HC Deb 11 November 1954 vol 532 cc1480-2
Mr. Mitchison

I beg to move, in page 2, line 22, to leave out Clause 2.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps it would be convenient to discuss at the same time the next Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman: In page 2, line 41, at end, insert: (3) Proceedings shall not be taken under section three of the principal Act in respect of such a breach of condition as is mentioned in sections twenty-five and twenty-six of the Food and Drugs (Milk, Dairies and Artificial Cream) Act, 1950.

Mr. Mitchison

Yes, Mr. Speaker. The discussion can be brief. This was a rather complicated point raised at an earlier stage and the Parliamentary Secretary sent to me a full explanation of his reasons for being unable to accept the second Amendment. I agree with his reasons. I believe that he proposes to say what those reasons are, and if he will do that I give him the opportunity now.

Mr. G. Darling

I beg to second the Amendment.

Dr. Hill

We are now dealing with the case where an offence under the 1950 Act is dealt with, or required to be dealt with, under Section 3 of the 1938 Act, if it is covered by that section. I will not—and the hon. and learned Gentleman knows why—weary the House with the extensive arguments that I put in my letter to him, but I will give what I think is the essence of them.

There is an offence in the case we are now examining under Section 3 of the 1938 Act. There it is alleged that there has been sold to the prejudice of the purchaser a food or drug not of the nature, quality or substance demanded. In this case it is something that arises out of a breach of the conditions set out in the Fourth Schedule of the 1950 Act. It is argued that when there is a breach of the 1950 Act and that breach also falls within Section 3 of the 1938 Act, the former should be used.

Our attitude is that we would find very great difficulty in saying, in respect of an offence alleged to come within Section 3, that in one case Section 3 should be used and in another it should not. The Section of the 1950 Act refers to specified areas, and it would mean that a dairyman in one area would be differently treated from a dairyman in another. Dairymen would be treated differently from butchers, grocers or anyone else. We feel that it is essential to sustain the argument that the dairymen, in respect of this matter, should not be treated differently from anyone else.

As the hon. and learned Gentleman will remember, a particular illustration of the difficulty was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Higgs). He said that there might be a breach or a failure to observe the conditions in a pasteurising process—a mere technical fault in a machine that led to the substance not being of the nature, quality and so on demanded. Why should that, he argued, come within Section 3, or be required to come within Section 3, of the Act of 1938? It is also true that, for example, in the butcher's machine for the manufacture of sausages the same would apply.

Though we have considered the matter, as I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman and my hon. Friend will realise, with the greatest of care, we feel that we must adhere to the position that offences in this category, of selling to the prejudice of the customer something not of the nature, substance or quality demanded, should be dealt with under Section 3, despite the difficulties that it creates in the case of the specified area.

Mr. Mitchison

I have given the hon. Gentleman an opportunity of putting himself right, not only with me but with the rather puzzled dairymen. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.