HC Deb 11 March 1918 vol 104 cc16-9
44. Captain BARNETT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in view of the substitution of frozen meat for chilled meat which has become necessary owing to shipping delays, he will take steps to procure the erection in London of a defrosting plant designed to render frozen meat fit for use as food?


asked whether he has received any complaints from certain districts of London that frozen meat was delivered so late in the week that it was too hard to sell on Saturday, and that shops had to open on Sunday; and can he arrange in future that frozen meat shall be delivered at latest on Thursday, so that it can be in condition for retail sale in the shops on Saturday?


In view of the serious shortage of material and of skilled labour, the erection of a defrosting plant capable of dealing with the frozen meat consumed in London would be impracticable at the present time. As I have already stated, it is hoped to arrange that frozen meat shall be delivered to retailers in time to allow for the necessary thawing before it is put into consumption.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of the difficulties of butchers in supplying the exact weight of meat allowed by the coupons; and would he consider as to allowing them a small margin of a few pence in order to save the waste of cutting off small pieces of meat in order to obtain the exact coupon weight?


I regret that I am unable to adopt this suggestion, which has received careful consideration. I am satisfied that the present rule need not lead to waste.

69. Major HUNT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether the American meat companies refuse to carry out the regulations of his Department regarding meat distribution; and, if so, will he precisely define what action he proposes to take in the matter?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the second part does not, therefore, arise.

70. Major HUNT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, on the occasion of the first allotment of meat under the rationing scheme at Smithfield Market, the butchers of Kensington and one or two other West End districts found themselves allocated with a quantity of Irish cow beef of a very inferior character which had been salvaged from a consignment from which the sanitary authorities of the City of London had made considerable seizures; whether these butchers refused to accept delivery and the meat was finally sold to sausage manufacturers; and, if so, whether he will state what steps were then taken to arrange the supplies of the protesting districts; and whether Grade 4 is again to be allotted to the West End of London?


Under the allocation scheme now in force at Smithfield Market, preferential treatment is not given to any particular district, and, as far as possible, the meat is allocated equitably as regards quality. A certain proportion of Irish cow beef was allocated to butchers in Western districts during the first week of the rationing scheme, but on their refusing to accept these supplies, no pressure was brought on them to do so, and their allocation was otherwise made up later in the week. Steps are now being taken to exclude Grade 4 cattle from the supplies apportioned under the rationing scheme.


Was this Irish cow beef slaughtered in Ireland and sent over as dead meat, or was it meat slaughtered in England?


I could not say without notice, but probably the latter.

71. Major HUNT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has appointed 130 persons at salaries of £250 to £350 per year to act as meat agents for thirteen districts which he proposes to constitute as a supply area to the Metropolis; whether each of these gentlemen is to be equipped with a clerk, and at what salary is this person to be remunerated; whether part of the duties of these agents will be to supervise the slaughtering and loading of meat for dispatch to London; and whether, as they will presumably be competent persons, he will make an Order that to all carcases slaughtered there shall be affixed a label corresponding to that attached to all Australian and New Zealand carcases, signed with the supervisor's name and recording the fact that he has made an examination and considers the carcase fit for sale?


The number of agents appointed by the Ministry of Food to supervise the allocation of meat to butchers throughout the country is 118, the number still to be appointed is forty-seven, and their average salary is approximately £250 a year. It is not proposed to provide these officials with clerks, nor will it be any part of their duty to supervise the slaughtering and loading of meat for despatch to London. The last part of the question does not, therefore, arise, but the suggestion made with reference to the labelling of carcases will receive consideration.

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