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Food Supplies

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1949

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asked the Minister of Food by what authority the instruction that a person wishing to fatten a pig must register it at the Post Office is described in leaflet L.L.P. of his Department as a regulation.

Under article 2 of the Livestock (Restriction on Slaughtering) Order, 1947, no pig may be killed for human consumption except under a licence. It is our practice only to grant a slaughtering licence to a person who has registered his pig at a Food Office. The leaflet L.L.P. is issued for the information of domestic pig keepers and sets out the procedure subject to which a licence is granted.


asked the Minister of Food by what authority it is stated in form D.L.P. (A) of his Department that a person making a false statement when registering a pig is liable to three months' imprisonment, a fine of £100, or both.

The authority is paragraph (2) of Regulation 82 and paragraph (1) of Regulation 92 of the Defence Regulations.

Potatoes (Consumption)


asked the Minister of Food whether, in order to make the best use of available stocks, he will re-establish on a suitable scale, the "Eat-MorePotato" campaign.

No, Sir. Consumption has already returned to about the level it reached as a result of the strong publicity campaign of the war years.

Will there be an "Eat-more-meat" campaign in the immediate future?



asked the Minister of Food when he expects the supply of bananas to be increased so that they may be purchased by all who want them.

Our imports of bananas are increasing and by longterm contracts and in other ways we are doing what we can to increase them still further. At present, however, the supplies we can get amount to little more than half the pre-war quantity and I am afraid that it may be some time before we have a full supply.

Would the right hon. Lady make a special effort to get more fruit into this country between now and our own fruit growing season in view of the general scarcity of fruit?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in accordance with evidence which I have submitted to her Department, children in the St. John's Wood area, as one example, are not getting the bananas intended for them, and.will she do something about it?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that ample quantities of bananas are obtainable in France at quite reasonable prices for anyone who wants them? Surely we are much more a banana producing Empire at the present time than the French?

May I take it from the right hon. Lady's answer that she regards the banana as a vegetable and not a fruit?

Castor Beans And Oil


asked the Minister of Food what stock of castor beans and castor oil he has in this country; what was the average price of purchase; at what price he expects to realise them; and for what period he expects them to last.

It is not in the public interest to disclose information about our purchase prices or stocks. Our present selling prices are £142 and £135 per ton according to quality.

Would the Minister say whether these stocks have deteriorated and whether they have been stored in well-constructed warehouses?

As far as I know they have been properly stored. If the hon. Gentleman has any information I shall be only too pleased to look at it.

Sugar Ration (Babies)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider increasing the sugar ration for bottle fed babies since many mothers find it impossible to make the present ration sufficient for the four week period.

No, Sir; experts on infant feeding were agreed when the sugar ration stood at eight ounces a week that this provided sufficient sugar for the normal baby. It is now 10 ounces.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some mothers are complaining that the children do not get sufficient sugar and that they have to use the rations of the family for the purpose of supplementing the allowance for the children?

If my hon. Friend will work this out I think he will find that a baby feed needs one-and-a-half tea-spoonsful of sugar. There are eight tea-spoonsful to an ounce, and if you have five feeds a day that is sufficient.

Milk (Price)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will reduce the price of milk during the period when any quantity is available so that those people who can only afford to spend a certain weekly amount on this most useful food can reap the benefit of the extra quantities obtainable.

No, Sir. Milk is heavily subsidised and I should not be justified in adding to the subsidy by reducing the retail price. Expectant mothers and children under five already receive a pint a day at reduced prices.

Will the right hon. Lady explain why she subsidises any such commodity as meat, which is in inadequate supply, yet refuses to subsidise milk, which is freely available at the present time?

I have already said that we are subsidising milk at the rate of £62 million this year.

Meat (Imports From France)


asked the Minister of Food what is the size of the meat surplus which France has offered to him as available for export during the next six months; and how much of it he hopes to buy for this country.

The French Authorities have informed us that a few thousand tons of frozen pork are likely to be available for export to this country during the next few months. We will buy all this pork if price and quality are satisfactory and provided that arrangements for safeguarding animal health can be made effective.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that certain newspapers are giving the impression that France has a considerable surplus of meat available for immediate sale to this country and that her Department is wantonly refusing to take it? For the sake of the people of this country, will she please make it quite clear that that is not the situation?

I am only too pleased to make it quite clear that we are co-operating with the French authorities in this matter.

Can the Minister say why we are not getting meat from Ireland instead of horseflesh from the Continent?

West Indies Sugar (Price)


asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement with regard to Jamaica's request for an increase of £3 a ton for sugar purchased from the island by Britain.

His Majesty's Government announced in December last that the price of £27 5s. per ton paid in 1948 to Colonial producers of raw sugar would be maintained for the 1949 crops. Careful consideration was given to the British West Indian request for an increase of £3 per ton, but it was decided that no increase over the 1948 price could be justified.

May I ask my right hon. Friend to see that, in these negotiations, the price of cane sugar will not be based at all on the price of sugar from beet?

We take into account the price of both when we are considering the price to be paid.

Transjordan (Britishtroops)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has given to the request of the Transjordan Government that British troops should patrol the frontier of Transjordan from Aqaba to the Dead Sea; and what action he proposes to take.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) on 28th March.

Can the Minister say whether there is any truth in the statement that the Transjordan Government did not request our Government to send troops there? Can he make a statement on that matter?

They made a request to us in the terms which I described in the answer to which I have referred.

Building Workers (Service Departments)


asked the Minister of Works how many building workers were employed on 1st March on building work for the Army, Navy and Air Forces.

It is estimated that at the end of January, 1949, approximately 27,500 building and civil engineering workers were employed on work for the Service Departments.

Will not the Minister consider releasing some of these 27,000 men to build houses needed for workers in the slums and for people in overcrowded conditions?

A number of these men were employed in building houses needed for members of the Services.

East African Groundnut Scheme (Fertilisers)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantities of nitrogenous fertilisers have been exported from the United Kingdom to assist the East African groundnut scheme in the new system of crop rotation.

About 1,350 tons of sulphate of ammonia from the United Kingdom have been sent to East Africa for use in the groundnut scheme.

Does the Minister realise that there is a very great shortage of this product for fertilisers for use in this country and that it is essential for British agriculture?

There is a general shortage of which we are well aware, but we do our best to apportion it in the required quantities where it will most help our economy.