HC Deb 07 April 1952 vol 498 cc2265-6
16. Mr. George Jeger

asked the Minister of Food whether he is yet in a position to make a statement on the progress of the Argentine meat negotiations.

Major Lloyd George

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Members for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) and Sunderland, North (Mr. F. Willey) on 31st March.

Mr. G. Jeger

Is the Minister aware that his secrecy and evasion over this question of the Argentine meat negotiations is creating a very bad impression in the country, and if he looks at the county council election results he will get confirmation of that? Will he follow the practice of the previous Government, which he seems to quote so often, of giving the fullest possible information to this House and the country?

Major Lloyd George

I will give such information as I can, but when the hon. Gentleman asks me to follow the practice of the previous Government in these negotiations, I am most reluctant to do that, because their negotiations over the last contract took a year and 10 days.

17. Mr. F. Willey

asked the Minister of Food what further discussions he has had with representatives of pre-war meat importers about the procurement of meat from the Argentine; and if he will make a statement.

Major Lloyd George

I met the Meat Importers' Joint Committee on 27th March. They assured me that they were ready and anxious to resume their trade. I re-affirmed that it was the Government's policy to return meat importing to private hands. Restrictions on overseas expenditure make this difficult at present. I am however meeting the Committee again to see how we can overcome the difficulties.