HC Deb 03 April 1919 vol 114 cc1399-400W

asked the Food Controller whether he is aware that the Bermondsey food and drugs inspector recently prosecuted a retailer at the Tower Bridge Police Court for selling butter containing more water than is sanctioned by law; that the secretary of the Butter and Cheese Import Committee wrote to the magistrate pointing out that this was Government butter, and therefore this was a case of one Government Department prosecuting another for not complying with the law and asking him to withdraw the case, and further stating that a large percentage of butter which the Committee were compelled to purchase from Ireland contained a high percentage of excess moisture above that which is allowed by law; and that the magistrate said that he had no power to withdraw the case, that the action of the Committee was extraordinary, and that he considered it his duty to make the letter public, and fined the defendant 20s. and 15s. 6d. costs; whether the butter ration is one ounce and the price 2s. 6d. per Ib.; whether food inspectors are appointed to protect the public; whether he has sanctioned this attempt on the part of a Gov- ernment Committee to defeat the ends of justice; and whether private traders will be similarly treated?


The facts are generally as stated in the first part of the question. At present, owing to the shortage of supplies, it is necessary for the Food Controller to obtain butter from every available source, and it is impossible for him to avoid receiving a certain amount of butter which contains more than 16 per cent. of moisture. The actual amount so received is, however, very small. In the ordinary course it is issued to bakers and manufacturers, but under present conditions of transport and storage some small quantity may be distributed inadvertently to the trade. Under the distribution scheme of the Ministry of Food butter is allotted to traders and taken up by them in good faith, and it therefore seemed to the Ministry undesirable that the trader in question should be penalised for the quality of the butter which he was bound to accept.