and I saw there that the one thing upon which the representatives of the agricultural and butter interests as distinguished from the margarine interests were united was in this endeavour, if possible, to proscribe margarine as an article of food, to make it unsaleable, either by compelling it to be sold entirely uncoloured or to be discoloured, and to surround the sale of it in every form and way with such pains and penalties that the ordinary dealer would be deterred from dealing in it. What did we witness last session and the session before? We had a large number of petitions addressed to 1049 this House from chambers of agriculture, agricultural associations, and other people, all of the usual machine-made character, all in the same form, and really originating in the same quarter. To show that this mistaken idea of the agricultural interest is at the bottom of this anti-margarine Bill—for that is what the Bill is—the petition stated:—We earnestly pray your honourable House' and especially those Members of it who represent agricultural constituencies, without distinction of Party, to take immediate steps to prevent the artificial colouring, and to prevent the mixing of margarine and butter, and to prevent the importation of adulterated butter.In the whole of the petitions which have been presented, no petitioner has ever ventured to say, or to make the allegation, that margarine is injurious to health, that it has caused disease, or that its use has resulted in any ailment or epidemic. The agitation to which I have referred culminated finally in this Bill which has been forced upon the Government. The proper department to have introduced the measure is the Local Government Board, the able Secretary of which presided over the Select Committee. At one time the President of the Local Government Board was urged to introduce this Bill, but he was wise and would not touch it, notwithstanding all the entreaties and remonstrances that were addressed to him. The Bill has at length been introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture, but no sooner was it introduced than it could be seen that it was a great disappointment to those who had pressed for it. It did not propose to accomplish what they desired, it did not propose that margarine should be uncoloured like lard, or made blue or pink, or any other colour offensive to the eye. Attempts were made in the Standing Committee to prohibit the colouring, but the President of the Board of Agriculture resisted those attempts; and I hope he will steadily resist them to the last, and in so doing he will have the support of many Members on both sides of the House. He recognised that a large branch of a perfectly legitimate trade was endangered. What is the contention of the opponents of margarine? It is not that it is unwholesome or innutritious; it is not that it is distasteful or unpleasant in any way. The great complaint is that it is too much like butter, that it cannot be 1050 distinguished from butter, and that good margarine is far better than ill-made butter, and, worst of all, the great offence of margarine is that it is too cheap.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
I am not blinking any fact. I know that the assertion is that it is sold by the retailers of butter, and that purchasers are defrauded. That is the contention of the opponents, and no doubt we shall have it reiterated to-night. I will meet those objections. First of all, as to margarine as an article of food. I do not wish it to be taken on my word that it is a wholesome thing. I have sought in vain in the "Encyclopædia Britannica" for any reference to the article, but in another Encyclopædia, the fairness and impartiality of which has never been doubted—Chambers's:Encyclopædia, the 1888 edition—margarine is spoken of under the name it was then known by, viz.,—butterine. That work speaks of it thus:—Butterine is a substance which when well made cannot be distinguished from good butter except by chemical analysis. It is now sold as margarine, and may be regarded as a valuable adjunct to the food of the labouring classes. It is made with great care and skill from the finest ox-fat, which is passed through an elaborate and highly scientific process of purification. It is then mixed with a varying proportion of real butter, and flavoured by washing with milk, and finally marketed in large quantities in a beautiful uniform condition.Then in the Select Committee we found that great regard was paid to the opinion of public analysts. Let me quote one or two sentences from one of these. Mr. Stokes, public analyst to Paddington, writing, says, margarinesare well-made substitutes for butter, from which they cannot be distinguished except by analysis. So far as nutritive value goes they are in my opinion as digestible and as nutritious as butter. They do not contain so much water as some of the low-grade samples of butter. As for flavour and palatability, they are vastly to be preferred to some inferior samples of butter sold at much higher prices. Sold as margarine they would by their cheapness and agreeableness and uniformity and quality be a boon to the community.I could add several other testimonies of the same character. As to the allegation 1051 of fraud, I am not a defender of fraud or of fraudulent dealing. I wish everything to be sold for what it is. But I assert, and I think there can be no doubt about it, that the Margarine Act of 1887 contains very stringent provisions, all for the protection of the consumer, and that it is a very special and peculiar legislation which would go beyond that. According to the Act of 1887 the word "margarine" is to mean "all substances, whether compounds or otherwise, prepared in imitation of butter, and whether mixed with butter or not, and no such substance shall be lawfully sold, except under the name of margarine." That is, if you put the smallest percentage of margarine into butter you must call the whole of it margarine. This is not applied to any other mixture whatever, but simply to margarine. Then, all packages containing margarine have to be branded with the word. When it is exposed for sale it must be labelled in capital letters one and a half inches square. This is in the existing Act. When sold it is to be delivered in a paper wrapper; the wrapper must have "margarine" printed on it in capital letters a quarter of an inch square. So that according to the present law margarine cannot be sold or exhibited for sale without full and ample notice of the fact that it is margarine. Then, manufacturers of margarine have to be registered; inspectors are empowered to take samples, and fines may be imposed not exceeding £20 for the first offence, £50 for the second offence, and £100 for the third. We say that the Act of 1887 is quite strong enough, that its penalties are heavy enough, and that it would be found quite sufficient for dealing with these matters if duly enforced. I do not object at all to the clause in the proposed Bill for securing its more active and uniform enforcement. But you have to take care of this fact. Complaint has been made of the unwillingness of the magistrates to convict, or to inflict the heavy fines which can be inflicted under the present Act. What is that but a proof that the magistrates doubt the wisdom of making a distinction between statutory offences and what are not really moral crimes? The sense of justice revolts against making unreal crimes, and it would rebel even more against the heavy penalties which are here proposed, and the still heavier penalties which some desire to have superimposed, in the Bill now before the House. I have here one 1052 page of the British Food Journal for the month of June, showing that when prosecutions are instituted there is no difficulty in clear cases in obtaining convictions and securing heavy penalties. All that is wanted is to go on putting the existing Act into operation. There can be no doubt that with repeated prosecutions the cause of the prosecutions would cease to exist. I have spoken of the genesis of this Bill as arising from a delusion ill the minds of the agriculturists. They think that margarine is the great enemy from which they suffer in the butter trade. I will only detain the House one or two minutes in showing that that is an utter delusion. The fact is that the imports of foreign margarine for some years past have steadily decreased. On the other hand, the imports of foreign and colonial butter have more than doubled in quantity and nearly doubled in value since the Margarine Act was passed. Take first the figures with regard to butter. The imports of foreign butter in the year 1887, the year the Margarine Act was passed, were in quantity 1,513,134 cwts., and the value was £8,010,374. The intervening years show a steady growth in the imports and in the value from year to year, until last year, 1898, the quantity went up to 3,209,092 cwts.—more than double—while the value increased to £15,960,571, nearly double the amount in 1887. The Board of Trade Returns confirm these figures, and show that from Denmark and Holland more especially there has been a very large increase. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that margarine had been specially dealt with in Denmark. The reason why is simple. The Danish farmers and producers, and the Danish Government which protects them, have first of all established a very high standard of excellence for their butter, and they have been, and are, naturally most anxious, having got so large and strong a hold on the British market, to maintain it, and therefore they are justified under the circumstances in excluding any danger of the idea spreading that Danish butter is mixed with margarine. If we were Danish farmers I think we should take the same course. But not only have the farmers in Denmark and France and other countries largely increased their exports, but our own colonies have done the same. The Board of Trade Returns for 1898 show 1053 that there has been a wonderful increase in the exportation from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. I met a Government official from New Zealand the other day, and he told me they were only beginning to send butter, and that they would send it in larger and larger quantities. The last reports from Canada are to precisely the same effect. Why is this? Because the farmers abroad, by their intelligence and education, by their system of co-operation, by adopting the factory system, have established a high standard of excellence, which they maintain. And not only that, they do not send their butter as our farmers send it to markets in dribblets of a few pounds at a time; they send it in cwts. and tons, and if von go to a large wholesale dealer he will tell you that he can rely on getting from the 1st of January to the 31st of December butter in such large quantities as he needs for his wholesale or retail business, and butter against which there will be no complaint. I have shown that so far as butter is concerned, the imports have been steadily increasing. The facts with regard to margarine are, curiously enough, just in the other direction. So far as foreign margarine is concerned there has been a steady diminution. In 1887 there were 1,276,140 cwts. imported, while last year the amount had decreased to 899,875 cwts. The value in the same period had gone down from £3,880,327 to £2,383,774. So that some of the opponents of margarine are frightening themselves over what is really slowly but steadily disappearing from the market, so far as foreign margarine is concerned. But there is a qualification upon this. While the importation of foreign margarine has been diminishing, the home manufacture has been to an almost equivalent extent increasing, thus forming a new, important and valuable branch of home trade and manufacture against which this Bill is directed. It is generally supposed that foreign manufacturers alone are affected. Some of these large home manufacturers, who did not wish to exaggerate a single figure, have told me after careful and cautious estimate that they are making conjointly 600 tons a week, or 30,000 tonsper annum. At £40 per ton that means a manufacture of £1,200,000 a year. They further said that the capital invested in this trade amounted to no less than £1,500,000. That is not an imaginary trade. I heard 1054 hon. Members for Ireland cheering some statements adverse to margarine. I am somewhat doubtful whether they know the extent to which the manufacture exists in their own country. There are large manufactories of margarine at Clarina, County Limerick; Clonmel, Limerick, and also in the neighbourhood of Dublin. Then, in our own country, there are such manufactories as those at Birkenhead and Liverpool, and we have a considerable number in Scotland—at Dunraggitt, kilmarnock, Cathcart, Glasgow, Craigmillar, Mauchline (Ayrshire), and Leith (Midlothian). Thus it will be seen that this is a large and important branch of trade, and to that extent the more these agriculturists go against margarine the more they are going against their own interests. Home-made margarine is taking the place of foreign margarine with advantage to British agriculturists. It has been also found that this has already enhanced the price of cattle £1 per head, and it has also increased the demand for milk. Even the dairy farmers benefit by the establishment it of well-appointed margarine factories both in Great Britain and Ireland, as they pay the farmers high prices for the milk required in the manufacture of margarine. The landlords already find that farms in the neighbourhood of margarine factories are letting at higher prices than they did before. I commend the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to this vexed question of colouring. I will not go at the present moment into the clause dealing with this subject, because when we come to the clauses we shall be able to speak upon them separately. There is only one point about which I should like to inquire. I notice that a new Committee is to be appointed, and possibly the right hon. Gentleman may have seen a statement published in the North British Agriculturist, in the issue of July 12th, in which it points out that:On Wednesday last, as we know from a sure source, Mr. Long, on visiting the Highland show, was greatly mortified at being informed that there was no likelihood of his being invited back to hold another conference with the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture and the agricultural associations affiliated therewith. On the following day it was made known to the inner circle that this committee to investigate and report on food preservatives and other questions connected with the Bill, would be appointed, with Sir Herbert Maxwell as chairman, and this will furnish a good excuse for withdrawing the Bill in the meantime, and 1055 haying it passed in an amended form next session. Sir Herbert Maxwell is known to be sound on the colouring of margarine question, and is very anxious to get Mr. Long 'extricated from the bog,' to use Mr. Long's own phrase.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has made the statement that there is no intention to get behind the Bill. The hon. Member for South Somerset has quoted with great emphasis a Report from the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester. All I know about that Report is that I read it very carefully, and a few days afterwards I received the statement that its issue was unauthorised and that it has been issued without the sanction of the Chamber itself, and therefore it goes for very little. But while I have very great respect for the intelligence of Manchester, I have still more respect for the intelligence of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leith, and Dundee, because the inhabitants there arc clearheaded, long-headed people. Let me read one or two sentences from the petition of the Chamber of Commerce and manufacturers in the City of Glasgow, incorporated by Royal Charter in 1783. They say:Your petitioners observe that by the provisions of this Bill a novel and pernicious principle is proposed to be introduced into common law. Legislation enforcing the impoverishment, injury, or total suppression of the manufacture of any wholesome and important food is out with all existing statutory enactment, and would inflict a direct injury alike upon the consumers and upon the producers of the food.Your petitioners are of opinion that the impoverishment of margarine is unnecessary as a protection against its fraudulent sale as butter. They are authoritatively informed that the mixture of margarine and butter can be ascertained by chemical analysis, whether the addition amounts to 10 or 50 per cent. of either the one food or the other. The contention, therefore, that to limit the quantity of butter in margarine to 10 per cent. is necessary to secure a conviction under the Food and Drugs Act is wholly without foundation.The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce say:In particular your petitioners point out that Clause 8, if passed, might prove the destruction of the margarine trade—one in the maintenance of which all classes of the com- 1056 munity (except a certain section connected with the home dairying interests) are directly or indirectly financially concerned.That clause would make unlawful to manufacture or sell any margarine which contains more than 10 per cent. butter fat, whereas it has been repeatedly proved by analysis that margarine to which no butter has been added may contain upwards of 10 per cent. butter fat, even as much as 17½. per cent.Your petitioners further are of opinion that to require that food which is approved by use as margarine is should be impoverished before being offered for sale is contrary to the interest, and is opposed to the usual line of Parliamentary legislation.The Chambers of Commerce for Leith and for the city which I represent have also strongly petitioned this House against the Bill, not by what I call machine-made petitions such as those which have been presented in its favour, but all of them by petitions couched in different language and framed by the Chambers of Commerce concerned. When we come to Clause 8 I think we shall be able to show that it is altogether contrary to the principles of enlightened legislation, and that, at all events, it should be amended in a different direction from that which has been advocated by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. The last objection which I make to this Bill is its denial of the right of trial by jury of the persons who will be subjected to very heavy fines and imprisonment with hard labour under its provisions. The penal Section provides that:Where a person guilty of an offence is liable to a fine not exceeding £50 that person shall be liable (if the court is of opinion that a fine will not meet the circumstances of the case) to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a period not exceeding three months.The courts before which these offences will be tried will be courts of summary jurisdiction, and it is quite easy to conceive that the magistrates of these courts may be imbued with similar feelings with regard to margarine as those which have been given expression to in this House; and they may easily find special circumstances to justify them not only in imposing heavy fines, but also imprisonment with hard labour for three months. I do hope that this House will not, for the first time, impose upon traders who may, in certain circumstances quite innocently, make an infraction of this proposed statute, a penalty which will subject them 1057 to what will mean absolute ruin; for if you send a tradesman or general dealer to prison for three months with hard labour for an alleged fraud, you may not only shut up his shop, but he need never again resume business. I say that, in such cases, the offenders should have the right of appeal to a British jury, and for that reason I have adopted an Amendment which was drafted by the late Mr. Ascroft, who was not only a man of remarkable common-sense, but his moral rectitude was shown by the vigorous action he took against the sharks of the money-lending fraternity. He was a man who could distinguish between moral crimes and statutory offences, and it is his Amendment which I have adopted. I hope that that Amendment will receive general support in this House. In conclusion I trust that the House, representing all interests in the country, will not be guided solely by consideration merely of the agricultural interest or the interests of a section of the dealers in butter, but will also consider the interests of all classes of consumers, many of whom have not the means to purchase high price butter, and are glad for their wives on Saturday night to buy a cheap, wholesome, and nutritious article at very often only half the price of butter. Then again, we should respect those manufacturers who have invested a large amount of capital in margarine factories, and I may point out here that there has been no case since the Margarine Act of 1887 was passed in which a prosecution against a manufacturer has succeeded; and on behalf of the whole trading and commercial interests of this country I do hope that this House will not lend itself merely to furthering the interests of the butter associations against the margarine associations. What I would say is, let the English farmers and landed proprietors adopt better systems of agriculture and cultivation, and devote themselves more to self-reliance and self-help. They should not always be looking to Parliament to improve their position; this rests with themselves, and they should be left to work out their own salvation. The Scottish farmers do not come whining to this House for assistance, for they agree generally with the views expressed by the Scotch Chambers of Commerce. Let our own British farmers and landed proprietors endeavour to meet the foreign and colonial producer of butter by producing 1058 butter themselves of an equally excellent quality, in equally merchantable quantities, and at the same price. Surely our farmers, farming their own land near our great cities and populous towns, should be able to compete with growers on the other side of the German Ocean, on the other side of the Atlantic, and even at the Antipodes, in Australia and New Zealand. These foreign growers have to pay merchants' commission, shipowners' freights, amid insurance, cold storage, and also the expense of refrigerating chambers. Surely, under these circumstances, British farmers ought to be able to compete with the foreigners. I do really hope that English farmers will rely more upon themselves, and that the farmers in the South of England will imitate the farmers in Scotland in this respect. I trust, also, that the deluded members of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce will take an example from the Chambers of Commerce in Edinburgh and Glasgow. If this House decides to give its support to these views, this Bill, before Consideration is finished, will receive a number of very important Amendments.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
In the discussion which has arisen upon the proposal of my hon. friend the Member for South Somerset, we have been drifting into adebate in reference to the producers of agricultural produce and the manufacture of certain articles of food. In that discussion, which is so far not altogether unjustifiable, very little has been said about the consumer, although it is the consumer, who above all others, is interested in this Bill. Our object in trying to make this measure better has been, as far as possible, to secure the consumer from fraud or from anything that is injurious to his health or his pocket. If we bear that principle in mind, I think this Bill will commend itself to the consideration of the House, and I before it leaves this and the final stage it will, I hope, have heel so altered as to be a measure which will be a benefit to the great masses of the community. The discussion which has been raised is not an unjustifiable one, because this measure differs vastly from the Bill as it passed the Second Reading. I find that as the Bill came from the Grand Committee, one-third of it is new matter, and out of twenty-six clauses no less than twenty-one have been amended. Therefore this measure requires serious con- 1059 sideration by every Member of this House before it passes into law. I do not think the proposal made by the hon. Member for South Somerset is an improper one, for it is a proposal which calls the attention of the House very justly to the great changes which have been made in this Bill during its passage through the Grand Committee. As far as I am concerned, and as far as my in- formation leads me to a conclusion, I regard this Bill as greatly improved in the shape in which it now stands as compared with the shape in which it was introduced. Nevertheless, it introduces great changes in the law, and therefore the measure requires very deliberate consideration. There is in this Bill an opportunity of bringing about an inspection at the port of entry, which is of very great importance indeed to the consumer. If we had nothing left in the Bill but the third clause, I do not think that we should want much else in order to have the law properly carried out. The third clause, for the first time in the history of this class of legislation, compels the local authority to enforce the law. I should be very sorry to interfere with anything in that clause, for it will do much in the way of making adulteration scarce in this country. I think that when we make it the statutory duty of every authority to administer the Adulteration Acts, we take a step which will be for the benefit of the whole community, and in particular a great benefit to the consumer. We have certain other novelties in the measure, some of which will be very valuable. We have a system of inspection under the Local Government Board, as well as under the Board of Agriculture, which will keep the local authorities up to their duty. I regard the Bill as somewhat revolutionary in another respect, inasmuch as it partly takes away from the Local Government Board the supervision of the Food and Drugs Act; but that is a point which we shall have to consider. I do not think that the new Board of Agriculture ought to step in and take over these duties, which have been discharged for a quarter of a century by the Local Government Board. The President of the Board of Agriculture appears to have rushed in where the angel of the Local Government Board fears to tread. I hope we shall not be led to consider too much either the producer or the manufacturer, because in this measure the well-being of 1060 the consumer is especially concerned, and it is the consumer who is to be protected from injury by an Act such as this. I think my hon. friend who moved this, Amendment has now gained all he desired by having produced this very interesting Debate by his proposal, and I hope he will not put the House to the trouble of a Division after he has obtained so much valuable information.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Kerry, W.)
I recognise that this Bill contains one or two valuable provisions which I would like to see extended to Ireland. I think that generally in Ireland disappointment will be felt, because the main grievance that we have in relation to adulteration of agricultural products, namely, the colouring of margarine, has not been dealt with. The butter industry is one of the largest in Ireland, and, speaking of that industry, I think I can safely say that the Irish manufacturers of butter are not in the least afraid of any form of honest competition. But we have the distinct grievance that our manufacture of butter is met by what I must call dishonest competition. What we object, to is this: that our neighbours produce a product which is not butter, but, through the ignorance of the purchaser, they are enabled to sell it as Irish butter. If it could be made plain to us that margarine would always be sold as margarine, and that there would he no infringement of the various Acts of Parliament dealing with the sale of margarine, then we should have no objection; but this is perfectly impossible so long as margarine is allowed to be coloured like butter, for poor people often purchase in a hurry, and though they expect to get butter they often get margarine. A good deal has been said about the necessity of supporting the interests of the working man in this matter. I am perfectly certain that nine working men out of every ten would much prefer butter to margarine, but as things are now it is perfectly impossible to suppose that if a workman or his wife or daughter go into a grocer's shop they have any means of knowing which is margarine and which is butter.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
Yes, but that Act has never been properly enforced, and the difficulty we have is that no Act will be properly enforced. All we should do is to insist that if an article is sold as margarine, it should be sold in its natural colour. Some hon. Members have said that if margarine were sold in its natural colour nobody would buy it. That seems to me to be a very strong and urgent reason why we should insist upon it being sold in its natural colour. Hon. Members who have travelled on the Continent know that in some places they can only get white butter, and they can eat that just as well as yellow butter. I do not believe that if margarine were sold in its natural colour it would make any difference to the people who wish to use margarine instead of butter. It has been said that the working man is greatly interested in cheap food, but as far as I can gather, the opinion of working men as represented in this House is in favour of having an honest article. This being such an important industry in Ireland, I think it would not be right for Irish Members to allow this Bill to pass without, at all events, expressing their opinion that the Irish butter industry is very badly treated in this respect. We are not afraid of honest competition, but what we do object to is dishonest competition.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
The right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench has told us that we ought to consider this matter in the interests of the consumer. I think that this is most important advice, and I am sure the House will bear it in mind. The only thing is that the consumer may have two interests at stake, and the House will have to bear in mind those two interests So far as my hon. friend is concerned, he appears to hear only one of those interests in mind. He has spoken of the consumer being protected from fraud. We are dealing with questions of fraud all through this Bill; but you have also got to consider the interests of the consumer who has got a small purse, and to protect him against the rich and powerful class who want to protect themselves by this measure. I quite agree that we ought to do everything we can to repress fraud, but if that is our object, we ought to pass legislation conceived in the spirit of the Act of 1875. I do not think Parliament 1062 has improved in its treatment of this great question. If anyone will look at the Act of 1875, it will be found that that Act deals with food broadly, and there is no special article singled out. It provides that there shall be no fraud connected with any food, and it looks at the interests of the consumer generally, and does it in a more intelligent way. So much for the Act of 1875. I believe the present Bill has been blessed by my hon. friend the Member for Devonport, who introduced a Bill last year, upon the back of which I placed my name. But that was a very different Bill from this, and I cannot understand for a moment how anybody who introduced a Bill like that of last year could lend his support and make himself responsible for the proposals in the present Bill. If anyone will look at the two measures he will see that the proposals are absolutely different. This is the great point upon which the House ought to fix its mind. In 1887 we had a bad measure from the predecessors of the present Government, and that measure was full of margarine. Now we are having another measure which is full of margarine, and I am sick of margarine. We have heard too much of it in this Debate—too much of margarine and too much of butter. I do not know anything, consciously, of margarine. I have not been spoken to by any manufacturers of margarine, and I have tried to keep away from the butter associations as far as I could. I think we should remember that we are dealing with broad national interests, and we should not talk too much about ally single article, but embody something in the Bill which will apply to all articles of food. That is the great objection I find to the present Bill, which is full of one article, and it is framed in the interests of powerful and rich classes instead of being full of general principles applying to all classes of food. There is a rich and powerful class protected in the Bill, and that is the agricultural interest, and the interests of the butter associations. I do not want to speak much about margarine, because I think the Committee has already heard enough about it. Margarine appears to be made as an honest article and a useful food. If that is so, why should it not have fair play in this Bill? There is nothing about the honest man in this Bill at all, and it is aimed entirely at the fraudulent person. My point is that if we have a fair descrip- 1063 tion of margarine, it is an honest article which may be honestly sold; and it is a cheap and useful food suitable to people who have got small purses. If that is so, it ought to be treated as an honest article, and we should not allow the stigmas which are laid upon it under this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman who has spoken from the front Opposition bench has stated that it is necessary to inspect the goods at the port of entry. Already the Bill is full of administrative confusion, and if we establish a second examining authority at the port of entry, the result will be that many articles will get through without being examined at all. I want every article of food landed to be examined by the proper authority, and the Customs authorities are the proper people to deal with this question. The effect of having two distinct authorities will be that bad articles will get in without being examined, because the Customs authorities will say, "We thought the Board of Agriculture would do this"; and the Board of Agriculture will say, "We thought the Customs would do it." We shall have confusion at the port of entry, but that will only be the beginning of the trouble, and it will be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, and nobody's interests will be properly managed. It may be said that it will be very hard to get the Customs, the Local Government Board, or the local authorities to do their duty, but I do not believe in Parliament shrinking from these hard tasks and taking on an easy way when it is a bad way. For these reasons I think the proposals of this Bill should be viewed with some suspicion. There are some extraordinary anomalies in the Bill, and I will mention one of them. The Bill makes an invoice a warranty, although it does not define what an in- voice is. Invoices are usually written by the worst paid clerks in a commercial establishment, and yet, hereafter, every invoice so made will be a warranty binding on the firm. I think this should not be allowed without imposing some very great safeguards, and there should be a limit of time fixed during which action may be taken on the warranty. There are many classes of margarine and butter which are not so good in a month as they are when they come in. Is the merchant who sent out those goods to be responsible for them seven days or a month after they are delivered? There is no 1064 provision made for anything of this kind, for the Committee upstairs were in a hurry; therefore, I think it would be better to take this proposal out of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is responsible for many of these great changes, and I notice than there are Amendments down to make the Bill apply to other sorts of food as well as margarine and butter. These are good Amendments so far as they go, but I think the right hon. Gentleman would do better if he would take a little more time to consider this question before he presses it upon the House. I would venture to suggest that the best course to take would be to withdraw the Bill altogether, for I believe that I have shown that it contains some very great anomalies. If the Bill is withdrawn, and we are allowed to care fully consider it during the next six months, I believe we shall then be able to address ourselves to this very important subject, to the advantage of the community at large.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devon, South Molton)
I shall not intervene for more than two or three minutes, but I wish to allude to the remarks made by the hon. Member who has just sat down, which I think challenge a little criticism. I do not think the hon. Member could have given the Government a better text to go to the country upon. He said there was nothing in the Bill about honest people, and that the measure aimed at fraudulent persons only. I think a Bill ought to deal with fraudulent people very strictly. Then the hon. Member made an Irish "bull" for he said that he was sick of margarine although he had never consciously tasted it. My hon. friend went on to say that invoices were made out by the worst paid clerks in an office. I hope that is not the case in his own establishment, and if that is the state of things which exists it ought to be altered at once. My hon. friend also said that we ought to deal with margarine in the spirit of the Act of 1875, but in that year margarine was not in existence. With regard to what has been said by the hon. Member for Dundee, I may say that I have never heard a Member in this House fancy himself and his people more than the hon. Member for Dundee. He drew a comparison, apparently much to his own satisfaction, between us and "hard-headed sensible 1065 Scotchmen," and he was very severe on this Bill, because it proposes to inflict imprisonment. But how is imprisonment brought in? It is only brought in after the third offence, and then it is at the discretion of the magistrate, who has an opportunity of letting the offender off again. The Debate commenced with the question of margarine, but I do not intend to prolong this discussion, because there are other Amendments on the Paper which I hope may be carried. The hon. Member for Dundee said the imports of margarine were decreasing, while the imports of butter were going up. It is a very extraordinary thing that the imports of butter from Holland are going up, while at the same time that country is the seat of the margarine trade. Holland sends us 90 per cent. of our margarine, and the increase in the importation of butter from Holland has gone up 40 per cent. since the year 1895, which proves that there is a very considerable amount of margarine manufactured in Holland which is imported into this country as butter. That is what we hope to stop by this Bill. I will not go further into this discussion at the present stage, but content myself with the few remarks which I have made. I may say that if the hon. Member for South Somerset divides the House on this subject I shall support the Government, because I would rather have this Bill than no Bill at all.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he has never seen a Bill which has received so much support in the country as this Bill, especially the proposal which it contains in reference to regulating the sale of margarine. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that as to the restrictions which it is proposed to place upon the margarine trade the whole of the agriculturists of the country were united. I think that shows clearly that the proposals of this Bill have the effect of pitting the interests of the agriculturists against those of the towns. As far as I have been able to judge, my opinion is that I never saw any measure proposed by any Government upon which there was such an absolutely unanimous opinion against the proposals of the Government in reference to margarine. My hon. friend the Member for Dundee quoted the opinion of a number of chambers of commerce in Scotland, in- 1066 cluding Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and so forth. In Glasgow the town council has gone dead against the Government proposals as regards margarine. In reference to Clause 8 they say:The Corporation see no justifiable reason, from the point of view of the citizens, why their margarine should be limited in quality, as it would be were Clause 8 passed into law.And later on the Health Committee, entrusted with the administration of the Food and Drugs Bill in connection with the Glasgow Corporation, issued a very strong letter upon the subject, in which they stated that:Clause 8 seems a reductio ad absurdum, as it prohibits adding a superior article to an inferior, although the mixture must be sold under the interior name. It deprives the public of a palatable and wholesome article of food, and compels them either to pay a much higher price for butter, or be content with a much inferior article, and prohibits the well-doer from well-doing in an effort to prevent fraud by the fraudulent.We are told that the reason for these proposals is that if a sufficient amount of butter is added—more than 10 per cent.—it is impossible for the analyst to detect the fraud. But what do this committee say on this point? They say:Our city analyst advises us that even 40 per cent. of butter added to margarine is quite capable of detection, and that the existing powers are sufficient for prosecuting successfully for selling any mixture in any proportions of margarine and butter as butter. Nothing can be clearer than that the more butter there is in margarine the better for the buyer and consumer.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
Certainly, but why not a mixture if it is sold as a mixture? Here is the opinion of the Scottish, Co-operative Wholesale Society. They say:We have seen a copy of the letter of the 29th ult. sent to you by the Public Health Committee of the City of Glasgow. Our society is composed of 289 co-operative societies, with a membership of over 220,000, all ratepayers and voters living in all parts of Scotland. Our members are chiefly of the working classes, who are interested in the clauses of the Bill and in preventing any restriction affecting the sale of a wholesome article. We entirely concur in what is said in the letter of the Health Committee, and we trust that you will use your utmost en- 1067 deavours to get the suggestions therein made carried into effect, and thus benefit the general public.But that is not all. I have here a memorial to the House from the Lanark County Council, which represents one of the most populous counties in Scotland, also expressing the same view. The right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench and several other speakers have spoken in praise of this Bill, but it strikes me the hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington struck the true note when he protested against legislation for special articles, and when he demanded that the Bill should be made applicable to food generally. But what do we find in connection with this Bill? It consists of two parts. Under the first part the importation of certain articles which are insufficiently described is not prohibited at the port of entry. The second part deals with the sale and manufacture of adulterated articles within the United Kingdom. We find that the prohibition at the port of entry is restricted to agricultural products, and to a certain class manufactured from milk, and these are dealt with in a fragmentary, illusory, and unintelligible fashion. For instance, milk from which the cream has been extracted must be marked "skimmed" or "separated." At the same time you admit impoverished cheese, but if it contains anything in the shape of margarine you insist upon it being subject to all sorts of restrictions. This Bill deals in a fragmentary manner with one article, and makes no provision in connection with the fraud which in all probability will arise in the case of other articles. In the case of butter it is proposed to provide for the stoppage at the port of entry of impoverished butter. Now, what is impoverished butter? It is the butter made from skimmed milk; if it is worth while to try and get butter from skimmed milk, such butter will be just as good as an equal amount of the butter which has been previously taken from the same milk. The greatest ingenuity cannot get more fat out of the milk than it contains. The butter from separated milk, if it would pay to make it, is just as good as the other butter, for impoverished butter does not mean butter than has been adulterated with margarine. Why is this legislation being carried out by a system of traps and pitfalls? Why has not a standard been laid down at which butter should be con- 1068 sidered adulterated, in order to enable us to understand what is meant by the Bill? The Bill takes no account of "process" butter, which is infinitely more deleterious than adulterated butter. "Process" butter is old, rancid butter sent through a certain process and made to taste like new. The acid which gives the butter its rancid taste is washed out, but the baccilli are retained, and consequently the butter goes back to its rancid condition in a very short time. "Process" butter is injurious to health, and yet this Bill does not take the smallest note of it. Take the case of margarine itself and see what the proposal in the Bill amounts to. As the hon. Member for South Molton said, it is a very suspicious circumstance than the importation of butter from. Holland is largely increasing, the explanation probably being that a large amount of the Dutch butter imported into this country is really margarine. We know it is impossible to detect the adulteration if there is a larger proportion of butter in margarine than 10 per cent., and therefore the case for the provision in the Bill falls to the ground.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now entering into a discussion which had better be reserved until the clause standing in the name of the hon. Member is reached.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I only wish to show the uselessness of this clause with regard to butter adulterated with margarine. There is nothing at all to prevent a foreign manufacturer mixing 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. of margarine with butter and sending it into this country. It cannot be detected, and nothing can prevent the dairy farmer in this country doing the same thing. I object to the Bill in so far as it does not deal with the subject in a comprehensive manner. None of the adulterations commonly met with are dealt with. Preserves, for instance, have formed the subject of many prosecutions, but they have been neglected by the framers of this measure. Why have not general principles been adopted, and why are we asked to give the Government a blank cheque to interfere with any trade they may think proper? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet said this interference would be a mere bagatelle. That is not the view I take. The whole 1069 of this case as regards butter and margarine was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States, which will be admitted by everyone to be one of the ablest tribunals in the whole world. Several States in the Union, under the influence of the agriculturists, passed laws prohibiting the manufacture of margarine, or insisting that the product should be coloured. For instance, one State passed the "pink law" and very grave penalties were enacted against any person transgressing it. A number of dealers contravened the law and were arrested, and a test case was brought before the Supreme Court of Appeal, which delivered the following judgment:The Legislature in common with many others speaks of butter as a product of nature. Butter is no more a product of nature than butterine. Both are manufactured. The principle ingredients of butter come primarily from the cow, and pass through different processes of manufacture to its finished state. Science by various chemical processes extracts the principal ingredients of butterine from the cow and kindred animals, and the complete products are practically the Same in both cases. The Legislature may pass any reasonable regulations for the manufacture and sale both of butter and butterine. It cannot prohibit the manufacture or sale of whole-ome and nutritious articles of food, either directly or under the guise of regulatory Acts. It is insisted that the Legislature has the sole right to say whether the Act is reasonable or not, and its discretion cannot be inquired into by the courts. If that be true then the Legislature may at its next session, prompted by the butterine or some other interests, remove all regulations on the manufacture or sale of butterine, and prohibit the use of annato or any other colouring matter, or even the use of salt in butter, and add such other regulations as would amount to a prohibition of the manufacture or sale of butter. Then they might prohibit the grinding of corn meal so as to make the meal white, or they might require all corn meal to be ground coarse and coloured yellow so that it would not resemble wheat flour. In fact, the field that would be open to the Legislature would be unlimited, and the greatest monopolies this country has ever seen might be fostered and built up in this State if the Legislature was so inclined, and there would be no redress for the people.This present Bill has been completely remodelled, and I think we ought to have some general principles on which to rely. The Feeding Stuffs and Fertilisers Act really aims at adulteration, because it seeks to grapple with the subject at the fountain head. This Bill contents itself with harrowing retailers and leaving the manufacturers untouched. Section 13 of the Sale of Goods Act provides that where goods are 1070 sold with a description there is an implied understanding that they correspond with that description. For instance, a grocer recently sold two tins of syrup. They were labelled "First Class," but they were afterwards found to be adulterated. The grocer was prosecuted for selling adulterated goods, and fined £6. Of course, the grocer was punished even to a greater extent than the mere amount of the fine, because he was convicted of selling adulterated goods, and his rivals would not scruple to take advantage of that fact when pushing their own trade as against his. The Feeding Stuffs and Fertilisers Act carries the matter still further.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now entering into a detailed discussion, which would be more appropriate on the Amendments which stand in the hon. Member's name on the Paper.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I do not, of course, Sir, wish to contest your ruling, but it seems to me that legislation of this kind should be constructed on general principles. We are asked to give the Minister of Agriculture a blank cheque with regard to the setting up of standards. Hon. Gentlemen from Ireland appear to trust themselves blindfolded to the Board of Agriculture. I would ask them whether it would not be better that, instead of leaving the whole of this question as to what constitutes adulteration of butter to the Board of Agriculture, it should be laid down in the Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman himself may have no intention of dealing harshly in the matter, but he cannot bind his successors. The Bill has been somewhat improved by the Amendments carried in Committee, but they were forced on the right hon. Gentleman almost at the point of the bayonet. For instance, one Amendment gives power to the Local Government Board to enforce the administration of the Food and Drugs Act in districts in which it is neglected. The right hon. Gentleman told us he could not accept that, and he only accepted it after several of his hon. friends got up and pressed him on the point. Another improvement is, that an analyst should be compulsorily appointed. There, again, that Amendment was not brought forward 1071 by the right hon. Gentleman, although he accepted without the smallest trouble what my hon. friend the Member for Dundee has described as "the clause for altruistic imprisonment." The legal doctrine is that a man should be responsible for the acts of his agent, but I do not know of any instance where a man has been made criminally responsible for the acts of another. The Bill now appears to me to be conceived entirely in the interests of one class. It will work so little good, and will have such little effect in preventing adulteration, that if my hon. friend goes to a Division I will support him.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Galway, N.)
The hon. Baronet who has just sat down has appealed to the Irish Members to be careful as to what they are going to do in connection with this Bill. He has asked us if we are going blindfolded to put the case of the Irish agriculturist into the hands of the President of the Board of Agriculture. In these matters, although I confess that we are indebted for a great deal of support to Scotch Members, I would say to the hon. Baronet that we are the best judges of our own affairs. I would further draw his attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has undertaken in this Bill to appoint a Board of Reference, or, at any rate, that before the Board of Agriculture proceeds to say what percentage of water is legitimate in butter he will take every means of ascertaining what is legitimate. I do not know that during his early career the right hon. Gentleman has been in any way remarkable for running away from any undertaking given by him in this House, and I do not anticipate that the Irish producers will labour under any difficulty in the matter. I notice that the opponents of this Bill are unanimous in agreeing that it is intended solely and entirely to benefit agriculture, and that the Government has been forced by the representatives of agricultural interests in this House to introduce the Bill. The hon. Member for West Islington in the course of this Debate asked would any Irish Member get up and deny that fact. I deny that the Government have been forced by the representatives of agriculture. I deny that it is because of agricultural depression that the Government have been forced to bring in this Bill. It 1072 is because of admitted frauds, as well as of their immensity and continuance, that it has been found that the existing law is not sufficiently strong to prohibit fraud, and the Government have been forced in the interest of just trading to bring in this Bill. My hon. friend says that from beginning to end the Bill deals solely with fraud. Of course it does, because its sole object is to stop fraud. We have heard over and over again that this is a fight between town and country. It is nothing of the kind. It is a fight on the part of the honest trader against the dishonest trader. If it be a fact, and I admit it is, that these frauds hit not only the honest trader, but also the agricultural producer, is it because the agricultural producer finds himself badly hit, that we are to be told that this Bill to prevent such frauds is introduced solely in the interests of agriculture, and that working men are to be deprived of wholesome articles of food? I notice that during this Debate no direct representative of labour has got up and said that this Bill will deprive the poor man of a cheap and wholesome article of food. That argument is used, not by the working men representatives, but by the capitalists, and I prefer to believe that my hon. friend the Member for Batttersea or my hon. friend the Member for Stepney, is better entitled to speak on behalf of the working classes than the hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division or the hon. Member for Dundee. We are told this Bill was forced upon the Government. No doubt it was, and I am very glad the Government have introduced it. The hon. Member for West Islington told us that he put his name on the back of the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Devonport. He did not tell us whether he regretted that fact or not, though I am inclined to believe he does regret it. The principal provisions in the present Bill were contained in the Bill of the hon. Member for Devonport. The latter Bill contained imprisonment, and as my hon.. friend put his name on the back of the Bill, I am inclined to assume that he was in favour of imprisonment then, although he is against it now. That Bill also contained a provision for inspection at the port of entry. My hon. friend was in favour of that then, though he now says, it is a monstrous interference with trade.
§ MR. KILBRIDE
There is a provision in the present Bill stating that the inspection may be undertaken by the Commissioner, of Customs. I would also direct the attention of the House to Clause 2, which states that the Local Government Board may in relation to any matter appearing to them to affect "the general interests of the consumer," etc. It does not say, it will be observed, "the general interests of agriculture." My hon. friend apparently has not read the Bill. One of the necessities for this measure is that the local authorities have refused, and still refuse, to put into operation the Act of 1887. It has been found that for years and years in some of the principal centres of population, especially in the North of England, the local authorities have allowed the Act to remain a dead letter. Hon. Members who oppose this Bill say that the existing law is sufficient, but what are they going to do to compel the local authorities to put that law into operation? It is because of the refusal of the local authorities that power has been taken in this Bill to have inspectors appointed by the Board of Agriculture in order to make the Act of 1887 operative. On the question of colouring there is an enormous amount of misapprehension. We are asked why margarine should not be coloured as well as butter. Although it may appear a strong statement, I deny that butter is coloured at all. I know no other article of food than margarine which after the colouring process has been gone through, is so changed as to be made unrecognisable by anyone who knows the article in its natural condition. We are accused that we want to kill the trade in margarine. I deny that. We admit margarine is an extremely wholesome article of food, and we are aware of the fact that a very large number of people are engaged in the trade. We are not at all opposed to the trade, but we are moving in the interests of the consumer. It is said that we are forgetting Free Trade, and that this is the thin edge of the wedge of Protection. There are protectionists and protectionists; there is such a thing as broad protection. I was shocked and surprised during the 1074 whole proceedings in the Select Committee, in the Grand Committee, and in the Debates in the House, at the number of gentlemen whom I believed to be above reproach, but who have suddenly developed into Protectionists. I hope the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment will not go to a Division. I admit that the Bill does not go far enough, but I agree with what has been said by the hon. Member for Devonport, that as it stands the Bill contains very valuable provisions, and that it is a considerable advance on the law as it exists. I would say to my friends who are very strong on this question of colouring: Give the Bill a chance, and see how it will operate. If it is found after a reasonable time that its provisions are not sufficient to stop fraud, then a stronger case than ever will have been made out against the colouring of margarine.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
I quite agree with my hon. friend who has just spoken, that this is not a question between town and country, but quite the contrary. There is no doubt that margarine offers great inducement to fraudulent trading, seeing that it can be bought at 4d. per lb., while it is frequently sold at 8d., 10d., and 1s. per lb. It inflicts unquestionably a very great disadvantage on farmers, for it ousts farmers out of their legitimate market. But in adopting this Bill we are not legislating solely for agriculturists, but in the interest also of consumers in large towns. Tons of margarine bought at 3½d. and 4d. per lb. are coloured and palmed off on the poor as butter, and the price of butter paid for it. I do not want to detain the House longer, since the case has been so well stated by my hon. friend the Member for North Galway, but I want to refer for a moment to the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee. He quoted statistics to show that the importation of margarine has largely decreased, and that the manufacture of margarine has progressed in this country. It matters not whether the margarine is manufactured in this, or in other countries. There are four manufactories in Ireland. We say, however, even if it is made in Ireland, let it be sold as margarine, and not palmed off on the poor as butter. It is now almost impossible to detect margarine in appearance from butter, and it is necessary in the interest of the farmers who are seriously injured, and 1075 also of the consumers, that the Government should take steps to stop these frauds. I should have wished the Bill had been stronger than it is. We proposed to do this in Committee upstairs, but were not able to carry the point. The Bill, however, has some provisions which would stop these fraudulent operations, and it is a step in advance.
§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ A Clause (Repeal of enactments in Schedule),—(Mr. Long),—brought up, and read the first and second time, and added.
SIR CHARLES CAMERON moved the insertion of the following new Clause:
When an employer is charged with an offence under this Act, he shall be entitled, upon information duly laid by him, to have any other person whom he charges as the actual offender brought before the Court at the time appointed for hearing the charge, and if, after the commission of the offence has been proved, the employer proves to the satisfaction of the Court that he has used due diligence to enforce the execution of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1899, as defined by this Act, and that the said other person had committed the offence in question without his knowledge, consent, or connivance, the said other person shall be summarily convicted of such offence, and the employer shall be exempt from any penalty.
It was quite right that a man should be responsible civilly for every act of his employee, but there was no precedent, so far as he (Sir C. Cameron) knew, for a criminal responsibility being fixed on one man in respect of the action of another. This Bill, for the first time, proposed to treat an offence against the Food and Drugs Act as a crime for which a man may be sent to prison, and unless the new clause he proposed was added to the Bill an employer might be sentenced to three months' imprisonment for hard labour for
the act of an employee for which he was not responsible, and for the prevention of which he had used due diligence. He submitted that that was a most urgent argument in favour of the introduction of the clause he proposed.
§ Clause (Exemption from penalty)—(Sir Charles Cameron)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. LONG
The hon. Baronet has, judging from his speech, misunderstood what the effect of this clause will be. Under the sixteenth clause a person guilty of a breach of the Act is liable to a fine of £20 for the first offence, of £50 for the second offence, and of £100 for the third offence. But in the case of the third offence, if the offence, in the opinion of the court, "was committed by the personal act, default, or negligence of the person accused," imprisonment for that offence may be imposed if the court considers that a fine would not meet the circumstances of the case. The master is, therefore, only liable to imprisonment for the third offence. It is the master who receives the benefit of these repeated evasions of the Act, and it is the master and not the servant—perhaps a boy earning a few shillings a week—who should be held responsible. In the interests of fair play the House ought to adhere to the Bill as it stands, which provides that a master shall be liable for the offence of his servant, but which guards the master against the risk of unjust imprisonment.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITELEY (Stockport)
If any of these Amendments go to a Division I shall vote against them. I shall do so because the Bill as it now stands is in my judgment a good one. It is the best Bill that could be drafted under the circumstances under which it was initiated. It was considered in Committee, and the result was a compromise between a great many conflicting interests: the agricultural interest, the distributing interest, the importing interest, and the consuming interest. This Bill is the happy medium. The right hon. Gentleman's attitude during the progress of the Bill through the Committee was a wise and impartial 1077 one, and I protest against raking up everything again by these Amendments. I venture to say that the House, in considering these Amendments, should have regard to the fact that the Bill is a compromise, and only accept drafting Amendments.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER
I do not want to injure or imperil the Bill by the introduction of Amendments, but I think the right hon. Gentleman has stated the case a little too strongly. It does seem hard that a man should be rendered liable to very serious penalties through the action of another who may be a malicious employee. It is quite conceivable that a person with a grudge against his employer might adulterate butter or other articles, when they are sold miles away from where the owner is. I do not think there is Sufficient justification for the attitude taken by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
The position taken by the hon. Member for Stockport is somewhat a strange one, and one against which it is necessary to protest. He says he is in favour of these Amendments, but he does not vote fur them because the Bill was the result of a compromise in Committee. If we are to act on that principle we might as well go home. We are not bound by the conclusions at which the Committee have arrived.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
With regard to the Amendment now before the House, although I think this Bill is in some respects too stringent, I do not think the particular part of it against which my hon. friend has spoken is open to objection. My hon. friend made a strong point when he drew attention to Clause 2, Sub-section 16, and pointed out that it would be quite a new thing to send a man to prison for the fault of his servant. But I think my right hon. friend has clearly met that by pointing out that even as the Bill now stands the proprietor can only be sent to prison for negligence. On that ground I do not feel that we should be in danger, and for that reason I support the Amendment.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I suppose it is of no use to protest, but it does seem to be rather a strong order, when the offence is proved to be committed by another man, that the court should not be allowed to convict the real offender. For us to pass a law under those circumstances seems to me to be going rather far. As I said in Committee, I could not go as far as that, and in my judgment the Government are going too far in this matter.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir R. B. FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
It is highly necessary in the interests of the employer that he should be made responsible for the acts of his servant. The employer has control over his servant, and he is the person to benefit. The idea that the Bill will work harshly because the employer may be sent to prison is a complete mistake, because it is only in respect to the third offence, and where the third offence is proved to be due to the employer's negligence, that that penalty is enforced.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorganshire)
This clause is a most extraordinary one, having regard to the position of the law as it at present stands. The suggestion is that the employee has his defence against a prosecution in the fact that somebody else can be prosecuted.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
Yes; that is the only exception, and I do not know how that crept into law in that Bill, because I am certain it is a wrong principle, and is a new departure in criminal law. To say that a man is responsible for the acts of his servant is also going a little too far, but to say that he is criminally responsible is going mach too far. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying that the employer cannot be liable unless it can be shown that it was his personal neglect. I shall vote against this Amendment, because it firings in a new principle of criminal law which is very objectionable.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
The clause I now propose to move is a clause to apply to the wholesaler, and to take a sample at the port of entry; every seizure there will do more good than a seizure at fifty little petty traders. We must deal with margarine by going direct to the factory, and compelling the manufacturer to keep a register and subject them to inspection. I am against special legislation as a rule, but I do not see in this case why the wholesaler should not be put on the same level as the retailer, and I am perfectly certain that if this clause is accepted, you put a weapon in the hands of the ratepayers which will prove effectual. Let me illustrate my point. A man is brought up for selling syrup made from beet, though the labels on the tins bear the legend that it is pure cane syrup; that mail is fined and the manufacturer is allowed to go free. If yon are going to suppress this adulteration why not go to the manufacturers and bring your action against them? If you did that you would at once get rid of that form of adulteration. It is upon these grounds that I beg to move the new clause standing in my name.
New clause:—The provisions of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, shall apply to and include every wholesale trader or manufacturer of any article of food or drug who shall sell to the prejudice of the purchaser any article of food or drug which is not of the nature, substance, and quality of the article demanded by such purchaser, and the seventeenth section of the said. Act shall he read as if the words 'whether by wholesale or' were inserted between the words 'on sale' and the words 'by retail' in the said section."—(Sir Charles Cameron.)brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
I am afraid if the hon. Gentlemen's Amendment is accepted it will improve the Bill out of existence, I hope it will 1080 be rejected, because the first part is not necessary, and the second part of the Amendment is not applicable. To give an officer liberty to enter a wholesale house and get the amount he requires for analysis is quite impracticable.
§ MR. LOUGH
I think the hon. Gentleman the Solicitor-General is a little hard on my hon. friend. Surely it is better to look at the merits of a particular Amendment, and accept it or reject it as it is good or bad. I do not think the objections raised by the hon. Gentleman apply, because it is quite customary for wholesale houses to supply samples; it is the business of the wholesalers to supply the retailers with samples. Of course, it would not be right to let the officers go into the wholesale houses and get samples without payment; but let them go and get them and pay for them, and if the samples are not what they appear to be, proceed against the wholesale houses, and thus strike at the root of the evil. I think this clause is vital to the Bill. The Bill is not what it purports to be. It hounds down the retailer, whilst the wholesaler is allowed to go free.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
Where a prosecution is undertaken against a retailer, and that retailer has a warranty from the wholesaler, which he produces to show that he is not the person to blame, I apprehend the local authority will be able to go to the wholesale saler.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
Then, as I understand, the wholesale man will always escape. I think some provision ought to be put into the Bill to the effect that the retailer has absolved himself from blame if he can succeed in throwing it upon the wholesaler. I think that the Bill, at all events, should reach the producer.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
When I addressed the House before I said I was strongly against fraudulent dealing, and that being so I regret that the representative 1081 of the Government has not given us any measure by which we can deal with the big rogue instead of dealing with the small one in detail. I am not a lawyer, but I think this Amendment is necessary to bring the great rascal within the meshes of this Bill. The making of margarine like butter is not done by the retailer, it is done by the manufacturer at the request of the large dealers. If you want to stop this rascality, stop it at the fountain head. Deal with the men who are really the initiators, and who are the large scoundrels. To allow a man who makes large contracts, and deals with hundreds and thousands of tons at a very large profit, to escape, and to come on the poor little shopkeepers in the back streets and to expose them to all the penalties of this Act does not seem to be just as between man and man. Whilst the Bill stands in this way we merely pretend to deal with adulteration. This Bill will result in hundreds of prosecutions against poor people, whilst men making their fortunes are allowed to escape. If this Amendment is not sufficient to meet the purpose, I hope some Amendment will be moved which will have the effect desired.
§ MR. LONG
I think the hon. Gentleman and my hon. friend behind me entirely misapprehend the question we are discussing. The first part of the Amendment is unnecessary, because it is covered by the Act of 1875. The wholesaler being exposed to a prosecution by a retailer, it is not a case of the big rogue escaping, as has been described. But apart altogether from that, the Amendment is altogether impracticable; and, that being so, I trust it may be rejected.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER
The precaution which is provided by the law at present is a precaution of which the small retailer cannot avail himself. Cases have often been brought before me of great suffering and hardship on the part of small shopkeepers, not through their own fault, but through that of the manufacturers who supply them with goods. We want by this Bill to get at those individuals. A little dealer is very often hauled up and fined for selling an article of which he could not know the composition. An illustration has been given with regard to beet syrup having been sold as pure cane 1082 syrup. If a warranty had been supplied for pure cane syrup the retailer would have escaped, mid rightly, but he could not if the description was only on the label, under the law as it at present stands. I think some Amendment should be accepted which would get rid of this hardship on the small trades people.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
said he thought the clause had been dealt with in too technical a manner. What was required was to deal more stringently with the manufacturers of margarine and other products.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
It is the wholesale dealers who make large fortunes, probably by adulteration. The retail dealer does not know anything of the transactions, and does not know the meaning of the word margarine, and the fact that the wholesalers deal in hundred-weights instead of pounds is not an insuperable difficulty against bringing them under this Act, as is shown by Section 19 introduced by the Committee upstairs. I should like to ask the Government whether they could not put in a specific clause providing that where the retailer shows that he is not responsible for the adulteration a prosecution with respect to that adulteration should lie against the wholesale dealer.
§ * MR.CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
I would ask the Government, as a supporter of this Bill, either to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Bridgton Division, or the more practical suggestion of the hon. Member for Mid Glamorgan. I should wish to put before the House the most important evidence given by Mr. Lovell, a most able witness and one of the largest men in the trade, before the Select Committee with reference to the system of fraud carried out by the wholesale dealers. Mr. Lovell stated that he would produce one witness who had been solicited to buy a machine for mixing margarine with butter, on account of the enormous profits that can he made, and another "responsible witness who will tell you that a manufacturer of these mixtures had solicited him to sell the mixtures and told him they are so much like butter that you can sell them with impunity, and if you are fined, I will pay all expenses."
§ MR. DUCKWORTH (Lancashire, Middleton)
This Amendment is much more important than some hon. Gentlemen would imagine. So far as the large retailer is concerned he is all right; he can make his bargain with the wholesale dealer and get his warranty; but the small retailers do business with a wholesale man, and are on his books, as it is called, and they have to bear the brunt. They are not in a position to demand a warranty, so that when they are prosecuted the wholesale dealer escapes. That is the way in which this measure acts, and it would be well, if possible, to bring these large wholesale dealers within the operation of the Bill.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow Camlachie)
Supposing a sample is taken from a retail shop, and is found to be grossly adulterated, the law demands that somebody must be punished, and the authorities proceed against the shopkeeper. He makes a defence, not that the goods are not adulterated, but that, if they are, proceedings should be taken against the man who adulterated them. In that case I think the authorities should be hound to proceed against the wholesale dealer. Therefore, I hope the Government will accept this Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 75; Noes, 175. (Division List, No. 273.)1085
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Burns, John||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W.R.)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Burt, Thomas||Horniman, Frederick John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Caldwell, James||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.||Spicer, Albert|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Strachey, Edward|
|Charming, Francis Alluston||Kearley, Hudson E.||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Kitson, Sir James||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Labouchere, Henry||Ure, Alexander|
|Colville, John||Lambert, George||Warner, Thomas Courtnay T.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Langley, Batty||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Davies,M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Leng, Sir John||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dewar, Arthur||Lloyd-George, David||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lough, Thomas||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.|
|Duckworth, James||Maclean, James Mackenzie||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Crae, George||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Evershed, Sydney||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Moulton, John Fletcher||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fenwick, Charles||Oldroyd, Mark||Sir Charles Cameron and|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Mr. Pickersgill.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Brassey, Albert||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Brookfield, A. Montagu||Curzon, Viscount|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bullard, Sir Harry||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carlile, William Walter||Dillon, John|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dorington, Sir John Edward|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Doughty, George|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S-(Hunts.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Charrington, Spencer||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Finch, George H.|
|Bethel!, Commander||Colston, Chas. Edw. H.Athole||Finlay, Sir Robert B.|
|Biddulph, Michael||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Fisher, William Haves|
|Bill, Charles||Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Flower, Ernest|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edinburgh|
|Fry, Lewis||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Purvis, Robert|
|Garfit, William||Lowles, John||Pym, C. Guy|
|Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rankin, Sir James|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Round, James|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||Macaleese, Daniel||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Godson, Sir A. Frederick||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Macdona, John Cumming||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Maclure, Sir John William||Sidebottom, T. (Stalybridge)|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St Geo.'s)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.|
|Gosehen, George J. (Sussex)||M'Killop, James||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Gretton, John||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J.||Stock, James Henry|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Strauss, Arthur|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Milward, Colonel Victor||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Monk, Charles James||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Helder, Augustus||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Henderson, Alexander||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter||Morrell, George Herbert||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hobhouse, Henry||Morris, Samuel||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Mount, William George||Whiteley, H (Ashton-u.-Lyne|
|Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Murray, Col. W. (Bath)||Williams, Jos. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Kenyon, James||Myers, William Henry||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershr. N|
|Kilbride, Denis||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Kimber, Henry||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lafone, Alfred||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.||Wyndham, George|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Parkes, Ebenezer||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Leighton, Stanley||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)||Younger, William|
|Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Percy, Earl|
|Llewelyn, Sir D.- (Swansea)||Pierpoint, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Sir William Walrond and|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I beg to move the new clause standing on the Paper in my name. One of the most frequent causes of friction in the present Act has been the conflict between public analysts and the Government laboratory at Somerset House. In many cases the public analysts were probably too anxious to secure a conviction, whereas, on the other hand, the analysts at Somerset House were generally anxious to give the accused the benefit of the doubt. Somerset House set up a standard which was found grave fault with by public analysts. The Society of Public Analysts have again and again censured in the most vigorous terms Somerset House, and Somerset House has spoken very disrespectfully of the proceedings of many of the public analysts. That renders it necessary that there should be some board set up to get rid of that friction. The question of standards is one of the most important. If you set up low standards those low standards will be worked down to. The 1086 Select Committee recommended that standards should be set up by a department constituted in the manner proposed in this clause. Standards must vary from time to time. Improvements are introduced in the manufacture, new facts transpire, and new articles are brought into use, and it is necessary that the standards should be dealt with as changes arise. The composition of the Standing Committee of Reference on Food Standards is that proposed by the Select Committee which sat on the question of adulteration. But the composition is really a matter of secondary importance. What I urge is the appointment of some such Committee.
New clause:—(1) The Local Government Board shall appoint a Standing Committee of Reference on Food Standards to be composed as follows:—Each of the following bodies—that is to say, the Society of Public Analysts, the General Medical Council, the Institute of Chemistry, and the Pharmaceutical Society—shall name a representative, and the Local Government 1087 Board shall, if it think fit, appoint such nominee to be a Member of the Standing Committee of Reference on Food Standards. But if the Local Government Board object to any person so nominated, it may require any of the bodies aforenamed to nominate three persons, from whom the Local Government Board shall select one as the representative of that body on the said Standing Committee. The principal officer of the Government Laboratory at Somerset House shall, ex-officio, be a member of the said Committee. The Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture shall each nominate one representative, and the Board of Trade shall nominate two members engaged in commerce. And the said Standing Committee shall, after such notice and such inquiry as they shall think fit, be empowered to make such orders as they from time to time think proper respecting standards of the quality and purity of food and drugs, and to determine what deficiency of the normal contents of any article of food or drug, or what addition of extraneous matter, or what proportion of water in any article of food or drug shall raise a presumption, until the contrary is proved, that the article in question is not genuine or is injurious to health, and such orders, if and when they have been confirmed by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, shall have the force of law. Provided always, that in any case where a standard of the quality or purity of any article of food or drugs is prescribed by Statute this section shall not apply.(2) The members of the Standing Committee of Reference on Food Standards shall be remunerated for their services out of moneys to be provided by Parliament on such a scale as the Treasury may determine. The Local Government Board shall nominate a member of the Committee to act as chairman, three shall form a quorum, and the chairman shall have a casting but not a deliberative vote."—(Sir Charles Cameron.)
§ Brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. LONG
I hope the House will not adopt the clause. It is true the Select Committee recommended the appointment of a committee of reference to arrive at a standard of purity. That recommendation was one the Government found it impossible to give effect to. In the first place, although it is here made a condition that the sanction of the Secretary of State shall be obtained before the decision have the effect of law, yet the result of the scheme would be that the responsibility which now rests upon a Government Department would be devolved upon an altogether independent body of experts. That is fundamentally wrong as regards the duty of Government Departments to control the work affect- 1088 ing those Departments. The hon. Baronet proposes that the appointment of this committee should rest with the Local Government Board. Speaking for my Department, I should be perfectly content that that should be so, as I am perfectly confident that they would have full regard to the interests of the industry with which my Department is concerned. But this committee of reference would probably have to come to decisions upon many articles of food which are mainly concerned with agriculture. I think it would lead to confusion if the Local Government Board were called upon to appoint the committee, and might gravely affect the future interests of the agricultural industry. Take the case of butter, for instance. It would be quite easy for a committee of this sort to proceed to work with the fullest intention to do their duty, and yet arrive at a conclusion which might ruin a third or a half of the dairy agriculturists in the country. If that is the case, I think it is a reason against giving such large powers to an independent expert authority free from the control of any Government Department. The clause we suggest does not fully carry out the recommendations of the committee, and perhaps it may be said that it does not entirely meet the requirements of the public, but it is a compromise upon a difficult and complicated question, and if loyally carried out will give effect to the greater part of the wishes which have been expressed by those interested in the agricultural industry, and by those who are anxious that there should be some understood line as to what is pure and what is impure. I therefore hope the House will not accept this proposed clause, but will later on agree to the clause we suggest.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
Is it intended that the committee should be statutory? There is no reference to it in the Bill whatever.
§ MR. LONG
A similar question was asked upstairs, but it is obvious that a statutory committee for this purpose would be ridiculous. The work of the committee, the articles of food to be considered, the committee itself, would all vary from time to time. One object is to get the assistance of men of expert and practical knowledge, so that wise advice should be given to the country upon this particular subject.
§ MR. KEARLEY
A great deal depends upon the constitution of the committee. With regard to the claim that the Board of Agriculture is entitled to have the control of this committee because particular questions to be discussed would refer to agricultural produce, I would remind the House that the right hon. Gentleman himself has an Amendment on the Paper to extend the inquiry of this committee to other articles of food. That enlarges the scope enormously, and makes it a very serious question to consider. We are absolutely agreed there should be some committee set up to deal with standards of purity, but a body composed of officials from Somerset House would not satisfy the trade of the country. If the right hon. Gentleman will give an assurance that it shall be a committee which will thoroughly go into the question, and not be confined or constrained, I do not think it matters very much who controls it, whether it be Somerset House, the Local Government Board, or the Board of Agriculture.
§ MR. LOWLES (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I hope the House will reject the proposed clause. To my mind we have the most complete safeguards in the analysts at Somerset House, and no committee, however constituted, would be so satisfactory. There has been no charge made against the technical knowledge, impartiality, or skill of those officials; their decisions are perfectly impartial, the officials are men of the highest possible practical skill, and I venture to say that the Bill as it stands will provide the greatest possible safeguards both for the public and for the retail dealer. There is a danger that local analysts may be subject to local prejudice, being paid by the local authority, and it would be a pity to disturb an arrangement by which the disputed samples must be referred to the analyst at Somerset House by calling in a great number of outside experts, the only result of which would be to get a number of contradictory opinions. I hope the Government will as far as possible leave the decision of these vexed questions in the hands of those experts whose training, knowledge, and admitted impartiality have inspired confidence throughout the length and breadth of the country.
§ MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)
The power which Clause 4 propose to confer upon the Boated of Agriculture is a very large one. It is suggested that they should have power to set up these standards after such inquiry as they think fit, while the names of the gentlemen who are to compose the committee are not giver; but I imagine it is intended that they should be experts who will command the confidence of the public. The right hon. Gentleman who opposed this Amendment has stated that the Government could not agree to the appointment of any committee which would be independent of the control of the Government. But that is not the proposition before the House. As I understand, my hon. friend moves that the Local Government Board shall appoint a committee of experts. If the Local Government Board appoint them it is perfectly clear that those experts would not be outside the control of the Government for the time being. But there is a much more important fact. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he could not accept the standards which might be fixed by gentlemen whose opinions might vary very much. But in point of fact at present we have no standard with regard to the purity of food. Surely if you are going to pass an Act which will impose penalties of a very serious character upon people who supply the mass of the nation with their food articles, it is a desirable thing that those people should at least have some standard of purity before their eyes by means of which they may know whether they are complying with the law or offending against it. That is the whole gist of the Amendment, and I must say it is certainly drawing very largely upon the confidence of this House for the right hon. Gentleman to ask us to give to the Board of Agriculture—which, no doubt, is a very respectable body—such enormous power as to settle by mere reference which will satisfy them standards of purity in respect of every article of food that may be affected throughout the whole of the country. There is much more to be said in favour of this clause as against that of the Government——
§ * MR. SPEAKER
It would not be in order to discuss that clause, but I understand the contention to be that this is an alternative proposal to Clause 4.
§ MR. HEDDERWICK
So I understand it. My remarks were perfectly applicable to the proposal before the House, and gather additional force when one refers to Clause 4, to which, indeed, the whole Amendment has special reference.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
It is extremely probable that if the committee is appointed by the Board of Agriculture it will consist of many of the very persons who would compose the committee suggested by the proposed new clause.
MR. RADCLIFFE, COOKE
It is not the duty of these officials to establish standards; their duty is to see whether the article is or is not adulterated, and in what way it is adulterated. It is clear there must be some authority to undertake the duty of setting up standards. So far as I understand the right hon. Gentleman, that authority will be constituted by the Board of Agriculture, and that is an arrangement which I think will work satisfactorily.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
It seems to me there are two points raised by the motion of the hon. Baronet. His proposal and that of the right hon. Gentleman agree that there ought to be some kind of standard set up. The hon. Baronet proposes a definite standard fixed by a definite body, whereas it is proposed in the Bill to determine not a standard of purity but a standard of deficiency. The hon. Baronet proposes that the standard should be fixed by the Local Government Board, and we have therefore got to consider first whether it could be better done by that Board or by the Board of Agriculture. I, like the hon. Baronet, am in favour of the Local Government Board, and I am for com- 1092 plete standards. I am glad that by a recent decision of the Courts the analyst must now show not only the percentage of water in milk but also the fatty matter and the ordinary solids it contains. The result will be, however, as has happened on several occasions, that Somerset House will have one standard, and the local analyst another, for water, solids, and fatty matter, and a third analyst selected by the accused person may have a third standard altogether. Therefore we have got competing standards as well as competing analysts. The question we, have to decide now is what Department ought to have charge of analyses in connection with this Act. The inspection and control will still remain with the Local Government Board, and the proper functionary is, therefore, the President of the Local Government Board. For is not the work given by Parliament to the local authorities responsible to that Board? Again, shall we take standards for every class of food, or only for the four articles mentioned in the Bill? I think we ought to have a standard for every class of food, and that we ought to determine the amount of starch to be allowed in cocoa, as well as the quantity of water to be allowed in milk. We ought also to protect drugs in the same way, because oftentimes adulterated drugs cause a great number of premature deaths. What we have to do is to appoint a proper body to determine a standard for every form of food, and when any question comes before a magistrate he can refer to the particular standard concerned. If the proposal of the hon. Baronet is carried, we shall have a board composed of the chief men in special departments whose opinion is worth having, instead of a board advised by whom we do not know—perhaps even by Somerset House. But these questions ought to be treated from a physiological and pathological standpoint, of which the analysts at Somerset House know nothing. They should not be determined by a mere board of chemists, but by a. board which knows the physiological effect of what it is doing. Can Somerset House determine whether a particular food is injurious or not? At the present moment, some medical men will tell you that boracic acid is not more injurious than common salt. Others will tell you that it is dangerous for children, and that under certain conditions it ought not to 1093 be used, and that it has a different pathological action in childhood and old age. Are all these questions to be decided by the President of the Board of Agriculture, advised by someone we know nothing about? On the other hand, the hon. Baronet proposes that the board should consist of the leading authorities in special departments. We have got to determine whether these standards shall, be established by men competent to do so, and who possess the confidence of the public, or by an unknown departmental committee. We think in this Bill you are going to propitiate the agricultural interests by something in the nature of protection. You are going to reserve the fixing of standards in these four things to the Minister of Agriculture. I think that is a great mistake. The control of the Food and Drugs Act will remain in the future, as in the past, with the local bodies acting under the direction of the Local Government Board, and if the Bill remains as it is, you will in future have these local authorities taking, as regards these four articles of food, their orders from the Board of Agriculture,, and their orders with regard to every other article of food from the Local Government Board. I hope the House will support the hon. Baronet. If his motion is carried, we shall have standards set up by competent men who obtained their positions by virtue of their abilities, and have not been appointed from different motives altogether. I shall strongly support the motion of the hon. Baronet. I entirely disagree with the inadequate compromise in Clause 4, and, as all prosecutions are carried out by the officers of the local authorities who are responsible to the Local Government Board, I think that that Board should, control this matter.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. T. W. RUSSELL,) Tyrone, S.
What are the main articles that affect the public health? First of all, milk—that is the most important; and, secondly, butter. These are the two articles which are constantly before the courts—more especially milk, though very frequently the question of water in butter arises. These two articles affect the Board of Agriculture more than the Local Government Board. In fact, the Local Government Board has nothing to do with them, and surely the Board of 1094 Agriculture is the proper body to set up standards affecting them. Sometimes a prosecution takes place affecting mustard, ginger, or cocoa, and these questions are more germane to the Local Government Board than to the Board of Agriculture, and it is proposed to retain them with the Local Government Board. But as regards milk and butter, the Board of Agriculture is constantly dealing with them, and is much better fitted to have control of the committee fixing their standards. It has been said that the inspectors of the local authorities are under the Local Government Board, but they arc also under the Board of Agriculture in some matters, notably the Diseases of Animals Act. I think the Amendment seeks to put new duties on the Local Government Board which it ought not to be asked to undertake, as it has quite sufficient work as it is.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
It is perfectly clear that there is no difference between the two sides of the House as to the end they wish to achieve. The President of the Board of Agriculture has one method of attaining that end, and the hon. Baronet has another. But it is agreed that ultimately skilled advice must be taken, and as a matter of fact some skilled advice is taken under each method. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is quite fair to the Amendment. The essential difference between the two sides of the House is that, whereas the right hon. Gentleman and the Government think that this matter should be placed under the Board of Agriculture, we would prefer the Local Government Board, because, of course, that is the gist of the clause which the hon. Baronet proposes. The right hon. Gentleman said that this committee would be largely beyond the control of Government Departments, but I do not think that is a fair criticism, because the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture will nominate one member each, and the Board of Trade two members, so that Government Departments would largely control the constitution of the committee. In my humble opinion, the Board of Agriculture should not have charge of this matter. Not only are the Government throwing over the principle which governed previous Adulteration Acts, but they are throwing over also their own clause in the Bill, which states 1095 that "the Local Government Board may, in relation to any matter appearing to affect the general interests of the consumer, direct," &c. What we are dealing with in this Bill is the general interest of the consumer. That is the object of this legislation. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board has said that this matter of standards would be more germane to the Board of Agriculture, because the articles chiefly dealt with will be milk and butter. That is all very well, but as a matter of fact the importance of milk as an article of food is greater to the consumer than the agriculturist, and the sanction for all this kind of legislation is that we are bound to take precautions to prevent anything being done which would he injurious to the health of the consumer. This is not only the principle which has governed past legislation, but it has also been embodied in the Bill of the Government. No matter what precautions we may take, by the very fact of entrusting the administration of the Act in this particular to a Department which goes by the name of Board of Agriculture, we inevitably incur a very grave and serious risk that the interests of agriculture will be put more prominently forward than the interests of the consumer. It would be far more intelligible if the Government accepted the principle of past legislation, and put this matter under the control of the Local Government Board.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, South)
It is impossible to regard this motion as an alternative to the proposal of the Government contained in Clause 4. The substantial difference between the two is that the hon. Baronet desires to retain this matter in the control of the Local Government Board, whereas the Government desire to hand it over to the Board of Agriculture. In the next place, the new clause would make the committee which is to regulate these standards—which would not be absolute but approximate standards—a much more influential and important body than any that could be appointed by the President of the Board of Agriculture. The proposal of my hon. friend proceeds on the lines of the Report of the Committee which examined this matter with great care, and which reported strongly in favour of an influential committee of this kind. It is true that it did not pro- 1096 pose to make it a statutory committee in quite the same sense as the new clause would make it, but that is a matter on which amendment is possible if the clause is read a second time. We come to the question then whether the plan of the hon. Baronet is not a better plan than that of the Government. A primâ facie case has clearly been made out for the Local Government Board, because it is in possession of the field, not so much in connection with these four particular articles, but with respect to all matters respecting public health which ought to be worked out by the local authorities now supervised by the Local. Government Board. The Local Government Board has charge of the health of the people, and has a scientific and competent staff, and therefore legislation and administration as far as it has gone is favourable to the proposition that the Local Government Board should have control in this matter. What is the answer made by the Government? It is that the Board of Agriculture is concerned with dairying; that dairying produces milk and butter; and that therefore the Board of Agriculture is the proper body to fix standards. But surely that rests on the patent fallacy that the man who makes milk and butter is the man who knows best what milk and butter ought to be. The fixing of standard is not a matter for the dairyman. It is a very difficult matter of science, which requires the utmost skill and experience on the part of practical analysts and of those who have devoted their whole lives to the study of chemistry. The Board of Agriculture appears to me to be a very ambitious body. It looks out for work as if it had not enough work to do. I would suggest that it has a good deal of work to do, in its own proper sphere, in endeavouring to induce the farmers of this country to adopt better methods and to bring their dairying up to the Continental level. For it to undertake this branch of chemistry is, however, to enter into a new field altogether unsuited to it, and without its having any proper staff. That part of the answer of the Government therefore entirely falls to the ground, and I am obliged to conclude that the Local Government Board, possessing as it does scientific knowledge and authority over the local authorities, is much more qualified to carry out this duty than the Board of Agriculture. I do not say that the new clause cannot be improved, and 1097 I have no doubt we shall be able to improve it if it is read a second time; but on the main question I have no doubt that the Local Government Board is the proper authority.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITELEY
The right hon. Gentleman has an Amendment down to Clause 4 which materially extends it, and in a manner not contemplated by the Committee upstairs.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITELEY
The wisest course would be to reject the new clause of the bon. Baronet, with a view also to the rejection of the extension of the clause which the right hon. Gentleman has put down. I do not think anyone will object to Clause 4 as it stands. I am quite willing to entrust the appointment of a committee to deal with standards to the Board of Agriculture, but we should not entrust the Board of Agriculture with power to appoint a committee enjoying a roving commission to deal with all food products. Let the Board of Agriculture limit itself to dealing with agricultural products in which it has expert knowledge. When, however, we come to deal with all food products, then I quite agree with the hon. Baronet, that it is more desirable that these matters should be in the hands of the Local Government Board and in the hands of scientists to be appointed by that Board. I venture to suggest that under the circumstances the clause might be withdrawn.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
This Bill is, or ought to be, a Bill to protect the consumer against adulteration. We have nothing to do whether or not it is injurious to the agricultural interest. This question has descended into a contest between the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture. Clause 4 deals with milk, cream, butter, and cheese. Now, what we want the Board of Agriculture for is, in order to determine what is milk, cream, butter, or cheese. Personally, I should prefer the President of the Board of Agriculture to choose my milk, cream, butter, and cheese, rather than the President of 1098 the Local Government Board. But is there any difficulty in saying what is genuine milk? As I understand it, genuine milk is milk that comes from the cow. You do not require analysts from Somerset House, or an Agricultural Committee, to tell you what milk is. Milk from one animal may be weaker than milk from another; but both are genuine milk, and so far as I know there has been no difficulty in deciding what is milk or what is butter. The other day I had the pleasure of cross-examining Dr. Stevenson from Somerset House in a County Council case, and he said he would not mind swearing that there was a certain proportion of boracic acid in a certain sample of butter, and that he would not object to eating it That is all very well, but the question is whether boracic acid is injurious to children, and not whether it can be stomached by any great man from Somerset House. If you buy a pound of butter, you buy sixteen ounces of what you understand to be butter. You do not buy fourteen or fifteen ounces of butter, and the other one or two ounces of boracic acid. I think our foods at the present moment are in the hands of the policeman. The policeman is appointed by the local authority, and the local authority is under the Local Government Board. What we have to do is to see that there are facilities for prosecuting those who sell adulterated food. And what is adulterated food is perfectly easy to ascertain at the present moment. On the whole I think that the Local Government Board is better able to deal with the matter than the Board of Agriculture.
§ * MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
I cannot agree that it is so very easy to say whether these articles are adulterated or not. My experience, I confess, has been that it is almost impossible to obtain a conviction under the Foods and Drugs Act of 1875, and subsequent Acts. Different standards of purity are put forward. In some cases, for instance, the authorities were satisfied that 17 per cent. of water in milk was not adulteration, and in other cases they said that milk with 22 per cent. of water was very good milk. It is not so easy to decide genuine milk from milk which has been described by the poet as "sky blue." If the question goes to a Division I shall vote with the hon. Baronet the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow. It is, in my 1099 opinion, quite immaterial whether the nomination of a Standing Committee should rest with the Local Government Board or the Board of Agriculture. Both are excellent, but primâ, facie neither of them is the best judge as to what the fixed standard should be. I have always understood that there is a great distinction between agriculture and mere dairying; and therefore the argument put forward by one hon. and learned Member seems to me to completely subvert the etymology and the ordinary meaning of words. Why the Board of Agriculture should know more of the quality of milk and butter than the Local Government Board I cannot understand. I wish to state the reason why I prefer the clause of the hon. Member for Bridgeton to that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The gist of the clause is, that there should be a fixed standard, and that the standard should be settled by a body in whom the public would have confidence—a standard which would be binding on every tribunal, and which no faddist could get out of. Now, such a standard is set up by the clause in question, because the Standing Committee mentioned in the clause is selected by scientific bodies in whom the public have the greatest confidence, such as the General Medical Council, the Institute of Chemistry, the Society of Public Analysts, and the Pharmaceutical Society. Each of these should name a representative, and the Local Government Board shall, if it think fit, appoint such nominee to be a member of the Standing Committee of Reference on Food Standards. Then the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture will nominate one representative each, and the Board of Trade two. There are thus a great variety of appointing bodies, and all the men selected
§ will be men of the greatest scientific knowledge and will all be independent of each other. If there is such a thing as infallibility, a Committee so composed would have it. It is quite immaterial whether such a Standing Committee should be under the Board of Agriculture or under the Local Government Board; the Committee itself is the thing. As under the existing law the Local Government Board has the administration of the present Adulteration Acts, the onus lies on the right hon. Gentleman opposite to show why the administration of the new Act should be taken out of the hands of the Local Government Board, and transferred to the Board of Agriculture.
§ MR. KILBRIDE
I was somewhat disappointed that the Secretary to the Local Government Board gave the House very little light as to what was meant by Clause 4. That clause is extremely indefinite. Under the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bridgeton, we know exactly the composition of the body to be set up to determine the standard; but under the Bill as it stands, neither the Secretary to the Local Government Board nor the President of the Board of Agriculture has given us the slightest idea as to what they are going to do. The fullest extent to which they have gone is that they say they will consult with experts and practical men in the trade. On account of that indefiniteness I shall be compelled to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bridgeton.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 84; Noes, 194. (Division List, No. 274.)1103
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Dalziel, James Henry||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.|
|Asher, Alexander||Donelan, Captain A.||Holland, W. H. (York, W.R.)|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Doogan, P. C.||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Duckworth, James||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.|
|Billson, Alfred||Emmott, Alfred||Joicey, Sir dames|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Evershed, Sydney||Kilbride, Denis|
|Burt, Thomas||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Kinloch, Sir J. George Smyth|
|Caldwell, James||Flynn, James Christopher||Kitson, Sir James|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lambert, George|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. J.||Langley, Batty|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)|
|Colville, John||Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||Leng, Sir John|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Lough, Thomas||Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs SW)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macaleese, Daniel||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Ure, Alexander|
|M'Crae, George||Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.)||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Maddison, Fred.||Rickett, J. Compton||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Robson, William Snowdon||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Morris, Samuel||Schwann, Charles E.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.||Sir Charles Cameron and|
|Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Strachey, Edward||Mr. Hedderwick.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lowles, John|
|Arrol, Sir William||Flower, Ernest||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Bagot, Capt. Joseeline FitzRoy||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fry, Lewis||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Galloway, William Johnson||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Garfit, William||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gedge, Sydney||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Giles, Charles Tyrell||M'Killop, James|
|Beach, Rt Hn Sir M. H.-(Bristol)||Gilliat, John Saunders||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Middlemore, John T.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas.J.|
|Bethell, Commander||Gordon, Hon John Edward||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Bill, Charles||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Milton, Viscount|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goschen Rt Hn G. J (St.George's||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Monk, Charles James|
|Brassey, Albert||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Graham, Henry Robert||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Green, Watford D. (Wed'bury||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Burns, John||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Morton, Arthur H.A.(Deptford|
|Carlile, William Walter||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Mount, William George|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gretton, John||Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham (Bute|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Gull, Sir Cameron||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Myers, William Henry|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. (Bir.||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hardy, Laurence||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Palmer, G. Wm. (Reading)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Helder, Augustus||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Henderson, Alexander||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
|Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Percy, Earl|
|Colston, Charles E. H. Athole||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Hobhouse, Henry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Howard, Joseph||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Round, James|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans.)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lafone, Alfred||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Doughty, George||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.)|
|Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Lees. Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Leighton, Stanley||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset||Smith, Hon. W. F. D). (Strand)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Llewelyn Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Finch, George H.||Lockwood, Lt.-Co). A. R.||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Leder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Long, Col. Charles W (Evesham||Steadman, William Charles|
|Fitz Gerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l)||Stock, James Henry|
|Strauss, Arthur||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Stuart, James (Shoreditch)||Whiteley, George (Stockport)||Wyndham, George|
|Sutherland, Sir Thomas||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Thorburn, Walter||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Thornton, Percy M.||Williams, J. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Tollemache, Henry James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.||Sir. William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Valentia, Viscount||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
§ MR. KEARLEY
The object of the new clause standing in my name is to give to inspectors the power to visit the premises of manufacturers and various places where food products may be adulterated, such as stores, factories, quays, ships, and so on. So far as we have gone, I do not think there are sufficient powers of inspection in the Bill. Most useful provisions have been introduced into the Bill which will give the Board of Agriculture power for the inspection of foods and drugs during manufacture. We have also gone a step forward in the direction of detecting those who are pre-eminently guilty of fraud in sale. There is an intermediate stage which I propose to cover by my new clause. When goods are in the possession of manufacturers, or merchants, or are in transit by ship or rail, or are stored in the city, there is no power whatever of inspecting them under the present law. I remember some years ago a parcel of ginger which hail been exhausted—that is, the extract had been made from it, and only the residuum was left—was offered for public sale as genuine ginger. It was a matter of notoriety among the brokers in Mincing Lane, but there was no power to confiscate these goods, or to bring forward a prosecution against the sellers. I believe that the bulk of the adulteration takes place at the retail businesses, but there is no use shutting our eyes to the fact that there are cases where the manufacturer or the merchant sends out adulterated goods for which he does not suffer the penalty of the law. He is perfectly confident that, when the goods have once left his possession, he will never be called to account. Under Sub-section (b) of this new clause of mine, I propose that the inspector shall have power to purchase, seize, or procure samples of any food or drugs at the time of delivery, or at any railway station or other place during transit, or upon the premises of or elsewhere in the possession of any person for the purpose of carriage. These powers already apply to milk and margarine, and I think it would be 1104 desirable, when we are legislating upon this question, that we should introduce powers into this Bill for inspectors to take samples of goods during transit. It has been suggested that the retailer who takes goods about the country in his cart is perfectly safe, and consequently is not very particular whether the goods be carries about are pure or impure. This clause will apply to goods distributed in this way. I may say that I have not the faintest desire, in introducing this clause, to harass retailers in any way, but I believe this will be a most useful provision. The Salford and Manchester authorities, who have done more than any others to stamp out milk adulteration, have found this power a most valuable weapon in their hands, and it has been so thoroughly beneficial in that respect that I cannot see what objection the right hon. Gentleman can have to extend the powers as I seek to do by the clause I propose.
New clause:—Any inspector appointed by any local authority, or by the Local Government Board, under this Act, shall have power—(a) at all reasonable times to enter any public or private sale-room occupied or used by merchants, brokers, wholesale dealers, or other persons, and to any public or private warehouse, factory, store, quay, ship, or barge where food or drugs are offered for sale or deposited for the purpose of sale or carriage, and to purchase, seize, or procure samples of any such food or drugs; (b) to purchase, seize, or procure samples of any food or drugs at the t'me, of delivery, or at any railway station or other place during transit, or upon the premises of or elsewhere in the possession of any person for the purpose of carriage."—(Mr. Kearley.)
§ brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press the clause to a Division. The House has rejected the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Bridgeton, that inspectors should have power to enter premises 1105 where goods are sold by wholesale, and purchase samples for analysis, and the present proposal goes even farther, for it proposes to issue letters of marque to the inspector "to purchase, seize, or procure." The whole clause is high-handed and too arbitrary in its terms, however much we may sympathise with the objects of the hon. Member.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I have listened with some surprise to the line taken by the learned Solicitor - General ill the remarks he has just made. He has suggested that the clause moved by the hon. Member for Devonport, who knows a great deal about this question, and to whom the House is indebted for much patient and persistent work on the Grand Committee, is an arbitrary one. I support the Amendment for this reason, and I will give two illustrations. The other day a celebrated grocer—or rather half-grocer and half-philanthropist—had seized upon his premises 640 tubs of putrid fruit, and the Vestry of Bermondsey took away thirteen dust carts full of rotten strawberries, raspberries, and other things. The sanitary authority did that to prevent a sanitary nuisance, and it seems to me that what the sanitary authority did to prevent a nuisance the Board of Agriculture ought to do to protect food and to prevent adulteration. Well, does the learned Solicitor-General contend that inspectors under the Food and Drugs Act ought not to have the power to inspect food at any reasonable or unreasonable time, so as to prevent the public being defrauded in this way by adulterated food? Let us take another instance. In the very same sanitary district, some three or four months ago, the same vestry, to prevent a nuisance, seized many hundred-weights of putrid livers and kidneys that were going to be manufactured into pâte de foic gras. I am extremely interested in preventing the upper classes from being contaminated by an impure food supply, and I therefore hold that an inspector under this Act should have the power to go into a factory at Bermondsey and prevent the consumer being defrauded by the sale of impure food. If the learned Solicitor-General says it is too high-handed a proceeding for an inspector to be allowed to go into a factory where butter is being mixed with margarine, or vice versa, I can only say that he will never stop the 1106 sale of adulterated or of impure food until the inspector has the widest and most drastic power of going to the source of adulteration, and of sending the manufacturer in very serious cases to prison. I would appeal to the Solicitor-General to say that this adulteration has reached such a scandalous stage in London that the time has arrived when it should be stopped. I can give the House an instance of the extent to which it has gone. I hold in my hand the quarterly report of the Vestry of Battersea, and these are. some instances of the extent to which butter is adulterated with margarine:—"A had 96 per cent. of margarine; B, 95; C, 88; B, 87; E, 83; and E, 77," etc. I submit that it is not unreasonable for the House of Commons to enact that where this kind of thing is suspected the inspector, at all hours of the day and night, should be able to go and prevent it, or at least attempt to find it out. The Solicitor-General tells us that it is a high handed proceeding. It is the kind of high-handed proceeding which is wanted to stop adulteration, and I believe that if stiff penalties were imposed and inspection at any time held in terrorem over the heads of the miscreants the dangers of their conniving at adulteration and the manufacture of improper foods would be very largely prevented.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
I think the hon. Member for Battersea is quite right in saying that there is a good reason for inspecting the margarine factories. But I wish to point out to the House that there is already a provision enabling any officer of the Board of Agriculture to enter a margarine factory at all reasonable times, inspect the process of manufacture and take samples. Surely that is a much better provision than one that would give power to a local inspector, and the ordinary trader would much prefer the visits of an inspector of a Government Department, like the Board of Agriculture, to those of a local inspector.
§ MR. HEDDERWICK
I think the hon. Member who has just addressed the House takes an exaggerated view of the provision to which he has alluded, because, in point of fact, the inspector of the Board of Agriculture only makes a visit when it is rendered necessary by the default of the local authorities. (Minis- 1107 terial cries of "No.") Even assuming that I am wrong in that respect, what we want is not only the inspection of margarine factories or small shops, but inspection everywhere where goods are sold, whether by retail or wholesale. But have the Government really at heart the prevention of adulteration? If so, I cannot understand why they should decline to accept this Amendment. If their object is only to protect certain articles of agricultural produce, then I can understand their refusal to accept this Amendment. But if they really have at heart a desire to protect the consumer against adulteration, then I wholly fail to understand why they should refuse to give a properly appointed inspector power to inspect articles anywhere. I confess that the reply of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General took me by surprise, and I must say that I think he must have been carried away by that sense of humour for which he is so well known to the House, because he compared the powers which it is proposed to give to the inspector under this clause to "letters of marque." So far as I can understand, he wishes to lead the House to believe that this was an insidious proposal which would practically mean the ruin of trade. Upon what does he found so remarkable a statement? Apparently upon the words "to purchase, seize, or procure." Nobody knows better than the hon. and learned Solicitor-General that these are not words which have been created by my hon. friend, but they are statutory words already in use. There is, therefore, no invalidity in the introduction of these words into the clause.
§ * MR. DUCKWORTH
was understood to say that dealers could serve a mixture of margarine and butter and deliver it to hotels and restaurants, companies, institutions, and large families, and there were no means of detecting the fraud.
§ * MR. PLATT-HIGGINS (Salford, N.)
I rise to support this Amendment, but for a different reason to those already advanced. There is an important association in my borough which complains, with a great deal of justice, that while local inspectors have power to take samples of milk, they have no power to go to the railway station where the milk is delivered by the farmer and take samples in order to test its condition 1108 before it comes into the milk-seller's possession. I think it is only just that the milk of the farmer should be tested just as much as the milk of the retailer, and on that account I shall support the Amendment because it would give that power.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)
said he could not support the Amendment, because it appeared to him to be one of extreme generality, and one which might be used in a most oppressive way in regard to the trade of the country. He had noticed that nearly every illustration of a concrete kind that had been used that night had had some reference to either margarine, butter, or milk—in other words, to those very articles of food which, according to the original conception of the Bill, came under Part I. But this new clause, if it passed into law, would apply not only to those agricultural products, but to all kinds of articles of food. When the Bill passed its Second Reading it appeared to him to be a fairly reasonable and intelligent measure. Part I. gave new powers in regard to agricultural produce, and might be described as an extension of the Margarine Act of 1887. Part II. dealt with a totally different subject. It dealt with the amendment and extension of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875. The first part dealt with three articles of food which were well described as agricultural produce, but Part II. of the Bill then dealt with articles of food which included perfectly harmless and perfectly well-known mixtures, which were habitually sold and stamped in this country. The Bill as amended in Committee upstairs had, however, altered this form considerably, and it would still further alter the original conception of the Bill if these Amendments were carried by the House. To pass the clause which his hon. friend had proposed was to confer upon persons appointed by the local authorities powers which, he believed, had never been conferred upon any person appointed by any local authority.
§ * MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE (Sussex, Horsham)
I merely rise to remind the Committee that at the present time it is possible to take samples of milk in course of delivery. I have considerable sympathy with the spirit and purport of this Amendment, but I feel unable to support 1109 it in the form in which it has been placed on the Paper.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
This is a clause submitted for Second Reading, and if some of the words appear to be too drastic they can be modified when the clause is in Committee. It is no objecttion to the clause to say that some of the words go too far; that is a matter for Committee. The question is, what is the general principle involved in the clause. It is that the Bill should hit the wholesale dealer. It is objected that the clause goes further than the Act of 1875, but as far as I can see the only additional word is "seize." I am not sure that that word would not be necessary if the principle be accepted, because when you go to a warehouse you are not going to a place where food is sold retail; you therefore may not be able to purchase it, and it may be necessary to seize some of the food which you see there. What is the objection to a course of this kind? Suppose a retail dealer is found to be selling some article of food which is adulterated, but the inspector is perfectly satisfied that he is innocent, and that the article is being sold exactly as it came from the wholesale dealer, why should it not be possible to obtain the name of the wholesale dealer and seize the article at the wholesale premises in London, or wherever it may be? You will never be able to prevent adulterated food being sold to poor consumers as long as you confine the prosecutions to retail dealers. If it be the object of the Government to stop the adulteration of food, and to stop the sale of such things as may be injurious to the public, they will have to go to the fountain-head and attack it in the hands of the manufacturer or the wholesale dealer. The truth is that manufacturers who sell adulterated articles to innocent retail dealers actually profit by the fraud. It pays them to defend proceedings against the retail dealer, to pay the fine, and to take the whole of the pecuniary responsibility upon themselves, and go on manufacturing and selling these adulterated articles. But if once you prosecute the wholesale dealer and his name is published the retail sellers will not buy from him any more. In principle the clause has already been adopted in the case of margarine, and the House ought not to flinch from carrying this clause even though it is necessary to amend it 1110 after Second Reading, if it is shown to the House, as I think it has been, that you cannot put a stop to adulteration until you hit the wholesale dealer.
§ DR. CLARK
The sole object of this proposal is to apply the same principle to the manufacturer and wholesale dealer as to the small seller. The hon. Member for East Somerset says that perhaps in London the inspectors will be gentlemen of position upon whom you can rely, but that in small country places there might be a great danger of the reverse being the case. As a matter of fact, the London County Council has no control whatever in the matter; that function belongs the Vestries, and instead of one general inspector there is an inspector for each of the various places. If you want to stop for the benefit of the public this system of adulteration, which defrauds and sometimes half poisons the people, the manufacturers and big wholesale houses ought equally with the retail dealers to come under the clauses of the Bill. In fact, you ought to protect the small retailer, who often unconsciously buys food or drugs which are adulterated, and through innocently buying a cheap, parcel is condemned in costs and penalties, while the persons who extracted the genuine material go free. Take milk, for instance. There is very little milk goes direct from the farmer to the dairyman. It is conveyed through a middleman, from whom the dairyman buys it, and it is very often between the middleman and the farmer that the addition of the water or skimmed milk is made. Therefore all ought equally to, come under the Act.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
I quite agree that it is desirable to have power to go to the sources of supply and all places of store; but when my hon. friend proposes this clause, which includes ships, barges, and railway stations, I think he is raising against his proposal very serious antagonism. The whole of the shipping industry and the whole of the railway companies would very seriously object to their business being liable to interruption at any moment—probably at very inopportune times—and the derangement of traffic, in which despatch is an essential element. I should not object to the clause if it were confined to sources of supply and places of store, but when you come to these places of transit you are stirring 1111 up a hornets' nest, and very strong opposition will arise from very influential interests in the country.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I cannot understand this mania in the House for special legislation with regard to margarine, which, in my opinion, is one of the most excellent articles of food we possess. Can anyone tell me what distinction can be made between regulating the manufacture of margarine and regulating the manufacture of cocoa or baking powder or anything else? If the right hon. Gentleman chooses to take the view that, having put into their own Bill——
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The Committee upstairs has inserted the words, and the right hon. Gentleman has accepted them. He asks us to carry the Bill so amended, and yet he absolutely tells us that although he is ready to admit that the manufactories of margarine ought to be inspected——
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
That is just what we want to do in respect to this other clause. What I want to point out is that he himself proposes that the Bill should be carried a stage further in this House. Does he propose to cut out this clause? No. He accepts it as part of the Bill; and surely it is illogical and absurd to say that the inspectors may inspect the manufactories of margarine, and yet may not inspect the manufactories of cocoa and such-like articles.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.)
The inspector proposed by the Government is to be an inspector appointed by the Board of Agriculture, which is a very different thing from being a local
§ inspector. I think this clause goes too far; it will create great hostility to the Bill, and therefore I shall vote against it.
§ MR. KILBRIDE
Local inspectors have large powers at present for the purpose of taking samples. A milk-cart can be stopped along the street for the purpose of a sample being taken, and I see no reason why the same principle should not be applied to other foods. In the interests of the suppression of fraud and in the interests of fair dealing, I would ask the House to give the greatest possible power to the food inspectors.
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL (Stockton)
The hon. Member for Battersea referred to a case where the local inspector had visited a retail grocer's and had seized margarine which was being sold as butter. This clause, however, would not touch that case, because if the margarine was sold to the retail dealer as margarine, there is no reason why the wholesale dealer should be punished, and the power to visit the wholesale stores would not prevent the retail grocer selling the margarine as butter. The existing law is powerful enough to prevent fraud of that kind. In Durham the existing law is so carried out that the percentage of adulteration is absolutely nil with regard to the sale of butter and other foods, the only adulteration within the last two years having been in regard to milk, spirits and drugs. That shows that where the local authorities put the existing law into operation no grocer or provision dealer can afford to be punished thereunder. If the local authorities will not do their duty, the conferring of further power will not do away with the evil; but if it is insisted that the local authorities should do their duty, the existing law is strong enough. The protection of the warranty will obviate the necessity of the inspectors going into these warehouses, and therefore I feel bound to vote against the clause.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 50; Noes, 177. (Division List, No. 275.)1115
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Burns, John|
|Asher, Alexander||Billson, Alfred||Caldwell, James|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Bryce, Et. Hon. James||Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Holland. W. H. (York. W. R.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.||Horniman, Frederick John||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Colville, John||Joicey, Sir James||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Davies, M.Vanghan-(Cardigan||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Doogan, P. C.||Kilbribe, Denis||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Duckworth, James||Labouchere, Henry||Richardson, J. (Durham, S. E.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Langley, Batty||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Evershed, Sydney||Lorne, Marquess of||Strachey, Edward|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. John||M'Crae, George||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Maddison, Fred.|
|Gurdon, Sir William B.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Morgan,W Pritchard (Merthyr||Mr. Kearley and Mr. Lambert.|
|Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fisher, William Hayes||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Maclean, James Mackenzie|
|Arrol, Sir William||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fry, Lewis||M'Killop, James|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Galloway, William Johnson||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Balcarres, Lord||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Milton. Viscount|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Gosehen, Rt Hn. G. J (St George's||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Gosehen, George J. (Sussex)||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monm'thsh.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Graham, Henry Robert||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Bethell, Commander||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Mount, William George|
|Bigwood, James||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Bill, Charles||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Green, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)|
|Bond, Edward||Gretton, John||Myers, William Henry|
|Brassey, Albert||Gull, Sir Cameron||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Carile William Walter||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson.||Hardy, Laurence||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Hobhouse, Henry||Percy, Earl|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J (Birm.)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Purvis, Robert|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.||Rankin, Sir James|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Charrington, Spencer||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Round, James|
|Colomb, Sir, John Charles R.||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Kitson, Sir James||Ryder, J. H. Dudley|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Lafone, Alfred||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Laurie, Lient.-General||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Lees, Sir E. (Birkenhead)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Curzon, Viscount||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Sinclair Capt. John (Forfarsh.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leng, sir John||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Llewellyn. E. H (Somerset)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Denny, Colonel||Llewelyn. Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.)||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lockwool, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)|
|Doughty, George||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stanley, Lord (Lancashire)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham||Stock, James Henry|
|Douglas, Charles M.(Lanarks)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Ducombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.||Lough, Thomas||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lowles, John||Trevelvan, Charles Philips|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed wd.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Valentia, Viscount|
|Finch, George H.||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-|
|Whiteley, George (Stockport)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Whiteley,H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Wilson,J. W. (Worcestersh.N.)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Whittaker, Thomas Palmer||Wortley, Rt. Hon.C.B. Stuart-||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||Wylie, Alexander||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Williams, John Carvell (Notts).||Wyndham, George|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Further consideration, as amended, deferred till To-morrow.