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East Midland Food Controller (Resignation)

Volume 440: debated on Monday 21 July 1947

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10.

asked the Minister of Food if his attention has been called to an anti-Semitic statement made by Brigadier Ford, East Midland Food Controller, to a party of German journalists paying an official visit to his region; and what action he is taking.

18.

asked the Minister of Food if his attention has been called to the official statement, made by Brigadier V. T. R. Ford, Regional Food Controller, at Nottingham, to the effect that black-market offences are committed chiefly by Jews; and what disciplinary action he proposes to take.

A full and careful official inquiry has been made into this matter. The report of this inquiry has established that Brigadier Ford made certain statements to a group of German journalists visiting this country, which could be construed as casting reflections on the Jewish race. He has assured those of my officers who conducted the inquiry that this was not his intention, and I accept this assurance. Nevertheless, it is essential that a divisional food officer, who is my chief representative in a region, should not only administer the affairs of his area impartially, but that his impartiality should be evident in everything that he does and says. I regret that the recent incident has shown a failure in this all-important requirement. Notwithstanding the satisfactory services which Brigadier Ford has rendered to the Ministry of Food in the past, I decided that I had to accept the recommendations of the official inquiry. Brigadier Ford has placed his resignation in my hands, and I have accepted it.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that very satisfactory reply, may I take it that steps will also be taken to remove from the minds of the German journalists concerned any impression they may have received that the heresies of Streicher and Goebbels have any official support in this country?

I should hope that this careful inquiry into the matter, and the action following it, would have that effect.

I think the right hon. Gentleman referred to an inquiry which was instituted; are we to suppose that the findings of that inquiry, or part of them, will be made public? That would be desirable in view of the action taken.

No, Sir. I wish to make it clear that the matter was dealt with under proper Civil Service procedure, and the relevant and responsible officers of my Department went into the case most carefully, and reported to me.

While it is obviously desirable that racial feeling should not be introduced into this country —and we are all agreed on that—is not the balance being thrown in the wrong direction? If it is the case that a certain race are concerned with the majority of these offences, is it wrong to say so?

No, Sir. If it could be proved, or any evidence were produced, that offences against food orders were committed by disproportionate numbers of any one particular race, I do not think anyone could object to the facts being made public, but there is no evidence of that at all.