HC Deb 21 February 1939 vol 344 cc176-9
6. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he intends to appoint committees to advise upon the supply, control, and distribution, in the United Kingdom in time of war of meat, dairy produce, vegetables and eggs, in a manner similar to that to be followed by the recently-appointed committee on cereals; and whether such committees will, in the event of war, assume control of such products?

Mr. Stanley

It is not proposed to set up for the commodities named committees comparable with the Cereals Advisory (Defence) Committee, to which the hon. Member refers. Advisory committees have, however, been set up in connection with livestock and meat. It is also proposed to set up advisory committees with regard to butter, cheese, milk and eggs. In the event of war the responsibility for exercising control would rest with the Board of Trade or the Ministry of Food, as the case may be.

Mr. Stewart

Can my right hon. Friend explain why he considered it necessary to appoint a control committee for cereals, but not for these other products?

Mr. Stanley

The cereals problem is much bigger and wider, and in the last War it was found necessary to have a different kind of organisation to deal with that.

Mr. T. Williams

Will these committees be able to get any experience by noting carefully to-day the methods of distribution in peace time?

Mr. Stanley

The committees will be largely constituted of people who are experienced in modern methods of distribution.

Mr. Williams

Will they be active members of the committees, or are the members merely appointed in reserve in case war should break out?

Mr. Stanley

No, Sir. As well as that, they are constantly advising on the production and any necessary alteration of the plans.

8. Mr. De la Bère

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to ensure that certain of the leading milling combines are not receiving unfair aid from the Government by reason of their knowledge of the Government's intentions, which is imparted to them and which is not available to the smaller men, who are consequently at times at a disadvantage?

Mr. Stanley

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the arrangement made with the three large milling concerns undertaking the custody of the Government wheat reserve, whereby they take over and mill the wheat when this is necessary to prevent deterioration. These concerns undertook this work at the request of the Government and are rendering a valuable public service in turning over and accepting the Government wheat. The decision to replace any particular part of the Government reserve is taken by the Food (Defence Plans) Department only after a report has been received from the firm of cargo superintendents appointed to oversee the condition of the wheat and after consideration by the Advisory Committee appointed to assist the Department. The chairman of this Advisory Committee is himself an independent miller of recognised standing in the trade.

Mr. De la Bère

Does my right hon. Friend realise that some of these strings are carelessly and loosely tied, and will he take steps to tie them more tightly. Does he not realise that it is no use going round and round like mice in a toy treadmill?

Mr. Stanley

I fully agree with my hon. Friend that it is no use going round and round like mice, but it does not seem to me that that point arises from the answer I have given.

10. Mr. E. J. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade the name of the Chief Divisional Food Officer for Wales and the salary and retaining fee paid to him?

9. Mr. Sexton

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total number of Chief Divisional Food Officers he has appointed; the retaining fees or salaries now payable to each; the districts to be served; and the residences of such officers?

Mr. Stanley

Apart from Sir Reginald Ford (on whose position I am answering another question), the only other Chief Divisional Food Officer is Sir James Peck, who has been the Chief Divisional Food Officer for Scotland, stationed in Edinburgh, for the last two years. Being a civil servant, he receives no retaining fee or additional salary for his work on food defence preparations. I should add that since 16th January last Sir James Peck has been working at the London Headquarters of the Food (Defence Plans) Department as Deputy-Director. There is no Chief Divisional Food Officer for Wales, but two Divisional Food Officers for North and South Wales respectively.

Mr. Williams

Where are their headquarters?

Mr. Stanley

One has headquarters at Cardiff and the other at Carnarvon.

Mr. Williams

What are their names?

Mr. Stanley

The one for South Wales is Sir Thomas Jones, and the other, for North Wales, is Major W. Lloyd Griffith.

Mr. Williams

May I ask the salary?

Mr. Stanley

That arises on another question.

Mr. A. Jenkins

Is the food officer of Wales to live in that country or in some foreign capital?

12. Mr. Bellenger

asked the President of the Board of Trade what appointments in the food department of his Ministry are based on a retaining fee for services rendered; and will he give particulars?

Mr. Stanley

Apart from the Chief Divisional Food Officer for London and the Home Counties, the only appointments for which retaining fees are paid are those of divisional food officers. For some years my Department have had the services of divisional food officers to whom retaining fees have been paid. When the Food (Defence Plans) Department was established at the end of 1936 these officers were transferred to that Department and additional appointments were made for Scotland bringing the total number up to 18. The amount of the fee is 100 guineas in 14 cases and 50 guineas in the case of the remaining four.

Mr. Bellenger

Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT further details as to any changes?

Mr. Stanley

I gave an answer a year ago and circulated the whole of the details then. I will see what changes there have been since and whether it is necessary to circulate them.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Did not the answer indicate that the Scottish Food Officer has been employed for a considerable time in London on another job?

Mr. Stanley

In answer to another question I said that the Chief Divisional Officer for Scotland was temporarily working in the Food (Defence Plans) Department.

Mr. Davidson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when that officer will again undertake his duties on behalf of Scotland?