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IMPERIAL PARLIAMENT. HOUSE OF LORDS.—MARCH 6. The Telegraph (Channel Islands) Bill passed through Committee. HOUSE OF COMMONS. The Attorney-General for Ireland introduced a bill to amend the law respecting promissory notes given to charitable loan societies in Ireland. THE TELEPHONE SERVICE. In Committee of Ways and Means, Mr. Hanbury moved a resolution on which to found a bill for the improvement of telephonic communication. He explained in the first place that the measure would facilitate the extension of telephone exchanges by the Post Office. He, claimed that the Department had a perfect right to undertake the task of developing telephonic communication in rivalry with the National Telephone Company. It was the object of the Department to popularise this system of communica- tion which was so vital to the trading and com- mercial interests of the countrv. At the same time the Department wish to deal as fairly as possible with the company. But the service supplied by the company was, he maintained, neither efficient nor sufficient, and it was limited practically to rich sub- scribers. It was not right that so important a medium of communication should be limited in that way. Under the bill E2,000,600 would be placed at the disposal of the Post Office for the development of communication, and London would be the first place where action would be taken. The operations of the Department would be extended to smaller municipalities subsequently. London was dealt with first because the area of the London exchange was enormous and because the number of its public wires was so large. With private wires the Post Office had no concern. Answering the question whether the Post Office was fitted to undertake work of this kind, he reminded the Committee that the Department had possession of the trunk wires, and that the Post Office exchanges had earned a considerable profit. It was not proposed to establish a mere sub- scription system like that of the Telephone Com- pany. The system in Switzerland would be copied and a small subscription of about £3 a year would be demanded, and then small fees or tolls would be paid as for telegrams. He believed that the Department would attract subscribers from classes which at present made no use of the telephone. Arrangements would be made to utilise the ex- press messenger system in connection with tele- phone exchanges, and thus anybody, whether a subscriber or not, would be able to take advantage of the system. It was also intended to give certain large municipalities power to establish telephone systems, the necessary funds coming from the borough rates. A competing municipality would not have the right to refuse the National Telephone Company way-leaves which it took itself. As much as was useful of the plant laid down by municipali- ties would be purchased by the Post Office at the end of 1911, and corresponding treatment would be meted out to the Telephone Company. Sir J. Fergusson defended the National Telephone Company against the charges which were brought against it and justified its policy, contending that it had done nothing to deserve punishment. He re- gretted, therefore, that it was proposed to treat the company with hostility. Sir C. Cameron congratulated the Secretary to the Treasury upon his statesmanlike scheme, and Mr. Boscawen, Mr. Provand, and other members also expressed their approval. Sir J. Lubbock doubted whether the telephone system would be more efficient under the Post Office, and regretted that the Government were ready to encourage municipalities to engage in business. He feared that the results of the scheme might be to check the development of the telephone and to increase local indebtedness. Mr. Begg thought the proposals of the Govern- ment were rash and likely to prove costly, and advo- cated a system of complete State control over the telephones. Some other members having spoken, The resolution was agreed to. I FOOD AND DRUGS BILL. Mr. Long, in moving the second reading of the Sale of Food and Drugs Bill, said that the measure was based upon the report of the Committee who in- quired into the subject in 1896. That inquiry showed that an improved system of administering the exist- ing law was desirable, amendment of the law not being so necessary. Having assured the House that the demand for this legislation had not come princi- pally from the agricultural community, he stated that the wish of the Government was to strengthen the law. It was proposed that samples should be taken of certain imported dairy products at the port of entry for the purpose of detecting adultera- tion. With regard to home products, the Agricul- tural Department asked for power to stimulate local authorities to carry out the existing law. Where local authorities remained supine the Department ought to be able to act independently, the chief object to be aimed at being the uniform administration of the law throughout the country. The bill contained pro- visions for the purpose of preventing the sale of margarine as butter; but it was not intended to interfere with the production and sale of that important article of food. The suggestion that the colouring of margarine should be prohibited could not be entertained. The clauses of the bill having reference to the general law affecting food and drugs were based on the recommendations of the committee, and embodied the most valuable of their proposals. Mr. Lough, disliking the bill because he regarded it as a protective measure introduced in the interests of the agricultural community, moved that it be read a second time that day six months. The view that the measure would restrict the supply of certain useful foods was endorsed by Sir C. Cameron. Sir M. Stewart. approvtd the bill generally, but regretted that under it harder measure would be meted out. to the home manufacturer and producer than to the foreigner. Mr. Strachey commented on the fact that the measure contained no definite pro- visions dealing with the practice of colouring certain foods, and Mr. Heywood Johnstone thanked the Government for introducing the bill, in which there were several most salutary clauses. Sir W. Foster thought this legislation rather dis- appointing. because its promoters had passed over some very important recommendations of the Select Committee. He advocated the constitution of a Court of reference charged with the duty of fixing the stan- dards to which different foods ought to conform. Mr. Llewellvn maintained that when butter was coloured artificially or when it contained preserva- tives the circumstance ought to be disclosed to the purchaser; Mr. Kilbride supported the bill in the interests of fair trade as against fraudulent trade, and after Mr. Lowles and Mr. Philipps had made some observations, The debate stood adjourned. The Partridge Shooting (Ireland) Bill was read a third time. I





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