HC Deb 11 September 1941 vol 374 cc307-8
Mr. Gordon Macdonald (by Private Notice)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can now state the policy of his Department regarding the distribution of any further consignments of oranges that may be available, and whether any special provision is likely to be made for children?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Major Lloyd George)

A scheme for distributing any oranges that may be available has been prepared and the intention is that children under six should receive priority. When supplies are not sufficient to cover the whole country at once, distribution will be limited to one or more areas in rotation, and for the first seven days after delivery in the shops the oranges will be available only for the children, at a rate not exceeding one pound per week. After this initial period of seven days, the remaining oranges may be sold without restriction, but retailers will be encouraged to give preference to children and to schools.

Mr. Macdonald

In view of the fact that there is to be a limitation of seven days in certain areas, will not that mean that adults will be receiving some of the oranges? Would it not be much better to extend these areas so that children and not adults will have the oranges?

Major Lloyd George

The way in which distribution will take place will depend on the amount available. There are nine ports which serve these areas, but obviously the question must depend on the quantities available.

Mr. Thorne

Will the Parliamentary Secretary use his powers to prevent any district obtaining 250,000 oranges, which happened in the case of Southend a short time ago?

Major Lloyd George

I should not like to use my powers to prevent anyone obtaining oranges providing they are available. Our purpose is to make this scheme as equitable as possible so that children shall have a priority share.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Would it not be better to send the oranges direct to maternity and child-welfare clinics, and to infant schools and hospitals, because by adopting a scheme of that kind there could not possibly be a surplus for private distribution?

Major Lloyd George

There is a difficulty there in regard to distribution. Not everybody would be prepared to distribute the oranges, and it would mean a lot of work for people which, I think, would be quite unnecessary. Not everyone attends clinics, and, therefore, I think on the whole our system is the better.

Mr. Mathers

Is it intended that during the first week the oranges will be sold only on production of a child's ration book?

Major Lloyd George

They will be sold on the production of a child's ration book, and the sale must be entered in the book.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Will there be any restriction on price?

Major Lloyd George

Yes, Sir.

Sir P. Hurd

May I have an assurance that no oranges will be distributed unless they have juice in them?