HC Deb 27 March 1963 vol 674 cc1299-300
12. Mr. Darling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has completed his investigation of the measures needed to ensure that all meat is inspected by qualified public health inspectors before sale to the public; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

My right hon. Friend hopes to make a statement shortly.

Mr. Darling

Is not the hon. Gentleman ashamed of that reply? Does not he realise that nine years ago one of his predecessors gave an assurance that arrangements would be made as quickly as possible to ensure that all the meat slaughtered in this country would be inspected for fitness to eat? Since then, practically nothing has been done. Is he further aware that there are suggestions now—to which I hope he can give a reasonable answer—that the Minister wants the butchers to pay for the cost of inspection? I hope the hon. Gentleman does not think that his right hon. Friend can get away with that proposal.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I do not agree that nothing has been done. A great deal of progress has been made. Only about 10 per cent, of meat is now uninspected. Very serious representations of substance have been made on the proposals put forward, and these will receive his attention. He hopes to come to a decision in the near future.

Mr. Peart

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are always getting from him and his right hon. Friend the reply "shortly" or "soon" but that we never get any action? What does the hon. Gentleman mean by "shortly" in this case? Does it mean a month, two months or six months?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I mean as soon as my right hon. Friend has had time to take into account all the considerations, representations and suggestions which have been put to him. He will do this in order to arrive at the correct decision in the light of all the circumstances.

Mr. C. Royle

What has happened to the proposed order with regard to making the trade pay for meat inspection? Is it now dead?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

That is part of what my right hon. Friend is considering at the moment.