I explained on the First Reading that this was a contentious Bill, but I want to say at once that it is a contentious Bill only in regard to one particular point. It is, of course, a very important point. It is, if you like, the principle of the whole Bill. The Bill is a very long one, but the sections that deal with that particular point, which I will outline, are the only sections that can be said to be highly contentious. This particular subject of improving and standardising the output of our creameries, and improving the methods of marketing, has been discussed by all the interested parties for the last five or six years. I think this is the third Bill that has been drafted to give effect to what was thought to be required. These Bills were never introduced. This is the first Bill introduced, but the provisions of all these Bills were discussed in detail, criticised, reformed, and reconsidered by all the interested parties on various occasions for the last four or five years. This Bill will be no more contentious than the Egg Bill, but for the big issue, that is to say, whether butter should be graded at the ports or whether the national brand should be given to creameries that are thought fit for that brand after examination and inspection, and on the Ministry being satisfied as to the standards of equipment and technical competence of these creameries. That is the only contentious issue. There are contentious details, but except for that issue this Bill would be no more contentious than the Egg Bill, though it is much longer than the Egg Bill. The other details of the Bill, I should say, have received more agreement and more examination and consideration by the traders concerned than even the details of the Egg Bill, so that none of us is coming to this subject anew. We all heard it before, and we discussed it at great length. Though that issue, which I have mentioned requires the most careful consideration, and though there is a lot to be said on both sides, I hope the Bill will not be held up on the grounds that it is a long Bill, and that difficulties will not be put in the way with regard to the other matters that are really not contentious. The scheme of the Bill is, briefly, as follows:—All premises in which dairy produce is manufactured for sale must be kept clean and in order; must be suitable for the requirements of the business, and must be provided with an adequate supply of pure water. That refers to all premises, creameries, butter factories and dairies.
Any authorised officer on being satisfied on inspection that any premises used for the purpose mentioned does not comply with the requisite conditions of cleanliness and order may serve notice on the occupier requiring the defects to be remedied, and failure to comply with the notice subject to a right of appeal to an arbitrator to be appointed by the Executive Council, will be an offence.
That is a summary of sections which deal with all premises, creameries, butter factories, and dairies. These sections attempt to ensure that all premises in which butter is manufactured will be kept clean and in order. We next come to the supply of milk. The supplying of dirty milk or cream or milk or cream delivered in a dirty vessel to creameries, cream-separating stations, or other places in which milk or cream is used for manufacturing human food for sale, or its acceptance in such places, and the supplying of dirty butter or its use in butter factories or other places in which butter is used for manufacturing articles of human food, are also made offences.
It is realised that we must go back to the sources, and that we must insist that the milk supplied to creameries and the butter supplied to butter factories by farmers, the producers, must be clean, and produced under circumstances in which cleanliness is possible. The Bill provides for the registration of, first, creameries; secondly, of cream-separating stations; and, thirdly, other premises used for the manufacture of butter other than creamery butter, for export, that is to say, butter factories. Prior to registering any premises of any of these three classes, the Minister must be satisfied that the premises comply with the conditions of cleanliness and order applicable to all premises used for the manufacture of dairy produce for sale, and in addition the premises must be equipped with certain specified equipment, or such other equipment as the Minister may approve. Regulations will have to be observed by persons carrying on the business on registered premises with a view to securing proper methods of manufacture, and of marketing their produce. The Bill provides for the establishment of a national brand for creamery butter of an approved standard of quality, packing and finish. Before I go from that point, I want to draw attention again to the classes I have mentioned. The Bill provides for the registration of creameries, cream-separating stations, and other premises used for the manufacture of butter, that is to say butter factories. Regulations will be made with regard to cleanliness and equipment for all these institutions, and butter cannot be made there, and butter cannot be exported from them, and cream cannot be collected at the cream-separating stations unless these stations are registered, and they will not be registered until they comply with the conditions of cleanliness and equipment which are considered essential.
With regard to the national brand, any creamery registered under the Bill will be entitled to obtain from the Minister permission to use the brand so long as the creamery complies with certain approved conditions as to equipment, staff, methods of manufacture, etc., to be prescribed in rules made by the Minister, and so long as the butter ordinarily made at the creamery attains the requisite standard of quality and packing and finish as determined by examinations of the manufactured butter to be made (a) at the creamery and (b) at surprise butter inspections to be carried out in accordance with rules to be made by the Minister at any place, either at the port of transit or anywhere else. The creamery, therefore, to get the national brand must first of all be registered; secondly, it must have the standard equipment and the technical competence; but it must have considerably over that required for mere registration. For instance, no creamery will get the national brand that is not pasteurising. It is conceivable that a creamery will be allowed to export without pasteurising, but generally the standard of equipment and the technical competence to qualify any creamery for receiving the national brand will be high. The Minister may at any time by order provide for the granting of the use of the national brand to butter made at premises other than registered creameries subject to compliance with the same conditions as apply in the case of creameries, but modified and adapted so as to meet the special requirements of the premises in which the butter is made. It will not be lawful to export unless (1) the butter is exported direct from a registered creamery; or (2) the butter is exported direct from premises registered under the Act for the manufacture of butter (other than creamery butter) for export; that is to say, exported from a butter factory; or (3) the butter is exported from premises registered in the register of non-manufacturing exporters. We register certain premises which are not creameries, and which are not butter factories, but which belong to the wholesalers, where butter, perhaps, made in creameries and in factories is exported, and special licences may be obtained for the export of any consignment of butter.
It will not be lawful to export butter unless every package is marked with a mark or number to be assigned by the Minister to the premises from which it is exported or, in the case of a special licence, to be specified in the licence. It is proposed to prohibit the export of any butter not properly packed or marked, or of any butter from a creamery or butter factory containing over 16 per cent. of water. Possibly, perhaps I should say probably, we will allow an export of butter from premises belonging to somebody who is not a manufacturer, even though that butter contained over 16 per cent. of water. That may or may not be allowed. It possibly will be allowed in the beginning. It will depend on the market and how the trade develops. It possibly may not be allowed later on. In either event there is a discretion either to allow or forbid it. The Bill confers ample and drastic powers of inspection of premises where butter is manufactured.
That is the scheme of the Bill. As I said before, the debatable issue is, whether butter should be graded at the ports or whether we should give a national brand which would be a mark of premium quality to any butter coming from creameries where the standard of technical competence and equipment is up to the minimum prescribed. That is the issue. It is felt that we should aim in this country, at least, at something approaching the standard of Denmark; that our aim should be to produce one quality of creamery butter and one quality only, namely, the best. It will take some time to realise that, but that should be our aim. If that is our aim, then I think the question as to whether all butter should be graded at the ports and whether we should have a first, second, third or fourth grade, or whether we should give, in the first instance, a national brand to choice butter, and merely allow the export of all other butter fit for export under licence, can be easily decided.
We have to remember that it is almost common case that, even if we adopted the grading system, we can only grade at the ports with any safety butter coming from creameries which would be entitled to the national brand under the branding scheme. We could not grade at the ports with any safety butter coming from creameries where the standard was not up to the required minimum. It is admitted that in order to grade butter at the ports the only tests possible in the circumstances are tests for flavour, smell, and water content. Even though some very good judges, people who would be entitled to be called experts, will say that these three tests can find out all that is to be found out about a particular consignment of butter, I think the weight of evidence is that they are not final or conclusive. Butter might be graded at the ports as choice butter on these three tests, and in a fortnight afterwards that particular consignment might be anything but choice butter. That is the reason that we could not with any safety attempt to give a first grade, a premium grade, to butter which has come from a creamery whose standards are not up to the minimum required for the national brand.
So that the issue between the people who favour the national brand and the people who favour grading at the ports is really narrowed down to this: should butter coming from the limited number of creameries—limited at present— whose standards are up to the mark, and who in view of their standards would be entitled to the national brand, be graded at the ports? That is what it comes to. Suppose for a moment that a consignment of butter came from a creamery whose general standards were not up to the national brand standard but which proved on taste, smell and water content to be first-class butter—even though that is first-class butter I think it is admitted by the creamery managers that they could not give it a premium grade. The question arises, therefore—What grade should it get? If it cannot get the first grade why should it get the second? In any event, why should it not get the first grade, if it is first class? It cannot get the first grade, even though it is first class, because nobody can be sure that it was manufactured under conditions which are bacteriologically all right, and, consequently, that it will be as good butter in fourteen or fifteen days after the various bacilli get going at it. I think it is even admitted by the Creamery Managers' Association, who are the best-informed champions of the grading-at-the-port system, that they could not give it first grade. Why, then, should they give the second? Although this is a contentious issue, we can narrow it down to a very small point, and that is, whether we give a national brand to butter up to a certain standard, coming from creameries which are also up to a certain standard, or whether we will grade that butter. The issue is not really a live issue in connection with any other butter that comes from any other creamery. It will probably save a certain amount of debate to try to narrow the issue at this stage.