HC Deb 04 April 1917 vol 92 cc1267-9
49. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any resolutions from any local authorities asking the Government to fix the price of bread at 6d. per 4–lb. loaf, and if it entails a loss the charge to be a war charge borne by the Government; if he is aware of the discontent and unrest that are being created in consequence of the price of all commodities; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?


I have been asked to reply. Resolutions of the nature referred to in the question have been received from a small number of co-operative societies and trades councils, but not, so far as I am aware, from any local municipal authority. I am aware of the difficulties produced by the increased price of commodities, but I hesitate to believe that there is any general unwillingness to share in the common sacrifice in- evitably resulting from existing war conditions. I have already informed the House that the question of fixing the price of wheat, flour, and bread is now being considered by the Government.


(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Food Controller if he is satisfied with the voluntary diminution in the public consumption of bread, or if he desires further economy in that direction?


A further reduction in the consumption of bread and flour, and the avoidance of all waste of either, have now become absolutely essential both for the civilian and military population. There is no other article of food in the use of which it is so important to exercise economy at the present time.


Is the bread ration of 4 lbs. per head per week to be cut down, or ought it to be cut down?


No, Sir. The proposed voluntary ration of bread is intended to be an average, and it is left to the general public to observe the average in the spirit of the appeal. It is common knowledge that in the case of agricultural and other workers the normal consumption of bread always is and must be more than the amount suggested.


What substitutes which would lessen the consumption of bread are suggested by the Department, or is it intended that there should be a reduction in the total consumption of food by the people?


I do not propose to suggest by way of answer to a question in this House all the various substitutes that might be adopted for wheat and bread. Of course, the hon. Member is aware that a good many other cereals enter now into the constitution of the loaf, and it is very desirable that other cereals where possible should be substituted for flour of wheat in the ordinary domestic economy. It is hoped in the case of the well-to-do classes, who do not normally consume as much bread, that they will abstain still further from their ordinary allowance of bread, so as to render more bread available for those for whom it is most essential.


Has my hon. Friend had his attention drawn to the normal wastage in the present quality of bread supplied owing to it crumbling up and people being unable to use it?


Has not the Ministry of Food taken into account the great waste which still goes on in the use of cereals for brewing?


Can the hon. Gentleman say whether a fresh rationing Order is about to be issued to-night?


No, Sir, I am not in a position to state that any fresh rationing proposals are to be made for domestic observance, but there is about to be issued shortly an Order relating to hotels, clubs, and restaurants in which certain rationing provisions will be included?


As this is a matter of most vital importance in connection with the food of the people, may I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that there are hundreds of thousands of acres of idle land in Ireland capable of growing wheat and plenty of people there to till the land and grow wheat?


That does not arise out of this question.

Brigadier-General CROFT

Is it not a fact that there are no more cereals available for the brewing industry?


Yes, Sir; that is so. The amount of malt produced for this purpose can in no case exceed what is required for the now limited output of beer.


May I point out—


This question has been frequently asked, and cannot be repeated over and over again.

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