HC Deb 13 October 1943 vol 392 cc879-80
60. Mr. Driberg

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will consider withdrawing the catering licence of any hotel or other catering establishment which attempts to introduce discrimination based on colour amongst its customers?

Mr. Mabane

My Noble Friend fully sympathises with the hon. Member's desire to prevent discrimination in the matter of food supplies against any person on grounds of race or colour. He is not at present prepared to take action in the manner suggested by my hon. Friend, but he will bear the suggestion in mind and, in the light of further experience, will consider whether any new food regulation is needed in order to secure that all persons resident in the United Kingdom can obtain the food they require without discrimination.

Mr. Driberg

Can we take it that that reply, which is satisfactory so far as it goes, is intended to convey a warning to establishments which attempt to offer these disgusting affronts to decent citizens?

Mr. Mabane

I think that if the reply is read carefully its intention will be clear.

Earl Winterton

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is intense feeling in the matter among all parties in the House, and that since attention has been called to one instance other instances have been brought forward, and will he accelerate a decision as to whether it is desirable to take action? There have been at least half-a-dozen cases already.

Mr. Mabane:

The Noble Lord will be aware that there has been no case brought to notice in connection with food. This is a different matter from a case connected with hotel accommodation which is not the concern of the Ministry of Food.

Mr. McEntee

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether local food authorities have in fact power to refuse to renew a licence if a case like this comes to notice?

Mr. Mabane

That is a different question, and I should like to have notice of it.

Sir Irving Albery

While expressing no disagreement with the sentiment behind this Question, may I ask whether it is not quite outside the province of the Parliamentary Secretary's Ministry to take action of this kind?

Mr. Mabane

Certainly, in so far as such case is of a general character. We are merely concerned with food regulations. The answer shows that there is here no breach of the food regulations.