HC Deb 11 March 1902 vol 104 cc1015-7
SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to a recent judgment in the High Court on the subject of blended butter, by which it was decided that butter containing the utmost quantity of water which it can be made to hold can be still sold as a genuine article if an announcement, which may never catch his eye, is made to the purchaser of the percentage of water contained in it; whether he will consider the propriety of making a regulation, under section 4 of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1899, which shall define the proportion of water in butter which shall raise the presumption that the article is not genuine, and protect ignorant purchasers from an inferior article.


I do not think that the decision went quite so far as my right hon. friend's question supposes. But the decision appears to imply that, on due notice being given, almost any mixture of butter can be sold under that name. I shall fix a butter standard as soon as those most concerned have had an opportunity of seeing the evidence submitted to the Butter Committee, which evidence I hope will be issued in a few days.


Will the opinion of the Cork butter merchants be taken into consideration?


Everything given in the evidence will be taken into consideration. I have not seen the evidence myself yet.

MR. JOYCE (Limerick)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will consider the advisability of preventing, by legislation or otherwise, the practice of putting pickle into butter at the time of manufacture to preserve it, from being classed with the fraudulent practice of forcing new milk by machinery into butter already manufactured in order to give the appearance of freshly-made butter; and, having regard to the fact that milk becomes dangerous to health when so incorporated with butter, whether he will take steps to prevent foreign or Colonial butters into which milk has been forced from being publicly advertised as butter made in Great Britain as has been recently done by a certain firm.


Until I have had the opportunity of reading the evidence given before the Butter Regulation Committee I could not properly express any definite opinion on the important point raised in the hon. Member's question.


I did not refer in my question to the evidence given before the Departmental Committee. That is a different question altogether. I want to know as to forcing new milk into butter by machinery.


The two things are so closely bound up together that I do not feel justified in expressing an opinion until I have seen the evidence collected on the subject.