§ Mr. W. THORNE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether in the case of quarters of beef frozen hard any other inspection is possible than for good average appearance and quality together with boring for bone taint; whether this work is usually done for meat-importing firms by butchers at about 50s. or £3 a week; what grounds there are for paying seven and a half guineas a day for the work of a £3 a week man; whether the actual inspection of frozen meat must be after it is thawed and cut up and it is possible to examine the glands; whether any adequate arrangements exist at the various barracks and camps for this to be done by qualified persons; whether in these sort of matters, it is the practice of his Department to describe arrangements as satisfactory until some disaster like the White City reveals them to be quite otherwise; and whether he will ask two competent medical officers of health to report 185W on the War Office arrangements for meat inspection, both at home and at the front, and make any recommendations they feel to be necessary?
§ Mr. FORSTER
The scope of the inspection is well understood. All meat imported is examined and certified as free from disease at the port of shipment. Before issue to the troops it is passed by a board of officers, which includes an officer of the Army Service Corps. The parts of the question concerning remuneration are answered in my reply to the next question.
§ Mr. THORNE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the duties of Messrs. Perfect and Company—namely, the supervision of the discharge, storage, inspection, and distribution of frozen meat for the troops—are, with the exception of inspection, duties usually performed by the cold storage companies for their respective customers; whether he is aware that undertakings like the Port of London Authority, the Union Cold Storage Company, the Central Markets Cold Storage Company, etc., always undertake this work as part of the duties paid for in the first management rate; and that an importer making his storage arrangements hands his ship's documents to the refrigerator company and, to dispatch foods to the provinces, makes an order on the same company; whether the inspection while the meat is still hard frozen can be anything else than a mere examination for good average quality and boring for bone taint; and whether he will explain the reason for the sums paid to Messrs. Knowles and Wells?
§ Mr. FORSTER
I am informed that their work is much greater and more complex than that usually performed by cold storage companies, comprising, as it does, the arrangements for receipt and storage of cargoes and the dispatch of the meat to troops all over the United Kingdom and in France. These duties involve intricate arrangements and accounting, but they are carried out to the complete satisfaction of the responsible military authorities. The scope of the inspection is well understood.
§ Mr. THORNE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether during January last and at various times since the outbreak of war, the Government purchased a quantity of more or less damaged beef; whether in January a gang of men were taken from London to Liverpool 186W to cut the same up; whether parts were used by the Army, parts sold to outsiders, and parts condemned; whether this beef was bought at the same price as good sound beef; if not, how did the price of the parts sold to outsiders compare with the price originally paid for the goods; whether there was any insurance on the beef; and, if so, who were the persons who respectively represented the Government and the underwriters in settling the claim; how much beef bought by the Government between 4th August and 31st March was rejected as unfit after purchase, and resold or condemned on the Government's account; and whether the owners were compelled to make good any deficiencies in this respect?
§ Mr. FORSTER
The Government has never purchased damaged meat, as all meat bought is subject to rejection. The instance presumably referred to was part of a shipment of Government meat returned from France. The meat was in a sound condition when loaded, but became partly damaged whilst on board. The question of liability for this damage is at present under consideration. Men were sent from London to cut this meat, in order that such portions which were fit for consumption could be saved. No part was issued for Army purposes. Parts were placed on the market and sold. The portions unfit for human consumption were condemned, and sold for industrial purposes. The beef was sound when purchased, and was paid for as such under contract by tender. It was not insured. Except for the case mentioned above and seven quarters of beef returned by mistake from a unit, no meat has been sold between the 4th August, 1914, and 31st March, 1915. A few instances have occurred of small quantities of meat being condemned, and in the majority of these cases the value has been recovered from the seller.