§ 33. Mr. Hooson
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to ensure that carcases of beef, imported from the Argentine and other countries where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic and which might contain salmonella typhimurium, should be inspected by qualified veterinary officers in this country before they are distributed.
§ Mr. Peart
The port health authorities already have power to examine and test imported meat for conditions that may be injurious to public health, such as salmonella, but a veterinary inspection of carcases could not be relied upon to detect foot-and-mouth disease virus. I do not think, therefore, that the hon. Member's suggestion would improve our safeguards.
§ Mr. Hooson
Is the Minister aware that there is great concern about the adequacy of inspection of imported meat? In view of the Answer given to the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), does he not think, as this is the only country which does not have inspection by veterinary surgeons, that we ought, as a matter of urgency, to introduce such a system?
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has misjudged the whole situation and, having alienated the wishes of the farming community, he will not get the meat from Argentina anyhow? Where has this got him?
§ Mr. Peart
I have carried on a system about which over many years my predecessor did nothing. I am now examining this carefully, and have already set up the Northumberland Committee on foot-and-mouth disease. On other matters affecting salmonella, this is a matter for the Ministry of Health. As far as I am concerned, if we can improve the system in existence we shall do it.
§ Mr. Godber
The Minister keeps repeating that he is doing something, 361 but the whole situation has been changed by this latest epidemic and it was incumbent upon him to do this. Is he aware that he must safeguard supplies coming in now as much as he safeguarded those already in?
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
On a point of order. Although it is not my Question, in view of the unsatisfactory Answer, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise this important matter, before 15th April, on the Adjournment.