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Public Health (Regulations As To Food) Bill

Volume 180: debated on Friday 16 August 1907

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As amended, considered.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

said the President of the Local Government Board had introduced one Amendment at the request of Members of the Opposition in order to meet their views. In the opinion of a good many persons this Bill would create a great deal of anxiety, because the department would have power to make by-laws to enable them to enter into every private kitchen or larder in the country. He had had a conference with the right hon. Gentleman in which he had explained certain matters to him, but he did not wish to detain the House by going into those matters, as the patronage Secretary appeared to object to all speeches from the opposition side of the House.

THE PARLI AM ENTARY SEC-RETARY TO The TREASURY
(Mr. GEORGE WIHITELEY, Yorkshire, W.R., Pudsey)

I do not think the noble Lord has the slightest justification for that remark.

said he would content himself by asking the right hon. Gentleman to give the House the same assurance on the Third Reading that he had given to him in private.

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said the noble Lord had appealed to him to add to what he stated on the Second Reading when he gave an assurance that the Local Government Board would exercise the power and authority of this Bill with circumspection and with every consideration for the interests affected. The reason why he asked for these wide powers was that the evils with which this Bill was concerned were so serious and had reached such a stage that public opinion very properly demanded from his Department that it should grapple with the importation, storage, preparation, and distribution not only of unsound food, but of some kinds of food which were sound until they reached some of the stages of preparation when so-called preservatives and deleterious ingredients were applied to them from which the public had a right to be protected. This power could not be given to the Local Government Board in a statutory form passed in clauses through this House; it must take the form of regulations made from time to time by the Board itself on the authority and recommendation of its competent medical staff. He had assured the noble Lord and hon. Members on both sides of the House that these regulations would be carefully drawn. Consideration would be shown to all the classes affected compatible with their responsibility to the consumer and the public, who required to be protected to a greater extent from unsound food than they had been in the past. In the enforcement of these regulations they would see that even-handed justice was done against the wrongdoer from whatever country he might come. The Bill was welcomed by the local authorities, the honest manufacturers, and genuine producers, and as to the other class he did not think they ought to exercise much concern. Under the Bill it would be impossible for some interests to get from officers capricious or partial action, and anything the Board could do to frustrate that kind of thing would be done. The Bill was absolutely necessary, more particularly when they remembered that some of our Colonies made such a fuss about sending to this country only the best goods which were produced, under all sorts of stringent conditions and regulations which they had already commenced to withdraw. He had also heard from countries which were not British colonies that the so-called regulations had already lapsed and were being administered with considerable laxity. Forty-three millions of people had a right to be protected from that sort of thing, and the poor looked to him to save them from the evils of unsound meat. He could only accomplish that by such regulations as he now asked the House to empower his Department to draw up. If the regulations made caused any irritation, he would be very pleased at the end of six or nine months to consider the best way of removing the irritation.

Question put and agree to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.