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British Restaurants

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 17 June 1942

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what powers he has to open a British Restaurant without the consent of the appropriate local authority; in what localities such powers have been used; and in what circumstances?

My Noble Friend, under the Defence Regulations, has power to establish British Restaurants. He has delegated this power to local authorities subject to his approval in each case. The primary responsibility for assessing the need for a new Restaurant has been entrusted to the local authority. No occasion has yet arisen in which my Noble Friend has considered it necessary to provide a British Restaurant where a local authority has not done so.

If it could be shown in a given case that the consent of the local authority has been unreasonably withheld, would the Minister act?

I am sure that my Noble Friend would desire to persuade the local authority, and I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that persuasion is far better than compulsion, since local cooperation is most important.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what evidence of need he requires before consenting to the establishment of British Restaurants?

Before approving a scheme for a British Restaurant, my Department require an assurance from the local authority concerned that owing to war-time conditions a sufficient number of people have difficulty in obtaining hot nutritious meals at a reasonable price to justify the establishment of the Restaurant. Among the factors taken into account by local authorities are such considerations as the increase of population, difficulties experienced by officially evacuated persons preparing meals in billets, the number of women employed on war work, the existing provision for hot meals by industrial canteens and canteens of a similar nature, and the facilities provided by existing commercial catering establishments.