§ Mr. W. THORNE
asked the President of the Board of. Trade what tonnage of rabbits, fruit, butter, and cheese arrived from the Australasian Colonies during the months of March, April, May, and June of this year; whether, through this kind of produce remaining uncontrolled, merchants were more interested in shipping these goods than meat; whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the cheese producers of the province of Taranaki, New Zealand, under war conditions have received an increase of wealth never anticipated at the commencement of August last; and whether he will approach the Colonial Governments with a view to placing these goods under the same control as meat?
My hon. Friend will see from the monthly trade accounts that the imports of rabbits, butter, and cheese into the United Kingdom from Australia and New Zealand have been as follows:
As regards fruit, the accounts show only the quantities and values of the total imports, and do not specify the countries of origin. The shipments of all kinds of refrigerated produce are controlled by the Board of Trade, through committees of shipowners' representatives at Sydney and Wellington. On the latter the New Zealand Government is represented. The instructions to those committees are that they should give priority to meat for the Armies and should ship other foodstuffs in normal quantities so far as tonnage is available. The committees have also been informed that the Board attach importance to the exportation of rabbits, as the latter are largely consumed by the poorer classes in the United Kingdom. Part of the cheese shipped from New Zealand was 1590W on account of the War Office. I am not informed as to the financial condition of the cheese producers of the Province of Taranaki. The question of the control of the exportation of the various kinds of foodstuffs is continually engaging the attention of the Board.
March. April. May. June. Australia— Tons. Tons. Tons. Tons. Rabbits 116 1,502 2,234 2,133 Butter 199 381 914 383 Cheese — — — — New Zealand— Rabbits — — 1 1 Butter 2,048 1,897 1,576 753 Cheese 4,078 2,841 5517* 2,940 *Including certain importations made in previous months, particulars of which could not be published at the time.
§ Mr. THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the total weight of frozen beef, mutton, and lamb shipped from the Argentine Republic to all centres during 1915 and the first six months of 1916, respectively, and similar figures for Australia and New Zealand, and of the shipments intended for the use of the Allied Armies; what portion, approximately, is unloaded in France, Italy, and other centres, where it is required for the use of the troops; and what proportion is first of all brought to this country and then afterwards re-shipped to the countries where it is needed for consumption?
§ Mr. THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, seeing that negotiations have failed in the case of one or two vessels running in the Australasian trade in the matter of financial adjustments, he will say if these vessels have remained out of the trade as far as meat-carrying was concerned; what are the names of the owners of these boats thus withheld from public service; how long they have been laid up; and what is their total meat-carrying capacity?
The financial adjustments referred to by my hon. Friend relate to vessels at present under construction, not to vessels already trading. I understand that negotiations are still proceeding, and I hope they will be successful.