§ Major ENTWISTLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture if it be possible for the Fish Transport Committee appointed at the conference held on 15th June to be transferred to the control of the Ministry of Transport, seeing that the recommendations, etc., will inevitably affect that Department?
§ Sir R. SANDERS
It does not appear that any question of control arises. The Committee is appointed by inter-Departmental arrangement. The chairman of it will be an officer of the Ministry of Food; the vice-chairman and secretary will be officers of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; and the Ministry of Transport, the railway companies, and the fishing industry will be represented on it.
asked the Minister of Food whether, on the 17th June last year, he promised to a deputation of the National Fish Association, the British Trawlers Association, and other representatives of the fishing industry, that he would press on the Railway Executive the desirability of providing suitable trucks and refrigerated vans for the transport of fish; what steps have actually been taken to press these points on the railway companies, the Board of Trade, and the Ministry of Transport; and what has been the result of his action?
§ Mr. McCURDY
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Numerous representations are from time to time addressed to the Ministry of Food with regard to the question of transport and the handling of fish traffic, by traders and others, which are duly transmitted to the railway companies, in whose power it lies to remedy such grievances as are well founded. So far as this Ministry is con- 2173W cerned, the Wholesale Markets Committee, appointed some time ago, has made certain investigations and recommendations, and a Fish Transport Committee, upon which the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Food are represented, has recently been appointed to investigate further the matters in question.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
asked the Minister of Transport if the Advisory Rates Committee have received any evidence on behalf of the fishing industry; if applications to give evidence have been received and refused; and the reason of the refusal?
§ Mr. NEAL
The question of calling for or hearing evidence is one left by statute entirely to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee has not received evidence from the fishing industry, although efforts were made to obtain it. In addition to the public notice inviting evidence as to the general principle governing rating, a written invitation was sent by the Committee to the association concerned, which failed to respond until that part of the inquiry was closed. An opportunity of making representations upon the rates chargeable will arise later, and the industry should apply to be heard if they wish to give evidence.
asked the Minister of Food whether the Food Investigation Board has been considering the question of refrigerated cars for the transport of fish, and for how long; whether the Board is of opinion that fish carried on ice in such vans is liable to suffer from the fact that the vans have no ventilation; and, if so, on what scientific data were these opinions based in the case of each description of van?
The Food Investigation Board have considered the question of refrigerated railway wagons in the year 1919, and issued a Report, published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, on the design of railway wagons for the carriage of perishable foods. In this design for wagons intended to convey fish or other articles similarly perishable, it is provided that all doors, joints, etc., should be air-tight, and, if ventilating louvres or other openings be fitted, that they should be supplied with air-tight insulated covers.2174W
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the ventilation of fish-cars would merely have the effect of drying the fish, conveying heat which would counteract the effect of the ice, and admit bacteria which would hasten the process of decomposition; that the theory of the insulated van is that the admission of heat from the outside should be reduced to a minimum, thereby maintaining the air inside the van at the low temperature produced by the ice inside; that this prevention of ventilation by insulation has been proved by Le Danois to reduce the quantity of ice necessary to preserve a given quantity of fish during the journey; and that in Norway the use of ice and salt refrigerator cars has rendered possible the expansion of the export of fresh fish to Germany; whether, in the opinion of the Ministry, insulated and refrigerated cars are unsuitable for the carriage of fish in the British Isles; and, if so, will he publish the Report of the scientific experts which has led them to form this opinion?
The Food Investigation Board are not aware that ventilation of fish vans would necessarily have the effect of drying the fish. They are aware that ventilation would, in nearly every case, result in the admission of heat, and of bacteria, unless special precautions were taken; that the theory of the insulated van is that stated in the question, and also that insulation, whether it did or did not prevent ventilation, would tend to reduce the quantity of ice needed to keep the interior of the van cool. They are aware of the valuable observations of M. Le Danois upon the utility of refrigerated and insulated vans in the transport of fish, and of the possibility of carrying fish long distances in good condition by their use. They have no evidence to the effect that insulated and refrigerated railway vans would be unsuitable for the carriage of fish in the British Isles.