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Food Supplies

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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Hostel, Shanklin (Prosecution)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will now make a further statement regarding the action being taken by his Department in respect of the simultaneous issue in the last week of February of eight weeks bacon ration to the Manor House Hostel, Shanklin, Isle of Wight.

Proceedings having been instituted, the matter is sub judice, and it would not be proper for me to say more in reply to a Question which appears to pre-judge the issue to be tried by the court.

Eire Food Circulars


asked the Minister of Food whether his attention has been drawn to circulars sent from Eire to addresses in the United Kingdom offering foodstuffs for purchase; how far his regulations permit such proceedings; and whether he will make a public announcement on the position.

Yes, Sir. We have no jurisdiction over traders in Eire who send these circulars, but anyone in the United Kingdom buying rationed foods offered in this way is committing an offence against The Food [Rationing] (General Provisions) Order.

Will the right hon. Lady undertake to give the maximum publicity to that statement, because many people in this country do not realise it?



asked the Minister of Food whether priority and non-priority consumers are entitled to a share of the extra eggs which are now available.

Fats Allocation


asked the Minister of Food if he will allocate more butter or margarine to those who pot and preserve shrimps and other fish.

No, Sir. We are giving the highest allowance possible to all food manufacturers and processors, and we cannot increase the rate of allocation to any specific class of manufacturer at present.

In view of the shortage of meat, would not the right hon. Lady agree that this would be a valuable way of getting food of a high protein value, such as Morecambe shrimps, and will she undertake to reconsider this question?

I am very sympathetic, but I must remind the hon. Gentleman that it needs half a pound of margarine for every quart of shrimps.


asked the Minister of Food if, in view of the reduced meat ration, he will increase the fat allocation to enable larger quantities of fish to be cooked in the home.

The total fats ration has been increased twice during the past 15 months and is now higher than it has ever been since January, 1942. Naturally we shall increase it again as soon as we can, but at the moment this is not possible.

When the right hon. Lady talks about the fat ration, does she realise the necessity and desirability for the people to eat more fish, and that unless they get the fats with which to cook it, they cannot do so because they cannot live on steamed fish? Will she look into the matter?

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that we are looking for fats everywhere.

Meat Ration


asked the Minister of Food what is the estimated number of persons entitled to the higher scale of meat ration; what quantity of meat is thus supplied weekly; and whether, in view of the reduced meat ration in force today, he will consider the need to permit agricultural workers to be in the higher scale, or to remove all restrictions on pig-keeping by agricultural workers so that they can obtain increased quantities of food.

The number of consumers who receive individual allowances of meat in excess of the general ration is 1,180,000 involving the issue of 470 tons of meat weekly. In view of the very serious meat supply position, my right hon. Friend regrets that he is unable to allow an increased ration for agricultural workers. An agricultural worker is under less stringent conditions than other pig keepers and is allowed to kill two pigs a year. The restrictions on self-supplier pig-keeping must be maintained for the present in order to prevent abuse.

Will the right hon. Lady consider some method of increasing the meat ration for agricultural workers who are unable to keep pigs?

In the light of the Debate yesterday the hon. Gentleman will agree that things are difficult.

Does the right hon. Lady realise that agricultural workers are in a position of special disadvantage as they have no access to works canteens?


asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the decrease in the meat ration, an increased allowance will be made for diabetics whose special ration was fixed when the meat ration was 1s. 4d. per week.

My medical advisers, the Food Rationing (Special Diets) Advisory Committee of the Medical Research Council, are now considering the whole question of the present level of meat supplies in relation to all classes of invalids, including diabetics.



asked the Minister of Food whether he will state the tonnage of ware potatoes still in clamp on the farms; and what steps are being taken to ensure that the large surplus is being diverted to manufacture.

It is estimated that there were 2½ million tons of ware potatoes on farms in Great Britain on 1st March. My Department is very actively engaged in moving the surplus for stock-feeding and processing, and factories are working to full capacity seven days a week.

Can we be assured that all potatoes of last year's crop, if they do not go for human consumption, will at least find their way into industrial uses?

Would the right hon. Lady be prepared to consider what I believe to be a practical scheme of linking the profitable consumption of surplus potatoes with the problem of the man or woman who wants to keep a pig? Will she be prepared to consider a proposal which I should like to put before her?

Certainly, Sir. I am always prepared to consider proposals, especially from the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Can the right hon. Lady confirm that 70,000 tons a week are now going to processing? How long will she be able to maintain that amount?

Thirty-two thousand tons are going to stockfeeding and I believe that the quantity mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman goes for processing.

Cream (Hill Farms)


asked the Minister of Food if whilst milk is derationed, he will permit farmers in hill areas who do not sell liquid milk to make and sell cream under conditions similar to those submitted to him in the Exmoor Scheme in 1947.

It would be difficult to restrict such a concession to isolated farmers and any widespread manufacture of cream would divert milk away from products which are more urgently required. However, we are looking at the question again and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as I can.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this scheme relates only to those farms which through inaccessibility or for other reasons have never been able to contribute to the general milk pool? Therefore it could not possibly affect the milk ration, but-it would help the farmers in such areas.

I fully realise that, but we are a little fearful lest it might be abused.

Individual Rations (Points)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider increasing the number of points available to households of one person, in view of the difficulties such people experience in getting any satisfactory variety of the foods available on points.

I am sympathetic to the difficulties mentioned by my hon. Friend but I am afraid it is impracticable to meet them in this way.

Will my right hon. Friend at least take steps to see that goods under the points rationing system are put up in smaller packages so that people who have only one or two ration books can have a larger variety of foods in their diet?

I will consider that, but my hon. Friend must realise that it needs more tinplate to provide two tins for two people instead of one tin for two people.



asked the Minister of Food what was the total head of home produced fatstock, under their separate headings, purchased by his Department for the year 1948.

Sheep and Lambs5,933,796

*Including 275,693 imported as stores from Eire.

Pig Production, Queensland


asked the Minister of Food the progress made in Queensland in the breeding of pigs for the United Kingdom; and when we may expect deliveries of bacon and what amount is expected.

The operations of the Queensland British Food Corporation have so far been concentrated on the production of sorghum and pig production is beginning this year only on a small scale. The first export of pork will not take place until the middle of 1950 at the earliest. We have purchased the exportable surplus of sorghum from this year's crop for use as an animal feedingstuff in the United Kingdom.

I cannot answer that, but I am sure that the Overseas Food Corporation would be only too pleased to give my hon. Friend any details.

Eire (Sausages)


asked the Minister of Food if he will state the total amount of sausages per week offered by Eire; and if agreement has been reached on this offer.

We had one offer of about 400 pounds weight per week; we are now awaiting samples.

Is it the case that substantial offers have been made to fly sausages over, and in view of the scarcity of sausages here, will the right hon. Lady see that her Department considers such offers sympathetically?

Certainly, Sir. We are prepared to receive samples by air, but I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that they must comply with certain meat content requirements.

Yugoslavia (Grain)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will state the quantity of coarse grain imported from Yugoslavia under the trade agreement during the years 1948 and 1949, to date; and the price paid per ton.

Shipment of the 75,000 metric tons of maize purchased under the 1948 agreement began in January, 1949. Approximately 71,442 metric tons have been imported to date. The contract price was £21 10s. per metric ton, C. and F.