§ (1) It shall be lawful for an inspector of the Local Government Board, or the medical officer of health of a local authority, or any person provided with and, if required, exhibiting an authority in writing from such an inspector or from the local authority or medical officer of health, to take for examination samples of milk at any time before it is delivered to the consumer:
§ Provided that the powers of a medical officer of health and of a person authorised by him or by the local authority under this Section shall, except so far as the Local Government Board may otherwise direct, be exercisable only within the area of the local authority.
§ (2) The result of an analysis or bacteriological or other examination of a sample of milk taken under this Act shall not be admissible as evidence in proceedings under this Act, or in proceedings under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907, unless the provisions of the lastmentioned Acts which relate to the division of samples into parts are complied with, but if those provisions have been complied with, the result of the analysis shall be available for proceedings under the said Acts (as if it had been procured in accordance with those Acts) as well as for proceedings under this Act.
§ (3) The medical officer of health or any other officer authorised for the purpose by a local authority within the area of which milk from any dairy situate outside that area is being sold or exposed or kept for sale, may by notice in writing require the medical officer of health or other authorised officer of any other local authority being an authority for the purposes of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907, to take samples of the milk at that dairy 1610 or in the course of transit from that dairy to the area of the first-mentioned local authority.
§ (4) Upon receipt of such notice it shall be the duty of the medical officer of health or other authorised officer of the other authority to take samples and to forward, for analysis or bacteriological examination, to the officer who gave the notice a part of any sample so taken, and in taking a sample the officer shall, if so required by the notice, comply with the provisions of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907, which relate to the division of samples into parts.
§ The authority requiring the samples to be taken shall be liable to defray any reasonable expenses incurred, the amount whereof shall in default of agreement be settled by the Local Government Board.
§ For the purpose of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907, the sample shall be deemed to have been taken within the area of the officer who gave the notice, and proceedings under those Acts may be taken either before a Court having jurisdiction within the district for which that officer acts or before a Court having jurisdiction in the place where the sample was actually taken.
§ (5) In any proceedings under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907, or this Act, the production of a certificate of the officer who took the sample under this Section that the provisions of this Section, as to the manner in which samples are to be dealt with, were complied with shall be sufficient evidence of compliance, unless the defendant requires that officer to be called as a witness.
§ (6) In the exercise at any railway station or upon any railway premises of the powers conferred upon them by this Section, such inspector, medical officer of health, or other person so authorised as aforesaid shall conform to such reasonable requirements of the railway company owning or using such station or premises as are necessary to prevent the working of the traffic thereat being obstructed or interfered with.
§ Mr. ARTHUR STRAUSS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "for examination."
I think it is agreed on all sides that the bacteriological examination of milk, except for tuberculosis, is absolutely unreliable. It is quite certain that if three samples are taken, each sample will show a different bacteriological result when 1611 examined by different people. In this respect I can quote the authority of Mr. Savage, who was appointed by the Local Government Board to examine into these matters, and he investigated this procedure at the request of the Local Government Board. Mr. Savage wrote a very interesting book, in which he confirms the view I have expressed, and surely it is very hard upon the producer and the dairyman that a bacteriological examination should be made which everybody agrees is of no importance whatever. This is one of those harassing conditions which appear in the Bill a number of times, and I hope the House will agree to my proposal.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am afraid I cannot accept this or any of the other Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member on this subject. This Clause simply gives power to local authorities to take samples of milk, and there really is no reason for imposing the limitation which is sought to be imposed by this Amendment. Quite recently there have been two serious outbreaks of illness from Goertner bacillus infection, which comes from the disease of cow, and which can only be detected by a bacteriological examination of the milk. If this Amendment is carried, they could not examine the milk for this bacillus, and they could only do it by extra legal process, which would be contrary to the terms of this Act. I may point out that the typhoid and diphtheria bacillus can sometimes be detected by a bacteriological examination, and, as this science improves, perhaps it may become more useful. In these circumstances it is quite impossible for me to accept the Amendment.
I do not want to support this Amendment, but there is one statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made which has rather surprised me. The list of diseases which appear to be dangerous to human life appears in the first Schedule of the Bill. Presumably, a bacteriological examination would be conducted with a view to discovering those diseases. I may point out that the Goertner bacillus does not appear to be one of those diseases, and, therefore, I would like to ask whether it is intended that this bacteriological examination should rove over a wide field, and include other diseases than those which are mentioned in the first Schedule of this Bill?
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am sure we are all under a great deal of indebtedness to the hon. Member for North Paddington (Mr. A. Strauss) for bringing this question forward. I think the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. C. Bathurst) has raised an important point with regard to the diseases dealt with in the Schedule. If we are limited to the Schedule, then I do not quite see the relevancy of the right hon. Gentleman's reply.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The first Schedule imposes penalties upon the farmer for selling milk infected with certain diseases. The diseases named in the Schedule are such that the farmer cannot be expected to detect them himself, and consequently it is provided that when such diseases are discovered steps should be taken with regard to them, and the sale of milk should be interfered with, although this is not an offence in regard to which penalties ought to be imposed.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), at the end of the first paragraph, to add the words:—Provided that no proceedings under this Act shall be taken against any cowkeeper in respect of any sample of milk supplied by him unless such sample shall have been taken on the premises of such cowkeeper, or in cases where the milk is carried by railway at the railway station from which the milk is dispatched.Probably this Amendment may be improved on further consideration, but as this Bill came on somewhat unexpectedly on Tuesday evening, I had to do the best I could in a very short time. I hope, however, that I have made my point clear. This is an important matter from the point of view of the farmer. It has been brought to my notice several times by farmers in my Constituency, and they have asked me to bring it before the notice of Parliament. I cannot find that the point I am raising has been dealt with during the Committee stage. A great number of farmers send their milk by rail to places some considerable distance away, and they have found that samples of the milk are taken after it has left their custody, and adulteration has taken place for which they are in no way responsible. My hon. Friend (Mr. Stanier) 1613 gave some remarkable instances on Tuesday of how these things happen. It is not necessary for me to go into any of them in detail. It does seem to me to be only fair, if you are going to take proceedings against a farmer in respect of an impurity which is found in the milk he has supplied, or if you are going to take proceedings because the milk does not contain sufficient fat, you ought to take the sample of the milk while it is in his custody on his premises, or, if he sends it by railway, then let the sample be taken at the railway station from which it is dispatched. The milk cans, as we know, are not locked, because most railway companies do not allow them to be locked, and we have had many instances where milk has been abstracted and water has been put in by somebody during its transit. There would be no practical difficulty about it, for this reason: Supposing a sample were taken at the delivery end and it was found that the milk was not up to standard, or had been adulterated, then the inspectors or the responsible authority, if they wanted to make a case against the farmer, could go to the farm and take a sample of the milk while it was at the farm or at the railway station from which it was dispatched. There are provisions in this Bill which affect this matter. If hon. Members will kindly look at Clause 2, Subsection (1), paragraph (d), they will see that it gives the Local Government Board power to make regulations for—the prohibition of the addition of colouring matter and the prohibition or regulation of the addition of skimmed or separated milk, or water, or any other substance, to milk intended for sale for human consumption, or the abstraction therefrom of butter-fat or any other constituent,and in Sub-section (3)—If any person is guilty of a contravention of or non-compliance with the provisions of any Milk and Dairies Order, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.The Local Government Board therefore can make Regulations with regard to this matter, and anyone can be prosecuted for any breach of them. Clause 5 gives the local authority or the proper officer, the medical officer of health, or the person appointed, power to take samples of milk at any time before its delivery to the consumer. It is, therefore, quite possible to prosecute the farmer in respect of his 1614 milk based upon a sample taken at the point of delivery when as a matter of fact he may not be responsible in any shape or form for the impurity which has got into the milk. It is said that there are some provisions put in this Bill which give the farmer some protection. With great respect, I do not think that those provisions go anything like far enough. There is in Clause 15, Sub-section (3), this provision:—Where the occupier of a dairy is charged with an offence against this Act, he shall be entitled upon information duly laid by him to have any other person whom he charges as the actual offender brought before the Court.How in the world is he going to specify the man who has been guilty of putting impurities into the milk during transit? It is quite impossible for him to do it, and this Section really gives him no protection whatever. Then, again, it is said, in Schedule 3, paragraph (6):—If a sample of milk of cows in any dairy is taken in course of transit or delivery from that dairy, the owner of the cows may, within forty-eight hours after the sample of milk was procured, serve on the local authority a notice requesting them to procure within a period not exceeding forty-eight hours a sample of milk from a corresponding milking of the cows.That has been called the "appeal to the cow," but that does not affect this point. The only effect of it is to give notice to the farmer if a sample of milk is taken during transit, and to give him the right to call upon the officer to take a further sample from the corresponding milking, and it stops there. It simply gives the farmer an opportunity of a second sample being taken. I suppose it can be produced at the proceedings if he wants it, but it is a double-edged weapon, because it might very easily weigh against the farmer instead of in his favour. I am not at all certain that this Clause might not have been better drafted, but I think I have made the point clear, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will listen to it with favour. I have used the word "cowkeeper," because, if I had used the word "dairyman," I should have included not only the farmer but also the retail shopkeeper. The word "dairyman" by the Definition Clause in this Bill includes not only the farmer, the man who supplies the milk in the first instance, but also 1615 the purveyor of milk. I hope the Amendment will be favourably received by the House. I think it only fair, if you are going to take proceedings against the farmer in respect of his milk, that you should take samples from that milk while it is in his custody, or at all events at the station from which it is dispatched.
§ Colonel WESTON
I beg to second the Amendment. I can confirm every word my hon. and learned Friend has said. The Amendment is one suggested by an agricultural meeting of county councils at which I was present and at which the feeling was generally expressed that there was an injustice to the farmer in connection with the taking of samples. Everybody is aware that under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act great precautions are taken to see fair play is given to the sellers of foods and drugs, but in this matter the farmer feels that he does not receive fair play. Only last Monday I was at a railway station very early in the morning, and I saw the milk churns going away. They were all open. I asked the stationmaster why they were open, and he said that they insisted on them being left open, and did not allow them to be sealed up. Farmers feel that when their goods are consigned to a distance there should at any rate be some protection that they are not adulterated, that water is not added or milk extracted. I therefore support the Amendment, which I hope the Government will see their way to accept.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment has said that under Clause 2 there are considerable powers for making regulations to prevent the sale of adulterated milk or milk from which butter fat has been extracted and so forth. It is comparatively easy to make regulations, but it is very hard indeed to enforce them. There is no doubt that now a good deal of adulterated or impoverished milk is sold, not because the law does not prohibit its sale, but because the enforcement of the law is not adequate. Local authorities find it very difficult indeed in many eases to take samples and to detect the adulterators, whom no one in this House, of course, would wish to see escape punishment. If the hon. Member's proposal were accepted, the effect would be that any cowkeeper in the town, and there are very large numbers of them in every town, could send out his milk and could adulterate it 1616 as soon as it left his premises, and there would be no power to take samples.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
We had to consider the Amendment as the hon. and learned Member moved it. I think he will find it extremely difficult to discover any form of words which will really cover all the proper cases. There is the possibility, no doubt, of a grievance on the part of the farmers on account of the adulteration of the milk at the railway station, or subsequently, but the way to meet that is by dealing with the question of the churns. I am by no means convinced that the farmers, the milk sellers, and the railway companies between them, have at present reached the right conclusion on the question of the churns. There was an elaborate inquiry conducted by the Local Government Board with respect to the type of churns to be used, and, after this Bill is passed, I propose to make a very careful inquiry as to the Regulations that ought to be made with respect to the type of churns to be used. You cannot by a stroke of the pen insist upon modern churns being used in all cases at once, but I do think it is necessary to approach the railway companies with respect to their rule against locked churns being used, and with a view of giving the farmers an opportunity of sending their milk in receptacles which will not render them liable to having it adulterated on the road. I feel certain that the Amendment is not admissible, and would cause the greatest difficulty to local authorities in the administration of the law. We want to strengthen the present law, and not to weaken it. The present law does allow the milk to be sampled on delivery to the customers, but the hon. Member's Amendment would cut short the powers which are at present used by the local authority.
§ Mr. H. W. FORSTER
Nobody wants to see the adulteration of milk, and, if the particular words used would leave a loophole for the escape of those whom we do not want to see escape, by all means let us see if we cannot find an alternative form of words. It is important that we should avoid doing anything that savours in the least of injustice to the milk producers, and I am rather disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman has not met my hon. and learned Friend's point a little more fully. After all, he cannot want any more 1617 than we do to inflict any hardship or injustice upon the milk producers, and, if the right hon. Gentleman will not accept this form of words, I hope before the Bill finally passes into law that he will really consider the matter and see if the point cannot be met and dealt with by means of an Amendment in another place. My hon. and learned Friend does not in the least wish to let off the cowkeeper in the town who adulterates his milk, but he wants to prevent hardship in the case of farmers and milk producers in the country on account of samples being taken after the milk has left their custody, and I sympathise with him entirely. The point is plain, and I know that the right hon. Gentleman appreciates and understands it. Surely it cannot pass the wit of the Local Government Board or of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords, and of all the officials who might be called in to assist, to find a form of words that would meet an obvious grievance!
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The hon. Member has made an appeal that we should consider the matter further. The hon. and learned Member who has moved the Amendment admits that in form it is not really satisfactory. I shall be very glad to consult with him between now and the Bill reaching another place to see if we can come to a solution of this question. Though I cannot give a definite pledge that we shall be able to do so, I will do my best.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
The President of the Local Government Board rather misunderstood the intention and the effect of the Amendment, because he pointed out that already powers were given to take samples at the place of delivery. This will not interfere in the least with the taking of samples anywhere it is desired, and, as my hon. and learned Friend took great pains to point out, the discovery of polluted milk at a railway station where the milk arrived might be ground for suspecting the milk producer, and lead to the taking of further samples, either on the premises of the producer, or at the railway station where he put it on the rail. It is not intended to interfere in the least with the taking of samples. I would like to point out that in the last line of the paragraph we have just passed, there are the words "at any time." We are not going back on that at all. We are only limiting the prosecution to which the farmer is likely to be liable to samples taken, not at any time, but while the milk 1618 is within his reasonable control. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind, and will not think that this Amendment, even in a somewhat modified form, will interfere with the taking of samples.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
We have had one side of the case emphasised, namely, that of the farmer producing the milk. Of course, no one in this House wants legislation which would do anyone an injustice. But there is another side which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind in considering and acting upon this suggestion, and that is the side of the much larger number of people—the consumers of milk—who are entitled to get milk of a definite standard. The difficulty at present is to bring to book anyone of those who handle the milk before the consumer receives it, in case of adulteration. They all escape, and if this Amendment in this form were accepted, it might well mean that, although you had got milk delivered to a house in London which was adulterated badly, you would be able to convict nobody of any offence. That is the position which ought at all costs to be avoided. The existing state of the law is this: That the seller is bound by law to sell milk up to a certain standard, and it is no answer, in any proceedings against him, to say that the adulteration did not take place on his premises. There are cases where it was proved that the milk was abstracted from the cans on the railway journey, and water was added to make up the quantity. The dairyman who was robbed was convicted because the milk he sold was not up to the standard it ought to have been. That may seem hard, but I think it is right. It is obvious that a retailer who undertakes to supply to the public milk of a certain standard should do so. The difficulty might be got over in this way: If the farmer is not prepared to take responsibility for the milk beyond a certain stage—and I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite wants to limit his liability to the time he delivers it at the station—why cannot that be the time of delivery to the customer? In that case, if the retailer takes responsibility for it at the time it is delivered to him at the place whence it is dispatched, then you have got one or the other. My point is that the authorities must be careful that either the farmer who dispatches or the retailer who receives shall be held responsible for the condition of the milk. This 1619 Amendment will not secure that. The term "cowkeeper" is used. But that is a term which is not defined in the Bill. It is no doubt included with a number of other terms under the definition of "dairy," but it only shows the difficulty of the matter, and I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take care that the provisions are such that if the milk is not up to the standard when it is sold to the consumer it shall be possible to make someone responsible, either the farmer or the wholesale dealer, or the retailer, and bring them to book. They must take the responsibility for the milk.
§ Mr. STANIER
I very much hope the President of the Local Government Board will be able to find some words that will carry out actually the idea of the hon. Member who has moved this Amendment, even if he cannot accept the words as they appear upon the Paper to-day. The reason why I say so is this: The farmer is very often blamed for no fault of his own. The cans are not always sealed, and perhaps for a considerable time they will not be bound to be sealed. We must, therefore, put in some words that will carry on the work in a way that ensures that fair play shall be given to the farmer in the meantime. My hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) seemed very surprised indeed that I should have said anything against a railway company, inasmuch as I happen to be a director of a company. But that is the very case I want to bring forward. When this Bill was under discussion the night before last I spoke about the extraordinary things that go on at some railway stations in London. It is not the fault of the railway company, because the company has handed over the milk and the cans to the receiver of that milk, and they have also at the same time handed over their power of control. If I may take up the time of the House for a few minutes, I should like to read some evidence that was given at the London Sessions in a case of this kind the other day. Here it is:—Some surprising statements as to how milk arriving at Paddington Station in the early hours of the morning is borrowed from one churn and the shortage replaced by milk from another intended for another dairy company were made by Alfred Ingram, a well-dressed young man, of Thorngate Road. Paddington, who was indicted on a charge of stealing a churn and seventeen gallons of milk belonging to the Great Western and Metropolitan Dairies Company, Limited. In the witness-box the accused said he was allowed by his dealers to buy and sell milk, and 1620 it was a practice to lend and borrow it, no record being kept of the transactions. That happened in the present case.Mr. Wallace, K.C., remarked that the practice rendered the whole system of guarantees, under which the milk trade was carried on, absolutely worthless. A custom more calculated to lead to dishonest practices it. was impossible to conceive.Here is the pith of the whole point:—The jury found Ingram not guilty, but added that the practice at Paddington was most reprehensible, and calculated to lead to fraud.There is the whole point of the thing, and this Amendment brought forward by my hon. Friend is to prevent adulteration at railway stations. This is one case showing what has gone on at Paddington. There are any number of similar cases that might be quoted. But here we have, at any rate, sworn evidence given in a Court of Justice, and I suppose, therefore, the statements may be taken to be absolutely correct. On the strength of them we press that some words such as those suggested by my hon. Friend shall be put into the Bill to enable the fraud, when it is committed, to be placed on the shoulders of those who perpetrate it.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I regret the rather indefinite assurance which the right hon. Gentleman has given us with regard to this Amendment. I think the right hon. Gentleman can hardly realise what enormous importance the dairy community attached to a provision of this kind. I am in close touch with the dairy farmers in my Constituency, and ever since I have been connected with the constituency this is one of the grievances continually brought to my notice. I feel it would be a most unfortunate thing if, now we are dealing with the whole question of the milk supply, we should not put into the Bill some provision of this sort, and give this protection to the farming community. It appears to me to be a mere act of justice. My hon. Friend admits that some alteration is required in the drafting of the Amendment, but the arguments which have been advanced in opposition to it seem to show that the hon. Members putting them forward have not really given full consideration to the question. I could not understand what the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Glyn-Jones) really suggested ought to be done. I think he said the farmer ought to be responsible for the milk until it reaches the consumer.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
Until he legally delivers it to the customer. If he likes he may legally deliver it to the customer at the station from which it is dispatched.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman's proposal. My hon. Friend wants to limit the liability of the farmer to the railway station from which the milk is actually dispatched. I think that is absolutely fair, and it is a proposal to which the farming community attach very great importance. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give a definite and clear undertaking that this matter shall be dealt with in the Bill when it reaches another place.
The right hon. Gentleman, in opposing this Amendment, raised two objections to its acceptance. He said it was difficult to detect adulteration. I quite agree. But his proposal would not in any way obviate the detection of adulteration so far as it provides means of detection. We ask that in the attempt to detect adulteration, care shall be taken that the wrong person is not incriminated. The first paragraph of this Clause provides for the taking for examination of samples of milk at any time before the milk is delivered to the consumer. My hon. and learned Friend says that in the case of any sample taken with the view of incriminating the cowkeeper, it should be taken while the milk is under the control of the cowkeeper. Surely that is only fair. The other objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman was that as the Bill is now framed, it will be in the power of the Local Government Board to issue Orders for the sealing of churns. These Orders may or may not be issued, but at any rate the cowkeeper in this respect is subject to the caprice of a Government Department whether or not he receives that added perfection. I do not consider that that is fair. I did not quite understand what the hon. Member for Stepney meant when he suggested that the cowkeeper should be held responsible for the milk until he delivered it to the consumer. The ordinary natural interpretation of that would be a great injustice to the cowkeeper, because he cannot travel with the churn.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
The hon. Gentleman knows that in law some one must own the milk. If the farmer wants to protect himself in this way he can say, "I deliver the milk to you at the station. It is your milk. It is in your possession. You must be responsible for it." My point is that care must be taken that one or other of these people shall be held responsible.
§ 5.0 P.M.
Does the hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that the farmer or the cowkeeper is going to make a contract on those terms? I am certain he will do nothing of the sort. Does the hon. Gentleman realise what is the ordinary owner's risk contract with the railway company? After the milk leaves the control of the producer at the station—
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
Who does the hon. Member suggest should take the responsibility, if it is neither the farmer nor the vendor?
I say emphatically, although I believe I am surrounded by railway directors, that the railway companies must be made responsible for any impurities that may pass into these churns while in transitu between the producer and the consumer. May I illustrate what I mean by my experience not very long ago at a railway station, where milk churns were being moved from one train to another. I myself saw an emaciated porter, possibly suffering from tuberculosis, sneezing into an open churn full of milk. It is just that sort of milk for which we ought to provide, and against the possibility of that kind of thing we ought to protect innocent producers.
§ Mr. BARNSTON
I sincerely trust that before we pass from this Amendment we may have something a little more definite than the right hon. Gentleman has yet given us. Throughout this Bill he has taken up a most sympathetic attitude as regards farmers and agricultural interests, and I hope he will maintain that attitude by giving us something more definite upon this point now. There is a good deal to be said for the Amendment. All it asks is that the farmer should not be made responsible for the milk after it has passed out of his control. I represent a great dairy constituency in Cheshire, and time after time farmers there have mentioned this point to me as being a gross injustice from which they are liable to suffer. The speech of the hon. Member for Stepney seemed to be rather a good speech in favour of the Amendment, because he told us of cases where milk has been taken out of the can and water poured in, yet the farmer is held responsible.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I will certainly do my best to. meet this grievance, but I cannot accept the Amendment in 1623 its present form, for it really needs somewhat careful consideration. Suppose, for example, we make Regulations later on that all churns should be sealed, and a farmer does send up his milk in a sealed churn, and it leaves the farmer's custody and goes to London, where it is unsealed in the presence of a sampling officer, and is found to be adulterated. It would be very absurd if we should not be able to prosecute the farmer in that case, and similarly in regard to the middleman. The case is not so simple as hon. Members seem to think. I will consider it carefully, and consult hon. Members opposite as to a possible form of Amendment.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
I desire to support the appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. We fully appreciate the ability he has shown in this particular matter, but the feeling is intense that while farmers are prepared to take the responsibility for any breach of the law while the milk is in their possession, it is very unfair that they should be held responsible for the milk after it has left their possession. Any branch of British subjects would feel it is only fair that farmers should be held responsible only while the milk is in their possession.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I understand that he accepts the principle of this Amendment, although I quite agree it does require alteration. Upon that understanding I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "except so far as the Local Government Board may otherwise direct."
I do not know why these words are inserted in the Bill. It seems that they give the Local Government Board power to go behind and beyond the main principle of the Bill, which is that there should be no interference between the officials of local authorities, and that the officials of one local authority should not act in the area of another local authority. I do not know what cases the Local Government Board contemplate in which their direction otherwise may be necessary. As the words appear to give too large powers to the Local Government Board and contravene the whole principle of the Bill, I thought it well to move their 1624 omission in order to get some explanation of their purpose from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I admit that these words are put in in contemplation of what would be exceedingly rare cases. Very likely the power will never be used at all, but there is a possibility that it may be required to be used in a case where some local authority is very obstructive, and will not take samples at the request of another authority. The Clause does not allow inspection of cows or any invasion of any sort or kind; it deals only with the question of sample. It might occur that some authority is obstructive and will not take samples at the request of another, and, instead of proceeding by way of mandamus or declaring them in default, the Local Government Board may say to them: "If you will not do this, we shall have to get somebody else to do it." That might bring them to reason, and they would proceed to carry out the Bill. These words have never been questioned before by any of the authorities who have carefully scrutinised the Bill. They were not objected to in Committee, and there is no harm in them The Local Government Board would not exercise the power except in exceptional circumstances, in order to avoid other proceedings.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The right hon. Gentleman knows how very jealous one local authority is of the invasion of its territory by officers of another authority. I think these are very rare cases, and it would have been better for the Local Government Board to send their own officers to deal with the matter.
§ Mr. FORSTER
Then surely you could proceed against the local authority by means of inandamus or otherwise. It should be the duty of the Local Government Board to bring home to the local authority its default, and it should not be a question of handing over that business to the officer of some other local authority. I do not want to press the point unduly, but I am anxious that we should give as little power as possible to the officers of one local authority to invade the territory of another.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I should like to enforce one point in answer to what the right hon. Gentleman has said. The Local Government Board may find themselves subjected to a good deal of pressure on this point. A very powerful body like the London County Council might like to get this power for their officials. We know that some large municipalities have endeavoured to get it in private Bills. The Local Government Board may find themselves subjected to pressure, and, these words being in the Bill, they will find it difficult to resist it. I quite appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman says as to a local authority being in default, In that case would it not be better to leave out the words and meet the case at default by some special proviso, so that where there is default the Local Government Board may send people to take samples or make arrangements with the Board of Agriculture for that purpose? That would be far more satisfactory. Perhaps on further consideration the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to take these words out.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
These words would be extremely useful. They would allow, provided the Local Government Board are satisfied, of a proper arrangement being made. Apart from these words there is nothing in the Bill which would enable a local authority to say, "Please, London, come and do it. We prefer you to do it."
These words may be interpreted as giving a very large power to the Local Government Board, which the right hon. Gentleman himself does not contemplate. For instance, I should like to know whether these words can be interpreted to apply only to the specific cases in which the Local Government Board may deem it absolutely necessary to interfere in order to get the purport and the intention of this Bill carried out. It is quite possible that if the words "may otherwise direct" are construed in their widest possible sense, they might conceivably authorise the Local Government Board to issue general Orders sanctioning the intervention in one district by the official of the local authority in another district. In fact, these words might possibly enable the Local Government Board in every case, through the medium of a general Order, to authorise that very invasion against which we have stood out from the time the Bill was introduced into this House.
§ Question, "That the words, 'except so far as the Local Government Board may otherwise direct' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. ARTHUR STRAUSS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "an analysis or," and to insert instead thereof the word "a."
The words I propose to leave out—there are three Amendments standing in my name which hang together, their chief object being to leave out the words "or other"—gives any medical officer the power to make any kind of examination he likes. I understand that the President of the Board interprets the word "bacteriological" in its widest sense. That examination will give quite sufficient trouble and cause quite sufficient confusion to lead to misunderstandings. There are dozens of methods of testing milk scientifically, but I am informed by those who deal largely in milk that when it conies to a commercial test they have all proved useless, and especially is that so in the case of mixed milk, where you cannot possibly trace any infection by the various methods that have been introduced. I have here a list of a large number of these tests which might possibly be used by a medical officer just as the fancy takes him. That is very unfair to the milk vendor, because the medical officer is sure to use one or other of these tests. They can be carried out in five minutes. They do not give him any trouble, and are no expense to him. He will probably use a test which is commercially unreliable. The vendor is already sufficiently hindered by bacteriological examination, and I do not see why a medical officer should have the power to use any other test, which may be a test he has invented himself, and unknown to anybody else.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I think the hon. Member's speech was mainly devoted to the words "or other," which is not the Amendment which has been put from the Chair. I do not know whether he intended to move to leave out "analysis." Surely he does not want to prevent analytical examination!
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
We ought to have heard some argument in support of the Amendment. The hon. Member wants to leave out on this Clause the admissibility of the result of an analysis of the milk. Surely, if this Clause has any purpose at all, it is to enable milk to be analysed with a view to seeing whether it is adulterated or whether the fats have been extracted from it! The words in question say that evidence may be adduced in Court with reference to the result of an analysis or bacteriological examination. That, surely, is right if you wish to detect whether certain diseases are present in the milk, and the words "or other" are put in simply in order to cover microscopical examination, which might not be, strictly speaking, becteriological. It is a small point—no more than a drafting point. It is necessary to have wide words.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. A. STRAUSS
I beg to move to leave out the words "or in proceedings under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907."
The object of this Amendment is to prevent the mixing up of the Food and Drugs Act with this Act, and if my Amendments are accepted the Clause will read, after the word "examination," "shall not be admissible as evidence in proceedings under this Act unless the provisions of the sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875 to 1907, which relate to the division of samples into parts are complied with, but if those provisions have been complied with, the result of the examination shall be available for proceedings under this Act." The object is to prevent samples which are meant for the Food and Drugs Act to be sent on under this Clause. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Clause carefully he will see that what will probably happen is that samples may be sent to the public analyst for Food and Drugs Act purposes, and may be sent to the veterinary inspector for bacteriological examination. The veterinary surgeon does not want any bacteriological examination nor does the public analyst want any kind of analysis to be made by the veterinary inspector. The wording of the Act certainly would entail these consequences. I wish to make 1628 it clear that these two Acts should not be mixed up together, but that the samples should be sent, either according to one Act or according to the other, to the right person.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The effect of the Amendment would be to make all procedure under Clause 5 unavailable for the purpose of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act. It is essential that the samples taken should be available for proceedings under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, which is the Act which deals with the adulteration of milk and all other food products and drugs. I cannot conceive why the hon. Member should wish to deprive the community of the protection which may be given by the sampling Clause of this Bill for the prevention of adulteration in milk.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part' of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I beg to move, in Sub-section (4), after the word "shall" ["it shall be the duty"], to insert the words "subject to the provisions of Subsection (1) of this Section."
The object of this is to ensure that there shall be no invasion on the part of any medical officer in taking samples under the Clause. The proviso in Sub-section (1) should, in my opinion, have come at the end of the Clause so as to cover the whole procedure contemplated in the Clause, but failing that, I ask by this Amendment that it shall be subject to the terms of that proviso, which prevents the medical officer of health exercising his powers outside his own area, so as to prevent any invasion taking place in respect of such sampling and forwarding as is contemplated by that Sub-section.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
This Amendment makes clearer what is the purpose of the Clause, and I shall be glad to accept it.
§ Question "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to,
§ Further Amendment made: After the word "authority" ["authorised officer of the other authority"], insert the words "as soon as practicable."1629
§ Mr. SANDERS
I beg to move to leave out the word "and" ["and proceedings under those Acts"] and to insert instead thereof the word "but."
I want to make the rest of the Clause read, "but the proceedings under those Acts shall be taken before a Court having jurisdiction in the place where the sample was actually taken." Under the Clause as it stands the procedure seems to be that an authority in London may object to milk which is sent from Wiltshire, and may apply to the medical authorities in Wiltshire to take samples of that milk. When the milk turns out badly, proceedings may either be taken in London or in Wiltshire. I think the spirit of the Act is to put the administration into the hands of the county authorities and not of the London authority, and it seems to me a wrong thing that, if that is the purpose of the Act, the farmer or his witnesses should be put to the trouble and expense of coming up to London for a case which could be perfectly well tried, and I think very much better tried, in a local Court.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I beg to second the Amendment.
This matter was discussed in Committee and the right hon. Gentleman, though he did not make a definite promise, said he would consider whether some alteration could be made. The point is this: A large quantity of milk is sent to London from Yeovil and Salisbury, and we think it would be reasonable that if a prosecution is found to be necessary it should take place where the milk was produced. It would be extremely burdensome for a farmer, and perhaps half a dozen milkers and other witnesses, to have to come to London to give evidence, and surely it would be only fair that where a man has had the misfortune to break the law he should be dealt with there, rather than a hundred miles off. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to meet us in that respect.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The purpose which the hon. Member has in view will not really be effected by this Amendment because the sample in such a case might be taken in London. Suppose the sample was taken at the railway station. The proceedings then could only be taken in that district. Further, under the provisions of the Bill there are many cases in which the person proceeded against will be the retailer in London who has been found selling adulterated milk. He claims that he is not the guilty party, but 1630 that if the milk was adulterated it was adulterated when sent to him by the person in the country who consigned it to him. Under the procedure of the Bill we have to have a process which is called sampling back, and the milk is sampled back to the middleman and from the middleman to the farmer, and it is found where the supply of milk is adulterated on its way. It would be extremely inconvenient if separate proceedings had to be taken in a case of that kind, first in the town district, where the dealer is involved, and then in the country district, where the farmer may be involved. Surely, one Court ought to have cognisance of the whole case. I am afraid the Amendment would introduce considerable confusion into the administration of this part of the law. I have no doubt that the Court, if the case was one in which all the witnesses were in an outlying district, would require that it should be taken there instead of in London where non" of the parties were resident or were concerned, and naturally that would be the ordinary course of procedure as is, I think, the case now.
§ Question, "That the word 'and' stand part of the Bill" put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. A. STRAUSS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (6), after the word "railway" ["at any railway station"], to insert the words "or other."
The Clause provides that an inspector shall not go to any railway station at any time when his presence might obstruct or interfere with the working of the traffic. I really do not see why the same courtesy should not be extended to the dairyman, to large business men and small shopmen, and even to the farmers. It is most inconvenient that the inspector should arrive at the time when the cows are being milked or the carts are being filled or the dairyman is very busy. The same courtesy which is volunteered to the railway companies ought to be accorded to business men, and these three Amendments will accomplish that.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am still very unfortunate with the hon. Member's Amendments. I should be glad if I could come across one which I was able to accept from his hands, but he would bring into the privileges of this proviso the very wholesale and other dairymen whom it is specially necessary to inspect by putting 1631 in the words "or business." Of course you are not dealing merely with businesses analogous to railway companies, such as canal companies or dock companies. You bring in every dairyman, and it would give an excuse for dairymen and wholesale providers who may be guilty of adulteration. There are certainly such cases, and if you want to catch them you would give them an opportunity of escaping the inspectors. For that reason I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. GRETTON
My hon. Friend desires to put these people in the same position as other carriers. If the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment it would accomplish the object of my hon. Friend, and I do not think it would be in any way contrary to the argument which he has used. It is quite reasonable that they should have facilities equal to those given to railway companies, and, therefore, I hope the Amendment will be accepted.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I will consider the point. I do not know at present whether it is one of very great substance.
§ Amendment negatived.