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Ministry Of Food

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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Livestock (Slaughtering)

49.

asked the Minister of Food how many cattle, sheep, lambs and pigs were purchased for slaughter in the week ended 17th July.

My Department can provide figures only of animals accepted for guarantee payments. The figures for the week ended 18th July are not yet complete, but the provisional figure of certifications in Great Britain for the week ended 11th July are 36,600 cattle, 148,100 sheep and lambs and 139,000 pigs.

Can the hon. Gentleman say how this compares with the last week of control and purchase by the Ministry?

The appropriate week is the corresponding week last year. There is a very substantial increase over that week.

Cattle (Deficiency Payments)

50.

asked the Minister of Food if he will state, to the latest possible date, the amount which is due for deficiency payments in respect of cattle.

About £119,000 up to 11th July, which is the latest date for which an estimate can be made.

North American Fruits

51.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that continued refusal to restore the traditional imports into this country of North American apples and pears may lead to a readjustment of production which will deprive British consumers of this class of fruit for which, in the past, they have shown appreciation, and which provides an essential addition to the supplies available from home-grown sources; and when he anticipates it will be possible for him to indicate what policy will be followed in the forthcoming winter.

It is hoped that the fears of my hon. and gallant Friend will prove unfounded. Unfortunately there are many competitors for our limited dollar resources and it is not yet possible to anticipate the answer to the last part of the Question.

Is my hon. Friend sympathetic towards the importation of fruits from Canada and the United States if dollars are available? There is a demand in the winter time by the public for such fruits and this will not be detrimental to fruit growing interests in Great Britain?

It is essentially a matter of dollar resources. My hon. and gallant Friend should address his Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that ample supplies of fruit are available not only from internal sources but also from Europe and Commonwealth countries, and that there is no need to waste dollars when we can get the goods elsewhere?

I appreciate the hon. Member's point, but the case for the importation of this fruit is that it arrives in the early months of the year when supplies of dessert fruit are not particularly good.

New Zealand And Danish Butter

52.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement regarding supplies of butter from New Zealand and Denmark.

The long-term contract for the purchase of butter from New Zealand, was originally due to expire on the 31st July, 1955, but will now be terminated, by mutual agreement, on the 31st July, 1954. The Danish contract is not due to expire until September, 1955, but discussions about the final year will take place shortly.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a good deal of criticism in New Zealand because his Department has been making a profit on New Zealand butter? Is not this most unfortunate? Will he do what he can to ensure that it does not affect future supplies?

The termination of the arrangement a year earlier than was originally intended is by mutual agreement between the New Zealand Commission and ourselves.

Is that termination one of the reasons why the Ministry is now buying some ancient butter from the United States?

No, Sir. We have assured the New Zealand Commission that we shall not import butter from other than our normal suppliers except to the extent of the shortfall on New Zealand butter this year, which will be some 20,000 tons below the expected figure.

Slaughterhouses

53.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement about the future use of the Government-built slaughterhouses at Grimsby and Wimborne.

No decision has yet been reached. The question whether they should be purchased by the local authorities is still the subject of negotiation. In the meantime and as a temporary measure the Department is operating these premises as a public service.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary do what he can to expedite a settlement? I am sure he will agree that the sooner a settlement is reached the better.

We are very anxious to reach a settlement, and we hope to know one way or the other in the next few weeks.

54.

asked the Minister of Food when he proposes to publish new model byelaws about slaughterhouses.

Minister Of Supply (Usa Visit)

55.

asked the Minister of Supply if he will make a statement about the scope and outcome of his discussions with United States defence authorities during his recent visit.

56 and 57.

asked the Minister of Supply (1) what information we are supplied with by the United States on their development of guided missiles;

(2) what are the terms of the agreement with the United States of America with regard to guided missiles.

My right hon. Friend proposes to make a statement on this subject later this week and I hope the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman will be willing to await that statement.