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Food Supplies

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

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Potatoes (Shortage)


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the serious shortage of potatoes in London; and what steps is he taking to meet this and the recurrent shortage of the same commodity at periodic intervals.

I am glad to say that the position has greatly improved, and the rain we have just had should add appreciably to the weight of new supplies. Six months ago a shortage of one month's duration was foreseen for the whole country. Energetic measures were taken to conserve the home crop and to import potatoes, with the result that, in spite of the weather, the shortage was reduced to about one week, and restricted chiefly to London and the South-East. Similar action will be taken, if necessary, in future.

Is the Minister aware that on several occasions there have been serious shortages of potatoes in London, and that, ultimately, the Ministry of Food have taken action to divert supplies? Is it not possible in future for such action to be taken fairly early, so that large numbers of families shall not have to go a whole weekend without potatoes?

Since the introduction of bread rationing the consumption of potatoes has increased by 20 per cent and, therefore, it has been found a little difficult to adjust supplies. But I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall try to guarantee that this will not happen again.

Would the hon. Lady say why it was that the large stocks available in the north of Scotland were not tapped before this shortage took place in London?

We are transporting potatoes from the north of Scotland as quickly as we can.

Rationed Food (Home Production)


asked the Minister of Food if he will show for each main item of rationed food the percentage which is home produced.

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The percentage of the total supply of each main item of rationed food which was provided from home production in the year to the end of June, 1947, is as follows:

Liquid milk100
Eggs in shell76
Carcase meat44
Canned corned meatNil
Bacon and ham36
Margarine, lard and compound cooking fat, less than1

Brazilian Meat (Imports)


asked the Minister of Food the reasons for the fall in the quantities of meats and canned meat, respectively, imported from Brazil in 1947 as against the same period in 1946.

From our information on conditions in Brazil, it appears that the supplies of meat in that country have latterly declined while internal consumption has at the same time increased. We are constantly in touch with the Brazilian authorities, but we have not so far been able to get any firm indication as to when the shipments to this country will get back to normal.

Could the hon. Lady give an assurance that the problem has not been aggravated by the desire of the Brazilian Government to be paid in dollars? Could she give an assurance on that point?

I think I can give the assurance. I believe the reason is that consumption in Brazil has increased.



asked the Minister of Food what is the national increase in cost to consumers arising from the raising of the controlled prices of cocoa, chocolate, milk and tea, based on current consumption, stating separately the amounts for each item.

On current consumption, the estimate for 12 months would be: Chocolate and chocolate confectionery, £4½ million; cocoa powder and drinking chocolate, £900,000; Milk, £19 million; tea, £6 million.

From what I have heard, it seems that the total is about £29 million that is to be the increase of the cost of living of the people of this country. Therefore, may I ask the Minister whether this is part of a policy deliberately to inflate prices, because that probably will not accord with the Government's policy of pegging wages? What is the policy on the matter? Are we inflating deliberately, or are we not?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are keeping prices within the cost-of-living index.


asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement showing the increases and decreases in the price of food that have taken place since 1st May in comparison with prices as at 1st January.

The answer calls for a rather long list of figures, and, with permission, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the Minister, however, say this? Are there any decreases in this period, and, roughly, what is the number of decreases and the number of increases?

Will the hon. Lady compare these increases or decreases with the increases that have just been announced in Russia?

Following is the answer:

(Unit: 1 lb. except when otherwise stated.)
Price at 1st January, 1947.Price at 28th June, 1947.Increase + Decrease - over 1st January price.


Various cuts1s. 2d./2s. 5d.11d./2s. 1d.-3d./4d.


(Price in United Kingdom excepting some Scottish Counties).1111-2

Canned Sweet Puddings.

A1 tall or 1 lb. flat cans containing 14½ ozs. net or more of any variety.1014+4

Cereal Breakfast Foods.

Brown & Poison's Wheat Flakes 8 ozs.67+1
C.W.S. Breakfast Flakes 8 ozs.+1
Dalton's Cereal Flakes 8 ozs.6+1½
Farmer's Glory 12 ozs.10+1½
Granose Biscuits 14 ozs.131+1½
Kellogg's Corn Flakes 8 ozs5+1½
Kellogg's Wheat Flakes 8 ozs.
Quaker Malted Corn Flakes 8 ozs.58+3
Quaker Puffed Wheat 8 ozs
Quaker Wheat Flakes 8 ozs.
Sunny bisk (24 biscuits)111+1½
Wafer Wheat Flakes 8 ozs.+1
Weetabix (12 biscuits)+1
Weetabix (24 biscuits)1113+2
Wheat Puffs 8 ozs.89+1


Imported Blue Vein cheese, other than Roquefort cheese imported from France3036+6

Chocolate Confectionery.

Plain Chocolate with or without fruitmainly 2026+6
exceeding 3638+2
Full Cream Milk Chocolate Blocksmainly 26210+4
Blended Chocolate Blocksmainly 22210+8
Moulded Plain and Milk Chocolate lines with hard or soft centres.not exceeding 28 1b.+4
not exceeding 36 1b.+2
Plain and Milk Chocolate Covered Count lines.not exceeding 28 1b.+4
not exceeding 36 1b.+2
Plain and Milk Chocolate Covered Assortments.not exceeding 36 1b.+2
Chocolate Covered Toffees and Caramels.not exceeding 28 lb.+4
not exceeding 36 lb.+2

Dried Fruits.

Dates, other than dates of African origin:—
Dried apples1016+6
Dried plums or prunes1010+2
Dried apricots1619+3
Dried nectarines
Dried peaches
Dried pears


Imported (except specified brands)191
Imported (specified brands)110110½

Meat Products.

Uncooked Beef Sausages11½11+1½
Uncooked Beef Sausage Meat1010½
Potatoes per 7 lbs.5d./8d7d./10d.+2

Soya Flour.

Sale of less than 28 lbs8½lb.10½lb.+2


All varieties of tea (other than China or Formosa) increased by 4d. per lb.+4


asked the Minister of Food the retail price of main fruits and vegetables before price control was withdrawn last autumn; and the comparative retail prices for the same commodities as at the nearest convenient date.

Of the main fruits and vegetables only cabbages, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and leeks were decontrolled in price last autumn. To make a true comparison with the prices then ruling we should have to wait until next autumn as supplies and prices fluctuate with the seasons. I will, however, if he wishes, send my hon. Friend some detailed information about prices which will be of interest to him.

Is the Minister aware that, despite the assurances that have come from her Department that, with the increased supplies of fruit and vegetables, the prices would fall, those assurances have not yet materialised? Can she say whether they are likely to materialise in the near future?

I would remind my hon. Friend that there have been other factors. For instance, we gave open general licences for leafy vegetables during the last month or two. But, unfortunately, on 1st May we had to stop those, because of infestation by Colorado beetle.

Catering Establishment Meals (Calorie Values)


asked the Minister of Food the average calorie value per meal of the 59,000,000 main meals and the 121,000,000 subsidiary meals, respectively, served by catering establishments weekly.

Fat Cattle (Killing-Out Weight)


asked the Minister of Food what was the total estimated killing-out weight of the 30 fat cattle when graded at Fakenham Market, Norfolk, on 8th May, 1947, and the actual weight of meat fit for human consumption when the cattle were slaughtered after arrival at Aldershot.

One of the animals was found dead in the truck. The estimated killing-out weight of the other 29 cattle was 22,299 lb. My Department bought these cattle on the basis of live weight and estimated killing-out percentage; it is the practice not to disclose the dead-weights in the case of such purchases. In this particular case, however, I can assure my hon. Friend that the difference between the estimated and actual weights was less than 2 per cent.

Is not the reason for the loss of killing-out weight of these cattle the fact that they are sent such enormous distances from the slaughter-houses to the consumption centre; and could not that be avoided?

I think the hon. Member knows that the capacity of some of the slaughter-houses is limited. That is why these cattle have to be sent rather long distances on occasions.