§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he can now describe the system under which fat cattle and sheep are to be marketed; and how prices are to be determined at the various stages between producers and consumers?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The full plan of control of meat and livestock is of course not yet in operation but under that plan it is proposed that farmers shall bring all their fat cattle and fat sheep to collecting centres where they will be bought by the Government. The fatstock purchased will be slaughtered on behalf of the Government in selected slaughter-houses, and the resultant meat will be distributed, through wholesale meat supply associations, acting as the Government's agents, to the retail trade.
All the markets which are at present used as certification centres under the Livestock Industry Act (1937) together with a few additional markets have been selected as collecting centres. The stock will be paid for at prescribed prices according to grade and classification. The grading of cattle will be carried out by the existing cattle certifying authorities and similar authorities have been set up in respect of sheep.
The question of prices for livestock is under active consideration between officers of my Department and of the Agricultural Departments, in consultation with the National Farmers' Unions of England and Scotland.
The price of meat to the retailer will be fixed at a figure to cover the cost, and it is intended that retail prices to the consumer shall be such as to allow retailers a reasonable margin of profit.