Skip to main content

Chocolates And Sweets

Volume 466: debated on Monday 4 July 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

27.

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the fact that the withdrawal of sweet rationing was in the nature of an experiment, he will now give an assurance that in connection with any further experiments involving the de-rationing of food, he will take particular steps at the outset as to ensure the success of the operation.

An operation the success of which can be ensured at the outset cannot be described as an experiment. My right hon. Friend dealt very fully with this subject in the Adjournment Debate on 3rd June and I cannot add to what he then said.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman allude to it as being in the nature of an experiment, and is it not a fact that, in view of the attitude adopted by the Government at the very outset of the de-rationing of sweets, namely, giving only a negligible quantity of additional raw materials, the scheme could not possibly succeed? Is it not true to say that what the Government really had in mind was adversely to affect public opinion against all forms of de-rationing? I suggest that is the case.

The hon. Gentleman illustrates what I said in my answer. My right hon. Friend did describe it as an experiment and, unfortunately, it was not successful.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether that supplementary question is not an expression of a guilty conscience?

Will the right hon. Lady confirm that a great deal of the apparent shortage is due to the fact that distributing agencies such as cinemas and race courses, etc., which previously took sweets and agreed with the Government that they would not do so during rationing, then came forward again and took them. Is not a great deal of the shortage due to redistribution methods rather than to anything else?

No, I cannot accept that. The reason is that the nation has a sweet tooth, the size of which we could not entirely assess.

Will my right hon. Friend make it quite clear that the failure of sweets de-rationing was due to completely inaccurate forecasts from people who are supposed to know the trade?

31.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that at the Cambridge fair, held on 22nd to 24th June, gambling tables were packed with high-class chocolates, given to winners; that many people, especially in the villages, have not been able to buy chocolates since rationing ended; and if he will immediately ration sweets again to establish fair shares for all.

Stallholders obtaining sweets for this purpose may only purchase their supplies from licensed retailers in the same way as any other member of the public. As regards the reimposition of rationing, I can add nothing at present to the reply given by my right hon. Friend on 22nd June to my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn).

Is the right hon. Lady aware that high-class chocolate manufacturers do not supply these people? Can she account for the huge quantity of high-class chocolate in the hands of these people? Further, is she aware that since de-rationing people in the villages hardly ever see any chocolate or the children any sweets? Cannot she stop this dilly-dallying and put sweets back on the ration?

I can only say to my hon. Friend that we have made inquiries and, as far as we can ascertain, these chocolates were obtained by legitimate means.

When the greedy have become gorged, is it not reasonable to assume that supply and demand will be reconciled? Therefore, why not leave this experiment for a few more months to see how it works out?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a week before this fair took place, the stallholders were sending touts around to retailers in the town offering fantastic prices for sweets and, for instance, offering five shillings for a packet of 20 cigarettes? Is there no means of stopping that?

Certainly, if my hon. Friend will give me details of the stall-holders concerned, we will institute proceedings.

Would my right hon. Friend agree that sweet rationing always worked smoothly and gave fair shares to everybody, and since the ending of rationing has altered that position, why should there be any doubt or delay in getting back to the former position?

35.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the de-rationing of sweets has been followed by a reduction of supplies reaching some wholesalers; and whether, in view of this, he will accelerate a decision as to whether or not sweets will once again be rationed.

Most manufacturers are distributing their supplies as fairly as possible, although some complaints have reached us. As regards the reimposition of rationing, I can add nothing at present to the reply given by my right hon. Friend on 22nd June to my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn).

We are becoming rather accustomed to the second part of my right hon. Friend's answer. Can she really assure the House that she is aware of the strong feeling and anxiety of many people on this subject, and why cannot she speed up a decision on this matter? May I also ask her whether, in specific cases where retailers' supplies have gone down drastically since sweet rationing ended, she will look into the matter if such cases are brought to her notice?

May I remind my hon. Friend of the answer I have given to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), namely, that we are now considering the matter?

38.

asked the Minister of Food why blocks of milk chocolate could not be bought at Blackpool during Whitsun week.

Milk chocolate forms only a small part of the chocolate and sugar confectionery supply, and it does not surprise me that my hon. Friend found none on sale in Blackpool during Whitsun week. Even under rationing we could not guarantee that any particular kind of chocolate would be available.

Would the right hon. Lady be surprised to know that three days afterwards when I was in Berlin there was an abundance of chocolate on the black market?

That is probably because my right hon. Friend and I are not in charge of Berlin's affairs.

Can my right hon. Friend explain why there is no chocolate of any kind either in Blackpool or anywhere else in Britain—

—either during the week or weekend or at any time since rationing ended?

My hon. Friend would agree with me that even when rationing was in force there was not an unlimited supply of chocolate. It was not possible for everybody to get their ration honoured with chocolate alone, and people therefore had to take other sweets. The same position, of course, obtains now.

Did the last answer but one by the right hon. Lady mean that she was telling the people of Blackpool that if there were another set of Ministers in the Ministry of Food, there would be milk chocolate in Blackpool?

Is not the lesson of this example of de-rationing, "Never take Lord Woolton's advice"?