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Food Supplies

Volume 465: debated on Monday 30 May 1949

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Extra Rations (Agricultural Workers)

31.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction caused by the discrimination between the agricultural worker and the agricultural smallholder in respect of extra rations; and whether he will extend to the latter category the extra rations already allowed to the former.

Allowances for seasonal farming operations are already available to smallholders and agricultural workers alike. We are unable to extend the special cheese ration to self-employed workers since, as a general rule, they are able to make arrangements for obtaining a midday meal.

35.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that, although under form S.A.4 (AG) farm workers are allowed extra seasonal allowances for the hoeing and singling of roots, extra rations have been refused to men who are hoeing kale in the same field; and whether, in view of the fact that the jobs are identical, he will take immediate steps to put an end to this anomaly.

The farming operations for which seasonal allowances are given were selected after consultation with the Advisory Committee of the Trades Union Congress, and we do not propose to add to the list.

May I ask the right hon. Lady if she is not aware that this is further evidence of want of co-operation between the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Agriculture? Is she further aware that the situation was described to me by a farmer who said, "Don't worry, Waldron, this is the last bit of Socialist folly of Comrade John and our Edith."

The right hon. Lady says she will not reconsider the matter. Will not she put the question again to the unions because it is clear to all of us who live in the country districts there is an anomaly here which ought to be seen into?

The right hon. Gentleman must realise that we have to draw the line somewhere, and I think he would agree that the Advisory Committee of the Trade Union Congress does take everything into consideration.

Does the right hon. Lady realise that there are a great number of people living in the country who also take these things into consideration and have views which ought to be considered, too?

Is not this further proof that the T.U.C. are masters of this country?

Imitation Honey

32.

asked the Minister of Food what are the ingredients of imitation honey; and what is its value as food in comparison with that of real honey.

The principal ingredient of imitation honey is invert sugar—[HON. MEMBERS: "What?"]—invert sugar. It sometimes contains other forms of sugar and may be flavoured, for example, with natural honey. There is no appreciable difference between the food values of imitation honey and natural honey.

Invert sugar is the result of breaking up the sucrose with acid. It is a mixture of glucose and fructose.

Can the right hon. Lady say whether there is any difference in taste between real honey and imitation honey?

Was not the recipe of this honey fully described in "Let us Face the Future"?

Confectionery Exports

33.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will now define his policy in relation to the export of confectionery to countries with which Britain has a favourable balance of trade with special reference to the urgent and increasing home demand.

Exports of chocolate and sugar confectionery in 1949 to countries with which we have a favourable balance of trade will not exceed the limited amounts exported to them in 1948. Our object is to retain our connection with these markets, principally in Commonwealth countries and Colonial possessions.

Does not the Minister fully realise the urgent need to give an additional allocation at home? It is no use derationing without giving a proper allocation. Why not ensure that there is a proper allocation? It would work if only the right hon. Lady gave an adequate quantity.

The hon. Member should have thought of that before he pressed for derationing.

Fish (Foreign Landings)

36.

asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to deal with a recurrence of the recent loss sustained by British fishermen when large catches were unsaleable for edible purposes owing to large scale foreign landings.

I presume the hon. Member is referring to the loss incurred during the week ended 21st May, when 825 tons of edible white fish were sent to the meal works at the four largest ports, out of 19,500 tons landed. In the light of these figures I cannot accept the implication that foreign landings are causing large losses.

Is it not also a fact that much of the fish landed fetches a very poor price; and what is the sense in sending out ships and using coal, men and ships to bring back nothing of value and at the same time paying foreign currency for landings elsewhere?

The hon. Member must realise that the general demand for fish is very good, but we cannot equate supply to demand every day.

Would not this problem disappear if the Ministry of Food refused to accept fish collected all round the coast of Iceland and brought here in cargo vessels? Why does not the Ministry insist on the same procedure with our fish as with fish bought for Germany, that is, that it goes on the actual catching trawler direct from the grounds to the port of Hamburg?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, if there is congestion at certain ports we are allowed to suspend landings.

Evw Camps (Meat Ration)

39.

asked the Minister of Food how many British subjects are living in European voluntary workers camps in England and Wales, and are in receipt of the full meat ration; and how many of them are doing work that entitles European voluntary workers to this ration.

Ninety-two thousand, two hundred workers, of whom 51,700 are foreign, are living in industrial or agricultural camps and hostels and get the allowances of food on either the industrial "A" or "B" scales.

Will the right hon. Lady say what steps are taken to ensure that unauthorised persons do not get an extra meat ration, because there is great resentment at this in rural areas?

The only answer I can give is that we have very responsible men in charge who are there for the purpose of preventing it from happening.

Carrot Control

40.

asked the Minister of Food if he is now in position to make a statement on the termination of the carrot control.

No, Sir, I am not in a position to make a statement on the final termination of carrot control, but so far as the 1949 crop is concerned my right hon. Friend does not propose to control the price until the 1st November, and will not re-introduce licensing of traders.

Would the right hon. Lady consider retaining enough carrots to dangle in front of the electorate at the next Election?

Imported Fruit (Allocations)

41.

asked the Minister of Food what proposals he has for providing wholesalers who started business since 1939 with allocations of fruits imported and controlled by his Department.

I am sorry that I am not at present in a position to add anything to the reply on this subject given by my right hon. Friend on 2nd March.

Could my right hon. Friend say whether the difficulty is technical, since this change is so desirable; and could not she decide on one of the two most favoured schemes put forward, so that this very desirable objective can be achieved?

There are wider issues. We are considering the de-control of citrus fruit.