HC Deb 20 February 1918 vol 103 cc732-3

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether his Department is aware that quantities of food in the shape of wild birds, such as teal, plover, and wild duck, are available for shooting in or about the estuary of the River Blackwater, Essex; whether the Treasury are aware that the local fishermen have received an Order from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for night shooting, which they will be unable to carry out unless permits are given them to procure the food necessary during their absence for shooting and fishing, as they are often away from home three days a week; and, seeing that food permits are granted by the Customs to the bargemen using the estuary of the Blackwater, whether similar permits will at once be granted by the Customs to the fishermen concerned?

Mr. BALDWIN (Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury)

The Treasury has no information on the matters mentioned in the first parts of the question. The form to which the hon. Member refers is one which is issued by the Customs as agents for the Food Controller. It is intended only for issue to sea-going vessels; and the Board of Customs and Excise inform me that, without the approval of the Food Controller, they would not be justified in directing its issue to fishermen who pursue their avocations entirely in what are to all intents and purposes inland waters. Steps are being taken to obtain the Food Controller's decision without delay. I may add that the barges to which the hon. Member refers by way of contrast do not trade exclusively within the estuary of the Blackwater. They are sea-going vessels, and, as such, properly entitled to the form.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that the period of absence of fishermen from home is as long as the period of absence of the men who are in the barges, and does he not realise that the amount of food which might be obtained if these men were facilitated would be very useful indeed to the country at the present time?


I have no doubt my hon. Friend's remarks will be carefully borne in mind by the Food Controller in giving his decision.

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