§ Mr. ASTOR
I beg to move, "That fresh legislation is needed to control the supply and sale of Milk and cream in the United Kingdom, and that the existing Laws should be more thoroughly administered."
I was not present during most of the discussion this afternoon, but I gathered when I came in this evening that the Committee was not agreed as to the merits of the Amendment that was before it. I sincerely trust that we shall find more agreement in connection with the proposals which I intend to put before the House this evening. We all realise that milk, although it is a necessary form of nourishment—it is essential to children, and it is a most valuable form of nourishment for 1024 adults—at the same time can be, and very frequently is, the medium for transmitting disease. Milk is the only food eaten raw which is a good pathogenic medium. Milk is the only medium which, in its raw condition, often conveys and transmits disease to those who take it. We know that through milk enteric, diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis, and scarlet fever can be conveyed. People often talk about adulterated milk, by which term they mean milk which has been adulterated by the addition of water. If you examine so-called adulterated milk you will often find that the least injurious and the best part of that milk is the water contained in it.
I have put down this Motion largely with the object of raising the question of milk legislation, and to try to ascertain what the proposals of the Government are going to be. It is a question which should be ventilated, because it is one of enormous importance. The public at large, and I dare say many of us here, require to look into it more fully than is usually done. I am perfectly convinced that if the public realised the importance of having pure milk, and insisted upon having it, the public could get it, and not only that, but that they could get pure milk at reasonable prices. The chief thing we have to fight against is the ignorance and prejudice of the public. That is far more difficult to overcome than the so-called vested interests, although, of course, that difficulty exists. One is told that if we have milk legislation there is a prospect of raising the price of milk, and that it is essential, above all things, to have cheap milk. To my mind good milk is cheap milk, and bad milk is dear milk. If you buy milk at fourpence a quart, and if that milk gives your child a tuberculous gland; or if that milk produces diarrhœa—we know there is a great deal of infantile mortality arising from that cause—then that milk is not cheap milk, and it would not be cheap milk at half the price. Milk which produces disease is not cheap, at whatever price it is sold. Therefore, we are justified in saying that the first essential is to have pure milk. If we can get pure milk we have obtained the first requisite in connection with our milk supply. People do not realise the nutritive value of milk. I have seen it stated in a scientific report that a quart of milk is equivalent in food value and nutrition to three-quarters of a pound of lean beef, or to eight eggs, or to two pounds of potatoes, or to one-third of a pound of wheat. If we 1025 compare the price of milk with the price of eggs or potatoes or beef, and if we add to the original cost of beef, eggs, or potatoes the cost of cooking those foods, we shall come to the conclusion that at its price pure milk is by far the cheapest and the most nutritive food on the market at the present moment.
I raise this question largely to find out what the Government propose to do. The President of the Local Government Board has adumbrated in his replies more than once that he intends to bring in legislation. I sincerely trust that his legislative attempts will be more successful than those we have had in the past. A year ago, in its final Report, the Departmental Committee on Tuberculosis welcomed the prospect of the legislation which was promised. The welcome remains; the legislation has not yet arrived. The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, who is in many matters a cheery optimist, by the fact that on numerous occasions he introduced Milk Bills, gave proof that in his opinion additional milk legislation was necessary.
I want to put a certain amount of evidence before the House to prove that the present state of affairs is unsatisfactory. First of all, I would quote the President of the Local Government Board. In a reply given to mc last month he stated that—Tuberculosis in children is often clearly connected with the drinking of tuberculous milk.I want to quote also from the annual report of Dr. Newsholme, the medical officer of the Local Government Board. He quotes an extract from a report sent to him by, I think, a medical officer of health which is so important, and bears so much upon the condition of the dairy industry in certain districts, that I propose to read it in full:—The grooming of cattle is practically unheard of—That is in his district—and in consequence their flanks are often found to be thickly encrusted with manure which, as the analysis of milk shows, finds its way into the milk. Facilities for washing the udders and ho hands of the milkers are not readily available in the cowsheds. Manure is accumulated in close proximity to the milking sheds. This is harmful to milk by reason of its smell and because it is a breeding place for flies, which are attracted by the milk and readily carry manure to it.This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, and I sincerely trust the Government proposes to deal with it. I should like to read an extract from a book entitled "The Health of the State," by Sir George Newman, the chief medical officer of the Board of Education, who has dope so much for the medical inspection and 1026 treatment of school children. Sir George Newman says:—An amendment of the law is required, and indeed, the entire problem would assume very different proportions if the present Dairy Order were properly and uniformly enforced instead of being allowed to be almost a dead letter.That is indeed a very serious condemnation. I would quote also the report of Dr. Eastwood, who is on the scientific staff of the Local Government Board. He carried out researches into the relative incidence of tuberculosis, human and bovine, in children. His researches indicated the danger of cow's milk as a source of tuberculosis in children. While I was reading Dr. Eastwood's report and the account of his researches, I was surprised to find that he only inquired into the incidence of tuberculosis among children of two years of age and upwards. I think his inquiries were limited to the causes of death in children between the ages of two and ten. We know that milk forms the staple diet of children, and I, for one, certainly cannot imagine why the Local Government Board made this limitation and restriction, and why they did not investigate the causes of diseases in children of two years and under. I hope they will consider it in the future spending of their money on research.
I would also quote from the investigations carried out by the eminent surgeon, Mr. Stiles, in Edinburgh. In one report, published in 1912, he refers to non-pulmonary tuberculosis among children. He quotes the cases of seventy children investigated of which thirty-nine were suffering from joint disease and thirty-one were suffering from bone disease—tuberculous in both cases. Out of these seventy children he found that the infection of forty-one was due to the bovine bacillus. Ho proved that in forty-one cases out of these seventy the milk supply had been the cause of the disease. He also found—a most interesting fact—that all the diseased children under one year of age whom he examined were suffering from bovine tuberculosis—that is to say, during the milk-drinking period. More recently he has carried out, in connection with the help of Dr. Mitchell, an investigation into the cause of cervical glands. He finds in those cases that 90 per cent. of the children he has operated on for cervical glands were suffering from bovine tuberculosis. During his investigations he sent his workers to try and trace the source of the milk which these children had been drinking. I would only quote What he found on one particular farm. 1027 He found a cow so advanced with disease that she could not stand up, and had actually been milked lying down on the ground, yet the milk from that cow was being sold in Edinburgh. Surely, when we have all this accumulated evidence, the Government and everyone must realise that fresh legislation is necessary! Milk which cripples children, which produces joint tuberculosis and cervical glands, whatever price it is sold at, cannot possibly be described as cheap milk. We know that in London 10 per cent. of the milk is tuberculous. Every ten days people who drink milk drink tuberculous milk. Out of every ten glasses of milk which we drink one glass is tuberculous. How can anyone stand up and say that willingly and voluntarily and knowingly he will give a glass of tuberculous milk to his children every ten days? You only have to put the proposition to see that it is absolutely indefensible. Mr. Stiles' recent investigation showed that in Edinburgh 20 per cent. of the milk was tuberculous.
Our legislation which affects milk is antiquated. It was not introduced to deal with milk. The laws were passed to deal with the sale of food and drugs or to prevent infectious diseases, and incidentally milk was dealt with. What we want now is a Milk Bill to deal with milk as milk, and not the prevention of infectious disease. One of the great difficulties at present, that farmers have to contend with is that in different districts they have different regulations, and the poor farmer does not know what particular regulation he has to bear in mind. We want uniform legislation and regulations throughout the country. I have been rather amazed that during the last few days, when it was known that I was going to deal with milk, people said, "I suppose you are going to ruin farming and to attack the dairying industry." It is the very last thing which I want to do. I believe that if we produce pure milk, if we have sound legislation, we are going to help the farming industry and the dairying industry. I certainly think it is absolutely essential that we should do that. I would like to quote the result of the very stringent administration and legislation in connection with milk in New York. The consumption of milk in New York has increased enormously as the result of this stringent milk legislation. If you take the figures of the consumption of milk per 1028 head now, and compare it with the consumption per head some ten or twelve years ago, there is now 40 per cent. more milk being drunk in New York, where there has been this stringent legislation, than used to be the case. They have educated the public as to the nutritive value of milk and made the public realise that if they want to buy pure milk they can get it, and that there will be a State guarantee that when they buy what they think is pure milk they are not, as a matter of fact, buying diseased milk or milk of an inferior quality. I believe this is largely responsible for the increased amount of milk which has been drunk there. I do not wish to do anything to injure agriculture or dairying. I think it is most important nowadays to try to increase the number of people connected with agriculture and with dairying, and we should be most careful in the legislation that we propose to see that we encourage agriculture and dairying, and not hinder it, harass it, and destroy it.
In addition to that, we have a very great responsibility to the poor mothers who have to work for their living. At present a large number of these women, before and after confinement, have to go out and earn their living. They are not able to give their children their natural food. Surely, the least we can do is to see that the cow's milk which they have to give is safe and is not diseased, and so protect the rising generation. The problem we have before us is how to improve the milk supply generally without unduly raising the price and without diminishing the supply. There are great difficulties. I referred just now to the vested interests, but I said, and I repeat, that I believe the greatest difficulty that we have to contend against is the ignorance and prejudice of the public. If the public realise the value of pure milk, if they decide that they are going to have pure milk, they will have it and at a reasonable price. I welcome this opportunity of ventilating the various aspects connected with the milk question in order that we may help to bring this most important and vital question before the public at large. The remedy is, first of all, uniformity of legislation and administration and improved legislative and administrative machinery, and, secondly, and this is a very important point, that the milk suppliers and producers should have renewable licences, not that we should put them on a register, and, whatever they do, leave them on the register. Everyone who sells milk ought to have a renew 1029 able licence, and if he sells milk under a false or inaccurate description, there should be an opportunity of removing his licence. I do not wish to suggest that you should say that no one should sell tuberculous milk. It would be impossible. That would stop the milk trade. But milk sellers should not be able to sell their milk under any inaccurate description, as is very often done at present. I think any legislation or administration which is suggested must have as its corner-stone the intention of the Local Government Board to classify the milk according to its quality in the same way as at present butter and cream are graded and labelled. That is the whole trend of legislation at present, and also in the past. Not that you should say to the seller, "You shall not sell this sort of milk or butter, but what you sell must have an accurate description of what it is as a matter of fact."
In connection with the grading of milk, I wish to say a few words about the way milk deteriorates. Milk deteriorates if it is dirty, or if it is not kept cool, or if it is old. If milk is dirty or old or not kept properly cool you will find a large number of bacteria growing in it. That is to say, if we find milk with a large number of bacteria per cubic centimetre we have an absolutely scientific proof that it is either dirty or old or has not been properly looked after since it left the cow. That is to say, if you find an unduly large proportion of bacteria in milk, that milk is on the high road to putrifaction. It is the best test of the condition of the milk. It is an absolute index to its condition. If we find milk with a low bacterial count, milk containing few bacteria, we know that that is clean milk which has been properly looked after since it was brought from the cow. It is fresh milk. How can milk become dirty? It can become dirty either in the shop, in the home of the consumer, in transit, or on the farm. These are the different places at which it can become dirty, and I shall deal only with milk at the farm. It can become dirty there by the addition of manure from the tail of the cow, or through the pail used for milking not being properly cleansed and sterilised, or its not being up to date in shape. I discussed this matter with an expert recently, and he described the pail used for milking as absolutely prehistoric. He referred to the milk-bucket, which is large and open at the top. He said that if you have an enclosed pail, with only a small 1030 opening at the side through which the milk can be drawn, you can guarantee to keep out a large amount of matter which now gets into milk. The milk also becomes dirty at the farm if it is kept in an exposed place. I heard of a visit paid to a dairy which was fitted up with white marble and tiles, but the visitor found dust blowing in at the open window and settling into the milk. That is an unscientific method of keeping milk. It can also become dirty at the source of origin if the hands of the milker are not properly clean.
The same cow can be milked in two different ways, so as to give two different sorts of milk. I proved that the other day in my own dairy. I had a sample analysed, and we found that the bacteria in it amounted to 6,000 per cubic centimetre, which, I am glad to say, showed that the milk had been properly cared for. Next day we made the milker take additional precautions under our supervision. He also gave up the prehistoric bucket and used the better and more modern type of vessel. The experiment was carried out with the same milker, in the same building, and with the same cows. I had the milk analysed at the Lister Institute. While the first specimen showed, as I have said, 6,000 bacteria per cubic centimetre, the second showed only a bacterial count of 500. The Chief Secretary for Ireland the other day told a story of the way in which farmers looked down upon education. He quoted a farmer as saying that he preferred muck to mind. In agriculture muck may be more desirable than mind, but when we are dealing with milk we want more mind in the milking and less manure in the milk. I think it is an extraordinary state of affairs that there should be a greater penalty for milk adulterated with pure water than for milk contaminated with a liberal amount of dung and other dirt.
The next way in which milk is deteriorated is in connection with the temperature—that is to say, when it is not kept at a proper temperature—kept cool in transit and at the shop—it is deteriorated. I shall quote the result of experiments carried out to show the way bacteria increase with extraordinary rapidity in milk if kept at a high temperature. A specimen of milk was taken, it contained 3,000 bacteria per cubic centimetre. It was divided into, three parts and kept for twenty-four hours—one specimen at thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit freezing point, the second at sixty degrees, and the third at the 1031 temperature of blood, ninety-four degrees. The milk which was kept at freezing point, at the end of the twenty-four hours, had fewer bacteria than at the beginning of the experiment, the temperature had killed 600, and the bacterial count was only 2,400. In the case of the milk which was kept at sixty degrees, and which started with 3,000, the bacterial count had increased to 450,000. The milk which was kept at ninety-four degrees, having started with 3,000, finished up with 25,000,000. That shows the absolute importance of keeping your milk cool—cooling it immediately it is taken from the cow, and keeping it cool on the journey and in the shop.
I do not think that I need go into any elaborate argument as to the value of fresh milk. These three points—the dirt, the temperature at which the milk is kept, and the age of the milk—can be dealt with, without heavy expenditure on the part of the farmer. You can improve your milk when you have a clean milker, and you can send it fresher to market without any expenditure on bricks and mortar, or the pulling down of your byre. By a little better method, and by being up to date, you can improve the quality of the milk.
Now as to grading, at present you buy new laid eggs, fresh eggs, or eggs without any adjective. That is a voluntary classification of eggs. I would order a compulsory classification of the milk sold. I want the Government—I do not mean only the Whitehall Government, but municipalities throughout the country—to arrange for the classification of milk according to its quality. In order to explain what I have in my mind, I propose, by way of example, to grade milk into three classes—A, B, and C. What I mean by A is the best sort of milk—the kind that you can give raw with absolute confidence to children, milk drawn from herds guaranteed free from tuberculosis, and with a low bacterial count. By grade B, I mean safe milk, which adults can drink with impunity, but which young children might not be able to drink with the same degree of safety. In this I include pasteurised milk. In Grade C I would put all milk which on its merits cannot qualify to be included in A or B.
The advantage of having your milk graded and classified in this way is that the public know what they buy. If they want the highest form of milk, they buy A. If they buy O they do it with their eyes open. People think at 1032 present in many instances that they are buying guaranteed milk, but there is no guarantee that the milk comes up to the description. The other day an analysis was carried out in the Lister Institute by Mr. Buckley of ordinary milk at 4d. quart and nursery milk at 6d. quart, both sold in the same shop. It was found the nursery milk at 6d. had twice as many bacteria as the ordinary milk at 4d. Under my classification it would be impossible for this to happen. It would be only possible to sell milk according to its certified quality. I was interested the other day to find out what kind of milk we had here in the House of Commons. I sent to the Lister Institute and got a sterile bottle. I came here and bought a specimen of milk. I took every precaution, and I sent it to the Institute for analysis. Now, the best class of milk in New York contains only 10,000 bacteria per cubic centimetre. I find that the specimens examined recently by Mr. Buckley ranged from several thousand to, I think, 8,000,000. But our milk in the House of Commons is of a rare and fruity vintage, for it contains 72,000,000 bacteria per centimetre. I took it straight down in just over an hour from the time that I bought it, and I did not expose it to the sun. I trust that every specimen here will not register over 70,000,000 bacteria. I certainly wanted it to be a fair test, and I sent for this bottle and took every precaution which I could, but this shows that something ought to be done. If we in the House of Commons, who think that we are drinking pure milk when we are drinking milk with over 70,000,000 bacteria per cubic centimetre, would take up the matter, the present state of affairs would be improved. I believe that we like champagne which is of an old vintage, and port which is full-bodied, but everybody who likes to drink milk likes fresh milk, and I hope that the Kitchen Committee, or whoever is responsible, will look into this and will find out whether these 70,000,000 bacteria are due to the milk being old or dirty, or having been kept too hot instead of being kept quite cold.
Another advantage of grading milk is that it helps the farming industry. The good farmer is rewarded. The farmer producing the best class of milk and qualifying for selling the high grade A is compensated for having a tubercle-free herd by the better price which he gets. You reward the farming industry and you encourage the dairy industry also. It is also a great help to the farmer. It shows him what sort of 1033 milk he is producing. It helps him to find out where he is wrong. If he finds that, instead of producing the clean milk which he thinks he is producing, he is producing milk with a large number of bacteria, he realises that something must be done lie probably finds that his milkers are milking with dirty hands, or with a liberal supply of dung spattered over the sides of the cow. It would be the greatest help to the farming industry. It would also help the good shopkeepers. It would certainly prevent the bad shopkeeper from selling milk under a false description.
Another great advantage is that it is not compulsory. The only compulsory thing which I suggest is the classification. I am not ruling out any sort of milk, but merely saying that milk should be classified, so that people buying milk may know what it is they are paying for. I believe that the educational value of classifying and grading milk would be enormous. If people see two grades of milk, A at 6d., and C at 4d., and they know that A is free from disease and that C may or may not have disease a large number of people will ask for pure milk. They will demand the best milk and the milk supply would be improved through the whole country. One of the arguments which I have heard used against the classifying and grading of milk is that it would five pure milk to the rich and would not help the poor. The grading of milk as suggested would not take away from the poor anything which they are now getting. We only propose to label the milk according to quality. We are not proposing to raise the price of the milk as alleged. We want to reward the good farmer who produces the best sort of milk, I believe that the general tendency will be to raise the quality and grading of milk, because we are not going to be satisfied with grade C, but are going gradually to improve the whole milk supply of the country. In New York they have, I will not say this exact classification, but they have had a generally similar classification, and the results have been most satisfactory. More and more milk of grades A and B is being consumed, and little by little the standard of purity has been raised because of the educational value of classifying milk according to its quality.
I referred just now to the pasteurisation of milk. Milk boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Roughly, milk is pasteurised when we raise the temperature to 140 degrees, for, I think, half an hour. The 1034 effect of pasteurising milk is to kill the disease germs, but while you kill the germs of disease, you do not destroy the flavour of milk the same as you do in boiling. Also you do not destroy the vital quality in the milk, which cannot be described but which we know exists in raw milk. It is not the same as boiling milk. But to pasteurise milk you must have Government inspection and certificates. It must be done under the supervision of the Government. The plant must be efficient, and must be passed, and the date of pasteurisation must be put upon every bottle. If you do not do that, if you allow pasteurisation of milk without supervision, you merely allow the unscrupulous milk dealer to partly pasteurise his milk and keep it for a longer time than he would otherwise do. It is absolutely essential that the date of pasteurisation should be put on every bottle. If that is done, as it is done in New York, you will find that the pasteurised milk is drunk within twenty-four hours, the same as raw milk would be, and therefore the unscrupulous dealer is not able to keep the milk for four or five days, which we are sometimes told he might do.
I know that there is a certain amount of objection to pasteurising milk. You will always find some people opposed to everything you suggest, however good it may be. There were exactly the same objections in America, and there were the same objections in Germany and France, but they went ahead in New York, and the opposition has now died down and the milk is more and more being pasteurised, because the health authorities realise that pasteurised milk is safe milk. Take the case of France, take the gouttes de lait, where pasteurised milk is distributed to children. It is done also in a large number of countries. Although you find that some of the doctors object, a very large majority of the medical profession and of scientists who have studied the subject say that pasteurisation does not kill the vital element in milk, and that it does make a harmless fluid which can be given with absolute confidence to children. There is a place called Randall Island, in New York, where foundling children are put. The mortality among infants in summer ranged, I think, about 40 per cent.—that was the general average over three years. Pasteurised milk was introduced, but no other change was made in their diet or in the hygiene of the establishment. For the next three years the mortality dropped to 1035 20 per cent. about half the number of deaths, and the authorities believe that this was entirely due to the use of pasteurised milk. I am quoting figures for three years, and not merely for one year. We are told that the danger of tuberculous milk is exaggerated. My hon. Friend here cheers that statement. But that depends exactly on what you have in mind when you refer to the danger of tuberculous milk. If you refer to the danger to adults, then very possibly it is exaggerated. Tuberculous milk does not cause a large number of cases of pulmonary tuberculosis in adults, otherwise, as the right hon. Gentleman says, we should all he dead. But what about the children? You may exaggerate the danger to adults, but it is difficult to exaggerate it with regard to children if you give them tuberculous milk. Mr. Stiles, the surgeon in Edinburgh, has proved that 90 per cent. of his tuberculous glands are due to bovine infection. I would ask any hon. Member who has any doubt about the danger of giving tuberculosis to children through milk to go to one of the great hospitals where crippled children are being dealt with. He will there see at a glance that this matter is one which ought to be dealt with by the Government, and will realise that it is impossible to exaggerate the danger to children in giving them tuberculous milk. Now we are told that tuberculous milk produces immunity—that it immunises the individual who drinks that tuberculous milk, and that he acquires a sort of immunity by an unscientific inoculation. You can make out a plausible case, but what an unscientific way to acquire immunity. If you want to give immunity to children by supplying them with tuberculous milk, at least make your own mixture, put in the bacilli yourself and know the amount of the dose you are giving. A certain number of people may have acquired immunity by drinking tuberculous milk, but we know that a number of people who took too much are now dead, and cannot testify as to the danger of that milk. The Departmental Committee on Tuberculosis, which included many of the Government experts, the medical officer of the Local Government Board, the medical officer of the Board of Education, the medical officers from Scotland and Ireland, and other distinguished gentlemen, reported as follows:—The Committee considered the evidence convincing that children are infected from tuberculous milk.1036 They did not say that tuberculous milk is good and valuable because it immunises the children against attack. They did not emphasise that point, but they emphasised the danger of giving tuberculous milk to children. I, therefore, hope that we will not hear much more about the value of immunisation by the drinking of tuberculous milk. My hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Hills) who seconds this Motion, is going to deal with the question of machinery, and I will only say very generally that the administration must be uniform, and that the regulations which may be passed must apply to the country as a whole. The grading of the milk would provide a standard on which the health authorities could frame their regulations.
I sincerely trust that there will be an efficient central control included in the Milk Bill which is shortly to be introduced by the right hon. Gentleman. There must be central control just as there must be local administration As to local administration, I only say that I hope the larger authorities will be employed and not the smaller authorities. I would emphasise the value of obtaining central control by use of Grants-in-Aid. I feel that I must apologise to the House for having spoken at such length, but I do not apologise for having raised this subject, which is a most important one. We are at the present moment, because of our social and economic system, depriving a large number of children of their natural food. Mothers are not able to suckle their children, they have to be out earning their living, and at the present moment we find that a large number of children are deprived of their natural food. The least we can do is to see that the alternative, cow's milk, which is given to them, is safe. It is to our interest to build up a healthy race, and to see that children have the chance of a fair start in life. We do not want to run the risk of producing crippled children that will afterwards bear the scars given to them in their tender years because of the drinking of tuberculous milk. We must see to it, that we look ahead and make certain that the milk which should give nourishment to children does not instead give them disease and even death.
§ Mr. HILLS
I beg to second the Motion.
My hon. Friend, who has a life experience of this question, and who takes a deep interest in it, dealt so fully with the general aspects of the milk problem, that 1037 I intend to confine myself to questions of machinery only. Nobody who has listened to my hon. Friend's speech can be satisfied with things as they are, and the fact that we find in the milk which is supplied here 72,000,000 bacteria to 1–28th of an ounce cannot be regarded as satisfactory, and if it proves anything it only proves the strength of political digestions. Anybody who tries to find from the numerous Acts of Parliament and private Acts what our milk laws are sets out on a very difficult task. If I summarise that quite shortly, present legislation is under four heads. In the first place, you have certain laws for the registration and regulation of dairies; and dairies are registered and regulated under the Diseases of Animals Act and under numerous private Acts of Parliament, but chiefly under what are known as the Model Milk Clauses, which were issued in 1899, and which have been incorporated in many private Acts. Those laws are permissive only; they are not compulsory, and they are antiquated and ineffective to a degree. Anybody who reads that and then turns to the really up-to-date milk code, as in New York, blushes for his country.
The next part of the regulations are the laws that provide for the condemnation of milk which is diseased milk. Under the Infectious Diseases Prevention Act and the Public Health Act, various powers were given to the local authorities to inspect farms, to condemn diseased milk, and to prevent the supply of diseased milk. The third class of laws are those which deal with impurity. Those only deal with the chemical purity and composition of milk, and do not deal with its bacteria bearing capacity. You can seize milk and condemn it because it is deficient in cream or in solids, but I think we all know that these provisions are very ineffective. They do not prevent the adulteration of milk. Convictions are hard to obtain and the Acts in a great many parts are largely a dead letter. The fourth class of regulation is the Tuberculosis Order of 1913, under which the local authority must be notified by the farmers where tuberculosis appears in the cow, and the local authority have power to inspect and to condemn, and where the beasts are condemned and slaughtered one-fourth of the value is paid to the farmer if the case is an advanced one, and three-fourths in mild cases. A sum of £60,000 has been provided for these payments, and £20,000 last year. All those 1038 regulations are very ineffective and antiquated and are permissive only. Only 102 local authorities adopted the Model Milk Clauses, and only 315 employ inspectors to inspect the cows. So that only a very small part of the country deals with the matter at all, and that very ineffectively. There is no proper examination of milk for bacteria, and no classification of the milk which is sold in shops, such as nursery milk, children's milk, or invalid milk, and you have no guarantee that the milk is pure.
What we propose is that there should be a dual system of classification of the shops that sell milk, and an examination of the dairies that supply milk, and those two should go together and work hand in hand. In the first place, you separate your milk into three classes. The first class, or the best milk, which is free from tubercle, comes from a dairy which has got a good scoring card. I hold in my hand a scoring card issued by the city of New York, which marks the dairy according to the goodness or badness of the equipment and method of that dairy. A hundred marks are given altogether, of which forty are given for equipment, and sixty are given for method. The forty for equipment are for such as air-space, ventilation, drainage, flooring, windows, ceiling, and so on, and the marks for method are given for the clean condition of the cows, the washing of the milkers, the straining of the milk, freedom from dirt in the milk house, and so on. The only milk that can be sold as grade A, besides being free from tubercle, must come from a dairy which gains 75 out of 100 on this scoring card. Of those marks it must gain 25 for equipment and 50 for method, so that you have a double test. First of all, a licence is issued, and it can be withdrawn, and you can call at a shop and examine specimens as often as you like. Then you have the fact that the milk comes from dairies which possess a high scoring card. That is the best milk, which is the milk for children. Your next milk is your B grade, which either is sold raw or is pasteurised, and if sold raw must come from a farm with 68 out of 100 marks on its scoring card, and if pasteurised must come from a farm with 60 per 100 on its scoring card. In both those cases your grade B milk is fairly safe milk for grownup people. Your last grade, C milk, is without any guarantee at all.
Let the House observe that the shops which sell A, B or C milk must so notify 1039 outside in the clearest way which class they sell, so that each person going there will know. The milk is also sold in special bottles with special coloured labels, and all effort is made to inform the public what class of milk they are buying. If they choose to go and buy cheap milk of the low grade, you cannot prevent them, but you let them know what it is. It is important to remark, since the system has been introduced, at first the people rather tended to buy the lower grade milk, but since then there has been an increase in the consumption of the higher grades A and B. This system is no new thing. Five years ago the Local Government Board sent Dr. Eastwood to New York to inquire. He reported in 1909 and recommended this system. We have seen his Report, but we have not seen any legislation. The advantage of grading is that it does not interfere with the farmer. You do not go to the farmer and say, "You must not sell this, or do that or the other." You say to him, "If you have a good dairy and keep it clean and your workers clean, you can sell grade A milk, but if you choose you can sell B or C." An inducement is held out and not prohibition, and so you do not annoy or hurt the farmer, and you do not diminish the supply, because all the milk lie can sell under one count or another.
Lastly, you do not increase the cost of the milk, because your grade C is just as cheap as before. For all those reasons it is by far the best way of dealing with the milk problem. There is only one more point, and that is when you come to administer your law you must go to the local authority. I do earnestly ask the Government to work through the larger and not the smaller authority. The Milk Bill of last year proceeds on the system of working through the local sanitary authority, who are the urban and rural district council. They must be small bodies. Work through the county councils or the county borough councils. We all know the faults of small bodies. We cannot expect really good administration except from the larger bodies. The effect of pure milk has been shown in a very remarkable way in New-York. In 1910 they started milk stations for children, where milk was sold under the control of the municipality. In 1910 the average death-rate per thousand children born was 149; after one year of these stations it fell to 125; in two years to 111; 1040 and in three years to 105. There you have a diminution in the death-rate per thou-, sand of nearly fifty in three years. Those figures speak for themselves, and I need not say anything more except that I am sure the House will be grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing forward this question and for the excellent speech which he has made.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
I do not rise with any desire to oppose this Motion, but I wish to utter a few words of caution on the question of milk legislation. Hon. Members who have listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Astor) must have wondered that any of us succeed in reaching maturity at all, or that any of us who drink milk are alive at the present time. I think that perhaps my hon. Friend takes a little too much for granted a question upon which I have always understood until recently there was considerable divergence of opinion, and that is, how far bovine tuberculosis is capable of being transmitted to human beings. I believe that the late Professor Koch was of opinion that it could not be so transmitted. I think, therefore, that we cannot believe that every one of the ills connected with tuberculosis of which we hear so frequently is really proved to come from bovine tuberculosis. Our knowledge with regard to bovine tuberculosis is in a very elementary state, or, at any rate, is not settled at all. There is the great question of how to test tuberculous cows. It is well known that some cows will react at certain periods and not at others. Very often a tuberculous cow will not react when tested at a certain time. It is, therefore, impossible to prove freedom from bovine tuberculosis in the case of certain animals. The question of the milk supply is largely a commercial question. Everybody interested in the milk supply from a farming point of view would welcome very heartily further milk legislation that would simplify the large number of existing laws. We want an end to be put to the constant attempts of various local authorities to produce their own separate forms of interference with the milk-producing industry.
One question about which you have to be very careful, and which is often not sufficiently considered by milk reformers, is how far, if you make your laws too stringent, you are going to limit the production of the real fresh article. By the aid of modern processes, we have various milk preparations—milk reduced to 1041 powder, or desiccated or condensed. The firms which makes these preparations take an enormous amount of fresh milk, and if you make your legislation too stringent, they will take a still larger proportion. I am confident that none of the desiccated milks or other forms of preserved milk, however good they may be, are really the same as the genuine fresh article. You must be careful in framing your legislation not to bring it to a point at which a greater amount of milk would be turned into these manufactured or partly manufactured products, and the supply of the genuine fresh article diminished. The proposals of my hon. Friends are largely in the direction of the classification of milk. This seems to me to present a great difficulty. If I understand the scheme aright, you are to have inspection of dairies and examination of shops. The shops of the milk seller are to be graded A, B, and C. I presume the shopkeeper is to have a licence, renewable at certain periods, and his milk will have to be tested to see that it comes up to the standard laid down. But, supposing that, through no fault of his own, a larger proportion of germs gets into his milk, which comes from a dairy having a first-class certificate, is the unfortunate shopkeeper, who cannot possibly know this, to have his license taken away, or to be fined? How are you going to settle where the responsibility lies? How are you going to prove whose fault it is, seeing the enormous number of hands through which the milk passes? Further, how is the milk seller to know whether or not the milk comes up to Standard A or B? It seems to me absolutely impossible. As my hon Friend said, there are only certain places where the number of germs can be counted. I suppose it takes a certain amount of time to test the number of germs. How is the unfortunate milk-seller to know whether the number is exceeded or not. The milk-producing community are most anxious to do all they can to improve the quality of the milk sold. There is an unanimous desire to get rid of avoidable uncleanliness.
When you come to the examination and classification of dairies you have another problem to deal with. In the county in which I live there is a large amount of open-air milking, especially in the summer. The milk-carts drive out with two or three milkers, and men and women sit down and milk the cows in the open field. How are you going to exercise any sort of supervision over that class of milk? It is impossible. 1042 Are you going to give a first-class certificate to any milk obtained by milking in the open air? How are you going to guarantee the cleanliness of the bucket or of the milkers themselves who have to go out a mile or two from the farm? It is a most difficult problem. To my mind the hon. Member very largely touched the root of the question when he said that pasteurisation is the secret of getting pure milk in this country. I think if you could set up pasteurising centres for the purification of milk, it would probably be a most admirable thing. Here, again, it is a matter of getting the milk into the centre where you could set up the necessary machinery for carrying out the pasteurisation. All of us who are interested in the milk trade will be very glad indeed, to see something done in the matter of legislation to simplify matters, and to inform us where we actually are in the matter of the milk laws, standards of cleanliness and purity, and so on, which the great majority of us want to keep up. These should not be unnecessary standards. They should be standards which we can as far as possible agree upon, because, remember, if you once begin to set up a standard which is unnecessarily high, you will find that when it comes to pulling down buildings and rebuilding cow-stalls that it would lead to a diminution of the supply. It is a commercial matter. If the profit you get from the milk trade will not allow you to replace your buildings, the land will be used in other directions than in the production of milk. It will be used for fattening cattle, and so on. You want to be very careful indeed when you are dealing with this question not to overlook the purely commercial side, and to see when you are trying to improve and to increase the supply of milk throughout the country that you do not enormously diminish that supply. It is very dangerous ground which you may have to tread, It is very desirable, if we are to have further legislation, that it should be carried out with real care and caution, and with a certainty, so far as possible, that you are not going to injure a trade which I believe most people desire to see carried on.
§ Mr. ALDEN
Though I do not agree with everything that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said, I quite agree that we ought to be careful in any legislation that is placed on the Statute Book to see that it does not bear too hardly upon those who are engaged in 1043 this important trade—to see that we do not strain to breaking point the commercial side of this question. I would just like, however, to disabuse the hon. Member, if I understood him aright, of the idea that tuberculosis cannot be spread by milk that is obtained from cows that are diseased. I understood the hon. Member to say that it was not proved. I think he will find, if he will consult the latest authorities, that it is proved to demonstration, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that tuberculosis can be spread, and is being spread, throughout the length and the breadth of the country by milk taken from cows which are infected. I did not listen to the whole of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who proposed this Motion, who takes such a warm interest in all these questions that appertain to the life of the working classes, but if I may run the risk of repeating figures that probably he used, I should like to give the House the very latest figures in regard to the number of cows that are regarded as diseased in this one respect.
According to the latest figures, there are 4,000,000 cows in the country. Two per cent. of these cows have tuberculosed udders. That means that all the milk obtained from these cows—and I believe we may reckon on the average about 420 gallons per annum from each cow—is either spreading the disease, or has the potentiality of spreading the disease.
Over thirty-three million gallons of infected milk is sold every year in this country. I would not like to say—for I am not a doctor—as to how much harm is done by this, but I do not think that anybody can deny who reads the reports of medical officers and others, and who studies the work of those men who have given special attention to this question, that an enormous amount of harm is done, especially to the child life of this country. A very large number of children never get milk at all, not only, I am sorry to say, in the towns, but in the country. On the other hand, where do they get milk in poor districts, in the East End of London, and in Greater London, it is of very poor quality, certainly the C quality to which the hon. Member referred. It is sold very often in shops that are not properly looked after or cared for, and where there is an enormous amount of dust and dirt. The result is that by our lack of methods of administration, and possibly by our lack of legislation, we are undoubtedly creating 1044 and perpetuating a very large amount of disease amongst the children of this country. I very warmly support the methods that have been suggested by the two hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have myself many times seen the methods in operation in the United States. There are towns there which have really gone one better than New York. I think Springfield, Massachusetts, has gone one better. The result is that in Springfield you not only get no decrease in the sale of milk, but you get an enormous increase in the sale of quality A milk. The town has improved in health, generally speaking; the death-rate has decreased, and infantile mortality has very largely decreased.
With regard to the suggestions of future legislation, to be as brief as possible, I will just quote what I think to be the most important matters on my note, and those with which I think hon. Members will agree. In the first instance, we ought to have veterinary inspection of all milch cows and the elimination of cows that have tuberculosed udders. Of course there is a great deal of tuberculosis in cows that is not dangerous from the standpoint at which we are looking at the matter—10 per cent., I think. Lest hon. Members opposite should think that I want to do the industry any harm if we eliminate cows with tuberculosed udders, we ought, in the first instance, to give compensation. If we take upon ourselves the responsibility of legislation, which I admit to be somewhat drastic, I think we ought to say to the farmer, "We will see that you do not lose by it, but we ask you to be as careful as possible in the future." There should be uniform regulations with regard to ventilation and cleanliness. I do not think that it is absolutely essential that those regulations should be so severe as to cripple the trade. Indeed, it is largely a matter of plenty of fresh air in the cowshed—plenty of whitewash, if you like! At any rate, it should be such cleanliness as is possible. It is really more a matter of care than anything. It is not a matter of an expensive cowshed, but of care and cleanliness. When the farmer really begins to understand that cleanliness means money to him, he will be much more careful than he is now. At present it does not make any difference to him. The methods suggested do mean money to him, just as they mean money to the shopkeeper.
The county council is the only authority so far as dairies and cowsheds are con- 1045 cerned that can properly carry out the regulations. Milk dispatched to a large town and sold in that town by a shopkeeper, should as speedily as possible be cooled; I am not prepared to say to what degree it should be cooled, I believe the suggestion is forty degrees Fahrenheit. It should be placed in locked churns, and not be interfered with, or tampered with, so that you are really able to say that the milk that arrives in town is as pure as it could be, and has not been interfered with in any respect. I think all the premises—and I am not quite sure that everyone will agree with me here—for the sale of and production and storage of milk, should be registered. I think milk dealers ought to be licensed. Of course, that is more or less the practice at the present time, but we should add to that and make of it a criminal offence to sell unclean milk, known to be unclean, as it is an offence to sell adulterated milk.
I hope I am not exaggerating the importance of this question, but surely it is more important that you should have your milk clean than pure in the sense of not being adulterated with water. Water will not do it any real harm. The milk will not be so useful to the child; but it is clearly more harmful to sell unclean milk than milk with water in it, and I say it ought to be a criminal offence to sell milk notoriously unclean. May I say here with regard to what the hon. Member opposite said as to its being difficult to test, I admit it would be if you had to test it in every individual instance, but the point is that the farmer, the dairyman, and the shopman would arrive at a certain standard, and that would be taken as granted afterwards, and these men would keep up to a certain quality and grade. You need not test the milk in every individual instance—that would be quite impossible—but if you found that men were taking all necessary precautions to produce pure milk, and to sell pure milk, it seems to me by thus securing a grade, and a method of grading and classifying, you could give the necessary permission to sell milk of a certain grade. I do not think the difficulties are so great as the hon. Member suggests, and at any rate it is quite clear that the hon. Member is interested in this question and wishes to safeguard the milk. I believe that is the wish of every hon. Member, and I do not believe that we shall get pure milk until we have fresh legislation and much more stringent administration of the law.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I want, with the leave of the House, for a short time to deal with the circumstances under which cream is sold at the present time. Cream has this distinction in its sale from milk, that the Local Government Board allows a certain amount of artificial preservative to be added to cream which they do not allow in the case of milk. The sale of cream is largely carried on by what they call the jug trade—that is, that cream being an expensive thing to buy, the farmer, in the first instance, supplies a email quantity, which is retailed often to the poor, for whom it is prescribed by doctors, and it can only be done in circumstances which render it possible to resell it at prices within the means of purchasers if some preservative is allowed to be added. I think I can show in the few words which I wish to address to the House that the present condition of the regulations issued, or rather which the Local Government Board has failed to issue, are such that the sale of cream at the present time is being carried on to the danger of the public and to the obvious injustice of the cream trade.
Let me tell the House shortly what the history of these regulations with reference to the sale of cream is. Preserved cream as such has been largely sold for about twenty years—and, indeed, since the use of boron as a preservative has been appreciated In 1901 a Departmental Committee of this House sat and took a vast amount of evidence, investigating the whole subject, and issued its recommendations, which were to the effect that although they recommended no preservative should be added in the case of milk, in the case of cream seventeen and a half grains to the pound of boron preservative might with safety be added. They also recommended that the Local Government Board should issue regulations to that effect. No regulations were issued and the trade were left in doubt, particularly after the somewhat conflicting evidence given before the Departmental Committee as to the amount of preservative that might safely be added to the cream. The next thing that happened was that in 1908 there was a case tried in the Courts in which the vendor of the cream had added 22 grains of boron to the cream. He was prosecuted on the recommendation of the Local Government Board officer, and the Courts, after taking a great amount of evidence, held that 22 grains might with safety be added for the consumption of 1047 adults, but that 22 grains was injurious to infants and invalids, and the Lord Chief Justice who tried the case recommended that in the future sales of cream there should be a statement added that the preserved cream contained the amount which the Courts then held to be a proper addition, and that it should not be used for infants or invalids, and for some time that recommendation was carried out by the trade. The next thing that happened was in the year 1909, when the Local Government Board, apparently having at last awakened to their responsibility in the matter, employed one of their very distinguished officers, Dr. Hamill, to investigate the whole question and to make a representation to them upon what amount of boron or other preservative might safely be added to cream. Hamill seems to have gone with great care into the question, and his conclusion is this. He says:—There appears to be no doubt that it is impracticable to carry on the jug-cream trade of the type already described without the use of some preservative. In France and Germany, where the use of preservatives in cream is prohibited, the jug-cream trade is nonexistent.He also says:—The 'indirect' cream trade based on boron preservatives has however become important in this country, and it is undoubtedly a convenience to the public.And then he gives the results of experiments he carried out, and he says that 17½ grains may be reasonably added in hot weather, and in cold weather the amount that may be added with safety to health is 28 grains. He actually says:—The experiments in the main bear out the contention of the traders as regards the necessity in the present condition of the trade for some preservative if the cream is to be kept for several days, and insufficiency of 0.25 per cent. for this purpose in hot weather..…He goes on to say:—There would however, appear to be in present circumstances some rounds for an extension of this limit during the hotter months of the year. Ample margin would be given if a concession of 0.4 per cent. were granted during the months of May to October inclusive.That report was made by Dr. Hamill to the Local Government Board, and it was circulated by them to all the local authorities in the country to all the medical officers of health, and to the trade generally, and was not unnaturally looked upon by the trade and by the medical officers of health as containing the standard which was to be their guide in the future. That was in 1908. The next thing that happened was that the case came before the Courts in 1909. In that case the trader had added 1048 22 grains, and had added the same in the month of June during the period covered by Dr. Hamill's recommendations, that twenty-eight grains might safely be added. I was engaged in that case, and it lasted many days. Distinguished experts were called on both sides, courageous scientists were called on one side, who said that that very morning they had imbibed in their cream a mass of boric acid largely in excess of that tolerated by Dr. Hamill, and their intellects remained unimpaired. Other distinguished scientists were called on the other side, who said it would for ever remain a matter of speculative science why the gentlemen who had just been in the witness-box had not died a painful and premature death from the cream they had consumed. The case assumed an enormous and an expensive course, with the result that in the end the Court upheld the conviction, and the man was fined for having added 22 grains during the period covered by Dr. Hamill's recommendation that he might, with safety to himself and the public, add 28 grains.
It is not to be wondered at that under that condition of things the trade was in some doubt as to what they should do in the future, and, consequently, Regulations were issued in 1912 by the Local Government Board after all these years, having waited from 1901 until the Departmental Committee had sat and recommended, until 1912, and at last the mountain brought forth certainly a mouse, because the Regulations which were issued are interesting, but are absolutely upon the one vital point. The recommendations which were issued say in terms that a preservative may be added to cream. They state what the preservatives are, namely, boric acid, borax, or a mixture of those preservative substances, or hydrogen-peroxide, in any case in which the cream is intended for human consumption. And they are good enough to append to the Regulations a draft of the label which is in the future to be affixed to all cream sold containing preservatives. They properly determine that no preserved cream is to be sold in the future, except as being preserved cream, and they prescribe the label to be affixed to preserved cream in the future. This is the label:—Preserved cream containing boric acid not exceeding… per cent.Therefore the position of the trader at the present time is that the Departmental Committee has told him that he may add 1049 17½ per cent. A case in the High Court, tried by the Lord Chief Justice, has recognised the validity for adults of 22 per cent. Board of Trade Regulations are issued saying that he may add something providing that he states on the bottle what he is adding, and leaving it to him to state how much he has added. That would be a consolation but for the fact which I was fortunate enough to elicit the other day in answer to a question which I put to the President of the Local Government Board. I asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would inform me the number of prosecutions which had taken place against I forget how many vendors, who had been convicted since 1900 for selling cream with an added preservative, and what in each case was held to be legal. The answer given contains the somewhat startling fact to the members of the cream trade that in twenty-one cases vendors of cream have been prosecuted and convicted for adding less than 25, that is, 17½ grains per cent. of boric acid, that being the amount the Departmental Committee recommended in 1901, so that the unfortunate people who had read the Report of the Departmental Committee in 1901, and had acted upon it, find themselves now prosecuted and convicted for having broken the law. Really it is adding a new terror to the procedure of this House if a Departmental Committee is, after taking evidence, to make recommendations and those who carry them out are to find themselves liable to be prosecuted for doing so. The result of the whole matter is that at the present time the vendors of cream have no idea what they are to add. They know that they are allowed to add something, and the law imposes upon them the duty of stating on the face of that which they sell what is the amount of preservative it contains. If they carry out the recommendation of the Departmental Committee they are liable to be prosecuted. If they carry out the recommendations of Dr. Hamill to the Board of Trade, which was circulated for their guidance and information, they would certainly be prosecuted, because it is higher than the amount recommended by the Departmental Committee, and in this way they are harassed by legislation and prosecutions. One medical officer takes one view and another medical officer a totally different view. One medical officer of health thinks that 22 per cent. is a salubrious and healthy condition for cream to be nutritive in the extreme, And says that such cream does a good deal 1050 of good. Another medical officer of health thinks the same is poisonous, and should be put down at once by prosecution, and the unfortunate member of the trade is left to determine for himself, without the least help or guidance from the Department which has invited this Report, which has circulated it, and which contains the recommendations of the Departmental Committee, a Department which, since 1901, has totally neglected to give effect to any of them. Let me read the opinion which a magistrate gave the other day. It is the opinion of one of the Metropolitan police magistrates, who are continually having these questions brought before them. He says:—I hope the application to the Board of Agriculture will lead to something being done, so that the traders may know what position they stand in.I wish to point out that under the Food and Drugs Act of 1899 the Board of Agriculture have the power to make the rules for which we are asking, and to define what is the amount of preservative which may legitimately be added to cream. In the interests of the public who consume the cream, and in the interests of the traders themselves, I say that these Regulations are long overdue, and I ask the President of the Local Government Board to tell us when he will pass them or bring pressure to bear upon the proper Department to let the facts be known, and this soon, so that the trade may know what they may add, and in order that the public may know what they are buying.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARRY HOPE
There will be general agreement in the House and also in the country that this subject is one of very great importance, and when we recognise the importance of it I think we shall see that there is proof and need for legislative action; but it is all important that we should act upon prudent lines. It is all right to see the consumer is properly protected and safeguarded. That, by all means, is the first consideration, but after that we want to ensure that there will be nothing done which is impracticable, or which will unnecessarily harass the farmer or vendor. The milk industry is carried on under many difficulties. I do not think that there is any class of British farmers who earn their money harder than the dairy farmers of this country. Therefore nothing should be done by Parliament to make their lot more difficult, or to drive them out of their business. The farmers of this country quite frankly admit as reasonable that our milk supply 1051 should come from healthy cows, from cows clean from any tuberculous disease of the udder; secondly, that those cows should be housed in sanitary cowsheds, and that the milk should be handled in proper dairy premises, with ventilation, drainage and everything else in a proper condition; and, thirdly, that the persons who handle the milk and the cows should be persons whom we know and are confident we know to be free from any infectious disease, and persons in a healthy condition. With those three main provisions, I think that it is possible to draft legislation of a practical nature, which will ensure the people of this country getting healthy milk. We have heard it said—I think the Mover of the Resolution referred to it—that a great deal of disease was actually going into the milk from the cows, but there are other sources from which disease can get into the milk. It can get into the milk in transit, either on the railways or in our streets. Therefore, if there were a more general sale of milk in sealed bottles, bottles which were made up in the dairy, there would be less chance of contamination. The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. P. Alden) has referred to what is done in New York. There are three grades of milk sold in that city. He referred to grade 1, which is extra good, then to grade 2, and then to grade 3, which I presume is rather bad. I do not think that any people in this country should be inflicted with bad milk. The children of the poorer classes are as entitled to get milk from healthy cows, handled under sanitary conditions, as the children of any other class of the country. Therefore, this House should do nothing which would in any way encourage or permit a class of milk which cannot be called good milk being sold to our consumers. With those three provisions which I have enumerated, I have no doubt that prudent legislation of a practical nature can be drafted, which would be a protection to our consumers, and yet not hamper and harass a trade which should be encouraged and helped to increase the quantity and quality of the milk being produced.
§ Mr. JAMES MASON
I am fully in sympathy with the wording of the Resolution before the House, but the suggestions which I should like to make differ somewhat fundamentally from those which have been urged by my two hon. Friends. I may say that, if those suggestions are 1052 somewhat drastic, they at least have the merit of being based on my own personal experience during the last ten years. Previous Bills which have been before the House in recent years have failed really to go to the root of the difficulty, because they have only attempted to deal with cases of somewhat advanced disease, and therefore cases where considerable harm may already have been done. Another disadvantage has been that in such cases of advanced disease there were questions of very considerable compensation, which, of course, meant a very large expense to the public in compensating the farmer, somewhat inadequately, for his loss. Before I go on to the main point of my argument, I must say a word or two with regard to the question of bovine and human tuberculosis, because I know that there is a very considerable amount of opinion—it has already been expressed by one of my hon. Friends this evening—that there is some doubt as to the action of bovine bacillus on human beings. I believe my hon. Friend the Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. C. Bathurst) is also of opinion that bovine bacillus is not dangerous to human beings. In a report which was recently issued by Dr. Sims Woodhead, who was a member of the British Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, he gives the result of his investigations, not officially as a member of that body, but taking advantage, notwithstanding, of the information which he derived by sitting on that Commission. He states that of twenty-nine cases of primary abdominal tuberculosis, fourteen yielded bovine bacilli only and thirteen human bacilli only, whilst in two cases both types of bacilli were demonstrated and separated. Of the fourteen cases containing bovine bacilli only ten were children between one and three years of age, three between four and five years of age, and one eight years of age; and of the fourteen cases six died from generalised tuberculosis, which, I think, shows that in the case, at least, of children and of abdominal tuberculosis there is no doubt whatever that the origin is bovine. If that be granted, surely our object should be, if possible, to endeavour gradually to extirpate this disease of tuberculosis from cattle in general.
I admit that sounds a very large proposition. But then tuberculosis does not seem to exist in a large degree among cattle until they have been brought into buildings. If you examine the greater 1053 number of young cattle in the country, living in the open air, you will find a comparatively small percentage suffering from this disease. Out of ninety-nine young animals which I had examined by the tuberculin test, only six reacted, this showing a satisfactory condition among young animals which had not been brought into buildings. Our object should be to endeavour to produce clean herds of cattle—herds free from disease—and I believe this can only be done satisfactorily by detecting the disease in its incipient stages, and not waiting until it has become aggravated. That should be followed up by segregating animals which are proved to be either doubtful or slightly diseased, and turning them to some useful account, rather than destroying them, which is extremely expensive. Thirdly, in the case of doubtful animals, while in milk, their milk should be turned to use, either being pasteurised or used for feeding calves or pigs. With regard to the experience on which I base these suggestions, a herd of cows which I became possessed of some ten years ago, I found to be tuberculous to a very high degree, and I determined to put this plan into experimental operation. They were all examined, and those who were not tuberculous were tested by the tuberculin test. They were then divided into three classes. Those in an advanced stage of the disease were destroyed. The second class, which were proved by the tests either to be suspicious, or to be in the primary stages of the disease, were segregated together, and were turned to the best account to which they could be turned. Some were turned into beef, and the milk obtained from others was fed to animals. The third class were those which passed the test and were proved to be sound. There were only thirteen animals which passed the test, and they became the nucleus of the herd.
This took place in 1904. Of the thirteen animals which passed the test, three reacted later during 1905–6, and were drafted out. After having passed the test once, they were still found to be diseased. On the other hand, since that date I have introduced ninety-nine animals from outside. I did not actually introduce the ninety-nine, but that number went through the examination. Six reacted, and the other ninety-three were introduced, and only one of these has since been found to be tuberculous. These animals—the original thirteen and the ninety-three—have been kept in a definite area, and no 1054 animals come into that area without passing through a quarantine, in which they stay two months, and are then examined under the tuberculin test. That seems to be rather an elaborate experiment, but, as a matter of fact, it is not an extremely costly process. It has this great advantage, that I have certainly got from this source a herd which is absolutely free from any tuberculosis whatever, and in it I have only had one case of tuberculosis since the year 1906. Obviously then, so long as that remains the condition of the herd of cattle, there is no cost except that of testing the cows twice a year, and that I need hardly say is a very much cheaper thing than constantly finding the cows affected with disease, and having to incur a total loss or paying compensation to the farmer.
I suggest therefore it should be taken into consideration whether, in the legislation which we understand is to be placed before this House shortly, it is worth while considering the possibility of some system, firstly, of testing the cows with a view to segregating those which are doubtful, or in the incipient stages of the disease from those which are quite healthy, and secondly, it would be necessary, and I admit at first it would be rather a big undertaking to set up some farm, either a State or a municipal farm, at which you can segregate animals which are drafted for reacting to the test. By segregating them on these farms, taking them over at the valuation of a comparatively damaged article, the loss would not be so great a would have to be paid if compensation were paid for a completely diseased animal. I think, therefore, even if such a system as public segregation farms were adopted, the result would be we should have the gradual extinction and elimination of the disease from the herds of the country, and we should get a result which would justify some considerable trouble and drastic treatment at the beginning, and would be fully warranted by the results to be anticipated. My only fear is that if the proposal forecasted in the Bill brought before this House during the last two years, is carried out, and we attempt to deal only with animals which are proved already to be diseased, we shall never advance towards the total elimination of the disease, and the very heavy expenses and losses occurred in the early future will be continued into the far future. I think, therefore, it would be unfortunate if that were accepted as a final settlement of this question.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
The hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Astor) who called the attention of the House to this Motion to-night has, I think, rendered very valuable service. He has directed our attention to a subject of the greatest importance, and has enabled us to obtain a guide to the feeling of the House, which will be invaluable when we come to consider these different proposals. I think it is agreed on all hands that milk does have a very direct connection with the spread of tuberculosis. There is no doubt whatever that non-pulmonary tuberculosis is very prevalent in children, and that there are many cases of hip disease, scrofula, and other diseases which are of a tuberculous character. Very many cases are fatal. In the latest year for which I have figures—1911—the number of cases of all kinds of tuberculosis among people of all ages in England and Wales was 53,000, but of these the number of cases of non-pulmonary tuberculosis among children under the age of fifteen years was no fewer than 13,000, or one-fourth of the whole. One-fourth of all the cases of tuberculosis in this country are eases of non-pulmonary tuberculosis among children. It seems absurd that when we are engaged in a great national campaign against tuberculosis, and are spending millions to deal with pulmonary tuberculosis, we should almost ignore one-fourth of the whole number of cases, namely, the cases of tuberculosis of a non pulmonary character among children. This House, of course, does not consist of experts in matters of diagnosis. Any Member of this House who is not a medical man would be very rash indeed to state on his own authority whether or not this disease is transmitted from cattle through milk. We must in that respect rely upon the best expert opinion, obtained after the most exhaustive inquiry. It is for this very purpose, for the guidance of the Legislature in matters such as these, that we do appoint our Royal Commissions and our Departmental Committees. As the question was thrown into doubt by the famous declaration of Dr. Koch, the last Government, in 1901, appointed a Royal Commission to examine this very question of the relation of human and bovine tuberculosis. After taking a wealth of evidence, and sitting for no fewer than six years, the Commission, which was a Commission of experts whose authority has been unchallenged, came to this conclusion:— 1056There can be no doubt but that in a certain number of cases tuberculosis occurring in the human subject, especially in children, is the direct result of the introduction into the human body of the bacillus of bovine tuberculosis; and there also can be no doubt that in the majority, at least, of these cases, the bacillus is introduced through cows' milk. Cows' milk containing bovine tubercle bacilli is clearly a cause of bovine tuberculosis and of fatal tuberculosis in man.They go on to say:—A very considerable amount of disease and loss of life, especially among the young, must be attributed to the consumption of cows' milk containing tubercle bacilli.That was the unanimous decision of the Royal Commission appointed to examine this very question after six years' investigation. There has since then—indeed, last year—been a further Report of the Departmental Committee on Tuberculosis, presided over by the hon. Member for Plymouth, which contained a large number of experts of the highest authority in this country on the subject, and they reported:—The Committee, having regard to the findings and reports of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis and to other investigations, are of opinion that the bacillus of bovine tuberculosis is a cause of tuberculosis in man and, to a greater extent, in children.They went on to say:—Tuberculosis, in one form or another, is widely prevalent among children, and the Committee consider the evidence convincing that children are infected through tuberculous milk, as well as from other sources.I submit that we cannot properly go behind these declarations. We must proceed from that starting point, that the bodies appointed to examine, for our information, this very subject, have come to these very definite and unanimous conclusions. It is also agreed on all hands that the present measures which are taken by the law and the administration of the law to stop these hundreds and thousands of deaths of children, especially from tuberculosis through milk, are quite inadequate. This death-rate continues, and the children are now dying. Week by week and month by month thousands more of them are suffering from hip disease, diseases of the glands, and other causes which we are told on the best authority are the result of taking tuberculous milk, and it is plain that it is the duty of the State to take these matters into account and to act effectively.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
There is very little foreign milk coming into this country. No precautions practically are taken with regard to tuberculosis. It is proposed in the Bill, which I shall introduce before long, that a Clause shall form part of it to the effect that the Local Government Board shall make regulations to apply to foreign imported milk, and these regulations will be on similar lines to the regulations which will apply to domestic milk. I quite agree with the hon. Member that it is essential that we should, as far as we are able, apply to foreign imported milk the same regulations as regards test and so forth that we apply to milk of domestic production. The Board of Agriculture has recently issued an Order enabling compensation to be paid to farmers for cattle which are slaughtered owing to their being found to be suffering from the more serious forms of tuberculosis, and so far, in about eight months, 4,000 cows have been slaughtered under this provision. But it has been represented by the agricultural community and recognised by the Board that the present form of Order is not quite adequate to meet the need, and I am able to inform the House that the Board is on the point of issuing an amended Order which will grant compensation on somewhat more generous terms, and also assist the local authorities with their expenses in the administration of this Order.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I do not think nearly all the Treasury Grant has so far been spent. Only a small proportion has been spent, but there will be better terms of compensation.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
To the local authorities, yes. You are dealing then with known cases of tuberculosis, which are easily detected on examination. You have to provide means of tracing back the tuberculous milk to the cow, because frequently the cow may give tuberculous milk and show no very obvious signs of disease or emaciation, and have no visible tuberculosis of the udder. There are at present most inadequate provisions for effecting this in a great number of cases, and it is necessary to amend the law in that regard. But tuberculosis is not the only disease, of course, which is transmitted by milk. It 1058 has long been recognised—and here the measures already taken by the law are much more adequate—that enteric fever, scarlet fever and diphtheria are communicated by milk, and in spite of the measures which are now taken, epidemics still continue to be caused by infected milk, and, on the average of the last ten years, every two months there is an epidemic somewhere in the country, large or small, of one of these diseases caused by infected milk.
A case was brought to me only recently which took place last October in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, where one cow was suffering from some gastric disease, and was almost dying, but was, nevertheless, as long as it was alive, milked, and the milk was sent into Newcastle, and it was ascertained in the inquiry that took place that more than 500 persons suffered serious illness from gastro-enteritis solely through taking milk infected by this one cow. The provision of milk of that character is a crime against society, and yet there is no adequate means under the present law of detecting and dealing effectively with such a case. Further, there is dirty milk sold which need not necessarily contain the bacilli of grave diseases, but which is undoubtedly detrimental to health. Dirty milk, it is believed, has a considerable bearing on infantile mortality. I am not sure that mere bacterial count is a conclusive guide as to the danger of milk, and I must say that my faith in that test was gravely shaken when the hon. Member (Mr. Astor) told us that we here in the House of Commons drink milk which contains 70,000,000 bacteria per cubic centimetre. If I drink 70,000,000 bacteria in my milk and suffer no bad effects, I am inclined to suspect that it does not matter very much whether there are 10,000,000, 70,000,000 or 100,000,000, provided they are bacteria of a friendly species. It depends on what your bacteria are. No doubt a high bacterial count may indicate that the milk is stale through being kept too long, or that it is dirty, and, other things being equal, that it is more likely to be deleterious than milk with a low bacterial count. But it does not follow if you take in 70,000,000 bacteria you will therefore be likely to contract grave diseases by that means.
The fact remains that the measures which have so far been taken to deal with the milk supply are totally inadequate to safeguard the public health. Our laws date back to a time before the importance of 1059 bacterial contamination was fully realised. We do, indeed, take the utmost pains to guarantee the purity of our water supply, and yet we allow our milk supply to go almost unprotected. Milk is an ideal medium for the cultivation of all kinds of bacteria. From the public health point of view, my Department hold the opinion that it is essential that further measures should be taken to safeguard the health of the community in this connection. Then there is the question of the adulteration of milk by the addition of water or skimmed milk. The law there is much more effective, but still it is also inadequate in that connection and needs strengthening. Unquestionably there is at the present day a very great deal of adulteration of milk which cannot be checked under the provisions of the existing law and its administration. I have made very full inquiry into this matter since I came into the office which I now hold, and I have been in communication with the various people concerned.
I find every interest anxious for legislation. It is a very remarkable thing that the communications which I have received begin by stating that the people concerned are very anxious to have a Milk Bill. Some of them vary in their views as to what the Bill should contain, but they all say that the present position is unsatisfactory and should be remedied. It may interest the House to know that during the last few years the bodies which have made representations to the Local Government Board asking for legislation on this subject include the County Councils Association, the Municipal Corporations Association, the Urban District Councils Association, the London County Council, almost all the county boroughs, many other individual local authorities, the Society of Medical Officers of Health, the Royal Sanitary Institution, the Association of Veterinary Officers of Health, the Sanitary Inspectors' Association, the National Union of Public Health Authorities, the Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture, the National Farmers' Union, a number of individual farmers' associations, the Metropolitan Dairymen's Society, the Dairy Traders' Protection Society, and many local dairymen's associations, the Dairy Farmers' Association, and many more.
That shows a great body of opinion which is united as to the necessity of a law being enacted by Parliament. This 1060 unanimity is due to various reasons. I find that the milk traders desire more and more stringent enforcement of the law against adulteration. They who are honest men, conducting their trade in a fair manner, feel that it is unfair that they should be exposed to the competition of other men who seek to undercut them and take away their business by adulterating their milk, and that the law is not sufficiently powerful to check that practice. Then they are also most anxious to maintain the reputation of their trade, to the service of which they devote their life's energy. They do not like to feel that milk should be under the stigma of being a carrier of disease. They want the commodity in which they deal day by day to be made as healthy as it can be made, and they would welcome any effective practical regulation which would enable them as individuals to be sure that the milk that reaches them, and which they sell, shall be pure and wholesome milk. Then the agriculturists are moved to a great extent by the same desire, so that the law shall secure a high standard for the article which they sell. They also object most strongly to the overlapping powers which at present exist in the hands of various authorities. They object to the medical department of some great borough coming down into their own agricultural districts and regulating their affairs for them. They want their own authorities to regulate in an effective way the manner in which the industry shall be carried on in these districts. Further, they object to the variety of the law.
It has been stated that about 100 of the boroughs have now obtained powers to enforce certain regulations for the protection of the members of the community from tuberculosis. Though these powers are not altogether effective they have been of some use. Other boroughs have not got them. The farmer sending milk to Bolton is or may be subject to certain regulations, certain inquiries, and inspection tests, and so forth. If he goes to Manchester he finds that the law is much more strict, and that he will have to observe an entirely different code of regulations, and be liable to other inspections, through sending his milk to another town, where the powers which are conferred by Parliament are different. The municipal corporations are dissatisfied because of the variety and confusion of the law, and also because, although these 100 boroughs have got these powers, no fresh 1061 boroughs can get powers, because the Parliamentary Committees have refused to grant powers to any boroughs pending the general legislation which is anticipated. This is a matter for the general law. It is not a matter for local legislation, and any Bill which is introduced should, in my opinion, supersede all these various codes which are now administered by the local authority, by the uniform provision of a general Statute. The hon. Member for Dorset asked us not to press too hardly on the farmer, or we may find that the natural milk will be replaced by condensed or desiccated milk. I think that there is much force in that argument.
But also we must remember that unless the people in the towns can be sure that the milk is pure and wholesome, they may be tempted to take condensed milk, which is produced in factories on a large scale, and on the wholesomeness of which they can have some reliance. How is it, with the case so ready for action, and with so many bodies combined to ask for legislation, that still nothing is done? My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, when he was at the Local Government Board, year after year brought in a Milk and Dairies Bill. It made no progress; it never even reached the Second Reading. The reason was that many hon. Members in different quarters of the House thought that the Bill contained some alarming provisions. They thought that the powers which were given to a Government Department, the Local Government Board, were too wide, and that heavy costs might be thrown on agriculturists through this measure. They were not sure how far the Bill would carry them if it were passed into law. The Clause dealing with warranty offences was much objected to by a large number of milk traders. I have had to take all those motives into account during the last two months, since I have held the present office. I have discussed this matter with fifteen deputations and conferences, and I have had the advice and the views of the interests concerned. The Bill which I hope to introduce very shortly will be a Bill modifying in many particulars every Bill previously before the House. The powers proposed to be conferred, and which we believe will be effective to secure the end in view, are very much more restricted and defined than in the previous Bills. Secondly, we propose that the matter of making the regulations 1062 should not rest with the Local Government Board alone, but that wherever those regulations touch the interests of the farmers, the concurrence—not merely consultation, but the concurrence—of the Board of Agriculture should be required, so that the Department specially charged with safeguarding the interests of agriculture should combine with the Department which is specially charged with the duty of protecting the public health to see that these regulations are of a reasonable character. I do not propose in my Bill to, adopt the suggestion thrown out to-night by the hon. Member who moved this Resolution, that all milk sellers should be licensed. I think it would be going unnecessarily far that they should have their licences forfeited for committing various offences, and that they should be more or less in the position of the licensed liquor trade. They must be registered in order that their premises may be inspected. I think, if any offence has been committed, and the milk is not what it should be, a man should be liable to penalties, the ordinary penalties; but I do not think that you should go so far as to stop a man conducting his business by taking away his licence. In regard to tuberculous milk, I propose to take full powers to trace back the milk to its source and to deal effectively with cows which have recently suffered from tuberculosis or which give tuberculous milk.
The suggestion of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. J. Mason), which has been made from his own experience as an agriculturist, is one which must have interested every Member of the House who heard him, and I have no doubt that in the long run it will be necessary somehow or other to eliminate tuberculosis from our herds. But we are necessarily far away from that now, and, although it may be possible to the hon. Gentleman, a public spirited agriculturist, and with the means at his disposal to carry out his operations to free his own herds from tuberculosis, it would be a very difficult undertaking for the State to establish a segregation farm in every district, to inspect every cow which has had tuberculosis, or which reacts in the slightest degree to the tuberculin test, and to take measures to get rid of tuberculosis from the whole of our herds. And from the point of view of milk supply that is not essential. It is desirable but it is not essential, because many cows 1063 which have some degree of tuberculosis do not give tuberculous milk. I am sure he would agree with me when I say that he would not wish to wait to deal with the grave cases of tuberculous milk, the milk which is seriously affected with tuberculosis, which is now being sold to the parents of those children and is now causing disease, and that he would not wish to stop legislation with the hope that more complete measures in the future may be found practicable and effective. We must deal with the grave case with which we are now confronted, and we must deal with it speedily. I agree with hon. Members who said we must not impose heavy costs on the farmers. It is not really a question of cost, it is a question of care. The farmers must see that their milk is sent up in a cleanly condition. I do not contemplate imposing on the agricultural industry heavy expenditure for the erection of milk sheds and for making every farm precisely what we would wish an ideal farm to be. That is no doubt, again desirable, but it is not practicable, and we must make our regulations such as will eliminate the really serious sources of danger without requiring any revolution in the methods that are practised in the agricultural industry.
If we are to impose those heavy charges the effect would be, perhaps, to get rid of a million or two of bacteria in the milk, and it would also be, very possibly, to raise the price of milk all round, and I am most anxious to avoid that. We want to make more milk accessible to the children of the poor, and we must see that we do nothing to limit the supply. The Bill will be prepared in that spirit. It will enable samples of milk to be taken at any stage of the milk's journey from the cow to the consumer, so that the responsible authorities can see at what point it is that it has become contaminated or adulterated. It will specify more clearly the duties of the local authorities, and will insist on the local authorities performing those duties. Very considerable Grants-in-Aid, which we hope to give by our financial arrangements of this year, ought to assist the local authorities to carry out these and other duties for safeguarding the public health. Finally, we hope to secure by the Bill uniformity in the law, instead of the great diversity which now prevails in different districts. The hon. Member for the Bassetlaw Division (Mr. Hume-Williams) raised a somewhat different 1064 question, the question of the introduction of preservatives in cream. That is a matter to which the Board have given very careful attention for some time. They have designedly not fixed an official limit of the amount of preservative, because in the present state of knowledge we are not able to say that expert opinion is at all unanimous as to the amount of preservative that can properly be allowed. It is felt that if a figure was inserted in the Regulation, that that would be regarded as carrying with it the information of the Board as being the allowable amount which could not do any harm. We do not feel ourselves in a position to forbid preservatives, as has been done in France and Germany, as he has told us, but we insist that where preservatives are used it should be declared that they are used so that invalids and children should not have this kind since it is for them it is clear it is injurious.
I turn lastly to the proposal that we should establish a system of certified milk. There is much to be said in favour of that suggestion if it is optional on the part of the producer to produce certified milk. I understand that that is in effect the proposal—that it should not be compulsory upon a producer to come up to a certain standard, but that if he chooses to produce milk which comes up to a high standard from herds which are free from tuberculosis, and is carefully safeguarded on its journey to the consumer, he should be entitled to call the milk "certified milk," and that anyone who did not so safeguard his milk should not be entitled to use that title without penalty. There are two ways in which you can induce people to produce milk of a high standard. One is to impose penalties upon them if they do not. That is the usual course of our legislation. That can only be done where the milk falls below what is regarded as a minimum standard. You can penalise a man only if his milk is really bad. You cannot penalise a man if he produces average milk, or milk a little below the average; it must be below the minimum standard. The other method is to give inducements or an opportunity to make extra profit if he produces milk of a particularly high standard. That is the suggestion of those who advocate the system of certified milk. That is what has occurred in the United States. There a man who produces milk of a particularly good quality is able to obtain from the wealthier classes, hospitals, and other institutions, a higher price, and he benefits 1065 in his pocket for his enterprise and for the care he has taken. If this could be done, it would, I believe, have a very salutary effect as an example to other farmers. In a particular district you would have an enlightened and enterprising dairyman or farmer producing his milk by the most scientific methods, and being able to call it "certified milk." His neighbours would see chat without much extra cost he was able to produce milk of a high standard and to reap a considerable amount of extra profit. Before long they would imitate his methods, the production of good milk would be increased, and the price would fall. But if that is to be done, you must make sure that your guarantee of certified milk shall be a real and not a sham guarantee. You must have the machinery which will enable you to see that this certified milk is in all cases what it represents itself to be, otherwise your system will break down, the public will be defrauded, and the original producers of certified milk will be exposed to the competition of others who will produce milk of a lower standard but will not be detected or punished for so doing.
It is not easy to devise any machinery which will be effective for the purpose. It is difficult enough to enforce the 3 per cent. standard of solid fats, which is now regarded as a minimum for milk; it would be far harder to enforce a standard of less than 10,000 bacteria per cubic centimetre. However, I do not say that it is impossible, and my mind is not by any means hostile to the proposal. But it is a new proposal, and I am not sure how it would be regarded in this House. If I were convinced that it would meet with general agreement I would have no objection at all to the inclusion in the Bill of the necessary power to make regulations. But I am most anxious that my Bill should be an agreed Bill, meeting the reasonable and even the unreasonable objections from any quarter of the House. I think the best course will be for me to introduce the Bill without this power, and then if hon. Members opposite move in Committee an Amendment carrying out their ideas, they will see what the House thinks of their proposal. For my own part, I shall be happy to be guided by the general opinion of the House. But the system of certified milk would not by itself meet the need The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hills) said that he was convinced that this was the best way of dealing with the question. It would not deal 1066 with the question so far as it concerned people who could not afford to pay for the certified milk. The poor, for the time being, until the bad milk was lifted up to the same standard, would get unregulated milk of the same kind as they are getting now. Such a system would be a useful supplement to other Regulations, but it cannot be a substitute for them, and I dare say that that is what the hon. Member for Durham really had in mind. I hope to introduce the Bill within a very-short period. I think the many forms through which it has passed are now nearing a conclusion. The ante-natal history of these Bills is a very important one. It is a mistake to introduce a Bill until one has made an effort to meet every objection before the Bill sees the light. I hope that this process will soon be completed, and that I shall soon be able to lay the Bill before the House. I trust hon. Members will feel that they can approve of the provisions, and will lend it their assistance. We hear a great deal about Cabinet autocracy. There is no Cabinet autocracy in matters of this kind. Unless a measure of this sort is generally acceptable in all quarters of the House, it is unlikely to pass. The experience of the last five years has shown how easy it is to stop the progress of this Bill. I hope, therefore, hon. Members who have listened to this Debate, and realise the importance of the proposals, will lend the Bill their aid, and assist in the establishment of a favourable current of opinion in Parliament which will carry this necessary measure safely into port.
§ Mr. STANIER
I am sure the community at large, and agriculturists in particular, will welcome most sincerely the proposed legislation which the President of the Local Government Board has foreshadowed. The many reasons that he has given will gain the right hon. Gentleman support. For myself, I can say sincerely I hope the Bill will be considered as more or less an agreed Bill. We welcome the foreshadowed Clause that will make foreign milk come under some regulations. It is a great shame, a great wrong, to those who consume milk in this country that foreign milk should be allowed to come in without any regulations. We also sincerely welcome that part of the Bill which says that the Board of Agriculture is bringing out a new Order, and that the administrative part of the Tuberculosis Order will receive more favourable support than it has done 1067 in the past. We also welcome the Clause that will make the Bill supersede the Borough Clauses which control the milk supply in the great boroughs of the country.
Lastly, we welcome the fact that the Board of Agriculture are to work in cooperation with the Local Government Board. We have always advocated this. I would like to give an example of how agriculturists have been working in the dark, and against regulations that they could not make any headway against. I myself have a farm which sells a large quantity of milk daily. By the force of circumstances the milk is sent in the morning to one city, and in the evening to another city. On account of the railway communication the milk goes to the third city on Sunday. Now all these three boroughs have sent down their inspectors, and everyone of these inspectors ask for different things to be attended to. I am not the occupier or the farmer, I am only the landlord, and therefore I have had all these complaints poured into my ear. The first borough inspector came down and said, "I want perfect cleanliness, perfect light, and perfect ventilation," and all sorts of newfangled ventilation put into the cow-houses. The next man came and said, "I do not care a rap for ventilation, but I must have light and large windows." The third man came, and said, "I do not care for ventilation or light, but I must have the manure heap carried 200 yards from the cow-house." That is the sort of thing going on. There is no uniformity in the demands made by the boroughs, and the farmer is put to great disadvantage; and it is for that reason, as well as any other, that the farmer asks for uniformity of legislation. We have been asked why has this delay gone on so long. We on this side of the House have done what we could. We have brought in our Bills, and the delay is caused by the Local Government Board by the reports being pigeonholed and lost. We hope that the new broom, if I may so refer to him with all due respect, in the Local Government Board will now give the legislation which we in this country demand, and which we as agriculturists will welcome.
I am rather glad the President of the Local Government Board is not going forward on that question of the grading of milk, because, although it is admirable and absolutely workable in America, I do not yet think that we in this country can 1068 teach our small holders, who are the great retailers of our milk supply in the rural districts, that this can be managed at the present time. In the dairy districts the large farmers do not supply the cottagers with milk. It is all sent away to the boroughs and the great cities, and it is the small holders who supply these cottagers, and it will be a bad day for this country if the cottagers are not able to be provided with the milk they need. I do welcome the statement of the President of the Local Government Board that we should go slowly upon this question of grading milk, although I acknowledged it is absolutely right in principle and would do a great deal of good towards securing pure milk. We therefore welcome the legislation the right hon. Gentleman foreshadows, and we hope it will see daylight very soon from now.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, "That fresh legislation is needed to control the supply and sale of Milk and cream in the United Kingdom, and that the existing Laws should be more thoroughly administered."