§ 48. Sir R. THOMAS
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that meat trusts have entered into an agreement to curtail the shipments of meat to this country and thereby raise the price to the consumer; whether he is aware that the agreement is already in operation, with the result that the average price of chilled meat on Smithfield Market for the week ending 15th June, 1928 was £10 per ton higher than for the corresponding week of last year; and whether, seeing that the artificial regulation of meat prices is only made possible by the action of his department in preventing the importation of sound continental meat, which source of supply is not controlled by the meat trusts, he will take steps to modify the embargo and allow the importation of sound continental meat.
§ Captain BOWYER (Lord of the Treasury)
I have been asked to reply. The information at the Ministry's disposal is to the effect that any agreement entered into by the large meat importing firms is aimed at preventing violent fluctuations in the supplies of meat to this country rather than at curtailing supplies generally. Mr. right hon. Friend is aware of the increase in the price of chilled meat at Smithfield at the present time as compared with a year ago, but he is not prepared to ascribe this increase to any agreement entered into by the meat importing firms. As regards the last part of the question, the imports of meat other than pork or veal from the continent prior to the placing of the embargo on the importation of meat from the continent were negligible. My right hon. Friend can see no reason for any modification of his attitude with regard to 2454 the embargo which was imposed solely for the protection of the livestock of this country against a known source of infection by foot-and-mouth disease.
§ Sir R. THOMAS
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to reply to two questions? In the first place, if the Minister does not attribute this increase in the price of chilled meat to the agreement existing in the Trust, to what does he attribute it; and in the second place, what objection can the right hon. Gentleman have to importing sound meat from the continent?
§ Captain BOWYER
I will convey those questions to my right hon. Friend, but I think they would take too long to answer at Question Time.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
If people would eat less chilled meat and more good British meat, would it not be better for them?