HC Deb 04 August 1943 vol 391 cc2291-2
47. Mr. Ralph Etherton

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in the case of those British Restaurants which have been created by local authorities other than in accordance with paragraph 3 of the Ministry of Food's circular, dated 15th November, 1940, the assets of the undertakings, including buildings and plant subject to the usual amortisation arrangements, are vested in the local authorities or in the Ministry; and, if the latter, whether, in regard to the management and other dealings with the restaurants, the local authorities are to be regarded as the Ministry's agents?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Mr. Mabane)

As indicated in the circular to which my hon. Friend refers, the assets in British Restaurant undertakings created at the expense of my Department remain the property of the Ministry. In the establishment of British Restaurants, local authorities are not agents of the Ministry; they act under "requirements" imposed by the Local Authorities (Community Kitchens and Sale of Food in Public Air Raid Shelters) Order, S.R. & O. No. 103 of 1941.

Mr. Etherton

Is it not a fact that the whole risk, both in regard, to capital expenditure and as to management, lies on the Government; and is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave one reply on 2nd February and he himself gave four different replies this year and towards the end of last year, and that none of them are consistent? Cannot the hon. Gentleman clarify the position by making a comprehensive statement?

Mr. Mabane

I should not have said that that was a correct interpretation of this reply.