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Ministry Of Food

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 21 July 1954

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Food Standards

47.

asked the Minister of Food when he will be in a position to introduce further orders relating to food standards.

This must depend in the first instance on the findings of the Food Standards Committee as and when it submits reports to me.

Is not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman powerless to do very much unless and until the Food and Drugs Amendment Bill [Lords] becomes law?

No. From time to time the Food Standards Committee submits reports to me. There is one coming forward shortly. Much can be done without the Bill's becoming law.

48.

asked the Minister of Food on what date the Report of the Food Standards Committee about lead contamination will be published.

In view of the very proper public interest in this matter and of the widespread production of iced lollies, which is causing some concern, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expedite action on this Report when he receives it?

Food Prices

49.

asked the Minister of Food the price of the various cuts of beef, lamb and pork on 1st October, 1951, and on the first of each month since that date, until the latest convenient date.

With permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the Statutory Instruments from which this information may be obtained. Under control, some 230 separate maximum retail prices were prescribed for cuts of beef, mutton, lamb, and pork, and a list of monthly prices for all of these would be too long for the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is not the Minister giving that advice because he does not want to reveal the facts, which are all well known, that the prices of these cuts have all gone up since this Government have been in power, directly contrary to the policy the Government announced at the General Election? That is the reason why the old-age pensioners are asking for increased pensions today.

As the hon. Gentleman says he knows the answers, he confirms me in the wisdom of my own.

Following is the list:

  • 1951 Nos. 1313 and 1314.
  • 1952 Nos. 1122 and 1123.
  • 1953 Nos. 1095, 1096; 1409, 1410.
  • 1954 Nos. 631 and 632.

52 and 53.

asked the Minister of Food (1) what representations he has had from the Scottish Housewives League and from English housewives associations asking for the reimposition of price control on butcher meat, butter and tea; and what reply he has sent;

(2) what representations he has had from the Housewives League and associations asking for the reimposition of price control on bacon, eggs, Belfast smoked ham and gammon; and what reply he has sent.

None from the Scottish Housewives League; one recently from the Dundee Women's Labour Party about meat; and two, in 1953, from women's associations referring to the price of eggs. The reply to the first letter referred to the answers my hon. Friend gave to Questions by the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton), the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) on 12th July; the reply to the second pointed out that the price of eggs was falling; and the reply to the third referred to the Government's general policy on food subsidies and removal of controls.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, may I take twice the time in asking my supplementary? May I inform the right hon. and gallant Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] May I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] This noise and laughter amongst hon. Gentlemen opposite indicates vacant minds. May I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman if he is aware that I knew perfectly well that he had had no representations from the Housewives' League—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why ask, then?"]—which stands exposed for what it is? Is he aware that the prices of the items I have mentioned have increased by 50 per cent.? Is not that altogether contrary to his own prognostications? Does he not think, therefore, that they should be controlled again?

As far as I can follow the hon. Lady, I gather that she said that the prices of some of the commodities referred to have gone up by 50 per cent. That is not true of meat. It certainly is not true of eggs, because they are at lower prices than when they were under control. It certainly is not true of some classes of bacon. I do not understand what the hon. Lady is saying.

Meat (Inspection)

50.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will place the inspection of all meat under the control of veterinary surgeons as recommended by the recent report, a copy of which has been sent to him, of the committee formed to investigate this matter particularly in view of the fact that this is the custom in most other cases in Western Europe.

The inspection of meat and the appointment of the necessary officers are matters within the responsibility of local authorities under the Food and Drugs Act.

In view of the fact that nine-tenths of the cases of food poisoning are traceable to meat, would it not be better to have meat inspection under the control of people trained in the matter, rather than under that of sanitary inspectors who are not?

That is a matter of opinion. The veterinary people naturally think that they are the best at the job. Curiously enough, the sanitary inspection people think they are. On the whole, the best thing to do is to have a compromise and to permit such arrangements as are carried out by the city of Manchester, for instance, where they work side by side with great proficiency.

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that the report was issued without having any proper inspection of slaughterhouses? Is he aware that for the veterinary profession to get this matter into their hands is wrong, and that sanitary inspectors, generally speaking, are trained in the inspection of meat, and that it would be better to leave the work to the sanitary inspectors?

Ministry Of Food (Future)

51.

asked the Minister of Food what representations he has received from the Wholesale Grocers' Association of Scotland concerning the future of his Department; and what reply he has sent.

In May of last year the association sent me a copy of a resolution passed at its annual conference and it has recently written to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about it. The association has been told that its views will be carefully considered along with representations received from other interested parties.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the association deplored any prospect of his Ministry's being transferred to some other Ministry. Has he given any assurance that it will not?

I have nothing to add to what the Prime Minister said in reply to a similar Question. The association also referred to another matter. It welcomed in the most wholehearted way the end of control and rationing.