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Meat Marketing (Committee)

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

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15.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now give the name of the chairman and members of the committee of inquiry into the marketing of fatstock; when the committee is expected to meet; and whether he will request it to expedite its report, in view of the urgent need for a thorough reappraisal of the whole system of meat marketing.

20.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has now appointed a chairman for the committee to inquire into meat marketing; how many other members he intends to appoint; and if the committee will report by the end of this year.

25.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now announce the personnel of the committee to investigate meat marketing

Sir Reginald Verdon Smith has agreed to become Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry. I shall make an announcement about the composition of the Committee as soon as I can.

I welcome this reply. May I ask why there has been such a long delay since the debate on agriculture before making the announcement? May we have an assurance that the Committee will report before we have to face another Supplementary Estimate this year for a further £78 million.

I do not accept that it has been a long time. The formation of a Committee of this standard and importance inevitably takes some time.

Can my right hon. Friend tell us what kind of people he proposes to add to the Committee? Are they to be experts or outside business men? Will he keep in mind that this is a most important and urgent problem to which members of the farming community are directing their minds, and that they would like to know what is in the mind of the Minister?

As to the composition of the Committee, it is our view that it should be a small and completely independent Committee.

Is the Minister aware that he should bear in mind what has been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Sir A. Hurd) and that we desire to know what is in the Government's mind? It is all very well to have a Committee, and we should like it to act quickly, but is the Minister aware that the Government must take the initiative at some time?