HC Deb 19 March 1942 vol 378 cc1669-71
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Major Lloyd George)

It has been decided to revoke the Acquisition of Food (Excessive Quantities) Order, 1939, and to replace it by a new Order. The existing Order was made before the war, before any food was rationed. The new Order which will shortly he made, will provide that any food which is rationed or point rationed, as well as food which the consumer has produced or made himself, may be held without any restriction provided, of course, that the stocks have been legally acquired. Consequently, any person who is able to put by a proportion of his permitted ration of any food will be entitled to do so without limit or restriction. The Order will also provide that in the case of unrationed foods, the consumer may hold stocks provided that they do not exceed an amount reasonably necessary for consumption over a period of four weeks, or such longer period as may be justified if, in the view of the court which has to determine the question, circumstances of any exceptional character exist.

Colonel Arthur Evans

May I remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman of the appeal which Lord Woolton made previous to the outbreak of war, or in the early days of September, 1939? That was an appeal to the householders throughout the country to store a certain quantity of tinned food. Is it illegal for that store still to be held and if it is, what means should be taken to dispose of it?

Major Lloyd George

The Order did not come into effect until 31st August, 1939, and therefore stocks acquired before that could not be affected by the Order.

Sir J. Mellor

Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman make it perfectly clear that the storing of food legitimately acquired is not only permissible, but is actively to be encouraged?

Major Lloyd George

I think the terms of the statement which I have just made will make the position pretty clear. The Order was originally introduced before any rationing was in being and it is obvious that after rationing there could not be any large acquisitions of rationed foods.

Mr. Thorne

Is the Minister aware that hundreds of thousands of wage-earners have not sufficient food to store anything?

Mr. Levy

In future, before Orders are made, will due and adequate consideration be given to them so as to prevent something which is very distasteful to Parliament—that is bringing in an Order, and then, within a few weeks, cancelling it and bringing in another which is contradictory and diametrically opposed to it?

Major Lloyd George

The original Order was brought in two and a half years ago. No notice, apparently, was taken of it and the public were not worried about it, until about three weeks ago. As soon as we discovered that there was general apprehension, we immediately altered it.

Mr. Sorensen

Was that not partly due to the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman?