HC Deb 03 March 1903 vol 118 cc1235-7
MR. ALFRED DAVIES (Carmarthen Boroughs)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will state whether action is being taken by the Board or the local authorities to prevent butchers selling foreign meat as home grown; if so, will he state the number of convictions and name the punishments in his last official reports; and whether he will consider the advisability of amending the law with a view to more efficient prevention of the substitution of foreign for home grown meat.


Local authorities have no power to institute proceedings in cases where foreign meat is sold as home grown. The Merchandise Marks Act 1894 gave to the Board of Agriculture certain powers of prosecution in offences connected with agricultural or horticultural produce. Full publicity has been given to these powers, and those interested have been invited to bring specific cases under our notice. We have no staff of inspectors to detect such illegal sales, and before a prosecution can take place the consent of the Treasury has to be obtained. In the case of hams and bacon the trade association most concerned has been able to provide the expert evidence necessary to secure convictions, and proceedings have been taken in forty-one cases. Particulars of twenty of these cases appear in our Report for the year 1900, whilst the forth coming Report for 1902 will contain those of the remaining twenty-one. In the case of fresh meat no specific complaints have reached us upon which a prosecution could possibly be based. I gather, however, from admissions made to me by members of some recent deputations that the meat of foreign animals, slaughtered at Deptford and other wharves within ten days or less of their arrival in this country, is often sold under the ambiguous description of home killed or even home grown meat—and I am now having inquiries made as to the extent of this practice. If it is at all general I think some more accurate definition of such terms may have to be provided by Statute.


I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will endeavour to alter the law in order to bring—


That question has already been answered.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

Can the right hon. Gentleman see his way to remove the obstruction to a prosecution.


I do not think that there has been any obstruction from the Treasury on that point.


I should like to know whether, if I bring in a Bill of which the right hon. Gentleman approves, he will give me facilities for passing it?


I should like to see the Bill first.