§ The Minister of Food (Sir Benjamin Smith)
The discharge and clearance of 43 ocean food ships has been stopped by the dockers' strike. Fourteen ships are held up at Liverpool, one at Manchester, 10 at Hull and 11 in London. Seven others are at anchorage at Falmouth awaiting orders, four destined for Liverpool, two for Manchester and one for Hull. Sixteen of these ships still contain some 26,000 tons of frozen meat, frozen fish, butter, bacon, cheese, lard and oranges; the others carry wheat, oilseed and general cargoes, such as canned fish, milk and meat, tea, dried eggs and other less perishable foodstuffs. Part of the perishable cargo is in insulated space, but large quantities of cheese, lard and oranges are in general stow and are likely to deteriorate if not unloaded and distributed quickly. The continuance of the strike must seriously affect the importation and supply of foodstuffs. On the last part of the question, I have nothing to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, with whom I am keeping in the closest touch.
§ Mr. Stewart
In view of the grave nature of that statement, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is highly reprehensible that any section of the community for selfish reasons should hold up food supplies?
§ Mr. Speaker
I will see if that can be arranged provided that the sun does not shine in my eyes, because earlier on, on account of the sun, I could not see a single face on the Government side.
§ NEW MEMBER SWORN
§ George Reid Thomson, esquire, K.C., for the Burgh of Edinburgh (East Division).