§ Captain REDMOND (by Private Notice)
asked the Food Controller whether he is aware of the serious injury the Order recently issued by the Ministry of Food prohibiting the landing of Irish livestock at British ports on Sundays will cause both the Irish shipping and livestock interests; and, in view of representations to this effect made to him by the interests involved, and the Chambers of Commerce of Dublin, Cork, and Water-ford, he will have the Order instantly withdrawn to enable livestock traffic to resume its usual course next week-end?
§ Mr. McCURDY
No Order has been issued by the Food Controller prohibiting the landing of Irish livestock at British ports on Sundays. After consultation with the representatives of the Irish shippers at Birkenhead, and in order to prevent the necessity of Ministry of Food officials working seven days a week, it was recently determined that fat stock would not be accepted for slaughter by the Ministry between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday. There was nothing in that arrangement to prevent Irish consignors from sending their stock forward, provided that they made the necessary arrangements for the custody and keep of the stock. The Food Controller sent a representative to Ireland last week, and it was understood that all parties were reasonably satisfied with this arrangement. I am now informed that the Mersey Dock and Harbour Board has issued a Press notice closing the Port of 519 Birkenhead to Irish cattle from noon on Saturday until 6 a.m. on Monday. The Food Controller has no power to interfere with the discretion of the Port Authority in this respect, but he is anxious to secure some arrangement consonant with the practices normally adopted in Ireland without forcing an undue amount of overtime work on the dock employees, and he is communicating with the Minister of Transport on this point.
§ Captain REDMOND
Does the hon. Gentleman mean to state that he does not regard Sunday as between midnight on Saturday and midnight on Sunday, and does he furthermore desire to state that were it not for the order issued by the Ministry of Food fat livestock would still be going from Ireland to Liverpool, and would land there and be slaughtered on the Sunday? If that is not issuing an order prohibiting livestock from landing in a British port on Sunday I should like to know from him what is. Further, I should like to ask on whose advice and for what purpose was this order made? Why interfere with the existing state of affairs? What, was wrong with the conditions that prevailed?
§ Mr. McCURDY
I cannot without notice state upon whose advice these steps were taken which I have detailed. With regard to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's other questions, so far as they are questions of fact I think he will find that they are answered in the reply I have given. So far as they are questions of opinion as to whether securing one day's rest in seven necessitates some cessation of the importation of cattle, I cannot argue with him at short notice.
§ Captain REDMOND
If the Irish cattle trade is willing to find the necessary means of bringing these animals to Birkenhead as they have before, will the Ministry of Food facilitate them in every possible way?