HC Deb 24 June 1953 vol 516 cc1880-3
12. Colonel J. H. Harrison

asked the Minister of Food why no beef was available in the meat ration in East Suffolk in recent weeks, although many bullocks are fattened in the county.

Major Lloyd George

During the five weeks ended 12th June beef formed approximately 35 per cent. on average of issues of meat from depots in East Suffolk, and the bulk of this was locally produced. This corresponds with the average for the rest of the country over the same period.

Colonel Harrison

While thanking my right hon. and gallant Friend for his reply may I ask him if he is aware that this did not appear so obvious to the housewife drawing her rations? After all, do we not have a Biblical precedent for those who fatten their bullocks having some share in them?

Major Lloyd George

As a matter of fact, in my hon. and gallant Friend's constituency they had a slightly bigger share than the rest of the country.

Mr. Willey

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that we have received this year less beef from the Argentine than we had last year, and that this is very disappointing? Is he making representations to the Argentine about it?

Major Lloyd George

I do not know what this has got to do with East Suffolk, but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that overall we are receiving much more.

16. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Food the total tonnage of meat he anticipates having available in 1953 to meet ration demands; how much of this, in tons, will be home produced and how much imported; what estimate he has formed of total meat requirements for 1954 to secure derationing; and what obstacles now remain to derationing meat in the early part of 1954.

Major Lloyd George

Supplies of ration meat in 1953 are expected to be about 1,500,000 tons, of which about 900,000 tons will be home produced and 600,000 tons imported. Manufacturing meat and offals will bring the total to nearly 1,900,000 tons. Pre-war consumption levels would indicate a need of about 2,300,000 tons in 1954 but this may not be a conclusive guide.

The pre-requisites of derationing are adequate supplies spread reasonably over the year; freedom from undue currency restrictions; and satisfactory arrangements for giving effect to the price and market guarantees for home production under the Agriculture Act, 1947. I earnestly hope these pre-requisites will be satisfied during 1954, but I will not venture to make any firm forecast at this moment.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind that the reward of boldness is great success as in the case of his scheme for the derationing of eggs, and in view of the overwhelming desire of all people in this country to see the back of meat rationing after 14 years of it, will he take the most energetic steps to bridge this marginal shortage which still remains?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In view of the figures for 1953 which the Minister has just given, will he say why he is trying to force people all over the country to take fat pork and imported mutton which butchers and consumers will not touch with a pitchfork, and is he not aware that as a result the meat ration system is on the verge of complete collapse in more places than one?

Major Lloyd George

I cannot possibly accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's last observation. With regard to the figures of the meat ration, pork and mutton have to play their part. As I pointed out to an hon. Friend of mine in an earlier answer, at least 35 per cent. of the meat ration was in beef.

Sir W. Smithers

When will my right hon. and gallant Friend realise that if he continues to break the law of supply and demand, as, for instance, by continuing bulk purchase, he will land the country in bankruptcy, and has he not seen the result of State controls in the £22 million loss on the Raw Cotton Commission? Will he close down the Ministry as soon as possible?

Mr. Speaker

There is nothing in the Question about cotton.

Mr. Royle

Is it not a fact that the 2s. 4d. meat ration is only possible because of the distribution of excessively fat and very poor quality meat, and is it fair to place the onus on the retail traders, particularly when the Ministry might easily use that addition for the provision of better meat?

Major Lloyd George

I cannot answer the rest of the Question because I do not agree with the first part of it.

20. Mr. Murray

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the small amount of beef being supplied at the Brandon and Byshottles, County Durham, distribution centre, and of the poor quality of the mutton now being offered; and what he is prepared to do to bring about some improvement in this matter.

Major Lloyd George

During the five weeks ended 12th June this district received about 37 per cent. of beef, which is slightly above the average for the rest of the country. Its share of imported mutton was in the same proportion as elsewhere. Future issues must depend on home marketings and the types of meat arriving from abroad.

Mr. Murray

Is the Minister aware that variety is the spice of life, and does he not realise that it is a bit monotonous for the women of this country to be told week after week that it is mutton, mutton, mutton? Is he aware that I am informed that the quality of the old ewes which have been received in this country is not worth the carriage of bringing them here, and will he not do something at least to give the women of this country a bit of real English beef?

Major Lloyd George

As I told the hon. Gentleman, the average received in this district is slightly above the average for the rest of the country. I am interested to hear him say that variety is the spice of life, as I am doing my best to give some of that variety. The proportion of imported mutton, to which the hon. Gentleman referred contemptuously, was only 10 per cent. in that particular period.