HC Deb 10 May 1895 vol 33 cc906-8
MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is a fact that in Ireland, a meat exporting country, the troops are mainly rationed upon foreign meat; whether he can state the percentage of native and foreign supply; whether the conditions of contract in Dublin have been recently changed, so as to further enable this importation; whether the live stock hitherto supplied has given satisfaction to officers and men; and whether it is upon economical ground that frozen and refrigerated meat is brought into a meat-producing country?


The troops at the Curragh have only meat killed in the camp. Up to the end of this month the same system is applied to the Dublin garrison. In the rest of Ireland the troops may, under the contracts, the conditions of which were fixed in 1890, have 60 per cent. of foreign meat, but the actual quantity supplied cannot be stated. I explained very fully on March 28, in answer to the hon. Gentleman, the changes about to be made as regards the Dublin garrison, and the reasons for those changes. It is not known that the live stock hitherto supplied for Dublin failed to give satisfaction, and the change of system is due entirely to the fact that the abattoir system is no longer necessary.

SIR H. MAXWELL (Wigtonshire)

Would the right hon. Gentleman say why it is impossible to give the proportion of American and home meat supplied to the troops in the rest of Ireland?

MR. R. W. HANBURY (Preston)

I would like to ask upon what definite principle this percentage of home and foreign supply is based.


I have already stated that this percentage was fixed in 1890, and no doubt for a very good reason. I do not know on what principle it was fixed then, but I found it in existence when I came into office. In answer to the hon. Baronet opposite, I imagine that the reason is that although there is a condition laid down that not more than 60 per cent. of foreign meat should be so supplied, so long as that percentage is not approached, no check is kept upon the quantity of that meat. So long as those receiving it are aware that the amount of British meat is greater than might be tendered, they do not keep any check.


How can it be known that the amount of British meat supplied is equal to 40 per cent. of the total unless some returns are kept, and, if they are kept, why should not we be made acquainted with them?


I understand that the deliveries are checked day by day, or at the periods at which they are delivered. So long as they do not exceed the permitted proportion, nothing is said about them. There is thus no record kept of the precise proportion.


When the right hon. Gentleman talks about a percentage, does it apply to beef only? Is there no limit as to mutton?


What I have said is 60 per cent. of foreign meat.


Yes, but that is not so.

SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)

Is there any reason why the Army should not be supplied with meat at a rate as cheap as we can get it?


No doubt that is a sound principle as far as it goes.


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the last part of my question, in which I ask whether it is upon economical grounds that frozen and refrigerated meat is brought into a meat-producing country?


I again say I was not in Office in 1890 when this percentage was fixed. It was, I presume, mainly upon that reason that the system was introduced.


Am I to understand that the contract for frozen meat is cheaper at present than the contract for the supply of Irish meat? What is the saving effected; how much per cent?


I cannot without notice answer matters of detail beyond those referred to in the question on the Paper.

SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somerset, Wellington.)

The answer of the Financial Secretary to me last Tuesday was to the effect that the question of cheapness does not arise, but the question of quality. Did he mean to infer from that that the foreign meat is better than the home meat?


I should be afraid to make any such assertion. I understand that cheapness is the main element in the case.