HC Deb 15 February 1917 vol 90 cc783-5
74. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the hon. Member for Wilton if he is aware that the Stratford (East) Co-operative Society has had their sugar supply cut down to 16 tons per week; if he is aware that they have 41,000 members, and that amount of sugar will only allow them to sell 14 ozs. of sugar per member per week, which is much less than the minimum amount suggested by the Food Controller; if he is aware that there are many complaints from the various co-operative societies in the different parts of the country on account of them not getting their proper share of sugar; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?


The Food Controller has inquired into this case, and is informed that the society in question has received since 1st January within a very small amount of the supplies of sugar to which they are entitled under the present scheme of sugar distribution. He is not aware of any general failure on the part of co-operative societies to obtain their due proportion of the supplies which they received in 1915. As explained already, he has taken steps to provide additional supplies of sugar for districts in which the population has been materially increased since 1915.


asked the hon. Member for Wilton whether he has received representations and complaints as to the hardships and inequalities involved in the present method of sugar distribution; whether he is aware that towns whose population has recently been increased by an influx of war workers are not receiving their due proportion of supplies; whether such representations have come from Sheffield; and what action he proposes to take?


The Food Controller has received numerous communications on this subject, and he is aware, as I have stated in answer to previous questions, that districts whose population has increased during the War are in some cases experiencing a shortage of sugar supplies. He has received representations from Sheffield on this point, and, as the result of a recent visit of an inspector to the town, has arranged with the Sugar Commission for an addition to the Sheffield sugar supply proportionate to the estimated increase in the population of the town.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that they are not receiving this proportionate increase?


asked the hon. Member for Wilton what action he proposes to take to obtain fair distribution of the available supplies of sugar; whether he is aware that the monetary test operates inequitably between rich and poor and even between one class of shopkeeper and another; and whether he proposes to set up such a system of sugar rationing as will ensure to every family their share of the available supplies?


The Food Controller realises that the conditions imposed by retailers as to the purchase of other articles when selling sugar may cause hardship in particular cases. He is advised, however, that the mere prohibition of this practice, which has been adopted by retailers with a view to checking the purchase of supplies by individuals from a number of shops, would probably aggravate the present inequalities of distribution. The Food Controller is not proposing immediately to set up a system of compulsory rationing of sugar in view of the obvious administrative difficulties involved, but he is taking steps which it is hoped will remedy the inequalities referred to by the hon. Member.

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