HC Deb 17 July 1946 vol 425 cc1214-8
45. Air-Commodore Harvey

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements exist for the supply of bread and flour to deep-sea fishermen who have to remain at sea for periods of one to three weeks.

The Minister of Food (Mr. Strachey)

Supplies of bread, flour and ships' biscuits for deep-sea fishermen are obtained by the masters or owners from ships' stores dealers in accordance with the provisions of the Ships' Stores (Control) Order, 1942. These arrangements will continue under the bread rationing scheme.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Navy personnel are issued with white flour because the bread will not keep, anti will he see that fishermen are given equal treatment?

Mr. Strachey

I am very willing to look into that.

48. Mr. Harrison

asked the Minister of Food if he will consider increasing the rationed allowance, stated in the bread-rationing scheme, for women who are responsible for performing all the housework in the homes of families with more than three members, and thus bringing them more into line with the manual workers' scales.

74. Mr. Heathcoat Amory

asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider either increasing the proposed bread ration for children, or grading the housewife with children as a manual worker.

113. Mr. Bernard Taylor

asked the Minister of Food, in connection with the proposed bread-rationing scheme, if he will consider giving a bigger allowance to children between three and five years of age.

Mr. Strachey

As I have informed the House, I have decided to raise the allowances for children and adolescents as follows:——

Mr. Molson

Will the Minister say by how much that will reduce the estimated economy due to the rationing?

Mr. Strachey

I am quite willing to repeat, as far as I can, the exact words I used the day before yesterday——

Mr. Molson

I mean the percentage.

Mr. Strachey

Yes, the percentage. From 10 to 7 per cent.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that before the war thousands of housewives had to do without bread altogether in order to give a scant amount to their children?

49. Mr. Harrison

asked the Minister of Food whether, to enable bakers and confectioners to accurately assess the public demand, he will alter the regulation in the bread-rationing scheme that permits holders of the coupons to exchange them at any shop, to a system that requires the customer to register at one particular shop and at the same time reserve for the consumer the right to change at specified intervals, also preserving the facilities for travellers.

59. Mr. Cluse

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the widely held opinion that the rationing of bread would be greatly facilitated and queues obviated if consumers of bread were registered; and if he will take steps to do this.

Mr. Strachey

I do not consider compulsory registration desirable in view of the variety of foods included in the scheme, and because of the imminence of the holidays, when many people will be away from home. But it will greatly assist both customers and bakers if as many people as possible deposit coupon pages or sheets with their regular retailers.

Captain John Crowder

What happens if the customer is out when the baker calls?

Mr. Strachey

Exactly what happens today. Once the coupons have been deposited, it gets over that difficulty entirely.

Mr. Harrison

In coming to that decision, which is a departure from the usual practice when dealing with perishable commodities, has the Minister fully taken into consideration the inconvenience that will be caused to the door-to-door salesmen and the housewives?

Mr. Strachey

Of course, we weighed the two factors up, and we think it would be too severe and stringent a measure to impose compulsory registration.

Mr. Eden

Would it not be fair to say that registration is desirable but that it is impracticable, and is not that one of the arguments against the rationing scheme?

Mr. Strachey

No, Sir. I think compulsory registration would, on balance, be undesirable.

50. Mr. Harrison

asked the Minister of Food if he will facilitate the exchange of ordinary food points with bread coupons, or vice versa, and reduce the permissible number from eight to four.

Mr. Strachey

I regret that I cannot accept the suggestions.

Mr. Ronald Chamberlain

Is there any real reason why the Minister should not get rid of a very cumbersome piece of machinery by making it possible for housewives to take any surplus bread units and purchase points goods with them direct, or take any surplus points and purchase bread direct? Why put in this intervening machinery, which will be so cumbersome?

Mr. Strachey

We have naturally looked at that most closely, and it is a very attractive suggestion which I should very much like to be able to adopt, but it would amount to putting bread on points, and it would outweigh the whole of the rest of the points scheme to such an extent that we do not feel we could guarantee the supply position of the rest of the points foods if that was done.

Mr. Chamberlain

Does it really make any difference? Is it not only a piece of cumbersome machinery?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, it makes a difference.

Mr. Blackburn

Would the Minister bear in mind the special advisability of trying to do this for people who live alone and who have suffered rather from rationing?

Mr. Strachey

I am afraid it could not be done for any one particular section of the population.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Is the Minister aware that, generally speaking, his conciliatory attitude in regard to the mechanics of this scheme will be very widely appreciated?

66. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Minister of Food if he will consider introducing some scheme whereby charitable functions, parties and dances, etc., that are run for purposes other than private profit, will be allowed bread for refreshments when the bread rationing scheme is introduced.

Mr. Strachey

Charitable and social functions which already qualify for supplies of rationed foods will qualify for supplies of bread.

Mr. Lewis

Will that apply to functions held spasmodically by such organisations as that of the old age pensioners?

Mr. Strachey

In general, we propose to do in the case of bread the same as we have done in the case of other rationed foods.

68. Mrs. Ayrton Gould

asked the Minister of Food if he will arrange to have pages of eight B.Us. sent to local food offices O.H.M.S., post free, in order to prevent bread rationing entailing consumers in extra cost.

Mr. Strachey

I regret that I cannot make the concession asked for.

Mrs. Gould

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is going to cause considerable hardship to very poor housewives, who will be wanting to get their bread rations changed for points, and who will have to send them through the post, or go by bus to the food office?

Mr. Strachey

It is an attractive suggestion. I have consulted with my noble Friend the Postmaster-General, but he cannot see his way to do it at the moment. I will consult him again on the matter.

Mr. Chamberlain

Will not the Minister reconsider this matter of the exchange, on the lines I have ventured to suggest?

69. Mrs. Gould

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that a large number of housewives perform as heavy work as do many women manual workers, and will he consider putting housewives into the category of manual workers for the purpose of bread rationing.

Mr. Strachey

I am aware of the claims of the housewives, particularly of those with children. As I have announced in the House, I have arranged to increase the allowances for children so as to offer assistance to the housewife with children.

Mrs. Gould

Is the right. hon. Gentleman aware that the statement he made yesterday about increasing the ration will give very great satisfaction to the housewives and that, indeed, the method by which he has done it will impress the minds of housewives?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great hardship caused to women living alone, or independently with one or two relations? What is he doing for persons in that category?

Mr. Strachey

We shall see when the scheme is in operation, but I should not think that hardship will arise in those cases.

Mr. De la Bère

Will it ever come into operation?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Is the Minister aware that men living alone are quite satisfied, and cannot even cat their own rations?