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Food Supplies

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 17 March 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the total number of persons prosecuted by his Department; and how many were employers and servants, respectively?

My Department has taken proceedings on 76,730 summonses since the outbreak of war. The figures of numbers of persons prosecuted are not available except from the beginning of the year 1942. In that year 15,188 persons were prosecuted, the total number of successful prosecutions being 31,397. It would not be possible to make any significent analysis of the figures in the manner suggested by my hon. Friend. In this connection, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to a like Question on 12th May, 1942.

Is care taken to see that no assistant is prosecuted where the benefit of the offence accrues to the employer?

Cannot my hon. Friend be more emphatic and say with pride that his Department prosecutes more employers than any other Department and is not dealing with prosecutions of employees?

My hon. Friend will realise the difficulty of distinguishing between those who are employers and those who are employees, such as directors of companies.

Fish Distribution, Southampton


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has any statement to make in regard to the fish supplies to Southampton?

From the returns furnished to my Department by the traders in Southampton, it has been computed that the quantity of fish supplied to that town in terms of whole fish was 16,000 stones in January and 11,860 stones in February.

Could my hon. Friend do something still further, because there is great perturbation in towns about fish supplies?

I can only say that in February Southampton received 145 per cent. of its entitlement of the total landings on a per capita basis.

Rationing (Change Of Retailers)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, when the new food ration book period starts in July, the annual option much valued by consumers of changing their retailers will be preserved so that some stimulus to good service will remain?

Eggs (Complaint Of Wastage)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been drawn to a letter published on 18th February in the "Manchester Guardian," from a Mr. Whitson, of Keswick, of which a copy has been sent to him, in which grave allegations are made concerning egg wastage and, in particular, the inability of his Department to find a market for egg producers; and what action he is proposing to take in view of the urgent need for eggs in all parts of the country?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply on this subject which I gave on 11th February to the hon. Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby). The eggs to which reference is made had been incubated by the producer at a temperature of 100° for 18 days, and their only possible use was for breaking out for manufacturing purposes. No question arises of finding a market for egg producers, or of the wastage of eggs suitable for consumption by the general public.

Condemned Imported Commodities


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to the condemnation of supplies of oranges and corned beef, etc., by the sanitary inspector of Golborne, Lancashire; and whether he can give any explanation why these commodities became unfit for human consumption and say on whom the ultimate cost of the loss falls?

I am aware of the condemnations referred to by my hon. Friend. The oranges were Spanish sour oranges and formed part of an allocation to a manufacturer. It is impossible to prevent a proportion of imported fruit from deteriorating while in transit. The corned beef condemned formed part of a consignment of goods which had been rejected by the Ministry's reconditioning agents as unfit for further storage. In both instances the loss falls on the Ministry of Food.

Can the Minister say whether it is possible to arrest the conveyance of such commodities before they reach the traders here?

It is rather a question of arresting them before they reach this country.

Control Committees (Appeals Against Decisions)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether members of the public have a right of appeal to the Minister of Food against decisions of local or regional food control committees, especially where permission has not been granted by these committees for an individual to change his retailer?

Members of the public have no "statutory" right of appeal to the Minister of Food against decisions of local food control committees or divisional food officers. In practice, however, all appeals against decisions are carefully considered.

In view of the fact that certain local food committees like to give the impression that they have complete dictatorial powers in this matter, will my hon. Friend see that his answer is circulated, so that the general public know that they have an opportunity of appealing to the Minister?

I cannot accept the implication in the Supplementary Question, but I think that my original answer will satisfy the hon. and gallant Member's desire.

Recommended Employee, Pontardawe


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what action it is proposed to take in the case of the clerk of the Pontardawe Rural District Council who recommended to him an employee of the council, dismissed and later prosecuted for defalcations, as one having excellent credentials, the said employee afterwards being sentenced to six years' penal servitude for forgery and embezzlement?

The recommendation was given by the official in question whilst serving as food executive officer of the Pontardawe Rural District. He is being suspended from duty pending his reply to the suggestion that he knowingly recommended an unsatisfactory person for employment. My Noble Friend is considering what further steps can appropriately be taken.

Gift Parcels From America


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that a good many well-to-do individuals are receiving regular or occasional parcels of food and small luxuries from the United States of America or Canada; and, seeing that these people are already amply fed, will he stop this unnecessary burden on shipping space?

The receipt by individuals in this country of parcels of food sent by relatives and friends in the U.S.A., the Dominions and other parts of the Empire is not confined to any particular section of the population. This matter is governed by regulations to secure that such gifts are unsolicited, infrequent and small. They may only be sent by mail and cannot to any significant extent occupy space which could be used for other cargo. Liberty to send occasional gifts to friends and relatives in this country is much valued, especially in the Dominions, and complete prohibition would not seem desirable.

Why should we burden shipping even to this small extent with unnecessary luxuries? Is it not the case that some people do receive parcels of cheese and luxuries quite regularly, and that the difficulty of providing shipping is continually put forward as a reason why refugees cannot be rescued and why food cannot be sent abroad to starving children?