HC Deb 15 March 1922 vol 151 cc2198-9

I beg to move, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the enactments relating to the provision of Regulations for the making and sale of bread, and for preventing the adulteration of meal, flour, and bread."

This Bill has for its object to repeal provisions contained in existing Acts, which, under present circumstances, constitute a real hindrance to the proper administration of the law. By the Bread' Acts of 1822 and 1836, both of which cover London and the country generally, it is provided that it shall be illegal to mix with flour any other flour, the object being to prevent the practice of adulterating wheat flour with other cereals to the prejudice of persons who deal in them. These Acts were passed at a time when there was no method of aerating except by introducing flour or yeast. The position altered entirely when self-raising flour was invented, and from that time-forward the provisions of the Bread Acts were lost sight of. They came under attention again in connection with an inter-Departmental Committee which sat last year, and since that time they have been the subject of much discussion in certain circles in connection with the self-raising flour industry.

I am asking the permission of the House to make these few observations on this Bill in order that the House, should it give me leave to introduce it, may be good enough to allow the Measure to go through its remaining stages without any opposition or criticism except in regard to any verbal Amendments which may be necessary. There have been recent discussions between millers and bakers as to the purity of flour, and in that connection it has been found desirable that certain obstacles associated with this obsolete enactment. should be removed. It is an offence punishable by fine for anyone to possess, or sell, or expose for sale self-raising flour. Hon. Members know that in every household in the land and in every baker's shop this offence is now being Committed, and a common informer may recover a penalty not exceeding£20 by giving the necessary information. Hon. Members will understand the serious results that might be produced if prosecutions were enforced, and unless this Bill goes through it may be that needy gentlemen will undertake the business connected with that of common informers in this connection whereby a lucrative living may be obtained without undue expenditure. The Clauses of the Bill which I propose to introduce with the leave of the House have received the assent of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, and have been carefully drafted to preserve his powers under the Adulteration of Food and Drugs Act. Those powers will be preserved intact and confirmed and strengthened, and the only result of my Bill will be to get rid of obsolete and objectionable provisions, and to make it easier to prosecute those who attempt to adulterate wheat flour. I hope, therefore, that leave will be given to introduce the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Inskip, Sir William Pearce, Mr. Clynes, Mr. George Roberts, Sir Godfrey Collins, Mr. Hailwood, and Mr. Waterson.