asked the Minister of Food if he will give an assurance that the arrangements for slaughtering fat stock in Norfolk are now adequate to prevent the holding back of fat animals, particularly bacon pigs, on the farms in the event of serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease; and what steps he has taken to avoid a repetition of the serious hold-up which occurred in November last.
We are as anxious as the producers that delays should be reduced to a minimum and all possible emergency arrangements are made to increase slaughtering capacity in an infected area. But when normal movements of fat stock are interrupted, some delay may be inevitable.
Will the Minister bear in mind the great dislocation that is taking place in the whole of the pig industry in East Anglia because of the few bacon factories in that area, and as we hope to increase the number of pigs there will he try and improve the existing slaughterhouse facilities, some of which are extremely primitive, and will he include in his review the possibility of authorising the building of another bacon factory there?
My hon. Friend knows that the question of a bacon factory in East Anglia is under review at the moment. On the question of slaughterhouses, whilst some are being built at the moment, I am sure my hon. Friend will realise that in the case of a county like Norfolk, a great deal of slaughtering is done outside the county, in the Midlands, and when there are emergencies of this character it is almost impossible to deal with them adequately and completely. If that were to be done we should have to build more slaughterhouses in the country than we could possibly maintain. I might add that I fully appreciate all the considerations in this matter.