SECTION 23.

I move: " To delete the Section." The reason for this amendment is that it seems to be unreasonable that the owners of these premises should have to disclose their private business and trade connections. Why that should be necessary to secure the efficient carrying out of the trade will be rather difficult to explain. I do not know whether the Minister intends to insist upon this right of access to the private business records of the companies or not. I should like to know that before I proceed further with any argument:

May I put a question? I have been asked to do so by the factory merchants with regard to Section 23, sub-sections (2), (3), and (4): " Does this mean that an inspector can call at our offices at any time during business hours and demand that we produce our books, invoices, consignment notes, receipts and other documents, and that such inspector be authorised to take copies of all business or extracts from our registers on his verbal application to any person in our employment? If so, this means that the goodwill of our business is being taken over by the Government without compensation, and the particulars obtained may be used to our ruin and for the benefit of those to whom the particulars of our business may be communicated." I have been asked to put that question.

The only register that has to be kept in pursuance of this section is a register containing the amount of butter sent out by the creamery. It is absolutely essential to know the precise amount of butter sent out per day, not the price—that is absolutely essential if we are to collect the fees—and the name of the consignees; and the only other documents which an inspector has a right to demand are the invoices or documents to check an entry in the register. Sub-section 1 requires the registered proprietor " to keep or cause to be kept a register in the prescribed form of all consignments of butter despatched from those premises, and within twelve hours after the despatch of any such consignment to enter in such register the prescribed particulars of the quantity of butter comprised in such consignment and the name and address of the person to whom and the route by which the same was consigned." For the purpose of collecting the fees under the Act you must have the quantities of butter that go out, and for the purpose of administering the Act you must have the name and address of the person to whom the butter is consigned, and you must have the route for the purposes of examination. The prices are not included there at all. Then an inspector has only right to ask for invoices or documents so far as they are necessary to check any entry in the register. The register itself only contains the amount of butter, the name of the person to whom it is consigned, and the route by which it is sent. And without those particulars you could not collect the fees and administer the Act.

Does not every consignment of butter contain the registered number of the creamery or the factory?

There is a plain record of the butter until it reaches its destination, and is it not perfectly easy then to ascertain where it came from, from its registered number?

Why, then, ascertain from any factory, if there are objections on the part of those concerned, the names and addresses of their customers? An official may be going into this business himself, and by collecting this information he would know where he would get a good market or good customers. I think there is a very strong objection to this.

The one thing I see about the register is this: that a good deal of this information must be already in the books of the creamery. Is it not multiplying, to a certain extent, the work that has already been done if we are to have a separate book containing information which is already there?

I dare say, as a matter of ordinary procedure, that there is in every creamery some book which sets out the amount of each consignment and the person to whom the consignment is being sent. I dare say there is such a book in every business. The fact that you will require such entries for the purposes of this Act will not make it necessary to have a second book. This section will force the creamery manager to keep a book for the purposes of this Act, but the fact is that he would keep such a book even if this Act never passed.

But he will have to keep it in a prescribed form instead of keeping it in the way he is keeping it at present.

The prescribed form is very simple. It will state the amount of a consignment. Then there are obvious reasons of convenience why we should have the name of the consignee. I do not think there would be any great objection to that, but there are obvious reasons in favour of it, and obvious reasons why we should have the route also. In every creamery there is kept, as a matter of course, in a special book a simple entry setting out these three particulars—the amount of the consignment, the place to which it is being sent, and the route. That is the simplest possible form of entry. It will be necessary to have these three particulars for the purposes of administering the Act. We tried to make them as simple as possible. Even if the thing had to be done anew it would take very little time. I think that in every creamery they have a duplicate of that book at present and, if so, it will not be necessary to have another.

Such a book would probably contain the price.

Then they will have to get another book now.

I should like to know has the Minister ascertained how the people concerned feel on this matter. Did you ascertain what is the opinion or the outlook of the producers, the persons concerned?

I have not the slightest doubt that any creamery that gives its opinion disinterestedly will admit that the keeping of a book of that sort with these three short items would be very little trouble.

My information is to the contrary effect.

I do not see any objection to keeping that book.

And no objection to the inspector examining it?

I withdraw the amendment as a safeguard, because withdrawing it will enable it to be brought up on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

In line 50 the Section states: " Inspection of a register or document shall include taking copies thereof or extracts therefrom." I do not know what the ideas of the creamery managers are, but I should strongly object to anybody taking copies of my registers. What would be the objection of providing that he should get, say, " any information in connection with the business?"

It is not the inspection of your private documents. It is the inspection of the register kept specially for the purpose of the Act; and it is only inspection of documents so far as such inspection is necessary to check the entries in the register.

I should like to ask what exactly is the inspector to note. Is it those three items?

There is no secret about it.

That is the whole information—the amount of butter consigned—

The route and the name of the consignee.

I want to call the Minister's attention to Sub-section 4, line 55, " if such demand is made verbally on the registered premises to any person in the employment of the registered proprietor." I intended to put in an amendment to provide that it should be " to any responsible person."

You will put it in on Report?

Sub-section (b) states " a demand for inspection of a register or other document shall be deemed to been have duly made by an inspector to the registered proprietor if such demand is made verbally on the registered premises to any person in the employment of the registered proprietor." I think that is a little bit informal, and I think it might be tightened up and defined better. According to this, you might ask the boy who is sweeping out the premises.

That is the very point I want cleared up.

Question: " That Section 23 stand part of the Bill," put and agreed.
The Committee adjourned at 1 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on July 4th.