asked the Minister of Food what representations he has received from the National Caterers' Federation relating to the Food and Drugs (Amendment) Bill; and what reply he has sent.
The Department received a letter and memorandum from the Federation on 16th March expressing certain views about the new legislation and suggesting further consultation with trade interests about the form of public food hygiene regulations. They attended a conference on 5th April and made a number of points which will be carefully considered.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind that there are still far too many filthy eating places in this country and that it cannot be left to certain elements in the catering industry to put their own houses ox kitchens in order? Is he aware that whatever steps he takes towards improving standards in this regard will meet with widespread support in all quarters of the House and outside?
I am very much alive, as are hon. Members on both sides of the House, to the need for improving the standards of food hygiene. What is happening now is that preliminary consultations are taking place on the first draft of regulations which might subsequently be introduced.
Is my hon. Friend aware that caterers are not complaining about the Bill so much as about the possible effect of the regulations being unrealistic? Will he consult the trade before the regulations are formally adopted?
The first draft regulations were issued as long ago as 26th January. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that widespread consultation is taking place on the precise point with the body named in the Question. That body expressed itself as dissatisfied with the idea of any legislation to amend the Act of 1938.
Will not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the health of the public is more important than the susceptibilities of the National Caterers' Federation?
Of course, I do so agree. At the same time, we must see to it that the regulations introduced are reasonable and are capable of application in a reasonable time and at reasonable cost.