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Food Supplies

Volume 480: debated on Wednesday 8 November 1950

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Meat (Grading)

58.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will allow butchers to grade their meat as they did before the war, so that different prices may be charged according to quality.

As long as it is necessary to maintain price control of meat it will not be possible to allow butchers freedom to fix their own grades and prices.

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it would be for the convenience of the public and of the butchers if meat were graded according to origin? For instance, more would be charged for Canterbury lamb than for the less attractive Argentinian variety. Similarly we should pay more for the best Scottish beef than for the very old English cow that we usually eat on Sunday.

At the moment we are considering with the trade, revision of the present prices. It is the subject of discussion at the present time.

Could my hon. Friend say whether the butchers will now fix the proper tickets on their counters, to show the gradings?

My hon. Friend has probably seen in the Press that some progress has been made in this matter.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the instructions to grading panels are adequate, in view of the fact that in Birmingham it is suggested that there is a good deal of meat graded "A" and "B" which is only fit for manufacturing purposes? Will he look at the grading instructions?

If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of what he has in mind, I will certainly look into them.

Sausages

59.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will make additional supplies of pork meat available to butchers for the better quality sausages which he has now authorised.

I am sorry that no extra supplies of manufacturing pork can be made available at present. The position will, however, improve with the steady increase in the number of pigs reared in this country.

Is it not a fact that the only effect of the Minister's concession is that there is less sausage of both sorts available in the shops for the British housewife? Does he regard that position as a satisfactory outcome of his new policy?

If the meat content of sausage increases while the amount of meat remains the same, the number of sausages will decrease. I have already explained that the steadily increasing output of home-produced pork means that the number of sausages will increase in time.

Is it the intention of this utility-minded Government to force utility sausages on the British people?

Christmas Bonuses

60.

asked the Minister of Food in view of the anticipated shortage of supplies of imported turkeys, for reasons over which the trade has no control, what the prospects are of a bonus issue of meat and bacon at Christmas.

63.

asked the Minister of Food if, in view of the fact that adequate stocks are at present held by the trade, he will increase the consumer ration of chocolate and sugar confectionery during the next two ration periods and so enable those who wish to do so to purchase now the extras they require at Christmas time.

As my right hon. Friend said on Monday, 6th November, he hopes to make a statement about Christmas bonuses in the near future.

When the Minister makes his statement will he bear in mind that such traditional sources of small turkeys as Italy, Hungary and Yugoslavia will, as a matter of Government policy, not be open to purchasers this season?

Explosion, Great Oakley

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can give the House any information about the explosion which occurred yesterday at Bramble Island, near Harwich, Essex.

I regret to have to tell the House that an explosion occurred yesterday in a mixing house in an explosives factory at Bramble Island near Great Oakley resulting in the death of four persons and injury to a number of others. I have instructed one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Explosives to investigate the cause of the accident: the inquiry was opened this morning.

The House will join me in expressing sympathy with the bereaved relatives and in the hope that the injured may speedily be restored.

May I ask the Home Secretary two short questions? First, will the inquiry include a very strict investigation of whether there was sabotage? Second, will he see that the dependants of those who were killed are properly provided for and that those who are injured have sustenance and attention until they get quite well?

With regard to the first part of the supplementary question, it will be the duty of the inspector to endeavour to ascertain the cause of the explosion, and if any individuals are personally responsible it will then be the duty of the appropriate authorities, including the police, to endeavour to find those persons and bring them to account. With regard to the other question, there are, of course, arrangements with regard to industrial injuries and so on which will apply to this accident.