§ Mr. C. EDWARDS
asked the Minister of Food whether there is sufficient mutton in this country at present, together with the Colonial supplies already assured, to supply the population for 12 months; whether, during the last three months, eight vessels carrying meat have been detained in port on an average six weeks; whether £500 per day has been paid for demurrage and other charges; what effect this has on the price to the consumer, and if he will see that this meat is distributed, and thus avoid delay in unloading, and consequently lower prices?
§ Mr. McCURDY
Any answer to the first part of this question can only be in the nature of an estimate, dependent upon the rate of consumption of mutton in this country during the next 12 months, and the quantities which may ultimately he tendered under contracts which have not yet terminated. I can only say that at the present rate of consumption the Colonial supplies at present in store in this country, and in the Australasian freezing works, would not satisfy the Home demand for the period mentioned. As regards the second part of the question, there has been some delay of vessels discharging in the port of London, but at the present time no vessel is being held up for lack of storage accommodation for her cargo. The claims for demurrage have not yet been settled, but I am informed that they will not in any case approach the figure suggested in the question. The price of meat to the consumer has not been affected by any charges of this nature and, in fact, the price of mutton recently has been substantially reduced. I am glad to be able to state that the reduction in price, and the publicity which has been given to this matter, together with other steps which I have taken, have resulted in a substantial increase in the consumption of this Australasian mutton amounting to about 40 per cent. above the pre-War demand.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
asked the Minister of Food whether the Government has sold best quality New Zealand lamb to the United States, shipped direct; if so, at what price f.o.b., New Zealand; and whether a profit or a loss was made on the transaction?238W
§ Mr. McCURDY
Sales have been made of New Zealand lambs for shipment to the United States, at prices which will leave a margin of profit to the Government. Further negotiations are in progress, and I would ask the hon. and gallant Member to defer asking for information which might prejudice these negotiations.