HC Deb 19 February 1918 vol 103 cc612-5
65. Major HUNT

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether a very large quantity of diseased cow-beef has been forwarded to Smithfield Market, London, recently and offered for sale on behalf of the Ministry of Food; whether the animals were mainly suffering from advanced tuberculosis and were in a very wasted condition; whether others revealed signs of pleurisy and in many cases the flesh was in a dropsical condition, very flabby and very shiny; whether, as the offals of these animals must have revealed complete evidence of their diseased condition, he will state what became of them; if condemned at the time of slaughtering, why were not the carcases also examined and condemned; and, if sold to butchers, will he give the names of the principal buyers?


The answer to the first three parts of the question is in the affirmative, but I am not aware whether the carcases were offered for sale on behalf of the Ministry of Food, nor have I any information as to the offals of the animals. From inquiries which I have caused to be made I gather that the animals were slaughtered at Birkenhead, and I am informed that, owing to shortage of staff and the illness of the meat inspector, no proper examination of animals at the time of slaughter was made in Birkenhead during the early part of last month. In respect of the names of those to whom the carcases were sold, we are not in possession of the information, but further inquiries are being made.

67. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether, on the three days on which large seizures of tuberculous and diseased meat, ex Birkenhead, were made on Smithfield Market in the three weeks ending 26th January, the offals of these animals were consigned to a firm in Aldgate Market, but when on examination their condition became apparent they were deposited in that portion of Aldgate Market which is situated without the jurisdiction of the health department of the City of London Corporation and that, while the evidences of the disease were apparent to all, the proprietors defied the officials to seize the goods and conducted the sales within the boundaries of the City of London, actually taking payment in the presence of the officials; whether he will give the names of the firms to whom the offals were sent and indicate to the borough of Stepney the necessity of a keener inspection than that which was exercised?


I have communicated with the local health authorities of Stepney and the City of London, but they have no knowledge of the circumstances mentioned in the question. As to the defiance of the officials alleged in the latter part of the question, the health authorities of Stepney possess no knowledge nor have they any knowledge of offal being sold within the borough. The slaughter-houses of Aldgate and Stepney are visited daily by the meat inspector during killing hours, and the authorities are fully alive to the necessity of constant inspection.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a considerable number of beasts suffering from tuberculosis were condemned at Birkenhead and sent to London?


I hardly know how these particular facts or alleged facts arise out of the question, but if my hon. Friend will put a question down making it a matter for inquiry, I will go into the whole of the points.

72. Major HUNT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether in the employ of his Department there is a person with a German name who was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment twenty years ago at Smith-field Market for the Rotten Row conspiracy, in which the offence consisted of an evasion of the laws to protect the public from tuberculous and other diseased meat; whether he is aware that the same person was, a few years later, ejected from premises in Smithfield for a similar offence; that he then became meat buyer to J. Lyons and Company, and was stated in evidence, in the prosecution of that firm for supplying putrid meat to the troops at the White City, to have been the buyer employed on their behalf; whether this person is in Government employment; and, if not employed at the Ministry of Food, will he cause inquiry to be made in other Departments so as to prevent this person from exercising any control over the national meat or food supplies?


The answer to the first and fourth parts of the question is in the negative; the remainder does not, therefore, arise.

73. Major HUNT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will give the name of the person who supervised the slaughtering of the tuberculous, dropsical, and diseased cattle on behalf of his Department at Birkenhead recently, and forwarded by the officials of his Department to the Central Market, Smithfield, London; whether he is aware that if any individual farmer and butcher had forwarded such goods he would have been sent to gaol without the option of a fine; and whether, in view of his admission that his Department was offered the services of the late chief inspector of meat at Smithfield and considered itself sufficiently well equipped to dispense with such expert assistance, he will exactly explain how it was that tons of this stuff arrived in London which, but for the staff trained by the late chief inspector at Smithfield and maintained in efficiency by the City of London Corporation, would have been distributed in the form of sausage meat and piece-board meat?


I have already pointed out that the Ministry of Food are not directly concerned with the sanitary inspection of meat, although the Food Controller is considering the advisability of exercising a closer control over public and private slaughtering. The slaughtering of cattle is at present supervised by their owners, who in this instance forwarded the meat to Smithfield after the carcases had been passed by the local authority's inspectors at Birkenhead.

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