HC Deb 04 February 1904 vol 129 cc327-8

To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the confirmation by the Royal Commission on Arsenical Poisoning of the opinions expressed in the Minority Report of the Beer Materials Committee issued five years ago, prior to the outbreak of the beer poisoning epidemic, that legislation or other provision was necessary to prevent the use of deleterious substances in the manufacture of beer, and that a court of reference, as recommended by the Committee on the adulteration of food products (a recommendation since endorsed also by the Food Preservatives Committee), should be established for fixing standards of purity for the purposes of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts; and, if so, will he say what action it is proposed to take to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, more especially as regards the protection of the public against the use of injurious ingredients in beer, and the fixing of a standard of purity.

(Answered by Mr. Walter Long.) I had, before the issue of the Report of the Royal Commission on Arsenical Poisoning, had under consideration the expediency of promoting legislation with a view to the constitution of a court of reference for the decision of certain scientific questions in relation to food of the kind referred to in the Question, and I had been in communication with the Board of Trade and the Board of Agriculture on the subject. I am continuing to give attention to the matter, but having regard to the large and important recommendations of the Arsenical Commission, I think it will be necessary that a conference should be held of representatives of the Government Departments concerned before a decision as to the course to be adopted can be arrived at.