Skip to main content

Food Supplies

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 19 May 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Sacks (Size)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will take steps to ensure that sugar and other commodities are bagged in one cwt. instead of two cwt. sacks as at present, so as to relieve the physical strain caused to those who handle them?

Commodities are packed in containers of varying sizes ranging up to 2 cwt. sacks. Owing to the shortage in the supply of jute it would not be possible to restrict the size of the container in all cases to 1 cwt. sacks. In the case of sugar the use of 1 cwt. sacks in place of a 2 cwt. sack would entail an increase in the quantity of jute required of well over 20 per cent.

If the hon. Gentleman's Ministry can possibly do this in the near future, will they take note of the suggestion I have made, especially in view of the fact that some of these workpeople are likely to suffer from rupture because of the heavy weights they have to handle?

We shall be glad to do so. We recognise the force of the hon. Gentleman's request.

North African Products


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Food whether, in view of the victory in Africa of the United Nations, he can make a statement as to the prospects of obtaining dried fruit, sardines and other foodstuffs for consumption in this country?

My Department has been represented in North Africa since the early days of the Allied occupation, and no effort is being spared to ensure that any useful foodstuffs in excess of local needs and of which an exportable surplus exists there are made available to the United Nations.

New Ration Books (Distribution)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of the proposal to issue the new ration books, with National Registration identity cards, to the public in Portsmouth from one centre only; what representations he has received from the municipal council on the subject; and whether he will take steps to meet the objections so far as possible?

I am aware of the proposal to issue new ration books and identity cards in Portsmouth from one centre, and representations have been received from the city council. My Department's local officers will take all possible steps to minimise inconvenience to the public.

If labour shortage is the reason, as I understand it is, cannot the Women's Voluntary Services be called in?

Fish (Prices)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will give details of the prices of the varieties of fish which are below the pre-war price to the consumer; whether fishermen are satisfied with the yield to them; and whether he can state the basis on which they are remunerated?

Local and periodical variations of fish prices before the war make any comparisons with current prices difficult and probably misleading, but it would appear that, in general, the present maximum prices of soles and hake are not above pre-war prices. It is not possible to make detailed comparisons. So far as I have the means to judge, fishermen are, in general, not dissatisfied with their returns. The various sections of fishermen have different bases of remuneration into which fixed wages, poundage on the net return realised by the catch, risk money, share and stocker or perquisites may enter.

Shell Fish (Lobsters)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that lobsters have a maximum retail price of 3s. 3d. per lb. where there is no maximum wholesale price; that hotels are buying them wholesale at 5s. 6d. per lb. and that consequently there are none available for the public; and will he take action in the matter?


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will consider a revision of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Food (Shell Fish) Order (Statutory Rule and Order, 1943, No. 631), having regard to the fact that the maximum prices fixed are such that supplies are not likely to be available to the public?

I saw a report in a newspaper to the effect that hotels were buying lobsters at 5s. 6d. a lb. An immediate and exhaustive investigation failed to reveal evidence of any sort to justify the report or that prices above the maximum were being paid by any buyers. In any case the current maximum price of 3s. 3d. a lb. applies to any sale of lobsters. The effect of the Order on supplies and distribution is being watched, and my Noble Friend will take any further action which may be necessary in the light of experience.

I shall be glad to have the facts on which my hon. and gallant Friend's Question is based.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Member for Plaistow received two lovely crabs free of charge yesterday?

Is there no difference between the wholesale price and the retail price?

Milk (Cleanliness)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that caps from previous fillings are frequently found at the bottom of bottles of pasteurised milk; whether the caps are pasteurised; and what steps he is taking to ensure the cleanliness of the milk supply?

My right hon. Friend has heard of a single instance of this. The enforcement of the relevant Regulations is a matter for local authorities, and he has recently taken the opportunity of asking them to concentrate attention upon cleanliness in method of production, treatment and distribution.

Is the hon. Lady aware that this Question was put down to the Ministry of Food, and an: I to understand that they disclaim any responsibility for the purity of the food supply?

Cleanliness of milk comes under the supervision of local authorities and therefore under the Ministry of Health.

Is the hon. Lady aware that this Question has nothing to do with pasteurisation, and that as the same accident in production may occur to sterilised milk, raw milk, T.T. milk or any other kind of milk, it does not reflect on the method of pasteurisation?

In view of the hon. Lady's last reply, may I ask what her Department is doing with a view to providing safe milk for the public?

Ministry Of Food (Public Relations Department)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food how many men of military age are employed in the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Food; how many are in the respective military grades; and whether he will consider replacing the men in the higher categories by women or by men of lower military categories or over military age?

The number of males of military age employed is 11, all of whom by reason of the fact that they were over 30 at the time of registration, are reserved under existing arrangements applicable to Government Departments generally. So long as these arrangements continue the question of replacement does not arise. One was invalided out of the Navy; one has been placed in Grade 11; no others has been examined for the purpose of medical classification.