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Clause 15—(Provisions As To Offences)

Volume 65: debated on Thursday 30 July 1914

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(1) If any person commits an offence against this Act, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding in the case of a first offence five pounds and in the case of a second or subsequent offence fifty pounds, and if the offence is a continuing offence to a further fine not exceeding forty shillings for each day during which the offence continues.

(2) Proceedings against a dairyman for failure to comply with an Order made under the Second Schedule to this Act requiring the dairyman not to supply milk from a dairy may be taken before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction either in the place where the offence was committed or in the place where the dairy is situated, and shall be taken only by the authority by which the Order was made.

(3) Where the occupier of a dairy is charged with an offence against this Act, he shall be entitled upon information duly laid by him to have any other person whom he charges as the actual offender brought before the Court at the time appointed for hearing the charge; and, if after the commission of the offence has been proved, the occupier of the dairy-proves to the satisfaction of the Court—

  • (a) that he has used due diligence to enforce the execution of this Act and the Milk and Dairies Orders; and
  • (b) that the said other person had committed the offence in question without his knowledge, consent, or connivance;
  • that other person shall be summarily convicted of the offence, and the occupier shall be exempt from any fine, and the person so convicted shall, in the discretion of the Court, be also liable to pay any costs incidental to the proceedings.

    (4) When it is made to appear to the satisfaction of the authority by or on whose behalf proceedings are about to be taken—

  • (a) that the actual occupier of the dairy has used all due diligence to enforce the execution of this Act and the Milk and Dairies Orders; and
  • (b) by what person the offence has been committed; and
  • (c) that it has been committed without the knowledge, consent, or connivance of the occupier of the dairy and in contravention of his orders;
  • proceedings shall be taken against the person who is believed to be the actual offender without first proceeding against the occupier of the dairy.

    (5) The duty of taking proceedings for enforcing the provisions of Section 1 of this Act shall rest on the county council or county borough council, without prejudice, however, to the power of a sanitary authority in a county to take such proceedings, and the duty of taking proceedings for enforcing the provisions of any Milk and Dairies Order shall rest on the local authority prescribed in the Order, and the clerk of the local authority or other officer whom the local authority may appoint, shall have power, if so authorised by the local authority, to institute and carry on such proceedings.

    (6) Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act to the contrary all fines imposed in any proceedings instituted by or on behalf of the local authority in the exercise of their powers and duties under this Act shall be paid to the authority and carried to the credit of the fund out of which the expenses incurred by the authority under this Act are defrayed.

    I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (5), to insert the words "Provided that in cases where the Local Government Board direct that the council of a non-county borough shall exercise and perform within the borough the powers and duties of a county council under Sections 3 and 4 of this Act, the duty of taking proceedings for enforcing the provisions of Section 1 of this Act in such borough shall rest on the council thereof and not on the county council?

    Under Clause 1 the county council or borough council, without any prejudice to the local sanitary authority, impose the duty of preventing the sale of tuberculous milk. Clause 3 imposes the duty of stopping the supply in that case, and it is possible under Sub-section (4) for this duty to be specifically imposed upon the local authorities for the purposes of the Diseases of Animals Act, that is to say, on a non-county borough. Clause 15 and these three Clauses make it the statutory duty in the non-county borough for the county councils to enforce the provisions of Clause 1, and it may well be that this over-lapping may induce the county councils in many cases to oppose the transfer under Clause 3, to the non-county borough councils, because they would feel there would be a great deal of over-lapping, and that it would be extremely difficult for them to carry out their statutory duties and to apportion the expenses if the same duties are partly performed by the non-county boroughs. In a matter of this kind there is a great danger of what is everybody's job becoming nobody's job, and I think the right hon. Gentleman, by accepting the Amendment, would make the Act far more effective.

    This proviso deals with exceptional cases of certain non-county boroughs who have power under the Diseases of Animals Act. They also will have power of inspection of the cattle under Clauses 3 and 4 of this Act dealing with tuberculosis, because it is obviously undesirable that two authorities in the same town should be doing the same work. That being so, it will, I think, devolve upon them also to enforce the provisions of Clause 1, and it would bring confusion to the authorities if the county council should have this small fraction of a piece of work in a town, and that a borough council should do the rest. Therefore, I think the hon. Gentleman is justified in suggesting that the whole should be treated as one, and the duties performed by one authority.

    Will he make it clear in the Bill that this is only to apply to those councils which have the power already?

    This proviso relates to those cases—

    "where the Local Government Board direct that the council of a non-county borough shall exercise and perform within the borough the powers and duties of a county council under Sections 3 and 4 of this Act."
    Sub-section (4) of Clause 3 provides that:
    "The Local Government Board may by order direct that the council of any non-county borough within the county, which is a local authority for the purposes of the Diseases of Animals Acts, 1894–1911, shall exercise and perform within the borough the powers and duties of the county council under this and the next succeeding Section."
    Therefore that limitation is imported into this proviso by the fact that it is in the Section referred to.

    I cannot admit the legal interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman puts upon the words of this Clause as embodying the words in Clause 3. If this is read by itself it is clear that it will be at the discretion of the Local Government Board to direct that a council of a non-county borough, which is not an authority for the purposes of the Diseases of Animals Acts, shall exercise and perform these duties, which otherwise would fall on the county council. It is at the discretion and possibly the caprice of the Local Govern- ment Board, under considerable pressure from some non-county borough, to allow them to exercise these powers, and so constitute a little island in a large county council area, which may involve overlapping and less drastic treatment on the part of this non-county borough as compared with that exercised by the county of which it forms a part.

    These exceptions are in themselves undesirable, because you are giving to the authority with comparatively small interests. powers as to which all kinds of local pressure may be used, whereas in the case of a larger area it is not likely that the whole county is going to be effected by the local considerations of that particular area. I understand my right hon. Friend intends to limit this power to those non-county boroughs which have powers as defined in Clause 3. I agree with hon. Members opposite that if this proviso is passed as it stands it is doubtful whether it is limited to that. My right hon. Friend knows very well the different views held by local authorities on this matter, and I desire to take this opportunity of thanking him for going such a long way to meet us in having the provisions put into the Bill, and not being left to the discretion of any Government Department. I think it would be in accordance with the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has met us if he makes it clear now, or undertakes to do it in another place, that this is directly limited to non-county boroughs, which already have the powers referred to.

    I cannot say that I feel any doubt whatever on the matter, but after the views which have just been expressed there seems to be some ambiguity in the words. It is only a drafting point, and before the Bill reaches another place I will suggest a drafting Amendment to make the point quite clear.

    Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to.