HC Deb 05 August 1889 vol 339 cc324-5

I beg to ask the Vice Chamberlain whether the increased imports of mutton into this country since the stoppage of the German sheep are much greater than any loss due to the discontinuance of live sheep from that country; whether it is a fact that, while 176,000 fewer sheep have been landed in England in the first six months of 1889 than in those of 1888, the receipts of fresh mutton have been greater by 135,000 cwt. or, roughly, the equivalent in mutton of 270,000 sheep; and, whether, considering that the entire import of cattle from Schleswig-Holstein has ranged from 8,000 to 15,000 head annually, any loss to our meat supplies from the non-importation of cattle from that country this summer is far more than made up by the fact that the live imports of cattle generally in the first half of 1889 have exceeded those of 1888 by over 50,000 head?

MR. BEAUFOY (Lambeth, Kennington)

I wish also to ask whether, taking into consideration the hardship inflicted on the working classes in London by the present high price of meat, especially of mutton and lamb, he will consider the desirability of removing the present restriction on the importation of cattle and sheep from the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein?


Since the discontinuance of the imports of live sheep from Germany it is true that the receipts of fresh mutton have largely increased. It is also the case that though sheep "on the hoof" from Germany have been and are prohibited, the imports of fresh mutton from that country have been largely augmented, so that nearly an equivalent of live sheep has been received as fresh mutton. The receipts of live sheep into the United Kingdom from all foreign countries were in the six months ended June 30, 1889, 174,975 less than in the corresponding period of last year and 234,871 less than in 1887. On the other hand, the imports of fresh mutton were in the same periods 135,034 cwt. in excess of 1888 and 265,346 cwt. over 1887. The receipts of cattle from all foreign countries and British possessions were in the six months of 1889 233,442, as compared with 181,317 in 1888, and 132,585 in 1887; while of fresh beef the quantity was 622,370 cwt. in the six months of this year, against 409,358 cwt. in 1888 and but 337,556 cwt. in 1887. The present high prices of mutton and lamb are due to the better state of trade generally, and consequent greater spending power of the consuming classes, and not to any diminished receipt of foreign meat, since the figures given show that the receipts of meat of foreign origin have been far in excess of those in previous years. According to the latest Returns received from the German Government, foot-and-mouth disease existed in Schleswig-Holstein up to July 16.