HC Deb 16 March 1900 vol 80 cc1069-70
GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the report of the public analyst to the Vestry of Paddington for the quarter ending 25th December, 1899, wherein it appears that the magistrate at Marylebone Police Court, in the case of a sample of butter containing 65 per cent. of margarine, imposed no fine but only costs of 12s. 6d., and gave the same decision in another case where the sample contained 80 per cent. of margarine, and in another case, where the so-called butter was entirely margarine, imposed a fine of 10s. and 12s. 6d. costs; also in two other cases where a farmer had sent to the railway station two churns of milk from which half the cream was deficient, the summons was dismissed on the explanation that the milk from which these samples was taken was received at the farm dairy on the evening of each day, mixed in a large container and left for the night, and that next day the churns were filled for transmission to London by means of a tap at the bottom of the container, no previous stirring up of the contents of the container taking place; whether it would be possible to issue a circular or otherwise to instruct magistrates having jurisdiction in such cases, that when milk is left undisturbed the cream rises to the top, and hence the lower part of the milk does not contain its share of cream, which it should be considered has been removed from it, and that such milk is to be dealt with as adulterated; whether his attention has been further called to the fact that practically the same percentage of milk purchased at railway stations is adulterated as of milk purchased in town, thus showing it is not the retailer who is alone to blame; and whether it is possible in any way to assist local authorities who are doing all in their power and expending large amounts of money in endeavouring to carry out the law so as to protect the humbler consumers, and who thus find their efforts discouraged.


I have seen the report to which my hon. and gallant friend refers, but the information at present at our dis- posal would scarcely justify the adoption of the course suggested. Our inspectors are, however, closely watching the administration of the Acts, in consultation with the local authorities concerned, and the representations of my hon. and gallant friend will be kept in view. I could not take upon myself to express an opinion as to the respective culpability of producers and retailers of milk so far as adulteration is concerned.


Were the proceedings referred to taken under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act of last year?


I cannot possibly answer that question without inquiry. I know nothing of the proceedings which were taken.