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Food Hygiene

Volume 530: debated on Monday 12 July 1954

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13.

asked the Minister of Food what changes have been proposed to him by the representative organisations to whom he circulated his revised draft of food hygiene regulations; and what action he has taken regarding them.

Only a few replies have so far come in. My right hon. Friend will consider them together with the replies from other organisations which are still outstanding.

So far, the changes have been made in favour of the trade. Will the Parliamentary Secretary on this occasion redress the balance and make such changes as he will in favour of the consumer?

Among those who have replied are the Public Health Laboratory Service and the Society of Medical Officers of Health, and their views will be given ample weight in the reconsideration.

14.

asked the Minister of Food what items have been omitted from the proposals for food hygiene regulations and do not appear in the revised draft of these proposals.

24.

asked the Minister of Food what items, which have been omitted from the proposals for food hygiene regulations, will now be incorporated in a code of practice not having legal force.

With permission, I am sending to the hon. Members a copy of the earlier draft marked to show what items have been omitted or transferred to a suggested Code of Practice. I am placing copies in the Library of the House.

We are much obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for the information he will afford us, but does he appreciate that it would have been far better to have afforded the Bill a Second Reading months ago so that we could have discussed these matters in Standing Committee?

The hon. Gentleman heard last week what the Leader of the House said about the prospects of a Second Reading.

15.

asked the Minister of Food why the provision that a person handling food should wear a clean, washable overall, has been omitted from the proposals for food hygiene regulations.

Because there are many operations in the handling of food in which the wearing of an overall is not necessary to protect the food from contamination.

Does this not represent a complete surrender to the trading interests, and is not this one of the proposals which the hon. Gentleman supported until recently? Will he now tell the House why he has changed his mind?

The issue is whether this item should be included in the regulations. The hon. Member will appreciate that in the first form the requirement to wear overalls would have covered all waiters in hotels, and. secondly, would have compelled the wearing of a white overall by those like brine workers, whose overalls are to protect themselves and not the fish.

Does all this mean that the Tory Party prefers dirty food and high prices?

That kind of question makes me wonder whether there is genuine enthusiasm among hon. Gentlemen opposite for the Food and Drugs Bill.

Is not this purely a Committee point and precisely what we could have cleared up during a Committee stage?

This is a matter of regulations, which will not be dealt with in the course of the progress of the Food and Drugs Bill.

16.

asked the Minister of Food the staffing strength of the food hygiene division of his Department at 1st July, 1953, and 1st July, 1954, respectively.

I should have thought that the hon. Member would have rejoiced that there was no reduction in this division, but, on the other hand, an increase.

17.

asked the Minister of Food what provision his revised proposals for food hygiene regulations will contain for washhand basins being made available in rooms in which food is prepared, handled and stored.

That suitable and sufficient washhand basins shall be provided for the use of persons engaged in the handling of food employed on or about food premises.

I am obliged, but would the hon. Gentleman consider, in order to allay public apprehension, and after due consultation with all the bodies concerned and taking every relevant fact into consideration, making a statement that the Government are exploring every avenue and leaving no stone unturned to indicate their policy that, other things being equal, they are, on balance, inclined to be in favour of clean food?

18.

asked the Minister of Food what action he proposes to take to implement the recommendations regarding the cleaner handling of meat, made at the meeting of the World Health Organisation on meat hygiene held at Copenhagen.

The more important matters dealt with at this meeting are covered by existing law or by the Ministry's Manual on Meat Inspection.

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that there is already a good deal of disquiet about the way in which meat has been handled during the past week, and that it is incumbent on the Minister to see that the regulations are enforced and stiffened?

The hon. Gentleman's Question refers to a study circle at Copenhagen, and I have replied that what was suggested there is already covered in this country.

19.

asked the Minister of Food the functions of the food hygiene division of his Department.

To administer those parts of the Food and Drugs Acts, 1938 to 1950, which deal with the inspection of food and food premises and the conditions in which food is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, distributed and sold.

Does the hon. Gentleman not think, in view of the conditions at Smithfield Market which he has just described, that an increase of two in this division is quite insufficient to deal with a situation in which, the hon. Gentleman tells us, there will be a great deal more meat?

The condition in Smithfield Market arose from a larger amount of meat and a larger number of buyers than usual. It had nothing to do with the Food and Drugs Act.

25.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will discontinue his discussions and consultations with outside bodies about the Food and Drugs Amendment Bill until that Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

The consultations in progress are on proposals for regulations to be made under the Bill when it becomes an Act in accordance with the requirements of Section 92 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938.

In view of the fact that

"There's no art To find the mind's construction in the face:" "
—that is "Macbeth"—will the hon. Gentleman tell us what is going on about the Food and Drugs Bill? Would it not have been better to have considered it in Committee and have had all these points cleared up?

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to other Questions and other answers, he would have had at least a dim idea of what is going on.

26.

asked the Minister of Food why the revised proposals for food hygiene regulations contain no provision that first-aid equipment shall be readily accessible.

Because, so far as food manufacturing premises to which the Factories Act, 1937, applies are concerned, first-aid equipment is required to be provided under Section 45 of that Act.

31.

asked the Minister of Food what use has been made of the portable exhibits on clean food which have been prepared by his Department.

Is the Minister aware that the excellence of this exhibition and the response of the public means that he should hurry on with carrying out the task, which we desire him to perform, of getting clean food in the country?

Is the Minister aware that a large number of visitors to this country express their surprise at the way in which the food is handled? Will he get on as quickly as possible with the task of ensuring the cleaner handling of food?

Conditions in this country are certainly of a lower standard than in a number of other countries, but the Question refers to the narrow issue of a food exhibition.

Does the Minister know why the previous Socialist Government did nothing about legislation for clean food during the six years of their administration?