HC Deb 05 June 1912 vol 39 cc257-61

Postponed proceeding resumed on Question proposed on consideration of Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £168,374, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1913, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board." [Note.—£115,000 has been voted on account.]

Which Question was, "That Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the President of the Local Government Board."—[Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen.]


I was drawing attention to the fact that the carts for collecting the refuse in London are employed during the day at the time when food and milk are being distributed. Does not the food and milk thus get contaminated? Is it not the fact that these dust carts are a public nuisance, and is it not the fact that in Germany and other countries these refuse carts are not used at the time when food and milk are being taken round? Could not these carts do their work at a time when food is not being distributed? I also put a question to the President of the Local Government Board asking whether his attention had been called to the fact that on 14th March, at the Court of Common Council, the Lord Mayor presiding, it was admitted that the London Meat Market was not under the control of a committee in the City of London, but was under the control of a committee in Chicago, and whether he proposed to take any steps to give us back the control of our greatest meat market in our own country? Is the right hon. Gentleman going to do anything in the matter? I put it to him also that the meat trade in the great market of the greatest city in the Empire should not be governed by a certain number of rich men in a foreign country. The consequence is that, as the right hon. Gentleman will see in a pamphlet issued by the "Westminster Gazette," that the price of meat, especially of beef, is ruled by the American Meat Trust. As a consequence, the price that the farmers get here and the price that the working people have to pay is ruled by a committee of rich men in a foreign country.

The right hon. Gentleman will remember that I have before asked questions on this subject, and have certainly got no satisfactory answer, the right hon. Gentleman apparently not seeing his way to do anything to put a stop to this. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he admitted that he had seen the American statistics of the diseased meat, a great deal of which must come over to this country, obtained from cattle and pigs. Something should be done to prevent our people having the price of their meat ruled by an American syndicate, and also having to eat the diseased meat to which I have referred. The right hon. Gentleman admitted, in answer to a question put by myself, that his experts could not say whether the bacon that came over here from America was obtained from pigs that were suffering from tuberculosis. He will also remember that in one year the statistics showed that over 600.000 pigs suffering from tuberculosis killed in America were turned into food. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but surely they do not want to eat tuberculous pigs even if they come from a foreign country, and it is just the same with cattle when they come here from America. In America an animal may be suffering from a malignant tumour. All they have got to do in America, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it perfectly well, is to cut out the tumour and send the animal over here to be used as foreign food. That cannot be done in this country, and surely if you prevent your own people from eating diseased meat grown at home, you should do the same in regard to diseased meat grown in foreign countries. I hope we shall get some sort of answer from the right hon. Gentleman about this. There is the question of lard, which the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to know very much about. I think we consume 2,000,000lb. of lard in this country, and the condition of imported lard is even worse than the condition of the bacon and the beef. Pigs suffering from disease are admittedly killed in America, and the lard from them is sent over here and used in this country. I should also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman is he going to do anything to prevent the Americans sending us meat preserved with borax. They will not allow that in their own country, where it is a criminal offence. I have only one other point to ask the right hon. Gentleman about, and that is in reference to a matter told me by a priest who has worked a good many years in one of the poorest parts of London. He told me that when a person dies in the poor parts of London it takes so long to get the insurance money that people cannot be buried in reasonable time, and that, naturally, is very bad for the rest of the people living in the house. I venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can see his way to do anything to prevent this happening and to make the insurance people produce the money in reasonable time, so that the dead may be buried in proper time. I believe the right hon. Gentleman is the person to reply to that question.


I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will desire to have a moment or two to reflect before he replies to the very serious indictment which has just been levelled against him from the opposite side of the House, and therefore I will submit to him another point. I wish to refer to the serious muddle and mess in which the census returns have now got. It is now about fourteen months since the census was taken, and would you believe it if you want to get a copy of a Government publication embodying the report of that census for England and Wales, you could not purchase it as a Blue Book. At present there is no published report available. The preliminary report has been out of print for some time, and it will be at least two and probably three months before we get another report. This is really a very serious matter. There are people who want to make use of those figures. There are such persons as statisticians, serious politicians, social reformers like myself, who want to use these statistics, and we are deprived of our means of livelihood for some months because the President of the Local Government Board made a very bad calculation. The result is that for something like three or four months, after spending £200,000 on a census, we are now deprived of any of the results whatever, and when we do get them they will be entirely stale. I want the right hon. Gentleman in his reply to promise that we shall have the census returns speedily, and that we shall not on any future occasion have this matter so muddled.


I am so anxious to extract my hon. Friend from the difficulty in which the delay in the issue of the Census Returns has placed him that if the temporary loan of my own copy will help him out of his difficulty, I shall be only too pleased to lend it to him. It is the fact that the preliminary Census, which was taken in the shortest time on record, was so popular because it was so well done that it is out of print, and the Stationery Office and the Registrar-General thought that as the complete Census would be delivered to the public not later than mid-July, it was inadvisable to incur further expense by reprinting the preliminary Census when it would be embodied in the full Census, which would appear five or six weeks hence. I can assure the hon. Member he is the only Member in the House who has complained of what he has described, with great exaggeration, as the muddle and mess of the Census. The only difficulty we have is that the preliminary Census was so well done and was so expeditiously produced that there was such a demand for it that it went out of print. Instead of that being adverse to the Registrar-General, I think the Registrar-General regards it as a great compliment to the way in which he has done his work.


I do not know whether it was by accident or intention that the right hon. Gentleman neglected to reply to the attack made upon him with regard to the attitude of the Local Government Board in reference to the vaccination officers' grievances—

And it being Eleven o'clock, the Chairman left the Chair, to make his report to the House.

Committee to report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Thursday).

Adjourned at Eleven minutes after Eleven o'clock.