Milk Bill, 1934—Money Resolution. - Milk Bill, 1934—Committee.

Tuesday, 18 December 1934

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 54 No. 9

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Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

(1) In this Act (except in Part II thereof) the word “milk” means any article of food which is whole milk, skimmed or condensed milk, cream or buttermilk.

(2) In Part II of this Act the word “milk” means whole milk.

(3) In this section the expression “whole milk” means milk from [1537] which none of the constituents have been abstracted otherwise than as a result of any cleansing process (including pasteurisation or sterilisation) to which such milk has been subjected.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Dr. Ward): Information on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  Zoom on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  I move amendment No. 1:—

In sub-section (1), line 25, to delete the word “condensed” and substitute the word “separated.”

It is merely a drafting amendment, the word “condensed” having been inserted in error for the word “separated.”

Amendment agreed to.

Section 3, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 4 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

Any sanitary authority may, with the consent of the Minister, and subject to the provisions of any enactment relating to the appointment of officers by such authority, appoint such and so many officers as such authority shall consider requisite for the execution of the functions, powers and duties conferred or imposed by this Act, and every officer so appointed shall be paid such remuneration as the sanitary authority, with the consent of the Minister, shall determine.

Dr. Rowlette: Information on Dr. Robert James Rowlette  Zoom on Dr. Robert James Rowlette  I move amendment No. 2:—

Before Section 10 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) No person shall keep a dairy or produce or sell milk until he shall be licensed by the sanitary authority each year.

(2) The annual fee for such licence shall be fixed by the Minister in regulations made by him.”

I think the Minister had the unanimous support of the House when he put forward the intention of this Bill, which was, as he said, to render the milk supply of the country safe. It seems no part of the public policy of the [1538] country to increase the consumption of milk. The Minister and his colleagues must have some hesitation in pressing for an increased consumption of milk until the consumers have the assurance-that the milk is reasonably safe. I believe the whole intention of this Bill is that milk should be made safe for consumption, and I believe it will go a considerable way in satisfying the public upon this point. It is in the hope of making this measure more effective that I am moving this amendment. The principle of the amendment which I am asking the House to adopt is that all producers and sellers of milk should act only with the authority of an annual licence, issued by the sanitary authorities on such fee as the Minister may prescribe. I notice that this recommendation, in a more definite form, was among the recommedations of the Departmental Committee that reported in 1928. This is one of the recommendations of that committee, which is absent from the present Bill, and which is one of the two or three most important things that could find place in this Bill. On page 31 of the report, paragraph 132, reads:—

“All milk vendors in county boroughs and urban districts should be licensed annually by the sanitary authority personally and in respect of the premises used by them for trade purposes. In the event of refusal of a licence a right of appeal to the District Court might be given.”

That is more limited in its scope than the amendment to which I am speaking. It refers only to county boroughs and urban districts. At the time that the Departmental Committee made that recommendation it is probable that a much larger proportion of milk was produced in county boroughs and urban districts than is produced to-day and that there was a much larger consumption of milk. If the licensing were confined to the shops and dealers situated only in urban districts it would be ineffective. It is necessary, if our milk is to be safe, that the milk at its source should be under just as close supervision as at the point of sale; and the reason that this amendment [1539] is put forward is to render that supervision more effective. There is, I know, registration of milk dealers at present, but one can hardly claim that the supervision under the present system is effective enough, even in those areas in which it has been relatively most effective. The Departmental Committee, commenting on the Dairies and Milk Shops Order, made the remark that in rural areas the Order had failed in its object. One must take that statement as meaning what it says. The effect of my amendment would be the more efficient supervision of the production of milk in rural areas; and it is of the utmost importance, as was made plain on the Second Reading of the Bill, that the supervision of the production of milk is as necessary at its source as at its sale.

It is clear that if a dealer or producer is to have his licence renewed each year he will be on his mettle throughout the whole year to avoid committing an offence, and will do his best to produce his milk in such a clean and healthy way that it will not be a danger to the community. It is unfortunate that this has not been the result of the Order so far. I think that the least that should happen to a man who is habitually careless, not to say criminal, with regard to the production of his milk is that he should lose his licence for a period. This amendment is one of the recommendations of the Departmental Committee. Its provisions have appeared in print in recent months, and have attracted a good deal of public attention. It is interesting to see that in the City of Cork, recently, the Deputies of that constituency were unanimously requested by an important body in that city to support this amendment as well as other amendments having the same purpose. That shows that the people who are concerned with the health of a very important centre in the country recognise that such an amendment is necessary. It shows that such an amendment is necessary if the Bill is to give our citizens the security to which they have a right. I suggest [1540] that its addition to the Bill will not inflict any considerable hardship on the milk producers or milk dealers. I have no doubt that if other health authorities, besides the health authorities in the City of Cork, had considered the matter in the same way, they would have come to a similar conclusion.

I believe that in this amendment I have the approval of all those who have really concerned themselves with the question of the milk supply in relation to the public health of the country. The medical officers of health with whom I have discussed it hold that it is not alone highly desirable but the best that could reasonably be expected, and I trust that all Deputies in the House, no matter to what Party they belong, will take the same view as those health authorities, both lay and medical, who have given the matter full consideration. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister will receive this as an amendment intended to help towards the solution of the supply of clean milk, and I can assure both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary that it is in that hope that I am proposing this amendment. For that reason, I ask the support of all Deputies for it.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I do not think that it is necessary to say much in support of this amendment. It is an amendment that has been inserted with a view to ensuring, so far as is reasonably possible, the proper control of the production and sale of milk. It is considered by the authorities, who have had experience in the administration of public health in important centres, that such a provision ought to be included in the Bill. I do not desire to waste the time of the House any further, except to say that I think this is an amendment that ought to be accepted.

Mr. J.M. Burke: Information on James Michael Burke  Zoom on James Michael Burke  I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that there ought to be some means of appeal to some court in case of the cancellation or refusal of a licence by [1541] the local authority. Apart from that, I am in perfect agreement with the proposal.

Dr. Ward: Information on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  Zoom on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  Since the Second Reading Stage of this Bill very strong representations have been made to me and to the Department in relation to the principle that is raised in Dr. Rowlette's amendment. When the Bill was under consideration, and while it was in rough draft, so to speak, it was intended that the principle of registration should be incorporated in the measure; but at that time, or before the Bill came before the House, strong representations were made by the Department of Agriculture to the effect that the inclusion of the principle of registration and licensing of milk producers would involve undue hardship on a section of the agricultural community. There seemed to be some weight in the argument put forward at that time, but, in the light of all the facts that have been disclosed in the meantime, and the volume of opinion that is, undoubtedly, in favour of registration, I am inclined to the view that the incorporation of this principle of registration would be, certainly, an improvement, and I believe that the agricultural community can be safeguarded against any undue hardship under a system of registration.

However, I do not think, from the amount of consideration that we have given this question since Deputy Rowlette's amendment has come under consideration, that the amendment before the House would be sufficient to deal with all the implications and complications of the principle of registration. The point raised by Deputy Burke as to the right, in the event of the refusal of a licence or cancellation of registration, of an appeal to the court is one that certainly ought to be incorporated in this system of registration. I am advised that to implement the principle involved in this amendment, we would require some 23 or 24 new sections in the Bill. If this principle is accepted it would appear to be desirable that our Bill should be completely comprehensive and embrace all our legislation dealing with our milk. I think that if the principle is accepted, the House would be well advised to discharge [1542] the Committee Stage, have the Bill withdrawn, and the measure redrafted. In the redrafted Bill it will be necessary to repeal Section 34 of the Contagious Diseases of Animals Act, and take all our powers relating to milk supply, production, supervision, and sale in one comprehensive measure. If the House wishes to adopt that course I am quite agreeable to it, and I believe that as a result of it we will have a better Bill.

Dr. Rowlette: Information on Dr. Robert James Rowlette  Zoom on Dr. Robert James Rowlette  In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, I do not propose to press the amendment. I understand that he has intimated his willingness to accept the principle of it and to embody it in a new Bill. I quite realise that my amendment, if accepted, would make it necessary that a number of consequential amendments should be inserted in this Bill. It would be more satisfactory, I think, if these consequential amendments were drafted by the officials of the Department than that members of the House should prepare them in a hurried kind of a way. In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, I ask the leave of the House to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Bennett: Information on George Cecil Bennett  Zoom on George Cecil Bennett  I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary if this amendment is accepted in principle will it mean that individual producers of milk, no matter where situated, will be put under the necessity of registering? Would it apply, for instance, to milk suppliers to creameries in the various counties?

Dr. Ward: Information on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  Zoom on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  The Deputy will see from Section 2 that “this Act shall come into operation on such day or days as may be fixed . . either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision.” Now, creamery suppliers are under fairly strict supervision at the present time. The Minister for Agriculture and his Department have efficient machinery for dealing with the cleanliness of the milk supply to creameries. I would be prepared to meet the Deputy to this extent: that while power to apply this to creamery suppliers ought to be taken in the measure, it ought not to be actually [1543] applied. That portion of the Act ought not to operate unless in agreement with the Minister for Agriculture. I think it will be a number of years before the general milk supplying section of the community is brought up to the standard of efficiency that we have already reached in the case of creamery suppliers. In the case of those who produce and sell milk for human consumption, I would like to see their methods very considerably improved before we interfered with the creamery suppliers.

Mr. Bennett: Information on George Cecil Bennett  Zoom on George Cecil Bennett  In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, I think we ought to leave the matter at that. On the Second Reading of the Bill I did point out that there might be difficulties in the way of producers who supplied the creameries, in as much as there was already supervision in their cases through the Department of Agriculture. So far as they are concerned there is already supervision, and the point that I made was that if these people were to be made subject to the provisions of new legislation it might bear very hardly on them. For the present, I am prepared to accept what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, that there will be a saving clause in any new Bill introduced to protect them from the necessity of registering.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn by leave of the House.

Dr. Ward: Information on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  Zoom on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward  In case the House does not sit to-morrow, I would like to get permission to have a First Reading this evening of the new measure so that, when redrafted, it may be circulated during the Recess.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I think the House will sit to-morrow.

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