HC Deb 13 February 1902 vol 102 cc1238-9
MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the Cold Storage Company, Limited, have obtained during the war any cattle captured by British troops in South Africa, and from such cattle provided meat for the troops; if so, will he state what price was paid, if any, for such cattle, and how many head of cattle were obtained or purchased, what price was paid by the Government to the Cold Storage Company, Limited, for the meat obtained from the captured cattle, and what was the quantity.


The military authorities in South Africa made a contract with the Cold Storage Company in February last by which live stock which was captured was handed over to the Company, who provided drivers and butchers for dealing with it. In cases in which the Company was required to keep the cattle till demanded, they paid at the rate of 8d. per lb. of dead meat issued, and if slaughtered promptly 9d. The Government paid 10d. per lb. for all meat as required, the difference covering the cost of slaughtering and driving, and keeping when required. Captured cattle have been, and are still being, handed over on these terms. The contract comes to an end on 31st March. I cannot undertake to obtain the quantity as it would involve immense clerical labour. It should be remembered in connection with the profits made by the Cold Storage Company that their operations were not confined to dealings with the Government, and that a large portion of their business was in frozen meat.


Is it not a fact that in many instances the captured cattle were actually butchered by the troops, and that, therefore, the Cold Storage Company did not tender any service at all in connection with the supply?


No, Sir. That is all the information I have.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if any of the cattle captured by His Majesty's troops in South Africa have been sold, either by auction or by private tender; and if any of these cattle have been bought by the Cold Storage Company, and subsequently delivered as fresh meat under the terms of their contract; if so, will he give instructions that captured cattle shall in future not be sold, but be utilised to reduce the quantities required from the contractor.


I am not aware whether any cattle captured in South Africa have been sold by auction or private tender, but in the contract just made, captured cattle are reserved, and will be utilised wherever possible to reduce the quantities required of the contractor.