§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Herbert Lewis)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time." Its object is to consolidate the law relating to milk and dairies. It is a purely consolidating Bill. It does not amend the law in any way, and if it is given a Second Reading now. I propose moving that it be referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. It will be of great use to the milk and dairy trade, and, therefore, I hope the House will give it a Second Reading.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I welcome the introduction of this Bill, which I am sure will be a great convenience to those interested in the milk and dairy trade. I only wish the Government had gone a little further than they have done. I do not quite 2099 understand why the enactment referred to in the first Schedule cannot be included in the Consolidation Bill. The Memorandum sets out that this is a Bill consolidating without any amendment the main provisions of the law relating to milk and dairies for the convenience and information of dairymen, but when I look at the fifth Schedule, I see that the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875 to 1907, so far as they relate to the sale of milk, are not included, and are to be left out; therefore if a dairyman wants to know anything about those measures he will have to refer to the enactments.. It seems to me that it ought not to be beyond the power of the Government or the Committee to which this Bill is going to be referred to insert in this Consolidation Act the Clauses of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act which relate to milk and dairies. You would then have in one Act all the provisions which relate to these matters, and which no doubt it is most desirable to consolidate. I hope that this is not the last word of the Government upon this matter. I was glad to hear that this is only a Consolidation Bill, but I hope that the Government will even now consider whether they cannot go a little further and introduce into the Bill all those Sections of the other Act which deal with milk and dairies, and thereby make it of further use to those interested.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I should like to support the appeal of the hon. Member opposite. It would certainly be convenient to persons interested in the milk and dairy business to have all the information which regulates their position as easily accessible as possible without having to go through all the different Acts of Parliament. This is the kind of legislation which is often quite unwittingly broken by honest people, and the more simply you can bring home to them what they are able to do and what they are not able to do, the better. This is surely not an unfavourable opportunity to achieve that object, and I therefore hope that the Government will consider the point.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I wish to offer a word of caution with regard to the suggested procedure. I should have thought that the Bill needed some other defence when the Government have taken away the whole of the time of private Members on the ground that our energies should not be diverted from the War. The Prime Minister gave 2100 a pledge, and now, I will not say the Government have broken that pledge, but hon. Members are urging them to go just over the line and introduce things not already in the Bill. That, in my opinion, cannot be done without it being recognised that it is a breach of the bargain made between the Prime Minister and private Members.
§ Mr. BOOTH
If it is a proper Consolidation Bill it is all right, because it is going through a Committee which will deal with it. If hon. Members are not wishing to introduce new points, then it shows that the Bill has not been, completely drafted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I did not understand that was the criticism. The hon. Member opposite said that he wished the Government to go further. I take it he means by actually specifying in more detail certain things, but not interfering with policy.
§ Mr. BOOTH
Then I quite accept that position. How do the Government justify this as a War measure? Is this going to help us to drive the Germans out of Belgium? Clearly it has nothing to do with the War. It must therefore be justified on some other ground, and I should like to know what that other ground is. I do not mind these things being entertained by the House if it is fairplay to everybody, but if the Government are going to bring in a multitude of these things, what right have they to prevent private Members having their Fridays? We have had the Copyright in Advertisements, Fugitive Offenders, Immature Spirits, Housing at Rosyth Dockyard, British North America Fisheries and Harbours, and Milk and Dairies Bills. I might mention subject after subject which surely has not the remotest connection with the War. If we are really making up our minds that is to be the one 2101 object before the country, are we justified in diverting the attention of the House of Commons in this way unless it is necessary? I understand that there is some explanation, but I think whenever a Minister proposes one of these Bills for second reading, under the Prime Minister's promise it is his duty to justify his Bill as coming within the terms laid down, or to give some explanation. It may be the best Bill possible, but what is the reason for it, and what is its connection with the War?
§ Mr. LEWIS
My hon. Friend asks what is the justification for bringing forward this particular Bill? My reply is that a pledge was given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board last Session, when the Bill was going through, that this Consolidation Bill should be brought in before that Bill became actually operative. In fulfilment of that Parliamentary pledge the Government were absolutely obliged to bring forward the measure.
§ Mr. LEWIS
According to Section 18 of the Milk and Dairies Act of last year it is provided that the Act shall come into operation on the 1st January, or such later date not being later than 1st October, 1915, as the Local Government Board may appoint. With reference to the criticism made from the other side of the House, may I say that the questions which the hon. and learned Gentleman raised have been very carefully considered by those who have had the responsible duty of drafting the Bill. He referred to the law as to the sale of food and drugs, and asked why the provisions should not be taken from the Sale of Food and Drugs Act. The learned Committee, which will I hope be appointed to deal with this question, have that matter before it, but I venture to think that it will find very considerable difficulty in wrenching those particular provisions out of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act and inserting them in this Bill. It will, however, be a matter for the Committee themselves to consider. I am glad to know that it contains some of the most respected and learned Members of both Houses—the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) is one of the Members, and we may rest assured that the Bill will receive that careful examination to which it is entitled.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.2102
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills."—[Mr. Gulland.]
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill committed accordingly.
§ Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.