I would rather you did not. A point of very considerable importance in relation to this question of deficiency in fat content is the regularity of milking the cows. It has been found—and experiments on a very extensive scale have been carried out; I have lots of figures but I do not want to weary the House with them—that the further it is removed from equality, the bigger the discrepancy will be as between one milk and the other. That is definitely established and it has been found and proven that the morning milk from well kept and good herds is deficient in fats, but it has also been established that by continuing up and learning the lesson which these experiments taught—by regulating the interval of milking—the morning deficiency has been practically eliminated. There are figures to prove that, if it were necessary to prove it. There are difficulties of distribution. The intervals between milking cannot be equalised for transport reasons and by reason of the time that milk must be delivered in cities and towns and all that sort of thing, but the producer and the purveyor of milk must at any rate do all the obvious necessary things in order to bring his milk up to a certain standard and I believe that if he does all the things, without incurring any great expense or going to any great inconvenience which he himself can do to improve the standard of his milk, he will have very little difficulty in producing milk that will uniformly reach the minimum of 3 per cent.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, the 3 per cent. is too high, I maintain that it is still better to fix a percentage—let that percentage be whatever it will—but if the public believe the Statute has safeguarded them against milk of a low grade, the public are entitled to get their high-grade milk which the Statute purports to provide. If the 3 per cent. standard is too high, when the Minister for Agriculture comes along with his regulations, by all means persuade him that he has fixed too high a standard, but ensure that the public get milk of the standard of purity that they believe they are getting and for which they are paying. Somebody mentioned in the course of the discussion that it would be desirable to have the standards of milk set out in the Bill. I do not think it would be, and for the reason that it may be necessary from time to time to change the standards, and they cannot be changed except by regulations made by the Minister. If, at any time, we wish to change the standards—medical opinions change from time to time and lay opinions change— I think it would be an undesirable position to put ourselves into of having to introduce fresh legislation, if we wished to raise the standard, say, to 3.5 per cent. or if, on the other hand, we wished to reduce it to 2.75 of butter fat content.
I think that on full examination those people who advocated the setting out of the standards in the Bill will agree with me that it is more desirable to leave the law as it stands in relation to that. It might be well, however, and I should be quite prepared to consider favourably such a proposal, that the regulations setting out the standards should be laid on the Table of the House and that Senators should be afforded an opportunity of discussing these regulations and persuading the House that they ought to be nullified or rejected if, in the wisdom of the House, it is considered that the right standard has not been set out. That is a matter on which I would have a very open mind, and if an amendment to that effect is tabled, there would be no serious objection to it. There has been a good deal of discussion which I do not intend to follow up on the general question of purity of milk, that is not proper to this Bill at all. This Bill is really incidental to the comprehensive Milk Bill at present before the Dáil and many of the matters raised here, and not pursued very far, were matters which, I think, were not proper to this Bill at all.
I think it was Senator Wilson who felt very disturbed that anybody who sold milk that came "straight from the cow" should be liable to conviction if that milk did not reach a certain standard. I do not know whether the particular abuse I have in mind is very extensive, but I do know for a fact that milk that has been sold as "straight from the cow" has come "straight from the cow," but it has only been the fore milk, and Senator Wilson, of course, knows that the percentage of fat in the fore milk is considerably lower than the percentage of fat in the later milk. A case has come before my notice where the fore milk was sold for human consumption and a high price got for it, while the strippings were sold to the creamery where they are paid on the percentage of butter fat.