HC Deb 16 December 1946 vol 431 cc1596-7
73. Major Wise

asked the Minister of Food whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about the future of the bacon ration and about the prospects for our immediate food supplies.

The Minister of Food (Mr. Strachey)

I am sorry to say that, as foreshadowed in my statement of 6th December, the bacon ration will have to be reduced from three to two oz. on 5th January next. This is the effect of the acute world shortage of cereals and can only be remedied as that shortage is overcome.

I have one piece of better news. The non-priority milk allowance to the ordinary consumer, which last Autumn we feared might not be maintained through the winter at even two pints, can be increased from two to two and a half pints on Sunday next, 22nd December. The corresponding increase last winter could not be made till 17th February. I should like to take this opportunity, on behalf, I am sure, of the whole House and the whole country, to thank the British farmers for their wonderful work in milk production which has made this increase possible. But I must add one word of warning. In making the increase eight weeks earlier than last year, we are running the risk that in particular areas, above all, no doubt, in Scotland, there may be difficulties in meeting it in full, especially if we have severe weather. But it did not seem right to delay this relief to the country as a whole because of possible difficulties in individual areas.

Mr. Mitchison

Has the Minister been able to consider the possibility of a supplementary allowance of milk for old age pensioners?

Mr. Strachey

We did consider all these possible alternatives, but we thought that an increase of half a pint in the general allowance would be most acceptable.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the Minister aware that it is not so much a question of a world shortage of cereals as of a world shortage of dollars, and would it not be better to spend more on food and less on films?

Mr. Strachey

The difficulty of obtaining cereals is one of supply and not of dollars.

Mr. De la Bère

Is it not one of dollars as well?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Has the Minister any idea how long the reduction in the bacon ration is likely to continue?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir, I cannot give any date.

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