HC Deb 28 November 1939 vol 355 cc4-6
Mr. A. V. Alexander

(by Private Notice) asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will now state the date on which it is proposed to commence the operation of rationing supplies to consumers of those commodities for which they have been registered?

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

Yes, Sir. The rationing scheme for bacon and butter will be introduced on 8th January. The ration for both commodities will he four ounces per week for every individual consumer. As I indicated in the reply which I gave on 1st November, though sugar is not included in the rationing scheme, consumers are asked to register with a retailer for sugar and to restrict their purchases to 1 lb. per head per week.

Colonel Baldwin-Webb

Is it not the fact that the decision to postpone rationing will give the greatest possible satisfaction to small traders with small staffs who will have a very busy time during the Christmas period?

Mr. T. Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the large and small retailers throughout the country will view his reply with profound dismay, and is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that since registration took place many of the retailers have been receiving less than 25 per cent. of the requirements for the fixed ration set down by the Minister to meet the actual registered cases at their establishments?

Mr. Morrison

In reply to the first Supplementary question, we appear to have struck a proper balance to the advantage of the public interest. I have received numerous representations from private traders all over the country that to introduce a scheme of this kind which would land us into Christmas week, when trade is above the normal, would be a very severe embarrassment to them. I think it is the general opinion that we should get over Christmas with as few restrictions as possible. As regards the second Supplementary question by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), I have been, and am, aware of inequalities in the allocation of these commodities in the weeks that have passed. The cause for that has been that without registration we have not been able to form an accurate picture of the consuming needs of the various localities owing to changes of populations and causes of that kind. As registration is proceeding now we hope wry shortly to be in the possession of a m rich more accurate picture of what are the needs of the various localities, and I hope before rationing is actually introduced that information will enable us to give a very much better and equitable allocation of supplies to the needs of the country.

Mr. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that retailers whose stocks have been so hopelessly short during the past fortnight will receive a much more equitable supply than they have had?

Mr. Morrison

I can guarantee that every endeavour will be made to that end.

Mr. Leonard

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that, so far as butter is concerned, the control is exercised by the first retailer, which leaves that gentleman with the power to direct where those supplies shall go?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of the fact that at the present moment it is the wholesaler by whom those supplies are allocated, and I am aware that many wholesalers are in a difficulty in allocating the supplies to retailers in a proper way. There, again, the registration of customers will help us considerably, and I hope those figures of registration will facilitate the distribution.

Mr. Thorne

What are you going to do to find out how the Members of this House will not get more than they are entitled to?

Mr. Morrison

The scheme provides for that.

Mr. Jagger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is leaving to wholesalers the power to discriminate up to next January?

Mr. Morrison

No, that does not follow.

Mr. Jagger

But it is so.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if, when he was Minister of Agriculture, he had paid more attention to the development of agriculture in this country there would be no question of any rationing?

Sir John Haslam

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether such articles as boiled ham or tinned hams will come into rationing, or will they be free?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, they will be rationed.