HL Deb 01 August 1899 vol 75 cc998-1002

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 1:—


I move to leave out the word "separated" on line 17, and to substitute "machine-skimmed," as the words to be printed on all receptacles containing condensed, separated, or skimmed milk. I stated the other day that it was only milk separated by a machine-separator that we wished to deal with in this way.

Amendment moved— In page 1, line 17, to leave out 'separated,' and insert 'machine-skimmed.'"—(Viscount Cross).

Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 2 to 7 agreed to.

Clause 8.

Drafting Amendments agreed to.


I wish to associate myself with my noble friend the Earl of Kimberley, in the speech which he made last night with regard to this clause. I cannot understand exactly what the clause is intended to do. The Bill does not prohibit the manufacture of margarine, but this clause prevents its improvement, although that can be very materially done, and a large and growing industry depends upon it. I should have thought that by allowing the addition of butter we were encouraging one of the industries of this country. Many people believe this Bill is intended to encourage the sale and production of butter, and, if so, I cannot understand why this clause is inserted restricting the amount of butter fat to be mixed with margarine to 10 per cent. I feel that this is a most improper way of dealing with this question, and one which cannot be justified. If I had any chance of success I should certainly be disposed to move the omission of the clause.


I am afraid there is some misapprehension on this point. The law at present is that margarine, if you do put butter into it, must be sold as margarine, and as margarine alone. Therefore, as margarine only commands a very small price in the market, there is nothing to be gained by a person putting more butter than is necessary into it, because ho will get nothing for it. This clause, to a certain extent, rather protects the manufacturer than otherwise. The real object of the clause is to prevent fraud, which, despite the Margarine Act of 1887, is carried on to such an extent that one of the witnesses before the Select Committee stated that 75 per cent, of what is known as margarine is sold with a slight mixture of butter as butter, and obtains butter prices. We agree that margarine is a wholesome and valuable article of food, but the practice undoubtedly has been to put a larger amount of butter in margarine than would be the case if it were to be sold as margarine. The Act of 1887 does not allow it to be sold as a mixture, and the consumer is led to believe that it is butter, and is charged 8d., 10d., and as much as Is. per pound for it. We want to protect the consumer, who, if he wants margarine, should be able to buy margarine, but who, if he wants butter, should not be cheated to the extent he is at present.


I do not quite follow the arguments of the noble Viscount. I do not see how, in point of fact, this clause will prevent fraud. What it will prevent is the preparation of a better article of margarine which could be sold as mixed margarine and butter. I do not see why a mixed article of margarine and butter should not be allowed to be made and sold for what it really is, just as various other mixed articles are made and sold for what they really are. If it be the case that the Act of 1887 prohibits the mixture of butter with margarine, I think it is a great pity that Act was not amended, because the object no doubt is that margarine should be sold as margarine, butter as butter, and margarine mixed with butter as such. I remember Mr. Colman coming to me when the original Act was passed. He showed me five pots. He said one contained pure mustard, and the others mustard mixed with various things. The pots containing the mixed mustard were labelled to that effect, and Mr. Colman informed me that he sold very little pure mustard and a considerable quantity of mixed mustard. I do not see why, in the case of butter and margarine, a mixture should not be allowed. You not only by this Act discourage the use of margarine, but you also discourage the use of butter, because the more butter that is mixed with margarine the better it is for the butter producers.


I am afraid the noble Earl has not had time to read the evidence of the Committee which sat for three years on this subject—


I am afraid I have not.


That Committee came unanimously to the conclusion that any such mixture, liable as it is to the promotion of fraud, should be prohibited. In view of that Report, and the manner in which the Bill has been sifted in the other House, I trust your Lordships will accept the conclusion to which I think the Government have wisely come.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clauses 9 to 13 agreed to.

Amendment moved— To insert, after Clause 13, the following new clause: 'The provisions of Section 3 and Section 4 of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act Amendment Act, 1879 (relating to the taking of samples of milk in course of delivery), shall apply to every other article of food, provided that no samples shall be taken under this section except upon the request or with the consent of the purchaser or consignee."—(Viscount Cross.)

Amendment agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 18 agreed to.

Clause 19:—

Drafting Amendments agreed to.

Amendment moved— In page 8, at the end of the clause, to add the following Sub-section:—'(6) Every person who, in respect of an article of food or drug sold by him as principal or agent, gives to the purchaser a false warranty in writing, shall be liable on summary conviction, for the first offence, to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds; for the second offence to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds; and for any subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the court that when he gave the warranty he had reason to believe that the statements or descriptions contained therein were true.'"—(Viscount Cross.)

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 20 agreed to.

Clause 21:—

Amendment moved— In page 8, at end to insert, as a new subsection: '(2) A copy of every such certificate shall be sent to the prosecutor at least three clear days before the return day, and if it be not so sent, the court may, if it thinks fit, adjourn the hearing on such terms as may seem proper'"—(Viscount Cross.)

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 amended and agreed to.

Bill reported with Amendments to the House.

Standing Committee negatived. The Report of Amendments to be received on Thursday next; Standing Order No. XXXIX. to be considered in order to its being dispensed with; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 192.)