HC Deb 26 January 1944 vol 396 cc690-1
55. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to reorganise and improve the distribution of fish, in view of the world shortage of meat which is impending, with the result that fish will have to be used increasingly instead of meat.

59. Mr. Reakes

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the possible shortage of meat in the future and the consequent necessity of fish becoming a substitute, he will now formulate a plan placing fresh fish on a points system or some other method under which an equitable distribution of fresh fish to the people can be secured.

Colonel Llewellin

Considerable efforts have been made by my Department to ensure the equitable distribution of the reduced quantity of fish available under war conditions. Substantial adjustments in the scheme of distribution were introduced as lately as October last and, so far as can be seen at present, no further material alteration is necessary. Supplies are shared equitably between different parts of the country, but, because of uncertain landings and the perishable nature of fresh fish, consumer rationing, by points or otherwise, is, I am afraid, impracticable.

Mr. Driberg

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that in the last few weeks scores of tons of good fish have been dumped back into the sea off the Essex coast, at Brightlingsea, while there is an acute shortage of fish at shops only a few miles inland; and does that suggest that his readjusted scheme is working satisfactorily?

Colonel Llewellin

I am not aware of that at all, and if my hon. Friend will give me particulars, I will certainly try to see that that does not happen again.

Mr. Reakes

Will the Minister regard this matter as of very serious importance, in view of the recent public statements of a possible shortage of meat and the necessity of fish as a substitute; and will he go into the matter, with a view to trying to improve the distribution of fish from the shops to the consumers?

Colonel Llewellin

The statement that was made by me did not refer quite to the effect in the immediate future. At the present moment, I have very strong hopes that we shall be able to keep up the meat ration. When I made that statement I was referring to the years after the war ended, when there will still be a shortage of meat, but, of course, I want as much fish brought into the country at the present moment as we can possibly get.

Sir A. Knox

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend realise that most people never see fish now unless they go to an aquarium?

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