asked the Minister of Food whether he will give the details of the agreement reached between him and the Australian Government for supplies of meat to this country on a long-term basis.
As already announced, the details of this agreement are now being worked out, but I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the joint Statement issued by Mr. Chifley and myself on 27th April, and will place a copy in the Library.
Is it not a fact that if we had had this or a similar agreement in the past, and a proper Empire food policy, our housewives would not today be in their present position? Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance to the House that he will by bulk purchase and similar agreements, buy as much meat and other food from the British Commonwealth and Empire, both in the short-term and long-term, as he possibly can?
In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, if this arrangement or a similar one had been entered into 15 years ago it would now be bearing fruit. I wish it had. The reply to the second part of the question is, "Yes, Sir."
Could not the right hon. Gentleman have found a simple way out by buying feedingstuffs last year?
The right hon. Gentleman knows, because I have already given him the figures, that we did buy five times the amount of feedingstuffs last year that we did in 1945.
Will the right hon. Gentleman publish the documents in the OFFICIAL REPORT SO that we may have them permanently recorded, instead of merely putting them in the Library?
The Report of the joint Statement between myself and the Prime Minister of Australia?
Yes, Sir, certainly.
Does this 15 years' agreement that the Minister contemplates, mean, that meat rationing is to continue for 15 years in this country?
No, Sir. The purpose of these agreements is to increase the supply of meat by giving Commonwealth producers an assurance of a market in this country that they have never had before.
With whom was the right hon. Gentleman associated 15 years ago?
I think the best thing I can say to that is, that I am very glad that I was not associated with the persons responsible for His Majesty's Government at that time.Following is the Statement: