§ 46. Mr. Kirby
asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to prepare for a period of national emergency and to combat existing malnutrition among the 1753 poorer section of the community, particularly children, and in order to meet public opinion upon the subject, he will consider setting up in the near future a Ministry of Food charged to ensure the maintenance of adequate food supplies in times of war and the ready distribution of surpluses in times of peace at low prices to the poor?
§ Sir J. Simon
As the hon. Member is aware, the Food (Defence Plans) Department of the Board of Trade is charged with the duty of preparing plans with a view, inter alia, to the establishment of a Ministry of Food immediately on the occurrence of an emergency. I do not think that the establishment of such a Ministry as a permanent part of our peacetime organisation would be justified, either for purposes of defence or for the other purposes referred to in the question.
§ Mr. Kirby
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the disparity of prices between the point of production and the point of distribution, and of the amount of wastage of perishable foodstuffs that are produced and never used; and is he prepared to give the House an outline of the plans which the Government have in mind in case of a national emergency?
§ Sir J. Simon
A national emergency is rather a different question. I have answered the question of the hon. Member as to the arguments for establishing now a Ministry of Food.