In Section 29 to add at the end of the section four new sub-sections as follows:—
" (3) The use of the national mark shall not be granted to any registered manufacturing exporter, until he has been ascertained by regular examination at specified ports for a period of not less than six months of sample packages of all consignments exported by that manufacturer that he is manufacturing consistently butter of the quality required, and there shall be provided by the Minister at such specified ports the necessary facilities for the examination. "
" (4) The whole or any portion of every consignment of butter bearing the national mark exported from the Free State shall be examined at the ports, and if the examination shows that any consignment has not reached the approved standard steps shall be taken to have the national mark removed or obliterated."
" (5) The exporter shall be entitled to receive from the inspector or examiner a certificate showing the percentage of marks awarded as a result of the examination, and, where required by the consignor, the examiner shall send a duplicate of the certificates to the consignee."
" (6) Where butter, whether bearing the national mark or not is examined at the ports, samples shall be taken for analysis, and where such analysis shows that the butter containing over 16 per cent. moisture, or is otherwise adulterated, the necessary steps shall be taken to remove or obliterate the national mark, and notification to that effect shall be given to the consignor and consignee."
This raises the whole matter that was traversed by the Minister this morning in our discussion. I think the general arguments that can be adduced on the side of this was stated broadly and, I think, dispassionately by the Minister in his general statement this morning. I think that after stating the arguments in support of the idea of grading at the ports he dismissed it without really disproving the arguments that he had brought forward.
The contention is that the national brand will be a definite assurance of the quality of the butter exported, and that it is only by grading that that can be done. A further point that was not stated by the Minister is this, that while those who urge that grading at the ports is necessary they also urge that the national brand should be given as the result of a series of examinations of butter at the ports, and not as something that would precede examination at the ports. That period of probation for examination before the right to use the brand had been given to those different creameries should extend over a period of months. The Minister stated that it would probably require a number of months to make an exhaustive inspection of these different creameries before they decided what creameries would have the national brand. The question is whether that period so spent would be utilised more advantageously and more effectively at the creameries themselves or at the ports. It is quite obvious, I think, that if a creamery has secured the right to place the brand on its products, and produces an excellent article which is exported and secures a good market, there may at some time be negligence and carelessness, and that an inferior article bearing the national brand passes through the ports from that creamery without examination. That will have a very adverse effect upon the reliability of the national brand being a guarantee of a high standard of quality of butter. Though the Minister states that he has taken all power necessary in this Bill to carry out such examination, if he thinks it necessary, and if the circumstances warrant it, the power which he is given is only optional. This amendment proposes that it should be mandatory. Once harm was done by the export of inferior butter there would then be the question, not of maintaining the reliability of the national brand, but of covering the discredit which would inevitably follow such a proceeding. I asked the Minister sometime ago what was the number of creameries likely to come under the supervision of his Department. He said about four hundred. He could not give me the number of officials and inspectors who would be available for the work of making these investigations as to the conditions under which these creameries, entitled to the national brand, worked. I think that in order to ensure conditions that would make the standard article unquestionable, the number of officials would be very numerous indeed, and would be, much more than the Minister has at his disposal at present. I wonder how many creameries one could inspect and keep an effective watch over, to see the nature and condition of the milk when received from the farmers, to inspect the pasteurising process, and the machinery through which the cream must pass, and then to test and examine the butter. If the official had to do all that, as thoroughly and exhaustively as would be necessary to secure that the butter would be of a high standard, I think that half a dozen creameries at most would be as much as one official could be expected to attend to, so as to make supervision satisfactory. If you divide 400 by 6, I think you will find that the number of inspectors required to maintain that thorough supervision would be very numerous.
Now, further, suppose a merchant buys creamery butter which was of excellent quality when purchased, but, as a result of anticipating a rise in the market, it depreciates in quality owing to storage, is there to be any security or provision in this Bill that such butter bearing the national brand will not get out of the country without being classified in its condition when exported? There is undoubtedly power to make such provision, but that power is simply optional on the part of the Minister. It may be that just at the time when there is least necessity for examination, that examination takes place, and that at the time when examination at the ports is most essential, the examination does not take place, and the inferior article gets through to the discredit of the national brand. I think, as one who only examined this question since the Bill was introduced, that it would be very difficult to answer the claim put forward by a great number of creameries. This means that every consignment of butter is examined and classified, that inferior butter bearing the national brand will not get through, or, at least, if it gets through, it will have the brand removed and will be in its proper classification. The very fact that it was certain such examination would take place at the ports would tend considerably to eliminate the element of possibility of carelessness at the creameries. I am sure that everyone here is more conversant than I am with the arguments on this subject, and, therefore, it is unnecessary for me to elaborate them at greater length. The arguments are, I think, sufficient to warrant very careful consideration before a proposal of this kind is dismissed. I hope it will not be, and I propose to urge it as strongly as I can, because I certainly have evidence before me of a matter upon which the whole effect of this Bill hinges. The Minister said that there is a possibility, in certain conditions, of this Bill making present conditions even worse. I think this is really the pith and kernel of the whole matter, and it is the most important decision which will be taken on the Bill at any stage. I, therefore, propose the amendment.