HC Deb 22 March 1917 vol 91 cc2029-30

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware that, since the Board resolved on the request of certain salesmen in Smithfield Market to withhold or largely withhold the marketing of Government imported sheep and lambs, a large consignment of River Plate sheep and lambs arrived from the Anglo-South American Export Company of Zarate; whether these were imported by the firm of W. Weddel and Company, Limited, of which Mr. Gordon Campbell is a director; whether, in view of previous admissions by the Government that Mr. Gordon Campbell was both employed and consulted by them, it was upon his advice as well as that of the salesmen that the Government marketings were reduced; (2) whether a deputation of Smithfield salesmen waited on the officials of the Board and requested them to withhold the Government-controlled supplies of Australasian mutton and lamb; whether, in view of the charges of meat gambling and market rigging now definitely made by responsible persons connected with Smithfield Market and the riverside cold stores, he will state the names of the persons composing the deputation; and (3) whether he is aware that the reason advanced by the deputation of Smithfield salesmen who requested him to withhold the 700,000 sheep and 900,000 lambs recently arrived from the Antipodes was that they would make English and Scotch sheep cheaper to the public; whether advantage was taken of this withholding by the firm of W. Weddel and Company, Limited, to introduce a large supply of River Plate meat of a character not hitherto imported into this country and in no sense affected by the Government arrangements with other South American companies for Army meat supplies; and why, if it was necessary or considered advisable to withhold the Government supplies, steps were not also taken to prevent the fresh importations of Weddel and Company, Limited, from being placed on the market?


The Board of Trade periodically consult their selling agents and the market salesmen as to the state of the meat market and the position of British and imported trade as well as Government meat. From the information so obtained and that solely in their own possession the Board came to a decision as to the best course to be taken from time to time, and there was nothing exceptional about the occasion to which my hon. Friend refers. The Board are satisfied that the advice given to them by those best acquainted with the market is given honestly and without regard to any private interest, and they strongly deprecate the unfounded suggestions on which the questions are based.