HL Deb 03 July 1922 vol 51 cc160-88

Order of the day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee—(The Earl of Onslow.)


A public engagement prevented my attendance in this House last Monday, and I therefore ask the indulgence of your Lordships in order to say a few words in respect of the Bill before going into Committee, seeing that I was very closely concerned with the protracted negotiations which led up to the framing of the Act of 1915 (which is, by this Bill, about to be suspended), and that I am a somewhat large producer of milk on a commercial basis. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me, first of all, to say how very much indebted I feel to the noble Earl opposite for his clear and lucid exposition of the Bill which I have had the pleasure of reading in the OFFICIAL BEPORT. Personally, I do not propose in any sense to oppose the Bill. It is clear to me that public opinion, whether wisely inspired or otherwise, demands a Milk Bill, but whether this Milk Bill, when passed, will succeed in satisfying public opinion, or whether it will turn out to be a measure of very great practical utility, I beg leave to doubt.

The Milk Bills of the past, none of which has yet been put into operation, have been framed from the farmers' point of view, and to some extent from the consumers' point of view, with the object of obtaining uniformity of legislation, and consequently of administration, with regard to milk. I should like seriously to ask the noble Earl whether we get uniformity under this measure. Does it not in fact perpetuate, and to some extent encourage, diversity of practice and administration rather than uniformity? Lord Strachie drew attention to the fact that there was on the Statute Book a considerable number of omnibus Acts, containing milk clauses, the operation of which was intended to be entirely superseded by the Consolidation Act of 1915. The noble Lord asked the noble Earl opposite what was intended to be the action of the Government in relation to these omnibus Acts of Parliament, because, unless something is done, there will be the same diversity of administration by local authorities, against which dairy farmers have declaimed, and with success, for many years past. But this diversity surely is accentuated by Clause 2, because Clause 2 is not mandatory but permissive. The practice of local authorities in regard to milk may vary, and undoubtedly will vary, very considerably. Some may be satisfied with a low standard of milk in respect to dirt and disease, and others may insist upon an exceptionally high standard, guided probably by an active, and possibly dictatorial, medical officer of health.

Moreover, the Bill appears to assume that Section 34 of the Diseases of Animals Act (an Act, I think, of 1878) and the Dairy, Cowsheds, and Milkshops Order of 1885, which was issued under it, and which, in fact, compels all milk retailers to be registered, are universally enforced. It is common knowledge among milk producers, as among milk retailers, that the Milkshops Order is not being enforced. Although under the Order every retailer is bound to be registered, as a matter of fact he is not. In many parts of the country there is no registration at all. Seeing that the Order of 1885 in this respect is largely a dead letter, when Clause 2 comes into operation the Bill, so far as this important provision is concerned, will surely have no effect over a large part of the country. You cannot remove from the register, as contemplated by Clause 2, persons who are not on the register. That applies, I believe, to at least half the milk retailers of this country. Does the noble Earl contemplate the universal enforcement of this Order as a condition precedent to this Bill being put into effective operation? If not, the legislation will be even more piecemeal in its operation than it has been in the past.

I should like to draw the noble Earl's attention to the effect upon perfectly innocent milk producers of the operation of Clause 2. Clause 2 will have the effect in many cases of sentencing a man first and trying him after. Surely, where milk is under suspicion, the onus ought to be upon the local authorities, first of all, to give notice to the person who is alleged to have transgressed the law, and, after giving him notice, unless he acquiesces to apply to the magistrates in order to get that person removed from the register of milk retailers. It is a little hard that because the local authority, rightly or wrongly, suspects a certain farmer or other person retailing milk of selling milk which contains either dirt or disease germs, that person should at once suffer the entire discontinuance of his milk supply, and, no doubt, suffer a diminution of his possibly good reputation, until such time as the magistrates are able to hear an application, not from the local authority, but from him on appeal from a possibly capricious decision of such local authority. What I would suggest is that the only fair way of dealing with this matter is that the local authority should give a written notice of its intention to remove an alleged offending person from the register, and that subsequently, if he objects to accept their decision, the local authority itself should apply to the magistrates for the removal of such person from the register. Otherwise, a quite innocent milk retailer may suffer a serious injustice.

I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, is interested in obtaining power over the activities of the milk wholesaler. That may or may not be desirable. So long as he has not got designs upon the dairy farmer I should travel a long way with him, but personally I feel very strongly that the wholesale interest in milk distribution is one which should in every way be discouraged. There are far too many middlemen in the milk industry to-day, and they are largely a parasitic growth, which operates to the detriment both of the producer and of the ultimate consumer. I wish that some legislation could be devised to secure only a limited profit on milk to one middleman only, so as to ensure some fairness of treatment to producer and consumer alike.

Criticism has been made of the last Milk and Dairies Act on the ground of the host of officials who will be set up. The noble Earl opposite has given as his chief reason for suspending the operation of that Act the fact that under this Bill a very small number of officials will be required, but I noticed that in his Second Reading speech he did not give the House any idea of the extent to which such a reduction would be possible after the passage of this Bill. I should rather like to learn from the noble Earl, if it is possible, as he estimates that the former Act, if put into operation, would have involved a cost of between £750,000 to £1,000,000 a year, whether he has formed any estimate of the cost of putting this Bill into operation when it becomes an Act of Parliament. If he has not, we are not in a position to judge of the relative values of the two legislative enactments.

Perhaps the noble Earl would allow me to remind him of the attitude which his distinguished father, who was for many years Chairman of Committees in this House, took on this question of liability regarding impure milk, and the setting up of a large number of officials. He always held the view—I for one most heartily supported him, and we travelled the same furrow for many years together on these subjects— that the retailer should only be made chargeable for the sale of dirty or diseased milk, and should have a right of indemnity as against the person who supplied him with that milk. Such a simple process as that would render quite unnecessary the whole host of officials sought to be set up under this or any other similar legislation. That is to say, you fine the retailer, possibly bring him under the Food and Drugs Act, and, if he chooses to seek redress as against the person who furnished him with the milk, well and good. But I why should the Ministry of Health or the general public seek to look further, or to look behind the retailer who actually sells such milk to the public? That, at any rate, was the line that the late Lord Onslow took on these, matters, and I have always held that it was the proper, and certainly the cheapest, line to take. It would undoubtedly safeguard the public and render unnecessary all this host of proposed officials, whose activities are bound to be meddlesome, so far, at any rate, as the dairy farmer is concerned.

I Although the Bill does not say so, I understand that when the standard of milk comes to be assessed by the Ministry of Health they are going to assess it solely on the number of bacteria or other micro-organisms which such milk may contain.


I do not think I gave any indication as to the exact nature of the Order. I said we were going to consult with the various interests concerned, but an Order for "Grade A" milk would be made sufficiently elastic or easy for any decent farmer to produce such milk.


Yes, but I imagine I the standard of milk is going to be judged solely by its liability to convey disease, and not on the basis of its capacity for nutrition, or otherwise upon its quality. I should like to point out to the noble Earl that we are the only civilised nation in the world that seeks to base the standard of milk merely upon its capacity to convey disease and not upon what is equally important—the percentage of butter fat that it contains. In this country milk is milk just as eggs are eggs, without any regard to the fact that to reach the legal standard milk need only contain 3 per I cent, of butter fat. Plenty of milk is put on the market by reputable persons with good cows, which has 5 per cent, of butter fat, and there is plenty of milk of a lower standard. That operates very unfairly against the dairy farmer all over the country, and it has the unfortunate result that town dairymen who are not very scrupulous are much tempted to mix, and in fact many of them do mix, milk containing a high percentage of butter fat—and that includes a large amount of milk which is very carefully produced under most hygienic conditions—with milk containing a low standard of butter fat which is not produced under such conditions, and the mixed product is sold to the public containing just the necessary minimum of butter fat and no more. I should like very much to see this Bill strengthened so as to put a stop to that practice which is not only unfair, but is, I think, very largely going to defeat the object of the noble Earl's Bill.

In the few words I am saying, I do not desire to comment upon this separation of milk into different classes described as "Certified," "Grade A," and "Pasteurised." But I venture to doubt very much whether this high quality milk at which the Ministry of Health is aiming will not, as the noble Lord, Lord Strachie, suggested, ultimately become the expensive luxury of the rich and be wholly unobtainable by the majority of the poor. And, so far as disease is concerned, I doubt whether the policy of the noble Earl, as expressed in this Bill, will not be found ultimately to be based on a complete misconception. It is noteworthy—I do not know whether the noble Earl's attention has been drawn to the fact—that the reduction in the prevalence of human consumption has proceeded concurrently with the increase of bovine tuberculosis. I suggest that if more milk were consumed, whether it contained bovine tubercle or not, the rate of reduction would be greatly accelerated.

There are eminent medical men in this country, including a distinguished doctor now sitting in the House of Commons, Dr. Nathan Raw, who hold the view that not merely the inoculation but the ingestion of the bacilli of bovine tuberculosis has actually immunized thousands of young children against the human disease and has had the effect, therefore, when bovine tuberculosis has been prevalent, of reducing the prevalence of human tuberculosis in this country. We may find, in that case, that legislation along the lines of this Bill is misleading and unfortunate. It will be interesting to know, and I rather suggest to the Ministry of Health that it is worth finding out, whether in those localities where "Certified" and "Grade A" milk is largely consumed human phthisis becomes less or more prevalent than it was before.

As regards Clause 5, it seems to me that the weakness of this clause, desirable as it is, no doubt, in putting a stop to the production of milk from animals that are visibly affected with tuberculosis of the udder, is that it is no one's business to put the clause into operation. You cannot have a common informer moving in such a matter, and it is very difficult to discover how ordinary cow byres are going to be entered by those whose business it is to put the law into motion and to prosecute the person having an obviously tuberculous cow. If that clause applies to tuberculosis of the udder, surely it ought equally to apply to animals which are visibly emaciated by tuberculosis and obviously yielding milk which is as tuberculous as that from a cow having a tuberculous udder.

I will not take up your Lordships' time further than to say that I regret this Bill, in one sense. I regret that the old Act has to be suspended in order to bring into force a Bill of this sort, because, obviously, it is a Bill of a piecemeal character and will not finally settle these difficult problems of ill-health arising from the consumption of dirty or diseased milk. It is clear that more drastic legislation will have to be proceeded to as the result of passing this.


May I remind this House, with the consent of your Lordships, that it is not in the ordinary course convenient that a noble Lord who has not been able to attend the Second Reading debate on a Bill should use the occasion of the Motion to go into Committee to make a very elaborate speech lasting some twenty-five minutes to half-an-hour on purely Second Reading topics. If the practice is persisted in I fail to see where it will end. The noble Lord was good enough to tell me that he was going to make a short speech, and when I asked him how long he thought it would take he said: "Five minutes." It is obvious that he was too sanguine. Either the topics dealt with by the noble Lord are capable of being dealt with, and are being dealt with, by Amendments in Committee, or they are not. If they are not being dealt with by Amendments in Committee the noble Lord's observations should be made on Third Reading. If they are capable of being dealt with by Amendments, they should be so dealt with.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL of DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Power to refuse registration of, or remove from register, retailers of milk.

2.—(1) Any local authority, by whom a register of purveyors of milk is kept under or in pursuance of any enactment in that behalf, may, if it appears to them necessary in the interests of the public health, refuse to register any person, being a retailer of milk, who seeks to be registered therein, or may remove any such person from the register either absolutely or in respect of any specified premises.

(2) Any person aggrieved by such refusal or removal may, within twenty-one days from the date thereof, appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction, and the court may, if satisfied that such refusal or removal is not necessary in the interests of the public health, make an order directing the local authority to register the person or restore him to the register as the case may be.

(3) The court before whom any person so Regis tered as aforesaid is convicted of any offence under the said Acts or any order or regulations made thereunder, may, on the application of the local authority, in addition to any other penalty, order the removal from the register of the person so convicted either absolutely or in respect of any specified premises for such period as the court may think fit.

LORD BLEDISLOE moved, in subsection (1), to substitute "shall" for the first "may." The noble Lord said: After the flagellation I have just received, of course I shall be most modest in putting my Amendments. As regards the first of them I only want to obtain uniformity by insisting that if any local authority acts in the matter all shall act. I want to substitute the word "shall" for the word "may."

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 15, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").—(Lord Bledisloe.)


Before proceeding to deal with the noble Lord's Amendment I should like to say one word. During the last week a number of representatives of the National Farmers' Union called to see me in regard to this clause. They discussed it at some length. They were not unanimous; in fact, they have not yet arrived at a definite opinion as to what they wished to do in regard to certain points which they raised. I suggested, as we had to take the Committee stage to-day, that when we came to the Amendment of the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, which was the only one on the Paper then, we should suggest the postponement of the consideration of this clause until Report. Since then Lord Bledisloe has put down the Amendment which he has just moved. I therefore suggest that we should discuss this matter, and I propose to accept most of his points, with the proviso that if the National Farmers' Union, the people who saw me, have any points to raise they should be given and brought up on Report stage. I propose with your Lordships' consent to take that course.

As regards the noble Lord's Amendment in line 15 I think the word "shall" is perhaps a little narrow and would not give the local authority that elasticity which it is desirable that it should have. On the other hand, the noble Lord has drawn attention, in his speech on the Motion to go into Committee, to the fact that there are some areas where the registration is not enforced. I gathered from what he said just now that this Amendment is designed to effect that. I rather doubt whether it will, and I should think that perhaps an amendment to give county councils wider powers would have a better effect. Perhaps the noble Lord will consider that. I do not wish to oppose the Amendment, but I think it is a little narrow.


I may say that I moved this Amendment after a long consultation with the Farmers' Union, but without getting their acquiescence to the exact terms of the Amendment, because there was not time. In the circumstances, so long as the noble Earl knows the point, I do not wish to press the Amendment at this stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Subject to the proviso which I stated in discussing the previous Amendment, I accept the next Amendment on the Paper.

Amendment moved— Page 1, lines 15 and 16, leave out ("if it appears to them necessary in the interests of the public health") and insert ("if they are satisfied that the public health is endangered by any act or default of his in relation to the quality, storage, or distribution of milk").—(Lord Bledisloe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD STRACHIE moved, in subsection (1), after "health," to insert "may apply through a court of summary jurisdiction for leave to." The noble Lord said: I hope the noble Lord is not going to say, with regard to these Amendments, that he has to consider what the opinion of the National Farmers' Union is. It is a very important body, I admit, but I rather deprecate the view that your Lordships are not to consider Amendments, or that the Government are not to give definite answers upon them, until they have consulted the National Farmers' Union. I would point out that there are other important bodies besides the National Farmers' Union which also are very largely interested in this question, such as the Central Landowners' Association. They are an important body, as your Lordships are aware, and they are very much interested in this Bill. I would also remind the noble Earl that as the Government insisted on putting this Bill down at an early date, there has not been time for it to be considered by the other bodies. I urged that consideration upon the Government at the time, pointing out that these bodies would wish to express their opinion; nevertheless, the Bill has been put down.

The Amendment which I am now moving, and which I hope the noble Earl will be inclined to accept, provides that before an authority has power to come in and practically to shut up a man's business they must get some authority from a court of summary jurisdiction. As the matter now stands in the Bill, they are both judge and jury. What would be the procedure of an ordinary local authority in this matter? No doubt, some of your Lordships have sat upon sanitary authorities, or rural district councils, and you know that what they will do in this matter will be simply this. They will have an official who will visit the farm of a man to be registered, or in regard to whom an application has been made for his licence to be revoked, if he is already on the register. That official will make his report to the local authority, and the local authority, in many cases, will simply take the report of the official who might have very extreme views as to the condition in which the premises to be registered ought to be.

All I am suggesting in this Amendment is that before a man is tried and condemned, practically by an official of a small sanitary authority, he should have notice that application is to be made to a court of I summary jurisdiction on the ground that he ought not to be registered, or that his licence ought to be revoked, because his premises are not in a proper condition and danger to the public health arises therefrom. It will be competent for the local authority to take those steps, and in the meantime the man will not be able to go on with his business. That will result merely from the ipse dixit of an official of the sanitary authority. That, I submit, is not fair. It is true that the man can appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction, but some courts meet only once a month, and others once a fortnight, and if an appeal to Quarter Sessions should be involved two or three months may elapse before the case is decided. During the whole of that time this unfortunate man has been condemned, without the evidence against him being sifted and adjudicated upon by a proper tribunal; the whole of his business is shut up, and he may be ruined.

It seems to me very unfair that a man should not have an opportunity of going before a Court of Justice and explaining his case before he is told that he must shut up his business. He may have hundreds of gallons of milk left on his hands, which he will not be able to sell, because of the stigma resting upon him that it is milk which would be prejudicial to the public health. There would be no compensation for him if this decision was ultimately reversed on an appeal to Quarter Sessions: In the meantime, his business would have been ruined. Even if compensation were provided, very often it would not meet the case. A man's business might be so ruined by such an imputation resting upon him for a time that no monetary compensation could meet the case. I hope, therefore, the noble Lord will accept this Amendment

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 16, after ("health") insert ("may apply to a court of summary jurisdiction for leave to").—(Lord Strachie.)


The noble Lord has misapprehended what I said just now. I did not mean that the National Farmers' Union were the only body to be consulted, but that they were the only people I had seen. If any other bodies—either the Central Landowners' Association or others—-have views to put forward, I suggest that they should be considered on Report. That was all I meant. As to the point raised in this Amendment, I think there is a slight misapprehension on the subject. It is not intended by the Bill, and by Lord Bledisloe's Amendment, when a local authority tells a man that lie must be removed from the register, and he appeals against that decision, that ipso facto he shall then cease to sell milk. I agree that that would be unfair. I think he should continue to sell his milk until it has been definitely decided that he should be removed from the register.

The suggestion of ray noble friend would make the procedure rather cumbersome, and would necessitate an application to the court before anything is done. Under the proposal of Lord Bledisloe, as I read it, the local authority serves a notice, and then, if the person is aggrieved, the local authority has to go and get an order. I think that meets the point. As a matter of fact, I have just had a draft made of an Amendment which I think covers the points of both noble Lords. It is too long to read to your Lordships now, and I do not think that it would be desirable to deal with it at this stage. Perhaps I may have an opportunity of consulting the two noble Lords on this draft form of words, which I am told meets the points of both of them. The matter can then come, up on Report.


I understand that the noble Earl objects only to the form and not to the principle of this Amendment?


I do not think it fair that a man should be put out of business pending his appeal.


Then perhaps I may withdraw my Amendment.


If the noble Lord agrees, we can move it in the form I suggest on Report.


I am prepared to take it on trust on those lines.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT ASTOR moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "retailer of milk" and insert "dairyman." The noble Viscount said: As I explained the other day on Second Reading, it seems to me that the clause as now drafted works unfairly, and in a rather lopsided manner. The clause affects the producer retailer, but it does not affect the wholesaler. In selecting the words which I have put on the Paper I took as my precedent a section of the Scottish Act of 1914—Section 7, subsection (1)—where the word "dairyman" is used in connection with registration. I also found a precedent in the 1915 English Act, Section 1, subsection 1 (a). In view of the fact that the English Act is being postponed, and that it is that Act which contains the definition of the word "dairyman." I see some difficulty in moving the Amendment as it appears on the Paper. It would be better draftsmanship to move that the words "being a retailer of milk" be omitted; but as the noble Earl is meeting representatives of the agricultural and dairy industry to discuss this and similar proposals it might perhaps suit your Lordships' convenience if I withdraw the Amendment now with a view of raising it on Report stage.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 17, leave out ("retailer of milk") and insert ("dairyman").—(Viscount Astor.)


I think I ought to say that I have carefully considered the Amendment and it would be wrong for me to hold out any hopes of being able to accept it. I know that the logical mind of the noble Viscount realises that all those engaged in the trade should be treated on the same footing and should be subject to the same procedure. In fact, they are subject to the same disabilities and restrictions. A former Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture took the view that control should begin at a point where the milk passed from the trade to the consumer. This Bill secures that, and by doing so it controls the trade backward through the wholesaler and producer. If a retailer sells milk for which it is proposed to take him off the register he will at once go back to the producer and say that he will not buy any more milk from him. If the producer is also a retailer then he comes under the Bill. If the producer also sells milk wholesale then he comes under the Bill, and will be taken off the register as a retailer, and it is unlikely that any wholesaler would buy milk from such a person. There are considerable administrative difficulties against accepting the suggestion of Lord Astor, and I hope he will not press it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My next two Amendments are consequential.

Amendments moved— Page 1, line 18, after ("may") insert ("decide to") Page 1, line 20, at end insert ("and shall thereupon serve upon him notice in writing of such refusal or decision, as the case may be").—(Lord Bledisloe.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


I do not know whether the noble Earl will treat my subsequent Amendments to this clause as consequential?


Yes, I agree to them.

Amendments moved— Page 2, line 1, at the beginning of subsection (2) insert ("if") Page 2, line 1, after ("person") insert ("be") leave out ("removal") and insert ("decision") Page 2, line 2, at the beginning insert ("the local authority") Page 2, line 2, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall") Page 2, line 3, leave out ("appeal") and insert ("apply").—(Lord Bhdisloe.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

EARL GREY moved, in subsection (2), to leave out "may," where that word secondly occurs, and to insert "shall." The noble Earl said: Only one question is referred to the court, and the court has to satisfy itself that the removal from the register is necessary in the interests of public health. If it is satisfied I suggest that it is not a case for discretion.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 4, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").—(Earl Grey.)


This is really a matter which could be better dealt with by noble Lords who are learned in the law. It is a question of legal drafting. As the subsection stands the court would have no alternative in the matter, and "may" in this case, and in other cases I am told, means "shall."


I do not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF ONSLOW moved, at the end of subsection (2), to insert— Where, on any such appeal to a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, the court make or refuse to make such order as aforesaid the local authority or the person aggrieved as aforesaid as the case may be, may appeal to Quarter Sessions who may, where an order has been made, revoke the order, or, where an order has been refused, make any order which the Court of Summary Jurisdiction might have made.

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is moved in pursuance of an undertaking given to make it quite certain that an appeal to Quarter Sessions is allowed. The noble Lord, Lord Strachie, has an Amendment on the Paper to the same effect, but my Amendment is a little more explicit than his.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 7, at end insert the said words.— (The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


There is a slight ambiguity in the clause, to which I have already called the noble Earl's attention. It has been brought to my notice by one of the leading agricultural organisations, and I should like to have an assurance that the matter will be dealt with on Report. In subsection (3) the court may order tie person so convicted to be removed from the register "either absolutely or in respect of any specified premises for such period as the court may think fit." The question is also dealt with in subsection (2), and the point is whether the power is only given to remove entirely in respect of certain premises. The owner of the premises might be desirous of putting them into proper condition, and in that case it would be very hard that he should be subject to a penalty for a longer time than is necessary. I hope the noble Earl will consider this point.


I shall be glad to go into the matter further—I cannot, of course, give an answer now—and, if necessary, rectify it on Report.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

Licences by Minister of Health to sell milk under special designations.

3.—(1) A person shall not, either by himself or by any servant or agent, except under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister of Health or with his authority—

  1. (a) sell or offer or expose for sale any milk as "certified," "Grade A," "pasteurised" or under such other designation as may be from time to time prescribed by order of the Minister; or
  2. (b) on or in connection with any sale or offer for sale or proposed sale of any milk or in any advertisement, circular, or notice relating to any milk, describe or refer to the same as "certified," "Grade A," "pasteurised" or by any other designation prescribed as aforesaid, or use any description or designation including or resembling any such description or designation.

(2) A licence may be granted for the purposes of this section for such period and subject to such terms and conditions (including conditions as to the payment of fees) as the Minister may think fit.

EARL GREY moved, in subsection (1), immediately before paragraph (a), to insert "under the provisions of an order made under this Act." The noble Earl said: This Amendment and two later Amendments on the Paper in my name are designed to ensure that the Minister shall proceed by way of Orders which shall lie on the Table of both Houses of Parliament. That is the way he proceeds under the Milk and Dairies (1915) Consolidation Act. I think it is very important that we should have the same procedure under this Bill. There is nothing in this Amendment which is calculated to injure the objects of the Bill, but it is important that the machinery should be correct. If we do not secure adequate consideration of any changes that might be proposed by the Ministry of Health it is possible that serious injury might be done to the milk trade. We have not to go very far back to remember cases where the products which the Ministry, with admirable intentions, hoped to increase and make cheaper disappeared from the market. Unfortunately, economic considerations are very often strangely ignorant of the intentions of Ministers, and if we can ensure that all Orders shall lie on the Table of this House and shall receive that public examination and criticism which will prevent such mistakes, I think it will be a much wiser course to pursue.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 19, at end insert ("under the provision of an order made under this Act").—(Earl Grey.)


I am ready to accept the noble Lord's Amendment, and the consequential Amendments, with one proviso which, with your Lordships' leave, I will mention—namely, that "twenty days" should be substituted for "forty days" in the main Amendment. Perhaps, when that is moved, I will explain the reason for that proviso.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD STRACHIE moved, in subsection (2), after "fees," to insert "which shall provide for the expenses incurred by the Ministry for granting such licences." The noble Lord said: Under the Bill, as it stands, the Minister has, apparently, the right to decide the terms and conditions of the payment of fees as he may think fit. My Amendment provides that the fees shall be paid by the people to whom the licences are given; that is to say, that they shall not be charged upon the rates. That is I the whole object of my Amendment, and the noble Earl will probably be in sympathy with me. We have every confidence in the present Minister, and certainly in the present Parliamentary Secretary, but they will not always hold those offices. It ought to be made plain that the people who will gain considerable advantage by selling this milk ought to pay the expenses, and I that, at any rate, they should not fall upon the local rates.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 34, after ("fees") insert ("which shall provide for the expenses incurred by the Ministry for granting such licences").—(Lord Strachie.)


It is intended that the fees payable for licences shall be such that when the scheme is in full operation they will recoup both the ! central authority, the Ministry, and the local authorities for their expenses in connection with the grant of licences, including, of course, the cost of inspection and bacteriological examination. This, I think, answers the question which the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, raised in his speech on the Motion to go into Committee as to the cost of the Bill, in comparison with the Act of 1915. It is intended that the fees payable for licences shall recoup all expenses.

But we have to start the Bill, and I think the Amendment, as worded by the noble Lord, would make it very difficult to do so. It is really impracticable to require, at the initial stage, that the fees should cover the entire cost, because the licence-holders would be very small in number, and it would, I think, be inequitable to put the whole cost upon them. At the present, moment there are only eighty such licensees, but as time goes on, and, I hope, very soon—because the Order to which Lord Bledisloe referred in regard to "Grade A" milk will, I trust, be drawn as soon as the Bill comes into operation, and it will be of such a wide nature that a very large number of people will take advantage of it—the cost will be entirely borne from the fees paid for licences. I hope the noble Lord will not think it necessary to press the Amendment.


The noble Earl has given an assurance for the present, but I do not think he has given me an assurance for the future. It may be possible that some Minister will make Orders, with the result that the expense will fall on the local rates. If he will consider the matter between now and Report, I am ready to withdraw the Amendment.


I see the noble Lord's point, and will go into the matter again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 35, leave out ("the Minister may think fit") and insert ("may be prescribed by an order made under this Act").—(Earl Grey.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I do not know if the noble Earl is in a position to tell us anything as to what is proposed by way of description of "Certified" milk and "Grade A" milk in the Order. As he has told us, there are only eighty people who are now licensees, but I am given to understand that there are 22,000 dairy farmers in the country who will be affected by this Bill, and I venture to hope that "Grade A" will be so assessed as to make it possible for the majority of dairy farmers who conduct their businesses in the proper way, and on clean lines, to sell "Grade A" milk. Otherwise, their milk will be condemned by implication. I do not know whether the noble Earl is able to tell us what bacterial content he has in mind as the standard by which "Grade A" milk shall be described or assessed.


I went into this point at some length on the Second Reading. "Certified" milk will be practically the same as the present Grade A (Certified)" milk. "Grade A" milk will, I hope, be extended in such a way that all decent farmers will be able to produce it without difficulty. I said last week that we were going to consult with all sections of the milk trade before drafting the Order. When it is drafted, as I have accepted the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Grey, it will be laid before your Lordships' House, and an opportunity will be afforded of going into the subject. I cannot answer the noble Lord's question, because the matter has not yet been settled.


I trust the noble Earl will take care to consult with such bodies as the Central Chamber of Agriculture, the Central Landowners' Association, and tin; British Dairy Farmers' Association, and not confine himself to consultation with the bodies most directly interested. I hope we may have rather a wider consultation. I should like to ask whether his attention has been drawn to the objection taken by the Association of Medical Officers of Health, in regard to putting the Government seal upon "Pasteurised" milk. It is as follows— That in view of the importance at the present time of arriving at satisfactory conclusions as to the effect of sterilisation and pasteurisation of milk on its hygienic value, the Government be asked to consider the question carefully, so that a statement may be issued for the guidance of the public; and that if the results attained indicate the desirability of encouraging or even permitting the sale of milk so treated, the process and processes should be accurately defined, and powers given to secure that such are observed; and, further, that milk submitted to such treatment should be sold in such a manner as will render it, at the time of sale, readily distinguishable from fresh milk. I hope the noble Earl will consider the question whether this "Pasteurised" milk, which the Government are going to allow to be sold with their certificate, ought not to be sold only as "Pasteurised" milk.

There is another important point which may have been brought to the notice of the noble Earl, and that is that people mix pasteurised milk and whole milk together, in some cases, I believe, with very bad results. It seems to me that when the public are buying milk, they ought to know whether it is pasteurised or not and that pasteurised milk ought not to be sold without the public being aware of the fact. I think this point should be brought out very clearly when the noble Earl goes into conference.


I quite agree with the noble Lord. The object of the word "Pasteurised" is to ensure that nobody may describe milk as "Pasteurised" unless it has been pasteurised by a certain process. As to what that process is, we propose to consult with those interested in the matter before issuing the Order which describes it. The noble Lord has suggested that we should confer with certain bodies. I trust they will give us the benefit of their advice, because, in this and other matters connected with the Bill, the views of all those interested are of the utmost importance.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

LORD STRACHIE moved, after Clause 4, to insert the following new clause— No proceedings shall be taken for the adulteration of milk under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1899, against any person unless at the time the sample was taken the milk was in his custody or control or was contained in a churn or other receptacle which had been sealed or closed in accordance with a Milk and Dairies Order.

The noble Lord said: I have taken this new clause out of the Act of 1915. I think it is subsection (4) of Clause 8 of that Act. The, noble Earl will see that the Amendment describes its own object, which is to provide protection for traders and the public, who are liable, at the present time, to be prosecuted before a court of justice, and fined for selling adulterated milk, although that milk may have been out of their hands for hours, or even a whole day. As the law stands, I am informed that it is possible for a man to be prosecuted, fined and treated as a criminal in this matter, on the charge that milk has been adulterated, when it has entirely left his possession. I hope the noble Lord will be ready to put into the present Act a safeguard which was provided in the Act of 1915, to give protection to an innocent man, and to say that nobody shall be prosecuted for the possession of adulterated milk unless he has the control of the milk. It seems only fair and just that a man should only be responsible for the condition of the milk while he has possession and control.

Amendment moved— After Clause 4, insert the said new clause.— (Lord Strachie.)


The difficulty about the clause is that the Act of 1915 contains powers to make orders for locked and sealed churns, but in the absence of such powers from the present Bill the effect of the noble Lord's Amendment would be to penalise; the careful farmer who used locked or sealed churns, because the man who did not use locked churns would have a complete defence if the sample were taken after the milk ceased to be under his control. As regards the general question, I think it is met to a certain extent by Lord Astor's Amendment, which comes later and provides for proceedings against the person actually responsible. Unless there were, an order requiring locked churns, I think the noble Lord's Amendment would be impossible. It is not the same as the Act of 1915, which gives power to make an order, whereas under the present Bill there is no such power to make the locking of churns obligatory. I hope therefore that the Amendment will not be pressed.


May I ask whether the noble Earl would be willing, on Report, to accept an Amendment, if I were to introduce it, as regards the locking of churns? I cannot say that I entirely agree with him that my Amendment would hurt the farmer who at the present moment locks his churns. The whole of my point is not really covered by the use of locked churns. My point is that a man should not be responsible for the milk after it has left his possession and control. You may lock your churns, but it is almost impossible to prevent something being put in, or something being taken out from, a locked churn.


It depends upon the form of churn.


There is another thing, and that is that locked or sealed churns are said to be bad in hot weather, the milk being liable to go bad.


I think there is another objection to the Amendment. It cannot be accepted in its present form, because as it now stands the person who sends out the milk cannot be prose- cuted. A man may send out adulterated milk, and if the roundsman proceeds to sell it the roundsman would have to be prosecuted if the condition of the milk were discovered while he was on the round. I think, therefore, that the Amendment could not be accepted in its present form.


I think Lord Onslow gave, by anticipation, a complete answer to the observations of the noble Earl who spoke last, because he has pointed out that it is sufficient for the public purpose if the person who sells the milk can be prosecuted; he will have his remedy against the person whoever it is who supplies the milk. If the roundsman is the servant of the retailer the retailer will suffer, but if the retailer bought it from the producer he will have a right of indemnity against the person who supplied him with the milk.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 5 agreed to.

EARL GREY moved, after Clause 5, to insert the following new clause— . All orders made by the Minister of Health under this Act or under any enactment relating to Milk and Dairies shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made; and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty days on which that House has sat next after the order is laid before it, praying that the order may be annulled, it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder or to the making of a new order. If the session of Parliament ends before such twenty days as aforesaid have expired, the order shall be laid before each House of Parliament at the commencement of the next session as if it had not previously been laid.


I accept the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 (Orders to be made with concurrence of Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries):


I should like to ask the noble Earl why there is a certain amount of difference between this clause and the corresponding section of the Act of 1915. Under that Act all Orders by the Ministry of Health with respect to milk and dairies had to be made with the concurrence of the Minister of Agriculture. Under this clause only such Orders as are made by the Minister of Health under Section 34 of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1878, as amended by the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1880, shall be made with the concurrence of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. I do not suggest that it is a matter of very great importance, but undoubtedly it would give rather more confide ice to farmers generally if the same rule applied in this case as was accepted in the 1915 Act. I should like to ask the noble Earl whether he could not, on Report, accept an Amendment to make this Bill correspond with the previous Act.


The point is this: Under Clause 6 the Orders contemplated are those in which both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health I are responsible. Clause 3 deals entirely with Ministry of Health business, and therefore the Ministry of Agriculture is not; included. That is the reason for the difference.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7:

Regulations by Minister of Health.

7. The Minister of Health shall make regulations under the Public Health (Regulations as to Food) Act, 1907, for the prevention of danger arising to public health from the importation of milk intended for sale for human consumption.

LORD STRACHIE moved, at the end of the clause, to add "or for use in the manufacture of products for human consumption." The noble Lord said: Here again I am proposing that we should incorporate in this Bill a clause, or rather part of a clause, in the Act of 1915, because in the Bill as it now stands the noble Earl has incorporated Clause 7. He has taken that clause out of the Act of 1915, but has left out the concluding words, which were "or for use in the manufacture of products for human consumption." The noble Earl may have very good reason for not putting them in.


I will accept the Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 21, after ("consumption") insert ("or for use in the manufacture of products for human consumption.")—(Lord Strachie.)


I should like to ask whether the noble Earl thinks this is sufficiently comprehensive. It is still quite open, and surely milk products ought to be added to the milk in this clause. It is public knowledge that there has been coming from the United States during the last ten years a good deal of condensed milk recommended for invalids. It has had the cream taken off, and is quite unsuitable for the purpose.


The Amendment of Lord Strachie widens the area of the original proposal, and now the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, proposes to extend it still further. I have not considered this further extension, because it is not down on the Order Paper, but if he will put it down on the Report stage we can go into it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8:


8. If any person is guilty of a contravention of, or non-compliance with, the provisions of this Act or any of them, he shall, save as otherwise provided in this Act, be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding in the case of a first offence, five pounds, and in the case of a second or subsequent offence, fifty pounds, and if the offence is a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding forty shillings for each day during which the offence continues.

LORD STRACHIE, on behalf of Viscount ASTOR, moved, at the end of the clause, to insert— provided that when it is made to appear to the satisfaction of the authority by or on whose behalf proceedings are about to be taken—

  1. (a) that the actual occupier of the dairy or owner of the business of milk purveyor by wholesale or retail has used all due diligence to enforce the execution of this Act and the Milk and Dairies Orders; and
  2. (b) by what person the offence has been committed; and
  3. (c) that it has been committed without the knowledge, consent or connivance of the occupier of the dairy or the owner of the business of milk purveyor by wholesale or retail and in contravention of his orders;
proceedings shall be taken against the person who is believed to be the actual offender without first proceeding against the occupier of the dairy.

The noble Lord said: I may say that in omitting at the end of the Amendment the words "or the owner of the business of milk purveyor by wholesale or retail," I am acting with the concurrence of the noble Viscount.


I accept the Amendment under the reservation that drafting Amendments may have to be made on the Report stage. I am not sure that it is watertight.


The Amendment, I understand, is moved as printed, with the exception that the words at the end are omitted—"or the owner of the business of milk purveyor by wholesale or retail."




I accept that, without prejudice.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9:

Administration of Act.

9. The Minister of Health may by order declare by what local authorities the provisions of this Act shall be enforced and out of what fund or rate the expenses of such enforcement shall be defrayed.

THE EARL OF ONSLOW moved to omit all words after "enforced" and to insert the following new subsection— (2) The expenses of local authorities under this Act shall be defrayed—

  1. (a) in the case of a county council, out of the county fund, as expenses for general county purposes, or if an Order of the Ministry of Health so directs as respects any such expenses as expenses for special county purposes charged on such part of the county as may be provided by the Order;
  2. (b) in the ease of the common council of the City of London, out of the general rate;
  3. (c) in the case of the council of a metropolitan borough as part of the expenses incurred by the council in the execution of the Public Health (London) Act, 1891;
  4. (d) in the case of the council of a municipal borough or urban or rural district, as part of their general expenses incurred in the execution of the enactments relating to public health."

The noble Earl said: This subsection is moved to meet the views of Lord Strachie. It is practically the same as an Amendment in the name of Lord Strachie, but it goes a little further. The proposal has been carefully considered. It was necessary to introduce the county councils as well; otherwise, the two Amendments are exactly the same.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 33, leave out from ("enforced") to the end of line 34, and insert the said new sub-section—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10:

Application to Scotland.

10. This Act shall apply to Scotland, with the following modifications— (d) Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section three of this Act shall have effect as if there were inserted after the term "certified," the term "Grade A (tuberculin tested).

THE EARL OF ONSLOW moved to leave out paragraph (d), and to insert the following new paragraph:— () Subsection (1) of section three of this Act shall have effect as if there were inserted after the term 'certified,' wherever the same occurs therein, the term Grade A. (tuberculin tested)'

The noble Earl said: This is a Scottish Amendment. In Scotland, under the Order they do not now have the milk described as "Grade A"; therefore, to put the Scottish provisions on all fours with those in this country it is proposed to make this alteration.

Amendment moved— Page 4, lines 14 to 17, leave out paragraph (d), and insert the said new paragraph—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

LORD STRACHIE moved, after Clause 10, to insert the following new clause— . There shall be repealed as from the expiration of one year after the commencement of this Act so much of any local Act as deals with the sale of milk.

The noble Lord said: The House may be aware that in the Act of 1915 a clause was inserted which repealed all the various model milk clauses in something like 200 private Acts of Parliament, which had been obtained by various great local authorities. Of late years it has been customary when Private Bills were introduced to introduce what is generally known as the Sheffield Clause, which provided that as soon as the Act of 1915 came into force the clauses put into those private Acts of Parliament became null and void. If that had not been done they would still have over-ridden the Act of 1915.

I understand that the noble Earl opposite takes some exception to this clause. Perhaps he would like to leave this also over to the Report stage, and to consult those of us who are interested in the matter. I think lie will agree with what was said by Lord Bledisloe when we went into Committee on this Bill, that great confusion has been created by the scrapping of the Act of 1915 and reviving a large number of clauses in private Acts of Parliament, which were never intended to have any force except as merely a temporary arrangement. As one who had a great deal to do in the past with these various model milk clauses, and introduced many of them in another place into private Acts of Parliament, I can assure the noble Earl that the matter is one of great importance, and that local authorities think that it ought to be dealt with.

Amendment moved— After Clause 10, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Strachie.)


I understand that when the Act of 1914 was passed a bargain was made between the President of the Local Government Board and the Association of Municipal Corporations, many of whom are, of course, the bodies who have the special milk clauses in their local Bills—a bargain under which the Association withdrew their objection to the repeal of the local enactments, on the distinct understanding that effective provision should be made by the general Act for securing the same object, namely, the prevention of the supply of milk likely to cause tuberculosis and other diseases. This Bill, I understand, will postpone the coming into force of the Act which was to replace these local clauses, and if this Amendment were passed undoubtedly the Association of Municipal Corporations would feel that a bargain properly made had been broken. I therefore hope that the Government will not give way on this point.


When I saw this Amendment on the Paper I had some little difficulty in understanding its exact object, because it goes considerably further than the Act of 1915. That Act was a Consolidation Act, but this Bill does not give the local authorities those powers which the Act of 1915 gave them, nor does it impose upon them similar duties. To accept this Amendment would lead to great ambiguity, as it would be difficult to determine what part, if any, of existing local Acts would thereby be repealed. I am advised that there is a little difficulty in interpreting the words "so much of any local Act as deals with the sale of milk." Again, this Bill does not go nearly so far as the Act of 1915, and if this proposed repeal were carried out many provisions in local Acts would be repealed without there being anything to put in their places.

As Lord Emmott has said, this matter has been carefully considered by the Association of Municipal Corporations, and I am advised by them that the adoption of an Amendment of this nature would be met by considerable and very powerful resistance. I would further point out to the noble Lord that the suspension of the Act of 1915 is only for three years. Then, when that Act does come into force, the repeal of these local Acts will take place automatically. If we were to accept the Amendment we should proceed for one year under this Bill, plus the local Acts. Next we should proceed for two years with this Bill minus the local Acts. In 1925, when the other Bill is put into force, we should proceed under the Act of 1915, plus the local Acts. Then, when a year had elapsed, we should go on for ever with the Act of 1915 minus the local Acts. In any circumstances, therefore, this is a very complicated procedure. The proposal as suggested in the Bill is, I think, the most convenient one until 1925, when the Act of 1915 comes into force. But if the noble Lord has other alternative proposals to make we will give them the most careful consideration.


As a bargain has been mentioned by Lord Emmott—a bargain as between the Association of Municipal Corporations and the President of the Local Government Board—it is only fair for me to say, as having taken part in all these negotiations which led to the Bill of 1914, that there was a bargain also with the farmers. "We are bound," say the Ministry of Health, "to impose upon you certain restrictions in the interests of the public health, but, on the other side, we will give you uniformity of administration as regards the sale of milk." That was the bargain, so far as farmers were concerned. Unfortunately, we have not got uniformity in this Bill. To some extent restrictions are imposed, at least upon producer-retailers in the supposed interests of the public health. When a bargain is spoken of it should be remembered that it was a three-sided bargain in which the farmers were concerned as well as the Association of Municipal Corporations.


I ask leave to withdraw this Amendment, and I will take the opportunity of consulting the noble Earl.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.