HC Deb 05 February 1962 vol 653 cc4-7
6. Mr. Darling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether there are now sufficient inspectors to ensure that all meant in slaughterhouses is inspected before it is delivered to shops, cafés, restaurants and processing plants; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Vane

There is in some areas a shortage of officers for the inspection of meat but it is hoped that the recent recruitment of new meat inspectors, together with the gradual reduction in the number of slaughterhouses, will put this right.

Mr. Darling

Is the Parliamentary Secretary correct in saying that there is a reduction in the number of slaughterhouses? Is it not a fact that under the Slaughterhouses Act the number is increasing? In view of the fact that quite a lot of meat is condemned and that in slaughterhouses where there are no inspectors at the moment unfit meat may well be going on to the market, what is the hon. Gentleman doing to increase the inspectorate?

Mr. Vane

I have told the hon. Gentleman that new meat inspectors are being recruited. It is correct that there is a downward trend in the number of slaughterhouses. Most of those are small isolated slaughterhouses which are closing down, and this will make the question of achieving 100 per cent. meat inspection probably realisable sooner.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will the Minister bear in mind that many of the small rural district councils with low rateable values find it very difficult to pay for additional meat inspectors? Will he consider increasing the contribution of his Department so that they can employ them?

Mr. Vane

We recognise that some local authorities are in a difficult position, but a grant is payable. I do not think that at present we can contemplate any increase under that heading.

7. Mr. Burden

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that the Inter-Departmental Committee on Meat Inspection in its report published in 1951 recommended that whenever practicable veterinary surgeons should be appointed as senior inspectors responsible for groups of non-veterinary meat inspectors, and that non-veterinary meat inspectors should be encouraged to seek the advice of veterinary surgeons as professional con sultants; whether he is aware that these recommendations have not been fully implemented; and what action he proposes to take to effect their implementation in the near future.

Mr. Vane

Meat inspection and the appointment of officers for this work are the responsibility of local authorities who have been invited to seek the advice of the Ministry's veterinary surgeons and in fact frequently do so.

Mr. Burden

Is my hon. Friend bearing in mind the implications if we join the Common Market? Is he not aware that in all these countries the inspection of carcase meat is carried out by members of the veterinary profession?

Mr. Vane

We have had that consideration in mind. We are satisfied that meat inspection in this country is in very competent hands and we have a working arrangement with a number of European countries.

16. Mr. Will Owen

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response he has received from the meat trade to the proposal he has made to them that they should meet the cost of an inspectorate; and what action he is taking.

Mr. Vane

The trade associations have undertaken to let my right hon. Friend have their views on the question of a charge for meat inspection. When they have all had an opportunity of doing so he will consider the matter further.

Mr. Owen

Will the Parliamentary Secretary in the course of the meeting keep in mind the fact that many smaller local authorities are quite unable to bear the cost of an inspectorate? Will he, further, examine the plea that this is a national responsibility and that the Government should undertake full control of the provision and development of a meat inspectorate?

Mr. Vane

My right hon. Friend will certainly take note of such views when he considers the various suggestions that are made to him.

Mrs. Slater

Will the Parliamentary Secretary also ask his right hon. Friend to bear in mind that some of the meat traders' associations have been getting from local authorities a payment for meat which has been condemned and that this at any rate ought not to be allowed? This has happened. I know two local authorities which are making a payment to a meat traders' association for meat which has been condemned. Will the Minister look into this aspect as well?

Mr. Vane

This is rather wide of the Question, but if the hon. Lady will provide me with details of what she has been describing, I will certainly look into it.