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Food Supplies

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1943

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Fish (Maximum Prices) Order

51.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food for what reason the Food (Fish) Order (S.R. & O. No. 558, 1943) altered the date in article 24 of the Fish (Maximum Prices) Order, 1943, from 10th April to 12th June?

The date was postponed following discussions with representatives of the fishing industry, the object being to provide additional time for the negotiation of scales of wages of trawler crews.

Milk

52.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the time that London milk is kept from production to distribution to the consumer?

I am informed that the time varies in general from a few hours to 48 hours, according to the distance the milk has to travel.

Is the Minister aware that my information is to the effect that some of this milk is four or five days old, or even more? Is it the wish of his noble Friend to insist that all the community should be compelled to drink this stale fluid, in spite of the fact that the death-rate from tuberculosis among children has increased enormously in some of our towns where the milk is already pasteurised?

55.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food how many complaints he has received from the City of Oxford regarding the operation of the milk zoning scheme; and whether he has any statement to make?

Apart from the complaints sent to my Noble Friend by my hon. Friend, only one other complaint has been received by my Department regarding the scheme for the rationalisation of milk deliveries in Oxford. The complaints referred to are receiving attention, and if any adjustments prove to be necessary, they will be made within a few days.

Will the Minister bear in mind the suggestion that people should be allowed to fetch their milk from the retailer of their choice, having regard to the fact that that would not cause the use of any additional petrol or rubber?

I think that point is being dealt with in the reply being prepared for my hon. Friend.

56.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of the disquiet in Manchester at the poor quality of milk supplied to the inhabitants and the fact that last summer thousands of gallons of milk were unfit for pasteurisation on account of souring and that 75 per cent. of the milk supplied to schoolchildren was unsatisfactory; and whether he will take the requisite steps to see that an adequate supply of Grade A milk is supplied to Manchester?

While precise complaints of the character suggested by my hon. Friend in the second and third parts of his Question have not been brought to my notice, representations have been made to my Department about the quality of milk supplied in the Manchester district. These representations are receiving consideration, and I will communicate further with my hon. Friend.

Is not the Minister aware that this matter is gravely disturbing the mind of the local medical officer of health? Is he further aware that several wholesale milk distributors would gladly refuse acceptance of this impure and unclean milk but are compelled to take it, on the advice of the Ministry of Food, and are compelled to mix this low-grade milk with the high-grade milk? Is not that a contamination that could be avoided?

I am aware of the concern of the local authority in this matter. Certain adjustments are to be made in the areas from which the Manchester milk is collected, and I hope that they will cause very considerable improvement.

Is it not better to throw away the sour milk than to mix good and bad milk together?

Surplus Oats

53.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, whether he can give an assurance that the necessary arrangements have been made for the speedy clearance of surplus oats from the farms after this year's harvest; and whether he is satisfied that adequate storage accommodation is at the disposal of his Department?

Beef Cattle (Quality)

54.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is satisfied that the effect of the existing price structure for beef is not to discourage the breeding of high quality cattle?

I have no reason to believe that the existing price structure discourages the breeding of high quality cattle.

Is it not a fact that the quality of beef cattle has steadily deteriorated during the past two years?

Fish Distribution

57.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will permit consumers who are registered with shops which do not sell fish, to transfer their registrations to those which do, in view of the adoption by the latter of the practice of only selling fish to registered customers who are thereby able to obtain much larger supplies of fish than the generality of consumers?

Is the Minister proposing to restrict the supplies to these dealers who are restricting the number of people whom they propose to serve?

I made inquiries into the case of the store to which I think the hon. Member's Question refers. I think the store are making a very laudable effort to distribute their fish supplies fairly among all their customers, without under-the-counter sales. In any case, fish supplies are now so abundant that the store are not operating their scheme. Moreover, they did not confine their distribution merely to customers registered for other commodities.

Tomatoes, London

58.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what supplies of tomatoes have been disposed through London wholesale markets since the price was last controlled; and what proportion was disposed of to retailers in Battersea?

I am not in a position to supply the information for which the hon. Member asks.

The Price Control Order came into force on 19th April. Since then a very small quantity of tomatoes has come into the market, but the records do not show what the amount was or where the tomatoes have gone to. The allocation has not yet begun.