§ 15. Sir W. ESSEX
asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to secure to the poor a more equitable share of the available stock of sugar and potatoes, he intends by compulsory rationing these foodstuffs to adjust the present inequality of distribution?
As regards potatoes the Food Controller has already issued an appeal to those who can afford substitutes to abstain entirely from their consumption. He has also made five potatoless days per week obligatory in public eating places. The remaining supplies are now too small to justify the compulsory rationing of this commodity. As regards sugar, it is proposed, by reducing the voluntary ration to ½ lb. per head per week and by allowing to the distributers a more liberal margin over their actual requirements on this basis, to secure more equitable distribution among consumers.
§ Sir W. ESSEX
Can my hon. Friend state how they are to organise the distribution of this half pound of sugar to ensure each person, however poor, getting the proper quantity?
The hon. Member is fully aware of the difficulties of obtaining an equitable distribution of sugar. That has been under the consideration of a Departmental Committee who have recently presented their Report, which is now under consideration.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
When will we have a chance of seeing the Report and discussing in this House the recommendations of this Committee?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the effort to secure 1660 voluntary rationing of sugar has completely broken down. and that although there is an Order that no grocer is to stipulate that a certain quantity of other articles is to be bought to secure sugar, nevertheless that is done in practice, because people find it impossible to obtain even half a pound of sugar per head unless at the same time they give orders for other articles?
If conditional sales of sugar are still being made, it is contrary to the orders of the Food Controller, and if the hon. Member will give the necessary information prosecution will take place. As regards the inequality of distribution, I have already stated that the Report of the Committee who have been considering this matter is now under consideration, and steps no doubt will be taken on the lines, or some of the lines, they have advocated. [An HoN. MEMBER: "Why?" I want to make it perfectly clear to the House that compulsory rationing, either of this or any other commodity, is not ruled out of account. With all its drawbacks it may become necessary, and in that event it will be adopted.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that no overt stipulation is made to purchase other articles, yet in practice people find that they are unable to obtain sugar unless they happen to purchase other articles at the same time.
§ Colonel Sir C. SEELY
Will the hon. Gentleman give special consideration to the difficulty that has arisen in the case of a munition area where there is an increase of population, where sugar is run on the old basis?
Very particular attention has been given to the problem, and in the case of at least sixty munition centres a special allotment has been made by the Sugar Commission to meet the increased requirements.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Can the hon. Gentleman say what is the percentage allotted this year by the Sugar Commission? Is it 50 or 60 per cent. of the amount allowed in 1915?
I decline to make any prophecy on the matter. At present we are allotting 50 per cent. of the 1915 allowance.