HC Deb 07 April 1932 vol 264 cc325-35

I beg to move, in page 24, line 25, at the end, to insert the words: 'Bread' means the article produced by baking flour together with water and salt fermented with yeast, without the addition of any other substance, so, however, that no such article shall 'be deemed to be bread unless it is in the form of a loaf weighing not less than fourteen ounces. This Amendment is necessary to define bread, and is consequential upon the Amendment already made to Clause 3, page 7, line 14, and arises out of the arrangement made to meet the case of bread exported from Northern Ireland.


This, I think, is the first time that there has been an official definition of bread. This definition is, no doubt, right as far as it goes, but, like everything else connected with the Bill, it is out-of-date. Bread in the original sense certainly did consist of a mixture of flour, water and salt which was fermented with yeast and then baked. But I do not know of any baker to-day in this country who bakes bread consisting of those ingredients only. Every baker, so far as I am aware, puts into his dough some malt extract, or some what is called "bread improver," which contains malt extract of some description. Not only do all the great wholesale firms use this material, but every baker in a back street to-day would be unable to sell his bread unless he added these materials. I have never come across or heard in recent times of any baker whatsoever who failed to put in either an improver of this description or some malt product. This is done, of course, first of all to improve the flavour of the bread, and, secondly, to give a kind of glassiness, glossiness or silkiness to it, and to help to make the bread moist.

Apparently the bread that is universally made and sold in this country will not legally be bread if this description is enacted, and certainly the ordinary baker who supplies to an overseas vessel, vessels in docks and so on, bread as arranged for in this Bill, will not be entitled to any rebate or allowance as the Minister really intends. Not only so, but we have in London and in all the great ports a very considerable business done in supplying bread to sea-going vessels for ships' stores and so forth. The great transatlantic liners and big passenger boats have their own bakeries on board and buy flour in bulk. Practically the whole of the cargo boats and all boats doing European trade, when they come into the Port of London purchase their bread supplies here. The German boats which come into our big ports, and all the Baltic boats which convey timber here, all purchase their bread supplies in London. Some of them have contracts with big wholesale firms. The smaller boats purchase their bread from local bakers in the vicinity of the docks. Everyone who has travelled on the Continent knows that it is the custom in Europe to put caraway seeds either on or in the bread. In some cases poppy seeds are preferred to caraway seeds, and it is the case that the German, Scandinavian and Dutch boats all practically insist on caraway seeds being put with the bread they purchase here.

If by this definition you are going to say that no bread shall receive a rebate that contains only flour, salt, water and yeast, then you are going to exclude a number of bakers from the benefits of the rebate. It aims a not inconsiderable blow at a very lucrative trade. I cannot speak as to the conditions in other ports, but I do know what is going on in the Port of London, and that thousands of vessels come into the London docks every year practically all of them drawing their bread supplies here, and that the total involved will be considerable. The definition, as I say, is quite out-of-date and ought to be revised. From our point of view it is so unsatisfactory, that we propose to vote against the Minister's proposal, unless he gives a very definite undertaking that in another place the definition will be revised and brought up more in accordance with modern conditions.


Really, I think that this definition is the final insult to this House. We have done our best throughout the course of these proceedings to try to assist the right hon. Gentleman to make this Bill have some meaning, land to correct the English, at least to some extent. Now we find, at the last minute, a definition of bread which might have come out of some 18th century document suddenly injected into the tail of the Bill. Surely, the right hon. Gentleman has some reason for the legislation he brings forward, and is not going to allow a Bill to go with this sort of thing to be torn into ribbons in another place. Does the right hon. Gentleman want this House to be exposed to the ridicule of another place, saying how ignorant and inept we are when we produce legislation of this kind? But look at the wording of the Amendment! The Lord President of the Council is in his place, and I am sure that he will pay some attention to this sentence because he is a purist in the English language; and perhaps he will be able to assist us in putting this Amendment into the right form of English. Apart altogether from the scientific definition, it is desirable to have 'a few English words strung together in the right order in an Act of Parliament. It says: Bread is the article"— Bread is not the article, it is the substance produced by the baking. It is when you come to the loaf of bread that you come to the article— produced by baking flour together with water and salt fermented with yeast. Has the right hon. Gentleman ever heard of salt being fermented with yeast? The Amendment proceeds: without the addition of any other substance. The hon. Member for Bermondsey West (Dr. Salter) has referred to what is common knowledge, which does not require any scientific training, that nowadays bread always contains something besides flour, water, and salt and yeast. Everyone knows that it contains fats, dried milk, milk phosphates, self-raising ingredients and special substances to give it self-raising properties. None of them are in the category of the Amendment, and, therefore, if you get bread which has one-tenth of milk extract in it it is not legally bread. It is really a most preposterous definition. It goes on: No such article shall be deemed to be bread unless it is in the form of a loaf weighing not less than fourteen ounces. The right hon. Gentleman may know but I cannot call to mind any legal definition of a loaf. According to this defini- tion, bread is not to be bread unless it is in the form of a loaf. Does that mean that it must be a square loaf, or a round loaf; a long loaf or a short loaf? Can he tell us what is the meaning of the word "loaf" in law? The Amendment says that it must not be less than 14 ounces. There is a requirement of law in this country that a loaf must not be less than 16 ounces. Here the right hon. Gentleman is deliberately attempting to get people to infringe the law by baking a loaf of 14 ounces instead of 16 ounces. Really, I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw this Amendment or get a proper definition put in the Bill in another place, otherwise we shall have to vote against it.


The hon. and learned Member is, of course, at liberty to poke fun at the Bill, but this definition has been arrived at after the closest consultation with the representatives of the organised trade. There is a definition of the loaf in existence, and nothing we are doing here to-day alters that definition. The fact, however, is that the definition of a loaf in England is different from the definition of a loaf in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The weight of the customary loaf in England, under the Bread Act, is 16 ounces, but in Scotland and in Northern Ireland it is 14 ounces. The hon. Member for Bermondsey West (Dr. Salter) raised the question of the addition of malt and other flour raising ingredients. The definition of "flour" includes substances such as improvers. As far as I am advised that really meets his point.


Does it cover caraway seeds?


No, and I am opposed to the inclusion of caraway seeds. I have deliberately excluded buns, rolls, biscuits, cakes and fancy breads which are relatively expensive. This is limited to bread of the most wholesome kind.


Why does the right hon. Gentleman exclude buns and rolls? Why should there not be an export trade of buns and rolls? Our sailors are just as much entitled to have them as people on shore. The hon. and learned Member for Bristol East (Sir S. Cripps) is rather hard on the Minister of Agriculture. He is making a brave attempt to put into operation a system of tariffs. Drawbacks will mean more officials. There is a great deal of unemployment in London at the moment, and if this policy goes through we shall have to have a lot of extra officials who will have to say whether the bread exported comes within the definition of a loaf. The right hon. Gentleman is to be commended for his brave attempt to put into operation something of the practice of foreign countries in working a system of protection.


I should like to make an appeal to the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), who is a chief authority on grammar in this House, and ask him to give us his views on the correct grammatical construction of the first line of this Amendment. It says: Bread means the article produced by baking flour together with water and salt fermented with yeast. Subject to what the Noble Lord might say, I should have thought that it was the flour which was fermented with yeast and not the water and salt. This is very sloppy drafting, and as the Noble Lord is in his place, I hope he will come to our assistance.


We have heard a great deal about the drafting of this Amendment but it must be remembered that it takes a little while for the officials to get out of the bad habits they formed during the last administration. The hon. and learned Member for Bristol East (Sir S. Cripps) seems to be a little worried about the meaning of the Amendment. I am not going to explain it to him, because I realise that there are some people to whom it is impossible to give an explanation and other people who do not want to have an explanation. The hon. and learned Member complained that "the article" in the Amendment means the loaf and not the bread. He knows perfectly well what loaf means, but such is the quality of his memory that having advised the Government to put in the word "loaf" a few moments later he was attacking the Minister of Agriculture when the right hon. Gentleman said that the hon. and learned Member had forgotten what loaf meant. That form of opposition ought not to worry us very much. Their speeches are always of that kind. They contradict themselves in every speech in about five minutes. Really it is not fair to abuse the Minister of Agriculture, who has given an immense amount of information during the progress of this Bill, simply because the Opposition themselves seem to be totally destitute of any memory as to their own speeches.


We have listened to some experts on the meaning of these words. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) knows more about loafers than he does about loaves. We stand for the rights of the common people to get a loaf of bread under the conditions under which they have been accustomed to get it. Apparently, we are going to have a new loaf of 14 ounces to the lb. When the ordinary working man's wife goes to the shop she is to be robbed of two ounces of bread—[Interruption]—and it becomes legal. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, it will. I know that nothing hon. Members opposite do will ever be illegal. They can rob the people every time and all the time.


It does not say 14 ounces to the 1b.


It means that the workers will not get the two ounces to which they are entitled. I can quite understand hon. Members opposite getting up on public platforms and saying that it means what it does not mean. It only means that lawyers will be able to get hold of a job. There are some honest lawyers left, but very few. Hon. Members opposite know a great deal more about them than I do because they belong generally to their class. I heard one the other day talking on another

subject and he was trying to prove that black was white. Then a second lawyer got up and contradicted the first, although they both belonged to the same party. I do not want to argue legal matters but I do want to say that you cannot make a 14 1b. loaf into a 16 1b. loaf. [Interruption.] As far as the workers are concerned it will mean less bread to them and millions of pounds out of their pockets. I wonder what ingredients go to make up the minds of hon. Members opposite. Yeast mostly, but most of them will go west at the next election. I speak for those who do not know the technical meaning of the words which hon. Members opposite use. I do not understand what the Noble Lord opposite understands; but he knows all about it.


I do not know why hon. Members opposite should attack me because I have taken no part in the Debate. I have not even smiled.


We have a great admiration for the Noble Lord because he always provides us with food for thought, if not for reflection. This Bill is a deliberate attempt to benefit one section of the community at the expense of the great consuming public. That is its real object, however much you may try to explain it away in terms of legal phraseology. The fact remains that the Bill is intended to take something from the pockets of the consumers. You cannot give a subsidy without taking it from someone.


The hon. Member must confine his remarks to the Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 46.

Division No. 147.] AYES. [4.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Boulton, W. W. Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm
Albery, Irving James Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Caporn, Arthur Cecil
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Boyce, H. Leslie Carver, Major William H.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Castle Stewart, Earl
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Briant, Frank Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Broadbent, Colonel John Chalmers, John Rutherford
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Brocklebank, C. E. R. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Brown, Ernest (Leith) Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)
Beaumont, Hon. R.E. B.(Portsm'th, C.) Browne, Captain A. C. Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)
Bernays, Robert Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Chotzner, Alfred James
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Burghley, Lord Clarke, Frank
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Burnett, John George Clarry, Reginald George
Blinded, James Cadogan, Hon. Edward Clayton, Dr. George C.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Rathbone, Eleanor
Colfox, Major William Philip Hurd, Percy A, Rea, Walter Russell
Collins, Sir Godfrey Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Colville, John Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Conant, R. J. E. Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Cooke, Douglas Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip
Cooper, A. Duff Kerr, Hamilton W. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Kimball, Lawrence Robinson, John Roland
Craven-Ellis, William Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Crooke, J. Smedley Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Rosbotham, S. T.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Ross, Ronald D.
Crossley, A. C. Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Law, Sir Alfred Rothschild, James A. de
Dalkeith, Earl of Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Leech, Dr. J. W. Runge, Norah Cecil
Davison, Sir William Henry Lees-Jones, John Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Denville, Alfred Levy, Thomas Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Liddall, Walter s. Salmon, Major Isidore
Drewe, Cedric Lindsay, Noel Ker Salt, Edward W.
Duckworth, George A. V. Lloyd, Geoffrey Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Duggan, Hubert John Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd. Gr'n) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Eady, George H. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Eden, Robert Anthony Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Scone, Lord
Ednam, Viscount Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Lyons, Abraham Montagu Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Mabane, William Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Elmley, Viscount Mac Andrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick) Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Skelton, Archibald Noel
Emrys-Evans, P. V. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Macdonald, Capt. p. D. (I. of W.) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare McKie, John Hamilton Soper, Richard
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Falle, Sir Bertram G. McLean, Major Alan Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Fermoy, Lord Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Flint, Abraham John Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Magnay, Thomas Stewart, William J.
Fox, Sir Gifford Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Stones, James
Fraser, Captain Ian Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Strauss, Edward A.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Fuller, Captain A. G. Marsden, Commander Arthur Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Ganzoni, Sir John Martin, Thomas B. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Gibson, Charles Granville Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Gillett, Sir George Masterman Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Sutcliffe, Harold
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Meller, Richard James Tate, Mavis Constance
Gledhill, Gilbert Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Templeton, William P.
Glossop, C. W. H. Milne, Charles Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham). Thompson, Luke
Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Goff, Sir Park Moreing, Adrian C Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Muirhead, Major A. J. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Gower, Sir Robert Munro, Patrick Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Train, John
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Tryon, Rt. Hon, George Clement
Grimston, R. V. Normand, Wilfrid Guild Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. North, Captain Edward T. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Nunn, William Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Hales, Harold K. O'Connor, Terence James Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Wells, Sydney Richard
Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd) Palmer, Francis Noel Weymouth, Viscount
Hammersley, Samuel S. Patrick, Colin M. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Hanbury, Cecil Peake, Captain Osbert Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Pearson, William G. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Harris, Sir Percy Peat, Charles U. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Hartington, Marquess of Penny, Sir George Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle) Peters, Dr. Sidney John Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Petherick, M. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A, Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Womersley, Walter James
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Pickering, Ernest H. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Holdsworth, Herbert Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Hore-Belisha, Leslie Pownall, Sir Assheton Worthington, Dr. John V.
Hornby, Frank Pybus, Percy John Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Horobin, Ian M. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Horabrugh, Florence Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert-Ward and Commander Southby
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Ramsden, E.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Cape, Thomas
Attlee, Clement Richard Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Cocks, Frederick Seymour
Batey, Joseph Buchanan, George Cove, William G.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jenkins, Sir William Salter, Dr. Alfred
Daggar, George Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Thorne, William James
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross) Lawson, John James Wallhead, Richard C.
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, David (Swansea, East)
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McEntee, Valentine L. Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Grithffis, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Groves, Thomas E. Maxton, James
Grundy, Thomas W. Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr. John.
Hirst, George Henry Price, Gabriel

I beg to move, in page 24, line 32, at the end, to insert the words: 'Exporter,' in relation to any flour, means the person by whom or on whose behalf entry of the flour is made for exportation or shipment as stores and, in relation to any bread, means the person by whom or on whose behalf entry of the bread is made for exportation. This is consequential upon an Amendment which I moved to Clause 3, page 7, line 14, with regard to the refund of quota payments on flour in exported bread. As the Bill stands that Sub-section deals with flour. Now, the case of the export of bread having been dealt with as well, it is necessary to separate the definition of "exporter" from the definition of "importer," because the Bill has to deal with exports of both flour and bread.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 24, line 39, leave out the words "and 'exporter' mean, respectively," and insert instead thereof the word "means."

In page 24, line 42, leave out from the word "use," to the end of line 2, in page 25.—[Sir J. Gilmour.]