HC Deb 19 March 1917 vol 91 cc1526-9
25. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he is aware that people in all parts of the country are under the impression that there is sufficient sugar to supply each family with three-quarters of a pound per head per week; if he is aware that in consequence of so much sugar being used for making various mineral waters and sweetstuffs there is not sufficient sugar to supply each family for domestic purposes with three quarters of a pound per head; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?


As the hon. Member is, no doubt, now aware, the Food Controller on Friday last made an Order further restricting the amount of sugar which may be used in manufactures from 50 per cent. to 40 per cent. of the amounts used in 1915. The sugar so saved will be available for domestic purposes. The issue of sugar by the Royal Commission, apart from that directly issued for manufacturing purposes, represents an allowance of ¾lb. per head of the population. There is, however, evidence to show that in many cases this quantity is not actually made available for domestic consumption, and a searching investigation is now being undertaken with a view to a more even distribution of the sugar supply.


May I ask whether, when referring to sugar used for manufacturing, that includes sugar for preserving fruit?


Yes; it applies to sugar used for preserving fruit in factories. I think the hon. Member is anticipating a question he is about to put.

Sir J. D. REES

What is the limitation of sugar for the use of fruit growers for the purpose of making jam?


I should require notice of that.


Can the hon. Gentleman say how many thousands of tons of sugar are in this country stored up under the direct supervision of the Sugar Commission?


I have not a sufficiently mathematical brain to reply to such a question without notice.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he will state what steps are being taken to assure an adequate supply of sugar for preserving the fruit crop of the country?


It has been arranged with the Royal Commission on the Sugar Supply to continue as far as possible during the coming season the full allowance of sugar made last year to jam manufacturers; this arrangement, however, does not apply to the preservation of imported fruit. As regards the allocation of sugar to private persons, I cannot add anything to the answer which I gave the hon. Member on 1st March.


Will the hon. Gentleman say what is the position of any private householder who husbands sugar for this purpose and who may have it confiscated?


It is wholly impossible at present to say what the national supply of sugar will be at the time when fruit is usually preserved, and the Food Controller is not prepared to commit himself. I may, however, inform the hon. Member that a great deal of fruit is preserved excellently without the use of sugar at all.


Will the Food Controller do his best to allow private persons to have sugar for preserving fruit?


The Food Controller is always doing his best, and certainly an effort will be made, assuming that sugar is available for the purpose, when the time comes, to allow domestic preservers to have a supply.

28. Mr. BYRNE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he will say when proposals will be made for an equal distribution of sugar in Ireland; if he is aware that in many towns and cities children are being deprived of this necessary food; and if to ensure an equal distribution of three-quarters of a pound per head per week, he will cause-sugar tickets to be issued for every person?


Inspectors of the Ministry of Food, who recently visited Ireland, reported that the distribution of sugar in Ireland was, on the whole, fairly satisfactory. In certain centres the distribution to the public is imperfect, and the Food Controller is steadily endeavouring to improve it. He hopes to discuss the whole question with Members of the House on Wednesday next. I have already pointed out the objections to a ticket system, the adoption of which would not —as German experience shows—necessarily solve this problem.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he is aware that certain large stores and shopkeepers in the West End of London are supplying customers with unusual and excessive quantities of sugar and other articles; if shopkeepers are permitted by the Food Controller to supply, as was done by one West End firm last week, one family order to a house in New Cavendish Street with 14lbs. loaf sugar,. 14lbs. Demerara sugar, 14lbs. ranulated sugar, 7 lbs. castor sugar, 14lbs. moist sugar, 28 lbs. tapioca, 28 lbs. rice, 28 lbs. lentils, and 28 lbs. split peas: and if this is not prohibited by Regulations at present in force, will steps be taken immediately to prevent such distribution of supplies?


The Food Controller intends to deal drastically with the hoarding of all articles of food by an Order to be issued shortly. Efficient action in these cases can only be taken if definite and specific information is furnished.


If the hon. Gentleman is furnished with the name of the firm, will he order an inspection of its books to be made for that week, to see if this statement is correct; and, if so, will he take action?


Yes, I will. And in every case where definite information has already been furnished to me the necessary investigation has taken place.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman how he determines, in a case like this, where over 70 lbs. of sugar has been ordered, whether it is ordered for a limited period or for a longer period? Is there a restriction on what can be ordered for any particular week?


As I am not prepared to admit the hon. Gentleman's premises, I am not prepared to admit his conclusions. The accuracy of these facts has yet to be demonstrated.


Is there a restriction on the amount that can be ordered for any particular period?

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