HL Deb 02 June 1981 vol 420 cc1175-7

7.35 p.m.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Sharpies.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Lord NUGENT of GUILDFORD in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Exemption of certain premises used for manufacture or preparation of food from requirement to register with local authority]:

Lord Airedale moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 9, leave out from beginning to ("food") in line 12 and insert— (""(3A) Nothing in this Part of this Act shall apply so as to require the registration under this section— (a) of domestic premises, if the only food intended for sale which is prepared or manufactured on them is").

The noble Lord said: I suggest it would be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 togethrr because together they achieve a single purpose. Section 16 of the Food and Drugs Act 1955 requires that premises used for the preparation of food must be registered with the local authority. It was never, I think intended that this provision should apply to organisations such as the Women's Institutes, whose members prepare food in their own homes. Recently, however, doubt arose about it and the Bill is the result of that, seeking, as it does, to exempt Women's Institutes and such organisations from the requirement of the 1955 Act.

People's homes are, of course, domestic premises, and the Bill therefore refers to domestic premises, but there are also others worthy organizations—notably the Scouts and Guides—whose members also prepare food in aid of good causes for sale on produce stalls and so on, and they prepare their food not in people's homes but in scout huts and the like. Therefore, these amendments, having referred first to domestic premises, go on to mention premises of any description provided that the food is not being prepared for sale in the course of trade. I trust that that adequately explains the purpose of the amendments.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

This is perhaps not the most important Bill we are discussing this Session, but it is of great importance to many groups of people; we have heard reference to Women's Institutes, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and there are co-operative women's guilds and many other organisations which depend for much of their vitality and livelihood on being able to produce food in their own homes for sale at sales of work, jumble sales and so on, and the intention of the Bill has the wholehearted support of the Opposition. My only concern is whether, if the amendment were made—we feel it is a worthy amendment—it would in any way impede the ultimate progress of the measure on to the statute book.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Cullen of Ashbourne, who I understand is to reply for the Government, will be able to tell your Lordships whether he feels that there would be any impediment to the ultimate progress of the Bill on to the statute book if the amendment were accepted. Our concern is to ensure that the Bill gets onto the statute book as soon as possible.

Baroness Sharples

I am delighted to accept the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, which has been supported by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. I wish that all of our business could be carried out as easily as this. I wish to support the noble Lord, Lord Airedale.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

I am glad to repeat what I said on Second Reading; namely, that the Government support the amendment. The Amendment is not confined purely to scout and guide huts; it relates to premises generally. But I can assure the Committee that this does not open the way for widespread circumvention of registration. This is because the exemption granted by the Bill will not apply if the person preparing the food is doing so in the course of his or her trade or business. Again, if premises have to be registered because they are caught by Section 16, the fact that on occasion food is prepared in them for sale for charitable purposes will not exempt them from registration.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, said that he was in favour of the amendment so long as it did not impede the passage of the Bill, and I understand that there is no danger of that.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Airedale moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 16, after ("(b)") insert ("of premises of any description if the only food intended for sale which is prepared or manufactured on them is").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.

[House adjourned during pleasure from 7.43 until 7.50 p.m.].