§ 31. Mr. KING
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to a recent prosecution for food hoarding at Saffron Walden which failed, as the magistrates held that tea is not a food; whether he is aware that other magistrates have convicted for the hoarding of tea; and whether he will issue an Amending Older to make clear the intention of Orders issued, so that the public and justices may know whether tea, coffee, and other beverages come within the Food Orders?
§ Mr. LOUGH
asked whether he has noticed that at Saffron Walden and Finchley the magistrates have refused to convict under summons for hoarding tea on the grounds that it is not an article of food any more than wine or other manufactured drinks; and whether the Ministry intend to appeal against these judgments so as to obtain an authoritative legal decision or to withdraw their scheme for tea control, as the increased quantities which the Government are now bringing into the country appear to make it unnecessary?
§ Mr. CLYNES
My attention has been called to this decision, and I am aware that other magistrates have taken a contrary view. The question of an appeal is under consideration, and it may be desirable to amend the Food Hoarding Order so as to bring tea specifically within its provisions. In any case there is no intention of withdrawing the Government scheme for the control of tea.
§ Mr. BILLING
Is it the fact that magistrates can decide against the Orders of the Ministry of Food and their Regulations, and is it proposed by the Ministry to insist on its Regulations despite any decision given in any Court?
§ Mr. CLYNES
The magistrates have not decided against the Orders of the Food Ministry. The magistrates have given an interpretation, and, as my reply has indicated, we have now under consideration the question of including tea as one of the articles under the Regulations of the Food Hoarding Order.
§ 33. Mr. LOUGH
asked whether the forms required for claims for drawback on the price of tea under the new scheme cannot be printed and ready before a month; whether the railway certificates under which the tea is to be carried free are also not available; and, in these circumstances, whether the operation of the scheme will be postponed until the necessary preparations for working it are completed?
§ Mr. CLYNES
The forms required for claims for drawback on the price under the new scheme are in the printers' hands and will be ready at a very early date; the railway conveyances notes are available at the offices of the Tea Control Committee; and there is no intention to postpone the operation of the scheme.