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Volume 221: debated on Thursday 23 July 1874

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asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he will state what steps the Government is prepared to take in order to mitigate the hardships which may arise from prosecutions under the Adulteration of Food Act before an opportunity has been afforded for submitting to Parliament such amendments in the law as have been suggested by the Select Committee who have recently reported on the subject?

Since I had the honour of receiving a deputation introduced by my hon. Friend, and by the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Cotton), which was numerously and influentially attended, and which requested that some course might be adopted with a view of limiting the prosecutions under the Adulteration Act, I have consulted the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who agrees in the opinion I expressed, that it would be impossible for the Government to take any steps which would have the effect of restricting the operation of the law, while they would not feel justified in introducing a suspensory Bill on the subject. I trust, however, and my right hon. Friend agrees with me, that having regard to the Report of the Select Committee, with the terms of which the public are generally familiar, the local authorities should be extremely careful in instituting prosecutions, especially on the subject of tea adulteration, until an opportunity has been afforded for fresh legislation. I may add that great care should be taken in any fresh appointment of analysts.