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Food Supplies

Volume 361: debated on Thursday 30 May 1940

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Sugar And Butter Rations


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that large numbers of people will waive taking their rations of sugar and butter if an appeal is made to them; and whether he will consider making such an appeal?

I am well aware of the readiness of the general public to make such a sacrifice in the public interest and should the necessity arise my Noble Friend would not hesitate to make an appeal on the lines suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend. The need has frequently been stressed for strict economy in the use of foodstuffs generally and for the avoidance of waste.

Will my hon. Friend remember that if he were to make an appeal of that sort very often the more conscientious type of people would starve themselves, and that this would have a worse effect upon the nutrition of the people?

Meat And Livestock Officers (Appointments)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food on whose recommendation a stockbroker and a wine merchant, respectively, were appointed area meat and livestock officers; by what method these appointments were made; and whether the present salary of £1,000 a year in each case was the commencing salary?

The officers mentioned were among those appointed on a designate basis by the Food (Defence Plans) Department before the war after the most careful consideration of a large number of nominations obtained from various sources. One was originally a deputy area meat and livestock officer and was appointed to his present post recently on the resignation through ill-health of an area meat and livestock officer. No salary was paid in either case for services rendered prior to the war. On the outbreak of war the salary was fixed at £950 per annum, which was in creased to £1,000 per annum on 15th January last. Experience has shown that the selections made have been thoroughly justified.

Will my hon. Friend tell me on whose recommendation these appointments were made, and by whom were these two wholly unqualified gentlemen put into these very highly paid posts; and will he call for a general review of the whole situation in the light of these extraordinary circumstances?

I do not accept my hon. Friend's statement that these gentlemen are unqualified, and I do not think I can accede to his request. I have made careful examination into these cases and we are quite satisfied that these gentlemen have discharged their duties very well.

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this Question on the Adjournment at the first convenient opportunity.

Milk And Butter (Scotland)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has considered complaints from fanners and the grocery trade in the North of Scotland regarding the reduction of the butter ration from eight to four ounces; whether he is aware that large quantities of butter are going to waste every week in Scotland; and whether he proposes to make any arrangement for the collection and marketing of the surplus milk and butter now being wasted?

I have no evidence that large quantities of butter are going to waste in Scotland. While every effort has been made to enable farm butter-makers to dispose of their output, it is appreciated that in certain local areas surpluses may still exist. In these circumstances, divisional food officers have been authorised to take steps where necessary to enable surplus production being made available for consumption.

Propaganda Films


asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware that there is much unemployment in the film industry at the present time; how many propaganda films are being now made with Government assistance and support; and whether, in view of the need for propaganda films, he will consider increasing these?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. Before the recent intensification of hostilities, the Ministry of Information had commissioned 60 films of various kinds and were helping a number of film production companies by the grant of facilities and official approval. Some of the films commissioned were inappropriate to the present crisis and have been temporarily abandoned, but it is hoped that others of a more suitable character will take their place. Further plans for dealing with the present situation are now under consideration.

Deer Forests (Cultivation)

96 and 97.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) whether he is aware that there are 3,430,000 acres of land in Scotland devoted to deer; and whether, in view of the loss of food supplies from Denmark and Holland, he will consider the advisability of utilising these deer forests for arable and pasturage farming;

(2) whether he will consider the extension of crofters' holdings and the acquisition of land now under deer to the thousands of applicants for land settlement and that help be given by money and equipment grants, as in the case of Luskintyre, when new holders, in order to stock land formerly under deer, were granted State loans?

My hon. Friend will appreciate that the acquisition of land for holdings and their constitution and equipment, especially in the case of deer forests, are processes requiring much time and material, and I regret that, under present conditions, it is not practicable to make funds available for this purpose. As I stated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) on 21st May, instructions and guidance have been given to agricultural executive committees in the Highland counties with a view to securing the full utilisation of the grazing capacity of deer forests, and steps have been taken in certain cases to enable townships of crofters to obtain additional grazing on sporting lands. I should be glad to hear of any special cases of difficulty which my hon. Friend may wish to bring to my notice, but he will, I am sure, realise that the vital considerations at the present time are the production of more food and the efficient organisation of our resources in men and materials for victory.

Would my hon. Friend call for a report as to the speeding up of the matters that he has mentioned, and is he aware that more than 2,000,000 acres of these deer forests were at one time under cultivation and could be utilised again?

I am aware of the facts which are stated in the question by the hon. Member. Every endeavour is being made to speed up the full utilisation of our land to give us the best result possible for the victory which we desire.

Is the hon. Member recollecting, when he says that the acquisition of land is necessarily slow, that this House granted to this Government emergency powers to deal with all property that was necessary to be acquired for national purposes? I would cite the Minister of Labour again, who operated his powers in transferring the use of labour on the following day; will those who are interested in the acquisition of property act with similar expedition?

The powers referred to by the hon. Member are well known to those at the Scottish Office at the present moment.