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Food And Drugs (Milk And Dairies) Bill

Volume 400: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1944

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Considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair.]

I propose to call the first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams).

On a point of Order. I wish to ask the Leader of the House about the procedure to-day. I was informed by Mr. Speaker that if the point was put at the beginning of the Committee stage, it would be in Order. If the proceedings in Committee on this Bill are protracted, as they may well be, will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that the Third Reading will not be taken to-day?

Yes, I think the hon. Member's request is a perfectly reasonable one. If the Committee stage were protracted—we hope it will not be—the Third Reading would not be pressed for to-day.

Clause 1—(Amendment Of S 20 Of Principal Act)

I beg to move, in page r, line to, to leave out "registration," and to insert "licensing."

I think the Amendment is perfectly clear. Registration is, normally, a process in which everyone who falls into the category being registered is entitled to be registered. Licensing implies discretion, and as, under this Bill there is a Ministerial discretion, I think "licensing" and not "registration" should be inserted. I want the public to know what we are trying to do. I want this word put in the Bill because this is the first Measure, apart from those relating to the sale of alcoholic liquor, which introduces into this country the conception of the corporate State. [Interruption.] It is just that—you are not to be entitled to go into the industry, without either the permission of the State, or those inside the industry. When we get a Bill incorporating that Fascist doctrine attention should be drawn to it. It is no good the Minister of Agriculture grinning rather amiably. In this Bill the Minister is taking the power to refuse a licence to a man because he does not like him. It is 18B all over again. If the Minister thinks that a man is not going to comply with the regulations, he may refuse or cancel the registration. I think my purpose is clear, and while I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee, I do think that, constitutionally, this is a point of the utmost importance.

The hon. Gentleman has put forward his objection to the word "registration." He would rather have the word "licensing," but, if the hon. Gentleman looks at the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, he will find the word "register" is used in that Act for premises used for the manufacture of ice cream, or for the preparation or manufacture of sausages and manufactured foods. The hon. Gentleman said he would prefer the word "licensing." He will agree that it makes for some confusion because in Section 21 of that Act, the word "licence" is used where the provision is made for licensing in relation to the special designations of milk. Thus we have the registration of the dairyman, but a licence for special designation of milk, and if the same word were used for the two meanings, I think the hon. Member will agree, there might be some confusion. In the Act the word "registration" is already used, and the word "licence" is used in a slightly different sense. Perhaps he will agree that we can leave it this way.

I agree that the hon. Lady is in a difficulty with regard to terminology, but she has not answered my point. This Bill proposes that a milk dealer, before he can do business, must be registered, not that every milk dealer must be registered. It is because of the fact that, under Sub-section (2, b), registration can be withdrawn, that it ceases to be registration, and is in fact licensing. Public-houses are not registered, they are licensed. Doctors are registered, on the other hand, because every man who has passed the necessary examination, and gone through the prescribed study, is, automatically, entitled to be registered by the General Medical Council, and that registration can only be cancelled, if he has committed a medical crime and has been properly tried by the General Medical Council. Here we have no appeal of a proper kind. Here it is licensing, not registering, and I object to a misleading term being used in the Bill.

Perhaps I might say one word more on this. Already there is power, using the word "register," to withdraw registration under the Food and Drugs Act. I know that if hon. Members were drafting that Act now, they might find more suitable words, but if we begin we shall have to make further Amendments. I do think the word "licence" should not be used in two senses.

Can the Minister withdraw registration because of something "in his opinion"? That is the issue.

The hon. Lady must read her own Bill. I do not ask Ministers to understand their Bills; that is beyond the capacity of many of them. Other people draft them, and Ministers come before us to try and explain them, but here it is stated:

"for the refusal or cancellation of any such registration by the Minister if, in his opinion …"

I am sorry if I did not actually read the Clause, but if the hon. Member will look at the Act of 1938 to which I have referred he will find it is stated, in Section 14, Sub-section (4):

"If a person on whom a notice is served under the last preceding subsections fails to show cause to the satisfaction of the local authority, they may refuse the application or, as the case may be, cancel the registration of the premises, and shall forthwith give notice to him of their decision in the matter, and shall, if so required by him within fourteen days of their decision, give to him within forty-eight hours a statement of the grounds on which it was based."
It is exactly the same. The word "registration" is used there.

Under the 1938 Act each new dairy farmer has to apply for registration but local authorities have no power to refuse an application. It is automatic registration. Here there is nothing automatic and it, therefore, becomes a licence. It may well be that if this Amendment is carried, other consequential Amendments will have to follow.

The hon. Member appears to be dealing with matters which will come under later Amendments.

The Minister has explained that, under the original Act, there is power for the local authority to withdraw registration. I am not clear whether, under the original Act, there is power for the local authority to refuse to give registration in the first place.

I am sorry if I did not make it clear. They may refuse the application for registration for ice- cream and other premises under Section 14 of the 1938 Act; and the same thing applies in other legislation under which other matters are registered. I was asked whether there is any other case where the word "registration" is used, where registration can be refused. There are several cases. One which I know more intimately than others, is in connection with adoption societies, because I, personally, introduced that provision. Under that, the local authority can refuse registration.

Is not this an extreme example of the regrettable effect of legislation by reference? Neither the Committee nor the Minister knows where we are. We are continually being referred to some other Statute. That shows the great difficulty in which Members are put by this continual reference to other legislation.

The only reason why I referred to another Statute, and to other cases of the same sort, was that I was asked whether the word "registration" was used with the same meaning in other Statutes. That is why I referred to the 1938 Act, and to other matters, such as adoption societies and nursing homes.

The hon. Lady has not quoted enough. If she will look at Section 14, Sub-section (2), of the other Act, she will see that it says:

"Subject to the following provisions of this section, the local authority shall …"
register premises. In other words, they have to start by registering, and then they have to prove their case, not give their opinion. In this Bill, if the Minister thinks you should not be registered, you do not get registration, whereas, in the other Act, you are registered unless certain things are proved against you. It is shifting the onus on to the Minister.

I am sorry to get out of Order, but I suggest, with great respect, that it was the hon. Lady and not I, who first referred to that.

Amendment negatived.

On a point of Order. Am I to understand that my Amendment, which is to leave out "Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries" in line 13, and to insert "local authority," and which carries with it certain consequential Amendments, is out of Order?

Yes; it would be quite contrary to the intention of the Bill, as decided on the Second Reading. The hon. Member will remember that he specifically asked for a decision on that issue.

With great respect, I would point out that, on the Second Reading, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health asked that a system of compromise with the local authorities should be brought in. This Amendment is put down in the hope of fulfilling such a request.

During the Debate on the Second Reading, we were assured by the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary that every consideration would be given to the question of giving more responsibility in this matter to local authorities. It was on that understanding, quite definitely, that we agreed to the provision in the Bill.

On the Second Reading the matter was decided on a Division and there it stands.

Is it your Ruling, Major Milner, that an undertaking given by a Member on the Front Bench is not an undertaking?

I am not concerned with questions of undertakings; I am concerned with matters of Order. If this Amendment were to be carried, it would be quite contrary to the decision taken by the House on Second Reading. For that reason, I cannot permit it to be called or argued.

Without in the least disputing the Ruling of the Chair, may I put forward a consideration which may, conceivably, have escaped your notice, Major Milner? The long Title of this Measure is

"A Bill to Amend the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, relating to Milk and Dairies Regulations and other matters connected therewith."
There is no mention in that of what the Clause is for, namely, to hand over the whole powers to the Minister. Therefore, it seems to me that the Amendments on the Paper come within the scope of the Bill, and are not ruled out, if I may say so, as a result of the Debate and the vote on the Second Reading.

I am sorry but I have given my decision, and the hon. Member's remarks are really not relevant.

Mr. TURTON moved,

"That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"

but The CHAIRMAN, being of opinion that the Motion was an abuse of the Rules of the House, declined to propose the Question thereupon to the Committee.

On a point of Order. Can an opportunity be given to a Member on the Front Bench to explain what was meant by the undertaking which was given? Apparently, the whole undertaking is to be passed over sub silentio. I do not think that that is fair to the Committee.

The Government have very much in mind what was said by my hon. Friend on the Second Reading, and, on an opportune Amendment, I propose to say what we have in mind; but it does not arise now.

If there is an Amendment put down by the Government covering this matter, why cannot an Amendment in the name of a Private Member, which covers the same ground, be moved?

There can of course be no distinction between an Amendment moved by a Private Member and one by the Government, but I do not understand that the Government are thinking in precisely the same terms.

The Minister says that there is a possibility that this whole matter may come up on a relevant Amendment. May I suggest, for the sake of peace and progress, the Minister should be good enough to say what Amendment it is, in order that we may be prepared to speak on that Amendment?

I cannot, of course, indicate what the Government have in mind because I do not know. I understood the Minister to say, quite clearly, that an opportunity will arise elsewhere on the Bill; and I do not doubt that that is the case. But the question before the Committee at the moment is the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill).

On a point of Order. I understood from my right hon. Friend that his Amendment will deal with the very point which you have just ruled out of Order. The question I want to put to you, with great respect, is: Why is an Amendment in Order when it is moved by a Member on the Front Bench, while an Amendment on the same point is out of Order when put down by another hon. Member?

Clearly there can be no discrimination of any kind. I do not know what is in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. He said that, at a later stage, there will an opportunity to say something on the point and I have no doubt that he is correct.

As I understand it, the point will, in fact, arise upon the Amendment which has just been called.

While fully appreciating the reasons, Major Milner, which led you to give your decision, and of course that decision is final, will it not be in Order on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," to raise this whole principle, and also the failure of the Government to live up to their promises?

We cannot have a discussion upon any matter which would nullify a decision taken by the House upon the Second Reading of the Bill.

The Minister has indicated that he proposes to deal with this matter upon an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill) which has been called by the Chair. May I ask, Major Milner, whether it will be in Order upon this Amendment which you have now called, to discuss the question of the responsibilities of local authorities as against those of the Minister?

We must really make progress. Clearly this discussion cannot go on indefinitely.

With the greatest respect, may I put this point? You have, apparently, ruled that the Minister will be in Order in dealing with the point under discussion, which is the same point as is raised on an Amendment which you have just ruled to be out of Order, and what we here fail to understand is the fairness of that Ruling.

The hon. Member will forgive me, but the failure is really on his part. I have not given any Ruling as to what may or may not be in Order, when the Minister comes to deal with the point.

I am sorry to be so persistent, but I understood the Ruling to be that it would riot be in Order for the Minister to deal with the position of local authorities on the Amendment which you have just called. The Minister has already stated that that was the occasion which he hoped to take for giving the views of the Government on this point. If he will not be in Order in doing so, can the Minister indicate where he proposes to do it?

All we have done so far is to pass the Second Re ding of this Bill, the long Title of which I have already read out. Can you tell me, Major Milner, at what point during the Committee stage it would be in Order to discuss whether we should or should not transfer part or the whole of the functions of the local authorities, in relation to milk to the Minister? If we are not allowed to discuss that at any point, it seems to me that the opponents of the Bill have no possible method, in Committee, of expressing their views.

Surely on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" we can discuss it?

Is it not a well-known Ruling, which has been given again and again, that it is impossible, in Committee, to challenge the whole principle of a Bill which has passed Second Reading?

I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, to leave out from the beginning to the end of line 5, page 2, and to insert:

"(3) If it appears to the Minister of Agriculture that the public health is, or is likely to be, endangered by any act or default of a person who has applied to be or is registered as a dairy farmer, being an act or default committed in relation to the quality, storage or production of milk, a notice stating the place and time, not being less than seven days after the date of the service of the notice, on which the matter will be taken into consideration by the person appointed by that Minister and informing him that he may attend before such person with any witnesses whom he desires to call at the time and place mentioned to show cause why, for reasons specified in the notice, registration should not be refused or cancelled either generally or in respect of any specified premises.
(4) If a person on whom a notice is served under the preceding subsection fails to show cause to the satisfaction of the person appointed by the Minister as aforesaid, the Minister may refuse to register him as a dairy fanner or, as the case may be, cancel his registration and he shall forthwith give notice to him of his decision in the matter and shall, if so required by him, within fourteen days of his decision give to him within forty-eight hours a statement of the grounds on which it is based.
A person aggrieved by the decision of an authority under this section to refuse to register him or to cancel his registration may appeal to the county court judge of his district."
The object of this Amendment is to ensure that a dairy farmer is not struck off, the register or refused registration solely because, in the opinion of the Minister, and that means in the opinion of his servants, the regulations will not be complied with, but that he can only be struck off or refused registration upon proof of some definite act or fault on his part. Secondly, the Amendment would enable the dairy farmer to appear himself, and with witnesses, before whoever is deciding his case. Thirdly, the Amendment institutes a right of appeal to a court which is independent and the decision of which will be final. The object of this Bill is to bring clean milk to the home. It is equally important that the dairy farmer as well as the dairyman should be clean in his methods of handling the milk, and therefore it seems to me there must be a common rule applying to both, and there ought to be the same rights of appeal in both cases. I shall, later, examine what are the rights of appeal in the case of the dairyman.

I would direct the attention of the Committee to this Clause 1 in order to explain how the Amendment comes in. Clause 1 deals with the dairy farmer, and the Schedule to the Bill with the dairyman. The Clause lays down that the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Agriculture, should, jointly, make Regulations, and that alters the old arrangement under which the Ministry of Health alone made Regulations. Subsection (2) of the Clause says that the Regulations made for the registration of dairies shall provide:
"(a) for the registration by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of dairy farms and of persons carrying on, or proposing to carry on, the trade of a dairy farmer."
So far there is no objection; but the Clause goes on to provide
"(b) for the refusal or cancellation of any such registration by that Minister if, in his opinion, the Regulations will not be or are not being complied with."
That, I feel, is going a great deal too far. There is no necessity to show any act or default, no breach of the regulations. If the Minister or any of his servants think that anyone will not comply with those regulations then, without taking any evidence and with no right of appeal, the Minister's minions may deprive a man of a substantial part of his livelihood. I would like to give the Committee an illustration of how that would work out in another field. If the Minister of Transport thought, in peace-time, that he should come to Parliament for a Bill to safeguard persons on the road he would be entitled, on the same principle, to say that he wanted powers which would provide for the refusal of, or the cancellation of, a driver's licence if, in his opinion, the road traffic regulations would not be complied with. We have reached an extraordinary stage if Ministers are to be allowed to take away the livelihood of an individual simply by saying that, in their opinion, that individual is likely to transgress the law. So far as I know, there is no precedent for that, and if there were 10 or 15 precedents, I should still say the principle was wrong and one to which the Committee ought not to agree. In the case of transport, a larger section of the community would be affected, and there would be a great deal of feeling in the country, but I believe the country feels strongly that a matter of principle is involved here and that we ought not to concede such a right to Ministers.

Let the Committee consider the powers which are now operated by the Ministry of Health. They are contained in the Schedule. They are of importance because the Ministry of Health has had some experience in dealing with these cases, and the fact that the Minister of Health does not want his powers amended is a clear indication that it is perfectly possible to act effectively with the powers which Parliament has already given. The Schedule says:
"If it appears to an authority by whom dairymen are registered … other than the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries that the public health is or is likely to be endangered by any act or default of a person who has applied to be or is so registered by the authority, being an act or default committed—"
That shows that before any action can be taken there must be some definite wrongdoing or default on the part of the person whom it is proposed to strike off the register. The refusal to register or the cancellation of a registration must be based on something which the man has done which is capable of being proved. If the Committee follow out the scheme in the Schedule, they will find that where the Ministry or the local authority decides that a case should be raised there is an opportunity for the man, the dairyman, to appear and state his case and to bring witnesses; but under the terms of the present Clause that right is denied to the dairy farmer. One can state a case much more effectively with the help of witnesses than by merely making representations, which is the alternative offered in the Bill. Finally, there is a right of appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction. That is the system and it has worked so well that the Minister of Health does not come forward with any suggested alteration. The Minister of Agriculture, on the other hand, for reasons which he will no doubt give to the Committee, finds that he must take power to act alone and that is the point which the Committee will do well to consider.

Under Clause 1 the Minister has to prove no act or default. The test is simply the opinion of his civil servants, who are thus put entirely above the law. Civil servants, as well as anyone else, are liable to be wrong. The civil servant can decide the case on his mere whim. He is not called upon to hear evidence. He may have a representation from the dairy farmer, but he may have heard some other story, it may be from some farmer who has a grudge against that particular dairy farmer. There are all sorts of ways in which the view of the civil servant may be biased, and I do not think we as a Committee are entitled to allow any citizen to be placed in a position where his livelihood may be dependent upon the opinion of a civil servant. Why should we insist that an overt act must be proved in the case of the dairyman and not in the case of the dairy farmer? Clean milk is important to the community, but the surrender of the liberty of the individual is too great a price to pay for even clean milk. In view of what the Ministry of Health has done I do not think this Committee can afford to regard this Clause lightly and not give effect to the Amendment as it stands. I am not asking that the Amendment should necessarily be accepted in precisely this form, and it may be the Minister can think of some independent tribunal, but it seems to me that that independent tribunal ought to have the final decision. It seems to me that anything less than that would be to deprive the dairy farmer of his proper rights. On that point, I think the Committee should stand firm.

Before my hon. and learned Friend leaves that point, I do think it is rather important to emphasise that this Amendment does not mean, in any sense, that there is any reason why we should not get milk as clean as possible.

I am much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend. I thought I had met the case by saying that the Ministry could get quite clean milk under the procedure laid down. Of course, it is perfectly possible to get clean milk and, indeed, I was going to end by saying that I thought there was no reason why the Minister could not meet the Committee on this point, and do it perfectly efficiently, and at the same time ensure clean milk. My right hon. Friend was brought up on dairy milk, as I was myself, and, judging from his appearance, I think he has done extraordinarily well. I am well aware that there is a natural and proper desire for clean milk, and I want to see clean milk, but I do not want to buy clean milk at the price of the negation of what has always been considered fair play for the citizens of this country.

I support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh North (Mr. Erskine-Hill). I do not want to cover ground already covered by him, but it seems to me absolutely indisputable that this Bill, as it now stands, will place the prospective dairy farmer, and the man who is a dairy farmer now, completely at the mercy of the Ministry. The prospective dairy farmer will be forbidden to carry on the occupation he desires, not because he is a producer of dirty milk—that can easily be proved by tests—but because, in the Minister's opinion, he will not keep such regulations as the Minister may choose to make in the future. One can envisage the sort of thing that will happen when some civil servant goes down to a farm, sees the farmer and gives him certain advice which the farmer, a man of independent mind and with experience, will not accept. The civil servant will then report to the Minister that, in his opinion, that farmer is so independent that he is not the sort of chap who is likely to keep the regulations which the Minister is likely to make. So, under this Bill, the Minister will have power to refuse to register that farmer and, in this land of liberty, he will be able to stop that man carrying on that occupation after the war, although nothing can be cited to indicate or prove that the milk which that man produces is dirty. The dairy farmer is completely at the mercy of the Minister. At any moment the Minister may decide that, in his opinion, a farmer will not keep the regulations or has not kept them. No proof is required and there is no security for the dairy farmer.

I wonder whether, if this Bill becomes law, anyone will engage in this precarious occupation of dairy farming subject to the Minister's whim. Indeed, if this Bill becomes law, I cannot help thinking that the Minister will get an entirely new title throughout the country at large. He will not only be known as the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; he will also earn the title of "Dictator of Dairy Farmers." It is all very well for these powers to be held by a minister in war-time, but what we are concerned with in this Bill is whether the powers are to exist in peace-time I regret that this issue should have arisen at this moment. It has not been forced on the Government by any group of back-benchers. It was brought up by the Government, and our responsibility in this matter is great. It may be that the National Farmers' Union supports the Bill, at any rate, as far as clean milk is concerned, but I am sure that farmers who are fully occupied at present will, when this comes to their attention, feel very strongly that they should not be placed in complete bondage to the Minister. I am certain that those who hope to engage in the farming industry on their return from overseas, will feel equally strongly about it.

May I say a little about the provision in the Bill as to representations being made to the Minister? If the Minister's opinion has been formed against a dairy farmer, is it likely that he will change that opinion? To err is human, and we were told last week by the Parliamentary Secretary that no form of outside tribunal can be so human as a Minister has shown himself to be. I am sorry to say that, so far as this erring about decisions is concerned, the Minister seems to have been inhuman, for the Parliamentary Secretary said that in no single instance had the Minister found it necessary to change a decision in regard to a farmer. If this Bill goes through in its present form, we may have a Parliamentary Secretary boasting that no representation has caused a Minister to change his opinion. I cannot see why we should have this terrific difference between dairies and dairy farmers. It will be difficult for the man who runs a dairy farm, and also has a dairy shop in a neighbouring town. If the milk which comes from his farm is not clean, he has no security, but if it comes from his shop then he has ample security. I do not know why this invidious distinction is drawn, because it is a fallacy to suppose that all contaminated milk is contaminated when it leaves the farm. I believe that a great deal of the contamination takes place after it leaves the farm, and I find no reason why the farmer should be treated any differently from the dairy man. Either the Minister of Health has not asked for all the powers that he ought to have—and I cannot believe that—or the Minister of Agri- culture is asking for powers which are excessive. He cannot have it both ways.

That is all I propose to say in support of the case against the Bill as it now stands, on that matter. Now, I want to come to the terms of the Amendment, and I propose to deal with them quite shortly. The Amendment does not suggest an appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction. There may be an obvious argument against that, and it is for that reason that a county court judge was substituted for a court of summary jurisdiction, but I do not think that any supporters of this Amendment are wedded to the idea of the county court judge. It seems to me to be the right solution, but the Minister might be able to find another. One thing can be said about a county court judge—he would consider the matter without a jury and it could not be said he had an axe to grind. The whole question he would have to decide would be whether the milk was clean or not, but, if that solution does not appeal to the Minister, I suggest we must have an independent, impartial tribunal who will announce their decisions to the appellant and whose decisions will be final. We should not have that modern creation, which we have under Regulation 18B, of an advisory committee, even though it may be called an appeal tribunal, which hears the appellant, hears his witnesses, and then, behind closed doors, makes a report to the Minister which no-one sees and which the Minister is at complete liberty to ignore. That sort of tribunal would be complete eyewash and would leave the Minister still the dictator of dairy farming.

Under the Amendment, there would be an appeal from the decision of the person who is appointed to make the inquiry to the county court judge. It would not be an appeal from the Minister. We have had a similar provision, even if it was an appeal from the Minister, under the Pensions Appeal Tribunal, and 25 per cent. of these appeals have been allowed by this independent tribunal. I cannot believe it possible that, if such an independent tribunal was appointed to deal with this matter, one would not find some percentage of appeals allowed. I do not know whether the Minister will be reluctant to accept this Amendment. If he is, it seems to me that that reluctance must spring from fear that he may be shown to be wrong. I cannot conceive why it should be assumed that the Minister and his civil servants are the only persons capable of deciding whether regulations are kept or not, and whether the milk is clean. They are questions of fact. In my view it is nonsense to say that only the Minister is capable of deciding and even greater nonsense to say that we can only have clean milk, if we leave the decision on this matter to the Minister and his civil servants. I hope that the Committee will reject this vast advance, advocated by the Government, on the road to agricultural serfdom.

Although I am not wedded to the words of this Amendment and, indeed, I would oppose the introduction of the county court judge, yet I do support the principle that is indicated in the Amendment. In all matters affecting the agricultural industry where decisions have to be taken on the efficiency, or otherwise, of an agricultural holding or its occupier, it must be a point of English justice and freedom that a tribunal shall be set up to which cases can be referred.

May I ask the hon. and gallant Member what tribunal he is suggesting?

The hon. and learned Gentleman has anticipated my remarks. As I was saying I think the principle is necessary and, as regards the tribunal, I agree that the county court judge is, in fact, an independent tribunal, but I would not tie the Minister down to any particular form of tribunal. My own view is that if organisations connected with the industry were to produce a panel from which the Minister could select individuals, provided that those individuals were nominated by the Minister and given a definite period or term of years, that would adequately meet my point of view. I want an independent tribunal, but—

Would my hon. and gallant Friend say how he can describe a tribunal which is appointed by the man who is being appealed against, as an independent tribunal? I understand that he is proposing that an appeal from the Minister's decision should be dealt with by a body set up by the Minister. Would he explain how he can describe such a body as an independent tribunal?

I think that interruption is a little tardy. After all, somebody has to appoint a tribunal, whether it is the county court judge or not. Whichever way you look at it, somebody has to appoint the tribunal and, therefore, I proposed that the Minister should appoint it. The great point about independent tribunals is that the members of the tribunals should have a complete independence from whatever organisation they are nominated, and, equally, complete independence from a Government Department. That, I concede, but that does not mean that the Minister is tied down in his selection of the members. The Committee should allow these independent tribunals to be set up, and the Minister to decide what type of tribunals they should be.

The hon. and gallant Member suggests that independent tribunals should be set up, nominated by the Minister of Agriculture. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I should like to ask the hon. and Gallant Member what exactly he has in mind. After the board is set up, is the decision of the independent tribunal to be final, or will there be an appeal to the Minister on behalf of sanitary inspectors, or medical officers, and will his decision be final, or will the decision of the independent tribunal be final?

Any decision of the independent tribunal must, obviously, be final. I have in mind the case of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal.

I support the Amendment. I suggest that the Committee would do well, to think very carefully, before they refuse this Amendment or pass the Bill in its present form. The one thing we are all agreed upon, however we may differ about the machinery, is that we all want to see clean milk, but it should be possible to obtain clean milk, without the Minster being the sole arbiter whether a man shall, or shall not, make his living in dairy farming. I imagine that it is almost unique for a provision in a Bill of this kind to make it possible for the Minister to say, beforehand, that a man shall not engage in a profession, in which he is making his living. If a man breaks a regulation, or is found to be unsuitable, then somebody should be able to prevent him carrying on that trade in a manner which is not in the public interest, but to say that a man should be prevented from engaging in a particular occupation, merely on the ground that the Minister thinks he might not obey regulations, is surely going rather far, particularly when the man has no opportunity of appealing against that decision. That is a great injustice.

We are engaged, day by day, in increasing the control of the bureaucracy. We are making it more and more impossible for the independent man to carry on his business in his own way. It was said after the last war that we were going to build a land fit for heroes to live in, but, as I sit in this House and see Bill after Bill and regulation after regulation coming along, I sometimes wonder whether it will not take a hero to be able to live in this country after the war, if the planners and the bureaucrats have their way. I suggest that the Minister should think again about this. It should not be impossible to devise some means by which the Minister is not prosecutor, judge and jury in his own case, because that is what it comes to. There should be some opportunity for a man to appeal against a decision to the effect either that he is not to engage in dairy farming, or, alternatively, to appeal against the accusation that he is not carrying out his work properly. I suggest that, if the Minister will not accept the Amendment, he should indicate that he will, between now and the Report stage, find some form of words to meet the points which have been raised.

I want to appeal to the Minister and to suggest that this is not a wrecking Amendment. It is a helpful Amendment and there is no reason why it should not be accepted. We want clean milk, and we want justice done at the same time, and, if we can get both, why should we not have them? What we do not like is handing over complete powers to officials in an arbitrary manner. I do not believe that any body of hon. Members wants that. I do not see why the Minister should not give way on this occasion. The Amendment does not interfere with or injure the Bill, but it will enable the Minister to secure the cooperation of the people, who will otherwise have a feeling of soreness and a feeling that they are being bullied. We have seen the same kind of thing arising in the war agricultural executive committees. When the committee is good, everything works splendidly, but, if the committee is composed of unsuitable people, all sorts of abuses arise. For the Minister to say that he is responsible to this House is no answer, because there is no time to raise all these cases. Such cases are very often raised when it is too late, or when we are up against a time limit, and the same thing will happen here, when injustice is done. I appeal to the Minister not to get hon. Members' backs up in the Committee, as he has done in the past. He will find, if he goes through with this Amendment, that he will create a feeling of soreness.

This question of clean milk is of vital importance to the people of this country. The reports we have read about health and infantile mortality indicate that we cannot act too strongly or readily in getting clean milk. I consider that this is a wrecking Amendment. I am glad to see that some Tories are now talking about "dragooning and bullying." When it is a question of the working classes, or the masses of the people, there is never anything of that. The hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) said that we were promised after the last war, a wonderful country with homes for heroes, but what did we get? Nothing but unemployment and starvation, because, immediately the war was over, the hon. and gallant Member and his colleagues removed control and left the country at the mercy of all kinds of ravishers.

I think one hon. Member was appalled at the suggestion that the Minister should appoint a tribunal and said that such a tribunal could never be an independent tribunal. When the Minister appointed the Unemployment Board, did any hon. Members on the other side get agitated about it?

To what tribunal, appointed by the Minister, is the hon. Member referring?

It was the lives of millions of people of this country that were involved, and not one hon. Member on the other side objected to those millions of people being placed under a board appointed by a Minister.

On a point of Order. Is there any reason why we should not discuss the Food and Drugs (Milk and Dairies) Bill?

The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is getting a little wide of the mark, but I understand he is giving an illustration.

Did not the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, bring in the Minister of Pensions as an illustration?

It was a very important and apt illustration. Hon. Members are making objections to a tribunal appointed by the Minister to look after clean milk.

I do not in the least object to the hon. Member's illustration, which is a very good one, but to what tribunal to deal with the question of milk, which could be appointed by the Minister, is the hon. Member now referring?

I am not referring to anything that is in the Bill. [Interruption.] This has arisen out of the Amendment, which proposes a tribunal, and, in the course of the discussion, several hon. Members have vigorously opposed a tribunal appointed by the Minister. If hon. Members would pay attention to what is going on in the Committee, they would not get into such hopeless confusion. I was interested in the speech of the hon. Member who supported the Amendment.

Can the hon. Member explain whether he regards such a tribunal as that suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major York) as an independent tribunal?

I am not particularly interested in tribunals, because I am against the Amendment. I am quite agreeable that the Minister should make certain that good regulations are pre- pared, and that those good regulations are kept, and so, the hon. Member who supported the Amendment is deliberately trying to deceive the people when he says that you cannot get clean milk through the dictatorship of the Minister. Nobody is suggesting that, but you can get clean milk—

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for an hon. Member to accuse another hon. Member, of attempting to deceive?

The remark is not strictly in Order but I do not think we need be so thin-skinned.

I do not see how I can be out of Order in talking of deception in connection with the Tories. That is their normal practice. It is not a question of getting pure milk through the dictatorship of the Minister, but through good regulations, and through the Minister seeing that those good regulations are complied with.

I never said, I am sure, anything about getting pure milk from the dictator.

The hon. Member said that you cannot get pure milk through the dictatorship of the Minister. I know what the hon. Member said, and I do not see why he wants to dodge away when he is brought up against it. He also said that it was not always these dairy farmers who are to blame. In my early days, I started work with a dairy farmer. There have been very big changes since that time. At that time it was terrible. I do not know how some of us happen to be alive to-day when we consider the condition of dairy farming in the early days. There have, as I say, been great changes since then, but there are still dairy farms to which, once regulations were drawn up, the Minister could not in any circumstances give a certificate to the owner, because of the hopeless condition of the farm. The only condition under which the Minister could give a certificate, would be if there was complete rebuilding, or removal to some other and more suitable place. I know of places of that kind myself. The hon. Member said that it is not just the farmer who is to blame, but often the dairyman. He should argue that out with the mover of the Amendment, who is so concerned about the small man.

Will the hon. Member kindly confine himself to the Amendment, which deals with the question of registration and the method by which registration shall be refused or cancelled?

I was answering the argument of the hon. Member opposite, who wants to throw the blame on the small man. It is no use his nodding his head, because he said that it was not only the dairy farmer who is to blame, but very often the dairyman. I am not going to join with him in throwing the blame on to the small man. I only wish that lie would take it up with the mover of the Amendment, when he accuses the small man of selling impure milk. The hon. Member certainly cannot accuse the Co-operative movement of selling impure milk, because they serve the very best. I am in favour of the Minister being given the fullest powers, as this is such a vital matter in the interests of the people of this country. I believe that the Amendment is intended as a blocking or wrecking Amendment. The Minister should take power to prepare good regulations, and he should have the power to see that those regulations are complied with.

if one could look at these proceedings with philosophical detachment, one might feel that the opposition to the Minister is strong presumptive evidence that he is about right. That is how I look at it. If we were dealing with something else, say wine, we would be hilarious about it and have some great fun, but this is a very serious subject. When we gave a Second Reading to the Bill we entrusted the Minister with the new task of ensuring that the women and children—men do not seem much interested in milk—of our country should have a pure and abundant supply of milk. We agreed to that, and now that we come to the details of how to ensure that it is both pure and abundant, we hear all this talk about having some other authority than that which the Minister proposes. It seems to be rather unreal. The procedure under the Bill is simple and straightforward. Any farmer can understand it, and know why it is there and what he has to do. But this cumbersome and elaborate Amendment is rather frightening and will involve a lot of time and legal procedure and expense, if substituted for the Minister's own provision. If these matters were to go to a legal court, no person sitting in judgment could very well make sure of the facts told to him verbally in the court. He would have to take the court down to the farm, and see for himself. The whole reason for this provision is that the Minister may see that no one goes into this business, or stays in it, who is not fit for the purpose for which the Bill is intended.

One of the first necessities of dairy farming is an abundant supply of good water. If a farm is being run on dirty water taken from some pond or ditch, the Minister will be right in saying, "This is not good enough and the people in London ought to have something better than you provide. You have not got the first essential—an abundance of clean water." We know that the Minister is to arrange to supply water, but until he does so, it is wise to say to such a person, "You cannot go on with that milk business." If anyone wants to go into dairy farming the Minister will be able to say, "Have you proper facilities? If you have not, I cannot register you." He will have competent men working for him to ensure that he does the right thing by the public.

I deplore the fact that a nasty attack has been made on the Civil Service of this country. From my long experience of civil servants and the working of our own country, I believe the country owes as much to its civil servants as to any element in the community. We are dependent for our life and liberty on the great services of our Army, Navy and Air Force, but the day-to-day working of our country depends upon the civil servants, and I do not know of any in whom one cannot place complete confidence. Therefore, to say that the farmer will be the subject of the mere whim or the personal likes or dislikes of a civil servant, is a very nasty aspersion and entirely unwarranted. No civil servant, no well-qualified veterinary surgeon or sanitary inspector, who goes to see if the dairy farmer is running his business satisfactorily, acts on a mere whim or on his own likes or dislikes, but on the evidence before him in looking at the place. The person going to the farm will be a man of first-class qualifications, and high probity, and fully competent to decide whether there should be registration or not.

As I understood from the Debate previously, he will have abundant qualifications whether he be veterinary surgeon or sanitary inspector. The veterinary surgeon might be necessary to advise on the health and condition of the herd, which is of primary importance. I remember seeing a herd in Copenhagen, which had been reared by the Transport Workers' Union—as the result of a strike of dairymen—in which they would not have an animal which was not immune from disease. They had a marvellous herd and doctors always arranged for milk to be got from them for patients. We want to reach that standard here and eliminate dirty farms and dairy businesses. The Bill will work fairly, I am sure. Assuming that there is a case that is held to be unfair, cannot the dairyman find out his M.P., who can go and contact the Minister? We all know that he can. Hon. Members do this themselves. The man has, through his M.P., an appeal to the High Court of Parliament.

I have had no injustice myself. It does amaze me that "these gentlemen of England," who oppose the Minister, should be so concerned about the poor farmer being at the mercy of the Minister. Is not every tenant farmer in this country at the mercy of the landowner? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Can a tenant farmer come to this House to ask a Member to take up his case? Of course he cannot. I speak feelingly on this matter. This is a very fair analogy. My grandfather was a farmer in Wiltshire and he was ruined by high rents. He wanted a reduction.

When my grandfather went bankrupt as a result of the high rents, the farm was let to another man at a reduced rent of £80 a year. That is a fair sample of landlordism and how it works. I do not say that it is all like that; some landlords are very considerate and honourable men. But if I were a farmer I would sooner trust myself to the Minister and his staff than to any individual landowner. Therefore, we support the Minister in this matter, and if there is a Division we shall be prepared to support the Government.

The hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) seems to have approached the matter with less clarity of mind than he generally shows in Debate. The matter at issue is not a question of whether or not dairy farmers are producing clean milk. Every one of us who has personal and close access to the dairying industry in various parts of the country sees certain conditions in certain dairies that appal us, and we are at one in wishing to raise the standard of milk. If I thought for a moment that this provision we are debating, had anything to do with the production of pure milk in this country, I would support it wholeheartedly. The real point is this. Is the application of this very severe power of controlling the licensing of the registration, and, therefore, the life industry of the individual, to be decided as a matter of fact or opinion? It is idle to say that you cannot get a judgment on facts because a law court is not coming down to the farm and going over the premises of the dairy farmer. You might as well apply that to any offence against the law. It has no bearing whatever.

This matter divides itself into two points—one is the opinion of the Minister on a matter of fact, of whether a dairy farmer has or has not committed an offence, and the other is whether, at some unspecified future time, he will, or will not, commit an offence. These two linked but different issues, have to be decided by the opinion of one man, even if that one man be my right hon. Friend the Minister, in whom I have the utmost confidence, and that I believe is contrary to the best interests of the public. Therefore, the Amendment does not seek to raise or to lower the standard of what should be the production of pure milk. We would all support the raising of the standard. I have an idea at the back of my own mind that some day we shall be compelled to institute pasteurised milk throughout the country. It is a vexed question, but I believe we shall be driven to it. At the same time nobody in his senses wants to do anything to encourage, in any way, the continued production of impure milk, or to lower the already too low standard that we have to-day.

But that is not the issue before us now. It is the question first, that if that dairy farmer has offended, that offence should be capable of definite proof before a court, or some organisation separate from the Minister, who is entitled to his opinion but whose opinion should not be a final, overriding decision. If it applies to the cases in which an offence has or has not been committed in the past, how much more must it apply to a hypothetical case which may or may not arise in the future? That is the real point at issue. If the Minister can meet us on this real point of issue then I believe he will have a smooth passage for a Bill which generally speaking has the support of all. It raises a matter of grave principle, which I hope he will be able to clarify before this Debate comes to an end.

Is the hon. and gallant Member not aware that in the case of the unemployed—

May I ask a question then? Is it not the case that, in other matters, the issue is not whether it is a decision of the Minister or of a board; it is the character of the regulations that is the important thing?

I am a little puzzled about this Amendment because it does not seem to me to meet the case which, I think, hon. Members have in mind and with which I, myself, have a lot of sympathy. As far as I can see, what it provides is simply that the person who, it may be, is about to have his living taken away from him, because his premises or methods of milk production are unsuitable, shall have a right to appear at some specified place before the Ministry's inspector brings witnesses. If, further, he is still unsatisfied, he can appeal to the county court judge. As far as the first point is concerned, I am quite sure that before a licence to sell milk is taken from a person, the inspectorate of the Minister will discuss the matter very fully with the dairy farmer concerned, and I do not think this statutory right to appear before the inspector helps the dairy farmer very greatly.

I do not think this idea of taking it to the county court judge meets the case either. A county court judge can decide on matters of law, but the man concerned will be there because the premises in which he milked his cows are unsuitable, because they have not enough windows, or the shape or size of them is wrong, or because, on analysis of his milk on several occasions, it has turned out to be dirty, or because his cattle are diseased. These are matters that can be dealt with by Regulation but they are not really matters for county court judges to decide. These are technical matters dealing with the business of producing milk, and the farmer concerned will probably say that he is going to make alterations, that he will mend his ways about his milk not being clean, that he is going to clear up the disease among his cattle. It is a matter of judgment, whether he is really going to do these things, whether his record suggests that he will do them, and I am sure that the Minister's inspectors will give reasonable latitude.

However, I do agree that the person ought to have an appeal beyond one individual civil servant, and I hope I may be allowed to suggest—in spite of the fact that I have an Amendment down later suggesting a rather different thing—that the right of appeal is an appeal to his equals, to people who understand the business, to other dairy farmers, to people who are competent to make a judgment as to whether the inspector is being reasonable or whether the farmer is doing his best under difficult circumstances. Therefore, I do not feel that this Amendment meets the very real case. I have very great sympathy with the tenant farmers who are not responsible for their buildings, for instance, and may be deprived of their living because their landlords will not make the improvement. To the hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) may I point out that since his grandfather farmed, a certain amount has happened. Since then, and it is a long time ago, we have had a Liberal Govern- ment—[An HON. MEMBER: "And war ever since."] The security of the tenant farmers—

That is ancient history too. [An HON. MEMBER: "So are the Ten Commandments."

On a point of Order. Are we allowed in a Debate on milk, to discuss the resurrection of the dead?

I would only point out that the dead to-day, so far as effective control is concerned, are the landlords of this country. They are dead, because of those Liberal Acts which were passed—

Could the hon. Member tell me whether a landowner still has the right to require a tenant to leave his farm if he thinks fit?

They can pay the tenant very handsomely to go away but, in fact, they very seldom do it. He has an appeal in those circumstances to a county committee which very rarely nowadays gives a verdict in favour of the landowner.

No, no. This is really out of Order, but the tenant to-day has almost complete security against the landlord—not against the Government, who can turn him out at a moment's notice. The landlord cannot do that. I think there was a case made on the Second Reading for some sort of appeal to local farmers, and that is the view of those concerned in the organisation of the industry. It is, I understand, the view of the Milk Marketing Board who, while they are very anxious to improve the standard and quality of milk production and not opposed to this Bill, are, after all, a purchasers' organisation, representing the producer. They have a right, therefore, to express their opinions. The National Farmers' Union take the same view, I understand. At a meeting in my county only a week or ten days ago, I was instructed to support this Bill, provided some appeal for a local body of persons could be inserted in the Bill. I think it would be of value to insert that right of appeal into this Bill, and it would be very much better to do that, than to lay down in this Amendment rather detailed proce- dure which will not, in fact, ensure the farmer concerned the most sympathetic hearing of his case.

Would my hon. Friend make it perfectly clear whether this local body would be appointed by the Minister, or appointed impartially not by the Minister? It is a very important point.

I am referring to a meeting of the county executive of the National Farmers' Union, and that point was not fully discussed so far as I remember, so that anything I would say to the hon. and gallant Member is only my own view about that. My view is that a panel should be appointed of dairy farmers and representatives of the local authorities as well—special dairy farmers, who would be naturally predisposed to treat the farmers sympathetically whilst anxious to increase the quality of the milk.

The hon. Member for South Bristol said it was unnecessary because the person concerned could apply to his Member of Parliament. Of course he can, and he will, and he would be able to apply to his local appeal tribunal, but Members of Parliament do not really know sufficiently the details of every cowshed in their constituencies and they can only take secondhand opinions on these matters. I would like to ask the Minister whether he could give us some assurance on this subject before passing this Amendment. As I say, I do not think it deals with the real difficulty. We want to safeguard the liberty of the individual dairy farmer to continue in the business in which he is making his living. To do so, I think, it is far better to set up a local appeal committee than to lay down this rather difficult, unsuitable procedure.

As I understand, Mr. Williams, that you do not intend to call the Amendment in my name and that of my hon. Friends on Clause 1, page 2, line to leave out "the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries," and to insert "a court of summary jurisdiction," it might be convenient on this Amendment to discuss that one also, as it deals with a similar point.

I find myself rather in disagreement with my hon. Friend the Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) because I do not think he has emphasised what the hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) stressed as so important, the question of clean milk. I, personally, do not think that you can give an appeal on the matter of public health from the decision of the Minister of Agriculture to a decision of a panel of seven dairy farmers, appointed by the Minister of Agriculture. This question of milk affects the whole country. Take the slaughter houses as an example. If it is decided that a slaughter house is insanitary or ill-constructed, you do not appeal from that decision to a panel of seven butchers; indeed, you do not appeal from that to the Minister of Agriculture. You appeal from the decision of a body looking after the health of the country to the court of summary jurisdiction, for they represent the people.

They are justices of the peace, appointed by the Lord Chancellor to administer justice fairly and according to the law. With great respect to my hon. and learned Friend who moved the Amendment, that should be the cure for this problem. You cannot have and the country, with the exception of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), will not tolerate, decisions given by a Minister of the Crown, of whatever party, against which there is no right of appeal. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I hear a cheer from the Socialist benches, and I want to find out what is their position. I cannot believe that any member of that party would tolerate a Minister saying, "This cow-barn is not as I would like it," and yet refusing any appeal against his decision.

This side of the Committee has never objected to a Minister having power or giving power to a body from which there is no appeal. What this side has objected to is the character of the regulations which have been introduced. If the regulations are good then we do not mind them.

That is a slander on the Labour Party, and I object to the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) saying that. He ought to know better.

The only possible slander is that the hon. Member said, "Your party," which means that he was addressing me

I withdraw and apologise, Mr. Williams. I asked Members of the Committee who represent the Socialist Party whether they agreed with my dictum, that their party did not agree with the idea that a Minister should take away a man's livelihood without any right of appeal, and I was answered by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher).

We take the view that a Minister is answerable to this House. Parliament decides everything. When a Minister draws up regulations they are laid before Parliament, and we have confidence in this procedure.

Does the hon. Member believe that there is no necessity whatever for a judiciary, independent of the Executive? Has he abandoned that principle?

It seems that the Socialist Party do not believe that there should be an appeal to the court from the decision of a Minister. Is it the case that in the future, when we are discussing other matters, we shall find the Socialist Party abolishing the whole right of appeal to the courts? If a man is a driver of a commercial vehicle and his licence is taken away he has, at present, an appeal to the court, but if we are to have this business of rule by Ministers his licence will be determined solely by the Minister of Transport. We want to be very careful in this matter, because milk is not purely a question of agriculture. I represent an agricultural constituency and farm myself, but clean milk is a public question, one with which the Ministry of Health is concerned, and not solely the Ministry of Agriculture. Let us be wary lest the House and the nation consider any question of appeal to seven dairymen, nominated by the Minister of Agriculture. I say that in the interest of public health. The great advantage of the Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend is in the words:

"if it appears … that the public health is, or is likely to be, endangered …"
There is not a word in the Clause, as drafted, that gives any guidance as to public health and to milk.

Does the hon. Member envisage that appeal will be to a county court judge as to whether proper notices have been served, or legal processes have been carried out properly, or that milk has been cleaned? Is the judge to decide whether the milk was clean, or whether the proper procedure has been carried out?

If my hon. Friend had read not only the Bill, but the Measure to which this Bill is an Amendment, he would have been able to answer his own question. I refer to the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, Sections 20 and 21 of which give the groundwork on which these licences, registrations, can be refused Clearly, the ground on which an appeal will rest will relate to the ground on which the Minister has refused to register the licence. The question of appeal is, strangely enough, no new thing. There are appeals to-day to courts of summary jurisdiction against decisions of local authorities on these very grounds. The hon. Member has expressed surprise about the wording of the Amendment we are discussing, but those words are taken exactly from the Food and Drugs Act, 1938. He cannot have read that Act and before he makes any suggestions later about his seven wise dairymen, I hope he will first see how the present administration is working. If courts of summary jurisdiction are capable of adjudicating on a decision by local authorities, surely they are suitable bodies to adjudicate on decisions by the Minister of Agriculture. Why is the Minister of Agriculture afraid to have an appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction? If we pass this Bill without this Amendment we shall be in a very curious situation. Under Clause 1 of the Bill, dairy farmers will have no right of appeal at all if their registration is refused by the Minister of Agriculture, yet under Clause 3 any other man who has his registration refused by anybody else, the Ministry of Health or anybody except the Minister of Agriculture, will have the right of appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction. You will create a deep and harsh anomaly unless you give this right of appeal, I believe, to a court of summary jurisdiction.

May I now try to deal with some of the points put by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill)? He suggested a county court judge as the proper person to hear the appeal. I beg him to reconsider that view. In my view, county court judges and courts have a great future in this country, and I want them to have a higher limit of work, to deal with larger amounts rather than to add to the duties of their work. At present they are overworked, unfortunately chiefly through judgment summonses, which I think should be taken from them. What we ought to do is to give them more High Court work, and enable what is the poor man's court to be extended to a wider area of operations. If you are to give an appeal against all regulations—and there should be an appeal against most of them—you will make their work very arduous. The right court is the court of summary jurisdiction. If hon. Members have no trust in any court of summary jurisdiction their complaint is with the Lord Chancellor. A court of summary jurisdiction, or a stipendiary court, is the court to deal with these matters. I do not think you can do better than have such a court.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major York) suggested an independent tribunal. The only drawback to that suggestion was that the tribunal he described was not independent, but I do not want to cross swords with him on that. There is now a recent innovation by the Government, the independent tribunals for war pensions appeals, provided by the Lord Chancellor. If the Minister, or the Parliamentary Secretary, does not like the idea of an appeal to a court of summary jurisdiction I, personally, would be quite content with an appeal tribunal appointed by the Lord Chancellor. That would be comparable with the pensions appeal tribunal, it would be an independent tribunal and it would give satisfaction. However keen we are on clean milk let us ensure that justice is done to the man who has his job endangered owing to a Ministerial decision. I have the greatest confidence in civil servants, just like the hon. Member for South Bristol, but I am quite sure—and my years in Parliament have corroborated my view—that they sometimes make mistakes. It is because a man sometimes errs, that you give the right of appeal. Let us give this justice by giving independent tribunals, preferably courts of summary jurisdiction, but if not an independent tribunal then an appeal tribunal not appointed by the Minister but by the Lord Chancellor.

I rise to support the Amendment which is not, as some hon. Members have attempted to make it, a party question but a question of elementary justice. I quite agree with some of the irrelevant remarks of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) about the dragooning of the working class, but surely that should not deter us from seeking justice for every other class which is a victim of injustice. We must have clean milk, and in order to raise the standard to achieve that, the Minister must be given certain powers. But those powers must be used with the greatest discretion; safeguards must be introduced to prevent any abuses. Last Thursday I raised on the Adjournment the question of appeals from the decisions of county war agricultural executive committees. Despite assurances given by the Parliamentary Secretary, that all farmers have a right of appeal to an independent land commissioner, he nevertheless admitted that the commissioner was, at the same time, paid by the Minister of Agriculture and could not, therefore, be regarded as independent. Despite all assurances, most Members of the Committee will agree that there have been abuses of these powers of these committees and that if we allow this Bill to go through, without this Amendment, there will be abuses under this Bill as well. On this point I think we should fight. The hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) raised the question of the right of farmers to appeal to their Members of Parliament, but is that really satisfactory? Many of us have raised these cases with the Minister and we get a reply in many cases which does nothing more than pull the wool over our eyes. We ask a question, and get another unsatisfactory reply, and then raise it on the Adjournment. There is no finality to it and it is allowed to rest. That is not a satisfactory appeal in the last resort. I beg the Minister to consider setting up independent appeal tribunals to ensure that the same thing does not happen to other dairy farmers as has happened to those dispossessed by the county agricultural committees.

The argument developed by the hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. Walkden) seems to me to lead us into a very dangerous and remarkable position. His argument was that the procedure under this Bill is an expeditious and simple means of deter- mining the rights of persons affected by the Bill, and that therefore it was right. If you substitute the decision of an administrative officer for an appeal to a judicial tribunal you do, of course, provide a more expeditious and more simple form of procedure. But is such a procedure satisfactory? And is it likely to result in justice? That is really the question we have to consider. If this House were to pass an Act of Parliament which said that, if a policeman stopped a driver in the street and charged him with committing an offence, the policeman should also be the person who should try him and inflict a fine, that would be a simplified and expeditious form of procedure. But would it be satisfactory to the people of the country, who are accustomed to seek their rights in a court of justice? That is precisely the thing that the Minister proposes to do in this Bill. We are not dealing here with emergency legislation. We are dealing with a Bill which will be the law of this country long after the period has passed when we have to accept modifications of our accustomed constitutional mode of determining disputes.

This Bill will affect the livelihood of everyone who engages in the occupation of a dairy farmer, not for the period of the war but for an indefinite period. It will be a permanent part of our law. It would be a most disastrous thing if we accepted such a form of procedure as is proposed. I listened to the Parliamentary Secretary last week when he defended the proceedings of the county war agricultural committees. I felt then precisely the same misgivings which I felt to-day when I listened to the argument advanced by the hon. Member for South Bristol. The Parliamentary Secretary claimed it was a satisfactory way of determining a judicial question that a person aggrieved should have recourse to the Minister, because the Minister was answerable to the House. This misconception of the constitutional law of the country seems to be becoming very firmly embedded in the minds of my right hon. Friend and the Parliamentary Secretary. I hope that, as the result of this Debate, we shall be able to persuade them to adopt a form of procedure more in accord with the constitutional usage of the country.

On the question of whether there should be an independent tribunal, I am not entirely in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). The first thing is to ensure that the tribunal is really independent. Independent tribunals are set up under a number of Acts of Parliament in a form which is now quite familiar. There is a, Chairman appointed from a panel selected by the Lord Chancellor. That is an entirely different thing from a panel selected by the administrative Minister. The Lord Chancellor is the authority whose duty it is to make judicial appointments. The Minister is the authority whose duty it is to carry out the administration of a department. Those are entirely different things. It is very common under the form of independent tribunal to which I have just referred to associate the independent chairman with a panel of persons who may be regarded as experts, and who are sometimes appointed by the administrating Minister. I should be ready to accept as satisfactory such a tribunal, provided that there is an independent chairman, not appointed by the administrative Minister.

The hon. Member for South Bristol was critical of the Amendment and said that the Bill was more likely to secure a satisfactory supply of clean milk. He said that this was an involved Amendment. But this Amendment follows almost exactly the procedure applied by the Act of 1938 and, as far as I am aware, that has been effective in securing a supply of clean milk. It is no criticism of the Amendment to say that it is involved merely because it adopts the procedure which is at present the law for dealing with another aspect of precisely the same question. I should have thought that, in fact, the procedure proposed in the Amendment was more likely to be effective in securing a supply of clean milk than that proposed in the Bill. The Bill proposes that the Minister should be entitled to make Regulations and that if they are not complied with, he should be entitled to refuse or to cancel registration. The Amendment proposes that, if it appears to Minister that the public health is, or is likely to be, endangered by any act or default of the person who has applied to be registered, he may be refused registration.

However carefully Regulations are drawn, ingenious persons will find a way of getting round them. If that happens under the Bill, the Minister is powerless until he has made a new Regulation. But under the Amendment, that is not the case at If a person is doing anything that is likely to endanger the public health he can be refused registration. Then he has first of all the right to appear before the official whose decision he desires to challenge and state his case with witnesses. If he is not satisfied, he can go to a court of summary jurisdiction. But the Amendment proposes a form of procedure by which, if it is found that the supply of milk with which the person is dealing is not clean, the registration may be challenged on that ground alone. It is not necessary for the Minister or anyone else to show that what he has done infringes some Regulation. I should have thought the Amendment gives a much more satisfactory assurance of a supply of clean milk.

My point was that under the Bill the registration can only be cancelled if there is an infringement of the regulations and that it is often possible to find a means of getting round regulations. If that happens, the Minister can do nothing until he has made a new regulation.

I hope that my right hon. Friend is going to meet us and will recognise that it is not satisfactory to the Committee or to the public or to anybody that a tradesman's livelihood should be made subject to the decision of a purely administrative officer, without the right to go to a court of law, with his witnesses, and be permitted to state his case. It matters not whether the tribunal is a court of summary jurisdiction or a county court, or some other tribunal. Even the question of a clean milk supply is really a secondary question, vital though it may be. The fundamental question here concerns the liberties of British citizens.

The number of dairy farmers and cowkeepers in my constituency is very limited, but I have ascertained that there are some. The real point in this matter is not one which concerns only dairy farmers and cowkeepers. It is not confined even to the question of clean milk. It concerns townsmen and countrymen alike. There is raised in this Amendment an issue which seems to go to the root of everything for which we, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, are really elected to protect. As far as I, a Private Member, am able to judge, the Minister of Agriculture has done a wonderful job of work, but if I may say so to him, this really will not do. If this Bill contained provisions by which the Minister could fine people who broke the Regulations, or send them to prison for six months, or flog them or treat them in some other way, everybody would be up in arms and say that it was entirely wrong and that these things could only be done by a court of law. But to take away a man's livelihood is far worse than any term of imprisonment.

This seems to be the beginning of something which I regard myself as under a pledge to oppose. A man is not to be allowed to start a business unless the Minister grants a licence, and he can be put out of business if his licence is withdrawn. Here is a state of affairs which can be extended, if we pass it now, to other industries. How nice for those who, like myself, are engaged, say, in shipbuilding if nobody can go into the industry without getting a licence. We shall then extend it to shopkeeping and to this activity and that, and we shall find ourselves pretty quickly landed into the corporate State, which Heaven forbid that we in this country will ever come to.

Therefore, I say again to the Minister that this will not do. I say it with friendliness and as one who believes that inspection of cowhouses and dairies is a matter which the Minister can do better than the local authorities. I say, however, that there should be some appeal from his decision so that a man can go into court and state his case. If we are going to take a line that the Minister may do it and that if he does anything which is unjust, then the local Member can be badgered to raise the matter in the House, we might as well say that a man can be fined by a Minister for being drunk or committing any offence, and that if something unjust is done the local Member can raise it in this House. This matter is wrapped up in a small compass and under a small heading in this Bill, but it is really a big issue and we must pause and consider very carefully before we allow it to go through.

I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will feel really happy as a result of the course of this Debate. I believe that the country is getting more and more angry about this form of legislation. We have had considerable Debates in the House on delegated legislation and the giving of excessive powers to Ministers. The Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill showed clearly that opinion ran pretty high on the authoritarian powers that were being given to the Minister of Agriculture. Several of my hon. Friends on the Labour benches spoke strongly against the Bill. The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Dabble), the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), the hon. Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. C. White), the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Dr. Peters), the hon. Member for Hems-worth (Mr. G. Griffiths), the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie), in addition to many hon. Members on this side, gave utterance to their considerable alarm at the tenor of the Bill. Everybody is in agreement that we want cleaner milk, but we are divided on the methods by which we should obtain it. The Amendment is, in my opinion, a good Amendment, and I shall vote for it if it goes to a Division, as I trust it will. There are one or two minor aspects of it which I am not very fond of, but it is an immense improvement on the Bill as it stands.

The hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. Roberts) has an Amendment to which he referred in his speech which will, I hope, be called, but I do not think it is nearly satisfactory enough. As I understand it, he proposes merely an advisory committee nominated by the Minister, which will hear the case and then advise the Minister one way or the other. The final decision is still with the Minister—the Minister who has nominated the advisory committee and against one of whose servants the person aggrieved is appealing. Can that possibly be claimed to be an impartial tribunal? What we want, and what we must continue to press for in this Bill and any other similar legislation, is an appeal by a man whose livelihood is endangered to a court of justice. Whether it be a court of summary jurisdiction or a county court I am not ready at the moment to argue, although the case for the county court has been very well put by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ilford (Mr. Hutchinson). It is to the whole principle of removing a man's source of livelihood or refusing to allow him to con- tinue to earn his living without an appeal that we object. I was not surprised to hear the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) supporting this Bill in lively fashion because Communism, Fascism and Nazism have this in common that they give completely authoritarian powers to the Government. That seems to me no reason why the Government, who are heavily engaged in fighting at least two forms of that kind of oppression, should now lend themselves to a sort of milk and water policy of the same kind.

We must oppose that as bitterly as we can, because the whole liberties of the people of England are bound up with the taking of a firm stand against such authoritarian legislation. Only two hon. Members spoke wholly in favour of the Clause. One was the hon. Member for West Fife and the other was my hon. Friend the Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden). I was shocked to hear him because he is a perfectly sound democrat, and we all respect his views very much. I can only think he got the constitutional procedure all wrong. He, rightly, paid a high tribute to the impartiality and integrity of the civil servant. He said that if a civil servant went down to examine a case, and reported that it was a bad case, and action was taken, we could be pretty sure that everything was all right. But civil servants can make mistakes the same as anybody else, and when a civil servant makes a mistake it is the King's Government making a mistake, and when the King's Government make a mistake, the ordinary recourse is a court of law.

Is my hon. Friend aware that a common and universal characteristic of civil servants is that they will not do anything until they are quite sure that they are quite right?

I would only ask my hon. Friend to examine the Questions in HANSARD in only the last six months, and he will find that mistakes have been made. Has he never written to a Minister, and complained of some action that his civil servants have taken?

I am grateful for that interruption. A nice reply is not enough. I, too, can give a nice reply sometimes, but nobody would feel very happy if a man who wished to continue in business as a dairy farmer, and was suddenly refused registration, was not allowed to appeal and if he got only a nice reply. Sometimes, as will happen in the best organisations and under the best Governments, Ministers misuse their powers—

I have had replies which explained errors and described rectifications and which were not just negatively nice replies.

Has not my hon. Friend ever had a pension case turned down, when he has not been satisfied with the result? Of course he has. He need not argue that. The suggestion that has been made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and by one of his supporters was that it was all right as long as Parliament was here, and that if there was any injustice done, Parliament could always take up the case. It is very difficult to take up an individual case, and if there are masses of individual cases it is still more difficult. We have only a certain number of occasions on which we can discuss the work of the Minister of Agriculture, and how can we discuss policy in a Ministry of Agriculture Debate if the whole time is taken up by raising matters which ought to be dealt with by the ordinary course of the law of the land? I cannot possibly support the Minister in this matter. I hope that my hon. Friends will press the Amendment to a Division, and I trust the result of it will show that this Committee will not tolerate in the future this form of legislation, which is an infringement of the liberty of the subject.

I have been a frequenter of the Debates in this House for a much longer period than I like to remember—over 40 years—and I have been a Member of it with one gap, when I was serving abroad, for over 20 years, and I am bound to say that never in that time could I have conceived it possible for the British Government to introduce a Bill containing a Clause of this character. I have never been so horrified in, my life as I was when I read the first Clause of the Bill. I dismiss quite frankly and with great respect as unworthy, the suggestion which has come from some Members opposite that this is, in any sense, a class issue. Some Members have suggested that this is the old issue of landlord and tenant, and that we are discussing something in which the gentlemen of England are standing against the rest. All my friends are with me in this, that we are concerned with nothing of that kind in this issue. It is a far deeper and graver issue than that.

I approach it with great friendliness to my right hon. Friend. I am an older man than he is, and I beg him to take advice. I know what has happened to him. He is a very good Minister of Agriculture, and I congratulate him on it. He has developed a passion for the industry, and I congratulate him on that, but you can pay too much for efficiency, as every autocracy knows. One of the issues for which we are fighting is, What does efficiency cost? We know perfectly well that, in many ways, the kind of system against which we are fighting is three times as efficient as ours. I have no doubt, also, that if the right hon. Gentleman got his way, his system would be three times as efficient as what we are proposing; but it would not be British, it would not be free, it would not be democratic and it would not be what we are fighting for in this war. That is why, so long as there is breath in my body, I shall fight against legislation such as this.

I beg my right hon. Friend to consider three points which are really raised in the Clause. First, what is the foundation of British liberty? I have been rather appalled by some of the things that have been said in the course of the Debates in this Committee. They have made me feel that people have become very muddled and very uncertain about what the foundations of our liberties are. The hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) shakes his head, but I think he was one of the worst offenders. He seemed to think that liberty consisted of putting yourself under the control of civil servants. I have the greatest admiration for the civil servants but they are British subjects too. They are ourselves, and they are not our masters. The question is, Who controls this system? What we are fighting for is a system under which responsibility is widely diffused and in which responsibility rests upon every man and woman in the country, and is not centralised on that Government Front Bench. I beg hon. and right hon. Members opposite to remember that. What are the foundations of British liberty? There are two fundamental principles, I should say, accepted since the days of Runnymede, or very nearly as far back as that. The first is that a man—

This subject is outside the scope of the Clause. Perhaps I may remind the Committee that we are talking on a Milk and Dairies Bill and not on the foundations of British liberty. I realise that in this Amendment we are going into a most important point, but I hope we will not develop too far into the foundations of British liberty.

I bow with great respect to your Ruling, Mr. Williams, but I beg to point out that, under the present Standing Orders of the House of Commons it is becoming practically impossible to discuss even those principles for which the House of Commons stands. They are generally out of Order.

The fact that we are having a wide discussion to-day shows that it is not impossible to do so when those principles affect an individual matter. The sole point which I raised is that we should keep fairly close to the individual matter of the Amendment and of the Clause, rather than go into a wide discussion of British liberties.

I think that I shall be able to show you, Mr. Williams, that the points I wish to raise are very closely related to the provisions of the Clause. First of all, and here I beg your attention, Mr. Williams, there is contained in this Clause the proposal that a man is to be condemned for an offence before he has committed it. That is in this Clause. It raises a fundamental principle of British liberty, and no Chairman of the House of Commons and no House of Commons can get behind that. What has happened is that the fundamental principle is challenged that a British subject cannot be indicted for a crime of any kind until it has been proved against him in an independent court. That principle is undermined by the Clause.

What I am saying is therefore absolutely directed, and completely relevant, to what is contained in the Clause, and so is the other principle of which I wish to speak and it is fundamental in our system. That principle is that the judiciary shall be independent of the Executive. That principle also is directly raised by the Clause. There is no suggestion in the Clause of a judiciary independent of the Executive, and unless the House of Commons is going to stand up for that principle, what is the House of Commons here for? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major York) actually said that the suggestion that the judiciary should be independent of the Executive was childish. I beg him to go back and consider his constitutional law.

Indeed, he said so. When it was suggested that an appeal tribunal nominated by the Minister was not an independent body in the sense which is known to British law, he replied to one of my friends who interrupted him that that was childish.

Would the hon. Gentleman consider that the Pensions Appeal Tribunal is a constitutional body?

Of course it is. The Pensions Appeal Tribunal is appointed by the Lord Chancellor.

What my hon. and gallant Friend was doing was to take us right into the corporative State. Hon. Members on this side of the House have, I think, a better appreciation of the principle than has my hon. and gallant Friend. It is very easy for one industry after another, one trade after another, one interest after another, to say, "We understand our business better than anybody else and we want to run it ourselves," and that is the way you get away from justice and fair play to the individual and into the corporative State. There are many people in this country playing with that idea at the present time, not only my hon. Friend opposite—the whole of the Communist Party—but a great many Members, who are not aware of the extent to which they are leading this country at the present time into the camp against which we are fighting.

I agree that my hon. Friend is quite right to assert his principles. As a matter of fact, as I happen all my life to have loathed and detested them, and as I believe that the war is being fought against the kind of principles which the hon. Member is trying to inculcate, I am not impressed by his argument. I beg my right hon. Friend, when he comes to answer the Debate on this Amendment, to face three particular points which I think are of importance. The first thing is that there should be an appeal from the executive act of the Minister. Every British subject has a right to that. That appeal should be, not to any kind of body nominated by himself, because that is not independent. It should be to an absolutely independent tribunal. We are bound to insist upon it in this Committee. I shall be astonished—and as a partisan not disappointed but as an Englishman deeply disappointed—if my hon. Friends opposite do not support us in this Amendment. Let them by all means take the opposite line if they want an argument about it in the country. I am prepared to meet them on that ground in any company and in any constituency. The tribunal must be independent. Special tribunals, and particularly tribunals appointed by the Minister concerned so that he is prosecutor, judge and jury in his own case, simply will not do.

The second point that I would beg him to bear in mind is this: I think this is a very fair minded country. We want every man to have the same chance as every other man, so far as we can arrange it. We have not been very successful.

We have not been very successful in the past but we are moving with great strides. We are doing our very best to secure it. The hon. Member is doing his best, and if he will believe me we are doing our best, although we do not follow the same rules. We want fairness as between individuals. Would the Minister address himself to the point that in this Clause one kind of justice is meted out to the dairy farmer and a different kind of justice to the dairyman? What is the difference? It is a passion for efficiency. My right hon. Friend wants to have clean herds and he is therefore taking autocratic powers. I understand his enthusiasm, but, at the price which he is asking for it, believe me, his en- thusiasm is very dangerous, and he had better consider what is the character, the temper, and the fundamental principle upon which this country has been built for the last 500 years.

Finally, I would ask him to answer the point which he made in the Second Reading Debate and which has been repeated by one or two speakers to-day. It has been said to us that, after all, there is always the recourse to Parliament. If a dairy farmer is wronged he can appeal to his Member. That is fundamentally unsound from two points of view. In the first place, it is unsound because, from the very beginning, we have laid down that there shall be a judiciary independent of the Executive. Parliament cannot control the Executive. It creates the Executive and to some extent directs the Executive, but always we have said that there must be an independent appeal from the Executive if freedom is to exist. That is one of the fundamental principles upon which life in England has been carried on. It is not only that. I am a profound believer in Parliament. I believe that everything depends on the future of this House, the Mother of Parliaments, but at the rate at which we are going we are breaking its back. There is no possibility of this House of Commons being able to discharge all the duties that are placed upon it. The Clause adds enormously to those duties, and I am bound to say to my right hon. Friend that if he insists on the Clause in its present form I can promise him a series of Prayers almost every day in the week. Every time he touches a dairy farmer there will be a Prayer in this House.

It is quite wrong that that should be so. That is not the way in which Parliament should be treated. These small individual matters should not be brought to the High Court of Parliament. Sometimes we do not pay enough attention in this House to the 60,000,000 members of the Colonial Empire, but how can we? We have so much to do. Now we are to be the appeal court in regard to the case of every dairy farmer. Whoever heard of a suggestion such as that? It is simply intolerable to suggest that you can get justice for the individual by appeal to the High Court of Parliament. That is not what the High Court of Parliament is for. The High Court of Parliament is to see that, in matters of principle, the Executive is rightly guided, but not to act as an appeal court in every individual case.

I am afraid I have spoken with some heat, but I feel very deeply about these matters. I beg my right hon. Friend to believe that I have not spoken with any hostility to him, but I will vote against anything of the nature introduced in this form. I want him to proceed on lines which will really give him success in his great mission to establish the agriculture of this country on a sound foundation. I hope he will consider the strength of the opinion which this Clause has aroused.

I would say that fundamentally I am in agreement with the Minister in regard to the desire for clean milk, and also for efficiency, but we must see, as some hon. Members have stated to-day, that efficiency does not mean that we are going to ride roughshod over the rights of the community. With the growth throughout the world of this totalitarian feeling I am sometimes embarrassed by a large number of people about whom I am always wondering whether they are as truly democratic in their actions as in their speech on public platforms. I want to see the utmost safeguard and protection for every individual in the community, whether he be a workman at the bench or in the field, factory or mine or a man in business, under the system that is accepted at the present time. In the desire to give the utmost protection. I have felt strongly since I came to this House 14 years ago that, as stated by the hon. Gentleman who has preceded me, the Executive should not be too completely in control of affairs, that if there is an act of injustice, or if it felt that an act of injustice has been done, a completely independent body should determine the issue.

The hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) has stated, I think, that he has the utmost faith in the Civil Service to do the right thing. I would say that, generally speaking, that is fairly true, but there are many cases of civil servants who have power who are just like other individuals, who have their pride and sometimes a certain amount of arrogance; they have their likes and dislikes, and if decisions are made they are very reluctant to say, even to a Minister, "I have been wrong." We are told that there is the authority of Parliament, that a Member can take up the case of an injustice which is perpetrated. My experience is that in 99 per cent. of cases the Minister sends back to the individuals who are the cause of creating an injustice, and asks them to give a report on the issue. Naturally they justify their previous decision, because even if they discover it is wrong most of them are not prepared to admit they are wrong.

I could give a case to the hon. Member, if he wants one, of the most outstanding case I have ever had in the Glasgow area. It concerned the Ministry of Labour and the inspection of a factory in relation to a man's liability for National Service. We discovered that a report was prepared and given to the Ministry and that an examination had never been made of the facts by the individual concerned before the report was given. Only by accident did I see the report, and when I saw it I knew that the examination had never taken place. The attention of the Ministry of Labour headquarters was drawn to this, and they very rightly sent it back, and it was determined that a re-examination of the factory should take place. Two inspectors went to the factory, spent five hours there, and prepared a report. When I went to hear the effect of the report I discovered that the chairman of the Manpower Board in Glasgow, Mr. Campbell, had hidden the report and sent on a report of his own because the second report did not square with his ideas of what should be done. This is not in dispute. A third examination took place because the Ministry of Labour at headquarters were dissatisfied. On the third report, 14 or 15 months later, we only now get the conclusion that the man should not have been taken from the industry without a substitute having been found.

The hon. Gentleman said that we were drifting into the co-operative State. [HON. MEMBERS "The corporative State."] I thought he said co-operative—unless he deemed both to be of a similar type. Nevertheless, I believe it is true that the trend amongst most of the political parties to-day and the Executive authority is to set up a greater and greater bureaucracy which will deal with the individual. That is not my conception of the society I would like to be under. I would like to be under a society where the greatest amount of discussion and reasoning would take place, and under which there would be the greatest protection for the individual. We have a form of society to-day which may not square with my ideas, but whether that be so or not, it is the accepted legal system of to-day, and under that system we have to give the greatest measure of protection to the individual, whether as a private individual or business concern. I say to the Minister "You may drive ahead for an efficient system, for a clean milk supply; all that is dear to my heart; but if one thing has happened throughout the Continent, it is that efficiency has been made a great desire, but it has meant riding roughshod over the rights of the individual." Let us have efficiency with the greatest protection given to the individual. I wish in all cases there could be in this Committee the same desire for the rights of every individual to be protected. So far as I am concerned, if a vote takes place and the Minister does not give the complete satisfaction of an independent authority, completely free from a dictatorship of the individual, I will go into the Lobby and cast my vote for the protection of the rights of the individual.

This Bill is designed to try to improve the milk supply of this country. One hon. Member, I think it was the hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill) asked why the Minister of Health had not asked for additional powers, and the Minister of Agriculture had. The brief answer is that this Bill is being brought in by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and myself, precisely because the system which has been in operation under the Ministry of Health and local authorities for the last ten or 15 years, has failed completely to achieve the purpose which we have in view. We therefore came to the conclusion, and I would remind the Committee that this was sanctioned by the House on Second Reading, that a new system ought to be tried. This is the new system.

I am just as anxious as anybody else to preserve the reasonable rights of the individual, but I say quite definitely—I hope hon. Members will agree with me on reconsideration—that the proposition put forward by the hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh, when he said that clean milk could be bought too expensively at the cost of individual liberty, seemed to me to go a good deal too far. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] After all, what I am concerned with, and what I think the great majority of people in this country are concerned with, is, if it is humanly possible, that we should secure the children of this country from the danger of drinking unsafe and also unclean milk. Some hon. Members, in criticising the provisions of Clause 1, and in defending the Amendment, have talked about a dairy farmer losing his licence. There is no question at all in this Clause of a dairy farmer losing his livelihood. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because there are many alternative methods open to the ordinary farmer. The production of milk—

I did not interrupt hon. Members. There are many alternative forms of occupation open to a farmer beyond the production of milk for human consumption. He can produce milk for rearing calves, for example, and nothing in this Clause affects that. All this Clause is designed to do, is to ensure that a man should not be registered, coming new into the industry, for the production of milk for sale to human beings, unless he fulfils certain minimum standards. I will deal with the question of standards in a moment. That is really what the Bill does.

On the question of an appeal, it is my view, which I submit with all deference to the Committee, that if we are to change the existing system, which has admittedly failed, and to substitute a new one in which the Minister of Agriculture is made responsible for the production of clean milk, he must be given the necessary powers. If you proceed to limit those powers and say that he is not responsible, but some independent tribunal over whom he has no control, then the Minister cannot fulfil the burden placed upon him by Parliament, and it would be foolish for him to try to do so. If hon. Members are in doubt about that, let them just consider for a moment what would happen if there was a completely independent tribunal. I think that a suggestion along the lines put forward by the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) will go a long way to meet the Committee's wishes.

Let the Minister finish. He never interrupted you while you were spitting fire.

Supposing a case comes up where, in the opinion of the Minister, the conditions are not fulfilled, and the man is producing dirty milk. He goes to the appeal tribunal, and it might be that the tribunal decide that his licence is to be continued. The Minister would then be in a position of having to prosecute, for the production of dirty milk, a man whom a tribunal had said was producing clean milk. Obviously the situation would be completely absurd. After all, when this Bill becomes, as I hope it will, an Act of Parliament, regulations will eventually have to be laid before the House and instructions will be given for the carrying out of these regulations to try and raise the general standard of production. In the case of a new entrant into the industry, obviously the decision as to whether he is to be allowed to produce clean milk for human consumption or not will depend on whether or not his particular farm fulfils these conditions. In the case of a man who is already producing milk, his case will come up, and the authority, whoever it is, will consider whether or not the conditions of that farm are suitable for producing milk.

It will not be a final decision if the decision goes against the farmer, but a decision that, in the existing conditions of the farm, milk for human consumption ought not to be produced there. It will be always open to the farmer, in conjunction with the landlord, to say, "I will improve the conditions; I will put in water, and one thing and the other," and then his case will come up again for the grant of permission to produce milk for human consumption. This will not be, as so many hon. Members seem to assume, a decision once and for all that in no circumstances shall that man ever be allowed to produce milk for human consumption: it will be a decision only that, in the circumstances of the moment, his farm is not fit to produce milk. When the conditions improve, the question will be treated on the circumstances of the time. I know a case—it is possibly an extreme case—where the only water supply of the farm to-day is the overflow from a cesspool. That farmer is producing milk for human consumption. Clearly that is a case where it will be said, "Your conditions are not fit for the production of milk." [An HON. MEMBER: "Any tribunal would say that."] I am directing my argument to the point that this is not a final decision for all time. But when that man, I hope, under the provisions of the Rural Water Supplies Bill, asks for water for his farm, and the water is connected up to his farm, under my Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, he can apply again, and be granted permission to produce milk. The question is whether, in any particular set of circumstances, the farmer is or is not fit to produce milk. The decision is very largely a question of the conditions to be laid down. Some hon. Members said, "Why treat the dairyman differently from the dairy farmer?" The answer is that his conditions are very different. The dairyman does not produce milk: he buys milk and sells milk; but the dairy farmer produces milk.

A producer-retailer produces milk; and, therefore, he comes under the new procedure, and is subject to the provisions of this Bill, as operated by my Department. Whether the conditions under which milk is produced on a farm are satisfactory or not is, for the greater part, a matter of opinion and of judgment. Some hon. Members may say that there ought to be some further opinion given, and that the farmer concerned should have a chance of appealing to some other body against a decision by my veterinary inspectors. I am quite ready to agree to that, and I am very anxious to meet reasonable views, provided always that it is recognised that, in the ultimate resort, I am responsible. Therefore, I propose to ask the two bodies chiefly concerned, namely the Milk Marketing Board and the National Farmers' Union, to nominate a series of panels, either for counties or regions—whether it will be counties or regions will have to be decided. I suggest that a body should be formed, consisting of my superintending veterinary officer for the region—who will be a different person from the veterinary officer or lay inspector who makes an inspection of the farm—one member from a panel nominated by the Milk Marketing Board, and one member from a panel nominated by the National Farmers' Union.

The farmer should be entitled to go before that body, if he disagrees with the recommendation of my veterinary inspector, and he should be entitled to call witnesses and the tribunal should, if it is desired, inspect the farm themselves. That body should report to me, and it would be only after giving due weight to any recommendation—it would not follow that their recommendation would be unanimous, because the two members from the panels might well disagree with the view of my superintending veterinary officer—it would only be after giving consideration to their report that a decision would be taken by my Department. I think that that goes a very long way indeed to meet any objection.

Suppose the tribunal are unanimous in reversing the decision of the Minister's inspector, will the Minister still claim the right to ignore the appeal tribunal?

It would be very difficult indeed, and I do not see any Minister actually ignoring that decision.

Will the report of the tribunal be published? Will the farmer know what has been said to the Minister?

Frankly, I see very considerable administrative difficulties in that. It is obvious what practical difficulties would be in the way. I beg the Committee to be realistic about this, and to have regard to the difficulties of human nature. You are asking two men, one nominated by the Milk Marketing Board and one nominated by the National Farmers' Union, to report on their fellows. Quite clearly, human nature being what it is, if they know that their report is going to be regarded as confidential, we shall get their true views. I do not say that, if we get a particularly strong man, we shall not get his real views, even if he knows that his report is going to be published, but if it is known that Mr. X, over a period of months has always reported against his fellows, we know what the position of Mr. X will be. We must make the report confidential between the tribunal and the Minister.

Am I to understand that on this body the representative of the Minister will be the man who first made a report on the farm?

No, I said specifically that the representative of the Minister on this tribunal would be one of the superintending veterinary officers, of whom we have about 15. He would be someone quite different from the veterinary officer and the lay inspector, presumably, who had made an inspection of the farm. We are putting a new set of minds on the tribunal, who will come to it without any previous prejudice. I venture to think that that will, in fact, meet the real case.

I invite my right hon. Friend to consider whether the chairman of the tribunal might not be an independent person, appointed from a panel selected by the Lord Chancellor. Has he considered that suggestion? Might not that prove a solution of the difficulty?

No; I quite appreciate that my hon. and learned Friend is trying to help, but the difficulty about that would be that already I am going so far as to weight this tribunal with two people against one—with a representative of the Milk Marketing Board and a representative of the National Farmers' Union. I think that a tribunal of three, one of whom represents the Ministry while the other two represent the organised producers, is probably as reasonable and fair a tribunal as you could get in ordinary circumstances. Some Members questioned whether the final power of raising questions in this House was adequate. All I can say, speaking very humbly, is that since 1931 I have served in all the home Departments except the Home Office, and the thing that has impressed me above everything else in the period of that service, especially in peace-time, is that the great protection of the individual against the Executive lies in the fact that every civil servant knows that, in the last resort, his Minister can be questioned in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, he does. When hon. Members have been in Government offices they realise that it is not only the fact that a Member can raise a point that is the safeguard: it is that the civil servant has, so to speak, a professional pride in not letting his Minister down, and, therefore, in seeing that bad decisions are not made. Anyone of us who has been in office knows that hon. Members—certainly it is so in my experience—are not at all shy about writing in and complaining about individual cases.

If the Minister's reply is not satisfactory, what is the position of the House?

My hon. Friend has been in the House longer than I have, and he knows that, when there is any serious belief that an injustice has been committed by any Department, hon. Members are not slow in raising the matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) talked about the fundamental difficulties. Surely, most fundamental of all is the rule of this House that redress of grievances comes before Supply.

I think a more disappointing defence has never been heard from a Minister. We have here a Clause which gives the most astonishing powers at any time, which powers are peculiarly dangerous at the present time. The Minister is asking for powers to prevent a man following an occupation which he wishes to follow, not on the ground that he has committed any offence whatsoever, but merely on the grounds that the Minister, or his servants, thinks that he is going to commit an offence in the future. That would have been a very serious thing at any time, but what is proposed at the moment is that in no department of the national life is a man to be allowed to follow an occupation without the licence of a Minister.

I know of the case of a man returned from the Forces who wants to be a cobbler, and the Board of Trade refuses to give him a licence. We hope that is only a war-time measure, but many of us are frightened, when we see Bills of this kind, that this system is going to be continued after the war, and that we are going to get into the position where people will only be able to make their living and follow their occupation if and when the Minister sees fit, and not only when he sees fit now, but if he thinks they are likely to do well in the future. I would ask some Members of the party opposite whether they think that is a desirable precedent to set up in industry and agriculture in this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "That applies to the coal industry."] Quite, and I am absolutely against it. I say that the moment the war necessity goes we should abolish compulsion to go into any industry or prevent a man going into any industry for which he thinks he is fitted.

The Minister made the most extraordinary defence and gave an example which horrified some of us. He said that if there was an independent tribunal there might be a case where his inspector had reported a man on the ground that he was supplying dirty milk, and that he might then go to the tribunal and the tribunal might say it was not so. "Then," said the Minister—and this was an astonishing thing to say—"I should have to prosecute although the tribunal's decision was favourable to the man." Why should the Minister have to prosecute? That was the sort of reply Goering gave in the Reichstag trial. He said "I do not care what the tribunal says; I shall kill this man anyway." The Minister then says, "Although the independent tribunal will excuse the man, nevertheless I shall have to go on and prosecute, and that will not be a very nice position for me." Of course that will not be a very nice position for him, but if that principle gets into our industrial organisation it will strike such a blow at the individual liberty of the subject as we have not seen for a long time. I warn the people opposite, who take this matter so lightly, and who are not influenced by the opinion of my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) that they will be the first people to complain when such a principle operates in another direction. It is a principle which this Committee ought to consider most seriously.

I do not think the Minister has treated this Committee with that deference he ought to have shown, because the compromise he now suggests is no compromise at all. It does not meet any of the fundamental objections, and none of the things he has said, in my opinion, makes any difference between the tribunal he proposes and the independent tribunal which does not need to be weighted and whose decisions will not be constantly brought before this House. To say, in defence of bad legislation, that you can bring it up day after day before this House of Commons is not sufficient. It is a remedy, but a remedy only to be used in the last resort, and should not be quoted as though it were the normal routine. We all want clean milk, but we, on this side, want more effective machinery for securing it than the Minister has proposed.

This is a very serious matter. I am lost in admiration of the right hon. Gentleman's campaign in favour of clean milk—a vital campaign for the nation. There is no doubt that dirty milk is one of the greatest evils we have to fight. It is no use mincing words. Dirty milk has been sold to the public, and public opinion demands that the right hon. Gentleman should introduce a Bill of this kind and make it work. The whole Committee is with him there; but there is a very vital issue at stake. We have always gone on the lines that we would rather a guilty man got off than that an innocent man should be punished unjustly. That is essential to English law and I daresay that principle applies in this case. One bad distributor or producer of dirty milk can kill a lot of children and do a lot of harm. There have been cases in many districts of bad milk and of illness being traced to it. Unfortunately, bad milk being put in the same can as pure milk contaminates the whole of it. The right hon. Gentleman has tried to meet us, but has not gone far enough, He has put forward the proposal that a panel of three people should be set up, one representing the distributor, one the producer, and, I understand, one his Chief Inspector. I am not quite certain whether I have got the last name correct.

I do suggest that it is not too much to ask that, given a case where this tribunal or panel, or whatever you like to call it, reverses the decision of the Minister's Inspector, that reversal should be accepted by his Department. I cannot imagine such a tribunal being prepared to exonerate a man who has been condemned for unfair distribution of milk. If the Minister will meet us to that extent I do not think it will endanger his excellent Bill or the primary purpose of giving good milk to the country, and will, at the same time, preserve the right against arbitrary rule by Government Departments. I understand that under the old machinery there was the right of appeal to a court against the decision of a local authority. I am informed that in very few cases were any appeals made. I cannot imagine that the nation will be flooded with appeals of this kind, and if the right hon. Gentleman makes a proposal which is a good proposal, a reality, I believe his honour will be satisfied and the Committee will feel that the rights of British subjects will be safeguarded.

May I just answer the appeal which my right hon. Friend has made? I quite understand, and am very anxious to meet, his point. I have not the least doubt that in 999 cases out of 1,000 where the tribunal's decision is unanimous that their verdict will be accepted. The only difficulty I find is in giving a specific promise. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I have had a good deal of experience. I can give a definite assurance that it will in almost every case, though I cannot give the assurance that it will in every single case.

I am going to support the appeal of the right hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) to the Minister to make this appeal a genuine one. As the Committee is against the Minister's refusal to make the appeal a genuine one, I think he will have the agricultural community and the consuming community against him as well. I believe that the Minister could give way on this point without the slightest risk to the milk supply of the future. Having said that, and having made that appeal to the Minister, I want to say another thing. I do not share the view which has been so freely expressed by a great many of my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee. I believe that, as I said on Second Reading, a change is necessary, because so many of the existing local authorities—the rural district councils—are either unable or unwilling, or, at all events, have failed, to carry out their functions, and I believe that the Minister might get over a great many of the difficulties if he was able to announce to the Committee that, where there has been efficient functioning and efficient inspection by a local authority, he will endeavour to act through that—

On a point of Order. At an earlier stage, I was moving an Amendment for a similar purpose, and was ruled out of Order by the Chair. Is it now in Order to discuss it?

It appears to me that the right hon. and gallant Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope) is in Order in his remarks.

We all want to get over this difficulty. We all want to avoid interference by officials with people doing their job properly, and we all want to secure a clean milk supply. I believe that, if the Minister was willing to use as his agents the existing local authorities and inspectors, where they are efficient and willing to do the work, a great deal of the difficulty would be overcome.

The right hon. and gallant Member is going too far. He is challenging a decision already arrived at.

I cannot agree with my right hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken, because he was out of Order—not having been here all day; but what he said I agree with—[Interruption]—and I do not propose to follow his example. The feeling of the Committee runs strongly against the Minister. I do not hesitate to say that the Minister's defence was a very weak one indeed. When I heard the refreshing breeze provided by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), which came as a very nice and proper accompaniment to a number of other speeches in similar terms, such as that of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Furness), who made an admirable, short, concise attack upon the Minister of Agriculture, I felt that the Minister might have expended his energy very much better than in trying to destroy a British tradition—the tradition of being allowed to carry on with the work to which you have set your mind, and at which you are reasonably efficient. I hope that the Minister, as the result of his journeys to and fro in the Committee and his talks to the Leader of the House, will agree that a system of appeal should be allowed. I do not hesitate to say that, speaking for many hon. Members of my own party and also to some hon. Friends on the opposite side of the House, what supine Teutonic faint-hearts we should be if we accepted the idea of setting up this central authority as the system by which the country is to be governed. I feel very strongly about this because, as I said on Second Reading, it is striking at the very roots of all that has gone to build up this country. I am accusing the Minister of having exceeded his Mandate. I do not like the feeling, the suspicion, that, while the Cabinet is so deeply involved in the responsibilities and considerations of the war, the Minister should seem to be trying to do something which would not receive Cabinet approval if the times were not so anxious. Therefore, I beg the Minister to consider and talk the matter over with the Leader of the House, so as to give a large body of opinion some consideration.

I hope the Minister's conversations with his colleagues will be fruitful. Really, the whole sense of the Committee is in favour of this Amendment. It is not a matter in which the Conservative Party takes a particular part, though every Conservative speaker has spoken in favour of the Amendment, but we had a speech from the Common Wealth Party, and speeches from the Liberal Party, the Independent Labour Party and from the National Liberals all, broadly speaking, in the same sense. I would also suggest that, when the sense of the Committee is expressed in that way, my right hon. Friend is really putting us in an impossible position by refusing the concession. Most of us have memories of another occasion, when a similar expression of view caused the Government to suffer defeat by one vote. We do not want to get into that difficult situation again. I do not know what attitude the Government are going to take. I see the Leader of the House is there. He has had much more experience in these matters than I, but I should say, with my short experience and from a casual glance round, that defeat is quite inevitable in the next few minutes, unless the Government make some concession on this particular point. In these circumstances, I would ask the Minister if he cannot say that, between now and the Report stage, some discussions will take place so that some solution of this matter could be found. For my own part, I do not think this is one of the great fundamental issues. I think it is an overstatement of this case to suggest that it is a choice between the liberty of the subject and clean milk. The Minister has said that we ought to give him powers, and we are perfectly ready to give him powers, as in many other matters, but when it comes to the breaking of one of these regulations we asked that an independent tribunal should decide. That is a simple and straightforward matter, and I should have thought that the Minister could have made some concession on it, in view of the feeling in the Committee.

On a point of Order. How many times is the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) going to speak to-day? This is the third time.

Under the present proposal, if the tribunal that is suggested by the Minister decides against the dairy farmer, the dairy farmer can go to a Member of Parliament—any of us—and we can say that we will fight for all we are worth to get the matter reconsidered. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes, that is the position. Many of us have taken up other matters. In the proposals put before us now there is a body to be appointed independently of the Executive. It makes a decision against the dairy farmer and the dairy farmer comes to a Member of Parliament and says, "I consider this to be an unjust decision, will you do something for me?" What is the answer of the Member of Parliament? It is, "I can do nothing for you; this body is absolutely sacrosanct." That is totalitarianism and the thing against which this Committee has to fight. It is a body appointed outside the House which is independent of the Executive and, therefore, independent of this House.

Division No. 24.

AYES.

Adams, Major S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)Cape, T.Emery, J. F.
Adamson, Mrs. Jennie L. (Dartford)Cary, R. A.Entwistle, Sir C. F.
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)Charleton, H. C.Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)Cluse, W. S.Everard, Sir W. Lindsay
Apsley, LadyConant, Major R. J. E.Fermoy, Lord
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.Foster, W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Cove, W. G.Fox, Squadron-Leader Sir G. W. G.
Barr, J.Crooke, Sir J. SmedleyFraser, T. (Hamilton)
Bartlett, C. V. O.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.
Beattie, F. (Cathcart)Daggar, G.Gallacher, W.
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)Denville, AlfredGeorge, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Beaumont, Hubert (Batlay)Debbie, W.Gibbins, J.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'th)Douglas, F. C. R.Glanville, J. E.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Driberg, T. E. N.Gower, Sir R. V.
Benson, G.Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)Grant-Ferris, Wing-Comdr. R.
Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)Green, W. H. (Deptford)
Brass, Capt. Sir W.Dunn, E.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.
Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.Ede, J. C.Griffiths, G. A. (Hamsworth)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Edmondson, Major Sir J.Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)
Bull, B. B.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwelty)Gruffydd, W. J.
Burden, T. W.Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Gunston, Major Sir D. W.
Burke, W. A.Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.Guy, W. H.
Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)Elliston, Captain Sir G. S.Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.

the Committee. He has conceded 99 points out of the 100. Cannot he now concede the other one? Before he spoke I was inclined to vote for the Amendment. I waited for his speech and I thought he did very well, but I would now ask him to "go the whole hog."

I am extremely desirous to do everything I can to meet the wishes of the Committee consistently with retaining what I regard as absolutely vital, which is a real attempt to clean up the milk supply of the country. I do not want to wash dirty linen in public, but I have been going round the country for four years and this problem has not been tackled. The methods adopted up to now have not achieved anything, and in my humble view it is the most important thing left for the agricultural industry. Milk is priority No. 1, and I shall not be satisfied until we get clean milk as priority No. 1 and not merely safe milk. I shall be very glad indeed to respond to the appeal of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) and go the other bit. I will undertake, if it will meet the wishes of the Committee, that if this intermediate tribunal, consisting of my Regional Superintending Inspector and the members of the panel nominated by the Milk Marketing Board and by the National Farmers' Union, is unanimous, to accept the decision.

Question put, "That the words 'for the' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 178; Noes, 76.

Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)Maitland, Sir A.Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.
Hammarsley, S. S.Makins, Brig.-Gen, Sir E.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H.Mander, G. le M.Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Hardie, AgnesMathers, G,Smith, E. (Stoke)
Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.Sorensen, R. W.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Messer, F.Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring)
Henderson, T. (Tradeston)Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P.Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)
Horsbrugh, FlorenceMitchell, Colonel H. P.Sutcliffe, H.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.Tate, Mrs. Mavis C.
Hughes, R. MoelwynMorgan, Dr. H. B. W. (Rochdale)Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Hume, Sir G. H.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hynd, J. B.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Thomas, I. (Keighley)
Isaacs, G. A.Mort, D. L.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Neal, H.Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
John, W.Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.Thurtle, E.
Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)Tinker, J. J.
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)Oldfield, W. H.Tomlinson, G.
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Paling, Rt. Hon. W.Tree, A. R. L. F.
Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's.)Parker, J.Viant, S. P.
King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.Peat, C. U.Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Kirkwood, D.Peto, Major B. A. J.Ward, Irane M. B. (Wallsend)
Leighton, Major B. E. P.Plugge, Capt. L. F.Watson, W. MoL.
Liddall, W. S.Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir AsshetonWhite, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)
Linstead, H. N.Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Longhurst, Captain H. C.Raid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Lucas, Major Sir J. M.Reid, W. Allan (Derby)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.Ritson, JWillink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. G.Roberts, W.Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
McCorquodale, Malcolm S.Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (Mitcham)Woodburn, A,
McEntee, V. la T.Ross Taylor, W.Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.Rowlands, G.York, Major C.
Mack, J. D.Sanderson, Sir F. B.Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
McKinlay, A. S.Scott, R. D. (Wansbeck)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Maclean, N. (Govan)Shakespeare, Sir G. H.
McNeil, H.Shinwell, E.

TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—

Mr. Drewe and Mr. Pym.

NOES.

Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.Greenwell, Colonel T. G.Petherick, M.
Aske, Sir R. W.Gretton, J. F.Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.Gridley, Sir A. B.Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.
Berry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham)Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham)Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.
Bird, Sir R. B.Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.Rankin, Sir R.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.Henderson, J. J. Cralk (Leeds, N.E.)Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)
Brooke, H. (Lewisham)Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)Salt, E. W.
Bullock, Capt. M.Hutchison, Lt.-Com G. I. C. (E'burgh)Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'k & Selk'k)
Campbell, Dermot (Antrim)Jewson, P. W.Smithers, Sir W.
Clarke, Colonel R. S.Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hn. L. W.Spearman, A. C. M.
Cobb, Captain E. C.Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Colegate, W. A.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Craven-Ellis, WLawson, H. M. (Skipton)Strickland, Capt. W. F.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)Levy, T.Studholme, Captain H. G.
Davison, Sir W. H.Lewis, O.Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)
Doland, G. F.Lipson, D. L.Touche, G. C.
Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W.Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)Turton, R. H.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.Loftus, P. C.Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. (Kens'gl'n, N.)Loverseed, J. E.Wayland, Sir W. A.
Eccles, D. M.Macdonald, Captain Peter (I. of W.)Webbe, Sir W. Harold
Emmott, C. E. G. C.McGovern, J.White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Findlay, Sir E.Magnay, T.White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)
Furness, S. N.Maxton, J.
Gates, Major E. E.Mellor, Sir J. S. P.

TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—

Graham, Capt. A. C.Morris-Jones, Sir HenryMr. Erskine-Hill and Mr.
Granville, E. L.Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's)Manningham-Buller.
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, to leave out "refusal or."

I have watched with keen interest the result of the voting in the Division which has just taken place. I know it is ordinarily said that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so the proof of the Division is presumably in the Division List, but I do not feel that the result of that Division at all reflected the true feeling of the House or the Committee—

I am sorry, Sir Lambert, unwittingly to transgress against the Rules of Order. This Amendment, which stands in the name of some of my hon. Friends and myself, is, I feel, one of the most important Amendments in the whole of the Committee stage. Now the Bill provides for the registration by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of dairy farms and of persons carrying on the trade of a dairy farmer, and similarly for the refusal or cancellation of any such registration by the Minister if, in his opinion, the regulations will not be, or are not being complied with. However, I do not think we can seriously object to the effect of registration and, indeed, many of us in the circumstances would be willing to accept it, especially as the registration of dairy farms is now a law of the land. However, what we do object to is giving the Minister of Agriculture the right of refusal of registration. It may be said that there are precedents for this course. Now a precedent which has been established for long enough ought to have full weight given to it, because an ancient precedent implies by its mere age that it has probably been challenged on a number of occasions and that the fact which it had established was good on its merits and ought to be accepted. But a short term precedent only implies that something has been done before, and that it ought to be taken into consideration as part of the evidence when the question of whether or not one should do the same thing again comes up.

Therefore, I lay no weight whatever on the claim which may be made that there are precedents for refusal of registration. As I mentioned, as things are now the local authorities cannot refuse a registration to a dairy farmer—he applies and he gets his registration normally. I remember on many occasions having opposed Bills which set up some kind of board with wide powers which gave, in effect, the warm seats near, the fire to those who are already in the trade. I believe that is entirely undesirable. If a man wishes to start up in a new trade I think he should be perfectly entitled to do so, although he may have to comply with registration in the sense of applying to be put on the register so that the Government Department concerned shall know who is or who is not carrying on that particular trade.

If that is all that is implied by registration, I have no objection. If, however, he is asking the Government Department for leave to start in a trade, then I think there are very strong objections on constitutional grounds. We have heard a good deal 'about the authoritarian system and the corporate State. That is very much what the corporate State, in fact, does—it lays down certain rules, there are a number of corporations, and only those who are licensed in those corporations are allowed to carry on the trade at all. That seems to me to be entirely undesirable and a very grave infringement of the liberty of the subject.

Nor do I believe it is in the general interest, because conditions are constantly changing, and if the powers asked for under the Bill were to be generally widened for different trades—which they might well be if we did not make a strong protest—we should find that every trade in the country, sooner or later, would be governed under this form of legislation. The result would be undesirable rigidity, and that persons who wished to start in a trade perhaps because they were not successful in another would be debarred from doing so.

There are two classes of dairymen—those who are engaged in the trade and those who may wish to enter the trade. I think it would be monstrous if the Minister said that, in his opinion, judging from inspectors' reports, a person who was now a dairyman should not be registered when the Bill comes into force. It would be very nearly as bad if the Minister said that anybody who wishes to become a dairyman could not do so, because he did not think he would be likely to make a good dairyman. That is a slight exaggeration, but it is putting into simple language the powers which the Minister possesses. It is absolutely wrong that anyone who is now in the trade as a dairyman or who may wish to enter it should have his registration refused in any circumstances. It is no good saying, "I do not think you will be a very good dairyman, because you were not a good dairyman in the past," because proof of that would be required.

I do not object to cancellation, because I would put cancellation in a different category. The whole country wants to see more milk produced, and cleaner milk, but the point is whether, in trying to see that cleaner milk is manufactured and sold to the public, you are doing greater harm to the liberty of the subject than you are gaining by producing clean milk. By his powers of cancellation alone the Minister has quite sufficient strength on his side to be able to ensure that milk should be clean. If a man manufactures or sells dirty milk his licence may be cancelled and if, as a result of a later stage of this Bill, he is able to win his case before an independent tribunal, his position is assured.

Why on earth should a man not start a dairy farm if he wants to and why on earth should not a man who is doing the job continue to do so? The Minister will no doubt reply that the Government have no intention of interfering with people, but as many Members have said, justice is not always done, and it is in the giving of powers of this kind to a Government Department that many of us see extreme danger. I do not want to say much more on this Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite are rather encouraging me to talk on several other points which I have in mind, but I will not do so. I will conclude by saying that it is absolutely wrong that a Minister should have power to say to anybody, "You shall not start as a dairy farmer, because I do not think you will be able to carry out my rules." That is, broadly and brutally, exactly what the Minister is taking power to say in this Bill, if it is not amended.

May I take an extreme analogy? It is very easy to say that the milk trade is a blot, that a great deal of dirty milk is being sold and that this is the only way to clean it up. It is not a far step to say that there has been a great outbreak of stealing, and that the only way to stop it is to give the Home Secretary power, not to override the courts but to stop them altogether by an authoritarian Measure such as this. Surely that is a fair even if a slightly exaggerated analogy. Therefore, we have to look carefully where we are going because appetite grows even in eating. If you grant these powers in this Bill other Bills will be produced of a same character and will become the heavy weight of precedent, and before we know where we are the liberty of the subject will be gone. The Minister ought not to be given powers beyond those of cancellation. Every dairyman, either at present in the trade or who wishes to start in the trade, should be automatically registered.

My hon. Friend said that, in his view, no one ought to be refused permission to become a dairy farmer and produce milk for human consumption because the Minister, or his minions, thought that he would produce dirty milk. He said that that was an infringement of the liberty of the subject. It would be just as reasonable to argue that only after a motor driver has been proved inefficient and has killed somebody should his licence to drive be taken away. A grave defect of the present system is that a local authority cannot refuse to register a milk producer. That is one of the troubles we are legislating against. To say to a man that he can produce milk when you know that the milk he will produce will be dirty, and then proceed to cancel his registration, is a cumbersome procedure which we cannot accept.

I support the Amendment, which has been so ably moved. I am not at all convinced by the arguments of the Minister, whose analogy of the motor car seemed most inappropriate. If a man wishes to obtain a licence to drive a motor car he usually goes through a test in order to see whether he is capable of driving properly.

Yes, and that is precisely why I gave the analogy. My hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) said there would not be a test.

What the Minister is doing in this Bill is not to give the farmer any right to have a test at all. He or his officials will decide that a man will not make a good dairy farmer and the man will not have an opportunity of undergoing a test.

What the Ministry of Transport inspector does is to examine a man, look at him and decide whether he is a proper person to have a licence.

With due respect to my right hon. Friend, there is nothing in this Bill about giving a test of any kind, or an examination by the Minister or any of his staff. I think it is wrong to balance the rights of the individual against clean milk. I am convinced that we could have both. That argument was made clear on the last Amendment. Those who say that people should have clean milk at the expense of the liberty of the subject, are equally wrong with those who say "You must have liberty of the subject at the expense of clean milk." You can have both. I should have thought the Minister was anxious to encourage milk producers as far as possible, but putting in words like this is more likely to discourage than to encourage farmers. As the Minister always has the right to cancel, I feel that it is better to leave out these words.

I think my right hon. Friend, in replying to this Amendment, did not do justice to my hon. Friend's speech. The case he put, as I understood his argument, is this. Here is a man carrying on the business of a dairy farmer. Suddenly he is required to obtain registration.

If he carries on business at present, he is already registered, and the only question that can arise is cancellation. It is only a question of refusal where a man wants to start dairy farming.

That is not what the Bill says. The Bill says the Minister may refuse registration. It is true that an applicant for registration may be registered at present under different regulations but it is not by any means clear that he is going to be entitled upon that ground to registration under this Bill. In these Bills which call for registration of persons who are either not required to be registered at all or are registered under different regulations, there is usually a provision that a person already carrying on the occupation should be entitled to registration under the new conditions. My right hon. Friend will recollect the Architects Registration Bill, and I call to mind the Dentists Registration Bill, which had the same provision. If it is true that everyone at present registered would be entitled to registration under the new conditions, that ought to be provided for in the Bill. But it is not in the Bill as at present drafted. My hon. Friend's argument was that everyone carrying on the business of a dairy farmer ought to have an opportunity to show that he could carry it on in accordance with the Regulations; he ought not to be met with a blank refusal. The powers of the Minister will be completely safeguarded, as my right hon. Friend said, by the power to cancel registration. If the Minister's power is limited to cancellation, he will then be precisely in the same position as a licensing authority for motor drivers, if I may borrow his own illustration. He will be able to test an applicant, and to see whether he can come up to the prescribed standard. The applicant will have an opportunity to show what he can do before he is refused registration. That is all that we are asking for in the Amendment.

It appears to me that the Amendment is just saying to people who apply for a licence, "You can kill first, and, having murdered, we will say whether you are entitled to go on killing, or whether we will prevent you." What the Amendment suggests is that anyone can apply for registration and no one can be refused. It cannot mean anything else. Having obtained registration, they can poison the public during the time between starting producing dirty milk, and the time the Minister is able to cancel their registration. There are two sorts of people who can apply for registration, the person who is already producing milk and the person who is not producing it. The Minister is asking power, in the case of people who are producing milk, to cancel their registration if they are not producing it in accordance with the Regulations and, in the case of people who are not producing milk, to say, "before I give you the right to produce milk I want to be satisfied that you have appliances which will enable you to produce it satisfactorily and within the Regulations." The Amendment seeks to take away that right, and the Minister will be compelled to register a person in circumstances like this. A person is registered and is producing milk but, because of his record, and his refusal to produce satisfactory milk, his registration is cancelled. A brother, or a friend, might come along within a few days and take over the farm which was considered to be utterly incapable of producing good milk and the Minister would be bound to grant registration and the brother could go on producing milk until cancellation could be provided for. The position would be intolerable for the Minister and for the public and I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman is not going to accept the Amendment.

I hope the Committee will consider what the position will be if these words are not inserted. It will mean that if, in the opinion of the Minister, his Regulations will not be complied with, he can refuse any application for registration. Supposing a soldier comes back from the front who has been employed by a farmer, or has perhaps seen a dairy farm in Normandy or elsewhere, and thinks that is the sort of work he would like to do. Because of some report that had reached the Minister he is to be refused registration. What should we think if we found that, in Italian law, people were given registration, unless Signor Mussolini thought that regulations made by him would not be complied with? That is an exact parallel. I have great respect for my right hon. Friend's opinion but I do not think that any individual should have these sweeping powers over the lives of members of the community. Some tribunal should be set up which would enable a man to show that, even if he had made a slip in the past, he was capable of remedying it, and carrying on an efficient business.

How many of us have not had occasion to change their opinions with regard to individuals. It is far too great a responsibility to cast upon the Minister. We criticised Hitler when he put himself over the judges and said, "Unless, in my opinion, the opinion of the judges is suitable …" That is what the Minister is doing here. He says, "I have made certain regulations and if, in my opinion, this man is not suitable, I shall not register him." The words "in my opinion" ought to be emblazoned on the escutcheon of the House of Commons if we ever pass this provision. We have a court of appeal consisting of a number of judges, but here we are asked to give power to one individual to block the career of a soldier or any other man simply because, in his opinion, he is not likely to comply with the regulations which the Minister himself has made. Who can say whether a man is likely to comply with the regulations? It is far too great a responsibility to throw on to any one individual. I hope that the Committee will insist on passing this Amendment so that we can have a tribunal instead of leaving it to one man to say whether a person is likely to carry out the regulations.

I rise to ask for information about something the Minister said when he interrupted my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton)—that this applied only to new registrations. The Clause lays down that every dairy farmer shall be registered by the Ministry of Agriculture, but inasmuch as every dairy farmer is not now registered, that, presumably, means that they have all now to be registered. The Minister did not seem to be quite clear about the effect of his own Bill in that respect. The Bill seems to make clear that a complete registration of dairy farmers is to be carried out.

My hon. Friend sits for part of a well known milk county. I should have thought that he would have known that at the present moment every dairy farmer is supposed to be registered by the local authority.

It is true that I represent, in part at least, a large dairy constituency, and I know that many farmers are not registered by the Ministry of Agriculture. They are registered by the local authorities. The Bill says that they are to be registered by the Ministry of Agriculture, and, therefore, I asked a proper question, about which my right hon. Friend need not be discourteous, or ponderous, or overweening. Does this mean another registration? I hope that he will give a clear answer. Those who want to enter the industry of milk production will have to apply for registration. I have no objection to that. If an entirely new candidate for milk production is refused registration, has he an appeal to the quasi independent tribunal to which my right hon. Friend referred before the Division?

I am glad to know that it is clear that a new entrant, if he cannot get registration, can appeal and say that he is qualified to produce milk.

For a considerable time the local authorities have requested that they should have the power to refuse registration. The Minister has complained that local authorities have not been efficient in carrying out their powers, yet his predecessors have always refused to give the local authorities the right to refuse as well as to cancel registration. It comes ill from the Minister, when trying to take over the powers of the local authorities, which many of them are carrying out efficiently, that he should change the powers and give new ones to himself.

Dr. Russell Thomas
(Southampton)