HC Deb 17 May 1938 vol 336 cc190-1
1. Mr. T. Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that during the year 1937, out of 354 test samples of milk taken by the health authorities in the city of Aberdeen, 95 were found to be adulterated; whether this adulteration is the highest percentage in the large burghs of Scotland; and that similar test samples of milk taken in the county of Aberdeen disclosed adulteration of over 56 per cent. of the samples taken; whether this is the highest ratio of adulteration among the counties of Scotland; and whether he can give any reason for this state of affairs?

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Lieut.-Colonel Colville)

In the case of the city of Aberdeen, the 354 test samples referred to—which are not formal samples taken for the purposes of the Food and Drugs Acts—included 208 samples taken from a single herd at its owner's request; and 87 out of the total of 95 samples found to be under standard were from this herd. In the case of the county of Aberdeen, the test samples in question were taken with the object of securing improvement in the quality of the milk from byres where formal samples already taken for the purposes of the Acts had been found to be under standard. In neither case, therefore, can a valid comparison with other areas be made.

Mr. Johnston

Does not the Secretary of State think that there is something seriously wrong when, in a county area, suppliers of milk are discovered to have 56 per cent. of the samples taken adulterated? Is not that the highest percentage in all Scotland?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

My answer indicates that there are special circumstances attaching to this case.

Sir Douglas Thomson

Could my right hon. and gallant Friend give the figures for the official samples, as distinguished from the informal samples?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

Not without notice.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Has the Secretary of State any reason to suppose that adulteration of milk is prevalent throughout Scotland to an extent such as this?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

No, Sir; I do not think there is any information to support that general statement.

3. Mr. Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why, during the year 1937, no test samples of milk were taken for analysis in the counties of Bute, Caithness, Orkney, Renfrew, Ross and Cromarty, and Zetland or in the burghs of Ayr, Coatbridge, and Dumfries; and whether he is satisfied that there was no occasion or necessity for causing any test samples of milk to be taken in these areas?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

Although no test samples were taken in areas referred to, formal sampling under the Food and Drugs Acts was carried out. The Food and Drugs Acts do not impose on local authorities any duty to take test samples, although most local authorities take such samples as a means of ascertaining where formal sampling is called for, or of assisting producers to detect the reasons why their milk is not up to the standard. An examination of the sampling reports for 1937 is being made by the Department of Health with a view to asking local authorities to increase their sampling activities where this appears necessary.

Sir Edmund Findlay

Cannot that be made more definite, so that it shall be a requirement that local authorities shall test milk?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

When the examination to which I have referred is finished, we shall see whether further steps are desirable in that direction.