HC Deb 13 April 1910 vol 16 cc1247-9

I beg to ask for leave to introduce a Bill to make better provision with respect to the sale of milk and the regulation of dairies.

In asking the House for leave to introduce a Milk and Dairies Bill, I may take advantage of the. Ten Minutes' Rule to explain, not only the Bill which I am about to introduce, but also the circumstances which have led me to make this Motion. It is really a sequel to the discussion which took place last Thursday night on the London County Council General Powers Bill when the majority supported me in moving an Instruction to the Committee to strike out the clauses of the Bill dealing with the milk supply. During the Debate on that Motion I assured the President of the Local Government Board that the Bill which he introduced last year dealing with this question on general lines might be treated as non-controversial, and that he need not anticipate any serious opposition in principle from the agricultural Members, who were agreed chat though they might not find the provisions of this Bill easy to comply with, yet general legislation was necessary, and they would satisfy themselves with raising points of detail. The right hon. Gentleman was unable to accept that statement, and said he expected if he did reintroduce his Bill that my Friends and I, who voice the wishes of the agricultural bodies, would offer strenuous opposition. I hope the action I am taking to-day will satisfy him that that is not the case. It was in response to the appeal of an influential deputation of agriculturists that he first promised to introduce general legislation on this subject, and when the general Bill was introduced the chambers of agriculture, after considering it in great detail, passed a resolution supporting it in principle, but asking for certain amendments of detail, which in no way interfered with either the scheme or the machinery of his Bill.

As the right hon. Gentleman has not seen his way to introduce his Bill this year—it is admitted on all hands by the representatives both of the consumers and of the producers of milk that general legislation is very necessary, and that the continuation of piecemeal legislation is intolerable, as well as ineffective—I am asking leave to introduce a general Bill. It may be described briefly as the right hon. Gentleman's Bill of last year, with the Amendments which the Chambers of Agriculture decided upon incorporated in it. It is supported not only by a great many agricultural Members— leading Members on both sides of the House have their names on the back of the Bill—but also by leading members of the London County Council on both sides; and the London County Council has been the most exacting of all the local bodies in their demands on this question, so, if they are satisfied, the lesser lights in the municipal world are likely to accept the Bill. Further, it is supported by the representatives in this House of the County Councils Association. I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that the agriculturists have been sincere in their endeavour to prepare a general Bill which will satisfy the interests of the consumer. It may be a unique instance, but the Bill will have on the back of it, the names of all the four tellers in the Division on the London County Council Bill of last Thursday. I hope, in these circumstances, when the right hon. Gentleman has seen the Bill and examined it, he will find that it is so like his Bill that a careful comparison is necesasry to detect the difference. I hope he will then agree with me that this measure can be treated as non-controversial, and that he will induce his colleagues on the Treasury Bench to give facilities for the Bill, or, at least, that they will not prevent its going upstairs to be discussed in Committee. It is in the sincere belief that this is in the interests, not only of the consumers, but of the producers of milk, and that general legislation on sound lines, even though the restrictions are severe, should be passed, and in the hope that this Bill, framed as it is upon the right hon. Gentleman's own measure of last year, may lead to a solution of these difficulties which encompass the whole question of the milk supply that I beg leave to move the Second Reading.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Courthope, Mr. Walter Long, Mr. Hayes Fisher, Sir Luke White, Colonel Lock-wood, Mr. Courtenay Warner, Mr. Ryland Adkins, Mr. Charles Bathurst, Mr. Dawes, Mr. Guinness, Captain Jessel, and Mr. Stanier. Bill presented accordingly, and read the first time. (To be read a second time upon Wednesday next.)