HC Deb 23 September 1915 vol 74 cc566-8
58. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a battalion of the Royal Field Artillery, under canvas in the Lewes district recently, found themselves, through a breakdown in their day's cooking arrangements, compelled to fall back on a supply of sausages which turned out unfit for food; whether continuous complaints have arisen since the White City case of the condition of food in local camps; whether, in view of the unsatisfactory conditions of Army meat inspection, he will consider the question of reform; whether, at the present moment, the chief veterinary meat inspector of Smithfield Market is employed by the War Office in a remount department on duties which any ordinary veterinary surgeon could perform; and whether he will ask either this gentleman or some competent medical officer of health to re-organise the Army food inspection so as to secure the co-operation in this work of the local sanitary authorities in the districts where military camps are situated?


I have no knowledge of the breakdown referred to, and I can assure the hon. Member that continuous complaints of the condition of food in camps are not being received. On the con- trary, the reports of the special inspectors appointed under the Quartermaster-General in different parts of the country invariably state that the frozen meat provided for the troops is of good quality and show that satisfactoy arrangements have been made for its inspection. There is no intention therefore of altering the present system of inspection. The gentleman referred to in the latter part of the hon. Member's question was an officer in the Territorial Force Army Veterinary Corps, who was called up on mobilisation and until recently did duty with a Territorial unit. He has now been transferred at his own request to the Remount Depot at Woolwich, where he is engaged on most important work, and it is not proposed to move him.

59. Mr. THORNE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether Messrs. Knowles and Wells are still being paid seven and a half guineas a day as meat inspectors to the Army; whether they are paid this sum for six or seven days a week; whether he is aware that neither of these gentlemen possess qualifications which would enable them to be appointed by a London borough council under the Public Health Act, 1891, as food inspectors; whether he is aware that the average salary of a London borough food inspector is about £200 a year; that the food inspectors of the ports of London and Liverpool are paid only from £150 to £300 a year; that the chief veterinary meat inspector of Smith-field Market is paid only £600 a year; and whether he will state the special grounds on which he considers it necessary to pay the above-named two gentlemen at the rate of £2,500 a year?


No change has been made in the scale of remuneration paid to Messrs. Knowles and Wells. The rate of seven and a half guineas is a daily rate paid for days actually worked. I have already explained to the hon. Member, in the answer which I gave to him on the 8th June last, the special nature of the services rendered, and the comparisons which the hon. Member now suggests are wholly misleading.


Would it not be very much better to appoint a permanent man as chief inspector and have sub-inspectors, and to pay the chief man a decent wage instead of paying these men seven and a half guineas a day?


I have already explained the nature of the duties these gentleman have to perform, and I can only repeat we are entirely satisfied with the work they do.