§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Clause 8, as the House will remember, prohibits any persons having in their possession, or selling, or exposing for sale, margarine which which has been enriched with more than 8½ per cent. of butter. As I pointed out yesterday, the Governors of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and several poorhouse authorities, in accordance with their desire to give the poor inmates something which they consider more palatable and better than the 1446 highest grade of margarine, have issued tenders for large quantities of margarine mixture, in which they stipulate the mixture shall contain at least 20 per cent. of butter. A good many hundreds of tons are distributed annually in this way among the inmates of the various unions. There can be in this case no doubt as to adulteration. The right hon. Gentleman told us the other day that you could make as palatable margarine containing not more than 5 per cent. of butter fats, but the authorities I have named would hardly go to the cost of 10s. a hundredweight extra for this mixture if they could get as good and palatable an article in the shape of a cheaper and poorer grade of margarine, and the result of this clause will 1447 be to deprive these poor people of 15 of their 20 per cent. of butter. The object of the Amendment, which I move on behalf of my hon. friend the Member for Dundee, is to raise the limit of the butter fats to the same standard as is now allowed—namely, 30 per cent. The fact that boards of guardians and the county councils are inviting by tender mixtures containing 20 per cent. of butter fats, shows that they at least regard such an article as being more perfect than that which contains only 10 per cent. It is not conceivable that we have arrived at the end of the age of invention in this matter, and it is quite possible that in some half dozen years a more wholesome food may be invented, consisting of a mixture of a greater amount of butter with margarine than I now propose; but such a thing will be prevented if this Clause 8 is not amended. Some chemists have already discovered a method of propagating the microbe which gives off the butter acids in a particular emulsion, and there is no reason why those chemists should not succeed in making butter by a purely scientific profess.
In page 5, line 17, to leave oat the word 'ten,' and insert the word 'thirty'—(Sir Charles Cameron)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'ten' stand part of the Bill."
§ * THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. LONG,) West Derby
I hope the House will not accept the Amendment, for reasons very much the same as I gave yesterday dealing with the justification of the clause as a whole. Beyond those reasons which were directed to the merits of the question itself may I say that the figure in the Bill of 10 per cent. is justified as a reasonable compromise between the demand on the one hand to limit the mixture to 5 per cent. and the proposal now made. It is a compromise based on the advice and opinion of expert know-ledge. I set up no opinion of my own. There is undoubtedly a very large demand for genuine margarine, and this article of the best quality can be produced with 3 or 4 per cent. of butter fat; therefore this proposed extension is not required to secure margarine of good quality. There is also a 1448 demand for genuine butter, and it is against the illegal mixture of the two with the intention of deceiving purchasers that Clause 8 is directed. The supply of margarine at margarine price will not be interfered with. If the condition is to be a fair one, which can be easily worked so that manufacturers may keep within the law, there must be a reasonable margin and then the law will not be oppressive. The limitation proposed will prevent fraudulent sale and make it not only possible but easy in every way for the manufacturer to produce the best article he can and put it on the market at the price it ought to command.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Galway, N.)
supported the limit of 10 per cent., and expressed surprise that the right hon. Member for Bridgeton, having regard to the views he expressed, had not attempted to repeal the Margarine Act altogether. After a Parliamentary experience of twelve years it was only now that the right hon. Member for Bridgeton was struck by the fact that it was a proper thing to allow mixtures of margarine and butter to be sold as a mixture. He advocated that principle now in the interest of the paupers. He did not agree with the right hon. Member, and if the Government would not make the limit of butter fats allowed in margarine less than 10 per cent. he would have to accept that limit.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
The hon. Member who has just sat down appears to have misunderstood the point of the clause. All that the Act of 1887 did was to say that whatever proportion of butter was put into margarine the margarine must be sold as margarine. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has been so unyielding with regard to this matter, and perhaps even now he would make some compromise. The Amendment asks for 30 per cent.; but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would accept that percentage which the county councils, require when they invite tenders—namely, 20 per cent. In my opinion the Amendment is a reasonable one, and having regard to the fact that contracts are now running for the supply of margarine with 30 per cent. of butter, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to see his way to accept it.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
We on this side of the House hope that if the Government do anything at all it will lower the limit to less than 10 per cent. The effect of giving a higher limit would entirely frustrate the object of the Bill. That the London County Council adopted a mixture of 20 per cent. of butter was, I suppose, due to their ignorance, because in countries where margarine is made to the greatest extent, in many cases the admixture of butter is prohibited altogether, and not allowed to be sold at all.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said he was not much moved by the practice in other countries, where the economic conditions might not be analogous to those of this country. It appeared to him that the only question to be dealt with was whether there should be a little more or a little less butter in the margarine, and the best way to settle that matter would be to have a few samples in the Tea Room, when they might be able to decide which was the better article of food.
§ reason that the clause as it stood would interfere with the contracts which were running.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
Before you put the question, Sir, I think we are entitled to an answer from the Law Officer of the Crown as to the manner in which the contracts will be affected if this Amendment is not carried.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
I should like to associate myself with the remark of the hon. Member who has just spoken. I think we ought to have sonic answer from the Solicitor-General as to this.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir R. B. FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
No single case has been stated of a contract which will extend over January 1st, 1900, and this Bill is not to come into force until that date.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 131; Noes, 48. (Division List, No. 286.)1451
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hogan, James Francis|
|Bailey, James (Walworth.)||Curzon, Viscount||Howard, Joseph|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manc'r)||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Howell, William Tudor|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Dillon, John||Hozier, Hon. Jas. Hen. Cecil|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Donelan, Captain A.||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Doogan, P. C.||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Johnstone, Heywood (Susex)|
|Bethell, Commander||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Wm.|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Keswick, William|
|Biddulph, Michael||Finch, George H.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Bigwood, James||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Knowles, Lees|
|Bill, Charles||Fisher, William Hayes||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Godson, Sir A. Frederick||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)|
|Burns, John||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Butcher, John George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Carlisle, William Walter||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo"s||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Gull, Sir Cameron||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Harwood, George||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Henderson, Alexander||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Morton, Arthur, H. A. (Deptford|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Hill, Arthur (Down, West)||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Pease Herbert Pike (Darlington||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L)|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Purvis, Robert||Sidebottom,William (Derbysh.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Randell, David||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Rankin, Sir James||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Rasch, Major Frederick Carne||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wyndham, George|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Strachey, Edward||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Thornton, Percy M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Valentia, Viscount||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Allan, Wm. (Gateshead)||Fenwick, Charles||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Souttar, Robinson|
|Billson, Alfred||Hazell, Walter||Spicer, Albert|
|Bond, Edward||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Stanhope, Hon. P. J.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Brunner, Sir John T.||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Burt, Thomas||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Ure, Alexander|
|Caldwell, James||Lough, Thomas||Wallace, Robert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||M'Killop, James||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Maddison, Fred.||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Maden, John Henry||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Davitt, Michael||Pirie, Duncan V.||Sir Charles Cameron and Mr. Colville.|
|Dewar, Arthur||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
The Amendment which I propose is a protection to really honest tradesmen. The clause now makes it a crime to sell this material as margarine if it contains more than 10 per cent. of butter. I cannot see why people should not have margarine in any way they like, provided they know they are buying it. If the small dealer buys this material honestly believing that it contains 10 per cent. or less of butter, and if by any accident it turns out to contain more than 10 per cent. of butter, he is liable to be punished in a very severe manner. The Amendment I propose is that if he buys this article as bonâ fide margarine containing more than the prescribed quantity of butter, if he can prove that he bought it believing it to be what it professed to be, he shall not be liable. The words I propose are taken from the Margarine Act, and it seems to me an extraordinary thing that the Government should refuse to accept these words. We are making drastic laws by which we hope to prevent fraud, but surely it is a new departure altogether that a man honestly carrying on his business and taking every conceivable precaution should be punished, when he is not the real offender, and when he can prove 1452 conclusively that he is not in any way to blame. That seems an extraordinary state of things for a new law to create, and it is contrary to the spirit of justice in every sense. The only alternative would be that every small trader would have to have this material analysed himself, for although the invoice may state that the material comes within the law, if it is proved outside the law, the man who has taken all these precautions will be liable to punishment. I was given to understand that the Government would accept this as a reasonable Amendment, but now it appears that they think this is not right, although I cannot for the life of me see why we should have this drastic law, and not be satisfied with the punishment of the real criminal, but go on punishing a man who is carrying on a legitimate business in the best possible way he can. I am as strong as anyone in my desire to put a stop to fraud, but by this proposal of the Government we are harassing the small tradesmen in a most unreasonable manner. The large tradesman can look after himself, and it would pay him to have this material analysed; but to suppose that a man in a small way of business could bear the expense of having everything 1453 analysed seems to me to be a most unreasonable thing. I urge that these words should be inserted to protect tradesmen who are honestly carrying on their business, for my proposal does not protect any man who cannot show that he has taken every reasonable precaution. If a tradesman can prove to the satisfaction of the court that he has taken every reasonable precaution, and that his offence is entirely due to the misstatements of those persons from whom he buys the goods, it seems to me that he should not be liable. I beg to move.
In page 5, line 21, to leave out from '1887' to end of clause, and insert the words 'unless he shows to the satisfaction of the court before whom he is charged that he purchased the article in question as margarine, containing not more than 10 per cent. of butter fat, and with a written warranty or invoice to that effect; that he had no reason to believe at the time when he sold it that the article was other than margarine containing not more than ten per cent. of butter fat; and that he sold it in the same state as when he purchased it; and in such case he shall be discharged from the prosecution, but shall be liable to pay the costs incurred by the prosecutor unless he shall have given due notice to him that he will rely upon the above defence.'"—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
I think I can satisfy the hon. Member that this Bill, as drawn, meets all the ordinary cases which he is anxious to provide for, and that the Amendment will not provide for the ordinary cases, but only for cases which very rarely indeed occur, and would exclude what my hon. friend desires to be done in the ordinary cases. The section provides that it is no longer possible to sell margarine under a certain standard, but it also includes Section 7 of the Margarine Act. My hon. friend proposes to strike that out altogether, and proposes to provide only for the case of the tradesman who has bought the article as margarine. I would point out to my hon. friend that that is almost an impossible case. The case we have to deal with is one where the wholesale dealer has fraudulently sent to the tradesman as butter an article which is really a mixture 1454 of margarine and butter. My hon. friend has really left out the case that will frequently occur, and has provided for an almost impossible case. If my hon. friend can show me that there is any reasonable probability that such cases may occur, we will consider the advisability of dealing with the matter in another place.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I agree with the Solicitor-General as to the general effect of this Amendment and the non-necessity for it. The clause provides that any offence under Section 7 of the Margarine Act will be an offence under this Act. I desire to point out that you cannot regulate exactly this percentage, for it must of necessity depend upon the richness of the milk and the season at which the margarine is made. I have no doubt it will not be in the interests of margarine manufacturers to sell a higher mixture of butter than is stipulated for, for it is nearly always the person who invites tenders who stipulates that the margarine shall contain a certain percentage of butter. Then, again, analysts are not infallible; and organic analysis, especially as to fat, is not a science of mathematical precision. Everything has to be estimated, and unless you allow some margin you may have cases of very great injustice. In regard to the adulteration of coffee and chicory, I remember that a mixture of ten per cent. of coffee and chicory was subjected to analysis by several analysts, and not one of them gave the correct proportions. In analysing margarine, it is a matter of estimation as to the amount of fat, and this varies at different seasons, and unless you have some proviso to protect the innocent seller against a vicious prosecution through faulty analyses I think a very grave injustice will be done.
§ MR. WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
There seems to me to be a grievance in this matter, and I think we ought to allow a little margin. I hope the Solicitor-General will consult the right hon. Gentleman on that side of the House, and make some proposition in another place which will meet this case, because it may prove a very serious thing for the small trader who cannot afford to have all his goods analysed, and who may get into trouble through no fault of his own.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
It is already provided that the word "margarine" must be placed on the article when it is being sold, and the wrappers in which it is sold also have to have the word "margarine" printed on them. Therefore, if the terms of the old Margarine Act are applied there is no possibility of fraud being practised. I desire to prevent the provisions of this Act being put aside so far as they are a protection to the seller. It is a well known fact that poor people have their pride as well as the rich. A poor woman will not go into a shop and ask for a pound of margarine, but she will generally ask for "a pound of sixpenny," or a pound of "that," and will point to the article she requires. If an inspector comes into the shop anxious to secure a conviction he will ask for a pound of sixpenny butter, and the sixpenny is handed out to him in the paper labelled "margarine." It is proposed to make the third conviction punishable by imprisonment, but if the prosecutions are under the Margarine Act there might be no third conviction of an employer, for in every one of the three cases the offence might be brought home to the offending individual; while if the same cases were taken under the Food and Drugs Acts they would count up against the employer, who might know nothing whatever about the transaction, and he would be liable to treatment as a criminal, subject to three months' imprisonment. I was told in Committee that the Margarine Act is not an adulteration Act, but now it is proposed to prevent an article being sold for what it is not. It appears to me that when all the requirements of the Margarine Act have been complied with there can be no pretence of any fraud, because even if an illiterate sees those large letters, all he or she has to do is to say, "I asked for butter and you have given me margarine." If the intention of this Act is to inflict punishment in the case of technical quibbles where there can be no intention to defraud, and where the nature of the article sold is openly declared, I think it is a gross injustice against which tradesmen have a right to protest. I beg to move:
In page 5, line 24, after the word 'accordingly,' to insert the words, 'Provided always,
that in any prosecution under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act for the fraudulent or illegal sale of margarine, or any compound thereof, it shall be a good defence to prove that the requirements of the Margarine Act, 1887, as amended by this Act, had been complied with.'"—Sir C. Cameron.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
This section which the hon. Baronet proposes to add is a section dealing only with the case of the manufacture and sale of margarine containing more than 10 per cent. of butter fat, and should have been proposed as an Amendment to a previous clause.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I put it down as a separate new clause, but Mr. Speaker ruled it out of order.
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
My hon. friend has got it down as a proviso dealing with a limited class of cases. Under his proposal the fraudulent seller could get off by showing that he had fixed a label or used a wrapper such as is mentioned in the Margarine Act. Suppose a poor person comes in and asks for butter, and is supplied with margarine at the price of butter, according to this proposal that shopkeeper will get off if he can show there is a wrapper upon it complying with the Margarine Act. Surely if it is established that the article sold is different from that for which the purchaser asks, and if the purchaser did not know that he was getting something totally different, the shopkeeper should not be able to get off by showing that the word "margarine" was printed upon the label.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
§ Another Amendment made.
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE (Sussex, Horsham)
The object of the Amendment which I have on the Paper is, as the House is well aware, to deal with a great quantity of condensed milk which finds its way into the market, and which is a very valuable and useful product, and is 1457 heavily bought by the poorer portions of the community, who are strongly desirous of bringing up their children on milk. It contains all the essential properties of good milk, and is very popular from the very convenient form in which it is sold. I know from experience that it is a very useful and palatable food on which to bring up children. This has led to imitations of the commonest form, from which all the essential parts are taken away which are most necessary and most valuable for the health of the children. Instead of containing at least 3 per cent. of fatty matter, as good and proper milk should contain, this contains something less than 1 per cent. Putting it in another way, to get the same quantity of fat contained in good, sound fresh milk, you would have to put in sixteen pints of water. Imagine the result of that—the unhappy town infant getting this separated milk under the impression that it is sound and fresh, and then having to take not a double magnum, but sixteen pints. From experience of skimmed milk as well as fresh milk, I say that no sensible person would dream of bringing up the offspring of animals on it. They would not give separated milk to calves or young pigs without something else to help them along. It is a cruel thing that this should be thrown broadcast upon children, especially in our large towns, without a single word of warning to the poorest to prevent them knowing that this is not a food fit for young children. The very words which the section proposes to have put in the Bill, "separated milk or skimmed milk," are somewhat attractive and likely to deceive ignorant people. The words "separated milk" indicate to the minds of the purchaser that it is something particularly good and worth having, and when besides that it is sold at a cheaper rate than condensed milk the real danger comes in, and the real risk of innutritious and unwholesome food being given to the child and the consequent danger to the child's health. This is no imaginary case. The matter has been under the consideration of public authorities, and a large number of urban district councils are in favour of some such words as the Amendment suggests being inserted. The Report of a Committee of the House which has considered the matter suggests that all tins containing such milk should be required to bear 1458 labels, on which the words "skimmed milk" are printed in large legible type. This has been adopted in the Bill, but it does not go far enough. The Report goes on to say that an additional notification should be printed that such milk is not suitable for purposes of feeding young children. I entirely agree with this recommendation for I believe that the President of the Board of Agriculture is thoroughly aware of the mischief which arises from the sale of this product unchecked, and without its being brought to the notice of the purchaser what the real risk is. He has gone so far as to say the label must be printed on every one of the tins, showing the words "separated or skimmed milk." I ask him to go a little further in the interests of humanity, and make this a better Bill, and bring to the mind of the purchaser what I think is necessary, that these poor, ignorant people should be reminded that this condensed skimmed and separated milk is not fit for the food of infants.
In page 5, line 39, to insert the words after 'type,' with a statement that such milk is not suited for the food of infant children."—(Mr. J. H. Johnstone.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * MR. LONG
I do hope that my hon. friend will not think it necessory to press this Amendment for reasons which I will very shortly give. He has stated quite accurately that I am aware of the fact that a great deal of mischief is done by giving food of tins kind to young children. I should be very glad indeed if I could see my way in a Bill of this kind to check a system of that sort, but I would point out to my hon. friend, in the first place, that his Amendment world not have the effect he desires, while it would have a disadvantageous effect with regard to the use of these labels. What we want is that there should be a proper descriptive name upon certain articles when they are sold, and if the label which carries that description is to be of any real value, that description must be of the briefest possible kind, in order that 1459 it may be perfectly clear. Many of the tins in which these articles are sold are very small, and there is very little room upon them to put anything in the way of a caution or explanation such as that suggested which will be easily seen But if you add to the actual description of the article certain precautionary words of advice, it will only tend to obscure the other description without gaining the result which you seek. After all, what would be the result of putting words like this on the labels? I am very much afraid from such inquiries as I have been able to make that the knowledge which my hon. friends seek to impart is already in possession of most of the people who use this particular article. I am afraid also that it would not in any way deter the use of this article by simply putting those words on the label. How far it may be desirable to interfere with the right of individuals to buy what they think best for their purpose, and which they demand is another matter, but I am sure in a case like this it would be undesirable to do what my hon. friend has proposed. I do not think that the House of Commons ought to make itself responsible for words of this kind unless the House is absolutely sure that a declaration of that kind can be made and relied upon. I am informed that while by itself this kind of milk is an undesirable form of food, if the deficiencies are made up, as they can be, then it is not an undesirable form of food. I think what we have proposed carries us as far as we ought to go, and I submit that even if the words suggested were adopted they would not achieve the object in view. Under the circumstances I hope my hon. friend will not think it necessary to press his Amendment to a division.
§ In reply to Mr. TOMLINSON (Preston),
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
said: I think the expression "separated" or "skimmed milk" will very soon get to be thoroughly understood by everyone, and I do think human ingenuity can invent any one word which will adequately convey this information.
§ MR. WARNER
Separated, or skim milk, may be very wholesome and nourishing, but it is not a right food for 1460 infants, because it lacks the butter fat. This is an Amendment that ought to be considered. A double name is put on a medicine bottle when there is poison in it—the word "poison," as well as the name of the medicine. Now, this substance is practically a poison to infants, and the House of Commons ought to protect them from being poisoned. Hon. Gentlemen who look upon this matter from the farmer point of view do not see its importance. I consider this one of the most important Amendments on the Bill yet submitted. I can understand that there are objections to the size of the label put on a tin, but nobody would say that the word "poison" should be left out because the tin is small. Milk is generally understood to be a proper food for children, and people buy this stuff because they think it is milk. It is not real milk, since it does not contain butter fat.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I have supported this Bill so far as I have thought it protected the public health, but I am surprised to find that when an Amendment is made which is directed to prevent the suffering and death of infants, the right hon. Gentleman should tell us that if these words are put on the label this milk would he bought more largely than it is. If that means anything it means that the wives of working men, who principally use this milk, intend to kill their children by administering to them this milk. That is a severe indictment.
§ * MR. LONG
I never suggested anything of the kind; that is a gross misinterpretation of my words. What I said was, that the words suggested by my hon. friend would not have the effect he desired; and I said that I believed the people who buy this milk know perfectly well that it is not the best food for infants, and if they could afford a better food for their children they would not buy this milk.
§ MR. MADDISON
Of course I do not wish to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, but his explanation amounts to the same thing. ("No, no.") What is the object of the hon. Member who moved this Amendment? He made it perfectly 1461 clear that it was to stop the sale of this milk for infants, and to warn parents against its use. The right hon. Gentleman says it will not have this effect, and that if persons buy milk bearing the label, "This milk is not for infants," they must buy it with very doubtful motives for their children. Does the right hon. Gentleman want to protect the health of the people? The very serious and appalling effects which follow the use of this milk have been pointed out, and all that the right hon. Gentleman says is that the true description of the article would take up too much room on the label. The Amendment is a rational one; it will not interfere with ordinary trading, and is directed to save infantile life; and I hope the hon. Gentleman will press it to a Division. I wish to ask the Solicitor-General, on behalf of the Health Committee of the Sheffield Town Council, whether the phrase "Condensed milk" would legally apply to preserved milk.
§ MR. BARTLEY
We have just settled to make it a criminal offence to put more butter into margarine, thereby making it better margarine than before. The hon. Gentleman asks that the label should really describe what is contained in the tin, and the right hon. Gentleman refuses to accept that Amendment. Surely it would be much more logical to say that this separated milk should not be sold for children than that margarine should not be sold because it was improved by the addition of butter. I am anxious that this Bill should be passed in the interest of justice and fairplay, but it seems to me, if we are going into these extraordinary anomalies, it would be better not to have the Bill at all.
§ MR. STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
The effect of this Amendment of the hon. Member for Sussex will be that people who buy this milk will do so with their eyes open. I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman says it will not have the slightest effect at all. We know that these things are bought by the poor, who think they are all right. When they buy a tin marked "Condensed Milk," they are not aware that it is only skim milk. This is not a purely agricultural question. Medical evidence has proved that large numbers of children 1462 have been poisoned owing to the fact that they were fed on this stuff, which is not milk at all, but merely chalk and water. I most ardently support the Amendment.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
Many of us do not altogether agree with the terms of the Amendment, but I would ask my right hon. friend whether he would repeat the undertaking now which he gave on a former occasion, that he would consider this question.
§ * MR. LONG
I did say I would do my best to find words which would convey the warning we all desire to convey. I will do my best to find such words. Some of my hon. friends tell me that they do not despair of finding words which would convey the necessary information. If they can assist me, nothing would give me more pleasure than to insert such words between now and the consideration of the Bill in another place.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
So long as the House was dealing with the clauses relating to margarine and butter I did not feel myself called upon to take any part in the discussion, because I believe that both margarine and butter are excellent things, and if a man got one instead of the other he might be swindled, but he would not be ruined in health. But now we are dealing with a matter which means ruin to the health of the most helpless part of the community; this milk, bad milk, would certainly have most dangerous effects if given to children. I would impress on the right hon. Gentleman not to proceed in the way he appears to be going, for the sake of being too pedantic about the words which should be used. All the galaxy of talent he has around him has apparently been brought into play in order to find words which would express the desired warning. My hon. friend below the gangway has some words on the Paper, but they are supposed to be objectionable.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I cannot believe that there are any practical difficulties in the way of putting words on the label, however small, which would tell the people who buy this article for the purpose of giving it to children what they are buying. If they buy skim milk, let them know by written words on the tin, or vessel, that it is skim milk. I only press on the right hon. Gentleman not to be too fastidious. Even if the label is small it would hold words enough to express all that we desire to express.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
; My hon. friend would be satisfied if the label contained the words, "Not suitable for infant children." All that this Amendment commits the House to is the principle that the label should contain a warning that this food is unfit for infant children. The right hon. Gentleman I am very glad to say has accepted the principle of the Amendment, and I would ask him that he should accept the Amendment as it stands.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
The whole point is that poor people buy this skim milk without knowing that it has been skimmed, and they use it to feed their infants. Now I have an Amendment on the Paper which I think would meet the case, that on each label there should be these words, "This milk should not be used as food for infants." Could anything be simpler than that?
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE
All that we want is a statement that the milk is not fit for the food of infant children.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, North)
Will the right hon. Gentleman accept the word "Infanticide"? That would consort with brevity, which we are told always commends itself to this House. Poor people who buy this milk do not understand what is meant by "separated milk."
§ MR. LOUGH
I want to say a word in assistance of the Government. I really think that having got an assurance from 1464 the right hon. Gentleman, with the approbation of the Leader of the Opposition, he would consider this matter; we are wasting our time in trying to devise the exact form of a label. I would suggest that the hon. Gentleman should withdraw this particular Amendment.
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE
After the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman, I ask the leave of the House to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I have some hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept my Amendment. I think I am right in saying that he undertook when the Bill was upstairs to consider whether some modification of the extreme penalty enacted in Sub-section 2 should not be considered between that period and the Report stage of the Bill. I contend that this sub-section imposes a punishment which is an outrage upon the most elementary ideas of justice. The clause says:Where, under any provision of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, a person guilty of an offence is liable to a fine which may extend to £20, he shall be liable for a second offence under the same provisions to a fine not exceeding £50, and for any subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding £100.Now a fine of £100 is surely a most deterrent punishment in itself, but we have to consider also the disgrace of a conviction in open court along with the infliction of this fine. Then there is the injury done to the business and credit of the offender in being condemned before the public and before his own customers, and surely these are matters that ought to be considered when we are contemplating punishment under this clause. This consequential penalty is not considered in the clause at all, but it must enter into the element of justice in our consideration of the clause and its effect. For a third offence a person may be sent to prison for negligence for a period of three months. I maintain that that is a very outrageous punishment. Surely it is as unreasonable as it is unjust to send a man to undergo the terrible disgrace of imprisonment for 1465 an act of negligence. I contend that no person is made honest by being sent to prison; on the contrary, it very often happens that the opposite result is the effect, and I feel so strongly on this point that I shall divide the House upon it unless I receive from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that he will accept my Amendment.
In page 6, line 36, to leave nut sub-section 2 of Clause 16."—(Mr. Davitt.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'negligence,' in line 39, stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
The hon. Member must be aware that this clause was not in the Bill as it originally stood, but was introduced in Committee in consequence of the strong feeling that was evinced that in the case of a third offence, due to the personal act, default, or negligence of the person charged, there should be some power given to the court beyond that of inflicting a fine. The House will observe that the sub-section is carefully guarded. Not only is it subject to the limitation I have pointed out, but the punishment of imprisonment does not necessarily follow. All that is given is power to inflict imprisonment if the court is of opinion that a fine will not meet the case.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I find myself bound to support my hon. friend the Member for South Mayo in proposing the omission of this sub-section. I have two reasons for doing so. In the first place, I do not think the Solicitor-General has attached sufficient importance to the main point of my hon. friend—namely, that in addition to the fine which is imposed upon a firm for a breach of the provisions of this Act there is added the enormous additional sentence of public disrepute. If you were to go to one of these large firms and ask them to choose between a fine of £1,000 and exposure in all the papers of the country for an offence under this Act, it would be found that there is not one large firm which would not willingly 1466 prefer to pay £2,000, or even £3,000. That is my first reason for supporting the Amendment. I now come to my second reason. These large firms have a very large number of employees under their control, and a very large number of places of business. Take a firm like Lipton's, for instance. This is a firm, I suppose, which can count its shops by the hundred, and its employees by the thousand. We know that in a large business like this there are men of all kinds of character. I am glad to think that the majority of them are men of good character, desirous of doing their duty by their employers; but in a large body like this there must necessarily be men who are not honest, who are extremely malignant, and who, for good reasons or bad, bear a great deal of animosity against their employers, animosity which only wants an opportunity to be brought out. We know that in the great firm of Whiteley there was a certain amount of dissatisfaction amongst some section of the employees, with the result that several times in quick succession a portion of the premises was burnt down, and I believe I am correct in saying that no insurance office in the country could be persuaded to insure the premises of this firm, because it had been discovered that there was so much ill-feeling against the firm that the premises were always liable to incendiarism on the part of some of the employees. Anybody who has been in the position of having a large number of servants in his employ must know that he is constantly made responsible for acts for which he has no responsibility except of a purely technical character. I have frequently had to pay many hundreds and sometimes many thousands of pounds in consequence of the publication in newspapers with winch I was associated of paragraphs or articles of which I not only did not approve but most strongly disapproved, but which were inserted in my absence. After all, however, the number of persons employed in newspaper offices is small compared with the number of persons employed in large businesses all over the country. I am quite sure that, with all the safeguards in the sub-section, it would open the way to malignant vindictiveness on the part of some sections of employees towards the large firms of which I have spoken. I think the imposition of these cumulative penalties, with the far greater and more 1467 damaging penalty of exposure in the newspapers, is quite sufficiently vindictive without adding imprisonment to the sentence.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
I rise to support the Amendment, and I do so not merely for the reasons mentioned by previous speakers, but because the sub-section would put to prison one man for the offence of another. The right hon. Gentleman said that the offence is for the personal act, default, or negligence of the individual charged. Well, it is rather a large order to give a man three months' imprisonment for personal negligence unless it is culpable negligence. Adulteration injurious to health is already punishable by imprisonment under the Adulteration Act of 1875, and I submit that it is not necessary to have any new penalties for that offence. Where a man is not personally responsible he should not be made criminally liable for the acts of others.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
I must express my astonishment at the hopelessly undemocratic nature of the sentiments of the hon. Member for South Mayo, who, in moving his Amendment, showed such a great desire to protect the great distributors. There can be no question of negligence whereby the conditions suppose that a man for the third time commits the same offence. Everybody who has had experience of the administration of the law knows that in a great number of cases there is the greatest difficulty in getting the court to impose a maximum fine. There is only one way of dealing with a case such as this, and that is to place on the Statute Book some clear indication that there are cases in which the court of summary jurisdiction call do something beyond imposing a fine, and deal with the rich tradesman who would rather pay £1,000 than go to prison.
§ MR. LOUGH
thought the House ought not to go to the extreme length suggested in Section 2. Too severe penalties defeated their own object. Some of the crimes, moreover, were very slight. For instance, they actually proposed to make it possible to commit a man to prison for improving 1468 the quality of food. To leave it to the discretion of a judge or magistrate to put people into prison for the offences specified in the Act was, he thought, a very strong order indeed, and one which they should hesitate before adopting. It was all very well to say that these "crimes" could not be committed without personal knowledge, but a dozen could be committed without the person directly responsible knowing anything about it. He therefore hoped hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side would try to induce the Government to reconsider this matter.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
supported the sub-section, as he was very anxious that the public should be protected. The clause already protected the honest trader as much as any clause possibly could. The magistrate ought to ask himself: "What is the use of inflicting a fine? The defendant simply snaps his fingers at it."
§ MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
This Amendment is certainly one of the most important proposals laid before the House in connection with this Bill. There is a well-defined principle in criminal jurisprudence which relegates all questions of negligence to the civil courts and all questions of criminal intent to the criminal courts. This clause proposes to obscure that distinction and to make questions of negligence strictly and entirely criminal offences. I know it is said "But it is not for the first offence that the negligent person is to be made liable for imprisonment; three acts of negligence must be recorded against him before he is made liable for hard labour." Three acts of negligence in a business in which there may be hundreds of transactions a day or hour! There are very few traders indeed who are not in some measure careless.
§ MR. ROBSON
An hon. Member says "Oh." All I can say is, that anyone who is suprised at the carelessness of the trader knows but little of trading. There is nothing more simple and easy than carelessness both in manufacturing and trading operations. Increase the amount 1469 of the fine if you like, and make the penalty large enough to absorb the whole of the profit which the adulterating trader is said to make, but do not make carelessness criminal. To make criminal the carelessness of the trader is, I venture to say, an outrageous proposal. I have been accustomed to many constitutional innovations in the sphere of criminal jurisprudence, but none more startling than this. The probability is, however, that the clause wilt defeat its own purpose. You will not get magistrates, when a fellow-creature is threatened with loss of character and life-long disgrace, to inflict this extreme and altogether inappropriate penalty. It is a disgrace to put such a clause upon the Statute Book. It is not usual, either in this country or any other, to make negligence a crime. I should like to know from what law the hon. and learned Member borrows the proposition that three acts of negligence should be equal to one crime. What a remarkable legal equation this is! I fail to see that any number of acts of negligence however great, however serious, and however properly punished by extreme penalties, can be made equal to the smallest crime. I might reasonably have expected to see the Solicitor-General defending criminal jurisprudence instead of becoming a party with the Minister for Agriculture to such a remarkable observation of the law. It is not, moreover, easy to see on the face of the clause what are the precise offences to be punished. I have looked into the Sale of Food and Drugs Act of 1875. That Act makes punishable certain offences with fines, and provides that the offenders shall be punished by imprisonment, but it makes one very important exception which is lacking in this Act. By Section 6 of the Act of 1875 it is provided that the penal section—i.e., the section inflicting criminal punishment—shall not apply if it be shown that there is an absence of knowledge on the part of the person accused. In that Act you have the very safeguard for which we are contending in this Act. It would have been much simpler if in looking to the Act of 1875 in order to strengthen the existing penalties the draughtsman had picked out from that Act the precise offences to which this new penalty is intended to apply. That, however, is a matter of detail. I have risen more especially to draw the atten- 1470 tion of the House to Sub-section 2 of Clause 16, which is far more important than the questions of margarine and condensed milk, and I hope the Conservative instinct of hon. Members on the opposite side will be aroused against the alteration of the law as proposed in this sub-section.
MR. GRANT LAWSON (Yorks, N.R., Thirsk)
I think my hon. and learned friend who has just sat down cannot practise very much in the criminal courts, otherwise he would have known that negligence is already a crime. Let a father or mother neglect their child, and see whether they do not fall under the Acts for the Protection of Children. I think my hon. and learned friend has not read the sub-section with great care. He said that a man might be sent to prison if on three occasions he allowed one of his employees to be guilty of negligence. That penalty, however, is only to be imposed if, in the opinion of the court, a fine does not meet the necessities of the case. I have great confidence in the way in which the law is administered in this country, and I do not think that a man would be sent to prison for some trifling neglect on the part of his employee. In some cases men make such profits by the sale of margarine and butter that they do not care for fines.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield attributed to my hon. friend the Member for South Mayo a desire to shield the great distributors. For my part I have no desire, in supporting the Amendment, to protect the great distributors. The great distributors are very well able to take care of themselves. They always have the best legal advice, and it is not with any desire to stand between them and the law that I am supporting this Amendment. I am looking at the matter from the point of view of the small trader, in comparison with whom the large distributor will be in a position of great advantage. In the first place, may I point out that it will always be possible for the great distributor, the man who has an abundance of funds at his back, to appeal from the conviction of the Court of Summary Jurisdiction to Quarter Sessions, whereas a poor man, although technically having the same right, will practically be excluded from 1471 taking full advantage of the law? It is difficult to ascertain, upon the spur of the moment, what will be the precise effect of this very drastic provision, but I believe that any man who sold for the third time margarine containing more than 10 per cent. of butter would be liable to imprisonment for three months. It is said, of course, on the other side, that we must rely upon the discretion of the court. We have been told that the section is carefully guarded, and it is perfectly true that the section says that imprisonment must only be awarded if the court is of opinion that a fine will not meet the necessities of the case. The hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded me said that we have confidence in the administration of justice. Admitting, and admitting as I do most cordially, that the public have confidence, as a rule, in the way in which justice is administered in this country, can we feel confidence in this particular case? I hope I am not saying anything which may give reasonable offence to the House, but a great deal of very strong feeling has been exhibited in relation to the offences with which this Bill will deal, and the justices who, in their discretion, will have to award imprisonment are drawn precisely from that class of society from which gentlemen are drawn who sit on that side of the House. Admitting, therefore, in general that we may fairly rely on the just administration of the law, I must say there is some reason to fear that prejudice may enter into the administration of this Act. I should like to ask a question which might change my attitude towards this portion of the Bill. Would the Government be willing to accept the Amendment, which stands later on the Paper, giving to the offender who, if convicted, would be liable to imprisonment, the right to demand trial by jury? If that concession were made by the Government it would certainly alter my attitude towards this clause, and I think before we vote upon it we have a right to know at what decision the Government have arrived in regard to it.
§ * MR. LONG
The Government cannot accept the Amendment to which the hon. Member refers, because it would alter the general law. It is not the case that these proposals represent a new departure in legislation. There is more than one 1472 precedent for it. Even the ingenuity of the hon. and learned Member could not draw a distinction between the section of an Act which gives the court the right to impose six months' imprisonment without the option of a fine, where the offence is one for exposing and offering for sale articles unfit for food, or fruit unfit for consumption. It not only gives the court power, without the option of a fine, to impose imprisonment for six months for the sale of unsound meat or unsound fruit, but the London Public Health Act of 1891 says that punishment may be inflicted for the first offence.
§ MR. ROBSON
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that there is no distinction between the case of exposing meat unfit for human consumption where the person charged knows it is to be such, and the offences under this Bill?
§ * MR. LONG
I am astonished at the hon. and learned Member's question. Even in the course of the past week there has been a notorious case mentioned in the newspapers, in which a defendant was charged with this offence, and in which he pleaded that he was not only not a party to the transaction, but that one of his own servants brought the matter under the notice of the officer of health. In the phraseology of the clause there is every protection for the honest trader or for the unfortunate man charged without being personally negligent or guilty. The clause was inserted in the Grand Committee in consequence of the almost unanimous opinion expressed during the debate on the Second Reading.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
I think the question of sending a man to prison is much too serious a question to be discussed with any feeling on either side of the House. I should be glad if Her Majesty's Government could see their way to take out this clause, which they did not themselves think wise to insert, but which was inserted by the Grand Committee, a body which I cannot acknowledge thoroughly represented the views of the House of Commons. I have no wish to defend in any way the big trader, who has 500 or 600 shops—he is a man who is perfectly able to take care 1473 of himself—but I think we ought to consider the question of the small trader, who often cannot obtain good legal advice, and is a somewhat ignorant person. He is, however, very valuable in the country. He does a great part of our local work, and we ought to protect him from any injustice. I consider we are running the risk of inflicting upon this class of the community, against whom there is a considerable amount of vague prejudice, which, I am certain, is far from being justified, a very serious and grave injury. I would, therefore, ask Her Majesty's Government to consider carefully whether they cannot strike out of the Act the words which they themselves did not wish to see inserted.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
It seems to me that Her Majesty's Government have made out no case for the insertion of this provision. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that they had abundant evidence upstairs to justify the course which they are now pursuing. I have listened carefully to this Debate, and I have heard no evidence whatever to justify such a clause as is now proposed being carried into law. I have had sonic little experience in administering the Food and Drugs Act for the last eleven years, having served upon a committee in one of the most populous counties of the country, and I do not call to mind a single case where any individual has ever been found guilty of an offence on two or three occasions. There are, however, occasionally cases where a repeated offence occurs of a publican watering spirits. But to send a man to gaol for three months, as is proposed in this sub-section, is a penalty altogether inappropriate to the offence. If a case did occur in which an individual adulterated an article on three different occasions, I feel quite sure that public opinion would resent such adulteration, and that the offender would suffer in addition to the fine which might be imposed upon him. On these grounds I propose to vote against the clause.
§ * MR. MADDISON
As I intend to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Mayo, I feel it is necessary for me to explain my position, especially after the remark of the right hon. Gentleman 1474 who represents another division of Sheffield. He twitted my hon. friend with being undemocratic. Well, I hardly think that charge will have much weight in this House, for he does not often err in that direction. But if my right hon. friend has suddenly turned Democrat, I want to know whether he is prepared to extend this sort of legislation to the railway director, who, year after year, in spite of reports of Board of Trade inspectors, keeps the shunting-yard dark and kills men yearly. Is he prepared to commit to prison the slum landlord, who, generation after generation, has slowly but surely murdered people, and made a fortune in doing it? I approach an Amendment of this sort with all my natural prejudices in favour of the Bill. I have been engaged for some portion of my life in opposing—and, as I think, rightly—the unjust exactions of employers largely brought under this sub-section. But it is not a question of democracy at all; it is a question of justice. I agree with my hon. friend that this is a vindictive proposal, and I will oppose vindictive legislation whether it is directed against men struggling to be free in Ireland, or strikers, or any other class of the community. I certainly did think that there was a difference between the case quoted by the right hon. Gentleman and many of the offences which will be brought under this Bill. To expose meat, obviously bad, or fruit, is a very different thing from some of the offences specified in this Bill. I agree with my hon. friend the Member for Bethnal Green that this is not a question of the big trader at all. Does any hon. Member think that if a firm of reputation happened to be implicated in some offence under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, that Sir Thomas Lipton, for instance, for the third offence would be given three mouths' "hard"? There is a pretence of democracy in this Bill which is a sham from beginning to end. If it confined itself to such atrocious offences as that of killing innocent babies with skimmed milk I would support the right hon. Gentleman's proposal for imprisonment if it were three years instead 1475 of three months. But the offences under this Bill are of a technical kind. I hope people will break the law. I hope, for instance, they will not confine their margarine to 10 per cent. of butter fat; I want the poor of this country to have the very best bargains. I think that a sub-section like this ought not to be passed, because the Bill is not a measure containing grave offences only, but offences which are purely technical offences, and which I do not regard, and a great many other Members do not regard, as offences at all, unless it has become an offence under a Conservative Government to make an article better. I shall vote for my hon. friend's Amendment because the Bill as it stands brings within the meshes of the law people who, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, are not criminals at all.
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Walsall)
I hope the Government will stand by the clause, because I wish to see the same law for the rich as for the poor. If a rich man is fined £50 he can pay it, and it represents no punishment, but if a poor man is fined 5s. for neglecting to send his child to school he very frequently has to go to prison.
§ * MR. DUCKWORTH (Lancashire, Middleton)
I am sorry this Debate has gone away from the main purpose of the Bill. This is not a party measure at all, and I think it is a mistake to introduce into it party motives and feelings. The first object of this Bill is to protect the public against adulteration, the second is not to interfere in any way with legitimate business, and the third is not to harass or annoy the honest trader. I have no party feeling in this matter, and the Votes which I have given in Committee were not given for party motives but to carry out what I conceived to be the object of right hon. Gentlemen in charge of the Bill, which was if not entirely to do away with adulteration to make it next to impossible in the future for it to be perpetrated 1476 in connection with margarine or butter. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool brought before us the wrong that would be done to a person, so far as his character is concerned, if he were brought before a magistrate and sent to prison. But what about the man who has no character? I am most strongly convinced that if you do not retain this clause in the Bill the worst possible criminals will escape, because fines will have no effect on them whatever, and they will not cease to carry on fraud. Let me give a case which is very well known in the trade. A firm has been hunted from two places where they were fined repeatedly. They remained in one locality and sold margarine for butter until the place got too hot for them, and then they moved to the second place and remained there until it got too hot also, and now they are in the third place, and since this Bill went into Committee they have been fined again. That is the kind of fraud we want to stop, and those are the kind of criminals we want to get hold of. What is the use of discussing this Bill, if you allow the worst criminals to escape? The right hon. Gentleman made up his mind, earnestly and sincerely, that he would stop this fraud, but it can only be done in this way. I know that I am going against some of my friends and against some associations in supporting the clause, and I am told if this Bill passed I might be brought before the magistrates in less than a fortnight. It would be cowardly on my part to allow such a fraud to go on without stating my view upon it, and speaking in defence of the Bill.
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
It appears to me that the penalty under this clause will only be inflicted on the small shopkeeper. I think it would be almost impossible to bring home a case of adulteration to the proprietor of a large number of shops, or to the directors of a limited liability company. Who are you going to imprison when you summon 1477 a board of directors? Is it to be only the chairman, or would the entire board be imprisoned? This clause will only apply to the small shopkeeper who conducts his own business in one shop, and I think it is extremely hard that small retailers should be subject to imprisonment when their competitors, with enormous capital at their command, cannot possibly be
§ brought under this law. I think it is not fair to pass a measure by which the small shopkeeper will be placed in a worse position than his wealthy rival.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 188; Noes, 71. (Division List, No. 287.)1479
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mncr.||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Asher, Alexander||Finch, George H.||M'Killop, James|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bagot, Capt Josceline FitzRoy||Fisher, William Hayes||Manners, Lord Edward Wm. J.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Bird, John George Alexander||FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Balcarres, Lord||Garfit, William||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manc'r)||Gedge, Sydney||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.)||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouthsh.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Bill, Charles||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Myers, William Henry|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goschen, Rt Hn G J (St. George's||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Brassey, Albert||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gretton, John||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Gull, Sir Cameron||Parkes. Ebenezer|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Gunter, Colonel||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Burns, John||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)|
|Butcher, John George||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hardy, Laurence||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh)||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Henderson, Alexander||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol)||Priestley, Sir W Overend (Edin.|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hobhouse, Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Houston, R. P.||Rankin, Sir James|
|Chamberlain, J. Aust'n (Worc'r||Howell, William Tudor||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Chaplin, Right Hon. Henry||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matt. W.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Round, James|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Colston, C. E. H. Athole||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cook, F. Lucas (Lambeth)||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley)|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Keswick, William||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kilbride, Denis||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Sidebottom, William (Derbys.)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Knowles, Lees||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Lambert, George||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Curzon, Viscount||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Leigh- Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Digby, John K D. Wingfield-||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Strauss, Arthur|
|Doughty, George||Long, Rt. Hn Walter (Liverpool||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Duckworth, James||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Uni.|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Macaleese, Daniel||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Evershed, Sydney||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Macdona, John Cumming||Valentia, Viscount|
|Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)||Wyndham, George|
|Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Welby, Lieut-Col. A. C. E.||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Clackm.||Harwood, George||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||Randell, David|
|Billson, Alfred||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bond, Edward||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Horniman, Frederick John||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Burn, Thomas||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans.)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Caldwell, James||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U||Spicer, Albert|
|Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow)||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Langley, Batty||Strachey, Edward|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land||Tennant, Harold John|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Ure, Alexander|
|Colville, John||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Wallace, Robert|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lough, Thomas||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Crombie, John William||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||M'Crae, George||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Denny, Colonel||M'Ewan, William||Wilson, H. J. (Yorks, W. R.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||M'Ghee, Richard||Woods, Samuel|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (South'ton)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Mr. Davitt and Mr. Maddison.|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
The Amendment which I now move is proposed to mitigate somewhat the clause by inserting the word "culpable" before "negligence."
In Clause 16, page 6, line 39, after 'or' to insert 'culpable.'"—(Sir Charles Cameron.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE
The Amendment that I propose is that where a person has been convicted of an offence under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act within twelve months of a previous conviction, the Court may order that a notice of the facts be affixed to the premises of the occupier. This provision is taken verbatim from the Food and Drugs Act, 1887. I can only add that this course has been recommended by the Select Committee on the Adulteration of Food and Drugs, which thought that the effect of the proposal would be useful.
Amendment proposed in page 6, line 42, after the word "months," to insert the words—
(3)Where a person convicted of an offence under the Sale of Food and
Drugs Acts has been within twelve months previously convicted of another offence under those Acts the Court may, if it thinks fit and finds that he knowingly and wilfully committed both those offences, order that a notice of the facts be affixed in such form and manner and for such period, not exceeding twenty-one days, as the Court may order, to any premises occupied by that person, and that he do pay the costs of such affixing; and if any person obstructs the affixing of any such notice or removes, defaces, or conceals the notice while affixed during that period, he shall for each offence be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5."—(Mr. Heywood Johnstone.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
I hope that the House will come to the conclusion which has already been arrived at by the Grand Committee, that it is not desirable that this additional penalty should be imposed. It is perfectly true that the Select Committee recommended that it would be desirable that the offender should be pilloried, but it is obvious that that cannot be done without special power. Our 1481 courts of law, however, are open, and any interesting items of local news are well known. The Press advertise the fact of a conviction, and there is no necessity for entrusting the power to the courts to affix a notice of the conviction to the house or shop of the culprit—as, according to the hon. Member, is done in some foreign countries.
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE
I made no reference to foreign countries. What I said was, that a similar protection already exists on our own Statute Book.
§ MR. T.P. O'CONNOR
I have listened to the Solicitor-General with the greatest surprise, seeing that that hon. and learned Gentleman only two minutes ago insisted that an offender against this Act should be sent to prison. He says that it would be un-English to have the fact of a conviction against a dealer exhibited in his shop. This law has been in force for forty or fifty years in France, and the public have a right to demand that they should be warned by a notice in his shop that a fraudulent dealer has been convicted of fraudulent dealing. The only solid argument that the Solicitor-General used was that people have the opportunity of reading of the conviction in the newspapers. How many people read the newspapers? Not as many as I would desire. But, as a matter of fact, the people who read the newspapers from day to day are in a very small minority of the population, and even they scarcely ever read the convictions under an Act like this. But the Solicitor-General insists that a poor individual who rarely reads a newspaper except on a Sunday morning, when he has a couple of hours' leisure, is supposed to trace out and to know all the convictions under this Act. If the Amendment is accepted, all that he has got to do is to go to the shop and look at the window. If the dealer is a fraudulent dealer his customers are entitled to know that he is a fraudulent dealer, and he ought not to be protected from the consequences of his own fraud.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ * MR. J. A. PEASE
said he had been asked by the County Council of Durham to move the Amendment standing in his 1482 name. The object was two-fold—first, that the period should be inserted in the Bill within which the prosecution should take place, and second, that proceedings should date from the date when the proceedings commenced and not from the date of the warrant. It may be said that there should on the one hand be sufficient time for tests to be made, in order that the prosecution may secure evidence for their case; but if on the other hand the period is too long it is almost impossible to secure a conviction. Many grocers, traders, and druggists buy articles and keep them for many months in stock, and it is important that the proceedings should date from the time of the warranty and not from the time of the receipt of the articles in stock. He moved:
In page 7, line 11, after the words last inserted, to insert the words '(2) Any prosecution under section twenty-seven of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, may be instituted within twelve months from the time when the matter of such proceedings arose.'"—(Mr. Joseph. A. Pease.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment. The period of limitation under the present law was six months, and he could not see any sufficient reason for extending the period to twelve months.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. H. JOHNSTONE moved the Amendment standing in his name. The words which he proposed to omit were inserted in Grand Committee in the teeth of the opposition of the Government, and were carried by a somewhat narrow majority. It must be the opinion of all those who have had to do with the administration of the Adulteration Acts that the addition of these words would be most mischievous.
In page 7, line 20, to leave out the words from the beginning of Clause 19, to the words 'a warranty,' in line 23."—(Mr. J. H. Johnstone.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."1483
§ * MR. LONG
The question raised by the Amendment of my hon. friend is one of the not least difficult questions dealt with during the progress of this measure. The effect of my hon. friend's proposal would be to bring back the Bill to the condition in which it was when it passed the Second Reading and was sent up to the Grand Committee. The suggestion is that an invoice should be put in the same position as a warranty. As the House knows, the retail dealer who produces a warranty can plead the warranty as a sufficient answer to a charge of adulteration, and he is entitled to an acquittal. Under the Margarine Act an invoice is put in the same position as a warranty. But the Margarine Act is not an Adulteration Act at all. But, none the less, it has been used as a justification of this change. When we introduced the Bill into the House we believed that we were going to give to the invoice the same advantages as that of the warranty, and that that would be a warning to the distributors who would be affected under this clause. In the Committee upstairs, however, an Amendment moved by Mr. Webster, who was then a Member of the House, was carried by a majority of four, and that altered in this respect the character of the Bill. During the course of the Debate upstairs I said I would not myself take action to alter the Bill down here, and that I would not myself move an Amendment but should leave it to the House of Commons to decide whether or no this change should be made in the Bill. Since that date I have had, of course, a great many communications from various people on this subject. In fact, no part of the Bill seems to have received so much attention from the outside as this clause. Certainly all the evidence which reaches me goes to show that this change introduced into the Bill in Grand Committee, by Which an invoice is given the legal force of a warranty, will be attended with very great danger from the point of view of the successful detection and prosecution of the defendant. I have received communications from many local authorities, who all allege that the efficiency of the Act would be seriously imperilled in this respect. Therefore the demand of the wholesale dealer for protection of that kind seems to me to be fair. We have, from independent authorities, the same direction. I have communicated with the Home Office 1484 on the subject, and the Home Office state that the opinions they have obtained show that the result of retaining these words will be to render the administration of the existing law more difficult. The opinion of several of the London magistrates was that it would be a great misfortune if they were retained. One of the strongest expressions of opinion comes from the Journal of the Medical Officers of Health, which states that it hopes that Clause 19 as it now stands will be either amended or struck out. There is a very great concensus of opinion all pointing in one direction. These invoices are issued, I am informed, frequently by young apprentices, but if the clause is passed as it now stands that work will have to be performed in a very different way. It is asserted on behalf of retailers that it is difficult and almost impossible to obtain a warranty at present, because the retailers are under certain financial obligations to the wholesale houses. We all would regret to add any additional burden to men who conduct their business under such difficult circumstances, but that is not an argument with which to appeal to the House of Commons. Under all the circumstances I believe the Amendment of my hon. friend is in the right direction, and that it will be wiser and safer for us to return to the position in which the Bill originally stood, rather than adopt a provision which, however it be amended, exposes us to very great risk. Under these circumstances, while leaving this matter entirely to the decision of the House, I shall myself without doubt or hesitation support my hon. friend's Amendment.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)
I would not have taken part in this Debate at this hour were it not that from communications Which I have received I am convinced there is a great body of opinion in favour of making some kind of invoice, if not every invoice, a warranty. The way in which the matter has been put by the right hon. Gentleman is, I admit, extremely plausible, but let me put the contrary arguments used in the Grand Committee. Under the Act of 1875 it was thought right to make a provision to deal with tint case where man honestly bought articles of food or drugs which were afterwards found to be injurious, and with which he obtained an 1485 express warranty from the seller. I would ask the Solicitor-General how we are going to make a distinction between the case of an express warranty and the case of an invoice describing the goods. By the Sale of Goods Act, 1893, the description contained in the contract of sale was made for all purposes equivalent to an express warranty. Let me take a concrete case which may arise. Supposing I buy from a wholesale butter merchant one cask of best Danish butter; I write for the goods; he writes back stating that he has consigned to me one cask of best Danish butter, and he encloses the invoice. The invoice is a document which contains the words "one cask of Danish butter at so-and-so," with some discount allowance for cash, and below is the total amount it I have to pay. If, when I receive the consignment, the butter is not the best Danish butter, or if it be not butter at all, I have, under the Act of 1893, a right to reject the cask, and if I break the cask and proceed to sell its contents, and if an analyst discovers it is not batter at all but margarine, I have a right of action against the person who consigned it. There is no suggestion that I have been negligent in entering into that civil contract. That is the way in which most of our contracts are made, for the simple reason that in business the general conclusion is that a man is honest. That has been the great principle of our law. If I have a right against the seller of this butter under that Act, why should I be placed in a worse position now? That is the question which is exercising the minds of retail dealers in this country. From communications I have received from associations of traders in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, this matter is rightly or wrongly regarded as vital to their business. I do not see anything in the argument against a proper invoice being recognised as an express warranty. Why should a grocer in Swansea, dealing for years with a particular firm, be put to the trouble of writing for an express warranty? The firm might say, "We give you very good terms, but if you impertinently ask us for a warranty, we must make our methods of business very different." These are new offences, and in dealing with these matters we should not go on the presumption that men are dishonest, but go on the time-honoured principle of business that men 1486 are willing to speak the truth and to behave honestly. I respectfully protest against the action of the Government on this occasion. One qualification I must, however, make. I do not think an invoice standing alone is sufficient. Even if the principle were granted, the wording of the invoice would not be sufficient. With that qualification, and dealing with the matter on principle, and not from a party point of view, I would ask the House to reject the Amendment.
§ SIR. CHARLES CAMERON
I also urge the same view as that expressed by my hon. and learned friend. The principle of invoices is not confined in the Sale of Goods Act or to the Margarine Act. The Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs Act of 1893 constituted an invoice a warranty, because that was the only possible way to prevent the adulteration of feeding stuffs. The doctrine of warranty in that Act is so far extended that even any circular describing goods is held to have the effect of a warranty. That is the way the Board of Agriculture protected the purity of feeding stuffs and fertilisers, and it appears to me that every argument which led to the adoption of that procedure in that Act applies also to the present Bill, with of course any needed modifications. The right hon. Gentleman said that retailers have a right to ask for a warranty, but my hon. and learned friend has pointed out how very injurious and inconvenient that would be in many cases. These hucksters buy in very small quantities, and it would be very difficult to obtain a formal written warranty in every case. They should be entitled to buy with an implied warranty, and I am sure the provision in the Feeding Stuffs and Fertilisers Act would work equally well in this Act.
§ MR. BRYCE
It seems to me that this is mainly a question which is within the knowledge of those who are engaged in trade and of those who administer the law as magistrates, and who come into contact with the difficulties which arise. One thing is quite clear, and that is that the clause ought not to stand exactly in its present form. The word "invoice" is a very vague and might be a very misleading term. The question might also arise as to whether particular documents are or are not invoices, and it would be easy to evade the matter by sending a statement 1487 of goods in some other form. I think it would be inadvisable to let the substance of the matter turn on the word "invoice." We should have some words conveying a description of quality, whether in the form of an invoice or in some other form. In that respect the clause clearly requires amendment. On the substance of the point—namely, whether or not a description stating the quality of the goods should carry an implied warranty with it we are abreast of an extremely difficult question. One would like to know what the experience of the working of the somewhat similar provision in the Margarine Act has been, and whether it facilitated the discovery of fraud. We are all agreed on putting down fraud, and the question is to discover it whether in the retailer or the wholesaler. I should have thought that one of the greatest difficulties in administering these Acts and the one which led to the introduction of the present Bill is the reluctance of local authorities to prosecute and magistrates to convict. That largely arises from the fact that they feel that the retailer is not really the guilty party, and that he must take whatever goods he gets, and therefore the local authorities and the magistrates administer the law less vigilantly and stringently. The question is whether we will not meet that difficulty if we get to the fountainhead and source of the evil—the wholesale dealer. I should have thought that, by the use of proper words, the wholesale dealer could be got at, and when once he is got at you effect more than by striking at a thousand retailers. I am rather inclined to think we had better leave the Bill as it stands.
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
I confess I feel that there is a great deal of force in the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite; but since the matter was before the Grand Committee, we have had a great deal of evidence which I admit has produced a great effect on my mind. If the general opinion of those who are interested in the working of the Act, that its adoption would strike a very serious blow at the efficiency of the Act be correct, then I think we ought to pause before we make ourselves a party to any such enactment.
§ * MR. J. A. PEASE
My county council have gone very fully into this matter, and 1488 they approve of the Amendment. They would prefer that an invoice should not be regarded as a warranty, but if the word "invoice" is to be used at all as a warranty it ought to be guarded, and if the House approves of the suggestion, I will move to insert, after the word "invoice" the following words, taken from the Act of 1875, "stating the nature, substance, and quality."
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
I agree with my hon. and learned friend opposite that it would be very difficult for retailers dealing with wholesale houses to demand an express warranty. It is extremely probable that an invoice does not amount to a warranty, but there is sufficient authority to demand from the wholesale dealer a detailed invoice sufficiently descriptive of what he sells. To adopt the words of the hon. Member below me would be practically to exempt the wholesale dealer from the consequences of his fraudulent act.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
I hope the Government will accept the Amendment. The last man who sold an article to the consumer is the one who ought to be held responsible, and under no circumstances should that responsibility be held to be evaded. The decision of the Committee upstairs was more or less of a snatch vote, and I am very glad to see that the House of Commons is in a mood to reverse it.
§ GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
I trust the Amendment will be carried. Again and again it has been said that the local authorities will not do their duty, but if this clause is carried as it stands it will make it more difficult for them to do their duty. What is the use of us spending our time in trying to make this Bill workable as an Act if we are unable to enforce it?
§ MR. A. C. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomery)
If I am not very much mistaken, the invoices under the Feeding Stuffs Act are no protection whatever, and if any reliance is to be placed upon an invoice, it would be found that that reliance is entirely misplaced.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I think that the information given by the hon. Member who spoke last is scarcely accurate. I must say, from my experience, the Feeding Stuffs Act has worked extremely well. What the 1489 Government ought to do is to follow up the giver of the invoice, and pursue to conviction the wholesale dealer.
§ * MR. SPICER (Monmouth Boroughs)
I have no connection with the trade in food, but I do know something of the wholesale trade, and it seems to me that the Bill as it stands now is in favour of a retailer, and gives him proper protection, as against the wholesale dealer. On the other hand, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sussex seems to me to take away the
§ responsibility from the wholesale dealer, and to put undue responsibility on the retailer. I venture to say there will be no difficulty if the wholesale dealer knows that the invoice carries a warranty. The wholesale dealer ought to bear the responsibility, and he is able to look after himself. Believing that the Amendment would be unfair to the retailer, I shall vote against it.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 42; Noes, 119. (Division List, No. 288.)1491
|Asher, Alexander||Davitt, Michael||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Doughty, George||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn J. Blair (Clackm.||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J (Manch'r||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Billson, Alfred||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbt. John||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thompson|
|Bond, Edward||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Horniman, Frederick John||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hozier, Hon. J. Henry Cecil||Stanley, Edw. J. (Somerset)|
|Caldwell, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Strachey, Edward|
|Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-und.-L.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Bir.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||M'Crae, George||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Colville, John||Manners, Lord Edw. Wm. J.||TELLERS FOE THE AYES—Mr. Brynmor Jones and Mr. Spicer.|
|Cooke, C. W. R (Hereford)||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dillon, John||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Doogan, P. C.||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Duckworth, James||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Dyke. Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Evershed, Sydney||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Finch, George H.||M'Killop, James|
|Bathurst, Hon Allen B.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bethell, Commander||Fisher, William Hayes||Melville, Beresford V.|
|Bill, Charles||Garfit, William||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gedge, Sydney||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G J (St George's||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Carlile, William Walter||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Purvis, Robert|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Hardy, Laurence||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hobhouse, Henry||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cochrane, Hn. T. H. A. E.||Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Colston, C. E. H. Athole||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Keswick, William||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Knowles, Lees||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lambert, George||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Laurie, Lieut-General||Stirling-Maxwell. Sir John M.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf. Univ.|
|Thornton, Percy M.||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)||Wyndham, George|
|Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Williams, Colonel R (Dorset)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Ure, Alexander||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Valentia, Viscount||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-||Mr. Heywood Johnstone and Mr. John Burns.|
|Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.||Wylie, Alexander|
§ MR. BRYCE
I appeal to the Government to let us go home now. We have made very considerable progress with the discussion of the Bill, and the Government did not expect that they would get the Bill through to-night. When the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House got the additional time, he implied that he would not ask the House to sit very late.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I am quite aware that the Government could not in the present circumstances long resist the appeal that has just been made. I, however, appeal to hon. Members in their own interests to finish the Bill. There is nothing left of it of any importance whatever, and it might be finished in a short time.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE
I have an Amendment which is of considerable importance, and I believe the Government are prepared to accept it. I beg to move.
In page 7, line 30, after the word 'person,' to insert the words, 'Where the defendant in a prosecution under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts has been discharged under the provisions of Section 25 of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, or of Section 7 of the Margarine Act, 1887, as respectively amended by this Act, any proceedings under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts for giving the warranty
§ or invoice relied on by the defendant in such prosecution may be taken as well before a Court having jurisdiction in the place where the article of food or drug to which the warranty or invoice relates was purchased for analysis as before a Court having jurisdiction in the place where the warranty or invoice was given.'"—(Mr. Joseph A. Pease.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
This is a most important Amendment. I rather think I sympathise with it, but it is not on the Paper.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
The phraseology is everything. Does the right hon. Gentleman expect us to discuss the wisdom of the phraseology? That is not the proper way to conduct business. I move that the Debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made and Question put—"That the Debate be now adjourned."—Sir Charles Cameron.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 28; Noes, 113. (Division List No. 289.)1493
|Asher, Alexander||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Horniman, Frederick John||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Ure, Alexander|
|Colville, John||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Lambert, George||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Davitt, Michael||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Crae, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Duckworth, James||Oldroyd, Mark||Sir Charles Cameron and Mr. Caldwell.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. John||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man.)||Bethell, Commander|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Bill, Charles|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Blundell, Colonel Henry|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Bond, Edward|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Beach, Rt Hn Sir M. H.- (Bristol)||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-|
|Brassey, Albert||Goschen, Rt Hn G J (St. George's||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Burns, John||Gull, Sir Cameron||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hardy, Laurence||Purvis, Robert|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hobhouse, Henry||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ritchie, Rt Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Charrington, Spencer||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Keswick, William||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Knowles, Lees||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Talbot, Rt Hn. J G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (L'pool)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Doughty, George||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macdona, John Cumming||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Maclure, Sir John William||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||M'Killop, James||Wodehouse, Rt Hon E. R (Bath)|
|Evershed, Sydney||Malcolm, Ian||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward||Manners, Lord Edw. Wm. J.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Finch, George H.||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wyndham, George|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Milner, Sir Frederick George||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Fisher, William Hayes||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
Question put and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE
This is a long Amendment which I did not understand as the hon. Member read it. It may be a very good Amendment, but at this hour of the morning we ought not to be asked to discuss an Amendment to such an important clause.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
In moving this Amendment I will only say that there have been many cases in which grocers have been fined for the technical offence of selling, for instance, a tin of syrup adulterated with glucose. It is utterly impossible for a grocer to know anything about the adulteration, and in one case in Scotland, although the grocer was fined, the Sheriff expressed the opinion that he was not morally guilty. It is a very important question.
In page 7, line 34, after the word 'so,' to insert the words: '(3) Where any article of food is sold in tins or bottles in which it has been packed by the manufacturer, a label affixed by the manufacturer or wholesale dealer to such tins or bottles setting forth the nature
of their contents, or a circular or advertisement setting forth the nature of the contents of such tins or bottles, and distributed along with them by the manufacturer or wholesale dealer, shall, for the purposes of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, be held to constitute a warranty.'"—(Sir Charles Cameron.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR R. B. FINLAY
I hope the House will not accept this Amendment. We have already decided by a large majority that the words constituting an invoice a warranty should be struck out. This proposal is even more sweeping, because it proposes that even a circular or an advertisement may constitute a warranty.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON
Would the right hon. Gentleman accept the Amendment without the words "circular or advertisement"?
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 30; Noes, 107. (Division List, No. 290.)1495
|Asher, Alexander||Duckworth, James||M'Crae, George|
|Bethell, Commander||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. John||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Bond, Edward||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Horniman, Frederick John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Caldwell, James||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Colville, John||Lambert, George||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Davitt, Michael||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Sir Charles Cameron and Mr. Provand|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.||More, Rbt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Evershed, Sydney||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouthsh.)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Fellowes, Hon Ailwyn Edwd.||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Baird, J. George Alexander||Finch, George H.||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Fisher, William Hayes||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gedge, Sydney||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Purvis, Robert|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir H. M. (Bristol||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Bill, Charles||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St Geo's.)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Gull, Sir Cameron||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Brassey, Albert||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Burns, John||Hardy, Laurence||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hobhouse, Henry||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Chamberlain, J. Aust'n (Worc'r||Keswick, William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Knowles, Lees||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw Murray|
|Charrington, Spencer||Laurie, Lieut-General||Ure, Alexander|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-L.)|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Lung, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Macartney, W G. Ellison||Wylie, Alexander|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Macdona, John Cumming||Wyndham, George|
|Curzon, Viscount||Maclure, Sir John William||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||M'Killop, James|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Malcolm, Ian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Doughty, George||Manners, Lord Edward W. J.||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I admit that if hon. Gentlemen desire it, they can occupy perhaps another half an hour, and under the circumstances I have no objection to the adjournment.
§ Further consideration, as amended, deferred till Monday next.