HC Deb 23 July 1941 vol 373 cc894-5
64. Mr. Hewlett

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will instruct his local officers to make inquiries and report to him on the social consequences to very small shopkeepers whose business will be adversely affected by the proposal to deprive them of supplies unless they can prove that their rationed customers number more than 25?

67. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can give an estimate of the total number of shops in this country distributing rationed foodstuffs; and how many of them are likely to close consequent upon the new limitation of 25 customers, bearing in mind that customers who cannot purchase their rations in a shop will buy their other requirements where the rations are provided?

71. Mr. Doland

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that the North of England Wholesale Grocers' Association have estimated that in four towns in their area 1,200 small shopkeepers will be faced with ruin by his decision that shops with fewer than 25 registered customers are not to receive rationed supplies; and as, by the possibility of further rationing schemes for food supplies, this order will affect thousands more small traders, will he reconsider his decision?

Major Lloyd George

There are approximately 270,000 shops engaged in the distribution of rationed foodstuffs. As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kettering (Captain Profumo) yesterday, the food executive officers have now been given discretion to review any individual case in which they consider that the rule requiring a minimum of 25 registrations would cause special hardship to the public or to the trader concerned. I cannot accept the view that any genuine food shop will be forced to close, but there is a clear evidence that some retailers have obtained registrations with the sole object of securing rationed food for themselves, their families and friends on wholesale terms. I see no reason why this abuse of the rationing system, which involves a great waste of transport and labour, should be allowed to continue.