HC Deb 02 February 1900 vol 78 cc434-6
GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether the fresh meat supplied for the use of the Royal Artillery and other troops taking passage on the s.s. "American," which sailed from Southampton for South Africa on the 20th January, was found unfit for issue, and was consequently condemned by the officer superintending the embarka- tion; if so, what meat was supplied in its place for the use of the troops; and whether the troops were provisioned by the War Office or under contract with the shipowners; and, if the former, whether he would publish in the public interest the name of the contractor supplying this meat to the War Office, in order that all public departments should know of this attempt to palm off unfit meat on our soldiers, and so should be warned from any dealings with such a firm.

MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, N.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether Colonel Stacpole was compelled to reject and condemn the whole of the meat supplied under contract to the "American," which embarked two batteries of artillery and other troops at Southampton on 20th January last; who were the contractors who supplied this meat, and have they been punished with the utmost rigour of the law; and who was responsible for allowing this meat to be shipped.


Arrangements were made with the owners of the "American," the West Indian and Pacific Steamship Company (Limited), to victual the troops at the rate of 1s. per head per day. A portion of the troops embarked at Southampton, and it has been reported that the fresh meat in question, on being put on board at Southampton, was at once rejected by the embarking officers at the usual inspection of provisions, on the ground that it consisted entirely of "bull" and old "cow" beef. The day being Sunday, a fresh supply could not be obtained at that port, but in accordance with telegraphic instructions, it was replaced at Queenstown (where the remainder of the troops embarked) by meat of good quality ordered by the owners' agents at their expense. The owners state that the meat was purchased from a firm who, they are informed, have supplied a large number of transports and two important trans-oceanic passenger lines. The full market price was paid for it, a guarantee having been given that it would give satisfaction. The contractors state that some of it had been served in the saloon and also to the troops before it was condemned without a word of complaint, and that after the meat was re- turned it was inspected by the town doctor, who certified it perfectly sound, it being afterwards disposed of to his family and hotel customers. The directors of the steamship company gave instructions that in the victualling of all transports it was to be done with unstinted liberality and regardless of cost.


Was the meat home-grown or foreign?


The contractors who supplied it are not contractors to the Admiralty, neither are they contractors to the War Office, and I have therefore no knowledge.


Was there an inspection of the meat in the first instance?


Yes, I am informed by the directors that it was inspected by their storekeeper and cook, both of whom are practical men.

MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

Cannot that gentleman find out whether it was home-grown or foreign meat?

[No answer was given.]