Since June, 1954, 201 such proposals for private slaughterhouses have been received, of which 156 estimated to cost about £300,000 have been approved. Twenty-one are under consideration. In the same period, improvements costing £330,000 have been carried out at 42 slaughterhouses provided by local authorities, and one new public slaughterhouse costing £16,500 has been built. Many local authorities are known to have proposals for building new public slaughterhouses or for major reconstruction of existing premises. Owing to the restrictions on capital expenditure, I am at present unable to approve any local authority schemes except where the work is essential in the interests of public health and safety.
§ Mr. Dye
The right hon. Gentleman says he is unable to approve many schemes submitted by local authorities and by private enterprise. Is this not happening at the same time that very great improvements are being made to facilities for beef imported into this country ; and is the home producer not, therefore, at a disadvantage in the quality of his produce reaching the consumer?
I am entirely with the hon. Member, I think, in wanting to see many new slaughterhouses built and existing ones improved. If the hon. Gentleman will study my answers, he will see that we do approve the very big majority of applications for private slaughterhouses, and the temporary restriction at present is on local authority slaughterhouses owing to the paramount need to restrict Government and local government expenditure temporarily.
§ Mr. Willey
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is quite intolerable to show this bias against the public authorities? Why this distinction? In Sunderland, as he is well aware, we have a scheme which has been supported by all interests in the town, and we have been told it is inopportune to put it forward now because there is no chance of it being accepted. Why distinguish between the public schemes of local authorities and those of private enterprise?
§ 6. Mr. Bottomley
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications have been received for the building or modernising of slaughterhouses in Rochester and Chatham.
One, Sir, for the extension of a private slaughterhouse in Chatham, for which consent was given on the 29th July, 1954.
§ Mr. Bottomley
Whilst thanking the Minister for having taken action on that occasion, may I ask him whether he realises that there are other slaughterhouses which ought to be rebuilt or modernised in order to cause less inconvenience to my constituents?
I think that may well be so, and I would say that if there are any applications for new private slaughterhouses or extensions to private slaughterhouses of which the right hon. Gentleman knows, I should be very ready to consider them.