§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
moved as an Amendment to leave out the word "now," and to insert instead thereof the words "upon this day six months."
For the third year in succession I have to oppose this Bill on behalf of the agricultural bodies of this country. Last year and the year before we took similar action successfully against the London County Council, on the ground that the Council were attempting to continue an obnoxious and admittedly defective system of piecemeal legislation with regard to the milk supply. I am fully aware that in moving the rejection of this Bill, when the agricultural opposition is confined to only 724 Part VI., I shall lay myself open to the accusation of being unreasonable. I admit at once that my motive in moving the rejection instead of relying on the instruction to strike out this part of the Bill is a technical one, and I shall be perfectly willing if the representatives of the London County Council, as the Debate proceeds, indicate their willingness to accept the Instruction to withdraw my opposition to the Second Reading, but if the London County Council persist in opposing the Instruction, then I shall have to divide the House against the Bill. This opposition on the part of agriculturists is not intended to raise any objection to the proper restrictions and legislation in the interests of consumers of milk. We fully admit that legislation is necessary: we object to its being of this piecemeal character. The Clauses as they stand are bad Clauses, and that is my principal objection to the Bill. I have no doubt in the course of this Debate we shall be harried with descriptions of all sorts of horrors to be found in the milk of London, but I would quote the words of the President of the Local Government Board in 1908, when he said:It is only fair I should pay that in my judgment many of the statements which have recently been made against the milk industry have been the citation of special instances and giving them general application.I have no hesitation in predicting that that will again take place, and I hope the House will bear these matters in mind. I do not 725 deny for a moment there are many bad cases. I do not deny that legislation is necessary, but I do deny that legislation in the form of the powers asked for in this Bill is right, equitable, or desirable in any way.
I will point out two or three defects as I think them in the Milk Supply Clauses in this Bill. In Clause 33, for instance, the London County Council takes power to take samples of milken transituat any time practically till it reaches either the place where it is retailed or tie place where it is supplied for human consumption. Up to that moment the London County Council propose to place the whole responsibility for any contamination in handling in transit on the dairy farmer or producer. There are many cases which can be cited in which the dairy farmer has transmitted the milk to London and it has been adulterated after it has left his hands, and so long as that policy is adopted so long will the sense of injustice remain in the minds of the dairy farmers, and strenuous opposition will be offered to proposals of that kind. On that point again I wish to quote the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Burns), who said on the 12th of March, 1908:I will only give yon one fact. At fourteen stations in London 11,500 churns are received on an average each day. Now much of the milk in those churns, however good it was when it was put in, is mixed and transferred from vessel to vessel and from churn to churn at different stations and in different ways under conditions which are not favourable to purity. That must be altered if possible. Then the milk after it has been transferred from one churn to another is transported in vehicles not always as clean as they should be to places not always as hygienic as they must be. And even when that stage has been reached, and it has come through the hands of the dairyman into the consumer's care, then the consumer himself and his jug, his can, his basin in a certain condition, and where it is stored gives encouragement to the mischief-making microbe to carry out his destructive processes in the most obscure and often dirty corners where the seeds of disease for children are so frequently sown. The fact is there is no single or direct cause of pollution; the farm, the water, the churns, the transit, the interference, the interception—sometimes the medium of interception in the churn at a country station at two or three in the morning when no one is looking—the storage and the vessel used by the consumer, each and all of these are responsible and contribute their share.The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right, and it is inequitable that the dairy farmer should be made responsible for all these contributory causes. Then come other clauses that we object to—they are Clauses 37 and 42—under which the Council seeks to take extraordinary powers outside its jurisdiction for its inspectors, medical officers, and veterinary officials, which give rise to great inconvenience without being effective for the purpose of 726 protecting the consumer. These clauses are not the only provision which London has for protection of its milk supply. It has already got in one of its Acts what are known as the model milk clauses, which are, so long as this piecemeal legislation goes on, the only possible basis of agreement and convenient legislation which one can devise, though I admit they are imperfect. The only other point of importance contained in these new clauses is with reference to tuberculosis. There are provisions which are based on the third interim report of the Tuberculosis Commission. They are to include powers to deal with tuberculosis, with emaciation, as the Bill states, and also with cows which give tuberculous milk in addition to the powers which they have already of dealing with cases of tuberculosis of the udder. I have no particular fault to find with the proposals made with these two additions as far as they go, but the chief ground of objection is the objection on principle to piecemeal legislation. The London County Council themselves, in the Memorandum which they have issued to Members in support of the Bill, say:—It is believed that the principal ground of objection to the present proposal is that the matter should be dealt with by general legislation for the whole country. The Council have already on more than one occasion expressed themselves in favour of general legislation, and have on several occasions urged upon the Government the pressing necessity for such legislation. There is, it is believed, no dispute as to the urgent importance of the matter, and the Government having failed to deal with it, or to hold out any immediate prospect of further attempts being made on their part to legislate on the subject, the Council have felt bound to renew their proposals.Both promoters and opponents of the Bill are agreed in principle. What they want is not local legislation but general, legislation, and I think the arguments in favour of general rather than piece-meal legislation are almost unanswerable. Does this piecemeal legislation serve its purpose? I am not speaking now of London only, although this is a London Bill. The business of the Government is not to think only of one locality, important though it may be, but of the whole community. The result of this piecemeal legislation is not to stop the consumption of unwholesome milk, but merely to divert it from one source to another. These Bills with Milk Clauses enable London to say to the producer of impure milk, "You shall not sell your milk here." He takes it somewhere else, and may be supplying it there for months before an adverse sample is found. Then that place says, "You shall not sell it here," and he goes somewhere else. What we want is power to say, "You shall 727 not sell it anywhere." That cannot be achieved by this piecemeal legislation. About the strongest argument I have ever heard on this subject was used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite when I moved the rejection of a similar Bill last year. He said:—The question to-night is not whether action should be taken but as to whether action should be taken on the initiative of one centre or by the Government of the country as a whole. Upon that the Government has made up its mind and has said that the unsatisfactory condition of the milk supply is such that it can no longer be dealt with in this piecemeal fashion at the instance of local authorities, many of whom are rich enough to protect themselves, but in the very protection of themselves, unload on the poorer communities the very article of a bad quality that the smaller authority is unable to defend itself against.I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he intends to support the London County Council on this question, to bear in mind the fact that according to his own statement he will be inflicting hardships on poorer communities by unloading on them milk which he does not want his own neighbours in London to drink. In the game speech he said:—I appeal to the House of Commons not to accept the milk clauses of the county council.The Milk Clauses I am opposing to-night are, with the exception of about two words, identical with those of last year. He further said:—And there is another reason stronger than all. We find that model milk clauses passed at the instance of local authorities in a sectional way for their own protection are not model milk clauses at all. We find milk orders and dairy orders that do not harmonise, jurisdictions that conflict, standards that do not tally with each other, varying penalties, conflicting methods of supervision, with in some cases a maximum of irritation to the farmer and a minimum of good to the milk consumer. Everywhere we find that dairies, cowsheds, vessels, forms of conveyance, storage, temperature, and the register of dairies, etc., are all in an unsatisfactory condition, and in consequence of that the Government will introduce this Bill‥…I appeal to the House, and above all to the Members of the county council, not to press these milk clauses. If they do I am convinced if they went upstairs to the Police and Sanitary Committee, with its general knowledge of this question before it, it would not pass these clauses.I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman's opinion his changed since then.And if there is any attempt to get these clauses through, I believe that this Bill, generally useful and required in very many other respects in its 71 clauses would be considerably jeopardised as a whole.I must apologise for making these quotations from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but I feel that the arguments be used were much more powerful and convincing than any I could hope to bring forward on my own account and that they might have some influence on his mind, As it is rumoured that he is going to 728 abandon the course which he followed last year and the year before. If he does so, I have no doubt that his reason will be that he has been unable in this exceptional Session to get any time for the introduction of a Milk Bill. He thinks the Bill is controversial, and that it will be opposed by the agricultural Members, who would occupy more time than the Government are prepared to give. I can assure him he is wrong. The second reading of the Milk Bill as introduced last year could have been taken over and over again during the evenings which were wasted before Easter. It would probably not have taken any longer to discuss the second reading of the Bill than the discussion of the Amendment now before the House will take. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not anticipate much opposition to his Bill except from agricultural Members. I am in a position to speak to-night on behalf of the agricultural bodies outside, and I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that there is only one point of principle between him and them which will have to be debated on the floor of this House; that is, as to the source for which compensation should come from for animals slaughtered by order. All the other differences are mere details—Committee points to be discussed, and I am perfectly certain that if the right hon. Gentleman were to change his mood and bring in his Bill half a day would suffice for its second reading with this House. We are all agreed, promoters and opponents of this Bill, that there is need for legislation. We are all agreed, because the County Council have admitted it with their memorandum; that piecemeal local legislation is unsatisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman has stated it in the strongest possible words. And it is not only unsatisfactory, but it is absolutely ineffective from the broad national point of view. It creates irritation without providing a remedy for evils from which we all seek to relieve the public. I can assure him it would be perfectly simple for him to pass the general legislation this year without any undue tax on the time of the House. That is the position which I think justifies me in moving the rejection of this Bill should those who represent the County Council, and the right hon. Gentlemen see their way, in the course of this discussion, to agree to accept—it may be to save the Bill or it may be because they are convinced by the arguments, but whatever the motive—the Instruction to cut out Part VI. of the Bill, 729 which I also have on the Paper, I at once shall withdraw my opposition to the Second Reading, and I am perfectly certain that the bulk of those who think with me in this matter would, also have their objections renewed.
§ Mr. STANIER
I beg to second the Amendment. I agree with my hon. Friend in the practical reason he gave in support of this Amendment, and in his objection to piecemeal legislation with a matter of this kind affecting the farmers of England. In 1909 the House confirmed this view. I should say that it is not the fault of the farmers or of politicians on this side of the House that a Milk Bill has not been brought forward in this House. I should have no detailed objections to the Bill. I only object to it on general grounds, simply because I want to get uniformity, and also model clauses for the guidance of the farmers. In my own district we have a large trade of milk selling, and no two farmers sell to the same authority or to the same town. Very often many of those farmers sell to two different authorities. Therefore they would come under two different sets of rules, and chaos would reign supreme. Dairy farmers, or at least the better dairy farmers, are absolutely in favour of legislation in this direction. Is not it their interests to do so? The whole question is at this moment ripe for legislation. We are only waiting for the right hon. Gentleman to bring for ward his Bill, and We agriculturists will be satisfied, I am sure, with the result of what he proposes. All agree that we want absolute purity of supply. It is not always the farmer who makes the impurities in the milk supply of our great cities. We must also have the dairies and cow-houses better cleansed and better managed. There is no doubt that even on some of the model farms the cow-houses are far from what they ought to be. Ventilation is another great point, and light is even a greater. In many places the farmers are doing great injury to their interests by believing that light is detrimental to beasts under shelter. Further, there must be inspection to see that all the different points, to some of which I have referred, are carried out, and unless you have model clauses and uniform rules and regulations you will never be able to accomplish that work of inspection, and that is why I second the Amendment for the rejection of the Bill.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
It is very notable that both the Mover and Seconder 730 of the Amendment have only dealt with Part VI. of the Bill. Of course, they are quite within their rights in moving the rejection of the Bill in respect of a small part of it. I think, however, it would have been more convenient both to them and to the promoters of the measure if they had taken this discussion on the Instruction to leave out Part VI. I think that in private Bill legislation, as in every other sphere of work in this House, it is much better to divide on the point at issue. I do not believe that those who oppose this Bill would lose by following that policy in the present instance. Probably there are many who sympathise with them who will hesitate before they vote against the Second Reading of a Bill containing so many valuable proposals. This, Bill, in addition to milk, deals with the acquisition of property for the fire brigade and the Metropolitan-Water Board, with the extension of time to carry out improvements, the power to make special constables, the power to contribute towards hospital funds, powers to carry out street widenings, to repress the smoke nuisance, and other matters, none of which, I believe, evoke any very strong opposition. It is quite true that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green has put down an instruction to leave out Part IV. of the Bill dealing with the smoke nuisance, but I cannot believe that he will carry his opposition so far as to jeopardise the Second Reading of the Bill, because this smoke nuisance after all is one which affects London very seriously. These are strong arguments which could be put forward to show that the restriction-of smoke would be to the benefit of those who are making the nuisance, and would enable them to use their fuel to the full In addition to that no power is sought to prosecute those who are producing the smoke unless that smoke is a nuisance. I do not believe that the hon. Members who moved the rejection of this Bill will get any support on those other grounds, and therefore I think it would have been far better to take the division on the Instruction, and I hope that my hon. Friend will still see his way to do so.
As the hon. Member has dealt with it on Second Reading, I suppose the Debate must proceed on that, even if the division is taken on the Instruction. I notice that he did not deny the evils which exist in the system of production and supply of milk at the present time. I should like to enforce what he said about the advantages 731 of general legislation over piecemeal legislation. The London County Council over and over again have committed themselves in favour of general legislation. The President of the Local Government Board last year introduced a Bill which would, I think, have done all that we propose to do with this Bill, and would have done it far more efficiently. In that Bill he dealt with the case which is too often the trouble in the milk supply, where the Rural District Council have not put their powers into force, or, if they have, their by-laws are obsolete and not properly carried out. He proposed to deal with that case by giving default powers to the County Council, and the case of London would have at last been satisfactorily met if the general regulations throughout the country had been tightened up. Unfortunately, that Bill last year and the year before failed even to get a Second Reading. Clearly it is to the benefit of the County Council to have general legislation and not particular legislation, because if there is general legislation far greater pressure can be brought to bear on farmers than is the case if you have only piecemeal legislation. We fully recognise the point the hon. Member made, that the effect of our legislation will be to keep milk out of London, but not to prevent it being sold to other localities. That undoubtedly is an evil, but we say London is specially in need of this legislation, because such a very large proportion of London milk comes from a distance, and polluted milk is far less injurious if drunk fresh before the bacilli have time to breed than if drunk even in twenty-four hours or two days later, when it has been carried in hot trucks and when the microbes have had time to propagate. For that reason we do say that London has a claim to be considered perhaps before any other part of the country, if the Government cannot see their way to carry general legislation on the subject of milk.
Perhaps I may briefly recount the circumstances and history of this question, and the action of the London County Council in the last year or two. When they are aware of that they will see that the London County Council had no option but to bring these proposals forward again. It is now ten years ago since public attention was drawn to the danger of tuberculous infection from tuberculosis in the udder of cows. Owing to the very diverse proposals brought for- 732 ward by local authorities, Parliament framed a set of model clauses which have been generally adopted in local Acts throughout the country. Those clauses were applied to London in the Act of 1907. In those clauses a penalty is placed on the sale of tuberculous milk of cows with tuberculous udder. Information as to the source of this milk is obtained by taking samples before the milk breaks bulk on arrival, and by inspecting the farms where this milk has originated. Undoubtedly, even in the two years that those powers have been in force, a considerable improvement has taken place; farmers have been more particular, and have taken care not to sell milk from cows with tuberculous udder. I have figures showing that in London there has certainly been a marked improvement. Since then information has come to light showing that tuberculous udder is not the only form of disease from which infection may take place.
The third interim Report of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis showed that any form of tuberculosis in cattle is liable to infect milk, and the President of the Local Government Board in his Bill of last year provided that it was to be an offence to sell milk from a cow suffering from general emaciation or tuberculosis. That is the one provision in this Bill that was not contained in it last year. I think farmers would submit to this without inconvenience on the experience of Denmark, where tuberculosis of all kinds amongst cattle is being rapidly stamped out. The farmers have come to see that in their own interest it is advisable not to sell this milk. They segregate cattle with tuberculosis, use them only for breeding, and boil the milk before giving it to the calves. In that way the strain of cattle in Denmark is rapidly being freed from the scourge of tuberculosis; and the farmers of England might well take a leaf out of their book. London hitherto has been the dumping ground of all the dirty milk in the country. Where a large town is in the centre of an agricultural district the agriculturist whose cow-sheds are not in good order does not attempt to send his milk to that town; he plants it all on London. That is what the London County Council wish to stop. No doubt a certain amount of dirt is added locally, and powers are taken in this Bill to enable borough councils to prosecute in those cases.
Then with regard to the farms. The Report of the Inter-Departmental Com- 733 mittee on Physical Deterioration states that the bottom of the whole milk question is the filth of the farms. I can amply substantiate that statement by the lurid details given in the usually very sober reports of the Local Government Board itself. I prefer not to use my own language, because it might be said that I was prejudiced, and thought that the discouragement of milk-drinking might encourage recourse to other beverages. Therefore I will take a couple of reports out of thirty which I have here, all equally black against certain districts where the milk for London is produced. The first is Dr. Wheaton's report on Winchcomb, dated 1907. He states:—The cow-sheds usually abut upon, or enclose, a fold-yard, which is a quagmire of decomposing manure and other filth. Frequently the cows are milked in this fold-yard in summer-time, the milk being exposed to the fetid emanations from decomposing liquid filth whilst it is actually being drawn from the udders of the cows. Cleansing of the milkers' hands and other precautions as to cleanliness of cowkeepers and milkers are usually neglected. The water supplies for the cows are frequently most objectionable.The other report is that of Dr. Johnstone, on the rural district of Dorchester.Very rarely indeed was it ascertained that any effort was made to cleanse the cow's udder or the milker's hands before milking. In nearly all instances where milkers were seen at work their hands were observed to be unclean and stained with excrement. The same observation held good in general of their clothing. The result of this lack of care is serious fouling of the milk. "When looked for large floating particles of cow-dung were observed in the milk before straining. This was especially the case in one dairy where the structural conditions were as perfect as the workers were careless.My hon. Friend, in his speech, anticipated that I would mention cases of this kind. He anticipated that they would be very special cases. It is only these special cases at which we aim. We do not propose to inspect farms unless dirt is found in the milk which originally came from there. The clean farmer will not be penalised in any way. Dirt, of course, is not necessarily infection, but it is a measure of the opportunity for infection, and owing to the fact that 95 per cent, of London milk originates at a greater distance than 100 miles from London, it is quite clear that this infection has a far greater opportunity of becoming dangerous in transit than it has in the case of other towns.
The machinery which it is proposed in this Bill for checking dirt follows exactly the model clauses as adapted for London. It is felt that it is useless to take powers to prosecute milk sellers only. The Member for Rye said, the unfairness in this Bill was that it put the whole 734 responsibility on the farmer. It does not. There is power to prosecute in the case of dirt which is added locally. The dirt which is added by the farm can very well be distinguished from the dirt which comes in on the railway. If you find from a microscopical examination that there are farm products in the milk, you do not imagine that they have come from the railway, and if you find smuts in the milk, or tea leaves—as we have been told, owing to the railway porters dipping their tea tins in the milk—no one will accuse the farmers of being responsible: it will be quite obviously railway dirt added in transit. The London County Council propose under this Bill to take samples of milk at the railway stations, and where they find gross and unnecessary negligence to inspect the farms. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Rye made out that this was a very dangerous provision, that would lead to a great deal of inconvenience on the farm. But they have this power at present for tuberculosis, and the London County Council can come down and inspect any farm where they find milk with tuberculous bacilli is being sent to London. The Clause of the Bill only copies the provision which was actually embodied in the Bill last year of the President of the Local Government Board.
Under Clause 25 of the Milk and Dairies Bill he took power to enable the London County Council to make an inspection outside the county. Therefore the provisions for which we ask are only an instalment of what the Local Government Board propose as permanent legislation to deal with this matter. We do not say that our proposals are fully satisfactory, but we do say that there is a case to go to Committee. If the proposals are onerous, if they cannot be supported by evidence, we can surely trust a Committee of this House to alter them so that they will not press unduly upon any interest. We are perfectly ready this year again to withdraw our Clauses if we can be assured that the Government really intend to put their Bill through. We know that the right hon. Gentleman is himself as anxious as anybody to deal with this question of the milk supply. We remember that when he was a member of the London County Council there was no one who took a greater interest in this question and kindred questions than he did. But unfortunately this Session the Government are sacrificing the opportunity of carrying social and other reforms to a less profitable end. Two years ago the 735 right hon. Gentleman promised us that he would do his best to pass the Milk and Dairies Bill in that Session. Last year, when the County Council again brought forward their claims, he said the Bill was actually drafted, and he held it up. Incidentally he said it consisted of twenty pages. Ten weeks elapsed before it came to a First Beading, and by that time it had shrunk to fifteen pages, which, meant, I suppose, that the right hon. Gentleman found there would be a great deal more opposition to the Bill than he had expected. That is why we ask the Government to have regard not only to their intentions in this matter, but also to have regard to the probability of being able to carry them out. If they are not able to give us assurances that they will take steps to carry general legislation during the present Session let them give us their support in the division Lobby and enable the Second Reading of this Bill to be carried so that by a Committee we can go into the merits of this case.
EARL of KERRY
I am afraid I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in his remarks upon this Bill. I should rather like to join my protest with that of the hon. Member for Rye (Mr. Courthope) against this Bill. Anyone representing an agricultural and milk-producing district knows with what great apprehension these increased powers which the London County Council are now asking are viewed. These Clauses were withdrawn last year and the year before with the concurrence, if not largely at the instigation of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, I am unable to see any valid reason why they should not be withdrawn again pending general legislation upon this subject. What were the objections to these Clauses? Speaking in a general sense, it was said they were uncertain in their operations, that they would be unfair in their incidence in various localities, and would tend to inflict injustice upon many of those engaged in the milk-producing business. The right hon. Gentleman told us last year that in his opinion it was only right and proper that they should be withdrawn in order that the whole question should be dealt With in one comprehensive and general scheme applicable, not only to the districts producing milk for the benefit of London, but for the whole country. We have already been told this evening that the people who produce milk 736 under proper conditions have really nothing to fear from the increased powers now asked for by the London County Council. Is that really the case? I think anyone cognisant of the facts in the milk producing districts will bear me out when I say it is certainly not.
We all know these powers are looked upon with great jealousy and distrust— I think with reasonable distrust—by the farmers engaged in the milk industry. It was only a few months ago I became aware of a case in my own Constituency which revealed how easy it was for a great miscarriage of justice to take place in the existing Milk Clauses as they applied last year. I shall not trouble the House with a detailed recital of the case, but it was one where tuberculous milk having been discovered, the London County Council sent their inspector up to the rural district of Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, and there he found a certain cow which he asserted to be tuberculous. The farmer did not sit down under this accusation, but he had a fresh examination of the cow, which revealed the fact that it was free from tuberculosis, and a further joint examination was held by the veterinary surgeon of the London County Council and by one appointed by the Rural District Council, and that examination showed the cow was absolutely free from disease. Consequently the order stopping the sale of the milk from that cow was withdrawn. Of course the question of compensation arose, and the farmer asked for the modest sum of £5, but under the existing law it was found impossible for him to receive anything at all. I think that shows how the present law enables great injustice to be done. In this Bill powers are being asked for which will increase the possibility of similar injustice, and it will cause more dissatisfaction in the country districts. I am not blaming individuals in this matter, because it was simply a case of the law being at fault. The County Council were perfectly right in attempting to trace the tuberculous milk to its source, and having as they thought done so, they were right in insisting that the milk from the cow which their veterinary surgeon said was tuberculous should not be sold, and they were right in not paying compensation unless they were obliged to do so by law.
The point I wish to make is that in asking for these additional powers we shall be rendering more probable similar cases in the future, in fact, you will be rendering such cases absolutely certain. The result 737 will be that you will make the final settlement of this question very difficult to be reached. I realise that there must be a different point of view on the part of the milk consumer and the milk producer, and I am not insensible of the arguments on the milk consumers side, because it is only a short time since I was a member of the London County Council, and I heard all the arguments as to the necessity of legislation to ensure a pure milk supply in London and other great towns of this country. It seems to me that by imposing these conditions on the farmer you will only be making the final adjustment more difficult than it is now, and you will be doing a certain amount of evil in order that a rather problematical amount of good may come out of it. For these reasons I shall support my hon. Friend's Motion if he presses it to a Division. I have not the slightest objection to the Bill except in regard to the Milk Clauses, which I think would inflict a great hardship on the agricultural districts of this country.
Mr. J.W.WILSON(Worcestershire, N.)
I wish to emphasise a good deal of what the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Walter Guinness) has said, and to ask whether those who object to the Bill because of Part VI. are justified in opposing the general powers of the Bill of the largest urban authority in the country. For my part, I hope they will withdraw this Motion and take the Division on a Motion on Part VI. of the Bill. All the arguments the House has listened to with regard to these extended powers for the supervision of the milk supply of London are exactly the same as were applied over and over again before the Police and Sanitary Commissioners to those former set of Tuberculous Milk Clauses which are now respectfully spoken of as the Model Milk Clauses. London had to do without those Clauses for years and years after provincial towns were allowed to use them, and every time London brought this proposal before Parliament there was an Instruction moved either on behalf of the district of London or the counties surrounding London. We even had the argument that, if you bring in special restrictions for one town, you are more likely to have pernicious milk dumped on other towns; but, if it is doing any harm in the principal town of our land, I cannot see why those towns should not be allowed to make an experiment of this sort. I, for one, am quite 738 satisfied that in working it would prove no more pernicious to the agricultural and farming interest than did the Model Clauses with regard to tuberculous milk.
London seems to be leading the van in this crusade against pernicious milk, and the Mover and Seconder of the rejection of the Bill ask the House of Commons to deny it the right to carry these proposals on the ground that the milk is going to be sent to markets nearer the source of supply. The fact that London milk travels over 100 miles shows pretty well that there is much greater risk to it than to the milk supplied to other places, and, personally, I sincerely hope this opposition will not be persisted in if we cannot have a Bill operating for the whole country. That Bill was promised so long ago as 1007, when the Public Health Act, which I had the honour to introduce, was passed. The Milk Clauses in that Bill were withdrawn because the Government undertook to bring in a more comprehensive Bill. It is high time we had such a Bill. The whole course of public health legislation has been of a permissive sort. A number of towns and districts in the land have been allowed special powers to see how they can be put in force; and when they have been found to work satisfactorily they have been extended to the whole country. I see no reason why these additional powers should not be developed for the whole country. I do not believe they will result in pernicious milk being distributed in other centres, because I believe other centres nearer the source of supply are also able to look after their own interests as well as London. I would join in the appeal to the Government to take the earliest opportunity to promote a general Bill on this subject. Meanwhile, the London County Council or, at any rate, the Committee upstairs, who are much better able to decide the question on evidence, should be left to determine whether or not it is likely to work prejudicially to any interests if these powers are conferred by this Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Emmott)
The real difficulty—as I understand it—the actual matter in dispute—is the great difference of treatment meted out to milk sellers in various parts of the country by the different urban local authorities. While those interested do not object to stringent regulations they do object to regulations of all kinds; they object to having one regulation at Manchester, and an entirely different one in 739 London. That is very reasonable, and it can only be met by the Government introducing a public Bill to deal with this matter. Of course I am not in the counsels of the Government, but I understand that a public statement has been made to the effect that it cannot see its way to introduce such legislation this year. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board is in a position to make a more hopeful statement this evening, but whether he is or not, the first thing to be decided is whether this Bill should or should not pass its Second Reading. I think it would be a great shame if we were to throw out an omnibus General Powers Bill because one part dealt with powers obnoxious to some people. I do not quite understand why hon. Members should oppose the Second Reading. Why should they not take the discussion on the Instruction to omit the Milk Clauses of the Bill? If I agreed with hon. Members on this particular point, I should still consider their tactics in forcing a division on the Second Reading, and taking the discussion at the same time a mistake. I think it would be for the benefit of hon. Members to agree to the Second Reading, and take the discussion on the Instruction. They may perhaps think that there are opponents of other parts of the Bill who would vote with them against the Second Reading, but any votes they obtained in that way would not compensate for the votes they would lose in consequence of opposing the Second Reading of an omnibus Bill because they object to one set of provisions. I hope the House will pass the Second Reading, because it would be quite unprecedented to throw out a Bill like this altogether, simply because one part is objected to.
§ 12.0 M
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to appeal to my hon. Friend to accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means always provided that it is possible to take the discussion on the Instruction this evening.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
I have not the slightest desire to destroy this Bill. As appeals have been made from many quarters to me, I am willing to follow the course which has been suggested. My justification for moving the rejection was because of what happened last year, when we only got our way because we 740 were able to combine the opposition on the Milk Clauses and building regulations, and so on. It was only so as not to jeopardise the Bill that the County Council agreed to accept the Instruction which stood in my name, and thus secure the Second Reading. I had hoped the same thing would have happened to-night. I will ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Mr. REMNANT
Before this Amendment is withdrawn, may I say a few words. I will not take up the time of the House for long after what the right, hon. Gentleman has said, and I agree with what he has said about the milk question There are other points in the Bill which I should like to raise as a London member. There are two main questions, one dealing with milk, and the other with London improvements, which were raised last year, and which are brought in again in this Bill, upon which I should wish to speak. The latter question is the sole cause, as far as I am concerned, for objecting to the Second Reading of the Bill. In the ordinary course of events it would be quite unusual to object to the Second Reading of the London County Council (General Powers) Bill, but exactly the same course was taken this year as was-taken last year, in spite of all the objections then taken, and if I do not go into detail in this matter now I hope we shall have an opportunity either on this or some other occasion of doing so. I will not now do more than enter my protest against the other aspects of the Bill, but I hope I may have an opportunity of doing so later on.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee to delete Part VI. (Milk Supply)." —[Mr. Courthope.]
§ Mr. JAMES MASON
I sympathise with the general objects contained in Part VI. of the Bill. We are all desirous, as far as-possible, of protecting the consumer of milk, but I wish to offer a few words of warning in his interest. Anything in the shape of piecemeal legislation in this direction may very materially tend to injure the interests of the consumer of milk. In the case of Denmark a very material improvement has been effected in the general condition of cattle with regard to tuberculosis, by the general stamping out of the disease, brought about 741 by co-operation on the part of the farmers. The real danger here is that you will have no effort of that kind on the part of the farmers so long as they have partial legislation and have to submit to rules for one part of the country from which they are free in another part. The London County Council has very extensive powers to inspect and interfere in the districts surrounding London as regards milk coming into London. But there are other districts which will continue to compete for that milk, and so long as they are open to the farmer the London consumers will have to pay higher for their milk owing to those restrictions. The whole question in the interest of the consumer is a question of price. It is quite evident that these restrictions tend to increase the cost of production. I have had a good deal of experience in this question of tuberculosis in cows, and have been very successful in stamping it out of cows, but only by spending a good deal of money. If you increase the cost of production you necessarily increase the price to the consumer, and the cost of milk is a very great question for the poorer classes. There are large numbers of the poorer people in the great towns who consume milk only in very sparing quantities, and will consume less, or else give up consuming milk, if the price is increased. Any increase in the price might conceivably do more harm than running some risk of less purity. I only offer that suggestion as a warning because the question of cost ought never to be lost sight of in any steps which the County Council take to purify the supply of milk. I am convinced that tuberculosis can be eventually stamped out, and pure milk can be got if we are willing to pay a higher price. I do not think, if you take effective precautions, you can fail to increase the price of the milk, and it is in the interest of the poorer classes of the community that I would beg the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether the inability to buy the quantity of milk which they have bought before may not have somewhat of a counteracting influence in the dangers which we are trying to abate.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Burns)
The admirable speech made by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Guinness), when speaking on behalf of the London County Council, renders unnecessary any elaborate treatment of the subject from the purely sanitary point of 742 view. The hon. Member, I think, convinced the House that legislation was necessary to enable London to deal not only with the purity of the milk supply, but to deal with tuberculous milk, whether it is drawn from cows with tuberculous udders or cows suffering from tubercular emaciation; in fact, no one has challenged the case made out for the County Council by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds as to the necessity for legislation. The hon. Member who has just spoken (Mr. J. Mason) has drawn from his own experience conclusive proof that, given certain conditions, tuberculosis can be stamped out not only in animals but in human beings. That is a question which to the credit of our nation increasing attention is being devoted. I venture to say that tuberculosis in this country among human beings will in time be almost as scarce as typhus and typhoid are now. The disagreement between the hon. Member for Rye (Mr. Courthope) and myself arises over other points, and they are very small in number. The hon. Member, ardent champion as he is of the agricultural interest, admitted that it is disadvantageous to the farming interest as a whole that it should be connected too closely with the defence of those conditions which prevent London, which is the best milk-consuming customer of the dairying trade, getting better and cleaner milk.
In my opinion London ought to have twice the amount of milk it now has. The hon. Member for Rye said he regarded it as a serious condition of things that the London County Council should have power to take samples of milk in transit. I do not regard it at all as outrageous. I will give the hon. Member a simple fact. A very ingenious statistical friend of mine has calculated that the total milk supply that comes into London for a whole year is equal, under normal conditions, to the daily flow of the River Thames over Teddington Weir. That gives an indication of the amount of milk brought into London. Surely, therefore, if that is the extent of the trade problem with which we have "to deal, there ought to be no objection to a medical officer of health being empowered to take steps to see that the people who are to consume the milk should not run risks in the way of infection, and that he should be allowed to go to the other side of Teddington Weir and take a few samples in order to ascertain whether it comes from cows with tuberculous udders, or from cows suffering from tubercular emaciation. In this 743 matter we have precedent to guide us. Cities like Manchester and Leeds have not only the advantage of the "Model Clauses," but they have the advantage of special local Acts, giving them the powers which the London County Council are now seeking. The effect is that farmers, knowing that these powers exist in the cities I have mentioned and elsewhere, no longer send in either impure or tuberculous milk. Their cowhouses are so constructed and arranged as to give the most beneficial results to the consumers and the farmers as a whole.
I am going to quote an authority that is not a Local Government Board medical inspector nor my own. I have here an interesting speech made by Mr. James Sadler, of the Cheshire Market Producing Association. I believe he was one of the deputation who came to see me at the Local Government Board, and I think on that occasion I demonstrated that if the London County Council had this power it would be wise in pursuing the line of least resistance, and not enforcing the new power arbitrarily too rapidly against the farmer who would be reasonable in meeting the requirements; and I promised the deputation on that occasion that any power I could exercise as President of the Local Government Board with the London County Council in that direction would be placed gladly at the disposal of the decent farmers, who were anxious that the milk they sell in London should be as clean as the price they receive for it, and, I hope, is profitable. Mr. Sadler, criticising Professor Delapine's report on the milk supply of Manchester, said:—Professor Delapine's investigations, covering 12½years, gave only average results, and not sufficient credit is given for the vast improvement in that period. For example, in 1897–98 17 per cent, of the samples taken at the arriving station proved to be tuberculous, whereas ten years later the percentage was only 7, Dealing with the firms supplying milk, he stated that from 1897 to 1902 about 28 per cent, were sending tuberculous milk. In 1903 it was 19.2 per cent., and from 1907 to 1909 it had dropped to 5.7 per cent. That was an enormous reduction, and it was claimed to be the result of inspection. Whatever the cause might be the improvement was most remarkable. Passing on to the question of dirty milk, he said the statement of Professor Delapine that 131b. of sediment appeared in the Manchester milk supply every day was very serious. That calculation was based on 40,000 gallons, representing 178 tons, and worked out at two-thirds of a lb of dirt to one ton of milk. These figures represented an average of 12½ years. In the case of tuberculous milk there was a great improvement in the period, which should be credited to the farmer.What is the deduction I draw from that 1 It is that in the Manchester and Cheshire district, which is subject to inspection, as the authorities have powers similar to those now asked for, either by local Ac 744 or by model clauses, instead of harassing the farmer, they seem to have increased the trade in milk in these particular districts, and in so doing they have diminished from 28 per cent, to 5.7 per cent, the amount of tuberculous and other infection. The hon. Member for Rye asked, Is the farmer to be saddled with responsibility for dirt added in course of transit1! I would like to point out to him that we only wish to put the farmer right in this matter. May I say personally, and as a Minister, that this is a very serious matter. In some respects it is a delicate question. It is one in which very often the farmer ought to have the benefit of the doubt, because he is placed in a more difficult situation in reaching his customer than is the man who sells potatoes or turnips or meat that are not so liable to infection of all kinds as is milk, which, while it is one of the most nutritious of foods, especially for children, is, oddly enough, the most susceptible to all forms of contagion.
All ministers and all local authorities are willing to look at the farmer from that point of view. The only other point the hon. Member made was this: He said that this matter ought not to be treated in a piecemeal way. Ideally and theoretically we all agree with him, if it were in France or in Germany and in other countries where they do things logically—and I hope that the English people never will. But if we are to take the hon. Member for Rye's view on other matters, and do things by instalments and by compromise, in a land where, as Tennyson said:—Freedom broadens slowly down from precedent to" precedent" —then why does he object to the process of instalment and compromise in legislation on an important subject like this? He knows full well that everything that I could do a year ago to bring in a large Milk Bill I did, and the farmers were kind enough to say that they were pleased with the attitude of the Local Government Board in regard to their trade and industry. I believe that any assurance I could now give in regard to our future action with reference to this industry would be readily received, but the hon. Member for Rye knows very well that we could not get a Milk Bill through last year, because other questions took up time that we hoped might have been partially given to a Milk Bill. The hon. Member also knows full well that if this was true of last Session, it is equally true of this Session.
745 The fact is that the House on both sides is extremely anxious that the Government should keep to the main issues of this Session. To suggest to the House that we can get such a Bill through this year is to whisper a promise to the ear only to break it to the hope. I will not do that, even though it might be pleasant to the hon. Member for Rye. When he suggests to us that the difference between us on the Milk Bill is very small, I would point out to him that, though it appears to be small, it is really a difficult matter to settle. There are questions relating to land and agriculture, and there is the question of whether compensation for slaughtered animals shall come out of the local rates or Imperial taxes. The hon. Gentleman knows very well that this is a most thorny and contentious subject. There is this and many other aspects in connection with the land and agricultural problem which enter into this discussion, and it is no good to try to persuade me that the matter is not contentious, or that we could agree upon it in a few minutes. I am positively convinced that that could not be done. But on the point which divides us there is no reason for this subject being mentioned at all. Compensation for the slaughter of animals does not come into this Bill, and, therefore, the difference which divides us on a general Milk Bill does not come for consideration to-night. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has told us the history of this subject, and how London has waited not only for ten years, but for longer than ten years. He has told us that the model Clauses were enjoyed in the provinces before London had an opportunity of receiving them. But he also told us that, apart from tuberculosis in milk, we have no right to allow dirty milk to come into London as it now does. That, however, is provided for in a simple way. Borough Councils have power to deal with dirty milk, and they will do it, I am sure, reasonably and fairly, while the London County Council will have power, within the County of London, to deal with tuberculous milk on evidence produced and cause shown, and also to deal with milk from cows suffering from tuberculous emaciation, besides power to deal with cows in the country outside their jurisdiction suffering from tuberculosis.
I appeal to hon. Members who represent agricultural constituencies, and especially to the Noble Lord who spoke this evening as a rural and agricultural Dr. Jekyll. In the interests of his constituents he was in 746 favour of keeping things as they now are, but as the County Councillor Mr. Hyde, he saw the advisability of London having clean, and healthy, and non-infected milk. May I put this to hon. Members: Are they wise in the interests of the farmer and of agriculture in creating the impression throughout the country that it is to the interest of the farmer and the agriculturist that in London, where dirty and diseased milk can be sold, that such a condition of things ought to be allowed to continue? [HON. MEMBEES: "No, no."] I am putting my case fairly, and the inference London people will draw from that is that the farmers must have some reason for countenancing that condition of things going on. If you shake the confidence of people in any article of diet, I do not care whether it be beer—very difficult to do—whisky, which I am told it is almost impossible to do, if you shake the confidence of people in such a universally-accepted article of diet as milk, the tendency is that you will diminish the demand and the consumption. It seems to me in the best interests of the farmers and of agriculture that they should see to what their customers want, namely, that milk is not diseased, and that is produced under clean conditions, and if they do so, the milk trade will prosper, as the Manchester and Chester figures prove, by those reasonable conditions being observed.
Why is it that Denmark is making such progress in the European markets with the sale of butter, bacon, and latterly of milk? I know, as an hon. Member remarks, that is partly due to co-operation, but it is not wholly co-operation. Why is it that Ireland, I am glad to say, has been able to improve its butter and its milk and bacon supply 1 It is because it is adopting the methods of production and transit of which Denmark has given an example. I believe it is not paying a compliment either to the farming, dairying, or agricultural communities in this country to imply that what is good enough for Denmark arid other European countries is not good enough for the English farmer. I say that with pride as an Englishman, because when I went through Canada and America what pleased me more than anything else was that all the towns that took the first prizes were of British stock—all the pigs were either Irish or British, and the finest horses also came from English stock. I want to improve upon that; I want the best milk and the cleanest milk, and the milk freest from disease to come not from foreign countries but from English 747 farmers. I want English farmers and hon. Members in this House to rise to the level of their duty in meeting their customers, and henceforth to see that five millions of people, who are the greatest milk consumers, shall treat the farmers reasonably. By these provisions the County Council are demanding that the farmers shall give better and cleaner milk-cheaper I cannot think—to the Londoners than they now do. That will give to the farmer more profit and a larger industry. The Local Government Board and the London County Council's officers will do their best to extend the industry, and will do nothing either to irritate or to prejudice the farming and dairying industry, which all of us would like to see developed more rapidly than it is now doing, and which can best develop with the best sanitary conditions imposed upon it reasonably and fairly by the London County Council.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The right hon. Gentleman is always ingenious, and he has been more than usually so to-night. In parts of his speech, especially at the end, he amused the House with his quips and jokes and quotations, and in that way he secured a more favourable reception for his speech than he would otherwise have done. I am bound to say, speaking from a rather prolonged experience, that I never heard a more brazen-faced speech delivered by any Minister. The right hon. Gentleman proved that the Government ought, through his Department, to have dealt with this question as a whole. He has produced evidence from Cheshire and the North to show that clauses somewhat similar, but not identical, have worked with very.good effect in that part of the country. He has told us that the result of sufficient and efficient inspection of milk is that not only do you get better milk for the consumer, but that you produce a condition of things which the producers of milk regard not merely with equanimity but with satisfaction. In his concluding words he made it quite clear that there is a widespread necessity for legislation on this subject, and he told us that he would have been only too glad to introduce and carry a Milk Bill, but that he could not do it—for what reason? Because there was not time last Session, and because, as he told us to our amazement, there was general agreement that it was not possible to do so this Session. That is why I said his speech was brazen. When hon. Members remind us that in previous years 748 much of our sanitary legislation has been the result of private Acts of Parliament and clauses inserted in those Acts, I would point out that they are stating only a portion of the truth. It is quite true that the whole of the Public Health Act of 1875 and the amending Acts have been the result of clauses introduced into private Bills, but those clauses were collected into Acts of Parliament from time to time by private members. Nobody did more distinguished work in this respect than Sir Francis Powell and the present Lord Wolverhamp-ton. This particular controversy has been raging for years. Every year the representatives of the agricultural interests are compelled to come here and fight these clauses, not because they object to inspection, not because they fear any careful examination into their farming operations, but because a law of this kind, which is very severe and restrictive upon some of the farmers, ought to be general and not limited to particular districts. When the right hon. Gentleman tells us that a Bill of this kind, which everybody admits is necessary, and many regard as urgent, could not be passed by the Government because there was no time, we are entitled to say that it is a most preposterous excuse to give for inaction. If the Government choose to introduce Budgets of the character on which we spent so much of last Session, then they must not come here and say that there is no time. They must come and say that they preferred legislation of that kind to the legislation that we want. Here, again, we are now only in the second week of April, yet we are told that it is impossible for the Government, with a majority of 124—as we are constantly reminded—to carry a Bill of this kind. Why? Because last Session and this Session have been devoted to proposals to which I have referred, and to the reform of the Constitution! The Government are going to smash the Constitution up and produce something of their own in place of it. These are the reasons why the right hon. Gentleman cannot legislate and why he calls upon us on this side of the House, who are interested in agriculture, to support this Bill. If my hon. Friends on this side, many of whom sit for London, wish to make an example of the Government— a policy and procedure often taken when hon. Gentlemen opposite sat on this side— we should oppose these clauses; because I do not hesitate to say that on every platform in the country where the action 749 of this House might be challenged, it would be perfectly simple to prove that the whole responsibility for inaction in the matter rests with the Government.
That is not the line we will take. Those of us who are prepared to support these clauses think there is much in them objectionable. It is highly objectionable that they should be passed in this form and not in a Bill applying to the whole country. Yet we are face to face with the situation. The Government decline to attempt to carry legislation of the kind. They say they would, only there is more pressing work to do. Therefore, unless we support the London County Council with this separate legislation nothing will be done until the present Government has been replaced by another, or for probably two or three years. Under these circumstances there can be no choice for us—at all events for myself. I am not sure that there is not a good deal to be said against the actual procedure adopted in order to enforce this farm sanitation. Under all the circumstances, realising as we do that there is a necessity for increased inspection in this particular article of food, I, for one, shall certainly support the Bill of the London County Council. I shall do so solely because the Government are unwilling to give us the legislation that we ought to have, and because I think it is necessary that London, at least, the greatest urban community in the country, should have that protection which many parts of the country need.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
It is a sorrow to me to differ from my right hon. Friend below me, but I am afraid that on this occasion, although he always talks sincerely, he is thinking only of London and the London County Council. I am thinking of my Constituents, the milk producers of Essex. The House knows how difficult it is to get farmers agreed upon any given subject. I have seldom known the agricultural inhabitants and the farmers in different parts of the country so united as they are in their determined opposition to the Milk Clauses of this Bill. They feel that an injustice will be done them, and they resent it. Even agriculturists resent injustice. The President of the Local Government Board in his magnificent peroration, which I attempted to follow, but found it was too rapid for me, gave vent to sentiments with which we all thoroughly 750 agree. The whole of the agricultural Members who are waiting here to record their votes against this Bill agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the necessity for pure milk and the necessity for every county town having pure milk. The President of the Local Government Board may quote statistics by the yard, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Guinness) may produce reports showing how dangerous to health is bad milk. The farmers are perfectly aware of that, and are ready to assent to the passing of a Bill to prevent it. What they object to is piecemeal legislation. The President of the Local Government Board said, do not let the population think that the reason the farmers object to the Milk Clauses of this Bill is because they object to the penal legislation against impure milk. We are not in the least afraid the public will think that is our reason. We shall make it known, and it is well known that we are anxious to assist every one in securing a pure milk supply. People who have seen milk after it is delivered by the producer, and the various receptacles into which it is put when it is received perfectly pure, must be aware that the producer of milk is not the only man who sells a bad article. We all here agreed to a great portion of the speech of the President of the Local Government Board. We have every wish to assist the Government in ensuring that the milk is pure, but we object strongly to piecemeal legislation, and to a series of regulations which are not uniform in their operation all over the country. I think the offer made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rye was extremely fair. There are many things in the Bill which are important, but there are many things in it I have not been able to grasp at all. I was unable to get a copy of the Bill, so great I suppose was the interest in it. We object to this partial legislation, and that being so, I appeal to the agricultural members to assist us with their votes in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I wish to acknowledge how much we appreciate the fair spirit in which we have been met on this question by the agricultural Members, because they have shown from the first a desire that we should be allowed to get this Bill through. They have concentrated their opposition on the Milk Clauses, and they have agreed to give us the Bill without stipulating for the withdrawal of those 751 Clauses. I hope we shall show an equally generous spirit when we come to discuss the Milk Clauses in Committee. I think there are two or three points on which we might meet the hon. Member for Rye and his friends. He took objection to the proposal to make the farmers responsible for what might be done to the milk in transit, although possibly the porter might be more responsible for the state in which the milk arrived at the terminus. I do not think we have desired to press this provision unduly against the farmer where it can be proved that the impure condition of the milk was not really produced on the farm from which the milk came.
Another Committee point on which we might meet the hon. Member for Rye is in regard to the clause dealing with tuberculosis. I do not think we need press the clause. When we consider how valuable the clauses of this Bill are generally, I think we ought to be ready to make some concessions. For my own part I think compensation is the real difficulty, and there we have no power at all. I cannot help thinking that the Government might do something in that way. While they may not be able to find time under the circumstances to pass a general Bill for the whole country, at all events they might find some small amount of money to meet this question of compensation, which presses very hardly in this Bill upon the localities where these animals have to be killed. I agree those are Committee points. As regards the way in which we shall meet them, we do not want to make the conditions under which you sell milk in London more stringent than the conditions in towns in which the farmers can sell their milk. If in our desire to obtain a pure milk supply for London we can only succeed by imposing stringent regulations on those who send milk to London as compared with other places, the result will be to make milk more expensive to the consumer. That is why my hon. Friends have always held the opinion that, while we are most anxious to secure a pure milk supply for London, the powers necessary to secure this ought to be general, and that a general Bill ought to be brought in. We have had a most sympathetic speech from the President of the Local Government Board. I believe he is quite in earnest in his desire to promote the objects of this Bill, but we cannot help remembering that we have had 752 more than one sympathetic speech from the right hon. Gentleman and nothing has happened. I should have liked to have seen other hon. Members taking a deeper interest in this question. I can do nothing, I am afraid, to prevent a Division taking place. I can only assure my hon. Friends we shall meet them in every possible way, and that we have the most earnest desire from our own self interest that these clauses shall not be too stringent. If we had our way we would infinitely prefer that a general Bill should be introduced, rather than that we should be put in the position to-night of having to bring this forward for the third time for the metropolis we represent.
§ Mr. COURTENAY WARNER
I think it is only fair that somebody on this side of the House should make a statement for those of us who are agriculturists. We object to these Clauses, not because we object to regulations and stringent regulations about milk, but because they are introduced in a Private Bill and not in a Bill for the whole country. The case of Denmark has been cited as affording a good example for preventing disease and for improving milk and butter, but this Bill merely brings the system into operation in places. My own Constituency serves both London and Birmingham with considerable quantities of milk. They have different conditions for London and Birmingham, and the farmers suffer from not having an alternative market. Take the consumers' case in London, nearly a fifth of London is outside the County Council area, including one of the poorest parts over the border in Essex. There would be no inspection of the milk of those poor people, and they would not be protected by these regulations. There would only be inspectors for the richer parts, and the poorer people in Essex would get no better milk. Those two cases show how partial such a measure as this would be, and I think these Clauses ought not to be allowed to go forward for one place only.
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee to omit Part VI."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 85; Noes, 81.753
|Division No. 24.]||AYES.||[12 55 a.m.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Helmsley, Viscount||Proby, Col. Douglas James|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Quilter, William Eley C.|
|Barnston, Harry||Hilller, Dr. Alfred Peter||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rees, J. D.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Brassey, Capt. R. (Oxon, Banbury)||Hunt, Rowland||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Calley, Col. Thomas C. P.||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Royds, Edmund|
|Carllie, Edward Hildred||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Johnson, William||Sanders, Arthur Robert|
|Cator, John||Kerry, Earl of||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashntole (Walsall)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Macmaster, Donald||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Marks, George Croydon||Verney, Frederick William|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Walrond, Hon. Lienel|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Mount, William Arthur||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Newdegate, F. A. N.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Waring, Walter|
|Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Grant, James Augustus||Perkins, Walter Frank||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peto, Basil Edward||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pretyman, Ernest George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Courthope and Mr. Stanier.|
|Heath, Col. Arthur Howard|
|Adam, Major William A.||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Fisher, William Hayes||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Fletcher, John Samuel||Manfield, Harry|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||France, Gerald Ashburner||Mond, Alfred Morltz|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Fuller, John Michael F||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Barnes, George N.||Glanville, Harold James||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph Albert|
|Beale, William Phipson||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Peel, Hon. Wm. R. W. (Tauntea)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gooch, Henry Cubltt||Pointer, Joseph|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Gulland, John William||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Boyton, James||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Radtord, George Heynes|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hancock, John George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harris, F. L. (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebona, W)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel|
|Clough, William||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Coates, Major Edward F.||Hogan, Michael||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hudson, Walter||Waterlow, David Sydney|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Williams, Aneurln (Plymouth)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Du Cros, A. (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lewis, John Herbert||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Elverston, Harold||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Guinness and Captain Jessel.|
§ Ordered, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to delete Part VI. (Milk Supply)."
§ Mr. PICKERSGILL
moved, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they do strike out Part IV. of the Bill (Smoke Nuisance Clauses)."
I can explain in a single word what the effect of the proposal is. At present it is permitted to allow a chimney to emit black smoke, but the Bill proposes to omit the word "black." Secondly, it is proposed 754 that any factory belonging to or used by borough councils, and any places where any process is carried on under statutory powers, shall be made subject to the laws with regard to smoke nuisances, from which they are at present exempt. I do not desire to pronounce any opinion upon the merits of these proposals in the abstract. I dare say that the House might be disposed to look upon them with a favourable eye. But at all events it will be admitted that these proposals are a very important alteration of the existing law, 755 and it is now proposed to make those alterations by a Private Act of Parliament. The proposal is to amend a Public Statute by a Private Bill. That is a proceeding which has always been open to very grave objections, and it is particularly mischievous in the present case for reasons which in a sentence or two I will explain to the House. The Public Statute which it is proposed to amend is the Public Health (London) Act, 1891. This is the point. The smoke nuisances section of that London Act is precisely identical with the smoke nuisances sections of the Public Health Act, 1875, which applies to the whole county outside of London.
This proposal is to make more stringent the smoke nuisances section of the London Act, whilst the Public Health Act, 1875, which applies outside London, is to be left precisely as it is. That is to say, you are going to unfairly handicap the manufacturer inside London in competition with the manufacturer under precisely similar conditions just outside the county of London. That is grossly unfair to London, and I am really surprised that the London County Council should bring forward proposals which press so hardly upon a considerable number of areas which are occupied by their own constituents. These areas—and that which I represent is one of them—do feel very keenly that in this matter they are being wounded in the house of those who ought to be their friends. Now this is not urgent. If a proposal were made to alter the general law it would certainly have my support, but I do protest against this injustice and inequality being inflicted upon us. It is not a time when the trade and manufacture of London can bear a handicap of this kind, and therefore I beg to move the Instruction which stands in my name on the Paper.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
The chief point raised by the hon. Member who moved the Instruction is that this is a matter which should be dealt with by general legislation. The answer to that is that there are about eight cases in the Midlands where these special powers have already been obtained from this House, and the power we ask for would only put London on the same footing as regards smoke nuisances as the Scotch towns already find themselves.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
Yes, but in practice it only applies, under the Scotch Act of 1897, to anyone whose factory emits smoke which is a nuisance, whatever the colour of the smoke is, only in that case is there a liability to a penalty. Under the London Act there is the qualification that the smoke must be black, and, of course, it must be in such quantities as to be a nuisance. In a recent case concerning the Chelsea Borough Council the plaintiffs failed owing to the fact that the smoke was not black. The clause, which was the only operative clause of the London Public Health Act, 1891, is now quite unreliable to check this smoke nuisance, and, therefore, the London County Council ask that where the smoke is a nuisance, whatever its colour, there shall be power to check it. The other points which the hon. Member took are, I think, matters of detail. I think it is obviously advisable that borough councils should be brought under the operation of the law just as private individuals and statutory companies are made liable. Considering the great loss which annually takes place in London owing to fogs and the great danger to public health arising from the amount of smut consumed, it is advisable that we should have the same powers possessed by other parts of the country, and that we should do everything possible to check this very great nuisance.
§ Question, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they do strike out Part IV. of the Bill (Smoke Nuisance Clauses)," put, and negatived.
§ And, it being after half-past Eleven of the clock on Thursday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, in pursuance of the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Eleven minutes after One a.m.. Friday, 8th April.