HL Deb 22 June 1915 vol 19 cc84-6

My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether the Home Office has had its attention called to the case of Mr. Turner, of Clays Hill Farm, Lavenham, who, though not convicted, was ordered to pay 9s. as costs; whether the milk taken from a can in the presence of a Police Inspector was certified by the analyst to contain 5¾ per cent. of added water.


My Lords, I will give the reply which has been furnished me by the Department. The attention of the Home Office was directed to the case of Mr. Turner by the British Dairy Farmers Association, who made an application that the costs might be remitted. Their communication, however, did not contain, as it professed to do, any report of what passed at the hearing, so that the Home Office is not in possession of the facts of the case and it has no information as to the last point mentioned in the noble Lord's Question. As regards the question of costs, it may be observed in the first place that it is not unusual for a defendant who is not technically convicted to be ordered to pay costs. Under Section 1 of the Probation Act, 1907, Courts of Summary Jurisdiction have power, in cases where they consider that a charge is proved but that there are mitigating circumstances, formally to dismiss the charge but at the same time, under subsection (3), to make an order for the payment of reasonable costs by the defendant. Secondly, the question of costs is entirely within the discretion of the magistrates, and the Secretary of State has no power to remit them.


My Lords, I gather from the noble Earl's answer that he has not been able to go into the question of the form of certificate of analysis adopted by the Home Office. Perhaps he will be so good as to inquire of the Department whether it would not be possible to state the result of an analysis in different terms from those which are in use at the present moment. It is evident in this particular case, if the facts are as stated, that no water was added; yet the certificate of analysis states that water was added. I am given to understand by public analysts that it is in accordance with the form at present laid down by the Home Office to certify that water has been added when the milk is below the standard laid down by the Regulations of the Board of Agriculture, even although as a matter of fact no water may have been added. It seems ridiculous, too, when a prosecution takes place in respect of milk in which fat is below 3 per cent., that the certificate should state that fat had been abstracted, whereas no fat may have been abstracted. Again, it is laid down that there must be 8.5 per cent. of solids. In the same way, where the solids are below that figure the certificate of analysis states that water has been added, whereas in a great many eases no scientific evidence can be given showing any ground for this statement. I submit that the certificate should state simply that the milk was deficient in fat or deficient in solids. Perhaps the noble Earl will inquire into the matter. I am sure he will see what a difference this would make to the unfortunate farmer, who, where milk supplied by him is below the prescribed standard owing to the poverty of the milk, is now wrongfully accused of having added water to it deliberately.


I will, with pleasure, communicate to the Home Office the substance of what the noble Lord has said, and let him have a reply.

House adjourned at Five o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.