HC Deb 30 July 1941 vol 373 cc1406-7
72. Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, with a view to safeguarding the interests of small shopkeepers, he will take steps, by means of a system of licences or otherwise, to prevent large retail trading concerns from selling foodstuffs of a category different from those normally sold in their premises prior to the outbreak of war?

Major Lloyd George

Under the Food Control Committees (Local Distribution) Order, 1939, a licence from the local food control committee is required before a retailer can sell any of the 32 principal foods specified in the Order. Normally the issue of such licences is confined to retailers who were selling the goods con- cerned prior to the outbreak of war. The administration of the Order is, however, in the hands of the local food control committees who have been instructed in considering applications for new or extended licences to have special regard to the convenience of the public. My noble Friend sees no reason to amend the existing instruction.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware of a feeling that the policy of the Government in relation to distribution tends to favour the large retailer against the small retailer?

Major Lloyd George

That has often been said, but with regard to the Question which I am answering, the matter is in the hands of the local food control committee which is a local body, whose instructions are to have the greatest regard for the interests of the consumers. I think there are 10 consumers on the body, and it is in their hands as to whether they do this or that.

Mr. De la Bère

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend always bear in mind the case of the small shopkeeper, who really has had a very difficult time?

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is the Minister aware that many people are surprised to see notices in Woolworth's windows asking the public to register with them for sugar and other commodities?

Major Lloyd George

If they have a licence they are entitled to do this. The small man has to be protected, but surely everybody is equally entitled to protection.