HC Deb 30 August 1880 vol 256 cc638-40

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that during the month of July last the Fishmongers' Company ordered the destruction of more than ninety tons of fish as being unfit for human food; that this loss was mainly due to the utter inadequacy of the fish market accommodation in London; whether he is aware that such inadequacy arises from the fact that no new market can be established within seven miles of the City of London without the consent of the Corporation of London, and that the Corporation claim to prevent, and have repeatedly prevented, such establishment; and, whether, having regard to the fact that this claim is founded upon charters granted at a time when the limits of the Metropolis were coterminous with the City, the Government are prepared to advise the cancellation of such charters and to support any measure introduced by the Metropolitan Board of Works, or other responsible authority or persons, for the establishment in London of markets for the people?


Of the condemned fish mentioned by the hon. Member, 75 tons came by land carriage, which fish is much more liable to be spoiled than that brought by sea. The remaining 18 tons were brought to market by water carriage, and of this quantity 12 tons were taken from a vessel which had lost her ice. It is stated that the bad condition of the fish was in no way due to the inadequacy of accommodation in Billingsgate Market —which, I am informed by the Corporation of the City of London, would suffice for double the quantity of fish now coming into London for wholesale purposes—but simply to the heat of the weather and to the large catch of fish which occurs in the month of July, and which, not finding a ready market, soon becomes stale and unfit for food. On the other hand, it appears to me to be quite possible that greater facilities of market might enable a greater sale, and an earlier and readier distribution of the fish. Increased quantities of fish are now being brought to Billingsgate by sea, and a large class of specially-built steam vessels has been, and is in the course of being, constructed for the purposes of this trade. As regards the chartered rights of the Corporation, which have been, in certain respects, expressly confirmed by the Metropolitan Market Act, 1857, the Corporation maintain that they have not been exercised prejudicially to the inhabitants of the Metropolis; and they deny that they desire to prevent the establishment of new markets when really required. The Secretary of State will, of course, be glad to consider well-founded representations on the subject. The question will certainly arise when the Bill of the hon. Member himself, which has been before the House this Session, comes to be seriously discussed.