In its passage through the Grand Committee the Food Bill is being amended in a number of important particulars, and it is in the highest degree satisfactory that so much interest has been taken in the measure by members on both sides of the House as to lead to full and free discussion. Sir Charles Cameron, Mr. Kearley, Mr. Strachey, and other members have rendered excellent service by the introduction of various amendments; and Sir Charles Cameron is especially to be congratulated upon the success which has attended his efforts to induce the Committee to accept a number of alterations the wisdom of which cannot be doubted. The provision whereby local authorities will be compelled to appoint Public Analysts, and compelled to put the Acts in force in a proper manner, and the requirement that analysts shall furnish proofs of competence of a satisfactory character to the Local Government Board, will, it cannot be doubted, be productive of good results. The fact that the Local Government Board is to be given joint authority with the Board of Agriculture in insuring that the Acts are enforced is also an amendment of considerable importance, while other amendments upon what may perhaps be regarded as secondary points unquestionably trend in the right direction. It is, however, a matter for regret that the Government have not seen their way to introduce a decisive provision with regard to the use of preservatives, or to accept an effective amendment on this point. Under existing circumstances it should be plain that the right course to follow in regard to preservatives is to insist on full and adequate disclosure of their presence and of the amounts in which they are present. It is also a matter for regret that the Government have declined to give effect to the recommendation of the Food Products Committee as to the formation of an independent and representative Court of Reference. It is true that the Board of Agriculture are to make regulations in reference to standards, after consultation with experts or such inquiry as they think fit, and that such inquiries as the Board may make will be in the nature of consultations of some kind with a committee to be appointed by the Board. There is little doubt, however, that such a committee would probably be controlled by the Somerset House Department; and as we have already pointed out, however conscientious the personnel of this Department may be—and its conscientiousness cannot be doubted—it is not desirable in the public interest that any single purely analytical institution should exercise a controlling influence in the administration of the Acts. What is required is a Court of Reference which shall be so constituted as to command the confidence of the traders who are affected by the law as well as of all those who are concerned in its application. Further comment upon the proposed legislation must be reserved until the amended Bill is laid before the House.
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