§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.
§ Another Amendment made.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I beg to move to omit Clause 7. It proposes to treat a perfectly legitimate industry in this country in a most stringent and oppressive manner which is altogether exceptional and unprecedented. There is a phrase in a letter published this morning from Esterhazy, which is singularly appropriate to the treatment which this Bill proposes to mete out to the margarine manufacturers of this country. He referred to "a bill of exchange drawn against the moral culpability of Dreyfus," and that is perfectly appropriate to the present proposal of the Government with reference to the margarine manufacturers. No proof has been alleged that the adulteration and misrepresentation which take place in connection with the sale of margarine are perpetrated by the manufacturers. This clause proposes nevertheless that the manufacturers shall be placed under altogether exceptional regulations, which are in many respects 1305 inquisitorial, and calculated to destroy an industry of great importance, and to drive it out of the country altogether. If this clause is passed will it be of any real use? The foreign manufacturer will be able to send butter adulterated with margarine in spite of every precaution you can take. The manufacture of margarine is a competing industry with that of butter, but butter manufacturers are not to be subjected to the same restrictions. The hon. Member for South Molton looks at me with an angry eye. He told us he represented an honest agricultural industry, and I have no doubt as far as his constituents are concerned any attempt at fraud would be out of the question. But all agricultural Members are not so fortunate in their constituents, and I venture to say that among butter manufacturers and dairy farmers in other parts of the country advantage will be taken of the non-inspection of butter factories as compared with the stringent inspection of margarine factories to transfer the lucrative trade of butter mixed with margarine to another quarter. There is no proof whatever that adulteration takes place in the margarine factories. Everything points to exactly the contrary. The people who buy margarine from the manufacturers know what they are about. They will not give butter prices for margarine. They know exactly the value of the different brands, and on their part I have never heard even a whisper of an allegation of any fraudulent adulteration taking place in these factories. If that be the case, why should you expose these manufacturers to inquisitorial inquiries and exceptional restrictions from which their foreign competitors are free? You do not propose to impose them on their home competitors in the butter trade, and the result will be that you will he fostering an unfair competition, and will be crushing out a very important and valuable industry. For these reasons it appears to me that this clause should be omitted from the Bill. Foreign manufacturers of margarine will eagerly welcome it, but home manufacturers protest against it most vigorously as an imputation on their honesty, and, as a matter of fact, it is absolutely uncalled for.
In page 4, line 29, to leave out Clause 7."—(Sir Charles Cameron.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'and,' in line 30, stand part of the Bill."
§ * THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
The hon. Baronet recommends the omission of this clause on two grounds. One is, that it will expose margarine manufacturers to a very unfair and inquisitorial system of inspection. That may he the view of the hon. Baronet himself, but it is not the view of the recognised association which exists for the purpose of maintaining the rights of margarine manufacturers. I am able to quote from a letter from the Margarine Defence Association which considered this clause in the original Bill which was introduced in a previous Session. The letter, which is addressed to the Local Government Board, the President of which Department had charge of the Measure, states:—With reference to the proposed registration of margarine manufacturers, the Association believes that a law to that effect would prove effective in the suppression of fraud.They do not suggest that this inspection would be inquisitorial or injurious to their trade, and I confess I have great difficulty in understanding why they should advance a view of that kind. If it is to be assumed, as I think it is, that they conduct their business in an honest manner they have nothing whatever to fear from Government inspection. If, on the other hand, they are guilty of practices which would bring them within the law, I think a great deal is to he said for the view repeatedly advanced by hon. Gentlemen opposite in support of an Amendment which I was unable to accept, that we should not devote all our energies to the detection of fraud on the part of the retailer, but that we should where possible get at the wholesale dealer, who has been described by the hon. Member for Dundee as "the great rogue" in this matter. I do not adopt the hon. Member's language, but if there is a comparison in roguery, and if the view of the hon. Baronet be adopted, then the greater rogue would be allowed to escape. I think there is abundant justification for making these factories subject to proper inspection, and, if their business is carried on according to law, they will have nothing whatever to 1307 fear; on the contrary, the fact that the public will know that the premises arc open to inspection by a Government Department will give them a sort of certificate, which will be the best advertisement they can possibly desire. I submit to the House that there is no justification whatever on the grounds proposed by the hon. Baronet or on any other grounds for rejecting this clause. As is perfectly well known, the power given by the clause will be used by the Government Department in a fair and legitimate manner, from which the persons carrying on the industry will have nothing to fear.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I have not been convinced by anything the right hon. Gentleman has said as to the necessity for this clause. In the past, inspection and restriction of this kind have been limited to dangerous trades, such as the manufacture of gunpowder and dynamite, or to industries where inspection was necessary for excise purposes. The manufacture of margarine is riot a dangerous trade. Margarine is an ordinary wholesome food, and you are now going to apply to its manufacture principles which have been applied hitherto only to the manufacture of dangerous substances. Why should not ordinary factory inspection be sufficient, as in the case of butter factories? Why should margarine manufacturers be placed at a disadvantage as compared with butter manufacturers? There is just as much reason for inspection in the one case as in the other, except so far as it would affect British agriculture. I can understand the inspection of lodging-houses on grounds of public health, but none of these grounds are applicable to margarine factories. You are giving the right to inspect every process of manufacture, although it is well known that some of these processes are secret, and it is possible that an inspector may get information under this clause which he could sell to a rival manufacturer. The only justification that can be urged is that there is fraud in selling margarine for butter; but under the Margarine Act, if a man sells butter with 1 per cent. of margarine he commits an offence. The law at present is quite stringent enough. This Bill is a sop to the farmers to make them think they are getting something. It will not, however, affect the consumption of margarine or the price of butter, although margarine 1308 manufacturers may be fined £20 or £50 because something in their factories is not quite in accordance with the provisions of this clause. The Government are determined to carry the clause, but if the hon. Baronet divides against it I will support him.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
My chief objection to this clause is that without any proved or even alleged necessity it is introduced for the harassment of an important industry. On behalf of the manufacturers generally there is a feeling that inspection is being carried to an altogether unnecessary extent, and that there is danger of being inspected to death. The offences provided under this clause are failing to keep a register or to keep it posted up, or to produce it when required by an officer of the Board, or to make a false entry, or to omit to enter something which ought to have been entered. This is a slur on the manufacturers that they have done nothing to warrant or justify. I object altogether to their being singled out in this way for this special inspection, and for this new offence being created. I adhere to the opinion that it is desirable to get at the wholesale rogue, if such a rogue exists; but it has not been shown that our home manufacturers of margarine are such rogues, and on their behalf I protest against this clause.
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL (Stockton)
I think there ought to be a compromise in this matter. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that in the case of manufactories there ought to be an inspector with the power of inspecting the premises, and also of inspecting the articles put into the margarine. But I do think that the right hon. Gentleman is introducing an evil system into the trade of the country in giving power to an inspector to go into the premises of wholesale dealers and pry into their business.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, South)
I entertain considerable doubt as to the expediency of this clause. It is a new and very doubtful departure in our legislation. The principles on which inspection has been conducted hitherto do not apply to a case of this kind. The principles of inspection of manufactures hitherto sanctioned by legislation are of three classes. 1309 There are the cases in which inspection is necessary where you want to levy an excise. Then there are the cases where public health is involved, and therefore the inspector goes into the premises in order to see that the persons employed therein have proper accommodation, and that the dangers to which they are exposed are minimised and reduced. And, third, there is the law regulating the manufacture of dynamite and other explosives, where public safety is involved. These are the only cases in which such inspection and such a register as is contemplated by this Bill are now required by legislation. There is only one of two grounds for the supervision of the manufacture of this article: either to prevent fraud—but for that there are ample provisions in other parts of the Bill—or to ensure the interest of agriculture, that is to say, to prevent competition; in other words, to do something more or less protective in the interest of the agricultural producer. That is a new and dangerous principle, and we should enter our protest against this kind of legislation.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir R. B. FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
I do not think that my right hon. friend has given sufficient reasons for striking out this clause. I would remind the House that in all the particular instances which the right hon. Gentleman gave of inspection being permissible it was where it was needed for the public good. Now, the manufacture of margarine may be a perfectly legitimate industry, and it is not interfered with by this Bill. But we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that a great deal of margarine is sold as butter, and it is a proper thing that, in the interest of the public consumer, a check should be put to such practices. I would call the attention of the House to what the scope of the clause is, and which I think the hon. Gentleman strangely misunderstood. It provides that the occupier of a manufactory of margarine, and every wholesale dealer in margarine, shall keep a register showing what is sent out from the manufactory or place of business, and this register will be open to the inspection of an officer of the Board of Agriculture. The object of that is clear: if you find a man who professes to deal in butter getting regular consignments of mar- 1310 garine, the inference is not very far off that he is selling margarine for butter. The whole object of the clause is to trace the article to the manufacturer. I protest most strongly against the right hon. Gentleman when he speaks of this as a Protectionist measure in the interest of agriculture. Surely, when an endeavour is made to check the sale of margarine for butter, it is not to be called Protection. Every man has a right to be protected in honest industry, and the public have a right to be protected against fraud. This is a Protectionist measure in that sense, but in no other.
§ MR. WALLACE (Perth)
How is it proposed to deal with the margarine manufactured and imported from abroad?
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
Provision is made in the first clause that margarine imported from abroad should be clearly marked.
§ MR. WALLACE
Why not apply the same principle in regard to the home manufactured margarine? If it were so plainly marked it could be traced to the manufacturer. I object to the clause because it extends the principle of inspection to the manufacture of that which the right hon. gentleman admits is a perfectly healthy food. I cannot see why inspection is necessary in the case of margarine unless it is pretended that there is something obnoxious in itself in margarine.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
I hope my hon. friend will divide on this clause. I regard it as an extremely inquisitorial and offensive provision, and I do not see why it should not be extended to the manufacture of almost any article of consumption which is produced in this country. I confess that I do not think the hon. and learned Solicitor-General gave any answer whatever to the argument of my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen. I do not see how the inspection of a manufactory of margarine, and enforcing the keeping of this register, can possibly enable you to reach the retailer who fraudulently sells margarine for butter to a customer. It seems to me that the whole object and tenor of this clause is to extinguish the manufacture of margarine altogether in this country. That would be very hard upon the labouring man and his family, 1311 who are very glad to get good margarine at 6d. per lb. instead of second-rate butter at 1s. 2d. per lb.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
It has been forgotten throughout the whole of this discussion that, while a very large portion of the margarine used in this country is imported from abroad, a large margarine manufacturing industry will no doubt grow up in this country if the demand for this article continues. We all share the Solicitor General's desire to encourage, as far as possible, honest and fair methods of dealing; but we are bound to look at the disadvantages of such legislation, and weigh them against the advantages. I maintain that this is a very harassing clause, and that it is open to the greatest possible objection. One portion of it, the second paragraph, was introduced against the wishes of the Government themselves, after the First Reading. If the premises where the margarine is kept are to be inspected, why not extend the inspection to butchers' shops to see where the foreign meat came from; and why not to bakers' shops to see whether the bread is baked from foreign flour or front home flour? It is said that the clause has been put forward in behalf of the consumer; but in my humble opinion, if the consumers had been consulted, this Bill would never have been brought forward at all. It is a veiled form of Protection.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
I agree that they oppose it, because they do not think it goes far enough. I think the House should look at the disadvantages of this harassing and vexatious interference with trade. If I were an enemy of the Government I would wish no better than that they should press this harassing and vexatious clause, hut I hope they will reconsider their attitude in regard to it.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
I have a difficulty in regard to this clause. What I want to know from the right 1312 hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is whether the officer of the Board of Agriculture who makes the inspection is to consider the information he receives or obtains is entirely confidential.
§ * MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
Several Members have got up and accused the Government of trying to introduce Protection into this country. I fail to see where the Protection comes in. I am a Free Trader myself, but if a Bill brought into the House of Commons is going to protect my class against unscrupulous and unjust dealers, wholesale and retail, and manufacturers of articles, I am going to support it, for that is Protection on the right lines. I should like to draw hon. Members' attention to the second line in this clause. Every wholesale dealer who purchases margarine manufactured in Holland, or anywhere on the Continent, has always had an eye on business, and he will take particular care that he purchases the right article, for he knows that if he does not he will be held responsible. It is said you are harassing trade by this Bill. There are thousands of working men who have saved a few pounds, and who take chandlers' shops, but they find themselves no better off than the mechanic because they are being harassed every day, while the grand culprit who sells wholesale is allowed to go scot-free. Any medical officer of health can go into a shop and purchase a sample, and the poor retail man is prosecuted, although he has nothing to do with the adulteration; he has not got the common sense to adulterate the article. The man who is to blame is the man who sells him the article, and that is the man we have got to go for—to strike a blow at the fountain-head.
§ MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthenshire, E.)
This Bill can hurt no honest dealer. He ought to know where the articles he sells come from. If a man got into the Bankruptcy Court the judge would be very much astonished if the bankrupt said he could not say where he got his goods 1313 from. I cannot see what possible objection there can be to an honest manufacturer allowing an inspector to go over his premises at any and at all times. I fail entirely to see any Protection in this clause. The result of the whole Bill will be that people will buy a good deal more margarine than now. I trust we shall
§ now go to a Division, and I shall support the clause.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 216; Noes, 61. (Division List, No. 283.)1315
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Drucker, A.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'1)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lowe, Francis William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Evershed, Sydney||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Baillie, J. E. B. (Inverness)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Man'r||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Finch, George H.||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||M'Crae, George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man.)||Fisher, William Hayes||M'Killop, James|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Fison, Frederick William||Maddison, Fred.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Malcolm, Ian|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Flower, Ernest||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)|
|Barry, Rt. Hon. A. H. S. (Hunts)||Flynn, James Christopher||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Fox. Dr. Joseph Francis||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Fry, Lewis||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Galloway, William Johnson||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Garfit, William||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. (Bris.)||Gedge, Sydney||Monk, Charles James|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)|
|Bill, Charles||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Birrell, Augustine||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morrison, Walter|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Morton, A. H. A (Deptford)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Myers, William Henry|
|Burns, John||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Carlile, William Walter||Greene,W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Gretton, John||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gull, Sir Cameron||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Cayzer, Sir C. William||Gunter, Colonel||Palmer, Sir Charles M. (Durham|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Rbt. Wm.||Percy, Earl|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Perks, Robert William|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Harwood, George||Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs S W|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Heaton, John Henniker||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Hedderwick, Thomas, C. H.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Helder, Augustus||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter||Price, Robert John|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hill, Arthur (Down, West)||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol)||Priestley, Sir W. Overend (Edin.|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead)||Purvis, Robert|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Randell, David|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Howard, Joseph||Ritchie, Rt Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Howell, William Tudor||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Runciman, Walter|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lafone, Alfred||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Denny, Colonel||Lambert, George||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Dillon, John||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Leighton, Stanley||Spencer, Ernest|
|Doogan, P. C.||Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Doughty, George||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Sw'ns'a)||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Stanley, Sir Henry M. (Lambeth||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Valentia, Viscount||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Steadman, William Charles||Wanklyn, James Leslie||Wylie, Alexander|
|Stephens, Henry Charles||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)||Wyndham, George|
|Stock, James Henry||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Strachey, Edward||Whiteley, H. (Aston-under-L.)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Young, S. (Cavan, East)|
|Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxfd Uni.)||Williams, Jos. Powell-(Birm.)||Younger, William|
|Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Thorburn, Walter||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Tomlinson, W. Edw. Murray||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Woods, Samuel|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Samuel, J. (Stockton on Tees)|
|Asher, Alexander||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.|
|Billson, Alfred||Hazell, Walter||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Souttar, Robinson|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Horniman, Frederick John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Burt, Thomas||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans.)||Ure, Alexander|
|Cawley, Frederick||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Wallace, Robert|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Weir, James Galloway|
|Colville, John||Kitson, Sir James||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.|
|Crombie, John William||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Davitt, Michael||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Duckworth, James||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Dunn, Sir William||Nussey, Thomas Willans||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Sir Charles Cameron and Sir John Leng.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.)|
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL,
in the absence of the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Kearley), moved an Amendment to omit the words, "and every wholesale dealer in such substances." He hoped to be able to show the House that that part of the clause was no protection whatever to the public. He agreed with the previous part of the clause that inspectors should have power to visit factories for the purpose of inspection, but the object of the Amendment was to leave out the provision that the inspector appointed by the Board of Agriculture should have the right to go into every wholesale place, and see whether every package was marked and included in the register of sales. This he regarded as most important, because under the clause as it stood the wholesale dealer would not only have to keep a day-book, but if a customer came in and wanted a 7lbs. packet of margarine he would be bound to enter it in his day-book, give a separate invoice, and keep an extract from his daybook in a separate register for the inspection of the inspector when the latter came 1316 round. That would afford no protection to the public, for this reason. An inspector might go into a factory and see that the margarine had been sent to the wholesale dealer; then he might go to the wholesale dealer and find that the margarine had been sold to the retailer, who distributed thousands of packages, perhaps, to hundreds of customers. But it would be impossible for the inspector to follow the margarine to the retailers, because before he could cover the ground the retailer would have sold it to the consumer, and thus it would be put out of the power of the inspector to inspect. He (Mr. Samuel) was a strong believer in putting down fraud, but he was strongly of opinion that the only way whereby they could put down fraud in the sale of margarine was by making the retail dealer responsible. There was no margarine imported into this country as butter; it was all marked as margarine and sent as such to the wholesale dealers. If there were fraud it was committed by the retailers, and the only way to put it down was to make the retailer feel that the inspector for the local 1317 authority could at any time walk into his shop and see whether or not he was carrying out the law under which he should mark margarine as such. The wholesale dealer had nothing whatever to do with that part of the matter; but the part of the clause now proposed to be omitted would harass to a great extent the wholesale dealers, by imposing upon them an enormous amount of work without any justification whatever, and without affording the public any protection. If the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would either give extra powers to local authorities, or insist on their carrying out their powers, that part of the clause would not be required. The County Council of Durham did carry out the law at the present time, and insisted on their inspectors visiting the whole of the retail shops in the city, with the result that last year they took 393 samples of food for analysis and only ten were found to be adulterated; and of seventy-three samples of butter only one was adulterated. In fact, in this country the adulteration was in milk, spirits, and drugs, and if local authorities carried out the existing law this Bill would not be required, because the evils complained of could be stamped out by visitation of the retail shops. But while anxious to secure the greater protection of the public, he did not think power should be given to inspectors to harass men innocent of any fraud on the public, and for that reason he moved the Amendment.
In page 4, line 30, to leave out the words "and every wholesale dealer in such substances.'"—(Mr Jonathan Samuel.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ * MR. LONG
I hope the hon. Member will not persist in this Amendment, because he has really misapprehended the object of this clause. It is not intended, as I think hon. Gentlemen who took part in the proceedings upstairs will admit, to inflict anything in the nature of a persecution upon either wholesale dealers or manufacturers or retail dealers. It is only proposed to confer certain powers upon inspectors in regard to the detection and punishment of fraud, and we honestly 1318 desire to set about that work, so far as the Government officers are concerned, with the least possible friction and the minimum of inconvenience. The House has already decided that the earlier part of the section in regard to registration shall remain in the Bill, and the addition of these words is essential in order that we should have control over the sale of foreign margarine as well as over that manufactured at home. This is particularly necessary when we remember that foreign margarine only finds its way to the consumer through the wholesaler. I think the House will agree that if it is necessary—and I am sure it is necessary—that the Department should have power of this kind with regard to margarine manufacturers at home, it is only fair play that they should have equal power to deal with imported margarine, which finds its way to the retail dealer only through the wholesale dealer. If these words are omitted we should lose all control over margarine manufactured abroad.
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL
But hundreds of tons of margarine find their way to the retailers without going through the hands of the wholesale dealers.
§ * MR. LONG
I do not pretend for a moment that we cover all the ground, but I do not think it could be argued that because we do not occupy all the ground, we should not occupy as much as we possibly can. I think it is quite clear that there is no likelihood of these powers being exercised in any way tyrannical or oppressive to the manufacturers. These places are constantly inspected for various purposes at the present time, and I venture to say that there exists the best possible feeling between the parties concerned. I do not therefore think there need be the smallest apprehension as to the result of this clause.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 4, line 35, to leave out Sub-section 2 of Clause 7."—(Captain Sinclair.)
§ Question proposed, "That Sub-section 2 of Clause 7 stand part of the Bill."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1319
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I beg to move the omission of Clause 8. This clause is the crux of the Bill; it is by far the most important, and is, indeed, the most obnoxious clause in the whole Bill. It is so obnoxious and so detrimental to the interests of the community that its inclusion in the Bill is sufficient to damn the whole measure. What is this clause for? It is a clause to rob the poor man of his butter. I hold in my hand copies of invitations for tenders for various articles of food from the Metropolitan Asylums Board, the Asylums Committee of the London County Council, the Chelsea Workhouse, the Kensington Workhouse, and from half a dozen other poorhouse authorities, all asking for tenders for margarine. But what sort of margarine? Margarine containing at least twenty per cent. of butter. And why do they ask for that? They think margarine is improved by a certain amount of butter, and that that justifies them to an extent in giving 16s. per cwt. more than they would otherwise have to pay. This clause is against mixtures altogether, and it will deprive the inmates of all London workhouses and other institutions of any chance of having butter mixed with their margarine. I am as opposed to fraud as anyone in this House, and I wish to stop adulteration, and I think it will be admitted that the Amendments made in this Bill at my instance have enormously strengthened it in that particular. But margarine has already been dealt with so exceptionally; while it is lawful to sell any other product so long as you call it a mixture, it is only a mixture of butter and margarine that it is unlawful to sell unless you call it margarine. The alternative which I advocate, and which I am justified in advocating here, is to put margarine mixtures on the same footing as other mixtures, and allow it to be sold as a mixture provided the requirements of the Act of Parliament have been all complied with. We are told that this clause is a compromise. This clause proposes to render criminal the individual who has in his possession margarine which contains more than 10 per cent of butter fats. Since this Bill was introduced the right hon. Gentleman has increased his restrictions, because when it was first introduced he said it should not contain more than 10 per cent. of butter, but by the change of phraseology he has reduced 1320 the butter to 8½ per cent. The right hon. Gentleman must remember that this is not a question of butter being added to margarine. The oleine which is derived from the fat parts, best fat, of cattle is melted down and is then put into a warm churn together with a certain amount of milk or cream, and when it has been thoroughly churned and well mixed and has taken up the butter fat, it is run off against a stream of icy cold water which congeals the fat into butter—like particles. The water is then extracted from them and they are formed into a butter-like mass. In making mixtures the margarine manufacturer does not take a mass of butter and a mass of margarine; what is done is to put a greater amount of cream or milk into the churn with the oleine. Now this mixture is to be prohibited altogether. The right hon. Gentleman prohibits the sale of ally margarine with more than 10 per cent. of butter fats; but has he gone high enough? I have a document here from a Scotch margarine factory, in which it is stated that the margarine coming from this factory shows 17½ per cent. of butter fat. Unless we wish to prohibit the manufacture of margarine except with the poorest milk, and so cripple the farmers as well as the manufacturers, because they will not have the market for their milk which they have at the present time, the House will reject this clause. One public authority that has approached this House is dead against this clause. The Committee of the Glasgow Corporation reported against Clause 8, and the co-operative societies of Scotland, representing nearly a quarter of a million men, state that they have read the communication of the Glasgow Corporation, and entirely approve of it. Having regard to the fact that if this clause was deleted the Bill would be just as effective, one cannot help coming to, the conclusion that this clause is put in for no other purpose than to aim a blow at a trade which competes with the butter-producing industry. Such a course will not help the farmer; the margarine industry has brought three quarters of a million per annum into the pockets of the stock breeders of this country. In regard to milk, Holland is one of the greatest centres of the margarine trade, and there the price of skim milk has materially increased. What is the butter industry of this country? Two out of every three tons of the butter which is consumed here 1321 comes from abroad. If the right hon. Gentleman's method does succeed in raising the price of butter, it will be the foreigner and not the British who will be benefited. Under all these circumstances I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name, which is to leave out Clause 8.
In page 5, line 16, to leave out Clause 8."—(Sir Charles Cameron)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'ten,' in line 17, stand part of the Bill."
§ * MR. LONG
The hon. Baronet who addressed the House has entirely failed to appreciate the argument that I and others used to support the Government policy with regard to this clause. It has been held that in the case of margarine where the percentage of butter is very large, the opportunity for fraud on the part of the seller is very great, because it is so difficult for the consumer to find out whether he has got what he wants. I have no desire whatever to put an argument of this kind before the House in any other form than that in which it presents itself to me. I admit that I dislike this kind of legislation as much as anybody else, but the difficulty I have to consider when I come to deal with this question is that there has been for a very long time great dissatisfaction at the frauds which have been committed by the sellers of margarine for butter all over the country. It was this that led to the appointment of the Committee upon this question. That inquiry, in great part, was turned to the question of adulteration, and the Committee recommended not that there should be any limitation, but that there should be an absolute prohibition against the mixing of butter with margarine. I do not think that the Committee bad in their minds quite what the effect of their recommendation would be, because it is practically impossible to prevent that, owing to the fact that where milk is used in the manufacture of margarine a certain proportion of the butter fat is absorbed by the oleo, and retained in the finished article; but if any admixture is to he prohibited, it is very difficult to say whether the butter found in the margarine is there as the result of the natural process of manufacture or whether it is added after 1322 wards. The recommendation was not, therefore, a very practical one, and it became my duty to consider whether it was necessary that a limitation should be imposed with regard to this matter. The hon. Baronet told the House that this was an attempt to interfere with the food of the working man. I would like to point out to the House that, in regard to good margarine of a cheap character, which varies in price from 5d. to 7d. a pound, no serious effects will result from this clause if it is carried as it stands. What was the evidence before the Committee? The House will find that in their evidence the great distributing firms, who deal largely in these articles, and probably know more about them than anybody else from a practical point of view—I allude to such firms as Lipton's and the Home and Colonial Stores—assert that there is no demand whatever for mixtures. (Opposition cries of "Oh, Oh!") I may say that I am only telling the House what has been stated by practical men who are doing a very large trade in these particular articles. They assert that there is no demand for mixtures whatever, and that if they were offered fur sale as mixtures, the consuming public would not buy them. The hon. Member for Devonport has said that there is a huge and hideous swindle going on throughout the country in the shape of the sale of these mixtures as butter. I may say that the best chemical authorities which I have been able to approach, and the best technical and expert evidence that I could get in respect to the manufacture of margarine, goes to show that the best margarine that can be made is made without any admixture of butter to the manufactured margarine, and contains only 3 or 4, or 5 per cent. at the most, of butter fat. Therefore the argument in regard to the excision of this clause is not confirmed by those who are, at all events, as good and reliable authorities as the hon. Baronet opposite. The hon. Baronet stated that workhouses and lunatic asylums in their contracts insist upon having margarine containing 20 percent. of butter fat. I believe it is quite true that they do make that condition. I have obtained the best information I could get upon this small point whether margarine containing 20 per cent. of butter fat is a better or more nutritious article than margarine containing a lesser 1323 amount of butter fat; and all the information I have been able to obtain goes to show that the very best margarine you can have, viewed from the point of view either of its palatableness or its nutritious properties, is margarine containing an amount of butter fat below the limit which is imposed under this clause. In that case it cannot be said that we are forcing an inferior article upon the country. If this is true, and if the statements are correct; if it is the case that this margarine mixed with butter would have little or no place in the markets of the country were it not for the fact that the greater proportion of it finds a market only because people buy it, believing it to be butter, then I say a case is established for some legislation such as is found in this clause. I think it is absurd for hon. Gentlemen to say that by proposing this clause we are supporting our own interests and protecting the agricultural interests. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen to say that, but I would ask the House if the Manchester Chamber of Commerce are likely to be actuated by such a motive? Do firms such as Lipton's and the Home and Colonial Stores care anything about the agricultural interest?
§ * MR. LONG
My information is that they deal very largely in those particular articles which we are discussing. I can only give to the House the opinions of these dealers as I find them publicly stated, and all my information goes to show that these two firms are among the largest dealers who supply the public with margarine, and, therefore, their opinion must be accepted as coming from a reliable and authoritative source. I am not asking the House to believe that these firms are infallible, but the argument used by hon. Gentlemen opposite is simply begging the whole questio", and it is an attempt to draw a miserable red herring across the path to talk about benefitting the agricultural interest. This clause has been proposed from no motive of that kind, but solely because we are satisfied in the first instance that this limitation will in no way interfere with the production of the very best article which it is possible to offer to the public; and, in the second place, as it is called—and wrongly called—an inferior article, it would find 1324 no place in the markets of this country at all if it was not for the fact that it is sold for that which it is not. Therefore without some limitation of this kind it will be impossible to check a system of fraud which is I going on almost wholesale, and which has admittedly become a great public scandal with which we desire to deal under the provisions which we have included in this Bill. I ask the House to disagree with this proposal to omit this clause, on the ground which has been publicly stated by my hon. friend the Member for Stockport, who has admitted that the contentious parts of this Bill have practically been compromised. For these reasons I respectfully submit that I have established a case in answer to the arguments advanced by the hon. Baronet opposite, and therefore I invite the House to vote against the Amendment, and thus retain this clause in the Bill as it now stands.
§ * MR. HEDDERWICK
The reasons advanced by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill can hardly be regarded with satisfaction in any part of the House. He does not, it appears, personally approve of legislation of the kind which he is engaged in forcing through Parliament. Well, that is a strange ground upon which to defend a serious measure. But what does he tell us is the source and origin of this particular clause? He tells us that its genesis is due to the recommendation of a Select Committee, who, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, did not even understand what they were about; who, if they had known what they were doing, must have known that their recommendation was impracticable. Surely there never was a more preposterous reason for proposing to force upon this House a clause which certainly is obnoxious to most of the Members sitting upon this side of the House, and which I cannot help thinking will meet with strong opposition from Members on the other side of the House if they are allowed to exercise a free opinion. What is the object aimed at by the Bill? Ostensibly it is to prevent fraud. Yes, but what sort of fraud? It is to prevent the fraud of passing off upon a purchaser something other than that which he demands and for which he has paid. That is the fraud, not simply adulteration. There are many adulterated articles whose manufacture 1325 and sale are perfectly legitimate, but the fraud which has always hitherto been legislated against in Acts of this class is the fraud which imposes upon the purchaser an article which is not the article he is supposed to be purchasing. If that is so what becomes of this particular clause? Where is the fraud that you are legislating against here? You are by tins clause, for the first time in the history of food products, making butter an article of adulteration. You are prohibiting ally man from putting into margarine more than 10 per cent. of butter fat. Thus you are treating butter as an adulterated article. Upon what grounds should you do that? I suppose it never was contended that any legislation should be directed against making an article as good as possible. I think it was the right hon. Gentleman himself who, earlier in the discussion, stated that one of the things against which he would strenuously contend would be any attempt to interfere with an industry producing the production of a really good article. Well, let us look the facts in the face. I understand that the trade in margarine amounts to about 180,000,000 pounds per annum. If you were to take an allowance of one pound per week as a fair allowance for a working man, then you get about three and a half millions of people in this country who use this food-stuff daily, and the proposition contained in this clause which the right hon. Gentleman wishes to force upon this House is to prevent these three and a half millions of people from obtaining more than 10 per cent. of butter fat in their margarine. Why should this limitation be applied only at one end? What of the butter dealer who churns up 10 per cent. of margarine in his butter? What, again, of the man who may honestly wish to supply a genuine demand for margarine with 20 per cent. of butter fat? He cannot do this without incurring your penalties. Well, if he has to risk these penalties in any case, will he not be tempted to call his mixture butter for the sake of the butter price? If this clause remains it will most certainly be looked upon by dealers in margarine as an attempt—and it will be a very foolish attempt, whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say—to legislate in the interests of one particular industry to the great injury of another. But if that really be the object of the right hon. Gentleman then his own 1326 proposal fails, because the more butter there is used, in whatever form it may be consumed, the better it must be for the agricultural interest. Without going further into the question at the present moment, I heartily support the hon. Baronet's motion.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
I desire to read a telegram which I have received from the Manchester, Salford, and District Grocers' Association, in which the secretary to that body says:—I have to beg of you in the interest of commercial honesty to resist any attempt to increase the percentage of butter fat in margarine beyond 10 per cent.I contend that Clause 8 does not prevent either the manufacture or the sale of margarine. My experience has been that dealers are very ready indeed to tell the purchaser whether he is purchasing margarine or butter; but if this clause is omitted, the purchaser will not know whether he is buying margarine or butter.
§ MR. ABEL THOMAS
With regard to this clause, hon. Members seem to forget that we already possess power to deal with fraud. At present you have power to exclude, after inspection, every bit of margarine that comes into this country, and you can in that way stop fraud perfectly easily. But now you are proposing to deal with something which is quite beyond that, for you are saying that, whatever the taste of the public may be, in future certain sorts of margarine are not to be manufactured, and cannot be sold at all. I was astounded to hear the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill say that margarine with ten per cent. or less of butter fat was as nutritious as butter itself.
§ MR. ABEL THOMAS
That assertion astonishes me, because the conclusion I naturally come to is that margarine is as nutritious in every way as butter. It seems to me that we are running the risk of stopping the manufacture of something 1327 which may be extremely good and valuable in the future. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there is no difficulty in discovering when an article is adulterated, and if that is so, it is all nonsense to talk about stopping fraud by this proposal. You can stop fraud without it, and you are attempting to do now what has never been attempted to be done before in any other branch of industry in this country, for you are absolutely forbidding the manufacture of an article of diet which no one can venture to say is improper in any way. The only thing you can say is, that people have been fraudulent in the past by selling it as something which it is not. This clause is quite outside the Bill itself, and it would not make the least bit of difference to the working of the Act if it were left out. I do hope that we shall not forbid the manufacture of something which may be extremely valuable as a food to the people of this country in a very few years' time. I should be very sorry to vote against the Government on any part of this Bill, and I trust they will reconsider their position. I venture to think that all Members who seriously consider this point will come to the conclusion that this is a bad clause, and if it is not withdrawn, I hope every Member of the House will do his best to secure the omission of this clause.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I sat upon the Grand Committee, and I took a great interest in this Bill. What is it that this Bill is intended to do? Surely it is intended to let the people have what they please, provided you protect them from fraud and from purchasing articles which they do not want to buy. Why should we go out of our way to say that this particular margarine should only contain a certain quantity of butter? I cannot understand why there should be drastic rules to prevent a man buying a fictitious article, such as butter containing a largo portion of margarine, providing he knows what he is buying. If any man in my constituency chooses to have margarine with 30, 40, or 50 per cent. of butter, why should he not be allowed to buy it? The right hon. Gentleman in charge of tie Bill has been very conciliatory, and I think his speech, although it waxed a little strong, did not ring as if he was very keen upon this clause. He said that he found that the best margarine was made with less than 10 per cent. of butter fat.
1328 But surely it is no part of the duty of the Government of this country to settle how these things are to be made, and it is not for them to say whether the best margarine is made in one way or another. I must say that I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will give way upon this matter, and declare that, while taking strong measures to prevent fraud, if a man chooses to say this is a mixture containing 20, 30, or 40 per cent. of butter fat, he shall be allowed to sell it. It cannot be said that manufacturers put in a larger amount of butter fat simply for the sake of doing it, but they do so because they get a better article. They are people of education, and I think we may take it for granted that there is a great deal to be said in favour of a larger percentage of butter. I must protest against the poor persons I have the honour to represent being prevented from buying this article if they wish to have it. All I am concerned about is, that they should be protected from fraud. I shall therefore rote against the retention of this clause if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way upon this point.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
Upon a previous occasion I contended that the public had a perfect right to buy margarine mixed with 20, 30, 40, or 50 per cent. of butter fat, if it was sold to them under a proper and honest description. All we have to do is to see that the public get an honest description of the article which they pay for, and that such article is not injurious to their health. Therefore Clause 8 of this Bill looks to me altogether like a foreign body in a Bill for this purpose. I think it is altogether out of place, for it is attempting to do something which is not in consonance with the general principle of the Bill—it is attempting to lay down a standard for an article of food. That is an unscientific principle altogether, because what is true today is not true to-morrow. I am afraid that this Bill is not drawn in the interest of the consumer; it is pervaded with another and what I may call a sinister purpose; it is "in the interest of agriculture," and evidence of this appears in the clause which has for its object the limitation of the consumption of margarine in the interest of the producers of butter. In the present case you are limiting the sale of certain higher 1329 classes of margarine. At the present time the public buy these mixtures of butter and margarine to a large extent, and they know what they are buying, and have it served to them properly labelled. They will not go into a shop and ask for margarine; they do not mind, however, asking for a "pound of 6d. or 8d." These are the shifts to which the poor of this country are driven in order to get what they want. Why should they not be able to get it without let or hindrance? The present law is quite sufficient, for it insists that the dealer shall sell the article under the description of margarine, and not as butter. Hitherto the provision has not been compulsory all over the country, but under Clause 3 it is now proposed to make it compulsory. The Bill gives, further, a larger amount of inspecting power, and, in conjunction with the existing law, I am sure that the provisions are quite sufficient to protect the public against fraud. It is proposed to limit the addition of butter fat to margarine so as to keep it impoverished, and, in order to help the sale of genuine butter, you are introducing a new and absolutely unnecessary clause, to the great hurt of the public. I think you are treating this industry very unfairly in this respect. Personally I believe the more butter you add to the margarine the more palatable compound you make it. That is a common-sense statement of the position. The public want to have this article supplied to them, and we ought not to put any impediment in the way of its being supplied. I do not think that the public authorities who advertise for a mixture containing at least 20 per cent. of butter fat, instead of the usual 10 per cent., would do so unless they believed that they were securing a good article for consumption. I should like to see the people in our workhouses, and other poor people, get as high a percentage of butter fat in the compound as is possible. If you persist in this attempt to stop the sale of these mixtures your object will eventually be defeated by people buying the two articles separately and mixing them for themselves. You will only add to their trouble. I do not believe that this clause is one which will be conducive to the general well-being of the public. I do not think it will have the effect of increasing the price of butter, although on superficial examination the tendency of limiting the amount of butter fat, and lowering the standard of margarine, might 1330 be to produce a greater demand for butter. I think you are going on the wrong grounds altogether, and I, for one, shall vote against this clause, because I look upon it as an unfair restriction on the production of a wholesome food product. It is an attempt to prevent the public obtaining an article for which they wish, and it is an unfair restriction of trade without producing any greater guarantee of purity.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
I have been throughout the progress of this Bill a consistent supporter of my right hon. friend, and whenever there has been any question as to the best means of effectually preventing fraud I have gone thoroughly with him. I should be the last man to accuse him of having anything but a sincere desire to do that which is right, whether it will benefit agriculture or not. But I fail to see in what way this clause will give the consumer more protection against fraud than he already has under the existing law. By it we are seeking to make the people take an inferior article to that which they wish for, or, at least, we are compelling them to take a pure article which in many cases is inferior at the price compared with that which they are now taking. Among workmen in my constituency, and in other parts of Scotland, a strong opinion has been expressed on this point. The question is of considerable importance to them in connection with their mutual trading societies, one of which purchases huge quantities of all kinds of food products. They are distinctly against this clause, because they hold that it will lead to a considerable interference with their business, while it will fail to afford any protection against fraud. I distinctly agree with them in that, and in consequence I shall have to give my first adverse vote upon the Bill against this clause.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
The hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of this clause took the point that we should be depriving the public of the opportunity of purchasing a superior article, and that they would be compelled instead to take an inferior one. But what was the nature of the evidence which was laid before the Committee? The witnesses included importers of great reputation, and persons who represented merchants, distributors, and consumers, and the sum total of the evidence was that these mixtures were the 1331 root and foundation of the whole of this dishonest trading. I suppose the large distributors of the country are equally as competent to express an opinion as to what is demanded by consumers as hon. Members here are to speak in the interests of their constituents. I myself had the privilege of introducing to the right hon. Gentleman a very influential deputation of importers, merchants, and distributors. The distributors represented an annual turn-over in direct sales to the consumer of more than ten millions sterling per annum. What was the evidence they gave about these mixtures? It was, that there were two distinct classes of buyers that came to the retail branches which were distributed over England, Scotland, and Ireland. There were those who came to buy margarine and those who came to buy butter. They sold no mixtures, because under the present Act they would have to describe them as margarine, and while the price of margarine ranged from 4d. to 6d. per pound, the price of butter was 10d. to 1s. per pound. There was thus a hiatus between the two. If they had sold the mixtures, for which they would have had to ask a higher price although they would still have been labelled as margarine, the public could not have been induced to buy it at all. The point I want to make is that these mixtures are not being sold as margarine; they are being palmed off on the public as butter. Take a trade paper of any date you like. Study the statistics with regard to Glamorganshire, and it will be found that grocers in that district are perpetually being summoned for this fraud. A person goes into a shop and asks for butter at 1s. per lb., but what he gets is an article containing 85 per cent. of margarine. The hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs spoke on behalf of the working men. I will guarantee to produce, at a few days' notice, 100 cases from Scotland of this fraud, where the working man is paying his money for butter and getting this vile decoction. These mixtures are the foundation of the whole fraud. It is very easy to argue that if the present law were perfectly enforced, and if these articles were properly sold, there would be no necessity for this measure. But the law is not enforced; it has broken down; this fraud continues. The strongest point of all is that the great distributors, with branches all over the kingdom, do not sell these mixtures; 1332 they have tried to sell them, but without success. People who want butter will not have a mixture, and those who want margarine will only pay margarine price. I am perfectly certain, that the right hon. Gentleman is taking a wise course in limiting the admixture of butter with margarine. The average quantity of these mixtures does not exceed 20 per cent. of the total output, showing that 80 per cent. is bought as margarine and not as mixtures at all. That is another testimony that there is no universal demand for these mixtures. I do not claim to have any very special knowledge, but I have carefully considered the question here, and, in supporting this clause, I believe the Government will have taken a very drastic step towards stamping out this adulteration.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
My hon. friend, the Member for Devonport, has alluded to a large and influential deputation which he introduced upon this subject. About twelve months ago one of the Members for Liverpool, who sits on the the other side of the House, and who, along with myself, sat on the Select Committee, introduced to the President of the Local Government Board one of the most crowded deputations I have ever attended—a deputation of grocers and large provision dealers and produce merchants from all parts of the country. The members of the deputation successively rose and stated, not only that they found by experience that there is a large demand for butter and margarine mixtures, but that they thought it would be exceedingly injurious to the trade and the commerce in which they are engaged if such restrictions as are proposed in this Bill were enforced. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill referred to the conduct of the Bill in Committee. I have the greatest pleasure in bearing testimony to the invariable fairness, reasonableness, and conciliatory manner in which he conducted the Bill through the Committee. But I think it was obvious that there were some clauses which he was bound officially to support, but which he was not so keen in advocating as was the case with other clauses. The very fact that he has sitting on his right hand a gentleman who, as Chairman of the Select Committee, declined to commit himself to what is proposed in this clause, indicates that the Government have had a very difficult task.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. T. W. RUSSELL,) Tyrone, S.
I declined to commit myself officially.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
The genesis of this clause is from an endeavour to conciliate, and, if possible, to find some middle line between those who were strongly against any mixtures, and those who might be induced to approve of a limited mixture. My strongest objection to this clause is that it introduces a new principle. I do not object to it because it is new, but because it is a bad principle. It is the first time in the legislation of this country that an attempt has been made to class as an adulteration the mixture of a superior with an inferior article. If the principle is introduced in this Bill, I do not see how far it is to be carried. In all our textile industries, and in many of our food products, this process has been going on for a great number of years. The object of it is to supply consumers with what they desire and willingly purchase, and purchase with their eyes open. Reference has been made to the opinion of sonic persons in Manchester on this question. I will not repeat some extracts which I read from the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, but there are a few sentences bearing directly upon this particular clause. They say:Your petitioners consider that if Clause 8 of the Bill passes into law the Act will certainly fail of its end. They are of opinion that the community cannot now be deprived of so important, wholesome, and relatively cheap an article of food as margarine, and that the public is entitled to demand to get the best margarine which producers can supply.And, further:There is no informed person known to your petitioners who questions the goodness and desirability of margarine as a high-class and most valuable food. The fault of its producers appears to be that they have made it too good and too cheap.Whoever heard before of such an attempt as is now being made—an unprincipled attempt in my view—to prevent by legislation an article being improved and made as good as it can be made? A gentleman engaged in the same business writes:I know no Act of Parliament that prohibits the improvement of any article whatever. I would ask, if it is allowable to add unlimited quantities of silk to cotton, cocoa to starch, wool to cotton, or coffee to chicory, for the improvement of the inferior article, why should the amount of butter be limited that may be mixed with margarine? Surely this proposed new law is strong enough to allow of 1334 good mixtures of margarine and butter to be sold under the proper name, 'margarine,' and it shows great weakness on the part of the proposer of the Bill that he should think it necessary to prohibit the manufacture of a clean, healthy, wholesome article of food.There are cross-currents in this House; there are cross-currents in the grocery and provision trades. There are dealers who deal in particular classes of goods, and they wish legislation to favour what they deal in, and they wish, if possible, to put a weight in the balance against other dealers with whom they have to deal. There are also cross-currents and diverse interests amongst the working men. I have great respect for my hon. friend the Member for Battersea: he is one of the most intelligent of men; I might exhaust the complimentary epithets in the dictionary with regard to him, and I should be quite sincere in doing so. But I know he thinks I am a heretic on this question. I reciprocate the compliment.
§ * SIR JOHN LENG
He says lie is against working men being imposed upon. So am I. But, I say, who are the best judges but the working men themselves? The co-operative societies of the country represent the working men to a very large extent, and what does the Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society say: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 endeavours to get the suggestions therein made carried into effect, and thus benefit the general public.I have already adverted to the fact that north of the Tweed public opinion of all classes is almost entirely solid on this subject. My hon. friend the Member for Bridgeton has referred to the fact that the two most powerful supporters of the Government in the Press, the two journals which have the largest circulation and the greatest influence in Scotland—and as the proprietor of another journal I have the greatest satisfaction in saying that—the Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald, both strongly representing the intelligence and enlightenment of Scotland, have most vigorously opposed this 1335 clause. The Scotsman says:It will not be easy to sustain the contention that the proposed regulations and restrictions of the margarine industry are not designed to protect one interest at the expense of another. The truth is that butter as a 'pure' or 'simple' article is, from various points of view, a 'basis' article, using the word as it is applied to pure grape or other fruit juice in the wine trade.The Glasgow Herald says:What have been the guiding principles in this class of legislation during the past. The first is that all articles of food offered for sale must be wholesome and good; the second is that they must be sold for what they really are. But both these principles are set at naught by a clause which would debar dairies from increasing the quality of an article of sound and legitimate commerce and traders from selling it. Besides, see what this might lead to. So far as the working classes are concerned it might limit their supply of an important wholesome and relatively cheap supply of food, while it would certainly prevent them from getting margarine of a high quality, however much they should desire to do so. There seems, therefore, every reason to hope that the clause will disappear before the Bill passes into law.It is because I wish that that hope will be realised that I oppose this clause. It has already been said that this attempt to define by a clause what a mixed article of food should be wilt probably interfere with the progress of science. On that point the Berlin correspondent of The Times states that:Some experiments have been carried out recently in Germany, at the suggestion of Dr, Liebreich, with an emulsion of almond paste as a substitute for milk in the manufacture of margarine. The resulting substance, in taste, colour, and consistency resembles ordinary butter, and is stated to he absolutely free from all dangerous organisms. It keeps fresh much longer than butter, and only costs about half as much. Any kind of nuts can be used in the manufacture of this substitute.By attempting to restrict a wholesome mixture intended to be an important article of food you are altering the whole current of legislation. I am satisfied that if the Leader of the House will agree to the withdrawal of this clause, which has been properly described as an excrescence on the Bill, it would very much simplify the passage of the Bill. We should feel conscientiously bound in duty to our constituents to a large number of manufacturers and traders, and to the people who purchase these articles of food, to at once withdraw all opposition to the other clauses. I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take that course.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
There is one argument which appears of importance with regard to this matter on which I should like to say a word. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill was chiefly influenced by the opinion of the great distributors, who, as my hon. friend the Member for Devonport said, turn over £10,000,000 a year. I think we ought to hesitate before we are influenced by the opinions of such people. There are two easy explanations of their preference for butter. Butter is the dearer article, and therefore distributors, as my bon. friend has said, make a great deal more money by distributing it than by distributing margarine.
§ MR. LOUGH
The House will be able to weigh the arguments. I did not agree with my hon. friend, but I did not stand up to interrupt him, and I think he has not contributed particularly to the Debate by interrupting me. My hon. friend now states that distributors make more profit by distributing margarine; but my second point is directly in opposition to that. I claim that in the nature of things, margarine being made by capitalist manufacturers, they are more fit to compete with the great distributing companies is an article out of which not so much profit is made in its distribution as in the distribution of butter. Every interest I have in this debate is on the side of butter. In Ireland some friends of mine are deeply interested in its production, and I am associated with the right hon. Member for South Dublin in the splendid effort he is making to improve the manufacture of butter in Ireland, but I do not like to speak in favour of anything in which I am interested, and in maintaining the case of margarine I am speaking against my own interests. The distribution of butter is far mom profitable than the distribution of margarine.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The question before the House is whether the sale of certain mixtures should be prevented.
§ MR. LOUGH
I quite agree, Mr. Speaker, and I will sum up by asking the House not to be led away by the casuistry of these great distributing companies, but to seek out some single good principle and to stick to it. What is the principle I would suggest? We are legislating 1337 this afternoon in a way we have never legislated before, because we are making it a crime to improve the quality of a great article of food. This House ought to be ashamed to do such a thing. If the clauses we have already passed are good clauses, which we are assured they are, if they are going to be as effective as we are assured they are going to be, then rely upon them, and do not drag in this clause. It is said that a great deal of fraud is perpetrated in the sale of mixtures, but this Bill prevents the sale of any mixture, because, if only 1 per cent. of margarine is added, the substance must be sold as margarine. Therefore every argument based on that point falls to the ground. I think we should be making a great mistake in preventing any person making margarine as good as it can be made, and I ask the House to act in accordance with previous legislation.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
May I appeal to hon. Members? I quite recognise that this has been an
§ important matter, but surely it has been adequately discussed. If the House will decide the point now, and let us have Clause 8, I will move to report progress, or make the corresponding motion.
§ MR. JONATHAN SAMUEL
I desire to point out that if this clause is passed thousands of honest traders in this country who expose for sale margarine that contains more than 10 per cent. of butter fat, although they sell it as margarine, can be prosecuted. Is that a fair measure to pass? I think this is an important point which has been overlooked, and I am afraid the Government will not realise it until they find traders throughout the country brought before the magistrates, not for selling margarine as butter, but because they are selling an article containing 10 per cent. of butter fat. I think that is a scandal.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided.
§ Ayes, 166; Noes, 83. (Division List, No. 284.)1339
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gunter, Colonel|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Collings Rt. Hon. Jesse||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Edw T. D.||Hill, Arthur (Down, West)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampste'd|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)|
|Baillie, Jas. E. B. (Inverness)||Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Hobhouse, Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn, A. J. (Manch'r)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Davitt Michael||Howell, William Tudor|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Doogan, P.C.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Doughty, George||Jenkins, Sir John Jones|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Doughty, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Drucker, A.||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Beach, Rt Hon Sir M H.-(Bristol)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Beach, WW Bramston (Hants.)||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Fellowes, Hon Ailwyn Edward||Kimber, Henry|
|Bigwood, James||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Manc'r)||Knowles, Lees|
|Bill, Charles||Finch, George H.||Lambert, George|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Finlay, Sir Robert B.||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Leighton, Stanley|
|Burns, John||Gartit, William||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.)|
|Carlile, William Walter||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Liverpool|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Goschen, Rt Hn G J (St George's)||Lowe, Francis William|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Lowther, Rt Hn J W. (Cum'land|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r.)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Gretton, John||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Coddington, Sir William||Gull, Sir Cameron||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W.F.||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Middlemore John Throgmorton||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson||Valentia, Viscount|
|Milner, Sir Frederick George||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)|
|Monk, Charles James||Robinson, Brooke||Warde, Lient.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Moore, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L)|
|Morgan, Hn Fred. (Monm'thsh.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Seely, Charles Hilton||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute||Seton-Karr. Henry||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Myers, William Henry||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wylie, Alexander|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Spencer, Ernest||Wyndham, George|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Stanley Edward J. (Somerset)||Wyndham-Quin, Maj. W. H.|
|Percy, Earl||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Strachey, Edward||Younger, William|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Start, Hon. Humphry Napier||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Purvis, Robert||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Pym, C. Guy||Talbot, Rt Hn J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Hy.||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Horniman, Frederick John||Price, Robert John|
|Billson, Alfred||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans.)||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Burt, Thomas||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U||Randell, David|
|Caldwell, James||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Symth||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Langley, Batty||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Carmichael, Sir T. B. Gibson-||Lawrence Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cum'land)||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Leng, Sir John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Souttar, Robinson|
|Colville, John||Lloyd-George, David||Spicer, Albert|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Lober, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Denny, Colonel||Lorne, Marquess of||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Lough, Thomas||Thomas, David Alfd. (Merthyr)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Thorburn, Walter|
|Duckworth, James||M'Crae, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Ewan, William||Ure, Alexander|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (South'ton)||M'Killop, James||Wallace, Robert|
|Evershed, Sydney||Maddison, Fred.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Fenwick, Charles||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Williams, Jno. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Mellor, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Yorks.)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Harwood, George||Palmer, Sir Chas. M. (Durham)||Woods, Samuel|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Hazell, Walter||Perks, Robert William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hedderwick, Thos. Charles H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Sir Charles Cameron and Mr. Jonathan Samuel.|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs SW|
Resolution agreed to.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I hope the Leader of the House will now report progress. I understand that a great number of important Amendments to the clause itself still remain to be discussed. It would be against the understanding come to if we sat much longer.
§ MR. LONG
I only speak with the leave of the House. I do not know on what information the right hon. Gentleman spoke, but so far as the Amendments on the Paper are concerned, no special point is raised by them, except the 1340 amount of percentage. That does not amount to a large number of questions, as was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and I think we might finish this clause.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I understand that if the Amendments are not very numerous, they are at all events important, and likely to give rise to discussion. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will lose anything by adjourning now.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman takes that 1341 view. I quite agree that it is undesirable to ask the House to sit on Wednesday afternoon, except under very exceptional circumstances, beyond the hour now reached. I assent to the adjournment of the Debate, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assist the Government in getting the remainder of the Bill when it comes on again. I shall put it down as the second Order for to-morrow night.
§ Further consideration, as amended, deferred till to-morrow.