§ Sir R. COOPER
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if the price paid for cattle belonging to the Irish farmer is unrestricted and frequently exceeds 100s. a live cwt., whilst the price paid to the British farmer is restricted to 76s. a live cwt.; if so, on what grounds this financial advantage is accorded to Irish farmers if the British taxpayer pays the difference; and what is the estimated cost to the Treasury for 1018 of this privilege?
§ Captain WRIGHT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that half-fat and store cattle are being sold in Dublin and Belfast markets at prices exceeding the maximum fixed by Meat Orders for English producers; whether there is any control enforced in Ireland; whether English farmers are expected to buy stores in Ireland at prices higher than those at which they can sell in the English markets; and, if not, what steps he proposes to take to prevent a shortage of meat on account of Irish stores not being purchased and brought to England?
§ Mr. DIXON
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he is aware that, owing to the unlimited price allowed to be charged in Ireland for beef, whereas the English grazier is limited to 75s. a cwt., very few Irish store cattle are coming to England, and the Midland graziers are unable to properly stock their grass land; and will he fix the price of beef the same in Ireland as in England?
§ Mr. CLYNES
The Cattle (Sales) Order, 1917, which fixes maximum live-weight prices for cattle, did not apply to Ireland, as there were found to be many practical difficulties in the way of setting up a grading system in the markets of that country. It was accordingly open to British buyers of cattle in Ireland to buy at unrestricted prices — a course which has undoubtedly had the effect of forcing cattle prices in Ireland above the British maximum prices. Under Clause 1 of the Live-Stock (Restriction of Slaughter) Order, 1918, however, which became 1651W operative on the 18th March, no beast may be slaughtered in this country unless it has passed through a market in Great Britain within the fourteen days preceding slaughter. Irish cattle fit for slaughter imported into Great Britain will, therefore, have to pass through markets in this country, and be subject to grading and allocation. Steps are being taken to setup as rapidly as possible the necessary grading machinery at the ports, and when the system is fully operative Irish cattle prices should automatically fall to the British level. No loss falls upon the Treasury in connection with the prices paid by English buyers for cattle in Ireland. The prices of store cattle are not controlled either in Ireland or in Great Britain. It is hoped that the action already taken will have the effect of bringing the prices of Irish stores into proper relation with the controlled prices for fat cattle. The Meat (Maximum Prices) Order, 1917, applies to Ireland as well as to Great Britain.
§ Sir W. COLLINS
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of continued complaints as to the non-supply to Derby of livestock from the usual sources in Norfolk and Shropshire and the substitution of frozen meats of inferior quality; whether he will state the present destination of such livestock supplies; and whether he will consider the propriety of allocating some portions thereof to Derby?
§ Mr. CLYNES
It is necessary for the successful working of any scheme for the rationing of meat, that areas should be supplied with live stock from their own or from adjacent districts. Surplus supplies of cattle from the Norfolk area arc at present assigned to London and the Home Counties, while supplies from Shropshire pass to Birmingham. Derby is supplied from Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutlandshire. In order to avoid the slaughter of immature cattle, it will be necessary until July to utilise to the fullest extent the available supplies of frozen meat, which are allocated equitably throughout the country.
§ Mr. FIELD
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that the all-Ireland meeting of Irish stock-owners passed a resolution protesting against the continuance of the ten. hours detention as entailing unnecessary expenditure of food, time, money, and wastage 1652W of meat, more especially in respect to lambs; and whether it is the intention of the Board to remedy the complaints made by those experienced in the live stock trade on this point?
§ Mr. PROTHERO
I am not aware of the resolution referred to, which does not yet appear to have reached the Department. On the general question of the continuance of the ten hours' detention of animals landed from Ireland, I fear that I cannot usefully add anything to -what has been said in previous replies to my hon. Friend on the subject, except, perhaps, that it may interest him to learn that lambs may be moved for slaughter within the landing place as soon as they have been examined by the veterinary inspector of the Board.