HL Deb 27 April 1937 vol 105 cc1-24

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper—namely, That Standing Order No. 105 be considered in order to its being dispensed with in respect of the said Bill.

Moved, That Standing Order No. 105 be considered in order to its being dispensed with in respect of the said Bill. —(Lord Marks.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.


My Lords, I now beg to move formally that the Poole Corporation Bill be read a second time. As there is to be a suggestion concerning one clause, with an instruction to the Committee which deals with the Bill, I do not propose now to discuss anything in the Bill, but to wait until the instruction has been moved. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Marks.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed.

LORD CRANWORTH, in whose name stood a Motion that it be an instruction to the Committee to which the Bill may be referred to strike out Clause 21 ("By-laws as to pasteurisation, etc., of milk"), said: My Lords, I do not think there is any need for me to apologise for bringing before your Lordships the Motion which stands in my name, because this is a subject which is of importance to millions of our fellow-countrymen, if carried to its logical conclusion, and involves the livelihood of tens of thousands of small farmers. This point impresses me more than anything else. I consider the matter to be one of grave national importance, and I am greatly surprised to find it come before your Lordships' House by such a back door. I have been a member of this House for nearly forty years, and I always understood that it was fundamental that a matter of general principle should never be brought forward in a Private Bill.

There are two things that I want to point out. The first is that such powers as are asked for here have never before been given in England. In fact they have never before been asked for in England. The second is that if you grant such powers in this case it would seem logically impossible to refuse them in any other. It is admitted, and you will find that admission in the statement sent round to your Lordships from the Poole Corporation, that the real reason for bringing this Clause 21 into this huge Bill of fifty-two clauses was an outbreak of typhoid in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch. It is therefore admittedly panic legislation, and for that reason somewhat to be deprecated. I have been at some pains to find out whether it really was milk which was responsible for this outbreak. I am afraid I cannot tell your Lordships, though the Corporation say it was; on the other hand my local informants have told me that in their opinion it was not. The Dorset County Council, who are also greatly concerned in this matter and should have good means of knowing, by a resolution carried nem. con. in their Agricultural Committee, opposed the Bill, and by a vote of thirty-eight to eight the County Council opposed it. I see no reason to suppose that that body of gentlemen is any less astute than is the Poole Corporation.

The next question I would ask is, What is pasteurisation? because there is a great body of opinion in this country which thinks it is some rather complicated device which is marvellously effective. As most of your Lordships know, it merely means heating milk up to a temperature of 145 or 150 degrees Fahrenheit and allowing it to cool down to 55, in other words parboiling, although parboiling does not sound so good a name as pasteurisation. What are the main effects of this parboiling? I think they are four. First of all it kills most of the obnoxious germs in milk, and that is naturally why it is approved by a considerable proportion of the medical profession. Secondly, it enables dirty milk to keep for three or four days, whereas otherwise it turns sour after about twelve hours—which is in itself rather a safeguard to the public. Thirdly, it puts out of action all small producer-retailers, because they have not the money to provide the necessary plant to do their own pasteurising. Fourthly (and to me this is most important of all) it makes certain vital changes in the milk. It devitalises it, it destroys some of its component parts. It remains a very good beverage, but it does not remain milk, and not such a good substance as milk, and that is the reason why another large section of the medical profession, and a very much larger section of milk drinkers, prefer raw-milk to pasteurised milk. It would appear to me that you have to weigh in the balance when you consider the merits of pasteurisation the benefits that are derived by immunity from germs as against those that you lose by getting an inferior article under the fourth head which I have mentioned.

I will examine this at a little length and I assure your Lordships that I do not intend to give you any expert evidence. In the first place I am not an expert on the subject, and I might get out of my depth; and in the second place I was educated for the law, and in the course of my education I was taught, not once or twice, to be very cautious indeed about expert evidence. If any of your Lordships suffered as I did in that education, you will remember the short, terse sentence in which expert evidence is defined. It is fair to say that pasteurised milk if properly treated is quite safe immediately after it has been pasteurised. But is it always properly treated? I would bring two things to your Lordships' attention. The first is the evidence of the Medical Officer of Health at Bootle. He examined twenty-one samples of pasteurised school milk; fifteen came up to standard, six did not. He then examined thirteen samples from two modern pasteurising plants; eight came up to sample, five did not. The Times of November 16, 1936, reported that during the year the Institute of Dairy Research examined 270 samples of pasteurised milk and 37 per cent, gave a positive result.

Now with regard to immediacy. It would appear that pasteurised milk is subject to re-contamination not only as quickly as raw milk, but even more quickly. An exposure was made by Professor Beattie. He took milk and divided the same milk into two small samples. He pasteurised one, and the other he did not pasteurise. He left them for three days. At the end of the three days they were analysed, and it was found that the pasteurised milk contained 168,000,000 germs, and the non-pasteurised milk 65,000,000. That is not conclusive, but it is certainly some evidence. Again, there was a great outbreak of typhoid in Montreal in 1927. There were 453 deaths out of 4,755 cases. Investigation showed that the epidemic was due to the infection of milk delivered by the Montreal Dairy Company. That milk was pasteurised milk, and there were over forty pasteurising plants in Montreal. Yet the epidemic went on for a great many weeks, with the result that you see. I therefore think it is fair to say that, though it has certain effects, the full result of pasteurisation is by no means what some people would wish us to believe. Generally speaking, the reason for pasteurisation is said to be the prevention of tuberculosis. There I would point out, first, that many more people suffer and die from tuberculosis through not drinking milk at all than those who suffer from drinking bad milk. Since the middle of the last century deaths from tuberculosis have gone down by 80 per cent, and since the beginning of this century they have done down by half. And this is a rather remarkable thing—that in the country districts, where pasteurised milk is unobtainable, not only is there less tuberculosis but tuberculosis has gone down in a greater degree than in the towns.

I turn to the question of the deterioration of milk in pasteurisation. Your Lordships will have read in the statement received from Poole Corporation that the Disease of Animals Committee, when they considered this, gave an inconclusive and indeed an ambiguous pronouncement on the subject, but they did say that if Vitamin C is destroyed it can be returned by giving the children lime juice or orange juice. Do you Lordships really think that in the poorer parts of our great cities the children are going to get orange juice or lime juice whenever they get a glass of milk? I think that is rather too much to hope. The Advisory Committee on Nutrition are much more to the point. On page 37 of their Report they say: The ideal is milk from perfectly healthy cows… They go on to say that there are not so many perfectly healthy herds as they would wish, but nevertheless they state that milk from perfectly healthy cows is the ideal. It is almost a monstrous thing to suggest that in a town that ideal should be prohibited.

I believe it is, generally speaking, confirmed that the loss in the milk through pasteurisation is first in Vitamin C, the loss of which causes scurvy, and secondly in Vitamin D, a loss which causes rickets; and in that Vitamin D the main ingredient is calcium which is of enormous importance in building up dental structure. Experiments have taken place in this matter. The first experiment took place, I believe, with regard to rats which, when fed on pasteurised milk, passed away altogether after a time. Another experiment took place with regard to calves which, when fed on pasteurised milk, began to look under-thrifty, with dazed eyes and so on, but which, when put on raw milk, began to look thrifty and well-doing again. Any one of your Lordships can carry out that experiment for himself, but I do not advise you to go too far with a pasteurised diet.

We come now to the human race. Dr. Barnardo's Home must, I think, be a pretty good medium for experiment. There are 8,500 children there. The head doctor, Dr. Macdonald, made an exhaustive study of this subject and he came to certain conclusions, which are these: (a) The child on raw milk is very fit. (b) Chilblains are practically eliminated. (c) The teeth are less likely to decay. (d) The resistance to tuberculosis and other infections is raised. (e) In one of his Homes containing 750 delicate boys who were fed on raw milk for five years, only one case of non-pulmonary tuberculosis occurred, while in the preceding five years with similar types of children fed on pasteurised milk fourteen cases of non-pulmonary tuberculosis occurred. There have been other experiments, and other experiments are going on now. There was an experiment at Flint, where the experiment was not conclusive because the children got milk at home in addition to the milk at school. At the same time, after two examinations, it was said that there did appear to be an adverse effect on girls rather than boys who used pasteurised milk. There may be a case for prohibiting the sale of unclean milk unless it has been pasteurised, but I submit that there is an equally good case, where clean milk is available, why it should not be pasteurised at all.

Two more things I have to say. The first is this. The farmer has been asked to clean up his milk. He has been forced to spend large sums of money. Owners of farm buildings, under the Milk and Dairies Act, have spent millions of pounds under the Milk Board and with the assistance of the Government. The farmer has been induced to have a new system, a higher grade of milk, and under the Accredited Scheme no fewer than 20,000 herds already participate. Are you going to take the retrograde step of saying that the expenditure of all this money and all this work which has been done have been entirely unnecessary, and to say in effect: "Produce as dirty milk as you like so long as you put it in the pasteurisation plant, when it will be just as good as the other." The second point is you can get pasteurised milk now wherever you like. In the town of Poole 80 per cent, get it. It is much easier to get pasteurised milk than non-pasteurised. The people who get non-pasteurised milk are the people who rightly deserve it, and it would be interesting to know how many doctors are included in that 20 per cent. I have a feeling that a large percentage of the doctors would be found using raw milk. It is possible in this matter to proceed by propaganda. I cannot for the life of me see why people who hold the opposite view just as strongly as the advocates of pasteurisation hold their view, should be forced to do something which they believe to be to the harm of their children.

In conclusion I want to say this. It is a very grave step which it is proposed to take. There are thousands of people who believe it to be a very wrong one. I cannot believe your Lordships think it right that it should be done in this piecemeal fashion if it is right to do it at all. Surely if it is right, the right step would be for His Majesty's Government to set up a Committee—not a Committee of producers or distributors, nor yet of doctors, but a Committee of good common sense people accustomed to weigh evidence. Let them set up such a Committee as that. Let them examine the evidence on all sides, and give a weighty Report to His Majesty's Government. Then let His Majesty's Government, after consideration, produce the necessary legislation in the right and proper Parliamentary fashion.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee to which the Bill may be referred to strike out Clause 21 ("Bylaws as to pasteurisation, etc., of milk"). —(Lord Cranworth.)


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken said this measure is a panicky one. Anyone who had lived, as I did, through this epidemic and had a member of his household in hospital for nine weeks, due to taking milk from one particular dairy, when 900 people in the area were also affected, fifty-one of whom died, would not imagine that the Poole Corporation were doing anything panicky but were simply doing their duty as custodians of the health of the borough and doing whatever was possible to see that such an epidemic should not occur again. Milk may be clean but not safe, and what the Poole Corporation is seeking to do is to make the milk not only clean but safe. With regard to the suggestion that it is a retrograde step to propose pasteurisation, it would be putting the clock back twenty-five years if it were now to be said that all the civilised nations in the world which have adopted pasteurisation have been fooled into something which is quite wrong.

If your Lordships read this Bill and this clause properly, you will notice that the clause is not obligatory; it is not compulsory upon all the persons supplying milk that their milk should be pasteurised. Pasteurised milk may be just as dirty as other milk and may be subsequently just as liable to infection if handled improperly. What the Corporation of Poole are seeking to do is to see that the food of the children is food that is safe. If it is not safe, then they can call upon producers to adopt some means that in their opinion and in the opinion of the Ministry' of Health will be effectual in remedying the trouble they are up against. My noble friend said that in Dorset the County Council, by thirty-eight votes to eight, passed a resolution against pasteurisation. Thirty-eight votes to eight out of a council of eighty-four—not a very strong body of opinion, not half the council concerned with the pasteurisation vote.

When the difficulty arose last year an investigation was made, and the trouble was traced undoubtedly to one large dairy. The Ministry sent down inspectors and the Minister himself (Sir Kingsley Wood) went down also, and this is what happened. After a visit to the district he said: Pasteurisation immediately cut the outbreak short and it has since run a normal course, and can now, as I have said, be regarded as over. The outbreak illustrates once again the difficulty of ensuring, otherwise than by pasteurisation, a safe milk supply where the milk is derived from many sources and pooled before distribution. In September, 1936, two of the largest towns in Dorset, Poole and Weymouth, found that the trouble they had was emanating from impure milk. On the 30th September, 1936, twenty-one samples of raw milk were collected for investigation in Poole, and of those twenty-one samples nine positively were found to be tubercular. Fifteen cows were ordered to be slaughtered, and they were slaughtered. Is it not reasonable that people living in Poole, as I do, should wish to be saved from contaminated milk that may come from tubercular cows? It has been established that pasteurisation will prevent that.

Is it to be said we are panicky when fifty-one people died in our midst and our children were taken away to hospital? Yet when we ask for this relief it is said we come here in a panic and ask for something that is unusual. True, it is unusual, but we had an unusual epidemic, and we do not want such an experience again. What has happened in connection with water supplies everywhere? In my old constituency in Cornwall I have known meetings to be held because the parish pump was going to be closed down as a consequence of the medical official of health having declared that the water was impure. Meetings were held against that being done because it was going to cost the people more to get a new supply of water from other sources. No one objects now to a supply of water that is impure being stopped, and a purer supply of water being obtained from other sources. If you are going to deal with something that is a vested interest there must be some giving up of someone's rights. Every attempt that has been made to control industry has pressed upon someone. The Factory Acts pressed upon somebody; the provision of proper ventilation and sanitation pressed upon someone, but what is that pressure compared with the health of the community? The health of the community must come first and private interests and private profits afterwards. That is the system that our public legislation has followed in order to secure the health of the people.

A reference has been made to certain happenings in America. I will give the other side. My noble friend did not quote Toronto. He did not quote cases where they had adopted pasteurisation and where in consequence there had been no trouble. That which was stated to have happened occurred in districts where there was no pasteurisation. My noble friend suggested that we should put this off until the Government brought in a measure to deal with the whole community. If that were done, the Government would find themselves up against difficulties that we are not up against in this Bill. What might be done easily in the case of a municipality with 500,000 people would be a very difficult and doubtful thing to do for a village with 200 people. There are thousands of villages with populations of only a few hundred people, and there would be trouble in dealing with such small communities. What we are asking is that we should not be put under the risk of having another calamity whilst waiting for something to be done in the future by the Government. We are asking for this relief for ourselves in Poole at the present time. Your Lordships have already given a Second Reading to a Bill with this clause in it. You gave a Second Reading to the Glasgow Corporation Bill which contains a similar clause. There was no petition to this House against it, and no memorials against it, but forty-four municipalities in England and Scotland sent to the Ministry of Health memorials and petitions in favour of Clause 21 of this Bill, which it is now said should be deleted.

If the Bill is referred to a Private Bill Committee there will be opportunities for investigation and for the production of evidence, scientific and otherwise, before an impartial body. If your Lordships send this Bill to a Committee for consideration the whole of the investigation which is now asked for could be given, and there would be formed a very useful background for what might be dealt with later on in a larger measure applicable to the whole of the country. I have tried to put the case of Poole. We have had an exceptional trouble and we are asking for exceptional relief. I appeal to your Lordships not to put us off until a larger measure may be brought in affecting other people who have not had the trouble that we have had.


My Lords, I think it might perhaps be for the convenience of the House if I made certain observations at this stage in regard to this matter and placed you in possession, so far as I may, of what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government with regard to it. I am sure that none of your Lordships will have listened without both great sympathy and great understanding to the view that has been put forward by the noble Lord who has just addressed you. He spoke, as he said, out of the midst of the area that has been so directly and so unhappily affected, and whatever may be the views that your Lordships may hold on this question I am quite sure that we should all feel that the noble Lord has done no more than was right in laying his case as powerfully as he has before your Lordships this afternoon. But the question is, of course, a wider one than Poole alone. It does raise, as my noble friend Lord Cranworth said, certain considerations that I think we must all have in view in attempting to form our judgment about it. When I say it raises general considerations I do not mean that, as the noble Lord who spoke last suggested, it raises questions of vested interests and the like. It would be unfortunate if either in this House or outside any decision to which your Lordships may come this afternoon were thought to have been in any way affected by considerations such as those. There would be no one in this House who would not entirely agree with the noble Lord who spoke last that the health of our people must be the first and the last consideration in matters of this sort. We are most concerned, however, to see that measures designed to promote that health are wisely and well devised.

I do not intend to follow my noble friend Lord Cranworth or indeed my noble friend Lord Marks into the technical and scientific considerations that they adduced, which perhaps will be treated by the noble Lord opposite when, as I hope, he comes to speak. I am merely concerned with this question as one on which it is perhaps my duty to give some advice to those of my friends who may desire it as to what in all the circumstances is the appropriate course for us to take. Your Lordships will remember that in 1934 the Economic Advisory Council's Committee on Cattle Diseases, which was appointed by the Prime Minister and presided over by Sir Frederick Hopkins, referred to the subject in an extremely valuable Report. That Committee made certain recommendations which it is fair to point out do not correspond with the proposals which are put before the House in the Bill promoted on behalf of Poole. This Bill, as I think has been said, is not opposed on petition, but I understand that if it receives a Second Reading in its present form it will be the intention of my noble friend the Lord Chairman, under the powers he enjoys by Standing Orders, to refer the Bill to a Select Committee of this House in order that the proposals as to pasteurisation might be specially examined. In the view of His Majesty's Government such an inquiry as that would be unsatisfactory and would probably be inconclusive. In their view any such inquiry ought not to be held in connection with any particular locality, but the question must and can only be considered as a general one which affects the country as a whole.

I think it is also right to give some weight to the consideration that any such inquiry as that to which I have referred as possible would necessarily be lengthy, and, if the inquiry were as exhaustive as it might well be, the cost would be heavy and ought not to be allowed to fall on a single locality. In these circumstances the Government have reviewed the whole matter and I am authorised to announce that it is their intention to bring forward long-term legislation dealing with general milk policy in the near future. In that connection the Government will examine the question of pasteurisation in the light of all the evidence that is available, and I do not think I shall be contradicted when I say that there is plenty of evidence available and that what is needed is that it should be weighed up by what my noble friend Lord Cranworth calls good common-sense people, who, I hope, are not wholly excluded from the ranks of the Government. That evidence will be examined with a view to decide whether or not as a matter of fact it would be in the public interest, with due regard to the interests of the milk industry, to include provisions with regard to pasteurisation in the legislative proposals that His Majesty's Government will bring forward. When those proposals are brought forward Parliament, of course, will have adequate and full opportunities for examining them in, I venture to think, a form more satisfactory than is open to it at the present time. I am bound to agree with my noble friend Lord Cranworth that a question such as pasteurisation would be and must be more properly dealt with in general rather than local legislation. Consequently, it would not be the wish of the Government that any provision to enforce it should be admitted in a Private Bill during the present Session.

That leads me, after having said so much, to the necessity of saying one other thing in response to what was said just now by the noble Lord, Lord Marks. I recognise, and His Majesty's Government recognise, the special reasons that the Corporation of Poole have for seeking to protect their milk supply, and I think that whatever may be the judgment of your Lordships on the point of particular or general legislation you would perhaps, however strongly you may be on the side of general legislation, yet be disposed to concede that the Corporation of Poole have only been, if anything, too faithful to their duty, as responsible for the health of their people as they conceive it, in bringing forward proposals to introduce special legislation for Poole. We recognise the anxiety that has moved them arising from the deplorable outbreak to which the noble Lord, Lord Marks, referred, but I am advised by those who have made careful examination of this matter that there is in fact no reason for supposing that the causes of the epidemic were such as would be likely to lead to a recurrence of the outbreak. There is no reason for supposing that in the absence of compulsory pasteurisation the people of Poole would be in any different position as regards the possibility of infected milk from that of persons in any other part of the country. Therefore it does not appear, as I have said, to His Majesty's Government that pending-general legislation there is any necessity to make special provision in the case of Poole in order to prevent a recurrence of this unhappy trouble. For these reasons, which I hope I have succeeded in making plain, I shall feel it my duty if the question goes to a Division to support the Motion of my noble friend Lord Cranworth.


My Lords, if I may, I will deal first with one or two small points. I was rather surprised to hear my noble friend Lord Cranworth say that it is new to his experience that matters of general public interest should be dealt with in a Private Bill. My experience is to the contrary. I could refer your Lordships to many cases where experiments have been made in a Private Bill, have been introduced and then have been adopted by other authorities, and finally have passed into the general law. I would instance to your Lordships a recent case, that of ribbon development. I think the first county to take that up was my own County of Surrey; other counties followed, and eventually, as your Lordships are aware, recently a. Ribbon Development Bill was brought in which applies to the whole country. There are matter other cases in which this has been done. I quite agree that it is possible that your Lordships may consider that this question of pasteurisation is not one which would be suitably dealt with in the first instance by a Private Bill. That is a matter for your Lordships' consideration. Nevertheless, the principle of trying an experiment in a Private Bill has very often been followed before and the experiment has been adopted generally afterwards by the whole country. Then there is one other point. My noble friend Lord Marks referred to the Glasgow Bill, but I ought to tell your Lordships that I do not think that what he said was quite correct. The method of dealing with pasteurisation proposed in Glasgow is quite different from that proposed in Poole, but a petition has been lodged by fifty-three people against the Pasteurisation Clause in the Glasgow Bill.

But these are minor points. I think that everybody will agree that Poole ought to have the utmost sympathy in their introduction of this measure to deal with the serious situation which was caused recently by an epidemic of typhoid. I confess that when I saw this Bill I was very deeply moved at the circumstances, and I felt that Poole had done their best and that everybody should do everything he could to assist them. Those of your Lordships who agree with that view must be much reassured by what we have heard from my noble friend behind me as to the cessation of any danger of typhoid, or at least any special danger of typhoid at Poole, and rejoice to know that Poole is now in a healthy condition, that it is no more likely to suffer from an epidemic of typhoid, and that nobody is more likely to catch typhoid there than in any other part of His Majesty's Dominions. I do not think there has been any question of an epidemic in Glasgow. The Glasgow proposals are not based upon any special necessity. But I think it is very satisfactory, in bringing this matter before your Lordships' House for the consideration thereof by your Lordships, that we should be able to dismiss from our minds the suggestion that Poole may be in a dangerous condition which may require some immediate remedy.

When I first heard of this matter I felt that the question of pasteurisation could not be satisfactorily dealt with on an Unopposed Bill Committee. I therefore felt it my duty to tell my noble friend behind me that if the Bill received a Second Reading from your Lordships I should feel it necessary, under the Standing Order which gives me that power, to turn it into an opposed Bill and to send it to a Select Committee to be carefully examined, although there is no petition against it. As my noble friend has said, that Committee stage, to be of any value, must entail a long and very considerable inquiry. I do not think, and I hope your Lordships will agree, that it would be fitting to hold an inquiry of this kind on a question which has already had so many Committees sitting upon it. One Committee was, I think, appointed by the League of Nations, and it took evidence and published a report in two volumes. Then there was the Committee of Sir Frederick Hopkins, which also went into the matter exhaustively. To go into it again exhaustively before a Select Committee of your Lordships' House on a Private Bill would, I think, be an unsatisfactory method of dealing with the question. I do not, however, think there will be any other way of dealing with it if this clause passes through your Lordships' House. I do not think there is any other course, unless we had a declaration from His Majesty's Government that they proposed to deal with this question in the near future and on general lines. We have had an explicit statement from my noble friend behind me that the Government intend to take it up and to go into it and deal with the question of pasteurisation in con- nection with the whole milk policy. In these circumstances I would feel that the course suggested by His Majesty's Government would be the wise one and that, in the absence of any special necessity in Poole, the matter might safely be left to be dealt with by Public Bill. That would be a more expedient method of dealing with it than by a clause in a Private Bill such as is suggested in the Bill now under your Lordships' consideration.


My Lords, I much regret that this difficult matter of pasteurisation cannot be tried out as a local experiment. It can surely be right in political science, as it is in other sciences, to proceed by experiment, and this Poole experiment would have been a very valuable one, comparable with the Toronto experiment in Canada, which threw a very considerable light on the value of pasteurisation. I think that one should be influenced by the question of cost, and if it is going to be such a costly matter for pasteurisation schemes to be applied to Poole, I can quite see that this is an argument in favour of waiting for a general measure. We have not, however, had any indication of how long it will be before that general measure comes before us. I would point out to your Lordships that this matter has been under consideration the whole of this century, and I would venture, if I may, to point out the real gravity of the position.

The noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, is, albeit unintentionally, confusing clean and infected milk. Milk may be perfectly clean and yet be infected. On the other hand, it may be uninfected and yet not be clean. I am entirely with him in this: that if we are not going to have efficient pasteurisation, for heaven's sake do not let us have pasteurisation at all. There is nothing so dangerous as a remedy which is badly applied. It does nothing but throw dust in the eyes of the people. Here is no question of using pasteurisation except effectively. The Ministry of Health have laid down conditions whereby it is made effective. In Toronto it is carried out effectively. It is the business of the local authority to see that it is carried out effectively, and if it is carried out effectively there is an overwhelming body of evidence, not confined to this country but shared by every civilised country in the world, that pasteurisation is an efficient means of preventing the conveyance of certain infectious diseases. Turning to the mortality, to which the noble Lord referred, it is perfectly true that the mortality from tuberculosis has steadily and most satisfactorily declined. But there is one blot on that picture and that is that there has not been an improvement in the bovine type of infection that there has been in the human type of infection. It is well known that there are two forms of tubercular infection, the bovine and the human. What we commonly call consumption, which used to destroy the people of this country in multitudes, was produced by the human form of tubercle bacillus. But what we are dealing with in milk, the tubercle which is produced by milk is not produced by the human form of bacillus, it is produced by the bovine form. There is a strong consensus of opinion, such a consensus of opinion that I think we are bound to accept it, for that view.

Now if one takes bovine tuberculosis— bovine tuberculosis, produces intestinal and not lung tubercle—we have to face up against these figures inquired into by that very distinguished Committee under Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins. In the year 1931, in this country, there were 6,000 fresh cases of milk tubercle, and there were 2,600 deaths—a perfectly needless death rate. And it has to be remembered that milk tubercle does not attack only the weaklings, but the just and the unjust alike. The strongest child may get it just as well as a weak child, and therefore we are wasting 2,600 children that need not be sacrificed. If you take Scotland, for the same year there were 1,000 children affected, and 465 deaths from milk tubercle. Therefore you have to face this: that by not dealing with this matter we are continuing this death rate.

I would point out that there is a strong and fortunately very satisfactory movement for extending the supply of milk to children. We are doing all we can to make use of milk, and with most satisfactory results; therefore it is doubly important to see that our milk supply is clean and free from infection. I am entirely with the noble Lord that it must be made clean, and Poole would see to it that it was made clean. It would be the duty of the medical officer of health to see that it was clean. There is another fact which illustrates my point. The worst of this tubercle is that tuberculosis in cattle may occur in apparently perfectly healthy cows. There is no means of distinguishing it. A cow may look healthy and yet be discharging pus and tubercle bacilli from its udder. That is one of the technical difficulties of this matter. There is only one way of being sure, and that is by applying the tuberculin test. The Department of Health in Scotland took samples of milk from the supply of four big Cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. It took the chums which went into one City and 10 per cent, of those samples were found to contain not dead but living tubercle baccilli, so that every time a child drank a glass of milk—a child at its most susceptible age—it was likely to be imbibing tubercle baccilli. In Glasgow, over 13 per cent, of the samples contained living baccilli, and therefore each glass of milk was an active source of infection to the children of Glasgow. If I may remind the House, tubercle has this characteristic in common with undulant fever, that the source of infection is in the udder of the cow. The moment the cow is milked the milk is infected. Unfortunately it is also a good vehicle for infection after it is withdrawn from the udder.

We have already heard of the Bournemouth outbreak, and the deplorable number of deaths which occurred. There are others. We might almost ask, in the words spoken of Pharoah: "How much persuasion does he require to let the people go?" In Brighton and Hove there was an outbreak in 1929 of septic sore throat, due to milk infection subsequently to its being withdrawn from the cow. A thousand families were affected, and there were sixty-five deaths. Then there was the Epping epidemic of paratyphoid in 1931, with 260 cases, and there was the famous Chelmsford epidemic of scarlet fever and sore throat in 1935, with its 1,600 cases, and then followed this Bournemouth outbreak. Therefore we must realise that milk may be perfectly clean and still be infected owing to handling subsequently to being milked from the cow. I am bringing this matter forward really to stress the urgency of this problem—that if it is not desirable to allow Poole to work this out on a small scale and prove it, yet it is an urgent matter which should be brought to an issue.

I would entirely agree with the noble Lord opposite that if we could secure that milk should be controlled and that herds should be perfectly healthy, that is the ideal way of dealing with this question, but that is impracticable except in a few selected spots. Yet all these points should be gone into, and the difficulties are both technical and financial. You never know when a cow is going to be infected. I can quote a case at this moment; that of a milkman who had a protected herd. After a gap of no more than six months that unfortunate man had no fewer than seven cows condemned—cows which were apparently healthy—under the tuberculin test. Of those seven cows, two or three, I forget which, were sufficiently badly infected in the udder that it was impossible to allow them to be used at all and they all had to be disposed of. Look how that man is placed. He has his customers to meet. He has either to lose his business or to get milk from without, and he very humanly and naturally did get milk from without. I have taken occasion to get samples of that man's milk since he got it from without. He got it from farms in the neighbouring country, and some of that milk went to institutions where there are children. That milk has to be condemned as being bad and infected.

The difficulty is a technical one. There is no means of knowing when cows are going to go tuberculous, and therefore at any moment you may be face to face with herds which in good faith have been bought as healthy cattle, and have been healthy cattle, but which suddenly let you down in that way. It is a real technical difficulty. Added to that are the financial difficulties. Imagine the cost to this country if it had to make good all the tuberculous cows. It is an expense which I imagine no reasonable Government could possibly face. For these reasons therefore protected herds can only be few in number, and only where conditions are very favourable. In Denmark they do allow raw milk to go to children but for the rest of the population they insist on milk being pasteurised. But the raw milk that goes to the children has to go to specially controlled dairies. That is a relatively small amount, and all the rest of the milk—over 80 per cent.—has to be pasteurised before it is consumed. That, I think, is one reason why we cannot resort to what would be an ideal method. But there is this further reason. Supposing your milk is free from tubercle bacilli. You are still liable to get it affected by the handling of the milk. All these epidemics that have been referred to—the one at Bournemouth, the one at Epping and the one at Chelmsford—were due to infection which reached the milk after it was taken from the cow, and that is the reason why I see no other way of dealing with this vital health question than by having a properly organised system for pasteurising milk, properly controlled and conducted. That, I think, is the only way in which we can hope to eliminate this scourge of mortality.

One does feel sympathy for the one-sixth of the retail milk producer-salesmen in the country who would suffer. It would be a change for them to have to pasteurise the milk, but I think they can imitate Denmark and go in for co-operation. Or, if necessary, they should be compensated in some way. It would be a very small price to pay, and it would do away with the death rate from this cause which we have to face at the present time. I cannot see what good it is to spend vast sums on health services and leave this bad sore open year after year. It is a waste of money, and the fact that tuberculosis attacks not only weaklings but the strongest child as well as the weakest child, does to my mind make this an extremely urgent question. I very much regret, for the reason which I am bound to accept—namely, the question of cost—that this experiment cannot be tried out in Glasgow and in Poole in order that we may see how it works, so that when the Government come to consider their more general legislation (and we have no information as to when that will be) we should have gained some experience. Mistakes are always made at the commencement, and I think the general legislation would have been helped by this experiment. I can only express the hope that the matter will be solved in the not distant future.


My Lords, after the very weighty speech which we have just heard I hope that the Leader of the House can tell us that he is determined to support Lord Marks and not the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth. But, in case he has not reached that conclusion, I hope that your Lordships will on this occasion not follow your Leader, but will be swayed by the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Dawson of Penn. I rise only because I have been asked to say on behalf of my noble friends, and particularly on behalf of Lord Snell, who is prevented by his other duties from being here this afternoon, that the Medical Committee who advise the London County Council have carefully and thoroughly examined this question, and they are very anxious indeed that these powers in Clause 21 should be given to the Poole Corporation. I am authorised to say that it is the opinion of those who have studied this matter on behalf of the greatest City in the world that this is a desirable power to put into the hands of a local authority which is prepared to use it, and which asks for it. I have always understood that the difficulty in this country has been that we pass Acts of Parliament which have to be administered by local authorities but, owing to human frailties and inefficiencies, the local authorities do not always do their duty. Here you have a case where an energetic and progressive local authority, stimulated by local distresses, wishes to act a little beyond the present law, and the Government say, "No. You wait until we have legislation for the whole of the country." In other words, the speed of the fleet has to be once more the speed of the slowest ship.

May I ask the Leader of the House when we are to expect this legislation of the Government? I understand the timetable is already overcrowded. I have been in one House of Parliament or another for about sixteen years, and I have never known a time when the time-table was not overcrowded. The machinery of Parliament is very cumbersome, and one of the greatest reforms needed—far more important than the reform of your Lordships' House—is the reform of the machinery of Parliament. We always get into this difficulty. When may we expect this legislation? I think it is bound to be slow in coming. The question is a complicated one, but the principle can be applied here, and it seems rather unfortunate to hold back and re- tard a forward-looking local authority, thereby discouraging other local authorities who may want to do the same thing in order to prevent this terrible loss of life and suffering, particularly among young children. We have had all this talk recently about malnutrition and the health of the population; we have a special Committee under the Chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, to consider how to improve the physical fitness of the people; and here is an attempt to stop at its source a cause of sickness and death. Yet the noble Viscount the Leader of the House says we must wait until the whole matter has been examined once more and there is a general Bill for the whole country! These unfortunate people in Poole have to wait a little longer. I hope that your Lordships will persuade your leaders on the Government Bench to alter their attitude to this Bill and that if the noble Lord, Lord Marks, goes to a Division you will support him.


My Lords, I intend to address your Lordships very briefly in support of the Motion which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Cranworth. It may appear odd that I should cross swords on this subject with so eminent a specialist as the noble Viscount, Lord Dawson of Penn. I should not have intervened in the debate if it had not seemed to me that it might be thought that your Lordships generally accepted the principle that pasteurisation must come at some time, and that the only issue at this stage was whether it should be introduced through a local authority or by the Government of the day. One must examine the matter from the point of view of whether pasteurisation is beneficial to the community at large. To arrive at a true conclusion I think one must consider whether there are in practice any risks of disease from pure milk at all. I use the term "pure" in two senses, both as meaning pure through being straight from the cow and not treated in any way, and also as being clean. I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Dawson, has pointed out that clean milk may also be infected, but I wish my use of the word "pure" to cover both.

Viscount Dawson of Penn stressed the fact that although milk itself, when it came from the cow, might be perfectly clean and free from infection, infection might be carried by the milkman or some other person having contact with the milk before it arrives to be consumed. I do not think this is the best way to prevent that. As far as I can see the old saying, "Prevention is better than cure," might well be applied in this case. I regard the pasteurisation of milk as a very doubtful cure at its very best. I consider that an accredited licence is prevention from the source. I notice that the noble Lord opposite smiles at a layman giving an opinion on such a subject, but I would remind your Lordships that the noble Lord who moved this Motion said it was not aways safe to take the evidence of an expert witness. I am trying to give evidence as a farmer, not pretending to be an expert one unless I am expert by reason of the fact that I lose a large amount of money on my farm. Let encouragement surely be given to the Accredited Scheme, and not only encouragement but force, if necessary, to induce the remaining two-thirds of the farmers to come into the Scheme. I need not remind your Lordships that one-third of those who are producing milk for liquid consumption are already in the Scheme.

I want to speak briefly from another angle of the case. I think I can submit with confidence to your Lordships that germs, and particularly the germs of tuberculosis, are not only, if at all, caused by drinking milk, but are mainly caused by the conditions in which the people who drink that milk live. That is the angle, I submit, from which this question should be tackled. The noble Lord opposite will agree, I think, that no disease can thrive in clean surroundings, and it is at least open to question whether tuberculosis germs are not found even in pasteurised milk. It is generally accepted I think, as was pointed out by the noble Lord who moved the Motion, that pasteurised milk is not so nutritious. That seemed to be supported by the noble Viscount, Lord Dawson, when he said—I cannot remember exactly of what country or district he was speaking—that the children were allowed to drink fresh milk and only the adults received pasteurised milk. That, to my mind, if carried to its logical conclusion, is a very strong reason for allowing everyone to drink fresh milk.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers—and I do not wish that to be confused with speaking on behalf of vested interests, which is something quite different, for as the Leader of the House has pointed out, vested interests are of no account in this matter—it will spell ruin to practically all producer-retailers if pasteurisation is generally adopted throughout the country. Not only that, but if one is thinking of vested interests, it will, in fact, place all the largest distributors in a strangle-hold position, for they will be the only people able to afford the plant necessary for pasteurisation. In conclusion, I would say this. If Poole is allowed to carry out this experiment, there is no doubt that a great many other local bodies will wish to follow suit and, as Lord Cranworth pointed out, you cannot very well deny the same power to other local authorities. For that reason I think we must thrash this question out now, and I would urge your Lordships to vote as I intend to do, for the Motion standing in the name of Lord Cranworth.


My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to explain the attitude which Poole Corporation now occupy. The House has given a Second Reading to the Bill, which is an unopposed Bill. It will therefore go to the Committee, and not very much expense will be associated with it if we are not required to deal with this vexed question. As the Lord Chairman has intimated, if it now goes to Committee, in view of what has taken place he would feel obliged under his authority to convert it into an opposed Bill, and we should then have very considerable expense in connection with that which had to be investigated very largely on behalf of Poole Corporation. We should be quite satisfied for our Bill now to pass as it stands, with the instruction to the Committee that Clause 21 be deleted.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.