§ MR. A. F. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of The Times' correspondent of 4th March, giving details concerning the preparation and packing of diseased meat at Chicago for export to England; whether he has reason to believe (as stated in The Times) that, although a bullock at Chicago may be condemned as diseased and unfit for food, yet its tongue is preserved and exported, whilst the fat is made into oleo-margarine; whether it is a fact that in many instances the diseased meat which has been condemned is, nevertheless, taken out of the condemned tanks after the inspector has left, and is then preserved and exported to England; and, whether he will endeavour to prevent such meat being used in England as food?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. HERBERT GARDNER, Essex, Saffron Walden)
I have read the statement to which my hon. Friend refers, and I propose to make inquiry through the Foreign Office respecting it, and as to the arrangements in force in the United States for the prevention of the exportation of meat unfit for human food. The prevention of the sale of such meat in this country rests with the sanitary authorities, acting in execution of the powers conferred upon them by the Public Health Act. Those authorities are not in any way subject to the control of the Board of Agriculture, but I shall be very glad to bring under the notice of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board any information which may reach me as to the existence of danger to human health arising from imported food-products.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Donegal, W.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether, previous 536 to the slaughter in Australia and other places of sheep and cattle whose flesh is converted into frozen meat and sent to this Country for human food, they are examined by competent inspectors, with a view to ensure that no animals suffering from disease shall be used for that purpose?
§ MR. HERBERT GARDNER
I am not in possession of any official information on the subject to which my hon. Friend refers, the protection of the public health, which presumably is the object my hon. Friend has in view, not being a matter which falls within the province of the Board of Agriculture. I shall, however, be happy to make enquiry through the Foreign and Colonial Offices as to the arrangements in force in the various countries and colonies from which frozen meat is exported, for the prevention of the exportation of meat unfit for human food, and to acquaint my hon. Friend with the replies received. So far as the health of live stock is concerned, there is no reason to think that any danger attends the importation of frozen meat into the United Kingdom.
§ MR. A. F. JEFFREYS
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he received in April last a copy of the unanimous resolution passed by the Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture, asking him to give effect to the recommendations of the Select Committee, of the House of Lords on the Marking of Foreign Meat; and whether he is now prepared to introduce a Bill carrying out those recommendations for the purpose of registering dealers in foreign and colonial meat, and of inspecting retail butchers' shops under the Food and Drugs Act by duly qualified Inspectors?
§ MR. HERBERT GARDNER
I duly received a copy of the resolution to which the hon. Member refers. Since the Select Committee sat, we have passed the Merchandise Marks (Prosecutions) Act, and until it has been shown that the law as it now stands is insufficient to deal with the evil complained of, I think it would be premature to propose further legislation on the subject. As the hon. Member is aware, I have recently taken steps to make the provisions of the Act of last Session very widely known in agricultural circles.