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Vacuum Flasks, Cornwall

Volume 441: debated on Monday 28 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Agriculture why the agricultural workers in Cornwall, who require a minimum of 1,500 permits a week for vacuum flasks, have been granted only between 150 and 200 permits; if he is aware that this will inflict hardship upon these vital food workers who are unable to obtain hot meals and have no canteen facilities; and if he will increase the allocation.

My Department's allocation is only 14,000 permits a month for the whole of England and Wales. The distribution of the permits is undertaken by the farmers' and farm workers' organisations, which consider the relative needs of each county. I regret that the total allocation cannot be increased at present. Agriculture already has a larger share than any other industry.

That is not a satisfactory reply. The agricultural community in Cornwall are not at all satisfied. Is the Minister aware that a Question was asked on 21st April with regard to importation; and that the import licence was refused? Will the Minister review that matter and press his right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade to get something done?

I regret that there is a shortage, but the hon. Member's figures vary from time to time. When he put down his last Question, he suggested that only 1,000 flasks were required. He now suggests that 1,500 are required.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are 16,000 farmworkers in Cornwall and about 16,000 farmers, not including their families, and that these flasks are essential to production?

I have already informed the hon. Member that distribution is determined by the National Farmers Union and the Agricultural Workers' Union, who try to meet the needs of each county according to the number of employees.

Arising out of the Minister's answer to my supplementary question, in regard to the 1,500 and the 1,000, I am perfectly well aware of this fact, but is the Minister aware that the demand has increased, and that this is supported by the National Farmers' Union of Cornwall?

Is the Minister aware that these flasks are available in big stores, provided one buys all the picnic equipment which goes with them?