42. Mr. HARRIS
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether it is proposed to erect central slaughter-houses; whom will they belong to, and who will have the management of them; whether farmers will have to send their beasts for slaughter to these centres, and will only be paid after their dead-weight has been ascertained; if so, what guarantee will the farmers have of being certain whether the weights returned relate to their own or someone else's stock; and what practical means there will be of identifying beasts after slaughter?
§ Mr. CLYNES
Schemes for the extension of the principle of sale of cattle on a dead-weight basis are at present under consideration by the Ministry of Food, but it is not proposed to erect central slaughter-houses. Wherever practicable, the establishment of slaughter-houses run on co-operative lines by the farmers themselves will be encouraged, in order to enable them to supervise the identification and weighing of their own beasts. Similar facilities with regard to identification and weighing by farmers will be afforded at all slaughter-houses controlled by the Ministry, and every possible guarantee will be given to farmers as to the weight of their own cattle. The question of the best practical means of identification of individual beasts is being carefully considered.
Is the hon. Member aware that there is a very strong opposition to this proposed change, and the result is that farmers are not bringing up cattle and putting energy into the industry because they think they will not get an adequate reward for their labour and no security for their capital?
§ Mr. CLYNES
Surely the terms of my reply have shown that we are prepared to give every guarantee through agencies operating in direct contact with those concerned? It is not, I think, the principle of the scheme, but certain points of the machinery to which objection is taken.
§ Mr. G. FABER
Has the opinion of the President of the Board of Agriculture been taken by the hon. Gentleman's Department as to the practicability of this scheme?
Would it not be better, before carrying out the proposed changes, to consult practical farmers who understand this business?
§ Mr. CLYNES
I can assure my hon. Friend that we are in daily consultation with practical farmers and representatives of those interested,
§ 68. Major HUNT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has any statistics recording the slaughtering in Great Britain during the months of September, October, November, and December, of cattle, distinguishing oxen, bulls, cows, and heifers; of sheep, distinguishing the total of ewes; and pigs, distinguishing the total of sows, for the years 1916 and 1917, respectively?
§ Mr. CLYNES
There are no complete detailed slaughter statistics covering the periods indicated in the question, but from such records as are available I have caused a comparative statement to be prepared, and am sending this to the hon. and gallant Member.
§ The following is the statement referred to:
§ The number of animals slaughtered in the last four months of 1916 may be stated as 898,000 cattle, 3,558,000 sheep, and 1,080,000 pigs. In the same four months in 1917— 985,000 cattle, 4,248,000 sheep, and 750,000 pigs. In the case of cattle, of this number it is estimated that in 1916 there were 220,000 cows, 321,000 heifers, 36,000 bulls, 321,000 bullocks; and in 1917, 241,000 cows, 338,000 heifers, 47,000 bulls, 359,000 16 bullocks. In the case of sheep, of the total number 742,000 were ewes in 1916, and 1,171,000 were ewes in 1917. Of pigs in 1916, 95,000 is estimated as the number of sows, and in 1917, 94,000 is estimated as the number of sows.