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Food Supplies

Volume 464: debated on Monday 2 May 1949

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asked the Minister of Food whether maize will be included in the list of United Kingdom requirements to be obtained with the second annual instalment of Marshall Aid.

The programme for spending dollars received by the United Kingdom in the second year of Marshall Aid has not yet been settled, and I regret that I cannot, therefore, answer the hon. Member's Question.

Would not it be a very good thing to include maize instead of buying pork, which must be a very much more expensive way of using our dollars?

Will the right hon. Lady bear in mind the vital importance of having maize, and having it early in the year, for pig breeding?

Fish Friers (Fats Allocation)


asked the Minister of Food what improvement there has been during the last financial year in the supply of fats to fish friers; and whether he expects any increase in the present financial year.

During the last financial year arrangements were made whereby no fish frier now receives less than four cwt. of fat for each eight week period. In addition more than 3,000 new licences were granted. There is no prospect of any further increase in the next few months, but consideration will be given to the needs of new housing estates.

Is not the right hon. Lady aware that, even with the improvement that there has been in the industrial areas, there is a very great feeling that the present ration is quite insufficient, and will she again review the subject with the idea of increasing the ration?

We are always looking at it. I, of course, realise that every area would like a little more fat for fried fish.

Can the right hon. Lady tell us who are her advisers as to local requirements in these cases? Are they from the local food committee?

in view of the shortage of meat and the desperate need for more fried fish and chips, is it not possible to purchase more fats from other countries like New Zealand, where I understand they are available?

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that we look at every country where we believe that there is fat available.

Retail Licence (Sweets)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will grant a licence for the sale of sweets to Mr. V. A. Larkman, Bank Road Post Office and Stores, Bank Road, Devizes, in view of the public demand for it, concerning which he has received correspondence.

My right hon. Friend grants new licences for the present only where the existing shops in an area are not able to meet the needs of the public: There are two shops selling sweets within 300 yards of Mr. Larkman's premises and we should not therefore be justified in giving him a licence.

Might I ask the right hon. Lady, first, whether she listened to the broadcast of the Lord President of the Council the other night, when he stated that the policy of the Socialist Party was to grant freedom to retail traders; and secondly, whether she is aware that, though there are those two shops, it is the evidence of the local inhabitants that those shops are not able to provide a sufficiency of sweets for the people?

I think that if the hon. Gentleman goes round his constituency he will discover that there are 40 sweet shops in the Borough of Devizes.

Algerian Wine


asked the Minister of Food how much Algerian wine has been Withdrawn from bond since 5th April, 1949.

No figures of withdrawals of wines from bond since 5th April, 1949, are available.

Does that reply mean that they are unknown, or that it is not in the public interest to give them?

If the hon. Gentleman had a little more information on the subject, he would know that the figures are published in the Trade and Navigation Returns in the following month.

Is it not a fact that Algerian wine is good only for salad dressing?

As the right hon. Lady has not been able to answer a previous question, could she perhaps tell us how much of this wine was actually drunk and with what result?

Enforcement Inspectors (Visits)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that farmers in Lincolnshire have been visited by inspectors on Sundays and whether he will make it clear to his Department that these visits are giving offence, and give instructions that such inspections and visits should be limited to weekdays.

No complaints have been received about such visits. For enforcement duties to be carried out efficiently enforcement inspectors cannot work to a rigid timetable, and therefore I am afraid I am unable to give the instructions suggested by the hon. and gallant Member.

Is it not really horrifying that these people should be visited on Sundays; they object to it, and surely there are six days when the inspectors could do their work, and ought they not to leave the seventh day alone?

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman believe that the potential illicit slaughterer is not prepared to practise on a Sunday?

Agricultural Workers (Meat)


asked the Minister of Food what is now the value of the allowance of meat made to British and foreign agricultural workers who live in hostels; what is the equivalent allowance made to workers in heavy industry who live at home and who take one main meal a day at a factory canteen; and what is the value of the allowance of meat to agricultural workers who live at home but who have no canteen available.

The weekly allowances are as follow: Agricultural worker living in hostel and taking 12 main meals a week, 2s. 6d.; Industrial worker using canteen for five main meals a week, 2s. 5d.; Agricultural worker without canteen, 1s. 1d.

Does not the right hon. Lady think that it is extremely unfair on the agricultural worker who has not got a canteen to which he can go?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that I have answered this question on many occasions. We recognise that the agricultural worker should have his ration supplemented. That is why we give him an extra 12 oz. of cheese and extra allowances including butter and sugar during certain seasonal operations, and, of course, extra sugar and tea for hot drinks.

Will the right hon. Lady consider offering the agricultural worker the opportunity of having either the cheese or the extra meat, and then see what happens?

Has the right hon. Lady ever actually seen the amount of cheese which the agricultural worker gets each day, and is it not really a perfect mockery compared with what workers in other industries get?

Retail Prices


asked the Minister of Food to state the main uncontrolled items of food, fruit and vegetables the retail prices of which have fallen by comparison with any convenient period in 1947.

ItemUnitApproximate average prices during seven week period to end MarchApproximate reduction in price
Savoy cabbage1b.3
Other cabbage1b.3
Brussels sprouts1b.11



asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to remove potatoes, which have been purchased by his Department, which are in clamps so sited as to make the proper cultivation of the land difficult.

Preference will be given to the movement of such potatoes provided the loading of deteriorating stocks is not hindered. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, I will gladly look into it if he will send me details.