§ MR. SMEATON (Stirlingshire)
On behalf of the hon. Member for Sutherland, I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been called to the annual Report of the Central Markets Committee of the Corporation of the City of London, wherein it is shown that out of a total weight of produce passing through the markets in 1907, of which 89.3 per cent. was meat, only 20.5 per cent., as against 38.8 per cent. in 1902, was the produce of the United Kingdom, and the number of native cattle brought into the markets was 29.074 less in 1907 than in 1902; and whether he will take any steps to encourage British farmers to breed more animals for meat and prevent the supply of meat to the greatest market in the United Kingdom falling under the control of foreign, mostly North and South American, houses.
I beg also to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been called to the annual Report of the Central Markets Committee of the Corporation of the City of London, in which it is stated that the supplies arriving at Smithfield Market raised and produced in the United Kingdom continue to diminish, and that the daily demands of the 6,000,000 consumers in greater London are supplied by oversea competitors to the extent of 4 out of every 5 tons of produce passing through the Central Markets; and whether he will take any steps to remedy this state of the food supplies of London.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY
Our attention has been called to the Report to which the hon. Member refers. The figures given for the years 1902 and 1907 are not really comparable, and as a matter of fact the number of cattle in the United Kingdom in 1907 was greater by 251,597 than in 1902. The total supplies at Smithfield Market in 1907 were 4,870 tons less than in 1906. British and foreign produce decreased in about equal proportions, oversea supplies being in each year nearly 80 per cent. of the total. The Board are most anxious to do all that they can to encourage stock-breeding in 936 this country and any practical suggestions in that direction will always be considered with sympathy.