HC Deb 15 July 1942 vol 381 cc1231-2
51. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what conclusions have been reached regarding the payment of the bread subsidy; and if, in the interests of economy and the small producers of bread, the subsidy will be confined to them to the exclusion of large firms who, it is understood, do not desire the subsidy?

54. Mr. Mander

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the position with regard to the protest he has received against the recent withdrawal of the graded subsidy on bread; whether he is aware that this scheme is viewed with grave concern by the 23,000 small bakers in the country in general and in Wolverhampton and district in particular; and what steps he is taking to remedy the situation?

Mr. Mabane

For particulars of my Noble Friend's decision I would refer to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) on 24th June. My Noble Friend's decision to pay a subsidy of 2s. 0d. per sack on the first eight sacks of flour used weekly provides for the retention by the 15,000 smallest bakers in the country of half the amount of the subsidy which has recently been withdrawn. The new subsidy will also afford material assistance to some thousands of other small bakers who use more than eight sacks per week. I am not clear how my hon. and gallant Friend would define "small producers of bread" but I am advised that over 80 per cent. of bakers in England and Wales use not more than 25 sacks of flour per week.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Is not this a great opportunity for bringing into play in the most equitable way the means test, and preserving the small trader?

Mr. Mabane

As my hon. Friend knows, a further examination of costs is being made. The first examination showed that the subsidy was not justified, but nevertheless a reduced subsidy was continued. Perhaps I shall be able to make a further statement when the further examination of costs has been completed.

Mr. Mander

When can the hon. Gentleman make that statement, because there continues to be profound dissatisfaction all over the country among those 23,000 people?

Mr. Mabane

I could not accept that statement, nor say without notice when the further investigation will be completed.

Mr. De la Bère

Can we have an assurance that nothing further will be done against the small trader? There seems to be an idea of supporting only anything which is big. Everything small must be eliminated.

Mr. Mabane

That is not the view of the Ministry.