HC Deb 05 March 1908 vol 185 cc966-88

Read a second time, and committed.

MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)

in moving "That it be an instruction to the Committee to strike out from the Bill all clauses dealing with the milk supply other than the model milk clause" said he was speaking on behalf of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, which had the support of the County Councils Association and of Lord Northcote's Committee, which was appointed to inquire into the question of tuberculosis. Behind this proposal there was the whole agricultural community and the bodies responsible for local government in agricultural districts. In addition there was a large number of Members of Parliament on both sides of the House who had signed a memorial to the President of the Local Government Board, and of course this matter was also supported by innumerable resolutions and petitions from agricultural bodies in all parts of the country. Their position was that in this question of the milk supply, which was admitted on all hands to be a most important question, they must have general legislation. It was the only thing that would meet the case from the point of view of the consumer or the producer, and the Central Chamber of Agriculture and the other bodies he had mentioned had for a number of years past been pressing for this general legislation, though unsuccessfully. The attitude which they now took up on these Bills was that pending a general Act, they must have uniform local legislation, and in order to secure uniformity they must move on the basis of the Model Milk Clause, which had already been adopted in the case of a hundred private Acts. He might perhaps be allowed to give a summary of the circumstances which had led up to the present situation. In 1899 the question of tuberculosis of the udder became very prominent, and a great many towns and boroughs sought to obtain local Acts dealing with the matter, and these Acts contained a vast variety of remedial proposals. It was naturally felt that some attempt at uniformity was essential, and with that object in view the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture of the day consulted and hurriedly framed what were known as the Model Milk Clauses. He thought even the framers would admit that they were incomplete, but at the same time they were the only basis that they had for any attempt at uniformity, because they were inserted in all this vast number of local Acts already including all the London boroughs, and last year, in a form which was only very slightly modified, the clauses were inserted in the London County Council General Powers Act. Some authorities had other clauses dealing with the matter of the milk supply, and all, whether model or otherwise, gave power of inspection and other powers outside their own area and jurisdiction, and it was that jurisdiction outside their own area which had caused such vast inconvenience to the agricultural community. He knew of one case where a certain dairy farmer was registered in no fewer than twenty-nine different places, and if this Bill passed he would have to be registered in a thirtieth, with the result that he was liable to visits from an enormous number of inspectors with varying views and acting under varying regulations, and he did not know where he stood. This was true more or less of the whole of the producers of milk. In addition to this they had the general question of the purity and cleanliness of the milk supply. It used to be considered that this could be completely dealt with at the source of production by regulations affecting cowsheds, and the Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops Orders were the result. They dealt with sanitary conditions and other matters, but they were not compulsory. That was a very important point. It had now been found, and he thought the whole agricultural community as well as local authorities and representatives of the consumers would admit, that these orders had not been quite sufficient and that milk arrived in a dirty condition at the place to which it was consigned. It was now sought to place on the dairy farmers responsibility for the state of the milk on its arrival. He did not deny that pollution was sometimes attributable to the agriculturist. In many cases it was difficult to ensure that the milkman should wash his hands and cleanse the cow which had possibly been rolling, before he milked. It was absolutely necessary for the milkman to press his head and shoulders against the cow, and he sometimes scraped off caked dirt which might fall into the milk. But that was not all. A vast variety of things had been found in milk churns which had come to London, including tobacco, tobacco pipes, and tea leaves. It was no uncommon thing to see a number of churns standing open at the London railway termini, because many of the companies would not carry them if they were locked. The milk was liable to pollution on that account. It was admitted on all hands that there was a good deal of theft and consequent adulteration at the railway termini. It was said that workmen going early to their work brought their cans of hot tea, tipped part of it into the churns and replaced it with milk. Agriculturists naturally objected to accepting the responsibility for such things as that. The railway companies refused to accept it and no steps had been taken to enforce it upon them. This Bill threw the whole responsibility for these matters on to the producer. The agricultural community had no wish to avoid inspection or to resist any sound proposals to ensure a pure and clean supply of milk, but they said the regulations must be uniform. The matter was first taken up by the Chamber of Agriculture. The Dairy Products Committee of the Central Chamber issued a report which was adopted by the council and submitted to a joint conference of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, the County Councils Association, and Lord Northbrook's Committee. Certain alterations were made and were submitted to the general body and approved. They recommended, inter alia: (1) That the authority dealing with the question of the purity of the milk supply should be the same authority as under the Diseases of Animals Act, otherwise the county council; (2) That the Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops Order of 1899 should be consolidated and amended; (3) That proper legislation of a general kind should be introduced dealing with sanitation and matters of that kind, providing for proper inspection and setting up a new class of regulation as regarded tuberculosis. There was also a recommendation that there should be no further overlapping jurisdiction, which was a very important matter, and that the Dairies, Cowsheds and Milk-shops Order should be made compulsory. The agricultural community did not desire in any way to shirk their responsibility, or to hinder any steps to secure a pure supply of milk. On the other hand, they asked that they should not have liability for pollution in transit after the milk had left their hands, or else that steps should be taken to render the use of sealed vessels obligatory. The dairyman was already responsible to the local authority in his area, and if this Bill were passed he would be made responsible to the London County Council. He admitted that the position of London, into which 50,000,000 or 60,000,000 gallons of milk were brought every year, was unique; but that only strengthened the case of the agriculturist, because it meant that the county council would be given a power of interference outside their area which would affect dairies over a very large area of country; this would make the nuisance intolerable and unbearable and prevent the producer from supplying his milk any longer. It would be impossible for the milk producer to contend with all these disadvantages which would be placed upon him, if London in addition to all the other bodies was given powers of this kind. He had endeavoured to put the case for the agricultural community on general grounds, and he submitted that they had a very strong case. The President of the Local Government Board had promised legislation on this subject this year, and there was, therefore, all the more reason for resisting piecemeal legislation now. He felt that the House could not resist a position so strong, the disturbance of which would bring so much injustice and discomfort to the whole community. Without any further argument he begged to move.

Mr. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)

seconded the Motion, He said that he would briefly summaries the points upon which their case was based. This was a demand put forward by the agricultural community in general Dairy farmers throughout the country whatever their opinions might be on matters of legislation affecting the tenure of land or other controversial topics, were unanimously of opinion that if Government legislation was to be introduced in connection with the regulation of the sale and supply of milk such legislation should affect not one particular area of the country, but the country as a whole. The President of the Local Government Board would no doubt tell them that London was unique, and its position unlike any other borough in the country. That was quite true. Probably they would be told that the innovations introduced into these model clauses were very slight, but they were of vital necessity to the well-being and health of the inhabitants of London. Nobody pretended that the Model Milk Clauses were all that could be desired, but this Bill introduced dangerous innovations which gave the London County Council power to deal with milk and penalise the seller if the milk contained any matter Tendering it unwholesome or unfit for the food of man. Under the Model Milk Clauses they possessed this power only in regard to milk which contained the germs of tuberculosis. There were one or two other objections, but agriculturists based their claim mainly on the ground that they wished any legislation to be uniform throughout the country. In this they had the sanction of the Government of the day contained in declarations made by Ministers during the present session. The President of the Board of Agriculture had announced in the House of Lords that it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill dealing with the regulation of the sale and supply of milk, and the President of the Local Government Board had made a similar pronouncement. On those grounds the agricultural community asked the House to give this instruction to the Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee to strike out from the Bill all Clauses dealing with milk supply other than the Model Milk Clauses."—(Mr. Courthope.)

MR. GUINNESS (Bury St. Edmunds)

said he was very glad to notice that the proposer and seconder of this Instruction had both acknowledged the necessity for a change in the present regulations regarding the supply of milk. There was another point on which, as representing the London County Council, he found himself in accord with what they had said. They had both pointed out the great advantage of public legislation as opposed to piecemeal legislation in dealing with this question. In that the London County Council entirely concurred. Before the London County Council drafted the clauses which were now being considered they approached the Local Government Board to find out whether they proposed to bring in a public Bill dealing with the whole matter. The London County Council realised that the right hon. Gentleman had exceptional facilities for judging of the necessity for further legislation to ensure a pure milk supply for London. They all remembered the views to which the right hon. Gentleman frequently gave expression on the London County Council in favour of a purer milk supply and hoped that he would bring in general legislation on the subject. It was only when the London County Council received the answer that the Local Government Board were not in p position to commit themselves to legislation that these clauses were drafted. He admitted the desirability of uniformity. It was a great disadvantage that there were at present over 100 Acts of Parliament dealing with the milk supply. Their first object was to ensure a cheap supply, and if they hampered the producers of milk throughout Great Britain by unnecessarily harassing restrictions the price was likely to be raised. The London County Council, being unable to get an assurance from the President of the Local Government Board that he would introduce a general measure dealing with this question, felt it necessary to bring in a modification of the model clauses. It was no argument for acquiescing in the existing unsatisfactory state of affairs because they were told they could not get an ideal state. If the President of the Local Government Board would give an assurance that he would bring in legislation which would ensure a pure supply of milk, and also take into consideration the special position of London, the County Council would gladly be relieved of the necessity of pressing their proposals. The hon. Member for the Tewkesbury division had stated that the modifications which the London County Council proposed were slight modifications of the model clauses. The view of the council was that the model clauses did not go half for enough. It was not enough to cheek the supply of tuberculous milk; they wanted also to keep out dirty milk. They approved of the machinery of the model clauses, but sought to extend their application. The county council had in some cases not satisfied the metropolitan borough councils, because they had not gone far enough. In order to ensure a cheap supply, the council were anxious not to throw any undue burden upon the local authority, and therefore they had kept the whole power of inspection at railway stations in the hands of the council. Certain metropolitan borough councils complained of that, but the county council proposed to strengthen the hands of the borough councils by provisions in the draft clauses to enable them to proceed for penalties against those retailers of milk who put on sale dirty milk. Section 47 of the London Public Health Act, of 1891 was not strong enough, for it only enabled a borough council to seize milk which was obviously unfit for human consumption. A good many magistrates had refused to convict sellers of milk which was certainly dirty, because they were not absolutely convinced that it was unfit for human consumption. The powers now asked would enable the borough councils to bring pressure to bear on retailers to keep milk free from contamination in the retail shops where milk was bought in small quantities. They did not propose any inquisitorial powers whatever and they felt certain that no clean farmer would be penalised in the least by their clauses. The Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration had recognised the importance of clean milk, and had recommended that in default of action by the Rural Sanitary Authorities, County Councils, and as a last resort the Local Government Board should be empowered to intervene. The National Conference on Infantile Mortality also recommended in 1906 that the scope of the regulations should be extended to cover dirty milk. No doubt many large dairies were doing all that was necessary to ensure a clean supply, but a large proportion of the population had to depend upon small shops, and under present conditions that supply was very insanitary, no less than 73 per cent, of the milk sellers in Finsbury exposing their milk for sale in uncovered vessels. The state of affairs now existing was very dangerous. In Finsbury Dr. Foulerton found that 32 per cent, of the samples of milk he examined contained pus and 40 per cent, contained dirt. Dr. Harris, medical officer of health for Islington, last year examined the contents of thirty-four churns at Finsbury Park station, and out of the thirty-four successive churns thirty-three contained cow dung. The House was aware that tuberculous milk was only excluded by the model clauses if it came from cows suffering from tuberculosis of the udder, but there were many other disorders of the cow's udder which caused pus in milk, and which was probably very dangerous to human life. In the report of the National Conference on Infant Mortality one witness gave evidence in regard to an outbreak of 600 cases of sore throat where the ailment was very like diphtheria. That outbreak was traced to a skin affection of the udder of a single cow. There was no doubt that the presence of pus in milk was very dangerous to human life. Another form of contamination in milk for which there was no excuse was the presence of cow dung. That was dangerous even from the point of view of tuberculosis. A Report published last year by the Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States showed that there was a large amount of tuberculous infection from this cause in milk quite apart from that caused by tuberculous udders. Under present conditions the milk passed through so many different hands in London that it was quite impossible to discover where contaminated milk originally came from, and so the dirty farmer got off with impunity. If the President of the Local Government Board was going to bring in general legislation, he should remember that it was no use for the Metropolitan borough councils to be enabled to proceed against the retailers of milk in London unless some authority—in his opinion the London County Council seemed to be the only possible one—was enabled to go to the railway stations and find out there what milk was dangerous before it reached such a stage in its distribution, as would make it impossible to find out whence the milk had originated. He hoped that the general legislation promised by the President of the Local Government Board would embody provisions such those laid down in Part 2 of the London County Council General Powers Bill. All the trouble with this dirty milk was due to the fact that in a large number of districts in the country the Dairies, Cowsheds, and Milk-Shops Orders were not enforced. He would remind the House that it was optional on the part of the local authorities to put these Orders into force. The Privy Council had laid down some very valuable regulations as to the condition of the milk, the sanitary condition of the cowsheds, and the prevention of contamination; and Paragraph 13 of that Privy Council Order enabled the sanitary authorities to frame additional regulations in regard to the inspection of cattle, the sanitation and ventilation of the cowsheds, and the general cleanliness of the milk supply. It was a very disquieting fact that, according to the Local Government Board figures, no fewer than 324 sanitary authorities had made no regulations under that Order, and in the case of a large number of other sanitary authorities no enforcement was insisted upon. He was sure they all sympathised with what had been said by the hon. Member for Rye as to the danger of over-lapping between local authorities, and they realised that it was a disadvantage to farmers that they had sometimes to notify as many as 100 different authorities of the occurrence of cases of tuberculous disease. But, as the present arrangement had failed to ensure a clean and pure supply of milk to London, it was now insisted that the matter should be put into the hands of the consumers, and that the London County Council as their representatives should be enabled to look after the interest of those primarily affected. The reports of various medical officers of health in different counties from which the London milk supply was drawn would show the dangerous condition of thing; which existed, and the filthy and revolting state of the cowsheds in various places. The report from Derbyshire stated that the local authorities did not see why the ratepayers in the rural districts should pay for the inspection of dairies the milk from which was consumed in London. They thought the cost of administering the Orders should come out of Imperial taxation. The result was that in many districts there had been no inspection of the cowsheds. Prom Leicestershire the report was that the registration of dairymen, cowkeepers, and purveyors of milk appeared in some distracts to be a dead letter, and that the legal safeguards were allowed to remain in abeyance. Men in the district might with impunity sell milk no matter from what source it came, even where there had been an outbreak of typhoid fever. In Wiltshire certain rural district councils imposed no supervision whatever, and in Cheshire the cowsheds were, for the most part, dark, badly ventilated and drained, and dirty. If possible the conditions were worse in many cases in Lancashire than in Cheshire The veterinary surgeon in Manchester mentioned a large number of farms which were totally unfit for dairy purposes, and where they had been able to stop the supply of milk from these farms coming to Manchester it was sent on to London. In one case a farmer applied to the Manchester Corporation asking to be allowed to keep a tuberculous cow because he had discontinued sending the milk from it into Manchester and sent it now to London. In another report it stated that very rarely were the cowsheds washed down, that the dirt on the floors was inches thick, and that other animals than cows were kept in the sheds. Another medical inspector stated that the introduction of various abominations into the milk at the cowsheds might account for the high death rate in the district. In many districts no regulations had been adopted by the local authorities. In one case of twenty-nine members of the district council no less than five were milk sellers, and four of these occupied unregistered premises. The reports from Anglesey stated that the conditions of the dairies there was a scandal and a danger, and that the butter and milk came from foul and filthy premises. In very few instances were the cows udders washed before milking. Dirty cowsheds were really only a part of the danger. The milk after being drawn stood in cowsheds with little ventilation and in an atmosphere laden with pollution. The milking was done often by men who came dirty from doing dirtiest farm work, with dirty clothes and hands to milk even dirtier cows—cows which had not been groomed for twelve months or in fact since they were born. Cows in many cases were only able to obtain water from ponds which were contaminated with very dangerous drain water, and bacteria and cow dung dried on to the cows, and found their way into the milk. A great many of these undesirable ingredients were knocked into the milk in the process of milking, and when the milk was not strained at once it was charged with bacteria. If the milk were drunk while fresh there was less danger, but 95 per cent, of the milk supplied to London came from a greater distance than 100 miles. None of it was drunk before twelve hours, had elapsed, and in the case of a very large proportion, it had to wait twenty-four hours.


said it appeared to him that the hon. Member was going into many details suitable for the Committee, and he should confine himself more closely to the Resolution before the House.


contended that what he had said had a good deal to do with the question before the House, because the model milk clauses referred to by the hon. Member for Rye only dealt with tuberculous cows, and he wanted to show that there was danger quite apart from tuberculosis, and that no restrictions which dealt only with that danger would meet the needs of London. He would not say anything more about that matter, except to bring home the urgency of the case as shown in the Report of the Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration, which showed that in 1902 in London of every thousand births no less than twenty children died before reaching the age of one year, owing to dysentry, diarrhoea, enteritis and cholera, and that in the country districts out of a thousand births only eight children died from the same causes. This showed that in London these diseases which were chiefly due to an inadequate and impure milk supply were two-and-a-half times as great as in the country where the milk was drunk fresh before the bacteria were able to multiply in it. He thought that, considering the conditions under which our population lived, the death rate in London was exceedingly low and reflected the greatest credit upon our medical officers of health and on the sanitary authorities. It was lower than in any other part of the country, and the only figure which stood out in black contrast to the general condition of health in London was that of infantile mortality, which was chiefly due to the contaminated milk supply. This was a matter of the gravest importance, and he hoped that the President of the Local Government Board would, if he was proposing legislation, keep in mind the special position of London and remember that, if we were to have a sanitary milk supply in London and keep down this infant mortality, it should be possible for the local authorities in London to step in and take the place of those sanitary authorities in the country who neglected their duties and allowed milk to be contaminated by sewage.


said the House had before it that evening three Bills promoted by three separate local authorities, dealing with the subject under discussion to which the Motion of the hon. Member for Rye related. One was the Bill of the Widnes Corporation for the establishment of a sterilised milk depot and also containing tuberculosis clauses. Another was a Bill promoted by the Blackburn Corporation, which had inserted in it what were known as model clauses, but it had two clauses which went beyond the model clauses in one respect and dealt with tuberculosis in an exceptional manner for local legislation. The other Bill, around which the discussion had mainly ranged that evening, was a Bill promoted by the London County Council. They, a year or two ago, got the model clauses in one of their Bills, and the county council, in his opinion, very properly applied to Parliament now for additional powers to enable not only the borough councils, but the London County Council to deal, as they must do if they discharged their public health duties to their constituents, in a more effective and drastic way with the milk supply than was now possible under their limited powers. As these three Bills from three different towns dealt more or less with the same subject in a somewhat similar way, it was only right that at that moment he should express the views of the Government on the London County Council Bill, the Widnes Bill and the Blackburn Bill, and in so doing he would briefly say that the Government took no exception to the hon. Member for Rye's Instruction. It must be clearly understood, however, that the Government did not identify itself either with all the objects or motives that might have induced the hon. Member and the interest on whose behalf he acted to take the course implied by his Motion. The hon. Member sought uniformity of law and of general regulation. He wanted penalties to be co-ordinated—in a word, to make the punishment fit the crime. The hon. Member wanted, he presumed, on behalf of those for whom he spoke, uniformity of law, of penalty, of procedure, and of method in dealing with all the aspects of the milk supply. If that was his object, and it was a very desirable one, the Government thought that it could be done better by a general Bill, by general law and by general regulation, in preference to spasmodic and exceptional local attempts; and they took that view because they thought in the interests of all, particularly the farmer whose interests in his judgment were not at all damaged nor were they incompatible with a better protection of the consumer than now prevailed —they thought in the interests of the farmer, the dairymen, and the general consumer, and especially the children in our large towns, that the time had arrived when they should have a better milk supply, a cleaner milk supply, he hoped a larger milk supply, and he should rejoice to hear that these three conditions could be secured without having a dearer supply. To bring some of these objects about he had on behalf of the Government to say in a word that they would fulfil the promise he had given on an earlier occasion to bring in a general Bill for dealing with the milk supply of the country. They thought that the interests of a great industry and what he hoped would be an ever-increasing and growing industry, demanded this general treatment, and he was very pleased to hear from the hon. Gentleman who moved this Motion that the farmer and the dairyman and the agriculturist generally clearly recognised that the conditions that now prevailed could not much longer continue. What was more, the best of them went so far as to say that they ought not to continue, and he believed that the interests of the progressive farmer and of the clean and healthy and enterprising dairyman were such that they ought to co-operate with all sections of the public and the Government and the local authorities to prevent the worst of their casing from carrying on a great industry except under the best, cleanest, and most scientific conditions. In other words, milk had become a national question, and he felt that the House by the speeches to which they had just listened regarded it as an Imperial obligation upon the Government to carry out the proposal they all had in view, and considered that a general milk Bill was demanded. He must tell the House frankly that his chief object was the protection of the public health, and he believed that that could be done without handicapping the farmer or harassing the dairyman. On the contrary, he believed that it would be profitable to both and beneficial to the public. The Bill which he intended to bring in, and he hoped that those who had spoken would assist to carry it through this session, would help them to satisfy a number of requirements which he did not intend to elaborate, but he might say it would seek to secure cleanliness, purity, and reliability in the milk supply, and to remove the evils of overlapping jurisdiction, and would deal with the question of compensation if any, in certain cases, and a number of other matters. There was another aspect of this question which had only been lightly touched upon, and that was the necessity of doing this in the interests of the town children. He had the honour of being the President of the Infant Mortality Conference at which he spoke last year, and intended to speak again this month, at their annual conference. He believed that what was being increasingly brought home to those who were responsible for the diet of old and young alike, both in the home and in institutions, was the great value of milk, good milk and plenty of it as an article of diet, and he must frankly say that the increasing demand that there was for pure milk was not going to be further increased if the public were to rest content with the description of the circumstances under which some milk was produced, that had been given by the hon. Member who had just sat down. In fact the hon. Member's speech was rather inclined to tempt nearly everyone who was microscopically acquainted with the condition of some dairies and some shops to paraphrase Bob Eccles, in Caste: "What, milk! Milk! I'd rather have a drop of cool refreshing gin." Perhaps the hon. Member would substitute stout for gin. He was convinced that we could not get the children as strong, as vigorous, and as beautiful as they ought to be, unless milk more thoroughly entered into the diet of the poor children in the poorer districts in our towns and he noticed with interest that the dairyman, the milk purveyor and the farmer at least that night, had come to the conclusion that the time had come when they should co-operate with the Government and the local authorities in putting their trade on a better footing than it was now. He trusted that in regard to the provisions of their Bill, which would deal with the conditions of transit of milk and the vessels in which it was sold, and other things, they should have the co-operation of every interest which wanted to promote agriculture and farming, and above all milk farming, on the lines he had laid down. He could only assure hon. Members on all sides of the House that the Government would clearly take into consideration the unique and exceptional character and size of London and the need in this matter of exceptional treatment for London by virtue of its peculiar position. The milk supply of London could not be satisfactorily controlled unless the central body had greater control than it now had, not only over milk but over a number of other things. He assured the Members for Blackburn and Widnes, and the Members who re- presented the London County Council, that much that each of them sought would be embodied in the Government Bill along with other matters which they had not mentioned. He hoped the Motion of the hon. Member for Rye would be carried without a division, and that he might enter upon his task of dealing with the whole question by Government Bill with the knowledge that all parties and interests would be ready to cooperate in carrying a just, reasonable, fair, and equitable Bill dealing with the milk supply of the United Kingdom.


said he had no wish to stand between the House and a decision, but he desired to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the promise he had made. He had no right or claim to speak as an agriculturist or as a representative of agriculture, but in his opinion the agriculturists would be well advised if they did their best to co-operate with the Government in endeavouring to arrive at a system which would be satisfactory to all parties concerned. Now that they had arrived at an agreement, he did not like to criticise the speech of his hon. friend, but he was bound to say that a speech couched in terms such as he had used was one not calculated to conduce to a satisfactory settlement. The logical conclusion of his speech was that, if one was allowed to drink milk at all, he ought only to be allowed to do so under exceptional circumstances and the greatest possible supervision. He did not think language of that kind was calculated to promote a satisfactory conclusion. He did not commit himself or anyone to supporting any Bill in all its details, but he certainly thought they ought to wait until they could see the measure; they would be well-advised to leave the matter and ask the Government to introduce the Bill as soon as possible, assuring them that they would do their best to arrive at a conclusion satisfactory not only to consumers but also to agriculturists throughout the country.

MR. COOPER (Southwark, Bermondsey)

said he had a certain amount of interest in the Bill, because the clauses in question were introduced in 1905 when he was Chairman of the Public Health Committee of the London County Council, and were the product of that committee. No one was more earnest at that time in supporting those clauses than the present President of the Local Government Board. He showed certain reasons why London should be treated exceptionally. He pointed out that thirty-five county councils of England had not appointed medical officers of health. At the present time thirty-two had not appointed such officers. He also pointed, out that a number of sanitary authorities had no efficient sanitary inspector. It was important for the London County Council to push these clauses on. If it had been necessary he would have supported in a division the hon. Member representing the London County Council, because he recognised that the London County Council ought to have this legislation placed in their hands. But if the President of the Local Government Board was going to bring in legislation dealing generally with England, of course he felt they were bound to withdraw these clauses and to do their best when the Bill was introduced to make it available for the whole country. He sincerely hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to see that the administration of county councils in these matters was improved, as there was no legislation on the subject at all and the tuberculosis order did not affect it in any shape or form. This was absolutely new legislation in England, but it had been applied to at least twenty or thirty large cities in America. In Massachusetts it had proved very successful. The Massachusetts Board of Health published what was called a White List of farmers who obeyed their regulations, and this was a potent force in getting them to carry them out, for they were extremely anxious to get on the list. He would have liked the President of the Local Government Board to have stated when the Bill would be introduced, but he hoped there would be no delay. He did not think it would be a contentious Bill, and it would certainly be a very valuable one. The reason why London should be treated exceptionally was that there were 150,000 gallons of milk imported every day, and of that at least 15,000 gallons probably a far larger quantity, were dirty, being contaminated in the manner described by the hon. Member opposite. That fact alone ought to induce the President of the Local Government Board to expedite the measure.


said he should like to speak on behalf of his constituency which was a daily increasing factor in the milk-producing area for London. The farmers he represented were anxious to assist in every possible way in producing a pure milk supply, but they hoped the right hon. Gentleman would lay down a sharp limit showing where the farmers' responsibility began and where it ended. He had endeavoured to obtain the opinion of the farmers in his constituency on this Milk Bill which he had predicted, and there was a universal consensus of opinion on this point. They said that the retailer's limit was fixed, and they were very anxious indeed that the limit of responsibility of the farmer should also be fixed. They, of course, knew that the cleanliness of the milk was a very important subject, but there was another point to be considered. They might produce and retail milk in as cleanly a way as they would, but they must educate the people to keep it in a cleanly way. Milk produced and retailed under the beat possible conditions was very often rendered harmful by the way in which it was kept.

Mr. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)

said he rose to express his disappointment at the decision of the President of the Local Government Board. No doubt he had the welfare of the people at heart, but the Widnes Corporation Bill had a clause which he maintained did not invade the grounds of objection laid down by the hon. Member for Rye. He was glad the Bill was not to be jeopardised, because there were many provisions in it which would be very useful. Clause 67, which dealt more particularly with sterilised milk, and down that the milk should not be supplied, except for consumption by children under two years of age. He came from a town, St. Helens, which might claim credit for its efforts on behalf of sterilised milk and the reduction of infant mortality. He would therefore be very much obliged to the hon. Member for Rye if he could make an exception in the case of Widnes, and let the Bill go to the Committee without the instruction to strike out from it all clauses dealing with milk supply other than the model milk clauses. If he agreed, he would be doing something for the prevention of infant mortality in the town of Widnes. He would not endeavour to move the hon. Member by argument or logic, but he would appeal to his good nature to use his good office with the President of the Local Government Board to make an exception in the case of Widnes.

Mr. HARMOOD-BANNER (Liverpool, Everton)

expressed disappointment with the speech of the President of the Local Government Board. It seemed to him that the agricultural interest in this question had squared the Local Government Board to the prejudice of the municipalities.


I do not think you will say so when you have seen the Bill.


said that, in view of the full complement of Bills the Government was going to introduce, he would have much preferred to have seen a local Bill so good as this carried rather than wait for the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. The milk was coming in daily. In Liverpool they already had means for the supply of sterilised milk, for which there was a great demand both in that city and in the surrounding locality. It seemed to him extraordinary, when proof had been given of the necessity and the desirability of sterilised milk depots in towns, that the President of the Local Government Board should step in and stop the acquirement of them. He could, as President of the Municipal Associations, assure him that this was a matter that they had very much at heart, and, although they had not had the honour, as a deputation, of waiting upon the right hon. Gentleman, they would be very glad to discuss it with him and show him the desirability of the inquiry. He was really astonished that in the case of Widnes, where the clauses would not anticipate the provisions of the right hon. Gentleman's excellent measure, they were to be put off in the interests of the Royal Agricultural Society. It was distinctly against the desires and wishes of the Corporation, who were actuated by earnest intentions in the interest of the health and happiness of the children of the district. He therefore asked the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the question of the sterilised milk depots so far as Widnes was concerned. He would cause enormous disappointment if at the instance of agriculture he turned round from his earnest endeavours on behalf of municipalities. He hoped on this question of sterilised milk he would not require the inhabitants of Widnes to go to London or Liverpool for the means which brought their children health and were so necessary for the good of the community.

Mr. E. GARDNER (Berkshire, Wokingham)

on behalf of milk producers thanked the President of the Local Government Board for the very commonsense view he had taken of the question. He did not believe there was a man inside or outside the House who had a greater desire for the welfare of the people and the children in particular than the right hon. Gentleman. He understood him to say, however, that in regard to London the Bill he proposed to introduce would in all probability impose different conditions. That was a very serious matter indeed. There was no question of such great importance as the advantage of a pure and cheap supply of milk, but the question was how they were to get it. They would not get it by imposing harassing conditions on those who supplied it, and although London was a very important centre of consumption it took a very large area to supply it. If different conditions were imposed in regard to London it would do something to damage the source of supply and the quantity. He had raised some degree of dread in the minds of those who produced the milk.


said he must remind the House that the only question before the House was the instruction on this particular private Bill, and it was not in order to discuss the provisions of the public Bill which was to be introduced.


thanked the right hon. Gentleman for what he had done, and hoped that in his legislation he would treat them fairly.


wished to add his thanks to the right hon. Gentleman and to put one point that had not been mentioned, and that was that the fewer people were satisfied the sooner they would achieve their object. If these boroughs and London, which was such an exceptional case, had this protection they would have to wait a long time for it in the country. There were other large towns—Birmingham, Glasgow and others —where the mortality was very nearly as great. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on bringing in a universal policy instead of allowing this piecemeal work which would be an injury to the farmer and very little good to the country.

Mr. T. DAVIES (Fulham)

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he can bring in the Bill this session?



Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to strike out from Part II. of the Bill all Clauses dealing with milk supply other than the Model Milk Clauses.—(Mr. Courthope.)