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Merchant Seamen (Rationed Food)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 24 March 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that merchant seamen, when ashore, are unable to obtain an emergency ration card from a local food office; and, as this causes hardship, will he take steps to see that these men are enabled to obtain, without undue inconvenience, their fair share of rationed foods?

I have been asked to reply. Temporary ration documents for use ashore by merchant seamen are issued at Mercantile Marine offices under arrangements made by the Ministry of War Transport in conjunction with the Ministry of Food. These arrangements are comprehensive and it is only rarely that a merchant seamen should find it necessary to have recourse to a food office. In such a case the Food Office will issue a temporary card for one week, and tell the seaman to communicate with any convenient Mercantile Marine office. I shall be happy to inquire into any case in which difficulty has arisen.

Is there any reason why a merchant seaman should not be treated as an ordinary traveller and given an emergency ration card so as to enable him to get food in any area in which he finds himself?

I think that the arrangements are much more to the advantage of the merchant seamen. If we can improve them, we shall be glad to do so.

But what is the objection to giving the merchant seaman an emergency ration card to enable him to get food in any area in which he happens to be?