I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The purpose of this Bill is to put an end to the widespread and persistent abuses in connection with the sale of certain alleged animal remedies which have very little or no value, and to encourage instead the use of animal remedies which have a real scientific value. Many useless remedies are still finding a ready sale throughout the country and farmers are induced to buy them by means of high power salesmanship, for example, extravagant claims made in Press advertisements and by travelling salesmen. Of the many examples which have come under the Department's notice, the following may be mentioned: A product sold at 3/- er small bottle purported to be a remedy for hoose in calves. It was found to consist of commercial turpentine. A preparation described as "Cod Liver Oil Tonic Compound" consisted of 22 per cent. cod liver oil, 3 per cent. iron oxide and 75 per cent spring water. This was sold at 37/6 per gallon while the price of undiluted cod liver oil was then 15/6 per gallon. Another product was sold at 2/9 per small bottle and was suggested as a cure for abortion and sterility in cattle. No "cure" for these conditions is known to veterinary science. The product was found to be almost entirely spring water.
Such practices do great harm in more ways than one. Farmers who buy such preparations are not only cheated but they may be lulled into a false sense of security as regards the cure or prevention of disease, sometimes disease of a transmissible nature. While many of the disease conditions concerned will successfully respond to veterinary treatment if taken in time, the farmer who uses a spurious remedy under the persuasion of an eloquent salesman runs the risk that, in the absence of proper and early treatment, his animal will be beyond veterinary aid by the time he realises that the alleged remedy is useless. This must tend to impair the confidence of farmers in veterinary treatment as well as in the alleged remedies.
My Department has by means of Press and radio announcements repeatedly pointed out that the claims made for many alleged animal remedies were not justified and advised farmers to be very careful about what they purchased and used. Similar advice has been given direct to farmers by the outdoor staff of the Department. Unfortunately, however, many farmers continue to be fascinated by the attractive promises made by the sellers of such preparations.
It is a strange paradox that quack remedies should continue to be used on quite a large scale when, as a result of modern veterinary research, farmers have now available to them to an extent never before known, a wide range of economical and proven remedies, which, under veterinary guidance, can be used very effectively in the treatment of many of the major live-stock diseases present in this country. For example, strain 19 vaccine is a sure preventive of contagious abortion and the Department, in collaboration with the veterinary profession, makes it possible for farmers to have their cows and heifers vaccinated professionally at specially reduced fees. The Department's veterinary scientists have shown in recent experiments that white scour in calves can be effectively controlled by the proper use of antibiotics. Then there are those excellent preparations, hexachloroethane and phenothiazine which are so successful in the treatment of fluke and stomach worms respectively. Such remedies, however, are in general not yet used on a sufficiently widespread scale, and yet a considerable number of calves—though nothing like as many as previously—are lost every year through diseases with a consequent depressing effect on production.
The existing law does not in practice enable effective measures to be taken to deal with the abuses that exist in connection with the sale of quack remedies and the present Bill has been drafted accordingly. The Bill envisages two types of control measures. The first of these, set out in Section 5, requires in the case of every commercial animal remedy that the name of the remedy, its composition, the specific remedial property or properties claimed and the name and address of the manufacturer and the packer be disclosed on the container and on any outer wrapper and that advertisements about the remedy should contain the same information. The disclosure of additional particulars may be required by regulations made after consultation with the consultative committee provided for in Section 4.
The second type of control provided for under Section 7 empowers the Minister, after consultation with the consultative committee, to make regulations for the control, including control by licence, of the manufacture, preparation, packing, import or sale of animal remedies. It is intended that this latter provision would be implemented, on the advice of the consultative committee, should Section 5 alone be found in practice not to be a complete deterrent to present abuses. It is believed, however, that the obligatory disclosure of the composition, etc., of animal remelies should go a long way towards putting an end to the sale of quack products because farmers will know exactly what is being offered for the prices charged and sellers of such products who contravene the provisions of the Bill will be liable to proceedings. At the same time it should be understood that Section 7 will undoubtedly be put into operation if the Minister, in consultation with the consultative committee, at any time considers that this is necessary.
The consultative committee under Section 4 has a parallel in the similar committee which functions under the Therapeutic Substances Act, 1932. It will consist of experienced persons who will be in a position to advise the Minister in the making of regulations. It is intended that the committee will include representatives of the Veterinary Council, the Pharmaceutical Society, the Department of Health and the farmers.
Discussions in regard to the proposed legislation have taken place with professional and trade interests concerned and in framing the Bill regard has been had as far as practicable to their views.