HC Deb 06 March 1900 vol 80 cc175-85
MR. STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)

I beg to move the Instruction standing in my name, and I do so with the knowledge that not only the Taunton Corporation but the people of the county of Somerset agree to it, and that it will be supported by the hon. Members for Taunton and West Somerset, whose names are on the back of the Bill. On the Second Reading of this Bill* the Secretary to the Local Government Board objected to the Instruction I am about to move, because the clause, as it stands in the Bill, represents a compromise arrived at on the subject last session between representatives of the Local Government Board, the Board of Agriculture, the municipal corporations, and the Parliamentary Committee of the Central Chamber of Agriculture. But I would point out that the representatives of the County Councils Association were not asked to the conference. And why? Because if they had taken part in it they would undoubtedly have protested against the invasion of their rights which was agreed to. What is proposed by the Bill is an unnecessary interference with the proper and legitimate duties of county councils. Last year the Corporation of Leeds inserted in its Bill a clause similar to the Instruction I am now proposing, and if the Instruction is adopted, the end aimed at by the clause, namely, that of ensuring the supply of uncontaminated milk, will be attained without injustice being done to the farmer. It will be remembered that the Local Government Board objected to the Leeds clause, and the Committee, after hearing Mr. Boyce, their representative, rejected it; but the county councils of the West Riding of Yorkshire felt so strongly about it, and were so cordially supported by the urban and rural local authorities, that they got it re-inserted by the Lords Committee, who held that the model clause of the Local Government Board constituted an unnecessary interference with the local authorities. The Committee also recognised the fairness and justice of taking these cases before two justices instead of one, so as to secure a proper hearing for the farmer. I shall perhaps be met with the argument that it is the duty of the Local Government Board to see after the proper sanitation of dairies, and to secure that the milk sold does not contain the slightest taint. I agree with that, and *See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxix., p. 1516. I would point out that under Section 34 of the Diseases of Animals Act they are empowered to act when the local authority fails to do its duty. There is, therefore, not the slightest ground for saying that these clauses are necessary in the interests of the supply of pure milk. All parties are agreed on the main matter, and therefore it simply comes to this, that the Local Government Board wishes to force on the people of Somerset a form of procedure which they object to. The Somerset Chamber of Commerce has expressed an opinion favourable to my Instruction, and to-day the Central Chamber of Agriculture has passed a resolution approving of the clause being inserted. Therefore it resolves itself into this, that the Local Government Board are going to dictate to the people of Taunton what local regulations they shall possess, whether they like them or not.

SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somersetshire, Wellington)

I have very little to say in seconding this Instruction beyond what has been advanced by the hon. Member for South Somerset. As one of the backers of the Bill I communicated with the Corporation of Taunton, and they readily agreed to the insertion of the clause suggested in the Instruction. As regards the attitude of the Local Government Board, I would ask why that Department, in this case, wishes to deprive the farmers of ordinary justice. The demand is simply that, before the corporation goes outside its own boundary, an order of two justices shall be obtained, and I think that is a perfectly fair and reasonable proposal. In my opinion, this question of the right of municipalities to go outside their own areas ought not to be dealt with by private Bills, but by a public Bill dealing with the whole case. I am afraid that the policy of the Government is to let these clauses be inserted in a lot of private Bills, and then to turn round and say that, since every corporation has them, they shall be the law of the land. That is a very intelligible policy, but not a very honest one. If the Government oppose this Instruction, they will be agreeing to different laws for different counties, since Leeds already has such a clause. Yorkshire is a large, rich, and thickly populated county, while Somersetshire is comparatively small, weak, and poor; but I think that the farmers of Somerset should have at least the same measure of justice meted out to them as those of Yorkshire. I sincerely hope that the hon. Member will go to a division, if only as a protest against this anomaly, against a proposal which would enable a body which is not a judicial body to act as judge and jury in its own case and to close any man's premises. I know of no other business which could be closed in the same way.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Taunton Corporation Bill to provide in Part III. of the Bill that the powers of the Corporation and their officers to inspect cows and dairies outside the borough be not exercised without the previous order of two Justices sitting in Petty Sessions and having jurisdiction in the district wherein the dairy is situate, and that such order be not made unless the said Justices are satisfied that the local authority of the said district has not already dealt with the case."—(Mr. Strachey.)

MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)

I heartily agree with my hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Wellington Division in wishing that this subject could be dealt with in a public Bill on broad lines. But I wish to support as wise and on the whole as the best compromise on this question the model clauses which were arrived at last year. I do not know what course the Government propose to take, but I hope the House will support that compromise. How were these model clauses arrived at? Bills were introduced by several most important corporations in the north of England taking the power already enjoyed and exercised by the city of Glasgow to go outside their own areas in order to prevent the inhabitants being supplied with contaminated milk from the rural districts. That was a very wide power, and it was only after consultation between the President of the Local Government Board and representatives of the Board of Agriculture and the Central Chamber of Agriculture that these model clauses were drafted. It seems to me that they go quite far enough in the way of limiting the powers of these communities to protecting the health of the inhabitants, and that if we are to set up the jurisdiction of two county magistrates sitting in petty sessions, who might possibly look solely to the interests of the farmers supplying the milk, we should be taking the serious step of increasing the obstacles which already stand in the way of the authorities protecting the health of the inhabitants of great towns in this matter of milk supply.

*MR. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.)

suggested that instead of pressing this mandatory Instruction to the Committee, the hon. Member should consent to insert before the words "to provide," the words "to consider whether it is desirable."


I am afraid I cannot accept that.


thought that a very unwise decision, as the Committee would be able with such an Instruction to consider the whole matter.


They considered it last year, and objected to it.


reminded the House that in the agreement that was come to last year it was thought by several that the order of one magistrate in a locality to inspect farm premises would be sufficient, but in the House of Lords it was thought better to require two magistrates. Surely it would be wise so to word the Instruction that the Committee would seriously consider whether the order of one magistrate was sufficient, or whether it would be a greater protection to the farmers if the order of two magistrates was required.

*MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)

trusted the House would not accept the Instruction. The matter would doubtless be considered fully before the Committee, and the evidence taken would be printed. If after reading the evidence the hon. Gentleman the mover of the Instruction was not satisfied with the action of the Committee, he would still have an opportunity of bringing the matter before the House.

MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)

could not understand why, if all the districts concerned were agreed, that agreement should be overthrown or objected to by the Local Government Board. If the right hon. Gentleman thought a uniform clause throughout the country was desirable, a public Bill ought to be introduced dealing with this important question. But if he did not consider it worth special legislation in that way the question ought to be settled to a large extent by the opinion of the locality. He ventured to think, however, that the Police and Sanitary Committee was not the best body to deal with the matter, as that Committee was very much in the hands of the Local Government Board. But if the right hon. Gentleman would say that his Department would not interfere with or put pressure upon the Committee he would be inclined to advise the acceptance of the modified Instruction suggested by a previous speaker.


thought that if the Instruction was allowed to pass, it being made perfectly clear that it was not to be regarded as a precedent, it would be a recognition of the unity of interests between the small county boroughs and the district around, and would show the right hon. Gentleman's sympathy with agriculture.


I think this proposed Instruction is to be deprecated on various grounds. The hon. Member who moved the Instruction bases his support of it upon the ground that it is desirable in the interests of agriculture. I am probably as much interested in agriculture as any Member of this House, and my opinion is that even upon that ground alone it would be difficult to show that the Instruction was desirable. The House remembers what has happened with regard to this question in the past. Of late years there has been a very laudable and proper desire to arrest, in the interest of public health, the spread of tuberculosis, and measures which were proposed with this object last year brought me into conflict at once with two great and different interests—the interest of agriculture on the one hand, and the interest represented by medical experts and those interested in public health on the other. A number of private Bills were brought in last year purely in the interests of public health, but were held to be extremely injurious to certain branches of the agricultural interest. As President of the Local Government Board these Bills naturally came before me. In conjunction with my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Agriculture I resolved to see whether some arrangement could not be made by which these two great interests on this question would be brought to a common understanding. After much trouble and many conferences between representatives of the agricultural interest on the one hand, and medical and sanitary experts on the other, an arrangement was arrived at, and clauses, which have been referred to as model clauses, agreed to. The view, certainly, of my right hon. friend, of myself, and of most of those interested in medical science was that the arrangement was a very desirable one, and one which ought to be adhered to. That, however, is not the view of the hon. Member opposite. He has come forward with a mandatory Instruction, which upon that ground I think is to be highly deprecated, and he seeks to impose upon the Committee upstairs the duty of including this particular clause in the Bill. I think the House will see itself that it is not desirable that such an Instruction should be passed. I have been asked whether the Local Government Board will interfere. My intention with regard to that would be to leave this question entirely for the consideration of the Committee. I would ask the House to remember that a general agreement has been come to between the two parties, and now it is sought to override that arrangement. If such a course is adopted in this particular case, what is to prevent the powerful representatives of the medical and sanitary interests attempting to reverse what has been done in the past, and introducing clauses far more extreme and far more injurious in their character to the agricultural interests than at present exist? If on no other grounds than that of the interest of agriculture itself, I most strongly advise the rejection of this Instruction.

LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)

said he was very anxious that a compromise should be arrived at. There was really a great deal to be said on both sides. He himself might perhaps be suspected of being unduly prejudiced in regard to what might be called the count view of the question, because he was intimately connected with the administration of the county, but he had very great sympathy with any effort made by a borough authority to obtain a purer supply of milk within its own district. That effort could not be effective unless a borough authority or the urban council had some power of control immediately outside its own limits, or unless the county authority were thoroughly in earnest with regard to sanitary control and inspection. In the north of England, which was more progresssve than the south, the county authorities might be trusted in the matter, but when a borough authority in the south of England asked for powers to enable it to deal with the causes of sanitary contamination outside its own area the House threw cold water on the demand. A county employing a medical officer of health stood in a different position from that occupied by a county without such an officer. The county of Somerset, although the question was twice discussed, had not appointed a medical officer of health. Not long ago there was a terrible outbreak of infectious disease in Bristol in which many valuable lives were sacrificed, especially in Clifton College, and in the report on that outbreak by the medical officer of health for Bristol, Somerset did not occupy a very strong position. Therefore he hoped that the hon. Member, in view of the large concession to his views which had been made, would not persist in his Instruction.

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)

said he would rather that the House should express an opinion on the Instruction, for it involved a very important matter affecting the public health. If the corporation of Taunton discovered that the residents were being poisoned by infectious matter introduced from outside it was important that it should have the earliest opportunity of finding out the source of that poison. The Instruction would involve very considerable delay. The matter was urgent and he hoped the House would reject the Instruction in the interests of agriculturists no less than of the public health.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

asked if the Government agreed to the assent of one justice being obtained.


Yes, Sir. That provision is included in the bill.


said he was inclined to accept the modification.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 109;Noes, 172. (Division List No. 58.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Goschen, George J. (Sussex) O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Goulding, Edward Alfred O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Gray, Ernest (West Ham) O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)
Atherley-Jones, L. Gretton, John O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Gull, Sir Cameron Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Balcarres, Lord Haldane, Richard Burdon Palmer, Sir Charles M. (Durh'm
Baldwin, Alfred Hardy, Laurence Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)
Barry, Rt Hn AH Smith-(Hunts Hare, Thomas Leigh Perks, Robert William
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth) Philipps, John Wynford
Beach, Rt. Hn. W. W. B. (Hants Heaton, John Henniker Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Beaumont Wentworth C. B. Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Power, Patrick Joseph
Bethell, Commander Hobhouse, Henry Pretyman, Ernest George
Blake, Edward Houston, R. P. Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Blundell, Colonel Henry Howell, William Tudor Redmond, John E. (Waterf'rd)
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil Reid, Sir Robert Threshie
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex) Hudson, George Bickersteth Round, James
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice- Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham
Caldwell, James Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
Carew, James Laurence Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Carlile, William Walter Kilbride, Denis Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Knowles, Lees Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Laurie, Lieut.-General Stevenson, Francis S.
Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd) Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Tanner, Charles Kearns
Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W. Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Tollemache, Henry James
Denny, Colonel Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H
Donelan, Captain A. Lough, Thomas Wedderburn, Sir William
Doogan, P. C. Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent Weir, James Galloway
Dorington, Sir John Edward Macaleese, Daniel Welby, Lt.-Cl. A C E (Taunton)
Engledew, Charles John Macartney, W. G. Ellison Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Fardell, Sir T. George Maclure, Sir John William Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edwd. M'Killop, James Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Finch, George H. Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir Herbert E. Yoxall, James Henry
Fison, Frederick William Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Morrison, Walter TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Garfit, William Myers, Wm. Henry Mr. Strachey and Sir Alexander Acland-Hood.
Gold, Charles Nicol, Donald Ninian
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Norton, Captain Cecil W.
Allison, Robert Andrew Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Farquharson, Dr. Robert
Anstruther, H. T. Chamberlain, J. Austen (worc'r Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r
Arnold, Alfred Channing, Francis Allston Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Arrol, Sir Willam Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Fisher, William Hayes
Baird, John Geo. Alexander Clough, Walter Owen Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund
Banbury, Frederick George Coghill, Douglas Harry Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Barnes, Erederic Gorell Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Flower, Ernest
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Cottan-Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D. Foster, Sir Walter (Dreby Co.)
Billson, Alfred Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H. Fry, Lewis
Brigg, John Crombie, John William Galloway, William Johnson
Broadhurst, Henry Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Gedge, Sydney
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Cubitt, Hon. Henry Goddard, Daniel Ford
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Goldsworthy, Major-General
Brymer, Willam Ernest Dalkeith, Earl of Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir J. Eldon
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Graham, Henry Robert
Bullard, Sir Harry Dewar, Arthur Greville, Hon. Ronald
Buxton, Sydney Charles Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Halsey, Thomas Frederick
Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow) Drage, Geoffrey Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Duckworth, James Hanson, Sir Reginald
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin) Dunn, Sir William Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh. Ellis, John Edward Hazell, Walter
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Emmott, Alfred Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.
Horniman, Frederick John Milward, Colonel Victor Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Monk, Charles James Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Howard, Joseph Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)
Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.) More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.) Steadman, William Charles
Jacoby, Jame-Alfred Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Johnston, William (Belfast) Morrell, George Herbert Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Joicey, Sir James Morton. A. H. A. (Deptford) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Jones, D Brynmor (Swansea) Morton Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Sturt, Hon. Humpbry Napier
Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Talbot, Rt Hn J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.)
Kimber, Henry Newdigate, Francis Alexander Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.
Kinloch, Sir John George S. Oldroyd, Mark Thorburn, Sir Walter
Labouchere, Henry PierPoint, Robert Thornton, Percy M.
Lafone, Alfred Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lanc. S. W Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray
Langley, Batry Platt-Higgins, Frederick Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Wallace, Robert
Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'l'nd Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Purvis, Robert Warr, Augustus Frederick
Leng, Sir John Rankin, Sir James Wason, Eugene
Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.) Redmond, William (Clare) Webster, Sir Richard E.
Lode, Gerald Walter Erskine Renshaw, Charles Bine Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Long Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool) Rentoul, James Alexander Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Lowe, Francis William Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.) Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
Lowther, Rt Hn J W (Cumb'l'nd Richardson, Sir hos. (Hartlep'l Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk)
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Ridley, Rt Hon Sir Matthew W. Wilson, John (Govan)
Macdona, John Cumming Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T. Wilson, J. W. (Wor'shire, N.)
M'Crae, George Robson, William Snowdon Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks)
M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W) Rothschild, Hon L. Walter Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Maddison, Fred. Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (H'fi'd.)
Marks, Henry Hananel Rutherford, John Woods, Samuel
Martin, Richard Biddulph Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse) Younger, William
Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks) Seely, Charles Hilton TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Melville, Beresford Valentine Sharpe, William Edward T. Mr. M'Kenna and Sir Albert Rollit
Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Middlemore, J. Throgmorton Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.

First three Resolutions agreed to.