The scheme referred to has been the subject of investigation recently by an Inter-Departmental Committee. I understand that the Committee's report, which will be published shortly as a Command Paper, contains information as to the effect of beef grading and marking on the demand for the home product, and perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will await this report.
The statutory procedure for an inquiry such as that suggested by my hon. Friend is regulated by the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926. Under the Act an inquiry cannot be initiated unless an application substantially representative of some interest concerned has been made to the appropriate department. I have not so far received any such application.
asked the Minister of Agriculture how large a staff is employed in the marking of meat under the National Mark Beef Scheme; what is the total cost of the salaries paid; and whether, in view of the number of senders who mark their own beef, he will consider making a reduction in the staff employed?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the constituency which I represent there are two Government officers, salaried to mark beef, while 75 per cent. of the senders mark their own beef; and in the interests of that national economy about which my constituents in Aberdeen are so anxious, is he not prepared to consider the matter?