HC Deb 19 February 1951 vol 484 cc863-4
8. Commander Maitland

asked the Minister of Food if his consultations with experts on the long-term policy for meat supply include a review of the present system of marketing fat cattle and fat sheep in this country; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Webb

The purpose of these consultations is to review the entire system of marketing and distribution of livestock and of both home-killed and imported meat. A statement will be made when the consultations have been completed and considered by the Government.

Commander Maitland

Will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that when these consultations take place they will take into account the importance of having the beasts slaughtered close to where they are marketed in order to avoid long railway journeys?

Mr. Webb

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman recognises, this is an immediate question. I am not at all satisfied with the present arrangements, including the one he has raised. We are doing our best to improve it. It is a different subject from the one in the Question.

Mr. Snadden

Will the question of an autumn glut of British-produced meat be taken into account in the discussion? Surely it is an absurdity to have a glut in the middle of a meat shortage.

Mr. Webb

Yes, indeed, Sir. Last autumn we just got by with the slaughterhouse facilities that we had. We are now taking steps to make sure that we shall be able to handle the increase which we hope to get next autumn.

Mr. Harrison

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there is proper supervision over the grading of meat in this country, and that there is no deliberate upgrading for the purposes of extracting higher prices?

Mr. Webb

I am not at all satisfied with our present grading system. There are serious defects in it, but every suggested improvement seems, on examination, to make the matter worse. The present grading system seems to be the best we can operate under the system of rationing.

Mr. Boothby

Why were not proper steps taken to secure an adequate supply of slaughter-houses long ago? There were repeated warnings.

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