HC Deb 30 April 1914 vol 61 cc1856-8
55. Mr. HUNT

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the report for the year 1913, issued by Mr. Millman, superintendent of Smithfield Market, to the effect that of the 432,111 tons of meat which passed through the market only 99,148 tons were produced in this country; whether it is therein also stated that the shortage of British-bred pork was more than counter-balanced by very heavy sup plies from Holland; whether the shortage referred to was in part due to the slaughterings undertaken with the object of eradicating swine fever and other diseases; and what steps were taken to see that the supply from Holland had been subjected to a similar process of elimination?


The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. The third part is a matter for the Board of Agriculture. As regards the last part of the question, pork coming from Holland is subject to inspection at the place of slaughter in Holland, and also at the port of arrival in this country, under the Foreign Meat Regulations issued by the Local Government Board.

56. Mr. HUNT

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether, in view of the fact that consignments of meat subsequently found to be diseased have been imported into this country bearing the certificates of foreign Governments, to the effect that they have been examined and found to be fit for human food, he will consider the advisability of insisting that all foreign and Colonial firms desiring to send meat into the United Kingdom shall admit to their works a British inspector responsible to the British Government, whose certificate shall be necessary to such inspection?


I am afraid it would be impracticable to carry out the hon. Member's suggestion.


Is it not most unfair to British farmers that their produce should be subjected to this severe examination and that outsiders should be let off altogether?


The system of certificates does not exempt foreign meat from inspection on arrival at the ports of this country except in the case of broken meat packed in boxes.


Is there the slightest evidence that diseased meat has been packed by Australian shippers and sent to this country, as suggested by the hon. Member?


I regret to say that there has recently been a case in which meat coming from Australia has been found to be diseased.

57. Mr. HUNT

asked the number of meat inspectors employed by the Port of London Authority; what was the total quantity of meat which passed through that port during the year 1913; and whether it was part of the duty of the Port of London Sanitary Authority to see that all the meat was carefully examined?


Including the medical officer of health and his assistants, there are 19 officers engaged in the work of food inspection in the Port of London Sanitary District. During the year 1913, 8,718,365 cwts. of meat (excluding poultry and game) were imported into London. The inspection of imported meat devolves upon officers of the Port Sanitary Authority, working in conjunction with the officers of Customs.


Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that number of inspectors is enough to inspect properly such an enormous quantity of meat? Is it not perfectly absurd to suppose that the meat can be inspected, and, as it is not inspected at the other end, it is not inspected at all?


It is not correct to say that it is not inspected at the other end at all. It is occasionally inspected at the other end, but it is not so thorough as might be desired. I have received no complaint as to the inadequacy of the inspectors. The responsibility for the inspection does not lie with the Local Government Board, but with the local authority. I will, however, inquire, if the hon. Member desires it, as to the adequacy of the inspectors.