§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been called to a statement in the Press, that a quarter of the caper teas and half of the dust teas now imported should be confiscated under the Food and Drugs Act of 1875, by reason of their containing 20 per cent. of earthy matter and sand; whether he will explain the nature of the precautions taken by the Customs Department in London for the detection of such adulteration, and whether the number of samples analysed could be increased with advantage: and, whether, having regard to the fact that the descriptions of tea above named are for the most part consumed by the humbler classes least able to protect themselves against adulteration, he will increase the staff of inspectors especially allocated to the duties of sampling and analysis of caper and dust teas.
My attention has been called to this matter. The Board of Customs have, in view of representations made to them by certain firms and of statements in the Press, ordered a full inquiry to be made. It is not easy, within the limits of an answer to a 646 question, to explain the precautions taken by the Board for the detection of the adulteration of tea; but I shall be happy, if the hon. Member wishes it, to supply him with particulars. The Board of Customs, as at present advised, do not consider that there is any need for altering the existing regulations, but if, as a result of the investigation now in progress, it should appear advisable to make such alterations or to increase the number of tea inspectors, the necessary steps will he taken at once. Meantime a circular has been issued to the tea inspectors directing them to administer the existing regulations with special care.