HC Deb 09 February 1956 vol 548 cc1802-3
53. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will investigate the present arrangements for the distribution of meat with a view to economies being achieved which will reduce the price.

Mr. Amory

I am not contemplating such an investigation.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is there not a case for an investigation into the conditions at Smithfield Market? Have not the bummarees and porters there a monopoly of labour which they are abusing by preventing butchers from carrying away their own meat? Do not these activities uphold the cost of living?

Mr. Amory

Regarding the position in Smithfield Market, I understand that discussions are proceeding between the Corporation of the City of London and the Market Tenants' Association.

Mr. G. Brown

Is not the Minister aware that, far from there being a monopoly by the bummarees, this is a licensing system operated by the City of London, by agreement between the employers and the workers in the market, and that any intervention would be an intervention into a public licensing arrangement made after a proper agreement? Will not the Minister say that he defends the existing situation?

Mr. Amory

No, I think that I will restrict myself to the Answer that I have already given.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) apply with equal force to Covent Garden?

Mr. Brown

May I ask the Minister whether he will confirm that, far from there being a monopoly as is alleged, this in an arrangement, operated by the City Corporation, to which the butchers and the workers are both parties? Will the Minister confirm that that is so, and that the position is quite contrary to that stated by his hon. Friend?

Mr. Amory

I have nothing to add to what I have already said.