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Livestock (Grading)

Volume 465: debated on Monday 23 May 1949

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5.

asked the Minister of Food, in view of the report of the Auditor General revealing over £2 million loss resulting from faulty grading of animals for slaughter and of further losses still unknown, what steps he is taking to end this inefficiency and waste of taxpayers' money; and what disciplinary action he proposes to take against the officials concerned.

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General to which the hon. Member refers relates to the trading accounts of the Ministry for the financial year 1947–48 and an indication is given in that report of the causes of the loss in that year. The report mentioned as one unusual factor in 1947–48 the exceptional condition of the animals following the severe winter of 1946–47 and the subsequent drought. £890,000 of the £2 million was in respect of carcases condemned for reasons that could not be detected at the point of grading: this is quite usual and is allowed for in the prices that are fixed for fatstock. The total loss is under 2 per cent. of the amount spent in the period referred to. Continuous efforts are being made to improve the standard of grading, upon which the financial result in part depends. A staff of livestock inspectors constantly supervises the grading work. These inspectors are instructed to concentrate on centres where grading is least satisfactory. Individual graders are relieved of their appointments if inefficiency is proved against them.

Talking of grading, is the Minister aware that in my opinion he is the lowest grade Minister in English history?