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Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War how many complaints he has received stating that the men serving in the Army do not get enough nutritious food; and whether he is satisfied with the quality and quantity of food supplies.

Although it is not possible to give the exact number of complaints received, they do not, for both Home and Overseas Commands, amount to more than two or three a week. In any case the majority of complaints refer to deficiencies in catering arrangements in particular units, rather than to any inadequacy of the Army ration, and are of a minor character. I am satisfied that the food provided for the troops is of good quality.

As regards quantity, my Department, together with the other Service Departments, is in constant touch with the Ministry of Food. During the present difficult food situation the object is to ensure that the ration scales provide a diet for the soldier equivalent to that available to civilians who are engaged in comparable work.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the resolution passed recently at a women's conference and given great publicity in the Press declaring that the insufficiency of the food supply is endangering the health and stamina of our men, especially those doing outdoor work? Will he give an assurance that he will take up any specific case where evidence is brought of this so that he can take action?

I saw the resolution referred to by my hon. Friend, and it is quite inconsistent with the facts. As regards specific complaints, I shall, of course, deal with them when they come along.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of the complaints refer not so much to the quantity of the food as to the manner in which it is cooked, and will he consider appointing some suitable staff officer with a knowledge of this matter who will pay surprise visits to units to see that the catering arrangements are properly carried out?

I do not think that surprise visits are required. Generally speaking, the cooking arrangements are excellent. There are occasional units where perhaps it is not as good as it might be. We are having all these matters attended to.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a serious glut of oatmeal in Scotland and would it not be an excellent and nutritious dish for these soldiers?

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman is aware, oatmeal is not everybody's cup of tea.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is satisfied that an adequate supper is now provided each evening for all young soldiers serving in basic training units.

The soldier is entitled to all his meals at public expense, including supper every night if he wants it. An instruction has recently been issued reminding unit commanders of their responsibility in this matter. So far as I am aware, units, including training units, are serving supper every night to those who require it.

Could the Minister say what is the substance of the adequate supper that is now provided for these boys in basic training units?

Well, I could hardly be expected to recite the menu unless I got notice of the question.