71. Mr. BOWER MAN
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he is aware that on the 17th of June 80 quarters of beef were allotted to the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society, of which, upon examination by the meat inspector, 15 were declared to be unfit for human consumption, and that during the following week 24 out of 40 quarters of beef allotted to the same society were also condemned; if he can state how it was that meat in such a condition should have been released from storage; and whether any action has been or will be taken against those responsible?
§ Mr. PARKER (Lord of the Treasury)
I regret that the facts are substantially as stated in the question, though I may say that the total quantity of frozen beef allotted weekly to the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society is between 400 and 450 quarters. In the first case referred to the 1856 meat was issued from cold storage at a time when, owing to great pressure and the difficulty of obtaining labour, it was not possible thoroughly to inspect all meat before issue. In the second case the meat was dispatched direct from a vessel, and had not undergone cold storage in this country. In both cases the meat condemned was immediately replaced by meat of sound quality. I would remind my right hon. Friend of the difficulty, in view of the present shortage of labour, of taking all the precautions which are usual under ordinary conditions, and I can assure him that every possible effort will be made to prevent these troubles from recurring.
§ 72. Captain WRIGHT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to the fact that at the weekly markets held at Leominster on Fridays during the last four weeks hundreds of people attending those markets to obtain their weekly supplies have been unable to procure either fresh or frozen beef or mutton owing to the whole, or nearly the whole, of the fresh meat sold weekly in Leominster on Tuesdays having been sent to other areas and to the non-arrival at Leominster of frozen meat supplies till the Saturday; whether the Leominster district is one of the chief meat-producing districts; and whether, in view of the recent announcement that local requirements were to be satisfied from local supplies before surplus supplies were diverted elsewhere, he will say whether, if that policy cannot be fully carried out, he will lay down a rule that some fixed proportion, say, 75 per cent. of fresh meat and 25 per cent. of frozen, should, so far as possible, be provided for every district whether meat-producing or not?
§ Mr. PARKER
The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. It is necessary to allot to industrial and non-producing areas a certain amount of home-killed meat, in order to obviate the unfairness of feeding one area entirely on home-killed and another entirely on frozen meat, and the recent dispatch of live stock from the Leominster district was carried out in pursuance of this policy. I am informed that the recent delays in the dispatch and delivery of frozen meat are 1857 largely due to the prevalence of influenza amongst transport workers. It is not possible to fix the proportion of home-killed and frozen meat to be distributed in any district, since this must be governed by the transport facilities available. I may add, however, that a full proportion of home-killed meat has been allotted to Leominster for the present week.