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Food Supplies

Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 29 November 1950

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Clean Food (By-Laws)


asked the Minister of Food how many local authorities have now adopted the model by-laws relating to cleanliness in the handling, wrapping, and delivery of food; and how many have not yet done so.

Up to 17th November this year, I have confirmed by-laws made by 973 authorities and am expecting shortly to do the same with a further 260. I have no information about the remaining 211 authorities.



asked the Minister of Food if he can now make any announcement in regard to the revocation of the Meat Products and Canned Meat (Control and Maximum Prices) Order, 1948, and the Meat Products and Canned Meat (Amendment) Order, 1949.

The time has not yet come for the complete revocation of this Order. I have, however, already amended it in the case of sausages and I am considering whether further amendments can be made.

Will the Minister bear in mind that those engaged in the trade think that this Order has now outlived its usefulness?

I am well aware of their views on the matter; but our main concern at the moment must be to get the largest supply of cheap, good meat to the largest number of people.


asked the Minister of Food what new legislation he proposes to introduce to give effect to the recommendations in the report of the Working Party appointed by him to consider the production of manufactured meat.

I am indebted to the Working Party for their report; their recommendations are being considered but I am not yet able to say what new legislation I may decide to propose.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this report warns that most of the recent large number of food poisoning cases originated in these products, and is he prepared to take into consideration their recommendations for the registration of places where meat products are manufactured or stored?

I cannot anticipate our decision on this report. It may be that many of the recommendations can be carried out under existing law. Until we have decided our views on the whole field, I would rather not comment on any particular aspect of the report.

Is the Minister aware of the great dissatisfaction in the meat trade at the inclusion of stuff called imported boneless mutton in the issue of meat for manufacturing purposes? Does he appreciate that they think that it is quite unfit for manufacture?



asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction among mothers of children under two years of age, owing to the fact that the priority eggs for these children are often either very stale or bad and therefore unfit to give to the children; and if he will take immediate steps to ensure that the under two's priority eggs are, in fact, English new laid Grade A.

I do not think there is any general dissatisfaction; but if the hon. and gallant Member will let me have particulars of any specific complaint I will make inquiries. My Department allocates only first quality home produced eggs for priority consumers, but the eggs may be marked A, B or C according to size. If we adopted the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion priority consumers would be deprived of any opportunity to buy the smaller—and cheaper—first quality eggs.

Hotels And Restaurants (Meal Charges)


asked the Minister of Food if he is now in the position to make a statement on the effects of lifting the 5s. maximum on meal charges in hotels and restaurants.

Can the Minister say whether there is any sign yet of the popular outcry which was prophesied by the Minister of National Insurance if this maximum were abolished?

The situation remains the same as it was when that question was put to me before by the hon. Gentleman.

Potato And Grain Shipments, Sharpness


asked the Minister of Food how far he proposes to import Irish seed or eating potatoes; and whether he can give an assurance that the port of Sharpness will be used for this trade.

Irish seed potatoes will be imported by private traders. My Department will ship Irish eating potatoes but as we take the surplus from Northern Ireland as well as a quantity from the Irish Republic I cannot now give an estimate of the tonnage. As Bristol is the most economic distribution centre for South-West England it is not proposed to use Sharpness.


asked the Minister of Food the total number of grain ships he has directed to the port of Sharpness between 1st January, 1950, and 1st November, 1950.

Is the Minister aware that this port is becoming a distressed area, because his Department does not use its influence to bring its ships to it? Can he use his influence to give us more ocean-going ships or, at any rate, to abolish the system of bulk purchase?

This is not an easy port for use by certain kinds of vessels. We cannot enter into uneconomical arrangements on that account.

Danish Bacon


asked the Minister of Food what steps are taken to check the quality of Danish bacon on its arrival at British ports; and what percentage has had to be destroyed in the last 12 months.

A sample is taken from each shipment on arrival and inspected by the trade, who report the result to us. A total of 0.036 per cent. of the Danish bacon imported during the past 12 months was found unfit for human consumption. Most of this was processed for industrial uses.

Does the right hon. Gentleman know that only a couple of weeks ago, in my constituency, 10 tons of this commodity had to be dumped, and that the medical officer took the view that it could have been inspected, and the defect discovered, at the port?

I think that this figure is most reassuring. I do not know whether the 10 tons mentioned by the hon. Gentleman are included in the figure which I have given, but on the whole I think it is a very low figure.

Animals (Slaughtering)


asked the Minister of Food how many reports alleging cruelty have been made by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to his Department concerning animals at collecing centres, in transit at lairages or at slaughterhouses during the past 12 months; and how many animals were involved.

The inspectors of the R.S.P.C.A. are in constant touch with my local officers at markets and slaughterhouses to prevent cruelty. I cannot say how much of their work dealt with actual complaints or how many animals are involved. I am quite sure, however, that this local co-operation is successful in reducing the number of cases of cruelty to an extremely small proportion of the total number of animals handled. But I would also like to report that one of my senior officials has discussed with the secretary of the Society the general question of liaison with the R.S.P.C.A. and a clear cut procedure is being devised which should ensure that the existing friendly local co-operation with slaughterhouse and market authorities is maintained and fostered. In the event of any difference of opinion on the spot the Society's inspectors will have access to my area meat and livestock officers (the senior administrative officer in each area) and if the Society still think that all practicable steps have not been taken to meet any complaints their headquarters will take the matter up with my headquarters.

Could not trouble of this kind be avoided if there were adequate facilities for dealing with the increasing number of cattle, pigs and sheep which we are now producing, particularly at the peak period of the year?


asked the Minister of Food how many sheep and lambs have been sent from Yorkshire and Lancashire to Norfolk for slaughter during the past three months; and what was the average time between collection from the farm and slaughter.

During the three months ended 18th November, 2,259 sheep and lambs were sent for slaughter from Yorkshire to Norfolk but none from Lancashire. On average two days elapsed between purchase at the collecting centres and slaughter.

Is not it a waste to send the younger lambs so far before they are slaughtered? Is not there a wastage of weight, and is not this liable to involve cruelty?

So long as we have to maintain the rationing system, I am afraid that circumstances of this kind are unavoidable.