Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question (6th March)—
That the Bill be now read a second time:"—
And which Amendment was—
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Lough.)
Question again proposed—
That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.
MR. PHILIPPS (Pembroke)
The feature of the opening Debate on this Bill, when it was introduced by the 331 President of the Board of Agriculture, was, I think, that the Bill was not warmly received in any quarter of the House. Now, Sir, I think the reason of that is very simple. The Bill is not a Bill that can create any enthusiasm among those who wish to strengthen the position of the consumer, as against the adulteration of food, and the Bill is not one that can, create any enthusiasm from the friends of the farming industry. Now, Sir, the President of the Board of Agriculture, when he was introducing this Bill, said that even if this Bill was passed as it stood, the law of the land as so amended would not be nearly as drastic on the subject of adulteration as were the laws of other countries. I can well believe it, because this Bill, if it became law, would do exceedingly little to make the law more drastic. All through his speech in introducing this Bill the President of the Board of Agriculture was talking of fraud, and there is no doubt—it is admitted on all hands, on both sides of the House—that the sale of margarine, as it is conducted at present, does undoubtedly lend itself largely to fraud, and it is used largely for the purpose of fraud. And in respect of that fact the President of the Board of Agriculture, in introducing the Bill, used mild phrases about being very reluctant to hinder trade: he would not stop the colouring of margarine for fear of hindering an innocent trade that supplied a most wholesome and excellent food. But, Sir, I should like the President of the Board of Agriculture to remember this, that when he is introducing a Bill like this he is defending the interests of two great classes. He is defending the interests of the consumers, and he is defending the interests of the farmers, and I must say I wish the right honourable Gentleman had taken in his speech some bolder tone. It was said by the honourable Member, sitting on this side of the House, who represents a Division of Glasgow that this Bill aimed at securing agricultural produce a monopoly. Well, Sir, I do not think it does, but what it aims at, although I do not think it effects its purpose—what it purports to do, is to secure agricultural produce a monopoly of sale as agricultural produce, and I do not see how any Member of this House can say that agricultural produce is not 332 entitled in justice to be the only thing sold to the consumer as agricultural produce. Now, to turn to the Bill itself. My contention is that this Bill is a very weak thing, that is going to do very little good to anybody. I turn to Clause 1 of the Bill. Clause 1 says that if margarine or margarine cheese is imported, except in packages marked as margarine or margarine cheese, or, being adulterated or impoverished before, is imported, except in packages showing what is contained therein, or if condensed, separated, or skimmed milk is imported in tins or other receptacles not bearing the words "separated" or "skimmed"milk—then in any of these cases the importer is to be fined. How much is he to be fined? For the first offence, a fine not exceeding £20— this, Sir, not being a fine of £20, but to be a fine not exceeding £20; it may be as low as you like, but it must not, be more than £20. For the second offence, it may not be more than £50, and for every subsequent offence it may not be more than £100. Now, it is admitted on all hands that if margarine is sold as butter the profit is very large indeed, and it is admitted that mixtures of margarine and butter cost something like 6d. a pound and largely sell at 1s. 2d. a pound. Well, a man who is fraudulently selling stuff he gets for 6d. for 1s. 2d., and doing that every day of the week, is making such profits that if once or twice in a year he is lined £100 it will mean very little out of his pocket. He could well go on repeating the offence. It is well known that men who commit fraud of this kind are detected, not every time they commit it, but only once in very many times. What I submit to the Government is this: Let them, after the first and second offence, at any rate, do away with fines; let them sentence a fraudulent importer to imprisonment instead of tine. If some of these respectable people who defraud the poor were sent to prison instead of being fined, then I think it would be a very fine example, and would be doing a great deal to keep trade pure. That is not done in this Bill. Well then, Sir, I turn to another clause, Clause 7 of the Bill. In that clause it is proposed to compel a manufacturer of margarine, or a wholesale dealer in margarine, to keep a register with certain particulars, and if he fraudulently omits to enter any par- 333 ticular—and I should like the House to remember it is not a case of mere careless action—which this Bill orders him to enter, what is to be done with him.? He is to be fined, and the fine is not to be more than £10. That is from the Government which is strengthening the law against fraud, and in this particular case there is no punishment more than a maximum fine of £10. I ask, What is that going to do to stop fraud.? Then take clause 11, which is perhaps the weakest clause in a weak Bill. By clause 11 it is enacted that every tin or other receptacle containing condensed, separated, or skimmed milk must bear a label on which the words "separated" or "skimmed" milk are printed in large type, and if any person otherwise sells or offers for sale condensed or skimmed milk—what is he to be fined? A fine not exceeding £2. Well, Sir, it may be said you stop a poor milkman in the street when he is selling skimmed milk once in a way, and it is quite enough to fine him £2; but we all know that the man who sells skimmed milk for real milk is not found out every time, is not detected even time. It is only once, perhaps, in one hundred times that he is detected. I venture to say this is one of the cruellest frauds that can be committed. There are numbers of ignorant people in the country who do not know that milk from which the cream has been extracted is not enough to supporf the life of children, and numbers of children in this country are fed, or rather starved, on milk from which the natural fat has been removed. And yet this form of cheating, which is one of the cruellest forms of cheating you can have, is by this bold Government proposed to be punished by a maximum fine of £2. Why, it ought to be punished with imprisonment. Then I want to call the attention of the Government to another matter, to clause 2 of the Bill. By clause 2 of the Bill the Government may, in relation to any matter apnearing to the Board of Agriculture to affect the general interests of agriculture in the United Kingdom, direct an officer of the Board to procure for analysis samples of any article of food, and thereupon the officer shall have all the powers of procuring samples conferred by the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts. Well, Sir, the President of the Board of Agriculture, when he introduced this Bill. 334 complained—and it is quite true that all over the country, or, at any rate, in many parts of the country—that the Acts against adulteration are very badly enforced. The local authorities do not take action, and so he proposed to give the Board of Agriculture power. But, Sir, why should not other people have the power? Why should you confine it to officials of the Board of Agriculture? Why not give the general public the power of protecting themselves? I do not quite see why the Board of Agriculture is to have this special power. I wish the President of the Board of Agriculture would explain why this special power under his Bill should be confined to the officials of the Board of Agriculture. Then, Sir, as to the working of this Bill. It is true the Government by this Bill propose that packages should be marked, but we all know that is a provision that it is almost impossible to enforce. Men in shops may put margarine into paper marked "margarine," or they may not. It is very difficult to detect frauds of this kind, especially when children and ignorant people are acting as purchasers. But there is one way in which fraud as regards margarine can be stopped, and everybody knows it, and that is by preventing margarine being coloured like butter. Sir, it is not the first purchaser only who ought to be protected. Most of us may be able, in buying butter for consumption in our own houses, to deal with tradesmen we know, and we may-get butter; but, after all, people in all positions in life eat stuff in hotels and restaurants which may have been sold to the hotel-keeper or restaurant keeper as margarine, but it may be retailed by the hotel-keeper or restaurant keeper as butter to his customers, and who is going to stop these frauds? There is only one way, and that is to have margarine coloured differently to butter. And. Sir, you can see what may happen now. A man may go into an hotel, eat some nasty stuff believing it to be butter, whereas it is margarine, and then he may say, "What an ignorant person the British farmer is. He does not know his business. How superior the Danish butter is. How far superior the butter from Normandy." Yes, because butter from Normandy and Danish butter is butter, and half the time the stuff you are eating in hotels and restaurants may 335 not be butter at all, but margarine. Now, Sir, the President of the Board of Agriculture, when introducing the Bill, said you could not stop the colouring of margarine without stopping the colouring of butter. For my part, I do not quite see why you should not, because I think it would be easy to differentiate between the colour of butter and of margarine. If you colour a light butter yellow, after all it is butter. It is being sold as butter; But if you colour margarine you are colouring a thing which is not butter in order to have it sold as butter. But if it is necessary, as the President of the Board of Agriculture says, that if you forbid colouring in the one case you should forbid it in the other, I, for my part, should be quite ready to accept that alternative, and to see colouring forbidden altogether, whether the stuff coloured was margarine or butter. I know the President of the Board of Agriculture complained that some people in the House would insist upon margarine being coloured something different altogether. I do not think there would be anything very outrageous in that. An honourable Member talked the other day as if yellow was a sort of sacred colour in food, and nobody could reasonably be expected to eat any food which was not yellow. I do not know why we should set up margarine on a pinnacle in that way. After all, there is plenty of good food in the country which is not yellow. You cannot say that yellow is general. Jam is not bad, but it is not yellow-. I have never heard that pâte de fois gras was a nasty thing; I have never heard that caviare has a nasty look about it. But the President of the Hoard of Agriculture says that anybody who tries to stop margarine from being coloured yellow wishes to stop the margarine industry. Well, Sir, I do not pretend to know what effect the prevention of margarine being coloured yellow would have upon it. He said that that would be the result. I do not know what the result would be, but we all admit that margarine when it is coloured yellow lends itself to fraud, and if it would destroy the trade were we to say that it shall not be coloured yellow, it only tends to show that the margarine trade is largely fraudulent, and that margarine is largely sold because it is yellow and because it imitates butter, and for no other reason. Now, somebody 336 on this side of the House said the other day that to prevent the colouring of margarine yellow would be a Protective measure. In one way it is. It is protective against fraud. I say I shall never be ready, I hope, to vote for the protection of the produce producer against competition, but I do say the British producer has an absolute right to be protected against fraud. And this trade is largely a fraudulent trade. That is admitted on all hands. I say that we understand—["No!"] It is admitted—["No!"] Well, almost everybody who spoke the other night spoke of cases of fraud in connection with the trade, and I venture to say that the Report of the Committee that sat upon this question showed endless cases of fraud, and the correspondence that has been appearing in the papers in the last few days from country grocers and others show that this fraud is a very common one, and not only injures the consumer and injures the purchaser, but injures honest tradesmen as well, who have to suffer from the competition of unscrupulous rivals. Well now, Sir, the President of the Board of Agriculture made a statement the other night that rather surprised me. He said, that it would be unwise of the farmer to stop colouring altogether. I do not know why. I do not suppose the President of the Board of Agriculture holds the belief that margarine is such a good food that if people knew it was margarine and not butter—
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. LONG, Liverpool,) West Derby
If the honourable Member quotes me I must ask him to quote me accurately. I did not say it would' be unwise of the farmer, I said it would' be a very great change which I thought the farmer would have to make. I did not express an opinion whether it was a good or a bad one.
I am sorry if I misinterpreted the right honourable Gentleman, for it was far from my intention to do so. I think the farmers whom I have the honour to represent would take the risk, and would be quite prepared to welcome the change and see margarine coloured something which was not yellow But I must say that, from' my point of view, the Bill is a disappoint- 337 ing one. The Bill does one thing—I do not say that it was intended to do it: flatters the farmer with the idea that his interests are being looked after. The Government will be able to go to the country, to the agricultural constituencies, at the next Election and say, "We have done something to prevent the fraudulent sale of margarine." But before this Bill comes into law some of us on this side of the House will give the Government one more chance. We will put down Amendments that will make the Bill a real Bill, Amendments that shall prevent margarine from being sold as butter, shall prevent margarine from being coloured yellow. We will put down Amendments so that fraudulent salesmen may be sent to prison instead of being lined; and if these Amendments are carried, and if they are passed into law, I venture to say that the Bill will be a real Bill, and will be a thousand times more effectual against fraud than in the milk-and-water form in which the Government has introduced it.
*MR. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
I am sure the President of the Board of Agriculture must have listened with great pleasure to the speech that we have just heard, because last Monday night we heard nothing but denunciations of this Bill as hampering trade, harassing manufacturers, and ruining retail traders. Then, up gets the honourable Gentleman on the same side and says, on the contrary, it will do nothing: it is a milk-and-water Bill and will have no effect whatever. Now, Sir, the honourable Gentleman commenced his speech by saying that no one has risen to say that this is a good Bill. Sir, I do not think there has ever been introduced into this House any Bill which those who spoke on the occasion of its introduction have declared to be so good that they could not themselves make it better. What the honourable Member means is that one speaker after another has risen and pointed out how in detail he could have made it a better Bill if he had had the drafting of the Bill. No doubt honourable Members could— or think they could—have made it a tetter Bill. But the real position is this. We are not discussing these details, which we may be enabled to do in Committee, but the general principle of the Bill. No doubt the general principle of 338 this Bill is that adulteration should be put an end to by process of closer inspection of articles than is now given to these articles. We desire—and under this Bill it is done—to make the inspection at the ports, which is at present spasmodic, regular, and real, and energetic; and as for the inspection at home, we desire that where the local authorities are inactive they shall be galvanised into action by the central authority. Two honourable Members have been found in this House, carrying out what is said to be one of the functions—of the principal functions—of an Opposition, to oppose this Bill—the honourable Members for West Islington and for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow. But their attacks upon this Bill show that, though they might agree in the ultimate end of their speeches, their ways of looking at the Bill were totally divergent. The honourable Member for West Islington opposed the Bill because, although he has no objection to the second part, he could not swallow the first part of it. His seconder seconded, as he told us, not because he had any objection to the first part, but because he could not swallow the second part. And between the two of them they moved the rejection of this Measure altogether. Now when those two honourable Gentlemen did agree they seemed to show that their agreement was on this point—that though they loved adulteration little, they loved agriculture less. They belonged, both of them to a section of this House who are always in fear of Protection. They must know that Protection is dead.
*MR. GRANT LAWSON
Yes, with respect to the honourable Member, I say that they know—though perhaps my honourable Friend behind me does not know it—that Protection is dead, and yet they are always conjuring up its spirit in the most unlikely places. Why, Sir, the honourable Member for West Islington in his speech said that this was a Bill to exclude foreign food. I wonder under what section of the Bill he considers that foreign food is excluded. A far more damaging criticism of the Bill has come from another speaker on that side, who complained not only that the Bill would not stop the introduction of 339 foreign food when adulterated, but does not even detain it in transit. Under the Bill the consignments, although adulterated, are to go forward to their destination, with the sleuth-hounds of the Board of Agriculture let loose upon their track, under sub-section 6 of the first clause. That clause provides that when articles come to this country adulterated, they are to be clearly branded with a conspicuous mark that they have fallen from the state of purity; and adulteration is defined in a way which really answers the whole speech made by the honourable Member for South Somerset. The honourable Member for South Somerset complained that any quantity of acids, of which he gave us the names, might be put into milk, and into butter, and yet that would not be stopped by this Bill. Sir, they would be stopped under the last words of clause 1. As I have said, the principle of this Bill is close inspection. The Customs are to take samples. It may be said that the Customs have the power now to take samples under the Customs Consolidation Act of 1879. That is so in law: but what is the fact? The Chairman of the Board of Customs came before the Committee and he said this—As a matter of fact, under the existing law we do very little, I may almost say nothing, except in respect of tea.Well, the object of this Bill is that the Board of Customs should do something, acting under instructions which they are sure to receive, at any rate, from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Minister of Agriculture. Sir, I hope myself that the analysis of these samples when taken will be sufficient to detect the presence of microbes. I believe that this tubercle bacillus, of which we are so much afraid at the present moment, is very often a foreign immigrant, and that matter should be looked into at the ports before we endeavour to cast out these particular microbes from our homes by the very strong measures now before this House promoted by private individuals. The sample having been taken, and the adulteration detected, these articles go forward to their destination. When they get there the recipients can consume them if they like; if these articles contain matters which are injurious to 340 health he may not sell them under the present law, if they contain certain adulterations which are calculated to deceive he may not sell them so as to deceive. That is the law at present, so that it is perfectly obvious that the law, if properly administered, is strong enough to catch the offenders. The arm of the law was strong enough originally, but in many cases it was paralysed because it was to be wielded by the local authorities, and in many cases they did not wield it. Evidence was given before the Committee that in the years 1895 and 189G the Board of Agriculture called the attention of the local authorities to 70 cases of adulterated articles, a trade in which was going on in their jurisdiction, and not a single prosecution followed. Now this Bill will enable the Board of Agriculture to see that the law which was intended to reach the offender shall reach him, a result which has not been found to be the case in the past. The honourable Gentleman the Member for the Ilkeston Division is tremendously jealous of the honour of a. Department with which he himself has been connected, and he said that the Board of Agriculture was not a proper Department to perform this function. Now, the Bill expressly confines the first part of its operation to matters affecting the general interests of agriculture. If the Board of Agriculture cannot look after the general interests of agriculture I should very much like to know what Department has a better claim. The honourable Gentleman himself saw the weakness of his own case, because he said if the Local Board fixed a standard of purity the feed and breed of cattle might make a great difference. Who is the best judge of the breed of cattle, the Board of Agriculture or the Local Government Board? Now I want to say a word or two upon the subject of colouring, which has been dealt with by the honourable Member who has just sat down. I think if anything has been done by this discussion, what has been done has been to show the consumers of this country that the natural colour of margarine is so odious that a man has to shut his eyes before he opens his mouth to take it in its natural colour. Supposing we boldly said that colour was not to be added, the ingenuity of of the margarine manufacturer would 341 produce a compound the natural colour of which would be that of butter, and then we should have to amend our Act in order to make that colour some other colour. It is not fair to say that the colour of margarine is always put in for the purposes of fraud, because a large amount of margarine is sold openly as margarine. There is, of course, some colouring done for the purpose of fraud. Margarine is apparently always sold coloured. In this discussion the prevention of colouring has been discussed as if that was the end at which the agricultural interest has been aiming. That is not so; it is not the end, it is only one means to the end. The end in view being to prevent margarine being sold as butter. My right honourable Friend has found that if he adopts the most obvious means of stopping the sale of margarine as butter that course would be too dangerous to contemplate. He has to find some other road to the same goal. All I can say is that if my right honourable Friend finds a way to the common object that we all have in view which is practicable—a way in which it is possible for us at once to travel—we, so long as he reaches his object, should not complain about leaving the route to him. The very mildest provision in an Act of Parliament is more valuable than the strongest provision in a Bill that remains a Bill. My opinion is that half a loaf is better than no bread. The route by which my right honourable Friend has elected to reach his destination is by way of inspection, detection, and punishment. The route has many advantages; in the first place, it places inconvenience on the dishonest seller without touching the consumer. Secondly, it follows a route which has led to success often before with regard to other articles; and it has a third advantage, that it does not introduce a new principle into our laws. I do not think there is an article, certainly no compound article, which is sold in its natural colour. I do not think that any honourable Gentleman in this House, for instance, can tell me what the natural colour of his boots is. Then, again, the natural colour of ginger ale is not the same as that of beer; yet the teetotaler colours it to be the same as beer, no doubt for the purpose of deceiving himself, and nobody objects to his doing so. The law has not to interfere with colour- 342 ing; the law has to be very careful not to do so. If it did, what would happen to all traders in artificial articles? Ladies would have to do without sealskins that never clothed a seal, and without ostrich feathers that never grew on an ostrich. Then take the case of jewellery, you take a bit of glass and colour it and it looks like a ruby or a pearl. We do not grudge the poor man his eighteen-penny ruby, and the law does not step in. Take another illustration, that of a knife or spoon or fork; by silver plating those articles assume the colour of silver, but nobody says they ought to be allowed to stop it, that a spoon or a fork ought to be left in the natural colour of its baser metal. I think that I have shown that it would be a very strong thing indeed if my right honourable Friend had attempted to make a law on the subject of colouring; it would be far better for us to concentrate our efforts on other methods of preventing these fraudulent sales. Some methods are mentioned in the Bill, but there are many matters which had better be left to the consideration of the Committee. I am myself in favour of what the honourable Member for Pembroke proposed, namely, prison fare for the adulterators of food. I am also in favour of publishing their names. These are questions for Committee. Those who oppose the Second Reading have to show one of three things—first, that there has been no adulteration to speak of. That was completely contradicted by the evidence given before the Committee. Or, secondly, to show that if this is not the best way to stop adulteration that there is an alternative, and you have got to show the alternative. No one has attempted to suggest the alternative course. Thirdly, you may attempt to show that adulteration ought not to be stopped; that the people ought to be allowed to remain under this system of robbery, for fear that some profit should come to the interest of the dealer in genuine articles. The honourable Gentleman who has just sat down said that we were considering the consumer and the farmer; there is a third person who has to be considered, and that is the honest trader, who does not wish to sell adulterated articles, but who must sell them or he would be undersold by his fraudulent neighbours. I think that this will lead to meeting a 343 great evil, and for that reason I shall support the Bill.
§ *MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
Whatever may be the opinions of honourable Members on either side of the House as to the merits or demerits of that Bill no one has ventured to gainsay that an enormous amount of adulteration has been carried on in this country, and that it has been injurious to the principles of honest trade. I think that the criticism to which the Government has been subjected, and the suggestion that they meant wholly to benefit the agricultural interest by this Bill, arises from the language which has been employed by them in drafting the Bill. Personally, myself, I have no hesitation in saying that the day has gone by when any Government could set up any protective Measure which would interfere with the free flow of the supply of food products into this country. But it is perhaps a little unfortunate that the Government in this Bill should appear to be influenced, to some extent at all events, in the direction of protection. As the practice of adulteration extends to articles of almost every description there should not, in my opinion, be a preference given to agriculture; but the Bill should be a comprehensive one dealing with all articles of food in which adulteration exists at present, or in which it might exist. The last speaker who addressed the House commented upon some of the alarming statements that were made the other evening, and I certainly do not believe that this Bill will raise prices, or deal in any way with the fair competition of foreign food supplies, or interfere in any manner with their importation into this country. I will go further, and say that agriculture is as much entitled to protection against unfair competition as any other trade. And though some agriculturists may hold the impression that this Measure will diminish competition, the chances of its doing so are so remote that, in my opinion, they are bound to be disappointed. Now, the right honourable Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, made a statement to the effect that it was based upon the recommendations of the Select Committee: technically, of course, that is true, because some of the provisions of the Bill were made in view of the recommendations of the Select Committee, 344 but in the main I assert, and my first complaint is, that it does not follow the recommendations of the Select Committee to their full extent. Out of the 23 recommendations of that Committee the Government in this Measure have ignored all but 10, and some of those which they have ignored contain some of the provisions which would have proved most beneficial, if they had been incorporated in this Bill. Therefore, I am prepared to regard this Bill as a mere instalment of the legislation necessary to give us effective protection against adulteration. But that is no reason why I should offer the Bill uncompromising opposition. I prefer to regard it as a framework into which we must endeavour to work our wishes by Amendments which may result in a very useful Measure. Before I sit down I shall mention some of the matters which I think we should criticise, so that on further consideration the Bill may be amended in those particulars. In Committee, of course, we shall have an opportunity to make many suggestions for amending the provisions of the Bill, and I do not think that the Second Reading should be made the occasion for moving the rejection of the Bill. Now the most serious omission from the Bill, in my opinion, is the recommendation of the Select Committee, carried with absolute unanimity, that there should be set up an independent court or body of reference to deal with the technical and scientific questions which will have to be considered in connection with the adulteration of food products. The Board of Agriculture proposes to set up a body presenting some of the characteristics recommended by the Select Committee, but I am confident that the body which it is proposed to set up by this Bill will not possess the confidence of this country. The Board of Agriculture is not in such a position to command the best technical and scientific knowledge as would be a Board that had a perfectly independent existence. Under the proposals of the Board of Agriculture to set up these Boards they propose to take enormous powers. In the first place, they intend to establish standards of purity for milk.
§ HONOURABLE MEMBERS: No; no!345
§ MR. KEARLEY
If you will allow me to state it in my own way first, when I have stated it you can correct me. I say that they propose, if they propose to do anything at all, to establish standards of purity for milk and butter, and they propose to set up a standard of preservatives and colouring that may be legitimately introduced into these products. Now, the right honourable Gentleman, in reply to a Question, said that the Board of Agriculture was not prepared to fix a definite standard. Are you prepared to fix an indefinite standard, because if you are that appears to me to give point to the objection of the Irish representatives? At the present moment the one thing which the Irish butter producers complain mo6t bitterly of is that there is no definite standard, and they want to know what the standard will be. If you have a low standard of purity fixed for milk the milk producers of this country will be able to water down their milk to the standard, and the vicious effect of that will be as great as it is now at the present moment. While I am upon the question of standards, I notice that there is one which you do not propose to deal with at all, and that is the percentage of water that shall be permissible in butter. We have heard from all the speakers who have addressed the House upon this subject of the adulteration of butter with margarine, but I venture to suggest that there is just as much adulteration of butter by dishonest persons by the addition of water as there is by the addition of margarine; but there is no proposal at all in this Bill to deal with that. Now, Mr. Speaker, it was pointed out the other night that in order to make legislation effective it is necessary that the law should be enforced. I agree with that, and I go beyond, and say that in addition to enforcing the law deterrent penalties must also be enforced. At the present time not only is the law not enforced as it should be, but the penalties which are inflicted are not sufficiently deterrent. One of the speakers said that the law at present in existence was efficient if it was properly administered; I think to a large extent that is so. The proposal of the right honourable Gentleman is that the Board of Agriculture shall have power to enforce the administration of the law, but it is only where 346 the interests of agriculture are affected that the Board of Agriculture proposes to step in. It is stated in the Bill that where the law is not enforced, and the interests of agriculture are found to be affected, the Board of Agriculture is to compel the local boards to take action. I should strongly advise the Government to delete all language from this Bill which pre-supposes a predilection in favour of agriculture. These references carry no substance with them, whilst they are great disfigurement to the Bill, and they will give rise to accusations against the Department which it would be better to avoid altogether. I strongly advise the Government to get rid of these words: they can only prejudice the Board of Agriculture, because so long as that Department has the administration of this Act there will be an opening for the enemy to say that it is worked in the interests of agriculture. I do not suggest that that is so myself, but I do think that it is a pity, considering that the Local Government Board is the recognised central authority for dealing with local boards, to transfer these powers to the Board of Agriculture. The Local Government Board is the most fitting authority to set local authorities in motion. I could give reasons why the Local Government Board is the most appropriate body to have the power to enforce the Act where local authorities fail to enforce it. In the first place, they would not be subject to the suspicion which is attached to the Board of Agriculture. The Local Government Board is a national body, and so is the Board of Agriculture, but the Local Government Board is not the servant of any particular interest in this House, while the Board of Agriculture is the servant of the agricultural representatives in this House. Even if I had listened to the speech of my honourable Friend the Member for Pembrokeshire with my eyes shut I should have known that he was an agricultural representative by the tone of his argument, and that is the spirit that permeates the whole of the agricultural interest in this House. Of course, they want to do the best they can for their own interest, and they are quite right too. So long as the Board of Agriculture has the administration of this Act there is always an opening for the enemies of this Measure to say, "It is 347 worked in the interests of agriculture." I do not allege that myself, but I do say that considering that the Local Government Board is the recognised central authority for dealing with local bodies, it seems to me to be improper to transfer these powers to the Board of Agriculture. The local Government Board already deals with the local authorities when they are in default in respect of proper water supplies or drainage. If they refuse, the Board have power to apply for a mandamus to compel them to act. Surely the question of a power of this nature in regard to food is as important as the power with regard to the water supply; and as the Local Government Board is the body for securing to the public pure water, I contend that it should be the body to secure by its administration pure food supplies for the people. Now I want to deal with one or two points that have already been referred to in connection with some provisions under this Bill. There is a general agreement, I think, that the penalties which are already imposed are inadequate. On the Select Committee we passed a unanimous decision that the penalties were altogether inadequate, and that they ought to be strengthened and increased. That Committee recommended that for the second offence there should be a minimum fine of £5. Under this Bill you propose to increase the fine which is leviable for the second offence, but you make no minimum fine, and magistrates are so prone to regard these offences leniently, that unless you lay down by Statute that for the second offence the fine shall be a substantial one, I am sure there will be a repetition of these one shilling or two shilling fines which have been so common in the past. That was what the Select Committee recommended; and perhaps I may be allowed to say that I took an active part in inducing them to come to that decision. Now, for the third and subsequent offences, I think it should be within the power of the magistrate to send a man to prison who is found guilty of adulteration. Of course, I know that it would be a very drastic proposition that a man brought up for a third offence and convicted should be imprisoned, but it certainly should be left to the discretion of the magistrate to take that step if he thought fit and proper. I will cite a 348 case brought to my notice some little time ago in regard to the operations of a particular gang. There is a gang working in the poor parts of London, who have shops, known as the Welsh Gang, but I hope this will not be taken as a bad compliment by the Welsh Members of this House. It is called the Welsh Gang because the name of the founder, I believe, is Morgan. Well, these people have been prosecuted time after time and convicted. They appeared at the Clerkenwell Police Court a few months ago, and were fined £70 with £21 costs, but the very next week the same men for the same offence appeared at the same Police Court, but before a different magistrate, and were fined £1. That will give the House an idea as to the manner in which some magistrates regard these offences. Now, I do think that people of this description should be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and more especially so because they find it sufficiently profitable to continue their evil ways and pay the fines. Of course, I do not allege this against traders as a whole, but there seems to be almost a criminal class in this respect who cannot resist the temptation of stealing—for it is nothing else but stealing— and defrauding the public, and they persevere in their evil deeds, although they are fined from time to time.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
Well, that is not within my knowledge. I wish to press upon the Government the necessity of carrying out the recommendation of the Select Committee, that the magistrates should have it in their power on the third conviction to send a man to prison, and that is not asking for an extraordinary power, because the power to imprison people already exists for far less serious offences. Take for example an Act in which the agricultural Members are particularly interested, namely the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. For a second offence under that Act in the same year a man is liable to a month's imprisonment. As to the nature of the offence, there can be no comparison between the offences committed under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act and defrauding the public by forcing upon 349 the consumer an article which is not what it is represented to be. Similar powers of sending people to prison for smaller offences than those of adulterating food exist under the Merchandise Marks Act and the Licensing Laws. I hope, therefore, that the Government will take a strong attitude upon this question of minimum fines and imprisonment, because, if they do not, they will very much mar the prospects of their Bill being successful. If the Government will be firm, I think 99 per cent. of the adulteration will disappear, that is providing that you make the local authorities do their work. If you imprison the rogues and the thieves I am sure that you will have no great amount of adulteration existing in this country. Now, I want to say a word or two about the provision of this Bill dealing with goods at the port of entry. The Government propose to continue their operation of taking samples, but that will not prevent adulterated articles from circulating in this country, and it will be impossible, by the time they have finished their investigation, to enable any of these adulterated articles to be recalled, and the sale of them checked. I have spoken before upon this matter, and I repeat that falsified goods coming into this country should be detained pending an analysis. Well, of course, the answer will be made,"How are you to tell that these goods are falsified? You cannot tell until they are analysed."That is so, but there are always merchants who are prepared to give to the Customs authorities information as to the practices of certain shippers. The leading importers in this country take the precaution of having the opinion of an eminent analyst, and they can find out by that means, from time to time, whether certain shippers' goods are dishonest. I maintain that if you take powers, as you should do, in this Bill which will enable you to detain goods which are falsely described, you may, when the information is supplied to you from time to time, detain such goods pending analysis, and if you find them to be falsified you can confiscate them. That was done in connection with butter some years ago. A certain merchant had reason to suspect that a shipper was sending him adulterated produce, and he stated his case to the Customs authorities, but they said they could not inter- 350 fere. He then went to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the right honourable Gentleman only agreed to interfere after this importer had entered into a very heavy bond. Well, the goods were investigated and analysed and found to be adulterated, and they were confiscated. Now I want the Government to obtain this security against falsified goods in this Bill. It may not be necessary to put it in force very frequently, but I think it would have a deterrent effect if the authorities had this power. It would be a great pity to forego and to lose the opportunity which is now offered of putting in a clause of this description. When we have done with this piece of legislation, it will be 20 years at least before the House will again listen to any more proposals to deal with the adulteration of food products, so that now is the time to try and make this Bill as strong as we can in every particular. Now, the other points that I will refer to briefly are those affecting the admixture of butter and margarine. My honourable Friend said the other night, "Why interfere? Why not let butter be mixed with margarine? That seems a very simple question to put, but I will give a reason why. The reason why it should not be allowed to manufacture mixtures is this—that they are intended to be sold not as what they really are, because if that was the case they would have to be sold as margarine, but they are intended to be sold as butter. If the present law was properly administered we should not now be advocating this Measure, and I will give you a convincing argument against these mixtures. Honourable Members know that the system of joint stock enterprise in connection with distributing agencies has enormously increased of late years, and there are now in this country well-recognised distributors whose turnover amounts to several millions a year. I have made inquiries amongst some of these distributors, and many other firms who represent in this trade a net turnover of no less a sum than ten millions a year. Now ten millions a year is a large sum of money to be taken from the public. I have made inquiries from these distributors as to whether any of them sell these mixtures, and not a single one of these firms, who are merchants of the highest eminence, admit that they sell mixtures, but on the con- 351 trary, they deny it altogether. They say that the demand for margarine is a definite demand, confined to a certain class by its low price, and between that price and the price of butter there is a large margin. These distributors inform me that if they were to sell mixtures at a price intermediate between margarine prices and butter prices the public would not buy them at all. It seems to me absolutely conclusive that there is no demand for this particular class of article if it is sold for what it really is, but if it is sold to represent butter there is no question that it commands a large sale. Therefore I am strongly in favour of denying the right of manufacturers of margarine to mix butter with margarine at all. The Government have seen fit to give power to admix to the extent of 10 per cent., but I suggest that that is too high, and I am supported in my contention by the authoritative declaration of a large manufacturer in this country of high repute, and who is well known. I asked him what was the percentage of butter fat that should be present in margarine, and he replied that butter fat in margarine would not exceed 3 per cent., and would, as a rule, be about 2 per cent. I hope I have made it clear that when an article is intended to be sold as margarine, 3 per cent. is the outside percentage of butter fat which should be present. Now, the right, honourable Gentleman proposes to make it legal at 10 per cent., but I think he has an open mind on that question, and perhaps he may be able to come down to 5 per cent., which would be about fair. The question of colouring to my mind is very simple, and if you are going to prohibit it in one direction, you should prohibit it in all. Now I come to the question of warranty, and I think the right honourable Gentleman, before he has done with this Bill, will probably find that this will be the issue round which most of the conflict will be raised. At the present moment, under the Food and Drugs Act, section 25, a warranty is not valid unless it is a written warranty, but under the Margarine Act, passed 12 years later, an invoice is a warranty, so that it has been felt that an invoice should be a warranty in all cases. Some of us maintain that if a tradesman orders from his merchant certain articles, whatever they may be—take butter for in- 352 stance: if the invoice states that it is butter, without expressly saying "guaranteed pure butter," the invoice itself should be the warranty, and it should be producible against the man who gave the warranty. Now I think that should be the position of a merchant. If he invoices so many packages as "butter," that certainly should be a warranty, and it should not be left to a buyer to say, "the law will not recognise your statement without you put on the invoice "absolutely pure," or "guaranteed pure." The right honourable Gentleman will be wise, I think, if he gives way on this point, for there appears to be already a great amount of anxiety upon it in the country that this should be recognised. But I will ask him this question—if he refuses to recognise an invoice as a warranty under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, does he propose to retain the power under the Margarine Act, which does recognise the invoice as a warranty? Here, under the Margarine Act, section 5, as I have before stated, the invoice is a warranty, and that was provided for in an Act passed 12 years after the Sale of Food and Drugs Act. Now, under the latter Act an invoice is not a warranty, and I ask the right honourable Gentleman whether he proposes to repeal what appears to be an anomaly in the case of the Margarine Act?
§ *MR. KEARLEY
The right honourable Gentleman says "No," but it seems to me incomprehensible that you should admit an invoice as a warranty under one Act and not admit it under the other. Then there is a smaller point, which is that of claiming exemption when the tradesman can prove that he has exercised due diligence to have the article sold for what it really was, and that his employee was the offender. He should then be able to produce the defaulting employee, and let him bear the consequences of his dereliction of duty. Now here is an Act which again has a different bearing on this question. Under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act there is no exemption for the act of the servant, but under section 7 of the Margarine Act an employer is exempted if he can prove that he has exercised due diligence. I would ask the right honour- 353 able Gentleman to consider the claim of a tradesman to be exempted if he can prove that he has exercised due diligence, and that the adulteration is owing to the negligence of his assistants. Under one Act an employer can claim exemption, and under another he cannot. and I believe the magistrate is perfectly able to discriminate whether the defence when set up is a genuine one or not. If the right honourable Gentleman is anticipating that this will open a wide door to fraud, I do not think he need have any apprehensions in that direction, for I think the magistrate will be able to determine whether the defence is legitimate or otherwise. I have now criticised the various clauses in this Bill which I consider to be weak. There is one other defect which I will mention in a word. I think legislation would be more effective if there had been a consolidation and strengthening of the existing law. I would have liked to have seen every law upon this subject repealed, and a thoroughly good adulteration Act passed, framed on broad lines, so as to comprehend all the forms of adulteration that exist. What we want is really a consolidation, because this piecemeal legislation is only confusing to those who have to abide by the Act. There is one proposal in this very Bill which shows that the right honourable Gentleman who introduced it is not acquainted with its effect. Section 11 of this Bill makes provision for "skimmed" or "separated" milk, and for the contravention of this section a fine not exceeding £2 may be imposed. But this offence is already contemplated under the Food and Drugs Act, section 9, under which a penalty of £20 can be imposed, and I have known a case in which a fine of £10 has been inflicted. I think that that proves that the right honourable Gentleman is not acquainted with the multiplicity of details connected with these two Acts. It would be better, I think, to have had a consolidation Bill put before Parliament. However, we must take events as we find them, and I believe that although this Bill is defective in many respects, if the Government really mean business in this matter, and will afford an opportunity in Committee to honourable Members of giving them the benefit of their experience, I think 354 we shall be able to amend the Bill and alter it to such an extent that it will be acceptable to the country.
Apart from the speeches of the two honourable Members who moved the rejection of the Bill, I do not think the Government have any right to complain of the reception accorded to their proposals. Most of those who have spoken have, indeed, criticised the proposals of the Bill. But it is sins of omission rather than of commission that have been charged against the Government. We have been told that we have erred in not following the precedents set as regards several matters in the Margarine Act of 1887, and that we have been guilty of grievous default in setting aside several of the recommendations of the Select Committee. But whilst this is the case the general tenour of the Debate has been that, so far as it goes, the Bill is a good Bill, and more than one speaker found to his satisfaction as the Debate proceeded that the Bill went further than he thought it did. Before, however, I proceed to answer the criticism upon detailed points, let me refer for a moment to the main objection urged by the honourable Member for West Islington as a reason why the Bill should be rejected. He declared, in so many words, that it was a Bill designed to protect the agricultural community, and to raise prices. This assertion was met, as it deserved to be, by the derisive cheers of honourable Gentlemen who sat immediately around him. It is true, indeed, that the Bill does propose to put difficulties in the way of the foreign merchant who sends adulterated or impoverished articles of food into this country. But I do not know that even the most ardent member of the Cobden Club would claim a right for the foreigner which is not conceded to the home trader. It has been left for the honourable Gentleman to say of a Bill that proposes most reasonably to prevent fraud by a foreign trader that it is a mere Measure of protection and calculated to raise prices. I am satisfied, and indeed my honourable Friend opposite the Member for Ilkeston agreed— that clause 1 is a most valuable provision. He has a right to speak on 355 this question, because he shared with me the labour of presiding over the Committee upstairs. I come now to other speakers. It was urged by my honourable Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow, and repeated with emphasis to-night by the honourable Member for Devonport, that if the Bill was to be worth anything, the retail trader should be allowed to treat a mere invoice as the legal equivalent of a written warranty. He said that this was lawful under the Margarine and the Fertilizers Acts, and he pointed out that this constituted one of the recommendations of the Select Committee which the Government had rejected. The honourable Baronet is entirely right in saying all this, and the only question remaining is as to the decision of the Government. Is it right or wrong? Is it defensible or indefensible? Let us see how the case stands. Almost every speaker has admitted that one of the main difficulties in connection with this whole question is the lax administration of the law. Local authorities, in many cases, and for reasons that were made plain to the Committee, administer the various Acts in the most perfunctory manner. That is admitted on both sides of the House. Now, assuming the contention of honourable Members to be correct, and that a mere invoice should be equivalent in law to a written warranty, see what would happen. In every case the retail shopkeeper who had sold the adulterated article would produce his invoice, and the responsibility would be at once shifted to the wholesale dealer. This trader may carry on business in Ireland, in Scotland, or at a place hundreds of miles from where the summons is heard. When he is brought into Court what is to happen? He has, no doubt, an invoice from the manufacturer of the goods. Is he to plead this invoice and walk out of Court, shifting the responsibility on to the manufacturer? If not, why not? And, should the manufacturer reside outside the jurisdiction, what then? Nobody in that case could be made amenable, and you would be placing the home trader, who can be made amenable, at a great disadvantage with the foreign merchant who cannot be reached. But I ask what would the effect of all this be on the careless and unwilling local authority? They would probably say: "We have gone to great 356 expense in an attempt to carry out the law; the only result being that we have been driven from post to pillar, finding ourselves in the last resort unable to reach the original offender." Is it wise,. I ask, to run the risk of bringing the administration of the law to this pass? And all the while, be it remembered, the retail trader can enforce a warranty from the wholesale dealer, which will be a valid defence, if he chooses to do so. If he does not do it he ought to take the responsibility for the character of the goods he sells. I think that to make this change in the law would be to run the gravest risk of bringing the law into disrepute, and that the only safe method of procedure is to make the actual purveyor to the public responsible for what he sells. Then we have been told that we ought to have followed the precedent of the Margarine Act, and made the assistant responsible where the actual trader had taken all necessary and reasonable precautions against fraud. That was urged very strongly by the honourable Member for Devonport. There are traders, it is said, with scores of shops. How can a trader, it is asked, be responsible under such circumstances? This line of argument, if pursued, may carry us very far. And I hold that the owner of these places of business ought to be responsible for the goods he sells. If he chooses to have 100 shops in different parts of the country, there is nothing in the law to say him nay. But it is a wholly different thing for him to say you must frame the law so that I shall not be responsible for the acts of those I employ.
And, assume the law to be changed, what would happen? A young man in one of these shops is brought up instead of his employer. The employer has taken all reasonable precautions, and let me say, by the way, that it is now in the power of the magistrates to acquit an employer if he is found to have taken all reasonable precautions. The young assistant may be a totally irresponsible person, sleeping, perhaps, in one of the cubicles we heard so much about yesterday. What about the penalties? How are they to be recovered in such a case? To enact a provision of this kind would be 357 to place such difficulties in the way of administration as to seriously imperil the working of the Act. A good deal has been said, and I am not surprised at it, about the regulation in the clause as regards the quantity of butter fat that may be used in the manufacture of margarine. It is a point of some importance, and I propose to examine into it with some care. What are the facts now? First, you have pure butter, which sells at 10d., 1s., 1s. 2d., or 1s. 4d. per lb., or even more. This article is not affected at all. It is butter, and is sold as such. Then, we have margarine of the ordinary type—which fetches in some of our great towns 5d., 6d., and up to 8d. per lb. Provided this is sold for what it is, namely, margarine, nobody objects. But it is in regard to the third article the difficulty arises. This article consists of a mixture of pure margarine and inferior butter. Now, under the Margarine Act this mixture ought to be sold as margarine. It is at this point the whole difficulty arises. This mixture is not usually sold as margarine. It is not even sold as a mixture. It is very generally sold as tenpenny butter. It is sold for what it is not, and up to the present it has been exceedingly difficult to deal with the fraud. Now, what the Government had to consider was how this fraud could be best prevented? The Select Committee considered the matter carefully. It came to a decision contrary to the view I had submitted in my Draft Report as Chairman. It decided that the mixture should be prohibited by law. My own view put before the Committee was simply this—that so long as no injury was done to the public health, and that the public were duly and fully apprised as to the nature of the article they were purchasing, these mixtures ought to be allowed. I was over-ruled. Now, after giving the fullest consideration to the point, my right honourable Friend has taken a line between the view I expressed and the view taken by the Committee. It is quite impossible to prevent the mixing of butter fat with margarine altogether, for the very good reason given before the Committee by experts-—that it could not be detected up to 5 or 6 per cent. My right honourable Friend practically says 358 in the Bill to the manufacturer of this article—Fraud frequently follows this practice of mixing. The fraud is not yours. But we must prevent it if we can. In future, margarine must be sold as margarine and not as butter. By using 10 per cent. of butter fat it will not be possible for those who sell the article to sell it as butter, and therefore we fix that limit.The aim of the clause is to have two legitimate articles—butter and margarine—and to exclude from the market those mixtures that ought by law to be sold as margarine, but are in fact largely sold as butter. There is nothing sacred in 10 per cent., and it is a reasonable question for discussion in Committee. The next question of importance is that of food standards. The Committee gave great attention to the matter, and I am not quite sure that the House exactly realises how much is done by the Bill in the direction favoured by the Committee. As the proposal emerged from the Committee it involved the setting up of a Standing Committee of Experts, called a Board of Reference, to determine the question of what was and what was not food adulteration. The proposal covered every article that came under the definition of food as defined in the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875. The necessity for some action of this kind was clearly shown by the conflicts between Somerset House and various public analysts throughout the country, the result being that the Courts were often at a total loss to know what was and what was not adulteration.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
The Courts have now determined that the standard must be put in the report of each analyst.
I think it is very inconvenient that there should be different and conflicting standards all over the country. Now, in view of the determination of the Committee, I ask the House to examine clause 4. It is true that the clause does not set up a fixed standard for anything. It is true that what is proposed to be done covers only three articles. True; but looking at the enormous difficulty in fixing exact standards was it not wiser to arrange for a decision of experts that would establish a presumption as to purity, leaving a certain elasticity to cover 359 different cases? And was it not wiser to confine this delicate and difficult operation to three great staple articles of food —namely, milk, butter, and cheese? Entirely agreeing with the complaints of those who declared that the Courts were often puzzled by the conflicting testimony of analysts, I believe that clause 4 gives the thing contended for by the Committee in a safer and more effective form. Under that clause the undue admixture of water with butter is as much an adulteration as if the butter were adulterated with margarine.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
IS it definitely decided in that clause that the question of water will be dealt with?
I quite agree. What the Committee suggested was the setting up of standards in respect of all classes of food, which I think would be almost impossible and might act unfairly. This clause covers all the necessities of the case. The honourable Member for Somerset said a good deal about the use of preservatives and colouring matters, and other honourable Members have dwelt upon the necessity of stopping the colouring of margarine to imitate butter. As to the first point, it must be remembered that the Committee arrived at no conclusion as to the use of preservatives. They were not satisfied, after hearing all the evidence, that these articles were prejudicial to health, and they certainly did not believe them to be used in a fraudulent sense. Why, then, should their use be prohibited? I entirely agree with my honourable Friend the Member for the Horsham Division of Sussex, who said that he would not like to say that a farmer sending milk from the South of England to London on a July or August day should be prohibited from using a preservative that would ensure its delivery in a state fit to be used. I know what is said. There are people who enter into minute and elaborate calculations as to the quantity of boracic acid and other articles of the kind we consume by reason of the use of these preservatives and colouring matters. We had it all out upstairs. I rose from the inquiry quite convinced that if we are going to eat and drink by rules of this kind we should end in eating nothing. I don't believe these preservatives used in 360 moderation do appreciable harm. I believe they are useful in carrying on legitimate trade, and we have seen no reason for prohibiting their use. Of course, if they are injurious to health, they come under the present law and can be dealt with. Then as to colouring. I admit that here, again, I was over-ruled on the Committee. My agricultural Friends behind me, aided by the agricultural Members on the other side, and backed by the Irish Nationalists, left me with a small band of supporters representing as I thought, and still think, the common-sense of the matter. I am of the same opinion still. You cannot stop the artificial colouring of butter. Most, if not the whole, of the foreign butter in the English market, and that is most of the butter used in this country, is artificially coloured. Can you prevent it? Ought you to prevent it? The colouring matter is not injurious to health. It is not used fraudulently. To attempt to prevent the colouring of butter would raise a storm of opposition, and would be most unfair. But if butter is to be coloured at will by the producer—you cannot make a different law for the producer of margarine. Both are legitimate articles of commerce. And so long as the colouring does not injure public health and is not fraudulent, the producer is entitled to make the article he produces as attractive as it can be made. The honourable Member for Pembrokeshire complained at some length that the penalties of this Bill were not sufficient, and the honourable Member for Devonport has reinforced that opinion. It is quite true that the Committee upstairs decided to recommend that for the second offence there should be a minimum penalty of £5, and that the magistrates might at their discretion imprison for a third offence. Now, I confess that this doctrine of a minimum penalty is exceedingly difficult. You complain—and properly complain—that magistrates will not now act and that they inflict totally inadequate penalties. But, supposing a person conies before a bench of magistrates who now hesitate about moderate penalties, and a hard and fast line is laid down that if you convict on the second occasion you must inflict a penalty of £5. the chances are that these unwilling magistrates will dismiss the case. That 361 is certain to happen. I think the Government have exercised a wise discretion in not fixing a minimum penalty. The same observation applies to the question of imprisonment. If you cannot get magistrates to enforce the law now and exact the present penalties, how can you get them to send people to gaol? Every speaker has referred to the difficulty of getting these penalties enforced, moderate as they are, and I do not see that by putting into an Act of Parliament a stronger penalty you will succeed in enforcing it. But so far as the question of penalties is concerned, I think it is a perfectly reasonable matter for the Committee to discuss. I am perfectly sure my right honourable Friend will keep an open mind upon all these questions of detail, and if the House chooses to take the responsibility of adding imprisonment for a third or a specially bad offence I say that that can be discussed upstairs with perfect freedom. The House will take the responsibility for it, but undoubtedly the Government have not seen their way to put stronger penalties into the Bill. With reference to detention of goods at the port of entry, the whole difficulty is that much of the goods are perishable, and you run the risk of detaining perishable goods that may be perfectly pure, but by the time your analysis is complete they may be injured or destroyed. I think clause 1 really meets the difficulty in question.
§ MR. G. WHITELEY (Stockport)
Are we to understand that this question of 10 per cent., which we thought was a fundamental part of the Bill, is to be subject of Debate upstairs? Is the Government going to adhere to it?
Everything will be subject to debate upstairs. These are really matters for Committee, and not for Second Reading. The last thing I have to say is this. It was complained on the first night of this Debate that this was not heroic legislation. Why should it be? I never knew a question on which there was less room for heroics. All the speakers have declared that the present Acts are good Acts if they could only be tightened up and enforced a little better. The object of the Government has not been to produce heroic legislation. The 362 object has been, in the first place, to protect the public from adulteration; in the second place, not to interfere with legitimate commerce; and, in the third place, not to harass or annoy the honest trader. I believe the Bill clearly carries out that design, and I hope the House will consent to read it a second time.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeenshire, S.)
Mr. Speaker, the honourable Member who has just sat down, in his elaborate defence of the Bill, commented on the fact that only two Members have asked the House to reject it altogether; but, on the other hand, he has not been able to cite a single Member on the other side of the House who has expressed satisfaction with the Bill. One honourable Member, sitting for a Yorkshire constituency, did recommend the House to take it as the best they could get at present, but even he thought it a very unsatisfactory instalment of what was desired. It is a remarkable fact that the Bill has been criticised from so many points of view. Some have said that it does not go far enough. That complaint is made not only by agriculturists, who desire a much more severe restriction, and more stringent penalties, but it comes also from those who, like my honourable Friend the Member for Devonport, desire to see the whole subject of adulteration dealt with. I think there was great force in the observation of my honourable Friend, and it would be a great deal easier to administer the law and have a higher measure of certainty if the whole question of adulteration were put upon the same lines, without any privileges being given to agricultural produce. On the other side, it is said that the Bill itself is objectionable in many respects. Some Members have remarked that it is vexatious, and that particularly with regard to the registration clause, which has, I hear, excited very considerable annoyance in the country. And others again, like my honourable Friend the Member for Islington, scent in it a certain Measure of protection; We are always told when these Bills come up that there is danger of their being protective Measures. But I do not think there is very much of the element of protection in this particular Bill. It is not altogether unnatural, however, that that element should be suspected, because there was something in the 363 language of the President of the Board of Agriculture which tended to give that impression. He talked in his introductory speech not in the way I should have expected him to talk, about the desirability of preventing fraud and deceit, but he spoke of the importance of securing honest competition. Well, we are not here for the purpose of securing fair competition. We are here for the purpose of preventing deceit and detecting frauds upon consumers. If the right honourable Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture had based his arguments upon the interests of the consumer, and had not thrown out this suggestion to his agricultural friends that this was a Measure intended for their special benefit, he would have done a good deal to disarm the suspicion with which the Measure was received by severe and stringent Free Traders of the type of the honourable Member for Islington. I cannot help regarding with great suspicion the words in clause 2 with regard to the functions of the Board of Agriculture. The clause says that—the Board of Agriculture may, in relation to any matter appearing to it to affect the general interests of agriculture in the United Kingdom,take samples of agricultural produce. Now, if the Bill is simply a Bill to prevent adulteration, these words are not in the least necessary. It would be sufficient to say that the Board should interfere to prevent fraud. The right honourable Gentleman said that they were only intended to define the scope of the action of the Board. For that purpose also I say that they are not necessary. It would have been sufficient to say that the Board may interfere in the ease of food products such as milk, butter, and cheese, but the words "general interests of agriculture" seem to suggest a motive and reason for intervention which is entirely apart from the interests of the consumer, which it ought to be the business of the Bill to protect. Furthermore, we have the bringing into this Bill of the Board of Agriculture instead of the Local Government Board. That is a very important change in the law, and it is a change which neither the right honourable Gentleman nor the Secretary to the Local Government Board have justified. 364 I have not heard in this Debate, and I have listened to it from the beginning, a single word to justify the substitution of a new Board for the Board which is in possession of the field, and which is not alleged in any way to have neglected its duties. I can only suppose either that the Board of Agriculture wishes to ingratiate itself with its agricultural supporters, or else it is an underworked Department, and is so anxious for fresh work that it has determined to take over this function, and thus to relieve the Local Government Board. The matter is really one of some importance. The Local Government Board is already the authority which is properly charged with the administration of the Adulteration Laws. It will retain its general administration of those laws after the passing of this Bill, if it passes, and it will remain the authority which spurs on and supervises the action of local authorities for every kind of adulteration except that referring to these particular three forms of food products. Is it not, then, very inconvenient and anomalous that, while the Local Government Board retains its general power, this particular duty should be entrusted to a new Board altogether. The mischief does not stop there. The reason why the Local Government Board has control of the matter is this: that the administration of these Acts rests in the hands of the local authorities. These local authorities appoint analysts, and these analysts have to be approved by the Local Government Board. The Local Government Board, therefore, is ultimately the master of the local authorities and of the analysts. It is not proposed to take away the approval of the appointment of analysts from the Local Government Board and give it to the Board of Agriculture. Why, then, introduce the Board of Agriculture at all? Surely all the arguments, both on the ground of symmetry and of convenience, are in favour of keeping those who have to execute the law under the control of those who have appointed them, and those who supervise their action in every other branch of their work. I think if the Government were going to give, as they have given in many respects, a laboured answer upon the criticisms on this Bill, they ought to have dealt with this, which is a change at first sight, and, so far as we 365 have heard, quite contrary to principle, and quite without justification on any ground of practical convenience. Now I have little to say with regard to the main provisions of this Bill. So far as they go to prevent fraud, we are heartily in favour of them. There is no relation at all between free trade and fraud, and our maxims ought to be "everything against fraud," and "nothing against freedom." There is no contradiction between the two, and nobody can say that legislation against fraud can in any way interfere with free trade. But I do think it is extremely desirable, when we are endeavouring to protect the consumer and to prevent fraud, that we should introduce any provision which can even be suspected of a different design. There is one provision which seems to have a design, as to which I am not satisfied with the explanations given by the Secretary of the Local Government Board, and that is the provision with regard to the manufacture of margarine containing more than 10 per cent. of butter fat. The defence made for this provision I understand to be this: that all butter which is not perfect and genuine butter, but which is in the main margarine, is prohibited by law, and it is an offence against the Adulteration Act to sell it.
§ MR. BRYCE
It must not be misdescribed; it must be sold for that which it is. I understand there is a good deal of stuff which is neither pure butter nor margarine, but it is a mixture between the two. That is one of the things which I have learned in the course of this discussion. I have learned also that this mixed substance is practically indistinguishable from inferior kinds of butter, and that one might have it served up at his table without knowing the difference. It would appear that already it is an offence to sell this article unless it is labelled margarine, and the present Bill contains a provision requiring the mark to be more complete and unmistakable than it now necessarily is. The Government say that, in spite of this provision of the law, the sale of this mixed stuff will go on, and that it will be sold for butter even if it is described as margarine, and they think 366 it is necessary for that purpose to stop the sale of it altogether. Surely the answer to that is, that you ought to enforce the law more strictly, and, if the law prohibits the sale of the article except as margarine, make it as stringent as you like. By why debar people who wish to pay 10d. for something which is much better than ordinary margarine, although it is not as good as perfect butter, from indulging in that wish?
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
That is exactly where we do not agree. We say there is no merit in any mixture of margarine and butter, destined to be sold as margarine, over the best natural margarine produced under this limit of 10 per cent. We are assured by the best information we can get, such as that given by the honourable Member for Devonport, who is largely interested in this trade, as well as by other experts, that the very best margarine, so far as quality goes, can be produced within the limit of 10 per cent. Therefore, you do not gain anything, so far as margarine is concerned, by allowing any greater amount of butter to be mixed with the margarine.
§ MR. BRYCE
I am much obliged to the right honourable Gentleman for his explanation. I have been told that this considerable mixture of butter with margarine confers a more general flavour of the character of butter, and that, therefore, it is preferable. I understand it is not so, and that in point of fact this butter atmosphere, this persuasion that one is really eating butter, is attainable with something less than 10 per cent. of butter fat, and that, therefore, the consumer will not be in any way prejudiced, because he has a palatable and edible article under the law as formerly. If that is so, it to some extent removes my objection, but it is an additional piece of knowledge which this Debate has given me. Still I cannot help thinking that where you have a law in force which should be enough, you go dangerously near interference with trade if you prohibit an article when your law, if enforced, ought to be a sufficient protection to the consumer. I now come to the question of invoices, and here I desire to clear up one preliminary difficulty. The invoice question, upon which so much has been 367 said, arises upon clause 17, which provides that a warranty or invoice shall not be available as a defence in any proceedings under this Act unless the defendant gives seven days' notice of his intention to plead it. It appears to me that these words make an invoice substantially a warranty. I do not understand how it can be contended that it is not a substantial warranty if the clause provides that under certain circumstances it shall be a defence. Perhaps the right honourable Gentleman will explain that.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
The explanation is this: Clause 17 must be read with clause 23 of the Food and Drugs Act. If the right honourable Gentleman will look, he will see that that Act is to be read with the Margarine Act, 1887. Under the Margarine Act the invoice is a warranty, and, therefore, this clause merely provides that, where the defendant intends to claim the right to produce a warranty or invoice as a defence, he must give certain notice. This leaves the law with regard to the position of a warranty or invoice exactly as it is now, and this Bill only indicates that where it is produced and pleaded as a defence due notice shall be given of the intention to adopt that course.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
Because under the Food and Drugs Act an invoice is not a warranty, whereas under the Margarine Act it is, and the Government propose to leave the law exactly as it is. It does not repeal the section of the Margarine Act nor change the law under the Food and Drugs Act.
§ MR. BRYCE
This is an admirable illustration of the extraordinary difficulty caused by incorporating other Acts in such a Bill as this. I think, if you read the Acts, it is doubtful whether you will get that construction out of them. Not only is it in the highest degree doubtful, but nothing can be 368 conceived more likely to give rise to litigation and to cause great difficulty in the administration of the Act. I earnestly hope that if this Bill goes to Committee (that we shall amend clause 17 so as to make it mean what it says and say what it means. That brings me to a question dealt with by the last speaker, as to whether invoices should or should not be accepted as a defence. One honourable Member said that it would be necessary if they were accepted as a defence to go against the foreign producer, but surely he omitted to notice the second part of section 17, which provides expressly for the case of the foreign producer. I should have thought when he spoke of the difficulty of securing a conviction that he would have remembered that in these cases the person one chiefly wanted to get at is the manufacturer or wholesale dealer. It is far more important to strike at him than at the local trader.
May I point out that there is this difficulty in the matter? The question that would arise is whether the goods supplied to the public by the retail dealer were in the same condition as when they left the manufacturer. My contention was that the courts and the local authorities would be so discouraged that prosecutions would cease altogether.
§ MR. BRYCE
I should have thought that in that case the onus probandi of showing that there had been any change-in the goods would rest upon the manufacturer, and that difficulty would be completely met in this way. I should also have thought that in those cases which are tested by analysis any change in the character of goods not likely to-be caused by lapse of time would not be a change which affected the analysis. However, that is a highly technical question on which I, as a layman, will not dwell. In this case it is better to get at the large men—at the manufacturer or wholesale dealer—for by such means you secure more effective protection for the public. One difficulty in getting-a conviction against the local dealer arises from the fact that in many cases, even if, he is called upon to show that the article was pure, there is sympathy with him on the part of the court trying the case, and there is a disposition to let him off because he could not have known that 369 he had been imposed upon by the large dealer—a sympathy which would not exist if the large dealer himself were before the court. Therefore, the latter person is the better one to strike at. I cannot acquiesce as a matter of policy in the view stated by the Government that it is better to prosecute the retailer that the wholesale dealer. I think it is much better to get at the wholesale dealer if you can. These are the chief points in the Bill upon which I wish to remark. But I must say I think it is rather a pity that the Government should have brought forward the Bill so soon after it was printed. I have heard that there is a great deal of feeling in the country, and a great desire has been aroused to make representations in regard to the Measure, and it seems rather a pity, therefore, that the Government did not bring forward their Agricultural Holdings Bill first, and let this Bill come second, although the First Lord of the Treasury said, a few days ago, that he believed the agricultural community were more anxious to have this Bill first. I saw to-day a letter from the Secretary to the Scottish Chambers of Agriculture, expressing a strong desire that the Agricultural Holdings Bill should come before this Bill. I make this observation for the sake of suggesting to the Government that they ought not to send this Bill to the Committee at once, but should give full and ample time for representations regarding it to be received from the country. It touches a great many trades, and excites a good deal of interest, and it would be a mistake, I think, to hurry it forward until the feeling of the country was well ascertained as to the course which should be taken on the Bill. I must say, I think it rather a defective Measure, containing many points very much open to question. On the other hand, I cannot find that even the ingenuity of the honourable Members for Islington and Glasgow has succeeded in convincing me it is so bad that it ought not be read a second time. But it will require careful consideration, and I hope we shall be able, as suggested by the honourable Member for Devonport, to screw it up a little more tightly, and make it a more complete protection against fraud than it appears to be at present.
§ MR. LOPES (Grantham)
I think the right honourable Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture may fairly congratulate himself upon the reception which the Bill has met with at the hands of the House, for, although there has been a considerable amount of criticism, everybody approves the principle contained in the Measure. For my own part, I believe the Bill is essentially a useful and practical one. It is an honest endeavour on the part of the Government, not merely to put an end to the unfair competition between adulterated produce and really genuine articles, but to put down, as far as possible, the whole system of adulteration which is so prevalent, and has done so much injury to the interests of the whole community. The adulteration of food has been reduced almost to an exact science, and it is owing to the blissful ignorance of the people as to the gross frauds to which they are subjected that they have in the past been so extremely apathetic and indifferent on this matter. I confess I was surprised to find any honourable Gentleman, even with the very keenest scent for the taint of protection, getting up in this House and suggesting he has been able to discover it in a Bill of this kind. But it was left to the honourable Member for Islington to make this somewhat startling and surprising discovery. He moved the rejection of this Bill mainly upon the ground that it was a protective Measure in the interests of agriculture. If it is a protective Measure at all, it is protection, not only in the interests of agriculturists, but also of the trader and general consumer. The producer of an article has a right to know that what he exposes for sale is not subjected to unfair competition, and, if that is conceded, then the consumer has an equal right to know that what he buys is a really genuine article, and something which is not prejudicial to his health. The honourable Member went on to say that the effect of this Bill would be to force the people of this country to consume bad butter made at home, instead of good butter imported from Normandy. But this Bill only subjects butter imported from abroad to the same analysis as the butter which we produce in this country, and if it is fair, right, and reasonable that home-produced butter should be subjected to inspecti6n, surely it is also just 371 and reasonable that butter imported from abroad should be inspected. If I may pass for a few moments to the more serious criticisms upon this Bill, I should like to point out that while some Members have said that it is not drastic enough, others have remarked that it is far too drastic, and I venture, therefore, to think that the reasonable presumption is that my right honourable Friend has been very wise in steering a middle course between the two extremes. He has in that way avoided many pitfalls and many difficulties, and I think he has taken the course which is most likely to secure the best result. While the Bill has taken every reasonable precaution that the trade of this country shall be conducted upon sound, honest, and upright principles, it does not unduly harass any legitimate interest, nor does it put an end to any lawful trade. Another criticism brought against this Bill is that the Board of Agriculture is not the proper authority for dealing with these matters. Why, Sir, there is no shifting of responsibility from the Local Government Board to the Board of Agriculture of any of the powers which the Local Government Board has hitherto exercised. I agree with my honourable Friend near me that in a Bill of this kind, which deals absolutely and solely with agricultural matters, we naturally look to the Board of Agriculture to safeguard those interests, and not to the Local Government Board. The farmers, I think, would naturally expect that the Minister of Agriculture should be the controlling authority, and I believe the consumer would be quite as ready to put his interests in the hands of my right honourable Friend. Now, Sir, there comes the question of margarine. To have heard many of the speeches, one would almost imagine that the Bill was intended to deal with margarine only. I know that there are many honourable Friends of mine sitting on this side of the House who may be naturally disappointed that the colouring of margarine has not been prohibited. I believe also that there is a strong feeling in this direction in the agricultural community, but when my right honourable Friend comes down to this House and tells us that, after the most careful examination, and after consulting expert authority, he is perfectly convinced that to prohibit the colouring of margarine 372 would destroy the margarine trade, I ask this House seriously whether it is prepared to take such a responsibility on its shoulders. I, for my part, would not associate myself with legislation of that kind. I believe it would be most unfair, most unwise, and most impolitic if we were to put down the legitimate trade in margarine, which, if it is not so nutritious as butter, is still wholesome and palatable, and does contain certain valuable nutritive properties, and is largely bought and consumed by the poorer part of the community. One honourable Member said that colouring meant fraud. I advise him to preach that doctrine to his agricultural. Friends. I am perfectly convinced of this, that if you are to permit the farmers to colour their butter, which they simply do in order to make it more saleable, more palatable, and more acceptable to the common taste, then it is impossible to prohibit the colouring of margarine. Some honourable Members seem to think that margarine competes with butter, and that if you were to destroy the trade in it you would very much enhance the sale of butter. I believe that that is an entire fallacy. I do not believe that margarine is competing against butter to-day. The price of butter as compared with margarine is so prohibitive that if you were to do away with the margarine trade to-morrow you would not increase the sale of butter, but you would simply take away from the poorer classes of the community a valuable commodity which they consume in very large quantities. One honourable Member on the other side said he regretted that the Bill had made no definite provision prohibiting the putting into milk of anything injurious to health. But I would remind him that at the present time, if it is shown that any preservatives are put into milk which are injurious to health, the case can be dealt with under the Sale of Foods Act, 1875. Not only that, the Act has done something to prevent the adulteration of these articles by very largely increasing the penalties under the Bill, and I confess that I, for one, should have no objection to see in it an additional penalty allowing imprisonment to be imposed in some cases. It is perfectly true that the Bill does not set up Courts of Reference in order to establish a fixed standard of purity. I believe it would 373 be almost impossible to establish such a fixed standard for every article. The composition of commodities which are sold under one and the same name varies so considerably. We know that the substance and quality of milk varies in different seasons, and it would be almost impossible to fix any definite standard so as to say where purity ends and where adulteration begins. There would be this additional danger, that there would be a tendency on the part of the manufacturer to level down his produce to the point which would satisfy the standard, and thus you might have levelling down instead of levelling up. The Bill goes a very long way indeed towards satisfying the requirements of agriculturists on this matter, because it authorises the Board of Agriculture to determine what deficiency or addition to milk would raise a fair presumption that the article was adulterated. Now, Sir, this Bill deals with articles which are very largely consumed, and which, I believe, are adulterated more than any other, and by shifting the responsibility of the proof of purity upon the seller, I think you are doing something which will act as a strong deterrent, and you are going very far to meet the wishes of agriculturists, as well as to safeguard the interests of consumers. So much for the criticisms which have been passed with respect to the Bill. I believe myself that this Measure has far more prospect of being a success than any other Bill owing to the power which the Board of Agriculture have taken to initiate proceedings themselves, and to take samples all over the country, as well as to exercise authority over defaulting local authorities. We know very well that the success of a Measure depends far more upon the spirit in which it is carried out than upon the actual measure of the law. Where these Acts have been properly administered, they have been proved to be most beneficial; in fact, instances were given before the Committee in which many forms of adulteration had altogether disappeared. We know that some authorities have for different reasons been extremely adverse to taking proceedings under these Acts, but I do think that the extra power which has been given to the Board of Agriculture to force local authorities to take action will prove extremely bene- 374 ficial and satisfactory in its results. I have only to thank the House for the patience with which it has listened to me, and to say that I support the Bill because I believe it is an honest, practical, and genuine attempt on the part of the Government to put down adulteration. It does not unduly harass or vex any industry, it is not class legislation, but it is legislation in the interests of the whole community.
§ MR. G. WHITELEY (Stockport)
While I have taken for many years great interest in this matter, as a Member of the Committee upstairs, which has been so often referred to, I desire to say a few words upon this Bill. I came down to the House to-day with the full intention to bless the Bill, and I desire to congratulate the President of the Board of Agriculture on the fact that under circumstances most difficult, and amid a variety of conflicting interests, some of which are almost irreconcilable, he has evolved a Bill which is an honest and fair attempt to steer an even keel between all interests surrounding this matter. But I am bound to say that I do look upon several phrases which fell from the Secretary to the Local Government Board with great alarm. An honourable Member on the other side of the House described this Bill as class legislation, and I believe he hinted that it was tinged with protection. Nobody in this House is more opposed to anything savouring of class legislation than I am, and I confess I cannot see in what sense or by what twist or turn of the imagination this Bill can be described as class legislation. It seems to me it may be better described as omnibus legislation—it is intended for all and to reconcile the differences of all. I have regarded this Bill throughout as a compromise—a compromise in which all the interests affected by it has had to surrender something in order to contribute to the solution of the difficult}'. I have looked upon the essential and fundamental parts of this compromise as these: Firstly, that the agricultural interest fail to obtain what they are striving for, namely, the prohibition of the colouring of margarine; whilst, secondly, the distributing and consuming classes has had taken from them the possibility of obtaining margarine of a better quality than that 375 which contains not more than 10 per cent. of butter fat. It seems to me that there are three interests affected. There is the agricultural—the butter producing interest, who have undoubtedly sought for years to obtain the prohibition of the colouring of margarine and the admixture of butter with it. My right honourable Friend has not gone to that extent, and, therefore, that is their contribution to the solution of this difficulty. Then I come to the distributing interest. This, perhaps, is best represented by the Federation of Grocers' Associations, which represents the whole of the grocers of England, and possibly of Great Britain. From that Federation I have from time to time introduced deputations to my right honourable Friend, as well as to the President of the Local Government Board. And, connected with these, are the margarine producers, and these two classes are naturally very much disappointed with the restriction as to the amount of butter fat to be allowed in margarine in the future. Gentlemen connected with the margarine trade, who have possibly a greater stake in this matter than any others, tell us that this Bill will cut"off those higher classes of margarine which have been produced, and which have been sold by the distributors at a grenter profit than is obtained for the lower classes. Some manufacturers say that it will seriously hamper their business. They have for years been accustomed to producing the better classes of margarine; they have built up a trade which is now to be destroyed, and they will practically have to begin business over again. But, while the Bill cuts off the production of the higher classes of margarine, I am assured by others that it will permit of their producing still an excellent and valuable article of food. I do not agree with the right honourable Gentleman that the higher classes of margarine which have contained 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. of butter fat are not superior to those containing 10 per cent. I think the right honourable Gentleman has been misinformed on that point. I possibly have met as many margarine producers lately as he has. But I would ask him why has the public been willing to pay the higher price? The contribution of the distributing and margarine producing section to the compromise is that they 376 are prohibited from producing the higher class of margarine and can only produce a quality, which is undoubtedly a lower quality, although at the same time it is an excellent class of food. This I look upon as a fundamental part of the compromise, and if the Government were to propose to depart from it I should have to vote against them. I think it would be, if not a breach of faith, at least unkind treatment, on the part of the Government towards many of us who have taken a great deal of trouble to persuade those with whom we have been associated to accept the Bill. There are other points I had intended to speak upon, but I think they have been laboured sufficiently. With regard to the question of an invoice being a warranty, I do not think it would pass the wit of man to devise in Committee some superscription or foot note which would make an invoice equivalent to a warranty, and thus the difficulty could be disposed of without opening the door to fraud in any degree. It is merely a matter of machinery. I need not press that further. And then there is the consuming interest. The consuming class is not merely the poor class—it is the very poorest of the poor. Nobody buys margarine when he can purchase butter. Necessity is the mother of margarine, as much as she is the mother of invention. Are they to be prohibited from enjoying the better class of margarine? Is the House or the Committee going to take the very grave decision that the only class of margarine they shall be enabled to purchase is one which is as low as can be manufactured, and that the consumer must be content with that? Surely it would be a monstrous thing that the quality of margarine should be ground down to the lowest possible point, and that the poor should be told that they must have that or none. I want to press that strongly home to my right honourable Friend. Then there is the question of the colouring of margarine. Its prohibition has been suggested, and had it been received with favour by the Committee, it would have been recommended. One honourable Member—above all, a Radical and Liberal Member—has suggested that it ought to be coloured blue, and that the working classes of the country, if they cannot buy butter at 10d. 1s., or 1s. 2d. per lb. should be 377 compelled, as an alternative, to have their bread spread with this blue mixture. I can only suggest that the honourable Member who suggests that should himself have to eat blue butter. I am delighted that the right honourable Gentleman has taken a broad and statesmanlike view in refusing to lend an ear to any of these absurd suggestions that have been made. I believe that if he had acceded to the desire to prohibit the colouring of margarine or to enforce its colouring in any other shade, he would have raised a storm of indignation in the country. It would have been a most dangerous proceeding, and I am sure that many of us in this House would have vehemently and vigorously opposed it. Many of us who have taken an interest in this matter, and have recognised, or have thought we recognised, agricultural leanings on the part of the Government, have looked forward to the production of this Bill with some anxiety. I myself, a supporter of the Government, have done so with some degree of fear and perturbation. I am rejoiced and relieved, therefore, to find, now it has been produced, that it is an honest and fair attempt to reconcile all our differences. I hope that it will pass in the state practically in which it has been introduced. May I press this upon the House, that it should be looked upon as an honourable compromise, and that it is essential that the fundamental parts of that compromise should be retained in it. Speaking as I do for a large industrial population, and knowing as I do the feeling of the industrial classes, I am sure that if it is passed in the form in which it is now introduced, it will remove from the sphere of contention topics and matters which have agitated men's minds for many years past.
§ On the return of Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER after the usual interval,
§ MR. A. MOORE
Before this Debate ends I desire to say a few words upon this subject, having had the honour of seconding the first Resolution dealing with this subject 18 years ago. I find that since then we have had several changes on the question. At that time oleo, that is the crude oil from which margarine is made, was not distinguished from butter, and the whole of these oils and all the butter imports were imported into this country without any dis- 378 tinction being made in the Customs returns. We had to be thankful in those days for very small mercies, and after a good deal of pressure the Government granted us the concession that these Cleo margarine oils should be distinguished from butter. We had the greatest difficulty in getting that concession, notwithstanding the fact that almost every Government in Europe had taken action, and very strong action, upon this question. I have heard Members here to-night speaking in praise of Normandy butter, and recommending it to the consumers in this country. Well, Sir, I would recommend honourable Members who entertain this view to read the reports of the Debates in the French Assembly, and there they will learn how great were the difficulties, and how rife corruption and fraud was in France which necessitated legislation of a stringent character in later years. We have been told that this is legislation in favour of a particular class. I would, however, remind the House and the public of the fact that we paid during the year 1898 16 millions sterling to foreigners for our butter imports. Now, if We take the returns of the analyses made by the Hoard of Customs, we find that in one out, of every nine of those cases a conviction was obtained for fraud, and this gives us some idea of the amount of possible fraud that may exist in connection with our imports. Therefore, I say we are contending here not only for fair play to the agriculturists, but also to the citizens of all your populous districts, and I have now the honour myself to sit here as the representative of a large working class constituency. In addition to the 10 millions that you import from abroad, we send you from seven to nine millions from Ireland every year: but for all that I do not want to spare the Irish butter maker, because I want to bring him up to the full level and height of his duty, I have had the honour for some years to be connected with my right honourable Friend opposite in the noble efforts he has made on behalf of the Irish agriculturists, and I say that it is the desire of all intelligent men who have examined this question to raise the standard of the imports of Irish butter, and we do not want to spare fraud any more at home than we do abroad. I come now, Sir, to the question of the administration 379 of this Act, and I find that there is one extremely weak point in this Bill. We have had an exhaustive discussion—in fact a very prolonged and minute discussion—and I think much of what has been said might very well have been said on the Committee Stage of the Bill. Minute details have, been closely investigated, but there seems to me to be one point which has entirely escaped the notice of every speaker who has preceded me, and that is the question of registration. Now, this question is not altered by the present Bill, for registration under this Act goes back to clause 9 of the Act of 1887. which provides that the factories for the manufacture of margarine should be registered by the local authority, and the local authority is defined as being the authority which has the power to appoint an analyst. I must say that we never have had a thorough system of registration of factories, and we never shall have, unless some strong measures be taken to enforce this clause. This is part of the principle of your Bill, and if you shut one door and exclude fraudulent butter substitutes, by means of the Customs authorities, from coming into the country, you ought not to leave the door of the manufacturer open and allow him to put any amount that suits his convenience of fraudulent butter substitutes upon the market. If you adopt no means of detecting such practices, then your Bill, while it deals severely with the foreigner, allows the home manufacturer to go practically unpunished. This point, I think, requires to be very carefully considered. You must have some efficient system of registration, because it is useless to expect that the local authorities can be relied upon for carrying out this registration work. When the Committee were investigating this subject upstairs what were we told had taken place in London? We were told that an officer had initiated several prosecutions under the Act of 1887, but for doing that he was had up before the local authority and severely reprimanded; therefore I say that you cannot rely upon the local authorities in this matter. It must be remembered that you are dealing with a very profitable trade, which does not scruple to spend very large sums of money in its own defence. It is a trade which has been making from one time to another during the last 18 years profits varying from 50 to 100 per cent.
380 Under such circumstances to talk of lines is absurd, and I was astonished to find that the honourable Member for Devon-port did not know that these fines were paid by an association. Therefore, fines in these cases are useless, because if the retailer is condemned to pay a fine it is paid by the association out of a joint fund, and this fact is perfectly notorious. Therefore, I emphasise the point that lines are perfectly useless in such a profitable business; and it is hopeless to expect the local authority to put this law vigorously into force, because some of the members of those local bodies may be engaged in this profitable business themselves.
I may point out that clause 3 provides that where a local authority fails to carry out the Act the Board of Agriculture can carry it out for them.
§ *MR. A. MOORE
This interruption like most interruptions, recoils upon the interrupter. The fact is that the central authority may do this when the local authority is in default, but if the right honourable Gentleman will turn back to the Act of 1887 he will find that the local authority, and that authority only, has the power to register these manufactories. No doubt the right honourable Gentleman and the Minister for Agriculture would never have allowed things to come to this pass but for the fact that their hands have been tied. You cannot move against a manufacturer unless he is declared to be one, and he cannot be declared to be one and known unless he is registered as such. My experience has been this—that, I have known these factories to exist, and I have gone to the Government authorities and searched the records of the Board of Trade, and yet I have been unable to find any record whatever of these factories which I have known myself to exist. I need not say that it is absolutely illogical to put heavy pressure upon the foreigner through the Board of Customs if you are not going to close the door by which these fraudulent butter substitutes might come from the manufacturers in this country. I want to ask-also is this Act going to be enforced? 1s it going to be worked? If anybody will take the trouble to read the Act of 1887 they will find that there is a perfect army of officials under that Act, and what is 381 the reason why none of them have done anything-? What guarantee have we that this Act is going to be worked? As regards these officials to whom I have referred, there are no less than five classes, numbering many thousands of officers. In the first place, you have all the officers of the Board of Inland Revenue; secondly, you have all the Customs officials; thirdly, the medical officers of health; fourthly, you have the inspectors of nuisances; and, fifthly, you have the police constables, authorised under the Pood and Drugs Act of Now, how is it that with all these officials nothing has been done under the Act of 1887, and what guarantee have we got that this Act will not be such a lamentable failure as the Act which has preceded it? Then I come to another point—and it has been alluded to by many other honourable Members; it is, however, one of extreme importance, and that is the power which the Board of Agriculture takes, for the first time, to fix standards. The feeling of the country is rather that this sweeping power should be delegated to a board of scientific experts. I am not, however, opposed to this provision, although it is one of very great importance, and will require very careful examination in Committee. Under this clause, however, it might be possible to do us a very great injury indeed in our Irish butter trade. Some honourable Members who have spoken alluded to the question of water in butter. Now, in the high-class fresh butter we have no reason to object to any standard which you may choose to fix, no matter how high you may fix it: but there is also the salt butter trade, so very well known in past years, and which is peculiar to Ireland, that is the system of producing and conserving butter which preserves all its high qualities and delicate aroma right into the early months of spring. I have tasted this sort of butter myself, five or six months after it has been made, and found that it possessed all the aroma and flavour of the finest butter. That was a special Irish trade in the days before the advent of steamers and before there were any refrigerators. I believe that in the north of England there is still a demand for that butter; therefore, speaking on behalf of the producers, I say that this butter cannot be made without added water, and that this is a matter which will 382 have to be very carefully considered I should just like to say one or two words about preservatives, for I think it a most serious thing that this country should tolerate the putting of these powerful drugs into butter and other produce, and by this means forcing them down the throats of the people twice and three times a day. These are very strong and potent drugs, and the question is, do you wish to have them forced upon you and upon your children at every meal. It seems to me that this is a question which requires immediate attention, and although the Board of Agriculture are taking upon themselves under this Bill very heavy responsibilities, I for one do not object, because we shall be able to control and follow their action in this House. I must say that I think it is very ill-timed to hear all these gibes and jeers on this side of the House directed against the Board of Agriculture. The whole of Europe is far in advance of this country. Only the other day a young man asked me where he could get a thorough agricultural training. I am sorry that I had to state that there was no thoroughly scientific agricultural education to be had in this country, and was obliged to advise him to go to Louvain, and now that you have established a Board of Agriculture? think that we ought to support it, and try and make i(what it-ought to be—a thoroughly efficient department. I was glad to hear the right honourable Gentleman on the Treasury Bench, and several others on this side, speak in favour of imprisonment as a penalty under this Bill, although I know-that it is a serious matter. I do not wish to take any extreme action on this question, as the representative of the producers, but I wish to say that many of the fines which are now imposed are neither here nor there, and they are absolutely useless. As I said at the beginning of this Debate, it is well known that margarine producers have an association which guarantees to see any shopkeeper through who gets into trouble through selling margarine. We should all deplore to see such a power used unnecessarily, but I do think such a provision ought to be inserted in the Bill, and I hope the right honourable Gentleman will be prepared to strengthen the Measure on the point in accordance with the recommendations suggested from this side of the House.
MR, ASCROFT (Oldham)
In making the few remarks which I snail now address to the House I am not speaking in the interests of manufacturers, but in favour of protecting the health of the people of this country. The object of this Bill is, first of all, to stop the introduction into this country of adulterated produce, and that will be quite useless unless action is to be taken at the port of entry. If that is to be effectively achieved, you must strengthen your Bill in this way—that where analysis has been taken and where adulteration has been discovered you must have the power of detaining those goods until judgment has been delivered, and then if adulteration is proved let us have a confiscation of the whole goods. Then there are other points upon which I should like a distinct and clear under standing. I differ with the Secretary of the Local Government Board in the view which he takes as to how the Bill will affect the retailer. He tells us that he has studied the question, but I am perfectly certain that he is wrong. He tells us that the only way to stamp out adulteration is to punish the small retail shopkeepers. But that is not the way to do it. I have heard it said that if you want to get rid of thieves, the best way to do it is to get rid of the receivers. If you wish to get rid of this evil you must first get rid of these great syndicates who send over their filthy stuff into this country. It is almost impossible for small shopkeepers to have these things analysed, but if the law is altered, when the shopkeeper who is summoned hands to the court his invoice, the court will then know who to proceed against, and it will probably be the merchant over in Manchester or Liverpool. In scores of cases the merchant knows perfectly well when those goods are sent out that they are not goods of the quality which they ought to be, and that the invoice is a misrepresentation. The Under Secretary said that we can achieve this with the present Act, but in my experience that is not so. Thousands of these little shopkeepers in the country go to the merchant and ask him to trust them with the goods, and when the merchant knows that he will have to wait for the money the shopkeepers are in his hands, and it is utterly impossible for them to 384 force from him the guarantee which is provided for under this Act. Therefore, I say this is the greatest blot on this Act, and you are taking the wrong course if you only stop this practice in this country. If the merchant was made responsible he would soon give the foreigner notice that he would have no more of his rotten goods. Why is it that prosecutions under this Act are to be taken under the Food and Drugs Act? Margarine prosecutions are taken under the Margarine Act of 1887, and why should there be any alteration, because margarine and butter adulteration is pretty nearly the same? That is another ground of objection to this Bill. Then there is another point. In the Margarine Act of 1883, in the Factory Act, and in many other Acts which I could name, provision is made that where an employer can show that he has taken every precaution to prevent adulteration, and that those around him in authority have disobeyed his orders, then he is able to bring that servant before the court, the employer is released, and the servant is fined. Now, why was this left out of the present Act? There must be some reason for it. If you had this provision that the assistants in shops would be liable, they would constitute one of the greatest checks to prevent fraud, because it would turn every shopman all over the country into a sort of amateur policeman. You would have the shopman saying to his employer—Here I am liable to this penalty, and I cannot afford to pay it; therefore I decline to sell these adulterated goods, and you must get your goods from some place where they are not adulterated.You would thus have a system of amateur police all over the country who would do very much to assist in carrying out the object of this Bill. I may say that I am speaking not only on behalf of my constituents, but also in accordance with the representations and request of an association which comprises nearly all the grocers and provision dealers in my own constituency, who welcome this Bill, which will do much to put a stop to fraud and adulteration. The shopkeepers are not able to protect themselves, and so we ask them to assist us in stamping out this fraudulent system which has been going on so long, and we say that the only way in which 385 it can be done effectually is in the way we suggest. You should be able in the easiest possible way to get at the man who is guilty of the fraud and who knows of it. How can a poor shopkeeper know, because he is entirely in the hands of the dealer? But if you will make him one of your friends he will be ready to help you to put an end to the fraud. Now on those three points I should like to have a little information from the right honourable Gentleman. First of all, in respect of the invoice as a warranty; secondly, as to the section by which the assistant who disobeys his employer's orders can be made liable as under the Margarine Act. That certainly ought not to be left out unless it has proved to be a failure. Can the right honourable Gentleman tell us of any case where a young man has set his employer at defiance and by that means evaded the Act or made the Act a nullity. We say that you have no right, unless you have good cause, to prosecute under the Food and Drugs Act when you have already an Act which deals with that particular question and meets the case, and which is perfeetly strong enough to meet this case if the Act is only put in force. There is no other point of any importance which I wish to detain the House upon. I am anxious and willing to sup port the Bill, and I welcome it. I believe that the Bill may be made strong enough if the instances I have alluded to can be inserted; and if I can have some assurance upon these points I shall feel that the Government are prepared to go to the Committee with an open mind, ready to discuss the matter fully and to do what is thought best in the interests of the whole country. Unless they are prepared to do this I shall be unfortunately compelled to go into the Lobby against the Bill.
§ CAPTAIN DONELAN (Cork, E.)
This Bill has been so deeply thrashed out and criticised by high authorities on both sides of the House that I only intend to occupy the time of the House for a very brief space. But as the representative of the very great butter producing province of Munster, I desire to say that I support this Bill, not because I consider that it is by any means a heroic Measure, but because I think that it is better to obtain an instalment of 386 justice than to obtain no justice at all. Probably no country is more deeply interested in the prevention of adulteration and spurious imitations of articles of food than Ireland, because—thanks chiefly, I regret to say, to what ought to have been the blessings of British rule —the production of articles of food is practically the only industry left in Ireland. Therefore, this Bill will certainly be regarded as a step in the right direction by the Irish people, although in their opinion, as in mine, it certainly does not go nearly far enough. Most of the objections which I have to the Bill have been already made. For instance, I consider that the punishment provided is altogether inadequate. The French system, I think, imprisons a man upon the second conviction, and I think that system should be adopted in this Bill. As has been already said, the wholesale dealers and manufacturers of fraudulent margarine can snap their fingers at the fines which are to be inflicted under this Bill, for they can pay the largest fine imposed, because, as the honourable Member for Londonderry has stated, the association pays the fines. A good deal has been said in reference to the fixing of the standard of water in butter, and my honourable friend the Member for Devonport implied that Irish butter contained rather an undue proportion of water. That may be the case or may not be, but I know that the Cork butter market have strict rules on the subject, and they do not permit butter in their market that contains over 18 per cent. of water. But be that as it may, I know that it is the general desire in Ireland that a water standard should be fixed, and I sincerely trust that something in that way may be done in Committee. Another blot in the Bill which has been pointed out in this Debate is the fact that no steps have been taken to prevent the colouring of margarine so as to imitate butter. It has been said that if prevention was made in that direction we should also require that the same laws must necessarily apply to butter. As far as I am concerned I really cannot see that there is any great analogy in the two cases. Butter is coloured simply because it is the custom and because it suits the present taste, and it is not coloured for the purpose of deception. Now, I venture to say that 387 margarine in nine cases out of ten is coloured for the purpose of deception. I think that the colouring of butter might be very well compared to the addition of a little rouge to improve a lady's complexion: the colouring of margarine might be very well compared to putting on a mask to hide the face. The whole aim of margarine manufacture, in my humble judgment, is to endeavour to produce as exact an imitation of butter as they possibly can, and when margarine is coloured to imitate rich grass-fed butter people are naturally inclined to buy it; they consume it, and if they are not poisoned altogether they are apparently satisfied. I think this Bill should also compel spurious imitations to be called by their proper names. Even if margarine is the palatable and the toothsome substance that some honourable Gentlemen have declared it to be, although I have very considerable doubts as to whether those honourable Gentle men are able to speak from experience as to what the taste of margarine really is—in fact one honourable Gentleman was kind enough to admit, while speaking favourably of margarine, that he had always avoided inflicting such an injustice upon his system as tasting it—it should be described as margarine. It is hard enough for Irish farmers to struggle against honest competition without having to fight against fraud. Therefore, Sir, the more stringent the provisions of the Bill are made in the direction of preventing adulteration or obvious imitation, the better Irish farmers will be pleased. The other reason why Irish farmers require protection is that they have not only to fight against fraud, but the whims of fashion. I suppose that Ireland is too near home to be fashionable, and therefore fashionable, but more especially would be fashionable people must go to Denmark and Normandy for their butter, just as they go to Norway for their scenery, although they might find a far superior quality of both the one and the other in Ireland. But notwithstanding this drawback, Irish farmers can very well hold their own if they get fair play. All they ask is fair play and no favour. For that reason I desire to support this Bill, and I have reason to hope, from what the honourable Member for Tyrone, South, says, the Bill will be improved in Committee.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
The honourable Member for Aberdeen, East, has very severely criticised the Bill, as well as other honourable Members on the other side of the House. But he has probably forgotten that when he sat on this side of the House the Board of Agriculture never did anything in this matter. I did not rise, however to bring recriminations before the House, but simply to support, from an agriculture point of view, the Second Reading of the Bill. I think the Minister of Agriculture is entitled to the utmost consideration from the agricultural interest for having brought in this Bill, and for having done what he has done on this extremely difficult subject. It is the best Bill which has been laid on the Table of the House ever since I have been here. I do not go so far as to say that they are perfectly satisfied with it. Neither am I. As to the margarine question, my friends would have wished that margarine had been left in its natural stale, or else coloured blue, black, or green. I think the Minister of Agriculture sees also that it is practically impossible to do this, for if it were done it would practically kill the margarine trade. That is not what we want to do at all. The margarine trade is a very large trade in this country. Margarine itself is eaten by a very considerable section of the population, and practically there is very little harm in it. If we allow the people to drink what they are pleased to call British port and British sherry, to eat "fill" cheese, or drink milk fortified with boraeic acid, it would be hard to penalise people who desired to eat mar-garine as a cheap substitute for butter, and one which does no harm to health. I think the agricultural interest should be generous in this matter, and for two reasons: first, if you allow margarine to be rouged, as an honourable Member opposite suggested. I hardly see what the butter producers can do, for you would have to prevent them also from colouring their products. In the second place, if you kill the margarine trade—for this margarine sells at present at the rate of 4½d. to 7d. per lb.—I do not see how it would help the agricultural interests, because a very large class of the people who are at present able to buy margarine could not afford to buy pure butter. Under all these circumstances it is better 389 to reserve any of these details for the Committee upstairs. I would advise my agricultural friends in East Anglia to thankfully accept this Hill as a very considerable half loaf which the Minister of Agriculture has given them, and which is a good deal better than no bread at all.
CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfar)
The speech of the honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, coupled with many other speeches delivered in the course of the Debate, must have left on the House the impression that a large section of the House supports this Bill as a Measure intended to aid the agricultural industry. It seems to me that the first blot on the Bill is that it is so stamped with the Board of Agriculture. The Bill starts under very great disadvantages, as was pointed out early in the Debate by the honourable Gentleman who sits on this side of the House. The honourable Member for Londonderry reproached Members on this side of the House for taking no interest in agriculture. I do not think that is a fair reproach. There is work which the Board of"Agriculture has to do in connection with agriculture, but it should have nothing to do with he province of administration, and no justification has been laid before the House for the departure from the proposals made the year before last. The administration of all previous Adulteration Acts has always lain with the Local Government Board, and it was from the Reports of the Local Government Board that we could judge of tin-progress made in cheeking adulteration.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
I beg the honourable and gallant Member's pardon. The work which it is proposed that the Board of Agriculture should do under this Bill is work which ii has done for several years, and which was commenced at the instance of the right honourable Member for Monmouth West, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
That is not so very long ago. The Board of Agriculture has been established since the last Adulteration Act was passed, and if you want to look at the progress of this country in checking adulteration it is 10 the Reports of the Local Government Board that you have to go. In Scotland 390 the administration of the Adulteration Acts is not with the Board of Agriculture, hut with the Local Government Board. Everyone who approves of this Bill has done so from the point of view that it is a protective Measure. Even the honourable Gentleman behind me, before he sat down, said that Irish Agriculture badly needs protection, and that Irish farmers badly want protection.
There is no mention in this Bill except protection from! fraud. I do not want to take advantage of the honourable and gallant Member's extreme sensitiveness on the question of protection. The Bill is a Measure designed chiefly for securing protection from fraud. But let me suggest that in regard to protection from fraud this Bill is an entire departure from previous Adulteration Acts. It is perfectly true that if a substance—a compound substance—was found to be injurious, it was ipso farto a criminal act to sell it; but if the article was not injurious to health, all that the previous Acts insisted upon was that such a substance should be labelled what it is, so that the man who buys it shall know what he is getting. In this Bill you go a great deal further in laying down that the sale of a substance which can be consumed without injury to health shall be prohibited. It should be remembered that we are legislating, not only for the present, but for the future, and how do you know that scientific research and chemical experiment may not bring a much fuller knowledge in regard to foods than we possess now? Now, a great deal has been said about margarine. Well, there are lots of people—there are even some in this House, who have eaten margarine, and there is no one who will maintain for a moment that margarine is injurious to health. I cannot for the life of me see how the Government is justified, no matter what knowledge they may have on the subject, in taking this departure from the lines adopted in previous legislation on adulteration. Will the right honourable Gentleman explain?
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
What we propose doing now in regard to imported milk etc., is what has already been done by the Board 391 of Agriculture, but only doing it in a somewhat different way. The honourable and gallant Member is also mistaken in saying that we propose in the future to follow a different course in Scotland than in the past.
I hold the view very strongly that the clause dealing with the 10 per cent. addition of butter to margarine is a bad clause, and a departure from the principles of previous Adulteration Acts. The first principle was that if an article of food was injurious to health it was ipso facto a criminal act to sell that article. And the second principle was that if the article was not injurious to health and was sold, it should only be labelled with a description of what it really was. This Bill goes beyond both these principles. The Government conceive themselves justified in doing so, but I cannot agree with them. They do not limit themselves to saying that it shall be labelled margarine, but that it shall not contain more than 10 per cent. of butter fat. The Secretary of the Local Government Board says that he bases his figures on information given him by manufacturers of margarine, and that the ground of their taking this step was that it is impossible if you mix butter with margarine to prevent fraud. In fact, they wish to shut the door against all trade in a mixture of butter with margarine, which is perfectly wholesome, because they say there will be no guarantee that it had been manufactured as margarine and not as butter. That is limiting the supply of what is a valuable food of the people without sufficient reason. They tell us that they wish to protect against fraud, but I say that if you would have behind you the sympathy of the people the protection must be reasonable, and I maintain that it is not reasonable for, the Legislature to step in and prevent the sale of an article which is perfectly wholesome, and which is really wanted by hundreds of thousands of poor families throughout the country. I hope we shall have more information from the Government as to the three points mentioned in his speech by the honourable Member for Oldham, namely, the question of warranty, the question of the shop assistants, and the question of the prosecutions being made under the Margarine Act. Another objection which I have to this Bill is that it makes a 392 very serious interference with the work of the local authorities. I agree with the honourable Member for Devonport, that by good administration you could cure 90 per cent. of the evils now complained of, but that would not be done at all under this Bill. How are you going to get good administration if you propose to carry out what was deliberately rejected by the Committee which sat on this question, namely, the constitution of a great central authority to over-ride the local authorities. I quite agree that the local authorities may have been apathetic and slow in the administration of the existing Adulteration Acts. But local authorities have been apathetic about the administration of other Acts. The figures which the President of the Board of Agriculture gave us last night seemed to show that in London, at any rate, the administration of the local authorities had very largely diminished the evils. Then as to the examinations at ports, it is said that these were diminishing. But is not that an indication to the Government that they should not, without further consideration, enact the provisions giving them a title to over-ride the local authorities? It is said that this is a very short cut towards improvement in a matter like this, but probably it will be found to be the longest way round in the end. Local authorities have been apathetic hitherto in administration in regard to education, but I do not see that that affords ground for this House acting in such a way as will inevitably paralyse altogether the action of the local authorities. You have got two courses open. You should provide better information on the subject of adulteration to the local authorities in all parts of the country, when they would assuredly recognise their responsibilities in the matter, and work more actively to repress adulteration. You cannot expect people to move unless they feel what is complained of. The evils are far more acute in the large towns, where the catering for the necessities of life are in the hands of large contractors, than in the country districts, and I therefore deplore altogether the very stringent proposals of the Bill giving power to the central authority to over-ride the local authorities. It deprives the local authorities of responsibility, and centralises the administration to a degree that 393 is not justifiable. As a matter of fact, the country does not know what the provisions of the Bill really mean. The Bill was only introduced on Monday last, and discussed for the first time on Thursday. The great number of telegrams which have been received by a large number of Members on both sides of the House in regard to many of the provisions in the Bill is sufficient proof that traders, manufacturers, and retail dealers have not yet realised what the provisions of the Bill really mean. There is great misapprehension as to the Clause dealing with warranty, and in regard to that and many other points there is a great want of information and knowledge. I must confess that if the President of the Board of Agriculture is satisfied with the reception given to the Bill he must be a very sanguine man, for there is no Member of the House who has not taken one objection or another to its provisions. I am certain if my honourable Friend who moved the rejection of the Bill has not a large following, he, at any rate, has the sympathy of many honourable Members on both sides of the House. I object to the proposed over-riding of the local authorities to the Clause which prevents the mixing of butter with margarine, and also to the fact that the Bill from first to last is a Bill dealing with the interests of agriculture and not with the interests of the general consumer—as all previous Adulteration Acts have done—and the general consumer, it should be remembered, includes the agriculturist.
§ *GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
I think that the object of the Bill was very aptly described by the honourable Member for the Thirsk Division of Yorkshire. The policy of the Bill, he said, was inspection, detection, and punishment. In regard to the first two of these—inspection and detection— I think that the local authorities have distinctly their work to do. And the question is whether they have fairly done it or not. Now, I have in my hand a return from the whole of the local authorities in London, showing how they have tried to put the Adulteration Acts in force and how utterly impossible it has been for them to do so satisfactorily owing to their inability to obtain the 394 fruits of the third object of the Acts— namely, the punishment. Local authority after local authority has spent large sums in obtaining convictions, but the penalties inflicted were trifling. Take the case of Rotherhithe. They spent £124 in prosecutions but only obtained £31 in penalties. St. Mary's, Newington, spent £250 besides analyst's fees, and only obtained penalties of £134. It is absolutely impossible for local authorities to carry out the provisions of the Acts if the magistrates infliet such small fines. The vestry in which I have the honour of a seat carried case after case into court at an average cost of £5 each, and in many cases they only obtained a 5s. fine against the adulterator. In my experience it is not merely a question of margarine, it is not merely a question of dealing with imported articles, it is a question of adulteration producer and get into the hands of the after the goods leave the hands of the distributors. Some honourable Members have taken up the case of the shopkeepers, and some the case of the farmers. I take up the case of the consumer. It is the consumer that ought to be protected, and not until we are able to get the laws enforced—it may be by the strength of the public opinion— shall we get the magistrates to inflict adequate penalties. From 1893 to 1895 it is true the fines have increased occasionally above 5s., but they have often been much less. It is absurd to ask a local body to go into court and spend £5n in obtaining a judgment if the magistrate only inflicts a fine of 1s. or even 5s. Why in one case where it was proved that the so-called butter was adulterated with 60 per cent. of margarine, the fine imposed was only 1s., while the solicitor's costs alone were £2 10s., without reckoning all the other costs. If the local bodies are not enabled to obtain support from the magistrates they will, after a time, give up attempting to enforce the law. After the charges brought against the local authorities in this House I felt that it was only right that I should, on their behalf, show that they had done the best in their power to attempt to enforce the law, and that the failure in the successful enforcement of the law has not been on their side, but has rested 395 on the magistrates over whom they have no control whatever. I am very doubtful in regard to the Clause with regard to the warranty. Action must be taken within 28 days. By the time the sample is taken, and the analysis is made, and action is taken against the original seller, a week has passed probably. Within seven days the seller has the right of pleading that the warranty is a sufficient defence. You then have to go, in the case of milk, to the shipper out in the country, and serve notice on him. He has again seven days privilege before he produces the warranty of the original seller, and, in fact, the 28 days are gone and the local authority is left absolutely helpless. This warranty Clause should be changed, and the person who sells the adulterated article should be held responsible. And the remedy should be against the person who has given the warranty. I hope that the warranty Clause will be amended in Committee.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I appeal to the House to bring the discussion to a close. I have followed this Debate, and I gather the general impression that the view of the House, whatever the opinion of the honourable Members may be as to the particular Clauses, is strongly in favour of the Second Reading of the Bill. Of all the speeches made I have heard not one which has been directed against the main principle of the Measure, unless I except the speech of the honourable Member for one of the divisions of Glasgow. Under these circumstances, I think it is not unreasonable that the Debate, which has been carried on for the best part of two nights, should be brought to a close, and the Bill read a Second Time, and allowed to go to the Grand Committee.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I do not prejudge that now; but to go to Committee. An appeal was made by the honourable Member for Aberdeen, who said, with great force, that it was only right that the country should have a chance of seeing what the provisions of the Bill are. Sympathising with the full strength of that feeling the Government are willing that the Committee stage—whether in Grand Committee or Committee of the 396 whole House—should not be unduly pressed; but I think that it is generally agreed that the Second Reading of the Bill should now be taken. But inasmuch as after all the objections that have been raised to this Bill there seems to be a general desire upon the part of the House that it should be proceeded with, I ask you now to allow us to proceed with an important, though not a very controversial, Measure, by letting us get the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. DILLON
This Bill is one which I confess I am certainly in favour of myself, though I do not think it goes far enough. It is a contentious Bill, and one upon which I certainly do think a great many of the Members of the Committee would like to have a say, both those in favour and those who are opposed to it.
§ MR. DILLON
Yes, no doubt, but then we may not be upon the Committee. But I do not intend to delay the progress of the Bill, because, as I have before remarked. I am myself in favour of it. I only rise for the purpose of pointing out to the House two, in my opinion, important points. The first point is as to the objection to the colouring which is put into margarine in order to make it look like butter. I perfectly agree with the honourable Gentleman the Member for Cork in the views he put forward to the House upon this particular point. The real point is whether margarine should be allowed to be coloured to look like butter for the purposes of fraud. There is nothing aesthetic or particularly beautiful in the colour of butter, and red or pink or blue are just as good as the colour of butter. Then, why should people who sell margarine desire to colour it like butter. It is in order that they should sell it under the fraudulent name of butter. We do not object to their colouring margarine in any way which they think will be aesthetic or beautiful in itself, and which is not distasteful to those who purchase it, but we do object to their colouring it in such a way as to enable them to sell it at a larger price and in a fraudulent manner. But when it is said that if you prohibit the colouring of margarine you must also prohibit the colouring of 397 butter, that is an argument which, I confess, I do not follow. Butter is not coloured to conceal its real essence: it is butter, and it is sold as butter. But margarine is so coloured as to be sold as butter, which it really is not. Now, there is another point to which we in Ireland attach very great importance, which, in my opinion, is not fully or satisfactorily dealt with in this Bill, and that is the question of adulteration by water. Of course, everybody knows there is a class of butter coming from Ireland, largely sold in this country, and particularly in the North of England, which is butter of a very excellent quality, and owing to the diverse opinions of the magistrates upon the law it has been condemned in some districts, whilst in others it has been approved by those magistrates who take a different view. This Irish salt butter, as it is called, is a well-known article of commerce; but in addition to salt, it contains a large proportion of water. But everybody knows that, and this butter is bought upon its merits. Now, what we in Ireland want to know is, how-much water will be allowed in butter? and then we shall be prepared to meet the standard laid down by the statute. It certainly docs seem to me to be a very great injustice to the people of Ireland that they should be called upon to send their butter over to England, not knowing if it is going to be condemned in Manchester and approved in Liverpool. If there is to be allowed so much water in butter—and it must be larger in salt butter than in fresh—the Irish people can meet that fact accordingly. That is a point which, in the opinion of the Irish representatives in this House, ought to be attended to. I do not desire to increase the difficulties of the promoters of this Bill, but what I do earnestly press upon the Government is this—that it is most desirable that this Bill should be referred to a Grand Committee. Now, if they do send it to a Grand Committee, they ought to add to the Committee a full representation of the classes interested in this very important matter.
§ MR. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
This is a Bill which very greatly affects the wholesale manufacturers of margarine, and therefore I would ask the House to allow me to say just a few words upon a Measure which so much affects that interest. In the 398 first place, I wish most emphatically to protest against the wholesale allegations of fraud that have been levelled at the manufacturers of margarine by honourable Gentlemen who have spoken upon this subject from both sides of the House. The manufacturers take every possible precaution to insure that this article shall be sold for nothing else but what it is, and if it is sold in a fraudulent way, as butter or anything else, they always very strongly condemn and resent it. Now, I do not believe that the House really knows what a very great industry it will kill if it passes the 8th Clause of this Bill, which provides that margarine can only be sold with 10 per cent. of butter in it. A very large quantity of margarine sold in this country contains 20 per cent. and 25 per cent. of butter in it, and the company with which I am connected opened a large margarine manufactory in Yorks, and all the margarine manufactured in the manufactory contains a very much larger amount of butter than 10 per cent. The margarine brought to England from abroad contains less than 10 per cent. So that if this Bill is passed; the English industry of margarine is destroyed. It will be killed, whilst the foreign manufacture of margarine will be fostered and encouraged. What you are going to do by this Bill, if it becomes law, is to encourage the manufacture of the poorer class of magarine and kill the better class article altogether. We have heard from honourable Gentlemen in various parts of the House that butter is very much more nutritious and wholesome than margarine, and if that is the case we are going, by this Bill, to prevent people who cannot always afford to buy butter from buying good margarine which contains 40 or 50 per cent. of the more nutritious and wholesome article, butter, in it. There are three classes of people in this country. There are the rich, who wholly confine themselves to butter; the artisan class, who cannot always afford to buy butter in the dearer seasons of the year, and who buy the better class margarine—they cannot always afford butter, but they can always afford margarine of the better grade at 10d. a pound; and there are the poorer classes, who buy inferior margarine. Now, by this Bill, you are going to allow us to sell this poor class of margarine, and going to prevent us 399 from selling the better class article altogether. You are going, if this Bill passes into law, to destroy a very great industry, in which in this country a' very large amount of capital is invested. And if I can find anybody to tell with me, I shall certainly divide the House upon this question, and oppose the Bill so far as lies in my power.
§ *SIR J. LENG (Dundee)
Having sat on the Committee which inquired into this matter upstairs, and having taken some interest in the proceedings, I should now like, if I might trespass upon the patience of the House for a short time, to say a few words upon this subject. My doing so might be avoided if there were an understanding arrived at that a Bill of this great importance should be considered by a Committee of the whole House. The observation made recently by the honourable Gentleman the Member for Mayo that there was a distinct grievance upon a very important point forms the crux of the whole question. How is margarine to be dealt with? In the Committee upstairs an effort was made—and to some extent the idea was adopted in the Report of the Committee, very much against the views of a strong minority of the Committee —that margarine, which it was admitted was a nutritious, wholesome, and useful article of food, should be either entirely discoloured and sold in the same way as lard, or it should be coloured in some distinctive manner so as to distinguish it from anything else, and be coloured pink or blue. We have even heard during the discussion to-night proposals which in some respects may be thought to be of a loyal character that we should have it coloured red, white, and blue. The idea of all these proposals is to make this nutritious article of food distasteful in appearance; in fact, to rule it out as an article of food altogether. The only justification that there can possibly be for introducing any Measure of this kind is that it shall protect the public health and that it shall enforce individual honesty. Now, none of those who sit upon this side of the House wish the public, and especially the poor, either to be poisoned or robbed. We are in favour of honest dealing, and we will support any Measure for which necessity can be shown to secure the honest dealing. But many of us think that, under the Margarine Act as it exists, very ample protection is secured 400 for the poor in this matter. Margarine can only be sold in parcels which have upon the package the word Margarine printed in large letters, and it has been admitted during the Debate that the fault is not so much in the state of the law that at present exists as it is in the administration of it, and a very large number of us would be very glad to support any Measure which would give more power to the agents of the authorities to enforce the law. I must say, with regard to Scotland, with which I am more particularly familiar, that if an attempt were made to override and coerce the local authorities, it would be stoutly resisted. The proposed limitation as to the colouring of margarine and butter, as has been pointed out in the course of the Debate, is an innovation in our legislation. There is no precedent which I know of and upon which it can be based. You are under these proposals about to interfere with the carrying on of a legitimate business. Why do you not attempt the same thing in other directions? Why do you not apply it to beer? Will the right honourable Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture venture to introduce any Measure fixing the proportion of hops and malt to be used in the manufacture of beer? Much less will he attempt to prevent other admixtures, though some of them are known to be manifestly injurious and deleterious. If you adopt this proposal you will establish a precedent for all kinds of mischievous and meddlesome interference with the carrying on of legitimate businesses. As far as regards the admixture of margarine and butter is concerned, I think at present any such admixture can be sold as margarine providing you give notice to the purchaser. The poor can frequently have the means to purchase an honest and fair mixture of these two articles when they could not afford the means to purchase butter itself. No doubt, in many cases the love of cheapness conies into play; in some respects that is a curse. Hut you have to deal with human nature as you find it, and many prefer a cheap article if they can get it, and so long as it is not harmful and mischievous they are entitled to purchase it. We know how women especially love to purchase a bargain, and you have no right to interfere with them in doing so. It is for the persons 401 themselves to exorcise their own judgment as to what they shall purchase. I must congratulate the honourable Gentleman who introduced this Bill, in so far that it is a much less mischievous and meddlesome Measure than I was prepared to expect, and I am very thankful for small mercies. It is a comparatively small Measure, and is neither complicated nor intricate; but it contains elements of great importance, and we are entitled, as there appears to be a great divergence of opinion on the different sides of the House, to discuss it in Committee of the whole House, and not to send it to a Committee where we shall lose all control over it in the future. Therefore, unless the right honourable
§ Gentleman is prepared to signify his willingness that it shall be discussed in the manner in which I suggest, I shall certainly oppose it.
§ MR. CALDWELL, (Lanark, Mid)
Upon a point of order, may I ask whether the Question can be put, having regard to the fact that the Deputy Speaker is in the Chair.
That the Question be now put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 164; Noes, 55.—(Division List No. 36.)403
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Flower, Ernest||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Fry, Lewis||Macdona, John Gumming|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Garfit, William||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Archdale Edward Mervyn||Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H.(City of Lon.||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||M'Killop, James|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Balcarres, Lord||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Balfour. Rt. Hn. A.J. (Manc'r||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Middlemore, John T.|
|Balfour.RtHn Gerald W. (Leeds||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Monk, Charles James|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Graham, Henry Robert||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||More, Robt. J. (Shropshire)|
|Beach, Rt.Hn. SirM. H. (Brstl.)||Gretton, John||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Gull, Sir Cameron||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W||Myers, William Henry|
|Bethell, Commander||Hardy, Laurence||Newark, Viscount|
|Bigwood, James||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Bill, Charles||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Heath, James||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Helder, Augustus||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafforc|
|Bowles, T. (J. (King's Lynn)||Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Houston, R. P.||O'Connor Arthur (Donegal)|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Howell, William Tudor||O'Kelly, James|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Pierpoint. Robert|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Colston, Charles E. H. Athol||Kenyon, James||Purvis, Robert|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Keswick, William||Pym, C. Guy|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kimber, Henry||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Curzon, Viscount||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lafone, Alfred||Ritchie, Rt.Hn.Chas. Thomson|
|Dalkeith, Karl of||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lawrence, Sir E.Durning- (Corn||Round, James|
|Denny, Colonel||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. D||Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Doughty, George||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Leigh Rennett, Henry Currie||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Dyke, Rt.Hn. Sir William Hart||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.|
|Fergusson,Rt. Hn Sir J. (Manc'i||Loder. Gerald W alter Erskine||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Long, Col. Ghas. W. (Evesham)||Smith. Abel H (Christchurch)|
|Finch, George H.||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Stanley, Edwd. Jas (Somerset'|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lowe, Francis William||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Stewart, Sir M. J. M ' Taggart|
|Strauss, Arthur||Webster, Sir R. E (I. of W.)||Wodehouse, Rt,Hn.E.R.(Bath|
|Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Whiteley, George (Stockport)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Thorburn. Walter||Williams, Jos. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Valentia, Viscount||Willox, Sir John Archibald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Wanklyn, James Leslie||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)||Wilson-Todd,Wm. H. (Yorks.)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Allen, W. (Newe.-under-Lyme)||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Ascroft, Robert||Lambert, George||Randall, David|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Leng, Sir John||Roberts. John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Lewis, John Herbert||Spicer, Albert|
|Bilson. Alfred||Lough, Thomas||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Burt, Thomas||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Maddison, Fred.||Thomas, Alfd. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Colville, John||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay|
|Davies, M.Vaughan- (Cardigan||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark'||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Woods, Samuel|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Oldroyd, Mark||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fenwick, Charles||Palmer, George W. (Reading|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr|
|Harwood, George||Philipps, John Wynford||Caldwell and Sir Charles|
|Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Cameron.|
|Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw||Pirie, Duncan V.|
Question put accordingly—
That the word 'now stand part of the Question.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 212; Noes, 18.—(Division List No. 37.)405
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F||Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Cranborne, Viscount||Gosehen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Crilly, Daniel||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Curzon, Viscount||Gretton, John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gull, Sir Cameron|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Balcarres, Lord||Davies, M.Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hanbury, Rt, Hon. Robert W|
|Balfour, Rt.Hon. A.J.(Manch'||Denny, Colonel||Hardy, Laurence|
|Balfour, Rt.Hon.G.W.(Leeds||Dillon, John||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred. D||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Donelan, Captain A.||Heath, James|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Doughty, George||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Helder, Augustus|
|Beach, Rt. Hn.SirM.H.(Brstl.)||Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Hill, Sir EdwardS. (Bristol)|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. H.||Houston, R. P.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Howell, William Tudor|
|Bethell, Commander||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn|
|Bigwood, James||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bill, Charles||Fenwick, Charles||Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Fergusson,Rt.Hn.Sir J.(Manc'i||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Finch, George H.||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson(King's Lyn||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex|
|Brodrick, Rt, Hon. St. John||Fisher, William Hayes||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Burt, Thomas||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Kenyon, James|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh||Flower, Ernest||Keswick, William|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East||Foster, Sir Waller (Derby Co||Kilbride, Denis|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich||Fry, Lewis||Kimber, Henry|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Garfit, William||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r||Gedge, Sydney||Lafone, Alfred|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gibbs,Hn.A.G.H.(City of Lon||Lambert, George|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Lawrence, SirE.Duruing-(Corr|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Lea, Sir Thomas (Londondeiry||Moulton, John Fletcher||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos Myles|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Sidebottom,William(Derbysh.)|
|Leng, Sir John||Myers, William Henry||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Lockwood, Lieut.Col. A. R.||Newark, Viscount||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Nicholson, William Graham||Stanley, Ed. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Northcote, Hon.Sir H.Stafford||Stewart, Sir M. J. M ' Taggart|
|Lowe, Francis William||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Lowles, John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||O'Kelly, James||Sturt, Hn. Humphry Napier|
|Macaleese, Daniel||O'Malley, William||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Palmer, Geo. Wm. (Reading)||Thorburn, Walter|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Parkes, Ebenezer||Valentia, Viscount|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Philipps, John Wynford||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)|
|M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Fhillpotts, Captain Arthur||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Pierpoint, Robert||Webster, Sir R.E.(I. of Wight)|
|M'Killop, James||Pirie, Duncan V.||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Maddison, Fred.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Maple, Sir John Blundell||Power, Patrick Joseph||Williams, Jos. Powell (Birm.)|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn.W.E.||Pretyman. Ernest George||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Pryee-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Purvis, Robert||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.|
|Middlemore, John T.||Pym, C. Guy||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Molloy, Bernard Charles||Randell, David||Woods, Samuel|
|Monk, Charles James||Rasch. Major Frederic Carne||Wylie, Alexander|
|Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wyndham, George|
|Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas.Thomson||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)||Round James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Royds, Clement Molyneux||William Walrond and Mr.|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Anstruther.|
|Allen, W. (Newe.-under-Lyme)||Oldroyd, Mark||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Ascroft, Robert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Caldwell, James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Spicer, Albert||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Colville, John||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Harwood, George||Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan,E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Thomas,David Alfd.(Merthyr)||Lough and Sir C. Cameron.|
Question put. and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, etc.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.