§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
My Lords, I have an Amendment to move at this stage. It is to omit the proviso in Clause 1. Your Lordships will remember that in Committee I withdrew this Amendment at the suggestion of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, with the idea of endeavouring to find some way of getting rid of the difficulty with which we are confronted owing to the insertion in the Bill of this proviso, which is very much objected to by the Irish creameries. I am sorry to say that, though I have consulted with the noble Lord in charge of the Bill, we have not been able to find any way out of the difficulty, and therefore I am compelled to press this Amendment. I trust that in another place some alternative proviso may be agreed upon which will satisfy the Board of Trade and at the same time not render this Bill a contentious one.
Clause 1, page 1, lines 19 to 23, leave out ("Provided that in Great Britain the term 'Creamery' if applied to Irish butter shall not by reason of the foregoing provision be taken to be a false trade description unless there is also applied to the butter a description stating or indicating that the butter was made or manufactured in Ireland").— (Lord Plunket.)
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
My Lords, this subject was fully discussed yesterday when the Committee stage of the Bill was taken, and I do not think it is necessary to repeat the arguments which were then stated. I must say I regret very much the action of the noble Lord in seeking to delete this proviso. The only desire we have in inserting it is to protect the British salesman who quite inadvertently sells as creamery butter Irish creamery butter not made in a registered creamery. I sincerely hope that language may be discovered later which will satisfy all parties. I do not propose to trouble your Lordships to divide upon this Amendment, but I must say that we reserve to ourselves the right to reinsert it in another place if, as perhaps may be the case, some compromise is not reached. My noble friend Lord Lucas is in his place, and I hope he will give your Lordships the benefit of the view entertained on this subject by the Board of Agriculture.
THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (LORD LUCAS)
My Lords, this is an Irish Bill and one which does not affect our Department, except that we have in this particular case to safeguard as far as we can the interests of English traders who are concerned. I can assure the noble Lord opposite that we will do everything we possibly can to assist the interests he has at heart. We fully realise what admirable institutions these creameries are, and we wish that we could have had the same success in this country in starting co-operative creameries. We do not wish to do anything to injure Irish creameries, but at the same time the matter has to be looked at from the point of view of the English trader. With the best will in the world towards Irish creameries it is a little difficult to give them a monopoly in the word "creamery." Ireland is by no means the only place which has creameries. We have creameries here; and a great deal of creamery butter comes into this country from abroad. Unless the trader can be perfectly certain of the country of origin, which is not always easy, it would be impossible for him, if this Amendment is agreed to, to call butter "creamery butter" at all; or, if he does, he runs the risk of its being discovered to have come from an Irish creamery and then he lays himself open to the penalties in the Bill. It is hard on the English trader that it should be necessary for him in all cases to trace the origin of the creamery butter he sells. Therefore, while we are prepared to go a good way to meet the objects of the promoters of this Bill, we think that what the noble Lord is asking for in his Amendment is pushing the thing a little too far. May I add this word of warning? As far as we know, the Bill is accepted by all parties in Ireland, but I do not think English traders have been consulted on the measure. It is difficult to prophesy, but there is a strong probability that if the noble Lord's Amendment is agreed to there will be mobilised against this Bill a very strong body of opinion on the part of the traders of this country which would seriously endanger the prospects of the Bill passing into law.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
When this matter was discussed last night we were left under the impression that the further consideration of it was to be 701 delayed for a few days so as to give us ampler opportunity of going into the merits of the question. For some reason best known to the parties another decision has been arrived at, and the Bill comes on again this evening. We remain of opinion that my noble friend who moved this Amendment was able to show a strong case in favour of it. He was able to tell the House that agricultural opinion in Ireland, and not only agricultural opinion but official opinion in Ireland, is solid in favour of the omission of this proviso, which if it were allowed to remain in the Bill would, in the opinion of those concerned in the creamery industry, open a door to serious abuse. That is the prima facie view of the case and it appeals very strongly to me. The noble Lord opposite is able to suggest that there may be hard cases on the other side. That is possibly so. But in the meantime I am inclined to think that, having regard to the great weight of opinion behind my noble friend's Amendment, the better course will be to delete the proviso. That will not at all prevent the further consideration of the point, and we shall all, I have no doubt, be well pleased if some compromise which will meet the views of both parties is arrived at before the Bill becomes law.
I should like to say that the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society fully appreciates that the Board of Trade may have an excellent case, but this proviso has been drawn up in a way which cannot satisfy Irish creameries. The noble Lord opposite stated that the Bill was agreed to by practically all parties in Ireland. It is agreed to generally by all parties, but not with this proviso. There is not one single co-operative creamery that we have heard from—and we have heard from a great many—which is not opposed to this proviso. We are most ready to work with the Board of Trade in this matter if we can, and if the proviso is deleted now we hope that before the Bill comes up for Second Reading in another place we may be able to find some way out of the difficulty which will satisfy all parties.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Bill to be read 3a To-morrow, and to be printed as amended. (No. 131.)