Since the incident at Westminster Abbey last Christmas, Scottish nationalistic pride, or self‐consciousness, has been widely advertised. In many respects the existence of that attitude of mind does no harm to His Majesty's subjects in England and Wales. But now a genuine grievance against the Scots—which has existed for some years, though few people have been aware of it—has at last received publicity. It arises from the fact that several of the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, do not apply to Scotland—doubtless because the Scots had represented that they would be unacceptable. Among those provisions was Section 101, which incorporated with the Act the whole body of regulations, including those relating to preservatives in food, which had been made in pursuance of the Public Health Acts. Similar Regulations, it is true, do apply in Scotland, but a breach of them is an offence, not under the Act of 1938, but under the Food and Drugs (Adulteration) Act of 1928, which is wholly repealed so far as England and Wales are concerned. Recently the Corporation of Blackburn persuaded the local justices to convict a company, registered and trading in Scotland, of an offence against the Act of 1938 on the ground that boric acid had been found in biscuits manufactured by the company in Scotland and sold to a Blackburn retailer. The Scottish company was not prosecuted by the Blackburn Corporation but was brought in under s. 83(1) by a previous defendant. Counsel for the defence took the points that a Scottish firm cannot be haled before an English Court in respect of an alleged offence which, if it was committed at all (which was disputed), was committed in Scotland, where the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, is not in force. Incidentally it may be observed that the presence of boric acid in the biscuits was due to the use of margarine containing not more than the permitted percentage of the preservative. The magistrates chose to convict the Scottish company as the person to whose act or default a contravention of the provisions of the English Act was due. On appeal to the Divisional Court, the conviction has now been annulled, primarily on the ground that the Blackburn bench had no jurisdiction to hear a summons against the Scottish company. Section 83, like many other sections of the Act of 1938, does not apply to Scotland, except with respect to prosecutions under the Orders made by the Minister of Food under. Defence Regulations—for example, the various Food Standards Orders and the Labelling of Food Order. (See particularly Regulation 7(3) of the Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations, 1943, and Article 15(c) of the Labelling of Food Order, 1946.) Still, if Scotsmen insist on not being subject to the English food laws as a whole, it would be unreasonable for them to expect that those who sell food in England and Wales should be willing to be deprived of the safeguards which the Act of 1938 confers on innocent dealers who have been let down by their suppliers. The Scots may find that English retailers of food will boycott Scottish products. Provided always that nothing in this Article shall be deemed to apply to the sale or purchase for human consumption in England or Wales of the article of food distilled in Scotland and commonly known as Scotch or Scottish Whisky, if the food is so described in an invoice or on a label bearing the name and address of the distiller. The point of which proviso is to show that I am not such a nitwit as to think that anything that I write will deter or discourage any Englishman from acquiring a bottle of Scotch if he knows where and how he can get it.
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