§ MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state the number of prosecutions, with the result, which have been instituted in Ireland for excessive moisture in salt firkin butter, where the analysis showed it did not exceed 20 per cent., since the Committee of last session, to whom the Butter Bill was referred, agreed to allow a maximum of 20 per cent, in salt firkin butter; and whether, seeing that the Butter Bill introduced this session contains the same provision, he will call the attention of the Irish Board of Agriculture and the police, acting as food inspectors, to the matter.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The number and results of such prosecutions are not officially recorded, and to obtain the information it would be necessary to communicate with the police throughout Ireland. Under existing statutory regulations where the proportion of water in butter exceeds 16 per cent., it is presumed, until the contrary is proved, that the butter is not genuine. The Department of Agriculture is aware of the proposal in the Bill referred to, to exempt Irish salt firkin butter from the 16 per cent, limit. But the hon. Member is doubtless aware that the Council of Agriculture by a majority of forty-seven votes to seven recently adopted a resolution to the effect that any such exemption, 1487 if made, would most injuriously affect the reputation of Irish butter generally. The Kerry County Council has also passed a somewhat similar resolution.
§ MR. LUNDON (Limerick, E.)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on the 21st of last month a prosecution was instituted against a man at Pallas Grean for having 18 per cent. of moisture in his butter, and that the magistrates on the bench unanimously dismissed it?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I am aware that the case was dismissed on a technical point. I am also aware that a certain number of hon. Members representing certain districts in Ireland hold an opinion contrary to that held by a large number of hon. Members representing other parts of Ireland in regard to the question of moisture in butter—a question which I think can only be settled by legislation.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Kildare, S.)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Consultative Board of the Agricultural Association—Sir H. Plunkett's Department—are trying to override the decision?
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY (Limerick, W.)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Limerick County Council and certain district councils have passed resolutions in favour of exempting salt butter from—?
§ MR. FLAVIN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the object of the circular of the Board of Agriculture is to deliberately kill the salt firkin butter trade?
§ MR. FLAVIN
Nothing but creameries will do for Sir Horace Plunkett. I promise the right hon. Gentleman he will hear more of this.