HC Deb 12 July 1938 vol 338 cc1201-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

7.56 p.m.

Mr. Marshall

It appears to me that this Clause brings within the scope of compensation slaughter-houses which have never hitherto been subject to compensation. As I understand the present position it is this: A local authority builds a new abattoir, and there is necessarily a reduction in the number of private slaughter-houses. They usually find that those slaughter-houses are divided into two classes—registered, in respect of which compensation is not payable, and licensed in respect of which compensation is payable. Clause 57 appears to convert registered slaughterhouses into licensed slaughter-houses. That is a serious thing for local authorities attempting the building of new abattoirs. A large local authority which is going to build a new abattoir, in the interests of public health, is to be subject to all sorts of regulations. It is very rarely that a local authority, having built such a slaughter-house, can make a profit out of it. I think that, as a rule, it entails a loss on the slaughtering section of that particular slaughter-house. One can imagine the consternation if there is to be an additional expense put on local authorities now to compensate slaughterhouses which have hitherto not been subject to compensation.

7.58 p.m.

Colonel Sandeman Allen

I would like to say a word in reply to what the hon. Member has said. Where part of their livelihood is to be taken away from some of the slaughterers, because alternative slaughtering is being provided by the municipality, is it suggested that, because the municipality wants to make a profit, the private slaughterer is not to have compensation? I hope the Minister will allow compensation under the Clause, arid not steal from these private slaughterers their means of livelihood.

7.59 p.m.

Mr. Tomlinson

I would point out, in answer to the last speaker, that there has been a vested interest which local authorities have been compelled to buy out when building abattoirs in the past—that is, the registered slaughter-houses, which could not be closed. Other slaughter-houses have existed on licence from the local authorities, on the understanding that the licence was granted from year to year, and on condition that it could either be granted or withheld as the local authority so determined. The fact that under such conditions a slaughterer has gone on with his work, surely does not entitle him to compensation in the event of the local authority seeking to have that slaughtering carried out by more hygienic and up-to-date methods. If this Bill does incidentally convert what has hitherto been a yearly licence into a licence lasting for all time and consequently adds considerably to its value, it is a point which needs looking into.

8.1 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

The position has become clearer to the House after the discussion which has taken place. The local authority used to have power previously to refuse to grant a licence, but if it refused to grant a licence there was an appeal to the court of summary jurisdiction. This Clause, it is true, makes a change in the law; it gives a local authority an additional power to pass a resolution allowing an appeal to the Minister, after which no more slaughter-house licences can be granted, and, of course, compensation can be given. It is a convenience to all concerned. Previously, the local authority had only power to stop a licence. Under the Bill the local authority has not only power not to continue the individual licence, but in that alternative case there is a condition under which compensation can be given, and an appeal will lie with the Minister. That has been found convenient in local Acts and it is now being laid down in a general Act. I think that explanation meets the case.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. Marshall

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has grasped the significance of this matter. The Clause deals with the elimination of slaughterhouses. The wholesale elimination of private slaughter-houses comes about only when a local authority contemplates building a new abattoir. I could give the Minister actual chapter and verse where the local authorities have had to face this position. When I say that they have had to pay in compensation sums ranging from £10,000 to £20,000, and even more, I think the Minister will realise that it is a very serious matter. In 1890 there was a certain Act passed which said in effect that all slaughterhouses built before that date would be regarded as registered slaughter-houses. Any slaughter-house built after that date was to be a licensed slaughter-house for which no compensation would be payable. In short, these slaughter-houses were built at the owners' risk and were subject to a yearly licence. The Minister is bringing these licensed slaughterhouses, of which there are a very great many, under this Clause, and local authorities will have to close them if they want to build abattoirs, and pay compensation. He has brought that class of slaughter-house within the scope of compensation. The right hon. Gentleman is interested in the Livestock Industry Act and knows how eager the Government are to get this thing going, and he understands, or he should understand, that the difficulties of local authorities are very serious. The Government are now going to put this extra burden on them and ask them to compensate slaughterhouses which hitherto have not come within the scope of compensation. This is a very serious matter.

8.4 p.m.

Mr. Muff

I would remind the House that my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside (Mr. Marshall) is the spokesman for every market and municipal authority north of the Trent, including Birkenhead, and this Committee ought to give very careful attention to the plea which he has put forward. In listening to the Minister of Health, I have not been able to grasp what will really happen under the Clause now under discussion. There is a long history behind this business of the so-called registered slaughterhouse. For many years the municipal authorities have been carrying on a fight, backed by successive Ministers of Health, to see to it that all cattle slaughtered within their authority should not only be slaughtered on hygienic and humane lines, but that the cattle itself should be in such a condition as to be fit for human food. I was hoping that the Minister would be able to announce that the day has gone by when a dead cow, for instance, which has died of some disease, can be transported secretly in order to be prepared for human consumption. Not only dead cattle but live cattle have been brought to some of these slaughterhouses, and because there was no adequate inspection there has been placed upon the market food which was hardly fit for human consumption.

I would make a further appeal to the Minister of Health to elucidate the position. The hon. Member for Brightside knows what he is talking about here. I believe that there are about 48 municipalities represented on the Northern Markets Association. There were 48 or about that number when I sat upon it, and there have been additions since, including, I believe, the second city of the Empire, Glasgow itself. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will give us a little more light and leading on this Clause, so that we may pass it without having at the back of our minds that an injustice is being done not so much to corporations like Birkenhead, but progressive and up-to-date corporations which provide abattoirs in order to guarantee that the people shall have sound meat purveyed and brought to their tables.

8.7 p.m.

Mr. Poole

I think that the Minister fails to appreciate that the apprehension felt on this side of the Committee is very real, that the Clause will operate very vitally against the interests of small local authorities. Whereas in the larger local authorities there is a certain centralisation, even under private ownership, of the slaughtering of animals, in the smaller local authorities there are a large number of registered slaughter-houses which have never had any guarantee of continuity of tenure and have always functioned from year to year, relying on the renewal of the licence. Yet this Clause would seem to put them into the same category as other slaughter-houses and make them eligible for the same measure of compensation as is available for other slaughter-houses. I do not think that it is the desire of any hon. Member on this side of the Committee to inflict injustice on anyone engaged in this occupation, but in this Clause it is proposed not only to compensate those occupying the premises, but it places a dual responsibility for compensation to be paid to the owner as well as to the occupier. Some of these premises are fit for no other purpose, and they ought to have been pulled down many years ago. In many cases they function up little back alleys where the animals are taken and slaughtered. It is proposed to attach to property of this type a value which could not have been used for any other purpose, and to enable compensation to be paid to the owner of the property and also to the occupier of the premises.

Colonel Sandeman Allen

If the slaughter-houses are as bad as all that, what do the progressive municipalities mean by licensing them?

Mr. Poole

The position is that from time to time authorities do license these places, but hand-in-hand with that also goes the fact that every progressive authority in the country is seizing in these places tons upon tons of bad and diseased meat every half-year or quarter. In my own borough we average 25 tons per quarter of diseased meat which is seized in slaughter-houses in the borough. How much gets through without the food inspector seeing it and finds its way on Sundays on to the dinner table of people who can afford to purchase only cheap meat is a matter which must be left to the assumption of the Committee. My point is that these premises cannot be used for any other purpose. They are suitable to be used only for this purpose. They must come within the by-laws of the local authority, otherwise the local authority would not continue the licence. Those who occupy them know full well that they do so only to the end of the year, when they are at the mercy of the local authority and have no guarantee that they will obtain a renewal of the licence. Yet it is proposed to place them in the same category as those who have had a registered slaughter-house for many years, and they are to rank for compensation. That is causingapprehension on the part of hon. Members on this side of the Committee.

8.12 p.m.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

I think that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Poole) may be under a little misapprehension as to how this Consolidation Bill arose. It arose from the desirability and necessity of consolidating the Statutes from time to time. In a Consolidation Bill the very minimum amount of new matter is introduced. That new matter, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bright-side (Mr. Marshall) will confirm, is the subject of very careful examination by the Departmental Committee which is set up for the purpose. The Departmental Committee was set up for this particular purpose by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), and it has considered the matter ever since. On that Committee were not merely members representing all sections of opinion in the House, but also representatives of all associations of local authorities, and, I would inform the hon. Member for Brightside, that all the four associations of local authorities were, in fact, on the Committee which framed and drafted this Clause. With all respect to the market authorities, for which the hon. Gentleman has so great a knowledge, nothing is being done against the interests either of local authorities or market authorities in this Clause, in so far as it was drafted by a Committee set up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield, and which had upon it representatives of all local authorities. Therefore, I think that there is a prima facie case in favour of this Clause being inserted.

As for the fears expressed by hon. Members, notably the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Hull (Mr. Muff), that this was making more difficult the changeover from privately-owned to municipally-owned slaughterhouses, if that was so, I do not think the associations of local authorities would have agreed to it. This provision has been sought by many progressive corporations in private Acts, and it does not make the position any more difficult. Under this Clause compensation can properly be asked for and paid, but only paid if it is decided that it is just. It is a Clause which has had very long and careful examination both by the Departmental Committee, and by the Joint Committee which thereafter examined it and called 22 witnesses. I hope that after this explanation the Committee will see fit to let us have the Clause.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Marshall

I do not want to go on with the discussion, but I am not satisfied with the Minister's explanation. I do not think that he has appreciated the burden which is being cast on local authorities by this Clause. I can appreciate the desire of the Department for uni-

Division No. 296.] AYES. [8.16 p.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Cooke, J. D. (Hammelsmith, S.) Foot, D. M.
Agnew, Lieul.-Comdr. P. G. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Furness, S. N.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Fyfe, D. P. M.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Cox, H. B. Trevor George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Aska, Sir R. W. Craven-Ellis, W. Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Gluckstein, L. H.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Gower, Sir R. V.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Davies, C. (Montgomery) Grant-Ferris, R.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)
Beit, Sir A. L. De Chair, S. S. Gridley, Sir A. B.
Bernays, R. H. Denman, Hon. R. D. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)
Birchall, Sir J. D. Denville, Alfred Gritten, W. G. Howard
Bossom, A. C. Dixon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Dodd, J. S. Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.
Brats, Sir W. Doland, G. F. Hambro, A. V.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Drewe, C. Hannah, I. C.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Hannon, Sir P. J. H.
Bull, B. B. Duncan, J. A. L. Harbord, A.
Butcher, H. W. Eckersley P. T. Harvey, Sir G.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)
Channon, H. Ellis, Sir G. Heilgers, Captain F. F A.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Emery, J. F. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-
Christie, J. A. Entwistle, Sir C. F. Hepworth, J.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Erskine-Hill, A. G. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)
Cclfox, Major W. P. Everard, W. L. Higgs, W. F.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Fildes, Sir H. Holdsworth, H.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Fleming, E. L. Holmes, J. S.

formity as far as the classification of slaughterhouses is concerned. They are bringing them under one classification as licensed slaughterhouses, but behind that they are bringing into the area of compensation a very great many slaughterhouses which hitherto have not been in that category. From that point of view the Minister of Health is doing an injury to the ideal that he has in sight, namely, to establish reasonable slaughterhouses all over the country.

8.16 p.m.

Mr. Elliot

May I call the attention of the hon. Member to Clause 57 (7), which we have just passed, which makes it clear that a licence under this Section shall remain in force for such period not exceeding 13 months as may be fixed by the local authority, but may from time to time be renewed by them for a period not exceeding 13 months at any one time. Therefore, the effect is to tighten the law by making all licences annual and not renewable unless the local authorities are satisfied.

Mr. Marshall

That may be so, but there is a Clause which prevents the local authority from closing them if they have been used as slaughterhouses.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 181; Noes, 115.

Hopkinson, A. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Seely, Sir H. M.
Horsbrugh, Florence Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Selley, H. R.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Hume, Sir G. H. Moreing, A. C. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Hunloke, H. P. Morgan, R. H. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Hunter, T. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Hutchinson, G. C. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Munro, P. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Owen, Major G Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Palmer, G. E. H. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Kimball, L. Peters, Dr. S. J. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Petherick, M. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Latham, Sir P. Pickthorn, K. W. M Turton, R. H.
Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Wakefield, W. W.
Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Radford, E. A. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Leech, Sir J. W. Ramsden, Sir E. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Lewis, O. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Wayland, Sir W. A.
Liddall, W. S. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Wells, Sir Sydney
Lindsay, K. M. Remer, J. R. White, H. Graham
Lloyd, G. W. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Wise, A. R.
MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Withers, Sir J. J.
MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbrldge) Wragg, H.
Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Rowlands, G. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Macnamara, Major J. R. J. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Salt, E. W. Captain Dugdale and Major
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Samuel, M. R. A. Harvie Watt.
Markham, S. F. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Hall, J. H. (Whltechapel) Oliver, G. H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hardie, Agnes Paling, W.
Banfield, J. W. Harris, Sir P. A. Parker, J.
Barr, J. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Parkinson, J. A.
Batey, J. Hayday, A. Pearson, A.
Benson, G. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Poole, C. C.
Bromfield, W. Hills, A. (Pontefraet) Pritt, D. N.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hollins, A. Ridley, G.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jagger, J. Riley, B.
Buchanan, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Ritson, J.
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Cape, T. John, W, Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Charleton, H. C. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton. T. M.
Chater, D. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Silkin, L.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Simpson, F. B.
Cocks, F. S. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cove, W. G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Kirby, B. V. Sorensen, R. W.
Daggar, G. Kirkwood, D. Stephen, C.
Dalton, H. Lathan, G. Stewart, W. J. (H'ghl'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lawson, J. J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Dobbie, W. Leach, W. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Lee, F. Thorne, W.
Ede, J. C. Leslie, J. R. Thurtle, E.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Logan, D. G. Tinker, J. J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) McEntee, V. La T. Tomlinson, G.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. McGovern, J. Viant, S. P.
Gallacher, W. Marklew, E. Walkden, A. G.
Gardner. B. W. Marshall, F. Walker, J.
Garro Jones, G. M. Mathers, G. Watkins, F. C.
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Maxton, J. Watson, W. McL.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Milner, Major J. Westwood, J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Montague, F. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Grenfell, D. R. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Muff, G. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Griffiths. J. (Llanelly) Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Naylor, T. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Adamson.

Clause 62 ordered to stand part of the Bill.