HC Deb 01 July 1915 vol 72 cc1911-3

asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) how many inspectors of all classes, male and female, the Department has at work throughout Ireland; whether they have been required to report specially on the places, nature, and extent of resources for increased food production; and how he accounts for the fact that only one-eighth of the arable land of Ireland is tilled now, less than when the Department was established, while Denmark, our competitor in agricultural products, tills three-fourths of its arable land and is prosperous?


The Department have upon their staff ten agricultural inspectors. Such of these officers as are specially connected with the work of food production frequently report to the Department upon the subject, at office conferences, and in other ways. The relative position of Danish and Irish agriculture is, obviously, too large a subject to be discussed within the limits of a reply to a Parliamentary question.

16. Mr. W. THORNE

asked whether he is aware that on 31st May last the price of Australian sheep, T T T brand, was 4s. 2d. per 8-pound stone; whether the Government's agent selling this brand on Smithfield refused offers of less than this amount; whether on the same date the firm of Parker and Fraser, of Smithfield, were offering T T T brand sheep at 4s. per stone, and effected several sales on this basis; whether this firm were extensive speculators who had bought heavily off the agent now acting on the Government's behalf; and whether, 4s. per stone being the market value of these sheep on this day, he can explain why the agent refused to accept less than 4s. 2d.?


On 31st May the first parcel of mutton of the T T T brand was sold on behalf of the Government. It was a small parcel of 100 carcasses, and was sold at 4s. 3d. per stone, which was the price offered for it. I have no information as to the transactions of Messrs. Parker and Fraser, referred to by my hon. Friend.

17. Mr. W. THORNE

asked whether the commission allowed by the Government to the agents who sell their meat on Smithfield Market is 2 per cent.; whether the bulk of such meat is sold ex store and the principal work of the agent consists in making out a store transfer in the interest of the buyer; whether, before the commandeering of supplies, it was customary to allow only 1 per cent. on this kind of transaction; and whether he will explain why the rate of commission has been doubled at a time when the public are being advised to eat less meat?


The rates paid to the agents referred to in the question are 1 per cent. on sales ex ship and 2 per cent. on other sales, as compared with 2 per cent. all round, which was the usual rate formerly paid. The duties of the agents are more extensive than is suggested in the question, as they include the work of accounting.

18. Mr. THORNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has noted that the beef recently imported from Southern Brazil, though damaged in transit, mainly consisted of good average serviceable quarters, though somewhat badly butchered; whether the owners of the works are prepared to load this beef f.o.b. at 4½d. per lb., and less if the Government will supply refrigerated space; whether he will open negotiations with the owners in question; and, with a view to being ready for business in the event of negotiations being successful, will he see what arrangements can be made for discharging frozen meat cargoes in ports not so congested as London, and, if cold storage be not available in such ports, arrange for a supply of refrigerator trucks to convey the goods to places where such storage is available?


As my hon. Friend has already been informed, my right hon. Friend is waiting to learn the results of certain sample shipments of meat from Brazil, which will be made in July and August. Until then he is not prepared to enter into negotiations as suggested. The suggestion in the last part of the question will be borne in mind.

33. Mr. THORNE

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether, in view of the necessity for conserving the meat supply of the country and the steps that are now being officially taken for the prevention of the slaughter of young animals, he proposes that the production of calf vaccine lymph shall be discontinued by his Department?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers this question, may I ask him whether he is aware that a very abnormal number of calves are being reared which is menacing the food supply—they are taking food which can be used for fattening—and whether, therefore, he will not yield to the hon. Member's request?


The question of my hon. Friend has nothing to do with my Department; it concerns the Board of Agriculture. My answer to the question on the Paper is No. I do not propose to take any course of the kind.


Is it not a fact that calves used for the production of vaccine lymph are subsequently employed for human food?


The calves which are employed and used for this purpose are slaughtered after they have been used, and if after veterinary, examination they are found to be absolutely wholesome they are used, but in no other case.

40. Mr. THORNE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of the necessity of conserving the meat supply of the country and the steps that are now being taken by his Department for the prevention of the slaughter of young animals, he is prepared to issue an instruction to the manufacturers of vaccine lymph in this country that the use of calves for that purpose must be discontinued?


The Board are not disposed to use their powers under the Slaughter of Animals Act to interfere with the necessary operations for the preparation of vaccine lymph.