HC Deb 10 May 1983 vol 42 cc758-9

Motion made and Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Mark Hughes (Durham)

In the Minister's very full reply to the Second Reading Debate, she did not say whether she had taken on board the manuscript amendment which proposed that clause 1 regulations be made in accordance and consonant with the Food and Drugs Act. If that was included in the Bill so that the dairy industry was absolutely clear that regulations made under the Bill were wholly consonant for importation with the regulations under which they had to work, many of their misgivings would be set at rest.

While I do not wish to delay the Committee, I must ask the Minister to give a rather more positive assurance on that important, although technical, point.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I wish to repeat my intervention in the Minister's excellent reply to the Second Reading debate. Is there any way in which the milk industry of Britain—the distributors, producers and processors —can be assured that any milk that enters Britain has been monitored at the far end—that is, before it arrives here—to ensure that it meets the standards that must be met by those who produce, process and distribute milk in Britain?

Like the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes), I am not in any way being awkward. We want to see the speedy passage of the Bill to expedite other measures to be debated later. However, my hon. Friend the Minister was somewhat circumspect in her response to my intervention. I appreciate that she had not had an opportunity to check with her advisers on the exact position. If she can now give an assurance that there will be adequate monitoring procedures on the other side of the channel—or on the other side of the Irish sea, as the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) might observe—I am confident that the Bill will be expedited without further delay. However, we need that assurance, which will help the producers, the distributors and the processors. It will also help Conservative Members.

Mrs. Fenner

It is not appropriate to limit the Bill in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes). The powers are best left wide and general.

I can only reiterate to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) what I hoped I had previously made clear, which is that the discussions will take place before the regulations, and will no doubt contain the points made by him.

Mr. Eric Deakins (Waltham Forest)

If a consignment of milk comes into Britain under the terms of the Bill, and samples are taken for testing, will the consignment be held up pending the results of the tests, or, as is usual, will the test samples go to a laboratory with a wait of perhaps two or three days—I hope it may be shorter than that— while the remainder of the milk is dispatched, distributed and possibly sold? Can the hon. Lady give some reassurance on that point?

I think that it is an offence under clause 1 if somebody knowingly imports contaminated milk. However, if somebody sells contaminated milk knowing it to be contaminated, that does not appear to be an offence under the clause, but it may be an offence under other legislation.

Mrs. Fenner

Consignments can, if appropriate, be held up. As for the legal point about knowingly importing contaminated milk, I shall need to take advice on that and write to the hon. Gentleman so that he has a comprehensive answer.

Mr. Deakins

Will the Minister also let me know about the sale of contaminated milk? As I say, importing it appears to be covered by the clause, and knowingly to sell contaminated milk, while not covered by the clause, may come under, for example, the 1955 legislation on food and drugs.

Mrs. Fenner

I will let the hon. Gentleman know about that too.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause I ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 58 (Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

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