HC Deb 15 November 1916 vol 87 cc792-4

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if his attention has been drawn to the financial consequences, from a national point of view, of any extravagant or unnecessary consumption of imported food at the present high prices; if so, will he state if the Government will consider what effective steps can be taken to restrict extravagant consumption by selfish or thoughtless persons; (2) if he will add to his appeal for economy in the consumption of potatoes a further appeal or general economy in the consumption of all other kinds of food, in order to prevent suffering to the poor as a result of high prices and an unnecessary depletion of our food reserves; and (3) whether, if appeals for general economy in the consumption of food and other articles are not sufficiently regarded, he will consider the adoption of such measures as may be necessary in order to keep down prices and to increase the reserves of food and other necessaries in the United Kingdom?


asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware of the wasteful and deleterious effects of eating bread made from fine white flour from which during the process of milling much of the most valuable and nutritive qualities of wheat are removed and remain in the bran and other offal of wheat fed to cattle; whether, in view of the high price of bread, consideration for the pockets of the poor, and the physical and mental advantages to the people of this country which would be derived from the consumption of more nutritious and body-building bread, he will take the necessary steps to prohibit the production of fine white bread during the War; (2) whether he is aware of the nutritive qualities of maize, which, under the various names of corn (in America), mealies (in South Africa), and maize (in? other countries) forms a staple article of valuable food for millions of human beings; whether he will take the necessary steps to popularise this food with the people of this country; (3) whether he is aware of the effects of popular prejudice upon prices, consumption, and waste of food; that turnip tops are considered a table vegetable in London and rubbish in Edinburgh; that Swedish turnips in Scotland and the North of England are used as a table vegetable and in the South of England as cattle food; that eels are loathed in Edinburgh and loved in London; that haggis is adored in Scotland and detested in England; that there are many other similar local prejudices in regard to food; will he take the necessary steps by propaganda or otherwise to educate the people as to the relative values of food and the removal of prejudice; and (4) whether he is aware that rye, oats, barley, peas, and beans in various forms of milling are excellent cereals for human consumption and in nutritive qualities far exceed the finest quality of white flour made from wheat from which the most valuable qualities are eliminated; whether he is aware that it is only insular prejudice against the consumption of so-called black bread and offal consumed in other countries which prevents their use in this country: and whether he will take steps to popularise or enforce the use of these cereals during the War?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer these questions, all of which relate to the better utilisation of the supplies of food at our disposal, and I propose to deal with this matter at length in the course of to-day's sitting.

102. Sir C. HENRY

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the price of bread in France to the consumer is about the same as it was previous to the War, and if he can state what steps have been taken by the French Government to ensure this; whether, if similar provisions had been adopted in this country, the rise of 100 per cent. in the price of bread to the consumer since the War started might have been to some degree prevented; and if he will consider the desirability of resorting to some of the measures to which the French Government have had recourse?


The experience of our Allies has not been lost sight of, but the measures which it is proposed to adopt in this country cannot be expected to restrict the price of bread to the same extent as has been effected by the measures adopted in France, in view of the comparatively large percentage of her whole consumption grown at home and the much greater dependence of this country on supplies which must be purchased from abroad.


Will the hon. Gentleman answer the second part of the question?


Is it not the case that the price has been kept low in France because the French Government have British ships at Blue Book rates?


Our ships have certainly been helping the French.