HC Deb 30 January 1918 vol 101 cc1552-3
Mr. FIELD (by Private Notice)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Food Controller whether his Department has received from the Irish Cattle Traders and Stock Owners' Associations a protest against the establishment of a ring to control the sale of Irish animal imports at Birkenhead lairage; whether he is aware that this committee have proposed an entrance fee of £25 and a yearly subscription of £5, and a guarantee of £100 from members, and, further, have reserved to themselves the power of preventing sales except by members of their body; whether he can state what is the intention of the Food Control Department in this matter?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Owing to the absence of any weighing facilities, the ordinary procedure for grading and weighing live cattle under the Cattle (Sales) Order could not be carried out at Birkenhead. The Ministry of Food has therefore constituted a representative committee of the various interests, with authority to make regulations for the conduct of the Birkenhead market, in order to secure observance of the maximum prices for live cattle and dead meat. An association is also being formed to act as agents for the Ministry of Food, but its constitution and conditions of membership have not yet been formally approved. The matter was discussed at the last meeting of the Central Advisory Committee on Live Stock and Meat Supplies, and it was arranged to receive a deputation of Irish cattle traders and stock owners, in order to arrive at a satisfactory settlement, and to determine what changes may be necessary in the present regulations.


Am I to understand from the hon. Gentleman that the free sale of cattle will be allowed at Birkenhead Lairage and that the matter will not he put into the hands of a commercial ring?


I think my hon. Friend may conclude that there is no desire to put it into the hands of a commercial ring. The intention, as I have before said in the matter, is that the Irish cattle interests shall be taken into full consideration.


Has not the hon. Gentleman admitted that the Grading Order cannot be carried out? Would it not be better, then, to withdraw it until it is possible to give effect to it?


No; I do not admit that the Grading Order cannot be carried out. It has only just been begun. I do not think that, with greater experience, that that assertion would be made.


In the case of Birkenhead you admitted it?